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10-man Arsenal held at Crystal Palace

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10-man Arsenal had to settle on for a point at Crystal Palace on Saturday as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put them in front but was sent off via VAR as Jordan Ayew‘s second half effort grabbed a 1-1 draw for the hosts at Selhurst Park.

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Aubameyang’s opener capped off a dominant first half from Mikel Arteta‘s Gunners but Palace improved after the break as Roy Hodgson‘s side battled hard and Ayew’s equalizer was deserved.

With the point Palace remain one point and one place ahead of Arsenal in ninth in the Premier League table.


3 things we learned

1. Arteta has front four purring: Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang and Ozil were on the same wavelength throughout as three of the four combined to set up Arsenal’s opening goal. From clever flicks to runs which were found by one another, Arteta seems to have found a way to get Arsenal’s top four attacking talents in the team at the same time. Even if their recent defensive improvement doesn’t last, if their front four continue to shine they will pick up plenty of points.

2. Zaha non-existent: Ainsley Maitland-Niles did a job on Zaha as the Palace winger decided to keep passing backwards instead of taking on the Arsenal defense. Maitland-Niles didn’t dive in and matched Zaha yard for yard out wide as he passed a big test in his development as a right back. Zaha, who is being linked heavily with a move to Chelsea this month, looked like his mind was elsewhere on Saturday.

3. VAR gets sending off correct, swings game in Palace’s favor: Aubameyang caught Max Meyer with a nasty tackle above his ankle and Arsenal’s captain was initially booked but VAR was used to upgrade the punishment to a red card. As the incident was shown on the big screen at Selhurst Park after the decision had been confirmed, the boos and winces from the crowd said it all. Aubameyang caught him high and the reason given for issuing a red card was the “intensity and point of contact” of the challenge. Aubameyang, Arsenal’s top goalscorer, will now be out for three games unless the Gunners appeal successfully. Had they not had Aubameyang sent off, Arsenal would probably have found a way to win this game but instead they grabbed a gritty point away from home.

Man of the Match: Either of Arsenal full backs, Maitland-Niles or Kolasinac, deserved this but I’m going with Maitland-Niles. He’s not a natural right back but he kept Palace’s most dangerous, and coveted, player quiet with Zaha hardly having a kick all game long. Superb individual defending.


Arsenal put Palace under pressure from the first whistle and that paid off.

Aubameyang finished after a flowing 18-pass move to give the Gunners the lead inside the first 15 minutes as Arteta celebrated on the sidelines.

The Gunners continued to impress in the first half as Pepe, Ozil, Lacazette and Aubameyang stretched Palace’s defense with their movement and clever interplay. David Luiz was also a key figure in their dominance as his distribution out of the back consistently set up attacks.

Cheikhou Kouyate had a shot straight at Bernd Leno which the Arsenal goalkeeper collected at the second attempt as Palace finally got a foothold in the game.

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At half time Matteo Guendouzi replaced Lucas Torreira in Arsenal’s midfield and in the second half Palace wrestled back some control on the game.

Ayew made the most of their pressure as his shot deflected off Luiz after hesitant defending, and set up a thrilling last 30 minutes.

Pepe’s brilliant corner was flicked just over by Luiz as Arsenal pushed hard for an equalizer late on.

Arsenal were reduced to 10 men for the final 20 minutes as VAR intervened and upgraded Aubameyang’s initial yellow card to a red as the Arsenal skipper caught Max Meyer high above his ankle.

Sokratis somehow cleared off the line as Palace threw everything at the 10 men of Arsenal late on, but the Gunners almost nicked all three points as Pepe’s shot was superbly tipped onto the post by Vicente Guaita then Palace’s goalkeeper bravely saved Lacazette’s follow up.

VIDEO: Aubameyang caps off lovely Arsenal move

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang finished off a superb Arsenal move in the first half of their game at Crystal Palace.

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The Gabonese striker finished calmly after a flowing 18-pass move to give the Gunners the lead inside the first 15 minutes as Mikel Arteta celebrated on the sidelines.

Arsenal’s skipper was played in by Alexandre Lacazette after a nice flick from Mesut Ozil as David Luiz‘s ball cut through Palace’s midfield.

Click play on the video above to watch poetry in motion, as this was like watching the Arsenal of 15 years ago.

Majestic.

Players say Arteta lit Arsenal squad up at halftime of Leeds win

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Arsenal should have been down 2- or 3-0 to Leeds United at halftime of their FA Cup match. Mikel Arteta was displeased.

“The manager shouted a lot,” Alexandre Lacazette said after the eventual 1-0 Arsenal win. “He was not happy because we knew they’d play like this and we didn’t respect what he had said.”

[ RECAP: Arsenal survives against Leeds ]

It worked. After being completely dominated through the first 45 minutes of the match against the Championship leaders, Arsenal came back out refreshed and revitalized, eventually winning through Reiss Nelson‘s game-winner in the 55th minute.

“As a coach you always need to have the aggressive side and the side where you give love as well,” Nelson said after the match. “He just said that we weren’t playing the way we should be playing. Mikel is a manager who wants to play with a purpose. He said we needed to be more aggressive and we did that in the second half. We showed more fight and character. We went out and did what we were supposed to do.”

