Arsenal 0 Burnley 0

Arsenal missed out on a chance to return to the Premier League’s top four after they were held at the Emirates Stadium by bottom club Burnley. Forward Alexandre Lacazette went closest for the Gunners, poking an Emile Smith Rowe cutback narrowly wide midway through the second half. Smith Rowe also forced a fine diving stop from Burnley keeper Nick Pope in the second period while Martin Odegaard was denied by the stopper’s feet with a powerful effort in the first half.

A draw for Burnley ended a run of three straight defeats with the Clarets now four points off safety having played four games fewer than 17th-placed Norwich City. Meanwhile Arsenal, now winless in their past five matches in all competitions, go sixth, two points off Manchester United in fourth. Arsenal will be pleased to see the back of January, so far in 2022 the Gunners have been dumped out of the EFL and FA Cups and have lost three of their past four matches. Arsenal dominated possession but were frequently frustrated in the first half by their opponent’s low-block.

After the break, the hosts upped the tempo, but Bukayo Saka, Smith Rowe, Odegaard and Lacazette all failed to hit the net despite finding themselves in promising positions. This season appears to be Champions League qualification or nothing for Mikel Arteta’s team, making their dropped points against their injury-hit opponents all the more infuriating for supporters. A small section of home fans booed their team off at full-time, the five-game winning streak at the end of 2021 an increasingly distant memory.

Arsenal 0 Liverpool 2

Liverpool reached their first Wembley final for six years as a double from “world-class striker” Diogo Jota set up a Wembley date with Chelsea in the Carabao Cup. Jota brilliantly filled the gaps left by Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane – away at the Africa Cup of Nations – as his lethal finishing wrecked Arsenal’s trophy hopes for this season after a goalless semi-final first leg at Anfield. Arsenal started impressively, Alexandre Lacazette hitting the woodwork from a free-kick, but Liverpool struck after 19 minutes when Jota’s scuffed shot after a fine run beat scrambling Arsenal keeper Aaron Ramsdale.

Lacazette missed Arsenal’s best chance after the break, shooting over when clean through, but Liverpool had chances of their own and sealed their first final in this competition since the 2016 loss to Manchester City when Jota ran on to Trent Alexander-Arnold’s pass and lofted a precise finish over Ramsdale with 13 minutes left, the goal given by VAR after initially being disallowed for offside. The banks of empty seats at Emirates Stadium told the story of the bitter disappointment of the Arsenal fans as their night of big expectation fizzled out. The Gunners started at a high tempo but struggled to regain their rhythm after Jota’s early strike and now a place in the top four in the Premier League is their only aim this season.

There is lots of youthful promise in this Arsenal side, but the shock FA Cup loss at Championship side Nottingham Forest and now this defeat will be a deflating experience. The cancellation of the first leg meant Arsenal had the psychological advantage of the second leg at home, and hopes were high after a brilliant backs-to-the-wall performance at Anfield. Instead, they lost their way and Arsenal’s big chance came and went when Lacazette’s poor finish when clean through wasted their opportunity for an equaliser. Liverpool pounced and Arsenal once more showed that strain of indiscipline when Partey, with the game over, lunged into a nonsensical challenge on Fabinho to bring their night to a thoroughly abject conclusion.

Arsenal Transfer News : 19-January-2022

Pablo Mari is holding his medical at Udinese today ahead of a potential loan move from Arsenal, according to a report. A deal for Pablo Mari to join Udinese on loan is expected to be completed today, as the player is undergoing his medical in Italy. Romano previously reported that Udinese had come to an agreement with Arsenal for a straight loan until June with no purchase option. Mari has hardly featured at all for Arsenal this season, playing just three times in all competitions. Even calling the centre-back a “squad option” is too generous, as he’s only made the squad in 10 matches of Arsenal’s 26.

It was clear going into the month that the 28-year-old needed a loan or a permanent move to get things going again. Fortunately, it seems Udinese are offering him that opportunity. Mari struggled in his opening Premier League fixtures of the campaign, as Arsenal lost to Brentford and Chelsea. Combine that with Gabriel Magalhaes’ strong form and Ben White settling in quickly alongside him, and it’s not hard to see why Mikel Arteta has been opting for others. Plus Arteta seems to want Holding as the backup central defender. Ideally, the defender will start to show his abilities again on loan, and he and Arsenal will be in a stronger position to assess his next steps in the summer.

