Partey Ends Goal Drought As Arsenal Beat Aston Villa

Arsenal's Ghanaian midfielder Thomas Partey celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's first goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium in London on October 22, 2021. Glyn KIRK / AFP
Arsenal’s Ghanaian midfielder Thomas Partey celebrates with teammates after scoring his team’s first goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium in London on October 22, 2021. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Thomas Partey scored his first goal for Arsenal as the Gunners beat Aston Villa 3-1 to extend their unbeaten run in the Premier League to six matches on Friday.

Partey’s first half header broke the Ghana midfielder’s goal drought in his 40th appearance in all competitions since his move from Atletico Madrid 12 months ago.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang bagged Arsenal’s second goal when he converted the rebound after his penalty was saved.

Emile Smith Rowe put the result beyond doubt early in the second half as Arsenal climbed to ninth place in the Premier League.

READ ALSO: Salah Wants To End Career At Liverpool

After losing their first three league games, Arsenal have gradually recovered their equilibrium.

Successive draws against Brighton and Crystal Palace had brought renewed pressure on Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, but this was a tantalising glimpse of what they could be under the Spaniard.

They won’t find many opponents as obliging as Villa, who still looked shell-shocked after conceding three goals in the final 10 minutes to lose 3-2 against Wolves last weekend.

Jacob Ramsey’s late goal was no consolation for a Villa team on a run of three consecutive defeats.

Villa striker Ollie Watkins was fortunate to stay on the pitch after kicking out at Gabriel in the first minute.

That was the only show of defiance from Villa as they were blown away by Arsenal’s sustained assault.

Aubameyang’s audacious overhead kick ran across goal to Bukayo Saka and the winger fired over from a tight angle.

Making his first Premier League start, Arsenal defender Nuno Tavares blasted over from a good position after scything through the Villa defence.

Relentless pressure

Partey stabbed against the crossbar after Villa failed to clear Saka’s free-kick.

Arsenal’s relentless pressure finally paid dividends in the 23rd minute.

Partey rose above the flat-footed John McGinn to meet Smith Rowe’s corner with a flicked header that just evaded Emiliano Martinez’s despairing dive.

Tavares was finding space down the left every time he went forward and his low cross reached Saka, who should have scored but shot straight at Martinez.

Arsenal were rampant and increased their lead on the stroke of half-time.

Matt Targett’s challenge on Alexandre Lacazette was initially ignored by referee Craig Pawson, but after being urged to consult the pitchside monitor, he changed his decision and awarded a penalty.

Arsenal's French striker Alexandre Lacazette celebrates scoring his team's second goal with Arsenal's Ghanaian midfielder Thomas Partey during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium in London on October 18, 2021. Glyn KIRK / AFP
Arsenal’s French striker Alexandre Lacazette celebrates scoring his team’s second goal with Arsenal’s Ghanaian midfielder Thomas Partey during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium in London on October 18, 2021.
Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Villa boss Dean Smith was incensed, although replays showed Targett caught Lacazette just before touching the ball.

Aubameyang’s spot-kick was saved by former Arsenal keeper Martinez, but the Gabon forward was first to the rebound and slotted in his seventh goal this season.

Unable to muster a single shot in the first half, Villa finally tested Arsenal keeper Aaron Ramsdale through Watkins’ strike soon after the interval.

It was a false dawn as Arsenal quickly resumed their dominance.

Villa considered a move for Arsenal’s Smith Rowe when they chased a replacement for Jack Grealish in the close-season.

They were unable to land the young midfielder and he showed what they missed out on with the latest in a growing list of influential displays.

Sprinting onto Aubameyang’s long pass, Smith Rowe drilled a fierce strike that deflected off Tyrone Mings and then the post on its past Martinez in the 56th minute.

Ramsey curled home from the edge of the area with eight minutes left, but the quality of the finish was at odds with the rest of Villa’s lacklustre display.

