Arsenal Beat West Ham To End Worst Winless Run Since 1977

Arsenal’s German midfielder Mesut Ozil (C) watches his shot go wide during the English Premier League football match between West Ham United and Arsenal at The London Stadium, in east London on December 9, 2019. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Arsenal caretaker manager Freddie Ljungberg believes a weight has been lifted off his players’ shoulders after a three-goal blitz in nine second-half minutes beat West Ham 3-1 on Monday to end the Gunners’ worst winless run in 42 years.

Another miserable night for the Swede seemed in store when the visitors trailed at half-time to Angelo Ogbonna’s deflected header.

However, Arsenal suddenly sparked into life after Gabriel Martinelli scored his first Premier League goal as Nicolas Pepe finally started to deliver on his club record £72 million fee by curling home a brilliant second, before crossing for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to secure all three points.

“It means so much for the players. They have been living under enormous pressure and you see it in their performances,” said Ljungberg.

“You can see the players have been a bit low and you see in the dressing room the relief and how happy they are.”

A first win in 10 games in all competitions lifts Arsenal up to ninth and cuts the gap on fourth-placed Chelsea to seven points in the battle for Champions League qualification next season.

Ljungberg reacted to taking just one point from his opening two games in temporary charge against lowly Norwich and Brighton by making five changes with Martinelli and Pepe among those coming into the side.

Pepe’s inability to make an impact has been one of the major reasons for Arsenal’s struggles, but the Ivorian looked a new player after curling home his first Premier League goal from open play 24 minutes from time.

“Nicolas is an amazing football player, but it is not easy to come from the French league into the Premier League and adjust straight away,” added Ljungberg.

“It was an amazing goal and he’ll get better and better.”

 West Ham ‘dominated for 60 minutes’ 

Not much had improved in Ljungberg’s first two games since replacing the sacked Unai Emery and it was the same tame and lifeless Arsenal for the first hour against a West Ham side that have won just once in their last 11 games.

“I think we dominated the game for 60 minutes and after that in 10 minutes we lose the game,” said West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini, who is under increasing pressure as his side sit just one point above the relegation zone.

Another home defeat means the Hammers have taken just one point from their last five games at the London Stadium and the home side were booed off at full-time.

“You understand the boos because the last five games we played here we didn’t win,” added Pellegrini. “You cannot concede three goals in every game.”

In a first half of precious little good football it was fitting the opener arrived in scrappy fashion as Ogbonna’s attempted header came off his shoulder and deflected off Martinelli to wrong-foot Bernd Leno in the Arsenal goal.

But one moment changed the course of the game when Sead Kolasinac burst down the left and crossed low for Martinelli to slot home his eighth goal of the season after impressing in the League Cup and Europa League.

Suddenly the confidence which Emery and Ljungberg bemoaned had drained away from their players in recent times was restored, none more so than in Pepe, who cut inside onto his favoured left foot and curled into the top corner.

Pepe then turned provider for Aubameyang to slide in for his 13th goal of the campaign.

“At half-time, Freddie told us to play with a higher tempo,” said Aubameyang.

“We have the quality in the squad, and if we believe in ourselves, we can go forward and win games. We will take this second half as an example for the rest of the season.”

AFP

Benitez Rules Himself Out Of Arsenal And Everton Jobs

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 26, 2018 Newcastle United’s Spanish manager Rafael Benitez gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Newcastle United at Anfield in Liverpool, northwest England. Rafael Benitez will leave Newcastle United after three years as manager when his contract expires next week, the Premier League club confirmed on June 24, 2019.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Rafael Benitez insisted on Monday there is “no chance” he will fill the managerial vacancies at either Arsenal or Everton, but he refused to completely rule out a return to the Premier League.

Former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss Benitez is currently in charge of Chinese side Dalian Yifang after leaving Newcastle United after the end of last season.

Arsenal are still looking for a permanent successor to Unai Emery while Everton, Liverpool’s local rivals, sacked Marco Silva last week, and former Champions League winner Benitez said he was happy in the Chinese Super League despite finishing a lowly ninth this season.

“I can be very clear — there is no chance I will come back now because I’m really happy,” he said on Sky Sports.

“I’m really pleased (Dalian Yifang) trust me. We have a lot of staff working on a big, big project. We want to leave a legacy and it’s a challenge for me. I’m quite happy at the moment.

“In the future I would like to come back to the Premier League because I like the league.”

