Francis Coquelin

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Europa League: Arsenal hang 6 on BATE; youthful Everton impress

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A roundup of all of Thursday’s action in Europe’s “other” club competition, the Europa League…

[ MORE: Key battles in this weekend’s Manchester derby ]

Arsenal 6-0 BATE Borisov

Having already locked up the top spot in Group H, Arsene Wenger could have continued on playing a youth-heavy side in Europe, but the likes of Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere (perpetually), Francis Coquelin and Mathieu Debuchy are all either working their respective ways back from injury or needing minutes for fitness purposes, thus spelling an extremely tough night for Belarusian side BATE.

Debuchy, Walcott and Wilshere each scored in the first half to make it 3-0 at halftime, the first of which came very early on and in stunning fashion from the Frenchman.

An own goal six minutes into the second half made it 4-0, followed a penalty kick from Giroud and an exclamation-point sixth from Mohamed Elneny in the 64th and 74th minutes, respectively, for 6-0.

Apollon Limassol 0-3 Everton

Everton’s 2017-18 Premier League season has been, by their own lofty standards and expectations, a disaster. Now that Sam Allardyce has replaced Ronald Koeman as permanent manager — though he wasn’t in attendance on Thursday, due to a previously schedule medical appointment — perhaps the Toffees are set to hit their stride and pick up a run of positive results.

The most encouraging part of Thursday’s thrashing of Cypriot side Limassol was the youth which did the majority of the damage. A pair of 20-year-olds — Ademola Lookman (times two) and Nikola Vlasic — got the goals for a side which also featured 18-year-old Fraser Hornby at forward, 19-year-old Beni Baningime at right back, 18-year-old Morgan Feeney at center back and 21-year-old Harry Charsley at left back.

The future appears to be quite bright for Everton if: 1) they can survive this season, and 2) Allardyce gives the youngsters the games they need to develop into PL players.

Rijeka 2-0 AC Milan

Milan’s disastrous season continued with a defeat away to Croatian side Rijeka on Thursday. After spending wildly in the summer, the Rossoneri have struggled to a ninth-place standing in Serie A and largely limped their way to progression from Group D in the Europa League.

Thursday’s team was a strong mixture of big-money names and promising youngsters, and still, Gennaro Gattuso is seeking his first win as manager after two games in charge.

Elsewhere in Europa League

Villarreal 0-1 Maccabi Tel Aviv
Zorya 1-1 Athletic Bilbao
Real Sociedad 1-3 Zenit St. Petersburg
Zulte-Waregem 3-2 Lazio
Atalanta 1-0 Lyon
Hoffenheim 1-1 Ludogorets Razgrad
Hertha Berlin 1-1 Oestersunds FK
Crvena Zvezda 1-0 Cologne
Vitesse 1-0 Nice
Marseille 0-0 Red Bull Salzburg

Three things we learned from Arsenal v. Tottenham

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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.

How will Arsenal, Tottenham lineup?

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Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur. The North London derby. Arsene Wenger vs. Mauricio Pochettino.

[ MORE: Spurs injury update ]

This is it. Arsenal host Spurs this Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with both teams having plenty of selection headaches.

How will Arsene Wenger and Mauricio Pochettino line up their respective teams?

[ MORE: Wenger – We are not underdogs ]

Here’s a look at our projected starting lineups for both Arsenal and Spurs, with a brief explanation for both.


JPW’s projected Arsenal starting XI

—– Cech —–

—- Holding —- Koscielny —- Monreal —-

— Bellerin — Xhaka — Ramsey — Kolasinac —

—- Ozil —- Sanchez —-

—– Lacazette —–

The Gunners are without the injured Olivier Giroud, but this is a pretty settled team. The main decision for Wenger is will he go all-out attack from the start? Lacazette came off the bench at Man City last time out and scored as well as providing a threat. Surely he has to start in front of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. In midfield it will be intriguing to see if Aaron Ramsey starts ahead of one of the more defense-minded trio of Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny and Francis Coquelin. It’s highly-likely he will. Shkodran Mustafi may be fit to make his long-awaited return in central defense.