Sead Kolasinac has joined Marseille on an 18-month deal after his Arsenal contract was mutually terminated six months early. The 28-year-old joined the Gunners in the summer of 2017 following the expiry of his Schalke contract and went on to make more than 100 appearances for the club. But Kolasinac fell out of favour under Mikel Arteta and made just two Premier League appearances this season. Kolasinac won one FA Cup and two Community Shields during his time in north London. The Bosnia and Herzegovina international becomes the third player to leave the Emirates this month, following Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ loan move to Roma and Folarin Balogun’s temporary switch to Middlesbrough.

Despite all the loan movements out and Kolasinac leaving, we are yet to sign the midfielder(s) that we desperately need and the Dusan Vlahovic saga keeps churning on. Same for Arthur Melo of Juventus. After 19 days, it is getting boring!

Liverpool 0 Arsenal 0

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta praised his side’s “fight, determination and brotherhood” after the 10-man Gunners frustrated Liverpool in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final at Anfield. Granit Xhaka was dismissed after 24 minutes for denying a goalscoring opportunity – the Swiss midfielder catching Diogo Jota with a high challenge on the edge of his penalty area as he attempted to cut out Andrew Robertson’s pass. Trent Alexander-Arnold could not punish Arsenal further from the resulting free-kick, however, and the visitors produced a resolute defensive display to leave on level terms. Despite coming under intense pressure it was Arsenal who registered the first shot on target 71 minutes into the contest, but a poor first touch by Bukayo Saka allowed Alisson to smother the England international’s shot at close range.

Takumi Minamino blazed over the crossbar when faced with an open goal with Liverpool’s best chance of the match in the closing stages. The second leg takes place at Emirates Stadium next Thursday at 19:45 GMT. The winner will face Chelsea in the final at Wembley at the end of February, after Thomas Tuchel’s side completed a 3-0 aggregate victory over Tottenham on Wednesday. Eight-time EFL Cup winners Liverpool had lost home advantage for the second leg after a Covid outbreak in their squad saw the planned first meeting in north London postponed until 20 January. A number of those cases turned out to be false positives – though the EFL has said it will not be investigating further – but despite being able to field a strong side the Reds were unable to make the most of their home leg against 10-man opposition. Both sides have lost key players to the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations but it was the absence of top scorer Mohamed Salah and fellow forward Sadio Mane which proved most noticeable as Liverpool struggled to break Arsenal down.

Minamino flashed a ball across the six-yard box as the hosts pressed for a breakthrough with greater urgency in the second half, but Jurgen Klopp’s forward trio that also included Jota and Roberto Firmino could not produce the necessary quality in the final third. On a challenging night for the visitors, Martin Odegaard missed out following a positive Covid test and Xhaka’s dismissal – in addition to Thomas Partey’s Afcon participation – has compounded Arteta’s midfield issue ahead of Sunday’s north London derby at Tottenham. Xhaka’s undeniable red card saw Rob Holding replace Eddie Nketiah and Alexandre Lacazette subsequently cut a lonely figure in attack as his team-mates worked tirelessly to protect Aaron Ramsdale’s goal. But the Arsenal goalkeeper’s only moments of real concern arrived in the final moments, as Minamino struck over after Ramsdale failed to claim the ball – while the excellent Ben White was back to clear Neco Williams’ attempt in stoppage time.

Arsenal Transfer Rumours – 13th January 2022

Youri Tielemans’ agent is reportedly in talks with the Gunners. Leicester’s Belgium midfielder would represent an upgrade on many of the names suggested for filling one of Mikel Arteta’s problem positions. And this month would be the Foxes’ last month to cash in as Tielemans is out of contract at the end of the season. But Liverpool too have been linked with the ex-Monaco ace, 24. Meanwhile, Arsenal and West Ham have been monitoring Eintracht Frankfurt left-winger Filip Kostic. The 24-year-old central midfielder has been one of the best midfielders in the English Premier League but has only 18 months remaining on his contract. Leicester City will be looking to extend his contract in the coming weeks but the player’s stance to sign a new deal or not will depend on how they finish this season.

Aiming to do business quickly this January with Mikel Arteta currently dealing with a threadbare midfield, their pursuit has taken them to Turin where a loan deal is edging ever closer to being finalised for Arthur Melo. The Brazilian would join until the end of the season to cover for the Gunners’ current deficiencies – and could even spark a January exit for Mohamed Elneny who is wanted in Turkey. But the Brazil international will be allowed to leave only if his club can find a replacement. Arthur is understood to be open to joining Arsenal and talks are continuing over the 25-year-old, who moved to Juventus from Barcelona in June 2020 for an initial €72m. The Premier League club are ready to cover his full salary. Arthur has more often been a substitute than a starter since returning from injury in October. He came on during Juventus’s Supercoppa Italiana defeat by Internazionale on Wednesday night.

