Tagged in: EPL

Luiz future at Arsenal in doubt

David Luiz could be set for an Arsenal exit just one year after arriving from Chelsea.

The Gunners paid their west London rivals £8 million ($9.8m) to sign the Brazil international last summer, with the centre-back completing his shock move across the capital on deadline day.

And despite some high profile errors, Luiz has become persistent in the heart of the Arsenal defense, both under Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta, who was appointed in December following Emery’s dismissal.

Luiz has featured in all but one of Arteta’s 15 matches in charge and has often spoken in glowing terms of the Spaniard’s methods.

“Mikel is doing amazing, I am enjoying being almost 33 years old and still learning and improving and to see how beautiful football is,” Luiz told Adidas in April.

“Every day he changes something more and how a new idea and philosophy can still improve me as a person, as a player and as a leader.” But despite his close relationship with Arteta, Luiz could soon be on the look out for a new club – with Arsenal still to start talks over activating the clause in his contract which would see him stay at Emirates Stadium for another season.

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The Gunners do have William Saliba arriving this summer following his loan spell with Saint Etienne and are also expected to sign Pablo Mari on a permanent deal from Flamengo.

Mari, a naturally left-footed centre-back, would be in direct competition with Luiz, given both prefer to play as the left-sided central defender in a back four.

However, Luiz has publicly stated he has no issues moving to accommodate the Spaniard, who arrived in January on an initial loan deal.

Luiz is one of the highest earners at Arsenal and the north London club are looking to drastically lower their wage bill amid the increasing financial implications being caused by the coronavirus crisis.

The Gunners are predicted to lose up to £144m ($177m) if the entire 2020-21 season is played behind closed doors due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Arsenal could start full contact training as early as Thursday after Premier League clubs unanimously agreed to step up plans for a return to action.

Players have been training in groups of up to five since last week, but with social distancing guidelines still in place.

But during a Premier League shareholder meeting on Wednesday, clubs agreed to resume full contact training once again ahead of the league’s planned resumption next month.

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Chelsea ready to offload several players

A source close to Chelsea says that the club is in the process of an overhaul sales of many players and that no one is secure right now including the best midfield in the league, N’Golo Kante.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard took on the job at Chelsea not long ago and he’s already unveiling his plan to give Chelsea a new look. He wants to sell players like N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, and many other first-team players as he plans to focus on top young players.

Chelsea is ready to be very active in the transfer market soon the coronavirus clears, they are in the market for Dortmund player Jadon Sancho. However, Manchester United is also in the race to pay for Sancho’s transfer to Old Trafford.

United has set aside about £120million to finish the deal and if Chelsea wants him, they’d have to be able to spend more than Man U.

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Chelsea just got of a transfer ban for violating Fifa rules in January and the blue’s boss plans to wait until the summer of 2020 to offload players so he could spend more on the young, more energetic, and skillful players that he has on his radar.

Frank Lampard has shown interest in securing Leicester city’s left-back Ben Chilwell, and they are also looking to contact Lyon for Mousa Dembele’s transfer cost. Also, Lampard has strategies for Arsenal’s fantastic Stricker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang along with Timo Werner of RB Leipzig.

Since the blue was able to sell their star striker Eden Hazard to Real Madrid for a whooping £102 m, this shows that they have a lot of money in the bank to use on new players. And if they want to let go more players as they have a plan to do, they’d be able to buy better players.

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Arsenal players, coaches agree 12.5 wage cut

Arsenal players and coaching staff have approved to take a voluntary 12.5 per cent pay cut to help support the club financially during the coronavirus crisis.

Talks will continue on an individual basis with some players who have not agreed to the deal, but the vast majority of players have agreed to blanket measures. The proposal will stay on the table for those who have not yet agreed to it.

A statement from the club clarified the agreement is based on the assumption that the 2019-20 Premier League season will be completed, and that full broadcasting revenue will be received as a result.

The statement read: “The move follows positive and constructive discussions.

“In these conversations there has been a clear appreciation of the gravity of the current situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and a strong desire for players and staff to show their backing for the Arsenal family.

“Reductions of total annual earnings by 12.5 per cent will come into effect this month, with the contractual paperwork being completed in the coming days.

