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Arsenal Target, Romeo Lavia, on Liverpool’s Radar

Romeo Lavia: Arsenal face four-way battle with Premier League rivals for  £45m midfielder | The Independent

There has been a lot of exciting transfer news regarding Arsenal, with the highest being the club finally reaching an agreement with West Ham for the services of their prized asset Declan Rice, but the signing of Kai Havertz and the imminent arrival of Rice was to see Granit Xhaka finally make his long-awaited departure to Bayer Leverkusen and Thomas Partey potentially leaving to Saudi Arabia.

This led the ITK journos publish articles that Arsenal had identified Southampton’s starlet, Romeo Lavia, as a potential replacement for Partey, should the Ghanaian make the big-money move to the Kingdom. The youngster was snatched from the Anderlecht Youth Academy by Manchester City at the age of 16, excelling in their Under-18s squad and at 17, he was drafted to the Manchester City Reserves squad, featuring consistently in the Premier League 2. Just like in the Premier League, Manchester City has been dominant in Premier League 2 winning the last three seasons, with Lavia winning the Player of the Season award in 2021.

Last season, Manchester City sold Lavia to Southampton, and he became a mainstay in the first team despite being at the young age of 19. With Southampton relegated, it is expected that a player as exceptional at Lavia wasn’t going to remain on their ranks and in all honesty, I was excited when he was linked with a move to Arsenal, he plays like a hybrid of Fernandinho and Sergio Busquets, which would suit our game just fine. 

Yes, he might cost a fortune due to his age and vast amount of potential, but I believe he’s worth the punt. However, it feels that Arsenal can only make a move for him if Partey actually leaves, and that’s speculative at best.

Liverpool, on the other hand, have emerged as the latest team to have some genuine interest in Lavia, and knowing those scousers, they don’t waste time when it comes to transfers. There was a crater in their midfield when the club parted ways with James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita. And when you think of the fact that Thiago Alcantara is always injured, Arthur Melo has been shipped back to Juventus and Jordon Henderson is getting to the twilight of his career, Fabinho is pretty much the only recognizable midfielder they have.

Which is why the club has invested in Alexis MacAllister from Brighton and Dominik Szoboszlai from RB Leipzig. Southampton will be hoping to get £50 million for their star, but it will be interest to see how genuine Arsenal’s interest in the lad is with these updates.


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Liverpool in Seventh Heaven at Anfield

Liverpool 2-0 Manchester United: Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah goals  secure win - BBC Sport

Salah scoring the goal that breaks Robbie Fowler’s Liverpool record

Liverpool hosted Manchester United at Anfield in what was proving to be a pulsating encounter following the forms of the teams involved. One of the perks of supporting a Premier League club like Arsenal, is that there will be days when you get your popcorn, soft drinks, 3-D glasses and just enjoy the drama that’s the Premier League. I went through all sorts of emotions when the Gunners hosted Bournemouth at the Emirates, and Reiss Nelson’s match winning goal is the type I’d tell my grandkids someday on a night warm afternoon in Lagos.

Following the draw against Chelsea and back-to-back losses to Brighton in the FA Cup and Wolves in the Premier League, Liverpool steadied the ship with a routine win over their Merseyside rivals, Everton, and completed the double over Newcastle on Tyneside. Real Madrid came to town and showed their class, and Jurgen Klopp’s men were rather unfortunate to leave Selhurst Park without a victory, before having some relief with the win over Wolves. This upsurge of form also put them within touching distance of the Top Four positions, making the clash against Manchester United all the sweeter. Manchester United, on the other hand, arrived at Anfield in blazing form, winning nine of their last 11 games, since the defeat to yours truly, Arsenal, in January. 

The stage was set, and I loved what I saw – high octane action from start to finish with both sides stuck in and their quality on show. There was even time for another routine Alisson Becker howler from a simple back pass, but Bruno Fernandes was more interested in trying to con the ref for a penalty, rather than you know, attacking the ball that would have led to Manchester United’s first goal.

