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Swansea 1-2 Arsenal: Quickfire Gunners double downs Swans as Arsenal top table

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With Manchester City, Manchester United, and Chelsea all slipping up earlier on, Arsenal pounced on their chance to seize the top of the table.

A game billed as the two most beautiful styles of play in the Premier League saw Aaron Ramsey and Serge Gnabry pound the Gunners through 2-1 at Liberty Stadium.

Swansea started on top, as they pressed high up the pitch and didn’t leave Ozil and company with any space to work.  The midfield seemed to be where the battle would be won or lost, as both sides proved up for the match.

Ramsey started well for Arsenal to try and counter Swansea’s pressing with his physicality, and even dragged a shot just wide in the 14th minute.  This midfield play from Ramsey allowed Arsenal to gain more possession and eventually take hold of the game.

The home side did well to keep the Gunners out early – they had opened the scoring in all of their first five Premier League matches, all inside the first 23 minutes.

source: Getty Images
8 goals in 8 games for Aaron Ramsey this season as his score proved the difference.

The game sped up and slowed down over and over, like someone pressing the rewind and pause button on their DVR.  The best chance of the first half fell to Olivier Giroud, who appeared to twist his ankle just before extra time, but came back and fizzed a low shot just wide of Michel Vorm’s goal on the stroke of halftime.

Swansea began the second half firmly on the counter-attack, and it almost appeared that Arsenal seemed lost in possession, instead wishing they were the side playing on the counter.

Finally the breakthrough came int he 58th minute, with Ramsey brilliantly laying off to Gnabry in penalty-area traffic, and the 18-year-old slotted it by Vorm for his first Premier League goal.

It was a foreshadow of things to come, as the Arsenal side blistered with confidence following the opening.  Just three minutes later Ramsey won the ball with a pinpoint slide tackle, and he received the ball back from Giroud before touching once and finishing high. Its his eighth goal in eight games across all competitions this season.

Swansea pushed hard for an opportunity to get back into the game, and they got one back in the 82nd minute. Ben Davies made a run down the left side, and Wilfried Bony played a fantastic one-two with him, one-touching a lofted pass over the defense back to Davies who finished past Szczesny.

The goal gave the Swans hope and they threw everything they had at Arsenal in the final ten minutes, but it wasn’t enough as Arsenal bent but didn’t break to close it out.

The win now has Arsene Wenger’s side by themselves in first place with 15 points out of a possible 18.  It was a valiant effort by the home side, but against a top team in top form, they fell just short.  The loss leaves Swansea mired in the middle of the table on seven points, but many would expect to see them climb in the coming weeks.

Goals:

Arsenal – Gnabry 58′, Ramsey 62′
Swansea – Davies 82′

Lineups:

Swansea – Vorm; Amat, Chico, Tiendalli, Davies; Shelvey (Bony, 58′), Dyer, Routledge (Pozuelo, 64′), De Guzman, Canas; Michu.

Arsenal – Sczcesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Wilshire (Jenkinson, 90′), Flamini; Ramsey, Ozil (Monreal, 88′), Gnabry (Arteta, 77′); Giroud.

Gerrard urges Liverpool to “try and bid for Van Dijk”

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28:  Virgil van Dijk of Southampton celebrates as he scores their first goal during the Premier League match between Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur at St Mary's Stadium on December 28, 2016 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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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.

Report: San Diego making push to become future MLS expansion site

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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.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

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.

Hull’s Ryan Mason hospitalized following collision with Gary Cahill

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 22: Ryan Mason of Hull City lies injured after the collision with Gary Cahill of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Hull City at Stamford Bridge on January 22, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
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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.

Watch: Scott Sinclair nets stunning curler in Celtic victory

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Celtic is enjoying another fine campaign in Scotland, and much of the team’s success can be attributed to the play of Scott Sinclair.

[ MORE: Burkina Faso, Cameroon progress at AFCON 2017 ]

The Englishman was at it again on Sunday during Celtic’s 3-0 Scottish Cup win over Albion Rovers when the 27-year-old curled an absolutely sublime effort into the top corner for the game’s opening goal.

The finish, Sinclair’s 13th of the season in all competitions, came after the winger picked up the ball on the left side of the Albion penalty area. Sinclair then proceeded to slot his dipping shot just under the bar and into the far post.

Celtic now moves on to the fifth round of this season’s tournament, joining the likes of Rangers and Aberdeen. In addition to the team’s success in the competition, the Bhoys have yet to lose a match in the Scottish Premier League this campaign (19 W, 1 D).