With Aubameyang Out, Pepe And Lacazette Have To ‘Step Forward’ – Arteta

Arsenal’s Spanish head coach Mikel Arteta reacts at the final whistle during the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park in south London on January 11, 2020. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

The pressure is on record signing Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette to score goals with Arsenal’s leading scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang suspended for three matches, according to manager Mikel Arteta.

Aubameyang took his tally to 16 goals in all competitions this season in the 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace on Saturday but was also sent off, earning the suspension at a critical time for the Premier League side.

The dropped points leave the Gunners 11 points adrift of a Champions League spot next season and only seven points clear of the relegation places.

Hence Arteta’s call for both Pepe and Lacazette especially to be more clinical in front of goal for the three matches which will not feature Aubameyang.

They host sixth-placed Sheffield United next weekend and also have a tricky league match with Chelsea as well as an FA Cup fourth round tie away at out of form Bournemouth.

Pepe has yet to live up to his £72 million ($93 million) fee scoring just five times this term while Lacazette has six goals to his name, but has not found the net in six matches since scoring in the Europa League match with Standard Liege on December 12.

“They have to make a step forward now,” said Arteta.

“If he (Aubameyang) is not able to contribute to the team with goals like this, then someone else has to do it and I want to see that reaction too.

“Probably the most important player is missing so it is not nice, but we have other players who can play in that position and we will find a way and be as competitive as possible.”

Arteta’s alternative would be to call on younger players such as Brazilian Gabriel Martinelli, who is Arsenal’s second top goalscorer this season with a tally of eight, although the majority of them have occurred in cup competitions.

Another alternative is the talented Eddie Nketiah, who returned early from his loan spell at Championship side Leeds having failed to secure regular first team football.

“At the moment we have to think mid-to-long term with Eddie,” he said.

“We have to respect his evolution and development and we don’t have to make a decision just based on two or three games.”

 

AFP

Palace Hold Arsenal As Aubameyang Sees Red

Arsenal’s French striker Alexandre Lacazette (L) tackles Crystal Palace’s English defender Martin Kelly during the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park in south London on January 11, 2020. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang opened the scoring at Crystal Palace on Saturday but was later sent off as the hosts fought back to draw 1-1 at Selhurst Park.

New Gunners boss Mikel Arteta was on course for a third straight win when his skipper made the breakthrough in the first half, but a deflected effort by Jordan Ayew cancelled it out early in the second period.

When Aubameyang received a red card with 23 minutes left, the experienced Roy Hodgson would have fancied his chances of gaining three points against the youngest manager in the league and but had to settle for a share of the spoils.

Arsenal’s difficulties this season were highlighted by the fact this was the first time Palace were facing the Gunners after Christmas in a top-flight match with the Eagles higher in the table.

Hodgson was boosted by the return of Wilfried Zaha after he missed the defeat to Derby with a knock but new loan signing Cenk Tosun was only named on the bench.

Captain Aubameyang was recalled by Arteta after sitting out the FA Cup win over Leeds and opened the scoring at Selhurst Park in the 12th minute.

Mesut Ozil’s licence to roam had already caused the hosts problems and he moved inside to combine with Alexandre Lacazette, who played in his fellow forward to curl into the bottom corner for his 16th goal of the season.

It was a breathtaking Arsenal move, which started with a brave through ball between the lines by David Luiz, and Palace struggled to gain possession during the opening 30 minutes.

Zaha cut a frustrated figure and this was highlighted when he shoved Nicolas Pepe into Lucas Torreira, with the visiting pair needing treatment.

Palace settle

The Eagles slowly settled into the London derby and Cheikhou Kouyate had their first effort of note shortly before half-time, which Bernd Leno unconvincingly parried.

Arteta introduced Matteo Guendouzi at half-time, with Torreira not returning but Palace continued to win free kicks in dangerous positions after the break.

Eventually they made one count, when Jairo Riedewald found Max Meyer in space down the right. His cross was poor, but Kouyate was first to it and set up Ayew, who saw his strike take a big deflection off Luiz and loop over Leno in the 54th minute.

Arsenal’s problems deepened when Aubameyang caught Meyer high on the ankle with a poor challenge by the touchline.

Referee Paul Tierney showed a yellow card but VAR had a look and after a two-and-a-half minute delay, the caution was upgraded to a sending off.

