Cristiano Ronaldo expected in Madrid for Tax fraud trial

Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo is expected back in Madrid on Tuesday to attend a trial for tax evasion in which Spanish prosecutors are asking for a 23-month prison sentence and a fine.

 

The Portuguese striker, who left Real Madrid for Juventus last July, is expected to plead guilty after he agreed to a settlement worth €18.8m with Spanish tax authorities last summer

 

However, he is unlikely to serve any time in prison, as Spanish law states a sentence of under two years for a first offence can be served on probation.

 

The prosecutor’s office said it was seeking a fine of €5.7m ($6.5m), which it said Ronaldo had already paid, as well as interest of about €1m.

 

That fine, expected to be confirmed on Tuesday, is part of the total agreed in the earlier settlement, judicial sources said.

 

Ronaldo, 33, who has helped take Juventus to the top of Italian football’s Serie A, will have to travel to Madrid immediately after playing for Juve against Chievo on Monday.

 

The trial was initially expected to take place on Monday, but the prosecutor’s office said the date was now set for Tuesday.

 

It is expected to be concluded on the same day and be short, with officials saying the hearing will only require Ronaldo to confirm he accepts the deal.

 

 

Barcelona qualify for Copa Del Rey Quarter Final

Barcelona overturned a first leg defeat to beat Levante in the Copa del Rey on Thursday but could yet be thrown out of the competition after being accused of fielding an ineligible player.

Barca won 3-0 at the Camp Nou, with Lionel Messi setting up two Ousmane Dembele goals and then scoring himself to seal a 4-2 victory on aggregate.

Their place in the quarter-finals, however, is under threat after Levante president Francisco Javier Catalan confirmed shortly before kick-off that the club would lodge a complaint to the Spanish Football Federation on Friday.

Levante claim Barcelona defender Juan Brandariz ‘Chumi’ played illegally in the first leg as he should have been serving a suspension.

“Whatever happens on the field of play today, Levante are going to take this situation to the Federation tomorrow,” Catalan said earlier on Thursday.

“We feel that there is a solid enough precedent to back up the club’s decision to do so.”

Chumi was banned after he received a yellow card playing for Barcelona’s B team in the Segunda B division.

Barcelona, however, insisted a change in the rules in November means the suspension does not carry over into the Copa del Rey.

“There were never any doubts about Chumi, none,” Barca coach Ernesto Valverde said. “We did everything right. Tomorrow we will be in the draw, we have no doubts, not before and not now.”

Levante may feel precedent is on their side after Real Madrid were disqualified from the Copa del Rey in 2015 for fielding Denis Cheryshev, despite the player being suspended.

Madrid had overlooked Cheryshev receiving three yellow cards while playing for Villarreal in the competition the previous season.

“I tried to focus on the game,” Levante coach Paco Lopez said. “I understand that the club does what it thinks is right. There are rules we all have to follow.”

Barcelona were certainly worthy winners on the pitch at the Camp Nou and, as it stands, will join Real Madrid, Sevilla, Real Betis, Valencia, Girona, Getafe and Espanyol in the last eight of a tournament they won, as well as La Liga, last year.

That domestic double arguably took its toll in Europe, however, and Valverde has been under pressure to afford his key players more rest this season. Barca play Lyon in the Champions League last 16 next month.

Messi started, along with fellow regulars like Jordi Alba, Clement Lenglet, Ivan Rakitic and Arthur. Luis Suarez, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Marc Andre ter Stegen all began on the bench.

Barcelona were dominant from the outset, as a curling Messi free-kick was pushed wide and Philippe Coutinho, excellent again, shot over.

Messi and Arturo Vidal both went close and finally in the 30th minute, Dembele made the breakthrough, latching onto Messi’s pass before bundling the ball into the net.

A minute later, the Frenchman had a second. Coutinho found Messi on the break and he slipped free the sprinting Dembele, who ran round Aitor Fernandez and scuffed the ball home off the goalkeeper’s outstretched leg.

Levante were still only a goal away from extra-time but Messi ended any hopes of a comeback. Dembele freed Nelson Semedo down the right and he found the Argentinian in the middle. A chipped finish was all it needed.

