Arsenal closes ground on Chelsea (video)

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  • Chelsea with 64 percent possession
  • Arsenal takes 2-0 halftime lead
  • Arrizabalaga strong in defeat

Chelsea had most of the ball but Arsenal produced almost all of the danger in a 2-0 defeat of the visiting Blues at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Alexandre Lacazette and Laurent Koscielny scored for Unai Emery‘s men, who avenged a 3-2 loss at Stamford Bridge in August to move three points back of the fourth place visitors.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Chelsea’s opening moments were anything but stable, with a couple silly fouls and a flubbed chance by Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette off a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang feed.

Blues goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga bailed his team out when Laurent Koscielny jabbed a hard header at him off an Aaron Ramsey free kick.

The ensuing corner kick saw Lacazette put the Gunners ahead with a hard chipped finish past Arrizabalaga at the near post.

Koscielny’s shoulder turned a Sokratis shot over Arrizabalaga and inside the far post at the 40th minute.

Chelsea was a bit of a mess, but Marcos Alonso nearly pulled the deficit back to one when he headed off the post in the 45th minute.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]  

Pedro blazed a cutback pass from Willian over the bar after running into a promising 56th minute position.

Sead Kolasinac inspired danger in the 64th minute, but Arrizabalaga stood tall for Chelsea.

Arsenal suffered a significant setback in the second half, as Hector Bellerin‘s knee appeared to buckle on a non-contact injury. His leg was strapped down and the Spaniard was stretchered off the pitch.

Gunners school Fulham on New Year’s Day

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  • Xhaka strikes first, 25′
  • Lacazette caps team goal
  • Kamara pulls one back
  • Ramsey puts it to bed

Arsenal responded to its weekend drubbing by turning the lopsided score line on Fulham with a 4-1 win at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday.

Granit Xhaka, Alexandre Lacazette, Aaron Ramsey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all scored for the Gunners, who move two points back of fourth-place Chelsea.

Aboubakar Kamara scored for Fulham, who remain 19th with 14 points.

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Arsenal was on the front foot from Moment No. 1, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was closely-marked by American defender Tim Ream as he popped an Alex Iwobi pass over the goal from close range.

The visitors nearly surprised when Tom Cairney opened up Ryan Sessegnon on the counter attack, but the youngster missed the far post after beating Bernd Leno.

If Sessegnon could’ve scored the first, he should’ve scored the next: Andre Schurrle swept a gorgeous effort around the Arsenal back line but the winger totally missed the ball.

And how often do you see it? The underdogs miss a chance to go ahead, snapping the favorites into life. Xhaka was the man in the middle to push an Iwobi pass beyond the reach of Rico.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Lacazette made it 2-0 on the business end of a terrific team goal off a throw-in. Aubameyang and Sead Kolasinac were the last two to play the ball en route to the Frenchman for his 56th minute finish.

Jean-Michael Seri cued up Mitrovic for a 69th minute chance, but the Serbian nodded right to Leno.

This time, Fulham responded to the danger by scoring. Kamara got on the end of a Sessegnon cross after Seri stole the ball and set the wheels in motion.

Ramsey restored order with a calm finish into the side netting when a loose ball came his way in the 79th minute.

Rico stayed big to block a 1v1 Aubameyang chip in the 82nd, but was defied when the same striker’s deflected shot hit the back of the net in the 83rd.

Player ratings: Liverpool dismantle Arsenal at Anfield

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Liverpool put the sword to Arsenal on Saturday, thrashing the hapless Gunners to the tune of 5-1 at Anfield.

[ MORE: Liverpool go nine points clear with dismantling of Arsenal ]

It was a banner day for the Reds’ free-flowing attacking quartet; not so much for the porous Arsenal defense.

