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Newz Forum: SOCCER: Football News 07/04/04

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posted on Apr, 7 2004 @ 04:00 PM
Arsene Wenger urged Arsenal to prevent their title challenge falling apart over Easter as he admitted it would be difficult to lift spirits after their Champions League defeat by Chelsea.And the Gunners may now be without star striker Thierry Henry for a weekend likely to test their Premiership credentials to the full.

Wenger has watched helplessly as Arsenal's supposed treble bid has dramatically collapsed around them in the space of just four days.Having been defeated by Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-finals, the Gunners also succumbed to Chelsea in the quarter-finals of the Champions League on Tuesday night.Indeed, with their title lead having been cut to four points by Claudio Ranieri's side, even though Arsenal still have a game in hand, Wenger admitted they could yet finish the season empty handed.

Sir Alex Ferguson has denied speculation linking Manchester United with an end-of-season swoop for Ajax and Holland star Rafael van der Vaart.Reports claim United are chasing the Dutch 21-year-old, but that Ferguson could miss out as Barcelona are emerging as favourites to land the midfielder.

Gareth Southgate's hopes of making the England squad for Euro 2004 have suffered a major blow after he was ruled out for the rest of the Premiership season.The 33-year-old Middlesbrough captain sustained a knee injury in training on Tuesday and a scan has revealed medial ligament damage.Southgate suffered the problem in his first training session since a jaw injury sustained while playing for England against Sweden last week left him unable to eat solid food for several days.

Manchester City chairman John Wardle has admitted the club have contingencies in place should they lose their Premiership survival fight,but he is confident they will not be needed.With debt levels thought to be approaching 70million, relegation to the Nationwide League after just two seasons in the top flight would deal a massive financial blow to the Eastlands outfit.The estimated 20million shortfall in income between the top two divisions would not be easily bridged, especially as the only two members of Kevin Keegan's squad guaranteed to bring in big money are Nicolas Anelka and Shaun Wright-Phillips.The departure of Anelka would be certain if City did go down and other severe cost-cutting measures would also be invoked.

Liverpool striker Emile Heskey insists he remains focused on helping his side avoid an Arsenal backlash at Highbury on Good Friday, despite renewed speculation over his future.The England forward, who scored Liverpool's final goal in the 4-0 thrashing of Blackburn on Sunday, has this week found himself once again linked with a move away from Anfield in the summer.Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier lavished praise on Heskey, who is often criticised for his poor goalscoring record, insisting he plays a crucial role.Heskey has scored 10 goals for Liverpool this season and could come under pressure for a place in the starting line-up next year if, as expected, Djibril Cisse joins the Reds from Auxerre.


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