Wednesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Bent to Newcastle, Soldado to Spurs

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Darren Bent is clear for a move to Newcastle, after Fulham pulled out of a deal for Aston Villa’s forgotten striker. Bent, 29, has been completely left out of Paul Lambert’s plans out Villa and desperately wants to leave this summer. Newcastle could snap him up for just $8 million but his huge $120,000 wages are the stumbling block in any deal. On his day, Bent is a cool customer who can finish. He felt out with Lambert at Villa  but the Midlands side paid Sunderland a club record $36 million in January 2011 and has scored 25 goals in 64 games since. But Bent scored just six times in 23 appearances, mostly from the bench, last year. Newcastle manager Alan Pardew knows Bent from his days at Charlton and with Papiss Cisse looking for a move away from St. James’ Park, Bent would be a cheap and decent replacement.

Tottenham Hotspur are locked into a battle with Valencia, with Spanish striker Roberto Soldado in the middle. Spurs have been chasing the Spanish international, but have had several bids rejected by Valencia. And now the Spanish side have give Tottenham an ultimatum as they must reach Soldado’s release clause of $40 million. Your move, Spurs. So does Andre Villas-Boas need a new striker? Yes. And the 28-year-old predatory forward is what they need, he would finish the many chances Spurs create with aplomb. Now Tottenham just need to put their money where their mouth is.

West Ham want Loic Remy as Championship side Queens Park Rangers look to get the French international off the wage bill. The former Marseille striker was one of the bright spots in QPR’s dismal Premier League campaign last year, as Remy’s January arrival and subsequent goals gave them some hope of survival. But now Sam Allardyce wants to bolster his attack further, and the Hammers could grab Remy for just $12 million, and can afford his $100,000 a week wages. He scored six goals in 14 games for QPR last season and in a better team he would definitely scored more. Should West Ham link him up with Andy Carroll in a new striker partnership?

Sunderland’s versatile player Craig Gardner could be heading to West Bromwich Albion, with the Midlands club contemplating a $3.5 million deal for the former Aston Villa man. Gardner excelled at right back last season, but Paolo Di Canio has added extensively to his squad this summer and Gardner may be one of the casualties. Gardner, 26, may fancy a return to the West Midlands after playing for Villa for several seasons. He could do a great job in a variety of positions for the Baggies and would be a bargain. You know Gardner will give his all and can whip in a great cross and is a dead ball specialist. This move could suit everyone.

Arsenal may finally sell striker Gervinho, after the Ivory Coast international has failed to impress during his time at the Emirates. The languid forward has often been deployed out wide to varying degrees of success, and as Arsenal try to strengthen up front, it seems as though Gervinho’s days with the Gunners are numbered. The 26-year-old hasn’t traveled with Arsenal on their preseason tour of Asia, which is a huge indicator on his future. Lyon are also interested, but Roma could buy him for $12 million.

MORE: Tuesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup, Bernard to Arsenal, Nani to Monaco

How can Arsenal qualify for last 16 of Champions League?

Arsene Wenger, Arsenal FC
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Heading into the their final UEFA Champions League Group F game, the Gunners are still alive. Just.

Arsenal beat Dinamo Zagreb 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium in London on Tuesday to keep their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League alive for the 16th straight season.

[ MORE: Champions League standings

So, here’s what Arsene Wenger‘s men must do in their final Group F game in two weeks time in Greece to qualify and what other results will mean for the Premier League side.

  • An Arsenal win by a two-goal margin will see Arsenal finish level on points but finish above Olympiakos by virtue of having better goal different in their head-to-head encounters. Hence sealing a spot in the last 16
  • An Arsenal win by a one-goal margin, a draw or a defeat will see Arsenal eliminated and Olympiakos qualify for last 16
  • The Gunners have already sealed at least a Europa League spot regardless of what happens in Athens

There are your scenarios for Arsenal as it’s pretty simple to break it down: Win by two goals and they’re Champions League dream lives on in the last 16.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule

Anything else and it’s a spot of Thursday night soccer in the last 32 of the Europa League for Wenger’s men.

Maccabi Tel-Aviv 0-4 Chelsea: Blues go atop Group G

during the UEFA Champions League Group G match between Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC and Chelsea FC at Sammy Ofer Stadium on November 24, 2015 in Haifa, Israel.
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Chelsea scored thee second-half goals against a ten-man Maccabi side, easing to a 4-0 win in Tel-Aviv tonight.

