Arsenal 3-1 Leicester City: Ozil conjures magic in Gunners victory

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They say Mesut Ozil is one of the best players in the Premier League, when he wants to be. He wanted to be on Monday afternoon.

The Gunners captain scored the opener, and he truly shone while orchestrating two of the most brilliantly constructed goals of the Premier League season to help Arsenal shake off an early Hector Bellerin own-goal to earn a 3-1 victory at the Emirates.

Leicester City attacked well from the onset and would go ahead just seconds past the half-hour mark as they push down the left. Ben Chilwell burst down the flank past Alexandre Lacazette and behind Hector Bellerin just enough that as Bellerin hoped to recover, Chilwell’s cross clipped Bellerin’s foot and into the back of the net, with goalkeeper Bernd Leno already diving the wrong way to stop the cross.

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Arsenal surged into the asencency after falling behind, and nearly found an equalizer shortly after. A long ball was just out of reach for a streaking Alex Iwobi behind the defensive line, Granit Xhaka came close on a long-range free-kick, Aaron Ramsey whiffed on a free header at the near post on a corner, and Iwobi’s effort from the right was saved by Kasper Schmeichel.

Eventually, the pressure would prove fruitful and the Gunners would equalize just before the break. As the Gunners looked to build out of the back, Mesut Ozil charged through the midfield on the ball, and after spraying it right to Bellerin, he got the ball right back in front of net and had plenty of space for a one-touch finish on the run.
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After the break, Arsenal had a big chance as Lacazette’s shot pinged around and fell to Henrikh Mkhitaryan whose scissor kick swerved across the face of goal and just wide of the left post. Still, Leicester proved pesky and nearly put themselves back in front in the 58th minute as Wilfred Ndidi headed a corner straight into the crossbar.

That would prove costly, as Arsenal took advantage minutes later. With the Gunners on the ball in the attacking third, Ozil threaded an absolutely delicious through-ball for Bellerin that completely unlocked the Leicester City back line, and the Spaniard simply tapped across to substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the goal.

The Gunners would do even better three minutes later on one of the prettiest goals we’ve seen this Premier League season. Bellerin sent the ball into the mixer with Ozil waiting at the top of the box. The German international let the ball go through his legs, dummying to Lacazette who touched right back to Ozil on the run past the Leicester City back line. With Arsenal now through, Ozil produced a delicious chip over a charging Schmeichel to Aubameyang waiting to finish a simple tap-in for his second goal of the evening.

Arsenal probably should have had a fourth, but Lacazette’s look on the doorstep was smothered well by Schmeichel. That was the last serious action of the game, as the Gunners cruised to victory.

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The win pushed Arsenal up to fourth in the Premier League table, even on 21 points with Tottenham and Chelsea, and ahead of their West London rivals on goal differential. Leicester City, meanwhile, remained stuck in 11th on 12 points for the season.

Top Premier League storylines for Week 8

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A top of the table clash awaits soccer fans across the globe as we build up to the match at Anfield. Week eight of the Premier League season is gearing up to be one of the most interesting weeks of the season.

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Will Liverpool or Manchester City keep its unbeaten record intact?
Liverpool vs. Manchester City — 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN STREAM ]

This has the potential to be the game of the season.

There’s stars on both sides of the field. Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino up top. Heck, there’s James Milner and Virgil Van Dijk, who probably don’t get enough credit for how good they are. Meanwhile, the Blue side of Manchester has just as much to counter back with, if not more. Sergio Aguero, Riyad Mahrez, Leroy Sane and Fernandinho are just a few players expected to have a big impact this weekend.

Sunday’s match is the first true high-level test for these two teams early on in this season, one that can have a ripple effect for the rest of the season depending on the result. For all of Man City’s exploits, it hasn’t won at Anfield since 2003. Liverpool holds a home record against Man City since then of 12 wins and five draws.

Will Jose Mourinho survive another weekend?
Manchester United vs. Newcastle — 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC STREAM ]

It’s been a rough two weeks for Manchester United, with every passing day Jose Mourinho’s fate seeming closer to being sealed.

A scoreless draw this week with Valencia in the UEFA Champions League followed an uninspiring 3-1 defeat at West Ham, with chaos seemingly reigning supreme in the Man United dressing room. Paul Pogba remains in the first team in spire of Mourinho’s comments but Alexis Sanchez has been inexplicably poor, left out of the gameday squad at times and a shell of his former self when he was with Arsenal and Barcelona.

Now, as rumors of Mourinho’s potential departure grow, the intensity ramps up with struggling Newcastle coming to town. For Mourinho, a win will at least appease his bosses and fans for another week, even as he seems to be on the edge. This could also be close to the end of the road for Rafa Benitez. The former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss seems fed up with the situation at Newcastle, where he’s effectively been forced to coach with one (or both) hands behind his back.

