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Arsenal Beat Everton

LONDON: Gabriel Martinelli performed brilliantly as Arsenal created a five-point gap at the top of the English Premier League (EPL) with a 4-0 win over Everton early this morning.

Bukayo Saka broke Everton’s stubborn barrier late in the first half before Brazilian striker Martinelli doubled Arsenal’s lead at the Emirates Stadium.

Martin Odegaard scored the third and Martinelli completed Arsenal’s biggest win since October in what could be another sign of a resurgent title chase.

It is important for Mikel Arteta’s side to win this match to create a gap over second-placed Manchester City as the title race draws to a close.

With 13 games to go, victory keeps Arsenal in pole position to win the title for the first time since Arsene Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’ in 2003-04.

“After we scored the first goal, the game opened up. We needed a moment of magic and Bukayo gave it. After that we played better and deserved to win this game,” said Arteta.

“It’s an indication we’re already here and we want to continue.”

After a three-match winless run that saw them relegated after City’s 3-1 win at the Emirates, Arsenal have bounced back nicely.

A run of three wins since defeat at the hands of City has given the Gunners 60 points, their joint-highest tally after 25 EPL games compared to the 2003-04 and 2007-08 campaigns.

“I’m happy to see the team play the way we want. This league gives a different story,” said Arteta.

“We already proved something big after what happened at Goodison. I’m happy with the maturity and quality we showed.”

Sean Dyche started his Everton career by scoring in a shock 1-0 win over Arsenal at Goodison Park on 4 February.

Real Madrid Haunt Liverpool On The European Stage

LONDON: Jurgen Klopp wants Liverpool to continue their resurgence this season by taking revenge against Real Madrid in the European Champions League.

Klopp’s squad finally showed improvement in a campaign that was almost completely destroyed.

Liverpool recorded back-to-back wins – over Everton and Newcastle – to rekindle their chances of a top-four finish in the Premier League.

Saturday’s 2-0 win over Newcastle put them just six points behind their opponents who are fourth in the league, with Liverpool one game less.

Liverpool will host Real at Anfield tomorrow for the first leg of the last 16 round of the European Champions League.

It will be decisive in Klopp’s ability to lead Liverpool to a second Champions League title under his management.

Liverpool, six-time champions of Europe’s elite competition, should have enjoyed more Champions League success under Klopp’s guidance, but Real were the main obstacle.

The Spanish giants beat Liverpool in the 2018 final, knocked them out in the quarter-finals in 2021 and won the title last season with a 1-0 victory in the final in Paris thanks to a goal from Vinicius Junior.

Liverpool have failed to beat Real since winning in the last 16 of the 2009 Champions League.

Last year’s defeat ended their failure to chase a quadruple title, a mission that only yielded success in the FA Cup and League Cup.

With this year’s Champions League final set to be held in Istanbul, Turkey, he is sure to invoke fond memories for Liverpool where they beat AC Milan for the 2005 edition of the championship.

The Reds are definitely looking forward to returning to Ataturk Stadium, but they first need to overcome Carlo Ancelotti’s men

Barcelona, Manchester United To Prove Their Status

BARCELONA: Barcelona will await the arrival of Manchester United early this Friday morning in a clash that has twice graced the final of the Champions League but this week is somewhat embarrassing in the play-off round of the Europa League.

The Catalan side were knocked out of Europe’s premier competition at the first hurdle as Manchester United finished as runners-up in their Europa League group stage, pitting the two against each other.

Despite the high status of both teams who once held the title of giant, they are among the most improved teams and are at the best level of performance in the continent.

Barcelona and Manchester United are both being built by great coaches Erik ten Hag and Xavi Hernandez who aim to quickly return to Europe’s elite stage.

The teams last met in 2019 as United slumped after the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson while Barcelona’s decline began again.

Five-time Champions League winners Barca won the quarter-final 4-0 on aggregate, but the only player United will likely face near Camp Nou is goalkeeper Andre ter Stegen.

Barcelona have since overhauled their entire squad at their expense last summer, sparking criticism after being knocked out of the Europa League.

Robert Lewandowski is a dangerous striker signed by the Catalan squad while Jules Kounde and Andreas Christensen have already confirmed their status as key defenders among the best in Europe.

