Granit Xhaka has been selected for Arsenal's Europa League match against Eintracht Frankfurt in what will be his first appearance since being stripped of the club captaincy.

Switzerland midfielder Xhaka has not featured in the five matches across all competitions since he reacted angrily to being substituted during last month's 2-2 Premier League draw at home to Crystal Palace.

The Emirates Stadium faithful booed Xhaka on his way off the field and he gestured provocatively in response before removing his shirt in frustration.

The 27-year-old later acknowledged he got "carried away" and reacted "disrespectfully" towards Arsenal's supporters, while under-fire head coach Unai Emery named Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang his new captain.

Arsenal have not won since Xhaka was consigned to the sidelines and Aubameyang also starts against their Bundesliga opponents.

The former Borussia Dortmund striker is supported in attack by Brazilian youngster Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka, who was on target during a 3-0 win in Frankfurt back in September.

Emery's position has been the subject of mounting speculation over recent days, with his cause hardly helped by Nuno Espirito Santo – reportedly a favourite to succeed him in the Arsenal dugout – leading Wolves to a 3-1 lead at half-time at Braga in their own Europa League encounter.

Unai Emery is adamant the Arsenal players still have belief in him and suggested Granit Xhaka will return to the team on Thursday for the first time since clashing with supporters.

The Gunners are without a win in six games in all competitions, with fan frustration hitting new heights in recent weeks.

Emery is reportedly close to being dismissed, with Wolves' Nuno Espirito Santo said to be among those in the running to replace him, though the former Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla boss insists he is only thinking about Thursday's visit of Frankfurt.

Arsenal head into the match top of Europa League Group F with 10 points and Emery is calling on supporters to back the Gunners and specifically Xhaka, who has not played since a confrontation with fans in the clash with Crystal Palace on October 27.

"They are angry and disappointed, as well we are. We have a very good opportunity to [correct] do that," he told reporters.

"Each match here at the Emirates is very important for that... The players need to feel [fans] backing them.

"Xhaka is in the group and he has the possibility to play. I hope every supporter supports him. Xhaka's comeback is going to be important for us."

It has been reported that Emery's relationship with some of his players has fallen apart, with the Basque coach said to have had a row with Alexandre Lacazette, though he has no doubt the squad is behind him.

When asked if the players still believe in him, Emery said: "Yes, of course, they show that.

"As a coach each moment in my career is difficult. This is a very good, but very hard job. When you are winning you feel the support for everybody.

"I believe in us, I believe in the players. I know I am going to work very hard to come back to the performance.

"I am looking forward to playing. In the good moments, the bad moments, the most important thing for me is to show my work.

"Our confidence depends a lot on how we can feel in our stadium with our supporters. Teams are coming here playing fearless. We need to be strong and together. We need to show our supporters our capacity and skills."

Eintracht Frankfurt captain David Abraham has been given a seven-week ban for "punching" Freiburg coach Christian Streich during Sunday's Bundesliga match, the German Football Federation (DFB) has confirmed.

Abraham sparked a melee during the closing stages of Frankfurt’s 1-0 defeat as he charged towards the touchline to retrieve the ball for a throw-in, only to floor Streich with an outstretched arm.

The 33-year-old defender was sent off and the DFB decreed he merited a harsher punishment for an act that left the 54-year-old Streich splayed on his back.

Abraham's suspension will run until December 29, meaning he will not be back in Bundesliga action until the season resumes in January following a mid-season break.

He has featured throughout Eintracht's Europa League campaign, which resumes away to Arsenal on November 28.

Freiburg midfielder Vincenzo Grifo - who had been substituted during the second half - confronted the Argentine centre-back and was also sent off.

The DFB has banned Grifo for three matches "after he first hit the Frankfurt player David Abraham in the neck and then with his hand in the face".

Both men are permitted to lodge an appeal with the DFB sports court within the next 24 hours.

Eintracht are ninth in the Bundesliga and host Wolfsburg when they return to action after the international break.

Freiburg, meanwhile, are flying high in fourth. They sit level on points with reigning champions Bayern Munich, who are in third place, and have a trip to Bayer Leverkusen next on the agenda.

