Emery planning for different United

Arsenal boss Unai Emery expects a different test from Manchester United when the pair meet on Friday in the FA Cup.

The duo played out a 2-2 draw in the Premier League at the start of December, a game in which the Gunners held sway for most of the match, only to be ground down by the Red Devils.

Since then it has been all change at Old Trafford, with Jose Mourinho leaving the club and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer being installed until the end of the season.

The Norwegian has won all seven of his games in charge and the expansive manner in which he has set up his team has been in stark contrast to Mourinho.

A victory at the Emirates would further boost calls for him to get the job permanently and the Red Devils are 7/4 to win, with the draw 5/2 and the Gunners 7/5.

Emery himself seems to have weathered a storm and will have been pleased by his side's showing in Saturday's 2-0 win over Chelsea.

Winning the FA Cup would certainly buy him credit with the fans and the Gunners are 12/1 to lift the trophy.

The Spaniard knows they will need to repeat that performance to get the better of United, a team he admits are a different animal in comparison to last month's meeting.

"It's a different team," he said. "It's the same players but they're playing with a big performance now. I was watching their last matches and each player has a lot of confidence, with big performances, and now they are very dangerous.

"For us, it's good because it's a very big test for us in this competition."

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Bellerin’s worst fears realised

Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin could miss the start of next season after scans confirmed he has ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament.

The defender, who was carried off on a stretcher in the 72nd minute of the Gunners' 2-0 win against Chelsea on Saturday, is expected to be out for between six and nine months.

However, Unai Emery is not expected to sign a new right-back this month even though Bellerin has suffered a similar injury to team-mate Rob Holding.

Either Ainsley Maitland-Niles or Stephan Lichtsteiner are expected to deputise for Bellerin in the right-back or wing-back position.

In addition, Emery may decide to keep Carl Jenkinson, who had been linked with a transfer this month, until the summer.

Bellerin had been making his first start on Saturday since 16th December because of a calf problem. However, he fell to the pitch with nobody around him in the closing stage at Emirates Stadium.

Meanwhile, Aaron Ramsey's transfer to Juventus is expected to be confirmed this week.

Emery said of the 28-year-old Wales international, who will move to Turin in the summer: "We spoke about the circumstance with Ramsey three months ago and now the decision is finished for him and for the club.

"Yes, of course, his future is very important for his family but it is also very important for him to be OK to play for us like he did against Chelsea. I am very happy with him because in the last month his focus has been very clear."

Arsenal, 7/2 to finish in the top four of the Premier League this season, are 14/1 to beat Manchester United 2-0 in the FA Cup on Friday.

Emery fears Bellerin absence

Arsenal fear that right-back Hector Bellerin is facing a lengthy period out of action after he suffered a knee injury in the 2-0 win over Chelsea on Saturday.

The Spain international fell to the floor holding his left knee 18 minutes from time at the Emirates Stadium, before being stretchered from the field to be replaced by Mohamed Elneny.

And after the victory head coach Unai Emery was downbeat about the immediate future for Bellerin, telling reporters: "We are going to wait until Sunday. It is his knee and the first prediction maybe it can be an important injury.

"Tomorrow we will speak with the doctor. I hope not, but it is not very positive, our first impression.

"We have Ainsley (Maitland-Niles). He can help us by playing like a right-back or a right winger. Also, (Stephan) Lichtsteiner is another player for playing there and I think we have players.

"I don't forget (Carl) Jenkinson because he is with us, he played some matches and if we need him, he is okay to help us."

The win for the Gunners on Saturday moved them to within three points of Chelsea, who currently occupy the fourth and final Champions League qualification spot, with Manchester United level on points with Arsenal after winning six consecutive league games.

Arsenal can be backed at 10/3 to finish in the top four come the end of the season, with Chelsea priced at 1/2 and United available at 6/4.

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Sarri blasts Blues mentality

Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri admitted to huge concerns about the mentality of his team after they suffered a 2-0 defeat to top-four rivals Arsenal.

