Premier League Roundup: Wins for Arsenal, Newcastle, Chelsea, Palace and wild Merseyside draw

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Well, well, well, that was fun.

Seven fantastic games took center stage on Saturday as the Premier League returned with a bang.

The Merseyside derby delivered one of the most enthralling encounters the league has seen in quite some time, while big wins for Arsenal and Chelsea ramped up the tension at the top of the table.

Did you miss any of it? If you did, it’s okay, chill out, we’ve got you covered.

Drink in our recaps, highlights and all that other good stuff from every PL game during Saturday’s Week 12.

Enjoy.

Arsenal 2-0 Southampton

The Gunners stretched their lead at the top of the table to four points but Saints certainly shot themselves in the foot. Olivier Giroud scored both goals courtesy of a goalkeeping howler for Artur Boruc in the first half and a second half penalty kick late on. Southampton pressed by Arsenal contained them easily.

Everton 3-3 Liverpool

What. A. Game. This has to go down as the game of the season so far. It had it all. Philippe Coutinho put Liverpool ahead, Kevin Mirallas equalized then Luis Suarez put the Reds 2-1 ahead at half time with a stunning free kick. After the break Everton pushed for an qualizer and Joe Allen spurned a glorious chance to put Liverpool 3-1 up before Romelu Lukaku struck twice to put the Toffees 3-2 up late on. However, there was one more twist in this tale as substitute Daniel Sturridge scored late on to equalize and give both sides a deserved point. Wow, this will go down as a classic Merseyside derby.

Fulham 1-2 Swansea City

The Cottagers keeping slipping down the table and are entrenched in a relegation battle after yet another poor results. Swansea took the lead after Aaron Hughes put into this own net but a terrific strike from Scott Parker leveled things up. Swansea grabbed the winner late on through Jonjo Shelvey as the sub worked his magic with a cool finish.

Hull 0-1 Crystal Palace

The Eagles grabbed their first win since the second weekend of the season with a gritty display away at Hull. Barry Bannan got the game-winner in the second half as caretaker boss Keith Millen signed off with a win as newly-appointed boss Tony Pulis can now see plenty of light at the end of the tunnel.

Newcastle 2-1 Norwich City

A superb start for the Magpies saw them lead 2-0 at half time thanks to goals from Loic Remy and Yoan Gouffran. Alan Pardew’s men took their foot off the gas in the second half and Norwich piled forward to try and get back in the game. Leroy Fer’s header gave them some hope but Newcastle held on to rise into the top half of the table.

Stoke 2-0 Sunderland

The Potters were extremely relieved to see this game out after a dogged Sunderland outfit pushed them all the way. Stoke went ahead through Charlie Adam in the first half and then Wes Brown was inexplicably sent off for the Black Cats moments later. The away side still rallied and had a few efforts in the second half but Steven Nzonzi finished off the win.

West Ham United 0-3 Chelsea

Chelsea did all the damage early on in this one as Oscar won a penalty kick that Frank Lampard converted and the Brazilian playmaker then scored a stunning second before half time to put the Blues 2-0 up. Lampard finished the Hammers off in the second half as he added his second and Chelsea’s third late on.

Burning Question: Who is the best player in North America right now?

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It’s a question many have tried to answer recently, and now it’s ProSoccerTalk’s chance to give a verdict of their own: Who is the best player in North America right now.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Knowing the loyalty of the devout Liga MX fan, the following statement may make a few onlookers cringe, or become enraged: Carlos Vela is currently the best player in North America. Period.

Truthfully, it shouldn’t take more than 15 seconds to generate such an answer. The question should instead be: What player comes at a touching distance from 31-year-old Vela?

Carlos Vela has been on a legendary streak since arriving in Los Angeles from San Sebastian, scoring for fun. Literally, scoring for fun – when he wants, how he wants: long or short range chips, stunning volleys, headers, from the spot, 30-yard runs leading to gentle tap-ins, free kicks, you name it. In numbers, it reads more like a humble 57 goals in 71 appearances.

That’s a healthy goal-per-game-ratio.

And to be clear, goalscorers aren’t the only type of players that qualify for the sweepstakes – supreme talent doesn’t discriminate. But in this case it just happens to be that an inverted winger, with a penchant for goal, happens to outdo not only every player in MLS, but in every other North American top-flight contest, including Liga MX.

And perhaps scoring goals isn’t his ultimate quality – Vela’s dynamism, agility and tenacity are at the core of his magic. There’s a reason why he’s considered the most talented Mexican player of his generation.

Still tough to accept? Ask yourself this: Who was the last player in North America that Josep Maria Bartomeu and Barcelona went after?

You guessed right – Vela. The Spanish giants know a thing or two about scouting elite talent, don’t they?

