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Season over for Arsenal’s Bellerin

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Arsenal’s fears regarding Hector Bellerin‘s leg injury were founded in truth, as the Spaniard is set to miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL.

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Bellerin, still just 23, was stretchered off of Arsenal’s 2-0 defeat of Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium this weekend after his knee appeared to buckle during a non-contact play.

He’s already made 181 appearances for the Gunners, with seven goals and 24 assists.

Stephane Lichtsteiner and Carl Jenkinson are in Arsenal’s right back corps, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles capable of logging minutes, too.

Arsenal closes ground on Chelsea (video)

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  • Chelsea with 64 percent possession
  • Arsenal takes 2-0 halftime lead
  • Arrizabalaga strong in defeat

Chelsea had most of the ball but Arsenal produced almost all of the danger in a 2-0 defeat of the visiting Blues at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Alexandre Lacazette and Laurent Koscielny scored for Unai Emery‘s men, who avenged a 3-2 loss at Stamford Bridge in August to move three points back of the fourth place visitors.

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Chelsea’s opening moments were anything but stable, with a couple silly fouls and a flubbed chance by Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette off a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang feed.

Blues goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga bailed his team out when Laurent Koscielny jabbed a hard header at him off an Aaron Ramsey free kick.

The ensuing corner kick saw Lacazette put the Gunners ahead with a hard chipped finish past Arrizabalaga at the near post.

Koscielny’s shoulder turned a Sokratis shot over Arrizabalaga and inside the far post at the 40th minute.

Chelsea was a bit of a mess, but Marcos Alonso nearly pulled the deficit back to one when he headed off the post in the 45th minute.

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Pedro blazed a cutback pass from Willian over the bar after running into a promising 56th minute position.

Sead Kolasinac inspired danger in the 64th minute, but Arrizabalaga stood tall for Chelsea.

Arsenal suffered a significant setback in the second half, as Hector Bellerin‘s knee appeared to buckle on a non-contact injury. His leg was strapped down and the Spaniard was stretchered off the pitch.

Premier League Preview: Arsenal v. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea has lost just 1 of its last 14 against Arsenal
  • Arsenal is unbeaten in its last 12 home London derbies
  • Chelsea has won just 1 of its last 9 road matches at Big 6 clubs

A monumental battle in the chase for the Champions League places comes our way from the Emirates as Arsenal and Chelsea meet on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

The two clubs are separated by six points, but with Chelsea in fourth and Arsenal in fifth, the pressure is on the Gunners to earn a result and keep the chase alive. Should Arsenal fall, it would leave them with a monumental mountain to climb and leave the door open for Manchester United to mount a chase of its own. If the Gunners prevail, however, they would be just three points back and in prime position to pounce on any more Chelsea slips the rest of the way.

The Blues have yet to sort out the striker position, with Alvaro Morata not expected to start given the rumors of his departure, but with few other options, Eden Hazard has been utilized in a false-9 role of late. Olivier Giroud could be an option off the bench, but his ankle injury might have the final say.

For the Gunners, Mesut Ozil is healthy but was left out of the squad against West Ham last time out and it’s unclear whether Unai Emery will recall the German playmaker. Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal are both expected to make returns from injuries, bolstering the beleaguered Arsenal back line, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan is still struggling for fitness.

What they’re saying

Emery on Arsenal table position: “After our loss to West Ham it is a big difference to be six points behind Chelsea instead of three points behind. But the next match is against Chelsea and the opportunity we have is not the same, but if we win we have the opportunity to be closer to them. And we can then continue our way in the 38 matches in the Premier League. Every player has this ambition.”

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri on winning close games: “We were superficial I think [against Newcastle] because we thought the match was won. Being superficial is one of the biggest problems a team can have, so we have to counter the superficiality. If you are winning 1-0, you cannot think that the match is easy. So you have to kill the match. Then you have to manage the match.”

Video preview

Prediction

These two teams are incredibly evenly matched, and even recent history between these two sides doesn’t give us much to go off. With all the pressure on the home side, Chelsea will likely be content to sit back and frustrate the Gunners, a strategy which has worked against Arsenal in the past. The Blues are excellent off the ball, and will use that prowess to pick its spots up front, finding the right moments to attack. The two teams will score, but Arsenal won’t find the result it is looking for in a 1-1 draw.

Premier League preview: West Ham v. Arsenal

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  • Arsenal has lost just 1 of its last 21 PL matches against West Ham
  • Aubameyang has scored in four straight London derbies
  • West Ham has 16 points in its last 8 games, 4th best in the PL

West Ham could hand a debut appearance to Samir Nasri as the Hammers host Arsenal at London Stadium, Saturday at 7:30 a.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Nasri’s arrival in the West Ham squad times up perfectly with the recent unrest surrounding Marko Arnautovic, who could be held out of the match as rumors swirl about a possible big-money move to China. Arnautovic’s absence would be a brutal blow to the West Ham attack, but Nasri could slot into his place and would have an immediate chance to make an impact on his return to the Premier League. Nasri last played a Premier League match on August 28, 2016 for Manchester City against West Ham.

