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It was in early August, with the new Premier League season primed, when Arsène Wenger delivered the news Jack Wilshere dreaded. The midfielder had been working up a sweat on an exercise bike in the gym at Arsenal’s training ground when the manager ambled over and left the spin session stalled. “It was an honest conversation,” Wilshere recalls. “It had been boiling up for a while. Everybody knew I had a year left on my deal and had been out on loan, got injured and wasn’t really in his plans. He just said: ‘At the moment we are not going to be offering you a contract so, if you can get one somewhere else, you can go.’”

Almost eight months on and, as he sits in the Futsal hall at St George’s Park, it is easier for Wilshere to reflect on such a painful memory even though, in essence, not much has changed. Arsenal’s stance may have shifted to the extent they have made a contract Womens Willie Stargell Jersey offer, albeit on a reduced basic wage of around £80,000 a week Dante Fabbro Womens Jersey with significant incentives for a player whose body had proved so brittle. But, while Wilshere’s priority is to stay, he will not do so on those terms, leaving discussions at an impasse. With interest from Everton, West Ham and Juventus, the possibility remains that he could this summer leave the club he joined at the age of nine.

Yet, around the issue of his long-term future, the landscape has shifted dramatically. http://www.authenticislanderstore.com/gordie-howe-jersey_c-450.html Wilshere, for one, is clad in England training gear as he talks and is preparing to earn a first cap since Iceland and the national team’s humiliating departure from Euro 2016. His fitness has held and he has amassed more club appearances this season – 31 – than in any campaign since 2013-14, despite remaining among the Europa League and Carabao Cup fringe contingent until late November. He has even worn the captain’s armband, with his heavy involvement over the last few months and recall to the England set-up the reward for bold choices: whether that loan move to Bournemouth last season or his determination to prove he warranted a role at Arsenal this time round.
“Obviously I wasn’t happy with what the manager had said but, at the same time, part of me knew all this already,” he says. http://www.panthershopnflonline.com/SUPER-BOWL-BRENTON-BERSIN-JERSEY “All I needed was some clarity on where I stood at the football club. How did I feel after? It did make me think. He’d said I could fight for my position and, if I performed well in the Carabao Cup and Europa League, I’d have a chance. I had three or four weeks left in the transfer window but I didn’t find anything I wanted and at the same time I wasn’t really fit. So Womens Seth Curry Jersey I decided to build up my fitness. I always had confidence I could get back into the midfield, and keep my place, if I was fit.
“I’d been in a similar situation the previous year. I’d come back from the Euros and picked up an injury in pre-season and, for the first few games, I was not in the team. I knew I had to play at that stage of my career because, the year before, I had missed a lot of football [an ankle injury had restricted him to three appearances for Arsenal]. I couldn’t just be coming on from the bench, so I went to Bournemouth. A lot of people disagreed with that decision but I played a lot of games and proved to myself I still could.
“So when the boss said I could leave, I wasn’t still thinking: ‘I need to get out and play games.’ It was more of a case of getting fully fit and showing what I could do. When I was at Bournemouth, getting back here was always the aim. This is where I wanted to be.”
That sense of satisfaction stems from his restoration with club and country. Arsenal have leant on their long-serving midfielder through the trauma of recent weeks, his http://www.officialauthenticknights.com/Adidas-Authentic-Brad-Hunt-Jersey displays offering encouragement as another Authentic Nick Boyle Jersey campaign fizzles out prematurely on all but a European front and earning praise from such as Milan’s Gennaro Gattuso. For Gareth Southgate, a manager juggling midfield options, the 26-year-old’s return to fitness is timely. England have four friendlies before they confront Tunisia in Volgograd. Wilshere will have a chance to prove he warrants significant involvement.
“I’ve always loved representing my country and it’s something I’ve missed,” he says. “But I never gave up hope I’d do it again. I’ve always felt this is somewhere I belong. Now it’s down to me to stake my claim. I’m not doing much different from in the past but, if I do not feel quite up to it, maybe I’ll miss a day rather than think I can get through it now. Also, I’m not going in for stupid tackles, which helps. That’s part of growing up and maturing.”

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The general view of Burnley as a long-ball outfit meant that the logic behind Gareth Southgate’s decision to hand James Tarkowski a first England call-up last week was not immediately obvious. After all, what hope could there ever be for an unheralded defender from one of the Premier League’s more direct teams when Southgate has cast Manchester United’s Chris Smalling into the international wilderness because he is not good enough on the ball?

Appearances Devin McCourty Authentic Jersey can be deceptive, however, because while the focus for Tarkowski has been on getting the basics right this season, http://www.footballvikingsofficialshop.com/Xavier_Rhodes_Jersey he possesses a pedigree as a passer. “Maybe some of you have written that I’m an old-fashioned English defender but before I joined Burnley no one ever said those words about me,” the 25-year-old said at St George’s Park. “I was more a ball-playing centre-half, playing out from the back in a Brentford team that took a lot of chances.”
That willingness to throw caution to the wind worked against Tarkowski when he joined Burnley in 2016. Sean Dyche had a different philosophy. He wanted his http://www.authenticbrewershop.com/authentic-8-ryan-braun-jersey.html new signing to improve at the ugly side of the game and Tarkowski spent last season below Michael Keane in the pecking order.
“When I went to Burnley it sort of flipped it on its head,” he said. “We take a lot less chances but do the basics Authentic Mike Tolbert Jersey right. That has really brought my game on, keeping it quite simple at times but doing the defending – the most important stuff – right.”
Having worked tirelessly to adapt to Dyche’s ethos in training, Tarkowski was ready to step up when Keane joined Everton last summer. The Burnley manager had quietly advised him that Keane was probably going to leave and Tarkowski, who also qualifies for Poland through his paternal grandfather, has seized his opportunity to impress this season, playing a pivotal role in Burnley’s rise to seventh place in the Premier League.
Keane has fallen out of contention after flailing at Everton this season, but understanding Tarkowski’s appeal to Southgate requires looking beyond Burnley having the fourth best defensive Matthew Tkachuk Jersey record in the Premier League. Southgate, who watched him play in the Championship for Brentford, likes centre-backs with technical ability. He has favoured Leicester’s Harry Maguire over Smalling and dropped Chelsea’s Gary Cahill for the friendlies against the Netherlands and Italy.
Those tough calls have left England looking short of stature and experience at the back. There is no one of the calibre of Sol Campbell, Rio Ferdinand or John Terry in this squad and although England kept clean sheets after switching to a back three for the November friendlies against Germany and Brazil, it is difficult not to suspect that defensive vulnerabilities could undermine them at the World Cup. Swansea’s Alfie Mawson and Liverpool’s Joe Gomez are promising but raw, http://www.officialsseahawksshop.com/Deshawn_Shead_Jersey_Cheap Manchester City’s John Stones still has much to prove at the highest level and Eric Dier has played only a handful of games in defence for Tottenham this season. Ryan Bertrand also pulled out of the squad on Tuesday with a back injury.
Yet at least Southgate has a clear idea of how he wants his team to play. “The game’s changed,” Tarkowski said. “That Barcelona team made everyone think: ‘This is the way football’s got to be now,’ so everyone went to 4-3-3 and opened the pitch up as much as they could.
Striking the right balance will be crucial. “Sergio Ramos, people might say he’s a ball-playing centre half, but he still does the dirty stuff right,” Tarkowski said. “He sticks his head in when he needs to. He’s scored a lot of big goals for Real Madrid, putting his head in the box and getting on the end of crosses. wholesale nfl jerseys cheap jerseys cheap nfl jerseys cheap jerseys cheap jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys
And so it ends? If, that is, it hadn’t already – and if it ever really started. “I feel like I lost it,” Diego Simeone said. It was Sunday evening on the east coast and he meant the game, but in all probability it was the title too. Defeated 2-1 by Villarreal, at the final whistle Atlético Madrid’s manager gazed at nothing in particular, an empty look on his face as all around him people celebrated. An old man enthusiastically shook the hand of the man next to him, a solitary square of yellow confetti settled on his tweed hat, while Simeone’s team trudged past towards the tunnel. Vitolo had led the way seconds before, sent off for the http://www.raidersfootballprostore.com/WOMENS_YOUTH_JACK_TATUM_JERSEY.html first time, and now they followed, knowing that, barring a miracle, the league had just come to a close at the Ceramic Stadium, two months early.

