Arsenal trapped in strange state of flux

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LONDON — Time seems to have stood still at Arsenal.

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While games come and go, what lies ahead for the Gunners’ future is the main question surrounding everything they do.

Will Arsene Wenger stay? Will Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez sign new deals? Can they finish in the top four? Everything is threatening to change but at the same time, nothing is happening.

[ MORE: Arsenal, Man City draw

Arsenal’s crucial top four clash with Manchester City on Sunday was almost an afterthought as the entertaining draw epitomized the melancholy felt by most around the Emirates Stadium.

For 20 years Wenger has ruled supreme, leading Arsenal to the UEFA Champions League each season with what seemed to be consummate easy. Yet questions around his future and that of his star players have lingered nastily in recent months, even if he doesn’t admit it, and the Gunners are seven points away from fourth place with 10 games to play.

Following the draw with City, Wenger, predictably, is no closer to revealing if he will stay at Arsenal beyond this season.

“We are in a tough battle for the top four,” Wenger said. “I am professional and I have shown great loyalty in the past. I love this club, I don’t know how long I will be here, I am clear in my head, that’s the most important thing. The decision will be soon.”

The sooner the better.

Arsenal’s season is in severe danger of drifting away with an upcoming FA Cup semifinal against Manchester City on Apr. 23 perhaps holding the key to rescuing their campaign as another trophy (their third FA Cup in four years) would at least lift some of the gloom as their top four hopes hang in the balance.

Surely Wenger coming out and announcing his decision will galvanize the team and fans one way or another. Is Wenger worried about a negative reaction from fans and his players if he reveals his decision in the next few weeks?

Fans of Arsenal had planned protests before the game but they somewhat petered out with reports suggesting some fans fought against each other outside the stadium in the north London sunshine on a Sunday afternoon.

This is what it has come to.

Arsenal’s fans are split when it comes to Wenger staying on and are confused at what’s going on and why it is taking so long for a decision to be made.

That said, in the stadium fans stuck with their team when they fell behind to City twice and Wenger pointed out that the vast majority of supporters got behind their players despite brief lulls in the crowd which suggested they were, once again, sat there thinking about what comes next.

“Despite what happens on the fans front, I thought our fans were fantastic today in very difficult moments in the game,” Wenger said. “Our fans could have turned against us. I thought they were absolutely sensational.”

Arsenal’s recent form has been far from sensational with one win in their last six games which included a run of four defeats in five.

With so many questions unanswered and so much confusion about the future, a huge transition is coming at Arsenal with up to 10 first team players out of contract in the summer of 2018 and a massive rebuild needed. With talks about the future of Sanchez and Ozil put off until the summer, qualifying for the Champions League for a 21st season on the trot holds the key to everything.

Is Wenger capable of leading the Gunners, his Gunners, into a brave new era?

“I’m here for 20 years. I have shown one thing, complete loyalty to the club,” Wenger said. “I will always support this club and wish it well.”

Until the bitter end Wenger will be an Arsenal man. Whether he stays beyond this season to lead the team is still up in the air, like pretty much everything at Arsenal these days.

Cristiano Ronaldo announces birth of twin sons via surrogate

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Cristiano Ronaldo will not play in Portugal’s third-place match at the 2017 Confederations Cup this Sunday.

He has bigger things to sort out.

Ronaldo, 32, was released from Portugal’s squad late Wednesday after their defeat on penalty kicks to Chile in the Confed Cup semifinals in Russia.  The Real Madrid and Portugal superstar will now travel to visit his new twin sons, who were born via a surrogate earlier this month, with Ronaldo set to meet them for the first time after captaining Portugal in Russia over the past few weeks.

According to reports from Portuguese TV channel SIC, the surrogate mother was based on the west coast of the U.S. (I can already hear you guys asking ‘does that mean they’re eligible to play for the USMNT?’). Ronaldo is now the father of three children after already having a seven-year-old son, Cristiano Ronaldo Jr.

Reports also suggest that his 22-year-old girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez is five months pregnant, so soon he could be a father for the fourth time. He would then be able to field a five-a-side team of Ronaldo’s for indoor games…

Below is the post from Ronaldo confirming his departure from Portugal’s squad, which the national team also confirmed, as he is set to meet his new children for the first time.

“I was in the service of the national team, as always, body and soul, even though my two sons were born. Unfortunately, we have not been able to achieve the main sporting objective that we wanted, but I am sure we will continue to give joy to the Portuguese.

“The President of the Portuguese Football Federation and the national picker have today had an attitude that has touched me and I will not forget. I’m very happy to finally be with my children for the first time.”

Open Cup roundup: Poku lifts Miami; Red Bulls, Cincy win on PKs

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While MLS represents the majority of the remaining clubs in this year’s U.S. Open Cup, one side continues to defy the odds.

[ MORE: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson ]

Miami FC reached their first quarterfinal in club history after knocking off Atlanta United late on Wednesday, behind a goal and an assist from Kwadwo Poku. The victory for Miami sets up a date with FC Cincinnati — who pulled off an unbelievable shootout win against the Chicago Fire.

Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution both advanced on the night with wins over the Philadelphia Union and D.C. United, respectively. The Red Bulls and Revs will meet in the final eight as well.

Sporting KC kept its hope of hoisting a fourth U.S. Open Cup title alive on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo. The 2015 winners will take on FC Dallas — who defeated the Colorado Rapids on Tuesday night.

Here are all the results from tonight’s Open Cup action.

Houston Dynamo 0-2 Sporting KC
New England Revolution 2-1 D.C. United
Miami FC 3-2 Atlanta United
New York Red Bulls 1-1 (5-3 on PKs) Philadelphia Union
FC Cincinnati 0-0 (3-1 on PKs) Chicago Fire
San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 Seattle Sounders
LA Galaxy 2-0 Sacramento Republic

Report: City Football Group set to expand outreach with Girona deal

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City Football Group appears on the verge of adding to its global outreach, and it’s next destination looks to be in Spain.

[ MORE: Are Southampton’s days of selling behind the club? ]

The group of investors, which are known for controlling Premier League side Manchester City, are reportedly nearing a deal to purchase a partial stake in Spanish club Girona — which is set to make its La Liga debut in 2017/18.

CFG is said to be gaining a near “50 percent” stake in the club, with the rest of the club owned by Media Base, a company owned by Pep Guardiola‘s brother, Pere.

Over recent years, CFG has vastly expanded its ownership outreach and currently has a stake in five clubs around the world, with Girona set to be the sixth.

MLS side New York City FC, Australian A-League side Melbourne City FC, Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos and Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay are all part of the CFG enterprise, alongside Man City.

New York Red Bulls ink goalkeeper Luis Robles to new deal

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The “Iron Man” will keep up his amazing journey with the New York Red Bulls, after signing a new deal with the club on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder on verge of joining Los Angeles FC ]

Goalkeeper Luis Robles has extended his contract with the reigning Eastern Conference champions, as the American continues to raise his consecutive starts streak, which stands at 157.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed in the club’s release.

Robles joined the Red Bulls back in 2012 after playing in Germany, and the shot-stopper hasn’t missed a start ever since.