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Premier League

All Reds As Man United Plan Arsenal, Liverpool Friendly Matches In U.S. –

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Manchester United will play friendlies against rivals Liverpool and Arsenal in the United States later this year as part of their preparations for the next Premier League season.

“Tour 24” will have United take on Arsenal on July 27th at Los Angeles’s 70,000-seat SoFi Stadium. They then meet Liverpool on Aug. 3 at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, marking the biggest club soccer game ever played at the 77,559-capacity Williams-Brice Stadium

Last year, United played four close-season games in the U.S. in front of 235,168 total fans, including a sold-out game against Arsenal in New Jersey.

-Reuters

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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.

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Premier League

Arsenal suffer 2-0 loss to Villa, hand Man City title race boost

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Premier League - Arsenal v Aston Villa - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - April 14, 2024 Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

Arsenal were stunned by two late Aston Villa goals as they lost 2-0 at home on Sunday to hand the initiative in the Premier League title race to defending champions Manchester City.

Villa substitute Leon Bailey tapped home from close range in the 84th minute before Ollie Watkins’ sublime finish three minutes later sent Gunners fans streaming for the exits.

Arsenal’s defeat, their first in 12 league games, sees them remain second, two points behind City and level on points with third-placed Liverpool with six games left to play.

Following Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat at home to Crystal Palace earlier on Sunday, the weekend belonged to City who bolstered their chances of an unprecedented fourth straight league title with a 5-1 demolition of visiting Luton Town on Saturday.

Villa weathered pressure in the first half, with Kai Havertz shooting straight at goalkeeper Emi Martinez before Gabriel Jesus and Bukayo Saka hit the side-netting as an opening goal for the Gunners’ felt like an imminent inevitability.

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But Villa went closest when Watkins’ effort bounced off one post and narrowly wide of the other, while Youri Tielemans’s rasping effort hit the crossbar then the post and somehow stayed out as the visitors improved considerably after the break.

Bailey gave the visitors the lead when he turned in Lucas Digne’s dangerous cross before Watkins broke Arsenal hearts with a beautiful chip over keeper David Raya to settle the contest.

“It’s massive to come away to Arsenal when they are playing such good football and to play like that just shows where we are going really, it was a perfect away performance,” Villa’s England striker Watkins told Sky Sports.

The win boosts fourth-placed Villa’s chances of qualifying for next season’s Champions League and moves them three points above Tottenham Hotspur, albeit having played a game more.

-Reuters

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Premier League to introduce semi-automated offside technology next season

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Premier League - Nottingham Forest v Brighton & Hove Albion - The City Ground, Nottingham, Britain - April 26, 2023 A big screen displays a VAR review message with a no goal for offside REUTERS/Molly Darlington/File Photo

The Premier League will introduce semi-automated offside technology next season to speed up decision-making after the clubs unanimously agreed on the move at a shareholders’ meeting on Thursday.

The technology has been in use in major tournaments and helps limit the need for long waits for VAR reviews, where match officials manually check if a player is offside or not, while also reducing the margins for error.

“The new system will be used for the first time in the Premier League next season, and it is anticipated the technology will be ready to be introduced after one of the autumn international breaks,” the league said in a statement.

“The technology will provide quicker and consistent placement of the virtual offside line, based on optical player tracking, and will produce high-quality broadcast graphics to ensure an enhanced in-stadium and broadcast experience for supporters.”

The Premier League currently has VAR officials check offsides but the system has faced heavy criticism for the time taken to come to a decision while also leaving fans in the stadium in the dark with no replays.

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The technology involves several cameras tracking the ball as well as each player. The technology alone cannot determine if a player is offside, with VAR still having to validate it based on the data available — hence the term “semi-automated”.

The technology has been used in the 2022 World Cup and the Champions League, while most recently it was implemented at the Asian Cup earlier this year.

-Reuters

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Computers say Arsenal won’t win title, on the pitch they look like champions in waiting

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Premier League - Brighton & Hove Albion v Arsenal - The American Express Community Stadium, Brighton, Britain - April 6, 2024 Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and his players applaud their fans after the match REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

The super computers and number crunchers still don’t fancy Arsenal’s chances of winning a compelling three-way Premier League title race despite, on current form, the London club being the best team in England.

Twelve months ago Arsenal were gobbled up by a relentless Manchester City in a two-horse race, but this time Mikel Arteta’s side are showing absolutely no sign of flinching and lead Liverpool on goal difference and City by one point.

They have won 10 of their last 11 Premier League games with the only dropped points coming in a masterful 0-0 draw at champions Manchester City that was concrete proof of how much they improved from last year’s model.

Arsenal have scored 20 times in their last five away league games in which they conceded not a single goal.

They wear the confident look of champions elect but there are caveats, notably a seven-game run in that looks tougher than Liverpool’s and Manchester City’s with matches against Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Manchester United.

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Premier League data analysts Opta ran the likely scenarios through their computer after Liverpool’s 2-2 draw at Manchester United on Sunday and come up with a conclusion that will not be comforting for Arsenal fans.

In fact the weekend’s matches, which began with City’s 4-2 win at Crystal Palace and included Arsenal’s superlative 3-0 win away at Brighton and Hove Albion appear to have skewed the title race firmly in favour of Pep Guardiola’s City.

Before the weekend City were 33.6% likely to win a fourth successive title, according to Opta. That has now increased to 40.6%. Arsenal’s title-winning chance is 30.3% with Liverpool slipping from favourites to third at 29.1% — a 15.9% drop from before the last round of fixtures.

A look at the remaining fixtures explains why City are marginally the more likely to prevail in the tightest three-way title duel since City edged out a stumbling Liverpool and Chelsea by two and four points respectively in 2013-14.

Six of City’s last seven games are against Luton Town (h), Brighton and Hove Albion (a), Nottingham Forest (a), Wolverhampton Wanderers (h), Fulham (a) and West Ham United (h) with their biggest test being a trip to Tottenham Hotspur.

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Arsenal host fifth-placed Aston Villa on Saturday before Wolves (a), Chelsea (h), Tottenham (a), Bournemouth (h), Manchester United (a) and Everton (h).

Liverpool face Crystal Palace (h), Fulham (a), Everton (a), West Ham (a), Tottenham (h), Aston Villa (a) and Wolves (h).

While the algorithms still favour City, Arsenal’s hopes of a first league title in 20 years are boosted by a far superior goal difference compared to their two rivals.

In a race that looks like going to the wire, that could be crucial, although Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp knows there will be many more twists and turns to come.

“I knew it would be super tricky until the end. Until yesterday we were top, now it’s Arsenal and — I don’t know when — then it may be somebody else,” he said.

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-Reuters

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