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Holders Arsenal suffer shock 4-2 FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest

Published in Football
Tuesday, 09 January 2018 10:16

FA Cup, City Ground – Nottingham Forest 4 (Lichaj 20' 44' Brereton 64' pen. Dowell 85' pen.) Arsenal 2 (Mertesacker 23' Welbeck 79')

Defending FA Cup champions Arsenal crashed out of the competition at the first hurdle on Sunday, losing 4-2 to Nottingham Forest.
Eric Lichaj put his side into a surprise lead with a smart header from a free kick on the right wing, as Arsene Wenger's selection of a weakened team backfired.

Per Mertesacker equalised minutes later from a goalmouth scramble, but Lichaj grabbed another with a super volley, his first brace in England football.

In the second half, Forest extended their lead with a Ben Brereton penalty after a poor challenge from Rob Holding on Matty Cash.

A dreadful Jordan Smith error allowed Danny Welbeck to slot into an empty net to pull one back for the Gunners, but Kieran Dowell scored a fortunate second penalty to wrap things up, when he may have double-touched the ball from the spot
A frantic end to the match saw Joe Worrall sent off for a second yellow.

Ben Brereton shows incredible promise for an 18 year old: Few players his age in the Premier League show such calmness, especially in big games. Brereton was direct and fearless, and showed no little technique in his approach play before converting the second-half penalty.

Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest): His first goals set the tone for Forest. The first was about being alive to the ball before the slack opponents of Arsenal. The second was a display of confidence and of ability. If his teammates repeat this performance they will climb up the league.

Nottingham Forest: Smith 7, Lichaj 8, Mancienne 7, Traore 8, Osborn 7, Cash 7, Clough 7, Brereton 8, Dowell 7, Vaughan 7, Worrall 7. Subs: Mills 6, McKay 6, Walker 6.

Arsenal: Ospina 6, Debuchy 4, Mertesacker 5, Holding 6, Willock 5, Elneny 5, Nelson 5, Maitland-Niles 5, Walcott 5, Iwobi 5, Welbeck 6. Subs: Akpom 6, Nketiah 6.

20' - GOAL! Nottingham Forest 1-0 Arsenal. Lichaj scores - Dowell smashes in a set piece from a tight angle, straight at Ospina, and Lichaj races to the near post to head it in before the 'keeper can reach it.

23' - GOAL! Forest 1-1 Arsenal. Mertesacker scores - From a free kick on the left, Walcott lifts the ball into Holding, it hits the post and Mertesacker stabs it home.

44' - GOAL! Forest 2-1 Arsenal. Lichaj scores - A superb goal. A cross from the right for Forest is headed out, Lichaj chests it down and loops a volley into the far top corner.

64' - PENALTY! Holding stretches out a leg after Cash robs the ball off him in the penalty box, and brings him down.

65' - GOAL! Forest 3-1 Arsenal. Brereton scores - He strolls to the ball on the spot and sends Ospina the wrong way, to the 'keepers' right.

79' - GOAL! Forest 3-2 Arsenal. Welbeck scores - A through ball for Welbeck to chase seems to be no problem for Smith, but he lets the ball slide through his arms, and Welbeck can pass into an empty net.

84' - PENALTY! Debuchy hacks Traore from behind the box as he getss ready to shoot after running from his own half. It might have been fortunate, as Debuchy got the ball after sliding in from behind, but he still brought down his man with both legs.

86' - GOAL! Forest 4-2 Arsenal. Dowell scores - Kieran Dowell slips as he takes the penalty, which fires into the top of the net. The referee goes to check if there was a double touch, and after an age the goal is awarded.

89' - RED CARD! Worrall is off for a second yellow after flying through the back of Akpom.

