Rob Holding

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Premier League preview: Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur

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  • 194th edition of the north London derby
  • Spurs unbeaten in 6 vs. Arsenal: D-W-D-D-D-W
  • Spurs 3rd in the PL; Arsenal 6th

Has the balance of power shifted in north London? The 2016-17 season was the first in 22 years to see Tottenham Hotspur finish above Arsenal. While it’s clearly just one out of 23 seasons to finish with Tottenham on top, their respective trajectories have been moving in opposite directions considerably longer.

The latest installment of one of the Premier League’s fiercest, and suddenly most consequential, rivalries kicks off a full weekend of action on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com), following the final international break of 2017.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Given Manchester City’s blistering start, the current season already seems a serious long shot that either side will mount a serious title challenge — Spurs currently sit third (eight points back of Man City) ahead of their trip to the Emirates Stadium, home of the sixth-place Gunners (12 back). The Emirates has been a tough place for Spurs to pull off the upset, having failed to win their last six times away to Arsenal, though draws in three straight will certainly have Mauricio Pochettino‘s side believing they’re now equals — if not superiors — and the time is now.

The international break couldn’t have come at a better time for either side: Arsenal, having been thoroughly beaten by City their last time out; Spurs, having suffered a handful of short- and medium-term injuries to a number of key figures — Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Harry Winks all skipped England duty to achieve full fitness ahead of Saturday, while Toby Aldeweireld is out an additional month and Hugo Lloris could miss another week.

As for the managers, Pochettino has been extremely complimentary of Wenger — as he’s always done since arriving at Spurs in the summer of 2014 — while his counterpart isn’t at all ready to concede Arsenal’s place at the north London summit.

What they’re saying

Arsene Wenger, on the rivalry: “Today, people always take one situation and it is permanent. The judgement is definite, permanent and forever. … It is down to us to change the opinions of people with our performances, I cannot say much more. If they have a perception like that they have a perception like that but how can you respond? Not by me talking here, we need to show on Saturday that it’s not true.”

Mauricio Pochettino, on Wenger: “In football history he is one of the great managers, the same level as Sir Alex Ferguson. He will always be a special manager. … To keep motivation more than three years is difficult. Five years, you must be very good, very good if you are 10 years. When you talk about 20 years it is amazing. Everyone who talks about him needs to show respect. … Arsene Wenger is my enemy because he is Arsenal manager but he is my colleague too. What he is doing at Arsenal and as a manager – I would like to be like him one day, 20 years at Tottenham.”

INJURIES: Arsenal — OUT: Olivier Giroud (thigh), Rob Holding (thigh), Santi Cazorla (achilles); QUESTIONABLE: Danny Welbeck (hamstring), Shkodran Mustafi (thigh) | Tottenham — OUT: Toby Aldeweireld (hamstring), Victor Wanyama (knee), Erik Lamela (hip); QUESTIONABLE: Hugo Lloris (groin); RETURNING: Dele Alli (hamstring), Harry Winks (ankle)

Prediction

A draw featuring (multiple) goals for both sides seems completely inevitable and unavoidable. Spurs have closed the gap to the point they’ll actually expect to win at the Emirates, but the quality of Arsenal’s squad, coupled with their desperation to challenge for a top-four place, is more than enough to put the two sides back on level footing and result in a thrilling, end-to-end deadlock which leaves neither side particularly pleased in the end.

Europa League: Arsenal fend off BATE; Everton draw Limassol

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A roundup of all of Thursday’s Europa League group-stage action…

[ MORE: Carlo Ancelotti out as Bayern Munich manager ]

BATE Borisov 2-4 Arsenal

When Arsenal learned their European fate would be the Europa League this season, midweek trips to Belarus are precisely what they would have lamented. Alas, Arsene Wenger‘s side dealt with little resistance on Thursday, as Theo Walcott provided the Gunners an early two-goal lead (9th and 22nd minutes), followed not much later by Rob Holding‘s winner in the 25th minute, and Olivier Giroud‘s 100th goal for the club (all competitions) four minutes after halftime.

