Tag Archives: Arsenal

Analysis: Would Turan be a good replacement for Ozil at Arsenal

Arsenal are bracing themselves for the possibility of losing Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez this summer, as the pair enter the final 12 months of their current contracts, but The Times reports the Gunners have a plan in the form of Arda Turan.

30-year-old Turkish international Turan hasn’t quite had things go his way since switching Atletico Madrid for Barcelona two-years ago, in a deal worth £26m, and the restructure this summer that will follow Luis Enrique’s departure is likely to leave Turan edging towards an exit.

Arsenal are keen on his services, for a fee said to be around £25m, but replacing World Cup winner Mesut Ozil is certainly not an easy task- so we’ve crunched the numbers to assess whether he’d be an adequate recruit.

How do they compare?

Using statistics from Squawka, Mesut Ozil and Arda Turan are comparable on the passing front but the German ace has the edge in an attacking sense; creating 59 chances compared to Turan’s 27 and 55 key passes compared to Turan’s 24.

In the Champions League, Turan again falls behind Ozil in comparison- particularly in chances created and assists, where Ozil has 14 and three respectively compared to Turan’s 3 and 1. That said, Ozil has played 626 minutes of European football whereas Turan has just 175.

Both boast a pass completion percentage of 87% but Ozil again has the edge in terms of assists, securing four in the Premier League this season whilst Turan has three in La Liga. In the Champions League, Turan equals Ozil’s four goals but the Turkish ace’s have come from just seven shots- giving him a superior shot accuracy of 86%.

In front of goal, stats show Ozil once again has the edge over Turan with five Premier League goals, 33 shots and 50% shot accuracy- compared to the three goals, 12 shots and 44% accuracy that Arda Turan has.

Who are the alternatives?

If Arsenal look to promote from within to fill the void left by a potential exit for Ozil, then the likely candidates are Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Alex Iwobi. Statistically though, they’re again short of the German.

Squawka stats show Ozil has the advantage over Arsenal’s other trio in all areas bar two- with Aaron Ramsey boasting a slightly better 89% pass completion over Ozil’s 87%, whilst Alex Iwobi has one taken one more shot in the Premier League (44).

Therefore, it’s clear Arsenal should look to bring someone in to fill the void Ozil would leave but finding the right replacement will certainly not be easy and could prove to be expensive. Whilst Turan is an affordable option, they would lack the benefits that Ozil provides.

5 Arsenal Players Severely Underperforming Because Of Wenger

Arsenal have been severely underperforming in recent months, and there’s several players that Arsene Wenger is failing to get the best out of. Here’s five that are particularly struggling under the Frenchman’s guidance.

1 – Mesut Ozil

Wenger built the formation around Mesut Ozil, giving him the number 10 role he knows and loves, but the Arsenal manager has not supplemented Ozil with the right teammates in order to get the best out of him. Ozil is often frozen out of games, and that is not due to the German playing poorly, it is often due to players like Coquelin being selected in central midfield, this stops Ozil from getting on the ball and restricts his influence.

Manchester United Fans Tease Arsenal Supporters On Social Media

In an unofficial mission that’s taken four months and 19 days to complete, Manchester United has finally moved out of 6th place in the Premier League table with a 3-1 win away to Middlesbrough. It only took José Mourinho’s men an 18-game unbeaten run to do so, too!

The Red Devils travelled to the Riverside in knowledge that a win would be all that was required of them to surpass Arsenal in 5th place, after the Gunners succumbed to a 3-1 defeat away to West Bromwich Albion in Saturday’s early kick-off.

Mourinho rang the changes against the relegation-bound outfit, currently without a manager, and raced to a 2-0 lead in the second half after a routine headed goal by Marouane Fellaini in the first period and Jesse Lingard’s long-range arrow into the top corner following the interval.

Man United were made to sweat for their goods, as Rudy Gestede’s late strike offered hope of a Middlesbrough revival, but a late howler from Victor Valdes paved way for Antonio Valencia to walk his way into the goal and propel the visitors up the table.

After an uninspired start to the season that compiled results such as a 3-1 loss to Watford at Vicarage Road and the 4-0 demolition at Stamford Bridge at the hands of Chelsea, United have had to grind their way into a position of greater power.

Along the way, the club’s renewed relationship with 6th place, week after week, had become a gimmick within the footballing world, even in their best form.

Today’s triumph sees them move forward in the table at last, whereas United fans across the globe will be glad to finally brush the joke off from their shoulder.

To make the occasion even sweeter for them, it’s bitter rivals Arsenal, currently in torrid form before a timely international break, who will now have to bear the flak.

Social media, as always, was awash with armoury to throw at the situation.

Attentions at Old Trafford will now undoubtedly switch to breaking into the top four, with United sitting just three points behind Liverpool with a game in hand, prior to their clash against Manchester City.

United’s remaining games do still see them take on the likes of Arsenal, Man City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton before the season’s conclusion, which could be the ideal way to move up the table, but one that’s evidently easier said than done.

‘Best In The PL’ Liverpool Fans Hail Midfielder’s Performance In Win Over Arsenal

Liverpool moved up into the top four after bouncing back from defeat at the King Power Stadium against Leicester last Monday, beating Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal 3-1 at Anfield.

Wenger will face much criticism post-game for his decision to leave key man Alexis Sanchez on the bench. The Chilean was brought on at half-time, and provided an assist as the Gunners searched for something to take back to North London.

Liverpool started the quicker of the two, and they were rewarded with an early goal. Roberto Firmino was left free at the back post, and despite the best efforts of Hector Bellerin, managed to fire the ball into the back of the net to send Liverpool 1-0 up inside nine minutes.

It got better for the Reds as they went into half-time two goals to the good. Sadio Mane found some space in the box, and was picked out by Firmino before drilling the ball into the back of the Arsenal net.

Arsene Wenger had to do something at half-time, and he responded by sending on Sanchez. He had a positive effect on proceedings from an Arsenal point of view, as he always does, and was highly influential in Arsenal’s goal. He threaded the ball through to Danny Welbeck, who finished well to put the visitors back into the game.

Arsenal searched for an equaliser late on, and Liverpool pounced in added time when they got the chance. Adam Lallana picked out Divock Origi with a lovely pass, who squared the ball to Georginio Wijnaldum, who was able to come up with the finish to hand Liverpool at three points.

One player that stood out from a Liverpool point of view was Adam Lallana. The Englishman worked tirelessly in the midfield, and covered just about every blade of grass on the pitch in what was a stunning performance. Despite winning only 40% of his tackles, he was key to Liverpool’s success, creating one chance and completing two take-ons. Here is how Liverpool fans reacted to Lallana’s display.

Arsenal Reportedly Trying To Sign Chelsea Forward – Should Gunners Take The Risk?

Arsenal are monitoring Chelsea youngster Dominic Solanke’s contract stand-off in a bid to bring him to the Emirates Stadium this summer, according to Football.London.

The 19-year-old looks set to leave Stamford Bridge this summer after failing to agree terms on a new deal with his parent club, Chelsea. Solanke, who is reportedly on around £7,000 a week wanted his wage to be increased to £50,000 to commit to the club, an amount in which Chelsea are not willing to meet.

As the latter stages of the season kicks in and rumours start to pick up pace, a move could certainly be on the cards for the talented striker this summer with Antonio Conte admitting his destination will likely be away from the Blues this summer; “I think he will leave, I am not sure, but I think this is his will.”

Conte suggested he tried speaking to Solanke to understand his decision, but has concluded it is the norm in modern day football. “I have spoken with him to try to understand his decision. It is normal. We must have a great respect for every decision.”

In 2014 Solanke was named England Youth Player of the Year and has continued to blossom in his successful loan spell with Vitesse, scoring seven goals in 25 appearances.

Liverpool have been huge admirers of the England Under-21 international and with the track record in which Jürgen Klopp possesses with young players, would be an ideal signing for the reds this summer. But, according to Football.London, the possibility of switching to the Red side of London has become a real possibility with the Gunners being long-term admirers of the youth prospect.

Chelsea remain reluctant to bulk at the demands of Solanke and will likely sell him on in the summer and look at ready-made talent, with Alvaro Morata linked with a move to Stamford Bridge. But, the question marks arise around potential suitors also matching these needs of the player, especially with the Gunners not being known to splash the cash and not splashing flash on first team player’s contracts.

Solanke is demanding wages of a first team player but hasn’t made an impact since Conte’s arrival, failing to make a single appearance under the former Juventus boss.

