Arsene Wenger

Arsenal take positives from winning “total battle” at Chelsea

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LONDON — Arsenal took the moral victory at Chelsea on Sunday in a bruising draw against their London rivals at Stamford Bridge.

[ MORE: Three things learned ]

They have yet to win a game away at a top six rival since a 2-0 victory at Manchester City back in January 2015 but the display on Sunday proved they have a blueprint for success away from home against the top teams.

Call it a moral victory, if you will.

Arsene Wenger‘s 3-4-3 formation has made the Gunners, overall, look more solid against a counter-attacking unit as they recovered from their ghastly defensive display away at Liverpool before the international break and thwarted Chelsea for the third time in as many games since the end of last season.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Speaking after the game, Wenger was delighted with the mental toughness of his players in what he called a “total battle” in the sun in west London.

“I felt it was a game of total intensity where two teams went for it and it was a battle all over the pitch,” Wenger said. “We responded well in domains where we were questioned. I like when a team shows that kind of response. Overall, I feel that it is a deserved point. With a bit more freedom and inhibition we could have really won it. Overall it was important for us not to lose today and you could feel that in the team in the last 20 minutes with a little bit of that in our mind.”

Following their 4-0 mauling at Liverpool and defeat at Stoke City, it was understandable that any positive result away from home would have been welcomed.

Stopping a five-game losing streak at Chelsea in the PL was welcomed as Arsenal carried on where they left off from their FA Cup and Community Shield victories at Wembley against their London rivals.

“People forget that two months ago we beat Chelsea in a cup final and they don’t give you a cup, you know?” Wenger smiled. “It is true that you have to accept that when you deliver the kind of performance we had at Liverpool that you are criticized. You have only one way to respond. That’s on the pitch and that’s what we did today. Of course it was a question today of what will happen at least with the attitude, response and determination, it was vital for us, even above the result, to come out with a solid performance on that front.”

Wenger saw Shkodran Mustafi put in a solid, dominant display in central defense as he and Laurent Koscielny shackled Alvaro Morata and the Gunners had the better chances to win the game with Aaron Ramsey hitting the post, Alexandre Lacazette knocking the follow up over and Mustafi having a header correctly disallowed for offside.

Chelsea were frustrated in their first 0-0 draw since February 2016 as they were outbattled by Arsenal with David Luiz sent off late on as he lunged into a challenge on Saed Kolasinac and you could feel the Blues’ temper rising as the Gunners continued their shut down of Chelsea’s usually effective counter-attacks.

Antonio Conte brushed aside questions about Arsenal’s physicality knocking Chelsea out of their stride and reminded the assembled media of the Gunners’ quality.

“We suffered a bit in the middle of the first half but don’t forget, sometimes you forgot that Arsenal is one of the top six in England. For this reason we all know the type of game we have to face today against them,” Conte said. “Arsenal is a really good team, a strong team and they have a lot of top players. It is normal to find this situation when you play against them.”

Yet, this wasn’t a normal Arsenal performance as Wenger and his players substituted their usual panache for grit and their admirable free spirit for concentration.

The atmosphere among Arsenal’s players, fans and manager at the end of the game was far from euphoric but this felt like a step forward for Wenger’s men.

Three things we learned from Chelsea v. Arsenal

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LONDON — Chelsea and Arsenal played out a tight, tense 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday as the Gunners hit the post in the first half through Aaron Ramsey but couldn’t break through.

[ MORE: Wenger, Arsenal win battle ]

Arsenal nullified the threat of Chelsea’s counter attacks for large periods of the game with the reigning champions left frustrated as David Luiz was sent off late on for a lunging tackle on Sead Kolasinac.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Here’s a look at what we learned from an even, eventful London derby.


SANCHEZ, HAZARD RUSTY

0-0 with 25 minutes to go, Antonio Conte and Arsene Wenger both reached to the bench to unleash their best players.

Alexis Sanchez came on for Arsenal and moments later Eden Hazard arrived.

Both were on the bench as they continued their recovery to full fitness with Hazard coming off a long-term ankle injury and Sanchez perhaps recovering from a broken heart after his deadline day move to Manchester City collapsed.

Apart from a run and shot straight at Petr Cech, Hazard didn’t get involved in the final third for Chelsea as a few runs from deep barely threatened Arsenal.

Sanchez was equally non-existent as the Chilean sauntered around the left wing role and apart from one majestic back heel he gave the ball away cheaply and looked like a man who was without a preseason to his name.

Two of the biggest stars in the Premier League are yet to get up and running.


MORATA LOSES BATTLE WITH MUSTAFI

With three goals and two assists, all with his head, in the Premier League so far this season, Alvaro Morata is Chelsea’s new main man up top.

He could’ve done with emulating the Spanish international striker he has replaced at Chelsea with Diego Costa often relishing his battles against Arsenal center backs and often coming out on top.

