Mikel Arteta felt Arsenal performed with "courage" to end a damning six-year run by beating Leicester City on Sunday.

The Gunners responded to an early goal from Youri Tielemans to win 3-1 at the King Power Stadium, with David Luiz and Nicolas Pepe scoring either side of an Alexandre Lacazette penalty.

It was their first Premier League win over Leicester since October 2018 and ended a run of 14 away matches without a victory against teams starting the day in the top three of the table.

Before getting the better of the third-placed Foxes, Arsenal's most recent away win over such lofty opponents came in January 2015, when they won 2-0 at Manchester City.

 

Manager Arteta was proud of the display, especially given their battling Europa League win over Benfica was only three days earlier.

"For me, it's not only about that," said Arteta. "It's how we play against opponents of top quality and just impose ourselves: try to be all the time us, it doesn't matter who we play against, and have the courage to do it against top-quality players.

"I'm proud of the way we won, but more about the way we have done it. Coming here after a very short turnaround after Benfica and going down very early puts the game in a difficult position.

"But we played some really good moments in the game. We were really solid, we dominated the game and overall we deserved the win."

Willian had an assist for a goal in a decisive substitute appearance against Benfica and continued that form at Leicester, crossing for David Luiz's opener and posting game-high figures of six accurate crosses and a 94 per cent passing accuracy.

"He was really good today, but we have seen that in training in the last few weeks," Arteta said of the Brazilian. "I think he is revealing himself. He is not accepting the situation.

"I think he was the player who changed the game against Benfica in the last few moments when he came on and today, I think he was terrific and the same for the senior players.

"Laca, the way he played; Nico, I think he grew in the game and had a big impact as well. And Granit [Xhaka]. I think a player that has played that many minutes, to play with the heart and passion he showed in every action, I think it's a great example for the rest of the players."

The downside to Arsenal's win, which lifted them back into the top 10, was losing Emile Smith Rowe to injury in a game that also saw Leicester's Jonny Evans and Harvey Barnes forced off.

Arteta thinks such incidents will only become more common as the season enters a hectic final third.

"Well, I think it is absolutely normal that it is happening," Arteta said. "That is why as well we needed to change players [today] because if not we were going to expose our players to get injured.

"But sometimes you don't have a chance as a manager [to do that] because you don't have enough players or you have the necessity to win and play them again.

"But it is insane, the amount of minutes and the games that these players are playing without any pre-season, without any break.

"You are going to get injured. We talked about it, all the managers raised our voices at the start of the season and it's happening."

Arsenal ended a run of two consecutive away Premier League defeats with an impressive 3-1 victory over high-flying Leicester City on Sunday.

Mikel Arteta's men fought back from an early Youri Tielemans goal to score through David Luiz, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe, ending a three-game losing streak at the King Power Stadium in the top flight.

The result means Arsenal closed to within three points of sixth-place Liverpool, having played a game more, while Leicester stay third and 13 points behind leaders Manchester City.

Tielemans gave Leicester the lead with a precise finish after being allowed to run unchecked into the Arsenal box, with Kieran Tierney out of position and Pablo Mari distracted by Jamie Vardy.

It was the fourth time the Gunners had conceded in the opening six minutes of a league game in 2021, but it seemed to spark them into life, with Pepe winning a penalty only for VAR to determine he was fouled outside the box.

David Luiz deservedly equalised six minutes before the break, steering a fine header past Kasper Schmeichel from Willian's free-kick, and the visitors were ahead in injury time.

Pepe's shot was blocked by the raised arm of Wilfred Ndidi and this time VAR ruled in favour of a penalty, allowing Lacazette to smash home from the spot.

Injury problems struck each team either side of the break, with Emile Smith-Rowe limping off for the Gunners before Leicester's Harvey Barnes was taken off on a stretcher, his left leg in a brace.

Arsenal scored their third soon afterwards, Pepe leading a counter-attack and then tapping a loose ball into the net after good work from Martin Odegaard and Willian.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang came off the bench and almost made it 4-1, skipping into space and firing just wide of the right-hand post.
 

 

What does it mean? Gunners into top 10 as concern builds for Leicester

Given their poor start to the game, Arsenal's performance was as assured as any they have produced in recent weeks and lifted them back into the league's top 10.

Leicester stay third but, after a surprise Europa League exit to Slavia Prague this week, this was not the way Brendan Rodgers will have wanted them to respond.