Dealings between Arsenal/Chelsea will be a tough ask this summer, for a youth player or senior, rival clubs tend to block moves to one another however large the players are due to having that dominance on one another. But, Solanke may be keen to link up with Arsene Wenger (permitting he stays beyond this season) due to his morals in promoting youth players to the first team.

Football.London suggest Chelsea will be entitles to £8 million in compensation due to rules and regulations surrounding academy trained players. So for either Liverpool or Arsenal to cough up 8+ million pounds and 50,000 in salaries, I think this deal could be a very complicated one.

Solanke primarily plays as a #9 but can operate on either wing and in the #10 role, which highlights his versatile attacking approach which could be used in many ways for different set-ups and tactics. For someone who is just 19-years-old he has great physique and is very strong in possession, using this to have great ball retention too which highlights some of the youngsters qualities, and why he is gaining much attraction from top clubs.

Arsenal could be in the market for a new striker this summer with both Juventus and PSG sniffing around their star ma Alexis Sanchez, but Solanke will certainly not be a priority within the potential targets available. Instead, they must be looking elsewhere for a Edinson Cavani/Paulo Dybala type player to enhance the Gunners progress if they were to lose their Chilean.

The Chelsea youngster is far from the finished article, nor will he walk into the Arsenal starting XI but he would be a good investment if the Gunners pursued their interest. The North Londoners will be reluctant to pay his wage demands but will certainly give him opportunities in domestic cup competitions, something he is yet to experience under Conte.

Player Ratings: Sutton 0-2 Arsenal

Arsenal were far from their best but they managed a professional 2-0 win against non-League Sutton United to move into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. Here’s how their players rated.

David Ospina – 5

Didn’t make a save, but did look nervy when balls were lofted into the box, one particular flap attempt almost ended in disaster. Also passed the ball straight to a Sutton player.

Gabriel – 6

Nothing to do for much of the game, but got forward more than some may have expected, that was a positive and helped Arsenal retain the ball high up the pitch.

Skhodran Mustafi – 7

Thought it was a really strong performance from Mustafi, he was obviously up against much worse players than usual, but he needed to put in a commanding performance after the horror show in Bayern.

Rob Holding – 6.5

Holding was good for the most part, very composed on the ball. His one error was nearly punished, but other than that, another 90 minutes under his belt.

Nacho Monreal – 6

Dropped for Gibbs recently, Monreal had a quiet game – but did what he had to do and picked up an assist for Walcott’s goal.

Granit Xhaka – 7

A good controlling performance from Xhaka, one of the few to stand out for his passing, long and short, helped to keep Arsenal in control of the game. He also picked up an assist for the first goal.

Mohammed Elneny – 5

Off at half time, Elneny picked up an injury in the first half and had a very quiet game before that.

Jeff Rene-Adelaide – 3

Really poor from Jeff and one of the main negatives from the night. He tried too much and was rightly brought down to his level by some strong tackles from Sutton players.

Theo Walcott – 6

Very quiet performance, he managed to get his 100th goal for the club which will be a weight off his shoulders, but he needed to do more really against a lower league side.

Alex Iwobi – 4

Really poor from Iwobi, he has been extremely quiet in recent matches and his struggles continued tonight as he didn’t manage to get to grips with the quick, artificial pitch.

Lucas Perez – 7

Lucas was one of Arsenal’s brightest sparks, working hard offensively and defensively and getting his reward by scoring the opening goal. It may have been a cross, but it was whipped in with conviction and the Spaniard got his reward.

6 Potential Destinations Wenger May Find Himself In Next Season If He Leaves Arsenal

It was the elephant in the room. Having more or less consigned themselves to UEFA Champions League elimination after losing 5-1 to Bayern Munich this Wednesday, many expected Arsène Wenger to utilise his pre-match press conference ahead of their FA Cup tie with Sutton United to lay down the official word on his Arsenal future.

With his Gunners contract up at the end of the season, the under-fire manager prolonged the anticipation until “March or April,” but the Frenchman did allude to a differing scenario from what many had envisioned.

Common predictions pointed towards Wenger’s retirement after what’s so far been a 21-year-reign at Arsenal, potentially moving into the club’s hierarchy to carry out different functions in the same way Sir Alex Ferguson has done at Manchester United, but, staying true to his managerial abilities, the 67-year-old has stated he will continue to be a manager after this season, “with or without Arsenal.”

This had us thinking, just where will we find Mr. Wenger next season?

1. AS Monaco

The first muse of Arsène after joining from penniless Nancy, the Arsenal boss went on to win the Ligue 1 title and the Coupe de France during seven hotly-contested seasons up against Olympique Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain. His time in the principality came to a bitter end, however.

Allegations of bribery around the league tarnished its integrity, as Monaco suffered at the hands of the alleged cheats, and having been eliminated in the Champions League semi-finals to eventual winners AC Milan in 1994, Wenger was given the axe months later after leaving the Monégasque outfit 17th in the league table.

But times are different back in his homeland. Monaco have gone down and returned back to the upper echelons Ligue 1 football, this time led by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev and his ever-impressive coach Leonardo Jardim, currently flying high in first place.

Such has been the success this season that the ex-Sporting and Olympiakos boss is sure to be one of the many names touted at other big clubs this summer, perhaps even at Arsenal as Wenger’s successor, which would open up the prospect for an intriguing switch.

Monaco’s project is unique, dedicated to developing young players with a means to be successful, which could be right up Wenger’s alley in territory he knows so well. Could a return be on the cards?

Well, it could be, except for the French club currently holds close ties with super-agent Jorge Mendes, famous for farming large quantities of his footballing clients (good or bad) to associated clubs, which probably won’t fly under Wenger, whereas it’s also reported that there’s bad blood between the two due to the move that saw Cristiano Ronaldo sign for Manchester United, as opposed to Arsenal, back in 2003.

2. Paris Saint-Germain

From one Ligue 1 title hopeful to another, the Paris Saint-Germain suggestion might sound alien to you given their recent 4-0 demolition of Barcelona on Tuesday, but it’s not impossible.

The Parisians turned to former Sevilla boss and three-time Europa League winner, Unai Emery, to take over Laurent Blanc and steer the PSG project to desired heights. Tuesday’s win takes an important step towards their goal, but the Spaniard’s start to life in France hasn’t quite been as smooth as intended, which won’t be forgotten in times of renewed pressure.

PSG have come unstuck against the likes of EA Guingamp, Toulouse and Montpellier this season, as they trail league leaders Monaco by three points in a title race they were overwhelmingly favourites for to start with.

The use of summer flops, such as Hatem Ben Arfa and Jesé Rodríguez, has been another stick to beat the Basque manager with, but the arrival of Julian Draxler has gone a long way into amending that.

PSG’s form has also improved over the past couple of months, setting them up for a potentially strong finish, but should they falter, let Blanc’s departure after a treble-winning-season serves as a warning to Emery.

In that case, would Wenger, so often associated with move to the French champions in an alternative life, finally make the jump to the capital?

3. Barcelona

There’s always been something about Luis Enrique and the quality of his Barcelona side that hasn’t quite sat right with many Culés.

An ex-player for the Catalans, as well as for bitter rivals Real Madrid, Enrique created waves with Barcelona B when earning promotion to the second tier of Spanish football in 2011, subsequently landing himself a gig with AS Roma the following season.

His time in Italy was far from spectacular, however, and before he knew it, Enrique was back on Spanish shores in command of Celta Vigo, who finished midtable under him in 2014.

It’s this that took him to the Barcelona job, but the 46-year-old silenced fears with a treble in his first season at the Camp Nou, followed by the league and cup double a year later.

All those critics have come flooding right back again, as Barcelona stare in the face of Champions League elimination and battle hard behind Real Madrid for this season’s La Liga title. Could it be that the magic of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez were the only driving force in Enrique’s reign after all?

Here, Wenger might well be a nice fit. The Frenchman has an eye for developing talent, of which Barcelona pride themselves on, whereas expansive football also coexists within both parties’ DNA. Although he’s not a favourite for the job, I wouldn’t overlook a man who’s elevated the careers of players who’ve gone on to fail to replicate such form when pinched by the Catalan giants.

Press the navigation below to view the rest of this article, and 4 more potential destinations for Arsene

Xhaka Starts: The Arsenal Line-Up That Can Defeat Bayern Munich In The Champions League

A huge game for Arsenal on Wednesday. The Gunners once again travel to Munich in hope of upsetting the odds and reaching the quarter-final of the Champions League – something they haven’t managed to do for far too long.

Arsenal are an unpredictable team, but on their day, they are capable of taking on European giants like Munich. Playing the away leg away from home will be a big test for the club – the aim will be to score an away goal and still be in the tie. You get the feeling that pretty much everyone would take, say a 3-2 loss. That would mean a 2-1 home win would be enough to progress on away goals. But Wenger’s aim will be to score and not to lose, that’s the ideal scenario. So what eleven is best for such a tough fixture?