This is Arsene Wenger's first exit in the third round of the FA Cup

Holders Arsenal suffer shock 4-2 FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest

Published in England Premier League
Monday, 08 January 2018 07:21

FA Cup, City Ground – Nottingham Forest 4 (Lichaj 20' 44' Brereton 64' pen. Dowell 85' pen.) Arsenal 2 (Mertesacker 23' Welbeck 79')

Arsene Wenger given three-match touchline ban

Published in England Premier League
Saturday, 06 January 2018 11:22

Arsene Wenger has been given a three-match touchline ban and a fine for his behaviour in the referee's changing room after the 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion.

Wenger was furious following the late decision from referee Mike Dean to give West Brom a penalty for an apparent handball by Arsenal defender Calum Chambers.

Wenger was subsequently charged by the FA after the referee's report was submitted and he has now been given a three-match touchline ban.

An FA statement confirmed that Wenger had admitted the language he used and his behaviour in the changing room after the match was "abusive, improper and questioned the integrity oft he match referee."
The statement read: "Arsene Wenger will serve a touchline ban for Arsenal’s next three matches after he was charged with misconduct.

"It follows an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing today [05/01/18] at which the Arsenal manager admitted that his language and behaviour in the match officials’ changing room after the West Bromwich Albion game on Sunday [31/12/17] was abusive, improper and questioned the integrity of the match referee.

"He was also fined £40,000."

Wenger will be absent from the touchline for the FA Cup trip to Nottingham Forest, the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final away at Chelsea and the Premier League match at Bournemouth.

Forest couldn't resist poking fun at Wenger's expense.

Arsenal grab stoppage-time point in classic against Chelsea

Published in England Premier League
Thursday, 04 January 2018 10:57

The full-back steered home from the edge of the box after Eden Hazard's disputed penalty and Marcos Alonso's sixth league goal of the campaign had seen the visitors come from behind to lead with six minutes to play.

Jack Wilshere had earlier continued his resurgence as part of the Gunners midfield with a rasping opener just past the hour.

It was a sensational final third of a match packed with incident and talking points that had looked like being the tale of two superb goalkeeping displays at the interval.

Alvaro Morata had a night to forget in front of goal as he missed three clear openings while Arsene Wenger was clearly irritated by the award of another debateable penalty when Bellerin was adjudged to have caught Hazard.

Substitute Davide Zappacosta almost won it for Chelsea, but his 93rd minute follow-up came back off the bar.

The result means Chelsea remain third, a point behind second-placed Manchester United. Arsenal stay sixth and are five points adrift of the top four.

ARSENAL: Cech 7, Holding 6, Mustafi 6, Chambers 6, Bellerin 7, Xhaka 6, Wilshere 7, Maitland-Niles 7, Ozil 8, Sanchez 7, Lacazette 7. Subs: Welbeck n/a, Walcott n/a.

CHELSEA: Courtois 8, Cahill 6, Christensen 6, Azpilicueta 7, Moses 6, Kante 6, Bakayoko 6, Alonso 7, Fabregas 8, Hazard 8, Morata 5. Subs: Zappacosta 7, Drinkwater 6, Willian n/a.
14' - CHELSEA CHANCE! Arsenal's defence goes completely AWOL and Morata is allowed to race clean through onto a long ball over the top. The Spaniard has time to pick his spot but somehow contrives to fire well wide with just the keeper to beat.

17' - ARSENAL CHANCE! Maitland-Niles goes down in the Chelsea box. The home crowd screams for a penalty, but it looks like he caught his own heel. Arsenal play on and Sanchez sees a goal-bound strike from close-in tipped onto the woodwork by Courtois. It rolls across the line, hits the other post and is pounced upon by the Blues stopper.

63' - GOAL! Arsenal 0-1 Chelsea. Ozil and Holding combine to tee up Wilshere on the left side of the area, who flashes a rising shot past Courtois at the near post.

67' - GOAL! Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea. Hazard levels from the spot as he coolly fires down the middle with Cech diving to his left. Wenger is fuming on the touchline as he felt Bellerin's challenge on Hazard didn't warrant a penalty.

