Arsene Wenger

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Arsenal hires Dortmund man who “found” Pulisic, Aubameyang

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Arsenal has a new head of recruitment, and he’s the scout who helped bring Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Christian Pulisic, and Ousmane Dembele to Borussia Dortmund.

The name is Sven Mislintat, and he’ll take the place of 25-year Arsenal vet Steve Rowley. Reports say Bayern Munich unsuccessfully recruited him in the summer.

[ MORE: Busy week for PL big boys ]

Mislintat also has perhaps the beck nickname of any scout in recent memory: “Diamond Eyes.”

Here’s Arsene Wenger on the move, from Arsenal.com:

“We are delighted that Sven is joining us. Identifying and developing talent is a core part of our philosophy and Sven has an outstanding track record over many years. We look forward to him taking our existing recruitment approach forwards.”

Wenger believes Ozil, Sanchez will stay at Arsenal

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LONDON — Fresh from Arsenal’s first Premier League victory over North London rivals Tottenham since 2014, there was a spring in Arsene Wenger‘s step as he strode into his post-match press conference.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Arsenal’s boss saw his attack-minded lineup dominate Tottenham at home as the Gunners secured an 11th-straight home win and sixth-straight home victory of the 2017-18 season to breath new life into their season.

With a dangerous three-pronged attack of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette destroying Spurs’ usually rock-solid defense on numerous occasion, Arsenal gave a taste of what can be achieved this season.

Consistency is key for Arsenal but keeping Sanchez and Ozil is more important. Their futures at Arsenal remain uncertain with the duo free to talk to non-English teams in January about a free transfer on July 1, both are likely to see what other clubs can offer them outside of the Premier League.

Speaking to the media afterwards, Wenger reaffirmed his belief that Sanchez and Ozil want to stay at Arsenal beyond the end of their contracts next summer despite the situation being totally out of his hands.

“The quality of the contract of the contract has to be good and enough for them as well, you know. I am convinced they love the club, they love the team but all the rest will be decided, when? I don’t really know,” Wenger said. “I’m not alone to master that. [Quality of the contract] is part of it. The whole thing has to be right, they have to be happy. I believe they love the club and they want to stay but there are other top clubs out there who offer good contracts as well.”

So, Wenger is bracing himself for Sanchez and Ozil to be offered big contracts from European giants as soon as Jan. 1 rolls around, then a barrage of transfer offers from other PL giants as they believe the duo will be available in cut-price deals. At this point, the Gunners must keep hold of the duo until the end of the season, even if it means they leave on a free.

With Sanchez scoring a cheeky goal, racing free on numerous occasions and forcing Hugo Lloris into several key saves, his signature on a new deal is essential for Arsenal to haul themselves back into the top four.

His desire and hunger was evident and he even had time to joke around in the second half, diving on his stomach to the delight of the home fans as he tried to slide towards a loose ball in the pouring rain in north London.

You can never question the Chilean’s desire but his displays have become more erratic over the past 12 months with this contract saga hanging over his head. Sanchez’s goal against Spurs was his first in 12 games against the so-called “big six” in the Premier League.

Ozil’s display yielded an assist and numerous eye-catching passes as Lacazette’s runs allowed Arsenal’s two contract rebels to have plenty of space in front of Spurs’ back three.

Wenger pointed to the fact that he has never once questioned their commitment and although Ozil and Sanchez’s futures remain uncertain, he believes they will continue to put their bodies on the line for the Arsenal cause.

“I know them well and I know when it is their turn to go on the football pitch they want to win a football game. They’ve shown their commitment again today. I’ve never questioned their commitment,” Wenger said. “They can have bad games but the problem is that when a player goes to the end of a contract and has a bad game everybody says ‘of course, because he goes.’ Their interest is to play anyway.”

Premier League preview: Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images
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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.

Wenger on Arsenal v Tottenham: We are not the underdogs

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Arsene Wenger doesn’t believe Arsenal are the underdogs heading into Saturday’s North London derby against Tottenham at the Emirates (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

[ MORE: World Cup pots confirmed ]

Despite Spurs finishing above rivals Arsenal in the Premier League table last season, Wenger pointed to that being the first time in 20 years they’d finished below Tottenham in the PL and brushed off talk of a power shift in north London.

Seeming slightly frustrated by the tone of questioning ahead of the game, Wenger doesn’t believe Arsenal are the underdogs.

“No. Not all all. No,” Wenger said. “Tottenham is a good side but we have the quality to win this game and that’s what we want to show. The real motivation for me is to do as well as we have the potential in the team. The target is not to compare to Tottenham.”

So, Arsenal is on the full defensive ahead of this game with goalkeeper Petr Cech also taunting Spurs ahead of the game and pointing towards their lack of trophies won over the pat few years despite their third and second place finishes in the PL.

The truth is, Tottenham have plenty of ground to catch up on Arsenal in terms of trophies, UEFA Champions League success and in terms of the last two decades of finishing below the Gunners. But, why can’t they continue to finish above Arsenal for the foreseeable future? With Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Harry Kane and others far from their peak, plus Mauricio Pochettino committed to the project at Spurs, everything is pointing towards Tottenham finishing above Arsenal for at least the next two seasons.

Maybe that’s what has Wenger and Co. riled up ahead of the massive NLD this weekend. Well, that and every pundit and neutral across the globe currently raving about Spurs young talent, manager, future new stadium and massive potential.

Wenger rips league-wide refereeing after Arsenal loss

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Petr Cech was diplomatic when it came to Manchester City’s third goal, but his manager was far from that adjective.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was left seething with officials after David Silva appeared to be just offside in a darting run past the Gunners back line.

[ RECAP: Man City 3-1 Arsenal ]

The run led to a Gabriel Jesus goal (video above), who had little work to do with four Arsenal players with their hands raised in protest.

“I was surprised,” Cech said. “David Silva looked far behind everybody but the referee has a better view than me. Referees have a difficult job to do. I don’t know if he got it right or wrong but that goal made the difference.”

Arsenal was trailing 2-1 at the time and strong enough to get a point on the day were it to manage an equalizer. That didn’t materialize. From Sky Sports:

“It was an intense game of quality from both sides,” Wenger said. “Overall once again the referee made the decision today. It was a soft penalty and an offside goal but we are used to it when you come here. Last year we had two offsides goals against us.

“The referees don’t work enough and the level drops every season. Overall it’s unacceptable what happens.”

Someone’s getting fined.

Both decisions were certainly debatable, and the penalty would not have been called in another error. The offside call, like many, depends on when you freeze the screen on the through ball to Silva.

Additionally and editorially, if the quality of refereeing is dipping I’ll blame a long-held theory for it: In this day and age, from the lower levels and up, who in the world really wants to sign up for the constant abuse that comes from trying to do an official’s job correctly?

What’s your take on the decisions, and the officials? Let’s chat in the comments.