Arteta: This squad ‘needs changing’ and I’ll be backed

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says his squad “needs changing” after a dismal season and insists the Kroenkes will back him in the transfer window.

The Gunners crashed out of the Europa League on Thursday after losing to former boss Unai Emery’s Villarreal over two legs in the semi-final and are languishing in 10th in the Premier League ahead of Sunday’s visit of West Brom with four matches left to play.

Arteta was backed in last summer’s transfer window, bringing in midfielder Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid, defender Gabriel from Lille and former Chelsea forward Willian as a free agent.

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Former Arsenal striker Alan Smith feels Mikel Arteta ‘cuts a different figure’ to how he was before and says the belief ‘is being drained out of him’

But the Spaniard has also overseen a big clear-out of Arsenal’s fringe players, moving on Mesut Ozil, Sokratis, Sead Kolasinac and Shkodran Mustafi.

Stan Kroenke, Arsenal’s owner, has been criticised for his lack of investment in the first-team squad since taking ownership of the club in 2011, but Arteta is optimistic there will be cash to spend this summer.

“The squad needs changing.” said Arteta, who is on the verge of overseeing Arsenal’s first season without securing qualification for Europe since 1996.

Wednesday 12th May 7:30pm

Kick off 8:15pm

Sky Sports Premier League HD
Sky Sports Premier League HD

“There were already a lot of changes in December, something that has not been done in years, but it tells us where we were. Things are going to have to change and the owners are going to back it up.”

Arteta has also made it his mission to integrate Arsenal’s emerging talents from the academy into the first-team, with Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe establishing themselves as key figures in the squad this season.

While he admits there is a long way to go before Arsenal can catch up to Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United, Arteta is confident the work the club are doing now will pay off in the long term.

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says he takes full responsibility for his part in the club’s struggles this season and is giving every drop of energy he has

“Time is catching up right now,” he said. “It’s a trend, it’s years now that this has been happening. If the distance and the margins with the rest become too big, then it’s almost impossible to do it.

“We are still on time, and we have put some very strong pillars and foundations in the last few months to do what we have to do.”

Arsenal’s fans are losing faith in Arteta as results continue to deteriorate, with speculation now growing about his future, but when asked if he still backs himself to coach at a top club, he said: “Yes”.

“We know what has been going on inside here for the last 18 months,” Arteta, who won the FA Cup with Arsenal last summer, said. “We know. We only know, the ones that are here. How we have built that is incredible.”

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Arsenal send West Brom down with 3-1 win

Arsenal sent West Brom down with a 3-1 win at the Emirates Stadium as Sam Allardyce suffered relegation from the Premier League for the first time in his career.

The Gunners, 10th in the Premier League table ahead of kick-off and playing for little more than pride after their Europa League exit on Thursday, took the lead when the excellent Bukayo Saka, playing at left-back, crossed for Emile Smith Rowe to volley home (29).

Arsenal doubled their advantage soon afterwards when Nicolas Pepe cut inside from the right flank and curled a stunning effort beyond the outstretched Sam Johnstone (35), but they had some nervy moments after that.

West Brom pulled a goal back in superb style when Matheus Pereira broke forward from inside his own half and, with Arsenal defenders backing off him, fired a diagonal shot into the corner (67).

The hosts struggled to regain control, despite Mikel Arteta sending on Kieran Tierney, Alexandre Lacazette and Thomas Partey, but Willian eventually made the result safe when he found the top corner with a brilliant free-kick (90) to notch his first Arsenal goal.

Arsenal’s first home win in two months was not entirely convincing but it did at least provide some relief after a dismal week. West Brom, meanwhile, return to the Championship after a single season in the top flight.

Player ratings

Arsenal: Leno (6), Chambers (6), Holding (6), Gabriel (6), Saka (9), Elneny (6), Ceballos (6), Smith Rowe (7), Pepe (8), Willian (7), Martinelli (6)

Subs: Lacazette (6), Tierney (7), Partey (6)

West Brom: Johnstone (6), Furlong (6), Bartley (6), Ajayi (6), Townsend (6), Yokuslu (6), Gallagher (6), Phillips (7), Pereira (8), Robinson (7), Diagne (6)

Subs: Robson-Kanu (6), Diangana (6)

Man of the match: Bukayo Saka

How Arsenal sent Big Sam down

Arteta, under pressure after a poor season, had called on his players to show character and desire in the wake of their Europa League exit, but once again they looked flat in the opening stages of the match.

