Wenger Ends Bayern Rumours After Being Named FIFA’s Development Chief

Arsenal’s former coach Arsene Wenger has been named FIFA’s world football development director, the Zurich-based body said on November 13, 2019.
Ozan KOSE / AFP

 

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger returned to football on Wednesday after being named FIFA’s chief of global football development, ending any chance of a move to managerless Bayern Munich.

FIFA said the former Arsenal and Monaco coach would be responsible for the growth of the game “for both men and women around the world”, and would also be the “leading authority on technical matters”, including potential changes to the sport’s laws.

It added that Wenger, 70, would also be tasked with coach education and aiding a programme designed to help former players enter management.

“I very much look forward to taking on this extremely important challenge,” Wenger said in a statement.

“Not only because I have always been interested in analysing football from a broader perspective but also because FIFA’s mission as world football’s governing body is truly global.”

Rumours of Wenger making a shock return to coaching had intensified over the weekend after Wenger denied claims by Bayern Munich that they had turned down his offer to take over at the German champions after the sacking of Niko Kovac.

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge then said there had been a “misunderstanding” and that the Bundesliga giants would speak to Wenger “in the near future”.

However it is the new FIFA role that brings the Frenchman back to the game for the first time since 2018, when he left Arsenal after 22 years in charge.

Wenger made the Gunners one of the strongest sides in Europe, winning three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups and taking his team to the 2006 Champions League final.

His also won the French league in 1987 with Monaco, adding the French Cup four years later before departing for Japan in 1995.

“I am delighted to welcome him to the team. Since I arrived at FIFA, we have placed football at the centre of our mission, striving to learn from those who know the sport inside out,” said FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

“Arsene is someone who, with his strategic vision, competence and hard work, has dedicated his life to football.”

Bringing in famous faces has been a key part of Infantino’s tenure at the head of FIFA. Wenger arrives following the departures of technical chief Marco van Basten last year and former deputy secretary general Zvonimir Boban, who became AC Milan’s “chief football officer” in June.

Wenger Vows To Return In 2019

File photo

 

Arsene Wenger has promised he will be back in football management at the start of 2019, but the Frenchman does not yet know at which club.

The 69-year-old veteran boss ended his 22-year reign at Premier League side Arsenal at the end of last season but insisted at the time he was not yet finished with football.

Asked when he would be back in management, Wenger told Sky Sports on Wednesday: “At the beginning of the year.

“It will seem odd to go somewhere else but I can’t tell you (where) because I don’t know where I’ll be. I’ll be somewhere — but I don’t know where.

“I have had a good rest and watched football a lot. I have many good memories, so I miss them.”

Meanwhile, Wenger, whose final seasons in charge of Arsenal saw the once mighty Gunners struggling to contend for the English title, was pleased by the North London giants’ start to this season.

Under new manager Unai Emery, Arsenal is currently fourth in the table, just four points behind Premier League leaders and reigning champions Manchester City, despite losing their first two league games this term.

“When Arsenal win I am happy,” said Wenger. “I felt I worked very hard and I think I left it (the club) in good shape.

“After that, I’m a supporter like anyone else — I want them to win football games.”

AFP

Arsenal Appoint Emery As Wenger’s Successor

Arsenal Appoint Emery As Wenger's Successor
Unai Emery. Photo: CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

Arsenal announced former Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery as their new boss on Wednesday, handing him the daunting task of revitalising a club that has slipped well behind their Premier League rivals.

The Spaniard, who won the domestic treble with PSG this season, emerged as the shock favourite to replace Arsene Wenger earlier this week after it had appeared former Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta was in line to land the job at the Emirates.

Wenger departed at the end of the season following a 22-year reign, with the club finishing sixth in the Premier League — 37 points behind champions Manchester City — and failing to qualify for the Champions League.

Arsenal will be wary of the turmoil at Manchester United after the departure of long-serving manager Alex Ferguson in 2013 but said the choice of Emery was unanimous.

“I am thrilled to be joining one of the great clubs in the game,” Emery, 46, told Arsenal’s website.

“Arsenal is known and loved throughout the world for its style of play, its commitment to young players, the fantastic stadium, the way the club is run. I’m very excited to be given the responsibility to start this important new chapter in Arsenal’s history.”

Chief executive Ivan Gazidis said the decision to appoint the former Valencia and Spartak Moscow boss had been unanimous.

“Unai has an outstanding track record of success throughout his career, has developed some of the best young talent in Europe and plays an exciting, progressive style of football that fits Arsenal perfectly,” he said.

“His hard-working and passionate approach and his sense of values on and off the pitch make him the ideal person to take us forward.”

Emery left PSG this month after winning Ligue 1 and four domestic cups in two seasons in the French capital.

The Spaniard, who will be unveiled at a press conference at the Emirates later on Wednesday, will work in a head coach capacity at Arsenal.

It follows the appointments of Raul Sanllehi as head of football relations and Sven Mislintat as head of recruitment over the past year

– Europe League wins –

Before moving to France in 2016, Emery had a significant track record of success in Spain, winning three successive Europa League titles with Sevilla.

Arsenal have won three FA Cups in the past five seasons but have consistently failed to mount a credible title challenge since they were last crowned Premier League winners in 2004.

Wenger won three Premier Leagues and a record seven FA Cups during his time in charge, his crowning glory coming in the 2003-04 season when Arsenal won the league without losing a single game.

Arsenal legend Ian Wright, part of Wenger’s team which won the double in 1997-98, has warned Emery he must change the mindset of a complacent squad if he wants to hit the ground running.

“Trying to replace Arsene Wenger after 22 years with what he has done is a massive job in itself. It is not something which is going to be done overnight,” Wright said.

“We need to get our players competing, fit and with a different mindset to what they have had in recent years.

“If he comes in, can coach our players and find a couple of gems, then slowly but surely hopefully we will start getting back to where we want to be.”

Defeat to Atletico Madrid in the Europa League semi-finals earlier this month meant Arsenal missed out on Champions League qualification for a second consecutive season.

Emery has earned a reputation as one of Europe’s most studious coaches, demanding relentless effort on the training ground.

He has flourished within a structure similar to the one now in place at Arsenal, working well with recruitment director Monchi at Sevilla.

But according to reports, he will have just £50 million ($67 million) to spend on new players to revitalise his squad, putting him at a huge disadvantage compared with the cash-rich Manchester clubs.

Emery will have a handful of top stars to call on, including Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil, but the future of many of the squad members is uncertain, with the club in need of defensive reinforcements.

Wilson Tips Wenger For France Job

Arsenal’s coach Arsene Wenger from France looks on during the UEFA Europa League round of 16 first-leg football match AC Milan Vs Arsenal at the ‘San Siro Stadium’ in Milan on March 8, 2018.
MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP

 

Arsenal great Bob Wilson believes Arsene Wenger is destined to manage France one day as his reign at the Emirates draws to a close.

Wenger announced on Friday that his 22-year stay as Arsenal boss will conclude at the end of the season but Wilson, who made more than 300 appearances for Arsenal between 1963 and 1974 and worked as a goalkeeping coach under Wenger, does not believe the 68-year-old Frenchman will quit football.

“I know before that France has asked him (to become a manager),” Wilson told BBC radio.

“I have got this thing that he may go back to his home country and really bring around change in the French national side.”

David Seaman, another former Arsenal goalkeeper, agreed that Wenger will not call time on his career.

“I hope he goes on holiday, he looks like he needs a good break,” Seaman said. “But he has a passion for football, he’s totally obsessed with it.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he turned up at another club or in international football.”

A host of names have already been suggested as possible candidates to succeed Wenger at the Emirates Stadium.

Former Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira — head coach at New York City — ex-Barcelona boss Luis Enrique, Germany manager Joachim Low, Celtic’s Brendan Rodgers and Italian pair Carlo Ancelotti and Massimiliano Allegri are among those who have been linked.

“I wouldn’t think we’ll know before the end of the season, I don’t think that’s the Arsenal way,” Wilson said. “But hopefully it will be early in the close season so the players are understanding.

Seaman said: “I want a manager to come in who is tried and trusted and already proven. He needs a big statue to go in there and make demands.

