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Where does Lacazette rank amongst top PL strikers?

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Alexandre Lacazette is one of the best strikers in the world, but where does his arrival at Arsenal place him in the context of Premier League hit men?

As tempting as it would be to rate each team’s strike corps, we’re wondering where each club’s top striker would place if ranked with the other 19 leading men in the Premier League.

For clarification, we’re going to use an asterisk for wantaway Chelsea striker Diego Costa — whose move to Atleti could be imminent — and count Sergio Aguero of Man City despite Gabriel Jesus‘ deserved status as “next big thing”

[ MORE: Lacazette signing huge for Wenger’s Arsenal ]

We’re also going to count Joshua King of Bournemouth ahead of new Cherries signed Jermain Defoe.

Here’s to our quickly-assembled, non-scientific list. It’s readied for your critical destruction, though we’re only ready to put two team’s top men ahead of Lacazette.

Group One: The New Boys

20. Glenn Murray, Brighton and Hove Albion — An effective Championship scorer.
19. Elias Kachunga, Huddersfield Town — His 12 FLC goals by far his finest season.
18. Dwight Gayle, Newcastle United — Any chance he carries over an electric 2016-17?

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Group Two: More Questions Than Answers

17. Marko Arnautovic, Stoke City — Capable of the sublime, but inconsistent.
16. Troy Deeney, Watford — A finisher, sure, but has reached his ceiling.
15. Andre Gray, Burnley — Make or break year for him.
14. Salomon Rondon, West Bromwich Albion — How would he do outside Pulis’ system?
13. Michy Batshuayi, Chelsea* — Not crazy to see this season as a major breakthrough campaign.
12. Andre Ayew, West Ham United — Health is his most important hurdle.
11. Manolo Gabbiadini, Southampton — Was Puel his elixir, his brief run a lucky one?

(Owen Humphreys/PA via AP)

Group Three: On the precipice

10. Marcus Rashford, Manchester United — Will he ever get a chance to be Man Utd’s main man?
9. Fernando Llorente, Swansea City — A head for goal and a savvy set of pegs.
8. Christian Benteke, Crystal Palace — Zaha and Townsend the perfect complements to his aerial set.
7. Joshua King, Bournemouth — Eddie Howe helped produce 16-goal campaign; Can he do it again?
6. Roberto Firmino, Liverpool — Initially we used Divock Origi as an out-and-out striker, but with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah on the wings, it’s Firmino who deserves the title of the Reds’ top striker.

Group Four: A class of his own

5. Jamie Vardy, Leicester City — He’ll work harder than you, and only needs a yard. But is he next level?

Group Five: The elite

5*. Diego Costa, Chelsea — Just a placeholder in case he stays.

4. Romelu Lukaku, Everton — At times he’s a clumsy one for a top-end hitman, but hard to argue with the 25-gola season.
3. Alexandre Lacazette, Arsenal — It’ll take some adjustment, but the Frenchman appears built for Arsenal and the PL.
2. Sergio Aguero, Man City — Only a matter of time before Gabriel Jesus becomes the guy for City, but until then don’t rule out the clinical Argentine.
1. Harry Kane, Spurs — At 23, Kane has 78 PL goals. Alan Shearer had 39 at that point. Yeah, England’s “Next Alan Shearer” is finally here.

Alonso, Pedro have Morata’s back despite Spain omission

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Alvaro Morata having his troubles keeping his spot in the Chelsea lineup, and his omission from the Spain squad has a couple of his teammates speaking up on his behalf.

Marcos Alonso, himself called up to Spain, and Pedro (not called up) have Morata’s back after the big striker scored at the weekend in FA Cup action.

[ MORE: Rojo’s hilarious Alexis signing reaction ]

Alonso admitted that Morata was less than pleased to miss the call-up so close to the World Cup.

“Alvaro wasn’t happy,” Alonso said. “He has gone through a difficult few months with a back injury. He is now 100 per cent and the other day he scored.He is a very important player for us. I hope he will do well from here until the end of the season and he gets to go to the World Cup.”

It’s not like Morata hasn’t performed for Spain; The 25-year-old has 13 goals in 23 caps for La Furia Roja.

But Spain coach Julen Lopetegui has opted for just four traditional strikers, with Chelsea outcast Diego Costa leading the way in caps (16) and goals (6). Also in the squad: Celta Vigo’s Iago Aspas (7 and 3), Valencia’s Rodrigo (3 and 1), and Real Madrid’s Lucas Vasquez (3 and 0).

