Lukas Podolski targets top of the league with Arsenal

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While Goonahs everywhere try to avoid clawing their eyes out while waiting for their club to finalize a deal for Gonzalo Higuain, Arsenal winger Lukas Podolski noted his ambitions for the club in the upcoming season.

“The hope is that this season Arsenal will be at the top of the league,” Podolski said with an air of confidence.

That notion, Podolski explained, was due to one of the major advantages of playing in the Barclay’s Premier League. “English football, thankfully, is not like Spain where you only have two teams – Barcelona and Real Madrid – who fight at the top,” he said.

“In the Premier League, you have five, six, even seven top, top teams. It’s very difficult but I know that Arsenal are one of those top teams who will be involved,” the 28 year old said.

The German international also talked up Arsenal’s chances at claiming the title due to the top three clubs all having replaced their managers in the off-season.  “A few of the other teams all have new managers,” Podolski stated. “But they will be strong and equally, Arsenal will be strong.”

The issue for Arsenal is that, while they have managed to hold on to coach Arsene Wenger, their only signing has been the free transfer of Yaya Sonogo from Ligue 2 side AJ Auxere. Meanwhile, City and Chelsea have already announced two significant signings each.

City, now led by Manuel Pellegrini, have already finalized deals for Shakhtar Donetsk center midfielder Fernandinho (£35.2 million [$48.4m]) and Sevilla winger Jesus Navas (£17.6 million [$26.2m]). As for Chelsea, in addition to bringing in Jose Mourinho for his second stint as manager, they have signed Bayer Leverkusen forward Andre Schurrle (£19.4 million [$28.9m]) and Vitesse Arnhem center midfielder Marco van Ginkel (£8.3 million [$12.4m]).

If the Gunners are going to improve on last year’s fourth place finish, one thing they need to do is improve their ranks up top. And for weeks now they have been on the verge of making that happen, closing in on signing Higuain from Real Madrid.

At this point, however, the protracted move is largely seen as a formality. For Podolski, the Higuain move represents a challenge to his place in the starting squad. But the German appears unfazed by the situation.

“It’s always good when good players come in. I don’t worry about a specific player,” Podolski said. “I’m strong enough and I have qualities. And when good players come in, I’ll play with good players.”

Helping Podolski maintain his spot is the fact that many players experience growing pains upon first joining the Premier League. For Podolski, his move from Cologne last summer saw some initial bumps but the forward eventually made a fantastic impact on the North London club, notching 16 goals and 9 assists in all competitions.

 

 

 

Geiger, Marrufo, Villarreal picked as Gold Cup referees

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MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) Mark Geiger, who three years ago became the first American to referee a knockout stage match at the World Cup, is among 17 referees picked for next month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Americans Jair Marrufo and Armando Villarreal also were announced Thursday for the 12-nation tournament, which runs from July 7-26 in various U.S. cities.

[ MORE: Latest 2017 Confederations Cup news

Geiger, who is from New Jersey, was a referee for France’s 2-0 win over Nigeria in the round of 16.

Three each were picked from Mexico (Roberto Garcia, Fernando Guerrero and Cesar Ramos) and Honduras (Melvin Matamoros, Oscar Moncada and Hector Rodriguez).

Two will come from Costa Rica: Henry Bejarano and Ricardo Montero.

Others picked for the tournament are Joel Aguilar (El Salvador), Drew Fischer (Canada), Walter Lopez (Guatemala), Yadel Martinez (Cuba), John Pitti (Panama) and Kimbell Ward (St. Kitts and Nevis).

Watch Live: Germany, Chile in Confederations Cup showdown

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Alexis Sanchez is back in the Chilean starting lineup for the Confederations Cup’s marquee match-up on Thursday at 2 p.m.ET live on Telemundo Deportes.

Chile faces Germany for the Group B driver’s seat, holding a one goal advantage in goal differential.

[ WATCH LIVE: Cameroon vs. Chile on Telemundo Deportes ]

Germany starts Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi and Liverpool’s Emre Can in a young lineup with Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich and Barcelona’s Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.

Report: Manchester United outbidding giants for PSG’s Marquinhos

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Brazilian outlet Globo Esporte says Manchester United has made the best offer to Paris Saint-Germain in a three-team giant battle for Marquinhos.

According to the report, the transfer fight is between United, Juventus, Barcelona, and Real Madrid, though only the first three sides have lodged bids.

[ MORE: Latest 2017 Confederations Cup news

Barca’s offer is said to be the lowest, around $50 million, while United is said to be willing to pay a staggering $78 million for the 23-year-old Brazilian.

Marquinhos has made 155 appearances for PSG since joining from Roma in 2013. He’s reliably made 40-plus appearances over the past three seasons, and has 17 caps for Brazil.

A terrific defender who excels in keeping possession, Marquinhos has also played some right back for PSG.

VAR steps in to help Australia draw Cameroon 1-1

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Twenty-one year-old Cameroon midfielder Zambo Anguissa scored a deft late first half goal, but Video Assistant Referee helped Australia to a match-tying penalty kick as both sides stayed alive in the Confederations Cup after a 1-1 draw on Thursday.

Australia captain Mark Milligan scored for Australia in the second group stage match for both teams at the Confederations Cup in Russia on Thursday.

Both teams lost opening matches, and victorious Chile and Germany square off at 2 p.m. ET

[ MORE: Latest 2017 Confederations Cup news

Australia struggled to put any semblance of threat together, and wasted its prime chance just after halftime when Mathew Leckie cued up Tomi Juric only to see the Luzern striker waffle before mailing a harmless chance wide and high.

The Socceroos came close again in the 55th minute, as a Leckie shot was blocked wide of goal. Their forward-thinking allowed some chances for Cameroon, too, as Aboubakar missed wide himself in the 58th minute.

Referee Milorad Mazic used Video Assistant Referee to change a corner kick to a penalty kick in the 60th minute, and Australia captain Milligan buried the spot kick to make it 1-1.Cameroon defender Ernest Mabouka chopped down Alex Gersbach in the box.

Aboubakar had a near post offering blocked wide by Milos Degenek, and the corner came to nothing. Australia had survived.