Goalkeeper: David Ospina

The Colombian stopper is set to come back into the side for the Champions League and with Cech in questionable form, it is up to him to prove his worth and prove why he should be number 1. He’s likely to face a big test in this fixture and the Gunners will certainly need him at his best if they are to progress.

Defence: Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal

The back four pretty much picks itself up until left back, where I’d actually opt for Monreal whom has more experience and would be better for this kind of game. Mustafi and Koscielny need to be at their best for Arsenal to stand any chance in this fixure. On the flanks, Bellerin and Monreal must prioritise defence. Coming up against Ribery and Robben, they will be tested to their max – they cannot afford to fail.

Midfield: Mo Elneny, Granit Xhaka, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Arsenal need defensive steel in Elneny, but they also need someone like Xhaka to not only add more defensive ability, but to give the team a platform to build attacks. Coquelin is a very poor distributor of the ball, and I think Arsenal need good players on the ball to stand any chance. Xhaka is brilliant at that, Elneny is also decent and can bring a lot of energy alongside Granit. Elneny’s best performance in an Arsenal shirt was probably against Barcelona at the Nou Camp. He’s just played in an ACON final too, he is capable of playing well in this game. Dubbed the new Xabi Alonso, Xhaka will have to be exactly that if Arsenal are to stand a chance against Bayern Munich in midfield. He will be the freshest person in the Arsenal squad after missing 4 domestic games due to a ban. He simply has to start this game. Chamberlain has impressed recently but he’s played a lot of football and I feel he would leave us too exposed in a game like this in a 2, so I’d play 3 in the middle.

Attack: Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Danny Welbeck

I think Arsenal need to go with Alexis up top, to play on the counter-attack and also put pressure on Bayern Munich from the front. This will enable the team to win the ball back high up the pitch. Alexis can drop deep and attempt to disrupt Bayern from the start of their build-up play. With Welbeck and Lucas out wide, Arsenal would have the perfect platform for a counter attack if Alexis wins the ball back in the middle.

I’d like to see Ozil’ and Welbeck on the wings. Both would set us up to be very dangerous on the counter attack, but both have a lot of energy to ensure they can track back well. I can see Walcott and Iwobi being selected by Arsene, though. Ozil cannot afford to have a free role in this game, but he can be very influential from the right. Arsenal desperately need him to turn up and put in a defensive shift, as well as linking the midfield together.

 

‘He Must Start vs. Bayern’ Arsenal Fans Rave Over Midfielders Performance vs. Hull City

Arsenal needed to win when they hosted Hull City on Saturday evening, and they did just that. 

The goals came via a handball and a penalty, but the Gunners were in control of the game most of the time, although some late pressure from Hull did cause some nerves inside the stadium.

For the most part, the Gunners played well. One player who really impressed though was Oxlade-Chamberlain. He has been (forcefully) moved into a central midfield position, but he has played better than we’ve seen him play all season.

The Ox and Coquelin are not players that help the team dominate possession and that was reflected in the match statistics. Hull had more possession than the home side, which is a rare sight, especially for a team so close to the bottom of the league. However the Ox was efficient in possession and that’s the most important thing.

One of his best attributes is his running between midfield and attack, he completed 5 dribbles against Hull. The Ox completed 86% of his passes, including 4 accurate long balls. Defensively he made 2 tackles and 1 interception, he also used his energy to get back and help the team defend on several occasions.

Here are some of the best tweets about Oxlade-Chamberlain’s performance. The performance was so good the fans are keen to see him play in Munich. 

In my opinion it is great to see The Ox developing in central midfield. He was showing little to no progression on the wing and it is now great to see him settling and improving in a position. Now, Wenger needs to give him the game time to continue that development and realise his colossal potential.

On the face of it, you wouldn’t expect him to be a central midfielder at all. But since moving to that position he has impressed with his passing range and immense amount of energy. He’s taken over Aaron Ramsey’s position and despite a lack of experience there, he has arguably outperformed the Welshman by far.

Pretty Average: All The Arsenal Players Rated Out Of 10 vs. Hull

These are Fresh Football’s ratings for Arsenal’s 2-0 victory at home to Hull City in the Premier League.

Petr Čech – 7

With pressure on the veteran shot-stopper after last week’s debacle at Stamford Bridge, Čech responded with two very good saves from Oumar Niasse attempts to keep the Gunners in control.

Héctor Bellerín – 6.5

A decent display from the young Spaniard, who found himself in goalscoring positions on a couple of occasions, meanwhile also managing Hull’s new boy Kamil Grosicki.

Shkodran Mustafi – 6

A relatively stress-free day for Mustafi, who instead saw Niasse look to initiate attacks from the right-hand side of Hull’s attack.

Laurent Koscielny – 6

Had a lively iteration of Niasse and, at times, Lazar Markovic to deal with too, which the Frenchman did with varied success, as well as being a key figure in Arsenal’s initial construction of play.

Kieran Gibbs – 6

The left back was very good in associative play, a differing threat he holds over current mainstay Nacho Monreal, but there were a few moments in which he struggled to take care of Markovic that will stand as a concern surrounding his bid to start more often for Arsenal.

Francis Coquelin – 6.5

Far better from one of Arsenal’s under-fire figures, picking out carefully plotted tackles to commence counter-attacks in ways few others know how to replicate.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 7

‘The Ox’ demonstrated a real eye for the final ball on occasions, which is sure to strengthen the case made for his transition into the centre of midfield.

Alex Iwobi – 6

Typically pleasing in and around the box, as Arsenal looked to crack down an in-form Hull side.

Mesut Özil – 6

He’ll have seen better days, by his standards, as he appeared to constantly be on the receiving end of an imperfect pass, when it wasn’t him who was providing them himself. Lively, however, which always bodes well going forwards.

Theo Walcott – 5.5

The link-ups in Arsenal’s attack were actively present, but throughout the Gunners’ greatest periods going forwards, Walcott very rarely came into the equation.

Alexis Sanchez – 7

Undoubtedly Arsenal’s key figure throughout the game, Alexis wrapped up his decent showing with both of the North Londoners’ goals to his name.

Subs:

Mohamed Elneny – 6

Tightened the game up alongside Coquelin in the second period, with Wenger sure to be pleased to have the Egyptian back at his disposal.

Lucas Perez – N/A

Danny Welbeck – N/A

Hull City

Eldin Jakupović – 5

The Hull goalkeeper cut a sorry figure in the lead-up to Arsenal’s killer blow in the dying moments of the game, as he recklessly abandoned his goal and basically left San Clucas resigned to blocking Perez’s header with his arm, as Mark Clattenburg pointed to the spot.

Omar Elabdelloui – 4.5

The ex-Olympiakos man never got anywhere near the likes of Iwobi, Alexis and Gibbs.

Andrea Ranocchia – 4.5

Another to suffer at the hands of Arsenal’s mobile attack, with the Gunners unlucky not to convert a couple of chances a lot earlier than Alexis’ controversial opener.

Harry Maguire – 5

A key figure in Hull’s recent renaissance, the ball-playing defender was unable to be as effective as he has been in recent weeks, as the Tigers struggled to get out of their own half for prolonged periods of the game.

Andrew Robertson – 6

Kept Walcott quiet and offered an outlet at the other end.

Tom Huddlestone – 5

Often so crucial to Hull’s game, Huddlestone was unable to get a grip of things in the centre of the park, limiting the away side somewhat.

Sam Clucas – 5

Another who never managed to impact the game from the middle, as a late red card wrapped things up for the playmaker.

Alfred N’Diaye – 6.5

The towering figure of the ex-Villarreal and Sunderland man began to impose himself as the game went on, often providing well-timed passes to the flanks on the break. A good start to his Hull career.

Lazar Markovic – 6.5

Not the best going backwards, but given space, Markovic really did come to life on the counter.

Kamil Grosicki – 5.5

The Poland international promised a lot with his first few involvements, but his impact gradually faded at the expense of Markovic starring.

Oumar Niasse – 6

In good form, the striker might well have added to the hype had it not been for Čech on a couple of occasions.

Subs:

Ahmed Elmohamady – 5

Replacing Ebdellaoui, Elmohamady did at least provid a greater threat down the right flank, but in turn, plenty of gaps were also left behind him.