70' - CHELSEA CHANCE! Morata out-muscles Chambers and rampages towards Cech, but once more he can't find the finish as he fires wide of the near post.

84' - GOAL! Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea. Zappacosta races onto Willian's long pass to the flank. He bamboozles Maitland-Niles and drills in a low cross that Alonso meets first-time to flash beyond Cech.

90+2' - GOAL! Arsenal 2-2 Chelsea. The pressure tells as Alonso's header drops for Bellerin to steer a shot into the far corner from just inside the area. What an incredible match this is!

90+3' - CHELSEA HIT THE BAR! Morata is clear again - but he fires straight at Cech. Zappacosta races onto the rebound but smashes it against the bar!
Wilshere scored his first goal in his last 43 Premier League games, since netting v West Brom in May 2015.

Hazard (63 goals, 37 assists) has been directly involved in 100 goals in 192 Premier League appearances.

Since the start of last season, Marcos Alonso has been directly involved in 16 Premier League goals (12 goals, 4 assists), 4 more than any other defender.

Arsenal have conceded a joint-high 4 penalty goals in the Premier League this season (level with Watford and West Ham).

Sanchez the difference as Arsenal mark Wenger milestone with Palace victory

Published in England Premier League
Friday, 29 December 2017 09:25

Premier League, Selhurst Park: Crystal Palace 2 (Townsend 49, Tomkins 89) Arsenal 3 (Mustafi 25, Sanchez 62, 66)

Alexis Sanchez was the difference as Arsenal survived a pair of second-half scares to edge past Crystal Palace.
Arsene Wenger took charge of his 810th match in the Premier League – to draw level with Sir Alex Ferguson's record – and his team started quietly and struggled to find openings with Palace sitting deep. But his players gradually took over matters, and on 25 minutes, fine play from Alexandre Lacazette forced Julian Speroni into a parry that went straight to Shkodran Mustafi, and he stroked home the opening goal.

Palace upped their tempo at the start of the second half, and five minutes into it they were level, good work from Wilfried Zaha fashioning an opportunity which was emphatically accepted by Andros Townsend. But Arsenal did not shrink, and 12 minutes later, Alexis Sanchez smashed in a near-post finish after more good work from Lacazette.
Just four minutes later, Arsenal were clear. Jack Wilshere lifted a terrific pass over the top, Sanchez controlled on his thigh, delivered the ball into his stride, and slipped it past Speroni.

But as full-time drew nearer, Palace perked up and Arsenal sat deeper, so it was not entirely surprising that James Tomkins nodded in a livener with four minutes of injury-time still to play.

Arsenal saw it out well enough, though, and will still fancy themselves to get back in the Champions League, as they remain sixth, level on points with Tottenham and just one behind Liverpool in fourth, while Palace will feel themselves plenty good enough to stay up and stay in 16th.

Can Arsenal really afford to sell Sanchez? If the whispers are to be believed, Pep Guardiola plans to make an obnoxiously large offer for Sanchez, and Arsenal would be tempted to accept it. On the face of it, this makes some sense, as they know they will lose him for nothing in the summer. But without him, whoever they bring in instead, they will have far less chance of returning to elite competition, which will cost them a fair whack of that fee. They must stand strong and defer the problem to the close season.
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal). Performed with the zeal of man seeking a move, he prompted well in the first half and finished beautifully in the second. A brilliant football player.

Crystal Palace: Speroni 5, Kelly 6, Danny 5, Tomkins 6, Schlupp 6, Milivojevic 5, Cabaye 5, Loftus-Cheek 5, Townsend 6, Zaha 7, Benteke 5. Subs: Mcarthur 6, Sako 6, Fosu-Mensah 6.
Arsenal: Cech 6, Koscielny 6, Mustafi 6, Chambers 5, Bellerin 6, Xhaka 6, Wilshere 7, Kolasinac 5, Ozil 6, Sanchez 8, Lacazette 7. Subs: Maitland-Niles 6, Coquelin 6.