Can Arsenal continue its strong form in a London derby?

Fulham vs. Arsenal — 7:00 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN STREAM ]

It’s gone a bit under the radar, but Arsenal is looking like the Arsenal of yore.

Unai Emery‘s side has now won eight games on the bounce in all competitions, including an unbeaten September, with 16 goals scored and just four goals conceded. Arsenal hasn’t played any massive games, but the Gunners have taken care of business in places where in the past, they may have faltered. Road wins in Baku, Azerbaijan, Newcastle and Cardiff has this team flying back up the table after two defeats to open the season.

One player to keep an eye on moving forward is Alex Iwobi. The England-born Nigerian international winger has been in fine form recently, and could have a big impact against a struggling Fulham squad.

After looking so solid defensively through most of the Championship season in 2017-2018, Fulham has failed to make the grade so far in the Premier League. Getting a win over a London rival could be a big boost moving forward for the Cottagers.

Arsenal showcase depth in blowout of Qarabag

AP Photo/Aziz Karimov
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  • Sokratis opens scoring
  • Smith Rowe, Guendouzi bag 1st senior goals
  • Ozil, Lacazette on bench
  • Aubameyang, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan left home

Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Emile Smith Rowe, and Matteo Guendouzi scored in Azerbaijan as Arsenal popped Qarabag 3-0 in the Europa League on Thursday.

Arsenal is now 2-0 in group play while Qarabag falls to 0-2. Arsenal now get Sporting Lisbon back-to-back in one of the league’s best group stage pairings.

[ MORE: Europa League standings ]

Arsenal, clad in red shorts to go with their red shirts, controlled play early and went ahead within a few minutes of said control.

Mohamed Elneny‘s corner kick was headed towards goal, and Sokratis was onside to redirect the ball over the line.

Emile Smith Rowe was very close with a sliding effort to meet Sead Kolasinac‘s cross to the back post in the 18th minute.

Bernd Leno made a fine save on Filip Ozobic in the 40th minute, with Sokratis clearing the rebound.

[ MORE: Europa League schedule ]

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Qarabag thought it was level in the 49th minute, but Mahir Madatov’s run was a split second too early before the Azerbaijan international slotted past Leno.

Arsenal made it 2-0 under pressure, with Smith Rowe running onto a feed from Alex Iwobi in the 52nd. Then Guendouzi joined Smith Rowe with historic career moments by potting his first senior goal.

Lacazette leads Arsenal to win over Watford

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  • Own goal puts Gunners ahead
  • Lacazette finds Ozil for 2-0
  • Watford winless in four

Arsenal broke through late to beat Watford 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Craig Cathcart‘s 81st minute own goal was joined by Mesut Ozil’s 83rd minute strike to provide three points to the Gunners.

Arsenal sits fifth, level on points with fourth place Spurs. Watford drops into sixth, two points back of the Gunners.

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Alexandre Lacazette could’ve won a penalty had he gone down under a Christian Kabasele challenge, but he wobbled forward and mishit a shot. Perhaps he should’ve anyway, by that logic, but we digress.

Watford backstop Ben Foster made a decent stop on Granit Xhaka as the half-progressed, while Arsenal’s story between the sticks was a substitution when Petr Cech was injured and gave way to Bernd Leno.

Arsenal’s second half breakthrough began when an Alex Iwobi cross became Cathcart’s own goal and escalated quickly, with Ozil making it 2-0 within three minutes.

Lacazette assisted the Ozil goal with a decent low cross.

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Iwobi: Arsenal working harder in training under Emery

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Whether he meant it or not, Arsenal winger Alex Iwobi left a little dig in with former Gunners manager Arsene Wenger.

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In speaking about his new manager, Unai Emery, Iwobi said that the squad was working more on fitness than in the past. The improved fitness and quality helped Arsenal Thursday in its Europa League opener, a 4-2 win over Ukrainian side Vorskla.

“He demands a lot, we are working a lot harder in training, running a bit more,” Iwobi said in an interview.

Since losing its opening two games of the season, Arsenal has begun to return to its expected level, winning its last four games in all competitions, including two straight Premier League road matches. Iwobi in particular has scored one goal and assisted on another in two Premier League matches, as well as assisting on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang‘s opener on Thursday.

The improved fitness may not show now, but it could help Arsenal down the road, when they face a busy stretch of games this fall between Europa League, Premier League and domestic cup competitions. “…as you can see, we are buying into his ideas and we are enjoying our time with him,” Iwobi said. “We are not going to dwell on the past, we are always looking forward to the next game. We learn from out mistakes, like we have done. We have got four wins on the bounce now so we have just got to keep on going keep this momentum going and try to get as many wins as we can, like I’m saying.”