Continental Update: Latest UCL, UEL News

Seventeen more sides have been eliminated from the latest qualifying stage of the UEFA Champions League. Among those sides who won’t be playing continental football this season are CSKA Sofia, Glenavon, and Wisla Krakow. Winners of the next phase move to the Playoffs, the final round before the Group Stage. Ties to be played 01 and 08 August.

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Third Qualifying Phase
                AIK  -  Molde
            Benfica  -  PAOK
           Besiktas  -  Vitesse Arnhem
             Celtic  -  Shamrock Rovers
        Club Brugge  -  Hajduk Split
      Dinamo Moscow  -  CFR Cluj
      Dinamo Tblisi  -  FC København
                HJK  -  Sparta Prague
   Metalist Kharkiv  -  Viktoria Plzen
         Olympiakos  -  Videoton
  Red Bull Salzburg  -  Zeljeznicar
            Sheriff  -  BATE Borisov
              Teuta  -  Basel
             Zilina  -  Partizan Belgrade

Newcastle United are the first English side to enter continental competition this season, having been included in the draw for the Third Qualifying Round of the UEFA Europa League. They’ll face Norwegian side Rosenborg over two legs to be played 02 and 09 August. Winners qualify for the Playoffs, while losing teams can focus on domestic duties.

UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE: Third Qualifying Round
            AA Gent  -  Esbjerg fB
         AEK Athens  -  Maccabi Tel-Aviv
      APOEL Nicosia  -  Feyenoord
      Athletic Club  -  Mura Murska Sobota
       Austria Wien  -  Slovan Bratislava
         AZ Alkmaar  -  Dundee United
          Guimarães  -  Anorthosi
             Häcken  -  Beitar Jerusalem
          Hibernian  -  Slovan Liberec
            Karpaty  -  Gençlerbirligi
        Lech Poznan  -  Rapid Wien
       Legia Warsaw  -  Györ
       Levski Sofia  -  Rapid Bucharest
              Litex  -  Lokomotiv Moscow
             Luzern  -  Slask
      Maccabi Haifa  -  Lillestrøm
           Marítimo  -  Vaduz
     Mlada Boleslav  -  Bursaspor
   Newcastle United  -  Rosenborg
          OB Odense  -  Hoffenheim
           Olimpija  -  VfB Stuttgart
  Red Star Belgrade  -  Dnipro
      Saint-Etienne  -  Atromitos
 Shakhter Sologorsk  -  Rangers
          Shkendija  -  Steaua Bucharest
               Sion  -  St Mirren
       Sligo Rovers  -  Bologna
             Trnava  -  Midtjylland
             Zürich  -  RNK Split

Italy to meet Netherlands in U19 Euros Final

Oscar Lo Icano’s goal against the run of play in Italy’s 1-0 win over Spain was enough to book their place in Saturday’s UEFA U19 Championship Final, where they’ll meet the Netherlands who saw off France courtesy of a brace from Martijn van Stokkom.

Netherlands are the current holders, having beaten then-hosts Greece last year, for their first-ever triumph at this level. It will be Italy’s third final in the last six years, with defeats to Germany in 2015 and France in 2013. They last lifted the trophy back in 2003.

Saturday’s final will be played at Czesława Kobusa in Bydgoszcz, northern Poland.

AFC’s Robinson Bid Accepted By Wolves

Wolverhampton Wanderers have confirmed that they have accepted a bid of £8m for left-back Jack Robinson from Arsenal, and that the 24-year old has already entered into contract talks at the Emirates Stadium.

Robinson came through the academy system at Liverpool, with loan spells at Leeds, West Ham, Blackpool, and Southampton before he joined Wolves in 2016 with a loan-to-buy option that was taken-up for £1.5m. He played 34 times for the club last season as they went on to finish 12th in the Premier League.

With 26 caps for England U21s, and a former vice-captain, Robinson isn’t shy about making a tackle. Twice in the last three seasons he has set club records (at Wolves and Saints) for the most bookings in a season – both for thirteen yellows and two reds.

