Premier League Game of the Week: Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham

The north London derby at least for spectacle didn’t disappoint and it was Arsenal, so overshadowed in the past 3 years by Tottenham who took the spoils in a 2-1 victory.

The Gunners are trying to finish the season strong after another disappointing campaign in which they have flirted with the bottom half of the table, and even after this victory the club are still 10th.

There was entertainment so to speak even before a ball was kicked given that Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta had dropped star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to the bench. The reason? Protocol and Aubameyang had turned up late for the pre match set-up.

As for the game Arsenal needed to start on a positive note and they did. Though there were no early goals the Gunners came out the block firing and were camped in Tottenham’s half with wave and wave of attacks. It seemed that it would be inevitable that Tottenham would concede. There was also a tinge of disappointment that Tottenham, who have had the better season so far than Arsenal, were letting the Gunners boss the game.

But such is this season it took the first shot on target for Tottenham to score and go 1-0 up. It was an important goal of course, but what a goal too. Erik Lamela would be hero an villain of this game but this was his heroic moment. Lamela shot at goal and the ball went through the Arsenal defend as if guided by the’ force’. What actually happened and it was more noticeable on the replay was that Lamela’s shot was the rabona one. The infamous shot that was actually invented 76 years ago in Argentina. It was a stunner that even Arsenal fans had to praise. As for Lamela, well he’s done that before in an Europa League tie six years ago for Tottenham.

Unfortunately for Tottenham though they were not able to calm the game down and try to sucker punch Arsenal again. A Jose Mourinho led team 1-0 up away from home in a big game, usually means 3 points for the club he is in charge of. However Tottenham were unlucky as Arsenal equalised soon after. The goal was kind of scored by new signing Martin Odegaard who was obviously delighted with it. But his shot took a huge deflection that left Tottenham goal keeper Hugo Lloris with no chance to stop it.

Arsenal had been the more attacking team, more was expected of Tottenham but it was questionable if this game should have still been 0-0.

The biggest talking point that has split pundits, media and the fans was the penalty that Arsenal were awarded late on. Alexandre Lacazette miskicked the ball and Davinson Sanchez came into him at the same time. The penalty looked harsh for some and for others was a stone cold one. That could be debated. It was enough however to win the game for Arsenal who had finished it with 3 shots on target. For all their attacking prowess in the match the Gunners had ended up with the same shots on target as Tottenham.

To add insult to injury for Tottenham Lamela was sent off as the visitors were losing their grip on the game.

The result is a blow for Tottenham’s top 4 chances as they slipped 6 points behind that objective but they do have a game in hand to play over 4th placed Chelsea, so that chase isn’t over just yet.

For Arsenal the goal is to lift the team up so they have a strong finish to the season and the Gunners have now gone a month in all competitions undefeated and could be heading in the right direction.

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Premier League Game of the Week: Arsenal 4-2 Leeds United

Arsenal won their first game since January 26th by beating Leeds United 4-2 and the day was capped off as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a hat-trick. Aubameyang much like Arsenal this season has underperformed so it was a nice symmetry to proceedings and the Gunners will now have one eye on a European finish after their 10th win of the season.

Aubameyang scored the opening goal of the game with just 13 minutes played as he used quick feet on the edge of the area to shoot into goal and that set the game up for the Gunners. Five minutes before half time and it was 2-0 to Arsenal as Illan Meslier was adjudged to have fouled Bukayo Saka. Whilst it did look like a penalty on repeated views the keeper made next to no contact. Aubameyang made no mistakes in slotting home.

It looked like Arsenal would head into half time with a 2 goal lead but Hector Bellerin an unlikely player to score made it 3. The player burst through and from an acute angle tried his luck and it went in. Leeds also had their chances but Marcelo Bielsa’s side found themselves 3-0 down and this game looked over.

If the match wasn’t finished by the end of the first half it certainly was two minutes into the second half as Aubameyang again scored to complete his hat-trick. He headed in from an unmarked position and to be fair this was a simple goal for the forward, and now it was 4-0.

However this is Leeds, and the way the club play means that they can always get score goals. Perhaps Arsenal could be accused of taking their foot off the gas a little but Leeds started to enjoy more of the ball and chances soon after and pulled a goal back through Pascal Struijk. Raphinha had assisted from the corner and Struijk rose high above the Arsenal defence to put in.

On the 69th minute Leeds scored another through a smart move finished off by Helder Costa now it was 4-2 and there was a small chance perhaps that Leeds were going to stage a dramatic comeback.

However it wasn’t to be and to their credit Arsenal defended well and held on. It was a mature performance from Arsenal who showed their attacking abilities in the first half and apart from a few errors were then able to shore up defence. We have seen in the past from Mikel Arteta’s side how they have failed to keep a lead so this was an important result for the Gunners.

Arsenal leap frogged Leeds with this win and have 34 points. They are only six points adrift of a possible European place and 2 points behind their arch rivals Tottenham albeit that Jose Mourinho’s team has an extra game to play.

As for Leeds they slipped down to 11th but the club will be more than safe this season and have 32 points.

Arsenal will play league leaders Manchester City next weekend at home and that is sure to be quite a spectacle whilst Leeds are away to Wolves and Wolves would overtake Bielsa’s side with victory.

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Premier League: Best 11 Players from Week 24

Manchester City have gone 7 points clear at the top of the Premier League and at this moment another league title looks inevitable for Pep Guardiola’s side. City swept Tottenham aside by beating them 3-0 at the weekend to win their 16th game of the season.

Leicester were brilliant as they stunned an out of sorts Liverpool by coming back from a goal down to beat the current champions 3-1. Leicester have 46 points and that is the same as 2nd placed Manchester United who have won just once in their last five games. Liverpool look out of the title race now and they are 13 points behind Manchester City and the league leaders have a game in hand over them.

Everton, Tottenham and Leeds have dropped off the pace for a European position as they were all beaten at the weekend but Arsenal beat Leeds 4-2 and they are just 5 points from a possible European finish.

Let’s check out the team of the week below and you can see if any of your players have made the grade.

Goalkeeper: Ederson Moraes- Manchester City 10pts

Ederson earned a huge 10 points as he kept a clean sheet against a strong opponent in Tottenham as Manchester City won 3-0. Ederson kept his 14th clean sheet of the season but the story of this game was that Ederson earned extra points as he actually assisted in one of the goals, very rare for a goal keeper.

Defender: Ola Aina- Fulham 7pts

Ola Aina had a superb game for Fulham as they won at Everton 2-0 in perhaps an unlikely result. The beauty of his game is that he helped keep a clean sheet and helped give Fulham 3 huge points and he assisted in the opening goal to cap off a great game for the defender. He is the top defender at Fulham and has 22 points so far.

Defender: Matthew Lowton- Burnley 9pts

Burnley beat Crystal Palace very convincingly at the weekend 3-0 and Matthew Lowton not only kept a clean sheet to earn the points but he also scored the last goal for Sean Dyche’s side. He has 28 points so far.

Defender: Joao Cancelo- Manchester City 5pts

The defender has been one of the best for Manchester City this season and is an integral part of the team. He earned 5 points as City beat Tottenham 3-0 and that means he has kept 12 clean sheets this season and with 64 fantasy points earned is currently the number 1 defender at the club.

Defender: Lewis Dunk- Brighton 5pts

Lewis Dunk now has 28 points for Brighton and he is the best defender for the club presently. Dunk kept his seventh clean sheet of the season and that is impressive for a club like Brighton, who at times, have struggled this season. His value is 7m.

Midfielder: Ilkay Gundogan- Manchester City 10pts

If Manchester City win the league then Ilkay Gundogan would have been a big part of the reason, he has simply been superb for the club and earned a staggering 10 points this week. Gundogan scored 2 goals against Tottenham and now has 13 goals and has also assisted another 5 times so far.

