Alexandre Lacazette

Arsenal uses thrilling comeback to win Europa League group

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Nothing Arsenal-related is allowed to be easy, it seems.

The Gunners used a goal and an assist from Bukayo Saka to come back from a two-goal deficit and draw Standard Liege 2-2 in Belgium on Thursday, winning its Europa League group when Vitoria came back to beat Eintracht Frankfurt on a wild afternoon of soccer.

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Arsenal trailed on second half goals from Samuel Bastien and Selim Amallah, but rallied behind Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette to score a second-straight win for interim boss Freddie Ljungberg.

Saka sent in a laser cross in the 78th minute and Lacazette did quite well to power it under the bar.

He’s loving this competition, having made a serious entrance earlier in the tournament versus Eintracht Frankfurt. The 18-year-old now has two goals and five assists across all competitions this season.

The Gunners needed just three more minutes to tie the score on a day they outshot the hosts 15-11.

Saka showed his nose for goal to tie the score five minutes later with a dribble to the top of the 18 and a sly finish to the keeper’s left.

This was all happening around the same time Vitoria scored twice in three minutes to take a 3-2 lead on Eintracht Frankfurt.

Standard Liege goes from the knockout rounds to nothing in a blink, while Eintracht goes from winning the group to second.

The field for the Europa League is looking fierce, with Inter Milan, Benfica, Ajax, Club Brugge, Olympiacos, Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen, and Red Bull Salzburg joining the competition via transfer from the UEFA Champions League.

Arsenal joins Premier League sides Wolves and Manchester United in the knockout rounds, having lost the Europa League final to rivals Chelsea at the end of last season.

The Gunners beat West Ham on Monday and host Manchester City at 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday.

Arsenal skid hits nine with home loss

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Arsenal’s winless run reached nine with a 2-1 home loss to Brighton and Hove Albion at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Neal Maupay headed an Aaron Mooy cross past Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno with 10 minutes to play.

Alexandre Lacazette found a second half equalizer after Adam Webster put the Seagulls ahead before the break.

Arsenal stays 10th with 19 points, below Sheffield United and above Newcastle United on goal difference. Brighton rises to 13th with 18 points.

The nine-game run is Arsenal’s worst since 1977.


Three things we learned

1. Freddie not the fix: There’s been no new manager bounce for Arsenal, and perhaps that’s as big of an indictment on player recruitment than anything else. Who knows if Freddie Ljungberg is a future genius manager, but the Gunners had little to offer in being outshot for most of the match.

2. Leno would be Best XI on a good team: Arsenal’s goalkeeper is one of the good ones, and the 27-year-old goalkeeper was credited with seven saves at home. Who knows where the Gunners would sit on the table if Leno wasn’t leading the league in saves? I mean, look at the clubs represented around him on the board. This is a bad, bad, bad defense.

https://www.sofascore.com/tournament/football/england/premier-league/17

3. Potter’s men continue to impress: The Seagulls continue on an upward trend, and were the better team on the day inside the home of one of the biggest teams in the league. Their big backs dealt well enough with Arsenal’s talented attack, with midfielder Aaron Mooy the star of their match even before he assisted Maupay’s go-ahead goal.

Man of the Match: It would’ve been Leno, who had no fault on either goal, but Mooy’s assist tips the scales in favor of the Australian.


Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin conceded a free kick on the edge of the box in the 22nd minute, but that came to nothing.

At the other end, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang spun an outside-of-the-boot hit wide of the far post.

But Brighton was producing the best chances over the first half-hour, and were rightly on the board first when Webster slotted a shot from the heart of the 18.

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Arsenal brought on Nicolas Pepe at halftime, but it was Lacazette who equalized with a looping header off a corner kick.

Brighton didn’t wilt, and Bernd Leno reacted well to Neal Maupay’s disappointing first touch of a loose ball in the six with just under a half hour to play.

The Gunners saw a goal pulled back by VAR after David Luiz was offside when he headed a free kick past Mat Ryan.

