Alexandre Lacazette

Wenger believes Ozil, Sanchez will stay at Arsenal

Leave a comment

LONDON — Fresh from Arsenal’s first Premier League victory over North London rivals Tottenham since 2014, there was a spring in Arsene Wenger‘s step as he strode into his post-match press conference.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Arsenal’s boss saw his attack-minded lineup dominate Tottenham at home as the Gunners secured an 11th-straight home win and sixth-straight home victory of the 2017-18 season to breath new life into their season.

With a dangerous three-pronged attack of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette destroying Spurs’ usually rock-solid defense on numerous occasion, Arsenal gave a taste of what can be achieved this season.

Consistency is key for Arsenal but keeping Sanchez and Ozil is more important. Their futures at Arsenal remain uncertain with the duo free to talk to non-English teams in January about a free transfer on July 1, both are likely to see what other clubs can offer them outside of the Premier League.

Speaking to the media afterwards, Wenger reaffirmed his belief that Sanchez and Ozil want to stay at Arsenal beyond the end of their contracts next summer despite the situation being totally out of his hands.

“The quality of the contract of the contract has to be good and enough for them as well, you know. I am convinced they love the club, they love the team but all the rest will be decided, when? I don’t really know,” Wenger said. “I’m not alone to master that. [Quality of the contract] is part of it. The whole thing has to be right, they have to be happy. I believe they love the club and they want to stay but there are other top clubs out there who offer good contracts as well.”

So, Wenger is bracing himself for Sanchez and Ozil to be offered big contracts from European giants as soon as Jan. 1 rolls around, then a barrage of transfer offers from other PL giants as they believe the duo will be available in cut-price deals. At this point, the Gunners must keep hold of the duo until the end of the season, even if it means they leave on a free.

With Sanchez scoring a cheeky goal, racing free on numerous occasions and forcing Hugo Lloris into several key saves, his signature on a new deal is essential for Arsenal to haul themselves back into the top four.

His desire and hunger was evident and he even had time to joke around in the second half, diving on his stomach to the delight of the home fans as he tried to slide towards a loose ball in the pouring rain in north London.

You can never question the Chilean’s desire but his displays have become more erratic over the past 12 months with this contract saga hanging over his head. Sanchez’s goal against Spurs was his first in 12 games against the so-called “big six” in the Premier League.

Ozil’s display yielded an assist and numerous eye-catching passes as Lacazette’s runs allowed Arsenal’s two contract rebels to have plenty of space in front of Spurs’ back three.

Wenger pointed to the fact that he has never once questioned their commitment and although Ozil and Sanchez’s futures remain uncertain, he believes they will continue to put their bodies on the line for the Arsenal cause.

“I know them well and I know when it is their turn to go on the football pitch they want to win a football game. They’ve shown their commitment again today. I’ve never questioned their commitment,” Wenger said. “They can have bad games but the problem is, but the problem is that when a player goes to the end of a contract and has a bad game everybody says ‘of course, because he goes.’ Their interest is to play anyway.”

Three things we learned from Arsenal v. Tottenham

1 Comment

LONDON — Arsenal blew Tottenham Hotspur away in the 194th North London derby on Saturday with the Gunners riding a furious first half display to grab a deserved 2-0 victory.

Goals from Shkodran Mustafi and Alexis Sanchez did the business for Arsenal who have now won 11-straight games at the Emirates, their best-ever run at the stadium, and have now started the campaign with six wins from six at home for the first time in a decade.

Here’s what we learned from a one-sided NLD.


ARSENAL REWARDED FOR BRAVE SELECTIONS

Arsenal fans had been calling for all three of their top attacking talents to start and Wenger listened. Maybe he should listen to them more often…

From the start Arsenal looked the more adventurous, dangerous and incisive and both Alexandre Lacazette‘s runs in-behind opened up space for Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez to have space in front of Tottenham’s back three. After causing Manchester City problems before the break when Lacazette, Sanchez and Ozil were on the pitch, Wenger got the message loud and clear.