Midfielder: Rodrigo- Manchester City 6pts

Rodrigo opened the scoring for City as they beat Tottenham 3-0. He had to keep his cool to convert the penalty and ultimately that set up the rest of the game. It was an important goal for the midfielder as it was his 1st league goal of the season.

Midfielder: Ruben Neves- Wolves 6pts

Wolves have been under pressure lately but Ruben Neves helped ease that as they beat Southampton away from home 2-1. Neves opened the scoring for his club and then assisted in the match winner for an all round great performance.

Midfielder: Johann Gudmundsson- Burnley 6pts

Burnley went a long way to staying up by beating Crystal Palace 3-0 away from home and there was joy for Gudmundsson who has suffered a few injuries this season but scored the first goal which set up his team for all 3 points.

Striker: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang- Arsenal 14pts

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has had a poor season by his standards by the Arsenal striker was back to his very best as he helped the Gunners beat Leeds United 4-2. Aubameyang scored a fantastic hat-trick including a penalty to put his name back amongst the very best in the Premier League. He has 8 goals so far in the league this season.

Striker: Jay Rodriguez- Burnley 6pts

Jay Rodriguez was able to earn six points at the weekend as Burnley beat Crystal Palace 3-0. Rodriguez scored the 2nd goal after just 10 minutes and assisted in the clubs third goal to wrap up a great win. Rodriguez has scored just once now but he has been injured for a long spell and has a total of 3 points as he was on minus before.

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FA Cup Game of the Round: Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle United

The FA Cup took over from the Premier League for the last week as the 3rd round kicked off and that meant that Premier League clubs could partake. There were not many all Premier League clashes to take place but the one that did stand out was Arsenal v Newcastle United.

Even though both teams did make some changes, many players who ply their trade every week in the Premier League still played. Arsenal won the game 2-0 after an epic battle and the result would have given the Gunners a major confidence boost. Including their good league form Arsenal have now won the last 4 competitive games in a row.

Arsenal were the favourites going into the match and being at home only underlined that status and the Gunners who started with a strong team including Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front started better than the Magpies.

Indeed the first half was dominated by the Gunners who found seven good chances and 3 shots on target. Steve Bruce’s team were under pressure from the first whistle and managed zero shots on target in the first 45 minutes which summed up their game and tactics.

Newcastle woke up in the second half and created more chances but this continued to be Arsenal’s to lose and they really should have scored within the 90 minutes. With the game locked at 0-0 we went into extra time as the new rules state no replays at least for this season- however it is something we should expect to be the norm from now.

The game plan looked simple enough for Newcastle who had been the inferior team but had held on to a 0-0, they were going for the penalty shoot-out and riding their luck. And everything was going to plan for the visitors until the 19th minute of extra time when Arsenal finally broke the dead lock.

Of all the players to give the Gunners the lead it came down to youngster Emile Smith-Rowe who scored after being set up by Alexandre Lacazette. Lacazette has been in super form for Mikel Arteta’s side of late.

The goal came so late it seemed to demolish any plans Newcastle had of a penalty shoot-out and the final nail in the coffin was provided by Aubameyang 3 mins from the end. The striker who has been desperately lacking form latched on to an assist from Kieran Tierney to grab the winning goal and hopefully for him to reinstall some much needed confidence.

The win seemed more important for Arsenal who need to keep up their winning momentum and good form. As for Newcastle they need to get back to winning ways but they still look too good to get involved in a relegation battle. In this season and the way it has been going not having to play the extra cup games could benefit Newcastle and so they can fully concentrate on trying to finish as high as they can in the Premier League.

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has become a reflection of Arsenal’s dire form

Arsenal sit in 15th place with 30% of the Premier League completed, it is their worst start to a campaign in 40 years and perhaps this season for the Gunners has been building up for some time. There have been hints even in the last few seasons with Arsene Wenger in charge- the major difference though is that Wenger’s Arsenal never ever got this poor.

Despite the difficulties since Wenger’s departure, and the travails of both Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta there has been one drop of stardust that everyone at the club could count on, one superb player that stood up, scored goals and ultimately won games for Arsenal and that man was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The French born Gabon international was the real star of Arsenal, he was the Thierry Henry of this generation- a driving force and a natural winner, and it was his goals that inspired the Gunners to what felt like a surprise FA Cup win last season, a surprise yes but also a deserved one as Arsenal rolled back the years in that competition.

