The Title Defence Begins! Three Players Who Can Help Manchester City

Manchester City now have their eyes on creating history after winning the 2017-18 Premier League title. However, with all their rivals improving and bolstering their own rosters, Pep Guardiola knows they can’t stay the same as last season.

The Sky Blues have already added Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez in their ranks, but their summer work is far from over as Guardiola still has some weaknesses to address on his team to ensure they can compete in the Champions League and defend their title—something which the club has never done before.

Not to mention that City have to find possible replacements for Yaya Toure (released), as well as for Vincent Kompany and Fernandinho who are entering the twilight of their respective careers.

With that said, here are three players that Manchester City should sign this summer. We also named possible alternatives should they fail to ink the said prospects.

Benjamin Pavard (VfB Stuttgart)

Alternative signing: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur)

At 22 years old, Pavard is exactly the player Manchester City need in order to compete all while going young.

The French centre-back is often described as the perfect replacement for Kompany, who often frustrated Guardiola due to his injury history. Kompany made just 17 appearances for the club last season after sustaining numerous injuries, including a calf injury in August last year that sidelined him for almost three months.

Football News: Benjamin Pavard included on the list that will boost Manchester City to victory next season

France’s Benjamin Pavard celebrates after hitting an equaliser for Les Bleus against Argentina in World Cup 2018 round of 16

Pavard has been pivotal for France in the World Cup, even scoring the equaliser as Les Bleus battled back from a goal down to take down Argentina in the Round of 16. It shouldn’t also be forgotten that he started every game for Stuttgart and was one of the main defensive anchors of the team that finished seventh in the Bundesliga last season.

Oh, and have I mentioned that Stuttgart conceded the second-fewest goals last campaign, only behind eventual champions Bayern Munich?

He is undoubtedly a young and exciting talent that should fit well at Manchester City with his ability to even move to a defensive midfield role.

Manchester City have already expressed their intention of signing Pavard and luring him to the Premier League. Nonetheless, according to the latest football news, the likes of Bayern Munich and Tottenham are also plotting a move for the France World Cup star.

Should City fail to get Pavard, however, Guardiola should take a look at Alderweireld who is already expected to leave Tottenham. Sure enough, Alderweireld is 29 years old and isn’t really an upgrade to Kompany, but having another proven veteran should be a valuable addition to a team looking for a title repeat.

Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid)

Alternative signing: Miralem Pjanic (Juventus)

With the Jorginho deal falling apart, Manchester City now have their eyes on Real Madrid’s Kovacic.

Again, City are in dire need of a defensive midfielder, and the 24-year-old Kovacic is a prime candidate for the post.

Despite not regularly featuring for Croatia in the World Cup, he has impressed in the games he played in. Kovacic was unarguably the best player in their group stage game against Iceland and, in fact, completed all of his 79 passes in 80 minutes of action.

Additionally, he even managed to provide an assist for Ivan Rakitic in their 3-0 rout of Argentina despite coming in as an 82nd-minute substitute.

Kovacic has been struggling at Real Madrid, making only 37 starts in his three seasons at the Bernabeu. And certainly, he could use a fresh start somewhere else.

“I understand the situation, but because of that I believe the best thing for me would be to go to another club where I’d have the opportunity to play regularly as a starter,” Kovacic told Marca last month.

Los Blancos, though, are asking £80 million for the midfielder, a hefty price tag that may turn off Guardiola’s side.

Another option for City is Juventus ace Pjanic who can play several positions at midfield, though his price is another matter.

Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

Alternative signing: Thomas Lemar (Monaco)

Hazard is a long, long shot for Manchester City, but getting the Chelsea man will surely shift the Premier League betting odds back in their favour.

Manchester City have shown interest on the Belgian last May, and that should have only increased by now after Hazard’s spectacular showing in the World Cup that saw him lead Belgium to a third-place finish.

Football News: Eden Hazard is believed to be a big help in Manchester City next Premier League season

Eden Hazard in action during Belgium’s third place playoff match against England in the 2018 World Cup

Hazard is quick, strong and a threat on the counter—game-changing qualities that City need to compete not only in the Premier League but also in Europe.

The Sky Blues could face strong competition from Real Madrid for Hazard’s service, and it’s unlikely Chelsea will be willing to make their English rivals stronger.

Thomas Lemar seems the more realistic option for Manchester City. The versatile Monaco forward is only 22 years old but has already appeared in 107 games and scored 22 goals for the Ligue 1 side.

