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Premier League Roundup: Arsenal, Liverpool, Hull and Stoke all win

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It was another superb day of action in the Premier League which didn’t see as many goal scored as last weekend, but there was still plenty of controversy.

From the wet and windy start in the early kickoff at Craven Cottage to late drama at St. Mary’s and St. James’ Park and the late game at Villa Park, there were some tight games in Week 2 of the Premier League.

Plus Hull City and Norwich City fought tooth and nail in a real battle at the KC Stadium in a tremendous game.

We covered them all at ProSoccerTalk, so here are the recaps with plenty more reaction to come. And here are the Premier League standings… it may be a bit earlier to scrutinize the standings but have a go anyway.

Fulham 1-3 Arsenal

The Gunners finally picked up their first points of the season, with a resounding win over Fulham at a soggy Craven Cottage. Olivier Giroud somewhat fortuitously put Arsenal ahead after the impressive Aaron Ramsey had a shot that hit Giroud before the Frenchman tucked the ball home. German international Lukas Podolski then tidied up to nab Arsenal’s second before the break and Podolski struck again to make it 3-0 in the 67th minute. A late consolation for Fulham’s new signing Darren Bent on his debut was all the Cottagers could muster, as Arsene Wenger’s side prospered.

Southampton 1-1 Sunderland

It took just two minutes for Sunderland to take the lead at Southampton, as Italian international Emanuele Giaccherini headed home Sebastian Larsson’s superb corner. The Saints pressed for an equalizer for the next 86 minutes (having 67 percent of the possession but failing to break the Black Cats down) and finally got their breakthrough when Portuguese defender Jose Fonte headed home with two minutes left. St. Mary’s erupted as the points were shared but the Saints really should have grabbed all three as manager Mauricio Pochettino pointed out in his post-match press conference.

Aston Villa 0-1 Liverpool

A fine game at Villa Park as Liverpool snatched their second-straight 1-0 win to open the season. Daniel Sturridge was again the game-winner, as his delightful finish in the 21st minute proved enough to seal three more points for Brendan Rodgers’ side. Villa played well in the second half, with Simon Mignolet pulling off a great save from a powerful Christian Benteke shot in the final few minutes. This Liverpool team is still gelling but after two wins from two and two shutouts, the Reds are on the charge.

Hull City 1-0 Norwich City

Steve Bruce was over the moon following this one, as Hull City grabbed a win despite playing for over an hour down a man. Yannick Sagbo was sent off in the 27th minute for throwing his weight around, but Hull were already 1-0 up thanks to Robbie Brady’s penalty five minutes earlier. A nervy final 60 minutes played out at the KC Stadium but Hull beat Norwich and now head to Manchester City next weekend. A much needed win for the newly promoted side.

Newcastle 0-0 West Ham United

This game never really got going until stoppage time. West Ham looked solid and reduced Newcastle to speculative efforts throughout, and the Hammers had two great chances through Winston Reid and Kevin Nolan either side of half time. But in the 91st minute Modibo Maiga thought he’d won it for the Hammers but his tap in goal from five yards out was from an offside position. Then Newcastle spurned a glorious opportunity to grab all three points in the 93rd minute, when Sammy Ameobi’s cross hit the post and rebounded to Yoan Gouffran four yards out… but somehow the Frenchman hit his effort over.

Everton 0-0 West Bromwich Albion

Another stalemate, but this one was by no means boring as the Toffees came unstuck at home to West Brom. In Roberto Martinez’ first game in charge at Goodison Park, Everton started brightly but ‘keeper Ben Foster was in inspired form for the Baggies. He went off injured late on and Marouane Fellaini also grabbed the win but his shot in the 82nd minute beat substitute goalkeeper Luke Daniels, but not the post.

Stoke City 2-1 Crystal Palace

It was all going so well for newly promoted Crystal Palace at half time. 1-0 up away from home at one of the toughest venues to visit in the Premier League, Ian Holloway’s men were all smiles as they walked off the pitch. But then Stoke turned quickly turned the game on its head. New Palace signing Marouane Chamakh had opened the scoring with a lovely finish after 31 minutes. But then Stoke struck twice in the space of four minutes through Charlie Adam and Ryan Shawcross to seal Mark Hughes’ first win in charge of the Potters. Palace remain pointless after two games.

MLS Cup: Toronto FC all about the team

Toronto FC defender Nick Hagglund, center, celebrates his goal against the Montreal Impact with teammates Michael Bradley, right, and Steven Beitashour (33) during the second half of the second leg of MLS Eastern Conference championship series, in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Toronto, Ontario (AP) Team has been the theme for Toronto FC in the buildup to the MLS Cup final.

From boisterous practices to team-first media interviews, the All for One club motto has been plain to see ahead of the championship game Saturday against the visiting Seattle Sounders.

