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Wenger to step down as Arsenal manager

By SportDesk,

Arsenal has confirmed that manager Arsene Wenger would be leaving his role as the team manager at the end of current season.

Wenger, 68, announced that he would leave a year before his existing contract was due to expire having led the club to three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups during a 22-year reign.

In a statement released Arsenal’s website Wenger said, “After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season. I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years.”

“I managed the club with full commitment and integrity,” the statement continued. “I want to thank the staff, the players, the Directors and the fans who make this club so special.

“I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. My love and support for ever.”

Wenger was appointed as Arsenal manager in 1996 and has won three Premier League titles and a record seven FA Cups during his time in charge of the club. A European trophy has always eluded him but Arsenal are in the semi-finals of the Europa League, where they face Atletico Madrid.

The Frenchman joined Arsenal after a spell with Grampus Eight in Japan and set about revolutionising Arsenal, and English football, with new coaching and preparatory approaches, allied with a highly successful scouting and recruitment strategy, which propelled Arsenal to the double in 1997-98.

Two more league titles followed, including one unbeaten in 2003-04, but a lean decade following the move to Emirates Stadium left fans frustrated. Three FA Cups in four years between 2014 and 2017 helped to stave off some criticism but underperformance in the Premier League saw his authority come into question.

Arsenal’s Chief executive, Ivan Gazidis spoke last season about poor performances being a “catalyst for change” and Arsenal began their succession planning by bringing in head of recruitment Sven Mislintat and head of football relations Raul Sanllehi earlier this year.

But the club have not yet announced a decision on a successor for Wenger, with a statement on the official Arsenal website saying:

“Arsène will lead the team to the end of the season and we will make an appointment as soon as possible. The club will not be making any further comment on the selection process until an appointment is made.”

In response to Wenger’s decision to stand down, owner Stan Kroenke said: “This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport. One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsène has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched.
“Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude. “

“Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record,” Kroenke added. “He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played.

“We have high ambitions to build on Arsène’s remarkable tenure and to honour his vision by ensuring that Arsenal competes for and wins the biggest and most important prizes in the game.

“We must now focus on making a strong finish to the season and ask our millions of fans around the world to join us in paying appropriate tribute to one of the greats of Arsenal’s history and one of the greats of the game.”

Wenger himself said on Thursday that former Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira “has the potential” to succeed him as manager.

Ancelotti agrees to replace Wenger as Arsenal’s manager

By Emmanuel Onminyi with Agency report,

Following earlier reports of Arsenal eyeing the services of former Chelsea boss, Carlo Ancelotti, the Italian tactician has agreed a deal to replace the Frenchman as manager of the North London club.

Wenger who will still have one year remaining on his contract at the end of the season, could remain at the helms of affairs if the Gunners end up with a trophy in the ongoing 2017/18 season.

Several managers have been linked with the replacement of Wenger, including Thomas Tuchel, Eddie Howe and Sean Dyche. But reports suggest that Arsenal now have an agreement in place for Ancelotti to become their next manager in the summer of 2018.

The former Chelsea boss will sign a four-year contract with the Gunners worth 8.7 million Pounds-a-season, excluding bonuses. The report also claims that the Italian Football Federation are still trying to convince Ancelotti to reject Arsenal and become the national team’s new head coach.

Reports from Italian daily, Corriere dello Sport, suggests that Ancelotti is reportedly keen to manage in the Premier League once again and is set to move back to London in the month of February.

 

The former Real Madrid manager won the Premier League title and the FA Cup in his first season at Chelsea but was sacked by Roman Abramovich after finishing the subsequent campaign without a trophy.

The 58-year-old is currently unemployed after he was sacked by Bayern Munich at the end of September 2017.

 

Former Chelsea boss, Ancelotti, to replace Wenger

By Emmanuel Onminyi with Agency report,

Following a recent run of poor form, Arsenal are prepared for Arsene Wenger to leave the club in the summer of 2018 and are lining up Carlo Ancelotti to replace him at the end of the season.

