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02/11/2014
 
Liga MX team Santos Laguna started their Copa Libertadores journey on the right foot after defeating Argentinian squad Arsenal de Sarandi 1-0 with a goal by Oribe Peralta, who ended his scoring drought in superb fashion at the Estadio Corona in their first game after 10 years of not participating in the biggest tournament of the American continent.

Santos Laguna covered every inch of the field since the start of the game, knowing that it was crucial to start collecting points and making the most of their home field advantage in the early stages of the tournament if they hope to make out of the group stage.

The Argentinian squad, seemed content just falling back, trying to minimize the damage that Pedro Caixinha's boys could cause the 2007 South American Cup champions.

It would take the home team 19 minutes to open the scoring, when Colombian forward Darwin Quintero smashed through 3 different defenders into the opposition's penalty box to set up unmarked Mexican star striker Oribe Peralta with a perfect ball in front of goal that he rifled into Campestrini's back of the net.

3 minutes later. the Arse had a chance to equalize the game when Damian Perez headed towards goal from a corner kick but defender Jose Abella managed to deflect in order to save Santos.

On the final minutes of the first half, Oribe Peralta scored again but this time from an offside position., thus ending the first half with Santos on top.

Gustavo Alfaro's squad, realized that Santos didn't had their full heart on the game and since the weather was nice and the attendance modest, Arsenal de Sarandi came out swinging feeling comfortable at the Corona stadium.

They started moving the ball on the midfield, making their way into Oswaldo's danger zone, breaking down the Santos defense very easily all throughout the second half.

Martin Rolle and Mariano Echeverria both got together to terrorize Oswaldo Sanchez, who was key in Santos being able to retain their 1-0 lead, after various reflex saves that made the veteran keeper look like the once intimidating force that protected the 3 posts of the Mexican national team.

Santos also had a chance to widen the gap when Darwin Quintero caught a ball inside the penalty box, just in front of goal but his shot went above the post, leaving Santos feeling a little desperate for losing control of the game.

But thanks to retaining ball possession, an amazing midfield job in recovering the ball and a superb performance by the legendary Mexican keeper, Santos was able to stand their ground against the relentless assault of the 2012 Argentinian Primera Division champions.

The team from the Comarca Lagunera rises to the first place of group 8 with 3 points, but their position is still subject to change as Uruguayan team Peñarol faces Colombian squad Deportivo Anzoategui on Wednesday, February 12.

 
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08/05/2013
 
Matthias Ginter, who has done international duty in Germany's U-21 team, could soon be part of the Emirates side, according to a report in the Sun. The move was due a month ago when Ginter's club, Freiburg, were to let go of the player after they got Francis Coquelin on loan to replace Ginter. The move got delayed pending some mutual matters that needed sorting out between Freiburg and Arsenal.

Wenger is reported to have agreed a transfer fee of about $10.5m for the youngster, only the second signing of the season for Gunners who had earlier welcomed Auxerre's Yaya Sanogo into their fold.

Nineteen-year old Ginter will bring fluidity to Arsenal's midfield with his ability to play in both his natural defensive midfield position and in central defense, thereby plugging the gap in midfield and defense that Arsenal betrayed last season.

Ginter's signing comes at a time when Arsene Wenger is under pressure from fans to get marquee names to the club, especially after being given a handsome transfer kitty in excess of $100m by the club owners. In light of that fact, Ginter's coming could do little to appease Gooners who have been fed a steady diet of big name rumors through the summer, with the club linked by the grapevine with signings of the likes of Fellaini and Suárez. 

That said, there's no gainsaying the value that Ginter represents after 36 appearances for Freiburg in Germany's top-flight competition. After a goal on debut in a crucial relegation game, Ginter has never looked back and the youngster's 6'2" frame should serve to add an intimidating dimension to Arsenal's defense in the upcoming league season.
 
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08/04/2013
 

Didier Drogba returned to haunt Arsenal as the Ivory Coast striker scored both goals in Galatasaray's 2-1 victory in the Emirates Cup on Sunday. Drogba made a habit of scoring against Arsene Wenger's team when he was at Chelsea and, after appearing as a half-time substitute, his strikes overturned Theo Walcott's first half opener and ensured the Turkish team won the four-team pre-season tournament.


Wenger's men paid the price at their Emirates Stadium for failing to make the most of early pressure and Drogba's contribution highlighted just why Wenger is trying to add Liverpool striker Luis Suárez to his squad. With the pursuit of Suárez having so far failed despite Arsenal making a bid over $60 million for the Uruguay international, France under-20 striker Yaya Sanogo is the only pre-season addition to Wenger's squad.


Sanogo's inclusion in the starting line-up attracted much of the attention following Wenger's claims the youngster was a "top class" striker who would surprise many this season. And the former Auxerre youngster was handed an immediate opportunity to make an impression when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain dispossessed Semih Kaya and picked out his unmarked team-mate in the visitors' penalty area.


