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Football Extras: 'Manchester City is the best team in Europe'

Last updated on: February 08, 2019 22:54 IST
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IMAGE: Manchester City have now returned to the top of the English Premier League, ahead of Liverpool on goal difference. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri believes Manchester City remain the team to beat in Europe ahead of their English Premier League trip to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Sarri's Chelsea were the first side to defeat City in the league this season when they claimed a 2-0 win over the champions at Stamford Bridge in December.

City suffered two more losses over Christmas but have now returned to the top of the league table, ahead of Liverpool on goal difference.

 

"At the moment, in my opinion, Manchester City is the best team in Europe," Sarri told reporters on Friday.

"(Pep) Guardiola is in the third season in the Premier League. We have to try to reduce the gap."

City coach Guardiola counted fourth-placed Chelsea among the title contenders this week but Sarri dismissed his team's chances by calling it a two-horse race.

"At the moment, I don't think (we can win the title)," said Sarri. "We will be able to fight for the top four in this season. No more, I think.

"We can win something, of course, but in the Premier League there is a fight between Liverpool and Manchester City."

Sarri was pleased with January signing Gonzalo Higuain's instant impact at Stamford Bridge, scoring two goals in a 5-0 thrashing of Huddersfield Town last weekend.

The Italian coach expects the Argentina striker to build an on-pitch relationship with playmaker Eden Hazard, whose future at Chelsea remains uncertain amid interest from Real Madrid.

"I think Gonzalo is a great player," Sarri added. "He did very well everywhere. In Madrid, in Naples, in Milan. Maybe not very well in Milan, but he's a great player and I think he's very useful for Eden.

"They are really very suitable to play together, I think. It's very important for us he is determined. I think the impact with other players will really be very good for us."

Liverpool post record annual profit

IMAGE: Liverpool's turnover increased by 90 million pounds to 455 million pounds, with all three revenue streams - media, commercial and matchday - showing improvement. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Liverpool announced record pre-tax profits on Friday of 125 million pounds ($162 million) over the last financial year after reaching the Champions League final and the sale of Brazil playmaker Philippe Coutinho.

The club's annual accounts for the financial year to May 31, 2018 showed pre-tax profits grew by more than 300 percent from 40 million pounds, eclipsing the 92.5 million pounds made by Leicester City in 2016-17.

Champions League qualification, progress to the final where they lost to Real Madrid and the 142 million-pound sale of Coutinho to Barcelona in January, 2018 were instrumental in the record profit.

The Merseyside club's turnover increased by 90 million pounds to 455 million pounds, with all three revenue streams - media, commercial and matchday - showing improvement.

"What we have seen is a stable and sustained improvement in the club's financial position over recent years," Liverpool's chief operating officer Andy Hughes said in a statement.

"This growth and increase in revenue has enabled us to significantly reinvest both in the playing squad and the football operational infrastructure."

The club said they have reinvested 190 million pounds into Juergen Klopp's squad as they chase a first top division title in 29 years this season.

Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson, Dominic Solanke and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joined Liverpool during the reporting period, and the investments continued with the arrivals of Naby Keita, Fabinho, Alisson Becker and Xherdan Shaqiri in the close season transfer window.

Liverpool also climbed two places to seventh in last month's Deloitte Football Money League.

Solskjaer, Rashford scoop January awards

IMAGE: Barclays Manager of the month Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, left, with EA Sports Player of the Month Marcus Rashford. Photograph: Jan Kruger/Getty Images for Premier League

Manchester United caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was named Premier League manager of the month after an unbeaten start to his reign at Old Trafford and striker Marcus Rashford clinched the player of the month award for January.

Solskjaer, who replaced Jose Mourinho in December, became the first United manager to receive the award since long-time Alex Ferguson in October, 2012 during the season when the club last won the league title.

United claimed 10 points from a possible 12 in January, with victories over Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and Brighton and Hove Albion, and a comeback home draw with Burnley.

"We want to move up the table and this is the start of it," said Solskjaer, who has closed the gap between United and the top four teams to two points.

"You cannot be a good leader or a manager without good players... so ultimately it's how they respond to what we tell them and they've been fantastic, so all credit to them."

The 21-year-old Rashford, who scored three goals in four league matches last month, was the first United player to claim the monthly prize since Zlatan Ibrahimovic in December, 2016.

United visit 19th-placed Fulham on Saturday.

Evidence presented on racist abuse of Mo Salah

A video emerged on social media in which audible racial slurs were directed at the 26-year-old Mohamed Salah as he was taking a corner during the Premier League match against West Ham this week

IMAGE: A video emerged on social media in which audible racial slurs were directed at the 26-year-old Mohamed Salah as he was taking a corner during the Premier League match against West Ham earlier this week. Photograph: Clive Rose/Getty Images

West Ham United have handed evidence to the police after completing an investigation into racist abuse shouted at Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah during their Premier League match at the London Stadium on Monday.

A video emerged on social media in which audible racial slurs were directed at the 26-year-old Egypt international as he was taking a corner. The match finished in a 1-1 draw.

The user who posted the video on Twitter said: "I went to watch West Ham vs Liverpool and I was disgusted by what I was hearing. People like this deserve no place in our society let alone football matches."

The Metropolitan Police had told Reuters in an email that officers were in the process of reviewing the footage and West Ham said in a statement on Thursday that they had given all of their evidence to the police.

"After a thorough and immediate investigation following the abhorrent racist abuse aimed at Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah on Monday night, West Ham United can confirm that it has handed evidence to the Metropolitan Police," the statement said.

"The Club is unequivocal in its stance -- such abuse will not be tolerated. There is no place or excuse for this kind of behaviour."

Salah was last year named PFA Player of the Year and the Football Writers' Association's Footballer of the Year after he scored 44 goals for Liverpool in all competitions last season.

Brighton's Andone charged with violent conduct

Brighton and Hove Albion forward Florin Andone was charged with violent conduct by the English Football Association (FA) on Thursday following their FA Cup clash against West Bromwich Albion.

Andone, who scored the equaliser in Brighton's 3-1 extra time win in the fourth round replay on Wednesday, appeared to elbow West Brom midfielder Sam Field in the first half, an incident missed by referee Paul Tierney.

"Brighton's Florin Andone has been charged with violent conduct. It follows an incident in the 27th minute of Wednesday's game against West Brom in the Emirates FA Cup which was not seen by the match officials but caught on camera," the FA said.

Andone has until 1800 GMT on Friday to respond to the charge.

Palace's Zaha handed one-match ban for improper conduct

Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha was given a one-match suspension and fined 10,000 pounds ($12,965) for his behaviour after being sent off against Southampton last week, the English Football Association (FA) said on Thursday.

Zaha, who had given Palace the lead at St Mary's, was dismissed for sarcastically applauding referee Andre Marriner in the 87th minute of the 1-1 Premier League draw, moments after being cautioned for tangling with James Ward-Prowse.

The 26-year-old continued to applaud the referee after his dismissal and reluctantly left the pitch.

Zaha accepted the charge at an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing on Wednesday.

After serving a one-match ban during Saturday's 2-0 win over Fulham for the red card, Zaha now faces a second game on the sidelines.

"The suspension is not currently effective whilst the player considers his right of appeal," the FA said in a statement.

Palace host West Ham United in the league on Saturday.

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