Arsenal team news: Mesut Ozil to miss out? Predicted Gunners line-up for crucial Europa League clash at home to Napoli

11 Apr

Arsenal will be keen to bounce back from their weekend slump at Everton as they welcome Napoli to the Emirates Stadium in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie.

The Gunners were sloppy against the Toffees as they went down to a 1-0 defeat – putting a dent in their hopes of finishing in the top four.

Arsenal’s hopes of reaching the top four suffered a setback

However, winning the Europa League is another route into next season’s Champions League and given Unai Emery’s aptitude for this competition (winning it three years running at Sevilla 2014-16), Arsenal will certainly be taking this game very seriously.

But in order to reach the semi-finals, they must beat one of the favourites to win the competition in Napoli, who very nearly made it out of their Champions League group where they were pitted against Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool.

Emery is aware of the danger Napoli possess with world-class players including Manchester United target Kalidou Koulibaly and Dries Mertens.

Koulibaly and Mertens will be looking to end Arsenal’s Europa League campaign

In fact, Emery has said his side need to win the first leg especially due to Arsenal’s poor away record in the knockout stages this season which has seen them lose to BATE Borisov and Rennes.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is set for a recall to the Arsenal starting XI having only been on the bench for his side’s last two matches after being ill with a virus.

He looks set to join Alexandre Lacazette in attack while Mesut Ozil could miss out again with Aaron Ramsey set to return.

Juventus-bound Ramsey was only fit enough to play the second-half of their defeat at Goodison Park due to a groin problem.

Emery admits Arsenal need to win the first leg

Laurent Koscielny (foot) and Granit Xhaka (groin) face late fitness tests having not featured at the weekend.

So how might Arsenal line up for their first match against the Serie A giants? Below you can see talkSPORT.com’s predicted XI.

Is this the side Emery will field against the Neapolitans?

A 3-4-1-2 formation could be the tactics Emery goes for as he looks to go for the win but also have plenty of defenders back for Napoli’s dangerous attack.

Petr Cech starts in goal as he’s Arsenal’s cup keeper and he may well be joined by a defensive three of Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Kosicleny and Sokratis Papastathopoulos.

Meanwhile, wing-backs Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Sead Kolasinac will be able to support the defenders when the visitors are on the ball but will also give Arsenal width going forward.

The Gunners missed Granit Xhaka’s passing at Everton so if he’s fit enough, he is likely to play and Lucas Torreira is in contention to make a timely return in what is arguably Arsenal’s biggest game of the season so far.

Aaron Ramsey has performed well this season so will surely play and Emery could be tempted to play both Aubameyang and Lacazette as the two forwards work well together.

This means the inconsistent Mesut Ozil may miss out as defensive duties will be a requirement in this match and the No.10 just cannot be relied on to do that.

Could Ozil be dropped by Emery again?

Arsenal vs BATE Borisov: Mesut Ozil named in starting XI for Gunners in Europa League clash

21 Feb

Mesut Ozil has been named in the starting line-up for Arsenal’s Europa League clash with BATE Borisov.

The midfielder was recalled to the team as one of two changes for the Gunners from the side beaten 1-0 in the first leg of the round of 32 tie.

Mesut Ozil is back in the starting team for Arsenal

The 30-year-old replaced the suspended Alexandre Lacazette while Stephan Lichtsteiner came in for the ill Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

Ozil makes his first start for Unai Emery’s side since their 2-1 win over Cardiff on January 29.

Stephan Lichtsteiner also starts for the Gunners

In recent weeks, he has struggled to even make the Arsenal squad let alone the starting XI.

BATE made only one alteration as former Gunners midfielder Alexander Hleb dropped to the bench on his return to the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal: Cech, Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Guendouzi, Xhaka, Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Iwobi, Aubameyang.

