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Arsenal boss Arteta admits, Man City;s Haaland is the best!

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Arsenal v Manchester City - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - February 15, 2023 Manchester City's Erling Braut Haaland celebrates after the match Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs

Erling Haaland’s incredible goal record at Manchester City sets him apart from all other players this season, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said ahead of Wednesday’s top-of-the-table Premier League clash at the Etihad Stadium.

Haaland leads the league’s goal-scoring charts with 32 goals, eight more than Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane in second and 12 more than Brentford’s Ivan Toney, who is third on the list.

The Norway international is only one short of breaking Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah’s record for the most goals scored in a 38-game Premier League season.

His total haul this campaign stands at 48 goals in 42 games across all competitions for City, including 12 in the Champions League.

“When you look at the numbers, there is no comparison with anybody else,” Arteta told reporters on Tuesday. “He (Haaland) is able to produce that as well because the setup is done in the right way for him.

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“Even with him they have the capacity to play in a different way.”

Arsenal play away to City on Wednesday hoping to regain their grip on the title race after securing draws in their last three games.

Asked how he would stop Haaland if he had to, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola divulged no team secrets, except to say it would be tough.

“What he has shown in his career, not just here, it would be difficult,” Guardiola said.

“But to be a team, to be as athletic as possible. When we played against him when he was at Borussia Dortmund, (the most effective way was) to have 70 to 80 (percent) of the ball, so he’s not involved as much as possible.

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“If you have the ball you have more chances, but the game we will play (Wednesday) will be a lot of transitions and duels.(Arsenal) plan to play an aggressive game, almost man to man all around the pitch, that’s why the only man free is the keeper.”

Arsenal’s lead over City has reduced to five points after their recent slump and they have played two more games than Pep Guardiola’s side.

Asked how the north London team are planning to silence Haaland and curtail City, Arteta replied: “We are working on their threats as well as on their weaknesses, we know where they are. City start from the keeper, he is a threat with the ball.

“They can do various things, so many things that you have to adapt to, so you have to focus on certain principles.”

Arsenal are unbeaten in their last five games in all competitions but have not won at City in the league since 2015.

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City are unbeaten in 16 games in all competitions since losing to Tottenham Hotspur in early February, with 13 wins and three draws during that run.

-Reuters

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

Premier League

Sancho back in training with Man United after positive meeting with Ten Hag

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Jadon Sancho was back training with Manchester United for the first time in 10 months, with a club source confirming the winger and manager Erik ten Hag have resolved their differences following their public fallout last year.

Sancho and Ten Hag had a positive meeting at Carrington Training Centre and the two have decided to draw a line under last season’s drawn-out argument, the club source said.

The 24-year-old Sancho made just three appearances for United last season, spending the second half of the campaign on loan to Borussia Dortmund after his relationship with Ten Hag soured in September.

Ten Hag had left the winger out of his squad for United’s 3-1 loss to Arsenal, saying Sancho’s performances in training had not warranted a place in his team. Sancho immediately lashed out on social media, accusing Ten Hag of making him a “scapegoat.”

He was banished from the first team and trained with United’s youth squad before returning to his former club Dortmund in January, where he shone during their Champions League semi-final victory against Paris St Germain, earning praise from Ten Hag. Dortmund were beaten by Real Madrid in the final.

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“(Sancho) is a very good player… he showed why Manchester United bought him and he showed he represents a high value for Manchester United, which is good,” Ten Hag told reporters following Dortmund’s 1-0 win over PSG in the first leg.

“I’m happy for Jadon, for the performance, and we’ll see what is going to happen in the future.”

Sancho will not travel with the team to Norway for their pre-season opener against Rosenborg since he began training later than the other players but the club source said he would be available for selection after that.

-Reuters

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Another Nigerian blood replaces Ndidi at Leicester

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Wilfred Ndidi who has just left Leicester City will have another Nigerian blood replacing him.

Leicester has never been without a Nigerian since Ahmed Musa joined in 2016. Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho joined in 2017.

Another Nigerian blood, Caleb Okoli, a centre back, has just been signed from Italian  Serie A side Atalanta on a five-year contract. Born in Itali, Caleb Okoli is Igbo and Yoruba by descent.

The 22-year-old, who spent the last season on loan at Frosinone Calcio, represented Italy at the European Under-21 Championship last year.

“I think now is the right moment (for me) to make a step forward and a very big one. I’m very happy with the choice I made, so I’m very excited to start in the Premier League,” Okoli said in a statement. The clubs did not disclose financial details of the deal.

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Ruud van Nistelrooy returns to Man United

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United legend Van Nistelrooy is expected to be announced as one of Erik ten Hag's assistants

Manchester United legend, Ruud van Nistelrooy has been spotted being driven into Carrington, the training ground of Manchester United.

Ruud van Nistelrooy (left) and Rene Hake arrived at Manchester United’s training ground

Reports have it that the Dutchman is set to be appointed as one of Erik ten Hag’s new assistant coaches.

He played for Manchester United from 2001 to 2006.

Now  48, he reportedly turned down job offer from Burnley to return to his old club, having previously led PSV Eindhoven to second place in the Eredivisie and victory in the Dutch Cup.

He is being joined by Rene Hake, 52, who was persuaded to give up his job as Go Ahead Eagles manager despite leading the Deventer-based club into Europe for only the third time in their history.

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