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Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Football Briefs: Wenger urges Arsenal to get morale-boosting Europa League win

Football Briefs: Wenger urges Arsenal to get morale-boosting Europa League win

March 08, 2018 13:36 IST

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IMAGE: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger reacts. Photograph: Paul Gilham/Getty Images.

Arsenal players have lost their self-confidence after the club's recent slump and their Europa League last-16 tie against AC Milan on Thursday provides an opportunity for the team to get a much-needed morale boost, manager Arsene Wenger has said.


The team have lost six of their last eight games across all competitions, including last month's League Cup final, and are on a three-match winless streak in the Premier League, leaving them 13 points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur.

The Europa League is Arsenal's only chance to win a trophy this season and with a top-four league finish looking unlikely, it could also be the club's only route to the Champions League next season.

"These players want to win, but in life you forget quickly how good you are," Wenger told reporters. "When we have a bad week players change their mind about their qualities.

"We have not to forget we have good players. We are a bit affected by what happened.

"This is an opportunity we have to take. There is increased pressure on this competition even more. It's certainly difficult when we go through a patch like this."

Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny echoed his manager's sentiments.

"When you have bad results, it's always bad for the team," Koscielny said. "We are disappointed with how we have played.

"We are in a negative spiral and it's difficult to go out of this. We have to be positive to have a good result and step by step we will come back stronger."

I don't feel pressure - Evergrande's Cannavaro

Fabio Cannavaro has dismissed suggestions he is under pressure after a mixed start to his return as head coach at Chinese Super League champions Guangzhou Evergrande.

Cannavaro replaced Luiz Felipe Scolari last November but the seven-time league champions have managed just two wins in five games since the start of the year.

Guangzhou won the Chinese Super Cup against Shanghai Shenhua last month before picking up their first win in three matches in the Asian Champions League on Tuesday with a 5-3 victory over South Korea's Jeju United.

But draws against Thailand's Buriram United and Cerezo Osaka of Japan as well as an opening 5-4 defeat in the Chinese Super League against cross-city rivals Guangzhou R&F have placed the Italian World Cup winner under scrutiny.

"I'm not saying there's no pressure at Evergrande, there's pressure at Evergrande all the time," the former defender said after his side's Asian Champions League win.

"But I am myself and, no matter if I'm playing for Real Madrid or at the World Cup, I've never felt pressure.

"Being in a football environment is where I'm most comfortable. I only feel excited and motivated when it comes to crucial, difficult, important matches."

The focus on Cannavaro's record is amplified by the fact he is starting his second stint at China's most successful club, having being sacked after six months of disappointing results in 2015.

At least 30 injured after police pepper spray fans - reports

At least 30 Brazilian soccer fans were injured at a local derby between Sport and Santa Cruz on Wednesday after supporters seeking to avoid a terracing confrontation were pepper sprayed by police, local media reported.

TV Globo showed dozens of fans being treated by medical personnel on the grass surrounding the pitch. There were no reported fatalities, but local media websites said between 30-60 people had been injured.

The incident occurred after Santa Cruz supporters ran down the terracing to avoid a clash between an officer pursuing a fan who lit a flare.

The Pernambuco state championship match, which was not halted while the fans were being treated, ended 1-1.

Arnold to return as Australia coach after World Cup

Graham Arnold will succeed Dutchman Bert van Marwijk as Australia coach after the World Cup in Russia and look to guide the Socceroos to a fifth successive appearance at the 2022 global showpiece in Qatar.

A stalwart of Australian soccer, the Sydney FC coach returns for a second stint in the top job, having led the national team for a year after Guus Hiddink stepped down following the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Van Marwijk will hold the reins in Russia as part of a short-term deal struck in the wake of Ange Postecoglou's shock resignation in November after securing the team's qualification via an intercontinental playoff.

The Dutchman brings plenty of international experience to the job but Australia's soccer federation made little secret of their desire for another home-grown coach, like Postecoglou, to take the Socceroos through the next World Cup cycle.

Graham's first major assignment will be to plot the side's defence of its Asian Cup title in the United Arab Emirates next January.

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