Arsenal rallies for draw at Man United

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Arsenal teen Bukayo Saka cued Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up for a second half equalizer as the Gunners rallied for a 1-1 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford on Monday.

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Scott McTominay scored for United, assisted by Marcus Rashford.

Arsenal moves into fourth with 12 points, while United moves into 10th with nine.


Three things we learned

1. McTominay flashes power: When you think of Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay, it’s about intelligent movement, tidy passing, and willingness to get into a tackle (and also, maybe, his surprise emergence under Jose Mourinho). But the 22-year-old showed us something a bit different with his powerful 45th minute lash from outside the 18. What a hit, even with a slight deflection, and the moment this sleepy game required on Monday. The Scot would miss an open header later in the game, but the damage was done.

2. Pepe fails to build on performances: With a goal and 2 assists in his last four matches prior to Monday at Old Trafford, big money Arsenal signing Nicolas Pepe had a chance to cement his star status on Monday Night Football. He did not, missing the goal with one first half effort before hitting a tame ball directly to David De Gea before halftime.

3. The kid and the megastar team up again: Bukayo Saka is living the dream. Starting in Arsenal’s trident at age 18, Saka assisted prolific striker Aubameyang with a delightful through ball. As for Aubameyang, the Gabonese mega finisher has scored in every match but one this season. His seventh goal of the season was his 49th in 73 matches for the Gunners, a wonderful return for the longtime Borussia Dortmund man.

Man of the Match: Saka — The teen completed 90-plus percent of his passes on the day and won four of five attempted tackles in addition to his assist and two shots. Saka now has two goals and two assists in his first 270 minutes with the Gunners.


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A rather lengthy feeling out period finally opened up for a chance when Andreas Pereira took it into his hands with along dribble to the precipice and a shot saved by Bernd Leno.

At the other end, Nicolas Pepe clunked an open shot from 16 yards well over the bar. He’d later cut a low shot that De Gea collected inside the six.

McTominay delivered an unfitting end to a sloppy first half with a beautiful strike for 1-0. A cut back to the top of the 18 allowed McTominay to rip a shot that relegated Leno to onlooker status.

David Luiz‘s long free kick led to an Arsenal corner, but De Gea sprung an effective corner that required a Matteo Guendouzi intervention.

Aubameyang beat De Gea moments later, but the linesman’s flag was inexplicably raised. VAR took a look and allowed the goal.

Young striker Bukayo Saka just missed in a bid to make it 2-1 within a minute of Aubameyang’s marker.

McTominay ran onto a free header outside the six, but popped his effort over the frame with a little over 20 minutes to play.

United kept pushing, and Maguire stepped well ahead of his center half position to force Leno into a save, which drew a corner. Alas, Maguire made a silly foul as Leno attempted to collect the corner, and the chance died at the doorstep.

Marcus Rashford presided over a stoppage time free kick, but was denied by the ever-impressive Leno. Overall, it was an improved defensive effort from the Gunners, who still needed their star goalkeeper to get the win.

Van Dijk: Liverpool proved ‘everyone is ready’ for decisive December, January

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Liverpool will play as many as 13 more games between now and the end of January — a period which is sure to go a long way toward deciding the fate of their season, including the Premier League title — and superstar defender Virgil Van Dijk insists that Wednesday’s 5-2 thrashing of rivals Everton proved “everyone is ready” to step up and do their part.

[ MORE: Lampard: Pulisic can reach “top level of world football” ]

Manager Jurgen Klopp made five changes to the team that faced Everton, matching the number of goals his side scored. According to Van Dijk, that level of squad rotation was only a preview of what’s the come over the next eight weeks — quotes from the Guardian:

“The players who came into the team don’t play regularly at all. Look at Divock [Origi], [Xherdan] Shaqiri, they did fantastic. We played Adam [Lallana], Milly [James Milner]; everyone is contributing and we need everyone. That is the key message and it is good. The season is very long. This month is very long — January as well — so we need everyone to be ready.

“We have a big squad and everyone is part of what is going on at the moment. Everyone is happy with the situation we are in. And everyone is also feeling responsible as well, ready to play or if you are on the bench. Everyone is part of the success we have and that is the message to everyone and so far, so good.”

Liverpool’s schedule for December and January breaks down as follows: eight games in the PL, one each in the UEFA Champions League, FA Cup and EFL Cup, and up to two in the FIFA Club World Cup. The Reds’ PL fixture against West Ham United was also rescheduled due to their participation in the Club World Cup.

Through 15 games in the PL, Liverpool hold an eight-point lead on second-place Leicester City and an 11-point advantage on third-place and two-time defending champions Manchester City.