AFP

Arteta Relishes Pressure To Deliver Success At Arsenal

File photo:  Arsenal’s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta celebrates on the final whistle in the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium in London on September 26, 2021.  Ian KINGTON / IKIMAGES / AFP

 

Mikel Arteta says it is right that every Arsenal defeat should be viewed as a crisis as he targets a fourth straight Premier League win against high-flying Brighton.

The Gunners beat Tottenham 3-1 on Sunday to lift themselves to 10th in the table, one place above their north London rivals.

It marks a dramatic turnaround in fortunes for Arteta’s men, who were rock bottom of the table after three defeats in their first three games.

The Spaniard said he welcomed the intense pressure to deliver as he prepares for Saturday’s trip to the south coast of England.

“I think that feeling is very necessary at a big club because every defeat is a crisis and it should be a crisis, and you have to deal with that pressure,” Arteta said on Thursday.

“If you want to be the best you have to cope with that and realise that excellence is the only way and the only thing that is expected. Anything else isn’t good enough.”

The former Arsenal midfielder and captain said the club had a “great history because we have that competitive edge”.

“We have that mentality as well and that willingness to look further and have that ambition,” he added. “To achieve that you need to be able to deal with that.”

READ ALSOChelsea Lose To Juventus, Records Second Defeat In A Row

Arsenal’s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta (C) celebrates their win in the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium in London on September 26, 2021.  Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Arteta must learn to cope without midfielder Granit Xhaka, who faces up to three months on the sidelines with a knee problem.

Xhaka, accidentally caught by Spurs forward Lucas Moura, could be out until next year, although it is hoped the Swiss midfielder will not need surgery.

“He has already had a couple of incidents this season with Covid and the suspension and now a long-term injury,” Arteta said.

“It is a significant injury, but he probably escaped an even worse injury in that action. He is a strong man and will use this time to focus on other things.”

AFP

Arteta Eyes More ‘Special’ Days After Arsenal Outclassed Tottenham

Arsenal’s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta (C) celebrates their win in the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium in London on September 26, 2021.  Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Mikel Arteta called on Arsenal to consistently match the “special” levels they showed in blowing Tottenham away in the first-half of a 3-1 win on Sunday to move above their north London rivals in the Premier League table.

Just three weeks ago Spurs sat top and Arsenal bottom after their worst start to a league season for 67 years.

However, the Gunners have been rejuvenated by six summer signings and the return to fitness of a number of key players.

Arsenal struck three times in the opening 35 minutes as Emile Smith Rowe opened the floodgates before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang rounded off a brilliant team move and Bukayo Saka rolled home the third.

Son Heung-min pulled a goal back for the visitors 11 minutes from time, but it was too little, too late for Nuno Espirito Santo’s men.

“It’s a special day. Today is one example of what we want to do, but we have to be consistent,” said Arteta.

“This win is for the fans. They were there when we needed their support.”

Arsenal climb to 10th ahead of Spurs on goal difference with both sides on nine points from six games.

However, they are going in opposite directions with Tottenham losing their last three league games by a combined score of 9-1.

“We lost complete control in the first half. We got smashed,” said Spurs captain Hugo Lloris.

“When you concede three goals in each of the last three league games you cannot hide the problems.”

The last time the north London derby took place in front of a full crowd, Unai Emery and Mauricio Pochettino were still in charge of the sides.

Both clubs have had little reason to celebrate in the two years since.

But there are encouraging signs for Arsenal that the decision to invest heavily in youth during the transfer window is beginning to pay off.

The Gunners spent more than any other Premier League club over the summer, investing £150 million in players aged between 21 and 23, despite failing to qualify for European football for the first time in 25 years.

READ ALSO: Football Must Do More To Combat Racism Than The Take Knee – Lukaku

‘Best Day Of My Life’ 


Arsenal’s English midfielder Emile Smith Rowe (R) scores their first goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium in London on September 26, 2021. Ian KINGTON / IKIMAGES / AFP

 

Four of the new faces started with all 11 of the starting line-up either signed in the two years since Arteta was appointed or handed a contract extension in that time.

Saka and Smith Rowe are two of those to have committed their long-term future to the club where they came through the ranks and were the stars of a first 45 minutes that sent the Emirates into raptures.

