Premier League weekend preview


Jens Lehmann, the former Germany international, is coming out of retirement at the age of 41 to solve Arsenal's goalkeeping crisis. Lehmann, who left Arsenal in 2008 after a five-year spell with the club, will sign a contract until the end of the season. "We have no cover … that is why I decided to bring Jens back," Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, said yesterday. Meanwhile, Uefa has imposed one-match bans on Wenger and midfielder Samir Nasri for comments made to the referee after their team's Champions League elimination against Barcelona.

Aston Villa

James Collins and Richard Dunne have been disciplined after being involved in a row with coaching staff during a team bonding session. Villa manager Gerard Houllier confirmed the club have "reacted strongly" to the behaviour of Dunne and his central defensive partner Collins at a health spa in Leicestershire last week. The pair have had to explain their actions at club disciplinary panels during the past 48 hours although Houllier was not directly involved. Villa are also not confirming the exact nature of the punishment handed out to Dunne and Collins.

Birmingham City

Alex McLeish expects to have six players back available after injury for tomorrow's relegation clash at Wigan Athletic. Stephen Carr, the captain, Roger Johnson, Obafemi Martins and Craig Gardner, along with Barry Ferguson and Martin Jiranek, were able to train yesterday and have been declared fit for the weekend. McLeish, the Birmingham manager, said: "We had a right few missing last week and, if they had played, there could have been a danger of them incurring muscle injuries and being out for the next month or even longer."

Blackburn Rovers

Brett Emerton is confident that wise heads in the Blackburn squad will ensure they remain in the Premier League next season. The Australian is confident he and his teammates can beat the drop, and told The Lancashire Telegraph: "One thing about this team is when we have been up against it and really needed to win games, we have been able to do that. Hopefully this season it will be no different, we can string a couple of wins together and end the season on a high. There is a lot of experience within the team, we know what is needed to be done and we feel confident we can do that and get the results we need."


David Vaughan has said he will not decide on where he plays his football next season until he knows what league Blackpool will be plying their trade in. Ian Holloway's side have been dragged into the battle to avoid relegation after a good start, and Vaughan, 28, who is a free agent in the summer, said he would not rush into making a decision. "Obviously it depends which league we are going to be in next season. That will be a big factor in my decision," he told The Blackpool Gazette. "I will see what options are available, and I'll sit down with the gaffer my family and everyone who is important and see what is best for me."

Bolton Wanderers

Owen Coyle, the Bolton manager, insists Johan Elmander still has to decide where his future lies. Rumours continue to persist that the Sweden striker will join another club when his contract runs out in the summer, with Fiorentina and Juventus the latest to be linked. But Coyle said: "I don't deal in rumour … I deal in fact and the fact is that there has never, ever been one genuine inquiry for Johan. If the summer comes about and there is something out there for Johan and his family that he thinks is the right thing for him, then good luck to him. I would love him to stay - I enjoy working with him and he enjoys working with me."


Didier Drogba has denied the arrival of Fernando Torres at Chelsea has unsettled him as he insisted he remained "really happy" at Stamford Bridge. Drogba, who recently turned 33, stopped short of committing his long-term future to Chelsea but vowed to continue giving everything to the cause. "There will always be talk about my future," he said. "I keep saying it, I'm here and I'm giving everything and it's normal that the club wants to buy another striker because we are ambitious and we want to win the Champions League. I'm really happy because the fans know that my commitment for the team is 100 per cent."


Tony Hibbert is hoping Everton can maintain their dominance over Fulham at Goodison Park when the two sides meet on Merseyside today. Fulham have left pointless every time they have played at Everton, and Hibbert, the defender, thinks he and teammates can use that statistic to their advantage. "It probably does help a bit when you know you have a good record against a team," he told his club's website. "It gives you that added confidence." Everton are unbeaten in their last three games and Hibbert is looking for that to be built on. "We need a result - we need to kick on now," he said of the ninth-placed side.


Mark Hughes yesterday insisted Mohamed Al Fayed had earned the right to erect a statue of Michael Jackson at Craven Cottage. Al Fayed, a close friend of the late performer, caused controversy after announcing he had decided to place the tribute to Jackson outside the stadium. Hughes, the manager, said: "In fairness to the chairman, he's fully supported this club for a long time, put in something like £200 million (Dh1.18 billion) … The reasons are he was a close friend of the chairman of Fulham Football Club, and he wants to mark that and make people understand the respect and affection that he had for the guy."


