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Arsenal 3-1 West Ham United: Podolski double puts Gunners back in the win column (video)

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Two goals from Lukas Podolski around Olivier Giroud’s match winner allowed an embattled Arsenal to claim its first league win in 30 days, a 3-1 victory over West Ham that allows the Gunners to temporarily reclaim fourth place in the Premier League. Although Everton can resume that spot tomorrow against Crystal Palace, Arsenal fans will get at least 24 hours to enjoy their team’s place in the top four, with Matt Jarvis’s 40th minute opener going rendered irrelevant as Arsène Wenger’s team fought back before the hour.

That opener came after a Antonio Nocerino shot from the right of the area was popped up in the six-yard box, allowing Jarvis to run onto the header that sent his team in front. The lead only lasted four minutes, however, with Podolski pulling his team back just before intermission.

Shortly after half time, Giroud’s short from the right of goal beat Adrián far post, giving the home side its first lead of the day. When Podolski added his season in the 78th minute, Arsenal was back in the win column for the first time since March 16’s win at White Hart Lane.

With 67 minutes, the Gunners sit just above Everton in the table, with the Toffees hosting Crystal Palace tomorrow. West Ham, coming off a weekend loss to Liverpool stay in 11th place, the club’s 37 points leaving it at the extreme reaches of a relegation battle.

Staying deep and relying on the counter attack, the Hammers had the better for play for the first half hour, with early shots by Mohamed Diamé and Antonio Nocerino drawing blocks inside Arsenal’s penalty area. With a perfectly threaded through ball from 40 yards out, however, Santi Cazorla produced the Gunners’ first big chance, with Giroud’s test of Adrián in the 29th minute threatening to switch the match’s momentum.

In the 40th minute, West Ham was finally rewarded for its stalwart start. After a Nocerino shot from the right of Arsenal’s area drew Wojciech Szczesny beyond his left post, Jarvis was able to run onto the rebound, heading home from inside the six to give the Hammers a 1-0 lead.

source: Getty ImagesThanks to a mistake from Stewart Downing, that edge lasted only four minutes. Attempting to clear a ball near West Ham’s right corner, the Irons’ winger played a long pass back toward the middle of the field, finding Cazorla above the penalty area. A ball quickly rolled toward goal allowed Podolski to take a touch before blasting a shot into the right side netting, bringing Arsenal even just before half time.

Early in the second, the Gunners claimed their first lead of the match, assuaging fears the Hammers could compound the team’s late-season problems. After a 55th minute corner was cleared out of the West Ham area, Thomas Vermaelen lobbed a pass back toward goal, finding Giroud in between Winston Reid and Andy Carroll. A skillful trap from the Gunners’ striker allowed him to get a shot off before Adrián could close down his angles, with the far post try giving the home side a 2-1 lead.

In the 78th minute, Giroud was part of the day’s final goal, putting a cross in from the left that found Aaron Ramsey just above the 18-yard box. The substitute midfielder headed the ball into the left channel, where Podolski quickly put a left-footed shot into the top of Adrián’s net.

Down two goals, the fight drained out of West Ham, with the urgent concern on Sam Allardyce’s face fading into calm conversation with his assistants. On the other bench, the worry that defined Wenger’s scowl after Jarvis’s opener gave way to a more settled resolve, that of a man who wouldn’t have to explain another failing after the final whistle.

Instead of failure, Arsenal can now embrace hope, with its Tuesday win giving fans reasons to believe the team can capitalize on its easy run-in. Win out, and the Gunners may yet return to Champions League.

For West Ham, the opening goal may have raised spirits, but points were never likely to come at the Emirates. The loss is less of a set back than the expected result.

Lineups

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Arteta, Rosicky (Ramsey 72′), Kallstrom, Cazorla (Jenkinson 88′), Podolski, Giroud

Goals: Podolski (44′, 78′), Giroud (55′)

West Ham: Adrian, Reid, Tomkins, Jarvis (Vaz Te 78′), Armero, Demel, Noble, Downing (J. Cole 78′), Diame, Nocerino, Carroll (C. Cole 84′)

Goals: Jarvis (40′)

Gerrard urges Liverpool to “try and bid for Van Dijk”

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28:  Virgil van Dijk of Southampton celebrates as he scores their first goal during the Premier League match between Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur at St Mary's Stadium on December 28, 2016 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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Virgil Van Dijk‘s quick rise in the Premier League has caught the attention of many around England, and one of the division’s greats has high hopes the Dutchman will join his former side in the future.

