Arsenal brush aside Newcastle as Howe suffers first defeat

Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli celebrates with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after scoring against Newcastle United, Emirates Stadium, London, England, Nov. 27, 2021. (Reuters)
Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli celebrates with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after scoring against Newcastle United, Emirates Stadium, London, England, Nov. 27, 2021. (Reuters)
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Updated 27 November 2021

Arsenal brush aside Newcastle as Howe suffers first defeat

Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli celebrates with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after scoring against Newcastle United, Emirates Stadium, London, England, Nov. 27, 2021. (Reuters)
  • Second half goals from Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli at the Emirates Stadium made it four wins for Arsenal from their last five league games
  • Eddie Howe was in charge of Newcastle in person for the first time after missing last weekend’s 3-3 draw against Brentford due to a positive COVID test

LONDON: The battle to find balance between attack and defence has been a five-year struggle on Tyneside — and is so far proving the impossible conundrum for Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe.

It was an issue first flagged up by now Everton boss Rafa Benitez under the ownership of Mike Ashley. It’s an argument so often referred to as the “short blanket.”

The concept is a simple one. Pull the short blanket up at one end, your feet are open to the elements at the other, and vice versa. With limited resources, it is tough to provide quality and consistency at both ends.

Steve Bruce, never as eloquent as Benitez, suffered from the same problems. And just 180 or so minutes into his tenure at Newcastle, Howe knows that issue firsthand.

A defensively disciplined display at the Emirates, much more so than at St James’ Park last week, saw the Magpies blunted in attack and ultimately beaten by two moments of real quality.

Second-half goals by Bukayo Saka and his replacement off the bench Gabriel Martinelli ensured United remained at the foot of the Premier League, without a win in 13 in the top flight and with the worst goals against column as well as just six points to show for their early season “efforts.”

Making his debut in the United dugout after a bout of Covid, Howe made three changes from the side that drew with Brentford seven days previously.

Out went Ciaran Clark, Jacob Murphy and Karl Darlow, with Emil Krafth, Ryan Fraser and Martin Dubravka returning to the starting XI.

United were open and expansive against the Bees, but it was more a case of disciplined and compact at the home of the Gunners, as Howe made some tactical tweaks to the side who looked defensively suspect last time out.

And it’s fair to say — for 45 minutes at least — it worked, as United largely frustrated the home side, keeping them at arm’s length.

United’s record against Arsenal home and away is by Premier League standards awful.

They’ve won just once in 20 outings, and have to go back to 2010 for a victory in the red half of North London.

And to get a result against a traditionally difficult foe you have to ride your luck, or hope for players to stand up in the key moments. Luckily, as mentioned previously, Howe decided to make the crucial call to bring back Slovak Dubravka, and United needed their reinstated No.1 to produce a number of crucial stops to keep things equal at the break.

His first stop was to palm away a curling Martin Odegaard free-kick, which skirted over the heads of the United wall. The second, as incredibly reactive as it was, was followed by a miss of biblical proportions by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Some excellent work by Saka down the Arsenal left opened things up for Emile Smith-Rowe, whose header was cleared by Dubravka, only to fall to Aubameyang. But with the goal at his mercy, the Gunners’ skipper clipped on to the United post.

While the hosts were the better side, this wasn’t one-way traffic, however. United had some chances of their own.

A Callum Wilson break down the right unleashed Fraser, whose cross deflected into the path of Jonjo Shelvey, but his 25-yard shot was excellently tipped on to the bar by the outstretched arm of goalkeeping man-of-the-moment Aaron Ramsdale.

It wasn’t until added time in the first-half that Arsenal began to up the ante — and it was this increased intensity that carried through into the opening exchanges of the second-half, which bore fruit on 55 minutes.

The tempo upped, Saka linked up with Albert Sambi Lokonga, then on to Smith-Rowe who found Saka again as he rolled off the back of Emil Krafth and guided the ball into the bottom corner from the angle on the left for 1-0.

As resolute as United had looked, it was no less than the hosts deserved.

Then came some controversy — but as typically has been the case this season for the Magpies, it went against the Premier League strugglers. In fact, within seconds they were two goals down and with yet another top flight mountain to climb.

A direct ball over the top for Wilson split the Arsenal backline and just as he appeared certain to pull the trigger in the area, the slightest of shoves from Nuno Tavares was enough to see the United striker lose his balance but not enough to convince the referee or the VAR officials of a foul.

Almost instantaneously, a direct ball at the other end saw the home side’s lead doubled.

A pin-point pass in behind by Takehiro Tomiyasu picked out the freshly introduced Martinelli, who, with his first touch, guided the ball past the helpless Dubravka.

And despite some light sparring at both ends, the Brazilian’s strike was enough to end this encounter as a contest, ensuring the gloom remains on Tyneside.

