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Arsene Wenger: Arsenal boss says timing of departure 'not really my decision'

3 hours 11 min ago
[unable to retrieve full-text content]<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" standalone="yes"?> Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says the timing of his departure from the club after nearly 22 years "was not really my decision".
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Jorge Mendes: No Wolves punishment from EFL over link with super agent

3 hours 17 min ago
Jorge Mendes acts for Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo

Championship winners Wolves have had their relationship with super agent Jorge Mendes approved by the EFL, who deem him as not a 'relevant person'.

Wolves were invited to meet with the EFL over the close bond between club owners Fosun and Mendes, following criticism from Championship rivals.

But the EFL have made a comprehensive review of details provided by Wolves.

And they have concluded that "there is no requirement" for Mendes to submit to the owners' and directors' test.

As well as Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo, Mendes acts for Wolves head coach Nuno and two of the club's fellow Portuguese star players, Ruben Neves and Diogo Jota.

More to follow.

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Cech, Ozil and Wilshere available for Arsenal - match preview

3 hours 44 min ago
Mesut Ozil (left) and Jack Wilshere (right) trained on Wednesday

Arsenal have Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere and Petr Cech available for Thursday's Europa League semi-final first leg against Atletico Madrid.

Midfielders Ozil and Wilshere, and goalkeeper Cech missed Sunday's win over West Ham with minor injuries.

Striker Diego Costa has been named in a 20-man Atletico squad for the trip.

Boss Diego Simeone said at the weekend the Spain forward had "no chance" of being fit for the game at Emirates Stadium because of a hamstring injury.

He has missed three games since limping out of the quarter-final second leg against Sporting Lisbon.

Costa has scored six goals in 18 games since his move from Chelsea.

Full-back Juanfran will miss Thursday's game because of a hamstring injury.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is hopeful midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan could recover from a knee injury to feature in the second leg in Madrid next week.

However, Mohamed Elneny - who damaged ankle ligaments against West Ham - is likely to miss the rest of the season.

"He has a little chance to play at Huddersfield," said Wenger, referring to Arsenal's final Premier League game of the season on 13 May.

"I think he will be available for Egypt at the World Cup, but not any more for Arsenal."

Striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is ineligible for Arsenal, having played for Dortmund earlier in the competition.

Diego Costa has not played since the Europa League quarter-final against Sporting Lisbon'I think this is the final'

European football writer Raphael Honigstein on the BBC Radio 5 live's Euro Leagues Football Show

I think this is the final, or should have been the final in terms of the two strongest teams left. The fact it's over two legs doesn't work in Arsenal's favour - you have seen the European know-how from Atletico in the last few years.

They have consistently knocked out better teams because they are almost a machine built for European football. They don't concede and they need one chance to score two goals.

You think it's a horrible match-up for Arsenal as they're the opposite.

European football writer Julien Laurens on the BBC Radio 5 live's Euro Leagues Football Show

I think Arsenal can definitely do it. Atletico were not that good at the weekend against Real Betis, drawing 0-0, or against Sporting Lisbon in the last round. The second leg, they lost 1-0 but it could have been 3-0. They were so bad.

Whether they have Diego Costa fit or not is a huge factor. Antoine Griezmann is not the same player when he's not there.

Winning the Europa League would be an amazing farewell for Wenger. It would be a fairytale but football is no fairytale.

Wenger faces 125th different team - the stats
  • This is the first meeting between these sides - Atletico will be the 10th Spanish side the Gunners have faced in Europe.
  • Arsenal are appearing in their eighth European semi-final - they have progressed from six of the previous seven, only failing to reach the final in 2008-09 in the Champions League when they lost to Manchester United.
  • This will be Atletico's third Europa League semi-final, winning over two legs against Liverpool in 2009-10 and Valencia in 2011-12 to reach the final in their previous two.
  • Arsenal have scored 29 goals in the Europa League this season, more than any other side. In only one previous European campaign have the Gunners scored more, netting 30 in 1999-2000 when they competed in both the Champions League and the Uefa Cup.
  • Atletico Madrid have scored 15 goals in their six Europa League games this season, giving them the best goals-per-game average in the competition (2.5).
  • Arsene Wenger will face his 125th different opponent as Arsenal boss - he has only lost his first match against 10 of the previous 124.
  • Mesut Ozil had a hand in five goals in seven starts against Atletico in all competitions (4 goals, 1 assist) when he played for Real Madrid.
  • Diego Costa has scored three goals in six matches against Arsenal (all for Chelsea), scoring in his last appearance against them at Wembley in the FA Cup final in May 2017 - he also scored the winner at the Emirates in a 1-0 victory in January 2016.
  • Diego Simeone is yet to lose an away European match in England as Atletico manager (W1 D2), with one win and a draw against Chelsea and a draw with Leicester City.
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Boyd, Brown, Forrest and McGinn up for PFA Scotland Premiership prize

4 hours 23 min ago
Celtic's James Forrest and Scott Brown are among the four Premiership nominations

Kilmarnock's Kris Boyd and Hibernian's John McGinn stand between Celtic and a fifth consecutive PFA Scotland Premiership Player of the Year award.

Celtic captain Scott Brown and fellow midfielder James Forrest are the others on the shortlist with their side on the brink of a second successive treble.

The 34-year-old Boyd has never won the award despite having led the top-flight scoring charts four times.

Midfielder McGinn has established himself as a Scotland squad regular.

Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney is in the running to win the Scottish Professional Football League Young Player of the Year award for a third year running.

Aberdeen centre-half Scott McKenna, Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos and St Mirren winger Lewis Morgan, who is on loan from Celtic, are the other nominees chosen by their fellow professionals throughout the four senior divisions.

Morgan, who was sold to Celtic in January and loaned back to St Mirren as they headed towards the Championship title and promotion, would be the first to win the award while playing outside the top flight.

Kris Boyd and John McGinn have helped their sides secure top-six finishes in the Premiership

Striker Michael Higdon, then of Motherwell, in 2012-13, and midfielder Steven Davis, for his Rangers performances in 2009-10, are the only non-Celtic players to have won the senior player of the year award in the last 12 years.

Boyd, who has 18 Scotland caps and whose 16 goals is the most in the Premiership this season, lost out to then team-mate Davis in 2010 and was last among the nominations in four years later.

Now in his second spell with Kilmarnock, the veteran striker has thrived under Steve Clarke's managership and helped his side reach the top six for the first time in seven years.

McGinn, who was PFA Scotland's Championship Player of the Year last season, helped Hibs join them there in their first season back in the top flight.

While no Hibs or Kilmarnock player has won the Premiership award previously, Brown is in line to win it for a second time, having topped the polling in 2009.

Last season, it went to Forrest's fellow winger, Scott Sinclair, while Tierney took the young player award for a second year running, having followed in the footsteps of Jason Denayer, the defender who had been on loan to Celtic from Manchester City.

Rangers' Alfredo Morelos and Celtic's Kieran Tierney are up for the SPFL Young Player of the Year award

The last non-Celtic player to win the young player award was Tierney's rival for the Scotland left-back position, Andrew Robertson, then of Dundee United and now of Liverpool, in 2014.

Colombia Under-20s striker Morelos is the only non-Scot to make the nominations list and has scored 18 goals in all competitions - three behind Boyd - since his summer transfer from HJK Helsinki.

McKenna only broke into Aberdeen's first team in September and has gone on to win two Scotland caps.

Morgan is also in the running to be Championship player of the year, with nominations for the second tier, League One and League Two having been announced last week.

The winners will be announced at the PFA Scotland awards dinner in Glasgow on 29 April.

NominationsScottish Premiership Player of the Year

Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock): Striker. Aged 34. Former clubs: Rangers, Middlesbrough, Nottingham Forest, Eskisehirspor and Portland Timbers, 18 Scotland caps. 21 goals in 38 appearances.

Scott Brown (Celtic): Midfielder. Aged 32. In 11th season with Celtic since joining from Hibernian. Retired from Scotland duty with 55 caps. Captained Celtic to League Cup final win over Motherwell, one win away from seventh consecutive title and face Well in Scottish Cup final. Premier League Player of the Year 2008-09.

James Forrest (Celtic): Winger. Aged 26, product of Celtic youth system, 20 Scotland caps. 16 goals in 58 appearances.

John McGinn (Hibernian): Midfielder. Aged 23. Joined Hibs from St Mirren in 2015, seven Scotland caps. 6 goals in 43 appearances.

SPFL Young Player of the Year

Scott McKenna (Aberdeen): Centre-half. Aged 21. First season in Aberdeen first team after loan spells with Ayr United and Alloa Athletic. Won two Scotland caps.

Alfredo Morelos (Rangers): Striker. Aged 21. Joined Rangers from HJK Helsinki in June, Colombia Under-20 international. 18 goals in 40 appearances.

Lewis Morgan (St Mirren, on loan from Celtic): Winger. Aged 21. Started with Rangers youths before coming through St Mirren's youth system, sold to Celtic in January and loaned back. 18 goals in 41 appearances helped the Buddies win the Championship title and promotion.

Kieran Tierney (Celtic): Left-back. Aged 20. Product of Celtic youth system, nine Scotland caps. SPFL Young Player of the Year 2015-16 and 2016-17.

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Leeds United's Myanmar tour: Andrea Radrizzani defends post-season trip

5 hours 7 min ago
Andrea Radrizzani says Leeds will go to Myanmar to "share the famous values and ethos of Leeds United"

Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani has said the decision to go on a post-season tour of Myanmar was "carefully considered".

The Championship side are scheduled to play fixtures on 9 and 11 May in the country, where families have fled their homes because of military operations.

Shadow sports minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan called the trip "morally corrupt".

However, Radrizzani said he believes the trip can "have a positive impact on the local community".

Leeds are due to face a Myanmar National League All-Star team in Yangon, also known as Rangoon, and the country's national team in Mandalay.

In those areas, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) guidance is to "check travel advice before travelling".

The FCO advises against "all but essential travel" in some other areas of Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Nearly 700,000 of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim minority have fled the country since August because of ongoing military operations in Rakhine.

The United Nations described the issues in the northern Rakhine province as a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing".

Radrizzani said he was aware of the "serious issues" in the country but that it was a "beautiful place filled with incredibly warm and welcoming people".

He added: "This was a carefully considered decision and we knew it would be controversial, but this is about people not governments.

"It has never been my intention, nor that of the club, to get involved in a political debate in Myanmar.

"However, if because of the tour we further highlight the ongoing serious issues in certain areas of the country, then maybe that is a positive thing."

U Ko Ko Thein, general secretary of the Myanmar Football Federation, told Myanmar Frontier