Snap judgments: Quick reactions to Saturday’s early Premier League results

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With Aston Villa-Manchester United moments from kickoff, we take a few moments to look back on the Premier League’s first set of Saturday results. Here are the day’s Snap Judgments:

Arsenal 3-3 Fulham – Mark Schwarzer’s save on Mikel Arteta’s 94th-minute penalty perserved the result for Fulham, the Cottagers putting three goals past what used to be the league’s best defense. Defending was the one thing Arsenal could do at the beginning of the season, but having given up 12 goals in their last four games, the Gunner’s defense has assumed the attack’s former struggles.

Impact – Right next to each other. That’s where they started the day, and there’s where they’ll end it. Arsenal and Fulham are seventh and eighth in England, both on 19 points. For Fulham, it’s what they’d homed for when the season began. For Arsenal, it’s reason to improve.

Everton 2-1 Sunderland – What a mixed bag for Sunderland fans. They played much better than why had in recent weeks, but with a goal and an assist from Marouane Fellani in a three-minute span of the second half, the Black Cats were unable to make Adam Johnson’s opener hold up. Sunderland fans can take solace in the fact that, although it seems like we’re well into the season, they have 28 matches in front of them. There’s still time.

Impact – Everton temporarily sit fourth, a lofty perch for the habitual slow starters. David Moyes says this is his best Everton team, and it shows. Sunderland, however, will likely finish the round in 16th place.

Reading 0-0 Norwich City – Perhaps the least surprising result of the day. Reading has been scrappy but ineffective all season. Norwich has been bad with two tinges of good. Their meeting produced only three shots on goal, the Royals left waiting for their first win upon return to the Premier League.

Impact – The Royals have yet to show they belong in the Premier League. They sit 18th, while Norwich, despite a worse goal difference, remains 15th.

Southampton 1-1 Swansea City – Saints manager Nigel Adkins placed a lot of importance on this match, so he’ll likely be disappointed with defender Maya Yoshida, who had the ball taken from him by Nigel Dyer ahead of Swansea’s second half equalizer. It was another decent performance with no victory for Southampton, who may have no choice but to persist and hope.

Impact – Southampton climb out of the basement and into 19th while Swansea, having lost only one in five, stay mid-table.

Stoke City 1-0 Queens Park Rangers – The only other team besides Reading who have failed to win is Mark Hughes’ well-funded Rangers, who fell to 20th place with Saturday’s loss. Time has to be running out for the QPR boss, whereas Stoke appear to have re-group after last season’s struggles.

Impact – Despite scoring only nine times in 11 games, Stoke sits 12th. After today’s result, Hughes may not make it to Saturday’s match at Loftus Road. If he does, the match versus Southampton becomes a must-win.

Wigan Athletic 1-2 West Bromwich Albion – We’re too early in the season to call this more than a hot start, but with three strong points from the DW, West Brom is even with Everton in fourth place. Where did this come from?

Whether you think West Brom can maintain that stature likely influences how you feel about Wigan’s result. If you see West Brom falling back at some point, today was a missed opportunity for Wigan.

Impact – West Brom gave another indication they intend to compete for Europe, while Wigan, regardless of the result, remains ahead of their usual pace (currently sitting 14th).

How can Arsenal qualify for last 16 of Champions League?

Arsene Wenger, Arsenal FC
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Heading into the their final UEFA Champions League Group F game, the Gunners are still alive. Just.

Arsenal beat Dinamo Zagreb 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium in London on Tuesday to keep their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League alive for the 16th straight season.

[ MORE: Champions League standings

So, here’s what Arsene Wenger‘s men must do in their final Group F game in two weeks time in Greece to qualify and what other results will mean for the Premier League side.

  • An Arsenal win by a two-goal margin will see Arsenal finish level on points but finish above Olympiakos by virtue of having better goal different in their head-to-head encounters. Hence sealing a spot in the last 16
  • An Arsenal win by a one-goal margin, a draw or a defeat will see Arsenal eliminated and Olympiakos qualify for last 16
  • The Gunners have already sealed at least a Europa League spot regardless of what happens in Athens

There are your scenarios for Arsenal as it’s pretty simple to break it down: Win by two goals and they’re Champions League dream lives on in the last 16.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule

Anything else and it’s a spot of Thursday night soccer in the last 32 of the Europa League for Wenger’s men.

Maccabi Tel-Aviv 0-4 Chelsea: Blues go atop Group G

during the UEFA Champions League Group G match between Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC and Chelsea FC at Sammy Ofer Stadium on November 24, 2015 in Haifa, Israel.
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Chelsea scored thee second-half goals against a ten-man Maccabi side, easing to a 4-0 win in Tel-Aviv tonight.