Fiorentina are demanding the majority of their €75m asking price – just above £60m – for Dusan Vlahovic up front, potentially prohibiting a move to the Premier League this January. The Serbian international, who has scored 16 goals in 20 games in Serie A already this season, is one of the most sought-after players in Europe. Reports ass that Arsenal are willing to meet Fiorentina’s transfer valuation – as long as they agree on the structure of the deal – as they attempt to sign the player this month. The Gunners want to pay the club record transfer fee over four years and can afford the Serbian striker without selling Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Fiorentina’s ‘reluctancy’ to agree to this is doing Arsenal no favours. The report adds that a release clause in Vlahovic’s contract will become active in the summer, so the player will likely have more options then. Arsenal remain confident they can “put the necessary package together” and strike a deal in the January window.

Folarin Balagun Joins Middelsborough FC On Loan

Middelsborough FC have finalised a loan move for Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun. The England Under-21 international has joined the club until the end of the season. Boro fought off competition from a number of clubs to secure the services of the highly-rated young marksman. Balogun, who has made two Premier League appearances this season, has clocked up 16 in total for the London club and scored twice in five Europa League appearances last time around. He has also netted 13 goals in 11 PL2 starts this term, along with two goals in the Papa John’s Trophy.

Boro boss Chris Wilder said: “We’re delighted to get Flo in. He’s a player I’ve known about for a long time and we identified him as someone who could come in and improve us in the second half of the season. “He has great movement, good pace, and he’s a natural finisher. We’re looking forward to working with him.” The 20-year-old follows Aaron Connolly and Caolan Boyd-Munce into the club as January arrivals. Boro are one point off the play-off positions in seventh place but off the back of a six-game unbeaten run are well placed for a promotion push. They also have a big game with Manchester United on the horizon having drawn the Red Devils in the FA Cup fourth round.

Balogun’s loan move comes as no surprise despite the question marks hanging over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Eddie Nketiah and Alex Lacazette. The American-born forward was prolific throughout his time with the youth set-up, most notably in 2018/19 when he fired our under-18s to the league title with 25 goals from just 19 appearances. He transferred this form to the first team last season, scoring twice in the Europa League from just five substitute appearances. Balogun has continued to make an impact this season, with an impressive 15 goals from his 14 appearances in the PL2 and EFL Trophy during the campaign so far.

Nottingham Forest 1 Arsenal 0

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta apologised for his side’s display after they were knocked out of the FA Cup in the third round by Nottingham Forest for the second time in four years. Lewis Grabban slid home Ryan Yates’ inviting cross seven minutes from time to shock the 14-time winners. The Gunners appeared to have turned a corner of late but were lacklustre against their Championship opponents. Arteta made numerous changes but England winger Bukayo Saka, Norway playmaker Martin Odegaard and in-form Gabriel Martinelli all played at the City Ground. Forest, resurgent under manager Steve Cooper, can now look forward to an East Midlands derby and another meeting with a Premier League side, holders Leicester City, in the fourth round.

The Championship side, who beat the Gunners 4-2 at the same stage in 2018 and have not lost a home tie in six years, were physical from the start. Cooper was delighted with his side’s battling display, the latest in a series of impressive performances since he took charge in September. Arteta’s frustration was illustrated when he substituted left-back Nuno Tavares – whose performance was summed up by a wild back pass that visiting keeper Bernd Leno had to chest away from goal – for Kieran Tierney after 34 minutes. The Portuguese defender threw his gloves away as he left the field and did not acknowledge his manager on the sidelines. After the break, Leno denied Philip Zinckernegal when he connected sweetly with Johnson’s inviting cross then kept out Joe Garner’s powerful free kick.

But with eight minutes left, substitute Grabban met Yates’ cross to condemn Arsenal to another third-round exit in the East Midlands. There were nearly 25,000 packed into the City Ground and the crowd clearly inspired Cooper’s men, who won battles all over the pitch. Djed Spence, on loan from Middlesbrough, was particularly impressive at right-back, nullifying Martinelli. Arsenal had been warned of the threat Forest posed from crosses early in the second half, but they didn’t learn and paid the price on a miserable night for Arteta’s men. Arsenal, who were wearing an all-white kit in support of the ‘No More Red’ campaign against knife crime, have improved their form in recent weeks so this is a setback they will not have expected. They were unlucky against Premier League leaders Manchester City on New Year’s Day but failed to show any of the same application here.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles Signs On Loan For As Roma

AS Roma have signed English midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles on loan from Arsenal. The Italian side were linked with the versatile midfielder for a long time and now finally landed their target on a six-month loan. This loan does not extend with an option to buy at the end of the season so both clubs can negotiate transfer fees later in the summer. It is reported that Roma have paid just a £500,000 loan fee plus his wages in full to sign the midfielder.

