Arsenal 4-0 Aston Villa: Gunners swallow Villa to defend FA Cup title

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Arsenal dominated from start to finish as they hoisted their second straight FA Cup trophy with a swarming 4-0 win at Wembley Stadium over Aston Villa.

Theo Walcott opened the scoring just before halftime to validate a dominant first 45 as an Alexis Sanchez screamer and Per Mertesacker header rounded things out in the second half.

Both sides showed an ability to get forward early on. After a few rash Villa tackles that earned Tom Cleverley a yellow and should have brought another for Benteke, the first real chance came to Arsenal as an Aelexis Sanchez cross reached Laurent Koscielny’s head, but 39-year-old Shay Given made an impressive save to keep it out. Then Aaron Ramsey nearly got a sliding chance on a Hector Bellerin cross but Jores Okore made a sliding 16th-minute stop.

The chances put Arsenal clearly in control, and it continued. Ramsey had another look but fired over on 20 minutes, and then Walcott had a point-blank shot blocked by Kieran Richardson. There were a few more half-chances over the next few minutes for the Gunners, but Aston Villa managed to weather the storm through the half-hour mark, albeit earning two more yellow cards in the process.

Arsenal finally broke through via Walcott after missing so many opportunities, and they grabbed the lead five minutes before halftime. A cross into the box fell to the head of Sanchez, and the Chilean pinged it back for the trailing Walcott who hammered a thumping drive into the back of the net.

Aston Villa came out of the halftime break with slightly more vigor than they showed in the first 45, but were still forced to defend a healthy amount. Just five minutes in, they’d strike again. Alexis Sanchez ran through the midfield and unleashed an absolute thunderbolt from a long way out, and the ball swerved its way into the back of the net to put the Gunners 2-0 up.

The second goal threw Villa on their heels yet again, and Arsenal powered forward as Cazorla tested Given yet again as the Irish goalkeeper saved again, but he would be powerless to stop Arsenal’s third. As the Gunners ramped up the pressure, Per Mertesacker beat Benteke in the air to head home a corner for Arsenal’s 3-0 lead. A fourth from Olivier Giroud just before the final whistle put the cherry on top.

The 4-0 scoreline is the largest margin of victory for an FA Cup final since 1994, and it gives Arsene Wenger his sixth FA Cup trophy, level with George Ramsay for the most all-time. With Arsenal’s win, Aston Villa fails to qualify for European play, with seventh-placed Southampton filling the final Europa League place instead. The win gives Arsenal three English trophies in the last two years after a previous stretch of nine years without a trophy.

LINEUPS

Arsenal: Szczesny, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil (Wilshere 77′), Alexis (Oxlade-Chamberlain 90′), Walcott (Giroud 77′).

Goals: Walcott 40′, Sanchez 50′, Mertesacker 62′, Giroud 90’+3

Aston Villa: Given, Hutton, Vlaar, Okore, Richardson (Bacuna 66′), Westwood (Sanchez 71′), Delph, Cleverley, Grealish, N’Zogbia (Agbonlahor 53′), Benteke.

Gonzalo Higuain to Inter Miami confirmed

Gonzalo Higuain to Inter Miami
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Gonzalo Higuain to Inter Miami is official.

The Argentine superstar is finally coming to MLS. After years of speculation about Higuain, 32, joining an MLS club, his move from Juventus to Inter Miami has been confirmed and he will be a Designated Player for the Floridian franchise.

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Higuain has been handed the No. 9 jersey by the MLS side who are in their inaugural season, and David Beckham’s franchise finally have someone to finish off the chances they’ve been creating.

Now that Gonzalo Higuain to Inter Miami is official, here’s what the prolific center forward had to say.

“First of all, I want to thank Inter Miami for the effort it has made to sign me. I think it will be a beautiful experience in my life. It’s what I was looking for – a new experience, a new league and a beautiful city. I’m really happy to be here and that it’s official,” Higuain said. “My goal is to try to transmit all the experience I acquired in Europe and to help the team grow.”

