Arsenal put in an impressive 2nd half display to make light work of Swansea on Saturday afternoon. The Gunners attacking play was scintillating in the second period, and they have Alex Iwobi to thank for much of that.
Although he will not be attributed with a goal, both own goals came from his shots, the first of which was on target so it seems harsh to take the goal away from him. Here’s some of the best reaction to the Nigerian international’s performance on Twitter.
Iwobi has been hot and cold this season but against Swansea we saw him with one of his best displays in an Arsenal shirt to date. He moved around the pitch with confidence and often looked a level above the players around him. His majestic display has seen many fans refer to his performance as ‘unplayable’.
Iwobi is also comfortable playing in the number 10 role and you can see his creative attributes. Making 2 key passes, and 36 passes overall with an 89% accuracy. An area he is often criticised for is his defensive contribution, but with 2 tackles and 1 interception, we saw an improved defensive performance from him on Saturday.
Here’s some of the best reaction to the Nigerian international’s performance on Twitter.
Iwobi was class yesterday. Didn't realise he joined Arsenal when he was 6. Man loves the club. We've got a real gem; destined for the top. pic.twitter.com/WG3gnBmSxU
— TH (@Trequartistry) January 15, 2017
Alex Iwobi was unplayable today. What a talent we have at our club.
— 〽️ (@WengerTactic) January 14, 2017
Is it ok to say Iwobi > Okocha?
I mean Jay Jay was good but is he really in Alex's bracket? Got a long way to go
— Fin (@IwobiWanKanobe) January 14, 2017
Watching the Arsenal game back, Iwobi was on point
— Zane (@_ZZane) January 15, 2017
How good was Iwobi yesterday? Unplayable & toying around with Swansea. If he continues to work hard & stay grounded, he'll be top class.
— Sir Jenkinson (@theEpicGooner) January 15, 2017
My thoughts on Iwobi are what I said at the start of the season. Don’t get carried away with him, he’s still 20 and very raw, but what a talent he is. It’s great that he has come through the ranks and is playing as well as he is. He still lacks consistency and because he sets the bar so high, I feel he gets too much criticism when he struggles in matches. This is unfair on such a young player, especially when there are usually other, more senior players like Walcott or even Oxlade-Chamberlain, who have also performed poorly.
Hopefully Alex has a long and successful career at Arsenal ahead of him. If he can produce performances like he did yesterday more regularly then he will cement his place in the starting eleven.
Nobody would have anticipated him being as important to this team as he now is. With no obvious natural back up to Ozil, Iwobi is the most likely to replace the German there when he is unavailable. He could also be regarded as the clubs first choice left winger, especially when Alexis Sanchez is occupying the centre forward position.
We’re all used to seeing Alexis Sanchez hitting the headlines in an Arsenal shirt, but the Chilean, as has become a habit of late, will be sure to find himself in the spotlight for reasons other than his goal-scoring traits.
As the Gunners stormed to a 4-0 lead versus Swansea City this Saturday at the Liberty Stadium, courtesy of another Olivier Giroud goal, two own goals and a strike from Sanchez himself, the ex-Barcelona man drew in the attention of a camera or two in the latter stages of the game.
In a clear attempt to tot up the minutes given to the recently-injured Danny Welbeck, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger selected Sanchez as the star to make way for the English forward, much to the 28-year-old’s displeasure.
The winger, known for his admirable work ethic, was later spotted seated away from the rest of the substitutes’ bench, visibly upset, with his head facing down on numerous occasions.
Sanchez’s reaction, which added a bittersweet taste to what had otherwise been a generally successful venture to South Wales, didn’t go unnoticed amongst the Arsenal fan base on social media over the Chilean’s repeated offence.
— afcstuff (@afcstuff) January 14, 2017
— Coach Drew (@CoachDrewGlobal) January 14, 2017
What's Sanchez doing? Behave & act like a professional.
— Sam (@samuelJayC) January 14, 2017
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) January 14, 2017
He is so weird. 4-0 up and you're doing this ? pic.twitter.com/OiGE6jWIwj
— Khalid (@WorldOfK_) January 14, 2017
Would definitely not want to be mates with Alexis Sanchez
— Jack (@JDillonCarter) January 14, 2017
Sanchez is, of course, no stranger to snubbing a rest, more recently playing through a concerning hamstring injury in the last international break with Chile in late November, before returning to North London to do the same.
The forward’s complaints seem to extend beyond being given time off, however, as previous episodes exemplify.
Sanchez was left speechless and deep in thought as Arsenal slumped to a 2-1 defeat away to Manchester City in December, whereas many other fans were on hand to spot his less than accommodating attitude towards teammates throughout the festive period.
He was again very vocal when Arsenal took on Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium this month, demonstrating to be in no mood to settle for the Gunners’ 3-3 draw after going 3-0 down in the 58th minute, throwing away his gloves in rage at full time.
Although ultimately inconclusive, Sanchez’s recent behaviour is sure to worry some of the Arsenal faithful, as the much-adored star nears the final year of his contract with the London outfit.
With less than 18 months left on his current deal, reports of interest from Italy, like-minded Premier League clubs and, somewhat unsurprisingly, China has emerged, therefore the deep-lying hope will be that his head hasn’t been turned by the unavoidable details threatening a prolonged stay at the Emirates.
Arsenal return to Premier League action on Saturday with an away fixture against the struggling Swansea up next. The Gunners need nothing less than 3 points as they look to make up ground on the Premier League leaders, Chelsea.
As much as he has struggled, I don’t think Wenger should drop Cech, yet. It would cause too many waves. We can’t underestimate the importance of his leadership on the pitch and in the dressing room.
Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal
Gibbs is unlikely to be fit in time, but both Bellerin and Koscielny should be fully fit for the trip to Wales. Hector looked off the pace against Bournemouth, but Wenger confirmed he had a knock. He was rested against Preston and now should be fresh and available for this match. Mustafi hasn’t looked the same since returning from injury, but he needs to settle again alongside Koscielny to form a strong defensive partnership, like the one they had at the start of the season.
Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka
At the base of midfield Arsenal have very little choice. They need to pray that both Xhaka and Ramsey come through the next few games unscathed and also build a strong partnership in the middle of the park, because with Elneny on international duty and Coquelin and Cazorla still injured, Arsene Wenger has pretty much no alternative here. Should an emergency arise then we might see the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Ainsley Maitland-Niles shoehorned into a central midfield role, but Wenger will want to avoid this scenario. Could he be looking at dipping into the transfer market? Long-term target N’Zonzi has again been linked recently.
Lucas Perez, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez
It may seem harsh to drop Iwobi out of the line-up after perhaps one of his best performances this season against Preston, but another good performer in that team was Lucas Perez. The Spaniard’s first team opportunities have been few and far between since he joined the London club in the summer and he has performed very well when called upon. He needs a run in the starting line up to prove his worth and I feel combining with the likes of a fit-again Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, we will see a truly quality player emerge. If this is the line-up then both Lucas and Alexis need to ensure they work hard defensively, as they are both naturally attacking players.
The big man Olivier is in the form of his life at the moment and he’s loving every second of it. The Frenchman is capable of scoring any kind of goal right now and he simply has to start again. With Ozil, Lucas and Alexis behind him, I think Arsenal will have a very talented front four on show in Wales. If these four can click, then I believe they can build a good relationship and help reignite Arsenal’s attack.
Chelsea and Arsenal are set to battle over the course of the January transfer window for Wolfsburg left-back Ricardo Rodriguez, with both clubs reportedly keen on signing the Bundesliga man.
The Sun claim that Chelsea have made the first move in an attempt to secure the services of Rodriguez, with Antonio Conte keen to strengthen his squad ahead of the title race and run-in, which is set to reach boiling point in the next few weeks.
Arsene Wenger is also keen to bolster his defensive options ahead of a title push, which took a huge blow last point despite the Gunners earning a point against Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium after being three goals down with just twenty minutes to go.
The Gunners currently have Nacho Monreal and Kieran Gibbs in their squad that can fill in that left-back position, but Arsene Wenger is reportedly targeting this area for strengthening over the January transfer window.
The Blues have reportedly contacted the player’s agent regarding whether his client would be interested in a January switch to Stamford Bridge in an attempt to get negotiations underway.
Arsenal have been keeping track of the left back’s progress for a couple of months now, but Antonio Conte is keen on securing the services of Rodriguez for £21m as he starts his New Year squad strengthening ahead of the title run-in.
Who will win the race for Ricardo Rodriguez?
The 24-year-old seems like a player who likes to get forward and cause problems for the opposition defence. The left-back has scored two goals this season as well as providing two assists in 14 Bundesliga appearances. If he does enjoy getting forward and becoming an attacking threat down the left, then a move to Antonio Conte’s Chelsea might be the move for him.
Conte’s 3-4-3 system has proved to be a real success this season in the Premier League, with the Blues sitting proudly at the top of the table, despite a stuttering start to the season. The 3-4-3 formation allows a lot of freedom for those wing-backs. Although they have to work extremely hard down their respective wings, their positions give them a license to regularly join the Chelsea attack as well as help out defensive tracking wingers. This seems like a system that Rodriguez would enjoy playing in.
With Chelsea making the first move ahead of Arsenal, and with the Blues reportedly willing to offer £21million for the left-back, it seems that they are in pole position to sign the 24-year-old in this January transfer window.
Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton are all interested in signing a German sensation after all clubs were found to be scouting the midfielder.
A report from The Sun suggests that all four previously mentioned clubs have been extensively scouting impressive German midfielder Julian Brandt. The news was originally picked out from this piece in the Mail.
The 20-year-old wonder kid has been in exceptional form thus far this season and is scoring goals and assisting as Bayer Leverkusen attempt to get back on track and fight for the European places after a slow start to the season.
The impressive versatile midfielder has been in exquisite form in the first half of the season and has attracted interest from major clubs around Europe, as scouts from the four clubs mentioned were in attendance in Leverkusen’s matches in recent weeks.
Premier League top gun Manchester United and Arsenal are the most eye-watering names for the youngster whilst Spurs and the Toffees have also sent representatives out to check out his performances in the past.
Brandt is considered as one of the finest talents coming out of Germany in a new German era of colossal talents, with the player already being capped a handful of times for his country.
Something which will attract top clubs to this fine talent is his versatility, he can play on either wing and can also be deployed in the attacking midfield role, as he has the brilliant capability at driving at defences and attack the space provided.
The German youngster is tied down until 2019 with the Germans, and with the inflated prices with regards to the transfer market, any interested club will probably have to cough up around £25-30 million to secure his services.
It is clear why some of the biggest European top guns are sniffing around Leverkusen’s prized asset, he is quick, direct and technically superb on the ball. He has developed rapidly in recent seasons which is mostly down to his maturity, as his attitude is simply admirable.
Sporting director, Rudi Völler classes Brandt as “one of the most talented players in German football” and he is certainly living up to his high praise.
Being so young in his premature career, of course, he is not yet perfect, the German youngster needs to work on his defensive attributes as he often gets beaten too easily, or bypassed in a defensive phase.
