Arsenal 1 Sheffield United 1

Sheffield United’s outstanding first season back in the Premier League continued as John Fleck hit a late equaliser at Arsenal. The Blades were typically organised and threatening throughout but looked set for defeat when 18-year-old Gabriel Martinelli steered in an opener for the hosts. Arsenal dropped deeper as the game wore on and struggled to create too much, although Nicolas Pepe thought he should have been awarded a penalty after the break. And Chris Wilder’s attacking substitutions were rewarded when Fleck hit a deflected shot into the far corner to keep the seventh-placed Blades four points clear of the Gunners.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was facing a stacked in-tray for his first job in management and the Spaniard has now overseen one win in his first five league games in charge. Without suspended captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the Gunners were always likely to be lacking a goal threat. After all, the Gabon forward had scored 48% of their league goals this season. But Alexandre Lacazette – his replacement as skipper – is hardly a novice, and with Mesut Ozil and Pepe in support the Gunners could still boast a £160m strikeforce. But it was Martinelli, just 18 and making his fourth league start, who was the pick. He volleyed wide from a smart Pepe cross, shot into the side-netting after more quick feet from the winger, and then gambled to convert the opener after makeshift left-back Bukayo Saka saw his cross loop up into the goalmouth.

The watching Aubameyang was moved to declare him a “superstar” in waiting in a post on social media. Arteta could point to his side having over 60% of the possession, but Blades keeper Dean Henderson was largely untroubled – making just three saves. If Arsenal’s expensively assembled attack failed to add much spark, it was the other end of the pitch which showed where work is needed in this and future transfer windows. Alarm bells were ringing for some Gunners fans with the arrival of the teamsheets. Two wingers, a perennial scapegoat and David Luiz made up a back four of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Saka, Shkodran Mustafi and the Brazil centre-back.

Crystal Palace 1 Arsenal 1

Jordan Ayew’s deflected equaliser earned Crystal Palace a point at home against Arsenal, who had goalscorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sent off by the video assistant referee (VAR). Captain Aubameyang had put his side ahead with a well-worked team goal as Mikel Arteta’s side dominated the first half. But Ayew brought Palace level after the break, his goal-bound effort leaving Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno with little chance after bouncing off David Luiz. Aubameyang was then sent off following a lunging tackle which caught Max Meyer on the left ankle, VAR overturning the initial yellow card he was awarded by referee Paul Tierney. This fixture had heralded 28 goals in the previous seven meetings between the two sides but little could separate them this time around, though both James Tomkins and Nicolas Pepe went close to winners for their respective teams.

The Eagles could consider themselves lucky to end the match with 11 players with Tomkins narrowly avoiding a red card after a late challenge on Gabriel Martinelli, in what was a feisty first London derby of 2020. Arsenal manager Arteta – who was not even born when Palace boss Roy Hodgson started his managerial career – remains without an away win in the league since taking over as manager on 20 December. Palace, meanwhile, remain ninth in the Premier League table, one place above the Gunners. Just seven days ago, Arsenal had been stunned by a dominant Leeds United in the first half of their FA Cup third round win, but the opening 45 minutes at Selhurst Park couldn’t have been more different. Unchanged from the win over Manchester United on New Year’s Day, they dictated the opening exchanges at Palace, enjoying almost 80% of possession during the first 10 minutes.

That was rewarded when clever link-up play between Luiz, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette helped Aubameyang open the scoring, a punt from Lacazette putting the Gabon striker through with only Vicente Guaita to beat for his 14th league goal of the season. After the break, Luiz could do little about his helping hand in Palace’s goal but he almost immediately made up for it, heading onto the roof of the net from a corner. But Arsenal suffered a huge blow when top scorer Aubameyang was sent off for the tackle that left Meyer unable to continue, loan signing Cenk Tosun coming on in his place. There was an audible gasp inside Selhurst Park when a replay was shown on the big screens after the VAR decision had been made.

Pepe thought he had hit the winner with 10 minutes remaining but his blistering left-footed effort was superbly tipped on to the post by Guaita who then spread himself at the feet of Lacazette when the ball rebounded back into the middle of the penalty box. In the end, this match echoed the last time these teams met, Arsenal letting a two-goal cushion slip as Palace fought back to draw 2-2 in October. Arsenal have now failed to win five league matches this season after leading at half-time.

