Arsenal’s visit to Istanbul to face Fenerbahce highlights the second day of UEFA Champions League play-in matches.
Both clubs are in turmoil, although for very different reasons – so a little success could go a long way to creating some better times for one of the clubs in crisis.
Fenerbahce is playing on appeal to UEFA; the club has already been provisionally expelled from Champions League for a match-fixing case in domestic league play. Two days of court hearings began in Switzerland on Tuesday.
So Arsene Wenger and Arsenal actually have two ways to advance into upcoming group play: by virtue of victory over two legs on the field, of if the Turkish club cannot win its court fight.
Either way, Wenger and his Gunners could use the surge of success. Not only would it help placate some of the supporter unrest over transfer trauma, but there is also this matter of money for UEFA group stage participants, somewhere north of $20 million per team.
(MORE: Wenger defends the club’s transfer record. No, really!)
There is also this streak of 15 consecutive Champions League campaigns, all of those under Wenger. That is behind only Manchester United (about to enter its 18th consecutive group stage) and Real Madrid CF (about to enter its 17th).
Wenger and the Gunners have prevailed in two of these play-in series over the last five seasons, one against Scotland’s Celtic and one against Italys’ Udinese.
And there was good news to report out of the Arsenal camp on Tuesday, as Bacary Sagna, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere (shown Tuesday at training) and Tomas Rosicky all trained before departure in Istanbul. All had been injury concerns.
The schedule of Wednesday’s Champions League matches; All are 2:45 p.m. kickoffs:
- Dinamo Zagreb vs. Austria Vienna
- Fenerbahce vs. Arsenal (Fox Sports 1)
- Ludogorets Razgrad vs. FC Basel
- Schalke 04 vs. PAOK Salonika (Fox Soccer Channel)
- Steaua Bucuresti vs. Legia Warsaw
Former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel was tough, but his son might be tougher.
Leicester City shot-stopper Kasper Schmeichel had hernia surgery earlier Monday, and while that seems like it would sideline him for some time, apparently not.
The 29-year-old tweeted from the hospital bed that he is aiming for a return on Sunday – just six days removed from surgery – when his native Denmark takes on Armenia in World Cup qualification.
That’s…ambitious. Not surprising though, given the ambition Leicester City showed last season stunning everyone to win the title.
Schmeichel was injured against Swansea on Saturday in Premier League play when he made a clearance and came up notably uncomfortable. He was replaced in the 57th minute by new Foxes signing Ron-Robert Zieler. According to manager Claudio Ranieri, the club had already planned surgery for this problem even before Saturday’s flare-up due to the recurring nature of the problem.
Sadly, the Wednesday’s friendly against Liechtenstein comes a little too soon for Schmeichel. It will be the first international match he will miss since March of 2015. We’ll give him a pass, considering most of us would still be in post-op then.
According to Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep, the injury that forced Gyasi Zardes to withdraw from USMNT consideration for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers is serious and could have much larger consequences.
Zardes reportedly suffered a broken right foot, and could not just miss the rest of the 2016 MLS season, but the rest of the calendar year, ruling him out of not just the two upcoming matches, but also the beginning of the Hexagonal in November should the U.S. advance to the next round.
The 24-year-old was injured just after halftime in an MLS match against Vancouver on Saturday, when he was brought down by Kendall Watson. It’s hard to see in full-speed what happens, but upon closer inspection, it appears that Watson’s follow-through catches the inside of Zardes’s right foot. He continued to play but looked less than healthy when he was finally substituted off in the 87th minute.
Zardes has been a rare youthful yet important cog in the USMNT machine the past few years. He played every minute of the Copa America run to the 3rd place match, and he has missed just two matches since making his debut in January of 2015, giving him 31 caps already despite a debut just 19 months ago.
The injury is also a serious blow for the LA Galaxy. Zardes had come onto the field in the 31st minute to replace an injured Steven Gerrard, and in-form defender Jelle van Damme had also departed the match with a knee ligament injury which will see him miss 2-3 weeks.
Many were surprised when they saw West Ham winger Michail Antonio on Sam Allardyce‘s first England squad list.
Including Michail Antonio.
In fact, Antonio admitted he thought he was being pranked, or at the very least, the butt of a joke. Then he saw the proof, and began to get emotional.
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
Speaking with the official England Instagram account, Antonio said, “So literally I’ve done an interview at the end of the game [West Ham’s 3-1 loss to Manchester City on Sunday] and then I’ve come in and the physio’s come over to me and gone ‘you’ve been called up.’ I was like ‘haha funny’ and he’s gone ‘no no seriously’ and I was like ‘good banter!'”
[ MORE: West Ham falls to Manchester City 3-1 ]
The 26-year-old said he stared at the physio for a good 30 seconds before he was shown the official paper, at which point he began “welling up.” The water works came soon after. “So I gave my missus a call, obviously she doesn’t pick up. And then I just got myself mentally ready and waited for it to come out.”
Antonio has two goals in three Premier League games this season, although he struggled in West Ham’s season opener against Chelsea when forced to deputize at right-back. The London-born winger has never played under Allardyce, having joined the Hammers just a few months after Big Sam’s departure from West Ham.
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The San Jose Earthquakes fired longtime general manager John Doyle on Monday, replacing him with technical director Chris Leitch on an interim basis.
Coach Dominic Kinnear and his staff remain in place, the team said.
Doyle, who in 2005 was the inaugural member of the San Jose Earthquakes Hall of Fame, had been the general manager since October 2007 and helped bring the franchise back following a two-year absence. He is a former player, assistant coach and color analyst with the organization.
San Jose has a 7-8-11 record for seventh place in the Western Conference and was three points back of Portland for the final playoff berth.