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Arsenal def. Watford 1-0; Courtesy Ben Foster Howler




Last updated on April 17th, 2019

Arsenal are back in the top 4 of the Premier League; courtesy a Ben Foster howler in the 10th minute and a red card to Troy Deeney the very next minute, gifting Gunners a 1-0 triumph over the Hornets.

Arsenal were presented an opening goal after Foster made a mess of the back pass in the 10th minute, allowing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to close him down and easily net one past him.

The victory made Arsenal manager, Unai Emery, believe a Champion’s League spot is in his team’s hands. Yet he agreed to the fact that his team should have controlled the match better against 10-man Watford.

“We were working to push the goalkeeper when he wanted to play like he was playing. It’s a very good action from Auba,” Emery said. “I think we can control the match better, and I think it was very important in this position with one player more, to break their lines and to attack the last third better,” he added.

Arsenal had only managed winning two of their away games in 2019 before this match, both of which came against the low ranked sides – Huddersfield and Blackpool in the FA cup draw. The team has stuck together as a good unit all throughout the season, but losing some crucial points, especially in the away games has made their ride topsy-turvy.

The only advantage that Arsenal has with the business end of the season well underway, is that they do not play any of Premier League’s big-six before the season ends. However, it still won’t be a walk in the park for them, as the battle for the Champions League spot continues to invite pressure.

Besides, Watford manager Javi Gracia, speaking to BBC Sport said: “I am very proud of my players. I am not interested in the result, we had our chances, hit the woodwork and created chances with 10 players.”

“I respect the referee’s decision. In my opinion, it is clear, maybe a yellow card but never a red card. I do not agree with the decision,” he added.

Undoubtedly, Watford were the better team that night, but things just didn’t go their way, specifically in the last 20 minutes as they pressed for an equalizer.

Nonetheless, with Arsenal now at 4th, Watford still remains at 10th. Further, as Arsenal plays at the Crystal Palace on Sunday, Hornets would travel to Huddersfield on Saturday for their next encounter.


Unai Emery Asks Arsenal to Ignore External Factors Ahead of Game with Napoli



Unai Emery

As the Gunners prepare to take on Partenopei tonight, Unai Emery is confident that the away crowd will not affect his team’s game. Arsenal will be playing against Napoli at San Paolo Stadium in Naples, Italy.

With a lead of 2-0 from the previous match against Napoli, Arsenal’s main objective will be to win the match and enter the semi-final of Europa League for the second time in two years.

An expected crowd of 60,000 will be gathered in the stadium to support their home team Napoli and hope for its comeback in the game.

But, Unai Emery trusts that the team can play the game without the support of the crowd. He said, “We know it’s going to be a different match. We are waiting for their best performance here with their supporters, the stadium, the atmosphere, the skills and the capacity tactically. We know 90 minutes here can be long. But I think we are ready.”

Arsenal’s centre-half Sokratis Papastathopoulos admitted that not letting the crowd affect their game play is as important as what happens in the game. 

“The atmosphere will be very good. I already played a lot of times here but I don’t think that changes anything for us. We have a very good team and we trust ourselves. We have players who have played here before. We have to play like the game is 0-0,” Sokratis said.

Unai Emery agrees with the line of thought of Sokratis that they have to play with the mindset of score being equal to both the sides.

However, Arsenal manager asserts that their prime objective will be to not play defensive and score one goal, which would put Napoli on the back foot and to win the game they would have to score a minimum of four goals.

“Our first target is to win. When you score in matches like this, we can take a good advantage with this goal. We are starting the game by attacking when we have the ball and have the space to run but defend when we need as well.

“We want to play thinking to win, thinking to score, thinking to push. We know it will be difficult but our mentality is to play the match thinking to win. They have players with experience, they have a big history. And also, they have a great coach,” Unai Emery said.

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Saudi and Infantino Caught Smearing FIFA World Cup Red Handed



Saudi Arabia and FIFA president Gianni Infantino

The FIFA World Cup 2022 began as a peace prospect to bring closer the Gulf nations, but is now witnessing ambush of unexpected events, as internal feuds continue to multiply. With less than 4 years before the penultimate bonanza in footballing history kicks off, the efforts to denounce its host have multiplied to an unexplainable event.

