Aubameyang: Barcelona’s Free Gift Who Keeps On Giving

Barcelona’s Gabonese midfielder Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang heads the ball during the Spanish League football match between FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on April 3, 2022. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP)

 

 

“A gift from heaven,” was how Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez described the arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the striker, discarded by Arsenal, has certainly delivered.

It is hard to think of a more significant January acquisition than Aubameyang, given his impact on Barca’s immediate and long-term future.

By the end of the season, Aubameyang’s goals could be the biggest factor in Barcelona finishing in La Liga’s top four, an achievement that could prove transformative.

He has scored nine goals in 12 games so far, including a hat-trick against Valencia and two against Real Madrid.

Missing out on the Champions League next season would have derailed Barcelona’s financial recovery and destabilised the entire project under Xavi, who looks an astute appointment now but was unproven when he took his first major coaching job in November.

Barcelona’s fortunes have turned around so dramatically that they now have two chances to qualify for the Champions League.

They could finish in the top four in La Liga, where they are second after overhauling Sevilla on Sunday, or they could win the Europa League where they are clear favourites.

They face Frankfurt on Thursday in the first leg of the quarter-finals, with the winner to face Lyon or West Ham in the last four.

 

Barcelona’s Gabonese midfielder Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang reacts to being fouled during the Spanish League football match between FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on April 3, 2022. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP)

 

The 32-year-old Aubameyang’s departure from Arsenal mid-season continues to cause debate in England, with some questioning Mikel Arteta’s decision to let the striker leave for free, particularly given the team’s struggles to score goals.

Many say the wisdom of that move will depend entirely on whether Arsenal finish in the Premier League’s top four and qualify for the Champions League for the first time since the 2016-17 season.

“I think (the problem) was just with him and after he made this decision, I can’t tell you much, he wasn’t happy and that’s it. I was not very happy, I was very calm and that’s it,” Aubameyang said in February of Arteta.

Perhaps more to the point is that in January, Arsenal and Barcelona had very different priorities.

While Arteta was nurturing and protecting a young Arsenal team for the future, Barcelona wanted to patch together a short-term squad capable of averting impending financial disaster.

Aubameyang’s disciplinary problems, age and lack of fitness meant he no longer fitted in with Arteta’s long-term vision.

– ‘A privilege to have him’ –
But his goals, talent and ego made him the perfect fit for a Barcelona side desperately in need of a quick fix.

“Auba has been a gift from heaven,” said Xavi.

“He is a player who is positive, has taken very well to the dressing room, he adapts very well to the needs of the team, he scores. It is a privilege to have him and he will contribute a lot to us.”

Barcelona’s veteran defensive midfielder Sergio Busquets agreed. “He’s working really well,” said the 33-year-old.

“He came needing more minutes but he’s getting them. I hope he keeps contributing like this because he’s a great guy. Getting him on a free transfer is a gift.”

 

Barcelona’s Dutch forward Memphis Depay (L) slaps hands with Barcelona’s Gabonese midfielder Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang during the Spanish League football match between FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on April 3, 2022. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP)

 

Barcelona president Joan Laporta confirmed that Aubameyang’s contract runs until 2025 but has a break clause at the end of next season, in 2023.

He will be almost 34 by then and it seems entirely plausible that Barcelona, who still have enormous debts to erase and a hefty wage bill to trim, will move Aubameyang on.

It might well be that after an impressive first stage, Aubameyang’s own hunger and drive begin to fade. Barcelona could face the same problems Arsenal did.

Whatever the outcome it will still be hard to argue the deal for Aubameyang to join Barca was not a roaring success.

If Aubameyang does nothing else, his role in vindicating Xavi and securing qualification for the Champions League this season will have been immense, and for that Barca should always be grateful.

Aubameyang Eases Arteta Pressure As Arsenal Beat Norwich

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aubameyang Going Nowhere, Says Arteta

arteta-aubameyang
Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (L) and Arsenal’s Spanish head coach Mikel Arteta hold the winner’s trophy as the team celebrates victory after the English FA Cup final football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London, on August 1, 2020. Arsenal won the match 2-1. / AFP / POOL / Catherine Ivill /

 

 

 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is and will remain an Arsenal player, the Premier League side’s manager Mikel Arteta said on Thursday.

