Slavia Prague 0 Arsenal 4

Arsenal secured what manager Mikel Arteta called an “important win in a crucial moment” as they impressively swept aside Slavia Prague to reach the Europa League semi-finals. The Gunners produced one of their best performances of the campaign to turn a potentially difficult night into a fine away victory. With the tie evenly poised at 1-1, they scored three goals in the opening 24 minutes and had another ruled out by the video assistant referee – all-but ending the contest in the opening period. It kept alive their hopes winning the competition – and with it their only realistic chance of European football next season.

Nicolas Pepe squeezed home at the near post to open the scoring in the 18th minute before Alexandre Lacazette converted a penalty three minutes later following a foul on Bukayo Saka. Saka coolly swept in the third as Arsenal tore their Czech opponents apart once more. Arteta’s side controlled the game expertly thereafter and Lacazette smashed his second low into the net in the latter stages. The Gunners will face Villarreal – managed by former Arsenal boss Unai Emery – in the last four. This was Arsenal’s biggest game remaining this season. Had they lost, their campaign would have effectively been over. Instead they breathed life into its final two months. Their wastefulness in the first leg left the tie in the balance but in Prague, where their hosts had not lost for more than a year, they were supremely clinical.

Spurred on by the guile and energy of Emile Smith Rowe, they scored three goals from five first-half shots – doing so without their captain Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, who revealed shortly before kick-off he has contracted malaria. Slavia had already knocked Leicester and Rangers out of this year’s competition but at half-time they resorted to substituting four key players, seemingly an acceptance the tie was over. It is 25 years since Arsenal, currently ninth in the league, failed to qualify for Europe and this win ensured they can extend that run. A meeting with Emery, who took Arsenal to the Europa League final in 2019 and won the tournament three times as manager of Sevilla, awaits on 29 April.

Arsenal 1 Slavia Prague 1

Slavia Prague scored a dramatic stoppage time equaliser to leave Arsenal’s Europa League ambitions hanging in the balance. Substitute Nicolas Pepe thought he had earned the Gunners a slender quarter-final first-leg advantage when he broke the deadlock in the 86th minute. But Tomas Holes headed home in the dying moments of the game from close range to give Slavia Prague a precious away goal. The second leg in Prague takes place next Thursday (20:00 BST) and Gunners boss Mikel Arteta, despite his side conceding so late, still believes they will progress to the semi-finals.

Arteta stated he was in “shock” after his side’s tame 3-0 surrender to Liverpool last weekend, a performance which brought stinging criticism from both fans and pundits. He reacted by making six changes – three of which were forced because of injuries – to his starting line-up, with captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the most high-profile casualty. Aubameyang, who has 13 league and cup goals for his club this season but none since 6 March, cut a frustrated figure as he watched Willian, from a free-kick, clip the outside of the post before Alexandre Lacazette raced through, only to hit the bar.Aubameyang was finally sent on after 78 minutes and made an impact as his pass allowed club-record £72m signing Pepe to race into the box and produce a composed finish past keeper Ondrej Kolar.

But Arsenal failed to see the game out and Holes’ back-post header means Arteta’s side have it all to do against the 2019-20 Czech champions in a week’s time. With the Gunners lying 10th in the Premier League table, 10 points off a top four spot, winning the Europa League represents their most realistic chance of securing a Champions League spot next season. They have not graced the Champions League stage since 2016-17 and they face a big test next week if they are to make it through to the semi-finals of Europe’s second-tier club knockout competition. While this was an improvement on their previous outing, Arsenal rarely looked convincing against opponents who have beaten Leicester City and Rangers this season.

Rob Holding had a header tipped over the bar when the game was goalless, but at the other end Bernd Leno saved Jan Boril’s deflected shot while Lukas Provod hit the post before Holes got to a rebound inside the six-yard area to head his side level in the 93rd minute.

Arsenal 0 Liverpool 3

Liverpool thrust themselves firmly back into the battle for a place in the Premier League’s top four as they outclassed abject Arsenal at Emirates Stadium.Chelsea’s shock thrashing at home to West Brom earlier in the day opened the door for Liverpool – and Jurgen Klopp’s men burst straight through it in style with a victory that leaves them in fifth, only two points behind Thomas Tuchel’s side. The only surprise was that it took dominant Liverpool so long to make their superiority count. They finally got the breakthrough they deserved after 64 minutes when Diogo Jota headed Trent Alexander-Arnold’s brilliant delivery past Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno moments after he replaced Andy Robertson.

It was not only the decisive moment of the contest but also a timely reminder of the quality Alexander-Arnold possesses at a time when England manager Gareth Southgate feels he can do without him. Liverpool doubled their lead four minutes later when Mohamed Salah took advantage of poor defending by Arsenal’s Gabriel then slid a cool finish through Leno’s legs. Jota was the beneficiary of more good work from Alexander-Arnold when he slammed home his second from close range with eight minutes left – by then, though, the game had become a formality. The only positive about this Arsenal performance was the fact they kept Liverpool out for 64 minutes – although that was more down to the Premier League champions’ lack of cutting edge up than especially good work by the Gunners.