Manchester United drew first blood when they worked up an attack from the right, and Antony whipped in a shot aimed for the bottom corner from his magic wand of a left foot, akin to the one that settled the tie against Barcelona, but Alisson was on hand to make a superb save. Lisandro Martinez showed some last-ditch defending when Andrew Robertson’s cross was bound for Darwin Nunez’s path but the tenacious hobbit defender showed some doggedness and executed a great clearance. 

Manchester United showed their confidence, with some nice attacking play, but no penetration. There was the Bruno Fernandes low diving Chicharito-esque header from a Diogo Dalot cross that missed by a lick of paint, and everyone was bemused to see the red hot Marcus Rashford fluff his chances after Luke Shaw fed him with a carefully threaded diagonal ball from the left flank. Oh yeah, there was the Casemiro header that went into the back of the net from a Fernandes cross but he failed to time his run well and was caught offside. 

You know, I’m still basking in the euphoria of winning Bournemouth on Saturday, so seeing Liverpool and Manchester United trying to tear each other apart, from a safe distance at the top of the table, was just bliss. But I wanted to see goals and boy, did they come with reckless abandon from the home side. Let’s review them shall we?

1 – 0: Cody Gakpo (43′)

After some brilliant attacking play on the left, Robertson slid in cushioned a pass in behind Dalot to Cody Gakpo. The Dutch forward sent Raphael Varane to the trenches in Paris before curling it past a hapless David de Gea rooted to the spot. And the floodgates opened!

2 – 0: Darwin Nunez (47′)

Shaw and Casemiro conceded possession cheaply, which led to a goalmouth scramble in the box. With Shaw unable to clear his lines, Harvey Elliott latched onto the loose ball and drilled it into the danger area that was nodded a point-blank range by Darwin Nunez

3 – 0: Cody Gakpo (50′)

This was the most filthy goal of the lot.

Mohamed Salah bore down on goal from the right flank from a counter and was marked tightly by Martinez. Within moments, Salah made Martinez show him his number before leaving him for dead on the Anfield turf.

WATCH: Salah humiliates Lisandro Martinez with silky dribble – All Soccer

The Egyptian Pharoah rolled the pass to Gakpo’s path, and the Dutch forward lofted in a dinked finish from a very tight angle. Beauty personified. 

4 – 0: Mo Salah (66′)

After yet another swift Liverpool counter attack, Nunez prodded a pass that ricocheted into Salah’s path, and the Liverpool ace wasted no time in blasting a right-footed volley that smashed the underside of the bar before creeping in.

5 – 0: Darwin Nunez (75′)

Liverpool won a free kick on the right, with Trent Alexander-Arnold’s dead ball delivery cleared only as far as Jordan Henderson. The Liverpool skipper lofted the ball back into the box and it was nodded home by Nunez!

6 – 0: Mo Salah (83′)

United’s defense were in sixes and sevens, and more calamitous defending was on show, as Elliott had acres of space on the right and located Roberto Firmino, who was challenged by Shaw. However, Shaw’s clearance was bereft of confidence, and the ball bounced off Firmino to Salah’s path, who wasted no time in smashing it in to make it six.

That was Salah’s 129th Premier League goal for Liverpool, which saw him surpass Robbie Fowler’s long standing record for the club. Since his arrival in 2017, Salah has been an epitome of consistency, smashing the 20-Premier League goal mark in the four of his first five seasons with the club. With 11 goals scored in the League this season, he’s odds on to make it five in six. 

7 – 0: Roberto Firmino (88′)

Roberto Firmino, that has confirmed that he will be leaving the club on a Bosman this summer, put the icing on a well baked cake with the seventh goal of the night. Mo Salah cut in from the right and found the Brazilian forward that showed good movement to get the ball under control and dispatch the ball past de Gea. Dalot tried to stop the ball on the line, but his attempt was as good as Lee Mason’s ability to draw a VAR line.