“Is it over?” Simeone was asked afterwards, to which he said something about winning lots of games and seeing where they are with five weeks to go. But with nine weeks left, Atlético are probably too far off and he could have been forgiven for offering a shorter, simpler answer: “Probably.” On Sunday afternoon, Barcelona defeated Athletic Bilbao 2-0 and that, plus Atlético’s defeat, leaves Simeone’s side 11 points and head-to-head goal difference behind the leaders. “It’s finished!” ran the shout on the radio and most agreed: any small, lingering hope Atlético had of becoming champions again, already radically reduced since that loss at the Camp Nou a fortnight ago, slipped through their fingers.
“There’s no explanation,” Saúl said. “It was strange; this doesn’t happen often.” He was right, it doesn’t. Ever. Not even against Villarreal, the team Atlético hadn’t beaten in Eric Fehr Womens Jersey four. At half-time, Atlético were 1-0 up, Villarreal’s president Fernando Roig going down to tell the referee he’d got it wrong when he gave diving Antoine Griezmann an early penalty. Thirty-five times Simeone’s side have led 1-0 at half time, and they’d never lost. With 10 minutes to go, they were still a goal up. Atlético were relentlessly atléticoing again, in control and on course for a ninth 1-0 of the season, a 19th clean sheet. To make sure, Greizmann came off and Gabi went on. A minute later, Enes Unal made it 1-1. Eight minutes after that, with virtually the last kick of the game, Unal scored again, his sixth of the season – five for Villarreal, one for Levante.
No wonder Simeone was blaming himself. “I lost it: the players made a huge effort and I didn’t help them,” he said. “It’s not his fault,” insisted Saúl, but there was something in Simeone’s confession. “Unal punishes el Cholo,” ran the headline in AS. In the match report below, Patricia Cazón was reeling off Clint Eastwood’s films, linking them to key moments of a game which she said had had started on the porch, rifle in hand like Gran Torino; in which Griezmann’s penalty had been shot like Dirty Harry; the match became a fight and the pitch a ring, Million Dollar Baby-style; and Authentic Shaun Alexander Jersey in which there was, of course, the good, the bad and ultimately the ugly too. One film she didn’t mention was Never say Goodbye, and Simeone wasn’t saying that but they surely know they may soon have to and everyone else Cameron Brate Jersey was doing it for them. Three pages on, Picu Díaz insisted: “Defeat meant bidding adiós to the league.”
“Atlético say goodbye. If it looked impossible before, that’s a reality now,” agreed El País. “The final lights out – the remote chance they had disintegrated at the Cerámica,” said El Mundo. When Leo Messi had scored against Athletic a few hours earlier, he had done a dance. Well, a momentary wriggle, anyway – and that was enough. “The rhythm of a champion,” cheered El Mundo Deportivo. “This league is a dance,” said the cover of Sport. “It’s official: no one can keep up with Barcelona’s pace: the league is on a plate,” read the editorial. They said Barcelona can “smell” the league, which poses the question “what does the league smell of?” and sets you up to insert your own “fishy” here. The http://www.cardinalsnflofficialonlineshop.com/Josh-Bynes-Jersey front cover of AS, meanwhile, went for: “the league, done.” wholesale nfl jerseys cheap jerseys from china cheap jerseys wholesale jerseys cheap jerseys from china
To err is human, Rollie Fingers Youth jersey to forgive divine. As a coda to this: to err massively and hilariously is also human, as anyone who writes about sport can confirm. It is a common experience to find oneself wincing a little at the way things turn out in the real world, even when the way things turn out is also a source of pure sporting pleasure.

