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Nacho Monreal in talks to renew Arsenal contract

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Nacho Monreal‘s contract at Arsenal is up this summer, and while the 32-year-old has yet to officially state he’s staying on beyond that, he has confirmed that talks are ongoing.

“We are in contact in any moment so don’t worry about that,” Monreal told the Evening Standard ahead of Arsenal’s match on Saturday at Newcastle. “I am happy here. That is the most important thing.”

Monreal is one of the longest tenured Gunners on the squad, having arrived in early 2013 from Spanish club Malaga. He has made 215 appearances for Arsenal across all competitions, scoring 10 goals and assisting 13.

“My idea is to play in football until my body says ‘Nacho, so sorry but that’s the end’. But I think it is far [away]. I hope so. You never know because your body, sometimes you start with some problems, some injuries and you can’t continue giving 100 per cent. But at the moment I feel good so I am not thinking of my retirement.”

Arsenal has had a long-standing policy against signing players over 30 to a contract extension, but recently they have relaxed that guideline. For example, the Gunners signed 33-year-old captain Laurent Koscielny to a 2-1/2 year contract extension in January. The club also signed two new defenders this summer over 30 years old in Stephen Lichtsteiner and Sokratis.

What did we learn from PL Saturday, Week 3?

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The third Saturday of the 2018-19 Premier League season produced six intriguing games as we had plenty of red cards, controversy and late drama.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Manchester City were held, Liverpool marched on and Arsenal is off and running under Unai Emery, while there was late drama at Southampton and Bournemouth. With a sprinkling of red cards to keep things interesting.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

Below is a look at what we learned from the action on Saturday across England.


VAR needed next season
It’s easy to say “these things even themselves out over the course of a season” but if Manchester City end up not winning the Premier League title by a point (as crazy as that seems) then they’ll look back at Willy Boly‘s opener for Wolves on Saturday as being crucial. Boly’s goal clearly came straight off his hand and into the net but the officials on the pitch were unsighted and awarded the goal. The reigning champions dropped their first points of the season at Molineux and they couldn’t really complain as the newly-promoted side put in a mature, energetic display as they picked the right moments to press City and carved out several opportunities to win the game. But the VAR argument is one that will not go away anytime soon as Serie A, the Bundesliga and MLS have adopted video assistant referees and the World Cup proved it could work smoothly and quickly. PL clubs voted last season to test the system more before it is implemented but right now it seems like there’s no way that VAR isn’t introduced for the 2019-20 campaign. It simply has to be to correct clear and obvious mistakes like this one.


Liverpool perfect, and scary


Three wins from three. Top of the league. Zero goals conceded. It wasn’t a vintage display against Brighton but Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool have an aura about them building. All great teams have it. Just like the Manchester United teams under Sir Alex Ferguson in the late 1990s, the Arsene Wenger Arsenal teams of the mid 1990s and the Chelsea sides in Jose Mourinho’s first spell, teams now turn up at Anfield trying to keep the score down and expecting to lose. Brighton did just that and were pretty solid for the first half apart from one error as they tried to play a short free kick in front of their own back four and were ruthlessly punished. Yves Bissouma was pounced on and Mohamed Salah stroked home 29th goal in his 29th Anfield appearance for Liverpool. It really is as easy as that for Liverpool right now as they’re looking more assured defensively with Virgil Van Dijk and Alisson standing tall, while the front three allow them to hit teams on the counter whenever they do decide to venture forward out of their defensive shell. Yes, Liverpool have only played West Ham, Crystal Palace and Brighton so far, but those are the kind of teams they slipped up against last season. An aura of invincibility is surrounding the Reds early in the season after a summer of heavy spending which strengthened their weaknesses significantly.


Arsenal remain unbalanced


Don’t let the scoreline deceive you. Arsenal’s 3-1 home win against West Ham was far from straightforward. The Gunners were, once again, their own worst enemies as they were caught on the counter on numerous occasions when they gave the ball away high up the pitch. Full backs Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin were given no real cover by the midfielders in front of them and the lack of pace of center back duo Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis just isn’t conducive to playing the high-line that Unai Emery wants. Arsenal’s new manager got his first win on the board in the Premier League after the defeats to Chelsea and Manchester City to open up his first season in England but admitted they “need the balance” and “in the first half we suffered more than we want.” Emery is sticking to his philosophy of slow build-up play out wide and then being more direct which is all well and good, but when it breaks down Arsenal look so vulnerable. Felipe Anderson, Michail Antonio and Marko Arnautovic had a field day in the first half with the space afforded to them but couldn’t take advantage of it. The win will give Arsenal’s players confidence but there’s no denying that when the Gunners play against better teams, they could concede two or three goals each game. Emery is right to stick to his coaching philosophy but plenty of patient is needed.


