‘Jose Mourinho is a great man’ – Ranieri

Claudio Ranieri has praised Jose Mourinho, revealing the embattled Manchester United boss was the first manager to call him following his appointment at Fulham.

Mourinho was once again on the defensive in midweek following the Red Devils’ last-minute victory against Young boys in the Champions League.

The Portuguese was quick to remind reporters that he has never failed to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League in 14 attempts. However, that has done little ease the pressure after yet another below-par performance.

Despite the victory United were far from their best, just like they failed to be during the dour goalless draw against Crystal Palace last weekend.

The home crowd responded to that display against the Eagles by booing the players off at the final whistle, a clear sign that patience in Mourinho’s methods is wearing thin among the United faithful.

The critics have unsurprisingly lined-up to question Mourinho’s Old Trafford future, but Ranieri is not one of them.

The Italian is back in English football after succeeding Slavisa Jokanovic at Fulham and revealed Mourinho was the first boss to call and congratulate him on his appointment.

“José Mourinho. Great man. Great coach. Great character,” Ranieri told Gazzetta Dello Sport when asked who was the first to call him after being named the Cottagers manager. 

Ranieri was victorious in his first game in charge against Southampton last weekend but it wasn’t enough to lift the Cottagers off the bottom of the table.

The former Leicester boss acknowledges that he faces a tough challenge to avoid relegation, but couldn’t hide his delight at being back in the Premier League.

“They say that training and working is a stress, but for me it’s just the opposite. I feel like a lion in a cage,” he added.

“I wanted to come back, but it was right to get away for some time with another experience. Nantes was a nice opportunity. Now I’m here and I’ll give it my all to save the Fulham.

“The path will be hard and difficult, but I’m sure we will succeed. The team has a good base. We just have to correct some things, mainly the defensive phase and the general approach. With the players I was clear: I want people running and fighting.”

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Premier League top scorers 2018-19: Aguero, Sterling Aubameyang lead the race

The Premier League is well and truly under way, and the race to win the Golden Boot – awarded to the league’s top-scorer – is heating up.

Liverpool sensation Mohamed Salah is looking to defend his title after a record-breaking haul of 32 goals last year nabbed him the prize, but Man City star Sergio Aguero currently sits level with Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Man City’s Raheem Sterling. They are being followed closely by a chasing pack that includes Chelsea forward Eden Hazard, Spurs star Harry Kane and Salah himself. 

Goal will keep you updated on the individual goal tallies for the highest-scoring Premier League players this season.


Premier League 2018-19 Top Scorers


Raheem Sterling Manchester City 2018-19

Aguero, Sterling and Aubameyang top the scoring charts with eight goals, but the strikers are closely followed by as many as six players, who each have seven strikes to their name.

Hazard, Salah and Kane also remain contenders for the Golden Boot.

Brighton veteran Glenn Murray and Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic are also within one of the lead despite their sides stuttering form.

Behind them there is group on six goals, including Everton duo Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson as well as Sadio Mane and Anthony Martial.

*Correct as of Dec 1, 2018.

Pos Player Club Goals
=1 Sergio Aguero Manchester City 8
=1 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Arsenal 8
=1 Raheem Sterling Manchester City 8
=3 Eden Hazard Chelsea 7
=3 Glenn Murray Brighton 7
=3 Aleksandar Mitrovic Fulham 7
=3 Mohamed Salah Liverpool 7
=3 Harry Kane Tottenham 7
=3 Callum Wilson Bournemouth 7
=9 Richarlison Everton 6
=9 Sadio Mane Liverpool 6
=9 Anthony Martial Manchester United 6
=9 Gylfi Sigurdsson Everton 6
=14 Marko Arnautovic West Ham 5
=14 Alexandre Lacazette Arsenal 5
=14 Alvaro Morata Chelsea 5
=14 Roberto Pereyra Watford 5
=14 David Silva Manchester City 5
=14 Leroy Sane Manchester City 5
=14 Andre Schurrle Fulham 5

Who finished top in 2017-18?


Mohamed Salah Liverpool Brighton Premier League 13052018

Liverpool striker Salah scored 32 goals last season to win the Premier League Golden Boot, beating previous holder Kane to the top prize.

The Spurs forward missed out on the award narrowly by two goals after clinching it two years in a row, with Aguero coming in third and Jamie Vardy finishing fourth.