Benitez has also seen his name linked with West Ham should Manuel Pellegrini leave the London club.

But although he was linked with a move to the Hammers four years ago before joining Real Madrid, Benitez said there was no chance of them tempting him away from China.

“It was in the past, it’s true that I was nearly there (at West Ham),” he said. “Then Real Madrid came, and I needed a couple of days to know exactly what was going on.

“Obviously I couldn’t say no to Real Madrid, but it was a good time and it’s a massive club.

“Everybody can see both teams (West Ham and Arsenal) have problems, but both are massive clubs and they will do well at the end.”

Man City’s Walker Insists Title Race Not Over

Newcastle United’s French midfielder Allan Saint-Maximin (L) vies with Manchester City’s English defender Kyle Walker during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Manchester City at St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, northeast England on November 30, 2019.
Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Kyle Walker insists the Premier League title race isn’t over for Manchester City despite their latest damaging defeat.

Pep Guardiola’s side trail leaders Liverpool by 14 points after losing 2-1 against Manchester United in Saturday’s derby at the Etihad Stadium.

In a match marred by an alleged racist gesture from a City supporter towards United players, the champions were punished for defensive miscues and a lack of cutting edge in the final third.

United continually cut City open in a series of incisive counter-attacks, with a penalty from Marcus Rashford opening the scoring before Anthony Martial doubled their lead.

City did pull one back through Nicolas Otamendi late on but they could not force an equaliser, condemning them to a fourth defeat of the season.

READ ALSO: Police Arrest Man Over ‘Racist Gesture’ At Manchester Derby

City defender Walker is adamant his side aren’t out of contention yet, but he acknowledged it will take a big effort to catch Liverpool.

“We knew they had quick players in quick areas – Martial, Rashford and (Daniel) James. They are very good on the counter-attack. We knew that but we didn’t handle it as well as we could have,” Walker said.

“It’s a massive gap, we know that, but we need to keep fighting until the end. It’s not over until it’s over. We will keep trying, as a team.”

After just 16 games, City, who have also drawn twice, have now dropped as many points as they did in the whole of last season.

They would have to win all their remaining 22 games to match last season’s final points tally of 98.

City midfielder Rodri, in his first season at the club, conceded United had come up with a good game-plan but blamed the loss on poor defending and bad finishing.

“We created lots of chances but we didn’t manage to put the ball in. We played the way we wanted but it’s always difficult when you concede two goals,” he said.

“You need to find spaces but at the same time, you concede more spaces to them for their counter-attacks.

“It’s very difficult to attack when they put 11 players behind the ball but we shouldn’t have conceded those two goals.”

Asked about City’s fading title hopes, Rodri added: “It’s a big gap but my mentality has always been never give up, never. We will play and we will fight until the end.”

AFP

Premier League Recap: United Win Manchester Bragging Rights

Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford (C) celebrates scoring the opening goal from the penalty spot during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on December 7, 2019. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Manchester United delivered a potentially fatal blow to Manchester City’s Premier League title hopes on Saturday after leaders Liverpool secured the Christmas number one spot with victory against Bournemouth.

City came into the match at the Etihad knowing they had to win after Jurgen Klopp’s men coasted to a 3-0 victory on England’s south coast but succumbed to United’s lightning-quick attacks, losing 2-1.

Earlier, Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham blitzed Burnley 5-0, with Son Heung-min scoring a sensational individual goal, to close to within six points of fourth-placed Chelsea, who went down 3-1 to Everton at Goodison Park.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United side started the evening match at the Etihad buoyed by their victory against Spurs in midweek and were immediately on the front foot, sprinting forward at every opportunity.

Marcus Rashford opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute and Anthony Martial doubled the visitors’ lead six minutes later.

City came back strongly, dominating possession, but could not force a breakthrough and the visitors continued to look dangerous on the break.

Eventually City’s pressure paid off, with Nicolas Otamendi’s late header sparking a frantic wave of City attacks but they failed to find an equaliser and are now 14 points behind Liverpool. United are up to fifth.

Klopp’s team took advantage of playing before their closest rivals to widen the gulf at the top of the table to 11 points, with Leicester not in action until Sunday, meaning Liverpool cannot be caught by December 25.

Klopp, mindful of a fixture pile-up for his side, made seven changes from the 5-2 midweek victory against Everton, with Sadio Mane dropping to the bench and Alisson Becker back in goal following suspension.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring for the European champions in the 35th minute and Liverpool made it 2-0 just before the break when Naby Keita played a fine one-two with Mohamed Salah and finished from close range, with Keita turning provider for Salah in the 54th minute.