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“If we meet specific targets in the seasons ahead, primarily linked to success on the pitch, the club will repay agreed amounts.

“We will be able to make those repayments as hitting these targets, which the players can directly influence, will mean our financial position will be stronger.

“The agreement is based on the assumption we will finish the season 2019-20 and receive the full broadcasting revenues.

“The resulting savings will help cover some of the financial risks we have this season in relation to our matchday and commercial income.

“We are proud and grateful to our players and staff for pulling together to support our club, our people and our community in these unprecedented times which are some of the most challenging we have faced in our history.”

Last Monday, players refused a wage-cut proposal but talks with manager Mikel Arteta helped steer the club towards an amicable resolution.

Despite cutbacks, transfer plans are still being made.

The Gunners have contacted Reims over a potential €15 million (£13m/$16m) move for 22-year-old centre-back Axel Disasi, while fellow defender Pablo Mari is hopeful his loan switch from Flamengo will be made permanent.

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Title goes to Liverpool if season over

Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan says it would only be “fair” for opponents Liverpool to be awarded the English Premier League trophy if the season cannot be completed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Gundogan told German broadcaster ZDF that Liverpool deserved to be crowned champions given their massive 25-point lead over second-placed City, the current holders, which has left them just two victories away from the title.

“For me, that would be okay, yes,” Gundogan said, on being asked whether Liverpool should be handed their first top-flight title for 30 years should the season not be completed.

“You have to be fair as a sportsperson,” he added, while conceding that it was a difficult decision for football authorities given the impact that the cancellation of the season would have at both ends of the table.

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“There are different opinions. For clubs who have had a very good season, it obviously wouldn’t be nice if it was cancelled now,” he stated.

“On the other hand, for clubs who aren’t doing as well and are maybe in the relegation places, an abandonment would obviously suit them.”

The Premier League season has been suspended until April 30th, but it is looking increasingly likely that the date may have to be pushed back further.

German international Gundogan also stated he would be open to taking a pay-cut should English clubs follow the likes of Juventus and Borussia Dortmund in asking their players to accept reduced wages so non-playing staff can be paid.

“Of course I think it’s okay, that goes without saying, (but) there’s been no discussion in England yet,” he stated.

“Perhaps that’s because the English clubs are a bit financially stronger than the clubs in Germany at the moment.

“I don’t know who has the final say in that decision. On the other hand, if a player says, ‘no, I don’t want that, I worked hard for it, I get my salary’, then it can go in the opposite direction.

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Liverpool go 19 points up with win at West Ham

If Liverpool already had an ironclad grip on the Premier League table coming into Wednesday’s match versus West Ham United, it now has an almost unbreakable one.

The Reds got goals from Mohamed Salah and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain bracketing halftime to skate past the Hammers 2-0 at London Stadium to go 19 points clear at the top and deepen the hosts’ relegation worries.

West Ham looked solid on the break, but they made too many individual errors to overcome against such a dominant side. It could have been even more, but Salah hit the post with 12 minutes to go and West Ham continued to wilt as the clock continued to tick down.

The Hammers’ closest effort was a near own-goal from Trent Alexander-Arnold who luckily struck his own post in the second half. The Reds no longer have their game in hand, but it certainly feels like they no longer require it.

With 14 games remaining, Liverpool has only dropped a staggering two points all year and certainly feels poised to put forth a historic season, whether it be undefeated, a record point total, or both.

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So far Liverpool has navigated this season brilliantly despite a number of injuries and fitness concerns to various players. Alisson has missed time, numerous defenders such as Joel Matip and Alexander-Arnold have spent time on the sidelines, and the midfield has been shuffled constantly.

Yet the attacking trio of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah remained largely untouched outside of the occasional rest. So without Mane, it was interesting to see how the Reds approached a game versus a clearly inferior opponent in the absence of their most consistent attacker.

Liverpool has now beaten all 19 teams in the league at least once this season.

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Liverpool defeat Manchester United

Mohamed Salah ripped off his Liverpool jersey at a freezing Anfield after completing a 2-0 win over Manchester United in stoppage time on Monday morning and rousing fans on the Kop to sing: “We’re gonna win the league.”

It’s been a 30-year wait but there is no longer any trepidation from the Liverpool supporters as their team has moved 16 points in front at the Premier League summit.