Morata did not with Shkodran Mustafi having an exceptional game at center back (he also had a header chalked out, correctly, for offside) to deny him chances and service. Morata looked isolated up top and with Cesc Fabregas moved closer to him for the second half to try and supply him with some chances, it didn’t work.

After a very good start to life at Chelsea and his aerial ability admirable, Morata proved he still has to adjust to the rigors of the Premier League.


SOLID, SOLID ARSENAL

Much has been made of Arsenal’s defensive solidity since switching to a 3-4-3 formation and this game proved that away from home against a title contender it works.

After switching to a 3-4-3 last season, Arsenal’s expected goals conceded actually rose from 1.2 per game to 1.7 and after conceding eight goals in their opening three Premier League games this season it seemed like the 3-4-3 could be ditched.

Even though Arsenal still haven’t won a Premier League match away from home against a side that finished in the top six the previous season since January 2015 (a 2-0 victory at Man City) — with an 0-8-6 record — the 3-4-3 formation allowed them to recover well at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea launched counters.

The pace of Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac helped Arsenal recover quickly when Willian and Pedro launched counters which usually pull opposition defenses apart.

Arsenal’s attacking unit wasn’t firing on all cylinders but defensively they were solid and after losing their last five games on the spin at Chelsea in the PL, a draw in a game which they controlled for large spells will do just fine.


PL Sunday preview: Chelsea host Arsenal; Rooney returns to OT

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Gigantic top-four implications in game no. 1, and a “real legend” returns to his old haunt in game no. 2 — Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures are nothing short of must-see TV.

[ PL ROUNDUP: Man City unstoppable; Liverpool, Spurs held ]

Chelsea vs. Arsenal — 8:30 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com

This is Arsenal’s new reality, six times minimum this season: Thursday night Europa League, followed by an even greater challenge, PL opposition, less than 72 hours later. Suffice to say, much rides on Arsene Wenger‘s side re-establishing themselves as a Champions League club next season. Sunday’s trip to Stamford Bridge, where the Gunners will take on the defending champions in fine form (three straight wins after an opening-day defeat), is the type of game in which they’ve squandered what might be seen as “bonus” points in recent seasons.

Sunday could also see the return of Eden Hazard to the starting lineup, quite an untimely occurrence from Arsenal’s vantage point. After playing the final 30 minutes of Tuesday’s CL thrashing of Qarabag, the Belgian superstar is nearing full fitness after three months on the sideline due to a broken ankle suffered in early June.

“For sure he’s improving,” Conte said. “Having this patience with him is paying off. He is very close to being totally fit. We have to continue in this way. I have to make the best decision for the team and the players, but he is improving a lot and is very close to being 100 percent fit.”

INJURIES: Chelsea — OUT: Danny Drinkwater (calf) | Arsenal — OUT: Francis Coquelin (hamstring), Santi Cazorla (achilles); PROBABLE: Aaron Ramsey (knock), Mesut Ozil (knock)

[ MORE: Guardiola salutes Aguero’s brilliance, but has one complaint ]

Manchester United vs. Everton — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Not only does Sunday’s meeting between Manchester United and Everton mark the return of Wayne Rooney to Old Trafford, the arena in which he thrilled and dazzled for 13 years, but also Romelu Lukaku‘s first clash with his former club following his $97-million transfer this summer. Familiarity (typically) breeds contempt, though Sunday should prove a joyous reunion for so many familiar faces.

After essentially swapping frontmen in the summer, the start of the 2017-18 season has produced drastically different sets of results for Man United and Everton. Take, for example, Toffees boss Ronald Koeman, who’s already feeling a bit of pressure after spending nearly $180 million this summer.

“It is not the time or the place to criticize the players,” Koeman said. “I have to criticize myself because the team was not prepared. It is a big lesson. I thought that was happening after the third goal against Tottenham at the weekend but I need to ask myself the question what I did wrong.”

As for Jose Mourinho’s men, for the first time since the Portuguese took over last summer, all is well at Old Trafford. Back in the CL (where they’re flying high) and battling with Chelsea and Manchester City in the race for the PL title, last week’s 2-2 draw away to Stoke City is the still-young season’s only blemish. Lukaku has already paid off in the form of five goals (four in the PL), while the youthful duo of Anthony Martial (21 years old) and Marcus Rashford (19) each have a pair of PL goals to their name. United, along with no one other than Man City, have conceded just twice this season.

INJURIES: Man United — OUT: Paul Pogba (hamstring), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (knee), Luke Shaw (fitness), Marcos Rojo (knee) | Everton — OUT: Ross Barkley (back), Ramiro Funes Mori (knee), Seamus Coleman (leg), James McCarthy (knee), Yannick Bolasie (knee)

Watch, Stream live: Premier League schedule – Week 5

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The Premier League season is in full flow and some huge games are coming your way in Week 5.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ]

The full TV schedule for this weekend is below, plus you can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports.com,the NBC Sports App and by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold.

