Arsenal 2-0 Southampton: Giroud double extends Gunners lead at the top (video)

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Arsenal stretched their lead at the summit of the Premier League standings with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Southampton at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

The Gunners were gifted their first goal as a calamitous from Saints goalkeeper Artur Boruc let Olivier Giroud tap into an empty net. To their credit Southampton pushed the league leaders hard and had some great opportunities to draw level through Jay Rodriguez and Victor Wanyama.

Late on Arsenal sealed the win when Giroud scored from the penalty spot, as the Gunners wen four-points clear of second-placed Liverpool and six points ahead of Southampton in third.

After the kick off was delayed at the Emirates Stadium due to problems on the London Underground, visitors Southampton took the game to the Gunners as the Saints took the game to the home side.

The first chance of the game almost produced a goal as Jack Wilshere surged into the box and his delicate chip towards the back post got the faintest of touches from Southampton ‘keeper Boruc who deflected the strike onto the post and away to safety.

In the 17th minute the Gunners hit the woodwork again as Mesut Ozil cut in from the right and found Aaron Ramsey with a delicate cross. The Welsh international performed a terrific back heel flick towards which looked to be going in but clipped the far post.

Shortly after Southampton shot themselves in the foot with an absolute howler from Polish goalkeeper Boruc. The ball was played back to him and instead of launching it upfield or out of play, he tried a Cruyff turn to get around Olivier Giroud three times before he was dispossessed by the French striker who then tapped home the opener into an empty net.

Arsenal looked quite comfortable after they were handed a 1-0 lead but the Saints did press forward and Adam Lallana forced Wojiech Szczesny into a fine stop as the England man volleyed a superb effort goalwards. Shortly after Lallana’s fellow England international Jay Rodriguez forced Szczesny into making another great stop.

Saints came back into the game as the half time whistle went but that costly mistake from Boruc proved the difference at the interval.

After the break Saints had the majority of the play as Daniel Osvaldo came on and the South Coast club threw the kitchen sink at Arsenal. Both Rodriguez and Lambert went close as Arsenal planned to pounce on the counter attack.

The Gunners, as always, looked controlled in possession but Saints looked incredibly dangerous from set pieces and in the 78th minute a James Ward-Prowse corner was cleared to the edge of the box and Victor Wanyama hammered a shot just over the bar as Southampton pushed for an equalizer.

Late on Arsenal opened up their legs and substitute Theo Walcott almost wrapped up the win against his former side but his rasping shot went wide of the far post in the 82nd minute.

In the 85th minute Arsenal did seal the win as Giroud scored his and Arsenal’s second from the penalty spot following Jose Fonte’s tug on Per Mertesacker in the box.

The Saints were their own worst enemies as the Gunners marched on at the top of the table, with a ninth win from 12 PL games this season.

LINEUPS

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Arteta (Rosicky, 74), Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil (Monreal, 81), Cazorla (Walcott, 70), Giroud

Goals: Giroud (21), Giroud (85)

Southampton: Boruc, Clyne, Fonte, Hooiveld, Shaw (Davis, 45), Wanyama, Schneiderlin, Ward-Prowse, Lallana (Osvaldo, 54), Rodriguez, Lambert.

Messi could face CONMEBOL suspension for verbal abusing official

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Already facing some uncertainty with a depleted roster, Argentina could face a significantly greater challenge.

[ MORE: Aguero left out of Argentina starting XI vs. Bolivia ]

Barcelona star Lionel Messi could face suspension after reportedly verbally abusing linesman Marcelo Van Gasse during the second half of Thursday’s 1-0 win over Chile.

Messi was reported to CONMEBOL for yelling, “F*** off, your mother’s c***” at Van Gasse and refused to shake the official’s hand at the end of the match.

The officiating crew from the match didn’t initially include Messi’s rant in the post-match report, however, it was added on Monday and submitted to CONMEBOL.

The South American federation must now decide if and when it will punish Messi for his reported actions, and there is the potential that the world-class attacker could be suspended for Tuesday’s clash against Bolivia if the federation acts quickly.

There are several other scenarios though for CONMEBOL to action, including disregarding Messi’s verbal assault.

La Albiceleste currently sit third in World Cup qualifying on 22 points.

Arena speaks about USMNT turnaround, says “no secret formulas”

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It’s only been one competitive match since Bruce Arena regained control of the U.S. Men’s National Team and there’s already been a noticeable difference in form.

[ MORE: Three keys for the USMNT ahead of Panama clash ]

The former LA Galaxy manager wouldn’t have you believe that though following Friday night’s convincing 6-0 victory over Honduras in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

“It’s nothing I can write a book on,” Arena said about his team’s turnaround in form against Honduras. “You have a sense of your group, and you go about doing your business. There’s no secret formulas to this stuff. Work together, take ownership in what you’re doing, treat them like responsible professional athletes, and you get on with your business.

He added, “They want to be successful. They want to play in a World Cup. Is that a recipe for success? I don’t know. I’m sure Honduras wants to play in a World Cup too.”

Arena, who took over for Jurgen Klinsmann following the U.S.’ collapse during the first two matches of the Hexagonal, is unbeaten in his first three games in charge since getting his job back with the Stars and Stripes.

Although there has been a considerable turnaround in the way the USMNT has performed in the first three matches of 2017, Arena wouldn’t stoop to comparing his style to that of Klinsmann.

“I’m not doing anything differently,” he said. “I’m not taking a survey [of the players]. I know it’s different. We lose tomorrow, there will be articles written that, ‘This a—— is letting these guys run loose.'”

“I have spent no time on the past. There’s nothing I can do about it. I kind of have a sense about things, but there’s no point in me spending time investigating what went on in the past. The idea was to get it going the right way from the start.”

Arena’s next test with the U.S. will be on Tuesday when the Yanks travel to Panama City to take on Panama.

Report: American teenager linked with Manchester United

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The U.S. Men’s National Team is always looking for more Christian Pulisic-like players, and another star-in-the-making could be on his way to Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Three keys for USMNT ahead of Panama clash ]

American teenager Will Vint is reportedly being pursued by Premier League giants Manchester United after previously having trialed with Fulham and Everton.

Vint, the 15-year-old son Everton academy director Peter Vint, has reportedly impressed the Red Devils while on trial as of late. Additionally, the teen’s Instagram page describes him as a “Footballer at Manchester United.”

The number of Americans in England’s top flight have dwindled down over recent years, however, USMNT mainstays like Geoff Cameron and Brad Guzan (moving to Atlanta United) still reside in the PL.

Chapecoense announces match against Colombia’s Nacional

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SAO PAULO (AP) Brazilian club Chapecoense will play Colombia’s Atletico Nacional on April 4 in what will be an emotional home match.

[ MORE: Aguero left out of Argentina XI to face Bolivia ]

In November, 19 members of the Brazilian team died in an air crash outside Medellin as they travelled to play Nacional in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final. Out of 77 passengers, 71 died in the incident, including players, journalists, and club officials.

Chapecoense says they will play at 22,000-seat Arena Conda in southern Brazil in the first leg of the Recopa Sudamericana.

The tragedy made Atletico Nacional pronounce Chapecoense as champions, and the South American confederation agreed.

The Recopa Sudamericana is between the champions of the Copa Sudamericana and the Copa Libertadores.