The 2020/21 UEFA Champions League group stage draw has been made in Geneva, with the pick of the matches including Bayern vs Atlético Madrid, Paris vs Manchester United and a Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi encounter between Juventus and Barcelona.
2020/21 UEFA Champions League Group Stage
Group A: Bayern, Atlético Madrid, Salzburg, Lokomotiv Moskva. Group B: Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Internazionale, Mönchengladbach. Group C: Porto, Manchester City, Olympiacos, Marseille. Group D: Liverpool, Ajax, Atalanta, Midtjylland. Group E: Sevilla, Chelsea, Krasnodar, Rennes. Group F: Zenit, Dortmund, Lazio, Club Brugge. Group G: Juventus, Barcelona, Dynamo Kyiv, Ferencváros. Group H: Paris, Manchester United, Leipzig, İstanbul Başakşehir.
Road to Istanbul
Group stage Matchday 1: 20/21 October Matchday 2: 27/28 October Matchday 3: 03/04 November Matchday 4: 24/25 November Matchday 5: 01/02 December Matchday 6: 08/09 December
Round of 16 Draw: 14 December First legs: 16/17 & 23/24 February Second legs: 9/10 & 16/17 March
Quarter-finals Draw: 19 March First legs: 6/7 April Second legs: 13/14 April
Semi-finals Draw: 19 March First legs: 27/28 April Second legs: 4/5 May
Final Atatürk Olimpiyat Stadı, Istanbul: 29th May, 2021.
Daily Watch Press has gathered from reports making the rounds that Mikel Arteta led Arsenal have submitted a new offer for Lyon’s playmaker Houssem Aouar and the deal is close to matching the player’s asking price.
The gunners are in the market for a modern day central attacking midfielder as Mesut Ozil doesn’t seem to feature in the managers plans for the future.
Houssem has also been on the radar of Juventus and Manchester city although none of the clubs decided to pursue their interests in the player further.
Lyon had earlier on rebuffed a player plus cash offer from arsenal for the France international and were holding for only an outright cash deal.
Arsenal are now said to have submitted a new bid for the player who is rumoured to be interested on the move to north London this summer.
The new bid is alleged to be very close to matching the demands set by the Michel Aulas owned club and a response from the Ligue 1 side is imminent for the deal to go through.
Goalkeeper Alex Runarsson has joined us on a four-year contract from French club Dijon.
The 25-year-old Iceland international (full name Runar Alex Runarsson) joined the Ligue 1 club in July 2018 and made 13 appearances for them in all competitions last season.
Alex started his career with KR Reykjavik in his home country. He went on to join FC Nordsjaelland in Denmark, where he made 62 appearances during a three-year spell, before moving to Dijon.
Technical director Edu said: “We’re very pleased to welcome Alex to our squad. We have been monitoring him for some time and from the analysis, he has strong attributes that we look for in a goalkeeper and as a person.”
Mikel Arteta added: “We want to create healthy competition for places and we look forward to seeing Alex bring further depth to the goalkeeping position.”
Alex will wear the number 13 shirt, but the transfer is still subject to the completion of regulatory processes.
The Icelandic goalkeeper grew up watching the likes of David Seaman and Jens Lehman, and now he has the chance to follow in their footsteps.
“I’m just extremely happy, extremely proud, it is a big day for me and my family. I can’t wait to get started!” he told Arsenal.com.
“It is one of the biggest clubs in the world – they’ve won the Premier League 13 times, the FA Cup 14 times, it is a huge club and obviously playing in the Premier League as well, it is a win-win situation.
“I know it is going to be a lot of hard work, but I am ready to do everything I can to get the most amount of minutes as possible.”
Runarsson worked with our goalkeeping coach, Inaki Cana, when they were both in Denmark and he says the Spaniard is a key factor in him making the move.
“Our relationship, since we got to know each other four years ago, has been very good,” he said. “We have always been in contact even though I was playing in France and he was coaching here in England.