Arsenal 1 Leeds United 0

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta “shouted a lot” at half-time to inspire an improved performance that helped the Gunners beat Leeds United and progress to the FA Cup fourth round. Leeds dominated before the break, with Patrick Bamford hitting the bar with one of United’s 15 first-half efforts. Arsenal were excellent in the second half and Reiss Nelson scrambled home to secure a second consecutive win. The Gunners will visit Bournemouth in the next round later this month. Arsenal keeper Emiliano Martinez said Arteta was “really angry” at the break and striker Alexandre Lacazette told BBC One: “The manager shouted a lot. He was not happy because we knew they’d play like this and we didn’t respect what he had said.”

The hosts had the majority of the second-half chances, with Lacazette clipping the crossbar with a free-kick. “Now I’m really pleased but we saw two different teams – one in the first 30 minutes, and another after that,” said Arteta. “I tried to tell them exactly what they were going to face and after 32 minutes we had won one duel, I think. We changed our attitude, desire and organisation at half-time and then we were completely different. “Sometimes they have to experience themselves how tough and how hard it is going to be. I watched a lot of Leeds games and they battered every team every three days. It was good for my players to learn and to suffer on the pitch.” Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa will see the game as a missed opportunity for the Championship leaders – especially after their first-half performance – although he can now focus on promotion and ending the club’s 16-year absence from the top flight.

They came into the game on the back of one of their most impressive performances of the season. They were excellent in the first half of their 2-0 win over Manchester United on New Year’s Day, although faded after the break. This was the exact reverse. The 13-time FA Cup winners were abject in the first half – with only 37.2% possession and one shot on target – and could have been out of the game before half-time. Nicolas Pepe fired over a shot just seconds after the restart as they immediately expressed their intent. Lacazette forced a save from Illan Meslier and then struck the bar with a free-kick. Lacazette had a hand in the goal as his cross was deflected by Gaetano Berardi into the path of Nelson, whose scuffed shot just went in.

Arsenal 2 Manchester United 0

Mikel Arteta earned his first win as Arsenal boss as the Gunners produced a powerful first-half performance to beat a lacklustre Manchester United. The visitors, who were without the injured Paul Pogba, actually began brightly, but the game took a different turn on eight minutes when Nicolas Pepe steered in his fifth goal of the season after Sead Kolasinac’s cross was deflected to him. That led to a first half in which the hosts were in control and Pepe hit the post before they doubled their lead when his corner was smashed in from close range by Sokratis Papastathopoulos. Ole Gunnar Solskajer’s side came into the game with one loss in their previous nine games, and although they improved after the break, they rarely tested Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

It was characteristic of a stop-start season in which they are yet to win three Premier League games in a row. The defeat leaves them fifth in the table, five points behind Chelsea, who drew with Brighton earlier in the day. Victory for Arsenal ended a run of seven home games without a win in all competitions and lifted them to 10th place, four points behind United. But they remain closer to the relegation zone than the top four. There has been evidence of a lift in Arsenal’s three performances since Arteta was appointed, but without a win, questions remained as to whether he was the right man to take over from former boss Unai Emery, given his lack of experience as a manager. Arteta was just an onlooker in the stands for the lifeless draw at Everton, but that was followed by a 1-1 draw with Bournemouth on Boxing Day and a crushing late defeat by Chelsea at home last Sunday.

This was a different game altogether, though, as Arsenal put the pieces together. With Granit Xhaka, who has been linked with a move to Hertha Berlin, restored to the midfield, the Swiss and Lucas Torreira were quicker to the tackle than their opponents. Mesut Ozil covered 11.54km, more distance than any other Arsenal player. While record £72m signing Pepe was at the heart of Arsenal’s attacking endeavour as they were roared on by their fans. After scoring early on, he sent United left-back Luke Shaw halfway down the Holloway Road with a sharp turn before setting up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who sliced a volley over. The Ivorian then fed Alexandre Lacazette, who somehow hit his shot out for a throw-in from about six yards out, before Torreira went close from another Pepe pass.

Arsenal 1 Chelsea 2

Chelsea overcame an “awful” start, said boss Frank Lampard, as they staged a stunning late comeback to snatch victory and wreck Mikel Arteta’s return to Emirates Stadium as Arsenal manager. Arteta, taking charge of his first home game since succeeding the sacked Unai Emery, looked on course for three important points after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s early header put the Gunners in front. Chelsea, with Lampard making a first-half tactical switch when he introduced Jorginho for the struggling Emerson, were gifted an equaliser seven minutes from time when goalkeeper Bernd Leno hopelessly misjudged Mason Mount’s free-kick to leave the substitute with a simple finish.

