Just nine minutes into Arsenal’s important meeting at home against Manchester City, this one took a fast turn toward the lesser fancied Sunday morning nether region of: “Uh, what time do those NFL playoff games start?”
That is to say, it was very nearly not worth watching.
Not because these two well-stocked clubs don’t deserve watching; both have exciting players and both are desperately chasing their own Premiership rewards. Rather, the watchability factor slipped because of a 9th minute incident that tilted the field heavily.
Sure enough, visiting City was in charge through much of the match and emerged with the 2-0 result.
Arsenal center back Laurent Koscielny was all over City striker Edin Dzeko as a ball dropped perilously in front of Gunners goal, blatantly wrapping both arms around the Bosnian striker. Both tumbled as Dzeko moved in for a potential early strike. Referee Mike Dean pointed to the spot, held up the red and … well, let’s talk about it:
- It’s a tough call to make so early, but Dean made the right one (on the penalty kick, at least.) If Koscielny could have merely put a body on Dzeko, perhaps even laid an arm into him, that might have provided Dean sufficient cover to wave “play-on” or to think twice the expulsion, at least. More to the point, it might not have actually been a blatant foul. As it was, it’s a foul – and therefore a penalty kick.
- It’s a brutal development, affecting the match so dramatically, so early. But as the game’s laws are written, Dean was mostly correct here. It’s a bold, bold call and Dean is no dummy; he recognizes exactly how much moment is altering fortunes.
- For the reason I just stated – the titanic impact, that is – I wonder if City might have complained too much if Dean would have awarded the penalty kick and kept Koscielny on the field? I tend to believe most of us would have had little problem with that.
- I’ve said before, I really wish the game’s lawmakers would review the double jeopardy involved in these decisions. Awarding a penalty kick (about 80 percent chance of scoring) and reducing a side to 10 men is so very harsh. I understand the argument: “Don’t foul!” But we know there is so very much fouling and contact that goes on near goal. So these important decisions inside the 18 aren’t really about fouling, per se. So much of that does go on. It really comes down to chance and providence; it’s really more about which clear fouls are spotted by the man in the middle.
I said “double jeopardy” on the decision. I noticed a few minutes later where NBC colleague and pal Arlo White reminded mentioned on Twitter that my assessment may be a tad low:
Two teams are set to bring in experienced players ahead of the new season, while another veteran has said his goodbye to his former club.
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D.C. United has reportedly signed veteran forward Sebastian Le Toux after spending last season with the Philadelphia Union and the Colorado Rapids.
According to SB Nation’s Black and Red United, Le Toux has inked a one-year deal with D.C. United. Le Toux has scored 57 goals in his time in MLS, with 50 of those goals coming with the Union.
Le Toux has also previously played for the New York Red Bulls, Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders.
Meanwhile, the Portland Timbers are reportedly set to sign long-time Sporting KC defender Chance Myers, who spent the last nine seasons with the Western Conference side.
The 29-year-old had made 147 appearances for Sporting KC since joining MLS, while adding two goals over that span.
Dax McCarty posted a heartfelt message to New York Red Bulls fans, players and staff following the veteran’s move to the Chicago Fire.
The midfielder was recently traded to the Eastern Conference side after the spending the last five-and-half years with the Red Bulls, where McCarty served as the team’s captain.
Virgil Van Dijk‘s quick rise in the Premier League has caught the attention of many around England, and one of the division’s greats has high hopes the Dutchman will join his former side in the future.
[ MORE: Saints wallop Leicester in complete effort ]
Steven Gerrard has suggested that Liverpool come out and pursue Van Dijk, who joined Southampton back in 2015 from Scottish side Celtic.
Gerrard — who is set to take a coaching position with Liverpool’s academy — believes the budding star would be a strong fit for the Reds, however, the ex-midfielder realizes it’ll be a hard sell.
“Who I think we need, I would go and try and bid for Van Dijk from Southampton,” Gerrard told BT Sport. “But we’ve had enough of their players so that will probably go down like a lead balloon.”
The 25-year-old has made waves in England’s top flight after quickly proving to be one of the division’s top defenders and helping guide the Saints towards the top half of the table since his arrival.
With the NFL no longer the biggest show in town, San Diego could be bringing another football to the city in the near future.
[ MORE: USMNT’s Hyndman provides assist in Rangers debut win ]
According to NBC 7 San Diego, FS Investors founder Mike Stone and former Qualcomm Vice Chairman Steve Altman are prepared to reveal their proposal on Monday that will bring a future MLS franchise to San Diego.
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The proposed move includes a stadium plan that will reside where the Chargers’ Qualcomm Stadium currently sits. With the NFL franchise now playing in Los Angeles, the San Diego Padres of Major League Baseball are the only remaining professional team in the area, out of the five major sports in the U.S.
NBC 7 is also reporting that a future San Diego team would share its facility with the San Diego State Aztecs football team.
MLS is currently up to 22 teams entering the 2017 season, while Los Angeles FC is also tabbed to enter the league next year. David Beckham’s Miami project is also considered to be the league’s 24th team, and MLS is likely to hold off on further announcements regarding expansion until later in 2017.
If San Diego were to be chosen as an expansion site, the club would become the fourth to call California home in the current state of MLS, joining the San Jose Earthquakes, Los Angeles Galaxy and LA FC (2018).
In addition to San Diego, several other cities are currently vying to enter MLS in the future, including St. Louis, Cincinnati, Sacramento and Charlotte.
Ryan Mason has undergone surgery following a scary collision with Chelsea’s Gary Cahill on Sunday.
[ MORE: Chelsea goes eight points clear at top of PL ]
The Hull City midfielder was injured after knocking heads with Cahill during first half of the 2-0 defeat to the Blues. Nine minutes of first-half stoppage time were needed after Mason stayed down on the pitch at Stamford Bridge.
[ MORE: Xhaka’s red card makes him most sent-off player in Europe ]
It has been confirmed by the club that Mason suffered a skull fracture, while it is has also been speculated that the 25-year-old could have had bleeding on his brain.
Mason will remain hospitalized for the “next few days,” according to the Tigers.
“The Club can confirm that Ryan Mason sustained a skull fracture in our fixture at Chelsea this afternoon. He was taken to St Mary’s Hospital where he has undergone surgery.
“Ryan is in a stable condition and is expected to remain in hospital for the next few days.
“Everyone at the Club would like to express their sincere thanks for the excellent and swift care given to Ryan by both the Accident and Emergency department and Neurosurgery Unit at St Mary’s Hospital.
“A further update will be issued tomorrow.”
While Mason was forced off during the match due to the injury, Cahill managed to continue for Chelsea and scored the game’s second goal.