“If he doesn’t get them he has to say ‘right, I’m not coming’ because the team needs a big overhaul.”

Wenger Hopes Britain-Russia Tensions Don’t Affect Arsenal Tie

FILE COPY Arsenal’s French manager Arsene Wenger arrives for the second leg of the Europa League Round of 32 football match between Arsenal and Ostersunds at the Emirates Stadium in London.        Photo Credit: Adrian Dennis / AFP

 

Arsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger, said Wednesday he hoped “complicated” political relations between Britain and Russia would not spill onto the football field when his side face CSKA Moscow in a European tie in London.

Britain has suspended high-level diplomatic contact with the Russian government after a former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with a nerve agent in the southern English cathedral city of Salisbury on March 4.

UK authorities have said the Skripals were poisoned with the Soviet-designed nerve agent Novichok and that it was “highly likely” the Russian government was behind the attack.

The crisis has led to a further deterioration in already strained relations between Russia and western nations, with both sides expelling scores of diplomats.

Even before the poisoning incident, concerns had been raised over the safety of England fans at this year’s World Cup in Russia.

Russian hooligans were involved in several clashes with rival supporters during the 2016 European Championships in France, with both England and Russia threatened with expulsion from the tournament because of their fans’ violence.

North London club Arsenal are at home to CSKA Moscow in the first leg of a Europa League quarter-final tie at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday.

Wenger, speaking to reporters at Arsenal’s training ground in London Colney, north of the capital, on Wednesday said the overall state of Anglo-Russian relations had not been a talking point for his squad.

“No, it hasn’t honestly. Nobody knows really what’s going on,” Wenger told a news conference.

“It looks more as if diplomatic relations between England (Britain) and Russia are a bit complicated.”

The veteran French manager added: “I just hope it won’t affect both ties (the second leg is in Moscow) and that it will not affect the supporters. Nor for the Russian people who come over here and not for English people who want to travel there.”

Recent diplomatic tensions increased last month when British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson compared Russia’s promotion of the World Cup to the way Adolf Hitler tried to manipulate the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

During an appearance before Britain’s Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Johnson agreed with a lawmaker’s suggestion that Russian President Vladimir Putin would use the World Cup, which runs from June 14 to July 15 “as a “PR exercise” to gloss over a “brutal, corrupt regime” in the same way Hitler used the Olympics as propaganda for his Nazi regime. ”

“I think the comparison with 1936 is certainly right,” Johnson said.

“I think it’s an emetic prospect, frankly, to think of Putin glorying in this sporting event.”

The Kremlin labelled Johnson’s remarks as “offensive and unacceptable”.

AFP

Silent Wenger’s Future Still Up For Debate

 

Arsenal’s French manager Arsene Wenger reacts in his seat during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium in London on March 1, 2018. Photo: Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Arsene Wenger may have lost his voice before Arsenal’s home match with Stoke City on Sunday but the discussion over his future is unlikely to be silenced just yet.

At the end of the season, Wenger will be halfway through a two-year contract many Gunners fans felt should never have been handed in the first place to a man who had not won the Premier League since 2004.

The 68-year-old declared during the international break that many of his critics were simply guilty of age discrimination rather than a genuine unhappiness with Arsenal’s current position.

North London giants Arsenal will kick off in the sixth position, 13 points adrift of fourth-placed local rivals Tottenham Hotspur, and therefore in danger of missing out on the Champions League for a second successive season.

Yet the Gunners can still pin their hopes on emulating Manchester United and qualifying for Europe’s elite trophy next term by winning the Europa League.

The visit of second-bottom Stoke is the third in a five-game sequence of home fixtures, with the first leg of the Europa League last-16 clash with CSKA Moscow following on Thursday.

Wenger’s throat problems saw assistant manager Steve Bould hastily thrust into media duties, and the former Arsenal defender, who also played for Stoke, his hometown club, was reluctant to take on the Frenchman’s mantle of providing intelligent yet often controversial commentary about all aspects of the game.

The only game Bould wanted to talk about was the Stoke one, but he did offer an insight into how Arsenal fans’ unrest was perceived from the bench.