Arsenal were doubly frustrated because Jorginho was fortunate to escape a second yellow card earlier for a cynical foul on Lucas Torreira – but Arteta’s home bow was to get even more painful. Chelsea struck again with three minutes of normal time left, Tammy Abraham turning Arsenal substitute Shkodran Mustafi far too easily in the area to beat Leno and complete the smash-and-grab raid. Arsenal, who lost defender Calum Chambers to injury in the first half, will start 2020 11 points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and without a Premier League home win since 6 October. It is the first time they have lost four consecutive home matches in all competitions since December 1959. Arteta understandably looked downcast as he and his players took sympathetic applause from their fans after they were left stunned by Chelsea’s late surge.

For the first half-hour Arsenal dominated a desperately poor Chelsea and there was much to encourage everyone inside a vibrant Emirates Stadium as the new era kicked into life. The Gunners, however, ran out of steam towards the end of the first half as Chelsea, helped by Lampard removing Emerson and sending on Jorginho, started to dominate and continued to do so after the break. Arsenal were resilient but were hanging on and ultimately it was a calamitous individual error and familiar defensive fragility that was to prove their undoing. Leno’s rush of blood left Jorginho with the easiest of finishes, although Arsenal certainly had a case to complain about his continued presence on the pitch after escaping that second yellow card. And then Mustafi, on for the injured Chambers, was at fault when he allowed Abraham far too much time to control, turn and score the winner.

Everton 0 Arsenal 0

Everton and Arsenal played out a dire goalless draw at Goodison Park as respective new bosses Carlo Ancelotti and Mikel Arteta watched from the stands. Three-time Champions League winner Ancelotti was confirmed as successor to sacked Marco Silva on a contract until 2024 shortly before kick-off on Saturday, and the Italian was present in the directors’ box. Arteta, who was appointed the Gunners on Friday, was sitting nearby – but there was little to excite either man. Arsenal, under interim manager Freddie Ljungberg for the last time, came closest to scoring as Gabriel Martinelli shot wide in the first half, before Everton keeper Jordan Pickford saved superbly from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after the break.

The hosts, led by caretaker boss Duncan Ferguson for the fourth and final time, rarely troubled Arsenal, although the Scot once again showed he was not afraid to take bold decisions by substituting a substitute. This time it was striker Cenk Tosun, who had come on early for the injured Alex Iwobi, and he was clearly unhappy at being replaced by Moise Kean. As with Ancelotti, new Arsenal boss Arteta faces a massive job to revive a giant club, and nothing he saw here will have come as a surprise. Indeed, he may be happy that the Gunners came away with a point having had a ringside seat to witness just how average this side are when his former club Manchester City romped to a 3-0 win at Emirates Stadium on 15 December.

Arsenal actually had the better opportunities but there was a lack of cohesion and confidence about this performance, and their fragile defence escaped without being seriously tested by a tired-looking Everton. Defender David Luiz was too impetuous and dangerman Aubameyang was a relatively subdued presence before being substituted late on. Arteta watched impassively and the serious work begins on Sunday when he gets his new charges on the training ground.

Arteta Is New Arsenal Head Coach

Arsenal have appointed Mikel Arteta as their new head coach on a three-and-a-half-year deal. Arteta leaves his role as Manchester City assistant manager and replaces Freddie Ljungberg, who took over as interim head coach following Unai Emery’s sacking at the end of November. “This is a huge honour,” said Arteta, whose coaching team has yet to be announced. “Arsenal is one of the biggest clubs in the world. We need to be competing for the top trophies in the game and that’s been made very clear to me in my discussions with (club owner) Stan and (director) Josh Kroenke, and the senior people from the club.

Ljungberg oversaw two draws, two defeats and one victory during his time in temporary charge, and departs his role with Arsenal 10th in the Premier League table. Arteta returns to the club for whom he played 150 games between 2011 and 2016, winning two FA Cups and two Community Shields in the process. City and Pep Guardiola were intent on Arteta remaining at the Etihad Stadium, but the offer from the Gunners proved too enticing for their former midfielder to turn down. The domestic treble winners were angered by Arsenal’s approach for the Spaniard after pictures emerged of Gunners chief executive Vinai Venkatesham and lawyer Huss Fahmy leaving his Manchester home in the early hours of Monday morning.

The Gunners lie 10th in the Premier League table, trailing the top four places by seven points with just 17 games gone. First up for Arteta is a trip to his other former Premier League side Everton, who have also recently sacked manager Marco Silva. Duncan Ferguson is in temporary charge for the game against the Gunners, with Carlo Ancelotti looking likely to apply for a small loan take over on a permanent basis.

Arsenal Transfer Rumours 20-Dec-2019

Mikel Arteta is to be the next head coach of Arsenal. His official unveiling is only hours away. It has been a hectic week for the Gunners that began with a meeting at the Spaniard’s house in the early hours of Monday morning following a 3-0 defeat to Manchester City last weekend. Everton are up next for the north Londoners, with Freddie Ljungberg preparing to lead the team out for one last game as interim head coach before Arteta takes the reins. The Spaniard will be in the stands for the match against the Toffees, along with Carlo Ancelotti – the Italian is set to be installed as manager at Gooidson Park with Duncan Ferguson in charge against Arsenal.

Every transfer window brings with it new rumours of an exit for Mesut Ozil but after an apparent breakdown in relations between the player and the club over his criticism of China the intrigue around Fenerbahce has increased. The Turkish Super Lig side have long been linked with the 31-year-old and according to Fotomac a loan deal could be on the cards in January. One player who is expected to play a key role for the new Arsenal head coach is midfielder Lucas Torreira. The Uruguayan won over fans in his first season at the Emirates Stadium by adding some much needed tenacity in midfield to chase down opponents and protect the back line.

Phil Babb highlighted the importance of his role for the Gunners if Arteta is to try and bring in what he learned at City at London Colney, with Fernandinho a key cog in Guardiola’s machine. With the Brazilian trusted to sit back and prevent the opposition from blowing the Premier League champions away on the counter-attack, he frees up the likes of David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne to roam forward. It is this role, as the safety net behind the more advanced midfielders and in front of the defence, that Torreira has been tipped to fill.

In a poll conducted by football.london, Arsenal supporters have named the three positions that need attention in the transfer market and the three players they think Arteta needs to fill them. RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano, Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi and Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha are among the names picked out by fans to fix issues in the squad.

Arteta Expected To Be Announced As New Arsenal Manager

Mikel Arteta is expected to be named as Arsenal’s permanent head coach – but what are the qualities that have seen him move into pole position for the job? Arteta is in advanced talks to become the permanent successor to Unai Emery at the Emirates Stadium. Talks between Arsenal and Manchester City are ongoing and progressing well, with City boss Pep Guardiola expecting Arteta to make a quick decision over his future. Arteta is about to become Arsenal head coach 18 months after he was first interviewed for the job. He came very close to being appointed in the summer of 2018 after Arsene Wenger left but at the last minute, Arsenal decided to give the job to Unai Emery instead.

Arteta’s appointment will receive a mixed reception from Arsenal fans. Many are concerned by his lack of managerial experience, others are more open to the idea of bringing in a former Arsenal captain to rebuild the playing side of the club. As far as the Arsenal board are concerned, they have long been impressed with Arteta and it was only a last-minute change of heart that saw Emery appointed ahead of him 18 months ago. Arteta fits the bill because he is an outstanding young coach who has played for Arsenal and knows what it means to play for and represent the club. He has worked under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City for three years and, like Guardiola, came through the Barcelona system as a player. He has played an important part in making City one of the best sides in the world. He works closely with individual players and has been credited with playing a key role in the development of young players such as Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane.

Arteta wants the Arsenal job and he will cost a lot less in compensation and wages than other big-name managers. Arsenal are expected to pay City less than £1m and Arteta’s estimated annual salary of £5m is less than half what managers such as Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp earn. Arteta’s ability to speak English fluently is also an important factor in his appointment. Emery struggled to communicate effectively with the media and fans and Arsenal were determined to make sure their new manager was a good English speaker. It also helps that Arteta speaks Spanish when it comes to dealing with club executives such as head of football Raul Sanllehi. Manchester City’s current manager Pep Guardiola. In an interview with my colleague Geoff Shreeves, Pep said he’d definitely be a candidate to replace him at City, and in recent weeks has made no secret of the high esteem he holds his No 2 in.

Standard Liege 2 Arsenal 2

Arsenal came back payday loans providers from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Standard Liege and progress to the last 32 of the Europa League as group winners. The Gunners were all but through before kick-off, with the hosts needing to win 5-0 to prevent the visitors from going through to the knockout rounds – a result that looked even more unlikely after a first half Arsenal edged. However, Samuel Bastien put the hosts ahead just after the restart when his shot deflected off Sokratis and beyond the wrong-footed Emiliano Martinez. The goal boosted the hosts but visibly knocked the fragile confidence of the Arsenal players, who became even more nervy when Standard Liege got a second as Selim Amallah’s strike from inside the area flew into the far corner via a slight deflection off Konstantinos Mavropanos.

