Quick Six: Top Premier League storylines from weekend no. 2

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1. THERE’S ONLY SO MUCH AARON RAMSEY CAN DISGUISE WITH ARSENAL

I haven’t met the person who, after this week, isn’t slightly happy for Aaron Ramsey. I’m not sure I want to. A standout four days for the 22-year-old comes after a five years of promise, injury, doubt, and criticism. For one week, however, the Wales international has lived up to the hype that accompanied him from Cardiff City in 2008.

Back then, an 17-year-old Ramsey was the subject of a bidding war, most notably between Arsenal and Manchester United. He eventually chose North London, embarking on a career that was momentarily sidetracked two years later, his leg broken by a Ryan Shawcross tackle. Returning to the Gunners 14 months later, Ramsey won a role in Arsène Wenger’s squad only to become one of many faces not quite good enough to meet supporters’ ambitions. That he was bought so young, had trouble nailing doubt a specific role, and saw more time in the wake of Cesc Fábregas’s departure made him a de facto symbol of Arsenal’s plight.

But if Ramsey truly is a symbol, then things are looking up for the Gunners, because for two straight matches, he’s been great – arguably the club’s best player. On Wednesday in Istanbul, Ramsey helped create one and scored another as Arsenal downed Fenerbahçe, 4-0. Saturday at Craven Cottage, he was similarly controlling, leaving the injured Mikel Arteta far from the minds of the Arsenal faithful as the Gunners ran out 3-1 winners.

That’s not to say all is well with Arsenal. The problems brought up in the wake of their loss to Villa are still there. If Arsène Wenger chooses to bask in the glow of Ramsey’s glory, he’ll overlook the fact the club still need a central defender, midfielder, better goalkeeping, and potentially help in attack if they’re truly going to compete on all fronts.

But at a time when the club’s fans needed something, anything to show hope need not be lost, a long-held prospect has emerged. And after all he’s been through, why not Aaron Ramsey? Somebody we can all get behind.

source: Reuters2. FOR SPURS, LIVERPOOL, STAR POWER’S OVERRATED

Perhaps Tottenham do need a Gareth Bale-like presence, but the idea that they’re a one-man team is being debunked. Whereas last year Spurs seemed incapable of winning unless their star got on the scoresheet, now they don’t even need him in the team. After their 1-0 win over Swansea City, André Villas-Boas’s side is perfect through two rounds.

But Spurs aren’t the only team thriving without their leading man. With Luis Súarez suspended, Liverpool have also opened with two wins, their second coming Saturday at Aston Villa. Daniel Sturridge (right) has picked up the scoring slack, scoring in each of Liverpool’s 1-0 wins, but perhaps more importantly, Simon Mignolet has proven a prescient signing in goal.

Of course Liverpool and Spurs would be better if they had last year’s stars. And eventually, Liverpool will have theirs. But for all the talk of these clubs being one-man teams last year, it hasn’t taken long for Villas-Boas and Brendan Rodgers to remind us: There are other ways to win soccer games.

3. MANUEL PELLEGRINI MAY NOT BE ALEX FERGUSON

Given how effusive we were on Monday after City’s trouncing of Newcastle, it behooves us to take a step back from our Manuel Pellegrini praise. And given how long I’ve doted on the former Villarreal, Real Madrid, Málaga boss, I may be due for two, maybe three steps away from the champagne. No, Richard, Pellegrini is not going to redefine English football.

source: Getty ImagesSunday seemed a classic “you don’t know what you’re getting into game,” one a new coach could overlook. On talent, there isn’t much room for Cardiff City to compete with the Sky Blues, but the style of game in the English leagues (or, more readily, the culture) somehow creates an environment where results like this are more likely. Where pace, power, and passion are such integral parts of the sporting ethos, you’re not going to be able to knock the ball around for an hour, take a 1-0 lead, and consider your opponents convinced.

And there’s no reason to think Manchester City assumed as much, yet the match played out that way. Eight minutes after Edin Dzeko opened the scoring, Cardiff had their first of three second half goals, going on to a 3-2 win.

Perhaps there’s nothing Pellegrini could have done to prevent that, but his substitutions didn’t help. Nor did his willingness to roll the dice with Javi Garcia at the back. Ultimately, in his second game in England, Pellegrini lost with a vastly more-talented side.

source: Getty Images4. PROMOTED SIDES BREAK THROUGH

Give Cardiff City credit. They played well; better than most thought them capable of. Perhaps Manchester City could have done more, but Cardiff did well to stick around. And once City cracked — once the visitors ground their gears while trying to find cruise — the Bluebirds pounced. Even if City played better, Cardiff may have found a way to win their first Premier League match at home.

