EPL

Football rumours: Arsenal keen for new striker amid Gabriel Jesus injury fears

By Sports Desk February 28, 2024

What the papers say

According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal is on the hunt for a new striker and amid concerns over the injury record of Brazil’s Gabriel Jesus, they are shopping for other options with Brentford’s Ivan Toney, Napoli’s Victor Osimhen, Bologna’s Joshua Zirkzee and Sporting’s Viktor Gyokeres at the top of the list.

Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson, 29, is the top target for Bayern Munich as they seek to replace Canada’s Alphonso Davies, who seems poised for a switch to Real Madrid, writes the Daily Mail.

Liverpool are keen on nabbing 22-year-old Porto midfielder Alan Varela, says the Mirror.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Ethan Mbappe: As part of a deal to sign his older brother Kylian Mbappe, Real Madrid have also agreed to sign the France forward’s 17-year-old brother from Paris St Germain, according to OK Diario.

David de Gea: Barcelona are considering a move for former Manchester United goalkeeper, writes Mundo Deportivo, with the 33-year-old currently a free agent.

Omar Marmoush: The Egypt international is attracting interest from Newcastle United and Tottenham after the 25-year-old striker scored 10 goals in 18 games this season for Eintracht Frankfurt, reports Bild.

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    Everton eased their relegation worries with 2-0 victory over fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest, who once again had reason to feel aggrieved about refereeing decisions going against them.

    A rare goal from Idrissa Gueye was followed by a similar long-range strike from Dwight McNeil on his 200th Premier League appearance to secure a second-successive home win – sandwiching Monday’s 6-0 debacle at Chelsea – and lift Sean Dyche’s side five points clear of the bottom three.

    But Toffees defender Ashley Young lived a charmed life after appearing somewhat fortunate to escape three penalty claims against him, which the visitors felt were all more than justified.

    Both clubs have had cause to rail against the Premier League this season: the hosts had eight points deducted for breaches of profitability and sustainability rules, although they are appealing against the latest docking of two.

    Forest, whose appeal against the four they had taken away will be heard next week, have been so incensed by some of the officiating against them they appointed former referee Mark Clattenburg as a consultant analyst.

    He is likely to be over-employed again after Young’s tackles on Gio Reyna and Callum Hudson-Odoi, whose shot also hit the defender’s arm, were all waved on by referee Anthony Taylor with VAR offering no reason to reverse any of the decisions to leave them a point above the relegation zone.

    Dyche made four alterations from the Stamford Bridge embarrassment but it was not the only change as the manager abandoned his usual matchday uniform of black mackintosh and black suit for training gear.

    But if he was hoping to give off the air of a man confident of his game plan – having said on Friday he had told the players he would not allow them to get him the sack – it was not apparent for almost half-an-hour.

    Former Liverpool defender Neco Williams had an early shot parried by Jordan Pickford; Everton’s first attempt on target – Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s weak header – did not arrive until the 27th minute.

    Their next attempt proved far more valuable, however. Gueye had previously scored one Premier League goal from 99 attempts from outside the area so it was perhaps not surprising Forest’s defence were content to stand off the midfielder when he carried the ball forward previously, working on the assumption Everton had more dangerous players in possession.

    But that tactic was misguided on this occasion as Gueye controlled Ola Aina’s poor header and found the gap low down between Matz Sels’ right hand and the far post from just outside the area.

    It was only the Senegal international’s fifth goal in 187 league appearances across two spells for the club and his first in the league goal at Goodison since February 2017.

    His only other strike this season was a late winner in the 3-2 victory at Crystal Palace in mid-November.

    Pickford’s brilliant save from a Chris Wood shot – five minutes before the interval – ensured that lead was maintained, as did VAR’s insistence Young’s arm was in a natural position from Hudson-Odoi’s volley.

    Calvert-Lewin squandered the chance to give Everton some breathing space early in the second half when he fired wide from James Tarkowski’s knockdown, before Young tested the officials’ judgement once again when he went into the back of Hudson-Odoi.

    Forest were still dictating play when Morgan Gibbs-White guided a shot over Pickford but wide and that miss proved costly when McNeil, like Gueye in the first half, squeezed a low shot in between Sels’ outstretched arm and the post, the ball going in off the inside of the upright.

    Striker Beto, on as a replacement for Calvert-Lewin, departed on a stretcher late on after a clash of heads but even 17 minutes of additional time were not enough for a toothless Forest to launch a comeback.

  • Arijanet Muric backs Burnley to win their battle for Premier League survival Arijanet Muric backs Burnley to win their battle for Premier League survival

    Burnley goalkeeper Arijanet Muric believes his side will win their survival bid and extend their stay in the Premier League.

    The Clarets have been in the bottom three all season but have taken 10 points from their last seven games after Saturday’s 4-1 win at relegation rivals Sheffield United.