Barcelona have conceded just seven goals in La Liga this season, keeping 16 clean sheets in 21 games and Xavi’s side are unbeaten in 16 games in all competitions.

Xavi took over the team in November last year and led the team from mid-table to second place in the league.

“It’s been over a year since Xavi came and a lot of things have changed, maybe even the mentality and the way we defend,” Ter Stegen said this week.

“(Xavi) has a plan, maybe it takes longer than expected, but you see the results step by step. We have a better idea to do it on the pitch and this is the key to success.”

Liverpool, United Deserve To Be Awarded EPL Title

LONDON: The English Premier League (EPL) title should be awarded to Manchester United and Liverpool after Manchester City was accused of violating financial regulations.

The Premier League today claimed City, owned by Abu Dhabi-controlled City Football Group (CFG), breached financial rules more than 100 times over nine seasons.

After the news broke, Liverpool and United supporters insisted their teams should be awarded the Premier League title in a year in which they finished second behind Pep Guardiola’s side.

Liverpool are just one point behind City in the 2018-19 and 2021-22 seasons. The Reds were also two points behind City in the 2013-14 season.

United were denied the 2011-12 league title by City on goal difference thanks to Sergio Aguero’s dramatic win in the final league game.

One Liverpool supporter wrote: “If found guilty there should be points deducted. We only have one title instead of three because we are competing against teams who break the law.”

Another Reds supporter wrote: “Give the Premier League title to the second place team in 2013-14, 2018-19 and 2021-22 as punishment.”

United supporters also said: “Give Manchester United and Jose Mourinho the 2017-18 Premier League title.”

Manchester United To The League Cup Final

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom: Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag said winning a trophy was a necessary step at Old Trafford after the team beat Nottingham Forest 2-0 earlier this morning then won 5-0 on aggregate to reach the League Cup final.

Anthony Martial and Fred scored for Ten Hag’s side in the final 17 minutes of the semi-final with United facing Newcastle at Wembley on February 26.

Three managers have left the club since United last won a trophy under Jose Mourinho in 2017.

But Ten Hag is now just one game short of ending the drought in his first season at the club.

“I think we have a good squad, so we want to maintain a high standard,” said the Dutch manager. “You have to bring it in every game.

“We are Manchester United. When you are a United player, you have to live up to that standard.”

The advantage collected by the Red Devils when they won 3-0 at the City Ground in the first round when Ten Hag could rotate the squad since United are still involved in four tournaments.

He made six changes from the squad that beat Reading 3-1 in the fourth round of the FA Cup last Saturday with Marcus Rashford among those rested on the bench.

Wout Weghorst came close to breaking the deadlock before the break when the Dutchman’s header went wide but the game opened up more after Ten Hag made a change after an hour.

“We have a lot to do this season, so far I hope everyone can play,” said Ten Hag.

“If you want to win trophies, you need all of them to perform. You saw tonight that we can bring a new dynamic from the bench.”

Newcastle United Are Close To League Cup Final

SOUTHAMPTON: Eddie Howe warned Newcastle that they are not safe for the League Cup final after a 1-0 win over Southampton early this morning.

Joelinton scored the only goal of the game in the second half at St Mary’s to put Newcastle ever closer to a domestic championship final since 1999.

Southampton’s Duje Caleta-Car was sent off at the end of a tense game after Adam Armstrong’s equalizer for Nathan Jones’ side was disallowed by VAR for handball.

Newcastle may qualify for Wembley ahead of the tie at St James’ Park on January 31, meeting winners Manchester United and Nottingham Forest in the final.

“It was a good day but there is still a long way to go in this meeting. Happy to win, that’s our goal, but we realize 1-0 is too thin.

“It’s a tough game. I think both teams have had their chances. Nobody’s got the upper hand yet. We go back to St James’ with the fans behind us,” said Howe.

Howe, however, admitted his side were lucky when Armstrong’s equalizer was disallowed: “I thought it was a goal. It was a relief when VAR stepped in.”

Newcastle enjoyed an excellent season under Howe, finishing third in the Premier League and reaching their first semi-final of the domestic championship since 2005.

The last time they won a domestic trophy was in the 1995 FA Cup.

