Bukayo Saka

Fleck artistry gets Sheffield United point at Arsenal

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John Fleck‘s perfectly lashed side volley gave Sheffield United a 1-1 draw at Arsenal on Saturday.

The Emirates Stadium saw a wasteful first hour from the Gunners give way to a resurgent Blades side and a share of the points.

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Gabriel Martinelli opened the scoring for the Gunners, who sit 10th with 29 points. The Blades move to 33 points and sit seventh.

The match was Mike Dean’s 500th Premier League match, and not without controversy. Dean neglected to award a penalty when Nicolas Pepe was chopped down in the box, but VAR stayed with him.


Three things we learned

1. Blades are for real: There’s a reason Chris Wilder is getting linked with plenty of jobs and got a new contract: Sheffield United’s men are bought into a system about as well as anyone not named Jurgen Klopp. Granted Arsenal let early United errors slide, but once the Blades took hold of momentum it rarely felt like the Gunners would score the game’s second goal

2. Aubameyang absence glaring: It’s no surprise that missing one of the world’s best scorers is a not good, but you’d peg Arsenal’s talented group of attackers to sort it out. Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette had their moments and Martinelli did get his goal, but there was an Auba-sized hole in both the aura and composure of the Gunners in the final third. That red card is stinging like a fresh cut.

3. Xhaka, Torreira steady: Mikel Arteta has found better play from Swiss hard man Granit Xhaka, while Lucas Torreira is working well with his center midfield mate. Their play allows Mesut Ozil to do whatever he wants, more or less. Throw in a fine day from Shkrodan Mustafi, and the Gunners were a Maitland-Niles 50-50 battle away from a clean sheet

Man of the Match: Give it to Fleck for the goal plus four tackles and another day of committed challenges.


Lacazette sent Nicolas Pepe down the right flank, and the Ivorian sent a terrific cross for Gabriel Martinelli. The youngster volleyed across goal and wide of the far post.

Lucas Torreira popped a dipping shot that Dean Henderson smothered in the 32nd minute.

Martinelli didn’t miss his second, punching home a 45th minute deflected cross from Bukayo Saka. The latter had a terrific first half for the Gunners.

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The Blades didn’t quit, and Arsenal was forced into a goal line clearance in the 56th.

Pepe could’ve won a penalty when he was chopped down on a dribble into the box, but VAR upheld Mike Dean’s initial judgment.

Sheffield United scored an equalizerr in brilliant fashion, Fleck slashing a bounding side volley past Leno in the 83rd minute.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles blocked a shot and Leno made a tremendous save in stoppage time to keep the hosts’ point.

PL AT HALF: Goals, goals everywhere as Arsenal leads, Man City trails

Joe Giddens/PA via AP
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The Premier League’s six 10 a.m. ET kickoffs provided loads of late goals and a red card that’s a hilarious look for everyone but Bournemouth.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ] 


West Ham 1-1 Everton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

The Irons went ahead through an Issa Diop header of a Robert Snodgrass header, as the Scottish playmaker is having a day at the London Stadium, but Calvert-Lewin nodded home a Lucas Digne corner before halftime.

Southampton 2-0 Wolves – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Saints’ rocket up the Premier League table continues at St. Mary’s, where Jan Bednarek and Shane Long have a two-goal lead on Nuno Espirito Santo‘s struggling men.

Brighton 1-0 Aston Villa – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Leandro Trossard smashed a shot home to give the Seagulls an advantage at the break.

Arsenal 1-0 Sheffield United – NBCSN [STREAM]

Gabriel Martinelli missed the first best chance of the match, cued up by exceptional passes from Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe. The youngster didn’t miss his second, punching home a 45th minute deflected cross from Bukayo Saka.

Man City 0-1 Crystal Palace – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

We told you Cenk Tosun‘s numbers were better than you thought, and the Everton loanee has nodded a Gary Cahill flick past Ederson at the Etihad.

Norwich 1-0 Bournemouth – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Bad, bad times for the Cherries; Steve Cook handled a ball in the box and was sent off, Teemu Pukki dispatching the penalty moments later.

Cook, wyd?

 

Arteta hopes Ozil able to play ‘every three or four days’

Arsenal manager Arteta praises Ozil
Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images
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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has a lot of faith in Mesut Ozil.

It didn’t look like the Gunners’ playmaker would have a lot of time left in North London, but the new guy in charge feels otherwise.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Ozil, 31, was much younger when he joined Arsenal from Real Madrid. The German rang up 20 goals and 43 assists in the three seasons he spent as Arteta’s teammate.

Ozil had 19 assists the last season of their tenure as teammates, coming within one of tying Thierry Henry’s record.

The player has a contract through 2020/21, and is entering the dreaded final year, but Arteta’s got a lot of plans for him.

From The London Evening Standard:

“I’m hoping he can sustain this level every three or four days. He’s putting in everything he has to try and do that, and I think his numbers physically have improved so much as well. He’s willing every day in training.

“I know him really well, so I’m not surprised. I know his ability and I know the player we have there, and as well, the structure has to be there to be able to help him to take everything that he has inside.”

The Arsenal attacking jigsaw puzzle will be fascinating the rest of this season.

Lethal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang may want out, and buddy Alexandre Lacazette may not be too thrilled about his role, either. Then there’s mega-money transfer Nicolas Pepe, who isn’t getting a ton of run at all, with youngster Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli waiting in the wings.