The hosts were dreadful and fortunate not to be beaten far more heavily. This was miserable stuff from Arsenal. The only work Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson, complete with extravagant new moustache, had to do all night was clutch a straightforward shot from substitute Cedric Soares in the second half. Yes, Arsenal lost influential left-back Kieran Tierney right on half-time, but that was no excuse for what Mikel Arteta’s side served up. They offered no punch in attack, no fight in midfield and were eventually overwhelmed in defence. Arsenal saved themselves by coming from three goals down to earn a point in their last league game at West Ham but there was never the slightest hope of a comeback against Liverpool. They sit in ninth place, four points adrift of Everton having played two games more, and much now rests on their Europa League quarter-final against Slavia Prague.

Wesh Ham 3 Arsenal 3

Arsenal came from three goals down to rescue a point in a stunning game against London rivals West Ham in the Premier League. The Hammers raced into a three-goal lead at London Stadium through Jesse Lingard, Jarrod Bowen and Tomas Soucek, who touched in a Michail Antonio header. The visitors gave themselves hope when an Alexandre Lacazette effort went in off Soucek for an own goal just before half-time. West Ham defender Craig Dawson turned in Arsenal full-back Calum Chambers’ low cross for another own goal in the 61st minute.

And Lacazette completed the comeback with a thumping header from Nicolas Pepe’s cross, before both sides had late chances to win the game. The result leaves the Hammers two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea in fifth, while Arsenal move above Aston Villa into ninth. Arsenal were second best in the first half and looked almost certain to lose further ground in the race for European places after a frantic opening. At 3-0 down, they looked a beaten side but Lacazette inspired Mikel Arteta’s side to a point, hitting a volley which took a deflection off Soucek for Arsenal’s opener. Lacazette saw his dinked attempt cleared off the line by Issa Diop seconds after the restart as the Gunners dominated in the second period.

After Dawson turned in Chambers’ cross to further cut the deficit, the France striker rose highest to level the game late on. A defeat would have opened up a 10-point gap between the two sides and arguably end Arsenal’s hopes of qualifying for a European competition through a top-six finish. And while questions will be asked about their poor first-half performance, Arteta will take heart from his side’s superb reaction against a disciplined West Ham.

Arsenal 0 Olympiakos 1

Arsenal were given a scare by Olympiakos but had enough from the first leg to beat the Greek side on aggregate and reach the Europa League last eight. Leading 3-1 from the game in Greece, the Gunners were comfortable throughout the first half in London. Some nerves began to show after Youssef El-Arabi’s shot found the net via a deflection off Gabriel to give the visitors hope of repeating last season’s shock – when they knocked the Gunners out of the Europa League in the last 32 by scoring in the final minute of extra time at Emirates Stadium.

However, Olympiakos were unable to build on El-Arabi’s goal as Arsenal managed the remainder of the tie adequately to progress, helped by a red card shown to Ousseynou Ba for dissent late on. They will discover their quarter-final opponents when the draw is made in Switzerland at 12:00 GMT on Friday. Arsenal have developed a habit of making life hard for themselves under Mikel Arteta. Once again, they were their own worst enemies at Emirates Stadium with a tame and occasionally sloppy second-leg display that offered the incentive to their opponents. Thankfully for the Gunners, most of the heavy lifting for this win had been done in the first leg in Pireas, where late goals from Gabriel and Mohamed Elneny made amends for some poor defending which allowed the Greek side to briefly regain parity in the tie.

That frailty at the back resurfaced again in London, though, with Dani Ceballos’ loose pass allowing the Greek side to set up El-Arabi for his goal. The Morocco striker could also have scored before then to offer an earlier incentive to the visitors, but Bernd Leno’s save made amends for the lax defending that allowed him to get within sight of the target from a long ball. The poor Gunners defending was allied with a profligacy in attack. Pepe could have settled the tie for good after beating the onrushing keeper but saw his subsequent finish from an angle deflected just wide by a covering defender. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, recalled after being left out of Sunday’s north London derby win over Tottenham for breach of “pre-match protocol”, could have had a hat-trick and certainly should have taken at least one of the numerous good chances that came his way.

Arsenal 2 Tottenham 1

Arsenal came from behind to secure a fully deserved north London derby win and inflict damage on Tottenham’s hopes of a place in the Premier League’s top four. The Gunners were vastly superior until a Spurs rally in the closing stages but fell behind to a piece of genius from Erik Lamela – on for the injured Son Heung-min – when he curved a magnificent ‘rabona’ finish beyond Arsenal keeper Bernd Leno in the 33rd minute. Arsenal, who had seen Emile Smith Rowe’s long-range shot smack against the bar, then suffered more ill-luck when Cedric Soares hit the post, but were level on the stroke of half-time when Martin Odegaard’s effort was deflected out of the reach of Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris.