All of which is a prelude to a mea culpa. Yes: I was a Salah doubter. Or at least a nonplussed observer. My Guardian pre-season Premier League preview from last August contained the following dismissive summary of Jürgen Klopp’s transfer business: “Liverpool have bought a good left-back and spent an awful lot of money on Mohamed Salah.” Let’s just read that back. An awful. Lot of. Money. Mo Salah for £35m. Lol. Laughing weeping face emoji. Do I get paid for this stuff?
But then this is the joy and, indeed, the whole point of watching and playing sport. Whatever you say about it, http://www.officialsanaheimducks.com/Adidas-Josh-Manson-Jersey that’s what it’s not. It thumbs its nose, rips up your preconceptions.
In mitigation those tossed-off thoughts were written just before the four biggest transfers of all time took place, kicked off by the financial inanity of Neymar’s move to Paris Saint-Germain. Shortly afterwards Barcelona paid three times Salah’s fee for Ousmane Dembélé. By the end of the summer £35m was looking, if not small potatoes, then smaller potatoes. Right now it looks like one of the outstanding bargains of the last 10 years.
But then, even those who knew Salah’s game in intimate detail, who spoke Jon Bostic Youth jersey excitedly of his deeds in Serie A, will surely be a bit surprised at the sheer extent of his instant, exhilarating success under Klopp, a thing to be studied and marvelled at on its own terms.
With seven games to go Salah is the player of the season. He Womens Y.A. Tittle Jersey has 28 league goals, four more than Harry Kane and seven more than Sergio Agüero, capped by those four against Watford at the weekend. He also has nine assists, surpassed only by Leroy Sané and David Silva. Only Eden Hazard, Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend have made more successful dribbles. Only Kane has had more shots.
A nice touch too: despite playing in a bruising, full-throttle team Salah has yet to be shown any kind of card this season. There is a truism that good footballers need to have something nasty about them. Salah is merciless in many ways. But he kills you with a smile.
The numbers are, of course, just a part of it. It was not a goal or a man-of-the-match performance that revealed the full dawning Salah-ness of Salah to this observer. It was instead the 0-0 draw with Manchester United at Anfield in October, a game dominated by José Mourinho’s defensive organisation.
Even here Salah just stood out, the only player on the pitch able to turn and surge away through the defensive lines. He made eight dribbles in 73 minutes, more than United’s entire midfield http://www.officialnewyorkrangers.com/Adidas-Jimmy-Vesey-Jersey and attack put together. More than this, he seemed a relentlessly optimistic player, football as reinterpreted by a gerbil superhero. Legs whirring, head up, chest out.
Fast forward to Watford at the weekend and Salah has begun to make parts of the game look like a mismatch, the way only the very best can. The hat-trick goal at Anfield will remain one of the images of the season, those three Watford defenders squished together in front of Salah, tottering on their heels as this miracle of balance and speed springs to his left then springs back, leaving the yellow shirts collapsing helplessly like a row of derelict tenement houses. Even the finish is a lovely detail, the ball swished past Orestis Karnezis with an impudent playground shuffle. wholesale jerseys cheap jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys from china wholesale jerseys cheap jerseys
The FA Cup semi-finals will be an all?Premier League affair after all. Wigan Athletic did their best to keep the League One flag flying but after eliminating three top-flight opponents in previous rounds they met their match in Southampton, who were anonymous at first but managed two goals and a missed penalty in the second half.

“I couldn’t ask any more of my players, we have represented League One in a very good way,” Paul Cook, the Wigan manager, said. “In the first half especially we were excellent, but though we felt we were playing well we probably didn’t work their goalkeeper enough. I was a bit fearful at half-time because we hadn’t got anything after being on top. Sure enough Southampton grew into the game and we found it hard to keep up our intensity.”

Wigan were by far the most positive team in the first half, as a staggering corner count of 10-0 suggests. They did not manage to fashion many clearcut chances, though they certainly matched their opponents for passing and movement, with Nathan Byrne putting in another excellent attacking display at right-back. The half-time conversations rightly centred how no one would have guessed two divisions separated the teams, although that actually did Wigan scant justice. If anyone looked like a Premier League team it was the home side.
The only worry at that point was that Wigan had not succeeded in taking the lead from any of the goalmouth situations they had created. It was not a case of profligate finishing, they just could not find the final pass to split open the Southampton defence. Chey Dunkley came close midway through the first half but could not turn the ball in after Byrne’s shot http://www.cowboysfootballofficialprostore.com/YOUTH+EZEKIEL+ELLIOTT+JERSEY took a deflection. Michael Jacobs http://www.raidersnflofficialproshop.com/YOUTH+KHALIL+MACK+JERSEY went on a solo run past most of the Southampton defence only to choose the wrong option when he reached the area. When he sent in a cross for Will Grigg just before the interval the striker could not quite reach it.
All Southampton had managed before the break were a couple of hopeful shots from Sofiane Boufal and Mario Lemina, though the visitors emerged looking a little more Aaron Altherr Jersey determined and should have gone in front just before the hour when a rare Byrne mistake Authentic Malcolm Smith Jersey led to the clearest opening of the game. The full-back’s square ball ran straight through to the unmarked Manolo Gabbiadini by the penalty spot. The Italian should have scored but he too appeared to be taken by surprise and a less than decisive finish allowed Christian Walton to come out and close him down.
The Wigan goalkeeper also saved when Pierre-Emile Højbjerg headed powerfully towards goal from a Southampton corner, though when Dusan Tadic sent over another one a minute later http://www.footballbillsofficialstore.com/Logan-Thomas-Jersey.html the Danish midfielder player made the breakthrough with his first goal in English football. Perhaps Wigan were expecting a header, for when Højbjerg met the corner with a first-time shot neither Dan Burn nor Walton on the line could keep it out. Southampton had won three corners to Wigan’s 11 at that point. Crucially they were able to make one count.
Cook was not going to give up on his Wembley dream without a fight, and his response was to send on two forwards in Ryan Colclough and Nick Powell, even though the latter was barely over a hamstring injury. It appeared Wigan might be punished for their ambition when Burn brought Gabbiadini down in the area to concede a penalty, but though the striker took the spot-kick himself and struck his effort firmly, Walton guessed correctly, springing Andrei Vasilevskiy Jersey to his left to make a wonderful save.
That at least allowed Wigan to keep hoping for the last 20 minutes, though Southampton brought their experience to bear to close the game out. The substitute Noel Hunt was unable to take a difficult opportunity as the match moved into stoppage time, before the end to Wigan’s remarkable run http://www.giantsfootballofficialonline.com/YOUTH+DWAYNE+HARRIS+JERSEY was finally sealed by Cédric Soares. The full?back came up with an inspired headed touch to take out Callum Elder from Nathan Redmond’s pass, and once in the penalty area found it easy to sidefoot past Walton. Two new scorers took Southampton to Wembley. “It’s difficult to say it’s a new start because it is the middle of the season,” Højbjerg said. “But we have a new manager and we are at Wembley so it feels like things are looking up.”
Mark Hughes did not disagree. “In the short time I’ve been here I have seen good quality and application,” he said. “Maybe some players at the club have been a little bit hurt by Womens Stan Mikita Jersey the criticism that has come their way, but we made good decisions today. We knew we needed to be a little more dominant in the second half, and we were able to step it up. We could have won 3-0 with the penalty, but that would not have been a fair reflection of the game.”