“The fact that he is here, it is very important to me that I know somebody here and I know that he knows my qualities, and what I need to improve and what I can bring to the club. I think we will be a very good match, for the second time in my career!”
Arsenal have been making tremendous progress in the transfer market, they have so far brought in three players without losing any of their top players but all that has reportedly changed now as Aston Villa have snapped up one of their highly rated star.
The Villians have been in search of a goalkeeper and Arsenal’s Emiliano Martinez has been their top target, latest reports suggest the player is now an Aston Villa player after the deal was confirmed by –Fabrizio Romano.
The 27 year old shot stopper was absent as Arsenal began their 2020/21 campaign with a win 3:0 win against Fulham, it was later reported that he was absent because of his ongoing medical at Aston Villa, Arsenal valued the player at £20m and Aston Villa have reportedly matched the players valuation as a bid of £16m offer plus £4m in add ons.
After selling Emiliano Martinez Arsenal are looking to sell some players and make new additions to their squad.
Atletico Madrid are refusing to negotiate Thomas Partey release clause of £50m the Spanish club are determined to keep the player but they will only sell if Arsenal match the £50m release clause.
Houssem Aouar is another Arsenal target but Olympic Lyon are still turning down any swap deals Arsenal have offered but they are willing to sell for £60m.
Fabrizio Romano has also confirmed that Arsenal have extended the contract of their club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
As the 2020-21 Premier League season kicks off on Saturday, where Fulham hosted Arsenal in a 0:3 encounter for the curtain-raiser in a stadium unable to welcome fans and missing one of its four stands.
It represents great symbolism for the campaign ahead: Is anyone really ready to play football?
Half-baked transfer activity, a farce of a pre-season and an international break that interrupted vital preparation time would suggest no. Alas, we move on.
Football is a business that must continue, and as post-lockdown football in June taught us, it will only take a few matches for everyone to get back up to speed and things to feel pretty normal again. Heck, we might even get some fans in by Christmas.
All of these uncertainties make predicting the Premier League table and the winner for the campaign ahead even more impossible than usual, but have we ever shied away from a challenge? Absolutely not. So let’s give it a go!
20. West Bromwich Albion
The summer business has been solid and well thought through, but as so many promoted sides have found over the past few years, the step up in quality is serious.
It’s tough to have faith that West Brom’s collection of strikers (Charlie Austin, Kenneth Zohore and Callum Robinson) can score the goals that keep them up, while the first run of fixtures (Leicester City, Everton, Chelsea, Southampton, Burnley) is rough.
Once you get into a downward spiral in the Premier League, it’s hard to break out of.
Fulham have been promoted as a much more settled unit than in 2018, allowing them the chance at a much smoother summer of business. But like with West Brom, it feels like what they’ve done (at least so far) probably isn’t enough.
That could change in the weeks to come, but concerns over the attack’s potency and the defence’s ability to cope are fair. Captain Tom Cairney needs to shine much brighter than he did two years ago, though injuries played a part in his previous struggles in the Premier League.
18. Brighton & Hove Albion
You’re going to start sensing a theme here: When it comes to Brighton, who scores the goals?
Outside of Neal Maupay, who managed a solid 10 last season, the Seagulls badly need Leandro Trossard to step up more regularly and the talented Alexis Mac Allister to explode.
There’s a lot to like about this Brighton side under Graham Potter, but it’s hard to escape the feeling they don’t feel particularly threatening. They’re one of four clear contenders for 18th, and it’s a tough spot to call, but they’re the pick.
17. Crystal Palace
Palace have committed to freshening up their side and getting a little younger in the transfer market, which is a crucial step for them; it had felt a little like they were sleepwalking toward relegation in previous years.
Eberechi Eze will steal focus from opposing defences and keep them more honest toward Wilfried Zaha on the opposite side. That, plus Roy Hodgson’s reliable coaching in the clutch, is what probably keeps them up.
16. Aston Villa
It’s been a nervy summer for Villa as their pursuit of a striker hit dead end after dead end, but Ollie Watkins has finally signed, and he transforms their prospects in the final third.