The Blues are still in fourth place in the Premier League standings, but both the Gunners and a resurgent Manchester United are just three points behind the Blues, with Sarri warning that he expects a lot more from his squad.

He told reporters: "The fact of the matter is it appears this group of players are extremely difficult to motivate.

"It seems to me that, as a group of players, they're not particularly aggressive from a mental point of view. They don't have that ferocity in their mentality.

"It's something that is difficult to change. You have to try and influence their mentality and it could take quite a long time.

"By the same token, it could be changed with a new player coming in, or by one of the old heads in the team assuming more responsibility and driving the rest of the team forward."

Chelsea are back in action on Thursday evening when they host Tottenham Hotspur in the second leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final, with Spurs holding a 1-0 advantage from the first leg of the tie.

The Blues can be backed at 7/1 to win the Stamford Bridge clash 2-0 in 90 minutes and are 21/20 to reach the Wembley final, with Chelsea 5/1 to go all the way and lift the Carabao Cup this season.

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Momentum key for Solskjaer

Interim Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is eager to keep the momentum going at Old Trafford, following seven consecutive victories under his charge.

The former Red Devils striker has quickly got United back on track and a top-four finish in the Premier League is now a very realistic target, with the club also still involved in the Champions League and the FA Cup.

Following a hard-fought 2-1 home win over Brighton, Solskjaer told his club's official website: "If we keep this momentum going, the train keeps rolling and we get loads of points on board, hopefully, that will take us up the table.

"The gaffer (Sir Alex Ferguson) used to challenge us at times – why can't you go and win 10 games on the bounce? As long as you take each game at a time, prepare well going into it, then every game is a winnable one.

"I have to say the players have to be proud of the form and momentum. It's seven games on the bounce now and wins create confidence.

"I don't think you can ever get calm at Manchester United, because you always look for the improvement, to get better, and we know that we can play better than we did today."

Next up for United is a Friday evening trip to the Emirates Stadium to take on Arsenal in an FA Cup fourth round showdown.

Earlier this season the league meeting of the two sides at Old Trafford ended in a 2-2 draw.

United are 17/10 to win in 90 minutes on Friday and are 11/1 to claim a 1-0 victory, with the Red Devils 8/1 to lift the FA Cup this season.

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Premier League: Could This Be the Derby of Hellos and Goodbyes?

Arsenal vs Chelsea

They are London’s most successful Premier League clubs.

Both fancy themselves as the biggest, too: Arsenal have won 13 league titles and 13 FA Cups, while Chelsea are the only British club to have bagged all three European trophies. It’s swings and roundabouts. As such, they don’t get on very well.

Don’t just take my word for it – read this article from Scott Murray.

What it all means is there is a rarely a dull duel when they clash, as they will at the Emirates Stadium this weekend.

Talking Points

Ironically, the player from either side who has been most talked about this week is unlikely to even feature.

Petr Cech this week announced he’s to retire in the summer after a career in which he has won every major honour with Chelsea and Arsenal.

An exemplary professional, he will take his place on the Gunners bench in this top-flight clash after failing to regain his place since sustaining an injury in September.

With or without Cech, Arsenal certainly need to bounce back after going down 1-0 to West Ham last weekend and facing the prospect of slipping to sixth place in the table before this match kicks off.

Boss Unai Emery should have a near full-strength squad to choose from.

Hector Bellerin was only deemed fit enough for the final 21 minutes of last weekend’s defeat at West Ham after recovering from a calf problem but is likely to return to the starting line-up.

Whether German midfielder Mesut Ozil does – he has no fitness concerns but has been left out of late – remains to be seen.

The Gunners have suffered a serious drop in form since a 23-game unbeaten run ended with a 3-2 defeat to Southampton last month. Indeed, they have collected just seven points from a possible 15 which may lead to a recall for the mercurial Ozil.