Nelson said Arsenal wasn’t prepared for the high Leeds press that forced the Gunners into a number of bad mistakes. The visitors at the Emirates held 63% possession in the first half and ripped off 15 shots to Arsenal’s three. Granit Xhaka committed a number of first-half fouls and David Luiz was guilty of a bad turnover in the defensive third, among many other mistakes. Yet it was 0-0 at the break, and Arsenal regrouped.

“They [Leeds] played well in the first half,” Nelson said, “but of course Leeds are a great team and they pressed us. We didn’t expect it. In the second half we played with a real purpose. The team came out ready to go and showed we could create a lot of chances.”

Arteta may be partially to blame for the team not being totally prepared to face Marcelo Bielsa’s side, but they survived and advanced, likely also thanks to the Spaniard’s leadership qualities, displayed at the break.

Does Boateng to Arsenal make sense?

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Arsenal have admitted they need a new center back after Calum Chamber’s ACL injury and reports suggest that Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng is their top target for January.

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Our partners at Sky Sports in Germany claim that Boateng wants to leave in the winter window and the 31-year-old will be able to leave the Bundesliga giants for around $16.7 million.

However, there’s a caveat in this deal as Bayern are currently short of fit center backs and Lucas Hernandez is struggling with his recovery from injury, so they may not be willing to sell Boateng in January.

Would Boateng to Arsenal make sense?

His quality over the years is clear for all to see as the 2014 World Cup winner has won every major trophy possible since joining Bayern in 2011. But does new Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta need another experienced center back a la David Luiz? They probably need to focus on bringing in younger players and they already have William Saliba arriving from Saint-Etienne in the summer after he was signed last summer and then loner back for 2019-20.

Boateng is a more conventional center back and pairing him with one of Luiz or Sokratis would probably work pretty well. Arteta has improved Arsenal in midfield and attack in his first few weeks as boss but Shkodran Mustafi looks set to be on his way out and they need a dominant center back to try and push them on to an unlikely top four finish this season.

The Gunners have been linked with a move for RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano but he is likely to stay with the German side until at least the summer, as they are pushing for the Bundesliga title and are in the UCL last 16.

As for Boateng, he has been pushing for a move away from Bayern for a few years now and after he was axed by German coach Joachim Low after Die Mannschaft’s failure at the 2018 World Cup he’s been out injured and his form has been inconsistent.

But Boateng’s quality remains and with former Germany teammates Bernd Leno, Mesut Ozil and Per Mertescaker at Arsenal, this could be a good fit for everyone involved.

Arteta wants to sign a new center back, Boateng wants to leave and for a player with his experience and quality it is very small transfer fee.

This deal makes so much sense for Arsenal.

Arsenal set sights on January additions

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January is here and Premier League clubs, including Arsenal, are getting ready to spend.

Arsenal have been forced to spend in the January transfer market and their fans will probably be delighted that Mikel Arteta has signalled that the Gunners need some new center backs.

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Sokratis and David Luiz put in superb displays in their 2-0 win against Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium on New Year’s Day but the only reason Sokratis was in the team was because Calum Chambers went down with a serious knee injury on Dec. 29 against Chelsea.

Arsenal revealed the following update on Chambers, who is out until the start of next season.

“Further to the injury sustained during the match against Chelsea on Sunday, we can confirm that Calum ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee. Calum has had successful surgery in London on Thursday morning. The rehabilitation process is expected to take between six to nine months. Everyone at the club will be supporting Calum to ensure he is back on the pitch as soon as possible.”

Arteta is now prepping to be without Chambers for the rest of this season as the Englishman had excelled in recent weeks.

“We will try to be in the market to see options that can strengthen the team, that’s for sure and that’s our obligation. We are going to be working on that. My obligation is to give my opinion on the things we can improve,” Arteta said. “We have some bad injuries with Calum a few days ago, which is obviously going to change our plans at the back. But the reality at the moment is that we are not going to be able to do much.”

“I’m more concerned at the moment about getting people back from injuries than I am the signings. I want to improve the players I here, get everybody on board and understanding what we’re trying to do. If something extra comes up and we think it’s the right opportunity to improve what we have, let’s do it.”

According to The Telegraph, Arsenal have RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano, Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake and Juventus defender Daniel Rugani in their mind to strengthen their defense. They would all be upgrades on their current options at center back and Arteta also stated that he wants Granit Xhaka to stay despite Hertha Berlin linked with the combative (in more ways than one…) Swiss midfielder.

“From my perspective, I don’t want him to leave. I said no to the club and I said no to him. After, in life, I cannot control what happens,” Arteta said, as he also added that he hasn’t even thought about Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leaving amid reports he wants a move.

Speaking about the injuries that Arsenal have in general, Arteta revealed he wants to rotate the team more ahead of their FA Cup clash against high-flying Championship Leeds United on Monday.

“At the moment we’re managing a lot of injuries, we haven’t been able to rotate the team a lot. We survived,” Arteta said. “Yesterday [against Man United] I was a little bit scared we could expose a few players and get some injuries. We went through the game and we suffered but I think all the teams in the Premier League at the moment are in the same position. We went through it, we suffered together and now we have a few days to recover.”

There’s no doubt Arteta has already had a big impact at Arsenal and their display against Man United, especially in the first half, showcased their ability to press high as a unit and be clinical when they won the ball back.

That needs to keep going with Pepe, Ozil, Aubameyang and Lacazette all on board, but the main thing for Arteta is to improve their shaky defense. That has to be the priority in January and this summer.

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