Laurent Koscielny

Kane leads Spurs to North London Derby win

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  • Tottenham goes third before Liverpool, Chelsea play
  • Spurs dominate with 18-5 shot attempts
  • Kane posts 7th goal in as many NLDs
  • Arsenal six points back of Top Four

Harry Kane‘s second half goal seized North London Derby glory for dominant-if-wasteful Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

The 1-0 win pushes Spurs third for the time being, while Arsenal will finish the weekend at least six points back of fourth place.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

While the goalkeepers weren’t physically tested in the first 15 minutes, both Hugo Lloris and Petr Cech had to be razor-sharp as Spurs and Arsenal each pushed the pace in attack.

The first save, from Cech on Heung-Min Son, may have been going wide in the 18th minute.

Harry Kane pushed a chance over the bar as the match neared the half-hour mark, and Eric Dier missed a more egregious redirection from the edge of the six-yard box following a mishit Mousa Dembele attempt from the edge of the 18.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Ben Davies and Kane combined for a powerful opener, with the left-sided man sending an inviting cross and Kane rising above Laurent Koscielny to pound a header home. Arsenal wanted a foul on Kane, whose hands caught Koscielny after his leap, but it’s difficult to agree with the visitors.

Spurs won a dangerous free kick when Hector Bellerin dove into Son’s legs two yards outside the 18. Christian Eriksen presided over the opportunity, but Cech made an outstanding punch save on an upper 90-heading effort.

He’d have another chance in the 62nd minute, but his waist-high driven cross didn’t make it into the mixer, going out for a corner.

Spurs had more chances to score, but Son shanked a 17-yard shot into the atmosphere before Dele tried to get too cute with a flick that went wide of goal.

Cech then denied a free-dribbling Erik Lamela. Would Spurs rue their misses? Cech denied Kane again in the 76th minute.

Lamela dragged a languid chance wide of the far post in the 90th minute.

Alexandre Lacazette butchered an opportunity to level the score at the outset of stoppage time, and then dragged a shot past Lloris but wide of the far post two minutes later.

Dembele fouled Welbeck in a dangerous position at the very end of stoppage time. Mesut Ozil lorded over the chance, but the wall did its job.

Ramsey hat trick leads Arsenal demolition of Everton

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  • Aubameyang scores 1st Arsenal goal
  • Mkhitaryan sets up Ramsey’s first
  • Ramsey doubles season output
  • Gunners beat Everton 5-2 in reverse fixture

Aaron Ramsey scored a hat trick as Arsenal ran all over Everton in a 5-1 blowout at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Laurent Koscielny also scored for the Gunners, who stay sixth with 45 points.

Everton remains on 31 points, dropping to 10th behind Bournemouth and seven points above the drop zone. Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored for the Toffees.

According to the BBC, Ramsey is the 20th Arsenal player to record a PL hat trick, joining “Henry, Wright, Adebayor, Van Persie, Walcott, K.Campbell, Sanchez, Anelka, Arshavin, Bergkamp, Cazorla, Giroud, Kanu, Ljungberg, Overmars, Parlour, Pennant, Pires, Wiltord.”

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Arsenal was ahead before the clock hit six, with new boy Henrikh Mkhitaryan sliding a ball through the six for Ramsey to pass home.

Given a bit of room from Michael Keane, Mkhitaryan just missed on a laser from 25 yards in the 10th minute.

A corner kick saw Arsenal make it 2-0, as Koscielny’s diving header stopped a debut goal from Aubameyang. Both players had time thanks to lost loanee Eliaquim Mangala‘s marking.

Ramsey made it 3-0 in the 19th minute, his hard shot taking a hard turn off Mangala to defy Pickford’s hopes of a save.

Aubameyang had a chance to lift the lid on the pace with a 32nd minute charge toward goal, but Pickford closed him down.

