Arsenal

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Paul Pogba of Manchester United (L) celebrates scoring his sides fourth goal with Jesse Lingard of Manchester United (R) during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Leicester City at Old Trafford on September 24, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Premier League roundup: Arsenal thrash Chelsea; City, United, Liverpool win big

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in the Premier League…

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Arsenal 3-0 ChelseaFULL RECAP

Arsene Wenger was appointed Arsenal manager 20 years ago next Saturday, deservedly making the upcoming week all about the legendary Frenchman. On top of his two decades of guidance, Arsenal also fans have a 3-0 thrashing of London rivals Chelsea to celebrate. Saturday’s meeting at the Emirates Stadium was over not long after it started, Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott putting the Gunners 2-0 up inside the first 15 minutes. Mesut Ozil made it 3-0 not long before halftime, and that was that. The best Arsenal performance since … when, exactly? It’s been a while.


Swansea City 1-3 Manchester CityFULL RECAP

Will Pep Guardiola ever lose a game drop a point in the PL? That almost seems the more proper question, rather than, “When will he?” Swansea were his latest victims on Saturday, with many thanks due to the return of Sergio Aguero (suspension) and the brace he scored. Raheem Sterling bagged the other for Man City, a spectacular piece of dribbling that left Kyle Naughton‘s body on the floor and his soul in Aguero’s back pocket (WATCH HERE).

SWANSEA, WALES - SEPTEMBER 24: Raheem Sterling of Manchester City scores his sides third goal during the Premier League match between Swansea City and Manchester City at the Liberty Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Swansea, Wales. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Manchester United 4-1 Leicester CityFULL RECAP

Wayne Rooney was dropped to the bench, and voila, Man United were a devastating attacking team against Leicester. Coincidence? The world may never know. The personnel move did allow Paul Pogba to play further up the field, just behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic, which resulted in the world-record signing scoring his first goal for the club. It came in the 42nd minute, and it capped off a four-goal first half for United, which also saw Chris Smalling, Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford on the scoresheet.


Liverpool 5-1 Hull CityFULL RECAP

James Milner‘s pair of penalty kicks led the way for Liverpool, who also got goals from Sadio Mane, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana, in a 5-1 demolition of 10-man Hull. Coutinho’s goal was the pick of the litter (WATCH HERE), and perfectly exemplified the ruthless nature of the Reds’ devastating attack. Now level with Arsenal and Everton, just one point back of Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool are unquestionably in the race for the top four, and one of a few clubs with an outside shot at making a play for the title if everything falls their way.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool scores their fourth goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Hull City at Anfield on September 24, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Middlesbrough 1-2 Tottenham HotspurFULL RECAP

Heung-Min Son‘s first season in the PL was a largely forgettable campaign for the Tottenham attacker — four goals in 28 appearances — but after a full season in England, and a regular place in the starting rotation in 2016-17, the South Korean has matched last season’s output of goals already, through three appearances this season. Nos. 3 and 4 came in the first half on Saturday, helping Spurs to six games unbeaten on the season (one of two sides without a loss). No Harry Kane, no problem for Mauricio Pochettino.


Bournemouth 1-0 EvertonFULL RECAP

Everton were the side stricken from the ranks of the unbeaten on Saturday, losing 1-0 away to Bournemouth. The goal, scored by Junior Stanislas in the 23rd minute, was one of just three shots on target between the two sides. What the Cherries and Toffees lacked in quantity, Stanislas more than made up for with quality (WATCH HERE).


Sunderland 2-3 Crystal PalaceFULL RECAP

The spending power of PL clubs is simply unmatched the world over. For proof, look no further than Palace, a relatively small club in the grand scheme of the world’s game, spending $41 million on Christian Benteke this summer. A year after transfer rumors linked the big Belgian to some of the biggest clubs in Europe, he’s signed for last season’s 15th-place finishers. On Saturday, he’s scored his second goal in four games for the club, the 93rd-minute winner at the Stadium of Light. Imagine being, say, Atletico Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Schalke, or any club of that size, and saying to yourself, “We’d love to have Benteke, but Palace are in for him. We can’t compete with that.” Palace, by the way, came back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 against Sunderland.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Christian Benteke of Crystal Palace celebrates scoring his sides third goal during the Premier League match between Sunderland and Crystal Palace at the Stadium of Light on September 24, 2016 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Stoke City 1-1 West Bromwich AlbionFULL RECAP

The hits just keep on coming for Stoke and Mark Hughes. The Potters just had to survive a few minutes of stoppage time, and victory was theirs for the first time in 2016-17. Instead, Salomon Rondon grabbed a 91st-minute equalizer, and Stoke would settle for their second point of the season. Fortunately for Stoke, Sunderland’s loss means the Black Cats replace them at the bottom of the league.


Sunday’s PL schedule

West Ham United vs. Southampton — 11 a.m. ET, NBCSN/NBCSports.com | FULL PREVIEW

Don’t look now, but Arsenal’s set up for a big Premier League run

Arsenal team manager Arsene Wenger applauds during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium in London, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
AP Photo/Matt Dunham
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With a suspect Arsenal defense to open the season, the world watched as Liverpool battered Arsene Wenger‘s squad on Opening Day, a 4-3 loss that had the #WengerOut crowd foaming at the mouth, perhaps justly.

