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′).

Chinese clubs to pay 100% tax on foreign transfers

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The days of Chinese Super League sides spending eye-popping figures on a handful of international superstars are over — either that, or those figures are about to double — for now, at least.

[ MORE: Oscar given 8-game ban for petulant display in China ]

China’s Football Association announced Thursday that, effective immediately, any foreign player signed for a fee exceeding $6.63 million would be subject to a 100-percent tax on top of the fee paid to acquire the player. The tax will remain in effect until the end of China’s ongoing transfer window, July 14. The tax will also apply to Chinese players signed for a fee exceeding $3 million.

It’s Chinese authorities’ latest attempt to prevent big spending by CSL clubs, which has in every instance been detrimental to the development of young Chinese players making their way through the academy system. The taxed money will then be reinvested in “youth training, construction of public sporting facilities and scientific progress in football development,” according to a statement by the CFA.

Just last week, China was eliminated from contention to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Russia. The only time China has ever qualified for the World Cup was in 2002.

Young Englishman Oxford goes abroad, to Gladbach, on loan

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MOENCHENGLADBACH, Germany (AP) Borussia Moenchengladbach has signed English central defender Reece Oxford on loan for the season from Premier League club West Ham.

Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl says “Oxford has gone through all the England youth teams and is one of the biggest defensive talents in Britain.”

The 18-year-old Oxford, who spent the second half of last season on loan at second-division club Reading, is Gladbach’s fifth arrival of the off-season.

Qatar stadium safety concerns again raised by death investigation

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An investigation into why a British man fell to his death on a building site for the 2022 Qatar soccer World Cup has raised concerns about stadium roof safety.

World Cup organizers on Thursday released partial findings of an assessment of the accident at the Khalifa International Stadium, but said the full report cannot be released while local authorities continue their own investigation. It is one of two work-related deaths detailed in Qatar’s latest welfare report on preparations for the 2022 soccer tournament, which currently involves 12,367 workers on eight construction sites.

The 40-year-old British man fell 39 meters in January after one end of the roof catwalk he was installing dropped and a safety rope snapped.

“During the course of the investigation, the team had raised concerns with the method of installation of the raised catwalk system,” the welfare report from Qatar’s World Cup organizers stated. “This required further investigation regarding the method itself and the supervision skills of the specialist contractor staff.”

It has led to “corrective and preventative actions” being implemented by the contractor, a joint venture between Belgian and Qatari firms, along with safety checks across all stadium sites, the report said.

“These included a review of all working-at-height activities across all SC projects, an enhanced process when reviewing specialist activities within construction sites, and a detailed review of all roof and gantry designs,” the Supreme Committee overseeing stadium projects added.

The British man is the only European working on Qatar stadiums to have died in a country relying on a low-paid migrant workforce from south Asia to prepare for the first World Cup in the Middle East. Six non-work related deaths have been announced by organizers, with most suffering from heart or breathing problems.

Hassan Al Thawadi, the supreme committee’s secretary general, said medical staff are trying to raise awareness of the “importance of healthy lifestyles” by evaluating diets and identifying health issues, including hypertension and diabetes. Cooling helmets have also been developed in an attempt to make it safer for workers on outdoor sites during the searing summer heat.

World Cup preparations have been dogged by concerns about the welfare of workers since the natural gas-rich Gulf nation won the FIFA vote in 2010. Mounting international pressure led to Qatar raising living standards and worker rights. Inspections led to three contractors being blacklisted and 14 entities “demobilized” from projects for failing to tackle welfare issues, the World Cup report reveals.

“There is still work to be done to ensure our workers’ welfare standards continue to have a tangible impact on the ground and we are comprehensive in our attempts to tackle the myriad of issues facing migrant workers across the SC program,” Khalid Al-Kubaisi, who oversees worker welfare at the Supreme Committee, said in a statement.

The report has been released as Qatar is gripped by a diplomatic crisis that has seen it isolated in the region. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar earlier this month and blocked air, sea and land traffic over its support for Islamist groups and ties with Iran. Qatar denies the charges and says the allegations are politically motivated.

Official (finally): Salah completes move from Roma to Liverpool

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It was the summer’s first transfer rumor-turned-real-story-turned-never-ending-saga that seemed to refuse to cross the finish line, but it’s finally come to pass: Mohamed Salah is a Liverpool player.

Salah’s move from Roma to Liverpool took so long to complete that the club’s poor social-media manager probably never wants to read the words “Announce Salah” for the rest of his/her life.

The deal will cost Liverpool something in the neighborhood of $50 million — a new Liverpool club record — and completes the utterly terrifying attacking quartet Jurgen Klopp can’t wait to unleash on the Premier League come August — Salah on one side, Sadio Mane opposite, Philippe Coutinho in the middle, and Roberto Firmino at striker. Salah, by the way, will take over Firmino’s no. 11 shirt, with the Brazilian switching to no. 9.