Brandt has played a part in all 16 Bundesliga games for the German side thus far this season and has showcased his quality already. Predominantly playing on the wing, he has an eye for creating chances and has created 1.89 chances per 90 minutes already this season.
When he has the ball he will drift in from the wing and occupy the #10 space as he looks to drive at defences and create chances or use the byline as his attacking approach. As previously noted, he has already created chances this season but has managed 0.45 assists per 90 this season, an impressive end product, then.
All Premier League clubs mentioned with interest usually dominate play and have an identity of keeping the ball and racking up possession. Clubs like United and Arsenal would expect the winger to be efficient on the ball, and Brandt is OK in this area with 75% pass completion thus far.
Modern day football relies heavily on wingers contribution to goals, with the likes of Sadio Mané, Dimitri Payet, Eden Hazard and Alexis Sanchez all sharing the same versatility trait of being able to play anywhere across the front three midfield positions, with the latter also covering the #9 role.
These players all chip in with goals and are relied upon by their respected managers to score and create at will. Brandt, although not as efficient in front of goal as the players above, has still scored 0.15 goals per 90 thus far to show he has an eye for goal, although this is an area that will certainly need work on in the near future.
The exciting youngster would be a top class signing for any of the clubs mentioned and would certainly help boost competition for places within their ready-made squads. Although Leverkusen will be hopeful of keeping hold of their prodigious playmaker, a move to England could be the stepping stone he needs to reach the next level of his career which promises to be beautiful, as he looks to blossom from his colossal potential and reach the heights many expect him to reach.
Arsenal somehow managed to rescue a point at the Vitality Stadium on Tuesday night against Bournemouth, despite being 3-0 down with just twenty minutes to go.
Right-back Hector Bellerin was at fault for the first goal when Charlie Daniels picked up the ball just inside the box. The Bournemouth man Bellerin with ease before finishing under the body of Petr Cech to fire the hosts into the lead.
Eddie Howe’s side were two goals to the good just a few minutes later. Ryan Fraser surged into the Arsenal box before Granot Xhaka carelessly bundled the midfielder over. Michael Oliver pointed straight to the spot. It was Callum Wilson who stepped up to give the home side a two goal lead.
The Cherries were in dreamland on the other side of half-time. Ryan Fraser beat Hector Bellerin to the ball, although there were suspicions of a foul, Fraser burst into the box and finished under Cech to put Bournemouth three up.
Things couldn’t have got much worse for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger as they looked to be heading for their third straight away league defeat. However, they were given a lifeline with twenty minutes to go. Olivier Giroud flicked the ball on for Alexis Sanchez to nod in at the back pots. It was game on again at the Vitality.
Just five minutes later, Lucas Perez scored a stunner to close the deficit to one. Giroud was the creator again, laying the ball off to the striker, who powered an excellent shot into the corner from a difficult angle past Artur Boruc.
Bournemouth looked as if they were going to see the game out, but it was Man of the Match Giroud that rescued Arsenal a point. The ball was hoisted into the box and the Frenchman rose the highest, turning his header into the back of the net to give the Gunners the unlikeliest of points.
Hector Bellerin had a terrible game, one of his worst in an Arsenal shirt. He was at fault for the first, and arguably the third too. There have been suggestions that the right-back is still struggling with a previous ankle injury, but that takes nothing away from how awful his display at Bournemouth was.
Despite crossing the ball three times, Bellerin won 0% of his tackles, 0% of his aerial duels and didn’t complete a single take on. Here is how Arsenal fans reacted on Twitter to Bellerin’s terrible display.
The fans have suggested that Hector must have been drunk, but Wenger has since confirmed that the Spaniard was one of a number of players to be playing the game with slight knocks.
Worst game I’ve ever seen played is today, by: HECTOR BELLERIN. #arsenal
He must be drunk
— Joe Orf (@JoeOrf305) 3 January 2017
Looking at the goals and Bellerin has probably had his worst 90mins in an Arsenal shirt against Bournemouth. He needs to learn from this
— Jimbob Magoo🇬🇾🇱🇨 (@OriginalJimbob) 3 January 2017
Whatever happened to Bellerin today though, he was terrible!
— Mazi Olisaemeka ™ (@OlisaOsega) 3 January 2017
So frustrating that three separate incidents of terrible individual defending cost us the win. Bellerin twice, Xhaka once. So, so stupid.
— ffsLucas #20believe (@ffsArsenaI) 3 January 2017
Bellerin should be fined for that performance, awful defender but that doesn’t matter because hes fast
— Marco (@MDD96) 3 January 2017
Bellerin is just a pace merchant. Awful defensively
— ㅤㅤㅤㅤ (@Hazardified) 3 January 2017
These are Fresh Football’s ratings for Arsenal’s away clash versus Bournemouth in the Premier League.
Artur Boruc – 5.5
Rarely brought directly into action by Arsenal, the ex-Celtic stopper had little chance in stopping the efforts that did hit the target.
Simon Francis – 6.5
A solid performance that was later blemished by a red card for a late tackle on Aaron Ramsey.
Steve Cook – 6.5
Reliable for the most part, but his performance faltered as Lucas and Alexis Sanchez joined Giroud centrally.
Charlie Daniels – 8
An excellent first half, and game in general, coupled with a goal that could’ve sent Bournemouth on their way to a historic victory in the Premier League era.
Junior Stanislas – 7
Worked the channels well and threatened Čech’s goal on a few occasions. A real handful.
Dan Gosling – 7
Another lung-bursting performance from the box-to-box midfielder, although Gosling is sure to look back on his left footed effort in the latter stages of the game that could’ve regained Bournemouth’s lead.
Harry Arter – 7
The industrious midfielder didn’t disappoint, with his pressing proving priceless in rocking Arsenal to their core in the first half.
Ryan Fraser – 9
Direct and explosive, Fraser dug Bournemouth out from Arsenal’s spells of possession on the counter en route to scoring the Cherries’ third of the night. A constant threat out on the left flank that proved to be a huge bonus to the Gunners’ once he limped off.
Joshua King – 6
Plenty of industry provided from the man partnering Callum Wilson in attack, supporting counter-attacks and back-tracking at every given opportunity to help out his team.
Callum Wilson – 6.5
Claimed good ground in behind Arsenal’s defence with regularity. Overall, it was a good performance, more noteworthy for his work rate than anything else.
Andrew Surman – 5.5
Came on to regain some control in the second half, which worked initially prior to Bournemouth amplifying the score line to 3-0, but the deep-lying midfielder and his team were caught retreated in their own half for far too long after Fraser’s goal.
Adam Smith – N/A
Brad Smith – N/A
Want to go to games like this? Visit www.footballticketpad.com
Petr Čech – 4.5
Question marks have begun rounding the veteran goalkeeper in recent weeks, and the former Chelsea man was again partially culpable in a game that saw Fraser score with a cheeky finish through his legs at the near-post.
Héctor Bellerín – 4
Among his worst performances in an Arsenal shirt, as all three of Bournemouth’s goals originated from Bellerín’s right flank.
Shkodran Mustafi – 4.5
There was a real lack of synergy in the backline awaiting Mustafi in his return to the first team. Often naïve in possession and made to look silly by the in-form Fraser, the German can at least polish up his invincibility record following Olivier Giroud’s late equaliser.
Laurent Koscielny – 4.5
Left chasing shadows for the best part of the game, with it being unclear whether his early substitution was related to any knock picked up in battle.
Nacho Monreal – 4.5
The 30-year-old has made steady progress on his form in recent weeks, but the likes of Stanislas looked adamant to bring Monreal back to square one, with varied success.
Francis Coquelin – 3.5
Struggled to impose himself early on versus Bournemouth’s pressing game and an injury midway through the first half robbed him the time to rectify that order.
Granit Xhaka – 5.5
His general play was decent, and Xhaka can even claim the assist from Giroud’s equaliser, but the penalty given away in the 20th minute does little to clear up his erratic image, meanwhile proving to be costly to his team.
Aaron Ramsey – 5
Fashioned a few half-chances for himself going forwards, but, clearly, he’s no Mesut Özil.
Alex Iwobi – 4
Nothing in this one from Iwobi, who might well be feeling the effects of two games in three days. Offered the rare hope for an Arsenal goal in the first half, but struck the ball wide.
Alexis Sanchez – 6
A very fiery version of Alexis Sanchez was on show again, as the Chilean dug deep to follow-up Giroud’s flick-on and kick-start Arsenal’s comeback in the 70th minute.
Olivier Giroud – 6.5
Even underperforming, Giroud came up big when it mattered most, assisting Sanchez for Arsenal’s first of the night and grabbing the headlines for himself with a late equaliser. Yet another clutch moment for the Frenchman this season.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 6
Not so inspirational going forwards, but Oxlade-Chamberlain did come up with a crucial 11th hour intervention on Fraser, as the Scot eyed up his second of the night one-on-one with Čech.
Lucas Perez – 6
Noteworthy in most build-ups late on and the proud owner of the goal of the night, driving in a left-footed volley from an acute angle.
Gabriel Paulista – 5.5
Steadied the ship a little at the back, though a deeper block from the home side made sweeping up possession a lot easier the Brazilian, but Gabriel was on hand to support the Gunners’ aerial threat that eventually earned them two goals.
It is fair to say that this season has not gone to plan for Slaven Bilic and West Ham. In a bid to turn the Hammer’s fortunes around, the club have reportedly sent letters asking their Premier League rivals for help in the January transfer window, according to The Telegraph.
Tottenham are the only one of the Premier League big hitters not to receive a letter from West Ham chiefs as the Hammers plan some very smart January transfer business. Letters were reportedly sent to Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City asking if any of those clubs have fringe players that the Hammers can sign on loan for the rest of the season.
With many players not becoming available that Slaven Bilic will want to sign until the summer transfer window, this plea to sign players with Premier League experience at the top clubs would seem like a good plan. Having sent a general letter to those five clubs, The Telegraph claim that West Ham have further enquiries regarding loan moves for Michy Batshuayi, Daniel Sturridge, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial as their search for a striker to sign in January begins.
In addition to this, the Hammers are also going to make enquiries over the availability of Chris Smalling, Branislav Ivanovic, Mamadou Sakho, Mathieu Debuchy and Carl Jenkinson. However, many of the highlighted players above are unlikely realistic targets for West Ham for two reasons.
First of all, it is well documented that clubs are often not prepared to loan out or sell players to Premier League rivals, unless it is at the right price. With loan moves being proposed by the Hammers, it is unlikely that clubs such as Manchester United and Liverpool will allow key players such as Sturridge and Martial to leave the club, even if it is on a loan basis.
Secondly, I feel the wages that West Ham would have to pay these players would not be within their price range, they simply would not be able to compete with the Premier League big boys. Would the players highlighted take a pay cut in favour of a move to West Ham when many get regular game time anyway? Probably not.
Although West Ham’s idea of taking Premier League players on loan for the rest of the season seems good business at first glance, the proposed deals not only look unlikely, but they look impractical as well.
