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FA Cup: Arsenal survive Leeds scare thanks to Nelson goal

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Arsenal are through to the fourth round of the FA Cup, barely, after surviving a noble effort from EFL Championship leaders Leeds United at the Emirates Stadium on Monday.

[ MORE: Full results from FA Cup 4th round draw ]

For 45 minutes, the Gunners were the second-best side, by some distance. The performance was so dire that defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos reportedly gestured to the crowd to calm down and ease off their criticisms moments before halftime. Manager Mikel Arteta “shouted a lot” at halftime, according to forward Alexandre Lacazette, and everything changed in the second half.

20-year-old Reiss Nelson scored the game’s only goal in the 55th minute. It came in somewhat fortunate circumstance as Nelson got on the end of a touch by Nicolas Pepe, and goalkeeper Illan Meslier couldn’t keep hold of the ball after making the initial save.

[ MORE: Tottenham end racism investigation due to lack of evidence ]

Leeds out-shot Arsenal by a margin of 14-3 in the first, before the Gunners roared to life in the final 45 minutes and dominated the second period by an 11-3 tally.

Following the fourth-round draw earlier on Monday, Arsenal will be away to fellow Premier League side Bournemouth in the fourth round on the weekend beginning Jan 24.

Leeds, Bielsa win Fair Play honor at FIFA’s The Best awards

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Well this is peak FIFA.

Football’s governing body has just awarded Leeds United and much-admired manager Marcelo Bielsa its FIFA Fair Play award at its 2019 The Best awards ceremony in Milan.

[ MORE: Klopp wins manager award ]

The reason the Whites won the award is understandable, if you just ignore the fact that they were publicly caught cheating months earlier… and that the “fair play” moment came after an extremely questionable play which led to a brawl.

The win comes for Bielsa’s decision in late April, when his player Mateusz Klich scored a goal despite Aston Villa’s Jonathan Kodija being injured on the pitch.

Bielsa instructed his players to allow Villa to tie the match after a post-goal fight saw a red card to Anwar El Ghazi.

Fair play? Sure, and Leeds kissed goodbye its slim hopes of finishing in automatic promotion place in the Championship.

However, Leeds was also caught monitoring Derby County training sessions, leading to Bielsa to admit in January that he had spied “all the rivals” that season.

I mean, who were the other nominees? Jose Callejon and the Turkish player who fouled players with a sharp object during play?

Bielsa admitted this during an extraordinary Powerpoint session for media members in England which showed the maniacal depths of his preparation, which curried a lot of favor with the media and fans.

Yes, even though he admitted Leeds cheated the whole season.

He also said, “I thought I wasn’t violating the norm,” which is ridiculous.

Now of course we should be too pious, either; A whole lot of teams cheat in this way and football is a cutthroat game. Bielsa is a managerial legend and loved by Pep Guardiola, Mauricio Pochettino, and Jorge Sampaoli.

Mina, Stevens charged by FA over breaking gambling rules

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Everton’s Yerry Mina and Leeds United’s Jordan Stevens have both been charged by the English Football Association over breaking gambling rules.

Stevens, 19, has been banned from all soccer related activity for six weeks after placing 59 bets last season, including five on Leeds. He was also fines $1,482.

Mina has been fined $12,300 and warned about his future conduct after he appeared in an advert for a betting company in his homeland of Colombia. He was charged in July and has now been charged.

Leeds chief executive Angus Kinnear released a strong statement with regards to the sanctions against Stevens.

“We are hugely disappointed in the FA’s choice of sanction,” Kinnear said. “To prevent a young footballer from taking part in any football activities at such a critical period of his career is a disproportionate punishment following a foolish mistake from a young player. We are particularly disappointed that the sanction was determined by two former professional footballers who we hoped would have had a better understanding of the impact of their decision.”

In recent years Daniel Sturridge, Joey Barton and others have been charged by the FA for breaching betting rules and with the rise in availability of betting on sports in the UK it is an issue which will continue to crop up.

Professional players in the UK are banned from betting on any soccer, no matter what game or team are involved.

Rashford, James, Pogba star as Manchester United hammers Leeds in Perth

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Manchester United topped Leeds 4-0 in a comprehensive victory in Perth that saw Marcus Rashford and new signing Daniel James run rampant down the flanks.

Rashford scored in the 27th minute with a beautiful move down the left that threw two Leeds defenders into each other, while James struck the post just before halftime on an overlap down the right in his Red Devils debut.

Also on the scoresheet was 17-year-old Mason Greenwood who received a hard, low cross from fellow debutant Aaron Wan-Bissaka and beat two Leeds defenders in a footrace to the ball on the doorstep for a sliding finish. The move was started by Paul Pogba who found the new Manchester United defender down the right with a wonderful through-ball, leading to the delivery into the box. Greenwood has had quite the last 12 months, scoring for the Manchester United U-17, U-18, U-23, and now senior side all in that span.

After the break, Phil Jones found the back of the net by powering home a corner with his head, while Anthony Martial finished off the scoreline with a penalty after Tahith Chong was fouled in the area by Liam Cooper. Chong impressed throughout the second half, linking well with fellow Manchester United youth product Angel Gomes.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer found playing time for just about every first-teamer, completely changing the side at halftime. Nemanja Matic was one of the halftime introductions, but was curiously withdrawn with 12 minutes to go, unclear if due to injury. The only Red Devil in the squad to not see the field was 21-year-old Axel Tuanzebe.

Transfer wrap: Leicester buys $38M Newcastle star; Latest on Maguire

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The most amazing part of Tuesday’s transfer buzz was not that Newcastle United had sold long-time attacker Ayoze Perez, rather the price tag.

Whispered as a $22 million target for clubs in his native Spain for some time, Perez has reportedly been sold within the Premier League for a whopping $37 million.

Is Leicester already spending that Harry Maguire money?

[ USWNT: Player ratings | 3 things ]

Assuming a passed physical, the Magpies will add that to their new coach’s transfer kitty (allegedly).

Perez, 25, would finish his time at Newcastle with 195 appearances. He led the team in scoring last season with 12 goals, his best league performance with the Magpies in any division.

We know transfer fees are going up every year, but wow.

  • Speaking of bonkers fees, this one was suspected but still eyebrow-raising: Spurs won the rights to Tanguy Ndombele of Lyon with a record $82 million purchase which slaughters the $45 million the North London side spent on Davinson Sanchez.
  • Spurs also added Leeds United winger Jack Clarke for $11 million, and will loan him back for the 2019-20 season.
  • Sky Sports says Manchester City is willing to match Manchester United’s $90 million bid for Leicester’s Harry Maguire, a bid which was reportedly denied. Maguire has four years remaining on a rich contract, but reports continue to mention his willingness to leave for UEFA Champions League pastures despite plenty of love for the King Power Stadium club.