Newcastle United's Ben Arfa celebrates scoring against Fulham during their English Premier League soccer match at St James' Stadium in Newcastle

Ben Arfa gives Newcastle the lead at Aston Villa

Leave a comment

It may have taken 20 minutes for Newcastle to take the lead at Aston Villa, but anyone watching knew that moment was coming. The team that took to the pitch at Villa Park may have looked like Paul Lambert’s revived and reassembled Lions, but once Newcastle started pressing, the splinters in the defense turned into giant cracks.

Right from the start, Loic Remy sensed that he’d be able to get the better of Villa right back Matthew Lowton. The Magpies took their attack down the left, and it didn’t take long before Papiss Cisse got into the area, but he put his shot wide. Just a minute later, Cisse was forcing a save from Brad Guzan.

So it was no surprise that Newcastle’s goal came at the expense of Lowton. Villa gave the ball away inside their own third, and despite a comical series of tackles couldn’t regain possession. Remy went at Lowton and managed a bit of trickery, his ball coming off Cisse and falling kindly at the feet of Hatem Ben Arfa. The attacker easily knocked his shot in from close range.

Ten minutes later, Villa’s misery was compounded. Minutes after finally getting in a shot, courtesy of Andreas Weimann, center back Jores Okore was forced out with injury. That’s four games and three early substitutions for Aston Villa defenders.

VIDEO: Marco Verratti plays a brilliant pass to Eder for Italy goal

PALERMO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06:  Marco Verratti of Italy in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier match between Italy and Bulgaria on September 6, 2015 in Palermo, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Italy took a 1-0 lead over Azerbaijan through the in-form Eder in the 11th minute, but the true leg-work (see what I did there) came from bite-sized midfielder Marco Verratti.

The PSG playmaker pinged a beautiful long ball over the top of the Azerbaijan defense that fell right at the feet of Eder, who let the ball settle itself and touched home confidently past Kamran Arhayev for a 1-0 lead.

The goal is the second of Eder’s national career in just five caps, having scored on debut against Bulgaria back in March. He has six goals in seven matches for Sampdoria so far this Serie A season.

Italy needs three points in this match to ensure qualification to Euro 2016. A win would guarantee them a place in the field, while anything less would mean there is work to do in the final match on Tuesday against Norway.


Later in the match, Stephan El Shaarawy gave Italy a 2-1 lead just before halftime, his second career international goal and his first since September of 2012 which came in his third career start.

Agent: Liverpool contacted Klopp only after Rodgers firing

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 09:  Jurgen Klopp arrives to be unveiled as the new manager of Liverpool FC at a press conference at Anfield on October 9, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

As soon as Brendan Rodgers was dismissed by Liverpool on Sunday, Jurgen Klopp’s name was tossed around as the likely successor to the then-vacant Liverpool managerial position.

However, according to Klopp’s representatve Marc Kosicke, Liverpool did not make contact with the German until after Rodgers had been officially let go.

“The first call from Liverpool came after the dismissal as coach of Rodgers,” Kosicke told Bild. “Before Liverpool there were naturally quite a few inquiries. But Jurgen always asked me not to take it any further.”

Club management was less committal than Klopp’s rep, but did say they had their eye on the German for some time. “We have learned to keep certain matters confidential. We had a meeting recently with Jurgen that he has talked about and I don’t want to talk too much about these conversations. But we have thought about him for a long time and everyone who knows football knows he is an outstanding manager.”

It’s relatively hard to believe Liverpool would have canned Rodgers without knowing for sure that a top-level target such as Klopp or Carlo Ancelotti were on board to replace him. It also would mean discussions of the contract terms and logistics would have moved at lightning speed, with just four days between the Rodgers dismissal and Klopp’s official unveiling.