It was Liverpool’s first clean sheet in any match since late September.

“Yes, it was (perfect), 100 percent,” said the manager.

“We scored wonderful goals, we had more chances and did really well and we were really uncomfortable to play against.

“From 3-0 on we controlled the game absolutely. The players didn’t like it too much, they wanted to be really loud in these moments but I didn’t want to see any unnecessary risk. It was maybe not the most exciting but necessary.”

Son stunner for Spurs

Spurs flew out of the blocks at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Harry Kane scored twice and there were also goals for Lucas Moura and Moussa Sissoko but it was Son Heung-min’s goal that caught the eye.

With Spurs already 2-0 up, Son stole the show just after the half hour, running from deep inside his own half past a host of Burnley defenders and capped the astonishing burst with an ice-cool finish.

Spurs are still six points behind fourth-placed Chelsea but will fancy their chances of closing the gap on their London rivals, who are stumbling after a six-game winning run earlier in the season.

“A perfect day,” Mourinho told the BBC. “No injuries, a clean sheet, goals, perfect football, kids coming on for first Premier League football.”

Everton made it a miserable day for Frank Lampard’s Chelsea thanks to an early strike from Brazil forward Richarlison and two goals from England under-21 international Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Former Everton player Duncan Ferguson, in charge for the first time of the Toffees after the sacking of Marco Silva, refused to talk up his chances of getting the coaching job full-time, telling BT Sport: “I’m sure they’re out there looking for other candidates, and rightly so. We want the best guys in the world managing our football club.”

Watford, who appointed former Leicester boss Nigel Pearson as their new manager on Friday, were unable to force their second win of the season, drawing 0-0 with Crystal Palace.

 

AFP

Chelsea Slip To Third Premier League Defeat At Everton

Everton’s Brazilian striker Richarlison (C) vies with Chelsea’s English striker Tammy Abraham (L), Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta (2nd L) and French defender Kurt Zouma (R) during the English Premier League football match at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on December 7, 2019. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

 

Chelsea slipped to their third Premier League defeat in four matches on Saturday as Everton bounced back from their Merseyside derby humiliation to win 3-1 and escape from the relegation zone.

Former fans’ favourite Duncan Ferguson is in interim control at Goodison Park after Marco Silva was sacked on Thursday and the former forward had an instant impact.

Goals early in each half from Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin put the home side 2-0 up and although Mateo Kovacic pulled one back, Calvert-Lewin struck again late to seal the win.

The three points for Everton lifts them to the relative comfort of 14th spot in the table. Frank Lampard’s men remain in fourth place but fifth-placed Wolves could close the gap to just three points if they beat Brighton on Sunday.

Ferguson, who celebrated the goals wildly, refused to talk up his chances of getting the job full-time despite the win, telling BT Sport: “I’m here for Everton. I’m here for as long as they want me here.

“I’m sure they’re out there looking for other candidates, and rightly so. We want the best guys in the world managing our football club.

“This was just an incredible experience for me, one no one can take away from me. You saw on the touchline how enthusiastic I was. It’s one game, it’s one result.”

Ferguson’s reign got off to the perfect start with Brazil forward Richarlison heading home Djibril Sidibe’s cross from the right to give the hosts a fifth-minute lead.

Chelsea pushed for an equaliser, with in-form England forward Tammy Abraham going close a couple of times, but the Toffees went in at half-time 1-0 up.

– Calvert-Lewin double –

Everton doubled their lead four minutes into the second half. Andreas Christensen and Kurt Zouma failed to deal with a high ball and Calvert-Lewin capitalised.

But Chelsea responded quickly, with Kovacic stroking in a volley with his right foot in the 52nd minute, beating the dive of England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

The visitors continued to dominate possession but Everton looked dangerous on the  break.

Both sides missed further chances. Theo Walcott raced down the right but shot at Kepa Arrizabalaga after ignoring Richarlison alongside him while Christian Pulisic steered wide.

But Chelsea shot themselves in the foot when Kepa gifted possession to Walcott, who fed Calvert-Lewin.

The ball reached substitute Tom Davies, who struggled to control it, but it eventually fell for Calvert-Lewin, who bundled home, sending Ferguson charging down the touchline, celebrating with the ballboys.

