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Aaron Ramsey’s latest big moment gives Arsenal a huge 1-0 Champions League win at Dortmund

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Highly opportunistic Arsenal finds itself in good shape today in Champions League, having held fast against 60 minutes of pressure Wednesday in Germany to turn the game on Aaron Ramsey’s latest big moment for the club.

Ramsey’s 61st-minute header on his team’s first real attempt at the Westfalenstadion changed the game and supplied his team an enormous three road points, along with a famous win, in a highly entertaining match, a 1-0 result for Arsenal at Dortmund.

No English team had ever won inside’s Dortmund’s notoriously noisy ground.

Arsenal took a measure of control implausibly after the goal, another sign of things going so right this year for Arsene Wenger’s side. Mesut Ozil, drifting right to find the spaces after intermission, controlled his team’s movements forward, while Per Mertersacker commanded the aerial spaces along his Gunners’ back lone.

The goal seemed a terribly unlikely moment from Arsenal’s Ramsey, barging forward in his 200th club appearance and overturning an hour of dominance in the Group F encounter, one that leaves Wenger’s club tied at the top of the foursome.

An uncharacteristic sloppy touch near the back from Dortmund put the ball on Ozil’s foot. Olivier Giroud met his teammate’s cross, leaving a ball dangling for Ramsey to head bravely on the run near goal. It was his 25th strike overall for the Gunners, who are also off to their best Premier League start in years.

The game was alive with great chances on either side after the goal with Dortmund’s Robert Lewandowski scruffing one just wide from point-blank positioning, and Ramsey seeing his next shot from in close pushed wide. Dortmund also cleared one off the line, and soon after that Mertersacker was just high with a long header. Dortmund, however, could not find goal, failing to score for just the second time in its last 61 appearances at the formidable ground in working class Dortmund.

Unlike Manchester United on Tuesday, Wenger did not let this weekend’s coming Premier League clash at Old Trafford overly influence his selections. Other than England midfielder Jack Wilshere, out due to an ankle issue, Wenger’s side was full of his top choices, including recent revelatory addition Ozil, who was tucked in behind Giroud in the Gunners’ 4-2-3-1.

With an extra day of rest (Dortmund played its Bundesliga match last Friday, Arsenal delivering its Premier League goods on Saturday), Jurgen Klopp also went with an unchanged lineup from the weekend.

Real chances through the first half hour were scarce, although both teams seemed intent on supplying numbers in the attack. It was good pressure applied high around the field from both teams that kept the game at a stalemate, although a sharp and fast-paced one.

Dortmund had the better half-chances early as Neven Subotic and Jakub Blaszczykowski couldn’t quite get their contested volleys from in close on target.

Finally, a breakout in the 37th minute as Henrikh Mkhitaryan found space to run and shoot, only to go just wide. That opportunity emerged from the right, where outside back Kevin Grosskreutz was a handful for Arsenal, emerging frequently from out of the defense.

Dortmund’s advantage intensified after the break, with Wojciech Szczesny’s first big save arriving off a sharp Marco Reus header. In the 52nd minute Arsenal’s Polish goalkeeper was even better with a fine one-handed save off Blaszcykowski close-range blast.

The home team continued pressing while Arsenal seemed increasingly content with the road draw before Ramsey’s stunning, game-changing moment.

LINEUPS

Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller, Grosskreutz, Papastathopoulos, Subotic, Schmelzer, Sahin, Bender, Blaszczykowski, Mkhitaryan, Reus, Lewandowski.

Substitutes: Langerak, Kehl, Hofmann, Aubameyang, Kirch, Schieber, Durm.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Ramsey, Arteta, Cazorla, Ozil, Rosicky, Giroud.

Substitutes: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Monreal, Bendtner, Jenkinson, Gnabry, Hayden.

Klopp hopes for speedy solution in club, fans’ ticket-price dispute

Liverpool's fans wave flags during the English League Cup semifinal second leg soccer match between Liverpool and Stoke City at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
AP Photo/Jon Super
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From his time at Borussia Dortmund, Jurgen Klopp is used to a much more positive, family-like, everyone-pulling-in-the-same-direction atmosphere at his club of employment, so the present goings-on at Liverpool understandably have the Reds’ first-year manager feeling more than a little uneasy.

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Saturday’s late 2-2 draw with Sunderland wasn’t the first time Liverpool fans have headed for the exit before the final whistle, leaving Klopp feeling all alone, but it was the first time the fans have departed from Anfield early in a pre-planned, organized manner (Klopp missed the game himself with appendicitis). The Anfield faithful didn’t walk out on 77 minutes due to their team’s poor performance — Liverpool were 2-0 ahead at the time — but in protest of steadily rising ticket prices, which were unveiled at $111 per game to sit in the 132-year-old stadium’s new main stand next season.