“It’s probably the best day of my life,” said Smith Rowe.

The England under-21 international was allowed a huge amount of space to amble into the box and slot home Saka’s cross.

The hosts rampaged through Spurs with ease for a brilliant second goal in a move reminiscent of Arsenal’s glory days under Arsene Wenger.

Aaron Ramsdale, Granit Xhaka and Kieran Tierney were all involved before Aubameyang flicked a pass through for Smith Rowe to charge in on the Spurs goal and he had the presence to turn back and pick out his captain for a cool finish.

Arsenal’s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta (C) celebrates their win in the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium in London on September 26, 2021. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Harry Kane’s day was summed up in his part for the third goal as he found himself back in his own box trying to make a tackle only for the ball to break kindly for Saka to sweep the ball past Lloris.

Kane’s frustrating day continued into the second-half as he prodded wide with just Ramsdale to beat before seeing strong appeals for a penalty waived away for a challenge by Ben White.

The England captain is still to score in the Premier League this season after Tottenham refused to relent to Manchester City’s interest.

 


Tottenham Hotspur’s English striker Harry Kane reacts after missing a chance during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium in London on September 26, 2021. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Spurs have only scored four goals in total in their opening six games, but Son has three of them as his shot from Sergio Reguilon’s cross had too much power for Ramsdale.

AFP

Arteta Says Premier League Is ‘Different Planet Now’ As Arsenal, Spurs Struggle

File photo:  Arsenal’s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta speaks to the media after the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on May 2, 2021. LEE SMITH / POOL / AFP

 

Mikel Arteta said the Premier League was a “different planet” now in terms of quality as he tried to explain the decline in fortunes for Arsenal and Tottenham ahead of Sunday’s north London derby.

Meetings between the two rivals have historically had implications for the title race or European qualification but Spurs are currently seventh and Arsenal 13th.

Spurs are playing Europe’s third-tier Europa Conference League just two years after reaching the Champions League final while Arsenal last season failed to qualify for Europe for the first time in 25 years.

With the traditional “top six” of Arsenal, Spurs, Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool challenged by clubs such as Leicester and West Ham, Arteta said England’s top flight is “a different planet now”.

“The Premier League has never been as strong as this,” the Spaniard said on Friday.

“It’s the strongest league in the world in history because of the quality of the teams, the quality and involvement of the organisation, the quality of the coaches and players — it’s never been that strong.”

READ ALSO: Man Utd Crash Out Of League Cup, Spurs, Chelsea And Arsenal Advance

Arsenal's Spanish manager Mikel Arteta reacts during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Arsenal at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on December 19, 2020. Jon Super / POOL / AFP
File photo of Arsenal’s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta. Jon Super / POOL / AFP

 

Arteta, who made 284 Premier League appearances for Everton and Arsenal between 2005 and 2016, believes the higher standards would have been a challenge even for a player of his calibre.

“I wouldn’t be able to play at this level,” he said.

Arsenal are on a three-match winning streak in all competitions after losing their opening three Premier League games — the club’s worst start to a league campaign in 67 years.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s visitors are looking for their first league win at the Emirates Stadium since 2010 and have lost their past two Premier League matches after a strong start.

Arteta has a full squad to call upon after midfielder Granit Xhaka served a three-match suspension for a red card he received in last month’s 5-0 defeat at Manchester City.

AFP

Man Utd Crash Out Of League Cup, Spurs, Chelsea And Arsenal Advance

West Ham United’s Czech midfielder Alex Kral (L) and West Ham United’s English striker Jarrod Bowen (R) closes in on Manchester United’s Swedish defender Victor Lindelof during the English League Cup third round football match between Manchester United and West Ham United at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on September 22, 2021.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester United crashed out of the League Cup as West Ham avenged their painful loss to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side with a 1-0 win at Old Trafford, while Chelsea and Tottenham survived penalty shoot-outs to reach the fourth round on Wednesday.

The Hammers suffered a gut-wrenching 2-1 defeat against United in the Premier League on Sunday when David De Gea saved Mark Noble’s stoppage-time penalty after Jesse Lingard’s late winner.