The absolutely amazing result put Liverpool on 42 points, just three behind Spurs with a game less. The seven goals also helped Liverpool’s goal difference, that moved it to + 19, so if Liverpool wins that game in hand, they’d be fourth, with them having a better goal difference than Spurs.

This was the part where I ran out of popcorn and drinks and stuff, but it was a fascinating watch, and was nice to see Liverpool in seventh heaven at Anfield.


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Thoughts on Premier League Teams Performance in Europe

Why Karim Benzema goal vs Liverpool in Champions League Final was ruled  offside | Evening Standard

Liverpool were humiliated last night by Real Madrid

The 2021/22 Premier League campaign ended in rather dramatic fashion with Manchester City and Liverpool leaving it to the final day of the season to decide the fate of the league. The Cityzens retained the Premier League title with 93 points, while Liverpool suffered heartache, as their 92 points wasn’t good enough to finish the campaign triumphant. Chelsea had some poor form in the tail end of the campaign and still finished in third place, while Tottenham Hotspurs pipped past Arsenal at the business end of the season to nick the last Champions League spot. There was a little battle between Manchester United and West Ham United to determine who would get the newly formed Conference League slot, but the Hammers had the honors.

This essentially meant that England had sent seven teams to conquer Europe in three different competitions. The early parts of the campaign saw all the teams feature in Group Stage action but at this point, we are in the business end of the competition, and I intend to see how all seven teams have fared so far in their respective competitions.

I will start with the team in the Conference League, then check out the ones in Europa and of course, the big one, the Champions League.

West Ham United

David Moyes and his West Ham side have been in the trenches all season long with just five wins from a possible 23, languishing in the relegation zone. Arsenal is also interested in one of their prized assets, Declan Rice, and with the club’s form still diminishing, I will not be surprised if the English midfielder jumps ship at the end of the season.

West Ham’s form in the UEFA Conference League though, is in stark contrast to their form in the Premier League, and I’d guess it has to do with the quality of the opposition they have faced thus far. In August, they had to go through a qualification phase, smashing six goals past Danish outfit, Viborg, to qualify for the competition proper. They were paired in the same group with Anderlecht, Silkeborg and Steaua Bucharest, amassing 18 points from their six games in the group. I guess the players are loving life in the Conference League, while their struggles continue in the Premier League.

West Ham United 2-1 Anderlecht: Jarrod Bowen and Said Benrahma score as  Hammers progress - BBC Sport

Bowen scoring Anderlecht

For winning their group, West Ham awaits the outcome of the Playoff encounters, which are currently ongoing, and the draws for the Conference League Round of 16 takes place in a couple of days. There are not much teams that can strike fear in the heart of West Ham fans at this point in the competition, but going from the Playoff results so far, the only teams worth mentioning are Fiorentina, Lazio, Villarreal and OGC Nice.

Best of luck to West Ham as they progress further in the competition.


The Gunners used to be consistent qualifiers for the UEFA Champions League with regular top four finishes in the Premier League, but shockingly, Arsenal has not featured in Europe’s elite competition for close to seven seasons, with consecutive outings in the Europa League as well as a campaign where there was no European competition at all.

Following a painful fifth placed finish last season, after losing out of Champions League qualification to their bitter rivals, Spurs, Arsenal began this season in the Europa League with a win against FC Zurich and followed it up with three consecutive wins over Bodo/Glimt and PSV Eindhoven. A shock loss against PSV occurred in the fifth Matchday, but a win over Zurich on the last Matchday was enough to win the Group.

Allow Marquinhos to introduce himself: Arsenal winners, losers and ratings  as youngster dazzles in Zurich win |

Marquinhos got his first goal for the club in the Europa League

As a result of winning their group, Arsenal has qualified for the Europa League Round of 16, and will await the outcome of the Playoff games that are still ongoing. There are still some tough sides to face in the competition, especially those third placed Champions League teams like Barcelona, Sevilla and Juventus that have come to bully those teams that started from the onset. 