Hull City, on the other hand, had to hang on after losing a man before the half hour mark, though by the time Yannick Sagbo saw himself dismissed, Robbie Brady had already converted from the spot. What followed was less of a siege than a persistent probing, Norwich unable to exert enough pressure to crack the Tigers. They held the ball of 61 percent of the time, brought on the newly acquired Johan Elmander, but couldn’t many more than four shots on goal, a paltry amount considering the 73 minutes with a man advantage.

The only thing that prevented a clean sweep for the promoted club was a comeback at the Britannia, with Stoke City handing Crystal Palace their second straight loss. Regardless, both Cardiff City and Hull City are not only into the win column, they’re outside of the drop zone. For now.

source: Getty Images5. FOUR GAMES, TWO POINTS IN THE NORTH EAST

It should go without saying Newcastle’s first two games have not been good enough. Their first, a thrashing at the boots of Manchester City, can’t be explained by the Yohan Cabaye controversy. Their second, a 0-0 draw against visiting West Ham United, saw the home side fail to register a shot on goal. Alan Pardew’s contract may run through 2020 (no joke), but the same questions of his performance that hovered at the end of last season are about resurface.

Sunderland, in the meantime, also earned a point on Saturday despite the fact they failed to carryover any of the control they showed against Fulham. The nearly didn’t need it, though, with a third minute goal from Emanuele Giaccherini holding up for 85 minutes. If it wasn’t for a goal two minutes from time from Jose Forte, the Black Cats would have completed their smash and grab.

Despite the draws, both teams clearly have a long way to go. While Sunderland has shown some promise, they’ve played two drastically different games, leaving questions as to what they truly have at the Stadium of Light. Newcastle, on the other hand, have played two games they’ll want back.

6. TOO EARLY TO PASS JUDGMENT ON ASTON VILLA, SWANSEA CITY

source: Getty ImagesVilla’s first week has seen them face three European aspirants, with Paul Lambert’s team losing the one game they may have expected to win nine. That they got a surprise result at Arsenal last Saturday means the Liverpool loss stings a little less, though with three points from matches with the Gunners, Chelsea, and the Reds, Villa can be happy with their returns. Had they taken one point from those three games, fans could have rationalized the results.

It does put Lambert in a strange position. He’s trying to evaluate what he has with his team, but he doesn’t have a good point of comparison. Against Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool, Villa were always going to be outgunned. That they did, much of the time, look outgunned not only wasn’t a surprise but also led to 270 minutes where it’s hard to gauge his team’s absolute quality. Lambert will have to rely on his experience to fill in the gaps.

Michael Laudrup’s in the same situation. Swansea’s faced Manchester United and Tottenham, two teams they weren’t expected to beat. That they didn’t take points won’t be seen as a disappointment; however, Swansea’s also left with a skewed perception of self, one that won’t help them determine how they stack up against the other Europa League-aspirants.

Wasteful Peru can’t find breakthrough in critical match against Venezuela

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In one of the toughest groups of the Copa America, Peru and Venezuela are fighting for a knockout spot alongside likely title contenders in Brazil, and there probably won’t be room for both teams. That means Saturday’s matchup was nothing less than vital, and Peru was up to the task, but couldn’t find the breakthrough as they wasted 17 shots in a 0-0 draw with 10-man Venezuela.

The game kicked off right from the start, and it appeared that Peru had opened the scoring inside the first 10 minutes on a messy goal scored off a set-piece, as a free-kick curled into the box and Renato Tapia collided with Venezuela goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez as he got his head to the ball. With the goalkeeper down, Christofer Gonzales pounced right on the penalty spot and picked up the game’s first goal. However, VAR ruled it out for offside after a very lengthy review.

Venezuela’s best chance of the first half came on 22 minutes as Solomon Rondon was through on the doorstep but Pedro Gallese came out to smother the chance right on the line. After the break, Venezuela came close again with Rondon delivering a free-kick under the jumping wall that skittered just wide left.

The second half progressed as one vitally important game would, with back-and-forth flow and heavy physicality. Again Peru thought it had the breakthrough in the 64th minute, but again the offside flag denied them the chance as Edison Flores headed the ball into the back of the net but was over the line on the chance.

The game changed in the 75th minute when Venezuela defender Luis Mago was sent off for his second yellow card when he barged through the back of Andy Polo. Peru began to truly dominate and they came close yet again in a wild exchange that saw Peru shots blocked, saved by Farinez, and come off the post before the offside flag went up. Farinez was needed again with nine minutes to go as he dove left to save a distance effort from substitute Edison Flores. Jefferson Farfan put a header wide moments later, and that was the last big chance Peru would see the rest of the way as they began to waste possession down the end as well.

