Arsenal Players Vote On New Captains, Says Holding

Arsenal’s players celebrate on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium in London on September 22, 2019. Arsenal won the game 3-2. Tolga AKMEN / AFP

 

Arsenal manager Unai Emery has asked his players to vote for their preferred choices as captain as he rebuilds his five-strong leadership group, according to defender Rob Holding.

Emery introduced a pool of five captains following his appointment last year but out of his original choices, Laurent Koscielny, Petr Cech and Aaron Ramsey have left the club.

Midfielder Granit Xhaka has so far worn the armband in the Premier League this season but is yet to convince in the role and was jeered by his own fans during the weekend win over Aston Villa, while the peripheral Mesut Ozil is the only other member of the initial five still at the club.

Holding revealed that Spanish coach Emery recently conducted a poll of the dressing room.

“He likes his five captains. We all did a vote the other week so we’ll see what happens and see who gets named,” said Holding.

“It was just write names down and then give them to the manager and he will go through them obviously with his input and we’ll see what happens.

“I have no idea (when an announcement will be made), but there are a lot of leaders in that team who are helping each other out and pushing each other on.”

Arsenal have been repeatedly criticised for a perceived lack of leadership, dating back to the reign of Arsene Wenger.

Out-of-favour Ozil was named captain for Tuesday’s League Cup win over Nottingham Forest before passing the responsibility to centre-back Holding when he was substituted.

While he was unwilling to reveal his choice of skipper, Holding described Xhaka as “a great leader” and also praised the influence of experienced close-season signing David Luiz.

Asked if Arsenal have more leaders than critics believe, Holding said: “For sure. You can see it in training. The way David Luiz has come in and when he is talking in front of the group he speaks really well.”

Holding marked his return from a nine-month injury lay-off by scoring just seconds after taking the armband from Ozil in the 5-0 win over Forest.

And the 24-year-old has aspirations of performing the role again.

“I would love to be a captain and being captain of Arsenal is unbelievable,” he said. “It would be a great feeling.”

AFP

FIFA Reduces Players’ Loan Per Club To Eight

FIFA Bans Ex-Zambian Football Chief Bwalya Over Bribery Allegations
File

 

FIFA has agreed steps that will limit the number of players clubs can send out on loan from next season and will also limit the amount of money paid to agents in commissions, world football’s governing body announced on Wednesday.

In a statement, FIFA said it had taken “a series of key steps to protect the integrity of the system and prevent abuses” following a meeting of its Stakeholders Committee.

From next season, the number of international loans out and in permitted per club will be limited to eight, with that figure dropping progressively to six by the 2022/23 season. The number of players that can be loaned between the same two clubs will be capped at three.

However, the cap will only be applied to players aged over 21, or “non club-trained” players aged 21 and under.

The measures are aimed at curtailing “abusive and excessive practices”, with FIFA citing the hoarding of players by clubs and the distortion of competition when teams bring in several players on loan from a bigger club with whom they have a close relationship.

“Players’ development is suffering as they are moved from one club to another with no clear career plan. The current loan system has facilitated player hoarding with clubs putting numerous players on their books and then loaning them out to other clubs,” FIFA said in a confidential document seen by AFP.

The measures appear to be aimed at clubs such as Chelsea, who have habitually had vast numbers of players out on loan in recent seasons.

Monaco have as many as 18 players currently loaned out, including seven at Belgian side Cercle Brugge.

The recommendations will be endorsed at the upcoming FIFA Council meeting in Shanghai, scheduled for October 24.

However, they will not immediately apply to domestic loans, with the document stating that member associations will have three years in order to implement rules on a loan system “in line with FIFA principles”.

Meanwhile, in an effort to curb the amount of money going out of the game and into the pockets of agents, FIFA stakeholders also agreed to limit commissions as “conflicts of interest plague football’s transfer system”.

As a result, a selling club will not have to pay more than 10 percent of a transfer fee received to an agent acting on their behalf.

