Troy Deeney, Teeny Weeny

The chance of scoring a penalty fell to Watford captain Troy Deeney after Pereyra had been fouled in the penalty area by a combination of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Alex Iwobi. However, Deeney, much to the delight of the home fans, had the resulting spot-kick saved by Cech.

After Watford’s 2-1 win over Arsenal at Vicarage Road in October, Deeney criticised the Gunners’ players and their character. After that match, he said: “There’s a reason they lost. It’s having a bit of cojones. Whenever I play against Arsenal, I’ll go up and think ‘let me whack the first one and see who wants it’. “They all just backed off. For me as a player, I just think ‘happy days’.” But Deeney, who had scored three times in his past four appearances, had a day to forget on Sunday as his penalty was too close to Cech in the middle of the goal, and the Czech saved it.

Where are your cojones Deeney? Or shall we just called you Troy Deeney, Teeney Weeney! You piece of shit, karma just came and bit you in the ass.

Arsenal 3 Watford 0

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said his team had to “get the fans back on our side again” after ending a run of three successive Premier League defeats with a fine win over Watford. Despite an official attendance of 59,131, there were empty seats all around the Emirates with a number of season-ticket holders seemingly put off by the Gunners’ disappointing league season. Goals from Shkodran Mustafi, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan gave Wenger’s side their first league win since beating Everton 5-1 on 3 February. Watford, beaten for only the second time in six matches, saw Troy Deeney’s penalty saved by Petr Cech, who registered the 200th Premier League clean sheet of his career to become the first keeper to reach that mark.

The win leaves the Gunners sixth, 10 points behind fourth-placed Tottenham who are in the final Champions League spot. However, Arsenal could still qualify for next season’s Champions League if they win the Europa League, and that competition affected Arsene Wenger’s team selection on Sunday. With Arsenal holding a 2-0 lead against AC Milan and playing the second leg of their last-16 tie at home on Thursday, Wenger took a risk by making six changes. Aaron Ramsey and Laurent Koscielny were rested, with Jack Wilshere only on the bench, but the gamble paid off for Arsenal. Those Arsenal fans who had turned up were almost celebrating after only two minutes when Aubameyang was clean through, but he was denied by a fine save by Orestis Karnezis.

But the Gunners took the lead only six minutes later when Mesut Ozil’s free-kick from the left touchline was powerfully headed in by Mustafi. Aubameyang, Ozil and Granit Xhaka were denied by Karnezis, before Aubameyang made it 2-0, collecting Mkhitaryan’s pass and taking the ball around the Watford keeper. After Deeney’s penalty miss, Mkhitaryan added a third when he shot past Karnezis following Aubameyang’s pass for his first league goal for the Gunners. With the Europa League on Wenger’s mind, the Frenchman was able to take Mkhitaryan off late on for Wilshere, although Mustafi is now a doubt for Thursday’s match after he limped off in the second half.

Arsene Wenger registered his 700th Arsenal win in his 1,222nd match in charge of the Gunners. Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil became the fastest player to reach 50 Premier League assists, doing so in just 141 games and breaking the record held by former Manchester United forward Eric Cantona (143 games). Petr Cech made his first Premier League penalty save since February 2011 for Chelsea against Fulham – it was also the 16th he had faced in all competitions for Arsenal and the first one he had saved for the Gunners. Cech registered his 200th Premier League clean sheet, the first goalkeeper to achieve this feat in the competition’s history. Henrikh Mkhitaryan now has the same record this season in nine appearances for Arsenal in all competitions as he did in 22 games for Manchester United (two goals, five assists).

No Trust In Wenger

Eighty-eight per cent of Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) members who responded to a survey say they do not support Arsene Wenger remaining in charge of the club beyond the end of the season. Why the fuck is he still here? The Arsenal board are a bunch of spineless and ball-less men who have their heads up their asses. They should get rid of Arsene right now! Now! Immediately and dump him on his ass.