The Foxes will hope these defeats do not point to a repeat of 2019-20. They lost on February 28 last year, away to Norwich City, during a six-game winless run that prompted a poor end to their season and a failure to see out a top-four finish.

Pepe starting to peak

Pepe menaced full-back Luke Thomas in the first half to the extent the Leicester man was substituted at half-time on a yellow card.

Having won the free-kick for the equaliser and Lacazette's penalty, Pepe then started and finished the move that effectively killed the game. He has now scored four times in his most recent seven league starts, as many as in his previous 21 across all competitions.

Leicester lose identity

Leicester seemed out of sorts after going ahead and barely threatened Bernd Leno's goal from then on, with Jamie Vardy strangely isolated in attack.

The man who scored 11 goals in his first 12 league meetings with Arsenal had 21 touches and failed even to attempt a shot.

What's next?

Arsenal head to Burnley next Saturday, three days after Leicester face the same opposition at Turf Moor.

Jurgen Klopp out, Steven Gerrard in?

Klopp ended Liverpool's 30-year wait for league glory last season, but the German manager could be set for a return to his homeland.

His exit could see Gerrard return to Merseyside.

 

TOP STORY – GERRARD TO REPLACE KLOPP IN LIVERPOOL RETURN

Steven Gerrard may soon return to Anfield but as manager to replace Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, according to The Mirror.

Liverpool reportedly expect Klopp to take up an opportunity with Germany in the near future amid doubts over long-time head coach Joachim Low.

As a result, Liverpool legend Gerrard has been sounded out as he has Rangers on a cusp of a drought-breaking league title in Scotland.

Gerrard, who made more than 700 appearances for Liverpool, took control of Rangers in 2018.

 

ROUND-UP

- Erling Haaland seems to be on every club's wish list but the Mirror reports Manchester City have joined the queue for the Borussia Dortmund star. City manager Pep Guardiola and Haaland's agent Mina Raiola have a testy relationship but the Premier League leaders will press ahead with an alleged £100million (€115m) deal. English pair Chelsea and Manchester United are also reportedly interested along with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

- Fabrizio Romano says Chelsea want to keep veteran defender Thiago Silva beyond the 2020-21 season. Chelsea signed Silva on a free transfer following his PSG exit.

- LaLiga giants Barcelona are in the market for a young defender and have set their sights on Inter's 21-year-old Alessandro Bastoni, according to Calciomercato.

Arsenal are in the hunt for Wigan Athletic sensation Kyle Joseph, with the teenager scoring five goals in 14 appearances. The Mirror claims the Gunners have joined Celtic and Rangers in their interest in the London-born Scotland youth international whose current contract expires in June.

Liverpool and rivals United are eyeing Leicester City's Harvey Barnes, reports the Mirror. The 23-year-old has established himself as a key player for the Foxes.

- Eric Bailly is in talks with United over a new long-term contract, claims The Sun. The 26-year-old defender, who has been plagued by injuries at Old Trafford, is out of contract in 2022. It comes amid United's reported interest in Sevilla's Jules Kounde, Ibrahima Konate of RB Leipzig and Brighton and Hove Albion star Ben White.

Mikel Arteta knew the real Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was back when he watched the Arsenal striker get mad at himself for missing a penalty in training.

A double from Aubameyang rescued Arsenal's Europa League campaign against Benfica on Thursday, with his second goal, a late header, securing a 3-2 win and a 4-3 aggregate triumph.

The Gunners had been in danger of going out on the away-goals rule at the last-32 stage, having been designated as the home side for the game which was moved to Greece because of travel restrictions between the UK and Portugal.

But it was Aubameyang who saved the day, assisted by the increasingly impressive Bukayo Saka for the second time in the game.

Last season's FA Cup final hero, Aubameyang endured a dry spell in front of goal earlier this season but has scored eight times in 10 games in 2021 so far, at a rate of one every 98.25 minutes.

On Sunday, Arsenal return to domestic duties with a tough trip to third-placed Leicester City.

Arteta wants Aubameyang and Arsenal to kick on in the Premier League and sustain their challenge in Europe, safe in the knowledge their captain is back to his focused best.

"Sometimes when you go through difficult moments, you can have those difficult moments and get into a sad mode," said Arteta. "I think that's the worst thing you can do because nobody has to feel sorry for themselves when you're having those moments.

