Mohamed Elneny

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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

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?

Watford 2-1 Arsenal: Cleverley seals upset in stoppage

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  • Mertesacker scores in rare start
  • Watford PK lone shot on target over 90…
  • …then Cleverley scored in stoppage
  • Watford moves fourth
  • Arsenal drops sixth

Tom Cleverley scored in stoppage time to hand Watford a surprising 2-1 win over Arsenal at Vicarage Road.

Per Mertesacker‘s first Premier League goal in 1400 days was offset when Troy Deeney converted a 72nd minute penalty to level the score.

Watford’s 15 points move it into the Top Four, while Arsenal sinks sixth.

The match was Watford’s first home match since its lone loss of the season, a 6-0 shellacking at home versus Manchester City.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Roberto Pereyra couldn’t turn a hard cross on goal early, and Arsenal missed a chance through Mohamed Elneny, too.

Mertesacker scored when he rose above Tom Cleverley to head home a 39th minute marker off a corner kick.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Watford was on the front foot to start the second half, with Richarlison and Andre Gray providing moments of quality and danger.

Petr Cech stopped a cross from reaching a leaping Abdoulaye Doucoure at the back post.

Arsenal needed to swing the game back in its direction, and substitute Mesut Ozil swept Alex Iwobi to the left post for a quality chance that Heurelho Gomes slapped just beyond the right post.

That’s when life got harder for Arsenal, with Hector Bellerin fouling Richarlison on the left of the 18. Richarlison certainly made the most of contact, and Deeney stepped up to face Cech. He scored.

That wasn’t the end of Watford’s chances, the hosts’ hitting the goal post in the final 10 minutes before a stoppage time rebound landed on the doorstep for Cleverley to hammer home.

Three things learned from Arsenal’s amazing win vs. Leicester

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LONDON — For most of the opening 83 minutes it looked like Arsenal would start up the season with their now customary demoralizing defeat.

Leicester City rolled into the Emirates Stadium on Friday night and led the Gunners 3-2 with seven minutes left for what looked like a shock win. Hold your horses.

Two goals from subs Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud in two minutes late on saw Arsenal go 4-3 up as they started off the Premier League season in incredible, breathtaking fashion.

A classic PL encounter saw Arsenal lead 1-0 after 94 seconds. Then Leicester went 2-1 up. Then Arsenal pulled it back to 2-2. Then Leicester went 3-2 up and then Arsenal’s late two-goal show saw them take all three points.

Here’s what we learned from a pulsating encounter in north London to open up the new PL campaign.


ARSENAL’S INCREDIBLE SPIRIT RESURFACES

This Arsenal side has a true never say die attitude. Numerous times at the back end of last season they found winners late on. They did it again to win the FA Cup in May. And they outlasted Chelsea to win on penalty kicks last weekend at Wembley.

Even though they showcased most of their flaws on Friday, you can’t fault the spirit of Arsene Wenger‘s men.

Given their poor opening day record (one win in seven before Friday) we should’ve expected another opening day collapse but given their fine preseason form and an impressive display against Chelsea to win the Community Shield last weekend at Wembley, this inept display against Leicester City was hard to believe. Yet somehow they still grabbed all three points to keep the feel-good factor intact. For now.

Petr Cech was shaky on Leicester’s first and second goals. Young center back Rob Holding (he was subbed out in the second half) was targeted by Christian Fuchs and Marc Albrighton with Mesut Ozil and Hector Bellerin giving him no protection. Central midfielders Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka were nervous on the ball and slack in possession to gift Leicester the ball in dangerous positions time and time again. Slack zonal marking allowed Jamie Vardy to make it 3-2.

Wenger was left shaking his head on the sidelines for much of the opening 67 minutes of this game with Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud brought on to try and rescue a point. Somehow they got more than that.

Those subs forced a desperate defensive reshuffle which saw a winger (Oxlade-Chamberlain) at right back, two left backs (Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac) at center back and a right back (Bellerin) at left back, and some of the reasons for this disjointed display were due to Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi and Per Mertesacker all being unavailable. That’s acceptable but perhaps proved that Arsenal’s second-string defenders may not be as good as we thought.

Following his new two-year contract the pressure had eased on Wenger over the summer after improved displays in April and May with a 3-4-3 system, an FA Cup victory to end last season and the signing of Alexandre Lacazette.

Wenger will get plenty of the plaudits once again for a dramatic opening night win which saw his two subs work perfectly.

Still, with no end in sight to the Ozil and Alexis Sanchez contract saga, how long will it be before a shock defeat, which this easily could have been, will force the “Wenger Out” banners to appear once again?


