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Preview: Top-three all in Saturday action in Premier League this weekend

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LONDON, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) — Liverpool has an early chance to put pressure on its pursuers in the race for the Premier League title when it opens the weekend’s round of games with a visit to south-west London to face Brentford.

Jurgen Klopp has a long injury list, with players such as Joel Matip, Alisson Becker, Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah and Dominik Szoboszlai all out of the game, meaning that Darwin Nunez will lead the attack.

Brentford returned to form with an impressive win away to Wolves last week and Liverpool will have to deal with Ivan Toney, whose return has helped give pace and power to the home side’s attack.

Arsenal produced its best display of the season to win 6-0 away to West Ham United a week ago and with Martin Odegaard in fine form, it is favorite to take another three points from its visit to relegation-haunted Burnley.

Leandro Trossard will again start in the wake of his impressive display last week for the injured Gabriel Jesus, but Arsenal will have seen how an improved Burnley was slightly unlucky to leave Anfield empty-handed last weekend.

Second-place Manchester City is at home to Chelsea on Saturday, with Pep Guardiola’s side looking in ominous form.

Phil Foden and Kevin de Bruyne helped to guide it to a 3-1 Champions League win in Copenhagen in midweek and although Bernardo Silva and Jack Grealish picked up injuries which will keep them out on Saturday, Julien Alvarez will be rested and ready to start if Guardiola wants to rest any of his frontmen.

Chelsea has struggled to defend against top sides and this is another big test for Mauricio Pochettino’s side ahead of next weekend’s Carabao Cup final against Liverpool.

Tottenham entertains Wolves and its cause is likely to be helped by the season-ending hamstring injury suffered by visiting striker Matheus Cunha and doubts over the fitness of Hwang Hee-chan after the Asian Cup.

Richarlison has shone recently for Tottenham and the return of Hueng Min-son will add extra spice to the game, especially after stories of poor relations among some members of the South Korean squad in the recent tournament.

Newcastle United is without striker Alexander Isak and Callum Wilson as it welcomes the visit of Bournemouth. Before joining Newcastle, coach Eddie Howe spent time watching Bournemouth boss Andoni Iraola at work when he was with Rayo Vallecano in Spain and partially adopted Iraola’s high-pressing style.

Aston Villahas slipped out of the top-four after recent results and needs to return to form away to Fulham, although Craven Cottage is a tough ground to visit against a rival that gives little away on its home ground.

Moussa Diaby is in line for a recall for Villa after not starting in last weekend’s defeat at home to Manchester United.

Manchester United is in its best form of the season after three consecutive wins, although Sunday’s visit to play Luton Town could be a litmus test of the season.

Luton wasted a chance to move clear of the bottom three after losing to Sheffield United last weekend, but its role as underdog on Sunday should allow it to sit deep and use the pace of Chiedozie Ogbene and Carlton Morris on the break.

Sheffield United needs to build on its win at Luton when it entertains Brighton, whose coach Roberto De Zerbi is being linked to FC Barcelona for next season.

Meanwhile, Nottingham Forest is at home to West Ham, who remains eighth in the Premier League despite not winning a game yet in 2024 and who needs to show an ability to recover following last weekend’s humiliation at home to Arsenal.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Xavi’s magic substitutions lead Barcelona to victory in thrilling encounter with PSG

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PARIS, April 10 (Xinhua) — Barcelona’s manager, Xavi Hernandez, showcased his tactical genius by making two substitutions that led directly to goals, propelling his team to a thrilling 3-2 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday.

The game was an emotional rollercoaster, with Barcelona initially taking the lead, only to fall behind, and then executing a stunning comeback.

Brazilian forward Raphinha scored twice, including the opener in the first half, taking advantage of a mistake by PSG’s goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to net his first Champions League goal at the 37-minute mark.

PSG quickly turned the tables after halftime, with Ousmane Dembele and Vitinha scoring to give the Parisians a 2-1 advantage.

