Stoke City 1-4 Arsenal: Gunners shoot toward fourth

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  • Giroud scores in each half
  • Ozil just after the break
  • Two assists for Bellerin

Olivier Giroud scored twice as Arsenal won at Stoke City for the first time in seven tries with a 4-1 victory on Saturday at the bet365 Stadium.

Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez also scored as the beneficiaries of well-worked team goals, and Hector Bellerin had two assists for Arsenal in snapping a six-match winless run (3D-3L) at Stoke.

The win boosts the Gunners to within a point of fourth-place Liverpool.

Peter Crouch scored Stoke’s lone goal, leaving the Potters 16th in the Premier League table.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

After a dull quarter-hour, the game found a bit of life when Nacho Monreal headed a cross off the far post.

It didn’t open up the entertainment, however, unless you include a number of hard fouls and tackles.

Arsenal did enjoy the possession, and Alexis Sanchez created some danger before lashing a shot into the side netting in the 34th minute.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Giroud broke the deadlock in the 42nd minute, tapping in a point-blank goal off a square ball through the six from Hector Bellerin.

Ozil was on the end of a gorgeous 1-2 move with Alexis Sanchez to make it 2-0, passing to the Chilean and darting through the 18 to collect and finish.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Stoke nearly pulled one back when Marko Arnautovic cut into the left of the box near the end line and chopped a pass back toward Mame Biram Diouf, but the ball was behind the big striker and he could not adjust his head to catch the drilled pass.

Substitutes Peter Crouch and Saido Berahino were called upon to change the game, and the former scored a handball goal in the 67th minute to make it 2-1.

The atmosphere was elevated, and Stoke had several opportunities to level the match only to misfire with passes or shots.

Sanchez carried a Bellerin pass into the 18 and made it 3-1 soon after, giving the Gunners a two-goal lead with less than 15 minutes remaining in the 90.

Jack Butland saved Aaron Ramsey‘s low shot moments later.

Photo: Flamengo supporter tattoos club jersey on body

MAURÍCIO DOS ANJOS VIA VICE
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A supporter in Brazil has taken fandom to a whole new level with a piece of body art that shows his devotion to the club.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

Maurício dos Anjos, a passionate Flamengo fan, has been a life-long supporter of the Rio de Janeiro-based club, and has the tattoo to prove it.

While it may look like body paint, Dos Anjos has a tattoo on the upper-half of his body depicting the Flamengo jersey, and it’s pretty awesome.

“People ask me if I don’t find it strange that I’m always wearing a Flamengo shirt. And I just don’t,” dos Anjos told VICE. “To me, it’s normal. But it doesn’t seem like anyone I talk to about it actually dislikes my tattoo.”

In total, Dos Anjos says the body work took over 90 hours and 30 sessions to complete the tattoo.

Has the perception of MLS really changed?

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When David Beckham arrived in Los Angeles back in 2007 his presence changed the complexion of Major League Soccer for all the right reasons, and the perception of the growing league changed.

[ MORE: Go behind the scenes at NYCFC’s new training facility ]

Over the years, MLS has strived to move into the upper-echelon of the global game, in an attempt to compete with the likes of the Premier League, Bundesliga and La Liga, but naysayers still indicate to this day that the United States’ top flight lacks the quality of the aforementioned.

Phrases like “retirement league” and “uninspired” have been used to describe MLS in the past, particularly when it comes to the league’s willingness to spend boatloads of cash on notable players well past their prime.

Examples such as Andrea Pirlo, Steven Gerrard and Rafael Marquez have at times dampened the perception of MLS due to the lack of quality on the pitch from those players, along with several others that had previously boasted extensive resumes.

Now, we’re at a time where MLS has picked up its scouting, with clubs focused more on younger, more skilled talents from South America and Europe.

That has led to major signings over the past several years, such as Ezequiel Barco, Miguel Almiron, Diego Rossi and Jesus Medina, to name a few.

Has that changed the overall complexion of MLS though?

On Thursday, Kevin De Bruyne‘s agent, Patrick de Koster, suggested in an interview that the Belgium international would likely “finish” his career in MLS.

“For now, he’s very happy at this club,” De Koster said. “We always look what the best solution for the player, both financially and football wise. Kevin’s future? I can see him finish at Los Angeles.”

This comes on the heels of a 36-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic joining the LA Galaxy in a move that has sent shockwaves across the league and the world because of the Swede’s great presence on a global scale.

It’s not to say that players like Ibrahimovic, or previous signings like David Villa and Didier Drogba cannot help the overall growth of MLS, because they certainly bring an awareness to the matches and draw attention to their respective clubs.

However, the long-term viability of MLS has been and will continue to be sustained on youth players succeeding in the league, as well as being able to draw promising young talents into the top flight of the U.S.

Report: USMNT likely to face Brazil, Mexico in September friendlies

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The U.S. Men’s National Team won’t have a busy schedule throughout the summer, but Dave Sarachan and his side will get a tiny taste of the World Cup in September.

[ MORE: Chivas’ Almeyda exhales after CCL title win ]

ESPN FC is reporting that the USMNT will likely face Brazil and Mexico — both of whom will travel to Russia in June — later this year, as the U.S. Soccer Federation is in the process of finalizing both friendlies.

The matches are set to be played during the September international window, which runs from Sept. 3 through Sept. 11.

Both fixtures will reportedly be played in the United States, although venues haven’t been determined yet.

The U.S. has already begun booking a slate of difficult matches to round out 2018, with England and Italy already confirmed opponents for the Yanks in November.

The Yanks are 1-17-0 all-time against Brazil in all competitions, while the U.S. hasn’t faced Mexico since its 1-1 draw at the Estadio Azteca in June 2017 during CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

Men in Blazers: Jurgen Klopp talks loss of Coutinho and more

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Roger Bennett talks with manager Jurgen Klopp about revolutionizing Liverpool, his Greatest Show on Turf-esque offense, the loss of Philippe Coutinho and how he keeps football in perspective.

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