JPW’s projected Tottenham starting XI

—– Lloris —–

—- Sanchez —- Dier —- Vertonghen —-

— Aurier — Dembele — Winks — Rose —-

—- Eriksen —- Dele —-

—– Kane —–

So many injury concerns for Pochettino but Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Harry Winks and Hugo Lloris all returned to full training on Thursday ahead of this game. That’s a big boost. Losing Toby Alderweireld for longer than expected is not and that will likely see Eric Dier slot into central defense and the duo of Mousa Dembele and Winks deployed in central midfield. The other big call Pochettino has to make is out wide in the wing back positions. He could choose either of Kieran Trippier or Serge Aurier on the right and Ben Davies or Danny Rose on the left. I think he will go for more athleticism in this game given the high intensity of a derby day. That said, can a fiery character like Aurier be trusted in the hostile atmosphere?

EFL Cup wrap: Swansea, Palace fall; 18-year-old plays Arsenal hero

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A pair of Premier League teams fell in Carabao Cup action, while another barely survived as the quarterfinals of the competition are nearly set.

[ MORE: Madrid not interested in signing Kane, they say ]

Swansea City was thoroughly beaten by Manchester United on a pair of Jesse Lingard goals, while struggling Crystal Palace was beaten heavily by Championship side Bristol City despite an early 1-0 lead. Meanwhile, Arsenal just squeaked by Norwich City with the help of a young hero, scoring a late goal to force extra time before winning things early in the added period.

Manchester City failed to score, but would advance on penalties thanks to the help of their veterans.


Swansea City 0-2 Manchester United

Jesse Lingard came into the squad and got back on the scoresheet with a simple finish 21 minutes in to complete the play started by a skillful flick from Marcus Rashford. That goal sent the Red Devils through, but Lingard would complete his brace after halftime on a spectacular header, connecting with Matteo Darmian‘s cross just inside the top of the box for a long-range strike.

Arsenal 2-1 Norwich City (AET)

Arsenal started a mostly second-choice lineup in their home Cup match, and it almost backfired massively. Josh Murphy struck for Norwich just past the half-hour mark, getting loose through the central defenders on a fast-break and chipping goalkeeper Matt Macey to stun the Emirates.

Needing a hero, 18-year-old striker Eddie Nketiah – an Arsenal academy product – came off the bench for his second pro appearance in the 85th minute and struck an astonishing 15 seconds later, poking home after Francis Coquelin had flicked the ball in front of net with his head from a corner.

Nketiah wasn’t done, bagging the winner on a header six minutes into extra time, powering the ball into the top corner off a set-piece a la Olivier Giroud. Fun fact: Nketiah is the first player born after Arsene Wenger took charge at Arsenal to score a goal for the Gunners. Yay for everyone feeling old!

Bournemouth 3-1 Middlesbrough

Callum Wilson hit from the penalty spot in the 75th minute to give Bournemouth a spot in the quarterfinals. The referee had pointed to the spot after Dael Fry fouled Jack Simpson on a corner, and Wilson buried the chance to put Bournemouth through. Benik Afobe added the Cherries’ third with seven minutes to go.

Wilson’s winner came after Simpson and Marcus Tavernier had cancelled each other out following a scoreless first half.

Bristol City 4-1 Crystal Palace

Former Wolves winger Bakary Sako put Crystal Palace in front early, but the Championship side Bristol City cancelled out the Eagles’ lead before halftime through Matty Taylor. Five minutes later, Palace would find themselves walking into halftime down a goal as substitute Milan Djuric would poke the ball home on a scrum in the box following a long throw.

Joe Bryan gave Bristol City a third after halftime to ensure Palace’s misery on the hour mark, and Callum O’Dowda added on a fourth.

Leicester City 2-1 Leeds United

Islam Slimani was the hero as the Foxes prevailed over Championship side Leeds United in a come-from-behind win at the King Power Stadium. He touched home on a cross from Kelechi Iheanacho following a through-ball from Vicente Ibarro.

Pablo Hernandez put Leeds in front 26 minutes in, but the lead only lasted till the half-hour mark when Iheanacho struck to bring Leeds back level, catching Leeds goalkeeper Felix Weidwald out of position.

Manchester City 0-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers (City wins 4-2 on penalties)

Championship leaders Wolves frustrated a decently strong Manchester City side all night, and with the game scoreless all the way through extra time despite 25 Manchester City shots – but just six on target – we went to penalties.

