Coronavirus: Arsenal Vs Manchester City Game Postponed

Players wait on the pitch while a VAR (Video Assistant Referee) review is conducted before awarding a goal to Arsenal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and West Ham at the Emirates Stadium in London on March 7, 2020.
Ian KINGTON / AFP

 

Arsenal’s game at Manchester City set for Wednesday has been postponed after players from the London club were quarantined, making it the first Premier League football fixture to be called off because of coronavirus.

Arsenal said players and four staff had been isolated at their homes after coming into contact with the owner of Greek club Olympiakos, Vangelis Marinakis, who has since tested positive for COVID-19.

“We are strictly following the government guidelines which recommend that anyone coming into close contact with someone with the virus should self-isolate at home for 14 days from the last time they had contact,” an Arsenal statement said.

“As a result, the players are unavailable for tonight’s (Wednesday’s) match against Manchester City and the Premier League has decided the game should be postponed.”

A picture shows the pitch and stands ahead of the English FA Cup fifth round football match between Portsmouth and Arsenal at Fratton Park stadium in Portsmouth, southern England, on March 2, 2020. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

The first postponement in the Premier League, which has a huge worldwide following, follows widespread disruption to football and other sports across the globe.

Arsenal were knocked out of the Europa League by Olympiakos on February 27. Marinakis, owner of the Greek club and English side Nottingham Forest, announced on Tuesday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

But Arsenal said the players and staff, who met Marinakis after the game at the Emirates Stadium, will return to work on Friday ahead of Saturday’s trip to Brighton.

“The medical advice we have received puts the risk of them developing COVID-19 at extremely low,” it added.

The Premier League called the move a “precautionary measure” and said there were no plans to postpone any other games.

Arsenal’s opponents on Saturday struggling Brighton tweeted that their game was still on.

“Albion’s match against Arsenal this Saturday remains scheduled to go ahead as planned, in line with government advice, and following consultation with the Premier League and medical advisors. #BHAFC,” they tweeted.

Football’s Serie A and all other sports have been put on hold in Italy, while the top two divisions in Spain and France will be played in empty stadiums for at least the next two weeks.

UEFA’s Champions League and Europa League have also been both forced to arrange matches behind closed doors as the epidemic spreads.

Olympiakos host Wolverhampton Wanderers in Athens this week in the Europa League, in one of the last-16 games that will be played in front of an empty stadium.

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo has joined a number of managers, including Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, in voicing disquiet at being asked to play without fans.

“If we have to go we will. But we don’t agree — we’re not happy to go,” he told Sky Sports.

“Behind closed doors doesn’t make sense,” he added. “We’re pretending to live a normal life when things aren’t normal.”

Wednesday’s postponement could also frustrate Premier League leaders Liverpool, as a defeat for Manchester City would have taken Liverpool to the brink of their first top-flight title in 30 years.

AFP

Super-Sub Lacazette Boosts Arsenal’s Euro Hopes Against West Ham

Arsenal's French striker Alexandre Lacazette celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and West Ham at the Emirates Stadium in London on March 7, 2020. Ian KINGTON / AFP
Arsenal’s French striker Alexandre Lacazette celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and West Ham at the Emirates Stadium in London on March 7, 2020. Ian KINGTON / AFP

 

Alexandre Lacazette came off the bench to keep Arsenal in the hunt for a Champions League place as his late strike survived a VAR review to seal a vital 1-0 win against West Ham on Saturday.

Mikel Arteta’s side struggled to find any momentum for long periods at the Emirates Stadium and could easily have been behind before Lacazette settled a scrappy London derby.

The French striker turned in Mesut Ozil’s header with 12 minutes left, but it took several minutes before VAR finally confirmed the German was onside when he laid on the goal.

Arsenal’s third successive Premier League win lifted them within five points of fourth placed Chelsea, who face Everton on Sunday.

