Arsenal’s bid to a Champions League spot suffered a huge blow after the Gunners were at the receiving end of a derby defeat against West Ham.
The hosts edged Unai Emery’s men 1-0 and the result did reflect the performances of both the teams involved.
Declan Rice scored for the Hammers in the second half after Arsenal failed to deal with Felipe Anderson’s shabby cross.
Aaron Ramsey came on and tried forcing a rescue act but the hosts held on to the lead and ensured that they went home with the bragging rights.
Much like Isco at Real Madrid and Philippe Coutinho at Barcelona, Mesut Ozil has seemingly fallen out of his manager’s favour. The German last featured for the Gunners in their 1-1 draw at Brighton on December 26.
To look at the number 10’s last goal or assist. One has to go all the way back to October when he provided and scored against Leicester City.
That said, form is not the main concern for the German international. It appears that Ozil – who signed a contract extension until 2021 last year – is not a player Emery would want on the pitch, given how he was left out of the squad altogether against West Ham.
This could probably be the end of the road for the 20-year-old at the London-based club.
IS THERE A CLEAR PLAN IN PLACE, MR EMERY?
The former Sevilla manager got off to a great start with Arsenal and even oversaw a 14-game unbeaten run after opening defeats to Chelsea and Manchester City.
A loss to Southampton gave birth to a new test for the Spanish manager. The tinkering with formation post the defeat has been indecisive, wavering and volatile.
The Gunners are accustomed to a 4-2-3-1 formation under Emery. But lately, a 3-4-3 or a 3-4-2-1 has been a common sight in their fixtures.
A three-man defence has been Emery’s cautious response to the defeats against Southampton and Liverpool and in both the games which followed, the 47-year-old has changed it to a four-man backline through substitutions after the defence showed vulnerabilities.
While both formations have their pros and cons, Emery must be clear about how he’s approaching the game. If a four-man defence is the fall-back option when the three-man defence fails, why keep the three-man defence as the first option?
The former Paris Saint-Germain boss has a lot to think about, especially about matters concerning the back-line.
Arsenal have now lost three of their last six games in the league and won just two. Ozil is touted to leave the club and Aaron Ramsey – who is still performing at a high level – already has one leg out of the door.
Amid all this, if you are to dig for something positive, one must go no further than Matteo Guendouzi, Ainsley Maitland-Niles – and to an extent – Alex Iwobi.
All these players – who are at most 22 years old – have been the best in their departments. The game against West Ham was no different as these players emerged as the best.
Iwobi completed five dribbled throughout the game and created chances. The Nigerian got dispossessed just once and ensured a pass success percentage of 79 percent. This is not bad given he majorly functioned in the final third.
Guendouzi showed good press resistance and distributed the ball well against the Hammers. He even had to cover up for Granit Xhaka’s horror show and restricted the damage to a minimum.
Dangerous in attack while playing as a wing-back in a 3-4-3 and solid in defence while playing as a full-back in a 4-2-3-1, Maitland-Niles showed that he is one of the best players in the backline. He was not exceptional in Arsenal’s defence, but showed signs of a good future if molded well.
Liverpool will take advantage of a gap in their fixture list to complete a training break in Dubai later this month.
The Liverpool Echo reports that Jurgen Klopp is planning to bring his squad away to the UAE following next Saturday’s home game against Crystal Palace.
The Reds exit from the FA Cup means they have an 11-day break after the Palace game on January 19, before they entertain Leicester on January 30.
Klopp’s side spent four days in Dubai last January when players and staff travelled to the Emirates for a relaxing break after the club’s FA Cup win over Everton.
Here, we detail more information about the trip.
WHERE ARE THE REDS STAYING?
Situated next to Dubai Marina, the Westin will likely be the spot where Liverpool stay, given Klopp had his side based there in 2018.
WHERE ARE THE REDS TRAINING?
Though it is not confirmed, it is likely Liverpool will train at the hotel, with its large gym, short running track, astro turf football pitch and beach facilities.
WILL THE ENTIRE SQUAD TRAVEL?
As it stands, yes. It will also be Mohamed Salah’s second visit to the Emirates in three weeks following his short trip to collect the Outstanding Arab Athlete award at the annual Mohammed Bin Rashid Creative Sports Award in Dubai during the week.
Jesse Lingard wants to put on a show at Tottenham as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United look to continue their excellent recent form.
Last month’s decision to sack Jose Mourinho has brought an immediate turnaround in fortunes, style and backroom contentment.
Caretaker manager Solskjaer has emulated Sir Matt Busby’s five-match winning start to life at the helm in all competitions, although the level of opponent has yet to provide the 1999 treble hero with a genuine test.
Sunday’s Wembley clash with Tottenham is sure to be their toughest match to date, but Lingard expressed the confidence around the United squad after bonding further on a warm-weather training camp in Dubai.
“It’s going to be tough but, with the run we’ve been on at the moment and the form we’ve had, we back ourselves 100 per cent,” Lingard said.
“So, we go there with the full intention of winning and getting the three points. We’re on a great run at the moment, so to carry it on against Tottenham and to get the win would be perfect.”
It is also a chance for United to exact revenge after Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino – the favourite to takeover at Old Trafford next summer – oversaw an eye-catching 3-0 win at Old Trafford in August.
While it was Mourinho’s biggest ever home defeat as a manager, there appears to have been little lasting negative impact on those that played.
Lingard started that loss but the renewed positive emphasis under Solskjaer means entertainment is his main focus.
He told MUTV: “It’ll be exciting. Obviously, as a Man United team, we’re there to entertain and get people off their seats, so that’s what we’ll be looking to do.
“They are always exciting games (against Tottenham). They have always been entertaining so hopefully we can put on a show and put on a performance.”
Lingard will be hoping to continue his own fine form after a stop-start opening few months.
The England attacking midfielder netted four times over the last five weeks and has fond memories of Wembley, where he has scored in the FA Cup, EFL Cup and Community Shield showpieces as well as shone for his country.
“I think it’s very important,” Lingard said of his goal return.
“Obviously as an attacking player, goals, assists and winning matches are the most important things and us as forwards have been doing well at the moment.
Hopefully we can carry it on for the rest of the season.”
Paul Pogba is available for the clash against Spurs, having recovered from the leg issue that kept him out of last weekend’s FA Cup clash with Reading and missed the start of the trip to Dubai.
Marcos Rojo has returned to his native Argentina as his injury is taking longer to heal than anticipated, while Chris Smalling is a doubt and Eric Bailly completes a three-match suspension.
Provided by Press Association Sport