It set things up for a tense final 20 minutes as the hosts pursued an unlikely result but Alexandre Lacazette settled the Gunners’ nerves when he converted a bullet of a header. Bukayo Saka then equalised with 10 minutes to go, curling a neat finish into the corner to secure the draw Arsenal needed to top Group F. It was perhaps a bit too much to expect Monday’s morale-boosting win at West Ham to mark an immediate upturn in Arsenal’s performances, particularly after a torrid run of nine games without victory. As was the case in London, the Gunners were below par for over an hour of this encounter and paid the price for poor defending – an area of concern for much of this season – when no players took responsibility to close down Standard Liege’s players, allowing the goalscorers to get off shots that were easily preventable.

One of the few bright spots in a miserable season for Arsenal has been the emergence of Saka. The 18-year-old has looked lively and showed plenty of endeavour in his 13 appearances so far for the Gunners but this was arguably his best performance to date. He finished the game with an assist and goal and could have had more but was denied by two excellent saves by Arnaud Bodart in the first half. Saka has now assisted six goals for Arsenal in all competitions this season – two more than any other player – underlining his growing importance to the Gunners.

West Ham 1 Arsenal 3

Arsenal came from behind to end their nine-match winless streak as Freddie Ljungberg enjoyed his first victory as interim manager at the expense of his former club West Ham. Eighteen-year-old Gabriel Martinelli marked his full Premier League debut by side-footing an equaliser which cancelled out Angelo Ogbonna’s deflected first-half opener at London Stadium. Within nine minutes, Nicolas Pepe had curled a magnificent second into the top corner and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fired in a third. The salvo turned the game on its head and piled the pressure on West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini, whose side have taken four points from their past nine league games and conceded three times in three successive home games.

The Hammers remain a point above the relegation zone in 16th and face a trip to third-bottom Southampton on Saturday. Arsenal move up two places to ninth. Arsenal’s victory was all the more remarkable because until Martinelli added to the seven goals he has scored in cup competitions this season, the visitors had been utterly woeful. Club officials had spoken before kick-off about the improved atmosphere triggered by Ljungberg’s appointment as Unai Emery’s replacement but it appeared this game would end in frustration, just as the previous two had done under the Swede. The visitors were bereft of confidence and mild boos from the travelling support accompanied the end of a first half in which their side failed to have a shot on target and went behind when Ogbonna’s header bounced in off Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

True, they did not have much luck. Hector Bellerin was injured in the warm-up and when Kieran Tierney was helped off in obvious pain with a shoulder injury sustained in a seemingly innocuous tangle with Michail Antonio, Ljungberg had lost both his first-choice full-backs in the space of half an hour. Nevertheless, it was pitiful stuff and when Aubameyang surged down the right wing and sent over a cross that flew over everyone and straight out for a throw-in on the other side of the pitch, it was symptomatic of a club apparently heading nowhere fast. It was 1977 when Arsenal last went 10 matches without a win. With an away Europa League game against Standard Liege followed by a home encounter with Manchester City to come, at the interval it was not beyond the realms of possibility that the 12-game barren sequence from 1974 was going to be threatened. With Alexandre Lacazette and David Luiz on the bench, it was two of Arsenal’s most inexperienced players who sparked the change in fortune.

Arsenal 1 Brighton Hove Albion 2

Managerless Arsenal’s season plummeted to a new low as they were beaten by Brighton in interim manager Freddie Ljungberg’s first home match in charge. Alexandre Lacazette marked his 100th Gunners appearance by heading his side level after Adam Webster had given the visitors a first-half lead. With the score 1-1, there was frustration for Ljungberg and Arsenal when David Luiz thought he had made it 2-1 with a volley but it was correctly ruled out following a VAR check for offside. Neal Maupay headed Brighton’s winner from Aaron Mooy’s cross to leave Arsenal on their worst winless run since 1977 – and 10 points off a Champions League spot.

Arsenal, who are 10th in the table, have now failed to win any of their last nine games in all competitions and fans who stayed for the final whistle booed their team off the pitch after a tepid performance. Twelve years after his last appearance for Arsenal as a player, Ljungberg was given a chance to show fans inside a far-from-full Emirates he is capable of managing the club where he won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups. It started well, with the Swede given a decent reception by the crowd, before rapidly going downhill as Brighton, who had lost their previous four away games, took control. Ljungberg dropped Shkodran Mustafi from his 18 after last Sunday’s 2-2 draw with struggling Norwich, yet Arsenal were still a shambles at the back. Maupay had already forced Bernd Leno into a one-handed save when Webster struck from a corner after lashing home following Dan Burn’s downward header.