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The Title Defence Begins! Three Players Who Can Help Manchester City

Manchester City now have their eyes on creating history after winning the 2017-18 Premier League title. However, with all their rivals improving and bolstering their own rosters, Pep Guardiola knows they can’t stay the same as last season.

The Sky Blues have already added Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez in their ranks, but their summer work is far from over as Guardiola still has some weaknesses to address on his team to ensure they can compete in the Champions League and defend their title—something which the club has never done before.

Not to mention that City have to find possible replacements for Yaya Toure (released), as well as for Vincent Kompany and Fernandinho who are entering the twilight of their respective careers.

With that said, here are three players that Manchester City should sign this summer. We also named possible alternatives should they fail to ink the said prospects.

Benjamin Pavard (VfB Stuttgart)

Alternative signing: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur)

At 22 years old, Pavard is exactly the player Manchester City need in order to compete all while going young.

The French centre-back is often described as the perfect replacement for Kompany, who often frustrated Guardiola due to his injury history. Kompany made just 17 appearances for the club last season after sustaining numerous injuries, including a calf injury in August last year that sidelined him for almost three months.

Football News: Benjamin Pavard included on the list that will boost Manchester City to victory next season

France’s Benjamin Pavard celebrates after hitting an equaliser for Les Bleus against Argentina in World Cup 2018 round of 16

Pavard has been pivotal for France in the World Cup, even scoring the equaliser as Les Bleus battled back from a goal down to take down Argentina in the Round of 16. It shouldn’t also be forgotten that he started every game for Stuttgart and was one of the main defensive anchors of the team that finished seventh in the Bundesliga last season.

Oh, and have I mentioned that Stuttgart conceded the second-fewest goals last campaign, only behind eventual champions Bayern Munich?

He is undoubtedly a young and exciting talent that should fit well at Manchester City with his ability to even move to a defensive midfield role.

Manchester City have already expressed their intention of signing Pavard and luring him to the Premier League. Nonetheless, according to the latest football news, the likes of Bayern Munich and Tottenham are also plotting a move for the France World Cup star.

Should City fail to get Pavard, however, Guardiola should take a look at Alderweireld who is already expected to leave Tottenham. Sure enough, Alderweireld is 29 years old and isn’t really an upgrade to Kompany, but having another proven veteran should be a valuable addition to a team looking for a title repeat.

Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid)

Alternative signing: Miralem Pjanic (Juventus)

With the Jorginho deal falling apart, Manchester City now have their eyes on Real Madrid’s Kovacic.

Again, City are in dire need of a defensive midfielder, and the 24-year-old Kovacic is a prime candidate for the post.

Despite not regularly featuring for Croatia in the World Cup, he has impressed in the games he played in. Kovacic was unarguably the best player in their group stage game against Iceland and, in fact, completed all of his 79 passes in 80 minutes of action.

Additionally, he even managed to provide an assist for Ivan Rakitic in their 3-0 rout of Argentina despite coming in as an 82nd-minute substitute.

Kovacic has been struggling at Real Madrid, making only 37 starts in his three seasons at the Bernabeu. And certainly, he could use a fresh start somewhere else.

“I understand the situation, but because of that I believe the best thing for me would be to go to another club where I’d have the opportunity to play regularly as a starter,” Kovacic told Marca last month.

Los Blancos, though, are asking £80 million for the midfielder, a hefty price tag that may turn off Guardiola’s side.

Another option for City is Juventus ace Pjanic who can play several positions at midfield, though his price is another matter.

Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

Alternative signing: Thomas Lemar (Monaco)

Hazard is a long, long shot for Manchester City, but getting the Chelsea man will surely shift the Premier League betting odds back in their favour.

Manchester City have shown interest on the Belgian last May, and that should have only increased by now after Hazard’s spectacular showing in the World Cup that saw him lead Belgium to a third-place finish.

Football News: Eden Hazard is believed to be a big help in Manchester City next Premier League season

Eden Hazard in action during Belgium’s third place playoff match against England in the 2018 World Cup

Hazard is quick, strong and a threat on the counter—game-changing qualities that City need to compete not only in the Premier League but also in Europe.

The Sky Blues could face strong competition from Real Madrid for Hazard’s service, and it’s unlikely Chelsea will be willing to make their English rivals stronger.

Thomas Lemar seems the more realistic option for Manchester City. The versatile Monaco forward is only 22 years old but has already appeared in 107 games and scored 22 goals for the Ligue 1 side.

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Mahrez aiming to do better

Forward Riyad Mahrez believes he can develop his game further at Manchester City, having completed a big-money move from Premier League rivals Leicester City.