Transfer news: Kane to Real Madrid, Alexis Sanchez to West Ham

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The latest transfer news continues across the Premier League and here’s a look at some of the juiciest rumors.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

According to Sport, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has his sights set on signing Tottenham striker Harry Kane this summer.

With Luka Jovic failing to impress at the Santiago Bernabeu, Los Blancos are set to make some moves to consolidate the presence up top. Kane, 26, and Wolves striker Raul Jimenez are some of the few names to have been mentioned thus far.

Kane, who has a running contract with Spurs until 2024, recently mentioned that he wouldn’t rule out a move out of north London, if Tottenham were unable to capitalize on winning silverware.

“I’m an ambitious player, I want to improve, I want to get better, I want to become one of the top, top players,” Kane said earlier this month. “It all depends on what happens as a team and how we progress as a team. So it’s not a definite I’m going to stay there forever – but it’s not a no either.”

As far as transfers go, nothing gets bigger and more “ambitious” than a summer blockbuster move to Real Madrid. Kane has a promising project spearheaded by Jose Mourinho himself at his boyhood club, but the opportunity to represent Real Madrid – at such a prime age, with an astronomical amount of hype – may only come around once.


Alexis Sanchez’s time at Inter Milan is coming to a close, and his next destination may be a Premier League team not named Manchester United, according to FC Inter News.

The 31-year-old Chilean’s agent, Fernando Felicevich, has reportedly been inquired by West Ham, who are considering placing a bid to lure the winger out of Old Trafford.

Sanchez arrived at Inter last summer on loan but has failed to impress when healthy, recording a mere goal and three assist in 15 appearances this season. With the possibilities of Sanchez remaining at Manchester United past the summer getting slimmer by the day, the Hammers are hoping to land the South American at a reduced price.

Sanchez, one of United’s highest earners, is reportedly also gathering interest from other unnamed Premier League and Bundesliga sides.

Belarusian Premier League roundup: FC Energetik-BGU edge FC Minsk, moves to top of league

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The Belarusian Premier League – the only active European top-flight league at the moment – continued on Sunday despite the coronavirus pandemic.

FC Energetik-BGU 2-0 FC Minsk 

FC Energetik-BGU are the new leaders of the Belarusian Premier League, following a 2-0 victory over FC Minsk, who were atop of the table prior to Sunday’s bout.

Aleksey Nosko broke the deadlock in the 21st minute, while winger Jasurbek Yakhshiboev sealed the victory for the hosts in stoppage time.

With the victory, Energetik-BGU are the only unbeaten team in the league after three matchweeks, winning all three matches. The positive spell began with a 3-1 against Belarus giants BATE Boristov. Since, Energetik-BGU have scored three goals, while managing to concede none.

Slutsk, who also featured on Sunday, moved up to second on the table following a hard-earned 3-2 victory over Isloch, which saw them play the final minutes of the match with 10 players.

Elsewhere in Belarusian Premier League 

Smolevichi-STI 0-0 Vitebsk

Isloch 2-3 Slutsk

Spanish players criticize league’s call for furloughs

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MADRID (AP) Soccer players in Spain on Sunday criticized the Spanish league’s decision to ask clubs to put the footballers on government furloughs during the coronavirus crisis.

The league on Friday said the furloughs were needed because there was no agreement on the size of the salary cuts players must take to reduce the financial impact of the pandemic.

“It is strange that the Liga supports (the furloughs),” Spain’s players’ association said in a statement.

It said the league should have created a financial cushion for this period considering it always boasted about its “economic control measures” and the “well-balanced economy” of the Spanish clubs. The association said it also should be taken into account that the league has been temporarily suspended and not yet canceled.

The league and the players’ association have been in talks to try to find ways to mitigate losses that could reach nearly 1 billion euros ($1.08 billion) if the season cannot be restarted because of the pandemic.

The players said they agree with a salary reduction to help the clubs during the crisis, but not to the extent the league wants, which could amount to nearly half of the total losses if the competition is not resumed.

Players said they want to keep negotiating directly with the clubs instead of being forced into furloughs.

“The clubs and the players have been reaching agreements regarding the salaries,” the players’ association said. “What footballers are not going to do is relinquish labor rights.”

Barcelona and Atlético Madrid are among the Spanish clubs requesting furloughs, but both directly negotiated the amount of the salary reduction with players — 70% in both cases. Both clubs and their players are contributing to guarantee the wages of non-playing employees being furloughed.

The government furloughs help reduce the clubs’ labor costs while also guaranteeing players their jobs once the crisis is over.

Spain has more than 130,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with nearly 12,500 deaths. The nation is expected to remain in a lockdown until April 26.

There is no timetable for the return of the Spanish league.

Players maintained their position to only resume competing when health authorities deem it safe for everyone’s heath, a view also shared by the Spanish league.

The league has suggested it will recommend teams start mini-camp while the lockdown is still in place, if it’s possible to do so within the restrictions imposed by authorities.

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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