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Premier League Preview: Arsenal vs. Chelsea

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  • Arsenal leads all-time 74W-56D-62L
  • Arsenal won Community Shield in pens
  • Drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge in Sept.

Chelsea and Arsenal review their even rivalry Wednesday in a midweek marvel at the Emirates Stadium (Watch live at 2:45 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The Gunners’ boss, Arsene Wenger, is under a bit of fire, charged by the FA for entering the referees’ room after Arsenal’s draw with West Brom, raging about a penalty call from Mike Dean off a controversially-deemed handball.

Arsenal drew first blood in the series when it took the Community Shield in penalty kicks following 1-1 over 120 minutes, but Chelsea held the Gunners to 0-0 one month later in league play.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Arsenal is without several players as their injury concerns continue to mount, with Sead Kolasinac out and both Mesut Ozil and Laurent Koscielny doubts. Nacho Monreal, Olivier Giroud, and Aaron Ramsey remain out of the lineup.

Antonio Conte‘s Blues can climb back about Manchester United and into second place with a win, while Arsenal needs a win to stay within three points of surging Liverpool.

What they’re saying

Wenger on Arsenal’s plans in the January transfer window“We are open in any position for the exceptional player who can give us a plus. Of course it depends a little bit on the injuries as well and on the other hand I must say it depends on who will manage to extend the contracts of the players who are at the end of their contracts in June. It will depend on that as well because we will have to take the consequences of these decisions and respond to it.”

Conte is focusing on Arsenal, not transfers“For us in this period we must be very focused on our target and tomorrow we have a really tough game against Arsenal. We have to find the right concentration. When you play against Arsenal every game is very important and tomorrow’s game is very important for the league. For sure we want to try our best and get three points and also to give satisfaction to our fans.”

Prediction

The series of stalemates continue, as defense is somewhat optional in a 2-2 draw in the home of the Gunners.

Peru’s World Cup foes lobby to overturn Guerrero’s ban

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Following last week’s decision handed down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Peru captain and talisman Paolo Guerrero has been banned from the 2018 World Cup — at the age of 34, almost certainly his last opportunity to star on the world’s biggest stage.

[ PREVIEW: USMNT hosts Bolivia in shadows of World Cup hype ]

However, in the days since that decision, a number of Guerrero’s fellow professionals and World Cup stars — France and Denmark captains Hugo Lloris and Simon Kjaer, and Australia’s Mile Jedinak — have written to FIFA, on behalf of FIFPro, the world player union, in hopes of rendering Guerrero eligible to pay at next month’s tournament in Russia.

“We respectfully ask the Fifa Council to show compassion,” the trio wrote. “In our view it would be plainly wrong to exclude him from what should be a pinnacle of his career.”

[ MORE: Ronaldo hints at Real Madrid exit | Bale does the same ]

That Lloris, Kjaer and Jedinak are the players lobbying in favor of Guerrero is particularly notable given the fact that Peru will face France, Denmark and Australia in Group C.

Guerrero tested positive for cocaine late last year, after a tea he drank was tainted and triggered a fail drug test.

SKC, Crew SC play to 0-0 draw; VAR steals the show (again)

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KANSAS CITY, KAN. — The game in 100 words (or less): Nothing ruins a good game of soccer more than controversies involving the referee — and now that VAR is active within MLS, yet another failure of the video-review system to correct the most “clear and obvious” of wrong decisions. There is no longer any rhyme or reason in deciding whether or not to utilize what could be a very helpful tool. Check the third video further down this page to comprehend the absurdity of VAR in Sporting Kansas City’s 0-0 draw with Columbus Crew SC on Sunday. As for the actual soccer which was played, Tim Melia made one save to deny Gyasi Zardes with a point-blank header early in the first half, and a second to deny Zardes rom the penalty spot just before halftime. Despite being a back-and-forth affair between the league’s second- and third-place teams with a chance to take the lead in the Supporters’ Shield race, there were just six shots on target in total and genuine scoring chances were few and far between.

[ PREVIEW: USMNT hosts Bolivia in shadows of World Cup hype ]

Three moments that mattered

43′ — Zardes wins a PK, but Melia makes the save — Melia was responsible for giving away the penalty kick, and he more than made up for it by denying Zardes moments later.

45+6′ — Higuain puts studs into Espinoza, sees red — Originally not called a foul, changed to a red card following video review. On the softer side of red cards (just an opinion).

59′ — Martinez takes a swing at Sinovic, but no video review — At this point, it’s just time to disband the entire VAR experiment. It’s turned MLS into a clown show and an embarrassment. Signed, someone who was initially in favor of VAR, assuming MLS would utilize it properly.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Tim Melia

Goalscorers: None

Rayo Vallecano win promotion back to La Liga

Photo credit: Rayo Vallecano / @RayoVallecano
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MADRID (AP) Rayo Vallecano earned promotion to Spain’s top division after beating Lugo 1-0 in a second-tier league game on Sunday.

Alex Moreno’s goal for the hosts in the 40th minute sealed Rayo’s return to La Liga after two seasons away.

Huesca had already secured promotion last weekend with a 2-0 victory at Lugo.

The third team to move up will be the winner of a two-round playoff between the four teams that finish the season from third to sixth.

Malaga, Las Palmas and Deportivo La Coruna were all relegated from the top flight this season.

FOLLOW LIVE: West leaders SKC host East’s 2nd-best Crew SC

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KANSAS CITY, KAN. — Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City host Columbus Crew SC, the Eastern Conference’s second-place side, at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday with both sides capable of overtaking Atlanta United for top spot in the Supporters’ Shield race.

[ FOLLOW: SKC vs. Crew SC in top-of-the-table clash ]

Sporting KC, who are unbeaten in three straight and have lost just once since opening day (11 games), lead expansion side Los Angeles FC in the West. Meanwhile, Crew SC enter Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash unbeaten in their last six games (four wins) and trail the league leaders from Atlanta by a single point.

Hit the link above to follow along throughout the afternoon, and check back with PST for coverage after the final whistle.