Arsenal went for it and they were rewarded.

The Gunners’ rampant start was in danger of being in vein but Skhodran Mustafi’s wonderful header, from an Ozil free kick, gave Arsenal the lead their positive start deserved and Sanchez’s clever finish from Lacazette’s pull back gave the scoreline the look it deserved at half time.

In the second half Tottenham had more of the ball and Wenger responded by pulling off Lacazette with 20 minutes to go and bringing on Francis Coquelin. That decision was booed but Wenger couldn’t help but try and edge his side over the line.

This was Arsenal’s first derby victory in seven PL outings against Spurs and amid talk of power shifting in North London to Tottenham following their finish above Arsenal in the PL table last season, the first time in 20 years, a positive display from the start put Tottenham back in their place.

Wenger was able to put out his first choice starting lineup for one of the first times this season and it showed that 1-11, this Arsenal team is at least capable of reclaiming a place in the top four. Maybe that will then convince Ozil and Sanchez to sign new deal and end their contract sagas.

Regardless of that, the search for consistency, especially away from home, is now the key. Going all-out attack is Arsenal’s best chance of any success this season.


MIDFIELD BATTLE NO CONTEST

Granit Xhaka is much-maligned but in the first half especially he and Aaron Ramsey disrupted Tottenham’s flow and knocked Spurs out of their stride.

Time and again they dispossessed Mousa Dembele and Moussa Sissoko in central midfield for Spurs, with Tottenham’s back three on the back foot and unable to deal with the runs of Lacazette, Sanchez and Ozil with Hector Bellerin and Ramsey pouring forward whenever they could.

In the second half Spurs had more of the ball and pushed Arsenal back but the damage was done. Harry Winks came on for the disappointing Dembele to try and wrestle the tempo of the game back but it was all too little, too late.

Xhaka and Ramsey worked as a perfect pivot in the first half to give Arsenal the platform for victory.


RUSTY SPURS STUNNED

Hugo Lloris, Harry Kane and Dele Alli had recovered from injury in time for the North London derby. It showed.

All three looked sluggish with Lloris already in the back of the net by the time Sanchez could smash home Arsenal’s second, Dele spending must of his time on the floor looking for free kicks and Kane (who had his right thigh heavily bandaged) well off the pace as he dragged efforts wide, was booked for a late challenge on Granit Xhaka and had an off day at the worst possible time.

Both Dele and Kane were hauled off 15 minutes from time looking jaded and frustrated. The gamble to rush them back to full fitness didn’t pay off.

Mauricio Pochettino had a face like thunder for much of the game with the Spurs boss patrolling the edge of his technical area with venomous steps.

Spurs have now lost against Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal so far this season. They only lost four games the whole of the 2017-18 campaign.

It’s still too early to say Tottenham’s title hopes were all but ended with this defeat at their bitter rivals, but they could well be 11 points behind leaders Manchester City by the time Saturday is over. That is a huge deficit to recover and their displays against the top teams so far this season have been full of trepidation and mistakes.

You can certainly understand the move to rush Kane and Dele back but it may not have been Pochettino’s best decision.

Arsenal 2-0 Spurs: Classic Gunners

Leave a comment
  • Arsenal scores pair in 1st half
  • Mustafi stars at both ends
  • Gunners 1 pt back of second
  • Shots finish 14-14

Not so fast, Spurs.

Arsenal recalled North London Derbies of old with a strong 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Shkrodan Mustafi and Alexis Sanchez scored, while Mesut Ozil and Petr Cech also starred in the victory.

The fifth-place Gunners are a point behind Spurs and second-place Manchester United.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Alexandre Lacazette cut a chance well wide and high of the bar in the first five minutes, while Spurs’ Harry Kane forced Petr Cech into a sixth minute save.

There were chances at both ends and a frenetic pace of play as the match approached the 20-minute mark, with Hector Bellerin‘s inviting cross unanswered by Arsenal.

Mustafi provided the derby breakthrough at the back post off a sweeping free kick to boost the Gunners into a 37th minute advantage.

