Man Utd Look to Be Third Time Lucky in the Hardest of Places; Young Nigerian ’Keeper Okonkwo Helps Arsenal Deal Chelsea Blow

By Daily Sports on April 16, 2019

Views: 3,545

Even with the dread of the great Lionel Messi in the horizon, there’s still cautious optimism amongst Manchester United faithful that the Red Devils can pull a surprise and overturn the 0-1 home loss deficit last week and eliminate Barcelona in the return leg of their European Champions league cracker.

Camp Nou awaits two of the finest sides of club football in the world on Tuesday night and the ground would remain at its intimidating best, roaring the Blaugrana as they chase a Champions League semi-final place against United.

On the strength of last week’s total dominance of United by Barcelona at Old Trafford in the first leg, and watching United labour to a 2-1 win against visiting West Ham in the English premier league, the task for Barca to knock Man United out looks easy on paper.

Even United’s new permanent manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sees his team losing by nothing less than five goals to nil if they play the way they did against West Ham on Saturday.

Yet, there’s still a good dose of optimism in United’s fandom that their darling team could still pull off an upset. This optimism is borne out of the two shocking away wins against formidable opponents in this Champions League season and the club’s very interesting history of coming back from the dead to snatch wins.

United have gone away to silence the great Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus fans by winning at the latter’s Allianz stadium 1-2 in Turin under sacked manager Jose Mourinho. That defeat came in the middle of Man United’s stuttering league form, but the Red Devils players had the needed drive to go get a win in a very difficult ground.

Then there was that second round away triumph against PSG after the Parisians had outplayed and beaten United 0-2 at Old Trafford.

Mecurial young striker Marcus Rashford held his nerves to score a late goal from the spot to earn Man United a 1-3 away win in the return leg in Paris, a result which cemented the respect for then caretaker manager Solskjaer who was subsequently elevated to the status of permanent manager. United's performance that night was intelligent as they sat deep to soak lots of PSG pressure and sprang into counter attacks at the right time to cause panic in the PSG defence which resulted in an improbable three away goals and a place in the quarter finals.

Now they face Lionel Messi and Barcelona in a do or die battle at the revered Camp Nou. If there’s any task harder than winning at Juventus and PSG, this is it.

Barcelona played in some way like the retired boxing great Floyd Mayweather in the first leg to earn a 0-1 win. They had a controlled performance, outplaying United for most of the game but not forcing things too much, showing the class to reserve their energy and dulling any attacking moves of their hosts and giving a sense that they were holding the killer punch for much later.

With Messi who can decide any contest on his own in the pitch scheming, darting and slaloming, and, of course, a Barca team that can strangulate opponents with dazzling possession-based football, there lies the feeling amongst many that United’s luck and historic fighting spirit  would not triumph at Camp Nou on Tuesday night.

But this is just one match where an inspired move by a Pogba or Martial say, could just put Solskjaer’s boys in front and from there anything could happen. It could be a blitz of a performance by Barca to extinguish all United’s hopes or a gritty performance from the club whose very tradition suits a night as daunting as the one at camp Nou on Tuesday.


Arthur Okonkwo in fine form as Arsenal win against Chelsea

Young Nigerian goalkeeper Arthur Nwankwo was in inspiring form on Monday night to help Arsenal’s under-23 side beat Chelsea’s under-23 away 3-1 in an English Premier League 2 clash.

Arsenal’s official website in its post-match reports says that Eddie Nketiah delivered a masterclass on Monday night, scoring twice in the 3-1 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Carl Jenkinson also found the back of the net, helping Arsenal to extend their unbeaten streak to eight Premier League 2 fixtures.

The young Gunners fired five past Derby County last time out – and once again wasted no time in displaying their attacking intent, with Nketiah opening the scoring inside eight minutes.

The 19-year-old’s low drive from the edge of the area was all too much for Karlo Ziger.

Shortly after Bukayo Saka threatened the Blues defence with a number of darting runs, before Nketiah scored his second, cutting in from the right to find the top corner with a stunning strike.

Chelsea then pushed forward in search of a lifeline – and this allowed Jenkinson to make it three on the stroke of half-time, providing the finishing touch to a blistering counter-attack.

Following the break, Arthur Okonkwo made fine saves to deny Joseph Colley and Conor Gallagher, but he was eventually beaten in the 83rd minute by Daishawn Redan.

That was the first goal the 17-year-old has conceded since making his PL2 debut against West Ham.

Okonkwo has been receiving rave reviews for his performances for Arsenal’s youth team. The youth team coach Freddie Ljunjberg recently praised Okonkwo’s distribution from the back, one of which was an assist that jeloed the Under -23 Arsenal team to a recent victory.

Nigeria must surely keep a firm eye on Okonkwo as there seems a dearth of goalkeepers of international standard in the country.


•Photo shows fast-rising Arsenal goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo

Source Daily Sports

Posted April 16, 2019


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