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Arsenal Move To Fourth On EPL Table After Beating West Ham



Arsenal’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Martinelli (C) celebrates with teammates and substitutes after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football

Arsenal moved to fourth on the Premier League table after defeating West Ham United on Wednesday.

Brazilian forward, Gabriel Martinelli and Emily Smith-Rowe scored a goal each for the Gunners at the Emirates Stadium to hand Arteta’s men a second consecutive win after a run of two league defeats to Manchester United and Everton.

Alexandre Lacazzate, who was the captain for the day, had a chance to seal the game for the North London side but his penalty – awarded after a red card to Vladimir Coufal – was saved by a former Arsenal goalkeeper, Lukasz Fabianski.

However, Smith Rowe made it two in the 87th minute to hand Arsenal a comfortable home win.

Arsenal are now one point above fifth-placed West Ham after a second successive victory eased the drama surrounding Mikel Arteta’s decision to strip Gabon forward Aubameyang of the club captaincy.

Arteta’s side are in the top four at this stage of a season for the first time in two-and-a-half years.

It is a remarkable reversal of fortune after Arsenal lost their opening three league games for the first time in 67 years.

Calls for Arteta to be sacked were widespread after an embarrassing 5-0 thrashing at Manchester City in August, but the Spaniard has steadied the ship impressively.

Aubameyang was absent from the squad after being removed from the captaincy due to a disciplinary breach on Tuesday.

He returned late and missed training last week after travelling to France to see his ill mother.

It was not Aubameyang’s first transgression, having previously been dropped for the north London derby against Tottenham in March after what was described as a breach of the club’s pre-match protocol.

Aubameyang has also performed poorly since signing a lucrative new contract in September 2020.

Martinelli broke West Ham’s resistence in the 48th minute when the Brazilian ran onto Alexandre Lacazette’s defence-splitting pass and stroked a fine finish into the far corner for his second goal this term.

West Ham were reduced to 10 men in the 66th minute after Coufal’s tackle on stand-in skipper Lacazette conceded a penalty and earned the defender a second yellow card.

Lukasz Fabianski plunged to his left to save Lacazette’s spot-kick, but Smith Rowe capped Arsenal’s dominant display when he finished a flowing move with a clinical strike from the edge of the area in the 87th minute.

 Covid Chaos

While Arsenal were hit by the coronavirus before their opening game of the season at Brentford, they have so far avoided the recent positive test plunging the league into turmoil.

Watford’s match at Burnley was postponed less than three hours before kick-off on Wednesday after “an ongoing Covid outbreak” left the Hornets with insufficent players to fulfil the fixture.

It was the third Premier League game to be postponed due to Covid in four days as the new Omicron variant causes havoc in England’s top-flight.

Tottenham’s trip to Brighton last Sunday was called off due to an outbreak at the north London club, while Manchester United’s match at Brentford on Tuesday was cancelled after the Old Trafford club’s positive tests.

United, Tottenham, Brighton, Leicester, Norwich and Aston Villa had already been hit by the virus over the last week.

The Premier League announced a record 42 positive tests across two testing cycles last week.

Top-flight chiefs have responded to the growing number of positive cases by introducing strict virus protocols, including players and staff taking a lateral flow test every time they enter their club’s training ground.

Also on Wednesday, Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said the Premier League had rejected an appeal from both clubs to postpone their match against Tottenham on Thursday.

Leicester are currently without nine players because of Covid-related issues and injuries.

Brighton boss Graham Potter had dealt with several Covid cases in his squad this week and his problems mounted as Wolves won 1-0 at the Amex Stadium.

Potter’s side are without a win in 12 games in all competitions after Romain Saiss volleyed home in first half stoppage-time.

Jordan Ayew ended his 47-game goal drought to give Crystal Palace a 2-2 draw against Southampton at Selhurst Park.