Eintracht Frankfurt sporting director Fredi Bobic criticised captain David Abraham for barging over Freiburg head coach Christian Streich in a wild Bundesliga clash.

Abraham was sent off after a shoulder charge on Streich, which sparked a mass brawl in stoppage time of Sunday's 1-0 defeat away to Freiburg.

Trailing to Nils Petersen's 77th-minute goal following Gelson Fernandes' red card prior to half-time, Eintracht star Abraham was dismissed in the 96th minute after knocking over Streich on the touchline.

Freiburg's Vincenzo Grifo – who had earlier been substituted – also saw red as chaos ensued deep into stoppage time at Schwarzwald-Stadion.

"David Abraham shouldn't do something like that," Bobic said. "His emotions got the better of him and he felt like he was being provoked, but something like that shouldn't happen. There will be consequences for all involved."

Freiburg boss Streich said: "I'm not a particularly vindictive person. He has apologised and the matter is done.

"Football is a contact sport. That was on the wrong side of it, though," he continued. "It was a heated game, we need to calm down, it's done, and not have silly talk about it now. At 54 you can be run over by a young buffalo; you can’t hold yourself against it anymore."

Eintracht coach Adi Hutter added: "Congratulations to Freiburg on the win, the club is playing better than ever. The end of the match got a little hectic.

"Emotions are part and parcel of football. This was our sixth match in 18 days and we put in a good performance, both tactically and in terms of the ground we covered.

"We were the ones building from the back and creating the better chances and could have come away with a point, which would have been well deserved. It's a shame to travel back home empty-handed."

Niko Kovac left his role as Bayern Munich coach on good enough terms with the players that any of them would be able to meet up with him for a coffee, according to captain Manuel Neuer.

Kovac had been under pressure for much of the early stages of the 2019-20 season due to underwhelming results and controversy surrounding his sparing use of fan favourite Thomas Muller.

The final straw came in Saturday's 5-1 humiliation at the Croatian's former employers Eintracht Frankfurt, with club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge later revealing "an open and serious conversation" the following day brought the hierarchy to the conclusion a change was needed.

Assistant coach Hansi Flick was placed in temporary charge and he presided over a 2-0 Champions League win at home to Olympiacos on Wednesday.

Despite Kovac's dismissal, Neuer insists none of the players hold any ill will towards the man who guided the club to a Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double in his only full campaign at the helm.

"I take my hat off to Niko and Robbie [Robert Kovac, former first-team coach and Niko's brother] as they have said goodbye," Neuer told reporters.

"I think that every player, if he meets Robbie or Niko, can look them in the eyes and drink a coffee together.

"It [the farewell] was emotional, of course, because we had a great time together. We wish him all the best. If we had played successfully, this would not have happened."

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been heavily linked with the job after Ralf Rangnick and Erik ten Hag distanced themselves from it.

Niko Kovac has departed Bayern Munich after a 5-1 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt left the champions fourth in the Bundesliga table.

Pressure has been growing on Kovac all season despite the Croatian leading Bayern to the Bundesliga title and a DFB-Pokal triumph in his first year in charge.

Saturday's trip to Frankfurt saw Bayern beaten 5-1 by Kovac's old club, who he led to DFB-Pokal glory in 2017-18 before moving to Bavaria.

Bayern failed to keep a clean sheet in any of Kovac's last eight games in all competitions and they needed a late comeback to win at second-tier side Bochum in the DFB-Pokal in midweek.

Despite Kovac leading Bayern to three wins out of three in the Champions League, the Bundesliga champions have now opted for a change of coach.

Former Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter boss Jose Mourinho has been linked with Bayern after the Portuguese revealed he is learning German.

Mauricio Pochettino, whose future at Tottenham has appeared uncertain since their Champions League final loss to Liverpool, has also been linked with Bayern.

Assistant coach Hans Flick will take charge of the first team as they prepare for Wednesday's Champions League clash with Olympiacos and the Klassiker showdown with Borussia Dortmund next Saturday.

"The performance of our team in recent weeks, and the results, have shown us there was need for action," chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said in a statement.