FURIOUS Arsenal stars are stabbing each other in the back over the club’s dreadful run of form. The blame game in the Arsenal dressing room began after Brighton condemned them to a fourth successive defeat. Arsenal have no hope of finishing in the top four of the Premier League and face a tough Europa League clash with Milan on Thursday. Wenger is under massive pressure at Arsenal, but remains hopeful he can still get back into the Champions League if they can go all the way in the Europa. There is zero chance of that happening.

This team has no leaders and is desperate of having a voice in the squad. Sell Xhaka, Bellerin, Cech, Mustafi, Welbeck, fucking Iwobi and well Mertesacker is retiring so that’s ok. Sell, sell or trade away and bring in better players.

Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Arsenal 1

Brighton beat Arsenal for the first time since 1982 to increase the pressure on Gunners boss Arsene Wenger. Lewis Dunk put Brighton ahead when he hooked the ball home from a corner after it dropped to him inside the six-yard box. The Seagulls added a second when Laurent Koscielny’s misplaced pass was intercepted and Pascal Gross teased a high cross into the box for Glenn Murray to head past Petr Cech. Arsenal pulled a goal back when Brighton failed to clear their lines. Granit Xhaka fed the ball into Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who cleverly flicked the ball home with the outside of his boot.

Arsenal dominated possession in the second half and had a late chance to equalise through Aubameyang but he could only shoot straight at Mathew Ryan. The Gunners were also fortunate not to have Sead Kolasinac, who had already been booked, sent off for a challenge that ended Ezequiel Schelotto’s involvement. Arsenal were meek in back-to-back 3-0 defeats to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley last Sunday and at the Emirates in the Premier League four days later. Losing to Pep Guardiola’s irresistible champions-elect is one thing, but to a Brighton side battling relegation will not be so palatable for Arsenal fans growing increasingly tired of Wenger’s reign. It was the first time the Gunners had lost four consecutive matches since October 2002 in a run that saw them beaten by Everton, Auxerre, Blackburn and Borussia Dortmund.

They were defending champions that season and ended the campaign as runners-up to Manchester United but retained the FA Cup. Over 15 years later and things are not quite so rosy for Wenger with the club seemingly in terminal decline. Wenger, initially at least, did not look like a man under pressure at the Amex as he warmly embraced Brighton counterpart Chris Hughton and shared a joke with a photographer. However, by early in the second half with his side 2-1 down his mood darkened and he nervously pulled apart a coffee stirrer as he sat on the bench.

The travelling fans, who held up ‘Wenger out’ banners at the final whistle, will want the Arsenal board to wake up and smell it.

Arsenal 0 Manchester City 3

Manchester City produced a scintillating performance to comprehensively beat Arsenal for the second time in five days and extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to 16 points. With just 10 games remaining, City need five victories to clinch the title. “We are close. It’s in our hands, we can’t deny it,” manager Pep Guardiola said. “These are the last steps to be champions. You keep going until the end.” After beating the Gunners 3-0 in the Carabao Cup final on Sunday, City dominated in a toxic atmosphere at a half-full Emirates Stadium.

Bernardo Silva opened the scoring in the 15th minute, beautifully curling in a left-footed strike into the far corner after Leroy Sane’s mazy run. David Silva finished off a fine team move in the 28th minute for City’s second before Sane did the same five minutes later. Arsenal had the opportunity to cut the deficit shortly after half-time but Ederson saved Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s penalty.

“We played with low confidence, you could see that at the start of the game and we paid for it,” Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said. “We lost to a team that is the best in the country at the moment.” The result sees City pull further away from Manchester United at the top of the table and marks Guardiola’s 100th game at the club with a win. Arsenal, meanwhile, stay sixth, 10 points off the top four.