The 27-year-old Algeria international has signed a five-year contract with the Citizens, with a fee in the region of £60million reportedly involved in ensuring the deal was right for both clubs.

And Mahrez, who spent four-and-half years with the Foxes, helping them to Premier League glory in 2015/16, is excited about having finally secured his move to the Etihad Stadium, having seen a possible deal fall through at the end of the January transfer window.

He told his new club's official website: "I am so pleased to have joined City, a side playing great football under (coach) Pep Guardiola.

"Watching them from afar has been a pleasure. Pep is committed to playing attacking football, which is a perfect for me and City's performances last season were outstanding.

"They are redefining the English game and I wanted to be a part of it. I think we can be successful over the coming years and I believe my own game can develop."

Mahrez scored 48 goals in 179 appearances for Leicester in all competitions, with 17 of those strikes coming during the season the Foxes powered to an amazing league title success in May 2016.

Last season Man City romped to the Premier League by a massive 19-point margin, becoming the first side to accrue 100 points in a 38-game top-flight programme.

The Citizens are 4/7 to retain their league crown next season and are available at 11/2 to triumph in the Champions League.

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So Can Salah Now Become a Modern Day Great?

He could prove to be the signing of the season.

Not the club record £60 million that Manchester City have parted with to sign Riyad Mahrez—six months after they first wanted him.

Nor the £99.2 million Juventus have splashed to acquire Cristiano Ronaldo, the world number one even if he does turn 34 next birthday.

I am talking about the double Premier League footballer of the year, the king of Egypt Mohamed Salah, who has signed a new contract at Liverpool after his majestic first year there.

It was a campaign which saw him become the first African player to win the honour and incredibly become the first player to score 32 goals in a 38-match Premier League season.

The Premier League betting odds on him now leading Liverpool to their holy grail—a first league title since 1990—are high.

Indeed, many pundits have placed the Merseysiders as second favourites for the Premier League behind last season’s dominant force, Manchester City, who set numerous records on the way to the title.

He clearly was not fit for Egypt in the World Cup, understandably so given his club season ended in heartache with a shoulder injury in the Champions League Final.

Mohamed Salah ready to prove the Premier League betting odds that he's back to help Liverpool

Mohamed Salah leaves the pitch during the Champions League final match between Liverpool and Real Madrid

However, all football highlights will certainly feature Salah prominently in a month’s time when the new season begins in earnest.

No wonder after he was so instrumental in Liverpool’s run to the showpiece final and fourth place in the Premier League with a prolific scoring record which attracted the attention of Europe’s elite.

Yet, after such a stellar season when he won every individual accolade that put even the sensational Kevin de Bruyne in the shade, there is now a weight of expectation on Mo Salah and Liverpool.

Harry Kane has already challenged Salah to repeat his exploits after the England captain was pipped to the Premier League golden boot honour.

Thirty goals in a 38-game league campaign was Kane’s best ever return, though still not enough to earn the top-scorer prize for the third year in a row after tallies of 25 and 29 in the previous seasons.

There is certainly no suggestion Salah will be a one-season wonder, nor that he will leave Liverpool.

The club is in a position of strength in three ways.

First of all, Salah admits he loves the club and wants to win silverware by staying where he is, not by moving to another heavyweight club.

His commitment to the club will be music to the ears of all Liverpool fans, their manager Jurgen Klopp and teammates.

Secondly, Liverpool do not need to sell the player after their massive January windfall following the departure of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona.

Yes, they have recruited Virgil van Dijk, Naby Keita and Fabinho since then and more recruits are expected. However, money does not seem to be an issue for a club which is back in the Champions League next season.

Thirdly, Salah’s new five-year deal does not include a release clause which so many players and agents now insist upon.

Any potential suitor would have to pay an extortionate fee for the Egyptian who forms part of a potent attacking trio.

Roberto Firmino also signed a contract extension in April and Sadio Mane is tipped to follow suit.

Klopp, who insists world-class talent “has a place” at Anfield, perhaps best sums up the approach to the game—an attribute money can’t buy—when he says: “The key thing to remember is the best thing about Mo is that he never sees himself as being more important than the team or anyone else within it.”

“He recognises his teammates and this club helped him achieve individual success last season. He sees the individual awards come because he is part of something bigger that is special.”

“Mo reflects where we are as a team, I think. Last season was special with many special moments—but we want more. We want to be more successful and achieve more together – as the supporters sang so loudly, ‘we’re never gonna stop’. This has to be the attitude individually and collectively.”

So can he repeat or come close to repeating his success or will he find Premier League life more difficult now he is less of an unknown quantity?

From August 11 onwards, we will find out.

