Arsene Wenger: Premier League title is “Chelsea’s to lose”

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Okay Arsene, starting up the mind games I see. Get stuck in.

Arsenal manage Arsene Wenger gave Jose Mourinho a taste of his own medicine on Friday, as the Gunners boss stated that Chelsea are the favorites for the Premier League crown.

Recently Mourinho has been playing down talks of a title heading to Stamford Bridge, saying it was Manchester City’s to lose and then saying Liverpool have the advantage as they don’t have the UEFA Champions League to worry about.

But when asked who he thought is in the driving seat to take the PL crown, Wenger turned the tables on the ‘Special One.’

“It is very open, only Chelsea can lose it now because they are in front and all the other teams can win it,” Wenger said. “I’ve always said many teams are in it and it will be very tight until the end.”

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Chelsea are one point ahead of Arsenal in second, three points ahead of Manchester City in third and four points ahead of Liverpool in fourth. As Wenger said, many teams are in this.

So why single out Chelsea and mention them specifically?

Wenger is just playing some mind games of his own, and trying to relieve the pressure on his side who have been right up there at the summit since the start of the season. However Arsenal have been looking a little leggy in their last two performances, a 5-1 defeat at Liverpool and Wednesday’s 0-0 draw against Manchester United. They now face Liverpool in the FA Cup on Sunday, and then Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday.

(MORE: Mourinho plays down Chelsea going top, how long will he keep doing this?)

With a big seven days coming up for the Gunners, Wenger is trying to quell chat that they are the favorites and is instead piling more pressure on Chelsea. But the French manager has insisted that his team are capable of winning trophies this season and unlike many of his rivals, Wenger admits a “fear to fail” is what’s driving Mourinho and other managers into playing down their own teams titles chances.

Will the Frenchman’s tactic work? Let’s wait and see what Jose has to say about this…

Leicester City record massive earnings from UEFA Champions League

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Leicester City’s UEFA Champions League campaign may have ended without a trophy, but the Premier League side pipped the European champions in the bank account.

UEFA announced on Friday that Leicester City earned $96,167,125 during the Champions League run that ended in the quarterfinals, the farthest of any Premier League club. Real Madrid, the back-to-back champions, earned a slightly less $95,385,679. Much of the difference comes from TV rights deals in England, which pays out more to teams compared to the TV rights deal in Spain.

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Juventus, the Italian giant, earned the most of any club in last year’s Champions League, making a whopping $129,965,357, mostly thanks to the TV rights again.

Mourinho: Ibrahimovic could return in December

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Dare to Zlatan? It could be only a couple of months away.

That’s according to Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who said the veteran striker could return from his torn ACL before the end of the calendar year.

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“Zlatan is here, he’s working here and under our control,” Mourinho told reporters. “He’s working as you would expect so, so, so hard. But he’s not to be back in the next week or next couple of weeks. Do I believe he’ll be back in 2017? Yes, I do. But it’s just a feeling.”

The big Swede scored 28 goals for Man United last year in all competitions, proving that he’s still got it at the age of 36, but it’s going to be tough for him to find his old form coming off an ACL injury at such an old age. After suffering the injury last April, it’s been a long road to recovery for Ibrahimovic.

However, with the play of Romelu Lukaku up top, Ibrahimovic would only play from time to time, which could help in his recovery both from the knee injury and just the general recovery between games.

Manchester City quartet called up by Brazil for friendlies

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Brazilian National Team coach Tite has decided on calling up a full-strength squad for November’s upcoming friendly matches in Europe, including four Manchester City players in his 25-man squad.

Gabriel Jesus, Fernandinho, Danilo and Ederson all made the squad as Tite looks to develop more chemistry among his side ahead of the 2018 World Cup, which Brazil breezed into after Tite took over in 2016.

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Luckily for Manchester City and the other European-based players in the squad, Brazil’s friendly matches will be played in Western Europe. The Selecao first faces Japan in Lille, France on November 10 before taking on England at Wembley Stadium on November 14.

The call-ups may be a tough pill for Guardiola to swallow though. As of Friday, Manchester City has 17 games remaining in the calendar year, and surely he would prefer for some of his starters to get a two-week break in November to preserve some energy instead of play in friendly matches.

Everton announce lifetime ban for fan involved in altercation with Lyon player

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On a night when UEFA unveiled a new campaign for respect, there wasn’t enough of it shown both on and off the field.

Everton has followed up on UEFA opening up disciplinary proceedings against them by banning a fan from Everton matches after the fan was seen to punch at an Olympique Lyon player in the second half of Lyon’s 2-1 win at Goodison Park.

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“Club Officials have reviewed the footage of an incident that occurred in the 64th minute of the game against Olympique Lyonnais where supporters towards the front of the lower Gwladys Street End became involved in a confrontation between players,” Everton said in a statement. “We have identified one individual whom action will now be taken against. This will include a ban from attending future Everton fixtures and the Club registering a formal complaint with Merseyside Police.”

The video below shows a fan – amazingly, holding onto a small boy in one arm – throwing some punches at Lyon players after a fracas on the field.

The punch and ban is yet another dark moment for Everton, which has just one point from its first three Europa League matches and sits in 16th place in the Premier League with eight points from eight games.