[ MORE: Saints wallop Leicester in complete effort ]

Steven Gerrard has suggested that Liverpool come out and pursue Van Dijk, who joined Southampton back in 2015 from Scottish side Celtic.

Gerrard — who is set to take a coaching position with Liverpool’s academy — believes the budding star would be a strong fit for the Reds, however, the ex-midfielder realizes it’ll be a hard sell.

“Who I think we need, I would go and try and bid for Van Dijk from Southampton,” Gerrard told BT Sport. “But we’ve had enough of their players so that will probably go down like a lead balloon.”

The 25-year-old has made waves in England’s top flight after quickly proving to be one of the division’s top defenders and helping guide the Saints towards the top half of the table since his arrival.

Report: San Diego making push to become future MLS expansion site

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With the NFL no longer the biggest show in town, San Diego could be bringing another football to the city in the near future.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Hyndman provides assist in Rangers debut win ]

According to NBC 7 San Diego, FS Investors founder Mike Stone and former Qualcomm Vice Chairman Steve Altman are prepared to reveal their proposal on Monday that will bring a future MLS franchise to San Diego.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

The proposed move includes a stadium plan that will reside where the Chargers’ Qualcomm Stadium currently sits. With the NFL franchise now playing in Los Angeles, the San Diego Padres of Major League Baseball are the only remaining professional team in the area, out of the five major sports in the U.S.

NBC 7 is also reporting that a future San Diego team would share its facility with the San Diego State Aztecs football team.

MLS is currently up to 22 teams entering the 2017 season, while Los Angeles FC is also tabbed to enter the league next year. David Beckham’s Miami project is also considered to be the league’s 24th team, and MLS is likely to hold off on further announcements regarding expansion until later in 2017.

If San Diego were to be chosen as an expansion site, the club would become the fourth to call California home in the current state of MLS, joining the San Jose Earthquakes, Los Angeles Galaxy and LA FC (2018).

In addition to San Diego, several other cities are currently vying to enter MLS in the future, including St. Louis, Cincinnati, Sacramento and Charlotte.

Hull’s Ryan Mason hospitalized following collision with Gary Cahill

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 22: Ryan Mason of Hull City lies injured after the collision with Gary Cahill of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Hull City at Stamford Bridge on January 22, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
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Ryan Mason has undergone surgery following a scary collision with Chelsea’s Gary Cahill on Sunday.

[ MORE: Chelsea goes eight points clear at top of PL ]

The Hull City midfielder was injured after knocking heads with Cahill during first half of the 2-0 defeat to the Blues. Nine minutes of first-half stoppage time were needed after Mason stayed down on the pitch at Stamford Bridge.

[ MORE: Xhaka’s red card makes him most sent-off player in Europe ]

It has been confirmed by the club that Mason suffered a skull fracture, while it is has also been speculated that the 25-year-old could have had bleeding on his brain.

Mason will remain hospitalized for the “next few days,” according to the Tigers.

“The Club can confirm that Ryan Mason sustained a skull fracture in our fixture at Chelsea this afternoon. He was taken to St Mary’s Hospital where he has undergone surgery.

“Ryan is in a stable condition and is expected to remain in hospital for the next few days.
“Everyone at the Club would like to express their sincere thanks for the excellent and swift care given to Ryan by both the Accident and Emergency department and Neurosurgery Unit at St Mary’s Hospital.

“A further update will be issued tomorrow.”

While Mason was forced off during the match due to the injury, Cahill managed to continue for Chelsea and scored the game’s second goal.

Watch: Scott Sinclair nets stunning curler in Celtic victory

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Celtic is enjoying another fine campaign in Scotland, and much of the team’s success can be attributed to the play of Scott Sinclair.

[ MORE: Burkina Faso, Cameroon progress at AFCON 2017 ]

The Englishman was at it again on Sunday during Celtic’s 3-0 Scottish Cup win over Albion Rovers when the 27-year-old curled an absolutely sublime effort into the top corner for the game’s opening goal.

The finish, Sinclair’s 13th of the season in all competitions, came after the winger picked up the ball on the left side of the Albion penalty area. Sinclair then proceeded to slot his dipping shot just under the bar and into the far post.

Celtic now moves on to the fifth round of this season’s tournament, joining the likes of Rangers and Aberdeen. In addition to the team’s success in the competition, the Bhoys have yet to lose a match in the Scottish Premier League this campaign (19 W, 1 D).