"[President] Uli Hoeness, [sporting director] Hasan Salihamidzic and I had an open and serious conversation with Niko on this basis on Sunday, with the consensual result that Niko is no longer the Bayern coach.

"We all regret this development. I'd like to thank Niko Kovac on behalf of FC Bayern for his work, especially for winning the double last season."

Salihamidzic added: "I now expect a positive development from our players and the highest motivation to achieve our goals this season."

Kovac somewhat surprisingly said he felt his departure was for the best for Bayern.

"I think this is the right decision for the club at the moment," he said.

"The results, and also the way we played in the last game, made me come to that decision.

"My brother Robert and I thank Bayern for the past one and a half years. During this time, our team won the title, the DFB-Pokal and the DFL-Supercup. It was a good time.

"I wish the club and the team all the best."

Niko Kovac has been sacked by Bayern Munich after a 5-1 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt left the champions fourth in the Bundesliga table.

Pressure has been growing on Kovac all season despite the Croatian leading Bayern to the Bundesliga title and a DFB-Pokal triumph in his first year in charge.

Saturday's trip to Frankfurt saw Bayern beaten 5-1 by Kovac's old club, who he led to DFB-Pokal glory in 2017-18 before moving to Bavaria.

Bayern failed to keep a clean sheet in any of Kovac's last eight games in all competitions and they needed a late comeback to win at second-tier side Bochum in the DFB-Pokal in midweek.

Despite Kovac leading Bayern to three wins out of three in the Champions League, the Bundesliga champions have now opted for a change of coach.

Former Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter boss Jose Mourinho has been linked with Bayern after the Portuguese revealed he is learning German.

Mauricio Pochettino, whose future at Tottenham has appeared uncertain since their Champions League final loss to Liverpool, has also been linked with Bayern.

Assistant coach Hans Flick will take charge of the first team as they prepare for Wednesday's Champions League clash with Olympiacos and the Klassiker showdown with Borussia Dortmund next Saturday.

"The performance of our team in recent weeks, and the results, have shown us there was need for action," chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said in a statement.

"[President] Uli Hoeness, [sporting director] Hasan Salihamidzic and I had an open and serious conversation with Niko on this basis on Sunday, with the consensual result that Niko is no longer the Bayern coach.

"We all regret this development. I'd like to thank Niko Kovac on behalf of FC Bayern for his work, especially for winning the double last season."

Salihamidzic added: "I now expect a positive development from our players and the highest motivation to achieve our goals this season."

Kovac somewhat surprisingly said he felt his departure was for the best for Bayern.

"I think this is the right decision for the club at the moment," he said.

"The results, and also the way we played in the last game, made me come to that decision.

"My brother Robert and I thank Bayern for the past one and a half years. During this time, our team won the title, the DFB-Pokal and the DFL-Supercup. It was a good time.

"I wish the club and the team all the best."

DFB-Pokal holders Bayern Munich will host Hoffenheim in the last 16 of this season's competition, while two fourth-tier sides were handed home advantage.

Bayern were made to sweat in their second-round tie, needing two goals in the last seven minutes to scrape past second-tier strugglers Bochum.

Niko Kovac's side - who have won the tournament 19 times - beat RB Leipzig in last season's final and will be favourites against Hoffenheim in one of four all-Bundesliga ties.

Other clashes between sides in Germany's top tier see Eintracht Frankfurt host Leipzig, Schalke take on Hertha Berlin and Werder Bremen welcome Borussia Dortmund.

Interest in the fortunes of Saarbrucken and Verl will be high, with both sides playing in the regionalised fourth tier of German football.

Verl top the Regionalliga West table and will host Bundesliga opposition in Union Berlin, while Saarbrucken are also flying high in the league, sitting first in the Regionalliga South West standings.

Saarbrucken, who scored a stoppage-time winner to beat top-flight opponents Cologne 3-2 in the second round, will host 2. Bundesliga outfit Karlsruher.

Kaiserslautern, who have plummeted to the third tier in recent years, are in the relegation zone but have a chance to raise spirits when they welcome Fortuna Dusseldorf of the Bundesliga.

