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Arsenal 4 Leicester City 3

Substitute Olivier Giroud headed in a dramatic late winner as Arsenal fought back to beat Leicester City in a thrilling start to the 2017-18 Premier League season. The Gunners trailed 3-2 with seven minutes to go before Aaron Ramsey and Giroud swung the game back in the home side’s favour at a euphoric Emirates Stadium. Alexandre Lacazette headed the Gunners ahead 94 seconds into his top-flight debut, only for Shinji Okazaki to nod in an equaliser just two minutes later. Vardy then slid the visitors ahead from Marc Albrighton’s cross, before Danny Welbeck drew Arsenal level at the end of a pulsating opening half. Leicester took the lead again when Vardy headed in Riyad Mahrez’s corner before Arsene Wenger made an inspired double substitution which sparked Arsenal’s comeback.

Substitute Ramsey smashed in an angled drive – from a corner which was won after Mesut Ozil handled in the build-up – before Giroud showed athleticism and strength to meet Granit Xhaka’s corner. Giroud’s days at Arsenal appeared to be numbered following the arrival of fellow France striker Lacazette from Lyon for a club-record £46.5m fee. And Wenger revealed after Friday’s win that Giroud, who has scored 97 goals in 231 appearances since joining from Montpellier in 2012, could have left the Gunners this summer. “At one stage I opened the door for him as I knew I had many strikers, and in the end he decided to stay,” said Wenger. “He doesn’t want to leave and I’m happy he wants to stay.” The 30-year-old wasted no time in proving his worth with another vital goal after coming on as a substitute. Giroud offers a different, more physical option for Wenger, but is hoping for a more substantial role at the club.

Since the start of last season, he has scored seven Premier League goals when coming off the bench – three more than any other player in the same period. “I prefer to be on the pitch as much as I can but I want to help the team reach the targets,” he said. Arsenal started the new Premier League season having won just one of their previous five opening matches – all of which were also home fixtures. In the build-up to Friday’s game Wenger repeatedly stressed the importance of beginning with a positive result against Leicester – and the Gunners appeared to have listened to their manager as they made the dream start. Lacazette was perfectly placed to take advantage of Wes Morgan misjudging Mohamed Elneny’s cross, flicking in a low header to become the fastest-scoring debutant in Premier League history. The joy did not last long, however. Leicester exploited sloppiness by the Gunners to go ahead, leading to murmurings of discontent among the home crowd.

The atmosphere turned dark among the home fans after Vardy’s first, the audible frustration subsiding when Welbeck calmly rolled in Saed Kolasinac’s cut-back, only to return again when Vardy restored the Foxes lead. Wenger looked on anxiously from the dugout, eventually appearing on the touchline when he introduced Ramsey and Giroud after 67 minutes. Within 20 minutes both players had scored – and the mood completely changed – as Arsenal avoided losing their opening fixture for the fourth time in five years.

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Arsenal Win Community Shield Over Chelsea

FA Cup winners Arsenal beat Premier League champions Chelsea to win the Community Shield on penalties after Thibaut Courtois and Alvaro Morata missed spot-kicks in a shootout at Wembley. An English football first followed as the ABBA penalty shootout was deployed and Arsenal prevailed 4-1 to extend their winning record at Wembley to nine straight games, including two in penalty shootouts. The ABBA system is based on the format used in tennis tie-breaks, with the team taking the first kick in each pair of kicks alternating. Chelsea goalkeeper Courtois took the second kick of the shootout, seeking to equalise, and blasted over before Morata fired wide.

That gave Arsenal the initiative and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored before Olivier Giroud netted the decisive penalty. Arsenal celebrated and Chelsea looked on, just as they had done in May when the Gunners beat them in the FA Cup final but it had been an even contest after 90 minutes. Victor Moses’ strike soon into the second half was cancelled out by Sead Kolasinac’s header eight minutes from time. Both benefited from defensive lapses. The Gunners’ equaliser came moments after Pedro was sent off for a tackle from behind on Mohamed Elneny and was no less than Arsenal deserved after Alexandre Lacazette hit the post in the first half. Arsenal’s record signing Lacazette was the only new signing in the starting line-ups, with focus on those absent as much as those playing.

Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez was present as a spectator, as was Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, but Diego Costa, for three campaigns Arsenal’s tormentor-in-chief in this fixture, remains in exile. Conte’s switch to a 3-4-3 formation during last September’s Premier League loss at Arsenal prompted a 13-match winning run, but here Chelsea’s defence was stretched by the Gunners’ pacey three-pronged attack. Alex Iwobi’s direct running twice forced Courtois to be alert, while Danny Welbeck headed at the goalkeeper, who was beaten by Lacazette only for the striker to see the ball rebound off the post. Per Mertesacker had to go off after 30 minutes, struck by Gary Cahill’s flailing arm in the Arsenal box. On came another of Arsenal’s summer signings, Kolasinac.

Chelsea’s first attempt of note came on the counter-attack as Pedro — wearing a face mask following the facial injury sustained between the teams in last month’s friendly in Beijing — stretched the Gunners. Petr Cech was equal to his shot. Willian was booked for simulation in the Arsenal box late in the half as the sides cancelled one another out. Chelsea took the lead within moments of the restart. Granit Xhaka sent Cesc Fabregas’ corner looping into the air and Cahill met the ball on the edge of the area.