Maitland-Niles has been struggling for regular game time at Emirates Stadium, has made just 8 appearances this season, and only 2 as a starter, with no goal or assist to his name. Last season he was sent to West Bromwich Albion on a six-month loan. Maitland-Niles started his youth career at Arsenal academy and has made overall 72 appearances and scored just 1 goal. The 24-year-old midfielder, who is highly effective in the right wing-back role and as a box-to-box midfielder will join Jose Mourinho’s side, who have been struggling this season. Italian giants sit in 7th position in Serie A table with just 32 points in hand, 14 points behind leaders Inter Milan and 6 points behind 4th placed Atalanta, who have played a game less.

Roma are playing with a 3-4-1-2 formation this season, which offers a right-midfielder role to Maitland-Niles. But Dutch wing-back Rick Karsdorp has been regular in that position, so Mourinho may be planning a rotational or back-up role for Maitland-Niles. It will not be enough for the player who needs to play more in this stage of his career. A loan move to Premier League clubs or a permanent exit to Championship or bottom-lying league clubs would have been fruitful for the English midfielder.

Arsenal 1 Manchester City 2

Rodri scored a stoppage-time winner as Manchester City beat 10-man Arsenal in an incident-packed encounter to move 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League. That advantage will be cut to some extent on Sunday when second-placed Chelsea host third-placed Liverpool, although no team has failed to win the Premier League title when beginning the new year with a lead as big as City’s. Arsenal looked to have held out for a draw, but Rodri steered in a loose ball in the 93rd minute to help City claim an 11th successive league win in a game that also had two major VAR incidents and an avoidable red card for Gunners defender Gabriel Magalhaes.

The hosts were the better side early on at Emirates Stadium, and Bukayo Saka swept in a deserved opener to finish off a slick move before the Gunners self-destructed after the break. Riyad Mahrez levelled from the penalty spot after Bernardo Silva was brought down by Granit Xhaka, referee Stuart Attwell overturning his initial decision after viewing the pitch-side monitor. Arsenal felt aggrieved at that call after their own shouts for a penalty in the first half were denied following a long VAR check for Ederson’s tackle on Martin Odegaard. But one minute after conceding from a penalty Gabriel was sent off for two yellow cards in quick succession, the first for trying to scuff up the spot and the second for a foul on Gabriel Jesus. Arsenal, whose manager Mikel Arteta was forced to watch from home following a positive Covid-19 test, remain fourth in the table.

City are the blueprint for Arsenal in terms of their playing style and philosophy and, while a young Gunners side remain some way behind in their evolution under former City assistant manager Arteta, they showed how far they have come this season. Pep Guardiola found his City team up against a completely different outfit to the one they dismantled 5-0 in August to briefly send Arsenal to the bottom of the table. Guardiola said beforehand this would be the best Arsenal team he has faced during his time in England, despite Arteta – the Gunners’ “most important player”, according to Guardiola – having to watch this one unfold from home. With assistant Albert Stuivenberg on the touchline, the energetic hosts swarmed and pressed in an electric opening half an hour.

They capitalised on their dominant start with a goal out of the leaders’ playbook, Ben White winning back possession and starting a swift counter-attack which ended when Kieran Tierney slid a ball weighted perfectly for Saka to send a first-time finish into the bottom corner. It was only the second first-half goal Manchester City have conceded in the league this season. An earlier slick move had put Martin Odegaard in behind the City defence only for goalkeeper Ederson to get a toe to the ball, with the video assistant referee taking a long look before agreeing with the on-field decision that it was not a penalty. Perhaps that added to Arsenal’s frustration when they had a penalty awarded against them after VAR intervened, but a momentary loss of composure cost them.

Gabriel’s two yellow cards came either side of Gabriel Martinelli striking the bar in what was a frantic few minutes after Mahrez levelled from the spot. Arsenal were forced to dig in and defend after that and looked to have done enough until a hopeful cross from the right dropped to midfielder Rodri, who poked the ball beyond Aaron Ramsdale. Despite their improvement, it means Arsenal have lost all five of their Premier League meetings under Arteta against former mentor Guardiola.

