Smith Rowe and Tomiyasu return, Partey on the bench! Arsenal v Liverpool team news

63

Arsenal take on Liverpool this evening in the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final (first leg 0-0).

Here are the official line-ups.

Arsenal: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney, Lokonga, Odegaard, Smith Rowe, Saka, Martinelli, Lacazette

Subs: Hein, Holding, Alebiosu, Tavares, Partey, Patino, Salah-Eddine, Nketiah, Biereth

Liverpool:

Subs:

Follow the game on the Arseblog live blog

Reports: Leno linked with Newcastle, MLS keeper subject of Arsenal bid

It is January, the transfer wheels are turning, and the rumour mill is kicking into overdrive as we head towards the end of the window.

This evening, there are reports linking Bernd Leno with a move to Newcastle which, ordinarily, we’d dismiss, but they’re coupled with stories about a potential move for American stopper Matt Turner.

That Newcastle might have interest in the German is understandable, and that he might want to leave makes sense, having lost his place to Aaron Ramsdale. However, without any kind of experienced back-up, there’s no way the Gunners could sanction a deal this month.

Turner, a 27 year old US international with 13 caps to his name, currently plays for New England Revolution, having had previous spells with Richmond Kickers and Jersey Express, which sounds like a bus you get from the airport.

It’s hard to establish just how much there is to this. However, Arsenal have shown a willingness to let go of players who want to get minutes elsewhere, as the departures of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Pablo Mari and Sead Kolasinac have demonstrated this month.

Leno isn’t even the cup keeper, with Ramsdale preferred for last week’s Carabao Cup semi-final and he is expected to start the second leg against Liverpool tonight, so it wouldn’t be at all surprising if he wanted to go and play.

As such, we’ll give this one a slightly wary 6 on the Poo-O-Meter.

“I’m already back at it” – Auba breaks silence following AFCON return

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang says medical tests undertaken on his return to London from the African Cup of Nations have revealed no issues with his heart.

The Gabon football federation sent the striker back to London earlier this week after scans suggested the player, who’d tested positive for Covid-19 on arrival in Cameroon, was suffering from virus-related complications.

In the absence of their captain, who missed all three group games, Gabon qualified for the knockout stages. They face Burkina Faso on Sunday but the Arsenal striker isn’t expected to return to the competition.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (@auba)


Taking to social media on Thursday, Aubameyang wrote: “Hi guys, I came back to London to do some additional checks, and I’m very happy to say that my heart is absolutely fine and I’m completely healthy!! Really appreciate all the messages over the last few days and I’m already back at it.”

Aubameyang hasn’t played for the Gunners since the defeat to Everton in early December. Prior to heading off on international duty, he’d sat out eight games as punishment for a disciplinary breach. The player’s future at the club remains under a cloud and rumours continued to circulate that Arsenal could offload the player this month if an offer for Dusan Vlahovic is accepted.

Journalist James Benge reported yesterday that Saudi club Al Nassr are keen to take the 32-year-old on loan until the end of the season with a view to purchasing him for €8 million in the summer.

Arteta backs young Gunners to lead Arsenal to Wembley

Of the 20-man Arsenal squad that won the FA Cup final against Chelsea in August 2020 only five are likely to be involved in this evening’s Carabao Cup semi-final second leg with Liverpool. 

In the space of 18 months, serious surgery has been undertaken on the first team (seven players have left permanently and five are out on loan) leaving Mikel Arteta with a young and exciting group who are clearly hungry but have everything to prove. 

For many of them, a trip to Wembley in February would represent the first major final of their careers and a key stepping stone in their development. 

“I can sense that excitement when they are training and they are really looking forward to it,” said Arteta when asked what it would mean to beat Liverpool and reach the Carabao Cup final. 

“Many of them, the majority of them, have not experienced that. This is why you play football, it’s why you play for this club, to challenge for titles and to play in this kind of game and then go and win it because that’s the best memory you can have.”

After a tumultuous week that has seen the club accused of undermining the integrity of the Premier League – views dismissed out of hand by the manager – Arteta also made clear that his players are fully united and expects supporters to further galvanise them with vocal support at the Emirates. 

“I think we’re going to see that [unity] in the stadium because we have to defend ourselves and the best way to defend ourselves is to demonstrate who we are,” he noted. 

“That’s what we have to do and the best way to do it is on that pitch.”

