Arsenal plan guard of honor for Manchester United – but how will they receive Robin van Persie?

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When Manchester United heads to the Emirates for Sunday’s match-up with Arsenal, the Premier League champions will receive a guard of honor from Arsene Wenger’s men.

There had been murmurings that some Arsenal supporters could be inclined to turn their backs in protest when the teams emerge from the tunnel. Wenger, however, insists the club will follow tradition. “When you work somewhere abroad, you have to respect the culture of the country. That is part of the tradition of English football and I want that to be respected,” Wenger said.

While Wenger’s influence on the guard of honor will likely be respected by the Arsenal faithful (after all, United provided the same honor to the Gunners at Old Trafford in 2002), the reception that Robin van Persie will receive is another issue entirely. The Dutchman could be in line for a tough day at the Emirates, where many supporters are still reeling from the striker’s decision to leave the club last summer in favor of a £24m move to Old Trafford.

Although he used standoffish, robotic language when referring to van Persie, Wenger nevertheless urged supporters to respect the former Arsenal man. “We respect Robin van Persie like every other player who has left us and came back to the Emirates,” said Wenger. “I want the player to be respected like everybody else. I always said that for every single player who left, even some of them in much more controversy than Robin van Persie.”

Sir Alex Ferguson, on the other hand, is taking a very Fergie-esque look at the situation. “I don’t bother about it, and I don’t think Robin should bother about it either,” said Ferguson. “For Arsenal to have one of their players go to their biggest rivals of the last 20 years doesn’t sit well with their fans, nor Arsene (Wenger) for that matter.

“But it does happen. You just have to move on.”

When it comes to the actual footballing aspect of Sunday’s game, ‘move on’ is exactly what the Gunners must do if they are to prevail in their quest for a Top 4 finish. With United having already secured the Premier League title, many believe Arsenal has hit the lottery as Ferguson may be inclined to name a reduced lineup. But Wenger insists that “no matter in what state Man United will be, we will need a great performance to beat them and that’s what we want to focus on.”

With 4th place Chelsea one point behind and 5th place Tottenham two points back – both with a game in hand – a victory on Sunday is crucial for Arsenal’s Champions League aspirations.

 

World Cup’s only black coach says there should be more

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MOSCOW (AP) — The only black coach at this year’s World Cup says there is a need for more in soccer.

“In European countries, in major clubs, you see lots of African players. Now we need African coaches for our continent to go ahead,” Senegal’s Aliou Cisse said through a translator on Monday, a day ahead of his nation’s World Cup opener against Poland.

[ MORE: Where to watch Tuesday’s games, feat. Colombia and Egypt ]

The percentage of black players at this year’s tournament and with clubs in the world’s top leagues is far higher.

Cisse was captain of Senegal when it reached the 2002 quarterfinals in the nation’s only previous World Cup appearance.

“I am the only black coach in this World Cup. That is true,” Cisse said. “But really these are debates that disturb me. I think that football is a universal sport and that the color of your skin is of very little importance.”

[ MORE: Harry Kane “buzzing” after two goals | Southgate encouraged ]

FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cisse cited Florent Ibenge, the coach of Congo’s national team, as a sign of progress.

“I think we have a new generation that is working, that is doing its utmost, and beyond being good players with a past of professional footballers,” Cisse said. “We are very good in our tactics, and we have the right to be part of the top international coaches.”

Africa’s best performance at the World Cup has been to reach the quarterfinals, accomplished by Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

“I have the certainty that one day an African team, an African country, will win the World Cup,” Cisse said. “It’s a bit more complicated in our countries. We have realities that are not there in other continents, but I think that the African continent is full of qualities. We are on the way, and I’m sure that Senegal, Nigeria or other African countries will be able win, just like Brazil, Germany or other European countries.”

A lack of minority managers also has been documented at the club level. The Sports People’s Think Tank said in November there were just three minority managers among the 92 English professional clubs as of Sept. 1.

World Cup: Saudi team safe after plane caught fire mid-flight

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The Saudi Arabian national team arrived alive and well in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, on Monday after a terrifying incident that saw their plane catch fire in the air.

[ MORE: Where to watch Tuesday’s games, feat. Colombia and Egypt ]

The blaze was caused by “a technical failure in one of the airplane engines,” which the airline, Rossiya, claims was caused by a bird flying into the engine. Each of the planes engines were reportedly in operation upon landing at its final destination.

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation posted a message on Twitter later on Monday, saying they “would like to reassure everyone that all the Saudi national team players are safe, after a technical failure in one of the airplane engines that has just landed in Rostov-on-Don airport, and now they’re heading to their residence safely.”

The Green Falcons will face Uruguay in Rostov, hoping to rebound from their tournament-opening 5-0 loss to Russia on Thursday, in each side’s second game of Group A action on Wednesday (11 a.m. ET).

Seismologists clarify Mexico fans didn’t cause earthquake

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s National Seismological Service says there was seismic activity around the country’s capital Sunday, but it wasn’t linked to soccer fans celebrating their country’s game-winning goal vs. Germany at the World Cup.

[ MORE: Where to watch Tuesday’s games, feat. Colombia and Egypt ]

The service says in a report that there were two small earthquakes at 10:24 a.m. and 12:01 p.m. The goal came around 11:35 a.m. local time.

A geological institute reported Sunday that seismic detectors had registered a false earthquake that may have been generated by “massive jumps” by fans.

[ MORE: Harry Kane “buzzing” after two goals | Southgate encouraged ]

Mexico’s Seismological Service explained Monday that the city’s normal bustle of traffic and other movement causes vibrations that are detected by sensitive instruments.

It says those vibrations notably quieted during the match as people gathered in front of TVs to watch, and rose after the goal.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 6 — Colombia vs. Japan; Salah’s debut?

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Day 6 of the 2018 World Cup is up next, on Tuesday — and would you believe it? — there’s another three games on the schedule. This whole “back-to-back-to-back games of soccer” thing isn’t so bad.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Up first, it’s the 2018 debut of Colombia, winners of tens hundreds of millions of hearts in 2014, as they take on Japan. In the day’s other Group H fixture, it’ll be Robert Lewandowski and Poland facing Sadio Mane and Senegal. Star power aplenty.

Then, we swing things back around to Group A, where the hosts Russia will look to continue their hot start against Egypt with Mohamed Salah expected to make his World Cup debut.

Below is Tuesday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Tuesday, June 19

Group H
Colombia vs. Japan: Saransk, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Poland vs. Senegal: Moscow, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group A
Russia vs. Egypt: St. Petersburg, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE