West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Arsenal: Wilshere strike seals away point but Arsenal yearn for more

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Arsenal came back from a losing position to pick up a point at The Hawthornes and go top of the Premier League table with a 1-1 draw, but will wish they could have made more of their relative domination.

Jack Wilshere’s deflected shot found the back of the net to cancel out Claudio Yacob’s first half header.

Finishing with more possession and more shots, Arsenal only put five shots on target and could not unlock the West Brom defense to find a winner.

Saido Berainho made his first Premier League start for West Brom and got things off to a hot start. He nearly put a lucky strike in the back of the net in the 15th minute, but Wojciech Szczesny did well to react to the deflection off Berainho’s shot to make the diving save.

Arsenal were searching, clawing at the West Brom in the opening half, but the central partnership of the Baggies defense kept Giroud and company relatively at bay.

As West Brom looked to get themselves into the match, they struggled to maintain possession, but a moment of perfection changed the run of play.

Having earned a corner in the 42nd minute, the corner was a poor one from Morgan Amalfitano, but the ball came back to the French winger and he fired in a pinpoint cross which Claudio Yacob banged home for the opener.

It was the first time all season that Arsenal had conceded the first goal of a match, this season, a streak of 15 matches in all competitions dating back to last season.

source: Getty Images
Claudio Yacob and West Brom will be happy to hold the Premier League leaders to a point at home.

West Brom seemed to have new life after scoring, and it translated into the second half.

Less than two minutes into the second half, the Baggies nearly had another.  On the break, Berainho sent in an absolutely brilliant low cross – so good that Nicolas Anelka was surprised that it found his feet and didn’t react in time before his momentum carried him out of danger to Szczesny’s goal.

Five minutes later, Anelka got another chance but again he couldn’t put it on net, dragging his shot just wide from a very tight angle.

Arsenal began to work themselves back wide, something that had been sorely lacking in the first half.  Wenger brought off Aaron Ramsey, who was struggling on the wing, and brought on Tomas Rosicky. The change sparked the squad, and they responded.

Olivier Giroud won himself some space, and he found Rosicky in the box.  The winger laid it off to Jack Wilshere, who unleashed a powerful strike that took a deflection just enough to cause Jaaskelainen to hesitate and the ball found the goal.

Arsenal, now level, returned to their dominating ways of early in the first half, but struggled to find another final product for the win.

West Bromwich Albion climb out of the relegation zone with the three points, moving all the way up to 12th with nine points and sends them off to Stoke City next with a chance to go top 10.

GOALS

West Bromwich Albion – Yacob 42′
Arsenal – Wilshere 63′

LINEUPS:

West Bromwich Albion – Myhill; Olsson, Ridgewell, McAuley, Jones; Yacob, Mulumbu, Sessegnon (Morrison, 78′), Amalfitano (Brunt, 89′); Anelka (Long, 69′), Berainho.

Arsenal – Szczesny; Mertesacker, Koscienly, Jenkinson, Gibbs; Arteta, Wilshere, Ramsey (Rosicky, 59′), Flamini, Ozil; Giroud (Bendtner, 85′).

Reina faces hearing over links with trio connected to mafia

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ROME (AP) Outgoing Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina has been summoned to a hearing at the Italian football federation over his association with people with links to the mafia.

Reina, along with Paolo Cannavaro and Salvatore Aronica, is to face the FIGC’s disciplinary committee after an investigation by Naples’ anti-mafia department.

It is reportedly one of the reasons why Napoli decided not to renew Reina’s contract, with the former Liverpool goalkeeper set to move to AC Milan on a free transfer.

The FIGC says Reina “has had and continues to have inopportune association and friendship with Gabriele Esposito, Francesco Esposito and Giuseppe Esposito.” It adds that that includes holidays and “an exchange of favors.”

Cannavaro, who had two spells with Napoli, retired at Sassuolo last year. Aronica also spent several years at the southern club before joining Palermo in 2013.

Iran names initial squad for World Cup

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) Jalal Hosseini and Vouria Ghaffouri have both been left off Iran’s provisional 24-man squad for the World Cup.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz did not say why Hosseini, a Persepolis defender, and Ghaffouri were not included.

There was space for midfielders Masoud Shojaei and Ehsan Hajsafi, however. Both played with Greek club Panionios against Maccabi Tel Aviv in August 2017. Iran does not recognize Israel and its supreme leader has threatened the country in the past. Both Shojaei and Hajsafi missed matches with the national team after the game.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh, a 24-year-old forward who plays in the Netherlands with AZ Alkmaar, is also in the squad, which was announced Sunday.

In the midfield, Queiroz chose Saeid Ezatolahi, although the Amkar Perm player will miss the team’s first World Cup match because he was given a red card in a game against South Korea in qualifying.

Nottingham Forest midfielder Ashkan Dejagah was also chosen.

Goalkeeper Amir Abedzadeh of Portuguese club Maritimo made the squad. His father, Ahmadreza Abedzadeh, was Iran captain and goalkeeper at the 1998 World Cup in France.

Iran will play in Group B at the World Cup with Portugal, Spain and Morocco. The team will play warm-up matches in Turkey and Greece before heading to Russia.

Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Rashid Mazaheri (Zob Ahan), Amir Abedzadeh (Maritimo)

Defenders: Ramin Rezaeian (KV Oostende), Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (Padideh), Morteza Pouraliganji (Al Saad), Pejman Montazeri (Esteghlal), Seyed Majid Hosseini (Esteghlal), Milad Mohammadi (Akhmat Grozny), Roozbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal)

Midfielders: Saeid Ezatolahi (Amkar Perm), Masoud Shojaei (AEK Athens), Mehdi Torabi (Saipa), Ashkan Dejagah (Nottingham Forest), Omid Ebrahimi (Esteghlal), Ehsan Hajsafi (Olympiakos), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis), Saman Ghoddos (Ostersunds FK), Ali Gholizadeh (Saipa)

Forwards: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar), Karim Ansarifard (Olympiakos), Mahdi Taremi (Al-Gharafa Sports Club), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan), Reza Ghoochannejhad (SC Heerenveen)

Six Premier Leaguers named to Argentina, but no Icardi

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Argentina’s World Cup roster features a number of the usual suspects, particularly up front, but Serie A’s top goalscorer has been surprisingly left off the list of 23.

[ MORE: Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan ]

Manager Jorge Sampaoli’s squad was made official on Monday, which includes the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.

The Albiceleste won’t be taking Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi though, which has raised some questions about the decision.

Icardi led all scorers in Italy’s top flight this season, scoring 29 goals in 34 Serie A matches, while Paulo Dybala edged out the final striker spot in the Argentina squad.

Dybala is teammates with Higuain at Italian giants Juventus.

Meanwhile, six Premier League players were named into the South American nation’s squad, including goalkeepers Sergio Romero (Man United) and Willy Caballero (Chelsea), as well as Nicolas Otamendi (Man City), Marcos Rojo (Man United) and Manuel Lanzini (West Ham).

Men in Blazers POD: FA Cup recap, UCL final preview and more

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Rog and Davo recap a spite-fueled, snear-filled, peak Phil Jones FA Cup Final, preview this weekend’s Champions League tilt between Liverpool and Real Madrid and eulogize Big Sam… gone the opposite of too soon. Plus, World Cup rosters and MLS.

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