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Arsene Wenger backs Arsenal to compete for Premier League title

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Arsenal legend Arsene Wenger reckons his former side have a chance of winning this season’s Premier League title.

Mikel Arteta’s side sit top of the table after six rounds of fixtures, winning five of their opening matches.

They can head into the September international break in first place if they beat Brentford at the Gtech Community Stadium in Sunday’s midday kick-off.

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Wenger led the Gunners to three league titles – including the club’s last in 2003/04, going the entire 38-game season unbeaten – across his 22-year stay in north London, departing in 2018 and taking up a role at FIFA as their Chief of Global Football Development.

The Frenchman seldom comments on his former club, but speaking as a pundit, he revealed his excitement at Arsenal’s hopes of returning to the Champions League and competing for major honours.

“I would say they are moving in the right direction. I honestly think there is no weak position in the team…they are young, promising players and they have bought well this year,” Wenger said.

“There is no completely dominating team this season and Arsenal has a chance with the potential that is there. We used to be in the top four and why not again? You cannot even rule out the fact that they can fight for the title and hopefully they can do it.”

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Arsenal have not competed for the Premier League title since Wenger’s exit, while they have not finished in the top four since 2016.

His immediate successor, Unai Emery, led Arsenal to fifth place in his only full year in charge. Arteta oversaw back-to-back eighth-place finishes before coming fifth last season, losing fourth spot to rivals Tottenham in the final week of the campaign.



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Player ratings as Fabio Vieira inspires routine victory

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Arsenal made it two wins from two in the Europa League this season as they secured a convincing 3-0 victory over Bodo/Glimt at the Emirates.

Eddie Nketiah and Rob Holding both found the back of the net midway through the first half, before Fabio Vieira killed things off five minutes from time to seal all three points for Mikel Arteta’s men.

Predictably, Arsenal were on top in the opening stages and Nketiah came close to bending in a nice opener inside the first five minutes, instead watching as his strike whistled wide of the far post.

Some nice play handed Vieira a chance shortly after, but the youngster couldn’t get over his half-volley and sent the ball blazing over the bar when he really should have been testing the goalkeeper.

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The breakthrough finally came 23 minutes in courtesy of Nketiah, who tapped home into an empty net after Kieran Tierney’s glorious strike thundered back off the post and landed right at the feet of the Arsenal striker.

And the second came just moments later. Vieira’s glorious cross was steered home by the head of Holding, putting this game to bed before the half-hour mark.

A free-kick from Granit Xhaka then stung the gloves of Bodo/Glimt goalkeeper Nikita Haikin, before Vieira failed to make the most of an opportunity to add a third as he pulled his own effort wide of the post.

Xhaka drew another save from Haikin just seconds after the half-time break but Arsenal appeared to take a foot off the gas as Bodo/Glimt grew into the game.

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The away side had some excellent spells in control of the ball but lacked any sort of quality in the final third, with Arsenal regularly keeping them at arm’s length with relative ease.

Bodo/Glimt had Arsenal pinned back at times but the Gunners almost had a third when Nketiah found himself through on goal with around ten minutes left, but he sent his effort ballooning over the bar.

Then, with five minutes to go, the third did come. Gabriel Jesus embarked on a ridiculous solo run which saw him skin two defenders and lay the ball back to Vieira, who powered the ball into the back of the net.

Arsenal preserved their clean sheet in stoppage time as Matt Turner’s save threatened to cross the line before being hooked away by Holding, who had to stretch to karate-kick the ball out of the air.

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GK: Matt Turner – 7/10 – Took a while to realise this wasn’t Aaron Ramsdale. Rarely involved in the first half and comfortable under more pressure after the break. Needed to make a few nice saves.

CB: Takehiro Tomiyasu – 8/10 – Staked his claim to return to the starting lineup with an excellent showing. Dominant in the air and comfortable with the ball at his feet. Even did a job on the left after Tierney went off.

CB: Rob Holding – 7/10 – Hardly tested at the back but made an impact in attack, heading home Vieira’s cross.

CB: Gabriel – 6/10 – Did his job without really getting out of second gear.

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RM: Marquinhos – 5/10 – A few bright spells but usually had you wanting more. Feels like he’s inching closer to a loan move.

CM: Albert Sambi Lokonga – 5/10 – Probably a bit too cautious in possession in the first half and started to look out of his depth in the second half when the pressure stepped up.