With the win and Porto’s loss, the Blues now sit atop Group G in the UEFA Champions League, in need of one point from their final match to advance.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

The match got off to a bit of a shaky start for Chelsea, as Tel-Aviv created some early offense on the counter-attack. However, the Blues stuck in after the opening minutes and gained control of the play.

After dominating possession, Chelsea broke through in the 20th minute through Gary Cahill. Willian whipped in a corner kick which Cahill headed on goal, but Predrag Rajkovic made a brilliant save for Tel-Aviv. However, the save hit the post and rolled right back to Cahill, who had an easy tap-in for the goal.

The pitch continued to be tilted in favor of Chelsea, and Tel-Aviv’s chances of a comeback took a huge hit when Tal Ben Haim was sent off in the 40th minute. The former Chelsea man took a wild hack at the legs of Diego Costa, giving the referee an easy decision to show a straight red. It was another case of Costa getting under the skin of his opposition, as Ben Haim lost his cool and made a reckless challenge.

Despite being down to ten men, the hosts didn’t fold in the second half and tried to steal a goal on the counter. After a string of fine saves from Rajkovic to keep Tel-Aviv alive, Asmir Begovic had to come up with a save of his own to keep Chelsea ahead. Eran Zahavi found himself free on the break and fired a shot to the far post, but Begovic just got his fingertips on the ball to hold the lead.

[ RELATED: Zlatan hoping to impress in UCL return to Malmo ]

A bit of bad news came for Chelsea in the 72nd minute, as John Terry went down after getting tangled up in a challenge. The captain looked to be in a lot of pain, as he was stretchered off and replaced by Kurt Zouma.

On the first touch of the ball after Terry’s substitution, Chelsea took a 2-0 lead from a Willian free kick. From his favorite spot at the corner of the box, the Brazilian curled home a set piece to the near post. It was his sixth goal of the season, all of which have come from free kicks in almost the exact same location.

Less than five minutes later, Oscar made it 3-0 for Chelsea. Baba Rahman played in a cross from the left wing as Oscar headed home from close range, officially sealing the points for Jose Mourinho’s men.

Substitute Kurt Zouma would add a fourth for Chelsea in stoppage time, grabbing another headed goal for the Blues in a comfortable yet vital win.

Arsenal 3-0 Dinamo Zagreb: Gunners keep last 16 dreams alive

Alexis Sanchez
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Arsenal eased past Dinamo Zagreb in their penultimate game of UEFA Champions Group F play on Tuesday as two goals from Alexis Sanchez and another from Mesut Ozil did the damage.

Arsene Wenger‘s side now sit in third place on six points in Group F and travel to Olympiakos — who currently sit in second spot on nine points — on the final matchday on Dec. 9 where they will need a win by two goals or more to make the last 16 of the UCL for the 16th straight season.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

The Gunners came flying out of the traps and were 2-0 up inside the first 32 minutes. First up Sanchez got free on the left and curled in a beautiful cross which found the onrushing Ozil who stooped and headed home. 1-0 to the Arsenal.

Moments later it was 2-0 as Nacho Monreal intercepted a pass on the edge of Zagreb’s box and slotted the ball to Sanchez who finished easily to send Wenger’s men into halftime with a healthy lead.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule ]

In the second half Arsenal were hungry for more goals as Eduardo made a good stop from Santi Cazorla‘s shot and then palmed away Olivier Giroud‘s header from the rebound.

To their credit the Croatian outfit stuck to the task and Alexandru Matel went close with an effort but Arsenal always looked dangerous on the break as Costa Rican forward Joel Campbell volleyed an effort just wide.

Arsenal saw out the game with minimum fuss as Sanchez added another in the 69th minute when Campbell set him up neatly and the Chilean grabbed his second and Arsenal’s third of the game to make it 3-0.

That’s how the game finished as the Gunners now face a showdown in Athens in two weeks as their place in the UCL’s last 16 hangs in the balance.

VIDEO: Messi scores first goal since September in typical Barca fashion

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 12:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's 2nd goal goal during the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Barcelona at Vicente Calderon Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
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Lionel Messi is back.

After coming off the bench in Barcelona’s 4-0 win over Real Madrid in El Clasico this weekend, Messi made his first start today since suffering a knee injury in September.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Tuesday’s UCL action ]

Playing against Roma in the Champions League, Barcelona jumped out to a 2-0 lead within 20 minutes, and it is clear Messi is back in form.

After Luis Suarez opened the scoring, Messi doubled Barca’s lead with a brilliant team goal, started with a string of one-touch passes before a delicate chip over the keeper from the Argentinian.

To everyone facing Barcelona in the near future, beware.