Aubameyang shouldn’t be questioned on the face of it since he has scored some very important goals, if he scores, Arsenal win games, at the very least they remain in the match with a chance.

It is worth noting just how many goals Aubameyang has scored for the Gunners, it currently stands at 74 in all competitions. In the league he has netted 56 goals from 97 appearances. This summer when Arsenal were quiet in the transfer market all the fans could talk about was if Aubameyang was going to sign a new contract, if the answer was no then he would be available to leave for free next summer meaning that Arsenal may have cashed in on him before this new delayed season had started.

And Arsenal waited and waited, contract negotiations had been on going we were told since March 2020 and yet Aubameyang finally put pen to paper on September 15th, three days after the new season kicked off. He had made Arsenal sweat but at the end of the day the club are known to be notorious for offering lucrative contracts for players over 30. Aubameyang is 31 but his class was so much that Arsenal were willing to give him a new 3 year contract with improved rates.

Arsenal looked like a new team at times last season under Arteta, more creative, more demanding and with more passion that was sadly missing in the last few months with Emery, and the FA Cup win simply seemed to underline that Arteta was the right man to take Arsenal forward. But three months into the new season it is painfully obvious that Arteta isn’t the right manager.

This isn’t a critic on Arteta who may well turn out to be a fine coach, but the timing seems wrong. Why would a club like Arsenal opt for Arteta who had no experience at managerial level? It seems that being Pep Guardiola’s number 2 at Manchester City and the fact that Arteta played for Arsenal was enough qualification. And yet a club like Everton who have been in the shadows of Arsenal for decades appointed one of the best and respected managers in world football in Carlo Ancelotti, that just seemed to speak volumes about how far Arsenal have fallen and that is just one example.

But back to Aubameyang, the free scoring brilliant striker who signed THAT contract extension. It may amaze to find out that despite playing this season Aubameyang has not scored a single goal since he signed his new contract. He has scored just 2 goals this season from 12 games which came in the Gunners first match of the season, a 3-0 win over Fulham, since then there has been nada as Arteta would say in his natural tongue.

In the past we have seen when Aubameyang does the business so do Arsenal. He is the clubs guiding light not just in getting goals but encouraging the team to do better and believe more in themselves. There just seems to be a lack of purpose at the club presently, as if the Gunners are waiting for Aubameyang to get that first goal which could spark some sort of revival. He will have to hurry up as Arteta’s job is surely on the line though.

Mesut Ozil will ask for forgiveness if he is smirking at what is happening at Arsenal after the play maker was frozen out of the squad by Arteta. Ozil could point out that when everything clicked he provided assists for Aubameyang something that the Gambon international is certainly missing. At the same time Ozil did disappear in many games.

The cure for what is happening is a simple goal, a little luck which in turn could start a winning run. But it has been an unfortunate turn of events, the new contract signed and then up until now nothing to show for it.

Arsenal’s next two games are against tough opposition in Southampton and then Everton, lose both of those and everything could come to ahead. We could be speaking about a possible relegation battle. But football can turn on a sixpence is the old saying, and win those matches with a few Aubameyang goals and everything changes. For now though these are worrying times for Arsenal, Arteta and Aubameyang.

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Premier League Game of the Week: Arsenal 1-2 Wolves

Arsenal have lost again. In losing 2-1 to Wolves the Gunners have made their worst start to a top flight campaign since 1981!

How times have changed at Arsenal where once facing Wolves at home would have been looked at as an easy three points. Now there is trepidation and fear and some of the Gunners team showed that at the weekend.

The match got off to an awful start as David Luiz, the Arsenal defender and Raul Jimenez the Wolves forward accidentally clashed heads when the ball was being crossed in from a corner. Luiz missed the ball and caught Jimenez instead with a loud thud. The reaction of the Wolves players said it all about Jimenez who had to be stretched off. It has been reported since that Jimenez has a fractured skull and will almost certainly be ruled out for the rest of the year and will be looking for a mid January return.

