Joel Campbell

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CONCACAF World Cup qualifying preview: Beyond USMNT-Mexico

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Outside of the United States’ rivalry match with Mexico — just about everything you need to know for that is here — CONCACAF’s other Hex contestants debut on Friday as well.

[ CONMEBOL: Argentina in trouble ]

Panama opens up its Hex at home with a visit from Honduras. Panama’s six MLS players star with longtime LA Galaxy keeper Jaime Penedo and captain Felipe Baloy. Contrast that veteran squad with what’s across the field: a Honduran corps that mixes veteran savvy in the form of Boniek Garcia, Maynor Figueroa, and Roger Espinoza with electric young Olympic stars Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto. That one kicks early, at 3:35 p.m. EDT.

Costa Rica is on the road before its Tuesday home match with the U.S., and its destination for Friday’s opener is Trinidad and TobagoLos Ticos still rank ahead of the United States in FIFA rankings at 18th, and new coach Oscar Ramirez has a Hex-experiences squad including Keylor Navas, Bryan Ruiz, Michael Umana, Celso Borges, and Joel Campbell amongst others. Kickoff from Costa Rica is scheduled for 6 p.m. EDT.

T&T takes the place of Jamaica, and will hope for a better fate than the Reggae Boyz of 2014. Jamaica scooped up just five draws in finishing six points shy of the interconfederation playoff spot.

Arsenal loan Joel Campbell to Portuguese giants Sporting

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LONDON (AP) Arsenal winger Joel Campbell is going back out on loan, this time to Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon for the rest of the season.

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The 24-year-old Costa Rica international has had previous loan spells at Lorient, Real Betis, Olympiacos and Villarreal since joining Arsenal in 2011.

[ MORE: Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup | FridayThursday ]

Campbell spent more time in the Arsenal team last season, making 30 appearances, but hasn’t featured in the first two games in the Premier League.

MLS All Stars 1-2 Arsenal: Chuba Akpom provides the late winner for the Gunners

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It’s a pre-season friendly for the Premier League side, but it never ends up playing out that way. This Thursday night in San Jose turned out to be an entertaining meeting between Arsenal and the MLS All-Star bunch that saw Arsenal youngster Chuba Akpom tap in the winner in the 87th minute after goals from Didier Drogba and Joel Campbell had evened out for much of the match.

The game was wide open early, as Theo Walcott had the game’s first chance, and Giovanni dos Santos had a good look down the other end in the ninth minute, saved by Petr Cech.

Minutes later, the opener came for the Gunners as a lovely touch from Joel Campbell chipped over MLS goalkeeper. Laurent Ciman attempted to box out Campbell as the ball trickled towards the net, but instead brought down the Arsenal striker. The foul by Ciman usually would have drawn a straight red card for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity, but not looking to ruin the event in the 10th minute, the referee pointed to the spot but only showed the Montreal defender yellow. Campbell then slotted the penalty home to give Arsenal the lead.

Elneny had a go on 26 minutes looking to double Arsenal’s lead with a vicious strike from outside the box, but Blake produced a stunning save to tip it over the bar.

With a game to play in less than 48 hours, the two NYCFC players David Villa and Andrea Pirlo departed after just a half-hour, with Sascha Kljestan and Nacho Piatti coming in.

The game seemed to settle in after the opener, although the game was not lacking competitiveness, as evident by a number of heavy challenges. Amid plenty of pre-match talk centered around Didier Drogba facing former Chelsea teammate Petr Cech, the All-Star striker leveled the match just before the halftime break. A great ball from Kljestan to Giovanni dos Santos unlocked the young Arsenal defense, and Drogba was there to finish off the chance on his third attempt, seeing the first two saved and blocked.

Arsenal brought on new signing Granit Xhaka after halftime, while USMNT youngster Gedion Zelalem came on with just over 20 minutes to go. Xhaka ripped off a good long-range shot that forced a solid diving save by substitute goalkeeper David Bingham.

The visitors brought on their youngsters as the second half eased along, with Chuba Akpom and Jeff Reine-Adelaide seeing action. Cyle Larin came on late for the MLS All-Stars, and USMNT veterans Clint Dempsey and Chris Wondolowski made appearances as well.

With the clock winding down, Chris Wondolowski brought back shades of 2014, firing over the bar with a glorious chance to win it for the MLS All-Stars after hard work by Larin down the right. Minutes later down the other end, the Gunners took the game in its grasp. An overlap to perfection between Alex Iwobi and Nacho Monreal opened things up at the near post, and the latter placed it on the doorstep for Akpom to tap home the winner.