“Now you’re gonna believe us,” they chanted.

The Reds mathematically need 30 points to secure the title but, as it stands, if they go undefeated they could clinch the Premier League with a win over defending champions Manchester City when they face off in a one-versus-two battle in early April.

It took Salah getting on the end of goalkeeper Alisson’s inspired long ball with the final whistle about to blow for the Liverpool title party to begin with four months of the season remaining.

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A 13th straight league victory since the sides last met at Old Trafford in October continues.

Liverpool’s relentless run towards a first league title in three decades, while United remain five points off the top four in fifth.

Liverpool have now taken 64 points out a possible 66 available this season, having only dropped points versus Manchester United when the teams drew in October.

Liverpool also have a match in hand to come on closest challengers Manchester City and could have been more comfortable winners after seeing two first half goals ruled out and a host of clear chances go astray.

United is the only team to take Premier League points off the European champions this season, but it rarely looked like lightning would strike twice once the hosts went in front on 14 minutes.

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Tottenham against Chelsea weekend preview

Jose Mourinho and Frank Lampard meet again as Tottenham and Chelsea face off in a Premier League London derby on Sunday.

Just a few weeks ago, it looked as though the top four was beyond Tottenham: now, a victory over Chelsea would see them leapfrog the Blues into the Champions League qualification places.

Mourinho’s return to Premier League football has seen Spurs close in on the top four, with Chelsea’s run of four defeats in their last five League matches cause for alarm at Stamford Bridge.

The Special One would dearly love a win against his former club, especially since the fans turned on him when he joined Manchester United. Lampard, meanwhile, needs a result – and beating his mentor on the road is exactly what he needs right now

Lampard’s Blues remain fourth in the table, but their poor recent run has shown up a few limitations in the squad – particularly in defence.

Mourinho is likely to target those ruthlessly, and Chelsea will need to be at their best to keep the likes of Harry Kane out.

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Hugo Lloris (elbow) and Michel Vorm (calf) remain out of action for Spurs. Tanguy Ndombele (groin), Erik Lamela (thigh) and Ben Davies (ankle) are all out as well, so Mourinho is unlikely to make huge changes.

As for Chelsea, Ruben Loftus-Cheek is still some way off match fitness, while Fikayo Tomori (hip) and Olivier Giroud (ankle) are doubts.

Tottenham have a poor Premier League record versus Chelsea, winning just seven of their 54 meetings. Chelsea boast 28 victories along with 19 draws.

Both sides won at home in the League last season, with Spurs collecting a 3-1 victory last November before losing 2-0 at the Bridge in February.

As for the managers, Mourinho and Lampard have already faced off once as coaches, with Lampard’s Derby stunning Mourinho’s Manchester United with a Carabo Cup penalty shootout win at Old Trafford in September 2018.

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Manchester United defeats Tottenham in Mourinho´s return

This was a return to the Theatre of Dreams that Jose Mourinho will not have wanted to imagine but one that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must have fantasised about.

Mourinho’s re-appearance, a year to the month he was dismissed by Manchester United, ended in a limp loss as Tottenham Hotspur lost for the first time since he was appointed.

The Humble One did not expect to be humbled and although he remained restrained throughout how he will have dreamt of getting one over the club that felt he was not that special any more.

There would be no knee slide, no fist pump, no tapping of his chest for Mourinho as he watched Marcus Rashford inspire United to victory and in doing so went a long way towards relieving the mounting pressure on Solskjaer in what feels like a defining week for him ahead of Saturday’s Manchester derby.

United also had the bonus of going above Spurs in a Premier League table which suddenly looks far more healthy for them.

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At the end, Mourinho sought out each United player, as well as those from Spurs, but maybe it was telling that he lingered longest with the impressive Scott McTominay who was something of a project for him.

Bizarrely, United have now defeated Chelsea, Leicester City and Tottenham in winning just five of their 15 league matches so far this campaign and are the only team to have taken points off Liverpool, while Spurs will have felt this was a reality check – “a wake-up call,” Alli said – after the euphoria of Mourinho’s initial impact.

It was their first loss after three victories but in every match they have conceded two goals which is very un-Mourinho-like and something he has little time to work on with fixtures coming thick and fast.

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