Italian newspaper condemned for “Black Friday” headline featuring Lukaku, Smalling

Photo credit: Corriere dello Sport
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Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport has been widely condemned after printing the headline “Black Friday” on top of photos of Inter Milan forward Romelu Lukaku and Roma defender Chris Smalling, former Manchester United teammates set to face one another in Serie A action on Friday.

[ MORE: Lampard: Pulisic can reach “top level of world football” ]

The sub-headline went on to read: “Lukaku and Smalling, former teammates at Manchester United and today idols at Inter and Roma, this is the battle within the battle tomorrow with the scudetto and a Champions League place at stake.”

Both clubs were quick to put out statements condemning the newspaper’s coverage.

[ MORE: Ole gushes over “the best performance Rashford has had under me” ]

Per the Guardian, an excerpt of the article which appeared to attempt to highlight Serie A’s problem with racism, saying, “We are all trying to tackle the issue of racism in Italian football,” before making a racially insensitive statement of its own:

“In the faces of those idiots who boo, tomorrow everyone must instead go ‘oooh’ like children. It will be a Black Friday, but this is not an end-of-season sale.” It went on to describe Lukaku and Smalling as “two giants of color.”

This comes less than a week after Serie A’s 20 clubs put out a joint statement “acknowledging a serious problem with racism” in the Italian game, while providing little or no concrete plan for action to rid the game of the very racism they acknowledged.

Lukaku has scored 10 goals in 14 league games since joining Inter this summer and Smalling has become a mainstay for Roma in recent months, scoring twice and leading the defense to a much improved record of goals conceded and five victories in six games.

Orlando City tabs Pareja as new coach

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Oscar Pareja is returning to Major League Soccer for a third stint.

The former Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas coach will now be plying his trade for Orlando City SC, leading Nani and Dom Dwyer as the fourth full-time coach in six MLS seasons.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

A longtime Dallas player and assistant, Pareja led the Rapids to the playoffs in 2013 before leaving for the head job at his former club.

FCD won the Supporters’ Shield and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup under his watch before he left for Club Tijuana in 2018, where he went 23W-4D-21L.

Here’s Pareja, via OrlandoCitySC.com:

“The future of this Club is extremely bright, with so many opportunities to grow and succeed at all levels of the Club – from the new training facility to the world-class stadium and from the Development Academy all the way to the MLS side. Orlando is an incredible soccer city, with an especially passionate and dedicated fan base. I can’t wait to get started.”

Pareja should be a huge asset in developing the club’s top young talents into professionals, but he’s got a lot of work to do in building a competitive roster. Orlando finished eight points out of the playoffs in a league in which making the playoffs isn’t that difficult of a proposition.

PL preview: Arsenal-Brighton; Blades-Newcastle

Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images
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The Premier League’s midweek fixture list has two more on the docket, with mid-table positioning at play in South Yorkshire and London.

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Both host sides can advance into sixth with wins, while the visitors will also be dreaming of the top half of the table.

Arsenal v. Brighton and Hove Albion — 3:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Freddie Ljungberg will have his hands full at home, as Graham Potter‘s Seagulls have been anything but a walkover even in a three-match losing skid versus Manchester United, Leicester City, and Liverpool.

Arsenal, meanwhile, saw its winless run reach eight matches in all competitions with a weekend draw at Norwich City. The Gunners only outshot the Canaries by a 16-15 margin, something that will have Potter daydreaming of ways to break down the sloppy Arsenal defense.

Will Ljungberg finally start Nicolas Pepe?

“Nico is someone who is a very, very good player but sometimes when you come from a different league it takes time to adapt; off the pitch and on the pitch. But Nico is someone I plan on talking to. I’m going to have a little chat with him about what I expect and how I want to play.”

Sounds like no, which is good news for Brighton. #FreeNicolasPepe.

Sheffield United v. Newcastle United — 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold

Chris Wilder‘s remarkable Blades haven’t lost since September, and will like their chances against a Newcastle side which likes to cede possession.

The Magpies are coming off a remarkable 2-2 draw against Man City, though don’t expect Steve Bruce to keep things the same. He has hinted he’ll ring in the changes and trust his squad depth, with Florian Lejeune, Emil Krafth, and Yoshinori Muto among those tipped for opportunity.

“We are going to have to,” Bruce said. “When you look at the games it is a ridiculous schedule. We will have to adapt and need a bit of freshness.”

Newcastle can join its hosts on 19 points with a win, but would likely accept a draw to take them three points clear of 18th place Everton.