MATCH REPORT: Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool

A late Alexandre Lacazette strike earned Arsenal a point at the Emirates Stadium, as both the Gunners and Liverpool kept their unbeaten runs intact with a 1-1 draw, this evening.

Following an intense first half, the Reds broke the deadlock midway through the second period via James Milner.

Alexandre Lacazette would steal the headlines in the 82nd minute, however, with his 6th goal of the season, as the North Londoners made it 13 games without defeat.

There were a couple of surprises in store for Arsenal at the back before the game, as Héctor Bellerín made his return to the first-team, followed by a first involvement for Sead Kolasinac in the Premier League.

The Bosnian was alert early on to supply Lacazette with a low cross at the near post, with the Frenchman unable to get enough behind his subtle first-time effort to overcome Alisson.

Arsenal unlocked the Liverpool back-line once more in the 14th minute, courtesy of Mesut Özil’s dummy through to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who’d see his shot blocked dangerously into the side-netting by Joe Gomez.

The former Borussia Dortmund man turned provider moments later for Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the 15th minute, popping up alone inside the box before heading just wide in the presence of the on-rushing Alisson.

Liverpool could and should’ve taken the lead through Sadio Mané in the 18th minute, however, as he followed up Roberto Firmino’s effort off the post, but the linesman was quick to chalk the goal off for an incorrect offside decision.

Jürgen Klopp’s men doubled up on the danger posed with a ball over the top for Virgil van Dijk to bring down and take aim at goal, prior to Bernd Leno’s stop.

Arsenal pressed on again in the latter stages of the first half, with Lacazette going close with a shot across goal from an acute angle before van Dijk could offer the Emirates another scare with a flick-on against the post, forcing both sides to settle for the stalemate going into the break.

The Gunners grew further in authority in the second period, but it was Liverpool, against the run of play, who broke he deadlock on the hour-mark, as Milner picked up the scraps from Leno’s miscalculated intervention from a cross to fire in from the edge of the box.

Arsenal replied through Torreira almost immediately, breaking through the Reds midfield before lacking the direction behind his lofted strike to beat Alisson.

Van Dijk threatened again inside the Arsenal area, rising highest in the 74th minute before seeing Leno tip the ball over the bar for another Liverpool corner.

Joy for the Gunners finally came in the 82nd minute, as Alex Iwobi set Lacazette up to take a touch away from Alisson and the goal, before returning to smash a shot deep into the back of the net.

The hosts sensed there was more in the game for them, as Özil layed Bellerín off with a cute cut-back prior to the defender’s curler roaming wide, but neither side would manage to go beyond a 1-1 draw come full-time.

By Patrick Ribeiro (@P_SRibeiro)

Player Ratings: Bernd Leno (6) – Héctor Bellerín (7), Shkodran Mustafi (7), Rob Holding (7), Sead Kolasinac (7) – Lucas Torreira (8), Granit Xhaka (7) – Henrikh Mkhitaryan (5), Mesut Özil (7), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (7) – Alexandre Lacazette (6)

Subs: Alex Iwobi (7), Aaron Ramsey (6), Danny Welbeck (5)

MATCH REPORT: Cardiff City 2-3 Arsenal

Arsenal have landed their first away victory of the season in a five-goal-thriller versus Cardiff City, as the Gunners rose to defeat Neil Warnock’s side 3-2 in Cardiff, this afternoon.

A goal apiece saw both sides go into the break locked at 1-1, but the Gunners later pulled in front through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the second half.

The Bluebirds battled to claw a second equaliser through Danny Ward, but it was Alexandre Lacazette who’d have the final say in the 82nd minute, firing the Gunners to a late win.

A return to the starting eleven was on the cards for Mesut Özil, who was followed into Unai Emery’s plans by the introduction of Lacazette, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi missed out.

Nervy moments at the back almost allowed Cardiff to find the opener early on, as Harry Arter intercepted Petr Čech’s pass before blazing a good opportunity over in the 7th minute.

Arsenal hit back at the other end, with Aaron Ramsey latching onto Lacazette’s flick to force Neil Etheridge into an uncomfortable save.

A goal came soon after for Emery’s men, as Mustafi edged ahead of his marker to power Granit Xhaka’s corner into the back of the net with his head, giving the Gunners the lead in the 12th minute.

