Mohamed Elneny

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Liverpool’s Salah to miss Egypt’s first two AFCON qualifiers

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Good news for Liverpool, not so much for Egypt.

Mohamed Salah will not suit up for the Pharoahs this month as Egypt begins qualifying for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

[ MORE: Will Zlatan rejoin LA? ]

Salah has been dealing with ankle problems since a rough tackle from Leicester City’s Hamza Choudhury, and it’s acting up following a tackle from Fernandinho in the Reds’ 3-1 defeat of Man City on Sunday.

Egypt needs Salah, but it’s no surprise he’s erring on the side of caution given the tumultuous relationship between the superstar and his country (and Liverpool’s status as a contender in five (!!) tournaments).

Salah, 27, has 41 goals in 67 caps. The next five leading active Egyptian scorers have a combined 31 goals in their careers over 284 caps. The youngest of those is Aston Villa’s Trezeguet (25), followed by Besiktas’ Mohamed Elneny (27).

Egypt are heavy favorites to finish in one of the top two spots and qualify for AFCON 2020, even with the injury. The 49th ranked Pharoahs (FIFA ranking) are in a group with Kenya (108), Togo (124) and Comoros (142).

Egypt hosts Kenya on Thursday to kick off qualification, and visits Comoros on Monday.

Arsenal: Mustafi, Elneny can leave

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Arsenal could see more first team veterans leave the club, after Unai Emery has allowed Shkodran Mustafi and Mohamed Elneny the chance to leave before the European transfer deadline closes.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Mustafi started 38 times in all competitions for the Gunners last season, but he’s remembered for many miscues and blunders that cost the Gunners points, even if he did help take Arsenal to the Europa League final. Elneny meanwhile played in just 17 games last season. Both players are not in Emery’s plans.

“They are very big players but for one circumstance or another they are going to have fewer chances to show their capacity or to be happy with us and the minutes they play in matches,” Emery told reporters in London, via the Guardian. “But they know the situation and really I am wishing the best for them. I think now the best for them is to be protagonists in another team and to get another challenge for themselves.”

It’s a huge fall from grace for Mustafi, who just a few years ago was a major signing for the Gunners and was coming off playing three times on Germany’s way to winning the 2014 World Cup. However, that was then, and Mustafi’s form has dropped off enough that he hasn’t been called up by Joachim Low since 2017. It’s hard to realize that Mustafi is only 27, but it appears that he either peaked much earlier, or injuries have kept him from realizing his past form.

Elneny meanwhile came in 2016 as a mid-season, January signing for Arsene Wenger. However, he was always used as a depth piece, and never truly blossomed to become a main player.

For some coaches knowing they’ll be playing a taxing schedule in four competitions, they might have done whatever it took to keep players like Mustafi and Elneny, both comfortable at Arsenal, for at least depth and help in the cup competitions. But to Emery’s credit, his honesty to the players will surely be appreciated, and allow them to look elsewhere for more playing time.

Ultimately, Elneny and Mustafi will play at Arsenal if they don’t leave, but it just won’t be in as many games as they hope, unless there’s some sort of crazy injury crisis.

Africa Cup of Nations last 16 preview: Salah, Mane on collision course?

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The group stage of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations has been low-scoring, so we’ll be hoping for some early goals to open up play for the many electric stars of Africa.

That doesn’t mean we haven’t seen the big names find the score sheet, as Mohamed Salah of Liverpool and host nation Egypt has two goals — as many as anyone in the tournament — the same amount as club teammate Sadio Mane.

[ MORE: JPW’s Round of 16 predictions ]

The Reds may be on a collision course for Cairo on July 19, with Senegal the 22nd ranked team in the world via FIFA and Egypt hosting the tournament.

All five of the nations to qualify for the 2018 World Cup remain alive, with three in the top of the bracket and two in the bottom.

The 32nd edition of the competition could see a rematch of the 31st final in the quarterfinals, but it will require Cameroon emerging from a massive Round of 16 meeting with Nigeria.

Should they do so, and the hosts beat South Africa, the rematch will arrive on Wednesday in Cairo.

The Cameroon-Nigeria match may be topped by one in the upper half of the bracket, as Ghana looks to reassert itself as a power by knocking of Tunisia. The Black Stars missed out on the 2018 World Cup, and the winner is arguably a favorite to reach the final.

Premier League talents on show

Senegal – Mane (Liverpool), Idrissa Gana Gueye (Everton), Cheikhou Kouyate (Crystal Palace)

Morocco – Romain Saiss (Wolves)

Democratic Republic of Congo – Arthur Masuaku (West Ham)

Ghana – Christian Atsu (Newcastle), Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace)

Mali – Moussa Djenepo (Southampton)

Ivory Coast – Serge Aurier (Spurs), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace), Jonathan Kodija (Aston Villa)

Algeria – Riyad Mahrez (Man City), Islam Slimani (Leicester)

Guinea – Naby Keita (Liverpool)

Nigeria – Leon Balogun (Brighton), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester), Henry Onyekuru (Everton).

