Southampton 2-0 Swansea City: Saints with another clean sheet to move into top 4 (Video)

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Clinical finishes and solid defending have handed Southampton their fourth win of the season at St. Mary’s as they continue to impress, moving into fourth place in the Premier League table.

Southampton have allowed just two goals all season, as their defense has been a major story of this Premier League season.  On the other end, Adam Lallana and substitute Jay Rodriguez bore the attacking fruit to secure the points.

Both sides pressed early on trying to find their feet, but Southampton were no doubt the more organized side from the get go.  The visitors found it difficult to build from the midfield, with a combination of sloppy passing and precise Saints tackles being their undoing.

The home side bagged their deserved opener in the 19th minute, moving the ball around all over the attacking third, twisting and contorting the Swans defensive shape until it broke.

The ball found the feet of 20-year-old Ben Davies, who expertly slotted through a streaking Adam Lallana who settled with his first touch, and fired a laser beam into the top corner with his second.

The goal seemed to put an extra spring in the Saints’ step, but in a few minutes Swansea began to build a serious response.

The Southampton defense, which has conceded just two goals this season, did its first real work in the 26th minute, with Boruc saving twice, first on a low Shelvey shot, then parrying a header from Bony a few minutes later.  The Ivorian tested Boruc again the 31st minute, forcing another full-stretch save with a low shot from distance.

The Swans came as close as you possibly can to an equalizer in the 36th minute. Bony backheeled to Nathan Dyer on the wing, which sprung him to make a run into the box. He blasted a shot which hit the inside of the goal post’s top corner and caromed away.  For the home side they will feel lucky to have not conceded, but for sure the visitors they will feel it was deserving of a goal.

Swansea picked up where they left off in the second half, but continued to be baffled by the Saints organized defense and could not get a result.  The game remained a hard-fought battle on the edges of each box.

Victor Wanyama nearly put the game out of reach with his first Premier League goal on a corner in the 76th minute, but referee Mike Dean called play back for a foul in the buildup.

His counterpart, however, would pick up the team’s second.  Substitute Jay Rodriguez grabbed his first of the season when he beat both Chico Flores and Jordi Amat to a long ball and slotted past Vorm to the delight of the home crowd.

That was all she wrote for Swansea, who could not muster anything else on the attacking end.  The Swans will feel hard done by the result, as they were not poor enough to be two-goal losers, but in the end they could not produce the final ball against the sharp Saints defense.

GOALS:

Southampton – Lallana 13′, Rodriguez 83′

LINEUPS:

Southampton – Boruc; Clyne, Fonte, Lovern, Fox; Schneiderlin, Wanyama, S. Davis (Prado, 69′); Lallana, Lambert (Rodriguez, 68′); Osvaldo (Ward-Prowse, 58′).

Swansea City – Vorm; Rangel, Amat, Flores, Davis; Canas, Shelvey; Michu, Dyer, Routledge (Pozuelo, 67′); Bony.

Germany’s players have big-money incentive to win World Cup

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BERLIN (AP) Germany’s players will each receive $410,000 bonus if the team defends its World Cup title next year in Russia.

The German soccer federation says it has agreed to a performance-related bonus system for the team, as it did for the successful 2014 World Cup campaign and the last two European Championships.

Bonuses will only be paid upon reaching the quarterfinals, when each player would receive $90,000. That will increase to $150,000 for reaching the semifinals, $175,000 for third place and $235,000 for reaching the final.

Only Italy (1934 and 1938) and Brazil (1958 and 1962) have won back-to-back World Cup titles.

West Ham targeting Wilshere transfer in January

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David Moyes has stated his desire to sign Jack Wilshere during the January transfer window, as West Ham United battle relegation and attempt to secure their Premier League status for next season.

[ MORE: Newcastle sale closer after improved bid of $400 million ]

Wilshere, who’s made just five PL appearance (all as a substitute) this season for Arsenal, after spending last season on loan at Bournemouth (27 appearances, including 22 starts), will be out of contract with the Gunners in the summer and it’s looking less and less likely that the 25-year-old has a long-term future at the club. Thus, he would almost certainly be allowed to leave and recoup something — anything — next month.