Venezuela survived to share the points, and now the two teams must differentiate themselves between remaining games against Brazil and Bolivia in Group A play, a monumental task.

Women’s World Cup: Netherlands and Canada both advance

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A pair of teams secured a spot in the knockout stage of the 2019 Women’s World Cup, including the first non-European team to advance past the group stage.

The Netherlands were first up, downing Cameroon 3-1 behind a brace from Arsenal forward Vivianne Miedema, making her the all-time leading scorer for the Dutch national team at just 22 years old.

Her first came just four minutes before halftime, stemming from great combination play down the right from Jackie Groenen and Shanice van de Sanden, with the latter delivering a cross to the doorstep that found Miedema who slipped in front of Christine Manie for a diving header. Cameroon equalized just two minutes later through Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene on a long ball straight down the middle, but it wouldn’t stay level much longer after the break.

Three minutes after the restart as the Netherlands worked a set-piece from the training ground, again using the right flank to work a similar cross and while Dominique Bloodworth completely whiffed on the first chance, Cameroon defender Michaela Abam also whiffed on the clear, sending the ball right back to Bloodworth for an easy follow-up.

Cameroon had a golden opportunity to draw level once again with 10 minutes to go, but a critical block by Desiree van Lunteren kept the Dutch in front and Miedema got her second and the record with five minutes remaining. On a two-on-two break, Miedema kept it herself and fired a low shot into the bottom-left corner and sealed the victory.

They only netted twice but Canada thoroughly dominated New Zealand to become the first non-European side through to the knockout stage with a 2-0 win in Grenoble. Jessie Flemming secured the win, able to find the back of the net with two of Canada’s 24 shots in the match.

The game ground to a halt 15 minutes in as Catherine Bott took a close-range cross off the right hand and was down for significant treatment before coming off. On the restart, the game jolted to life again as Christine Sinclair had a glorious opportunity in front of net but somehow the New Zealand defense combined to keep the ball from crossing the line.

Canada remained the more dangerous side through the first half-hour with the New Zealand defense barely staying alive on numerous occasions. The Ferns finally had their best chance in the 39th minute as a few bounces in midfield went their way and it created a two-on-two break, but they were unable to find a wide-open Rosie White in the middle.

After halftime, Canada seemed rejuvenated and struck just three minutes in. A long ball down the left released Nichelle Prince on the break, and she had all too easy of a cutback to Fleming waiting in the middle. Sinclair missed one just a minute later over the bar that would have doubled the lead, and Canada began to truly pour on the pressure. A fabulous header from Prince was only kept out by a stunning Erin Nayler save in the 72nd minute.

The win put Canada on six points, even with the Netherlands and behind only on goal differential, with the two set to meet in the final round of group stage play to determine the group winner. New Zealand and Cameroon are both eliminated, with either side yet to secure a point in its first two matches.

Watch Live: Copa America — Day 2

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Hosts Brazil kicked off the Copa America with a 3-0 defeat of Bolivia on Friday, and now it’s Argentina’s time to leave the runway.

Lionel Messi and Argentina meet Colombia in a 6 p.m. ET blockbuster in Salvador, Bahia. The match will go a long way toward determining who wins Group B.

[ LIVE: Watch every single Copa America game ]

That happens three hours after Salomon Rondon and Venezuela tries to ride momentum from a demolition of the USMNT into a Group A date with Peru at Porto Alegre.

You can watch every single game from the tournament live online in Spanish via Telemundo Deportes and via the NBC Sports App. All you have to do is click on the links below.

2019 Copa America schedule

Group A: Venezuela v. Peru – 3 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE
Group B: Argentina v. Colombia – 6 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE

Ukraine wins U-20 World Cup behind Supriaha brace (video)

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Vladyslav Supriaha scored goals in each half as Ukraine overcame an early penalty to beat South Korea 3-1 and win the U-20 World Cup in Poland.

The Dynamo Kiev 19-year-old was kept off the scoreboard for most of the tournament, with Danylo Sikan scoring four times to pace the champions to the final. Ukraine beat the U.S. in the first match of the group stage.

Fellow Dynamo Kiev teen Heorhiy Tsitaishvili, 18, scored a magnificent solo goal to put the win on ice with two minutes to go in regulation.

It was South Korea who took the early lead on a VAR-given penalty following a foul on the very edge of the box.

But Supriaha turned and slotted a fine finish home before the break, then scored the below winner early in the second frame.

Amazingly, though, the play of the day was a save from Real Madrid goalkeeper Andriy Lunin off a bullet header in the 70th minute. Lunin has already been capped three times by the senior team.