Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino has been impressed by Arsenal this season and believes the Barclays Premier League leaders can sustain their title challenge. Press Association Their 1-0 defeat to Manchester United last time out highlighted those perceived weaknesses, which will be tested again this weekend in an unlikely first versus third clash at the Emirates Stadium. Southampton could usurp the Gunners as league leaders should results go their way on Saturday, although former Argentina international Pochettino is well aware of the threat the north Londoners pose. “I would say that the team that we’re going to play against on Saturday is the one that’s playing the best football in the league,” he said. “I think they can win the league, but I also think that there’s other teams that are going to be in the running to win the league. “I think it’s going to be a hard-fought competition throughout until the end of the season. It’s going to be very competitive and I think it’s going to be a very exciting end to the season.” Arsenal’s hopes of a first league title since the invincible 2003/04 season are undoubtedly boosted by the creative attacking options at their disposal. Pochettino knows two of those well from his time in the Primera Division with Espanyol, and warned his players to keep close tabs on Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla. “I rate Mesut Ozil as one of the top 10 players in the world,” he said of the former Real Madrid playmaker. “It is clear they are two great football players. It is clear that you cannot afford to grant them any space or time to think because they are players with individual actions can decide a game on their own. “They are amazing talents as we saw in La Liga and now as we see in the Premier League, so we have to be really careful with the two of them.” Southampton will be without Jack Cork and Guly do Prado for the trip to north London, while the fitness of Gaston Ramirez will be assessed when he returns from international duty with Uruguay on Friday. While he has been away from the south coast, more comments have emanated from his representative about the £12million signing’s apparent dissatisfaction at St Mary’s and the potential of a move to Inter Milan. Asked for news on Ramirez’s future, Pochettino said: “Nothing. He’s just a Southampton player and, as any other player, he’s fulfilling his contract at Southampton. I know nothing about that (interest from Inter).” Pochettino was equally curt when quizzed about record signing Dani Osvaldo’s future and a report in Turkey that Besiktas have made an enquiry about Jose Fonte, a key part of the Saints defence to have conceded just five league goals this season. “Every time I speak about the secret of this team and their success, I speak about it in a defensive manner in the sense that we have been playing really well defensively,” he said of the Portuguese. “That is not just down to one player, but the collective, the whole squad. I think not just him but the whole squad deserves the same merit, the same praise. “Now I have found out about another rumour about another one of my players, so that pleases me. Press conferences are a great way to find out about these rumours.” Arsene Wenger’s side look like they could soon end their well-documented trophy drought after an impressive start that leaves them top of the domestic table as well as their Champions League group. Despite their fine start, however, questions remain over the strength in depth of Arsenal’s squad in addition to their ability to compete against other top teams.
Flutter moves to refine merger benefits against 2020 trading realities August 27, 2020 StumbleUpon Share SBC Magazine Issue 10: Kaizen Gaming rebrand and focus for William Hill CEO August 25, 2020 Share Tabcorp double burdened by covid and group impairment charges August 19, 2020 William Hill’s decision to take a £238m impairment charge on the value of its Australian business saw the bookmaker report a pre-tax loss of £75m for 2017, but the firm is confident that the performance of the business as a whole is positive. While Group net revenue grew 7% to £1,711.1m, a total of £335.0m of exceptional costs and adjustments ruined the firm’s balance sheet. Apart from the goodwill impairment of the Australian business following adverse tax and regulatory changes, other charges were from the costs of the Group-wide transformation programme and from retrospective VAT payments in Germany and three other markets.The firm added: “However, adjusted operating profit, which gives a clearer picture of underlying performance, was up 11% to £291.3m, supported in particular by strong growth in our Online and US businesses.”William Hill hailed its omnichannel capabilities and its position in the US ahead of potential deregulation, but following its £6.2m Gambling Commission fine earlier in the week it is now making a major play for developing a ‘sustainable’ business. It explained: “We are focused on improving our approach to responsible gambling to build a long-term, sustainable business for all our stakeholders, and especially for any of our customers who are at risk from problem gambling.We recognise that it is not enough to grow: we have to grow the right way. That means acting in a sustainable way that takes account of all our stakeholders. We remain a company with commercial objectives but commercial gain should not come at the expense of being a responsible company. We are committed to treating customers fairly and openly, to protecting the vulnerable and to keeping crime out of gambling.”After the regulatory settlement with the Gambling Commission, William Hill also announced it is introducing ‘new and improved policies and increased levels of resourcing’ to improve its ability to ensure full regulatory compliance, committing to an independent process review. It added: “We are fully committed to operating a sustainable business that properly identifies risk and better protects customers and we will continue to assist the Commission and work with other operators to improve practices in this area.“We can and will do more to embed sustainability for the long term. In the months ahead we will be taking a number of important steps in key areas, including improving the transparency of our marketing and communications, increasing responsible gambling measures and enhancing our stakeholder engagement. We will update on these measures in due course.” Related Articles Submit