“I feel good, I feel whole as a player. I’m motivated to try a new league and help the team grow. Individually, my goal is to demonstrate that I can contribute and continue playing great futbol here, and I hope I can achieve that because I have all the tools necessary to succeed. Inter Miami is a team in construction but there is already a good base to reach important goals.”

After adding Blaise Matuidi on a TAM deal last month, Inter Miami are making moves. Big time. They have yet to suffer a blowout defeat in their first season in MLS but they sit bottom of the Eastern Conference standings and have won just twice so far.

Scoring goals has been a problem for Diego Alonso’s side who have scored nine goals in their first 11 games of the 2020 season.

Scoring goals has never been a problem for Higuain. Well, except in the 2014 World Cup final…

Higuain is about as pure of a goalscorer as you can get and has proven that during a sensational 15-year career in Europe. He drifts into the perfect positions and has that knack of keeping his cool when it matters most. He scored 121 goals and added 56 assists in 264 appearances for Real Madrid before scoring 91 goals in 146 games for Napoli and 66 in 148 appearances for Juventus. Wedged in-between all of that were loan spells at Chelsea and AC Milan where he had limited success.

Still, Higuain to MLS is a big deal and defenders across the league will be wary of his clinical finishing. If the success his brother, Gonzalo, has had in MLS is anything to go by, this will be a lot of fun and will involve a lot of goals. Just what Inter Miami needed.

Southampton – Tottenham: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

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Southampton – Tottenham: This will be a tight game on Sunday (Watch live at 7am ET, online via Peacock) at St Mary’s as Ralph Hasenhuttl and Jose Mourinho have locked horns three times already in 2020.

SOUTHAMPTON – TOTTENHAM STREAM LIVE

Saints have won the league game, draw an FA Cup game at home and lost the FA Cup replay away at Tottenham and all three of those games were tightly contested encounters. With Spurs having a quick turnaround given their Europa League qualifying win in Bulgaria on Thursday, plus League Cup and Europa League games next midweek, Mourinho may be forced to shuffle his pack.

After losing their opening game of the Premier League, both clubs will want to get back on track quickly.

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Here is everything you need to know ahead of Tottenham this Sunday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Southampton – Tottenham (INJURY REPORT)

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has been without Stuart Armstrong through injury, while Nathan Redmond suffered a knock in their surprising League Cup defeat to second-tier Brentford in midweek. Saints have yet to get going this season and Hasenhuttl may shake up his squad.

Mourinho has Giovani Lo Celso back in training, while there is perhaps the possibility that Gareth Bale and Sergio Reguilon could feature but it may be too late after their impending arrival from Real Madrid on Friday.


What they’re saying

Ralph Hasenhuttl on Southampton not being fully fit to start the season: “We are not playing quick enough at the moment. Not aggressive enough without the ball. We are not at the fitness levels we had last season. This is not surprising we had no pre-season where we could work together. But yes we should go quickly to a different level otherwise it’ll be difficult.”

Eric Dier on Tottenham’s congested fixture schedule: “If you look at the schedule, it isn’t showing any care for players’ physical welfare. It’s common sense really, trying to ask someone to play Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday. It doesn’t seem like there is any care for players’ welfare in that situation.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Southampton are the underdogs (+210) but have matched up well against Tottenham in recent meetings. Spurs are favored (+130) but the draw (+235) looks likely in this one and Mourinho will probably take that given all of their recent games.

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Prediction

Danny Ings can cause Tottenham problems and if Saints start quickly, as they like to do, they can catch Spurs out. Tottenham will sit back and then look to hit Saints on the counter and hope the quality of Son, Kane and Co. will see them through. I’m going for a draw. 1-1.


How to watch Southampton – Tottenham stream and start time

Kickoff: 7 am ET Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock

Chelsea – Liverpool: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

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Chelsea – Liverpool: This is always one of the biggest games of the Premier League season and on Sunday (Watch live at 11:30am ET, online via Peacock) at Stamford Bridge we can expect all-out attack between these two stacked heavyweights.

CHELSEA – LIVERPOOL STREAM LIVE

Frank Lampard and Chelsea have spent close to $300 million on new players this summer and may spend even more as they look to make the leap from a top four team to title contenders. As for Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp, the reigning champions had a scare in their opening day win against Leeds but will know they will have plenty of chances to score against Chelsea.

