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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′)

MLS Snapshot: Toronto FC 1-1 Philadelphia Union (video)

Toronto FC's Jozy Altidore, center, shields the ball from Philadelphia Union's Richie Marquez, left, as Ken Tribbett looks on during first half MLS soccer action in Toronto on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)
Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): Another week goes by, and the world remains clueless with regard to the top three places in MLS’s Eastern Conference. Toronto FC entered the weekend with a two-point lead on the New York Red Bulls and New York City FC; then, NYCFC won big on Friday to go a point ahead. With RBNY still to face the Montreal Impact on Saturday, all three sides could finish the weekend on 48 points, a three-way tie atop the East, following TFC’s 1-1 draw with the Philadelphia Union at BMO Field. The home side went down a goal in the first half, via Alejandro Bedoya’s firt MLS goal — a chipped beauty (WATCH HERE) — before Justin Morrow played the role of unlikely hero, snatching TFC’s equalizer in the 70th minute. Saturday’s game marked TFC’s third without Sebastian Giovinco (quad/adductor injuries). TFC have won five of a possible nine points without the reigning — soon-to-be-back-to-back? — MLS MVP.

[ MORE: Playoff Picture — 4 teams can clinch playoff berth this weekend ]

Three Four moments that mattered

25′ — Bedoya chips Irwin for 1-0 — It was just about the most difficult route to goal, but Bedoya wasn’t fazed one bit. Poor Clint Irwin, he was hardly even off his line. (WATCH HERE)

43′ — Irwin makes the point-blank save on Herbers — Reaction saves from point-blank range don’t get much better than this one by Irwin. Keeping his side in it.

70′ — Morrow slots home to bring TFC level — Jonathan Osorio did brilliantly to keep his composure with ample opportunity to take a difficult shot toward goal. Instead, he played Morrow through, and the full back finished the chance like a world-class striker.

90+3′ — Altidore hacked down in the box, no PK given — Ismail Elfath had long ago swallowed his whistle, apparently, because Jozy Altidore was hacked down inside the penalty area by C.J. Sapong, and TFC were absolutely bewildered by the no-call.

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Man of the match: Alejandro Bedoya

Goalscorers: Bedoya (25′), Morrow (70′)

VIDEO: Alejandro Bedoya’s first MLS goal was a delicious chip

Alejandro Bedoya, Philadelphia Union (Photo credit: Philadelphia Union / Twitter: @PhilaUnion)
Photo credit: Philadelphia Union / Twitter: @PhilaUnion
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Good things come to those who wait.

Alejandro Bedoya has been very patient in waiting for his first MLS goal after making his summer transfer to the Philadelphia Union. 547 minutes — not too terribly long, honestly — is all it took the U.S. national team midfielder to bag the first stateside club goal, and it proved more than worth the wait on Saturday.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Goalkeeper Clint Irwin was precisely 3.5 yards off his line as Bedoya dribbled into space down the right side of the penalty area, 20 yards from goal and closing. At 18 yards out, Bedoya went for goal.

The obvious choice is to put your right foot through the ball, and hit it low and inside the far post. Bedoya had something else — something much more audacious and delightful — on his mind.

Take. A. Bow.

La Liga & Serie A: Real Madrid falter; Barcelona score 5 (again) without Messi

GIJON, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 24:  Luis Suarez of FC Barcelona celebrates with his teammate Neymar of FC Barcelona after scoring the opening goal during the La Liga match between Real Sporting de Gijon and FC Barcelona at Estadio El Molinon on September 24, 2016 in Gijon, Spain.  (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images
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A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…

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Las Palmas 2-2 Real Madrid

Real Madrid remain top of La Liga, but their lead was reduce from three points to one on Saturday. Up 2-1 heading into the games final 20 minutes, Zinedine Zidane elected to pull Cristiano Ronaldo off the field in the 72nd minute — much to the Portuguese’s displeasure. Zidane then watched as his side conceded an 85th-minute equalizer and ultimately settled for a draw.