Kenny Dalglish, the Liverpool manager, believes Jose Reina is possibly the best goalkeeper in the world. "In my opinion Pepe Reina is one of, if not the, best keeper in the world," said the Scot of the 28 year old who was signed from Villarreal in 2005. "I know he doesn't get in his national side [he is kept out of the national team by Real Madrid's Iker Casillas, the Spain captain], but if it's my opinion you're asking for that would be my shout. He has been fantastic for this football club and is a great asset to us. That is reflected in that if Stevie [Gerrard] or Carra [Jamie Carragher] are not playing, he is our captain."

Manchester City

Roberto Mancini is counting down until the international break next week so that he can give Carlos Tevez, his side's top scorer, a break. A run of one goal in nine games for City's top scorer is down to tiredness, his manager believes, but City's tough schedule of Premier League, FA Cup and Europa League action has made it hard to give the Argentine a break from first-team action. Mancini told Sky Sports: "It isn't only Carlos who has lost his sharpness, all the players have. But if we don't have problems against Dynamo Kiev or Chelsea [on Sunday], then we can recover all our players after the internationals."

Manchester United

Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, has admitted that Rio Ferdinand could miss the rest of the season. The 32-year-old England defender has been out since sustaining a calf injury in the warm-up against Wolverhampton Wanderers last month. Ferguson said: "We are not looking at Rio as a short-term situation for us. He has been out for a few weeks now anyway and has not started training yet." Ferguson will also not appeal his five-game touchline ban from the Football Association for making critical comments about Martin Atkinson, the referee, in their 2-1 defeat to Chelsea earlier this month.

Newcastle United

Alan Pardew, the Newcastle United boss, faces a series of late selection decisions ahead of their tough trip to Stoke as his walking wounded close in on returns. Joey Barton, the midfielder who has sat out the last two games with a thigh problem, is closest to making tomorrow's clash at the Britannia Stadium, but Pardew will not risk him if he is not 100 per cent fit. However, Pardew faces perhaps a bigger challenge at left-back with first-choice Jose Enrique struggling with the hamstring strain he suffered against Everton and rated "very doubtful", while replacement Jonas Gutierrez is similarly afflicted, if to a lesser degree.

Stoke City

Tony Pulis, the Stoke manager, has described tomorrow's clash with Newcastle United as a must-win game as the Potters turn their attentions from possible FA Cup glory to Premier League survival. Stoke reached the semi-finals of the cup for the first time in 39 years courtesy of a 2-1 win over West Ham but sit 12th in the league and their cushion over the bottom three is only three points. Victory would move Stoke on to 37 points and above Newcastle, and Pulis said: "It's very, very important for the football club that we stay focused on the league and we've got a very, very tough game against Newcastle. We've got to win it."


John Mensah has denied that revenge will be in his mind when he and his Sunderland teammates come up against Luis Suarez on Sunday when they face Liverpool. Suarez, caused controversy last summer when in the World Cup quarter-final between Uruguay and Ghana he deliberately handled a last-minute Ghanaian shot on the line, and although he was sent off, Ghana missed the resulting penalty and Uruguay used their lifeline to win the shoot-out. But Mensah, the Ghanaian, told his club's website: "What he did is not in my mind right now. What is in my mind is that we stop him and Liverpool from scoring."

Tottenham Hotspur

Michael Dawson does not mind who Tottenham Hotspur get into today's draw for the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Tottenham booked their place in the last eight by seeing off AC Milan with a goalless draw last week. He told his club's website: "It means a lot to everyone. When you look around the dressing room you realise there are a number of us who haven't played in the Champions League before. We've done well to achieve what we have done so far this year but we want to go as far as we can in this competition." Assistant coach Joe Jordan has been banned for one match by Uefa after an incident in Milan.

West Bromwich Albion

Chris Brunt has admitted that being club captain was not something he had been desperate for, but now Roy Hodgson has given him the responsibility, he is looking to lead by example, beginning tomorrow against Arsenal. He told The Express & Star: "I wasn't massively bothered about becoming captain but the new manager has come in and wants me to stay in that position. With me being one of the more senior players, he's quite happy with that and if he's happy with it, I'm happy to do the job. But, as I've said before, as we come towards the end of the season we need as many leaders out there as possible."

