Mikel Arteta ‘Desperate’ for Arsenal Head Coach Role But Seeks Assurances Over Long-Term Project

​Mikel Arteta is keen to tie down the Arsenal head coach role, but wants guarantees from the board about their long-term project and his role in it.

Freddie Ljungberg has taken temporary charge of the Gunners following the sacking of Unai Emery, guiding his side to four points from his first three matches at the helm in a mixed start for the former ‘Invincible’.

Meanwhile, the Spaniard is a former captain of the club and won two FA Cup trophies during his near 150-game spell in north London, having moved from Everton in 2011. Arteta has since been working under Pep Guardiola at ​Manchester City as his fellow countryman’s number two after calling an end to his playing career at the completion of the 2015/16 season. 

Upon Arsene Wenger’s departure from ​Arsenal in the summer of 2018, Arteta was among the leading candidates to succeed the Frenchman, but ultimately lost out on the position to Emery and remained Guardiola’s right-hand man.

One again the 37-year-old has been linked with taking the reins at the Emirates Stadium, however, while ​90min understands that he sits alongside Patrick Vieira as the club’s primary candidates for the role. Furthermore, unrest in the City camp following a string of poor results has prompted the former midfielder to seek a change of role.

Adding to that, ​The Sun are claiming at Arteta is ‘desperate’ not to miss out on the opportunity, but will seek certain assurances over the position before committing to the Gunners. 

Mikel Arteta

The report quotes a ‘source’ at City, who said: “Mikel wants the job but wants to know what is on offer and guarantees from them. He will then speak to the club. Nothing is going to happen before the end of this week from what we can tell.

“Mikel is conflicted because of his relationship with Pep and feeling for City after the years there. He has been excellent since he got here and there is a feeling he is going to be a top manager one day.”

Arsenal face City in the ​​Premier League on Sunday, with the reigning champions unwilling to allow Arteta to leave before that fixture. In fact, they would prefer a move at the end of the season, and are even considering Arteta taking over Guardiola’s position if and when he leaves the club.

What the aforementioned assurances are have not been fully divulged, but one can expect they will resolve around the long-term plan of the club, as well as whether or not Arteta will be granted funding to invest in the squad over the coming windows. 

Equally, the futures of key stars Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette are yet to be finalised, with it likely the Spaniard would be keen to tie the strike duo down to longer contracts.

While Vieira and Arteta are among those in consideration, they are not the only ones in the frame. Indeed, a four-man panel of Raul Sanllehi, Edu, Vinai Venkatesham and Huss Fahmy are mulling over a shortlist that includes the likes of Belgium coach Roberto Martinez, Mauricio Pochettino and Carlo Ancelotti, the latter of whom was recently sacked in charge of SSC Napoli.

The Athletic’s ​David Ornstein has added that if Arsenal are unable to secure their number one target until the summer, then Ljungberg will remain in the hotseat.

For more from Ross Kennerley, follow him on Twitter!


The Arsenal XI That Should Start Against Standard Liege in the Europa League

Arsenal will look to build on Monday’s win over West Ham as they travel to take on Standard Liege in the Europa League on Thursday. 

The win over the Hammers brought to an end their woeful run of nine matches without a win. They will now be hoping to kick on and pick up another three points, this time in the Europa League as they aim to book their place in the last 16 of the competition. 

While the Gunners only need to avoid defeat in order to qualify, interim coach Freddie Ljungberg will be keen to see his side build on their second half display in east London. However, we can expect a few changes, with players set to be rested ahead of Sunday’s tussle with Manchester City. 

Here, 90min takes you through the starting XI that Ljungberg should pick for their final group game in the competition… 

Goalkeeper & Defenders

David Luiz

Emiliano Martinez (GK) – Martinez is expected to keep his place in the side, having featured in all five of the Gunners’ Europa League group stage games this season. The shot-stopper has conceded five goals in his last three games in the competition and will be keen to pick up a clean sheet on Thursday. 

Calum Chambers (RB) – ​Chambers played at centre-back for the win over West Ham on Monday and while he put in an assured display, he is expected to shift out to the right side of defence for the upcoming game with Hector Bellerin ruled out. 

Sokratis (CB) – With Shkodran Mustafi suspended for the upcoming clash and Rob Holding ruled out through injury, Sokratis is expected to retain his place in the side, despite playing the full 90 minutes against the Hammers. 

David Luiz (CB) – ​Luiz sat and watched on from the bench for the team’s last game, but will return to partner Sokratis in the heart of the defence on Thursday. Ljungberg will be hoping the centre-back can dictate the game with his range of passing and ability to step up with the ball, while he will also be keen to see an error-free performances. Over to you, David…

Sead Kolasinac (LB) – More injury problems. Kieran Tierney has been ruled out for the tussle with Standard after ​he dislocated his right shoulder during the last match. As a result, Kolasinac will come into the side. With Tierney set for another spell on the sidelines, this is an opportunity to impress and reclaim the starting berth.


