Jack Wilshere

West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Arsenal: Wilshere strike seals away point but Arsenal yearn for more


Arsenal came back from a losing position to pick up a point at The Hawthornes and go top of the Premier League table with a 1-1 draw, but will wish they could have made more of their relative domination.

Jack Wilshere’s deflected shot found the back of the net to cancel out Claudio Yacob’s first half header.

Finishing with more possession and more shots, Arsenal only put five shots on target and could not unlock the West Brom defense to find a winner.

Saido Berainho made his first Premier League start for West Brom and got things off to a hot start. He nearly put a lucky strike in the back of the net in the 15th minute, but Wojciech Szczesny did well to react to the deflection off Berainho’s shot to make the diving save.

Arsenal were searching, clawing at the West Brom in the opening half, but the central partnership of the Baggies defense kept Giroud and company relatively at bay.

As West Brom looked to get themselves into the match, they struggled to maintain possession, but a moment of perfection changed the run of play.

Having earned a corner in the 42nd minute, the corner was a poor one from Morgan Amalfitano, but the ball came back to the French winger and he fired in a pinpoint cross which Claudio Yacob banged home for the opener.

It was the first time all season that Arsenal had conceded the first goal of a match, this season, a streak of 15 matches in all competitions dating back to last season.

source: Getty Images
Claudio Yacob and West Brom will be happy to hold the Premier League leaders to a point at home.

West Brom seemed to have new life after scoring, and it translated into the second half.

Less than two minutes into the second half, the Baggies nearly had another.  On the break, Berainho sent in an absolutely brilliant low cross – so good that Nicolas Anelka was surprised that it found his feet and didn’t react in time before his momentum carried him out of danger to Szczesny’s goal.

Five minutes later, Anelka got another chance but again he couldn’t put it on net, dragging his shot just wide from a very tight angle.

Arsenal began to work themselves back wide, something that had been sorely lacking in the first half.  Wenger brought off Aaron Ramsey, who was struggling on the wing, and brought on Tomas Rosicky. The change sparked the squad, and they responded.

Olivier Giroud won himself some space, and he found Rosicky in the box.  The winger laid it off to Jack Wilshere, who unleashed a powerful strike that took a deflection just enough to cause Jaaskelainen to hesitate and the ball found the goal.

Arsenal, now level, returned to their dominating ways of early in the first half, but struggled to find another final product for the win.

West Bromwich Albion climb out of the relegation zone with the three points, moving all the way up to 12th with nine points and sends them off to Stoke City next with a chance to go top 10.


West Bromwich Albion – Yacob 42′
Arsenal – Wilshere 63′


West Bromwich Albion – Myhill; Olsson, Ridgewell, McAuley, Jones; Yacob, Mulumbu, Sessegnon (Morrison, 78′), Amalfitano (Brunt, 89′); Anelka (Long, 69′), Berainho.

Arsenal – Szczesny; Mertesacker, Koscienly, Jenkinson, Gibbs; Arteta, Wilshere, Ramsey (Rosicky, 59′), Flamini, Ozil; Giroud (Bendtner, 85′).

LIVE: Man City, Stoke, Everton face second-tier teams in League Cup quarters

Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City FC
Leave a comment

Three of the four Capital One Cup quarterfinals take place on Tuesday with three Premier League teams facing second-tier opposition.

“What’s that, did somebody say banana skin?”

[ MORE: Follow League Cup scores live

Manchester City host Hull City at the Etihad Stadium with Manuel Pellegrini‘s side hoping to have David Silva back in the starting lineup but Joe Hart is still out injured so Willy Caballero will continue in goal. Steve Bruce‘s side drew 1-1 at the Etihad last season when they visited City before being relegated from the Premier League. The Tigers are fighting for instant promotion back to the big-time and knocked out Leicester City on penalty kicks in the last round.

Everton face a tricky trip to the Riverside Stadium as Roberto Martinez and the Toffees play Middlesbrough. Aitor Karanka’s side lost in the play-off final to Norwich last season but are looking good for promotion this term as they sit second in the second-tier and knocked out Manchester United on penalty kicks in the last round. Can Everton sort out their defensive frailties?

A third PL club has a tricky test coming up on Tuesday as Stoke City’s reward for beating Chelsea on PKs in the last round is a home game against Sheffield Wednesday. This will be no stroll in the park for Mark Hughes‘ side as the second-tier Owls comfortably knocked off Arsenal in the last round and this game has “cupset” written all over it.

