EPL

Crystal Palace 0-2 Arsenal: Gunners begin with a win at Selhurst Park

By Sports Desk August 05, 2022

Arsenal began the new Premier League season in fine fashion with a 2-0 victory away to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

New signings Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko made their debuts for Mikel Arteta's side on Friday and both made an impact, with Jesus catching the eye and Zinchenko providing the assist for the opening goal of the game.

Gabriel Martinelli was the beneficiary, heading in from close range, with Arsenal belatedly adding a second in the closing stages when Bukayo Saka's cross was deflected into his own net by Marc Guehi.

Palace had chances to equalise in the intervening period, forcing strong saves from Aaron Ramsdale, but he and Arsenal stood firm to earn their first three points of the new campaign.

Jesus immediately showed what he will bring to Arsenal by dancing through the Palace defence before seeing his shot deflected into the path of Martinelli, who wastefully missed the target.

Martinelli soon had his goal, however, as Saka's deep corner was headed back across goal by Zinchenko for the forward to nod in.

Early opportunities were few and far between for Palace, but a golden chance fell to Odsonne Edouard before half-time and his header drew a strong save from Ramsdale down to his right.

Ramsdale was again called into action early in the second half, with Wilfried Zaha feeding Eberechi Eze, who aimed his finish too close to the England goalkeeper.

Arsenal invited pressure in the closing stages, but Palace could not capitalise and saw their hopes of rescuing a result dashed unwittingly by Guehi.

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  • Man Utd target Gakpo suggests Champions League qualification will keep him at PSV Man Utd target Gakpo suggests Champions League qualification will keep him at PSV

    Reported Manchester United target Cody Gakpo believes he is more likely to stay at PSV than leave if they qualify for the Champions League.

    The 23-year-old winger has been linked with several Premier League clubs in this transfer window, with Leeds United and Arsenal initially considered potential destinations.

    United then emerged as apparent suitors following their shock 2-1 home defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion on matchday one of the Premier League season.

    Although the Red Devils have signed Tyrell Malacia, Lisandro Martinez and Christian Eriksen, it has been a frustrating window for new manager Erik ten Hag, with several other areas of the squad widely deemed to be lacking quality in depth.

    Defeat to Brighton only further highlighted some of United's issues, and reports early in the week suggested a £35million bid was being prepared for Gakpo, a winger who is capable of playing through the middle.

    But Gakpo will seemingly be happy to stay at PSV if they can reach the Champions League group stages – they are due to face Rangers in their qualification play-off after the Eredivisie side saw off Monaco in a 4-3 aggregate win that was secured by a dramatic 3-2 success after extra time in Eindhoven on Tuesday.

    Asked about his future after the game, Gakpo told ESPN: "We must first focus on and try to make it to the Champions League.

    "Then it is more likely that I will stay. I don't think I have said anywhere that I am leaving, so there is definitely a chance that I will stay.

    "I'm open for a cup of coffee with the management – or coffee for them and water for me. We'll see how it goes."

    Gakpo appeared to be a backup option after United were unable to lure Antony away from Ajax, who reportedly value the Brazilian at approximately €82m (£70m).

    It was rumoured that United hoped the presence of former striker Ruud van Nistelrooy – who is head coach at PSV – might have been able to encourage an agreement, but it would appear Gakpo is in no rush to depart.

  • Helsinki gets its chance as Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt roll in for the Super Cup Helsinki gets its chance as Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt roll in for the Super Cup

    Football might not be the first thing that springs to mind if you were to think of Finland.

    Long winter nights, saunas, Lapland, reindeer. A quick google search highlights telecommunications company Nokia as its most famous exporter, and that it is renowned for being "the happiest country in the world" with the best education system and cleanest air… oh, and the hotel where this reporter has been staying boasts "the best tap water in the world", too.

    Little mention of football, though. After all, ice hockey is the prominent sport here.

    Finland qualified for Euro 2020, but their sole win in the competition was overshadowed by the fact it came in a game in which Denmark's Christian Eriksen collapsed on the pitch in Copenhagen, having suffered a cardiac arrest. It was the nation's first appearance at a major international tournament.

    Not that there haven't been some notable Finnish players down the years. Jari Litmanen played for Ajax, Liverpool and Barcelona throughout a long career. Sami Hyypia spent a decade at Anfield from 1999 to 2009, while Jussi Jaaskelainen played in the Premier League for 18 years over spells with Bolton Wanderers and West Ham. Laura Osterberg-Kalmari was nominated for FIFA Women's Player of the Year in 2005 and 2006.

    More recently, Teemu Pukki has impressed with Norwich and Lukas Hradecky has been one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the Bundesliga across recent seasons.

    Hradecky, now at Bayer Leverkusen, made his name at Eintracht Frankfurt, and it is the German side – Europa League winners last season – who have travelled across the Baltic Sea to take on the might of Champions League holders Real Madrid in the Super Cup.

    Litmanen, Osterberg-Kalmari and Jaaskelainen were all guests at UEFA's fan park on Tuesday, a day ahead of the match at the 36,000-capacity Olympic Stadium.

    The Champions League, Europa League and Super Cup trophies were on show, though outside the fan park it would have been easy to miss that there was a major European match heading to the city. Indeed, on the opposite side of Helsinki’s grand central train station to UEFA's festivities, a music and arts festival was drawing a much larger crowd.

