Arsenal 3-3 Liverpool: Thriller in London

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  • What in the world did we just see?
  • Reds dominate first 45
  • Coutinho, Salah open 2-0 lead
  • Arsenal answers with three between 53rd-58th 

The festive fixtures got a frenetic start, as Liverpool saved some blushes after allowing three goals in six minutes in a 3-3 draw with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Friday.

Granit Xhaka, Alexis Sanchez, and Mesut Ozl scored to erase a 2-0 Liverpool lead produced by Mohamed Salah and Philippe Coutinho. Roberto Firmino later equalized for the Reds.

Liverpool will meet Christmas in third place, their 35 points one better than Arsenal (unless Burnley hangs a 15-goal win on Tottenham).

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Jurgen Klopp last his captain Jordan Henderson after just 10 minutes, though he didn’t lose a ton when James Milner entered for the man with the band.

Soon after, our first real chance of the match: Mohamed Salah and Philippe Coutinho combining for the Brazilian to rip wide of the frame.

Petr Cech was back post to stop a point blank header from Roberto Firmino off another terrific cross from Andrew Robertson.

Coutinho went to the dirty places to male it 1-0, as Salah showed that fine form leads to luck. Following really nice rondo work off a throw-in, Coutinho’s lung-busting run led him into the six to a deflected Salah cross. The Brazilian nodded over Cech with a deft header.

Firmino curled a shot from inside the 18 over the bar and off the back stanchion as Liverpool asked most of the questions.

A slip allowed Salah to test Cech, and the Czech keeper made a save followed by a Mane flying volley over the goal.

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An injured Nacho Monreal left the match at halftime for Arsenal.

Salah saw a trademarked long dribble end with another fine save by Cech, and Coutinho put an ensuing move wide of the frame.

Fittingly, the Egyptian made it 2-0 after the Reds found gaps in the Arsenal formation and Salah blasted a shot around a diving Cech.

Sanchez made it 2-1 within moments, though, as he ran in front of an awkward Joe Gomez to head a Hector Bellerin cross between the legs of Simon Mignolet. Don’t ignore the touch in traffic from Xhaka during the build-up.

Liverpool’s dominance was erased when Mignolet butchered his parry attempt of a rocket shot from Xhaka. 2-2.

(Insert TV pitchmaster’s voice) But wait, there’s more! Ozil worked a delightful 1-2 with Alexandre Lacazette to lift the Gunners from 0-2 to 3-2 within six minutes!

Klavan interceded to stop Lacazette’s shout at 4-2, but the Gunners had a corner. Ozil’s offering was headed clear for a counter attack.

The Reds leveled it at 3 with 20 minutes to go, as Cech could only get a hand to Firmino’s blast through traffic. Cech had otherwise been very good.

Barcelona issue statement on Antoine Griezmann

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Hmm, this is an interesting tactic from Barcelona.

On Saturday the Catalan club released a statement about Atletico Madrid and France striker Antoine Griezmann.

The forward has long been linked with a move to Barca and media reports in Spain have gone into overdrive regarding a move to the Nou Camp for the 26-year-old.

Below is the statement from Barca in full.

FC Barcelona strongly denies the information that has appeared over the course of the last few hours in different media regarding Atletico Madrid player, Antoine Griezmann, and an alleged deal with our club.

FC Barcelona expresses its objections in the face of these events and reiterates its full respect for the institution of Atletico Madrid.

This feels very similar to the situation with Virgil Van Dijk between Liverpool and Southampton.

Media speculation reached incredible levels back in June 2017 that VVD had agreed to sign for Liverpool, but the Anfield club then issued a public apology to Saints and ended their pursuit of Van Dijk. He then signed for Liverpool in January in a $100 million move.

With Atletico said to be incredibly unhappy that Griezmann continues to be linked with a move to Barca, plus reports suggesting the Madrid club want to report Barcelona to FIFA for an alleged approach for their star striker, it’s not too surprising to see Barca take this very unusual approach to try and calm the situation down.

