Thursday, February 15, 2018

Mkhitaryan showing why his signing was a masterstroke


The Armenian was ineffectual against Spurs but produced another assist masterclass to all but kill off Arsenal's Europa League tie
Four assists in four appearances makes fine reading for Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The Armenian midfielder was part of the deal that saw Alexis Sanchez head to Manchester United and it’s clear in the early going which team got the player more suited to their game.
Mkhitaryan was largely ineffectual in the north London derby defeat to Tottenham last weekend but his other appearances have reminded the Premier League why he was so sought after while he starred for Borussia Dortmund two seasons ago.
Arsenal’s Europa League campaign presents an opportunity to win European silverware and directly qualify for next season’s Champions League. Mkhitaryan’s involvement has increased in importance as he’ll be without his former Dortmund team-mate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the latter stages of the competition due to the Gabon striker being cup-tied.


The onus is on Mkhitaryan, Mesut Ozil and Alex Iwobi to assert themselves as they did at the Jamkraft Arena on a freezing cold evening in northern Sweden.
Ostersunds sat off Arsenal for the opening 30 minutes before realising that they needn’t deploy such a tactic. In fact, the Gunners have been at their most vulnerable in the last few seasons when opposition teams press hard against a side whose defensive deficiencies have been exposed far too often.
The Europa League is a breath of fresh air for Arsene Wenger’s side and he will surely see success in the competition as a genuine case to keep him in the Arsenal job until his contract expires next summer.
The established elite of Arsenal, AC Milan, Borussia Dortmund, Marseille and Sporting all triumphed in their respective ties on Thursday night and it’s already clear how the next stage of the tournament is beginning to shape up. Colombian shot-stopper David Ospina will be Arsenal’s No.1 in the cup competition and he proved his worth with a fine save in the first half and a penalty stop in the closing moments against Englishman Graham Potter’s team.
The second leg will give Wenger the chance to field the likes of Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and 20-year-old January signing Konstantinos Mavropanos. The manager stuck to his promise of fielding a full-strength team in the first leg but he’ll surely be tempted to rest a few starters for the match next Thursday.
Mkhitaryan meanwhile has now provided more assists in his last four games than he managed in his last 20 appearances for Manchester United. He’s a Wenger type of player who will clearly flourish when given space and an opportunity to shine in his favoured position.
While some will diminish the significance of Arsenal’s defeat – especially when they turn in such Jekyll-and-Hyde performances in the Premier League – it’s worth noting that European success could provide the necessary platform to move on to the next level and attract an even higher calibre of player.

Real want Pogba We start in The Sun who have a big back-page exclusive that Real Madrid want to sign Paul Pogba for £120million in the summer. The report stresses that United do not want to sell and at the moment Pogba does not want to leave (which does beg the question why we’re bothering at all) but Real will look to change the player’s mind in the summer.

Friday’s SUN Sport: “Real: We’ll give a Pog a home”

Monday, February 12, 2018

2018 World Cup is both a challenge and an opportunity – Balogun


One of the surest bets for the Super Eagles 23-man team to Russia in June [as long as he is fit] is Leon Balogun, who plays for Mainz in the German Bundesliga.
The defender will mark his 30th birthday during the World Cup and it is definitely better late than never.
Speaking to former Liverpool forward, Stan Collymore, at his club’s training ground at Bruchweg, Balogun admitted to Collymore that the ‘big excitement’ of playing in his first World Cup “is still to come”.
“On the day of the World Cup draws, I was at training,” but his teammates [at Mainz] asked if he wanted to know the countries Nigeria was grouped with. When the answer came and said Argentina, Balogun replied, “Again?”
“I think it is every World Cup. It is a big challenge but it is also a big opportunity because no one would have us on their list and say they will be eliminated.”
He added that the biggest goal for the team is to “leave the group stage”.
Collymore then made this assertion – “When Africa is going to win the World Cup, it is going to be Nigeria.”
Why does he believe this? “Huge amount of players, a huge amount of players that have always played in Europe and being successful. Kanu, Jay-Jay Okocha,” Collymore mentioned some of the more successful Nigerian exports to Europe.
But he then threw in a question, “Do you feel that the team spirit now is strong enough to carry the expectation of the Nigerian nation?”
 Balogun replied: “We know Nigerian fans have huge expectations but truly if you asked them what they would do if Nigeria actually went and won the World Cup?
“The reply would be ‘that is beyond the expectation.” Balogun then assured that one thing the players want to do is make Nigerians proud. Truly, that is the minimum the fans are asking for from the team coached by Gernot Rohr.

PHOTOS: 11 Images Of Super Eagles’ Magnificent World Cup Hotel

PHOTOS: 11 Images Of Super Eagles’ Magnificent World Cup HotelFIFA on Friday confirmed the base camps for all 32 teams set to feature at the Russia 2018 World Cup in June.
The Super Eagles will be staying at the magnificent Sanatoriy Istochnik in Essentuki.
Located in Essentuki, the Sanatoriy Istochnik is a luxury health resort that consists of two buildings and offers a variety of fitness facilities.
According to travel websites, all rooms have flat-screen televisions and dietary, healthy menus fit for elite athletes like the Super Eagles are available at the property’s restaurant.
The resort has an indoor swimming pool, sauna and world-class gym with Wi-Fi available all around the grounds.Guests can play billiards at the resort and some of the general rooms have stunning designs. It is 36km from the  Mineralnye Vody Airport.                                                           Rooms cost between N27,000 and N66,000.

Rohr Hits Germany To Monitor Eagles Stars; Set To Name Squad For Serbia, Poland Friendlies

Image result for Rohr Hits Germany To Monitor Eagles StarsBy Bamidele Boluwaji: Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr has arrived in Germany to monitor players ahead of the international friendly matches against Serbia and Poland, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
The former OG Nice of France manager who qualified Nigeria for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, has also been to France to speak with some of the players he intends to bring to the national team, since he left Morocco where Nigeria participated in the 2018 CAF African Nations Championship.
According to the Super Eagles Media Officer, Toyin Ibitoye, Rohr is determined to present a strong team at the 2018 World Cup and he has been scouting round Europe to get the best players that will help him actualise his dream of excellent performances in Russia.
“Rohr is in Germany now monitoring players that could make his team for the upcoming international friendly matches that will help him get the best for the World Cup”, Ibitoye told Completesportsnigeria.com
“He is determined to present a quality team in Russia and he has started monitoring the players he wants to give the opportunities to prove what they can do for Nigeria.”
Leon Balogun and Anthony Ujah, both of Mainz, and Wolfsburg’s Victor Osimhen are some of the Nigerian players currently playing in the German Bundesliga.
Meanwhile, Completesportsnigeria.com has been informed that the list of players that will play both Serbia and Poland international friendly matches will be out in early March.
“The list will be out soon but I’m sure around early March and that is why he is trying to move round now to see the players he is going to invite,” CSN was informed.
Nigeria, who will face Iceland, Argentina and Croatia in the first round of the FIFA World Cup in Russia, will play friendly matches with Poland in Warsaw on March 23 and Serbia in London on March 27.

Premier League news update

PosTeamPWDLPts
1Man City27233172
2Man Utd27175556
3Liverpool27159354
4Chelsea27165653
5Spurs27157552
6Arsenal27136845
7Burnley2799936
8Leicester27981035
9Everton27971134
10B'mouth27871231
11Watford27861330
12West Ham27791130
13N'castle27771328
14Brighton276101128
15C. Palace27691227
16Swansea27761427
17H'field27761427
18S'hampton275111126
19Stoke27671425
20WBA273111320