Emile Smith Rowe celebrates after giving Arsenal the lead
Emile Smith Rowe celebrates after giving Arsenal the lead

West Brom’s direct approach caused them problems, with Kyle Bartley and Semi Ajayi firing long passes over their defence at every opportunity and Pereira twice going close from outside the box, curling one spectacular effort a few inches wide.

Callum Robinson threatened too, sending a looping shot against the crossbar after latching onto a diagonal ball in behind, and while the assistant belatedly raised his flag for offside on that occasion, it served as another warning for the hosts.

Team news

  • Mikel Arteta made six changes from Arsenal’s goalless draw against Villarreal with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Thomas Partey among those dropping to the bench.
  • Sam Allardyce brought Callum Robinson and Matt Phillips into the West Brom side. Arsenal loanee Ainsley Maitland-Niles was unable to feature against his parent club.

Arsenal gradually began to wake up, but their build-up play was laboured, with Saka the only player willing to inject speed and urgency into proceedings.

His overlapping runs allowed him to get into dangerous positions repeatedly and while his team-mates were unable to capitalise at first, it was not long until the breakthrough arrived.

Willian played the youngster in behind and Smith Rowe met his fellow academy graduate’s cut-back with an impeccably timed run to convert the opening goal.

Nicolas Pepe celebrates with William after putting Arsenal 2-0 up against West Brom
Nicolas Pepe celebrates with Willian after putting Arsenal 2-0 up

Arsenal’s second came from a rare attack down the opposite flank as Pepe collected Calum Chambers’ pass, cut inside West Brom left-back Conor Townsend and picked out the top corner.

Arsenal had chances to further extend their lead before half-time, with Saka once again the source of the danger.

First, his cross was headed over by Gabriel Magalhaes. Then, in first-half stoppage time, his low, diagonal effort was repelled by Johnstone.

Allardyce sent his players out early from the interval but the second half started in the same way the first had ended, with Arsenal threatening to add to their advantage.

Pepe stung the palms of Johnstone with another diagonal effort after West Brom had lost possession in their own half, while Saka continued to find space on the left, with one cut-back narrowly missing both Gabriel Martinelli and Smith Rowe in the six-yard box.

Matt Phillips holds off Willian
Matt Phillips holds off Willian

West Brom looked dead and buried at that point but, out of nothing, they pulled a goal back, with the dangerous Pereira capitalising on woeful Arsenal defending as he ran unopposed from the middle of his own half to the edge of the Gunners’ box and fired a clinical effort into the bottom corner.

Arsenal were rocked by the goal and struggled to regain control as West Brom sensed an opportunity to draw level. It looked like they might in the 73rd minute when Darnell Furlong met a Matt Phillips cross – only to head wastefully wide.

It was a fortunate escape for Arsenal and it was the closest West Brom came to prolonging their Premier League survival.

The Gunners then made the result safe when the much-maligned Willian provided a reminder of his quality, curling home a free-kick from 25 yards out and sealing what is only Arsenal’s seventh home win of a difficult Premier League campaign.

Man of the match – Bukayo Saka

Bukayo Saka was a constant threat for Arsenal
Bukayo Saka was a constant threat for Arsenal

With Tierney on the bench and Granit Xhaka injured, Saka started at left-back for only the second time all season. His performance was one to savour – although some Arsenal fans will see it as proof that he should have been deployed there earlier.

The 19-year-old, like Smith Rowe, has provided a ray of light in a dismal season and while he has shone in more advanced roles over the course of the campaign, this was a reminder of just how dangerous he can be from the left-back position.

West Brom could not handle his speed and directness and while the statistics show he only created two chances, there were many more occasions when he got in behind and created danger for his side.

Arsenal’s squad is in need of work but in Saka they have a player to build around.

What the managers said…

Mikel Arteta
Mikel Arteta is now hoping to end the season with three more victories

Mikel Arteta: “We needed that win. It has been a while since we won at home. We scored three fantastic goals and we had some great spells in the game.

“They scored out of nothing and then they throw everything at you. They know the situation they are in and we struggled to play that kind of game. When we conceded the goal we did look nervy.

“Europe is a completely different game, different context. There were things we could have done much better.

“We will try to win every match now and see where we finish. The only thing we can do is win our games.”

Sam Allardyce: “It’s not sunk in yet, but I’m sure I’ll wake up tomorrow and realise the situation. I’m bitterly disappointed we’re not still in the fight.