Victory is a huge lift for Everton, who slumped to a 5-2 defeat against Liverpool in midweek. They have a tough run of fixtures coming up including both Manchester clubs away from home.

Lampard’s young team won six successive Premier League games to climb into third place in the table last month but have since stumbled, losing to Manchester City, West Ham and now struggling Everton.

The manager will now turn his attention to Tuesday’s Champions League match at home to Lille. They will qualify for the knockout stages if they beat Lille or if they draw and Valencia lose to Ajax.

Solskjaer Calm About United Future Despite Sackings

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer leaves after the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 1, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he does not fear for his future as Manchester United manager despite a spate of Premier League sackings as he prepares to face his predecessor Jose Mourinho.

Spurs turned to Mourinho after dismissing Mauricio Pochettino last month, while Arsenal and Watford have subsequently sacked Unai Emery and Quique Sanchez Flores.

READ ALSO: ‘We Didn’t Use Our Heads’, Sarri Berates Players For Poor Performance

Solskjaer is under increasing pressure, with United ninth in the Premier League, 22 points behind leaders Liverpool and eight off a top-four spot as they prepare for Wednesday’s match against Tottenham.

“No, it doesn’t make me more concerned,” Solskjaer said at his pre-match press conference on Tuesday.  “I’m just focusing on my job and that’s just doing as well as I can, and look forward to the next game, and look long-term, plan things with board.

“It’s that time of year. It’s never nice to see your colleagues lose your jobs — three in a very short space of time.

“It’s a game of margins,” he added. “Sometimes you have luck, sometimes you don’t, but it doesn’t make me any more concerned that it’s December.

“I’m good, absolutely no problem. Sometimes you laugh when you read stories about what I’ve said and stuff, at least I know the sources are just made up, blatant lies.”

The United boss bemoaned his team’s failure to turn draws into wins, saying they were not getting the results their football deserved.

The club are winless in three games and Solskjaer’s job will not get any easier with a derby against Manchester City on Saturday to follow the game against Mourinho’s Spurs side.

The Norwegian, though, dismissed any need for crisis talks with the United board.

“Three days or four days are not going to change a whole lot, but these two games are great chances for us to prove things and prove to ourselves that we can continue in the vein we have had against some of the better sides,” he said.

Solskjaer expects Mourinho to receive a warm welcome when he returns to Old Trafford a year after being sacked, having won the League Cup and Europa League during his time in charge.

“We know we have to improve, we are working hard to do that right and when you change a manager halfway through the season (it) isn’t where it is supposed to be,” said the Norwegian.

“I don’t think whoever the manager of the opposition team is will change their motivation (of the players),” he said.

“They are motivated to do well for Man Utd, because they know it’s about improving every day in training and every time you step on that pitch it’s a chance to prove you can be part of this long term. That has always been the case at Man Utd.”

United will still be without the injured Paul Pogba but Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic will be assessed as Solskjaer looks at his midfield options.

AFP

African Players In Europe: Iheanacho And Aubameyang Shine In England

 

Nigerian international Kelechi Iheanacho showed he knows how to make an impact as he came off the bench to drive Leicester to a victory that keeps them as Liverpool’s closest challengers in the Premier League.

Among other outstanding performances by Europe-based African players this weekend, Jeremie Boga opened the scoring for minnows Sassuolo and they went on to hold Serie A champions Juventus to a 2-2 draw in Turin.

ENGLAND

KELECHI IHEANACHO (Leicester)

Iheanacho had a massive impact on his first league outing of the season to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 win for the Foxes over Everton.

The Nigerian came off the bench to set up Jamie Vardy’s equaliser before scoring himself for the first time in the Premier League since September 2018, deep into stoppage time.

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (Arsenal)

Aubameyang scored twice to salvage a 2-2 draw for Arsenal at Norwich in Freddie Ljungberg’s first game in caretaker charge.

The new Gunners’ captain had fortune on his side after seeing his first take at a penalty saved by Tim Krul only to be handed the reprieve of a retake for encroaching by Norwich players.

Aubameyang was clinical with his second chance from the spot and produced another fine finish just before the hour mark to finish at the back post from a corner.

WILFRIED ZAHA (Crystal Palace)

Zaha scored for the second consecutive game as Palace ended a five-game winless streak with a 2-0 win at Burnley.

The Ivorian caught England international goalkeeper Nick Pope napping with a fierce strike that sneaked in at the near post for just his second goal of the season.

