Carra: Arsenal can’t win Premier League playing like this

Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher says Arsenal are becoming over-reliant on winning games by finite margins and that could derail their title chase later in the season.

The Gunners currently sit top of the Premier League table, a point better off than second-placed Manchester City, having secured five of their nine victories by single-goal margins.

That includes a 1-0 win over City in early October, as well as a 1-0 triumph in their latest league outing against Brentford, where Kai Havertz found an 89th-minute winner.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights of the Premier League clash between Brentford and Arsenal.

Carragher believes Arsenal will ultimately come unstuck in their challenge for a first league title since 2003-04 if they are not able to win games more convincingly – highlighting a particular drop-off in attacking productivity.

“We’re still only a third of the way through the season, but I think if Arsenal continue how they are, if this is the Arsenal we’re going to see this season, I don’t think they can win the league,” Carragher said on Monday Night Football.


“I think so many games are going to the wire and sometimes that can go against you – you think of the [Aaron] Ramsdale mistake and the big chance Brentford had in the second half at the weekend.

“Those games that finish 1-0 can easily go 1-0 the other way.”

Aaron Ramsdale missed his chance to stake a claim for the Arsenal No 1 jersey in a nervous showing during their win at Brentford
Aaron Ramsdale delivered a nervous showing during Arsenal’s narrow win at Brentford

Carra says Arsenal are lacking the kind of fluidity and energy that made them so dangerous last season, with attacking output from key players not yet hitting the same heights.

“For me, when we’re talking about a different Arsenal – we can see it with the stats, but everyone can see with their eyes.

“It’s not the same fluidity, the same pace, energy and creating chances – you can see that.

Arsenal’s fine margins

  • Aug 12: Arsenal 2-1 Nottm Forest
  • Aug 21: Crystal Palace 0-1 Arsenal
  • Sept 17: Everton 0-1 Arsenal
  • Oct 8: Arsenal 1-0 Man City
  • Nov 25: Brentford 0-1 Arsenal

“The reason I don’t think they are as fluid is that individually, the attacking players have been average this season, whereas they were on absolute fire last season in terms of [Gabriel] Martinelli, [Bukayo] Saka and [Gabriel] Jesus.

“[Martin] Odegaard for me last season was up there alongside Kevin De Bruyne, but I know he’s had a few injury problems.”

Monday Night Football guest, and former Arsenal forward Freddie Ljungberg, believes Arsenal are equipped to challenge Man City for Premier League honours but need to focus on rediscovering their attacking impetus.


“I think definitely they’re ready to challenge for the title,” he said, “but the stats here are quite telling to be honest and I don’t think that will work in their favour.

“If I look at City, you almost have to be 10 points in front of them at Christmas, because they’re always so strong in the spring.

“One thing I would take into consideration is that other teams now have respect for Arsenal – the same way they approach a game against City.

“Teams approach with the same game plan, it’s to destroy what Arsenal are doing, and that makes it harder for them in open play to score as many goals.”

Arteta reveals manager solidarity on ref rant

Mikel Arteta revealed that many Premier League managers had been in contact with him after the Arsenal boss was charged by the Football Association for comments after the Gunners’ 1-0 defeat at Newcastle earlier this month.

Arteta branded the officials’ decision not to overturn Anthony Gordon’s goal “an absolute disgrace” and waits to see the extent of his punishment.

And Arteta highlighted that he and his manager colleagues were “all in this together” when it came to making improvements regarding officiating in the Premier League.

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta slams the decision to allow Anthony Gordon’s goal to stand in Newcastle’s 1-0 win over the Gunners in the Premier League

“I have been in contact with many of them, I know most of them for many years and we are all in this together,” Arteta said.

“We compete with each other but we understand our roles and understand our responsibility and we want to fulfil that to our best.

“So everything we do has to be properly thought with good process in place and make sure we contribute to make it better.

“We do meetings (with the officials) but sometimes individually. A lot of things happen.”

Arsenal faced criticism after a public statement supporting Arteta’s comments was released earlier this month.

But the Gunners manager defended his views, putting his reaction down to emotions after it was suggested his comments would set the wrong example as to how to treat referees.

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta states he will carry on ‘being authentic’ as he is charged by the FA for his comments following his side’s controversial match against Newcastle

“I have given hundreds of opinions but you want to isolate one moment when I talked about something I believed and used it in a different way, I don’t think that’s fair”, Arteta said to a reporter.