“I’m not saying we would have avoided relegation but we should have been closer, we should have taken it down to the last three games, based on how we performed. The creating of chances has been there but the converting has not.

“We had [enough] time to pull it round. Our real problem was not beating the bottom-six sides when we came up against them. The results against Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City should have been bonus points.”

Opta stats – West Brom’s sinking feeling

  • West Brom have suffered their fifth relegation from the Premier League, the joint-most by a team alongside Norwich City, whilst Sam Allardyce has been relegated from the top-flight for the very first time in his managerial career.
  • Arsenal have recorded back-to-back Premier League victories for just the second time in 2021, having previously done so back in January.
  • Of the five relegations that West Brom have suffered from the Premier League, only in 2002-03 (4) have the Baggies had their relegation confirmed with more games remaining than this season (3).
  • Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 30 Premier League home games against promoted (W25 D5), with their last such defeat coming back in November 2010 against Newcastle.
  • West Brom boss Sam Allardyce has failed to pick up a single point in his 10 Premier League trips to the Emirates Stadium, with only Harry Redknapp at Old Trafford (15 visits) managing more matches at a single venue without managing to earn at least one point in the competition.
  • Bukayo Saka’s assist for Emile Smith Rowe’s opening goal was his 19th in the colour of Arsenal since making his debut in November 2018, more than any other player at the club.
  • Emile Smith Rowe is the fourth player aged 21 or under to score for Arsenal in the Premier League this season (along with Saka, Martinelli and Nketiah) – no team have had more different U21 scorers in the competition this term.
  • Matheus Pereira is the first West Bromwich Albion player to reach 10 goals in a Premier League campaign since Saido Berahino managed 14 goals back in 2014-15.

What’s next?

Wednesday 12th May 7:30pm

Kick off 8:15pm

Sky Sports Main Event HD
Sky Sports Main Event HD

Sunday 16th May 4:00pm

Kick off 4:30pm

Sky Sports Premier League HD
Sky Sports Premier League HD

Arsenal are back in action on Wednesday when they travel across London to face Chelsea, live on Sky Sports; kick off 8.15pm.

Meanwhile, West Brom face Liverpool next Sunday, also live on Sky Sports; kick off 4.30pm.

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‘Big Six’ among nine ex-Super League clubs who commit to UEFA

Nine of the original Super League clubs – including the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ – have declared their commitment to UEFA and its competitions at continental and domestic level.

However, the three who have not renounced the Super League – Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus – are set to face “appropriate action” under UEFA’s disciplinary action.

The 12 clubs announced themselves as founder members of the breakaway league on April 18, but within 72 hours it had fallen apart with the English clubs withdrawing after fan protests and Government pressure.


Kaveh Solhekol reports the latest as the ‘Big Six’ English clubs involved in failed plans for a European Super League have declared their commitment to UEFA – however Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus are yet to do so.

The clubs will make a combined 15m euro (just over £13m) goodwill contribution to benefit children’s and grassroots football across Europe.

They will also have five per cent of UEFA competition revenues withheld for one season. This money will be redistributed.

They face fines of 100m euros (almost £87m) each if they seek to join an unauthorised competition in the future, and a fine of half that if they breach any other terms of the declaration, UEFA said in a statement.

They will also rejoin the influential lobbying group the European Club Association.

A spokesperson for Manchester United confirmed the Glazer family would personally cover their club’s share of the goodwill money requested and the withheld funds.

It is expected that the amount the Glazers would be liable for is between five and 10 million euros.

Avram Glazer refuses to answer questions over Manchester United


Manchester United owner Avram Glazer refused to apologise to fans over the disastrous attempt to form a breakaway European Super League, when approached by Sky News

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: “I said at the UEFA Congress two weeks ago that it takes a strong organisation to admit making a mistake especially in these days of trial by social media. These clubs have done just that.

“In accepting their commitments and willingness to repair the disruption they caused, UEFA wants to put this chapter behind it and move forward in a positive spirit.

“The measures announced are significant, but none of the financial penalties will be retained by UEFA. They will all be reinvested into youth and grassroots football in local communities across Europe, including the UK.

“These clubs recognised their mistakes quickly and have taken action to demonstrate their contrition and future commitment to European football. The same cannot be said for the clubs that remain involved in the so-called ‘Super League’ and UEFA will deal with those clubs subsequently.”