Chaos at the back for the Bluebirds almost allowed Arsenal to grab a second, as Nacho Monreal struggled to overcome Etheridge following Bruno Ecuele-Manga’s gift.

Cardiff’s Danny Ward came inches away from finding an equaliser in the 19th minute, arriving just a fraction too late to Bobby Reid’s low cross, with Junior Hoilett later missing the target from the follow-up.

With half-an-hour of the game gone, Lacazette came close to doubling Arsenal’s lead with a right-footed shot from the edge of the box, hitting the face of the post before the ball was cleared to safety.

The visitors’ lead wouldn’t last until the break, however, as Hoilett intercepted Xhaka’s cross-field pass to send Joe Bennett down the left flank, as Victor Camarasa popped up on the receiving end of the full-back’s cross before thrashing a shot past Čech.

It was through Lacazette that the danger resumed in the second period, with the French striker firing over acrobatically from close range in the 50th minute.

Mustafi was out to repeat the dosage from the first-half, this time sneaking in behind Sol Bamba to head at goal prior to Etheridge’s save in the 53rd minute.

No less than ten minutes later, Arsenal found themselves back in front through Aubameyang, as the Gabonese forward slotted his shot into the bottom-left corner from the edge of the box to get off the mark this season.

Cardiff’s bounce-back trailed the North Londoners’ lead once more, however, as Ward reacted first to a loose ball inside the box by heading an effort in off the inside of the post, with 20 minutes of normal time left on the clock.

But the twists kept coming at the Cardiff City Stadium, with Arsenal reclaiming the lead for a third time through Lacazette in the 82nd minute, rifling his shot past Etheridge from a tight angle.

The danger still lurked in Arsenal’s box, but Sean Morrison rose to head his effort over the bar in Cardiff’s best opportunity to salvage a point, as the Gunners dragged a 3-2 away victory over the line.

By Patrick Ribeiro

(@P_SRibeiro)

Player Ratings: Petr Čech (6) – Héctor Bellerín (6), Shkodran Mustafi (6), Sokratis (6), Nacho Monreal (6) – Mattéo Guendouzi (6), Granit Xhaka (6) – Mesut Özil (7), Aaron Ramsey (7), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (6) – Alexandre Lacazette (8)

Subs: Lucas Torreira (6), Danny Welbeck (-), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (-)

MATCH REPORT: Arsenal 5-0 Burnley

Arsenal celebrated Arsène Wenger’s final game at the Emirates Stadium with a 5-0 win over Burnley for the Premier League, as a sell-out crowd said their goodbyes to their manager.

First-half goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette set Arsenal up for a big afternoon in north London, as Wenger’s men took a 2-0 lead into half-time.

Sead Kolasinac and Alex Iwobi doubled the Gunners’ lead to 4-0 throughout a dominant second-half display, leaving Aubameyang to add the finishing touches to a 5-0 victory with his brace.

In Mesut Özil’s absence, Arsenal paired Aubameyang with Lacazette in attack, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan also returned to the first XI.

The two forwards took just 14 minutes to combine to great effect, with Aubameyang popping up in the six-yard-box to tap in Lacazette’s driven cross and place the hosts a goal up.

Lacazette came close to assisting Mkhitaryan in the 33rd minute, having been unleashed down the right flank by Granit Xhaka’s toe-poke, but the ex-Borussia Dortmund man could only steer his volley over the bar.

Mkhitaryan neared joy once more ten minutes later when firing a deflected shot, as Nick Pope reacted well to delay conceding a second on the brink of half time.

Lacazette wouldn’t be stopped, however, as the north Londoners entered the interval with a 2-0 lead after the Frenchman’s volleyed finish from inside the box, courtesy of Héctor Bellerín’s pull-back.

Arsenal came out firing with yet more troublesome wing-play in the second half, with Aubameyang setting Wilshere up before the latter clipped his effort over the bar.

Burnley replied through Sam Vokes’ close-range header in the 48th minute, requiring Petr Čech to be alert with a well-positioned save.

Before the Clarets were able to build on their response, Arsenal powered on to make it 3-0 through Kolasinac, firing low and hard to beat Pope at his far-post in the 53rd minute.

Mkhitaryan edged himself closer to a goal just a minute later with a curling effort from outside of the box, floating mere inches away from its desired destination.

Iwobi then inflated Arsenal’s score-line with a fourth in the 64th minute, receiving Aubameyang’s pass inside the box before firing deep into Pope’s net.

