Arsenal 3-3 Liverpool: Thriller in London

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  • What in the world did we just see?
  • Reds dominate first 45
  • Coutinho, Salah open 2-0 lead
  • Arsenal answers with three between 53rd-58th 

The festive fixtures got a frenetic start, as Liverpool saved some blushes after allowing three goals in six minutes in a 3-3 draw with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Friday.

Granit Xhaka, Alexis Sanchez, and Mesut Ozl scored to erase a 2-0 Liverpool lead produced by Mohamed Salah and Philippe Coutinho. Roberto Firmino later equalized for the Reds.

Liverpool will meet Christmas in third place, their 35 points one better than Arsenal (unless Burnley hangs a 15-goal win on Tottenham).

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Jurgen Klopp last his captain Jordan Henderson after just 10 minutes, though he didn’t lose a ton when James Milner entered for the man with the band.

Soon after, our first real chance of the match: Mohamed Salah and Philippe Coutinho combining for the Brazilian to rip wide of the frame.

Petr Cech was back post to stop a point blank header from Roberto Firmino off another terrific cross from Andrew Robertson.

Coutinho went to the dirty places to male it 1-0, as Salah showed that fine form leads to luck. Following really nice rondo work off a throw-in, Coutinho’s lung-busting run led him into the six to a deflected Salah cross. The Brazilian nodded over Cech with a deft header.

Firmino curled a shot from inside the 18 over the bar and off the back stanchion as Liverpool asked most of the questions.

A slip allowed Salah to test Cech, and the Czech keeper made a save followed by a Mane flying volley over the goal.

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An injured Nacho Monreal left the match at halftime for Arsenal.

Salah saw a trademarked long dribble end with another fine save by Cech, and Coutinho put an ensuing move wide of the frame.

Fittingly, the Egyptian made it 2-0 after the Reds found gaps in the Arsenal formation and Salah blasted a shot around a diving Cech.

Sanchez made it 2-1 within moments, though, as he ran in front of an awkward Joe Gomez to head a Hector Bellerin cross between the legs of Simon Mignolet. Don’t ignore the touch in traffic from Xhaka during the build-up.

Liverpool’s dominance was erased when Mignolet butchered his parry attempt of a rocket shot from Xhaka. 2-2.

(Insert TV pitchmaster’s voice) But wait, there’s more! Ozil worked a delightful 1-2 with Alexandre Lacazette to lift the Gunners from 0-2 to 3-2 within six minutes!

Klavan interceded to stop Lacazette’s shout at 4-2, but the Gunners had a corner. Ozil’s offering was headed clear for a counter attack.

The Reds leveled it at 3 with 20 minutes to go, as Cech could only get a hand to Firmino’s blast through traffic. Cech had otherwise been very good.

Reyna, Busio headline U.S. U-17 squad for CONCACAF Championships

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Two of the top teen-aged talents the U.S. has ever produced will be wearing the red, white, and blue next month at the 2019 CONCACAF Under-17 Men’s Championship.

U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach Raphael Wicky announced his 20-man squad for the upcoming tournament, set to take place at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. It’s a small irony, as this is the first year without the residency program that was housed on the IMG Academy property.

The U.S. squad is led by Sporting KC midfielder Gianluca Busio and the son of USMNT legend, Claudio Reyna, Giovanni, who is reportedly set to join Borussia Dortmund’s academy officially in the coming months. Also included in this squad is FC Dallas youngster Ricardo Pepi, who already has four goals in USL League One this season. Another forward, Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez is coming into the camp in red-hot form, having scored a hat-trick and helped lead his Seattle Sounders to the GA Cup title.

Griffin Yow just made his full D.C. United debut, and Las, just 17, has already reportedly attracted attention from Europe.

Here’s a look at the U.S. roster.

GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Damian Las (Chicago Fire; Norridge, Ill.; 13/0), 12-Chituru Odunze (Vancouver Whitecaps FC/CAN; Calgary, Alta.; 4/0)
DEFENDERS (7): 4-Axel Alejandre (FC United; Chicago, Ill.; 14/0), 3-Adam Armour (North Carolina FC; Cary, N.C.; 11/0), 13-Mauricio Cuevas (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.; 2/0), 14-Tayvon Gray (New York City FC; Bronx, N.Y.; 10/0), 5-Kobe Hernandez (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.; 14/1), 2-Joseph Scally (New York City FC; Lake Grove, N.Y.; 14/1), 15-John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls; Chatham, N.J.; 3/0)
MIDFIELDERS (5): 7-Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City; Greensboro, N.C.; 7/2), 20-Gilbert Fuentes (San Jose Earthquakes; Tracy, Calif.; 13/0), 8-Bryang Kayo (D.C. United; Poolesville, Md.; 0/0), 6-Daniel Leyva (Seattle Sounders FC; Las Vegas, Nev.; 0/0), 16-Adam Saldana (LA Galaxy; Panorama City, Calif.; 17/1)
FORWARDS (6): 18-Jack de Vries (Philadelphia Union; Wayne, Pa.; 0/0), 17-Tyler Freeman (Sporting Kansas City; Shawnee, Kan.; 3/1), 19-Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (Tacoma Defiance; Kent, Wash.; 14/5), 9-Ricardo Pepi (North Texas SC; McKinney, Texas; 6/1), 10-Giovanni Reyna (Unattached; Bedford, N.Y.; 8/1), 11-Griffin Yow (D.C. United; Clifton, Va.; 6/3)

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Man City preparing $79 million bid this summer; Bale to leave Real Madrid

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Pep Guardiola has identified the successor to Fernandinho, and he’s convinced Manchester City to break the bank to acquire him.

[READ: JPW’s Premier League picks]

Per a report in The Telegraph, Manchester City is preparing a transfer bid of nearly $79 million to sign Atletico Madrid central midfielder Rodrigo Hernandez Cascante, better known as Rodri. In his first season in Madrid, the 22-year-old has made 28 La Liga starts along with six in the UEFA Champions League, anchoring the second-place Atletico Madrid midfield.

In addition to his defensive duties, he’s also scored a pair of goals this season.

If true, Rodri’s transfer will break Man City’s previous record when it signed Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City for almost $78 million.

Fernandinho continues to be a world class holding midfielder, but coming up on 34-years old, he’s surely coming up on time when he won’t be able to cover as much ground as he used to. With Rodri in tow, Fernandinho can slowly take a reserve role in the team, or move to another club for one last big contract.

Here are some more transfer rumors from around Europe:

(more…)

USMNT’s Brooks scores equalizer for Wolfsburg

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John Brooks is enjoying a career year for Wolfsburg, and he just added another highlight to his strong season.

Brooks, running up in the attack in a rare foray forward, tapped home into an empty net to save Wolfsburg a point at home in its 1-1 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt. It was Brooks’ third goal of the season and second in the last two months.

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The U.S. Men’s National Team centerback has played and started 29 times this season for Wolfsburg, the most games he’s ever played in a single season in Germany’s top tier. Brooks started alongside Aaron Long in the USMNT’s 1-0 win over Ecuador in Orlando in late March, and could play a key role for the USMNT this summer at the Gold Cup, unless coach Gregg Berhalter decides to let him rest this summer.

Season over: Hudson-Odoi suffers suspected Achilles tear

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One incident on Monday showed why some players are so desperate to change clubs when given the chance. They may never get it again.

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Callum Hudson-Odoi said on his Instagram post Monday evening that he had suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon. If confirmed by the club, it’s usually a nine-month recovery process, with some players needing a full year to return to full fitness. Considering the timing of this, towards the end of the season, it means that Hudson-Odoi may miss an entire season of top-flight soccer, as well as possibly miss out on a chance to move to Bayern Munich this summer.

The injury is a huge blow to the 18-year-old, who had forced his way into the Chelsea side after strong performances in the UEFA Europa League, and now he’s making regular Premier League starts at the tender age of 18. Hudson-Odoi had started four-straight Premier League games including Monday, but now he faces a long layoff.

In Hudson-Odoi’s favor is his youth. While it can be a career-ending injury, hopefully Hudson-Odoi could retain his electric pace once he recovers and can return to the starting lineup for Chelsea.

But it’s a big disappointment to the young Englishman, who surely would have played for England youth national teams this summer and could have potentially made a big-money move abroad.