But David Moyes’ men got a measure of revenge three days later as Manuel Lanzini’s first half goal dumped United out in the third round.

Solskjaer made 11 changes and Moyes opted for 10 alterations, with West Ham’s understudies making the most of their moment in the spotlight.

Ryan Fredericks ghosted past Alex Telles and cut back for Lanzini to sweep past United goalkeeper Dean Henderson in the ninth minute.

That was enough for Moyes to secure a first win over United since they sacked the Scot after less than a season in charge in 2014.

It was also West Ham’s first victory at Old Trafford since 2007.

At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea won 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa.

Much-maligned German forward Timo Werner headed Chelsea into the lead in the 54th minute, finishing off Reece James’ cross for his first goal in 11 games.

With Villa fan Prince William watching from the stands, 19-year-old striker Cameron Archer equalised in the 64th minute with a close-range header from Matty Cash’s cross.

James scored Chelsea’s winning penalty in the shoot-out after Ashley Young and Marvelous Nakamba missed for Villa.

Kane Back On Track 


Tottenham Hotspur’s English striker Harry Kane (R) celebrates scoring his team’s second goal during the English League Cup third round football match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur at the Molineux stadium in Wolverhampton, central England on September 22, 2021. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Harry Kane ended his goal drought as Tottenham boss Nuno Espirito Santo knocked out his former club Wolves 3-2 on penalties after a 2-2 draw at Molineux.

Tanguy Ndombele gave Tottenham a 14th-minute lead when he charged down Conor Coady’s clearance and shot past John Ruddy.

Kane, without a goal in his four previous games, increased Tottenham’s advantage after 23 minutes.

Dele Alli’s perfect pass sent Kane clear and the England captain found the bottom corner.

Leander Dendoncker pulled one back for Wolves seven minutes before the break when he headed in Rayan Ait-Nouri’s corner.

Daniel Podence levelled 13 minutes into the second half from Dendoncker’s pass.

In the shootout, Dendoncker, Ruben Neves and Coady all missed for Wolves.

Arsenal Win


Arsenal’s French striker Alexandre Lacazette (L) celebrates with team mates after he scores his team’s opening goal during the English League Cup third round football match between Arsenal and AFC Wimbledon at the Emirates Stadium in London on September 22, 2021.
JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

 

Arsenal eased to a 3-0 win against third tier AFC Wimbledon at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners, featuring 10 changes from the weekend win at Burnley, went ahead in the 11th minute.

Gabriel Martinelli was fouled by Nesta Guinness-Walker and Alexandre Lacazette slotted home the penalty.

Emile Smith-Rowe doubled the lead in the 77th minute and Eddie Nketiah’s impudent flick wrapped up the win three minutes later.

Ademola Lookman scored his first Leicester goal in a 2-0 win at second tier Millwall.

Lookman, making his maiden Leicester start following his loan move from RB Leipzig, netted five minutes into the second half with a cool strike after Kelechi Iheanacho’s effort was saved by George Long.

Iheanacho got on the scoresheet himself, driving into the roof of the net in the 88th minute.

Brighton manager Graham Potter enjoyed a 2-0 win against his former club Swansea thanks to a first half brace from Aaron Connolly at the Amex Stadium.

AFP

Arteta Hails Odegaard’s Leadership In Arsenal Revival

Arsenal’s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta speaks to the media after the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, northeast England on May 2, 2021.
LEE SMITH / POOL / AFP

 

Mikel Arteta hailed Martin Odegaard’s leadership qualities on Tuesday after the Norway midfielder was instrumental in leading Arsenal’s recovery from a poor start to their Premier League campaign.

Odegaard’s pin-point free-kick handed the Gunners a 1-0 victory at Burnley last weekend as Arsenal responded to losing their first three games in the league with back-to-back wins.

Odegaard, 22, joined Arsenal permanently from Real Madrid in August for £30 million ($41 million) after impressing during a loan spell last season, making 20 appearances in all competitions.

