Laurent Koscielny

Aubameyang double helps Arsenal down Burnley (video)

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A Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang double saw Arsenal finish the Premier League season on a winning note, and the Gabon international draw level with the Premier League top scorers as Arsenal topped Burnley 3-1 at Turf Moor on the final day of the season.

Aubameyang started the day off strong, hitting the bar in the opening minutes. A free kick from a lateral angle swung in to the near post and the Arsenal striker clattered the crossbar with a chested ball. Tom Heaton was also forced into action in the early going, with Aubameyang again coming close minutes later.

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Arsenal was nearly broken down past the half-hour mark on a scrum in the box but a critical tackle from Mateo Guendouzi kept Burnley off the board. Just before the break, James Tarkowski got his head to a corner, but it fired just wide.

The Gunners had a familiar sight when Konstantinos Movrapanos went off injured past the half-hour mark, with Laurent Koscielny coming on in his place. The back line for the Gunners this season has been a revolving door with injuries dotting the landscape, and now with the Europa League final on the horizon, they will have to deal with another.

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Burnley finally broke thanks to a poor back-pass from Jack Cork, leaving Ben Mee in trouble. Aubameyang snatched the wayward ball, and he finished cooly through on goal for the opener 52 minutes in, his 21st goal of the season.

The second came 10 minutes later with Aubameyang on the double, smashing home a looped cross from Alex Iwobi to the far post. The goal was notable in the Golden Boot race, but Burnley made sure the celebration was short-lived as a header from Ashley Barnes pegged the Gunners back.

Aubameyang had a glorious chance to not only seal his hat-trick but also to win the Golden Boot, and he somehow missed. Henrikh Mkhitaryan‘s pinpoint cross came right to a sliding Aubameyang at the doorstep, but he managed to put it wide with the goal gaping.

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19-year-old Eddie Nketiah finished off the scoreline with the final kick of the game as he scored from an absurdly tight angle, squeaking it through a defender’s legs right on the end line and into the far corner. The goal was somewhat noteworthy given that Aubameyang was wide open at the penalty spot calling for the ball, and another goal for him would have sealed not only the hat-trick but the Golden Boot outright. Instead, Nketiah took it himself and wrapped up the game.

With the win, Arsenal finished the season in fifth, just a point off the Champions League places with 70, inches behind rival Tottenham’s 71-point haul. Burnley ends up in 15th, right on the magical 40-point mark.

Europa League Roundup: Arsenal shutout Napoli; Eintracht, Valencia advance

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What road problems?

For the second consecutive match, Arsenal picked up a 1-0 win on the road, this time against even tougher competition. Arsenal beat Napoli, 1-0, and 3-0 on aggregate to advance to the Europa League semifinals. Alexandre Lacazette scored a terrific free kick from 30-yards out, taking advantage of Alex Meter shifting the wrong way.

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In the second half, with Napoli needing four goals and pushing, Arsenal relied heavily on its centerback trio of Sokratis, Laurent Koscielny, and Nacho Monreal, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Saed Kolasinac helping in defense.

It’s a reversal of Arsenal’s recent fortunes, where before Monday, they hadn’t won on the road since February, including in the Europa League to Rennes. However, the 2-0 scoreline from the first leg really gave Arsenal the push and momentum it needed to get past a struggling Napoli side under Carlo Ancelotti.

Elsewhere, Valencia took care of languishing Villarreal in style with a 2-0 victory, winning 5-1 on aggregate, but the real drama took place in Germany.

With Eintracht Frankfurt trailing before kickoff by a pair of goals, the Eagles – well, both Benfica and Eintracht are the Eagles – managed to secure a 2-0 result to advance in the Europa League. Sebastian Rode’s second-half finish off an Ante Rebec pass has kept Eintracht’s season alive in Europe, where Luka Jovic can continue to market himself to the world’s biggest clubs.

Europa League: Arsenal takes control of tie with win over Napoli (video)

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Arsenal took one major step towards qualification for the UEFA Europa League semifinals with one of its best performances of the season on Thursday evening.

Unai Emery’s tactical gamble paid off as Arsenal took an early lead and never let off, defeating Serie A power Napoli, 2-0 at Emirates Stadium. Midfield duo Aaron Ramsey and Lucas Torreira produced the goals, with Ramsey scoring early and Torreira having a shot re-directed in.

