- Sokratis opens scoring
- Smith Rowe, Guendouzi bag 1st senior goals
- Ozil, Lacazette on bench
- Aubameyang, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan left home
Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Emile Smith Rowe, and Matteo Guendouzi scored in Azerbaijan as Arsenal popped Qarabag 3-0 in the Europa League on Thursday.
Arsenal is now 2-0 in group play while Qarabag falls to 0-2. Arsenal now get Sporting Lisbon back-to-back in one of the league’s best group stage pairings.
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Arsenal, clad in red shorts to go with their red shirts, controlled play early and went ahead within a few minutes of said control.
Mohamed Elneny‘s corner kick was headed towards goal, and Sokratis was onside to redirect the ball over the line.
Emile Smith Rowe was very close with a sliding effort to meet Sead Kolasinac‘s cross to the back post in the 18th minute.
Bernd Leno made a fine save on Filip Ozobic in the 40th minute, with Sokratis clearing the rebound.
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Qarabag thought it was level in the 49th minute, but Mahir Madatov’s run was a split second too early before the Azerbaijan international slotted past Leno.
Arsenal made it 2-0 under pressure, with Smith Rowe running onto a feed from Alex Iwobi in the 52nd. Then Guendouzi joined Smith Rowe with historic career moments by potting his first senior goal.
- Own goal puts Gunners ahead
- Lacazette finds Ozil for 2-0
- Watford winless in four
Arsenal broke through late to beat Watford 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
Craig Cathcart‘s 81st minute own goal was joined by Mesut Ozil’s 83rd minute strike to provide three points to the Gunners.
Arsenal sits fifth, level on points with fourth place Spurs. Watford drops into sixth, two points back of the Gunners.
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Alexandre Lacazette could’ve won a penalty had he gone down under a Christian Kabasele challenge, but he wobbled forward and mishit a shot. Perhaps he should’ve anyway, by that logic, but we digress.
Watford backstop Ben Foster made a decent stop on Granit Xhaka as the half-progressed, while Arsenal’s story between the sticks was a substitution when Petr Cech was injured and gave way to Bernd Leno.
Arsenal’s second half breakthrough began when an Alex Iwobi cross became Cathcart’s own goal and escalated quickly, with Ozil making it 2-0 within three minutes.
Lacazette assisted the Ozil goal with a decent low cross.
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Bayer Leverkusen made a joke about Arsenal’s starting goalkeeper. Petr Cech didn’t find it very funny.
The German club on Twitter took a shot across Cech’s bow for a slight (and ultimately not costly) blunder during Arsenal’s opening day loss to Manchester City.
Cech, starting in net ahead of former Bayer goalkeeper Bernd Leno, horribly mishit a back-pass from Matteo Guendouzi that skipped hard to his right and just missed tucking inside the far post for an own-goal. Bayer Leverkusen, seeing the mistake with Leno on the bench, tweeted, “We know a guy…” in response to someone posting video of the near-miss.
The 36-year-old wasn’t very happy with the attempt at humor, urging the German club to do some research on “fair competition, professionalism, and sportsmanship.”
Leverkusen responded to Cech’s tweet, attempting to backtrack by saying, “Hi Petr. It seems our joke about wanting to see Leno, our former player, in action has been taken a bit more harshly/personally than intended. It was only a bit of banter. We’re all for the values you’ve stated and wish you and your big club all the best. Nice 1v1 save on Aguero!”
Leno was bought this summer for a reported $28.5 million fee, with former backup David Ospina reportedly on his way out, although no move has materialized just yet.
Arsenal unveiled German goalkeeper Bernd Leno on Tuesday as the latest member of Unai Emery’s unit.
The longtime Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper, 26, has six caps for Germany but is not on the World Cup roster.
[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]
Leno had appeared in 304 matches for Bayer before the move, which will reportedly cost the Gunners approximately $25 million.
Head coach Unai Emery said: “We are very pleased that Bernd Leno will be joining us. Bernd is a goalkeeper of high quality and experience. He has been a top performer and regular number one goalkeeper with Leverkusen in the Bundesliga for the past seven years. We are all excited that Bernd has chosen Arsenal Football Club and look forward to start working with him in pre-season.”
The Gunners have Petr Cech and David Ospina at goalkeeper, but it’s reasonable to expect at least one to leave town. Emery has already added Stephan Lichtsteiner from Juventus to help shore up his defense.
Arsenal could have its successor to Arsene Wenger by the end of the week.
That’s if talks with former Gunners midfielder and current Manchester City assistant Mikel Arteta go well.
[ PL TOP 10: GKs and backs | Mids and forwards ]
Already reported as a clear favorite for the job, Arteta will speak with the Gunners brass on Thursday. Sky Sports also says he’d be allowed to bring his own backroom staff.
Pep Guardiola won’t stand in the way of his assistant moving up in the Premier League world, and it would certainly be interesting to see how Arteta would attack and defend his former side.
When Arteta retired from Arsenal in 2016, he was a teammate of several current Gunners’ stars including Mesut Ozil, Laurent Koscielny, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Hector Bellerin, and Nacho Monreal.
Meanwhile, the Metro is reporting that Arsenal is ready to spend $102 million on Freiburg defender Caglar Soyuncu, Borussia Dortmund center back Sokratis Papastathopoulos, and Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno.