Manchester City piled more misery on beleaguered Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger with a 3-0 humbling of the Gunners on Thursday to open up a 16-point lead at the top of the Premier League.
Four days on from crumbling meekly to a 3-0 defeat as City won their first silverware of the Pep Guardiola era in the League Cup final, Arsenal disintegrated once more as the visitors scored three times in the opening 33 minutes in front of a sparse crowd at the Emirates.
Bernardo Silva, David Silva and Leroy Sane were on target to inflict a third straight defeat on Arsenal and leave them 10 points adrift of the Premier League top four in sixth place.
And a night to forget for Arsenal was complete when £56 million ($79 million) club record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saw his second-half penalty saved by Ederson. By contrast, City’s cruise towards the title continues unabated despite again not needing to hit the heights of their displays earlier in the campaign to up the pressure on Wenger’s position once more. Sub-zero temperatures and the apathy caused by Arsenal’s display at Wembley on Sunday saw thousands of seats go unoccupied at the Emirates.
The lines around the pitch were painted blue ahead of kick-off in case an expected snow shower covered the field. Unfortunately for the home fans that did brave the cold, that was the only novelty on a night of familiar failings from Wenger’s men, who have now lost seven times in 12 games this year. Arsenal had even started the brighter as Ederson prevented Vincent Kompany turning into his own net before Henrikh Mkhitaryan stung the palms of the Brazilian goalkeeper with a drive from the edge of the box.
However, they never recovered from the sucker punch of City’s opener on 15 minutes as Sane weaved away from three Arsenal challenges on the left and teed up Bernardo Silva to cut inside onto his favoured left foot and curl into the top corner. Ederson produced two more decent stops from Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey before City showed their more clinical touch in the final third just before the half hour mark. Sane was again involved before Sergio Aguero played in David Silva to slot home at Petr Cech’s near post.
City then exhibited their speed on the counter-attack for a third five minutes later as Aguero, Kevin de Bruyne and Kyle Walker combined to set up Sane to tap home his 12th goal of the season. The third goal was the cue for many of those Arsenal fans who did show up to leave, whilst the delighted travelling City fans taunted Wenger by pleading for the Frenchman to extend his 22-year reign in charge.
Aguero was looking for his 200th City goal and should have had it before half-time when his shot from De Bruyne’s cut-back was placed too close to Cech.
Arsenal’s anguish was rounded off seven minutes into the second period when Nicolas Otamendi chopped down Mkhitaryan inside the area.
Aubameyang took responsiblity from the spot, but the lack of conviction in his penalty reflected Arsenal’s performance as Ederson saved comfortably low to his left. Aguero was made to wait for his double century in City colours by a wonderful save from Cech before the Argentine was handed a rest for the final eight minutes. However, City’s wait for a fifth league title won’t last long with a maximum of just five more wins needed from their 10 remaining games.
Six clubs fined, warned by FIFA revealed
FIFA has fined six clubs from Russia and Qatar, warning that they risk one-year transfer bans, for failing to settle debts to players.
The world football governing body said the clubs also face deductions of six league points, if they fail to pay the debts in 30 to 90 days.
The clubs are: Kuban of Russia; Al Arabi and Al Kharaitiyat of Qatar; Zamalek of Egypt; Al Jazira of the United Arab Emirates; and Mersin Idman Yurdu of Turkey.
FIFA says all failed to comply with rulings by FIFA or the Court of Arbitration for Sport “to pay significant overdue amounts of money to players.”
They were fined between $15,000 and $30,000.
FIFA also said national football federations face disciplinary cases, if they fail to enforce the verdicts.
Agent reveals football club Usain Bolt will join
Australian football agent, Tony Rallis has revealed that former Jamaican sprinter and 100-metre world record holder, Usain Bolt, is in talks with Australia League club, Central Coast Mariners, a team in the country’s A-League competition.
According to Rallis, the eight-time Olympic champion is negotiating a six-week spell with the club’s chief.
“The owner of Central Coast Mariners has put his hand deep in his pocket and guaranteed 70% of the salary,” Rallis told Sky Sports Radio.
However, the Central Coast Mariners chief executive, Shaun Mielekamp has said that the club was optimistic that Bolt’s trial could be extended.
According to Mielekamp, the club had spent four months pursuing the 31-year-old, and a season-long deal could follow.
“If all goes well, who knows? He may be lighting up the A-League this season,” Mielekamp told the local Seven Network on Tuesday.
“The most important thing is we wait to find out and see how good a footballer he is first,
“Time will tell at what level Bolt is at and if it fits the A-League.”
Many failures of Nigerian football teams in four years
The poor performance by the Super Eagles at the just concluded 2018 FIFA World Cup did not come former Green Eagles winger, Adegoke Adelabu, as a surprise.
