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Arsenal and Chelsea to face-off in Europa League final

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Europa League

On Thursday, both the Arsenal and Chelsea made their ways into the finals of Europa league. While Arsenal defeated Valencia on their home ground in Spain, Chelsea led their way to finals by winning the match in penalty shootout against Eintracht Frankfurt.

The final will be held in Baku Olympic Stadium on May 29th, in Azerbaijan, with both the clubs set for the final faceoff.

Arsenal continued to display one of their best games till date and won the semi-final of the second leg with 4-2. Despite a lead of a 3-1 from the first leg, Arsenal continued to build pressure in the second semi-final. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang played a crucial role in securing the team’s place in final of the Europa League and scored a hat-trick in the game.

However, Chelsea had to work hard to get past the Eintracht Frankfurt and score a win of 4-3 from the penalties. The match ended with a draw of 1-1 and aggregate of 2-2 despite the extra-time in the second semi-final. With the draw, the match was entirely dependent on penalties, amidst which Kepa Arrizabalaga emerged as the hero for Chelsea.

The win can be said special for Arsenal because Alexandre Lacazette also appeared to be in the form along with Aubameyang. The qualification to final is also special for Arsenal as its coach Unai Emery is looking forward to winning the Europa league trophy for the fourth time.

The win against Eintracht Frankfurt FC in the penalty shootout and qualification for final was a chance of redemption for Kepa. Previously, Kepa was held responsible for the defeat in the Carabao Cup final, by Manchester City on February 24, as he refused the substitution with Willy Caballero.

After scoring a win, Arsenal’s hero Aubameyang said, “It means a lot. I think we have learned from last season [when they were eliminated in the semi-finals]. This year we didn’t make the same mistakes, so now we are through to the final and we are all happy.”

On the other hand, with respect to the win, Kepa said, “Penalties are down to luck. Today we won and in the Carabao Cup final we lost, but this is football.”

“Today was really good and we played against a very difficult team and we are very happy,” he added.

With Aubameyang in good form and Kepa encouraged from the win in the last match, both the clubs might have to pull of their best game and display the flair they are known for. As the final of the Europa League is still a couple of weeks away, the fans can’t keep calm for the final face-off.

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Belgian Mid-fielder Kevin De Bruyne Claims to Strike Back in Warning to Liverpool

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Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne seems to be undeterred and only emerge stronger after their unprecedented defeat from newly-promoted Norwich City at Carrow Road. The Manchester City star has made it clear in his latest statement that the Liverpool’s lead does not affect him.

Bruyne reminded The Reds that The Sky Blues have successfully managed to overcome the trail of seven points and won the Premier League title last year, so the Liverpool should not underestimate the Man City.

In their latest match against Norwich City, Pep Guardiola’s team lost their first league game since January by a score of 3-2. Even though, the Kevin De Bruyne and his team were able to establish themselves on the field, a series of blunders against Norwich cost them the match.

Prior to the match against Norwich, The Sky Blues finished at draw with the Tottenham Hotspur, costing them the drop in the points in the second match of their campaign. The situation further got worsened for the Pep Guardiola managed team as Liverpool scored a 3-1 victory over Newcastle United.

With this win, The Reds have maintained their campaign with 100 percent success rate and are leading the table with five points.

Following the game with the Norwich City, Kevin De Bruyne said, “Last season we were seven points behind – it happens. Of course, we want to win every game but it is difficult. You have to respect the other team and when they do well. They do well and that is it.

“It will be tough, the next seven months, like last year. It never stops. It is our job and sometimes it is hard but you have to take it on the chin. We lost four games out of 38 last season and that is a good record. We can still win this season with the same points at the end of this season.”

He further claimed that he is not worried about trailing far behind from their rivals, in the beginning of this season. Kevin De Bruyne also spoke about the decision of Pep Guardiola substituting him and said, “We’ve got so many games going on so sometimes he (Guardiola) is going to make a change for whatever reason, you just have to take it.”

Even though the defending champions, Man City are trailing behind they will be looking forward to make a comeback in the league by scoring a win against Watford next Saturday. On the other hand, it will certainly be difficult for Liverpool to maintain their 100 percent win rate as they will face Chelsea on Sunday.

