Monthly Archives: January 2018

Jay Rodriguez double enough to oust Liverpool from FA Cup

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Jay Rodriguez scored twice as West Brom defeated Liverpool by 3-2 and ousted the Reds from the FA Cup in a fourth-round tie dominated by controversial video assistant referee (VAR) decisions.

Referee Craig Pawson ruled out a West Brom goal but gave Liverpool a penalty and delayed awarding the visitors’ third goal because of VAR referrals.

Rodriguez thumped an equaliser seconds after Roberto Firmino chipped an opener, then slotted another for Albion to go 2-1 up.

Poor defending then saw the culmination of Joel Matip’s own goal made it 3-1, before Mohamed Salah managed to pulled one back when he scored from close range from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross, but they could not find the vital equalizer they sorely needed in the end.

Liverpool’s first-half penalty, which Firmino missed, was a moment of VAR history — as it was the first time a referee in an English game had referred to a monitor on the touchline to make a final decision.

Almost three minutes passed between the initial incident and Firmino stepping up to take the penalty in which Pawson subsequently ruled — after a significant delay — that Jake Livermore had tugged Salah’s shirt, and pointed to the spot.

It was the second time in a few minutes that West Brom had been on the wrong end of a VAR decision, with Craig Dawson having seen a goal ruled out that would have put them 3-1 up.

VAR assistant Andre Marriner alerted Pawson to the fact that Gareth Barry, standing in front of Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and interfering with play, was offside as Dawson headed in a Chris Brunt corner.

Pawson also seemed to check with Marriner after Salah slotted in Firmino’s lay-off with 12 minutes left, although there was no delay in play and no clear reason as to why the goal might have been in doubt.

Serie A: Napoli concedes early but wins to stay on top of table

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Dries Mertens scored twice as Napoli beat Bologna 3-1 to reclaim top spot in the Serie A table from reigning champions Juventus.

Napoli needed a quick response as Juventus had managed to overtake them the day before, but things did not go according to plan when former Inter Milan striker Rodrigo Palacio gave Bologna a first-minute lead instead.

However, Napoli did not have their work cut out for them as Bologna defender Ibrahima Mbaye soon obliged with the equaliser as he put through his own net in comedy fashion just four minutes later.

Adam Masina then helped Napoli further by fouling Jose Callejon to concede a penalty that Mertens tucked away eight minutes before the break and just before the hour, the Belgian winger turned home an assist from Lorenzo Insigne.

The result meant that Napoli remains just one point above Juventus, who returned to second place with a 2-0 win against a Chievo team who were reduced to nine men.

They saw the dismissal of Samuel Bastien, who was given marching orders early in the 37th minute for a second bookable but unnecessary offence, and then lost Fabrizio Cacciatore too after 60 minutes when he vehemently complained he’d been fouled while heading at Wojciech Szczesny.

His bizarre protests, which included standing on the touchline with his hands behind his back in an apparent ‘handcuff’ gesture, earned the striker a straight red card.

The clear advantage in numbers meant that Chievo, who had been able to frustrate the visitors up until then finally conceded when Sami Khedira struck in the 67th minute, before Gonzalo Higuaín headed in a second with two minutes remaining.

Dortmund ready to release Aubameyang as Arsenal deal nears completion

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Borussia Dortmund could release Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from their squad soon as the Bundesliga club could soon settle an agreement with Arsenal for the Gabon striker for a fee said to be around £60m.

The club has said they are prepared to sell him if “certain parameters are fully met”.

However, Dortmund has also made clear that the transfer will not be sanctioned until Dortmund have a replacement striker lined up, with Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud among the reported options.

It was known that Arsenal have already had two bids for the striker this month, both of which has been rejected by Dortmund. One of the rejected bids, worth 50m Euros, was made last Wednesday.

Aubameyang, 28, started for Dortmund for the first time since 16 December as they drew 2-2 with Freiburg on Saturday, after he was suspended by the club for their match against Wolfsburg two weeks ago for missing a team meeting.

The Gabon forward was also left out of the squad for the game at Hertha Berlin last weekend because club officials felt he was not focused enough, but he played 90 minutes in the draw with Freiburg.

“We are ready to realise a transfer under certain parameters but only if these are fully met,” sporting director Michael Zorc said.

“We have a clear position. Arsenal has started several attempts so far. We have up to now refused them all.”

Arsenal are looking to Aubameyang to replace Chile forward Alexis Sanchez, who joined Manchester United earlier this month in a swap deal with midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Mauricio Pochettino: Spurs boss says praise for Tottenham is deserved

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Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino has insisted that Arsene Wenger, his counterpart at Arsenal should keep quiet about Tottenham, insisting all the praise his squad has gathered is deserved.

Before the Gunners’ Carabao Cup semi-final win against Chelsea on mid-week, Wenger said pundits “celebrate some teams who have not been in a final for 25 years”.

His comments were taken as a dig at Tottenham and Liverpool, who together have won only two trophies since 2008.

However, Pochettino took exception to Wenger’s analysis, saying: “I’m so young and only five years in the Premier League, in two clubs Southampton and Tottenham, but there’s no point to talk about another team.”

“Praise? Of course we receive praise. Football is not only to win trophies, it’s the circumstances of different clubs. For me he is and will always be one of the best managers in the world, I respect him, but I think he needs to talk for himself and for Arsenal.”

“For me he is a special manager,” Pochettino added. “But everyone sometimes makes a mistake and for me he made a mistake to talk about us or a different team.”

Tottenham will travel to the League Two promotion hopefuls Newport on Saturday in the fourth round of the FA Cup, which realistically represents Pochettino’s best chance of winning a trophy this season.

“We have to be ready to fight and put ourselves in the same level as them,” Pochettino said. “The same motivation, no complaints, no excuse-finding – we try to believe that we are going to play against Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Juventus in the Champions League.”

Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose have returned to training after hamstring and knee problems respectively but this weekend could come too soon for them; Newport share their pitch at Rodney Parade with two rugby teams — Newport and Dragons — meaning the surface may not be kind to players just coming back from injury.