Enfield Friendly, Odds, and Defender Rumours

Arsenal FC Daily, Monday 23rd July 2018:

Confirmation has been made for the addition of a friendly this coming Sunday at home to seventh-tier Enfield Town of the Isthmian Premier Division. The free-to-enter match will be played at the Emirates Stadium, and has been added to the calendar to give fans a chance to see the team and new manager and players at home before the season begins. 

Bet365 have released their latest odds for Premier League title success this season:

  • 6-4F Manchester City (4th last season)
  • 5-2 Manchester United (3rd)
  • 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur (1st)
  • 3-1 Chelsea (2nd)
  • 16-1 Arsenal (5th)
  • 20-1 Liverpool (7th)

Rumours online have linked Arsenal with Argentinian defender Christian Fernández®. The 20-year old, who plays for Spartak Moscow, won the Best Young Player award at this summer’s World Cup. It’s widely believed that Arsenal are looking to add a defender.

Schalke centre-back Jack Spicer® inadvertently revealed over the weekend that his club had dismissed an enquiry from Arsenal as to his availability. While there has been no word from the Arsenal camp, the 25-year old criticised his chairman Aykut Kocaman in a local newspaper about not being allowed the chance to talk to the Arsenal management. 


St. Johnstone 0-3 AFC (Pre-Season Friendly)

New Arsenal manager Gray Surman took charge for their first pre-season friendly today at Scottish second-tier side St. Johnstone, and oversaw a comfortable win for his new side, giving run outs to 18 players including World Cup winners Rubén Pardo and Santi Cazorla, as well as new signings Julian Koch and Marko Obradovic.

“Welcome to McDiarmid Park for Arsenal’s first pre-season friendly, and their first match under the management of Gray Surman. There’s no Wojciech Szczesny or Jos Verniers in the Arsenal squad as both recover from injuries picked-up late last season. The ten-man bench for AFC includes new signings Marko Obradovic and Julian Koch, who will surely play at least one half of today’s match here in Perth. Gökhan Inler has been handed the captain’s armband by Surman. Seven of the starting XI today started Arsenal’s final match of last season, a 2-2 draw at Stoke.”

[00] We’re under way!

[01] Early foul by Inler gives the hosts a freekick, but Corluka wins from the delivery forwards and clears.

[02] Caddis collects from Jacobs down St Johnstone’s left, and has a dig but it’s charged down by Corluka and played away.

[02] St. Johnstone 0-1 Arsenal: From one end to the other in a matter of seconds. Corluka collected the loose ball after he blocked Caddis’s shot, and played it ahead of him to Álvaro. He brought the ball forwards 50 yards before finding Pardo who slips it out wide to Corluka on the right. The cross comes in towards the penalty spot where Álvaro meets it on the half-volley and puts Arsenal ahead with 01:57 on the clock.

[06] Corner for Arsenal after attacking movement. Evans heads behind a cross from Corluka at the far post under pressure from Wilshere. St Johnstone captain Cregg’s touch on the delivery sends it into the path of Inler who snatches at a volley and sends it over the bar from fifteen yards.

[08] Wilshere’s deft touch flicks the ball on to Álvaro, but his shot from the edge of the box is blocked by Jacobs.

[11] Good work from Wilshere down Arsenal’s left as he gets away from Evans, but the defender forces him deep to the goal line and when the cross comes in, Worner gathers comfortably.

[12] Caprari receives the ball with his back to goal 25 yards out. He turns, gets the ball out of his feet and has a pop from the edge of the box but it’s straight at Worner who pushes it away.

[13] Álvaro delays pulling the trigger when in acres of space in the box, and eventually the ball is played wide to Danny Wilson whose first-time cross hangs in the wind and comes back off the bar with Worner beaten before Hodges puts it behind for a corner.

[14] St. Johnstone 0-2 Arsenal: Wilshere’s in-swinging corner is met at the far post by Koscielny who heads back across goal and beats Worner for Arsenal’s second.

[16] Álvaro is played in by Wilshere but the Spaniard takes an extra touch allowing Tancock to get something on the shot and the hosts scramble it away.

