Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is more than a little surprised at the reports that Spanish star Juan Mata will be leaving Chelsea for a direct competitor in Manchester United.
Wenger’s also doubting the fairness of the move, as Chelsea’s already faced Manchester United twice and will not have to face Mata (while the move hands the Red Devils a boost ahead of a visit to Wenger’s Gunners on Feb. 12).
Some are reading into the following quotes as his calling for the Premier League to look into its fixture-scheduling in the future, as well as seemingly the role the January window plays in the season?
“United could have sold him last week but it opens at least the dates of this transfer window. Some teams have already played twice against one opponent and some others not and I think if you want to respect the fairness for everybody – exactly the same – that should not happen.
“I wouldn’t go as far as that, [Chelsea selling Mata to do damage to rivals]. I just think you would want that everybody is at the same level. I can understand completely what Chelsea are doing, it’s within the rules but maybe the rules should be adapted for fairness.”
Color me a cynic, but is he not saying, “Why do we have to face Juan Mata while Chelsea doesn’t have to worry about him at all?”
Wenger also said Arsenal’s lack of any transfers cooking at this late stage in January coupled with his squad’s health make any new talent coming to the Emirates during the January transfer window unlikely.
“We have Chamberlain back, Bendtner back and I hope next week Arteta and Ramsey back, so I feel overall we have the squad needed. We have Yaya Sanogo coming back into the squad next week as well.
“Overall we have a very strong squad. If something exceptional turns up we will do it but having said that not everybody will strengthen. They buy, but buy does not always mean strengthen.”
So, no Draxler then? Arsenal hosts Coventry City on Friday night for the club’s FA Cup fourth-round tie before visiting Southampton on Tuesday. With suspensions, appointments and injuries, the Saints have plenty of news of their own this morning…
MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich fans were unhappy with the price of tickets for their team’s match at Anderlecht in the Champions League.
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The fans held banners during Wednesday’s game saying, “Are your necks not full? Is your greed now finally satisfied?”
A Bayern fan group, Club Nr. 12, issued a statement saying Anderlecht had made 85 percent of the tickets available to the German club’s fans priced at 100 euros ($118).
“Even by the standards of the generally high-priced Champions League, this represents a new dimension for a first-round game,” said the statement, which thanked Bayern for supplementing the tickets so fans had could pay 70 euros ($82.50).
Many Bayern fans avoided the trip to Brussels altogether, while 91 percent of more than 2,500 Club Nr. 12 members said in a survey that ticket prices were “completely unacceptable.”
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Anderlecht spokesman David Steegen told The Associated Press that Bayern fans were charged “exactly the same price” as home fans who bought single tickets to the game. He said fans who bought a three-game Champions League bundle were offered a reduction.
Both Premier League sides fell in Thursday’s UEFA Europa League play, but for one side the result didn’t effect their progression into the next round.
[ MORE: Ex-Brazil forward Robinho handed nine-year prison sentence ]
Arsenal dropped a 1-0 result to Cologne, however, the Gunners still moved into the Round of 32 after their Group H counterparts, Red Star Belgrade and BATE Borisov settled for a scoreless draw.
Meanwhile, Everton’s 2017/18 woes continued on the day as the Toffees suffered a brutal 5-1 defeat at home against Serie A side Atalanta. The win secures Atalanta’s place in the knockout phase, along with fellow Group E club Lyon — who also won on Thursday.
AC Milan put up five goals of its own in a convincing win against Austria Wien, while Lazio, Nice and Red Bull Salzburg were among the other sides to move into the next round after picking up the necessary results.
Below are all of the scores from Thursday’s Europa League action.
Astana 2-3 Villareal
Konyaspor 1-1 Marseille
Rosenborg 0-1 Real Sociedad
Lazio 1-1 Vitesse
Viktoria Plzen 2-0 Steaua Bucuresti
Lokomotiv 2-1 Copenhagen
Zenit 2-1 Vardar
Red Bull Salzburg 3-0 Vitoria
Athletic Bilbao 3-2 Hertha Berlin
BATE 0-0 Red Star Belgrade
Ostersunds 2-0 Zorya
Koln 1-0 Arsenal
Nice 3-1 Zulte Waregem
Lugano 1-0 Beer-Sheva
Ludogorets 1-2 Istanbul
Braga 3-1 Hoffenheim
AEK 2-2 Rijeka
AC Milan 5-1 Austria Vienna
Lyon 4-0 Apollon
Maccabi Tel Aviv 0-2 Slavia Praha
Sheriff 1-0 Zlin
Partizan 2-1 Young Boys
Skenderbeu 3-2 Dynamo Kyiv
Everton 1-5 Atalanta
Former Brazil international Robinho has been sentenced to nine years in prison after being convicted of rape on an Albanian woman back in 2013.
[ MORE: Study will look at long-term effects of playing soccer ]
At the time, Robinho was playing for Serie A side AC Milan.
The court decision came down on Thursday after the 33-year-old forward had failed to attend any court hearings in Italy, where the crime reportedly took place.
Robinho is believed to have acted in the crime with five other Brazilians, to which their whereabouts are unknown to this point.
Reuters has reported that Robinho is entitled to up to two appeals and “Italy would only launch extradition proceedings once this legal process is exhausted.”
The Brazilian is known for his club playing days at AC Milan and Manchester City, among other clubs in addition to his time with the Selecao. Robinho took part in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups with Brazil.
- West Ham is winless in last six against Leicester
- Jamie Vardy has two goals, two assists in last 4 games vs. West Ham
- Hammers have nine points through first 12 matches
West Ham United will host Leicester City from the London Stadium on Friday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET Friday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as David Moyes and Co. look to climb out of the relegation zone.
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Moyes and West Ham currently sit 18th in the Premier League through 12 games, and will be hoping to see an improvement in their form with the potential returns of Andre Ayew and Marko Arnautovic.
The Hammers are without Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Michail Antonio, as well as James Collins.
The Foxes are winless in their last two matches, and coming off of a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City over the weekend. Robert Huth and Matty James remain sidelined for Puel’s group, but otherwise, the club is relatively healthy.
What they’re saying
West Ham boss David Moyes on turning the team’s form around: “We need to give the supporters something to shout about and something that looks half decent, and then they will support us. I want everyone to be together. I am not aware of the problems before I came, I was a bit surprised when I heard (chanting against the board). “I want them behind us to give us a chance of winning.”
Leicester’s Claude Puel on confidence in his players: “I have a good feeling with the players; they listen, they work hard on the pitch and I feel their ambition. We will see in the next games, with a good adaption and rotation, to see them approach it with a positive attitude.”
The Hammers are missing several key attacking pieces, including Hernandez, which will surely make the defensive task easier for Leicester. The Foxes attack hasn’t been at its finest, but they’ll be facing a West Ham back line that allows over two goals per game (25 in 12 matches).
West Ham 1-3 Leicester