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Chelsea win to boost UEFA Champions League chances

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Chelsea win to boost UEFA Champions League chances

An underwhelming Chelsea on Tuesday boosted their chances of a berth in next season’s UEFA Champions League by overcoming a slow start to beat relegated Norwich City 1-0 at Stamford Bridge.


Olivier Giroud scored with virtually the last touch of the first half as Chelsea consolidated third place in the English Premier League (EPL).

They moved four points above Leicester City and Manchester United in the battle for a top-four finish.

It was an eighth successive league defeat for Norwich, who were already condemned to relegation after losing to West Ham United on Saturday.

Chelsea struggled to convert their overwhelming possession into goals but deserved the three points after a diving Giroud scored from point-blank range.

OLAL

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Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)

Olawale Alabi: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

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2020/2021 EPL start date too early for Chelsea, Lampard says

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Chelsea manager Frank Lampard says starting the new English Premier League (EPL) season on Sept. 12 is too early.


The former England international said his players run the risk of sustaining injuries, given the short turnaround between campaigns.

Chelsea trail Bayern Munich 3-0 heading into the second leg of their UEFA Champions League last 16 tie on Saturday.

Even if they fail to overcome the deficit, Lampard’s side will have little over a month to recover before the new season begins.

“I am guessing we will be told when we start and that will be dependent on how we go against Bayern Munich,” Lampard said.

“It is not ideal if we carry on against Bayern Munich —- the players need to be given a break to play at the level and the quality product that the Premier League is.

“Even in a worst-case scenario, we don’t go through against Bayern Munich, the 12th (Sept. 12) feels too early for me for the players to start playing again.”

Cesar Azpilicueta, Christian Pulisic and Pedro picked up injuries during Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat by Arsenal in the FA Cup final and Lampard fears other players could meet a similar fate.

“The players need a break. That is why we have pulled two hamstrings and had players pull out of the game before this. I will like to think the Premier League will look seriously at that,” he said.

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Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)

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Hagi no longer manager of his own club

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Romania great Gheorghe “Gica” Hagi stepped aside as manager of his own club Viitorul Constanta on Sunday following a poor run of performances.


Hagi said in a statement that “together with the president of the club we will have to find a new manager in the next days”.

Viitorul failed to qualify for the playoffs between the top six teams in the domestic league.

Hagi, nicknamed “The Maradona of the Carpathians” and considered Romania’s all-time greatest player, founded Viitorul in 2009 and still owns the club.

It is known for nurturing young talent in the Black Sea state.

He led his club to their maiden Romanian title in 2017 and the Romanian Cup as well as the domestic Supercup last year.

Hagi, who won 124 international caps and went to three World Cups, played for several top European clubs including Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.

He won the UEFA Cup with Galatasaray in 2000.

The 55-year-old has also coached the Romanian national team, Steaua Bucharest, Politehnica Timisoara, Bursaspor and Galatasaray.

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Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)

 

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Newcastle United back to square one after Saudi take-over bid fails

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Newcastle United head into the short English Premier League (EPL) close season surrounded by uncertainty.


This has come after the collapse of the proposed Saudi take-over ——-with an owner who wants to sell the club but with no viable purchaser in place.

Club owner Mike Ashley was ready to sell the club to the investment group in a deal worth more than 305 million pounds.

This group included Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund PIF, Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners and Reuben Brothers.

But the take-over bid, announced in April, never emerged from the Premier League’s owners and directors test and on Thursday the consortium pulled out.

Fans, who had dreamt of big money signings and competing for European places, now face a more mundane reality for a team which finished 13th in the Premier League last season.

While there have been some reports of possible interest from potential purchasers in the US, no actual proposal has appeared.

Sources close to the Saudi consortium said they never had to deal with any rival bid.

The consortium blamed the prolonged scrutiny process and global uncertainty linked to the COVID-19 pandemic for their decision to withdraw.

Staveley has however suggested there may yet be some way to get the deal done.

Newcastle United managing director Lee Charnley offered similar hope by saying Ashley, founder of retail firm Frasers Group, remains committed to the Saudi deal.

“We acknowledge yesterday’s statement. Never say never, but to be clear Mike Ashley is 100 percent committed to this deal.

“However our current focus must now be on supporting (manager) Steve Bruce in the transfer market and on the preparations for the new season,” he said.

Ashley has not taken the club off the market but his chances of finding a new buyer may be hampered by the economic uncertainty following the pandemic.

“It is genuinely unlikely at the moment. Premier League buyouts either need very deep pockets (sovereign funds, et cetera) or a high degree of borrowing,” said football finance expert Rob Wilson of Sheffield Hallam University.

“This risk associated with the latter in an unsteady market looks unlikely. Hence, with no Saudi acquisition, it looks difficult,” he added.

Newcastle United have not featured in the UEFA Champions League since 2004.

They have not even won the English title since 1927 or the FA Cup since 1955, in spite of claiming one of the country’s largest fan bases.

One of the key problems for the bid was the continued conflict over Saudi Arabia’s response to cases of unauthorised broadcasting of Premier League games in the country.

This is part of a long-running dispute between the kingdom and neighbouring Qatar.

A source close to the bid said that PIF had offered to put together a Saudi consortium to buy the rights to broadcast the games in Saudi Arabia.

This is in view of the fact that Qatari company BeIN Sports, who owns the rights, has had its licence to broadcast in the kingdom removed.

Another source close to the deal put the blame for its collapse firmly on the Premier League.

“The problem with the deal was the intransigence of the Premier League. Everyone else was happy to proceed,” the source said.

The Premier League, who last year hired legal counsel to deal with the broadcast issues in Saudi, has declined to comment.

Former Newcastle United and England forward Alan Shearer said on Friday that disappointed fans were hoping that a new owner would yet emerge.

“There’s a lot of anger, understandably so, and a massive amount of disappointment,” he said.

“We can only hope and pray that new owners come in at some stage and take the club back to where it belongs because that’s what the fans of Newcastle United deserve.”

(
Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)

 

 

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Liverpool defender Lovren completes movement to Zenit St. Petersburg

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Zenit St. Petersburg have signed centre-back Dejan Lovren from Liverpool on a three-year contract, the Russian champions announced on Monday.


Lovren, who joined Liverpool from Southampton in 2014, leaves Anfield after making 185 appearances in all competitions, scoring eight goals.

No financial details were disclosed but British media reported Liverpool have agreed a deal worth around 11 million pounds with Zenit St. Petersburg for Lovren.

Lovren was part of the Liverpool squad which won the 2018/2019 UEFA Champions League, and the Super Cup and Club World Cup in 2019.

This was in addition to the English Premier League (EPL) crown in 2019/2020, which ended Liverpool’s 30-year top-flight title drought.

The Croatia international was limited to 15 club appearances across all competitions this season, after Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk emerged as Juergen Klopp’s first-choice pairing in the central defence.

“In the first part of the season until he got injured, he was in the team and had super games. Absolutely super games,” Klopp told the club’s website.

“Really good, in the air (like) a machine, and I really liked working together with him. It will be interesting to follow Zenit St. Petersburg now.”

Capped 57 times by Croatia, Lovren was part of the team that finished as runners-up in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, losing 2-4 to France in the final.

Zenit St. Petersburg successfully defended their Russian Premier League this season, winning the competition for the sixth time.

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Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)

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