Manchester City 2-1 Swansea City: Jesus rises to save City on Sunday

Leave a comment

Manchester City dominated possession, pummeling Swansea in the opening 45 minutes, but only managed one early goal and gave it away as Gylfi Sigurdsson drew level with 10 minutes to go. It appeared City had squandered another three points, but there was Gabriel Jesus to win it in added time.

The first half was all Manchester City. Jesus, starting in place of Sergio Aguero for the second straight match, had the game’s best early chance as he possessed the ball on the penalty spot in the eighth minute, but was unable to get a shot off under heavy pressure from Federico Fernandez.

He would make up for the early slip-up by atoning just moments later with the opening goal. David Silva slipped his way into the box along the end line and delivered a ball into the front of net. The ball bounced off the feet of Raheem Sterling as he was bundled over, but Jesus pounced to pummel the ball assuredly past Lukasz Fabianski for the 11th minute strike.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

City continued to pound the Swansea area, and Yaya Toure forced an athletic save from Fabianski in the 21st minute with a powerful free-kick destined for the top-left corner before the Swansea goalkeeper lept high to punch it away. Sterling nearly fed Jesus a second on 26 minutes, but as the Brazilian came barreling in to meet the low cross, he couldn’t get a touch again marked by Fernandez.

There was a controversial moment just before halftime as Sterling burst into the box and was challenged by Fabianski who came off his line to dispossess Sterling. The English international went to ground, and was booked by referee Mike Dean for diving, but replays clearly showed Fabianski catching Sterling’s leg. While it may not have been enough to award City a penalty, it was certainly enough to rule out a dive.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings

In the second half, Swansea saw more of the ball in the opening moments, with Sigurdsson nearly bringing the visitors shockingly level with an exquisite free-kick, but Willy Caballero was there to produce a top save similar to Fabianski’s on Toure in the first half. Moments later, Leroy Sane almost scored a stunner, striking the post with a shot from an impossibly tight angle, with Fabianski’s face showing surprise at a shot produced from that position as opposed to a cross.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The Swans were unable to capitalize on their bright spell, and the game snoozed to a crawl as the hosts possessed the lion’s share of the ball yet again, looking to see the game out. That left Swansea to snag the initiative again, and they took advantage. Sigurdsson grabbed the ball above the top of the box, and surprised everyone by shooting low to the right corner. His shot seemed to catch Caballero off guard as well, as the Manchester City goalkeeper dove late, unable to stop the equalizer with 10 minutes remaining.

That forced Guardiola to bring on Sergio Aguero, and City pushed hard for a late winner, but they were uninspiring and unable to find a way through Swansea’s packed midfield until the winning moment two minutes into injury time. David Sliva delivered a perfect ball into the box, and Jesus rose high to head the chance. The initial effort was saved by Fabianski, but the ball trickled free and Jesus was there to pounce on the winning goal.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score

The win sees Manchester City above both Arsenal and Liverpool into third with the Gunners and Reds both falling on Saturday. Swansea remains above the relegation zone despite the loss, but their margin of error is slimmed thanks to Hull City and Sunderland both winning below them.

Arsenal sends Gabriel Paulista to Valencia

Getty Images
1 Comment

Arsenal has a thin defense, but that hasn’t stopped Arsene Wenger from thinning the squad even further.

Gabriel Paulista is headed back to the Spanish top flight after the completion of his transfer to Valencia. The Brazilian was sold for a reported $12.8 million, just below the $14 million price tag Arsenal coughed up to Villareal back in January, 2015. He will partner with Manchester City loanee Eliaquim Mangala at Valencia.

The 26-year-old made 64 appearances for the Gunners across all competitions, including 46 in the Premier League. His only goal for the club was Arsenal’s first of a 2-0 win over Bournemouth in December, 2015. His high-water mark with the club was a 120-minute performance against Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinals where Arsenal came back to win 2-1 on an Alexis Sanchez goal in extra time.

“We would like to thank Gabriel for his contribution to the club and to wish him well for his return to La Liga with Valencia,” Arsenal said in its confirmation of the deal.

Paulista was utilized more than expected last season thanks to an injury crisis at the back, and still the Arsenal squad doesn’t seem fat enough to offload defenders, but Gabriel’s over-aggressive nature and tackling inaccuracy led him to an early exit.

With Arsene Wenger now deploying a back-three, the only natural central defenders currently on the roster are Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Shkodran Mustafi, and Rob Holding. Koscielny is suspended from a red card at the end of last season, and Mertesacker is battling a head injury. Sead Kolasinac, Nacho Monreal, and Calum Chambers have played CB for the Gunners in the recent past, but it is not their natural position.

Fabian Johnson misses Gladbach training with injury

Getty Images
Leave a comment

With John Brooks already out long-term due to a thigh injury, the United States may have another key injury to work around.

According to Borussia Monchengladbach manager Dieter Hecking, full-back/winger Fabian Johnson missed training on Friday due to an unspecified injury, and is now a question mark for Gladbach’s home match on Sunday against FC Koln. It could be nothing, but even the scare is cause for concern among U.S. fans.