There are some players there that are more realistic though, with the Gunners reportedly willing to allow Debuchy and Jenkinson to leave should the offer be right. But Jenkinson’s most recent spell at West Ham didn’t go too well, so I’m not sure how the fans would feel about that one should it happen. Smalling is also an interesting one should Manchester United sign their reported target, Victor Lindelof. The young central defender is being linked with a big-money move to United and with Eric Bailly already at the club and Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones impressing at the heart of defence at the moment, how much football will Smalling be playing in the new year?
Arsene Wenger is said to be planning ahead of new signings in the summer, despite his own future still remaining in doubt.
Arsene Wenger is chasing a new left-back with the promising talent, Jose Gaya leading the list of potential candidates, according to the Daily Mirror.
Gunners boss Wenger has identified the left-back position as a weakness that will need rectifying come next year with the likes of Nacho Monreal ageing and Kieran Gibbs being a squad player. The Frenchman wants to sign someone who can make that place their own for years to come.
Monreal has struggled thus far this season and has not been himself since hitting form in the 15/16 season where he was arguably amongst the top five left back’s in Europe for his ability and consistency. He became a fan favourite that season, with many labelling him ‘Mr. Consistent’ – but he doesn’t look the same player this season.
Kieran Gibbs’s position within the club is also a predicament, with just 18 months left on his contract and uncertainty arising whether he will be offered an extension – it is likely we will see the Gunners man leave the North Londoners next summer.
21-year-old Gaya is thought of as one of Europe’s brightest prospects and has been linked with the Gunners in previous years. After suffering from non-stop muscle injuries in recent months it seemed to take a hit on the defender, halting his progress but the Spaniard is now looking to realise the colossal potential he possesses.
Gaya has been a huge success since his breakthrough from the Valencia academy and has gone on to make 56 appearances for the club in the league. The academy graduate is one of the only things right at the club right now with the club sitting in 17th position in La Liga and being on a downward spiral.
Gaya is yet to make his international debut despite being called up twice to the Spanish national squad, but his arrival would increase the pressure on Monreal.
Gaya has been a potential target for the likes of Real Madrid in previous years. The Spanish man loves bombing up and down the flank and helping out offensively whilst remaining defensively sound and this is something which will attract potential suitors, with managers expecting their defenders to become an outlet at all times when going forward. He’s of similar ilk to Hector Bellerin, but on the left side.
Playing as an attacking full back, this has allowed Gaya to play more as a wing-back, ensuring he gets into greater attacking positions, this would be a much welcome strength for Arsene Wenger as it gives him options if he did decide to change up his famous 4-2-3-1 formation.
Arsenal have been known to be vulnerable on the counter-attack, and the thought of having an attacking full-back may worry some fans, but another trait the Spaniard carries is electric pace which certainly rescues him/team in a defensive sense.
We take a look at how he measures up against current Arsenal left-back Nacho Monreal and how he would fit the Arsenal system.
Being a defender in the modern game, although you are asked to possess many different qualities the number one trait all managers will want is tackles won, and Gaya comes out on top of the Gunners man Monreal by winning 2.24 tackles per 90 minutes with the latter managing 1.26 thus far this season.
The 21-year-old also impresses with successful take ons, having the burst of pace and ability to get past their man in a defensive transition is key, and the Valencia man again comes out on top ahead of the Arsenal star by completing 59.09% with Monreal just behind on 58.33%.
The Premier League, as many people know, it is the toughest / most physical league in the world and as a defender you must be cut out to win aerial duels against the opponent, and again Gaya comes out on top, standing at 5 ft 7, managing to win 54.55% of his aerial duels with Monreal managing just 40%. You could argue La Liga is far less physical in that aspect but the stat itself is still very impressive.
Arsenal Football Club holds an identity which is well known across Europe, and that is to play beautiful football, which the man himself Arsene Wenger brought to the club. Being prodigious in possession is key for any member of Arsenal’s squad and Monreal does top his Spanish compatriot in this trait with 83% pass completion which is just ahead of the Valencia full-back (75%).
But, being efficient in possession is even more key for Arsenal with Gaya again impressing with key passes, accomplishing 0.85 per 90 minutes which is far better than Monreal, 0.38.
As you can see from the stats above, Gaya would be a great signing for the Gunners. He is still very young and raw, but given Wenger’s speciality for developing young talent, Gaya has the potential to be a significant upgrade on his compatriot Monreal and with much more time on his side.
Looking at the prospect of having Hector Bellerin (21) and Jose Gaya (21) the North Londoners would potentially have their full-back pairing for the next decade sorted. They’re both extremely exciting talents and are destined to become world class players, the club will likely have to cough up around £30 million for his services, but investing in someone carrying such ability, the club should prioritise his signature next summer and save him from the crisis at Los Che Els Taronges.
It’s worth remembering that Arsenal recently dealt with Valencia, bringing Mustafi to the club.
Arsenal host West Brom on boxing day in what is already surely a must win if they wish to remain in the hunt for the title. The Gunners have had a catastrophic last week, losing two away games whilst all their title rivals picked up maximum points.
Now Arsenal need to pick themselves up and respond. There’s no use feeling sorry for yourself, you need to go and prove everyone wrong. The team selection is critical, with many of the current first eleven proving to let the team down in recent games, surely Wenger will be looking to change it up a bit.
Goalkeeper: Petr Cech
I think Cech is certain to keep his place, however he needs to be careful. Letting that shot in at his near post from Sterling may have made Wenger think twice. Ospina has been brilliant when he’s played this season and Cech has looked far from his best. Wenger may be forced to drop Cech should he continue to have an error-prone season.
Defence: Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs
The defence NEEDS changing. Arsenal’s haven’t managed to keep a clean sheet in months and that is simply not good enough for a team with ambitions to win the title. Gabriel and Koscielny as a duo just doesn’t work – they are too similar in style. Summer signing Rob Holding deserves a chance to play alongside Koscielny – it worked in Basel and the Englishman has looked very composed and much more a Mustafi replacement when he has played. On the left-hand side I will be very disappointed should Gibbs not be given a start in this game. Monreal has looked fatigued and poor all season, whilst whenever Gibbs has had the chance to impress, he normally has. He needs more game time and the team needs some fresh legs, so that is the change that makes the most sense of all to me.
Midfield: Granit Xhaka, Mohammed Elneny; Lucas Perez, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez
Midfield is another area that needs tweaking, in my opinion. Coquelin and Xhaka hasn’t worked too well and at home, I think we need to go for it a bit more. Dropping Coquelin for Elneny makes sense for me. The Egyptian has a bit more going forward, he’s full of energy and his passing is very reliable. That makes him a good partner for Xhaka who prefers to sit deeper, dictate and use his physicality. When Coquelin plays alongside Xhaka he is often pushed forward and it doesn’t really work due to the Frenchman’s limitations. Elneny would be more comfortable and effective in those more advanced areas. Elneny deserves a chance with his teammates struggling in the last couple of games and the team equally needs some fresh legs. On the right, Lucas Perez really deserves a start. The Spaniard has impressed when he’s been given a chance this season, but his game time has been really limited. With the likes of Chamberlain and Walcott struggling lately, now is the time for Lucas to come in and prove his worth. I’d shift Alexis back to the left for this one and keep Ozil in the hole.
Striker: Olivier Giroud
I think Giroud will get the nod in this game to help counteract the physical threat posed by West Brom. The Gunners do play better when Alexis Sanchez starts through the middle, but the last couple of performances have been poor and it is only fair to give Giroud, who has done well when he’s played, a chance.
Mesut Ozil has put in a run of poor performances for Arsenal recently, and must improve dramatically if Arsenal are to make a push to try and catch Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table.
The Gunners sit 4th going into Christmas after a toothless performance at Manchester City on Sunday afternoon, missing their opportunity to maintain their place in 2nd and widen the gap between themselves and Pep Guardiola’s side.
Mesut Ozil has been poor over the last few games, and has seemed to have disappeared a lot on the football pitch. On Tuesday night, Ozil was involved heavily in the Arsenal attack in the first fifteen or twenty minutes at Goodison Park against Everton. However, as soon as the game turned physical and the Toffees started to a put in some strong tackles, we saw very little of the German playmaker.
Ozil did find himself with space for a shot just inside the Everton box in the second half, but failed to take his chance as he fired his shot over the crossbar, a chance that he probably should have buried. The German created one chance in the first half, but when Everton drew level, Ozil didn’t create a any chances. He didn’t complete a take-on either in the whole match.
The 28-year-old’s display against Manchester City was just as poor. He was shrugged off the ball too easily, and failed to create chances for the Gunners in what was a gutless display at the Etihad Stadium. He was found walking in the midfield too many times, his work-rate was awful.
The German international did create one chance, didn’t have a single shot, nor did he have a single shot, or make a single tackle. The same happened at Old Trafford a month ago. Manchester United played a very physical game, and rather unsurprisingly, Ozil disappeared once again.
Costing Arsenal a hefty £42.5m a few seasons ago, Ozil needs to become that big game player for the Gunners, something that he has failed to do in his time at the Emirates, especially this season. When the rest of the team isn’t playing well, Ozil needs to step up and make things happen. Maybe a spell out of the side would actually have a good effect on the German.
The problem that Arsene Wenger faces is that Ozil is one of those undroppable players, and the French manager probably fears the reaction and stick he will face if he were to drop Ozil. However, Wenger needs to step up and make the big decision in my opinion, and give Ozil the wake-up call that he needs. The 28-year-old has provided just two assists this season, the same amount as Tottenham flop Moussa Sissoko. He needs to become more involved, and fast if Arsenal are to push for the Premier League title this season.
‘Never Hated A Player More’ Arsenal Defender Comes Under Strong Criticism After Manchester City Nightmare
Arsenal travelled to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon in a bid to close the gap on first-placed Chelsea, a gap which has extended to nine points after the Gunners dropped points against Everton mid-week.
Unfortunately for Arsene Wenger’s men, they conceded to consecutive defeats in the space of a week as their title hopes took a massive dent with the Gunners sitting in fourth place, nine points off top and looking very vulnerable.
Most Arsenal players carried on their abysmal form from Goodison Park but one player in particular was on the receiving end of some strong criticism, that being Brazilian defender Gabriel Paulista, who was atrocious against Manchester City as he showed why Arsenal miss Mustafi so much.
Gabriel, who arrived at the North Londoners in 2015, has failed to cement himself a place in the starting lineup for nearly two years and today showed exactly why, he was abysmal in possession, for someone playing in a team managed by Arsene Wenger you would be very surprised by how Gabriel was playing, he was constantly going long for Alexis Sanchez, just for Arsenal to concede possession and be put under more pressure.
Gabriel lacked the technical ability to string a few passes on the surface, he was not able to pass through to our midfield to help build up play from the back and was extremely wasteful with the ball, he would either go sideways or over the midfield, and straight to City defenders, this cost Arsenal crucially today and the signs are really showing why Mustafi is so key to this team.
As a central defender you have to be much more aware and more disciplined than Gabriel was, he can often be quite rash in his defensive duties and can be caught out of position very often.
Gabriel made just two tackles this afternoon, one more than Olivier Giroud who was subbed on in the latter stages of the game, that just shows what kind of defensive performance Gabriel has against Manchester City.