West Ham United

Freddie Sears has urged his West Ham United teammates to bounce back from their FA Cup heart-break and boost their chances of beating the drop by getting a positive result at Tottenham Hotspur. West Ham were knocked out in the quarter-finals last week at Stoke City, and are in the relegation zone at present, albeit on goal difference from Birmingham City. Sears told his club's website: It would have been nice to win at Stoke and go to Wembley, but the most important thing is the league. We want to stay in the Premier League and we've got nine games to do that."

Wigan Athletic

James McCarthy, the Wigan midfielder, is still undecided about his international future, according to his club manager Roberto Martinez. The 20-year-old was named in the Republic of Ireland's latest squad earlier this week but Scotland-born McCarthy can still play for both countries. Martinez, speaking at a press conference before Wigan's clash with Birmingham, said: "I am sure it is going to be decided shortly but the focus goes to Birmingham for now … He needs to have time and space to make the right decision as to who he wants to play for at international level."


David Edwards, the Wolves midfielder, has set his sights on returning to action at the beginning of next month. Edwards is sidelined with a back problem which he fears is hereditary and has already undergone a scan. "There may be a weakness in the family and what came back supported that theory, and it's just disappointing," Edwards said: "I've got another scan in three weeks and if there's an improvement and everything has repaired, then I can head back to training. That would be about the start of April and, if all was well, I could be fit for the last five or six games."

Where to buy

Limited-edition art prints of The Sofa Series: Sultani can be acquired from Reem El Mutwalli at

Company profile


Started:+January 2021 

Founders:+Sanad Yaghi, Ali Al Sayegh and Shadi Joulani 


Number of employees:+140 

Sector:+B2B Vertical SaaS(software as a service) 

Investment:+$5.2 million 

Funding stage:+Seed round 

Investors:+Global Founders Capital, Colle Capital Partners, Wamda Capital, Plug and Play, Comma Capital, Nowais Capital, Annex Investments and AMK Investment Office  

The specs

Engine: 4-cylinder 2-litre
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Power: 252 brake horsepower
Torque: 352Nm
Price: from Dh146,700
On sale: now


Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”


Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

Company profile

Name: WallyGPT
Started: 2014
Founders: Saeid and Sami Hejazi
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Investment raised: $7.1 million
Number of staff: 20
Investment stage: Pre-seed round


Director: Shashank Khaitan

Starring: Janhvi Kapoor, Ishaan Khattar, Ashutosh Rana

Stars: 3


Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

The biog

Name: Timothy Husband

Nationality: New Zealand

Education: Degree in zoology at The University of Sydney

Favourite book: Lemurs of Madagascar by Russell A Mittermeier

Favourite music: Billy Joel

Weekends and holidays: Talking about animals or visiting his farm in Australia


Display: 6.7-inch flexible Amoled, 2,412 x 1,080, 394ppi, 120Hz, Corning Gorilla Glass 5

Processor: MediaTek Dimensity 7,200 Pro, 4nm, octa-core

Memory: 8/12GB

Capacity: 128/256GB

Platform: Android 14, Nothing OS 2.5

Main camera: Dual 50MP main, f/1.88 + 50MP ultra-wide, f/2.2; OIS, EIS, auto-focus, ultra XDR, night mode

Main camera video: 4K @ 30fps, full-HD @ 60fps; slo-mo full-HD at 120fps

Front camera: 32MP wide, f/2.2

Battery: 5,000mAh; 50% in 30 minutes with 45-watt charger

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Google Pay)

Biometrics: Fingerprint, face unlock


Durability: IP54, limited protection from water/dust

Cards: Dual-nano SIM

Colours: Black, milk, white

In the box: Nothing Phone (2a), USB-C-to-USB-C cable, pre-applied screen protector, Sim tray ejector tool

Price (UAE): Dh1,199 (8GB/128GB) / Dh1,399 (12GB/256GB)

Generation Start-up: Awok company profile

Started: 2013

Founder: Ulugbek Yuldashev

Sector: e-commerce

Size: 600 plus

Stage: still in talks with VCs

Principal Investors: self-financed by founder

Match info

Liverpool 4
Salah (19'), Mane (45+2', 53'), Sturridge (87')

West Ham United 0

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