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Lemar In, Elneny Out?

ARSENAL are closing in on a £45million deal for Monaco star Thomas Lemar. The Gunners have been desperate to land the French international and SunSport understands the Premier League side have finally made a breakthrough. Arsene Wenger has already had bids rejected for the 21-year-old as Monaco were demanding £80m for a player they signed from Caen two years ago. Monaco were hoping the huge numbers quoted would deter Arsenal and help them keep Lemar for another season on the premise his value would increase further to spark a bidding war.

SunSport revealed earlier this month Lemar has already agreed terms with Arsenal and told the French champions to allow him to move to North London this summer. Lemar will be Wenger’s third addition at the Emirates this summer as the French coach looks to lead the club back into title contention. Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac have been recruited and the arrival of the Monaco star will be a huge boost for the Gunners, who would take their summer spending to £97m. Lemar featured for Monaco in their last pre-season game at Benfica and will hope to get the green light to complete his switch to the Premier League before they face Paris-Saint Germain in Morocco this Saturday in the Trophee des champions. It had been thought Monaco would stop their player exodus and fight to keep the wide man for their title defence next season. But the winger is set to follow Bernardo Silva, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Benjamin Mendy, Valere Germain and Kylian Mbappe through the Stade Louis II exit door.

Meanwhile the Gunners are in talks with Galatasaray over a £10million move for Mohamed Elneny, according to reports. The Egyptian midfielder joined Arsene Wenger’s side just 18 months ago but already they are open to him leaving. Fotospor claim Galatasaray’s sporting director Cenk Ergun has been in London looking to finalise a deal. And the Turkish side could now be in pole position to sign Elneny after he rejected a £10m bid from Leicester, as revealed by SunSport. Elneny has a contract at the Emirates until 2020. But he made just 14 Premier League appearances last season – with only eight of those being starts. Elneny joined the Gunners from Basel in January last year for a fee of £5m. Talk of his exit comes with Arsenal facing a series of switches in the middle of the park this summer.

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Arsenal Player & Transfer News

In a boost to Arsenal’s Premier League hopes, the Gunners have made a major breakthrough in contract talks with playmaker Ozil, according to the Sun. The UK tabloid reports that Arsenal is confident the German will sign a new £280,000-a-week deal ($457,000) before the start of the season. That’s huge money by anyone’s standards and would make Ozil the highest paid player at the club. However, it’s a bargain compared to the £350,000-a-week ($572,000) he was previously asking for.

But while contract talks are progressing nicely with Ozil, the Gunners’ battle to hold onto Sanchez is set to get a whole lot harder with Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain entering the chase for the Chilean icon. According to French media outlet Le Parisien, PSG sporting director Antero Henrique is in London looking to seal a deal for Sanchez. Sanchez has only one year left on his current deal with Arsenal and looks increasingly unlikely to agree to a contract extension. Despite Wenger insisting Sanchez is not for sale, the 28-year-old is also being pursued by Manchester City.

The Daily Star reports that Jack Wilshere is open to joining West Ham, the club he supported as a child, if a fee can be agreed with Arsenal. Wilshere, who spent last season on loan with Bournemouth, is valued at £20m ($32.71m) by Arsenal and the North London club is insisting that any deal for the 25-year-old includes a buyback clause. West Ham are not the only club interested in Wilshere, however. Italy’s TuttoMercatoWeb reports that Turkish club Antalyaspor are happy to meet Arsenal’s asking price for Wilshere. However, TuttoMercatoWeb claim that asking price to only be £9m ($14.72m).

Arsenal has rejected a £16m ($26.16m) bid for Calum Chambers from Crystal Palace, according to the Daily Telegraph. However, the Gunners have not closed the door on offloading the former Southampton defender. It is understood they want £20m ($$32.71) for the 22-year-old. After a tough debut campaign in the Premier League, Spanish striker Lucas Perez could be on his way to Turkey for a season. Perez, who only score eight goals in his 22 appearances for the Gunners last season, has drawn the interest of Fenerbahce, according to TalkSport. The Turkish giants are purportedly ready to hold talks with the striker’s representatives to try and secure a season-long loan.

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Wojciech Szczesny Leaves Arsenal For Juventus

Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has completed a £10m move to Juventus. The 27-year-old, who spent the past two years on loan at Roma, signed a four-year deal with the Italian champions. The Poland international played 38 times for Roma last season and kept 14 clean sheets – the most in Serie A. “When you come to Juve, it’s because you’ve been chosen. I had no hesitation,” said Szczesny, who made 132 appearances for Arsenal in eight years at the club. “I’m ready for a new challenge – Juventus is the best choice for the next stage of my career.”

Szczesny said he had already spoken to Juve number one Gianluigi Buffon, who he described as “a legend in our game”. “I’m really happy to be here,” he added. “I’m not feeling any pressure. I’m here to represent the club at the highest level.” Poland goalkeeper Szczesny underwent his medical in Turin on Tuesday and officially became a Juventus player on Wednesday in a deal that could rise to €15.3 million, depending on performance. The 27-year-old, who spent the last two seasons on loan at Roma, has signed a four-year contract for the Bianconeri, where he is expected to be understudy to Italy No. 1 Gianlugi Buffon in the coming season. “Juventus Football Club is pleased to announce the transfer of Wojciech Szczesny from Arsenal, the goalkeeper signing a four-year deal with the Italian champions until 30 June 2021,” a statement on Juve’s official website read.

