Getty Images

2018 World Cup team preview: Senegal

Leave a comment

Getting to know Senegal: Competing in just their second World Cup in history, Senegal will win plenty of fans for their fast, attacking play and have the potential to repeat their heroics from the 2002 World Cup.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

Senegal eased through qualifying in Africa after plenty of years of underperforming and this current crop of players have a wealth of experienced across Europe’s top leagues which they will need to use just to get out of a tough group. For more on Senegal’s history, click here.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 


What group are they in? Group H is a very even group where all four teams could easily finish top. Japan are perhaps the underdogs but Poland, Colombia and Senegal are all fancied to finish atop the table. Poland v Senegal in the opener should be a cracker.

Game schedule – Group H – Full 2018 World Cup schedule, here

Tuesday, June 19: Poland v Senegal, Moscow (Spartak) 11am, ET
Sunday, June 24: Japan v Senegal, Ekaterinburg 11am, ET
Thursday, June 28: Senegal v Colombia, Samara 10am, ET


Projected lineup (4-3-3) – Check out the 23-man squad list in full

–— N’Diaye —–

— Sabaly —— Koulibaly — Sane  —- Gassama — 

—- Kouyate — Gueye —- N’Diaye —–

— Mane  — Sow — Balde —


Star player: Sadio Mane – The Liverpool star is Senegal’s main hope this summer and Mane has the speed and finishing ability to be a hero at the World Cup. With 33 goals in 73 games for Liverpool over the past two seasons, he has delivered the goods and had a fine 2017/18 which went a little unnoticed given Mohamed Salah‘s heroics. The speedster isn’t always the most clinical and that’s been the case for Senegal. With plenty of expectation on his shoulders in his homeland, Mane has scored just 14 goals in 49 games for The Lions of Teranga.

Getty Images

Manager: Aliou Cisse – The captain during Senegal’s only other trip to the World Cup finals, Cisse has brought back that spirit of 2002 to this current squad. A no-nonsense character as a player and coach, Cisse has added steel to this talented Senegal side since he took charge in 2015 following a spell in charge of Senegal’s youth teams. Going forward they have so many attacking options but they’ve improved drastically in defense, conceding just three times in six games during the final round of World Cup qualifying in Africa.


Secret weapon: Ismaila Sarr – Just 20 years old, the Rennes winger scored against Croatia in a recent friendly and he could be a wildcard with his incredible speed. With five goals in 24 Ligue 1 games for Rennes in 2017/18, Sarr’s $22 million move was successful as they finished fifth in the league and qualified for the Europa League group stage. Think of a slightly more languid Mane and that is Sarr.


Prediction: They have the ability to go far and their squad is stacked with players from across the top-flight in England, Germany and France. Senegal may well spring the surprise of the tournament, just like they did in 2002, and another quarterfinal berth could be on the way if they can navigate a tricky group then stun Belgium or England in the last 16. If Mane delivers the goals they are solid enough to grind out results.

Arteta loves Arsenal effort: ‘The fight is now equal. The rest will take time’

Leave a comment

It’s not insane to call Arsenal’s latest triumph a bit of an “oops” win.

Arsenal beat Liverpool 2-1 on Wednesday at the Emirates while seemingly utilizing a second-choice lineup while preparing for Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal versus Manchester City.

Alexandre Lacazette and Reiss Nelson starred in a first-half sequence that gave Arteta a very nice win for his Arsenal managerial resume, coming back from Sadio Mane’s early goal in North London.

ARSENAL – LIVERPOOL FULL MATCH REPLAY

“I was worried after 1-0 how we would react,” Arteta said after the game. “We were able to pick one moment and believe again. … The gap between the two teams today is enormous. We can not improve it in two months, but the accountability, the fight is now equal and I am very proud of that. The rest will take some time.”

[ MORE: Premier League summer schedule ]

Arteta was clearly happy with the result despite Liverpool’s continued pressure on the Gunners’ goal (Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez had a wonderful day).

You could call it the perfect tonic for a North London Derby loss.

“In terms of energy and happiness in the dressing room before the semi-final, it’s a good medicine,” he said. “To beat this team you have to have moments in the game when you take your chances, defend and have a bit of luck.”

Liverpool ‘constantly dominant’ in latest post-title setback

Leave a comment

Virgil van Dijk doesn’t want to hear the easy excuses after rare mistakes from Alisson Becker and Van Dijk helped Arsenal beat Liverpool 2-1 to stop the Reds’ dreams of a 100-point season.

Liverpool was controlling the early stages at the Emirates Stadium and led on a Sadio Mane goal when Van Dijk flubbed a back pass to set Alexandre Lacazette on his way to an equalizer.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Moments later, Lacazette darted into the right flank to steal a blind Alisson pass. The Frenchman found Reiss Nelson for a 2-1 lead that went the distance.

“Until then there was nothing wrong, we played very well. So it’s easy to blame us having the title but until I made the mistake there was nothing wrong.”

It is an easy excuse but it also likely holds a lot of truth. Teams that clinch the PL title early have historically struggled down the stretch, aside from Pep Guardiola’s 2017-18 juggernaut that set the league record for points with 100.

Liverpool could’ve caught or passed that City team had it managed a draw or win on Wednesday. Klopp and Van Dijk would love to believe their team is above the historical flaws of other great teams but that’s just illogical.

Klopp puts it down to mistakes and an inability to finish any number of chances on a day Arsenal keeper made eight saves including an incredible palm stop in injury time.