As for Luiz he somehow continued at least until half time after Arsenal had given him some tests on the touchline. However the club need to look at themselves especially with the latest news from the FA who want to look into head injuries in football and the long term implications. The fact that the Gunners took Luiz off at half time speaks volumes.

For the next ten minutes the game looked like it would be petering out with all thoughts on Jimenez but Wolves remembered with respect that there was a game to be won. A ;lucky bounce off the cross bar after a good Wolves attack opened the scoring for Pedro Neto.

At this point it would have been easy for Arsenal to crumble and be sorry for themselves but they soon hit back through Gabriel. The defender rose well to score a great goal and looked to be the unlikely hero of the day for the Gunners. However just before half time a Wolves break again and the ball found Neto looking for his second of the day, his shot was blocked but the reaction of the Arsenal defence, just like for the first goal, was too slow and Daniel Podence who has emerged as a quality player for Wolves pounced to drive the ball into the net for 2-1.

The game finished 2-1 and perhaps the saddest realisation was that Arsenal who had to obviously chase the game in the second half did not record a single shot on target throughout it. Neither did Wolves but Nuno Espirito Santo’s team didn’t need too.

There will be a lot of head scratching going on at the Emirates because in the summer, towards the end of the season, there seemed to be a path, a clearing of the leaves and mist left by Arsene Wenger’s final seasons and layered upon once more by Unai Emery. Arteta seemed to be the man that Arsenal needed. A string of results in the league led to an incredible FA Cup run which seen the club beat Chelsea in the final and win silverware from a season where they looked destined to come up short.

And yet here we are just four months later and if you thought Arsenal salvaging 8th place on the last day of the season was heroic think again. After 10 games Arsenal are in 14th position with 13 points. Five points from a Champions League place doesn’t seem like the end of the world but they are also just six points from the bottom three. If Arsenal were to keep to this standard for the rest of the season they would end up finishing with under 50 points.

Simply put one can look up at the starting 11 for Arsenal and wonder with all conviction if they actually have a good team anymore? Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a brilliant player, but he has gone off the boil over the past few weeks. Questions will now turn to next weekend when Arsenal will face Tottenham away from home and what a crunch game that promises to be.

Some believe that a heavy loss could result in Mikel Arteta being sacked. The omens do not look good for Arteta with Arsenal having lost more games than won now and the fact that this latest home defeat was their third in a row, only sharpens ink on the P45.

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Fantasy Premier League Gameweek 2 Picks

All 20 Premier League teams will be in action this weekend for the first time in 2020-21, with four games on Saturday, four on Sunday and the final two of the gameweek taking place on Monday night.

Manchester City and Manchester United were given last weekend off due to their involvement in European competition abroad last month. The Citizens start their campaign away to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday night, whilst Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side host Crystal Palace on Saturday evening.

Here are our fantasy football suggestions for the weekend:

Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford (Everton)
Everton started the season with a 1-0 win away to Tottenham Hotspur last weekend as Carlo Ancelotti handed debuts to three of his summer signings. Allan did an excellent job in protecting the back four whilst James Rodriguez created a number of chances in the opening half.

The Toffees welcome West Bromwich Albion to Goodison Park on Saturday lunchtime with the newly-promoted side having been beaten 0-3 at home by Leicester City without really causing any problems for the opposition. Slaven Bilic’s side may not see much better luck this weekend against an organised defence so Jordan Pickford should be a good pick between the sticks.

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EPL Predictions Gameweek 1

The 2020-21 English Premier League season kicks off in London on Saturday lunchtime as Fulham play host to Arsenal.

Eight matches in all will take place on the opening weekend, concluding with Brighton & Hove Albion hosting Frank Lampard’s Chelsea.

With Manchester United and Manchester City competing in the latter stages of European competition last month the two clubs have been given the opening weekend off, to explain the shorter schedule.