Earning a Champions League berth still looks a long-shot for Arsenal, especially after this uneven display.

But the Gunners, who face Manchester City on Wednesday, are unbeaten in their last eight league games and showed commendable spirit to make the late breakthrough.

West Ham have lost five of their last seven league games and, with only one win in their past nine, they are destined for a nervous finish to the season as they battle to avoid relegation.

Arteta admitted this week that only a victory against West Ham would keep their Champions League bid alive.

He got his wish, but only just.

There was no pre-match handshake between the teams following the Premier League edict to ditch the ritual over coronavirus fears.

Listless for long periods, Arsenal didn’t look too keen on any contact once the game started either.

Granit Xhaka carelessly surrendered possession to Jarrod Bowen, whose long-range drive slipped through Bernd Leno’s grasp onto the near post.

West Ham should have gone ahead when Michail Antonio raced onto Pablo Fornals’ pass, but with the unmarked Sebastien Haller screaming for the ball, the winger could only send a woeful delivery yards behind him.

Pablo Mari, on loan from Flamengo, was making his Premier League debut at the heart of Arsenal’s defence alongside David Luiz, while Greek centre-back Sokratis was used out of position at right-back.

But Arteta’s reshuffled rearguard were easily exposed by Mark Noble’s pin-point pass and Leno did well to get down quickly at the feet of Haller after the West Ham striker moved menacingly towards goal.

Lacazette impact

West Ham’s enterprising opening was nearly undone when Sokratis thumped his close-range header onto the bar from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s cross.

There were still plenty of holes for David Moyes’ men to exploit and only a shocking miss from Antonio stopped them scoring just before half-time.

Issa Diop climbed above Aubameyang and headed Noble’s corner to Antonio, who somehow managed to screw wide from just two yards.

For the first time in over a year, Arsenal had failed to record a shot on target in the first half of a home league game.

They finally tested Lukasz Fabianski when Eddie Nketiah darted onto Bukayo Saka’s pass and flicked his shot at the Hammers keeper.

West Ham remained a threat and it took a superb save from Leno to deny Antonio’s close-range header from Haller’s flick.

Arteta sent on Lacazette in place of Nketiah for the final 30 minutes and his arrival turned the game.

He saw his appeal for a penalty rejected by VAR after Angelo Ogbonna appeared to haul him down.

But Lacazette broke the deadlock with his ninth goal of the season in the 78th minute.

Aubameyang’s shot deflected off Declan Rice and looped to Ozil, whose header found Lacazette for a clinical close-range finish.

A lengthy VAR review prolonged the agony for West Ham before it was finally ruled that Ozil was onside when he set up Lacazette.

Haller almost snatched an immediate equaliser but his effort was pushed away by Leno as Arsenal held on.

 

AFP

Arsenal Knocked Out Of Europa League By Olympiakos

 

Youssef El-Arabi scored in the last minute of extra-time as Olympiakos knocked Arsenal out of the Europa League on Thursday on a night when four former European champions were eliminated.

Ajax, Celtic, Benfica, and Porto went out but Manchester United hardly broke a sweat after Simon Deli of Brugge conceded a penalty and earned a red card in the 23rd minute at Old Trafford and won 5-0.

Arsenal had won the first leg of the round of 32 ties 1-0 in Greece.

Defender Pape Abou Cisse canceled out that advantage when he headed in a corner after 53 minutes.

Arsenal could not break through and were forced to extra time.

Giorgos Masouras hit the bar for Olympiakos in the 112th minute and a minute later Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck for Arsenal, putting them back in front with a spectacular flying kick.

However, in the final minute of extra time, Arsenal cleared an Olympiakos corner but was still disorganised when the ball was swung back into the area.

The cross found El Arabi free in front of goal for an unchallenged shot.

“Very hard, very tough,” said Aubameyang. “Their last-minute goal was unlucky for us.”

Last year Arsenal reached the final.