Aubameyang was distraught as he left the pitch in the 67th minute and Meyer had to follow him down the tunnel after failing to recover from the tackle.

That allowed Hodgson to introduce Tosun for his debut, while Arteta withdrew Ozil for Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli.

James Tomkins almost produced a winner 12 minutes from time, but his header was cleared off the line by Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Arsenal then almost stole it.

Vicente Guaita came to the rescue though, when he superbly tipped Pepe’s shot on to the post and saved Lacazette’s follow-up in the 83rd minute as it finished all square.

Arteta Secures First Win As Arsenal Beat Man Utd

Arsenal’s Spanish head coach Mikel Arteta (2nd L) celebrates with his players on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 1, 2020. Arsenal won the game 2-0.
Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Mikel Arteta claimed his first win as Arsenal manager in impressive fashion as his side outplayed Manchester United to secure just a second victory in 16 games with a 2-0 win at the Emirates.

Nicolas Pepe and Sokratis Papastathopoulos struck before half-time to reward arguably Arsenal’s finest 45 minutes of the season so far.

The Gunners started the game three times as many points off the top four as the relegation zone, but a first home win in 87 days hauls Arteta’s men up to 10th and within four points of United in fifth.

READ ALSO: Gabriel Jesus Stars As Man City Beat Everton

There were signs of encouragement for Arsenal in Arteta’s home debut against Chelsea on Sunday when only a late collapse saw a 1-0 lead turn into a 2-1 defeat.

However, this time the hosts saw the game through as a dismal United performance raised fresh questions over their chances of finishing in the top four.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men were again shorn of Paul Pogba, who faces another few weeks on the sidelines due to an ongoing ankle injury.

United have grown used to coping without Pogba this season, but still, struggle to create when denied the counter-attack and failed to recover after falling behind early on.

For the first time, Arsenal started with all of Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, and Mesut Ozil together in attack and Arteta’s bold choice paid dividends eight minutes in.

Pepe scored just his second Premier League goal from open play since a £72 million move from Lille when he swept home Sead Kolasinac’s cross at the back post.

The Ivorian was suddenly brimming with confidence as he twisted and turned Luke Shaw before cross for Aubameyang to volley just over.

Lacazette then rolled Harry Maguire easily in a night to forget for the world’s most expensive defender before pulling his shot across goal.

David de Gea is another of United’s more experienced stars suffering an alarming dip in form and a poor clearance from the Spaniard offered another sight of the goal to Pepe, whose long-range strike came back off the post.

Arsenal’s first half dominance was rewarded with a second goal before the half-time interval as De Gea could only palm Lacazette’s header from a corner back into the danger area and Sokratis pounced to fire into the roof of the net.

As the hosts’ energy levels dipped from a frantic first 45 minutes, United were allowed to dictate the game but did have the guile to make their possession count.

Andreas Pereira had the best chance to give United a lifeline but fired into the side-netting from Nemanja Matic’s clever reverse pass.

Mason Greenwood also forced Bernd Leno into a smart save, but United’s normal source of goals, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, were kept in check as a much-maligned Arsenal defence kept just a fourth Premier League clean sheet this season.

AFP

Liverpool Ride Their Luck To Beat Wolves 1-0

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp (R) embraces Liverpool’s English defender Trent Alexander-Arnold (L) at the end of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield in Liverpool, northwest England, on December 29, 2019.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool needed the aid of VAR to re-establish their 13-point lead at the top of the Premier League with a 1-0 win over Wolves on Sunday as a late Chelsea fightback inflicted a 2-1 defeat on Arsenal in Mikel Arteta’s first home game in charge.

Manchester City remain 14 points adrift of the runaway league leaders, but closed the gap on second-placed Leicester thanks to second-half goals from Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne to beat Sheffield United 2-0.

Sadio Mane scored the only goal of a controversial clash at Anfield as Liverpool extended their unbeaten run at Anfield in the league to 50 games.

“It was a tough test and rightly so. We play for big stakes, and try to be successful and be as good as possible,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

Mane’s strike three minutes before half-time was initially ruled out for a handball by Adam Lallana in the build-up, but a VAR review overturned referee Anthony Taylor’s on-field decision.

Moments later Wolves thought they had levelled when Pedro Nieto fired low past Alisson Becker, but again the VAR review went against the visitors as the goal was ruled out for a fractional offside against Jonny.

