Can the Gunners extend their lead at the top? Or will they come unstuck against the Toffees?

Arsenal 2-0 Hull City: Bendtner and Ozil keep Gunners top (video)

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Arsenal kept on rolling as they won their sixth-straight home PL game with a 2-0 win against Hull City on Wednesday. Nicklas Bendtner and Mesut Ozil grabbed the goals as the Gunners kept their terrific form going with an easy win.

The damage was done early on as Bendtner headed home superbly from Carl Jenkinson’s fantastic cross from the right inside two minutes, the goal marked his first start in the league for the Gunners in over 1000 days as he put the home side 1-0 up. It remained that way at the break as Arsenal dominated but couldn’t break down a resilient Hull side. But after half time Mesut Ozil finished off a sublime move to put the game out of the Tigers reach and give Arsenal all three points.

With their fifth shutout win in four games Arsenal stay top on 34 points, while Hull are in 12th with 17 points.

It took under two minutes for the North London side to go ahead as Bendtner headed home in his first PL start since March 2011. The Danish international has scored three goals in his last four games against Hull and the league leaders were relentless early on after taking the lead. Hull could not get out of their own half Aaron Ramsey and Ozil combined superbly in and around the box.

Jenkinson went close with a header as he reacted to a flick in the box and a scrambled clearance from the Tigers kept them just 1-0 down. The Gunners, as usual, continued to dominate possession and Hull were struggling to contain the home sides fluid attacking movements. In the the first half Arsenal had 67 percent of possession and had 13 attempts on goal against Hull.

source: AP
Ozil slots home Arsenal’s second as yet another shutout win keeps them top.

Arsenal nearly got their second when Ramsey was found on the edge of the box and his shot was tipped wide by Alan McGregor as the Scot got down low wide. Hull held their own and forced Wojciech Szczesny into a good close range stop but that sparked Arsenal back into life as just before the break Bendtner crossed for Ozil who headed just wide of the far post.

After the interval Arsenal carried on attacking and just one minute and 57 seconds into the second half Ozil made it 2-0. Ramsey played a perfect pass into the German international who slotted home superbly to give the league leaders a commanding lead. By this point Hull were fighting fires across the midfield and defense and Bendtner saw his header cleared off the line in the 55th minute.

Hull had a few good chances to reduce the deficit as Jake Livermore made some good runs forward from midfield, however Arsenal were drifting through the gears as they eased towards full time with their two-goal lead intact. Wenger may be slightly worried at how easy Hull created some chances in the second half, as Elmohamady whipped in a great ball late on but George Boyd drifted into an offside position.

Arsenal shut up shop and played out the win to stay top of the league, after their 11th victory from 14 games.


Arsenal: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Ramsey (Arteta, 80), Rosicky (Wilshere, 73), Cazorla, Ozil, Bendtner (Walcott, 73)

Goals: Bendtner (2), Ozil (47)

Hull City: McGregor, Figueroa, Elmohamady, Chester, Bruce, Meyler, Huddlestone, Livermore, Brady (Rosenior, 58), Graham (Boyd, 58), Sagbo (Nagy, 73)

MLS Cup Playoffs: Seattle Sounders 1-0 Sporting KC (video)

Seattle Sounders defender Brad Evans celebrates after Sounders' Nelson Haedo Valdez scored a goal against Sporting Kansas City in the second half of an MLS soccer playoff match, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Seattle. The Sounders beat Sporting Kansas City 1-0. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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The game in 100 words (or less): There’s a ton to unpack here, so we’ll dive right in. The Seattle Sounders topped Sporting Kansas City in the final knockout-round game of the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs. Nelson Valdez scored the game’s only goal, an 88th-minute header, but not without supreme controversy. For starters, Valdez was offside as Joevin Jones played the ball into the box, just as Matt Besler was on a free kick for Sporting earlier in the second half. Besler’s goal was ruled out for offside, Valdez’s was allowed to stand. Benny Feilhaber, perhaps in his final game for Sporting, played like a man possessed and so nearly singlehandedly won the game for Sporting at multiple points on the night. Stefan Frei stood on his head and refused to allow such an occurrence. Osvaldo Alonso could have been sent off twice on the night — once on a straight red; once on a second yellow — but finished the game with just a single caution. Up next, the Sounders will take on Supporters’ Shield-winning FC Dallas in the Western Conference semifinals.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

Three Four moments that mattered

10′ — Zusi hits the post with a strike through traffic — Benny Feilhaber’s through ball to set up this double-chance for Sporting in sumptuous, and fully deserving of a proper finish.

53′ — Besler heads home, but he’s offside — This is about as close an onside/offside decisions get.

79′ — Frei denies Feilhaber after a spectacular run — Feilhaber’s run was mesmerizing, but Stefan Frei’s save was the tiniest bit better.