Arsenal Transfer News 30-12-2021 & Arteta Covid Infection

News broke that a deal to send Ainsley Maitland-Niles to Roma on an initial loan move was progressing nicely, suddenly the midfield took over the conversation. If and when he goes Mikel Arteta will have only two senior options to choose from over January: Sambi Lokonga and Xhaka. Arsenal can land Bruno Guimaraes from Lyon on bargain transfer fee of £38m – really, that is a bargain for a player of his quality. It turns attentions to the market where Arsenal must be looking to reinforce given their willingness to sanction Maitland-Niles’ departure. There are internal solutions, but none with the experience needed to aid the cause. One of the players linked with a move to Arsenal back in the summer, when it looked like Xhaka might be on the move, was Bruno Guimarães, and the Brazilian has remained a fan favourite ever since.

Mikel Arteta will miss Arsenal’s match against Manchester City on New Year’s Day after testing positive for Covid-19. The Spaniard, who also contracted the virus in March 2020 prompting the shutdown of football at the start of the pandemic, is now isolating. Despite the positive test, the Arsenal manager is still planning to speak to the media from his home on Thursday to preview the match against City. Arteta will face an isolation period of one week. At present, people who receive negative lateral flow results on day six and day seven of their self-isolation period – with tests taken 24 hours apart – no longer have to stay indoors for a full 10 days.

A mountain of names have been mentioned in recent weeks for strikers with differing profiles, as the likes of Dusan Vlahovic, Arthur Cabral, Jonathan David and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have been banded about in connection with the Gunners. One of the newer names to emerge among the rest is Patrik Schick, who has emerged as a potential 2022 target for a number of Premier League clubs, including Manchester City. A standout name at Euro 2020 in the summer, notably scoring from his own half against Scotland to get a nomination for the Puskas awards, the Czech international has continued his fine form into club level where his tally of 16 goals for Bayer Leverkusen has him second in the Bundesliga top scoring charts.

Norwich City 0 Arsenal 5

Arsenal secured their fourth Premier League victory in a row as they ran out comfortable winners at Carrow Road and heaped more misery on bottom-of-the-table Norwich. Bukayo Saka opened the scoring after six minutes when he guided a low shot past Angus Gunn at the end of a slick Arsenal attack. The impressive Martin Odegaard, who teed up Saka’s opener, then sent Kieran Tierney through to score the away side’s second just before half-time. Saka added a fine third before Alexandre Lacazette’s penalty and substitute Emile Smith Rowe’s stoppage-time strike wrapped up a stress-free win for Mikel Arteta’s side.

The victory meant the Gunners maintained their six-point lead over fifth-placed Tottenham, while Norwich must regroup after a 12th defeat of the season. Canaries boss Dean Smith admitted he “didn’t see that coming” after watching his side go “toe-to-toe” in defeats by Manchester United and Aston Villa. The game marked two years since Arteta’s first in charge of the Gunners and the Spaniard can be pleased with where his side are ahead of Tuesday’s home encounter against Wolves. They were 11th and 14th after their Boxing Day games in 2019 and 2020 respectively, but have improved enough to suggest that a first top-four finish since 2016 is not beyond their capabilities.

Arsenal looked sharp from the start and were quickly rewarded when Tierney pounced on Ozan Kabak’s poor pass, allowing the visitors to string together a neat passing move involving Gabriel Martinelli, Lacazette and Odegaard that was finished off by Saka. Despite Arsenal’s dominance, Norwich looked as though they would get in at the break just one down before Martinelli’s enthusiasm to win the ball back allowed the Brazilian to find Odegaard in space, who put Tierney through to score via the woodwork. Saka rubbed salt into Norwich wounds when he beat Gunn from outside the box, and while the England attacker went off soon after, the Arsenal goals continued to flow as Lacazette slotted home a penalty after being fouled by Kabak before Smith Rowe netted for the fourth league game in a row.

Arsenal 5 Sunderland 1

Eddie Nketiah continued his prolific form in the Carabao Cup with a clinical hat-trick as Arsenal saw off League One Sunderland to book their spot in the semi-finals. The forward turned in from close range to open the scoring after Rob Holding’s header was palmed into his path and Nicolas Pepe soon doubled the hosts’ lead. That looked to have put the Gunners in control only for Sunderland to hit back when Nathan Broadhead coolly clipped over the onrushing Bernd Leno from Elliot Embleton’s superbly-weighted pass. But Nketiah cleverly turned in a low Nuno Tavares cross straight after the break to re-establish the lead. The 22-year-old saved his best until last, though, flicking Pepe’s pass between his legs and beyond goalkeeper Lee Burge.