“I don’t want to believe that we have come to the point where the issues surrounding our participation in the World Cup or international competitions without success have become an accepted norm of by-gone is by-gone,” Adelabu told The Guardian after watching the World Cup final match between France and Croatia on Sunday.
“We need some explanations on what went wrong with the Super Eagles in Russia, and how we hope to correct it in the future.
Personally, I consider it as an abuse of human capacity development for a nation of about 180 million citizens, to parade a group of sport men and women for international competitions, without ensuring that they have been exposed to the limit of human capacity development both tactically, technically and psychologically before the competitions,” he stated.
To Adelabu, who played for the then IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan in his active days, Nigerian national teams brought more sorrow than joy to football-loving Nigerians in the last four years administration of the out-going board of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
“What our sport administrators fail to understand is the psychological impact of our lack of professionalism and intellectual negligence in the way we prepare for competitions. We spent so much money without having anything to show for it.”
Before the Amaju Pinnick-led board came into existence in September 2014, the nation’s football was on a steady rise.
The previous board led by Aminu Maigari won virtually everything, including the 2013 African Nations Cup title by the Super Eagles in South Africa, as well as the Golden Eaglets’ victory at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
The National U-29 team, Flying Eagles and all the three female national teams were not left out of the victory dance.
However, the out-going NFF board could not replicate the successes it met, rather, it had been harvest of more failures by the various national teams since 2014.
After the late Stephen Keshi led the Super Eagles to capture the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa in 2013, many football lovers across the continent were looking up to Nigeria to dominate the scene the 2015 AFCON held in Equatorial Guinea.
It never happened, as the Super came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with South Africa in their final qualifying Group A match at the Nest of Champions in Uyo, Akwa Ibom.
The Eagles needed to win outright, but only struggled to get a point, thereby failing to defend their Nations Cup title.
The President of NFF, Amaju Pinnick took responsibility for the failure saying: “It is a tragedy for us to come so near and yet fail to qualify for the 2015 AFCON in Equatorial Guinea.
We made so much effort and sacrifice in our last match in Congo to achieve the victory we needed there, and really had no business bungling it here.”
Pinnick then promised to make quick amend by making sure the Super Eagles qualify for the next edition of the African Nations Cup in Gabon.
It turned out to be another tragedy for Nigerian football, as the Super Eagles lost the Gabon 2017 AFCON ticket to Pharaohs of Egypt, despite enjoying the morale support from millions of Nigerians.
On a day so much was expected from the team led then by coach Sampson Siasia, the Eagles surrendered their 1-0 lead to the Pharaohs with just two minutes to end the game at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna.
The second leg in Aleixandre on March 29, 2016, saw the Eagles put every foot wrong, conceded a second half goal to give the Egyptians a passage to Gabon.
The failure at the senior level also spread to the junior teams, as the Golden Eaglets and Flying Eagles failed to qualify from Africa.
Perhaps, one major setback for Nigerian football under the out-going board was the failure of Nigeria U-17 team (Golden Eaglets to defend their World title, which Nigeria won at the United Arabs Emirates under the Maigari’s administration.
The Golden Eaglets were knocked out in the qualifying race for Africa U-17 Cup of Nations by a relatively unknown Menas of Niger Republic 3-1 in Niamey (3-2 on aggregate), thereby failing to make it to the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India.
A similar fate befell the U-20 national team (Flying Eagles), who could not qualify from Africa for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea.
The female senior national team, Super Falcons, who won the first trophy under the Pinnick-led board, the AWC title at Namibia 2014, also failed to make it to the All African Games and Rio 2016 Olympics Games.
Though, the Pinnick-led NFF board recorded few successes, as the Super Falcons won the 10th AWC title at Cameroun 2016, while the Flying Eagles won the 7th AYC title in Senegal.
There was also a silver medal by the home-based Super Eagles at WAFU Cup in Ghana, where the Nigerians suffered a 4-1 defeat in the hands of Ghana Black Stars in the final.
The Samson Siasia-led U-23 team also grabbed a bronze medal at Rio 2016 Olympics Games.
Many football fans have attributed the free fall of Nigerian football under the Pinnick-led board to the ‘deliberate’ killing of the NFF Academy, which a lot of resources had been sunk into.
Most countries now thrive on the expertise of their promising young talents, groomed through the local means.
Many believe that the Pinnick-led NFF board placed priority on Nigeria’s participation in regional, continental and international tournaments because they are ‘estacode-related.’
There seems to be lack of clear-cut adherent policies that will ensure all-year soccer activities in schools, and it has done more harm than good to Nigerian teeming youths.
In most cities across the country, what keeps the youths busy are various categories of self self-styled road-side tournaments, organised independent of respective state Football Associations.
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