Below are the fixtures for Tuesday as you can click on the link above to follow all the games live.

League Cup quarterfinals


Manchester City vs. Hull City – 2:45 p.m. ET
Middlesbrough vs. Everton – 2:45 p.m. ET
Stoke City vs. Sheffield Wednesday – 2:45 p.m. ET

FIFA sponsors demand “independent oversight” of reforms

Leave a comment

LONDON (AP) Five of FIFA’s sponsors have written to the executive committee of soccer’s scandal-battered governing body demanding “independent oversight” of the reform process.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s new stadium plans ]

Sponsors were originally promised places on the FIFA reform committee. But instead of being invited into meetings discussing the overhaul of the organization, they have only been offered seats on an advisory board which is yet to be appointed.

The sponsors’ letter was sent from Adidas, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Visa and Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch to FIFA’s ruling body ahead of meetings this week.

[ MORE: Chelsea, United battle for Muller

The letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press, says it is “clear to us that such independent oversight needs to run long-term through the implementation and evolution of the reform process.”

The reform committee was established following the indictment of soccer officials by American authorities.

VIDEO: Gerrard returns to Liverpool for training in MLS offseason

Liverpool v Sunderland - Premier League
Leave a comment

Steven Gerrard is back at Liverpool.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s new stadium plans ]

The legendary midfielder, 35, has returned to the Reds just six months after leaving his hometown club for a new adventure in Major League Soccer with the LA Galaxy.

Gerrard spent a glittering 17-years at Anfield, guiding Liverpool to the UEFA Champions League title and winning every other major title except for the elusive Premier League crown.

[ MORE: Chelsea, United battle for Muller

After suffering an early exit from the 2015 MLS Cup playoffs with the Galaxy, Gerrard is now back in England and he’s using his time at home to train with Liverpool’s first-team and help out in any way he can as Jurgen Klopp has allowed him to come back into the dressing room he called home for nearly two decades.

“It’s a good situation,” Klopp said. “Everybody had a smile on their face when they saw Stevie. It’s good to have him here and we hope we can help him, and he can help us for sure with being in the dressing room. It’s cool.”

Below are photos and videos from Gerrard’s return as Klopp once again quashed any rumors regarding a loan move for the former Liverpool skipper who will enter his first full MLS season in 2016 with the Galaxy.

French PM says Benzema has no place on national team

Karim Benzema, France
1 Comment

PARIS (AP) The French prime minister joined in the criticism of Karim Benzema on Tuesday, saying the Real Madrid striker “has no place” on the France team at the European Championship in the wake of a blackmail scandal.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s new stadium plans ]

Benzema is one of France’s key players as it gets ready to host the Euro 2016 tournament, but the forward faces charges of conspiracy to blackmail relating to an extortion scam over a sex tape. He is suspected of having played an active role in pressuring France teammate Mathieu Valbuena, a case that has badly damaged his reputation.

“A great athlete should be exemplary,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls told French radio Europe 1. “If he is not, he has no place within the France team.”

The investigation, centering on wiretap evidence, started when Valbuena took legal action after being contacted by a man claiming to possess an incriminating sex tape.

In a case that could drag on for months, Benzema’s involvement has not yet been fully determined. But investigators who charged him in October believe he was approached by a childhood friend to act as an intermediary and convince Valbuena to deal directly with the blackmailers.

“If a minister was handed preliminary charges, he would no longer be part of the government,” Valls said.

Benzema denies any wrongdoing but his arguments were undermined last week when Valbuena spoke directly about his attempts to pressure him in an interview with Le Monde newspaper.

[ MORE: City now valued at $3 billion ]

The French football federation has also joined the case as plaintiff.

“There are so many kids, so many youngsters in our suburbs that relate to great athletes,” Valls said. “They wear the blue jersey, the colors of France, which are so important in these moments.”

Preliminary charges under French law mean magistrates have strong reason to believe a crime was committed, and allow time for further investigation. The charges may later be dropped. In 2010, Benzema was handed preliminary charges for soliciting an underage prostitute but was acquitted in a case that lasted more than three years and tarnished his reputation.

Benzema’s image was further dented last month when he spat on the pitch after the national anthem was played at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium in a tribute to the 130 fatalities of the Paris attacks ahead of a match against Barcelona.

Benzema’s action ignited a wave of criticism on social media, prompting his lawyers to issue a statement in which they condemned “the scandalous interpretation” of the incident. Benzema, who has 27 international goals, had posted several messages in support of the victims in the days that followed the attacks.