EPL

William Saliba knows Arsenal cannot afford to drop any more points in title race

By Sports Desk April 21, 2024

Defender William Saliba knows Arsenal have to win their remaining five Premier League games if they are going to become champions.

The Gunners returned to the top of the table after a 2-0 win at Wolves on Saturday night and are now level on points with Liverpool following their win at Fulham on Sunday.

Both sides could move further ahead of Manchester City, who were in FA Cup semi-final action on Saturday and do not play in the league until Thursday night – by which point they will have two games in hand.

The Gunners could move four points clear of City if they beat Chelsea on Tuesday night and with games against Tottenham, Bournemouth, Manchester United and Everton to come, Saliba says Arsenal cannot afford to drop any more points.

“Of course, anything can happen in the last five games,” the defender said.

“If we want something at the end we have to win. It will be very tough because we are so close to Liverpool and City but we started well today and we have to keep going.

“If we want to put pressure on, we have to win, to win and keep going like this. We know it will be hard but we are prepared.”

The victory at Molineux, secured by goals from Leandro Trossard and Martin Odegaard, was a good response to a difficult week for Arsenal following back-to-back defeats against Aston Villa and Bayern Munich.

“We know it’s really hard to come back after the two last games because we lost but we knew how important this game was,” he said.

“We came back with a win and a clean sheet. We are happy and we have to keep going like this. We have good experience from last year and this season too.

“We know it can be up and down very quickly so we are well prepared.”

Wolves are crippled by injuries, with all of their main attacking options ruled out or not fit enough to start.

But boss Gary O’Neil said Pablo Sarabia and Mario Lemina, who came off the bench against the Gunners, should be able to start against Bournemouth on Wednesday.

“I was trying to pick a team with the rest of the week in mind, trying to juggle it with just 10 available that can complete 90 minutes,” he said.

“It was a tough call but we felt we’d be able to produce that high-energy performance and get a couple of them a bit of a rest.

“Pablo’s groin settled down even further and hopefully it will do them both good not to have gone through 90 minutes and they will be feeling a bit better come Wednesday.”

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    Christian Pulisic felt the United States made a flying start to the Copa America with their impressive victory over Bolivia in Texas.

    Milan star Pulisic stole the show with an eye-catching strike into the top corner, and he added an assist for Folarin Balogun as the USA opened their campaign with a 2-0 win on home soil on Sunday.

    Pulisic became only the second USA player after Clint Dempsey to register a goal and an assist in a Copa America match, while he is also now the country's quickest player to reach 30 goals, doing so in his 69th game.

    An inspired performance from the captain also ended a woeful run for the USA against CONMEBOL sides at this tournament, given Gregg Berhalter's side had previously lost eight of 10 such games.

    Pulisic felt that USA could easily have won by a greater margin, with the strong performance making a statement ahead of their next group games against Panama and Uruguay.

    "We should build some confidence from this and feel good," Pulisic said after the game.

    "We came out flying with a lot of intensity and obviously that early goal helped us a lot.

    "It's Copa America, it's a big tournament. I feel like I'm always pretty excited after I score, but it's a big moment, it's a major tournament.

    "All around, it was a pretty dominant performance. I think we could have put it away and had more goals there.

    "The games are just going to get tougher and tougher as the tournament goes on, so we have got to be ready." 

    Defender Antonee Robinson also felt USA could easily have won by more.

    "If we were being picky, we could have been a lot more clinical," the Fulham player said. "We could have put another two or three goals away, but getting off to a win to start with is massive for us.

    "Build the confidence, show we are here to win, here to play and it puts us in good stead for the next game."

    USA head coach Berhalter was delighted with the impact made by Pulisic, whose opening strike had an expected goals (xG) tally of just 0.037.

    The tournament hosts racked up 20 shots, finding the target with eight, compared to tallies of six and three respectively for Bolivia.

    As part of an all-action display, Pulisic created three chances, sent in 10 crosses and superbly completed 21 of the game-high 22 passes he attempted in the final third.