The French boss came under fresh pressure after Arsenal’s miserable FA Cup exit at the hands of Nottingham Forest and the club officials are aware that he may quit at the end of the current campaign.

With the Premier League title seemingly beyond them and with Arsenal not competing in the UEFA Champions League this season, the chances of Wenger delivering major silverware seem slim and a loss to Chelsea in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup would be a crushing blow for Wenger.

The French tactician survived heavy pressure from the club’s fans in the 2016/17 season by delivering the FA Cup and signing a new two-year deal, but the 68-year-old may not see out the contract. And Ancelotti is being eyed up as a serious candidate to replace him.

According to the Evening Standard, the former Chelsea coach is viewed as having the required pedigree to lead the club forward and they are relaxed over the prospect of Wenger leaving.

The Italian who has spent time at Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan, has delivered major silverware at the club he has managed.

The former Real Madrid boss plans to move back to London in February 2018, following his sacking at Bayern in September 2017, and Chelsea are also keeping a watchful eye over him should relations with Antonio Conte goes sour.

 

 

CAF Player of the Year wants top coaches for Nigeria

By Emmanuel Onminyi with Agency report,

Newly crowned CAF Female Footballer of the year, Asisat Oshoala, says the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, must hire a top professional coach for the Super Falcons in order to challenge with other great teams in world football.

The former Arsenal and Liverpool star, who currently plies her trade with Chinese side, Dalian Quanjian, has enjoyed a great height for both club and country.

Having won the golden ball and the golden boot at the 2014 Under 20 Women’s World Cup as Nigeria finished runners-up, and an African Cup of Nations winner’s medal the same year, Oshoala has started to eye international glory.

She revealed that for the Super Falcons to reach the highest peak of football like other countries such as Germany, Japan, USA and South Korea, the NFF must hire a very good coach.

“We don’t want to be sharing with the men’s team anymore and waiting for the funds to be able to do things,” she said.

“We need our own committees that can run things for the women. We also need top professional coaches. Football is getting harder. There are a lot of teams out there that are getting better every year. We need to do everything within our reach to move forward, keep people in Africa and make us strong enough to compete on a world stage.”

Manchester City increases bid for Sanchez

By Emmanuel Onminyi with Agency report,

English Premier League powerhouse, Manchester City, have raised Alexis Sanchez‘s asking price to 40 million Pounds as they prepare an offer for the Chile international.

The 29-year-old will be available as a free agent at the end of the season when his contract expires, and the January window is the Arsenal’s final opportunity to receive a transfer fee for the forward.

Arsenal are open to negotiating a deal for Sanchez, while recent reports claimed that he was valued at 25 million Pounds. But the Gunners’ valuation is close to 40 million Pounds due to City’s circumstances.

Pep Guardiola was initially prepared to wait until the summer to sign Sanchez as he was wary of upsetting the balance of his City squad, who are 15 points clear at the top of the Premier League.

With Gabriel Jesus sidelined for up to six weeks with a knee ligament injury, Guardiola is desperate to reinforce his options in the attack as his only fit first-team striker is Sergio Aguero.

The report also claimed that Arsene Wenger is ‘increasingly resigned’ to the prospect of Sanchez leaving in January, despite publicly claiming that the player will be kept at Arsenal for the remainder of the campaign.

Sanchez came close to joining City in the closing stages of the 2017 summer window transfer, but Arsenal ended the 60 million Pounds deal as they were unable to sign a replacement before the deadline.

The former Barcelona striker did not feature in Arsenal’s FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest on Sunday, January 8, implying that he would be available for City in the competition, as well as their UEFA Champions League knockout phase fixtures.

 

 

 

Dean admits error in controversial Arsenal game

By Emmanuel Onminyi with Agency report,

English football referee, Mike Dean, has admitted he made a mistake by awarding West Bromwich Albion a penalty in their New Year’s Eve English Premier League clash with Arsenal.

