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Arsenal Defeat Manchester United To Maintain EPL Lead

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Arsenal made a huge statement of their Premier League intent yesterday, coming from behind to beat in-form Manchester United 3-2 in front of a raucous Emirates crowd.

United forward Marcus Rashford silenced the home fans with the opening goal but an equaliser from Eddie Nketiah and a wonderful second-half strike from Bukayo Saka turned the match on its head.

 

But the visitors, dangerous on the break throughout the match, levelled the pulsating encounter when Argentine defender Lisandro Martinez headed in after Arsenal failed to clear a corner.

The Gunners poured forward in search of a winner and eventually got the goal they deserved when Nketiah turned the ball home in the 90th minute.

 

Earlier, defending champions Manchester City had closed the gap to just two points with their 3-0 win against Wolves, courtesy of Erling Haaland’s fourth hat-trick of the season.

Scott McTominay replaced Brazilian midfielder Casemiro, who was ineligible after picking up a fifth booking of the season in United’s midweek draw with Crystal Palace, with loan signing Wout Weghorst again leading the line.

 

New Arsenal arrival Leandro Trossard, who joined late last week from Brighton, had to settle for a place on the bench as Mikel Arteta named an unchanged team.

There is growing sense of belief at the Emirates that the Gunners can at last end their long wait for the Premier League title, which they have not won since 2004.

 

Arsenal flew out of the blocks, with Thomas Partey flashing just wide as they surged forward.

But it was United who broke the deadlock in the 17th minute in stunning style, when Bruno Fernandes found Rashford, who skipped past Partey with ease and powered a low drive into the corner of the net from 25 yards.

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French Footballer Gets 30-Year-Ban For Punching Referee

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An amateur footballer in France, described as a “fanatic”, was on Friday banned from playing for 30 years for punching a referee.

 

“The penalty is appropriate. These fanatics must not be able to set foot on a football pitch again. They have no place there,” said Benoit Laine, president of the Loiret football district in central France.

 

The 25-year-old player, who was not named by officials, was angry at being sent off while featuring for Entente Sportive Gatinaise in a local cup game on January 8.

He punched the referee so hard that the official was signed off work for two days.

 

The team was also kicked out of the tournament for the next two seasons.

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Manchester United Plot Summer Move For Napoli Striker, Victor Osimhen

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According to a report by Italian media, Il Mattino, Manchester United are reportedly lining up a bumper offer for Super Eagles and Napoli striker star Victor Osimhen in the summer.

 

United recently added Wout Weghorst on loan and signing a striker in the summer transfer window will be a matter of urgency for the Red Devils as Dutch tactician Erik ten Hag will want to add a prolific forward to boost his squad.

 

Ten Hag has identified Osimhen as a target and will want to bring the Nigeria international to the Premier League next season.

 

“Manchester United are already lining up to sign Victor Osimhen, with many intermediaries already at work to bring him to the Premier League after this season,” Il Mattino reports.

 

The report states that the former Lille star is worth at least €150m.

United will be joined by Newcastle United and Arsenal in the race to acquire his signature.

 

But the 24-year-old Nigeria international has said he is focused on helping Napoli win the title and has asked his entourage to postpone any talks regarding his future until June.

Osimhen’s contract runs until 2025, with a salary of €4.3m per year. It will be difficult for Napoli to keep him by offering a new deal, also because Aurelio De Laurentiis doesn’t intend to offer bigger wages.

 

The Nigerian has played a key role for Luciano Spalletti’s side this season, scoring 12 goals and providing four assists in 14 Serie A appearances this season.

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Messi Leads PSG To Victory After World Cup Return

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Lionel Messi scored in Paris Saint-Germain’s 2-0 win over Angers in Ligue 1 on Wednesday on his first appearance since leading Argentina to victory in the World Cup in Qatar.

Messi had been rested for PSG’s first three matches following the long break in the season caused by the World Cup but he returned to training in Paris a week ago and was back in the starting line-up for this game against Ligue 1’s bottom side.

 

The win, which came three and a half weeks after he captained Argentina to their World Cup final triumph on penalties against France in Qatar, saw PSG move six points clear at the top of the French table.

 

Neymar also started, having missed his team’s last two matches due to suspension and to undergo treatment on the ankle injury he suffered playing for Brazil at the World Cup.

 

Meanwhile Kylian Mbappe was rested for a second straight game having been afforded time off for a holiday in New York in the wake of his own World Cup campaign, which saw him score a hat-trick in the final but come out on the losing side.

 

Mbappe and Messi are expected to be reunited this weekend in Sunday’s match away to Rennes.

 

In the meantime the absence of the France star meant young striker Hugo Ekitike again started in the home attack at the Parc des Princes and he opened the scoring in the fifth minute from a Nordi Mukiele cross at the end of a move in which Messi also featured.

PSG were not at their sparkling best but Messi swept in his 13th club goal of the season to make it 2-0 with 17 minutes left.

 

Ekitike and Mukiele were again involved before Messi applied the finish. The goal was initially disallowed for offside but a VAR check allowed it to stand.

 

“Messi has recovered well. He is relaxed and in great shape physically, and with Leo the team looks different,” said coach Christophe Galtier.

 

Speaking to broadcaster Canal Plus, Galtier, who said he had come down with a fever during the game, added: “We are coming back off the World Cup so it is difficult for the players to find their reference points again.”

 

“We are all just getting used to playing together again and you could see at times that we lacked some of the connections between the players that we had more often before the World Cup.”

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