    "He is a selfless leader," said Berhalter. "He goes out and competes and works really hard. That helps the team.

    "Then you add to the fact that he is highly skilled and can make plays on the offensive end and create chances. It is a great combination, and what you see is him supporting his teammates, him backing guys, him pushing guys. 

    "To me, it was an outstanding performance. He got coach's man of the match and it was much deserved.

    "We will always look at chance creation as a marker of performance, and I think we created enough chances. 

    "I like the performance for an opening game against a difficult opponent. We are in a good position."

    Bolivia, meanwhile, have now lost their last four international outings by a concerning margin of 9-1, having suffered defeats against Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia and USA.

    They face Uruguay, who won their opener 3-1 against Panama, on Thursday.

    USA will play Panama earlier on the same day before concluding their Group C campaign against Uruguay on July 1.

  • Bielsa left wanting more despite Uruguay's winning start at Copa America Bielsa left wanting more despite Uruguay's winning start at Copa America

    Marcelo Bielsa insists there is room for improvement for Uruguay, despite kicking off their Copa America campaign with a 3-1 win over Panama in Florida. 

    Uruguay's win saw them move level on points with hosts the United States following their victory over Bolivia in the other Group C encounter. 

    The 15-time winners were rewarded for their fast start when Maximilian Araujo curled home his first international goal in the 16th minute. 

    However, Panama would grow into the contest as Jose Fajardo and Jose Rodriguez squandered golden opportunities for Thomas Christiansen's side. 

    And their wastefulness was punished late on as Darwin Nunez, who had missed several chances in the game, settled Uruguay's nerves with a calm finish. 

    Matias Vina furthered La Celeste's advantage in the first minute of injury-time with a header, only for Michael Amir Murillo to net a late consolation for Panama. 

    However, Bielsa was quick to temper expectations despite the triumph, insisting his side must improve to secure a record 16th Copa America crown. 

    The 68-year-old took charge of Uruguay in May last year, beating both Argentina and Brazil in World Cup qualifiers. 

    "When it comes to Uruguay's aspirations, we will see that and build it match by match," he told reporters.

    "My expectation is that each match will increasingly help us to improve on our level. Uruguay has players of a very good level and we need to see if I can build with those players."

    Uruguay continue their group campaign against Bolivia in New Jersey on Thursday, before facing the USA at the Arrowhead Stadium next Tuesday. 

  • Bielsa left wanting more despite winning start at Copa America Bielsa left wanting more despite winning start at Copa America

    Marcelo Bielsa insists there is room for improvement for Uruguay, despite kicking off their Copa America campaign with a 3-1 win over Panama in Florida. 

    Uruguay's win saw them move level on points with hosts the United States following their victory over Bolivia in the other Group C encounter. 

    The 15-time winners were rewarded for their fast start when Maximilian Araujo curled home his first international goal in the 16th minute. 

    However, Panama would grow into the contest as Jose Fajardo and Jose Rodriguez squandered golden opportunities for Thomas Christiansen's side. 

    And their wastefulness was punished late on as Darwin Nunez, who had missed several chances in the game, settled Uruguay's nerves with a calm finish. 

    Matias Vina furthered La Celeste's advantage in the first minute of injury-time with a header, only for Michael Amir Murillo to net a late consolation for Panama. 

    However, Bielsa was quick to temper expectations despite the triumph, insisting his side must improve to secure a record 16th Copa America crown. 

    The 68-year-old took charge of Uruguay in May last year, beating both Argentina and Brazil in World Cup qualifiers. 

    "When it comes to Uruguay's aspirations, we will see that and build it match by match," he told reporters.

    "My expectation is that each match will increasingly help us to improve on our level. Uruguay has players of a very good level and we need to see if I can build with those players."

    Uruguay continue their group campaign against Bolivia in New Jersey on Thursday, before facing the USA at the Arrowhead Stadium next Tuesday. 

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