Wenger wants UEFA to take a hard line with Financial Fair Play violators

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If you want to be a part of a competition, you have to play by its rules. Those who don’t should not be allowed to take part.

That’s the logic Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger would like to see applied by UEFA as if concerns Financial Fair Play (FFP), according to reporting by The Guardian. Calling current sanctions unduly “sophisticated,” the Arsenal boss said he’d prefer simpler FFP punishments that make “more sense.” To him, excluding violators into the competition makes the most sense.

“You would think that you accept the rules and you’re in the competition or you don’t accept the rules and you’re not in the competition. Then, everybody would understand it.”

Unfortunately for Wenger, the rules aren’t exactly ‘adhere or you’re out.’ Financial Fair Play has a compliance period, after which clubs in violation face a series of varying, escalating punishments. Perhaps one day a team will be excluded from Champions League, but that day isn’t tomorrow, when teams like Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain find out their penalties.

Then again, Wenger confessed he doesn’t quite understand how FFP’s punishments work:

“But if I go out in the street now and I ask a hundred people what you think of the fair play punishment, how many do you think can explain it to you? I’m in the job and I cannot do it.”

Whether he can explain the sanctions or not, Wenger’s underlying point seems clear: The principles of the competition must be respected, not only by teams but also by those two are enforcing the rules. The point of FFP is go get teams spending within their means, right? Why allow teams to take part if they’re unwilling to do so?

It’s a view that transcends Wenger’s view on Champions League. It also defines how Wenger manages his club. In a league with big spenders like Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United, the Arsenal boss wonders how interested England is in having a “fair competition:”

“If you say to me tomorrow: ‘We give everybody £100m in the 20 Premier League clubs,’ I am OK. I’ll take the gamble. You can start what is a fair competition. It is a bit like how it works in the States, which is the most capitalistic country. They have a more even field of competition. That’s a basic question you have to answer in England. Do we let it go and everyone spends what he wants?”

The Guardian has more, but as you’d expect from a manager who has stayed within his means, Wenger takes a harsh view of those breaking their banks to sign the world’s best talent.

Europa League Preview: Everton, Milan look to make group stage

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Everton look to make it back into the Europa League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season and it has a two-goal advantage heading into the second leg of its tie.

Ronald Koeman and co. travel to Croatia to face Hadjuk Split Thursday having won the first leg at Goodison Park, 2-0. Everton is coming off a hard-fought draw on Monday with Manchester City and will be on short rest heading into the match.

Elsewhere in Europa League action, AC Milan take its 6-0 aggregate lead to Skopje, Macedonia as the legendary club looks to return to the group stage of a European competition for the first time since 2013-2014.

Here’s a look at all of Thursday’s Europa League matches, with the current aggregate scores:

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EFL Cup Rewind: Southampton, Newcastle knocked out by Championship sides

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Last season, Southampton made it to the EFL Cup final. This year, it’s a different story.

The Saints were bounced by Wolverhampton Wanderers, 2-0 at home on Wednesday in the second round of the cup. Joining Southampton of Premier League sides going home early was Newcastle, which lost 3-2 after extra time at home against Nottingham Forest.

Four other Premier League sides did advance to the third round, as Stoke City, Huddersfield Town, West Ham United and Burnley all won their fixtures.

Here’s a look at the rest of Wednesday’s EFL Cup action:

Blackburn 0-2 Burnley

Cheltenham 0-2 West Ham

Huddersfield 2-1 Rotherham

Newcastle 2-3 Nottingham Forest

Southampton 0-2 Wolverhampton

Stoke City 4-0 Rochdale

Breaking down who each Premier League team could face in the UCL Group Stage

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The UEFA Champions League group stage lineup is complete, with five Premier League clubs making the list.

On Wednesday, Liverpool joined Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United in the group stage after beating Hoffenheim, 6-3 on aggregate in the playoff qualification round.

Thursday’s Champions League draw (2 p.m. ET) will place clubs into groups of four, where they’ll play three matches at home and away.

Here’s a look at the four coefficient pots and who each Premier League club could face:

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Follow Live – Texas Derby, Cascadia Cup headline busy night of MLS action

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Welcome to MLS Rivalry Week.

The surging Houston Dynamo could move to first place in the Western Conference with a win over rivals FC Dallas while the current first-place side, the Seattle Sounders travel north and across the border to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

The Dynamo have made an impressive turnaround under coach Wilmer Cabrera and he’ll have the trio of Ricardo Clark, Alberth Elis and star forward Erick Torres available to face Dallas after missing the Dynamo’s match at Vancouver last weekend, which ended 2-1 in favor of the Whitecaps.

FC Dallas are in its worst form of the season, winless in its last four games, but the team will be extra motivated to beat its rivals.

El Capitan is on the line after draws between FC Dallas and the Dynamo in two matches earlier this season.

Meanwhile up in Vancouver, the Whitecaps host a Sounders squad that pulled out a last-gasp victory last weekend over Minnesota United. While the team is in great form on the road recently (two wins and two draws), the top story heading into the game is the unexpected absence of Joevin Jones, who left the Sounders for his home in Trinidad and Tobago ahead of the upcoming international break.

[ FOLLOW: Live MLS scores ]

On the other side, Fredy Montero faces his former club and carries an interesting record into Wednesday’s match. Of his 35 MLS goals, 11 have been scored against Cascadia Cup competition.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s action:

Full schedule

Columbus Crew vs. LA Galaxy – 7:30 p.m. ET

D.C. United vs. Atlanta United – 7:30 p.m.ET

FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo – 8 p.m. ET

Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union – 8 p.m. ET

Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes – 10 p.m. ET

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders – 10 p.m. ET

Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids – 10:30 p.m. ET