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Three things we learned from Arsenal’s FA Cup final win


LONDON — Following Arsenal’s 3-2 win against Hull City on Saturday in the FA Cup final at Wembley, the Gunners came back from 2-0 down to win a record-equaling 11th FA Cup.

The Gunners never seem to do things the easy way and this sensational comeback was certainly one of those occasions.

MORE: Arsenal’s incredible comeback wins FA Cup final vs. Hull, first trophy since ’05

Hull raced into a 2-0 lead inside eight minutes and they battled incredible hard for the entire game as the Gunners fought back in dramatic fashion.

We learned many things from Arsenal’s first trophy win since 2005, here are three.

Arsenal’s slow start, once again, almost cost them

Away at Manchester City. Away at Liverpool. Away at Chelsea. Then again in the FA Cup final. Arsenal’s slow starts were a constant throughout the 2013-14 season. Starting two or three goals behind has put Arsenal in a bad spot in huge PL games this season and they never recovered. Luckily, for them, on Saturday Hull only went 2-0 ahead after seven minutes. Two set pieces launched into the box saw first James Chester flick home and then Curtis Davies reacted quickly as Hull’s aerial bombardment unsettled Arsenal from the start. Steve Bruce and his staff certainly did their homework and it could have been 3-0 after 12 minutes if Alex Bruce’s header wasn’t cleared off the line. Arsenal haven’t been able to handle face-paced attacks from the get-go all season and they must work on their sluggish starts if they are going to add more silverware to the trophy cabinet at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners were lucky to get away with their horrendous start.

Hull’s five-man defense biggest help/hindrance

The Tigers’ defenders defended like, er, well, Tigers… for most of the game but they came unstuck several times in extra time as they tried to overplay at the back. There were simply too many men at the back as Hull’s players got in each others way. Throughout the first 60 minutes they threw themselves in front of challenges, made herculian blocks and were extremely well organized. However when they started to falter, tiredness and the tireless running of Yaya Sanogo off the bench was a recipe for disaster. Hull went 2-0 up after eight minutes and they didn’t know what to do. Barely a threat going forward all game, only Sone Aluko’s effort towards the end of extra time came close to Hull scoring a third. Many call Hull’s five-man defense anti-football but until the 71st minute it looked incredibly likely it would win them the FA Cup. Their biggest strength became their Achilles heel.

Wenger’s extra time gamble pays off

After 105 minutes of keeping Arsenal at bay Hull hardly needed to see Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky both fresh as daises and jumping off the bench in extra time. Within seconds the duo had combined to tear Hull apart and Arsenal almost went 3-2 up with a slaloming one-two into the penalty box. That unsettled the Tigers as Wilshere and Rosicky’s energetic running and clever moves found space for Sanogo to create havoc for the winning goal, where Giroud broke free and Ramsey was left unmarked to play the hero. Wenger’s decision to keep both Wilshere and Rosicky on the bench until the last 15 minutes proved masterful and showed that the Frenchman still has that magic touch, even after nine years without a trophy.

Defoe: Sunderland’s Duncan Watmore reminds me of Gareth Bale

during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Sunderland at Selhurst Park on November 23, 2015 in London, England.
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Duncan Watmore is highly regarded at Sunderland, as the 21-year-old was rewarded with a new four-year contract with the club earlier this week.

While the club has high hopes for the young winger, his teammates are taking notice as well.

[ MORE: Transfer Rumor Roundup ]

Watmore’s teammate Jermain Defoe, a seasoned veteran who knows all about succeeding in the Premier League, praised the 21-year-old’s play, comparing him to one of his former teammates at Tottenham, Gareth Bale.

In a funny way he reminds me of Gareth [Bale]. When he came on the scene at Tottenham, he used to just get the ball and glide.

He’s such a nice boy, I don’t think he’s bothered about signing new contracts and stuff, all he wants to do is play football and do well for the club.

If he can go on to do what Gareth has done then he’ll be fantastic. He’s the future of this club.

That’s quite the comparison, as Watmore has only made six Premier League appearances in his young career. Bale was twice named the Premier League Player of the Year before being sold to Real Madrid for a world record transfer fee in 2013.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

While it’s a bit too soon to be calling Watmore the next Gareth Bale, there’s no denying he could be a huge talent for Sunderland. After coming on as a substitute in the Black Cats’ win over Crystal Palace on Monday, Watmore showed his speed and willingness to run at defenders, something the club is in desperate need of. He made his debut for the England U21 side this fall, which shows his form has impressed many outside of just the North East.

