Jeff Reine-Adelaide

Getty Images

Mbappé enjoys turning 21 with 2 goals as PSG routs Amiens

Leave a comment

PARIS — Kylian Mbappe celebrated turning 21 with a silvery-looking haircut and two more clinical finishes as league leader Paris Saint-Germain beat struggling Amiens 4-1 on Saturday.

It was a familiar sight as the lightning-fast France star with his new dyed hair – after his birthday on Friday – latched onto a long pass from Neymar and adroitly clipped the ball over the advancing goalkeeper.

Mbappe has been involved in 15 goals in his last 12 league games – 11 goals and four assists – and his partnership with Brazil star Neymar continues to flourish.

Neymar danced in front of the home fans after tapping home from close range early into the second half. Mauro Icardi’s effort was blocked and the loose ball rolled kindly across to Neymar.

Angel Di Maria then set up Mbappe with a clever reverse pass down the right, with Mbappe drilling a low shot into the corner in the 65th.

However rampant in attack, PSG remains prone to lapses in concentration at the back and Colombian forward Steven Mendoza was left unmarked when he pulled a goal back five minutes later.

Icardi has been in prolific form since joining on a season’s loan from Inter Milan and notched his ninth league goal in only 11 games, showing his usual dexterity when sliding to the back post to volley in a cross from the left with minutes remaining.

The win kept PSG seven points clear of second-place Marseille heading into the mid-season winter break. PSG has played one game less and has a vastly superior goal difference.

Marseille enjoyed a comfortable 3-1 home win against 19th-place Nimes for a sixth win in seven games. Midfield schemer Dimitri Payet was involved in all the goals – and in another disallowed goal – after a tight first half.

Nimes players were exasperated not to get a penalty on the stroke of halftime, following a video review after center half Duje Caleta-Car appeared to impede Sofiane Alakouch.

Alakouch inadvertently sent the ball into his own net in the 47th after sliding to stop a cross from the right from reaching Payet.

Marseille then had a goal ruled out by VAR after Payet’s deflected shot from the edge of the penalty area clipped striker Dario Benedetto, who was in an offside position.

Benedetto’s next effort stood as he volleyed into the roof of the net from close range in the 66th, after midfielder Morgan Sanson’s saved shot from Payet’s pass bounced up invitingly to him.

Payet got an ovation when he was substituted soon after his well-struck goal in the 82nd. Payet was one of France’s best players at the European Championship in 2016, but then lost his place.

With Euro 2020 looming, he is pushing for a return to coach Didier Deschamps’ squad and has four goals and three assists in six games.

The French league resumes on Jan. 10.

OTHER MATCHES

Striker M’Baye Niang’s late goal gave Rennes a 1-0 home win against Bordeaux and moved it two points above Lille into third place.

Lille was routed 5-1 away to Monaco, despite Nigeria striker Victor Osimhen’s 10th league goal of the season giving Lille a 14th-minute lead.

The prolific Wissam Ben Yedder grabbed two second-half goals to take his league-leading tally to 13 – two more than Mbappe.

Nantes is two points behind Lille in fifth spot after losing 2-1 at home to Angers.

Midfielder Ludovic Blas celebrated his goal after a shot from outside the penalty area in the 18th. Goalkeeper Ludovic Butelle clumsily spilled what was otherwise a comfortable shot to stop.

Midfielder Antonin Bobichon leveled for Angers in the 51st and Algerian striker Farid El Melali pounced late on.

Lyon was missing top scorer Memphis Depay and attacking midfielder Jeff Reine-Adelaide to serious knee injuries sustained last weekend, but still took an early lead at sixth-place Reims through midfielder Lucas Tousart.

After midfielder Mathieu Cafaro leveled from the penalty spot for Reims in the 44th, striker Moussa Dembele missed a late penalty for Lyon in a 1-1 draw.

Center forward Gaetan Laborde netted twice as ninth-place Montpellier easily beat Brest 4-0.

Headers from Malang Sarr and Hicham Boudaoui put 10th-place Nice 2-0 up inside 20 minutes at home to last-place Toulouse, and a brilliant curling shot by midfielder Pierre Lees-Melou. also in the first half, made it 3-0.

Saint-Etienne slumped to a fifth defeat in the last seven games overall, losing 2-1 at 11th-place Strasbourg.