Mikel Arteta’s side continued to dominate a largely dreadful Spurs and took the lead from the penalty spot after 64 minutes when Alexandre Lacazette missed his kick but was fouled by Davinson Sanchez. Lacazette recovered to send Lloris the wrong way for his 12th goal of the season. Spurs’ day got worse when Lamela was sent off for a second yellow card, shown by referee Michael Oliver for a hand-off into the face of Kieran Tierney with 14 minutes left. But they almost snatched a point in the closing moments when Harry Kane’s free-kick bounced off the post, with Arsenal defender Gabriel heading Sanchez’s goal-bound shot off the line from the rebound.

Arsenal, who dropped captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the game for disciplinary reasons, stay in 10th place but Spurs are now six points adrift of Chelsea in fourth, although with a game in hand. Arteta showed discipline is paramount – and no one is above his law – by dropping skipper and main striker Aubameyang to the bench for what Arsenal described as “a breach of pre-match protocol”. It was a big game to have to make this choice but Arteta demonstrated who was boss and was rewarded not just with an important derby victory but also a fine performance, watched from the sidelines by the solemn figure of the chastened Aubameyang. Arsenal, even without their captain and most prolific marksman, were by far the more dangerous side, taking control from the start and only showing signs of nerves when Spurs mounted a belated late surge which almost brought them a point they did not merit.

Smith Rowe was outstanding for Arsenal while Odegaard got his first Premier League goal and Lacazette won and scored the decisive penalty. Arsenal remain a team in transition but they played some fine football here and this will surely boost confidence and self-belief as they try to navigate a route into Europe next season, the three points tasting even sweeter as they were taken at the expense of their arch-rivals. Aubameyang will no doubt return in due course, punishment served, but Arteta showed the courage of his convictions and this turned out to be a highly satisfactory day for Arsenal’s manager.

Olympiakos 1 Arsenal 3

Mikel Arteta says his Arsenal side need to stop being their own worst enemy after defensive lapses undermined their last-16 first-leg victory over Olympiakos in the Europa League. While Martin Odegaard’s opener paved the way for their win, familiar failings at the back saw the Greek champions level and made life uncomfortable until late goals from Gabriel and Mohamed Elneny swung the contest back in Arsenal’s favour. Lax play from both David Luiz and Odegaard had gone without punishment but Arsenal were not as fortunate when Bernd Leno played substitute Dani Ceballos into trouble and Youssef El Arabi stroked in an equaliser.

It added to a litany of recent errors, with Arsenal guilty of conceding soft goals against Burnley and Benfica in fixtures over the last month. Thankfully for Arteta, three valuable away goals mean his side are well placed to avoid a repeat of their dramatic exit to Olympiakos last term. In general he will also be satisfied with a display that saw Arsenal create several early openings and take the lead courtesy of Odegaard’s powerful 20-yard drive. The Norwegian midfielder could and perhaps should have opened the scoring earlier than that, skewing a left-footed effort wide, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was also superbly denied a goal when home goalkeeper Jose Sa diverted his header on to the crossbar. Twelve minutes after El Arabi had spurned a chance to put the hosts ahead, Gabriel towered above his marker to head in Willian’s right-wing corner, with Elneny’s late effort adding deserved gloss to the result.

Arsenal have won eight of their nine Europa League games this season (D1), and are the highest scorers in the competition so far (27 goals). Having won their first three home meetings with Arsenal in all competitions, Olympiakos have now lost their last three against the Gunners at home. Willian has provided more assists for Arsenal in all competitions than any other player this season (7), including setting up all three of Gabriel’s strikes for the Gunners. All four of Mohamed Elneny’s goals for Arsenal have come in European competition (1x Champions League, 3x Europa League), with three of those coming from outside the box.

Burnley 1 Arsenal 1

Arsenal were denied victory by the woodwork, some heroic Burnley defending and the video assistant referee amid a dramatic late onslaught as Granit Xhaka’s error ultimately cost the Gunners dear. After Xhaka’s errant pass struck Chris Wood for a bizarre equaliser to cancel out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s opener, Arsenal piled on relentless pressure in the closing stages. The Gunners thought they had been awarded a penalty against Erik Pieters but the spot-kick and the defender’s red card for deliberate handball were overturned by VAR after replays showed he had diverted Nicolas Pepe’s shot onto the bar with his shoulder.

