By ADAM TROXTELL
The gap in form and confidence between Arsenal and Aston Villa was easy to see on Sunday.
Arsenal controlled the game from start to finish in a 5-0 win against the struggling Villans in London. The Gunners stormed to a fifth straight win in all competitions, while Aston Villa has now failed to score in six league games and failed to win in eight.
American goalkeeper Brad Guzan was often just a spectator in the Villa goal. In the eighth minute, Mesut Ozil’s neat flick sent Olivier Giroud one-on-one with Guzan, and the Frenchman finished with a simple chip for the early lead.
The flood gates opened in the second half, with Giroud turning provider for Ozil’s goal in the 56th minute. Theo Walcott made it three just eight minutes later before a Santi Cazorla penalty kick had the Gunners cruising back into fifth place in the Premier League.
Spanish teenager Hector Bellerin saved the best for last. Cazorla set-up the young right back for a tidy shot that glanced inside the far post. Arsenal scored on five of their eight shots on goal.
In La Liga play, Sevilla benefitted from a late Iago Aspas strike to beat Espanyol. There was also another win for a streaking Torino in Italy.
Here is a full recap of all the action from Europe’s top leagues (after the jump):
By FRANCO PANIZO
Talk about starting the new month off with a bang.
After nearly two months without a goal, Aron Johannsson got himself back on the scoresheet to help lift AZ Alkmaar to victory on Sunday. Johannsson netted his third goal of the season by scoring the opener in a 3-1 triumph against Heracles Almelo, flicking teammate Nemanja Gudelj’s shot past goalkeeper Dennis Telgenkamp in the ninth minute. The goal was the 24-year-old U.S. Men’s National Team forward’s first since Dec. 6, and helped keep AZ within striking distance of a guaranteed UEFA Europa League spot.
Fabian Johnson also snapped a humbling streak of his own this weekend. Johnson received his first start for Borussia Moenchengladbach since Oct. 5 on Saturday, going the distance in a 1-0 road win over VfB Stuttgart. Johnson was deployed as a left midfielder in the match, which was was Moenchengladbach’s first since the Bundesliga winter break.
One left-sided player who did not enjoy as good of a weekend was Greg Garza. While he saw Club Tijuana move up to first place in the Liga MX Clausura campaign with a 4-2 win over Morelia, Garza left the Friday encounter with an injury. Garza hurt his knee in the second half, and had to be replaced by fellow American Joe Corona in the 52nd minute.
Here is how the Americans Abroad fared this weekend:
By ADAM TROXTELL
Two of the hottest teams in Spain come face-to-face at the Camp Nou on Sunday with an important three points up for grabs.
Barcelona hosts Villarreal as they try to keep pace with Primera Division leaders Real Madrid. The Catalans have won seven straight games in all competitions and currently find themselves four-points behind in second place.
They meet another seemingly immovable object in the form of Villarreal, who has not lost a La Liga game since Nov. 2. It’s been 18 games since the Yellow Submarine last tasted defeat, and the streak has helped them climb to within three points of the last UEFA Champions League spot.
In England, Arsenal gets the day started with a home game against Aston Villa, who has not won a league game in seven outings. In the later game, Southampton will try to jump back into third place in the Premier League as they host Swansea.
Juventus can extend its lead at the top of the Serie A standings to nine points with a win at Udinese. Lyon is also trying to maintain a healthy title advantage on a trip to Monaco in Ligue 1 play.
Ghana faces Guinea with a trip to the African Cup of Nations semifinals on the line. The Black Stars got the better of Guinea when the two had to qualify for the tournament out of the same group, though they also tied twice. Ivory Coast plays Algeria in the second quarterfinal of the day.
If you will be watching today’s action, feel free to leave your thoughts, opinions and some play-by-play in the comments section below.
Enjoy the action (today’s soccer TV schedule after the jump):
By ADAM TROXTELL
In the absence of attacking prowess, Chelsea turned to defensive tactics to maintain a five-point lead at the top of the English Premier League.
A 1-1 draw against second-place Manchester City was enough to keep the Blues five points clear at the top. Chelsea was content to sit back and absorb pressure from the Citizens, who were determined to get three points in their quest to retain the title.
In place of the suspended Diego Costa, striker Loic Remy gave Chelsea the lead in the 42nd minute. He tapped the ball in from a low, first-time cross by Eden Hazard.
The game was level just three minutes later thanks to an important touch from David Silva. Thibaut Courtois failed to deal with a cross in front of the Chelsea goal, allowing Sergio Aguero to send a low shot to the far post that was poked in by his Spanish teammate.
Man City created plenty of chances, with five of 10 shots landing on target. The introduction of former Chelsea man Frank Lampard as they were chasing the winner only brought loud cheers from both sets of fans inside Stamford Bridge.
The high-profile match of the day in Germany also ended in a draw, as neither Bayer Leverkusen nor relegation-threatened Borussia Dortmund found the back of the net. In Spain, both Madrid teams eased to victory.
Here is a full look at the action from Europe (recap after the jump):
By ADAM TROXTELL
Chris Wondolowski appears to have a new striking partner in San Jose.
The Earthquakes announced the signing of Swiss goal scorer Innocent Emeghara as the club’s third designated player on Saturday, pending receipt of his P-1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate.
Emeghara, 25, comes to MLS after scoring five goals in eight appearances for Azerbaijani side Qarabag Agbam during the 2014-15 season.
“It is always good to sign a forward who has the potential to run away from the defense, but also who is clever enough to join in the play,” San Jose head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “He is a good signing for the league and our team. He will be a threat to score every time he steps on the field.”
Prior to his time in Azerbaijan, Emeghara made a name for himself in Europe. He scored seven goals and notched two assists in 17 games for Italian Serie A team Siena, and he also spent time on loan at Livorno.
Before that, Emeghara played for FC Lorient in the French Ligue 1. He played for Swiss Super League club Grasshoppers Club Zurich, tallying 15 goals and 12 assists in 46 games. He has nine caps with the Switzerland National Team, but is originally from Lagos, Nigeria.