“It hurts a lot,” said Mikel Arteta, the Arsenal manager. “Attack against defence in 25 metres is difficult, but we created enough chances to win the game comfortably.”

Olympiakos coach Pedro Martins was delighted.

“We were determined, we believed we could qualify and we made it,” said he said. “Tactical intelligence, effectiveness, inner strength, courage…they all weighed in this success.”

At Old Trafford, one of United’s recent signings Bruno Fernandes gave the hosts the lead with a penalty after Deli’s flying intervention.

The other new boy, Odion Ighalo, making his first start, hit his first goal for the club in the 34th minute.

Tentative Ajax

For the Nigerian, who says United were his childhood club, it was a moment to celebrate, but the emotion was mixed.

Ighalo lifted his shirt to reveal a picture of his sister Mary Atole who died suddenly at her home in Canada in December. Ighalo also has her name stitched into his boots.

“I have been waiting for this,” said Ighalo. “It’s a moment I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.”

Scott McTominay and Fred, with two late goals, completed the 5-0 rout and 6-1 aggregate win.

“The football we played at times pleased me the most,” said Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Manchester United manager.

“The players are smiling, they are playing with confidence and that is what we want. The new lads have brought that in.”

Ajax, Champions League semi-finalists last year, kicked off two goals down to Getafe, this season’s Liga surprise team, and conceded another after five minutes.

Jaime Mata exploited tentative Ajax defending to spin and drill in a low shot from close range.

That left the home needed needing to score four, they managed two, the first from young Brazilian Danilo Pereira, with his first for the club, and an own goal when Mathias Olivera deflected a free-kick. Getafe held on comfortably.

Copenhagen scored three goals on three shots as they won 3-1 at Celtic, but deserved the victory.

Jozo Simunovic’s weak back pass gave Copenhagen the ball close to goal after 51 minutes and Micheal Santos completed the punishment.

With seven minutes left, Odsonne Edouard leveled with a penalty but as Celtic tried to press, their defence panicked twice in the last five minutes. Pep Biel and Dame N’Doye coolly accepted the gifts to make the aggregate score 4-2.

“It just wasn’t our day and we’re big boys, we can take it on the chin and we’ve got to make sure we bounce back,” said Celtic captain Craig Brown

Benfica went out 5-4 on aggregate after repeatedly throwing away the initiative as they drew 3-3 at home to Romanians Cluj.

Porto subsided 3-1 at home to Bayer Leverkusen to go out 5-2 overall.

Inter Milan beat Ludogorets 2-1 to advance 4-1 in a match played in an empty San Siro because fans were banned to avoid spreading coronavirus.

The game between FC Salzburg and Eintracht Frankfurt was postponed because of a forecast of dangerously high winds and will be played on Friday.

AFP

 

Arsenal Revival Gathers Pace As Aubameyang Downs Everton

Arsenal players celebrate their third goal scored by Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Everton at the Emirates Stadium in London on February 23, 2020. Tolga AKMEN / AFP

 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang boosted Arsenal’s hopes of gate-crashing the race to reach the Champions League as his double clinched a 3-2 win against Everton on Sunday.

For much of a troubled season Arsenal have been written off as also-rans in the battle to qualify for Europe’s elite club competition.

But, recovering from the wreckage of the Unai Emery era, their revival under Mikel Arteta is gathering pace.

Rocked by Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s first-minute goal at the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal equalised through Eddie Nketiah and took the lead thanks to Aubameyang.

Richarlison levelled for Everton to cap a dramatic first half, but Gabon striker Aubameyang had the final word seconds after the break.

Arsenal climbed above Everton into ninth place and sit four points behind fifth-placed Manchester United.

With second-placed Manchester City banned from European competitions for the next two years, as it stands finishing fifth could secure Champions League action pending the result of City’s appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

There is growing belief at Arsenal that they could take advantage of the punishment for Arteta’s former club.

The Gunners are now unbeaten in their last 10 games in all competitions, including seven without defeat in the league after a second successive victory.

Everton must recover quickly to avoid their own European hopes being dashed after a first defeat in six league games.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side were hoping for a statement victory and they made the perfect start after 49 seconds.

Gylfi Sigurdsson’s inswinging free-kick was met with a misjudged attempt to head clear from David Luiz, who only succeeded in glancing the ball up on the air off his shoulder.

Calvert-Lewin’s reaction was inspired as he threw himself into a spectacular overhead kick from six yards out that left Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno rooted to the spot.

It was the 22-year-old’s seventh league goal in his last nine games.

Already reeling from their limp start, Arsenal were dealt another blow when left-back Sead Kolasinac was forced off with his right arm in a sling after an aerial collision with Djibril Sidibe.

 Classic counter 

There was a saving grace to the substitution as Bukayo Saka replaced Kolasinac and made an instant impact.

Saka is only 18 but the Arsenal youth academy graduate already has a reputation for producing devastating crosses and he conjured another to lay on the 27th-minute equaliser.

Surging onto Granit Xhaka’s pass, Saka whipped a pin-point cross into the six-yard box where the 20-year-old Nketiah got behind Yerry Mina to cushion a volley past Pickford.

Before their latest meeting, Arsenal had scored 327 top-flight goals against Everton, more than any other opponent has scored against another in the highest tier of English football.

They took that tally to 329 with a classic counter-attack in the 33rd minute.

For all Luiz’s faults as a defender, the Brazilian can unfurl a pretty pass and his superb through ball sent Aubameyang clear of Sidibe to guide a clinical finish into the far corner.

Richarlison was fortunate to earn just a yellow card for a rash lunge that sent Dani Ceballos flying.

And Arsenal were left to rue that decision as Richarlison bagged his 12th goal of the season in first-half stoppage-time.

When Sigurdsson’s scuffed shot bounced high into the penalty area, the Gunners defence stood flat-footed and Mina headed on for Richarlison to poke home from close range.

Arsenal responded emphatically, emulating Everton’s fast start to the first half with a goal 26 seconds after the interval.

Nicolas Pepe curled in an inviting cross and Aubameyang got clear of the hapless Sidibe to guide a glancing header past Pickford for his 19th goal of the season.

Leno preserved Arsenal’s victory with a fine save from Calvert-Lewin, who also headed inches wide in a tense finale.

Arsenal Roar Back Into Champions League Contention After Newcastle Win

Arsenal’s French-born Ivorian midfielder Nicolas Pepe (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium in London on February 16, 2020.
Ian KINGTON / AFP

 

Arsenal hauled themselves back into contention to qualify for next season’s Champions League with a 4-0 win over Newcastle thanks to second-half goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette.

Just a second league win for the Gunners under Mikel Arteta lifts Arsenal into 10th in the Premier League, but just six points adrift of Tottenham in fifth.

Manchester City’s two-season ban from European competition means fifth will be enough to secure a Champions League place unless the English champions succeed in appealing that sanction to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Arteta, who left City to take his first senior managerial role at the Emirates in December, could be the beneficiary of his former employers’ punishment.

And there was plenty of encouragement for the Spaniard in Arsenal’s second-half performance after an all too familiar subdued first 45 minutes.

READ ALSO: Son’s Brace Seal Win For Tottenham Against Aston Villa

Both sides started the day in the bottom half of the table on 31 points and it showed before the break.

The visitors had the better chances as Joelinton screwed wide before Bernd Leno turned Sean Longstaff’s deflected shot to safety.

Arteta handed Eddie Nketiah his first Premier League start upfront at the expense of the out-of-form Lacazette.

However, it took over half an hour for the 20-year-old to get a sight of goal when he fired too close to Martin Dubravka.

Nketiah should have scored when he hit the bar from Pepe’s cut-back in an explosive start to the second period from Arsenal.

But Aubameyang showed his young apprentice how to pounce in front of goal as he rose highest to power home Pepe’s floated cross on 54 minutes.

One of the revelations of Arteta’s early days in charge has been Bukayo Saka’s performances as a makeshift left-back.

No Arsenal player has created more goals than the 18-year-old this season and Saka nutmegged Valentino Lazaro before teeing up Pepe to fire home the hosts’ second from close range.

Newcastle have scored just 24 goals in 26 league games this season and their lack of a goal threat was obvious as they chased the game in the final half-hour.

Ciaran Clark spurned a great chance to bring the Magpies back into the game by firing wide with just Leno to beat before the mercurial Allan Saint-Maximin curled a shot off the post.

Lacazette replaced Nketiah five minutes from time and made a huge impact to give his confidence a much-needed boost.

Firstly, the Frenchman crossed for Ozil, whose tame shot squirmed through Dubravka’s grasp.

Luck then shone on Lacazette to end a nine-game goal drought as his right-footed shot flicked off his left foot and flew into the top corner in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

AFP

Burnley Hold Arsenal To Goalless Draw

Arsenal’s German defender Shkodran Mustafi wins a header from Burnley’s New Zealand striker Chris Wood during the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Arsenal at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on February 2, 2020. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Arsenal lost more ground in the race to finish in the Premier League’s top four after being held to a 0-0 draw at Burnley on Sunday.

Mikel Arteta’s side are trailing 10 points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and look certain to fall well short of the Champions League places.

It was another frustrating afternoon for Arteta, who saw his team squander several chances to take the lead in a match they could easily have lost with better finishing from Burnley.

Arsenal are without a win in their last four league games, having drawn all four of them, and Arteta has won just once in seven league matches since replacing the sacked Unai Emery.

Arteta can point to only one defeat in that period and there is no doubt Arsenal are more competitive than they were under Emery.

Even so, they still look creaky at the back and lack a cutting edge up front, a concerning issue given the supposed wealth of attacking options in Arteta’s squad.

Arsenal have now drawn five consecutive away league matches for the first time since August 1948 and actually sit closer to the relegation zone — seven points away — than the top four.

New signings Cedric Soares and Pablo Mari were missing from the Arsenal squad due to fitness concerns.

But Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang returned after serving a suspension for his red card at Crystal Palace.

Mesut Ozil made his 250th Arsenal appearance after reports Arteta has blocked the German from joining a Qatari club.

Ozil and Aubameyang combined to carve open the Burnley defence in the opening moments, but Alexandre Lacazette headed wide from the Gabon striker’s cross.

Arteta had his players run into boxing bags at the club’s training ground this week in an unusual attempt to prepare for the physical test posed by Burnley.

 Work ethic 

Arsenal were up for the challenge, moving the ball quickly and with purpose at times.

But Aubameyang should have done better than shoot harmlessly wide after getting behind Matt Lowton to reach David Luiz’s long pass.

After a slow start, Burnley threatened when Jay Rodriguez tested Bernd Leno with a stinging drive before Dwight McNeil blasted just over.

Arsenal remained dangerous on the counter and Burnley keeper Nick Pope did well to block Aubameyang’s chip.

Kept in the contest by their relentless work ethic, Burnley could have snatched the lead when Jeff Hendrick scooped wastefully over from McNeil’s cross.

Arsenal suffered a blow when young left-back Bukayo Saka was forced off at the interval after initially playing through his first-half injury.

Arteta’s defence were exposed in the air time and again as Burnley dominated after half-time.

They stood rooted to the spot when James Tarkowski headed a free-kick wide before Hendrick nodded past the post from McNeil’s cross.

Aubameyang has seven goals in four games against Burnley, but he couldn’t break the deadlock this time, diving to head wide from Lacazette’s cross.

Rodriguez should have won it for Burnley when he met McNeil’s cross with a close-range volley that hit the bar and bounced down on the line, with goalline technology confirming the whole ball did not go over.

