Kieran Tierney

Arsenal beats Wolves to strengthen European hopes

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Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette scored as Arsenal closed ground on the top five with a gritty and complete 2-0 win over Wolves at the Molineux on Saturday.

WOLVES – ARSENAL FULL MATCH REPLAY

Mikel Arteta’s project looks to be going well as Arsenal moves seventh with 49 points, three back of Wolves and four clear of rivals Spurs, who have a match-in-hand.

Wolves saw a four-match clean sheet run spoiled by Saka’s first-half goal. The sixth-place Wolves lose ground in the battle for a top four place and now sit two points behind Chelsea, who plays later Saturday. They are three back of Manchester United and six behind Leicester City.


Three things we learned

1. Arsenal begins gauntlet with promise: The Gunners need wins, not draws, if they want to creep up the table and into the European places by season’s end. Saturday was the first of three chances to take three points from a team it’s chasing, with a visit from Leicester City coming Tuesday before July 12’s North London Derby at Spurs. A team they won’t catch, Liverpool, follows so… get those points now and get your form sorted.

2. Saka celebrates new deal in style: Arsenal’s 18-year-old wonder worker on the left side came from the right to score his first Premier League goal. Kieran Tierney’s deflected cross gave Saka a chance to show his technique, and that left-footed side volley oozed the good stuff. Saka now has four goals and 10 assists in all competitions, and does not turn 19 until Sept. 5.

3. Wolves falter: Raul Jimenez was fine, which is substandard from his usual prowess, while Adama Traore didn’t do much after a lively start up top. Injections of Diogo Jota and Pedro Neto yielded little as you’d call this a certified dud. When Conor Coady is getting cooked, you know something’s not right.

Man of the Match

The best player on the pitch for either team might have been Ruben Neves. Wolves’ Portuguese midfielder had a goal-mouth clearance and sprayed long balls around the field as if he was four yards, not 40 away from his target.


Wolves – Arsenal recap

The first half did not live up to the billing of two offense-first teams, although Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah came close after the half-hour mark.

The best chance at the other saw a hesitant Raul Jimenez trouble Wolves’ promising rush into the 18.

Adama Traore drew a dangerous free kick off Sead Kolasinac that led to nothing as the match neared halftime.

It was Saka who stroked Arsenal in front in the 43rd minute, celebrating his new contract with a terrific left-footed side volley after Kieran Tierney’s cross was deflected into his path.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Traore came close for Wolves after the hour mark but Arsenal was staunch in its final third.

Arsenal got its second when Lacazette roasted Conor Coady with a slick first touch of Joe Willock’s pass as the Gunners needed a half-dozen moves to produce a goal from a David Luiz-won header at midfield.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang nearly had Willock on the board with a third Arsenal goal after Lacazette keyed a move in the final third, but Ruben Neves cleared the shot off the line.

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 booed off pitch despite Lacazette heroics

Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
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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.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

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.

Tierney, Lacazette available for Arsenal

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Arsenal are edging closer to finally having a full-strength squad.

Ahead of Monday’s prime-time matchup with Sheffield United, Arsenal manager Unai Emery confirmed that Kieran Tierney was in line to make his Premier League debut, while Alexandre Lacazette was back in full training and should be in the gameday squad.

“Today is Lacazette’s first training back with us,” Emery said in a press conference on Thursday. “He finished it well and he’s feeling well with his injuries. Tomorrow we will be training again and he will be with us. We will decide.

“The most important thing is that first he is training, then secondly it’s whether he can be with us and it depends how he can feel in the next days training with us, whether his ankle is not giving him any more problems.”

This is a huge boost to Arsenal, which has had to rely on some youngsters and have made some lineup changes to accommodate not having Lacazette on the field. Tierney meanwhile could step into a position where there’s already a decent starter, Sead Kolasinac.

Lacazette’s return also couldn’t have come at a better time. In Premier League action, Arsenal’s high-powered offense has been stymied, scoring just two goals in the last two league games. Meanwhile, against weaker defenses in the UEFA Europa League and the Carabao Cup, Arsenal has bagged a total of 12 goals.

The veteran Frenchman has scored two goals in three appearances so far this season, including a big goal just before halftime in the 2-2 draw with Tottenham. However, he suffered a long-term ankle injury in that match that has kept him on the sidelines for more than a month.

“[Tierney is] ready to play,” Emery later said. Now we have two options in that left-back role with Sead Kolasinac and him. We’re going to play a lot of matches after Monday. We will need every player. It depends how he comes into the first training with us, Sead, after his international matches. We now have two players in that position and we can use one on Monday, it depends how they are, one or the other.”

Tierney, the 22-year-old Scottish left back, has made two appearances for the Arsenal first team since recovering from a double hernia operation over the summer. Signed from Celtic for around $32 million, Tierney adds a skill that Kolasinac has struggled with – expert crosser of the ball into the box, where the likes of Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can score when given a decent chance.