Arsenal 0 Manchester City 3

Pep Guardiola secured his first trophy as Manchester City manager as they overpowered Arsenal to win the Carabao Cup in convincing fashion at Wembley. City responded to Monday’s shock FA Cup fifth-round defeat by League One Wigan Athletic in style as they swept aside Arsenal and now turn their attention to clinching the Premier League and continuing their Champions League campaign. Sergio Aguero gave City an 18th-minute lead when he took full advantage of Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi’s feeble challenge to latch on to keeper Claudio Bravo’s goal-kick and loft a cool finish over David Ospina. Arsenal were toothless apart from one early opening when Kyle Walker stopped Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the six-yard area and the contest was effectively over when man-of-the-match Vincent Kompany swept in Ilkay Gundogan’s cross-shot just before the hour.

David Silva put the final flourish on City and Guardiola’s day with a powerful shot past Ospina before City closed out the most routine of victories. There was one contentious note which may draw further attention from the Football Association as Guardiola wore his trademark yellow ribbon, which he displays in supported of imprisoned politicians in his native Catalonia, despite facing a charge from English football’s governing body for “wearing a political message”. If one moment summed up Arsenal’s performance, it was the dismal manner in which Mustafi was left appealing limply for a foul after failing to deal with a routine long goal-kick from Bravo, a light-as-a-feather touch from Aguero paving the way for him to beat the onrushing Ospina.

Arsenal, quite simply, were overpowered with no answer to City’s quality once a lacklustre first 45 minutes gave way to a second half in which Guardiola’s side camped out in Gunners territory. Lightweight, loose in possession and defensively weak, Arsenal were no match for City. When the final whistle blew, the portion of Wembley where Arsenal’s fans were housed was virtually deserted, many taking Silva’s third goal as the signal to head for the exits and beat the rush home. Few could blame them as this was a painful experience. This was a chastening afternoon for Wenger as another trophy hope was ended – faced with the cold, hard reality that Arsenal look light years behind this burgeoning, developing Manchester City.

Arsenal 1 Osterunds FK 2

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said his side were complacent as they survived a huge scare against Swedish minnows Ostersunds FK to claim a place in the last 16 of the Europa League. The Gunners won the first leg 3-0 but one of football’s great shocks looked possible at half-time after the visitors struck two goals in 70 seconds. Graham Potter’s side, who have risen from Sweden’s fourth tier since 2010, were on top in the first half and led 2-0 thanks to Calum Chambers’ own goal – deflecting in Hosam Aiesh’s shot – and Ken Sema’s clinical strike. But the Gunners – who named a reasonably strong side only three days before their Carabao Cup final with Manchester City – improved slightly after the break and Sead Kolasinac finished from Hector Bellerin’s cross to relieve the sense of dread inside Emirates Stadium.

“We were not at the races in the first half,” said Wenger, who saw his side booed off at half-time and full-time. “I think in the second half it was much better and we should have scored a few goals. “In the first half we were in trouble and in danger because we were complacent, not focused and were open every time we lost the ball. We had no ideas with the ball and that’s why we were in trouble. Arsenal, who have never won the Uefa Cup or Europa League, will discover their last-16 opponents at 12:00 GMT on Friday. Ostersund are only the second team to win a game at the Emirates in the Gunners’ last 28 matches – a run dating back to March 2017. Chambers was arguably at fault for both strikes. For the first, he turned home Aiesh’s shot and for the second he was beaten to the ball by Sema and then turned away from the winger’s superb finish.

Things got better in the second half, although had they got worse this would probably have gone down as Wenger’s lowest point as Arsenal boss. Granit Xhaka replaced young midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles at the break and the Gunners looked reasonably comfortable once Kolasinac took advantage of Ronald Mukiibi’s air-kick from Bellerin’s cross to lash home. Danny Welbeck had four chances to score, but he headed two straight at Aly Keita, chipped the other to the goalkeeper and shot straight at him again in the last minute.

Ostersunds FK 0 Arsenal 3

Arsene Wenger praised his Arsenal side for the way they overcame unfamiliar surroundings as they easily beat Swedish side Ostersunds FK to more or less guarantee their place in the last 16 of the Europa League. The game was played in -4C temperatures on a 4G plastic pitch at the Jamtkraft Arena, but the visitors made light of alien conditions to win comfortably. Left-back Nacho Monreal scored the Gunners’ first from close range when Ostersund goalkeeper Aly Keita fumbled Alex Iwobi’s strike. Then the home side’s centre-back Sotirios Papagiannopoulos diverted Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s cross into his own net after the Armenian seized on a loose pass.

