Despite a distressful last year at Newcastle United, Hatem Ben Arfa has high hopes for the Magpies in 2013-14.
“Our objective is to finish in the top 10 and I hope we can finish top five,” the midfielder told The Sun on Thursday.
It’s a notion that some may snicker at, especially considering the destruction Newcastle suffered last Monday night in the 4-0 loss to Manchester City. “That is going to be tough but I’m confident. The Manchester City game has gone and now we have to turn out attention to West Ham on Saturday.”
Forgetting the City game is a good idea. Yes, the Magpies offense was positively anemic (their only shot on target was Cheick Tiote’s rip from 35 yards out) and defense was leakier than a soiled diaper. Both of these, of course, come with the caveat of having played a man down for 45 minutes. (Cheers, Steven Taylor.)
The fact remains that despite Monday’s display and all the other blights on Newcastle in the last 12 months – the 16th place finish in the league, the loss of Demba Ba, the 3-0 pounding handed out by rival Sunderland at St. James’ Park, a transfer market that hasn’t seen a single dollar spent and the comically inept trio of Joe Kinnear, Mike Ashley and Alan Pardew – the Magpies still managed a 5th place finish in 2011-12.
Seems like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it?
So let’s hand it to Ben Arfa. For a player who feels like he could be half of a season away from a possible transfer out of Tyneside, he’s on-board for the rise of the Toon. “I will be doing everything for the team to maybe repeat what we did two years ago,” the 26 year old continued. “We will be stronger than last year. There’s confidence in the squad. We think we can do something good this season.”
Borussia Dortmund’s dominant start to the season is no more, and new Bayern Munich boss Jupp Heynckes has his side very much in the race for yet another Bundesliga crown.
[ MORE: LFC prospects buries U.S. ]
Hamburg 0-1 Bayern Munich
Strikers Bobby Wood (Hamburg) and Robert Lewandowski (Bayern) were frustrated, combining for just 47 touches, and it took a fittingly messy goal to separate the two. It came from French midfielder Corentin Tolisso and pulled Bayern level with leaders BVB on points, three goals back in differential.
Eintracht Frankfurt 2-2 Borussia Dortmund
BVB is, quite officially, in a bit of a funk. Nuri Sahin and Marvin Philipp gave the visitors a 2-0 lead, but Eintracht sprung for goals in the 64th and 68th minutes to deny the leaders more than a point. Christian Pulisic ran his socks off, as usual, with more than 11km covered, but will not look back on his 90 minutes fondly. It happens.
Borussia Monchengladbach 1-5 Bayer Leverkusen
American left winger Fabian Johnson buried a seventh minute goal… then watched the visitors put five of their six shots on target home for a gnarly home loss.
Schalke 2-0 Mainz — Friday
RB Leipzig 1-0 Stuttgart
Augsburg 1-2 Hannover 96
Koln vs. Werder Bremen — 7:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Freiburg vs. Hertha Berlin — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Wolfsburg vs. Hoffenheim — Noon ET Sunday
- Boufal’s solo goal wins it
- Saints outshoot WBA 20-7
- WBA winless since August
Sofiane Boufal‘s magnificent goal off the bench helped Southampton break down West Bromwich Albion for a 1-0 win at St. Mary’s on Saturday.
Saints go 10th with the win, on 12 points, while West Brom drops to 13th. The Baggies’ 10 points are two clear of the drop zone.
[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]
Ryan Bertrand cranked a deflected free kick off the bar in the 18th minute, as Saints had plenty of possession.
Manolo Gabbiadini dribbled 50-plus yards before cuing up Shane Long for a shot pushed wide of the near post.
There were a pair of handball shouts in the box at either end, with Salomon Rondon and Dusan Tadic both lucky to escape the view of officials.
Ben Foster made a terrific slap save on Maya Yoshida‘s headed corner as the match neared halftime, and Yoshida missed the far post with an overhead kick off the ensuing effort.
[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]
[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]
Both teams looked fairly content with a point in the early stages of the second half, Kieran Gibbs‘ header a rare bit of action for Saints backstop Fraser Forster.
The 72nd minute saw a probable but uncalled penalty to Tadic, who made a magnificent run into the box and saw himself into a tangle with Jonas Lossl.
Maybe that snapped the match to life, and Nacer Chadli cranked a shot off the top pipe.
Saints looked dangerous, and Tony Pulis packed his men in his own end in search of an away point and nothing more.
That backfired when Boufal scored his wonderful solo goal.
Some editorializing, if you’ll allow it:
While Jose Mourinho was lamenting his team’s poor performance at the John Smith’s Stadium, his counterpart was thrilled with the latest step in its amazing journey.
Huddersfield Town boss David Wagner, the ex-USMNT player, watched his team top Manchester United 2-1 on Saturday for its first win over the Red Devils in 65 years.
[ MORE: Recap | Mourinho reacts ]
As proud as he’s ever been, the Town manager spoke after the win. From the BBC:
“If this is our moment, we have to grab it, which is what the players did. Small Huddersfield have beaten Man Utd and it one of the proudest moments in my managerial career.
“It’s another chapter in the fairytale we started nearly two years ago. It has shown everything is possible in football.”
The win probably felt extra nice for goal scorer Aaron Mooy, who rose to prominence on loan from Man City.
The attempts were nearly even. The finishing was anything but.
The United States fell 4-1 to England on Saturday at the U-17 World Cup quarterfinals in India.
[ MORE: Mourinho reacts to 1st loss ]
Captain Josh Sargent scored the lone United States goal at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, pulling the Baby Yanks within two goals before Liverpool man Rhian Brewster completed his hat trick with a stoppage time penalty.
Here’s Sargent’s goal:
Morgan Gibbs-White of Wolverhampton scored England’s other goal.
Ajax defender Sergio Dest took a red card in that added time, ensuing the U.S. would finish its World Cup with 10 men.
The U.S. took 20 of the matches 39 shot attempts, but England put 12 on target compared to the Americans’ four.