Giroud

Newcastle 0-1 Arsenal: Giroud header puts Arsenal back on top (Video)

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Arsenal weathered q fury at St. James Park as Olivier Giroud nodded in a 64th minute free kick in with his head to send Arsenal back to the top of the Premier League table.

With Manchester City having taken a two-point lead the day before, Arsene Wenger played a possession game and forced Newcastle onto the counter.

The visitors asked the early questions of the Newcastle defense, but the back line held strong early on with some quality tackles in the box.

As Newcastle settled in, the match opened up into an end-to-end affair but nothing substantial resulted inside the first half-hour.

Arsenal, often so good in the counter, played a possession game in the first half, forcing the home side to get their opportunities on the break.

An awkward moment surrounded Olivier Giroud in the 35th minute as he put in a nasty challenge on Cheick Tiote – a sentence usually reserved for the other way around – before rolling around on the ground in an attempt to play it off. He received a yellow card for his efforts despite the theatrics.

As Newcastle pressed on the counter and challenged Arsenal’s possession, the visitors were pegged onto the back foot late in the first half.

source: Getty Images
Jack Wilshere was instrumental in Arsenal’s midfield, having returned from his two-match ban.

Referee Lee Probert was called into question when it appeared Loic Remy was possibly taken down on the edge of the box near the 40th minute but it was waved off by the official.

Newcastle had their best chance of the first half on the counter in stoppage time as a blocked shot fell to Moussa Sissoko who fizzed an attempt from distance towards the top of goal but Wojciech Szczesny dove and tipped over.

The home side began where they left off in the second half, coming close seven minutes after the break but Szczesny and company managed to clear with Remy and Younes Gouffran lurking.

With Arsenal finally building back possession, they finally built the advantage they’d been looking for.  Tiote caught Santi Cazorla and sent him to ground on the ball, giving the Gunners a free kick in a central location.

Cazorla took the set-piece himself, and Olivier Giroud latched onto it with his head, beating Davide Santon in the air to touch past Krul for the away lead on 65 minutes.

They nearly doubled their lead just four minutes later as Wilshere sprung Theo Walcott through, but Mathieu Debuchy did well to press the winger and his first touch was saved by Tim Krul. Walcott attempted a chip on the rebound, but Debuchy rescued again by clearing off the line with a header.

Newcastle continued to charge forward looking to break the clean sheet, even sending Krul forward for a pair of corners in stoppage time, but they could not break through.

Arsenal return to the Premier League table’s pole position by a point over City, with Newcastle remaining in seventh two points ahead of Tottenham who play after.

GOALS:

Arsenal – Giroud 64′

LINEUPS:

Newcastle – Krul; Debuchy, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon; Anita (Shola Ameobi 74′), Tiote, Cabaye; Sissoko (Haidara 79′), Remy, Gouffran (Ben Arfa 62′).

Arsenal – Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs (Arteta 71′); Flamini, Rosicky, Wilshere, Walcott (Jenkinson 80′), Cazorla; Giroud (Bendtner 86′).

Bremen beats Wolfsburg to leave Bundesliga relegation zone

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - AUGUST 10:  Serge Gnabry of Germany reacts during the Men's First Round Football Group C match between Germany and Fiji at Mineirao Stadium on August 10, 2016 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by Pedro Vilela/Getty Images)
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WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) — Midfielder Serge Gnabry scored twice as Werder Bremen moved away from the Bundesliga’s relegation zone with a 2-1 win at fellow struggler Wolfsburg on Friday.

Bremen and Wolfsburg are level on points and two above Hamburger SV, which is in 18th place and in the relegation zone.

It was a fifth defeat in six games for Wolfsburg coach Valerien Ismael, who won the league and cup double as a player with Bremen in 2004.

Gnabry fired the visitors ahead with a deflected shot in the 10th minute and made it 2-0 eight minutes later, controlling the ball with his chest before prodding home on the volley.

Striker Borja Mayoral, who is on loan from Real Madrid, scored with his chest following a Wolfsburg corner as Wolfsburg hit back moments later.

Midfielder Daniel Didavi struck the post with a free kick as Wolfsburg kept pushing for an equalizer.