It was at this juncture that Xavi made a tactical masterstroke. In the 61st minute, he brought on Rodri and Joao Felix for Lamine Yamal and Sergi Roberto, a change that quickly paid off.

Pedri, just two minutes after coming on, lofted a perfect pass to Raphinha, who calmly finished past Donnarumma, drawing the teams level.

In the 76th minute, Xavi’s strategic acumen was on display again when he substituted Andreas Christensen and Ferran Torres for Frenkie de Jong and the key player Raphinha. Christensen scored with a header from a corner just a minute later, sealing a dramatic comeback for Barcelona.

“Pedri came on and helped us a lot. I’m very proud of the team. Christensen also came on and helped,” Xavi said. “Tactically we did really well.”

Since Xavi announced his departure from the team at the end of the season following a January defeat to Villarreal, Barcelona has been unbeaten in 12 matches across all competitions, a stark contrast to PSG’s previous unbeaten streak of 27 matches, which ended with this loss.

“We made things a bit difficult for ourselves. We managed to turn things around in the second half and could have had a third (goal),” PSG coach Luis Enrique said. “Everything’s still open for us and we will go there with ambition.”

The return leg is set for April 16th at Barcelona’s home ground.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Liverpool miss chances to return to Premier League lead

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LONDON, April 7 (Xinhua) — Liverpool failed to return to the top of the Premier League on Sunday after they were held to a 2-2 draw after a thrilling game away to Manchester United at Old Trafford.

The result leaves Liverpool level on points with Arsenal at the top of the table, but Arsenal, who won 3-0 away to Brighton on Saturday, remain leaders on goal difference.

Liverpool took a 23rd minute lead when Darwin Nunez flicked on for Luis Diaz to fire home from a corner that was badly defended by Manchester United and Liverpool went on to create and miss enough chances to have the game sewn up by halftime.

They paid for their profligacy after 50 minutes, when Bruno Fernandes scored from inside of the center circle after a horrible pass from Jarell Quansah gave the ball away with Caoimhin Kelleher stranded outside his penalty area.

It was 2-1 to United in the 67th minute when Kobbie Mainoo turned in the corner of the Liverpool penalty area and curled a shot home at the far corner on the net.

Mohamed Salah saved a point for Liverpool after 63 minutes from the penalty spot and both sides had chances in the closing minutes.

Liverpool and Arsenal are a point ahead of Manchester City after Pep Guardiola’s side won 4-2 away to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Tottenham move into fourth place after beating Nottingham Forest 3-1 at home on Sunday evening after second half goals from Mickey van de Ven and Pedro Porro assured them victory. The first half of the game saw Nottingham forward Chris Wood’s 27th minute header cancel out Murillo’s own goal.

Chelsea conceded a 93rd minute goal away to Sheffield United as Ollie McBurnie saved a point for the home side that won’t be enough to keep them in the top-flight, but which once again exposed Chelsea’s flaws.

Chelsea led twice through Thiago Silva and Noni Madueke, but were pinned back, first through Jaydon Bogle and McBurnie’s late finish from four yards after beating the Chelsea offside trap.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Development of four synthetic tracks underway

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Minister of Sports, Fitness and Recreation Abdulla Rafiu has revealed that development of four synthetic tracks in Maldives is underway. He made these remarks while officiating the ceremony to celebrate the victory of Marathon Runners Maldives athletes, following their participation in the Runtalya Marathon.

Marathon Runners Maldives athletes had reportedly secured second position in the contest. Additionally, Yusuf Ibrahim broke the national record for the full marathon with an outstanding long run performance.

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister reiterated the need to enhance the resources to compete globally. He further emphasised the ongoing efforts for track maintenance and the simultaneous development of four synthetic tracks as part of the India’s Line of Credit.

Athlete Nasrullah Ahmed had also participated in the Runtalya Marathon, marking his 95th race. Co-currently, he aims to achieve a milestone by completing his 100th marathon.

Source(s): PsmNews

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