Premier League: Hector Bellerin’s injury-time strike ends London Derby in thrilling 2-2 draw

In one of the most thrilling encounters of the Premier League this season, Arsenal and Chelsea had to settle for a point apiece in the London Derby at the Emirates Stadium as the match ended in a 2-2 draw.

 The Londoners shared an incredible 33 shots on target in the game, but the heroics of Petr Cech and Thibaut Courtois on either side of the goalposts meant that only 4 goals were scored between the two.

The game started off brilliantly with both teams dominating equally. The first real chance came when Morata was clear on goal after a defensive lapse from Arsenal, but the Spaniard curled wide on a rather sitting one-on-one opportunity with the keeper. Arsenal came close to opening the score just two minutes later as Alexis Sanchez’s shot hit both the posts before Courtois could grab it.

Following a goal-less first half, it was Jack Wilshire who scored his first goal of the season to give Arsenal the lead after a superb team game. But Chelsea hit back within minutes as Eden Hazard converted a controversial spot-kick to level the game. A brilliant piece of skill on the wing by Davide Zappacosta teed up Marcos Alonso for a tap-in that gave Chelsea a 2-1 lead just seven minutes from time.

However, Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin had some other ideas as his injury-time strike leveled the scores at 2-2 and gave Arsenal a thoroughly deserved point at home. A later drama was shunned as Davide Zappacosta hit the crossbar deep in injury time to maintain the scoreline.

Arsenal stands sixth on the table with 49 points while Chelsea is 3rd at 46 points. The two teams face each other next Wednesday in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg before meeting once more in the second leg next week.

Source – Daily Mail, Firstpost

Arsenal open Europe League with a 3-1 win against FC Koln

Arsenal’s first game in the Europa League started with a bang, having defeated FC Koln 3-1 in a night to remember.

Fans in North London, and across the world, were treated to not only three goals, but witnessed live how the power of football brings fans together. 20,000 FC Koln fans stormed into the stadium, singing age-old chants, most without tickets, creating an electric, yet tensed atmosphere, trying to fit into a space for 2,900.
Amidst a sea of confusion, chaos and a one-hour delay due to the intense congestion at the Emirates Stadium, the Gunners made the best out of a bitter-sweet Europa League situation.
Ahead of the highly-anticipated Premier League clash against Chelsea on Sunday, manager Arsene Wenger rested most of his tier 1 players, like Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette and Petr Cech, starting instead with Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott.
The hosts’ chances looked bleak with a dry first half. FC Koln’s Jhon Cordoba’ seized the opportunity to play a Columbian vs. Columbian one-on-one, by playing the ball past David Ospina’s hands, costing Arsenal a clean sheet, and adding to the euphoria of the Germans. This additionally created an atmosphere of unease, between the two fan sides and the teams.
The second half started with FC Koln’s supreme attacking front, with Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny and Alex Iwobi struggling to maintain the regular pace of the experienced likes of Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey. It is however noteworthy that Jack Wilshere made his come back after more than a year for Arsenal and instantly made his presence felt on the pitch.
Wenger then introduced one of Arsenal’s summer buys and current star, Sead Kolasinac, who immediately brought in a ferocious change of pace, definitely one to watch out for. The Bosnian charged across the pitch where instinct, not opportunity took him to produce Arsenal’s first goal, just five minutes into the second half.
 Alexis Sanchez, who Arsenal almost lost in the transfer window, scored their second goal, striking past Timo Horn, while the third was scored by the reliable Hector Bellerin.
Now that Arsenal are here for a season of the Europa League, it is best left that they make the most of it with their current talent.

Arsene Wenger signs Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon

Arsenal have signed Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette in a five-year contract for an undisclosed fee.

Last season, the Ligue 1 star scored 28 goals in 30 games for his former club. Arsenal’s manager, Arsene Wenger, is said to have taken the 26-year old for dinner in mid-June, to sell the benefits of moving to North London. Lacazette, who was being sought after by giants like Manchester United, Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund, was however, convinced by the Frenchman.