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Danny Welbeck thought about it. He had felt the slightest touch from the Milan left-back, Ricardo Rodríguez, inside the area and he went down. The official behind the goal thought about it some more. The seconds ticked by. Milan were http://www.officialhornetsproshop.com/authentic-0-spencer-hawes-jersey.html unconcerned. But then, a crackle across the airwaves and there was the Swedish referee, Jonas Eriksson, pointing to the spot. Milan erupted with rage. Arsenal could sense their place in the Europa League quarter-finals.

Welbeck scored and, at long last, Arsène Wenger could feel his luck was in. The Arsenal manager’s team had trailed to Hakan Calhanoglu’s long-range blast and, at that point, things could have turned angsty. Instead, Welbeck had them back in charge.

The impression it was Arsenal’s night was reinforced when Granit Xhaka made the tie safe on 71 minutes. Again, there had been little hint of danger. The midfielder’s shot from outside the area looked routine for Gianluigi Donnarumma. Yet the young Cam Neely Authentic Jersey hope of Italian goalkeeping fumbled dreadfully and that was that. There was even time for Welbeck to add a late third, after Donnarumma had parried Aaron Ramsey’s header.
There were fears beforehand of another low Emirates Stadium turnout; more refuseniks angry at the club’s direction under Wenger. It did not materialise and there was something fortifying about the sight of a virtual full house roaring the team on. The official attendance of 58,973 looked right, for a change.
Milan came to play and they were understandably aggrieved about the penalty, even if the manager, Rino Gattuso, refused to use it as http://www.authenticslightningstore.com/-48-brett-howden-jersey_c-461.html an “alibi” for the defeat. Arsenal wobbled at the start and they were relieved when the Milan striker André Silva – in yards of space – found only the side-netting http://www.authenticcelticstore.com/authentic-2-red-auerbach-jersey.html after 46 seconds. But Wenger’s team tried to get on to the front foot and they created chances.
This competition has long since come to resemble a shot at salvation for the club and, possibly, Wenger too. The dream of crashing into the Champions League via the back door continues to burn.
Calhanoglu fashioned his goal out of nothing. He cut Andre Smith Jersey across his right-footed shot from 25 yards and got the ball to dip and fade into the far corner. David Ospina was powerless. The fear from the Arsenal point of view was it would prompt a collective panic; a reawakening of the demons that have gripped them all too regularly this season. But as the crowd stayed with them, they responded – with a helping hand from the officials.
When Welbeck went down, Wenger’s words from last month resonated. “I remember there were tremendous cases here when foreign players did it,” he said, with regard to diving. “But English players have learned very quickly and they might be the masters now.” The Italian media put questions to Gattuso about how England had once been considered as the land of fair play. Not here.
Welbeck’s conversion was clinical and Milan would be further incensed moments later when Calum Chambers, who had replaced Laurent Koscielny – the victim of a back injury – felt the ball hit his hand inside the area. No penalty.
Arsenal were Dallas Stars Authentic Jersey not convincing at the back but they could point to a clutch of chances in the first half. Welbeck put a move on Leonardo Bonucci in the 25th minute before seeing Donnarumma block at the near post; Ramsey worked the goalkeeper immediately after Calhanoglu’s goal and, in first half stoppage time, Welbeck touched back for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who nodded wide, and Jack Wilshere extended Donnarumma with a decent hit. cheap jerseys from china wholesale nfl jerseys from china cheap nfl jerseys cheap nfl jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys cheap jerseys
Five men slammed on the brakes simultaneously. Together they had been running towards Lionel Messi and together they turned and ran away from him again, as if he had flicked a switch, as if he had some kind of control over them. Which, in a way, he did. The moment that led to the second goal on a night which ended with the Camp Nou roaring their team into the quarter-finals, was an encapsulation of the power that ultimately took them there.

Messi twice sent shots through the legs of Thibaut Courtois and into the net, in the third minute and the 64th, but it was the assist for the second that effectively ended this and there was something in that image, in the way it came in the 19th minute, that may even have said as much as him scoring.
Messi saw Cesc Fàbregas lose control. Seizing upon the Chris Clark Authentic Jersey ball, suddenly he was away. Andreas Christensen hurtled towards him, but too late. Next came César Azpilicueta, but Messi escaped to his left. And then came the switch. As he scuttled forward, five Chelsea players ran towards him, in unison. His pass turned them in unison, collectively removed them from Jaromir Jagr Youth jersey the game. They had not made it to him and they did not make it to Ousmane Dembélé either, who controlled and thumped into the top corner, away from Courtois. At 2-0 it was http://www.steelersnflofficialonline.com/Authentic-Joe-Greene-Jersey good as over.
It was Dembélé’s first goal for Barcelona and it was hugely significant. http://www.raidersfootballofficialonline.com/Nike-Tyrell-Adams-Jersey.html Injured attempting a backheel on his first start, he had been out for four months; when he returned, more than 100 days later, another injury added four more weeks to the wait. Dembélé is Barcelona’s second-most expensive player, and the pressure duly built, along with concerns about his ability to adapt and even his diet, but he had played with the reserves in the Super Copa de Catalunya, impressed in Málaga and now, at last, he was ready.
Selected, too. Ernesto Valverde had talked about his “unique qualities” while Sergio Busquets insisted “he looks better with every day and we believe in him”, yet his inclusion was a surprise. Dembélé had played 71 minutes against Juventus in September but not since; 19 minutes in here he had been involved in the first and scored the second. Messi embraced him.
There was support then; even more significant, perhaps, was the support for André Gomes, the midfielder who had referred to a kind of “hell” and admitted that the pressure weighs upon him, and the murmuring from this stadium had affected him. When he appeared in the second half there was a huge roar and the supporters chanted his name.
Ultimately, though, it always seems to come down to that guy, and within two minutes they were chanting Messi’s name again, when he dashed into the area and hit the ball under Courtois for a second time to make it 3-0. That was the 602nd goal of his career, his 100th in this competition. None of them had arrived as fast as his first here, the strike that started it all.
Messi had missed out at the weekend because of the birth of his third son, Ciro. “He looks well to me; he’s ready,” Valverde had said, rightly. They had barely packed away the pre-match banner declaring, in English, “God save the king”, when Luis Suárez’s neat flick found him and he steered the ball between Courtois’s legs at the near post. He had been back for 127 seconds and the goal was dedicated to Womens Stephone Anthony Jersey Ciro.
Chelsea had not yet touched the ball. They grew into it, of course, and this was not always easy for Barcelona. Yet Messi was, well, Messi. Much was made of the fact that he had not scored against Chelsea before the first leg; now he has three. cheap nfl jerseys wholesale jerseys cheap jerseys china wholesale jerseys wholesale jerseys
Ernesto Valverde is considering including André Gomes against Chelsea despite the midfielder publicly admitting he is not enjoying playing football and is struggling with the pressure at the club.