SLIGHT HOPE FOR LEICESTER

There were glimpses that this season will be about much more than just settling for midtable obscurity for Leicester.

The way they ruthlessly pounced on Arsenal mistakes was highlighted by their second via a Albrighton cross for Vardy to tap home at the back post. Vintage Leicester.

They sat back, forced Arsenal into making mistakes and had Vardy’s pace on the break to hurt the Gunners. Yes, they looked shaky at times in defense with Lacazette and Welbeck combining well in and around the box, but most teams struggle with that against Arsenal.

There is no excusing the way Craig Shakespeare‘s men collapsed late in the game to have victory snatched away from them as they left north London empty handed. Yet there is hope they can play like this against most teams in the PL and win games.

Still, not the ideal start for Shakespeare as a manager who has spent plenty of cash ahead of first full season in charge in the Premier League.


LACAZETTE THE BRIGHT SPOT

It took Lacazette just 94 seconds to score in the Premier League with his second touch in England’s top-flight. The first was a kick off.

The 26-year-old Frenchman averaged a goal every 80 minutes during his Ligue 1 career with Lyon and he’s started in fine style.

Lacazette’s goalscoring ability is one thing, but his ability to link up with Arsenal’s other attackers inside the box is an added bonus. You do not get that from most poachers.

He is a menace in the box and was involved in both Welbeck’s goal to make it 2-2 and his incredible trickery and powerful shot forced Kasper Schmeichel into a fine stop which led to the corner for Giroud to score the winner.

For most of his career Lacazette is a man who has been in the right place at the right time and it seems he will carry on that trend at Arsenal.

 

Arsenal 4-3 Leicester City: Super subs complete wild Gunners comeback

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  • Lacazette scores 1st PL goal 2 minutes in
  • Leicester hit twice against the run of play
  • Welbeck equalizes on stroke of HT
  • Subs Ramsey, Giroud complete comeback

The Premier League opened in wild fashion at The Emirates as the Arsenal defense crumbled time and time again, but were rescued by substitutes Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud, who each scored in the final six minutes to bring the Gunners from 3-2 down to a 4-3 win.

Arsenal started brilliantly and struck just two minutes in as the Gunners pinged the ball around the box perfectly. Hector Bellerin controlled a switch and cut the ball to Mohamed Elneny outside the top of the box. The Egyptian flicked the ball over the defense perfectly to the head of Lacazette waiting at the back post, and he poked a stunningly accurate header just between Kasper Schmeichel and the post.

[ MORE: Arsenal shows fighting spirit | 3 Things Learned ]

It wouldn’t last long. Just two minutes later, Leicester City hit back. The Foxes played a short corner eventually whipped in by Marc Albrighton to the far post, where new boy Harry Maguire headed it back in front of net for Shinji Okazaki who put his head to the ball from point-blank range for the equalizer.

The Gunners reclaimed control of the match after conceding, and bullied Leicester City off the ball whenever they stole possession. Arsenal nearly went back in front after some beautiful one-touch passing built up to a sliding Danny Welbeck shot, but his goalbound effort was blocked by Harry Maguire.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Despite that, Leicester City took their few chances and went shockingly in front against the run of play. Granit Xhaka gave the ball away poorly in the Arsenal half, and Albrighton was there to deliver another fabulous cross. It fell right at the feet of a streaking Jamie Vardy who bagged the easiest of tap-in goals.

Arsenal started to fall apart after conceding the lead, giving the ball away constantly and looking sliced open at the back. Okazaki came close to a second goal, heading yet another fabulous Albrighton cross just wide right.

The Gunners did get back level just before the break in first-half stoppage time with what looked like a prayer. A scuffed shot by a wheeling Lacazette clipped a defender and fell right into the path of Sead Kolasinac, who was free on goal with Welbeck, and he fed the England international who tapped in.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

After the break, the Gunners defense fell asleep again as Vardy snuck in front of Xhaka and headed in off a corner before the hour mark to put Leicester City up 3-2.

After going behind a second time, Arsenal again pushed forward and put Leicester on the back foot. They came agonizingly close as Schmeichel saved well on a deep effort from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Schmeichel was required again four minutes later as he smothered a shot from Bellerin. Arsene Wenger brought on Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud, and moved a host of players into unnatural positions in a desperate attempt to put on pressure.

That apparently did the trick, as Arsenal would complete the wild comeback. First, it was Ramsey in the 84th minute to finish from a tight angle after an expert side-footed assist from Xhaka. Then, just two minutes later, the hero Giroud headed off the underside of the crossbar just over the line for the win.