“We are building some leadership in the group,” said Arteta before Wednesday’s tie against third-tier AFC Wimbledon in the third round of the League Cup.

“Martin has this capacity to do that with his talent, taking the ball where others probably refuse to, but as well with his attitude, rhythm and the way he presses.”

Arsenal have also kept two consecutive clean-sheets after conceding nine goals in their three defeats, shutting out Norwich in a 1-0 win at the Emirates before withstanding Burnley’s physicality.

Arteta credited Odegaard — who captains his country — with leading by example.

Reflecting on Arsenal’s defensive work, the Spaniard added: “He is probably the first to do it.

“It was a real commitment and purpose. You can tell when you are really doing it or when you’ve been told to do it. There was a big meaning behind it.”

Arteta is under pressure to deliver after Arsenal finished a disappointing eighth in the Premier League in 2020/21 and endured their worst start to a league campaign in 67 years this season.

Fan discontent had been brewing after the club’s slow start to the season, with boos echoing around the Emirates Stadium after a 2-0 loss to Chelsea.

But Arteta — who had reportedly been given four games to save his job after the last international window — recognised the bond between the players and supporters after the Burnley game.

“There was some connection building. The players have to show that appreciation and gratitude,” Arteta said.

“That only brings more cohesion, more connection and closer relationships — that will strengthen the team for sure.”

AFP

Arsenal Win Again As Liverpool Top Premier League

Arsenal’s Norwegian midfielder Martin Odegaard (2nd R) scores the opening goal with this freekick during the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Arsenal at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on September 18, 2021. (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP)

 

 

Martin Odegaard scored his first goal since his permanent switch to Arsenal on Saturday to further ease the pressure on Mikel Arteta as Sadio Mane helped fire Liverpool to the top of the Premier League.

Defending champions Manchester City dropped two points at home to Southampton after a 0-0 stalemate while struggling Wolves lost their fourth match in five against 10-man Brentford.

Arsenal were rock bottom of the table before last week’s fixtures but wins against Norwich and now Burnley lifted them to the relative comfort of 12th spot before the late kick-off between Aston Villa and Everton.

Odegaard, who signed from Real Madrid last month after spending part of last season at the Emirates on loan, broke the deadlock in the 30th minute, curling home a free-kick to give the visitors a 1-0 lead at Turf Moor.

 

Arsenal’s Norwegian midfielder Martin Odegaard (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Arsenal at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on September 18, 2021. (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP)

 

Arsenal breathed a sigh of relief when VAR overturned a penalty awarded to Burnley in the second half after Matej Vydra tumbled to the turf following a challenge by goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

Liverpool forward Mane continued his eye-catching run against Crystal Palace, netting in his ninth league match in a row against the London side to send Jurgen Klopp’s men top of the table with a 3-0 win.

Mohamed Salah’s glancing header from Konstantinos Tsimikas’ corner was kept out by goalkeeper Vicente Guaita but Mane pounced to lash home his 100th goal for Liverpool in all competitions.

Salah doubled the Reds’ lead in the 78th minute before Naby Keita sealed the win with a sweetly struck volley.

Liverpool, champions in 2020, have made an impressive start to the season, scoring 12 goals in their opening five games and conceding just once.

 

Manchester City’s English midfielder Phil Foden reacts following the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Southampton at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on September 18, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

 

City Drop Points

Manchester City will rue their inability to beat Southampton at the Etihad after consecutive 5-0 home wins.

It could have been worse for them after referee Jon Moss pointed to the spot when Kyle Walker bundled into the back of Adam Armstrong in the area, showing the England international a red card.

But the incident was reviewed by VAR and Moss eventually decided to overturn both decisions.

The build-up to City’s match was dominated by a row over attendance levels at the Etihad, with manager Pep Guardiola urging fans to fill empty seats in comments that irritated some supporters.

But fans were frustrated by battling Southampton, who kept City’s attackers at bay despite relentless pressure.

 

Liverpool’s Senegalese striker Sadio Mane (C) vies with Crystal Palace’s English defender Joel Ward (R) during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on September 18, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

The home side thought they had snatched victory in the dying minutes after goalkeeper Alex McCarthy saved a Phil Foden header and Raheem Sterling tucked in the rebound but the flag was raised.