“We feel massively hard done by, I can’t get my head around it. It is ridiculous,” said Wolves captain Connor Coady.

“For me it is not working. Some people are saying it gets the right decision but we’re the players on the pitch and it doesn’t feel right to me.”

Wolves had less than 48 hours to recover from a thrilling 3-2 victory over City on Friday, but still had plenty of chances to secure at least a point after the break as Becker denied Diogo Jota before Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore had shots deflected wide in the closing stages.

Just a second league defeat in 15 games means Wolves fall five points behind Chelsea in the fight for a top-four finish after Frank Lampard’s men staged a dramatic turnaround at the Emirates.

‘Awful’ Chelsea Beat Arsenal

Arsenal seemed set to give Arteta a first home win in the league since October as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s opener was just reward for one of the Gunners’ best performances of the season.

However, the defensive blunders that have blighted Arsenal’s season under three different managers cost them again when goalkeeper Bernd Leno came and missed a Mason Mount free-kick to allow Jorginho to tap home an equaliser seven minutes from time.

Chelsea capped the comeback four minutes later when Tammy Abraham led a counter-attack from one end to the other before finishing from Willian’s cross.

“We were so awful for 30 minutes; slow, lethargic, nervous,” said Lampard, who made a tactical change to bring on Jorginho after just 34 minutes.

“The second half was nothing to do with tactics, it was all to do with spirit and desire.”

However, Arsenal were furious Jorginho was still on the field to equalise as he escaped a second yellow card at 1-0 for a foul on Alexandre Lacazette.

VAR also had a big role to play at the Etihad where City were again far from convincing but did enough to inflict a first away defeat in nearly a year on Sheffield United.

The Blades had a goal ruled out by a VAR review before half-time for another close offside call against Lys Mousset.

The Frenchman also wasted another good chance when one-on-one with Claudio Bravo and the visitors were punished by a characteristically clinical finish from Aguero as he rifled home De Bruyne’s through ball.

De Bruyne then doubled City’s advantage eight minutes from time with a fine low finish.

Arteta Shows Faith In Ozil Ahead Of Chelsea Game

Arsenal’s Spanish head coach Mikel Arteta looks on before the English Premier League football match between Bournemouth and Arsenal at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, southern England on December 26, 2019.
Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Mikel Arteta has backed Mesut Ozil to make the most of his fresh start as Arsenal’s new manager prepares for his home debut against Chelsea on Sunday.

Ozil has become a polarising figure at Arsenal after several seasons of lackluster performances from the German playmaker.

He was a peripheral figure under former Gunners boss Unai Emery and looked destined to leave the club in January.

READ ALSO: Ibrahimovic Signs Six-Month Contract With AC Milan

The 31-year-old was left out for Freddie Ljungberg’s final game as interim manager against Everton after reacting angrily to being substituted in the 3-0 loss to Manchester City.

But Arteta restored Ozil to his starting line-up for his first match in charge as Arsenal salvaged a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth on Thursday.

Former City assistant coach Arteta, who was in the opposition dugout on December 15 when Ozil kicked his gloves having being replaced, has been encouraged by the mentality of the German World Cup winner since he took charge.

“To be fair his attitude in training since the day that I walked in the building has been incredible, and I’ve seen this,” Arteta said.

“I said I was going to give a clean slate to everybody and it was fair as well to give it to him.

“When we did the game preparation and we were watching the opponents, and where we could hurt them, we believed that he could be a key point. And we prepared the game like this, with him.

“He responded, he did what he had to do and we could have put two or three goals because of him in the net.”

Ozil Antics

Given his previous antics, it was notable that Ozil was substituted without protest 15 minutes from full-time at Bournemouth after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had canceled out Dan Gosling’s opener.

Ozil later expressed support for the methods of his new manager, finishing a tweet with the words “Let’s trust the process”.

Now Arteta hopes his faith in Ozil is rewarded with a commanding display in the London derby against fourth-placed Chelsea.

Arsenal is eight points behind Chelsea in the race to qualify for the Champions League via a top-four finish.

A win against Frank Lampard’s side would breathe a little life into Arsenal’s fading bid to return to Europe’s elite club competition.

And they face Chelsea at an opportune moment after the Blues slumped to a  2-0 home defeat to Southampton on Thursday.

It was the latest tepid effort from Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, leading Lampard to again question whether his players have the quality required to break down defensive opponents.