Add his speed and potency to the fact that this group of players continue to rise to every challenge set to them—the most recent one being a remarkable eight points in four games to survive relegation in July—and it feels silly to bet against them, particularly with Jack Grealish still around.
15. West Ham
Arguably the most difficult team to place in the table, West Ham are, quite literally, anyone’s guess.
On talent levels alone, they’ll be more than fine; Lukasz Fabianski, Issa Diop, Declan Rice and Michail Antonio form a great spine, Tomas Soucek is emerging as David Moyes’ new Marouane Fellaini and they have a glut of playmakers to sprinkle on top.
The concern is just how combustible the club is. When your captain is tweeting angrily about player sales, you know things aren’t quite right—and that’s a threat that constantly hovers over the Hammers and puts them in relegation contention.
14. Newcastle United
A predicted table compiled two weeks ago would have had Newcastle in the relegation zone, no doubt. There was more than a fair share of fortune attached to quite a few of their results last season, and had the same side continued into 2020-21, it probably wouldn’t have gone well.
But the club clearly recognised this, and in recent days, they have pulled off a series of blinders in the transfer market. Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser and Jamal Lewis have followed Jeff Hendrick (the most Steve Bruce player ever), greatly strengthening the side and solving problem positions.
It’s now pretty easy to see the Magpies gliding to safety.
13. Leeds United
A newly promoted side finishing as high as 13th isn’t such a bold prediction any longer—particularly in light of Sheffield United’s top-half finish last season—but this will still take some by surprise.
Quite simply, it’s all about the manager, Marcelo Bielsa. A figure held up as the tactical inspiration for Mauricio Pochettino, Pep Guardiola and more, his high-pressing, abrasive tactics will take many by surprise and take a while to adjust to.
Add this to the fact that they have bought well—Rodrigo and Robin Koch are very good players—and a quick start (that opening game against Liverpool aside) that sees them sail to safety is coming.
12. Sheffield United
Ah, yes—the ominous second season. So many promoted sides fall foul of it, as it can be so hard to sustain momentum over a break and into another campaign.
A 12th-placed finish would be a drop of four places for the Blades on last season, but most fans would accept a stabilisation campaign. They will be less of an unknown but just as difficult to play against in midfield, just as difficult to break down and just as robust up front.
Not a single signing in sight for Burnley, which is probably cause for concern.
But Sean Dyche and his men are bomb-proof; a legion of people have predicted them to go down every season since promotion (this writer did last year), and they continually defy those suggestions.
They have a strong, robust spine, England’s best goalkeeper, an excellent prospect in Dwight McNeil and a battering-ram strike force that still bullies defences.
A 10th-placed finish would probably disappoint Everton, but the gap between where they are and where they want to be is absolutely massive—bigger, perhaps, than they realise.
Signing Allan, Abdoulaye Doucoure and James Rodriguez represents potentially transcendent business, but we’re holding back a little on the Toffees because there’s a lot to put in place before they take off. We need to see it.
If post-lockdown football is anything to go by, Southampton are a rising force that look set to hit the 2020-21 campaign running.
Their behind-closed-doors points tally (18) was bettered only by those of the two Manchester clubs as Ralph Hasenhuttl’s ideas fully set in and his team swept opponents away one by one.
A ninth-placed finish will need Danny Ings to hit top form again, Che Adams to rise up alongside him and the defence to remain as stout and reliable as it was in June and July.
8. Leicester City
We shouldn’t be talking about Leicester City here at eighth because their season prospects should be so much greater.
Their post-lockdown slump saw them slip from third to fifth, missing out on UEFA Champions League qualification as things unravelled a little. It’s hardly an unfamiliar story wherever Brendan Rodgers is involved, and the trend has been that when that happens, Rodgers has struggled to claw it back.
With a crowded schedule because of their Europa League involvement and no Ricardo Pereira (injury) or Ben Chilwell (transferred)—though Timothy Castagne is an excellent pickup—we’re a little down on the Foxes this term.