Joe Willock

Matteo Guendouzi (CM) – The youngster has a tremendous amount of potential, but he still has a lot of learning to do. The Frenchman works tirelessly for the team and despite ​Arsenal’s obvious struggles this season, Guendouzi has continued to shine with his tenacity and desire.  

Lucas Torreira (CM) – Granit Xhaka is out of the upcoming match with concussion, while the game may come too soon for Dani Ceballos, as well. As a result, Torreira will keep his place in the team and following an impressive showing against West Ham, he will be hoping to back this up with another as he looks to cement his place in the side. He has an excellent awareness of the game and he has the ability to offer a considerable amount both defensively and offensively. 

Joe Willock (CAM) – A very highly regarded youngster at the club. Willock has featured in all five of the north London side’s European games this season and has found the back of the net twice. He is constantly looking to make things happen and plays with a maturity well beyond his years.


Alexandre Lacazette

Reiss Nelson (RW) – ​Reiss Nelson has only featured seven times in all competitions so far this season, but Ljungberg will be looking to rotate and give minutes to players such as Nelson. The winger needs to take his opportunity on Thursday and prove his worth once again. 

Bukayo Saka (LW) – Another prospect that has taken his opportunities is Saka. His agility and speed make him a nightmare to defend against and yet, he still has plenty of room for improvement. A bright future. 

Alexandre Lacazette (ST) – The Frenchman was rested for the win over West Ham and, as a result, he will come in to lead the line ahead of captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. An exceptional striker on his day and he will be keen to add to his tally for the season against Standard. 


Standard Liege vs Arsenal: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

​Arsenal will look to secure top spot in Group F in the Europa League when they face Standard Liege at Stade Maurice Dufrasne on Thursday evening.

Freddie Ljungberg enjoyed his first victory as interim manager of the Gunners as they beat ​West Ham United 3-1 at the London Stadium on Monday night.

Confidence – something of huge importance to the north London side – was restored in the second half of that fixture as an abundance of flair and immaculate finishing from Ljungberg’s attacking options provided three goals in quick succession, completing an impressive comeback.

They will look to carry this belief with them as they head to Belgium on Thursday, however they won’t face an easy task as opponents Standard Liege know they must win in order to stay in the competition.

If Eintracht Frankfurt lose against Vitoria in Group F’s other fixture and Standard win, they will go through to the knockout stages. If Frankfurt are victorious though, the Belgian side will have to beat Arsenal by five goals in order to progress. That’s quite the task.

Without further ado, here’s 90min‘s preview of the game.

Where to Watch

When Is Kick Off? ​Thursday 12 December
What Time Is Kick Off? ​17:55 (BST)
Where Is It Played? ​Stade Maurice Dufrasne      
TV Channel/Live Stream?​            ​BT Sport 2
Referee? ​Andreas Ekberg

Team News

Standard will have to make do without winger Anthony Limbombe​ who remains sidelined with a knee injury, meanwhile a late decision will be made over striker Orlando Sa in regards to fitness.

Meanwhile, Freddie Ljungberg faces a selection headache as a number of his star players are unavailable. 

Kieran Tierney,Mike Dean

Full-back Kieran Tierney dislocated his shoulder against West Ham and is expected to be out for a number of weeks if not months, while Hector Bellerin suffered a hamstring strain before kick-off on Monday night and is set to miss out.

Nicolas Pepe is expected to be rested for this Europa League contest while Rob Holding and Dani Ceballos remain doubts.

Predicted Lineups

Standard Liege  ​Bodart; Vanheusden, Vojvoda, Bastien, Laifis; Gavory, M’Poku, Ammalah; Emond, Boljevic, Carcela-Gonzalez
Arsenal ​Martinez; Chambers, Sokratis, Mustafi, Kolasinac; Guendouzi, Torreira; Saka, Willock, Nelson; Aubameyang

Head to Head Record

Arsenal have never failed to beat Standard Liege in their five meetings in the last 26 years.

The two sides met one and other for the first time in a decade earlier this season, with the Gunners coming out 4-0 victors at the Emirates in October.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles,Maxime Lestienne

The closest Standard have come to beating Arsenal was in September 2009 when they lost 3-2 in Belgium. This was the only time in which they had scored a goal against the Gunners.

They will need to overcome their past failures on Thursday if they want to keep their Europa League hopes alive, and what better time to do so than when Arsenal are this woeful?

Recent Form

The hosts are currently third in the Belgian Pro League​, eight points behind leaders Club Brugge. Fans have become frustrated by their failed efforts to reduce the deficit at the top over recent weeks having lost two league fixtures in quick succession against Gent and Mechelen.

Scoring goals has not been the issue, rather conceding them, as they have netted in every game they’ve played in all competitions since their 4-0 defeat to Thursday’s opponents Arsenal.

The Gunners had been without a win for nine games prior to their success at West Ham on Monday, causing quite the stir amongst fans. During this time, Unai Emery was sacked and Ljungberg was appointed as their interim manager.

