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Arsenal, Chelsea cruise into Europa League Round of 16

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Arsenal looked right at home back in the friendly confines of the Emirates Stadium.

After losing twice on the road this month, including a surprise 1-0 defeat last Thursday to BATE Borisov, Arsenal took care of business at home. The Gunners defeated BATE, 3-0 on the night (3-1 on aggregate), with goals from centerbacks Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulous, while BATE’s Zakhar Volkov scored an own goal early to tie the scoreline between the two legs.

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South of the Emirates Stadium, Chelsea built on their 2-1 aggregate lead over Malmo FF with a resounding 3-0 win. Malmo finished with ten men and the game was highlighted by goals from Callum Hudson-Odoi and a Ross Barkley free kick.

With the wins, both Premier League sides advance to the Europa League Round of 16. The draw for the Round of 16 will be held on Friday, with matches taking place March 7 and 14.

Arsenal took an unexpected lead in the fourth minute of the match. A seemingly harmless cross from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was somehow turned into his own net by BATE centerback Zakhar Volkov. After some shaky moments early, Arsenal settled in and controlled the match, leading to the go-ahead goal. Granit Xhaka played the first of his two assists as Mustafi got on the end of a corner kick to head the ball in for a goal.

In the 60th minute, Sokratis’ header off a corner kick put the game away and allowed Arsenal fans to relax for the final half-hour of play.

Chelsea, meanwhile, didn’t get the early goal like Arsenal but didn’t end up needing it.

Maurizio Sarri sat Jorginho, David Luiz and Marcos Alonso and it led to a better defensive performance, albeit Malmo isn’t a world beater. Olivier Giroud opened the scoring in the 55th minute with a tap-in after great work from N’Golo Kante and Willian. It was Giroud’s sixth Europa League goal this season.

Barkley delighted the Stamford Bridge crowd with a terrific free kick from the edge of the box in the 74th minute and Hudson-Odoi put the cherry on top with a right-footed strike ten minutes later.

Arsenal boss Emery defends team selection after BATE Borisov loss

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Arsenal manager Unai Emery has come out to defend his team selection after losing to BATE Borisov 1-0 in Europa League play on Thursday in Belarus.

Emery dropped playmaker Mesut Ozil in his ongoing feud with the German international, saying before the match that Ozil was a healthy scratch. After the loss, Emery was quick to defend his team selection, going so far as to say his team should have won despite the final scoreline.

“Last week we won and we played with the same players,” Emery said after the game. “For me today there was no difference to the performance. We deserved to win but didn’t get the result.”

“They were very organized defensively and they found the moment in the game. It’s not for one player or another. We can win with every player and lose with the same players.”

Arsenal held 77% possession and out-shot BATE 16-6, but each side picked out just three on target. Emery preached patience on multiple levels, saying his players need to control their emotions, and the fans need to understand that there is still a second leg to go.

“It’s the first match,” said Emery of the situation, with the second leg coming from the Emirates next Thursday. “We are going to play another 90 minutes next week and I’m sure it’s going to be different.

“Our big opportunity is next week at home. Today is not the result we wanted. We deserved more but they worked for this. Next week is going to be different with our supporters.”

Emery continued to talk about his players keeping their cool, and said he spoke with Alexandre Lacazette, who was sent off for a late elbow. “I didn’t see the action [Lacazette’s foul] but we need to control the frustration,” Emery said. “It’s bad news, this red card. Next week we won’t play with [Lacazette]. But it gives chances for another player.”

Ozil could be in contention to come back into the team in Lacazette’s absence, or Emery could turn to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as a lone striker up front with a number of changes behind him, potentially including a return for Aaron Ramsey who missed the first leg with a knee problem.

Europa League, LIVE — Arsenal, Chelsea begin first legs

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The way it looks, Arsenal and Chelsea may need a Europa League title to revisit the hallowed grounds of the Champions League.

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Arsenal goes first, its Round of 32 first leg set for a 12:55 p.m. ET kickoff at Borisov Arena against BATE Borisov.

Alexandre Lacazette leads the line for Arsenal in Belarus, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Denis Suarez on the bench.

Chelsea visits Malmo at 3 p.m. ET.

Full slate

12:55 p.m. ET
Lazio v. Sevilla
Rennes v. Real Betis
Slavia Prague v. Genk
Olympiacos v. Dynamo Kiev
Galatasaray v. Benfica
Rapid Vienna v. Inter Milan
Krasnodar v. Bayer Leverkusen
BATE Borisov v. Arsenal

3 p.m. ET
Club Brugge v. Red Bull Salzburg
Malmo v. Chelsea
Zurich v. Napoli
Celtic v. Valencia
Sporting Lisbon v. Villarreal
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Eintracht Frankfurt
Viktoria Plzen v. Dinamo Zagreb

Report: Ramsey signs Juve deal; top 10 earner in world soccer

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Aaron Ramsey new contract at Juventus is set to earn him over $515,000 per week.

A report from the BBC claims that Ramsey, 28, has signed the pre-contract agreement with Juve ahead of becoming a free agent in the summer as Arsenal decided to not offer him a new deal with the two parties far from agreeing terms.

When you hear these kind of numbers it is easy to understand why.

Update: Juventus confirmed Ramsey is signing with the Italian giant on Monday afternoon

Ramsey’s deal with Juve is a four-year contract and he will arrive at the Italian champions on July 1. His move continues the trend of Juve operating smartly when it comes to snapping up free agents. See: Dani Alves, Emre Can, Paul Pogba and Sami Khedira to name a few…

But why are Juve playing the Welsh international so much? Because he’s a free agent and they do not have to pay a transfer fee for him is the obvious answer.

A player of Ramsey’s ability would probably fetch something along the lines of $60 million in the transfer market if he had a lengthy contract. So these astronomical wages make sense when you think about the money Juve are actually saving by signing Ramsey.

Still, to put this into context, Ramsey will now become the best-paid British player in history (according to basic salary) and also sit among the top 10 highest-earning players on the planet right now.

He is a wonderful player when used correctly as we saw during Wales’ run to the EURO 2016 semifinals. But you can understand why Arsenal simply couldn’t compete in terms of wages with Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette locked in on huge deals.

Ramsey is a silky midfielder who had top clubs across Europe chasing him, but it is easy to understand why he wants to move to Juve. Money talks.

Arsenal too much for Huddersfield Town (video)

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  • Iwobi opens scoring
  • Kolanisac assists, concedes own goal
  • Aubameyang among several absent stars

Arsenal scores a pair of first half goals in a relatively comfortable 2-1 win over Huddersfield Town at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday.

Alexandre Lacazette scored after Alex Iwobi opened the scoring off a Sead Kolasinac feed, though the latter conceded a stoppage time own goal.

Arsenal is now level on points with fifth-place Chelsea, a point back of fourth place Manchester United. Chelsea has played one fewer match.

Huddersfield is now 13 points off 17th place with 12 matches to play.

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With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Granit Xhaka, and Aaron Ramsey all missing from the 18 as well as misfit Mesut Ozil, the hosts would have been anticipating a fine moment.

But it came from Arsenal, who produced the match’s first three shots. The latter was Iwobi’s opener, not hit with muster but enough to beat Ben Hamer off a Sead Kolasinac cross.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles cued up Lacazette for the second goal, just before halftime.

Huddersfield threatened in the second half, and took a goal back when Aaron Mooy‘s through ball led to a Kolasinac own goal.

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