The Gabonese international striker had an underwhelming season last term scoring just 10 league goals — he scored 22 in each of the two preceding campaigns — but Arteta sees him as pivotal to the Gunners.

The 32-year-old scored a hat-trick in his first start this season in the 6-0 whipping of Championship side West Brom in the League Cup on Wednesday which was also Arsenal’s first win after opening with two league defeats.

They travel to champions Manchester City on Saturday with Pep Guardiola’s side looking to add a striker to their ranks after their principal target Harry Kane said he will stay at Tottenham Hotspur this season.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been mentioned as a possible target but it may be hard to persuade Juventus to let him go so Aubameyang as a proven goalscorer could prove attractive.

“Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is our player and he will remain here,” said Arteta at Thursday’s press conference.

However, Arteta was not so sure what might happen if the club was to receive a huge offer for the player who signed a three year contract last September.

They have spent more money than all their rivals in the close season — a reported 130 million ($178 million) — and may feel obliged to listen if a big money offer was made.

“I don’t know,” he said when asked if the club would have to consider offers for any player.

“We haven’t had a situation but probably that question is more for (technical director) Edu and the board.”

One player who does appear to be surplus to requirements is Brazilian forward Willian, who has failed to fire since he joined from Chelsea on a free transfer in August last year.

The 33-year-old has been heavily linked with a return to his homeland with Corinthians.

“We are having some conversations with him and the agent and we are evaluating the position that we are in at the moment,” he added.

Arteta would probably have preferred an easier opponent prior to the international break than the club where he was assistant to Guardiola prior to taking the Arsenal job.

The Gunners manager, though, paid his former boss a handsome tribute after Guardiola was reported on Wednesday to have said he would leave City when his present contract expires in 2023.

“Obviously the longevity of Sir Alex (Ferguson) and Arsene (Wenger) is incredible what they’ve done,” he said.

“I think that Pep has brought a lot of new things and a different way of playing and I think what he’s added to this country is exceptional and he’s going to go down in the history of the Premier League for sure.

“Obviously it is the club that he has been the longest (he has been there since 2016) and I think he’s loving it there.”

Arteta Holds ‘Positive’ Aubameyang Talks, But Captain Not Certain To Return

arteta-aubameyang
Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (L) and Arsenal’s Spanish head coach Mikel Arteta hold the winner’s trophy as the team celebrates victory after the English FA Cup final football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London, on August 1, 2020. Arsenal won the match 2-1. / AFP / POOL / Catherine Ivill /

 

 

Mikel Arteta has held “positive” talks with Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after dropping him for a breach of club discipline, but refused to guarantee the Gabon forward will get his place back against Olympiakos on Thursday.

Aubameyang was left on the bench after reportedly arriving late for a team meeting before Arsenal beat north London rivals Tottenham 2-1 on Sunday.

The 31-year-old left the Emirates Stadium instead of joining his fellow substitutes for a warm-down session on the pitch after the match.

Gunners boss Arteta said he had to take a strong approach with Aubameyang to sustain the club’s long-term foundation.

The Spaniard has cleared the air with Aubameyang but stopped short of saying the striker would be recalled for the Europa League last 16 second leg against Olympiakos.

“We talked. Everything has been resolved in a really positive way. So we move forward,” Arteta told reporters on Wednesday.

“Everybody has to obviously perform at the highest level to earn his place in the team and there is no exceptions there.

“We will try and put a really competitive team out to try and win the game.”

Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny praised Aubameyang for the qualities he brings to the club both on and off the pitch.

“Auba is just one of the best players we have,” Elneny said.

“To me outside of the pitch he is an amazing person. Mikel has spoken about it and it has finished everything but as a team-mate he is one of the best.

“Auba is our captain and he always supports us on and off the pitch and he is an amazing person as well.”

Arsenal lead 3-1 from the first leg against Olympiakos as they bid to move a step closer to winning the Europa League, which would secure qualification for next season’s Champions League.

“It is a really important game for us, nothing has been decided. We know it is going to be tough and everyone has to be ready,” Arteta said.

Arsenal To Investigate Aubameyang Over Alleged Tattoo Breach

Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium in London on October 22, 2018. Glyn KIRK / IKIMAGES / AFP

 

Arsenal will remind captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of his responsibilities after a video emerged of the forward getting a tattoo, which could be a breach of coronavirus restrictions.

Tattoo artist Alejandro Nicolas Bernal posted the social media clip on February 9 where Aubameyang is seen to get a new tattoo on his hand.

England has been under a national lockdown for nearly two months to try and bring down Covid-19 infection rates.

It is unclear when the incident took place, but Arsenal confirmed they had spoken to Aubameyang about it.

“We will speak to the player to remind him of his responsibilities and establish what has taken place,” said an Arsenal spokesperson.

Aubameyang scored a hat-trick for the Gunners in a 4-2 win against Leeds on Sunday in his first start for a month.

The 31-year-old was allowed to travel abroad last month to visit his mother, who was suffering from illness, and had to quarantine on his return.

Aubameyang Fined $10,000 By CAF For Breach Of Sportsmanship Values

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (L) and his Gabon teammates were forced to sleep on an airport floor in the Gambia. © AFP GABRIEL BOUYS

 

Gabonese forward and captain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been fined by the football governing body CAF, the sum of $10,000 over publishing what it has termed  ”degrading material” that threatens the image of the body.

The sanction was handed out to the star for criticizing CAF after having been forced to sleep in an airport alongside his teammates ahead of the Group D Africa Cup of Nations qualifier versus the Gambian side.

 

 

The judgment read on the CAF official site  ”The CAF Disciplinary Board decided to impose a fine of 10,000 USD for breach of the values of sportsmanship and integrity on the Gabonese Football Federation for the regrettable behavior of the player.”

READ ALSO: ‘The Squad Is Fine’: Solskjaer Refuses To Blame Champions League Exit On Pogba Disruption

”In terms of the CAF Statutes & Regulations; of Articles 10, 11, 43.1, 46, 82 of the Disciplinary Code. Mr. Pierre Emerick Emiliano François Aubameyang has publicly published offensive and degrading material that undermines the honor and image of the Confederation of African Football,” it further read.

The Gabon side was slated to play the West African country in Bakau, but they arrived at the Banjul International Airport and were delayed

Despite providing their COVID-19 results to the immigration officers for checks. with reports, their passports were still seized which made the team spend the night at the airport.

Aubameyang Unhappy As Gambia Airport Drama Mars Africa Cup Of Nations

 

The sight of Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and his Gabon teammates sleeping on an airport floor marred an otherwise successful two rounds of Africa Cup of Nations qualifying. 

Gambian authorities would not allow the visiting Gabonese to leave the terminal because they said the delegation had not complied with conditions aimed at combating the spread of the coronavirus.

Confederation of African Football (CAF) official Omar Sey told reporters in Banjul that the Gabonese did not produce Covid-19 test results, while insisting they had been performed before leaving Libreville.

The Gabonese then had to hand over passports and a standoff ensued with the visiting players forced to sleep on the floor for almost six hours from their midnight arrival before going to their hotel.

CAF responded to the incident by ordering an investigation amid criticism from former African Footballer of the Year Aubameyang.

“Nice job CAF, it is as if we are back in the 1990s. It is 2020 and we want Africa to grow, but this is not how we will get there,” he tweeted.

Gabon lost 2-1 to the Gambia, leaving the teams sharing the Group D leadership, one point ahead of the Democratic Republic of Congo with two rounds remaining.

Although prolific Liverpool scorer Mohamed Salah and Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny tested positive for Covid-19, the widespread disruption of the 48-match schedule that many feared did not materialise.

Here, AFP Sport looks at five talking points as nations seek top-two finishes and places at the 24-nation tournament in Cameroon.