“Twice, a massive lack of concentration, we took a break after 1-0, especially in the first half before the goal, we were just brilliant, we had 24-3 shots, that’s incredible but these two moments killed the game for us. … We were constantly dominant. It was a good game. Arsenal, they were there in two situations, I am not sure they forced them but they were there and they used them.”

Liverpool can now max out at 99 points if it beats Chelsea and Newcastle United to finish the season.

Watchalong live: Join us for Arsenal v. Liverpool

Leave a comment

Join us for a Watchalong event on YouTube for Arsenal – Liverpool on Wednesday (start time, 3:10pm ET on the NBC Sports YouTube channel).

 

Arsenal beat Liverpool 2-1 after making the most of two costly errors from Liverpool in the first half.

Click on the video above to join us for the Watchalong, as ProSoccerTalk’s lead writer and editor, Joe Prince-Wright, will answer your questions and watch the action with you as you have a beer (or three) and some snacks.

Hit the reminder button on the video above to make sure you don’t miss the Watchalong.

The idea is to get fans together with JPW and have a good time watching the game.

Feel free to ask for his instant analysis on the game between the newly-crowned Premier League champions and Mikel Arteta’s young side by posting comments in comments section.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

JPW will join you for the entire game, as he breaks down the live action in Arsenal – Liverpool and you have the chance to have your say on what Arteta and Jurgen Klopp should be doing in the game, plus dissect the tactics, which players are starring and more.

Basically, join us to watch the game (hence the snazzy ‘Watchalong’ name) and let’s all enjoy these juggernauts do battle with plenty of pride on the line as Arsenal try to put down a marker for next season.

[ PREVIEW: Arsenal – Liverpool: Everything you need to know ]

We hope you enjoy our Premier League Watchalong as two huge clubs collide at the Emirates Stadium. Click on the video or link above to get involved.

Arsenal stuns Liverpool to end 100-point dream

Leave a comment

Liverpool will not become the second Premier League team to post a 100-point season following a 2-1 loss to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.

Alexandre Lacazette had a goal and an assist as Arsenal capitalized on atypical errors from two of Liverpool’s brightest.

Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker gave away the ball deep in Liverpool territory after the Reds had opened up a 1-0 lead through Sadio Mane.

[ MORE: Premier League summer schedule ]

Liverpool now maxes out at 99 points if it beats Chelsea and Newcastle to complete its championship season.

The Gunners move onto 53 points, three back of sixth place and six back of the top four. Arsenal hosts Man City in an FA Cup semifinal on Saturday.

Liverpool can no longer meet Man City’s record of 100 points in a Premier League season, the Reds looking like the latest early clincher to lose their intensity.

ARSENAL – LIVERPOOL FULL MATCH REPLAY


Three things we learned

1. Intensity replicated is difficult: Jurgen Klopp bristled in a big way when reporters asked him about Liverpool’s mentality following a whooping at the hands of Man City days after winning the Premier League. It would be difficult for him to say there’s any other reason his Reds have failed to keep up their historic pace following the completion of their massive goals. There’s not too much wrong with that either, by the way, when you consider how much was poured into chasing City last year and roaring through this season. And that’s before the effects of a global pandemic.

Liverpool won the league with seven matches to play. Here’s how their finish resembles the four teams to share the previous record of clinching with five to go.

Everton 1984-85: 2W-3L
Man Utd 1907-08: 1W-2L-2D
Man Utd 2000-01: 1W-1D-3L
Man City 2017-18: 4W-1D
Liverpool 2019-20: 2W-1D-2L (two matches remaining)

2. Mikel’s glorious ‘oops’ win: Arsenal worked really hard to get its points and Mikel Arteta will rightly hang his hat on a win over the champions, but he’ll also have a chuckle considering he was clearly choosing his lineup to rest up for the weekend’s FA Cup semifinal against old pals Man City. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang came off the bench, where Dani Ceballos and Hector Bellerin also started the day. Arsenal is deep enough to challenge anyone on a given day

3. Defense matters: For all the hope Arsenal’s engendered with the offensive fireworks of Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe, Bukayo Saka, and the like, what Arteta’s done with his defensive shape and organization has been key to providing optimism regarding his project. The marking on Liverpool’s opener wasn’t great but this is Liverpool nonetheless and chances are going to come their way. The Leicester City draw and Spurs loss following what felt like a momentous win over Wolves asked questions of Arteta. Wednesday was a fine response.

Man of the Match

Lacazette’s goal and an assist make him an easy mention, but Martinez’s eight-save day was a good one. He had an early mistake but the 27-year-old Argentine made four of his stops from inside the box. Not bad.


Arsenal – Liverpool recap

The Reds got on the board after a lengthy feeling out period that saw the visitors in relative control when Mane belted home from close range in the 20th.

Andrew Robertson cut back for the Senegalese scorer as Arsenal fell asleep at the back.

A rare error from Van Dijk gave the lead right back. Hassled by Reiss Nelson, the Dutchman made a poor pass back to Alisson Becker that Lacazette stole to make it 1-1.

The Reds then allowed a second goal when Nelson lashed past Alisson from close range after Lacazette stole the keeper’s goofy clearing attempt. It’s Nelson’s first PL goal.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Liverpool looked ready to tie the game in the 54th when Trent Alexander-Arnold slid the ball to Mohamed Salah outside the six.

The Egyptian used quick feet to move around David Luiz and shoot but Martinez poked it over the bar.

Substitute Takumi Minamino saw a 63rd minute shot deflect off David Luiz and wide of Martinez’s far post.

Salah hit a free but tame header to Martinez off a Mane cross in the 70th minute.

Arsenal did an effective job of keeping the Reds outside the danger areas in fighting for the final whistle, which came after one lost incredible stop from Martinez.