Claudio Bravo saved efforts from Alfred N'Diaye and Conor Coady, while Kevin De Bruyne, Yaya Toure, Leroy Sane, and Sergio Aguero were all successful from the spot to send Manchester City through

PL Sunday preview: Liverpool, Arsenal face newly promoted sides

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A pair of Premier League big boys take on a pair of sides only just promoted from the Championship over the summer, while Everton host Burnley in the other of Sunday’s three PL fixtures…

[ MORE: PL roundup — Man City win at Chelsea; Kane gets 2 more ]

Arsenal vs. Brighton & Hove Albion — 7 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Away in Belarus for Europa League action on Thursday, back home in the PL on Sunday — that’s the not-so-simple reality for Arsenal this season, and it rears its ugly head again this week. The Gunners victory over BATE Borisov will have come less than 72 hours prior to taking on Chris Hughton‘s Brighton on Sunday. Further complicating matters, last week’s 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion came on Monday, less than 72 hours prior to their 1,400-mile European excursion. As such, the majority of Arsene Wenger‘s first-choice starters were left in London, but the likes of Shkodran Mustafi and Per Mertesacker could be asked to pull double-duty given injury concerns along the three-man backline.

Brighton, meanwhile, will be without star striker Tomer Hemed, who on Wednesday was handed a three-match ban for his stamp on DeAndre Yedlin last weekend. Hemed maintains he did not intend the contact with Yedlin.

“I accept the decision against me but do not agree with it and I am devastated to miss three matches,” Hemed wrote on his Instagram account. “I would never go out and injure a fellow professional on purpose, and those of my friends and teammates who know me, know that this is not in my nature.”

INJURIES: Arsenal — OUT: Mesut Ozil (knee), Danny Welbeck (groin), Santi Cazorla (achilles), Francis Coquelin (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: Laurent Koscielny (achilles), Alex Iwobi (thigh) | Brighton — OUT: Tomer Hemed (suspension), Steve Sidwell (back), Sam Baldock (calf), Beram Kayal (leg); QUESTIONABLE: Glenn Murray (ankle)


Everton vs. Burnley — 9:15 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Things are beginning to look up for Everton — maybe just a tad — as Ronald Koeman‘s side is unbeaten in its last three games (all competitions), with a winnable home date with Burnley on Sunday. While the likes of Wayne Rooney, Davy Klaassen and Gylfi Sigurdsson have largely faltered of late (just two PL goals between them — both Rooney’s — and zero assists), Oumar Niasse has stepped into the void and lent the Toffees three goals en route to a pair of wins last week, over Sunderland (League Cup) and Bournemouth (PL).

As for the Clarets, Sean Dyche‘s side is four games unbeaten in PL play (three draws) and up to ninth in the league table. Sunday’s clash at Goodison Park will be the first meeting between Burnley’s current players and former teammate Michael Keane, now at Everton, provided he’s passed fit to play.

“We all got on with Keano. He’s a great lad,” midfielder Jeff Hendrick said. “He’s been brilliant for the club here. It was his time to step on and challenge himself in a different way. He’s still young and he’s still improving. We all speak highly of him here and I’m sure they do at Everton as well. It will be good to play against him. He’s a good player but we want to get one over on him.”

INJURIES: Everton — OUT: Ross Barkley (back), Ramiro Funes Mori (knee), Seamus Coleman (leg), James McCarthy (knee), Yannick Bolasie (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Michael Keane (foot) | Burnley — OUT: Tom Heaton (shoulder), Nakhi Wells (ankle), Jonathan Walters (knee), Dean Marney (knee)


Newcastle United vs. Liverpool — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Rafa Benitez guided Liverpool to UEFA Champions League glory in 2005, a short dozen years ago now, an on Sunday welcomes his former club, and the many by whom he’s still so beloved, to St. James’ Park.

“He’s a very, very interesting person,” Jurgen Klopp said on Friday. “I know he’s still connected, not only because he lives around here still, he’s really connected to the club still, wishes the club all the best and all that stuff — it’s how it should be after this fantastic time he had here.”

The visitors enter Sunday’s game in frustratingly indifferent form, having won just one of their last five games (all competitions). During that stretch, the Reds have conceded 13 goals. Klopp is yet to figure out the perfect formula for consistent defending in the PL, as that very shakiness at the back ultimately ended Liverpool’s title bid last season. Klopp writes a bit of that off as bad luck.

“We in this moment are not the luckiest team in world football, so it’s not that things go easy for us,” he said this week. “We did enough and we had four or five 100-percent chances and that’s then disappointing but it is like it is.”

INJURIES: Newcastle — OUT: Paul Dummett (hamstring) | Liverpool — OUT: Adam Lallana (thigh), Nathaniel Clyne (hamstring)