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Crystal Palace 0-2 Arsenal: William Saliba and Gabriel Jesus shine | Gary Neville says Saliba is like a young Rio Ferdinand




Arsenal justified the pre-season buzz about their potential improvement with a deserved 2-0 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Two new signings and one long-awaited Premier League debut will only add to the excitement.

Arsenal’s summer seems to have been an exercise in increasing pressure. A late-season slip that allowed their rivals to secure Champions League football ahead of them was followed by a documentary recording in detail how those events played out.
Throw in transfer spending in excess of £100m that appears to have addressed the main weaknesses. Add some impressive pre-season form that included thrashings of Chelsea and Sevilla. That concoction had Arsenal supporters hoping for much, much more.
On this evidence, that optimism is vindicated. Arsenal started strongly, proving too quick and too slick for a Palace side made to look sluggish in comparison. When the pressure came in the second half, they held on before adding a second goal. It was impressive.

It has not always been that way on occasions such as this one. This is the second season in a row that the Gunners have kicked off their Premier League season under the Friday night lights. Last year, across the capital, they were bullied and beaten by Brentford.

More recently, on Arsenal’s last trip to Selhurst Park in April, there was an even more emphatic defeat inflicted. That 3-0 loss to Palace was miserable. Mikel Arteta’s side spurned the chance to move up to fourth place in the table, clear of Tottenham with a game in hand.


“It is time to accept the criticism, put your hand up and apologise because this performance was not good enough for this club,” said Arteta at the time. Subsequent defeats to Brighton and Southampton further curtailed the momentum. It proved costly.
Seven of the starting line-up for this game were the same but it is the identities of the new additions that have helped to change the mood. William Saliba is finally here. Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus come with obvious pedigree as Premier League champions.

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“We come here full of optimism. The new signings have brought more energy, quality, leadership and knowing how to win football matches,” Aaron Ramsdale told Sky Sports beforehand. “We are all trying to get into the same mindset as them.”
Winning transfer windows and winning matches are not the same thing, of course, but the signings from City and the returning Saliba all played pivotal roles in this victory. It is already clear that they can help Arsenal to become a better team this time around.
Zinchenko’s positioning

Left-back was a problem position for Arsenal last season due to Kieran Tierney’s fitness problems. Nuno Tavares was unconvincing and occasionally hapless, pressing Granit Xhaka into action in an unfamiliar role. The arrival of Zinchenko changes that.

Indeed, the Ukraine international could change rather more about Arsenal’s build-up play given that he is no ordinary left-back. His propensity to come inside to control possession was a feature of his play at Manchester City and there were signs of that here too.
“It is really interesting watching Zinchenko,” said Jamie Carragher, covering the game for Sky Sports at Selhurst Park. “He is picking up those positions inside that he did at Man City. Other times he is really high and wide. There is great mix in his play.”

It was Zinchenko’s positioning that led to the opening goal. Ben White’s decision to push forward to the edge of the box for an attacking corner distracted Wilfried Zaha and bought Zinchenko the space to head the ball on for Martinelli to score from close range.
Jesus’ clever movement


Martinelli should have scored already by that point but that chance was all about the brilliance of Jesus. The sequence of play in the fourth minute epitomised his game – winning the ball back high up the pitch before wriggling free to create the chance.

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Jesus was electric and his movement off the ball looks likely to make everyone around him better. That willingness to make runs off the ball was lacking from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette at times last season. Jesus is different.
“That is what he will bring to this team that they did not have last season,” said Carragher. “He is so sharp. He looks like he has a point to prove. He is now the main man. Every time he gets the ball around the box he looks like something is going to happen.”
It still needed some good defending for Arsenal to claim the points and much of that came from Saliba. Supporters had waited three years and three loan moves to see him in the side and he did not disappoint with a commanding display in difficult circumstances.

Ben White, pushed to right-back to accommodate the France international, was struggling to contain Zaha. But when White was beaten, there was Saliba. His tackle inside the penalty box early in the second half was expertly timed and absolutely essential.
The distribution was simple but effective. He had the best passing accuracy of anyone on the pitch. When the ball had to be headed away, he was there. No Arsenal player made as many clearances as he did. “He was very impressive,” said Carragher.