25’ - GOAL! Crystal Palace 0-1 Arsenal (Mustafi) Wilshere wins a free-kick which is tossed into the box and some head-tennis ensues before the ball arrives at the feet of Lacazette, down the right side of the box. He drags it down the outside of Schlupp, checks back leaving his man for a burton, and curls a shot that Speroni can only push back into play, and Mustafi confidently strokes home.

30’ - Kolasinac finds Sanchez, who slides a fine pass into the box for Ozil, arriving with perfect timing; six yards out, he flicks hard, and Speroni does well to save.
38’ - Palace are struggling to create anything now, and Arsenal break on them with alacrity, Ozil spreading to Sanchez who accelerates down the left and returns possession ... oh I say, that's a lovely first touch from Ozil, killing the pace, taking the ball into his stride and losing two men, then shooting with his instep ... but Speroni saves well, getting just enough on it to take it away from Lacazette. Lovely stuff, though.

50’ - GOAL! Crystal Palace 1-1 Arsenal (Townsend) Townsend starts things at right-back and eventually the ball moves to Schlupp, who slides down the left for Zaha. Faced with Chambers, a succession of lollipops and a change of pace are more than enough to get by him and then a low cross, clipped back for Townsend, is cracked past Cech first time.

62’ - GOAL! Crystal Palace 1-2 Arsenal (Sanchez) Palace don't clear properly and Chambers lifts the ball towards the back post when the giant Sanchez wins a towering header, nodding down to Lacazette who does really well to hold up and tee him back up for an early spank which rushes past Speroni at his near post before he's noticed anything untoward. Great finish; can Arsenal really think about cashing in on him next month?

66’ - GOAL! Crystal Palace 1-3 Arsenal (Sanchez) And so is this! Wilshere, given time on halfway, lifts a wondrous pass over the top for Sanchez, who takes it beautifully on his knee, opens his body, and slips a finish past Speroni. Out of nothing, this match is duhn!

89’ - Palace have been good these last few minutes and when Bellerin overruns the ball breaking out of defence, Schlupp snaps it away from him and cuts back a cross for Benteke, whose shot is deflected wide.

89’ - GOAL! Crystal Palace 2-3 Arsenal (Tomkins) Over comes the corner and at the back post, Tomkins climbs above Koscielny to head down and in!

Alexis Sanchez has scored or assisted 13 times in his last 15 league London derbies.

Roy Hodgson has won just one of his last 12 Premier League matches against Arsenal (D3 L8).

Jack Wilshere started in four consecutive Premier League games for Arsenal for the first time since March 2014.

Crystal Palace have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last 10 Premier League home games - their longest such run since May 2015 (15).

Arsenal and Liverpool draw crazy six-goal thriller

Published in England Premier League
Saturday, 23 December 2017 10:13

Premier League, Emirates Stadium – Arsenal 3 (Sanchez 53’ Xhaka 56’ Ozil 58’) Liverpool 3 (Coutinho 26’ Salah 52’ Firmino 71’)

Arsenal and Liverpool played out a thrilling 3-3 draw to open the festive football programme with a bang.

Philippe Coutinho and Mohamed Salah put the visitors in firm control as Arsenal’s defensive problems resurfaced, but three goals in five second-half minutes saw the Gunners turn a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead.

Alexis Sanchez, Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil were all on target – via the assistance of some woeful defending and goalkeeping – before Roberto Firmino rounded off the scoring.
Liverpool were forced into an early change when captain Jordan Henderson limped off with an injury on 11 minutes, to be replaced by James Milner, but they coasted through to half-time and doubled their lead shortly after the break.

But the hosts - who were booed off by their fans at the interval - clawed their way back into it, and eventually took the lead with a neat finish from Ozil.

Liverpool saved their embarrassment after Petr Cech gloved Firmino's shot into the net.