    Muric, who made a string of outstanding saves at Bramall Lane to help secure Vincent Kompany’s side their second league win of the year, said: “I think we as a team you can see after every game the energy’s back.

    “We believe in it every day, it’s not just saying it. Everyone looks like we believe in it. We had some good games in the previous games and I think we’ll be good. We’re going to do it I think.”

    Burnley climbed to within three points of 17th-placed Nottingham Forest before their game on Sunday at fellow strugglers Everton.

    Muric made crucial saves to deny Oli McBurnie and Ben Brereton Diaz before Jacob Bruun Larsen and Lorenz Assignon gave the Clarets a barely-deserved 2-0 half-time lead.

    Gus Hamer pulled one back for the Blades but Lyle Foster and Johann Berg Gudmundsson added further goals for the visitors.

    Muric also made a brilliant flying save to keep out James McAtee’s curling effort and when asked about his performance, the Kosovo keeper said: “Yes, it’s my job.

    “Today it went well and I’m happy that I could save some goals and we could take the win.”

    Blades boss Chris Wilder conceded after the game that his side’s season was over as they remain cast adrift at the bottom with five games to go.

    Home goalkeeper Ivo Grbic turned in another unconvincing display as he was beaten too easily by Burnley’s first two scruffy goals and Wilder said he was considering taking him out of the firing line.

    The Croatia international was drafted in during the January transfer window after a series of mistakes from previous number one Wes Foderingham earlier in the season.

    Wilder said: “Obviously we made a decision and it was an opportunity to bring (Grbic) in. There was a reason we brought him in, we weren’t comfortable in that position.

    “Let’s get it right, I don’t think anyone was comfortable in that position. So everyone was clamouring and we thought it was the right thing to do, but obviously it’s not been a great start for the big man.

    “Goals are going in too easily, I don’t think there’s much protection in front of him from a defensive point of view.”

    Asked if Grbic could be dropped for Wednesday’s game at Manchester Unmited, Wilder added: “Well, we’ll make a decision over the weekend. It’s something we talk non-stop about, positions and how we want to set up.”

  • Bernardo Silva: I went through many emotions from penalty miss to Wembley winner Bernardo Silva: I went through many emotions from penalty miss to Wembley winner

    Bernardo Silva admitted he had been through a range of emotions after bouncing back from his European penalty heartache with an FA Cup semi-final winner.

    The Portugal midfielder scored Manchester City’s late clincher as the holders ground out a hard-fought 1-0 win over Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday to book a return to the final.

    It came less than three days after he had badly fluffed his lines with a poor spot-kick as City were agonisingly knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid in a draining encounter on Wednesday.

    Silva released a lot of emotion in a vigorous celebration after his 84th-minute strike and he revealed that was culmination of a lot of factors.

    He said: “After a very frustrating week for all of us it’s good to get back on the winning side and qualify for another final and another chance to win a trophy. We’re happy.

    “Wednesday was a frustrating night for me. It was tough. First night, I didn’t sleep much. Second night, you sleep a bit better, the third night you sleep almost the whole night.

    “It is what it is. It’s football, it’s our profession and we have to deal with those emotions.

    “The way this team reacts is always really good. Once again we showed character and that no matter what happens, we stick together and go for it.”

    Silva – one of two City players to miss in the shootout loss along with Mateo Kovacic – was embarrassed as he chipped tamely into the hands of Real goalkeeper Andriy Lunin from the spot.

    He said that he had seen Lunin move early for the previous penalty, taken by Julian Alvarez, and felt striking down the middle would be a good idea.

    Silva said: “I was waiting, I wanted to be the second or the third penalty to see the reaction from the keeper in the first or the first two penalties.

    “And he moved early, that’s why I thought the middle was good because in moments of pressure the keepers, 99 per cent of the time, they move. But he chose not to move and fair play to him, well done.”

    Silva denied a theory that the delay to his penalty, caused by the ball needing to be retrieved from the crowd, had affected him mentally.

    He said: “For me, no. My decision was made. I was going shoot the penalty in the middle.”

    City showed the resolve of champions to hang in and edge out Chelsea, who dominated the tie at Wembley.

    The Londoners were left to rue wasting a host of chances, with misfiring striker Nicolas Jackson the prime culprit. They were also frustrated not to be awarded a penalty after a Cole Palmer free-kick struck the arm of Jack Grealish.

    Veteran defender Thiago Silva said: “I think it’s laughable. I don’t like to talk about the referees, especially after a defeat as it looks like an excuse, but I believe VAR could have sent the ref to the monitor.

    “If he goes to the monitor and decides not to give a pen, I’m fine with it, but go and see it.”

    Silva, 39, is out of contract at the end of the season and promised to reveal his future plans soon.

    The Brazilian said: “You are going to know in the coming days. I don’t want to say anything now after a defeat, I’m sad about the result, but sooner or later the news will come out.

    “I do have a decision made in my mind, but it’s not the moment to share it.”

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