Arsene Wenger confident Gunners can seal the deal Sunday

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It’s over for Wigan Athletic, who had everything to play for over the last 180 minutes, but somewhat sadly have absolutely nothing at stake now. Due to events in North London on Tuesday, Sunday’s EPL finale (at home against Aston Villa and U.S. international Brad Buzan) will be a lot more “finale” than the Latics had in mind.

But for Arsenal the work is anything but done on the late-season drive for trophies – and remember, according to manager Arsene Wenger, Champions League qualification is a “trophy.” Ahem … we’ll just move on.

Wenger and his club has a short turn to prepare for a trip to Newcastle, where manager Alan Pardew and his club will be well rested. The Magpies won’t have much to play for, solidly settled into the lower-mid pack and already studying on how to improve for next year. But it would be nice for fans around St. James Park to drop some real pain on the glamour club from London, wouldn’t it?

Wenger, still basking in the afterglow of Tuesday’s showpiece win over Wigan, is confident that his club can get the result needed.

I am confident because we have experience. We play for a long time under massive pressure and we have always found the solutions with the problems that we have faced…. It’s a big hurdle, but we’re up for it, we can only give our best, we want to be focused.

It is all open, but it depends on our result. Even third place is not out of sight of we win the game.

There’s a chance that a tie would be enough, and even a loss does not automatically doom the Gunners, who need to hold their spot at fourth to get into the world’s richest and most prestigious club tournament. Because elsewhere in the 38th and final round of the long English Premier League season, Tottenham has to do its part at White Hart Lane against Sunderland in order to keep a little pressure on Wenger’s club.

But no matter what Clint Dempsey and Spurs do in London – Don’t forget, all matches on final day kick off simultaneously, and ain’t that always a hoot!  – a win puts Arsenal right back into Champions League.

By the way, this isn’t just a pride thing, or something to put on a resume, although that 15-year streak of Champions League qualification is  something to be proud of (and to hold over the head of their nearly, bitter rival Spurs).

It’s also about cold, hard cash. Just getting to the Champions League group stage nets a club over $10 million dollars, and the money improves from there with each step toward ultimate glory.

WATCH: Camila’s wicked swerving goal for Brazil

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The Tournament of Nations got underway earlier Thursday, with Brazil and Japan drawing 1-1 in Seattle.

While some in the crowd may’ve been waiting to see the United States women’s national team and Australia in the second game of the twin bill, they got an absolute treat from Brazil’s Camila.

[ MORE: Galaxy’s season-changing signing ]

The Orlando Pride midfielder is yet to scoop up 10 caps, but blasted this 25-yard goal home with a wicked outside bend.

The aesthetics are terrific.

LA Galaxy’s second Dos Santos signing is a season-changer

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Remember this day, MLS fans, as one that perhaps helped determine an MLS Cup Finalist.

The LA Galaxy have signed Villarreal midfielder and Mexican national teamer Jonathan Dos Santos, and he’s the sort of player who could alter the landscape of the Western Conference.

Like Nicolas Lodeiro to Seattle last season and New England’s addition of Jermaine Jones in 2014, Dos Santos’ move comes with the distinct possibility of elevating LA into the next stratosphere.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

Take the Galaxy’s history of winning, and toss in a midseason coaching improvement from Curt Onalfo to Sigi Schmid, as well as MVP-in-their-own-right caliber teammates Giovani Dos Santos, Romain Alessandrini, and Jelle van Damme.

Don’t sleep on the fact that Schmid might be gathering momentum from inheriting a talented and underachieving roster and a brand new game-changing midfielder, which feels a bit like karmic retribution for Seattle firing him and signing Lodeiro the next day last season. Seattle only went and won the MLS Cup.

Schmid has used any number of formations, but could deploy a 4-3-3 with Jona Dos Santos, Jermaine Jones, and Joao Pedro in the midfielder and Giovani Dos Santos, Alessandrini, and Gyasi Zardes up top (Sebastian Lletget could return at some point, too).

Now FC Dallas is very deep, Sporting KC looks powerful, and Seattle won it all last year — plus, may be adding Derlis Gonzalez?!? — but LA’s move to add Dos Santos creates a quartet of teams with proven mettle (Houston looks decent, too, but I have concerns about their first-time as a unit in the playoffs).

Joey Barton’s gambling ban lowered by almost 5 months

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Joey Barton’s 18-month ban for betting on almost 1,300 soccer-related events has been lowered to 13 months and one week.

Putting aside the hilarity of grown men and women discussing whether an extra week was necessary, the alteration means he’ll be eligible to return to football on June 1, 2018.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

While that still hampers the idea of the 34-year-old playing again — he’ll be 36 when the ban ends — it’s a significant change if he’s open to the idea of returning to the game.

Barton’s original ban expired in late October 2018, well into a season. From Sky Sports:

The appeal board also agreed: “It was clear that Mr Barton was not involved in any cheating, he did not influence any games and there was nothing suspicious about his bets.

“(The reduction) reflects the overall seriousness of the breaches and also the mitigation of Mr Barton’s addiction.”

Barton’s remarkably controversial career has including several suspensions and imprisonment, but he always found his way back to the field and was very good when in form. After time at Manchester City and Newcastle United, Barton fended off naysayers with stints at QPR, Marseille, Burnley, and a regrettable move to Rangers.

We may see him on the field in August 2018.

FIFA fines Qatar after players’ political support for Emir

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has fined Qatar’s soccer federation after national team players breached rules against political statements by displaying T-shirts of the country’s Emir at a World Cup qualifier.

FIFA says its disciplinary panel imposed a 50,000 Swiss francs ($51,800) fine and reprimanded Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host.

[ MORE: Nainggolan staying at Roma ]

The incident happened in Doha on June 13, amid a dispute with regional rivals Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Qatar’s players warmed up for a 3-2 win over South Korea wearing white T-shirts with an image of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to show their support for him.

FIFA says the charges related to “displaying a political image” and “political displays” by spectators.