“You don’t get to this point by mistake or by accident. You get here because a group of special guys who have all bought into a philosophy, an identity,” said Toronto midfielder Will Johnson, an MLS Cup winner with Real Salt Lake and Portland.

“I say the same about Seattle. They’re bought into what they’re good at. We’re bought in, very motivated and want to sacrifice and put aside egos to get to a point as a team to compete for the big trophy.”

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

Star striker Jozy Altidore, no fan of chatting with the media, was downright prickly when a reporter asked him if he had taken time to reflect on his personal journey to the championship game.

“No,” he said definitively. “This isn’t personal, this is a team game. We’re here to try to help Toronto to be a winning team. This has nothing to do with individuals. So it has nothing to do with what I’ve been through. This is what the city’s been through, what the fans have been through, what this club has been through. That’s far more important.”

Fullback Justin Morrow, a seven-year MLS veteran, has never played this deep into the season before.

“Each week we build on top of each other and we get closer as the year goes on. It really feels like it’s a culmination this week,” he said.

[ UCL: Who can Arsenal, Man City, Leicester draw? ]

Coach Greg Vanney has made a point of praising the entire squad, including reserves who function as the scout team in practice. While he has done soccer’s equivalent of shortening his bench for the playoffs, the squad has stayed on point. If anyone has beefs, they have been kept to themselves.

That’s no small feat considering the salaries on the squad range from $7.12 million for star striker Sebastian Giovinco to $51,500 for youngsters Mo Babouli and Tsubasa Endoh.

For Morrow, being part of a tight-knit group allows you to forget that it is your job.

“When teams aren’t doing well, players tend to focus on that – their job and not about the other people on the team,” Morrow said. “And I think when teams are doing well, it becomes about the relationships between the players.”

Report: Atlanta United to acquire Parkhurst; Guardado hopes fading

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 12:  Michael Parkhurst #4 of the Columbus Crew SC controls the ball against against the Philadelphia Union on March 12, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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Atlanta United is adding MLS experience to its high-flying international acquisitions.

The expansion side is set to acquire Michael Parkhurst from the Columbus Crew, according to a report from The Sporting News.

[ MORE: Mourinho worried about Zorya pitch ]

Parkhurst, 32, has been a fixture for the Crew since returning to MLS after stints with Nordsjælland and FC Augsburg. The 25-times capped American defender would join a relatively loaded expansion unit that reportedly will also add veteran Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

Unfortunately for Atlanta, it seems the first-year club’s hopes of landing Mexican star Andres Guardado are fading.

From Ives Galarcep for The Sporting News:

The club has one remaining designated player slot it is expected to fill ahead of its inaugural 2017 season, but transfer target Andres Guardado appears less likely to be the player to fill that slot, sources have told Goal USA.

The Crew was a massive disappointment last season, failing to make the playoffs one season after making a run to the MLS Cup Final. Is Parkhurst a good gamble for Atlanta?

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Men in Blazers podcast: Conte v. Pep, Cherries comeback, Spurs-Swans

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Rog and Davo relive the tactical battle between Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola, marvel at tiny Bournemouth’s comeback win over high-flying Liverpool and duck-and-cover while recapping Spurs 5-0 Swansea.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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Mourinho accepts Zorya compliment, but says best coach “doesn’t exist”

Manchester United's coach Jose Mourinho, centre, attends a training session with his team at Chernomorets stadium in Odessa, Ukraine, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, ahead of Thursday's Europa League group A soccer match against FC Zorya Luhansk. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
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On the eve of his side playing Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League, Zorya Luhansk boss Yuriy Vernydub called counterpart Jose Mourinho the best manager in the world.

And Mourinho disagreed.

Well, in principle.

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

The Portuguese was flattered by Vernydub’s compliments and isn’t one to turn down praise. Yet at the same time, Mourinho thinks a coach’s success is year-to-year. There’s no clear best in the sport, according to Mou.

From ManUtd.com:

“He was nice by saying that but I don’t think he is right. I don’t think there is a best coach in the world. It doesn’t exist in my opinion. Every season one has to win the FIFA Gold Ball but I don’t think there is the best. You can say the best of the year and that I agree. Every year there is one with the most important result. So he is just being nice, no more than that.”

That’s almost meta, Mou.

Conceptually we understand, and Mourinho would feel he was the best in the world three seasons ago but not last year or this year (yet). Yet it’s difficult to say that the bodies of work from Pep Guardiola, Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Unai Emery, Antonio Conte, Luis Enrique, and Jurgen Klopp couldn’t be measured against each other, right?

[ MORE: United, Saints advancement scenarios ]

Onto the little picture Mourinho is worried about a potentially rock hard pitch at Zorya affecting the game. This, from the BBC:

“The pitch is very hard, the pitch is very icy,” said United boss Mourinho.

“They are putting warmth on the top of it, but the pitch is very difficult and people cannot make miracles. Let’s hope everything goes well.”

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