“Of goalkeepers to have made more than 10 appearances, only Gianluigi Buffon and Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma have held greater save percentage rates — 77 percent and 76 percent respectively — than the Pole (75 percent) over the last two seasons. “While Buffon would concede the fewest goals overall last term, Szczesny was the man to keep the most clean sheets — 14 in total. With 72 Serie A matches under his belt, Juve’s latest acquisition is poised to embark on a new adventure at the Allianz Stadium where once again he will have his sights firmly set on the number one jersey.” Szczesny said goodbye to Roma in a message on Instagram last month and added a lengthy farewell to Arsenal that included him saying: “I may not be an Arsenal player no more but I will carry the Arsenal name with me wherever I go and I will do so with great pride. Once a Gunner, always a Gunner!”

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Arsenal To Offload Players?

Reports are in that Arsenal fringe players Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Calum Chambers, Mathieu Debuchy, and Wojciech Szczesny are all linked with exits from the Emirates. Chambers is off to Crystal Palace for £20m and possibly a buy-back clause inserted. Gibbs is off to West Brom for £12m according to Sky Sports. Arsenal now have full agreement with Juventus over the sell of Wojiech Szczesny. Fee in the region of £10m. Debuchy will have his medical at OGC Nice in next 48 hours. Fee unknown but possibly a free transfer.

Sampdoria have offered £6m plus £1.5m in add-ons for Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, according to Sky in Italy. Wilshere has one year remaining on his Arsenal contract and spent last season on loan at Bournemouth. His season at the Vitality Stadium was cut short when he fractured his leg against Tottenham in April. The 25-year-old has been capped 34 times by England. Wilshere has been reportedly linked with a loan move to Crystal Palace, and Sampdoria, who finished 10th in Serie A last season, have now entered the running. However, Wenger said at the weekend that he expects Wilshere to stay at Arsenal and fight for first-team football.

West Brom are interested in signing Kieran Gibbs and have approached Arsenal to discuss a potential transfer, Sky sources understand. Sky Sports News HQ has been told the Gunners want around £10m for the defender, but Albion are not prepared to pay that amount. Baggies boss Tony Pulis, who is currently with his squad in Hong Kong for the Asia Trophy, has been looking for a specialist left-back and sees Gibbs as his best option. The 27-year-old made just eight Premier League starts last season and 22 appearances in all competitions overall – his second season struggling for first-team games. Gibbs has 10 England caps but has fallen out of the national-team frame while his chances have been limited under Arsene Wenger.

Crystal Palace are interested in signing Arsenal defender Calum Chambers, according to Sky sources. Sky Sports News HQ understands the 22-year-old, who spent last season on loan at relegated Middlesbrough, is valued at around £20m. Chambers has not been included on Arsenal’s tour to Australia and China because he played for England in the U21 European Championship in Poland, after which he remains on holiday. Chambers was a £16m signing from Southampton three years ago but has struggled for a first-team place at the Emirates. He made 36 appearances for the Gunners in his first season but made only two Premier League starts in his second season and moved to Boro last summer.

Meanwhile, Gunners full-back Mathieu Debuchy is expected to complete a move to Nice in the next 48 hours, according to Europe1 Sports. The French defender, who made 13 appearances in three seasons under Wenger, is set to undergo a medical before joining the Ligue 1 club on a free transfer as a replacement for Ricardo Pereira, who returned to Porto after a two-year loan. Debuchy, 31, spent part of 2015-16 on loan at Bordeaux, and earned his first Arsenal appearance in 385 days when he played against Bournemouth. However, he lasted 14 minutes before picking up an injury.

Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny is also set to leave the Emirates for Juventus, according to the Guardian. The Polish goalkeeper, who’s been on loan at Roma for the past two seasons, has reportedly agreed a deal in principle to join the Italian champions. The transfer fee for the 27-year-old Polish international is expected to be around £10m. His long-term contract will be worth about £70,000 a week as he plays back-up to Gigi Buffon.

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Lacazette Signs For Arsenal

Alexandre Lacazette has agreed to join us Arsenal on a long-term contract, for an undisclosed fee. He is expected to travel with the tour party to Sydney this weekend and is likely to make his home debut in the Emirates Cup on July 29 or July 30. Alexandre Lacazette says he is “fulfilling a dream” by joining the Gunners – and he certainly looks right at home in Arsenal colours. The France international became Arsenal’s second summer signing when he agreed to join from Lyon – and he took part in a photoshoot at London Colney recently.

Alexandre Lacazette completed his £52.7m move to Arsenal from Lyon and said it represented the fulfilment of a childhood dream. The 26-year-old supported Lyon as a boy – he went on to play for his hometown club at first-team level for eight seasons – but, like many French players of his age, he considered Arsenal to be a reference point.

Lacazette entered the Lyon academy as a 12-year-old for the 2003-04 season – the year that Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires helped Arsenal to the Invincibles title-winning season, and it made an impression on him. He has signed a five-year contract at the Emirates Stadium and he said he was further attracted by the club’s managerial stability – Arsène Wenger has been in charge since 1996 – and their style of football, which he believes is the best in England.