The Barcelona manager described Gomes, 24, as “brave” for speaking out and the midfielder Sergio Busquets said the squad would help their team-mate after the former Valencia player gave an interview to Panenka magazine in which he described his “hell” at Barcelona. “Andre has lots of qualities; let’s see if tomorrow is the day that he shows that,” Valverde said.

I don’t feel good on the pitch,” the Portuguese said in the interview, which was conducted at the end of February and published on Monday. “I am not enjoying what I am doing. The first six months were pretty good but then things changed. Maybe it’s not the right word to use but it has turnedinto a kind of hell because I have started to feel more pressure. With [some] pressure I feel fine but withthe pressure [I put] on myself I don’t. The feeling that I have during games is bad.
“On more than one occasion I didn’t want to leave my house Adam Jones Jersey because [of the way] people look at you,” he added. “You have a fear of going on the street out of embarrassment. I close myself off. I don’t talk to anybody. Thinking too much has hurt me. I think about the bad things and what I have to do. My team-mates help me a lot but things don’t work out the way they want them to work out. In training, I am generally relaxed although there can be days when I feel a little low on confidence and it’s noticeable.”
During http://www.officialmlbgiantshop.com/authentic-43-dave-dravecky-jersey.html the recent visit of Atlético Madrid Valverde could be seen swearing about the murmuring that went around the stadium when Gomes had the ball. The player’s revelations put that footage into context and occupied much of the buildup to the second leg against Chelsea. Asked if Gomes was ready to play, Valverde replied: “If the coach believes so, yes.” Gomes’s inclusion may depend on a straight choice between him and Paulinho and could also be dependent on the Francisco Liriano Womens Jersey fitness of Andrés Iniesta, who was able to train after a week out with a hamstring strain.
“Players and coaches are [generally] http://www.footballdolphinsofficials.com/WOMENS_YOUTH_CAMERON_WAKE_JERSEY.html careful not to show any insecurity or weakness and André has done so, which is brave, but it is not new and he is not the only one – it has happened to us all in one way or another and we have to find ways of confronting that and carrying on,” Valverde added. “This is not something I have not come across Josh Donaldson Womens Jersey before in my career, as a player or a coach.”
Busquets said: “We knew something of André’s situation but it’s a very personal thing. We have tried to help him, advise him, be at his side but he is the one that takes it home. The background noise at the Camp Nou should be positive now. I think http://www.footballsteelersonline.com/Ben-Roethlisberger-Jersey he’s ready. It’s an extra pressure he puts on himself but I am sure he’s prepared and we will help him from the inside, and the fans will help him from the outside. What we all want Womens Jack Crawford Jersey is what’s best for the club.” cheap nfl jerseys cheap nfl jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys wholesale jerseys cheap jerseys from china wholesale jerseys
Sometimes you get what you deserve in sport. With an hour gone on an angsty night at Old Trafford, with Manchester United fumbling vaguely in front of the Sevilla defence like a man struggling in the wee hours for his door key, José Mourinho decided, what the hell, and brought on Paul Pogba for Marouane Fellaini.

Old Trafford roared itself out of its slumbers as Mourinho’s most http://www.officialdiamondbackshop.com/authentic-26-shelby-miller-jersey.html compelling midfield presence made a belated entrance. And yet half an hour later Manchester United http://www.officialbaseballgiants.com/Joe_Panik_Jersey had exited the Champions League without having at any stage made any obvious attempts to stay in it.
They did so in limp fashion, outmanoeuvred by a wonderful midfield stylist in Éver Banega, who played United off their own pitch while barely seeming to break a sweat.
There will be blame-shifting, even the pretence that United were simply unlucky, with nothing in their gameplan that requires any major revision. But this was a depressingly craven defeat for the three-time champions of Europe, a team that have had £300m spent on them in the last two seasons, and who lined up in a must-win game with an invention-free flat midfield pegged out around the spoiling qualities of Fellaini and Nemanja Matic.
All tactical preferences aside, it is hard not to conclude that this United team are better than that; they have more invention, more drive, more joy in their football than they were allowed to show over 180 guileless minutes. It should be a source of embarrassment that they looked so laboured, cocooned within the manager’s enduring defensive rage against the fifth best team in Spain.
It is hard to determine these days exactly what drives Mourinho’s manic caution, that strangely compelling desire to pre-throttle his own team, insisting only on victories that involve stifling defence. There is a theory Mourinho has backed himself into a tactical corner, so profound is his enduring dislike of the Barcelona-centred school that he insists the game be played the other way.
For Mourinho nothing has ever quite matched his defining victory in this competition eight years ago, a game at Camp Nou in which his Internazionale team overcame Pep Guardiola’s peak Barcelona playing the opposite of-possession football, kicking the ball away, defending in a deep double-bolt, bending the basic notion of what football can be to Mourinho’s annihilating will.
This, though, was Sevilla at home, the kind of occasion this grand old club likes Kelly Hrudey Jersey to suck the sweetness from. No matter what stage of the season there is a simple formal beauty to the sight of United’s red shirts lining up under the harsh flat white lights of that craning corrugated roof.
And yet for most of the opening hour it was the visitors who played with guile and drive and who possessed in Banega the most impressive midfield presence on the pitch. Time and again, as United fought and leapt, Banega could be seen tiptoeing through the trees, a genuinely high-calibre ball-player, capped 59 times by Womens Sonny Gray Jersey Argentina and startlingly calm in the middle of that midfield forest.
There is a point to this. Banega is also exactly what United do not have, an element beyond the strangulating Mourinho blueprint, trusted to purr about the pitch seeking the right place to deploy his velvet-pawed touch. Banega might not sprint or leap well at set pieces. But here he ran the game by stealth, an ambling brain in bright orange boots, funnelling possession into difficult areas and digging his fingernails into the back of United’s midfield.

