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Newcastle 2-2 Liverpool: ten-man Newcastle hold on for a point (video)

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Liverpool were desperate to take all three points and move to the top of the table, at least until Arsenal face Norwich later on Saturday. Yet it was Newcastle that took the lead, before the half-hour was up. Yohan Cabaye took the ball in midfield and flew up the right, getting his shot off from more than 30 yards out. Simon Mignolet stood rooted to the spot, waiting too long to prevent the ball from flying into the back of the net. But there was little the goalkeeper could’ve done to prevent Cabaye’s shot, as it swerved and twisted, moving to the inside and back out again, before landing in goal.

Newcastle looked like they just might manage to keep their lead; despite a shaky centerback pairing in the absence of captain Fabricio Coloccini, the defense was holding strong. Until the 40th minute, that is. A ball from Daniel Sturridge sent Luis Suarez free up the right, causing Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa to panic and bring the Uruguayan down inside the area. That earned the French defender a straight red for denial of a clear goalscoring opportunity, and brought Steven Gerrard to the spot. His low shot to Tim Krul’s right brought Liverpool level, and gave the Reds captain his 100th Premier League goal.

With Newcastle down to ten men with 50 minutes left to play, it looked as though Liverpool would be able to pull off a comeback win and retake the number one spot in the table. But again, the hosts surprised, retaking the lead through a set piece goal. The free kick floated into the Liverpool area, and Kolo Toure got a piece of it. But his headed flick fell right to Paul Dummett, who’d come around the edge of the Liverpool defenders and was able to side foot the ball into the back of the net. What a great show for the defender, whose yet to make his Premier League debut.

Of course, the tale would’ve been far more dramatic if Daniel Sturridge hadn’t come along to erase Newcastle’s lead. Liverpool’s second equalizer of the afternoon came through another great interplay between Sturridge and Suarez, with the latter flicking the ball over an onrushing Tim Krul for Sturridge to tap in with his head.

The visitors were determined to leave with all three points, with Sturridge very nearly putting in another just a minute later. Two minutes after that, Suarez hit the bar. Liverpool very nearly had their fairy tale ending when, five minutes into the four added on, Andre Marriner gave a free kick when Suarez went down under a foul by Mathieu Debuchy. Krul managed to save the shot, however, and Newcastle escaped with a point.

Newcastle: Krul; Debuchy,Yanga-Mbiwa, Williamson, Santon; Cabaye (Anita 78), Tiote, Sissoko (Dummett 45); Gouffran, Ben Arfa (Sammy Ameobi 78), Remy

Subs not used: Elliot, Obertan, Shola Ameobi, Cisse

Goals: Cabaye 23′; Dummett 56′

Red Card: Yanga-Mbiwa 40′

Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson (Sterling 83), Cissokho, Toure, Skrtel, Sakho (Alberto 63), Henderson, Gerrard, Moses, Suarez, Sturridge

Subs not used: Jones, Agger, Kelly, Flanagan, Allen

Goals: Gerrard 42′; Sturridge 72′

Wenger slams criticism of Arsenal’s players ahead of fan protests

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Arsene Wenger is not a happy man.

I know, I know, tell us something we don’t know.

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However, the 66-year-old Gunners boss has taken exception to widespread criticism of his players ahead of fan protests against him which are planned for this Saturday’s game against Norwich (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via Live Extra) at the Emirates Stadium.

Speaking to the media on Friday, Wenger stood up for his players who are having their commitment questioned.

“I tell you, this team has character and attitude. Some people who question them, I know them well – they have less character than this team has. I saw them play, and even know them very closely, and they should not question the character of these players,” Wenger said. “There are some groups of people that try to manipulate our fans, but I believe apart from a personal agenda and a big ego there’s not a lot behind [the criticism].”

Okay then…

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With empty seats galore at the Emirates last Thursday during the 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion, Wenger had been dealing with growing fan unrest throughout this season.

Although Wenger urged fans of Arsenal to support the players on Saturday against Norwich he did admit he shares their frustration about limping out of the title race this season, of all seasons.

“I can understand the frustration,” Wenger said. “No one is more frustrated than me, but our disappointment has not to go too far. When a club cannot enjoy anything any more, it is in trouble, and we have to not forget that in football you go down very quickly and you come up very slowly.”

Arsenal looked certain to be making a title charge in February after they beat Leicester City late on but since that huge victory they’ve won just three of their last nine Premier League games, plus lost in the FA Cup to Watford and were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League by Barcelona at the Round of 16.

After two decades of Wenger in charge and no PL title in 12 years, Arsenal’s fans want more. They want trophies and success.

