Bernd Leno

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Lacazette’s desire epitomizes resilient Arsenal

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Arsenal are back in the hunt for UEFA Champions League qualification as the Gunners ground out a 1-0 win against West Ham on Saturday.

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Mikel Arteta’s men have lost just once in 10 Premier League games since he took charge and although they crashed out of the Europa League last week, they are through to the quarterfinals of the FA Cup and have a newfound grit, determination and a little bit more savvy about their play.

Teenagers are keeping established stars out of the team and there’s a new hunger about their play.

They’ve improved defensively and the game-winner on Saturday, Alexandre Lacazette, has scored three times in his last four games despite losing his starting spot.

Youngster Eddie Nketiah has started up top in recent weeks but the Frenchman is hungry to fight for his place and that attitude sums up this Arsenal squad right now.

“I’m happy to score for the team. We worked hard. It was a difficult game. I’m happy. They deserved more because of the chances they created. This is football, sometimes you don’t get what you deserve. It is my job to give the manager a big headache. I’m struggling to make the first team but I’m happy to score again today. I know that now I have to play well again the next game. Everyone wants to give their best and it’s normal that whenever we do that we will perform as a team,” Lacazette told the media afterwards.

Arsenal are five points off fourth place and have a game in hand, albeit at Man City on Wednesday, and with fifth place potentially becoming a Champions League spot this season it is a really interesting point in their campaign.

Despite their obvious defensive flaws Arsenal are keeping clean sheets and although West Ham coughed up plenty of chances on Saturday, Bernd Leno again made plenty of fine stops, while Dani Ceballos is running the show in midfield.

This Arsenal team have been written off by everyone this season and are somehow still in the hunt for the UCL. That makes me think there’s something more about them under Arteta than meets the eye. The Gunners are now a banged up and resilient bunch playing like underdogs instead of the top dogs, and how often have we able to say that over the last decade?

Despite their tough remaining schedule, beware of the Gunners down the stretcH.

Arsenal snatch victory against West Ham

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Arsenal beat West Ham United 1-0 in the Premier League on Saturday as Mikel Arteta‘s side rode their luck but kept their unlucky push for Champions League qualification alive.

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A late goal from substitute Alexandre Lacazette, which was awarded via VAR after it was initially ruled out for offside, was the difference as West Ham’s Michail Antonio was guilty of missing several glorious opportunities.

The Gunners are in ninth place on 40 points and are five points off the top four. West Ham remain in 16th place on 27 points.


3 things we learned

1. West Ham unlucky: The Hammers came up against an in-form Arsenal goalkeeper and missed plenty of good chances throughout. David Moyes‘ side played well and were solid enough defensively but they couldn’t take their chances.

2. Arsenal have Leno to thank: The German goalkeeper has had a very good season for the Gunners with a few errors here and there more than canceled out by consistently decent displays. Leno denied Antonio and Haller on multiple occasions and has been a big part of their newfound defensive solidity.

3. Lacazette continues to fire: He’s now scored three goals in his last four games and Lacazette has found his mojo. With Eddie Nketiah doing well in recent weeks, Lacazette has had to be patient and he keeps giving Arsenal a cutting edge off the bench when they need it most. He may not be around next season but right now Lacazette is doing his best to make sure the Gunners stay in the top four (or five) battle.

Man of the Match: Bernd Leno – Several fine stops and a calming influence on his defensive unit. Jarrod Bowen also played very well for West Ham.


The Hammers squandered a glorious chance to take the lead early on as Michail Antonio raced clear and tried to set up Sebastien Haller but got it all wrong as he two v. one situation didn’t work out.

Moments later Arsenal almost went level as Mesut Ozil‘s shot was blocked superbly by Aaron Cresswell. Haller then had a great chance after being played in by Mark Noble but his first touch let him down and the chance came and went.

Arsenal then went closer to taking the lead as Sokratis hit the bar with a header from Aubameyang’s cross as the end-to-end nature of the game continued.

Antonio then missed a glorious chance from inside the six yard box as he somehow flicked wide.

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At the start of the second half the game continued to be open as Eddie Nketiah was played in by Bukayo Saka but his shot was blocked. Then Antonio had another great chance but his header was saved by Bernd Leno as the West Ham forward should have scored.

Arsenal struggled to take the game to West Ham late on as the Hammers launched several dangerous counter attacks through Jarrod Bowen and Antonio.

But then Arsenal snatched all three points as a deflected shot found Ozil who nodded the ball onto Lacazette to finish and although the offside flag was raised, VAR was used and Ozil was clearly onside and the ruling was overturned.

West Ham still had time to squander a few more chances as Haller went close and so too

Arteta vows to keep Aubameyang: ‘Our most important player’

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Arsenal completed a hectic week with a hectic win prodded by its two top performers of the season.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice and Bernd Leno made key late saves as the exhausted Gunners outlasted Everton 3-2 at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was effusive in his praise, relatively speaking, for both players. He said that Leno “saved” Arsenal, and went long on Aubameyang when asked how important the player is to the club’s future.

“Incredible,” Arteta said. “The amount of work he’s doing. Before I had my questions, (but he’s) shown the commitment that he’s shown to his teammates and the club. I wasn’t sure if he wanted to do it, or do it physically. So it’s either you want to do it or don’t.