Agents representing a player will be entitled to a maximum of three percent of that player’s total remuneration and another three percent for representing the buying club.

In 2016, Mino Raiola was paid 27 million euros for his role in Paul Pogba’s transfer from Juventus to Manchester United for a then world-record fee of over 100 million euros.

The new measures are designed to limit “financial incentive of agents to engineer a possible transfer” and to create “more transparent and objective forms of remuneration”, the document stated.

“Certain measures will certainly not please some agents, but there was a consensus on these measures and there have been discussions going back more than a year,” a FIFA official told journalists at the organisation’s Zurich headquarters.

“This is an important step towards making transfers more moral.”

The measures will also be endorsed at the FIFA Council in Shanghai.

AFP

FIFA Bans Eight Players, Agent For Life Over Match-Fixing

FIFA Bans Ex-Zambian Football Chief Bwalya Over Bribery Allegations
File

 

FIFA issued eight-lifetime bans to current and former players and an agent on Wednesday after they were found guilty of match manipulation.

Former Sierra Leone captain Ibrahim Kargbo and ex-Trinidad and Tobago defender Keyeno Thomas were among those suspended from all football-related activities over attempts to rig matches at international level.

World football’s governing body also banned former players from Benin, Afghanistan and Cuba, as well as Zimbabwean agent Kudzanai Shaba.

READ ALSO: AFCON U17: Guinea Reach Finals After Beating Nigeria 10-9 On Penalties

Kenyan defender George Owino Audi received a 10-year ban and a fine of 15,000 Swiss francs (13,165 euros).

FIFA said it opened disciplinary proceedings after a vast investigation into various international matches that Singaporean Wilson Raj Perumal, a convicted match-fixer, had attempted to manipulate for betting purposes.

“This large-scale investigation was conducted by FIFA over several years through its integrity department and in cooperation with the relevant stakeholders and authorities,” read a FIFA statement.

AFP

Salah Outshines Other African Players As Leading Scorer In Europe

Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah (R) celebrates after scoring the opening goal from the penalty spot during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Liverpool in southern England on January 12, 2019. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Mohamed Salah became the leading English Premier League scorer this season after netting twice for Liverpool in a dramatic 4-3 triumph over Crystal Palace at the weekend.   

The Egyptian superstar has notched 16 goals, two more than Gabonese Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal and England sharpshooter Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur.

It was a profitable day for African attackers at Anfield with Senegalese Sadio Mane also scoring for league leaders Liverpool.

England

MOHAMED SALAH, SADIO MANE (Liverpool)

Salah raised his season tally to 19 in all competitions by scoring twice to keep Liverpool four points clear at the top by defeating Palace. The Egyptian had fortune on his side thanks to some errant goalkeeping by 39-year Julian Speroni, making his first appearance in over a year, and was also lucky to escape without a yellow card when trying to win a cheap penalty just before half-time. Mane grabbed his 10th of the season with a smart finish in stoppage time.

Spain

SEYDOU DOUMBIA (Girona)

The Ivorian scored but could not prevent Girona losing a five-goal thriller to Real Betis in La Liga. Doumbia stooped low to head in after an error from goalkeeper Pau Lopez as Girona pulled 2-1 ahead, only for Betis to score twice in the second half.

KARL TOKO EKAMBI (Villarreal)

Toko Ekambi earned Villarreal a point by grabbing a late equaliser in their 1-1 draw at home to Athletic Bilbao. The Cameroonian slid in to score from close range with 19 minutes left to ensure his side avoided defeat in their fight against relegation.

Italy

GERVINHO (Parma)

Gervinho earned a penalty and scored the winner for Parma in a 2-1 victory over Udinese. Parma were awarded a VAR penalty for a Rodrigo De Paul foul on Gervinho which Roberto Inglese converted after 11 minutes. The veteran Ivorian scored the winner after 68 minutes, surging forward for the midfield to slot in his sixth goal of the season for promoted Parma, who are three points off the Europa League berths.

