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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Another day, another report suggesting that one of Europe's footballing giants will seek to poach Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund this summer. The latest comes from Bild, who writes that Real Madrid are the most recent superclub to be interested in the 19-year-old winger.
Los Blancos have been linked with a move for Kylian Mbappe for a number of years, and while the 20-year-old Frenchman remains a favourite of Zinedine Zidane, there is an acceptance in the Spanish capital that Paris Saint-Germain are unwilling to part with their young star. Zidane, who returned to the Madrid dugout barely six weeks ago, has reportedly told club president Florentino Perez to bring in Sancho instead.
Dortmund have been telling outlets across Europe that Sancho is not for sale for months now, but Bild writes that the England international could indeed be had for the right price. The club are said to be open to a sale, should the fee reach €180 million, a price that would make Sancho the joint-second-most expensive footballer in history.

Fremantle have recalled Cam McCarthy and lock-down defender Ryan Nyhuis for Saturday night’s clash with the Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium.
Coach Ross Lyon stuck to his word during the week that Connor Blakely would return from a serious hamstring injury through the WAFL.
The Dockers couldn’t consider suspended defender Taylin Duman and opted to bring in Nyhuis for his first AFL game since round 22 last year.
McCarthy, who has booted 10 goals this year, returns after missing the 24-point win over Greater Western Sydney due to illness, replacing Brennan Cox, who went scoreless in his first game of the season last weekend.
Cox, Bailey Banfield, Sean Darcy and Mitch Crowden were the emergencies, with David Mundy named on the ball for his 300th match.
The Bulldogs made just one change to the side that went down to Carlton last weekend, bringing in Jackson Trengove for the omitted Bailey Williams.

Premier League defeat on Arsenal.

Arsenal's hopes of securing a top-four place were dealt a blow as Wolves cruised to a 3-1 Premier League win at Molineux on Wednesday.

Any thoughts the Gunners would return to winning ways after Sunday's damaging defeat to Crystal Palace were extinguished during a 17-minute spell in the first half, which saw Wolves score three times.

Ruben Neves got them up and running with a glorious free-kick shortly before the half-hour mark, while Matt Doherty and Diogo Jota put the game to bed before the interval after some generous defending from Unai Emery's side.

Defeat leaves Arsenal – who scored a late consolation through Sokratis Papastathopoulos – a point behind fourth-place Chelsea, while Wolves are now one point ahead of Watford in seventh.
It's all over! Wolves take all three points with an emphatic victory over @Arsenal. Goals from Ruben Neves, Matt Doherty and Diogo Jota in the first half make all the difference! #WOLARS

pic.twitter.com/ROAek39qMQ

— Wolves (@Wolves) April 24, 2019
Arsenal dominated the early exchanges but it was Wolves who carved out the first clear openings, Joao Moutinho whipping wide from 20 yards and Raul Jimenez prodding over from close range.

Neves' fourth goal of the campaign set them on their way after 28 minutes, the Portugal international curling a 25-yard free-kick inside Bernd Leno's right-hand post, before Doherty headed Jonny's cross past the flailing German goalkeeper nine minutes later.

Jota then rounded off a stunning first-half display, jinking past two defenders and squeezing a low shot through the weak resistance of the beleaguered Leno.

An Arsenal comeback failed to materialise in the second period and Jimenez should have added a fourth for the hosts after 68 minutes, the Mexico striker blazing wide after a flowing move.

Sokratis headed home Granit Xhaka's corner 10 minutes from time but the damage had been done during that blistering first-half spell as Wolves secured a first ever Premier League win against the Gunners.

What does it mean? Arsenal woeful, Wolves shining on the big stage

Arsenal were rotten and can consider themselves fortunate to still be in with a shot of qualifying for next season's Champions League with three matches left to play. A combination of haphazard defending and impotent attacking was their downfall and they will need a dramatic improvement if they are to sneak into the top four.

Wolves, meanwhile, have exceeded all expectations during their first season back in the Premier League and put in another performance that suggests they fully deserve their current status as 'the best of the rest'. Carry on like this and they could well be pushing for a top-six spot next season.

Neves thinks outside the box

The 22-year-old has scored a host of stunning goals from long distance since his arrival from Porto and he added another to his highlight reel with a glorious free-kick that gave Leno no chance. From then, Wolves did not look back.

Manchester City are a point ahead of Liverpool in the Premier League after Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sane downed Manchester United.

Second-half goals form Bernardo Silva and substitute Leroy Sane gave Manchester City a 2-0 derby triumph over Manchester United as Pep Guardiola's men edged back ahead of Liverpool in the Premier League title race.

Following a humiliating 4-0 defeat at Everton on Sunday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made five changes to the United XI and he was rewarded with an enterprising first-half display.

But PFA Player of the Year nominee Silva broke the deadlock in the 54th minute and Sane gave the off-colour David de Gea another moment to forget 12 minutes later.

City are a point ahead of Liverpool, knowing victories in their final three games will guarantee back-to-back titles and complete two-thirds of an unprecedented domestic treble.

Jesse Lingard volleyed wide from Paul Pogba's exquisite 16th-minute pass as an end-to-end contest began to develop – De Gea beating away Silva's rasping drive before United sprung up the field and Marcus Rashford was denied by an alert Ederson.

City gradually found their poise as half-time approached, with De Gea thwarting Raheem Sterling at the end of a deft move in the United box.

Fernandinho hobbled off injured after making a brilliant tackle on Pogba early in the second half.

Sane's introduction meant Ilkay Gundogan dropping back to the base of the midfield and Silva dropping into a central role, and the two men combined in their new positions as the Portugal international caught out De Gea at his near post.

Sergio Aguero then hit a rasping shot against the outside of the same upright but Lingard passed up a chance to level when Rashford's bouncing ball across goal evaded Vincent Kompany and the England midfielder.