"What you have to do is get upset, get angry, work harder and approach the situation and face it - face the challenge in a way that creates more motivation and more hunger to do it, and I think in recent weeks I've seen that reaction.

"For example, in a training session before we played here he missed a penalty and he was really upset.

"Instead of going sad he got upset, and I said to the coaching staff that I like that and that he would be fine [against Benfica]. When you have that mentality, I think that's the right way to approach it.

"He is getting into much better positions, his rhythm during the games is much better with and without the ball, his movement.

"The week before when we played Benfica, he had three big chances and I am not worried about him missing them because I know if he gets in those positions, he is going to be scoring consistently so this is what he has to demand of himself.

"If we have Auba at his best, as a team we obviously have a much better chance to be successful."

Arteta, who said Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers should be a contender to be named manager of the season, has seen his team drop to 11th in the Premier League.

The late winner against Benfica felt like a moment that could swing their season, and Arteta's tenure, in a positive direction. Had Arsenal gone out, there may have been talk of a crisis.

"All the winners in European competition have to have a magic moment, a moment of luck, have to be able to overcome difficult situations. It's a good experience to have together," Arteta said. "Hopefully we can use it for the future in the next games."

A Champions League place is on offer to the Europa League winners, and that is Arsenal's only realistic short-term route back to the elite level.

Arteta spoke of that factor and said: "Obviously it is all the time in our mind because we know our league position at the moment. That has to improve dramatically but if we do well in this competition it gives us an extra chance and a hope to achieve something this season."

Saka shared the spotlight with Aubameyang on Thursday and Arteta said of the 19-year-old winger: "How good can he be is a question nobody can answer.

"He is a boy that is constantly willing to learn, to get better, to work on the things he can do better and he is a very humble and hard working boy. When that happens normally, and you have the talent he has, you can go a long way."

Manchester City will be looking to stretch their record winning run to 20 matches when they welcome fellow in-form side West Ham to the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League this weekend.

Pep Guardiola's men are 10 points clear at the summit and two of their players feature among our Opta-fuelled fantasy picks, along with a couple of Everton men on the back of last week's long-awaited derby win at Liverpool.

Manchester United, Tottenham and Leicester City players are also selected ahead of games against Chelsea, Burnley and Arsenal respectively.

 

EDERSON

There are many factors behind the leaders' winning run - not least an incredible defensive record, with goalkeeper Ederson more than playing his part.

The Brazil international has kept 15 clean sheets from 24 Premier League games this term, averaging one every 1.6 matches.

Only two keepers to have played at least 10 times have averaged fewer games per clean sheet across an entire season - Chelsea's Petr Cech (24 in 35 apps in 2004-05) and former Manchester United stopper Edwin van der Sar (21 in 33 apps in 2008-09).

JOAO CANCELO

Simply keeping out the opposition is not enough in the life of a modern day full-back, best epitomised by Cancelo at Man City.

On top of helping City to that formidable defensive record, he has also created the most chances (34) from open play among fellow Premier League defenders this season.

Cancelo may only have set up two goals in the top flight this season, but he has the highest number of expected assists (4.28) among defenders, just ahead of Manchester United's Luke Shaw (4.04).

 

LUCAS DIGNE

Carlo Ancelotti was delighted with the news Digne had signed a new long-term deal with Everton this week and little wonder given the full-back's impact on the side.

No Premier League defender has more assists than the 27-year-old's six this season - level with West Ham's Aaron Cresswell and one more than Andy Robertson and Shaw.

Since Digne's debut for Everton in August 2018, only Liverpool pair Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold (28) have assisted more goals than the Frenchman (17).

GYLFI SIGURDSSON

There was a point when Sigurdsson's time at Everton appeared to be up not so long ago, but the creative midfielder has more than proved his worth to the side of late.

He was been involved in six Premier League goals in 23 appearances this term - four goals and two assists - which is one more than he managed in 35 games last season.

That is a tally he will be confident of building on this gameweek, as the Iceland international has only scored more Premier League goals against Chelsea (six) than he has versus opponents Southampton (five).

 

MARCUS RASHFORD

In the week he celebrates the five-year anniversary since scoring twice on his United debut, Rashford takes on his favourite opponents in Chelsea.

The United academy product has scored five times against the Blues in all competitions and registered a couple of assists.

