Arteta’s top priorities as Arsenal’s new manager

Leave a comment

Mikel Arteta has been named as Arsenal’s new head coach as the former Gunners skipper returns to the club after over three years as Pep Guardiola‘s assistant at Manchester City.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

His arrival will bring hope that Arsenal can rediscover their DNA and that his connection with the players (many of whom were his former teammates) is so strong that they will want to go the extra mile for the cause.

Arteta, 37, has a huge job on his hands in his first head coaching position but the Spaniard oozed class on and off the pitch during his playing days and that has translated to his coaching career under Guardiola, and was clear in his opening press conference as Arsenal’s new boss.

Below is a look at the top five priorities for Arteta as he kicks off his managerial career at his beloved Arsenal.

1. Keep their attacking stars happy

There are reports that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette want out, while Nicolas Pepe has hardly settled in well at Arsenal. The Gunners have very few ‘world class’ talents in their squad right now and they need to keep this attacking trio at the Emirates Stadium and, more importantly, happy, if they’re going to rise again under Arteta.

2. Get the best out of Mesut Ozil

This is a simple one. Mesut Ozil is a very good soccer player. He needs to get back to his best. He needs someone who believes in him. Arteta is that somebody, and Ozil’s reaction to his appointment suggests he is delighted.

The German playmaker has had a rough few years. Vilified in Germany after their early exit from the 2018 World Cup, left out by Unai Emery on many occasions and off the pitch his issues have been well-documented. But he is still a supreme talent and capable of unlocking any defense in the world. We’ve seen it time and time again.

“He is a massive player for this football club. I want to understand how the players are feeling and what they need. You have to understand them,” Arteta said. “I worked with him and I know when he ticks what he can bring to the team. It is my job to get the best out of him.”

3. Add accountability defensively

It is all well and good having Ozil, Aubameyang and Lacazette purring in attack but Arsenal need balance. Defensively (Bernd Leno aside) they’ve been shambolic for some time and restoring some accountability and grit at the back is going to be key. Arteta was a flamboyant player on the ball but his work rate off it and ability to dig deep and win the ball back was often overlooked. He drove Everton on to their most successful period in decades and injuries aside he was a key player for Arsenal as they challenged for trophies year in, year out in his five seasons at the club. Defensively they need to either bring in new players or somehow totally change the mindset of the ones they currently have. They have to defend first and worry about the rest later. The responsibility Arteta wants at Arsenal must be shown in defense.

4. Get the fans back on side, restore DNA

A way to do this is play attractive, possession-based football. Arteta knows how to do that, both as a player and a coach. His arrival marks a return to Arsenal’s DNA and the disciple of Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola can deliver that fluid brand of play we all associate with the Gunners. Unai Emery tried to usher in a high-pressing, more dynamic style and it didn’t work with a squad largely assembled by Wenger. Arteta could actually have plenty of success right off the bat if he asks his players to keep the ball and entertain the fans with their play. He needs the fans on their side, and fast, to save this season and build for 2020-21 and beyond.

5. Win a trophy

The FA Cup, Europa League, whatever it is, win it as quickly as possible. Fans want success and of course they want to win the Premier League and Champions League, but they know that is a long way away from happening. In the meantime it doesn’t hurt to win silverware and as Arteta said in his first words as Arsenal’s manager, he needs to get them winning trophies ASAP.

“The ambition of this club is clear – you have to be in Europe and fight for trophies. The rest is not good enough,” Arteta said.

It doesn’t matter what trophy it is, Arsenal need some success after two years without silverware. Wenger was mocked for winning the FA Cup in his final few years in charge, but Arsenal’s fans would love that right now. Winning trophies builds positive vibes. Simple.

Fernandes scores first goal, says Ronaldo backed Manchester United move

Bruno Fernandes Ronaldo
Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images)
Leave a comment

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

Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images
Leave a comment

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
Photo by Leila Coker/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Leave a comment

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:


Manchester United



Norwich City

Three Serie A matches suspended due to virus deaths in Italy

Photo by Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images
1 Comment

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: and

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: