Swansea 1-2 Arsenal: Quickfire Gunners double downs Swans as Arsenal top table

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With Manchester City, Manchester United, and Chelsea all slipping up earlier on, Arsenal pounced on their chance to seize the top of the table.

A game billed as the two most beautiful styles of play in the Premier League saw Aaron Ramsey and Serge Gnabry pound the Gunners through 2-1 at Liberty Stadium.

Swansea started on top, as they pressed high up the pitch and didn’t leave Ozil and company with any space to work.  The midfield seemed to be where the battle would be won or lost, as both sides proved up for the match.

Ramsey started well for Arsenal to try and counter Swansea’s pressing with his physicality, and even dragged a shot just wide in the 14th minute.  This midfield play from Ramsey allowed Arsenal to gain more possession and eventually take hold of the game.

The home side did well to keep the Gunners out early – they had opened the scoring in all of their first five Premier League matches, all inside the first 23 minutes.

source: Getty Images
8 goals in 8 games for Aaron Ramsey this season as his score proved the difference.

The game sped up and slowed down over and over, like someone pressing the rewind and pause button on their DVR.  The best chance of the first half fell to Olivier Giroud, who appeared to twist his ankle just before extra time, but came back and fizzed a low shot just wide of Michel Vorm’s goal on the stroke of halftime.

Swansea began the second half firmly on the counter-attack, and it almost appeared that Arsenal seemed lost in possession, instead wishing they were the side playing on the counter.

Finally the breakthrough came int he 58th minute, with Ramsey brilliantly laying off to Gnabry in penalty-area traffic, and the 18-year-old slotted it by Vorm for his first Premier League goal.

It was a foreshadow of things to come, as the Arsenal side blistered with confidence following the opening.  Just three minutes later Ramsey won the ball with a pinpoint slide tackle, and he received the ball back from Giroud before touching once and finishing high. Its his eighth goal in eight games across all competitions this season.

Swansea pushed hard for an opportunity to get back into the game, and they got one back in the 82nd minute. Ben Davies made a run down the left side, and Wilfried Bony played a fantastic one-two with him, one-touching a lofted pass over the defense back to Davies who finished past Szczesny.

The goal gave the Swans hope and they threw everything they had at Arsenal in the final ten minutes, but it wasn’t enough as Arsenal bent but didn’t break to close it out.

The win now has Arsene Wenger’s side by themselves in first place with 15 points out of a possible 18.  It was a valiant effort by the home side, but against a top team in top form, they fell just short.  The loss leaves Swansea mired in the middle of the table on seven points, but many would expect to see them climb in the coming weeks.

Goals:

Arsenal – Gnabry 58′, Ramsey 62′
Swansea – Davies 82′

Lineups:

Swansea – Vorm; Amat, Chico, Tiendalli, Davies; Shelvey (Bony, 58′), Dyer, Routledge (Pozuelo, 64′), De Guzman, Canas; Michu.

Arsenal – Sczcesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Wilshire (Jenkinson, 90′), Flamini; Ramsey, Ozil (Monreal, 88′), Gnabry (Arteta, 77′); Giroud.

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

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West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

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In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.