‘Unbelievable stick’

“I admire him immensely,” Bould said of Wenger. “He takes unbelievable stick off an awful lot of people and he’s just one of the great managers. It’s a pleasure for me to sit next to him.

“He’s remarkable. Behind closed doors, I’ve never known someone who’s as hungry and determined to win football games. It’s as big as I’ve ever seen. He’s doing a great job, as far as I’m concerned and has done a great job for an awfully long time.”

There are many Arsenal fans who feel Wenger, appointed Arsenal manager in September 1996, has overstayed his welcome for an awfully long time, or that the title drought has been both awful and prolonged, but Bould was confident there would be plenty to cheer about before the end of the season.

“The more games we can win now the better the season becomes and what happens, in the end, is what happens,” he said.

Jack Wilshere has recovered from the knee problem that forced him to miss England’s friendlies with the Netherlands and Italy and striker Alexandre Lacazette is also back in full training following injury. The pair are more likely to be on the bench than start, however.

Meanwhile, Stoke manager Paul Lambert believes midfielder Joe Allen is so full of energy he could still star against Arsenal after rushing back from China.

Allen has been hugely influential in midfield since Lambert took over in December and recently featured in Wales’ 6-0 win against the hosts and their 1-0 defeat by Uruguay in a tournament in China.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if Joe Allen ran back from China and is still fit as a fiddle. He’s really brilliant — a manager’s dream,” said Lambert.

“I don’t know how he does it. I spoke to him after his long flight and it was a breath of fresh air talking to him — he looked great and he was in a good mood.

Relegation-threatened Stoke are three points shy of safety and go to the Emirates bidding to end a run of nine straight defeats at Arsenal.

At least Lambert knows how to win there, having guided Aston Villa to a 3-1 success in August 2013.

“For me, it’s fresh so I’m not thinking we haven’t won there — I don’t have anything in my head… just try to win,” he said.

AFP

Wenger Defiant As Brighton Rock Arsenal

 

Arsenal’s French manager Arsene Wenger gestures on the touchline during the match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Arsenal at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on March 4, 2018. Photo: Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Arsene Wenger insisted he was still the right man to turn around Arsenal’s fortunes after a 2-1 loss to Brighton on Sunday saw the Gunners suffer their fourth straight defeat in all competitions.

Successive 3-0 reverses by Manchester City, the first in the League Cup final and the second in the league, could be explained in part by the dominance of Pep Guardiola’s runaway table-toppers, but the losses to Ostersunds in the Europa League and to Brighton verged on embarrassing.

City won 1-0 at home to Chelsea later on Sunday, with Bernardo Silva scoring the decisive goal, as they moved a commanding 18 points clear of the chasing pack.

First-half goals from Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray put south coast club Brighton in command and, although Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pulled one back before the break, that was as good as it got for the Gunners.

Arsenal’s eighth loss since the turn of the year left their hopes of a top-four finish in tatters, with Wenger admitting it was “already gone” even before the Gunners were left 13 points adrift of the leading quartet.

Their best chance of qualifying for the elite and lucrative Champions League appears to lie instead in winning the second-tier Europa League, where Arsenal face Italian giants AC Milan in the first of a two-legged last-16 clash at the San Siro on Thursday.

Veteran French boss Wenger has been in charge at Arsenal since 1996 and it remains to be seen whether US-based owner Stan Kroenke has the stomach to sack a manager who has never given the slightest hint he will resign.

“It’s the first time its happened in my whole career and it’s not easy,” Wenger told Sky Sports. “I have enough experience and desire to turn things around. When the team struggles for confidence it’s even more difficult.”

‘Focus on the job’

As for suggestions Arsenal could no longer finish in the top four, Wenger replied: “I think it has already gone before but mathematically with five teams in front of us, we need them to collapse to think it will happen.”

And once again, amid reports of players’ meetings and a growing lack of boardroom backing, the 68-year-old Wenger made it clear he was not considering a future away from Arsenal.

“No. I think what I said before focus on the job, always you do the right thing and do the things that are right for the team.”

Petr Cech appeared to be partly at fault for both Brighton goals and afterwards the experienced goalkeeper tried to ease the pressure on Wenger by telling his Twitter followers: “If you want to win a game away from home in the best league in the world your GK (goalkeeper) can’t concede 2 goals like I did today.”

