Team news and stats ahead of Arsenal vs Molde in the Europa League group stage on Thursday; kick-off 8pm.Team newsArsenal boss Mikel Arteta has confirmed that David Luiz will return to the squad against Molde in the Europa League on Thursday night.- Advertisement – – Advertisement – The Brazilian defender has missed the last two matches after he was forced off with a thigh injury during the home defeat to Leicester on October 25. Arteta initially feared Luiz would be out for “a few weeks”, but the 33-year-old has resumed training and is available for selection.Arsenal have no fresh injury concerns following the victory at Manchester United. Calum Chambers (knee), Pablo Mari (ankle) and Gabriel Martinelli (knee) remain long-term absentees.Molde are still without injured defender Kristoffer Haraldseid, but midfielder Martin Ellingsten should be restored to the starting line-up, having come off the substitutes’ bench in the 3-1 win over Mjondalen at the weekend. Image:Arsenal made it two wins from two in the Europa League with a routine victory over Dundalk – Advertisement – – Advertisement – FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Arsenal’s win over Manchester United in the Premier League 2:59 How to followFollow Arsenal vs Molde with our dedicated live blog across Sky Sports’ digital platforms from 6.30pm on Thursday; kick off 8pm.Opta statsArsenal will face Molde for the very first time in this match. The Gunners have won three of their four matches against Norwegian opponents (D1).Arsenal’s last match against Norwegian opposition was a 5-1 win against Rosenborg in the UEFA Champions League in December 2004, with goals from José Antonio Reyes, Thierry Henry, Cesc Fàbregas, Robert Pires and Robin van Persie.This will be Molde’s first meeting with English opponents; Norwegian sides have never beaten English opposition away from home, drawing twice and losing 20 times, with a goal difference of -87 (13 scored, 100 conceded).Molde have won four of their last six away matches in the UEFA Europa League (D1 L1), beating Scottish (Celtic) and Irish (Dundalk) opponents on this run.Since the start of the 2018-19 season, only Munas Dabbur (13) has scored more goals in the UEFA Europa League than Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (12). Molde at a glanceThe coach: Erling Moe replaced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, initially as caretaker manager, when he left for Manchester United in December 2018 as interim boss. Moe, a former Molde player, had been Solskjaer’s assistant and was given the job on a permanent basis when it became clear Solskjaer would not be returning.European pedigree: The Norwegian club reached the Champions League group stage during the 1999/2000 season and the group stage of the Europa League in 2012/13. In 2015/16 Molde topped a group containing Fenerbahce, Ajax and Celtic to reach the round of 32 in the Europa League, losing 3-1 on aggregate to eventual winners Sevilla.Form: Second in the Norwegian Tippeligaen but 16 points behind league leaders Bado Glimt. Molde have won their last four domestic fixtures and, like Arsenal, both of their opening two games in the Europa League. They arrive in London on a six-match winning run.
Security was tight near the heart of Hong Kong’s government district on Wednesday only hours after new security laws came into force and as the city marked the 23rd anniversary of the former British colony’s handover to China.The contentious law will punish crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison, heralding a more authoritarian era for the Asian financial hub.Among the details certain to unnerve democracy and rights activists in the city is a ban on violators of the law standing for election and greater oversight of non-governmental organizations and news groups. For highlights of the law, clickSpeaking at a flag-raising ceremony to mark the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover in 1997, the city’s embattled leader Carrie Lam said the law was the most important development since the city’s return to Beijing.”It is a historical step to perfect Hong Kong safeguarding national security, territorial integrity and a secure system,” Lam said at the same harbor-front venue where 23 years ago the last colonial governor, Chris Patten, a staunch critic of the security law, tearfully handed back Hong Kong to Chinese rule.”It is also an inevitable and prompt decision to restore stability in the society.” Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have repeatedly said the legislation is aimed at a few “troublemakers” and will not affect rights and freedoms, nor investor interests.Critics fear the legislation will crush wide-ranging freedoms in Hong Kong denied to people in mainland China that are seen as key to its success as a global financial center.”With the release of the full detail of the law, it should be clear to those in any doubt that this is not the Hong Kong they grew up in,” said Hasnain Malik, head of equity research, Tellimer in Dubai.”But this tighter security environment has been on the way for many years now. The difference is that U.S. and China relations are far worse and this could be used as a pretext to impede the role of Hong Kong as a finance hub.”Hong kong’s ‘second return’Some pro-Beijing officials and political commentators say the law is aimed at sealing Hong Kong’s “second return” to the motherland after the first failed to bring residents of the restive city to heel.Luo Huining, the head of Beijing’s top representative office in Hong Kong, said at the flag-raising ceremony the law was a “common aspiration” of Hong Kong citizens.Critics of the legislation blasted the lack of transparency surrounding its details up until it was unveiled, with even Beijing-backed Lam saying she was not privy to the draft despite her insisting most people had no reason to worry.The complex legislation came into force at 11 p.m. (1500 GMT) on June 30, giving Hong Kong’s 7.5 million people no time to digest it. Some pro-democracy activists quit their posts only hours before the law came into force, calling on the campaign for democracy to continue offshore.Neighbouring Taiwan, which Beijing regards as part of China and has said it would use force to reclaim it, said it had opened an office on Wednesday to help people fleeing Hong Kong.About a dozen demonstrators rallied to protest against the new law, which critics fear will crush wide-ranging freedoms promised to Hong Kong for 50 years when it returned to Beijing under a “one country, two systems” style of governance.Authorities barred an annual handover anniversary march due to be held on Wednesday, citing a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people in a bid to curb coronavirus, but many activists pledged to defy the order and march later in the afternoon.The annual rally is traditionally held to air grievances over everything from sky-high home prices to what many see as Beijing’s increasing encroachment on the city’s freedoms.”We march every year, every July 1, every October 1 and we will keep on marching,” said pro-democracy activist Leung Kwok-hung.Local media has reported up to 4,000 police officers would be deployed to stamp out any protests on Wednesday.On July 1 last year, hundreds of protesters stormed the city’s legislature to protest against a now-scrapped bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, trashing the building in a direct challenge to authorities in Beijing.Those protests evolved into calls for greater democracy, paralyzing parts of the city and paving the way for Beijing to directly impose national security law on Hong Kong, a move that has drawn condemnation from some Western governments. Topics :