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Guardiola praises Liverpool; injury update

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With the Premier League games coming thick and fast as midweek action now takes center stage, Premier League managers have been giving us injury updates on Monday and Pep Guardiola has praised Liverpool.

Pep Guardiola has doffed his cap to Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool once again, as the Reds have now moved 16 points clear of second-place Man City and have a game in hand on the reigning Premier League champions.

“We can’t deny Liverpool are extraordinary,” Guardiola said. “But everyday I live thinking about what we can do better. Some games are good, we concede few. We have scored more than Liverpool. I don’t have stats here but we concede more chances and drop points.”

In short from Pep: Damn, we should have signed more, and better, defenders this summer. Oh, and the injury to Aymeric Laporte was unlucky.

Guardiola has confirmed that Laporte is close to a return to fitness after the silky French center back missed the last four months with a knee injury. He also confirmed that both John Stones and Benjamin Mendy are doubtful for the trip to Sheffield United on Wednesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com).

That starts our quick round up of injury news around the Premier League ahead of the midweek games…

  • Chelsea boss Frank Lampard said that Reece James has avoided a serious knee injury after coming off against Newcastle. He could play against Arsenal (Watch live, 3:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) and Marcos Alonso is also back in the squad. 
  • Mikel Arteta said that Sokratis will not play at Chelsea due to illness, while Sead Kolasinac and Reiss Nelson will both be out until early February.
  • Carlo Ancelotti confirmed that star Brazilian attacker Richarlison will miss their clash against Newcastle United on Tuesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com) as he continues to recover from a knee injury. 
  • Newcastle’s injury woes continue as both Jetro Willems and Paul Dummett have been ruled out for the rest of the season. Willems has ruptured his ACL after falling awkwardly in the 1-0 win against Chelsea. The Magpies will have to do some business in January to patch up their squad.
  • Southampton look set to be without Jan Bednarek for their trip to Crystal Palace on Tuesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com). The Polish center back, who has started every single PL game this season, has an Achilles injury. Palace welcome back Max Meyer as he’s recovered from an ankle injury caused by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang‘s lunging tackle.
  • Bournemouth could have Lloyd Kelly back after his lengthy injury, as the Cherries take on South Coast rivals Brighton in a massive game at the bottom of the table.

Players say Arteta lit Arsenal squad up at halftime of Leeds win

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Arsenal should have been down 2- or 3-0 to Leeds United at halftime of their FA Cup match. Mikel Arteta was displeased.

“The manager shouted a lot,” Alexandre Lacazette said after the eventual 1-0 Arsenal win. “He was not happy because we knew they’d play like this and we didn’t respect what he had said.”

[ RECAP: Arsenal survives against Leeds ]

It worked. After being completely dominated through the first 45 minutes of the match against the Championship leaders, Arsenal came back out refreshed and revitalized, eventually winning through Reiss Nelson‘s game-winner in the 55th minute.

“As a coach you always need to have the aggressive side and the side where you give love as well,” Nelson said after the match. “He just said that we weren’t playing the way we should be playing. Mikel is a manager who wants to play with a purpose. He said we needed to be more aggressive and we did that in the second half. We showed more fight and character. We went out and did what we were supposed to do.”

Nelson said Arsenal wasn’t prepared for the high Leeds press that forced the Gunners into a number of bad mistakes. The visitors at the Emirates held 63% possession in the first half and ripped off 15 shots to Arsenal’s three. Granit Xhaka committed a number of first-half fouls and David Luiz was guilty of a bad turnover in the defensive third, among many other mistakes. Yet it was 0-0 at the break, and Arsenal regrouped.

“They [Leeds] played well in the first half,” Nelson said, “but of course Leeds are a great team and they pressed us. We didn’t expect it. In the second half we played with a real purpose. The team came out ready to go and showed we could create a lot of chances.”

Arteta may be partially to blame for the team not being totally prepared to face Marcelo Bielsa’s side, but they survived and advanced, likely also thanks to the Spaniard’s leadership qualities, displayed at the break.