Marvel Mahrez

Captain Riyad Mahrez led by example as Algeria won at home and drew away against Zimbabwe in Group H to stretch an unbeaten run to 22 matches since October 2018.

His solo goal sealed a 3-1 victory in Algiers and an even more spectacular effort gave the Desert Foxes a two-goal advantage in Harare that they surrendered in a 2-2 draw.

Dropping two points did not, however, prevent Algeria qualifying for the finals with two matches to spare, leaving Zimbabwe, Botswana and former champions Zambia to challenge for the other qualifying place.

Egypt recovers

In trouble after dropping four points last year, record seven-time champions Egypt defeated Togo twice to replace the Comoros as Group G frontrunners.

The victories over the disappointing Togolese were achieved in the absence of talisman Salah, who contracted Covid-19 before the first match.

Elneny tested positive for the virus in Lome and missed an impressive 3-1 win with Aston Villa forward Mahmoud Trezeguet among the goals.

Mane strikes African Footballer of the Year

Sadio Mane scored the goal that secured 2019 runners-up Senegal a place at the next finals, and his country boasts the only 100 percent record after four matchdays.

The Liverpool star broke the deadlock near Dakar in a 2-0 victory and snatched the only goal of the return match eight minutes from time in sweltering Bissau.

While Senegal have a maximum 12 points, tiny island nation Sao Tome e Principe hold the unwanted record of being the only team not to secure at least one point so far.

Comoros rise

Another island nation, the Comoros, looks set to reach the Cup of Nations finals for the first time, mainly thanks to taking four points off Kenya and partly due to the Egyptian revival.

Egypt and the Comoros have eight points each, Kenya three and Togo are out of contention with just one, and the joint leaders can clinch qualification by taking one point each in matchday 5.

A key to the growing strength of the Comorans is stability with Marseille-born coach Amir Abdou in charge since 2014 of a tight-knit squad.

Le Roy struggles

The Midas touch of famed French coach Claude le Roy has deserted him since taking charge of Togo, who share with Sao Tome, Chad, and eSwatini the embarrassment of being eliminated with two rounds to play.

Before setting up residence in Lome, Le Roy won the Cup of Nations with Cameroon and left Senegal, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana and Congo Brazzaville with stronger squads than he inherited.

While woeful defending in a 3-1 home loss to Egypt was not the fault of the 72-year-old, the coach is always the first target in African football when things go wrong.

 

 

-AFP

PHOTOS: Stranded Aubameyang, Gabon Teammates Sleep On Airport Floor

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
A photo combination of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and his teammates stranded before their game against The Gambia. Photo: [email protected]

 

Arsenal striker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and his Gabonese teammates were on Sunday stranded on their way to an Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier against The Gambia.

The former Borussia Dortmund man shared videos and photos of the team stranded at the Banjul International Airport on his Instagram stories.

Gabon’s Panthers were billed to take on The Gambia (a match they lost 2-1) in a Group D qualifier for the competition scheduled for 2022 in Cameroon.

The Gabonese football federation also shared photos and videos of the team sleeping on the airport floor on its Facebook page but made no comment about the issue.

In a series of tweets on its official handle, the Gambian Ministry of Youths and Sports explained that the Gabonese delegation was not allowed to leave the Airport because they “refused to surrender their Covid-19 test certificates to the public health officials; equally, they refused to be tested at the airport and put up with unfavourable behaviours.

“The public health officials on duty did not allow them to leave the airport without being tested until 05:30 am after the matter was reported to the Match Commissioner by Mr Lamin Jassey, General Secretary.”

The Ministry explained that “The public health officials were given assurance by the Gabonese sports minister and the ambassador that tests will be conducted on each member of the delegation at their Hotel. It was after this assurance the delegation was allowed to leave the airport.”

 

A furious Aubameyang while replying to a tweet, urged the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to take responsibility.

“This will not demotivate us, but people need to know and CAF need to take responsibility,” the 2019/2020 joint-highest goalscorer added. “(It is) 2020 and we want Africa to grow, but this is not how we will get there.”