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They’re all talking about that long run in the dressing room,” Gabriel Paulista said. It had been 14 years, after all. On Saturday afternoon, Valencia beat Sevilla 2-0 at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, the first time they had won there since May 2004, back when Pep Guardiola was a midfielder, not a manager, Lionel Messi had not played a senior game and Sergio Ramos was just Authentic Michael Jordan Jersey starting out, a 19-year-old dreaming of Claudio Caniggia. Of the 30 footballers who took to the field that day, he and Dani Alves are the only ones still going and now have 52 titles between them. Then, they had one. Sevilla, the record-holding, five-times Uefa Cup/Europa League winners, had never even won the trophy once. And as for Valencia: well, they were the best team in Spain.

Things have changed, all right. One thing that didn’t was the result. Back then, goals from Vicente Rodríguez and Rubén Baraja gave Valencia victory; better still, victory carried them to the league title, for the second time in three years under Rafa Benítez. Ten days later, they won the Uefa Cup, too. This time, 14 years and no Valencia victories later, two goals from Rodrigo Moreno secured a win that also carried Valencia back to the Champions League, all but guaranteeing Womens P. A. Parenteau Jersey them at least fourth place as it lifted them 11 points, plus head-to-head http://www.authenticbaltimoreoriolesshop.com/Mark-Trumbo-Jersey goal difference clear of their opponents in fifth.

“Until we’re mathematically there, we can’t say so but this is a big victory, and it puts us in a position we would have all signed up for, so we’re tremendously happy,” said Marcelino García Toral, the Valencia manager. When it was suggested to Rodrigo that it would take a “disaster” for them not to make it, he replied: “Football is made up of disasters.” But it’s virtually done. Valencia have to lose at least four times to miss out Womens Tony Romo Jersey when they have only lost six in La Liga all season. A few weeks ago, Marcelino insisted: “We’re not doing all this work to finish fifth or sixth.” No, they were doing all this work to finish in the top four. Now, they almost certainly will.
“We have to celebrate this,” Gabriel said.
It is only a little more than two years since Valencia were in the Champions League, so a return may not seem like a watershed but that’s how it felt and there was something in the celebrations at full time that spoke to that sensation. Their last night in the competition was Gary Neville’s first at the club, a limp exit against Lyon, and they finished that season closer to relegation than Europe; for much of last season, they threat was the same. Two consecutive 12th-placed Jeremy Lane Youth jersey finishes represented their worst campaigns for 27 years and since that defeat they have changed presidents, brought in more than a dozen players, shipped out more than 30 of them and had five managers.
But then this summer everything changed. Anil Murthy took over as president, Mateu Alemany became the director general and Marcelino was hired as coach. During pre-season in the US this summer, he was unhappy about how dry the pitch was; 10 minutes later, the local fire department was hosing it down. For staff, who have kept photos, it was symbolic of the seriousness and the attention to detail, as well as the determination. http://www.officialastroshop.com/Jr_Richard_Jersey It was also just the start. The diet was changed, the style, too. Captain Dani Parejo admitted the players were going “hungry”. He meant it literally but it was also felt metaphorically: the talent was there and Marcelino recovered footballers whose level had dropped and brought in others with something to prove. He even got a goal out of winter arrival Francis Coquelin. Marcelino also got rid of those likely to get in the way; the clean up began.
Now, they’re virtually back in the Champions League.
In the end, when it came down to it, when it came to fourth against fifth for a Champions League place, Valencia at Sevilla 10 weeks from the end, three touches were pretty much all it took to get them there. In http://www.teamusahockeyjerseys.com/Adidas-Patrick-Kane-Jersey a game in which Sevilla hit the bar, had a penalty shout turned down and drew a superb save from Neto, when they had more of the ball, more shots and more chances, Geoffrey Kondogbia’s wonderful 40-yard pass came out of the blue. Long, diagonal and over the defence, it found Rodrigo, who controlled superbly and slotted in the first. They were all set. Kondogbia, described by one paper as “brutal, unstoppable, immense, a total footballer”, then burst through two challenges to provide the second in the second half, again finished off by Rodrigo.

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It promises to be an enjoyable five-day break in the sun for Manchester City’s A.J. Green Jersey players, who boarded their flight to Abu Dhabi last night enjoying the view from the top of the Premier League, 16 points clear of Manchester United once again, and safe in the knowledge they can wrap up the title against their neighbours on 7 April http://www.anaheimducksofficialonline.com/Adidas-Nick-Ritchie-Jersey if they win at Everton the weekend before.

Manchester City must feel like they are within touching distance of that crown after David Silva delivered another midfield masterclass on an evening when Pep Guardiola’s side cantered to their 26th league win of the season to leave Stoke mired in relegation trouble. Returning to the team after being allowed compassionate leave to spend time with his wife in Spain, where the couple’s prematurely born son continues to receive medical attention, Silva scored two splendid goals and was a joy to watch throughout.

Raheem Sterling set up the first and Gabriel Jesus, who started up front in place of the injured Sergio Agüero, created the second as a cold night in Stoke presented few problems for a City side who will be guaranteed a warm welcome in more ways than one when they touch Peyton Barber Jersey down in the Middle East.
With eight matches remaining, City have already accumulated more points than they did in the whole of last season and this was another of those occasions when the opposition were only allowed fleeting glimpses of the ball. The visitors were dominant from the outset and although Paul Lambert took consolation from the fact Stoke “never capitulated” in the way they in October, when City put seven past them at the Etihad, the truth is the margin of victory could easily have been much wider.
City were more forgiving than normal in front of goal, with Sterling guilty of squandering a couple of excellent second-half chances against a Stoke side who showed plenty of endeavour but offered little in the way of an attacking threat in a game that always felt like an exercise in damage limitation.
“We are very close now,” said Guardiola, looking http://www.lionsshopnfl.com/Authentic-Ricky-Wagner-Jersey a picture of relaxation as he reflected on City’s commanding position. “We have 81 points, which is a lot. I understand it is important to Authentic Alex Gordon Jersey our fans to win it against United but the target is the next game at Everton. After that, if we play http://www.officialauthenticbroncos.com/YOUTH+JAKE+BUTT+JERSEY like today, sooner or later we will be champions.”
Guardiola was full of praise for Silva, who made it sound as though stepping on to the pitch is a form of escape for him at the moment when it comes to his personal life. “When I play football I forget about everything else,” he said. “My private life is very hard for me but my son is fighting and getting better.”
Silva’s opening goal, with only 10 minutes gone, was beautifully constructed and showed Guardiola’s team at their elegant best. Sterling played a pass infield to Fernandinho that the winger got back via a terrific reverse ball from Jesus. With space to run into on the right flank, Sterling scampered forward and delivered a cross that was so perfectly weighted that Silva, arriving into the penalty area Terence Newman Youth jersey between Kurt Zouma and Moritz Bauer, did not have to break his stride. Expertly opening up his body and letting the ball run across him, the midfielder coolly dispatched a left-foot shot beyond Jack Butland.
Stoke were pinned in for long periods, yet they could easily have equalised in the 21st minute when Badou Ndiaye, running on to Xherdan Shaqiri’s cut-back, swept a low shot that took a slight deflection off Fernandinho to take the ball the wrong side of the post. wholesale nfl jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys cheap jerseys free shipping wholesale jerseys wholesale jerseys from china cheap jerseys from china wholesale nfl jerseys
It was the game between the games that matter for Arsenal and for long spells there was a stuffed Sunday lunch feeling to it all. But it turned into something palatable for Arsène Wenger – a comfortable Emirates Stadium win decorated by second? half flickers from the January signings Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre?Emerick Aubameyang.

