EPL

Arsenal and Aston Villa technical staff charged by FA after altercation

By Sports Desk March 29, 2023

Members of Arsenal and Aston Villa's technical teams have been charged by the Football Association over an altercation during their Premier League game last month.

The Gunners staged a remarkable 4-2 comeback at Villa Park on February 18, sealed by a dramatic own goal courtesy of their former goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

It came after earlier goals from Bukayo Saka and Oleksandr Zinchenko had helped the visitors draw on level terms, while Gabriel Martinelli added a fourth deep in injury time.

Celebrations were marred between a clash between Villa’s head of performance analysis Victor Manas and Arsenal's technical analyst Miguel Molina, and now the pair have been charged by the FA.

"Aston Villa's head of performance analysis, Victor Manas, and Arsenal's technical analyst coach, Miguel Molina, have been charged following their Premier League game on Wednesday 18 February," read a statement.

"It's alleged that Miguel Molina's behaviour and/or language during the 94th minute was improper and/or abusive and/or insulting, and that his behaviour in the tunnel after the final whistle was also improper."

Manas and Molina have until Friday to provide a response to the FA.

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  • Euro 2024 data dive: Griezmann matches Thuram but goals finally dry up Euro 2024 data dive: Griezmann matches Thuram but goals finally dry up

    Friday's action at Euro 2024 was headlined by a heavyweight Group D clash which did not quite live up to its billing, as France and the Netherlands played out a goalless draw.

    While France misfired in the absence of Kylian Mbappe, who was an unused substitute after breaking his nose in Les Bleus' opener, it was VAR that frustrated the Dutch as Xavi Simons saw a potential winner chalked off for an offside call against Denzel Dumfries.  

    Fortunately, there was plenty of entertainment to be had in the day's early games, as Ukraine fought back to beat Slovakia 2-1 and Austria dumped Poland out of the tournament with a 3-1 success in Berlin.

    Here, we run through all the best Opta stats to emerge from the day's matches.

    Slovakia 1-2 Ukraine: Shaparenko follows in Shevchenko's footsteps

    The first game of the day was an emotional one for Ukraine, as they fought back from 1-0 down to clinch a 2-1 victory over Slovakia and blow Group E wide open.

    Ivan Schranz's goal had put Slovakia on course for a second win in two games, as he became just the second player to net multiple goals at Euro 2024 after Germany's Jamal Musiala.

    He is also just the second Slovakian player to score more than one goal at a major tournament, after Robert Vittek struck four times at the 2010 World Cup.

    It was, in many ways, a case of experience versus youth in this match, as 37-year-olds Peter Pekarík and Juraj Kucka both made their 12th major tournament appearances for Slovakia (World Cup/Euros), overtaking Marek Hamsik (11) for the most in the nation's history.

    Ukraine, meanwhile, named a starting lineup with an average age of just 25 years and 259 days – the youngest at this year's tournament so far and the first to come in under the 26 mark.

    Youthful exuberance won the day as Ukraine came on strong in the second half, Mykola Shaparenko levelling after 54 minutes.

    He became the first Dynamo Kyiv player to score at the Euros since the legendary Andriy Shevchenko did so on home soil at the 2012 tournament.

    Roman Yaremchuk then came off the bench to decide the contest with a composed touch and finish in the 80th minute, becoming just the second Ukrainian substitute to net at a major tournament, after Artem Dovbyk did so against Sweden at Euro 2020.

    It was also Yaremchuk's third major tournament goal, with only Shevchenko (four) boasting more for Ukraine.

    Poland 1-3 Austria: Veteran Arnautovic on the spot

    Austria won plenty of plaudits for their display against France on matchday one, but it did not translate into points.

    That was not the case on Friday, though, as second-half goals from Christoph Baumgartner and Marko Arnautovic downed Poland, who had seen Krzysztof Piatek cancel out Gernot Trauner's early opener.

    Trauner's ninth-minute header, his first competitive goal for Austria, made him just the second player to score on his first Euros start for the country, after Stefan Lainer versus North Macedonia three years ago.