See photos of the Gabon players sleeping at the Banjul International Airport: 

Arteta Confident FA Cup Winner Aubameyang Will Stay At Arsenal

Arsenal’s Spanish head coach Mikel Arteta holds the winner’s trophy as the team celebrates victory after the English FA Cup final football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London, on August 1, 2020. – Arsenal won the match 2-1. (Photo by Catherine Ivill / POOL / AFP)

 

 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta believes Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will commit his long-term future to the Gunners after scoring twice to beat Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup final on Saturday.

Aubameyang dropped the trophy in his first mistake of the day before lifting Arsenal’s record 14th FA Cup and his first trophy since joining the Londoners from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018.

The Gabon international has been prolific in his two-and-a-half years in England, attracting interest from around Europe with just one year of his contract at the Emirates left to run.

 

Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring his team’s second goal during the English FA Cup final football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London, on August 1, 2020. 

But Arteta is confident Aubameyang will be convinced to stay by Arsenal’s upturn since the Spaniard took charge in December.

“He knows what I think about him, I want to build a squad around him,” said Arteta.

“I think he wants to stay, it is about getting the deal done.

“I think moments like that will help to realise and give him belief that we are in the right path and he is a big part of it.

“He is loved by everyone at the club so hopefully he will continue with us.”

 

Arsenal Defeat Chelsea 2-1 To Win FA Cup
Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang holds the winner’s trophy as the team celebrates victory after the English FA Cup final.
Catherine Ivill / POOL / AFP

Victory also secured Arsenal’s place in the Europa League next season to ensure they did not miss out on European football for the first time in 25 years.

Arteta warned that failure to qualify for Europe would further restrict his transfer budget before the new Premier League season starts in just six weeks’ time.

“It is a double reward for us, it is really important for this club in every way to be in Europe,” added Arteta, who became the first man to win the FA Cup for Arsenal as a captain and coach.

“Winning this competition is part of our history. It’s 14 now, I contributed, we all did it, so I am so happy.”

Aubameyang paid tribute to Arteta’s impact after what had been a desperately disappointing start to the season under Unai Emery, but dodged questions on his future.

“He deserves this win. He did a great job and we are all happy to have him on board,” said Aubameyang.

“Nothing,” he added when pushed for comment on his plans for next season. “Today, it’s just about the trophy.”

 

 

 

-AFP

Three Things We Learned From The FA Cup Final

Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is mobbed by teammates after scoring his team’s second goal during the English FA Cup final football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London, on August 1, 2020. (Photo by Catherine Ivill / POOL / AFP)

 

 

Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 thanks to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s brace in the FA Cup final on Saturday.

Let’s look at three things we learned from the Wembley clash:

Irreplacable Aubameyang

In what could be his last game for Arsenal, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang showed why the Gunners must do everything in their power to keep the Gabon forward.

The 31-year-old is out of contract at the end of next season and has been linked with a move amid reports he wants to play for a club in the Champions League.

Coach Mikel Arteta insists Aubameyang wants to stay, but he also conceded winning the FA Cup would be a useful way to show him the club are heading in the right direction.

Arsenal did their part and it was Aubameyang who provided the crucial cutting edge.

The first African player to start an FA Cup final as captain, Aubameyang became the second-oldest player to score for Arsenal in the showpiece.

With Arsenal trailing to Christian Pulisic’s early goal, Aubameyang’s blistering break left Cesar Azpilicueta trailing in his wake.

Azpilicueta responded by tugging at Aubameyang’s shoulder and the forward made the most of the contact as he tumbled in the area to win a penalty that he dispatched with ruthless efficiency.

Aubameyang won the German Cup with Borussia Dortmund in 2017, scoring the winning goal from the penalty spot.

Once again, he would be the star, but this time it was his skill and improvisation that proved decisive as he jinked past Kurt Zouma and clipped a fine finish over Willy Caballero in the 67th minute.

Chelsea hamstrung by Pulisic injury

Christian Pulisic had emerged as a key figure for Chelsea since the coronavirus hiatus, but a day that started on a high for the United States winger ended in agony.

It has been that kind of turbulent season for Pulisic, whose first year with Chelsea started slowly amid injuries and poor form before bursting into life.

