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Premier League on tour, Saturday roundup: Arsenal only club to fall

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One of the day’s most anticipated games saw Arsenal kept off the scoresheet, but with Thierry Henry facing his former team (and Gedion Zelalem starting for the Gunners), the final score was always going to be secondary in Harrison, N.J. Starting with a tribute to the team’s biggest star (right) and ending with victory for the home side, Arsenal’s visit to Red Bull Arena was the Premier League’s only Saturday loss on U.S. soil.

Aston Villa, Tottenham, and Manchester United were also in action on Saturday. Here’s how their friendlies, as well as Arsenal’s, turned out:

New York Red Bulls 1-0 Arsenal

There’s just something about the Red Bulls that Arsenal can’t figure out. New York won the Emirates Club in North London three years ago, and today, in the face of the Gunners’ chance at redemption, the Supporters’ Shield winners defended a 32nd minute goal from Bradley Wright-Phillips, remaining undefeated (albeit in two, meaningless games) against Henry’s former club.

Houston Dynamo 0-1 Aston Villa

An even game with few chances tilted the visitors’ way in the 41st minute, with Joe Bennett’s header from an Andreas Weimann cross beating Tyler Deric for the game’s only goal. (For Villa and Dynamo fans that missed it, the entire match can be seen on YouTube.)

Chicago Fire 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur

From CSNChicago.com:

Harry Kane’s fifth minute goal put Barclays Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur ahead for good in a 2-0 friendly victory over the Chicago Fire played in front of 17,156 at Toyota Park Saturday night.

Kane — who threw out the first pitch at Wrigley Field prior to Thursday’s Cubs-Padres game — capitalized when Fire center back Jeff Larentowicz failed to control a ball just outside the penalty area, turning over possession to Spurs midfielder Lewis Holtby. Holtby deftly flicked the ball over to Kane, who easily beat Sean Johnson to the near post for the goal.

Aaron Lennon added a second six minutes from time.

Manchester United 3-2 Roma

Opening Champions Cup play, the Red Devils got two goals from Wayne Rooney, with their star forward’s “unbelievable” assist (according to Louis van Gaal) setting up another before halftime. A goal from near the center line via Miralem Pjanic saw Roma break through in the second, with Francesco Totti’s late penalty conversation salvaging a respectable score.

[ MORE: Despite win,  Van Gaal disappointed with performance ]

AT THE HALF: Manchester derby scoreless after 45 minutes

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After 45 minutes, the final Manchester derby of the 2016-17 Premier League season — the one that’ll go a long, long way toward deciding which of the city’s sides will finish in the top-four — is scoreless, but not without incident.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

The game’s best chances thus far fell Manchester City’s way, as Sergio Aguero missed a clear-cut chance after 10 minutes — Kevin De Bruyne whipped in the perfect ball to the back post, and Aguero put it wrong side of David De Gea‘s post.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Ander Herrera has, once again, be Manchester United’s danger man, combining well with Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but Claudio Bravo made the one save he was forced into during the first half. One thing to keep an eye on during the final 45 minutes: Rashford picked up a knock very early on, and struggled to move around the field after that.

STREAM LIVE: The Manchester Derby

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The third Manchester Derby of the season is the first away from Old Trafford, as Manchester United visits Manchester City (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.

There’s much on the line, as the sides sit just two points apart in the race for the Top Four. Man City would leapfrog third-place Liverpool with a win, while United could join the Reds on 66 points with a match-in-hand.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Sergio Aguero starts for Man City, with Gabriel Jesus on the bench.

On the other side, it’ll be a physical middle-third guarded by Ander Herrera, Michael Carrick, and Marouane Fellaini. Wayne Rooney and Jesse Lingard start on the bench.

LINEUPS

Manchester City: Bravo, Zabaleta, Kompany (C), Otamendi, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Sterling, De Bruyne, Sane, Aguero. Subs: Caballero, Sagna, Fernando, Navas, Clichy, Gabriel Jesus, A. Garcia

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Darmian; Herrera, Carrick, Fellaini, Mkhitaryan; Rashford, Martial. Subs: Romero, Shaw, Fosu-Mensah, Tuanzebe, Young, Lingard, Rooney.

Ex-Liverpool CEO shares biting story of Suarez transfer

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Ian Ayre’s got jokes.

The former Liverpool CEO lifted the lid on some transfer stories during a Merseyside lecture this week.

Of note, Ayre admitted that the club thought Dele Alli demanded too much given what he had produced when the Reds has the chance to sign him as a 16-year-old, and said that Liverpool could’ve landed Alexis Sanchez but the player wanted to live in London (“We couldn’t move the football club to London, unfortunately,” he quipped).

The best part relayed by Sky Sports had to do with Luis Suarez, and shows the relentless nature of the transfer market. Clearly Barcelona had interest in Suarez before the fiery striker bit Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup, because, well…

“I remember the sporting director of Barcelona calling me during that game, immediately as Suarez bit the player, and he said to me ‘my friend, he’s bitten somebody, how can this be the price?’ I said ‘he’d already bitten somebody when you first bid!'”

We’re sure there’s a certain amount of storytelling in there, but undoubtedly some truth.

Given Barca paid a reported $84 million for the striker, the asking price couldn’t have started that much higher.

Men in Blazers podcast: Chelsea tops Spurs, Top Four predictions

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Rog and Davo return to discuss Chelsea’s FA Cup semifinal victory over Spurs, update their Top Four predictions (again), and dive into the depths of the relegation zone. Plus, the very important movement to change “Hudson Street” to “Ray Hudson Street.”

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