Germany

SALIF SANE (Schalke 04)

The Senegal centre-back put in a solid display in Schalke’s 2-1 win at home to Wolfsburg which pulled them clear of the Bundesliga relegation places with their Champions League last-16 tie against Manchester City looming next month. Sane was unable to stop Wolfsburg midfielder Elvis Rexhbecaj equalising midway through the first half before Schalke defender Daniel Caligiuri scored the late winner with his second goal of the game.

France

JORDAN IKOKO (Guingamp)

The Democratic Republic of Congo defender endured a day to forget as his side crashed to an embarrassing 9-0 loss to Paris Saint-Germain. Ikoko and his Guingamp team-mates were ripped apart by the runaway league leaders as Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani accounted for all but one of the goals as PSG set a new club record for the biggest home win.

Chelsea Players Support Sarri’s Philosophy, Says Luiz

Chelsea Exceed £400m Revenue, Declare £62m Profit
Chelsea players celebrate after Chelsea’s French midfielder N’Golo Kante scores the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and Chelsea at Selhurst Park in south London on December 30, 2018. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Maurizio Sarri has the full support of the Chelsea players who have signed up to his philosophy says David Luiz despite the manager blasting them in the wake of Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Arsenal.

Luiz, who has become a pivotal figure in Sarri’s team after being sidelined last season by Antonio Conte, said it is remarkable how quickly Sarri has been successful in implementing his playing philosophy at the club.

While that was successful initially, Chelsea’s form has slumped of late with just two wins in their last five matches in all competitions, failing to score in three of those.

Arsenal and a resurgent Manchester United are just three points off Chelsea, who occupy the fourth and last Champions League spot.

Sarri is trying to rectify the scoring problem by offloading misfiring Spaniard Alvaro Morata and signing veteran Argentine Gonzalo Higuain who flourished under him at Napoli.

Luiz said the manager “was not happy” after the match “but nobody was happy, so it was normal.”

However, the 31-year-old Brazil international defender said the players were all behind Sarri.

“Everybody is trusting his job and everybody is with him,” said Luiz.

However, he said pointedly there was nothing wrong with the strategy and that they just need to be sharper in front of goal.

“It is our style, it is our philosophy,” said Luiz.

“I think if you asked at the beginning of the season, ‘can Chelsea keep the ball?’ — you would have said no.

“And now we are able to do that, like the best teams in the world, but then we have (to) improve our last 25 metres.”

Sarri has changed things around from Conte’s time at the club.

Italy international Jorginho — whom he signed from Napoli — has been deployed in the central midfield role which has resulted in N’Golo Kante being moved to an unfamiliar wider role.

However, the biggest bone of contention has been the Italian’s decision to use Belgian playmaker Eden Hazard as a “false nine” which has apparently not been to the player’s liking.

Luiz, though, is full of praise for Sarri.

“What Sarri has done until now is unbelievable, amazing, because normally (for) a team to understand this philosophy needs one or two years, like Manchester City and Liverpool, who are playing very well with the ball now,” said Luiz.

“What he has done has been amazing, so we have to try to improve the details now.”

AFP

Solskjaer Warns United Players Over Complacency

Manchester United’s Norwegian caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has warned Manchester United of the dangers of complacency as they prepare to face Brighton after beating Tottenham to extend their perfect record under the interim boss.

Solskjaer has won all six of his matches in charge since taking over from Jose Mourinho on December 19 and will look to keep that sequence going at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Arguably the most impressive victory in the sequence came last Sunday when Tottenham were beaten 1-0 at Wembley thanks to a Marcus Rashford goal and an eye-catching goalkeeping display from David de Gea.

“As I’ve said before, you go into every single game as a Manchester United coach, as a player or manager, thinking you’ll win the next one, that’s just the nature of this club,” said Solskjaer.

