Arsenal 4-1 Sunderland: Gunners score early and often to blast Black Cats (video)

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No Ozil, no problem.

It was never difficult for Arsenal, as the Premier League’s second-place team cruised to a 4-1 home win over relegation scrapping Sunderland.

“We had a very demanding week and we gave the right response today. We scored two great Arsenal goals,” Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger. “”We showed today that we could respond [to the Bayern result].”

Premier League Roundup: Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal and Man United grab wins

Laurent Koscielny and Tomas Rosicky scored, while Olivier Giroud notched a brace in his return from controversy after reports of his infidelity ripped through the media.

“I had no hesitation about his strength of character,” said Wenger. “He did well.”

Mesut Ozil was held out of the match for a “dead leg,” presumably the one that caused him to miss a penalty kick against Bayern Munich in Arsenal’s mid-week UEFA Champions League match.

Arsenal opened the match in Sunderland’s half and spent nearly three minutes working the ball around before the Black Cats sniffed possession.

It wasn’t long after that the Gunners capitalized as a pretty bit of passing between four players ended with a slick cross-area feed from Wilshere to Giroud for the Frenchman’s 11th of the season.

Sunderland found their first true chance in the 16th minute when Marcos Alonso slid the ball from the top of the 18 to Fabio Borini streaking down the left side, but Borini’s low shot (or cross) was collected by Szczesny.

The majority of moments through the first half hour belonged to Arsenal, though, as Vito Mannone was forced into duty on several occasions. If anyone asks, point to a Lukas Podolski blast from 25 yards out in the 21st minute as proof. Per Mertesacker’s header on the ensuing corner led to nothing.

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Argentine defender Santiago Vergini was largely responsible for Giroud’s second, as he attempted a back pass to Mannone and learned of a major problem: Giroud was in between the two Black Cats. The Frenchman coolly made it a brace and it was 2-0 to Arsenal.

Sunderland picked up another assist when Rosicky attempted a 1-2 with Giroud but the return ball came off a Sunderland back. The bloodbath at the Emirates was all red and it was 3-0 before half, as Arsenal celebrated the dedicated of a statue to Gunners and Dutch legend Dennis Bergkamp.

“Rosicky’s goal is one of the best. It’s how we want to play and, when it’s successful, you’re happy,” Wenger quipped after the match. “Rosicky took the role of Bergkamp today.”

American forward Jozy Altidore was subbed off at halftime, and was virtually invisible in the first 45 minutes.

The second featured an early yellow card for Emanuele Giaccherini for a dirty move against Giroud.

The offense didn’t rest for Arsenal, or better put: the defense kept coming forward. Laurent Koscielny headed home a Santi Cazorla corner kick to make it 4-0 in the 57th minute. Koscielny left the match with an injury just under 10 minutes later.

Giaccherini ruined Szczesny’s clean sheet off a set piece in the 81st minute, as his low right footer headed left corner to make it 4-1.


Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny (Flamini, 67), Monreal (Jenkinson, 45), Arteta, Rosicky (Gnabry, 73), Wilshere, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud

Goals: Giroud (5, 31), Rosicky (42), Koscielny (57)

Sunderland: Mannone, Bardsley, Ki (Scocco, 73), Johnson (Larsson, 45), Colback, O’Shea, Altidore (Giaccherini, 45), Bridcutt, Vergini, Alonso, Borini

Goal: Giaccherini (81)

Ronaldo: “I always believe I am the best”

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You’ve got to appreciate the over-sized ego of Cristiano Ronaldo, even if it is deserved.

The 33-year-old Real Madrid striker was bestowed the 2017 Player of the Year award from the Portugal FA, earning 65 percent of the vote. But more than winning yet another trophy to add to his burgeoning case was what he told the media after accepting the award.

“We have to defend what is ours because there is always a Portuguese in the fight (for the top awards),” Ronaldo said, via AS. “I always believe and say that I am the best, whatever they say, and then I show it in the field. We are in the fight year after year.”

Ronaldo did score 42 goals last year for Real Madrid and has scored 18 goals in 2018 alone already for Los Blancos as the club look to go back-to-back-to-back in the UEFA Champions League.

Miazga: “We’re all ready to make an impression” with USMNT

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Last October, for reasons unknown, Matt Miazga didn’t make the U.S. Men’s National Team squad for its final two World Cup qualifiers.

Five months later, he’s risen to the top of the centerback depth chart.

[MORE: Digging into the USMNT roster]

The hulking centerback spoke on Tuesday as the USMNT started off its training camp in Cary, N.C., noting that the youth-laden squad wanted to make an impression to stay in the picture moving forward. With four years until the next World Cup and still more than a year until competitive matches, there is still plenty of shuffling and expanding of the player pool to do before then.

Have a listen to Miazga and enjoy the sights and sounds of the USMNT training camp ahead of its friendly match against Paraguay.


Banker Gaetano Micciche elected Serie A president

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MILAN (AP) Bank boss Gaetano Micciche has been elected president of Serie A.

Micciche, the president of Banca IMI, was chosen unanimously on Monday by the Italian league’s 20 clubs.

He succeeds Maurizio Beretta, who left the position nearly a year ago.

[ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

The league has been under emergency leadership, first by former Italian football federation president Carlo Tavecchio then by Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago.

Malago recommended Micciche for the position.

The federation remains under emergency leadership following Tavecchio’s resignation in the wake of Italy’s failure to qualify for the World Cup.

Report: Liverpool to resist all offers for Salah

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Liverpool has a message for any club looking to sign Mohamed Salah this summer: Not gonna happen.

The Merseyside club has reportedly said it will “not sell Salah under any circumstances this summer” as the Reds look to hold off the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona, according to The Telegraph. Salah’s four-goal tally against Watford on Saturday took his goal total to an incredible 28 in 32 Premier League games, with another seven goals in cup competitions.

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Liverpool famously kept Barcelona – and Arsenal – off Luis Suarez after the Uruguayan striker wanted to leave in 2013, but Liverpool was only able to stop Barcelona from signing Philippe Coutinho for six months.

As things stand, Liverpool are qualified for the 2018-2019 UEFA Champions League with the club sitting in a top four Premier League place, and keeping Salah is absolutely vital if the Reds want to make a deep run in the competition and compete for a Premier League title. It remains to be seen though if Salah is happy to stay at Liverpool or if a big-money offer from Spain or France can tempt him otherwise to set himself and his family financially for life.