Arsenal 3-0 Newcastle United: Magical Mesut mauls miserable Magpies

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Goals from Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud led Arsenal to a 3-0 trouncing of visiting Newcastle as the hosts look to boost their UEFA Champions League standing at the expense of the moribund Magpies.

Arsenal’s UCL fortunes are good as its fourth-place lead over Everton is up to four points.

Newcastle has lost six-straight matches for the first time in its Premier League existence. The Magpies remain in 9th place, two points ahead of Stoke and three ahead of Crystal Palace.

In other words, Alan Pardew’s return to the touchline upon completion of his suspension for headbutting David Meyler meant very little. They may be the worst team in the Premier League right now.

Unsurprisingly, the Gunners were often the better side, led by Ozil. The German was denied by a sliding Fabricio Coloccini about a quarter-hour into the match.

Newcastle’s best chance came about 20 minutes in, but Moussa Sissoko was quickly surrounded by red jerseys and his room to shoot was hampered as he pushed one high and wide.

Arsenal struck first, with a set piece goal punctuated by Koscielny punting the ball into the stands. Tim Krul would’ve been all over the stop earlier this year, and it’s never felt more like he’s already on a “bigger” club.

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In this image, Pardew may or may not be blaming the Emirates Stadium oxygen for his team’s loss.

The Gunners had five corners by the 30th minute, and Krul was fantastic to parry a firm-headed shot. It’s like he was reading this before it was posted.

There was hope for Newcastle, as Loic Remy forced Wojciech Szczesny into a save on a free kick and Cheick Tiote doubled down with a long-ranger curler in the 33rd minute.

The keeper was wise, and the score remained 1-0 to the home side.

Maybe the goal woke the home side, as Mathieu Debuchy lashed a shot that troubled the Szczesny before failing to arrive on goal.

Embarrassing Newcastle defending allowed Arsenal to double its advantage as the clock turned to 41. Krul stopped Giroud twice point-blank on a breakaway before Ozil tapped home a rebound while the Magpies defenders watched.

Arsenal possessed the ball well for the first 12 minutes of the second half, but Newcastle found a chance when Yoan Gouffran was sprung on goal. Szczesny made the save, though, as Gouffran popped the ball at the keeper’s chest.

Giroud made it 3-0 in the 66th minute, as Ozil continued his wizardy with a whipped-in cross from the left that the Frenchman had no problem heading home (to Arsene Wenger’s delight).

LINEUPS

Arsenal: Szczesny; Monreal, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Sagna; Arteta, Ramsey (Rosicky, 74′); Podolski, Ozil (Flamini, 74′), Cazorla; Giroud (Sanogo, 84′)

Goals: Koscielny (26), Ozil (42), Giroud (66)

Newcastle: Krul; Dummett, Coloccini, Williamson, Debuchy (Yanga-Mbiwa, 84′); Gouffran (Armstrong, 89′), Tiote, Gosling (Shola Ameobi, 70′), Anita; Sissoko; Remy

Landon Donovan unveiled by Club Leon

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Landon Donovan was unveiled to Club Leon fans at Estadio Leon on Monday night.

The former USMNT star and longtime LA Galaxy forward came out of retirement for the second time to sign with the Liga MX side this past weekend. Leon finished 7th in the Apertura table, losing to Tigres in the first round of the playoffs. They currently have a perfect six points through the first two Clausura matches, sitting second in the table with a +3 goal differential.

Fans were allowed into the stadium for free, and they packed the lower stand on one end, waving USA flags and holding large “L” and “D” cutouts, and the fans faced a massive board on the field that read “I DON’T BELIEVE IN WALLS.” Chants of “U-S-A” rang out through the stadium before the unveiling.

ESPN reporter Tom Marshall pointed out that the last time the club had such a large event to welcome a player, it was in January of 2013 when the club brought Mexico captain Rafa Marquez in from the New York Red Bulls.

Donovan will don the number 20 for Club Leon.

Report: Rimando to return to RSL

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USMNT veteran and current MLS free agent Nick Rimando will reportedly return to Real Salt Lake for a 12th season with the club, according to a report by Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep.

The report states he received interest on the free agent market from both Los Angeles clubs, but the 38-year-old will return to the club he has made 350 appearances for.

Rimando came to Real Salt Lake from D.C. United in 2006, and has made at least 24 league appearances in every single season since. He has also made 22 playoff appearances for the club across eight playoff campaigns.

He last received a USMNT cap in January of 2017 in a friendly against Serbia, but was part of the 2018 World Cup qualification squad throughout 2017 backing up Tim Howard. Overall, Rimando has played 22 times for the US national team, with 14 goals conceded and nine clean sheets.

The report also states that Kyle Beckerman will return to Rio Tinto Stadium, with the veteran also testing the free agent waters but deciding to re-sign. The pair will be two of just four players left on the roster from the 2009 MLS Cup winning team.

Report: Aubameyang hands in transfer request at Dortmund

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According to German publication Bild, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has handed a transfer request to the Borussia Dortmund hierarchy.

Arsenal is the latest club linked with the Gabonese striker, with reports earlier this month of a deal to send Aubameyang to China. He has reportedly asked to leave Dortmund multiple times this January, and has been turned down thus far, and it’s causing problems. Aubameyang was suspended by the club for one match for missing a meeting last week, a match that ended in a goalless draw with Wolfsburg.

[ MORE: Man United, Chelsea battle for Alexis Sanchez ]

“We had a very heated discussion,” said Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc after the suspension was announced. “He hasn’t behaved like this for years, he’s always been very professional. What has happened is very tolerable, there will be some fines, too. It’s not necessary to talk about a transfer, but it’s clear that things can’t continue like this because some important things are in jeopardy, and that there is tension inside the squad.”

The price tag, according to recent reports, would be around $76 million, and he would be purchased with money from the likely outgoing transfer of Alexis Sanchez.

Arsenal transfer guru Sven Mislintat is reportedly driving the deal, having signed Aubameyang at Dortmund during his days as a scout from Westfalinstadion. However, there is buzz among the British media that Arsene Wenger is unimpressed by Aubameyang’s recent insubordination and has expressed his concerns.

Emre Can says new Liverpool contract still a possibility

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Liverpool midfielder Emre Can is out of contract this summer, but says he could still sign back on at Anfield despite heavy rumors of his departure.

Still just 24 years old, the German came over from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2014 and has improved in each of his four years at Liverpool, flourishing under Jurgen Klopp as a strong passer and versatile player who can be used in midfield or defense. With that, he has reportedly turned down a number of new contract offers, and Juventus is reportedly in the lead to sign him to a free transfer.

[ MORE: Arsenal should follow Liverpool’s rebuilding example ]

Can is eligible to sign a pre-contract agreement with anyone from now until the end of the season, but he says that doesn’t mean he will leave.

“My agent is looking after everything but I am here until the summer,” Can said. “I haven’t signed anything with anyone. I am talking with everyone. Of course I am talking with Liverpool. Why not? I still have a contract here. It is an amazing club. What can I say? My agent does the rest. I just concentrate on the scene, on my performance and the football. I will give everything for this team.”

The loss of Philippe Coutinho this winter is an obvious blow to the Reds, but an argument could be made that the loss of Can would hurt just as much if not more, as stout defensive midfielders are hard to come by. However, the arrival of Naby Kieta this summer could ease the blow of the German’s potential departure. Should Can stay, partnering with Keita in midfield could prove masterful as Liverpool looks to continue building towards a title challenge. Currently, Can has paired with Giorgino Wijnaldum in Liverpool’s midfield in recent weeks, and the club is on a five-match win streak that has seen them shoot into third place in the Premier League table.