No one expected a result at Arsenal, a place United lose at on an annual basis, but results are exactly what the Magpies need. Their predicament at the foot of the table is starting to look a little desperate, despite the signs of improvement under Howe.

What the manager needs to work out is whether he is going to try and play his way out of the situation, or solidify a creaking defensive unit and do it the “boring” way.

At the moment, it feels like this is neither.

Fellow relegation battlers Norwich City and Burnley come to St James’ Park in the next seven days — and it is starting to feel like this week is make or break for Newcastle’s Premier League future.


Formula E and CBX raise $478,000 for Saudi charity

Formula E and CBX raise $478,000 for Saudi charity
Updated 10 sec ago

Formula E and CBX raise $478,000 for Saudi charity

Formula E and CBX raise $478,000 for Saudi charity
  • Money raised ahead of season eight opener, with round one of the double-header getting underway in Diriyah

RIYADH: Hosts and guests of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship and Saudi Arabia came together at the Diriyah E-Prix gala dinner on Thursday to raise funds for the Charitable Society of Autism Families.

The fund-raising event, organized by official promoter CBX, raised $478,000 for a cause that Formula E has supported since 2019.

The event, held at the Cultural Palace, kicked off Formula E’s season eight opener, with round one of the double-header getting underway in Diriyah.

“I can’t express my thanks enough to those that supported the gala dinner and SAF,” Prince Saud bin Abdul Aziz bin Farhan Al-Saud, SAF chairman, said.

“The Formula E family has gone above and beyond, and the funds will allow us to support all those involved in autism, from professionals who deliver care to the children and families navigating their way through the disorder. Our vision is to develop an integrated and well-developed platform for all autistic individuals in the Kingdom.”

Eight auction lots up for grabs included a Chelsea shirt signed by special guest Didier Drogba, who personally handed the garment over to the highest bidder who paid $92,500.

Other prizes included a Tag Heuer Carrera Heuer 02 Tourbillon, Extreme E Explorers Lounge passes for its Uruguay X Prix, a Roland Iten X Rebellion Belt Buckle, a Mouawad necklace, a VIP experience in AlUla, two paintings by Fahad Al-Naymah, plus a Salayel Arabian stud horse.

Carlo Boutagy, CBX founder, said: “I’m glad we raised significant funds for such a worthy cause. My thanks to all those who attended, donated auction items, and bid for incredible pieces and experiences.”

He added: “I would also like to express my gratitude to the Ministry of Sport, the Saudi Arabian Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, and Formula E for bringing this race to the Kingdom for a fourth consecutive year, and for also supporting our gala dinner. The money raised will make the world of difference to many families in Saudi Arabia.”

The bidding battle heated up with the highest price being offered for the Salayel Arabian stud horse, all contributing to $478,000 being raised, which will support the 5,000 families with autism spectrum disorder children across the Kingdom.

Alejandro Agag, founder and chairman of Formula E, added: “It is a pleasure to be in the Kingdom for the opening rounds of season eight of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship with the support of the host city and CBX. The Charitable Society of Autism Families is a worthy cause and last night we were able to support their important work. At Formula E we race to create better futures. We are committed to building shared values among our communities and driving change together.”

Meanwhile, Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, chairman of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation and chairman of the Saudi Motorsport Co., said: “The night truly reflected our mission to increase opportunities to expand the role of motorsport in terms of inclusion to reach all segments of the population in Saudi Arabia. We are committed through the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision and the support of our leaders to improve the lives of all our citizens and build a better future for our nation’s youth.”

SAF has a longstanding relationship with CBX and the Diriyah E-Prix having received a donation of $245,000 when the partnership with Formula E was conceived. The aid was channelled into projects to train families, enrol autistic children in sports programs and support the rehabilitation of individuals with autism.

Since its inception in 2009, the charity has invested more than $16.7 million in projects to fulfil its mission to improve autism care and research in Saudi Arabia by supporting and coordinating stakeholders through a research-based approach and emphasis on collaboration.


Endurance ace Carmine Villani a high achiever in and out of the saddle

Endurance ace Carmine Villani a high achiever in and out of the saddle
Updated 49 min 49 sec ago

Endurance ace Carmine Villani a high achiever in and out of the saddle

Endurance ace Carmine Villani a high achiever in and out of the saddle
  • World No.1 will represent Great Britain at the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup 2022 at AlUla

Endurance horse racing champion Carmine Villani has led a rich and colorful life that has seen him shine in business and sport.

Today, the world No.1 will represent Great Britain at the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup 2022 (Fursan Cup) at AlUla.

Villani was a talented athlete as a young man — first in Italy and then the US — excelling as a middle-distance runner. After graduating from the University of Texas in Austin, he went on to become heavily involved in sports car racing.