Only against Leicester City has he found the net as many times, while only against Newcastle United and West Ham (both seven) has he been directly involved in more goals.

HARRY KANE

If Rashford enjoys playing against Chelsea, the same is true of Kane against Tottenham's next opponents Burnley.

The England skipper has been directly involved in 10 goals in nine Premier League appearances against the Clarets, finding the net seven times and laying on three assists.

Burnley's defenders will not look forward to coming up against Kane, with Riyad Mahrez the only player to score against them more often (eight times) in their Premier League history.

 

JAMIE VARDY

Vardy's scoring record against the division's traditional top four is well known by now, particularly when it comes to facing Arsenal.

The Leicester striker has scored 11 goals in 12 previous Premier League appearances against the Gunners, including a late winner in the reverse fixture.

Those 11 strikes place Vardy behind only Wayne Rooney for goals scored against Arsenal in the competition, the United legend netting 12 times against the London club in his career.

Brendan Rodgers blamed a lack of intensity, creativity and quality for Leicester City's Europa League exit as his own poor record in the competition's knockout stage continued.

The Foxes were favourites to progress from their last-32 tie with Slavia Prague after a goalless draw in the first leg, but succumbed to a 2-0 loss at the King Power Stadium on Thursday

Rodgers has now been eliminated from all five of his Europa League knockout ties as a manager (all last 32) – with Liverpool in 2012-13 and 2014-15, Celtic in 2017-18 and 2018-19 and Leicester this season.

"We didn't create enough over two legs. That's the reality," Rodgers told BT Sport.

"We didn't defend with any intensity. We gave away two disappointing goals.

"We got into some good areas but lacked quality when we arrived in them. We started pretty well and exploited some spaces in behind, but we didn't have enough quality to break them down.

"Before this game we were in three competitions and we wanted to give it our all. We know where our priorities are and now, we'll do our very best. We just lacked intensity and quality.

"Overall, the better team won and got through. We have to recover for the weekend."

Rodgers was without injured playmaker James Maddison while Harvey Barnes, their top scorer in Europe this season, started on the bench.

The Northern Irishman defended his decision to leave Barnes out of the starting line-up and felt those players selected were good enough to get them through the tie.

"We lost to the better team. I take responsibility for the team I've picked. I picked a team I felt could win the game," Rodgers added.

"Was it a game too far with our domestic commitments? Yes, but I don't want to give too many excuses. We had players not available tonight at the top end of the field. Guys that can make a difference for us.

"However, I still expected us to show up more. They'll learn from it, like they always do, and although we're disappointed to be out but we know we weren't good enough."

Leicester reaction

February 25, 2021

 

 

 

Leicester City were knocked out of the Europa League at the last 32 stage after a meek 2-0 home defeat to Slavia Prague on Thursday.

With the first leg having finished goalless in Prague, Leicester were strong favourites to reach the last 16 at the King Power Stadium.

But Lukas Provod gave Slavia the lead early in the second half with a cool volleyed finish inside the penalty area after his run went unchecked by the Leicester defence.

Abdallah Dipo Sima made the outcome certain with 11 minutes left when he fired home spectacularly from just outside the box as the Premier League high-flyers went crashing out.

The Foxes tried to seize the early initiative as Cengiz Under twice struck efforts from distance, but their opponents looked the more threatening side in the first half.

A weak Caglar Soyuncu header from a Slavia long ball allowed striker Sima to break clear just before the half hour but his early shot went wide of Kasper Schmeichel's goal.

The unmarked Jan Kuchta should have done better for the Czech First League leaders when he planted a header wide from a good position.

Moments before the interval Jamie Vardy escaped down the left but with few options in the box he kicked the advertising hoardings in frustration after his cross was easily gathered by Ondrej Kolar.

Slavia took a deserved lead four minutes into the second half when Nicolae Stanciu's cross picked out the run of Provod, who side-footed a volley beyond Schmeichel.

Rodgers missed the creative talent of the injured James Maddison but he did bring top scorer Harvey Barnes off the bench just after the hour.

However, Slavia grabbed a second when the impressive Sima was allowed time and space by the Leicester defence and curled a powerful low shot into the corner of the net.

Manchester City are reportedly considering a double swoop for Erling Haaland and Giovanni Reyna.

The Borussia Dortmund stars have been linked with moves, with Haaland in particular in high demand across Europe.