The provider morphed back into goalscorer in the 74th minute, as Aubameyang was able to divert his first-time finish away from the goalkeeper and into the top corner from Bellerín’s ball into the box.

Danny Welbeck was unlucky not to have bagged a goal himself after coming off the bench, with the post denying an arrowed volley from firing in before the full-time whistle.

By Patrick Ribeiro

(@P_SRibeiro)

Player Ratings: Petr Čech (7) – Héctor Bellerín (7), Calum Chambers (7), Konstantinos Mavropanos (8), Sead Kolasinac (7) – Granit Xhaka (8), Jack Wilshere (7) – Henrikh Mkhitaryan (7), Alex Iwobi (6), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (8) – Alexandre Lacazette (7)

Subs: Danny Welbeck (6), Aaron Ramsey (6), Per Mertesacker (-)

MATCH REPORT: Arsenal 1-1 Atl. Madrid

Arsenal will take a 1-1 draw with them to Spain next week after a late Antoine Griezmann equaliser for ten-man Atlético Madrid complicated the Gunners’ hopes of progressing through to the Europa League final.

The La Liga outfit were reduced to ten man as early as the 9th minute, following Sime Vrsaljko’s second bookable offence, enabling Arsenal to dominate without reward throughout the first half.

Arsène Wenger’s men then took the lead on the hour-mark through Alexandre Lacazette, but a series of unfortunate events at the back later enabled Griezmann to bag a precious away goal for his side, as the score at the Emirates Stadium concluded itself at 1-1.

The Gunners welcomed Mesut Özil and Jack Wilshere back for the tie against Atlético, who made changes of their own in opting for Kevin Gameiro over the unfit Diego Costa in attack.

A strong start from the hosts saw Arsenal pinch an early yellow card out of the referee after Sime Vrsaljko’s late foul on Wilshere.

The north Londoners turned their appetite into chances in the 7th minute, with Lacazette going close on two separate occasions with a volley against the outside of the post prior to the Frenchman testing Jan Oblak with a header.

Lacazette was brought into action again in the 10th minute, this time suffering a bad challenge from the already yellow-carded Vrsaljko, who, along with Diego Simeone sometime later, would be sent off as a consequence.

Arsenal edged themselves closer to the lead, firstly through Welbeck’s side-footed strike inside the box before Laurent Koscielny could slice a back-post volley wide from the subsequent corner.

Atlético replied to the hosts’ pressure in the 37th minute through a forceful run by Thomas Partey, setting up a half-volley on the edge of the box for Griezmann to fire at David Ospina.

With the Spaniards remaining solid on either side of half-time, Arsenal were finally able to crack the code in the 61st minute through Lacazette, assisted by Wilshere’s lifted cross for the ex-Olympique Lyonnais forward to head in.

The France international came close once more with a glancing header from a corner in the 70th minute, as Arsenal went out in search of a second goal.

Atlético looked towards Griezmann with a hopeful long ball and it was there that the forward was able to make Arsenal pay for their missed opportunities, as he bettered the likes of Koscielny, Ospina and Shkodran Mustafi with fortune to tap in the equaliser in the 83rd minute.

Ramsey could’ve placed the Gunners back in front in the 86th minute with a dangerous header inside the box, but Oblak starred once more en route to a 1-1 draw at full-time.

By Patrick Ribeiro

(@P_SRibeiro)

Player Ratings: David Ospina (7) – Héctor Bellerín (6), Shkodran Mustafi (6), Laurent Koscielny (7), Nacho Monreal (7) – Granit Xhaka (7), Aaron Ramsey (7) – Mesut Özil (7), Jack Wilshere (7), Danny Welbeck (7) – Alexandre Lacazette (7)

Subs: (none).

MATCH REPORT: Arsenal 4-1 West Ham United

Arsenal returned to winning ways in the Premier League with a 4-1 victory over West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium, thanks to a late flurry of goals in the final 15 minutes.

The Gunners took the lead early in the second half before Marko Arnautovic could cancel out their one-goal-advantage, accrued by Nacho Monreal.

Miscommunication at the back for West Ham enabled Aaron Ramsey’s cross to find the back of the net as late as the 78th minute, placing Arsenal ahead.

Two further goals from Alexandre Lacazette then pumped up the scoreline, as the hosts signed out with a comprehensive win.