“We’ve had six good games but the next one is the most important one. You cannot be too confident. It’s complacency you have to be wary of. It’s the other side of it.

“I want players to be confident but not be complacent and take their foot off the pedal because that’s a big difference for me. I want them go into games full of confidence, taking people on, getting the crowd with them because that’s what it’s about.”

Solskjaer has yet to see the best of forward Alexis Sanchez, who missed last Sunday’s win at Tottenham with a minor hamstring problem.

“He’s champing at the bit in training,” he said. He’s attitude has been fantastic in training and I’m looking forward to seeing him.”

The interim boss has played down the suggestion that he is responsible for coaxing better performances out of the players since last month’s departure of Mourinho, adding that he was confident the former United manager would be back in work soon.

He said: “Yeah, why shouldn’t he? He’s a fantastic manager and with the results, he’s had I don’t think he’ll be struggling for work.”

 Fellaini injured 

Solskjaer said Marouane Fellaini is facing up to four weeks out of action with a calf injury.

The Belgium midfielder has made just two substitute appearances for United since Solskjaer replaced the sacked Jose Mourinho.

Newspaper reports this week suggested that Fellaini, who signed a two-year contract in June, would be allowed to leave during the January transfer window.

His injury would appear to have ended the prospect of that happening, while Solskjaer has given the midfielder some reassurance by suggesting that he has an “X-factor”.

“There’s an X-factor in different players. We all know Felli’s X-factor. He’ll be working hard to get back in when all the big games are coming as well.”

With Fellaini injured, Solskjaer has suggested that Scott McTominay’s chances of going out on loan may have receded.

Celtic have been in negotiations with United about taking the Scotland midfielder on loan, but the caretaker manager appears reluctant to sanction a deal.

He said: “Scott is working hard. He’s a young boy I still believe in. We’re working on his contract. With the injuries to Felli as well and the squad we have, I’m not sure we’re going to see any movement.”

AFP

Confidence Key For Arsenal To Make Champions League, Says Emery

Paris Saint-Germain’s Spanish headcoach Unai Emery looks on before the French L1 football match between Caen (SMC) and Paris (PSG) on May 19, 2018, at the Michel d’Ornano stadium, in Caen, northwestern France. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

Unai Emery says his players are in dire need of a win to regain their confidence and reboot their challenge for a Champions League spot for next season.

The Gunners’ bid to return to the Champions League after a two-year hiatus has hit the rocks of late — Saturday’s 1-0 defeat by West Ham left them six points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea.

Emery, who once again omitted 2014 World Cup winner Mesut Ozil from the squad despite his recovery from a knee injury, admitted confidence was low although they could go a long way to restoring it if they beat Chelsea at home next Saturday.

“Now it’s more difficult, it’s clear,” the Spaniard replied when asked if a top-four finish was still a possibility.

“I think the most important thing for us is to recover our confidence and be more competitive. We need consistency over 38 matches.

“Now it isn’t enough at the moment. West Ham was a bad result.

“If we can win today (Saturday) we are playing against Chelsea with a three-point maximum distance.

“This result makes that more difficult,” added the 47-year-old Spaniard.

Emery — who began the post-Arsene Wenger era with the club going on a 22-game unbeaten run — admits another cause for concern is their poor recent away form.

The Gunners have not won away in their last four league games, taking just one point from a possible 12.

“It’s our challenge,” Emery said of improving Arsenal’s away form.

“We are working on that.

“It’s also the opposition team. Like here (West Ham), for example, they are with their supporters, they feel good and strong and can push.

“We need to take more confidence, better performances collectively, being competitive away to change this moment.

“We started the season away well, being competitive and winning.”

AFP

Players, Others Arrested In Spain’s Fixing Probe

 

Spanish police have dismantled a gang that allegedly fixed professional tennis competitions, detaining 15 people and probing 68 others including tennis players, one of whom played in the last US Open, they said Thursday.