Ostersund improved after the break but any prospect of a revival was ended by Mesut Ozil, who made a well-timed run into the area and squeezed his shot past Keita for the third, before the hosts had a late penalty saved. “I think we adapted quite well to the pitch,” Wenger said after the game. “[Ostersund] were maybe a bit cautious at the start and we took advantage of it. “I feel that at 2-0 at half-time, it was important for us not to concede a goal and win the second half. “The risk at the start was that I didn’t know how tough the pitch would be for our players. But overall we have no game over the weekend, so it was an easier decision. “The only risk was the injuries. I’m happy we had no problems.”

The 27-year-old Danny Welbeck has only made 12 starts this season, after the club signed France striker Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon for £46.5m in the summer. With Lacazette out for up to six weeks after knee surgery, this was a chance for Welbeck, who has scored five goals this term, to remind everyone of his ability. He skewed an early header badly wide and at other times passed when he should have shot, frequently striking the ball without conviction. The Swedish club’s English manager Graham Potter, who has led them to three promotions since 2010, could at least reflect on a bright performance from striker Saman Ghoddos. The Iran international forced Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina into a couple of saves and led the line with pace and determination. Arsenal host the second leg of the last-32 tie at Emirates Stadium next Thursday (20:05 GMT).

Tottenham Spurs 1 Arsenal 0

Harry Kane’s towering header deservedly settled the north London derby at Wembley in Tottenham’s favour as their surge towards an end-of-season place in the Premier League’s top four gathers momentum. Kane soared high above Laurent Koscielny in the 49th minute to direct a Ben Davies cross beyond Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech and move Spurs up to third in the table. And it was only the defiance of Cech that kept a rampant Spurs at bay in the second half, producing a collection of outstanding saves to somehow keep Arsenal in contention as Mauricio Pochettino’s side threatened to run riot. It was a performance that almost earned outplayed Arsenal an unlikely point only for substitute Alexandre Lacazette to waste two last-gasp opportunities, the second when he was clear through on Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris but shot wide of the far post.

Spurs survived the scare – and such was their domination after the break that it would have been a travesty had Arsenal escaped Wembley with a draw. Tottenham were slow to get into their stride in a first 45 minutes characterised by Arsenal’s defensive discipline – but once they moved through the gears the Gunners simply could not live with them. It was only the outstanding Cech that stood between Arsenal and a second-half rout as Spurs simply swamped their opponents after the break with a formidable display of power, pace and sheer intensity. Spurs, at least until Liverpool play Southampton on Sunday and Chelsea meet West Bromwich Albion on Monday night, have now moved into third place in the Premier League and right to the heart of the battle for places in next season’s Champions League.

And on current form, having beaten Manchester United in equally impressive fashion here in their last home league game and performed with such measure and authority to earn a point at Liverpool last weekend, Spurs are making a strong case to be the best of the rest after runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City. Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp would mount their own arguments against that but this was Tottenham’s third powerful statement in less than a fortnight and the perfect preparation for this week’s exacting Champions League last 16 meeting with Juventus in Turin. Once the cobwebs of a lack-lustre first half were blown away, Spurs were irresistible and Arsenal were simply unable to cope with the power of Mousa Dembele in midfield and the creation and running of Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli – combined with the inevitable goalscoring prowess of Kane.

Arsenal 5 Everton 1

Arsenal need to find the right balance between attack and defence if they are to finish the season successfully, manager Arsene Wenger says. Wenger saw Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang score a debut goal and Aaron Ramsey his first hat-trick as his side thumped a disorganised Everton. However, Arsenal have not kept a clean sheet in eight Premier League matches, and finished Saturday’s match five points adrift of a Champions League qualification place. Aubameyang, a club-record £56m signing from Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday, chipped in from fellow new arrival Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s pass as the home side led 4-0 by half-time.