Gold also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

Kicking things off on Friday is a new rivalry in the PL as South Coast clubs Bournemouth and Brighton clash at the Vitality Stadium (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports.com) with local pride on the line.

On Saturday Crystal Palace welcome Southampton to Selhurst Park (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports.com) as Roy Hodgson aims to get off to a flying start as the new Eagles boss.

Watford then host Manchester City (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports.com) as Marco Silva‘s fourth-place Hornets hope to upset Pep Guardiola‘s unbeaten side.

To round things off on Saturday, Tottenham Hotspur welcome Swansea City to Wembley Stadium (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBC Sports.com) with Spurs aiming to grab their first PL victory at their temporary home.

[ STREAM: Premier League live here ] 

Sunday kicks off with a massive London derby as Chelsea host Arsenal at Stamford Bridge (Watch live, 8:30 a.m. ET on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com) as Antonio Conte and Arsene Wenger lock horns on the sidelines. These games are never one for the faint-hearted.

Week 5 ends with a big game at Old Trafford as Manchester United welcome Wayne Rooney back to his former home with a struggling Everton side (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com). Can Rooney play the hero for the Toffees on his old stomping ground?

[ STREAM: Premier League “Goal Rush” ] 

You can also watch Premier League “Goal Rush” at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday for all the goals as they go in. Goal Rush is available via NBC Sports.com and the NBC Sports App,

If you’re looking for full-event replays of Premier League games, you can find them here for the games streamed on NBCSports.com and here for the games on NBC Sports Gold.

Here’s your full TV schedule for the coming days. Enjoy.


FULL TV SCHEDULE

Friday
3 p.m. ET: Bournemouth vs. Brighton – NBCSN [STREAM]

Saturday
7:30 a.m. ET: Crystal Palace vs. Southampton – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Watford vs. Manchester City – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Liverpool vs. Burnley – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Huddersfield vs. Leicester City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Newcastle United vs. Stoke City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: West Brom vs. West Ham – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
12:30 p.m. ET: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Swansea City — NBC [STREAM]

Sunday
8:30 a.m. ET: Chelsea vs. Arsenal – CNBC [STREAM]
11 a.m. ET: Manchester United vs. Everton – NBCSN [STREAM

LIVE – Europa League group stage: Arsenal, Everton in action

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The UEFA Europa League group stage kicks off on Thursday with both Arsenal and Everton in action.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]

Arsenal welcome FC Koln (and their band of marauding, marvelous fans) to the Emirates Stadium as Arsene Wenger prepares to play in Europe’s second-tier club competition for the first time in 17 years. The Gunners are expected to make plenty of changes with one eye on Sunday’s trip to London rivals Chelsea in the Premier League.

Everton head to Serie A side Atalanta as Ronald Koeman‘s men aim to recover from their hammering at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur last weekend.

Elsewhere, other marquee games include Austria Vienna vs. AC Milan, Hertha Berlin hosting Athletic Bilbao and Copenhagen clashing with Lokomotiv Moscow.

Click on the link above to follow live coverage on all the games, while below is the full schedule for the opening group stage matches.

Thursday’s Europa League schedule

Group A
Villarreal vs. Astana – 1 p.m. ET
Slavia Prague vs. Maccabi Tel Aviv – 1 p.m. ET

Group B
Dynamo Kiev vs. Skenderbeu – 1 p.m. ET
Young Boys vs. Partizan Belgrade – 1 p.m. ET

Group C
Hoffenheim vs. Braga – 1 p.m. ET
Istanbul Basaksehir vs. Ludogorets – 1 p.m. ET

Group D
Austria Vienna vs. AC Milan – 1 p.m. ET
Rijeka vs. AEK Athens – 1 p.m. ET

Group E
Atalanta vs. Everton – 1 p.m. ET
Apollon vs. Lyon – 1 p.m. ET

Group F
Zlin vs. Sheriff – 1 p.m. ET
Copenhagen vs. Lokomotiv Moscow – 1 p.m. ET

Group G
Hapoel Be’er Sheva vs. Lugano – 3:05 p.m. ET
Steau Bucharest vs. Plzen – 3:05 p.m. ET

Group H 
Red Star Belgrade vs. BATE Borisov – 3:05 p.m. ET
Arsenal vs. FC Koln – 3:05 p.m. ET

Group I 
Marseille vs. Konyaspor – 3:05 p.m. ET
Vitoria Guimaraes vs. RB Salzburg – 3:05 p.m. ET

Group J
Zorya Luhansk vs. Ostersund – 3:05 p.m. ET
Hertha Berlin vs. Athletic Bilbao – 3:05 p.m. ET

Group K 
Zulte Waregem vs. Nice – 3:05 p.m. ET
Vitesse Arnhem vs. Lazio – 3:05 p.m. ET

Group L
Vardar vs. Zenit – 3:05 p.m. ET
Real Sociedad vs. Rosenborg – 3:05 p.m. ET