That was not the end of the late drama as Ben Mee’s block denied Aubameyang a sure-fire winner in stoppage time before Dani Ceballos crashed an effort against the post with almost the last kick of the game. Ultimately, however, the blame for the dropped points will be laid at the door of Xhaka, who was sent off in the Gunners’ December defeat by Burnley and had another day to forget against the Clarets. Receiving an ill-advised short pass facing his own goal from keeper Bernd Leno, he tried to clip a square ball to David Luiz across the penalty area but succeeded only in hitting Wood in the midriff and the ball bounced into an empty net for the softest of levellers.

Buoyed by the unexpected gift, Burnley controlled a scrappy second half before Arsenal’s late siege but Leno first produced a fine save to keep out Erik Pieters’ dipping 30-yard volley, and then used his leg to deny Wood in a one-on-one. A fifth successive home draw inches 15th-placed Burnley seven points clear of the Premier League bottom three, while Arsenal remain 10th, their hopes of a late push for European qualification hindered by two dropped points.

Leicester City 1 Arsenal 3

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said his side are “taking a direction I like” after they followed up their Europa League win over Benfica with an impressive comeback victory at high-flying Leicester. Things started badly for a much-changed Gunners side, with poor defending allowing Youri Tielemens to run unchecked down the right before firing a low shot into the far corner with just six minutes played. Arsenal refused to be adversely affected, though, and took control of the game with impressive attacking intent and far greater fluency than Leicester. David Luiz headed them level from a free-kick before Alexandre Lacazette levelled from the penalty spot after the video assistant referee (VAR) judged that Wilfred Ndidi had blocked Nicolas Pepe’s shot in the box with an outstretched arm.

Pepe sealed the deserved win with a close-range finish to take the Gunners into the top half of the table. Leicester’s loss comes three days after their disappointing Europa League exit to Slavia Prague and is a big blow to their increasingly forlorn-looking pursuit of Premier League leaders Manchester City. On a miserable afternoon at the end of a dire week for the Foxes, they also had influential winger Harvey Barnes carried off on a stretcher with his leg in a brace to add to their already considerable injury problems. The Foxes’ sixth home loss of the campaign leaves them 10 points behind a Manchester City side who have won their past 20 games.

Arsenal move up to ninth, eight points off the top four but with a renewed interest in events above them in the table. Arteta actually chose to rest a number of key players on Sunday, including Bukayo Saka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whose late winner had won their Europa League tie against Benfica. In naming a stronger side on paper for Thursday’s game and resting key players at the King Power, Arteta appeared to be suggesting that success in Europe represented his side’s best route back into the Champions League. Granted, they got off to an appalling start, practically waving Tielemens in for his early opening goal. But they did not allow the incident to alter the gameplan – one designed to sensibly take the game to Rodgers’ side.

Arsenal 3 Benfica 2

Perre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a dramatic late winner to help Arsenal edge past Benfica into the last 16 of the Europa League. In a ‘home’ leg played at the Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus, Greece, because of Covid-19 restrictions, Aubameyang opened the scoring to give the Gunners a 2-1 aggregate lead. Diogo Goncalves levelled for Benfica just before the break with a superb free-kick after Dani Ceballos had needlessly fouled Julian Weigl. The Spanish midfielder compounded that error after the interval with a poor defensive header that saw Rafa Silva race clear to put the visitors in front.

With Arsenal needing two goals to advance because of the away goals rule, Kieran Tierney’s low drive set up a grandstand finish before Aubameyang rescued the tie. Having exited the Europa League at the same stage last season to Olympiakos, it looked as though circumstances had conspired for another European campaign to end in desperate fashion. Faced with a four-hour flight for a fixture technically billed at home and inside a stadium where they have enjoyed mixed fortunes in the past, Arteta’s side started brightly enough. When Aubameyang raced on to Bukayo Saka’s incisive pass to lift the ball beyond Benfica goalkeeper Helton Leite, they were firmly in control having drawn the first leg 1-1 in Rome’s Olympic Stadium.

But from that point the game began to unravel as Benfica scored from their first two efforts on target – thanks to a helping hand from Ceballos. To their credit, though, the Gunners, who had won just one of their past six matches, displayed plenty of resolve to come back from the brink of a damaging defeat that would surely have left their hopes of lifting a trophy this season in tatters. Tierney was rewarded for a fine individual display by becoming the first Scottish player to score in a major European competition for the club since 1980. And Aubameyang, who came in for criticism after missing several chances in the first leg, atoned with his second of the night from Saka’s back-post cross.

Arsenal 0 Manchester City 1

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says he is surprised by his side’s imperious run of form “when everyone is suffering in this world” as they extended their winning run to 18 games with victory at Arsenal. The Premier League leaders have not dropped a point since 15 December and have taken control of the title race as they sit 10 points clear at the top of the table with 13 games remaining.

City looked confident right from the outset at Arsenal, taking the lead with just two minutes on the clock as Raheem Sterling somehow managed to outjump Rob Holding to head in Riyad Mahrez’s cross. The visitors had four shots to Arsenal’s none in the opening quarter of an hour and it looked as if the Gunners were in danger of being on the end of a heavy defeat as Guardiola’s side poured forward at every opportunity. To Arsenal’s credit, they weathered that early storm and grew into the game as Kieran Tierney tested Ederson with a strong effort from distance, while there were glimpses of a threat on the break through the pace of Bukayo Saka.

