Bradford City v Arsenal - Capital One Cup Quarter Final

Pressure mounting on Arsenal, Arsene Wenger


Never a good sign when coaches throw players under the bus. (Technically speaking, they call it a “motor coach” there … but let’s stay on point.)

So much for “All in it together,” eh?

It is not much of a surprise, however. The pressure is mounting on Arsenal and longtime manager Arsene Wenger as chances of claiming something to hang their hats on for 2012-13 slip away. That’s bad news for Wenger, now creeping slowly toward “embattled” state at the club.

The venerable Frenchman has long had his critics. That’s bound to happen to someone with as many years in one place as Wenger, who is 63 and has been at the north London club since 1996.

While domestic success has been elusive in recent years, Wenger usually does have Champions League to circle on the ledger of accomplishment. (Not winning the thing, but reliably advancing into the competition’s money rounds.) And the club may have another UCL brag or two in them; the Gunners are set to open a high-profile Round-of-16 set against Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich. Tuesday’s opening leg is at the Emirates.

What does the club’s mindset look like ahead of Tuesday’s clash? Hard to say, but it may not be great. Check out what Wenger had to say about his players following the weekend loss to Blackburn, eliminating Arsenal from FA Cup action:

I think we have a great team, but this shows that we still have to show more maturity on the mental front. We have to understand what it means to win big games, and this was a big game for me.

“I am the first to stand up and say I am responsible for the team selection, but that is not an excuse. If we cannot beat Blackburn like that, I don’t think it is down to the selection of the team.

“The top level is about consistency in every single game and that is what we could not show.”

Newcastle’s Krul on crutches after injury in Dutch win

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 03:  Tim Krul of Newcastle United looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at Etihad Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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Newcastle United’s horror start under Steve McClaren just got worse.

Magpies No. 1 goalkeeper Tim Krul is on duty with the Netherlands, and was forced from the Dutch’s 2-1 win at Kazakhstan in Euro qualifying action.

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Krul left the game after landing awkwardly on his knee, and left the stadium on crutches.

Newcastle’s back-up keepers are Karl Darlow, new from Nottingham Forest, and veteran Rob Elliot.

The Magpies are in 20th place, without a win through eight Premier League matches.

McClaren’s crew just finished a brutal run of matches that saw Newcastle face Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United.

VIDEO: Marco Verratti plays a brilliant pass to Eder for Italy goal

PALERMO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06:  Marco Verratti of Italy in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier match between Italy and Bulgaria on September 6, 2015 in Palermo, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
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Italy took a 1-0 lead over Azerbaijan through the in-form Eder in the 11th minute, but the true leg-work (see what I did there) came from bite-sized midfielder Marco Verratti.

The PSG playmaker pinged a beautiful long ball over the top of the Azerbaijan defense that fell right at the feet of Eder, who let the ball settle itself and touched home confidently past Kamran Arhayev for a 1-0 lead.

The goal is the second of Eder’s national career in just five caps, having scored on debut against Bulgaria back in March. He has six goals in seven matches for Sampdoria so far this Serie A season.

Italy needs three points in this match to ensure qualification to Euro 2016. A win would guarantee them a place in the field, while anything less would mean there is work to do in the final match on Tuesday against Norway.


Later in the match, Stephan El Shaarawy gave Italy a 2-1 lead just before halftime, his second career international goal and his first since September of 2012 which came in his third career start.