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Emery on Mesut Ozil: ‘The key is in his hands’

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Mesut Ozil’s continued absence at Arsenal has baffled many and it is quite clear Unai Emery doesn’t see the German playmaker fitting into his plans.

But the Gunners boss has challenged Ozil to grab the bull by the horns, in as many words, and wants the 30-year-old (the highest-paid player in Arsenal’s history) to get back to full fitness as soon as possible.

Ahead of Arsenal’s UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg against BATE Borisov on Thursday (Arsenal trail 1-0 from the first leg in Belarus), Emery gave an update on Ozil’s progress.

“The key is in his hands and he is working very well this week, ” Emery said. “He needs to be consistent in training and for matches, without injury or being sick. Without that we can see the best Mesut with us.”

Ozil last played for Arsenal against Cardiff City on Jan. 29 and before that he went a month without playing from late December until late January. He’s been out with a combination of small injuries and illnesses, while Emery has also chosen not to select him at all in some matchday squads.

Do Arsenal miss him? The stats suggest the Gunners are a better team without Ozil and you can argue that they are better balanced without him. This season they’ve only won 56 percent of the 18 games Ozil has played in compared to 65 percent of 20 games without him.

Emery’s strong stance on Ozil not fitting into his philosophy seems to have focused the rest of the squad, but now seems like a good time to try and find a spot for the mercurial talent in the lineup.

The likes of Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have been used in wide attacking roles by Emery in recent weeks but with Ozil now having a full week of training under his belt, surely he will be used against BATE, Southampton, Bournemouth and Tottenham in Arsenal’s next four games.

Having a fit and focused Ozil back in the team will be like having a new signing for Arsenal, but it is still unclear exactly where he will slot in. In Emery’s 3-4-3 formation, his role as a central playmaker has disappeared and the best chance he has of playing a pivotal role this season is if Emery changes to a 3-4-2-1 formation with Lacazette and Ozil underneath Aubameyang in attack.

Arsenal too much for Huddersfield Town (video)

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  • Iwobi opens scoring
  • Kolanisac assists, concedes own goal
  • Aubameyang among several absent stars

Arsenal scores a pair of first half goals in a relatively comfortable 2-1 win over Huddersfield Town at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday.

Alexandre Lacazette scored after Alex Iwobi opened the scoring off a Sead Kolasinac feed, though the latter conceded a stoppage time own goal.

Arsenal is now level on points with fifth-place Chelsea, a point back of fourth place Manchester United. Chelsea has played one fewer match.

Huddersfield is now 13 points off 17th place with 12 matches to play.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Granit Xhaka, and Aaron Ramsey all missing from the 18 as well as misfit Mesut Ozil, the hosts would have been anticipating a fine moment.

But it came from Arsenal, who produced the match’s first three shots. The latter was Iwobi’s opener, not hit with muster but enough to beat Ben Hamer off a Sead Kolasinac cross.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles cued up Lacazette for the second goal, just before halftime.

Huddersfield threatened in the second half, and took a goal back when Aaron Mooy‘s through ball led to a Kolasinac own goal.

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AT HALF: Exquisite Wijnaldum goal paces relieved Liverpool

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Sadio Mane‘s goal helped Anfield explode in collective relief, but Georginio Wijnaldum‘s artistic follow-up was the one for the highlight reels.

Watford 0-0 Everton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

An energetic if sloppy tangle between top half hopefuls is scoreless.

Liverpool 2-0 Bournemouth – NBCSN [STREAM]

Sadio Mane’s header opener allowed Anfield to breathe, and Georginio Wijnaldum’s goal gave it the chance to celebrate true beauty (above).

Southampton 0-0 Cardiff City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Saints with the loan shot on target of the half.

Crystal Palace 0-1 West Ham – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Mark Noble has converted a penalty in this week’s London Derby.

Huddersfield 0-2 Arsenal – CNBC [STREAM]

Playing without a handful of stars, Arsenal still has a first-half lead through Sead Kolasinac‘s cross to Alex Iwobi. Ainsley Maitland-Niles cued up Alexandre Lacazette for the second goal, just before halftime.

Transfer latest: Chelsea refuse to sell Hudson-Odoi, Arsenal eye signings

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For at least the next six months, it appears Callum Hudson-Odoi will remain a Chelsea player.