Television replays showed the goal should have been ruled out for offside, although the visitors could hardly claim the decision made a huge difference to the match. Everton conceded three times in the opening 20 minutes amid defensive chaos, with Ramsey touching in the opener from Mkhitaryan’s cross. Laurent Koscielny got in front of Aubameyang to head the second at the far post after Shkodran Mustafi glanced on Mesut Ozil’s corner, before Ramsey scored a deflected third. Aubameyang struck the fourth before half-time, prompting Everton manager Sam Allardyce to abandon his three-man central defence and revert to a back four.

Substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin headed an Everton consolation from Cuco Martina’s left-wing delivery, before Ramsey swept in his hat-trick goal from another low Mkhitaryan cross. Wenger was pleased with Ramsey’s showing, saying: “He is calm in finishing. He used to rush it. Over the years, I think he can get 10-15 goals a season.” However, Arsenal lost goalkeeper Petr Cech to a calf injury in a collision with Oumar Niasse as the striker hit the post in the second half.

In normal circumstances, Ramsey’s hat-trick would have guaranteed him the headlines, but Aubameyang’s high-profile arrival during the week ensured he grabbed the attention. The Gabon striker did much to lift the mood among fans despondent after Tuesday’s 3-1 defeat at Swansea. Aubameyang overcame a midweek illness to start against Everton – and his first display in Arsenal red was perhaps a sign of things to come. There was a well taken goal, although it should not have counted, and a demonstration of his fearsome pace. In one first-half break he raced clear on to an Ozil pass and he was denied only by the knees of Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

Debuchy’s Contract Terminated & He Joins Saint-Etienne

Arsenal right-back Mathieu Debuchy has joined Saint-Etienne on a free transfer after his contract was terminated. The France international has signed a deal with the Ligue 1 side until the end of the season. Debuchy, 32, joined the Gunners from Newcastle in July 2014 but made just 29 appearances for Arsene Wenger’s side due to several long-term injuries. His last appearance was the FA Cup third round defeat by Nottingham Forest earlier this month.

He spent the second half of the 2015-16 season on loan at Bordeaux, but then struggled to recover from a long-term injury. This season he made seven starts, all in cup games. Debuchy joined Arsenal from Newcastle in 2014 after starting for France in that summer’s World Cup, but never regained his starting place after suffering a dislocated shoulder in January 2015.

Olivier Giroud Sold To Chelsea FC

Chelsea have signed Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud on an 18-month deal for about £18m. France international Giroud, 31, leaves Arsenal having scored 105 goals in 253 games since signing from Montpellier for a reported £12m in June 2012. Borussia Dortmund have also confirmed a deal to sign Chelsea forward Michy Batshuayi until the end of the season. Earlier on the closing day of the winter transfer window, Dortmund sold Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Arsenal. “Chelsea is one of the biggest teams in the Premier League – they have won maybe the most trophies in the last six or seven years,” Giroud said in a statement.

“It’s a massive club and I am proud to sign for Chelsea, and I’m looking forward to playing. “Giroud’s final appearance for Arsenal was as a substitute in Tuesday’s 3-1 defeat by Swansea. After his move to Chelsea was confirmed, Giroud thanked Gunners fans for their part in a “beautiful story” after “five and a half amazing years within the Arsenal family”. “I would like to especially thank the fans for their unconditional support upon my arrival,” he wrote on Twitter. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger paid tribute to Giroud’s “great service” to the club.

“He never let us down on the commitment front and he saved us many times,” the Frenchman said. “We signed him from Montpellier and he became a strong, regular international player for France, and we have gone together through good and bad. But always I believe that his behaviour has been top, top class. “He always had his heart 100% in the team and he was committed.” Belgium international Batshuayi, 23, has made 32 league appearances for Chelsea since joining the club from Marseille in July 2016, scoring seven goals.