Gattuso leaves door open for Higuain move to Chelsea

The manager has said he will do what he can to hold onto the forward, but that he could be “difficult to convince”

It is up to Gonzalo Higuain to choose his Milan future amid reported interest from Chelsea, according to manager Gennaro Gattuso.

The Argentina international joined Milan on loan from Juventus over the summer and has scored eight goals in all competitions this season.

Though Milan have the option to buy at the end of the season, Higuain has reportedly been the subject of interest from Chelsea, who are managed by his old bo Any deal between Chelsea and Higuain would be made more complicated by fact he is on loan, but that does not make it an impossibility.

Gattuso has previously voiced his desire for the 31-year-old Higuain to remain with the club, but admitted it may well fall on the striker to make the final call on his decision.

Speaking after Milan’s 2-0 Coppa Italia victory over Sampdoria in which Higuain went 111 minutes but didn’t score, Gattuso praised the striker yet conceded his uncertainty over what the future holds.

“[Higuain] was active today,” Gattuso told Milan TV. “He didn’t score but he did everything right.

“We have a very honest relationship, we say things to people’s faces. There is great honesty.

“When a player makes certain choices, it becomes difficult to convince him “At this moment, he is a Milan player and we’re holding on tight.

“I don’t know what will happen. We are honest with each other and I want him to maintain this attitude, which has never been lacking thus far.”

The Milan boss also claimed that he would do what he could to try and hold onto the striker during his post-match press conference.

“I haven’t figured out what Higuain is unhappy with, because I see him look content and involved in the locker room atmosphere.

‘We’ll see what happens. If it was up to me, I’d keep him at my house and feed him my dinner.”

Milan’s victory was their second straight after a five-game winless run across all competitions.

Patrick Cutrone scored both goals in extra time as they got past the hosts, leaving Gattuso pleased at the result.

“The players did very well today,” Gattuso said. “We knew Sampdoria were a o great team so we knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

Manchester united close in on Top four

The interim boss overtook Sir Matt Busby’s record thanks to Marcus Rashford’s goal on Sunday

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has equalled the record for the most successful start of any Manchester United manager in history after winning his first five league games in charge.

 

The Norwegian matched Sir Matt Busby’s record of five consecutive wins in the top flight when his side beat Tottenham at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

 

Solskjaer took over in December following the sacking of Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford, although he is currently set to leave United at the end of the season with Gareth Southgate, Diego Simeone and Mauricio Pochettino among the front-runners for the permanent job.

 

Premier League victories against Cardiff, Huddersfield, Bournemouth and Newcastle, as well as a FA Cup third-round win at home to Reading, have seen Solskjaer’s stock rise, and the win over Spurs is his best result yet.

 

The fact the Red Devils beat Pochettino’s side made the win even more poignant given the Argentine’s strong links to the job.

 

United’s players have shown renewed energy levels and enthusiasm under Solskjaer after they had grown weary with the leadership of Mourinho.

 

Paul Pogba in particular had had a public rift with the Portuguese, but has shown excellent form since being given a leading role by his new boss and set up Rashford against Tottenham with a stunning pass that dissected the Spurs defence.

 

Rashford himself has also excelled after being chosen ahead of Romelu Lukaku to lead the line for the Reds and has now scored four goals in five Premier League games since Solskjaer’s appointment; compared to just three under Mourinho prior to the Portuguese manager’s sacking.

It means the Reds have kept three clean sheets in a row, and they have David de Gea to thank for that after the keeper made 11 saves in the second half – more than any keeper has made in an entire Premier League game this season.

Although United have not improved their league position since the Norwegian’s appointment, they have now drawn level with fifth-placed Arsenal on points which means they have bridged the eight-point gap that existed when Solskjaer took over.

Djokovic eyes seventh Australian open title

The sun may be setting on a golden era of men’s tennis, but Novak Djokovic’s star still burns bright as he returns to Melbourne Park in search of a record seventh Australian Open title.

