'I can't control what is written' – Arteta 'fully focused' on Arsenal amid Real Madrid rumours

By Sports Desk March 08, 2023

Mikel Arteta remains "fully focused" on guiding Arsenal to Premier League glory this season amid rumours he is wanted by Real Madrid to replace Carlo Ancelotti.

Arsenal are five points clear of Manchester City at the top of the English top flight in pursuit of their first title since the 2003-04 campaign.

Arteta has been widely praised for his work at Emirates Stadium in his third full season in charge, with a report from Spain on Wednesday suggesting Madrid could make a move.

Ancelotti is said to be under pressure as Madrid head coach, despite guiding the club to a LaLiga and Champions League double last season.

However, when asked about the speculation ahead of Arsenal's Europa League last-16 first-leg tie with Sporting CP, Arteta said he is giving it little thought.

"It's things that managers or players can’t control, what is written," he said at Wednesday's pre-match press conference. 

"What I can tell you is that I'm fully focused on what I'm doing here and extremely proud and grateful to do what I'm doing in this football club. That's it."

Arteta's focus will switch from the Premier League to Europa League on Thursday when Arsenal take on Portuguese heavyweights Sporting at Estadio Jose Alvalade.

It is the third of six games in the space of 18 days for the Gunners, but Arteta hinted he will not look to rotate his squad for the European tie.

"We have one team and we have to play the games with the best possible players to win it," he said. "There have been moments where we have made eight changes. 

"We try to accommodate. Players have moments throughout the season where they're available and when they're not. For sure we will try to pick the best team to win the game.

"Of course everyone wants to play. It's true as well when we've wanted to rotate players they've been injured and unavailable. Tomorrow that may be the case. 

"Sometimes it's been difficult and players have to deserve to play the minutes. Being fair in football is very difficult. 

"You have to be really good at communicating your decisions to help players understand what you do, but all the time you have to think for the best of the team. 

"We want everybody to feel important and we are going to try to make them feel like that."

Gabriel Jesus took part in training on the eve of the Sporting match, but Arteta gave little away when asked if the striker could make his first appearance since November.

"News on the squad will be tomorrow," he said. "We have brought a few players and you will see who is available."

Asked if Kieran Tierney, Leandro Trossard and Eddie Nketiah are available, Arteta said: "Let’s see how they evolve. 

"We're trying to accommodate everybody and get them in the best position for tomorrow."

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    Jude Bellingham was sent off after the final whistle after being denied a late winner in Real Madrid’s 2-2 draw at Valencia.

    The England midfielder, making his return from injury, thought he had headed home a cross deep into stoppage time at the Mestalla but the referee had already blown for full time.

    Real players surrounded the official in a chaotic aftermath and Bellingham was shown the red card before the players left the field.

    It made for a dramatic ending to a compelling LaLiga clash in which the leaders had fought back from 2-0 down with two Vinicius Junior goals.

    Valencia had stunned Carlo Ancelotti’s side by pouncing on two mistakes to score twice in quick succession through Hugo Duro and Roman Yaremchuk.

    The result meant Real missed the chance to move nine points clear at the top and second-placed Girona will have the chance to cut the gap when they play Mallorca on Sunday.

    It was an emotional night for Valencia, who were returning to action for the first time since a deadly fire in their city, with tributes paid to victims and other people affected before kick-off.

    The game got off to a slow start as the visitors struggled to create any meaningful opportunities despite dominating possession.

    It was not until the 23rd minute that Real caused any alarm in the Valencia box as Vinicius, returning to a ground where he was racially abused last season, went down under a challenge from Dimitri Foulquier. No penalty was given.

    Valencia took the lead against the run of play in the 27th minute after Real lost possession.

    There was an element of fortune about it as Foulquier crossed to the far post and Fran Perez miskicked his attempt to clip back across goal. Duro, who had not been expecting the ball, reacted quickly to head home.

    Dani Carvajal then compounded the setback moments later with an underhit backpass that Yaremchuk seized upon to round Andriy Lunin and slot in.

    Real recovered and Bellingham, back in the side after three weeks out, created a chance for Federico Valverde but Giorgi Mamardashvili was equal to his effort.

    The pressure paid off in first-half stoppage time as a Carvajal cross took deflections off a defender and Mamardashvili and found its way to Vinicius for a simple tap-in.

    Real upped the tempo after the break and Vinicius lashed a shot wide before Bellingham, who has enjoyed a stunning first season at the Spanish giants, wrong-footed the defence and forced Mamardashvili to save with his legs.

    Diego Lopez brought a good save from Lunin at the other end but further Real pressure paid off when Vinicius rose to head in a Brahim Diaz cross.

    There was a long delay late on after Valencia’s Mouctar Diakhaby suffered a serious-looking injury and was carried off on a stretcher.

    Real had a scare in stoppage time when Valencia were awarded a penalty for a foul on Duro by Nacho but the decision was overturned by VAR.

    It was not the end of the drama but Bellingham’s effort came too late to count.

  • Leaders Real Madrid fight back to share points with Valencia Leaders Real Madrid fight back to share points with Valencia

    LaLiga leaders Real Madrid came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Valencia in an ill-tempered finish at the Mestalla that saw Jude Bellingham sent off after the final whistle.

    The hosts scored two goals in four minutes midway through the first half from Hugo Duro and Roman Yaremchuk, but Vinicius Junior pulled one back on the stroke of half-time.

    Vinicius then got a second in the 76th minute to level it up.

    There was late drama as Valencia’s Mouctar Diakhaby suffered an apparently serious injury in the closing minutes. Moments after play restarted the referee pointed for a Valencia penalty after Nacho went flying in on Duro, but VAR came to Madrid’s rescue as the decision was overturned.

