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Manchester City 6-3 Arsenal: Pulsating clash swings City’s way as offense explodes (video)

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A dominant attacking display from Manchester City saw them brush aside Premier League leaders Arsenal 6-3 at the Etihad Stadium, as the Citizens are now just three points behind the Gunners after a pulsating clash.

City took the lead through Sergio Aguero’s stunning first half volley, but Theo Walcott equalized soon after for Arsenal. Before the break City regained the lead when Alvaro Negredo finished off a superb team move to make it 2-1. After the interval City extended their lead when Fernandinho curled home a beauty but Walcott pulled Arsenal back into the game with a stunner of his own moments later.

City went 4-2 up as David Silva smashed home from close range and then Fernandinho added his second to make it 5-2. Arsenal grabbed a consolation through Per Mertesacker but City had the last say as Yaya Toure scored a penalty as the Citizens momentarily move into second spot in the PL.

With the win, Manuel Pellegrini’s men are just three points Arsenal as the Gunners lead at the summit is reduced after City’s explosive offensive display. The Citizen’s have now scored 35 goals in their eight home games so far and have won all eight as they sent out a message to the rest of the PL.

Manchester City dominated the early stages as they poured forward to try and go ahead early but Arsenal held firm and gradually grew in confidence as the first half wore on.

And it was the Gunners who had the first big chance of the game, as Walcott got free down the right and found Jack Wilshere unmarked at the back post in the 11th minute but the England international horribly skewed his volley and Olivier Giroud couldn’t direct his header goal wards in the ensuing melee.

Moments later Aguero gave City the lead as he acrobatically finished at the back post after a flick on from Martin Demechelis after a corner was swung in. Aguero peeled off away from his marker and volleyed home in style to put City 1-0 up after 13 minutes as the Citizens’ bright-start was rewarded. The goal marked the Argentine’s 15th goal in his last 14, and his 19th goal in 20 games this season.

City were playing with a real swagger and confidence and in the 19th minute central defender Vincent Kompany strolled forward and played in Negredo who smashed an effort just wide of the near post as the Citizens’ pushed for a second.

Wave after wave of City attack continued to come in on Arsenal’s goal as the Gunners struggled to get out of their own half. But in the 31st minute they were back on level terms as Yaya Toure was caught in possession and Arsenal pounced to make it 1-1.

Mesut Ozil was found on the edge of the box and he waited to play in Walcott who side-footed his effort goal wards and Demechelis got a slight touch on it as the ball hit the back of the net and there has to be question marks about Costel Pantilimon’s positioning in goal for City.

A fantastic end to the first half ensued as Negredo was played in and ‘the beast’ curled his left-footed effort wide of the far corner as City looked to hit back straight-away.

source: AP
Walcott curled in a beauty for his and Arsenal’s second goal of the match.

Eventually they did go back in front, as Negredo put City 2-1 up when Toure and Pablo Zabaleta combined superbly to set the Spanish striker up for a easy tap-in in the 39th minute. Laurent Koscielny was injured for Arsenal as he tried to stop Negredo from scoring and was replaced by Thomas Vermaelen.

In the second half City lost their in-form striker Aguero within a few minutes of the restart as the Argentine forward injured his calf and was replaced by Jesus Navas with City switching to a 4-5-1 formation. Moments later City were 3-1 up as the Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho curled home his first goal in the league for City in the 50h minute.

Arsenal attacked straight-away as Wilshere’s ball found Giroud at the back post but the Frenchman blazed over from close-range. As the Gunners pushed to get back into the game Zabaleta looked to have handled a through ball which stopped Walcott from going clean through but referee Martin Atkinson waved away the calls for a PK.

Walcott made it 3-2 in the 63rd minute as he curled home a beauty to score his second goal in his first game since returning from injury. The England winger cut in from the left and put his effort right into the top corner to give the Gunners hope of a stunning comeback.

But two minutes later Silva restored City’s two-goal advantage as he powerfully swept home a cross from the right as the game took yet another twist to put the Citizens 4-2 ahead.

Late on the game opened up and City almost extended their lead as Navas went clean through, rounded Szczesny in Arsenal’s goal but put his effort into the side-netting instead of slotting home. It didn’t matter though because City scored again thanks to a cool finish from Fernandinho for his second PL goal of the season but Mertesacker pulled a goal back in stoppage time with a header. But Toure rounded it all off from the penalty spot in the 94th minute to make it 6-3.

City are now within touching distance of top spot.

LINEUPS

Manchester City: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Nasri, Silva (Milner, 70), Aguero (Jesus Navas 48), Negredo

Goals: Aguero (14), Negredo (39), Fernandinho (50 & 87), Silva (66), Toure (90)

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny (Vermaelen, 41), Monreal, Flamini (Gnabry, 70), Wilshere, Ramsey, Ozil, Walcott, Giroud (Bendtner, 75)

Goals: Walcott (31 & 63), Mertesacker (90)

EFL Cup Final preview: Saints aim to deny Manchester United, Mourinho

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 28:  Vincent Kompany of Manchester City and team mate Pablo Zabaleta celebrate victory with the trophy after the Capital One Cup Final match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on February 28, 2016 in London, England. Manchester City win 3-1 on penalties.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
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With the Community Shield in tow, Jose Mourinho aims for his first full tournament trophy as Manchester United boss when his Red Devils meet Southampton at 11:30 a.m. EDT Sunday.