AFP

Ten-Man Arsenal Hold Chelsea In Torrent Of Late Premier League Goals

 

 

Ten-man Arsenal slowed Chelsea’s charge for a Champions League place on Tuesday as Manchester City kept up their distant pursuit of Liverpool with victory at Sheffield United on a dramatic evening of Premier League football.

Newcastle improbably came back from 2-0 down to draw against Everton, with substitute Florian Lejeune netting twice in stoppage time, and Aston Villa found a last-gasp winner against in-form Watford.

Elsewhere, Southampton climbed to ninth in the table with victory against Crystal Palace while Bournemouth gave themselves hope with a 3-1 win over fellow-strugglers Brighton.

Fourth-placed Chelsea twice took the lead against Arsenal, who were reduced to 10 men after former Blues defender David Luiz took out Tammy Abraham when he was through on goal.

Jorginho put Chelsea 1-0 ahead from the penalty spot in the 28th minute but Gabriel Martinelli equalised for Arsenal in the second half.

Cesar Azpilicueta put Chelsea 2-1 up with just six minutes remaining but Arsenal levelled only three minutes later through Hector Bellerin.

The 2-2 draw leaves Chelsea six points ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United having played a game extra while Arsenal are in 10th spot, seemingly out of the running for a place in the top four.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard was frustrated that his team had not been more clinical in front of goal.

“We could have had three or four goals today,” he told the BBC. “Having shots, crosses and lots of ‘ooh’ moments. We have to be clinical.”

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta hailed his side’s reaction.

“To do that against this kind of opponent in this stadium, I really value,” he said. “The way they have done it, with the spirit they have done it, that’s great.”

Aguero spares City blushes

Pep Guardiola’s City, with defender Aymeric Laporte back in the side, looked as though they might rue Gabriel Jesus’s squandered first-half penalty but their Argentine hitman Sergio Aguero came to the rescue.

Despite the 1-0 win, second-placed City remain 13 points behind runaway leaders Liverpool, having played two games more, and their bid to defend their title appears hopeless.

City’s French central defender Laporte has been out of action since suffering a knee injury at the end of August and he was a surprise inclusion at Bramall Lane.

Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson denied Jesus from the penalty spot about 10 minutes from half-time after a foul on Riyad Mahrez.

But City made amends when substitute Sergio Aguero, on for Jesus, tapped in from Kevin De Bruyne’s cross in the 73rd minute.

“We knew it would be a difficult place to come,” Guardiola said. “We concede one or two clear chances, nothing more than that.

“In the first half the ‘keeper was excellent with the penalty and two incredible saves. It was an incredibly good victory for us to take a step towards securing Champions League football next season.”

Southampton’s 2-0 victory against Crystal Palace, thanks to goals from Nathan Redmond and Stuart Armstrong, continued a remarkable turnaround for the club, who hit rock bottom earlier this season in a 9-0 defeat by Leicester.

“Throughout the team — the behaviour, belief — everyone is absolutely committed,” said Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuettl.

“They know what they have to do and the atmosphere is fantastic. Everyone enjoys to play.”

Watford took the lead against Villa when Troy Deeney headed in Gerard Deulofeu’s cross but the home side hit back in the second half through Douglas Luiz.

Tyrone Mings scored a dramatic late winner for Villa deep into stoppage time to end Watford’s recent revival under Nigel Pearson.

Moise Kean scored his first goal for Everton since his arrival from Juventus in the 30th minute of their match against Newcastle and Dominic Calvert-Lewin doubled the lead in the second half.

Everton were cruising deep into stoppage time but threw away the three points, with Lejeune striking twice.

Bournemouth, who had lost their previous four matches, all against relegation rivals, beat Brighton 3-1 thanks to goals from Harry Wilson, an own goal from Pascal Gross and a second-half Callum Wilson effort.

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are in action on Thursday at Wolves after Manchester United take on Burnley without Marcus Rashford, who could be out for three months with a back injury, on Wednesday.

Arteta Hopes 10-Man Arsenal’s Grit Points To Brighter Future

 

 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta hopes the resilience his side showed in twice coming from behind while a man down to hold Chelsea 2-2 at Stamford Bridge proves a “stepping stone” to a brighter future for the Gunners.

Arteta’s men remain 10th in the Premier League, 10 points behind Chelsea in fourth, but while a point may be too little for their hopes of a return to the Champions League, the manner in which it was achieved gave their new manager cause for optimism.

“Time will tell if this is a stepping stone, but at least I saw a reaction,” said Arteta.

“I demand from the players that they never give up. We have to keep playing with the spirit we showed in every game. I’m proud of the way they reacted.”

David Luiz endured a nightmare evening on his return to Stamford Bridge as the Brazilian was sent off after 26 minutes for hauling down Tammy Abraham. Jorginho converted the resulting penalty.

However, Chelsea’s struggles at home continued as they offered another lifeline to those challenging for a top-four finish.

Frank Lampard’s men are now six points clear in fourth, but Manchester United can cut that gap to three with victory over Burnley on Wednesday.

“We’re in fourth position, but I know and we know there should be another 10 points on the board,” said a frustrated Lampard.

“We shouldn’t dwell too much on results that have gone, but a lot of them look the same.

“The initiative is on us to be ruthless, to take the chances when they came along.”

Lampard had already spoken of his desire for Chelsea to be more clinical after losing 1-0 at Newcastle on Saturday with Paris Saint-Germain’s all-time top goalscorer Edison Cavani a target.

And a move for the Uruguayan could be even more of a priority after top scorer Abraham had to be helped from the field at full-time after injuring his ankle in colliding with the advertising boards late on.

Abraham had a big role to play on what should have been the decisive moment in the match when he pounced on a gift from Shkodran Mustafi to race clear on goal and round Bernd Leno.

Luiz got back in time to make a challenge, but barged Abraham to the ground and in the opinion of the referee did not make an attempt to play the ball as he saw red.

Jorginho produced a characteristically cool finish from the penalty spot and Chelsea should have been on course for a comfortable three points.

But the Blues have now won just four of their last 12 league games and were guilty of the same lack of creativity at one end, and defensive lapses at the other, that characterised the home defeats to West Ham, Bournemouth and Southampton.

Fortune also favoured Arsenal for their first equaliser midway through the second half as a slip from N’Golo Kante allowed Gabriel Martinelli to run from the edge of his own box unopposed before slotting home the 10th goal of an impressive debut season in England.

Chelsea were lacking the guile to unlock the 10 men in their search for a winner, but Arsenal’s good work was undone six minutes from time when they were caught cold by a quickly taken corner and Cesar Azpilicueta swept home Hudson-Odoi’s cross.

Arsenal were not to be denied as Hector Bellerin produced a magnificent finish on his weaker left foot from outside the area three minutes later.

Arteta Confident Of Arsenal Victory Over Chelsea

Arsenal’s Spanish head coach Mikel Arteta shouts instructions to his players from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Sheffield United at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 18, 2020. Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta believes there is still time for his side to stage a challenge for a top-four Premier League finish if they beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Chelsea are in pole position for the fourth Champions League place as they hold a five-point cushion over Manchester United and Wolves and are 10 clear of Arsenal, who are down in 10th.

The Gunners have won just once in five league games since Arteta took charge last month, but their only defeat in that run came against Frank Lampard’s men on the Spaniard’s home debut.

Arsenal were deservedly leading 1-0 at the Emirates until two Chelsea goals in the last 10 minutes changed the complexion of the game and the race for the top four.

“It’s very, very important for us to win this game to fight for that,” said Arteta in his pre-match press conference on Monday.