The win took Brighton seven points clear of the bottom three.

For the Seagulls, who face Manchester United in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, victory meant they had beaten a top-six side for the first time this season.

“What it feels at the moment is that this is a big win, particularly given who we were playing against,” said Brighton manager Chris Hughton.

‘In our hands’

At the Etihad, Bernardo Silva’s goal early in the second half gave City victory over a cautious Chelsea.

“It was so important, a win today is another step closer,” Guardiola told the BBC. “We need four victories to be champions, it is in our hands and if our behaviour is like today we will be champions.”

There was criticism of Chelsea manager Antonio Conte’s defensive tacics, but Guardiola said: “I never judge what the other guy does. Who can forget the same manager and almost same players were champions last year?”

Conte, however, was visibly affected by the death of Fiorentina defender Davide Astori.

Aged just 31, Astori died due to a suspected heart attack on Sunday.

“This is a tragedy and it really hurts me,” said Conte, who coached Astori when he was in charge of Italy.

“He was a great player but especially a fantastic guy. I stay close to his wife, parents and daughter. He was only 31 and it’s very difficult to explain this situation.”

AFP

Top-Four Finish ‘Nearly Impossible’ For Arsenal, Says Wenger

Arsenal’s French manager Arsene Wenger gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium in London on March 1, 2018. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Arsene Wenger admitted a top-four finish for Arsenal was now “nearly impossible” after the Gunners woes deepened following the 2-1 loss away to Brighton in the Premier League on Sunday.

Their fourth successive loss in all competitions fanned the flames of an already-intense debate surrounding the future of Arsenal manager Wenger, amid reports of players’ meetings and of a weakening in boardroom support for the Frenchman, who has reigned largely unchallenged since taking over at the north London club back in 1996.

Arsenal’s eighth loss since the turn of the year left them 13 points adrift of the fourth place that will secure automatic qualification for next season’s elite and lucrative Champions League.

‘Different worries’

“It is very difficult, nearly impossible now, we are too far behind,” Wenger told the BBC when asked about Arsenal’s top-four prospects.

“We need two teams to collapse, not one. But at the moment we have different worries in how to come back to winning a game,” he added following a match that saw Brighton move seven points clear of the bottom three.

Wenger (L), Arsenal’s assistant manager Steve Bould (C) and Head of medical services Colin Lewin react in their seats as Brighton lead 2-0, during the match against Brighton and Hove Albion.
Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech tried to ease the pressure on Wenger by saying he was responsible for both of Brighton’s goals scored by Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray in a first half where Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pulled one back for Arsenal shortly before the break.

“If you want to win a game away from home in the best league in the world your GK (goalkeeper) can’t concede 2 goals like I did today,” former Chelsea favourite Cech tweeted. “It’s simply not possible … The team fought back but the damage was done.”

If ever Wenger needed his side to make a solid, composed start to the game, this was it.

Having been outplayed in back to back 3-0 defeats by Manchester City, first in the League Cup final and then, four days later, in the league fixture at the Emirates Stadium, the Gunners badly needed a lift ahead of Thursday’s Europa League meeting with AC Milan.

Instead, Arsenal betrayed the defensive frailties that have been a feature of their campaign and allowed Brighton to take control.

It took Chris Hughton’s side just seven minutes to open up the Arsenal backline, with Ezequiel Schelotto’s powerful run down the left eventually leading to Pascal Gross’s cross forcing a corner.

Gross then delivered the set-piece toward the far post where Shane Duffy rose above Cech’s unconvincing attempt to punch and headed down for defensive partner Dunk to hook home.

The goal triggered the first chants of “you’re getting sacked in the morning” directed at Wenger from the home supporters but alarmingly for the manager, prompted little response from his side.

Instead, Arsenal were repeatedly pushed back with Cech forced to save well from Gross before Dunk wastefully headed over the bar.

Arsenal’s lacklustre display was summed up by the way Alex Iwobi was easily dispossessed inside his own half by Anthony Knockaert who was denied only by another good save from Cech.

