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

New Manager, Same Old Arsenal Held At Norwich

 

 

Caretaker manager Freddie Ljungberg could not end Arsenal’s long wait for a win as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s double only salvaged a 2-2 draw at struggling Norwich on Sunday.

The Canaries twice led through Teemu Pukki and Todd Cantwell only for Aubameyang to level, first from the penalty spot and then with a clinical finish after the break.

But Arsenal also had goalkeeper Bernd Leno to thank for coming away with a point as the German saved brilliantly from Kenny McLean, Pukki and Emiliano Buendia.

Unai Emery was sacked as Arsenal manager after seven games without a win in all competitions that had seen the Gunners fall well off the pace in the race for a top-four finish.

Ljungberg remains a fans’ favourite from his title-winning days as an Arsenal player, but he suffered the same problems as his predecessor as the visitors’ firepower up front was needed to cover up their defensive problems.

Granit Xhaka returned to the Arsenal side for the first time in the Premier League since an explosive clash with the club’s fans as he was substituted against Crystal Palace last month that cost him the captaincy among four changes from Emery’s last starting line-up in the league.

Shkodran Mustafi was surprisingly recalled for his first outing in the Premier League this season, but it did not take Ljungberg long to realise the German is not his answer to Arsenal’s problems a centre-back.

Ljungberg’s side had made a bright start but fell behind to Norwich’s first dangerous attack when McLean’s pass played in Pukki, who twisted and turned David Luiz before seeing his shot deflect in off Mustafi for his first goal in nine games.

However, Norwich have also made a habit of giving themselves a mountain to climb this season with defensive errors and gifted Arsenal a route back into the game when captain Cristoph Zimmerman handled a free-kick inside his own box.

Aubameyang saw his first spot-kick saved by Tim Krul, but was given a second chance after a VAR review for encroaching by the Norwich players and fired home the retaken penalty.

Just as Arsenal were beginning to get on top, they were again cut open with ease as Onel Hernandez’s cut-back was passed into the far corner by Cantwell to give Norwich a half-time lead.

Aubameyang has now scored half of his side’s 20 Premier League goals this season as the Gunners’ new captain led by example to smash home at the back post from a corner just before the hour mark.

But it was Norwich who will feel they should have taken all three points as three big chances went begging for just their fourth win of the season.

McLean’s shot was turned onto the post by Leno, Cantwell’s strike from the edge of the area flew just wide and Pukki was denied by a fine Leno save in quick succession.

Leno had one more big stop to make from Buendia in stoppage time, but a point still leaves Arsenal seven points adrift of the top four in the eighth.

Norwich remains in the bottom three, but inch to within three points of safety.

Arsenal Interim Boss Ljungberg Unsure About Managing Full-Time

Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (L) and teammates react after Frankfurt’s Japanese midfielder Daichi Kamada scores his team’s second goal during their UEFA Europa league Group F football match between Arsenal and Eintracht Frankfurt at the Emirates stadium in London on November 28, 2019.
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Freddie Ljungberg will take charge of Arsenal for the first time as interim manager on Sunday against Norwich but said on Saturday he is unsure whether full-time management appeals to him.

The 42-year-old Swede — who was a member of the Arsenal ‘Invincibles’ side under Arsene Wenger in the 2003/04 season — has been put in charge after Unai Emery’s undistinguished 18-month reign came to an end on Friday.

However, Ljungberg — who was an assistant to Emery — told Sky Sports it was too early to say whether being a manager on a permanent basis would be to his liking.

“We’ll see in the future,” said Ljungberg.

“At the moment I’m learning the trade.

“This is a big responsibility and the moment I’m just taking it game by game.”

Ljungberg’s first task will be to arrest the slump that has seen the Gunners fail to win in seven matches — their worst run since 1992 when George Graham’s side failed to win in eight.

READ ALSO: Newcastle Hold Man City In Thrilling Draw

Arsenal are presently eighth in the Premier League table, eight points off the fourth and final Champions League spot with a third of the league campaign gone.

Ljungberg — who played over 200 games for Arsenal in his nine years at the club and won the FA Cup on three occasions — has revealed no timescale has been set for his spell as Emery’s temporary replacement.

“No, no indication of how long or how short. They just said concentrate on your next game do as well as you can,” he said.

