Wenger: Arsenal have ‘no regrets’ over not signing Luis Suarez

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In anticipation of this weekend’s crunch tie with Liverpool, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claims the club has no regrets over failing to sign Liverpool’s Luis Suarez.

You know the backstory – Arsenal makes a cheeky bid of £40m and one pound last summer for an unsettled Suarez in the hope of triggering his buy-out clause only to learn that no £40m buy-out clause exists thereby pissing off Liverpool owner John W Henry who fearlessly tweets: “What do you think they’re smoking over there at Emirates?” 

And now, six months later, the British press – those gluttons for drama – decided this weekend’s blockbuster was the perfect time to revisit the issue.

Despite the admission that the bid was provocative and “not the most subtle thing we have done,” Wenger said “there are no regrets.You have sometimes regrets when a player played for you, and scores goals or does well somewhere else [but] he was never our player. It is just a situation that did not come off and that is it.”

In other words, John W Henry, Arsenal was smoking the opportunity to purchase a world-class striker at a cut-rate price. Sounds a bit crazy to claim £40m “cut-rate” but with Suarez’ sensational 23 goal haul in 19 appearances in hand few can deny his current market value is in the neighborhood of the £85m Real Madrid paid Tottenham for Gareth Bale last summer.

So credit to Wenger for standing strong on making that move. Yes, it was one that justifiably pissed off Liverpool but all’s fair in love and war. And the mere ambition of Arsenal to try and make that swoop is one that will fill Goonahs with hope that the notoriously conservative club will fearlessly charge forward when a good deal pops its head (or in the case of Suarez, seems to pop its head).

That being said, Liverpool has all the right in the world to be offended. Despite making it clear they wouldn’t be selling Suarez yet Arsenal still came at them. In the tricky world of transfer market ethics, calling ‘foul’ on Wenger & Co. seems justified.

Although the North London club did have intelligence (for lack of a better term) that claimed Suarez had a buy-out clause, when he didn’t. Wenger was not asked where that information came from, who supplied it and if there has been any punishment for providing such bad information.

When asked whether he might try again for Suarez in the summer, Wenger responded in his typically sheepish tone, “at the moment, no,” reinforcing his ‘no regrets’ stance and refusing to succumb to guilt for making the move.

Ultimately for Wenger, it comes down to winning. In his book the Suarez narrative is a red herring – something to get you and I fired up as we sip that first delicious Guinness at 7:45am on Saturday morning.

“For us, the important thing is to win the game,” Wenger added. “The fact about what happened in the summer [with Suárez] is nothing to do with that… The philosophy on our side has to be the same: to master the ball and to dominate the game.”

CCL wrap: FC Dallas disappoints; Club America struts (video)

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The CONCACAF Champions League returned Tuesday with Toronto FC’s 2-0 quarterfinal first leg win in Colorado, and a trio of ties began Wednesday across Panama, Costa Rica, and Honduras.

[ WATCH: Fred’s vicious free kick ]

Tauro 1-0 FC Dallas

Veteran striker Edwin Aguilar scored a big goal, and goalkeeper Oscar McFarlane did plenty of good things as the Panamanian side struck a wild first blow against its MLS visitors.

Here’s a random fact underscoring how remarkable of a failure this would be for FC Dallas: Only six of Tauro’s roster members have their own Wikipedia page.

Deportivo Saprissa 1-5 Club America

Cecilio Dominguez and Mateus Uribe each bagged a brace, and Renato Ibarra also scored as the tournament’s top team sauntered into and out of Costa Rica on Wednesday. Club America has been to seven CCL finals, and one every single one.

Motagua vs. Club Tijuana — 10 a.m. ET

Honduran hosts hope to have a leg to stand on — pun intended — once the tie heads to Mexico.

West Ham to friendly neighbors Dag & Red: “Will help save our club”

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English Conference Premier side Dagenham and Redbridge has seen better days, and is getting a hand from a Premier League pal.

[ WATCH: Fred’s vicious free kick ]

West Ham United will pay a visit to Dag & Red as part of the latter’s #SaveTheDaggers campaign, and the March 21 date will cost fans between $7 and $21 to see a top flight side at 6,000-seat Victoria Road.

Dagenham and Redbridge chairman Paul Gwinn said, “It really will help save our club.”