Arsenal improved with the introduction of club record signing Nicolas Pepe after half-time and France forward Lacazette lifted the mood by climbing above the Brighton defence to head his side level after Mesut Ozil’s first Premier League assist since February. Yet the Gunners were short on confidence and ideas – while Mat Ryan produced a superb save at the end to frustrate the home side further. The Brighton keeper flung himself across his line to keep out substitute Gabriel Martinelli as Arsenal, who have home games against Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United on the horizon, failed to win for the 11th time in 15 top-flight attempts. The home side’s night was summed up towards the end of the first half when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had a go at team-mate Joe Willock after a home move had broken down.

Norwich City 2 Arsenal 2

Arsenal’s winless run continued with Freddie Ljungberg’s first Premier League game as boss ending in a draw against struggling Norwich. The Gunners, with Ljungberg at the helm on an interim basis after Unai Emery was sacked on Friday, have not won for eight games. The result leaves Arsenal eighth in the Premier League, seven points off a place in the top four, while Norwich remain 19th, three points from safety. While Arsenal started brightly, familiar defensive failings resurfaced as Teemu Pukki ended his eight-game goal drought with a shot that deflected off Shkodran Mustafi. The hosts’ lead only lasted eight minutes though, with Christoph Zimmermann penalised for handball and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang levelling for the visitors with a retaken penalty, after four Norwich players had encroached when his original effort was saved by Tim Krul.

More calamitous defending allowed Todd Cantwell to re-establish Norwich’s lead, with the midfielder slicing through the Gunners defence and placing an effort into the bottom corner on the stroke of half-time. However, Aubameyang again drew the visitors level, turning in a loose ball from a corner to ensure Arsenal gained a share of the points. Arsenal have a number of issues that they will need to resolve before they can hope to compete for a Premier League title again, and the most pressing remains in defence. The Gunners arrived in Norfolk having kept just two clean sheets in the league all season and left with the joint worst defensive record of any club in the top half of the table. An absence of leadership or quality in central defensive areas appears a fundamental flaw and not one easily addressed in the short term by Ljungberg.

Arsenal have bought defenders in recent years, but none fit the mould of a Tony Adams, Sol Campbell or Martin Keown, who were known for being commanding and who seemed to enjoy nullifying their direct opponents. For both Norwich goals, Arsenal’s current central defenders played a passive role. With the opener, David Luiz was not tight enough to prevent Pukki from turning once he had reached Kenny McLean’s ball forward. The Brazilian and his defensive partner Mustafi compounded matters by standing off and inviting the Finland forward to shoot. For Norwich’s second, Cantwell was allowed to run towards the Arsenal goal and Mustafi remained stationary as the England Under-21 international placed his effort into the far right corner from the left of the area. On a trying afternoon for Luiz and Mustafi, Pukki was unfortunate not to add to his tally after turning the German inside out. The duo were also thankful to goalkeeper Bernd Leno for pushing McLean’s effort on to the post after he had run through the centre of the Arsenal defence unchecked.

Unai Emery Sacked As Arsenal Manager

Unai Emery has been sacked as Arsenal manager after 18 months in charge. The Spaniard, who previously led Paris St-Germain to the French league title and won three Europa Leagues with Sevilla, was appointed Gunners boss in May 2018, succeeding Arsene Wenger. He has been replaced on a temporary basis by assistant and former Arsenal midfielder Freddie Ljungberg. Arsenal said the decision had been “taken due to results and performances not being at the level required”. The Gunners have not won in seven games and lost 2-1 at home to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League on Thursday. It is their worst run without a victory since February 1992, which was eight games under George Graham. They are without a Premier League victory since 6 October and eight points off the top four.

Ljungberg took training on Friday and the Arsenal statement added: “We have full confidence in Freddie to take us forward. “The search for a new head coach is under way and we will make a further announcement when that process is complete.”  Ljungberg posted on social media: “However long I oversee Arsenal for I will give everything I have to put smiles on faces again. We have a busy few weeks ahead and the team needs your support. Let’s get to work.” Arsenal’s head of football Raul Sanllehi and technical director Edu informed Emery at about 09:00 on Friday and the players were told at 10:00 as they arrived for a recovery session. Ljungberg addressed the players and Emery also had the chance to say goodbye. Other names linked with the post include former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, Manchester City assistant coach Mikel Arteta, ex-Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri and Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe.