Red cards galore as tempers flare


There were four red cards among the four 10 a.m. ET games and all four seemed pretty much spot on. Richarlison has a bit of a temper and Adam Smith suckered him in as they came together, then Everton’s Brazilian star moved his head closer as the red mist descended. Was it soft? Yes. Could he have any complaints? Not really. Smith himself then saw red in the same game and he could have no complaints either as Theo Walcott raced towards goal and he clearly pulled him back.

As for the other red cards, Jonathan Hogg was in a very similar situation as Huddersfield’s midfield came together with Cardiff’s Harry Arter but he was slightly more aggressive and was sent off. While Southampton’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was shown two yellows and he can have no complaints as he surged into the box, then looked for the penalty kick as he went down easily and was shown a second yellow for simulation. Yes, we need VAR for clear and obvious mistakes to be cleaned up, but the referees did their jobs well on Saturday with all four red cards dealt with correctly.


Southampton, West Ham may not be in trouble
It’s still early in the season, so let’s not get too carried away about which teams are hurtling towards relegation. But the signs aren’t good for either West Ham or Southampton on paper. But if you dig a little deeper, both teams should have got more than they did during Week 3. The Hammers threatened on the break at Arsenal but Manuel Pellegrini‘s men look so slack defensively as they’ve conceded nine goals in their first three games, losing all three. That said, they have faced Liverpool and Arsenal in two of their opening encounters. Southampton can’t say the same as Mark Hughes‘ men blew a lead against Leicester and were the masters of their own downfall as Hojbjerg was stupidly sent off and they let in two soft goals to lose at home. Yet Saints went close through Danny Ings and Nathan Redmond looked particularly bright as they failed to make the most of their chances. Southampton have now lost against Everton and Leicester and drawn with Burnley and that shows us where they’re at. A team who will be battling to be out of relegation trouble all season long, just like they did last season as they survived by the skin of their teeth. The Hammers look to at least have the attacking talents to turn things around when their fixtures get a little easier, but both teams lack ruthlessness at both ends of the pitch which is a worrying trend. But it’s early in the season and both will be hungry to turn some promising displays into points. Fast.

Arsenal edge past lively West Ham

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  • Arnautovic gave West Ham lead
  • Monreal, Diop own goal, Welbeck seal win
  • First Arsenal win for Unai Emery
  • Three-straight defeats for West Ham

Arsenal beat a spirited West Ham side 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, with Unai Emery getting his first win, and points, as a Premier League manager.

The Hammers took the lead through Marko Arnautovic and were dangerous throughout on the break, but Arsenal equalized through Nacho Monreal and then a Issa Diop goal put them ahead. Danny Welbeck scored late on to seal the win as Arsenal have three points from their opening three games.

Manuel Pellegrini and West Ham have now lost all three of his opening games as Hammers boss, but don’t let the scoreline deceive you in this game.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The Gunners thought they had taken the lead early on as Aaron Rasmey headed home after Henrikh Mkhitaryan‘s effort was parried by Lukasz Fabianski, but the Welshman was in an offside position.

At the other end Arnautovic smashed a shot into the side-netting as West Ham broke free via Robert Snodgrass‘ ball. Arnautovic almost got on the end of another ball soon after as the visitors launched plenty of dangers counters.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Arnautovic made no mistake soon after as he linked up well with Felipe Anderson and stroked home the opener to send the away fans wild at the Emirates Stadium. 1-0 to the Hammers.

West Ham’s lead was short-lived with Hector Bellerin racing down the right and his cross to the back post found Monreal who slammed home to make it 1-1. Before the break the Hammers continued to look dangerous on the break with Anderson going close, while at the other end Aubameyang fired over.

The Hammers should have regained the lead just before half time as Snodgrass raced onto a through ball but Petr Cech saved well down low.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

After the break Arnautovic went close again but West Ham’s main man injured himself in the process of having a shot and had to leave the pitch.