Manchester United

Manchester United lost their opening match of the Europa League to Real Sociedad, and it turned out to be a decision that haunted the team for the rest of the competition. Despite winning their next five games against Sheriff Tiraspol, Omonoia and Real Sociedad in their own turf, Manchester United finished the group in second place, and got a Playoff tie against Barcelona in the knockout phase.

Barcelona 2-2 Manchester United: Marcus Rashford 'on fire' to equal most  prolific season - BBC Sport

Marcus Rashford: A Man on Fire

The first leg at Nou Camp was a pulsating encounter with both sides playing excellent football, and the 2-2 draw was a fair reflection of the proceedings. With UEFA no longer favoring the away goals rule, a winner must be decided at Old Trafford this Thursday, making it a must watch clash.


Graham Potter’s reign at the helm of affairs in Chelsea has been very shaky, with the Blues a far cry from the dominant team they used to be in years past. Even in the games they managed to win this season, the Premier League club has had to rely on Kepa Arrizabalaga to make outstanding saves to keep them in the tie.

Chelsea’s Champions League campaign started with a narrow defeat against Dinamo Zagreb, which was the final straw for Thomas Tuchel, as he was relieved of his job shortly afterwards. Potter started his Champions League adventure with a draw against Red Bull Salzburg, but four wins on the trot against AC Milan, Zagreb and Salzburg, saw Chelsea finish the group in pole position, setting up for a two-legged encounter with Borussia Dortmund.

Se impone el Dortmund 1 a 0 ante el Chelsea en la Champions

Adeyemi skipping past Kepa

The first leg loss to Dortmund doesn’t inspire any confidence but Chelsea have it all to do in the second leg in front of their home fans. Everyone associated with the club will be hoping that the moneybags have what it takes to progress to the next round of the competition.


For every Tottenham fan, it was quite the roller coaster ride against Arsenal for the final coveted Champions League spot and they must have been very elated to get it. Antonio Conte’s team was in quite the group, alongside Eintracht Frankfurt, Olympique Marseille and Sporting Lisbon. Even on the final matchday, all teams could have qualified and gotten eliminated. 

Son shines with double as Spurs sink Frankfurt - SportsDesk

Son scoring in the Champions League

In the Tottenham scaled through with 11 points, and set themselves up for a visit to the great San Siro to play AC Milan. The first leg didn’t go as planned with the Premier League side losing with a solitary goal, but they will have another chance at redemption when Olivier Giroud and his teammates visit London to take on the Lily Whites. 


Liverpool is another team that has shockingly struggled this season. For a team that finished with 92 points in the last campaign, what was expected from them was another title charge, but the sale of Sadio Mane proved pivotal as his replacement, Darwin Nunez, has been doing his best, but consistency has been an issue for the Uruguayan maverick.

Liverpool began their Champions League campaign with a 4-1 drubbing in the hands of Napoli. Jurgen Klopp’s men won the next five, which included a 1-7 annihilation of Rangers, but their head to head record with the Serie A hotshots, saw Liverpool lock horns with Real Madrid, the same side that defeated them in the Champions League final of the previous campaign.

What we witnessed last night was an utter disgrace, as the visitors ran riot against Liverpool at Anfield, scoring five goals. Liverpool needs to visit the Santiago Bernabeu and score three unanswered goals for the game to go into extra time. Hey, I’ve seen miracles, so I’d get my popcorn ready for that one. 

Manchester City

Manchester City suffered a surprising defeat to Real Madrid last season, with young striker, Rodrygo, scoring two goals in the dying minutes to send the game to extra time. This season, Manchester City coasted to the knockout stages with consummate ease, dispatching the likes of Sevilla, FC Copenhagen and Dortmund. 

Pep Guardiola’s side visit RB Leipzig tonight, reeling from dropping points against Nottingham Forest in the Premier League, just after winning the all-important clash against Arsenal a couple of days earlier.

In conclusion, the English teams in Europe still have a very good chance of qualifying to the next rounds of their respective competitions in Europe, but their opponents are certainly no pushovers. 


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