After Tuesday’s results, Arsenal is as close to fifth as it is to first. After a stoppage time own goal gave struggling Swansea City a point at the Emirates, the Gunners saw their game on Everton reduced to six points. With the Toffees still holding a game in hand, Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger is ready to shift focus from a title charge to protecting the team’s Champions League spot.
“The title is not our biggest worry at the moment,” Wenger said, via reporting by The Guardian. “We just have to try to be realistic and we have to come back in the next game. We have to look behind us … Everton won [at Newcastle United] so we have, of course, to focus.”
(MORE: Arsenal 2-2 Swansea City: Stoppage time own goal from Flamini sees Gunners drop points at home)
For a team that could have moved within one of first on Saturday, moving on from the title race is a sudden and bitter turn. But with the worst goal difference among the league’s top four, Arsenal have the standings, form, and tiebreakers working against it. Champions League must be the priority, especially with Arsenal set to visit Goodson on Apr. 6.
“It will be open until the end,” Wenger said of the races at the top of the table. “We can still have surprises.”
At this point, it would be a surprise to see the Gunners resume their title challenge, part of the reason why Wenger sees a two-team race at the top.
“Manchester City had a good result [at United] … they look a bit unstoppable and they are the favorites because they still have two games in hand,” according to Wenger.
“Them and Chelsea are the favorites for the title. We don’t have too much room to come back into it.”
Fans protested their ticket prices, and Liverpool’s owners listened.
Reds manager Jurgen Klopp isn’t surprised by this, and the German backed his bosses and gave an injury update as part of his prematch press conference on Friday.
[ MORE: Arsenal to play MLS All Stars in San Jose ]
Liverpool heads to Aston Villa on Sunday, and Klopp is cautiously optimistic about his stars after Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and Philippe Coutinho played big roles in the Reds’ midweek FA Cup loss to West Ham.
Klopp says Origi and Coutinho need their minutes managed, but said Sturridge feels good after normal recovery from his 70-minute return against the Irons. The English striker was Liverpool’s star in the match, and looked a cut above the Reds’ recent strike options.
As for the ticket price issue, Klopp beamed with pride over the Liverpool decision.
From the BBC:
“I think the world of football it is not easy when you are the owner of a club to prove you are interested in the club,” said Klopp.
“I have been here four-and-a-half months and I know the owners as people. They really care about the club and the interests of supporters. Hopefully it is understood for what it is: proof of their real interest in this club and all the things around this club.”
No surprise that Klopp backed the men who pay his deal, but it’d be easy enough for him to ignore the issue (though that’s hardly in his DNA).
As for Sturridge, Liverpool’s in for some goals if Tuesday is any indication.
Play until you hear the referee’s whistle. In theory, so simple. In practice, it only takes a single second of concentration lapse to become an internet sensation for all the wrong reasons.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USWNT coverage ]
Such is life for Karyn Forbes, member of the Trinidad and Tobago women’s national soccer team. In the above video, you’ll observe Forbes, a 24-year-old midfielder, giving away perhaps the most bizarre penalty kick you’ll ever see. You’ll have to watch for yourself to believe it.
[ MORE: USWNT opens Olympic qualifying with 5-0 victory ]
Unfortunately for Forbes, though the whole of the ball might have crossed the whole of the end line, the referee did not blow her whistle… not until Forbes picked the ball up with her hands and carried it to her goalkeeper.
BERLIN (AP) The German Football League (DFL) has given the go-ahead for the possible testing of video replays in the Bundesliga over a two-year pilot phase.
[ FOLLOW: PST’s Bundesliga coverage ]
The DFL says it will be lodging an application with FIFA to take part if the pilot phase is approved by the International Football Association Board at its next annual general meeting on March 5.
The DFL says video replays could be used by a “team of impartial match officials for the purpose of avoiding any evidently incorrect decisions” and that the pilot phase would be preceded by “intensive preparations.”
[ MORE: 17-year-old American MF Pulisic gets Bundesliga debut for Dortmund ]
These would include the settlement of costs among FIFA, the IFAB, the DFL and German football federation, as well as training for the candidates.
West Ham United hope Dimitri Payet is going absolutely nowhere after the club announced on Thursday the 28-year-old Frenchman has signed a contract extension through the summer of 2021.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]
Payet’s current contract was scheduled to keep him at the Premier League club through the summer of 2020, but a series of standout performances (6 goals, 4 assists so far this season, mostly during the season’s opening three months) and rumors of interest from “bigger” clubs meant tacking on another year — and plenty more cash — was the best way to keep Payet in east London for the foreseeable future. The club confirmed earlier this week that negotiations over an extension were underway.
“He’s the best player I’ve signed in 25 years,” said West Ham co-owner David Sullivan. “He’s a [$43 million] player. He’s a supreme footballer. He makes every player in our side play better. On his day, he’s world class, he’s unstoppable.”
Payet, who’s been at West Ham just eight months after signing last summer, could still depart in the summer should he finish the current season strong and/or show up and show out at the European Championship, which kicks off in June. In that event, West Ham would now bag a much heftier transfer fee than they would have done prior to the extension.