Here’s a look at each of the weekend’s games:

Fulham vs Arsenal

Arsenal have won the FA Cup and Community Shield in Mikel Arteta’s first couple of months in charge and should fancy their chances of picking up three points in their season opener too. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would be the obvious selection for your fantasy team given the forward has scored 22 goals in each of the past two seasons, whilst Dani Ceballos (3.50m) and Damian Martinez (1.0m) offer good value for money in this game.

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Fantasy Premier League Gameweek 1 Picks

The English Premier League returns on Saturday as Fulham entertain Arsenal in the opener of the 2020-21 season.

With the return of the most exciting league in the world sparks the return of the fantasy football season too. Week 1 is always the busiest for players as they select a team from scratch with an eye on both the following week and the entire season in mind.

This season is perhaps more difficult than ever as Manchester City, Manchester United, Burnley and Aston Villa don’t feature the opening weekend as a result of the former two’s participation in the latter stages of last season’s Champions League and Europa League campaigns.

With that in mind, here are 11 players who you should strongly consider for the opening weekend:

Goalkeeper: Aaron Ramsdale
Dean Henderson returned to Manchester United at the conclusion of the last campaign and Sheffield United have replaced their successful loan signing with Aaron Ramsdale in goal. The Blades have kept a number of clean sheets over the past two seasons and the former Bournemouth man is a shot stopper so could pick up some points versus Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday.

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What is stopping Aubameyang from signing a new contract at Arsenal?

You either love the club you play for or you don’t? You either believe they have ambition to match your own, or you don’t? So why hasn’t Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang signed new contract yet?

It is a question that every Arsenal fan wants to know, but it is also interesting for any fan of football. Speculation has been raging since the beginning of the year as it became clear just how important Aubameyang is to Arsenal. Since his arrival in 2018 the Gunners have struggled by their standards, but Aubameyang has got them out of jail so many times his boots may might as well hold chance and community chest cards from Monopoly.

In short Aubameyang is a quality player, perhaps Arsenal’s one and truly only quality player. He scores goals, he creates goals, he is a delight to watch and is worth every penny of the reported £56 million that Arsenal gave Borussia Dortmund for him.

As it stands Aubameyang is entering his final season with the club, one which has not been able to qualify for the Champions League since his arrival. Surely this is the competition he wants to play in. He is 31 now and time is running out. Arsenal’s options are for him to sign an extended contract, or sell him within the next month, otherwise he will go for free at the end of this season coming up.

Usually statistics can be overused and to some extent make little sense in relevance of how the game is actually played out, but in a strikers case, all is transparent, after all they are on the pitch to do one thing, to score goals, that really is their job. And Aubameyang is surely one of the deadliest strikers in Europe. But there is irony that he is playing for a top club in Arsenal, but who are going through one of their worst situations of the past 30 years. Forget the recent FA Cup win, that was great and yet again it was Aubameyang’s goals that brought home the trophy, remember instead that the Gunners finished 8th this season. That was poor, and shouldn’t be brushed under the carpet.

So for much of the year the papers and media around the world have told us Aubameyang is going to sign a new contract, no doubt about it. The season because of the delayed response to the pandemic finally ended in mid July, we are now in September and no contract has been signed that we are aware of. In mid August the rumour mill went into overdrive when Aubameyang himself tweeted an hour glass suggesting that there would be a countdown and he would be signing a contract. Three weeks later we have nothing.

Maybe admin is simply getting in the way, maybe he is asking for too much, contract tweeks and the like, and it really is only a matter of days before he signs. But even if he does sign, which of course will be great news, why did it take him so long? During the season made sense in a way as he wanted to know if Arsenal would be in Europe next season, and what would their standing be? Could it be that he is waiting to see who Arsenal sign?

It looks likely that Aubameyang will sign, with just a few days until the new season kicks off that would feel like a low blow to the club if they had to sell him. At the same time the window doesn’t close until October 5th.

But even if he signs the fact that he has waited this long almost shows a lack of belief in his employers, and one has to wonder if that is a good thing or not going into the new season.

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