They also want answers from Wenger and as the protests on Saturday will show, the vast majority also want a new manager.

Goteborg apologizes over crowd trouble at abandoned match

GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN - OCTOBER 31:  IFK Goteborg receives the silver medal after the match between IFK Goteborg and Kalmar FF at Gamla Ullevi on October 31, 2015 in Gothenburg, Sweden.  (Photo by Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello/Getty Images)
Photo by Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello/Getty Images
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GOTEBORG, Sweden (AP) Swedish club IFK Goteborg has apologized for crowd trouble that resulted in a league match against Malmo being abandoned after a firework landed next to a visiting player warming up on the sidelines and he responded angrily.

Wednesday’s game was interrupted in the 77th minute, with the score at 0-0, when a firecracker tossed from the crowd exploded next to midfielder Tobias Sana, a former Goteborg player. Jolted by the loud bang, Sana reacted by throwing a corner flag into the stands.

[ WATCH: Sana throws corner flag into Goteborg fans ]

Match officials decided to abandon the match, saying a linesman who was also near the firework when it exploded was shocked by the incident.

Sana, who said he had a headache and ear pain following the incident, apologized for his actions.

“Now that I’ve gotten over the shock, I feel it was the stupidest decision of my life,” Sana said Thursday in statement. “There are many young people who look up to me so I really want to apologize.”

Malmo said that Sana wouldn’t face any sanctions from the club.

In a move suggesting the firework was thrown by home fans, Goteborg posted an apology on its website directed at Malmo, match officials and the spectators. The club could face sanctions from the Swedish football association’s disciplinary committee.

There was another security incident on a chaotic evening in Goteborg. After the match was suspended, a Norwegian hockey player ran onto the field, reportedly as part of a bet with teammates at recently crowned Swedish champion Frolunda.

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Newspaper Aftonbladet said Mats Rosseli Olsen, who played for Norway at the Sochi Olympics, was charged with a public order offense and could face fines.

Frolunda director Christian Lechtaler told Swedish news agency TT that Olsen’s behavior would have “consequences” but didn’t elaborate.

“Mats is very regretful and doesn’t feel good at all about this,” Lechtaler said.

Swedish football has been marred by crowd problems for years, including fans throwing objects at players and match officials and brawling with each other before or after games. Two years ago, a Djurgarden fan was killed after being attacked by hooligans ahead of an away match against Helsingborg.

Flores on future at Watford: “I need to feel happy”

during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Watford at the Boleyn Ground, April 20, 2016, London, England
Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
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On the surface, it sounds crazy: Why trade a manager who led a first-year Premier League club to relatively quick safety in England’s top flight and a FA Cup semifinal?

But Watford is not any club when it comes to their views on managers, having parted ways with Slavisa Jokanovic after the Serbian manager led them to promotion. Oh, and when hired Jokanovic was the Hornets fourth coach in five weeks.

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So current manager Quique Sanchez Flores isn’t safe despite the Hornets’ 12th place status. That probably has a lot to do with Watford’s four points since the start of March, a tough schedule run that included Leicester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and West Ham.

So, could he be gone this summer? Flores has a break clause after this season, and Watford may not have a choice even if they want to keep the Spaniard around.

From Sky Sports:

Asked if he wanted to stay, Flores said: “This is not the question for me now.

“I know the kind of people I want to work with. That’s the only thing I can say. In the last four or five years I work from my feelings. I work around people I feel completely protected with.

“These are my feelings. When we finish the season I will check what the conditions are but I need to feel happy.”

Who needs who the most? Flores’ season has been impressive even with the late struggles, but Watford’s managerial merry-go-round happened before the club advanced into the Premier League and they’ve survived despite making a change in the summer. Still, we’d do our best to keep Flores at Vicarage Road.

Ex-soccer star Weah to run again for president of Liberia

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - NOVEMBER 25: Liberia soccer legend George Weah speaks during the 2010 FIFA World Cup Preliminary Draw at the ICC convention centre on November 25, 2007 in Durban, South Africa.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
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MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) Former world footballer of the year George Weah says he will make a second bid to become president of Liberia.

The ex-AC Milan striker announced on Thursday he will stand as a candidate in elections next year, when current president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s second and final term ends.

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Weah, who formed the Congress for Democratic Change party, lost to Sirleaf in the 2005 election.

Declaring his intention to stand again, Weah told supporters he sympathized with the plight of many poor Liberians. He said “there were times I didn’t have school fees. I continued to strive with the hope that one day life will get better.”

Weah was the world footballer of the year in 1995. He is a senator in his West African homeland.