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Arsenal and Spurs battle for £30m Riyad Mahrez

Published in Football Transfers
Sunday, 15 October 2017 08:52

Arsenal and Spurs both want Riyad Mahrez, Barcelona target Virgil van Dijk, Everton monitor William Carvalho and Mauricio Pochettino wants to manage England.

Arsenal ease to win against Brighton

Published in England Premier League
Monday, 02 October 2017 07:21

Premier League, Emirates Stadium – Arsenal 2 (Monreal 16, Iwobi 56) Brighton and Hove Albion 0

Arsenal cruised to a comfortable 2-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion at the Emirates Stadium, with Nacho Monreal and Alex Iwobi scoring the goals.

Alexandre Lacazette almost gave them the lead with a brilliant half-volley from 30 yards which hit the post, but it was Monreal who broke the deadlock after Brighton failed to clear from a free kick.

Solly March had a shot from distance strike the post with a rare attack for the visitors, but Arsenal went into the break one ahead.

In the second half, an excellent Alexis Sanchez backheel set up Alex Iwobi for Arsenal's second as the Chilean returned to something closer to his best form.

An easy victory saw Arsenal move into fifth, behind Chelsea on goal difference, while Brighton remain in 14th going into the international break.
TALKING POINT

Arsenal demonstrate the gap at the top. Manchester United found it easy against Palace yesterday, and Arsenal cantered to victory today. They were never troubled, and Brighton were in damage limitation mode from the very start. This season might be decided by how the top teams fare against one another, with no chances for dropped points against the lower sides.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal): He was nowhere near the best of last season, but after a few poor games he was far better against Brighton. His backheel was a rare moment of class for Arsenal in what was otherwise a straightfoward performance. They will need him for at least the next few months when they take on the best sides in the league.
PLAYER RATINGS

Arsenal: Cech 6, Holding 6, Mustafi 6, Monreal 7, Bellerin 6, Ramsey 5, Xhaka 7, Kolasinac 6, Iwobi 7, Alexis 7, Lacazette 7. Subs: Elneny 6, Walcott 6, GIroud 6.

Brighton: Ryan 6, Bruno 5, Dunk 5, Duffy 5, Bong 5, Izquierdo 6, Stephens 6, Propper 6, March 6, Gross 5, Brown 5. Subs: Knockaert 6, Murray 7, Schelotto 6.

KEY EVENTS

2' - POST! Lacazette almost opens the scoring for Arsenal when his half volley from 30 yards out crashes against the post.

16' - GOAL! Arsenal 1-0 Brighton. Monreal scores - Xhaka curls in a free kick to the box, the ball is semi-cleared, it comes out to Bellerin, and his effort is blocked, and it bounces to Monreal to turn into net.
23' - MARCH SHOT - March leathers a shot from distance that beats Cech for pace, and crashes against the post. It was a superb effort.

42' - RYAN SAVE - Arsenal break from a corner, Sanchez finds Bellerin who works it to Kolasinac, and he sqaures it to Ramsey only for him to hit it far too close to Ryan, who beats it away.

56' - GOAL! Arsenal 2-0 Brighton. Iwobi scores - A quick flowing move through the Brighton defence sees Sanchez near the penalty spot, surrounded by Brighton players. He's trapped, but backheels the bal and it rolls to Iwobi in space behind him, who finishes at the near post.

62' - MARCH CLEARANCE - Kolasinac meets a corner from the right wing and aims it at the near corner, but March is on hand to head it off the line.

KEY STAT

Brighton are yet to win an away point in the Premier League.

Theo Walcott brace eases Arsenal past BATE Borisov

Published in Europa League
Friday, 29 September 2017 11:10

Borisov Arena, Europa League - BATE Borisov 2 (Ivanic 28' Gordeichuk 67') Arsenal 4 (Walcott 9' 22' Holding 25' Giroud 49' pen)

A brace from Theo Walcott and goals from Olivier Giroud and Rob Holding gave Arsenal a 4-2 win over BATE Borisov in the Europa League.
Arsene Wenger rested players such as Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil for a potentially tricky tie in Belarus, but he had little to worry about.

Arsenal won their second consecutive group match, with a victory made possible by a superb performance by Jack Wilshere. His drive from midfield created both goals for Walcott, then Holding got his first for the club from a corner. Mirko Ivanic gave the home side hope with a great header.

In the second half, Olivier Giroud scored his 100th goal for the Gunners – a penalty – after the ref harshly penalised Dragun for holding Mustafi's shirt. However, slack defending allowed Mikhail Gordeichuk to score his side's second.
A nervy finish stretched Arsenal at the back, but their brilliant opening blitz had secured victory.