And high-flying City have their eyes on the duo.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY CONSIDER HAALAND, REYNA

Manchester City are considering moves for Dortmund stars Haaland and Reyna, according to 90min.

Haaland, 20, has scored 17 goals and provided three assists in 17 Bundesliga games this season.

Reyna, the 18-year-old American, has three goals and four assists in 21 league games.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United continue to be linked with centre-backs. But the Daily Mail reports the Premier League club are unwilling to meet Sevilla defender Jules Kounde's £68million (€79m) release clause, although they remain interested in the 22-year-old.

- With Liverpool enduring a difficult season, Jurgen Klopp's future has become a talking point. Bild reports Klopp could take over as Germany coach after the 2022 World Cup despite having a contract with Liverpool until 2024.

- Another club linked with a move for Haaland are Chelsea. Metro reports Tammy Abraham, who has scored 12 goals this season and is out of contract in 2023, is unwilling to discuss a new deal with the club amid the Haaland rumours.

- Jesse Lingard is attracting interest after an impressive start to his West Ham career. The Daily Express reports Leicester City are prepared to challenge West Ham if they try to sign Lingard, who is on loan from Manchester United, permanently ahead of next season.

- Still without a club, it remains to be seen where Maurizio Sarri ends up next. CalcioMercato reports Fiorentina again met with the former Juventus and Chelsea boss, but a potential agreement remains complex.

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith said he will reprimand any potential internal leak after news of captain Jack Grealish's injury emerged well in advance of Sunday's 2-1 Premier League home loss to Leicester City.

Grealish was left out of the Villa line-up due to a leg knock picked up at training, although that became public knowledge ahead of the fixture, leaving Smith irritated by the advantage it may have offered the Foxes.

The England international is a key figure for Villa, having played every league game this season until Sunday, scoring six goals while he is also equal second for most assists this campaign with 10.

"I was made aware on social media there were rumours he was not going to play," Smith told BBC Sport.

"If that is coming out of our training ground I will find out where it is coming from and reprimand whoever it is coming from.

"It is something I would not be happy with."

Manchester City showed few signs of slowing as they recorded another win at Arsenal on Sunday.

The runaway Premier League leaders remain 10 points clear of both Manchester United and Leicester City, who each enjoyed victories of their own.

West Ham complete the top four, meanwhile, after a long-awaited triumph for manager David Moyes.

We start at the London Stadium in recapping the best of Sunday's action with the help of Opta data.
 

West Ham 2-1 Tottenham: Moyes ends miserable run against Mourinho

Moyes finally got the measure of Jose Mourinho as West Ham climbed into the top four with a 2-1 home win against Tottenham.

This was Moyes' first victory over Mourinho in 16 attempts in all competitions, halting his worst winless record against any one coach.

Michail Antonio's fifth Premier League goal against Spurs and 42nd in total - all of which have come from inside the box - opened the scoring early on, before another swift strike in the second half took the game away from Tottenham.

Scorer Jesse Lingard, whose best spell of his United career came under Mourinho, has netted as many goals (three) for Moyes in four league games on loan at West Ham as he did in 36 appearances for Red Devils manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Although Lucas Moura's header halved the deficit, Mourinho has now suffered 15 defeats and picked up only 81 points from his first 50 league games as Tottenham coach - the worst such returns of his career.
 

Aston Villa 1-2 Leicester City: More Villa Park joy for Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers maintained his 100 per cent winning record away to Aston Villa as Leicester won 2-1 at Villa Park.

Rodgers has won all six of his Premier League games at Villa Park as manager, the past two with Leicester ensuring the Foxes have enjoyed back-to-back away top-flight wins against Villa for the first time since October 1960.

James Maddison's eighth Premier League goal of the season broke the deadlock and made this his best scoring campaign in the top tier, before Harvey Barnes added his 13th in all competitions in 2020-21 - second only to Jamie Vardy (14) among Leicester players.

Bertrand Traore got a goal back and has now been involved in eight in the league for Villa since his debut, but the absent Jack Grealish, the only man at the club this season to better that tally (10), was sorely missed.

0.9 - Under Dean Smith, Aston Villa have averaged 1.5 points-per-game in league competition when Jack Grealish has featured compared to 0.9 points-per-game without him, losing all three Premier League matches without the Englishman since the start of last season. Centrepiece. pic.twitter.com/QafEdQ7IKY

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 21, 2021  

Arsenal 0-1 Manchester City: Records stacking up for Pep's class of 2021

City equalled their own record for consecutive away wins across all competitions by a team from England's top flight, landing a 1-0 success at Arsenal.