For Arsenal, the Gunners are without a growing number of injured players, including Mesut Ozil, Laurent Kosciely and Hector Bellerin. Thankfully, it appears they will have natural defenders along the back line, as Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal are apparently fit, as is Konstantinos Mavropanos.

The Gunners must be wary of a trap game against the Hammers, with an enormous match against fourth-placed Chelsea on the horizon. If Arsenal can keep focus, they could put pressure on the Blues ahead of their upcoming match that will be critical in shaping the race for the final Champions League position.

What they’re saying

West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini on responding to season-opening loss to Arsenal: “We have changed a lot more with four months of working. We didn’t play badly against Arsenal last time, but we lost with an own goal but after that we have worked hard, improved in every sense.”

Arsenal manager Unai Emery on West Ham: “I know he [Pellegrini] needs time to create his idea with the team. I think they are improving and they also have good individual players with quality. Players like Anderson, like Arnautovic, who are very good players. They are also playing at home with their supporters and that’s difficult for us.  Each away match is a very big challenge for us to find consistency and progression with our way. Saturday is a new challenge. We are [determined] to play [well] and to work hard in finding our victory.”

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Prediction

This match greatly hinges on the status of Arnautovic. While Samir Nasri could have a big day in his return, Arnautovic brings an element to West Ham that is special among their squad. If he doesn’t play, it’s likely Arsenal wins 2-0 thanks to Aubameyang’s good form up front.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Fekir omitted at Lyon, Godin to Inter

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With a few teams already securing January moves, there’s plenty more talk going around. The title race in the Premier League is back on, with the battle for Champions League places and the relegation fight also quite close.

So, as teams look to fill holes big and small, we take a look at the biggest transfer gossip of the day.

With Liverpool now looking over its shoulder at a closing Manchester City, a familiar name has surfaced. Nabil Fekir was a summer Liverpool target, with news of the Reds chase quite public. He ultimately stayed at the French club, but with his contract expiring in 2020, the onus is on Lyon to sell before the club loses even more leverage.

Rumors have resurfaced this winter as Fekir was omitted from the Lyon squad to take on a fifth-tier club in the Coupe de France. It’s not anything terribly out of the ordinary, as Fekir’s minutes have been limited this season with the occasional rest, so it’s not too odd to see him held out of a matchup against a lower-tier club. Still, that has energized new rumors, as the belief is Lyon will see Fekir’s value drop should they wait to sell in the summer, and they could find a desperate buyer to drive up the price should they sell now.

Fekir has been solid this season, with four goals and two assists in 12 Ligue 1 appearances, plus three goals and two assists in five Champions League matches. Lyon sits third in a brutally tight battle for Champions League places in the Ligue 1 table, so losing Fekir could be tough to stomach, but holding onto him any longer could devalue his asking price considerably.


Arsenal and Chelsea have been linked countless times to Brazilian right-back Emerson, and those rumors have lit back up this winter, with his club Atletico Minero reportedly in some financial trouble, according to Brazilian publication UOL. Selling the 19-year-old could ease those burdens, and thus, January would be the perfect time to get talent-starved teams to bite. In addition, the Brazilian Serie A wrapped up its season on December 1, so the offseason could be the right time to let him leave. The club is reportedly looking to raise anywhere between $20 million and $30 million in player sales, and reports back in November mention Emerson would cost around $10 million.

According to a number of reports across the English tabloids, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Barcelona are the clubs most interested in his services. The Gunners especially are in need of full-backs, with Hector Bellerin injured and Stephan Lichtsteiner in poor form and at 34 years old.

Emerson made 23 league appearances for his club last season, scoring one goal and assisting another. Of those 23 appearances, 22 of them were starts, and he reached the full 90 minutes in all but one.


With lots of reports surrounding Aaron Ramsey‘s possible free transfer to Juventus, another marquee free transfer has flown under the radar. Atletico Madrid defender Diego Godin is out of contract this summer, and at 32 years old, Atletico is expected to let him leave after eight decorated years with the club.

According to respected Italian journalist Gianluca di Marzio, Godin has already reached an agreement with his next club, signing a two-year deal with Inter Milan with an option for a third year. Inter’s defensive record is stellar this season, with 14 goals conceded in 19 matches, second only to table-toppers Juventus. Still, it would be hard to pass up a defender of Godin’s pedigree, as he would be a positive influence on emerging 23-year-old Milan Skriniar who has already racked up 2,000 minutes this season.

Di Marzio reports that the deal still needs to be “finalized” but that it is heading in that direction. It would allow Godin to link up with former teammate Miranda, with whom Godin won the La Liga title in 2014.


According to Belgian publication HLN, West Ham, Newcastle and Cardiff City are all interested in 22-year-old Brazilian striker Wesley, who currently plays at Belgian side Club Brugge.

Wesley has scored seven goals and assisted six others among 19 appearances in Jupiler Pro League play, helping Club Brugge to second in the league through 21 matches. The report states Cardiff has already made an official bid for him but it was turned down. An amount was not given.

The report states the club would rather sell in the summer than let him go in the middle of the season, but that the situation is fluid and the club does have a price that would force its hand. Both Cardiff and Newcastle have struggled to create goals this season, and Wesley’s ability to both score and create chances.