Lukas Podolski of Arsenal scores against Wigan Athletic during their English Premier League soccer match at the Emirates Stadium in London

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.

 

 

 

Ronaldo shows no sign of injury while hanging with Conor McGregor

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Cristiano Ronaldo may not be ready for the UEFA Super Cup, but he’s no longer limping around.

To explore the Real Madrid superstar’s Instagram is to see Ronaldo, sometimes clothed, hanging out with celebrities.

In the last couple weeks we’ve seen him with Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez, and now his “bro” Conor McGregor.

[ MORE: Who wins the League of Hate? ]

Wait, what?

Yeah, Ronaldo is friends with the MMA star, and showed no ill form (and no brace of any kind) in several posed photos with McGregor.

Although admittedly, McGregor’s IG game is a bit better: The Irish fighter posted a photo of himself sunning in his briefs with the caption, “I’m gonna get him on the Forbes list by next year. But I’m gonna get him on the tan by next week.”

Good luck with both, bro.

Great to see you bro!!💪🏽🔝

A photo posted by Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano) on Jul 24, 2016 at 3:48pm PD

Bruce pens letter to Hull fans: “Desperately wanted to make it work”

YORK, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Steve Bruce manager of  Hull City ahead of the pre-season friendly match between York City and Hull City at Bootham Cresent on July 23, 2014  in York, England. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)
Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images
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Many Hull City fans didn’t want Steve Bruce to leave the club, and this open letter shows why.

After leaving the club by “mutual consent” on Friday — it was first widely reported that he quit — fans protested at Hull’s game on Monday.

[ MORE: Who wins the League of Hate? ]

Bruce may’ve had his problems with Hull’s ownership, but he certainly got his supporters’ feelings right down to the core.

From the Hull Daily Mail:

My biggest regret is having to walk away but it was a decision I had to make for the sake of the club. The last 12 months have been very tough and it felt like the right step for the club to move forward in a different direction and with someone else in charge.

I desperately wanted to make it work this summer and be a Premier League manager again but, sadly, it wasn’t to be. Nevertheless, I’ve left Hull City with some fantastic memories that I’ll always cherish, including just eight weeks ago in the Championship play-off final at Wembley.

Class from the longtime boss, and we imagine he’ll have a job very soon if he wants it.

Report: Everton to activate release clause of Stoke’s Arnautovic

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Marko Arnautovic (1st L) of Stoke City competes for the ball against Seamus Coleman (2nd L) and Gareth Barry (1st Rof Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Stoke City at Goodison Park on December 28, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images
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Everton is going to activate Marko Arnautovic‘s $16 million release clause to bring the Stoke City striker to Goodison Park, according to a report out of Austria.

Stoke had been trying to sign Arnautovic to a contract extension, but the player was reportedly prepared to play out the final year of his deal.

[ MORE: Who wins the League of Hate? ]

The huge 27-year-old Austrian has been with Stoke since 2013, and broke through with 11 Premier League goals last season.

Arnautovic would give Everton support behind Romelu Lukaku, and insurance in case the Toffees do wind up selling their Belgian striker. Everton also has Arouna Kone as a potential target forward, but Oumar Niasse is expecting to leave after less than a year at Goodison Park.

Chelsea wins the League… of Hate; Bournemouth, Leicester not hated

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27:  Diego Costa of Chelsea celebrates his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Chelsea at St Mary's Stadium on February 27, 2016 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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A family of English newspapers conducted its annual survey of which teams are the most hated in the Premier League, and there’s a new champion.

Manchester United has dropped to second in the table to Chelsea in what the Manchester Evening News called the “League of Hate”.

[ MORE: Rooney’s England position not set ]

According to the MEN, 10,000 fans were quizzed on their love and hate:

A national survey asked fans of each top flight club which sides they hate, and which they love, and the west London club came out as the most disliked club overall.

United, who won the dubious accolade last year, have been revealed to be the next most reviled side.

It’s no surprise that the league’s more successful sides sit atop the table while newer PL clubs like Bournemouth and Burnley are not reviled. That said, Leicester’s dream story has them 19th. How much more success do they need to have before shooting up the hate table?

Here’s the Top Five, and all results:

1) Chelsea
2) Manchester United
3) Liverpool
4) Manchester City
5) Arsenal