Emery chose to start the trio of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette together up top, going for gold against a Napoli side know for its defending and quick counter attacks. It could have left Arsenal vulnerable defensively but the attention paid to the front-three opened up space for Arsenal’s players making late runs into the box.

That was how Ramsey scored in the 13th minute. Ozil found Lacazette in space down the wing. On attacking the box, Lacazette passed to Ainsley Maitland-Niles in the box, who spun around and found an open Ramsey. Ramsey collected the pass and chipped past Alex Meret to put Arsenal ahead.

Torreira, the little bulldog in central midfield, then forced a turnover in the 25th minute, chased it down and bore down on goal. Torreira then switched the ball to his weaker left foot and fired a strike on goal. To Kalidou Koulibaly’s dismay, the ball deflected off his leg and in for another goal to Arsenal.

Napoli came out in the second half with more energy and intensity, but they couldn’t find the way past Arsenal’s suddenly resolute defense, led by Laurent Koscielny and Sokratis. Ramsey nearly had another chance to score, with a cracking strike tipped over the bar by Meret.

At the end, Arsenal held on to secure a massive clean sheet ahead of next Thursday’s return leg in Napoli.

Premier League preview: Everton v. Arsenal

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  • Arsenal is the last PL team without a road clean sheet
  • Alexandre Lacazette has 27 goals, but just 7 on the road
  • Everton has lost four straight PL matches against Arsenal

Unbeaten over the last six matches, Arsenal looks to push up the table in a crowded race for the Champions League positions as they visit Everton, live Sunday on NBCSN at 9:05 a.m. ET or live online at NBCSports.com.

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The Gunners can jump their North London rivals Tottenham in the table with a win, gaining the advantage over the tight Champions League battle in the process. Currently, four teams sit within three points of each other, battling for positions three and four in the Premier League table. At the moment, Arsenal rests in fourth, a point back of Tottenham and level with Chelsea on points.

Arsenal boss Unai Emery will be having selection headaches, with the Gunners’ squad depleted by injuries. Granit Xhaka and Laurent Koscielny are both questionable after missing the win over Newcastle United last time out, while Aaron Ramsey came out of that match with groin trouble but should be ready to go. Lucas Torreira is suspended for the third and final time for his red card against Tottenham, and Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, and Danny Welbeck are all out long-term.

Everton, meanwhile, is pushing for a top-half finish and sits just on the precipice at the moment, looking for its third straight victory. The Toffees suffered through much of the winter, but wins over Chelsea and West Ham have Everton on the club’s first league winning streak since early October. They are without Yerry Mina through injury, but otherwise Marco Silva has a full-strength squad.

What they’re saying

Everton boss Marco Silva on playing Arsenal: “On Sunday, we are playing another top team. I know how the atmosphere will be in our stadium again and how the fans can be a key for us. Together, our fans and players, can help us to get a good result. We will play with the same mentality we had in second half against Chelsea and in the last match against West Ham.”

Arsenal manager Unai Emery on strikers Lacazette and Aubameyang: “We need a lot of good passes, good crosses, to give them the best option to score in the box. We can be proud that both are with us. Sometimes you need to play both, with two strikers, and sometimes you can play with one player wide, and sometimes you can play with another on the bench.”

Prediction

Arsenal has had Everton’s number of late, but that won’t matter as two in-form teams meet at Goodison Park. Everton just took down Chelsea, and they should be equipped well to keep that up. Arsenal hasn’t kept a single away clean sheet this season, and the two teams will draw 2-2 to keep the Gunners in the thick of the Champions League race, unable to fully pull away.

Watch Live: Arsenal v. Newcastle

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Arsenal host Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), with the Gunners able to move up to third place in the Premier League table.

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Unai Emery‘s men are in a very strong position in terms of their remaining schedule, and they will be aiming for a tenth-straight home win in the Premier League. As for Newcastle, they have been in good form with just one defeat from six and Rafael Benitez’s men are now aiming for a top 10 finish.

In team news Arsenal have Aaron Ramsey as skipper, while Matteo Guendouzi starts with him in midfield with Granit Xhaka out. Mesut Ozil and Alex Iwobi start in support of Alexandre Lacazette with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Shkodran Mustafi comes in for Laurent Koscielny.

Newcastle make one change from the team which drew at Bournemouth before the international break, as Jamel Lascelles comes in for Federico Fernandez as the Magpies skipper returns from injury.


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