Arsenal

NORWICH, ENGLAND - MAY 11:  Laurent Koscielny of Arsenal and Johan Elmander of Norwich City compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Arsenal at Carrow Road on May 11, 2014 in Norwich, England.  (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

Premier League Preview: Arsenal vs. Norwich City

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  • Arsenal is unbeaten in last six matches
  • Teams drew 1-1 back in November
  • Norwich has lost two straight

Arsenal hosts Norwich City on Saturday at the Emirates Stadium (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via Live Extra) with the Canaries seeking life in their relegation battle.

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Three matches remain and Arsenal sits in a precarious position, despite occupying third in the Premier League. Level on 64 points with Manchester City, the Gunners are in search of three points in order to create separation in the battle for the final automatic Champions League qualification spot. In the event Arsenal finishes fourth, Arsene Wenger‘s side would have to go through qualifying in the competition.

[ MORE: Sunderland travels to Stoke looking to extend unbeaten run to three ]

The Canaries have lost two straight to bottom half sides, following a thrilling 3-2 victory over Newcastle in early-April. With only three wins to back them up in the new year, Norwich really needs to turn up the dial as the PL season winds down. Sunderland’s form has increased and a string of Newcastle results has Norwich scrambling. Being on the road at the Emirates doesn’t necessarily help their case either.

What they’re saying…

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: “I have no doubt because I am committed and when I do something I do it 100%. I am always committed to give my best as long as I am at the club. I don’t worry too much about the rest, what other people say.”

Norwich boss Alex Neil : “The bottom line is we have to go there with the intention of bringing something back, be it three points, which would be great, or a point. Whatever the case may be. We just want to go there and play as well as we can, and if we do that then we have a chance against them.”

Prediction

It’s quite simple. Norwich needs a victory, and as much as they have shown this season, it simply doesn’t seem like they have enough to complete the task. Arsenal wins 2-0, a massive gut-punch to the Canaries with three games to play.

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Transfer rumors: Memphis, Mane swap; Kante to Man City, Arsenal

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 14:  N'Golo Kante of Leicester City battles for the ball with Francis Coquelin of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Leicester City at Emirates Stadium on February 14, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
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Silly season is heating up.

With the transfer window reopening on July 1, there’s still over two months until players can officially move on in the Premier League.

[ MORE: Sakho suspended by UEFA ]

However, with a busy summer of international tournaments coming up — the Copa America Centenario and EURO 2016 will take center stage — there is already plenty of whispers about player movement emanating from the gossip columns.

[ MORE: Kante’s importance to Leicester ]

Here’s a look at a few of the latest rumors…


Despite being on the brink of winning the Premier League title with Leicester City, there are multiple reports that N'Golo Kante will move on this summer. The diminutive yet brilliantly destructive central midfielder joined Leicester from Caen last summer for $7.5 million but the the Sun newspaper claims he could be heading to Arsenal this summer, while the Daily Mirror says Manchester City have joined the chase.

The 25-year-old midfielder was on the shortlist for PFA Player of the Year and has been the heartbeat of Leicester’s success. He leads the PL in tackles and interceptions and in his first season in England he’s taken the league by storm. With Arsenal’s growing need for a top-class holding midfielder, it seems like Francis Coquelin has turned into a stopgap solution with numerous reports also linking Arsenal with a move for Borussia Monchengladbach’s Granit Xhaka this summer. Arsene Wenger has previously admitted he’s known about Kante since he was 10-years-old (add him to Wenger’s growing list of “we looked at the player” players) from one of his close friends in France.

The Sun also claims to Arsenal is keen on another Leicester star, recently named PFA Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez. It would cost Arsenal a cool $37.5 million to pick up Mahrez, though, and if the Foxes did want to cash in then that would be a considerable profit on the $800,000 they paid Le Havre for him two years ago.

Back to Kante, and the Mirror claims that Leicester have already told the French international midfielder he can leave this summer… as and when they line up a suitable replacement. His manager Claudio Ranieri has already said as much regarding Kante and mentioned he wouldn’t stand in anybody’s way if they wanted to leave. The Mirror believes incoming Man City manager Pep Guardiola is a big fan of Kante, but is there room for both him and Ilkay Gundogan in a new-look City midfield? It is reported that the Borussia Dortmund midfielder has agreed a deal in principle to sign for City this summer. That said, if he does end up leaving Leicester this summer then Kante will have plenty of options as Juventus, Chelsea, Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain are also said to be willing to sign him.