    It was also the fastest goal Austria have scored at the Euros, and their earliest in any tournament match since they netted twice in the first four minutes versus Czechoslovakia at the 1954 World Cup.

    Ralf Rangnick's high-pressing side could not hold their lead until the interval, though, as Piatek levelled, becoming the seventh Poland player to net at the Euros and the fifth to do so on his competition debut, after Robert Lewandowski (2012), Arkadiusz Milik (2016), Karol Linetty (2020) and Adam Buksa (2024).

    Lewandowski was later introduced from the bench after missing Poland's opener due to injury, as the striker (35 years, 305 days) became his nation's oldest player to feature at the Euros. That record lasted all of 15 minutes, with fellow substitute Kamil Grosicki coming on at the age of 36 years and 13 days.

    A double salvo from Austria would later hand them a deserved victory, with Baumgartner and Arnautovic becoming the first players to net more than once for them at the Euros, having both scored at the 2020 edition.

    Arnautovic's goal, a composed finish from the penalty spot after Marcel Sabitzer was fouled by Wojciech Szczesny, made him Austria's second-oldest goalscorer at a major tournament after Ivica Vastic (38 years, 257 days), who also netted a penalty against Poland in 2008.

    Netherlands 0-0 France: Long wait for goalless draw over

    Poland later became the first team to be officially eliminated from Euro 2024, courtesy of a goalless draw between the Netherlands and France in Leipzig.

    Much of the pre-match talk centred on whether Mbappe would play after suffering a broken nose in Les Blues' 1-0 win over Austria on Monday. He had been fitted with a protective mask ahead of kick-off, yet was relegated to the bench, where he stayed throughout. 

    France struggled in attack without their talisman, with Antoine Griezmann guilty of spurning several good chances. 

    Griezmann did gain a slice of history, though, as his 32nd major tournament appearance equalled Lilian Thuram's record for the most by any outfield France player.

    The Atletico Madrid man has also started each of France's last 11 games at the Euros, with Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (18) and Germany's Toni Kroos (13) the only outfielders currently on longer such streaks for their nation.

    France's failure to find the breakthrough means they have failed to win any of their last seven games when Mbappe has not been in their starting lineup, drawing five and losing two such matches since the start of June 2022.

    In fact, it was the Netherlands who went closest to victory as Simons saw a potential winner controversially chalked off in the second half, ensuring we got the first goalless draw of this year's tournament.

    In fact, the result ended a run of 50 European Championship games without a 0-0 draw dating back to the group stages at the delayed 2020 tournament, when there was nothing to separate England and Scotland.

  • Netherlands 0-0 France: Simons denied as spoils shared at top of Group D Netherlands 0-0 France: Simons denied as spoils shared at top of Group D

    Xavi Simons saw a potential winner controversially disallowed as the spoils were shared in a 0-0 draw between the Netherlands and France in Group D at Euro 2024.

    A VAR check led to the Dutchman's 69th-minute strike being chalked off for offside, stopping the Oranje from booking their place in the round of 16 with a game to spare.

    Antoine Griezmann squandered a host of chances for France, who struggled in front of goal with Kylian Mbappe relegated to the bench due to a broken nose.

    Both sides move onto four points, and after Austria's win over Poland earlier on Friday, it is all to play for between the top three on the final matchday, with Poland the first team to be officially eliminated from the tournament. 

    The Netherlands came flying out of the blocks, with Jeremie Frimpong forcing a fingertip save from Mike Maignan with less than a minute on the clock.

    France soon found their footing though, with Griezmann, wearing the armband in Mbappe's absence, failing to scramble it in from six yards after Adrien Rabiot's lay-off before he drilled another effort just wide of the post.

    Maignan was required again when Cody Gakpo cut inside from left before whipping a firm shot across goal, as the goalkeeper got a strong hand to it.

    Just before the half-hour mark, Marcus Thuram looked set to break the deadlock after beating the offside trap, but one-on-one with the goalkeeper, he sliced his effort over the crossbar.

    After a slow start to the second half, France rallied on the hour mark, with Aurelien Tchouameni flashing a header over before Griezmann saw another glorious opportunity smothered by Bart Verbruggen at his near post.

