90min’s Premier League Team of the Week – Matchday 16

So Liverpool have won the league. That’s been confirmed. 

Manchester City are weirdly really bad this season. That’s been confirmed. 

West Ham United are getting relegated. That’s been, well, it’s not been confirmed, but losing 3-1 to an Arsenal team who literally can’t string three passes together should be an offence punishable by immediate relegation.

And in a match week during which all of these things were confirmed, there were also a number of pretty impressive individual performances. Here’s the best of them: 


Goalkeeper & Defenders

Jonny Evans

Vicente Guaita (GK): After keeping out Watford on Saturday, the ​Crystal Palace goalkeeper has now kept the most clean sheets in the Premier League. Yes, he’s kept more clean sheets than David De Gea. Yes, more than Ederson. And yes, more than Alisson. Guaita is pretty great. 

Gary Cahill (CB): Two Crystal Palace players in one Team of the Week? We never thought we’d see the day. Like Guaita, Cahill has been instrumental for Palace’s mean defence this season, and continued his fine form into the weekend’s meeting with Watford. 

Harry Maguire (CB): ‘Slabhead’ did what he does best this past weekend: use his big slabby head to keep world class attackers at bay. Easy work. 

Jonny Evans (CB): In many ways, Leicester’s signing of Evans for £3.5m may be the greatest transfer of all time. The Northern Irishman has been the best central defender in the ​Premier League this season, and he proved it once again this past weekend with a goal in Leicester’s 10000th win of 2019/20.


Midfielders

Heung-Min Son

Aaron Wan-Bissaka (RM): AWB pocketed Raheem Sterling on Saturday evening. That’s why he’s in the Team of the Week. 

Naby Keita (CM): Yes, that’s right, Naby Keita finally – FINALLY – did something for ​Liverpool – he scored a goal. Granted, it was against Bournemouth but still, it is progress. 

James Maddison (CM): Maddison is seemingly always our office Team of the Week discussion, and this week he makes the cut. The 23-year-old was atypically brilliant against Aston Villa, bagging an assist and generally just wrecking heads at Villa Park all afternoon. 

Heung-min Son (LM): Sonaldo! Diego Mara-Son-a! Lionel Mes-Son! Oh, you haven’t heard? Son scored the best goal of all time at the weekend. Check it out:



Forwards

Diogo Jota,Matthew Ryan

Marcus Rashford (RW): Rashy ripped Manchester City’s fairly dreadful defence limb from limb on Saturday evening to inspire the Red Devils to a famous win over their city rivals. Ergo: he’s in the Team of the Week. 

Jamie Vardy (ST): The 32-year-old scored his 15th and 16th Premier League goals of the season against Aston Villa. He’s really good. It’s a pity his wife is a tout though. 

Diogo Jota (LW): Shane Duffy didn’t make the Brighton starting XI AGAIN so, as you could probably have guessed, Diogo Jota had a nice wee day at the Amex on Sunday, bagging a brace in a 2-2 draw.


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The 8 Youngest Premier League Scorers in Arsenal’s History

Arsenal have long been viewed as a club who take pride in developing their young talent, so it should come as no surprise that they have had plenty of youngsters find the back of the net in the Premier League.

In total, eight players under the age of 19 have managed to get themselves on the score sheet in the league for Arsenal, and those eight players have all had incredibly varied experiences of life in England.

Let’s take a look at the eight youngsters Premier League scorers in Arsenal history.


Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott

​Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with ​Birmingham City in February 2008 is only really memorable because of the downright sickening leg injury which Gunners forward Eduardo suffered, but it was actually the first time Theo Walcott netted a ​Premier League goal.

The winger was 18 years, 11 months and seven days old when he poked home from close range, and he added an impressive second just minutes later.

It was his 30th game for the club, but he finally managed to get his name on the score sheet.


Jack Wilshere

Jack Wilshere

During his early years at Arsenal, midfielder Jack Wilshere was seen as certain star of the future. When he netted his first goal in a 4-2 win over ​Aston Villa in November 2010, it only increased the hype.

When he headed home a late effort to secure all three points, Wilshere was 18 years, 10 months ​and 26 days old.

Wilshere’s goal was a positive end to an otherwise tumultuous week for Arsenal, who had fallen to disappointing defeats against both Braga and ​Tottenham earlier in the week.


Nicolas Anelka

David Wetherall

Arsenal lifted the Premier League title in the 1997/98 season as they finished one point ahead of ​Manchester United. So, you could say that the Gunners’ 3-2 win over United in November that year was about as important as you can imagine.

French forward Nicolas Anelka needed just nine minutes to open the scoring as he fired home past ​Peter Schmeichel. At the age of 18 years, seven months and 26 days, Anelka became the youngest Premier League scorer in Arsenal history at the time.

Ray Parlour’s record had stood for five years before that, but Anelka made it his own in emphatic fashion.