With the win and Porto’s loss, the Blues now sit atop Group G in the UEFA Champions League, in need of one point from their final match to advance.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

The match got off to a bit of a shaky start for Chelsea, as Tel-Aviv created some early offense on the counter-attack. However, the Blues stuck in after the opening minutes and gained control of the play.

After dominating possession, Chelsea broke through in the 20th minute through Gary Cahill. Willian whipped in a corner kick which Cahill headed on goal, but Predrag Rajkovic made a brilliant save for Tel-Aviv. However, the save hit the post and rolled right back to Cahill, who had an easy tap-in for the goal.

The pitch continued to be tilted in favor of Chelsea, and Tel-Aviv’s chances of a comeback took a huge hit when Tal Ben Haim was sent off in the 40th minute. The former Chelsea man took a wild hack at the legs of Diego Costa, giving the referee an easy decision to show a straight red. It was another case of Costa getting under the skin of his opposition, as Ben Haim lost his cool and made a reckless challenge.

Despite being down to ten men, the hosts didn’t fold in the second half and tried to steal a goal on the counter. After a string of fine saves from Rajkovic to keep Tel-Aviv alive, Asmir Begovic had to come up with a save of his own to keep Chelsea ahead. Eran Zahavi found himself free on the break and fired a shot to the far post, but Begovic just got his fingertips on the ball to hold the lead.

[ RELATED: Zlatan hoping to impress in UCL return to Malmo ]

A bit of bad news came for Chelsea in the 72nd minute, as John Terry went down after getting tangled up in a challenge. The captain looked to be in a lot of pain, as he was stretchered off and replaced by Kurt Zouma.

On the first touch of the ball after Terry’s substitution, Chelsea took a 2-0 lead from a Willian free kick. From his favorite spot at the corner of the box, the Brazilian curled home a set piece to the near post. It was his sixth goal of the season, all of which have come from free kicks in almost the exact same location.

Less than five minutes later, Oscar made it 3-0 for Chelsea. Baba Rahman played in a cross from the left wing as Oscar headed home from close range, officially sealing the points for Jose Mourinho’s men.

Substitute Kurt Zouma would add a fourth for Chelsea in stoppage time, grabbing another headed goal for the Blues in a comfortable yet vital win.

Arsenal 3-0 Dinamo Zagreb: Gunners keep last 16 dreams alive

Alexis Sanchez
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Arsenal eased past Dinamo Zagreb in their penultimate game of UEFA Champions Group F play on Tuesday as two goals from Alexis Sanchez and another from Mesut Ozil did the damage.

Arsene Wenger‘s side now sit in third place on six points in Group F and travel to Olympiakos — who currently sit in second spot on nine points — on the final matchday on Dec. 9 where they will need a win by two goals or more to make the last 16 of the UCL for the 16th straight season.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

The Gunners came flying out of the traps and were 2-0 up inside the first 32 minutes. First up Sanchez got free on the left and curled in a beautiful cross which found the onrushing Ozil who stooped and headed home. 1-0 to the Arsenal.

Moments later it was 2-0 as Nacho Monreal intercepted a pass on the edge of Zagreb’s box and slotted the ball to Sanchez who finished easily to send Wenger’s men into halftime with a healthy lead.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule ]

In the second half Arsenal were hungry for more goals as Eduardo made a good stop from Santi Cazorla‘s shot and then palmed away Olivier Giroud‘s header from the rebound.

To their credit the Croatian outfit stuck to the task and Alexandru Matel went close with an effort but Arsenal always looked dangerous on the break as Costa Rican forward Joel Campbell volleyed an effort just wide.

Arsenal saw out the game with minimum fuss as Sanchez added another in the 69th minute when Campbell set him up neatly and the Chilean grabbed his second and Arsenal’s third of the game to make it 3-0.

That’s how the game finished as the Gunners now face a showdown in Athens in two weeks as their place in the UCL’s last 16 hangs in the balance.

VIDEO: Messi scores first goal since September in typical Barca fashion

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 12:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's 2nd goal goal during the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Barcelona at Vicente Calderon Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
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Lionel Messi is back.

After coming off the bench in Barcelona’s 4-0 win over Real Madrid in El Clasico this weekend, Messi made his first start today since suffering a knee injury in September.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Tuesday’s UCL action ]

Playing against Roma in the Champions League, Barcelona jumped out to a 2-0 lead within 20 minutes, and it is clear Messi is back in form.

After Luis Suarez opened the scoring, Messi doubled Barca’s lead with a brilliant team goal, started with a string of one-touch passes before a delicate chip over the keeper from the Argentinian.

To everyone facing Barcelona in the near future, beware.