Arsenal 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur: Giroud form continues as Gunners quality too much for rivals (Video)

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Spurs spent all the money, and Arsenal hadn’t parted a dollar, a euro, or a pound. Yet it was the Gunners who proved of higher quality at the Emirates winning 1-0 on an early Olivier Giroud strike.

The match started just how everyone had hoped – open, pacey, and lots of chances.  A pair of early Arsenal free kicks came close, forcing a Hugo Lloris save and sending another just wide.

The ball continued to flow back and forth between each attacking third, and in the 13th minute Roberto Soldado had a great chance in front of net but his close-range shot couldn’t find a way around Per Mertesacker.

Giroud was the man to open the scoring in the 23rd minute as he beat Michael Dawson cutting across the box, latched onto a low cross from Theo Walcott, and expertly slotted it home.  It’s the third goal of the season for the Frenchman who had previously earned a national team call-up thanks to his great early-season form.

Aaaron Ramsey should have doubled the lead seven minutes later when the ball found his feet with space in the box but his shot came closer to the surface of the moon than it did the back of the net.  The Arsenal counter attack continued to trouble Spurs, as Hugo Lloris had to come out of his goal two minutes later and make a pinpoint tackle on Walcott.  Tomas Rosicky came out of it with a booking for a bad follow-up tackle.

Spurs maintained decent possession in the midfield, but they found it difficult to get forward with creativity. Andros Townsend proved their most threatening asset, but he was unable to find anything of real trouble for Wojceich Szczesny.

The second half looked very much like the first, as Spurs pumped the ball down the right flank with Kyle Walker and Townsend.  Aaron Ramsey remained a force in the midfield for Arsenal, as the Gunners built everything out of the midfield through the 22-year-old.

source: ReutersThe counter-attack again caused Spurs problems as twice around the 60th minute Santi Cazorla quarterbacked the break with a number of options.  In the 63rd Cazorla picked out Giroud but his bouncing effort flashed just wide in search of a second.  Then in the 70th minute Cazorla found Walcott streaking down the right but Lloris came out strong to pluck the ball from Walcott’s feet before he could get a shot off.

Minutes later a battle in the midfield saw the falling body of Cazorla roll up on the ankle and lower leg of Etienne Capoue, who fell in serious pain, and was stretchered off and replaced by Sandro.  Directly after, Spurs came oh so close as the free kick wasn’t dealt with and substitute Jermain Defoe blasted a wobbly volley that tested a diving Szczesny. The rebound fell to Kyle Walker who ripped it wide from long range.

Arsenal would have had a second as Nacho Monreal nearly popped in a Lloris rebound with his first touch, but Jan Vertonghen’s last-ditch tackle foiled the substitute.  Spurs frantically threw players forward in extra time and pumped the ball on goal, but it just produced one good chance for Walker who whiffed entirely at a shot in space.

On the day, the pace and accuracy of Walcott, Cazorla, and Giroud and the organization of the back four plus Ramsey was just too much for Spurs to try and break through.  A deserved victory for the home team, and the failures on opening day against Aston Villa seem months away.  On to deadline day then, shall we?

Lineups:

Arsenal – Wojciech Szczesny; Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Carl Jenkinson, Kieran Gibbs; Tomas Rosicky (Nacho Monreal 79′), Jack Wilshire (Mathieu Flamini, 43′), Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott (Bacary Sagna, 90+2′); Santi Cazorla; Olivier Giroud.

Tottenham – Hugo Lloris; Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Jan Vertonghen, Michael Dawson; Paulinho, Etienne Capoue (Sandro, 74′), Andros Townsend (Erik Lamela, 75′), Mousa Dembele (Jermain Defoe 69′), Nacer Chadli; Roberto Soldado.

Wigan boss defends fans after pitch-storming

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Wigan Athletic boss Paul Cook is defending his supporters following a memorable upset of Manchester City in the FA Cup.

[ MORE: Europa League draw ]

Latics fans stormed the pitch at the DW Stadium, a celebratory but dangerous scene which included “disturbances” between supporters of both clubs and a confronration between fans and Sergio Aguero.

But it takes just a look at the above photo to see both sides of the issues, as the photographer at right catches fans and players celebrating together… while Aguero rages behind him.

From Sky Sports:

“You’ve got to remember the pure emotions of the night for Wigan fans,” he said.

“They didn’t really turn up to see us win – that’s the truth of it. I’ve got a picture of my son in the directors’ box – he’s only 12 – with his head in his hands looking at the floor because he couldn’t watch.

“We certainly don’t want to see fans engaging with players. The players’ protection is absolutely paramount. But also the supporters enjoying that moment is a good thing for me.”

There is, also, this photo to show the other side of the scenario. Ultimately in our era, this type should sadly be prevented to defy the potential for the latter. That’s sad, but it’s a litigious world.

