Arsenal manager Unai Emery said he wanted his players ‘to be angry’ after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang expressed discontent at being substituted during a poor display at St James’ Park.
Aubameyang’s performance on the Arsenal left underlined the problems Unai Emery is having in deploying the Gabon international and Alexandre Lacazette together.
But that offered no excuse for the former’s poor delivery and control. Yet he still made it clear he did not accept being removed on 68 minutes.
Emery said of the player’s reaction: ‘It is normal. I want players when I change those on the field, and they are not in the first 11, to be angry… with ambition to play and help the team and to stay on the pitch. For me it is a normal situation.’
Aaron Ramsey also left the field early, after 80 minutes.
Emery said of him: ‘He played with (the Wales) national team too much and he asked to change.. it was not a big problem but he was tired. I think no problem.’
Arsenal were second best in the opening 45 minutes at St James’ Park but took control of the contest thanks to a superb Granit Xhaka free-kick and a second from Mesut Ozil just after the break.
Though Ciaran Clark responded in stoppage time, Arsenal held out to record their third victory of the Emery era and rise to seventh in the table.
Emery challenged Ozil to rediscover his best form on a sustained basis following his winner here.
Asked if Arsenal would benefit from the former Germany international’s decision to retire from international football, Emery said: ‘It’s a new way for him.
‘We want his performance each training day and in each match and for him to give us his quality. I want also his best performance for us and he worked well at first and had a good match.
‘For me, every player is the same. We want to give them confidence and also push them. Today, I am happy because I want every player to have chances to score and he scored today.
‘He has to continue helping with his quality and working hard to continue with the performances we want from him.’
3 months after, English premier league to start by June 17
The Premier League season is set to restart on June 17, three months after it was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was widely reported on Thursday.
No matches have been played in the English top-flight since Leicester’s 4-0 win over Aston Villa on March 9, with Liverpool just two wins away from securing the title.
The BBC reported that the first two matches would be Aston Villa v Sheffield United and Manchester City v Arsenal. Those matches are the two games in hand.
A full fixture list would then be played on the weekend of June 19-21, the reports said, with matches to be played behind closed doors.
The Premier League suspended all fixtures in March after Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for COVID-19.
There are still 92 matches to play and although Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool appear certain to be crowned champions, the relegation and European qualification still need to be resolved.
– Training return –
Top-flight clubs voted unanimously on Wednesday to return to contact training and were meeting again on Thursday to discuss issues including the restart date and the rebate to broadcasters.
It is predicted that clubs face repaying up to £340 million ($419 million) to broadcasters.
So far, just 12 people have tested positive for coronavirus after 2,752 tests across the Premier League.
Germany’s Bundesliga resumed earlier this month and La Liga in Spain hopes to return from June 11, while a crucial summit between Italian football officials and the country’s sports minister will be held later on Thursday.
Liverpool are 25 points clear at the top of the table while Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich City are in the relegation places.
The leaders could clinch the title with victory in their first game back should second-placed Manchester City lose to Arsenal.
Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho spoke this week of his desperation to get playing again after seeing football resume elsewhere.
“Honestly, since the moment the Bundesliga started, the Portuguese league and Spanish league announced a date to start, I think it is the most difficult moment for us, because we want to play,” he told Sky Sports.
Some players have voiced fears over their safety and that of their families due to the virus.
Watford captain Troy Deeney has revealed that people have told him they want his baby son to contract coronavirus after he chose not to return to training.
Deeney has been absent from training since Watford and other Premier League clubs returned to non-contact sessions last week.
“I saw some comments in regards to my son, people saying: ‘I hope your son gets corona’,” Deeney told CNN Sport.
“That’s the hard part for me. If you respond to that, people then go: ‘Ah, we’ve got him’ and they keep doing it.”
Deeney is understood to be due to resume training next week.
In Spain, five footballers test positive for COVID-19
No fewer than five players from Spain’s top two leagues have tested positive for coronavirus, La Liga confirmed on Sunday.
Players in Spain’s top-flight and Segunda division were allowed to carry out individual work at training grounds last week.
The move was the beginning of a staggered training programme, with the aim to restart competitive games in the middle of June.
La Liga insist identifying infected players through positive tests are part of that plan.
The five players, who have not been officially named, will now be quarantined at home and tested again “in the next few days”.
They will be allowed to rejoin their club’s training programme only after obtaining two consecutive negative test results.
A La Liga statement read: “Among La Liga Santander and La Liga SmartBank (Segunda) clubs, five positive cases were detected in players, all of them asymptomatic and in the final phase of the disease.”