City failed to kick on after the break although still looked the most likely to add to their lead as Kevin de Bruyne – making his first start in more than a month – lifted an effort just wide while Ilkay Gundogan saw a shot saved by Bernd Leno before Joao Cancelo clipped a lovely strike inches past the post late on. In the end, a second goal was not needed as City took the three points to ensure they stay in control at the top of the standings. Arsenal, meanwhile, are 10th and six points off the top six.

Six Fundamental Necessities for Football Success

If you are the type that associates football to just getting a lineup of eleven strong and healthy men, and off you go, you should think again as this is not the case. There exist years of hard work, turmoil, sacrifice, and patience behind the closed doors of that team you so much admire.  The fact is there exist millions of football teams globally, but only a few have made a name in their village leave the world alone. There are secrets to making it in this sport, as you will discover below.

Like any other sport, football plays a vital role in the general well being of a person. By playing football, one can get rid of excess body fats and improve their muscle tone and bone strength. Moreover, playing football enables one to improve their agility and body parts coordination. It is also in playing football that individuals  establish strong and lasting networks that come in handy in life.

To a country, football plays a unique and profound role. Apart from assisting the economy, it goes a long way in raising its image, popularity, and respect among nations. For instance, Nashville, a small city in Tennessee, gained much popularity after The miraculous 1999 season when a football team based there known as Tennessee Titans won the Super Bowl.

Despite its benefits, many teams continue to struggle in establishing themselves despite being talented. The truth is it takes more than talent to form a reputable football team. Take a look at the detailed discussion below of six of the must-haves to make it in football.

A Profound and Experienced Coach

Coaches hold the key to success in football matches as they prepare and walk with the team the whole journey. It is a coach’s responsibility to instill a positive vibe, motivation, and courage in a group, pushing them to practice harder and believe in success before they even start playing.

So, how do you do this? It’s simple; you need first to learn your team’s ability and, after that, help them improve the skills from one level to another as you proceed in each season. Moreover, you will need to push and motivate your team to perform to their maximum.

This requires providing the right working conditions and offering other incentives. It is also natural that your team may once in a while experience obstacles ranging from conflicts, defeat, and lack of zeal, to name a few. As a team leader, you have to help the group overcome such issues.

Therefore arm yourself with the best people skills that will see you through such hindrances. Always emphasize the importance of putting individual goals aside and working for the common purpose in your team. This will take you to greater heights.

The Team’s Kit

What the football team wears in terms of color and quality has a significant impact on performance. For instance, having your team wear bright jerseys will enhance visibility resulting in easy ball passing and coordination. Moreover, bright colors boost the team’s confidence, thus improving performance.

Additionally, the quality of the football kit should emphasize the player’s comfortability. Following this, the gears must be light, thin, and able to absorb sweat or water on the player’s body. Equally important, the kit should be designed so that they can protect the players in case of an accident.

Fitness of the Team

To make it in football, a team should be fit and flexible. This is because soccer entails running up and down, which is not possible with an unfit person. Therefore, ensure your team members have regular exercises to help keep fit and active.

Moreover, don’t allow players with certain underlying medical conditions that may affect performance in your team. Also, have the team train under different weather conditions to be conversant and comfortable to play under any condition.

Teamwork and Coordination

In a football match, each player is responsible for the overall success of the team. How well a team can cooperate and coordinate during the game holds the key to their success. As such, every player must invest in themselves and practices accountability to the team.

To enhance teamwork in a football team, practice open communication, encourage team building activities, and positive attitude. Moreover, share out roles and responsibilities so that every team member knows what is expected of them. Also, come up with short goals and devise ways of achieving them.

Goalkeeper’s Ability

It would be right to conclude that goalkeepers have the final say in football matches. This is because they play one of the most vital roles by preventing the opponents from scoring and winning the game.

To make it in football, a coach should invest heavily in the team’s goalkeeper. Make sure to train them heavily on how to respond to different situations such as penalties. Also, enlighten the keeper on how to keep watch and enhance eye and hand coordination.

The Passion of the Team

The truth is you can never succeed in something you don’t love doing. Passion breeds motivation and the desire to work for hand. Therefore before someone enrolls in playing football, they must evaluate their love to make sure they do it for the right reasons.

It is the love for what you do that will wake you up on a chilly cold morning to go for exercise. It is also the passion that will keep you going when things don’t look okay such as when you lose or have a terrible injury during a match.

Though passion is mainly inborn, there are various ways you can help keep your players motivated. Things such as timely and reasonable benefits such as salary and medical covers, quality, and comfortable kits, a well-maintained playground are good motivators.