__

Arsenal’s 2020 FA Cup-winning squad

Out: Martinez (Aston Villa), David Luiz (released), Ceballos (returned to Madrid), Sokratis (released), Willock (Newcastle), Kolasinac (released), Macey (released)

Loaned: Bellerin (Real Betis), Maitland-Niles (Roma), Torreira (Fiorentina), Nelson (PSV Eindhoven), Smith (Doncaster)

Retained: Holding, Tierney, Xhaka (banned), Pepe (at AFCON), Lacazette, Aubameyang (undertaking medical checks), Nketiah, Saka

Arsenal’s new-look U23 side taking shape

With the likes of Charlie Patino and Salah-Eddine having trained regularly with the first-team over the past few weeks, Arsenal U23s coach Kevin Betsy has had to call upon some members of the club’s U18 squad.

One player who has really stepped up is Marcelo Flores, with the Mexico international having scored after coming on as a substitute against Chelsea in the Papa John’s Trophy, while he also hit a brace against Bournemouth U23s this week. The creative midfielder has had to be patient for opportunities to impress at a higher level, but he is certainly taking his chances now.

Another player who has benefitted from others being with the first-team is Amario Cozier-Duberry. Capable of playing out wide or as an attacking midfielder, the 16-year-old has excellent close control and found the net shortly after his introduction as a substitute against Bournemouth.

After flitting between the U18s and U23s for some time, midfielder Jack Henry-Francis is now getting regular playing time for the older age group and has performed well.

In defence Zach Awe has relished receiving a regular run of games for the U23s after a lengthy spell out injured earlier in the season. The tall centre-back still makes some avoidable errors, but he is progressing in the right direction in terms of his overall development.

Right-back Reuell Walters, who can also play at centre-back in a three-man defence, is likely to get plenty of further chances for the U23s after Brooke Norton-Cuffy joined Lincoln City on loan for the rest of the season.

Striker Khayon Edwards, meanwhile, scored against West Ham United U23s but his future at Arsenal is still unresolved as he has yet to sign a professional contract despite the club having made him three offers.

Arsenal’s new-look U23 side is certainly very exciting, although how many opportunities some players get is likely to be heavily dependent on whether other youngsters go on loan.

Jeorge Bird is the author of www.arsenalyouth.wordpress.com Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird

 

 

 

 

Confirmed: Pablo Mari joins Udinese on loan

Udinese have confirmed the signing of Pablo Mari on loan for the rest of the season.

The 28-year-old centre-back heads to the Stadio Friuli in search of regular football having featured just three times for Arsenal this campaign.

The Spaniard had hoped to lay down roots at the Emirates when he signed from Flamengo in January 2020 but despite making his loan move permanent after six months, it looks as though his journeyman days aren’t over.

Udinese will be Pablo’s seventh club in the last six years and, after spells in Spain, Holland, Brazil and England, the fifth different country.

Fingers crossed it works out for him in Serie A.

Video: Arsenal 0-1 Manchester Utd Women – post-match reaction

These are worrying times as they slump to their fifth defeat in six matches with a late Manchester United goal more than enough to knock them out of the Continental League Cup.

Here’s Tim Stillman sharing his thoughts on Head Coach Jonas Eidevall’s approach to the match and perspective on the result, where improvements need to be made, whether opponents have got Arsenal all figured out, and Vivianne Miedema’s form.

Jonas Eidevall reacts to Manchester United defeat

27

Arsenal Women were eliminated from the Conti Cup with a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United at Meadow Park on Wednesday night with a late header from Alessia Russo. Jonas Eidevall spoke to the press post-natch, the first four questions are from Arseblog News.

On his assessment of the performance…
It was a big step in the right direction, we pressed much better than we have done lately and we were much better with the ball in the build up phase. We attacked much better in the penalty area, unfortunately we didn’t convert the chances we created so we couldn’t win the game. For me, I have a totally different feeling than I did from the Birmingham game because we were the better team today and if we played this game again like this I think we’d win it, that wasn’t the case against Birmingham so it was a step in the right direction even though we are disappointed not to get the result. If there is any competition I can take a loss it would be the Conti Cup so we move on and try to build on this performance.