Will it work? Who knows. Is it likely Griezmann will end up at Barcelona anyway? This statement suggests that the two clubs are in dialogue and Barcelona are trying to patch up their relationship to try and move for Griezmann in the summer.

Call me cynical, but that’s the way I see this.

VIDEO: Chelsea score stunning team goal

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Take a bow, Chelsea.

Willian put the Blues 2-0 up at Brighton early on Saturday and the goal was a thing of beauty.

Latching onto an error from Brighton, Chelsea surged forward through Willian who played the ball into Eden Hazard.

The Belgian played a delicious back heel to Michy Batshuayi and the forward then followed suit to flick the ball into Willian’s path who fired home.

Take a look at the stunning goal in the video above.

Watch Live: Brighton v. Chelsea

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Brighton & Hove Albion host Chelsea at the Amex Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

With just one win in their last 12 games, Brighton are being dragged into a relegation battle, while Chelsea aren’t in glittering form with five draws on the spin in all competitions.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

In team news, Brighton start with Tomer Hemed up top and have top scorer Glenn Murray on the bench. New club-record signing Jurgen Locadia isn’t illegible to make his Brighton debut after his signing was only confirmed late Friday, plus the former PSV Eindhoven forward is struggling with an injury..

Chelsea are without star goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois who has suffered an ankle injury in training, with Willy Caballero coming in to replace him. Alvaro Morata and Pedro are suspended, while Ross Barkley is on the bench and he could make his Chelsea debut.


LINEUPS

Brighton: Ryan; Goldson, Duffy, Dunk, Suttner, Schelotto; Stephens, Propper; March, Gross, Hemed. Subs: Hunemeier, Kayal, Baldock, Murray, Izquierdo, Rosenior, Krul

Chelsea: Caballero; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Bakayoko, Kante, Alonso; Willian, Batshuayi, Hazard. SubsEduardo, David Luiz, Zappacosta, Sterling, Ampadu, Barkley, Musonda

PL Preview: Manchester City vs. Newcastle

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  • Newcastle has lost 8 PL away matches in a row
  • Man City last lost at home in PL play to Chelsea in Dec 2016
  • Newcastle has picked up 1 of a possible 30 points vs. PL top half this season

Manchester City has a great chance to rebound from its first loss of the season as they host struggling Newcastle at the Etihad on Saturday, live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE, HERE

The Magpies have picked up their terrible mid-season form of late, but still remain just three points above the drop. They are unbeaten in three, with a win and two draws, and have lost just once in their last five.

Through Newcastle’s losing streak, the Magpies struggled to keep the ball out of their own net, with defensive issues all over the place. They suffered through a nine-game winless run where they conceded 19 goals. However, of late, the roles have reversed, and suddenly they can’t score. In their last four games, they have just two goals.

City, meanwhile, have a few injuries to deal with on the defensive side of things, where they cannot afford them. Fabian Delph went down in the last match and could be out for significant time, along with Vincent Kompany who continues to show his age and history of fitness issues.

INJURIES: Manchester City – OUT: Fabian Delph (knee), Benjamin Mendy (knee). QUESTIONABLE: David Silva (illness), Vincent Kompany (fitness). Newcastle – OUT: Jesus Gamez (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: Dwight Gayle (knock).


What they’re saying

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on build-up of injuries: “In these situations, it always depends on the mentality of the players, if they can make a step forward. If they can they play in positions that are not natural positions and the other guys help them, everything is going well.”

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez on not having a full squad: “When you have a short blanket, if you pull it to your face, your feet are cold, if you cover your feet, your top half is cold.”

Prediction

Newcastle has been ok of late, but not nearly enough to keep Manchester City out of the back of the net. This could get ugly, with the Citizens looking to rebound from their season’s first loss. 3-0 Man City with the possibility that it could get much worse if Newcastle gives up.