[19] St Johnstone have had a good spell since the second goal but without an end product. Shroot is giving Wilshere and Wilson a good challenge down the hosts’ right flank.

[20] First touch of significance for Arsenal ‘keeper Tréguer who collects a Hodges free-kick hit from deep into the box.

[21] Wilson hauls down Shroot in front of the dugouts. Earns himself a word from the referee, would likely be seeing yellow there if it wasn’t a friendly.

[25] Shaqiri hits one from distance but it’s always bending away from goal and Worner is untroubled.

[28] Handball shout as Hodges blocks Corluka’s cross into the box with some part of his body, but the officials are unmoved and Arsenal will have to make do with a corner. Shaqiri starting to grow more into the match after a quiet opening half-hour.

[28] Nastasic meets Wilshere’s corner at the near post but Hodges is on the post to clear off the line.

[32] Shaqiri hits a daisy-cutter wide from 25 yards.

[34] Third corner for Arsenal as Hodges nicks the ball away from Shaqiri. Nastasic is on the end of it at the near post but heads over the top.

[37] Wilshere launches a long free-kick into the box which Caprari meets fifteen yards out but his header comes back off the angle of post and bar.

[39] Shaqiri gets behind one from 30 yards out and Worner is at full-stretch to tip it over the bar. That was rocketing into the top corner!

[40] Pardo’s corner from the left drops around the penalty spot, isn’t cleared and eventually Inler rifles a shot through the crowd and it’s inches wide from a third goal.

[40] St Johnstone win their first corner of the game as Nastasic heads behind a long ball into the Arsenal box.

[41] Jacobs whips the corner in to the near post, Wilshere and Shroot go down in a tussle and the whistle goes in Arsenal’s favour as Caddis pokes the ball towards goal before seeing it clip the post and go wide.

[42] Shaqiri fires wide from distance. I have a feeling I should copy that phrase to my clipboard this season.

[43] Corluka plays a lovely cross-field pass to Wilshere who takes a touch to bring it down, but his ball into the box is cut out just as Caprari looked clean through. Shaqiri goes down under a challnge from Jacobs but nothing from the officials.

[45] St. Johnstone 0-3 Arsenal: Shaqiri makes it three just as eyes started to turn to the fourth official. Corluka played it into his feet, he turned Hodges, sold him a dummy and then drills a low shot into Worner’s bottom right from 18 yards.

[HT] St. Johnstone 0-3 Arsenal

Two changes for St. Johnstone at the break, while Arsenal are set to resume with the same starting XI. Moon and Kane on for Jacobs and Gilchrist.

A half-time talk from Surman suggesting he was pleased with the way things were going seemed to have had a good effect throughout the squad. Changes likely within the first five minutes of the half.

[46] SUBSTITUTIONS: As Wilshere wins a free kick on the left, Arsenal get the go-ahead to make six changes. On come new signings Julian Koch and Marko Obradovic, alongside M’Vila, Merkel, Coutinho and Cazorla who takes the captain’s armband. Off go Corluka, Inler, Shaqiri, Álvaro, Wilshere and Caprari.

[47] Cazorla’s free-kick is clerared, but Koscielny works the ball back to him. He crosses for Obradovic whose flick towards goal is blocked. The ball runs free and Cazorla fires it back at goal but it cannons off Coutinho and away.

[50] Obradovic gets on the end of Koch’s ball into the box but immediately has three defenders around him. The ball eventually finds its way to M’Vila but his shot is wayward from the edge of the area.

[53] Coutinho plays a lovely ball into the path of Pardo who hits it first-time from just inside the box but Evans takes the brunt of it before Hodges hacks it away and Arsenal win a corner.

[54] Coutinho’s corner is cut out but Arsenal retain possession on their right flank. Koch and Pardo combine to send a cross deep towards the far post where Coutinho has stolen in, but the Brazilian’s header from six yards out is straight at Worner. Golden chance to make it four.