Evandro – N/A

Adama Diomandé – N/A

Lucas & Welbeck Start, The Likely Arsenal XI to Face Hull On Saturday

Wenger may have one eye on the trip to Bayern Munich in midweek, but the Gunners cannot afford any more hick-ups in the league and 3 points is nothing less than essential. I think both Lucas and Welbeck should have started against Chelsea and should now start against Hull City. I’d also like to see Welbeck play against Bayern Munich, so perhaps he should be limited to a 60-minute stint in this fixture.

Goalkeeper: David Ospina

It’s been a terrible week for him but I’m sure Wenger will keep him in for this fixture, with Ospina coming in for the Champions League game in midweek and probably staying in for the Sutton United game. But I’d like to see Ospina get a run in the team, starting on Saturday.

Defence: Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs

Gibbs needs to come into the line-up as Monreal has been poor, laboured and looked fatigued in recent weeks. Gibbs has been good whenever he has played this season and whilst I believe that the club need a new left back in the summer, I think that for now, Gibbs is the better option, especially for a home game against a lower league side like Hull. Mustafi and Koscielny must continue to play alongside each other to strengthen their bond, that will only improve with more minutes together.

Midfield: Francis Coquelin, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain; Lucas Perez, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez

Coquelin and The Ox were a bit overwhelmed by Chelsea, but I think they have enough about them to deal with Hull City. Coquelin will need to improve his passing range if Arsenal are to create sustained pressure. The Ox will need to be the man to shuttle between midfield and attack, being the extra man in attacking areas, but also assisting defensively. He’s been very good since coming into the centre, so hopefully he can continue to impress. On the wings, I’d move Alexis back to the left to allow Welbeck a chance up front and I’d select Lucas Perez on the right. The Spaniard has really impressed whenever he has played for Arsenal and he deserves a start in this game. Arsenal cannot make the same mistakes that they did against Watford – to ensure this doesn’t happen Wenger must select a team with a dynamic attack, pace and directness, as well as energy and intelligence. I feel a front three consisting of Lucas, Welbeck and Alexis would be perfect for this fixture. Elneny should play against Bayern, and I’d give him 30 minutes in this game to prepare for that. If we need a goal, bring him on for Coquelin, if we are winning, bring him on for the Ox.

Striker: Danny Welbeck

He did so well in the League Cup as a striker and he has looked very dangerous whenever he has been called upon from the bench. Danny is a very talented player and after a few weeks of reintegration, he is now ready to start in the Premier League. Arsenal need him, and his unique style of play will be very welcome to the attack.

‘Pathetic’ Arsenal Fans Demand Key Player Is Dropped After Chelsea Performance

Arsenal succumbed to their 2nd defeat in a week when they traveled to Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon. The Arsenal team were very poor collectively, but one of the players that have been heavily criticised has been Petr Cech.

Playing against his former club, Cech was a calamity and made several errors during the game, the most noticeable and most damaging one being his pass straight to a Cesc Fabregas, who scored and thus ended any chance of an Arsenal revival. 

And these errors were not the first we have seen him make. Although often exempt from criticism from the media due to his glittering career to date, Cech has endured a pretty terrible season to date. This has led to many fans questioning his place in the team, especially with his deputy, David Ospina, performing so well in the cup competitions. 

Cech is close to reaching the end of his career and many feel that now would be a suitable time to call it a day.

Here’s some of the reaction to his performance from Twitter.

Personally I would agree with most of the criticism. He hasn’t been good for us this year at all, and whilst pundits predicted he would win us 10 points a season, it may well end of that he will lose us that amount. I don’t think that based on his form over his time at Arsenal, he can still be considered world class. His reactions have slowed to a quite worrying rate, so much so that I believe it is costing the club points. He’s also terrible at saving penalties, he hasn’t saved one during his time at Arsenal (and he’s faced a lot).

Perhaps his main issue though is his struggle to defend shots at his near post. This is a weakness to Cech’s game that has been spotted by the Arsenal fans, and it seems some strikers are well aware of it too. There’s too many areas of weakness creeping into his game and it’s certainly something that needs addressing at Arsenal in the summer. 

Fans Call For Midfielder To ‘Never Play For Arsenal Again’ After Awful Performance vs. Chelsea

Arsenal put in another limp performance at Stamford Bridge, losing 3-1 to see their title hopes all but ended at the hands of Antonio Conte’s men, who will surely go on to lift the trophy in May. 

Chelsea were not brilliant, but they were ruthless, and Arsenal were a lot worse. The Gunners started the game pretty brightly, but the second Chelsea went ahead through Marcos Alonso, Arsenal fell flat and never really looked like getting anything from the game from that point on. It was an all too familiar performance from Arsenal at the Bridge, and many fans have questioned the manager because of the result.

Whilst the manager certainly can be held accountable, several individuals were extremely poor on the day. The big boys, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil did not turn up, whilst Petr Cech, another senior figure in the squad, was simply horrific. He doesn’t look comfortable passing out from the back and his reactions are worryingly slow.

But a lot of the blame will fall on the shoulders of midfielder Francis Coquelin. With Ramsey, Elneny, Cazorla and Xhaka unavailable, Wenger did have little choice but to select Coquelin, but his performance was truly worrying. Arsenal missed a midfielder that could dictate the play from deep, as Coquelin seriously struggled to get a grip on the game. His individual error saw him fail to stop Eden Hazard in the build-up to Chelsea’s second goal, which killed the game.

Coquelin completed just 82.8% of his passes, completing 0 of his attempted crosses, and 0 through balls. With just 58 passes in total, the Gunners needed someone to take more control of the game in Coquelin’s position. Xhaka would’ve been perfect, and the Gunners desperately need him back.

Defensively he made 0 interceptions – considering he offers pretty much nothing in an attacking sense, it is vital that he does more defensively, especially in big games like this.

Here’s some reaction to Coquelin’s performance from Twitter. 

Personally I think Coquelin is a good squad player, but honestly he is no more than that and deserves no more than that. A team like Arsenal, who try to control games, need a more efficient deep lying playmaker. Coquelin didn’t even do his defensive duties well today. It was a game to forget for him, and pretty much all of the Arsenal eleven. It will be interesting to see how Wenger selects his team for the crucial Champions League trip to Bayern Munich in 10 days time.

Arsenal need a fresh approach, players like Coquelin need to get out of the eleven and perhaps we need a new manager.

 

Did The Gunners Create Their Own Problems In 3-1 Defeat vs. Chelsea?

Everyone knew Chelsea’s reception of the Gunners would be a tricky one for Arsenal to come out victorious from at Stamford Bridge, a ground the north Londoners had tasted success just once since 2011.

Arsène Wenger’s conundrum began to find its form when Granit Xhaka was shown a red card in the hard-earned 2-1 victory at home to Burnley, a dismissal reciprocated by a then furious Arsenal boss en route to the pair grabbing themselves four-game bans.

That might not have meant a great deal with a cup-tie versus Southampton and a supposedly low-risk clash at home to an off-tune Watford side awaiting the title hopefuls, but it did leave Arsenal at a clear disadvantage against Chelsea in the following fixture.

The trip to the St. Mary’s Stadium proved to be a success, as the Saints also chopped and changed in the fourth round of the FA Cup, but the Gunners’ incompatibilities in midfield were clear versus Watford.

Xhaka-less, whereas Mohamed Elneny was representing his country in the Africa Cup of Nations, Wenger turned to an Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin pairing against the Hornets, a duo that was bypassed with ease and dismembered within 20 minutes via the former’s injury, enough time to leave Arsenal 2-0 down already.

This all conditioned the Gunners’ hand at Stamford Bridge, without key components in midfield, now including Ramsey, and with the added woe of apparent knocks being carried by Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain and Coquelin, the pivot that would be backed against the West London outfit.

With a deep-seated crisis in the middle of the park, Arsenal were tasked with defeating the title favourites, of which the luck with injuries has seen the Blues necessitate to extend their starting XI to no more than 13 players – Quite the contrast.

But even under less than favourable circumstances, the Gunners might well have managed to worsen their chances of withholding success against Antonio Conte’s side.

Wenger opted for a relatively untried Chamberlain – Coquelin pivot, both, as mentioned, reportedly carrying knocks, to set up a two vs. two against Nemanja Matic and the ever-impressive N’Golo Kanté.

The results proved to be obvious, as the Chelsea pair, subsidised by the club’s wing backs, took control in the moments before Marcos Alonso’s opener and, later, took advantage of Arsenal’s middlemen’s physical limitations through counter-attacks.

All facts considered, domination by Kanté and co. was predictable, but the north Londoners might well have made their own bed when fielding just the two central midfielders.

With both Chamberlain and Coquelin failing to transport the ball to the likes of Mesut Özil, the midfield pair were contrarily left to fend for themselves defensively due to the German’s tendencies to not track back.

