Arsene Wenger confident in Arsenal’s squad going into upcoming season despite lack of transfer activity

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Despite a lack of movement and a few failed attempts at bringing in another forward, Arsene Wenger remains confident that his squad can compete to win the Premier League this season.

After a 2-2 draw with Napoli, Wenger told reporters at the press conference he thinks Arsenal, which finished fourth last season, can win the league with its current roster.

“I am confident,” said Wenger. “Why should I sit here and say to you that we can absolutely not win the title with the players we have?”

Wenger had to be pleased with his side after the Gunners fought back and earned a draw with two late goals from forward Olivier Giroud and defender Laurent Koscielny in the final 20 minutes of the game. The game had to feel good for Arsenal because the draw came against the team that swooped in and signed Gonzalo Higuain from Real Madrid after Arsenal had reportedly agreed to terms with the player but got bogged down in negotiations with Madrid.

Wenger also confirmed that Arsenal had put in a bid for Liverpool forward Luis Suarez but nothing has advanced any further.

“I never said we have made a bid to Liverpool, now I can tell you we have made one, so at least that is some information,” said Wenger. “All the rest, I would like to keep to us. If we progress in that situation, we will inform you. At the moment, that is where we are.”

Arsenal is in need of another game-changing player if it hopes to compete with Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United for the league championship. And with Tottenham and Liverpool strengthening their squads this offseason, fourth place isn’t even guaranteed for the Gunners this season. Getting Suarez would give Wenger’s squad the kind of player he has been searching for to change not only the squad’s mentality and add a win at all costs attitude, but also its ability to score goals when a game doesn’t seem to be going the team’s way.

Besides Suarez, Arsenal haven’t been linked with too many players coming into the side, but Wenger confirmed on Saturday that Gervinho could be leaving the Emirates soon with negotiations close to being completed. Marouane Chamakh could also be on his way out in the next 48 hours on a permanent transfer. Sadly for Arsenal fans, the manager also said no one was interested in Nicklas Bendtner at this time.

“Gervinho we are at the moment close to an agreement with a club where he should go,” said Wenger. “Bendtner we are nowhere. At the moment he is completely here. Chamakh might go somewhere, it will be decided in the next 48 hours. [They are] permanent moves.”

With Andrey Arshavin, possibly Gervinho and Chamakh moving, Arsenal will have plenty of spots to bring in other attacking options. While the three players were brought in with high expectations, none really lived up the heights that were set for them. Wenger needs to do better in his next recruitment of attacking players. If Suarez is captured it would be a good start and be a coup for Arsenal — taking a rivals top-player as well as adding a 20-plus goalscorer to the side.

If Suarez doesn’t work out, Wenger needs a plan B because the teams around Arsenal save Manchester United have been beefing up and improving their squads. If Arsenal miss out on the Champions League next year, Wenger’s inability to bring in a proven goalscorer will certainly be a reason why.

Turkey hands bid plans for Euro 2024 to UEFA

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NYON, Switzerland (AP) Turkey has given UEFA its hosting plan for the 2024 European Championship, citing “unprecedented state support” to help beat Germany to stage the 24-team tournament.

Turkish soccer federation president Yildirim Demiroren says the latest attempt is “our best bid ever.” Ten stadiums proposed include two in Istanbul.

Turkey bid with Greece for EURO 2008, then alone for the 2012 and 2016 editions.

[ MORE: TFC’s “heart has been ripped from chest” ]

Before UEFA chose a multi-nation EURO 2020 hosting plan, Turkey was strongly favored before focusing on Istanbul’s failed 2020 Olympic bid.

Turkey has never hosted a major soccer tournament. West Germany hosted the eight-team EURO 1988 and a unified Germany hosted the 2006 World Cup.

The UEFA executive committee will pick a winner on Sept. 27 in Nyon.

Premier League TV, stream schedule

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A pivotal weekend in the Premier League is coming up, especially in the race for the top four and battle against relegation.

MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ] 

The full TV schedule for the games this weekend are below, plus you can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports.com,the NBC Sports App and by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold.

Gold also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: Premier League live here ] 

You can also watch Premier League “Goal Rush” at for all the goals as they go in around the grounds. Goal Rush is available via NBC Sports.com and the NBC Sports App.

[ MORE: Premier League “Goal Rush” ] 

If you’re looking for full-event replays of Premier League games, you can find them here for the games streamed on NBCSports.com and here for the games on NBC Sports Gold.

Here’s your full TV schedule for the coming days. Enjoy.


FULL TV SCHEDULE

Saturday
7:30 a.m. ET: Liverpool vs. Stoke City – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Southampton vs. Bournemouth – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Newcastle United vs. West Bromwich Albion – CNBC [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Burnley vs. Brighton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Crystal Palace vs. Leicester City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Huddersfield Town vs. Everton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
12:30 p.m. ET: Swansea City vs. Chelsea – NBC [STREAM]

Sunday
9:15 a.m. ET: West Ham vs. Manchester City – NBCSN [STREAM
11:30 a.m. ET: Manchester United vs. Arsenal – NBCSN [STREAM

Monday
3 p.m. ET: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Watford – NBCSN [STREAM]

 

Southampton’s Hughes sends Boufal to U-23s after reported bust-up

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One of Morocco’s best young players isn’t going to get ideal World Cup preparation, and could even lose his place in the team if things don’t turn around at Southampton.

Southampton’s one-time record signing Sofiane Boufal has been banished to the U-23 side after refusing to warm up in Saints loss to Chelsea last weekend.

[ MORE: TFC loses CCL Final in PKs ]

The refusal reportedly led to a dust-up with manager Mark Hughes in the dressing room after Saints came-from-ahead to lose 3-2.

Hughes says everything is better now, but there needs to be punishment for Boufal’s actions. This means one of Saints’ most talented attackers won’t be a part of their desperate battle to overcome relegation (at least not soon).

From the Guardian:

“Given where we are at the moment, he’s probably best served training with a different group just to make people aware the situation we found ourselves in wasn’t what should have happened. He understands that now. He probably needs to rebuild a bit of trust with us and his team-mates. That’s what we’re working on. He won’t be involved this weekend. We’ll have to wait and see [whether he can return this season].”

“He’s remorseful about it, which he needed to be, and we’ll build him back up to be in the group again. But the time for that isn’t now. It’s about him biding his time, doing the right things, until he’s reintegrated.”

Boufal has two goals and two assists in 26 games (11 starts) since arriving from arriving from Lille for around $22 million. He has six caps for Morocco.

Liverpool fans warned, as Roma pledges support

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There was a terrible incident in Liverpool on Tuesday when a Reds supporter was set upon by Roma fans and left in critical condition.

Sean Cox, 53, was attacked outside a pub before Liverpool’s 5-2 UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg win over AS Roma.

[ MORE: LFC 5-2 Roma | Klopp reacts ]

Liverpool has released its plans to keep supporters safe should they be among the 5,000 with tickets in Rome on Wednesday (via LiverpoolFC.com), pledging the “most comprehensive safety and security advice.”

The club has taken the exceptional measure of requesting an extraordinary meeting in the Italian capital, which will take place on Friday April 27. … At the behest of Liverpool, club officials will join AS Roma, UEFA and the relevant Italian police and security services to discuss specific ongoing concerns.

Merseyside Police chief superintendent Dave Charnock backed up Roma’s police demand that Liverpool fans without tickets skip the trip to Italy. According to the BBC, Liverpool was asked to put fans names on their tickets to the game.

“While we understand and appreciate that many Liverpool fans will want to travel to Rome, I would encourage fans who do not have tickets to not travel,” he said.

AS Roma, for its part, posted a photo of Cox with the statement, “His recovery and the safety of all fans attending football matches, is the only thing that matters now.”