With the clock ticking down on Arsène Wenger’s stay at the club, the Frenchman gave Danny Welbeck the nod alongside Lacazette in attack to leave Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the bench for the first time since joining the club.

Following a positive start, Laurent Koscielny picked the game up with a dangerous header from a corner, meanwhile the likes of João Mário and Arnautovic had their own sightings of David Ospina’s goal at the other end.

As Arsenal’s grip on the game began to wear off, Granit Xhaka looked to push the Gunners back on top with a free-kick in the 33rd minute, saved by Joe Hart, before Welbeck could spark danger a minute later with a header over the bar.

The North Londoners closed out the first half with a moment of concern for the injured Mohamed Elneny, who was stretchered off for Ainsley Maitland-Niles before half-time.

It was Arsenal who again commenced the second period brightest, this time with reward, as Monreal put Wenger’s men ahead when guiding a volley past Joe Hart from a corner in the 51st minute.

West Ham we’re able to bite back through Arnautovic, smashing a shot across Ospina’s goal and equalising for the Hammers in the 64th minute.

The visitors required an important save from Hart to deny Xhaka in the 72nd minute, as the Arsenal man aimed to find the far corner with a low drive at goal from the edge of the box.

Hart repeated his dosage, this time tipping Welbeck’s curling effort around the post for an Arsenal corner in the 78th minute.

Via a good slice of fortune, the Gunners would finally find another way past Hart, as Ramsey’s in-swinging cross deceived the England goalkeeper and his defence to find the far corner, placing Arsenal a goal ahead.

Lacazette increased the hosts’ lead with a fierce shot from the right in the 85th minute, just moments before bagging a brace to make it 4-1.

Arsenal’s win sees them edge closer to securing 6th place, following Burnley’s 1-1 draw away to Stoke City.

By Patrick Ribeiro

(@P_SRibeiro)

Player Ratings: David Ospina (6) – Héctor Bellerín (6), Shkodran Mustafi (5), Laurent Koscielny (7), Nacho Monreal (7) – Mohamed Elneny (6), Granit Xhaka (7) – Alex Iwobi (5), Aaron Ramsey (8), Danny Welbeck (7) – Alexandre Lacazette (7)

Subs: Ainsley Maitland-Niles (6), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (7), Calum Chambers (-)

How Will Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fit into Arsenal’s Starting XI?

It took some time, but Arsenal have finally completed the signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund for a club record £56 million fee. The 28-year-old joins the Gunners with a reputation as one of the deadliest forwards in Europe, having scored a whopping 141 goals in all competitions for Dortmund since signing in 2013. Aubameyang’s goalscoring prowess and bonafide star status makes him an ideal replacement for Alexis Sanchez, who joined Manchester United last week in a swap deal that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan sign for Arsenal.

In replacing his most productive player with two attackers that previously combined for 56 goal contributions in a single league season (see Borussia Dortmund 2015-16), Arsene Wenger has come out of a sticky situation with some credit. Now, Le Professeur must figure out how to fit his two shiny new signings into a lineup that already contains Mesut Özil and previous club record signing, Alexandre Lacazette. Here are a few different tactical setups Wenger might go for as he aims to please his star players and maximize Arsenal’s attacking output.

 

4 – 2 – 2 – 2

Arsenal - Football tactics and formations

A formation that is as exciting as it is unlikely for Wenger to try, the 4-2-2-2 would see Arsenal essentially field a front four of their attacking talent. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mesut Özil take up free roles on either wing, cutting inside to combine with the two forwards while the wing-backs overlap to provide width.

Although he hasn’t been as prolific as fans anticipated, Alexandre Lacazette has proven that he is more than just a poacher, showing excellent holdup play and ability to keep the ball in tight areas around the box. The Frenchman plays slightly behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who thrives as the team’s target man and would benefit from another forward to keep defenders occupied.

The overwhelming amount of attacking impetus could potentially unbalance Arsenal’s shape, meaning the midfield pairing would need to be positionally disciplined and defensively aware. Mohammed Elneny may be Arsenal’s least exciting midfielder, but he could be the key to this formation succeeding. The Egyptian international excelled in a defensive midfield role in Arsenal’s Carabao Cup semifinal win over Chelsea, and would take up the same responsibilities in a 4-2-2-2. One of Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, or Granit Xhaka would partner him in the middle of the park to keep things ticking and link midfield to attack. If the Gunners are particularly struggling to retain possession in midfield, Mesut Özil could tuck in from the right side to work some of his German magic.