7. Tottenham Hotspur
Talentwise, Spurs are a top-five outfit, no question.
But the club are up against other issues this season that are beyond their control—namely, the ludicrous playing schedule they face because of their involvement in four competitions.
Thanks to the Europa League qualifiers and the Carabao Cup third round, they could play seven games in September, with the first coming on the 13th. The squad as it stands can’t handle that; they need three or four more through the door to cope, physically, with the demands that beckon.
Perhaps seventh is too much of an adjustment—and were it not for the schedule, Spurs would be higher—but it just seems impossible for Tottenham to play up to their full potential.
6. Wolverhampton Wanderers
While Spurs’ schedule has filled up, Wolves’ looks pretty clean. We’re tipping that as a difference-maker between the two.
Even having lost Matt Doherty to Spurs, Wolves represent one of the strongest clubs in the division, and now they’re able to focus solely on domestic matters, they should rise up the table again.
The quality of Raul Jimenez, Joao Moutinho, Ruben Neves and Adama Traore is undoubted, and the defence will be as strong and combative as ever.
Arsenal in fifth is a big call, but they’re on the up, and there’s a lot to like about what Mikel Arteta has done over the course of 2020.
Adding Willian to an already strong attacking corps gives them incredible flexibility in how they line up, while the addition of Gabriel Magalhaes goes a long way to finally shoring things up at the back.
With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang spearheading a tactically sound and intriguing side, they’re in line for a very good season.
4. Manchester United
United have been generally superb in 2020, with Bruno Fernandes representing the final piece in what became a very, very good starting XI.
But it’s clear they need more players to take a big step forward this season. As soon as one of the 11 players they came to rely on during that goal-filled run post-lockdown ducks out, the team will take a step back.
Placing them in fourth is a show of respect for how good they can be but also recognition of the fact that they need three or more new faces to be able to sustain that sort of level all campaign long.
Chelsea, they’ve been busy, haven’t they?
Six signings, five of which directly upgrade the first team, have whipped fans into a frenzy of optimism and hope. Can they mount a title challenge, or at least close the frankly cavernous gap to last season’s top two?
The former still feels impossible, but the latter is within their grasp. If they can pull to within 10 or even 15 points of Liverpool and Manchester City (they finished 33 points off the title in 2019-20), riding on the wings of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, that’s a building block toward a future challenge of their own.
The agonising wait for their first Premier League title is over; the 2019-20 campaign, however tumultuous, felt like “mission complete” for Liverpool and their jubilant fans.
It will be interesting to see what their title defence looks like given how this summer’s course has run. While the Reds have invested in just a back-up left-back, passed on Timo Werner and are threatening to do the same with Thiago Alcantara, Manchester City have purchased more aggressively and are threatening to continue, per B/R’s Dean Jones.
1. Manchester City
So, while Liverpool may be 5 per cent flatter, having achieved the ultimate, City will be the opposite. There will be a hunger to them in 2020-21 after a genuinely disappointing previous campaign; the last time Pep Guardiola endured such a season, his side bounced back with 100 points.
None of this is to discredit the Reds’ motivation or professionalism, but in such a tight race between two elite sides, 5 per cent of something either way could decide it. We’ll tip City, the wounded animal with a point to prove, to regain the title this term.
Daily Watch Press has gathered from reports that the job title of the Arsenal Head Coach, Mikel Arteta has been changed by the Arsenal FC management and here is why it has change and what it means.
“Mikel’s been here since the end of December and the last nine months have probably been the most challenging nine months in Arsenal’s history – and we’ve been around for 134 years. Despite all of those challenges, Mikel has been driving this football club forward,” chief executive Vinai Venkatesham told Arsenal Digital.
“He has lifted the spirits and lifted the energy here at London Colney and with Arsenal fans all across the world. He is doing an absolutely phenomenal job.
