Getty Images.

2017 Confederations Cup: Group B preview

Leave a comment

We are just a few days away from the start of the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia, so it’s time to take a look at the four teams competing in Group B.

[ STREAM LIVE: 2017 Confederations Cup

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the tournament kicking off.

[ MORE: Full schedule, stadiums, streams 


Group B

Cameroon
How they qualified: By winning the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, beating Egypt 2-1 in the final.
FIFA ranking: 32
Star player: Vincent Aboubakar – Besiktas striker scored the winner in the AFCON final and has 16 goals in 56 games. Bags of pace and experience.
One to watch: Fabrice Ondoa – Goalkeeper is just 21 years old but already has 31 caps to his name. A real star for the future.
Manager: Hugo Broos – Experienced Belgian manager who led the Indomitable Lions to success at AFCON 2017.
Chance of winning: 30% – They will do well to get out of this group but if they do they can keep things tight and cause a few upsets. Darkhorse.

Chile
How they qualified: Winning 2015 Copa American on home soil by beating Argentina on penalty kicks in Santiago. Adding the Copa America Centenario for good measure  in 2016 too.
FIFA ranking: 4
Star player: Alexis Sanchez – One of the top forwards in the world right now, scored 24 goals and added 10 assists in the PL for Arsenal. A wanted man who will put on a show to drive up his wages and transfer fee. Just watch.
One to watch: Not exactly an up and coming star, but Marcelo Diaz is so often overlooked while Sanchez, Vidal, Bravo and Medel steal the limelight. Diaz holds everything together.
Manager: Juan Antonio Pizzi – Former Spanish international has had ups and downs but his team are dynamic and experienced. If they qualify for the World Cup next summer (slight qualifying struggles continue) they may be among the favorites.
Chance of winning: 60% – Clear favorites for this tournament after Germany sent a young, inexperienced squad.

Australia
How they qualified: Winning the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, beating South Korea 2-1 in extra time in 2015.
FIFA ranking: 48
Star player: Tim Cahill – Okay, he’s 37 years old but Cahill still comes up with the goods when the Socceroos need him. 48 goals in 96 games.
One to watch: Aaron Mooy – An absolute beast in Huddersfield’s promotion push. Man City man will likely have plenty of loan offers in the PL this summer. Energetic and creative midfielder.
Manager: Angelos Postecoglou – In charge of Australia for almost four years, Postecoglou has built a solid core which has taken the AFC by storm.
Chance of winning: 10% – Will struggle to progress from the group.

Germany
How they qualified: By winning the 2014 World Cup.
FIFA ranking: 3
Star player: Julian Draxler – Named captain of this young German squad, the PSG attacker will be the go-to guy for Die Mannschaft.
One to watch: Sandro Wagner – Three goals in two games for Germany say it all. Wagner is looking to continue his fine season after helping Hoffenheim finish fourth in the Bundesliga.
Manager: Joachim Low – A really intriguing squad selection from Low who has left Ozil, Kroos, Muller, Neuer, Hummels, Boateng and many more experienced players at home. Time to see if his next crop of youngster have what it takes.
Chance of winning: 50% – Will progress from the group and this young German team will gain valuable experience from a big clash with Portugal or Mexico in the semifinals.


Game schedule
June 18: Cameroon vs. Chile – 2 p.m. ET – Moscow
June 19: Australia vs. Germany – 11 a.m. ET – Sochi
June 22: Cameroon vs. Australia – 11 a.m. ET – Saint Petersburg
June 22: Germany vs. Chile – 2 p.m. ET – Kazan
June 25: Chile vs. Australia – 11 a.m. ET – Moscow
June 25: Germany vs. Cameroon – 11 a.m. ET – Sochi


PL AT HALF: Chelsea battering West Brom; Liverpool, Man City up

Leave a comment

Goals? Where we’re going there are loads of goals.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ]

West Bromwich Albion 0-3 Chelsea

Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard assisted each other to give Chelsea a 2-0 lead, and Marcos Alonso‘s too back post goal off a Cesc Fabregas free kick has the boo birds out at the Hawthorns.

Leicester City 0-1 Manchester City

Claude Puel would’ve been pleased with the Foxes’ muster against the Premier League leaders, who lost John Stones to an apparent hamstring injury. But the 45th minute saw a terrific team goal from Man City, as Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling moved the ball through traffic for David Silva, who slid across for Gabriel Jesus and 1-0.

Burnley 2-0 Swansea City

Jack Cork scored against his old side to complete a week which saw him earn his first England cap. Ashley Barnes has a goal and an assist as the Clarets are cruising at Turf Moor.

Crystal Palace 2-2 Everton

James McArthur and Wilfried Zaha gave Palace leads. Everton sandwiched a Leighton Baines penalty goal in between the Eagles’ markers thanks to an Oumar Niasse dive, then Niasse scored before half to level the score line.

