Bernd Leno

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WATCH: Arsenal’s comical own goal against Barcelona

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A week away from the start of the season, and Arsenal’s backline is already the subject of questionable communication.

This time, it was fullback Ainsley Maitland-Miles as the orchestrator of the Gunners’ noticeable blunder against Barcelona in the Joan Gamper Trophy bout, which the Spanish side ended up winning 2-1.

The 21-year-old, in his own box, lightly tapped the ball backwards to goalkeeper Bernd Leno, who misjudged it completely, resulting in a casual, yet comical own goal.

The goal leveled the scoreline, which was then tipped to the La Liga giants’ favor following a goal from Uruguayan ace Luis Suarez. The Gunners did manage to take the early lead in their preseason finale, however, when Mezut Ozil assisted Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 36 minutes in.

Arsenal will hope for better times as they take on Newcastle on Sunday to start their Premier League campaign.

Premier League friendly roundup: Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool all in action

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Three of the big six sides in the Premier League were in action on Sunday as preseason preparation progresses ahead of the start of the season.

Here’s a closer look at how the Premier League clubs fared.

[READ: Transfer Rumor Roundup]


Chelsea top Reading in seven-goal thriller

A trio of Americans hit the field as Chelsea held off a pair of Reading comebacks to win at the Madejski Stadium, 4-3, in Frank Lampard‘s first (unofficial) match on English soil.

Christian Pulisic got the start for the Blues as it took a 2-1 lead into the halftime break. Joshua Barrett gave the hosts an early lead in the 13th minute with a sweet finish off the half-volley, looping the ball over Wily Caballero’s head in goal for Chelsea. Ross Barkley equalized just eight minutes later with a sweet free kick into the top left corner, before Kenedy put Chelsea ahead with a strike from outside the box that was re-directed and left Reading’s goalkeeper Joao Virginia flat footed.

While Pulisic departed the match at halftime, Reading brought on centerback Matt Miazga and striker Andrija Novakovich among other subs to play the second half. The pair were involved as Reading tied the score through Michael Morrison in just the 49th minute.

Yet it was the former Derby County midfielder and Chelsea youngster Mason Mount that made the difference in the match. Mount’s two second half goals gave Chelsea the distance it needed to close out the win. The first goal was a cracking shot in the box but the second was an absolute gift from Virginia, who turned the ball over to Tammy Abraham in the box, who centered to Mount who couldn’t miss from five yards out.

Sam Baldock slipped one home in the 71th minute for Reading but it couldn’t find another equalizer as Chelsea held on for the win.

Arsenal fall to Lyon at Emirates Cup

It was a new-look Emirates Cup with a double-header including the men’s and women’s teams for Arsenal. However, on the men’s side, it was a disappointing result for Unai Emery‘s squad.

Arsenal was defeated, 2-1 by Lyon with two second-half goals coming from former Fulham and Celtic striker Moussa Dembele. Arsenal completely dominated the first half of the match in terms of chances created, and arguably should have been up by more than the 1-0 scoreline it earned at the break. A cross from Henrikh Mkhitaryan was re-directed with lightning-speed into the net by none-other-than Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to put Arsenal in front in the first half.

Later, even though Dembele had tied the score at 1-1 with a header, it appeared new Arsenal signing, 18-year-old Gabriel Martinelli had given the Gunners the lead, poking home off a rebound in the box. However, the goal was ruled off for offside on Martinelli.

Seconds later, Dembele beat the offside trap and then scored on Bernd Leno who was way off his line. To make matters worse for Arsenal, striker Alexandre Lacazette was forced off in the 12th minute due to an apparent sprained ankle, per Arsenal. The club stated postgame, via Unai Emery, that it didn’t think the injury was serious, but he was taken off as a precaution. Still, it’s never good to see a star player go down with an injury, especially during preseason.

Liverpool trounced by Napoli in Scotland

In terms of just wins and losses results on the field, it hasn’t been a very successful preseason so far for Liverpool. The Reds continued their traveling preseason tour with a match in Edinburgh, Scotland against Napoli, and the Italian side came away with a 3-0 victory.

Lorenzo Insigne and Arkadiusz Milik scored for Carlo Ancelotti’s side in the first half before Amin Younes put Liverpool away with a goal in the second half.

