English Premier League

Arsene Wenger will be praying for an unexpected slip from Liverpool or Manchester City

Rocked by Arsenal’s failure to live up to his expectations and battered by mounting criticism from furious fans, Wenger has been under fire like never before.

Arsene Wenger will be praying for an unexpected slip from Liverpool or Manchester City as Arsenal try to salvage their traumatic Premier League campaign by snatching a Champions League berth in Sunday’s season finale.

Rocked by Arsenal’s failure to live up to his expectations and battered by mounting criticism from furious fans, Wenger has been under fire like never before in his 21-year reign – and the lowest moment of all is likely to come at the Emirates Stadium this weekend.

As if finishing below arch rivals Tottenham for the first time in 22 years wasn’t bad enough, Wenger’s bid to lead Arsenal into the Champions League for a 20th successive season is in grave danger heading into their last league game against Everton.

With the title race settled in Chelsea’s favour, Tottenham guaranteed to finish second and the three relegation places filled by Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Hull, it is the battle for the lucrative remaining two places in Europe’s elite club competition that will command the attention on Sunday.

Despite winning six of their last seven games, Arsenal are in fifth place, one point behind fourth placed Liverpool and three adrift of third placed City.

If Liverpool beat relegated Middlesbrough at Anfield and City avoid defeat at struggling Watford, then, even if Arsenal win, Wenger’s side will be consigned to the indignity of Thursday nights in the unglamourous Europa League next term.

Having refused to confirm if he will accept Arsenal’s offer of a new contract, Wenger this week said his will be settled when he meets the club’s powerbrokers after the Gunners’ FA Cup final date with Chelsea on May 27.

Reports suggest Wenger is planning to stay and if that is the case the 67-year-old could do with boosting his plunging approval ratings by somehow gate-crashing the Champions League party.

Asked on Friday if the Everton clash will be his last game in charge of Arsenal at the Emirates, he gave a sarcastic response.

“Of the season...yes,” he said. “I think what is the most important for us is to win the football game we play on Sunday.

“After that, what happens to me is less important. I’m here to serve the club and the best way to do that is to win the next game.”

Meanwhile, a fourth successive City victory will see them hold on to third place and go straight into next season’s Champions League, while a draw would also be enough to ensure a top four finish.

‘In our hands’

However, City could still miss out altogether if they lose, Liverpool defeat Middlesbrough and Arsenal improve their goal difference by at least five in the process of beating Everton.

Calling for one last push after an underwhelming first season in charge, City boss Pep Guardiola said: “We still have 95, 96 minutes to fight to do one thing that’s so important for the club and the future.

“It’s a crucial game for us. It’s a final. Every game has pressure, but it’s in our hands.

“It doesn’t depend on Arsenal or Liverpool. It depends on us. We have to go there and win the game.”

Liverpool will compete in the Champions League for the first time since 2014-15, and only the second time in eight years, as long as they match Arsenal’s result.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp is well aware the subsequent boost to Liverpool’s profile would be a major help in signing his top transfer targets.

“The Champions League, for different reasons, is a wonderful competition. It would be the icing on the cake,” Klopp said.

“It is important for players because that is what they want to play in.

“We will be successful in the future but for this we need the players, of course. We have very good players and we need a few more.”

Already certain to finish sixth, Manchester United will send out a team largely comprised of youth team players as boss Jose Mourinho keeps his senior stars fresh for next week’s Europa League final against Ajax.

If United win the Europa League they will claim a place in the Champions League, giving Mourinho the last laugh while his old rival Wenger faces a troubled future.

Fixtures (all 1400 GMT)

Arsenal v Everton, Burnley v West Ham, Chelsea v Sunderland, Hull v Tottenham, Leicester v Bournemouth, Liverpool v Middlesbrough, Manchester United v Crystal Palace, Southampton v Stoke, Swansea v West Brom, Watford v Manchester City

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From catching Goan dances in Lisbon to sampling langar in Munich

A guide to the surprising Indian connect in Lisbon and Munich.

For several decades, a trip to Europe simply meant a visit to London, Paris and the Alps of Switzerland. Indians today, though, are looking beyond the tried and tested destinations and making an attempt to explore the rest of Europe as well. A more integrated global economy, moreover, has resulted in a more widespread Indian diaspora. Indeed, if you know where to look, you’ll find traces of Indian culture even in some unlikely cities. Lisbon and Munich are good cities to include in your European sojourn as they both offer compelling reasons to visit, thanks to a vibrant cultural life. Here’s a guide to everything Indian at Lisbon and Munich, when you wish to take a break from all the sight-seeing and bar crawling you’re likely to indulge in.

