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Sports

AFP
February 10, 2018

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Spurs aim to gun down new-look Arsenal

LONDON: Tottenham host Arsenal at Wembley this weekend aiming to crush the optimism created by the Gunners´ new-look forward line while Manchester City face Leicester at the Etihad.

Elsewhere, Antonio Conte´s Chelsea welcome West Brom with the Italian manager´s job looking precarious following embarrassing back-to-back defeats to Bournemouth and Watford.

Leaders City host Leicester, who will be relieved after Mahrez hit back at accusations he had gone AWOL after returning to training with them, paving the way for a possible return, while Manchester United travel to Newcastle and Southampton welcome back Virgil van Dijk in a Liverpool shirt.

Excitement coursed around the Emirates last weekend as Arsenal´s club-record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored on his debut and Henrikh Mkhitaryan conjured three assists in a 5-1 demolition of Everton.

A tougher task awaits at Wembley on Saturday (today) against a high-flying Tottenham side, who have not lost in 11 games.Spurs are currently in fifth but would climb into third — at least temporarily — with victory and move seven points ahead of sixth-placed Arsenal.

Mauricio Pochettino´s squad looks in fine shape to handle the demands of three competitions in the coming months with the return of Erik Lamela, Victor Wanyama, Harry Winks and Serge Aurier from injury to complement the arrival of Lucas Moura from Paris Saint-Germain.

“Now we are 24 players and it will be tough to find a place in the starting XI for everyone — 24 players that fight to be on the starting XI every single game,” said the upbeat Spurs boss.Mahrez, 26, has missed two Premier League matches and had not trained with the team since the move he desperately wanted to runaway leaders City fell through due to Leicester´s demands on January 31, transfer deadline day.

“Over the past 10 days many people claiming to be my friend have spoken about me and things they know nothing about,” Mahrez said in a statement carried by the Leicester Mercury.

“Off the back of that many people and journalists have made assumptions without properly checking the story, so I would like to clarify that all those so-called assumptions of why I was absent are completely untrue.

“Myself nor my advisors have ever made any statements about that so all presumptions made are totally without foundation. Leicester City were always aware of my whereabouts and had knowledge of my thinking either directly or via my advisors.”

Leicester have struggled without their star midfielder, losing 2-1 at Everton before drawing with struggling Swansea City 1-1 at home last weekend.Chelsea boss Antonio Conte said he would not lose sleep over the possibility of losing his job following a 4-1 defeat at Watford and he has a great chance to turn the corner with a match against bottom club West Brom at Stamford Bridge on Monday.

With a series of ominous-looking ties looming, failure to win could see a new boss put in charge for the business end of the season at a club used to dispensing with their managers just months after winning silverware.

Chelsea face Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on February 20 before visiting both Manchester United and Manchester City in the league and then making the return trip to the Camp Nou on March 14.Rafael Benitez, Avram Grant, Roberto di Matteo and Guus Hiddink (twice) have been drafted in to tide Chelsea over during the Roman Abramovich era.

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