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Arsenal star, Lacazette hints on Lyon final after difficult debut season

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Alexandre Lacazette is dreaming of a fairytale ending to an otherwise difficult debut season at Arsenal by firing the Gunners to the Europa League final in his native Lyon next month.

Lacazette scored twice as Arsenal swept aside CSKA Moscow 4-1 in their quarter-final, first leg at the Emirates on Thursday night to take a huge step towards the semi-finals.

The French international has largely failed to live up to his £46.5 million ($65 million) club record price tag Arsenal paid for his services back in July.

After an underwhelming first half of the season, Lacazette’s troubles were compounded as Arsenal again broke their transfer record for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January to take his place as Arsene Wenger’s first-choice striker.

With Aubameyang cup-tied for the Europa League, Lacazette has his chance to shine in the competition that represents Arsenal’s last realistic shot at qualifying for next season’s Champions League should they win in Lyon on May 16.

However, Lacazette also missed out on victories over Ostersunds and AC Milan in previous rounds due to a knee injury that kept him sidelined for six weeks.

Lacazette returned to action in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Stoke, when Aubameyang even passed up the chance of his first Arsenal hat-trick to let his strike partner end his near three-month wait for a goal from the penalty spot.

“I missed football a lot during my break,” said Lacazaette. “I have come back stronger, but it is true scoring on my comeback on Sunday helped.”

– World Cup place at risk –

Aaron Ramsey was also on target twice, including a sensational lobbed finish with the outside of his foot, whilst Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan shone on a night when Arsenal showed they have the attacking potential to end a 24-year wait for a European trophy.

“It’s important for me because in the league, Aubameyang is going to play, unless the coach plays the two of us together,” added Lacazette.

“But I know in European competition, it is the chance to show plenty of things for me. I am desperate to win this trophy and, when we play like we did tonight, we can go far.”

Lacazette’s lack of playing time has also put his chances of making France’s World Cup squad at risk.

But he knows making a big impression in his homeland and the city where he played his entire career with Lyon until the last year could make a big difference to his chances of going to Russia.

“It’s in my mind a lot. Playing in front of my family, a final, it’s the type of thing that only comes around once.

“I know that by performing and going far in the Europa League, I give myself a much better chance to go (to the World Cup).

Read more..Gunners boss, Arsene Wenger hints on post-Arsenal plans

“Then you have to play well in the league and not get injured.”

Arsenal’s victory was their fifth consecutive win in all competitions to bounce back from a run of four straight defeats that left manager Arsene Wenger under mounting pressure to end his 22-year reign in charge at the end of the season.

However, the Frenchman hailed his side’s reaction to the disappointment in particular of losing the League Cup final to Manchester City last month.

“We responded well. People forget we lost three games in a week because the first game was a final and it takes time to recover from that,” said Wenger.

“We suffered a lot recently but we have to be feet on the ground, humble, and try to do our job well.”

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GRAPHIC VIDEO: Angry boxer attacks coach after losing match

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Boxing fans were left shocked when a fighter on the Hughie Fury-Kubrat Pulev undercard attacked his own trainer ring-side.

Levan Shonia gave viewers more than just a warmup spar when he took on unbeaten Spas Genov.

The Georgian fighter went on to lose the match, his 12th career defeat.

But instead of calling it quits, Shonia appeared to take out his anger on his unfortunate coach.

The pair were standing in the corner, with Shonia inside the ring with his trainer standing on the edge.

And for no apparent reason, Shonia was seen throwing a punch with his right hand, hitting his trainer on the shoulder.

The stunned man took a moment to take in what was happening before knocking Shonia back with a slap.

The response then saw Shonia throw another punch, this time with his left.

Watch video here..

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Super Eagles jersey worn by Mikel Obi during 2018 World Cup added to FIFA museum collection

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The FIFA museum located in Zürich, Switzerland has just announced that the jersey worn by Mikel Obi at Nigeria’s 2-0 victory at the Volgograd Arena at the 2018 World Cup has been added to its collection.

 

Below is how they announced it…

Argentina couldn’t claim three points against hardy newcomers, Iceland, but the @NG_Supereagles did – and they did it in style. The jersey worn by @Mikel_John_Obi at Nigeria’s 2-0 victory at the Volgograd Arena at the 2018 World Cup has been added to the FIFA Museum collection

The Super Eagles jersey worn by Mikel Obi during 2018 World Cup has been added to the FIFA museum collection

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Emery demands first-half improvement despite 11th straight Arsenal win

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Unai Emery demanded Arsenal improve their first-half performances despite the Gunners recording their 11th straight win in all competitions by beating Sporting CP.

But, as in Monday’s Premier League defeat of Leicester City, Arsenal did not impress in a flat first-half performance.

Although Arsenal are closing in on Europa League qualification, Emery feels there is an obvious area where his team can get better in the weeks to come.

“Each match there is a big opportunity to improve and one is this,” Emery told a news conference. “We spoke about it before the match.

“When we were in the dressing room at half-time we spoke and said, ‘okay today also, we cannot impose our game in first 45 minutes, but the second half we have the opportunity to change the result and continue in our way, thinking only of winning this match and improving things in the second half’.

“And I think the team did that in the second 45 minutes. But we need to continue finding the solution for the first half to be better.

“The match, for the 90 minutes, there were different things happening tactically and individually.

“The first half is not clear for us, there was not a lot of chances. The second half step by step we imposed our job, our play to win this match.”

Emery has regularly spoken of his desire for Arsenal to thrive in the Europa League, a competition he won three years in a row with Sevilla.

And after Welbeck’s late impact ensured Arsenal moved clear at the top of Group E, Emery reiterated the value he places on the tournament.

“For us it’s very important because we want to finish first in this group,” Emery said of the win.

“And at the moment the other club who is with us is Sporting. But also because we want to continue this process. There were many positive things.”

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