Arsenal struggled to get going in the second half but they took the lead as Lacazette’s cross hit Diop and deflected in to make it 2-1. Unfortunate for the Hammers.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The Gunners almost grabbed another soon after but Diop blocked Aubameyang’s shot this time and then Fabianski saved well. Ramsey was then denied by Fabianski but at the other end Anderson set up Lucas Perez but his shot across goal just missed the onrushing Andriy Yarmolenko.

Anderson then drilled a shot across goal which was inches away from connecting with his teammate as Arsenal then sealed the win.

Bellerin crossed for substitute Welbeck who turned under no pressure and slotted home to make it 3-1.

Alonso gets Chelsea past Arsenal in thriller

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  • Pedro, Morata put hosts up 2-0
  • Mkhitaryan, Iwobi level by half
  • Winner comes from Alson

Marcos Alonso buried Eden Hazard‘s 81st minute pass to lead Chelsea past Arsenal 3-2 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Alvaro Morata and Pedro helped the Blues build a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes, but Unai Emery’s Gunners recovered to make it 2-2 at halftime.

Arsenal next hosts West Ham United, while Chelsea is off to Newcastle United.

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The hosts were up thanks to a left-sided barnstorming, with Willian starting the play with a with a lay-off inside his own half. The next move saw Marcos Alonso racing toward the edge of the 18 to pass across for Pedro to finish with calm.

Ross Barkley came close to doubling the advantage in the 13th minute.

It should’ve been level when Matteo Guendouzi fired Hector Bellerin through the right of the Chelsea back line, but the offside and uncalled Spaniard’s pull back was aired over the goal by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Moments later, it was 2-0 Chelsea through Morata. The Spanish striker ran from midfield and held off a Shkrodan Mustafi challenge before cutting to fire past Cech.

Arsenal blew a second well-worked chance over the frame, this time with Henrikh Mkhitaryan sending a point-blank offering into the stands. Woof.

Mkhitaryan redeemed himself with a powerful shot from outside the box. The Armenian captain was in good position after Alex Iwobi found him with Nacho Monreal‘s inspired interception.

That was not the end of the first half scoring.

It was close to a mirror image of an earlier missed chance by Aubameyang, as Iwobi ran into the 18 to belt  a shot home for 2-2.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The chances did not dry up as the second half began in London, and a N'Golo Kante shot was blocked to the cries of handball from Chelsea’s players.

Jorginho‘s deflected 64th minute rip was collected by Cech after Chelsea introduced Eden Hazard off the bench.

Momentum swung Arsenal’s way as the match reached is final quarter-hour, as Kepa Arrizabalaga made a save and took a beating in the 77th minute.

Kante popped a header over the goal in the 79th minute after running in front of Sokratis.

Scoring defender extraordinaire Alonso put Chelsea back on top in the 81st, slapping Eden Hazard’s hopeful pullback beyond Cech.

VIDEO: All four goals from 2-2 half between Chelsea, Arsenal

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The schedule makers didn’t do Unai Emery any favors, and his players began Matchday 2 making life at Arsenal an on-field nightmare for their new boss

The Gunners lost 2-0 against Manchester City on opening weekend, and went down 2-0 at Chelsea a week later.

Exhale, though, Arsenal fan: It’s now 2-2 at Stamford Bridge after 45 minutes on Saturday.

[ MORE: Spurs down Fulham ]

Miserable defending hit Arsenal twice in the first 20 minutes at Stamford Bridge, as Chelsea found the back of the net through Pedro and then Alvaro Morata.

Pedro’s goal came on a lightning counter attack, with the ball beginning with Willian in the Chelsea half and finding the back of the net after a Marcos Alonso marauding run and cross.

The Gunners were carved up a second time through ice-cold striker Morata a dozen minutes later.

The play came just after a big missed chance from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and the fine margins cut like paper when Morata won a 1v1 battle with Shkrodan Mustafi, cut once, and slotted past Petr Cech.

Arsenal struck when Henrik Mkhitaryan redeemed himself for a bad miss moments earlier with a powerful shot from outside the box.

The Armenian captain was in good position after Alex Iwobi found him with Nacho Monreal‘s inspired interception.

That was not the end of the first half scoring.

It was close to a mirror image of an earlier missed chance by Aubameyang, as Iwobi ran into the 18 to belt  a shot home for 2-2.