Héctor Bellerín

Their 2-1 Premier League defeat to Graham Potter’s ​Brighton highlighted their weaknesses as they lacked leadership and drive, making it easy pickings for an impressive Seagulls side.

Arsenal fans will hope that their seemingly revolutionary second half performance against West Ham will be enough to give the players the determination to play with pride once more.

Here is how both teams have fared in their last five fixtures:

Standard Liege Arsenal
​R. Excel Mouscron 2-2 Standard (08/12)  West Ham 1-3 Arsenal (09/12)   ​
Standard 3-0 Rebecq (04/12) Arsenal 1-2 Brighton (05/12)
Standard 2-1 Cercle Brugge (01/12) ​Norwich 2-2 Arsenal (01/12)
​Vitoria 1-1 Standard (28/11) Arsenal 1-2 Frankfurt (28/11)
​Eupen 1-2 Standard (23/11) Arsenal 2-2 Southampton (23/11)       


​With Standard desperate for victory, and Arsenal in a position of uncertainty regarding confidence, this could be quite a tight game.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

If you also consider the Gunners’ numerous injury problems and their poor away record, things may actually swing in favour of the hosts. 

With these factors in mind balanced against an overall contrast in quality, this has a draw written all over it. Sorry, Arsenal fans.

Prediction: Standard Liege 1-1 Arsenal


Napoli Sack Manager Carlo Ancelotti After Weeks of Behind-the-Scenes Unrest

​Napoli have sacked manager Carlo Ancelotti despite the club’s progression to the last 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday night. 

The Neapolitans beat Genk 4-0 at home to seal their progress through to the knockout rounds of Europe’s elite competition, but a poor run of recent form and shambolic ‘title challenge’ have seen Ancelotti relieved of his duties, with Gennaro Gattuso expected to replace him imminently. 

A club tweet on Tuesday night read: “​SSC Napoli has decided to revoke the role of technical manager of the first team from Mr. Carlo Ancelotti. The feelings of friendship, esteem and mutual respect between the club, its president Aurelio De Laurentiis and Carlo Ancelotti remain intact.”

Ancelotti had said just hours before the statement was released that he had a Wednesday meeting scheduled with the club’s board, telling journalists: “Will I be on the touchline on Saturday? I hope so but we’ll see with the board tomorrow.

“We will discuss the situation at the moment and make the right decision for Napoli. I have no decisions to make. The president will decide whether to move forward or not. I will never resign. I have never done it in my career and never will.”

Ancelotti has been linked with the vacant managerial posts at ​Arsenal and ​Everton in recent days, after Unai Emery and Marco Silva were relieved of their respective duties. 

I Partenopei occupy seventh position in the Serie A table, 17 points behind leaders Inter following a run of no wins in seven league matches.

In November, their sub-par displays saw president Aurelio de Laurentiis schedule extra training for the entire squad, only for Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon to stage a mutiny and convince their teammates to ignore the owner’s orders.

For more from ​Chris Deeley, follow him on Twitter at ​@ThatChris1209!


Unai Emery ‘Would Consider’ Becoming Next Everton Manager After Holding Talks

Former Arsenal boss Unai Emery is among the candidates Everton are considering to become their new manager following the recent sacking of Marco Silva, and has already held early talks with Toffees chiefs Farhad Moshiri and Bill Kenwright.

Emery lost his job with Arsenal following a dreadful run of form, amid concerns that missing out on Champions League qualification could cost the Gunners their best players – but the Spaniard remains a coach with an impressive back catalogue of success.

Unai Emery

According to The Athletic, Emery met with Moshiri and Kenwright in London last week to talk about the Goodison Park job. The report explains that Emery has not yet had any further contact from Everton and has been contemplating taking a break from football, but any ‘development of Everton’s interest’ could see him consider an offer from the Merseysiders.

Emery is also said to have first been ‘sounded out’ by Everton back in 2016 when Roberto Martinez was sacked. At that time, he had just won a third consecutive Europa League title with Sevilla, but ended up joining Paris Saint-Germain. Everton hired Ronald Koeman instead.

The Athletic notes that Vitor Pereira is another name on the Toffees’ shortlist. The 51-year-old Portuguese is currently in charge of Shanghai SIPG, winning the 2018 Chinese Super League. He has also won league titles with Porto and Olympiacos in Portugal and Greece respectively.

Vitor Manuel Pereira

It is not clear if Pereira has been formally approached, but Everton have interviewed him before. That was back in 2013 when the club were searching for a successor to Manchester United-bound David Moyes, eventually settling on the aforementioned Martinez.

Bookmakers actually consider Moyes odds-on favourite to return to Everton. SkyBet list the Scot at 8/11, with Pereira at 9/4 and caretaker Duncan Ferguson a 6/1 shot to get the job on a permanent contract. For now, Emery is more of an outside bet at odds of 12/1.

Ferguson took charge of his first game against Chelsea at Goodison Park on Saturday and oversaw a much-needed victory. Next up for the Toffees legend and his players is a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United.

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!