The centre-forward played for his home club, Lyon, since 2003 and is also part of the French national team. From 2009, he has successfully scored 100 goals in 203 appearances, making him ideal for a club like Arsenal who are strong in the mid-field but lack a rigorous forward approach.

Lacazette, initially, was contemplating staying on at Lyon till January and seeking a transfer to Atletico Madrid once their transfer ban was complete. Despite the Gunners playing the Europa League this season, Wenger’s persuasion tactics needn’t be underestimated, as Lacazette has accepted the offer. Known for his pace, dribbling style, tackles and goal-scoring ability, the new Arsenal star seems like the perfect package.

The rumour around the transfer mill claims that Lacazette has agreed to a contract of £46 million, making him the most expensive buy after Mesut Ozil at £42.5 million.

Sources: ESPN, Mirror

Five-star Bayern trounce the Gunners

Bayern Munich scored four second-half goals at the Allianz Arena to sink a hapless Arsenal side in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 encounter. The game was truly a tale of two halves, as Arsenal valiantly battled to keep the score level at 1-1 till the end of the first half, but were undone by three goals that came in a span of 10 second-half minutes.

Arsenal conceded the first goal on the 11-minute mark, when the Dutchman waltzed past Arsenal players to bury a left footed strike into the top corner. Arsenal were awarded a penalty in the 30th minute after Robert Lewandowski’s mistimed clearance struck Laurent Koscielny in the aftermath of an Arsenal free-kick. Alexis Sanchez’s penalty was saved by Neuer, but Sanchez deftly guided the rebound into the back of the net for a vital away goal.

Bayern began the second half brightly, and pressed their opponents with vigor. Their efforts were rewarded in the 52nd minute when Lewandowski headed in Philip Lahm’s cross to restore Bayern’s lead. Lewandowski was soon involved in Bayern’s third, and a deft lay-off from the Polish international set up a wonderful opportunity which Thiago Alcantara emphatically fired in. Thiago scored his seconds just minutes later, when his shot was deflected in off an Arsenal player. Bayern wrapped up the game with a late Thomas Muller goal. The victory puts Bayern in a favourable position for the second leg on the 7th of March, with their advancement to the quarter-finals close to guaranteed.

Sources- ESPN, Hindustan Times

Premier League Round-up: Week 21

It was an exciting Premier League Weekend, with a flourish of goals and scintillating display of performances.

Whether it was Tottenham star Harry Kane’s hattrick against West Bromwich Albion, or Manchester City’s humiliating defeat at the hands of Everton, the weekend was full of action.

The main surprise of Week 21 was Pep Guardiola’s team struggling against a formidable Everton, with City losing 4-0 against The Toffees. Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirrallas’ goals have effectively ended the title hope of the inconsistent, City.

Pochettino’s Spurs eased past West Brom’s poor performance with three goals by the unstoppable Harry Kane and a rookie own goal by the latter’s Gareth McAuley. This game takes the Spurs to 2nd position at the table, seven points behind Chelsea.

After being pushed to 5th position, Arsenal came back with an indomitable spirit and crushed Swansea 4-0. Well-timed goals by Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez, along with two own goals by The Swans’ Jack Cork and Kyle Naughton have sent the Gunners back into the top four. With a poor defense and at 20th position on the table, Paul Clement’s men face relegation.

The much-awaited match between Manchester United and Liverpool demonstrated that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a force to be reckoned with. Mourinho’s men put up an average performance against the fast-paced team led by Jordan Henderson, when James Milner’s 27th minute penalty was equalized by the United forward, just 6 minutes before full-time.

Chelsea and West Ham United comfortable beat Leicester City and Crystal Palace respectively, with a clean 3-0 win, each. Even without the threatening foot of Diego Costa, Chelsea have proved that talent like Marcos Alonso and Eden Hazard can secure them a win. After two consecutive losses against Leicester and Manchester United, The Hammers put up a brilliant performance, with hidden star Andy Carrol’s over-head goal being a match highlight.