CM: Granit Xhaka – 7/10 – Put himself about with real energy and quality. Clearly keen to get an early lead and seal himself a well-deserved rest.

LM: Kieran Tierney – 7/10 – Looked really sharp on his return to the team. Unfortunate not to get a glorious goal but at least facilitated Nketiah’s tap-in.

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AM: Fabio Vieira – 8/10 – Growing in confidence with each passing performance. Pulled the strings from start to finish and just seemed to constantly find himself on the ball.

ST: Gabriel Martinelli – 6/10 – Had the odd bright spell but this was undoubtedly an off night for Martinelli.

ST: Eddie Nketiah – 7/10 – A lot of hard work to get himself involved and flashed his natural goalscoring instincts as he tapped home Tierney’s rebound.

SUB: Martin Odegaard (58′ for Xhaka) – 6/10 – One or two nice passes but couldn’t really get on the ball as Bodo/Glimt stepped up their pressure.

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SUB: Bukayo Saka (58′ for Marquinhos) – 6/10 – Surprisingly came on when it wasn’t really necessary. Did well but had fans wincing every time he was tackled.

SUB: Gabriel Jesus (58′ for Martinelli) – 7/10 – Provided some energy to the attacking line and bagged a glorious assist.

SUB: Ben White (70′ for Tierney) – 6/10 – Happy to fly down the right during his cameo.

SUB: Reiss Nelson (82′ for Nketiah) – N/A

Manager: Mikel Arteta – 6/10 – Made some good changes to temporarily break Bodo/Glimt’s rhythm. Surprisingly brought Saka and Jesus off the bench when it wasn’t necessary to risk them.

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Player of the Match – Fabio Vieira

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Chelsea drops Fofana update after initial tests on knee injury

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Chelsea drops Fofana update after initial tests on knee injury

Wesley Fofana’s knee injury is better than initially feared after the first set of tests returned positive results.

The defender suffered a knee injury in a collision with Rafael Leao in the 38th minute of Chelsea’s 3-0 home win against AC Milan, as his night ended in frustrating fashion having scored his first goal for the club earlier in the match.

There is hope that Fofana could return before the World Cup, with Chelsea’s final match before the tournament taking place away to Newcastle on November 12.

The centre-back is likely to miss this weekend’s clash against Wolves and the away match at San Siro against Milan next week.

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Fofana was seen leaving Stamford Bridge on crutches on Wednesday night, with his right knee in a brace as there were worries he may have suffered a serious injury.

Speaking in his post-match press conference after Chelsea’s victory over Milan, Blues boss Graham Potter admitted he was unsure how bad it would prove to be for Fofana.

‘We’ll have to scan it tomorrow and see how he is but there’s nothing to report at the moment,” Potter said.

“That’s the one disappointing thing about the evening so we have our fingers crossed. We’re concerned but I don’t want to speculate on it now.

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“These things happen. He’s a young guy and a strong guy but we’ll support him.”

Source: EveningStandard
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Erik ten Hag explains decision to substitute Jadon Sancho in Omonia victory

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Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has confessed that he was unimpressed with the left side of his team in the first half of Thursday’s 3-2 victory over Omonia Nicosia, leading to him substituting both Jadon Sancho and Tyrell Malacia at half-time.

United were woeful in the first half and trailed at the break after Sancho and Malacia conspired to give away the ball for the cheapest of counter-attack goals, and both were hooked at the interval.

Sancho was replaced by Marcus Rashford, who went on to bag a goal and an assist, while fellow substitute Anthony Martial also scored just moments after being introduced on the hour mark.

Asked to explain his logic behind removing Sancho while his team were losing, Ten Hag said: “It [the goal] was not what I wasn’t happy with, it was the movement with our ball.

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“The width on the left side, for me, was no good first-half – the movement from behind the defending line.

“So I hoped with Luke [Shaw] and Marcus we get more effect from that and so in my opinion that happens.”

Asked what he told Rashford and the rest of the team at the break to inspire a comeback, Ten Hag told BT Sport: “More runs, we are too static, we have to make the opposition move to get behind – that is why we made two subs.

“The subs really had an impact today.”

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The boss added: “I would call it stay composed. It can always happen, football is a game of mistakes. I agree with you, first 30 or 35 minutes, we played quite well, the only thing we didn’t do was score a goal.

“When you score a goal you make your life easy, we didn’t. Then we concede a goal and it was the worst 10 minutes from the game from us. After half-time, we dealt well with the setback.”



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