Liverpool

Alisson: 6 – Only asked to make two saves, he made one of them.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 7 – Salah is brilliant on his own, no doubt, but TAA’s overlapping runs give him the freedom to roam the entire field, making him even more dangerous.
Dejan Lovren: 6 –
Virgil Van Dijk: 8 – An imperious mountain of a man, Van Dijk walked the field with Aubameyang tucked into his back pocket for 71 minutes.
Andrew Robertson: 6 – Completely lost track of his man on the game’s opening goal. Fortunately, it mattered very little in the end.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 7 – As solid as ever in midfield, Wijnaldum keeps the Liverpool clock ticking over minute after minute.
Fabinho: 8 – Quickly growing into his role as the midfield engine.
Mohamed Salah: 8 – One of the best, and simultaneously coolest, assists you’ll see all season (WATCH HERE). Affecting the game in so many ways beyond scoring goals.
Xherdan Shaqiri: 6 – Given the contributions of his running mates, someone had to have the “quiet” game.
Sadio Mane: 7 – Scored goal no. 3 and wasn’t required to be brilliant.
Roberto Firmino: 9 – Genuinely unplayable in the first half, and that goal. Oh, this goal. Got his hat trick, albeit from the penalty spot, and deservedly so.


Arsenal

Bernd Leno: 4 – Despite giving up five goals, still made five saves.
Stephan Lichtsteiner: 3 – On a day of terrible defensive performances, Lichtsteiner made a strong case for the worst.
Shkodran Mustafi: 4 – Subbed off at halftime. In fairness, it was a tough game to return after three weeks out injured.
Sokratis: 3 – Gave away a penalty on a half-hearted challenge after being wildly out of position.
Sead Kolasinac: 4 – Arsenal’s best defender for 60 minutes, until he gave away a silly penalty of his own.
Lucas Torreira: 4 – Far and away his worst performance in an Arsenal shirt.
Granit Xhaka: 5 – Along with Torreira, completely and helplessly overrun by Liverpool’s attacking quartet.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles: 6 – Scored the game’s opening goal before disappearing, through little fault of his own.
Aaron Ramsey: 6 – Arsenal’s best player going forward should have scored early in the second half to make it 4-2.
Alex Iwobi: 5 – Assisted the opening goal and nearly scored one of his own.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 5 – Thoroughly uninvolved, through little fault of his own.

Most memorable soccer moments of 2018

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The 2018 soccer calendar year featured an unforgettable World Cup, another memorable Champions League run, and countless international and club moments that won titles and dazzled fans. Here is the best of the best from 2018:

14. Andros Townsend leads Crystal Palace over Manchester City

The significance of Manchester City’s dominance will be discussed at length in just a bit, but it’s hard to contextualize the first half of the 2018/19 Premier League season without mentioning Crystal Palace topping Manchester City 3-2 thanks in large part to THAT goal by Andros Townsend. Unquestionably the goal of the season so far, the victory for Palace not only gave them breathing room in the relegation battle, but also set the stage for Liverpool to take a commanding lead into the holiday season. It was a unforgettably powerful strike, and one Crystal Palace fans will remember for a long time, as will neutrals (and Liverpool fans!) as well.

13. Tata Martino rides off into the sunset with Atlanta United

In just the club’s second year of existence, they secured a Major League Soccer title, allowing manager Gerardo Martino to depart a champion, an inevitability he had announced a few weeks prior to the big game. A 2-0 victory over the Portland Timbers in the final secured Atlanta United’s place in MLS lore, and Josef Martinez picked up the league’s goalscoring record to boot (pun intended). It was a season of not just shattered records but shattered norms for Atlanta United as they set the new gold standard for the league in such a short amount of time.

12. World Cup performance leads Luka Modric to Ballon d’Or

Croatia was one of the most enjoyable and entertaining stories of the 2018 World Cup, and at the heart of their stunning run to the final was Luka Modric. The Real Madrid midfielder set the stage for his eventual Ballon d’Or win by slicing and dicing his way through the World Cup knockout stage until the tank ran out against France in the big finale. Modric’s award win marked the first non-Messi/Ronaldo victory since Kaka way back in 2007.

11. Cristiano Ronaldo leaves Real Madrid for Juventus

While it didn’t quite reach the levels of Neymar’s mega-deal with PSG, Cristiano Ronaldo captivated the world by ending a wildly successful nine-year stint at Real Madrid and moving to Turin. Juventus captured the 33-year-old Portuguese forward for a cool $133 million, but the deal is likely worth far more than that to the Italian giants who can now deploy one of the world’s most visible athletes. Ronaldo has made 23 appearances for Juventus to this date, scoring 13 goals and assisting seven others. He is set for his first true cup final with his new club as they take on AC Milan in the Supercoppa Italiana final on January 16, while the Italians drew Atletico Madrid – a familiar rival for Ronaldo – in the Champions League knockout stage.

