Gabriel Martinelli

Mikel Arteta
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Mikel Arteta: Arsenal ‘on right path’ after FA Cup win

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Arsenal posted a comfortable-enough 2-0 win over Portsmouth in FA Cup action at Fratton Park on Monday, easing into the quarterfinals.

Manager Mikel Arteta and veteran David Luiz are happy with the progress but continue to plead for patience with the process.

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“I’m really enjoying working with this group of players. It’s a process. I know everything has to be today or yesterday but in football it doesn’t happen like this. I’m seeing a lot of things I’m happy with but there is a lot of room to improve.”

It would be a major boon for Arsenal to collect a trophy so early in the Arteta era. The Gunners have claimed 13 FA Cups, more than anyone else in England. Manchester United is second with 12.

“There is a long way to go,” Arteta said. “But we’re on the right path. We’ll see what happens in the draw. We’ll keep going because we love this competition.”

Arsenal leader Luiz said the club is on the right track, especially given the fine performances from young players like Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli.

The teens were joined by fellow youngsters Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah, and Matteo Guendouzi in the Starting XI, and 22-year-old Ainsley Maitland-Niles came off the bench.

“We need to be humble and understand we are not there yet,” he said. “Tonight I was pleased with the team and the young boys, they have a great mentality and understand what is need at a high level. We need to be ready to react and understand football.”

Arsenal hosts West Ham United on Saturday.

Arsenal handles Portsmouth to advance in FA Cup

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Arsenal clinched the first spot in the quarterfinals of the 2020 FA Cup with a 2-0 victory over Portsmouth at Fratton Park on Monday.

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Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Eddie Nketiah scored for the Gunners, whose 13 tournament titles are the most in the history of the competition.

Arsenal hosts West Ham United on Saturday.


Three things we learned

1. Gunners steady despite Europa ouster: Arsenal’s home disappointment to Olympiacos in the Europa League last week might’ve been its only hope of Champions League football. There was plenty of focus on how the Gunners would react, even given substandard competition, and Mikel Arteta‘s men did well enough. Seventy-five percent of the ball and only one big chance allowed show a real professional win, even if their attackers’ finishing deprived them of a blowout score line.

2. Pablo Mari makes solid first impression: Arsenal’s January addition took some time to get up to speed because Flamengo was out-of-season when he arrived from Brazil. The towering former Man City center back didn’t have a ton to do and was credited with 100 touches, five clearances, three blocks, 89 percent passing, and a quality 12-of-16 connection on long balls. Promising, albeit against a League One side.

3. Torreira injured: Lucas Torreira needed to be removed from the match with a lowe leg injury after tangling legs with Pompey’s James Bolton. A trainer was shown holding his ankle in place and Dani Ceballos took his place, though reports said he did not require a hospital visit. Torreira has played in all but three of Arsenal’s Premier League matches this season.

Man of the Match: Martinelli was clever and Mari’s strong debut adds sentimentality to the shout, but Sokratis was probably the Gunners’ top player.


Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli drove the end line to cut back for Eddie Nketiah but the chance resulted in a corner.

The Gunners went ahead when Reiss Nelson crossed into the traffic from the right flank and Sokratis burst onto the ball to smash home.

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Pompey had some good moments in the latter stages of the first half, and would’ve been content to be down one.

Arsenal made it 2-0 with the help of some poor defending, Nketiah running onto a cross and keeping his cool as the ball bobbled in traffic.

Lacazette gives Arsenal first leg in Greece

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Alexandre Lacazette scored the lone goal as Arsenal beat hosts Olympiacos 1-0 in the first leg of a Europa League Round of 32 tie on Thursday.

The second leg is Feb. 27 at the Emirates Stadium, four days after the Gunners host Carlo Ancelotti and Everton in Premier League play.

Lacazette now has eight goals in 24 appearances for Arsenal this season.

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Lacazette missed a big early chance from close range, Gabriel Martinelli deprived of a near-certain assist.

Fortunately for Lacazette, he got a second bite at the apple and smashed it home with a vengeance. Bukayo Saka continued his impressive debut season by assisting the goal.

It was an even match, as Olympiacos continued its habit of steady defense but was unable to produce any attack. The Greeks weren’t credited with the creation of any big chances.

Bernd Leno made three saves and was very good in distribution on the day, with Saka, David Luiz, Shkrodan Mustafi, and Sokratis Papastathopoulus continuing steady defense under Mikel Arteta.

Bernd Leno: Europa League, FA Cup important for Arsenal

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Bernd Leno thinks Arsenal’s Europa League battle can help the team expedite its return to contention.

The Gunners are unlikely to reclaim a Champions League berth via the top four, currently 10 points back of fourth-place Chelsea.

And possible obstacles to winning the Europa League include Inter Milan, Manchester United, Wolves, Sevilla, and Ajax amongst others.

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But Leno says a trophy, whether the FA Cup or UEL, would be huge. But even if the Gunners don’t manage to reach another final, the big moments against top competition will help strengthen their nerve.

From Football.London:

“In the Europa League and FA Cup we have so many difficult games, so many big games because we saw last season that in the Europa League quarter-finals and semi-finals you get Champions League teams. They are all playing for the title and the final was Arsenal against Chelsea [last season], so it was a very, very big game.

“We want to have this final again and also in the FA Cup. Everybody told me that the FA Cup final at Wembley is unbelievable with the atmosphere and it is also a trophy, a title and we are looking forward to playing these games. Hopefully we can win a title this season.”

It’s especially true for stars-in-waiting Gabriel Martinelli, Eddie Nketiah, and Bukayo Saka, and follows the same logic as sending Emile Smith-Rowe on loan to Huddersfield Town. Play in important spots for your side, and grow.

Arsenal is in training camp in the Middle East for its winter break, and will return to host Newcastle in the Premier League before beginning the Europa League Round of 32 tie with Olympiacos. Its next FA Cup opponent is Portsmouth on March 2, so it’s reasonable to figure Arsenal will take the next step toward silverware in both competitions.

Leno has been sensational for the Gunners this season, and he wasn’t bad in his first season after arriving from Bayer Leverkusen, either. Even if his top four prediction in December isn’t going according to plan.

Watch Live: Burnley v. Arsenal

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If you went back to August and told Burnley they’d have the same amount of points as Arsenal in Week 25 of the Premier League season, the Clarets would probably smile at the thought of another bid to qualify for Europe.

It’s been a tough season for both teams, who meet Sunday morning at Turf Moor (Watch live at 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Arsenal has 30 points and sits 12th, six points off fifth-place Sheffield United. Burnley is also on 30 points, six points clear of the drop zone.

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Nicolas Pepe goes back to the bench, as Gabriel Martinelli starts in attack with Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Alexandre Lacazette.

Jay Rodriguez and Chris Wood lead the Burnley line, with star goalkeeper Nick Pope on the back end to deal with the Arsenal threat.

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