The same scenario has repeated from time-to-time with a tried and tested side, making Arsenal’s 4-2-3-1 look more like a 4-2-4 and highly-susceptible to counter-attacks – a dangerous set-up versus a team of Chelsea’s ilk.

A change many ‘Gooners’ have called for is a transition to a 4-3-3 set-up, pushing Özil into a forward role instead, and it’s a formation that could have been debuted against the Premier League leaders even with limited options.

On the bench sat Ainsley Maitland-Niles, a wide man by trade, but one that has excelled in a central role on more than one occasion. Could the energetic youngster not have added something this Saturday? With Chamberlain and Coquelin supposedly not in peak condition, how could you not turn to an extra body for help?

Today will go down as a missed opportunity for Wenger and his men to have closed the gap on their title rivals, and in Maitland-Niles’ addition they may have discarded their only hope of being disciplined enough to do so.

Ratings: All The Arsenal Players Rated Out Of 10 For Shambolic Performance vs. Chelsea

Here are the Arsenal player ratings for the match against Chelsea.

Petr Cech – 0
The pundits gave him no criticism but he was poor for Alonso’s opener, with a terrible reaction speed once the ball had hit the bar. He made no effort to get up to challenge Alonso and then watched the ball sail past him into the net. The second goal was brilliance from Hazard but Cech went down too early and the third goal was completely his fault. He’s past it.

Hector Bellerin – 5
Should’ve been stronger to challenge Alonso for the opening goal. Injured in the process and subbed off, didn’t have a chance to redeem himself, hence the 5.

Shkodran Mustafi – 6
Was a decent performance from Mustafi. Had a good chance to fire Arsenal back into the game with a header at 2-0, wasted it. Overall his handling of Costa was good.

Laurent Koscielny – 6
Like Mustafi, Koscielny helped nullify the threat of Costa throughout the game but it wasn’t really Costa that caused the problems for the Gunners.

Nacho Monreal – 4
Poor from him again. Arsenal need a new left back, but for now, Kieran Gibbs surely deserves a run in the team. He really cannot do much worse than the Spaniard has in recent weeks.

Francis Coquelin – 2
Shocking. Truly shocking. I’m not his biggest fan but today he reached new lows. Terrible on the ball, constantly caught in possesion and was at fault for both the first and second goal. Xhaka might have some weak points but he is certainly better than this guy.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 6
To be fair to him, he was one of the better Arsenal players on the afternoon. He tried throughout, working hard to attack and defend, and it was good to see a bit of passion from one of the player. More like that are needed if Arsenal are to even finish in the top 4 this season.

Mesut Ozil – 4
So disappointed with him. The German barely showed up again. He was one of Arsenal’s brighter players at times, but that really is not saying much. In the second half he was really really poor.

Alex Iwobi – 4
A good young player, but out of his depth in this game. He’s extremely indecisive and got caught on the ball far too often for someone who was supposed to keep the Arsenal team ticking.

Theo Walcott – 2
Did he even play? A shocking anonymous performance from Walcott once again. It’s too often we are saying things like this about Walcott, his time is up.

Alexis Sanchez – 3
Ran around a lot, but tried too hard and did pretty much nothing offensively to help us. Although he was bright at the start, after Chelsea scored their 1st goal he was barely involved.

Subs

Gabriel – 4
Terrible. Defensively all over the place at right back when he came on and had a great chance to make it 1-1 in the first half, but directed his header right at Courtois.

Olivier Giroud – 6.5
Scored a late consolation

Danny Welbeck – 6.5
A bright spark for Arsenal. He needs to be starting future matches, a big and important player.

Lucas Starts: The Likely Arsenal Line-Up That Will Face Chelsea On Saturday

Arsenal go into Saturday needing all three points to remain in the title race after a disappointing result in midweek against Watford.

Goalkeeper: Petr Cech

Defence: Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs

Bellerin needs to come back into the defence at right back after Gabriel seriously struggled against Watford in midweek. His extra attacking quality will certainly help Arsenal in their quest to break down a resilient Chelsea setup. Mustafi and Koscielny must continue in the heart of the defence and I would select Gibbs at left back. Monreal has not been good this season and Gibbs has, whenever he has been played, performed very well. Wenger should reward the Englishman for this, especially with the Spaniard struggling for form.

Midfielder: Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil, Lucas Perez

I’d like to see Danny Welbeck start this one but I think Wenger will continue to be cautious with him and just utilise him as an option from the bench. Walcott has a good record against Chelsea and Wenger is likely to put him on the right wing after he played just 45 minutes against Watford. Lucas Perez deserves to start based on his recent cameo performances and I really hope that Arsene rewards his fine form with a start in this big fixture. He’s fresh and plays with a lot of passion and desire, that kind of football was missing against Watford and putting him into the team will certainly help revitalise us. Ozil needs to improve on his recent showings in the number 10 role, against two central midfielders he may get more freedom than usual and he needs to capitalise on that and make the difference, rather than go missing.

Striker: Alexis Sanchez

Arsenal played their best football this season when Alexis was playing as a number 9 and with Giroud’s effectiveness fading, I think it is time to revert to having the Chilean through the middle again. He creates space for others and make the Arsenal attack much less predictable. Giroud is a top quality option to have from the bench but Alexis needs to start this game. Especially with attacking wingers in Walcott and Lucas, I think Alexis’ ability to drop deep at times will help Arsenal stretch the Chelsea defence. Ozil needs to make runs beyond Alexis like he was doing at the start of the season, it saw him get on the scoresheet on many occasions and one goal could make all the difference tomorrow.

 

Analysis: How Arsenal Can Beat Chelsea On Saturday Afternoon

Arsenal head to Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon knowing that they must win the game to stand any real chance of winning the title this season. After getting it all wrong against Watford, Wenger needs to be at his tactical best to overcome this Chelsea side.

Chelsea are top of the table for a reason and their 3-4-3 formation has seen them perform exceptionally well. To stand a chance in the title race, Arsenal need to take all three points from the table toppers – doing that would reduce the gap to 6 points.

I think a lot of their success comes from their ability to overload in wide areas and also their defensive structure and organisation. So how can Arsenal line up to counteract this?

Let’s start with Chelsea’s stern defensive shape. Conte has three central defenders, wing backs and in Kante and Matic, two more defensive minded central midfield players. To try and break this down Arsenal need to be at their fluent best, quick attacking football that can put a spanner in Conte’s well-oiled works. Arsene needs to select the right personnel, and whilst Giroud has been in a bit of a purple patch recently, I don’t think he should lead the line. The Gunners need to disrupt Chelsea with a mobile number 9 and attacking wingers. That’s why I’d like to see Alexis or Welbeck through the middle for this game, with the the likes of Walcott, Iwobi and Lucas considered for the wide berths.

Ozil could hold the key in this game. He was terrific in the reverse fixture but Chelsea are a much better side now. He needs to make the difference more often in these big games and if he can get between the lines of Chelsea’s midfield and defence, then I think he could hold the key. Arsenal’s two deepest midfielders are likely to be occupied defensively for much of the game, so Ozil needs to be the man to link the midfield with, what I hope will be a very fluid and dangerous attacking three.

(Fig. 1 – Arsenal on the attack)

See Fig.1 above. With Ozil and Alexis combing between Chelsea’s midfield and defence it will create good opportunities, especially with the two wide forwards making diagonal runs and stretching the Chelsea back three wide. Having such an attacking front three will help create space for Alexis and Ozil to make the difference. Chamberlain, the most defensive red dot in the picture, will need to occupy the two Chelsea central midfielders, with Coquelin further back (off pic) acting as protection from the counter attack. Of course Arsenal will have full backs also attacking (not in pic) to help ensure that Moses / Alonso are not able to simply mark our wide forwards out of the game. To be at their best, Arsenal need to build a team that gets the best out of their best players. Ozil and Alexis are the two best in the team, at least going forward, and I feel this kind of setup would see them both flourish.

My biggest fear is Wenger will opt with Giroud up top and attempt to control the midfield. This Chelsea side haven’t won so many games because they’ve been controlling the midfield, they’ve won games because they have a functioning and efficient lineup. This kind of team would make it much easier for Chelsea to defend against us. Wenger needs to stop this Chelsea side from functioning and not play to its strengths.

Let’s say Alexis leads the line with Lucas on the left and Welbeck / Walcott on the right. Such a positive front three could cause problems in handling the other strength of Chelsea’s, though – their ability to overload in wide areas. This is why Wenger may consider Alexis and Welbeck as the wide players as they both have good defensive work ethic. Walcott has improved this area of his game but I’m still not sure he comes close to Welbeck or Alexis in terms of defensive contribution when that duo are instructed to do so. Lucas has never really had to do this role at Arsenal but he always performs with great desire and stamina and I believe he is capable, and based on others performances, he deserves his chance.