    As the players went off, Bellingham was sent off, apparently for dissent, in what was his first match back after three games out with an ankle injury.

    Youssef En-Nesyri’s early brace set Sevilla on their way to a 3-2 win over Real Sociedad.

    Andre Silva pulled one back for the visitors in first-half stoppage time, but Sergio Ramos restored Sevilla’s two-goal advantage midway through the second half, with Brais Mendez’s late goal for Sociedad mere consolation.

    Mason Greenwood was on the scoresheet as Getafe took a point from an entertaining 3-3 draw with Las Palmas.

    Greenwood added to Jaime Mata’s early goal as the hosts roared into a two-goal lead inside 15 minutes. Sandro Ramirez pulled one back before Nemanja Maksimovic made it 3-1 at the break, but Las Palmas earned a point via second-half goals from Sergi Cardona and Munir El Haddadi.

    Javi Hernandez’s stoppage-time goal cancelled out Florian Lejeune’s strike as Cadiz salvaged a point from a 1-1 draw at Rayo Vallecano.

    Serhou Guirassy scored twice as Stuttgart won 3-2 at Wolfsburg to close the gap to second-placed Bayern Munich to four points.

    Guirassy put Stuttgart in front after 14 minutes, and although Joakim Maehle levelled early in the second half, the Wolfsburg defender was soon guilty of fouling Enzo Millot in the box, giving Guirassy the opportunity to restore Stuttgart’s lead from the penalty spot.

    Josha Vagnoman added a third in the 77th minute and they needed the cushion as Lukas Nmecha pulled one back for the hosts late on.

    Borussia Dortmund remain fourth after goals from Karim Adeyemi and Ian Maatsen earned a 2-0 win at Union Berlin.

    Leipzig stayed one point back in fifth with a 4-1 win at Bochum, who took a seventh minute lead though Maximilian Wittek but collapsed midway through the second half.

    Dani Olmo levelled before the break, but three goals in five minutes from Lois Openda, Ivan Ordets and Yussuf Poulsen settled it before Bochum’s Moritz-Broni Kwarteng saw red late on.

    Struggling Mainz took an early lead against Borussia Monchengladbach through Jonathan Burkhardt but could not hold on as Nathan N’Goumou levelled early in the second half, with Mainz’s Dominik Kohr sent off late on.

    An embarrassing own goal from Benedikt Gimber helped Eintracht Frankfurt to a 2-1 win at Heidenheim, while Philip Tietz and Ermedin Demirovic scored two each as Augsburg thrashed Darmstadt 6-0.

    Roma cruised to a 4-1 win over Monza. Lorenzo Pellegrini and Romelu Lukaku put them in control before half-time with Paulo Dybala adding a third before Leandro Paredes’ penalty. Andrea Carboni got a late consolation goal for the hosts.

    Hassane Kamara struck in first-half stoppage time to cancel out Loum Tchanouna’s early goal as Udinese drew 1-1 with Salernitana, but the hosts finished with 10 men as Festy Ebosele saw red in the second half.

    Torino and Fiorentina shared the points from a 0-0 draw in which Torino’s Samuele Ricci was sent off in first-half stoppage time.

    Marseille had five different players on the scoresheet as they enjoyed a 5-1 away win at Clermont Foot.

    Iliman Ndiaye got things started in the first half, and although Bilal Boutobba levelled early in the second half, Marseille seized control with strikes from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Jonathan Clauss, Luis Henrique and Faris Moumagna.

    Jonathan David’s 56th minute strike earned Lille a 1-0 win away to Reims.

  • Nigel Adkins knows Tranmere’s win over Sutton was ‘important result’ Nigel Adkins knows Tranmere’s win over Sutton was ‘important result’

    Tranmere boss Nigel Adkins was clearly relieved after his side secured a 1-0 win over Sutton thanks to Rob Apter’s late strike.

    Apter delighted the Prenton Park faithful following a run of four defeats in Rovers’ previous five matches.

    Adkins said: “It’s the right result and it’s an important result, even if it did take us a long time to get there.

    “Great credit to the players, though. We’ve had two really long journeys this week and you could see how the opposition are.

    “They’ve got some big players and the goalkeeper likes to kick the ball the full length of the pitch.

    “We have to compete, but we did that and we’ve got the result. Maybe I’d have liked the players to pass the ball a bit better and be better in possession, but again huge credit to the players because they’ve ground this one out.

    “The application and the character shown by the players really pleased me overall. Sometimes it is fine margins – that’s the reality of it in this division.

    “There are a lot of good things that we’ve done of late, and we have to make sure we keep plugging away because we’re not far away at all.”

    After a largely uneventful first period, there was drama shortly after the restart when Rovers fluffed a penalty chance.

    After Ryan Jackson had brought down Harvey Saunders in the box, Sutton keeper Steve Arnold turned hero as he brilliantly saved Connor Jennings’ spot-kick.

    Both sides then went on to trade numerous chances, before Apter fired home the dramatic winner with time running out.

    Sutton boss Steve Morison has won just one game since taking over the reins at the start of the year and his side remain six points from safety.

    Morison said: “I’m just gutted for the players and the fans that travelled up here.

    “We gave a decent account of ourselves I thought, and carried out our game-plan pretty well.

    “We knew what we were going to be up against here, and I know I might sound like a broken record saying that I thought we performed well after losing one-nil.

    “The lads need to find it within themselves to get over the line in games. We were excellent on Tuesday night, so it’s really frustrating that we haven’t been able to get something here today.

    “If you don’t shoot you don’t score, or if you don’t buy a lottery ticket you don’t win – I’ve said that to the lads.

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    “We just need to get to those areas and be free to put the ball in the back of the net and show no fear.”

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