In a statement, the Civil Guard police force said the organisation bribed tennis players to fix matches in ITF Futures and Challenger tournaments, the lower levels of professional tennis where young players start out before getting to the ATP level.

The Civil Guard added the operation kicked off after the Tennis Integrity Unit, an anti-corruption tennis body, made an official complaint.

It did not identify those detained or being probed but said one of them played in the last US Open. It is unclear whether he is among the arrested or investigated.

According to Europol, “the suspects bribed professional players to guarantee pre-determined results and used the identities of thousands of citizens to bet on the pre-arranged game.”

The members of the organisation are Armenian. “Some of them” were arrested, a Civil Guard spokeswoman told AFP.

They “attended the matches to ensure that the tennis players complied with what was previously agreed, and gave orders to other members of the group to go ahead with the bets placed at national and international level,” Europol said in a statement.

The Civil Guard said the group had been operating since at least February 2017 and could have made millions of euros.

AFP

We Need Young Players, Says Bayern Coach Kovac

Players of FC Bayern Munich take part in a training session during their winter training camp at the Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence in the Qatari capital Doha on January 5, 2019.
KARIM JAAFAR / AFP

 

Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac admitted Saturday his team needed “young players”, amid speculation the German champions have launched a 33-million-euro bid for Chelsea teenager Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Kovac, speaking at Bayern’s annual winter training camp in Qatar, refused to confirm or deny the club’s interest in the 18-year-old English star but conceded changes were needed.

“We always need young players,” said Kovac.

“It is my job and the job of (Bayern Munich sporting director) Hasan Salihamidzic to change the team as the team does not get any younger.”

He added: “If a player is good it doesn’t matter how old he is.

“We are looking for younger talented players but also players who are ready because the young talented players need time to develop.”

Chelsea assistant coach Gianfranco Zola has said Bayern are “very interested” in the teenager, whose has been with the Londoners since 2007 but is stalling on a new contract.

Hudson-Odoi is seen as a potential rising star of the English game and was a member of the England Under-17 team which won the World Cup in 2017.

But it is claimed he wants to play more — he has only played three times for Chelsea’s first team — and may be persuaded by the example of another young English winger Jadon Sancho who is thriving at Bundesliga league leaders Dortmund since deciding to leave Manchester City.

Under-pressure Kovac needs to reinvigorate Bayern and replace many of the team’s long-standing stars who are approaching the end of their careers.

Two of those players, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery,  have announced they will finish their careers at the end of this season.

Bayern currently stand second in the Bundesliga, six points behind Dortmund.

The club, which is sponsored by Qatar Airways, will be in the Gulf until January 10.

AFP

Arsenal Players Filmed Using ‘Hippy Crack’

Arsenal’s players observe a minute’s silence for Remembrance Day ahead of the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Swansea City at the Emirates Stadium in London on October 28, 2017. Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Arsenal said Friday they will “remind players of their responsibilities” after a video emerged that appears to show a number of stars inhaling nitrous oxide.

Players including Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Matteo Guendouzi feature in the footage, which appears to come from CCTV footage and was published by the Sun newspaper on Friday.

In a statement, Arsenal said: “The players will be spoken to about this and reminded of their responsibilities as representatives of the club.”

Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas or “hippy crack”, is freely available although it is technically illegal to sell it for recreational purposes.

In the video, which reportedly comes from a London venue shortly before the start of the current season, other Gunners players including Henrikh Mkhitaryan can be seen rejecting the offer to use the gas.

The footage is the latest to show top players being linked with nitrous oxide. Raheem Sterling was warned by his then club Liverpool after footage emerged of him using the substance in 2015.

In the same year, Jack Grealish was warned by the then Aston Villa manager, Tim Sherwood, after pictures emerged of him appearing to inhale the gas, and Saido Berahino was reprimanded by West Brom for a similar incident in 2014.