BATE Borisov: Scherbitski, Rios, Volkov, Filipenko, Filipovic, Baga, Dragun, Simovic, Milic, Skavysh, Stasevich​

Premier League results: Man of the match for every game at the weekend, according to the statistics

11 Feb

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero hit three goals and hit the post a stunning display in their 6-0 win over Chelsea in the Premier League.

Aguero was handed the Man of the Match award during his post-game interview with Sky Sports – but statisticians don’t agree.

Sergio Aguero celebrates his hat-trick against Chelsea.

Even though the Argentine hit his 11th Premier League hat-trick – the same amount as Alan Shearer – the algorithm over on WhoScored.com reckons he didn’t quite deserve the gong.

Aguero was given a rating of 9.95/10 for his performance but it Raheem Sterling who the stats picked out as the top player on the day, giving him an incredible 10/10.

Raheem Sterling starred for Manchester City.

But, bearing this in mind, who should have had the award in every other Premier League clash over the weekend according to WhoScored? Find out below…

Fulham 0-3 Manchester United

Paul Pogba (Manchester United) – 8.77/10

Crystal Palace 1-1 West Ham United

Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) – 8.34/10

Watford 1-0 Everton

Idrissa Gueye (Everton) – 7.81/10

Huddersfield Town 1-2 Arsenal

Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal) – 8.11/10

Liverpool 3-0 Bournemouth

Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – 8.39/10

Southampton 1-2 Cardiff City

Sol Bamba (Cardiff City) – 7.88/10

Brighton & Hove Albion 1-3 Bunley

Ashley Barnes (Burnley) – 8.67/10

Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Leicester City

Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur) – 9.08/10

Manchester City 6-0 Chelsea

Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) – 10/10

Arsenal news: Ainsley Maitland-Niles sends individual apologies to fans on Instagram after performance against Huddersfield

10 Feb

Ainsley Maitland-Niles has spent time responding to fan comments on Instagram following Arsenal’s win over Huddersfield on Saturday.

The Gunners emerged 2-1 victors, but hardly left fans full of confidence with Maitland-Niles one of the most criticised.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles received harsh words from some of the Arsenal faithful

In an unusual move, the 21-year-old took to Instagram to address the issue just hours after the full time whistle.

Rather than posting a statement, Ainsley Maitland-Niles began responding to individual comments and apologising to his critics.

The right-midfielder/right-back wrote messages such as “Sorry, I’ll take it into consideration,” and, “I’ll try do better man,” to those who sent negative messages.

In the match itself, Alex Iwobi and Alexandre Lacazette scored first-half goals as Arsenal got their top-four hopes back on track with a 2-1 win at Huddersfield.

Iwobi opened the scoring with a deflected volley in the first period and Lacazette stroked home his 12th goal of the season shortly before half-time.

Sead Kolasinac’s own goal in stoppage time raised a huge cheer from the Huddersfield faithful, but it was too little too late.

The Gunners secured their first Premier League away win since November and kept their first clean sheet on the road this season as they moved level on points with Chelsea.

Hector Bellerin: Right-backs who could replace injured Arsenal ace, including Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Matteo Darmian

23 Jan

Arsenal‘s defensive woes shows no signs of subsiding with the club confirming Hector Bellerin is out for up to nine months after rupturing his cruciate ligament during their win over Chelsea last weekend.

He joins the likes of Rob Holding (ruptured anterior cruciate ligament) and Nacho Monreal (hamstring) on the treatment table and Unai Emery’s resources at the back are becoming somewhat stretched.

Bellerin was in obvious pain at the Emirates Stadium

So who could fill in for Bellerin? Below you can see the options available to Emery following the nasty injury to his first choice right-back.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Maitland-Niles is a midfielder but the 21-year-old has been finding his feet as a full-back in the senior set-up.

He’s made 14 appearances in all competitions this season and managed to score a goal during Arsenal’s 5-1 defeat at Liverpool last month.

