EPL

Newcastle announce Dan Ashworth as sporting director after agreeing Brighton release

By Sports Desk May 30, 2022

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  • Brighton confirm surprise departure of De Zerbi Brighton confirm surprise departure of De Zerbi

    Roberto De Zerbi will leave Brighton after the Seagulls' final game of the season against Manchester United on Sunday.

    Brighton confirmed the surprising news on Saturday, revealing that the club and the Italian coach had mutually agreed to part company.

    De Zerbi enjoyed great success in his first season with Brighton, guiding the club to Europe for the first time in their history after he took over from Graham Potter, who had left to join Chelsea.

    Brighton had a strong start to 2023-24, but a series of injuries to key players left them depleted and, though they made it through their Europa League group, which also included heavyweights Ajax and Marseille, they were subsequently knocked out by Roma.

    Their form in the Premier League has also dropped off, with Brighton managing just four wins since the turn of the year, and ahead of Sunday's meeting with United, the highest they can finish is 10th.

    In fact, across their first 19 Premier League matches this season, Brighton were the fifth-highest scorers in the Premier League (38 goals) and had a conversion rate of 13.3 per cent.

    However, in their last 18 games since the turn of the year, only Everton (15) have scored fewer goals than the Seagulls (17), with their conversion rate of 6.6 per cent the worst of any side in this time.

    De Zerbi was linked with taking over at Liverpool following Jurgen Klopp's departure, but the Reds have instead turned to Feyenoord's Arne Slot.

    Brighton chairman Tony Bloom said: "Roberto has given us two excellent seasons of service in which he has led the club to new heights, not least our first ever European campaign which will live long in the memory of Albion fans.

    "We have mutually agreed to end Roberto’s contract at a time that suits both parties allowing us the earliest opportunity to plan for next season, and Roberto plenty of time to consider his next move and his future.

    "I am sure our fans will give Roberto and his staff a wonderful and fully deserved send-off. In the meantime, I'd like to thank Roberto and his staff for all their hard work in the past two seasons. They all leave our club on good terms and with our very best wishes for the future."

    De Zerbi said: "I am very sad to be leaving Brighton, but I am very proud of what my players and staff have achieved with the support of everyone at the club and our amazing fans in the past two historical seasons.

    "We have agreed to end my time at Brighton so that the club and I can continue to work in the way that suits each of us best, following our own ideas and visions, as well as our work and human values.

    "I have really enjoyed an intense and challenging two years working in the Premier League, not least competing in four major competitions this season. Leaving now provides me with time to take a break before deciding on my future plans."

  • Newcastle 'determined to finish on a high' at Brentford, Howe insists Newcastle 'determined to finish on a high' at Brentford, Howe insists

    Eddie Howe says Newcastle United are "determined to finish on a high" when they travel to Brentford on the final day.

    The Magpies, who are seventh in the Premier League, travel to the Gtech Community Stadium still in the hunt to secure European football for a second successive season.

    Howe's side trail sixth-place Chelsea by three points but, boasting a superior goal difference, can leapfrog the Blues if they beat Brentford and Mauricio Pochettino's men lose at home to Bournemouth.

    The Newcastle head coach knows their destiny is not in their hands, but urged his players to be ready to pounce.

    "It's a big last day for us, there's no denying that," he told reporters during his pre-match press conference. "We go into game knowing we have to do our part, which is win the game.

    "That is no mean feat, it's going to be a tough game, and then we're in the hands of other clubs.

    "The players are determined to finish on a high. We could have got more from the last two games and we didn't.

    "We have to do everything we can to do our part. What we don't want to do is for the other teams to make a mistake and we're not there to capitalise on it."

    Meanwhile 16th-place Brentford, who can climb to 15th by bettering Everton's result at title-chasing Arsenal, are set to finish in the bottom six - their lowest final position in the Premier League. 

    Although Thomas Frank admits his sights are set on achieving bigger and better with the Bees, the head coach insists it has been a fruitful campaign with the club's top-flight status assured for another year at least.

    "This season has been a good success," he said. "Every year you are in the Premier League is a success if you are a club of our stature. I just hate saying that because we want so much more.

    "We want to be an asset to the league, we want to dream big and we want to do something special. But I am an optimistic person, I am positive, and I believe so much in this club. 

    "The culture is good. There's a good atmosphere. We are pulling in the same direction, we are aligned."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Brentford - Bryan Mbeumo

    Mbeumo has been directly involved in more goals than any other Brentford player in the Premier League this season with 15 (nine goals, six assists).

    That is despite the winger playing just 24 of the Bees' 37 matches during the campaign.

    Newcastle United - Anthony Gordon

    Gordon has had a hand in two goals (one goal, one assist) in Newcastle's last two away games, taking his overall tally of direct goal involvements for the season to 21 (11 goals, 10 assists).

    With Alexander Isak also boasting 21 involvements (20 goals, one assist), it marks the first time two Magpies players have reached that mark in a Premier League campaign since 1996-97, when Alan Shearer (25 goals, seven assists) and Les Ferdinand (16 goals, eight assists) achieved the feat.

    MATCH PREDICTION: NEWCASTLE UNITED

    Newcastle have prevailed in each of the last four meetings between the sides, and are unbeaten in all five Premier League encounters.

    Brentford have only faced Crystal Palace (six) more in the competition without ever winning than against the Magpies (five).

    Newcastle have lost their final league game in just one of the last nine seasons (winning seven, drawing one), with that sole defeat coming against champions Liverpool in 2019-20.

    The Magpies are also unbeaten on each of the last six occasions they have finished a league season in London (winning five, drawing one).

    You must go back to a 3-2 reverse at Tottenham on the final day of the 1972-73 campaign for their last such defeat.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Brentford - 37%
    Newcastle United - 34.9%
    Draw - 28.1%

  • Al-Nassr 1-1 Al-Hilal: Mitrovic scores last-gasp penalty Al-Nassr 1-1 Al-Hilal: Mitrovic scores last-gasp penalty

    Aleksandar Mitrovic scored a penalty in the 10th minute of second-half stoppage time as Al-Hilal denied Cristiano Ronaldo's Al-Nassr victory in a 1-1 draw.

    Mitrovic netted his 27th Saudi Pro League goal of the campaign after Sadio Mane was harshly judged to have fouled Saud Abdulhamid in the area.

    Mane stuck out an arm to shield the ball, catching his opponent in the throat, though the contact appeared to have been outside of the box.

    Mitrovic made no mistake to keep Al-Hilal's unbeaten campaign going.

    The Serbian's spot-kick cancelled out Otavio's first-minute opener, with Ronaldo having set up his compatriot.

    Champions Al-Hilal remain 12 points clear of Al-Nassr at the summit of the Pro League standings.

    Data Debrief: Ronaldo the provider

    Ronaldo leads the scoring charts in Saudi Arabia this season, though he had to settle for an assist on Friday.

    That came from the only chance he created, with the 39-year-old limited to 25 touches, though he did have four shots.

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