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Americans Abroad review: Altidore shines, “Lex Luthor” wins it late

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With league play back in full swing and international breaks on the back burner for the moment, a number of Americans made their mark in play across the globe, but particularly in Europe.

Not as many Americans scored as we saw last week, but their teams continued to win and our boys were at the forefront of many.

In Premier League play, Jozy Altidore was on point as Sunderland picked up their first win of the season in the ever-important Tyne-Wear derby.  In a match that featured enough stripes to give anyone a headache, Altidore used his strength on multiple occasions to harass Newcastle and help his team.  He won the corner that led to their opening goal by warding off a defender, and he teed up Fabio Borini for the winner as time wound down.

What appeared a simple lay-off by Jozy to Borini was actually a brilliant bit of play.  Altidore caught the Newcastle defenders completely off-guard with the move, giving Borini ample space for the shot. It appeared that even the striker himself wasn’t aware of Borini’s presence until the last second, when he slammed on the brakes and set the ball up for the Italian to smash it home.

Tim Howard had a busy weekend in the Barclays Premier League.  The USMNT #1 shotstopper outdueled his international teammate Brad Guzan as Everton triumphed over Aston Villa 2-0, sending the Toffees up to fourth in the Premier League table. Howard was at the forefront of his team’s activity, saving a Christian Benteke penalty and denying the Belgian a host of other times during the match.

source: Getty Images
Tim Howard saved a Christian Benteke penalty en route to Everton’s 2-0 win over Brad Guzan’s Aston Villa.

The 34-year-old then swapped his cleats for a headset, making his way to the broadcast booth where he paired up with Arlo White to commentate the Chelsea vs. Manchester City match for NBCSN.  It took the goalkeeper a few minutes to get comfortable behind the mic, but he performed nearly as admirably as he had on the pitch the day before. Arlo appropriately extended an open invitation for Howard to return, noting the excitement of the match was clearly due to the USMNT star’s presence.

Geoff Cameron started for Stoke City but the visitors couldn’t hang onto a 2-1 lead at Old Trafford as Stoke fell 3-2 thanks to Mexican international Javier Hernandez’s late winner.  Brek Shea did not make the matchday squad, strengthening his desire to go out on loan.

Over in Italy, Michael Bradley made an enormous stride towards returning to the starting lineup after returning from his ankle injury.  On as a 78th minute substitute, Bradley scored the winner for Roma with his first goal of the season as the Giallorossi stayed perfect through nine matches.

Maybe the greatest thing the goal brought this world is an absolutely outstanding new nickname for Bradley, dubbed by an Italian radio broadcaster calling the game.  Amid the broadcaster’s ear-piercing, high-pitched shrieks following Bradley’s goal, he refers to the American as “Lex Luthor.” If this doesn’t stick, I’m not sure what will.  Help us out USMNT fans, we here at ProSoccerTalk need to make this one permanent.

Under new manager Gertjan Verbeek, Timmy Chandler started at right-back and assisted FC Nurnberg’s only goal as they held Stuttgart to a draw and earned a valuable point on the road. The club was not able to get out of the relegation zone with the point earned but they gained ground on 15th-place Ausberg who fell to Bayer Leverkusen.  Chandler picked a good time to play well – USMNT assistant Andy Herzog was in attendence, could Timmy be on his way back?

Jermaine Jones could do nothing to stop Borussia Dortmund as his Schalke side fell 3-1 to the reigning Champions League runners up in the Rurh derby.  Jones was a 74th minute substitute, and he came on after all the scoring had taken place.

Red-hot Aron Johannsson didn’t score but his team AZ Alkmaar had a fruitful week of traveling. The youngster assisted Johan Berg Gudmannsson in their 1-1 with Shakhter Karagandy in during midweek Europa League play. AZ then defeated 5th-placed PEC Zwolle on the road in the Eredivisie 2-1.  The win put AZ into a tie for first place with Twente and Ajax.

Club Tijuana remained undefeated at home with their 0-0 draw against Tigres in Liga MX play. However, the sole point may not be enough to propel Tijuana to the postseason. Joe Corona, Edgar Castillo, and Paul Arriola all started for Club Tijuana, with Hercules Gomez coming on as a substitute.

DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco both started in Puebla’s 3-1 loss to Club America at Estadio Azteca.

Sasha Kleijstan needed just a single minute to net his first goal for Anderlecht in a 1-1 draw with table-toppers Standard Liege.  It’s a good bounceback from their 5-0 drubbing at the hands of PSG in the Champions League.

Timmy Chandler netted the winner for Rapid Vienna in the 88th minute as they beat Austria Vienna 1-0 in the Austrian Bundesliga.

Three things we learned from Arsenal’s win vs. West Ham

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LONDON — Arsenal beat West Ham United 5-1 at the London Stadium on Saturday as the Gunners remained unbeaten since the opening day of the Premier League season.

Mesut Ozil’s first half goal was added to by three from Alexis Sanchez and a stunner from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the second half as the Gunners ran riot.

Here’s what we learned from a one-sided London derby.


SANCHEZ THE DIFFERENCE

There was word going around the press room deep in the London Stadium that Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez had tweaked his groin muscle in the warmup and was struggling.

Arsenal fans everywhere panicked. They were right to do that.

Luckily, Sanchez shook it off  (he was stretching out his left groin readily early on in the game) and was ready to torment West Ham’s defense. He set up Mesut Ozil for Arsenal’s first and then scored three goals himself in the space of 14 second half minutes, with the first a thing of beauty.

Once again deployed in a central striking role, Sanchez showed exactly why he’s so important to Arsenal and why him signing a new contract must be a priority for Arsene Wenger.

With him they have a real chance of challenging for the title and they’re only three points off first-place Chelsea. Without him, they don’t. Alongside Ozil, they are the two world class talents Arsenal possess and the board must break the bank to keep the star attacking duo on board.


NO PAYET? MORE PROBLEMS

For most of the first half you’d be forgiven for forgetting that Dimitri Payet was on the pitch. The French international playmaker strolled around and barely broke into a sweat as he completely failed to control the ball on one occassion and gave it away readily.

He ballooned a shot 20-yards over the bar and din’t do much else. In the second half he drifted in and out of the game, whipping in a few good set pieces and setting up Manuel Lanzini in the box, plus he also casually walked the ball out of play from a goo crossing position in the box.

With a report circulating on Saturday that Arsenal were lining up a bid for Payet, 29, in January, some could argue that he has mentally checked out at West Ham. The Hammers look set to be embroiled in a relegation battle and Payet just isn’t up for that. His midweek performance in the EFL Cup at Manchester United suggested as much and this display reinforced those notions.

He only committed his future to the Hammers in the summer but if Arsenal come calling in January with a big bid, it’s clear that Payet would prefer to move on. West Ham’s owners would loathe selling Payet, an action which would put further presure on themselves given the tumultuous move to the London Stadium. But ask yourself this: is it better to get $45-50 million for Payet now (ballpark figure) and reinvest it in center backs and strikers you badly need? Or keep him around so he can saunter across the pitch so it’s basically like playing with 10 men?

There’s no doubting West Ham would miss Payet’s creativity in the final third but right now he should be the least of their worries.


BILIC ON THE ROPES

There’s no getting around it. The situation is bleak for the Hammers.

Slaven Bilic‘s team performed so well last season, his debut campaign as West Ham manager. They rode nostalgia-driven euphoria in their final season at Upton Park to finish seventh in the Premier League.

With three defeats in their last five and no wins in that stretch, Bilic seems to be on the brink. They are one point out of the relegation zone and three points off the bottom.

Yes, the Hammers have plenty of  issues in defense and that was exasperated by James Collins coming off injured early on, but the entire game was just a case of them hanging in and hoping Payet or Lanzini would bail them out. That was never likely to happen.

The team gave up on Bilic in the end as Arsenal struck three times in the final 10 minutes. Given the stadium issues and fans not being happy with the owners about the move and a multitude of issues, Bilic and his players have been cut plenty of slack so far.