Conclusion

It takes more than talent to make a name in the football world. To get to where teams such as Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, and others are, you must be willing to sacrifice, be resilient, work hard, and follow the game’s rules.

Take your team a notch higher by practicing the above secrets that are the gateway to football success.

Benfica 1 Arsenal 1

Played in Rome’s Olympic Stadium instead of Portugal for Covid-19 reasons, the Gunners were the better side but failed to take a number of first-half chances before falling behind to a Pizzi penalty. However, they responded quickly with Cedric Soares crossing low for England winger Saka to level from close range. The England winger is now determined not to allow his side to suffer the same European fate as last season, when a goal in the last minute of extra time saw Olympiakos advance to the last 16 on away goals at Arsenal’s expense.

Benfica’s penalty was awarded when Emile Smith Rowe was adjudged to have handled in blocking Diogo Goncalves’ cross, with Pizzi converting to take his goal tally to a tournament-high of seven. Fresh from scoring a hat-trick against Leeds in the Premier League, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had two big chances in the game but inexplicably side-footed wide from close range with the score at 0-0 and then dragged an effort off target at 1-1. In positive news for the Gunners, left-back Kieran Tierney and forward Gabriel Martinelli made welcome returns from injury as second-half substitutes. The second leg is in Athens in a week’s time, sandwiched between two big league fixtures for the Gunners – the visit of Manchester City to the Emirates and a trip to Leicester.

Arsenal have improved in recent weeks, both in performances and results, but such was their inconsistent start to the season, the Europa League probably represents their most realistic route back into the Champions League. The Gunners’ starting XI suggests Mikel Arteta agrees, with the Spaniard naming the same side that began Sunday’s impressive 4-2 win over Leeds at the Emirates. Remarkably, it is the first time Arsenal have named an unchanged XI since September 2018 but it brought with it some of Sunday’s attacking fluency, especially down the right, with Hector Bellerin a constant and energetic menace. What it lacked, though, was similar lethal finishing, most notably from the weekend’s hat-trick hero Aubameyang.

Excuses can be made for why his second chance was spurned, with it being at a tight angle, but not his first. Bellerin’s low cross laid the strike on a plate for the forward but somehow he found a way to put his shot past the post instead of in the net where bit belonged. Thankfully, Saka was sharp enough to finish when required from a similar distance at the other end, the goal his 10th in a Gunners shirt and further evidence of his rapidly growing importance to Arteta’s side. Since the start of last season, the 19-year-old is the youngest Premier League player to have scored 10+ goals and made 10+ assists across all competitions.

Famous Quotes From Cristiano Ronaldo

You do not have to be a fan of football to know who Cristiano Ronaldo is and appreciate his view on life. If you don’t know much about the man, we recommend reading Cristiano Ronaldo: The Greatest Goalscorer Of All-time for some insight. The ultimate professional, being a winner is in Ronaldo’s DNA. However, he is also a family man and a great dad, and if you have ever watched any documentaries on him, you will see a different side to the athlete.

In this blog, we will explore some great quotes from the man himself.

“I don’t want to be compared to anyone – I’d like to impose my own style of play and do the best for myself and for the club here.”

This is a quote that we can all learn from. It is not just relevant to football. Today, we often compare ourselves to others when we should focus on what makes ourselves unique.

“There is no harm in dreaming of becoming the world’s best player. It is all about trying to be the best. I will keep working hard to achieve it but it is within my capabilities.”

We can all dream, but it is about putting those dreams into reality. Think about what your dream looks like and put the steps in so you can achieve it.

“It gives me the happiest feeling in the world. I just love scoring. It doesn’t matter if it’s a simple goal from close range, a long shot, or a dribble around several players, I just love to score all goals.”

Well, they say you should love what you do, don’t they?

“For me, Sir Alex was my father in football. He was crucial in my career and, outside of football, was a great human being with me. Talent isn’t everything. You can have it from the cradle, but it is necessary to learn the trade to be the best.”

Sir Alex, i.e. Sir Alex Ferguson, was Ronaldo’s manager at Manchester United. He plays honor to him here, and it is important because it shows how important mentors are and why you need to learn from others.

“Don’t let small obstacles be in the way of being victorious. Remember you are stronger than the challenges you face.”

A great quote indeed, and something we can apply to all areas of life and business.

“Dreams are not what you see in your sleep, they are the things that don’t let you sleep.”

This would be a great quote to have on your bedroom wall, wouldn’t it? When you want something so badly, it keeps you up at night.

“You have to work.  I try to do it almost every day and this is why I am in the top level for many many years.”

One thing that you will have already noticed from the quotes is the strong work ethic the Portuguese footballer has. He constantly talks about the hard work and dedication that is needed to make it to the very top, and this is something that can inspire us all.

“The most important thing is the family. Keep your family healthy, good, and take care of your family, because this is the most important thing in the world.”

