Sport Soccer

Saturday 18 November 2017

Scunthorpe to host Red Devils Lennon wants Hoops to battle Mullins sets Cardiff on way Capello weighs up Arteta call Ben Arfa signs for Newcastle

Holders Manchester United will begin their Carling Cup defence at Scunthorpe -- and the third-round draw also paired Tottenham and Arsenal together at White Hart Lane.

United will make the trip to Glanford Park to face the Championship side, with ties played in the week starting September 20. Northampton, the only League Two side surviving in the competition, were handed a dream trip to Anfield to take on Liverpool.

Villa take on Blackburn, while Newcastle face a daunting trip to take on Chelsea.

Manchester City head to West Brom in another all-Premier League clash, while Stoke meet Fulham and Sunderland will have home advantage against West Ham.

Burnley will relish their clash against top-flight neighbours Bolton, and Brentford have an attractive home match against Everton.

Notts County go to Wolves, while MK Dons face more Premier League opposition with a short journey to play Birmingham at St Andrew's.

There is another north-west clash between Wigan and Preston, while elsewhere Portsmouth will tackle Leicester at Fratton Park, Peterborough face Swansea and Millwall play Ipswich.

Lennon wants Hoops to battle

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has told his players they must battle hard for the Premier League title after being too soft in Europe.

The Parkhead club made a limp exit from the Europa League, losing 4-0 to Utrecht despite taking a two-goal lead to Holland and failing to qualify for the group stages of the tournament. Now Lennon is demanding a response from his players with a trip to Motherwell today.

"We've still got three trophies to challenge and compete for," said Lennon.

"The priority has always been the league. We have to make a challenge for the league now. The defeat on Thursday night we can use as an incentive and a reminder, too, if at any point the players think they're better than they are. We'll go to Motherwell and take it from there. I still trust the players."

Mullins sets Cardiff on way

Second-placed Cardiff were given a helping hand by Portsmouth as they eased to a 2-0 win at Fratton Park yesterday.

The Bluebirds fielded Craig Bellamy and Jay Bothroyd in attack, yet Steve Cotterill's men held firm until midfielder Hayden Mullins inadvertently fired into his own net from 12 yards in the 37th minute. And more generous defending led to the second as Bothroyd seized on a mix-up instigated by Bellamy's pressure to tap in, four minutes into the second half.

Elsewhere, Middlesbrough were beaten 2-0 by Barnsley at Oakwell. Meanwhile, Leeds captain Richard Naylor hit the winner in his 450th career appearance to end Watford's unbeaten start to the season at Vicarage Road.

Capello weighs up Arteta call

The English FA are yet to be asked by Fabio Capello about the prospect of selecting Mikel Arteta. Capello is reported to have asked the Everton star how interested he would be once he becomes fully available. Arteta currently meets FIFA requirements on residency grounds, although he would also have to apply for UK citizenship, which would delay any debut for a further six months.

The 28-year-old has previously spoken positively about the idea, given his chances of a call-up for Spain are virtually non-existent due to the presence of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas.

Yet such a move would be loaded with controversy given the Spain-born star represented the country of his birth at under-21 level and a gentleman's agreement is also said to be in place among the Home Nations which specifies that to qualify for an international call-up you must either have been born in the country, have a parent or grandparent born in the country or have spent five years in education in the country before the age of 18.

Ben Arfa signs for Newcastle

Newcastle boss Chris Hughton finally got his man when France midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa completed a season-long loan move to St James' Park from Marseille. The 23-year-old signed on the dotted line after weeks of negotiations between the two clubs to become Hughton's fifth summer capture with a view to making the transfer permanent.

Ben Arfa is a product of the famous academy at Clairefontaine and has eight senior caps for his country. "It was my first choice to come here and I'm delighted to be here," he said.

Meanwhile, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was left out of the Barcelona squad for today's La Liga opener away to Racing Santander, as negotiations for his possible transfer to AC Milan continued.

Sunday Independent

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