“He’s our most important player. Stats wise, there’s no question. As much as I can and the club can, we will try to convince him to stay with us.”

Arteta also appreciates the effort his men put in against an energetic Everton side three days after outlasting Olympiacos in Greece.

“Coming back from Europe, three games in seven days, conceding a goal in the first minute, the way we reacted, the way we played for 60-65 minutes was exactly what I wasn’t from my team,” Arteta preened. “The resilience some of the players showed when they were absolutely knackered and kept going and going. This was exactly what I wanted. … Everybody was looking at me, saying ‘I’m cramping. I’m doing this, doing that.’ We could only change two players. I tried to condense the midfield and have a little bit more energy.”

Leno was very happy with Arsenal’s effort.

The Gunners have been much better since Arteta implemented his system, even if their 270-minute shutout streak died in the first minute on Sunday.

“You could see that our power was at the end,” Leno said. “We were fighting. You can see how happy everyone was after this game because we deserve this and we have to keep going.”

Aubameyang praised his keeper.

“We are always happy to have him. He saved us a couple of times at the right moment. We’re proud of him and we know that we can count on him. He gives us more energy to push.”

The ninth-place Gunners are four points off fifth place and, of course, still alive for a Champions League berth through the Europa League.

Staying in the Champions League is probably their only path to keeping Aubameyang, and Arteta’s description of the Gabonese star doesn’t try to disguise the need to keep him in North London.

Aubameyang fires Arsenal past Everton

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang climbed atop the Premier League’s goal-scoring list as Arsenal beat Everton 3-2 on Sunday at the Emirates Stadium.

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Eddie Nketiah also scored for Mikel Arteta‘s men, who allowed a first-minute goal but rebounded to move ninth. The Gunners are four points off fifth.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richalrison scored for Everton, which sits a point behind the Gunners in 11th.


Three things we learned

1. Aubameyang’s class permanent: There’s a new name joining Jamie Vardy atop the Premier League’s goal scoring leaderboard, as Aubameyang bagged his 16th and 17th goals of the season. The Gabonese striker scored with his left foot and his head in putting himself one goal from 50 in his PL career.

2. Leno continues to make Best XI case: The majority of voters have probably used a permanent marker to put Alisson Becker into their teams of the year, but Bernd Leno has been an absolute marvel behind Arsenal’s suspect defense (which returned Sunday after a 270-minute shutout streak).

It’s not just about his shot-stopping, which is supremely good (and yes we know he allowed two on Sunday). Leno connected on five of seven long passes and passed at 90 percent. We know Mikel Arteta wants a ball-mover like Ederson. Leno fits the bill.

3. English youngsters deliver for both teams: Calvert-Lewin may have only converted one of his three prime chances, including a stoppage-time header wide of the goal, but the big Everton striker remains in the midst of his career year. The hosts got a ninth assist in all comps from Bukayo Saka (18) on a first PL goal from Eddie Nketiah, who’s just two years older than the English U-19 star.

That’s not even mentioning another decent-enough day from Mason Holgate, who’s improved dramatically under Ancelotti.

Man of the Match: Aubameyang.


Calvert-Lewin was the beneficiary of miserable Arsenal defending on a first-minute free kick, as Sead Kolasinac followed his mark into the box and David Luiz popped a header into the path of the scorer.

Djibril Sidibe then closed down Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after the Gabonese was played deep into the Everton third.

Kolasinac had injury added to his insult, his jersey sleeve a makeshift sling for his shoulder as he made way for Bukayo Saka in the 18th minute.

Eddie Nketiah sent Nicolas Pepe into the 18, but the Ivorian’s rocket blasted over the arms of leaping Jordan Pickford.

The Everton keeper would save Pepe in the 26th, but he couldn’t stop Nketiah a minute later. The Englishman leaped to knock in a terrific Saka cross for 1-1.

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The goals kept coming, as Luiz played Aubameyang through the Everton backline for a smashing finish in the 33rd, only to see Yerry Mina cue up Richarlison‘s stoppage-time finish.

The second half saw Arsenal score within a minute of the restart, Aubameyang heading a Pepe cross past Pickford.

Everton began to put pressure on the Gunners, and Leno made an incredible close-range save on Calvert-Lewin in the 73rd.

Leno made another big save when Richarlison trapped a low Delph drive and turned toward the goal.

Granit Xhaka picked off a poor Jordan Pickford pass and Nketiah struck the crossbar in the 86th.

Everton’s Calvert-Lewin opens scoring with overhead kick (video)

Overhead kick
Photo by Rob Newell - CameraSport via Getty Images
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Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored a spectacular goal, and Arsenal’s chaotic defending gave him a big assist.

The Everton man had the Toffees up 1-0 inside of the first minute when he hammered an overhead kick past Bernd Leno.

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Calvert-Lewin was first to react when David Luiz could only pop a swirling Gylfi Sigurdsson free kick high into the air.

The forward’s foot flew past Luiz’s mane — it withstood VAR review — after the Gunners looked confused by Sead Kolasinac following his mark into the 18.

The goal is Calvert-Lewin’s 12th of the PL season. He’s scored four in his last five league outings, and 10 in his last 12.

He has seven goals in nine matches under Carlo Ancelotti.