The doubt-stricken player with a dodgy elbow, who exited early from the last two Melbourne tournaments, has since been replaced by the world-beating Djokovic of old.

Yet the Serb also brings a wiser, harder edge after coming through a period of personal and physical anguish, and breaking a two-year drought at the Grand Slams last year.

The same cannot be said for his ‘Big Four’ cohorts, who have become progressively worn down by injuries and time, after dominating the majors for much of the past decade.

A teary-eyed Andy Murray signaled the Australian Open could be his last professional tournament on Friday, with the pain of his right hip proving unbearable.

Grave fitness fears also shadow 32-year-old Rafa Nadal, the 17-times Grand Slam champion, who pulled out of the Brisbane International warm-up with a thigh strain and had his 2018 season cut short by a string of various injuries.

The struggles of Murray and Nadal make the longevity of double-defending champion Roger Federer all the more miraculous, and even at 37, he may still be the best equipped player to derail the Djokovic train.

Yet, with respect to the Swiss master, 20-times Grand Slam champion Federer swiped the last two Melbourne titles while Djokovic was in the doldrums.

Following his wins at Wimbledon and the US Open, the top-seeded Serb is heavily favored to seal a third successive Grand Slam title and reclaim a tournament he has virtually owned throughout his career.

Djokovic was only 21 when he upset the defending champion Federer in the 2008 semi-finals, then beat Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in four sets to muscle into a Grand Slam club that had become a duopoly between the Swiss and Nadal.

He has hosted the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup five times since, including a hat-trick of titles from 2011-13, all roared on by Melbourne’s big Serbian community.

The world number one suffered a small hiccup in his preparations, upset by Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in the semi-finals at the Qatar Open.

But he has the luxury of easing into Melbourne against a qualifier before a possible rematch of the 2008 final against French wildcard Tsonga.

On the other side of the draw, sentimentalists will hope third seed Federer and world number two Nadal can grind it out to the semi-finals and reignite the sport’s most cherished rivalry.

Others will hope for a long-awaited breakthrough from the next generation after Federer, Nadal and Djokovic hogged all the Grand Slams last year.

Fourth seed Alexander Zverev might seem the man most likely, having again proved the better of the game’s titans with his victory at the season-ending ATP Tour Finals.

However, the 21-year-old talent’s quarter-final appearance at the French Open last year is his sole appearance in the last eight at a Grand Slam.

He has yet to convince he has the grit and temperament to go the distance in seven matches.

Real Madrid suffer consequences of selling Ronaldo

Juventus are reaping the benefits of having a five-time Ballon d’Or winner in his prime while the club he left behind struggle for goals and points

Whether it was arrogance, misplaced faith or just outright stupidity, Real Madrid’s decision to let Cristiano Ronaldo leave for Juventus last summer must surely rank as one of football’s worst decisions in history.

It is clear now, more than halfway through the season, that Madrid have nothing like the firepower required to carry them through this, a season of transition, while Ronaldo continues to rack up the goals in Italy.

Madrid might well have banked €100m for Ronaldo, no small fee for a 33-year-old, but no money could possibly replace what has been taken away. Last season they finished 17 points adrift of Barcelona, by the end of this one they will be begging to be that close.

 

Had they got an adequate replacement then this debate might well be moot. But the fact is that there isn’t a football player alive capable of delivering what Ronaldo delivered for Real. And in a year when they also lost their talismanic coach Zinedine Zidane, the sanctioning of his sale is proving to be catastrophic.

Without a Galactico arrival like Neymar or Kylian Mbappe, they got Mariano Diaz from Lyon instead. He chose the No. 7 shirt to demonstrate that he would be leading a new era at the Santiago Bernabeu. He will do well to score that number of league goals this season.

But all looked rosy in the garden at the start of the season when a more democratic-looking Madrid attack was scoring from all angles and giving Julen Lopetegui the positive start he needed as Madrid coach.

His methods were working well; Karim Benzema’s goal scoring pace picked up. Gareth Bale, finally liberated from the shadow of Ronaldo, became a key component in the line-up and thrived as the main man.