He was on the scoresheet after just five minutes, with his 11th goal of the season.

Drifting into central midfield to take possession, Pulisic slipped a precise pass to Mason Mount and carried on his run into the Arsenal penalty area, where he took Olivier Giroud’s flick and slotted past Emiliano Martinez.

Pulisic was the first American to score in the FA Cup final but disaster struck in the 49th minute when he raced away for a shot that was interrupted when he felt his hamstring twang.

Immediately grabbing the injured area, Pulisic was helped off the pitch.

Without the pace of Pulisic to keep Arsenal’s defense on the back foot, Frank Lampard’s side was bereft of a cutting edge in the final third as the trophy slipped from their grasp.

Arteta bolsters growing reputation

Mikel Arteta enhanced his reputation as one of the Premier League’s brightest young managers with another tactical masterclass.

Having out-witted his mentor Pep Guardiola in Arsenal’s FA Cup semi-final success against Manchester City, Arteta showed his acumen again to leave Chelsea boss Frank Lampard out of answers.

Arteta’s use of long passes into the channels behind Chelsea’s two attacking full-backs exposed the flaw in Lampard’s defensive system and led directly to Aubameyang’s equaliser.

Leading Arsenal to their 14th FA Cup success — which brings them a place in next season’s Europa League — showed the 38-year-old Spaniard is the man to restore the club’s tattered reputation.

Arsenal may have endured their lowest league finish for a quarter of a century this season as Arteta battled to steady the ship following Unai Emery’s sacking in December.

But he has won over his players with a direct approach to discipline — banishing malcontents Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi — and his astute game-plans.

Winning the FA Cup will buy Arteta time to continue his rebuild and it was fitting his first trophy as Arsenal manager came in the tournament that brought the last major silverware of Gunners legend Arsene Wenger’s reign.

 

 

-AFP

‘We Deserve To Win A Trophy’: Luiz Redemption As Arsenal Shock Man City

Arsenal’s Brazilian defender David Luiz heads the ball during the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 18, 2020. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / POOL / AFP)

 

David Luiz insists Arsenal’s shock 2-0 win over Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals proves they deserve to be contenders for major trophies.

Arsenal defender Luiz enjoyed a sweet moment of redemption as his superb display paved the way for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s double to knock out holders City at Wembley.

Luiz was lambasted after giving away a goal before being sent off for conceding a penalty in Arsenal’s 3-0 defeat at City in their first game following the coronavirus hiatus.

 

Arsenal’s Brazilian defender David Luiz (L) jumps across to block Manchester City’s English midfielder Raheem Sterling (C) during the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 18, 2020. (Photo by MATTHEW CHILDS / POOL / AFP)

 

But the Brazilian kept City at bay in the rematch and Arsenal, through to a record 21st FA Cup final, will play Chelsea or Manchester United in the showpiece on August 1.

“We have a final to play this season and we will try and win a title for this club because this club deserves to win a trophy,” Luiz told BT Sport.

 

 

Arsenal’s Argentinian goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez (L) celebrats with Arsenal’s Brazilian defender David Luiz (2L) and Arsenal’s Spanish midfielder Dani Ceballos (3L) at the end of the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 18, 2020. (Photo by MATTHEW CHILDS / POOL / AFP) 

 

“It was a great result against one of the best teams in the world. We were humble, we understood the way we had to play and we took the opportunities to score.

“We have to be mature, to understand what level we are in the process.”

Luiz paid tribute to Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, who out-witted City boss Pep Guardiola with a shrewd game plan, and saluted his team-mates’ fighting spirit.

 

Arsenal’s Brazilian defender David Luiz (R) challenges Manchester City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus (L) during the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 18, 2020. (Photo by MATTHEW CHILDS / POOL / AFP) / NOT FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING USE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE

 

“We have an amazing coach but we can’t go from 0 to 100. We are improving. The spirit was great and I’m happy for the team because they deserve it,” Luiz said.

“All the team defended, it is not just the last line. Everybody has to fight and play every ball 100 percent. It’s part of the process.