One thing is certain.

Moments of exhilarating brilliance that he displayed last season cannot be sustained over nine months unless you have world-class attributes.

Now they have been proven, can he take the next step and join the pantheon of modern day greats by doing it again and again and, crucially, winning silverware?

 

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Premier League Betting Tips: Look out for Big Summer Moves

Pep Guardiola has already received the welcome news that Manchester City’s owners are ready to invest again: Sheik Mansour has so enjoyed his first ten years at the Etihad helm, he’s ready to make the next ten even better!

And that sends shock waves through the rest of the Premier League, which has watched the Sky Blues sweep all before them this season to amass a whopping 100 points. So it’s time to spend and to spend wisely.

Most of the transfer action may come after World Cup 2018. But the biggest clubs like to get their business done early, so we may see some progress over the next couple of weeks. The top betting tips for the EPL 2019 winners will take a close look at which teams recruit well, and which hold on to their prize assets. You need to do both.

If Manchester City want to keep a player they will, and so all eyes are on who Pep will bring in during the summer break. Last year, he spent over £200m and he’s been offered a similar budget this time around. He’s ready to start with a combined £120m swoop for Napoli midfielder Jorginho, who is set to hold talks with his club next week, and Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez.

Mahrez wanted to join Manchester City in the January transfer window, seriously falling out with the Foxes. But after Leicester had dug their heels in, the mercurial attacker eventually stopped sulking and put a shift in over the rest of the season. He desperately wants Champions league football, and this could be his time.

Over the road, Manchester United are making noises in the direction of Shakhtar where Brazilian striker Fred looks set to exit, and Jose Mourinho would like to move this on before the World Cup.

Meanwhile, Bayern hotshot Robert Lewandowski is looking forward to Russia World Cup 2018 where Poland has an excellent chance of advancing from Group H. But his agent has been touting the Bundesliga top scorer around Europe’s top clubs, including Real Madrid, PSG and Chelsea, and the Red Devils are reported to have an interest too.

Chelsea’s unsettled striker Alvaro Morata has been in Italy, having talks with Milan or even Juventus. If he is to go, then Lewandowski would be a superb replacement. Milan have also been showing an interest in Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini, but Jose will want to line up a replacement for his physical midfielder.

Former Old Trafford faithful Wayne Rooney may finally be making the move abroad and is having talks with DC United.

There’s plenty of interest in Liverpool for a challenge to Manchester City, and Jurgen Klopp knows he probably already has the best attacking team. So he’s looking to build from the back and could be set to land young Milan keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Can Unai Emery satisfy betting odds in managing Arsenal

Unai Emery in his last match with the PSG team

Managerial Merry-Go-Round

It’s always better to change your manager at the end of the season rather than four games into the next one; but I guess, this time around, Crystal Palace won’t be sacking Roy Hodgson any time soon.

Arsene has left Arsenal, and David Moyes and Big Sam Allardyce have been thanked for steadying the ships at West Ham and Everton by being shown the door. Nice.

So in comes Unai Emery, Manuel Pellegrini and probably Marco Silva. The first two can start their dealing straight away while the Toffees land their man.

New Arsenal boss Emery has some buying to do but may lose Danny Welbeck if there’s any truth in a rumour he could be on his way to Besiktas. In the meantime, he has his sights set on Nice midfielder Jean Michel Seri. The French star has a £35m release clause. And he may go back to Paris to pick up Adrian Rabiot, while sounding out Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

The two Davids, Gold and Sullivan, have promised new Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini a war chest of up to £75m, and he may be interested in Salomon Rondon if the Venezuelan striker activates his £16.5m release clause at relegated West Brom. But his first signing could be Chelsea keeper Willy Caballero.

Robert Lewandowski is focusing on leading POland to World Cup 2018

Robert Lewandowski and Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema challenge for the ball during the Champions League semifinal second leg

Spending to Survive

Gone are the days when spending millions was the sole privilege of the very top teams or a club with a wealthy benefactor happy to spend his fortune to give his favourite team a sneaky edge. These days, the multi-billion pound global television rights give the smallest of clubs a chance if they can stay in the top flight for more than one season.

And you need to spend to survive, not a few million, but nearer to £50m to steer clear of the drop. That alone doesn’t guarantee success and survival, but doing it on a shoestring is the work of super-humans.

Newcastle United rallied brilliantly to pull away from trouble, and they will hope to progress with Rafa Benitez still at the club. They have targeted Espanyol defender David Lopez but could face stiff competition from Spurs.