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Sterling makes Premier League history with Bournemouth goal

Raheem Sterling’s winner against Bournemouth for Manchester City saw the England man make history as he became the first player to score in his first six appearances against a single opponent in the Premier League.

The 23-year-old helped the Sky Blues on to a 3-1 win after Callum Wilson’s strike had cancelled out Bernardo Silva’s early effort in the first half, with Ilkay Gundogan adding a third late on to seal the deal.

Victory at the Etihad Stadium now means that City are five points clear, for the moment, of title rivals Liverpool and Chelsea, with Pep Guardiola’s side looking set to lead the charge into Christmas atop the table.

Sterling, whose contribution takes him to eight in the top flight this campaign, has been in sensational form for both club and country in recent months, playing a key role in helping England to a Nations League Final appearance last month.

But his latest goal against the Cherries also writes him into the record books, making it six consecutive encounters since his first game against Eddie Howe’s side where he has found the back of the net.

He has only scored more than once in a single match; his first in October 2015, when he netted a first-half hat-trick in a 5-1 win during his inaugural season with City.

A groin injury ruled him out of the reverse fixture later on in the 2015-16 campaign but subsequent meetings both at home and away at the Vitality Stadium however have seen him find the mark in every other game since.

In all such games, City have emerged victorious, having not lost to Bournemouth since the latter were promoted to the Premier League.

Sterling was required to rescue the Citizens on one occasion however in an eventful clash on the south coast in August last year that saw him snatch an injury-time winner in the 97th minute and be dismissed for a second yellow in the 99th.

City next play Watford on Tuesday evening before a crunch clash with title rivals Chelsea a week today on December 8.

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Does ‘flat-track bully’ Aubameyang have a point to prove in North London Derby?


COMMENT    By Seye Omidiora     Follow on Twitter
 


In normal circumstances, eight league goals after 13 gameweeks would be seen as a decent return for any striker. When the said frontman then leads the scoring charts – albeit jointly – in his first full season at a club in transition you’re inclined to cut him some slack. 

However, Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been the target of sticklers’ criticism in recent weeks owing to his lack of goals against the big teams. He has fired blanks in seven ‘big games’ since his move last winter, and you can expect talk of his scoreless run to spring up before Sunday’s North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur. 

While the forward’s return of eight goals, all second-half strikes, is consistent with Arsenal’s season so far of not having a half-time lead, you sense his return over the course of the campaign will be key in determining the Gunners’ top four hopes, as previously noted by Arsenal Correspondent Chris Wheatley.

Have the condemnatory remarks leveled at the Gabon international’s door been unfair?

Perhaps a refresher would do everyone a whole world of good.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Arsenal ICC 2018

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (1-0) ARSENAL (10/02/2018)

Ironically, the same opponent he’s set to face this weekend. Spurs triumphed by a lone goal at Wembley, and the game will probably be remembered as the day Petr Cech’s heroics prevented the red half of North London from getting a real pasting at the ‘adopted’ home of the enemy.

It was only the Gabon international’s second game for the club, so it was no surprise he cut a peripheral figure. He attempted no shots all game.

ARSENAL (0-3) MANCHESTER CITY (25/02/2018)

The Carabao Cup final put Arsene Wenger’s side in the crosshairs of the rampant City side. The Citizens were efficient on the day and scored from all three efforts on target.

The whole Arsenal side may have performed really poorly, but you just wonder how the game would have panned out had the frontman taken his huge chance in the eighth minute with both sides still level. Sergio Aguero opened the scoring 10 minutes later and Wenger’s side were sitting ducks from that moment onwards.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Arsenal Nicolas Otamendi Manchester City

ARSENAL (0-3) MANCHESTER CITY (01/03/2018)

A few days after their League Cup defeat, the North London side had the chance at getting even with the Manchester giants, but three first-half goals were enough to knock the stuffing out of the hosts in freezing conditions at the Emirates Stadium. Aubameyang had a second-half penalty saved by Ederson too, which banished lingering hopes of a fight back.

MANCHESTER UNITED (2-1) ARSENAL (29/04/2018)

With Wenger’s focus firmly fixed on Arsenal’s Europa League second-leg against Atletico Madrid, the Frenchman rested several first-team players for their visit to Old Trafford. The loss wasn’t surprising given the state of affairs, but it was to be yet another frustrating evening for Auba as he fluffed his lines when a half-decent chance fell his way a few minutes before the break with the away side 1-0 down.

In truth, it wasn’t the clearest of opportunities; however, a better finish would’ve been expected from Arsenal’s number 14.