Ljungberg, who away from the pitch was a successful underwear model, said he was honoured to have been entrusted with the job of at least for the moment reviving Arsenal’s fortunes.

“It’s a great, great honour,” said Ljungberg.

“That’s how I feel. I feel this energy inside of me. It’s special.

“Of course there’s sadness because of what’s happened to the club and where we are, but also excitement for what we can do for the future and also for tomorrow.

“Its a great honour and that’s what I said to the players — ‘you guys do the job and I’ll try to help and support you’.

“If you play good football and get results then there’s nothing better than that to raise spirits.”

AFP

Emery Axed As Arsenal Boss After Worst Run In Decades

Unai Emery AFP Photo

 

Unai Emery was sacked as Arsenal manager on Friday after less than two years in charge and with the club without a win in seven games, their worst run since 1992.

The 48-year-old Spaniard was fired following the 2-1 home defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in Thursday’s Europa League match.

His assistant Freddie Ljungberg takes over as interim manager during the search for a permanent replacement.

Arsenal fans had demanded “decisive action” from directors with the club’s run of five draws and two defeats just one match off equalling George Graham’s run of eight without a win in 1992.

Club directors responded by axing the man appointed in May 2018 to revive a club stagnating after two decades under Frenchman Arsene Wenger.

“We announce today that the decision has been taken to part company with our head coach Unai Emery and his coaching team,” read the statement.

“We have asked Freddie Ljungberg to take responsibility for the first team as interim head coach.

“The search for a new head coach is underway and we will make a further announcement when that process is complete.”

Ljungberg will be the first Swedish manager to take charge of a Premier League game since Sven-Goran Eriksson, whose last game in the competition came in May 2008 in charge of Manchester City.

Among those in the mix for the permanent job include former Gunners star Mikel Arteta, Pep Guardiola’s assistant at champions Manchester City, ex-Juventus handler Massimiliano Allegri — Sky Sports reported there had been contact between the two parties — and Portuguese manager Nuno Espirito Santo, who is at Wolves.

Napoli’s coach Carlo Ancelotti is another name that has entered the reckoning — he won the domestic double in the 2009/10 campaign when in charge of Chelsea — but Nuno is the early bookies favourite at 11/10.

However, Nuno, 45, has had two spells in charge of relatively high profile clubs at Valencia and Porto and did not enjoy success.

‘Rejuvenation’

 

Emery’s cause has not been helped by the controversy over Granit Xhaka. The Swiss international swore at Gunners fans when Emery took him off against Crystal Palace last month. Emery responded by stripping Xhaka of the captaincy.

Pepe, Arsenal’s record signing, has been a huge disappointment since his £72 million ($93 million) move from French Ligue 1 outfit Lille in the close season. Under Emery the club has spent at least £200 million.

Emery’s position had looked shaky enough when north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur sacked Mauricio Pochettino last week only months after he took Spurs to the Champions League final.

Emery’s first season ended in disappointment. Arsenal blew two chances for a return to the Champions League, winning just one of their last five games to finish fifth in the Premier League and then losing the Europa League final 4-1 to Chelsea.

“Our most sincere thanks go to Unai and his colleagues who were unrelenting in their efforts to get the club back to competing at the level we all expect and demand,” read the club statement.

“We wish Unai and his team nothing but future success.

“The decision has been taken due to results and performances not being at the level required.”

Supporters see the board, and especially unpopular American owner Stan Kroenke as part of the problem.

The influential Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, the official supporters’ club, issued a statement welcoming the departure of Emery but calling for further radical changes.

“Emery’s departure is the easy part,” read their statement.

“The more difficult challenge is to recruit a suitable successor.

“We are far from certain that Arsenal has the right personnel to lead this process.

“If Arsenal are to genuinely move forward from today it requires not only a new head coach appointment but also a rejuvenation of the boardroom.”

Emery, Arsenal Players Booed Despite Late Draw Against Southampton

Arsenal’s French striker Alexandre Lacazette (C) shoots to score their first goal during the English Premier League football match against Southampton at the Emirates Stadium in London on November 23, 2019. Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

 

Arsenal manager Unai Emery and his players were booed off despite Alexandre Lacazette’s 96th-minute equaliser denying Southampton a first win at the Gunners since 1987 in a pulsating 2-2 draw at the Emirates on Saturday.

Emery’s chances of remaining in charge fade with every passing week as a point at home to a side languishing in the relegation zone does little to further his side’s chances of achieving a top-four finish.

The Spaniard has received a vote of confidence from the board of a club that does not often fire managers, but many fans had already lost faith in him before this setback.

Lacazette’s goal, his second of the match, at least avoided an embarrassing defeat, but Arsenal have won just two of their last 11 Premier League games and slip down to seventh in the table behind Wolves and Burnley.

Despite their lowly status, Southampton were the better side and peppered the Arsenal goal with 21 shots to the home side’s 12.

Stuart Armstrong flashed an early Southampton opportunity narrowly wide but Arsenal didn’t heed the warning and were caught out by a ninth-minute free-kick.

Nathan Redmond, the man fouled, was still on the ground when Ryan Bertrand played it quickly to Danny Ings, who strode into space on the left before unleashing a low drive that went past goalkeeper Bernd Leno and in off a post.

That prompted boos from some home fans but the mood was in no way lightened by Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse firing the game’s next chance straight at Leno.

Lacazette changed the narrative with an equaliser in the 18th minute. Mesut Ozil’s cross from the left found Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in space in the box and although Bertrand blocked his shot the rebound fell to the France striker to fire home on the turn.

The second half was frantic from the start as Leno had to make a save from team-mate Lucas Torreira, who poked the ball towards his own goal in the act of dispossessing the lively Michael Obafemi.

Southampton then survived a VAR check for a penalty when Armstrong stuck up a hand to stop the ball smashing him in the face.

Arsenal’s club-record signing Nicolas Pepe started on the bench for the third straight game, but looked lively after being introduced at half-time and hit the bar with an acrobatic back-post effort that reared up off the turf.

But it was the visitors who continued to pose the greater threat and they were awarded a penalty when Kieran Tierney pushed Ings over to stop him reaching a dangerous Obafemi cross. Ward-Prowse’s first effort was saved by Leno, but he made it 2-1 on the rebound.

Joe Willock then prevented Saints replacement Moussa Djenepo from wrapping up victory with a block of a goalbound shot, with Djenepo firing wide from just seven yards out during seven minutes of added time.

Those misses proved to be costly as Arsenal substitute Gabriel Martinelli found Lacazette unmarked at the back post for a smart finish and an undeserved equaliser with virtually the last kick of the game.

Xhaka Says He Is Ready To Battle For Arsenal Place

Arsenal’s French midfielder Matteo Guendouzi (L), Arsenal’s Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka (C)/ AFP

 

Granit Xhaka may have been stripped of the Arsenal captaincy due to his public run-in with the club’s fans but he says he will be staying and fighting for his place in the team.

The volatile 27-year-old Swiss international midfielder has not played since he mouthed an obscenity at a section of Gunners fans jeering him when he was substituted in the Premier League match with Crystal Palace a fortnight ago.

However, despite manager Unai Emery deciding he could not carry on as skipper — a role he was given after a secret ballot of the players — he told Swiss newspaper Blick he would not be leaving.

Xhaka has had a fractious relationship with Arsenal supporters since his arrival from Bundesliga outfit Borussia Moenchengladbach in 2016, costing the Premier League side a fee reported to be £38 million ($49 million).

“You can be sure that I’ll keep fighting and putting myself out there in every training session,” Xhaka said.

“I feel last week has been dealt with and I’m ready.

“My time at Arsenal has been very positive for a long time.

“After a difficult start, I played a lot and overall I’ve had a great time at Arsenal.

“My family and I also feel very well in the city of London.”

Xhaka, who has been linked with a  move to struggling Newcastle in the January transfer window, said the boos and jeers has not altered his views of the city or the club.

“I’ll continue to stay positive,” he said. “(To) give my all to an even greater extent and prove that I am an important part of this great team.”

The 2-0 defeat by Leicester on Saturday left Arsenal with just one win in six Premier League games and eight points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City.

Xhaka and many of his teammates are now on a fortnight international break. Their next league game will be against second-from-bottom Southampton on November 23.

Xhaka does concede the abuse hurt — he claimed his emotions were running high because his daughter had received online abuse — but said it was counter-productive for the whole team’s morale.

“Insulting and swearing at your own captain will cause upset and a bad atmosphere for the team you are actually supposed to be supporting.

“That makes no sense to me and weakens the team’s spirit.”

He does not spare the online abusers either.

“What has changed through social media are phenomena such as ‘sxxx storms’ that can over-run you from one minute to the next,” he said.

“Also new is the cloak of anonymity you can use to attack players without fear of consequences.

“What happened here is abnormal and excessive and there can be no justification for it.”

AFP

Europa League: Arsenal Held By Vitoria Guimaraes 1-1

Vitoria Guimaraes’ Nigerian midfielder Mikel Ndubusi Agu (L) vies with Arsenal’s English striker Bukayo Saka during the UEFA Europa League Group F football match between Vitoria Guimaraes SC and Arsenal FC at the Dom Afonso Henriques stadium in Guimaraes on November 6, 2019.
MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP

 

Arsenal’s faltering form continued as a much-changed side limped towards the last 32 of the Europa League with a 1-1 draw at Vitoria Guimaraes on Wednesday.

Shkodran Mustafi’s header 10 minutes from time looked set to hand the Gunners a barely deserved three points and maintain their 100 percent record in Group F.

However, Vitoria secured their first point in the group thanks to Bruno Duarte’s acrobatic stoppage-time equaliser.

Arsenal remains well placed to reach the knockout stages as they top the group with 10 points from their first four games.

READ ALSO: After Stunning Inter, Dortmund Turn Sights On Bayern

However, another underwhelming performance and result will do little to ease the mounting pressure on manager Unai Emery.

The Spaniard has been heavily criticised for a run of two wins in nine Premier League games, leaving them six points outside the top four, and Emery prioritised Saturday’s vital trip to Leicester with his starting line-up.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was named as Arsenal’s new captain on Tuesday after Granit Xhaka was stripped of that responsibility for his angry outburst towards the club’s fans when being substituted against Crystal Palace 10 days ago.

However, Aubameyang was not even included on the substitutes bench as Emery made eight changes from the side that started Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Wolves.

Vitoria came closest to scoring in the first half when Pepe smashed a long-range shot off the underside of the bar.

Arsenal had barely created anything of note but seemed set to get out of jail when Mustafi nodded home Nicolas Pepe’s free-kick to give the visitors the lead.

But going behind summoned a response from the hosts who threw caution to the wind in the closing stages and were rewarded in the first minute of injury time.

Former Tottenham winger Marcus Edwards was the creator as Arsenal failed to clear his cross before Duarte hooked home the loose ball with a bicycle kick.

AFP

Xhaka Stripped Of Arsenal Captaincy

A file photo of Granit Xhaka.

 

Arsenal manager Unai Emery confirmed on Tuesday that Granit Xhaka has been stripped of the club captaincy after an emotional outburst towards supporters.

The Swiss international swore and threw the captain’s armband to the floor after being booed as he was substituted against Crystal Palace 10 days ago.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who led Arsenal for Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Wolves, will take over as captain.

Xhaka was not included in the squad for the Wolves match or Wednesday’s visit to Vitoria Guimaraes in the Europa League.

“I was speaking with him this morning and also I decided he’s not one of the captains in our group and I decided that and I told him this morning,” Emery said. “He accepted my decision.

“We have now Aubameyang, Hector (Bellerin), (Alexandre) Lacazette and (Mesut) Ozil – they are the four captains, and first is now Aubameyang.”

“I needed to take one decision, and now it is closed,” Emery added.

Xhaka, 27, blamed death threats to his family for his furious response, saying he had reached “boiling point”.

“My feeling of not being understood by fans, and repeated abusive comments at matches and in social media over the last weeks and months have hurt me deeply,” he wrote on Instagram.

“People have said things like ‘We will break your legs’, ‘Kill your wife’ and ‘Wish that your daughter gets cancer’.

“That has stirred me up and I reached boiling point when I felt the rejection in the stadium.”

Xhaka had only been confirmed as captain by Emery in September after the Spaniard took a dressing room vote to decide on the skipper after the departures of Laurent Koscielny and Petr Cech.

Premier League: Wolves Hold Arsenal To 1-1 Draw

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Mexican striker Raul Jimenez (C) scores his team’s first goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Emirates Stadium in London on November 2, 2019. Ian KINGTON / AFP

 

Arsenal’s winless run in the Premier League stretched to three games as Raul Jimenez’s header 14 minutes from time earned Wolves a well-deserved 1-1 draw at the Emirates on Saturday.

A week on from a foul-mouthed reaction towards the Arsenal fans as he was substituted against Crystal Palace, Gunners captain Granit Xhaka was left out of the squad by Unai Emery in an attempt to ease the tension between players and supporters.

However, there was no great upturn in the Arsenal performance with doubts growing with every passing week that Emery is the man to lead Arsenal back into the Champions League next season.

Emery also responded to the Xhaka controversy by listening to the fans’ calls for Mesut Ozil’s return as the German made just his second Premier League start of the season.

However, Ozil made little impact with Arsenal again reliant on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who replaced Xhaka as captain and opened the scoring, for inspiration.

Wolves started by far the better of the two sides, but were too often reliant on potshots from long range as Bernd Leno saved from Joao Moutinho’s free-kick before Ruben Neves’s dipping effort just did not come down in time to hit the target.

Arsenal took the lead against the run of play on 21 minutes when a low cross found Alexandre Lacazette inside the area and he teed up Aubameyang to slot home his 50th goal for Arsenal.

The goal appeared to settle the Gunners’ nerves and Rui Patricio twice had to be alert to deny Lucas Torreira and Lacazette from doubling the hosts’ advantage.

However, Wolves ended the first period as they had started by posing the greater threat and only a wonderful one-handed save from Leno prevented Matt Doherty levelling from Diogo Jota’s cut-back.

Leno was the busier of the goalkeepers after the break too as he turned another long-range Neves effort to safety.

And Wolves were finally rewarded with an equaliser when Moutinho’s looping cross into the box was headed down past Leno by Jimenez.

Ozil had the chance to make himself a hero but failed to pick out an Arsenal shirt with plenty queuing up to apply the finishing touch six minutes later.

But it was Wolves who had the best chance to snatch all three points when Jota eased through a flurry of weak Arsenal challenges in the final minute only to be denied by Leno.

The final whistle was met with boos from the disgruntled home fans and Arsenal could end the weekend six points adrift of the top four if Chelsea and Leicester win later on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

AFP

Arsenal’s Xhaka To Miss Wolves Clash

A file photo of Granit Xhaka. AFP photo.

 

 

Unai Emery has confirmed Granit Xhaka will miss Arsenal’s clash with Wolves on Saturday as the Swiss midfielder’s fan feud rumbles on.

Xhaka appeared to swear at Arsenal supporters after his second-half substitution prompted sarcastic cheers and booing during Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace.

The 27-year-old cupped his ears, waved his arms angrily and ripped off his shirt before storming down the tunnel.

Xhaka has faced calls to be stripped of the Arsenal captaincy and he was left out for Wednesday’s League Cup defeat at Liverpool after Gunners boss Emery admitted his reaction was wrong.

READ ALSO: Bale Returns To Real Squad, To Miss Betis Clash

Xhaka, who was also booed against Aston Villa earlier this season, revealed on Thursday he reached boiling point following a series of sick taunts toward him and his family via social media.

With Wolves visiting the Emirates Stadium this weekend, it is possible Xhaka would have endured more abuse after the statement offered only a faint apology for his actions.

Emery has again decided it is better to take Xhaka out of the firing line to stop the controversy distracting his players in an important Premier League fixture.

“He said sorry, he gave the apologies to the supporters, to everybody and now the focus is for tomorrow’s match,” Emery told reporters on Friday.

“It is not in my mind that he is going play tomorrow. I am thinking tomorrow he is not going to play because I think now we need also to be focused only 100 per cent on the match.”

Xhaka was already a disliked figure among many Arsenal fans after lacklustre displays since his 2016 arrival from Borussia Moenchengladbach.

His failure to block the cross that led to Palace’s equalising goal on Sunday was the final straw for some at the Emirates as they vented their frustrations.

A decision over the captaincy remains to be announced, although Xhaka is said to retain the backing of Arsenal’s players, who voted him as skipper in pre-season.

AFP