Dijon midfielder Romain Amalfitano’s first league goal since January 2016 was worth the wait in a 2-2 home draw with Metz. As the ball dropped on the edge of the penalty area he struck a superb volley into the bottom corner to equalize moments after Senegal striker Habib Diallo’s 10th of the season gave Metz a 15th-minute lead.

Metz had a player sent off in the second half but earned a point thanks to Habib Maiga’s injury-time goal.

Germany to meet Spain again in EURO U21 final

Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images
Leave a comment

BOLOGNA, Italy (AP) Defending champion Germany will again meet Spain in the Under-21 European Championship final after both won their semifinals on Thursday.

Luca Waldschmidt and Nadiem Amiri scored late as Germany came from behind to beat Romania 4-2, while Spain routed France 4-1.

Spain lost 1-0 to Germany in the 2017 final and will now have its chance for revenge in Udine on June 30.

In the first semifinal, in Bologna, Amiri gave Germany the lead in the 21st minute after racing from inside his own half but George Puscas leveled from the spot following a foul by Timo Baumgartl on Ianis Hagi.

[ MORE: Almiron remarks on Real rumor ]

And Romania, which was making only its second appearance in the competition, took the lead on the stroke of halftime when Puscas headed in.

Germany leveled shortly after the break when Waldschmidt converted a spot kick after Hagi was penalized for pulling on Mahmoud Dahoud’s shirt.

As the match appeared headed for extra time Germany scored after Amiri backheeled a free kick into Waldschmidt’s path and the Freiburg forward fired into the bottom right corner.

It got worse for Romania as defender Alex Pascanu was sent off for a last-man foul on Lukas Nmecha and Amiri sealed the match with another free kick.

There was also a penalty for each side in Reggio Emilia.

Jean-Philippe Mateta gave France the lead from the spot in the 16th after Junior Firpo pushed over Jeff Reine-Adelaide.

But Marc Roca equalized when he tapped in a rebound and Mikel Oyarzabal fired Spain in front with a penalty in first-half stoppage time after being tripped by Ibrahima Konate.

Dani Olmo extended Spain’s advantage immediately after the break and substitute Borja Mayoral scored four minutes after coming off the bench.

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

Season Preview: Arsenal to return to top-4?

1 Comment

Arsenal at a Glance:

Premier League (and old First Division) titles: 13 – last in 2003/2004 season.

FA Cups: 13 times, last in 2016/2017.

League Cups: 2

FA Community Shield: 15 (last in 2017).

Top Four Finishes: 20-in-a-row between 1997 and 2017.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]


It’s a new era at Arsenal.

After 20 years at the club, Arsene Wenger stepped down at the end of last season, in which Arsenal failed to break into the top four for a second consecutive season, allowing for a fresh set of eyes to come in and manage the side. In comes veteran Spaniard Unai Emery, who perhaps couldn’t live up to expectations in France but certainly beat the odds over and over again with Sevilla and Valencia in Spain.

Emery’s attention to detail and defensive focus could pair well with Arsenal’s wonderful abundance of creative, playmaking midfielders. But based on Arsenal’s preseason performances, there’s still plenty of work to be done at both ends of the pitch.


Arsenal will finish top four because….the new signings gel and add strength in depth to what is an already very strong squad. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hits the ground running in his first full-season at the club with 20 or more goals, partnering at times with Alexandre Lacazette or trading spots with him between the heavy workload of matches. More importantly, the summer signings of Sokratis, Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi and Stephan Lichtsteiner help shore up Arsenal’s leaky defense after a few months of struggles to start the season. Torreira, affectionately called “pac-man” for his ability to eat up attackers all over the field, morphs into the best defensive midfielder Arsenal has seen since the days of Patrick Vieira.

Arsenal will miss out on the UEFA Champions League because….defensive problems remain. While the team is beautiful in its attack, Emery is left pulling all the hairs out of his head wondering why Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis can’t figure out how to play together and defend as a unit. With Laurent Koscielny set to miss a large chunk of the season coming back from his torn Achilles injury, Arsenal miss his defensive leadership. In addition, both Lacazette and Aubameyang struggle to score in the big games, making Arsenal fans continue to suffer as the team fails to live up to expectations.

