Hazard: I will go to Real or Arsenal  

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Lille teenager Eden Hazard has listed Real Madrid and Arsenal as possible future destinations should he ever leave the Stade Metropole.

Hazard, 19, is regarded as one of the brightest young talents in Europe after emerging as the creative force behind Lille's Ligue 1 title challenge and their run to the round of 16 in the Europa League.

Former France playmaker Zinedine Zidane said of the young Belgian on Thursday: "He can become a great footballer. He is a star of the future."

And Hazard admits following in Zidane's footsteps and playing for Madrid is a possibility.

He said: "Such praise makes me very happy, especially from Zidane. If one day I leave Lille, I will go to Real or Arsenal."

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Premier League Ratings: Arsenal 1-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers  

Gunners leave it late to keep title hopes alive...


Manuel Almunia - 7 - Had to be on his toes on a handful of occasions to thwart the Wolves attack but all in all, a comfortable afternoon for the Spaniard.

Bacary Sagna - 7 - Was given freedom to attack thanks to a non-existent Wolves left midfield, and the Frenchman linked up well with Theo Walcott. Managed to deliver a couple of probing crosses and overlapped to limited success.

Sol Campbell - 6.5 - Had little to cope with, but looked calm and composed. Like the Campbell of old.

Thomas Vermaelen - 7 - Rarely tested by a limp Wolves attack, and enjoyed a decent partnership with Sol Campbell at the heart of the Arsenal defence.

Mickael Silvestre - 7 - Had to deal with the tricky Matt Jarvis - who was Wolves' most effective player - and was found wanting on a couple of occasions. Nearly got himself on the scoresheet but shot right at Hahnemann in the first half.

Emmanuel Eboue - 6 - A quiet game for the Ivorian, who cut a frustrated figure at times, much like his manager on the sidelines.

Alexandre Song - 6 - Failed to shine in a game with plenty of possession for the home side.

Denilson - 5.5 - Most fans will have hardly noticed the little Brasilian, as the game mostly passed him by without any sort of knowing impact.

Theo Walcott - 8 - Took it upon himself to try and win the game for the Gunners, with a series of marauding runs down the right. Often found Elokobi in resolute form, but managed to get in a handful of crosses.

Eduardo - 7 - Looked far from fit or sharp enough to be the match-winner he has been in the past.

Tomas Rosicky - 8 - Looked sharp and inventive as Arsenal looked for a goal and had a number of shots but found Hahnemann in fine form.

Nicklas Bendtner - 7.5 - Put himself about but did little before nodding in Sagna's cross to win the game for the Gunners. It was an excellent header and saved Wenger's blushes.

Samir Nasri - 7 - Was thrown on in an attacking move, and the little Frenchman looked neat and tidy, slicing Wolves open with a couple of neat flicks.

Carlos Vela - n/a


Marcus Hahnemann - 9 - Man of the Match by a mile, thwarting Arsenal on numerous occasions. The pick of the bunch was a left-handed claw of the ball from an Eduardo placed shot.

Ronald Zubar - 7 - Tried to press forward but mostly found himself camped in his own half dealing with the runs of Rosicky and Eduardo.

Jody Craddock - 7.5 - Dealt with most things Arsenal chucked his way, especially in the air, and marshalled his defence well.

Christophe Berra - 7 - Stood strong against the tricky Arsenal forwards and gave Eduardo little space to work with. A few last ditch tackles nearly earned his side a point.

George Elokobi - 7.5 - Given a tough task when Mick McCarthy asked him to deal with Theo Walcott's jinking runs, and the left-back was often found wanting, but managed to put in a few knowing challenges.

Karl Henry - 6.5 - Had little impact on the game, and his afternoon was rounded off with a silly red card for a rash challenge on Roscky.

Kevin Foley - 7 - Spent most of the match chasing the ball, but worked hard to thwart the Gunners midfielders and limit chances.

Michael Mancienne - 8 - Snapped at Rosicky's heals and protected his defence well with a hard-working display. Used the ball well when he did find it at his feet.

David Jones - 6 - Quiet game from Jones, who had little impact.

Matthew Jarvis - 7 - Tried his best to tie the Arsenal defence in knots, and often had joy against the sluggish Silvestre, but found clear chances hard to come by.

Kevin Doyle - 6.5 - A lonely figure up front, chances were very limited for Wolves' main goal threat. Was taken off midway through the second half.


David Edwards - 6 - Worked hard against the Arsenal midfield but was left behind by Rosicky and Nasri on a few occasions.

Andy Keogh - 6.5 - Put in a good shift up front on his own, but found chances very limited.

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Champions League - Barcelona held after Arsenal fight back  

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Arsenal fought back from two goals down to hold holders Barcelona to a barnstorming 2-2 draw in their Champions League quarter-final first leg at the Emirates.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's brace gave the visitors a deserved two-goal cushion before the hour mark, but the introduction of Theo Walcott gave Arsenal a new dynamism and goals from the England forward and Cesc Fabregas gave the hosts parity on the night.