    Against the run of play, Simons thought he had given the Netherlands the lead by picking out the bottom-right corner after latching onto the rebound of Memphis Depay's saved shot, but Denzel Dumfries, in an offside position, was judged to be impeding the goalkeeper and the goal was ruled out after a lengthy VAR check.

    Toothless France struggle without their talisman

    All the pre-match talk centred on whether Mbappe would be fit to play after suffering a broken nose against Austria.

    The answer: he was not. Instead, he started on the bench, with Marcus Thuram tasked with playing as the main forward in his absence.

    Griezmann provided their foremost threat though, appearing in his 11th consecutive game at the Euros for France – Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (18) and Germany's Toni Kroos (13) are the only outfielders on longer such streaks for their nations.

    It was a record-equalling appearance for the stand-in captain too, his 32nd at major tournaments, the most for a French outfielder along with Lilian Thuram.

    However, the forward had four of France's five first-half shots, finishing with five overall, but failed to lead Les Bleus to a statement victory.

    Still, France's wait for a win without Mbappe in their starting lineup goes on, as they have failed to come out on top in any of their last seven such matches (four draws, three defeats).

    Netherlands smother Les Bleus

    After losing both meetings in qualifying for Euro 2024 by an aggregate score of 6-1, the Netherlands were likely not too happy to come up against Les Bleus once more.

    However, in the absence of Mbappe, who has scored six goals in five matches against the Dutch, the Netherlands were able to hold firm.

    At the Euros, the Oranje have now avoided defeat in all three of their group-stage meetings with France (2000, 2008, 2024).

    Defensively, they stood strong. Despite France having 13 shots, only three were on target as they created 1.4 expected goals (xG).

    Virgil van Dijk led by example, making the most clearances (seven) of anybody on the pitch as the Netherlands protected their clean sheet.

  • Martinez has no concerns over Ronaldo fatigue as Portugal face Turkiye test Martinez has no concerns over Ronaldo fatigue as Portugal face Turkiye test

    Roberto Martinez has no doubts about Cristiano Ronaldo's ability to play 90 minutes every few days at Euro 2024, as Portugal prepare to face Turkiye in their second game.

    Portugal opened their Group F campaign with a nervy 2-1 win over Czechia on Tuesday, with Francisco Conceicao coming off the bench to net a 92nd-minute winner.

    Ronaldo – the all-time leading scorer at the Euros with 14 goals – played all 90 minutes in the Selecao's opening match, becoming the first player to feature at six different editions of the tournament (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020 and 2024).

    He endured a frustrating outing, failing to score from five shots worth 0.73 expected goals (xG) including missing one big chance, as defined by Opta.

    The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has seen his place in the Portugal lineup debated since he was surprisingly dropped by Fernando Santos at the 2022 World Cup.

    Martinez, however, feels the 39-year-old is more than capable of playing a full part, saying: "How many games did Cristiano play last season?

    "There is no other player who has been at six European Championships. He brings experience, he offers us chances to score and opens up spaces. 

    "We analyse the data and can see what he does. He's in the team because he deserves it. He can play every four days."

    Some in the Portuguese media have questioned whether Martinez should field another striker alongside Ronaldo, but the former Belgium boss wants his team to attack as a collective. 

    "He was the striker with the most shots on target, he was disciplined, he worked hard. He's an area player, he opens up spaces," Martinez said.

    "The important thing for us is to arrive in the area. We are not a direct team. We want to get into the final third with six or seven players. We don't need another player close to Cristiano, we need six or seven."

    Turkiye could call upon huge support at their opening match in Dortmund, as they overcame Georgia 3-1 in one of the games of the tournament to date. 

    Martinez predicts a hostile reception for his team on Sunday, saying: "We expect the stadium to be loud. Turkey had a lot of support in the stands. 

    "We also need to be ourselves, controlling the tempo and bringing width because that is what we do best. 

    "Turkey showed they can defend but their focus is always to attack. They are aggressive, they have character and attitude. There are no secrets."

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