There is not much more to add to this one, is there? Family is everything, whether blood or not.

“I don’t see anyone better than me. No player does things that I cannot do myself, but I see things others can’t do. There’s no more complete player than me. I’m the best player in history — in the good and the bad moments.”

Well, he does get called arrogant by some. But many would argue that to be the best you do need to have an element of arrogance.

“I know I’m a good professional, I know that no one’s harder on me than myself and that’s never going to change, under any circumstances.”

In a sport like football, the spotlight is on. The media pressure is immense. Everyone has something to say. Yet Ronaldo still says that he is the hardest person on himself.

“I see football as an art and all players are artists. If you are a top artist, the last thing you would do is paint a picture somebody else has already painted.”

Like one of the earlier quotes, this is another example of how Ronaldo believes it is important to be yourself rather than trying to be like someone else. You can learn from others, like he did with Sir Alex Ferguson, but ultimately, you need to be your own person.

“I feel an endless need to learn, to improve, to evolve, not only to please the coach and the fans, but also to feel satisfied with myself.”

Whether you are a footballer, accountant, shop assistant, or have any other type of career, at the end, you need to make yourself happy.

“Scoring goals is a great feeling, but the most important thing to me is that the team is successful  –  it doesn’t matter who scores the goals as long as we’re winning.”

You know what they say; there is no I in TEAM.

“After I joined, the manager asked me what number I’d like. I said 28. But Ferguson said ‘No, you’re going to have No. 7’ and the famous shirt was an extra source of motivation. I was forced to live up to such an honor.”

In this quote, Ronaldo shows his respect for honor and tradition.

“Today there are opportunities that no one knows if they will come round again in the future.”

This is a great quote that we should all take note of. We should not let opportunities pass us by because we do not know when they will come back again.

“Your love makes me strong. Your hate makes me unstoppable.”

Last but not least, a great quote for the haters out there… it only makes him unstoppable.

Arsenal 4 Leeds United 2

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang thanked Arsenal for helping him through a “tough period” after his hat-trick led the Gunners to a convincing win over Leeds at Emirates Stadium. The 31-year-old missed two matches at the end of January with his mother in ill health. “Everyone was giving a lot of love to me, my mum and my family,” the Arsenal skipper told Sky Sports. “I have to say thank you to everyone at the club, and the fans.” Aubameyang opened the scoring in the 14th minute before doubling his side’s advantage from the spot towards the end of the first half. Right-back Hector Bellerin grabbed a third on the stroke of half-time, with Aubameyang completing his first Premier League hat-trick with a header moments after the restart.

But from 4-0 down Leeds grabbed two second-half goals through Pascal Struijk and substitute Helder Costa to give Arsenal a late scare. Making his first start in almost a month, Arsenal skipper Aubameyang proved just how valuable he is to the north London club. Since he was last named in a starting XI, the Gunners had gone out of the FA Cup and taken four points from four games in the league. Right from the off the Gabon international looked lively, cutting in from the left and finding the bottom corner with a cultured finish in the opening quarter. And he was denied a second moments later when Leeds defender Luke Ayling superbly blocked his shot after good work from David Luiz. VAR intervention led to referee Stuart Atwell overturning an Arsenal penalty after Bukayo Saka was brought down by Liam Cooper in the 35th minute.

But the 19-year-old won another spot-kick minutes later, being tripped by Leeds keeper Illan Meslier after the stopper was unable to clear a routine backpass. Aubameyang made no mistake from 12 yards – sending Meslier the wrong way – before Bellerin caught out the Frenchman at his near post to net Arsenal’s third. Arsenal started the second half just as they finished the first, with Aubameyang heading home Emile Smith Rowe’s cross to net his second ever Arsenal hat-trick – his first since the Gunners beat Valencia 4-2 in the Europa League in May 2019. The result means Arsenal leapfrog Leeds to go 10th in the table, six points off the top four. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored his 199th, 200th and 201st goals in Europe’s big-five leagues in what was his 369th appearance. He is one of just nine players to score 200+ goals across the five divisions.

Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 0

Dean Smith says his Aston Villa players “like to make history” after they completed a first top-flight double over Arsenal for 28 years. Goalkeeper Mat Ryan conceded 74 seconds into his debut for the Gunners as Villa followed up a 3-0 win at Emirates Stadium in November with a narrow victory at Villa Park. Former Arsenal keeper Emiliano Martinez started the move which led to Bertrand Traore pouncing on a mistake by Cedric Soares before Ollie Watkins scored with a shot that deflected off Rob Holding.