Laying ground on the basis of what transpired in June 2017, the charges against the host nation of sponsoring terrorism are still in place. However, the roots of such claim still remain unclear.

Besides, what was first billed as an event to host 32 teams, is now widely rumored to become a 48-team event.

Having said that, hosting more teams than expected challenges Qatar, which is pretty much on time with the deadline with a precondition to entertain 32 teams. With the ongoing facade across boundaries, the sensitivity of the decision questions what could be the real motive behind the move.

As FIFA’s President Gianni Infantino would state, the concept of expanding the tournament is directly linked to building the peace from the scratch in the Middle East. His notion of peace in the East is a plan with a great outlook. However, if seen logically, the decision made demands sharing the tournament with Kuwait and Oman.

Under the plan being considered currently, Qatar will host the majority of matches while the remaining ones will be played in Kuwait and Oman. The reason for it is beyond explanation because diplomatic tensions won’t heal in such a process.

Saudi Behind the Scenes

Now, while Infantino and his bid of stability is spread as a great initiative, the reality appears to be otherwise. His bid for expansion is allegedly linked to the money he was offered in the process. According to the account published by the ‘New York Times’, the President told his top board that a fund of investors from Middle East and Asia wanted to pay about $25 billion to buy an expanded version of FIFA’s Club World Cup.

Further, without revealing the identity of investors, Infantino tried hard to convince them and said that they do not have much time up their sleeve. However, the technique did not work as the council rejected the proposal saying that ‘it need more information’.

Nonetheless, Infantino’s bid for accepting such a proposal illustrates how the current state of flux in international soccer has added money to the equation.

At first, only a few details came forward about the deal that was struck by the FIFA President. However, as per the people briefed in the matter, the money offered was a covert way of expanding the tournament to China and Saudi Arabia.

Surprisingly, as soon as complete details emerged it became evident that the Saudis by using their Japanese conglomerate Soft Bank Group, tried to hollow FIFA. The gulf nation aimed at creating its committee using the $25 billion bid. The sole reason for it – to create international tournaments for the governing body of football, FIFA.

The influence of such a move would have directly hampered Qatar’s image, especially in the West. A region where the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) has already been exposed for hoaxing his modernization agendas; also a region he tries to influence the most.

The fight for 2022 FIFA World Cup has been mired in controversies since Qatar won the hosting rights. Now, as consideration from Saudi and UAE reaches Kuwait and Oman, the extent of lobbying to hamper the interest of FIFA for personal use continues to raise eyebrows. Moreover, the additional income estimated at $400.1 million if the tournament is expanded, is only justifiable to state how Infantino is lured into spearheading Saudi’s bid for expanding the tournament to 48 teams.

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Racism Concerns Raised by Raheem Sterling Need Strict Actions



Raheem Sterling

Racism raised its head again during the Euro Cup 2020 qualifying match between England and Montenegro. The England team won the match with goals from Raheem Sterling, Michael Keane, Ross Barkley and Harry Kane at regular intervals.

The game also marked the dawn of youngsters like Michael Keane, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Declan Rice and Ross Barkley.

However, the match was soon ruined with racist slurs by Montenegro fans towards the English players. Montenegro fans made monkey chants towards the Black English players.

Raheem Sterling responded to the remarks of Montenegro crowd in a unique way, mocking the racists ultimately. He covered his ears with his hands during the celebration of his goal in the 80th minute. Soon after the match, he posted the image on Instagram with a caption, “Best way to silence the haters (yeah I mean racists) #2019 #getsomeeducation”.

Sterling has continuously highlighted and reframed the discussion about racism. It is nice to see one of the best players in sport being honest about the discrimination faced by the coloured players.

England team manager, Gareth Southgate supported his players, criticising strongly during the press conference after the game. His remarks made sure that the maltreatment suffered by the team will not be taken as an unfortunate event during the game.

The racist slurs were said to be aimed at a 28-year-old player, Danny Rose, towards the end of the game. Rose experienced a similar issue in 2012, when he was playing for England in Serbia in an under-21 game.

Montenegro coach, Ljubiša Tumbaković, showed disregard against the racist remarks of crowd by shrugging his shoulders. His action of not intervening against the racist slurs towards the English players shows that there is still a long way before racism could be eradicated from Europe.

