Photo by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

Where does Lacazette rank amongst top PL strikers?

1 Comment

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.

Real Madrid come from behind to win in Club World Cup semis

AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
Leave a comment

Real Madrid made things on Wednesday a bit more complicated than they would have preferred, but the two-time defending European champions are through to the final of the Club World Cup for the second straight year.

[ MORE: Newcastle sale closer after improved bid of $400 million ]

Zinedine Zidane’s men came from behind to beat United Arab Emirates side Al Jazira (winners of the U.A.E. Pro League, the tournament’s host country), courtesy of second-half goals scored by Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, 2-1 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Al Jazira held a 1-0 halftime lead, thanks to Romarinho’s opening goal in the 41st minute. The advantage lasted just a dozen minutes, though, as Ronaldo used Madrid’s first genuine chance of the game to bring Los Blancos back onto level terms in the 53rd minute. Luka Modric slipped the Portuguese superstar through, and the recently crowned Ballon d’Or winner finished with ease to make it 1-1.

[ MORE: West Ham targeting Wilshere in January transfer window ]

The winner didn’t come for quite some time after that, as Madrid were made to wait — and work — for their place in Saturday’s final, where they’ll face Brazilian side and Copa Libertadores winners Gremio. Bale had only just come off the bench seconds earlier, when Lucas Vazquez cut the ball back for Bale to hit it hard and low past the goalkeeper.

The Welshman nearly made it 3-1 with four minutes to go in regular time, but his scissor from the edge of the box was saved to deny Madrid a stunning insurance goal very late on.

Madrid are aiming to become the first side to win back-to-back Club World Cup titles after beating Kashima Antlers, 4-2 after extra-time, in the 2016 final.

Watch Live: Man City, Man United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs in action

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Seven Premier League games are coming your way from 2:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday, and you can watch them all live online.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ]

Manchester City head to Swansea looking to extend their winning streak to a record-breaking 15-straight in a season, while Manchester United host Bournemouth and Tottenham welcome Brighton to Wembley. There’s a big London derby between West Ham and Arsenal, while Liverpool host West Brom, in-form Leicester head to Southampton and struggling Newcastle clash with Everton.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ] 

You can access additional games by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold which also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: “Goal Rush” here ]

For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window. More info is available here.

The schedule for the seven games on Wednesday is below and you can stream each game live by clicking on the links.


Wednesday’s Premier League schedule

2:45 p.m. ET: Swansea City vs. Manchester City – NBCSN [STREAM]
2:45 p.m. ET: Newcastle United vs. Everton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
2:45 p.m. ET: Southampton vs. Leicester City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM

3 p.m. ET: Liverpool vs. West Bromwich Albion – NBC Sports Gold  [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Manchester United vs. Bournemouth – NBC Sports Gold  [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Brighton & Hove Albion – NBC Sports Gold  [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: West Ham United vs. Arsenal – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Copa Sudamericana finals, leg 2: Flamengo vs. Independiente

AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko
Leave a comment

SAO PAULO (AP) Independiente, relegated for the first time in its history in 2013, can complete a remarkable turnaround by winning the Copa Sudamericana at the Maracana Stadium on Wednesday.

The Argentine team will go into the second leg of the final holding a 2-1 lead over Brazilian club Flamengo from the first leg.

Independiente, which has won multiple titles in South American tournaments, will be counting on 18-year-old midfielder Ezequiel Barco, one of the best players in this year’s competition.

Flamengo is also seeking to restore some pride in Rio de Janeiro. The big-spending Brazilian club, playing in its first Copa Sudamericana final, finished its domestic championship in a disappointing sixth place.

The Rio team will be without Peru striker Paolo Guerrero, who is serving a one-year doping ban.

Instead, veteran midfielder Diego will be the key player as Flamengo looks to claim its first regional title since winning the now-defunct Copa Mercosur in 1999.

After Independiente won the first leg, the club posted on its social media channels a picture of its players celebrating at the Maracana in 1995 when the two teams played for the Supercopa.

If the Argentines lose 1-0 on Wednesday, there will be a penalty shootout to decide the winner.

Last year, Brazilian club Chapecoense was awarded the title before the final after 19 players, plus club directors and several members of staff, died in an air crash.

The Copa Sudamericana is the continent’s second most prestigious tournament after the Copa Libertadores.

Germany’s players have big-money incentive to win World Cup

Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
Leave a comment

BERLIN (AP) Germany’s players will each receive $410,000 bonus if the team defends its World Cup title next year in Russia.

The German soccer federation says it has agreed to a performance-related bonus system for the team, as it did for the successful 2014 World Cup campaign and the last two European Championships.

Bonuses will only be paid upon reaching the quarterfinals, when each player would receive $90,000. That will increase to $150,000 for reaching the semifinals, $175,000 for third place and $235,000 for reaching the final.

Only Italy (1934 and 1938) and Brazil (1958 and 1962) have won back-to-back World Cup titles.