Liverpool 2-0 Southampton

Mohamed Salah has two, including a wonderful 31st minute goal from distance to put the Reds in front of Saints at Anfield.

Bournemouth 2-0 Huddersfield Town

Callum Wilson has a pair as the Cherries continue their up turn in form.

Wenger believes Ozil, Sanchez will stay at Arsenal

Leave a comment

LONDON — Fresh from Arsenal’s first Premier League victory over North London rivals Tottenham since 2014, there was a spring in Arsene Wenger‘s step as he strode into his post-match press conference.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Arsenal’s boss saw his attack-minded lineup dominate Tottenham at home  as the Gunners secured an 11th-straight home win and sixth-straight of the 2017-18 season to breath new life into their season.

With a dangerous three-pronged attack of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette destroying Spurs’ usually rock-solid defense on numerous occasion, Arsenal gave a taste of what can be achieved this season.

Consistency is key for Arsenal but keeping Sanchez and Ozil is more important. Their futures at Arsenal remain uncertain with the duo free to talk to non-English teams in  January about a free transfer on July 1, with both likely to see what other clubs can offer them outside of the Premier League.

Speaking to the media afterwards, Wenger reaffirmed his belief that Sanchez and Ozil want to stay at Arsenal beyond the end of their contracts next summer despite the situation being totally out of his hands.

“The quality of the contract of the contract has to be good and enough for them as well, you know. I am convinced they love the club, they love the team but all the rest will be decided, when? I don’t really know,” Wenger said. “I’m not alone to master that. [Quality of the contract] is part of it. The whole thing has to be right, they have to be happy. I believe they love the club and they want to stay but there are other top clubs out there who offer good contracts as well.”

So, Wenger is bracing himself for Sanchez and Ozil to be offered big contracts from European giants as soon as Jan. 1 rolls around, then a barrage of transfer offers from other PL giants as they believe the duo will be available in cut-price deals. At this point, the Gunners must keep hold of the duo until the end of the season, even if it means they leave on a free.

With Sanchez scoring a cheeky goal, racing free on numerous occasions and forcing Hugo Lloris into numerous saves, his signature on a new deal is essential for Arsenal to haul themselves back into the top four on a consistent basis.

His desire and hunger was evident and he even had time to joke around in the second half, diving on his stomach to the delight of the home fans as he tried to slide towards a loose ball in the pouring rain in north London.

You can never question the Chilean’s desire but his displays have become more erratic over the past 12 months with this contract saga hanging over his head. Sanchez’s goal against Spurs was his first in 12 games against the so-called “big six” in the Premier League.

Ozil’s display yielded an assist and numerous eye-catching balls as Lacazette’s runs allowed Arsenal’s two contract rebels to have plenty of space in front of Spurs’ back three.

Wenger pointed to the fact that he has never once questioned their commitment and although Ozil and Sanchez’s futures remain uncertain, he believes they will continue to put their bodies on the line for the Arsenal cause.

“I know them well and I know when it is their turn to go on the football pitch they want to win a football game. They’ve shown their commitment again today. I’ve never questioned their commitment,” Wenger said. “They can have bad games but the problem is, but the problem is that when a player goes to the end of a contract and has a bad game everybody says ‘of course, because he goes.’ Their interest is to play anyway.”

Man City: John Stones limps off with leg injury

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

One Man City center back took a yellow card in the third minute, while another is in even more trouble on Saturday at King Power Stadium.

John Stones pulled up with an apparent hamstring injury in the 28th minute of Man City’s visit to Leicester City.

[ MORE: Arsenal 2-0 Spurs | 3 things ]

Running stride for stride for Demarai Gray, Stones grabbed at his upper left leg and crumpled to the pitch.

Eliaquim Mangala replaced the improving English big back, and City will hope Stones’ absence isn’t as long as some hamstring ailments.

Defiant Pochettino: “Football was fantastic” in loss

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mauricio Pochettino is defiant following Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-0 loss at Arsenal in the North London Derby on Saturday.

The Spurs manager thinks his team was pretty good in the loss, and it’s true that both Petr Cech and Shkrodan Mustafi intervened critically for the victors.

[ MORE: Recap | 3 things ]

But overall Arsenal was better on the day, which makes Pochettino’s almost buoyant post-match interview a bit awkward.

“It was an even game in terms of shooting, on target, possession,” Pochettino said.

“I’m disappointed for the rest of my team. You saw what happened. I’m disappointed because the small details went against us. … It’s true that they scored and we didn’t but I’m very proud cause the football was fantastic.”

We won’t go as far as to say we watched different games — Pochettino knows a bit more about the game than us — but that’s quite a spin we doubt his players will buy. Back to work for Spurs with a visit to Dortmund before West Brom visits next weekend.