TALKING POINT

Wilshere showed what he is capable of, but he must find consistency. We all know that Wilshere has terrible luck with injuries, and that he is often his worst enemy in terms of behaving himself off the pitch. But what we haven't seen for years now is a performance like his against Borisov. He was full of direct running and strength, allied to superb passing for those around him. It was only Borisov, and there is a way to go yet, but this is either a frustrating reminder or a glimpse of a potential recovery.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Theo Walcott (Arsenal): Wilshere was at the heart of the victory, but another superb performer was Theo Walcott. He rarely shows a ruthlessness in front of goal, but his early contributions let Arsenal relax into the game rather than panic in an unfamiliar country and competition. Like Wilshere, consistency is the key for him.
PLAYER RATINGS

BATE Borisov: Scherbitski 6, Rios 6, Gaiduchik 6, Milunovic 5, Polyakov 6, Volodko 6, Dragun 5, Gordeichuk 7, Ivanic 7, Stasevich 5, Rodionov 6. Subs: Signevich 7, Baga 6.

Arsenal: Ospina 7, Holding 7, Mertesacker 6, Mustafi 6, Willock 7, Elneny 6, Nelson 7, Maitland-Niles 7, Walcott 8, Wilshere 8, Giroud 7. Subs: McGuane 7, Nketiah 6.

KEY EVENTS

9' - GOAL! BATE 0-1 Arsenal. Walcott scores - Wilshere plays a one-two into the box off Giroud, and he clips in a cross from the left for Walcott to head in from a few yards out.

22' - GOAL! BATE 0-2 Arsenal. Walcott scores - Scherbitski receives a back pass, and he scuffs a clearance as Giroud closes in. It goes straight to Walcott, who has a simple shot straight past the 'keeper and into the far corner.

25' - GOAL! BATE 0-3 Arsenal. Holding scores - The corner is swung in from the left, Mertesacker meets it, it comes off Holding's shins, and that's three.
28' - GOAL! BATE 1-3 Arsenal. Ivanic scores - It's a great header from Ivanic, meeting a cross from Rios at the near post, and it flies into the top near corner and past Ospina.

48' - PENALTY! Walcott sends in a cross from a free kick, and Dragun is penalised for holding Mustafi's shirt. It's a soft one, certainly.

49' - GOAL! BATE 1-4 Arsenal. Giroud scores - From the spot, Giroud sends a well-struck low shot to his left, with the keeper going the other way.

67' - GOAL! BATE 2-4 Arsenal. Gordeichuk scores - A cross from the left comes to Holding who fails to deal with it, it's played on to Gordeichuk, and Mertesacker can't react quickly enough before he stabs home.

Arsenal are Arsenal even when they win

Published in England Premier League
Tuesday, 26 September 2017 07:28

Liverpool and Manchester United fans get a warning, a keeper makes some saves and we all love Xabi Alonso.

Arsenal's retro cup revival, Adil Rami's bedroom rival

Published in England Premier League
Thursday, 21 September 2017 08:00

Jack Lang spent last night mainlining Carabao to bring you all the morning's essential football news...

Memory games

And the Wednesday-night award for partying like it’s 2013 goes to… let me just get this envelope open… Arsenal!

Yes, it was retro night at the Emirates, with the Gunners shaking off their terminal late-Wenger blues and donning the glad rags of the New Hope years, bright young English talent to the fore. The result wasn’t exactly one to get the party started (1-0 vs Doncaster) but at least the occasion was texturally authentic.

There was Theo Walcott (“Theo” to the legions of Arsenal fans who have somehow convinced themselves they know him personally), buzzing round, scoring the winner and then looking miffed at being subbed off, knowing he won’t play again for another four or five weeks. Just like old times.

There was Calum Chambers (“Calum”) at the back, looking like a future England captain, honestly. Him and Rob: massive future. Massive. There were vintage League Cup run-outs for Football Manager regens Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Josh Dasilva. Maybe one day one of them will be as good as Sanchez Watt.

Mainly, though, there was Jack “Jack” Wilshere, playing 90 minutes for the first time since the industrial revolution and catching the eye.

It’s understandable that Arsenal fans should get excited about this. Wilshere remains, beneath the literal and metaphorical scar tissue, a player of rare poise, capable of lighting up any game. Yet (a) it’s Doncaster, lads and (b) we’ve been here so many times before. By this point, we know that the disappointment arrives almost concurrent to the hope.