Arsenal’s 18-year-old debutant Charlie Patino then capped a superb night for the Gunners with an injury-time fifth at Emirates Stadium. Sunderland were competitive but, despite Embleton curling against a post from distance, the visitors struggled to contain their top-flight hosts and it was a comfortable victory for Mikel Arteta’s men. Arsenal will discover their last-four opponents on Wednesday when the draw takes place after Tottenham host West Ham. Arteta celebrated his two-year anniversary as Arsenal boss on Monday and, while he has already delivered silverware in the form of the 2019-20 FA Cup, it feels for the first time like the Spaniard is beginning to see his desired philosophy take hold. Without the distraction of European football, the Gunners are fourth in the top flight and can now look forward to a cup semi-final too.

Despite having Albert Sambi Lokonga, Pablo Mari and Calum Chambers missing after positive Covid tests, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles absent with illness, Arteta was still able to make nine changes from the side that beat Leeds 4-1. League Cup specialist Nketiah was one of those to come in and produced a goalscoring performance that will have him knocking on the door for more first-team involvement. The forward has now scored five in three games on Arsenal’s run to the last four, but has only seen 38 minutes of Premier League action this season and reportedly turned down a new contract, with his current deal ending in the summer. Nketiah netted all three of his goals from around the six-yard box as the poacher bundled in the opener with his knee, got across his marker to steer Tavares’ whipped ball in for his second and then added a delightful third.

Pepe got Arsenal’s second in the 27th minute, finishing smartly after combining down the right with Cedric Soares, and it seemed Arsenal were cruising, only for Sunderland to respond four minutes later. Embleton had almost scored a bizarre own goal earlier, diverting a pass onto his own crossbar, but measured an excellent pass into Broadhead’s path for the Everton loanee to finish a swift break. That was the first time Arsenal had conceded in the competition this season and they seized control after the restart as Nketiah completed his treble in the 58th minute. That allowed Arteta to bring on highly-rated teenager Patino, born during the Gunners’ Invincibles season of 2003-04, and the midfielder slotted into the corner from Pepe’s ball just 11 minutes into his first senior appearance.

Leeds United 1 Arsenal 4

Two goals from Gabriel Martinelli helped Arsenal sweep past an injury-hit Leeds at Elland Road to secure their third successive Premier League victory. Martinelli’s double and Bukayo Saka’s deflected effort made it 3-0 before half-time as the Gunners ruthlessly capitalised on an error-strewn Leeds performance. Raphinha pulled one back from the penalty spot in the second half, before Arsenal substitute Emile Smith Rowe wrapped up an emphatic victory for Mikel Arteta’s side late on. “I think we did our job and we played so well. It was a great performance,” Martinelli told BBC Sport. “I was trying to score more but the most important thing is the victory.”

The scoreline could have been greater but for an impressive performance by Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier, who made fine stops to deny Saka, Alexandre Lacazette, Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney. On Christmas Day last year Arsenal were 15th in Premier League and only four points above relegation zone. Twelve months on and they are guaranteed to be in the top four on 25 December for the first time in five years. Mikel Arteta is looking to build his side around a core group of young players and the fact all four goals were scored by players aged 21 or under suggests that policy is starting to bear fruit. They were helped by some sloppy Leeds defending, but the Gunners front four of Saka, Martinelli, Martin Odegaard and Lacazette ruthlessly capitalised on any mistakes. They managed 11 shots on target in the first half, the most by any side in the opening 45 minutes of a Premier League match since Opta started registering such statistics in 2003-04.

All this was achieved without striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who was left out of the squad following a disciplinary breach. Martinelli is one of the players to benefit from Aubameyang’s absence, starting five successive Premier League games for the first time in his Gunners career. For Leeds, the defeat caps a difficult week that has included a last-gasp defeat at Chelsea and 7-0 hammering at Manchester City, though their cause has not been helped by a crippling injury list which has now robbed boss Marcelo Bielsa of 10 players. If little could be done to prevent their long casualty list, their problems on the pitch were largely of their own making. Leeds players were guilty of repeatedly giving the ball away in dangerous areas, with only the impressive Meslier preventing Arsenal from scoring more. They showed spirit to fight their way back into the game in the second half, and the Elland Road crowd continued to loudly back the players and manager Bielsa.