Everton 2-2 Apollon Limassol

Everton’s clash with Cypriot side Apollon Limassol went far less swimmingly, as Ronald Koeman‘s side dropped a pair of points in a game (and first half, particularly) that can best be summed up as a comedy of defensive errors. Ashley Williams got things underway…

Limassol returned the favor tenfold not even 10 minutes later, gifting Wayne Rooney the easiest goal he’ll ever score…

Nikola Vlasic scored his first goal for the club, what looked likely to be the game-winning goal for quite some time, but Limassol, down to 10 men at this point, grabbed an 88th-minute equalizer courtesy of Hector Yuste.

AC Milan 3-2 Rijeka

After spending more than $200 million during the summer transfer window, AC Milan’s season has started rather interestingly, if not predictably. With so many new figures central to the club’s future brought in during the same period, they were bound to require time to gel and find their stride. Thursday’s dramatic 3-2 win over Croatian side Rijeka serves as an ideal microcosm of that process.

2-0 up after 83 minutes (Andre Silva, 14th minute; Matteo Mussachio, 53rd), Milan did everything in their power to capitulate and drop two points at home. Boadu Maxwell Acosty made it 2-1 in the 84th minute, followed by Josip Elez in the 90th. It would be 19-year-old Patrick Cutrone, who as a product of the club’s youth academy accounted for $0 of the above sum, who played the part of hero on the day, bagging his third goal of the season (all competitions) in the 93rd minute.

Notable Europa League scoreboard

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

Walcott brace helps Arsenal top BATE in Europa League action

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The Gunners have certainly found their groove as of late, and Arsene Wenger‘s side has extended its unbeaten streak to six matches across all competitions with a win on Thursday against BATE Borisov.

Arsenal topped their Belarusian opposition, 4-2, behind a pair of first-half goals from Theo Walcott, while Rob Holding and Olivier Giroud also chimed in at Borisov Arena.

[ MORE: Man City confirms Mendy will undergo surgery for ACL injury ]

It took the Gunners just nine minutes to find the back of the net, when Walcott finished a close-range effort, before doubling the lead in the 22nd minute after a terrible giveaway by BATE goalkeeper Denis Shcherbitski.

Rob Holding soon gave Arsenal its third in the 25th minute (his first for the club) when a corner kick came his way. Per Mertesacker‘s initial header came into the path of the defender and deflected into Holding’s leg before entering the goal.

The home side manage to get a goal back before the half-hour mark though, when Mirko Ivanic’s powerful header beat David Ospina, despite the keeper getting a faint touch to the attempt.

The second half was made more difficult for BATE right out of the gate though, as Olivier Giroud struck his 100th Arsenal goal just minutes into the stanza from the penalty spot.

BATE closed the deficit to 4-2 with under 25 minutes remaining through Mikhail Gordeichuk, and continued to test the visitors in the latter stages of the match.

Arsenal sits in full control of Group H on six points following the team’s second straight win, while BATE drops to third place.

Transfer rumor wrap: Bale to Man United; Mbappe to PSG

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Spanish outlet Don Balon claim Manchester United have bid $118 million for Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale.

Despite Bale, 28, insisting he wants to stay at Real and club president Florentino Perez saying he is going nowhere, Bale was jeered by Real’s fans once again on Sunday as he missed multiple chances in their 2-2 draw against Valencia at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Bale has five years left on his current contract at Real Madrid (he only signed a big new extension last October) but Jose Mourinho previously said he would “be waiting at the airport” for Bale if his situation changed with Real.

The Welsh wizard has scored 68 goals in 154 appearances for Real over the past five seasons but with Marco Asensio and Lucas Vasquez challenging to become first team regulars, Bale has a little more competition this season with Cristiano Ronaldo and Karem Benzema guaranteed starters for the reigning European and Spanish champions.

Mourinho has made no secret that United are said to be looking for a wide player for much of the summer with a move for Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic seemingly falling by the wayside. Yet with Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Henrikh Mhitaryan and Jesse Lingard, how many wide players does Mourinho need?

Is it time Bale returned to the Premier League after winning everything he can at Real? That still seems like a year or two away, if it happens at all, but Bale being booed by his own supporters will be music to the ears of the PL’s big boys who hope to pry him away from the Spanish capital.


Arsenal could lose German center back Shkodran Mustafi to Inter Milan.

