Cardiff City 0-3 Arsenal: Aaron Ramsey fantastic against his old side (video)

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Arsenal remain top of the table after their 3-0 victory over Cardiff, pulling seven points clear of Liverpool and Chelsea, both who play tomorrow.

Right from the start, it looked as though there’d be no chance for Cardiff. It took just a minute for Jack Wilshere to hit the woodwork, jumping on to a ball from Aaron Ramsey and letting fly from the edge of the area. But Cardiff didn’t let it get them down, with the Bluebirds grabbing a great chance ten minutes in. Kévin Théophile-Catherine got away down the right and sent in his cross, but Frazier Campbell’s header went just wide.

Fifteen minutes in, Olivier Giroud missed a wonderful opportunity to put his side ahead. Again it was Ramsey with the through ball, but the forward thought he was offside and stopped clean…only to look over and see there was no flag raised. Needless to say, Arsène Wenger looked none too pleased.

But the Arsenal manager couldn’t help but smile when Ramsey put his side ahead just before the half hour mark. Mesut Özil took off down the left while Ramsey timed his run perfectly in the center. The Welshman got his head to the cross and left David Marshall no chance as the ball looped into the back of the net. The whole of Cardiff City Stadium rose to its feet and, with mutual respect, Ramsey did not celebrate his goal against his former club.

The hosts weren’t quite as accommodating after the restart, however. Once again, the dangerous Ramsey was busy getting the ball into a dangerous area. He pulled back for Giroud to take a shot and, with Marshall out of position, it looked like it would be simple enough for Arsenal to double their lead. Instead, Cardiff defender Ben Turner came rushing in to rescue his side.

Shortly after, the Bluebirds very nearly managed an equalizer, with Frazier Campbell rising above Kieran Gibbs to send in a header. It was only impressive reflexes from Wojciech Szczesny that kept Cardiff out of the game — and seconds later, the Arsenal goalkeeper was back again, this time stopping a shot from Steven Caulker. The pressure continued, with Peter Whittingham’s shot blocked before Szczesny was called into action again, this time preventing a goal from Kévin Théophile-Catherine.

But it was Arsenal that had the last word, scoring two in the second half and sealing their lead at the top of the table. It was Mathieu Flamini, grabbing his first goal in his second stint with the Gunners. Özil was once again the provider, setting up the Frenchman to send it into the top right corner. Then it was Ramsey getting his second, off a lovely counter attack. Ramsey fed Theo Walcott, on moments before for Özil. Walcott looked like he had half a mind to take the shot himself, but instead returned it back to Ramsey, who had no trouble putting it in for Arsenal’s third goal.

Cardiff: Marshall, Taylor (Cornelius 87), Caulker, Turner, Whittingham, Medel, Campbell (Odemwingie 65), Kim (Noone 75), Mutch, Cowie, Theophile-Catherine

Subs not used: Lewis, Hudson, Gunnarsson, Bellamy

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere (Monreal 81), Ramsey, Ozil (Walcott 90), Cazorla (Flamini 77), Giroud

Subs not used: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Rosicky, Gnabry

Goals: Ramsey 29′, Flamini 86′, Ramsey 90′

The 2 Robbies: Talking Liverpool, Manchester, Spurs at Man Utd

AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth
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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle wrap up a great weekend of Premier League action. Liverpool took all three points against Crystal Palace. The guys chat about the mood in the United dressing room (12:40) and the opposite feelings across Manchester as Man City thrashed Huddersfield (25:30). We wrap up looking ahead to the big one: Manchester United vs Tottenham next week (33:30).

[ RECAP: Palace 0-2 Liverpool ]

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Report: Woodward to appoint director of football at Manchester United

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Manchester United CEO Ed Woodward is readying a change to the hierarchy at Old Trafford as he attempts to steady the ship, and it’s not the removal of controversial manager Jose Mourinho.

The Manchester Evening News is reporting that Woodward will appoint a director of football at the club to help ease the burden after growing frustration from Mourinho and supporters following a summer with few transfer buys.

[ MORE: Klopp on beating Palace ]

Mourinho lamented the lack of additions in the summer after he gave a specific list of center back targets to Woodward and got exactly zero of them.

Now after beating Leicester City and losing at Brighton, United could be in a bad position early if they cannot manage a positive performance against visiting Tottenham on Aug. 27.

And MEN reports that Woodward is eager to get himself out of “the firing line.”

United have not held back when it comes to issuing press releases boasting about their many commercial partners, but there has been a quiet revamp of the club’s academy, scouting network and training ground facilities behind the scenes.

One of the final steps is bringing in a director of football – something many United fans have been crying out for following the club’s patchy transfer record with Woodward at the helm.

Woodward is not going to appoint anyone who would undermine his decisions, and the hire could speak volumes about Mourinho’s future, short or long.

Second week second-guessing Premier League table predictions

AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth
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The transfer window had just closed when ProSoccerTalk’s staff made their predictions for the 2018-19 season.

For the most part, the first two weeks of the Premier League season have cemented this writer’s faith in his projections.

[ RECAP: Palace 0-2 Liverpool ]

In four cases, however, being allowed some Monday mulligans would have me moving teams more than one spot in my predicted table.

Moving up

Spurs (Predicted 6th; New spot 3rd) –> The worries I have about Dele Alli returning to world-beating status have been quelled by Lucas Moura‘s newfound comfort in creating Premier League chances. Tottenham’s defenders the same. Next Monday’s trip to Manchester United will say a lot about both clubs. And hanging onto Toby Alderweireld instead of allowing him to steady Manchester United’s creaky back line was smart.

Watford (Predicted 18th; New spot 12th) — Don’t get us wrong, the Hornets have not done much yet. Beating a Europa League weary and shallow Burnley isn’t a great feat, though their home defeat of Brighton is a bit more impressive after the Gulls knocked off Man Utd. That said, Javi Gracia‘s men have a clear plan to get service to Troy Deeney and Andre Gray, and terrific playmakers in Roberto Pereyra and Abdoulaye Doucoure. They are better than relegation fodder, and should finish 7-10 points clear of the drop.

Moving down

Manchester United (Predicted 2nd; New spot 5th) –> United probably would’ve drawn Brighton on Sunday had they a few extra minutes on the clock, but there’s a chance Leicester would’ve done the same to them on Opening Day if afforded the same opportunity. Is Eric Bailly the proactive wall we saw versus the Foxes or, well, the reactive problem he was at Brighton?

I believed the start of the season and return to fitness for so many World Cup players would dispel the odious scent from Jose Mourinho’s offseason obnoxiousness. It hasn’t, and it’s going to cost the team the Top Four. That said, I’ll hedge a little and say United’s players may make a decent Champions League run if given a good group stage draw.

Wolves (Predicted 13th; New spot 17th) –> I thought Wolves had enough firepower to challenge for a top half spot, but Nuno Espirito Santo’s side looks incapable of keeping dangerous chances away from goalkeeper Rui Patricio, who can only do so much.

Klopp: Let’s not worry about sending statements to Man City

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Jurgen Klopp thought both his Liverpool and hosts Crystal Palace were feeling exhausted in the second half of the Reds’ 2-0 win at Selhurst Park, so he loudly threatened to murder his players.

Okay, okay, that’s not exactly true, but you be the judge: He got a goal out of it.

[ RECAP: Palace 0-2 Liverpool ]

“In these moments the fuel is really low and maybe the players need a bit of help from an angry manager, ‘Run or I will kill you,’ and they did that with a fantastic counter attack,” Klopp said.

Cool. That said, Klopp pointed tot his team’s commitment to fitness as a reason for their win.

“Second half both teams, you could see Crystal Palace maybe struggle a little bit more than we did but it was for us very intense as well,” he said. “We had these big chances, didn’t use them. They had their moments when Alisson had to make a few saves. The save on the free kick was outstanding. I know we have to play much better but for tonight I’m absolutely fine with that.”

Klopp bristled when asked about meeting Man City’s 6-1 defeat of Huddersfield Town with a fairly complete performance against Palace.

 “I am not interested in sending statement to Manchester City or anyone else. We want to win football games and that’s what we did tonight.”