Daily Archives: February 3, 2017

Premier League preview: Chelsea vs Arsenal

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Antonio Conte’s Chelsea welcomes Arsenal to Stamford Bridge following two successive defeats against Arsene Wenger’s team this season.

However, the second defeat, which had been a 3-0 loss for the Blues at the Emirates stadium had been a wake up call of sorts. With a switch to their current, more effective 3-4-3 formation, Chelsea suddenly found themselves nine points clear at the top of the Premier League table after a record breaking 13-game winning streak.

Arsenal, on the other hand, seemed to be experiencing yet another mid-season dip in performance typical of the Gunners. They lost further ground in their pursuit against Chelsea after they lost 2-1 at home to Watford mid-week. To make matters worse, their fiercest rivals were there to add insult to injury as Tottenham gained a point from a goalless draw against Sunderland to leapfrog Arsenal to second place in the table.

It is hardly difficult to point out Arsenal’s struggles. Against teams that Premier League contenders could have arguably swatted aside, Arsenal could only blame their own carelessness in the face of such teams — namely Watford, Bournemouth, Middlesbrough. Chelsea, by contrast, were only denied points by a single team outside the top six — Swansea City.

While one could argue that Arsenal would be able to muster something in the face of such opposition and the importance the match, it is undeniable that their squad looks ill-equipped for a title charge even if Chelsea’s points stayed the same for a month.

Team News

The Arsenal midfield is in the midst of a crisis. With Granit Xhaka out with suspension, Santi Cazorla’s continuing ankle problem and Wenger confirming Aaron Ramsey’s absence through a calf strain, on paper they are simply outnumbered by Chelsea’s squad which has far fewer suspension or injury concerns.

While Willian and David Luiz are amongst Chelsea’s bigger concerns going into the London showdown, should they recover in time the Blues would have a full complement of players available.

Prediction:

Chelsea (2) — (0) Arsenal

Leverkusen’s Hakan Calhanoglu to serve four month-ban

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Bayer Leverkusen will be unable to field Turkish International Hakan Calhanoglu for the rest of the Bundesliga season after the player was slapped with a four-month ban for a breach of contract.

Calhanoglu, 22, must also pay Turkish club Trabzonspor a fine of 100,000 Euros (£85,900).

Trabzonspor had lodged a claim with FIFA in 2013 that Calhanoglu had agreed to sign for as a teenager from Karlsruhe in 2011, but the player had remained in Germany.

FIFA ruled in favour of Trabzonspor and after an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the decision was upheld.

The CAS announced that the FIFA ban, which was frozen pending the appeal verdict, “is reinstated with immediate effect.”

Leverkusen sports director Rudi Voeller said the club “cannot comprehend” the decision, adding it was a “heavy blow for Hakan and us”.

“Although Bayer Leverkusen had nothing to do with this it is also punished,” Voller said. “Now we will miss an important player during a decisive part of the season.”

“We obviously regret this decision, which we cannot follow in any way.”

At the time of the approach from Trabzonspor, Calhanoglu was 17. He eventually left Karlsruhe to join Hamburg in 2013, before joining Leverkusen in 2014.

Calhanoglu, who has seven goals for Leverkusen this season, will miss Champions League matches against Atletico Madrid and will also suspended for Turkey’s World Cup qualifying match at home against Finland on March 24.

ESL moves to Hamburg for next One event

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ESL is returning to Germany for another Dota 2 ESL One event albeit with a slight change of locale from Frankfurt to Hamburg.

The tournament, dubbed by ESL as “Europe’s biggest Dota 2 tournament”, will see eight teams fight for a $250,000 prize pool and will kick-start from October 28th to 29th. As is tradition, ESL will be holding a festival filled with attractions in conjunction with the event.

However, in the past three annual occasions where ESL organized their Dota 2 event in Germany, each were held in the Comerzbank Arena in Frankfurt. For this year, it will take place in the Barclaycard Arena at Hamburg instead. The stadium itself has 16,000 seats and was used to house Hamburg’s own handball and ice hockey teams.

It is possible that this will not exactly be welcome news for fans of ESL. While the organizers never truly managed to fill the stadium in Frankfurt to its full capacity of more than 50,000 seats, the smaller size of Barclaycard Arena could cause issues.

However, ESL officials are confident that the change would be a welcome one.

“We are confident in our new venue,” Ulrich Schultze, VP of pro gaming at ESL, said in a press release. “ESL One Hamburg will, once more, figure prominently among the world’s best Dota 2 competitions.”

Additional information on the attending teams and the tournament format will be released on a later date. Given that no team had won an ESL One Dota 2 event on more than one occasion as of its eighth installment, it may prove to be an unpredictable one.

Tickets for ESL One Hamburg will go on sale next week with three different packages: weekend, premium and the “Aegis Experience”, each boasting different rewards.