Premier League Preview: Swansea City vs. Arsenal

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  • Swansea haven’t won any of their last seven league games at home
  • Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey has scored 7 goals in 7 games this season
  • The Gunners have lost two of their last 21 PL games (16-2-3)

Arsenal will go into the game against Swansea on Saturday (12:30pm ET live on NBC and online via NBC Sports Live Extra) looking for their 12th straight away win, extending a club record.

And with the form their currently in, not many would bet against it.

During the week Arsenal’s majority shareholder Stan Kroenke has publicly backed Arsene Wenger to stay in charge for many more season, with the Frenchman celebrating his 17 years in charge this week.

As for the home side, Swansea will be buoyant after two wins in their last three league games and a great point at home against Liverpool. They’ve also prospered in the Europa League with a 3-0 win against Valencia in Spain, but came crashing down to earth on Wednesday night as they lost to Birmingham City in the third round of the League Cup, to surrender the trophy they won last year at the very first hurdle. Three games in six days is hard for a squad of Swansea’s size to handle.

As a result of that, Swans manager Michael Laudrup will be looking for a reaction in what will be a beautiful game of soccer between two teams who to stroke the ball around. Swansea have seen Spanish striker Michu deliver the goods in the past two Premier League games, and he must be on top form if they going to take anything from this.

Arsenal sit top of the table, with the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil running the show, but injuries are stacking up for the Gunners which is the main threat to derailing their title ambitions.

Ramsey is touch and go for the game in his homeland, while Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tomas Rosicky are all out injured.

Swansea have no real injury concerns, as Ashely Williams should return to the action after missing their midweek League Cup defeat. Look forward to a game full of creative passing, flowing movements and clinical finishing. This will be a real cracker.

What they’re saying

Arsene Wenger on 17 years in charge at Arsenal: “For me the most interesting is tomorrow’s game. [I’ve never thought] that I don’t really need this anymore. I want it even more. I think the good thing about football is that it’s unpredictable and the next game is always a discovery and a new adventure and so you focus on that. All the rest is decoration. What is important is that you feel you can do your job where you are and I’m very grateful to this club because during the 17 years we’ve had ups and downs, but they have always shown a big faith in me and they always let me do the job like I thought it had to be done.”

Michael Laudrup on having so many games in a short space of time: “Europe can be a hindrance. You see it not just in this country but all over Europe, especially with teams who are not used to playing European football like us. But it is not so much tiredness physically, but because of all the games players can lose a bit of focus. It’s not even the number of games but the fact that you can have three matches in three different competitions in six days, like we have just had.”

Prediction

This should be one of the purest spectacles of soccer you will see in the Premier League this season, as both teams will look to keep the ball and penetrate through the center with lovely creative movements. The Gunners are on a roll, but with their injury list growing longer, a draw away at the Liberty Stadium would be a good result. And I think that’s exactly what will happen, as two free-flowing sides will cancel each other out. Goals galore, hopefully.

Independiente and Flamengo meet for South American trophy

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SAO PAULO (AP) Independiente, relegated for the first time in its history in 2013, can complete a remarkable turnaround by winning the Copa Sudamericana at the Maracana Stadium on Wednesday.

[ MORE: LA FC selects Urena, four others in MLS Expansion Draft ]

The Argentine team will go into the second leg of the final holding a 2-1 lead over Brazilian club Flamengo from the first leg.

Independiente, which has won multiple titles in South American tournaments, will be counting on 18-year-old midfielder Ezequiel Barco, one of the best players in this year’s competition.

Flamengo is also seeking to restore some pride in Rio de Janeiro. The big-spending Brazilian club, playing in its first Copa Sudamericana final, finished its domestic championship in a disappointing sixth place.

The Rio team will be without Peru striker Paolo Guerrero, who is serving a one-year doping ban.

Instead, veteran midfielder Diego will be the key player as Flamengo looks to claim its first regional title since winning the now-defunct Copa Mercosur in 1999.

After Independiente won the first leg, the club posted on its social media channels a picture of its players celebrating at the Maracana in 1995 when the two teams played for the Supercopa.

If the Argentines lose 1-0 on Wednesday, there will be a penalty shootout to decide the winner.

Last year, Brazilian club Chapecoense was awarded the title before the final after 19 players, plus club directors and several members of staff, died in an air crash.

The Copa Sudamericana is the continent’s second most prestigious tournament after the Copa Libertadores.

Bundesliga wrap: Dortmund wins in Stoger’s managerial debut

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For the first time since late September, Borussia Dortmund has won a league match, while Leipzig’s slip up opens the door for Bayern Munich to extend its lead in Germany’s top flight.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Huddersfield, level on points with Man United ]

Here’s a brief look at all of Tuesday’s Bundesliga action.

Mainz 0-2 Borussia Dortmund

10 points separates Dortmund from league leaders Bayern Munich, who also have a match in hand, but for the moment, the bleeding his stopped. BVB picked up a crucial win on Tuesday to end its domestic woes upon manager Peter Stoger’s debut. The side’s drought stretched over an eight-match winless period. Second-half goals from Sokratis and Shinji Kagawa moved Dortmund into the top four, while Mainz remains 15th in the league table.

 

Wolfsburg 1-1 Red Bull Leipzig

Meanwhile, RB Leipzig’s form continues to slide downward after the second-place side dropped points in its fourth straight match across all competitions. The road side’s fortunes were dampened early on when Paul Verhaegh converted from the penalty spot, however, Marcel Halstenberg did manage to pull a goal back for Leipzig in the 52nd minute. Leipzig’s misfortunes carried on in stoppage time though when Dayot Upamecano was sent off after picking up his second yellow card of the day.


The rest of Tuesday’s scores

Hamburg 1-2 Frankfurt
Freiburg 1-0 Borussia Monchengladbach

Inter beats 3rd-division Pordenone 5-4 on penalties in Cup

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MILAN (AP) Inter Milan scraped into the Italian Cup quarterfinals after the Serie A leader was taken to penalties by third-division Pordenone on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Huddersfield, moves level on points with Man United ]

Pordenone goalkeeper Simone Perilli pulled off several saves in regulation time to keep the game scoreless, and he almost proved to be the hero during the shootout, stopping two penalties.

But Inter prevailed 5-4, with Yuto Nagatomo tucking away the final spot kick.

Both sides hit the woodwork during the 120 minutes.

Inter coach Luciano Spalletti rang the changes, and only Milan Skriniar and Matias Vecino remained in the starting 11 from Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Juventus.

[ MORE: Burnley moves into top four after win over Stoke ]

However, he was forced by desperation to bring on Marcelo Brozovic at halftime as well as star forwards Ivan Perisic and Mauro Icardi.

Report: Cosmos coach Savarese to be named new Timbers manager

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In a time where NASL’s status moving forward is hanging in the balance, one of the league’s top managers is set to make the jump to Major League Soccer.

[ MORE: LA FC close to acquiring Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan ]

According to ESPN soccer analyst Taylor Twellman, New York Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese is set to be named the next Portland Timbers manager.

Savarese will take over for the recently departed Caleb Porter, who stepped down from his head coaching role with the Timbers in November.

The former professional player spent five seasons in MLS during his career, including stints with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars (now the Red Bulls), as well as the New England Revolution and the San Jose Earthquakes.

The 46-year-old has managed the Cosmos from 2013 to present, and guided the NASL side to three Soccer Bowl titles in that span.