However, an affinity with horses has always been in his blood. When he was young, Villani was taught to ride by his grandfather. In Carmine’s words, he “learned the tricks and bareback riding from him.”

Villani’s equine passion was rekindled during his time in Texas, where he rode quarter-horses and thoroughbreds.

He began to take part in endurance events in his early 40s and climbed to the summit of the FEI World Rankings in 2020.

There are plenty of reasons the sport has him hooked.

“It teaches discipline, morals and patience, and it takes a mental effort and sacrifice,” said Villani, who is now based in England and represents Endurance GB.

“To participate in an endurance race is an achievement itself. It could be very technical. Strategy is also a very important aspect to know how to win. It is a beautiful sport.”

He added: “Endurance is a mental and physical state. Like military — sacrifice and commitment. You should never give up. You need to be fit and have a fit horse. It is a very good way to maintain your health also.”

Villani, who is also a certified public accountant and public notary, said that a strong understanding and bond between human and horse is essential for success.

Competition tests stamina, skill and intellect, so it is imperative for him that there is an empathy at the heart of the alliance. Judgment of pace and the underlying track, as well as the horse’s moment-by-moment condition, are all integral in the pursuit of success in the sport.

“You have to be the brain of the horse,” said Villani.


Making Miracles qualifies for Saudi Cup after Custodian Cup win at King Abdul Aziz Racecourse

Making Miracles qualifies for Saudi Cup after Custodian Cup win at King Abdul Aziz Racecourse
Updated 29 January 2022

Making Miracles qualifies for Saudi Cup after Custodian Cup win at King Abdul Aziz Racecourse

Making Miracles qualifies for Saudi Cup after Custodian Cup win at King Abdul Aziz Racecourse
  • Six hopefuls gain automatic entry to the world’s most valuable race meeting on Feb. 25-26

Making Miracles, the 2019 Chester Cup winner, will join the likes of Mishriff and Sealiway in the $20 million Saudi Cup after storming to victory under Alexis Moreno in the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup (domestic Group 1) at King Abdul Aziz Racecourse on Thursday, the first of two days of qualifying races at the Riyadh venue.

The seven-year-old, formerly with Mark Johnston, scored his fifth win from eight starts in Saudi Arabia and will now gain an automatic spot in the world’s most valuable horse race.

Four further qualifying events took place at King Abdul Aziz Racecourse, with Portuguese rider Ricardo Sousa Ferreira landing three of the events: The 1351 Turf Sprint Qualifier on Cold Front, Jahez Neom Turf Cup Qualifier aboard Flying Visit and the Riyadh Dirt Sprint Qualifier sponsored by Saudia, with Rock Sound.

The day’s other contest guaranteeing a spot on the Saudi Cup race day was the Al Rajhi Bank Saudi Derby Qualifier, won by Almuthanna, partnered by veteran rider Wiggy Ramos.

There was also a qualifying spot available for the $2 million Obaiya Arabian Classic (Arabian Group 2) on Thursday for the winner of the Lexus Diriyah Cup, which was claimed by Prince Amer.

The only remaining automatic entry races come at Gulfstream on Saturday, where the winner of the Pegasus World Cup Turf will gain entry to the Group 3 Neom Turf Cup and the Pegasus World Cup (Dirt) will get a spot in the Saudi Cup.

Aside from the qualifying races, there was one other domestic Group 1 on Thursday’s card, which saw Silvestre de Sousa ride Almobeer to victory. The Brazilian had inherited the ride from Frankie Dettori, after the 51-year-old was forced to change his arrangements following a positive COVID-19 test.


Newcastle conclude Jeddah training camp with victory over Saudi Pro League leaders Al-Ittihad

Newcastle conclude Jeddah training camp with victory over Saudi Pro League leaders Al-Ittihad
Updated 29 January 2022

Newcastle conclude Jeddah training camp with victory over Saudi Pro League leaders Al-Ittihad

Newcastle conclude Jeddah training camp with victory over Saudi Pro League leaders Al-Ittihad
  • The Magpies ran out 2-1 victors in a shortened, 70-minute friendly that both teams finished with only 10 men after a double red card
  • United manager Eddie Howe said: ‘It was a good work out. The standard of the game was good. The standard of the opposition was good, too’

JEDDAH: Ten-man Newcastle United ran out 2-1 winners over Saudi Pro League leaders Al-Ittihad on Friday in a friendly match in Jeddah that was marred by two red cards.

The Magpies’ Ciaran Clark and Al-Ittihad’s Abderazak Hamdallah were given their marching orders in the second-half for an altercation in which the home player appeared to kick out at the Ireland international, who retaliated.

There were no lingering hard feelings, however, and the pair were pictured swapping shirts and pleasantries after the game at Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Stadium, which marked the conclusion of United’s six-day training camp in the Kingdom.