He did score in the 37th minute, possibly offside, with a tiny chip over a sliding Pickford. And Monreal nodded a ball off the bottom of the cross bar and out as Arsenal attempted to set some recent records.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Everton didn’t quit, to their credit. Well, at least Oumar Niasse didn’t, sliding to put a ball off the post in a characteristic relentless effort.

Substitute Calvert-Lewin did dent the scoreboard for Everton, leaping over Sead Kolasinac to deny Petr Cech a 200th PL clean sheet.

Cech was injured shortly after the concession, and came out of the game for David Ospina.

Ramsey completed his hat trick in the 74th minute, doubling his season output in the Premier League.

One player for each of the Premier League’s Top Six

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The Premier League’s transfer window is going to close within the next two weeks, and each of the big boys feels a need to find help in at least one position on the field.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Manchester City: Yes, it’s laughable that City would require another piece; They’ll be fine either way. But injuries to Fabian Delph and Benjamin Mendy and lack of faith in Danilo does mean that left back would be a spot of interest for Pep Guardiola. This is not shot at young Oleksandar Zinchenko, but City wants at least a treble. This is why City is being linked with Fred, who can play at left back as well as his traditional center mid. It makes sense.

Manchester United: Yeah, yeah, Alexis Sanchez, we know. But with Michael Carrick retiring and Ander Herrera‘s surprising lack of consistent starting time, perhaps Jose Mourinho is aiming for more presence in the center of the park. It betrays things in terms of age, but Lassana Diarra is a free agent and could provide the competition United craves at an easy-to-digest budgetary addition.

Chelsea: Adding Ross Barkley was a nice pick-up, but depth behind Alvaro Morata is clearly a desire for Antonio Conte considering the names which have been linked with Stamford Bridge: Andy Carroll, Ashley Barnes, Edin Dzeko, Peter Crouch. West Ham might like a Carroll-for-Batshuayi swap, and the big Englishman would be a huge get for the Blues should he stay healthy. We wonder if newly available loan target Andre Schurrle has any love left for Chelsea

Liverpool: Here’s a name you probably expected in the City portion of this post: Johnny Evans. The ex-Manchester United defender may be on the move from West Brom, and pairing him with Virgil Van Dijk would give Jurgen Klopp‘s 4-4-2 perhaps the toughest center back pairing in England. Obviously pushing the Naby Keita transfer earlier would be way more effective for Klopp’s project, but it is extremely unlikely to happen in January. So we stick with Evans. Bold statement: With Evans, Liverpool could post the most points in the PL the rest of the way. With Evans and Keita, they’ll be a favorite to rival Man City next season.

Tottenham Hotspur: This club is very, very good and two deep at nearly every position. Heck, Victor Wanyama can’t even get on the field. That’s why it makes sense that the club’s been linked with unfinished project Malcom as well as Schurrle, who Bordeaux said today will not be moving in January. So while that’s the name we’d choose, we’ll instead nod to Cagliari youngster and Golden Boy nominee Nicolo Barella, whose name continues to pop up as a target of several top clubs in the Premier League.

Arsenal: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would be nice, and forward is being magnified as a position at the Emirates Stadium thanks largely to a slow period for the very good Alexandre Lacazette. But his numbers are going to increase with (probably, almost certainly) Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil as twin playmakers, the former who will be motivated to prove his Manchester United critics wrong (See his amazing final Bundesliga season for hope, Gunners fans).

So we’ll seek Arsenal help closer to the back, where they need center back experience thanks to the predictable slide of Per Mertesacker and the unpredictable dip in form of Laurent Koscielny. Man, Evans is a good shout here, but we’ll go off the board completely and speculate that Ajax teen center back Matthijs de Ligt is a very Arsene Wenger type player. In other words: instantly effective or not, how Wenger would it be to add a teenage CB? In a window in which he’s (maybe) sated those who want both a playmaker (Mkhitaryan) and striker (Aubameyang), that seems pretty possible.

