Story so far… The Gunners were set to make a charge for the title, and many Arsenal fans were claiming destiny well into February, as Arsene Wenger’s club posted big wins over Spurs and Liverpool (let alone Napoli, Dortmund and Marseille in the UEFA Champions League).
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That month turned into a bit of a bad dream, for Gooners everywhere, as Arsenal was thumped by Liverpool 5-1 and lost in the first leg of its UCL tie with Bayern Munich. By late March it was a full-blown nightmare, with 6-0 and 3-0 losses to Chelsea and Everton sandwiched around draws against Manchester City and Swansea City. Now settled into fourth place, Arsenal must look to the summer… but first they have the small matter of picking up their first trophy in nine years as they face Hull City in the FA Cup final.
Who do they play and where can I watch it: Arsenal heads to Carrow Road to face a Norwich City club that will need a miracle of the historical and highest-scoring order to stay in the Premier League. Watch the game at 10am ET on MSNBC or live online via NBC Sports Live Extra.
Form guide: Arsenal beat Norwich 4-1 at the Emirates in October, and the Gunners have won four straight since losing to Everton in early April.
March 29 – vs. Manchester City, D 1-1
April 6 – at Everton, L 0-3
April 15 – vs. West Ham United, W 3-1
April 20 – at Hull City, W 3-0
April 28 – vs. Newcastle United, W 3-0
May 4 – vs. West Bromwich Albion, W 1-0
What’s at stake: Arsenal will finish in fourth-place unless Chelsea loses at Cardiff City and erases 18 goals worth of differential. So, fourth-place.
When the final whistle blows: Arsenal is already turning its attention to next year, as Wenger says he’ll be back. Will he break the bank for Edinson Cavani from PSG in an attempt to erase the gloom of nearly choking away Champions League qualification?
PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.
Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.
Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.
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No financial details were given.
The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.
Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.
Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.
The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.
[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]
Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.
He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.
MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) from a friendly game against former club Everton last year.
That represents the profits, after operational costs, from August’s sellout match at Old Trafford and goes toward the Wayne Rooney Foundation’s target of raising 5 million pounds for children’s charities.
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Rooney said: “I’d like to thank all the fans who came to the testimonial and made it such a special night. They’ve raised a huge amount of money for children who are disadvantaged and it will make a real difference to their lives.”
Rooney is one goal from breaking Manchester United’s scoring record, with the striker currently tied with Bobby Charlton on 249 goals.
Rooney joined United from Everton in 2004.
Robert Lewandowski picked up where he left off.
The Polish striker scored twice for Bayern Munich, once in stoppage time, as the Bavarians improved their Bundesliga lead to six points after toppling Freiburg 2-1 on Friday.
[ MORE: Bundesliga second half preview ]
And what a winner it was, Lewandowski taking a Douglas Costa cross with two juggling touches before hitting an offspeed bouncer inside the post.
It was the league’s first match following the winter/holiday break, giving Bayern a cushion before RB Leipzig takes the pitch against Eintracht Frankfurt in a Top Five tilt on Saturday.
Lewandowski moves closer to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the goal scoring chart. His 13th and 14th goals have him two back of Borussia Dortmund’s striker, as Lewandowski pursues a third Golden Boot in four seasons.
Full Weekend Schedule
Freiburg 1-2 Bayern Munich — Friday
Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim — Saturday
Schalke vs. Ingolstadt — Saturday
Darmstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — Saturday
Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday
Wolfsburg vs. Hamburger SV — Saturday
RB Leipzig vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — Saturday
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin — Sunday
Mainz vs. Koln — Sunday