The Arsenal full backs will need help. I expect Bellerin and Monreal to be the two selected (although I’d like to see Gibbs) and whilst both have good defensive qualities, they will need help when coming up against two quick and skillful (for the most part) wide men. For me, I’d have Welbeck on the right, providing he’s now feeling completely fit. On the left I think Iwobi tends to perform well in this type of games and he gives the midfield a bit of balance, so I could see Arsene perhaps opting for him on the left. Monreal is pretty strong defensively but Iwobi, with assistance from Coquelin can help shut out Chelsea’s threat from the right.

(Fig. 2 – Arsenal’s defensive shape)

See Figure 2, Mustafi and Koscielny must try and replicate what they did at the Emirates in the reverse fixture and completely shut Costa out of the game. But with two wide forwards having attacking freedom, their work will be cut out. This is why Arsenal’s defensive shape must be structured. Chamberlain will need to use his stamina to get back and help the full backs, as will Coquelin. Arsenal’s two wide players will also have to ensure that Chelsea’s wing backs do not get much joy. This will leave just Alexis and Ozil out of defensive duties, the perfect duo to lead a counter attack.

The best thing, as an Arsenal fan, is that I’m even having to write this article. Too many times lack of transfers and injury problems have meant that Wenger has gone into huge games like this and not even had a chance to pick players based on tactics, especially in attack. This has made Arsenal very predictable and other teams have been able to set up to counteract their main threats. At the weekend Conte will not be able to guess the Arsenal eleven, especially the front 3. Lucas, Welbeck, Giroud and Alexis are all very different, quality options through the middle. On the wings Wenger could opt for Ramsey (injury permitting), Iwobi, Walcott, Welbeck, Alexis, Chamberlain, Lucas etc.

Arsene knows what Chelsea team he will come up against. If he does his homework and approaches the game with the right mentality and tactics then Arsenal have every chance of taking what would be, a huge three points.

But a lot comes down to the players also. They let the fans down on Tuesday night with another mentally weak performance. The first half was shambolic and their mentality was all wrong. Whilst we perhaps deserved to pick up a point based on our second half showing, it is simply inexcusable to start a game how we did, and it’s not the first time that has happened this season – it needs to change.

Based on what I’ve said in the article above, this is the Arsenal eleven I would like to see up against Chelsea on Saturday afternoon. Obviously, I don’t know the condition of Welbeck and would opt for Walcott on the right if he is anything but 100% fit. You could also put Welbeck or Lucas through the middle and shuffle the others around, but the key for me is that Arsenal have direct wingers, with a mobile number 9.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what team you would like to see against Chelsea. Tweet me at @OliPriceBates to join the discussion.

Ratings: Arsenal 1-2 Watford – All The Players Rated Out Of 10

These are Fresh Football’s ratings for Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat at home to Watford in the Premier League.

Arsenal

Petr Čech – 6

There was little the veteran could have done to have prevented Watford sinking two goals past him, whereas he stood up to be counted on a couple more occasions that the visitors threatened Arsenal’s goal.

Gabriel Paulista – 5.5

The Brazilian will take his slice of the blame for Watford’s second goal after a miscalculated throw-in to Aaron Ramsey, but the Brazilian did improve in the second period.

Shkodran Mustafi – 5.5

The German’s infamous invincibility record in an Arsenal shirt finally came to an end, with him cutting a sorry figure in the lead-up to Troy Deeney’s goal.

Laurent Koscielny – 6

Somewhat powerless in both Watford strikes, whereas he was often the man Arsenal were reduced to looking for when building from the back effectively.

Nacho Monreal – 6.5

Put on a decent tussle with Watford’s Daryl Janmaat on the flank, proving to be far from culpable in a night of disappointment for the Gunners.

Francis Coquelin – 4.5

Not a game the Frenchman will want to look back on in a hurry. He was dominated by Watford’s presence in the centre, meanwhile struggling in possession, so much so that Arsenal took the gamble midway through the second period to make do without him.

Aaron Ramsey – 4

Summing up Arsenal’s start to the game, Ramsey deflected Younes Kaboul’s free-kick into his own net prior to giving up possession in the lead-up to Deeney’s goal. Visibly incompatible next to Coquelin, Ramsey’s night was concluded with an injury. Royal Ascot 2017 is on its way, hopefully you’ll have more luck their than Arsenal do with injuries.

Alex Iwobi – 7

Starting on the right, before being switched out onto the left and ending up in a central pairing, it was Iwobi’s goal that offered Arsenal hope in the second half. The Nigerian gradually lost his handle on the game, however, in a makeshift coupling with Chamberlain.

Mesut Özil – 6

Involved in some eye-opening Arsenal moves, the German just didn’t see enough of the ball in habitual areas throughout particular periods of the game, largely down to the Gunners’ inability to play out from the back effectively.

Alexis Sanchez – 6.5

The Chilean forced Arsenal’s issue hard, of which Iwobi benefitted from when pulling the game back to 2-1, but it was a largely unsuccessful display by the forward.

Olivier Giroud – 5.5

If Özil didn’t see enough of the ball, you can imagine the count on Giroud’s imprint on the game. The Frenchman didn’t return for the second half, as the Gunners turned to Theo Walcott.

Subs:

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 6.5

The Englishman, after a big performance against Southampton on Saturday, demonstrated Arséne Wenger may have been wrong to overlook him in a central role prior to replacing the injured Ramsey. Despite helping regain some form of control, ‘The Ox’ picked up a knock during the second half and saw his impact shrink.

Theo Walcott – 5.5

On for Giroud as the game resumed, Walcott stretched Watford’s defence and threatened to turn the tables in Arsenal’s favour, but spurned a few good opportunities to do so.

Lucas Perez – 6

The substitution itself, replacing Coquelin, may not have been timed to perfection, as Chamberlain’s knock shortly after saw Arsenal lose their grip on a chase to equalise, but the Spaniard came agonisingly close to doing so with a shot thundering off the bar.

Watford

Heurelho Gomes – 7

The Brazilian shot-stopper made a handful of good saves against the likes of Iwobi and Walcott, crucial on a night like tonight.

Craig Cathcart – 5.5

The defender had a fairly serene first period, but with Iwobi on his case in the second half, he almost crumbled.

Younes Kaboul – 6.5

With an important, yet fortuitous goal to his name, Kaboul completed his night with a reasonably solid performance at the other end.

Sebastian Prödl – 6.5

Assisted Kaboul in keeping Giroud under wraps, and meanwhile the defensive pair came close to unravelling in the second half, the Austrian kept composed in moments of intense pressure.

Miguel Britos – 5

Theo Walcott caused the Uruguayan all sorts of issues, whereas the ex-Napoli man caused his own problems on occasions with indecisiveness inside the box.

Daryl Janmaat – 6

Put in a shift on the right flank, backing up both attacking and defensive phases.

Valon Behrami – 6.5

Anchoring the midfield, Behrami aided the early midfield domination through habitual aggressiveness.

Tom Cleverley – 7

Typically good at going box-to-box en route to a solid first half performance.

Etienne Capoue – 7.5

Watford’s key man on the night, proving to be a big player in the middle and the chief creator of the visitors’ eventual killer blow in the game.

Mbaye Niang – 6.5

A decent debut that saw the ex-A.C. Milan forward tire heavily towards the end, but his potential partnership with Deeney looks promising.

Troy Deeney – 7.5

Another key performer in Watford’s night of success at the Emirates Stadium, scoring their second of the night and working tirelessly towards victory.

Subs:

Abdoulaye Doucoure – 6

A smart change by Watford, as the Frenchman re-energised their midfield and took the sting out of Arsenal’s suffocating resurrection.

Isaac Success – 5.5

On to freshen up the flanks and add bite to any potential Watford counter-attack, but that chance never came.

6 Changes, Ox In The Middle: The Likely Arsenal Line-Up To Face Watford

Arsene Wenger has some tough decisions to make for his team selection for the Premier League game against Watford on Tuesday night. 

The Gunners had heavily rotated the team against Southampton in the FA Cup but that team performed really well and Wenger may want to keep some of that team together to enable smoother momentum. With a big game against Chelsea coming up at the weekend, Wenger has to ensure he picks the perfect team for this fixture.

Goalkeeper: Petr Cech

Big Pete will be back between the sticks for this fixture.