The result was even more disappointing for Lampard as it came just days after Chelsea delivered the best performance of his reign in their 2-0 win at Tottenham.

Callum Hudson-Odoi had been called into the team to face Southampton but, not for the first time this season, the winger was underwhelming.

Lampard retains faith in the 19-year-old, who missed time this season with a heel injury.

“I thought he put in a lot of effort; he was trying things and making runs,” Lampard said.

“It wasn’t quite coming off for him in the first half, and overall in fact.

“He’s coming off the back of a big injury and this is certainly a period where we have to stick with him through that.”

AFP

Everton Hold Arsenal As Ancelotti, Arteta Prepare To Take Charge

 

 

Carlo Ancelotti and Mikel Arteta were shown the huge jobs that lie ahead as Everton and Arsenal managers respectively as they watched their new sides play out a drab 0-0 draw at Goodison Park on Saturday.

Ancelotti was confirmed as the Toffees new boss on the morning of the match, 24 hours after Arteta took charge of Arsenal.

Both new managers were in the stands with Duncan Ferguson and Freddie Ljungberg in temporary charge for the final time.

And the lack of confidence of two sides struggling at the wrong end of the table was obvious in a match completely devoid of quality.

A point edges Arsenal into ninth, but the Gunners have now won just once in their last 13 games in all competitions.

Everton move up to 15th, but are only four points clear of the relegation zone.

Ferguson’s role in Everton’s impressive victory over Chelsea and draw at Manchester United in their last two league games was enough to ensure the temperamental Scot a role in Ancelotti’s backroom staff.

However, there was a dramatic dip in his side’s energy levels as they looked jaded after a League Cup quarter-final defeat on penalties to Leicester in midweek.

Ljungberg named a youthful Arsenal side with 19-year-old Emile Smith Rowe starting for the first time in the Premier League alongside Reiss Nelson and teenagers Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka.

Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe were among those left out by the Swede, who won just one of his six matches in caretaker charge.

Martinelli had the best chance of a first half that ended without a single shot on target from either side when he sliced wide from Lucas Torreira’s fine through ball.

– Substituting a substitute –

Arsenal were the better side after the break as they finally got top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang into the game.

The Gunners’ captain was denied by a fine save from Jordan Pickford as he pounced on Callum Chambers’s flick on from a corner. Then Aubameyang fired too close to the England number one with his next effort.

Ljungberg’s final decision of his caretaker spell was a brave one as he replaced Aubameyang 13 minutes from time as Lacazette was finally called on from the bench.

However, the focus was again snatched by Ferguson’s substitutions as for the second straight week he replaced a substitute.

Moise Kean was the victim of his impatience at Old Trafford last weekend as the Italian international was hooked after just 18 minutes.

This time it was Kean who was introduced for Cenk Tosun, who had come on early in the game for the injured Alex Iwobi.

But Kean could not make himself a hero by scoring his first Everton goal as Arsenal held out for a first clean sheet in 15 games.

Arsenal To Name Man City’s Arteta As New Manager

Manchester City’s assistant coach Mikel Arteta takes warm-up ahead of the English League Cup quarter-final football match between Oxford United and Manchester City at the Kassam Stadium in Oxford, west of London, on December 18, 2019. OLLY GREENWOOD / AFP

 

Arsenal are expected to appoint Manchester City assistant coach Mikel Arteta as their new manager in the next 24 hours after postponing Thursday’s scheduled press conference.

Interim boss Freddie Ljungberg was expected to face the media at the club’s training ground at 1:30 pm (1330 GMT) to preview the Gunners’ trip to Everton on Saturday.

The Swede has taken charge of Arsenal since Unai Emery was sacked on November 29, but has overseen just one victory in his five-match tenure.

A 3-0 defeat at home to Manchester City on Sunday left the club seven points off fourth-placed Chelsea and the same number off the bottom three.

It led to the Arsenal hierarchy stepping up their plans to appoint Emery’s successor, with managing director Vinai Venkatesham pictured outside Arteta’s house in the early hours of Monday.

It is understood City are unhappy that Arsenal did not ask for permission to speak to Arteta and are especially annoyed because Pep Guardiola’s side played at the Emirates on Sunday and no approach was made when club officials met.

City, however, do not have an issue with the 37-year-old and will allow him to make his own decision.

Arteta was alongside Guardiola on Wednesday as the Premier League champions won 3-1 at Oxford to reach the League Cup semi-finals.