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Here is everything you need to know ahead of Chelsea – Liverpool this Sunday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Chelsea – Liverpool (INJURY REPORT)

Chelsea will be without USMNT star Christian Pulisic as Lampard revealed he suffered a minor injury setback from his hamstring issue. This game has also come too early for new signings Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva to make their debuts as they work their way towards full fitness. Timo Werner is fit after suffering a small injury on his debut.

Liverpool could have Kostas Tsimikas available as he’s back in training following a period of self-isolation after he tested positive for COVID-19. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be missing once again after he picked up a knee injury, while Xherdan Shaqiri is battling back from yet another injury. 


What they’re saying

Timo Werner believes Chelsea have similar quality to Liverpool: “We will improve game by game but now we have to play on Sunday and we try to win the game. We are playing against a strong team and they have such good players, not only Virgil van Dijk, the whole defending part of Liverpool are very good. They conceded the least goals in the league and it is a great team in every position. But we also have great players and we have the quality to beat them. It will be an interesting game.”

Jurgen Klopp on Mohamed Salah’s hat trick on the opening day against Leeds: “Of all the good performances Mo had for us obviously, this was for sure one of the better ones. So he should be proud of that because it’s very special to have these kind of numbers. ‘Long may it continue,’ I like to think in these moments, and this time I say it as well.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Chelsea (+215) are the underdogs but Liverpool’s odds are longer (+115) than many would expect. Chelsea have done well against Liverpool in recent seasons and seem to match up with them well, and the draw (+270) would be the smart bet in this one. Both teams would take that early in the season and move on.

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Prediction

I’m going for a goalfest here and I think both teams will have plenty of chances and it’s all about who is more clinical. Liverpool will try to shore things up at the back but I think Chelsea know how to get behind them and Werner, if he’s fit, will cause problems. I’m going for 3-3. This will be a classic.


How to watch Chelsea – Liverpool stream and start time

Kickoff: 11:30 am ET Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock

Is Gareth Bale’s return to Tottenham a good idea?

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Gareth Bale to Tottenham is a transfer which is romantic. It has Spurs fans everywhere reminiscing about the good old days of eight years ago when he was ripping up the Premier League. This season-long loan deal probably has Bale dreaming of being a star in the PL once again.

But is this Gareth Bale to Tottenham a good idea? Is joining this Tottenham a good idea for Gareth Bale?

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Bale, 31, has been hit by injuries hard in recent seasons but we’re talking about a player who has won four UEFA Champions League titles, two La Liga titles and every other major trophy possible since he left Tottenham for Real Madrid in 2013. Even though things have turned sour at Real in recent seasons — fallouts with Zinedine Zidane, the fans and the media amid the injuries — he is still one of the best wingers in the game, on his day.

The Welshman has always performed well for his country and is capable of scoring sensational goals and taking a game by the scruff of the neck at key moments. But can he do this week in, week out at Tottenham and in the Premier League right now? Does he have to?

As the ProSoccerTalk lads point out in the video above, Bale will have a lot more help from this current Spurs squad compared to when he bailed out (pardon the pun) Andre Villas-Boas’ side time and time again in the past. Harry Kane and Heung-min Son will carry the main goalscoring burden and Bale is around to help Spurs with his big game experience.

That should suit him well.

Jose Mourinho loves to bring in star players as short-term solutions because, well, he is rarely around for longer than three years at a club. See: Ibrahimovic, Zlatan and Sanchez, Alexis. He wants to win now and wants to be successful now and Bale helps Spurs immediately, as long as he can stay fit.

This is a risky deal for Bale and Tottenham, though. Best case scenario for Bale is that he flourishes and with a year left on his contract at Real Madrid he’s in a good position to get another big deal elsewhere, maybe even at Tottenham. Worst case scenario, Spurs have just blown a load of cash chasing nostalgia and Bale will return to Real Madrid next summer with his tail between his legs.

There’s no doubting his quality but with Tottenham, Bale and Mourinho all involved, this feels like we should be warming up our popcorn in the microwave.

Whichever way it goes, it will be eventful.