Mkhitaryan played in Aubameyang to make it 2-0 and, after Petr Cech had saved a penalty from the pantomime villain, Troy Deeney, Aubameyang teed up Mkhitaryan to Jalin Marshall Authentic Jersey finish for 3-0.
Arsenal’s focus has shifted from the Premier League to the Europa League, which has come to represent their only route into the Champions League next season and they are back here on Thursday night for the second leg of the last-16 tie against Milan in which they are 2-0 up from the first leg.
Wenger’s team selection had reflected his changing priorities. He http://www.shopjaguarsnfljerseys.com/Tj-Yeldon-Jersey rested Laurent Koscielny, who he said had a slight calf problem, and Aaron Ramsey, while Jack Wilshere and Calum Chambers were used as second?half substitutes. The latter replaced Shkodran Mustafi – the scorer of the opening goal – who limped off with a groin problem, which will be assessed on Monday.
The game had been framed, to some extent, by Deeney’s headline-grabbing comment from last October, when he questioned the cojones of the Arsenal players after Watford’s victory against them at Vicarage Road. He was the one that failed to measure up on this occasion. Deeney put his head down and blasted the penalty only for Cech to stick out a hand and beat the ball http://www.canucksofficialauthenticshop.com/Igor_Larionov_Jersey_Adidas away. Schadenfreude barely covered it.
It helped Cech to his 200th Premier League clean sheet – a milestone he has waited some time to bring up. The 199th had come in the 1-0 home win over Newcastle United on 16 December. It had been the longest run of his career – 11 games – without a clean sheet. The 35-year-old was at fault for both concessions in the 2-1 defeat at Brighton last Sunday, which had followed Arsenal’s defeats against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final and the league.
“It’s quite fortunate the penalty save was against Deeney,” Wenger said with a smile, before he considered whether Deeney’s comments had served to motivate his players. “All these things come in always a little bit. How much I don’t know but, of course, it plays a part. Cech’s situation shows Bobby Orr Authentic Jersey how football is. In one week he went from hell to heaven.”
It is debatable whether the Arsenal support have ascended to such a peak after this win and the Emirates was once again pockmarked by empty seats – a sign of the dissatisfaction at the club’s direction under Wenger. The manager said that the stay-aways were “understandable” after the “nightmare week” they had endured with the City defeats and the one against Brighton and he was unsurprisingly keen to dismiss it as a blip.
“We have some work to do but overall we are in a good http://www.officialfootballtitansprostore.com/Nate-Palmer-Jersey way,” Wenger said. “This gets us out a little bit of that negative spiral we were in. There’s a lot of negativity. It’s like the rain in England – it’s easy to get. I focus on my job. I’ve shown in 22 years I can do that.”
Mustafi gave Arsenal an early lead when he eased into a seam between Adrian Mariappa and José Holebas to head home Mesut Özil’s free-kick, while Watford were indebted Phil Simms Jersey to Orestis Karnezis for first-half one-on-one saves from Aubameyang and Özil. Aubameyang also stretched for a Sead Kolasinac cross but could not quite get there. cheap jerseys from china cheap nfl jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys cheap jerseys cheap jerseys china wholesale nfl jerseys
Mauricio Pochettino says Juventus are “specialists” in football’s dark arts as he described how they put pressure on the referee at half-time in Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 second leg at Wembley.

The Tottenham Hotspur manager, who watched his team lose 2-1 for a 4-3 aggregate exit, said he saw Giuseppe Marotta in the tunnel during the interval and that the Juventus chief executive had complained to the Polish official, Szymon Marciniak.
Marotta and the rest of the Juventus party were incensed at Marciniak’s decision to ignore a stonewall penalty for Douglas Costa in the 17th minute, following a challenge from Jan Vertonghen. It is understood there were angry scenes and Marotta was not the only Juventus executive to confront Marciniak. Pochettino’s assistant, Jesús Pérez, described how Marotta had left “three minutes before Authentic Leonard Floyd Jersey half-time” to put himself in the way of the players, staff and officials. Before the teams emerged for the second half TV footage showed that four Juventus players continued the protest to Marciniak.
Pochettino, who mentioned that http://www.panthersfootballprostore.com/chris-scott-jersey-for-sale-c-29.html he saw the Juventus owner, Andrea Agnelli, in the tunnel, said it was “two games against this type of club – one on Andre Burakovsky Jersey the pitch; one outside it”. He felt his team had more than held their own in footballing terms but they were second best on the other side. Pochettino did not criticise Juventus for their efforts to gain an edge; rather, he said they had given Tottenham “a massive lesson in how to behave”.
“We saw how the sporting director [meaning Marotta] put pressure on the referee at half-time,” Pochettino said. “He was in the corridor. They were complaining about the penalty. Maybe we need to learn how we put pressure on the referee. In this type of game every http://www.officialbrewersprostore.com/Wily_Peralta_Jersey minimal detail can help you to win.”
Pochettino was asked whether the Juventus defender, Andrea Barzagli, should have been sent off for stamping on Heung-min Son in the 33rd minute. “We complained,” Pochettino said. “We put pressure on the referee but it was easy for the referee to manage us because we were very nice people, trying to help to play a game. In this situation, with experience, you have more possibilities to achieve all that you want. That is another game. It’s not only the game playing football.”
Pochettino felt that the second half – which his team had started 1-0 up – featured “many fouls that weren’t fouls”. He said Juventus had increased the tempo by starting “the game with the ball moving, players inside the box on goal-kicks – in the Premier League, this doesn’t happen.”
He added: “Juventus are specialists because they have the habit to win and the habit to put pressure on the referee. It’s a club with a culture to try to do everything to help the team. It’s the small details and I believe those details can help us to achieve what we want.” cheap nfl jerseys cheap jerseys wholesale jerseys wholesale jerseys
First impressions tend to linger. For example, I’ve always liked Paul http://www.officialflamesauthentic.com/Oliver_Kylington_Jersey Merson as a pundit despite the fact he might not be the most knowledgable or the most coherent and may sometimes http://www.anaheimducksofficialonline.com/Adidas-John-Gibson-Jersey appear not to have realised he’s on television at all, to have just found himself talking for a really long time with smartly dressed people about Arsène Wenger while, for reasons that escape him, sitting in a brightly lit room behind a cardboard desk.