Watford beat Norwich 3-1 to condemn the newly promoted Canaries to their fifth consecutive defeat.

Watford took the lead in the 17th minute through Emmanuel Dennis but Teemu Pukki equalised before half time. Ismaila Sarr put the visitors back in front in the 63rd minute and scored again with 10 minutes to go.

In the early kick-off, Ivan Toney scored a goal and created another as 10-man Brentford beat Wolves 2-0 to maintain their impressive start to their first Premier League campaign.

The 25-year-old striker won and converted a penalty before setting up Bryan Mbeumo as the Bees prevailed at Molineux despite Shandon Baptiste’s red card in the second half.

Tottenham host Chelsea on Sunday while Cristiano Ronaldo’s Manchester United travel to West Ham.

 

 

Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah removes his shirt as he celebrates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on September 18, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE.

AFP

Arteta Sees Light At The End Of Tunnel For Arsenal

Arsenal’s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta speaks to the media after the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on May 2, 2021. LEE SMITH / POOL / AFP

 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said he sees a bright future for the club despite suffering their worst start to a season for 67 years.

The Gunners climbed off the bottom of the Premier League table with their first goal and first points of the campaign by beating Norwich 1-0 last weekend.

However, Arteta’s position is still under scrutiny ahead of Saturday’s trip to Burnley after spending £150 million ($207 million) on new players during the transfer window.

The Spaniard claimed after beating Norwich he had enjoyed the “best 10 days of his career in this industry” during an international break when his side were rock bottom of the table.

And Arteta was equally optimistic on where Arsenal are headed with all six of his summer signings aged 23 or under.

“I’m telling you I’m very positive most of the time. I’ve seen the light and I can see bright lights,” he said at his pre-match press conference on Thursday.

“There can be bumps in the road within that light, but I can see a lot of light.”

Arteta is also hopeful the criticism his squad suffered after defeats to Brentford, Chelsea and Manchester City will only serve to make them stronger.

“It’s tough because it hurts, because you want to see something different. But what you want is not always what happens,” he added.

“Things happen for a reason and maybe what is happening had to happen and it’s going to be really good for the club and really good for myself and everybody experiencing that situation. We have to believe that.”

AFP

Aubameyang Eases Arteta Pressure As Arsenal Beat Norwich

Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (R) reacts with Arsenal’s English midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles at the final whistle during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Norwich City at the Emirates Stadium in London on September 11, 2021. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

 

 

Arsenal eased the pressure on under-fire manager Mikel Arteta and earned their first Premier League win of the season after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sank Norwich 1-0 on Saturday.

The Gunners captain’s 66th-minute winner released the tension that had been bubbling up inside the Emirates Stadium and lifted his team off the foot of the table.

Arteta — who had reportedly been given four games to save his job after Arsenal’s worst start to a league campaign for 67 years — revealed the international break was among the most instructive periods of his career.

“We had to suffer but I knew to win the game it would be like this. After three defeats things get complicated,” he told the BBC.

“I must say it has been the best 10 or 14 days in my professional career — not the easiest, but the best.

“You learn a lot in difficult moments. In difficult moments when you see the people and the level of organisation and the fans we have,” he added.

“They were ready to suffer today but they just give, give, give to the team. Today and the last week everything glided together.”

Arsenal entered the match bottom of the table, below 19th-placed Norwich by virtue of goals scored after slumping to three back-to-back defeats and scoring no goals before the international break.

A coronavirus outbreak and injuries to key players including Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Martin Odegaard had compounded Arteta’s woes.

A disappointing start to the season came despite being the Premier League’s highest spenders in the summer transfer window, forking out almost £150 million ($208 million).

Arsenal have not competed in the Champions League since 2017 and last season failed to qualify for Europe for the first time since 1996.

Despite that decline, a buoyant atmosphere lifted the home support before kick-off as news of north London rivals Tottenham’s 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace filtered through.