The Brazilian always looks very uncomfortable with the ball too, he looks like he does not know what to do with it, or has a lack of confidence in himself, to which he results to just giving the ball away or play wayward passes, something which will anger Arsene Wenger.
For some humour, Gabriel nearly caused Hector Bellerin to score an own goal after the Brazilian hoofed the ball at Bellerin’s face and it took quick reactions from Petr Cech to save the shot, no it is not that funny really, is it? But if you don’t laugh you will cry. That moment of madness just shows what kind of performance Gabriel had today.
It is really frustrating to watch, this is twice in one week we have taken a look at Arsenal players to cost the Gunners a vital points and ground in the title race. Each and every player should want to win and end this disastrous drought of having no Premier League in so many years, but they don’t, and to be honest, it’s frustrating and a disgrace for the Arsenal faithful.
It is certainly a performance to forget for Gabriel, it was embarrassing. We look at how Twitter reacted to his performance, and as expected some fans are really not happy.
Somehow I prefer that Rob Holding to Gabriel Paulista.
— Naldo (@Folahan_MG) December 18, 2016
— Walter Butler (@wallyhoop79) December 18, 2016
I swear Gabriel paulista is the shittest defender I've seen in my life
His like the toilet seats inside fuel station toilets
— Marvinbantu (@Marvinbantu1) December 18, 2016
Another disaster at the back is @gpaulista5 …he's always have one or two mistakes in him
— Akinwande Soji-Ojo ® (@PrinzAkinwande) December 18, 2016
Agenda against Cech needed now.
Mans concedes too many goals.
Also we need to sell Gabriel Paulista. Not a defender.
— Rah (@neneroni) December 18, 2016
Someone should please tell Gabriel Paulista to calm down. He is pressing that panic button too early…. #Bbcfootball
— Shanu 'Shai' Afolami (@shaiontheprowl) December 18, 2016
Gabriel paulista is really poor to me.
— Dev. 👑 (@N0xID09) December 18, 2016
Mustafi plays – yet to lose. Mustafi gets injured. Gabriel plays – back to back defeats. Just sayin…
— David Palmer (@ArsenalDavey) December 18, 2016
Where did Arsenal dig that Gabriel from? 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭
— FONG KONG 凤岗 (@Demilade_OG) December 18, 2016
Gabriel is not Arsenal quality.
— JordinhoJordan (@JordinhoJordan2) December 18, 2016
How embarrassing is Gabriel? Never hated an Arsenal CB more. Mustafi FC needed.
— Olly (@Giroudesquee) December 18, 2016
As you can see, Arsenal fans were less than impressed with Gabriel’s performance and were quite ruthless on his overall display. Some people find strong criticism unfair and uncalled for, and sometimes it may be, but for Arsenal, they are desperate to end their title run, games like today will pay divalent on their title charge and it really does feel as if the Gunners will go another season without the grandest prize of them all.
Arsenal fans are calling for Rob Holding to start over Gabriel, and to be honest, I have to agree. The youngster has been immense whenever he plays in an Arsenal shirt and has bags of potential to fill and a lot more ability about himself.
The Gunners bottled two tough away days in the space of a week, they’re nine points off top, playing some woeful football and sitting here writing this I feel that’s another season down drain, and it’s only December.
There’s every chance that it could be another weekend filled with goals, given the sheer amount of relegation “six-pointers” and high-profile clashes coming our way in Gameweek 17 of the Premier League.
Arsenal’s trip to the Etihad Stadium and this season’s first instalment of the Merseyside derby stick out like a sore thumb, but pay special attention to West Ham United hosting Hull City, the clash down on the south coast between Bournemouth and Southampton, Sunderland versus Watford, and many more potentially goal-infested games.
With the festive period over the horizon, we appreciate Fantasy Premier League won’t be the first thing on your mind, which is why this week’s edition of Fresh Football’s tip-offs is dedicated to those players you should look to invest in while you take your eye of the ball. Here are our choices:
Club: West Ham United
After appearing totally downbeat a fortnight ago in response to West Ham’s 5-1 meltdown at home to Arsenal, Slaven Bilić and his men have managed to grab onto some form with a bounce-back 2-2 draw at Anfield to Liverpool and a 1-0 win over a resilient Burnley side in midweek.
The picture looks brighter ahead of Hull’s trip to east London, with the Irons taking on Swansea City and Leicester City following Saturday, all subsequently languishing alongside them in the bottom half of the table.
West Ham have the opportunity to kick-start a revival and in Michail Antonio, the goal scorer in their 2-2 draw against Liverpool and currently with seven league goals to his name, they have a potential hero guide them out of a precarious situation.
2 – Alexis Sanchez
Sunday’s clash sees a reunion between Alexis Sanchez and his former Barcelona boss, Pep Guardiola, who’s had his fair share of success up against Arsenal in European competitions over the years. The Gunners will be without key man Shkodran Mustafi, sorely missed in their 2-1 defeat versus Everton on Tuesday, but list of absentees in the blue half of Manchester also goes a long way into opening up this clash.
Sergio Agüero headlines the list of players Guardiola can’t count on ahead of their next fixture, as he serves part of his four-game suspension, whereas midfield general Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi are joined by İlkay Gündoğan on the sidelines, likely to be out for up to eight months!
Guardiola will be tasked with averting Arsenal’s recent unbeaten run against City, currently without a loss in their last five league meetings, but if they continue to expose themselves as much as they have done with expansive football directly from the back-line, in particular with Sanchez and co. sniffing around, they could land themselves in deep trouble.
The Chilean leading the line for the Gunners has proved to be a revolutionary feature in north London this season, thus far leading the Premier League’s goal scoring charts with Chelsea’s Diego Costa on 12 goals, and with a double-header at home coming up against West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace into the New Year, there could well be more to come from Sanchez, starting Sunday.
Theo Walcott is a valid alternative, despite his poor show at Goodison Park this Tuesday, off the back of two goals in Arsenal’s last two home games, as well as occasionally popping up on the score sheet against City over the years.
3 – Diego Costa
Winning ten out of their last ten games in the Premier League, leading the table by six points, Chelsea are without a doubt the in-form team in the division. A portion of that is owed to Diego Costa, goal scorer of the winning goal versus West Brom last weekend and owner of 11 more throughout this season, with the Spain international promising more from his startling performances.
Next up for Antonio Conte’s man is a date with Crystal Palace; an away trip that is sure to test the Blues’ endurance in what can be considered a gap year for the side relieved of its European duties in midweek, as opposed to many of their title rivals. Chelsea’s last outing on Wednesday saw them settle for a 1-0 win against relegation candidates Sunderland.
Crystal Palace are coming off a strenuous task themselves, however, as they were sunk by an 88th minute Zlatan Ibrahimovic winner in a 2-1 defeat at home to Manchester United, so the fitness worries are also there for the club that’s conceded 31 goals already this season.
Can Costa add to that count? We wouldn’t bet against it, whereas the all-action striker also has winnable home fixtures against Bournemouth and Stoke City to top up his goal scoring antics following Saturday’s early kick-off.
Arsenal travelled to Goodison Park on Tuesday evening in a bid to extend their unbeaten run in the Premier League since the opening day of the season.
The Gunners only defeat prior to the match was against Liverpool, the Toffees rivals, but they fell to a crushing defeat to Ronald Koeman’s men to make it 2-0 to Merseyside over the North Londoners.
It was a poor performance all round, but one player in particular who was on the receiving end of strong criticism was Arsenal’s German World Cup winner Mesut Ozil, who was lethargic, pathetic, and out-fought all game in a shambolic display.
Playing in his favourite number 10 role, Arsenal expect to be able to rely on their most creative player to carve out chances and take the game by the scruff of the neck, but when the going gets tough, Ozil seems to disappear, quite literally. Ozil, who can of course produce moments of artistic magic is still a wonderful player, but when he has the attitude of ‘can’t be bothered’ it really does rub off on others.
Unlike Alexis Sanchez, who has had better nights but still he ran his socks off up until the final whistle and still showed great character for the team, Ozil was Slowly walking about, not tracking back, letting the game run away from him and quite simply being a shadow of what he possesses in a very lazy performance.
The Arsenal man is not immune to criticism, however wonderful he may be, for Everton’s winning goal, Mesut Ozil found himself in the penalty box defending the corner (no, that is not a typo) and although he should not be there in the first place, he should still be man enough to challenge Williams for the ball. Instead, Ozil ducked and turned his back on the ball as he cowardly pulled himself out of any contact.
Honestly, that’s a total disgrace, for a club who want to put an end to their disastrous title drought, to have a player duck from the ball which turned out to be the winner is not good enough, what mentality is that giving off? He should want to throw every limb he has into that challenge, instead he let his man have all the time in the world before casually walking back to the halfway line.
Ozil is first name on the team sheet each week, without a doubt, he is crucial for Arsenal and is key for their title charge, but when the going gets tough, he must get tougher, he could have showed some sort of heart and character to try and win that ball in the box, but he did nothing which has cost his team the points.
To put the cherry on top of such a disappointing performance, Ozil had the opportunity to put the Gunners ahead when the ball was dragged back into his path, but unfortunately he blasted the ball over, he could have certainly scored.It is really frustrating to watch when someone of his
It is really frustrating to watch when someone of his qualitiy is playing with such attitude, all is not bad for Ozil though, he did still manage to create one chance against Everton and ended the game with 81% passing accuracy, which isn’t great for his standards but still far from woeful.
It is certainly a performance to forget for Ozil, it was dire. We look at how Twitter reacted to his performance, and as expected some fans are really not happy.
Ozil cowering there as he's meant to mark Williams for the winner. An obviously class player, but he has a few too many of those moments.
— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) December 13, 2016
Has anyone seen Mesut Ozil
— goonerclaude (@goonerclaude) December 14, 2016
If Ozil cant perform more than 1/3, then sell. Buy Isco & Reus. Never win PL or CL with a luxury passenger
— Doublegooner (@Doublegooner) December 14, 2016
Ozil had a poor game last night. Not one of his best.
But, some fans think he deserves "whatever he wants" to sign a contract.
— Mark (@mjneighbour) December 14, 2016
Stop having a go at Walcott and have a go at OZIL he does fuck all every game and we sing his name and more most of his time at Arsenal poor
— Rio (@RioPlayzHD) December 14, 2016
What's the problem in pointing out that Ozil was poor against Everton?
— Cartoonist (@exit_smoke) December 14, 2016
That game would have been won if not for poor defence and a lazy Ozil.
— Navneet Tanwar (@TanwarNavneet) December 14, 2016
Ozil doesn't put in any effort defending, I've never seen him close someone down or make a tackle. He struggles physically. Unlike Sanchez.
— Jordan Santi (@JordanSanti19) December 14, 2016
Still not home, motorways are shit, what a bollox night, an now I'm seeing videos of Özil ducking the winning goal 😡get me to bed!!!!