The loss is the first for MLS All-Stars since 2013, and it’s the first in six games against a London opponent.

Arsenal 2-1 Man City: Gunners make huge statement in title race

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The 2015-16 Premier League title race will likely not be decided until late May. With Leicester City currently leading the way, and perennial top-four finishers Arsenal and Manchester City not far behind, Monday’s showdown, between the latter two, at the Emirates Stadium was chock full of title implications.

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It was Arsenal who came out on top, 2-1 at the final whistle, thanks to goals scored by Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud, and an extremely disciplined defensive effort that frustrated Man City’s prolific attacking unit for much of the game.

The game’s first real chance came and went in the 31st minute, when City unlocked the Gunners’ deep-lying midfield and defense with a quick move down the right flank. Kevin De Bruyne ended up in acres of space and racing in on goal, but the Belgian playmaker fired his bouncing effort inches wide of the far post.

[ RELATED: Watch full match replays ]

Theo Walcott opened the scoring for Arsenal barely a minute later. He received the ball from Mesut Ozil on the left edge of the City penalty area, cut inside past Bacary Sagna and rifled a low, right-footed drive through a sea of defenders and around Joe Hart, nestling itself inside the far post. It was Arsenal’s first shot of the game.

The Gunners doubled their lead during first-half stoppage time, when Olivier Giroud slotted a low screamer between the legs of Hart. The entire thing began with a wayward pass from Eliaquim Mangala into no-man’s-land midfield. The ball was quickly circulated to Ozil 25 yards from goal, where he played Giroud onto his favored left foot and the Frenchman made no mistake with his finish. With two assists in the first half, Ozil’s tally for the season rose to 15 in league play (tops in all major European leagues).

With 53 minutes on the clock, Joel Campbell nearly gave Arsenal a 3-0 lead, but the Costa Rican blazed his shot well over the crossbar after getting on the end of Nacho Monreal‘s cut-back cross toward the penalty spot. Campbell had another chance two minutes later, when he raced in one-on-one against Hart, but the England no. 1 made a clever quick save to keep the deficit at 2-0.

[ RELATED: Latest Premier League standings ]

The one-way traffic continued as yet another chance for 3-0 came and went in the 60th minute. Ozil played the ball to Campbell at the top of the penalty area, and Campbell slipped Aaron Ramsey into the penalty area with a one-touch ball but again it was Hart rushing out quickly and making the one-on-one save.

Yaya Toure gave the visitors a lifeline in the 82nd minute (above video). The Ivorian midfielder lofted a perfectly weighted, left-footed shot into the upper-90 from the top of the 18-yard box. Sagna cut the ball back to Toure, whose first-time strike left Petr Cech with no chance of intervening.

For the next 10-plus minutes, City threw numbers forward, pressed much higher up the field and chased an equalizer with everything they had. In the end, Arsenal held firm and escaped with a much-deserved victory.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

With the victory, Arsenal move to within two points of Leicester at the top of the table, while City remain in third, six points back of the Foxes. Up next for Arsenal is a Boxing Day trip to Southampton. Meanwhile, City will host Sunderland at the Etihad Stadium.

Joel Campbell could make first Premier League start for Arsenal

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Joel Campbell has been with Arsenal since 2011, but has yet to start a match in the Premier League.

That could change this weekend, as Campbell looks set to start in Arsenal’s match against Swansea City on Saturday (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on USA and online via live Extra).

The Gunners are battling injuries, with Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey all ruled out for the trip to Wales.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks — Week 11 ]

Manager Arsene Wenger said Campbell has looked strong in training, and could play a big role in the side with all the injury problems.

I have been very impressed with Campbell, his attitude is outstanding and his daily dedication in training and his desire to improve is absolutely outstanding.

I think he can be a big help for us, and he can play centre forward don’t forget that. In the coming two to three months he can be a very important player for us.

Campbell left Costa Rica for Arsenal in 2011, but has failed to hold down a place in the first-team. He has made just 14 appearances for the Gunners, spending the past four seasons on loan.

Arsenal is on a run of four-straight wins in the Premier League, tied with Manchester City on 22 points at the top of the table. If Campbell can come in and put in some strong performances and help the Gunners maintain their form, he could become a more consistent figure in the first-team.