The moment I first realised I was going along with pretty much whatever Merse said was the aftermath of Michael Owen’s goal against Argentina at France 98. Never mind the finish or the way the pre-injury Owen is able to move his feet at a strange, scurrying triple-speed, operating within his own distinct bubble of time and space.
The best bit of that goal is the way the TV feed cuts to the touchline just as Owen runs off to celebrate, capturing Merson out on the pitch jumping up and down, turning to the rest of the England bench with a huge gaping grin on his face yelling: “What a farkin’ goal!”
The other subs are all out there looking generically pleased. Further along Glenn Hoddle is already doing the classic temple-tapping think-about-it gesture. Only Merse looks completely lost in the moment, utterly consumed by the spectacle of a goal that arguably gave him greater joy than it did Owen himself.
As a pundit Merson’s range of response is essentially the same, variations on this scale, with the same ability to identify and communicate a basic joy in his sport. He was right too. For all the Kenny Wiggins Jersey white noise about dashed hopes and geopolitical rivalries, all that really remains now of that painstakingly constructed moment is the thrill, the indivisible truth of what a farkin’ goal.
The reason for going on about this at such length here is my own slightly unusual experience over the last six days spent watching six of the top 12 richest football clubs in the world, and by extension ever, play in the flesh.
In a frustrating twist it turns out I don’t have anything profound, or indeed particularly interesting to share about this experience, as regular readers will no doubt already be aware. But one thing has stood out from City and Chelsea, PSG and Real to the gripping end notes of Spurs and Juventus on Wednesday night.
Everybody knows there is a loss of scale around these institutions now. Our super-clubs have become features of the corporate landscape, no longer human-shaped, hard to grasp in outline. At this level of football even the word “player” can seem like a hangover from some more frivolous age. Probably it should be replaced now with something more apt, like human sport unit or elite level ball-tactic cog.
And yet whatever we throw at it, no matter how we blind it with greed or dilute its competitive edges, football retains its power, remains an utterly addictive, engaging, consoling source of human interest. Again this comes back to that basic pleasure principle.
The game does work best, indeed only really works at all, Authentic Melker Karlsson Jersey when we get a sense of play and of joy. Not that this is news in itself. We know this about the best footballers, just as again the really striking thing about Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo on Tuesday night was the sense of pleasure.

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After all the weeks of swimming against the tide, the games when their heads dipped, their bodies felt heavier, Arsenal grasped hold of their Europa League lifebelt and gave themselves a chance of saving their season.

If the latter Wenger years have seen Womens Tre Madden Jersey Arsenal drift from challenging Womens Jersey for the league, their reinvention as a cup team and ability to conjure one-off performances of the calibre that make http://www.brownsauthenticofficialstore.com/authentic-joe-thomas-jersey.html you wonder why they cannot do this more often, remains intact. They came to Milan and played like a team determined not to take any more punishment. They reminded their critics – and perhaps even themselves – that on their day they can produce a meaningful win.
What a tonic for the pressurised Arsène Wenger, whose capacity to believe his team can dig Authentic Ryan Anderson Jersey their way out of any hole is boundless. The strain had been obvious around the Arsenal squad as they travelled to Milan weighed down by crumpled form and cracked confidence. Somehow the colour returned, happiness began to course through the team and rhythm clicked back. Wenger had urged his team to remember how good they were and his players had the courage to show that – instantly the passes became slicker, the tackles more http://www.panthersshopnfl.com/Authentic-Kelvin-Benjamin-Jersey resilient, the finishes more precise.
In an extraordinary first half the story tilted from negative spiral to positive spin, as Arsenal took a commanding two-goal lead thanks to Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey (both brilliantly assisted by Mesut Özil).
Milan’s revival under Gennaro Gattuso has lifted the mood at San Siro enough to inspire a wave of fresh optimism in these parts. A near full stadium crackled with energy. But having surfed a wave of optimism inspired by a 12-game unbeaten run, they looked shellshocked as Arsenal’s character returned. Maybe this kind of opponent was not what they anticipated, as Wenger’s men summoned a performance of commitment and attacking intent.
Milan did start with a flash of vigour, threatening the Arsenal goal twice in the opening couple of minutes. Perhaps the whole affair would have taken a different turn had one of those opportunities been taken. Patrick Cutrone ambled into abundant space on the left but dragged his shot wide. Milan seemed to be targeting Calum Chambers, the stand-in right back playing in place of the injured Héctor Bellerín, and moments later Hakan Calhanoglu burst through, engaging David Ospina in a foot race. There seemed to be some contact but Ospina was fortunate Calhanoglu stayed on his feet and ran the ball out of play. Referee Clément Turpin waved the game on.
Once Arsenal settled, they burst into the positive flow that had drained away during the recent sequence of losses. Wenger asked his beleaguered team to go back to basics, to be pragmatic, to concentrate on their jobs and dig deep. Arsenal responded by knitting neat moves together to provide a platform. The combinations between Özil, Mkhitaryan and the excellent Jack Wilshere were instrumental.
A quarter of an hour into this open, attack-minded tussle, Arsenal conjured the breakthrough. Ever since they signed Mkhitaryan there have been questions about how feasible it was to play with two luxury playmakers. He and Özil linked up delightfully to provide a meaningful answer here. Özil’s chipped pass was executed perfectly, inviting Mkhitaryan to cut back and let fly. The ball ricocheted off Leonardo Bonucci and over Gianluigi Donnarumma. Milan’s sequence of six clean sheets was over and Arsenal’s celebrations were heartfelt.

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