ARSENAL (0-2) MANCHESTER CITY (12/08/2018)

Unai Emery’s charges were never in this one on a tough opening game to start a new era at the Emirates.

Petr Cech was the home side’s best player in the encounter, which tells you all you need to know. Auba completed the game but couldn’t impact proceedings as a somewhat second-string City, not like it means much anyway given their strength in depth, eased to a win.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

CHELSEA (3-2) ARSENAL (18/08/2018)

The Stamford Bridge defeat will probably haunt the frontman on account of his inability to put away a couple of gilt-edged opportunities in the opening half. The first saw him blaze over from seven yards out with the goal gaping – Alvaro Morata then increased Chelsea’s lead barely 60 seconds later – before also dragging a left-footed effort wide of Kepa Arrizabalaga’s near post which would’ve sent the Gunners 3-2 ahead at the break.

He did play a part in the away side halving the deficit as it was his concerted pressing that led to a turnover which ended with Henrikh Mkhitaryan scoring.

Nevertheless, it was a loss that hurt every Gooner as they felt they deserved more… and they were probably within their rights to feel aggrieved.

ARSENAL (1-1) LIVERPOOL (03/11/2018)

A home draw against Liverpool, City’s challengers for the title, may pass as the strangest of the lot for the frontman, because Emery’s side dominated possession and just about edged the play but the attacker just couldn’t get into the game. He could only complete five passes – the least of any player on the pitch – before his withdrawal as the game moved into the final quarter.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Trent Alexander-Arnold Arsenal Liverpool 2018-19

Of the aforementioned games, only once has the frontman played in the inside forward role that he’s thrived in for the Gunners. He, ironically, didn’t have a good game against the Reds but the fact he plays much better when played in tandem with Alexander Lacazette shouldn’t see Emery experiment.

Frankly, his luckless run has been strange owing to his series of surprising misses. On Sunday, he’ll have another chance of halting it in the 196th North London derby. 

Mauricio Pochettino’s side are in amazing form having won seven of their last eight league games, with a comprehensive 3-1 win against Chelsea last time out.

Truthfully, the Lilywhites have had to ride their luck in the aforementioned run, but their ability to get results while not playing particularly well will test Arsenal. They may be winless at the Emirates since a 3-2 win in November 2010, but Sunday’s encounter represents a feasible opportuntiy to end that wretched run of results. 

For Aubameyang, you cannot argue with his return of 18 league goals in 26 games since his January move, but he may need to break his unusual duck against the top sides sooner than later…otherwise, those dissenting ‘flat-track bully’ voices may just grow a bit louder if he fires another big-game blank! 

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Simeone expects to call on Diego Costa despite training injury

Diego Simeone expects Diego Costa to be fit for Atletico Madrid’s La Liga match against Girona, despite the striker aggravating a long-standing foot injury in training.

Atletico are away to Girona on Sunday, but their final preparatory session before the game on Saturday saw Costa visibly in pain and receiving treatment before returning for the final moments of the session with a limp.

The 30-year-old has had a tough season, his goal against Barcelona last week his first in 10 league starts.

But he should have the chance to improve on that record after Simeone gave an update after the training scare, insisting any decision over possible surgery had not been made, with Costa set to play through the pain barrier.

“He has had discomfort in his foot for a while,” Simeone said at his pre-match media conference. “What will happen is being decided between the player and the medical team. When we have to report something, we will.

“He is available for us and showing eagerness and enthusiasm in the same way as always. Hopefully he can produce a good game.”

Atletico, on a seven-match unbeaten run across all competitions, are third in La Liga, two points behind leaders Sevilla. 

But Girona are only four points behind Atleti and Simeone’s four defensive injury doubts – Filipe Luis, Diego Godin, Juanfran and Jose Gimenez – all missed training, working individually in the gym.

Simeone was asked if the injuries meant he would seek defensive reinforcements in January. 

He said: “What I would like is that they are all available to be more competitive. We have alternatives with Saul [Niguez] and Lucas [Hernandez], we could play with three central defenders. It all comes down to where I see Saul playing better for the game.

“We are going to face a team that plays well. Over the course of the start of the season the coach has found a way to get the best of his players’ characteristics.

“That speaks very well of Eusebio [Sacristan, coach of Girona]. It is an idea very different from what he showed in San Sebastian [with Real Sociedad] and has been based on the characteristics that they have. For the last four or five games they have had very good stability.”

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