FOUR THINGS WE LEARNED: Kylian Mbappe is marvellous and Unai Emery's Arsenal are looking awesome

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Kylian Mbappe is still very much the man of the moment after his 13-minute, four-goal blitz at the weekend. (AFP)
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Updated 08 October 2018
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FOUR THINGS WE LEARNED: Kylian Mbappe is marvellous and Unai Emery's Arsenal are looking awesome

  • Will a high-profile manager be axed during the international break?
  • Arsenal beginning to prove that they are title contenders in Unai Emery's first season at the Emirates.

LONDON: As we head into the international break we take a look at all the action across Europe after a testing weekend for a few big-name sides.

MOROSE MANAGERS

Across Europe there are at least three high-profile managers wondering whether they will have a job at the end of the international break. Real Madrid’s Julen Lopetegui, Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho and Bayern Munich’s Nico Kovac are all in the spotlight with the axe looking set to fall on them at any moment. United’s come-from-behind 3-2 win over Newcastle may well have given Mourinho a bit of breathing space, but for Lopetegui and Kovac the end would appear to be nigh. The Real boss is without a win in four matches (the dictionary definition of “crisis” at the Bernabeu) and Saturday’s 3-0 loss to Borussia Mönchengladbach made it four games without a win for Bayern (likewise, a full-blown catastrophe for the Bavarian giants). Both clubs are not shy to pull the trigger, so expect at least one of the pair to get his marching orders soon.

Lopetegui is under a lot of pressure at the Bernabeu. 

 


AWESOME ARSENAL

The Gunners 5-1 thrashing of Fulham on Sunday meant that they extended their winning run to an impressive nine matches — a sequence that only Herbert Chapman, George Graham and Arsene Wenger have overseen at the north London club. Slowly, and very quietly, Unai Emery is turning things around at the Emirates. They still have to display the same verve and ambition as they did at Craven Cottage against the “big” clubs, but the idea that Arsenal can mount some sort of title challenge is no longer as ridiculous as some would have suggested a month ago.

Arsenal have won nine times in a row and are looking good to mount a title challenge this season. 

 


NEYMAR OVERSHADOWED 
BY MBAPPE

Such is the regularity with which his antics annoy everyone, it is hard to feel sorry for Neymar. So it is with a small dose of schadenfreude that we react to the fact that the Brazilian left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain, not just for the huge pay packet, but also to escape the sizeable shadow of Lionel Messi, only to end up in the French capital to be overshadowed by Kylian Mbappe. Since his brilliant performances in the World Cup the teenage star has, if anything, got better and never was this better seen than by his scoring four goals in just 13 second-half minutes during PSG’s 5-0 demolition job against Lyon. Aged just 19, it is frightening to think just how good Mbappe can become. Not lacking confidence, he said he thought he was a strong contender for the Ballon d’Or. If he were to win the prize, we wonder how Neymar would react?

Mbappe is once again proving that PSG are far from just the "Neymar Show." 

 



DRAB DRAW

Everyone assumed that Sunday’s Liverpool vs. Manchester City clash was going to be a humdinger; a display that made you sit up, take notice and remember why you love football so much. In the end it served up the sporting equivalent of a sleeping tablet. The clash saw both teams and managers at their most pragmatic, a reminder that for all their verve and attacking instincts, Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp know that ultimately they will be judged on results and not just the ability to entertain.

Klopp and Guardiola are known as swashbuckling coaches, but on Sunday they proved they can be pragmatists as well. 


‘Kid was depressed’: Osaka in first clay quarter-final after ‘rough months’

Updated 25 April 2019
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‘Kid was depressed’: Osaka in first clay quarter-final after ‘rough months’

  • The Japanese star arrived in Stuttgart, where she last played as a qualifier in 2017, after suffering early exits in her last three tournaments
  • Osaka has admitted the difficulty of dealing with the trappings of fame and becoming the world’s top player in recent months

STUTTGART, Germany: World number one Naomi Osaka defeated Hsieh Su-wei 6-4, 6-3 in Stuttgart on Thursday to reach her first career clay court quarter-final and admitted she had been left “depressed” after a “rough few months.”
US and Australian Open champion Osaka, who lost to Taiwanese veteran Hsieh in Miami last month, secured a place in the quarter-finals against Croatia’s Donna Vekic as she launched her preparations for Roland Garros.
The Japanese star arrived in Stuttgart, where she last played as a qualifier in 2017, after suffering early exits in her last three tournaments.
Osaka has admitted the difficulty of dealing with the trappings of fame and becoming the world’s top player in recent months, a period which saw her split with coach Sascha Bajin after the Australian Open.
“I am really grateful for everyone that has been really positive toward me. It was really rough the last couple of months. The kid was depressed out there.”
“If there is one positive thing that I can say about myself, it is that I learn quickly,” said Osaka, who reached the last eight of a tournament for the first time since her coaching split.
“Definitely I’ve put a lot on pressure on myself and found it hard to deal with in the first few tournaments.
“Now I start trying to have fun out there, which is what I did before I was number one.”
Osaka, 21, broke Hsieh three times in total to beat Hsieh for the second time in three attempts this year, having also defeated her on the way to lifting the title in Melbourne.
“I did feel like I am in control, but I also felt she is taking more risks than me,” said Osaka.
“She’s a really tricky opponent. You never really know what she’s going to do.”
Osaka needed 84 minutes to dispatch the unconventional Hsieh, ensuring she will hold on to top spot in the rankings for at least another week.
She is less than 200 points ahead of Simona Halep in the WTA rankings, although the Romanian pulled out of this week’s tournament with a hip injury.
Top seed Osaka fought off the only two break points she faced, in a lengthy service hold for 2-all in the opening set, before breaking Hsieh in the following game.
That was sufficient to wrap up the first set, and a Hsieh double-fault handed Osaka a break to start the second before she closed out victory with another service break in a performance that featured 22 winners and just 16 unforced errors.
Osaka will meet Vekic, a 6-1, 7-5 winner over Daria Kasatkina, for a spot in the last four, while Latvian seventh seed Anastasija Sevastova defeated 2017 champion Laura Siegemund 6-4, 6-3.
Sevastova will meet third-ranked Petra Kvitova next.
Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit eased past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 6-2, while Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens took down Belinda Bencic 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
German number one Angelique Kerber, who won here in 2015 and 2016, takes on compatriot Andrea Petkovic later.