Sterling's charge around Fred to tee up Sane was the nerve-settling moment City required and United's earlier verve evaporated as a result.
 
What does it mean? Advantage City in relentless title charge

Chelsea can report upon the potential woes of facing a motivated Burnley, while Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers might fancy flipping the 2013-14 narrative when his side visit the Etihad Stadium on May 6.

City then close against a Brighton and Hove Albion side who could still be scrapping for their Premier League lives. But, however much United might have diminished from the side who retained the title in 2008-09 – no team has done it since – it is hard to escape the feeling Guardiola has negotiated his biggest remaining challenge.

Arsenal's defeat at Wolves means United's stumbling top-four bid still has life, despite having lost seven of their last nine games across all competitions.

Ederson poise pivotal to City triumph

At times this season, Ederson has looked like City's most involved spectator – looking on as goals are rattled at the other end. But twice in the space of a week he has stood up to show razor sharp instincts and flawless handling to set up pivotal wins. The Brazilian did not have to make the eye-catching saves he made versus Tottenham at the weekend but he was a calming influence for a jittery City before the interval, making the match a tale of two goalkeepers.

Near-post woes deepen De Gea's malaise 

United's outstanding performer of the post-Alex Ferguson years, the Spain goalkeeper is undergoing a dire period. After dropping a speculative Lionel Messi shot into his net at Camp Nou last week and shipping four at Goodison Park, there were suspicions he might have done better with Silva's opener. That his attempts on Sane's goal amounted to a howling error was beyond doubt.

What's next?

City travel to Burnley on Sunday, while United are back at Old Trafford for another crunch clash against Chelsea.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Barcelona will be LaLiga champions if Atletico Madrid lose at home to Valencia after Ernesto Valverde's side won 2-0 at Alaves.
Carles Alena and Luis Suarez scored as Barcelona took another big step towards defending their LaLiga title with a 2-0 win at Deportivo Alaves.
Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba were among the stars named on the bench by Ernesto Valverde, who rested Ivan Rakitic entirely, but Barca eased to victory at Mendizorroza on Tuesday.
Alena and Suarez struck within the space of six second-half minutes to boost Barca ahead of their Champions League semi-final clash with Liverpool next week.
The Catalan giants will be confirmed as LaLiga champions for the eighth time in 11 seasons should nearest rivals Atletico Madrid lose at home to Valencia on Wednesday.
Suarez and Philippe Coutinho had early efforts blocked and the striker then saw his shot kept out by the legs of goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco after he was fed by Ousmane Dembele.
Arturo Vidal headed Dembele's right-wing cross over with Gerard Pique seemingly in a better position behind him as Barca sought the breakthrough.
Barca had created few chances in Messi's absence but they took the lead in the 54th minute.
Sergi Roberto, who switched from left-back to right-back at half-time, set up Alena with a clever pass and he beat Pacheco with a placed left-footed finish.
It was soon 2-0 in bizarre circumstances, Pique having a goal ruled out for offside as a VAR review instead led to a penalty for a handball by Tomas Pina.
Pacheco chose correctly in diving to his left but Suarez's penalty beat him for pace, and despite Barca taking a two-goal advantage Valverde sent Messi on for Dembele.
Messi and Vidal failed to add to the scoreline in the closing stages but the champagne can go on ice with the title virtually secured.

Mauricio Pochettino says Christian Eriksen is open to talks over a new contract after his heroics against Brighton boosted Tottenham’s Premier League top-four hopes.

Eriksen produced a moment of quality in the 88th minute to hand Spurs a 1-0 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which strengthens their grip on the Champions League places.

The Dane is out of contract at the end of next season and is currently stalling on a new deal, with Real Madrid reported to be interested in signing him.

Pochettino has revealed that Eriksen is open to discussing a new deal, but it will not be until the end of the season.

“I think I was clear a few months ago,” Pochettino said. “It is a situation that is a very special situation, Christian is a special person, I think we are all special, different and we need to understand that.

“The timing for him or for the club to be agreeing something are maybe different to another player.

“I hope and I wish Christian can be with us in the future but I think Christian and us we are so open to talk and we will see what happens.

Christian Eriksen open to talks over new Tottenham deal – Mauricio Pochettino

“I think it is so close to the end of the season, a lot of time to talk after and I think the most important thing now, not only for him, is for all the players to be focused and try to achieve the things we want.

“We have a lot of big things ahead and we need to be focused only to try and recover, train and compete.”

Eriksen’s decision whether to stay at the club or not may be influenced by how Spurs end their season, with a Champions League crown still in the offing, and they took a big step towards another season in Europe’s premier club competition with a narrow victory over Brighton.

The Seagulls, fighting for their lives at the other end of the table, defended with 11 men behind the ball and it looked like Spurs were headed towards a first goalless draw in 68 games until Eriksen came to the rescue.

It was vital that Spurs capitalised on Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United all dropping points over the Easter weekend and Pochettino knows his side are in pole position.

“We are in a position now that is in our hands to be in the top four,” he added. “If we are capable of winning the next three games in the Premier League then we will be third.

“I think that is the key, thinking about ourselves and then seeing what’s happening next to us of course.”

Brighton weathered the storm for 88 minutes and looked like holding on for a precious point and their late slip left boss Chris Hughton feeling heartbroken.


“That is very much the feeling at the moment,” he said.

“I genuinely felt that we had a little bit of fortune go our way, they hit the woodwork, and you get a feeling that it is going to come, but the longer it went on I thought we were going to hold out.

“If we managed the game a little bit better at the end we would have got the result we wanted.

“We’re in a pressurised position but it is only us that have put us there.

“We need to take whatever we can from these last two performances and they have been ‘better feel’ performances for us.”


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