    That will surely change on Wednesday.

    Madrid are expected to bring approximately 1,800 fans. Meanwhile, 10,000 are anticipated to be arriving in support of Eintracht. 

    The signs were there even as Stats Perform arrived in Helsinki on Monday, with pockets of Eintracht supporters travelling into the city. A day later, the fan park was mostly populated by local football fans enjoying the rare occasion of such a major sporting event – involving one of the world's biggest clubs – coming to their city.

    Helsinki's centre will likely be a hub for Eintracht's travelling masses, and even as Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti ran the rule over his side in an opening training session on Tuesday, fans of the German team were making their presence heard outside the ground as the team coach departed.

    It's nothing new, though. Barcelona coach Xavi was left furious last season after 30,000 visiting Eintracht fans were said to have managed to gain entry to Camp Nou to watch their team sensationally knock out Barcelona in the Europa League quarter-finals. For the final against Rangers, held in Seville, authorities estimated that 50,000 Eintracht supporters made their way to the Andalusian city.

    "They played a big role, if I remember the game in Barca, 30,000, something special and it helped us a lot to perform at this level. They're not here to sightsee, they're here to support us because they believe in us," said goalkeeper Kevin Trapp in Eintracht's pre-match news conference.

    "Tomorrow will be the same, we know there’s going to be 10,000 again. We try to give our best and be able to celebrate again. It's a huge part of this club, this team, it's helping us every time."

    Eintracht might have the more raucous travelling support, but any local neutrals are likely to be in attendance to watch the stars of Madrid. Ancelotti, asked about his brief experience of Finland so far, compared the country to Canada, the home of his wife, and in training his team looked sharp as they put on a show for the assorted media and a small group of fans soaking in the late evening sun.

    Karim Benzema and Luka Modric accompanied Ancelotti in Madrid's media conference, just two of the superstars set to line up in all-white on Wednesday. Ancelotti, as amiable and as composed as ever, confirmed both players would start – unless they had any objections. His team are just rounding off their pre-season, and there were some signs of players still shaking off some rustiness in the finishing drills that ended their practice session.

    Eintracht opened their Bundesliga campaign with a 6-1 hammering at the hands of Bayern Munich, and head coach Oliver Glasner knows that, even if his side are underdogs, they cannot show such naivety against the 14-time European champions. With key player Filip Kostic absent to complete a move to Juventus, Eintracht must avoid another humiliation, even if it is an outstanding achievement to have reached this showpiece in the first place.

    As for Helsinki, it might be a far cry from the football hotbeds of Paris, London, Milan, Munich or Madrid, but those cities have their fair share of big matches already. The welcome has been warm, the weather perfect and the stadium – constructed in the 1930s but recently renovated – an ideal venue.

    Interviewed after his appearance at the fan park, Litmanen told Stats Perform: "It's very important for us to have this kind of game because we don't see these things very often. We cannot get the Champions League final we haven't been in the World Cup or the European championships. This is a big game for Finland."

    Now it's time to enjoy the show.

  • Rumour Has It: Man Utd investigate attacking moves for Sarr, Morata and Gakpo Rumour Has It: Man Utd investigate attacking moves for Sarr, Morata and Gakpo

    Manchester United are scrambling for further reinforcements after their troubling loss to open the Premier League season, with Watford's Ismaila Sarr, Atletico Madrid's Alvaro Morata and PSV's Cody Gakpo all named as potential forward solutions.

    Sarr, who scored a spectacular goal from the halfway line against West Brom on Monday, slowed after a strong start in the Premier League last season.

    Meanwhile, Morata is back at Atletico after two years on loan at Juventus, and Gakpo, just 23, has hit the ground running for Champions League chasers PSV in the new season.

    TOP STORY – UNITED WEIGH UP HOST OF FORWARD OPTIONS

    The Sun reported interest in Sarr, ESPN detailed the Morata story, and The Telegraph had the scoop on Gakpo, indicating there are plenty of moving parts behind the scenes at United, and they are casting a wide net.

    While no price has been named for either Sarr or Morata, Gakpo figures to demand a fee in the range of £35million, while The Telegraph is reporting the club are also assessing the availability of Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who Corriere dello Sport suggests would cost €50m.

    Milinkovic-Savic, 27, would likely fill a similar role envisioned by Erik ten Hag for Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong – who has ruled out a move to Old Trafford – and could relegate one of Scott McTominay or Fred to the bench.

    ROUND-UP

    – Fabrizio Romano is reporting Manchester City are closing in on a transfer worth at least €10m to bring Anderlecht left-back Sergio Gomez to the Premier League. 

    – According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal are in discussions with Milan about acquiring 22-year-old midfielder Sandro Tonali, who the Italian club value at £46m.

    – Metro claims Arsenal are also leading the race for 19-year-old winger Yeremi Pino from Villarreal, with the club said to be willing to meet the £33m asking price, while Liverpool are also interested.

    – Foot Mercato is reporting Nottingham Forest are pushing to sign Villarreal's €20m Ecuadorian full-back Pervis Estupinan

    Chelsea are preparing a £12m move for 19-year-old Inter midfielder Cesare Casadei, per the Evening Standard.

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