Sanogo made room for a left foot shot but was unable to find a way past Fernando Muslera, Galatasaray's Uruguayan goalkeeper. The youngster again found himself free inside the Galatasaray area shortly before half time following an intricate passing move and was spared by the offside flag after his tame shot had again been saved by Muslera. In between those openings Arsenal largely dominated the first half, appearing sharper than they had in a 2-2 draw against Napoli the previous day.


A strong appeal for a penalty was turned down when Aaron Ramsey went tumbling early on before Walcott failed to make the most of a 19th minute opportunity after being picked out by an accurate long ball from Ramsey.


Walcott controlled the ball well to take him away from Albert Riera but his clip over the advancing Muslera drifted wide. Fortune, however, was on Walcott's side when he made the 39th minute breakthrough.

Finding himself in space on the left hand flank, Walcott whipped in a right-footed cross that drifted between Muslera and his Galatasaray's defensive line before creeping inside the far post.


Arsenal's half-time lead was deserved but the introduction of Drogba and Wesley Sneijder at the interval lifted the visitors, who immediately looked more threatening as Nordin Amarabat forced Wojciech Szczesny into a save at his near post. Olivier Giroud appeared for Arsenal in place of Sanogo and twice forced saves from Muslera. But Drogba was always likely to make his presence felt and the forward struck his 78th minute spot-kick past Szczesny after going to ground following the slightest of touches from young Arsenal defender Ignasi Miguel. And the Ivorian - who scored 15 goals in 15 appearances for Chelsea against Arsenal - sealed the victory with an excellent piece of one-touch control and a fine left foot finish in the 87th minute.


Earlier Porto had romped to a 3-1 victory over Rafael Benitez's Napoli. Goran Pandev had given Napoli a 43rd minute lead from the penalty spot but Benitez's side were unable to hold on. Second half goals from Nabil Ghilas and Lica, either side of an own goal from Federico Fernandez, did the damage for Porto.

 
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08/03/2013
 
Laurent Koscielny's late header salvaged a 2-2 draw for Arsenal in their Emirates Cup clash with Napoli on Saturday, but the Gunners' inconsistent performance will have strengthened Arsene Wenger's desire to improve his squad.


Wenger has so far failed to land any of his main transfer targets, including Liverpool forward Luis Suárez, and the frailties shown by a familiar looking line-up as the home side fell behind to first half goals from Lorenzo Insigne and Goran Pandev provided cause for concern.


To make matters worse, Arsenal striker Lukas Podolski saw a penalty saved in the opening 45 minutes of the four-team pre-season tournament. But Gunners boss Wenger could at least draw comfort from a much improved second half display that was capped by Olivier Giroud's goal and then Koscielny's equaliser in the final minutes.


Gonzalo Higuaín's presence in the Napoli squad served as a reminder of Arsenal's failure to recruit during the close season, with the former Real Madrid striker opting for a move to Italy ahead of a switch to the Emirates Stadium.


Wenger's focus has since switched to Suárez, but while a forward has been his priority, the way his defense performed during the opening 45 minutes served as a reminder of weaknesses elsewhere in his squad.


Both goals came as a result of poor defending and with Napoli repeatedly threatening on the break, there was much to concern Wenger.


Wenger has been linked with a move for Ashley Williams, the Swansea captain, and Arsenal scouts were in south Wales this week to watch the central defender in action in the Europa League tie with Malmo.


This display will only encourage further interest as Insigne's third minute opening goal came from an individual error by Carl Jenkinson.


The Gunners right back inexplicably attempted to head a floated through ball back to keeper Lukasz Fabianski but succeeded only in looping the ball into the path of the Napoli winger who volleyed home from close range.


Arsenal's soft centre was then exposed once more in the 28th minute when Marek Hamsik was allowed to advance unchallenged deep into the home half before releasing Pandev.


The Macedonia striker drifted away from Per Mertesacker far too easily and rounded Fabianski before chipping the ball home.


In between those goals, Podolski had the opportunity to bring Arsenal back into the game from the penalty spot after Valon Behrami had brought down home left back Kieran Gibbs. However, the Germany international failed to take the chance, striking the ball too close to Jose Reina, who marked his first appearance back in England since his acrimonious loan move from Liverpool with a comfortable save. Reina later saved well from Per Mertesacker's header, while Jack Wilshere came close after the break with a right foot shot after a fine run.


Arsenal were finally rewarded for their improved second half showing when Giroud met Theo Walcott's left wing corner with an acrobatic overhead kick in the 73rd minute. Koscielny then claimed the leveler with three minutes left, following up after Reina had saved from Mertesacker.


Earlier in the day, Galatasaray beat FC Porto 1-0 thanks to a 70th minute Felipe Melo penalty. Porto, meanwhile, twice missed from the spot, first through Jackson Martínez and then Lucho González.

 
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