Defence: Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs

Bellerin, Mustafi and Gibbs should keep their places in the team, with the rested Koscielny coming in for Holding, who had a solid game at Southampton. Gibbs, for me, is on better form than Monreal of late and deserves some more game time. If he is playing better than Monreal then surely, at his age, he deserves to be starting in the Premier League and not just cup competitions.

Midfield: Francis Coquelin, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain; Lucas Perez, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez

Lucas deserves to stay in the line up after a top quality performance vs. Southampton. I think Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi will be used on the wing in the ‘bigger’ games, so this would be a good chance for Lucas to get more minutes under his belt. The Ox was incredibly impressive in the centre against Southampton and he is unlikely to get a chance there against the likes of Chelsea, Bayern and Liverpool – so why not give him more game time to develop in this game. Alongside him I expect Francis Coquelin to come in, the Frenchman is the only midfield anchor available with Granit Xhaka suspended and Mohammed Elneny still away on international duty. Alexis and Ozil were both left out of the line up at St. Mary’s and should be fresh and ready to make the difference tomorrow.

Striker: Olivier Giroud

His last game was far from his finest, but the Frenchman was rested in the FA Cup and will come back into this game fresh and keen to prove a point. If he doesn’t perform well in this fixture then I can see him being dropped for the trip to Chelsea, where Alexis Sanchez could lead the line. Danny Welbeck is also an option, he proved his ability against Southampton but is unlikely to start two games in 4 days considering the amount of time he has spent on the sidelines.

Player Ratings: Southampton 0-5 Arsenal – Rotated Arsenal Midfield Excels

These are Fresh Football’s player ratings for Arsenal’s 5-0 victory away to Southampton in Saturday night’s fourth round tie of the FA Cup:

Southampton

Harry Lewis – 5

A little helpless up against Arsenal’s attacking force, but the young goalkeeper won’t be satisfied with himself after a portion of the goals he conceded.

Cuco Martina – 5.5

Produced a quality opportunity for Shane Long to pull a goal back for Southampton, but, moreover, struggled with the inspired Danny Welbeck on the night.

Florian Gardos – 5

Back after a lengthy spell on the sidelines, the defender had his work cut out against the pace and creativity of Welbeck, Lucas Perez and Theo Walcott.

Jack Stephens – 5

Much like Gardos, Stephens always looked second best against Arsenal’s on-song attack.

Sam McQueen – 5.5

Sam McQueen was another who struggled greatly with the pace of the Gunners’ attacking transitions, with Walcott and Hector Bellerin both marauding down his flank.

Pierre-Emile Højbjerg – 6

Perhaps Southampton’s best on the night, despite struggling to place his stamp on the game, but the former Bayern Munich hotshot did threaten Arsenal’s goal on occasions.

Harrison Reed – 5

The Southampton academy graduate was totally dominated and ineffectual versus his midfield counterparts.

Jordy Clasie – 5

Along with Reed, the ex-Feyenoord star looked dwarfed versus a newly-constructed Arsenal midfield, which will stand as a great disappointment to Claude Puel’s side given the vast first-team experience the 25-year-old has to his name.

Josh Sims – 6

The 19-year-old was in and around a handful of Southampton attacking phases, but lacked a bit of finesse when called upon.

Lloyd Isgrove – 5

The wide man looked lively in pressing and causing the Arsenal defence into decisions, but didn’t see enough of the ball to make a noteworthy impact.

Shane Long – 5.5

Feeding off scraps, Long was reduced to just one half-chance versus David Ospina, which was dealt with by the Colombia international.

Subs:

Dusan Tadic – 5

The Saints turned to one of their key performers to salvage something from the game in the 64th minute, but the tide was too much for the Serbian to overcome.

Nathan Redmond – 5

Another who Puel had hoped for inspiration, as his side sunk to a 5-0 defeat.

Arsenal

David Ospina – 5.5

The erratic goalkeeper offered a few scares and miscalculations, but with a clean sheet to his name, it’s one to brush off for the moment.

Hector Bellerin – 6

The Spaniard wasn’t short of opportunities to lay down the marker on the flanks, but lacked that final pass on the night.

Shkodran Mustafi – 7

The leader in the heart of defence, Mustafi dealt with much of the defensive confusion which, at times, threatened to blemish a standout performance by the collective.

Rob Holding – 6.5

Covering for Laurent Koscielny, Holding did well against Long and co. throughout the game.

Kieran Gibbs – 6

Solid, but unspectacular stuff from the Arsenal full back, considering the Gunners’ dominance.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 8.5

Often deployed on the flanks, Wenger trusted the young prospect in the defensive midfield position this time around and his versatility didn’t disappoint, eating up possession alongside Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 9

A lot has been made of Chamberlain’s potential transition into the centre of midfield over the years, and versus his ex-club the Englishman was given the chance to showcase his capabilities. Arsenal fans will now be keen to see more of the explosive star after a man of the match performance.

Jeff Reine-Adelaide – 7.5

Another future prospect thrown into the XI by Wenger, excelling in and around the Southampton area with his playmaking prowess.

Theo Walcott – 8

In the correct place at the right time, as Walcott walked away from his old home with a hat-trick.

Danny Welbeck – 8.5

In his first start of the season, Welbeck took much of the plaudits with a breath-taking first-half performance, topped with two goals and an assist, before making way for Alexis Sanchez in the second period.

Lucas Perez – 7.5

The Spaniard looked typically impressive in combination with Arsenal’s attacking components, with only a goal for the striker evading his great showing.

Subs:

Alexis Sanchez – 7

Came into the game hungry and landed himself two assists in the process, after little more than 25 minutes on the pitch.

Alex Iwobi – N/A

Player Ratings: Arsenal 2-1 Burnley – Ozil MOTM As Arsenal Grab Win

These are the Fresh Football player ratings for the Arsenal players performances against Burnley.

Petr Cech – 7

Big Pete had a decent game in general. Although he didn’t have a lot to do, he was commanding and made the saves you would expect him to make. He didn’t save the penalty though, of course. 

Gabriel – 6.5

Keeping his place at right back Gabriel had to show more going forward than he will have been used too. Overall he put in a decent performance and his aerial prowess certainly helped us. 

Skhodran Mustafi – 7.5

First goal for Arsenal! The German will certainly be pleased to get off the mark on that front and he deserved it, putting in a quality defensive display to help nullify the minimal attacking threat from Burnley. Back to his best. 

Laurent Koscielny – 7

A good performance from Koscielny, though, like Mustafi, he was relatively untested. Was given the job of handling Gray’s pace on the break and did just that. 

Nacho Monreal – 6

Very quiet game from the Spaniard. I would’ve liked to have seen more of an attacking threat from him in a fixture like this, but he instead allowed Alexis more of a free roam going forward. 

Granit Xhaka – 6

If it wasn’t for that stupid lunge, Xhaka would certainly have a higher rating. Based on his first 60 minutes he was brilliant, dictating the midfield and starting nearly every Arsenal attack. Bizarrely he appeared composed today, right up until the incident that saw him get sent off. Two similar challenges have seen him receive red cards and he needs to eradicate that part of his game. 

Aaron Ramsey – 7

I thought Ramsey had a good game in the centre of midfield. As usual he wasn’t pretty in possession, or particularly neat or tidy, but he played the box to box role well. Certainly needs to work on his end product, though. 

Alex Iwobi – 6

Iwobi was given the start in this fixture after a brilliant performance vs. Swansea, but he was a lot less influential today. In the end he made way for Coquelin as Wenger looked to hold on to a 1-0 lead. He’ll need to do more in the future to keep him place, especially with Theo now back in the mix. 

Mesut Ozil – 8

Arsenal’s best player. Ozil was influential throughout and got an assist for Mustafi’s opener. He created many good chances, though he could’ve perhaps done better his a few shots of his own. Ozil has had a couple of good games in a row now and it looks as if he is back to his best. 

Alexis Sanchez – 7

He wasn’t at it today but still produced the goods with a cool as you paneka penalty right at the end. 

Olivier Giroud – 5

Probably his worst performance of the season. The Frenchman had all the right intentions but it just wasn’t happening for him today. Can be forgiven considering his recent form. 

Subs

Francis Coquelin – 5

Came on after Xhaka’s red to see the game out, instead he was just as stupid and game away a late penalty. Luckily Alexis got him out of jail.

Danny Welbeck – N/A

Hector Bellerin – N/A

Lucas Starts: The Likely Arsenal XI To Face Burnley On Sunday

Arsenal will host Burnley on Sunday as they look to make up ground on the Premier League top two. The Gunners will welcome a Sean Dyche side that has the worst away record in the league, picking up just one point on their travels in the Premier League this season.

