Arsenal: Three things we learned in the 1-0 win over Southampton

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Wednesday’s 1-0 win was a key victory for Arsenal, not just because it brought them closer to the top 4 and it was the second in a row after a string of unimpressive results but because, arguably, they deserved it.

The Gunners controlled the match, enjoying a 59/41 advantage in possession, a 19/4 edge in attempts on goal and a 9/4 advantage in corners. But more than that, they dictated the play. Yes, Southampton had a few chances and, at times, looked dangerous down the right side but in the end it was Arsenal who determined the outcome.

Three quick takes on the Gunners…

Arsenal Like It Late

They may have endured some disappointing results and may not be dominating matches like they’d prefer but Arsenal are proving themselves fighters who love to snatch points late. Wednesday marked the sixth time this Premier League season – against Crystal Palace, Everton, Manchester City, Tottenham, Hull City and Southampton – where the Gunners have scored in the final twenty minutes of a match to either split the points or win.

Quite a telling stat, especially when so many fans are asking for Wenger’s head. Yes, the manager should have brought in a central defender and holding midfielder last summer but he clearly has the backing of the squad as they play for him until the dying moments. Moreover, Wenger still makes those late changes that alter the match. Which brings us to our second point…

Olivier Giroud Is A Gamechanger Off The Bench

Wenger seems to have settled on Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez as his preferred strike pairing — one tall, one short, both blessed with speed that Olivier Giroud simply doesn’t have. On Wednesday, Giroud’s substitution changed the game for Arsenal and the fact that the Frenchman came in for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain showed a real stroke of intent by Wenger to win the match.

Upon entering the game Giroud immediately freed himself up, nearly scoring on a left-footed blast that Fraser Forster did well to keep in front of him. One minute later and Giroud showed his skill and keen passing ability, linking up with Sanchez and back-heeling Welbeck through on goal. With Forster looking superhuman, one wondered what it would take to find the back of the net and in the end that answer was Giroud, battling hard in the trenches, missing a volley but freeing up space for Aaron Ramsey to find Sanchez on the cross. It was yeoman’s work for Giroud, who is anything but just a big body. But make no mistake about it, on Wednesday he was a complete game-changer.

Emiliano Martinez Coming Along Nicely

No, he won’t be replacing Wojciech Szczesny as the starting goalkeeper but Emiliano Martinez has impressed recently. After making several key saves to protect a 2-1 win away at Anderlecht in October, he kept a clean sheet in the 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund last Wednesday, a second in the 1-0 victory over West Brom last Saturday and a third in today’s victory over Southampton. With a calm, composed demeanor, Martinez has put himself in a good position to be called on in future instances of peril. In time Szczesny will return as the top keeper and Ospina will likely remain the backup but don’t be surprised if in the near future Martinez gets loaned out to a decent side.

Solskjaer hits out at criticism of players, leagues

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Man United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes the Premier League and soccer in general have become an easy target amid the coronavirus pandemic.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The Man United manager joined our partners at Sky Sports in the UK to discuss life during the nationwide lockdown in the UK and was asked about criticism of clubs and players as talks continue about wage cuts.

“For me football is an easy target sometimes,” Solskjaer said. “For me it’s unfair to call on any individual or footballers as a group because I already know players do a great amount of work in the community, and players are doing a lot to help this situation. Discussions are taking place between players and clubs, what kind of contribution they’ll make. It’s not easy for anyone, and to be called out is not fair for me.”

The English game, including Premier League clubs, have been criticized for applying for the UK government’s furlough scheme which will pay staff 80 percent of their current wages.

Liverpool issued an apology and reversed their decision to furlough 200 staff members and Tottenham and Newcastle have been criticized for using the scheme, while players have revealed various views on whether or not the 2019-20 season should be finished or deemed null and void.

Man United have said they will not use the furlough scheme to pay their staff and Solskjaer defended any mistakes that have been made by certain clubs or owners over the past few weeks.

“Mistakes are being made and have been made by loads of people and that’s how we learn as well. Now it’s about making better decisions, good decisions, I think we all want to help the NHS, the communities, and I think it’s important every single club do what they think is right. We’re all good people, and I’m sure we all want this to be over with as soon as possible. For me it’s about following the guidelines from the government as well,” Solskjaer added.

RESULTS: Premier League March Madness Sweet 16

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Our Premier League March Madness tournament had a thrilling Sweet 16 stage as there were shocks and drubbings aplenty.

With thousands of votes cast, the Elite Eight is set up perfectly as plenty of heavyweights collide on Wednesday.

The standout results in the Sweet 16 were #12 Everton just holding on to shock #5 Man United, while #9 Arsenal edged out their north London rivals #8 Tottenham with 54.86 percent of the vote.

[ LIVE: March Madness PL hub ] 

#3 Leicester City hammered #14 Southampton in the biggest winning margin with a whopping 79.1 percent of the vote, while #1 Liverpool, #2 Man City and #6 Wolves all advanced with #4 Chelsea battling past a valiant effort by #13 Newcastle.

If you want to see the full game schedule, seedings and bracket, here is the post you need as the tournament will run all week long:

Monday: Relegation semifinals, final – Aston Villa prevailed, Norwich, Bournemouth, Watford relegated
Tuesday: Sweet 16 results in full
Wednesday: Elite Eight
Thursday: Final Four
Friday: Championship game

Plus, our own Nick Mendola handicapped the field and here is who he thinks will be the favorites to win it all and which teams you should look out for as dark horses over the next few days. His predictions are wild and Arsenal fans will want to prove he is correct and they pick up a first piece of silverware under Mikel Arteta.

Here are the full slate of results from our Sweet 16 matches as our Premier League March Madness tournament continues on Wednesday with the Elite Eight!

FIFA recommends changes to transfer window, player contracts

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FIFA have been working hard to put in place new rules during the coronavirus pandemic and the upcoming transfer window and new player contracts are at the forefront of it.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The governing body of world soccer formed a task force to cope with the outbreak of COVID-19 admitted that “it is now obvious that the current season will not end when people thought it would” and that transfer windows can be changed to fall between the 2019-20 season ending and the 2020-21 starting.

Current player contracts can also be extended to cover the time period of the current season, as many players across the planet were due to be out of contract on July 1.

Here is the breakdown of the key points published by FIFA:

  • It is proposed that contracts be extended until such time that the season does actually end. This should be in line with the original intention of the parties when the contract was signed and should also preserve sporting integrity and stability.
  • FIFA will be flexible and will allow the relevant transfer windows to be moved so they fall between the end of the old season and the start of the new season.
  • A similar principle applies to contracts due to begin when the new season starts, meaning the entry into force of such contracts is delayed until the next season actually does start.
  • FIFA strongly encourages clubs and players to work together to find agreements and solutions during the period when football is suspended.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino released the following statement as the main points centered around clubs and players working together to find solutions.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly changed all the factual circumstances around football for this season. So, FIFA, together with the stakeholders, has come up with some practical ideas and proposals to tackle these new circumstances,” Infantino explained. “Whilst this will not solve each and every problem, it should serve to bring a measure of stability and clarity to football for the foreseeable future. We hope that this collaborative effort, under the leadership of FIFA, can provide a positive example of how football can come together and show unity, solidarity and a spirit of compromise in order to face the challenging times ahead. But before these times come, one thing must be clear to everyone, especially now: health comes first, well before football.”

This is pretty monumental from FIFA and allows a lot more flexibility for players and clubs but also throws up plenty of interesting situations as players set to leave clubs this summer (Hakim Ziyech from Ajax to Chelsea for example) will now remain with their current teams for longer than expected.

The relevant governing bodies across the globe still need to agree to these recommendations, as UEFA and the Premier League can vote and agree to implement these recommendations or reject them.

But there is now a framework in place from FIFA which states that players contracted until July 1 2020 can now have their contracts extended until whenever the 2019-20 season is completed and that the transfer window should open when the 2019-20 season ends.

If there is just a short break between the 2019-20 season ends and the 2020-21 campaign begins, that could be one heck of a transfer window.

Premier League TV schedule: April 11-12

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We have over 14 hours of Premier League programming coming your way this weekend and here is your TV schedule for April 11-12.

This Saturday and Sunday we will have eight hours of programming coming your way each morning from 6 a.m. ET to 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN on your TV.

With the current 2019-20 Premier League season suspended indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have a lot of programming treats planned for you in the coming weeks and will keep you fully updated with a TV schedule posted every single week.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ]

Remember, during the season you can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports.com,the NBC Sports App and by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold.

Gold also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today, Sky Sports News, NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: Premier League live here ] 

If you’re looking for full-event replays of Premier League games, you can find them here for the games streamed on NBCSports.com and here for the games on NBC Sports Gold.

Below is your full Premier League TV schedule and stream links for Saturday and Sunday as we have classic matches, Goal of the Season, Behind the Badge, a focus on Liverpool v. Man City and much more coming up.


FULL TV SCHEDULE FOR NBCSN

Saturday, April 11
6-7 a.m. ET: Soccerbox – Wayne Rooney [STREAM]
7-8 a.m. ET: Soccerbox – Steven Gerrard [STREAM]
8-9 a.m. ET: PL Goals of the Season: 2003-04 [STREAM]
9-10 a.m. ET: PL Goals of the Season: 2004-05 [STREAM]
10-10:30 a.m. ET: PL Classic: Man City v. QPR, May 2012 [STREAM]
10:30-11 a.m. ET: PL Classic: Norwich v. Liverpool, Jan. 2016 [STREAM]
11-11:30 a.m. ET: PL Classic: Arsenal v. Tottenham, Nov. 2010 [STREAM]
11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. ET: PL Classic: Newcastle v. Man United, Oct. 1996 [STREAM]
12-12:30 p.m. ET: PL Classic: Liverpool v. Newcastle, Apr.  1996 [STREAM]

Sunday, April 12
6-7 a.m. ET: PL season in review 2000-01 [STREAM]
7-8 a.m. ET: PL season in review 2001-02 [STREAM]
8-10 a.m. ET: Match of the Week, Liverpool v. Chelsea, April 2014 [STREAM]
10 a.m. – 12 p.m. ET: Match of the Week, Man City v. West Ham, May 2014 [STREAM]
12 p.m. – 2 p.m. ET: Match of the Week, Tottenham v. Chelsea, Jan. 2015 [STREAM]