Mancini reportedly not interested in Leicester City, De Boer says no

GENOA, ITALY - APRIL 20:  Head Coach of FC Internazionale Roberto Mancini looks during the Serie A match between Genoa CFC and FC Internazionale Milano at Stadio Luigi Ferraris on April 20, 2016 in Genoa, Italy.  (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
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Two top candidates to replace Claudio Ranieri at Leicester City have reportedly turned down any interest in the job.

Roberto Mancini, the heavy favorite out of the gates after Ranieri’s dismissal, tweeted his support for Ranieri after the news broke. “I am sorry for my friend Ranieri,” Mancini said. “He will be in the history of LCFC, in the hearts of Leicester fans and all football lovers.”

However, the fellow Italian has rebuffed Leicester’s informal advances towards his services. According to Sky Sports, Leicester sent “intermediaries” to “sound out” Mancini’s feelings towards the position, but came back empty-handed. The report states Mancini was turned off to the club after a short and unsuccessful spell there as a player in 2001.

That leaves a host of other names who have been linked to the job, with no clear favorite. One person mentioned was Dutch legend Frank de Boer, who is unemployed after an unusually short stint in charge of Inter Milan. However, De Boer’s agent went public to say he was not ever in the running.

“There is zero possibility that Frank could go to Leicester,” agent Guido Albers told Italian publication Tuttomercatoweb. “I too heard these rumors, but that’s all they are – rumors. I can affirm without doubt that Frank will not become the Leicester City manager. This will 100 per cent not happen.”

Albers explained that De Boer is only interested in joining a club in the offseason, preferring to enter a project with a blank slate rather than joining midseason with particular goals already clearly laid out. With Leicester, it seems De Boer is turned off by the notion of a relegation battle.

Win over Las Palmas again has La Real on edge of CL spot

GETAFE, SPAIN - DECEMBER 11:  Xavi Prieto of Real Sociedad in action during the La Liga match between Getafe CF and Real Sociedad de Futbol at Coliseum Alfonso Perez stadium on December 11, 2015 in Getafe, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
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All it took was one mistake. Real Sociedad’s Xabi Prieto capitalized, and has La Real once again on the verge of next year’s Champions League.

La Real finished 7th in 2013/14, and 9th in 2015/16, and this year, they’re closer than ever. Preito’s goal on the mistake by Las Palmas goalkeeper Javi Varas gave Real Sociedad the 1-0 road win and has them just a point off a Champions League place.

[ MORE: Antonio Conte pulling from experience to keep Chelsea on top ]

That could be even closer next week, as fourth-placed Atletico Madrid has to welcome Barcelona to the Calderon tomorrow, leaving the door open for La Real to make another move next weekend.

The goal down the stretch is not just to win the games they should, but make the teams above them work. La Real has won seven of their last ten matches, but the three losses came to Real Madrid, Villareal, and Sevilla, all teams fighting at the top of the table. They still have chances down the stretch, with matches against Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, and Eibar coming up, with the latter on the docket next weekend.

Conte pulling from prior experience as title race pushes on

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18: Antonio Conte, Manager of Chelsea looks on during The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea at Molineux on February 18, 2017 in Wolverhampton, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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Antonio Conte has recalled some painful memories to push himself and his players forward despite their commanding lead at the top of the Premier League table.

Chelsea sits eight points clear of Manchester City, and has the chance to go even further in front with many of the top teams off this weekend, but that won’t give the Italian any better sleep at night.

In the 1999/2000 season, Conte was nearing the end of his 13-year Juventus tenure. He’d won three league titles already, plus two league cup trophies and a Champions League title with the Serie A giants. With a comfortable nine point lead after 26 matches, the club became complacent. They would lose four of their final eight matches, collapsing on the final day in the pouring rain, allowing Lazio to come roaring back to win the title.

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks for Week 26 ]

“I was captain of the team,” Conte said. “I remember after this game I must go to the European Championships with the national team. I didn’t sleep for six days because it was a shock for me to lose the title.”

Clearly, that still haunts him. “I have experienced this,” Conte continued. “When I continue to repeat that there are 13 games, there are 39 points… there is a long time before we can say we won the title. We must be focused, we must go step by step.”

The Blues host Swansea City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday before a trip to West Ham next weekend. If anyone believes the Chelsea players are complacent holding such a significant lead with 13 matches to go, it’s clear that’s not nearly the case. Anything can happen in three months.