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.

Arsenal hires Dortmund man who “found” Pulisic, Aubameyang

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Arsenal has a new head of recruitment, and he’s the scout who helped bring Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Christian Pulisic, and Ousmane Dembele to Borussia Dortmund.

The name is Sven Mislintat, and he’ll take the place of 25-year Arsenal vet Steve Rowley. Reports say Bayern Munich unsuccessfully recruited him in the summer.

[ MORE: Busy week for PL big boys ]

Mislintat also has perhaps the beck nickname of any scout in recent memory: “Diamond Eyes.”

Here’s Arsene Wenger on the move, from Arsenal.com:

“We are delighted that Sven is joining us. Identifying and developing talent is a core part of our philosophy and Sven has an outstanding track record over many years. We look forward to him taking our existing recruitment approach forwards.”

Congested schedule challenges Premier League big boys

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Every Premier League team will play two league matches in, at most, five days beginning with Leicester City’s trip to West Ham on Friday.

Throw in UEFA Champions League and Europa League, and this could throw a wrench into the Top Four ambitions the big boys.

[ MORE: Pulis sacked | What’s next for WBA? ]

The schedule and table status makes life a bit more forgiving for a number of the giants. Man City and Spurs have already advanced, while Manchester United is almost completely through the door. Arsenal’s onto the knockout rounds of Europa, too.

Liverpool and Chelsea can move on with wins over Sevilla and Qarabag, respectively, and the Reds get one more day’s rest before hosting the Blues. Traveling back from Azerbaijan and heading to Anfield makes life even harder for Chelsea.

The European competitions could be great news for all of next midweek’s opponents, but especially for Stoke and Swans. They’ll be getting Chelsea and Liverpool on the heels of two difficult matches each.

We’ll leave Everton out of this, having been eliminated from Europe and likely to start a very green squad from its deepest depth on Thursday.

Manchester City
vs. Feyenoord — Tuesday
at Huddersfield Town — Sunday
vs. Southampton — Nov. 29

Manchester United
at Basel — Wednesday
vs. Brighton — Saturday
at Watford — Nov. 28

Chelsea
at Qarabag — Wednesday
at Liverpool — Saturday
vs. Swansea City — Nov. 29

Arsenal
at Koln — Thursday
at Burnley — Sunday
vs. Huddersfield Town — Nov. 29

Tottenham Hotspur
at Borussia Dortmund — Tuesday
vs. West Bromwich Albion — Saturday
at Leicester City — Nov. 28

Liverpool
vs. Sevilla — Tuesday
vs. Chelsea — Saturday
at Stoke City — Nov. 29

PL Preview: Brighton vs. Stoke City

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  • Stoke leads all-time 16W-14D-9L
  • First league meeting since 2006
  • Potters have won last 8 in series

Brighton and Hove Albion meets Stoke City for the first time in Premier League history when the two battle at the Amex Stadium on Monday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Brighton is unbeaten in its last four PL matches, with a pair of away wins and two draws at home.

They’ve been led at the back end by Shane Duffy and in attack by Pascal Gross, but it’s been a well-traveled Premier League veteran filling the goals. Glenn Murray has historic motivation to keep scoring, knowing that a marker versus Stoke would make him the first Brighton player to ever score a goal in four successive top flight matches.

Stoke followed up its win over Watford with a draw against Leicester City. The Potters have two goals and four assists from Swiss attacker Xherdan Shaqiri, and three and one from Senegalese scorer Mame Biram Diouf.

What they’re saying

Brighton’s Chris Hughton on bagging wins“For a club like us to get back-to-back wins would show the level we are playing at. It’s tough. I remember being told by somebody with one of the promoted teams that they didn’t get their first away win until February-March. That can happen and it’s exactly the same for a team getting promoted to get back-to-wins. They are hard to come by. Any way we are able to do that would certainly be a major boost for us.”

Stoke manager Mark Hughes on Xherdan ShaqiriHe is taking on more the role of the main instigator of our attacking threat. When he gets the ball, I think the whole team responds to that. You sense that maybe something’s going to happen. And I think the crowd sends it as well. And I know opposition team sense it too.”

Prediction

Few matches are more of a toss-up than this one, and there’s no recent match-ups on which to rest our heads. So we’ll side with the home team managing a point, and maybe a pair of old-timer goals from Murray and Peter Crouch, in a 1-1 draw.

Italy soccer chief resigns after failure to reach World Cup

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ROME (AP) Italian football federation president Carlo Tavecchio has resigned a week after the Azzurri failed to qualify for the World Cup.

Monday’s announcement came following calls for a complete overhaul of the nation’s most popular sport, from the amateur leagues right up to Serie A and the national teams.

[ MORE: What’s next for West Brom? ]

Sweden’s playoff win over Italy kept the four-time champion out of the World Cup for the first time in six decades.

Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura was fired two days after the loss.

For the last week, Tavecchio has resisted calls to step down but he eventually lost the support of the federation’s board of directors.

Former federation chief Giancarlo Abete said as he left the board meeting where Tavecchio resigned that a new election would be held within 90 days.