Dean and his team of officials were confronted by Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger, after Calum Chambers was penalised for a handball in the 88th minute of the 1-1 draw at the Hawtorns.

Wenger was subsequently handed a three-match touchline ban and a 45,000 Pounds fine. But, on the eve of the introduction of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology to English football, it has emerged that Dean has accepted he got the decision wrong.

According to English FA refereeing boss, Mike Riley, the VAR, which will be used for the first time in England on Monday, January 8, when Brighton hosts Crystal Palace in the FA Cup and on Wednesday, for Arsenal’s clash with Chelsea in the Carabao Cup semi-finals, would have helped overturn the decision.

“You award the penalty because what you have seen on the pitch is the arm coming towards the ball,” Riley said

“What is handball can look to you on the field of play if you get one look at it. But immediately there is evidence from another camera angle which shows actually the opposite. That is the safety net of the VAR.

“I think Chambers would have been overturned. The question you ask is, is it an act of deliberate handball? And the reverse angle shows him trying to bring his arm out of the way of the ball, rather than the reverse.

“I know Mike would have overturned it. He messages people, and he’s a very honest guy, and he goes, ‘I got it wrong’. He knows he did.”

Nottingham Forest knocks Arsenal out of FA Cup

By Emmanuel Onminyi with Agency report,

FA Cup holders, Arsenal, suffered a shock defeat to Championship side, Nottingham Forest on Sunday, January 7, as they were dumped out of the tournament in the third round following a thrilling 4-2 defeat at the City Ground.

Arsene Wenger’s much-changed side were far from their best and made to pay, as two goals from Eric Lichaj and penalties from Ben Brereton and Kieran Dowell gave Forest a memorable and deserved win.

Wenger opted to rotate his team for the game and handed starts to youngsters, Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

The Frenchman, meanwhile, was forced to watch the game from the stands as he served the first of a three-match touchline ban handed him by the English FA for misconduct.

Both teams started brightly, with Theo Walcott scuffing an early chance before Arsenal’s goalkeeper, David Ospina, was forced to tip Matty Cash’s header past the post.

However, Ospina could do nothing about the opener on the 20th minutes as an unmarked Lichaj headed home Dowell’s free-kick at the far post. But Arsenal hit back instantly with Per Mertesacker slotting home after Rob Holding had headed on Walcott’s free-kick.

Lichaj then grabbed his second of the game with just a minute of normal time remaining in the first half. However,Holding brought down Cash in the box and conceded the penalty to stretch Forest’s lead to 3-1.

Arsenal pulled one back through Danny Welbeck with 12 minutes of normal time remaining, but the North London side conceded a second penalty after Mathieu Debuchy brought down Bertrand Traore. Kieran Dowell scored to make it 4-2, and send Forest to the next round.

Arsenal have conceded four penalties in their last three games.

Conte launches fresh attack on Mourinho

By Emmanuel Onminyi with Agency report,

Chelsea’s manager, Antonio Conte, has said, on Friday, Janury 5, that United boss, Jose Mourinho, is acting like he has “demenza senile”, launching a fierce attack on his rival, following the Portuguese’s comments the previous day.

Mourinho had earlier said that he did not need to “behave like a clown on the touchline” to prove his passion for his role at United. A statement which was interpreted as an attack on Conte, who is well known for his touchline dramas.

Conte hit bit back strongly at the former Barca boss, reminding him that he could described in such manner during his younger days. Mourinho famously ran along the Old Trafford touchline in 2004 to celebrate his Porto team’s Champions League winner against United.

“I think that he has to see himself in the past, maybe he was speaking about himself in the past, yeah?” Conte said.

“Maybe sometimes I think that someone forget what they said in the past or which is his behaviours and sometimes I think there is, I don’t know the name, demenza senile, when you are a bit [Conte taps his temple] when you forget what you do in the past.”

