Jack Wilshere accepts misconduct charge; Arsenal will try to get ban reduced

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Jack Wilshere’s not going to fight the English FA’s misconduct charge; probably a good thing, given he was caught by television cameras on Saturday raising his middle finger to the crowd during Arsenal’s 6-3 loss at Manchester City. After his performance at the Etihad Stadium, Wilshere’s source of frustration was understandable, even if his way of dealing with it wasn’t. Not only did his league-leading club get reminded of their own fallabilty, but Wilshere did very little to stop it.

The two-game ban The FA’s proposing is too much for Arsenal, however. According to tonight’s reporting from The Guardian, the Gunners are set to appeal the ban hoping the suspicion can be cut in half. Citing a one-match suspension handed to Luis Suárez two years ago for the same offense, Arsenal’s hoping precedent will win out.

There is the possibility The FA, with the virtue of hindsight, now see that punishment as insufficient, though Arsenal seems to think the difference between getting caught on video (Wilshere) versus in pictures unfairly accounts for the extra day, perhaps reflecting a desire to deter players from soiling those images being sold to broadcast partners. As much as Arsenal’s contention makes sense, it doesn’t take the most active imagination to think of a scenarios where The FA would want to up the ban.

There are also mitigating factors, Arsenal says. Wilshere was the subject of abuse from fans in Manchester, but on an occasional like City-Arsenal, which Gunner isn’t going to hear a foul word from the crowd. Although there’s a line (and Arsenal may very well show something crossed that line), in the large preponderance of circumstances, it’s not too much to expect a player to refrain from flipping off the crowd. It’s just not that hard to do.

The big lingering issue here, one that was hinted at by Kyle Martino this weekend on Match of the Day, is about frustrations boiling over. When you see a player like Wilshere exhibit some out-of-character behaviors, it’s not unreasonable to ask what else is contributing to this. Is it personal frustrations at not playing well? Team-level issues at being played wide more often after the acquisition of Mathieu Flamini and emergence of Aaron Ramsey? Or was this just a young man having a bad day, unintentionally giving himself a learning experience?

The debate between one and two games is interesting in so far as there are two intriguing sides, but the more meaningful problem rests with Wilshere. Why did he lose it in Saturday’s second half?

Jonas nets 2 late goals to keep Benfica in title hunt

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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Jonas scored two late goals to lead Benfica’s 3-1 comeback win at Pacos Ferreira on Saturday, keeping it close to Portuguese league leader FC Porto.

Jonas equalized in the 72nd minute and gave the defending champion the lead in the 88th.

[ MORE: Man United-Chelsea meet in giant Sunday PL clash ]

Rafa Silva added a third goal after the host was reduced to 10 men in stoppage time when Gian dos Santos was shown a direct red card.

Luiz Phellype gave Pacos Ferreira the lead in the ninth.

The double increased Jonas’ league-leading tally to 27 goals.

Benfica moved to within two points of Porto before the pacesetter visits Portimonense on Sunday.

Sporting Lisbon is third at five points behind Porto. It hosts Moreirense on Monday.

Orlando City trades defender Jose Aja to Whitecaps for allocation money

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The Vancouver Whitecaps have struck a deal with an Eastern Conference side to help solidify their back line.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Johannsson leads Werder Bremen to win ]

On Saturday, the Cascadia club finalized a deal to acquire Orlando City defender Jose Aja in exchange for $125,000 in Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) for 2019.

Additionally, Orlando could receive another $100,000 in TAM if Aja remains on the Whitecaps roster next season and a 2021 second-round MLS SuperDraft pick if Aja is in Canada for the 2020 campaign.

Aja has made 25 appearances for Orlando since coming to MLS in 2016 from his native Uruguay.

The timing of the deal is intriguing, given Tim Parker’s willingness to exit the Whitecaps ahead of the 2018 MLS season.

PST reported on Thursday that Parker is seeking a move back to the East Coast, and the New York-native is being tracked by several Eastern Conference sides, including the New York Red Bulls, D.C. United and the Montreal Impact.

Parker is considered one of the top American defenders in MLS, and is actively seeking a massive pay raise ahead of the new season, after making just under $100,000 in 2017.

PL Sunday preview: Red Devils battle Chelsea at Old Trafford

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It will surely be one of the biggest fixtures of the season when Manchester United and Chelsea get together on Sunday, and for both clubs a victory could be vital in projecting their form for the rest of the 2017/18 campaign.

Meanwhile, a crucial meeting at Selhurst Park pits teams on opposite ends of the table against one another. Crystal Palace enters the weekend levels on points with 18th-place Swansea, while Tottenham could leap Chelsea for fourth if results go in favor of Spurs.

[ MORE: Liverpool continues to score at lightning pace against West Ham ]

Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN

The injury bug has hit Palace hard as of late, with a total of 12 senior team players being left out of Roy Hodgson‘s squad. The list includes Wilfried Zaha, Yohan Cabaye and Mamadou Sakho, which won’t make things easy against a talented Spurs side.

Tottenham have had a ton of success in this fixture recently, winning the last five encounters and only allowing one goal in the process.

Mauricio Pochettino‘s men have hit the ground running in the second half of the season thus far, picking up a league-high 15 points in the Premier League since the start of 2018.

If there is a saving grace for the Eagles though, it is that Palace has been solid at home this season, and gone unbeaten in nine of its last 10 fixtures at Selhurst.

Manchester United vs. Chelsea — 9:05 a.m. ET on NBCSN

After a pair of draws from the PL sides kicked off their Champions League Round of 16 campaigns midweek, United and Chelsea can now focus their attention back to England; at least for the time being.

Jose Mourinho’s team came away from Seville with a crucial scoreless draw after the hosts tested goalkeeper David De Gea on numerous occasions, while Chelsea were close to pulling out a victory against Barcelona had it not been for a big-time mistake from Andreas Christensen late in the match.

Nonetheless, this is a fixture that always garners significant attention, especially from the Blues, who tend to have a better go of it. United has won just once against Chelsea in their last 14 fixtures, with the lone victory coming last season.

That said, Antonio Conte and his side have failed to exemplify consistency this year, and that includes road matches. The Blues have just two road wins in their last nine attempts across all competitions, which bodes well for the Red Devils.

The good news for Chelsea is the recent form of attacking duo Willian and Eden Hazard. The Brazilian was constantly in dangerous positions up the pitch against the Blaugrana in their recent UCL encounter, nabbing the lone goal for the Blues, while Hazard has scored six times in his last six PL matches.

The 2 Robbies: Unstoppable Liverpool, Man United-Chelsea and more

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In today’s episode, Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe discuss Liverpool’s emphatic win over West Ham (0:17), breakdown an extremely complicated relegation situation where nearly half of the league is in jeopardy of going down (10:05), before closing the show with a preview of tomorrow’s Man United v. Chelsea match (28:10).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

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