Phil Jones

Premier League Preview: Arsenal vs. Manchester United

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  • Gunners have six-straight clean sheets at the Emirates across all competitions
  • Manchester United has taken just four of its last 12 points.
  • Arsenal hasn’t lost at home since Oct. 29 to Chelsea in the Capital One Cup

Arsenal has four matches before embarking on an absolutely-brutal stretch of matches, so points are crucial against a Manchester United team that’s down but has routinely had their number (Watch live today on NBCSN at 245pm ET or online via NBC Sports Live Extra).

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger can achieve a lot in today’s match. First, he can restore order to his squad after a brutal 5-1 defeat at the hands of Liverpool on the weekend moved them from atop the Premier League table. Arsenal can also make some moves to dismiss a Red Devils who has haunted them in the past half-decade.

Manchester United holds a 12W-3D-2L record against Arsenal in their last 17 contests, including last year’s 8-2 throttling. But the Red Devils have been down, dropping points at Old Trafford to Fulham on the weekend and sitting in an unfamiliar seventh in the table… with Southampton creeping in their rear view mirror. Oh, but good news… they’re still printing stacks on stacks of dough, even if Roy Keane is back questioning Sir Alex Ferguson (the day ends in a ‘y’, doesn’t it?).

WATCH LIVE ON NBCSN AND ONLINE VIA NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA

What they’re saying

Wenger on the match: “As well as banishing the Liverpool game from our minds, we’ll be looking to better our performance from the match at Old Trafford in November. It was a tight game but we weren’t at our best; a few of the guys weren’t very well on the day, but we weren’t dangerous enough overall and, despite our possession, didn’t threaten them enough to score.”

United winger Ashley Young on both squads facing adversity: “I’m sure if we can impose ourselves on the game as well as we have done in [other] games at different stages, we’ll go there and get the three points. But you always expect a reaction from a team that had such a defeat like that [at Liverpool]. It’s one of them where they will look back and try to put things right – especially being at home as well and playing against a United team. They will definitely want to put things right but we want to turn things around and put things right too. We want to go out there and be on the front foot, playing the way we can.”

Prediction

Ask yourself: isn’t this match simply loaded with challenges to traditional perception? In this season’s form, Arsenal bounces back and just toys with Manchester United… but that just hasn’t happened between these two clubs. In the Premier League world we know, where the Red Devils are giants and giant-killers, they knock Arsenal down a peg and continue a Gunner collapse into a European spot battleground. Here’s a call, and not a very confident one: Arsenal 2, Manchester United 2.

Morgan, USWNT cruise past Costa Rica 5-0 behind early flurry of goals

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The U.S. Women got off to a flying start in Olympic qualification Group A play by torching Costa Rica 5-0, including goals from Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, and Crystal Dunn.

Morgan led the way with a double, including one in the opening 12 seconds – only six passes off the opening kick – that set the record for quickest goal in U.S. Soccer history. Lloyd and Dunn both struck in the opening 15 minutes to make it 3-0 before Costa Rica even had time to blink. Lloyd’s came on a penalty after Dunn was felled for the captain’s 83rd international goal, and then the latter bagged one of her own minutes later on a rebound off a shot by Morgan.

[ VIDEO: Alex Morgan caps off a 12-second, six-pass goal ]

The visitors were able to make it Morgan scored her second after the hour mark to cap the goal tally. Jill Ellis completed her trio of substitutions after the fourth goal and the U.S. saw the game out easily.

The fifth came late on a cross from Tobin Heath that fell to Christen Press in the box. With her back to the goal, the 27-year-old produced a simply stunning first touch, back-heeling the ball down before whipping around the opposite direction to lose her defender and firing home the fifth goal.

With the final whistle, the United States improved their record against Costa Rica to a perfect 13-0. The U.S. will play Mexico next on Saturday before finishing out Group A play against Puerto Rico on Monday, February 15.

VIDEO: Alex Morgan scores goal against Costa Rica in 12 seconds

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The United States got off to a historically roaring start in Olympic qualifying. Taking on Costa Rica in Frisco, Texas to begin Group A play, Alex Morgan opened the scoring in just 12 seconds, taking just six passes to complete the masterpiece.

According to the USWNT twitter account, the goal is the fastest in U.S. Soccer history.

According to CONCACAF, the goal is also the quickest in CONCACAF Olympic qualifying, breaking Abby Wambach’s of 35 seconds in a 14-0 domination of the Dominican Republic in 2012.

[ WATCH LIVE: USWNT vs Costa Rica live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

The United States scored three goals in the first 15 minutes against Costa Rica tonight. They will take on Mexico and Puerto Rico across the next five days.

Watch Live: USWNT vs Costa Rica in Olympic qualifying

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 23:  (L-R) Carli Lloyd #10 of the United States is congratulated by teammate Alex Morgan #13 after a goal against Ireland at Qualcomm Stadium on January 23, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
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The United States women are set to begin Group A play in Olympic qualification, taking on 36th ranked Costa Rica at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas at 8:30 a.m. ET.

The game takes place after a 17-day camp at the national training camp in Carson, California.

[ WATCH LIVE: USWNT vs Costa Rica live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

Other teams in the group include Mexico and Puerto Rico. The Mexicans dominated Puerto Rico 6-0 in the first game.

LINEUP

United States: Solo; Krieger, Johnston, Sauerbrunn, Klingenberg; Brian, Horan, Dunn, Lloyd, Heath; Morgan.

Columbus, NYCFC release new kits to mixed results

NYCFC
New York City FC
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Two Major League Soccer clubs have put their kits out there for the 2016 season. They’ve received a mediocre welcome at best.

Columbus was the first, and their kit makes a bold statement moving away from the traditional yellow and black that so often adorns their regular shirts. Instead, the kit incorporates the Columbus flag onto it. The release has seen quite a negative reaction on social media.

The kit was unveiled at the Columbus City Hall on Wednesday, featuring the traditional adidas stripes, although instead of the usual placement on the shoulders, the stripes come down the side of the torso. Recently, adidas has the tendency to copy general jersey patterns across its multiple properties, so look for this design with other clubs in the near future.

The negative reaction to the Columbus release isn’t terribly surprising considering fans often enjoy sticking to tradition, and backlash is common when clubs deviate from the norm. As an additional hurdle, the color contrast between red and yellow is somewhat stark, lending to the difficult reception. Add in the bright pastel blue shorts and…yikes.

While the club didn’t describe how they will utilize this kit during the season, it’s likely to be the primary (at least for now) as the club release says the kit portfolio also includes last year’s black kit, which is traditionally the away kit.

NYCFC’s release of their secondary kit was more positive, receiving a mixed response on social media.

As you can see, adidas again copied their general outline with the stripes down the side of the torso. However, the German clothing manufacturer did much better with the general design of these kits than the Columbus ones. I will give a bit of personal opinion here: I absolutely love these kits. The ripple effect accentuates the crest with a near-3D effect, and the colors mesh perfectly which serves to assuage the eye from being overwhelmed by a busy design. If there’s any criticism, it’s that without an outline, the Etihad logo tends to get in the way a bit, but that’s nitpicking. Well done NYCFC. Columbus…I’ll leave that one to you all.