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Norwich City Shock Manchester City; Defeat 3-2 at Home

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It wasn’t a match day that Manchester City had in its mind. However, the defending Premier League champions were stunned by the newly-promoted Norwich City anyway, when they lost by 3-2 against the odds at Carrow Road.

Firm favourites to win, Manchester City did not take long to establish themselves at the away venue. Passing the ball around, City looked confident with the hold of possession, while Norwich sat back and defended in numbers. Sergio Aguero also posed huge threat with his twists and flicks, but it was Norwich City who broke the deadlock with Kenny McLean who rose to an out swinger sent towards near post from the corner and headed into the top right in the 18th minute to put hosts 1-0 up.

However, Man City were defiant despite an early dent, and continued holding the ball and running at the opposition’s defence, but could not put the ball past Tim Krul net. Interestingly, having scored one, the hosts came back only 10 minutes later to double their advantage as Todd Cantwell – collecting a notch-perfect pass from Teemu Pukki – side-footed into an empty to make it 2-0.

The second goal left Man City pondering, and the team replied minutes later, but Raheem Sterling could only manage to hit the upright. Nonetheless, just before the half-time break, Bernado Silva curled a ball onto Aguero’s head, who planted a header to cut the deficit in half and make it 2-1.

Manchester City got the second half underway, but Norwich City spoiled the away side’s party only in the 50th minute, thanks to a defensive howler from Nicolas Otamendi. The defender dawdled onto the ball, which allowed Emiliano Buendia to dispossess him and pass the ball to Pukki, who scored an easy goal to make it 3-1.

Manchester City continued to do their passing thing and came hard at Norwich, but the home side somehow managed holding their ground. City were also partly unlucky on occasions with the likes of Aguero missing out on an easy goal from six-yards out, within the final quarter of the game.

Lastly, Rodri – the new-summer signing for City – managed to instill some hope in the 88th minute, with his long range effort finding the back of the Krul’s net to make it 3-2. But the defending champions could not save themselves as Norwich City held them for a famous victory.

“It was a good game, they arrived [at goal] three or four times and we conceded bad goals,” City manager Pep Guardiola told Sky Sports. “On the first set piece we knew they would attack the first post and the second one we didn’t make a counterattack, that can happen, but we didn’t control the line – and the third was a mistake,” he added.

Manchester City will feature against Watford in their next Premier League game, while Norwich squares off against Crystal Palace.

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Southampton Hold Manchester United to a Draw as Slow Start Continues

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Manchester United’s season that began on high hopes with 3 huge points against Chelsea, is now following the same old pattern of dropping points just like the last season. The Red Devils who squared off against Southampton at St. Mary’s, were held to a 1-1 draw by the home side. The result meant that the club plopped points for the third time in the first four Premier League games.

Manchester United were doing a bit of chasing in the initial minutes, but scored against the odds in the 10th minute via Daniel James. The 21-year-old lad – who joined from Swansea City this season – scored a thunderous third goal in his four games of the season to make it 1-0.

As the match continued, Manchester United grabbed a foothold in the possession and pressed better as a side, while Saints were looking a bit messy with the ball. However, United were still bleak in the last-four, and Southampton did manage a couple of shots before the half-time, but could not score.

Man United got the second-half underway, and made some early chances on the break. Southampton also started to pick up the pace of the game, but Che Adams missed a great opportunity and fired his shot wide off the near post. However, it didn’t take long after that shot, and the home side equalized (1-1) with a header of Jannik Vestergaard – who leaped over Victor Lindelof on the six-yard line and headed the ball into the corner – in the 58th minute.

The goal meant that Manchester United were once again terribly staring down the barrel. But Saints likely dented their hopes, when Kevin Danso made a reckless challenge on Scott McTominay, and collected his second yellow to head for the exits.

The Red Devils saw it as a great opportunity to push an extra man forward on the attack, and created a flurry of chances in the later half. With opportunities in the 83rd, 84th, 86th, 90th, and 90+3 minute, Manchester United came close to taking the lead, but 10-man Saints still managed to hold the away side, and the match ended 1-1 at St. Mary’s Stadium.