As with Wilshere, so with Arsenal. This was a diverting throwback to more innocent times, but surely no more than that. We’ve seen the future; we know how it all ends.

Disciplined Arsenal earn draw at Chelsea as David Luiz sees red

Published in England Premier League
Monday, 18 September 2017 07:01

Premier League, Stamford Bridge - Chelsea 0 Arsenal 0

Arsenal produced a robust performance to earn a 0-0 draw with Premier League champions Chelsea as David Luiz saw red late on at Stamford Bridge.

Arsene Wenger was berated prior to the match for dropping Alexis Sanchez to the bench, but his tactic did not affect the team's mood as they produced an obdurate display to frustrate Antonio Conte's side with substitute Sanchez playing the final 25 minutes in a solid team performance.

Shkodran Mustafi had a goal disallowed on 77 minutes when he was offside while Chelsea's frustration boiled over on 87 minutes when David Luiz received a straight red for a high, two-footed challenge on Sead Kolasinac, who was lucky to escape serious injury.

It was the first draw at Stamford Bridge in 16 months, but an outcome that ended Arsenal's five-match losing run at the venue.
The visitors had lost two of their first four league matches with the record 4-0 loss at Liverpool fuelling the ongoing debate about Wenger's position as manager. But this will quell his critics at least for another week.

After defeats on the road at Stoke and Anfield, this was much more like it from Arsenal at a ground where they had not won since October 2011.

The result means Antonio Conte's Blues stay third, three points behind leaders Manchester City, while the Gunners pick up their first point on their travels this term and remain 12th.

TALKING POINT

Gritty Gunners provide blueprint for the future. A dogged, hard-fought away point. It's pretty much a case of 'about time' from the Gunners and in stark contrast to their collapse at Liverpool - another top-six rival - a few weeks ago.

Too often their stars have come up short in the big matches away from Emirates Stadium and it was interesting that they did it without Mesut Ozil (injured) and left Alexis Sanchez on the bench for over an hour before he replaced Alexandre Lacazette.

It brought to an end a run of a five straight league defeats at Stamford Bridge and seemed to surprise many observers.
Arsenal fans have grown accustomed to seeing history repeat itself in recent years, but while they have now yet to win in 14 visits to last season's top six sides, this showing echoed memories of that 2-0 win at Man City back in January 2015.

They now need to use it as the blueprint for the future. Watch this space.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal). Epitomised Arsenal's new-found discipline on the road. Worked tirelessly alongside Granit Xhaka and almost capped a mature display with a goal when he hit the post in the first period.
CHELSEA: Courtois 7, Azpilicueta 7, Luiz 5, Cahill 7, Moses 8, Kante 7, Fabregas 8, Alonso 7, Willian 6, Morata 6, Pedro 6. Subs: Bakayoko 7, Hazard 6, Christensen n/a.

ARSENAL: Cech 7, Bellerin 8, Koscielny 8, Mustafi 7, Monreal 8, Kolasinac 8, Xhaka 7, Ramsey 8, Iwobi 6, Welbeck 6, Lacazette 6. Subs: Sanchez 6, Giroud n/a, Elneny n/a.

KEY MOMENTS

16' - ARSENAL CHANCE. Bellerin plays a lovely one-two with Iwobi and delivers a lovely cross that Welbeck guides just wide of the far post.

18' - ARSENAL CHANCE. Bellerin with more great work down the right. He surges into the box and cuts it back for Lacazette who sees his first-time shot on the run well saved by Courtois.

21' CHELSEA CHANCE! Arsenal caught high up the pitch as Fabregas turns well deep in midfield and plays a wonderful through pass for Pedro to race onto. The Spaniard holds off a late challenge but his shot lacks conviction and Cech pulls off a smart save.

41' - ARSENAL HIT THE POST. Ramsey stumbles his way into the left of the area and past two challenges before firing in a low shot that comes back off the post. The rebound falls to Lacazette who somehow steers wide of target.

76' - GOOOA - OFFSIDE! Mustafi heads home the free kick from the right - but he's offside! Big sigh of relief from Chelsea.
88' - RED CARD! Luiz flies into a late lunge on Kolasinac after he lost control of the ball unde pressure from Sanchez. The studs were up and the referee had no choice but to give him a straight red card.

KEY STATS

Chelsea have been given as many red cards in their last five Premier League games (3) as they had in their previous 73.
The Gunners have now gone three top-flight away matches without a goal for the first time since 1994-95.
Chelsea are unbeaten in 27 top-flight home matches played on a Sunday (W19, D8).
Chelsea failed to score in a competitive home match under Antonio Conte for the first time (27 games).