Chelsea also held talks with Tottenham over a possible swap deal involving Spurs’ Spanish forward Fernando Llorente – but Batshuayi rejected the move as he wanted to be a first-choice striker. In a statement Batshuayi said he was moving to the German club to help achieve his “big goal” of playing at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. “In order to reach my big goal, I want to play as much as I can and score many goals,” he said. Dortmund travel to Cologne for their next Bundesliga match on 2 February.

Arsenal Signs Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Arsenal have signed Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund for a club record £56m. The Gunners had two bids for Aubameyang rejected by Dortmund before agreeing a fee that eclipses the £46.5m they paid for Alexandre Lacazette in July. Arsenal said the 28-year-old – the 2015 African Footballer of the Year – had joined on “a long-term contract”. Dortmund agreed to the sale after striking a deal to sign Chelsea forward Michy Batshuayi on loan.

Aubameyang said: “I’m really happy to be here in this great team. “The club has such a big history and great players like Thierry Henry. He’s an example for us strikers. I’m a fast player and I score goals too, like Henry a little bit. I think I have to work a lot to be like him, but I will do. “I hope that we will come back to the top as soon as possible. I will do my best to join in.” Aubameyang scored 141 goals in 213 games for Dortmund, including 21 in 24 matches this season. But he was suspended by the German club for their match against Wolfsburg on 14 January for missing a team meeting.

The forward was also left out of the squad for their next game game at Hertha Berlin because club officials felt he was not focused enough, but he played 90 minutes in Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Freiburg. After his move to Arsenal was confirmed, Aubameyang called himself “a crazy kid” in a message to Dortmund fans posted on Instagram, also apologising for the manner of his departure. “First of all, sorry for everything that has happened in the last month, but I already wanted a transfer last summer, it did not work out, but now it had to be,” he said. “Maybe it was not the best way for me to choose, but everyone knows that Auba is crazy – and yes, I am a crazy kid. “I’ve made mistakes, but never with malice.”

Aubameyang – who will wear the number 14 shirt at Arsenal – joined Dortmund from French club Saint-Etienne in 2013. The only major trophy he won at Dortmund was the German Cup in 2017. He was named Bundesliga player of the year in 2016, and last season was the German top flight’s most prolific scorer with 31 goals. He has played 56 times for Gabon, scoring 23 goals. He averaged 116 minutes per goal in his time in the Bundesliga, a rate only Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski bettered in the same period (107 minutes per goal). He contributed to 172 goals in 213 matches in all competitions for Dortmund, averaging a goal or assist every 96 minutes. He scored 66 goals more than any other Dortmund player since his debut in July 2013.

Swansea 3 Arsenal 1

Swansea City moved out of the Premier League relegation zone for the first time since November following a shock victory over Arsenal. A horrendous error from goalkeeper Petr Cech allowed Jordan Ayew to score a tap-in which put the hosts ahead just after the hour mark, before Sam Clucas’ second goal made the result safe. Mesut Ozil’s sensational pass had allowed Nacho Monreal to open the scoring for the Gunners, but Clucas levelled for Swansea within a minute at the Liberty Stadium. Swansea earned back-to-back wins for the first time this season, while Arsene Wenger’s side have won only three of 13 Premier League away games this term.

Under new boss Carlos Carvalhal, Swansea have now lost only once in eight games and victory over Arsenal was their second successive win against a team in the top six. Free-scoring Liverpool were blunted in the Swans’ previous outing at the Liberty Stadium and the hosts carried on that form as they dominated their visitors in the early part of the match. Only a brilliant Aaron Ramsey tackle denied Alfie Mawson a tap-in from close range in the first half and an effort from Ayew looped over the bar off Mustafi with Cech wrong-footed and unable to act. Mawson also shot just wide as Arsenal failed to clear a corner, before the England Under-21 defender provided the defence-splitting pass that allowed Clucas to score his first goal since he found the net at the Emirates in the reverse fixture on 28 October.

