NBA

NBA Heat Check: Williams steps up, Tatum suffers dip and what next for Drummond?

By Sports Desk February 15, 2021

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  • Arteta praises 'unique' Saka after Gunners finally fire to relegate West Brom Arteta praises 'unique' Saka after Gunners finally fire to relegate West Brom

    Mikel Arteta praised "unique" teenager Bukayo Saka after Arsenal ended a miserable week by relegating West Brom with a 3-1 Premier League victory on Sunday.

    The Gunners are facing the prospect of missing out on European football for the first time in 25 years next season after they were knocked out of the Europa League at the semi-final stage by Villarreal on Thursday.

    A drab goalless draw against the Spanish side – coached by former Gunners boss Unai Emery – was a new low for Arsenal and piled more pressure on Arteta, but they responded with a first home win in seven games.

    Emile Smith Rowe scored his maiden Premier League goal before Nicolas Pepe added a second with a sublime finish to put Arsenal in command.

    Matheus Pereira pulled a goal back midway through the second half, but Willian finally opened his Arsenal account with a brilliant late free-kick as Baggies boss Sam Allardyce suffered the agony of relegation from the top tier for the first time.

    Saka laid on the opening goal for Smith Rowe and has provided 19 assists in all competitions, the most of any player for the club since making his debut in November 2018.

    The 19-year-old was a constant threat, delivering five crosses and producing two key passes in a performance that Arteta was more than happy with.

    He told BT Sport: "Going forward we know Saka is a threat, he gives you something unique. He adapted. We believed we were going to attack against them and he gave us a lot of joy."

    Arsenal are ninth in the table with surely only pride to play for and Arteta is determined to avoid finishing such a disappointing season with a whimper.

    He said: "We will try to win every match and see where we finish. The only thing we can do is win our games." 

    The Spaniard added: "We needed that win. It has been a while since we won at home. We scored three fantastic goals and we had some great spells in the game. When we conceded the goal we did look nervy.

    "We knew the necessity to win the game. They scored out of nothing and then throw everything at you, they know the situation they are in and we struggled to play that kind of game.

    "We scored three fantastic goals but we missed some big chances too."

  • Real Madrid 2-2 Sevilla: Dramatic equaliser not enough to keep title in Los Blancos' hands Real Madrid 2-2 Sevilla: Dramatic equaliser not enough to keep title in Los Blancos' hands

    Real Madrid will require a helping hand if they are to defend their LaLiga crown despite Toni Kroos' late deflected strike rescuing a 2-2 draw at home to Sevilla, whose own hopes now appear over.

    Ivan Rakitic had seemingly secured Sevilla a win that would have blown the title race wide open by scoring a late penalty, but deep into second-half stoppage time Kroos saw a hopeful shot hit Diego Carlos, who was unfortunate to see the ball end up in his own net.

    Sevilla had taken the lead in the first half thanks to a lovely goal from Fernando, and they were good value for it against a Madrid side that still appeared to be labouring from their Champions League disappointment in midweek – their only moment of excitement coming via a disallowed Karim Benzema header.

    They improved in the second period and levelled through Marco Asensio, that goal looking like the catalyst they needed to claim the win that would have put them top, but a switch that saw VAR overturn a Madrid spot-kick because of an incident in the opposing area left Zinedine Zidane's side in trouble.

    Although able to cancel out Rakitic's successful kick, the result does Los Blancos little good as they are left two points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid with just three games remaining.

  • Rennes 1-1 Paris Saint-Germain: Kimpembe sees red as champions' title hopes suffer big blow Rennes 1-1 Paris Saint-Germain: Kimpembe sees red as champions' title hopes suffer big blow

    Paris Saint-Germain's hopes of retaining their Ligue 1 crown took a huge blow as Serhou Guirassy cancelled out Neymar's penalty to earn Rennes a 1-1 draw on Sunday.

    With Lille beating Lens 3-0 on Friday, the pressure was on Mauricio Pochettino's side – knocked out of the Champions League in midweek – to respond in the title race.

    But without the suspended Kylian Mbappe, PSG turned in a below-par performance, and only led thanks to Neymar's contentious first-half penalty.

    Julian Draxler went close to doubling PSG's tally, yet their sluggishness finally proved costly as Guirassy headed home in the 70th minute, with Presnel Kimpembe's late red card compounding the champions' misery.

    Ander Herrera sliced wide from Layvin Kurzawa's cut back, but PSG otherwise started poorly, and were almost punished when Guirassy chested in Jeremy Doku's shot, though the offside flag was rightly raised.

    PSG were again fortunate just after the half-hour mark, Danilo Pereira bundling into Guirassy, who would have been through on goal, yet the officials failed to spot the foul.

    Rennes' frustration with the officials was exacerbated on the stroke of half-time. Nayef Aguerd stuck out a leg to deny Kurzawa, who needed treatment and, after checking with the VAR, Ruddy Buquet harshly deemed it a foul.

    Neymar's finish was far from convincing – Alfred Gomis guessing the right way, but failing to keep out the Brazil star's strike.

    A fine first touch put Doku through immediately after the restart, only for the winger to direct a tame attempt straight at Keylor Navas.

    Draxler is reportedly next in line for a new PSG deal, and the Germany international nearly produced a stunning goal before the hour, but after setting himself up with some wonderful touches, his on-the-turn volley flashed just wide.

    Moise Kean went similarly close moments later, though PSG could only attack in flashes, and they were made to pay with 20 minutes remaining.

    Benjamin Bourigeaud's corner was met by Guirassy, whose header clipped in off the upright, meaning Lille have one hand firmly on the trophy, and Kimpembe's red for a horrid lunge on Doku summed up a shambolic PSG display.

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