Burnley beat Southampton 1-0, solidifying the impact on The Saint’s losing Charlie Austin to injury woes. Sunderland’s relegation chances have increased after suffering a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the powerful Stoke City, with goals by the Peter Crouch and the dependable Marko Arnautovic. Both Watford and Middlesbrough have been unable to secure a win after three consecutive weekends, and were unable to break the deadlock this week as well, ending the game at 0-0. Defeating Bournemouth 3-1, Hull City secured a win for the first time since November 6. They yet still need to perform better to move out of the relegation zone.

The weekend ended with Chelsea sitting comfortably seven points clear of Tottenham, who are followed by Liverpool and Arsenal in 4th position.

 

REFERENCE LINKS: BBC, The Guardian

IMAGE SOURCE: Premier League website

Arsenal Fight Back in Thrilling Performance against Bournemouth

In a match that had left the Gunners disappointed well into the second half, Arsenal demonstrated a stunning three goals in twenty minutes to come back and draw 3-3 to Bournemouth.

Bournemouth took a lead early into the match with defender Charlie Daniels’ goal and Callum Wilson’s penalty within the first twenty minutes of the match. The Cherries raised their tally up to three, with Ryan Fraser’s neat shot through Arsenal goalkeeper, Petr Cech’s, legs.

Arsenal showed a weak 70 minutes as compared to Bournemouth’s pace and energy, when Alexis Sánchez, assisted by Olivier Giroud, flicked a well-aimed header into the net. The match dynamics catapulted against Bournemouth when Wenger’s new find, Lucas Pérez sent in a beautiful volley into the left side of the net, changing the score to 3-2.

The hosts gathered pace with just eight minutes left into the game, when Simon Francis directly challenged Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey, to earn him a straight red card. With just a few minutes left for full time, Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka passed a quick cross to Giroud, who delivered a smooth finish past goalkeeper Artur Boruc

.

The hosts were visibly upset after the final whistle. Bournemouth now stand ninth on the Premier League table, while Arsenal, at fourth place, move just two points above Tottenham and Manchester United. Arsene Wenger’s side stands nine points clear of Chelsea, who now visibly compete with Liverpool in the title race.

Sources: BBC, The Guardian, Goal

Etihad came unglued, City rejoiced a 2-1 victory against Arsenal  

Manchester City rejoiced their third consecutive Premier League win after defeating Arsenal at Etihad Stadium on Sunday. Raheem Sterling played a pivotal role in the second half as he smashed his way through the Gunners, giving City a 2-1 lead.

The first half saw an early goal from Theo Walcott (5’), giving Arsenal an early lead. The home defense was carved apart as Hector Bellerin played a ball through to Alexis Sanchez on the edge of the area and Arsenal’s man in the form found Theo Walcott, who held off a defender and shot low beyond Claudio Bravo from inside the area. City kept the maximum position, however, dominant shots from both Ozil and Sanchez gave keeper Claudio Bravo a grave task from conceding another goal from the away side.

The beginning of second half gave manager Pep Guardiola a sigh of relief as Leroy Sané (47′) opened the goal for City and equalizing the score. The game reached its 71-minute, the home team keeping a possession saw a brilliant cross-field pass from Kevin De Bruyne to release Sterling who made his way through the defenders, giving City a 2-1 lead. Manager Arsene Wenger brought Giroud for Coquelin who has scored in four successive appearances against Manchester City in all competitions, but even the French striker couldn’t do the inevitable.

The contest certainly was a game of two halves as Arsenal capitulated in the second period after playing so well in the first. Manchester City was rampant after the break and kept maximum possession (60.6%) and a total of 14 shots (with five on target). City climbed up the table to reach the second place, as Chelsea leads another match-week with 43 points.

 

 Sources: One FootballMirror UK

Photo Caption and Source: Daily.co