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Arsenal To Clash With Chelsea On Boxing Day

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Arsenal faces Chelsea in a London derby on Boxing Day as the Gunners look to record their first league victory in almost a month.

The last time the two teams met was on Boxing Day in 2001 and Arsenal won 2 – 1.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta believes Boxing Day opponents Chelsea boast the “strongest squad” in the Premier League as he looks to guide his team to a first domestic win in nearly two months.

Mikel Arteta’s side have taken just two points from a possible 21 since the win over Manchester United on November 1, and are edging ever close to the relegation zone where they currently sit in 15th place.

The recent league defeat to Everton at Goodison Park was Arsenal’s seventh loss in 10 games and they face Brighton on Tuesday and West Brom next Saturday with both teams languishing around the drop zone.

“The next seven to eight days are going to be crucial to see where we’re going to be heading to in the Premier League,” said Arteta in his pre-match press conference.

“People are suffering, we are hurting and you have to get back, be the leader again and try to push the players. The players respond and are excited again for the game. That’s happening but the best medicine is to win against Chelsea.”

“We have to stand up and we have to pick up the points. Let’s draw a line and move forward. Whether it’s bad luck or these things that are affecting our results, they have to change dramatically.”

Chelsea are targeting top four this season and have a young manager in Frank Lampard, but the contrast in team’s fortunes can be seen with the nine point gap between both sides.

Arteta is expected to make a number of changes from the team who were defeated 4-1 by Manchester City in the Carabao Cup quarter-final earlier in the week.

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African Cup of Nations Enters Round of 16

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The 33rd edition of the African Cup of Nations being held in Cameroon kicked off from January 9 and the final whistle will blow on February 6, 2022.

The  extremely entertaining  competition has completed group stage encounters and has entered the round of 16. This means only 16 of the original 24 teams remain standing, with eight teams heading home.

All the first-place and second-place finishers of the group stage qualified for the knockout round, while the four best third-placed teams made it through to complete the field of 16 teams.

African powers Ghana and Algeria were both eliminated in the group stage.

For Algeria, the defending champion fell flat in its title defense, while Ghana failed to reach the knockout round for the first time since 2002.

On the flip side, Cape Verde advanced to the knockout stage for just the second time in the nation’s history, following up its 2013 showing when it reached the quarterfinals.

Tiny Comoros also moved on in its first-ever appearance at the AFCON tournament.

It was the final team to make it through as a third-place finisher, with Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau missing out.

Here is the schedule for the forthcoming round of 16 kicking off on Sunday.

Taarifa will bring you prompt updates of the action packed tournament.

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Watch out For Arsenals 16-year-old Lino Da Cruz Sousa

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Arsenal have completed the signing of 16-year-old Lino Da Cruz Sousa, Taarifa Sports desk understands.

The left back, who is of Brazilian heritage, played two years above his age group for West Brom Under-18’s last season and has been earmarked as a potential star of the future by those within London Colney.

Sousa will turn 17 later this month and has already trained with his new teammates.

According to West Brom’s official website, Sousa is a widely versatile left back who has caught the attention of several Premier League sides due to his fantastic dribbling ability and close control.

The youngster was called up for an England training camp in March 2020 and he’s gone on to represent the Young Lions at under-15 and 16 level.

In addition to featuring in a higher age group for West Brom, the left back started a Premier League 2 match against Newcastle in February 2021.

“Lino’s an athletic full-back, reads the game well, has a lovely left foot and it’s not often a 16-year-old plays an entire season with the 18s, but that’s credit to him because he has so much potential,” said West Brom under-18’s coach Peter Gilbert.

Academy chief Per Mertesacker had earmarked the left back position as one particular area where the Gunners need to strengthen at academy level.

Meanwhile, Arsenal have made available several academy players for loan in January.

Tim Akinola, Zak Swanson, James Olayinka and Ryan Alebiosu are among the players set for the next stage of their development, with Folarin Balogun putting the finishing touches to his Middlesbrough loan move on Monday afternoon.

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Kessié Coming in, Ndombele leaving Tottenham

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Franck Kessié currently larging it up at the Africa Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast, for whom he scored on Thursday as they guaranteed qualification for the knockout stages, eliminating reigning champions Algeria in the process, could be on his way to the Premier League.

Tottenham Hotspur are ready to make Milan a decent offer for the 25-year-old midfielder before the January window closes, in the hope of avoiding an unseemly bidding war for his services with Manchester United, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain when his contract expires in the summer.

Spurs see Kessie as the ideal replacement for Tanguy Ndombele, who looks increasingly likely to go on loan to PSG, in a deal which could include an option for the runaway Ligue 1 leaders to buy at the end of the season.

Newcastle United remain interested in bringing Jesse Lingard on loan to St James’ Park until the end of the season and have made a new and improved offer after having a previous one rejected.

Lingard is reported to be interested in the move but Manchester United want to cash in with a permanent deal for the 29-year-old, who will be a free agent in June.

Newcastle are also reported to have submitted a £14.5m for Bayer Leverkusen’s Dutch left-back Mitchel Bakker and are inching closer to completing their £30m deal for Sevilla central defender Diego Carlos, despite facing competition from another unnamed Premier League club.

With Bernd Leno also rumoured to be off to Tyneside, Arsenal will try to sign New England Revolution’s Matt Turner as a replacement for their reserve goalkeeper.

After returning home early from Afcon following the detection of heart lesions after testing positive for Covid, Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang has taken to Instagram to provide fans with a medical update.

“Hi guys, I came back to London to do some additional checks, and I’m very happy to say that my heart is absolutely fine and I’m completely healthy!!” he or one of his people wrote in a message accompanied by a beaming Pierre giving a thumbs-up in the gym.

“Really appreciate all the messages over the last few days and I’m already back at it.”

The news will be welcomed by Milan, Juventus, PSG, Marseille and Sevilla, who are all interested in taking the out-of-favour Gabon international on loan.

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