SPAIN

PAPAKOULI DIOP (Elbar)

Senegalese midfielder Papakouli Diop’s goal could not prevent Eibar from losing 4-1 away at high-flying Real Sociedad in La Liga on Saturday.

Diop tucked away Takashi Inui’s pull-back to equalise in the 35th minute at Anoeta but Real Sociedad struck three times in the second half to seal a convincing win as Eibar dropped to 16th in the table, two points above the relegation zone.

LAGO JUNIOR (Real Mallorca)

Lago Junior scored a penalty and Lumor Agbenyenu was sent off as Real Mallorca were beaten 2-1 at home by Real Betis on Saturday.

Ivory Coast forward Lago came on at half-time and gave Mallorca hope of a comeback by reducing the deficit from the spot after Betis had scored twice in the first half.

But they were unable to find an equaliser and Ghanaian defender Agbenyenu was given a second yellow card in injury-time for pulling back Betis Diego Lainez.

ITALY

JEREMIE BOGA (Sassuolo)

Ivorian Boga opened the scoring for Sassuolo in a 2-2 draw at Serie A champions Juventus. The 22-year-old dinked over Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon for his fourth goal this season as 14th-placed Sassuolo claimed their first ever point at the Turin giants who lost top spot in Serie A.

KEVIN-PRINCE BOATENG (Fiorentina)

Ghanian midfielder Boateng returned for Fiorentina after being overlooked for the last three Serie A games with the 32-year-old coming on for the injured French Franck Ribery after the break in a 1-0 defeat to Lecce which piled the pressure on the 13th-placed Tuscany side.

KALIDOU KOULIBALY (Napoli)

A wayward header from Senegalese defender Koulibaly resulted in the equaliser for Bologna, who fought back to win 2-1 in the San Paolo Stadium. Koulibaly headed to clear the ball away from goal but instead Bologna’s Andreas Skov-Olsen latched on to volley in. Napoli are seventh as their winless run extended to eight games in all competitions.

KHOUMA BABACAR (Lecce)

Senegalese striker Babacar came off the bench in the second half of a 1-0 win over his former club Fiorentina. The 26-year-old, on-loan from Sassuolo, missed two chances to score a second goal late, but his side held on for their third win this season.

GERMANY

STRELI MAMBA (Paderborn)

Mamba scored a cracking goal to kickstart a Paderborn fightback against RB Leipzig on Saturday. Although Paderborn eventually lost 3-2 after trailing 3-0, Mamba caused Leipzig’s defence constant problems, with his fifth goal of the season a just reward for the DR Congo-eligible striker.

ACHRAF HAKIMI (Borussia Dortmund)

Moroccan defender Hakimi put in another breathtaking performance for Dortmund, setting up one goal and providing a consistent threat throughout. Hakimi’s cross for Thorgan Hazard’s first-half goal was first class and will have Dortmund’s sporting director Michael Zorc going over the loanee’s contract with a fine-tooth comb to try and prevent his return to parent club Real Madrid.

FRANCE

VICTOR OSIMHEN (Lille)

Nigeria striker Osimhen scored his first Ligue 1 goal since October 6 with a penalty in first-half stoppage time as Lille claimed a much-needed 1-0 win over Dijon. The 20-year-old has scored 15 goals in all competitions for club and country this season.

GAEL KAKUTA (Amiens)

Former Chelsea forward Kakuta scored his first goal for Amiens since returning for his second spell at the club in the close-season in Saturday’s 4-2 loss at Montpellier. The 28-year-old, who previously played for Amiens on loan from Chinese outfit Hebei China Fortune in 2017-18, has played two friendlies for the Democratic Republic of Congo this year.

HABIB DIALLO (Metz)

The Senegalese international continued his prolific form for Metz by scoring in their 1-1 draw at fellow strugglers Nimes. The 24-year-old Diallo, who scored 26 goals in Ligue 2 last term, has now netted nine times in the top flight this campaign and trails only Lyon’s Moussa Dembele in the goalscoring charts.

AFP

City Are In The Right Frame Of Mind, Says Guardiola

A file photo of Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

 

Pep Guardiola says he is satisfied with the state of mind of his Manchester City players even though they twice lost the lead to draw 2-2 with Newcastle and slip further behind Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Guardiola, whose defending champions are 11 points adrift of Jurgen Klopp’s team with more than a third of the season gone, is adamant the City players have not been affected by a poor run of just one victory in five games in all competitions.