The other tie in the last 16 sees Bayer Leverkusen take on 2. Bundesliga high-flyers Stuttgart.

All third-round ties will be played on February 4 and 5.

DFB-Pokal last 16 draw

Eintracht Frankfurt v RB Leipzig
Bayer Leverkusen v Stuttgart
Bayern Munich v Hoffenheim
Schalke v Hertha Berlin
Saarbrucken v Karlsruher
Werder Bremen v Borussia Dortmund
Kaiserslautern v Fortuna Dusseldorf
Verl v Union Berlin

Niko Kovac accepts his job as Bayern Munich boss is under serious threat but has refused to quit following Saturday's 5-1 loss to former club Eintracht Frankfurt.

The Bundesliga champions had Jerome Boateng sent off nine minutes into the clash at Commerzbank-Arena and were made to pay as they suffered their biggest league defeat since 2008-09.

In-form striker Robert Lewandowski was on target for Bayern after Filip Kostic and Djibril Sow had put Frankfurt two goals ahead, but David Abraham, Martin Hinteregger and Goncalo Paciencia struck in the second half to pile the pressure on Kovac.

Bayern have now dropped points in half of their 10 league matches this term and are fourth in the table, four points adrift of surprise leaders Borussia Monchengladbach.

However, Kovac is standing firm amid speculation that Bayern chiefs are preparing to pull the trigger ahead of next weekend's Klassiker showdown with Borussia Dortmund.

"I did not give up last season and I will not give up now," he said at his post-match news conference. "When it comes to such situations, you must not get restless.

"I leave here sad and disappointed. I'm not starry-eyed – I know the business. But I will not give up."

Further pressed on his future at the Allianz Arena, Kovac said: "How should I know? You probably know better. I cannot say anything about that.

"My feelings are not important. Those who decide must be asked."

Bayern have conceded 16 goals in their opening 10 league matches, the most they have let in since 2008-09, and Kovac admitted his side struggled after Boateng's early dismissal.

The experienced centre-back was shown the seventh red card of his Bundesliga career for a last-man tackle on Paciencia inside the opening nine minutes.

"We got a red card and if you play with ten players for 80 minutes, it will be difficult in Frankfurt," he said. "That did not make it easy for us. But you cannot lose even with a man less. It is disappointing and annoying. 

"It cannot be used as an excuse. We still did not play like we should in the first half."

Victory for Frankfurt was their first over Bayern in 17 attempts and lifted them to within a point of their opponents.

"This was not to be expected," Frankfurt boss Adi Hutter told reporters. "I didn't have a good record against them, but we caught them at a good time. 

"We have a great collective and our players took their chances. We are very happy today."

Bayern Munich failed to recover from an early Jerome Boateng red card as they fell to a 5-1 defeat against Eintracht Frankfurt that will heap more pressure on beleaguered coach Niko Kovac.

The pressure has been building on Kovac and his side shipped five more goals on a day that saw Thomas Muller make his 500th appearance for the club.

Filip Kostic and Djibril Sow scored their first goals of the season to punish the champions after Boateng was sent off inside nine minutes.

Bayern threatened a comeback through Lewandowski's 14th league goal of the season, but David Abraham, Martin Hinteregger and Goncalo Paciencia struck in the second half to make it one league win in four matches for the visitors, who slip to fourth in the table.

Boateng was dismissed for a trip on Paciencia following a VAR check from referee Markus Schmidt, who initially showed a yellow card and awarded a penalty, before amending it to a red and a free-kick.

The hosts made the man advantage count 16 minutes later when Sow's shot struck David Alaba and landed in the path of Kostic for a simple finish from close range.

A bad day for Bayern got even worse just after the half-hour mark as a brilliant passing move culminated in Sow calmly converting Kostic's deflected cross at the back post.

Joshua Kimmich had a goal ruled out for offside but Bayern had one back before the interval, Lewandowski spinning away from three men and converting past Frederik Ronnow.

Any hope of a comeback was killed off by Abraham four minutes into the second half, however, with the Frankfurt skipper stabbing home Danny da Costa's inch-perfect cross.