Guardiola said after the match: “There was no change. I don’t have any news. We prepared the game as best as possible. Before, during and now after and we did it.

“I spoke (Tuesday). My press conference I had 48 questions and 35 were about Mikel so I don’t have to say anything more until there is news. When there is news, in my next (press) conference when you ask me something I will answer.”

Arteta played more than 100 times for Arsenal before retiring in 2016 and is set to take up his first managerial role after three years as Guardiola’s assistant.

AFP

Arsenal Fall To Man City At Emirates Stadium

Manchester City’s French defender Benjamin Mendy (L) vies with Arsenal’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Martinelli (C) during the English Premier League football match at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 15, 2019. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

 

Kevin De Bruyne scored twice and teed up Raheem Sterling for Manchester City’s other goal as Arsenal crumbled to another humiliating 3-0 home defeat on Sunday.

The victory sees City close the gap on runaway leaders Liverpool back to 14 points and edge to within four of second-placed Leicester, who they host next weekend.

Arsenal, on the other hand, remain ninth on the back of just one win in their last 12 games in all competitions.

That victory came at West Ham on Monday, but if there was any hope a corner had been turned under caretaker boss Freddie Ljungberg for the Gunners, it was quickly quashed by the brilliant De Bruyne.

READ ALSO: I Am Alive And Bubbling – IBB

Arsenal could have taken the lead even before the Belgian opened the scoring after just 90 seconds.

Gabriel Martinelli retained his place ahead of Alexandre Lacazette after scoring for the first time in the Premier League on Monday and got the better of Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi to muscle his way in on goal before his shot was blocked by Ederson.

City broke straight up the other end and Gabriel Jesus’s low cross picked out De Bruyne to stroke the ball into the roof of the net.

Pep Guardiola’s men had been ruthlessly cut apart on the counter-attack in losing to Manchester United last weekend and were conscious not to make the same mistake again as they allowed Arsenal possession for large spells before breaking at speed.

The visitors doubled their lead just 15 minutes in with De Bruyne this time the creator as he carried the ball forward before squaring for Sterling to slot home his 16th goal of the season.

De Bruyne showed his superior quality to any other player on the pitch again five minutes before half-time as this time he curled into the bottom corner on his weaker left foot from outside the box.

And only a brilliant save from Bernd Leno denied the City midfielder a first-half hat-trick moments later as the German’s fingertips turned another long-range De Bruyne effort onto the post.

Arsenal’s preparation for the game had been disturbed by the controversy surrounding Mesut Ozil’s support for the Muslim minority Uighurs in Chinese province Xinjiang.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV pulled coverage of the match and Arsenal distanced themselves from Ozil’s comments.

The German was still selected by Ljungberg but made a little impact before being substituted on the hour mark and his slow walk to the touchline with his side trailing 3-0 drew the wrath of some disgruntled Arsenal fans.

Only Leno prevented the scoreline from becoming even more embarrassing for Arsenal as he saved one-on-one from Jesus and at his near post from Riyad Mahrez.

However, with just one win in five games since Ljungberg took temporary charge after the sacking of Unai Emery, the appointment of a new manager cannot come soon enough if they are to salvage anything from a thoroughly disappointing season so far.

AFP

Arsenal Fight Back To Claim Europa League Last 32 Spot

Arsenal’s Joe Willock (L) vies with Standard’s Mehdi Carcela during the UEFA Europa League Group F football match between R. Standard de Liege and Arsenal FC at the Maurice Dufrasne Stadium in Liege on December 12, 2019.
JOHN THYS / AFP

 

Arsenal came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at Standard Liege and make sure of a place in the Europa League last 32 as Group F winners on Thursday.

Alexandre Lacazette and Bukayo Saka were on target in the space of three second-half minutes.

The Gunners, runners-up to Chelsea last season, finished the group stage with 11 points and a relatively easier draw in the knockout rounds.

They lived on their nerves as Eintracht Frankfurt were poised to knock them off top spot when the Germans led Guimaraes 2-1.

However, the Portuguese side, already eliminated, scored twice in the last five minutes to claim a 3-2 win.

Arsenal had beaten Liege 4-0 in the first meeting between the two sides and with a place in the knockout round already virtually certain, caretaker coach Freddie Ljungberg made nine changes to his starting line-up in Belgium.