FA Cup: Arsenal survive Leeds scare thanks to Nelson goal

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Arsenal are through to the fourth round of the FA Cup, barely, after surviving a noble effort from EFL Championship leaders Leeds United at the Emirates Stadium on Monday.

[ MORE: Full results from FA Cup 4th round draw ]

For 45 minutes, the Gunners were the second-best side, by some distance. The performance was so dire that defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos reportedly gestured to the crowd to calm down and ease off their criticisms moments before halftime. Manager Mikel Arteta “shouted a lot” at halftime, according to forward Alexandre Lacazette, and everything changed in the second half.

20-year-old Reiss Nelson scored the game’s only goal in the 55th minute. It came in somewhat fortunate circumstance as Nelson got on the end of a touch by Nicolas Pepe, and goalkeeper Illan Meslier couldn’t keep hold of the ball after making the initial save.

[ MORE: Tottenham end racism investigation due to lack of evidence ]

Leeds out-shot Arsenal by a margin of 14-3 in the first, before the Gunners roared to life in the final 45 minutes and dominated the second period by an 11-3 tally.

Following the fourth-round draw earlier on Monday, Arsenal will be away to fellow Premier League side Bournemouth in the fourth round on the weekend beginning Jan 24.

Chelsea stun Arsenal with late comeback

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Chelsea beat Arsenal 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday as the Blues fought back from an early deficit and scored twice late on to seal a dramatic victory against their London rivals.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]  

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put Arsenal ahead early on but the Gunners couldn’t build on that goal as Frank Lampard changed Chelsea’s formation and subbed on Jorginho after 30 minutes. That worked a treat as Jorginho equalized and then Tammy Abraham popped up with the winner late on.

With their first comeback victory of the season Chelsea remain in fourth place on 35 points, while Arsenal stay in 12th on 24 points after suffering their fourth home defeat in a row, which is the first time that has happened since 1959.


3 things we learned

1. Lampard’s brave switch pays off: Lampard knew the 3-4-3 wasn’t working and he was brave enough to admit it. He hooked off Emerson and brought on Jorginho with only 30 minutes gone and Chelsea wrestled back control of the game. Lampard may not persist with 3-4-3 for much longer unless he can buy a quality left wing-back in January. This was a big call from the young manager and it swung the game in Chelsea’s favor.

2. Arsenal fade badly after strong start: The Gunners were dominant early on and should have been at least 2-0 up, but they couldn’t build on it. Mikel Arteta was unlucky with injuries as Chambers was forced off in the first half and Mustafi came on and struggled. Arsenal’s players were applauded off for their effort but that will be of little solace as their hopes of a top four finish look all but over after Bernd Leno‘s mistake and Mustafi’s poor positioning cost them dear.

3. Jorginho has huge, controversial impact: He came on in the first half and helped the Blues wrestle back control of the game but he could have been sent off in the second half. Jorginho picked up a yellow for a foul on Lacazette and should have had another. He then won a free kick cleverly and from that Leno’s mistake allowed him to equalize. Given the form of Kovacic and Kante, Jorginho has been the odd man out after a fine start to the season. Chelsea need the Italian midfielder back pulling the strings.

Man of the Match: N’Golo Kante – Helped Chelsea wrestle back control of the game and, as always, was everywhere. The Blues surged back and won the midfield battle and Kante had to be at his best to drive them on.


Arsenal came flying out of the traps and got their reward as they took the lead within the first 15 minutes.

A corner from the left was flicked on by Calum Chambers and Aubameyang reacted first to send home a diving header and make it 1-0.

It was all Arsenal early on as Ainsley Maitland-Niles played in Reiss Nelson who crossed into the box and Aubameyang set up Alexandre Lacazette but he couldn’t control the ball as N’Golo Kante arrived to clear.