— Mr DT © (@mrdt2016) December 14, 2016
Ozil with a disgusting performance deserves dropping not a FUCKING PAY RISE
— AlexisFC ❤️ (@LeeGunner82) December 13, 2016
As you can see, Arsenal fans were less than impressed with the Germans performance yesterday and rightly so, they’re desperate to end their title drought and know losses like yesterday could play divalent in the title run. Yes, the criticism may be deemed unfair as he is a glorious player, but no player is immune to it, and he really must take a long hard look at himself after yesterday’s display.
To top of his performance, he didn’t even go over to thank the Arsenal faithful after the match and headed straight down the tunnel, maybe he felt embarrassed after the defeat but there is never any excuse not to thank the fans that look up to you.
Walcott has also come under strong criticism for his performance, if you can call it that, in the 2-1 defeat against Everton.
Arsenal are in an excellent position, they have only suffered two defeats this season which could have both been avoided, Arsenal need Mesut Ozil to step up and help them reach maximum heights this season.
Up next is Manchester City away for the Gunners, he could certainly put this performance behind him if he was to help his side take all three points and put a real marker down.
These are Fresh Football’s ratings for Everton’s Premier League clash at home to Arsenal on Tuesday night:
Maarten Stekelenburg – 6
Nothing spectacular from the Dutch goalkeeper in between the sticks, but he did provide a few successful ‘Cruyff turns’ on Arsenal’s stars that went down well with sections of the home crowd. His experience throughout periods of the game were also an invaluable feature in Everton riding spells of Gunners attacks, cutting the impetus.
Seamus Coleman – 7
A typical, tenacious Seamus Coleman performance, completed by the goal late into the first-half that brought the Toffees level.
Ashley Williams – 7
From zero to hero – the Welsh defender was at the centre of Arsenal’s first goal, deflecting Alexis Sanchez’s free-kick past Stekelenburg, but the ex-Swansea skipper more than made up for his less than fortunate moment with an 86th minute winner.
Phil Jagielka – 6.5
Solid alongside Williams and pivotal in the build-up that led to his defensive partner’s late heroics, but the former Sheffield United man will be ruing a late tackle that saw Mark Clattenburg brandish a red card upon him, subsequently ruling him out of the Merseyside derby next Monday.
Leighton Baines – 8.5
The English left back was on top form versus Theo Walcott, picked up an assist for Coleman’s equaliser and was on hand to salvage Everton with an 11th hour clearance off the line from Alex Iwobi’s shot in the dying seconds of the game.
James McCarthy – 6.5
Lifted the crowd with some borderline tackles which, ultimately, Everton benefited from over the course of both halves.
Idrissa Gana Gueye – 6.5
Alongside McCarthy at the base of midfield, Gueye’s energy was priceless in maintaining Everton’s often relentless tempo and making things uncomfortable for Arsenal through constant pressure.
Ross Barkley – 6
A better performance from the under-fire Englishman, who on another day might well have chipped in with a goal or two with the chances he had to either score or assist.
Aaron Lennon – 4.5
The ex-Tottenham Hotspur winger put a shift in when required to do so, but he was, ultimately, disappointing in the final third.
Enner Valencia – 7
Among his best performances for his new club, Valencia ran the channels well and ensured an uncomfortable night for Nacho Monreal with his pace.
Romelu Lukaku – 6.5
An incredibly sacrificial display from Lukaku, often hanging within Laurent Koscielny’s radius to occupy Arsenal’s star defender for the benefit of his teammates. The Belgian’s link-up play from direct balls proved to be sound, despite rarely threatening to beat Petr Cech himself.
Kevin Mirallas – 5
The winger came on to refresh the left flank when replacing Aaron Lennon, but didn’t have much success up against Hector Bellerin.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin – N/A
Ramiro Funes Mori – N/A
Petr Cech – 6.5
There was little the Czech Republican could do for both headed goals scored by Everton, but Cech did come up with a big save to deny Jagielka just moments before Williams’ winner.
Hector Bellerin – 6.5
The Spaniard grew into the game from an offensive aspect, meanwhile keeping both Lennon and Mirallas at bay on the right flank.
Gabriel Paulista – 6
Filling in for the injured Shkodran Mustafi after spells at right back, Gabriel appeared to have made the smooth transition back into the heart of the defence, initially, but the likes of Valencia and Lukaku did get the better of the Brazilian on a few occasions as the game opened up.
Laurent Koscielny – 7.5
Busy with Lukaku in his peripheral view, the Frenchman dealt with much that came his way.
Nacho Monreal – 6
A game of phases for Monreal. At times he looked troubled, in particular when in foot races next to Valencia, but there were also moments when the experienced left back was on hand to trouble the Everton back line with associative play on the flank.
Granit Xhaka – 5.5
The Swiss midfielder failed to impose himself on a hectic, end-to-end game, and how Arsenal could have done with someone to set the tempo on a night filled with disappointment.
Francis Coquelin 6.5
Played his part in combating Everton’s tenacity, pressing with success himself and winning his fair of 50/50s that kept Arsenal somewhat competitive in the middle of the park.
Theo Walcott – 4.5
Unfortunately for Arsenal, Walcott was never in the game.
Mesut Özil – 4.5
The pace of the game blew past the German playmaker, who will also be kicking himself for missing a great opportunity to make it 2-1 to Arsenal midway through the second half.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 4.5
Another who never managed to leave his imprint on the game, cutting a frustrated figure on Arsenal’s left flank and committing his fair share unnecessary fouls as a consequence.
Alexis Sanchez – 7
Looked to be the likeliest Arsenal player to tip the balance all night after scoring the first goal of the game, but too many of his teammates just weren’t on the same wavelength.
Olivier Giroud – 4.5
The Frenchman’s introduction didn’t quite have the desired effect the Gunners imagined him to have, as Everton pushed up their defensive line and made it difficult for the target man to spearhead Arsenal’s counters through a natural lack of pace.
Alex Iwobi – 5
Promised more than both Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain from wide areas when coming on, but his general passing game was a little off in crucial moments.
Lucas Perez – N/A
Arsenal’s long Premier League unbeaten run came to an end on Tuesday night as they fell to a 2-1 defeat at Goodison Park, and there were some very poor performances from a number of Arsenal players on the night.
One player in particular to pick up criticism was Theo Walcott. The Englishman has been in improved form this season but he still lacks consistency and that was particularly evident in this fixture where he literally failed to turn up.
Playing on the right wing, Walcott just couldn’t get into the game and was removed with around 20 minutes to go.
Walcott had an extremely quiet night, completing just 14 passes with a 71.4% accuracy rate. He was also at fault for allowing Baines to cross the ball for Coleman’s first half equaliser. Although he raced to close down Baines, Theo was weak in the tackle and that allowed Baines the space to swing in a delightful cross and spark Everton’s resurgence into the game.
Unfortunately for Walcott, the bad statistics do not end there… Offensively he completed 0 dribbles, 0 through balls, 0 key passes and 0 shots on target. It truly was like he wasn’t even there.
Here’s some of the reaction to Theo’s performance on Twitter.
Hope Theo Walcott's coffee machine doesn't work and he's lost the receipt.
— Jamie Dalton (@JamieDalton82) December 13, 2016
#afc marking poor. Undeniably missed Mustafi but not had a clean sheet in 12 now (all comps). In attack, Ozil/Walcott/Ox disappointing.
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) December 13, 2016
Walcott has been shocking, Get Perez or Iwobi on.
— Arsenal (@ffarsenalfc) December 13, 2016
Quite a few had bad games tonight but Walcott was a disgrace
— 1886 (@gooners_1886) December 13, 2016
Ozil Walcott and Ox where all missing today
— Héctor Mitz Calderón (@MitzProductions) December 13, 2016
This performance is reminiscent of last season. Walcott did nothing, Özil went missing, shaky defensive performance & Alexis trying too hard
— Mändär (@mandaarrr) December 13, 2016
Personally I have never been Theo’s biggest fan. His form this season was very good at the start, but it has faded and when he goes missing like he did on Tuesday night, it makes it extremely difficult for Arsenal to win games, it’s like playing with one less player. Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t the only one. Mesut Ozil was very poor, as was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but after more than 10 years at the club, you would expect better from Walcott and he is running out of lifelines. The likes of Iwobi, Lucas Perez and Danny Welbeck (when fit again) will surely be pushing to take his place if he is to put in more performances like he did against Everton.
It continues to be a problem for Arsenal that very few players are consistent. There also seems to be an overwhelming effect on the team when one player is missing – in today’s case it was Skhodran Mustafi. The German helps dictate the way Arsenal play from the back, therefore having a big influence at both ends of the field. Arsenal certainly missed his authority in defensive areas for the two goals they conceded. Sadly, the Gunners have at least 3 more games before their summer signing will return to fitness. Wenger needs to find a solution and by Sunday.
Arsenal moved to the top of the league on Saturday night after beating Stoke, and there was one player that the fans were talking about a lot after the game…
Arsenal’s £30million summer signing Granit Xhaka was selected alongside Francis Coquelin in the heart of the Gunners midfield as they looked to combat the physical threat offered by Stoke City. The defensive base
Although Xhaka gave away a controversial penalty, the Swiss international put in a brilliant all-round performance to help Arsenal to what was in the end, a comfortable 3-1 home win against an on form Stoke City side.
Xhaka’s statistics on the day were incredibly impressive. He completed 100% of his take ons and highlighted his ability to dictate the game from deep, completing 77 passes with an 88% accuracy rate. He also showed his physical and defensive ability, winning 4 aerial duels, 3 tackles and making 2 clearances.
What was impressive about Xhaka’s performance on the day was that he did not only make short passes to keep things ticking along, but he also showed good ability to create chances from deep, switching up his passing play with longer passes that created 2 clear chances. He attempted a huge 10 long balls with 6 of them being accurate.
The ability to be such an all-round midfielder has made Xhaka the hub of the Arsenal team. He seems to be the man to dictate possession and lead by example. With Santi Cazorla out injured for a few months, it was extremely important for Arsenal to find someone that was capable of this – Xhaka being able to do so will ensure that the Spaniard is not missed as much as many may have thought originally.
Here’s some reaction on Twitter to the Swiss international’s performance.
— 11tegen11 (@11tegen11) December 10, 2016
Xhaka vs Stoke
77/88 passes – Highest
2 chances created
100% take on success
8 ball recoveries – Highest
3/3 tackles – Highest
— Jase The GÖÖNER (@JaseTheGooner) December 10, 2016
Won't get any headlines but Xhaka excellent again today. 10 starts for Arsenal, 9 wins, 1 draw. pic.twitter.com/xvCREc1Q4J
— Jas (@JasAFC) December 10, 2016
… and some reaction from Xhaka himself…
— Granit Xhaka (@GrantXhaka) December 10, 2016
Personally, I am over the moon with the signing of Xhaka. He has settled very quickly and looks better with every game. I think he has curbed his aggression somewhat and filtered it into the right kind of aggression that’s needed on the pitch. Arsenal needed a midfielder that could both dictate the game through good on the ball ability and also physically dominate. In Coquelin Arsenal have a physical but not technical midfielder and Cazorla is technical not physical, but Xhaka beautifully combines both. He’s a man with a tonne of experience already, but it is easy to forget that he is only 24 and his leadership skills and overall ability will continue to grow in the next 5 years. Arsenal have made a top class signing.