– Debuts for Ramsdale and Tomiyasu –
Fans also gave Arteta a hearty round of applause and there were fresh faces in the starting line-ups as he handed Premier League debuts to goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale and Japan defender Takehiro Tomiyasu.

Aubameyang had Arsenal’s clearest first-half chance when he latched on to Odegaard’s lofted pass in the 20th minute, but Tim Krul parried his effort.

Debutant Tomiyasu almost became an instant fan favourite as his thunderous volley flashed narrowly over and revived the Emirates faithful on the stroke of half-time.

Manchester United loanee Brandon Williams denied Nicolas Pepe a certain goal from point-blank range after the break following Bukayo Saka’s deflected shot.

But Arsenal finally broke their Premier League duck 24 minutes from time in chaotic circumstances.

Pepe saw his effort tipped onto the post by Krul and hit the post again in a rebound tussle with Williams before Aubameyang tucked away the loose ball for his fifth goal in three games against Norwich.

Referee Michael Oliver confirmed the goal to Norwich’s fury after a VAR review, with relieved Arsenal fans ironically chanting “We are staying up”.

Aubameyang, Emile Smith Rowe and Pepe all had chances to put the game to bed but Arsenal held out for a much-needed win.

Norwich Game Is A ‘Must-Win’ For Rock-bottom Arsenal, Says Arteta

Arsenal’s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta speaks to the media after the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on May 2, 2021. LEE SMITH / POOL / AFP

 

Mikel Arteta admitted Arsenal’s Premier League match against Norwich on Saturday is a “must-win” game after their worst start to a league season for 67 years.

The Gunners have failed to score and conceded nine goals in demoralising defeats to Brentford, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Arteta’s position as manager is under increasing threat, with the Spaniard reportedly given four more Premier League games to save his job.

Arsenal’s 5-0 humbling by City last month meant they had lost their first three league matches in a season for the first time since the 1954/55 campaign and to make matters worse, rivals Tottenham are top of the table.

The miserable run of results is despite the fact the club were the biggest spenders in the summer transfer window, splashing around £150 million ($207 million) on new faces.

Arteta said at his pre-match press conference on Thursday that the club were “nowhere near where we want to be” but added that he did not want to offer excuses.

“We know how difficult the start was with injuries, with a lot of Covid issues that we had and extremely difficult games that we had to play,” he said.

“We have to reset now, we need to restart, hopefully get everybody back on track and start to win football games.”

READ ALSO: Arsenal’s Steady Demise Hits Rock Bottom

The former Arsenal midfielder, who was appointed manager at the Emirates in December 2019, was asked whether Saturday’s match was a “must-win” game.

“It always is at Arsenal,” he said. “The pressure is always there to be as high as possible in the league table.

“We need the first win. We are playing in front of our own fans after a disappointing start so it’s down to us to provide everything we have.”

Arteta said the club had undergone a huge change in personnel during his tenure, with 30 incomings and outgoings over the past three transfer windows, but was confident in the club’s policy of signing young players.

“It’s a project that we believe in, that we have to assemble because it was the option we believe was the best for the future of the football club,” said the Arsenal boss.

“We all take responsibility because we’ve all been involved in the decisions and now we have to make it work.

“The complexity in football is that you want to build a medium, long-term project with immediate results and we have to embrace that because there is now no other way in football.”

AFP

Wenger Calls For World Cup Every Two Years

In this file photo, ex-Arsenal French manager Arsene Wenger gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on April 29, 2018.  Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has called for the World Cup to be held every two years in an interview with French sports daily L’Equipe published on Friday. 

The 71-year-old Frenchman, who is now director of development at FIFA, also called for a single annual period of international qualifiers in a global football calendar.

“The principle would be a grouping of qualifiers every year, and at the end of the season a major competition, World Cup or continental championship,” said Wenger.

“Between the two qualifying windows, the player would stay in his club all year round.

“There must be less of a mix in the calendar between the periods of club football and periods of international football, and therefore fewer transcontinental trips for the players, for example.”

READ ALSO: Arsenal’s Steady Demise Hits Rock Bottom

Wenger said he would like to see a single international window, perhaps in October, with fewer qualifying matches.

