Alexandre Lacazette

Getty Images

Reports: Arsenal to spend big for Pepe, Tierney

Leave a comment

If the latest reports are to be believed, Arsenal’s transfer budget is actually much bigger than expected.

In a pair of reports, Arsenal is looking at paying as much as around $120 million in transfer fees to sign Lille attacker Nicolas Pepe and Celtic left back Kieran Tierney. L’equipe states that Arsenal has made a $90 million offer for Pepe, while Sky Sports reports Arsenal has made a bid of $31.4 million to Celtic for Tierney.

[READ: Premier League friendly roundup]

If true, it would certainly be an upgrade at left back for Arsenal. Tierney, at 22-years of age, is one of the top young left backs in Europe and if not for Andy Robertson, would be playing a lot more for the Scotland National Team. Regarding Pepe, he’s had a strong last couple of seasons with Lille, including scoring 22 goals with 11 assists in Ligue 1 last season.

However, Pepe really struggled with the Ivory Coast National Team at the Africa Cup of Nations, perhaps due to exhaustion and a lack of gas in the tank. In addition, his position as a forward and winger isn’t exactly a position of need for the Gunners. Arsenal currently has Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Alex Iwobi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and even Reiss Nelson.

Last summer, Arsenal was able to bring in the vast majority of its signings by July 11. Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Bernd Leno and Stephan Lichtsteiner all signed early.

This summer, it’s only signed academy players and 18-year-old Gabriel Martinelli so far, with the necessary signings now late to arrive for preseason training. Arsenal certainly needs a replacement for Aaron Ramsey, David Ospina/Petr Cech, and Lichtsteiner.

Chelsea win Europa League after Arsenal capitulate (video)

Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Chelsea are champions of the Europa League after thumping Arsenal, who hit the self-destruct button ahead of an ultimately decisive 20-minute period to begin the second half, thus kissing goodbye their last remaining chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

[ MORE: Sepp Blatter wants to sue Gianni Infantino ]

The final score in Baku, Azerbaijan: 4-1.

Things didn’t start out all bad for Arsenal, though. The Gunners had a claim for a penalty kick denied in the 18th minute, when Alexandre Lacazette was played in behind the Chelsea backline. Arrizabalaga came rushing out and arrived just after Lacazette scooted the ball out of reach. The contact between goalkeeper and forward was minimal, if any at all, but that didn’t stop Lacazette from going to ground in dramatic fashion. With video review in play for the final, no second viewing was recommended.

Granit Xhaka was next to go agonizingly close for Arsenal, but the 20-yard screamer he struck in the 28th minute grazed the top of the crossbar and would have likely been covered and pushed over by Arrizabalaga had it been on target.

Emerson unleashed a well-hit strike right in the chest of Petr Cech, playing in the final game of his glorious career, in the 33rd minute, followed six minutes later by a decent chance for Olivier Giroud, which proved to be Chelsea’s best of the first half. The former Arsenal man forced Cech to make a full-stretch save with his left hand, though he never appeared to be scrambling to cover his far post.

[ TRANSFER RUMORS: Sadio Mane plays down Real Madrid links ]

Chelsea needed just five second-half minutes to break the deadlock, though, as Giroud got his head on the end of Emerson’s cross at the near post and and redirected the ball, with power, past Cech and snuck it just inside the woodwork. The 32-year-old Frenchman opted for a largely subdued celebration against his club of five and a half seasons.

Pedro made it 2-0 exactly 10 minutes later, when Eden Hazard sprang to life for the first time in the game. The Belgian, perhaps playing his final game for the club, broke down the left side of Arsenal’s penalty area before cutting the ball back to Pedro near the penalty spot. The Spaniard swept the ball just inside the far post.

The meltdown was complete on 64 minutes, when Ainsley Maitland-Niles barged through the back of Giroud just inside the box. Hazard stepped to the penalty spot, sent Cech one direction and rolled the ball over the line the other way.

Alex Iwobi pulled the goal back for Arsenal β€” far and away the greatest moment of quality in the game (WATCH HERE) β€” just four minutes later, the Nigerian’s right-footed volley proved powerless in changing the course of the game, because Hazard struck again three minutes later.

LIVE – Europa League final: Arsenal v. Chelsea

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The first of two European finals consisting of Premier League clubs begins as Chelsea take on Arsenal in the UEFA Europa League final.

Both teams will have to battle some rustiness, with Chelsea and Arsenal both having not played (official) matches since May 12. Chelsea played the New England Revolution two weeks ago in a match for charity in the U.S.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Europa League finalΒ ]

Despite picking up a knee injury in training and being given a 50/50 chance to play, Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has gone with N'Golo Kante in his midfield, alongside Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho. Olivier Giroud starts up top instead of Gonzalo Higuain, and Pedro takes the spot of Willian.

[READ: Europa League Final Preview: Arsenal v. Chelsea]

Interestingly, per Opta, Chelsea is the first team to not have a player from the club’s home nation in its starting lineup for a European final since Jose Mourinho and Inter Milan faced Bayern Munich in the 2010 Champions League final.