Worse was to come for Arsenal in the 26th minute when Laurent Koscielny gave the ball away before Shkodran Mustafi could not reach Gross’s pinpoint cross, allowing Murray a free header that the striker directed past Cech for his 11th league goal of the season.

Nervous Brighton

Aubameyang’s reply, shortly before half-time, had the effect of quietening those fans who had taunted Wenger and injected a sense of nervousness into Brighton’s play.

The former Borussia Dortmund striker reacted well to turn home Granit Xhaka’s drilled pass in the 43rd minute and Arsenal might have been level had Laurent Koscielny not headed against the post in first-half added-time.

The interval came at the right time for Brighton and while the Seagulls didn’t develop the same momentum at the start of the second period, they again showed they could stretch the Arsenal defence.

The Gunners, though, stood firm and with Mesut Ozil becoming more prominent, stepped up their efforts to find an equaliser.

Ozil had been quiet in the first half but a powerful run and shot brought a fine save from Mat Ryan before the German’s threaded pass almost let in Aubameyang for his second goal. But that was close as Arsenal came to an equaliser.

AFP

No Respite For Wenger As Brighton Defeat Arsenal

Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger (L), Arsenal’s assistant manager Steve Bould (C) and Head of medical services Colin Lewin react in their seats as Brighton take a 2-0 lead, during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Arsenal at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on March 4, 2018.
Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

 

Arsene Wenger’s problems deepened as Arsenal lost 2-1 away to Brighton in the Premier League on Sunday — the Gunners’ fourth successive loss in all competitions.

The future of Arsenal manager Wenger has been the subject of fierce debate amid reports of players’ meetings and of a weakening in boardroom support for the Frenchman

And Arsenal’s eighth loss since the turn of the year and one that leaves them 13 points adrift of fourth place – will do nothing to strengthen the position of the veteran manager, who has reigned largely unchallenged since taking over at north London club Arsenal in 1996.

First-half goals from Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray secured the win that moved south coast club Brighton seven points clear of the bottom three, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s strike immediately before the break the visitors’ only reply.

If ever Wenger needed his side to make a solid, composed start to the game, this was it.

Having been outplayed in back to back 3-0 defeats by Manchester City, first in the League Cup final and then, four days later, in the league fixture at the Emirates Stadium, the Gunners badly needed a lift ahead of Thursday’s Europa League meeting with AC Milan.

Instead, Arsenal betrayed the defensive frailties that have been a feature of their campaign and allowed Brighton to take control.

It took Chris Hughton’s side just seven minutes to open up the Arsenal backline, with Ezequiel Schelotto’s powerful run down the left eventually leading to Pascal Gross’s cross forcing a corner.

Gross then delivered the set-piece toward the far post where Shane Duffy rose above Petr Cech’s unconvincing attempt to punch and headed down for defensive partner Dunk to hook home.

The goal triggered the first chants of “you’re getting sacked in the morning” directed at Wenger from the home supporters but alarmingly for the manager, prompted little response from his side.

Instead, Arsenal were repeatedly pushed back with Cech forced to save well from Gross before Dunk wastefully headed over the bar.

Arsenal’s lacklustre display was summed up by the way Alex Iwobi was easily dispossessed inside his own half by Anthony Knockaert who was denied only by another good save from Cech.

Worse was to come for Arsenal in the 26th minute when Laurent Koscielny gave the ball away before Shkodran Mustafi could not reach Gross’s pinpoint cross, allowing Murray a free header that the striker directed past Cech for his 11th league goal of the season.

A sense of nervousness

Aubameyang’s reply, shortly before half-time, had the effect of quietening those fans who had taunted Wenger and injected a sense of nervousness into Brighton’s play.

The former Borussia Dortmund striker reacted well to turn home Granit Xhaka’s drilled pass in the 43rd minute and Arsenal might have been level had Laurent Koscielny not headed against the post in first-half added-time.

The interval came at the right time for Brighton and while the Seagulls didn’t develop the same momentum at the start of the second period, they again showed they could stretch the Arsenal defence.

The Gunners, though, stood firm and with Mesut Ozil becoming more prominent, stepped up their efforts to find an equaliser.