Lacazette will travel with the squad on Sunday for the pre-season tour of Australia and China while he will play his first home game in the club’s colours at the Emirates Cup on 29-30 July. He has become Arsenal’s record signing and he arrives on the back of three particularly prolific seasons at Lyon. Last time out, he had the best shot-conversion rate of any forward who scored 20-plus goals in Europe’s leading five divisions.

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Two Belgian Players Linked With Arsenal

According to a Portugese media outlet Arsenal are set to make a move for William Carvalho and Gelson Martins in a double deal with Sporting Lisbon. Portuguese publication A Bola claim a move worth a combined £70million for midfielder Carvalho and winger Martins. Wenger wants to beef up his midfield options with Carvalho, who has been linked with a move to the Premier League for the last four years during his time in Portugal. Carvalho has already been linked with a move to Manchester City this window with his club likely to sell at the right price. Martins comes with the added advantage of being able to operate as a full-back or in a more advanced position.

Wenger saw his side lose too many midfield battles last term, with Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka struggling to live up to his £30m billing since joining from Borussia Moenchengladbach last summer. Carvalho, 25, was close to joining  Manchester United before the departure of David Moyes in 2014. The Portuguese international has also been linked with a switch to Manchester City this summer as Pep Guardiola looks to reshape his Etihad squad ahead of his second season in England. Martins, 22, who bagged seven goals in 43 appearances in all competitions for Sporting last season, could prove a useful addition at the Emirates with his ability to operate as a winger or full-back.

The Gunners have already added Sead Kolasinac from Schalke on a free transfer and are close to sealing a deal for Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette for £44m. Arsenal are still in the hunt for Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez but are fighting to keep hold of Olivier Giroud, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alexis Sanchez. The Chile forward, who will take a short break after his country lost in the final of the Confederations Cup to Germany, claims he has already decided where h ewill play next season. The 28-year-old has had plenty of opportunity to pledge his future to Arsenal while speculation links him with a big move to Manchester City or Bayern Munich. But I still don’t see the name that I and several other fans want for defensive duties in Dutchman Virgil Van Dijk from Sunderland. We should have signed him 2 seasons ago.

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Will Arsenal Sign More Players?

Will Arsenal sign more good players during the summer transfer window? It looks like the signing of Alexander Lacazette is getting done and we already have signed Sead Kolasinac on a free transfer. Arsenal are also looking at a few other players. Arsenal have been handed a boost in their pursuit of Thomas Lemar, with the Monaco midfielder reportedly keen to work with Arsene Wenger at the Emirates. Lemar is one of a number of Monaco players attracting interest this summer after the French outfit won Ligue 1 while also making waves in Europe. And according to Get French Football, the 21-year-old midfielder has made it clear to Arsenal that he hopes to work with Wenger next season. It is claimed Lemar, who played 28 league games for the French champions last season, believes now is the optimum time to move on and would welcome a switch to England.

And Italian website  Calciomercato.it are claiming that the Gunners have also completed a deal for Leicester’s Mahrez. The Algeria international played a key role in the Foxes’ title win in 2016, scoring 18 goals across all competitions. But that number dropped to 10 last season with Leicester struggling under Claudio Ranieri – something that ultimately cost the Italian his job. Mahrez has since asked to leave the King Power Stadium, with the 26-year-old attracting interest from Barcelona. But Arsenal now appear set to win the race for his signature. The report adds than an announcement will be made ‘soon’ but does not provide any details of transfer fee of contract for the player.

Last summer the signing of Mahrez, the 2016 Premier League player of the year, would have created much excitement amongst Arsenal fans but this summer it doesn’t seem to be generating much interest. This is due to the lackluster season, in comparison with the previous high standards, that the Algerian had. Will we see one or possibly two of these signings? I dunno. I still think we need to get another top defender and if possible sell Ramsey or Ozil and get another creative midfielder.

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Arsenal Buying Lacazette : Done Deal?

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger ‘to shatter transfer record with £50m Alexandre Lacazette swoop with deal set to be completed this weekend’. The French striker is set to snub a potential January move to Atletico Madrid to sign on the dotted line for Arsene Wenger’s men. The deal will smash the current highest fee the Gunners have paid out. Mesut Ozil joined the club back in 2013 for £42.5m from Real Madrid. French newspaper L’Equipe are reporting that the 26-year-old has been swayed by Wenger to take up the challenge of playing in the Premier League.

And BBC Sport are saying that the Gunners are “close to completing the Lacazette deal”, and that a fee has been agreed and he just has to “have medical and finalise terms”. But Lyon are desperate to find a replacement BEFORE closing the finer details of any move. The French club’s president has previously admitted to receiving a “very nice” over from Arsenal for the striker. Earlier this week Arsenal’s chief executive Ivan Gazidis revealed the Gunners will target quality not quantity this summer. His Lyon counterpart Jean-Michel Aulas confirmed that talks were ongoing between the two parties. BBC Sport’s David Ornstein says the deal is close to being done with both sides putting the finishing touches on the fee.

Ornstein reports that the France international will undergo a medical and thrash out a contract when the two clubs come to an agreement. Lacazette is hot property after bagging 37 goals in 45 appearances in all competitions last term. He has played over 250 matches across all competitions for Lyon since 2010, scoring over 100 goals. In 2014–15 he was Ligue 1’s top scorer with 27 goals in 33 games, and also the UNFP Ligue 1 Player of the Year. From a Guadeloupean family, Lacazette started playing football at the age of 7 in his local club Elan Sportif in the 8th arrondissement of Lyon.