The former Juventus manager lapsed into his native Italian to explain himself, and the phrase he used translates into English as senile dementia, although Chelsea insisted he meant to say amnesia.

In the same vein, Conte fired at Arsenal’s boss, Arsene Wenger, who had said earlier on Friday that Eden Hazard, the Chelsea forward, ought to have been booked for diving in the 2-2 at Arsenal January 3.

“I think if Arsène Wenger watched the game again, [he should] understand that he was very lucky during the game for refereeing decisions,” Conte said.

He also referenced Arsenal’s luck with refereeing decisions in last season’s FA Cup final. Arsenal beat Chelsea and Alexis Sanchez’s opening goal followed a handball by him.

English FA axes Wenger over referee abuse

By Emmanuel Onminyi with Agency report,

Arsenal’s manager, Arsene Wenger, has been handed a three-match touchline ban and a 40,000 Pounds fine following a Football Association misconduct charge over comments he made about the refereeing of the Gunners’ game against West Brom on December 31, 2017.

He will start the punishment in the FA Cup at Nottingham Forest on Sunday, January 7, and it will take in two other away games, in the Carabao Cup at Chelsea and against Bournemouth in the Premier League.

A statement from the FA on Friday, January 5, read: “Arsène Wenger will serve a touchline ban for Arsenal’s next three matches after he was charged with misconduct.

“It follows an independent regulatory commission hearing today at which the Frenchman admitted that his language and behaviour in the match officials’ changing room after the West Brom game on Sunday was abusive, improper and questioned the integrity of the match referee. He was also fined £40,000.”

In related development, Wenger has been asked by the governing body to provide his observations on what he said about penalty decisions which went against Arsenal in matches against West Brom and Chelsea over the festive period.

Wenger said on Friday morning that he stood by his comments. He was angry that Calum Chambers was penalised by Mike Dean for a handball at West Brom and believes Eden Hazard should have been booked for diving when the Chelsea player won a penalty the manager described as “farcical”.

According to reports in The Guardian UK, Wenger appeared to have suggested, after the Chelsea game, that there may be a conspiracy against his team.

“We got again a farcical decision on a penalty but we knew that, as well, before,” he said. “I maintain what I said in the press conference [after the Chelsea game], 100%

“I have nothing to change in that. I’ve been in England for 21 years and I try to serve this game with honesty and integrity and when I have something to say I will say it. On that front, nothing will change, never.

Court hammers Arsenal’s youngster, Akpom, for drink-driving

By Emmanuel Onminyi with Agency report,

Arsenal starlet, Chuba Akpom, has been banned from driving after crashing his 60,000 Pounds Range Rover, while drunk on a double mixture of vodka and cranberry juice at a party.

At around 4.50am on the morning of December 17, the 22-year-old smashed a fence and furniture after losing control of his car near his home in Barnet, North London.

Police followed the trail of the destruction and gave Akpom a breath test. After it showed he was above the legal limit, Akpom was taken to police station and later charged with drink-driving.

According to the Sun UK, the player’s father, Akpom Chuba, after discovering the wreckage the following morning, feared his son had been kidnapped. The former Coventry City loanee, however, put everyone’s mind at rest after returning home, safe, in a taxi in the evening.

Meanwhile, at Willesden Magistrates Court, on January 1, he was fined 9,350 Pounds, and suspended from driving for 17 months after admitting driving the Range Rover with more than double the legal limit of alcohol in his system.

“His father woke up later and found the crashed car outside the gate with no driver and for a moment he was seriously concerned about what had happened to his son. He was about to ring hospitals and the police, fearing his son, being a high-profile footballer, had been abducted so this has affected the family as well.” Akpom’s lawyer, Aki Achillea, told the court.

In the meantime, the striker committed the offence during a night out partying with friends in London. After the group moved from the West End to a 21st Birthday bash at a club in Watford, the striker agreed to put vodka in two glasses of cranberry juice.