Arsenal 2 West Ham United 0

Arsenal overtook opponents West Ham and moved into fourth place in the Premier League by winning an eventful match at Emirates Stadium. Gabriel Martinelli scored the opener early in the second half before substitute Emile Smith Rowe confirmed victory for the Gunners late on. Arsenal captain Alexandre Lacazette also had a penalty saved by goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski in the second half. West Ham’s Vladimir Coufal was sent off for a second booking in conceding the penalty as he was judged to have fouled Lacazette in the box.

Coufal had been booked in the first half when his flailing arm caught defender Kieran Tierney in the face, inciting protest from the Arsenal players. Tierney later hit the crossbar, while there were further chances for Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel as Arsenal were the better side throughout. The significance of this result on the league standings was felt in an intense and feisty encounter. Coufal’s unintentional foul on Tierney in the first half incited protest from Arsenal’s players, before referee Anthony Taylor quickly defused the situation with a yellow card. A few heavy tackles followed before Taylor had to speak with Arsenal’s coaching staff near the touchline. The hosts began to dominate on the field though – as well as Tierney’s strike clipping the crossbar, West Ham centre-back Craig Dawson was forced to make numerous blocks.

Saka was Arsenal’s biggest threat down the right and he was involved in the build-up to Tierney’s effort, before he teed up Lacazette’s shot which was parried into the path of Martinelli and poked inches wide. In the second half, Saka himself came close too, while West Ham’s best chances fell to Pablo Fornals and Jarrod Bowen – neither really troubling goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale. The sending off of Coufal – which West Ham understandably felt was unjust – did not make too much difference and despite a late surge from the visitors, Arsenal were able to see it off through Smith Rowe’s late goal.

Arsenal Strip Aubameyang Of Captaincy & He Won’t Play Against West Ham

Arsenal have stripped Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of the club captaincy following a disciplinary breach last week. Aubameyang was left out of the squad for Saturday’s match against Southampton, and Arsenal confirmed their decision to remove the forward as captain on Tuesday. The club also said Aubameyang will not be available for selection against West Ham on Wednesday.

“We expect all our players, particularly our captain, to work to the rules and standards we have all set and agreed,” the club said in a statement. “We are fully focused on tomorrow’s match.” Mikel Arteta is due to give a press conference this afternoon, while the Arsenal manager previously said: “I think we have been very consistent that we have certain non-negotiables in the team that we have set ourselves as a club.” Arteta was tight-lipped on the reasons for Aubameyang’s absence, refusing to comment when asked if the striker had returned late from a trip abroad.

This is not going to be a problem for Aubameyang because he’s got an unbelievable contract at the club. However, it’s a major problem for Arsenal. Who’s going to take him on those wages? Absolutely nobody in the whole wide world. And there’s his age too. If he was 27, they’d be queuing up around the corner for him, but not now at the age of 32. He turned up late for a meeting before and got left out of the side to face Tottenham. He’s the example. There are a lot of young players in that team who will look up to him. If you are the manager, of course you’d be disappointed. He’s been made captain of Arsenal Football Club. It’s a big thing and not just a run-of-the-mill thing. And with all the promising young kids at the club, he needs to set the example.

Arsenal 3 Southampton 0

Arsenal boosted their Champions League qualification hopes as they cruised past Southampton at Emirates Stadium despite captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang being dropped from the squad. Stand-in skipper Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring for the Gunners in the 21st minute, finishing off a superb 16-pass team move. And Martin Odegaard doubled the lead six minutes later, heading home from close range. Arsenal dominated throughout and added a third after 62 minutes with defender Gabriel nodding in a Gabriel Martinelli corner. The Gunners jump up to fifth in the Premier League table, one point off the top four, while Southampton stay 16th.

All the pre-match talk was around Aubameyang, with Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta saying the striker was missing out “due to a disciplinary breach”. It is not the first time the Spaniard has dropped Aubameyang for disciplinary reasons. In March, the Gabon international missed a win over rivals Tottenham for a “breach of pre-match protocol”. But after a slow start, pre-match incidents were soon forgotten as Lacazette converted Bukayo Saka’s cross, completing a team move that started with keeper Aaron Ramsdale. And minutes later Arsenal grabbed a second with Odegaard meeting Kieran Tierney’s header to score a third goal in as many matches. Arsenal’s dominance continued after the break with Gabriel scoring moments after he had had a goal chalked off for offside.

