Arsenal manager Unai Emery has spoken out over the captaincy situation at the club, amid concerns over a lack of leadership at the Emirates.
Koscielny’s shock decision
As has been widely-covered in the media, Arsenal’s previous captain, Laurent Koscielny, dropped a bombshell on the club earlier this month, when the Frenchman informed Unai Emery and co. that he would not be joining his fellow teammates on their pre-season tour of the US.
An official announcement across the Gunners’ website and social media channels regarding the situation read as follows:
‘Laurent Koscielny has refused to travel to the US for our pre-season tour.’
‘We are very disappointed by Laurent’s actions, which are against our clear instructions.’
‘We hope to resolve this matter and will not be providing any further comment at this time.’
The reliable David Ornstein of BBC Sport subsequently provided an insight into Koscielny’s shock decision, citing Arsenal’s Europa League final defeat at the hands of Chelsea, and concern over the direction of the club as key.
The Frenchman is said to be eyeing a return to France, amid interest from the likes of Bordeaux, Rennes and Lyon.
‘Working with the captains’
This leaves Arsenal in a precarious position heading into the fast-approaching new season.
Koscielny was viewed by many as one of few natural leaders in Unai Emery’s squad, with the Arsenal boss now left with a difficult decision to make regarding who he feels is ready to step up and act as the linchpin in his side’s push to secure a return to the Champions League.
Speaking on the back of the Gunners’ disappointing preseason defeat to Lyon yesterday evening, meanwhile, Emery provided an interesting update on the situation.
The Spanish tactician confirmed that, as things stand, 3 players are viewed as captains in his squad. The trio in question are Granit Xhaka, Mesut Ozil and Nacho Monreal.
However, Emery is also eyeing ‘two more’ options to take the armband, with the captaincy pecking order set to be decided over the coming weeks:
‘We are working now with the captains. They are Xhaka, Ozil and Nacho Monreal. I want to add two more and then I am going to decide the number one, two, three, four and five in the next weeks.’
Quotes via Arsenal.com
Man United aren’t happy before Barcelona
It’s busy days for Manchester United right now.
Last Wednesday night the Red Devils were in Champions League action at Old Trafford.
Barcelona won 1-0 in the quarterfinal first-leg after Luke Shaw diverted a Luis Suarez header into the United net.
On Saturday United were back in Premier League action at the Theatre of Dreams.
Playing below-par, United edged out West Ham 2-1 to maintain their hopes of a top four finish.
Man United now only have a short rest before taking on Barcelona in the Camp Nou on Tuesday.
Tottenham, Man City & Liverpool schedule advantages
Man United are one of four Premier League teams still in the Champions League.
Liverpool are in a great position to reach the semifinals after a 2-0 win over Porto at Anfield.
Liverpool’s match in Portugal is on Wednesday.
Tottenham hold a 1-0 lead over Man City following their last-8 first-leg.
Man City host Spurs on Wednesday night as well.
Have Man United been unfairly treated when it comes to the fixture list?
After the Hammers game, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer voiced his belief that the likes Tottenham, Man City and Liverpool have all be handed kinder schedules:
Someone needs to explain to me why in the Champions League it is Wednesday and Tuesday matches for us and Tuesday and Wednesday for the others.
We tried to Google it but didn’t find anything. UEFA should change that 100 percent.
Should Liverpool & Man City complain as well?
Gary Lineker has also made the case that Liverpool and Man City should have played on Saturday this weekend, and not today.
Crazy that both Liverpool and Manchester City play tomorrow. No other sides in Europe that are still in the Champions League would ever play on a Sunday before midweek CL fixtures. The Premier League needs to look after their own.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) April 13, 2019
Yep, would never happen with LaLiga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Eredivisie or premeira Liga. It’s nuts. https://t.co/TZAqQMO4rD
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) April 13, 2019
As per a report from the Bristol Post, despite suggestions to the contrary, it is altogether unlikely that Eddie Nketiah’s loan spell with Leeds United will be cut short in January.