Aaron Ramsey

Aaron Ramsey

In the early weeks of the 2009/10 campaign, Arsenal were in electric form, and young midfielder ​Aaron Ramsey managed to get in on the fun when he scored in a 4-1 win over Portsmouth in August.

The Welshman was 18 years, seven months and 27 days when he netted the goal – a powerful drive from range – and he left fans’ mouths watering over a future with Ramsey in the team.

Ramsey eventually left Arsenal in the summer of 2019, having made a total of 371 appearances for the club.


Gabriel Martinelli

Gabriel Martinelli,Ryan Fredricks

The latest entry on this list, Gabriel Martinelli became the fourth-youngest Premier League scorer in Arsenal history when he netted the equaliser in the recent 3-1 win over ​West Ham.

The young Brazilian, who has been on fire in cup competitions, was handed his first league start at the age of 18 years, five months and 21 days old, and he responded by side-footing a low drive from inside the box around the hour mark.

Thanks to his goal, Martinelli also became the youngest player to ever score for Arsenal on their first Premier League start. 


Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Arsenal recorded one of the biggest wins in their history when they mauled ​Blackburn Rovers 7-1 in February 2012. It was memorable for a number of reasons, including ​Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s first top-flight goals.

The youngster used his pace to round the goalkeeper and tap home at the age of 18 years, five months and 20 days, and he bagged a second shortly after half time.

Back then, Oxlade-Chamberlain was seen as one of the most exciting young wingers around, but he has since transitioned into more of a central midfielder as the years have passed.​


Serge Gnabry

FBL-ENG-FACUP-ARSENAL-TOTTENHAM

2013 was the year ​Serge Gnabry established himself as a future superstar at Arsenal, and it took him just three appearances to net his first goal in the Premier League.​

He was 18 years, two months and 14 days old when he netted in a 2-1 win over ​Swansea City in September 2013, finishing off a delightful team move with a powerful drive from inside the box.

It proved to be his only goal in the competition, but he’s scoring goals for fun with ​Bayern Munich these days.


Cesc Fàbregas

Fabresc Fabregas,Aaron Mokoena

Most of the players on this list are separated by only a matter of days, but Spanish midfielder Cesc​ Fàbregas was nearly a year younger than the rest of the competition when he etched his name in Arsenal history in August 2004.

The youngster was just 17 years, three months and 21 days old when he netted his first Premier League goal in a 3-0 win over Blackburn, which was about as scrappy as they come as Fàbregas used his knee to deflect a shot into the net.

He shattered Anelka’s record by about 16 months, and it will certainly not be easy for anyone to take the honour away from Fàbregas.


For more from Tom Gott, follow him on Twitter!

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Twitter Reacts as Arsenal FINALLY Win a Game to End Torrid Run of Results

Arsenal ended their nine-game run without a win, beating West Ham 3-1 despite going in to half-time behind.

Angelo Ogbonna had grabbed an opener for West Ham, who looked as if they were going to get a much-needed result of their own. However, shortly after the break, Gabriel Martinelli levelled the score with a lovely composed finish.

Two goals from Nicolas Pepe and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang helped Freddie Ljungberg to his first win as Arsenal boss, alleviating some of the immense pressure the Gunners have found themselves under in recent weeks.

Let’s go back to the beginning, shall we?

Freddie Ljungberg has had a rocky start as ​Arsenal manager, with many Gooners questioning his starting lineups in previous games against Norwich and Brighton. But it seems he did right by Arsenal fans with his selection against ​West Ham

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​​​​Although the football gods soon struck as Hector Bellerin picked up an injury in the warm-up and was replaced by Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

Better luck next time, Freddie.

​​It was a very cagey beginning at the London Stadium, both sides passively letting the game drift by with little quality. However, it isn’t too surprising given just how dire results, and performances, have been for the pair in recent weeks.

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​​​​The game began to heat up around the half-an-hour mark, epitomised by the fierce lunging challenge of Aaron Cresswell on Pepe – many unhappy with the nature of the tackle.



And eventually Arsenal did…well, what Arsenal do. 

They conceded a sloppy goal…




The second half surely couldn’t be much worse for Arsenal, could it?

No, it certainly couldn’t. Despite a slightly shaky beginning after the restart, starlet Martinelli grabbed his first ​Premier League goal, completely shifting the momentum of the match.



One soon became two, and it was Pepe who grabbed it. And it was a corker too.

Yes, really.







​​And time for the captain to step up. Pepe’s deflected cross landed at the feet of ​Aubameyang, who struck a well-hit volley – although David Martin could have done better in the West Ham goal.




And that was that. Surprisingly simple in the end for Arsenal, given they couldn’t buy a win.

Boy did Gooners need that.







​​But on the other side of the coin, West Ham’s misery knows no bounds. Another poor result and Manuel Pellegrini is certainly in the firing line.




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Rafael Benitez Rules Himself Out of Immediate Return to the Premier League

Former Liverpool and Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez has taken himself out of the running for the available managerial vacancies at Arsenal and Everton.

Benitez only left the Premier League in the summer after his departure from Newcastle, and the Spaniard has ruled out a sudden return to the English top flight.

Rafael Benitez

Speaking on ​Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football, Benitez was questioned about the chances of him taking on the roles at either Goodison Park or the Emirates.

“Yes, at the moment it’s a no,” he said when asked directly whether he would consider the positions on offer. “In the future, I would like to come back to the ​​Premier League because I like the league, but at the moment I can be very clear.”

After parting company with ​Newcastle in June, the 59-year-old accepted a role in China and is determined to make a success of his time with Chinese Super League club Dalian Yifang.

“No chance that I will come back now because I am really happy [at Dalian Yifang], they trust me,” Benitez added. “We have a lot of staff working on a big, big project. People will say the [Chinese] league is different, yes, it’s a different level. But behind Dalian Yifang is a massive company and they want to change everything. They want to change the structure. We want to leave a legacy and it is a challenge for me.”

Benitez’s declaration has quashed any rumours that had emerged as to his availability and he has clearly drawn a line in the sand over his future.

West Ham were thought to be eyeing Benitez as a possible replacement for under-fire boss Manuel Pellegrini but had slowed their interest when made aware of the Spaniard’s £20m buy-out clause.

Steven Gerrard,Rafael Benitez

It’s no surprise that Benitez’s name had been bandied around, as his managerial CV speaks for itself, notably winning the Champions League in 2005 with Liverpool.

But it appears we won’t be seeing him in a Premier League dugout anytime soon, and speculation has been put to bed by the man himself.

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The Arsenal XI That Should Start Against West Ham in the Premier League

​Freddie Ljungberg is set to take charge of his third game as Arsenal’s interim manager on Sunday, as the Gunners travel across London for a meeting with West Ham United.

The Swede is yet to taste victory since replacing Unai Emery in the dugout at the end of November, with his recruits currently tenth in the Premier League after drawing with Norwich City and losing at home to Brighton in their last two fixtures.

Here’s the side Ljungberg should select against West Ham as he searches for that elusive triumph.


Goalkeeper & Defenders

Kieran Tierney

Bernd Leno (GK) – There’s no question who should start in goal for the ​Gunners. Leno has been one of the few players to have truly impressed during the early months of the season.

Hector Bellerin (RB) – The Spaniard was missed whilst he was out injured, but he’s back now, and Arsenal are better for it. He’ll need to be wary versus the attack-minded Aaron Cresswell down the ​Hammers left.

Sokratis (CB) – He may have had a couple of wobbles this term, yet Sokratis remains Arsenal’s most reliable centre-back. Their defence seems considerably less sturdy without the Greece international.

Calum Chambers (CB) – Unlike Sokratis, David Luiz is not reliable. On occasions, the Brazilian has been brilliant for the Gunners, but the key part is ‘on occasions’. Too frequently, he has made a foolish error and undone his new teammates’ work.

Kieran Tierney (LB) – £25m hasn’t bought a huge amount for Ljungberg’s men thus far, though there is still plenty of time for Tierney to come good at the Emirates. He should build on promising early signs if given a start against the Irons.


Midfielders

Mesut Ozil

Lucas Torreira (CDM) – It’s fairly straightforward, really – Granit Xhaka should not be in Arsenal’s starting lineup when Torreira and Guendouzi are available. Defensively, the Uruguayan is far superior to the Swiss and he offers a considerable amount in attack, too.

Matteo Guendouzi (CDM) – Guendouzi’s heart and courage have been a delight to see in his first 18 months in north London.

Mesut Ozil (CAM) – Now Emery is gone, the door has reopened for Ozil. Fans got glimpses of his silky playmaking skills versus ​Norwich and ​Brighton, but nothing too great. A match against lowly West Ham could be exactly what he needs to get back in the groove after a long time away.


Forwards

Gabriel Martinelli

Gabriel Martinelli (RW) – This kid is headed for the top. Italy and Brazil are fighting over his international allegiances following some electric displays for Arsenal. However, chances have come too few and far between – if he starts, it could prove a breakthrough moment for the teenager.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (LW) – Ordinarily, Aubameyang’s selection is a no-brainer. But, recent reports suggest the captain is looking to engineer an escape from the Emirates, meaning Ljungberg has a decision to make. It would be wise not to cast aside the club’s most accomplished goalscorer.

Alexandre Lacazette (ST) – Despite being a first-rate ​Premier League forward in his own right, Lacazette always seems to be playing second fiddle to Aubameyang. A match with West Ham presents an opportunity for him to boost his numbers for the season.


For more from Ed Alexander, follow him on Twitter

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