On those clubs – Real, Barca and Juve – the tone was strikingly different in UEFA’s statement.

“UEFA has reserved all rights to take whatever action it deems appropriate against those clubs that have so far refused to renounce the so-called ‘Super League’,” the statement concluded.

“The matter will promptly be referred to the competent UEFA disciplinary bodies.”

The Football Association said in a statement: “We welcome today’s announcement from UEFA confirming that they have resolved matters with all of the English clubs involved in the proposed European Super League. We’re delighted that these clubs have committed to UEFA’s club competitions going forward.

“The FA has an ongoing inquiry into the involvement of the six English clubs and we have formally requested all relevant information and evidence regarding their participation. Once we have the required information, we will consider what appropriate steps to take.”

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Arsenal vs West Brom: Xhaka may return for hosts

Team news, stats and prediction ahead of Arsenal vs West Brom in the Premier League on Sunday (kick-off 7pm).

Team news

Granit Xhaka could be in contention for Arsenal’s Premier League clash with West Brom on Sunday.

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Former Arsenal striker Alan Smith feels Mikel Arteta ‘cuts a different figure’ to how he was before and says the belief ‘is being drained out of him’

The midfielder missed Thursday’s goalless draw with Villarreal – which saw the Gunners eliminated from the Europa League – after complaining of a tight muscle in the warm-up, but the issue is not believed to be serious.

Dani Ceballos is available having been banned for the previous game, while David Luiz (hamstring) is still likely to be sidelined.

West Brom will be without Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

West Brom manager Sam Allardyce (PA image)


West Brom manager Sam Allardyce says the club are planning for the future, whether it be in the Premier League or the Sky Bet Championship

The midfielder is unable to face his parent club as part of the terms of his loan agreement from Arsenal.

Albion have no new injury concerns but Branislav Ivanovic, Robert Snodgrass and Kieran Gibbs remain on the sidelines.

Relegation permutations

  • West Brom will be relegated if they lose. Also down if they draw and Burnley avoid defeat. Also down with a win if Palace avoid defeat and Brighton, Southampton & Burnley all win.
  • Fulham will be relegated if they do not win.

How to follow

Follow Arsenal vs West Brom in our dedicated live match blog. Highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel shortly after the final whistle.

Last time out…

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Arsenal’s win over Newcastle in the Premier League



FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from West Brom’s draw with Wolves in the Premier League

Jones Knows’ prediction

West Brom will be relegated here if they lose. Sam Allardyce’s reputation as a relegation firefighter hasn’t taken too much of a hit though. He’s shaped the Baggies into a far more accomplished outfit, one that would probably stay up next season if they were a Premier League team while posting the performance levels of the past two months. But it’s all too late for them.

Meanwhile, Mikel Arteta has a talented crop of young talent to work with and nurture, it’s proved the most exciting part of a mind-numbing season for the Gunners. Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe have shone, but the real jewel in the crown could be Gabriel Martinelli, who does remind me of Alexis Sanchez in his pomp. He’s aggressive, direct and is capable of making a difference in the final third. Arsenal are unbeaten in all six matches he’s started in the Premier League this season. Yes, he’s only 18 years old but the young guns are full of responsibility in this Arsenal set-up. They are the future of this club and should be let loose in the final few games.

If selected, West Brom will need to keep a lid on Martinelli’s clever movement, something that Fulham, Sheffield United and Newcastle all struggled with. His expected goal data shows a return of 0.59 per 90 minutes from his last five appearances in the Premier League, which is the fifth-highest of any player, and he is averaging just over three shots a game on his current numbers. That all equates to the 6/1 with Sky Bet for him to score first looking devilishly juicy.


BETTING ANGLE: Gabriel Martinelli to score first (6/1 with Sky Bet)

Opta stats

  • Arsenal have won 10 of their 12 home Premier League games against West Brom, failing only in November 2004 (1-1) and September 2010 (2-3).
  • West Brom have lost each of their last seven Premier League away games against Arsenal by an aggregate score of 15-1.
  • Arsenal have scored in all 25 of their Premier League meetings with West Bromwich Albion, the best 100% scoring record one side has against another in the competition.
  • Victory for Arsenal would see West Bromwich Albion relegated from the Premier League for a joint-record fifth time (along with Norwich). It would be their 11th top-flight relegation (only Birmingham with 12 have suffered more), while it would be manager Sam Allardyce’s first relegation from the Premier League.
  • West Bromwich Albion have lost more top-flight matches against Arsenal (65) than they have versus any other side in their history, with 39 of those defeats arriving in London.
  • Arsenal have lost seven home Premier League games in 2020-21; they last lost more home league matches in a single campaign in 1929-30 (9), a season in which the Gunners finished 14th in the table.
  • After winning consecutive away Premier League games in April 2018, West Bromwich Albion have won just two of their subsequent 18 away games in the competition (D5 L11). Indeed, only Sheffield United (4) have collected fewer away points in the Premier League this term than the Baggies (11).