As such, Moyes, whose West Ham side currently sits 19th in the league table after a disastrous start to the season which ultimately saw Slaven Bilic fired, sees an opportunity to bring in an international-caliber player, on the cheap, at exactly the right time — quotes from the Guardian:

“You’d hope that if you took a player from another Premier League club it’d be much easier for him to go right into the team and play well. Jack Wilshere would be someone who we’d have to look at if he was available.

“I do believe the transfer window could be the difference between relegation and staying up. If we can get the right players, that’s the big part of it.

“I also want to make sure we’re looking at players who’ve got time and who can be at the club for a long period and not just in for a short period. Then there’s also the short-term fix for me which is, how do we get enough wins between now and the end of the season? There’s a balance between that.”

Wilshere’s (waning) chances of making the England team for next summer’s World Cup undoubtedly hinge upon him playing a majority of minutes during the second half of the season and finding a patch of remarkably good form. Suffice to say, he’d likely to be quite interested in a move — especially one that would keep him in London.

Dyche: “Football is about dreams,” and this is Burnley’s

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Burnley challenging for, and ultimately finishing in, a top-four place in the Premier League would be the most unexpected outcome in England’s top flight since… well, Leicester City won the title 18 months ago.

[ MORE: Newcastle sale closer after improved bid of $400 million ]

While the Foxes might have desensitized us with regards to what constitutes a feel-good story, one cannot simply ignore the astonishing, unexpected nature of the Clarets currently occupying fourth place in the PL table, just shy of the season’s halfway mark.

Sure, all three of Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have a game in hand (all to be played on Wednesday) and would overtake Sean Dyche‘s side with a win, but even then “seventh-place Burnley” is a phrase that is only slightly less remarkable.

Following his side’s 1-0 victory over Stoke City on Tuesday, Dyche something like a romantic, referring to Burnley’s run as a “dream” given those lofty levels of overachievement — quotes from the BBC:

“It’s a run of results and a start which the fans are enjoying and rightly so.

“Football is about realities but also about dreams. It’s a tough task for us winning games at this level, but Leicester blew the roof off dreams in football.”

“We found a way to win and a fine goal. We’re not the real deal, we’re a side that are improving.

“I keep reality because this division will eat you alive. We’re having a real go at what we can achieve this season.”

Report: Newcastle sale closer after improved bid of $400 million

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The Geordie dream appears one giant step closer to reality after Amanda Staveley has reportedly made a significantly larger bid in her attempt to purchase Newcastle United from long-embattled owner Mike Ashley.

[ TIMELINE: Ashley puts club up for sale | Staveley’s first bid rejected ]

According to multiple reports out of the UK — the Telegraph offers the most information at this time — Staveley has increased her initial offer from $335 million to today’s $400-million figure which is expected to be enough to convince Ashley to accept and bring to an end his decade-long, rocky relationship with the Toon Army.

Ashley purchased the club for $177 million back in 2007 and has reportedly invested somewhere in the neighborhood of another $177 million, in the form of interest-free loans, during his stewardship. He stands to make a sizable profit in light of today’s reports, though his original asking price of $534 million is nowhere close to being met.

[ STREAM: Newcastle host Everton — Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. ET ]

The biggest question which remains — now that will he or won’t he sell? appears to have been answered — is how quickly the deal can be completed, thus allowing Staveley to back manager Rafa Benitez during the January transfer window. Once the two sides enter into deeper takeover talks and the process of transferring ownership from one to the other begins, a transfer embargo will be activated.

Benitez and Ashley traded verbal jabs over the club’s transfer dealings — or, lack thereof — in the summer, and the Spaniard has again this week insisted significant investment is needed in January, otherwise the Magpies could very well be relegated, once again. After a strong start to the season, Newcastle are winless in their last seven Premier League games (six losses) and have tumbled to 16th in the league table, now just two points clear of the relegation zone.