While the 4-2-2-2 may appear to be top-heavy on paper, it could get the most out of Arsenal’s attackers if executed properly. Arsene Wenger is unlikely to revert to what is essentially a modified 4-4-2, but his recent tactical versatility could mean we’re in for a surprise.

 

4 – 3 – 3

Arsenal - Football tactics and formations

Arsene Wenger might not have to switch from his beloved 4-3-3 to fit his two new signings into the starting lineup.

Again, Mkhitaryan plays on the left wing, the position Thomas Tuchel used him in during his remarkable 2015-16 campaign with Dortmund. The Armenian notched up 21 goals and 26 assists in all competitions that season, and Wenger will hope he can regain that form by playing in his favored position in a team that suits his playing style.

There is one notable difference between this setup and a classic 4-3-3, and that’s the right wing position. Here, Aubameyang will be less of a traditional right winger and more of a right-sided shadow striker, making runs off of Lacazette and drifting into dangerous positions. As he will provide little support for Hector Bellerin on the right flank, Mohammed Elneny (or the equally mobile Ainsley Maitland-Niles) is again key as he will be tasked with protecting the right-back.

In theory, this formation could work, but playing your new record-signing striker on the wing—albeit not in a traditional winger’s role—could definitely be an issue. That said, it wouldn’t be unlike Arsene Wenger to stick to his system and ask players to adjust their positions to suit it—watch this space.

 

3 – 5 – 2

Arsenal - Football tactics and formations

For the first time in basically forever, Arsene Wenger is showing a willingness to switch his formation on a match-by-match basis based on the opposition. At long last, Arsenal (sort of) does tactics!

Earlier this season Wenger tended to play a 3-4-3, especially when he thought his side needed extra defensive support which, in the case of Arsenal, is just about every match. Recently, however, he has opted for his trusty 4-3-3—but the need to accommodate two forwards could see a three-at-the-back formation used more regularly.

A 3-5-2, for example, would look similar to the previously used 3-4-3, but with an attacking midfielder playing behind two strikers rather than two attacking midfielders behind one striker. The prospect of Mesut Özil pinging through balls to Lacazette and Aubameyang is enough to make Arsenal fans quickly forget about that strange Chilean who loved his dogs a bit too much. Mkhitaryan, then, can take up a position in midfield where he’s able to combine with Özil and burst forward when the opportunity arises. He’ll have to be a bit more disciplined, though, as Wenger said he sees the 29-year-old as a potential “box-to-box player.”

Although the prospect of Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan, Lacazette, and Özil in the same lineup is truly tantalizing, Arsene Wenger faces a genuine challenge in fitting all four of them into a functional starting eleven. It’s a good headache to have, and if the Frenchman gets it right he may just have the scariest attack in the Premier League. In what’s turning out to be an increasingly grim season, things might be a little less depressing if the club is at least fun to watch. After all, isn’t that the whole point?

 

Follow me on Twitter @MattCelly

 

Should Arsenal Have Sold Alexis In The Summer?

10th July 2014, a day that the Arsenal fans were absolutely elated. Arsenal had signed Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez to come and play at the Emirates Stadium. The potential partnership with Mesut Ozil was the stuff of dreams after the Gunners faithful had to suffer through years of Denilson and Chamakh expected to lead us to glory. But after two FA Cups and a Community Shield together, it seems the partnership is coming to an end as speculation has increased that Sanchez is on his way to Manchester City. After a long summer transfer saga where Arsenal failed to cut bait with the Chilean, should they have let him leave rather than hanging on to futile hope that he would sign a contract?

Over the course of the summer transfer window, Manchester City aggressively went after Alexis Sanchez offering Arsenal £60M in the process. Wenger remained dogged in his approach maintaining that Alexis will be at Arsenal come the end of his contract. After having suffered through years of seeing his best players sold after entering the final two years of their contract, it’s criminal to think that Wenger would allow it to happen again. Yet here he was, grovelling at the feet of players, attempting to accommodate them into the team thereby stroking their egos and inflating their thoughts on how important they were.

