Yoan Gouffran

Newcastle 2-1 West Brom: Sissoko’s sizzling strike sends Magpies fifth (video)

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Newcastle United sealed their fourth-straight win in the league as Moussa Sissoko’s stunning second half strike was enough to take all three points against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

Sissoko’s powerful drive into the top corner in the 56th minute turned out to be the game-winner as Newcastle’s home fans at St. James’ Park were sent home happy once again.

In the first half Newcastle took the lead through Frenchman Yoan Gouffran who headed home after Baggies ‘keeper Boaz Myhill made a hash of a routine punch in the box. But after the break West Brom fought back as captain Chris Brunt smashed him a terrific effort at the back post to give the Baggies hope of nicking a win on the road.

But a few moments latter Sissoko popped up with his dazzling strike to move Newcastle up to fifth spot on 23 points, while West Brom stay in 12th on 15 points.

A bright start from West Brom saw Brunt’s long-range free kick tipped wide by Tim Krul after two minutes and from the resulting corner the Magpies struggled to clear as the Baggies attackers made a real nuisance of themselves.

Newcastle came back into the game as both teams started at a steady pace up in the North East. The Magpies almost went ahead in the 18th minute after Sissoko wriggled free in the far right corner before teeing up Mathieu Debuchy to send a dangerous cross into the box that Loic Remy headed against Billy Jones who deflected it wide.

From the resulting corner West Brom struggled to clear the ball as Newcastle kept the pressure up on the visitors.

For the rest of the first half, Check Tiote and Youssuf Mulumbu locked horns and Tiote was booked for a late challenge as the encounter in the North East turned into a midfield battle.

In the 35th minute Gouffran opened the scoring as a dangerous in swinging corner from Yohan Cabaye saw West Brom ‘keeper Myhill come out to punch it away but he missed the ball and Newcastle’s French winger pounced to score. The goal was Gouffran’s third straight at home as Newcastle deserved their 1-0 lead thanks to his quick-thinking in the six-yard box and a blunder from Baggies goalkeeper Myhill.

After that goal Newcastle continued to press forward and felt that Jonas Olsson should have been given a straight red card as he appeared to take down Remy when the Frenchman was clean through on goal. No foul was given and the home fans were not happy with decision from referee Phil Dowd.

Following the interval Newcastle almost grabbed a second goal as Shola Ameobi played through his strike partner Remy but Myhill came off his line to smother the ball and save at the Frenchman’s feet.

However West Brom were soon back in the game as Amalfitano’s inviting cross from the right just evaded Long in the box but found captain Brunt who rifled in a fantastic effort to make it 1-1. The goal was actually the first shot on goal the Baggies had attempted and it was a great start to the second half for the visitors.

Buoyed by their equalizer the Baggies almost went ahead moments later when Olsson’s header just flew past the post and Long couldn’t redirect it.

But no sooner had West Brom got back into the game, Newcastle were back ahead as Sissoko smashed in a terrific strike from over 20 yards out that left Myhill with no chance and put the Magpies 2-1 up.

The Frenchman unleashed a rocket from his right foot in the 56th minute after Remy created the opening for Sissoko to smash in a beauty to send the fanatical Newcastle supporters into raptures. The goal also meant that 18 of Newcastle’s 19 goals this season have been scored by Frenchman.

West Brom tried to get back into the game but the home side were keen to shut any openings for the visitors down as Tiote and Cabaye marshaled the central midfield area superbly. The Baggies almost shot themselves in the foot in the 75th minute as Brunt gave the ball away but Debuchy struck his effort straight at Myhill from the edge of the box.

A double substitution from Steve Clarke tried to rescue a point for the Baggies as Victor Anichebe and Saido Berahino were both brought on late in the game. Those new arrivals gave West Brom some hope but Newcastle held firm and grabbed their fourth-straight win to climb into the top five.

LINEUPS

Newcastle: Krul; Debuchy, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon; Sissoko (Cisse, 90), Tiote, Cabaye, Gouffran; Shola Ameobi, Remy (Anita, 84)

West Brom: Myhill, Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Morrison, Mulumbu, Amalfitano (Gera, 88), Sessegnon (Anichebe, 77), Brunt (Berahino, 76), Long

Men In Blazers podcast: Leicester, Spurs continue to defy the odds

Men In Blazers - Sept. 22
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Rog and Davo break down Leicester City’s 3-1 win at Manchester City, marvel at Spurs going second in the table, and talk about the headlines surrounding the mid-table clash between Chelsea and United.

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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VIDEO: Previews of all 10 Premier League games in Week 26

Arsenal v Burnley - Premier League
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You ready for the weekend? It’s only Thursday, but of course you are.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Week 26 of the 2015-16 Premier League season promises to be a pivotal one at both ends of the table with seven games on Saturday and three on Sunday.

[ MORE: Latest PL standings

In the 10 videos below yours truly takes a look at the key headlines, news, injuries and more on each PL game.

Enjoy.