Boyhood Gunners fan Ryan, signed on loan from Brighton in January and starting in place of suspended first-choice keeper Bernd Leno, produced a fine save to deny Traore a goal on his return to the Villa side. Martinez frustrated his former club further when the Argentine produced an excellent save to keep out Granit Xhaka’s free-kick. Villa move up to eighth in the Premier League while Arsenal’s second successive defeat leaves them 10th. This was Villa’s sixth game in 18 days but there was little sign of fatigue as they worked hard to return to winning ways after being picked off by West Ham on Wednesday. John McGinn and Jack Grealish were both denied by Ryan while Watkins forced the new Arsenal keeper into two further saves.

Burkina Faso forward Traore brought fresh energy after being a substitute on Wednesday, while Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings helped limit Arsenal to three attempts on target. During a sustained period of Arsenal pressure, Mings did well to block Emile Smith Rowe’s goal-bound attempt and Matty Cash got in the way of Bukayo Saka’s shot. Aubameyang came on for the final 30 minutes at Villa Park but, despite a spell of sustained pressure towards the end, Mikel Arteta’s side failed to score for the third time in five games. After scoring against Wolves on Tuesday, Nicolas Pepe wasted two good chances while Martinez saved well from Hector Bellerin. Substitute Martin Odegaard blazed a late chance over the bar. The Gunners, who had two players sent off at Wolves in the previous game, were unhappy when Konsa’s first-half foul on Saka did not result in a red card.

Wolves 2 Arsenal 1

Arsenal had two players sent off as they threw away a lead and lost to Wolves – who won for the first time in nine Premier League games. The Gunners, who had earlier hit the woodwork twice and had a goal disallowed, went ahead when Nicolas Pepe held off two Wolves challenges and curled a fine finish into the net. But Arsenal were reduced to 10 men when defender David Luiz brought down Willian Jose, with Ruben Neves equalising with the resulting penalty in first-half injury time. Joao Moutinho scored with a brilliant strike from 30 yards out to put the hosts ahead soon after the restart.

However, the Gunners were then reduced to nine men as goalkeeper Bernd Leno handled the ball outside of his penalty area after racing out trying to deny Adama Traore. This was Wolves’ first league victory since a 2-1 victory at Molineux against Chelsea on 15 December, although they had also won two FA Cup ties – against Crystal Palace and National League North side Chorley – since then. Wolves remain in 14th and Arsenal – who would have gone sixth with victory – stay 10th, eight points behind fourth-placed Leicester City in the final Champions League qualification spot. The turning point came in first-half injury time when Arsenal were leading 1-0 and were dominant.

Daniel Podence played the ball through to Jose and the Brazilian, on his home debut, had his heel clipped from behind by compatriot Luiz. Referee Craig Pawson decided that Luiz had made no attempt to play the ball and sent the centre-back off. It was Luiz’s third red card for Arsenal after also being dismissed in the 2-2 draw at Chelsea in January 2020 and then again in the 3-0 loss to Manchester City in June. After the match, both managers had contrasting opinions with Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo saying Pawson had “no other option” but to award the penalty and send off Luiz. However, Gunners manager Mikel Arteta said he “cannot tell you where the contact is” and suggested the club may appeal Luiz’s red card.

Gunners boss Mikel Arteta made a defensive substitution at the break as centre-back Gabriel came on for forward Alexandre Lacazette, but it only took the hosts four minutes of the second half to go ahead, through Moutinho’s superb strike. The visitors brought on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for goalscorer Pepe in the 61st minute in an attempt to rescue something from the game. But Leno made a shocking decision in the 72nd minute as he sprinted out of his box, trying to reach the ball before the pacey Traore, but the goalkeeper misjudged the bounce, handled the ball and was dismissed. With Mat Ryan, who signed from Brighton last month, injured, third-choice goalkeeper Runar Runarsson was given a Premier League debut.

Willock & AMN Go On Loan Deals

Joe Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles sealed loan moves away from the Emirates, while Shkodran Mustafi completed a permanent transfer to Schalke on a busy deadline day for Arsenal. Mikel Arteta’s rebuilding project at the north London club stepped up a gear as the Gunners rounded off an active January transfer window with multiple last-minute departures. Willock joined Newcastle on loan until the end of the season, while Maitland-Niles moved to West Brom on a six-month loan spell.

The two Gunners academy graduates found playing time hard to come by this season and will be likely to feature more regularly at their new clubs. Meanwhile, Mustafi’s contract at Arsenal was terminated, allowing him to move to Schalke on a six-month deal to replace Ozan Kabak, who joined Liverpool on deadline day. The Germany international made the switch to Arsenal from Valencia for £35million back in 2016 but fell down the pecking order of centre-backs at the Emirates this season. Arsenal technical director Edu and boss Mikel Arteta both wished the 28-year-old well upon his exit from the club.

Earlier in the January window, the Gunners also let William Saliba and Sead Kolasinac go out on loan, while the contracts of Mesut Ozil and Sokratis were terminated. In terms of incomings at the Emirates, Arsenal brought in midfielder Martin Odegaard and goalkeeper Mat Ryan both on six-month loan deals.