“The game we played at home, it could have made a big difference and we were very close to it. Tomorrow we need to win.”

Chelsea’s strong position in the table is as much thanks to those behind them failing to mount a serious challenge as their own form.

The Blues lost their eighth league game of the season at Newcastle on Saturday.

“Everyone is having a lot of problems to put together back-to-back wins, the league has been very competitive this season and that is why the gaps aren’t that big,” added Arteta.

“There are still four months to play and a lot of things can happen, a lot of games between the top teams as well so I think that will change.”

Conceding late goals has been a theme of Arsenal’s faltering form this season as they let another two points slip away when Sheffield United grabbed a late equaliser at the Emirates in a 1-1 draw on Saturday.

Alexandre Lacazette labelled his side “naive” afterwards, calling on Arsenal “to be nastier and more consistent.”

And Arteta agreed with the French international that the Gunners must improve their ability to see games out with the lead.

“I think it’s part of game management,” said Arteta.

“I think there are things that we could have done better there to put more pressure on the opponent, to bring the ball into certain areas where we can rest with the ball and we can control the game better.

“That will come, it’s a good process for us as well to learn about those situations.”

AFP

Sheffield Force Arsenal To Draw At Emirates Stadium

Arsenal's Brazilian striker Gabriel Martinelli (L) shoots but fails to score during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Sheffield United at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 18, 2020. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP
Arsenal’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Martinelli (L) shoots but fails to score during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Sheffield United at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 18, 2020. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Arsenal’s faint hopes of a top-four finish in the Premier League suffered another blow as John Fleck’s late equaliser secured a valuable point for Sheffield United’s own European ambitions in a 1-1 draw at the Emirates.

Gabriel Martinelli had filled the void left by the suspended Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang by opening the scoring for the Gunners on the stroke of half-time.

But Mikel Arteta’s men were devoid of inspiration for most of the match and paid for one moment of poor defending as Fleck drove high past Bernd Leno eight minutes from time.

Arsenal have still lost just once in six games since Arteta took charge, but have won just one of five in the Premier League to remain 10 points off the top four in 10th.

The visitors remain four points ahead of the Gunners and move to within a point of the European places in seventh.

A bright start by the Blades showed why they are surpassing all expectations on their return to the top flight.

However, their lack of a predatory finisher was shown as Lys Mousset twice headed over good chances in the first 10 minutes before Arsenal settled down.

Martinelli has made an impressive impact in his debut season in England and the 18-year-old was Arsenal’s major threat in the absence of Aubameyang.

With the hosts’ first attack, Alexandre Lacazette fed the speedy Nicolas Pepe and the Ivorian’s cross picked out Martinelli, who could only volley across goal and wide.

The Gunners were banking on a much bigger impact from Pepe when they paid Lille a club record £72 million for his services in August, but his confidence is growing with every game and another slick pass teed up Martinelli to fire wide.

Martinelli could not have been handed an easier finish at the third time of asking seconds before half-time as Bukayo Saka’s cross looped kindly into his path to tap home his ninth goal of the season.

“Gabi’s gonna be a superstar,” tweeted an impressed Aubameyang. “Not because of the goal, because of the attitude, energy and mindset.”

Chances were few and far between after the break as Arsenal seemed to be keeping the visitors at bay bar a threat from set-pieces.

Oli McBurnie saw a goalbound header cleared by Granit Xhaka before the Scotland striker headed straight at Leno from another corner.

However, Sheffield United went nearly a year unbeaten away from home prior to visits to Manchester City and Liverpool over the festive period and showed the resilience on the road to claim a point seven minutes from time.

Arsenal did not deal with a deep cross into their box and it dropped to Fleck, who got over the ball to keep his strike on target and saw it fly hight past the helpless Leno.

Chris Wilder’s men could even have taken all three points in the closing stages as McBurnie and Fleck had shots bravely blocked inside the box a minute from time.

 

AFP

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.