Pedro pointed to Morata’s goal against Leicester City as a milemarker, via

“I’m very happy for Alvaro to score again and hopefully that will give him the confidence to score more. Alvaro is a very good player and an important part of our team. It’s important for him to score and to help the side and hopefully he can continue to do that until the end of the season.He had a back injury but now he’s in a very good condition and it’s a good time for him. I think his back is perfect now and hopefully he can keep scoring, because we all know just how good he is.’

Morata has been on the rise for several seasons, but hasn’t performed at a consistent level in his last three seasons at Juventus, Real Madrid, and Chelsea.

He had more of a playmaking streak at Juve, but has been a straight-up target man for both Real and Chelsea. His 13 goals and five assists certainly aren’t poor, but Antonio Conte clearly expected more from the Spaniard. Will his confidence be boosted before the end of the season?

Rojo’s reaction to Sanchez joining Man Utd was priceless

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Speaking to an Argentine publication while on duty, the Manchester United defender shared a number of interesting tidbits.

[ MORE: Young backs Luke Shaw ]

The first, and perhaps funnier one, came from a family visit to Manchester for the Christmas holiday, as Rojo set off a bunch of fireworks in his neighborhood, one he did not realize was shared with United legend Alex Ferguson.

Rojo said Ferguson saw him the next day and congratulated him on “the light show,” with the defender quipping that he thought he might be on his way out of the Old Trafford set-up.

But the more quotable translation comes from the Argentine learning that Chilean superstar and Premier League rival Alexis Sanchez was traded Arsenal red for the same hue at United.

Rojo said Sanchez has turned out to be a lovely guy, but that doesn’t change his initial shock at the news. From TYC Sports, translated by The Mirror,

“Every time we came up against one another, whether in internationals or when United played Arsenal, I would give him a good kicking – and he did the same to me.

“On top of that I used to insult him, and he would reply in kind. So when I learned that he was going to join United I said: ‘Oh, ******* hell, no, now this guy’s going to be here’.”

It likely happens more often than we know, given the competitive nature and furious tackling at the highest level. The old cliche “You’d love him if he was on your team” leaves out the fact that he’s also no longer on the opposition, beating you up.

Not to mention, there’s always that opening conversation, “Hey, that thing I said about your parents…”

Bradley, TFC not freaking over winless start (video)

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Toronto FC is Major League Soccer’s reigning champion, coming off one of the finest seasons in league history, and perhaps the best hope yet for a CONCACAF Champions League title.

It’s also in last place after three Match days in the 2018 season.

[ MORE: Top MLS free agents ]

That’s a tough juggling act, at least emotionally. Given the long and forgiving MLS season, TFC is going to be fine. But the Reds also have a group of players and executives not exactly known for resting on laurels.

TFC has not scored in losses to Columbus and Montreal, but rang up four goals over two matches in knocking UANL Tigres out of the CCL.

So on one hand, yeah, unprecedented success for the club. On the other…

“It’s certainly not ideal to look at the table for the next 13 days until we play again,” Bradley said. “On the other hand it’s been a busy start and we’ve gotta use the time over the next little stretch to regroup mentally, physically for what we hope is a really busy time.”

To recap: Yes, TFC deservedly advanced to next month’s CCL semifinal tie with Mexican monster Club American. No, they aren’t happy to lose a pair of league matches (even if they could’ve easily taken results in both with two favorable bounces).

“Let’s be a little bit honest and also say in the moment that while there have been things in these two league games that haven’t been good enough, we’ve been a little bit unlucky in terms of balls rolling across the goal line and some big chances that we haven’t been able to score on. You have to look at it from all angles. We’re certainly not happy,” Bradley said.

Young backs Man United teammate Shaw to become star

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Ashley Young‘s performances on the field and in training have helped keep Luke Shaw off the field, but the veteran winger sees the potential in Shaw that manager Jose Mourinho may not.

Per the BBC, Young said that Shaw could be among the “best in the world” at his position. Shaw was substituted off at halftime of Man United’s 2-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion in the FA Cup and was publicly criticized by Mourinho after the game, sparking controversy and plenty of conversation in the media over the past 48 hours.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

“I want to see him doing well,” Young said. “It’s like all players, you just have to get your head down and work. He’s a fantastic player. He can be one of the best in the world.”

Shaw has struggled to make an impact and live up to expectations since making a $42 million move from Southampton to Old Trafford in 2014 as a 19-year-old. Shaw has made 99 Premier League appearances over the last four seasons for Man United but he’s been marginalized this season with just seven appearances.

When he moved to Man United, he likely looked at the 2018 World Cup as a goal, in which he could cement his place as the England left back of the future. Now, he’ll almost surely be watching the tournament from home, wondering what went wrong along the way.