The goalkeeping. Simon Mignolet and Petr Cech will be watching those goals back and thinking they should have done better on at least one each.
Roberto Firmino (Liverpool). Hard-working in defence and going forward in an exhausting match.

Arsenal: Cech 7, Bellerin 7, Koscielny 7, Monreal 6, Maitland-Niles 7, Xhaka 7, Wilshere 7, Iwobi 7, Ozil 8, Alexis 7, Lacazette 7. Subs: Mustafi 7, Walcott 6, Welbeck 6.

Liverpool: Mignolet 6, Gomez 7, Klavan 7, Lovren 7, Robertson 7, Henderson 5, Can 7, Coutinho 8, Mane 6, Salah 7, Firmino 8. Subs: Oxlade-Chamberlain 7, Wijnaldum 6, Milner 7.
26’ - GOAL! Arsenal 0-1 Liverpool. And there's Liverpool on the counter again! Salah picks up the long ball on the right, and Coutinho flicks his header into the net.

44’ - CHANCE! Koscielny slips, Salah's shot is blocked by Cech, and then Mane attempts an acrobatic overhead volley, which is over the bar.

52’ - GOAL! Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool. Salah’s shot takes a deflection off substitute Mustafi and it’s into the net.

53’ - GOAL! Arsenal 1-2 Liverpool. And that's one back from Alexis! A cross loops in from Bellerin and Alexis nods that downwards and into the net.
56’ - GOAL! Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool. I have literal goosebumps. Amazing. Xhaka just lets rip with a thunderbolt and Mignolet's outstretched hand can do nothing about that.

58’ - GOAL! Arsenal 3-2 Liverpool. And Mesut Ozil nips in to tap home from close-range after a deft touch through from Lacazette.

71’ - GOAL! Arsenal 3-3 Liverpool. That's just ridiculous. I didn't even think that was going to go in. Salah and Can exchange passes, then Firmino gets off a limp shot, which bounces off Cech's gloves into the net.

Since Jurgen Klopp’s first match in charge in October 2015, Liverpool’s Premier League games have seen 279 goals scored (174 for, 105 against), more than any other club.

Klopp knows defensive improvement must continue against Arsenal

Friday, 22 December 2017 07:57

Jurgen Klopp is pleased with Liverpool's recent defensive record but has stressed his players will need to be "spot on" at Arsenal on Friday.

While the Merseyside outfit have frequently dazzled with their attacking this season, their defence has been criticised at times.

Since losing 4-1 to Tottenham at Wembley in October, though, they have conceded only four goals in nine Premier League games.

Reds boss Klopp has no doubt those "numbers are important" but has emphasised Arsenal pose a considerable threat.

The German - whose side are fourth in the table, a place and a point better off than Arsenal - said ahead of Friday's clash: "We are a team who are very offensive-orientated, but that doesn't mean that you have to give any space away.

"The boys did well in different systems, which I really like a lot because that is the biggest improvement, but only because they now do the jobs in the moment, much more often.

"There are always things to work on, that's how football is, but of course the numbers are important - only four (conceded) in the last nine is good.

"But it's in the past. We have to be ready for a different challenge on Friday. It's Arsenal and they have quite a talented group there! We need to be spot on in this specific part of the game."

Liverpool failed in their pursuit of Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk over the summer, and there has been plenty of talk about the possibility of the Dutchman moving in the January transfer window.

Klopp was asked ahead of the Arsenal game if his side's defensive record of late had had an effect on what he might be thinking in terms of January business.

And he said: "Everything we are doing has influence on our plans. That's all I can say about that.

"So, yes, it has influence. But I don't know exactly in which way. So you'll have to wait a little bit.

"When we win a game and when we defend well, then I'm happy about it. If we defend not that good as a team, then I'm not happy about it, but I don't think then the solution is a new player always.

