Arsenal 2-0 Manchester United: Wenger tops Mourinho

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  • Xhaka’s deflected strike hit 57 mins in
  • Welbeck headed in a second 3 minutes later
  • Arsenal stays alive for top 4

Thanks to goals from Granit Xhaka and Danny Welbeck, Arsene Wenger has beaten Jose Mourinho for the first time ever in Premier League play, a 2-0 result that keeps Arsenal’s faint hopes for a Champions League place alive and puts Manchester United in a weaker position in that same race.

United had the first big chance of the game as Wayne Rooney fed through Anthony Martial, but the Frenchman’s effort was stymied at close range by Petr Cech. The Gunners went down the other end minutes later, and Aaron Ramsey forced a save from David De Gea.

The proceedings went back and forth as neither side gained full control. Rooney had a header just wide off a corner, while Ramsey’s 30th minute pull-back was blocked with a pair of Gunners waiting. Ramsey and Ozil were both wide open on the end of an Alexis Sanchez far-post cross, but it was just out of reach with the goal gaping.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Rooney had the game’s biggest chance down the other end after picking out Rob Holding‘s back-pass, but he was smothered by Cech with no one else back.

With the score untouched at halftime, the game seemed to take a dip after the break as both teams looked to have hit the reset button. Then, out of nowhere, the Gunners led. Xhaka took aim from a huge distance out, and a massive stroke of fortune came his way as the shot struck the back of Ander Herrera and looped perfectly into the top corner.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

The game sprung to life after the goal, and the Gunners doubled their lead. A cross by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from the right touchline floated over the head of Chris Smalling and right to Welbeck who blasted his header off the underside of the crossbar and in.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Once down 2-0, Manchester United struggled to produce the chances they had in the first half. The Gunners were forced into a change as Xhaka was left with his seat on the turf, and he was replaced by Francis Coquelin on 75 minutes.

United looked for a way back in, but they had little to offer Cech’s goal as Arsenal did well to hamper them on the ball. Axel Tuanzebe delivered an impressive volley in stoppage time but it was too close to the Gunners’ shot-stopper.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The win for Arsenal keeps their very faint top four hopes mathematically alive. On 63 points, they sit two back of Manchester United in fifth and six behind Manchester City for that final Champions League place. The Gunners have four matches remaining, which gives them a game in hand on the rest of the competition.

Manchester United falls back in the race, on 65 points, four back of Manchester City after the club’s first loss since October, ending a run of 25 matches. Jose Mourinho has publicly claimed they are prioritizing the Europa League, and rested a number of usual starters for this game as a result.

Liga MX wrap: Pachuca earns first win, Leon stays unbeaten

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All of Saturday’s action from around Mexico’s top flight…

Pachuca 3-1 Lobos BUAP

A strong first-half push from the hosts was all Pachuca needed on Saturday night to earn their first victory of the 2018 Clausura season. Angel Sagal brought the home side in front after just 10 minutes off of a near-post header, before Pachuca’s lead soon doubled 14 minutes later from the penalty spot when strike Franco Jara converted on the dead-ball attempt.

Just prior to halftime, Pachuca was out to a 3-0 advantage when 20-year-old outside back Erick Aguirre tallied his first goal for the club.

Last-place side Lobos got on the board three minutes into the second stanza via a finish from Heriberto Olvera, however, it wasn’t enough to provide anything more than a consolation for the visiting side.

Necaxa 1-3 Chivas Guadalajara

Mexican international Alan Pulido made it a dream start for the visitors from Guadalajara at the Estadio Victoria, however, that lead was cancelled out in first-half stoppage time after Carlos Gonzalez leveled the match up at 1-1.

The difference proved to be with 25 minutes left to play, when a goalkeeping error by Marcelo Barovero allowed Chivas to regain possession inside the Necaxa penalty area, before Ronaldo Cisneros tapped home the winner.

Then, a third goal came just prior to the end of regulation when Edwin Hernandez killed the game off for Matias Almeyda’s men, who also earned their first victory of the Clausura season.