 

Arsenal’s Brazilian defender David Luiz (R) celebrates with Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (2R) at the end of the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 18, 2020. 

 

“We could do more of this in the game so it would maybe be easier. The other team is miles away in front of us but we were humble so when we play we can hurt the opponent and we did that.”

Asked if he was hurt by the criticism following the defeat at City in June, Luiz — who has since signed a new contract — said: “It is part of the football. I understood that football is about surviving.

“Every day you are going to defend the odd thing. I was working hard every single day after my mistakes. I was humble to work more and to work more for the team.”

-AFP

Golden Boot: Salah, Vardy, Aubameyang In Hot Race For Topscorer

Liverpool's Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah celebrates after he scores his team's fourth goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Southampton at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on February 1, 2020. Paul ELLIS / AFP
Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah celebrates after he scores his team’s fourth goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Southampton at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on February 1, 2020.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

 

While the Premier League title has already been won by Liverpool in record time, the battle to finish as the top-flight’s leading scorer is set to go down to the wire.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah could add the Golden Boot to his Premier League winners’ medal, but he has work to do to catch Leicester’s Jamie Vardy, who sits top of the goal charts with four games left.

Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is also in contention to get his hands on the prize after sharing it with Salah and Sadio Mane last season when the trio each scored 22 goals.

Southampton’s Danny Ings is the dark horse after an unexpectedly prolific campaign.

Jamie Vardy

With 22 league goals to his credit so far this term, Vardy is in pole position to take the prize, especially after rediscovering his peak form over the last week.

Vardy failed to score in Leicester’s first four games after the coronavirus hiatus, but the 33-year-old netted twice against Crystal Palace to pass 100 Premier League goals and struck again at Arsenal.

“He’s a legend here for the rest of his time at the club, it’s just what he adds to that status over the rest of his career,” Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers said after Vardy became the 29th player to join the Premier League 100-goal club.

Winning the Golden Boot would be another landmark moment for Vardy, who has defied the odds throughout his remarkable rise from non-league journeyman to Premier League champion four years ago.

Vardy’s next opportunity to increase his grip on top spot comes against lowly Bournemouth on Sunday.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

The Arsenal forward has scored three times in his last three appearances to move into second place in the goal race.

Aubameyang has netted 20 times this season, his prolific form increased Arsenal’s desire to get the Gabon international to extend a contract that expires at the end of next season.

The 31-year-old is yet to agree a new deal amid reported interest from Barcelona and Paris Saint Germain.

His value to Arsenal comes not just in his goals but in his ability to play wide on the left as well as up front.

Sunday’s north London derby at Tottenham and a home game against Liverpool in their following game give Aubameyang a chance to put pressure on Vardy when the spotlight is brightest.

Mohamed Salah

Having won the Golden Boot in 2018 and finished in joint first place last year, the Liverpool forward needs a late goal spree to make it three successive seasons on top of the leaderboard.

Salah’s brace in a 3-1 win at Brighton on Wednesday took him to 19 goals and, with Liverpool chasing a new Premier League points record, the Egyptian is likely to remain in the team even with the title won.

With nine assists this season, compared to four for Vardy, two for Aubameyang and two for Ings, the 28-year-old all round value to Liverpool is arguably higher than any of his Golden Boot rivals.

Next up for Liverpool is Saturday’s clash with Burnley followed by games against Arsenal, Chelsea and Newcastle to round off a memorable campaign that could finish on a high for Salah on a personal note as well.

Danny Ings

The Southampton striker bagged his 19th goal of the season in Thursday’s 1-1 draw at Everton.

After a blistering run during the winter, the goals had dried up a little for Ings, but the 27-year-old has been back in predatory form since the restart.

Ahead of Monday’s trip to Manchester United, Ings’ four goals in his last five matches have underlined the former Liverpool forward’s case for a possible England call-up when international football resumes.

First, Ings will focus on becoming the first Golden Boot winner to play for a club outside the Premier League’s ‘big six’ since Sunderland’s Kevin Phillips in 1999-2000.

 

 

-AFP