On dominating territory but not creating many clear cut chances…
I think there were a lot of times when passes were going between the players legs and not resulting in a shot so we need to convert those situations into shots on target, if we do they are high percentage opportunities. It all starts with getting into the positions, if you don’t do that it’s impossible to score. Today we did that so we just need to work on the final touch or the final pass.

On United dominating from attacking set pieces and scoring their goal that way…
We have defended set pieces this season so far but I agree with you, there were too many times today where they made the first contact from corners and free kicks. They are a strong team on set pieces with good aerial threat. We are not happy to concede chances that way and to concede the goal that way and it was the difference today and we need to do better.

On the team mainly looking to create from wide but less so from central spaces…
I do think there are situations where we can do better there, today also. Especially in the second half when we could have held onto the ball a bit more, we got too transitional and the distances were too big. A team like United they work with a lot of their players central in the area and they overload there in defence. If they are not moving then we need to attack on the sides but we can get better at moving central when their players move to the sides and try to create opportunities from there. It’s that balance and decision making and we try to perfect that and in the second half, we could’ve held onto the ball a little bit better because United get tired and we don’t need to force the decision making so much, especially when it just results in wide crosses.

On arresting a run of five defeats in six games…
We need to work on our game, today was a big step in the right direction and that is where our focus needs to be even if it wasn’t the result we wanted. We need to attack the next game against Man City we know it’s going to be a tough game.

On debuts for Blackstenius and Wienroither…
Very good, it was difficult with the practice time they have had with us but they both worked very hard and made a positive impact. They can build on their performances.

On why Lotte Wubben Moy wasn’t involved…
She had a minor injury. The weekend is a question mark, we don’t know yet if she will be available. It’s not certain either way.

On preparing his team for Manchester City on Sunday…
We need to remember who we are and not get carried away with the result today because we could have so easily won. Sometimes it doesn’t go your way but the performance was much better from us.

On getting Leah Williamson and Tobin Heath back from the bench…
We knew the game could go into extra time tonight and that would have affected their loading in a not ideal way so we started them on the bench but it was excellent to have them back and it will help us a lot in the next games.

On where the important match ups were tonight…
I think we had two teams who tried to disrupt the build up in a fairly aggressive way and so the decision making from goalkeepers and defenders were very important in setting the attacks, our players were good in that tonight in setting structure. When your midfielders have to jump out and press either centrally or out wide that can create space to exploit but only if you do the first part well and it was the same for both teams.

On the importance of Leah Williamson to play through the press…
She is a great player because she has so many tools to play through these situations she can dribble her way out but she also has the passing range to get out. Because of that she is a hard player to press.

On Vivianne Miedema not getting service tonight…
Generally strikers have fewer touches because they play in the most dangerous position to score so most teams are compact in that area. It’s about finding her at the right time and that is always the case for a forward player, it’s about quality of actions. Of course we would like to always attack centrally and play into feet but that depends on how well you move the ball. We need to open up that space and sometimes that means going over to the sides. If we are good on the sides, they have to go out there and press and it opens up the centre. I think that’s just part of the game.

Arteta on postponement fallout, Covid rules, Auba and terminating contracts

In the second half of his pre-Liverpool press conference, Mikel Arteta was again pressed on the circumstances behind the north London derby postponement, as well as the reaction from Sp*rs. 

There were also questions about the Premier League’s Covid-19 rules, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s health, the decision to terminate Sead Kolasinac’s contract, squad depth and potential signings.

Here’s what he had to say…

On what team he’d have fielded if Arsenal had been forced to play Sp*rs…

The players that we had! But we didn’t have enough players to assemble a squad and this is why we didn’t play. 

On whether he had 11 players…

Maybe not even that. 

On the numbers available in training this week…

We’ve been struggling, we’ve been struggling all week with numbers and that’s a fact. It’s where we are but hopefully, for tomorrow, we can bring some people back, not in the best condition, because they haven’t trained for a long time, but with a team that hopefully, can take us into a final. 

On whether he’s been offended and hurt by accusations of bending the rules…

Not one bit because, I know why we’ve done it, how we’ve done it and we were very clear from the beginning that we wanted to play the game. When somebody is lying, you don’t really get offended. 

On who is lying…

Well, whoever is calling us something we are not or [saying we’re] trying to do something that is a lie. We have all the evidence you have to provide, all the evidence, individually, all the reports, all the MRIs, all the Covid cases that you have, you have to put in on the table and you have to explain it, they ask more questions, you go again and do it and we’ve done all the right things. 