That’s according to reports in England and Germany, which state that Chelsea has rejected Hudson-Odoi’s transfer request amid multiple bids from Bayern Munich. German publication SportBild reported on Monday that after a discussion with Chelsea executive Marina Granovskaia, Hudson-Odoi learned he would be staying at Stamford Bridge until at least the summer. Hudson-Odoi is in the final 18 months of his contract, and has so far refused to come to the negotiating table with Chelsea for a new contract offer, as he’s unhappy with the amount of playing time he’s received.

[READ: JPW’s Premier League Picks]

Hudson-Odoi has made five Premier League appearances this season but has not started yet. He has been a regular in the cup competitions, including the Europa League, but it appears Bayern Munich are willing to spend big, upwards of $40 million in transfer fees.

With Hudson-Odoi sticking around, he’ll have to bide his time and hope that he can produce some good performances. For Chelsea, keeping him around could also increase his value, enabling them to bring in an even bigger fee if they’re ultimately unsuccessful at re-signing him.

Make sure to tune-in for our special Transfer Deadline Day show on NBCSN on Thursday, Jan. 31 from 5 p.m. ET as we focus on all of the moves across the Premier League in the January window. You can stream the show live online right here.

Here’s more stories from across the Premier League:

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Transfer rumor roundup: Perisic to Arsenal; Gomez to West Ham

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Arsenal are in talks with Inter Milan about signing Ivan Perisic, according to the BBC and Sky Italy.

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Perisic, 29, is said to be keen on an exit from Inter and the Croatian winger has long been linked with a move to Manchester United. However, per the reports, Arsenal want to loan Perisic initially and then an option to buy him for $46.2 million in the summer.

He has scored three goals and added five assists in 25 appearances in all competitions for Inter this season, and shone at the World Cup as Croatia were runners up.


Make sure to tune-in for our special Transfer Deadline Day show on NBCSN on Thursday, Jan. 31 from 5 p.m. ET as we focus on all of the moves across the Premier League in the January window. You can stream the show live online right here.


The reports go on to state that Inter only want to sell Perisic in January and will not loan him out.

Unai Emery has previously said that Arsenal could only afford loan deals in January, which enraged fans but is understandable given their huge outlay on Mesut Ozil’s new contract, plus bringing in Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in recent seasons.

Is this a deal which the Gunners really need to do?

They’re losing Aaron Ramsey in the summer on a free transfer to Juventus and it appears that Denis Suarez will arrive from Barcelona to replace him in central midfield. Suarez is linked with a loan move before the window shuts, but a midfielder, nor a winger, shouldn’t be high on Emery’s wish list.

With several poor defensive displays this season, plus a recent batch of injuries, beefing up defensive options should surely be the long-term plan for Emery. Maybe he can’t get in the defenders he wants in January so is instead looking elsewhere to strengthen, and there’s no doubting Perisic’s pedigree.

But with Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alex Iwobi, Ozil, Lacazette and Aubameyang around in the attacking areas and Emery playing narrow 4-3-2-1 or 3-4-2-1 formations, bringing in Perisic doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Then again, Arsenal gonna Arsenal…


Sky Sports claim that West Ham United will break their transfer record to bring in Maxi Gomez from Celta Vigo.

Gomez, 22, has a release clause in his contract of over $57 million and per the report he could sign for West Ham in January and then be loaned back to Celta Vigo for the rest of the season. The La Liga outfit is struggling in the table and need Gomez’s goals to help with their bid against relegation.

Given the situation regarding Marko Arnautovic, who has now said he will remain at West Ham despite a huge offer to go and play in China, this would be a smart move from the Hammers.

Securing Gomez ahead of the summer is smart business, as the Uruguayan forward will be in demand after scoring 26 La Liga goals for a struggling Celta side over the past season-and-a-half. Gomez is a powerful forward who can hold up the ball and stretch defenses with runs in-behind, and with Andy Carroll out of contract in the summer, Arnautovic potentially leaving and Javier Hernandez reportedly wanting to leave in January, Manuel Pellegrini needs to have some long-term stability up top.

Following the big-money signing of Felipe Anderson last summer, it is clear West Ham are now buying quality over quantity. And after the signing of free agent Samir Nasri, Declan Rice signing a new long-term contract and the additions of Diop, Fabianski and Balbuena last summer, the Hammers are suddenly making plenty of smart moves in the transfer market.

That is not something we could say often, if at all, about their dealings in recent years.