Arsenal 1-0 Newcastle: Stunning Mesut Ozil Volley Lifts Gunners Back Up to Fourth

Arsenal reclaimed their spot in the Champions League places after Mesut Ozil’s wonderful first-half volley secured a 1-0 victory over Newcastle at the Emirates.

The hosts were sweating over the fitness of star striker Alexandre Lacazette before this one, and Arsene Wenger was able to name him in the starting lineup ahead of his compatriot Olivier Giroud.

Promising youngster Ainsley Maitland-Niles remained in the unfamiliar position of left wing back, while Jack Wilshere kept his place in midfield after Aaron Ramsey was ruled out for three weeks with a hamstring injury.

Arsenal v Newcastle United - Premier League

Newcastle’s Arsenal youth product Isaac Hayden was the focus of much of the pre-game coverage on his return to the Emirates – he started in centre midfield in place of the suspended Jonjo Shelvey following a late sending off against Everton in midweek.

Karl Darlow was at fault for the Everton goal, and he was replaced by Newcastle’s number one Rob Elliot. Rafa Benitez also reinstalled Jacob Murphy on the right of midfield and opted for a front two of Joselu and Ayoze Perez.

Maitland-Niles had the first real chance of the game as he drove infield fantastically from the left hand side, riding three Newcastle challenges before driving the ball into the side netting.

​Newcastle were playing well and were arguably the better side until a moment of magic in the 23rd minute. Florian Lejuene headed the ball to assumed safety, but Mesut Ozil was waiting on the edge of the box to volley home and make it 1-0 with a fantastic display of technique – Elliot stood no chance.

The difference between the two teams was how dangerous Arsenal looked going forward in comparison to the lack of threat in the final third shown by the Magpies. 

The Gunners almost had a second goal 15 minutes later as Lacazette played a nice one-two with Ozil but the German’s dinked finish over Elliot was turned round the post by Lejeune.

After the restart, the ball ricocheted off Alex Iwobi’s shin towards the Newcastle goal, forcing Elliot down to his left smartly before palming away to prevent the Nigerian winger pouncing on his own rebound.

Newcastle grew into the game as it approached the hour mark. Ayoze cut the ball back to substitute Matt Ritchie but the Scotsman’s long range effort flew over the cross bar. Moments later, Jacob Murphy cut inside from the left and was afforded far too much space to get a low shot in at goal – the first effort that really troubled Petr Cech all day.

Arsenal almost found their elusive second goal with 15 minutes to go. Alexis Sanchez chipped the ball to the back post for Giroud – who had just replaced Lacazette much to Arsenal’s top scorers annoyance – who headed down to the penalty spot but Wilshere’s shot was straight at Elliot.

Newcastle continued to knock on the door as Joselu’s shot was blocked by Koscielny and Ayoze sent two efforts over the crossbar from promising positions. As long as Arsenal only had a one goal lead, the Toon kept believing they could nick something.

But that wasn’t to be. Although defeat for Newcastle sends them into the relegation zone, it was a far better performance compared to recent weeks and should offer Benitez hope going into the Christmas period.

One moment of magic split the two sides as Arsenal struggled to unlock a resolute Magpies backline, and as exciting as Ozil, Sanchez and Lacazette all being on the same pitch might be, they looked pretty bereft of ideas today. Either way, Wenger will be happy with his side’s return to the Champions League qualification spots.

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Arsenal Fans Slam Contract Rebel Sanchez Over Poor Stats After West Ham Stalemate

​Arsenal fans appear to finally be losing patience with contract rebel Alexis Sanchez after he was slammed on social media for his poor distribution against West Ham.

The Gunners were held to a 0-0 draw by David Moyes’ Hammers on Wednesday, and Sanchez’s performance whilst in possession of the ball didn’t go down well with the club’s fanbase.

Arsenal v Doncaster Rovers - Carabao Cup Third Round

Indeed, the Chile forward racked up just 78.6% in terms of pass completion – a percentage worse than all of his outfield teammates on the night bar Olivier Giroud – and lost the ball a ridiculous 21 times during the contest.

It was no surprise, then, to see Arsenal fans take to Twitter during and after the London derby to vent about Sanchez’s inability to retain possession:

Sanchez has entered the final six months of his current deal at the Emirates, and is showing no signs of wanting to extend his stay in north London.

The 29-year-old has been touted as a future Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain star ahead of the January window as Arsenal weigh up whether to sell him for a cut-price fee or lose him for nothing next June.


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Monaco’s Thomas Lemar Sets Arsenal Tongues Wagging After Recent Social Media Activity

​AS Monaco star Thomas Lemar has gotten Arsenal fans all worked up by liking an Instagram post linking him with the club.

Lemar was courted by the Gunners all summer, but a deal collapsed on the final day of the transfer window, with the player staying put in France.

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The Londoners are expected to make further attempts to sign the Frenchman in January. And his latest social media activity has set fans abuzz, given that players are known to drop hints via such platforms in today’s game.