On Sp*rs releasing a statement about their disappointment…

That’s nothing to do with me. 

On Sp*rs setting the precedent when they asked for their UEFA Conference League game with Rennes to be called off…

There are some rules to play a football match. When you cannot fulfil those rules, those numbers, the game is off. It’s as simple as that. 

On whether the rules should be discarded…

They can certainly be reviewed because things will be evolving in many different ways but we had a lot of conversations [between] the managers with the Premier League, the PFA, the FA and those changes have to happen because we cannot do it, to maintain doing the same thing and saying, “Yeah, maybe they need to be discussed.” They have been already discussed. It’s time to change them if everybody agrees that’s the best way to do it. 

On what he’d do…

Clarity from the beginning. And the decision we take is a collective objective, not an individual objective. When it comes to an individual objective then it becomes really tricky. 

On what he means…

The only intention has to be to have the best league in the best possible conditions and the league that has always had one intention and that’s to maintain the integrity of it. That’s it.

On what he means by ‘clarity’…

You need certain players to play a football match and if you don’t have it, whether it’s Covid or if they are sick or because they are away, if you have these three possibilities, the game is off. If it’s only for Covid, then we play a different game with different rules. That’s it, it’s very simple. When we are testing, when are we testing? Are we testing every day? Are we testing every day, twice a day on PCR, or lateral flows? What are we trying to achieve? If not, we can MRI all our players every day their whole body and then, I’m telling you, no player is going to play football, it’s guaranteed. Just bring clarity. What do you expect, what do you want? We want to play 38 games, in which context? In this context, it’s impossible, we’re not going to achieve it. We want to be fair in this context, we’re not going to achieve it because there are clubs that haven’t played four games, that’s not any fairness. Let’s not even discuss which players were available for what game, which player can be available if they sign them. But we accept to play within these rules, so let’s play. 

On whether, in hindsight, he should have pushed harder to get the early season games called off? 

I would push to play every single game if we’re all doing the same thing. Try to do it and find out what is the best strategy to play everybody, all the games in the best possible condition bearing in mind the health of the players is the most important thing. 

On whether he’s spoken to Auba…

The contact we had from the national team and what we’re trying to find out right now is about his health. This is the only priority we are looking to do. 

On how the striker is feeling…

He’s feeling good because he travelled and he’s in London but obviously we want to make sure that his health is in the best possible way. 

On Auba seeing specialists on top of the Arsenal medical team…

Yes. 

On Pablo Mari and Sead Kolasinac leaving, the latter having his contract terminated…

The contract situation we had with some of the players was putting the club in a really difficult position. The longer we leave them with months to finish their deals and with players that weren’t playing a lot of minutes, the situation was not ideal. Then there’s the interest of the player and the club to finalise things in the best possible way so everybody can terminate their obligation in the best possible way. 

On it not being a sustainable way to do transfers…

100 per cent. We don’t want to allow our players to terminate their contracts in the last year when they are not playing, 100 per cent. What we’re trying to build and the squad we’re trying to assemble is going to be looking completely different, hopefully. 

On having a thin squad with four players heading out on loan in January…

At the moment with the players that we have at AFCON, the injuries and the Covid cases, it’s extremely thin. But that’s why we have a plan as well to bring players in and to try to get the players that we want, with the right qualities, and to improve the squad in the best possible way, every single window. We have a lot of things to catch up, a lot of things, as you can see, contractually with many other players still. We’re carrying that weight. That’s not resolved in one window. 

On any progress on incomings…

Edu and the team are working extremely hard to try to get the players that we want. We’re on it but we have no news to give you. 

Schnaderbeck starts, Williamson, Heath, Blackstenius and Wienroither on bench

12

Arsenal Women have handed Viki Schnaderbeck a first start since November 2020 in tonight’s Conti Cup quarter-final against Manchester United. She partners Jen Beattie at the back.

Leah Williamson and Tobin Heath return from injury on the subs bench while new signings Stina Blackstenius and Laura Wienroither are also on the bench. Parris, Mead and Miedema make up the front three.

Line-up (4231); Zinsberger; Maritz, Beattie, Schnaderbeck, McCabe; Maanum, Little, Nobbs; Parris, Mead, Miedema. Subs: Stenson, Goldie, Williamson, Wienroither, Boye, Head, Heath, Blackstenius.