Martinelli then curled a strike against the post midway through the second half, with Saka also striking the woodwork and Takehiro Tomiyasu forcing a fine stop from keeper Willy Caballero. The hosts continued to impress in the closing stages, winning in style to end a run of back-to-back defeats. With Saints keeper Alex McCarthy out with a thigh injury and deputy Fraser Forster also missing, Ralph Hasenhuttl handed a debut to emergency signing Caballero. His first call to action was to pick the ball out of his net, with Southampton second best for much of the 90 minutes. At the other end, the visitors were limited to shots from range with Arsenal stopper Ramsdale making a number of routine saves. The result means Southampton are now winless in 23 Premier League matches at Arsenal, the longest by any club away from home in the competition’s history.

Arsenal Transfer Rumours : Hunting Around For A Top Striker

With contracts for forward pair Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah still yet to be resolved and speculation surrounding the future of the out-of-sorts Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the Gunners are tipped to splash out on some more firepower in the New Year. Off the back of a busy summer of spending, it seems Arsenal could be set for more movement when the transfer window opens in under a month’s time. One such name who is being touted with a move to Arsenal is that of Inter Milan forward Lautaro Martinez.

Tottenham were reportedly trying to sign him in the summer, but it appears the Argentine could well end up on the red side of the north London divide. According to in-the-know journalist Fabrizio Romano, the Gunners are planning to sign an “important striker” in the near future and Martinez is very much on the radar. Inter has admitted the interest from Arsenal but would prefer to sell, if at all, in the summer. Despite failing to find the net in any of Inter’s six Champions League group games, the 24-year-old has been in a rich vein of form domestically, having struck eight times in 14 Serie A appearances so far this term.

Perhaps the answer to Arsenal’s forward dilemma is a player closer to home and one who put the Gunners to the sword as recently as Monday night. Richarlison headed home Everton’s equaliser to spark the comeback after seeing two strikes ruled out by VAR and can reportedly count Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta as an admirer. According to Fichajes, the Spaniard is keen to bring Richarlison to the Emirates as the search for a successor to Lacazette and Aubameyang heats up. The Spanish outlet report that Everton are a “club that is too small” for the Brazilian forward, who joined the Toffees from Watford in 2018 for an initial £35million fee, but a summer move appears more realistic.

While Arsenal may have to wait until the summer to snap up either Martinez or Richarlison, one player who could join up with Arteta’s squad sooner is that of Jonathan David. The Canadian forward has struck 14 times in 24 appearances for club side Lille so far this term, with his latest effort coming in the 3-1 Champions League triumph over Wolfsburg on Wednesday night. With Lille clinching top spot and securing European football for the New Year, Arsenal’s chances of snapping up the 21-year-old – a player they have been scouting for a long time – have suffered a setback. Lille president have also reportedly slapped a whopping price tag on his prized assets to dissuade clubs from launching January moves for the highly-rated hitman, is rumoured to be around £47m fee.

Everton 2 Arsenal 1

Demarai Gray’s superb injury-time strike earned Everton a first win in nine games to end a bruising week with a stunning comeback against Arsenal. After being thumped 4-1 by Liverpool and director of football Marcel Brands leaving the club, Rafael Benitez’s team responded with a much-improved display that showed the character and resilience fans were looking for. Richarlison had brought Everton level with 11 minutes of normal time remaining after Martin Odegaard scored the game’s opener from Kieran Tierney’s cross in first-half stoppage time.

That the winner came after Richarlison had also had two goals ruled out for offside by the video assistant referee before getting the equaliser will only have added to the home fans’ delight. The scenes at the final whistle were a complete turnaround from last Wednesday, when the mood turned ugly after a 4-1 defeat by their city rivals. Victory lifts Everton to 12th in the table, eight points above the relegation zone. In keeping with their success earlier in the season, it was Gray who was Everton’s most dangerous player, but he was aided by Richarlison, who showed great perseverance to score at the third time of asking. His header in a poor first half, moments before Odegaard scored for Arsenal, was clearly offside but the frustration for the Brazilian and the 35,000 Everton fans inside a raucous Goodison Park was palpable when a second goal was ruled out because his toe was inches beyond the Arsenal defensive line.

Mikel Arteta’s return to a club where he spent five years as a player proved a fruitless one. Having made four changes from the loss at Manchester United last Thursday, including the return of Bukayo Saka, Granit Xhaka, Tierney and Alexandre Lacazette up front in place of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, he was rewarded with a disciplined performance. But a third defeat in four games, following an eight-game unbeaten run, will lead to further questions about his side, who were outfought and looked uninspired for large periods of the game.