“You have to see how the players run and how they fight and how they try to do it, the body language — we never give up, so the team is always there, that’s my feeling,” he said.

“The game is what it is. In my opinion, it was good. We played well with the ball, we were solid, we conceded few counter-attacks, but football is how many goals you score and how you don’t concede.

“You accept that. Sometimes it happens.”

City have the Manchester derby on Saturday but Guardiola is focused on Tuesday’s away trip to Burnley beforehand.

“I’m not thinking about how many games we have to win,” he said. “It’s just try to win the next one.

“Last season when we were here, we were not talking about the Premier League, how many games you have to win.

“It’s not about that. It’s just now recover, prepare and try to win against Burnley, that is what you have to do, and after that, the derby and make these steps.”

AFP

Watford Sack Sanchez Flores After Three Months In Charge

 

Watford sacked their second manager of the season on Sunday with Quique Sanchez Flores leaving the club bottom of the Premier League table.

The Spaniard managed just one win in 10 league games in charge during his second spell at Vicarage Road after replacing Javi Gracia in September.

“Quique is a man of great integrity and it was clear how much he wanted to have a positive impact, but ultimately results have dictated our decision,” said Watford chairman and CEO Scott Duxbury.

“The appointment of a new head coach is imminent, and with nearly two-thirds of the season remaining, we will provide all the support necessary to make the coming months successful.”

Defeat to fellow strugglers Southampton on Saturday left Watford six points from safety with just eight points from their opening 14 games of the season.

Sanchez Flores returned to Watford just three months ago having also taken charge for the 2015/16 season when the Hornets finished 13th in the Premier League and reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

However, he was unable to recreate that success with his only league victory coming at Norwich last month.

A run of six defeats in 12 games in all competitions also included an 8-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City.

Man City Keep Liverpool In Sights As Mourinho Magic Lifts Spurs

Tottenham Hotspur’s Portuguese head coach Jose Mourinho takes a team training session at Tottenham Hotspur’s Enfield Training Centre, in north London on November 25, 2019, ahead of their UEFA Champions League Group B football match against Olympiakos. Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

 

Manchester City kept Premier League leaders Liverpool in their sights on Saturday after battling back to beat Chelsea as Jose Mourinho ended Tottenham’s away-day woes in his first game in charge.

Leicester saw off Brighton 2-0 to stay in second place, eight points behind Jurgen Klopp’s men, while struggling Arsenal needed a stoppage-time goal to draw 2-2 with lowly Southampton.

Liverpool’s hard-fought 2-1 win at Crystal Palace meant defending champions City went into their evening match against high-flying Chelsea 12 points behind the pacesetters.

N’Golo Kante gave the visitors a deserved lead midway through the first half at the Etihad but City hit back with a deflected shot from Kevin De Bruyne and a trademark Riyad Mahrez strike to win 2-1.

Pep Guardiola’s men were never entirely comfortable with a one-goal lead but their margin of victory could have been greater as Raheem Sterling found the bottom corner deep into stoppage time, only for VAR to rule the goal out for offside.

City’s possession figure of 46.74 percent is the lowest recorded by a side managed by Pep Guardiola in any of his 381 top-flight matches in charge.

“It was a top game against a top side,” Guardiola told Sky Sports. “Chelsea have been big quality for the past 20 years. When they went ahead in the best moments they had we scored through Kevin De Bruyne. Then we missed a lot of chances.”

Guardiola sounded the alarm over all-time top-scorer Sergio Aguero, who limped off in the second half, saying he feared his injury could be “bad”.

Liverpool Late Show

Earlier, Liverpool once again demonstrated their knack for scoring last-gasp winners, with Roberto Firmino finishing from close range following a goalmouth scramble.

Liverpool had looked set to drop points for just the second time this season after Wilfried Zaha cancelled out Sadio Mane’s opener in the 82nd minute.

The European champions, chasing their first league title for 30 years, have now won 12 of their 13 Premier League matches this season and are unbeaten in 30 league games.

“We are not out there to show we invented football. We have a job to do to get results. We did that again,” said Klopp.

“I have no problem that we were not brilliant today. You just have to make sure you are ready to fight for the result and we were that from the first minute.”

Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester kept up their dogged pursuit of the leaders, with second-half goals from Ayoze Perez and Jamie Vardy giving them a fifth successive league win.