And Alexis used great work from a lively Hector Bellerin to make it 2-0 before the break, belting an in-tight effort near the upper 90.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The second half saw Spurs come out with an edge, no doubt buoyed by Mauricio Pochettino‘s vexed appearance, and Harry Kane burnished a dirty tackle to earn a yellow card.

Ozil set up Sanchez for a would-be third goal in the 76th minute, but Hugo Lloris quickly closed down the angle.

Mustafi had a fine intervention to block a late Kane shot, while Cech stopped Eric Dier from pulling one back late.

VIDEO: Pair of Arsenal goals have it 2-0 at half

Leave a comment

Goals from Shkrodan Mustafi and Alexis Sanchez at the Emirates Stadium have given Arsenal a 2-0 halftime lead in the North London Derby.

[ STREAM: Second half live ]

Alexandre Lacazette cut a chance well wide and high of the bar in the first five minutes, while Spurs’ Harry Kane forced Petr Cech into a sixth minute save.

There were chances at both ends and a frenetic pace of play as the match approached the 20-minute mark, with Hector Bellerin‘s inviting cross unanswered by Arsenal.

Mustafi provided the derby breakthrough at the back post off a sweeping free kick to boost the Gunners into a 37th minute advantage.

And Alexis used great work from a lively Hector Bellerin to make it 2-0.

Germany, France even in 2-2 draw; Spain, Russia’s 6-goal thriller

AP Photo/Martin Meissner
Leave a comment

A roundup of international friendlies featuring 2018 World Cup-bound national teams on Tuesday…

[ MORE: USMNT draws Portugal | Player ratings | Three things ]

Germany 2-2 France

In what could very well be a preview of the World Cup final next summer, Germany and France traded blows on Tuesday, as the home side came from a goal behind on two occasions to draw Les Bleus, 2-2.

Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette put France ahead just after the half-hour mark, courtesy of Manchester United attacker Anthony Martial‘s assist, but Timo Werner, who over the last 18 months has played himself into serious consideration for the starting job at center forward, equalized in the 56th minute.

Lacazette made it 2-1 in the 71st, but Lars Stindl, the other late emergence of this cycle, brought the defending world champions level once again in the 92nd minute.

Russia 3-3 Spain

Sergio Ramos scored twice (both times from the penalty spot) and Jordi Alba provided another for Spain, but Julen Lopeteguia’s side gave all three goals back to a Russian side which hasn’t played a competitive fixture since EURO 2016, and hasn’t fared well at all in recent friendlies.

Alba’s opener came after nine minutes, followed in the 35th by Ramos’ first penalty kick. Six minutes into the second half, it was 2-2 after Fedor Smolov and Aleksey Miranchuk scored either side of halftime. Three minutes later, Ramos converted another from the penalty spot, only so see Smolov hit back for Russia’s third in the 70th minute.

Having opted to play his first-choice backline, Lopeteguia might have a few small concerns following the final international break of 2017.

Argentina 2-4 Nigeria

Speaking of shoddy defending, Argentina conceded four against fellow World Cup qualifiers Nigeria.

Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho, Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi (times two) Brian Idowu more than canceled out goals scored by Ever Banega and Sergio Aguero.

The big story coming out of this game, though, is the health of Aguero, after he fainted in the locker room at halftime. He reportedly “got dizzy and had to leave,” and was taken to a nearby hospital, but quickly rejoined his national teammates and is expected to once again be available for selection for Manchester City.

China 0-4 Colombia

Felipe Pardo, Carlos Bacca and Miguel Borja (times two) made sure Colombia bounced back immediately following their loss to South Korea over the weekend. Notably absent for Colombia was James Rodriguez, who departed camp before Tuesday’s game and returned to Bayern Munich.

Elsewhere in int’l friendlies

England 0-0 Brazil
Belgium 1-0 Japan
Austria 2-1 Uruguay
South Korea 1-1 Serbia
Qatar 1-1 Iceland
Hungary 1-0 Costa Rica
Wales 1-1 Panama