Alexandre Lacazette

Arsenal beats Wolves to strengthen European hopes

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Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette scored as Arsenal closed ground on the top five with a gritty and complete 2-0 win over Wolves at the Molineux on Saturday.

WOLVES – ARSENAL FULL MATCH REPLAY

Mikel Arteta’s project looks to be going well as Arsenal moves seventh with 49 points, three back of Wolves and four clear of rivals Spurs, who have a match-in-hand.

Wolves saw a four-match clean sheet run spoiled by Saka’s first-half goal. The sixth-place Wolves lose ground in the battle for a top four place and now sit two points behind Chelsea, who plays later Saturday. They are three back of Manchester United and six behind Leicester City.


Three things we learned

1. Arsenal begins gauntlet with promise: The Gunners need wins, not draws, if they want to creep up the table and into the European places by season’s end. Saturday was the first of three chances to take three points from a team it’s chasing, with a visit from Leicester City coming Tuesday before July 12’s North London Derby at Spurs. A team they won’t catch, Liverpool, follows so… get those points now and get your form sorted.

2. Saka celebrates new deal in style: Arsenal’s 18-year-old wonder worker on the left side came from the right to score his first Premier League goal. Kieran Tierney’s deflected cross gave Saka a chance to show his technique, and that left-footed side volley oozed the good stuff. Saka now has four goals and 10 assists in all competitions, and does not turn 19 until Sept. 5.

3. Wolves falter: Raul Jimenez was fine, which is substandard from his usual prowess, while Adama Traore didn’t do much after a lively start up top. Injections of Diogo Jota and Pedro Neto yielded little as you’d call this a certified dud. When Conor Coady is getting cooked, you know something’s not right.

Man of the Match

The best player on the pitch for either team might have been Ruben Neves. Wolves’ Portuguese midfielder had a goal-mouth clearance and sprayed long balls around the field as if he was four yards, not 40 away from his target.


Wolves – Arsenal recap

The first half did not live up to the billing of two offense-first teams, although Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah came close after the half-hour mark.

The best chance at the other saw a hesitant Raul Jimenez trouble Wolves’ promising rush into the 18.

Adama Traore drew a dangerous free kick off Sead Kolasinac that led to nothing as the match neared halftime.

It was Saka who stroked Arsenal in front in the 43rd minute, celebrating his new contract with a terrific left-footed side volley after Kieran Tierney’s cross was deflected into his path.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Traore came close for Wolves after the hour mark but Arsenal was staunch in its final third.

Arsenal got its second when Lacazette roasted Conor Coady with a slick first touch of Joe Willock’s pass as the Gunners needed a half-dozen moves to produce a goal from a David Luiz-won header at midfield.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang nearly had Willock on the board with a third Arsenal goal after Lacazette keyed a move in the final third, but Ruben Neves cleared the shot off the line.

Lacazette’s desire epitomizes resilient Arsenal

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Arsenal are back in the hunt for UEFA Champions League qualification as the Gunners ground out a 1-0 win against West Ham on Saturday.

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Mikel Arteta’s men have lost just once in 10 Premier League games since he took charge and although they crashed out of the Europa League last week, they are through to the quarterfinals of the FA Cup and have a newfound grit, determination and a little bit more savvy about their play.

Teenagers are keeping established stars out of the team and there’s a new hunger about their play.

They’ve improved defensively and the game-winner on Saturday, Alexandre Lacazette, has scored three times in his last four games despite losing his starting spot.

Youngster Eddie Nketiah has started up top in recent weeks but the Frenchman is hungry to fight for his place and that attitude sums up this Arsenal squad right now.

“I’m happy to score for the team. We worked hard. It was a difficult game. I’m happy. They deserved more because of the chances they created. This is football, sometimes you don’t get what you deserve. It is my job to give the manager a big headache. I’m struggling to make the first team but I’m happy to score again today. I know that now I have to play well again the next game. Everyone wants to give their best and it’s normal that whenever we do that we will perform as a team,” Lacazette told the media afterwards.