Pitch to Post Preview: Jamie Redknapp on Man City vs Chelsea; Plus: what next for Arsenal, Man Utd after EL ties, and the top-four race

Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp joins Peter Smith to discuss Manchester City and Chelsea reaching the Champions League final ahead of their clash at the Etihad this weekend.

He also picks out some standout performers from both sides, explaining how Ruben Dias has transformed City, and praising the rise of Phil Foden and Mason Mount.

Sky Sports football writers Oli Yew and Ben Grounds are also on the show to discuss Arsenal’s Europa League exit and Man Utd’s progress to the final – and what comes next for both sides, with Mikel Arteta under pressure and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side looking to kick on.

Ben also assesses the top-four race, with some key fixtures coming up, and makes his pitch for what he thinks will happen in the Premier League this weekend!

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Ek remains committed to Arsenal takeover bid

Spotify co-founder Daniel Ek remains committed to his proposed Arsenal takeover despite the club facing a first season without European football in 25 years.

Swedish billionaire Ek is expected to make his opening bid – believed to be in the region of £1.8billion – for Arsenal but did not want to cause a distraction by doing it before the Europa League semi-final exit to Villarreal on Thursday.

Ek believes his plans and vision for Arsenal will transform the club, who are ninth in the league, and return them to a position where they will be challenging for the Premier League and Champions League again.

Stan Kroenke, who owns Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE), has been Arsenal’s owner since April 2011 and Ek will not comment publicly further on the bid.

The Kroenkes responded to Ek’s interest by saying they were “100% committed” to Arsenal and “are not selling any stake”.

Arsenal legends Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira have backed Ek’s takeover bid.

Henry confirmed to Sky Sports on Monday that Ek has “reached out” to the Kroenke family to present an offer to buy Arsenal and wants to “reinject the Arsenal DNA”.

Former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry in the Monday Night Football studio on May 3, 2021


Thierry Henry spoke about Daniel Ek’s proposed Arsenal takeover on Monday Night Football

“I think it is going to be long and not easy – if it does ever happen,” the former Arsenal striker added.

“One thing that I want to reiterate is that Daniel will not move away, he will be there waiting to see if they want to sell.

“That is going to take a very long time, we know what we want to do, but first and foremost we need to make sure that we can take over if they are listening.”

Arsenal and Mikel Arteta fail to learn lessons as they exit Europa League

Arsenal v Villarreal - UEFA Europa League - Semi Final - Second Leg - Emirates Stadium
Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gestures during the UEFA Europa League Semi Final at the Emirates Stadium, London. Picture date: Thursday May 6, 2021.

Arsenal were held to a goalless draw by Villarreal on Thursday, consigning them to a 2-1 aggregate defeat in the Europa League semi-final and denying them a chance to save their season…

Mikel Arteta bemoaned Arsenal’s bad luck in his post-match press conference. The injury to Granit Xhaka in the warm-up. The two Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang efforts that struck the post.

But there is only so much that can be put down to bad luck. Arsenal bowed out of the Europa League having only mustered one shot on target, at home, in a semi-final they had to win. Their season is effectively over. And it is precisely what they deserve.

Arsenal are just fortunate the fans protesting Stan Kroenke’s ownership outside the Emirates Stadium before the game were not inside to watch it. The wild Villarreal celebrations that greeted the final whistle would have been drowned out by boos.

Nicolas Pepe’s penalty in Spain last week had given Arsenal a lifeline in the tie – albeit one they scarcely deserved. Arteta said they “had so much enthusiasm and desire” to go on and reach the final. But there was little evidence of that out on the pitch.

Instead, Arsenal’s under-performing players produced another display to highlight the need for a rebuild but the pressure is rising on Arteta too. He loaded his team with attackers as he sought to overturn the 2-1 deficit but it seemed the plan ended there.

Read more here…

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