“Even before you see him play, he looks like a player, he looks the part. You are just looking for signs of it and for such a young age, how he dealt with that second half, a couple of times helping out Ben White and balls into the box. He looked the real deal.”

He needed to be good because Palace did not make this easy, pressing hard for the equaliser before Marc Guehi’s unfortunate own goal. Arsenal withstood all that. Yet another encouraging sign. And so, Arteta’s words in the build-up to the game proved prophetic.

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“We are much closer right now,” he told Sky Sports. “We had to undo a lot of things and it takes some time to change the squad, the personnel, to change a lot of things around the club. To shake and move things and get everyone aligned with the same idea.

“To build that unity and desire to be together doing something special has been extremely tricky but I think we are in the right place and everybody is excited about it.” This result – and, in particular, these new additions – will do nothing to quell that excitement.
Neville: ‘Saliba reminds me of Rio’

“The most important thing for young players generally is to play football,” Gary Neville told Sky Sports.

“We see a lot of players get stuck in between the first team and the reserves, and they don’t get football.

“Saliba has got football inside him and I was massively impressed by him.


“It reminded me of a young Rio Ferdinand. He’ll actually get stronger, and his body will become more coordinated. He’s such a young centre-back still at the age of 21.
“Crystal Palace away, that is a tough away game in the Premier League because they do throw everything at you. The forward players at Palace challenge you one on one, they drive at you all the time and they never give you a moment’s peace.

“That is a big night for Saliba, making his debut with such a strong performance.

“The clean sheet, coming through that second half when maybe Arsenal weren’t at their best in that part of the game, was the most enjoyable thing for Mikel Arteta tonight.”

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UCL: Bayern compounds Man U’s woes in 7goals thriller, as Arsenal return with a bang



Bayern Munich on Wednesday night compounded Erik Ten Hag’s Manchester United’s woes in a seven-goal thriller at the Allianz Arena.

The German champion beat Manchester United 4-3, leaving manager Ten Hag with more questions than answers about his defensive options following the team’s humiliating 3-1 home defeat to Brighton over the weekend.

Goals from Leroy Sane, and Serge Gnabri gave the German side a two-goal advantage in the first half before United fought their way back into the game.

Harry Kane and Mathys Tel completed Bayern’s lead over Man United in a game that was more of a contest than many expected.


After the break United again started well, pulling a goal back on 49 minutes with Rasmus Hojlund recording his first goal for the club with the aid of two deflections.

Within minutes, Bayern won a penalty which made the game safe, and Eriksen was adjudged – first by VAR, who advised the ref to watch a replay – to have handled Dayot Upamecano’s header.

From the penalty spot, Kane made no mistake, and though Casemiro bagged two late goals to make things interesting, Tel’s goal saw the German champions take control of the group while United desperately needed a break.

Arsenal on the other hand enjoyed a fine return to the Champions League as they thrshed PSV Eindhoven 4-0 at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners made a return to the Champions League after six years of absence from Europe’s elite competition. Arsenal last played in the Champions League in 2017.

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Bukayo Saka, Leandro Trossard, Gabriel Jesus, and Martin Odegaard all scored as Arsenal sent the right warning across.

Arsenal started a goal rush with Saka getting Gunner’s first inside eight minutes before Trossard doubled the lead, Jesus added a third before the break and Odegaard capped off a fine evening.

David Raya retained his place in the Arsenal goal having replaced Aaron Ramsdale for Sunday’s Premier League win at Everton.

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Amusan relishes historic Diamond League win



World women’s 100m hurdles record holder, Tobi Amusan, says the track in Eugene, Oregon holds a special place in her heart and her list of conquests.

The Nigerian wrapped up her season on an outstanding and record-breaking note by clinching the Wanda Diamond League title for the third consecutive year on Sunday night on the track she has come to affectionately call her own.

The 26-year-old posted an impressive performance in the 100m hurdles event at the Oregon Diamond League despite facing tough competition from Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, Kendra Harrison, Danielle Williams, Nia Ali, Tia Jones and Megan Tapper.