Chelsea looking forward to sign striker Gonzalo Higuain to improve their Premier League performance

AC Milan’s Gonzalo Higuain reacts after the match against Juventus

The big news for Chelsea and potentially one of the big Premier League 2019 news stories is whether or not they can complete the signing of  Gonzalo Higuain in time so he can make his debut.

It’s reported a deal has been agreed with Juventus to sign the Argentina international on loan for the rest of the season, which will pave the way for Alvaro Morata to leave for Atletico Madrid.

If it does happen, however, I only expect Higuain to be on the bench.

With Higuain possibly starting a career in England and Cech about to finish his (this could well be the final meeting he’ll be involved in between the two clubs he has graced over the past 14 years), this clash could be about both hellos and goodbyes.

History

When these sides met in the second week of the season, it was a thriller.

Chelsea edged the contest 3-2, thanks to a late winner from Marcos Alonso.

It was a match which fully displayed both sides’ strengths and weaknesses and was yet another chapter in the long-established rivalry.

Arsenal went on a long unbeaten run which only just recently ended after that defeat, and they will be looking to continue their recent good home record against the west Londoners.

That August success for Chelsea was their only triumph in the last seven meetings.

At the Emirates last season, a late Bellerin goal rescued a point for the Gunners, who then beat Chelsea 2-1 at the same venue three weeks later to reach the League Cup Final.

Add in a goalless draw in last season’s league encounter at Stamford Bridge and Arsenal victories over Chelsea in the 2017 FA Cup Final and Community Shield, it’s easy to see who has had the edge in recent years.

Arsenal have won 76 of their meetings over the years, with 63 Chelsea victories and 57 draws.

Betting Tip

??
Arsenal vs Chelsea Total Goal 4-6 @ 2.87
January 20, 01:30 (GMT+8)

us odds reflect the league table really so it’s no surprise Chelsea start as slight favourites.

The Asian Handicap us betting odds offer an attractive deal for Chelsea –0.50 @ 2.38, while Arsenal are priced 0.00 @ 2.25.

1X2 odds also lean towards the visitors with Chelsea @ 2.38, Arsenal @ 2.89 and the draw at an appealing @ 3.30.

The best Double Chance deal is Arsenal or draw @ 1.53 which shows you just how close this game is expected to be.

As for a repeat of the match earlier in the season and a 3-2 home victory, that would pay out @ 225.00.

What’s the betting on it being a goalless draw now!

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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Emery offers Ozil a lifeline

Arsenal head coach Unai Emery is hopeful that playmaker Mesut Ozil is set to return after injury and show the Gunners what he is truly capable of.

The 30-year-old Germany international has been out of action since Boxing Day – amid talk of a possible January exit from the Emirates Stadium – with Ozil having struggled to impress since Emery took charge last summer.

However, ahead of a Saturday showdown with Chelsea, Emery has offered hope that his player could be back in the fold and given an opportunity to prove his doubters wrong.

The Spaniard told reporters: "I am not thinking about that (him leaving). I am thinking about how he can help us. He has helped us sometimes this year with good performances and others not good.

"After these two weeks working, maybe he can be okay for us. What is most important is how he can help us.

"He has injuries, where sometimes he is okay, sometimes not okay. I want every player to be okay for every match and he is the same.

"He didn't play the last game, but this Saturday he could possibly be with us. Now he is training consistently."

Ozil has scored three goals in 13 Premier League appearances so far this season, with his overall Gunners tally standing at 41 goals in 212 outings in all competitions.

Arsenal are priced at 2/1 to defeat Chelsea on Saturday, with the draw available at 5/2, while a 1-1 final scoreline is a 6/1 shot.

Earlier this season the Blues won the Stamford Bridge meeting of the two teams 3-2, with Marcos Alonso netting the winner nine minutes from time.

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Cech looking to go out on a high

Keeper Petr Cech says he is looking to go out on a high by winning a trophy at Arsenal this season, after confirming he will retire at the end of the campaign.