Lisbon

Lisbon is known as one of the most vibrant cities in Western Europe. On its streets, the ancient and the modern co-exist in effortless harmony. This shows in the fact that the patron saint day festivities every June make way for a summer that celebrates the arts with rock, jazz and fado concerts, theatre performances and art exhibitions taking place around the city. Every two years, Lisbon also hosts the largest Rock festival in the world, Rock in Rio Lisboa, that sees a staggering footfall.

The cultural life of the city has seen a revival of sorts under the current Prime Minister, Antonio Costa. Costa is of Indian origin, and like many other Indian-origin citizens prominent in Portugal’s political, business and entertainment scenes, he exemplifies Lisbon’s deep Indian connect. Starting from Vasco Da Gama’s voyage to India, Lisbon’s historic connection to Goa is well-documented. Its traces can be still be seen on the streets of both to this day.

While the Indian population in Lisbon is largely integrated with the local population, a few diaspora groups are trying to keep their cultural roots alive. Casa de Goa, formed in the ‘90s, is an association of people of Goans, Damanese and Diuese origins residing in Lisbon. Ekvat (literally meaning ‘roots’ in Konkani) is their art and culture arm that aims to preserve Goan heritage in Portugal. Through all of its almost 30-year-long existence, Ekvat has been presenting traditional Goan dance and music performances in Portugal and internationally.

Be sure to visit the Champlimaud Centre for the Unknown, hailed a masterpiece of contemporary architecture, which was designed by the critically-acclaimed Goan architect Charles Correa. If you pay attention, you can find ancient Indian influences, like cut-out windows and stand-alone pillars. The National Museum of Ancient Art also has on display a collection of intricately-crafted traditional Goan jewellery. At LOSTIn - Esplanada Bar, half of the people can be found lounging about in kurtas and Indian shawls. There’s also a mural of Bal Krishna and a traditional Rajasthani-style door to complete the desi picture. But it’s not just the cultural landmarks that reflect this connection. The integration of Goans in Lisbon is so deep that most households tend to have Goa-inspired textiles and furniture as a part of their home decor, and most families have adapted Goan curries in their cuisine. In the past two decades, the city has seen a surge in the number of non-Goan Indians as well. North Indian delicacies, for example, are readily available and can be found on Zomato, which has a presence in the city.

If you wish to avoid the crowds of the peak tourist season, you can even consider a visit to Lisbon during winter. To plan your trip, check out your travel options here.

Munich

Munich’s biggest draw remains the Oktoberfest – the world’s largest beer festival for which millions of people from around the world converge in this historic city. Apart from the flowing Oktoberfest beer, it also offers a great way to get acquainted with the Bavarian folk culture and sample their traditional foods such as Sauerkraut (red cabbage) and Weißwurst (a white sausage).

If you plan to make the most of the Oktoberfest, along with the Bavarian hospitality you also have access to the services of the Indian diaspora settled in Munich. Though the Indian community in Munich is smaller than in other major European destinations, it does offer enough of a desi connect to satisfy your needs. The ISKCON temple at Munich observes all major rituals and welcomes everyone to their Sunday feasts. It’s not unusual to find Germans, dressed in saris and dhotis, engrossed in the bhajans. The Art of Living centre offers yoga and meditation programmes and discourses on various spiritual topics. The atmosphere at the Gurdwara Sri Guru Nanak Sabha is similarly said to be peaceful and accommodating of people of all faiths. They even organise guided tours for the benefit of the non-Sikhs who are curious to learn more about the religion. Their langar is not to be missed.

There are more options that’ll help make your stay more comfortable. Some Indian grocery stores in the city stock all kinds of Indian spices and condiments. In some, like Asien Bazar, you can even bargain in Hindi! Once or twice a month, Indian film screenings do take place in the cinema halls, but the best way to catch up on developments in Indian cinema is to rent video cassettes and VCDs. Kohinoor sells a wide range of Bollywood VCDs, whereas Kumaras Asean Trades sells Tamil cassettes. The local population of Munich, and indeed most Germans too, are largely enamoured by Bollywood. Workshops on Bollywood dance are quite popular, as are Bollywood-themed events like DJ nights and dance parties.

The most attractive time to visit is during the Oktoberfest, but if you can brave the weather, Munich during Christmas is also a sight to behold. You can book your tickets here.

Thanks to the efforts of the Indian diaspora abroad, even lesser-known European destinations offer a satisfying desi connect to the proud Indian traveller. Lufthansa, which offers connectivity to Lisbon and Munich, caters to its Indian flyers’ priorities and understands how proud they are of their culture. In all its India-bound flights and flights departing from India, flyers can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options, making the airline More Indian than You Think. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalised by Lufthansa to the extent that they now offer a definitive Indian flying experience.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.