“We have dominated the last three games and we know we are on the right track, we’re getting used to that way of playing,” said Solskjær

“The last three games, they haven’t given us many points in return but we are getting there, we’re getting better and better at playing this way. It is a young team that will get used to it. We need to be more clinical, more ruthless when we go forward but we gave them enough encouragement to stay in the game,” he added.

Manchester United will face Leicester City in their next Premier League match, while Saints play Sheffield United.

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Everton Fan Sentenced Over Racist Comments on Mohamed Salah

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Mohamed Salah – the sensational striker for Liverpool – who was subjected to racist abuse on Twitter, has finally been served justice. The case dates back to August 6, when Gary Hyland – an Everton fan – published a series of racist abuse on Twitter and made fun of Salah and his teammates.

The 32-year-old Twitter user during an online conversation with Liverpool fans, made fun of the striker praying to Mecca at the half-time break, besides editing images of the whole team praying to Allah.

Following which, a supporter asked him: “What’s the issue with Muslims lad? Can you even articulate it?”

Hyland replied with an edited photograph of the striker wearing a suicide vest on the upper-half of his body. He further circulated even more images, made racist comments and directed fun at people praying to Allah.

On Friday, taking all the circumstances into consideration, he was sentenced to six-weeks of jail and suspended for 12 months at the Liverpool’s Magistrates court. The prosecution also conveyed that the comments inflicted damage to Mohamed Salah’s religious faith and were increasingly abusive.

The case was first reported to Merseyside Police who arrested Hyland at his home. Upon arrest, he was asked to surrender his phone, however, the Everton fan claimed that he had lost it. The cops though located it under his pillow.

Hyland, was also ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work in the community and 14 days of a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement, including attending a Promoting Human Dignity Course.

“These sorts of remarks fuel racial hatred and are extremely offensive to people from the race or religion that they are aimed at,” said Angela Conlan of the Crown Prosecution Service.

“Mohamed Salah does not deserve to be the object of abuse and neither does any person in a civilized society,” she added.

Racial abuse in football has been a pest spoiling the pious game for decades. Earlier, while players mostly complained about the on-field comments, the use of social media has only made the matter worse.

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2019-20 Champions League Draw lists Messi-led Barcelona in ‘Group of Death’

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Champions League Draw

The 2019-20 UEFA Champions League draw sealed the fate of the 32 teams for the group stage of the league on Thursday. The draw has put together teams from across the globe to ensure a high-pitched entertainment for fans. All the teams have been divided in a group of four, making a total of eight groups in the tournament.

The current title-holder Liverpool will have a faceoff with Napoli and Salzburg in the group stage of the tournament. However, amongst all the eight groups, Group F is expected to show the most intense action for all football lovers. It won’t be wrong to call Group F as the “group of death” since it includes famed powerhouse football clubs like Barcelona, Dortmund, and Inter Milan.

The Champions League draw formed eight groups:

Group A: Paris St-Germain, Real Madrid, Club Bruges and Galatasaray; Group B: Bayern Munich, Tottenham, Olympiakos, Red Star, Belgrade; Group C: Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb, Atalanta;
Group D: Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Lokomotiv Moscow.
Group E: Liverpool, Napoli, Salzburg, Genk
Group F: Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Slavia Prague
Group G: Zenit St Petersburg, Benfica, Lyon, RB Leipzig
Group H: Chelsea, Ajax, Valencia, Lille

The group stage of the tournament will commence on September 17, and each team will be playing a home and an away game with the opposition teams. Following the group stage, only two teams from each group will advance to the next round, the knockout stage.

With Champions League draw taken place, there are many historical feats to be achieved. Apart from Liverpool gunning to become the first English team to reach three consecutive Champions League finals, Chelsea would also try to ensure that the Blues still have the best win rate in the group stage of the tournament.

Even though every group has probable chances to witness nail-biting match, the American fans will be waiting for the matches of Group H to commence. As during the opening matches of the stage, Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic and Lille’s Timothy Weah will be playing against each other in the group matches of the stage.

Following the Champions league draw, Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus said, “A few of us from the team were stood together at breakfast this morning and we all agreed that we’d love to draw Barcelona. The games against Barcelona will have a party atmosphere for us and our fans! We believe in our quality and our aim is to go through.”

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