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Jack Wilshere was reported to have had a bust-up with Sanchez over his attitude

It was clear for everyone to see that from the middle of last season up until now, Sanchez’s frustrations have been clear to see. He has upstaged his teammates on numerous occasions when he doesn’t get the ball, throwing multiple temper tantrums and grinding the gears of not only the fans, but reportedly the players aswell. Reports had surfaced that some of the players had grown tired of his antics on the pitch and were bothered by his poor attitude on the pitch. What we have discovered over the years is Wenger is very hesitant to change things unless blatantly obvious and this was another one of those occasions. Sanchez should have been moved to the bench and forced to show an attitude that was conducive to the success of the team but alas, it never happened.

However, to put my Wenger agenda aside and be somewhat sympathetic to the position that he was in, I highly doubt he saw these kinds of performances coming from Sanchez. After acquiring Alexandre Lacazette, the opportunity to partner him with Ozil and Sanchez was too great to resist and the hope that the trio could park some chemistry that could sway Sanchez to stay might have been the dream. But it’s clear that the Chilean has decided that Arsenal aren’t in his long-term plans and he seems determined to reignite his relationship with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.

Image result for alexis sanchez

Sanchez has been a shell of the performer he was last season

Now, should Wenger have sold Sanchez in the summer based on his performances from this season, yes. But do I blame for holding on to Sanchez due to not having found a clear successor, no. I strongly believe that if the offer had come in earlier in the window, the Gunners would have been forced to sell and would have had ample time to find someone to come in. But due to the timing of the bid from City, the scramble was on and the Arsenal board couldn’t get it done.

But the bigger problem here is the fact that Wenger and the staff on the board allow numerous first-team players to enter the last year of their contracts before they start negotiating new deals. It screams of arrogance and negligence and puts the long-term success of the club at serious fault. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is madness and yet, this is the state of Arsenal Football Club at this particular moment.

MATCH REPORT: Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United

Arsenal were made to pay the price for two first-half mistakes, as a David De Gea-inspired Manchester United claimed the first victory of the season from an away side at the Emirates Stadium with a 3-1 win.

The Gunners were left chasing the game after two individual errors from Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi placed the hosts 2-0 goals down by the 11th minute.

Arsenal reacted well with a huge share of the attempts at goal, as Alexandre Lacazette found a way through the De Gea in the second half before Jesse Lingard’s eventual killer blow, as 10-man United closed the game following Paul Pogba’s red card.

Lacazette was passed fit for as a surprise inclusion for today’s clash, having been a doubt for the game with a groin injury picked up in midweek.

The Gunners would need the firepower, as Man United snatched at the chance to find themselves a goal up by the 4th minute, courtesy of Antonio Valencia.

Intercepting Laurent Koscielny’s pass out wide, Valencia was on hand to work it with Pogba on the edge of Arsenal’s area before drilling his shot under Petr Čech to give José Mourinho’s men a 1-0 lead.

Arsenal’s backline was caught snoozing once more in the 11th minute, crucially allowing Lingard to be fed through on goal by Anthony Martial before slotting away his finish, as Wenger called on Alex Iwobi to replace the injured Shkodran Mustafi.

Confusion at the other end almost had the hosts back in contention, as Lacazette came sniffing around for a couple of unclaimed plays close to De Gea’s goal in the 20th minute.

The Frenchman emerged again in the 32nd minute deep inside United’s area in a bid to find a way around De Gea, with the rebound finding itself spare for Granit Xhaka to steer at goal before it skipped agonisingly wide.

United’s shot-stopper had both of Arsenal’s full-backs trying their luck from range en route to half-time, with neither getting enough behind their efforts beat the Spaniard.

De Gea starred once more when Romelu Lukaku directed the ball at his own goal from Mesut Özil’s free-kick, palming the danger away and maintaining the visitors’ lead prior to the interval.

Arsenal would make the perfect start to the second period, though, as Ramsey beat the United offside trap to selflessly hook a pass back for Lacazette before the Frenchman could blast his effort into the back of the net.

At the other end, Lingard found himself one-on-one with Čech, who would do just enough to move the ball onto the far-post before Martial’s failure to clean up on the rebound.

The North Londoners edged closer and closer to the equaliser when De Gea got down well to deny Lacazette in the 54th minute and, more impressively, thwarting Sanchez with his feet from the follow-up.

Lingard then grabbed what felt like the party chiller in the 63rd minute, as Pogba wriggled his way around Koscielny to set the winger up for a tap-in at the back-post, restoring United’s 2-goal-lead at 3-1.