Marco Asensio put Los Blancos ahead in the 33rd minute, but Las Palmas answered through Tana in the 38th minute, making it 1-1 at halftime. Karim Benzema scored what looked to be the winner in the 67th minute, but Sergio Araujo pegged the league leaders back once more with five minutes of regular time remaining.

Sporting Gijon 0-5 Barcelona

No Lionel Messi, no problem for Barcelona, who still have those Luis Suarez and Neymar guys. Without the world’s undisputed best player on Saturday, the dynamic duo combined to score three goals — two more than Barca would need on the day — as the Blaugrana scored five or more goals for the third time in six league games this season.

Rafinha and Arda Turan — decent enough players in their own right — bagged the other goals, and just like that, Barca capitalized on the points dropped by Madrid.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Eibar 2-0 Real Sociedad
Athletic Bilbao 3-1 Sevilla

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Leganes vs. Valencia — 6 a.m. ET
Atletico Madrid vs Deportivo La Coruña — 10:15 a.m. ET
Villarreal vs. Osasuna — 12:30 p.m. ET
Espanyol vs. Celta Vigo — 2:45 p.m. ET


Palermo 0-1 Juventus

Juve won for the fifth time in six games this season, but needed an own goal from Palermo’s Edoardo Goldaniga to do so. The game was scoreless at halftime, before the 22-year-old center back shanked his clearance of Dani Alves’s cross past Josip Posavec and into his own net for the game’s only goal in the 49th minute. That’s 15 points from six games for Juve, who remain top of Serie A by a point.

Napoli 2-0 Chievo

Marek Hamsik and Manolo Gabbiadini scored goals 15 minutes apart in the first half to propel Napoli to their fourth win of the season — to go with a pair of draws — and retain their place as the last remaining unbeaten side in the league. Napoli sit a point back of Juve for the league lead, and four points clear of everyone else alraedy. It’ll be a two-horse race for the title, then.

 

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Torino vs. Roma — 6:30 a.m. ET
Genoa vs. Pescara — 9 a.m. ET
Inter Milan vs. Bologna — 9 a.m. ET
Lazio vs. Empoli — 9 a.m. ET
Sassuolo vs. Udinese — 9 a.m. ET
Fiorentina vs. AC Milan — 2:45 p.m. ET

PL Sunday preview: West Ham, desperate to end skid, host Southampton

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 21:  Dimitri Payet of West Ham United celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the  EFL Cup Third Round match between West Ham United and Accrington Stanley at the London Stadium on September 21, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images
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The 2016-17 Premier League season wasn’t supposed to be like for West Ham United. After moving into their new home, the repurposed Olympic Stadium in London, this year was meant to be about building on top of last season’s seventh-place finish, which saw them in the top-four race until the final days of the campaign.

[ MORE: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Fast forward four months, and Slaven Bilic‘s men have just one win from five games this season and find themselves 18th in the league table heading into Sunday’s clash with Southampton (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com). Home form (one win, one loss) has only been slightly better for the Hammers’ form away from home, where they’re 0-for-3 thus far. Michail Antonio has five goals this season, joint-top in the PL, all of which have been scored via headers.

Early-season fortunes have been only marginally better for Saints, having won five points from their first five games of the season. Manager Claude Puel got his first PL victory last weekend, though, over Swansea City, as his side notched its first clean sheet of the season.

[ MORE: Saturday roundup — Arsenal thrash Chelsea; City, Liverpool win big ]

Following another summer of key departures in the transfer market (Sadio Mane, Victor Wanyama and Graziano Pelle), one can’t help but wonder how many more times the south coast can reload at the top of its squad without a noticeable falling-off, even if for just one season. Through five games, Saints have scored just four goals, including one own goal — Charlie Austin, Nathan Redmond and Jay Rodriguez the scorers. European qualification looks a long way off from 15th place, where they currently stand, and even farther off from Saints’ early-season performances.

INJURIES: West Ham OUT: Andre Ayew (thigh), Andy Carroll (knee), Diafra Sakho (back), Aaron Cresswell (knee) | Southampton OUT: Sofiane Boufal (knee)