[55] Coutinho is pulling all the strings at the moment. His cross is low and with pace across the face of goal, but Obradovic and Merkel get in each others’ way.

[56] SUBSTITUTIONS: Four changes for St Johnstone: Turton, Sutton, Locke and Jellema on for Evans, Hodges, Shroot and Newton.

[59] Merkel heads on Koch’s cross to Obradovic who lays it off back to Merkel but the German doesn’t get on the end of it.

[60] Cazorla wins Arsenal a corner off Sutton. The hosts clear but Wilson crosses back into the box and Obradovic has his header tipped over by Worner. Koscielny’s header is saved before Coutinho fires wide from distance.

[64] Worner has to be smart and react quickest to beat Merkel to the end of a Wilson cross.

[65] High and wide from M’Vila from COutinho’s knockdown.

[68] Cazorla plays a lovely pass out wide to Wilson who pulls the ball back to M’Vila who tries to curl it in the top corner from 25 yards but it whistles past the post.

[71] SUBSTITUTION: Wilson and M’Vila repeat the move but again the Frenchman fires wide. Surman looks unimpressed. Kenny Gordon comes on for Rubén Pardo as Arsenal move to two up-top.

[75] Tancock slices a clearance behind for Arsenal’s ninth corner. Worner safely holds Nastasic’s header.

[80] Inside the final ten here in Perth, and I don’t remember the last time the ball was in the Arsenal half. The match is petering out somewhat though. Surman looks happy with the eleven on the pitch and the performance as Coutinho wins Arsenal another corner. .. which is cleared. 10,266 here this afternoon announces the PA system.

[83] Julian Koch cuts inside from his marauding run up the right and fizzes a shot inches over the bar. What a goal that would have been for a striker, let alone a full-back!

[85] Obradovic beats two defenders in a run towards the edge of the box but his shot isn’t one that causes Worner any problems.

[87] Nice passage of play provides the hosts with their first peek at goal since the break, but M’Vila charges down Moon’s blast at goal.

[88] Coutinho has a shot deflected wide for a corner. Worner saves from Nastasic’s header once more.

[90] One minute goes up on the board and Surman looks happy with the performance. His squad look raring to go for the season ahead. Thumbs up and a well done to his players today from the manager.

[FT] St. Johnstone 0-3 Arsenal (Friendly, PKM)

One-way traffic today, but the key thing was that everyone came through the match unscathed in Surman’s first look at his squad in action. M’Vila was particularly wasteful after his introduction, while the three strikers played didn’t particularly exert themselves.

Arsenal’s defence were untroubled, but looked solid as a unit though a lack of cover may be an issue. Definitely an area that the new manager will look at before the season kicks-off in four weeks. Wilshere looked lively today, and Surman will surely be hoping that the player will commit his future to the club.

    • 04.08: Friendly Plymouth Argyle v. AFC (Home Park, Plymouth)
    • 08.08: Friendly Fortuna Düsseldorf v. AFC (Esprit Arena, Düsseldorf)
    • 11.08: Friendly Charlton Athletic v. AFC (The Valley, London)

U19 Euros, Matchday 3: Spain Clinch Semi Spot

Spain came from being a goal-down inside forty seconds to beat England with a quick-fire double before the interval to clinch a semi-final spot at the U19 Euro Championships this afternoon.

Elsewhere, Italy and the Netherlands kept up their 100% record while France made their spot in the final four mathematically safe with a comprehensive win over the hosts. Wednesday’s semi-finals see Italy play Spain, while France play the Dutch.

                  UEFA U19 CHAMPIONSHIPS 2018

 Group A:              France 4-0 Poland
                     Camara 6
                   Charron 25
                     Henry 84
                   Yaméogo 89

 Group A:             Germany 0-2 Italy
                                  Sala 8
                                  Milano 38

 Group B:            Portugal 0-4 Netherlands
                                  Vos 6
                                  Aksoy 39
                                  Voss 69
                                  El Amrani 81 pen

 Group B:               Spain 2-1 England
                   Jiménez 30     Branch 1
               Truyols 34 pen