Cameroon – Gaetan Bong (Brighton),

Egypt – Salah (Liverpool), Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal), Ahmed Elmohamady (Aston Villa)

Round of 16 schedule

Uganda v. Senegal – July 5
Morocco v. Benin – July 5

Madagascar v. Democratic Republic of Congo – July 7
Ghana v. Tunisia – July 8

Mali v. Ivory Coast – July 8
Algeria v. Guinea – July 7

Nigeria v. Cameroon – July 6
Egypt v. South Africa – July 6

Premier League Preview: Arsenal vs. Liverpool

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  • Arsenal is without the suspended Matteo Guendouzi, while Mohamed Elneny (thigh), Laurent Koscielny (Achilles) and Dinos Mavropanos (groin) are injured. There are also doubts over Nacho Monreal (hamstring), Hector Bellerin (thigh), Sokratis (ankle) and Sead Kolasinac (hamstring), who all face late fitness tests.  
  • Lverpool midfielders Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita (both hamstring) will miss the trip to London. 
  • The last five PL meetings between these teams have produced 27 goals, an average of 5.4 per match.
  • Arsenal is looking for its first PL victory over Liverpool in seven attempts (D3 L3). This is Arsenal’s longest such run against the Reds since a sequence of 12 between 1994 and 2000

Two of the Premier League’s best attacks face off as Arsenal host Liverpool in the biggest match of the Premier League weekend (Watch live on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Despite dealing with injuries all season, Liverpool’s offense is finding its best form, with eight goals in its last two games in all competitions, including a trio of goals each from Sadio Mane and Mohamad Salah. The pair, along with Roberto Firmino will provide a great test to Unai Emery‘s rickety defense, which allowed two penalty kick goals last week against Crystal Palace.

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It’s a game that should be high on action and goals and low on slow, defensive play. A true treat for all us Premier League fans.

What they’re saying?

Arsenal manager Unai Emery on facing the top 6 sides: “We want to write a new history. The new history is in the present and also, with our players, our quality and our capacity, I believe in my players and this project. We are starting this project with a very positive way with what we are doing. We are in our mentality that we also need to improve thing but each match they are giving us a lot of information for improvement and development and I trust in my players.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on the recent goal-scoring run: “We created a lot of chances before that as well, apart from the Napoli game and maybe the City game, where there were not a lot of chances at both ends of the pitch. But we created, we only didn’t score. As long as you create, as a manager you should not be in doubt about finishing because the players don’t change overnight or over a week or month or over a season. They are the same boys; there’s always the chance to improve and develop, of course, but you have to respect that there can be a few drops as well.”

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Prediction

Both teams defenses have improved since the two teams last met, but with so much attacking power on display, we expect there to be plenty of highlight-reel moments. We predict it’s going to be a replay of last year’s matchup at the Emirates, with goals from Salah, Mane, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. Arsenal 3-3 Liverpool

Arsenal showcase depth in blowout of Qarabag

AP Photo/Aziz Karimov
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  • Sokratis opens scoring
  • Smith Rowe, Guendouzi bag 1st senior goals
  • Ozil, Lacazette on bench
  • Aubameyang, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan left home

Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Emile Smith Rowe, and Matteo Guendouzi scored in Azerbaijan as Arsenal popped Qarabag 3-0 in the Europa League on Thursday.

Arsenal is now 2-0 in group play while Qarabag falls to 0-2. Arsenal now get Sporting Lisbon back-to-back in one of the league’s best group stage pairings.

[ MORE: Europa League standings ]

Arsenal, clad in red shorts to go with their red shirts, controlled play early and went ahead within a few minutes of said control.

Mohamed Elneny‘s corner kick was headed towards goal, and Sokratis was onside to redirect the ball over the line.

Emile Smith Rowe was very close with a sliding effort to meet Sead Kolasinac‘s cross to the back post in the 18th minute.

Bernd Leno made a fine save on Filip Ozobic in the 40th minute, with Sokratis clearing the rebound.

[ MORE: Europa League schedule ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Qarabag thought it was level in the 49th minute, but Mahir Madatov’s run was a split second too early before the Azerbaijan international slotted past Leno.

Arsenal made it 2-0 under pressure, with Smith Rowe running onto a feed from Alex Iwobi in the 52nd. Then Guendouzi joined Smith Rowe with historic career moments by potting his first senior goal.