Best possible XI: List the team’s strongest lineup for this season when everyone is fit

———————Leno———————-

—-Bellerin—-Mustafi—Sokratis——Kolasinac

—————Torreira——-Xhaka——————

——-Mkhitaryan——Ramsey———-Ozil——

———————Aubameyang———————

Transfers In: Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus), Matteo Guendouzi (Lorient, $9.1 million), Lucas Torreira (Sampdoria, $34.4 million), Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen, $25 million), Sokratis (Borussia Dortmund, $23 million)

Transfers Out: Per Mertesacker (retired), Santi Cazorla (Villarreal, free), Jack Wilshere (West Ham, free), Jeff Reine-Adelaide (Angers, undisclosed)

Ranking their offseason: A-

Arsenal found itself outside the Champions League for the second straight season, and with a new manager entering, the club could have been in for a rough summer. Instead, it’s been very good so far by all accounts. Arsenal spent strategically and already, Guendouzi looks like a strong signing, having performed well as a holding midfielder in multiple preseason matches. Leno looks like the future goalkeeper the Gunners have been wanting with Torreira and Sokratis shore up a creaky defense. In addition, the Gunners were able to hold on to Aubameyang, Lacazette, and though his future is still up in the air, Aaron Ramsey so far. Through preseason, it’s clear that Arsenal needs to work more defensively, but in terms of the attacking side they’re looking good enough to start the season.


Getty Images

Star player: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: The French-born Gabon International was a star both domestically and in Europe for Borussia Dortmund. If he can produce at his old level, Arsenal will be just fine.


Coaches’ Corner: Unai Emery: The 48-year-old manager comes from Paris Saint-Germain, where he gained valuable experience coaching some of the biggest names in world football. But the majority of his coaching success has come in Spain. With Valencia and Sevilla, Emery constantly beat expectations and helped his side play better than the sum of its parts. If he can pull that off for Arsenal, he will quickly win over fans. 

PST predicts: After a strong offseason, Arsenal look set to return to the club’s old glory as a regular top-four team. The spine of the squad was improved, which should give players like Mesut Ozil, Henrik Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi the freedom to attack down the wings and through the heart of the opponent’s defense. The new manager should refresh the player’s attitudes and deliver a fitter, more defensively-sound squad, which will help in terms of getting back in the Champions League. Arsenal may still be a bit away from challenging for a league title, but they’re not that far off.

LIVE: Transfer Deadline Day – Window closed

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The day has arrived.

Teams looking to make mid-season improvements or jettison want-away players have until 6 p.m. ET to do so, with a flurry of deals set to take place between now and then.

[MORE: Latest transfer news]

Arsenal started the day off with a bang, signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund for a record fee, and there are more deals expected to be completed today, including Olivier Giroud to Chelsea and Michy Batshuayi to Chelsea. In addition, with the World Cup six months away, some other players will be looking for a loan around Europe for more playing time.

And remember, there is a live Deadline Day show on NBCSN and online from 5 p.m. ET today which you can steam by clicking on the link below.

[STREAM: Deadline Day show]

Let’s get stuck in…

(more…)

Wenger laments EFL Cup elimination, Arsenal “not incisive enough”

Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arsene Wenger said it wasn’t about who was chosen to play in Arsenal’s 2-0 loss to Southampton in the EFL Cup quarterfinals, rather how those players performed in the elimination.

[ MORE: Saints knock Gunners out ]

Criticized by some fans for his lineup choice — Wenger picked Rob Holding, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, and little-used goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez amongst others — the manager said his players just weren’t up to the intensity.

From Sky Sports:

“We were not incisive enough. They defended deep and were sharper and fitter than us. With a two-goal advantage they defended very well.”

“When you look at the team we had, I don’t think that was the problem. We didn’t have the right urgency from the beginning of the game.”

Wenger’s been on-point much of this season, but his “fitter” comment backs up the lineup choice. Throw in Lucas Perez and Carl Jenkinson, and Arsenal had few players getting regular run in his Starting XI.

Should Wenger have used more first-choice players in the chase for hardware, or is the Premier League chase far more important to this season? There was a better way for Wenger to go about choosing his lineup, although weekend opponents West Ham also sat several key players.

Follow @NicholasMendola