10. Marcos Rojo goal saves Argentina at the death

The 2018 World Cup group stage was a wild ride, and one of the biggest moments of the entire event came in the 86th minute of the final round when an unlikely hero saved yet another international giant from group stage embarrassment. Germany had already been knocked out of the event in the early stages, and Argentina was fighting for its life. Marcos Rojo was on hand to volley home against Nigeria to ensure they would find the knockout round.

9. Roma comes back from 3 goals down vs. Barcelona in CL quarters

Trailing 4-1 after a first leg in Barcelona that featured two own-goals and a number of defensive mistakes by the Italians, Roma collected itself to produce one of the most stunning comebacks in Champions League history. Edin Dzeko scored just six minutes in to set the stage, Daniello de Rossi bagged a penalty after halftime, and Kostas Manolas produced the eventual winner off a corner eight minutes from the final whistle. A clean sheet sealed the improbable victory, and Dzeko’s 80th minute consolation in the first leg proved critical as well.

8. Arsene Wenger‘s wins 5-0 in final match at Arsenal

In April, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger announced he would be stepping down from his position, ending a legendary 20-year tenure with the Gunners that enshrined the Frenchman as one of the greatest ever Premier League managers. Still, the final few years were rocky and it seemed time for a change. The Gunners gave him the perfect send-off, winning 5-0 over Burnley at home thanks to a pair from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang plus goals from Alexandre Lacazette, Sead Kolasinac, and Alex Iwobi. It was the perfect encapsulation of Wenger’s tenure in charge, as a French international and an academy product both ended up on the scoresheet.

7. Denis Cheryshev takes World Cup by storm

Heading into the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the home team was one of the consensus underdogs of the event. Russia had proved unable to find the back of the net over the past two years, and they would be lucky to make the knockout stage despite drawing a favorable group. In stepped Real Madrid reject Denis Cheryshev who set the World Cup alight with four goals in the tournament, propelling Russia to the quarterfinals where they fell on penalties to eventual finalists Croatia. His first game was the most memorable, coming off the bench as an injury substitute to score a brace over Saudi Arabia. He then grabbed another in the following match to earn a victory over Egypt, and scored the opener in the 2-2 draw with Croatia that would end in spot-kicks.

Cheryshev has since come back down to earth, with just a single goal for Valencia this season in 15 appearances across all competitions, but his performances in front of the home fans in this summer’s event was unforgettable.

6. Manchester United sacks Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho’s tenure as Manchester United boss was a rocky one, and it all came to a head the final few months of 2018 before he was finally let go in mid-December. Mourinho was a popular figure among fans, but also found himself criticized constantly for style of play and player deployment. While he won the 2016/17 Europa League and the League Cup that year as well, his time in charge of the Red Devils was uncharacteristically devoid of major trophies, and likely contributed to his downfall at the club. With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer placed in charge, the club won 5-1 in the first match following the change, marking the first time United had scored five goals in a match since Sir Alex Ferguson was manager, a cruel indictment of the Mourinho tenure.

5. Mohamed Salah breaks single-season PL goalscoring record

The 2017/18 Premier League season was ultimately about Manchester City’s domination from front to back, but it would be impossible to give a synopsis of the campaign without mentioning the goalscoring blitzkrieg dished out by Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian was next to unstoppable in his first full season as a Red, and he set the Premier League record for goals in a season on the final day as Liverpool stomped Brighton & Hove Albion 4-0. Salah scored 15 of his 38 Premier League goals in 2018, plus he grabbed five more in Champions League knockout play. Salah’s form has continued into 2018, and while he’s not on the record pace he was last season, it promises to be yet another fruitful one for the Liverpool winger.

4. Manchester City becomes first PL team to 100 points

Ultimately, the 2017/18 Premier League campaign was dominated from start to finish by Pep Guardiola and Manchester City, becoming the first Premier League team to record a triple-digit point tally. City took hold of the table’s top spot in late September and never relinquished, securing the league title a good two months before the end of the season. Still, there was more to achieve, and Gabriel Jesus‘s winning goal against Southampton on the final day brought City exactly to the 100-point tally. The Citizens have proved fallible this campaign, but last year saw nobody come remotely close.