UEFA brings charges against Arsenal and Koln after crowd trouble in Europa League match

Published in Europa League
Friday, 15 September 2017 10:31

Fernando Alonso is waiting for McLaren to confirm their switch from Honda to Renault engines before he clarifies his own Formula One future.

McLaren are expected to announce at the Singapore Grand Prix on Friday an end to their troubled three-year partnership with the Japanese manufacturer and a new deal with Renault starting next season.

Alonso, who won his two world championships with the Renault team in 2005 and 2006, has made having a competitive engine a condition of his staying at McLaren. His contract expires at the end of the season.

The Spaniard is expected to extend his three-year stay at the team, but he was giving little away on Thursday.
"I will think what is the best option," Alonso told reporters. "As I said many times whatever I do next year is because I want to win. At the same time I want to give time to my team. After they (McLaren) take decisions, I will take mine,” the 36-year-old added.

Alonso has spent the last three years mired at the back of the field.

He scored his last win at his home Spanish Grand Prix in 2013, with Ferrari, and has scored a meagre 75 points since he rejoined McLaren at the start of their partnership with Honda in 2015.

The Spaniard has finished no higher than 10th in the overall standings in that time.
With his dream fading of winning a third world title to equal hero Ayrton Senna, Alonso has set his sights on completing the 'Triple Crown' by chasing victories in the Indy 500 and 24 Hours of Le Mans to add to his Formula One title.

The 36-year-old skipped Formula One’s blue-riband Monaco Grand Prix, a race he has won before, to compete in the Indy 500 last year, with the race ending in frustration and a blown Honda engine with 21 laps remaining of the 200.

He has said he was considering offers from other series, but that his priority remained Formula One.

"You just need to be patient and wait a couple of weeks," he said on Thursday.

"For my fans and motorsport lovers they will have a fantastic 2018 season. The plan is ongoing and very good things are coming." (Editing by Toby Davis)

Arsene Wenger "always happy" at Arsenal after United link surfaces

Published in England Premier League
Monday, 11 September 2017 07:43

Arsene Wenger insists he was never tempted to quit Arsenal for Manchester United.

The Frenchman has been in charge of the Gunners for over two decades but, according to former United chairman Martin Edwards, he came close to leaving for Old Trafford.

Sir Alex Ferguson had decided to retire at the end of the 2001-02 season and Edwards wrote in his new autobiography that Wenger was his first choice to replace the Scot.

Instead, Ferguson changed his mind and signed a new deal but Edwards claims he met Wenger to discuss the role having been given the indication there was some attraction from the Arsenal boss.
"Our first choice was Arsene," he said in his forthcoming book Red Glory: Manchester United and Me. "We thought he was the best candidate to replace Alex. Certainly he was my number one choice.

"So we made our approach and Wenger did show a little bit of interest, enough to want to meet (chief executive) Peter Kenyon and me at his house in London to listen to what we had to say."

Wenger would not divulge any information about the discussions when pressed on the matter following Arsenal's 3-0 Premier League win over Bournemouth on Saturday. But the 67-year-old insisted he did not see leaving for United as an option.
"I am always very confidential," he said. "Maybe one day I will get all the contacts I had during my stay at Arsenal and it will make a few chapters, but you should ask Martin Edwards. No (I was never tempted by Manchester United) because I was always happy here. More than people were happy with me, I was always happy here."

When asked why he turned down the opportunity, Wenger pointed to the progress made under him at Arsenal since he had taken charge in 1996.

"Because I love the values of this club," he explained. "For me, a club is about values first and as well because I know what has changed. One day it would be a good chat to have with the press to look at the evolution. "A lot has changed, but when I came here this club was about values that I love in sport and that's why I'm still in the competition. "So I will always question myself. Yes, of course Man Utd is attractive, but am I happy here? The answer is yes."

Danny Welbeck double downs Bournemouth as Alexis Sanchez greeted with boos at Arsenal

Published in England Premier League
Sunday, 10 September 2017 06:56

Premier League, Emirates Stadium - Arsenal 3 (Welbeck 6, 50, Lacazette 27) Bournemouth

Danny Welbeck scored twice and Alexandre Lacazette found the net as Arsenal secured a much-needed 3-0 win over Bournemouth.

After suffering a crushing defeat to Liverpool before the international break, it was imperative Arsenal returned to winning ways. And they made the perfect start when, after just six minutes, Welbeck opened the scoring when he headed in from Sead Kolasinac’s cross.

From here, the Gunners were in complete control and they doubled their advantage shortly after when Lacazette curled in his second goal in Arsenal colours from the edge of the penalty area.