Dan Burn of Wigan Athletic celebrates. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Premier League Preview: Watford vs. Everton

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  • Watford has two wins in last 14 PL matches
  • Toffees won 3-2 at Goodison on Nov. 5
  • Watford leads all-time 19W-3D-3L

Two top half hopefuls meet at Vicarage Road in a reprise of an early season thriller when Watford hosts Everton on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Everton is in a battle for seventh with Burnley and Leicester City, and could finish the weekend there with a win and help.

Watford has to chance to finish in the top half. It’d be there already had it not coughed up a 2-0 lead to then-caretaker manager David Unsworth‘s Everton in a 3-2 loss on Nov. 5.

What they’re saying

Watford’s Jose Holebas on the match“We have to do something in this game. When we played there, we were 2-0 up and gave the game away in that way – it is unacceptable for me. I was a little bit emotional because I know that this season we have lost some points [from winning positions].”

Everton’s Sam Allardyce on his style critics“The type of football we’ve produced isn’t rubbish, we’ve produced proper football in terms of what we’ve tried to achieve. The past reputation is not the reality if you ask the players, so you look at the football we’ve played since I’ve been here.”

Prediction

Police say officer collapsed by himself during fan violence

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MADRID (AP) The riot police officer who died of cardiac arrest during crowd trouble before a Europa League match in Spain collapsed on his own and not in a direct confrontation with fans, authorities said Friday.

Officials in the Basque region of Spain said doctors dismissed the possibility the cardiac arrest was caused by any type of trauma sustained by the officer in fighting that took place before the match between Athletic Bilbao and Russian club Spartak Moscow on Thursday.

[ MORE: Europa League draw ]

There had been conflicting reports about what caused the officer’s death, with some saying he might have been involved in a struggle with fans or was hit by one of the many objects being thrown during the altercation.

Five people remained detained – three Russian nationals and two Spaniards – following the violent clashes that took place less than four months before the World Cup is held in Russia.

Authorities identified the victim as 51-year-old Inocencio Alonso Garcia and said he “suddenly felt ill in the course of the serious incidents” that took place outside San Mames Stadium in the northern city of Bilbao.

They said the officer was quickly transported from the scene but went into cardiac arrest before arriving at the nearby Basurto hospital. Doctors said they tried to revive him for more than an hour.

Video footage published by local media appeared to show the moment the officer collapsed while standing near the fighting along with other policemen.

Other images of the clashes showed fans hitting each other, and a group of policemen striking a man on the ground after he fell trying to run away.

The officer who died was among the large police force summoned to try to keep order as several hundred Russian fans – many of them considered by local authorities as radical ultras – arrived in the city for the round-of-32 match in Europe’s second-tier club competition.

The trouble erupted as police were escorting Spartak fans into the stadium and a stray group allegedly started igniting fireworks and throwing flares and objects toward Athletic supporters and police officers.

[ PL PREVIEW: Liverpool vs. West Ham ]

Police said “violent fans from both clubs” participated in the fighting which spread onto the streets near the stadium located in a central area of Bilbao. Many fans were seen trying to run away from the trouble as fireworks went off all around.

Authorities said they had identified several people before the fighting carrying items that included knives, iron bars, brass knuckles and even bags of stones.

There had been reports of other minor clashes involving Russian fans in Bilbao ahead of Thursday’s match, which Spartak won 2-1. Athletic advanced despite the loss, winning the tie 4-3 on aggregate.

UEFA condemned the violent clashes and said it was in contact with local authorities to obtain more information on the incidents, while Spanish league president Javier Tebas called for action by FIFA and UEFA to halt fan violence.

Bilbao will host matches in the 2020 European Championship. Six years ago, a fan died in the city in clashes after a match between Athletic and German club Schalke.

Earlier Thursday, German police arrested a Russian suspected of seriously injuring a British soccer fan during the European Championship in France two years ago.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

Premier League Preview: Leicester City vs. Stoke City

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  • Foxes unbeaten in five vs. Stoke
  • Drew 2-2 at the Potteries on Nov. 4
  • Leicester leads all-time 34W-34D-31L

Leicester City can rejoin the Top Seven with a win and help on Friday when it hosts relegation-threatened Stoke City (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).

The Foxes sit eighth in the Premier League table, a point back of Burnley (The Clarets host Southampton on Saturday)

Stoke, meanwhile, is two points back of safety. The half-full glass says the Potters have only lost once since Paul Lambert took over as boss, but the half-empty one sees draws against Watford and Brighton to go a loss at Bournemouth.

What they’re saying

Leicester boss Claude Puel on Stoke’s fortunes: “Shaqiri can make the difference and at the moment they play well with a good fighting spirit. I think they play good football on the floor. When they recover the ball they try to get in behind and make good pressing on the opponent. Shaqiri has more freedom and plays between the lines and they are a good team at this moment.”

Stoke’s Xherdan Shaqiri on Paul Lambert’s style“He has a German mentality with his teams… I’m really glad he came here. With German teams they always sit together – there are no phones on the table. It’s brought us more together – when you eat together you have to speak more to other team-mates who you don’t normally speak to. It’s a good thing.”

Prediction

Phone ban or no, it will take improved communication to deal with Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, and Adrien Silva. Leicester gets another win, 3-0.