The 36-year-old enjoyed 11 years at Chelsea, where he managed to win 13 trophies with the Blues, before joining London rivals Arsenal in 2015.

Cech has also managed to win the FA Cup with the Gunners and the former Czech Republic international is hoping to lift just one more piece of silverware this season, with the north Londoners competing in the FA Cup and Europa League.

He wrote on Twitter: "This is my 20th season is a professional player and it has been 20 years since I signed my first professional contract, so it feels like the right time to announce that I will retire at the end of this season.

"Having played 15 years in the Premier League, and won every single trophy possible, I feel like I have achieved everything I set out to achieve.

"I will continue to work hard at Arsenal to hopefully win one more trophy this season, then I'm looking forward to seeing what life holds for me off the pitch."

Arsenal are 12/1 to win the FA Cup and 6/1 to win the Europa League.

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Emery reveals top-four doubts

Unai Emery claims it will be "difficult" for Arsenal to secure a top-four finish in the Premier League this season.

The Gunners boss was hoping to use his first season at the helm to inspire the north Londoners to Champions League qualification after his predecessor Arsene Wenger failed in his final two campaigns at the Emirates Stadium.

Emery seemed on course to achieve his target when he guided Arsenal to a 22-match unbeaten run during the first half of the season.

However, the wheels have come off of late with Saturday's 1-0 defeat at West Ham their third loss in the last six Premier League games, which also included a 5-1 thumping at leaders Liverpool.

Arsenal now sit six points adrift of Chelsea in fourth spot ahead of a crucial home game against their London rivals next week.

A win is a neccessity for the Gunners, but Emery is doubtful even that would be enough for them to finish in the top four on current form.

When asked about their chances, the Spanish tactician said: "Now it's more difficult, it's clear.

"I think the most important thing for us is to recover our confidence and be more competitive. We need consistency over 38 matches.

"Now it isn't enough at the moment. West Ham was a bad result. If we can win we are playing against Chelsea with a three-point maximum distance.

"The big opportunity for us was that we can take in our hands the possibility to be closer to them. This result makes that more difficult."

Arsenal, who are 11/2 to finish in the top four, are 19/10 to defeat Chelsea on Saturday evening, while the Blues are priced at 13/10 to win with the draw 5/2.

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Emery stands by Ozil omission

Unai Emery says Mesut Ozil did not deserve to be in his squad for Arsenal's clash at West Ham on Saturday.

The ex-Germany international was a surprise omission from the matchday squad for the encounter at the London Stadium, despite being passed fit earlier in the week having recently been sidelined by a knee injury.

It is not the first time Emery has decided not to select Ozil, either for the starting line-up or the squad entirely, although the only previous occasion on which he was left out for tactical reasons was the clash at Bournemouth in November.

Having found it tough to create many openings against a well-drilled West Ham side, questions were asked post-match as to why the club's best-paid players was absent from the party.

Emery, who stuck with the same team that beat Fulham in their last Premier League game, says he didn't feel Ozil was worthy of a place in the squad based on training and his previous performances.

"I decided the idea of the players that I think are the best for this match," he said, following the 1-0 loss.

"We win with him, we lose with him. I think it is not one player [which means] we can't win or lose.

"Today the players who were here are the players who deserved to be in this match. We could've won or lost.

"We continue working with every player because they are all important, but today the decision was to come with these players."

The defeat to West Ham, coupled with Chelsea's win later in the day, leaves Arsenal six points off the top four and Emery admits it was a costly mistake.

"I think the result is a bad one. We lost a great opportunity to take three points and get closer to Chelsea and the other top-four teams," said Emery. "But we lost. We wanted to do a better match but we couldn’t control the match like we wanted to."

Arsenal play host to Chelsea next Saturday and are 15/8 to get back to winning ways, while the Blues are 13/10 and the draw 5/2.

The Gunners are 11/2 to finish in the top four.

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