Unless for a huge pay day, why would Kante not want to stay at Leicester for another season and play in the Champions League for the Foxes?

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MARCH 20:  Sadio Mane of Southampton shoots past Mamadou Sakho of Liverpool to score their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on March 20, 2016 in Southampton, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images)

Two others players who could be on the move this summer are Manchester United’s Memphis and Southampton’s Sadio Mane. In fact, the duo could be involved in a swap deal according to multiple outlets.

Memphis, 22, has failed to life up to the hype in his debut season in England and has scored just twice in the PL for United under fellow Dutchman Louis Van Gaal. The pacey winger started the season brightly but has faded dramatically and lost his place in the team midway through the campaign. He signed from PSV Eindhoven for $37 million last summer but the Daily Start reports that United are desperate to get rid of Memphis and combined with their admiration for Mane, it could work out.

Now, United had bids turned down by Southampton for Mane last summer and they’re adamant their Senegalese international forward is worth in-excess of $45 million. However with Mane being a little up and down this season plus Saints boss Ronald Koeman previously admitting he tried to sign Memphis before United did, perhaps this deal would suit everybody concerned. Mane, on his day, can rip teams apart either out wide or centrally with his searing pace making him unplayable. He has scored four goals in his last five games for Saints and 11 in 40 appearances this season.

In all honesty, Memphis needs a fresh start and Southampton could provide that. That said, Koeman would be losing his main attacking threat and Saints should not let Mane go cheaply if they decide to to cash in. So, Memphis plus $25 million for Mane. What do you think of that deal?

Arsenal supporters planning protest as Gunners falter down the stretch

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 21:  Arsenal fans hold banners after the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion at the Emirates Stadium on April 21, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
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Arsenal look to be in line for their 12th-straight top-four finish in the Premier League, a great mark of consistency in an unpredictable league.

Unfortunately, the Gunners have not won the title since 2004 and supporters are fed up with the club’s complacent attitude.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

At next weekend’s match against Norwich City, Arsenal supporters’ groups are planning a mass protest, printing out thousands of signs that read “Time for Change: Arsenal is stale, Fresh approach needed.”  These signs will be held up in the 12th and 78th minutes, representing the 12 years since Arsenal won the league.

Below are statements released from two groups that are organizing the protest.

From The Black Scarf Movement: The current season has been one of massive disappointment for Arsenal fans, with the campaign fizzling out in a depressingly limp fashion.

Over the past few years – massively so in recent months – increasing number of supporters have become fed up with the club.

From REDaction: We have an absentee owner who takes money from the club whilst not engaging with fans. We have a manager who won’t use the resources available to him, to strengthen a squad which everybody can see needs investment. Throw in some of the highest ticket prices in world football. And, all of the Groundhog seasons, where it’s clear that the fans’ ambitions are not matched by those in charge.

Fans have become increasingly upset as the club falters down the stretch, with many staying home for Arsenal’s match against West Brom last week. While some blame manager Arsene Wenger, others believe the board is focused more on the business side of things, rather than the football.

Sunderland 0-0 Arsenal: Both sides wasteful as Gunners come up empty

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - APRIL 24:  Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal holds off Patrick van Aanholt of Sunderland during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Arsenal at the Stadium of Light on April 24, 2016 in Sunderland, United Kingdom. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
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  • Arsenal remains in fourth, even with Manchester City on 64 points
  • Sunderland is out of the relegation zone on goal differential
  • Olivier Giroud has not scored in his last 14 league appearances

The Gunners had the opportunity to jump into third place with a win, but instead came up empty at the Stadium of Light as they were held by a feisty Sunderland side that also missed big moments.

There were plenty of opportunities for both teams to snatch the win, but neither side was lethal as both failed to capitalize. While Arsenal remains in fourth, the point for Sunderland has them out of the relegation zone, level with Norwich City on 31 points but holding a better goal differential.