But Madrid’s downturn in form eventually accounted for Lopetegui. Without Ronaldo’s goals they had nowhere to turn once Benzema’s form evaporated and Bale again became injured.

 

Often derided as a flat-track bully, Ronaldo’s prodigious scoring feats were missed in matches Madrid should have been winning handsomely. It’s one thing complaining that Ronaldo only scores in the easy matches, it’s another thing altogether when those so-called easy matches roll around and there is nobody to put the ball in the net with any sort of consistency.

In the Champions League as well as La Liga, Madrid have come up well short. They have scored only 26 goals in their 18 league matches to date. Barcelona, top of the division, have scored almost twice that number on 50.

Unbelievably they are right now sitting outside the Champions League places. There is the very real possibility that unless they win a fourth title in a row, they won’t even be back in the Champions League next season.

What a calamity that would be and a self-imposed one at that.

No one is denying that Madrid were due an overhaul. The president Florentino Perez and general director Jose Angel Sanchez have long since recognised that need. That is why there has been a drastic reduction in the average age of transfer targets with young starlets like Marco Asensio, Theo Hernandez, Dani Ceballos, Alvaro Odriozola, Vinicius Jr and most recently Brahim Diaz coming in.

Madrid’s Champions League core one day will have to be broken up and that is understandable. A result of that will be the elimination from the first team of players like Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric and more of the senior corps. But Ronaldo should have been the last of that group to go and not the first.

They have shown that they can survive the loss of Ramos or Modric. Indeed both have been horrifically out of form this season and should take time to analyse their own contributions. Meanwhile, Ronaldo is still going strong. He has demonstrated that it doesn’t matter who is managing him, who his team-mates are or what league he’s playing in, he will get the goals. He is currently top scorer of Serie A with 14 goals and has also provided an impressive five assists.

His form would have been crucial for Madrid to navigate their way through the pain of this transition season. While they replenished the team elsewhere, the one thing they could have counted on was Ronaldo’s ability to find the net and buy them some wiggle room no matter what was going on elsewhere in the club.

 

Sure, it was not a pretty sale in the end. Sure, there were complications.

Ronaldo was patently unhappy the year before with Madrid’s role – or lack thereof – in his conviction for tax fraud. He wanted a bigger pay cheque, understandable given his status as totem and all-time top scorer. It’s been reported that Perez held out and held out and held out until Ronaldo’s bluff was called and he actually did take his leave from the Bernabeu.

He is right to feel aggrieved that his salary was not high enough. Given the sums involved in the Neymar contract at Paris Saint-Germain, a player who does not have half of the pedigree of Ronaldo, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner was of course entitled to ask for more.

He didn’t get it because Perez didn’t believe it was value for money.

How costly an error. How foolish an error.

Juventus are riding the crest of a wave; they are breaking records left, right and centre in Serie A and so is Ronaldo.

No Madrid player has managed more than seven league goals this season and that is pitiful. Ronaldo has double that amount.

This could well go down as the most catastrophic season in the modern history of the club. It didn’t have to be like this. They should have believed, should have trusted and should have paid Ronaldo. The biggest mistake in all of this is that they underestimated him. And for a club that for so long put out the idea that he was the best player in the world, that is unforgivable.

Now they know the cost.

Real Madrid set to Re-hire Jose Mourinho

Real Madrid are planning to re-hire Mourinho as a replacement for struggling Santiago Solari
The Portuguese tactician was recently fired by his former club Man United after his side’s poor results at the club
Mourinho already rejected offers to manage Benfica
Spanish League giants Real Madrid are reportedly planning to re-hire our-of-job manager Jose Mourinho.
The 55-year-old was fired by Manchester United less than a month ago following a poor run of results at the club.
After leaving the Red Devils 19 points behind table toppers Liverpool, while his relationship with his players was deteriorating.
Although, the Portuguese manager has already rejected a chance to manager Portuguese topflight side Benfica.
SunSport however reports that Real President Florentino Perez is said to be planning to bring the former Chelsea boss back to the Santiago Bernabeu.
Mourinho first managed Los Blancos between 2010 and 2013, and five years after could stage a return to the club.
The former Inter Milan and Chelsea boss won a Spanish League title and two other trophies during his three year reign at the club.
Madrid are currently not having a good time in the La Liga having slipped to fifth position on the log after their 2-0 home defeat to Real Socieded on Sunday.
Since the ex Chelsea coach was dismissed at Manchester United, he has been linked with many top European clubs.
Recently, Portuguese club Benfica sacked their manager Rui Vitoria after three years in charge of the team, and Jose Mourinho has been linked with the job.

