Referee Mike Dean’s record in Arsenal matches will continue to be scrutinized

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Referee Mike Dean did nothing to assuage the North London conspiracy theorists, who see way beyond mere coincidence in Arsenal’s bleak record when this particular veteran official mans the middle.

According to (admittedly unverified independently) reports, Arsenal’s record now stands at a rather inglorious 1-9-6 (W-L-T) since the 2009-10 season in contests with Dean in charge.

That wouldn’t be such a big, hairy, scary and telling number if we were speaking of Crystal Palace or Sunderland or some other bedraggled side from the relegation brigade. But this is Arsenal, a club that fights for top-four stuff each year.

The Daily Mail’s enlightening report on all this from a few months back made the comparison between Arsenal’s meager mark and the far better records for Manchester United and Chelsea with Dean in charge.

But it’s not just the raw data that is rubbing Gunners supporters so, well, “raw” tonight. All but one of the big refereeing decisions from Monday’s heavy-weather clash with Chelsea went the way of the Blues. (Stating the presumed obvious here, Dean was in charge of Monday’s derby.)

There was Jon Obi Mikel’s awful challenge on Mike Arteta, a real potential leg breaker there. It certainly looked red card-worthy, a sentiment agreed upon by members of NBC’s broadcast team. (Considering Mikel’s good work on Gunners playmaker Mesut Ozil, the dour match may have looked quite a bit different had Chelsea’s defensive midfielder been sent off 10 minutes prior to intermission.)

(MORE: Arsenal and Chelsea go scoreless on night of weather, refereeing talk)

Minutes later came the home team’s penalty appeal as Willian tripped Theo Walcott inside the 18. U.S. international goalkeeper Tim Howard – who no longer has that vaguely menacing beard to potentially distract his view – was guesting once again for NBCSN, and he said he would have pointed to the spot, no doubt.

Later a dangerously high challenge from Branislav Ivanovic on Ozil nearly put things into “full-on” donnybrook alert. That one drew no booking, either.

Report: Southampton could sell Tadic to Ajax for $20m

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Could Southampton be selling one of its most creative forces?

Dusan Tadic, 29, is in the middle of a World Cup run with dark horse Serbia, but the Saints star is also being talked about as a purchase item for Ajax.

[ MORE: Serbia tops Costa Rica ]

The celebrated Eredivisie has traditionally been a selling club for the Premier League, but could be a $20 million buy for Ajax.

The report says director of players Marc Overmars and financial director Jeroen Slop have flown to Southampton to work out a deal.

Tadic starred for Dutch sides Groningen and Twente between 2010-14 before moving to St. Mary’s for a reported $12 million.

He’s scored 24 goals with 35 assists in 162 appearances for Saints, 21 and 30 of which came in the Premier League.

Toronto locks down USMNT backstop Bono with extension

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Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono is going to stay Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

The newly-capped USMNT backstop, 24, has been attracting interest from abroad since breaking past Clint Irwin to win the TFC job and guiding the club to multiple MLS Cup Finals.

Now general manager Tim Bezbatchenko has locked down his young goalkeeper to an undisclosed contract extension. From TorontoFC.com:

“Alex was a big part of our success last season. He set club records for wins and clean sheets and was a critical piece of our championship team,” said Toronto FC Sr. Vice-President, Soccer Operations & General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Since joining the club as a first round pick in 2015, Alex’s ability to make key saves in big moments has been critical to our success.”

The Syracuse-born product of Syracuse University has made 64 appearances for the Reds.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 8 — Argentina on the edge; France aims for berth

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France, Denmark, and Croatia can clinch knockout round berths on Thursday in Russia, the last nation also holding the opportunity to help deprive the World Cup of an extended Lionel Messi run.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Messi’s Argentina drew Iceland in its opener, the megastar infamously missing a penalty, and will look to beat a Croatian side that looked quite good in dispatching Nigeria.

That’s the final match of the day, which begins with Denmark facing Australia and continues with a tasty match-up between France and Peru.

Below is Thursday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Wednesday, June 20

Group C
Denmark vs. Australia: Samara, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
France vs. Peru: Yekaterinburg, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group D
Argentina vs. Croatia: Nizhny Novgorod, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Halted World Cup flip-throw heard around the world

AP Photo/Sergei Grits
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Milad Mohammadi knew the time was right for something special, but special isn’t always good.

And good is a subjective term. Cause to us this is very good, Milad.

The Iranian national team defender failed with a flip-throw bid in the final moments of a 1-0 loss to Spain on Wednesday at the World Cup in Russia.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

And this wasn’t like he illegally flipped or broke some other rule. No, like a kid trying an audacious jump into the deep end, Akhmat Grozny star Mohammadi just bailed and climbed in from the side (so to speak).

The kiss, the look skyward, the headbutt… all integral parts of a wonderful World Cup moment.