Ozil had been quiet in the first half but a powerful run and shot brought a fine save from Mat Ryan before the German’s threaded pass almost let in Aubameyang for his second goal.

But Arsenal were unable to sustain the pressure needed to break Brighton down for a second time.

AFP

More Woe For Wenger As Man City Thrash Arsenal Again

Manchester City’s midfielder David Silva (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring their second goal.  Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Manchester City piled more misery on beleaguered Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger with a 3-0 humbling of the Gunners on Thursday to open up a 16-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

Four days on from crumbling meekly to a 3-0 defeat as City won their first silverware of the Pep Guardiola era in the League Cup final, Arsenal disintegrated once more as the visitors scored three times in the opening 33 minutes in front of a sparse crowd at the Emirates.

Bernardo Silva, David Silva and Leroy Sane were on target to inflict a third straight defeat on Arsenal and leave them 10 points adrift of the Premier League top four in sixth place.

And a night to forget for Arsenal was complete when £56 million ($79 million) club record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saw his second-half penalty saved by Ederson.

By contrast, City’s cruise towards the title continues unabated despite again not needing to hit the heights of their displays earlier in the campaign to up the pressure on Wenger’s position once more.

Manchester City’s Leroy Sane beats Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka during the game.  Glyn KIRK / AFP

Sub-zero temperatures and the apathy caused by Arsenal’s display at Wembley on Sunday saw thousands of seats go unoccupied at the Emirates.

The lines around the pitch were painted blue ahead of kick-off in case an expected snow shower covered the field.

Unfortunately for the home fans that did brave the cold, that was the only novelty on a night of familiar failings from Wenger’s men, who have now lost seven times in 12 games this year.

Arsenal had even started the brighter as Ederson prevented Vincent Kompany turning into his own net before Henrikh Mkhitaryan stung the palms of the Brazilian goalkeeper with a drive from the edge of the box.

However, they never recovered from the sucker punch of City’s opener on 15 minutes as Sane weaved away from three Arsenal challenges on the left and teed up Bernardo Silva to cut inside onto his favoured left foot and curl into the top corner.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger could not get his men to avoid falling to City for the second time in four days by the same scoreline. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Ederson produced two more decent stops from Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey before City showed their more clinical touch in the final third just before the half-hour mark.

Sane was again involved before Sergio Aguero played in David Silva to slot home at Petr Cech’s near post.

City then exhibited their speed on the counter-attack for a third five minutes later as Aguero, Kevin de Bruyne and Kyle Walker combined to set up Sane to tap home his 12th goal of the season.

The third goal was the cue for many of those Arsenal fans who did show up to leave, whilst the delighted travelling City fans taunted Wenger by pleading for the Frenchman to extend his 22-year reign in charge.

Aguero was looking for his 200th City goal and should have had it before half-time when his shot from De Bruyne’s cut-back was placed too close to Cech.

Arsenal’s anguish was rounded off seven minutes into the second period when Nicolas Otamendi chopped down Mkhitaryan inside the area.

Aubameyang took responsiblity from the spot, but the lack of conviction in his penalty reflected Arsenal’s performance as Ederson saved comfortably low to his left.

Aguero was made to wait for his double century in City colours by a wonderful save from Cech before the Argentine was handed a rest for the final eight minutes.

However, City’s wait for a fifth league title won’t last long with a maximum of just five more wins needed from their remaining 10 games.

AFP

Kane Is Europe’s Best, Wenger Admits Despite Derby Tension

(FILE PHOTO) Arsenal’s French manager Arsene Wenger 
Oli SCARFF / AFP

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger put North London rivalries aside as he accepted Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane is the most in-form striker in Europe on Thursday.

Kane, 24, became the second fastest player to ever reach 100 Premier League goals by netting his 31st of the season in just 32 games to salvage a point for Spurs from a thrilling 2-2 draw at Liverpool last weekend.

“If you look at the numbers, no, because he has high numbers,” Wenger said when asked if there was a better striker in Europe at the moment than Kane.

The England international spoke this week of how being released from Arsenal’s academy as an eight-year-old left him with a “chip on his shoulder”.

Kane has more than taken revenge with a fine record against Arsenal, scoring six goals in seven North London derbies.