“So please come on down to the Chigwell Construction Stadium for an additional night of football. Bring a friend, or two, or more and we can use the gate takings to help get us back on track,” reads a press release.

Dag & Red was founded in 1992 and climbed as high as League One in 2011, and plays just 2.5 miles from West Ham United’s training ground. Newcastle’s Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle are among Dag & Red alums in the Premier League.

It’s a terrific gesture from West Ham, and is even more impressive in the United States where the growing club game is increasingly cutthroat (especially between non-synced leagues).

Angry Di Francesco extremely quotable after Roma loss

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AS Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco absolutely roasted his charges after i Lupi tossed aside a Cenzig Under-inspired lead to fall 2-1 at Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Wednesday.

Di Francesco had praise for Edin Dzeko, who assisted Under’s goal, as well as goalkeeper Alisson, but was mostly enraged by his side.

[ MORE: Recap + Fred’s vicious free kick ]

Rather than construct a narrative, we’re going to point out our five favorite selections from Di Francesco’s post-match talk.

4) “The difference was that in the first half we tried to hurt them while in the second we were looking to hold on – to what? I don’t know.”

— “To what? I don’t know” is hilarious. Di Francesco’s side has posted some serious wins this season, including killing off Chelsea 3-0 at home and coming back from 2-0 to draw the Blues at Stamford Bridge. He doesn’t preach sitting back.

3) “There were far too many schoolboy errors – even by players with a wealth of international experience.”

— Schoolboy errors!

2) “I saw two completely different teams out there today. There were lots of players I should have taken off after we conceded the first goal.”

— Again, one mistake by a number of players on Facundo Ferreyra is enough for Di Francesco. He’s not just happy to be here.

1) “I can’t imagine we’d get arrogant just because we’re winning an important game. It’s not as if Roma are used to reaching the final every year.”

— When you’re willing to essentially rip an entire club’s history — Roma’s been to just two UCL quarterfinals since losing the final to Liverpool in 1984 — you’re putting your footprints in new cement.

Europa League preview: Rating every second leg

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Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund are one of many teams with their UEFA Europa League fates realistically in the balance come Thursday’s second legs of the Round of 32.

[ MORE: Sevilla 0-1 Man Utd | Mourinho reacts ]

Aside from a sextet of big teams posting blowouts, there’s still hope for the Round of 16 and a step closer to an automatic berth in the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League.

Basically done

Atletico Madrid 4-1 Copenhagen — 1 p.m. ET
Sporting Lisbon 3-1 Astana — 1 p.m. ET
Arsenal 3-0 Ostersund — 3:05 p.m. ET
Milan 3-0 Ludogorets Razgrad — 3:05 p.m. ET
Athletic Bilbao 3-1 Spartak Moscow — 3:05 p.m. ET
Braga 0-3 Marseille — 3:05 p.m. ET

In four of these cases, the heavy favorites emerged with multiple goal leads and at least three away goals.

Actually done

CSKA Moscow beat Red Star Belgrade 1-0 on Wednesday to win 1-0 on aggregate.

Unlikely, but big club lurks

RB Leipzig 3-1 Napoli — 1 p.m. ET
Villarreal 1-3 Lyon — 1 p.m. ET

In the case of Napoli, their 3-1 home loss to Leipzig was stunning but it’s impossible to rule out a club with such firepower. Villarreal trails by two to Lyon, but is home and dangerous.

Advantage one side, but anyone’s guess

Lokomotiv Moscow 3-2 Nice — 11 a.m. ET
Lazio 0-1 FCSB — 1 p.m. ET
Zenit Saint-Petersburg 0-1 Celtic — 1 p.m. ET
Red Bull Salzburg 2-2 Real Sociedad — 3:05 p.m. ET
Atalanta 2-3 Borussia Dortmund — 3:05 p.m. ET

Salzburg’s two away goals in a draw feels like a one-goal lead, and the one-goal matches are especially interesting. In the case of Atalanta, 1-0 to the Serie A side could undo Michy Batshuayi‘s first leg heroics for BVB.

Wide open

Plzen 1-1 Partizan Belgrade — 1 p.m. ET
Dynamo Kyiv 1-1 AEK Athens — 1 p.m. ET

Yes, nil-nil will get it done for the hosts, but there wasn’t a 0-0 in the entire group of first legs.