Sky Italy say that Mustafi, 25, has agreed personal terms with Inter and believe that an agreement over an initial loan deal is close between the two clubs.

Mustafi joined Arsenal from Valencia for $45 million last summer and the German international impressed for the Gunners despite their fifth-place finish in the Premier League table.

Composed on the ball and able to play in a flat back four or as one of three central defenders, quite why Arsenal would let Mustafi leave is a bit mind-boggling.

With the rise of Rob Holding, plus Nacho Monreal playing as a center back, perhaps Wenger thinks he has sufficient cover at center back with Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker also around.

The deal for Mustafi is believed to be a loan deal with an option to buy.


Kylian Mbappe’s move to Paris Saint-Germain is edging closer with the French national team teenager arriving for national team duty.

Mbappe, 18, is said to have had a medical with PSG while the finer points of the massive $214 million deal are sorted out.

Per multiple reports Monaco will loan Mbappe to PSG for the 2017-18 season and then the deal will be made permanent next summer.

That is due to PSG’s world-record $262 million deal for Neymar earlier this month, as Les Parisiens are concerned another $200 million-plus will, obviously, see them struggle to met UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules.

Mbappe is set for a 2,000 percent pay rise which will see him paid $387,000 per week.

The teenage talent burst onto the scenes last season with Monaco, scoring 27 times in his first full season in the pro game as he led the Ligue 1 club to the French title, the UEFA Champions League semifinals and also made his debut for France.


Leicester City are said to have had a bid of $27.1 million turned down by West Bromwich Albion for their captain Jonny Evans and it is believed the Baggies want $38 million for Evans.

The Northern Ireland national team defender has missed West Brom’s last two games with an injured hamstring and despite stating in the matchday programme before West Brom’s 1-1 draw vs. Stoke on Sunday that he wants to stay, another bid has arrived from the Foxes.

Evans has been a target for both Manchester City and Leicester over the past few weeks as the former Manchester United defender has quietly become one of the star defenders in the league over the past 12 months.

Despite Tony Pulis stating Evans will remain at the Hawthorns, if a huge bid arrives from Man City or Leicester in the final days of the window, can the Baggies really turn it down?

Leicester have already improved their defense drastically this summer by adding Harry Maguire from Hull City with the center back handed his first England national team call-up last week. Man City are said to be chasing Evans with one eye on his status as a “homegrown player” under PL rules.

Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal: Reds trample Gunners underfoot

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  • Firmino, Salah goal, assist each
  • Mane scores beauty
  • Lacazette doesn’t start
  • Cech stars in loss

Liverpool is second in the Premier League table heading into the international break after embarrassing rivals Arsenal 4-0 at Anfield on Sunday.

Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, and Daniel Sturridge scored for the Reds, with Firmino and Salah also registering assists.

Arsenal started Alexis Sanchez but it made little difference as the Gunners lost their second in three to fall into 16th.

[ MORE: Wenger reacts ]

Mohamed Salah showed some early wizardry that failed to find a receiver, and moments later Emre Can headed wide of the far post in a bright start for the hosts.

Petr Cech made a back post recovery to thwart Salah’s assumed goal. A better shot should’ve been proffered, but that hardly makes the save less outstanding.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Sadio Mane’s electric left wing play earned a penalty shout one minute and a corner kick the next, the latter played short and handled by Arsenal.

That’s when Firmino made it 1-0, using his head to pound a cross off the ground and past a diving Cech.

Jordan Henderson couldn’t convert from an extremely tight angle with a chance to make it 2-0 in the 19th minute.

Salah forced Cech into another save in the 25th minute.

Mane then punished Rob Holding for given him time and space with a simply marvelous curling finish around Cech in the 40th minute.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Arsenal’s first moments of the second half were promising, and Liverpool was more of a countering side when Salah was stopped by Cech before Henderson blazed over the bar.

Salah didn’t miss with his next chance, a 80-plus yard breakaway began by a cleared Arsenal corner. Hector Bellerin made an absolute mess of the ball, and Cech couldn’t low fast enough to swat away the ex-Roma man’s strike.

Wenger inserted Alexandre Lacazette and Olivier Giroud with about a half hour to play.

Sturridge added the fourth in the 78th on another counter attack, an unreal cross from Salah that the English striker barely had to stoop to meet.