Written by Sarah NEGEDU

’Are you brain dead?!’ – Pepe slammed for head butt against Leeds

Arsenal winger Nicolas Pepe has been slated for his "idiotic" red card against Leeds in the Premier League on Sunday.

Pepe was sent off in the 51st minute of the match after referee Anthony Taylor was alerted to a possible head butt when Leeds defender Ezgjan Alioski went down.

Following a VAR review it was clear that Pepe had indeed head butted Alioski, giving Taylor no choice but to show Pepe a straight red card in a match that was scoreless. Leeds were, however, unable to make the most of their man advantage as the game would finish 0-0.

Pepe was making just his second Premier League start of the season and after his red card, it may be some time before Gunners head coach Mikel Arteta hands him another opportunity.

 

Okoye shines as Sparta Rotterdam decimate ADO Den Haag

Maduka Okoye put up an impressive showing for Sparta Rotterdam as the Castle Lords brushed aside ADO Den Haag 6-0 in Sunday’s Eredivisie outing.

Inspired by two goals each from Lennart Thy and Mario Engels, Henk Fraser’s men strolled past the visitors as they recorded their second win of the 2020-21 campaign.

Abdou Harroui had the first chance at goal but his header off a corner kick by Sven Mijnans rarely threatened the goalkeeper.

Sparta started the game on a dangerous note, although they only got their breakthrough in the 44th minute courtesy of Thy, who fired a low cross from Luuk Koopmans past goalkeeper Luuk Koopmans.

The visitors came back stronger in the second half, however, it was the hosts who doubled their lead through Mijnans in the 53rd minute.

Three minutes later, Bryan Smeets assisted Netherlands youth international of Moroccan descent Harroui before Thy completed his brace in the 59th minute courtesy of Deroy Duarte’s assist.

In the six-goal demolition, substitute Engels completed the rout with a late brace as struggling Ruud Brood’s team returned home with heads bowed low.

Okoye was in action from start to finish for his side, while Harroui was replaced in the 68th minute by Laros Duarte. Cape Verde duo of Lorenzo Fonseca and Jeffry Fortes were not dressed for action by manager Fraser.

 

Iseka penalty preserves Metz’s unbeaten run vs Nantes

Aaron Iseka found the net as Metz played out a 1-1 draw with Nantes in Sunday’s Ligue 1 encounter.

Unbeaten in their last seven games, the Maroons came to the La Beaujoire-Louis Fonteneau with the ambition of continuing their fine run, and that they achieved despite conceding first.

Without Nigeria international Moses Simon, who is still out due to injury, Christian Gourcuff’s men took the lead after 28 minutes through Randal Kolo Muani.

Profiting from a Sebastien Corchia’s assist, the France youth international, who is also eligible to feature for Congo DR, rifled in an unstoppable shot past stranded goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja.

In a game they completely dominated, Nantes had a couple of chances to double their lead, however, they were wasteful in the final third.

On the stroke of half-time, Frederic Antonetti’s men were presented with a chance to equalise after referee Benoit Millot pointed to the spot as VAR showed that Fabio had handled the ball while trying to challenge a goal-bound Lamine Gueye.

Iseka made no mistakes in converting the resulting kick – sending goalkeeper Alban Lafont the wrong way.

 

Solskjaer predicts tight Premier League title race

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not believe there will be a runaway Premier League champion in the 2020-21 season.

Liverpool powered to the title by a mammoth 18 points last term. The previous season the Reds and Manchester City drew 25 points clear of the rest of the league, while in 2017-18 Pep Guardiola’s City routed the division by 19 points and in 2016-17 Chelsea were well clear in winning the title.

It is early in the current campaign, but only four points separate the top six in the division - and the lead has changed hands on a regular basis.

Solskjaer saw his side leap four places to 10th in the table courtesy of a gritty 1-0 win over West Brom on Saturday, and he feels it will be a tight battle for the title - a sentiment echoed by Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho.

"The league this season is going to be inconsistent with ups and downs," he told BT Sport. "It's unpredictable - we've seen some results today and it's not really settling.

"Like Jose said, one win moves you up the table, one defeat moves you closer to the bottom.

"It's very tight, it's very early on and points are more important than performances sometimes."

 

Eriksen can leave in January, Inter CEO confirms

Christian Eriksen is free to leave Inter in January, club chief executive officer Beppe Marotta has confirmed.

Denmark international Eriksen arrived in Milan last January, billed as the man to provide a creative spark that could prompt a Serie A title challenge at the Giuseppe Meazza.

However, his form has been poor and there has been widespread speculation that manager Antionio Conte is ready to cut his losses and let the midfielder leave.

This has now been confirmed by Marotta, who says Nerazzurri are ready to listen to offers for the former Tottenham man.

“Yesterday, Conte answered in a very comprehensive way,” Marotta told DAZN, with the head coach having already been asked about Eriksen's long-term future.

"I clearly add that we will not hold a footballer back if they ask to be transferred. We will have to make the right evaluations.

“Conte is using [Eriksen] with respect for the player and the club. At the moment no offers have arrived, but at the appropriate time we will try to make the right decisions.”

Marotta claims Eriksen has not caused any problems, nor has he asked to leave, but suggested the best solution may be a parting of ways.

 

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