Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Kroenke talks Arsenal transfer success despite no UCL

Leave a comment

The next time someone tells you a team cannot land players without Champions League football, point them to Arsenal’s last three summers (and creativity).

The Gunners, now in their third Europa League campaign, added Bernd Leno, Sokratis, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Alexandre Lacazette in the first two seasons outside of the UCL.

[ MORE: Klopp “couldn’t afford” Coutinho ]

And of course this year, the Gunners have added three players from UCL outfits: Nicolas Pepe (Lille), David Luiz (Chelsea), and Kieran Tierney (Celtic, has since been knocked out of the tournament).

Arsenal director Josh Kroenke is puffing out his chest a bit, even with the admission that the Gunners are accomplishing their spends by buying players in installments (which takes two willing parties, to be fair). From the BBC:

“This summer, even though we weren’t in a position of strength coming out of Baku, I think there were a few people caught off guard that Arsenal Football Club still has the aura that it does. We’re excited to keep pushing that now and into the future.”

The Gunners face the only other 2-0 in the Premier League side when they visit Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday.

Report: Arsenal working on Aubameyang extension

Getty Images
Leave a comment

According to a report by Matt Law of The Telegraph, Arsenal is “confident” of securing a new contract for in-form frontman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang that would tie him to the club long-term and monetarily incentivize the club’s craving for a Champions League return.

Aubameyang’s contract expires in the summer of 2021, and with two years remaining on his deal, the club wishes to lock him down for the future and avoid any messy transfer rumors brought on by a near-expiring contract. It’s quite frankly surprising that his name was not mentioned more this summer, as the two-year mark is typically when rumors begin to fly, especially for a player in such fine form.

The Gabon international for the Premier League Golden Boot last season with 22 goals and bagged eight more in 12 Europa League appearances as the Gunners progressed to the final. While Arsenal famously doesn’t often negotiate extensions with players over the 30-year-old mark – at least during Arsene Wenger‘s tenure – it’s clear that Aubameyang is a vitally important player to the squad, and any return to the Champions League hinges on his strike abilities.

The Telegraph report claims that Arsenal has reflected this in its offer to Aubameyang, reporting that while the striker only makes around $242,000 per week at the moment, far below Mesut Ozil‘s $425,000 per week deal, fulfilling a Champions League incentive in his proposed new deal could see Aubameyang reach the German’s wage total. This sees Aubameyang potentially realize a massive payday in his near future while also allowing Arsenal to maintain fiscal responsibility with the club missing out on Champions League paydays going on three consecutive seasons.

That jives with what Unai Emery said this past weekend, confirming that the club is working on extensions for both Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, saying those negotiations are “one issue now, that the club is working on.”

Arsenal brass has been vocal about its struggle with deploying a squad capable of reaching the Champions League while playing successive seasons in the lower tiered Europa League. Board member Josh Kroenke, son of owner Stan Kroenke, even said this summer, “It’s no secret that we have a Champions League wage bill on a Europa League budget right now. That’s a fact. And one that we’re figuring out how to face internally at the moment.”

Gunners’ new Head of Football Raul Sanllehi is reportedly the one leading negotiations, and one year into his tenure has done well to both make Arsenal a force in the transfer market and also be creative financially to keep the Gunners afloat while they search for a return to the promised land.

Classy Arsenal beat Burnley

1 Comment

Arsenal beat Burnley 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday to make it two wins from two to start the new season. It is the first time in 10 years Arsenal have won their opening two games of a Premier League season.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

The Gunners took the lead early on through Alexandre Lacazette but a stubborn Burnley wouldn’t go away and Ashley Barnes equalized in a somewhat fortuitous manner before the break.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the winner as Dani Ceballos dazzled on his full debut in the Premier League.

Up next for the Gunners is a trip to Liverpool followed by a north London derby against Tottenham. It is then we will see just how good this Gunners side really is.


3 things we learned

1. Ceballos is the real deal: The Spanish midfielder worked so hard defensively and oozed class on the ball. He is the replacement for Aaron Ramsey and was absolutely sensational. If he keeps playing like this, Arsenal may not be able to afford to buy him permanently next summer…

2. Defensive issues remain: There were a few shaky moments at the back for the Gunners. David Luiz‘s first start saw him take a few risks on the ball, while Bernd Leno flapped at a few crosses. Arsenal looked better defensively with Guendouzi in front of the defense, but they are far from being a solid outfit.

3. Burnley were Burnley: Sean Dyche‘s side didn’t have much of the ball but they created dangerous chances from set pieces and as long as they were only one-goal down, they were always a threat.

Man of the Match: Dani Ceballos – He will become a firm fans favorite at the Emirates Stadium. Silky on the ball, the Spaniard dug deep defensively and dictated the tempo of the game. A fine home PL debut for the Real Madrid loanee, who whipped in the corner for Lacazette’s goal and then won the ball back to create Aubameyang’s goal.


Arsenal were rampant early on and after Lacazette’s header was denied by Nick Pope, the French striker wriggled free from the resulting corner and made it 1-0.

Ashley Barnes flashed an effort just wide soon after as Burnley responded well to going behind with several high balls into the Arsenal box causing the Gunners defense problems.

Before the break Ceballos, who was running the show, orchestrated a fine counter attack which ended in Pope denying Matteo Guendouzi. Moments later Burnley were level as Dwight McNeil‘s deflected shot found Barnes and he bundled the ball home under pressure from Guendouzi to equalize against the run of play.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Arsenal thought they’d retaken the lead right on half time but Nacho Monreal was flagged for offside as he pulled the ball back for Reiss Nelson to smash home. VAR checked the decision and no goal was given.