"For example, Alberto Moreno did fantastic this season, and then we played at Sevilla and he did not well. People didn't hesitate to say: 'That's why we need a new left-back'. And I think: 'Wow'.
"So thank God, I, or we, here make the decisions and nobody else.

"We are not relaxed, but we have a view on everything and it needs to fit together and everything needs to work out in the end, and you need to have solutions for different situations and systems and all that stuff.

"So far, it's okay. It could have been better, but it could have been much worse. Now, we prepare for Arsenal and we have to be defensively really, really strong in that game, otherwise we don't have a chance."

Former Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund star Tomas Rosicky retires from football

Published in England Premier League
Wednesday, 20 December 2017 11:08

Former Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Tomas Rosicky has retired from football.

The 37-year-old earned 105 caps for the Czech Republic during a distinguished career, which also saw him win the Bundesliga in 2002 and two FA Cups.
Nicknamed ‘Little Mozart’, the three-time Czech footballer of the year was renowned for ‘orchestrating’ the midfield, but has called time on his playing days after a spate of injuries.
"After careful consideration, I have realised I am no longer able to fully prepare my body for what the professional football requires," Rosicky said.

"I would like to thank Sparta for raising me, for being the first step in my career in big clubs, and for allowing me to say goodbye at the place I love the most."

He finishes his career at Sparta Prague, the club that launched his career.
He became the most expensive player in Czech football history when he moved to Borussia Dortmund for around £8 million in 2001, spending five years at the German giants before joining Arsenal.

In truth, injuries blighted his spell in north London, with Rosicky making just 170 Premier League appearances in a 10-year spell, but he remained a firm favourite with the fans despite his struggles. He returned to Sparta in 2016.

Arsenal edge West Ham to reach League Cup semi-finals

Published in Football
Wednesday, 20 December 2017 08:05

Arsenal booked a place in the League Cup semi-finals as their all-changed side beat London rivals West Ham United 1-0 in an undistinguished tie at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who replaced all 11 starters from the weekend Premier League home win over Newcastle United, still had plenty of international pedigree as England striker Danny Welbeck got the winner three minutes before half-time.
Welbeck's persistence in bundling home from close range was one of the few highlights, a solitary shot on target, in a dull derby but David Moyes' side never threatened Arsenal, with a wayward Aaron Cresswell free kick proving their best effort.

Arsenal boss Wenger takes aim at City's petrol money, says Ozil and Sanchez will stay until summer

Published in England Premier League
Saturday, 16 December 2017 11:30

Arsene Wenger has taken aim at Manchester City, saying the table-toppers have an advantage because of their 'petrol money'.

Pep Guardiola's side set a new record for consecutive wins in the Premier League, chalking up their 15th against Swansea on Wednesday night.
It comes after club, which is owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi's ruling Al-Nahyan family, spent £200million over the summer to bring in the likes of Bernardo Silva, Ederson, Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy and Danilo.
And Wenger, who also insisted that Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez will stay at the club until the summer with Jack Wilshere also due to have contract talks, believes the amount of money they spent gives them a huge advantage.

"Look, we had no petrol but ideas. They have petrol and ideas, so that makes it more efficient," he said.

"Everybody projects they will last. Everything goes for them inside the games. They have quality to turn it in their favour. They have plenty of resources and quality."

When asked again what he meant by 'petrol', he replied: "Yes, money and quality, that's what I wanted to say".

" In their management, in their players, they have everything that’s needed. It’s not easy, you still have to respect that achievement."
On the subject of Sanchez and Ozil, whose contracts expire in the summer, enabling them to leave for free, Wenger said: "I can tell you a global answer – yes. They will all stay.

"I will analyse every case individually and separately, but overall I would say my wish and my desire is that everybody stays."
Of Wilshere, who has featured 14 times this season after a string of injury problems in recent years, Wenger added: "I will talk to him.

"I said the end of December. I wanted to see how much he can contribute. I consider him an Arsenal man."

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