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Arsenal’s Arseholes Resigns The Arsehole Wanker

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has agreed a new two-year contract, extending his 21-year reign at the club. Wenger and club owner Stan Kroenke met on Monday to determine the Frenchman’s future, with the decision relayed to directors at a Tuesday board meeting. Arsenal are planning to make an official announcement on Wednesday. The Gunners were fifth in the Premier League this season, the first time they have finished outside the top four since the Frenchman joined in 1996. They finished 18 points behind champions Chelsea, but beat the Blues 2-1 to win the FA Cup at Wembley on Saturday. Wenger’s contract was set to finish at the end of the current campaign.

So now we know! The board at Arsenal and Kronke are spineless lot. They have no backbone to speak off and have no vision beyond this arrogant geezer who has lost the plot and has no clue as to what is good for the club or what the fans want. Wenger is beyond hopeless, he used to be a good manager because he has a good team around him and really good players. His medical staff and coaching team now are worthless. This FA Cup came with a bittertaste of nasty medicine. The board are happy with the FA Cup win and 5th place. In any big club Wenger would have been out, kicked out and down on his ass. At Arsenal because we have the greediest bunch of sleezy morons running things, he gets a new 2 year contract.

Get ready for 2 more dismal seasons of terrible performances and rubbish talk from Wenger where he puts the blame everywhere but where it should be – himself and his lackeys at the board!

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Arsenal Wins FA Cup 2017

Arsene Wenger secured his record seventh FA Cup final win as Arsenal produced a magnificent display to win a Wembley thriller against 10-man Chelsea. Alexis Sanchez gave Arsenal the lead in contentious fashion after only four minutes, when referee Anthony Taylor overruled his assistant after he had flagged for offside against Aaron Ramsey. The Premier League champions also claimed Sanchez handled in the build-up. And their task became even harder when Victor Moses was correctly sent off by Taylor in the second half after receiving a second yellow card for diving. Diego Costa revived Chelsea’s hopes of a repeat of their league and FA Cup double in 2010 when Arsenal keeper David Ospina failed to keep out his deflected shot with 14 minutes left.

Arsenal, outstanding throughout, refused to be denied and were back in front inside three minutes when Ramsey, who scored the FA Cup final winner against Hull City in 2014, did it again with a header from substitute Olivier Giroud’s cross. Wenger pumped his fists in delight at the final whistle, as a season that has brought so much criticism for the 67-year-old ended in Wembley glory with a record 13th FA Cup win for the Gunners – and a record seventh for the Frenchman. Arsene Wenger was right when he said the season has been a tough one for the players and fans, but they turned up today.

They had one mindset, to walk off as winners, and that was clear to see. They played the better football and wanted it more. The Chelsea players were hanging their heads but they had an unbelievable season. On the day, not enough players turned up, they did not deserve to win. Arsenal defender Rob Holding had a fantastic semi-final too and he was under the spotlight, as was Per Mertesacker. Both players put on a huge display. What a performance Mesut Ozil put in too. Man for man, they were much better than Chelsea. I cannot believe how ordinary Arsenal made Chelsea look. The Premier League champions could not handle Arsenal’s footballing ability in the middle of the pitch. They could not get any rhythm or get on the ball. It was their best display of the season.

Wenger finally gave full vent to his feelings about the criticism he received this season in the Wembley build-up – describing it as “a disgrace” he will “never forget.” And here at Wembley he answered the critics eloquently as Arsenal delivered an outstanding performance in an enthralling final to secure a win they fully merited. It was all done in front of Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke, a staunch supporter of his manager in the face of mounting criticism, and with a decision still pending on Wenger’s future. Wenger’s stock has fallen in the eyes of Arsenal fans as the team have struggled at times this season, failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 20 years. Here however, Wenger coaxed and cajoled an inspired 90 minutes out of his Arsenal side in a performance that can rank alongside their finest in recent seasons.

Danny Welbeck and Aaron Ramsey both hit the woodwork in a matter of seconds in the first half and Ozil struck it deep in the second half. Chelsea defender Gary Cahill also made two excellent clearances as Arsenal created enough chances to win comfortably. Wenger, watching throughout in shirtsleeves, looked remarkably calm given the prize on offer and how much was riding on this Wembley final for him and his reputation. Arsenal were sharper, more aggressive and more creative than Chelsea – their only anxiety coming when they led by just one goal after a first 45 minutes they dominated completely. And The Gunners even refused to be knocked off course when Chelsea, reduced to 10 men after Moses’ sending off, were gifted an equaliser when Ospina pushed feebly at Costa’s deflected shot in the 76th minute. If Wenger needed to produce evidence that he can still win the big prizes and still get his Arsenal side to produce the big performance, then this was it.

Wenger was effectively forced to plunge veteran German defender Per Mertesacker into action after only 37 minutes playing time this season as he wrestled with a defensive crisis – and how the 32-year-old rewarded him. The Gunners were without suspended Laurent Koscielny, injured Gabriel and Shkodran Mustafi, who was suffering from concussion. It meant a call-up for Mertesacker against the most demanding Premier League opponents of all. Arsenal have beaten Chelsea twice in a season [in all competitions] for the first time since 2003-04. Per Mertesacker started his first game for Arsenal since 30 April 2016 [against Norwich], 392 days ago. At three minutes 49 seconds, Alexis Sanchez’s opening goal was Arsenal’s fastest ever in an FA Cup final. Sanchez has scored in five successive games for Arsenal in all competitions for the first time.