When an image was posted of then Tottenham player Kyle Walker in 2013, he apologised on Twitter, writing: “I won’t be doing this again and hope that no one else is influenced into putting their health at risk by my actions.”

Arsenal, under new manager Unai Emery, are currently fifth in the Premier League table and are unbeaten in 20 consecutive matches in all competitions.

AFP

Juventus Wrap Up Seventh Straight Serie A Title

Juventus players celebrate at the end of the Italian Serie A football match AS Roma vs Juventus at the Olympic stadium on May 13, 2018 in Rome. TIZIANA FABI / AFP

 

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri hailed his side’s winning mentality as they sealed a seventh straight Serie A title on Sunday after a goalless draw against ten-man Roma at the Stadio Olimpico.

The Turin giants had needed just a point to officially seal their 34th Scudetto title and become the first team to complete the league and Cup double for four consecutive seasons.

Roma played the final twenty minutes a man down after Radja Nainggolan was sent off for a second yellow card after a foul on Argentina striker Paulo Dybala.

Allegri’s side also won the Italian Cup in the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday with a 4-0 win over AC Milan.

With one game left to play Juventus cannot be caught by second-placed Napoli who are four points behind after winning 2-0 at Sampdoria on Sunday.

“It’s not easy to keep the right mentality just a few days after winning the Italian Cup final,” said Allegri.

“I think the greatest strength was keeping calm in all situations. You reach the final objective with one small step at a time.

“It’s been really tough and we have to compliment Napoli, as they kept the pressure on to the end and won at Sampdoria.

“We work hard, but when it’s time to celebrate after four extraordinary years, it’s right that everyone celebrates.

“If you get overwhelmed by enthusiasm, you’re going to collapse three days later.”

Eusebio Di Francesco’s Roma, in third, had already sealed their Champions League place next season after Inter Milan’s 2-1 loss against Sassuolo.

“Juventus have a special mentality that has been built up through the years,” said Di Francesco.

“It’s a club that succeeds in remaining united through difficulties. They are an example for other teams to follow.”

Juventus had early chances with Edin Dzeko firing over, a Lorenzo Pellegrini right footer flying wide and Aleksandar Kolarov’s free-kick hitting the side netting.

Dybala threatened early and broke through early in the second half after an Alex Sandro cross but the goal was disallowed because the Argentina striker was offside.

Nainggolan received two yellow cards in the space of five minutes and from the 68th minute Roma were down to 10 men.

But Juventus did not take advantage of their advantage as they game lost its momentum although Dybala did have penalty appeals.

Juventus will play their final game in Turin next weekend and Allegri promised a big celebration.

“There are players here who won all seven titles and deserve Saturday’s salute in front of their home fans. We want to celebrate all together in Turin,” added Allegri.

AFP

Keshi To Play 2014 World Cup Qualifiers With Lean Squad

Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi is to maintain a small squad for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, just as he prepares to tackle the Harambee Stars of Kenya

The Nigeria Football Federation said this is due to the financial constraint plaguing the federation even though the chief coach of the Super Eagles had earlier declared his interest to add more quality players to the team that claimed the Afcon 2013 trophy.

Keshi had shown interest in players such as Shola Ameobi, Obafemi Martins and others.

According to Punch Newspaper, an official of the federation said: “Of course we will look at the list from Keshi as in the past but the key thing may not be the type of players he needs but largely on how the Federation can also accommodate his plans. In this time of lean purse, we don’t expect to see 35 players called up for the game.

“The encouragement now is that Keshi already has his core players and so he is zeroing in on exactly those he wants for this game and a few others he wants to give another opportunity to prove their worth,” the official said.

Nigeria’s Super Eagles will host the Harambee Stars of Kenya in a 2014 World Cup qualifying match on March 23.

Ben Alaiya, an official of the Federation also claimed that Stephen Keshi will be releasing his list of the squad to face the Harambee Stars soonest.