Later on, Pogba’s straight red card in the 74th minute promised a grand-stand-finish to the game, as Arsenal put all their chips on the line with Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud joining the attack from the bench.

The Gunners had a penalty shout rejected after a swipe from Matteo Darmian on Welbeck in the 88th minute, with Nacho Monreal next in line to test De Gea with a looping header to be tipped over.

But it soon dawned on Arsène Wenger’s tired men that there’d be no way through into stoppage time, as the Red Devils claimed a 3-1 win.

By Patrick Ribeiro

(@P_SRibeiro)

Starting XI: Petr Čech (6) – Laurent Koscielny (7), Shkodran Mustafi (4), Nacho Monreal (7) – Héctor Bellerín (6),  Aaron Ramsey (7), Granit Xhaka (7), Sead Kolasinac (5) – Mesut Özil (6), Alexis Sanchez (6) – Alexandre Lacazette (7)

Subs: Alex Iwobi (7), Danny Welbeck (5), Olivier Giroud (5)

MATCH REPORT: MAN CITY 3-1 ARSENAL

Arsenal succumbed to a 3-1 defeat to Premier League leaders Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, as the North Londoners slipped back down to sixth in the league table, behind Liverpool.

With the thus far undefeated Man City side coming into this game as favourites, goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Agüero pushed Pep Guardiola’s men into a 2-0 lead before Alexandre Lacazette’s strike promised to set up a grand-stand finish.

Gabriel Jesus would deny such a thing from happening, however, as he sealed Arsenal’s fate with a close range finish late in the second half to conclude a 3-1 scoreline.

In hope of pulling off an upset in the blue half of Manchester, Arsène Wenger called on Francis Coquelin, in his first Premier League start of the season, to protect the Gunners defence, with Alex Iwobi also featuring in the face of Alexandre Lacazette’s surprise exclusion from the XI.

City neared the opener in the 10th minute, with Leroy Sané exposing the space in behind to cut a pass across the goal for Sterling before the latter failed to make any sort of contact with the ball.

De Bruyne then offered the Arsenal backline a warning with a fierce snap-shot from the edge of the box, saved by Čech, but the Belgian would leave the former Chelsea goalkeeper beaten soon after.

In the 18th minute, the playmaker made good use of Fernandinho’s presence to work a give-and-go before breaking the deadlock with a left-footed strike across goal.

Arsenal were caught yet again in the 35th minute and could well have been two goals down had it not been for Sterling’s wildly over-hit pass into Sané from a two-on-one scenario, meanwhile a combined intervention by Laurent Koscielny and Čech was required to deny Agüero inside the box moments later.

The Gunners would have to wait until the last minute of the first half for their best moment, as a hopeful long ball up from Iwobi found Sanchez before his lay-off to Aaron Ramsey, who would force a save out of Ederson with a strike at the Brazilian goalkeeper’s near post.

Into the second period, Arsenal couldn’t have asked for a worse entrance into the game, as Fernandinho’s well-timed pass into Sterling provoked a match-up between the winger and Nacho Monreal on their way to Čech’s goal, with Michael Oliver deeming that the Spaniard had brought the City forward down for an early penalty.

The Citizens’ all-time top goalscorer, Agüero, was elected for the spot-kick and would finish via the inside of the post to give the hosts a 2-0 lead in the 50th minute.

An otherwise immaculate Ederson survived a potentially disastrous moment between the sticks in the 55th minute, as he failed to hold on to a powerful strike before regathering his composure, as well as the ball, on his way back to goal, with a Ramsey barge pending.

Second-half substitute Lacazette would claw a goal back for Arsenal after being slipped through by Iwobi on the right, with the North Londoners’ record signing making no mistake from an emphatic shot under Ederson in the 65th minute.

More danger at the Etihad Stadium was then diverted back to Čech’s goal, as the Arsenal shot-stopper shifted across his goal quickly to deny Gabriel Jesus from point-blank range.

City would soon restore their lead, however, with David Silva seemingly coming into play from an offside position prior to pegging a pass back for Jesus to score a third, as the Gunners backline awaited the linesman’s flag.

With the score rounded off at 3-1, Arsenal collect their first defeat since the trip to Vicarage Road versus Watford in mid-October.