Arsenal’s squad looks stronger than ever and considering their performance to date, the Gunners fans must surely be happy with the team’s performance and their summer activity in the transfer market.
But with the title race so close this season – Arsenal could always benefit from additional talent. But signing a player in January is always a risk, especially if it is a player that will have to adapt to a new league and possibly a new language – so winter signings can often have an adverse effect on momentum. But the possible signing I want to talk about is Dimitri Payet, who has been linked with a move to the club in recent weeks. The experienced West Ham midfielder rose to prominence last season and excelled in England and on the international stage at Euro 2016. But this season he has seriously struggled in a very poor West Ham team, he looks disinterested and appears to be pushing for a move away from the club. Aged 29 it would be understandable if Payet was eyeing a move to one of Europe’s bigger clubs before the sun sets on his career. West Ham are seriously struggling this season – after their European adventure was cut short, they are now languishing around the relegation zone and it does not look like they will be able to match the player’s ambitions moving forward – he wants to be playing Champions League football and his quality deserves it.
Should he become available I’m sure there would be a long list of admirers. The likes of Real Madrid and Paris-Saint Germain were linked in the summer, but if Arsene Wenger were to offer him an option to stay in England and London then I think he would certainly be interested.
Do Arsenal need Payet? Should he join the club I think he would have to settle for a role on the wing, but I think he can still play very well in that position. Whilst Arsenal do have plenty of wide options, they are all still very inexperienced and inconsistent, I think a player of Payet’s quality would certainly aid the squad in their title quest and in Europe moving forward. The likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alex Iwobi and Jeff Reine-Adelaide would not see their development damaged too much with the arrival of Payet. Iwobi is still only 20 and has proven that this season he cannot perform at a high level consistently, he still has a lot to learn and players like Payet are brilliant to learn from. Jeff, aged 18, is not yet ready for the limelight – a loan spell would do him good. Whilst Arsenal are looking to give the Ox a new contract, the 23-year-old is also one who struggles for consistency. Welbeck (26), Lucas (28) and Walcott (27) are the other wide options with Alexis Sanchez now finding his best form through the middle. Walcott and Welbeck can both be considered injury prone after their records in the recent past and Lucas is still settling in to English football, with his best form coming in the Champions League.
A player of Payet’s quality is always welcome in my opinion. He’s proven his quality in the Premier League and for France – and Wenger will not have missed that.
Yes Arsenal’s options would be crowded should Payet join, but Arsenal so often suffer from injury problems in the latter stages of the season and that derails their title challenge. They also struggle when trying to contend in Europe, the league and the FA Cup, with the squad being stretched and tired legs seeing the team drop points. Not only would Payet be an option out wide, but he’d provide a great rotation or backup option for Ozil at number 10. Arsenal have no natural replacement for the German should he suffer an injury and trying to shoehorn Ramsey or promote Jeff too quickly would surely not be a good idea. Payet could provide that extra bit of quality that helps Arsenal go all the way in the title race, and perhaps to the next stage in Europe.
Arsenal fans, would you pay £30million for Dimitri Payet should he become available for that price in January? Let me know in the comment section below.
Arsenal will be full of confidence after a successful couple of weeks both domestically and in Europe. Following a good run of form, Arsene Wenger’s man have seen themselves move up to second in the Premier League and secured top spot in the Champions League group stages after PSG’s slip-up on Wednesday night.
Hector Bellerin could return from injury for this one while Santi Cazorla, Per Mertesacker and Danny Welbeck are all out for the Gunners. Here is the Arsenal predicted line-up to face Stoke.
GK: Petr Cech
Was dropped for the Champions League match in favour of Ospina, but should start once again here.
RB: Hector Bellerin
Gabriel hasn’t put in a bad shift yet at right-back since the injury to Hector Bellerin, but the return of the Spaniard will be a big boost for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal, and he should be reinstalled back into the starting line-up straight away.
CB: Shkodran Mustafi
Mustafi and Koscielny have built up a very good relationship and understanding at the back for Arsenal. The defender missed out in midweek in Basel, and should be placed back in the starting line-up here.
CB: Laurent Koscielny
Will be a little disappointed not to have kept a clean sheet in the Champions League, but it was enough to take Arsenal through in top spot. I have no doubts in that he will play from the start against Stoke.
LB: Kieran Gibbs
Had a good game in midweek in the Champions League, and picked up three assists in that 4-1 win over Basel to secure top spot. Should keep his place here.
CDM: Granit Xhaka
Nothing too special from Granit Xhaka in midweek, but he had a solid game. After settling in, he will be looking to hit top form and nail down a regular place in Arsene Wenger’s line-ups. A good performance here will go a long way to doing that.
CDM: Francis Coquelin
Is available for selection to Arsene Wenger once again, and I think he will return to the starting line-up after that rest in midweek.
RAM: Theo Walcott
Another one that wasn’t selected in Basel, but has been in decent form recently. He should start again at the Emirates for Arsenal here.
CAM: Mesut Ozil
Mesut Ozil has discovered some good form in the Champions League but has not been at his very best in the Premier League recently. However, he was back amongst the goals last week against West Ham in the 5-1 thrashing, scoring his first league goal since October and will look to build on that.
LAM: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Also among the goals last week at the London Stadium, and has looked dangerous recently, scoring his second of the campaign last Saturday. Contract talks have reportedly started with the winger, and Arsenal will be hoping to tie him down with a new contract.
ST: Alexis Sanchez
Despite his hat-trick against Basel, I do not think that Lucas Perez will start on Saturday. I think that Alexis Sanchez will lead the line by himself against Stoke, with Lucas an attacking option on the wing and through the middle from the bench.
Arsenal traveled to St. Jakob-Park on Tuesday evening to face FC Basel – a side that traditionally does well against English opposition. The Gunners traveled in high spirits after their 5-1 victory over West Ham United on Saturday and knew a win would give them a chance of finishing top of the group.
PSG slipped up at home to Ludogorets managing just a point at the Parc Des Princes which ensured the Gunners topped their group after a comfortable 4-1 win, remaining unbeaten in the Champions League group stages with the last time Arsene Wenger’s men managing that they went all the way to the final.
Although all 11 Arsenal players were good, there was one performer that impressed many, that man being England u-21 international Rob Holding, who was making his Champions League debut.
Holding was given the nod ahead of Shkodran Mustafi who was rightly rested ahead of a busy Christmas period, and the young gun did not disappoint in an influential performance.
Partnered next to Laurent Koscielny, Holding was winning balls in the air, challenging for the ball and being a real rock at the back in a very impressive display. Holding managed three tackles on his European debut which was the joint best amongst other players.
As well as being impressive in tackles, Holding was also exceptional at reading the game, his professionalism and awareness for someone so premature in his career is prodigious with the Arsenal youngster making three interceptions and five clearances.
Another trait which Holding possesses with large amounts of confidence is his passing. It is as if he has already inherited the Arsenal DNA in which he patrols the ball and oozes confidence. The centre-back made 69 passes against Basel managing a 92.8% pass completion which just shows how comfortable he is on the ball.
His understanding with Koscielny was remarkable, they formed an excellent partnership this evening and Holding did not look out of place at all. Whilst dealing with his defensive duties with his French teammate, he also managed one key pass and had one shot on the offensive side of his performance.
The performance was excellent, Arsene Wenger will be delighted with his summer signing and the heaps of praise the youngster is receiving is fully deserved. We take a look at how Twitter reacted to his performance, with some fans very, very impressed.
I'm not one to jump the gun but Rob Holding is definitely the best defender of all time.
— Paddy (@VieiraPaddy) December 6, 2016
Rob Holding looks like a gem. So cool and calm with the ball, looks fearless. Having Koscielny besides you is always a good thing.
— Sir Jenkinson (@theEpicGooner) December 6, 2016
What a talent we have in Rob Holding
— renato (@rehnato) December 6, 2016
Rob Holding is class
— MC (@mediocentroEN) December 6, 2016
I simply love Rob Holding. Great defender now and for sure in the future ❤
— BFA !! (@FlertZuka) December 6, 2016
John Stones is a poor man's Rob Holding. #ARS
— Louis Young (@LouisYoung13) December 6, 2016
Rob Holding is going to be some defender if he stays focused. You can tell he's focused on constant improvement. Next big England defender?
— Liam Witt (@LiamWitt_) December 6, 2016
Holding carries himself like a Rolls Royce at centre-back. Classy.
— Pablo (@AFCAMDEN) December 6, 2016
Rob Holding was once again impressive, good with both feet and has great awareness, what a talent we have.
— Chris (@Gooner_DB) December 6, 2016
It already seems as if Holding has won the hearts of many Gunners fans after his immense debut performance in the Champions League. Arsenal signed the talented defender for just £2 million in the summer which in this day and age is an absolute bargain as Arsene Wenger seems to have found another gem. This was certainly a performance of intent and with such high quality it may give Arsene Wenger a selection headache over a busy Christmas period, but the good news is he knows he can trust his squad players to make an impact for the team. At just 21-years-old he is already showing signs of becoming a great defender, and in the future, he could certainly become a very important player for Arsenal, and who knows, maybe for England.
The Gunners ran riot against FC Basel on Tuesday, winning 4-1 and remaining unbeaten in the Champions League thus far. With PSG drawing, the win meant Arsenal topped their group for the first time in 6 years. Here are Fresh Football’s ratings for the Arsenal eleven.
David Ospina – 7
Made two good saves and looked very comfortable in between the sticks in the first half and could do little about Doumbia’s consolation goal for Basel.
Gabriel – 7
Since Hector Bellerin’s injury Gabriel has slotted in at right-back and has done superb thus far, he was solid in the first half and won tackles whilst being defensively strong in the air with much of the same in the second half, solid performance.
Rob Holding – 7.5
The 21-year-old’s first start in the Champions League this season was a success, in the first half he was composed in possession and defensively sound with much the same in the second half, apart from maybe losing his marker in Basel’s goal he was a rock at the back and did not look out of place.
Laurent Koscielny – 7.5
As always, the Frenchman was solid at the back for Arsenal and comfortable in possession throughout and kept the Basel attack at bay.
Kieran Gibbs – 9
Gibbs was superb in the first half, he grabbed an assist in the 8th minute with a smart pass across goal paving the way for Lucas to slot home, he then saw his shot saved to lead the way for Perez to net again, a carbon copy of the first goal.Not only was he superb going forward but also defensively brilliant in a marvellous performance.
Granit Xhaka – 8.5
Solid and efficient in possession as always, did not let the occasion of returning home get to him and played some brilliant passes through the lines throughout the match.
Aaron Ramsey – 8
Playing in the midfield pivot for the first time with Granit Xhaka was a new experiment for Arsene Wenger, the Welshman was good in possession and was always an outlet going forward but did leave Xhaka isolated in his defensive role at times in the first half but showed much more solidarity in the second.
Alex Iwobi – 8
Iwobi, who has been fighting for his place in recent weeks looked really up for the game in the early stages and was closing down and good on the ball, he gave away possession at times in the latter stages of the half though. Scored Arsenal’s fourth goal in the second half with a tidy finish and his work rate was immense throughout.