Arsenal 4-1 Crystal Palace: Gunners rampant

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  • Arsenal have scored in all 18 home league games against Palace, totaling 43 goals – an average of 2.38 per game.
  • The Gunners grabbed their first win in six across all competitions
  • Palace haven’t won away in the PL at Arsenal since October 1994

Arsenal beat Crystal Palace 4-1 at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday after a stunning start to the game.

The Gunners were 4-0 up after just 22 minutes with Nacho Monreal, Alex Iwobi, Laurent Koscielny and Alexandre Lacazette all on the scoresheet.

Palace grabbed a goal back via Luka Milivojevic late on but the damage was done early on as Arsene Wenger‘s side reminded their doubters just what they’re capable of, even with Alexis Sanchez heading out of the door to Manchester United as he wasn’t involved on Saturday.

With the win Arsenal remain in fifth place on 42 points and are five points off the top four, while Palace remain on 25 place and drop to 13th place.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Arsenal went ahead early as Granit Xhaka‘s corner found Monreal at the back post and the Spanish defender marked his return to the team with a fine header. 1-0.

Soon it was 2-0 as Monreal was played in down the left following some slick passing from Arsenal saw the Spaniard cross for Iwobi to tap home.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The goals kept coming for Arsenal early on with Monreal involved yet again as a ball to the back post found him unmarked and his cutback was bundled home by Koscielny to make it 3-0.

Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere were then involved in a fine team goal as they set up Laceztte to finish and make it 4-0 with less than 23 minutes on the clock.

Monreal was subbed out before half time after suffering a reaction to his recent injury, while Palace almost pulled a goal back just before half time but Wilfried Zaha‘s shot was tipped wide by Petr Cech.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ] 

Palace improved in the second half and could have had a penalty kick with Zaha going down in the box under a challenge from Mohamed Elneny but nothing was given.

Arsenal had a decent chance as Ozil set up Iwobi but the latter had his shot saved well by Wayne Hennessey.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

At the other end Cech kept out Christian Benteke with a great save but he couldn’t keep Palace out. Benteke’s header across goal found Milivojevic and he chested the ball before firing home on the turn. A fine consolation goal for the Eagles.

It’s time for Arsenal to hit the reset button

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John Cross of the Mirror wrote yesterday that this is the worst Arsenal team in 20 years. He’s right, and that means it’s time to blow the squad up.

Sitting in 6th and coming off an embarrassing 2-1 loss at 13th placed Bourneouth, there is no quick fix to return this club to Champions League caliber, having slowly emaciated through years of poor transfer policy and miserable contract management.

Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, and even Jack Wilshere could all potentially leave this summer for zero return, the loss of prime talent at the height of its monetary value. Even if Sanchez does leave this January, which looks likely, he’ll leave for a cut-rate price.

In recent years, Arsenal has failed to prepare for the stark decline of defensive stalwarts Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, left with Rob Holding, Calum Chambers, and occasionally an out of position Nacho Monreal at the back. In Holding’s five Premier League starts this season, Arsenal has conceded 11 goals; Chambers has started the last four games, with just one win and seven goals conceded.

[ MORE: Man United, Chelsea battle for Alexis Sanchez ]

It doesn’t end there. With Francis Coquelin failing to live up to his sky-high potential shown early in his career, the Gunners brought in Granit Xhaka, who has been utterly useless, succeeding more at reducing his side to 10 men than he has in providing defensive cover or possessional strength. The 25-year-old Swiss is rated the 21st-best midfielder in the Premier League this season according to Squawka’s player ratings, behind guys like West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini and Watford’s Abdoulaye Doucore.

Hector Bellerin has declined for two seasons straight. Petr Cech looks all of his 35 years old, leaving fans longing for Wojciech Szczesny, who has performed his backup duties to Gianluigi Buffon to perfection (six goals conceded in 10 Serie A appearances). Lucas Perez lasted one season before being shipped out on loan. Mohamed Elneny can’t even beat out Xhaka for a starting spot. Gabriel Paulista was a flop; Mathieu Debuchy too.