Wembley Stadium is the venue for the EFL Cup Final, a trophy United has claimed four times. The last one came in 2010, as the Red Devils clinched their third League Cup in five seasons.

[ JPW: Southampton comes full circle ]

Sunday marks Southampton’s first final since 1979, when Saints fell 3-2 to Nottingham Forest.

Saints continue to make due without Virgil Van Dijk and Charlie Austin, but newcomers Manolo Gabbiadini, Sofiane Boufal, and Martin Caceres could all feature on Friday.

Gabbiadini almost certainly will, and he’s been a difference maker for Saints since arriving from Napoli. The 25-year-old has three goals in two Premier League matches.

[ MORE: Projected lineups for EFL Cup final ] 

United will not have Henrikh Mkhitaryan back after the Armenian midfielder limped off the pitch midweek, but fellow walking wounded star Michael Carrick will be back for the Red Devils. Wayne Rooney, Ander Herrera, and Eric Bailly will be available.

The Red Devils won the FA Cup last season and the league in 2012-13. Mourinho has three League Cups from his time at Chelsea.

But Antonio Valencia says that United has to act like this is a chance for a new era. From ManUtd.com:

“We have to forget about the fact that we might have won there three, four or five times,” he added. “We have to put that to one side. This is another final, and a totally different story. We cannot afford to make one single mistake, this is a final and we cannot lose our concentration for even one minute.”

Saints will be underdogs for this one, but this trophy isn’t alien to avoiding the hands of the big boys as we’ve seen with Birmingham City, Middlesbrough, and Swansea City since the turn of the century.

Claudio Ranieri issues classy goodbye to Leicester City

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Claudio Ranieri has issued a statement on his somewhat surprising firing from Leicester City, less than 10 months after winning the Premier League title.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Swans preview ]

The Italian manager with a knack of word play pulls on the heart-strings in discussing his exit from Leicester, a club he did not plan to leave any time soon.

From the Leicester Mercury:

Yesterday my dream died.

After the euphoria of last season and being crowned Premier League champions all I dreamed of was staying with Leicester city, the club I love, for always.

Sadly, this was not to be.

He went on to thank his family, Leicester City, saving the kindest words for the Foxes’ supporters.

No one can ever take away what we together have achieved, and I hope you think about it and smile every day the way I always will.

It has been a pleasure and an honour to be a champion with all of you.

No surprise to read class from Claudio. Read the full statement here.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Swansea City

SWANSEA, WALES - SEPTEMBER 11:  Chelsea manager Antonio Conte battles to get the ball back with Cesar Apilicueta (r) from Swansea forward Modou Barrow during the Premier League match between Swansea City and Chelsea at Liberty Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
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  • Chelsea leads all-time 14W-11D-7L
  • Sides drew 2-2 in September
  • Swans unbeaten vs Blues since Jan ’15

Premier League leaders Chelsea face a resurgent Swansea City side which has given it fits (Watch live at 10 a.m. EDT Saturday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The Blues have dropped points in two of their last three Premier League matches, and also have two draws and a loss to Swans in the past three match-ups.

Swansea has won three of four in Premier League play, the lone setback a 2-1 loss to Manchester City. New manager Paul Clement has led Swans from deep in the relegation zone to four points clear of the drop zone.

To succeed, Swans will have to avoid conceding often and early. According to Chelsea’s club statistician:

Conte’s players have scored the opening goal more times than any other Premier League team this season (19) and have yet to lose (16 wins, three draws).

What they’re saying

Antonio Conte on former Chelsea assistant Clement“He has had a great impact on the team. Also, with the transfer window, they reinforced the team, and we must pay great attention. If you watch their games against Liverpool, against Man City, you understand the difficulty of the game. I am sure my players understand this. They have worked very well to face them in the right way.”

Clement on staring down Chelsea“I have said to the players that yes we have put ourselves in a good position, but how hard are we willing to work to make sure we continue to improve? How much do we want to avoid suffering at the end of the season? Because unless we keep winning games and progressing up the table, we are going to find ourselves in a position where we need, say, four points from the last two games of the season.”

Prediction

Stamford Bridge will be the difference here, as Chelsea keeps it tight against Swans. 2-0.

PREVIEW: Tottenham Hotspur’s “To Dare Is To Do”

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The latest Premier League Download makes its debut on Sunday, as we dive deep into Tottenham Hotspur.

With a brand new stadium under construction and a solid look at perennial top-end pushes, Spurs are among the more intriguing stories in the Premier League.

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League Picks ]

Spurs host Stoke City on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. EDT on NBCSN, and “Tottenham Hotspur: To Dare Is To Do” debuts at 11 a.m. EDT, right after the match.