The Chilean has been directly involved in 45 goals in 51 appearances for Arsenal this season [30 goals, 15 assists]. Victor Moses is the fifth player to be sent off in an FA Cup final after Chris Smalling [Manchester United in 2016], Pablo Zabaleta [Manchester City in 2013], Jose Antonio Reyes [Arsenal in 2005], Kevin Moran [Manchester United in 1985]. Diego Costa netted his 22nd goal of the season for Chelsea in all competitions – his best-ever return in a single campaign for the Blues. Olivier Giroud has had a hand in four goals in his past four games for Arsenal in all competitions [three goals, one assist].

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Arsenal 3 Everton 1

Arsenal missed out on a place in the Champions League for the first time in 20 years despite beating Everton on the final day of the season. Arsene Wenger’s side got the win they required despite having defender Laurent Koscielny sent off for a reckless first-half challenge on Everton’s Enner Valencia. He will now serve a suspension that will keep him out of the FA Cup final against Chelsea at Wembley. Arsenal took the lead early on through Hector Bellerin’s far-post finish and Alexis Sanchez scrambled in a second after Koscielny’s dismissal to put the Gunners in control. It was to no avail as Liverpool completed their task by beating Middlesbrough to finish fourth.

The Gunners did end the league campaign with a flourish though thanks to Aaron Ramsey’s brilliant injury-time strike from 20 yards after Romelu Lukaku pulled a goal back for Everton from the penalty spot. The hosts, who also had defender Gabriel taken off injured on a stretcher, now turn their attention to Wembley, after which an announcement on manager Wenger’s future will be made. Arsenal’s failure to reach the Champions League will come as a seismic shock to a club that has made it their permanent home for the past two decades – but supporters will hope it acts as a wake-up call. The Gunners have dropped away from the serious title challengers in recent years and the failure to make Europe’s elite competition brings the recent decline under Wenger into sharper focus. Arsenal cannot afford to be fooled by the recent improvement in performances or even if they win the FA Cup against Chelsea at Wembley.

There is still real talent within the team and the idea of losing talisman and inspiration Sanchez is unthinkable. But results have proved once more that they are nowhere near title-winning material and yet another exit at the last-16 stage of the Champions League is a brutal reflection of their wider status. It now looks certain Wenger will be staying as manager and there can be no excuses for a disappointing league campaign. Arsenal’s supporters set aside any discontent aimed at Wenger to give their side full support as they chased the unlikely possibility of a place in next season’s Champions League. And it was only when news broke of Gini Wijnaldum scoring for Liverpool against Middlesbrough at Anfield that the voices of rebellion were heard.

In the second half, loud chants of “Stan Kroenke get out of our club” echoed around Emirates Stadium in protest against the American owner who many Gunners fans feel has presided over Arsenal’s recent relative fall from grace. There was also a small number of protest banners unfurled after the final whistle as Arsenal’s players waited to go on a lap of appreciation. It was also done against the backdrop of Kroenke ignoring a £1.3bn takeover bid from Arsenal’s other main shareholder Alisher Usmanov, who holds a 30% stake in the club. An appearance in the FA Cup final and the possibility of ending the season with a trophy has perhaps put serious protests on the back-burner – but there is still unhappiness lurking not far beneath the surface from a fan base who are demanding better.

The Gunners have scored 95 Premier League goals against Everton – more than any club has against another in the competition’s history. Danny Welbeck provided two assists in a single Premier League game for only the second time – the other was in April 2012 for Manchester United, also against Everton. Laurent Koscielny has been sent off five times since his Premier League debut in August 2010 – no player has been red carded more in that time [Tom Huddlestone and Younes Kaboul also five]. The Gunners have conceded 10 penalty goals this season, one of just two sides in Premier League history to ship double figures of goals from the spot [Hull, 11 also this season].

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Arsenal 2 Sunderland 0

Arsenal ensured the race to finish in the Premier League’s top four will go down to the final day of the season with a laboured win against relegated Sunderland. Alexis Sanchez tapped in Mesut Ozil’s square pass to the relief of those inside a sparsely populated Emirates Stadium. As Arsenal increased in urgency, Sanchez bundled in Olivier Giroud’s cut-back to renew their hopes of a top-four finish for a 21st successive season. Despite having 36 attempts at goal – the most in a Premier League game since 2003 – the Gunners could not wipe out fourth-placed Liverpool’s superior goal difference. Arsenal are a point behind the Reds – who are two goals better off – ahead of Sunday’s final matches. Arsene Wenger’s men must beat seventh-placed Everton and hope the Reds slip up against relegated Middlesbrough at Anfield. Arsenal started the evening needing to win – preferably by a big margin – if they were to have any realistic hope of sneaking into the top four. They knew defeat against rock-bottom Sunderland, who had managed just three away victories all season, would end their hopes if Manchester City beat West Brom.