“One of the objectives of these medical tests, according to the La Liga’s protocol for returning to training, according to recommendations of the CSD (Supreme Sports Council) and the Ministry of Health, was precisely to detect the denominated or asymptomatic, that is, those people who are infected and that, without presenting symptoms, they can infect other people,” the statement added.
“In this way, we guarantee everyone’s safety when returning to work according to the occupational risk regulations.”
La Liga’s training plan includes players initially carrying out work individually before then expanding into small groups and finally taking part in larger team sessions.
Barcelona’s players were back for their first session on Friday while Real Madrid’s will return on Monday.
The medical protocol for training is strict and includes players arriving already changed and at specific times to avoid contact with others. They wear masks and gloves, and have their temperatures taken before entering the premises. At the end of training, they take away a bag of fresh kit for the next day and shower at home.
The league have not officially announced the timing for the resumption of competitive matches although Leganes coach Javier Aguirre said last week the proposed date is June 20.
That could correspond with the Spanish government’s de-escalation programme, which includes outside events being allowed to go ahead in their fourth and final phase, as long as they are attended by fewer than 400 people.
Football matches are expected to be staged behind closed doors for several months.
La Liga president Javier Tebas has said “it is not an option” to cancel the top flight given he estimates the economic fallout would cost clubs around a billion euros ($1.08 billion).
But the third and fourth tiers in Spain will not complete their seasons, as confirmed by the Spanish football federation (RFEF) on Wednesday. Instead, promotions will be decided through play-offs and there will be no relegations.
8 years after death, FIFA, NFF, football greats celebrate Yekini
Football governing body, FIFA, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and football greats have paid glowing tributes to late Super Eagles striker, Rashidi Yekini, eight years after his demise.
It would be recalled that Rashidi Yekini passed away on May 4, 2012 in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital at the age of 48.
“Today we remember one of the World’s most feared strikers of his time, Rashidi Yekini who passed on to glory on this day in 2012. May his soul continue to Rest In Peace,” the NFF wrote on its official Twitter handle.
Also, FIFA posted on its World Cup Twitter handle, Yekini’s celebration after netting Nigeria’s first goal in the competition in 1994, describing it as one of the most iconic goal jubilations in the tournament’s history.
“Rasheed Yekini produced one of the most iconic celebrations in #WorldCup history after scoring the @NGSuperEagles’ first-ever goal in the competition,” the football body tweeted.
“Africa sadly lost of its greatest-ever players #OnThisDay in 2012, but his legend will live on eternally.”
His former teammates, Mutiu Adepoju and a former Super Eagles captain and coach, Sunday Oliseh, reminisced their days playing together for the national team.
“8 years ago today,” Oliseh tweeted, “we lost Nigeria’s greatest striker of all time in Rashidi Yekini. May his blessed soul rest in peace.”
In a related development, Adepoju popularly addressed as the “Headmaster” in his playing days, recalled how Yekini rescued the team in difficult times.
According to a series of tweets on his official Twitter handle, he described playing alongside the former Vitoria Setubal goal poacher as an honour, adding that Yekini gave his all for the country.
“Whenever we seem down and defeated, you always conjure your magic wand and get us out of trouble with your goals,” he wrote. “It was never a dull moment with you in camp as everyone’s ribs would be cracked at your jokes.
“You were never a contentious person and you saw everyone as your brother not minding their backgrounds. I will never forget you, Nigerians will never forget you. Always in our hearts. Rest in peace king Rasheed Yekini. You were created to score goals and your class remains unmatched!”
Also commending, an ex-Ghanaian defender, Anthony Baffoe, the former Abiola Babes star was one of the continent’s most dreaded strikers.
Baffoe tweeted: “One of Africa’s most terrific strikers Rashidi Yekini -today marks his 8th year of leaving us. Continue resting in peace Rashidi.”
The late Yekini was born in Kaduna and began his football career in the Nigerian league where he featured for teams like Abiola Babes, Julius Berger, and Gateway.
His stint abroad saw him lining up for Africa Sports National of Ivory Coast from where he teamed up with Vitória de Setúbal in Portugal and emerged as Primeira Liga’s top scorer in the 1993–94 campaign.
He struck 21 times during that season and went ahead to play for Sporting Gijon, Olympiakos, and FC Zurich.
Yekini made his senior debut for Nigeria in 1984 and went on to net 37 goals in 58 matches – the highest so far in the country’s history – until his retirement after the 1998 World Cup.
At the Senegal 1992 and Tunisia 1994 AFCONs, he scored four and five goals respectively, to emerge as the top scorer. Yekini was a member of the Super Eagles side that played in the 1994 and 1998 World Cups and also featured in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
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