Mourinho Effect

In the early kick-off at the London Stadium, Son Heung-min, Lucas Moura and Harry Kane were on the scoresheet for Tottenham as Mourinho won his first game in charge 3-2, days after replacing the sacked Mauricio Pochettino.

Spurs’ first away league victory since January will help to endear Mourinho to sceptical supporters, who were sad to see Pochettino dismissed less than six months after leading the club to a first-ever Champions League final.

“It was very, very important. Eleven months without music in the away dressing room, without a smile, without happiness and they did it,” said the former Chelsea and Manchester United boss.

“That’s where I belong (on the touchline), that is my natural habitat. I just love it. When things go in your direction, winning is the best feeling.”

Arsenal manager Unai Emery is under increasing pressure after another limp display that leaves them winless in five Premier League matches.

Southampton took an early lead at the Emirates through Danny Ings only for Alexandre Lacazette to level.

James Ward-Prowse restored Southampton’s lead in the second half but Lacazette saved Emery’s blushes with a goal deep into stoppage time.

In-form Wolves won 2-1 at 10-man Bournemouth courtesy of a Joao Moutinho free-kick and Raul Jimenez’s goal to climb to fifth in the table.

Norwich lifted themselves off the bottom with a 2-0 victory away to Everton while Burnley won 3-0 at Watford, who are now bottom.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United face Sheffield United on Sunday with a chance to move into fifth place.

Abramovich Nas No Intention To Sell Chelsea, Says Buck

A file photo of Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich.

 

 

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is not interested in “bargain” bids for the Premier League club and remains fully involved at Stamford Bridge, according to chairman Bruce Buck.

The Russian billionaire is not believed to have attended a home match since the spring of 2018, having taken Israeli citizenship after encountering visa renewal issues in Britain.

Plans for a new 60,000-seat stadium were shelved around the same time, but Buck said Abramovich has no intention to offload the club.

“So far as I know, absolutely not. To the contrary — I have never heard a word from Mr Abramovich: ‘Let’s get this ready for a sale,’ or something,” Buck told the Guardian newspaper.

“Because of the political situation, there are people who think they might want to buy Chelsea Football Club at a bargain. We do get inquiries and we really have nothing to say to these people.

“In terms of being involved, in looking at new players, talking about whether to extend players’ contracts, do we buy this player, do we sell this player, (Abramovich) was always intimately involved in that from day one and is just as intimately involved now.

“He talks to Marina (Granovskaia) — the board member who supervises the football operation — several times a day, every day. Marina has been doing that for seven or eight years. That hasn’t let up or changed at all.”

AFP

Kane Hopes Mourinho Can End Tottenham Trophy Drought

A file photo of Tottenham Hotspur’s Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho. Ian KINGTON / AFP

 

 

Harry Kane hopes ‘proven winner’ Jose Mourinho can deliver the trophies that Tottenham crave after taking over as manager from Mauricio Pochettino.

The Portuguese, back in the game after 11 months out, led his new club to a 3-2 win at West Ham on Saturday — their first Premier League away win since January.

Kane was a staunch supporter of Pochettino, crediting him with making him into one of the top strikers in the world, and visited the Argentine at his home after his dismissal.

“It’s a week I’ve never really had in my career before,” said the England captain.

“It was a big shock on Tuesday night for everyone, the players included, and then it was a quick turnaround.

“All of a sudden we’ve got a new manager, one of the best managers there’s been in the game, so automatically you have to turn your head towards that and focus on the game.”

Pochettino, who took Spurs to the Champions League final in June, ended his five-and-a-half-year stint with no silverware.

Kane has expressed his desire to win trophies at Spurs and is hoping that Mourinho, a former boss of Chelsea and Manchester United, can help him achieve his goals.

“The gaffer’s won at every club he’s gone to — there’s no hiding away from that,” Kane said.

“He wants to win. He’s a proven winner. I’ve made it clear that I’m at the stage of my career where I want to win trophies.

“I’ve made it clear I want to win them here and it’s a big year for us.”

Kane said Mourinho’s reputation for winning silverware gave the players confidence.

“It’s almost a fresh slate for everyone now to show the manager what they can do and hopefully the players can thrive on that,” he said.

Midfielder Eric Dier said the players were lucky to be able to work under Mourinho, whom he called the “perfect” replacement for Pochettino.

“His record is unbelievable and he transmits that confidence. The way he speaks, you believe it, you feel it from him,” Dier said.

AFP