It’s been a tough preseason for the Reds, but of course, they’re missing a large chunk of their squad due to international tournaments this summer. Jurgen Klopp started a pretty-strong backline in Andrew Robertson, Virgil Van Dijk, Joel Matip and Trent Alexander-Arnold. However, Divock Origi started on his own up top and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is still recovering from a serious knee injury, also got a start as he builds back his fitness after missing almost all of last season. Starters Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, Alisson and Roberto Firmino are all either on international break rest or working their way back to fitness.

Liverpool did get some time to play some of it’s potential stars of the future. Sepp van den Berg played the final 11 minutes of the match, as did new Liverpool signing Harvey Elliot, the 16-year-old recently acquired from Fulham.

Reports: Arsenal to spend big for Pepe, Tierney

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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.

Emery: We can achieve ‘two objectives’ in Europa League final

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According to Unai Emery, the Arsenal squad agreed upon two targets at the start of the 2018-2019 season. Qualify for the UEFA Champions League, preferably through finishing in the top four of the Premier League, and winning the Europa League.

On Wednesday, Arsenal has the chance to accomplish both.

[READ: Drama at Chelsea as Sarri storms out of practice]

“We can win one title and also play with the opportunity to go to the Champions League,” Emery said. “Above all we want to enjoy and play with all our good spirit and also I think this competition is improving a lot and over the last years big teams have played in the final. I hope that in the future Chelsea and Arsenal could be a final in the Champions League! We have a lot of very good players and some of the best players in the world, so it’s a very good moment for football in the world.”

Arsenal hasn’t won a European title since winning the UEFA Cup Winners Cup in 1994.

One of the big subplots heading into the match is whether Emery will stick with the retiring Petr Cech, who has been the goalkeeper for nearly the entire Europa League run so far, or regular No. 1 Bernd Leno. Emery wouldn’t reveal whether Cech would start, but did say he had something planned for him one way or another.

“I can speak about Petr Cech a lot, but above all he is a great man, a great professional, amazing in his behavior with us and it will be last match tomorrow because he decided to retire,” Emery said. “I want to do something important with him in the last moment of his career – and this has been my conversation with him, playing or not playing. We want to win for us.”

Arsenal’s top-four dreams crushed in Brighton draw (video)

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  • Arsenal 3 points back of Spurs with inferior GD
  • Aubameyang scores 20th PL goal this season (9′)
  • Murray nets career goal 200 to draw level (61′)

Arsenal, much like Manchester United before them, couldn’t hold onto an early lead and ultimately dealt their own top-four dreams a fatal blow by drawing a bottom-four side on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

1-0 up on 17th-place Brighton & Hove Albion after nine minutes, Unai Emery‘s Gunners failed to put the game away with a second goal and let the Seagulls back into the game. As such, Arsenal (67 points) trail fourth-place Tottenham Hotspur by three points with just one game left to play. The problem for Arsenal: their goal differential (+20) is eight goals worse than that of Tottenham.

For all intents and purposes, they’re set for another season in the Europa League, unless the can win Europe’s “other” competition later this month.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan went inches from firing the Gunners into the lead after 73 seconds, but the Armenian’s shot from the edge of the penalty area smashed the front side of the post and squirted across the face of goal in agonizing fashion.

It didn’t take much longer for Arsenal to jump out in front, though. Nacho Monreal was tripped inside Brighton’s 18-yard box, which sent Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to the penalty spot where he bagged his 20th PL goal of the season.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Shkodran Mustafi very nearly made it 2-0 with a diving header in the 36th minute, but Mathew Ryan leapt into action, and across his goal, to make a spectacular save at a full-stretch. Ryan made an even better stop to deny Aubameyang two minutes later. A cross came in front the left side and found Aubameyang near the penalty spot. He swept his left foot through the ball and sent it toward Ryan’s right-hand post, but the goalkeeper sprang to life once again and pushed the ball just around the post.

Brighton drew level hugely against the run of play. Granit Xhaka needlessly dragged down Solly March who had made a dangerous, but containable, run inside the box. Glenn Murray stepped up and converted to reach the 200-goal mark in his 15-year professional career.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Arsenal’s best chance to win it saw Aubameyang smash the ball just inches wide of the post in the 74th minute. With much of the left side of the goal at his mercy, the Gabonese goalscorer couldn’t keep the ball on frame when he leapt into the air struck a volley with great power.

Brighton had two chances to steal all three points in the 84th minute, but March’s header was saved by Bernd Leno at point-blank range, then Pascal Gross wasn’t able to put his follow-up effort on target. The near post was wide open and required just a bit of composure to touch the ball home.

Arsenal will visit Burnley on the final day of the season, next Sunday, while Spurs will host Everton.