The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) said Emery’s dismissal was “unfortunate but inevitable” and the “more difficult challenge is to recruit a suitable successor”. Arsenal finished fifth in 48-year-old Emery’s first season in charge at Emirates Stadium after he replaced Wenger. They went into this season having spent more than £130m in the summer after signing winger Nicolas Pepe, centre-back David Luiz, left-back Kieran Tierney, striker Gabriel Martinelli and defender William Saliba, who will join next summer. The club also brought in midfielder Dani Ceballos on loan from Real Madrid. They started this season with back-to-back victories against Newcastle and Burnley, but that run ended with defeat by Liverpool, before draws with north London rivals Tottenham and Watford followed. Their last Premier League victory was a 1-0 win over Bournemouth.

Arsenal 2 Southampton 2

Arsenal’s winless run continued as they drew against Southampton to increase the pressure on manager Unai Emery. The result leaves the Gunners in seventh, nine points worse off than at the corresponding stage last term, while the Saints remain 19th. Emery’s side, who were second best throughout, were booed off at the final whistle after delivering a disjointed performance which suggests they may struggle to compete for a place in the top four this season. Danny Ings’ early goal had put the visitors in front, with the forward catching the home defence asleep to race onto Ryan Bertrand’s free-kick and score with a right-foot shot from close range.

That set the tone for what was to follow, with the visitors wasting several good chances to extend their lead before Alexandre Lacazette turned in a close-range equaliser. The goal did little to kick-start Arsenal though, who fell behind for a second time when James Ward-Prowse scored on the rebound after seeing his second-half penalty saved by home goalkeeper Bernd Leno. Not even Lacazette’s second goal of the day, which came late in stoppage time, could raise spirits at the Emirates, with the forward appearing embarrassed to celebrate. Prior to Saturday’s games respective managers Unai Emery and Ralph Hassenhuttl shared the unenviable tag of being the bookmakers’ joint favourites to be the next Premier League manager dismissed. However, while Southampton’s dreadful record in north London suggested they could be ideal opponents for Emery to alleviate some of the pressure on him, things did not go to plan for the Arsenal boss or his team.

And until Lacazette’s late goal, his 24th at home of his 31 Premier League goals, his side had appeared likely to slip to a first home defeat against the Saints since 1987. That was largely due to familiar failings once again resurfacing, with Southampton’s pressing game and ability to bypass the Arsenal midfield clearly evident. They were also not helped by Emery’s deployment of a three-man defence of Sokratis Papastathopoulos, David Luiz and Calum Chambers. The trio were repeatedly pulled apart by the pace of Ings and Southampton’s 19-year-old Republic of Ireland forward, Michael Obafemi. While the introduction of club record signing Nicolas Pepe did at least spark their attacking play, they always remained vulnerable in defence and were fortunate to escape with a point.

Leicester City 2 Arsenal 0

Brendan Rodgers said Leicester City are “not really thinking about the title race”, despite their 2-0 win against Arsenal taking them above Manchester City into second in the Premier League. The 2015-16 champions had looked set to be frustrated as they missed several chances in the first half before Wilfred Ndidi struck the bar early in the second period. But Jamie Vardy finally broke the deadlock as he finished off an excellent team move, firing in his 11th goal of the season after Harvey Barnes and Youri Tielemans cut open the Arsenal defence. James Maddison then made sure there was no way back for Arsenal with a low strike through Héctor Bellerin’s legs and into the back of the net.

Victory means Leicester move above Manchester City and Chelsea with 26 points from 12 games, five behind leaders Liverpool but nine clear of fifth-placed Sheffield United. “We are thinking about the development of the team and making them better and if we can bring European football here in my time, that would be great,” said Rodgers. “We have thrown a hand grenade right into the middle of it all. We are working very, very well. We will just concentrate on our performance levels until 10 games to go and assess it then. “I came here to make an impact and create something that we can hopefully sustain over a number of years.” Arsenal, meanwhile, are now eight points off the top four and are without a win in the Premier League since beating Bournemouth 1-0 on 6 October.

Eighteen months ago, former Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis hailed the arrival of Emery as a coach who “plays an exciting, progressive style of football that fits Arsenal perfectly”. That description was certainly accurate about one of the teams on the pitch at King Power Stadium on Saturday, but it was not Emery’s side. The Foxes possess a clear identity and a togetherness that appears to be absent from this current Gunners side who, apart from occasional flashes, rarely troubled their opponents. Leicester dominated possession from the outset and even though they missed a number of decent chances – Ayoze Pérez firing just over after capitalising on a defensive error and Maddison putting a free-kick on the roof of the net – there was always the sense that the Foxes would find a way through.