Mesut Ozil – 8.5
The German magician was superb for the Gunners in the first half, he passed the ball to Gibbs exquisitely in the build up for the second goal whilst remaining immense on the ball. A brilliant assist in the 53rd minute to set up Alex Iwobi, pulled the strings and was majestic throughout before being subbed on the 73rd minute.
Lucas Perez – 9.5 (MOTM)
Talk about being a fox in the box, Lucas was alert for both his goals in the first half poaching at the back post. Scored his third goal in the first minute of the second half with a brilliant finish running away from goal and was working hard for the Gunners from start to finish. Lucas played most of the game on the right-wing.
Alexis Sanchez – 8.5
The man who scored a wonderful hat-trick on Saturday was again quality for the Gunners, his pass to Gibbs for the first goal was beautiful, a hawk-eye pass which was pitch perfect, Arsenal’s Chilean was quiet going forward but was brilliant on the ball and closed down quickly from the front. Beautiful pass to Ozil to assist Iwobi, hit the bar with a magnificent free-kick before being substituted in the 69th min.
Olivier Giroud – 6
Nearly scored in the 73rd minute but saw his effort just go past the post but did not make much of an impact in the time he had.
Mohamed Elneny – 6
Solidified the midfield and kept things ticking in the closing moments.
Theo Walcott – 6
Made a few runs at the Basel defence and had one shot comfortably saved, but like Giroud, did not influence the game when he come on.
Arsenal moved up to second in the Premier League table after a 5-1 win over London rivals West Ham on Saturday, and having already secured qualification into the knockout stages of the Champions League, Arsene Wenger will be looking to add to his squad depth over the January transfer window so that he can make a push for the Premier League title as well as progress in the Champions League. Here are three players that Arsenal should try to sign in the new year.
1) Cesc Fabregas
Arsene Wenger has always rejected the idea whenever put to him that he wants to bring Cesc Fabregas back to the Emirates Stadium, but if he was given the opportunity to work with the Spaniard once again, then I am sure he would.
The Gunners could have the chance to secure the services of Fabregas over the course of the January transfer window according to reports emerging on Sunday morning from the Sunday Express. The 29-year-old has not featured regularly under Antonio Conte this season, despite playing in the 3-1 win over Manchester City on Saturday.
Santi Cazorla has been sidelined for three months, and despite denying it, Arsene Wenger will be keen to find a replacement in the new year. The signing of Fabregas would also add to Arsenal’s squad depth as they look to make a charge for the Premier League title whilst progressing as far as they can in the Champions League.
If Arsenal were able to secure the services of Fabregas, it would be an excellent signing for the Gunners. The Spaniard still has a lot to offer in the Premier League, and you just have to look at the ball Fabregas played up to Diego Costa for the equaliser on Saturday to see the quality he can offer.
Confidence will be high in the Arsenal camp after they moved up to second in the Premier League table following a 5-1 win over West Ham, and now the Gunners travel to Basel with qualification in the Champions League already secured.
Mathieu Debuchy and Hector Bellerin leave Wenger a selection headache at right-back again whilst he is still missing long-term absentees Santi Cazorla, Chuba Akpom, Per Mertesacker and Danny Welbeck are all out.
In order to finish top of the group, Arsenal must win and then rely on a PSG slip up against Ludogorets, and with this in mind Arsene Wenger might look to make a few rotations but still field a strong side to maintain the teams winning momentum. Here is the predicted 4-2-3-1 line-up to face Basel in the Champions League.
GK: David Ospina
The Arsenal goalkeeper has been subject to a little bit of criticism recently from Arsenal fans, but I do expect him to replace Petr Cech here as he usually does for the Champions League fixtures. On his day, he can be a very useful keeper.
RB: Gabriel Paulista
Carl Jenkinson was slammed for his performance in the EFL Cup last week in the 0-2 defeat at the hands of Southampton, and Paulista played alright against West Ham. He should keep his place again in Basel.
CB: Shkodran Mustafi
Mustafi has been a success ever since making the £35m switch from Valencia and has formed a very strong partnership with Koscielny at the heart of the defence. I expect Arsene Wenger to field a fairly strong team in Basel, and Mustafi should keep his place.
CB: Lauren Koscielny
As I have said, the partnership built up between Mustafi and Koscielny has been one that Arsenal fans love, and with Alexis Sanchez firing well up front it is a recipe for success. He should start once again here.
LB: Kieran Gibbs
Arsene Wenger should pick a strong side, but there are expected to be changes. Nacho Monreal has been in decent form of late, but Kieran Gibbs could take his place for the clash in Basel as the duo continue to contest for the left-back berth.
CDM: Granit Xhaka
The big money signing of the summer has not always featured under Wenger this season, but he played well on Saturday against West Ham, and he should keep his place in the starting line-up here, going to his former club.
CDM: Mohamed Elneny
Elneny recovered from illness to come on as a late substitute and will be pushing for a start here ahead of Francis Coquelin, and I think that he might get that starting place in the final group stage game, especially because, like Xhaka, this game will be a bit of a homecoming for him.
RAM: Theo Walcott
Walcott has been a much-improved player this season and netted against Bournemouth in the last Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium. He was replaced after 66 minutes by Aaron Ramsey on Saturday, and Arsene Wenger might have had this fixture in mind.
CAM: Mesut Ozil
Ozil got back amongst the goals in the Premier League on Saturday, and although it was just a tap-in, he was in the right place at the right time – something he has done much more frequently this season. Ozil has played well this season in the Champions League and will be a key figure for Arsenal here.
LAM: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Oxlade-Chamberlain also started on Saturday against West Ham, and also bagged himself a goal in the 5-1 thrashing. He has been decent form, and will probably start on the left-wing against Basel.
ST: Olivier Giroud
Giroud has returned to training after not making the squad on Saturday. With qualification secured, and with Arsenal relying on a PSG slip up at home against Ludogorets to finish top, Arsene Wenger might see this as an opportunity to rest key man Alexis Sanchez and start fit-again Giroud.
Arsenal picked up 3 points away from home on Saturday evening in what could’ve been a tricky away fixture for the title-chasing Gunners.
But in the end, it was a relatively straightforward win with the Gunners dominating in the first half but only managing to go into the break with a 1-goal lead. That goal came from Francis Coquelin making a key interception and that freed Alexis Sanchez who unselfishly gave the ball to Mesut Ozil, allowing the German to tap into an empty net.
The second half saw West Ham come into the game more than Arsenal fan will have liked, but they were still restricted to very few openings as the Gunners defence stood strong. It was then time for Alexis Sanchez to once again show his quality. Starting as the lone striker, the Chilean looked so confident and was quality with pretty much everything he did. He doubled Arsenal’s lead with a brilliant individual run, and most impressive was the finish. Striking from a tight angle, he found the bottom corner with aplomb, and it helped highlight the difference in quality between Alexis and most of the other players on the pitch.
It wasn’t long before the little Chilean made all the difference again, striking from the edge of the box and finding the bottom left corner with an unstoppable, accurate finish. There was a scare for Arsenal when Carroll headed in to make it 3-1, but Oxlade-Chamberlain responded immediately and restored the 3-goal lead for the Gunners. Then, a few minutes before full-time, Alexis completed an incredible performance, chipping the goalkeeper to get his hat-trick and make the score 5-1.
Crucially Alexis scored 3 goals and made 1 assist – but what was reassuring about Arsenal’s performance is that they always looked in control. Too many times in the past, Arsenal have crumbled in this kind of game, even when they take the lead. They now look so much more in control and are playing with a new found confidence. The additions of Mustafi and Xhaka to the spine of the team cannot be underestimated and the decision to move Alexis to play through the middle has been a revelation.
I loved the fact that Mustafi was barking orders throughout the game, keeping the defence in line and the midfielders in front of him in check.
With the Chilean’s contract having less than two years to run, many Arsenal fans have called for him to extend his contract, and for Arsenal to give the player the money he wants.
In my opinion, Alexis is up there with the best in the Premier League and tonight showed that. Arsenal really need to keep hold of him, he’s different class. The sooner we wrap up his contract the better, it’s time to loosen the purse strings.
Alexis was not the only star on the day, though – there were encouraging performances from the likes of Granit Xhaka and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield as it appeared Arsene Wenger finally found his midfield rhythm.
With this kind of performance and with the new signings settling in so well, Arsenal must truly be considered title challengers now.
They have quality players in every position and every title winning team has a main man, Arsenal’s is without a doubt Alexis and he proved that with a brilliant hat-trick.
The Gunners have passed several tests already this season that show they are a changed team. They dismantled Chelsea, and apart from the opening day of the season, where only half the team was there, they are undefeated in the league. You can rightly say that West Ham were very poor, but it is unusual and refreshing for Arsenal to still have not lost an away game when you consider the strength of all the teams in the Premier League.
Arsenal put in an outstanding performance at the London Stadium on Saturday evening, making light work of West Ham, brushing their London rivals aside, winning 5-1 in a completely dominant display.
Alexis Sanchez took full advantage of a defensive error from West Ham to give Arsenal the lead in the first half, laying the ball across to Mesut Ozil, who was left with the easiest of tap-ins.
Arsenal continued to dominate proceedings going into the second half, and Alexis Sanchez managed to double the Gunners’ lead in the 72nd minute, and then scoring Arsenal’s third on the 80th. West Ham managed to pull a goal back through Andy Caroll, but this was quickly cancelled out by an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain goal to put the Gunners 4-1 up.
It was a beautiful performance from the Chilean and you don’t need statistics to show you that, but here’s some anyway. Crucially he scored 3 goals and made 1 assist. He had 5 shots, 4 of them on target and 3 goals. He was also very creative, making 5 key passes on the night. He completed 3 dribbles, 2/2 long balls and 47 passes in total.
Sanchez completed the Arsenal rout with just four minutes of normal time to go, with an exquisite chip over the goalkeeper. Here is how the Arsenal fans on Twitter reacted to the Chilean’s performance.
Sanchez is simply unstoppable
— Fadhil (@fadhilmayati) 3 December 2016
— EnExodus (@enexodus) 3 December 2016
Sanchez is a freak, close control, ability to evade defenders in tight areas & willingness to shoot make him unplayable at times. #WHUvAFC
— Derryn Thomas (@derryn_thomas) 3 December 2016
Alexis Sanchez what a player. Made the goal for himself.
— kiran (@GeekyGooner) 3 December 2016
— Stuart Thornley (@stutopshelf) 3 December 2016
What a player Alexis Sanchez is 👏🏼
— AJ (@alexmarkillie7) 3 December 2016
BEST PLAYER IN THE LEAGUE.
— IslingtonGoonerAFC (@Born_a_gooner) 3 December 2016
Goooooooal Sanchez the little wizard done it a again scoring goals out of nothing. He does makes football looks so easy & lovely to watch
— Latua Adeniji (@Latua7) 3 December 2016
Although West Ham are not in the best of form, the 5-1 win sends a real statement out to the rest of the Premier League. Sanchez has been a key figure for the Gunners this season, and you can certainly question where the Gunners would be without him. As long as he plays well, the team plays well and Arsenal will need him to stay fit, as the Premier League title is within their reach, especially following this emphatic win.
