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Australia to ‘get in faces’ of Saudi Arabia in World Cup qualifier – Arnold

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Australia will look to put Saudi Arabia on the back foot from the first whistle in their pivotal World Cup qualifier in Sydney, coach Graham Arnold said on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia, the only side with maximum points in the current phase of Asian qualifying, lead Australia by three points at the top of Group B after four straight wins.

The top two from the group qualify automatically for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar while the third-place finishers enter a series of playoffs.

“We know that Saudi’s been on a good run and we also know they’ve played a lot of games at home in that run,” Arnold told reporters ahead of Thursday’s clash at Western Sydney Stadium.

“So I expect our mentality tomorrow night will be to get in their faces and to make sure that we’re on the front foot right from the start and not give them any time to play.”

Australia, who lost to Japan 2-1 in Saitama in their last qualifier, are missing the playmaking duo of Tom Rogic and Aaron Mooy but will have home fan support for the first time in over two years.

With the country having shut its borders in early 2020 after the outbreak of Covid-19, a number of Arnold’s overseas-based players caught up with family members this week for the first time in years.

“Controlling that (emotion) is something that I’ve been working on extremely hard,” said Arnold.

“I believe that the greatest energy that can be given to the players is to see their family.

“Knowing that their families (are) obviously there behind them but also that they will be in the grandstand, that’s the best energy they could ever have — rather than coming here and not being able to see them until after the game.”

Read Also: EPL: Ferdinand says it is time for Solskjaer to leave Man Utd

Coming home has allowed Arnold to pick four A-League players, including seasoned winger Mathew Leckie.

The home-based players are still only in pre-season but Leckie said the adrenaline of playing for local fans could make up for a lack of match fitness.

“Sometimes regardless of how you feel physically, it’s more of a mental thing,” he said.

“We’ll definitely be coming out here with a heap of energy.”

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Ligue 1: Marseille stunned by in-form Brest

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Marseille missed the chance to cement their grip on second place in the Ligue 1 table on Saturday as Jorge Sampaoli’s side threw away the lead to lose 2-1 at home to a Brest team on a record winning run.

Brazilian international Gerson gave Marseille a first-half lead at the Velodrome with his second goal in as many games after playing a one-two with captain Dimitri Payet.

However, Brest drew level early in the second half as Romain Faivre scored a penalty awarded for a handball by Boubacar Kamara.

Franck Honorat then crashed a superb winner in off the underside of the crossbar as the side from Brittany made it six successive league wins, the best run in their history in the top flight.

Read Also: EPL: Masuaku fluke helps West Ham beat Chelsea in London derby

They are up to sixth, while Marseille remain second, 12 points behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain who are in action later on Saturday at Lens.

Kylian Mbappe could be rested for a PSG side already missing the injured Neymar, but Lionel Messi — who won the Ballon d’Or for the seventh time on Monday — should start.

Marseille could drop down the table depending on results elsewhere this weekend, with Rennes and Nice both sitting within two points of the former Champions League winners.

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Bernardo stars again as Man City move to top of EPL with Watford win

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Bernardo Silva continued his scintillating form as Manchester City surged to the top of the Premier League table with a comfortable 3-1 victory at struggling Watford.

Raheem Sterling opened the scoring with a simple header on four minutes as the visitors threatened to run riot against the home side’s porous defence.

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Jack Grealish had several chances to double the advantage before the in-form Bernardo fizzed in a rebound from a narrow angle just past the half hour.

 

City continued to pose all of the questions following the restart and Bernardo grabbed his seventh goal of the season with a wonderful curler that flew into the top corner on 63 minutes.

For long spells it looked like a case of how many for the visitors but Watford did give the home support some cheer when substitute Cucho Hernandez acrobatically volleyed in a rebound 16 minutes from time.

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The result means City take advantage of former leaders Chelsea’s defeat at West Ham earlier in the day to move a point clear of second-placed Liverpool at the summit. Watford remain three points above the drop zone in 17th spot.

Pep Guardiola’s men will now turn their focus to Tuesday’s Champions League clash at RB Leipzig having already guaranteed top spot in Group A before hosting Wolves in the Premier League on Saturday. Watford travel to Brentford on Friday evening.

 

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EPL: Origi nets in stoppage time as Liverpool take advantage of Chelsea slip

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