Their last final ended in defeat at the hands of Manchester United in the 1999 FA Cup.

Manchester City Continues To Win The Money League

MANCHESTER: Manchester City lead Deloitte’s Football Money League for the second consecutive year with the English Premier League dominating the top 20 clubs for the first time.

The total revenue from the top 20 clubs is close to the pre-pandemic value of 9.2 billion euros for the 2021-22 season.

The increase was largely through a 1.3 billion euro jump in matchday revenue after two seasons affected by pandemic disruptions.

The Premier League’s increased revenue in broadcast rights sales and strong commercial growth saw 11 of England’s top flight clubs fill the top 20 for the first time.

Leeds and Newcastle replaced Wolves and Zenit St Petersburg from last season’s top 20 list.

A 13 percent increase in City’s income to 731 million euros saw them maintain their top position over European champions Real Madrid who collected 714 million euros.

Liverpool are third, their highest finish in Money League history and overcame Manchester United for the first time, following their triumphant run to the European Champions League final, at 702 million euros.

United are fourth (689 million euros), followed by Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich (each at 654 million euros).

Barcelona, ​​who topped the Money League two years ago, slipped to seventh place after being knocked out of the European Champions League at the group stage and suffering a decline in commercial value compared to its rivals.

Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal complete the top 10.

“The financial dominance of the English Premier League will be difficult to challenge for the coming seasons. It is not impossible that one day all 20 English Premier League clubs will be in the top 30 of the Money League,” said Deloitte Sports Business Group director, Sam Boor.

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Guardiola Asked Chelsea Owner To Be Patient

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom: Pep Guardiola told Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly to continue to support Graham Potter after Manchester City thrashed the Blues 4-0 in the third round of the FA Cup early this morning.

Potter’s troubled side lost for the second time at the hands of City in four days as their hopes of a domestic cup win this season ended in disappointment.

Already eliminated in the League Cup by City last November and losing 1-0 at the hands of the English Premier League (EPL) champions last Thursday, Chelsea’s faltering season is approaching crisis after Guardiola’s squad terrorized the Etihad Stadium.

Chelsea have won just three of their 12 games but Guardiola reassured Potter when he urged the Blues’ top management to give the manager time to develop his approach.

“I want to say to Todd Boehly, give him time. I know in a big club, results are important but I want to say give him time,” said Guardiola.

“What he did at Brighton was amazing, but we need time in the first season. I had (Lionel) Messi at Barcelona in my first season, so I didn’t need two seasons because Messi was there.”

Chelsea failed to produce any attempts in the first half and Potter described it as “painful.”

Potter said it could be because of an injury crisis that forced him to drop nine players and give teenager Bashir Humphreys a chance to make his defensive debut.

But the 47-year-old controller said their offering needed to be repaired immediately.

Ronaldo Received A Warm Welcome At Al-Nassr

RIYADH: Cristiano Ronaldo described himself as a “unique player” and insisted that his career is not over yet after a warm welcome at his new club near Saudi Arabia early this morning.

The 37-year-old Portuguese star said he had done his best in Europe and was hungry for a new challenge as he was greeted with fireworks and cheers at Al Nassr’s Mrsool Park stadium.

A five-time winner of the Ballon d’Or as well as five Champions Leagues, signed a reported 200 million euro deal until June 2025, shortly after parting ways with Manchester United.

“It’s not the end of my career by coming to Saudi Arabia. This is why I changed, honestly, I don’t worry about what other people say,” said Ronaldo.

“In Europe my work is over… I have received many offers in Europe, many in Brazil, Australia, the United States, even in Portugal,” he said.

“Many clubs tried to sign me but I gave a promise for this club.”

The 25,000-seat stadium erupted in excitement as Ronaldo, wearing Al Nassr’s yellow and blue jersey, walked onto the pitch and paid tribute to the fans.

His girlfriend, Georgina Rodriguez, who was wearing a traditional dress, the abaya or robe that Saudi Arabian women usually wear, followed him behind with their children.

“I’m a unique player. It’s good to come here, I broke all the records there (Europe) and I want to break some records here,” Ronaldo said.

“I came here to win, to play, to have fun, to be part of the success of this country and its culture,” he added.