Rest of Saturday’s Liga MX action

Cruz Azul 0-0 Club Leon
Queretaro 0-0 Tigres UANL
Monterrey 0-0 Club Tijuana

Sunday’s matches

UNAM vs. Club America — 1 p.m. ET
Santos Laguna vs. Morelia — 7 p.m. ET

The 2 Robbies: Alexis/Mkhitaryan transfer saga and more

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle recap all the key stories from the latest Premier League Saturday fixtures including Manchester City’s 3-1 win over Newcastle (0:20), Chelsea’s 4-0 victory at Brighton (10:15) and the latest on the Alexis Sanchez/Henrikh Mkhitaryan saga after wins for Arsenal and Manchester United (19:00). Plus, a closer look at the bottom of the table and thoughts go out to James McCarthy after his serious injury against West Brom (29:00).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

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Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Video: Stoke’s Imbula scores stunner on loan at Toulouse

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Stoke City supporters know the name Giannelli Imbula, and perhaps they’ll be clamoring for the Frenchman to return to the bet365 Stadium if he can score more goals like this.

[ MORE: PL Roundup — Top three all victorious; Gunners thrash Palace ]

The holding midfielder is currently on loan with Ligue 1 outfit Toulouse, and for the first time this season, Imbula opened his goalscoring account in some fashion.

Right on half-hour mark, Imbula unleashed a left-footed strike from nearly 40 yards out to give Toulouse the lead over Montpellier (below).

Imbula joined Stoke during the 2015/16 PL season, and has made 26 appearances for the Potters in his time with the club, prior to his loan to France.

Willian proves he’s Chelsea’s x-factor against Brighton

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There’s a considerable difference when watching a Chelsea team that plays with and without one of its Brazilian influences in the attacking part of the field.

Willian — who first debuted for the Blues back in 2013 — hasn’t always managed to be a regular starter for Chelsea, whether it was Jose Mourinho, Guus Hiddink or current manager Antonio Conte at the helm, though.

[ SOURCES: Jack Harrison expected to join Stoke City this winter ]

The 29-year-old plays with considerable flair, something that certainly isn’t uncommon amongst many players that have grown up in Brazil.

At times Willian’s overconfidence is a significant blessing, and at others it can be considered a curse, however, the former Corinthians player’s presence is something that Chelsea needs now more than ever.

That was on display on Saturday during the side’s 4-0 win at Brighton, a match in which Chelsea dominated from start to finish with Willian on the pitch. While the performance cannot solely be attributed to the attacking midfielder’s showing, it’s easy to argue that the Blues midfielder is becoming the club’s biggest x factor — one that can determine the outcome of a match.

Just look six minutes into the match, when the Blues put together one of the best team goals you’ll see in a match this year (or any year for that matter), which of course, was started and finished by none other than Willian.

What stands out about the play isn’t the brilliant slicing shot into the near post corner by the veteran playmaker, but instead the confidence that Willian exudes and brings to a Chelsea lineup that has plenty of talent to be considered one of the best teams in England and all of Europe.

After all, Conte’s group is just a season removed from winning the Premier League and still sits inside the top three in the world’s top league.

Then, there’s the Blues’ third goal against Brighton, which was set up by a smart, and instinctive, through ball played into the path of Eden Hazard by Willian (below).

Even though Hazard ends up with a ton of time on the ball to make his next decision, which was ultimately to cut inside on his preferred right foot, the run by Willian towards the end line dragged a defender away from the Belgian international — allowing the sequence to progress.

Arguing Willian’s importance isn’t a knock on Hazard — a world-class player in his own right — or Alvaro Morata, who has had the intolerable task of replacing a key player like Diego Costa.

Instead, it simply shows that Chelsea has a plethora of talent, and that some of the club’s attacking struggles throughout the 2017/18 season can be chalked up to Willian being left out of the starting XI on a regular basis.

[ MORE: Sergio Aguero continues to display brilliance for Man City ]

The Brazilian international has scored eight goals and added seven assists this season in all competitions for the Blues, despite only starting 19 matches.

The mind of manager Conte is an ever-changing one, so maybe Willian still doesn’t get the starting nod on an every week basis, but just by watching the team’s performance at the Amex Stadium it’s quite hard to argue against the player being on the field as much as possible.