Nketiah’s career to date
Nketiah, a 20-year-old striker, has been on Arsenal’s books since 2015, when he made the move across London from Premier League rivals Chelsea.
After spending two seasons in the club’s youth setup, Nketiah’s goalscoring exploits saw him first handed a chance to impress as part of the Gunners’ first-team panel in 2017.
The 7-time capped English U21-international, though, subsequently struggled to carve out any meaningful game-time.
Last season saw Nketiah manage 5 Premier League appearances as part of Unai Emery’s senior squad. All of these, though, came from the bench.
As such, with both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette firmly ahead of Nketiah in the centre-forward pecking order at the Emirates, the path to regular first-team minutes would likely have proven a difficult one to navigate for the 20-year-old once again this season.
As a result, it came as little surprise when, back in August, it was confirmed that Nketiah had made the move to the Championship, with Leeds United, for the 2019/20 campaign:
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 8, 2019
And the former Chelsea man subsequently went on to enjoy an impressive start to life at Elland Road:
Eddie Nketiah this season:
-3 goals in pre-season.
-Joins Leeds on loan.
-Scores on his U23 debut.
-Scores on his Championship debut.
-Scores on his League Cup debut.
-Called up to the England U21 squad.
-Scores for the England U21s.
— Patrick Timmons (@PatrickTimmons1) September 6, 2019
Nketiah has since gone on to find the net 4 times in 9 appearances across all competitions in Leeds’ colours.
However, to this point, the Arsenal loanee is actually yet to earn a single start in the Championship.
This has subsequently resulted in rumours beginning to mount that Nketiah’s spell at Elland Road could be cut short, with Bristol City ready to revive their summer interest in the hitman come January.
As per the aforementioned report from the Bristol Post, though, this, as things stand, looks a highly unlikely outcome.
Arsenal are said to hold an option to recall Nketiah following the turn of the year. However, there is no suggestion at this point that those in charge at the Emirates are leaning towards doing so.
Fulham have this evening confirmed that Jean Michel Seri has departed the club for Turkish giants Galatasaray.
Gifted midfielder Seri was linked with a move to a host of Premier League giants last summer, on the back of a standout season in Ligue 1 with Nice.
The likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and English champions Manchester City were all named as keen suitors of the Ivorian.
As such, it came as something of surprise when Seri eventually made the move to Premier League returnees Fulham.
However, to say that the 27-year-old’s debut campaign at Craven Cottage proved a disappointment, would be putting it lightly.
Amid Fulham’s dismal season, which saw the Londoners relegated back to the Championship, Seri struggled to live up to his reputation.
Though he showcased his undoubted qualities in flashes, the technically-gifted African failed to find any sort of consistency, with fans of the Cottagers having also called into question his commitment on a number of occasions.
All told, Seri notched just a solitary goal across 32 Premier League appearances in 2018/19.
As such, news that Fulham have decided to send the midfielder on his way after just a solitary campaign on the club’s books has come as little surprise.
In an official statement across their social media platforms this evening, the capital outfit confirmed that Seri has joined Turkish powerhouse Galatasaray on loan for the coming season:
Good luck at @GalatasaraySK, Mika 🤝
— Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) July 18, 2019
Gala will also have the option to make Seri’s arrival permanent next summer.
✍ Jean Michaël Seri Galatasaray’da! 🌪 pic.twitter.com/KyEg1ka3qt
— Galatasaray SK (@GalatasaraySK) July 18, 2019
A summer of change coming for PSG?
Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel has suggested that both Kylian Mbappe and Neymar could leave the club in the future.
The futures of both Neymar and Mbappe have been under the microscope for a while now.
Neymar has been linked with Real Madrid almost every transfer window since joining Paris Saint-Germain.
While a move has not yet come to fruition, the reports continue to pop up.
Meanwhile, Kylian Mbappe threw a curveball this week when he suggested that he may need to leave PSG.
