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Emery: Xhaka ‘devastated and sad’ to be booed by Arsenal fans

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Unai Emery says that Granit Xhaka is “devastated and sad” to have been booed off the Emirates Stadium field by his own fans during the Gunners’ 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace on Sunday, and admitted the Arsenal captain’s title could be stripped after Xhaka swore at the crowd and removed his shirt as he was being substituted.

[ MORE: Cryptic Zlatan Ibrahimovic hints at return to Spain ]

The fans loudly booed Xhaka, who was only named captain last month, following another subpar performance from the Swiss international, prompting him to incite further hostilities from the crowd. The fans had just seen Arsenal throw away a 2-0 lead they held after just nine minutes.

Speaking ahead of his side’s League Cup round of 16 clash with Premier League leaders on Wednesday, Emery was asked about the ongoing situation and offered the following assessment, including his own advice to Xhaka that he should apologize to the fans for his reaction — quotes from the Guardian:

“He is now devastated — devastated and sad. We spoke yesterday, and also on Sunday night. This morning he trained as normal with the group but he is devastated and sad about the situation.

“His commitment with the club is a great commitment every time. He wants to help. His behavior was perfect in training, with the group and with the club. He knows he was wrong. He was wrong and he feels it inside very deeply. But that is normal as a human. You need, and every player needs, the supporters’ support.”

…

“What is the response we are seeing? It’s that he is devastated and very down. First is to recover him, his feelings. We need our family, our friends, our supporters to support us, like us, love us. He is not feeling that with the supporters. But we are speaking with him first to be calm and be close with his family, and be close with us because we are your family too.”

…

“I think when we make individual mistakes we need to make apologies for the circumstances. I prefer to do that. We suggest to him to do it.”

Xhaka is expected to be fined by the club, though Emery also said, “I think we can [later] speak about [a fine.] We are in the first step after his mistake. Now is to recover him as a person.” As for whether or not the captaincy will be taken away from Xhaka, the squad’s chosen leader, and bestowed upon someone else, Emery says that decision will be handled “step by step” going forward.

[ VIDEO: Every touch from Christian Pulisic v. Burnley ]

The 27-year-old midfielder won’t be part of the Arsenal squad that visits Anfield on Wednesday, but Emery says that was always the plan, to rotate the squad with the League Cup considered a secondary competition.

Fernandes scores first goal, says Ronaldo backed Manchester United move

Bruno Fernandes Ronaldo
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It’s probably not a surprise that a young Portuguese player would fancy Manchester United given the heroics of Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford early his career.

Bruno Fernandes admits that those images danced through his head well before he signed with the Red Devils in January.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

It’s also not a shock that United would turn to their former player for a take on the playmaker before buying him from Sporting Lisbon.

Fernandes says he’s grateful that CR7 endorsed BF18. From Sky Sports:

“I know some people asked Cristiano what he thought of me and what I was like as a player and a person,” Fernandes said. “I know he spoke highly of me and gave me a good reference, so I sent him a message after to thank him for his kind words.”

Fernandes has 19 caps and two goals for Portugal, while Ronaldo has a few more with 164 and 99.

He now has a goal and an assist in four appearances for United. Ronaldo finished with 118 goals and 69 assists in 292 appearances for the Red Devils.

Here’s the finish:

Eden Hazard suffers fracture ahead of Man City in UCL, El Clasico

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Eden Hazard is set to miss the Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League first leg against Man City with a broken fibula.

Hazard had only returned to the lineup for two matches following a three-month absence with an ankle injury.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The 29-year-old has made just 15 appearances for Real since arriving in a big-money move from Chelsea, scoring once with five assists.

He has never appeared in less than 30 league matches over the course of his career, five times missing one or zero matches.

Of course, all of his absences show that Real is very comfortable playing and winning without Hazard. Zinedine Zidane’s men lost Sunday to drop behind Barcelona in La Liga, but that was just its second loss of the league season.

Real will be taxed in depth like its rivals, with Wednesday’s visit from Man City followed by an El Clasico at the Bernabeu on March 1. Barcelona hosts Napoli on Tuesday.

Whether you like the playmaker or despise him, there must be some sense of sympathy for his latest ailments (even if Man City and Barca fans will likely offer a Jerry Seinfeld-esque, “That’s a shame”).

Watch Live: Manchester United, Wolves host bottom three battlers

Manchester United Watford live stream link
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A pair of Premier League basement dwellers face stiff tests in their bids to win another season in the top flight.

Manchester United hosts Watford on NBCSN while Wolves welcome Norwich City on CNBC as both home sides aim to improve the health of their top four hopes in 9 a.m. ET kickoffs.

[ WATCH: Man Utd-Watford | Wolves-Norwich ]

Lineups notes from both matches:

LINEUPS

Manchester United

Watford


Wolves

Norwich City

Three Serie A matches suspended due to virus deaths in Italy

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ROME (AP) Three Serie A soccer matches scheduled for Sunday in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto were suspended late Saturday after the deaths of two people infected with the virus from China.

On orders from the Italian government, the games called off were: Inter Milan vs. Sampdoria, Atalanta vs. Sassuolo and Hellas Verona vs. Cagliari.

Three other matches in Genoa, Turin and Rome on Sunday are going ahead as scheduled.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

A dozen towns in northern Italy effectively went into lockdown on Saturday after the deaths of two people infected with the coronavirus from China, and a growing cluster of cases with no direct links to the origin of the outbreak abroad.

“The government is working on urgent measures to decisively confront and contain the cases of coronavirus contagion,” read a letter from Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora to Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago shortly before midnight local time on Saturday. “Those measures also include the sports world in order to prevent risks and to better take care of the health of those involved in the events and competition.

“Following measures taken by the cabinet for protective reasons and maximum precaution, on orders of the government I’m asking you to suspend all sports events of every level and discipline planned for the Lombardy and Veneto regions on Sunday.”

The secondary contagions prompted local authorities in the Lombardy and Veneto regions to close schools, businesses and restaurants and to cancel sporting events and Masses.

The mayor of Milan, Italy’s business capital and the regional capital of Lombardy, shuttered public offices.

A 78-year-old man infected with the virus died in Veneto. A postmortem on a 77-year-old woman in Lombardy came back positive, though it wasn’t clear if illness from the virus caused her death.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf