All four English teams in the UEFA Champions League have qualified for the last 16 this season with former champions Manchester United and Chelsea going through as group winners, while Arsenal and Manchester City qualified as runners up of their respective groups. Here’s a look at what that means for the English quartet, and who they could end up facing in the round of 16 when the draw for the knockout rounds takes place on Monday.
Manchester United topped Group A with 14 points from their 6 games, going unbeaten in the group stages this season. As a reward for coming out on top they have a reasonably easy second round in prospect with the likes of Galatasaray, Olympiakos, Schalke, Zenit St Petersburg or AC Milan lying in wait. Amongst these, giant killers Galatasaray, who stunned Juventus yesterday may be the ones to avoid with 7-time champions AC Milan hardly the force they once were in the competition. Mario Balotelli though would probably enjoy a return to Manchester!
Arsenal consider bid for Antoine Griezmann
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is reportedly lining up a 20 million pound bid for Real Sociedad winger Antoine Griezmann, according to the Metro. While Arsenal also have enough players capable of playing on the wings, one reckons that Wenger might want to use German international Lukas Podolski in a more central role should he sign Griezmann in January.
Spurs frontrunners to sign Berba
North Londoners Tottenham Hotspur are believed to be leading the race to acquire the services of Fulham forward Dimitar Berbatov, reports The Daily Express. The Bulgarian is believed to be vying for a move away from Craven Cottage this winter, with Arsenal and West Ham also suggested to be hot on his trail.
Arsenal, Napoli and Inter lock horns over Rafael
Arsenal, Napoli and Inter Milan are believed to be vying for Manchester United ace Rafael, reports The Daily Express. The Brazilian has been an immensely useful player for the Red Devils but has seen questions being raised over his future at the club.
Ranocchia to put in transfer request
Inter Milan star Andrea Ranocchia is believed to be contemplating handing in a transfer request at the San Siro soon, reports The Daily Express. The Italian is reported to be a target for Premier League sides Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur this winter.
Sanabria may be closer to Arsenal move
Barcelona youngster Antonio Sanabria may be on the verge of a move to Arsenal, reports El Mundo Deportivo. Reports in the Spanish newspaper suggest that the Paraguayan has verbally agreed to offers from an unnamed club, with the side in question believed to be either of the Gunners or AS Roma.
Cabaye drops PSG hints
Newcastle United playmaker Yohan Cabaye has dropped hints of being wishful of a move to Paris Saint-Germain. The Frenchman, who is also on the wishlist of Arsenal and Manchester United, has been quoted in The Daily Star, saying: "As far as I know, there has been no contact with Paris Saint-Germain. Who wouldn't want to join PSG today?"
Jose Mourinho’s lack of efficient personnel to cover for the John Terry - Gary Cahill partnership at the back, has led the Portuguese manager to identify 19 year old Kurt Zouma as a key transfer target in January, as reported by the Daily Mirror. Zouma is reported to have a host of suitors in line for his signature, including Premier League giants Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United, mega-rich French club Monaco and Italian clubs Napoli and Inter Milan.
Zouma started his footballing journey in Vaulx-en-Velin, located in the Northeast part of the French city of Lyon in 2003. He stayed there till 2009, when he decided to move to the Southwest and joined St. Etienne. His formative years continued for 2 years. He made his debut for the senior team at the end of August 2011 in the French League Cup against Bordeaux, after signing a three year deal before the season began.
Southampton put in a plucky performance to get a deserved point from their match against Manchester City at the Saint Mary’s Stadium on Saturday. The Saints came into the fixture in poor form, losing three matches on the trot while City had been turning on the style at home, but were poor travellers, winning just 2 of their away matches this season. On the balance of play, Southampton were the dominant team and had the better chances, but they could not make them count and had to settle for a point against the Premier League title contenders.
Mauricio Pochettino was unable to name a full-strength side for the match, with 7 players including regulars Victor Wanyama, Nathaniel Clyne, Morgan Schneiderlin and Artur Boruc nursing injuries. The Saints side had many youth players filling the bench, City meanwhile had no such worries. Manuel Pellegrini made two changes to his lineup from the last match day team at West Bromwich Albion, with James Milner and Alvaro Negredo starting this time out.
Midweek action returned to the Premier League after a long hiatus and the big guns continued to enthral as a massive 32 goals were scored in the 9 matches that took place on Wednesday night. Arsenal maintained their 4 point cushion over the chasing pack with a comfortable 2-0 win at home against Hull City, while Everton picked up the result of the night beating Manchester United at Old Traffors for the first time in over two decades. There were also wins for the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham as a clear hierarchy continued to be established in the league.
Here's how the games unfolded...