Two games, four goals, and one Olivier Giroud lightning bolt denied at the death. That was the Premier League Sunday in 14 words, a description that comes nowhere near capturing the depth of today’s action in London. While Fulham’s visit from Aston Villa may have been decided in the first half, Everton’s trip to Arsenal was in doubt until the final whistle.
On Fulham’s win in the day’s opener, from Kyle Bonn:
Fulham picked up three enormous points, their first win under new first team coach Rene Meulensteen, as they dominate a well-traveled Aston Villa 2-0 from Craven Cottage.
Steve Sidwell and Dimitar Berbatov both grabbed first-half goals, with the latter having a hand in both scores and handing in an impressive performance on the heels of a few lazy showings …
The win for Fulham is massive, as they move above Crystal Palace into 17th and look bright for the second straight match. Villa also halts a streak, one of five straight unbeaten marked by just their second away loss of the season.
[MORE: Fulham 2-0 Aston Villa: Berbatov leads Whites to first win in eight (Video)]
And Kyle Bonn again, this time on Arsenal versus Everton:
Arsenal thought they’d gone seven points clear at the top of the Premier League table as Mesut Ozil finally broke down the Everton defense with 10 minutes to go.
Unfortunately, Gerard Deulofeu had other ideas, and his immediate answer helped Everton secure a great road point with a 1-1 draw at the Emirates …
Both sides pushed for all three points, but it was not to be. Olivier Giroud nearly won it in added time with a filthy volley – a thunderous shot – it hit the crossbar and like Arsenal’s winning hopes, it pinged away harmlessly.
[MORE: Arsenal 1-1 Everton: Late breakthroughs cancel as Deulofeu denies Arsenal all 3 points (Video)]
Ricky Van Wolfswinkel, Norwich City’s record transfer at the time of his purchase from Sporting CP in 2013, is moving on after a largely unsuccessful four-year stint with the Canaries.
The 27-year-old has returned to his home country, moving to Vitesse Arnham – the club he went professional with as a 19-year-old. Van Wolfswinkel made his professional debut in April of 2008 with Vitesse, and now returns for an undisclosed fee.
Van Wolfswinkel came to Norwich in 2013 with much fanfare, signing for a reported fee of $11 million – a club record signing at the time.
He proceeded to score just a single goal in 25 appearances during his first season in the Premier League, with Norwich finding itself relegated. He moved to Ligue 1 on loan with Norwich in the Championship, but still managed just five goals in 28 league appearances with St. Etienne. He never made another appearance for the Canaries, instead moving on loan again Real Betis last season, but flopped there too, scoring just once in 16 league appearances.
“I debuted in professional football on behalf of Vitesse and that is something you never forget,” van Wolfswinkel said upon signing. “After several foreign adventures I look forward to returning to the Dutch fields. I hope to find my niche and want to play well and add many goals and assists for Vitesse.”
According to Friday’s edition of French publication L’Equipe, Arsenal is set to table yet another improved bid for Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette should the current one of $44 million be rejected.
The Gunners have spent little this transfer window, with the capture of Granit Xhaka their only incoming purchase thus far, and it has unsettled many supporters. The club has looked to calm those fears, going so far as to claim they are unable to spend big like many others across England, but on the inside they appear ready to spend for the French frontman.
Should Arsenal submit yet another bid for Lacazette, it would be their third. An initial bid for $39 million was rejected earlier this week, the Ligue 1 side announced on Wednesday.
“The reality is that the Arsenal made an offer of £30m,” the club confirmed in a statement, “which Olympique Lyonnais did not respond to for one reason only: OL wishes to keep Alexandre Lacazette because he is irreplaceable and one of the major leaders of Bruno Genesio’s group.”
The Frenchman scored 21 goals last season in Ligue 1 play, including 11 goals in the season’s final 10 games. His total haul was second in the league behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s whopping 38.
It seems that, with this report out in public, Lyon would be silly to accept the new bid, given that Arsenal is likely to have another improved one soon to follow.
In what is often described as more of a distraction than anything for English teams, the Europa League third qualification round is under way, and a Premier League club is in danger of crashing out of the competition prior to the group stage for the third straight season.
West Ham fell 2-1 at NK Domzale, the third-placed finishers in the Slovenian league last season. Mark Noble grabbed an 18th-minute penalty, the only takeaway from an otherwise depressing road result. On the other side, 24-year-old Matic Crnic scored twice to put Domzale through.
Last season, the Hammers also dropped out of the competition in the third qualification round, to Romanian club Astra Giurgiu, although they had wins in the first and second rounds after entering the competition via fair play. In addition, Southampton also crashed out of last year’s Europa League in the playoff round to Danish side FC Mitdjylland. Hull City dropped out of the tournament two seasons ago in the playoff round.
West Ham has the opportunity to turn things around at home in a week as they host Domzale at the Olympic Stadium on Thursday, August 4 in what will be West Ham’s first competitive game in their new home.
Other notable scores from Europa League qualification include:
- Lille 1-1 Gabala FC
- Panathinaikos 1-0 AIK
- Genk 1-0 Cork
- Pandurii Targu Jiu 0-3 Maccabi Tel Aviv
- Videoton 0-1 Midtjylland
- Hertha BSC 1-0 Bronby
- AZ Alkmaar 1-0 Giannina
Gonzalo Higuain’s summer move to Juventus has not come without bad blood.
When the 28-year-old striker moved from Naples to Turin thanks to Juventus activating his release clause, it left Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis with a sour taste in his mouth. “There are those who say that talk of betrayal is an exaggeration, but I think the opposite,” De Laurentiis told Corierre dello Sport. “Because, in this decision, there is the full sense of betrayal, which also includes ingratitude.”
“We never seriously thought he would leave. Nor that he would have erased in a flash the memories of his three years in Naples.”
That didn’t sit well with Higuain, who fired back that it was de Laurentiis who drove him out of his former club.
“It was my decision to leave, but it was [De Laurentiis] who pushed me into making it,” Higuain told the media at his Juventus unveiling. “I’d like to thank the fans and my teammates, but not De Laurentiis. I no longer had a relationship with him; I couldn’t stand another minute with him.”
Higuain was more celebratory about his time at Stadio San Paulo. “These have been three amazing years,” Higuain said, “and I can only say thanks for all the love I was given, but this was a decision I took for my own reasons. I can understand that they are angry with me and I’ve seen the insults, but it is something I had to do and I’m happy about it.”
Napoli visits Turin in Serie A play on October 30, while Juventus will not travel to Naples for the return fixture until early April of 2017.