By Patrick Ribeiro

Starting XI:

Petr Čech (6) – Héctor Bellerín (6), Laurent Koscielny (6), Francis Coquelin (4), Nacho Monreal (5), Sead Kolasinac (5) – Aaron Ramsey (5), Granit Xhaka (3) – Mesut Özil (4), Alex Iwobi (6) – Alexis Sanchez (5)

Subs: Alexandre Lacazette (6), Jack Wilshere (-), Oliver Giroud (-)

MATCH REPORT: EVERTON 2-5 ARSENAL

Arsenal have returned to winning ways in the Premier League with a comprehensive 5-2 victory away to Everton at Goodison Park, this afternoon.

The Gunners had to come back from a goal down to defeat Ronald Koeman’s outfit, as Wayne Rooney’s strike within the first quarter of an hour promised to complicate their day.

Nacho Monreal would equalise for Arsenal going into half-time, whereas goals from Mesut Özil, Alexandre Lacazette and Aaron Ramsey in the second half tipped the scales in the Londoners’ favour prior to Oumar Niasse’s consolation goal.

Alexis Sanchez landed Everton their final blow to move his side back up to fifth place in the league table, with the hosts now languishing in 18th.

Arsène Wenger reserved no marquee player for the encounter versus the Toffees, as both Sanchez and Özil returned the starting line-up to join Lacazette in Arsenal’s front three.

The Gunners demonstrated their new-found fluidity early, as Özil slipped a pass in through for Aaron Ramsey to take aim towards the far post from inside the area, forcing Jordan Pickford into action in the 3rd minute with a fingertip save.

Pickford was required soon after following Özil’s cutback and Lacazette’s calculated turn inside the six-yard-box, as the Frenchman looked to fire away on his left foot before seeing his effort blocked on the spot by the oncoming English goalkeeper in the 9th minute.

The mood would soon change at the Goodison, however, as Granit Xhaka succumbed to Idrissa Gueye’s strong tackle on the edge of his own box, gifting Wayne Rooney the time and space to pick his spot with a curling effort and place Everton ahead against the run of play.

Arsenal’s response came as late as the 40th minute, with Pickford parrying Xhaka’s combed effort right into Nacho Monreal’s traps and failing to keep out the Spaniard’s first-time hit to equalise the score.

Pickford was quick to cut out another close-range effort following Özil’s knock into Sanchez’s path in the 43rd minute, as the visitors recaptured their groove going into the half-time interval.

With Everton adding an extra body in midfield at the expense of their third centre back, Özil was able to find a gap between the remaining two defenders to head the Gunners into the lead in the 53rd minute, courtesy of Sanchez’s looping cross into the box.

Ramsey had all the time in the world to add a third to Arsenal’s accounts just two minutes later, as good work from Laurent Koscielny on the right flank set the Welshman up on the edge of the box before the midfielder could raise his effort over the bar with a first-time shot.

The problems began the mount for the hosts when the already yellow-carded Gueye lunged in late on Xhaka in the 69th minute, subsequently earning himself a second booking and leaving the Toffees reduced to 10 men.

Sanchez was quick to spot Özil’s run once again with a blind pass, this time with the German playmaker roaming wide to form a three versus one on the counter and set Lacazette for Arsenal’s third, with the former Olympique Lyonnais striker casually side-footing his finish past Pickford in the 73rd minute.

The North Londoners neared their fourth goal through Sanchez’s near-post header that would thrash into the side-netting in the 82nd minute, with Xhaka going one better to rattle the crossbar soon after with a speculative effort from range.

Goal number four would eventually come, courtesy of Jack Wilshere’s threaded pass into Ramsey’s path, who was smart enough to wait for Pickford’s guesswork before picking his spot at the near post in the 90th minute.

The goals wouldn’t end there, as Oumar Niasse took advantage of Monreal’s all-too-casual pass-back to Čech to tap in a consolation goal in stoppage time, but the day would belong to Arsenal, as Sanchez found the time to make it 5-2 at the other end with a solo effort and drive across goal before the final whistle.

By Patrick Ribeiro
(@P_SRibeiro)

Player Ratings

Petr Čech (6) – Laurent Koscielny (7), Per Mertesacker (5), Nacho Monreal (8) – Héctor Bellerín (6), Granit Xhaka (6), Aaron Ramsey (7), Sead Kolasinac (5) – Mesut Özil (9), Alexis Sanchez (8) – Alexandre Lacazette (7)

Subs: Jack Wilshere (6), Francis Coquelin (5)