Speaking at the Ligue 1 awards, Mbappe claimed that maybe it’s the moment ‘to have more responsibility’, whether that’s at PSG or ‘elsewhere with a new project’.
“I have discovered a lot here, and I feel it is maybe the moment to have more responsibility,” he explained.
“I hope that can perhaps be at Paris St Germain, that would be a great pleasure. Or maybe elsewhere with a new project.”
Now, Thomas Tuchel has seemingly suggested for the first time that both Mbappe and Neymar could leave.
‘If they are not, we will find solutions’
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, as quoted by the Mail, Tuchel claimed that he wants to keep both players.
However, the club are ‘not naive’, and if they do move on, ‘we will find solutions’.
‘As a coach, I do want them to continue, but this is football, we are not naive,’ Tuchel explained.
‘Many clubs want to transfer many players and the market is crazy, but if you ask me, the coach, yes, I want them here next season. But if they are not, we will find solutions.
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‘Mbappe has goals, he is very intelligent and maybe he thought it was time to say it, but he is invited, like all PSG players, to assume responsibilities.
‘It is not necessary to make a speech to say that. He’s a special guy, he wants to score, score and score, win all the possible titles. We have to accept it, I’m not angry.’
Liverpool 4- Burnley 2
Manchester City beat Watford 3-1 on Saturday.
As a result, Liverpool headed into Sunday’s game with Burnley four points behind the Citizens.
Liverpool had also not been in the best form of late, drawing four of their last six league outings.
Burnley would head into the Liverpool game just two points above the relegation zone.
Firmino’s impressive stat
The Clarets would take the lead at Anfield in the sixth minute through Ashley Westwood.
However, braces from Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane would eventually see Liverpool come away with a 4-2 win.
After bagging two vs Burnley, an impressive Roberto Firmino stat has emerged.
The Brazilian has now been involved in 100 goals for Liverpool across all competitions under Jurgen Klopp, scoring 63 and assisting 27.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) 10 March 2019
Firmino has also now found the net 11 times in 29 Premier League games this campaign.
After Firmino scored twice on Sunday Liverpool also became the first team this season two have three players in double figures for goals.
Liverpool are the 1st team this season to have players reach double figures for @premierleague goals:
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) March 10, 2019
Liverpool will now face a midweek trip to Bayern Munich before facing Fulham next Sunday.
Jurgen Klopp’s side will go top of the league if the beat Fulham as Man City are playing in the FA Cup next weekend.
Match week 14 of the 2019/20 Premier League season began on Saturday the 30th of November with Manchester City traveling to Newcastle.
With City already nine points adrift of table-topping Liverpool Pep Guardiola’s side really couldn’t afford to slip up vs the North-East outfit.
However, despite taking the lead twice, City only managed to leave St James’ Park with a point.
This meant Liverpool had the chance to go 11 points clear of City with a win over Brighton later that day.
Jurgen Klopp’s side did exactly that, emerging with a 2-1 win.
Elsewhere in Saturday’s 3 pm ties Crystal Palace beat Burnley, West Ham saw off Chelsea and Tottenham put Bournemouth to the sword.
In Saturday’s late PL kick-off Southampton beat Watford 2-1 in what was Quique Sanchez Flores’ final game in charge.
Sunday’s Premier League clashes then saw Arsenal draw with Norwich, Wolves draw with Sheffield United, Leicester beat Everton and Manchester United draw with Aston Villa.
With MW14 over, Alan Shearer has released his latest Premier League Team of the Week.
After seeing off Brighton with 10 men Liverpool had two defenders named in Shearer’s TOTW, those players being Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Newcastle also featured heavily after their 2-2 draw with the Premier League champions.
Magpies’ stars Martin Dubravka, Federico Fernandez and Jonjo Shelvey all made it into Shearer’s TOTW.
And after earning his first win in eight league ties, West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini was named manager of the week by Shearer.
The full Team of the Week can be seen below.
