Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 Lille: Marquinhos and Di Maria rescue leaders after Messi substitution

By Sports Desk October 29, 2021

Angel Di Maria completed Paris Saint-Germain's 2-1 comeback win against Lille in a game that saw Lionel Messi substituted at half-time.

Messi was a fitness doubt ahead of Friday's match at the Parc des Princes after missing training on the eve of the contest, and he was taken off with PSG a goal behind, his Ligue 1 goal drought continuing.

Jonathan David's 31st-minute strike had reigning Ligue 1 champions Lille on course for a third successive win over the current pacesetters, but Marquinhos equalised 16 minutes from time and Di Maria fired in a late winner.

Mauricio Pochettino's PSG side have now won all eight home matches this season, scoring at least twice in each of those, and are 10 points clear at the top of Ligue 1 having played a game more than second-placed Lens.

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  • Wolves v Arsenal: ‘What we still have to play for is beautiful’ – Arteta Wolves v Arsenal: ‘What we still have to play for is beautiful’ – Arteta

    Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta set out to remind his team that they still have something “beautiful” to play for despite their Champions League exit.

    The Gunners slipped out of UEFA’s flagship club competition in midweek when they went down 1-0 to Bayern Munich, losing 3-2 on aggregate.

    That defeat followed on from a 2-0 loss to Aston Villa last Sunday – a reverse that significantly dented Arsenal’s title hopes, with the Gunners now two points behind Manchester City who, after this weekend, will have a game in hand.

    Arsenal face Wolves on Saturday and, with City in FA Cup action, a win would see them move back to the top of the table, at least temporarily, so Arteta offered a reminder that all is not lost.

    “I can guarantee you we are fully focused on Wolves and everybody's lifted,” he said following the loss in Munich.

    “What we still have to play is beautiful and I said before, it's time to be next to our players and in this moment, not when you win 10 in a row and a draw, that's easy to prize our players and to be behind them and to say really nice things. The moment is now to be next to them.”

    On Friday, in his pre-match press conference, Arteta added: “As an experience, [the Champions League was] the best one.

    “I am now fully focused on the times ahead of us. We are now behind Manchester City and will give it a good go. The context is clear. If we win we are top of the league.”

    Wolves sit 11th, though they could do with snapping a four-game winless streak in order to get their European hopes back on track.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Wolves – Matheus Cunha

    Cunha has been involved in nine goals in his last nine Premier League games, scoring six and assisting three. His 11 goals overall this season is the fourth most by a Wolves player in a single Premier League campaign after Raul Jimenez (17 in 2019-20, 13 in 2018-19) and Steven Fletcher (12 in 2011-12).

    Arsenal – Bukayo Saka

    Saka has been involved in eight goals in his last seven Premier League away games, scoring seven and assisting one. His 13 away goal involvements overall this term (eight goals, five assists) is the most by an Arsenal player in a single Premier League campaign since Alexis Sanchez’s 20 in 2016-17.

    MATCH PREDICTION: ARSENAL WIN

    Arsenal lost a Premier League game for the first time in 2024 against Villa last time out. Since the start of last season, only twice have the Gunners suffered consecutive league defeats, doing so in May 2023 (v Brighton and Nottingham Forest) and December this season (v West Ham and Fulham).

    Wolves are winless in their last four Premier League games (D2 L2), though they have won their last two at Molineux against sides starting the day in the top two of the table, beating Man City 2-1 in September and Spurs by the same score in November.

    Arsenal have scored in their last 32 meetings with Wolves in all competitions.

    Wolves have now lost each of their last five against the Gunners, failing to score in both home defeats in that run.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Wolves – 21.5%

    Arsenal – 51.2%

    Draw – 27.3%

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    Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp remains positive about their place in the title race and still believes if they win all remaining six matches they will be Premier League champions again.

    A difficult run of results – starting with a draw at Manchester United and followed by home defeats to Atalanta and Crystal Palace – ended with a 1-0 Europa League victory in Bergamo but that could not prevent their exit from the Europa League 3-1 on aggregate at the quarter-final stage.

    A first clean sheet in 10 matches was a boost to confidence, especially as they continue to struggle to find their best form at the other end of the pitch, and Klopp thinks the two-point gap to leaders Manchester City can be overhauled with a perfect run in.

    “It’s not obviously in our hands, it is not about that,” said Klopp.

    “I think if we would win all our games there is a good chance we will be champion. If not there is a good chance someone else will be champion.

    “Maybe we only have to win five, but nobody knows. Who would have thought that Arsenal lose against Aston Villa?