Wenger broke Arsenal’s transfer record last week to add more firepower to the Gunners quest to beat Tottenham to a top-four finish by splashing out £56 million ($78 million) on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

And the Frenchman is hoping his new front line of Aubameyang, Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan — who shone in a 5-1 thrashing of Everton in their fist outing together — can outgun Kane when the sides meet on Saturday.

“I believe what you want in a game like that is to keep him quiet and for our strikers to express their talent.”

More than local bragging rights are on offer with Arsenal trailing fifth-placed Spurs by four points in the race for a return to the Champions League place with just 12 Premier League games of the season remaining.

“It’s a big game because we are behind in the table and we have to catch up,” added Wenger.

“It is more important for us to come back mathematically than it is emotionally-charged.”

Following their controversial draw at Anfield that saw Spurs win two late penalties and Dele Alli booked for diving, Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino defended his players by criticising the fixation with diving in English football.

Yet Wenger, who also spoke out against Manchester City’s England international Raheem Sterling earlier this season, believes it is English players who have become the “masters” of diving.

“I remember there were tremendous cases here when foreign players did it but I must say the English players have learned very quickly and they might even be the masters now.”

AFP

Friends Reunited As Wenger Salutes Arsenal New Boys

FILE PHOTO

Arsene Wenger says the instinctive understanding between old friends Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan can transform Arsenal’s turbulent season.

Aubameyang marked his Arsenal debut with a goal in Saturday’s 5-1 demolition of Everton, while Mkhitaryan provided three assists in his first start for the Gunners.

The swaggering show from the former Borussia Dortmund team-mates was a much-needed boost for Arsenal boss Wenger after a difficult January that saw Alexis Sanchez force through a move to Manchester United, while the north Londoners struggled on the pitch.

Gabon striker Aubameyang joined from Dortmund on deadline day for a club record £56 million, reuniting with Armenia midfielder Mkhitaryan, who arrived earlier in the window from United in a swap deal for Sanchez.

While Aaron Ramsey scored his first career hat-trick against Everton, it was the promising partnership between Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan that stole the show.

“Overall, the two players integrated well into our game and they looked as if they had played for us forever,” said Wenger.

“They have similar qualities to what our game is about. Technically, they are good. They are quick and overall it was a first convincing performance.”

Aubameyang was a constant menace with his pace and energy and, while his goal was fortunate given he was offside when he ran onto Mkhitaryan’s pass, there was enough quality on display to suggest he may keep the misfiring Alexandre Lacazette on the bench for the foreseeable future.

“The quality of his movement and finishing was excellent. He gives problems to defenders with his movement, he is always looking to go into spaces that are difficult to cover,” Wenger said.

“When he gets ahead it is hard to catch him. When we understand him better we can make more of that.

“He is not at his best physically and still has some work to do on that, but the price is reasonable I think, overall for that quality of striker in today’s market.”

Mkhitaryan struggled to make an impact at United, but he looked revitalised at the Emirates Stadium, linking with Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil to devastating effect as Arsenal tore Everton to pieces with four goals in the first half.

“He is a good link player and he works very hard as well,” Wenger said.

“Overall, I think he looked well-accepted by the rest of the team and was understanding very well how we want to play. I can say is that it was a convincing debut.”

Ice-cool Ramsey 

Wenger also reserved praise for Ramsey as the Wales midfielder finally took his manager’s advice to stay cool in front of goal.

“I felt always — when I watched the games after on the video — you think always that he is there in a good position in the box and I felt always that he had between 10 and 15 goals at least in his locker,” Wenger said.

“He didn’t do it until now because I think he rushed, sometimes, with his finishing. He looks much calmer.”

Everton boss Sam Allardyce was furious with his side’s display as they tarnished his 500th match as a Premier League manager.

“I’m angry because accepting an instruction is the players’ responsibility at this level of football,” he said.

“We tried to give those instructions. There was a very good performance by Swansea on Tuesday against Arsenal and we based our plan on that.

“We set out to play like that, unfortunately, Swansea played at the top of their game and we played at the bottom.

“That is why we were tumbling goals left, right and center with our pathetic performance. None of it was any good. All the team played crap.”

AFP