@alanshearer‘s Team of the Week
Thoughts on his selection? pic.twitter.com/1ANhnAX3OH
— Premier League (@premierleague) December 2, 2019
Jose Mourinho’s salary at Tottenham revealed
When Tottenham confirmed the appointment of Jose Mourinho on Wednesday, the club announced the following:
We are delighted to announce the appointment of Jose Mourinho as Head Coach on a contract that runs until the end of the 2022/23 season.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) November 20, 2019
One key issue omitted from the Spurs statement, however, is the size of Mourinho’s pay-packet in north London.
Accordingly, the Daily Mail have reported on the largesse of Mourinho’s salary with Spurs:
Mourinho, who will earn almost double the wage of his predecessor Mauricio Pochettino at £15 million a year, said: ‘I am excited to be joining a club with such a great heritage and such passionate supporters.’
How much did Mauricio Pochettino earn at Spurs?
As confirmed by the Mail’s Matt Barlow, Pochettino pocketed £8.5 million a season at Tottenham.
Is Mourinho really worth the extra £7.5 million a year?
Jose will be on the usual Jose-sized contract it seems. Rather than Poch’s piffling £8.5m per year. Deal closed last night by Pini Zahavi who first brought him to Chelsea in 2004.
— Matt Barlow (@Matt_Barlow_DM) November 20, 2019
How much did Mourinho earn at Man United?
It seems that Mourinho has maintained his usual wages.
The Guardian previously reported the following on Mourinho’s salary at Man United:
(Mourinho) was earning £15m a year at Old Trafford.
Pini Zahavi brought the Special One to Spurs
Matt Barlow has also revealed how Tottenham closed terms with Mourinho:
Deal closed last night by Pini Zahavi who first brought him to Chelsea in 2004.
Now 76, Israeli Pini Zahavi is known for being one of the most powerful agents in football.
In recent seasons Pini Zahavi has helped broker Neymar’s world-record move from Barcelona to PSG.
Elsewhere, Zavahi became Robert Lewandowski’s agent in the spring of 2018.
Bernardo Silva, Benjamin Mendy & social media updates
Will Man City midfielder Bernardo Silva be punished for his social media activity?
Last weekend, Silva tweeted and deleted an attention-grabbing social media update
Silva compared a picture of Mendy as a kid to the mascot for Conguitos, a Spanish chocolate brand.
Bernardo Silva could be banned for 6 games
In the Times on Wednesday, the potential punishment facing Silva is outlined:
The FA has asked City for their observations.
If Bernardo is charged for the tweet about Mendy, 25, and found guilty, the Portugal international could face anything up to a six-game ban under disciplinary proceedings brought in during the summer.
Will the FA take action against Bernardo Silva?
That remains unclear.
All we currently know is that the FA are investigating the issue.
That said, Kick It Out have made it clear that they believe Silva’s social media activity is unacceptable.
"Racist stereotypes are never acceptable as 'banter'."
— Kick It Out (@kickitout) September 23, 2019
Pep Guardiola defends Bernardo Silva
On Tuesday night, Pep Guardiola discussed the racism storm surrounding Bernardo Silva.
The Man City boss attempted to defend his midfielder, saying:
Bernardo is one of the most lovely people I ever met in my life.
He speaks four or five languages and that is the best way to understand how open-minded he is, and one of his best friends is Mendy. He’s like a brother for him.
The image is not about the colour of the skin. He took a picture of Benjamin when he was young and he related it to this cartoon, which was quite similar for the image, nothing about the colour of the skin, nationalities or whatever.
If something happened it would be a mistake.
🗣️ | "The image is not about the colour of the skin."
— Manchester City News (@ManCityMEN) September 24, 2019
Preston 0 – Man City 3
Reigning Carabao Cup holders Man City are on course to retain the trophy this season.
That’s after the Sky Blues won 3-0 at Preston in the cup on Tuesday.
Raheem Sterling starred for City scoring the opener, while Gabriel Jesus scored the second.
A Ryan Ledson own goal sealed Preston’s fate.