Liverpool face Chelsea test as Manchester clubs enter fray

Liverpool face Chelsea test as Manchester clubs enter fray
Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah looked in fine form as he scored a hat trick in their match against Leeds on the opening weekend. (File/AFP)
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Updated 19 September 2020

Liverpool face Chelsea test as Manchester clubs enter fray

Liverpool face Chelsea test as Manchester clubs enter fray
  • Pep Guardiola has shored up his defense by signing Netherlands international Nathan Ake

LONDON: Liverpool face an early test of their Premier League title defense against Chelsea on Sunday as Manchester City and Manchester United launch their quest to be champions.

Arsenal, Everton and Leicester hope to build on encouraging opening wins while Jose Mourinho needs a morale-boosting victory for Tottenham.
AFP Sport looks at some of the main talking points ahead of the action.
Chelsea’s meeting with Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday has added edge after a feisty exchange between the managers over transfer spending.
The London club finished 33 points behind the champions last season but have splashed out around £200 million ($259 million) on new players.
By contrast, Liverpool have been relatively quiet, adding just Greece left-back Kostas Tsimikas so far, with Spain midfielder Thiago Alcantara likely to follow.
Jurgen Klopp pointedly said Liverpool could not spend in the same way as clubs owned by “countries” and “oligarchs” such as City and Chelsea during the coronavirus pandemic.
But Frank Lampard, who also became embroiled in a spat with Liverpool’s bench in July, pointed out the Anfield side had spent big in previous seasons as they built their title-winning side.
Liverpool will be keen to cut out the defensive errors they committed in a 4-3 win against newly promoted Leeds, but Mohamed Salah looked in fine early season form as he scored a hat trick on the opening weekend.
Chelsea were also unconvincing winners against Brighton in their opening match, but Timo Werner, who chose to join the Blues despite interest from Liverpool, did impress in winning a penalty against the Seagulls.
Manchester City are the bookmakers’ favorites to land a third Premier League trophy in four seasons but face a tough opener against Wolves.
City boss Pep Guardiola has shored up his defense by signing Netherlands international Nathan Ake and has added to his rich attacking options, landing Ferran Torres from Valencia.
City scored 102 goals last season as they finished second, but lost nine matches as they surrendered their crown to Liverpool.
Both Manchester clubs are starting a week later than other sides due to their European commitments last season.
Guardiola will be painfully aware that his team must be more consistent this campaign and he cannot afford to let Klopp’s men open up an early lead.
But he will feel nervous as he travels to face Wolves, who beat City twice last season, after a disrupted pre-season.
City duo Aymeric Laporte and Riyad Mahrez tested positive for coronavirus earlier this month, while Phil Foden was sent home by England after breaking coronavirus protocols while on international duty.
The challenge facing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ahead of a match against Crystal Palace is how to improve on last season’s third-place finish.
Midfielder Bruno Fernandes was the catalyst as United put together a long unbeaten run, with a front three of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood providing the firepower.
But United have been relatively quiet in the transfer window, so far adding just midfielder Donny van de Beek from Ajax, despite persistent speculation linking them with Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho.
“When we signed Bruno Fernandes, we knew we needed that kind of player — now we’ve signed Donny and he’s a type of player I felt we needed in the squad,” said Solskjaer.
Arsenal are buoyant after launching their season with a 3-0 win at newly promoted Fulham and tying down captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for three more years.
Mikel Arteta’s men, who host West Ham on Saturday, finished down in eighth place last season but ended their campaign on a high, winning the FA Cup for a record 14th time.
They followed that up by beating Liverpool on penalties in the season-opening Community Shield before the announcement on Aubameyang this week that fans had craved.
“I want to become an Arsenal legend just like Thierry (Henry), Wrighty (Ian Wright), (Tony) Adams and (Dennis) Bergkamp,” he said.


Robert Saleh becomes first Muslim head coach in NFL history

Lebanese-American Robert Saleh served as a defensive assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Seattle Seahawks and the Houston Texans before his head coach role at the New York Jets. (AFP/File Photo)
Lebanese-American Robert Saleh served as a defensive assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Seattle Seahawks and the Houston Texans before his head coach role at the New York Jets. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 15 January 2021

Robert Saleh becomes first Muslim head coach in NFL history

Lebanese-American Robert Saleh served as a defensive assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Seattle Seahawks and the Houston Texans before his head coach role at the New York Jets. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Saleh, who has been defensive coordinator at the San Francisco 49ers since 2017, will replace Adam Gase
  • Will be the third Arab-American head coach in the NFL

LONDON: The New York Jets said Friday they were appointing Robert Saleh as their head coach, making him the first Muslim to lead a team in the National Football League (NFL).

Saleh, who has been defensive coordinator at the San Francisco 49ers since 2017, will replace Adam Gase, who was fired at the end of a disappointing 2020 regular season.

“Saleh will become the Jets’ 20th head coach in franchise history and their 18th coach appointed to take Green and White reins before the start of a new season,” the Jets posted on their website.

He beat other candidates for the job, including the Tennessee Titans’ assistant coach Arthur Smith, and was wanted by at least six other franchises including Super Bowl LII champions the Philadelphia Eagles, the Detroit Lions and the Los Angeles Chargers, according to ESPN.

Before his stint in San Francisco, Lebanese-American Saleh served as a defensive assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Seattle Seahawks and the Houston Texans.

He will be the third Arab-American head coach in the NFL after Abe Gibron, who is also Lebanese-American, and Rich Kotite, but he will be the first Muslim, according to a statement from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

His no-nonsense approach to defensive play made him a popular figure with his players and 49er fans.

“He makes sure there’s no grey area in terms of coaching and teaching,” San Francisco linebacker Fred Warner said last month. “There’s a lot of coaches out there who just coach. But he’s a great teacher.”

Another of his former players, Richard Sherman, congratulated him on the appointment. He tweeted: “The @nyjets got a great one! Congrats to them!”

His appointment was also welcomed by the Muslim civil rights body, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

He will have a tough task at the Jets, turning around the fortunes of a team that has failed to make the playoffs since the 2010 season, currently the NFL’s longest active postseason drought.

With quarterback Sam Darnold failing to hit the heights he promised after being picked No. 3 in the 2018 draft, Saleh’s first job will be to find a solid option in that position if he is to bring success to East Rutherford for the first time since 1968.