Arsene and the players should not be complacent though as we know what Burnley are capable of from their brilliant home form. Wenger can, however, rotate his side a little to give a few players who don’t normally start, a chance to impress. With big games set to come thick and fast after this one, Wenger needs to ensure he doesn’t ask too much of some players.

Goalkeeper: Petr Cech

Big Pete is almost certain to retain his spot between the sticks. He had a good game against Swansea and will be targetting another clean sheet this week ahead of some trickier

Defender: Gabriel, Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal

Bellerin is back in full training but I would like to see him eased back into action because he is so important to this team. Gabriel is doing a decent job deputising so he can continue for this fixture. Mustafi and Koscielny must continue to play alongside each other to strengthen their partnership. Gibbs, like Bellerin, is only just returning to full fitness so he should not be risked in this fixture.

Midfield: Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey; Lucas Perez, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez

Coquelin is back, but like Bellerin I’d keep him on the bench. There’s no need for him in this game as Arsenal are likely to be doing a lot of attacking, so Ramsey’s runs from deep will be useful, as will Xhaka’s quality passing range. It would be needless to play Coquelin in this fixture and he should instead return in the FA Cup next weekend. My big inclusion would be to play Lucas Perez on the right-hand side. The Spaniard is in great form but very rarely gets selected to start the game and I think he deserves it. Iwobi has been in good form over the last couple of games, but it won’t hurt to make this swap and keep the Nigerian midfielder fresh ahead of a long run of tough fixtures. In Lucas, Alexis and Giroud, Arsenal should have enough finishers on the pitch to take all three points.

Striker: Olivier Giroud

Arsenal will need Olivier’s physicality for this fixture as Burnley are likely to sit deep and attempt to frustrate the Gunners. Arsenal may have to resort to sending crosses into the box to the big man in an attempt to break through what has been a resilient Burnley defence this season. He will be hoping to continue his fine goalscoring form and make the difference again for Arsenal as they look to get back in the title race.

3 Players To Put In Your Premier League Fantasy Football Teams This Week

As the scenario gets tighter both at the top and bottom of the Premier League, the margin for error for all 20 clubs hits an all-time low with each coming week, adding greater intrigue to every upcoming matchday.

This week sees Manchester City hope to bounce back from their disarmament at Goodison Park last week when hosting Tottenham Hotspur, whereas José Mourinho’s men roam to the Bet365 Stadium to take on Stoke City.

London duo Arsenal and Chelsea land more ‘favourable’ fixtures at home to Burnley and Hull City, respectively, in addition to Liverpool welcoming Swansea City to Anfield, which has the potential to alter the picture at both ends of the table. Here’s who we’re tipping for success in Fantasy Premier League this week.

  1. Héctor Bellerín
    Club:
    Arsenal
    Position: Defender
    Price: £6.5m

A home game versus Sean Dyche’s Burnley could prove to be a potential banana skin for the Gunners, as they try the utmost to leave the Emirates with at least a point.

Commonly, that could see the Clarets take to the field in a naturally rigid and organised manner, much like they did at Old Trafford and at home to Merseyside pair, Everton and Liverpool, subsequently earning themselves five points from a potential nine.

Burnley’s record away from home, however, isn’t so impressive, earning just one point altogether this season on their travels and scoring a mere three goals in the meantime.

A more conservative approach is sure to invite the likes of Héctor Bellerín further up the field, increasing the potential for defensive goal contributions, meanwhile also heightening the chance for clean sheet bonuses, given the visitors’ poor record on the road.

Premier League Team Of The Week: ft. 3 Everton, 3 Arsenal & 2 Chelsea Players

Here is the Fresh Football Team of the Week for the most recent gameweek (21). We’ve opted for a 4-4-2 formation.
Simon Mignolet – Liverpool
It has not been a regular theme that Mignolet gets praised and included in TOTW after a tough few months for the Liverpool man, but after a sublime performance at Old Trafford he deserved all the plaudits.
 He is now the Reds No.1 and made numerous saves against Manchester United helping his side leave the Red Devil’s with one point.
Seamus Coleman – Everton
Coleman, as always, was fantastic against Manchester City and helped his side get all three points in an  afternoon to remember for Ronald Koeman’s men.
He was superb in all phases of play helping his side both attacking and defensively, the Toffees man managed two blocks, 67% tackles and showed why he is also an outlet going forward creating one chance.
Laurent Koscielny – Arsenal
The Frenchman signed a new contract with the Gunners last week and ended the week in style after an immense performance vs. Swansea.
The impressive Arsenal man managed  100% aerial duels, nine clearances, four interceptions and finished the game in true Arsenal style, with 94% passing.
 The 31-year-old has been one of Arsenals best players for a number of years, and is the true rock in the Arsenal side.
Shkodran Mustafi – Arsenal
Mustafi is yet to taste defeat in the Gunners shirt extending his impressive run to 20 games in total, which is an incredible record to hold.
The Arsenal man was yet again brilliant against Swansea and contributed with five interceptions, two clearances and finished the game with an impressive 88% passing.
Arsene Wenger will be relieved he is back from injury and will hope he stays fit as they look to close the gap at the top of the table.
Marcos Alonso – Chelsea
Well, it is not often a wing-back produces two goals, and is whiskers away from a hat-trick in one game, but that is exactly what Marcos Alonso managed in Chelsea’s win on Saturday.
The Blues star was superb offensively/defensively and was always an outlet going forward, turning out to produce the goods in front of goal in a perfect game for the Spaniard.
Pedro – Chelsea
The Chelsea man has been a revolution this season since a very disappointing opening campaign to life in England last year.
The former La Masia has thrived in Antonio Conte’s new system and was superb for the Blues against Leicester City.
He showcased some skill you will probably not see again this season in the build up to his goal and finished the game with 95% passing accuracy, which is superb.
The Spaniard is enjoying life at the Blues and has certainly played a massive part in the topping the table thus far.
Tom Davies – Everton
Well, what a star Everton have on their hands.
The 18-year-old was superior to most players on the pitch in a very disciplined, mature display against Manchester City.
He scored his first senior goal for the Toffees and completed two take on’s whilst playing the all round midfield role perfectly.
His goal was a thing of beauty, his run, timing, finish, everything was majestic and if Lionel Messi scored it, you’ll watch it for years to come.
Koeman has a thing for talented young players, doesn’t he? and the Dutchman has another gem on his hands.
Ross Barkley – Everton
Despite coming under strong scrutiny in recent months and being dropped by Ronald Koeman, Ross Barkley showed why he is so highly rated against Manchester City in a fine performance.
The English international was influential going forward and created four chances, whilst having that burst from midfield to attack completing four take on’s too.
After helping his side batter the depleted City, he will not be dropped anytime soon.
Alex Iwobi – Arsenal
Alex Iwobi was the most impressive star on show for Arsenal this weeking as they beat Swansea 4-0 away from home.
The 20-year-old was unfortunate not to score himself after his deflected effort was put down as an own goal, but the Nigerian went on to create two chances and finished the game with 89% passing.
Iwobi was running at players at will and was showcasing his fine talents. He is already starting most weeks for the Gunners and will become a future star if he continues to develop at his rapid pace.
Harry Kane – Tottenham
Tottenham Hotspur’s impressive run continued against West Brom after running riot in a 4-0 routine victory on Saturday afternoon.

England international Harry Kane was immense throughout and bagged himself a hat-trick, whilst creating once chance and completing four take on’s.
If Spurs are to push on for the title they’ll be reliant on their prolific goalscorer to keep firing in the goals, and of course staying fit. If he does, then maybe, just maybe Spurs could push for the title.
Andy Carroll – West Ham United
Since his return from injury, Andy Carroll has been a very positive sign in a glum few months for the Hammers, and his impressive form continued on Saturday.
The Hammers beat Crystal Palace 3-0 and Carroll was at the heart of it all, and scored one of the goals of the season in a very solid display.

‘He Was Unplayable’ Arsenal Midfielder Praised After Mesmerising Performance vs. Swansea

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.

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.

Arsenal Fans React On Twitter To ‘Stroppy’ Alexis Sanchez After Swansea Substitution

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.

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.

Iwobi Out, Lucas Starts: Arsenal’s Likely 4-2-3-1 Line Up To Face Swansea

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.

Petr Cech

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.

Olivier Giroud

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.

January Transfer: Why This Bundesliga Ace Is A More Likely Signing For Chelsea Than Arsenal

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.

Arsenal, Man Utd, Everton & Tottenham Spotted Scouting Top Quality German International

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.

‘He Must Be Drunk’ Arsenal Fans Slam This Man Following Out Of Character Display At Bournemouth

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.