An 11th straight victory on the road - tying their 2017 run - also made City the first visiting team to ever enjoy four league wins in a row at Arsenal without conceding.

In all, Arsenal have lost eight league matches on the bounce to City, tying Leeds United's benchmark streak against the Gunners from 1973 to 1976, and a familiar foe proved their undoing.

Raheem Sterling has scored in three consecutive league games at Emirates Stadium and no player in the division has more than his 20 on the road since the start of last season.

City stood firm at the other end with a 15th league clean sheet of the campaign and more achievements might be on the horizon, as a 25th game without defeat across all competitions takes them closer to their best run under Pep Guardiola of 28 in 2017.
 

Manchester United 3-1 Newcastle United: Red Devils dominate Magpies again

United's dominant home record against Newcastle United only briefly looked at risk as they won 3-1 in Sunday's final match.

Newcastle have won on just one of their past 36 league visits to Old Trafford, where Marcus Rashford's 40th goal in all competitions since the start of last season broke the deadlock - his tally is only bettered in that time by Mohamed Salah (47), Harry Kane (45) and Sterling (44).

Allan Saint-Maximin soon equalised - his fifth goal involvement of the campaign - but Dan James restored the home advantage from Bruno Fernandes' pass.

Fernandes secured the points from the penalty spot and now has 15 goals and 10 assists in the Premier League this season, the third player to reach double figures in both goals and assists in Europe's 'top five' leagues (also Kane and Thomas Muller).

United, who have just one defeat in 19 in the league, have now scored 53 times in 25 league matches, their best return at this stage of a season since their title-winning 2012-13 campaign (60).

Real Madrid, Manchester United, Barcelona, Manchester City, Chelsea and Juventus.

Europe's elite are lining up to sign Erling Haaland, but who will he join?

Whoever it is, Haaland is set to command a mammoth contract.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND ASKING FOR LUCRATIVE DEAL

Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland wants a contract in the region of £78million (€90m) as speculation intensifies over his future, according to the Daily Star.

Haaland is a player in demand following his exploits for Bundesliga side Dortmund, linked with the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United, Barcelona, Manchester City, Chelsea and Juventus.

The report claims Haaland wants a five-year deal worth around £300,000 (€346,000) per week.

 

ROUND-UP

- Should Kylian Mbappe leave for Madrid, Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain want to replace him with Tottenham star Harry Kane, claims the Mirror.

- Bild says Chelsea, Liverpool and United are interested in signing RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate. His centre-back partner Dayot Upamecano is set to join Bayern Munich at the end of the season, having been linked with the Premier League's elite.

Liverpool are preparing a £40m bid for Brighton and Hove Albion defender Ben White, reports Football Insider. Jurgen Klopp is desperate to bolster his injury-hit defence amid a difficult 2020-21 campaign.

- The Daily Mail says United are considering a move for Everton youngster Jarrad Branthwaite. The 18-year-old defender has impressed since joining the Toffees.

Leipzig lead the race to sign Ajax sensation Brian Brobbey, according to Diario AS. United, Milan and Bayern have also been linked.

Milan and Inter target Odilon Kossounou – who plays for Club Brugge - is also wanted by Premier League duo Arsenal and Wolves, claims The Sun.

- Calciomercato reports Juventus are eyeing Leicester City winger Timothy Castagne, who arrived from Atalanta at the start of the season.

Leicester City were held to a dour 0-0 draw by Slavia Prague in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 clash at Sinobo Stadium on Thursday. 

Brendan Rodgers fielded a full-strength starting XI against the Czech First League leaders, but they were unable to claim what would have been just a second win in their last eight European away matches. 

The Foxes dominated the first half, with Harvey Barnes twice going close, but Jindrich Trpisovsky's side improved after the break and made life difficult at times for their Premier League opponents. 

While the result extended Leicester's unbeaten run to five games, Rodgers will hope for an improved display from his side in the second leg at the King Power Stadium next week.

Marc Albrighton and James Maddison both flashed long-range efforts narrowly off target inside the opening five minutes before Ondrej Kolar denied a clean-through Barnes. 