The event on Monday showed that UEFA has not been able to take control over discrimination, despite many efforts. UEFA has started a disciplinary action against Montenegro and the country will now be intensely inspected on how it deals with the matter at hand. The allegations are of crowd disturbances, throwing objects, setting off fireworks and blocked stairways.

While action of partial stadium ban would be the least punishment, disqualification from the Euro 2020 would be the ultimate one, if found guilty.

There needs to be a check on the instances of discrimination in the country as well. Many players, including Raheem Sterling and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, have experienced racial discrimination on the home ground as well.

Racism is clearly a problem that needs to be resolved at all fronts. The supporters also need to be aware of a limit in terms of venting out their frustration, without letting it affect the players.

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Footballer Lee Taylor Pounced his BMW in an Urge to Retaliate Insult



Lee Taylor

Lee Taylor, a footballer who plays for Margam Football Club, is accused of attacking a group of teenage boys at the game in Bridgend, South Wales with his BMW.

As reported to the Newport Crown Court, 11 youngsters were injured in the incident at Cornelly United’s ground. The victims had minor injuries, including cuts and bruises.

According to the information available pre- and post-incident, Lee Taylor, who was playing for Cornelly’s rivals Margam Football Club, indulged in an argument with a group of teenage boys because they taunted him for losing by 5-0.

As per Newport Crown Court hearing, the tension began soon after a group of teenage boys left the changing room on the evening of April 19 last year. Following the taunting by a teenage boy and his friends on Taylor losing the match he threatened to one boy: “You wanna go?” before getting behind the steering of his grey BMW, sparing the engine and then suddenly accelerating towards the boy and his friends.

Prosecutor Christopher Rees leading the case said “Taylor drove straight at the young boys, knocking them over like skittles at a bowling alley. It was a terrifying incident. ‘He had lost his temper. He deliberately mowed down the group using his vehicle as a one-tonne weapon to plough into the boys.”

 Rees further said that the act was utterly evil and intention was to hurt the boys otherwise there was no reason for him to accelerate suddenly. He also said that its just “sheer good fortune” that none of the boys were seriously injured but the possibility, looking at the incident was certainly high.

The intent of the incident also becomes clear as Lee Taylor did not hesitate to assault the boy and his friends, who held his bonnet and broke his windshield during the attack.

However, Lee Taylor, from Sandfields area of Port Talbot, has denied any such intention to cause harm to the boys despite various testimonies against his stance.

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Champions League: Sadio Mane Helps Liverpool Reach Quarter-Finals



Sadio Mane

On Wednesday, a stellar performance by Sadio Mane got Liverpool into quarter-finals. The team defeated and completely overshadowed their German opponents, Bayern Munich, by 3-1.

Five-time European champion Liverpool took control of the match in Munich and did not sway under the pressure of the last match of Round of 16, Leg 1, ending without any result. Liverpool became the fourth English Club to get into the quarter-finals after getting this season’s first away win in Europe.

While both the teams had the capability to turn the match into a nail-biting one, the mistakes by both the teams in possession of the ball turned the match into unsystematic event.

Sadio Mane scored the first goal of the match by shooting the ball into the empty net after Manuel Neuer made an unnecessary rush, an unexpected play by the player who made his 100th appearance into the Champions League.

However, the Bayern Munich got the score levelled with an unfortunate own goal by Liverpool defender Joel Matip while intercepting the pass, when the German winger tried passing the ball with a low cross to Robert Lewandoski after 13 minutes of the first goal of the match.

Centre Back Virgil Van Dijk quelled any wish to make a comeback in the game by scoring a header in the 69th minute of the match and converting the corner by James Milner into the goal. With this goal, Milner became the player providing the most number of assists (10) since the last season in the Champions League.

Sadio Mane crushed any remaining hopes of the German opponent by further scoring his second goal of the match, with a header with only six minutes remaining in the game. It was Mane’s 10th consecutive goal in the last 10 matches.

However, the match did not end for Liverpool as expected, as the left-back of the team Andrew Robertson picked up a yellow card in the stoppage time of the game, which means he will remain suspended in the first leg of the quarter-finals.

With Sadio Mane in form and morale gained by becoming fourth English team to get into the quarter-finals of the league, the Reds strengthened their chances to win the league for the sixth time since 2005.

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