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regular-article-logo Saturday, 20 April 2024

Motivated Arsenal aim 'to win it all': Struggling Napoli change manager just ahead of Round-of-16 tie versus Barcelona

The Gunners head to Porto on Wednesday for the first leg of their Champions League Round-of-16 tie in a buoyant mood after demolishing Burnley 5-0 last weekend

AP/PTI, Reuters London Published 21.02.24, 10:55 AM
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Captain Martin Odegaard has urged Arsenal to use the momentum from their recent goal spree to fuel the club’s historic bid for Champions League and Premier League glory.

The Gunners head to Porto on Wednesday for the first leg of their Champions League Round-of-16 tie in a buoyant mood after demolishing Burnley 5-0 last weekend.

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Mikel Arteta’s side have started a calendar year with five successive league wins for the first time in their history, scoring 21 goals in those games.

Arsenal are just two points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool and can turn their attention to Porto safe in the knowledge they are firmly in the hunt for a first title since 2004.

Arsenal have never won the Champions League — losing their only final appearance against Barcelona in 2006.

Buoyed by the recent string of high-scoring wins, Odegaard is confident his team can mount a thrilling bid for both trophies.

“That’s what we want to do, win it all,” the Norway midfielder said. “Of course Champions League is a massive one, so we are excited for it.

“We are in a good moment now. We have to use that momentum, keep building on it and we will see.”

England winger Bukayo Saka has been one of the key figures in Arsenal’s blistering run. Stopping him will be an essential part of Porto’s game-plan at the Estadio do Dragao.

The 22-year-old scored twice against Burnley, giving him seven goals in his last seven games.

Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey was back in training on Tuesday, giving a further boost to the team.

The Gunners face a Porto side who sit third in Liga Portugal standings. Sergio Conceicao’s men finished second in Group H in the group stage.

Napoli change

Serie A defending champions Napoli, who are still struggling in the league, made their second coaching change of the season just two days before facing Barcelona in the Champions League.

Napoli fired Walter Mazzarri after training on Monday and appointed Slovakia coach Francesco Calzona, who was the former assistant at the Serie A team but has never managed at club level.

The 55-year-old Calzona has been given a contract until the end of the season and will be allowed to continue with his duties as Slovakia coach in the meantime, having helped the team qualify for the European Championship.

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández on Tuesday included forward João Félix and midfielder Sergi Roberto in the squad after both recovered from injuries.

Still not available because of injuries are Alejandro Balde, Marcos Alonso, Ferran Torres and Gavi.

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