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Arteta: We’re still alive

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Mikel Arteta says Arsenal were knocked out of kilter by Villarreal’s early goal but his side’s second half performance, despite going down to 10 men, ensures we’re still alive heading into next week’s semi-final second leg.

The Gunners had a mountain to climb when we fell two goals behind before the half-hour mark but Nicolas Pepe’s penalty, not long after Dani Ceballos had been sent off, halved the deficit and ensures we take a precious away goal back to the Emirates.

Had substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang been a little more composed in stoppage time, Arteta’s side might even have snatched an unlikely draw.

After the way the game played out, the boss admitted he was inclined to accept the 2-1 scoreline.

“Obviously we are disappointed we lost the game because it is not the result that we wanted to take from it,” he told his post-game press conference.

“But after the story of the game we have to take it because we are in the tie, we are alive and, with the circumstances that developed during the game, it put the game and the tie in real danger at some stage.”

Arteta raised eyebrows when he fielded a team without a recognised striker but he said it was his players’ sluggish start rather than his tactics that had them on the back foot.

“It’s the way we prepared for the game,” said the boss. “It’s the decision that I made, thinking that it was the best way to play, but the game was conditioned after four minutes so it was difficult to assess whether it would work or not. Conceding from the set piece as well also changed it and after, we had to approach it in a different way.

He added: “I think the first goal was a big shock. It was almost the first action that they went over the halfway line and they scored a goal, and after that, we were touched, we didn’t expect it, we were touched, we didn’t quite react, and then we conceded the set-piece goal that’s obviously crucial in these ties, and then the team needed a break.

“After that break, we reset, we reorganised, we talked about a few things and then we were a different team in the second half.”

The Villarreal players were noticeably disappointed that they didn’t take their chance to kill off the game. They had several chances following Dani Ceballos’ red card but then lost momentum when Etienne Capoue was also sent off. By the full-time whistle, the Gunners left the field feeling much more confident about the task ahead.

Asked about the mood in the dressing room, Arteta said: “Well, comparing how it was at half time, it’s very different!

“But I said to them we have an opportunity, it’s a big challenge that we have ahead of us, but we have the opportunity to make it, but it has to be now. In the return leg it’s going to be too late, we have to change it right now. If we’re able to do that, we’re going to get here in a completely different position.

“We still had another incident which was the red card and playing with 10 men against this team, and the team went to a different level again and we got the goal.”

 

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📺 Miquel Azeez is Simply Outstanding, Watch As He Nutmegs 3 Defenders To Score A Goal

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Miquel Azeez Has Been Outstanding For Arsenal Un23 side this season, he continues his great run of form yesterday as score a man of the match goal to hand Arsenal Un23 side a victory in the final game of the season.

📺 Watch The Great Goal…

https://twitter.com/ArsenalAcademy/status/1392523112919486473?s=19

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Arsenal to agree deal with Italian head-coach

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Maurizio Sarri could reportedly be in line for a surprise return to Premier League with either Arsenal or Tottenham.

 

The Italian tactician has been out of work since being given the boot by the Serie A giants Juventus last August – in spite of guiding the Old Lady to their 36th Scudetto.

 

Sarri is understood to be eager to get back in the dugout next term, with Italian journalist Carlo Laudisa stating the 62-year-old could very well return to the English top-flight.

 

During an appearance on Radio Punto Nuovo, the Gazzetta dello Sport journalist said: “Sarri could go to England.

 

“The Tottenham solution being the most plausible, but the Arsenal bench could also become free, as [Mikel] Arteta has missed all the Gunners’ season goals.”

 

Carlo’s claim that Maurizio could return to England comes in spite of reports the veteran coach is against the idea of resuming his career abroad.

 

The former Napoli leader is reportedly concerned about upping sticks during the COVID-19 pandemic in case he is unable to return to his homeland.

 

He enjoyed success during his sole campaign in charge of Chelsea, guiding the Blues to UEFA Europa League glory with a 4-1 win over Arsenal in Baku.

 

If Sarri is indeed open to managing the Gunners, he’ll no doubt be keeping tabs on developments at the club over the coming weeks.

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Video Highlights, Full Match Analysis: Chelsea 0 – 1 Arsenal

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Emile Smith Rowe denied Chelsea the chance to cement their top-four status as he took advantage of Jorginho’s howler to give Arsenal a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues would have all but secured their Champions League qualification with a victory which would have taken them 10 points clear of Liverpool, who have four games left to play, but after making seven changes ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup final, struggled to create clear-cut chances.

Kai Havertz should have put them ahead 10 minutes in when he intercepted Gabriel’s loose pass for Pablo Mari and raced clean through, but then fired over Bernd Leno’s bar with only his compatriot to beat. Moments later Jorginho’s equally poor back-pass was kept out by Kepa Arrizabalaga at full stretch, but Smith Rowe was on hand to bundle home after being teed up by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Chelsea were dominant for the large majority of the remaining 75 minutes without forcing Leno into any uncomfortable saves until the final minute. They did beat him through Pulisic’s close-range header from a corner, which was swiftly denied by a VAR review, before the German produced a stunning stop to tip Kurt Zouma’s header onto the crossbar, which was then rattled by Olivier Giroud’s shot on the rebound.

Player Ratings

Chelsea: Kepa (6), James (6), Azpilicueta (6), Silva (6), Zouma (6), Chilwell (5), Jorginho (4), Gilmour (5), Pulisic (5), Mount (6), Havertz (5).

Subs: Hudson-Odoi (6), Giroud (6), Ziyech (5).

Arsenal: Leno (7), Gabriel (6), Mari (7), Holding (6), Tierney (7), Partey (6), Elneny (8), Saka (5), Odegaard (6), Smith Rowe (7), Aubameyang (5).

Subs: Bellerin (6), Lacazette (5), Chambers (6).

Man of the match: Mohamed Elneny

What the managers said…

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel told Sky Sports: “We had three days, we are on a good run, we had a good mood. The choices were not so good today from my side for the line-up so that’s on me. We were unlucky, of course. But we did everything today to lose.

“I’m not happy with my line-up. It’s easy to say afterwards. But it was too many changes, I should not have done it like this. It’s something in particular – but I will not tell you!”

 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta told Sky Sports: “I don’t know how they’re going to try from the outside but from the inside, nothing is broken.

“They’re going to put things on me that I never said, you can see the spirit of the team from the first minute. You can never doubt their efforts and how much they try.”

Match stats

  1. Arsenal completed their first Premier League double over Chelsea since the 2003-04 season, while this was their first league win at Stamford Bridge since October 2011, ending an eight-game winless run there (D2 L6).
  2. Chelsea suffered only their third defeat in 26 matches in all competitions under Thomas Tuchel (W17 D6), with all three defeats coming at Stamford Bridge.
  3. Arsenal have won three consecutive away Premier League matches without conceding for the first time since May 2013 under Arsène Wenger.
  4. Arsenal have had a different player aged younger than 21 score in each of their last three Premier League matches against Chelsea – Gabriel Martinelli in January 2020, Bukayo Saka in December 2020 and Emile Smith Rowe tonight.

What’s next?

Chelsea are off to Wembley in the FA Cup final on Saturday, where they will face Leicester City; Kick-off at 5.15pm.

Arsenal’s penultimate game of the season is also in London, with a trip to Crystal Palace next Wednesday night; Kick-off at 7pm.

📽️ Watch The Video Highlights:

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