Dani Ceballos

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Watch Live: Watford v. Arsenal

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Mesut Ozil makes his first start of the season as Arsenal visits Watford and new/old manager Quique Sanchez Flores on Sunday at Vicarage Road (Watch live at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Ozil has two goals and four assists in nine appearances against Watford.

Dani Ceballos is also starting for the Gunners, who will be without Alexandre Lacazette for the next few weeks.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Gerard Deulofeu heads into the Starting XI for the Hornets, who will have in-form Will Hughes on the other side of the field.


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Four Things from North London Derby

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Thrill-a-minute? Absolutely, but Sunday’s 2-2 draw between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal was probably more fun for the neutrals than supporters of the teams on the pitch at the Emirates Stadium.

[ MORE: Full recap ]

Arsenal somehow turned early dominance into a 2-0 deficit, but erased it and then some against a Spurs side which wobbled again in drawing top opposition at home.

Here are three things we took away from the pulsating encounter, which left more questions than answers for both teams.

We’ve now seen both Arsenal and Spurs look clearly second best over 90 minutes against Liverpool and Man City, respectively. It’s still super early, but maybe there are three distinct classes in the race for the Top Six places.

Luiz gonna Luiz, and Xhaka gonna Xhaka

No, that’s not a good thing. Arsenal’s twin time bombs turned a dominant first half into a 2-0 deficit.

David Luiz‘s lackadaisical life as a Gunner continues in the opening 10 minutes at the Emirates, as the ex-Chelsea man nearly gave away a free kick to Harry Kane with a silly challenge that went uncalled.

It was foreshadowing, as Luiz got caught in two minds when following Heung-Min Son. He was shook by a simple run behind him, and then didn’t bother to get in the path of Eriksen’s run to the back post to deposit a rebound for 1-0.

You’ll recall that Luiz got cooked by Mohamed Salah in similar fashion last week. Both matches were close, and both mistakes mattered to the score line.

As for Xhaka, he defies his statistics at every turn. Over 90 minutes, he’s going to be one of your best players (See his terrific vision to set-up of Pepe in the 85th minute). But in at least one moment, he’s going to absolutely short-circuit your goals.

In this case, the Swiss star slid into Son with the ball gone and only minuscule hope of anything positive. No miracle arrived, rather a penalty to Spurs and Harry Kane rarely misses those.

That was 2-0 Spurs despite Arsenal control of the match.

Pepe, Auba, Laca trident verdict = Pretty, pretty good

If Granit Xhaka‘s midfield madness showed the opposite, Arsenal’s first goal showed why every neutral on Earth wants to see Nicolas Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Alexandre Lacazette on the field at the same time.

Unai Emery handed Arsenal’s best trident its first start, and Pepe’s otherworldly close-range pass allowed Lacazette to burst through the 18 to smash past Hugo Lloris.

Aubameyang would add a goal soon after Lacazette subbed out of the match, and it would be foolhardy to imagine that the hour-plus of dealing with the trident wore on Spurs defenders.

The performance wasn’t picture perfect — they did only score the one goal in 67 minutes together — but you have to think they’ll cook a lot of defenses that hold less quality than Spurs.

Spurs leave a lot to be desired

When you consider that Tottenham was given among the most fortunate 2-0 leads you’ll see, this was a poor result even given the venue. Outshot 26-15 and off-balance often, Spurs ought to give Harry Winks, as well as their center backs and goalkeeper, free dinner.

Yes, they were playing without Tanguy Ndombele. And yes, they deserve full credit for the Christian Eriksen goal, but it came via school boy errors by a half-dozen or so Arsenal players led by Sokratis Papastathopoulos and David Luiz.

The other goal came from Xhaka’s absurd challenge on Spurs MOTM Son, who was very very good. Late chances were there, but Harry Kane embellished to try and win a late penalty and Dele Alli‘s lone moment as a sub was also a headfirst baseball slide which went unheeded. The calm of Spurs’ last season was simply not there.

Still, Son was quite good, Winks again a wonderful engine — sometimes single-handedly willing the unit forward — and Hugo Lloris mostly up to the task. The defense did stop the bleeding and preserve an away point. There are things to like from the season’s slow start, but Sunday’s performance was entertaining but not encouraging.

How Mauricio Pochettino integrates Giovani Lo Celso and eventually Ryan Sessegnon will go a long way to settling Spurs down.

Emery pushes decent buttons in come back

It’s easy to forget that Unai Emery has turned average ingredients into silverware-winning dishes in his day, so it’s no surprise that Arsenal’s manager was able to adjust his side to get a point at home.

Yes, even against Spurs stingy defense.

It’s clear that Emery thinks the Aubameyang-Lacazette-Pepe trident won’t allow him to include more than one forward-thinking midfielder like Dani Ceballos or Henrikh Mkhitaryan in his midfield (Mkhitaryan was pedestrian if not poor off the bench). That’s presumably why he opted for Lucas Torreira and Xhaka with Guendouzi.

Emery’s men didn’t lose their nerve down 2-0 — a credit to him — and the comeback started before he made his subs, but Ceballos was a big part of the difference. Would playing Ceballos and Guendouzi with Torreira sacrifice too much size and grit in the middle? Probably, and that’s the hard bargain Emery will have to strike on a week-to-week basis: Is he better with his trident together, or with a necessary fourth midfielder?

Emery impressed with versatile Ceballos as Arsenal stays perfect

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Despite the score line, Unai Emery can be fairly happy with Arsenal’s performance in a 2-1 defeat of Burnley at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

On midfielder Dani Ceballos, though, Emery will be very pleased.