Klopp, coming from the Bundesliga, where a season ticket at clubs the size of Bayern Munich and Dortmund doesn’t cost much more than a single-game ticket at many Premier League grounds, understands the fans’ frustration. At the end of the day, though, he works for the club, which is why he just wants the whole thing settled quickly, for the sake of his squad — quotes from the BBC:

“It’s not what we want. What I know is everyone in the club has a big interest in finding a solution for this. We don’t want people to leave the stadium before the game is finished.”

An LFC TV appearance by Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre, in which he was expected to answer fan-submitted questions, was consequently canceled on Monday due to the ongoing dispute.

West Ham want Payet to sign new contract for fear of losing him this summer

Dimitri Payet, West Ham United FC (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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Dimitri Payet is going to be a red-hot commodity during this summer’s transfer window, there’s no doubt about it.

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Given he’s currently contracted to one of the Premier League’s “smaller” clubs — in comparison to some of the giants which are bound to be interested — West Ham United, there’s a decent-to-good chance he could be wearing a different club’s shirt come August. Especially if the 28-year-old attacker shows up and shows out at this summer’s European Championship in his native France.

If I can foresee the interest in Payet, then so too can the executives at West Ham, which is why manager Slaven Bilic took to the press on Monday to convey his desire for Payet to consider signing a new, increased contract at his earliest convenience — quotes from the Guardian:

“We are moving, the club is moving, with the new stadium, with the revenue and everything. We have to move and the most important move is to keep your best players and to add some new players who are needed and Dimitri Payet is our best player — I have no problem whatsoever to say that. Of course, I would love to have him happy, long term, at the club.”

Of course West Ham want Payet to sign a new deal immediately — doing so would accomplish two things in the club’s eyes: 1) increase the likelihood he remains at the club next season, or 2) insure the club receives a higher transfer fee for the player if he leaves in the summer anyway. The more total money remaining on his West Ham contract, the more they can demand of a prospective buyer.

[ MORE: Ronaldo commits himself to Real Madrid through 2018 ]

From Payet’s side — unless he has absolutely zero desire to move to a club like Liverpool, Chelsea or Manchester United, where he’d likely be paid close to $200,000 per week — he’d be crazy to sign a new contract at this point. Not only would it make a move this summer more difficult, but a strong showing at EURO 2016 could be worth another $15,000 or $20,000 per week on a new contract with West Ham (his current contract is rumored to be close to $100,000 per week).

With as many as five seasons still remaining on his current contract (a one-year club option can be exercised at any point), and his stock perhaps at an all-time high, the next six months could hold Payet’s last chance to get really, really paid before he hits the downside of his career.

USWNT players’ union responds in USSF lawsuit

FILE - In this Sunday, July 5, 2015 file photo, the United States Women's National Team celebrates with the trophy after they beat Japan 5-2 in the FIFA Women's World Cup soccer championship in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The U.S. Soccer Federation’s original lawsuit against the union for its champion women’s national team has been sealed after the governing body realized it had disclosed the home addresses and email accounts of many players, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016.(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
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(AP) — The union that represents the Women’s World Cup-winning American national team opposed an expedited schedule in the lawsuit filed against it by the U.S. Soccer Federation last week, insisting no collective bargaining agreement exists.

The federation sued in an attempt to establish it has a contract with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Players Association that runs through this year’s Olympics until Dec. 31. The union maintains the memorandum of understanding agreed to in March 2013 can be terminated at any time.

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The USSF filed a motion Friday in U.S. District Court in Chicago asking for an expedited schedule, and the submitted opposition papers Monday that claim “facts asserted in the motion are nowhere near accurate and are hotly disputed.”

The union also maintains the USSF knew about the disagreement since July but did nothing about it.

An initial status conference is set for April 4.

Lionel Messi to undergo tests for lingering kidney problems

FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi holds the ball during a quarterfinal, second leg, Copa del Rey soccer match against Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
AP Photo/Manu Fernandez
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says Lionel Messi is to undergo medical tests to assess a recurrence of kidney problems.

[ MORE: Saturday’s La Liga roundup | Barca win on Sunday

Messi missed the Club World Cup semifinal in December due to a renal colic, an abdominal ailment often related to the presence of kidney stones within renal ducts.

Barcelona says in a statement Monday that the tests to be conducted by Tuesday at the latest, are “to assess the evolution of the kidney problem he suffered last December.”

[ MORE: Champions League returns next week — KO round matchups ]

The statement says Messi will resume training with the squad on Wednesday, when Barcelona travels to Valencia for the return leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals in which it carries a 7-0 lead.