3. Copa Libertadores final 2nd leg suspended

The events surrounding the 2nd leg of the 2018 Copa Libertadores captivated the world, and it all started with a moment that changed South American club soccer, likely for the foreseeable future. Boca Juniors and River Plate – two fierce Argentinian rivals – were set to meet for the second leg at El Monumental after a 2-2 first-leg draw. As the Boca team bus made its way to the venue, River fans pelted it with rocks and other projectiles, eventually causing the postponement of the fixture. A long, almost ridiculous saga ensued that ultimately led to the scheduling of the game in Madrid. River Plate would win the event in a thrilling 3-1 second-leg, but the story that led up to the game will be remembered by many.

2. Kylian Mbappe leads France to World Cup victory

Emerging as not just one of the best young players in the world, but a premier talent despite his age, Kylian Mbappe was sparkling as France chugged its way through the 2018 World Cup. Despite many criticizing Didier Deschamps throughout the tournament for France’s sup-par eye test, the team continued to grind out victories and never wavered, and Mbappe led the way with four goals in the event, including France’s fourth and final goal in the final against Croatia. While it looked like the team never truly played its best, France was no doubt the most talented team in the tournament and that shone through. Nobody will forget Benjamin Pavard’s stunning goal against Argentina that won him the Goal of the Tournament, but Mbappe is the most memorable player on a team bursting with world class talent.

1. Real Madrid tops Liverpool in Champions League final

Salah’s injury. Karius’s mistakes. Bale’s bike. This game had everything, and it was a joy to watch (for neutrals, at least). With Sergio Ramos cementing himself as one of the villains of the game, Liverpool missed Salah after his exit before the half-hour mark. Karim Benzema was on hand to put Madrid ahead – thanks in part to one of two massive mistakes by Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius – but Sadio Mane brought LIverpool right back level four minutes later. While many remember Karius’s blunders and the subsequent reports of having suffered a concussion minutes earlier, Gareth Bale‘s unbelievable winning goal makes this game truly memorable. He bagged a brace to put the game away late, and Real Madrid won its third Champions League title in three years, allowing manager Zinedine Zidane to ride off into the sunset.

Ozil, Aubameyang star as Arsenal edge past Burnley

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  • Aubameyang leads PL with 12 goals
  • Burnley lost 5 of last 6
  • Arsenal snap two-game losing streak
  • Iwobi scores late goal

Arsenal beat Burnley 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored in each half and the banged-up Gunners held off a resilient Burnley.

Mesut Ozil captained Arsenal on his return to the team and he was instrumental in two of Arsenal’s three goals, as Alex Iwobi added a late clincher after Ashley Barnes had given feisty Burnley hope of a comeback.

With the win Unai Emery‘s Arsenal move on to 37 points, while Burnley remain in the relegation zone for Christmas.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

A frantic start to the game saw Ainsley Maitland-Niles go close as a combination of Joe Hart and James Tarkowski kept him out after good work from Alexandre Lacazette.

On the very next attack Ashley Westwood dragged an effort wide after going clean through, as Burnley opened up Arsenal on the counter.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Arsenal cranked through the gears in the first half and Mesut Ozil was the heart of their opening goal. His beautiful ball to the back post found Sead Kolasinac who cut it back for Aubameyang to finish.

The rest of the first half played out with Arsenal having plenty of the ball, but Emery was again dealt an injury blow in defense as Nacho Monreal hobbled off and Granit Xhaka had to shuffle into the defensive line.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

At the start of  the second half a surging run from Kolasinac down the left found Lacazette who set up his strike partner Aubameyang to fire home and double Arsenal’s lead. But the Gunners couldn’t keep their foot on the accelerator.

Burnley fought their way back into the game in typical fashion, with plenty of challenges flying in, as Arsenal just couldn’t clear the ball and Barnes drilled home a low effort to make it 2-1.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

The home fans were incredibly nervous late on, but Arsenal added a third goal to seal the win.

Ozil, again, was the key man as he ran at Burnley’s defense and his shot then set up Iwobi (who may have been just offside) to smash home and keep the Gunners in the hunt for a top four finish.