“We live the game with emotion. I react when a player scores a goal. I react when a player gives the ball away. We are constantly reacting – this is the game.

“We live a game which is passionate and you play to win and so this has to happen and we have to react.

“Let’s sit down here like a theatre and be on mute and see if this league and game will be interesting, it won’t. And that’s what makes it special.”

Poch wants managers ‘involved in decisions’ around referee reform

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Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino gives injury updates on Levi Colwill, Christopher Nkunku and Romeo Lavia and shared his excitement surrounding Wesley Fofana’s return to the training pitch

Mauricio Pochettino believes Premier League managers should be invited to play a more active role in helping shape refereeing guidelines.

Chelsea have been involved in a number of controversial fixtures this season, most notably the frenetic 4-1 win away at Tottenham earlier in November in which Spurs had two players sent off, five goals were disallowed and VAR made nine interventions across a match that lasted over 110 minutes.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea

Pochettino has previously complained that the league’s request to meet with coaches in the week before the beginning of the season to discuss changes allowed little room for constructive input from managers and their clubs.

The current campaign has seen a barrage of complaints directed at on-field and VAR officials, with referees coming under almost unprecedented scrutiny following a string of errors, particularly relating to the influence of the video referee on the decision-making process.

“We all have full respect for the referees, we understand perfectly that their job is really tough,” said Pochettino, whose team face Newcastle at St James’s Park on Saturday.

“But the problem is you get frustrated sometimes during the game because of the VAR. The referee is not responsible sometimes. You cannot complain to the VAR. That is a problem.

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Listen to the full four minute VAR check of Anthony Gordon’s controversial goal for Newcastle against Arsenal, with PGMOL chief Howard Webb discussing the process of awarding the goal

“I’m going to try and control more my emotions. I think all the coaches respect the referees because they’re in a really difficult situation.

“I think sometimes we are frustrated. I think coaches need to be more involved in the decisions, and to work together during the season.

“It is not (ideal) to arrive the week before the start of the Premier League season and say, ‘OK, the new rules are this. What do you think?’. Nothing, because you have already made the decision. Like the rule that there can only be one coach (in the technical area). Why?

“England was always different about the relationship with the referee. You can talk, you can (previously) have four people in the dugout. Which way do we want to evolve in the Premier League?

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Former Premier League referee Mike Dean discusses the current state of VAR and how it affects referees on today’s Soccer Saturday

“England is different. Not only because you drive on the right (of the car), but because of the relationship in football. It is the gentleman’s game.”

Despite those frustrations, and the ongoing confusion surrounding the proper implementation of VAR and its interpretation of the game’s rules, Pochettino acknowledged that the emotional side of football is ultimately what props up the business side of the sport.

“I think people look at football and understand that it is a big business,” he said. “The sport is very honest, with rules. But around that it is a business that we cannot stop.

“If the sport doesn’t produce that emotion it is producing, it is difficult to talk about it in this way, to have the chance to have good salaries, to give also to society.

“Football provides people with happiness and that is the most important thing. We are all part of this business.”

Havertz nets late header at Brentford to send Arsenal top

Kai Havertz came off the bench to score a late header and send Arsenal top of the Premier League with a 1-0 win at Brentford.

Aaron Ramsdale initially made a shaky return on his first start since September due to David Raya being ineligible to face his parent club and was spared by a superb goal-line clearance from Declan Rice in the first half after making an error.

Arsenal thought they had taken the lead when Leandro Trossard nodded in before the break but he was ruled offside following a VAR check.

Brentford pushed for a winner in the second half as Arsenal stuttered. The Gunners had Oleksandr Zinchenko to thank for making a goal-line block to deny substitute Neal Maupay before snatching victory in the final minute when Havertz headed in from Bukayo Saka’s cross.

Player ratings:

Brentford: Flekken (6), Pinnock (7), Norgaard (6), Wissa (6), Ghoddos (6), Onyeka (6), Mee (7), Mbeumo (6), Ajer (6), Janelt (7), Yarmoliuk (6).

Subs: Maupay (6), Baptiste (6), Lewis-Potter (n/a), Jorgensen (n/a)

Arsenal: Ramsdale (6), Tomiyasu (7), Gabriel (7), Saliba (7), Zinchenko (7); Rice (7), Odegaard (6), Trossard (6); Saka (7), Jesus (6), Martinelli (6).