    “We all sit here and think ‘OK, yeah. City will win all their games’ and that’s happened quite frequently, but they have a lot of games to play and difficult opponents as well.

    “We don’t think about that. We don’t think about them. It is just how can we make sure we start wining games again.”

    Over the course of their recent rivalry, Liverpool have had a couple of seasons where the race to the line with City has seen them miss out by just a point despite matching each other win-for-win for the majority of the run in.

    But Klopp said that experience was not necessarily as positive as onlookers may believe.

    “When we were in the position we didn’t win the league in the end. We lost by a point and stuff like that. What kind of experience is that?” he added.

    “We know how to get there – and then don’t (win). It’s not about that.

    “It’s good to know that you are good and you can cause other teams problems.

    “But the thing is clear: if you want to be champion in the Premier League you have to be close to perfect and if you are not perfect you have to deal with the setbacks in the best possible way or in a perfect way.

    “That is what we are now doing. We had a setback week with three games we didn’t like too much, the results especially, and now we have to start turning it around.”

    Key to turning things around will be a change in fortunes in front of goal.

    Three goals in their last four matches has stalled their progress with the forwards failing to take numerous opportunities they have created.

    Mohamed Salah, whom Klopp defended after he missed a key chance to make it 2-0 against Atalanta, has scored six – two of which were penalties – in 11 matches since returning from two months out with a hamstring injury.

    Luis Diaz has two in eight games, Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo have just one in their last seven, while Diogo Jota has yet to find the net in three appearances since returning injury.

    “We had good moments and had an awful lot of chances, and didn’t use one of them more of less,” said Klopp.

    “That’s not great but the worst thing in football is not to have chances. It is better you deal with chances you miss than you have no chances.

    “That’s why I’m absolutely positive and after processing things properly, yeah, I’m more than happy with the situation.”

  • Coventry boss Mark Robins: Manchester United are the ‘biggest club in the world’ Coventry boss Mark Robins: Manchester United are the ‘biggest club in the world’

    Coventry boss Mark Robins has scoffed at the “derisory” criticism of Manchester United, insisting his side’s FA Cup semi-final opponents remain the biggest football club on the planet.

    Robins began his career at Old Trafford and his history with the club is firmly intertwined with the cup, with his third round winner against Nottingham Forest in 1990 often cited as the goal that saved Sir Alex Ferguson from the sack.

    Ferguson’s latest successor in the hot seat, Erik ten Hag, could do with firming up his own position and could find himself on extremely rocky ground if the Red Devils were denied a shot at silverware by Championship opposition.

    They are winless in four games since reaching the last four with a penalty shootout victory over Liverpool and sit seventh in the Premier League table, but Robins believes their problems have been overstated.

    “People, pundits, are talking in a derisory way about Manchester United and what they’re doing, how they’re performing,” he said.

    “For people who are talking about Manchester United are this or that, or they concede lots of shots: you’re talking about a team that is full of talented players, top international players. We know they are clearly favourites to win this game, by a million miles, simple as that.

    “They can hurt anybody on their day. The game against Liverpool their goals were outstanding. So you’ve got a lot of things to consider, especially as a Championship club going up against the biggest club in the world.

    “For Manchester United, this is a normal occasion. They play at Wembley a lot of times, there’s some England internationals there and other internationals who’ve played at Wembley on numerous occasions. It’s an expectation for them and their supporters; for us it’s slightly different.”

    The Sky Blues booked their place in the last four with a dramatic 3-2 win over Wolves, with stoppage-time strikes from Ellis Simms and Haji Wright completing a remarkable upset.

    The euphoria of that result has not carried in to their league form though, with three losses in their last four games leaving their play-off hopes – and regular games against the likes of United – all but over.

    With that in mind, Robins has urged everyone connected to the club to make the most of the experience in front of them.

    “We’ve already given the fans a special occasion getting there. Being in the national stadium with Manchester United, it doesn’t get much bigger than that,” he said.

    “It’s a brilliant opportunity for everyone and there’s a lot of excitement around the city. There is a global reach there for Coventry City, the world will be tuning in and it’s a great occasion for all of our players.”

    One player who will not be part of City’s big day is Kasey Palmer, suspended after picking up a booking for encroaching on the pitch to celebrate the late triumph over Wolves.

    “In the moment it’s the reaction we all made, you don’t necessarily think too much about it,” Said Robins.

    “It was really poor but the rules are the rules and you’ve got to abide by them. Unfortunately for him and for us, we can’t use him.”

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