“The other thing that’s clear is that right from the day he walked through the door, he was doing much more than being our head coach. So we’re going to be changing his job title going forward. He’ll move from head coach to be the first-team manager. That’s recognition of what he’s been doing from the day he walked in the door, but also where we see his capabilities.
“He is doing a great job of coaching the first team and that’s his primary responsibility, but there is so much more that he can bring and that’s why we’re making this change, in recognition of his capabilities and also the job that he’s doing already.
“So in terms of how that will work, going forward Mikel will join a really strong team with Edu and they’ll be working really, really closely together to manage all the other elements of our football operations that are so important, whether that is analysis, recruitment, high performance or medical, they’ll be looking after those areas together.
“And they’ll also together be responsible for our technical recommendations, whether that’s players that we’re going to buy, whether that’s players that we’re going to sell, whether that’s players that we’re going to loan.
“Of course, working closely with me and the board and working closely with the owners on the financial elements to make final decisions. But those are going to be their responsibilities and I think we’re going to have a really dynamic team to drive this club forward.”
This is not coming as a surprise, considering the impact of Arteta on Arsenal within the shortest period he has been in charge of the club.
Arsenal football club ended last season on a very high note by winning a major trophy, and they did this by getting past fantastic teams like Manchester City and Chelsea.
They have equally started this season from where they left last season by winning the first competition of the season, the community shield by defeating the almighty Liverpool on penalties.
There’s no telling to what this very Arsenal team could achieve this season with Mikel Arteta as the coach and making the right changes and improvements on the present squad.
Arsenal is yet to make any mercurial signing in this current transfer window, and even though the transfer window deadline day is still a little far, the league will start this weekend and it will be pertinent if they can do these things below before the end of this summer transfer window.
Sign Thomas Partey
If you take a critical look at the Arsenal squad, there is no clear cut world class defensive midfielder, and yet they can challenge the the best teams. What will then happen when they sign one?
I don’t think there is a team they will not be able to beat. Rumours of Arsenal trying to Sign Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid is widespread and if they eventually sign him, Arsenal defence line will be unbreakable.
2. Do Away With Mesut Ozil
Arsenal and the head coach Mikel Arteta should stop playing Ozil in the midfield because he seems to have passed his prime, but since he insist on staying and fighting for a place, he should be given an opportunity as a backup. But a new central and world class midfielder should be signed. If they can do this, there is no telling to what they can achieve this season. Ozil was a great play maker but we need to look at the future and not the past.
3. Retain Aubameyang
Arsenal need to do everything in their power to keep their captain and star player, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang. He almost single handedly gave Arsenal 2 cups and with him in your squad and with a focused mind, he can get you any trophy you put before him. The only thing they should do is to offer him a lucrative contract extension and bring in a creative play maker in addition to Willian and Arsenal can be deadly. Not even Liverpool, Chelsea or the 2 Manchester clubs can stop them.
4. Sign Houssem Aouar
In addition to the above, Arsenal has been linked with with a move for the Lyon versatile midfielder, Houssem Aouar, indeed he is very versatile and can play anywhere in the midfield. His technical ability and calmness with the ball is top notch. If Arsenal can also sign him, they will have a near perfect team that can compete with any team on the planet earth.
So, if Arsenal can do these 4 things, the treble can be a dream come through for them. I’m talking about the champions league trophy, premier league and FA cup trophies here, it will be within distance to be only backed with luck and another invincible team has Come.
Should Arsenal put all the above into perspective, it will be very strong a team comes the 2020/2021 Season. And it will see the pairing of Willian, Aubameyang and Pepe in the Attack. While a possible alignment of Aouar, Xhaka and Partey in the Midfield. And the combination of Tierney, Gabriel, Saliba and Cedric Soares in the Defence. With Leno between the stick as first choice Goal Keeper.
To compliment the first team should be a strong youth team with some blend of experience, comprising of; Martines, Saka, David Luiz, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Bellarin, Ozil, Ceballos, Lacazette, Nkettiah, Nelson, Martinelli.
All other players should be sold or loan out, to create opportunities for young Academy players, so as to continue with the tradition of building the future teams from the academy.