Pepe then slid Aubameyang behind the Brighton back line, but the Seagulls limited the damage to a corner kick.

Maupay put the Seagulls ahead when he held his nerve in front of Luiz to head Mooy’s cross home.

Arsenal booed off pitch despite Lacazette heroics

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Arsenal and Southampton will both be disappointed after wasting chances in a 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, the home side booed off the pitch despite a stoppage time equalizer.

Danny Ings scored a goal and won a penalty that led to a James Ward-Prowse goal, as Arsenal twice had to rally for equalizers against their relegation-threatened foes.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Alexandre Lacazette scored both Gunners goals, as Arsenal sits 7th with 18 points. Southampton is 19th with nine points, two back of safety.


3 things we learned

1. Under the radar Lacazette keeps firing: Perhaps its the fact that he’s the fourth-biggest name in his team’s attack, maybe it’s injury history, or maybe it’s just down to Arsenal being a mess, but Lacazette’s two-goal day wasn’t an aberration. The Man of the Match managed seven dribbles, 49 touches, a key pass, four crosses, an interception, and a tackle.

2. Saints lack of finish is stunning: Southampton could’ve put this thing to bed three, four, maybe five times, with Moussa Djenepo particularly wasteful down the stretch. It’s a microcosm of Southampton’s struggles, and their two goals today accounted for 15 percent of their season output.

3. Ings and things: You’d be forgiven for thinking Southampton’s star striker is 10 years older than his 27 marker given how long it feels since he burst onto the scene with Burnley and suffered through injury-marred years at Liverpool. Since returning home to Saints, he’s shown a knack for scoring in big spots, and he was Hasenhuttl’s weapon on Saturday. Ings now has 16 goals and four assists in 39 matches with Saints, close to what he did in his breakout season with the Clarets in 2014/15.


Ings ran onto Ryan Bertrand‘s free kick and pushed a shot off the post and into the goal for an 8th minute lead.

Lacazette found the answer via interplay with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the 18th minute, though the Gabonese striker was anything but at his best on the day.

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Kieran Tierney then gave away a penalty to Ings, and Ward-Prowse deposited the rebound of his Bernd Leno-saved effort to give the visitors another lead.

But Lacazette was back post and clinical deep in stoppage time after Saints wasted several chances to put the match to bed.

Emery’s use of attackers may be his Arsenal downfall

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When the Premier League season began, many joked that Arsenal was built to try and outscore teams 3-2 each week over 38 weeks.

It was a nod to the Gunners’ extraordinary attacking prowess and limited defensive additions. Arsenal had signed three defenders in the summer, one who wouldn’t arrive until the following season (William Saliba*) and another who would miss some time with injury (Kieran Tierney).

The third was David Luiz.

So it isn’t surprising that the Gunners are still allowing goals. It is surprising that they are not scoring more, and perhaps a bit stunning that the expected goals table says that Unai Emery‘s men aren’t even hard luck victims.

Arsenal has scored 16 goals and allowed 15 through 11 match days, but the xG table says the North London outfit has actually finished a bit better their chances and been worse on the other end (15 xG for, 17 xGA).

Luiz has made several head scratching errors to go with his wonderful long passes and forays forward. He’s a player capable of both the ethereal and the tragic, not unlike Granit Xhaka, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that a move across London.

There are plenty of reasons to be upset with the defense, of course, and it’s one thing if that anger is put at the board instead of Emery. The league-worst 7.7 interceptions per game points a bit to the tactics, but there’s no question the Gunners have made mistakes above field level even if the Laurent Koscielny exit to Bordeaux caught them by surprise.

But what should be damning is what Emery has been unable to do with an unbelievable batch of attackers. Given Nicolas Pepe to go with Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the tactician has not been able to find a way to play them together. Breakout teens Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka were both used over unused sub Pepe on Saturday despite the Ivorian not playing in the midweek League Cup loss to Liverpool.