While that strike was worthy of praise, Swansea’s second goal was entirely down to deficiencies in the Arsenal defence. Mustafi’s backpass proved awkward for Cech who sliced a clearance straight to Ayew and the Ghanaian slotted home from close range. Clucas wrapped things up on 86 minutes, firing home after another lung-busting run from the impressive Ayew. For the Gunners, chasing a fourth successive win at the Liberty Stadium, there was a keen sense of intrigue regarding Arsene Wenger’s team selection, with the imminent closing of the January transfer window. Arsenal hope to conclude the signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang before Wednesday evening, but that deal is thought to hinge on two others, including French striker Olivier Giroud switching from the Emirates to Stamford Bridge.

Giroud was included in Arsenal’s squad despite rumours to the contrary, but had to be content with a place on the bench alongside new arrival Henrikh Mkhitaryan. And it was clear from the start that Arsenal fans have, at the very least, mixed feelings on the potential departure of Giroud. His name was sung by the travelling fans throughout the match and if he is to depart, some Gunners fans will clearly miss him.

Arsenal 2 Chelsea 1

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said his side were playing with “more clarity” following the transfer of Alexis Sanchez as the Gunners came from behind to beat Chelsea and set up a Carabao Cup final with Manchester City. After a goalless first leg, Eden Hazard put Chelsea ahead before an own goal from Antonio Rudiger levelled it, and Granit Xhaka’s winner took Arsenal to Wembley. It came only two days after Sanchez’s drawn-out transfer to Manchester United was completed, with the Gunners getting Henrikh Mkhitaryan in return. A miserable couple of months for Arsenal has seen them drop to sixth in the Premier League, 23 points behind leaders Manchester City, and lose to Championship Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup.

But now this vital victory keeps them on course to win their fourth trophy in five years – and with it claim the only domestic competition that Arsene Wenger has not won in his 21 years at the club. “I felt that in January we paid a heavy price for uncertainty in our dressing-room,” said the 68-year-old. “Now we are back with more clarity. We know what we have to do. We can focus on our game. “We lost a great player in Alexis Sanchez but when a team doesn’t know what’s going on in the dressing room there is less clarity and focus on performances. We know we have to deal with it now.” The Gunners, bidding to win this competition for the first time since 1993, meet Manchester City in the final at Wembley on 25 February after Pep Guardiola’s side saw off Bristol City in the other semi-final.

Arsenal will play in their eighth League Cup final. Only Liverpool (12) and Manchester United (nine) have appeared in more (Aston Villa and Spurs also on eight). Chelsea have now lost just twice in their last eight away games versus Arsenal in all competitions (won three, drew four, lost two). Eden Hazard has netted three goals in his last two Chelsea games in all competitions, as many as in his previous 14. Ross Barkley made his first competitive club appearance in 248 days, since playing against Arsenal at the Emirates with Everton on 21 May, 2017. This was Chelsea’s first loss in 13 matches, since a 1-0 defeat by West Ham on 9 December in the Premier League.

Goodbye Alexis, Hello Henrikh

So it finally happened – Alexis Sanchez has been traded to Manchester United and in exchange Arsenal sign Henrikh Mkhitarayn. With Sánchez out of contract in the summer, Arsenal eventually agreed his departure as part of a swap deal for Mkhitaryan, who was allowed to leave United after less than two seasons at the club. The former Borussia Dortmund playmaker was also of interest to Arsène Wenger when he joined United in 2016 but was adamant that his long-term ambition had been Arsenal. “I’ve always dreamed of playing for Arsenal,” said Mkhitaryan.

“I always loved the way that Arsenal played and the way that Arsène Wenger has managed the team.” His arrival does partially soften the Sánchez blow, even if the Chile striker took aim at former Arsenal players for questioning his commitment and claimed that the club’s record goalscorer Thierry Henry had left for the same reasons as him.

Mkhitaryan has signed a contract until 2021 and Arsenal are also now close to agreement with Jack Wilshere to extend his deal that expires in June. Wilshere has been offered a reduced basic salary but a more performance-structured deal that could potentially be worth more than his current £120,000-a-week wage. Negotiations are also ongoing with Mesut Özil but, having been unable to reach any agreement for the past 18 months, the expectation is that he will now wait until his contract expires this summer before assessing all the options.