Abraham's central-defensive team-mate Hinteregger headed in a fourth from a corner after 61 minutes and, after Alphonso Davies clipped the post, Paciencia rounded off the scoring late on following some good play from substitute Andre Silva.

What does it mean? Pressure growing on Kovac

Bayern had won three in a row prior to this match, but they have been leaking goals far too freely and have struggled to dominate matches.

Having already been publicly criticised by club CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge last month, this third loss of the campaign in all competitions - against his former side - could prove the final straw.


Lewandowski maintains scoring streak

Lewandowski became the first player to net in the first nine games of a Bundesliga campaign last weekend and was on the scoresheet again today.

He took his consolation goal superbly and is arguably the best striker in world football right now, boasting 19 goals from 15 appearances in all club competitions this term.


Boateng dismissal proves costly

Bayern started the match in a positive manner, with Serge Gnabry squandering a good chance 87 seconds in.

But a swift counter from Eintracht soon after ended with Paciencia tripping over Boateng's trailing leg and Bayern, despite Kovac's tweaks, went on to ship five goals on a day to forget.


What's next?

Bayern host Olympiacos in the Champions League on Wednesday, while Eintracht travel to Standard Liege the following day in the Europa League. Borussia Dortmund are next up for Kovac's men in the Bundesliga a week today.

Jamaica international Leon Bailey has begun light training after recovering from his latest injury setback.

The 22-year-old Bundesliga talent has endured a stop-start kind of season after first suffering a hamstring injury towards the end of last term.  The winger recently sat out of action for a full month after sustaining an injury during the team’s Champion’s League tie away to Lokomotiv Moscow.

The player’s return to the pitch was, however, short-lived as he suffered a setback while preparing to return the team for its encounter against Eintracht Frankfurt.  While the player has recovered from the latest hamstring injury, however, it is unlikely that he will feature against Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday.

In addition to Bailey the club has also seen injuries affect Daley Sinkgraven, Lars Bender, Wendell and Charles Aranguiz.  The coach, however, would not recover the roles if any the players will play in the weekend’s fixture.

"Daley Sinkgraven and Lars Bender won't play. Wendell, Charles Aranguiz and Leon Bailey all trained with us yesterday, but very lightly. That’s all I can say about it at the moment,"  Bayer Leverkusen coach Peter Bosz  Bosz said.

 

 

Former Eintracht Frankfurt star Alexander Meier believes Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig can challenge Bayern Munich for Bundesliga honours this season.

Bayern are eyeing their eighth consecutive league crown after overhauling rivals Dortmund to the title last season, however, the German giants have struggled to convince in an open start to the campaign.

Borussia Monchengladbach top the standings by a point ahead of Bayern, with only five points separating first and ninth-placed Frankfurt after nine rounds.

Bayern have dominated German football, but Meier backed last season's runners-up Dortmund and Julian Nagelsmann's Leipzig to vie for silverware.

"Bayern are the team to beat every year if you want to win the title," Meier – who now plays for A-League side Western Sydney Wanderers – told Omnisport.

"This season maybe Dortmund or Leipzig. It's very close this year. It is good for the league that many teams can challenge for the championship but at the end of the season, it will be Bayern, Dortmund or maybe Leipzig."

Bayern will face a big test when they travel to Frankfurt to play Eintracht at Commerzbank-Arena on Saturday.

While Bayern have won the last three meetings, Eintracht have proven to be tricky opposition, with Meier a member of the team that stunned the Bavarian powerhouse 3-1 in the 2018 DFB-Pokal final.

"In Frankfurt, we had some close games," Meier added. "Of course Bayern are always the limit of the league but at home we had some good games. Last season it was close.

"I hope and I wish them all the best, but they have to bring 100 per cent against Bayern."

Bayern will again rely heavily on leading scorer Robert Lewandowski, who has netted 13 goals through nine matches – seven more than nearest rival Timo Werner of Leipzig.

Only two players aside from Lewandowski have topped the Bundesliga charts in the past six seasons – Meier (2014-15) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (2016-17).

And 36-year-old striker Meier expects Lewandowski's domination to continue after a record-breaking start to 2019-20 in Munich.