Arsenal vs. Leicester City, Sunday (Watch live, 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra)

Aston Villa vs. Liverpool, Sunday (Watch live, 9:05 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra)

Bournemouth vs. Stoke City, Saturday(Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on Premier League Extratime and online via Live Extra)

Crystal Palace vs. Watford, Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on Premier League Extratime and online via Live Extra)

Chelsea vs. Newcastle United, Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via Live Extra)

Everton vs. West Brom, Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra)

Norwich City vs. West Ham, Sunday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on USA and online via Live Extra)

Man City vs. Tottenham, Sunday (Watch live, 11:15 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra)

Sunderland vs. Man United, Saturday (Watch live, 7:45 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra)

Swansea City vs. Southampton, Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on Premier League Extratime and online via Live Extra)

Ahead of huge top four showdowns, who are the title favorites?

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This weekend is massive. Huge. Monumental.

[ VIDEO: Arsenal-Leicester preview ]

In terms of the Premier League title race having two games between all of the current top four means one thing: bedlam.

Following the Arsenal vs. Leicester City (Watch live, 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) and Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur (Watch live, 11:15 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) encounter, we should be provided with a much better idea of where the title is heading.

[ VIDEO: Man City-Tottenham preview

Then again, if Arsenal beat Leicester and Man City draw with Spurs, there will be just five points between all four teams. With 13 games to go this is tight and tense and the most open title race we’ve had in decades. It is also awesome.

[ MORE: Arsenal to play in 2016 MLS All-Star Game ] 

Let’s take a look at all four title contenders and try to see who has the best chance of winning this thing on May 15.


Leicester City
Current position: 1st (53 points)
Biggest plus: No pressure, they were meant to be relegated
Biggest negative: None of their current squad have ever been in this situation. How will they cope?
Key man: Jamie Vardy – A few off days in front of goal recently for the PL’s main man. If he regains his touch, the Foxes will win it.
3 key games: Feb. 14 at Arsenal, Apr. 30 at Man United, May 15 at Chelsea
Strength of remaining schedule (1 is weak, 10 is tough): 2/10 – The best of any of the title contenders, on paper, and no cup games.


Tottenham Hotspur
Current position: 2nd (48 points)
Biggest plus: Mauricio Pochettino. He’s met every major challenge head on.
Biggest negative: Having the FA Cup and Europa League to contend with. Relatively small squad compared to the rest.
Key man: Harry Kane – If he can hit yet another purple patch, combined with Spurs’ solid defense, then that will be huge.
3 key games: Feb. 14 at Man City, Mar. 5 vs. Arsenal, Apr. 9 vs. Chelsea
Strength of remaining schedule: 3/10 – A very soft run-in for Spurs between now and the end of the season.


Arsenal
Current position: 3rd (48 points)
Biggest plus: They have the biggest squad and with Cech in goal their defense looks very settled.
Biggest negative: How many times have we been here before? Have to get over mental barrier, plus UCL and FA Cup to focus on too.
Key man: Alexis Sanchez – Hasn’t quite hit top form since returning from his hamstring injury. Can he hit top gear during crunch time?
3 key games: Feb. 14 vs. Leicester City, Mar. 5 vs. Tottenham, May 7 at Man City
Strength of remaining schedule: 6/10 – Probably the toughest out of all the contenders. Really need Sanchez and Mesut Ozil to pull through.


Manchester City
Current position: 4th (47 points)
Biggest plus: Strongest squad and Vincent Kompany should be returning soon. That, and wanting to send Pellegrini out on a high.
Biggest negative: Guardiola arriving means plenty of uncertainty. If Aguero or Kompany go down injured, title run could be over.
Key man: Vincent Kompany – City will always score goals with Aguero, Sterling, Silva and De Bruyne but they need Vinny back. Big time.
3 key games: Mar. 2 at Liverpool, Mar. 20 vs. Man United, May 7 vs. Arsenal
Strength of remaining schedule: 5/10 – Marginally easier than Arsenal’s because they play United and the Gunners at home. Still. Very tough.


 

Arsenal named as 2016 MLS All-Star Game opponent in San Jose

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28:  Mesut Ozil (C) of Arsenal celebrates scoring his team's second goal with his team mates Hector Bellerin (L) and Aaron Ramsey (R) during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and A.F.C. Bournemouth at Emirates Stadium on December 28, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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Arsenal is coming to San Jose, California.

On Thursday it was announced that the Premier League giants will take part in the 2016 MLS All-Star Game at Avaya Stadium, home of the San Jose Earthquakes.

[ VIDEO: Ferrell – “I got Mourinho fired”

The decision to play against another PL opponent makes it the ninth time that’s happened and MLS’ best will have faced seven different PL clubs in Fulham, Chelsea, West Ham United, Everton, Manchester United, Tottenham and now Arsenal.

The venue for the 2016 ASG will be San Jose’s splendid, yet slightly compact, Avaya Stadium and the game will take place on July 28 at 9 p.m. ET.

[ VIDEO: Arsenal-Leicester preview

Gunners fans in North America hoping to get tickets for the clash will have to act fast as the ‘Quakes home only holds 18,000 people, but there will be another chance to watch Arsenal play as they will face Chivas Guadalajara at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. on July 31.

Safe to say Arsene Wenger won’t need to don his famous long padded jacket for matches in California this July…

As well as seeing Arsenal stars Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Petr Cech, Olivier Giroud and more, the chance to watch young U.S. international Gedion Zelalem in action will excite many. That said, with the game coming late in July, plenty of Arsenal’s top stars may be on extended breaks due to their exertions for their national teams at the 2016 European Championships and the 2016 Copa America Centenario also being staged in North America.