Solskjær equals Busby’s record

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United made it four wins out of four in the Premier League on Wednesday, beating Newcastle to close the gap on fourth-placed Chelsea, who were held at home by Southampton.

United have been transformed since their former striker replaced Jose Mourinho, scoring 12 goals in his first three games in temporary charge but were forced to dig deep to emerge with a 2-0 win against a disciplined Newcastle side at St James’s Park.

The victory leaves them in sixth spot in the table with 38 points, just three behind Arsenal and six adrift of Chelsea.

Substitute Romelu Lukaku broke the deadlock just 38 seconds after coming on midway through the second half, pouncing after Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka had spilled a fierce Marcus Rashford free kick and Rashford himself made sure of the points in the 80th minute.

Manchester United bossed possession but a resolute Newcastle defence kept clear-cut chances to a minimum, prompting Solskjaer to throw on Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez shortly after the hour mark.

The changes bore fruit immediately and the interim boss will be equally pleased that United managed just their third clean sheet of the season in the Premier League.

“Finally we kept a clean sheet,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports. “A very professional performance. We didn’t hit the heights that we can do but we were in control, kept plugging away and got the goals.

“A good first touch from a sub. When you see big Romelu Lukaku running towards you, as a keeper you might take your hands away. We were sluggish in the first half, it was like a testimonial, too many square passes.”

Solskjaer is only the second manager in Manchester United history to win his first four league games in charge of the club, after Matt Busby in 1946.

Chelsea sign Pulisic

Christian Pulisic is joining Chelsea in a £58 million (€64m/$73m) deal that will see him loaned back to Dortmund for the remainder of the 2018-19 season.
The USA international has impressed since making the breakthrough for the Bundesliga side during the 2015-16 campaign and has since made 115 appearances for the first team, scoring 15 goals and creating another 24.
He has, however, struggled to hold down a regular starting place in Lucien Favre’s side that have charged to the top of the league standings this season, opening a six-point gap
Indeed, the 20-year-old has featured only four times from the beginning of matches in the league

With the player unable to agree new terms with the club on a deal that would have expired in 2020, BVB were content to allow him to leave.
“It was always Christian’s dream to play in the Premier League . That certainly has to do with his American background, and as a result we were unable to extend his contract,” BVB sporting director
“Against this background, we have decided to accept an extremely lucrative bid by Chelsea, given the low contract maturity.”
Zorc holds no fears that the youngster will allow his level to drop in the coming months, despite his big move being secured.
“He’s a player of perfect character,” he added. “I am sure that in the coming months he will do everything in his power to bring his high quality to the team and to achieve his sporting goals with his Borussia Dortmund team-mates.”
Commenting on the move, Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia told the Blues’ official club website: “We are delighted to have signed one of Europe’s most sought-after young players.
“Christian has shown his quality during a fantastic spell in Germany and at just 20, we believe he has the potential to become an important Chelsea player for many years to come.
“We look forward to welcoming him to Stamford Bridge in the summer and wish him and Dortmund every success for the remainder of the season.”
As revealed by Goal, Pulisic is a player the blues have been chasing for a while now, amid concerns over the future of star man Eden Hazard, who continues to be linked with Real Madrid.
The club is willing to tie the Belgian down with a contract making him the highest paid player in the clubs history although he is yet to sign on the dotted line and has consistently stated his dream of featuring for the Liga giants.
Maurizio Sarri’s side were also monitoring the progress of Lyon’s Nabil Fekir and Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele as a potential replacement for the Belgium star.
Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool were two of the other clubs looking at Pulisic, but the Reds dropped their interest at the end of November.

