Arsene Wenger laughs off contract renewal date

1 Comment

Arsene Wenger is an incredibly talented manager.

He may not be the best timekeeper though…

[ LIVE: Stream every PL game live

Ahead of Arsenal’s huge clash against Manchester United on Sunday (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) at the Emirate Stadium, Wenger was asked about his comments back in Janaury when he said he’d have an answer on if he’ll sign a new contract by March or April.

Wenger had the following to say about his shoddy timekeeping…

“Now we are in May. That means I was wrong,” Wenger laughed.

Fans of Arsenal aren’t laughing though. With the Gunners six points off the top four with a game in hand, Wenger’s men know they must simply win all of their final five games in the Premier League to have any chance whatsoever of finishing in the top four.

The fact that Wenger has never beaten Man United manager Jose Mourinho in the PL isn’t ideal but after their previous differences on the sidelines and in prss conferences, Wenger is willing to put his differences with the Portuguese aside.

“I’m open always in life for everything…for peace,” Wenger smiled. “What is important when you are a competitor is that you give absolutely everything to win the next game.”

In a busy presser, Wenger also addressed the reports that playmaker Mesut Ozil kicked and damaged a door following Arsenal’s 2-0 North London derby defeat at Tottenham on Sunday after he was told he had to complete a drugs test.

“I’m sorry that he kicked the door. I don’t think his frustration was towards the drugs test. His frustration was towards the fact that we lost the game,” Wenger said. “I didn’t speak about it with him because I only heard about it today.”

Wenger confirmed that he will speak with Ozil to get his version of events and was also asked about the possibility of Mourinho playing a weakened side on Sunday as United prioritize their UEFA Europa League semifinal clash with Celta Vigo.

“We focus on our performance. I don’t know what Manchester United will do. We know anyway they have a massive squad with quality players. Only a top-level performance will get us the win we want. The only advantage we can give ourselves is to focus on ourselves and not speculate on any weakness of Manchester United. No matter who plays they will have a strong team out.”

If Arsenal lose on Sunday then their top four hopes are all but over and the focus will switch to the FA Cup final against Chelsea on May 27 and, once again, to the decision on Wenger’s future by the Frenchman and the board.

So much rests on Wenger’s decision on whether or not to extend his time in charge of Gunners, not to mention the future of key players such as Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, that it boggles my mind that no decision was made two or three months ago.

When he finally announces his decision, we’d all love to know exactly why it took him so long.

Multiple reports: Watford set to hire Gracia as manager

Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Watford looks set to appoint Javi Gracia to its managerial position, hours after firing Marco Silva and blaming Everton for the manager.

[ MORE: Watford fires Silva, blames Everton ]

Gracia led Malaga to eighth and ninth place finishes in La Liga between 2014-16 before spending last season at Rubin Kazan.

Gracia, 47, has led promotion campaigns in Spain and has plenty of experience with perceived smaller clubs battling the drop zone.

Watford will hope the Hornets don’t reach that point, still five points clear of the drop after flirting with the Top Seven for the first quarter of the Premier League season.

Latest: Sunday medicals for Mkhitaryan, Sanchez

Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has agreed to join Arsenal from Manchester United, clearing the path for Alexis Sanchez to join the Old Trafford set.

[ MORE: 2 Robbies on the deal ]

The BBC is reporting that both players will undergo medicals at their proposed new clubs on Sunday ahead of a straight swap deal.

Sanchez, 29, has scored 80 goals for Arsenal since arriving before the 2014-15 campaign, including 30 last season.

Mkhitaryan turns 30 this summer, and has struggled at Manchester United since posting five assists in his first three matches of the season.

[ MORE: Watford sacks Silva ]

He was, however, a combination of Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in his final season at Borussia Dortmund, scoring 23 goals with 32 assists.

This could be win-win, as Mkhitaryan at his best is a like-for-like replacement for Mesut Ozil should the German leave in the summer and Sanchez is a more proven PL commodity (though his attitude should be a major question for the United room).

Watford fires Silva, blames Everton

1 Comment

Watford has fired Marco Silva as manager, and it’s blaming Everton.

The Hornets are 1W-2D-8L in their last 11 Premier League matches after Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Leicester City, and have won just three in the league since the Toffees sacked Ronald Koeman on Oct. 23.

[ REPORT: Stoke to add hometown Harrison from NYCFC ]

Watford sat fifth in the table at that point, and has dropped to 10th. That’s five points clear of the drop zone and eight points back of eighth.

Silva was chased hard by Everton, and Watford rejected all advances for the Portuguese boss. The Toffees ended up hiring Sam Allardyce in a move which has also gone south.

Here’s the guts of Watford’s released statement:

The Club is convinced the appointment of Silva was the right one and had it not been for the unwarranted approach by a Premier League rival for his services we would have continued to prosper under his leadership.

The catalyst for this decision is that unwarranted approach, something which the Board believes has seen a significant deterioration in both focus and results to the point where the long-term future of Watford FC has been jeopardised.

Watford will appoint its ninth manager since the start of the 2012-13 season. It faces Southampton in the FA Cup on Saturday before a midweek league visit to fellow relegation struggler Stoke City on Jan. 31.

Silva is the eighth manager fired since the beginning of the Premier League season, joining Frank De Boer, Craig Shakespeare, Ronald Koeman, Slaven Bilic, Tony Pulis, Paul Clement, and Mark Hughes.

Liga MX wrap: Pachuca earns first win, Leon stays unbeaten

Twitter/@PortalDxT
Leave a comment

All of Saturday’s action from around Mexico’s top flight…

Pachuca 3-1 Lobos BUAP

A strong first-half push from the hosts was all Pachuca needed on Saturday night to earn their first victory of the 2018 Clausura season. Angel Sagal brought the home side in front after just 10 minutes off of a near-post header, before Pachuca’s lead soon doubled 14 minutes later from the penalty spot when strike Franco Jara converted on the dead-ball attempt.

Just prior to halftime, Pachuca was out to a 3-0 advantage when 20-year-old outside back Erick Aguirre tallied his first goal for the club.

Last-place side Lobos got on the board three minutes into the second stanza via a finish from Heriberto Olvera, however, it wasn’t enough to provide anything more than a consolation for the visiting side.

Necaxa 1-3 Chivas Guadalajara

Mexican international Alan Pulido made it a dream start for the visitors from Guadalajara at the Estadio Victoria, however, that lead was cancelled out in first-half stoppage time after Carlos Gonzalez leveled the match up at 1-1.

The difference proved to be with 25 minutes left to play, when a goalkeeping error by Marcelo Barovero allowed Chivas to regain possession inside the Necaxa penalty area, before Ronaldo Cisneros tapped home the winner.

Then, a third goal came just prior to the end of regulation when Edwin Hernandez killed the game off for Matias Almeyda’s men, who also earned their first victory of the Clausura season.

Rest of Saturday’s Liga MX action

Cruz Azul 0-0 Club Leon
Queretaro 0-0 Tigres UANL
Monterrey 0-0 Club Tijuana

Sunday’s matches

UNAM vs. Club America — 1 p.m. ET
Santos Laguna vs. Morelia — 7 p.m. ET