For Arsenal, manager Unai Emery has allowed Petr Cech to have a chance to go out a winner, starting him in the final game of the season. Emery also included Mesut Ozil in the squad, and he’ll likely combine with fellow attackers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette in an imposing Arsenal attack. Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka start in midfield as well.

LINEUPS

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Christensen, David Luiz, Emerson; Kovacic, Jorginho, Kante; Pedro, Giroud, Hazard.
Bench: Caballero, Alonso, Cahill, Zappacosta, Barkley, William, Higuain, Cumming, Ampadu, McEachran, Gallagher.

Arsenal: Cech; Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal; Maitland-Niles, Torreira, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette.
Bench: Leno, Lichsteiner, Mustafi, Jenkinson, Elneny, Guendouzi, Willock, Saka, Iliev, Iwoke, Nketiah, Welbeck

Ranking top 10 Premier League players at each position

Getty Images
6 Comments

There are 25 players in each Premier League squad, but who not only starred for their respective clubs but also elevated themselves to the upper echelons of the league this season?

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]Β 

We pondered that as we analyzed those who rose to the challenge best over the past nine months.

Below is a look at our complete list of the top 10 players in each position based on their play during the 2018-19 campaign.


Goalkeepers
1. Ederson
2. Alisson
3. David De Gea
4. Kepa
5. Ben Foster
6. Lukasz Fabianski
7. Hugo Lloris
8. Jordan Pickford
9. Rui Patricio
10. Martin Dubravka


Right backs
1. Trent Alexander-Arnold
2. Matt Doherty
3. Aaron Wan-Bissaka
4. Cesar Azpilicueta
5. Ricardo Perreira
6. Kyle Walker
7. Seamus Coleman
8. Kiko Femenia
9. Pablo Zabaleta
10. Yan Valery


Left backs
1. Andrew Robertson
2. Lucas Digne
3. Ben Chilwell
4. Luke Shaw
5. Jonny Otto
6. Patrick Van Aanholt
7. Ben Davies
8. Nacho Monreal
9. Jose Holebas
10. Emerson Palmeri


Center backs
1. Virgil Van Dijk
2. Aymeric Laporte
3. Toby Alderweireld
4. Jan Vertonghen
5. Vincent Kompany
6. Sokratis
7. Antonio Rudiger
8. Conor Coady
9. Michael Keane
10. Issa Diop


Central midfielders
1. Fernandinho
2. Joao Moutinho
3. Moussa Sissoko
4. David Silva
5. Jordan Henderson
6. Andre Gomes
7. Abdoulaye Doucoure
8. Fabinho
9. N'Golo Kante
10. Youri Tielemans


Attacking midfielders
1. Eden Hazard
2. Bernardo Silva
3. Kevin De Bruyne
4. Christian Eriksen
5. Gerard Deulofeu
6. Dele Alli
7. James Maddison
8. Gylfi Sigurdsson
9. Paul Pogba
10. Diogo Jota


Wingers
1. Raheem Sterling
2. Bernardo Silva
3. Sadio Mane
4. Mohamed Salah
5. Wilfried Zaha
6. Ryan Fraser
7. Pedro
8. Ryan Babel
9. David Brooks
10. Nathan Redmond


Strikers
1. Sergio Aguero
2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
3. Harry Kane
4. Roberto Firmino
5. Alexandre Lacazette
6. Raul Jimenez
7. Heung-Min Son
8. Jamie Vardy
9. Marcus Rashford
10. Salomon Rondon


Aubameyang’s hat trick sends Arsenal to Europa League final (video)

Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arsenal kept their last remaining shot at qualifying for next season’s UEFA Champions League alive by finishing off Valencia in the second leg of the Europa League semifinals on Thursday.

[ MORE: Tottenham pull off second amazing UCL comeback in two days ]

Arsenal will face Chelsea, who survived a penalty shootout with Eintracht Frankfurt, in the final in Azerbaijan on May 29.

Valencia jumped out to an early lead on the day when Kevin Gameiro tapped home an empty-netter in the 11th minute, bringing the aggregate score to a somewhat nervy 3-2, but Unai Emery‘s side responded emphatically. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang restored the two-goal advantage just six minutes later and ended the game with a hat trick (17th, 69th and 88th minutes).

[ MORE: Tearful Pochettino hails Spurs “heroes” after another UCL comeback ]

Gameiro scored a second on the day, but it didn’t come until the 58th minute, eight minutes after Alexandre Lacazette had extended the Gunners’ aggregate lead to 5-2 and secured the tie-breaking second away goal.

Aubameyang’s third goal of the day made it 4-2 (7-3 on aggregate) and meant Arsenal are headed to their first European final since the 2005-06 season, when they were beaten Barcelona in the Champions League.

This time around, lifting a trophy would certainly be a welcome achievement for Emery in his first season at the Emirates Stadium, but more importantly it would put the club back amongst the riches of Europe’s premier competition. Otherwise, it’ll be a third straight season without UCL.