Hector Bellerin

Arsenal
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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.

Tierney out months as Arsenal injuries pile up

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According to multiple reports, including Mark Mann-Bryans of PA Sport and Charles Watts of Goal.com, Arsenal full-back Kieran Tierney could be out up to three months after dislocating his shoulder in the 3-1 win over West Ham on Monday.

Tierney was withdrawn in the 29th minute after an awkward fall, using the bottom of his shirt as a makeshift sling. The club is still deciding on whether he will require surgery, according to Mann-Bryans, and that decision will ultimately determine the length of time he will miss. Still, even without surgery, it could leave him sidelined for a month or more.

The 22-year-old has struggled with injuries since joining the Gunners this past summer, missing the first seven games of the year with a hip injury. He has seen action in just five Premier League games thus far, and again could be sidelined for a significant spell. He could also end up missing Scotland’s critical playoff match against Israel in late March depending on his recovery timeline and fitness level.

Tierney’s injury is not the only one Arsenal is currently sweating. Granit Xhaka will miss the Europa League group stage finale against Standard Liege with a concussion, while Hector Bellerin is struggling with a hamstring problem. “Hector had a feeling in his hamstring during the warm-up [before West Ham] and we took the decision,” said interim manager Freddie Ljungberg after the win over the Hammers. “Not going to force anyone to play if they don’t feel 100%.”

Dani Ceballos is still sidelined with a hamstring injury suffered against Vitoria in October Europa League play and won’t return to training until later this month, while Rob Holding is a question mark this week after missing the West Ham game thanks to a bruised knee.

Arsenal, currently sitting ninth in the Premier League table and is scheduled to host Manchester City this coming Sunday following the trip to Belgium. They have upcoming games against Everton, Bournemouth, Chelsea, and Manchester United through the festive period.

Arsenal issue injury update

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Arsenal have issued an injury update on several players after their win at West Ham on Monday.

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Interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg will have an injury headache to sort out, especially at full back, as Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney were both injured before and during the 3-1 win at the London Stadium.

Bellerin felt his hamstring go in the warm up and the Spaniard was replaced by Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who performed well.

“Hector had a feeling in his hamstring during the warm-up and we took the decision. Not going to force anyone to play if they don’t feel 100%,” Ljungberg said. “It was a straight swap on that with Ainsley. Ainsley has been out in the cold a little bit but came in and did really well. I’m really proud of him.”

As for Tierney, who suffered a shoulder injury during the game, the prognosis on the Scottish left back doesn’t appear as positive as Bellerin.

“It’s something with his shoulder but I don’t know exactly what that is. We obviously had to take him off. He’s going to hospital to get it checked,” Ljungberg added.

The Gunners have enough defensive issues as it is without throwing a few injuries to arguably their best right and left backs.

Arsenal have plenty of walking wounded right now, as Rob Holding wasn’t in the squad to face West Ham due to a knee injury flaring up, while Dani Ceballos and Emile Smith-Rowe are still working their way back to full fitness.

Remarkably, Arsenal are just seven points off the top four given the firing of Unai Emery, their woeful defensive displays and their worst-ever start to a season.

Ljungberg’s boys host Man City on Sunday (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) which looks like being a straight shootout between two teams who can score at will but can’t keep them out at the other end.

The Gunners are great to watch for the neutrals, but these defensive injuries continue to hamper any recovery post-Emery.

Arsenal players ‘low on confidence’ as slump continues

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Arsenal interim manager Freddie Ljungberg saw his brief tenure turn from meh to worse, as the Gunners followed up their weekend draw with Norwich City by losing at home to Brighton and Hove Albion on Thursday.

The Swedish legend could only point to one thing.

[ RECAP: Arsenal 1-2 Brighton ]

“The players are low on confidence,” he said on NBCSN after the game. “We had a bit of reaction in the second half after our discussion at half, but we need to start the game like that. That’s the biggest disappointment I have. The second half they gave it a crack.”

“We’re in a difficult situation. We’ve got a lot of games and the confidence has gone down. It’s my job to get them to be more aggressive and have more energy.”

Perhaps most depressing is Ljungberg’s description of his players in the first half, via Football.London.

“They looked scared to get the ball and were standing still.”

Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin wouldn’t put any of the blame on the manager.

Bellerin credited Ljungberg for bringing energy to the training pitch this week, and was lost for answers after a poor showing at home.

“I don’t know what to say. I have the feeling that whatever we do it doesn’t come out right. The team gave its best, we created chances, we defended good but it seems like we need so many chances to score and teams score every chance against us. I am lost for words a little bit.”

He said he’s 100 percent sure the results will come Arsenal’s way. The next chance comes Monday at West Ham United.

Premier League Preview: Arsenal v. Southampton

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Two struggling sides meet Saturday at the Emirates Stadium when Unai Emery‘s Arsenal visits Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s Southampton (Watch Live at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The host Gunners are winless and four and sit eight points back of the Top Four. Despite a wildly talented attack, gthey’ve scored just 16 goals in 12 matches and have a minus-1 goal differential.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Saints’ troubles are at the other end of the table, as Hasenhuttl’s men are living that Bottom Three life with just eight points from 12 matches.

Their problem has been scoring and conceding goals, though their 29 allowed markers is a bit inflated by the horrible nine-star embarrassment suffered against Leicester.


Injuries/suspensions

Arsenal: OUT — Dani Ceballos. QUESTIONABLE — Sead Kolasinac.

Southampton: OUT — None. QUESTIONABLE — Michael Obafemi.


Probable lineups

Arsenal: Leno; Tierney, Luiz, Sokratis, Chambers; Guendouzi, Torreira, Ozil; Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang.

Southampton: McCarthy; Stephens, Bednarek, Vestergaard; Hojbjerg, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Armstrong, Djenepo; Ings, Redmond.


What they’re saying

Unai Emery on a possible Granit Xhaka return: “We have here some examples. For example, with Hector Bellerin. He told me two weeks ago he struggled here with the supporters sometimes when his performance was not the best. Also we have some other players who have had that situation. They come back. With Xhaka, I want to do the same. …  Also he is a good guy, a good player and he loves and respects Arsenal a lot, but knowing one day he made a mistake.”

Hasenhuttl on using the international break for good: “We had an intense week with a game against Brentford, which was a good test for us. We tried to go back to our basic fundamentals which is good for the players. We worked very hard and tried to show them how it can work. We had a good atmosphere in the sessions and in the game. The guys are following well, and that’s exactly what we need. Especially against big opponents because you have nothing to lose.


Prediction

It feels like both squads’ malaise should come to an end, but it’s only coming for one. We’re betting Xhaka has a nice return to the fold and Pepe shines to the tune of a 3-1 win for Arsenal.