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Report: Arteta, Arsenal to meet on Thursday

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Arsenal could have its successor to Arsene Wenger by the end of the week.

That’s if talks with former Gunners midfielder and current Manchester City assistant Mikel Arteta go well.

[ PL TOP 10: GKs and backs | Mids and forwards ]

Already reported as a clear favorite for the job, Arteta will speak with the Gunners brass on Thursday. Sky Sports also says he’d be allowed to bring his own backroom staff.

Pep Guardiola won’t stand in the way of his assistant moving up in the Premier League world, and it would certainly be interesting to see how Arteta would attack and defend his former side.

When Arteta retired from Arsenal in 2016, he was a teammate of several current Gunners’ stars including Mesut Ozil, Laurent Koscielny, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Hector Bellerin, and Nacho Monreal.

Meanwhile, the Metro is reporting that Arsenal is ready to spend $102 million on Freiburg defender Caglar Soyuncu, Borussia Dortmund center back Sokratis Papastathopoulos, and Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

Dortmund goes top with a little help from VAR (video)

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Borussia Dortmund took out its angst from a midweek loss to Spurs at Wembley by hammering Koln at the Westfalenstadion on Sunday.

BVB got a bit of help from Video Assistant Referee on its second goal of the 5-0 blowout, which kept Koln dead-last on the table with zero points.

[ MORE: Man Utd 4-0 Everton | Lukaku reacts ]

Sokratis Papastathopoulos made the score 2-0 in first half stoppage time, though the referee initially blew the whistle at the thought of a handball from Sokratis.

VAR reversed the call, and Dortmund went on to win 5-0. BVB is back atop the Bundesliga with 10 goals scored and the side is yet to concede in league play.

Maximilian Philipp and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both recorded braces for Peter Bosz’s BVB, while USMNT teen Christian Pulisic came on for Andriy Yarmolenko in the 66th minute.

Dortmund players treated “like animals” in decision to play Monaco

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Borussia Dortmund players showed an unbreakable spirit in returning to the field of play 24 hours after an explosion hit their team bus and injured defender Marc Bartra, ultimately falling to Monaco in the two sides’ UEFA Champions League first-leg clash, 3-2.

[ MORE: Monaco win first leg, 3-2, on tough night for Dortmund players ]

After the game, various Dortmund players and manager Thomas Tuchel spoke of the emotions they were forced to deal with since Tuesday evening and through the 90 minutes at Signal Iduna Park. Some of the quotes are… heartbreaking, and should serve as a reminder that at the end of the day, footballers are human being just like the rest of us.

The decision to reschedule the fixture on such a short turnaround was clearly an issue for everyone associated with the club, as UEFA made the decision without consideration for their mental state.

[ MORE: Real Madrid come back to edge 10-man Bayern ]

Defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos — quotes from ESPN FC:

“I am happy first that I am alive. It was the most difficult day that I have lived in my life and I hope that nobody else has to live this day. After yesterday I don’t have any more space to think about the game.

“They [UEFA] have to understand that we are not animals. We are people who have families, who have kids in the house. And we are not animals. I am happy that all the players are alive, and all the staff are alive.

“It is very difficult today to think to go and play football. For everybody, it is very difficult to go to work after yesterday. I hope that what happened to us, never happens to anyone else. I hope that was the last time.”

“We will speak with our president and with our coach. But we don’t have any solutions. I feel like what I said before: I feel like an animal and not like a person. Who doesn’t live this can’t understand how big it was for us.”

Midfielder Nuri Sahin — quotes from ESPN FC:

“It is hard to talk about it and hard to find the right words. We saw a lot of times on TV and it was far away from us, even when it was in Istanbul which is in my country.

“Last evening we felt how it is to be in this situation. I don’t wish a feeling like this on anyone. I don’t know if people can understand this but until I was on the pitch in the second half I did not think about football to be honest.

“Last night I didn’t realise what happened and when I got home my wife and son were waiting in front of the door I felt how lucky we were. I know football is very important, we love football, we suffer with football and I know we earn a lot of money and have a privileged life but we are human beings, there is so much more than football in this world, last night we felt it.

“When I was on the bus last night, I can’t forget the faces, I will never forget those faces. I sit next to (Marcel) Schmelzer and I will never forget his face. It was unbelievable.”

Tuchel — quotes from the BBC:

“UEFA is eager to continue playing. Of course we have to keep it going, but we still want to be competitive. We do not want to use the situation as an excuse.

“We wished we would have had more time to deal with what happened, but someone in Switzerland decided we must play.”

“We let the players choose if they wanted to play. But this morning, we found that the training had done good, that it had made us think of something else.

“Everyone has their own way of reacting to events. The players had the choice not to play, but no one chose this option.”

UPDATE: UEFA have issued a statement in response to Tuchel’s claim that Dortmund weren’t consulted with regards to the decision to play the game on Wednesday.

Galatasaray fans hurl flares into the Dortmund fans’ section

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Borussia Dortmund’s 4-1 win over Galatasaray in the Champions League was overshadowed by the Turkish side’s fans throwing flares onto the pitch and into the home supporter’s stand.

Dortmund took the lead in the 39th-minute through a Marco Reus goal before defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos doubled the German side’s margin in the 56th. Hakan Balta got Galatassary on the scoresheet in the 70th minute before Ciro Immobile scored four minutes later and an own-goal by Semih Kaya five minutes from time sealed the 4-1 scoreline.

But, true to form, the Galatasaray fans made their presence felt throughout the match, setting off firecrackers, smoke bombs and flares prompting the referee to twice stop the match. Teams took refuge in the dugout as flares plunked down on the pitch and smoke billowed. Even worse, the away supporters launched fireworks and flares at the Dortmund supporters, making for scary scenes in the home stands.

Similar to the scenes at Arsenal a few weeks back, the Galatasaray players went over to the away supporters and pleaded with them to stop the nonsense. The scenes at the Emirates resulted in seven fans getting arrested – two before the game for attempting to enter the ground with flares before another five afterwards. Expect more of the same tonight in Germany.

source:
Dortmund fans take cover as flares and fireworks descend.

source: Getty Images
Selcuk Inan and Felipe Melo plead with the away fans.

Champions League roundup: Arsenal stunned, Dortmund, Real Madrid qualify

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On a goal-crazy Tuesday in the UEFA Champions League there was plenty of drama.

Arsenal gave up a 3-0 lead to draw with Belgian minnows Anderlecht, while Basel and Borussia Dortmund recorded resounding wins, the latter to seal a spot in the knockout rounds.

There were tense clashes in Turin as Madrid with the home teams both victorious as reigning champions Real are through to the last 16. 

Below is a roundup of what happened in all eight games, as we are now entering the nitty-gritty of the UCL group stage.

[RELATED: UCL news | standings |  schedule]

GROUP A

Malmo 0-2 Atletico Madrid

Last years runners up ground out a win in Sweden as Koke put Diego Simeone’s men ahead, then Garcia added a second. Atletico are giving themselves a good chance to advance from Group A after a tough start.

Juventus 3-2 Olympiacos

Andrea Pirlo scored a stunner to put Juve ahead but Botia equalized for the Greeks in a tense first half. After the break Delivin Ndinga put Olympiacos 2-1 up but a crazy two-minute spell saw an own goal from Roberto which made it 2-2 then Paul Pogba scored to put the hosts ahead. Crucial win for the Old Lady.

GROUP B

Real Madrid 1-0 LiverpoolRECAP

Karim Benzema scored the only goal but Real could have had plenty of others as Brendan Rodgers rested several starters for Liverpool. The Reds showed plenty of guile but are now three points behind Basel and have it all to do to advance to the last 16.

Basel 4-0 Ludogorets

Goals from Embolo, Gonzalez, Gashi and Suchy handed the Swiss side a comfortable win at home as they  take command of second place in Group B ahead of Liverpool. Basel welcome Real Madrid to St Jakob Park next.

GROUP C

Benfica 1-0 Monaco

A first win for Portuguese giants Benfica as Talisca scored in the 82nd minute to keep their hopes of advancing well and truly alive. Tight game. Huge win.

Zenit 1-2 Bayer LeverkusenRECAP

Son scored twice to put Leverkusen in a commanding position in Russia, and the German outfit held on despite Rondon’s late goal to go top of Group C. Massive win.

GROUP D

Arsenal 3-3 AnderlechtRECAP

If Arsenal would have beat Anderlecht on Tuesday, the Gunners would have been through to the last 16. Mikel Arteta scored a penalty kick, then Alexis Sanchez added another in the first half before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made it 3-0. But then the Belgians pulled two goals back through Anthony Vanden Borre and Mitrovic stunned the Emirates with a late equalizer. Arsene Wenger was not a happy man.

Borussia Dortmund 4-1 Galatasaray

Marco Reus scored five minutes before half time and Sokratis Papastathopoulos added a second for Dortmund before Solta made it 2-1. Late goals from Ciro Immobile and an own goal gave Dortmund the easy win and put them in the last 16.