The miserable squad makeup has forced youth products Alex Iwobi, Chuba Akpom, Yaya Sanogo, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles into spot starts over the last few years, with none of the above able to grab a foothold among Premier League competition.

Meanwhile, on the outgoing side, the club has sold players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who has been revived under Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool. They let Szczesny leave for Italy. Even back to the Robin Van Persie sale in the summer of 2012, they handed a top talent to a Premier League rival where he won a title. Arsenal hasn’t broken its record sale since shipping Marc Overmars to Barcelona in 2000 for $49 million, proving they can’t cash in on top talent when necessary. Allowing Alexis Sanchez to leave for pennies on the dollar (if anything) is a disaster of epic proportions, but not the first – they held onto players like Lukas Podolski too long, eventually saying goodbye far past peak value for little return.

And so, the Gunners have no other option. They must completely blow up the squad and start over. It will take some time, it will take heavy investment given the lack of assets at the club, and it might take a painful season or two. But it is what must be done. They only need to look north to Anfield to get a solid blueprint of what a top club grinding out a successful rebuild looks like.

Liverpool was in the same situation in 2015. The squad was aging, the transfer policy was poor, and aside from a 2nd place finish the year before which masked some of the problems plaguing the club, they hadn’t qualified for the Champions League since 2010. So, Fenway Sports Group blew the whole thing up. They sold Raheem Sterling, who would take years to finally blossom under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, for top dollar. They saw Steven Gerrard, Luis Enrique, and Pepe Reina out. They got rid of failures like Mario Balotelli and Lazar Markovic. They used money from the painful but necessary sale of Luis Suarez to bring in Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. They swung and missed on Christian Benteke, but righted that wrong quickly and got most of their money back. They brought in a veteran grinder in James Milner on a free. Eventually, smart money was spent on Emre Can, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mohamed Salah, and they found a gem in Philippe Coutinho for just $16 million.

The key however, through all that, was the home run hire of Jurgen Klopp, who has had plenty of growing pains in the Premier League, but is the perfect manager for a rebuild. A loyal and enigmatic character who grooms young players brilliantly, Klopp has mixed cheap veterans with promising youngsters with amazing touch, and can tactically mask squad weaknesses with the best of them. The Reds still have a ways to go as they slowly climb the ladder to perennial Champions League contender, still sporting massive holes at defense and goalkeeper, but shrewd decision-making at the top now has Liverpool with the resources to patch holes while still allowing the stars of the squad to shine.

No rebuild is perfect, and no rebuild is without pain and mistakes, but it is preferable to the alternative in the long-run. Manchester United has been able to avoid a full-on squad nuke when left in a similar position after the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, but only because of near-unlimited resources and the hiring of managers who mask deficiencies with short-term band-aids such as negative tactics which infuriate supporters and yet fail to achieve the heights the club once reached on a regular basis.

It’s clear that Arsenal must follow Liverpool’s example and sacrifice a few battles to win the war. The first step is letting go of Arsene Wenger and finding someone to lead them through the muck and still be there on the other side. While Carlo Ancelotti would be a big-name get, he wouldn’t fit a long-term plan as snug as someone like Diego Simeone.

The next step – which is no cake walk – would be to retool the squad without many assets of value on hand. Players like Jack Wilshere must be retained, while recent transfers Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac have shown enough promise and work rate to build around. The rest are expendable, and departures are required to both raise funds and provide turnover. Aaron Ramsey would be a rare example of someone who could net a solid return while also proving replaceable, as would Hector Bellerin at just 22 years old. Expired has-beens over 30 in Koscielny, Mertesacker, and Debuchy are all immediately out the door despite minimal return, while keeping Olivier Giroud and Nacho Monreal would provide valuable veteran leaders who can still produce on the field.

These aren’t all the answers, and it can’t all be done at once, but it’s a starting point. As is, the Gunners are slowly bleeding out, and instead of layers and layers of gauze, upper management should invest in wide-scale surgery for the long-term health of the club.