Arsenal surged onto the ball early on, as Alex Iwobi found space and rifled a shot just wide three minutes in. Sunderland responded immediately, with Jermain Defoe forcing a save from Petr Cech and earning a corner. The Black Cats kept up the pressure in the 15th minute as Yann M’Villa beat Aaron Ramsey and rifled a shot that deflected off Laurent Koscielny and went for another corner. That produced a Lee Cattermole shot that skittered just wide.

[ MORE: Arsenal and the rut of consistency ]

Patrick van Anholt just missed with a free-kick in the 21st minute, a beautiful effort that clanged the corner of the post and off.

Then it was Arsenal’s turn to turn up the heat. Past the half-hour mark, as things appeared to be slowing down, a corner swung in to Olivier Giroud at the near post, and he headed it across the face of goal. Iwobi was waiting, and catapulted up above the defense to power a header on goal, just kept out by a critical block from DeAndre Yedlin who was glued to the post.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Arsenal poured on the pressure as the half came to a close, and another chance went begging as Mesut Ozil lofted a ball in to Giroud, who touched back for Iwobi in acres of space on the penalty spot, but again his low shot was blocked.

Each team had a penalty shout before the halftime whistle sounded. Per Mertesacker handled the ball on a close-range shot from Defoe, but referee Mike Dean waved off the protests as Mertesacker had little time to react and his arms were being pulled in on contact. Arsenal had one down the other end as an Iwobi cross hit Yedlin’s hand as he slid to block, but the referee said no again.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Following the halftime break, Arsenal looked the most dangerous side until the 65th minute, when Sunderland took control. Defoe had a brilliant chance to spring Borini all alone in front of net, but saw his cross blocked. The resulting corner was another key moment as Laurent Koscienly inexplicably ducked under the ball, but Lamine Kone, expecting Koscielny to head it away, stopped and missed his opportunity to touch home.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Arsenal brought on Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck for the stretch run, and the chances flew in for both sides. Welbeck had a go with eight minutes left, but his low effort was right at Vito Mannone. It was Sunderland who had the chances as time wound down, with a host of corners in added time. Kone went for an acrobatic bicycle kick, but it went just over the bar.

Watch Live: Sunderland vs. Arsenal (Lineups & Live Stream)

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05: Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal and Yann M'Vila of Sunderland compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Sunderland at Emirates Stadiumon December 5, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
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Arsenal looks to further secure its position in the top four and rise back into third for the second time in four days as they travel to the Stadium of Light to take on Sunderland live on NBCSN at 9:05 a.m. ET or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.

[ WATCH LIVE: Sunderland vs. Arsenal live online at NBC Sports Live Extra ]

The Gunners took care of West Brom on Thursday to move into third position, but were jumped again by Manchester City after their demolition of Stoke City on Saturday. Manager Arsene Wenger has utilized an unchanged starting 11 from the win on Thursday, leaving Danny Welbeck on the bench.

Jack Wilshere also makes the Arsenal squad for the first time this season, on the bench after struggling for much of the year with injuries. Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky are both still out despite returning to training in the last few days.

For Sunderland, a shock win could see them off the bottom three, above Norwich and out of the relegation zone. Even a draw would see them jump Norwich City on goal differential. Having defeated Norwich last time out, Sam Allardyce has named an unchanged side from that victory, with USMNT regular DeAndre Yedlin in along the back line, a surprising inclusion considering an ankle injury he picked up in the Norwich win. Fabio Borini is also in after battling a hip problem.

With Sunderland fighting for their lives and Arsenal’s recent form, a draw could be in play today. The Gunners have drawn three of their last five games, and have won just three of their last 11 away matches in league play. However, Arsenal has had Sunderland’s number in this fixture, having won four straight at the Stadium of Light.

LINEUPS

Sunderland: Mannone, Yedlin, van Aanholt, Kaboul, Kone, Kirchhoff, M’Vila, Cattermole, Borini, Khazri, Defoe.
Bench: 
Pickford, Jones, Larsson, Rodwell, N’Doye, O’Shea, Watmore.

Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Elneny, Ramsey, Ozil, Iwobi, Alexis, Giroud.
Bench: Ospina, Gabriel, Coquelin, Wilshere, Campbell, Walcott, Welbeck.