How much does Arsenal need another striker? Maybe Sunday’s game at Newcastle will tell

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Arsenal needs help at striker; that’s hardly a well-kept secret.

How much Arsene Wenger and upper management around the Emirates Stadium needs some January reinforcement remains up for debate.

You have to wonder if anything seen in Sunday’s match at Newcastle may tip the balance?

Olivier Giroud has been more productive than most of us might have thought, which is among the reasons Wenger’s club finds itself just two points behind Manchester City going into Sunday’s match, with a chance to march into the New Year on top of 20-team the table.

But whereas Arsenal has been fighting for a top 4 spot in the past few years, a few more goals here or there could mean a Premier League crown. So the stakes are higher yet as the club weighs a January move.

Wenger hasn’t been big on mid-season transfers. Andrey Arshavin back in 2009 was Wenger’s last big January signing, and he just never quite lived up to the mighty expectations. So pardon the Gunner for being a little, well, gun shy.

Either way, various reports have insisted Arsenal may pursue FC Porto’s Jackson Martinez, Standard Liege’s Michy Batshuayi or Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata. Jackson would be the big score here. The young Colombian international certainly sounds interested in Premier League soccer, and he says Arsenal (along with Chelsea) were his childhood rooting interests.

So, go get the kid, right? Well, maybe … but maybe not. Don’t forget that January prices are generally inflated.

And there are always further layers of complexity as players consider winter moves in a World Cup year

If Giroud can convince everyone that he’s got a big second half of the season in him, maybe that gives Wenger and his Gunners just a little more leverage in any transfer talks. (Or if Lukas Podolski can keep up the pace from his initial post-injury appearance, same difference.)

If Giroud misses a few more chances at St. James’ Park on Sunday, that may be just enough to pry open the wallet. A Premier League crown may depend on it.

AT HALF: Lletget, Bradley, Dempsey spur USMNT to 3-0 lead

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The United States men’s national team’s bid to recover their 2018 World Cup hopes is off to a flying start.

As it stands, the 3-0 halftime lead provided by Sebastian Lletget, Michael Bradley, and Clint Dempsey has the Yanks up from sixth to fourth in the Hex table.

Sebastian Lletget scored a fifth minute goal to ease the tensions of the Avaya Stadium crowd in San Jose, though he’d leave the match with injury before the match was 20 minutes old.

Sloppy Honduran defending caused a turnover outside the 18, and Jozy Altidore played Christian Pulisic in on goal.

[ LIVE – Play-by-play via @USSoccer ]

Keeper Donis Escober got a piece of Pulisic’s shot, but no one followed Lletget to the back post and the ex-West Ham and current LA Galaxy man quickly put the Yanks up 1-0.

Then it was the captain who doubled the lead, as Honduras inexplicably gave him the room to walk across the arc of the 18 to rip a shot across goal. 2-0.

It was Clint Dempsey’s turn in the 33rd minute, after an otherworldly scooped pass from Pulisic.

What. A. Pass. Kid.

LINEUP

USMNT: Howard; Villafana, Gonzalez, Brooks, Cameron; Bradley, Lletget (Bedoya, 18′), Nagbe; Pulisic, Dempsey, Altidore.

Goals: Lletget (5′), Bradley (27′), Dempsey (33′)

LIVE – USMNT looks to right ship vs. Honduras

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The United States starts to make amends for its 0-2 start to the final round of World Cup qualifying with a match against Honduras on Friday in San Jose.

Losses to Mexico and Costa Rica cost Jurgen Klinsmann his job and Bruce Arena will try things differently

[ LIVE – Play-by-play via @USSoccer ]

Most importantly for Arena, Geoff Cameron and Tim Howard are available this time around.

Cameron starts at right back, with John Brooks and Omar Gonzalez in the center of the back four. Jorge Villafana slots into the mix at left back.

Captain Michael Bradley will sit atop the midfield, with Darlington Nagbe, Sebastian Lletget, and Christian Pulisic in the midfield.

Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore are the forwards. Kickoff is set for 10:55 p.m. EDT from Avaya Stadium.

Minnesota’s Molino lifts Trinidad and Tobago to big win (video)

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Minnesota United attacker Kevin Molino has given Trinidad and Tobago life in the race to win a spot at the 2018 World Cup.

Molino’s 37th minute goal gave hosts T&T a 1-0 lead against visiting Panama at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday, and the Soca Warriors held on to win its first points of qualifying.

Panama had a Luis Tejada goal controversially ruled offside as Los Canaleros nearly pulled their fifth point of the Hex. Panama faces the USMNT on Tuesday in Panama City.

[ WATCH: Zaha scores wonder vs. Russia ]

Molino fooled long time LA Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo with a low shot across the body. The Panama backstop couldn’t get low enough or far enough with his dive to stop the shot.

The win has T&T in fifth place on the Hex table, behind Honduras on goal differential and three points ahead of the last place USMNT.

The U.S. needs a two-goal win to pass T&T, and a three-goal win to climb above Honduras.

WATCH: Zaha drives Russia nuts with mazy dribble goal

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Wilfried Zaha combined balance, deft touch, and breakneck speed to score his first international goal for the Ivory Coast.

With his side leading Russia 1-0 on Friday, the Crystal Palace winger worked his way through four defenders before burying his shot.

[ MORE: Smalling hurt, Gibson called up ]

Zaha especially fooled with Ilya Kutepov, a harsh cut nearly tipping both to the field.

He’s just 24, and it seems much longer ago that he made his failed move to Manchester United in 2013.

Failed may be a rough verb considering it all contributed to making him the player he is for Crystal Palace and Ivory Coast today.