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Sports Blast

Golden Eaglets Out Of U17 AFCON, Fail To Qualify For World Cup



Golden Eaglets

Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets crashed out of the under 17 AFCON 2023 after falling 2-1 to fellow West Africans Burkina Faso in the quarter-finals in Algiers.

The result meant the Golden Eaglets won’t feature in the under 17 World Cup that would take place later this year, with Burkina Faso completing the quartet of teams to represent Africa in the tournament.

The other teams are Senegal, Mali and Morocco.

The Nigerians have their poor finishing skills and defensive blunders to blame for the result.

The Junior Stallions went into a 2-0 lead over the five-time world champions courtesy of Aboubacar Camara.

He first found the back of the net from a rebound just before half time before completing his brace on 57 minutes from the penalty spot after a goal-bound Burkinabe player was fouled inside the box.

Abubakar Abdullahi, however, pulled one back for Nigeria midway through the second half with a simple tap in giving the Eaglets a hope of comeback.

But it was not to be as the young Nigerians failed to convert any chance in front of goal to pull level.






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Sports Blast

2025 AFCON: Nigeria-Benin, Four Other Nations Bid To Host  



AFCON Trophy
AFCON Trophy

Algeria, Morocco, South Africa, Zambia, and Benin-Nigeria want to replace Guinea as hosts of the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations, CAF president Patrice Motsepe confirmed on Saturday.

Guinea, chosen in 2014 to stage the premier African national team tournament, withdrew last year after little progress had been made in preparing for the biennial event.

CAF officials will do inspection tours of all the candidates this month with the winners to be announced on February 10 this year.

South African billionaire businessman Motsepe said the successful country or countries would offer the best “transport, logistics, hotels and beautiful stadiums”.

“Each region will have a chance to organise a CAN (Cup of Nations). We cannot assign the organisation of the CAN successively to the same region.”

Benin and Nigeria are in west Africa, as are the Ivory Coast, who will host the 2023 Cup of Nations.

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Sports Blast

AFRDC 2023: Irabor tees off golf tournament in Abuja




The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor on Friday in Abuja, teed off golf kitty tournament to mark the 2023 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration.

Irabor, represented by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, said the tournament was organised in partnership with the Nigeria Golf Federation (NGF) to celebrate the retired and fallen heroes.

He said the event was significant in remembering the nation’s fallen heroes who had paid the supreme price for defending Nigeria and those still alive who gave their best in service to the nation.

He said that there were other sporting activities organised to mark the day, adding that it was the first time the armed force would partner with NGF to organise a golf tournament.

He said that apart from golf, many other sport activities were also lined up for the occasion.

Also, Otumba Olusegun Runsewe, the President of NGF and Director-General, National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC), commended the CDS for approving the partnership for the tournament.

Runsewe said there was the need to celebrate those that laid down their lives for the peace and unity of Nigeria.

He said that Nigeria had moved to the next level of golf development in line with international standard.

According to him, the International Standard is that any measure on a golf course must be branded.

“So, I’m happy to show you that if you go on the course now every measure has this international standard.

“We have 250 Pro golfers from professionals, amateurs, women among others, and it is an 18 hole golf course.

“I want to assure you that with this partnership, we are going to open more windows in Nigeria,” he said.

Similarly, the Director, Defence Information, Maj.-Gen. Jimmy Akpor, said the tournament was organised to honour the fallen heroes who had paid the supreme price to keep Nigeria together.

Akpor said that there were living veterans as well as those who bore the scars of war and operations and the handicapped.

He said that the sporting activities were about building consciousness of the military and supporting them to continue to be the pride of the nation.

“So, while we are here doing this golf kitty, we also have those who are injured who are also playing a game at the National Stadium as we speak.

“They are playing the Citizen sitting volleyball and Wheelchair basketball,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)reports that the injured and soldiers living with disability known as Invictus team played citizens sitting volleyball match with the FCT team at the indoor arena of the National Stadium.






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