That won’t go on for much longer. With a pivotal two week period from Dec. 14-31 coming up, Bilic will need wins against Burnley, Hull, Swansea and Leicester if he’s not only going to get West Ham out of trouble, but also keep his job.

Make no mistake about, West Ham is in freefall.

West Ham United 1-5 Arsenal: Electric Alexis lights up Olympic Stadium

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03:  Mesut Oezil of Arsenal celebrates with team-mate Alexis Sanchez after scoring the opening goal during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Arsenal at London Stadium on December 3, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images
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  • Ozil puts Gunners ahead
  • Hat trick, assist for Alexis
  • Arsenal on 31 points
  • Carroll pulls one back

Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain helped Arsenal to a 5-1 road win at West Ham United on Saturday.

The win boosts Arsenal into second, three points back of Chelsea, though Liverpool can pass the Gunners with a point on Sunday.

Andy Carroll added a goal for the Irons when Dimitri Payet‘s free kick rebounded off the cross bar and directly to the big man’s noggin.

The Irons continue to disappoint, now just a point above the drop zone in 17th. Hull would shove West Ham into 17th with a win over Middlesbrough on Monday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

An early injury to James Collins threatening to plague West Ham’s chances of a win, and the Gunners definitely had the better of the play.

Arsenal’s breakthrough came when West Ham’s Angelo Ogbonna made a big mistake, his pass blocked into the path of Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean worked Winston Reid quickly before passing across to Ozil for an easy tap-in.

The damage was limited into the break, although Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hit a good chance woefully wide of the goal.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

West Ham’s second half started well, with both Dimitri Payet and Ashley Fletcher ripping shots toward the Arsenal goal.

The Irons kept up the pressure, with Ogbonna thwarting an Arsenal threat against the run of play by Theo Walcott.

Arsenal was countering for the second half’s first half hour, quite effectively. Darren Randolph was soon called upon to stop a pair of Gunner chances.

Turns out those counters were indicative of a change in control, and Sanchez scored a wonderful goal in the 72nd minute. Randolph was too deep in his goal, and the Chilean beat him far post.

He’d add another across the body of a sliding Randolph with 10 minutes to go, and this one was essentially over. Carroll, Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Sanchez scored goals in the final 10 minutes.

Sanchez’s was a cute little dink over Randolph in the 87th minute.

Follow @NicholasMendola

VIDEO: Alexis Sanchez scores sensational twisting, spinning goal

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Alexis Sanchez is a beast.

On Saturday he scored a stunning solo goal at the London Stadium in Arsenal’s clash against West Ham.

First his first goal the ball was drilled into him by Shkodran Mustafi and in one movement he controlled the ball, spun his marker and was away.

He still had plenty to do but the Chilean striker drilled a perfect effort across goal and into the far corner to put the Gunners 2-0 up. He then added two more goals for a 14 minute hat trick.

What a menace.

Watch his first goal in the video above, as Sanchez shrugged off a groin issue he suffered in the warmup and tormented West Ham.

WATCH: 2 red cards for fight… between Preston teammates

MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND - APRIL 09:  Gaston Ramirez of Middlesbrough (C) is challenged by Dan Johnson (L) and Eoin Doyle of Preston North End during the Sky Bet Championship match between Middlesbrough and Preston North End at the Riverside Stadium on April 9, 2016 in Middlesbrough, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)
Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images
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Preston North End attacker Eoin Doyle scored a goal and saw a ridiculous red card within an eight-minute span in Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Sheffield Wednesday.

It wasn’t ridiculous that he was given the card, rather how he earned the sending off.

[ MORE: El Clasico ends in late draw ]

Doyle and teammate Jermaine Beckford had to broken up by teammates and opponents after the pair failed to team up for a scoring chance.

Beckford thought he was open for a pass that never came from Doyle, and shoves were exchanged before referee Scott Duncan sent both players to the stands in the 90th minute.

Follow @NicholasMendola