Chambers was forced off with a knee injury as Skhodran Mustafi replaced him, as Chelsea improved the longer the first half went on and Lampard made an early tactical change as they switched from 3-4-3 to 4-3-3 with Emerson hooked off as Jorginho replaced him.

Matteo Guendouzi then appeared to pull Tammy Abraham down in the box but nothing was given and VAR wasn’t used to check the incident. Arsenal had a half chance just before the break but Aubameyang fired it into the side-netting as the Gunners were in control against their London rivals.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Kante had a low shot which flew wide at the start of the second half as Chelsea took the game to Arsenal in the second half.

A lengthy delay ensued after Antonio Rudiger and Mustafi clashed heads in the penalty box and the final stage of the games saw the Blues pin the Gunners back in pursuit of an equalizer.

David Luiz then blocked superbly as Abraham closed in on goal as Arsenal struggled to get out of their own half.

Abraham then sent a header straight at Bernd Leno as Chelsea wasted a good chance to equalize. Substitute Joe Willock then fired just wide as a glorious chance for Arsenal to wrap up the win came and went.

Chelsea then launched an incredible comeback as a free kick was missed by Leno and Jorginho tapped home to make it 1-1, and moments later it was 2-1 to the Blues.

Willian raced clear on the break and fed Abraham who turned and finished through Leno’s legs to make it 2-1 to the Blues as the away fans and Lampard went wild.

Lucas Torreira volleyed wide late on as Arsenal had a half chance to equalize but Chelsea held on to secure a big away win.

Bournemouth holds Arsenal on rain-drenched Boxing Day

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Arsenal was the more dangerous team on the day, but couldn’t find a second goal in a rain-drenched 1-1 with Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Boxing Day.

Dan Gosling scored for the second-straight game as the Cherries again gained a result against a traditional London power.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang poked home an equalizer, but Mikel Arteta only saw a single point from his Arsenal managerial debut.

Bournemouth now sits 16th with 20 points, four behind 11th place Arsenal.


Three things we learned

1. Cherries get another big point: Bournemouth’s season has been disappointing, but Thursday saw another surprise from Eddie Howe‘s men. They were quite good versus Arsenal after beating Chelsea at the weekend, whereas the Cherries used to control the little guys and fail against the traditional powers.

Gosling is having a week, now with goals in a 1-0 win over Chelsea and 1-1 draw versus Arsenal.

2. Ozil suspect, and no Pepe, no party? Maybe Arsenal is trying to drive some sort of value into their German playmaker, but Mesut Ozil drew another start and was far from his best. He had played well in consecutive starts against bottom dwellers Saints and Norwich, but has struggled to impact the game since. Fair play on four key passes, but Ozil didn’t threaten the goal himself and failed in his only dribble attempt. He was replaced by Joe Willock in the 75th minute.

This leads us to another player he helped keep on the bench (until the 82nd minute). I can only imagine that one day we’ll learn that Nicolas Pepe hides all the toilet paper at the training ground and puts toothpaste in the salad dressing or something. Mikel Arteta has now joined Freddie Ljungberg and Unai Emery in keeping the dynamic playmaker out of the Starting XI.

3. Xhaka rewards faith of new boss: Mikel Arteta used his first pre-match presser as Arsenal boss to speak of his admiration for Granit Xhaka. Arteta said he wanted the midfielder at Man City, and the Swiss big man was strong in the center of the park. Xhaka completed 11 of 12 long balls and passed at 93 percent, paired with Lucas Torreira at the back of the midfield.

Man of the Match: Jack Stacey had a nice match at right back in the rain, just edging Xhaka.


There is no question Arsenal was the better side over the first half-hour, but the Gunners defense let them down again.

Stacey wound up deep in the Arsenal box and cut back into a sea of players, Gosling’s foot the first to the ball.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Aubameyang found the equalizer in the 64th minute, starting and finishing a play after Reiss Nelson‘s shot was deflected onto his path.

The rains grew heavier and Lacazette was deprived a goal from a nice David Luiz set-up.

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