And with City cruising to a 3-1 win in their game, even a draw would have left Arsenal struggling. Until Sanchez’s late intervention, it looked as though Wenger’s side would be left frustrated by a lack of conviction in front of goal and some stubborn Sunderland defending. The Gunners found the breakthrough with 20 minutes left, Granit Xhaka picking out Ozil with a clever chip over the defence that was put back across goal by the German for Sanchez to tap in. Arsenal knew just a draw against Everton on the final day might be enough to catch Liverpool if they wiped out the Reds’ superior goal difference, and Wenger urged his side to push for more goals from the touchline. Sanchez was lurking in the six-yard box at the right time to convert Giroud’s volleyed pass to double the lead, but despite a late flurry that saw Shkodran Mustafi hit the woodwork the hosts were unable to add to their tally. “Sunderland did fight and that’s what you want from every team,” said Wenger afterwards.

Arsenal have endured a turbulent season blighted by confusion over Wenger’s future, protests from supporters demanding change and concerns that Sanchez and Ozil may be sold this summer. Swathes of empty red seats at a hushed Emirates Stadium illustrated the apathy of some Gunners fans, the subdued atmosphere compounded by Arsenal failing to make their early dominance count. The Gunners created 18 efforts in a frustrating first half, only to be let down by wayward finishing and another impressive display by Black Cats goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. The 23-year-old boosted his burgeoning reputation with several instinctive saves after the break as Arsenal continued to pile on the pressure before Sanchez’s late double. However, creeping past an already-relegated side is unlikely to appease the unhappy Arsenal fans who believe Wenger is not the man to take them forward. Wenger’s contract expires at the end of the season and, although the club has offered him a two-year deal, he again refused to answer questions about his future after the match.

Arsenal finish in the top four if:
They win and Liverpool fail to beat Middlesbrough
They draw 0-0 or 1-1 and Liverpool lose by three goals or more
They earn a score draw of 2-2 and Liverpool lose 2-0 (or they draw 3-3 and Liverpool lose 3-1, and so on)
They win, and Manchester City lose – with a minimum five-goal swing in goal difference
Liverpool finish in the top four if:
They win, or they match or better Arsenal’s result
But… both sides could also finish level on points, goal difference and goals scored – resulting in a fourth-placed play-off

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Stoke City 1 Arsenal 4

Champions League-chasing Arsenal moved within a point of fourth-placed Liverpool with a comfortable Premier League victory over Stoke. Despite collecting the three points, manager Arsene Wenger faced further protests from his own supporters during the game, as they flew a plane over the Bet365 Stadium and held banners inside the ground calling for him to leave the club. But the Frenchman ended the game by receiving warm applause from the club’s travelling fans as he made his way down the tunnel at the final whistle. The Gunners had not won on their previous six visits to the venue, but took the lead with a well-crafted move as Hector Bellerin picked out Olivier Giroud for a tap-in before Alexis Sanchez combined with Mesut Ozil, who coolly tucked home in the second period.

Until their opening goal it had been a poor spectacle, with Nacho Monreal heading against the post and Sanchez dragging an effort into the side-netting from a promising position. Stoke controversially restored hope as Peter Crouch converted Marko Arnautovic’s cross with his hand, but Sanchez drilled in a low finish and Giroud slid in a fourth for the away side. Both Arsenal and Liverpool have two games remaining and are level on goal difference with the Gunners ahead by one on goals scored. Jurgen Klopp’s men travel to West Ham on Sunday (kick-off 14:15 BST) and play Middlesbrough on the last day of the season, while the north London club host Sunderland on Tuesday and Everton in their final league match next weekend.

Wenger’s season has been blighted by protests demanding he end his long association with the club, repeated questions over whether he will sign an extension to his contract, which runs out at the end of the season, and uncertainty over the futures of key players Sanchez and Ozil. But he will be pleased with the way his players have responded with the campaign coming to a close, taking five wins from their past six league games – the only blemish a weak display in their defeat by Tottenham. He was even afforded a standing ovation at full-time and will be particularly satisfied at triumphing at a venue where his side have struggled in the past, claiming their first win there since 2010. Wenger jumped off his seat and jigged in delight at Sanchez’s goal, which gave his team a cushion.

The Chilean, who has been linked with a move away, hobbled off with a leg injury after scoring and fans will be hoping it is not the last time they see him in an Arsenal shirt. A season that promised so little at one stage could actually turn into a celebratory one. Their late charge sees them maintain optimism of extending their Champions League participation to 22 consecutive seasons, and they have an FA Cup final against newly crowned Premier League champions Chelsea to look forward to. Arsenal have scored 4+ goals in five away league games this season. It’s their most in a season since 1936-37 (also five). Sanchez became the eighth player to score 50 Premier League goals for Arsenal, with only Thierry Henry (83 games) and Ian Wright (87) reaching the milestone faster than the Chilean (101). Sanchez is also the first player to record double figures for both goals (21) and assists (10) in the Premier League this season. Since the start of last season, only Ozil (31) and Sanchez (25) have recorded more assists for Arsenal in all competitions than Hector Bellerin (13), with the Spaniard picking up two today.

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Southampton 0 Arsenal 2

Arsenal kept alive their hopes of a top-four Premier League finish as second-half goals from Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud earned victory at Southampton. After a dull first half, Sanchez produced a moment of magic to open the scoring when the Chilean wrong-footed two defenders in the box before calmly slotting home. Substitute Giroud then made the win safe by nodding in from close range minutes after coming onto the pitch. Mid-table Southampton rarely threatened. Their best chance came in the first half when Manolo Gabbiadini forced a fine save out of Petr Cech from close range, and they stay 10th. The win means Arsenal move above Manchester United into fifth, three points behind fourth-placed Manchester City. An awful run of form from January until early April had seriously threatened to end Arsene Wenger’s record of securing a top four finish in every season he has had at Arsenal. However, four wins in their six games prior to the trip to St Mary’s had given hope that the season would not peter out. In what was a must-win game, Arsenal’s players initially failed to rise to the challenge.