Subs: Nketiah (6), Havertz (7), Jorginho (n/a), White (n/a)

Player of the Match: Oleksandr Zinchenko

How Arsenal beat Brentford

Bryan Mbeumo fails to capitalise on Aaron Ramsdale's error
Bryan Mbeumo almost punished Aaron Ramsdale’s error in the first half

Ramsdale was taunted by the Brentford fans with every touch and he nearly gifted them the lead in the 14th minute.

The goalkeeper dallied in the six-yard box and was tackled by Yoane Wissa, the ball breaking for Bryan Mbeumo, whose shot was superbly blocked on the line by Rice with Wissa unable to turn home the rebound.

Team news:

  • Saman Ghoddos, Frank Onyeka and Yehor Yarmoliuk came into the Brentford starting XI.
  • Nathan Collins, Mads Roerslev and Mathias Jensen all drop out and none of them were on the bench.
  • Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Jesus both returned from injury to start for Arsenal.
  • Aaron Ramsdale came in for goalkeeper David Raya, who was ineligible to face his parent club.

Ramsdale then had his head in his shirt after his attempt to throw the ball out bounced just yards in front of him and straight to Brentford.

At the other end, Arsenal were composed, probing the opposition’s defence with patient attacks. Mark Flekken had denied a deflected Gabriel Jesus shot moments before Arsenal thought they had taken the lead.

Leandro Trossard heads the ball into the Brentford net only for his effort to be ruled out by VAR for offside
Leandro Trossard heads the ball into the Brentford net only for his effort to be ruled out by VAR for offside

Trossard pounced to nod in from close range but the VAR ruled the goal out as the forward was offside from Jesus’ initial header which had been parried into the air by Flekken.

Brentford had the better of the second half without creating many clear chances. Maupay’s close-range header was brilliantly kept out by Zinchenko which galvanised the Gunners.

Rice drove them forward, seeing a deflected shot go narrowly wide before Havertz made the telling impact. Saka cut in from the right and sent a cross to the back post where Havertz’ stooping header crept past Flekken.

Arteta on Havertz: That’s what big players do

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta:

“I’m so happy with the team, with the way they performed, we got the clean sheet and I’m so happy with how everybody played.

“We should’ve scored earlier than that, but this is a really tough place to come.

“Credit to Brentford for what they do to every team. We showed a lot of resilience and belief.

“I’m delighted for Kai. You only have to see the reaction of everyone, how much they love him, and what he brings to the team. It’s what he needs to do.

“We believed he could change the game with the way they were defending, and it was the perfect timing, perfect execution. He won the game for us – that’s what big players do.”

Frank: It was a completely even game

Brentford manager Thomas Frank:

“We did so many things right. It was a very even game. They had more on the ball which is no surprise. But it was completely even.

“Two chances to each team and unfortunately they scored one of them and we didn’t. It should have been a draw but games that tight can be decided by one margin going the wrong way or one quality action.

“I’m pleased with the performance and the effort of the players. That was game number 13 and we have performed well in 12 of them. We have performed to get more points than we have got so far. I still think that’s a good sign. Hopefully, we can continue the good performances going forward so we can get more points.”

Opta Stats: Arteta wins on 200th game

  • Arsenal finish the day top of the Premier League table for the first time this season. With the top two (Man City and Liverpool) drawing 1-1 earlier, this is now the second time in Premier League history that the top two have met but neither have finished the day top, after 28th November 2015 (Leicester 1-1 Manchester United, Man City finished the day top).
  • Brentford have lost their first Premier League London derby in 15 such matches (W8 D6), since a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal in this exact fixture last season, while the Gunners extend their run to 17 games unbeaten in London derbies in the competition (W12 D5).
  • Mikel Arteta has won 116 of his 200 games in charge of Arsenal in all competitions, the most wins of any manager in their first 200 games in charge of the club (previously Arsene Wenger, 111).
  • Arsenal have had 10 goals scored via substitutes this season in all competitions, the joint most of any Premier League side (Brighton also 10).

Fantasy Premier League stats

FPL stats: Brentford 0-1 Arsenal

Goals Havertz
Assists Saka
Bonus points Zinchenko (3pts), Saka (2pts), Tomiyasu (1pt)

Play Fantasy Premier League and see more stats here

What’s next?