"No," Meier said when asked if anyone can beat Lewandowski to the top of the scoring charts. "There will be nobody because he scores every game and he has already rescued his team a lot this season. He scores difficult goals and makes it look easy. It's just amazing how he scores."

Niko Kovac says he will continue to be honest despite angering Bayern Munich supporters by suggesting former club Eintracht Frankfurt have the best fans in Germany.

Bayern are second in the Bundesliga and needed late goals from Serge Gnabry and Thomas Miller to overcome second-tier Bochum 2-1 in the DFB-Pokal on Tuesday, saving under-fire boss Kovac from further scrutiny.

But Kovac risked backlash speaking after the game as he talked up supporters of Eintracht, Bayern's next league opponents.

Given the opportunity to redress his comments on Thursday, the 48-year-old chose instead to defend his right to have an opinion on such matters.

"I watched three of their [Europa League] qualifying games at the beginning of the season - there was some great choreography and I thought it was great," said Kovac, who won the DFB-Pokal with Frankfurt in 2017-18.

"We also have great fans. I felt that last season, especially towards the end against Frankfurt and also in the cup when my name was chanted. 

"I know how important the fans are for us. I did not say we have bad fans - they are also great. But in the big picture, Frankfurt have a great and unique atmosphere unlike anywhere else in the Bundesliga.

"I will not change myself or my character. If honesty is no longer desirable in this day and age, we can pack it in. I will not change."

Kovac questioned the attitude of his players following their comeback win at Bochum and is now keen to see Bayern start games in more impressive fashion.

"[Bochum] had a huge chance after 40 seconds. I expect my side to be ready from the first minute," he said. "We know we have the quality, but we have to work the same as others."

Bayern have won three in a row in all competitions but are seven games without a clean sheet and have struggled to dominate matches as in the past, leading to criticism from chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Not since 2008-09 have they conceded more goals in their opening nine Bundesliga matches, and Kovac is working on a solution.

"Football is a sport that is results-oriented, but the best combination is to win and play well," he said. "We are not able to do that right now. We have to gain confidence through small victories.

"If you lose the ball five times, it will be difficult to offer yourself a sixth time and then your knees will start to shake, so you have to try to get into a rhythm right from the beginning."

Jamaica international Leon Bailey is primed to return to action for Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen having fully recovered from a hamstring injury suffered last month.

The 22-year-old, who is looking to rediscover his best form at the Bundesliga club, could be on the bench for the team’s match away to Eintracht Frankfurt.  Prior to the injury, the winger made four appearances for the team, scoring once.

Bailey has had a torrid time of late with injuries.  In April the player experienced another setback, on that occasion straining a thigh muscle.  Having worked hard at rehabilitation, the player insists he is ready to go again and could be in line for a start.

"I am back now, and I feel very good.  But of course, after an injury, it's important not to rush anything. Maybe I come off the bench,” Bailey said.

"I think I'll be in the squad, but I do not know if I'll start."

In addition to Bailey, other players making a comeback are Lars Bender and Jonathan Tah.

Luka Jovic will make the grade at Real Madrid if he is afforded time, according to his former Eintracht Frankfurt captain Alexander Meier.

Jovic joined Eintracht on an initial two-year loan from Benfica in 2017 after struggling in Portugal and he went on to star in the Bundesliga.

The Serbia international scored 17 top-flight goals last season and netted a further 10 in the Europa League as Eintracht reached the semi-finals.

That form persuaded Madrid to pay a reported €60million for the 21-year-old, but he has made only two LaLiga starts, with Karim Benzema continuing his fine run of form.

But Meier, who spent a season with Jovic, is adamant there is no reason to panic about Jovic's lack of starts, while he also has no qualms with Sebastien Haller and Ante Rebic departing Eintracht for West Ham and AC Milan, respectively.

Speaking to Omnisport, the Western Sydney Wanderers forward said: "It's never wrong to go to Real Madrid and Sebastien is in the best league in the world. They all went to big clubs and I think it's the best step for their careers.

"When you go somewhere new it takes time and I'm pretty sure Jovic will come good there.

"You could tell after two or three weeks how good his finishing was. He can do everything: left foot, right foot, head. He is perfect in front of the goal."

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