“For the players, there will be no more matches, and there will be compulsory rest after the final stages, at least 25 days,” said Wenger who sees his proposed new format coming into action in 2028, two years after the 2026 World Cup in North America and Mexico.

“What people want today are high-stakes, easy-to-understand competitions,” he said, insisting there is “no financial intention behind it”.

“It’s a global project, for men’s football, but also for women’s football and youth competitions,” he added.

AFP

Arsenal’s Steady Demise Hits Rock Bottom

Arsenal’s Norwegian midfielder Martin Odegaard (L) vies with Manchester City’s English midfielder Jack Grealish during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on August 28, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

 

Arsenal’s worst start to a league season for 67 years will see the Gunners spend the next fortnight during an international break bottom of the table without a point or even a goal to show from their opening three games.

Mikel Arteta’s position as manager is under increasing pressure with the Spaniard reportedly given four more Premier League games against Norwich, Burnley, Tottenham and Brighton to save his job before the October international break.

To rub salt into Arsenal wounds, for the first time ever they sit bottom of the English top-flight table while north London rivals Spurs are top.

However, their decline has been a slow and steady process since the final years of Arsene Wenger’s 22-year reign in charge and has only accelerated since the Frenchman’s departure.

AFP Sport looks at what has gone wrong for one of English football’s traditional giants.

Shoddy recruitment

Long after Wenger’s great sides of the late 1990s and early 2000s stopped winning league titles, he managed to keep Arsenal as part of the Champions League fabric despite a limited budget to buy players and even selling some of his best as the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Robin Van Persie and Samir Nasri departed.

Despite fan protests towards the club’s American billionaire owner Stan Kroenke, Arsenal have long since ditched their frugal policy on transfer fees.

Since Wenger left in 2018, the Gunners have spent £425 million ($585 million) on new signings and have the second highest net spend in the Premier League behind Manchester United.

Even this window they have been the biggest spenders with £130 million splashed on Ben White, Martin Odegaard, Aaron Ramsdale, Nuno Tavares and Alberti Sambi Lokonga.

However, so much of that money has been wasted.

Two years on from a £30 million move from Saint Etienne, William Saliba is yet to play a game for the first team. Young midfielders Lucas Torreira and Mateo Guendouzi have been deemed surplus to Arteta’s requirements and farmed out on loan.

Club record signing Nicolas Pepe has failed to live up to his £72 million price tag, while a series of huge pay packets have also been wasted and made it difficult to move players on.

The club had to pay up for the remaining months on contracts for Mesut Ozil, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shkodran Mustafi before they left for free in January.

READ ALSO: Manchester City Thrash Arsenal 5-0

No clear direction

Arsenal’s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta on the sidelines during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on August 28, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

 

Should Arteta face the sack in the coming months, he will be the third manager in three years to leave the club.

Changes have also been constant among the hierarchy. Highly-regarded former Borussia Dortmund chief scout Sven Mislintat left after just 14 months in 2019 due to differences with then head of football Raul Sanllehi.

However, Sanllehi also left the club last year due to dissatisfaction with his transfer business.

Arteta was promoted from head coach to manager, with more say over recruitment, after just nine months in the job.

Arsenal’s focus now appears on youth with all of their summer signings aged between 21 and 23.

But that followed the expensive mistakes of giving huge contracts to players over 30 such as former Chelsea duo David Luiz and Willian, Ozil and current captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Ozil even poked fun at Arteta after Saturday’s 5-0 thrashing by Manchester City by tweeting “trust the process”.

Falling further behind

As Arsenal have gone backwards, the teams at the elite end of the Premier League continue to improve.

City, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool have finished in the top four for the past two seasons and all look even stronger this season for their new signings, or in Liverpool’s case the return from injury of a number of key players.

During Wenger’s reign, Arsenal boasted a record only matched by Real Madrid of 19 consecutive seasons in the Champions League.

Now they have failed to qualify for a fifth straight season and would need a miraculous turnaround to prevent that streak stretching into a sixth year.

AFP