Nicolas Pepe came on at half time as Arsenal cranked through in the second half, with the home side dominating the play and Pope making several saves.

Ceballos, once again, was the heart of their game-winning goal as he won the ball back in a dangerous area and Aubameyang raced towards goal before curling home at the near post.

Top PL storylines: Matchweek 2

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Premier League season is officially under way and already Manchester City is on top of the table after just one week, having taken down West Ham by a blistering 5-0 scoreline that could be even more.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ] 

With the first week under our belt, here are the top storylines as clubs look to keep the ball rolling, or in the case of teams like the Hammers, Norwich City, or Watford, turn their fortunes before falling too far behind.


Chelsea looks to build on midweek showing

  • Chelsea v. Leicester City, Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

For long stretches of the midweek Super Cup, Chelsea looked the better side against Liverpool. While the Champions League title holders eventually won the match on penalties after a 2-2 draw, the Blues look much improved from their opening week drubbing at the hands of Manchester United.

Frank Lampard still has improving to do as a manager, indicative of his slow reaction to a second half surge by Liverpool, but the Blues boss could hand Christian Pulisic his full Premier League debut after leaving the American on the bench against Manchester United. It’s not perfect, and Chelsea has a long way to go to be a truly competitive force at the top of the Premier League table, but marketable improvement at this stage in the season is always a welcome sight.


Spurs gets crack at defending champs

  • Man City v. Tottenham, Saturday, 12:30 a.m. ET on NBC

Tottenham began its new season with a 3-1 comeback win over newly promoted Aston Villa, and while it took time for the Champions League finalists to gain a foothold in the match, the final result will encourage Spurs fans as they get an early shot at Manchester City. It’s likely a little too early for Giovani Lo Celso or Ryan Sessegnon to make a full debut, but Tanguay Ndombele got off to a good start with a goal against Villa and the new-look Spurs will likely provide Man City a serious test.

City was explosive against West Ham as Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus were both spectacular, but Bernardo Silva could be brought into the side after finding the substitutes bench in the opener, as could Sergio Aguero.


Early relegation six-pointer?

  • Norwich City v. Newcastle United, Saturday, 10:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold

Many Premier League projections, including some of our own here at Pro Soccer Talk, have Norwich City and Newcastle both in various stages of the relegation picture. It’s possible that this early match could prove vital in helping shape the bottom of the table.

If so, the matchup could be an entertaining one. While these two sides combined for just one goal between them last weekend, they were both positive going forward in spells. The last four matchups between these two teams have produced a total of 24 goals, and the last time they faced off in Premier League competition, they were both eventually relegated. It may be early, but they all count the same.


Arsenal stars could return

  • Arsenal v. Burnley, Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac still have safety and security issues to sort out – a worrying prospect for players just looking to ply their trade on the pitch – but they’re back in Arsenal training and could return to the matchday squad after missing out on the opening weekend.

With the pair potentially in the fold, it will give the Gunners a boost after looking bright but wasteful in the early 1-0 win over Newcastle. Ozil could come in for Reiss Nelson while Kolasinac would replace the deputizing Nacho Monreal. David Luiz could also make his Arsenal debut with Calum Chambers possibly making way, giving Arsenal a much more complete lineup than last week. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the game’s only goal in the season opener, and he is tipped to strike many more times this season in a likely Golden Boot challenge.


Wolves looks to again trouble Manchester United

  • Wolverhampton Wanderers v. Manchester United, Monday, 3:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Manchester United looked stellar in the opening weekend against Chelsea, but they’ll take on a pesky foe in Week 2 as they look to keep the momentum going. Wolves picked up four points off Manchester United last season as they proved difficult for many top sides to deal with throughout the season.

Most importantly, the Red Devils will need to deal with Raul Jimenez who has picked up where he left off last season with four goals in Europa League play to start the campaign, although he – along with the rest of the Wolves squad – was held off the scoresheet in the Premier League opener against Leicester City. That 0-0 draw was drab as Wolves appeared tired after early European play, but the home side will feel they can hit Manchester United on the counter Monday as they did a number of times last season.

Arsenal outlasts Newcastle through Aubameyang goal

Photo by Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arsenal took all three points from Newcastle United on Sunday via a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang second half goal.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The Gunners kept Nicolas Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette, and David Luiz on the bench to start.


Three things we learned

1. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is still as a good a finisher as there is in our game, and it’s not just the acrobatic stuff. The Arsenal man used a delayed run and deft chip over Martin Dubravka to deliver his first marker in the race to claim a Golden Boot.

2. MLS fans outside of Atlanta will be nodding in agreement here: The Premier League learned that Miguel Almiron loves to hit the deck after minimal or no contact. He got a yellow card for simulation and probably should’ve gotten another late in the game, and was overall pretty poor.

3. Newcastle’s Allan Saint-Maximin will be a genuine delight for highlight reel makers. Whether he scores is another thing, but his flicks, tricks, and lightning change of direction were fun off the bench.

Man of the Match: Maitland-Niles. He was good enough, but deserves credit for the takeaway and assist alone.


[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

There were chances, as Jonjo Shelvey had a smash deflected off the goal post and Joelinton flew an offering over the goal.

For Arsenal, Aubameyang hit a laser… directly to Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.

Fullback on fullback crime provided the opener, as Ainsley Maitland-Niles pickpocketed Jetro Willems and zipped down the right before sending a cross over Jamaal Lascelles and onto the path of Aubameyang.

One-on-one with Dubravka, there really was only going to be one outcome. 1-0.