Arsenal are back in Cup action on Wednesday night as they will host Southampton in the League Cup Quarter Final. Arsene Wenger has opted for a rotated squad in this competition in previous rounds, but with the final just two games away, and Southampton a tough opponent, will he be tempted to bring in some first team players for this clash?
I take a look at what I believe will be the likely Arsenal line-up and what I think it should be, when the two sides meet.
Goalkeeper: Damian Martinez
Arsene has three very good goalkeepers at the club and he’s playing them all in different competitions to spread out the game time. For the League Cup it is Martinez who is likely to take the place between the sticks. The young Argentinean has done very well in the two rounds previous and after signing a long-term contract at the club earlier this month, he’ll be keen to impress and keep the club in the competition.
Defence: Carl Jenkinson, Rob Holding, Gabriel Paulista, Kieran Gibbs
Jenkinson was apparently not happy at being left out of the squad against Bournemouth, but after Debuchy’s injury Arsenal need him. Holding and Gabriel have not been given much game time but both deserve to be given some game time in this competition. Gabriel looks like he needs more minutes to improve, and Holding has impressed at every opportunity. Gibbs has been at least on par with Monreal this season so once again, deserves to start.
Midfield: Francis Coquelin, Granit Xhaka; Lucas Perez, Jeff, Alex Iwobi
I’d like to see Xhaka retain his place in the middle of the park as Arsenal need to find some kind of consistency in midfield and with Cazorla out I think he is the best placed midfielder to do that. Alongside him we can afford to start the fresh Coquelin, who sat out against Bournemouth. I think Jeff will start at number 10 and he deserves to do so, it will be great to see the Frenchman in that position again. On the wings I would like to see the fit again Lucas Perez and Alex Iwobi. It’s a big game for both of those players as the wide spots are up for grabs in this Arsenal eleven. If either can put in a good performance, then I can see them breaking into the team.
Striker: Olivier Giroud
After being left out of the team against Bournemouth, Giroud will once again be hungry to prove himself in the team. Scoring goals doesn’t seem to be enough to get him into the eleven with Alexis thriving as an all-rounder through the middle, so it is up to Giroud to keep improving and prove his worth. The game on Wednesday presents a good chance for him to do just that.
Arsenal had to respond on Sunday after a couple of back to back draws in the Premier League had seen them slip slightly away from the leading pack in the Premier League.
The Gunners are still unbeaten in all competitions since the opening day of the season, though they were 6 points behind leaders Chelsea before hosting Bournemouth on Sunday afternoon.
Arsenal managed to close that gap to just 3 points following a 3-1 win. Arsene Wenger opted for some tactical changes after poor midfield performances in recent weeks. With Granit Xhaka and Mohammed Elneny at the base of the midfield and Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott back on the wings – Alexis also started the game up front. Arsenal played well for the most part, particularly in the 2nd half. The Arsenal fans had been calling for new summer signing Granit Xhaka to play more regularly and today’s performance shows why they are so keen to see more of their new central midfielder.
In Santi Cazorla’s absence, Arsenal have lacked a playmaker in deep areas, someone who is assured on the ball and can pass both long and short. Xhaka is this kind of playing and whilst he is not as technically gifted as Santi, he does have a stronger and taller frame, giving him obvious advantages in central duels.
Xhaka’s statistics on the day help back up my point. He completed a very impressive 90.4% of his passes on the day and had 76 touches during the 90 minutes, more than any other Arsenal player on the pitch. Defensively he was sound, making a huge 9 tackles, winning 1 aerial duel and making 3 interceptions. He showed his quality with a long ball too, attempting 4 and reaching his target twice. One that sticks in my mind was a brilliant long ball over the top for Giroud, although the Frenchman’s control saw the chance end.
Xhaka’s 52 passes were more than any other Arsenal player and this shows how he is becoming more settled in the team and more relied upon amongst his teammates. He is the conductor and in Cazorla’s absence it is very important that Arsenal have a player of this ilk in the centre of the park.
Here’s what the fans are saying about the Swiss international’s performance on Sunday.
Granit Xhaka has had an immense second half. We can attack so much faster with him in there. #afc
— Pablo (@AFCAMDEN) November 27, 2016
Xhaka has been excellent. Already looking forward to his next start some time in late January.
— Töm Acres (@TomAcresKM) November 27, 2016
So much more direct with Ox & Xhaka in the team. Forward passing at pace.
— Memz D (@AFCMemz) November 27, 2016
Granit Xhaka v Bournemouth
90% pass completion
14 ball recoveries
3 interceptions pic.twitter.com/uKkKpsBcqA
— Sultan (@WMFormation) November 27, 2016
Granit Xhaka has bossed it today. Deserves to be in the next starting XI.
— Danny Welbeck (@WelBeast) November 27, 2016
Xhaka has to start every week. Marvellous player. Lovely to watch.
— 1886 (@1886_blog) November 27, 2016
In my opinion I would agree with the general consensus on Twitter that Xhaka is an important part of the starting XI and he should certainly start in the absence of Santi Cazorla. Even when Cazorla is out I think Xhaka is the best all round central midfielder that we have at the club and his physical attributes make him an important part of the line-up.
Arsenal were in Champions League action on Wednesday night as they looked to guarantee a top place finish in their group.
It wasn’t the case, but it was an entertaining game. The night got off to a very poor start when Edinson Cavani converted Matuidi’s cross just 18 minutes in. But the home sides fortunes quickly changed. A penalty on the stroke of half time and then an own goal after 59 minutes saw Arsenal flip the game on its head to take a lead. However a mistake from Iwobi and Jenkinson allowed Lucas to head in a late equaliser for the away side, meaning that PSG are all but certain to win the group.
Arsenal were far from their best on Wednesday night but one player who really caught the eye on the night was Aaron Ramsey. The Welshman is like Marmite to Arsenal fans but few can deny that he had a great game playing in his favoured central role.
Starting the game alongside Francis Coquelin, the fit again midfielder excelled playing in a deeper role, making tackle after tackle and proving to be much neater in possession than he has been of late.
Ramsey impressed defensively with 6 tackles and 2 interceptions, more than any other Arsenal player in both departments. His passes was neat with 87% successful, though he would’ve hoped to make more chances with his passes, with no key passes completed in the 90. He did manage to complete 3 dribbles, moving the ball between the lines with some good movement. More than anything Ramsey used his energy to get up and down the pitch all throughout the night. He made 68 passes which was more than any other Arsenal player and this just helps highlight his energy and how much he looks to get involved.
Here’s some of the reaction to his performance on Twitter. 90% of the reaction was positive.
Thought Ramsey had a quality game tonight. Can't deal with people who refuse to see it (inc. my dad🙄)
— AR8 (@BeccaRamseyAFC) November 23, 2016
Sanchez and ramsey were best players for arsenal tonight….. 😝
— ⚽ShubhaMESUT 🙌💀😋 (@RamzyEra) November 23, 2016
Aaron Ramsey is bloody brilliant. Francis Coquelin is insufferable trash.
Here ends today's lesson
— Sam Lloyd (@Sam_Lloyd14) November 23, 2016
Ramsey's influence is massive. Just play Xhaka next to him please. https://t.co/M6sPSQZH3D
— #FreeXhaka (@afcjonathan) November 23, 2016
Lessons from today. Our 2nd string FBs are awful, Ramsey is good in cmid, Iwobi is off it, Sanchez can't play unless he's 100%
— Marcus W (@Marcusw224) November 23, 2016
Arsene Wenger now needs to find his best midfield partnership. I would like to see how a midfield of Xhaka and Ramsey would do. I think the players complement each other and with Santi Cazorla out, that duo would, in my opinion, form the best possible midfield partnership we can get. Coquelin and Elneny are good squad players, but not better than Ramsey and Xhaka in central midfield. I think that that pairing at least deserve a chance to play alongside eachother. Ramsey has the box-to-box energy and ability, whilst Xhaka is a dictator on the ball and would provide a calming presence alongside the erratic Ramsey.
Here are the Player Ratings for Arsenal’s 2-2 draw at home to PSG.
David Ospina – 6
Coming in as usual for the Champions League, Ospina could do very little about Cavani’s opener. Didn’t really have much to do throughout the game as although PSG had a lot of the ball, he was rarely tested. Has nothing really to be rated on.
Carl Jenkinson – 5
Jenkinson looked a little out of his depth in truth. His crossing was constantly rash and his control and movement wasn’t much better. Fair play to him though he did put a decent delivery in for Verratti’s own goal. Lost his man for Lucas’ headed equaliser. Was subbed off for the Ox with 10 to go.
Skhodran Mustafi – 6
Lost Matuidi for the opener and then didn’t have the pace to get back on him. Not his best game in an Arsenal shirt by any stretch.
Laurent Koscielny – 6
Couldn’t do much for Cavani’s goal, but was caught in possession after 52 minutes, giving the ball away and proceeding to foul – it could’ve been fatal as Lucas’ resulting free kick hit the bar with Ospina nowhere near it.
Kieran Gibbs – 6
He’s in a personal battle with Nacho Monreal for the left back spot and although he hasn’t been a regular, he looked natural, albeit far from spectacular, in the Arsenal back four.
Francis Coquelin – 5
Coquelin was not at the races. Many wanted to see Xhaka start and I think it would have been better. Coq got a yellow card in the first half with a silly foul and his passing blunted Arsenal’s attack before it could even start. In the 2nd he was hampered by his yellow and didn’t do much – subbed off with 10 to go.
Aaron Ramsey – 8.5
Starting in his favoured central role, Ramsey was very strong in the tackle and looked keen to impress from the off. Arsenal’s best player in the 1st half without a doubt. He certainly showed that he is more natural playing in the middle.
Mesut Ozil – 7.5
Ran around a lot in the first half but to no avail. A great disguised ball to Alexis Sanchez for the penalty. He helped Arsenal retain the ball in the PSG half very well – using his small frame well to hold off the tough PSG midfielders.
Alexis Sanchez – 8
Quiet first half until the very end when his good run was found by Ozil and then a good quick turn saw him brought down to win a penalty. His carving pass opened up PSG for Verratti’s own goal and he deserves credit for that also. Looked fit enough and worked hard to create chances all night.
Alex Iwobi – 4
He looks tired even though he’s had a lot of rest recently. Was certainly one of the most anonymous players on the pitch on the night. To top off his bad night he headed the ball into his own net just before getting subbed off.
Olivier Giroud – 6
Wanted to get into the starting line up and probably deserved to following a couple of goals from the bench recently, but in the early stages he was poor and laboured. Got his one chance on the edge of half time from the penalty spot and credit to him, he converted calmly.
Granit Xhaka – N/A
Theo Walcott – N/A
On for Coquelin with 10 minutes to go in an attempt to get all 3 points, did he touch the ball?
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – N/A
Like at Old Trafford, the Ox came on at right back with 10 to go to try and win the game, couldn’t have any effect.