The home side took the lead just after half-time when a speculative Samuel Bastien shot took a huge deflection which left Gunners goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez wrong-footed.

The goal meant Arsenal had failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 13 matches in all competitions, equalling their worst ever run under Arsene Wenger in 2004.

It got worse after 69 minutes when Selim Amallah made it 2-0 off another deflection as Liege looked for the unlikely scoreline of 5-0 which would put them through and Arsenal out.

However, Lacazette calmed Arsenal nerves after 78 minutes when he headed in a cross from Saka.

Three minutes later, the impressive Saka levelled the scores with a fine finish from the edge of the box.

Frankfurt had beaten Arsenal in London last time out with a win which hastened the departure of Gunners coach Unai Emery.

They were on course to finish top of the group after Danny Da Costa and Daichi Kamada gave them a 2-1 lead over Guimaraes.

However, Libyan midfielder Ali Al Musrati and English winger Marcus Edwards scored in the 85th and 87th minutes to leave Frankfurt in the runners-up spot.

Elsewhere, Celtic, fresh from winning the Scottish League Cup last weekend and already assured of making the last 32, lost 2-0 at Cluj who went through as Group E runners-up behind the Scots.

Italian giants Lazio, third in Serie A, were knocked out after a 2-0 loss at Rennes in the same group.

Later Thursday, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made nine changes to the side that beat Manchester City at the Etihad last Saturday for the home tie with Alkmaar.

Both United and their Dutch visitors were already assured of making the last 32 although with just a point between them, top spot was at stake in Group L.

Twice former European champions Porto, Roma and Bundesliga leaders Borussia Moenchengladbach were also later bidding to nail down a qualifying spot.

Arsenal Beat West Ham To End Worst Winless Run Since 1977

Arsenal’s German midfielder Mesut Ozil (C) watches his shot go wide during the English Premier League football match between West Ham United and Arsenal at The London Stadium, in east London on December 9, 2019. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Arsenal caretaker manager Freddie Ljungberg believes a weight has been lifted off his players’ shoulders after a three-goal blitz in nine second-half minutes beat West Ham 3-1 on Monday to end the Gunners’ worst winless run in 42 years.

Another miserable night for the Swede seemed in store when the visitors trailed at half-time to Angelo Ogbonna’s deflected header.

However, Arsenal suddenly sparked into life after Gabriel Martinelli scored his first Premier League goal as Nicolas Pepe finally started to deliver on his club record £72 million fee by curling home a brilliant second, before crossing for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to secure all three points.

“It means so much for the players. They have been living under enormous pressure and you see it in their performances,” said Ljungberg.

“You can see the players have been a bit low and you see in the dressing room the relief and how happy they are.”

A first win in 10 games in all competitions lifts Arsenal up to ninth and cuts the gap on fourth-placed Chelsea to seven points in the battle for Champions League qualification next season.

Ljungberg reacted to taking just one point from his opening two games in temporary charge against lowly Norwich and Brighton by making five changes with Martinelli and Pepe among those coming into the side.

Pepe’s inability to make an impact has been one of the major reasons for Arsenal’s struggles, but the Ivorian looked a new player after curling home his first Premier League goal from open play 24 minutes from time.

“Nicolas is an amazing football player, but it is not easy to come from the French league into the Premier League and adjust straight away,” added Ljungberg.

“It was an amazing goal and he’ll get better and better.”

 West Ham ‘dominated for 60 minutes’ 

Not much had improved in Ljungberg’s first two games since replacing the sacked Unai Emery and it was the same tame and lifeless Arsenal for the first hour against a West Ham side that have won just once in their last 11 games.

“I think we dominated the game for 60 minutes and after that in 10 minutes we lose the game,” said West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini, who is under increasing pressure as his side sit just one point above the relegation zone.

Another home defeat means the Hammers have taken just one point from their last five games at the London Stadium and the home side were booed off at full-time.

“You understand the boos because the last five games we played here we didn’t win,” added Pellegrini. “You cannot concede three goals in every game.”

In a first half of precious little good football it was fitting the opener arrived in scrappy fashion as Ogbonna’s attempted header came off his shoulder and deflected off Martinelli to wrong-foot Bernd Leno in the Arsenal goal.

But one moment changed the course of the game when Sead Kolasinac burst down the left and crossed low for Martinelli to slot home his eighth goal of the season after impressing in the League Cup and Europa League.

Suddenly the confidence which Emery and Ljungberg bemoaned had drained away from their players in recent times was restored, none more so than in Pepe, who cut inside onto his favoured left foot and curled into the top corner.

Pepe then turned provider for Aubameyang to slide in for his 13th goal of the campaign.

“At half-time, Freddie told us to play with a higher tempo,” said Aubameyang.

“We have the quality in the squad, and if we believe in ourselves, we can go forward and win games. We will take this second half as an example for the rest of the season.”

AFP

Benitez Rules Himself Out Of Arsenal And Everton Jobs

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 26, 2018 Newcastle United’s Spanish manager Rafael Benitez gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Newcastle United at Anfield in Liverpool, northwest England. Rafael Benitez will leave Newcastle United after three years as manager when his contract expires next week, the Premier League club confirmed on June 24, 2019.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Rafael Benitez insisted on Monday there is “no chance” he will fill the managerial vacancies at either Arsenal or Everton, but he refused to completely rule out a return to the Premier League.

Former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss Benitez is currently in charge of Chinese side Dalian Yifang after leaving Newcastle United after the end of last season.

Arsenal are still looking for a permanent successor to Unai Emery while Everton, Liverpool’s local rivals, sacked Marco Silva last week, and former Champions League winner Benitez said he was happy in the Chinese Super League despite finishing a lowly ninth this season.

“I can be very clear — there is no chance I will come back now because I’m really happy,” he said on Sky Sports.

“I’m really pleased (Dalian Yifang) trust me. We have a lot of staff working on a big, big project. We want to leave a legacy and it’s a challenge for me. I’m quite happy at the moment.

“In the future I would like to come back to the Premier League because I like the league.”

Benitez has also seen his name linked with West Ham should Manuel Pellegrini leave the London club.

But although he was linked with a move to the Hammers four years ago before joining Real Madrid, Benitez said there was no chance of them tempting him away from China.

“It was in the past, it’s true that I was nearly there (at West Ham),” he said. “Then Real Madrid came, and I needed a couple of days to know exactly what was going on.

“Obviously I couldn’t say no to Real Madrid, but it was a good time and it’s a massive club.

“Everybody can see both teams (West Ham and Arsenal) have problems, but both are massive clubs and they will do well at the end.”

Ljungberg Seeks Wenger Advice As He Plots Arsenal Revival

Arsenal’s Swedish interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg awaits kick off in the English Premier League football match between Norwich City and Arsenal at Carrow Road in Norwich, eastern England on December 1, 2019. PHOTO: Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Freddie Ljungberg intends to tap into the knowledge of Arsene Wenger and Sven-Goran Eriksson as he prepares for his second game in charge of Arsenal.

The 42-year-old interim manager took over from Unai Emery at the Emirates last week after the Spaniard was sacked, with Arsenal languishing in mid-table in the Premier League.

Ljungberg said Wenger, who brought the Swede to Arsenal as a player back in 1998, and Eriksson could offer valuable experience as he looks to build his own career.

Asked if he had spoken to former Arsenal boss Wenger, he replied: “No (not yet).

“I would really like to speak to him. I’m in contact with him but I haven’t spoke to him because it’s been a bit hectic, but it’s on my list to do so.

“He was here for 22 years as the coach so he has a lot of experience. And he probably has some things that he thinks are important that he can share with me and make me a better coach. That’s what I wanted to ask.”

While Ljungberg never played under his Swedish compatriot Eriksson, he admitted he heard good things about the former England manager.

“Sven is intelligent,” he said. “I spoke to him a lot when he was the manager of England because he was watching our games.

“I know in the past some stories of how he treated players and how he made them feel good and things like that.

“I have stolen a little bit of those ideas. He’s a great coach, it’s been a long time, and I hope I can speak to him soon.”

Arsenal drew 2-2 at Norwich on Sunday in Ljungberg’s first game in charge — extending their run without a victory in the Premier League to six matches.

They are in eighth place, seven points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, after just four wins from their first 14 matches.

Ljungberg, who said taking charge at the Emirates would be a proud moment, added the only way to change the atmosphere in the stadium was by performing on the pitch.

“When it comes to the Emirates, the fans want us to win football games,” he said.

“They want us to play good football and I think the only way to try to get a good atmosphere and get them going is to try to achieve that. Whether that’s me or someone else as a coach, I don’t think that matters so much.”

AFP