Joe Willock

Mikel Arteta
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Arteta praises Saka, Willock, speaks on transfers, Mustafi injury

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Arsenal’s day got a little dicey in stoppage time of a 2-1 win over Bournemouth in the FA Cup’s fourth round, but it was mostly very comfortable at the Vitality Stadium.

A lot of that comes down to Bukayo Saka‘s exceptional day on the left flank. The 18-year-old had a goal and an assist, and is proving a big part of Mikel Arteta‘s plans to return Arsenal to glory.

“Mikel is trying to bring back the philosophy of the Arsenal way,” Saka said after the win, via the BBC. “We did that well in the first half, not so much in the second half.”

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Saka took a lay-off from fellow teen Gabriel Martinelli to make it 1-0 in the fifth minute, then crossed for Eddie Nketiah‘s 26th-minute insurance goal.

A Sam Surridge stoppage-time marker for Bournemouth made an otherwise easy day feel a bit tricky at the end.

Arteta had praise for his youngsters, especially Saka and midfielder Joe Willock.

“They were terrific,” he said, via Football.London. “Their courage to play and make big decisions. I think Joe can be an outstanding player in that position.”

Saka came through the system as a left winger, but Arteta has asked him to help fill in at left back.

“What I like is that he put his head down and he is very willing to learn the defensive principles.”

Arteta also admitted that a Cup run would be great for the team, adding that Shkrodan Mustafi’s injury is a big cause for concern. He said the club has a clear plan for the rest of the transfer window, and that he wants Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to stay in London.

“We will have to assess him but normally it is not good,” he said of Mustafi. “We had a clear intention of what we want to do in the market and if we can do it, fine.”

Liverpool wins 10-goal League Cup instant classic v. Arsenal

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Two second-choice sides provided first-choice thrills as Arsenal and Liverpool accounted for 10 goals on Wednesday at Anfield before penalties helped the Reds advance to the quarterfinal draw.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Caoimhín Kelleher stopped Dani Ceballos after both sides made their first three shootout attempts.

Gabriel Martinelli scored twice and Mesut Ozil also starred for the Gunners, as Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Lucas Torreira, and Joe Willock also scored to seal a place in the quarterfinals.

Divock Origi scored twice, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner joined an Arsenal own goal on the board for the hosts.


Three things we learned

1. Klopp, Emery not bothered with the League Cup: Whichever manager lost this match was going to have to answer questions after playing extremely weakened sides for a quarterfinal against a Top Four rival. With all due respect to an insanely entertaining match and all the kids who got a chance to wear the Liverpool and Arsenal shirts at Anfield, Jurgen Klopp wasn’t bothered to give his team a fighting shot and Unai Emery cared just a little bit more. Both managers are right to make that call and hope their depth comes through, of course, but it seems like this was the round to start thinking about hardware: three wins from a final and 90 minutes from a draw that will include a third-tier and a fourth-tier side.

2. But the thrills! The old cliche is that high-scoring games make everyone happy but the coaches, and we’ll certainly be including the goalkeepers in this, too. Caoimhín Kelleher and Emiliano Martinez were hung out to dry on several occasions, including a rare mistake from James Milner that allowed Ainsley Maitland-Niles to make it 4-2. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s feats of strength from distance continued with Liverpool’s third, which gave us seven combined goals with a half-hour remaining on the clock. Origi’s equalizer came moments later and was gorgeous, only to be topped by Willock’s wonderful moment.

3. Martinelli keeps making his case: Kids hungry for a chance to shine led to risky challenges and some pretty nice feats, and 18-year-old Arsenal striker Gabriel Martinelli falls in the latter category. Having now scored seven times in seven senior matches including two braces in this competition, Martinelli is ready to contribute now despite being stuck behind Bukayo Saka, Alexandre Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Quite a good problem for Arsenal as it navigates several different competitions.

 

Man of the Match: Origi — The man just keeps showing up at big moments in big games, whether in the right spot for Jordan Pickford‘s Merseyside Derby error, the UCL Final, or with two big goals late in this one. Monster day.


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Where to start? Maybe we just give the quickest of explanations for the goals.

6th minute: Arsenal’s Shkrodan Mustafi stabs at a cross with one leg, sees his other leg score an own goal.

19th minute: Lucas Torreira deposits a rebound to tie the match after Mesut Ozil sets up Bukayo Saka for a fine shot.

26th minute: Martinelli gets his first by roofing a shot from extremely close range to give Arsenal its first lead.

36th minute: Saka causes a turnover and gets it to Ozil again, who sets up Martinelli for his second.

43rd minute: Having made the giveaway on Martinelli’s second, Harvey Elliott hits the deck after a challenge from Martinelli and James Milner scored from the spot.

54th minute: An uncharacteristic bad pass from Milner puts Kelleher in no man’s land and Maitland-Niles makes it work for a 4-2 lead.

58th minute: “The Ox” has been money from distance, and strokes home for 4-3.

62nd minute: Origi’s goal could’ve easily been the goal of the night (see below), a tidy turn and finish from the top of the box, but…

70th minute: Joe Willock, take a bow.

90’+4: Youngsters Rhian Brewster and Neco Williams do plenty of work to set up Origi, who has more to do when he blasts home to force penalties.

WATCH: Willock wonder goal in Liverpool-Arsenal thriller

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It takes something truly special to stand out from a game chock full of goals, and Arsenal’s Joe Willock had it.

The 20-year-old scored his seventh Arsenal goal on Wednesday in the Gunners’ League Cup tilt against Liverpool at Anfield, and it sure was pretty.

[ MORE: PL Player Power Rankings ]

With the match tied at 4 between two young, defense-optional sides, Willock went adventuring with a long dribble and daring shot which sent Caoimhin Kelleher back into his goal for a fifth time in just over an hour.

 

Watch Live: Sheffield United v. Arsenal

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Arsenal looks to rise back to third in the Premier League table as they travel to Bramall Road to take on Sheffield United live on NBCSN at 3:00 p.m. ET or live online at NBCSports.com.

The Blades have lost their last three home games but have looked up for the task against other top Premier League sides this season and are hoping to finally secure the upset they’ve been searching.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

The Gunners have named a nearly unchanged side from the pre-international break win over Bournemouth, with just Joe Willock coming in for Dani Cabellos in midfield. Alexandre Lacazette returns to the bench for an opportunity at a late appearance that would mark his first minutes since September 1. Kieran Tierney remains on the bench with Sead Kolasinac preferred at left-back, while Calum Chambers starts at right-back with Hector Bellerin not named in the squad.

[MORE: Preview Sheffield United v. Arsenal ]

For Sheffield United, Lys Mousset comes into the squad for Oli McBurnie, who misses out thanks to a knee injury picked up on international duty, while his DUI charge last night certainly didn’t help his chances for selection. David McGoldrick is Mousset’s strike partner with Callum Robinson dropped to the bench as well, while captain Billy Sharp can only make the bench. Chris Wilder deploys a three-at-the-back system yet again with George Baldock and Enda Stevens playing out wide on the flanks.

LINEUPS

Sheffield United: Henderson; Baldock, Stevens, Fleck; O’Connell, Basham, Lundstram, Egan, Norwood, McGoldrick, Mousset.
Bench: Freeman, Jagielka, Besic, Moore, Robinson, McBurnie, Sharp.

Arsenal: Leno; Kolasinac, David Luiz, Sokratis, Chambers; Guendouzi, Xhaka, Willock; Saka, Aubameyang, Pepe.
Bench: Martinez, Holding, Tierney, Torreira, Ceballos, Martinelli, Lacazette.

Emery pleased as youth helps Arsenal outlast Bournemouth, keep clean sheet

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Arsenal boss Unai Emery says it’s more than the clean sheet his side kept in a 1-0 defeat of Bournemouth, but how they looked in keeping it.

The Gunners copped just their second Premier League clean sheet of the season on Sunday. The first coming against sterile Newcastle, this one against lively Bournemouth felt a lot better.

[ RECAP: Arsenal 1-0 Bournemouth ]

That Arsenal did it after playing Thursday, and with four young players getting big minutes, means a lot to Emery.

“For me it’s one step more for the young players, for us,” he said. “We didn’t feel fear with that moment when the opposition was pushing us. Really I think the second half we can analyze and improve, we will do. In 90 minutes we deserved to win.”

Bukayo Saka (18) and Matteo Guendouzi (20) both started, with the latter going 90 minutes in a Man of the Match performance. Joe Willock (20) and Gabriel Martinelli (18) came into the game to see it out.

And the defense. David Luiz, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, and Sead Kolasinac have been a part of some horror shows this season, but — together with Calum Chambers — they were much better on Sunday.

“I remember the last matches we played here,” Emery said. “We can remember that we can improve with that spirit. The level in the Premier League is more than the cups but we played with one idea and one style. We want to use this way. An objective today was to win and then to take that way. The first half we did that.”

With Sheffield United, Crystal Palace, and Wolves next, the Gunners have winnable matches that will also test their resolve. Let’s see what lies ahead for the Top Four chasing Gunners.