This was a manager who hadn’t exactly buoyed the confidence of his fans, and in fact had given his detractors more fuel. The same man who lamented the fee paid for Anthony Martial last year only to see the young Frenchman shine for his rivals was lamenting the ineffectiveness of “Financial Fair Play”.

[ MORE: Arsenal-Chelsea recap | 3 things ]

A funny thing happened, though, on the way to the Champions League group stage; We saw a confident Wenger carry a bit of a strut en route to Paris, claiming readiness to succeed in ways the Gunners hadn’t in a while.

On Saturday, after a rollicking 3-0 home win over Arsenal earned his side a standing ovation from the Emirates Stadium crowd, Wenger was beaming at his side’s “style and steel“.

And as our own Joe Prince-Wright heard in his post-match comments, the man celebrating his 20th year running Arsenal has an increased appetite for success. He was asked how his hunger compares to when he began his time at Arsenal.

“I’m hungrier because I know I don’t have 20 years in front of me, and as well because I feel more responsibility. I’m more conscious of what’s all about Arsenal. The weight of keeping people happy is heavier than when I arrived.”

And rightly so. After drawing at Leicester City on Matchday 2, Arsenal is 4-0 in the Premier League, 1-0 in the EFL Cup, and showed terrific heart in drawing on the road at Paris Saint-Germain.

While the money he paid for new players Shkrodan Mustafi, Lucas Perez, and Granit Xhaka wasn’t a pittance, the moves are looking shrewd right now. And the cupboard has been stocked with stars who were on show Saturday, including standout days for Hector Bellerin and Mesut Ozil.

When I was researching numbers for my post on Pep Guardiola’s hot start at Manchester City, I couldn’t help but be surprised at how many times Arsenal’s name was showing up either on their heels or leading in key offensive and possession categories.

[ BUNDESLIGA: Chicharito nets three ]

Arsenal has a very forgiving schedule in the lead-up to a brutal November, and can build itself a cushion in the competition for a Top Four spot before a 17-day stretch that sees it hosting Spurs and PSG with a visit to Manchester United in between.

Wednesday — HOME vs. Basel (UCL)
Oct. 2 — at Burnley
Oct. 15 — HOME vs. Swansea
Oct. 19 — HOME vs. Ludogorets (UCL)
Oct. 22 — HOME vs. Middlesbrough
Oct. 25 — HOME vs. Reading (EFL Cup)
Oct. 29 — at Sunderland

Gooners will be begging their side to give them 12-straight points, and a strong UCL performance could even render the PSG match in November more about positioning than advancement.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

In the meantime, Man City will be heading to Tottenham and hosting Everton amongst its fixtures, while Liverpool tangles with Manchester United. Those Red Devils also have to face Chelsea in October.

Wenger’s no fool: He’s seen the fixtures. Arsenal is primed to be atop or close to the top of the table in early November. With PSG slipping a bit in league play, perhaps a UCL slip-up could have the Gunners atop their group before that November match-up.

It’s too soon to talk title, but watching Arsenal on Saturday was to be reminded of the best times under Wenger.

And to imagine what could be come May.

“Style and steel” — Wenger beams after big Arsenal win

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal claps his teams performance after the final whistle during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on September 24, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images
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Arsene Wenger is feeling vindicated, but remains vigilant after Arsenal bossed Chelsea on Saturday at the Emirates.

Everything was there in Arsenal’s 3-0 home win; Stifling defense, clinical finishing, and mastery in the middle of the park combined for a complete performance against Antonio Conte‘s Blues.

[ MORE: Match recap | 3 things ]

Yeah, the French legend is pleased, but also preparing for improvement.

From the BBC:

“I am very happy. The inconvenient facts were there and we needed to change recent history. We did it with style and steel. We were committed and disciplined and that is not so easy to find that balance in these games.

“We want to play this kind of game, based on technical quality and pace. I hope this convinces the players we are on the right path. There is still room for improvement.”

Arsenal looks very, very good, and is exhibiting the potential for a serious title run.

Three things we learned from Arsenal’s win vs. Chelsea

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LONDON — Arsenal shellacked Chelsea 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, with first half goals from Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil doing the damage.

[ MORE: United humble Leicester ]

Arsene Wenger had gone nine games without a win against Chelsea but in the same week he celebrates 20 years in charge at Arsenal, his side put in a dominant display to make it four wins on the spin in the Premier League.

Here’s what we learned from the Emirates after an embarrassing encounter for Chelsea and a wonderful result for Arsenal.


ARSENAL END HOODOO IN STYLE

As bad as Chelsea’s defending was, this is what Arsenal can do to teams. The Gunners totally dominated Chelsea in the first half and it could’ve been more than 3-0 at half time. With Alexis Sanchez through the middle, Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi on the wings and Mesut Ozil in the hole, Arsenal’s offense was balanced, dangerous and too quick for Chelsea to handle.

