Arsenal 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur: Giroud form continues as Gunners quality too much for rivals (Video)

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Spurs spent all the money, and Arsenal hadn’t parted a dollar, a euro, or a pound. Yet it was the Gunners who proved of higher quality at the Emirates winning 1-0 on an early Olivier Giroud strike.

The match started just how everyone had hoped – open, pacey, and lots of chances.  A pair of early Arsenal free kicks came close, forcing a Hugo Lloris save and sending another just wide.

The ball continued to flow back and forth between each attacking third, and in the 13th minute Roberto Soldado had a great chance in front of net but his close-range shot couldn’t find a way around Per Mertesacker.

Giroud was the man to open the scoring in the 23rd minute as he beat Michael Dawson cutting across the box, latched onto a low cross from Theo Walcott, and expertly slotted it home.  It’s the third goal of the season for the Frenchman who had previously earned a national team call-up thanks to his great early-season form.

Aaaron Ramsey should have doubled the lead seven minutes later when the ball found his feet with space in the box but his shot came closer to the surface of the moon than it did the back of the net.  The Arsenal counter attack continued to trouble Spurs, as Hugo Lloris had to come out of his goal two minutes later and make a pinpoint tackle on Walcott.  Tomas Rosicky came out of it with a booking for a bad follow-up tackle.

Spurs maintained decent possession in the midfield, but they found it difficult to get forward with creativity. Andros Townsend proved their most threatening asset, but he was unable to find anything of real trouble for Wojceich Szczesny.

The second half looked very much like the first, as Spurs pumped the ball down the right flank with Kyle Walker and Townsend.  Aaron Ramsey remained a force in the midfield for Arsenal, as the Gunners built everything out of the midfield through the 22-year-old.

source: ReutersThe counter-attack again caused Spurs problems as twice around the 60th minute Santi Cazorla quarterbacked the break with a number of options.  In the 63rd Cazorla picked out Giroud but his bouncing effort flashed just wide in search of a second.  Then in the 70th minute Cazorla found Walcott streaking down the right but Lloris came out strong to pluck the ball from Walcott’s feet before he could get a shot off.

Minutes later a battle in the midfield saw the falling body of Cazorla roll up on the ankle and lower leg of Etienne Capoue, who fell in serious pain, and was stretchered off and replaced by Sandro.  Directly after, Spurs came oh so close as the free kick wasn’t dealt with and substitute Jermain Defoe blasted a wobbly volley that tested a diving Szczesny. The rebound fell to Kyle Walker who ripped it wide from long range.

Arsenal would have had a second as Nacho Monreal nearly popped in a Lloris rebound with his first touch, but Jan Vertonghen’s last-ditch tackle foiled the substitute.  Spurs frantically threw players forward in extra time and pumped the ball on goal, but it just produced one good chance for Walker who whiffed entirely at a shot in space.

On the day, the pace and accuracy of Walcott, Cazorla, and Giroud and the organization of the back four plus Ramsey was just too much for Spurs to try and break through.  A deserved victory for the home team, and the failures on opening day against Aston Villa seem months away.  On to deadline day then, shall we?

Lineups:

Arsenal – Wojciech Szczesny; Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Carl Jenkinson, Kieran Gibbs; Tomas Rosicky (Nacho Monreal 79′), Jack Wilshire (Mathieu Flamini, 43′), Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott (Bacary Sagna, 90+2′); Santi Cazorla; Olivier Giroud.

Tottenham – Hugo Lloris; Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Jan Vertonghen, Michael Dawson; Paulinho, Etienne Capoue (Sandro, 74′), Andros Townsend (Erik Lamela, 75′), Mousa Dembele (Jermain Defoe 69′), Nacer Chadli; Roberto Soldado.

Cruzeiro relegated from Brazilian top flight for first time

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Brazilian side Cruzeiro was relegated from the top flight for the first time in the club’s 98-year history following a 2-0 defeat to Palmeiras on the final day of the season.

Cruzeiro required victory and a loss by Ceara at Botafogo to stay safely in the Brazilian Serie A, but neither came to pass.

Palmeiras midfielder Ze Rafael scored in the 58th minute to send the visitors on their way, with fellow midfielder Dudu finished things off in the 84th minute. Referees ushered the players off the field immediately after the conclusion of the match as Cruzeiro fans rioted in the Mineirao stadium, ripping out seats, setting off smoke bombs, and clashing with police.

Cruzeiro finished 17th in the 20-team table, three points back of Ceara in 16th. In the Brazilian top flight, the bottom four teams are relegated. CSA, Chapecoense, and Avai were also relegated. Cruzeiro had won the Brazilian Serie A as recently as 2013 and 2014, winning four titles in its history. They also have six Copa do Brasil titles, most recently winning the league cup in 2017 and 2018.

Flamengo ran away with the championship, finishing on 90 points, 16 points clear of second-placed Santos and third-placed Palmeiras who both finished level on 74 points. Palmeiras had challenged for the title, but fell off at the end of the season with a five-match winless run through November.

Premier League Preview: West Ham United v. Arsenal

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Two struggling London sides meet Monday when West Ham United hosts Arsenal (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The sides might’ve expected they’d be within close proximity at this point on the fixture list, but two wildly disappointing seasons means the three points between the Gunners and Irons comes with the former in 11th and the latter 16th.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

It’s been nine matches since Arsenal beat someone, 11 since it happened in the Premier League. West Ham hasn’t been much better, winning once in its last 10.

Freddie Ljungberg has yet to win as Arsenal interim boss, while West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini could see his current stint in London end without more results like the Nov. 30 win at Chelsea.

Monday versus Arsenal would qualify.


Injuries/suspensions

West Ham United: OUT —  Jack Wilshere, Lukasz Fabianski, Manuel Lanzini, Winston Reid. QUESTIONABLE — Michail Antonio.

Arsenal: OUT — Dani Ceballos. QUESTIONABLE — Rob Holding.


Probable lineups

West Ham United: Martin; Cresswell, Ogbonna, Balbuena, Fredericks; Rice, Noble, Yarmolenko, Anderson, Snodgrass, Haller.

Arsenal: Leno; Kolasinac, Sokratis, Luiz, Bellerin, Xhaka, Torreira, Ozil, Pepe, Aubameyang, Lacazette.


What they’re saying

West Ham’s Antonio sees an opportunity: “The only three teams that are really performing are Liverpool, Leicester and Man City. Everyone else is getting beaten, and it means we’ve had a missed opportunity so far this season. We started the season off brightly, the best start we’ve had for four years, but then we’ve had a slump. Everyone’s having a slump and this is our slump. Now it’s time for us to start turning up. We’ve been in this situation before and we know how to dig in and pull ourselves up again.”

Arsenal’s Ljungberg on setting targets: “I don’t think we should stop talking about the top four, but for us it’s about concentrating on what we’re doing here now and not look up, down, sideways. We just need to work on our own game and our own confidence.”


Prediction

Really, you wouldn’t want to predict anything from these sides right now besides goals. We’ll give an edge in desperation to the hosts and a 2-2 draw.

La Liga: Sevilla held at Osasuna, Getafe maintains UCL fight

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Sevilla was held to a 1-1 draw at 10-man Osasuna on Sunday, giving both Real Madrid and Barcelona space at the top of the La Liga table.

Munir El Haddadi put the visitors 1-0 up just 11 minutes in, but Ezequiel Avila struck just before halftime to share the points. Sevilla was held to just two total shots through the opening 45 minutes, and despite Osasuna defender Oier Olazabal being shown a second yellow card with 29 minutes to go, Sevilla still managed just 11 total efforts through the 90 minutes, with four on target.

Getafe continued its battle for a top four spot as they won 1-0 on the road at Eibar. Angel Rodriguez bagged his eighth goal of the season to secure the win, cropping up in the 67th minute to finally put Getafe through. They had been turning the screw for some time, forcing Marko Dmitrovic into a pair of big saves just before the opener which came from an absurdly tight angle after Angel had rounded the goalkeeper. The win leaves them fourth, level with Real Sociedad on 27 points.

They were allowed to close the gap after Real Sociedad was held scoreless in a 0-0 draw at 14th placed Real Valladolid. The visitors put just two of their 14 shots on net, and dropped to fifth thanks to Getafe holding the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Athletic Club also fell back in the race for a top four spot, dropping a 3-2 decision on the road at Real Betis. Joaquin scored a first-half hat-trick, with all three goals coming in the opening 20 minutes to give him five in his last three games. Inaki Williams brought Athletic Bilbao one back before halftime from the spot, and Yuri Berchiche made things interesting with a minute to go, but that was all they could muster as the visitors fell to sixth on 26 points, above Atletico Madrid on goal differential with the two yet to play head-to-head.

Celta Vigo made it interesting as Iago Aspas scored a man-down goal, but Leganes held on for a 3-2 win over the 10-man visitors. Oscar Rodriguez had a first-half brace to help the hosts to a 3-0 lead, but Nestor Araujo and Aspas helped Celta Vigo make things interesting. Still, a 71st minute second yellow card for halftime substitute Gabriel Fernandez hampered the visitors in their efforts for a comeback, leaving Celta Vigo in the relegation zone, a point back of safety, with Leganes is four points behind them in 19th.

Gerrard reacts to Rangers’ Old Firm heartbreak in final

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Steven Gerrard lined his Rangers side up for success, but fate was cruel to the Liverpool legend.

Rangers lost the League Cup Final to their Old Firm rivals on Sunday despite out-shooting the Bhoys by a 16-5 margin, winning a penalty, and playing almost a half-hour up a man.

[ RECAP: Rangers 0-1 Celtic ]

“To a man we were very good … by much the better side,” Gerrard said. “But unfortunately that’s not what gets you a trophy.”

But Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster stopped Alfredo Morelos’ penalty, three minutes after goal scorer Christopher Jullien was offside on the lone goal of the game.

Scotland doesn’t yet use VAR, and Gerrard doesn’t love VAR but he likes it more than he likes Scottish officials.

“There were three Celtic players standing in offside positions but unfortunately we play in a country where there is no VAR,” he said, via the BBC. “I’d be a liar if I said I was 100% in favour of it, but the one thing I do know is that officials up here need support.”

Now he has the task of getting his men to rebound ahead of its biggest non-derby in ages, as Rangers need at least a draw against Young Boys at home on Thursday to advance to the Europa League knockout rounds

“It’s a bit raw right now… It’s up to me to pick the players up. One thing I will say is I’ll stay with these players on the evidence of today because they gave me absolutely everything. We might have to suffer a bit short-term. I need to pick them up a bit physically and mentally for Thursday which is huge but our day will come on the evidence of today.”

Gerrard has done a very good job with Rangers, who are two points back of Celtic in a two-horse race for the Scottish top flight title. Celtic has won eight-straight titles to improve their total to 50, four less than the Rangers.