Dominant Liverpool await crisis-hit Gunners in League Cup

Arsenal play Liverpool in the League Cup on Sturday. (Reuters)
Updated 30 October 2019

Dominant Liverpool await crisis-hit Gunners in League Cup

  • Arsenal bid to regroup following captain Granit Xhaka’s tantrum and poor run of form

LONDON: Arsenal would probably have preferred an easier League Cup opponent than Premier League leaders Liverpool as they bid to regroup following captain Granit Xhaka’s tantrum and a poor run of form.

However, that is the task that faces the Gunners on Wednesday heading to Anfield for their fourth round clash. Unai Emery’s players have won just twice in their last eight Premier League games as opposed to Jurgen Klopp’s Champions League holders who have dropped just two points thus far this term.

Theirs is one of three all Premier League matches on Wednesday — the rest of the games are on Tuesday — with Chelsea hosting Manchester United and Aston Villa at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Liverpool’s last domestic honor dates back to lifting this trophy in 2012 but despite a desire to end that run Klopp is likely to field a very different lineup to the one that beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 in the Premier League at the weekend.

Mohamed Salah is one of the Liverpool stars who will be rested but Arsenal’s Emery may be tempted to select Xhaka to refocus his mind after his histrionics on Sunday storming down the tunnel after being substituted during the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.

Arsenal veteran Hector Bellerin — who is ruled out of the match due to injury — has called for everyone to calm down and pull together.

“It’s time to lift each other up, not to push each other away. We only win when we are together,” he tweeted.

Unlike Xhaka Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic enjoyed a memorable weekend in the best senses of the term scoring a hat trick — his first goals for the club and a small initial repayment on the £58 million they paid Borussia Dortmund for him.

It was only his second start for the club since his arrival in August and the 21-year-old US star should get another run out on Wednesday against Manchester United.

And that is certainly something he would relish.

“(Frank Lampard the Chelsea manager) believes in me and he’s told me that,” said Pulisic.

“You have to keep working hard in training and earn my spot, that’s how it is at the highest level.

“I’m going to continue to do so. This is hopefully just the start.”

Lampard, who succeeded Maurizio Sarri as manager after just one season with Derby County in the second tier Championship, is delighted with the form of the team but warned his players not to get all comfortable.

“I’m just really pleased where we’ve got to,” Lampard told the club website.

“We’re working hard, but we have to be aware we can improve and if we get overconfident in this moment and start making crazy expectations on ourselves from within — let everyone else talk.”

Manchester United have for them hit a rich vein of form beginning with the 1-1 draw with Liverpool the weekend before last — the only club to take points form the leaders this term.

Two rare away wins have followed with Sunday’s 3-1 victory over Norwich their first in the Premier League in eight months.

Chelsea represents a far tougher challenge away from home but United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says they go to Stamford Bridge armed with two priceless qualities.

“It gives the players confidence and momentum,” he told the BBC.

On Tuesday Southampton meanwhile will bid to redeem themselves after their 9-0 humiliation by Leicester.

The only problem for the Saints is the obstacle they must overcome are the holders Manchester City.

“We can put quotes out, apologize and say something, but the only thing that’s the real deal now is actions,” Saints captain Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg said.

“Actions that are nowhere near what they were against Leicester. We can never show our faces like this again.”

Russian athletics champ blasts own sports authorities

Updated 11 December 2019

Russian athletics champ blasts own sports authorities

  • Lasitskene, a three-time world champion, has in the past been critical of Russia’s athletics federation

MOSCOW: Russian high jump world champion Maria Lasitskene on Tuesday accused her country’s own sports authorities of failing to protect athletes from the deepening doping crisis, in a rare public broadside at top officials.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Monday handed Russia a new, this time four-year, ban from top global sporting events, including the next summer and winter Olympics and the 2022 soccer World Cup, for tampering with laboratory data.

The ruling means Russian athletes cleared to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will do so under a neutral flag. But Lasitskene and some other Russian track and field athletes face additional obstacles to being cleared for competition.

“I’ve already missed one Olympics and one-and-a-half years of international competition,” Lasitskene wrote in an open letter addressed to Russia’s sports authorities.

“And it seems that’s not the end of it. So who ultimately is to blame? Who’s going to give me back what I’ve lost?” she wrote in the letter published on Russian sports media outlet Championat.Com.

Lasitskene, a three-time world champion, has in the past been critical of Russia’s athletics federation, which has been suspended for doping since 2015, and has been one of the few Russian athletes to voice her anger publicly.

World Athletics, the global body governing athletics, last month halted the reinstatement procedures for Russia’s athletics federation after its president and six others were provisionally suspended for serious breaches of anti-doping rules.

As a result of these fresh sanctions, World Athletics also said it was reviewing the process it has used in the past to clear some Russians, including Lasitskene, to compete internationally as neutrals.

“Why have we arrived at a situation when an athlete is supposed to be delighted about getting neutral status?” Lasitskene wrote.

“Was the Sports Ministry and Russian Olympic Committee really happy with the Russian athletics federation’s work?”

The president of Russia’s Olympic Committee, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, on Monday dismissed the sanctions against Russia as inappropriate and excessive.