Liverpool thrash Arsenal to extend lead on the table

Liverpool roared back from a rare Anfield deficit to move nine points clear at the top of the Premier League as Roberto Firmino’s hat-trick inspired a 5-1 thrashing of Arsenal on Saturday.
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane were also on target as Liverpool’s front three all scored in the same league game for the first time this season.
Liverpool had trailed at home in the league for the first time in a day short of a year when Ainsley Maitland-Niles turned home Alex Iwobi’s excellent cross 11 minutes in.
However, the lead lasted just three minutes as Firmino profited from some calamitous Arsenal defending to level and then left Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos on the floor to score his second goal in three minutes.
Mane and Salah’s penalty had the game wrapped up by half-time and Firmino completed his hat-trick from the spot as Jurgen Klopp’s men extended their unbeaten league start to 20 games and took another significant step towards a first league title since 1989/1990.
Win again in their next outing at Manchester City on Thursday and only a Liverpool collapse in the final months of the season can prevent an end to nearly three decades of hurt.
Champions City now trail the pacesetters by 10 points and even if they reduce that lead to seven with victory at Southampton on Sunday, they need to end Liverpool’s invincible season so far to get back in the title race at the Etihad.
Tottenham’s title ambitions suffered a huge blow as Wolves scored three times in the final 18 minutes to win 3-1 at Wembley earlier on Saturday to further embolden Anfield with belief before kick-off.
That confidence could have been shaken when after a bright Liverpool start, it was Arsenal who led when Iwobi’s teasing cross perfectly dissected Alisson Becker and Virgil van Dijk, to leave Maitland-Niles with an open goal.
The signings of Alisson and Van Dijk have been credited for Liverpool’s rock-solid defensive record with that goal just the eighth they have conceded all season in the league.
But that solidity is now being married with a return to the sort of form Salah, Firmino and Mane showed last season in smashing a combined 91 goals last season.
Firmino didn’t even have to look at the ball when he slotted the equaliser into an empty net after Sokratis’s attempted clearance rebounded off Mustafi into his path to quickly level.
However, the Brazilian did all the hard work himself two minutes later by jinking through Arsenal’s hapless central defensive pairing before drilling low past Bernd Leno.
Mane made it 3-1 on 32 minutes when Salah cushioned a cross perfectly into the Senegalese’s path to side-foot high into the net.
Arsenal were handed a let-off moments later by referee Michael Oliver when Granit Xhaka was only given a final warning rather than a second booking in a matter of seconds for kicking the ball away in frustration.
But Oliver gave Liverpool the chance to extend their lead just before half-time when Salah tumbled under pressure from Sokratis in the box.
Leno got a touch to the Egyptian’s spot-kick but couldn’t stop Salah moving level with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Harry Kane as the Premier League’s top scorer on 13.
Liverpool could easily have had more after the break as only a poor touch from Salah allowed Leno to smother and the German ‘keeper also denied Fabinho, while at the other end Aubameyang’s blushes were saved by the offside flag when he fired over with an open goal gaping.
Salah gave up the chance to move clear in the race for the golden boot when Sead Kolasinac pushed Dejan Lovren 25 minutes from time and Firmino gratefully fired home the penalty to round off a five-star performance.

Liverpool go into the new year at the top of the table could this be the turn around year for the Merseyside team

Mbappe named best French player of the year

Kylian Mbappe has been crowned French player of the year for 2018 by France Football ahead of Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann.

Mbappe, 20, was recognised by France Football, who also award the Ballon d’Or, after a successful 12 months with club and country, winning a domestic treble with Paris Saint-Germain and the World Cup with France.

The forward has also excelled individually in 2018, scoring 30 goals for club and country, as he won the inaugural Kopa Trophy – awarded to the best U21 player in world football – and ranking fourth in the Ballon d’Or list.
Mbappe also played a pivotal role in France’s World Cup-winning campaign in Russia, scoring four times, including a goal in the 4-2 final win over Croatia.

Varane (Real Madrid) and Griezmann (Atletico Madrid) were close behind in the vote, which was carried out by journalists and former winners, after a successful season in Europe with their clubs.

Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante is now forced to relinquish his title after being awarded the prize for 2017.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan To miss out on January action

The Armenian was taken off at half-time of the Carabao Cup clash with Tottenham after suffering the injury during the first half
Arsenal have been rocked by the news that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be out of action until February due to a broken metatarsal.

The Armenia international, 29, suffered the injury in the first half of Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup loss to Tottenham Hotspur.

Mkhitaryan suffered the fractured foot when attempting a shot from the edge of the penalty area, only for Lucas Moura to make a last-ditch challenge.

The Brazilian won the ball, but also crashed into Mkhitaryan, who remained on the deck in agony.

He was substituted at the break and subsequently missed the 3-1 win over Burnley in the Premier League on Saturday.

Mkhitaryan suffered the injury in the loss to Spurs

Arsenal confirmed on Monday that, after weekend tests and a scan, Mkhitaryan has indeed suffered a broken foot and is expected to be out for at least six weeks.

That means he will miss the rest of the festive fixtures as well as the club’s entire January programme.

Mkhitaryan has been a regular under Unai Emery and has contributed four Premier League goals this season.

He will now miss matches against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City.

He joined the Gunners as part of the Alexis Sanchez swap deal that took the Chilean to Manchester United.

Mkhitaryan’s injury is another blow to Gunners boss Emery, who already has a long list of players sidelined.

However, Rob Holding and Danny Welbeck remain the club’s only long-term absentees; neither is expected to play again this season.

 

Manchester United appoint Solskjaer as manager until end of the season

The Norwegian coach has been installed as the club’s new temporary boss following Jose Mourinho’s sacking
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been appointed as Manchester United’s interim manager for the rest of the season.
The former Red Devils striker, who played at Old Trafford for over a decade between 1996 and 2007, takes over on a temporary basis in the wake of Jose Mourinho’s exit on Tuesday.
A United statement read: “Manchester United announced today that former striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been appointed as caretaker manager until the end of the 2018-19 season.
“Solskjaer will take charge of the first team with immediate effect and will remain in place while the club conducts a thorough recruitment process for a new full-time manager.”
He arrives from Norwegian side Molde, having returned to the club for a second stint back in 2015. Mike Phelan has also returned to United in the role of first-team coach and will work alongside the club’s former midfielder Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna.
Solskjaer, whose appointment had been accidentally revealed late on Tuesday, told United’s official website : “Manchester United is in my heart and it’s brilliant to be coming back in this role. I’m really looking forward to working with the very talented squad we have, the staff and everyone at the club.”
United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward added: “Ole is a club legend with huge experience, both on the pitch and in coaching roles. His history at Manchester United means he lives and breathes the culture here and everyone at the club is delighted to have him and Mike Phelan back. We are confident they will unite the players and the fans as we head into the second half of the season.”
A forward perhaps best known as a “super sub” for United, Solskjaer famously came off the bench against Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final to score an injury-time winner and hand Sir Alex Ferguson’s side their first European honour for over 30 years.
He also picked up six Premier League titles and two FA Cups, among other honours, during his time as a player at the club.
At international level, he won 67 caps for Norway and was a member of their 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship squads, reaching the last 16 in the former.
Following his retirement, Solskjaer transitioned from the United playing squad to the managerial set-up, where he took charge of the reserves at Carrington under Ferguson between 2008 and 2011.
He left the club to take the reins at Molde, where he had played before switching to United, and won the Tippeligaen league title in his first season in charge, in 2011.
He was coaxed back to the United Kingdom in early 2014 to replace Malky Mackay as manager of relegation-threatened Cardiff City but was unable to prevent the club from making the drop back into the Championship.
A subsequent dismissal followed after a run of poor results to open the 2014-15 campaign and Solskjaer was reappointed Molde boss the following October on a three-and-a-half year deal.

Man Utd sack Mourinho after poor start to the season

The Red Devils have won just two of their last eight matches in all competitions and sit 11 points off fourth place in the Premier League

Jose Mourinho has been sacked by Manchester United following their disappointing start to the season.