Allan Saint-Maximin and Ryan Fraser netted for the Magpies, one in each half, bookending an equalizer just before the break by Hamdallah.

“It was a good work out,” said Newcastle manager Eddie Howe. “The standard of the game was good. The standard of the opposition was good, too.

“It was a good test for us and I think when you play a game like this, that’s what you want. We were set certain challenges when the game went to 10 players each and we’re pleased we came through.”

In a game that the sides had agreed to shorten to 70 minutes, United took the lead after only nine minutes when a weaving, jinking run from Frenchman Saint-Maximin ended with the forward smashing home from inside the area.

The goal was canceled out on 33 minutes when Morocco international Hamdallah beat the offside trap before finishing expertly to put the ball past reserve keeper Karl Darlow, who was filling in for regular No.1 Martin Dubravka.

After the double red, Ryan Fraser finished a slick team move to clinch it for the Magpies with 13 minutes to go.

“Two very special goals,” said Howe. “Allan’s was typical Allan: Very special, trademark individual brilliance. Ryan’s goal was great to see, a good team goal and good finish."

Howe was less impressed by the handling of the red cards incident.

“I was surprised it was a red in a game like this,” he said. “The referee could have probably dealt with it differently — but by the book, it probably was the right decision.”

The Magpies fly home to England on Saturday. Their next Premier League game is on Tuesday, Feb. 8, when they will take on managerless Everton at St. James’ Park.


Eddie Howe’s Newcastle edging closer to signing Brazil international Bruno Guimaraes

Lyon's Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimaraes is close to signing for Newcastle United, according to reports. (AFP/File Photo)
Lyon's Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimaraes is close to signing for Newcastle United, according to reports. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 28 January 2022

Eddie Howe’s Newcastle edging closer to signing Brazil international Bruno Guimaraes

Lyon's Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimaraes is close to signing for Newcastle United, according to reports. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Despite frustrations in efforts to get deals over the line, several other transfers, including Man United’s Jesse Lingard, could be completed in the coming days
  • Brighton’s Dan Burn is of interest and Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah has also emerged as a potential target

JEDDAH: Eddie Howe has confirmed that Newcastle United are edging closer to signing a target believed to be Brazil international Bruno Guimaraes — and added that the transfer-hungry Magpies are not finished with the transfer window yet.
Speaking from the club’s Saudi base, the head coach did not mention the 24-year-old midfielder by name, but assured fans that United are on the verge of their third capture of winter trading.
It is widely expected Guimaraes will sign a long-term contract with English club this weekend, after Newcastle agreed a fee, said to be in the region of $44million, with French Ligue 1 side Lyon on Wednesday.
Howe saw his players beat Saudi Pro League leaders Al-Ittihad 2-1 in Jeddah on Friday evening. Goals from Allan Saint-Maximin and Ryan Fraser in either half won it for the Magpies, who were reduced to 10-men when Ciaran Clark saw red for an altercation with home goalscorer Abderrazak Hamdallah.
Before the match, Howe confirmed that good news about transfers is just around the corner.
“I can say nothing about individual players but we are hopeful we are close to completing a transfer for a player,” he said. “We will try and give you that update when we have it. Fingers crossed, we are close to getting one over the line.”
That player is understood to be Guimaraes. When asked if that is the case, Howe responded: “You can guess; there will be no confirmation from me. It would be foolish of me to do so. We are hopeful. We are closer to getting one more in to add to the two quality additions we have brought in so far.
“From my perspective, I don’t think that will be the end of our interest in bringing new players in. If that turns into reality, who knows? Things can change very late in this window, as everybody knows. It can be quite unpredictable, with things happening in the last few days that you maybe didn’t expect.”
In terms of other specific Newcastle targets during the remainder of the transfer window, which closes on Monday night, a center forward remains high on the agenda, as does a central defender.
Brighton’s Dan Burn is of interest, and Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah has also emerged as a potential target. Arab News understands Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard is also pushing hard for a deal to be brokered with the Magpies that would allow him to see out the final months of his Old Trafford contract on Tyneside.
“We are open. We are working hard to improve the squad and give this squad the best possible chance of staying in the league,” said Howe. “That was our aim at the beginning of the window and it remains the same now.”
United have had their share of frustrations during this transfer window, with moves for Sven Botman and Diego Carlos aborted late on due to the unwillingness of Lille and Sevilla, respectively, to sell.
Howe admits things have often proved not to be straightforward but did not lay any blame at the doorstep of the Magpies’ transfer committee.
“We are in a lot better place if we can get this deal done,” he said. “The frustration I felt was only at the window, not anyone connected with the club. I see what everyone is doing behind the scenes, what everybody wants.
“This window has been difficult, regardless of our situation. It has been tough to actually get clear decisions — not from our side, from others — on what we can and can’t do and what they want to do. The work has been immense and we hope it bears fruit at the end of the window.”