Xhaka May Never Play For Arsenal Again

Unai Emery admits Granit Xhaka may have played his last game for Arsenal and revealed conversations have taken place over whether he should be sold in January. The midfielder has been absent for the last three matches after telling supporters to “f*** off” as he was jeered as he was substituted during a draw against Crystal Palace last month. Emery, having later stripped Xhaka of the captaincy, confirmed he had taken the decision for him to sit out Saturday’s game at Leicester after conversations between the pair ended with the 27-year-old declaring he was unavailable.

In the immediate aftermath of the incident against Palace, the club offered counselling to a player who Emery described as “devastated, sad and very down”. He will now miss what could be a key game at Leicester as Emery stated he had taken the call to once again leave him out. “Not yet,” Emery replied when asked if Xhaka was ready to feature at the King Power Stadium. “I spoke with him on Tuesday about how he’s feeling now and how he is in his mind. He’s working well, he’s training well, but he said to me that he’s not feeling good enough at the moment to play. We are going to wait.

Pushed personal home loans on whether Xhaka may never play for Arsenal again, he added: “As a coach I have a responsibility for the team. We need a player like Granit Xhaka. “But also, I don’t know if he’s going to play again. I don’t know, because if he is available in his mind to continue helping us and continuing defending the Arsenal shirt, I think time is giving us that solution.” Reports surfaced earlier in the week that the club may try and move Xhaka on in the winter transfer window to alleviate what could potentially become a long-term problem. And Emery did little to quell the speculation when it was put to him whether the club had spoken about a possible move.

Vitoria Guimaraes 1 Arsenal 1

Arsenal’s 100% record in the Europa League this season ended as Bruno Duarte scored a 91st-minute equaliser for Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal. Shkodran Mustafi had provided the Gunners with the breakthrough with an unmarked header from a Nicolas Pepe free-kick with 10 minutes to go. But Vitoria came to life in the closing stages and former Spurs man Marcus Edwards’ cross from the right caused confusion in the Arsenal defence, allowing Duarte to equalise with a scissor-kick. The result was Arsenal’s fourth consecutive draw in all competitions in a turbulent week that saw Granit Xhaka stripped of the captaincy. Group F leaders Arsenal will still qualify for the last 32 on Thursday if third-placed Standard Liege lose to Eintracht Frankfurt.

Arsenal manager Unai Emery made eight changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Wolves in the Premier League on Saturday, including handing the captain’s armband to defender Rob Holding with former skipper Xhaka not part of the squad. The Switzerland captain was stripped of the captaincy following an angry confrontation with home fans during the Gunners’ 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium on 27 October. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who will take over as club captain from Xhaka, and German midfielder Mesut Özil also did not travel to Portugal. Emery opted for a change in formation with a defensive back three of Holding, Sokratis and goalscorer Mustafi, with youngsters Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Kieran Tierney adding an attacking threat as wing-backs. But for the second time in a week the Gunners were punished late on and failed to take all three points. In a match played in torrential rain, the first half was largely uneventful with Vitoria showing early warning signs when their midfielder Pepe hit the post with a long-range effort and Edwards forced a good save from Emiliano Martinez.

Martinez was again called into action minutes later when a Vitoria free-kick found the unmarked Edmond Tapsoba but the centre-back’s flicked header was palmed away. Vitoria keeper Douglas was not tested in the opening 45 minutes as the Gunners failed to register a shot on target despite dominating possession. Arsenal’s best chance of the first half fell to Holding after clever play down the left-hand side by 18-year-old Bukayo Saka. The skipper for the match was unchallenged as he rose to meet the cross but his header went over the bar. In the second half the Gunners began to take control and were rewarded on 80 minutes thanks to Mustafi’s header from a free-kick by Pepe, who scored twice from set-pieces against Vitoria in the final 10 minutes at Emirates Stadium two weeks ago to give his side a 3-2 win.

Another victory looked to have been sealed here but Arsenal’s defensive frailties were exposed in stoppage time as Vitoria found a late surge of tempo to put the Gunners under pressure and find an equaliser, earning them their first point in the Europa League this season. Spanish midfielder Dani Ceballos suffered a hamstring injury in the second half and has been ruled out of the trip to Leicester on Saturday by Emery.