They were ponderous in possession and lacked bite in attack. Too often they played passes square just inside the Southampton half before gifting possession back to the hosts when they approached the final third. But in Sanchez they possess a player capable of producing something from nothing and that is exactly what he did midway through the second half. His goal, which came after he sold two Southampton players a dummy to give himself a clear shot on goal, visibly relaxed Arsenal and from then on they played with confidence and freedom, allowing them to open up the hosts for a second time when Giroud headed in Aaron Ramsey’s cross. The only negative for Arsenal was the loss of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to injury in the second half, although Wenger suggested it was not serious. Sanchez has now scored 20 goals this season, making him only the fifth Arsenal player to reach that mark, after Ian Wright, Thierry Henry, Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie.

It was also his 14th away from home – more than another Premier League player has managed this campaign. Victory not only moves Arsenal, who face Chelsea in the FA Cup final later this month, to within one win of Manchester City, but also four points behind Liverpool, who have played a game more. In a season that has seen protests against Wenger and some fans calling for the Frenchman to leave, the possibility they could finish with FA Cup success and a place in the top four is a very real one. Arsenal ended a run of five winless Premier League games at St Mary’s, claiming their first win there since December 2003. This is Sanchez’s best ever league goal return in the top five European leagues, beating his previous best of 19 in 2013-14 with Barcelona. The Gunners have won four of their past five Premier League games (L1) since adopting a three-man defence. Olivier Giroud has six Premier League substitute goals this season – only Adam Le Fondre (eight in 2012-13) has more in a single campaign than the Frenchman. Giroud’s goal was his 100th in the top-flight of European football (33 in Ligue 1, 67 in the Premier League).

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Arsenal 2 Manchester United 0

Arsenal ended Manchester United’s 25-match unbeaten run in the Premier League and kept up their hopes of securing a place in the top four. After a largely uneventful first half, Granit Xhaka opened the scoring with a deflected shot from distance, which looped over goalkeeper David de Gea. And they doubled their lead three minutes later when Danny Welbeck headed home against his former club after a pinpoint cross from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Jose Mourinho introduced Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard to try to rescue the game, but they failed to bring the visitors to life. The result means Arsenal remain in sixth place but are two points off United in fifth and six points off Manchester City in fourth, with a game in hand over both teams.

This victory not only reignites Arsenal’s chase for a Champions League place, but also ends an unwanted record for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger against Jose Mourinho. The pair have endured a fractious relationship over the years, and in their previous 15 competitive meetings Wenger had never beaten a Mourinho team, with his only victory coming in the Community Shield in 2015. Mourinho has won eight times, while the remaining seven were drawn. Sunday’s win ended the hoodoo and earned Arsenal only their 13th league win in 50 outings against the Red Devils. There is still uncertainty about Wenger’s future at the club, despite them still being in with a chance of Champions League football for the 21st consecutive season, and an FA Cup final against Chelsea coming up this month. When asked by BBC commentator Jonathan Pearce about whether he would be interviewing Wenger next season, the Frenchman joked: “You want me to work for the BBC?”

Both teams had four shots on target during the match but it was Arsenal who made them count. After a dull start to the second half, the Emirates came alive when Xhaka ran into space and took a shot from 30 yards out which was helped on its way by Herrera and out-smarted De Gea. The Gunners kept up the pace and exactly three minutes and 11 seconds later, Welbeck had notched his second Premier League goal of the season. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s right-wing cross whistled over the box and Welbeck rose up between the United defence to land a bullet header. Arsenal offered little in attack after the goals, but they did not need to. Mourinho revealed before the match he intended to rest key players, with one eye on the Europa League semi-final second leg against Celta Vigo, in which his team have a 1-0 advantage. The European competition could represent United’s best chance of reaching next season’s Champions League.

The United manager made eight changes in total and his side never looked like causing a major threat. Goalkeeper De Gea kept them in the match at half-time, producing a low stop to deny Aaron Ramsey’s effort, before making a brilliant save from a rasping Oxlade-Chamberlain shot from distance. United were undone by two quick goals early in the second half, and their only notable efforts after that came from Rooney and substitute Scott McTominay, who tried to poke home late on. United’s unbeaten league run has come to an end at 25 games (W13 D12), with losses on either side coming in London. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has provided as many assists for Arsenal this season in the Premier League as in his previous five combined for the Gunners (seven).

This was the first time Oxlade-Chamberlain had assisted twice in the same Premier League game. Danny Welbeck has scored in each of his last three appearances against Manchester United for Arsenal in all competitions. Two English players combined for a Premier League goal for Arsenal for the first time since December 2014 (also Oxlade-Chamberlain for Welbeck, v West Ham). Manchester United conceded more than once away from home in the Premier League for the first time since losing 4-0 to Chelsea in October. Arsenal have won successive home Premier League games against the Red Devils for the first time since November 2001. Arsenal, meanwhile, have a midweek Premier League trip to Southampton on Wednesday (19:45 BST).