This game reminded me of Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Manchester United at the Emirates last season. They blew away United with a blistering first half performance and it was eerily similar on Saturday. The result was never in doubt from 14 minutes in which was a huge relief for Arsenal, who haven’t beaten Chelsea in their last nine attempts in the PL and haven’t scored in their last six games against their London rivals. The ended their hoodoo in sensational fashion.

With a run of four-straight wins in the Premier League, the Gunners have rebounded well from their opening day defeat against Liverpool. With a UEFA Champions League clash against FC Basel on Wednesday, Wenger’s boys are finding form and his squad looks strong with Olivier Giroud, Lucas Perez, Granit Xhaka and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all on the bench. Suddenly, the boo boys have quietened down and Arsenal will have the bragging rights with their illustrious London rivals for the first time in a long time. The Gunners simply hammered Chelsea. This win has been a long time coming.


3-5-2 MIGHT HELP CHELSEA’S BLUNDERING DEFENSE

Antonio Conte stood with his arms folded for most of Chelsea’s first half collapse. He looked like a broken man.

Conte prides himself on defensive solidity, as most Italian coaches do, and his Chelsea team are gifting goals to opponents every time they walk on the pitch at the moment. In their last four games they’ve conceded nine times, with at least two goals given up in each games. Against Swansea City it was Gary Cahill and Thibaut Courtois at fault. Against Liverpool it was Cahill again. Against Arsenal it was Cahill for the first and Branislav Ivanovic had a horrid evening. Even when you look back to the start of the season, Chelsea leaked goals against West Ham and Watford with very poor defending. It can’t continue if they’re going to be successful.

Simply put, Chelsea can’t wait for John Terry to return. Their 35-year-old captain and talisman has been sorely missed over the past three games and Cahill looks like he could be the odd man out. In the second half Conte switched to a 3-5-2 formation with 35 minutes to go and his side looked slightly more solid which wasn’t difficult after the first half.

Conte likes to play a 3-5-2. He mastered it with Juventus and Italy and it would be a shock to not see Ivanovic, Terry and David Luiz at center back in their next game. Silly defensive errors are ruining Chelsea’s good start to the season. The Italian manager has now lost two-straight league games for the first time since 2009 and he will be hurting. If his team at Chelsea is to be a success then he must tighten up his defense.


NEW DEALS FOR ALEXIS, OZIL A MUST

Arsenal’s third goal (see above) epitomized why they must break the bank to keep Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil around. Wenger has spoken many times about ongoing negotiations with Arsenal’s two marquee attackers but the longer it goes on, the more worried Arsenal’s fans should get.

It seems like there are now weekly reports that Sanchez, 27, is interesting Manchester City as the man who brought him to Barcelona, Pep Guardiola, is eager to take him to City. Now, it is unlikely Arsenal, in their current financial situation, will allow Sanchez to leave for City but it is understood he wants a buy-out clause in any new deal. Ozil is said to be more relaxed about signing a new deal but there’s no doubting that performances like this highlight just how important these two are to Arsenal.

Sanchez has now scored four goals in his last four games for the Gunners and he may well be their most important player but Ozil is a close second. With Sanchez’s electric pace and Ozil’s trickery, they are the perfect combo. Wenger and the directors at the Emirates Stadium must tie these two down to new long-term deals as soon as possible.

BONUS: Theo Walcott was sublime in what was one of his best-ever performances for Arsenal. He scored a goal, ran tirelessly down the right flank an looked dangerous whenever he ran at Chelsea’s defense. Now, all he needs to do is stay injury free.

Arsenal 3-0 Chelsea: Gunners wound vulnerable Blues

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  • Gunners go up two by 14′
  • Ozil, Alexis combine for beauty
  • Blues 2L-1D in last three PL games
  • Arsenal moves third

This was a day for the Gooners.

Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott, and Mesut Ozil scored first half goals for Arsenal against a stumbling and sloppy Chelsea side. as the Gunners went on to collect a 3-0 win over the Blues at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

The win moves Arsenal third, ahead of Everton and Liverpool on goal differential. Chelsea drops to 8th, with 10 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Sanchez gave Arsenal the lead after a baffling mistake by Gary Cahill. The Chelsea defender was casual under pressure from Sanchez, who boosted the ball and was 1v1 with Thibaut Courtois for what felt like minutes. He didn’t miss.

And then Walcott, as the Gunners looked like men on a jailbreak against the sleepy Chelsea back line. Alex Iwobi found Hector Bellerin on the right, and a square ball across the six was hammered home. 2-0 after 14 minutes in London.

Willian came close to pulling one back for the Blues, as the Brazilian dragged his shot across goal and wide after Eden Hazard and Diego Costa combined to find him on the right.

Ozil was next, allowed to dribble freely for close to 50 yards before working a wide give-and-go with Sanchez and bouncing a ball over Courtois and inside the far post. Wow.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Chelsea found some footing in the second half, but its best chances were snuffed out. Hector Bellerin made one heck of a recovery run in the game’s final 20 minutes to stop Eden Hazard.

Even when the Blues finally did break through on goal, Petr Cech was there to deny Michy Batshuayi. As we said, it was a day for Arsenal.