Maitland-Niles rounded off a good Arsenal move to give them a brief lead over Liverpool

Maitland-Niles is a bit more athletic than his main rivals for the spot which could clinch it for him.

Stephan Lichtsteiner

But if Emery wants to go with experience then Lichtsteiner is your man.

He was signed last summer on a one-year deal after spending seven years at Italian giants Juventus.

Lichtsteiner brings a wealth of experience with him

Lichtsteiner is also a more natural right-back than Maitland-Niles and despite being 35-years-old, the Swiss captains his country and has 103 international caps.

Carl Jenkinson

Remember him? Jenkinson may not be highly regarded by the Arsenal boss but he is an option he can turn to.

The Londoner has been on loan three times since becoming a Gunner in 2011 – twice with West Ham and once with Birmingham.

Jenkinson in action during Arsenal’s FA Cup win over Blackpool earlier this month

Jenkinson has made five appearances for Arsenal this season but none of them have been in the Premier League so putting him in would be viewed as a last resort.

Change in formation

If Maitland-Niles, Lichtsteiner or even Jenkinson are not up to the job then Emery could always consider a formation switch.

A potential 3-5-2 with wing-backs could be a system Arsenal could adopt temporarily particularly, with Nacho Monreal’s ability to play centre-back, leaving Kolasinac at left-wing back and either Maitland-Niles or Lichtsteiner on the right.

Matteo Darmian

To make this clear, unsettled Manchester United full-back Matteo Darmian has not been linked with Arsenal.

However, despite reports suggesting the Italian is in “advanced talks” to sign for Juventus on loan, there’s no reason to suggest why the Gunners couldn’t hijack this move.

After all, Arsenal and United did business last January with the Henrikh Mkhitaryan/Alexis Sanchez swap deal and the north London club look like they could do with an experienced player at right-back.

Darmian has made six appearances for United this season

Academy players: Harry Clarke or Jordi Osei-Tutu

But the shortages at right-back could spell an opportunity for some of Arsenal’s academy players including Harry Clarke and Jordi Osei-Tutu.

Clarke, 17, signed his pro contract with the Gunners in July 2017 and has represented England at Under-17 level.

Meanwhile, Osei-Tutu, 20, has a bit more experience with the first-team as he was part of the squad that travelled to Ukraine for their Europa League clash against Vorskla Poltava in Kiev.

Arsenal starlet Ainsley Maitland-Niles out for up to eight weeks with broken leg

16 Aug

Arsenal youngster Ainsley Maitland-Niles is set for six to eight weeks on the sidelines with the broken leg, the club have confirmed.

The 20-year-old was a surprise starter in Unai Emery’s first Premier League game in charge of the Gunners on Sunday, against defending champions Manchester City.

He was given a hard time against Riyad Mahrez and Kyle Walker in the 2-0 home defeat, but his game was cut short before the break when he limped off with an injury.

And Arsenal have now confirmed the versatile starlet suffered a “small fracture” to his left fibula and will be out of action for up to two months.

It leaves Nacho Monreal as the only fit left-back available to Emery, with the Spaniard back in full training after his knee problem and likely to be fit for Saturday’s home clash against Chelsea.

Niles started in Arsenal’s Premier League opener against Man City, but is now set for a long layoff

The Gunners also gave an update on a number of their injured players, revealing they are hoping to have club captain Laurent Koscielny back in full training in November, as the French defender continues his recovery from an Achilles tendon injury which has kept him out since May.

Full-back Sead Kolasinac remains on the sidelines with a knee problem but is expected to return to training in October.

6. Laurent Koscielny (centre back) – click the arrow above, right, to see Arsenal’s line-up against Man City, in order of squad number
Koscielny is set to return to Arsenal training ahead of schedule in November

Arsenal have also revealed Carl Jenkinson has suffered a ‘significant sprain’ to his right ankle and is set for six to eight weeks out, meaning a move to ship the 26-year-old out on loan is now unlikely.