Mesut Ozil

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.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

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.

Atletico Madrid eyeing Lacazette, reportedly could swap Lemar

Arsenal transfer rumors
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Atletico Madrid is looking to buttress its bid to win La Liga with an Arsenal forward, according to multiple reports

Alexandre Lacazette is the man in question, and he had been linked with Atleti when he signed with the Gunners in 2017.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Lacazette, 28, has a contract at Arsenal through the 2021/22 season and has scored 42 goals with 20 assists in 107 appearances. Thirty-two of those goals have come in the Premier League to go with 17 assists.

Italian reporter Tancredi Palmeri says Atleti has made contact with Arsenal, while Marca says the Gunners will be tempted by a longtime rumored target of their own. The same report says that Lacazette is the club’s “Plan B” for Edinson Cavani.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer deals ]

That’s Thomas Lemar, who landed in Madrid after a celebrated career at Monaco. Now 24, the World Cup-winning left wing has yet to record a goal or an assist in 21 matches this season.

Does it make sense? That depends on Mikel Arteta‘s plans for the strike force, which is loaded with playmakers like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mesut Ozil, Nicolas Pepe, and a bevy of promising youngsters.

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.

FOLLOW LIVE: Arsenal v. Leeds United in FA Cup

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The final match of the FA Cup third round is ready to get under way.

With all the other 31 games having been taken care of over the weekend, the Gunners take center stage to see if they can advance through to the fourth round past Championship leaders Leeds United, with kickoff set for 3:00 p.m. ET.

[ LIVE: Follow all the FA Cup scores here ]

Mesut Ozil has retained his place in the Arsenal starting lineup, with Rob Holding returning from injury for the first time in nearly two months. Emiliano Martinez takes over in goal for Premier League starter Bernd Leno.

Arsenal’s competition will be stiff. Leeds United leads the Championship table and has pressed hard for promotion over the last few seasons with Marcelo Bielsa at the helm. They are not in good form, however, having won just once over their last five games, a wild 5-4 affair against Birmingham City on December 29.

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.