Arsenal’s new recruitment chief Sven Mislintat was the man behind Mkhitaryan’s transfer from Shakhtar Donetsk to Dortmund in 2013 and is understood to have pushed for his new employers to sign him this month. Mkhitaryan could be set to link up with former Borussia Dortmund teammate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with talks between the Bundesliga side and Arsenal said to be ongoing with a view to completing a £60m+ deal before the end of the transfer window. Mkhitaryan is Armenia’s all-time top goalscorer, scoring 25 goals in 70 international matches since his debut in January 2007, including their first hat-trick.

Is Mkhitaryan Signing For Arsenal In A Swap Deal For Alexis?

Henrikh Mkhitaryan will sign a three-and-a-half year contract that makes him the highest paid player at Arsenal, according to reports. The Armenian is in London with his agent, Mino Raiola, to complete a medical with the Gunners ahead of an imminent straight swap deal that will see Alexis Sanchez join Manchester United. It had been claimed that Mkhitaryan would ask for the same massive salary Arsenal had offered to Sanchez to try to keep him to stay, which would have been around £300,000-a-week.

But according to The Mirror, Mkhitaryan has settled on a £200,000-a-week deal – which still represents a massive pay hike compared to what he was earning at United. It also means Mkhitaryan is now the biggest earner at Arsenal, though the Gunners have tabled a contract offer to Mesut Ozil – whose current deal expires in the summer – that would eclipse that offer. As well as earning a bumper deal at Arsenal, Raiola also secured a hefty pay-off on the last two-and-a-half years of Mkhitaryan’s United contract, even threatening to scupper the Sanchez deal if they did not pay up. The 28-year-old’s contract works out at around £10.4m a year before tax, which is significantly less than the deal Sanchez has received at Old Trafford.

The Chilean will take home £14m a year after tax, making him the highest paid player in the Premier League by some margin, though it could cause a few problems at United. Raiola also represents Paul Pogba, and it has been claimed that the notorious agent will demand United give the Frenchman – their club-record signing – wage parity with Sanchez.

Arsenal 4 Crystal Palace 1

Arsenal ended a run of three Premier League games without a win as a four-goal burst in the first half helped to see off Crystal Palace. Nacho Monreal opened the scoring with a header and then assisted both of the next two goals for Alex Iwobi and Laurent Koscielny inside 13 minutes. Alexandre Lacazette then rounded off a brilliant move to make it 4-0 after 22 minutes. Luka Milivojevic scored late on, but Palace slipped to 13th in the table. Arsenal remain sixth, two points behind Tottenham.

Monreal’s part in Arsenal’s victory lasted just 34 minutes, with the Spanish defender being substituted due to an injury. His inclusion in the starting line-up was one of four changes to the side that had lost 2-1 at Bournemouth last week, with Mesut Ozil, also recalled after injury, outstanding in partnership with Jack Wilshere. Palace were much improved in the second half, but ultimately paid the price for their poor defending in the early part of the match to end a run of five games unbeaten away from Selhurst Park. Yohan Cabaye was carried off on a stretcher just before full time, and may add to a lengthy Palace injury list that includes Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Andros Townsend, Mamadou Sakho and Scott Dann.

Possible moves for Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and United’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan had also dominated the Arsenal news agenda of late, but this was a performance that was perfectly timed for manager Arsene Wenger. His side had won only twice in their last nine league outings, but having Ozil, Monreal, Koscielny and Mohamed Elneny back gave Arsenal a much steelier look and feel compared to the one that seen a lead overturned at Bournemouth last time out. Ozil touched the ball six times in the wonderful move that ended with Lacazette’s goal, the German international providing the assist with a deft touch into the striker’s path. Arsenal may not come up against a defence as leaky as Palace’s in the remainder of the season, but if they are to make a couple of attacking additions then this display bodes well for the post-Sanchez era.