Man City crush Arsenal, Spurs grab late win at Wolves

Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne scores their third goal against a hapless Arsenal. (Reuters)
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Updated 15 December 2019

Man City crush Arsenal, Spurs grab late win at Wolves

  • Kevin De Bruyne scored twice and teed up Raheem Sterling for City’s other goal as Arsenal crumbled to another humiliating home defeat
  • Victory saw City close the gap on runaway leaders Liverpool back to 14 points

LONDON: Manchester City got back on track as the Premier League champions swept to a 3-0 win against woeful Arsenal, while Tottenham maintained their revival under Jose Mourinho with a dramatic 2-1 victory at Wolves on Sunday.
City’s masterclass in north London and Jan Vertonghen’s last-gasp winner for Tottenham shared the spotlight on a day when Manchester United’s teenage striker Mason Greenwood rescued a 1-1 draw against Everton.
Kevin De Bruyne scored twice and teed up Raheem Sterling for City’s other goal as Arsenal crumbled to another humiliating home defeat.
Victory sees City close the gap on runaway leaders Liverpool back to 14 points and edge to within four of second-placed Leicester, who they host next weekend.
Arsenal, on the other hand, remain ninth on the back of just one win in their last 12 games in all competitions.
City struck in the second minute when Gabriel Jesus’s low cross picked out De Bruyne to fire into the roof of the net.
Pep Guardiola’s men had been ruthlessly cut apart on the counter-attack in losing to Manchester United last weekend.
But the visitors doubled their lead just 15 minutes in with De Bruyne the creator as he carried the ball forward before squaring for Sterling to slot home his 16th goal of the season.
De Bruyne showed his superior quality to any other player on the pitch again five minutes before half-time as this time he curled into the bottom corner from outside the box.
At Molineux, Mourinho’s men had to dig deep against in-form Wolves to inflict the hosts’ first league defeat in 12 games.
Adama Traore’s spectacular strike had canceled out Tottenham winger Lucas Moura’s early opener before Vertonghen stooped to guide home Christan Eriksen’s corner in stoppage-time.
Spurs can now move into the top four before Christmas if they beat Chelsea at home next weekend and Mourinho has his sights of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
“We went about a year without winning a Premier League game away and we’ve managed two in a short amount of time,” Mourinho added.
“Now we are not looking to the bottom of table, we’re looking higher up. This game is a special game because the opponent is a special opponent.”
United are one point behind Tottenham in sixth place after the momentum from their impressive recent run stalled in the Everton draw.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side fell behind to Victor Lindelof’s controversial first half own-goal after United’s appeals for a foul on David de Gea were ignored by VAR.
“It was a clear foul but there’s no point me complaining. It (VAR) will be better next year. They’ll have to look at it,” Solskjaer said.
But Greenwood, introduced in the second half, underlined his vast potential with a clinical strike 13 minutes from full-time.
The 18-year-old is the third youngest player to score a Premier League goal at Old Trafford after former United forward Federico Macheda and Danny Welbeck.
Bradford-born Greenwood, a product of United’s youth academy, now has seven goals in his breakthrough season after netting twice in his previous appearance against Alkmaar in the Europa League on Thursday.
It was fitting that Greenwood scored in the 4,000th senior match in succession in which at least one youth graduate was represented in United’s first-team or matchday squad, an extraordinary record stretching back over nine decades.
For Duncan Ferguson, Everton’s caretaker manager, this spirited performance built on the momentum from last weekend’s win over Chelsea.
But Ferguson, a popular club legend, insisted he isn’t the right man to lead the Toffees in the long-term.
“I think it’s buying them a bit of time until they can get the right man in. That’s what a couple of results does, so we can make that process more diligent,” he said.


Africa Cup switch to winter sends a chill through European leagues

Updated 21 January 2020

Africa Cup switch to winter sends a chill through European leagues

  • High-profile African players playing in England include the Arsenal duo Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang of Gabon and Nicolas Pepe of Cote d’Ivoire

CAIRO: There is little doubt that the switch by the Africa Cup of Nations from summer to winter competition will have a big impact on European competitions, with those at the top of the Premier League perhaps most affected.

The confederation confirmed that from 2021 when Cameroon will play host, the tournament will revert back to being played in January and February.

The tournament was moved to a June-July slot for last year’s edition in Egypt, which meant minimal disruption to the European domestic season. But plenty of Premier League managers will be left with problems this time next year, with several stars likely to leave for up to six weeks, including pre-tournament preparations.

Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp appears to face the biggest headache given that two of his star attacking players, Mohamed Salah from Egypt and Sadio Mane from Senegal, both featured in the African tournament last summer and are almost certain to be involved in the 2021 competition in some capacity.

High-profile African players playing in England include the Arsenal duo Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang of Gabon and Nicolas Pepe of Cote d’Ivoire, while Manchester City will lose Riyad Mahrez should Algeria feature.

Klopp is critical of the decision to move the tournament dates, calling it “a catastrophe.” Salah and Mane’s absence would leave huge gaps in the Liverpool side. There is also Cameroon’s Joel Matip and Guinea’s Naby Keita to worry about. Matip has become solid at the back. Keita, too, would be a loss given his recent resurgence.

The Liverpool manager is upset because last year’s tournament was moved to mid-year to end a long-standing clash between clubs and countries over the release of their players. It was felt that common sense had prevailed when the tournament, which since 1960 had always been held during winter, reverted to summer. African players in western European clubs would no longer find themselves the target of competing claims for their attention every other season, which would benefit the players and their clubs and countries, and lead to fewer squabbles.

But then Cameroon changed its mind about hosting the tournament in summer next year, changing the dates from June and July to between Jan. 6 and Feb. 6. Why? The weather. It’s simply too hot in Cameroon in summer.

Organizers said they had agreed to the change after discussions with player and coach representatives.

But didn’t Cameroon know beforehand that its summers are too hot, too humid and right in the middle of its rainy season? That the country does not enjoy ideal conditions for football in summer could not have taken its organizers by complete surprise.

The situation serves as a vivid reminder of the botch-up of the 2022 Qatar World Cup. The host and FIFA decided that the World Cup, which is forever played in summer, would be moved to winter because of Qatar’s oppressive heat — but that decision came only after Qatar won the bid. That change, again, will mean a head-on clash with international tournaments and club competitions.

A football tournament simply cannot keep changing when it will be held as often as people change their socks. This is especially true for the Africa Cup of Nations, which is played every two years.

A major sports tournament must have fixed times. And, to be sure, its organizers should understand that you can’t please everybody. A championship’s times are bound to clash with some tournament or other. The African tournament, for example, will avoid a clash with FIFA’s revamped 24-team Club World Cup to be played in China in June and July 2021. But it cannot but conflict with European leagues. The important thing is to stay the course. Once a date is picked, it should be stuck to like glue.