Johnson has battled a few injuries the past couple of seasons, including a hamstring problem last spring that kept him out for nearly two months, including a pair of World Cup qualifiers in March.

Johnson’s absence would leave a hole at right-back for the United States. The 29-year-old has been deployed some at right wing for the USMNT, but he has been relatively poor at that position in the national setup, looking better when pushed further back where he is given more defensive duties, roaming forward with less frequency but more intent.

In place of Johnson, another converted winger in Graham Zusi has been seeing more time at right-back, but he offers less in the attack and lacks Johnson’s recovery speed, meaning mistakes by the Sporting KC veteran are punished more often.

Falcao scores again to extend red hot start

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Monaco is hoping to ride out the final two weeks of the transfer window with 18-year-old wonderkid Kylian Mbappe still in tow.

While they wait, they aren’t missing a beat.

With Mbappe out of the squad, Radamel Falcao has begun the 2017/18 Ligue 1 season as Europe’s hottest goalscorer. He bagged a hat-trick last weekend with Mbappe on the bench to give him four goals in the first two league matches. Then, with Mbappe out of the squad entirely, Falcao netted the winner in a 1-0 road win over FC Metz.

Falcao has scored five goals so far this year, and his club has a +5 goal differential. In a way, Falcao has already been worth six points thus far.

Thanks in part to Ligue 1’s early start, Falcao’s five league goals are by far more than anyone else in the major European leagues. Four players have scored a pair of Premier League goals, nobody in La Liga or the Bundesliga have scored more than one, and the Serie A season has yet to start.

The Colombian did the same thing last season. After eventually coming off the shelf from to hamstring and concussion problems to start the season, Falcao scored 10 goals in 10 Ligue 1 matches leading up to the new calendar year.

At 31 years old, Falcao isn’t a long-term solution and the club will clearly look to retain Mbappe despite Falcao’s hot start, but should they lose the young Frenchman, the club will be in good hands while they search for a replacement over the next year.

Arena should give Ream a look in Brooks’ absence

FulhamFC.com
Leave a comment

With John Brooks out three months thanks to a horribly timed thigh injury, the United States yet again has to scramble to fill a void at the back. It’s not the first time an injury to Brooks has left the USMNT scrambling for cover at a thin position.

In the successful Gold Cup this past summer, with a largely domestic squad in place, Omar Gonzalez saw the bulk of the time at central defender, with Matt Besler his partner through the final two matches. However, with European-based players now in contention for spots with the early September international break, those two are unlikely to continue, at least not together.

[ MORE: Liverpool holds all the cards in Coutinho transfer ]

The most obvious choice to start September 1st against Costa Rica and likely shoo-in should he remain healthy for the next two weeks is Geoff Cameron. The 32-year-old has been back and forth between defense and midfield with club and country, and although he has publicly acknowledged his preference for a spot higher up the pitch, he was used in a back-three in Stoke City’s Premier League opener last weekend and is steadiest at the back.

But with a spot next to Cameron up for grabs in Brooks’ absence, a player who should get serious consideration is United States fill-in extraordinaire Tim Ream.

Ream has had to work hard to earn his place with the U.S., and while he’s seen time of late, he’s not been a first-choice pick. The 29-year-old has four caps so far in 2017, with two of those starts, including one in the impressive 1-1 draw against Mexico at the Azteca with the US still clawing its way back up the Hex standings. Even then, Ream would likely not have earned that spot had Arena not chosen to rotate nearly the entire squad between the pair of qualifiers in that window. His other start this year, the 1-1 draw at Panama, only came after Cameron pulled out of the squad the day of the game with a late injury. The last time Ream started back-to-back matches for the U.S. came back in 2015 when he was somewhat of a regular through the second half of the calendar year.

[ MORE: LA Galaxy send Van Damme back to Belgium ]

But now, with Brooks out, Ream looks like the perfect man to fill in again. The 29-year-old defender finished last season in top form as Fulham narrowly missed out on promotion, earning the official website’s Man of the Match award in a May 2nd draw with Brentford, and won it again in the club’s final match of the season.

Without missing a beat, Ream has picked up where he left off last campaign in the first few matches this month. Last weekend against Reading at the Madjeski Stadium, Ream’s center-back partner Tomas Kalas was sent off 36 seconds into the match, forcing Fulham to play a man down for 89 minutes. Ream and company solidified the back, conceding just once in the 61st minute en route to a 1-1 draw.

The club still likely requires reinforcements at the CB position – Ream was forced to partner with right-back Denis Odoi against Reading with Kalas suspended and Michael Madl injured – meaning Ream could see an influx of competition in the coming weeks. However, as it stands, the American is far and away the best (and most improved) central defender on a club favored for promotion.

Gonzalez performed well in the Gold Cup, and Matt Besler was serviceable, but with few other options in the heart of defense to take Brooks’ place, Bruce Arena could yet again look to Ream for an in-form replacement.