Barcelona take the away goals advantage into the second leg, although they will be without captain Carles Puyol, who was sent off for a foul on Fabregas that gave him his goal from the penalty spot.

Fabregas will also miss the return tie at his boyhood club after picking up a third booking of the competition, although it is doubtful he would have been able to play anyway after ending the match limping around the field injured with the Gunners having used all three substitutes.

Indeed, it was a poor night for the Premier League challengers on the fitness front, with William Gallas and Andrei Arshavin both taken off in the first half.

Their replacements, initially wowed by the free-flowing Catalans, more than impressed with their fight-back although the injury to Gallas was key as midfielder Alexandre Song - forced to move to centre-half - lost Ibrahimovic for both goals.

But the Gunners showed great resolve to draw level and by the end they were all over the visitors, reduced to 10 men and reliant on calm goalkeeping from Victor Valdes.

Much had been made of Ibrahimovic’s failure to shine in the Champions League, particularly against English opposition, but he answered the doubters with a superb salvo early in the second half, having looked a touch nervous in the opening 45 minutes.

A similar level of hype accompanied the threat of Lionel Messi, but the Argentine - widely regarded as the best player in the world - was anonymous in one of his worst performances for the Blaugrana in recent memory.

Ibrahimovic’s finishes were majestic: the first, 25 seconds into the second half, was a delicate lob from an angle over the onrushing Manuel Almunia, while the second on the hour was blasted into the roof of the net after Arsenal’s defence parted for the Swede.

Pep Guardiola’s side dominated the opening exchanges, racking up 12 efforts and a possession ratio of 70-30 in the first half hour, with Arsenal restricted to a sole shot when Samir Nasri sent a curler just wide of the far post.

The Gunners stayed in it thanks to some poor shooting from Ibrahimovic and an inspired first-half performance from Spanish goalkeeper Almunia.

Almunia, who has expressed an interest in playing for England after nearly six years in the country, made a series of top-class stops including one remarkable triple save to deny Ibrahimovic, Xavi and Messi.

Arsenal largely shackled Messi, and in the latter stages of the half Arsene Wenger’s side grew into the game and were a match for Barca, pressing higher up the pitch and going close on two occasions.

On 35 minutes, excellent wing-play by Niklas Bendtner culminated in a brilliant cross for Abou Diaby, who beat Gerard Pique and Daniel Alves to the header only for the ball to bounce wide.

Two minutes later, the blushes of both Bendtner and Alves were spared by the linesman’s flag when the Brazil full-back missed Nasri’s cross and the Denmark striker first fired against Valdes before putting the rebound on the post.

Fabregas started despite carrying a knee problem and looked off the pace before, just before the break, he picked up a harsh booking for a challenge on Sergio Busquets that ruled him out of an emotional return leg to his boyhood club.

Things went from bad to worse for the Gunners as, 23 seconds after the second-half restart, Song allowed Ibrahimovic to get between him and Thomas Vermaelen with Gael Clichy pulled wide, while Almunia was perhaps a little quick to race off his line to head off the danger.

Ibrahimovic, off form in recent months, spotted the half chance and lofted an inch-perfect chip over the onrushing keeper that curved delicately inside the far post.

Arsenal were desperate for a goal and almost levelled when Bendtner powered a header on target after good work from Clichy on the left.

But Valdes was well-placed and Barca nearly got another on the counter as Xavi headed wide from close range after Alves exploited Clichy’s up-field position.

They bagged their second five minutes later when, after Clichy was pulled wide, Vermaelen was dragged away from goal by Messi and Ibrahimovic was given the freedom of the penalty area by the ball-watching Song.

His finish into the roof of the net was as emphatic as his first was deft and the match looked out of sight for the Gunners.

They battled gamely enough though and, soon after coming off the bench, Walcott raced away from Maxwell and rifled a low shot in off Valdes to give Arsenal hope.

Pressing higher up the pitch and right in the tiring visitors’ faces, Arsenal were cutting Barca apart and, after more good wide-play by Walcott, Bendtner cleverly nodded the ball down to Fabregas, who collided with Puyol to earn a penalty.

A bewildered Puyol was given his marching orders, and will miss the return, while fellow Catalan Fabregas rifled the spot-kick into the bottom left with five minutes left, his last act in the tie.

It was effectively 10-a-side though, as Fabregas appeared to injure himself and returned to the field after receiving some treatment, barely mobile in the closing stages.

Arsenal still had the edge though, with calm keeping by Valdes keeping them at bay, and a topsy-turvy first leg ended in a compelling draw that - while giving Barca the advantage - is finely balanced for the return a week on Wednesday.
Reda Maher / Eurosport

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