The lively Barnes then fired wide at the back post as the Foxes ultimately went in at the interval without finding the goal their dominance deserved. 

Kasper Schmeichel had to be alert to tip over Nicolae Stanciu's long-range drive after the break as the hosts belatedly woke from their slumber. 

The Czech side did most of the pressing as the second half wore on, but they were unable to find the winner that would have given them the advantage ahead of the second leg. 

Manchester United are making plans for Paul Pogba's departure and may have already identified the Frenchman's replacement in Real Madrid's Federico Valverde.

The 22-year-old has struggled with injuries this season, while veteran midfielders Luka Modric and Toni Kroos have been in vintage form for LaLiga's champions.

Valverde has only started 12 games in all competitions this season, but the Uruguayan has impressed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer enough for United to step up their efforts to bring him to Old Trafford this off-season.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED EYE VALVERDE TO PLUG MIDFIELD

Valverde has shown his class while featuring in 89 games during his three seasons in the Spanish capital and has turned heads at United.

The Red Devils are said to admire his energy and box-to-box qualities as they seek a long-term solution to lock down a place in the centre of Solskjaer's midfield, according to The Sun.

One snag in the recruitment drive could be the Uruguay international's buy-out clause of a staggering £148million, though United can offer him a major improvement on his current £120,000 per week wage.

Roses are red, violets are blue, have we got the perfect Valentine's Day content for you!

Questionable rhymes aside (okay, very questionable), love is in the air as long-standing couples and newly formed relationships celebrate the day of romance on Sunday.

The world of football is certainly no stranger to the language of love, so before you crack open a bottle of red and exchange cheap knock-off gifts with your significant other why not get some inspiration for love with our Valentine's Day facts with some help from Cupid!

(Well not Cupid, Opta – but the team at Opta are full of love!)

MATT LE KISS-IER LOVES TO SCORE ON VALENTINE'S DAY

Valentine's Day is of course a day for love (and overpaying for those last-minute flowers and cards you forgot to buy…).

Two players have been particularly good at spreading the joy on February 14th with Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier and ex-Liverpool striker Michael Owen each scoring three times in the Premier League on this date – the most of all players.

Here's something even more interesting about that stat, though – each man's tally is a result of scoring a Valentine's Day hat-trick.

Le Tissier registered three against the Reds back in 1994, while Owen took home the match ball with a treble versus Sheffield Wednesday four years later.

Owen's three goals are part of 12 Liverpool have tallied on the day of love – comfortably the most by a team. Arsenal follow on seven, with Aston Villa and Southampton on four.

A ROSE FOR THE LADY?

Flowers are synonymous with Valentine's Day but none more so than the rose.

Two players named Rose have plied their trade in the Premier League – Danny (194 appearances) and Matthew (five appearances). The former, of course, is an England international who with his marauding runs from full-back has often been a, ahem, thorn in the side of opponents…

There are other love-themed names to have featured in the top flight. Valentino Lazaro played 13 times in the Premier League for Newcastle United on loan last term, while Valentin Roberge made 10 appearances for north east rivals Sunderland.

The Black Cats also had Donald Love on their books, the defender having previously represented Manchester United once in the top flight.

FOXES RACK UP THE CARDS

Whether from a partner or a secret admirer, it's always nice to receive a card or two on Valentine's Day.

Unless of course you're playing in the Premier League, in which case you want to see the referee keep their cards in their pockets.

In this regard, Leicester City have not been overly successful – the seven yellow cards representing the most received by a team on Valentine's Day. Arsenal follow closely behind with six, with Manchester City on four.

The Foxes also fare badly when it comes to red cards, having picked up two on February 14th – Danny Simpson and Hamza Choudhury account for those dismissals. The only other player to have been sent off on Valentine's Day is Everton hero Duncan Ferguson ... no, we weren't shocked either.

THE BEST BROMANCES

It goes without saying that we don't need to confine our love sharing to one manufactured day of the year…

No, we should be spreading the joy in our hearts all year round and these strike partnerships certainly succeed in that category.

Going back to the start of the 2015-16 season, no two players have combined for more goals than Spurs duo Harry Kane and Son Heung-min (33).

In fact, Kane features three times in the top-five – also ranking third with Christian Eriksen (19), and sharing 18 with Dele Alli.

Manchester City pairing Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne are second with 20, while Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez (18), who fired Leicester to shock title glory in 2015-16, also feature.

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