Don’t get us wrong, both players are exciting pieces for the future, but the decision is so short-sighted (let alone that Emery put on Saka for Lucas Torreira with a one-goal lead and 17 minutes to play. Perhaps coincidental but no surprise tha it was 1-1 three minutes later).

Some if not many have argued that Pepe has been a disappointment since arriving in a mega money deal from Ligue 1, and the 24-year-old’s three goals and three assists in exactly 800 minutes in all competitions certainly aren’t eye-popping from a player who scored 22 and 11 in 3300 at Lille last season.

Yet Pepe is capable of the sensational, as evidenced by his pair of free kick goals in 15 minutes off the bench in the Europa League on Oct. 15. He’s third in the PL in successful dribbles (34) and is the 19th ranked player by SofaScore and 24th in WhoScored’s ratings. That’s the best of any Arsenal player, with Aubameyang 38th and 62nd according to both sites, respectively.

And stats say Pepe has been somewhat unlucky in PL play to boot, with one actual goal to go with 3 expected goals. His xG plus xA per contest is below only Lacazette and level with Aubameyang.

Arsenal is ninth in the PL in key passes, with 12.9 per game. Pepe’s 1.7 are behind only Mesut Ozil, whose sample size is two matches.

Look at this pass from Pepe to Lacazette between three bodies to set up Arsenal’s first goal in its memorable North London Derby comeback. It’s just one example, sure, and all players need time to integrate to a new league and culture, but not using a healthy Pepe for 180 minutes should never happen even with the five-pack of attackers.

*A silver lining for Arsenal fans: Saint-Etienne boss Claude Puel is furious with his club for selling the 18-year-old Saliba, calling him the “best player” on the team. He’s coming, eventually, even if Real Madrid are reportedly trying to find a way to hijack the sale/loan.

Mexico’s Jimenez delivers Wolves point at Arsenal

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Raul Jimenez’s 76th minute goal gave Wolves a deserved point from a 1-1 draw with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Wolves out shot their hosts 25-10 in collecting a 13th point of the year. That sits them 11th, four points behind fifth place Arsenal.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang bagged Arsenal’s goal in the first half.


Three things we learned

1. Emery gets it wrong: The Arsenal boss would be right to feel pressure as another visitor dominated play against his side. A start for Mesut Ozil meant a place on the bench for Nicolas Pepe, and the in-form Ivorian never entered the fray against a Wolves side which can be beaten by creativity. Instead, Emery put in youngsters Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka, and the kids didn’t have it in them. Moreover, we can understand why Emery didn’t start Granit Xhaka after his tumultuous week — and maybe the player preferred not to face the home crowd — but his steel was missed against Joao Moutinho‘s stylish midfield.

2. Wolves grab point in 9th of 11 league matches: Look, there’s no question Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men have been troubled by the schedule congestion provided by the Europa League and, until this week, the League Cup, but full credit to them for finding a way to get points more often than not. Late equalizers against Newcastle, Crystal Palace, and now Arsenal mean the side has only fallen to Everton (3-2) and Chelsea (5-2) in Premier League play despite playing 20 matches all over Europe since Aug. 8.

3. El Tri’s best striker delivers the goods again: Raul Jimenez led the way with Wolves’ equalizer and this monster stat line: 8 shots, 6 aerials won, and 4 tackles. That’s from your center forward, Wolves fans. He’s a problem in the club, folks.

Man of the Match: Jimenez was an absolute beast for the visitors.


Wolves came out of the gates with vigor, and Arsenal had trouble keeping the ball out of its end and keeping hold of it altogether.

The Gunners went ahead through their two strikers, Lacazette doing plenty of work to set up Aubameyang for a goal that doesn’t rank high on his difficulty scale.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

But Wolves did not relent against a side which probably missed Xhaka (see above).

Amazingly, it was still Arsenal 1-0 for much of the second half despite massive disadvantages in possession and shots, but Jimenez’s relentless effort allowed Wolves to level the line.