After starting his career in the Manchester United youth setup, Watmore was released and played with non-league side Altrincham before signing with Sunderland in 2013. He scored 11 goals in 18 appearances last year with the U21 side, being named the Under 21 Premier League Player of the Season.

Five Premier League players make UEFA Team of the Year shortlist

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 03:  Kevin de Bruyne of Manchester City celebrates scoring his team's fourth goal with his team mate Sergio Aguero (L) during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at Etihad Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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UEFA has released the 40-man shortlist for the 2015 Team of the Year, with five Premier League players making the cut.

[ MORE: Champions League roundup ]

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard is on the list after being named the Premier League Player of the Year last season, as is Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez.

Manchester City accounts for the other three players, as Joe Hart, Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne have been selected. However, De Bruyne makes the list mainly based off his play for Wolfsburg last season.

Three teams have more players selected than the entire Premier League combined. Barcelona leads the list with eight players, while Bayern Munich and Juventus each have six.

[ MORE: FIFA Ethics Committee seeks lifetime ban for Sepp Blatter ]

Cristiano Ronaldo already has the most appearances on the final list with nine, and is looking to make his ninth consecutive Team of the Year. No other player has been selected more than six times since the beginning of the award, which was started in 2001.

Below is the complete 40-man shortlist.

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Denys Boyko (Dnipro).

Defenders: Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), David Alaba (Bayern Munich), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), David Luiz (Paris St-Germain), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Thiago Silva (Paris St-Germain), Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid).

Midfielders: Grzegorz Krychowiak (Sevilla), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Marco Verratti (Paris St-Germain), Yevhen Konoplyanka (Sevilla), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), James Rodriguez (Real Madrid), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Hakan Calhanoglu (Bayer Leverkusen).

Forwards: Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris St-Germain), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Neymar (Barcelona), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Alvaro Morata (Juventus), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Luis Suarez (Barcelona), Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid).

New York Red Bulls’ Jesse Marsch voted MLS Coach of the Year

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NEW YORK (AP) — The Red Bulls’ Jesse Marsch has been voted Major League Soccer’s Coach of the Year, the first to earn the honor in the two-decade history of the New York team.

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The Red Bulls went a league-best 18-10-6 in Marsch’s first season after replacing Mike Petke, winning 14 of their last 20 games with one tie. They trail Columbus 2-0 going into Sunday’s second leg of their Eastern Conference final.

MLS said Tuesday that from combined team, media and player votes, Marsch received a weighted total of 152 out of a possible 300.

Dallas’ Oscar Pareja was second with 91 and Vancouver’s Carl Robinson third with 24.

How can Chelsea qualify for last 16 of Champions League?

HAIFA, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 24: Willian of Chelsea celebrates scoring his teams second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group G match between Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC and Chelsea FC at Sammy Ofer Stadium on November 24, 2015 in Haifa, Israel.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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With one match left in UEFA Champions League group play, Chelsea control their own destiny.

After beating Maccabi Tel-Aviv 4-0, the Blues sit tied with FC Porto on ten points at the top of Group G.

[ MORE: Champions League standings

However, with Dynamo Kyiv earning a big win over Porto on Tuesday, Chelsea must wait until the final matchday to qualify for the knockout round, as there is a possibility of a three-way tie for the top spot in Group G.

With Chelsea hosting Porto on December 9, here are the scenarios for Jose Mourinho’s men to assure advancement.

  • A win over Porto will clinch Chelsea the top spot and a place in the last 16.
  • A draw against Porto will see Chelsea advance.
    • Chelsea draw/Dynamo win: Chelsea win group, Dynamo finish second
    • Chelsea draw/Dynamo draw or loss: Porto win group, Chelsea finish second
  • A loss to Porto and a Dynamo Kyiv draw/loss to Maccabi Tel-Aviv will see Chelsea finish second in the group and advance to the last 16.
  • The Blues have secured at least a berth in the Europa League, regardless of the result in their final match.

Simply put, get a point at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea advance.