A fan posted a photo of Lemar on Instagram with the caption ‘Welcome to Arsenal’, quite surprisingly garnering a like from the player himself.

Of course Gunners fans jumped on that; and you could catch a few of the reactions below.

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Paul Merson Urges Jack Wilshere to End Time With Arsenal & Believes Liverpool Would Be Ideal Suitors

Former Arsenal legend and now TV pundit Paul Merson has stated he believes Liverpool could be the perfect destination for Gunners midfielder Jack Wilshere this summer. 

The 25-year-old has struggled to find a way into Arsene Wenger’s starting XI since returning from his year-long loan spell with Bournemouth ahead of this campaign.

Despite making showings in this year’s Europa League for the north Londoners, the England international secured only his first Premier League starting appearance against West Ham United in midweek, but once again portrayed his qualities. 

At the end of this season Wilshere’s current contracted time with Arsenal will be up, opening the door for a free exit to a new suitor.

Wenger has already revealed that contract negotiations between the club and the midfielder will take place at the end of this month, however Merson believes the Englishman should call time on his career in north London with and that Liverpool should come calling. 

“Everton, West Ham, I think anybody after them”, the 49-year-old said on Sky Sports News, as quoted by the ​Daily Express.

“Man City, no. Chelsea, I don’t think so. 

“Liverpool maybe, I think Liverpool would take him all day long.

“They rely on Coutinho to break people down, if you get Jack Wilshere as well then you’ve got two people who can break people down.

“At the moment they are very reliant on Coutinho. If Coutinho doesn’t do it, there are not too many others who can put the ball through the eye of a needle who play for Liverpool.

“For me I think Liverpool would be all over him.”

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Picking the Best Potential Arsenal Lineup to Face Newcastle on Saturday

​Arsenal face up against Newcastle this weekend as Arsene Wenger’s men aim to get their season back on track, after a defeat to bitter rivals Manchester United and draws against West Ham and Southampton.

Scoring has been an issue for the north London side in recent weeks as last season’s top scorer Alexis Sanchez has struggled to find his feet this campaign. 

The Gunners have scored only two goals in their last three games and will look to get their rhythm back in what will be a tough fixture against Newcastle.

In the lead up to the game, here is the predicted starting XI for Arsenal.

Goalkeeper

  • Cech

    Cech33

Petr Cech will be the most likely option for goalkeeper for Arsenal this week as the 35-year-old has become a staple in Wenger’s lineup since his arrival from Chelsea. 

The Arsenal shot stopper has kept eight clean sheets so far this season but will need to be on top form against a Newcastle side who are hungry for their first win since late October.​

Defence

  • Bellerin

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  • Koscielny

    Koscielny6

  • Monreal

    Monreal18

  • Kolašinac

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​Arsene Wenger will need to ensure that his defence is stable from the outset on Saturday as early goals have cost his side dearly in the past few weeks. 

The north London club were two goals down to United within the opening 11 minutes during their clash at the Emirates, as Wenger’s men ultimately lost the tie 3-1. Meanwhile Charlie Austin scored for in the third minute for Southampton last weekend, with Olivier Giroud scoring a 88th minute equaliser to grab a point for the Gunners.

Nacho Monreal has arguably been one of Wenger’s most consistent players this season, seeing him earn a regular spot on the starting XI, alongside Laurent Koscielny. 

Sead Kolasinac seems to improve every time he steps onto the pitch, continuously showing the world why he was one of the steals of the summer,  therefore, he will likely start at left back with Hector Bellerin filling in at the other full back position.

Midfield

Granit Xhaka has often displayed poor performances for the north London side but remains a key fixture in the midfield because of his strong ability to pick out a pass when necessary.

Ozil has been a breath of fresh air for Arsenal in recent games with great performances against both Tottenham and Manchester United, proving why he should be considered amongst the best in the Premier League. 

Saturday offers the German a chance to build on a strong series of performances for the Gunners as he looks to attract attention around Europe in January. 

Fellow contract rebel Alexis Sanchez has had a poor start to the season for his standard and will look to put in a strong performance against Newcastle to solidify his importance to the side. Meanwhile, Englishman Jack Wilshere may see the starting eleven again this weekend as he continues his journey to full fitness.

Forwards

  • Lacazette

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​Alexandre Lacazette will be the most likely option for striker as Arsenal try to capture all three points on Saturday.

The Frenchman was replaced by countryman Olivier Giroud in Arsenal’s last game, with the former Lyon man finding himself starting on the bench.

Despite Olivier Giroud’s fantastic header to grab a point away at Southampton, it has been Lacazette who has looked to be the better fit in the starting XI this season with Arsenal’s record transfer scoring eight goals and providing one assist in 17 games for the Gunners.

The 26-year-old will look to continue his impressive play under Arsene Wenger, as his side are set to take on Newcastle and may even find himself on the score sheet before all is said and done.

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