88′ — Valdez heads home the late winner — If Besler was offside, Valdez was offside. An unfitting end to a thrilling game.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Benny Feilhaber

Goalscorers: Valdez (88′)

MLS Cup Playoffs: D.C. United 2-4 Montreal Impact (video)

CORRECTS DATE - Montreal Impact forward Matteo Mancosu, back, celebrates his goal with Ignacio Piatti (10) during the first half of an MLS playoff soccer match against D.C. United, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
AP Photo/Nick Wass
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The game in 100 words (or less): There are epic playoff collapses, and there is the MLS Cup Playoffs abomination put forth by D.C. United on Thursday. Playing host to a Montreal Impact side that won just two of its last eight regular-season games and crawled over the finish line, United — winners of four of their last five and one of the hottest teams in the league down the stretch — no-showed Thursday’s knockout-round tie, and their season is deservingly finished. Laurent Ciman put the Impact ahead inside the first five minutes, and United never recovered or seemed the least bit urgent with their season on the line. Matteo Mancosu bagged a brace either side of halftime to make it 3-0, and Ignacio Piatti, who was his usual brilliant self — so good, in fact, he made you forget Didier Drogba was unavailable due to injury/dispute over his role as a substitute — added a fourth not long before full-time. Lamar Neagle grabbed a late consolation goal for United, bringing them back to 4-1 before Taylor Kemp fired a laser past Evan Bush for 4-2 late in stoppage time, but that’s as close as they’d get. Up next for the Impact, it’s the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference semifinals, beginning Sunday.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

Three moments that mattered

4′ — Ciman slots home from a corner for 1-0 — An absolute dream start for Montreal, as Ciman gets front side of his marker and benefits from a fortunate bounce after he scuffs the shot.

43′ — Mancosu slams home Piatti’s cross for 2-0 — Someone tell DCU that the knockout round is most definitely win-or-go-home. Horrific defending. Ball-watching all over the place. This is not the same team that won four of their last five in order to host this game.

58′ — Mancosu heads home at the near post for 3-0 — Steve Birnbaum has not had the greatest end to the 2016 season. Stay healthy, John Brooks and Geoff Cameron.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Matteo Mancosu

Goalscorers: Ciman (4′), Mancosu (43′, 58′), Piatti (83′), Neagle (90′), Kemp (90+4′)

FOLLOW LIVE: 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs knockout round

Sporting Kansas City forward Dom Dwyer, center, is congratulated by teammates, including midfielder Roger Espinoza (27), following his goal during the first half of an MLS soccer match against the Houston Dynamo in Kansas City, Kan., Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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The knockout round of the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs concludes on Thursday, as four teams vie for the final two places — one in the Eastern Conference, one in the Western Conference — in the conference semifinals, which begin on Sunday.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: MLS Cup Playoffs knockout round ]

Up first, the East’s fourth-seeded D.C. United welcome the five-seed Montreal Impact to RFK Stadium for the two sides’ third meeting of the 2016 season. Each of the year’s first two clashes finished a 1-1 draw, in July and August. Didier Drogba is expected to be unavailable for the win-or-go-home tie. United finished the regular season with four wins in the last five games, while the Impact won just two of their last eight.

[ MORE: Preivewing Thursday night’s knockout-round games ]

In the nightcap, the West’s fourth-seeded Seattle Sounders will take on the five-side, Sporting Kansas City, at CenturyLink Field. Sporting were victorious in both regular-season meetings this year — 1-0 on opening day, and 3-0 in late-July, the day the Sounders essentially quit on Sigi Schmid. Since that blistering hot day in KC, the Soudners have lost just twice in 14 games (eight wins, four draws).

Thursday’s MLS Cup Playoffs schedule

D.C. United vs. Montreal Impact — 7:30 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting KC — 10 p.m. ET

Cristiano Ronaldo says Ashley Cole is the toughest player he faced

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Cristiano Ronaldo has faced the best defenders in the world during his time with Manchester United, Real Madrid and the Portuguese national team.

He has also caused fits for most of those defenders with goal after goal for club and country. But, there have been some players who have at least made it difficult for the all-time leading goal scorer in Real Madrid and Champions League history.

According to Ronaldo, former Chelsea and Arsenal defender Ashley Cole was the toughest player he has faced in his career.

[ MORE: VIDEO: Incredible Pelle goal in China ]

“Over the years I had some great battles with Ashley Cole, he does not give you a second to breathe,” Ronaldo told Coach Mag. “He was such a tenacious player when he was at his peak, quick, tough in the tackle. You knew it would never be an easy game.”

During his time with Manchester United, Ronaldo faced Cole on numerous occasions while Cole was with Arsenal and Chelsea. The two have also faced off in international competition between Ronaldo’s Portugal and Cole’s England.

It’s certainly high praise for Cole, who now plays in MLS for the LA Galaxy. At the age of 35, Cole has started 25 matches for the Galaxy this season, scoring one goal.