Newcastle United are delighted to announce the signing of striker Callum Wilson from AFC Bournemouth.
The 28-year-old joins the Magpies for an undisclosed fee and has signed a contract that will keep him at St. James’ Park until summer 2024.
Callum Wilson said: “From the minute I knew that Newcastle were interested, it was definitely something that appealed to me.
“It’s a massive club with great history. Along the years, they’ve had great strikers so if I can emulate half of what they’ve done, I’d like to attempt that.
“I believe in my ability as a player. As a striker I think it’s important to set yourself goals long term and short term, and I’m hoping to achieve them.
In his first interview after signing for Newcastle, Wilson said:
“With the players around me, I believe we can get the goals we need as team and I want to help contribute to that.”
Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce said: “Callum is somebody I’ve admired for a long time and I’m delighted to get him.
“He has done fantastically well at Bournemouth and was deservedly playing centre forward for England less than two years ago.
“The club has worked ever so hard to get Callum here and we have beaten off competition from a number of clubs.
“I’m grateful the club has made it happen. Lee Charnley and those behind the scenes deserve a lot of credit.”
Wilson began his career at hometown club Coventry City, rising through the club’s academy and enjoying loan spells at Kettering and Tamworth before scoring 23 goals in 55 senior appearances for the Sky Blues.
After moving to AFC Bournemouth in 2014, Wilson fired the Cherries to promotion in his first season – scoring 20 goals in 45 Championship outings – before becoming the South Coast club’s talisman in the Premier League.
His performances brought full international recognition in November 2018, with Wilson scoring on his England debut against the United States at Wembley.
The transfer of the young, highly rated attacking midfielder from Bayer Leverkusen follows on from the purchase of Timo Werner from another Bundesliga club RB Leipzig, and is in addition to the recruitment of Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva as Frank Lampard’s squad for the forthcoming season takes shape. They have also signed young French defender Malang Sarr who is going out on loan with a view to gaining more experience before he is involved.
Havertz had this to say on becoming a Chelsea player. ‘I am very happy and proud to be here, For me it is a dream come true to play in a big club like Chelsea and I can’t wait to meet all the players and the trainers. Yeah, I am very happy to be here!’
Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia added: ‘Kai is one of the best players of his age in world football, so we are very happy that his future lies at Chelsea. He has proven pedigree in one of the best leagues in Europe, he plays for the German national side and he is an exciting, dynamic talent. We are delighted to be able to add his versatility and quality to the squad before the season begins.’
Havertz has become one of German football’s highest-rated young players following his breakthrough at Bayer Leverkusen, setting a series of records for his achievements, including those for the youngest player to make 50 and 100 Bundesliga appearances, which were both previously held by Timo Werner.
Tall (he is 6ft 2in), fast and technically excellent, the 21-year-old has shown impressive versatility given his age. Predominantly a central attacking midfielder known for his accurate and incisive passing, along with an ability to retain possession in tight spaces and win the ball back in advanced positions, Havertz also played wide on the right earlier in his career, cutting inside onto his favoured left foot.
More recently, he proved himself a capable striker while filling in for that role due to injuries in the second half of 2019/20, and has been dubbed an ‘Alleskonner’ in his homeland – meaning a player who can do everything.
Having received his early education at local lower-league clubs Alemannia Mariadorf and Alemannia Aachen, the former run by his grandfather, Havertz joined Bayer Leverkusen at the age of 11 in 2010 and made a name for himself in their youth set-up, receiving the Silver Fritz Walter Medal in 2016, given to the best Under-17 players in Germany.
He made his senior debut that same year, becoming the club’s youngest Bundesliga debutant, and continued to grow in stature over the course of the 2016/17 season. He made his first Champions League start in that season’s last 16, although he missed the second leg of their defeat to Atletico Madrid because it clashed with his school exams. Before the end of the campaign he had his first goal, in a 3-3 draw with Wolfsburg, making him Leverkusen’s youngest Bundesliga scorer.