Oh, then there’s Eddie Nketiah on loan at Leeds United.

And Ozil. What’s the plan?

Arsenal ‘can’t rely on our name’ as youngsters stand tall

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Youngsters Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka, Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and Gabriel Martinelli all played and stood tall as Arsenal ground out a 0-0 draw at Everton on Saturday.

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Established stars Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette struggled, while Nicolas Pepe and Mesut Ozil have been inconsistent all season. Maybe it is time for the kids to rescue Arsenal…

It wasn’t pretty but it will provide new manager Mikel Arteta, who was watching on from the stands, with the belief that this squad can dig deep to turn things around and get back in the top four hunt.

Speaking to BT Sport after the game, interim coach Freddie Ljungberg revealed that he was delighted with how his young side played and they will need to put in plenty more gritty displays under Arteta.

“I was very happy. We had a very young side out there because I wanted energy and I wanted to give them chances. We dominated possession and chances, and you could see Everton getting tired and frustrated,” Ljungberg said. “I thought we could have won the game with the chances we had. But I loved the spirit we saw and that’s what you need in the Premier League. I wanted to see people that would run and fight for the team. We can’t rely on our name – we have to fight and do the dirty things.”

Arsenal have talent and they have enough to be in the top four hunt, but the one thing which can be questioned is their determination and focus.

You couldn’t fault that from their youngsters on Saturday against a fired-up Everton side who were playing in front of their own new manager watching from the stands, Carlo Ancelotti. At times their play was sloppy but the determination was there.

Arsenal and Arteta will need that in abundance going forward and it seems like his succinct and impressive first press conference on Friday struck a chord with the players.

Stalemate between Everton, Arsenal

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Everton and Arsenal played out a dour 0-0 draw at Goodison Park on Saturday, as both teams had their new managers watching on from the stands.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Carlo Ancelotti and Mikel Arteta are now in charge of Everton and Arsenal respectively and will have been far from impressed with what they saw as interim managers Duncan Ferguson and Freddie Ljungberg tried their best, but both teams failed to create clear cut chances.

With the point Everton now have 19 for the season but remain just above the relegation zone, while Arsenal move on to 23 points.


3 things we learned

1. Players distracted as new managers watch on: With Arteta and Ancelotti in the stands, both sets of players looked nervous. It was as though they were involved in a very, very public job interview and a lot of the players were trying to do things they weren’t comfortable with. That resulted in a very poor game, lacking in quality and specializing in nerves. Both new managers will have plenty to mull over in the coming days as they aim to push their teams up the table.

2. Arsenal’s kids are okay: Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka, Joe Reiss Nelson and Gabriel Martinelli all started and all played their part in a gritty away display for the Gunners. The kids played well in the second half against Man City last week and perhaps new manager Arteta will be best served to give them an extended run in the team in the coming weeks and months. Aubameyang was taken off in the second half and the likes of Lacazette, Ozil and Pepe have failed to get going in recent months, so it may be down to the kids to drag Arsenal out of this situation.

3. Big Dunc signs off unbeaten: Interim boss Duncan Ferguson can hold his head high as he prepares for a position on Ancelotti’s staff. The Everton legend beat Chelsea and drew against Man United and Arsenal in his three PL games in charge, plus the Toffees draw 2-2 against Leicester in the League Cup quarterfinals, only to lose on penalty kicks. Ferguson will be back and he is a man of the people and gave his sweatband, tie and everything else away as he walked off the pitch at the end of the game. After Ancelotti, he has shown he can be the next man up for the Toffees as he galvanized a struggling squad of players to dig deep and restore some pride. The way he subbed off the sub Cenk Tosun will rub many the wrong way, and he did it with Moise Kean last week too, but Ferguson isn’t messing around and he has high standards which the Toffees lived up to.

Man of the Match: Calum Chambers – Dug deep defensively, looked solid at the heart of Arsenal’s defense and dealt with the threat of Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin and Tosun well.


Both teams were tentative on the ball early with their new managers watching on, and the first big moment was Alex Iwobi coming off injured with what looked like a slight hamstring pull. His replacement, Cenk Tosun, flashed an effort over the bar with his first touch of the game as Everton started to build a head of steam.

Richarlison had a shot blocked and Gylfi Sigurdsson curled a free kick just wide as Arsenal struggled to get out of their own half. Tom Davies crossed for Tosun but it was too powerful for the Turkish striker to get a decent effort on target, then Gabriel Martinelli raced clear at the other end but smashed wide as Arsenal had their first chance of the game right on half time.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

At the start of the second half Richarlison flashed an effort just wide of the far post as Everton continued to look the more likely to break the deadlock.

Jordan Pickford then made a really good save as Calum Chamber’s flick on found Aubameyang at the back post but Everton’s goalkeeper clawed the ball out. Emile Smith Rowe then should have got a shot away but Aubameyang slipped as he tried to finish as the Gunners finally got going.

Everton finished the game strongly as Dominic Calvert-Lewin had a shot which was blocked by Lucas Torreira in the box, as VAR checked for a handball but nothing was given.

Cenk Tosun was subbed off late on after coming on as a sub, as Moise Kean came on and Tosun was far from happy with the decision from Ferguson.

The final minutes were scrappy and summed up the full 90 as both teams huffed and puffed without really throwing caution to the wind.