Brentford host Luton in the Premier League on Saturday December 3; kick-off 3pm.

Meanwhile, Arsenal are in Champions League action on Wednesday when they host RC Lens; kick-off 8pm.

They then host Wolves in the Premier League on Saturday December 2; kick-off 3pm.

Arteta confirms Ramsdale will start for Arsenal at Brentford with Raya ineligible

Mikel Arteta has confirmed goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale will return to Arsenal’s Premier League team on Saturday, with David Raya ineligible to face his parent club Brentford.

Raya has started every Premier League and Champions League game for the Gunners since the September international break, usurping Ramsdale as Arsenal’s No 1 in the process.

Raya is on loan from Brentford – with a view to making the temporary deal permanent next summer for £30m – and Premier League rules state that loan players cannot play against their parent clubs.

Arteta confirmed at his pre-Brentford press conference that Ramsdale will start in goal for the Gunners again on Saturday evening.

When asked if there was any expectation on Ramsdale ahead of the Gtech Community stadium, Arteta said: “My job is to try and help people in the very best possible way every day to make him better and give them the best possible chance to fulfil the potential in their career and get to the highest possible position.

“There is no expectation with any player.”

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Mikel Arteta is ‘hopeful’ Martin Odegaard will be available against Brentford after picking up a concussion against Newcastle and confirms Aaron Ramsdale will start in goal for Arsenal on Saturday

Ramsdale has only played twice for Arsenal since his last Premier League outing on September 3, when they beat Manchester United 3-2 – both have come in the Carabao Cup.

One of those games was, coincidentally, an away trip to Brentford, with Ramsdale impressing with a string of saves in a 1-0 win. The other saw the England international concede three in the Carabao Cup fourth round loss at West Ham on November 1.

Estonian goalkeeper Karl Hein, who has only featured in one competitive game for Arsenal, is the only other first-team goalkeeper available to Arteta.

Ramsdale’s dad: The way Aaron was dropped was wrong

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Aaron Ramsdale’s dad, Nick Ramsdale, shares his thoughts on his son’s current situation at Arsenal on the Highbury Squad podcast

Last week, Ramsdale’s father Nick criticised the manner in which Arteta dropped his son in September, saying the England goalkeeper had no idea he would be replaced as first-choice when Raya arrived in north London in August.

In an interview with the Highbury Squad podcast, which included input from former Arsenal striker Kevin Campbell, Ramsdale Senior said: “We did not have a clue. I didn’t have a clue, our family didn’t have a clue, Aaron didn’t have a clue that he was not going to carry on playing. All of a sudden, he’s not been played.

“You just have to look at it personally and I’m probably saying too much but: Aaron is going to be the cup goalkeeper, and David Raya is going to be the main man unless something happens, an injury or a sending-off. And Aaron’s got to live with that and he is living with that even though he’s not been told it. By anybody.

“Squads evolve all the time, nobody is going to be there forever. David Raya has not pulled up trees so far, let’s say he’s not going to. Even though the way it’s been done, in my eyes, it’s been wrong.

“Aaron lost that smile. And it’s difficult to see him there. We all keep saying: ‘you need to keep smiling’. And at the moment in time, we haven’t got that smile in him.

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The Telegraph’s Jason Burt says Aaron Ramsdale’s comments about his son’s treatment at Arsenal are not helpful to the goalkeeper

“David Raya is a great goalkeeper and it’s not his fault. He’s just come in as a goalkeeper. It’s just like when Aaron came in and Bernd Leno was there. Aaron says Raya is a lovely guy and he works hard with him. Aaron is trying to help in as much as he can to settle in with the squad. It’s possibly the way it’s been done, not knowing the reason why.

“My only problem is when I spoke to Mr Arteta on the phone before he signed Aaron, he said he wanted Aaron. But now David Raya is back on the market and he had David Raya.

Asked what Raya’s arrival means for his son’s future at Arsenal, Ramsdale’s father added: “I don’t know. Aaron has just signed a new deal with three or four years with an option for 12 months.

“This is honestly truthful, I’m not spinning the yarn. This is purely me: why would you extend a goalkeeper or any player’s contract and then two or three months later [make a move on someone else]?”

Follow Brentford vs Arsenal on Sky Sports’ digital platforms via the live blog on Saturday; kick-off 5.30pm. Watch free highlights after full-time