Arsenal are five points off fourth place and have a game in hand, albeit at Man City on Wednesday, and with fifth place potentially becoming a Champions League spot this season it is a really interesting point in their campaign.

Despite their obvious defensive flaws Arsenal are keeping clean sheets and although West Ham coughed up plenty of chances on Saturday, Bernd Leno again made plenty of fine stops, while Dani Ceballos is running the show in midfield.

This Arsenal team have been written off by everyone this season and are somehow still in the hunt for the UCL. That makes me think there’s something more about them under Arteta than meets the eye. The Gunners are now a banged up and resilient bunch playing like underdogs instead of the top dogs, and how often have we able to say that over the last decade?

Despite their tough remaining schedule, beware of the Gunners down the stretcH.

Report: Arsenal to let Lacazette leave for a Champions League club

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Arsenal and Alexandre Lacazette have an agreement in place for the 28-year-old forward to leave north London if the club fails to qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League, according to reports out of the UK.

[ MORE: Griezmann gives Barcelona first leg draw with Napoli (video) ]

With only two years remaining on his current contract, this summer is an ideal time for all parties to part ways in the event that Arsenal finds itself out of Europe’s premier competition for a fourth straight season.

Lacazette will turn 29 not long before the summer transfer window opens, representing the Gunners’ last opportunity to re-sell a player who previously cost them close $70 million in the summer of 2017. As for Lacazette himself, he believes that a player of his caliber should be in the Champions League every season and he is apparently more than happy to leave Arsenal to fulfill his destiny.

[ MORE: Bayern Munich puts Chelsea in three-goal hole ]

Despite being named Arsenal’s Player of the Season (13 goals in the Premier League, 19 in all competitions) less than a year ago, Lacazette has endured a thoroughly disappointing 2019-20 campaign and was recently dropped by manager Mikel Arteta, who preferred 20-year-old academy product Eddie Nketiah over the former club-record signing.

Lacazette has scored just six PL goals this season and has just one in his last nine league outings.

Lacazette gives Arsenal first leg in Greece

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Alexandre Lacazette scored the lone goal as Arsenal beat hosts Olympiacos 1-0 in the first leg of a Europa League Round of 32 tie on Thursday.

The second leg is Feb. 27 at the Emirates Stadium, four days after the Gunners host Carlo Ancelotti and Everton in Premier League play.

Lacazette now has eight goals in 24 appearances for Arsenal this season.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Lacazette missed a big early chance from close range, Gabriel Martinelli deprived of a near-certain assist.

Fortunately for Lacazette, he got a second bite at the apple and smashed it home with a vengeance. Bukayo Saka continued his impressive debut season by assisting the goal.

It was an even match, as Olympiacos continued its habit of steady defense but was unable to produce any attack. The Greeks weren’t credited with the creation of any big chances.

Bernd Leno made three saves and was very good in distribution on the day, with Saka, David Luiz, Shkrodan Mustafi, and Sokratis Papastathopoulus continuing steady defense under Mikel Arteta.

Lacazette, Ozil, Bellerin praises Arteta as Arsenal ‘more together now’

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Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette are praising new Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, just as comments from former boss Unai Emery mention disgruntled stars.

There’s no evidence that the two players had heard Emery blast “some stars” for a lack of effort during his tenure. If you want to connect some dots, though, it’s not a hard path for your pen.

“We are more together now,” Lacazette said from winter training camp in Dubai. “The way we think as well on the pitch and outside the pitch. Tactically we are better and we’re going to see a big improvement in the next few weeks.”

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Ozil echoed his sentiments, saying, “As a team, we are much happier and everyone wants to give everything for this club.”

Hector Bellerin is one of the leaders left over despite so many changes in North London, as Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal departed in the summer.

Bellerin is not viewed by many (if any) as a malcontent, and says things are just better now.

“Mikel has always been very tactical in his work and in his whole life, he’s very professional with very clear ideas,” he said via Arsenal.com. “It’s very early doors in time. [Mikel] has a new philosophy and the way he has implemented it in the last few games that we’ve played, there’s been a big change.”

Arsenal hosts Newcastle in its first match back from break.