Amusan started off strong and maintained her lead, clearing the final hurdle and finishing with an impressive season best time of 12.33secs. Camacho-Quinn from Puerto Rico gave a strong chase, coming in second in 12.38secs, while USA’s Harrison took third place in a time of 12.44secs.


The world champion, Jamaica’s Williams, finished fourth in 12.47secs.

This remarkable victory marked Amusan’s third consecutive Diamond League title, making her only the second woman in Diamond League history to achieve a hat-trick of 100m hurdles titles.

The Nigerian athlete accomplished this feat on the same track in Oregon, where she had won the World Championship the previous year and set the current world record of 12.12secs.

After the race, an elated Amusan said, “I came out here and said it’s my race to lose, and I will give my all. I said it’s 200 or nothing because, 100 per cent, I am not winning today (Sunday). So, I came out here, and I told God to give me the strength.

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“I said this (racing in Eugene) is God’s track. I came here, I’m like ‘This is my track; I’m going to dominate’ and God did just that.”


Amusan expressed gratitude to God, dedicating her win to her coach, her family, her fans and everyone who had supported her throughout the challenging year.

“Right now, I just want to rest. I’m just grateful to God; that’s all I can say this season. This win is not about me; it’s for my coach, my family, and everyone who supported me throughout this year. It’s been a rough one, and I’m just thankful,” she said.

The record-setting victory provided a glorious end to the season for Amusan, who had experienced disappointment after failing to defend her world title at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, in August.

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I want to use my global network to help Nigerian soccer academies, says UK-born football agent, Nathaniel



Chris Nathaniel has, for several years run one of the world’s leading sports talent and entertainment management agencies – his dream is to lead a Nigerian consortium to success with a Premier League team.

Based in London, United Kingdom, and operating throughout Europe and the world for some of the top names in sport, Chris reveals how it all started for him and his team and the interesting things they do for their clients.

Chris, proud of his Nigerian roots, said: “I’ve been in the sports and entertainment business for a long time. I first started with Chelsea legend, John Terry, then Manchester United legend, Rio Ferdinand, when they were both at their peak, so two top England stars.

“I also spent time looking after Wilfred Bonny (ex-Swansea who became the highest ever paid African player with his transfer to Manchester City), Steven Nzonzi (ex-Stoke City and World Cup winner with France in 2018), Brazilian midfielder, Robinho and now Luis Diaz (Liverpool), and quite a few other players.


“I also looked after other talents like Usain Bolt and former WBC Heavyweight Boxing champion, Deontay Wilder, so sports and entertainment are in my blood. On the music front, I have worked with hip-hop icons like Jay Z, P Diddy, 50 Cent, and other talents, like models and actors, so quite experienced across the whole sports and entertainment industry.”

Nathaniel led the first ever African consortium to bid for a Premier League club Newcastle in 2008, unfortunately the bid was not accepted by then owner Mike Ashley, who eventually sold out to the Arabs.

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However, Nathaniel reveals he has unfinished business and has reached out to wealthy Nigerians, including Dangote, to launch another bid for a Premier league club. Nathaniel points to the recent valuation of clubs like Manchester United and Tottenham to highlight how Premier League clubs are great takeover targets – his knowledge of club values, structures and accessibility as takeover targets is second to none.

They are all profitable businesses and give tremendous global presence and Nathaniel believes having a Nigerian owner of a top club will not only be profitable, but it will give Nigeria a greater global profile, enhancing the economy and encouraging tourism. The potential for booming business in Nigeria will then help with the general development of Nigerian football.

Chris believes football in Nigeria needs an overhaul from top to bottom very similar to what the English FA did after continued failures at major tournaments. In England this resulted in a change of fortune for the English national team, which is now challenging for trophies for the first time since winning the World Cup in 1966.


Nathaniel said: “We look after football players, we give them full support in coaching, mental health, support their passions and everything you can imagine.

“We take care of every angle for them, our job is to make sure they have long sustainable careers, make sure the right politics are played at their different football clubs, and make sure they get the best out of themselves to become the best they can be.

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