The Red Devils currently sit sixth in the Premier League table but have already lost five times in 17 matches, leaving them 19 points behind leaders Liverpool and 11 off fourth-placed Chelsea in the fight for Champions League places.

That follows a summer transfer window in which Mourinho routinely complained about a lack of signings, with the Portuguese unable to persuade the club’s hierarchy to sign a new centre-back.

Mourinho has continued to drop hints that he remains unhappy at that failure to spend big, and he now leaves after two-and-a-half years at the Old Trafford helm, with his final match in charge Sunday’s 3-1 defeat to arch-rivals Liverpool.

“Manchester United announces that manager Jose Mourinho has left the club with immediate effect,” a statement read.

“The club would like to thank Jose for his work during his time at Manchester United and to wish him success in the future.

“A new caretaker manager will be appointed until the end of the current season, while the club conducts a thorough recruitment process for a new, full-time manager.”

Mourinho replaced Louis van Gaal in the United hotseat in the summer of 2016 and was tasked with leading the 20-time English champions back to the top of the domestic game after a barren three years since Sir Alex Ferguson’s appointment.

He started well, winning the Community Shield in his first match in charge before claiming the League Cup thanks to a Zlatan Ibrahimovic-inspired 3-2 win over Southampton.

Form in the league was not as strong, however, with the Red Devils only able to finish in sixth place, though their season did end on a high as a 2-0 win over Ajax in the final of the Europa League saw them qualify for the 2017-18 Champions League.

Mourinho’s second season in charge saw United finish a distant second in the Premier League to Pep Guardiola’s record-breaking Manchester City, and while they crashed out of the Champions League to Sevilla in the last 16 and lost the FA Cup final to Chelsea, there was hope the former Real Madrid boss would be able to kick on again having signed a new improved contract in the early weeks of 2018.

That has not come to pass, however, with United currently on a run of just two wins from eight matches in all competitions.

Further to displays on the pitch, reports of dressing room unrest have overshadowed Man Utd’s performances over the course of the season, with Mourinho’s relationship with club-record signing Paul Pogba a constant talking point.

World Cup winner Pogba has struggled for consistency under Mourinho, and this season things seem to have taken a turn for the worse, with the former Juventus man unable to hold down a regular berth in the ex-Chelsea boss’ preferred 11.

The nadir came at Anfield on Sunday, with Mourinho deciding against bringing Pogba off the bench despite his side needing to find a goal to get back into the game following Xherdan Shaqiri’s own match-winning performance as a substitute for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Whomever takes temporary charge until the end of the season will now be tasked with pushing United back into the race to finish in the top four while also plotting a path towards silverware in both the Champions League – where they play Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 – and the FA Cup, with Reading their third-round opponents.

Reports suggest assistant coach Michael Carrick is not in the frame to take on that role, with the interim manager’s first game on Saturday away at Cardiff City, and an external candidate expected to be appointed within 48 hours.

Zinedine Zidane and Mauricio Pochettino, meanwhile, are among the favourites to take the role full-time come the summer.

Luck not on Juventus’ side with Champions League draw, says Nedved

The Italian side were paired with Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid in the last 16 of the competition, much to the dismay of the vice-chairman Pavel Nedved lamented Juventus’ misfortune after the Bianconeri were paired with Atletico Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League on Monday.

Juve continue to blaze a trail domestically- they have won the last seven scudetti and already established an eight-point lead at the summit this season after 16 games- but have not been crowned European champions since 1996.

They recruited Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid to bolster an already imposing squad but Nedved was relatively downbeat when asked to assess the clash with the defending Europa League champions.

Nedved said:‘we didn’t have much luck. Atletico are a difficult side to face, they are more of an Italian-style team than European. They have a strong defense that plays well together, and they know how to play into the forwards with Griezmann and others.

‘I foresee two very even matches, with few goals. We have been drawn the strongest possible opponent, but there is no problem. Cristiano Ronaldo may be the man of the Champions League but the is strong and we can be confident in our ability to qualify for the quarter-finals’

Juve midfielder Sami Khedira, another former Real Madrid man, has also predicted a difficult game against Diego Simeone’s side.