Newcastle 0-2 Manchester City: Defending champs earn season’s first win by holding off Toon (video)

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Newcastle United sent six debutants onto the pitch at St. James Park, but it wasn’t enough to knock down the defending Premier League champions as Manchester City escaped with three points.

It wasn’t pretty for either side, but David Silva took advantage of some poor defending in the first half to put the visitors ahead, and Sergio Aguero put things away late for a wire-to-wire victory that at times proved nervy.

The first chance fell to Samir Nasri in the 12th minute, as a quick and powerful counter fell to the French winger. He wasn’t planning on shooting, but the ball bounced so perfectly in front of him he decided to blast a shot and forced a diving parry from Tim Krul.

Otherwise, there was little to report out of the first half-hour, with both teams proving incredibly wasteful.

Finally, after 37 minutes, we had our first moment of quality, with Manchester City earning their first goal thanks to some beautiful passing and shambolic defending by Newcastle.

Yaya Toure ripped a long ball up for Edin Dzeko in the corner of the box, and he settled well before flicking a pinpoint back-heel to a streaking David Silva, who snuck behind new Toon signing Daryl Janmaat much too easily to the near post. Silva finished cooly past Krul and Manchester City had their lead.

source: AP
David Silva’s goal proved the difference despite Newcastle’s threatening moments.

Dzeko’s back-heel was outstanding, but the two Newcastle defenders surrounding him were hardly looking to prevent him feeding an opponent, likely hoping the other would do the job.

Despite the relative lack in quality of the first half, it was fun to watch the partnership between Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic, who linked up well up front.  In addition, new Newcastle signing Remy Cabella showed some individual skill for the home side, despite an unfortunate hairstyle.

Newcastle surprisingly came to life following the break, with some shaky defending giving them some opportunity in the box, and the chances lit up the stadium.  Michael Williamson nearly picked out a free-kick with his head, placing it just over the bar on 58 minutes after Joe Hart unwisely came out to try and collect in traffic.

With the home side still pressing with a half-hour remaining, Alan Pardew threw on Gabriel Obertan, one who impressed in preseason, causing his manager to speak publicly of his second chance at St. James Park.

On ten minutes remaining, Newcastle began to throw everything forward and pressure the City defense hard. Substitute Ayoze Perez rifled a dangerous shot on a breakaway in but it was deflected just a whisker wide. Then Rolando Aarons came close a minute later.

The best chance yet came from Moussa Sissoko early in the four minutes of added time, having received a cut-back from Cabella, but the Frenchman blasted it over the bar.

Then Manchester City put things away, with substitute Sergio Aguero bursting down the left with Fabricio Coloccini. He cracked off a shot from a tight angle which Krul saved, but it came right back to Aguero and he nestled it into the far corner for a 2-0 lead and all three points.

LINEUPS

Newcastle: Krul; Janmaat, Williamson, Coloccini, Dummett; Anita (Obertan 63′), Colback; Sissoko, Cabella, Gouffran (Aarons 74′); Riviere (Perez 83′).

Manchester City: Hart; Clichy, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov; Fernando, Toure, Nasri (Milner 78′), Silva, Jovetic (Fernandinho 72′); Dzeko (Aguero 83′).

Goals: Silva 38′, Aguero 90+2′

Errors down, penalty kicks up after introduction of VAR in Italy

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The implementation of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in Italy has been controversial, but according to a look at the statistics, it has for the most part done its job to fix clear and obvious errors.

Italian sports paper Gazzetta Dello Sport compiled all the times VAR has been used through 346 matches, 330 in Serie A and 16 in the Coppa Italia. There were 1,736 checks (916 goals, 464 penalties and 356 red cards) with 105 corrections and just 17 errors where the referee and assistant made the wrong decision. Eight of those errors did affect the result, which is an issue that will surely be addressed by the Italian officiating organization.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

But overall, Gazzetta found that in the VAR era, referee errors only amounted to 0.98 percent during a match, as opposed to 6.03 percent in the past. In addition, fouls are down 8.8 percent, red cards are down 6.4 percent, and yellow cards are down 14.7 percent. On the flip side, penalty kicks are called 4.3 more percent of the time.

The Premier League voted recently not to add VAR to its league matches next season, while top leagues in Germany, Italy and in Major League Soccer and the United Soccer League continue to use it.

Report: New Arsenal manager will have small budget to re-shape squad

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Whoever takes the helm as Arsenal’s next manager will have to do some math gymnastics this summer to stretch every penny available.

According to a report from The Telegraph, Arsenal is giving Arsene Wenger‘s successor a little less than $70 million to work with in this summer’s transfer market, citing back-to-back transfer windows with club-record signings (Alexandre Lacazette last summer and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January) and three raises given to players. Arsenal paid around $78 million alone to sign Aubameyang and around $65 million for Lacazette.

[READ: UCL Preview: Liverpool vs. Roma]

That means whoever comes in next to lead Arsenal will likely have to sell one or two players this summer to raise additional money for world-class signings.

For the last decade, Arsenal has been crying out for a new pair of centerbacks and a holding midfielder in the mould of Patrick Vieira. In addition, with Petr Cech getting older, the prospect of needing a new goalkeeper is also on the horizon.

Luckily for Arsenal, they seem to be just fine up front. From Aubameyang and Lacazette to Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey, the club has the talent to challenge for a title next season in that department.

A dozen different names have been bandied about as to who will be Arsenal’s next manager, with out-of-contract and former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique reportedly on the shortlist. Vieira, former Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta, Germany National Team coach Joachim Low, Juventus boss Max Allegri and Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsman have all also been linked with the job.

Tunisian player who collapsed in Spain regains consciousness

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MADRID (AP) Spanish third-division club Toledo says a Tunisian player who collapsed from heart failure during practice 10 days ago has regained consciousness.

The club says doctors removed sedative medication and Lassad Nouioui was responding well to treatment on Monday.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

They will consider removing the 32-year-old Nouioui from the intensive care unit if his condition keeps improving. Nouioui has played for a number of clubs during his 14-year professional career, notably a four-year stay at Deportivo La Coruna and a one-year spell with Celtic.

Nouioui collapsed on April 14.

The game against Real Madrid B the following day was postponed because of the problem with Nouioui.

FIFA force pace on $25B Club World Cup, global league plan

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GENEVA (AP) FIFA is forcing the pace on talks over a $25 billion offer to revamp the Club World Cup and create a global national team competition.

FIFA says President Gianni Infantino hosted a meeting last Friday with invited officials from some top European clubs.

[ MORE: Everton gets past Newcastle behind Walcott strike ]

The European Club Association has strongly opposed FIFA’s hope for a four-yearly club tournament starting in 2021, which could rival the UEFA-organized Champions League.

UEFA has also proposed a Global Nations League. A similar project is tied to the FIFA-controlled $25 billion, 12-year offer from a consortium including investors from Saudi Arabia and China.

FIFA says it’s holding “informal ongoing discussions with different stakeholders on the topic of the future Club World Cups.”

Infantino is set to meet confederation presidents and general secretaries “in the near future,” FIFA says.