Arsenal v Galatasaray - Emirates Cup

Gedion Zelalem getting his chance to impress with Arsenal’s first team


January’s FA Cup appearance marked 17-year-old Gedion Zelalem’s debut in Arsenal’s senior team, but this summer, the potential U.S. international is getting his chance to impress with the first team before the season starts. Thrown into a midfield featuring the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Abou Diaby, Zelalem played 45 minutes at Boreham Wood on Saturday, with the Gunners’ 2-0 win giving one of their prized prospects a chance measure his progress.

The experience, as well as training with some of his idols, has left the prospect in awe.

“I think about it all the time,” Zelalem told Arsenal’s website today. “In training [sometimes] I’ll zone out thinking, ‘Oh, I’m really training with them’. I don’t think I’ll get used to it!”

According to the web site, Zelalem “impressed with a composed” half of play against the conference club, with the academy product hoping to get more chances with the team as preseason goes on.

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“I’m delighted to play with the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Abou Diaby,” Zelalem said. “I grew up watching them, so playing with them is pretty much a dream come true. Hopefully I’ll be able to play with them more.”

Given Zelalem’s promise, that seems inevitable. The question is when; or, rather, when will the young midfielder get a chance to shine with the senior team on a regular basis?

Don’t expect that to happen anytime soon. Beyond Ramsey and the newly healthy Diaby, manager Arsèene Wenger can choose from Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Mathieu Flamini, and Francis Coquelin in central midfield. And with players like Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira linked to the Gunners, Arsenal’s depth will likely improve before kicking off the Premier League season next month.

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But Zelalem is clearly progressing. If he made an FA Cup appearance last season, maybe 2014-15 will give him a few more chances to shine. Perhaps there’s a loan in his future. And maybe, as the Premier League season progresses, Wenger see an opportunity to give his prized prospect his full league debut.

In the interim, Zelalem is soaking up as much information as possible.

“All of them help me – not only the ones that play in my position,” Zelalem said of Arsenal’s stars. “Per Mertesacker tells me what to do and it’s just a good environment to be in.

“They tell me about their experiences, that things will get hard but that you just have to push on. It’s good.”

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia

Jurgen Klopp announced as new Liverpool manager

Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool FC
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Enough with the speculation and reports already, because it’s finally officially official: Jurgen Klopp has been appointed the newest manager of Liverpool Football Club, the Merseyside club announced on Thursday.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Klopp will be unveiled to the world at an introductory press conference at Anfield on Friday.

According to early reports, Klopp’s three-year contract could pay him as much as $10 million per season.

[ QUOTE KING: Top 10 “Klopp-isms” from his time at Dortmund ]

The 48-year-old German has been out of work since stepping down at Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund following a seventh-place finish to the 2014-15 season. Klopp’s seven seasons in charge of Dortmund weren’t without success and silverware, though, as he led Der BVB to back-to-back league titles in 2011 and 2012, a German Cup triumph in 2012 and a UEFA Champions League final appearance in 2013.

PST’s Joe Prince-Wright will be at Anfield on Friday for Klopp’s unveiling, so be sure to follow JPW on Twitter and check back to PST for wall-to-wall coverage of Klopp’s first press conference as Liverpool manager.