Jermain Defoe, yet to score since his return to Bournemouth, struck the post after the restart and moments later Arsenal were celebrating their third when Welbeck capitalised on some poor defending to finish from Aaron Ramsey’s perfectly weighted pass. Alexis Sanchez also made an appearance from the bench after his deadline day move to Manchester City fell through and the forward was greeted with boos from some corners of the home support.

The win moves Arsenal to ninth in the Premier League table but they face a much sterner test when they visit Chelsea next Sunday. Meanwhile, Bournemouth are yet to record their first points of the season and remain 19th.

TALKING POINT

How big was the Arsenal recovery? Yes, Arsenal have chalked up a convincing and well deserved victory, but Bournemouth’s inability to defend meant it was always going to be a one-sided affair. In truth, this result will likely only paper over the cracks at the Emirates and the real test will come at Stamford Bridge. However, one thing Arsene Wenger will have learnt is that Lacazette simply has to start every match, when fit, such is his immense quality.
MAN OF THE MATCH

Danny Welbeck (Arsenal): The 26-year-old was tasked with filling the boots of Sanchez and he didn't let Arsene Wenger down, as he produced a stunning performance. Must surely keep his place for the visit to Chelsea.

PLAYER RATINGS

Arsenal: Cech 6, Bellerin 7, Kolasinac 8, Koscielny 7, Mustafi 7, Ramsey 8, Monreal 7, Xhaka 7, Ozil 8, Welbeck 9, Lacazette 9. Subs: Sanchez 7, Giroud 7, Coquelin 6.

Bournemouth: Begovic 7, Cook 5, Ake 5, Daniels 5, Smith 5, Arter 5, Mings 5, Gosling 5, Fraser 5, King 5, Defoe 5. Subs: Francis 5, Mousset 5, Ibe 5.
KEY MOMENTS

6’ - GOAL! Arsenal 1-0 Bournemouth (Danny Welbeck). This is EXACTLY the start the Gunners needed! Aaron Ramsey feeds Sead Kolasinac down the channel, the full-back picks out the unmarked Welbeck at the near post and the England international makes the finish. All too easy for the hosts.

15’ - GREAT SAVE! It is indeed Ozil with the shot. He curls the ball over the wall, it looks to be heading for the top corner, but Begovic is at full stretch to keep it out.

27’ - GOAL! Arsenal 2-0 Bournemouth (Alexandre Lacazette). Ozil drills a ball forward from deep and Nathan Ake gambles on the interception and completely misses the ball. Lacazette takes control, curling the ball into the top corner from the edge of the penalty area..

37’ - CHANCE! Oh my, Arsenal almost score a third, in comical style! Tyrone Mings plays the ball back to Begovic and the Bournemouth goalkeeper is quickly charged down by Welbeck! The loose ball falls kindly for Lacazette but Begovic is down quickly to save his first-time effort.
50’ - GOAL! Arsenal 3-0 Bournemouth (Danny Welbeck). Moments after Bournemouth hit the post, Arsenal come forward and score their third. Once again the visitors concede possession in a dangerous area, Ramsey comes forward and plays Welbeck through with a weighted pass and he makes no mistake, side-footing the ball into the corner of the goal.

59’ - INCHES WIDE! Welbeck, on a hat-trick, closes in on goal and tries an audacious chip! The ball skids just wide of the far post, however.

78’ - CHANCE! Sanchez plays a clever reverse pass to Giroud and the Frenchman, searching for his 100th goal for the club, sees his shot from a tight angle saved by Begovic.

KEY STATS

Danny Welbeck has scored more Premier League goals in four games this season (three) than he did in 16 appearances in 2016-17 (two).
Alexandre Lacazette is only the second Arsenal player to score in his first two home Premier League games, after Marouane Chamakh.

Arsene Wenger: 'Arsenal can still win Premier League title'

Published in England Premier League
Saturday, 09 September 2017 08:51

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has claimed that the Gunners can still win the Premier League title this season.

After defeats to both Stoke City and Liverpool, Arsenal sit six points adrift of leaders Manchester United, but Wenger has insisted that Jose Mourinho's side do not necessarily hold an advantage over the North Londoners.

The Frenchman is quoted by Sky Sports News as saying: "Why not? Because we have played three games, and two away games? OK, we lost at Liverpool but we can redress the situation very well and very quickly.

"Some teams who are the new favourites, they are not in a better position than us."

Arsenal return to action when they host Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon, before Wenger and his players make the short trip to Chelsea next weekend.

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