[ RECAP: Arsenal 2-1 Burnley ]

The Real Madrid loanee was the easy Man of the Match, his silky skill on the ball and quality industry endearing himself to Arsenal faithful. From Football.London:

“It’s to use his quality in the best position in our team. I spoke with him before coming here, it’s to play as an eight and a No.10. He started like a 10 but changed with Willock. He can feel better on the pitch.”

Emery will be less than pleased with his defense, who allowed a goal to early season Golden Boot candidate Ashley Barnes.

“We won in our moments we did the difference for 2-1. A lot of moments we couldn’t impose our gameplan because they pushed and their gameplan was a struggle for us.”

Arsenal confirm Ceballos deal; Villa sign Douglas Luiz

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Arsenal have their man.

Dani Ceballos, 22, has joined the Gunners from Real Madrid on a season-long loan with the Spanish international midfielder a direct replacement for Aaron Ramsey.

So much so that Arsenal have even given Ceballos the No.8 jersey formerly worn by Ramsey.

Speaking about his arrival in the Premier League, Ceballos revealed that his compatriots Unai Emery and Hector Bellerin played a big part in him switching the Spanish capital for England’s capital city.

“I knew I had the confidence of the coach, which was very important for me from the start,” Ceballos explained. “I was aware of the responsibility that wearing this shirt entails and it was a tremendously proud moment when I decided to join Arsenal.”

This move is all well and good for Arsenal, but don’t they need to strengthen in other areas first?

Ceballos is a hugely talented attacking midfielder who is highly-rated in Spain (even if Zinedine Zidane isn’t a member of his fan club) but with Mesut Ozil, Alex Iwobi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and youngsters like Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith Rowe around, this isn’t an area where they needed extra help.

Unless Unai Emery expects Callum Chambers to become the next Virgil Van Dijk (sorry, Callum, nothing personal) then Arsenal still have a huge hole to fill in central defense this summer. The main reason they didn’t finish in the top four last season was due to defensive issues and that doesn’t seem like changing anytime soon.


Another day, another new signing at Aston Villa.

Douglas Luiz, 21, has joined from Manchester City for a fee believed to be around $18.7 million as the Brazilian midfielder is Dean Smith’s 10th signing of the summer transfer window.

This addition takes Villa’s spending to almost $160 million this summer. Ka-ching.

Luiz has signed a five-year contract at Villa and after spending the last two seasons on loan at Girona following his move to Man City — City couldn’t get a work permit for Luiz so loaned him out to their sister club in Spain — the former Vasco da Gama man is ready to get rolling in the Premier League as he never made an appearance for City.

“I hope I can be a leader in the team,” Luiz said. “I hope I can help by bringing the ball out from the back and, although I don’t speak a lot of English, I hope I can help out by shouting orders from the back and live up to all the expectations as best as I can. I hope we have a great season and win a lot of games.

“Right now I’m confident in saying that, God willing, I can shine in the Premier League. So I hope I cannot just talk the talk but also walk the walk and that’s my main aim. I came here to learn but, more than anything, to dream big and to be a leader on the pitch.”

Luiz is a bullish defensive midfielder who will add to Smith’s options in the engine room alongside Conor Hourihane, Jack Grealish and John McGinn.

The Brazilian joins Trezeguet, Anwar Al Ghazi, Matt TargettTyrone Mings, Ezri Konza, JotaWesley, Kourtney Hause and Bjorn Engels as Villa’s new signing and they certainly aren’t missing about this summer.

Ceballos close to Arsenal move; Asensio suffers serious injury

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Arsenal look set to add a top class central midfielder.

According to our partners Sky Sports, Real Madrid’s Dani Ceballos is in London to have a medical ahead of a season-long loan move to the Gunners.

Ceballos, 22, shone for Spain’s U21 side as they won the European Championships this summer and the former Real Betis star had previously fallen out with former, and now current, Real boss Zinedine Zidane.

A mercurial talent who is able to play as a box-to-box central midfielder or a playmaker, Ceballos’ impending arrival seems to be a like-for-like replacement for Aaron Ramsey who departed for Juventus on a free transfer this summer.

Unai Emery spoke highly of Ceballos during Arsenal’s preseason tour of the USA.

“Ceballos is a very good player,” Emery said. “I know him from [Real] Betis at the beginning and Real Madrid. He played very well in the under-21s [for Spain], his national team won the [2019 European Championship] competition. He can play as a No. 8 or a No. 10.”

Ceballos’ arrival could suggest that Lucas Torreira or maybe even Mesut Ozil could move on this summer, but neither seems likely, as things stand, and this deal makes financial sense for Arsenal who have just $60 million in their transfer kitty as they chase $100 million-rated Wilfried Zaha.

But the move for Ceballos was in some doubt after fellow Real Madrid attacker Marco Asensio suffered a serious knee injury during their friendly win against Arsenal in Washington D.C. on Tuesday.

Asensio went down in the second half clutching his knee after turning on the pitch at FedEx Field and Real have since confirmed the Spanish international has suffered a ruptured ACL and meniscus in his left knee. That injury is likely to keep Asensio out for the entire season.

Even if Ceballos’ move to Arsenal remains on, Asensio’s injury could have an impact for Zinedine Zidane and who he allows to leave this summer.

Zidane continues to want Gareth Bale to leave but with the Welshman playing and scoring in his 45 minute cameo against Arsenal on Tuesday, perhaps the situation will change, even if Zizou remains adamant that Bale should exit the Santiago Bernabeu this summer.