Valentino Lazaro

Pepe stars, Arsenal crushes Newcastle

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Nicolas Pepe had a goal and two assists as Arsenal handled Newcastle United 4-0 at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil scored the other goals as Arsenal moved into 10th place, seven points back of the top four.

It was a tale of two very different halves for Newcastle, who entered the day even with Arsenal on 31 points, and leaves it in 13th place. The Magpies were very good in the opening 45, and dismantled in the second stanza.


Three highlights

1. Arsenal defense finally approaching Leno’s level: There were moments for Newcastle’s tricky wide men, but Mikel Arteta‘s defense continued its improvement under his watch. Bernd Leno saved Arsenal’s lives on so many cases earlier in the season, and he’s finding life a lot easier as the Arteta era finds its footing.

2. Pepe powers Gunners attack: Nicolas Pepe entered the day leading Arsenal in assists and dribbles per game, and was second in key passes despite starting just 14 of his 21 appearances. Mikel Arteta trusted the Ivorian on Sunday, and boy did he deliver the goods in being involved in all four goals. But there’s so much more.

Pepe was credited with four key passes and three big chances created, winning 7 of 13 duels with an interception and two tackles. Three of his seven crosses were on target and he passed the ball at 83 percent.

3. Saka continues to impress: We’ve had to remind ourselves that Bukayo Saka is still just a teenager so many times this season. The 18-year-old burst onto the scene as a fun winger, but has become an able left back with incredible threat moving forward. The Gunners have a wealth of fine young players with promise. Imagine if they’ve found the boss to organize them.

Man of the Match: Pepe, with notes of appreciation for Saka, Saint-Maximin, and Aubameyang.


Arsenal held the ball for most of the first four minutes, but Joelinton drove past Shkrodan Mustafi to pick out Valentino Lazaro, whose shot was blocked for a corner.

Allan Saint-Maximin wanted a penalty call when fouled by Granit Xhaka, but neither Lee Mason not VAR thought it the case.

A training ground routine off a corner kick led to a Sean Longstaff rip from 25 yards, and Leno had to act quickly to stymy a deflected effort.

Joelinton then just missed a near-post chance after a bit of Saint-Maximin wizardry. The Frenchman soon drew a dangerous free kick that Longstaff sent into orbit.

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The game was wide open, Bukayo Saka missing with an arrow meant for the upper 90 and Miguel Almiron wasting the end of a long, wonderful dribble.

Arsenal grew into the game and Eddie Nketiah looked more and more dangerous in tearing into a shot that Dubravka caught in the 38th. Dubravka then tipped a Nicolas Pepe free kick over the bar.

Saint-Maximin then dribbled the Arsenal team to push a pass through the six, but Joelinton was hobbled and didn’t follow the play.

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Arsenal burst out of the halftime gates and Nicolas Pepe set up Nketiah for a point-blank chance cranked off the top of the crossbar.

Aubameyang pushed Arsenal onto the score sheet in the 54th minute, heading home from close range after a terrific Pepe cross.

Pepe got on the board soon after, the Ivorian star igniting the Gunners.

Ciaran Clark ripped a Saint-Maximin pass that was deflected out for a corner, and Saint-Maximin later smashed the far post with a shot from distance.

The third Arsenal goal was a Dubravka error. Ozil led a rush and spotted Pepe, who passed to Lacazette before Ozil pushed a clumsy shot to goal that defied Newcastle’s star keeper.

Pepe was back involved in the fourth, Joe Willock‘s incisive pass to the winger doing the heavy lifting en route to Lacazette’s finish.

Transfer rumor roundup: Moses reunited with Conte, Lazaro to Newcastle

Premier League transfer rumor roundup
Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images
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Inter Milan is still working the wings and it’s now affecting two Premier League sides.

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One day after Ashley Young left Manchester United to join Antonio Conte‘s project, Chelsea and Newcastle are set to be impacted by a Milanese departure and arrival. Jacob Bruun Larsen

First, Sky Sports Italia reporter Gianluca Di Marzio says Newcastle has agreed to a $3 million loan fee with a $27 million option to buy Austrian international Valentino Lazaro. The player’s agent is reportedly on Tyneside.

The 23-year-old made his name with Red Bull Salzburg, going on to earn 28 caps for Austria. He moved to Hertha Berlin and earned five goals and 13 assists in two seasons before a transfer to Inter.

He’s only collected 513 minutes under Conte, registering two assists. Lazaro has played a lot of right midfield but is capable up and down the flank on either side. He’s played pretty much everything but center back and center forward in his career.

Fun fact: Lazaro’s middle name is Lando.

As for the arrival, ex-Chelsea boss Conte is looking set for a reunion with Victor Moses. The 29-year-old Nigerian is currently on loan at Fenerbahce, where he’s got a goal and an assist in seven matches.

A thigh injury has cost Moses spells of six and four matches on the sidelines this season, but he should have plenty of treads left on the tires considering Maurizio Sarri only used him for 176 minutes last season.

Finally, Bournemouth looks ready to tempt Borussia Dortmund’s resolve over Jacob Bruun Larsen.

The 21-year-old Dane certainly has the goods to improve Eddie Howe‘s stagnant attack, but he may be rusty. Larsen has only played 158 minutes this season, grabbing an assist.

Prolific for BVB at youth levels, perhaps a change of scenery would trigger senior success for a man who made his Denmark senior debut in March.

Sky says BVB wants the deal to be a loan with an option to buy in the summer.