Brighton, too, did well to survive a first season at the top, and Chris Hughton knows he needs to improve his squad. Deportivo La Coruna striker Florin Andone could be heading to Brighton in a £5m deal following Depor’s relegation and the imminent departure of Clarence Seedorf.

Keep watching. The wallets are about to open and the money starts flowing.

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Sanchez frustrated with his form

Chile international Alexis Sanchez has admitted that he has not found it easy to adapt to life at Manchester United following his transfer from Arsenal.

Sanchez, who moved to Old Trafford in January, has struggled to cope with Jose Mourinho's preferred style of play and was a peripheral figure on Saturday as United were beaten 1-0 by Chelsea in the FA Cup final.

The 29-year-old has managed to score only three goals in 18 appearances for Mourinho's side, who are 6/1 to win the 2018/19 Premier League title and 1/3 to finish in the top four.

"I think that in every game I have played in I have maybe found it hard to adapt to the style of play and I have been getting to know my team-mates," said Sanchez.

"I also had some great players alongside me at Barcelona, some highly experienced guys who had great quality. I think that United are not too dissimilar as a club to them in their size and stature. However, I believe we need to improve in all aspects."

United finished second in the Premier League table but were 19 points behind champions Manchester City, 8/13 to win the title again next season.

"We need to be focused and concentrated in the big games and the same in the so-called lesser games too," Sanchez added. "I want to try and keep improving so we can see the club winning trophies."

Pep inks City extension

Pep Guardiola has signed a new three-year contract extension that ties him to Manchester City until 2021.

The Spaniard had only one year left to run on his previous deal which he signed upon arrival from Bayern Munich in June 2016.

The newly crowned Premier League champions have not wasted any time securing the long-term future of the former Barcelona boss.

The new deal could take Guardiola's total reign at City to five years – one more than his stint at the Nou Camp.

Guardiola ended his second season in English football having won the Carabao Cup and the Premier League title, with a record points haul. His first year at City had ended without silverware.

The contract extension means his deal with City is the longest commitment Guardiola has made to a club since starting his managerial career in 2008, and he says he is very excited to be hanging around at the Etihad Stadium.

"I am so happy and excited. It's a pleasure to work here," he said.

"I enjoy working with our players every day and we will try to do our best together in the coming years. As a manager, you have to feel good to be with the players – and I feel good."

Man City are 4/6 to retain their title in next season's Premier League, with neighbours Man United 6/1 and Liverpool now 5/1.

Guardiola is eager to keep improving City's fortunes.

"I will focus on the desire of my players to become a better team and every day that's what I will try to do – to improve on the pitch and improve our players," added Guardiola.

"We have a young squad with an average age of 23 and we want to keep taking steps forward and maintain the levels we've achieved this season."

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Pep the best in the world – Kompany

Pep Guardiola has been dubbed the best manager in world football by Vincent Kompany following Manchester City's record-breaking title triumph.

The Citizens blitzed all before them in their march to Guardiola's first Premier League crown, becoming the first side to reach the 100-point mark while also setting a new record for goals scored having notched 106 times.

Guardiola has enjoyed success wherever he has worked having won a plethora of trophies during his stints at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

The Spaniard was expected to hit the ground running when he made the move to the Etihad Stadium last season but found the going tough, finishing without a trophy as he ended the campaign in third.

Kompany admits it has taken Guardiola a bit of time to get to grips with English football but believes his ability to adapt and conquer proves he is the top coach on the planet.

Kompany told Sky Sports: "We had a good season last season but these things take time.

"Pep got the backing he needed to get the players he wanted and we were really receptive to what he had to say.

"Ultimately I think he's the best manager in the world and with good players, he did great things."

City are 4/6 to regain their title next season with Liverpool, who Guardiola has tipped to be his team's main rivals next term are 5/1.

Local rivals and this season's runners-up Manchester United are 6/1.

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Ederson pledges future to City

Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson hopes he can continue to shine for the club after signing a new long-term deal with the Premier League champions.

The 24-year-old is now committed to City until 2025.

Ederson, who joined City last summer, kept 21 clean sheets during the season.

"I'm delighted to sign my new contract," the Brazil international told the club's official website.

"It means that the club is happy with my work, they trust me, and I hope to meet their expectations on the pitch and bring a lot of joy to the fans."

City have set numerous Premier League record this season after ending their campaign with a last-gasp victory at Southampton.

Pep Guardiola's team finished a record 19 points clear of second-placed Manchester United, 4/5 to beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday.

City finished the campaign with a record 100 points and won 32 of their 38 Premier League matches.

They scored 106 goals and also set a new record with 16 away wins and 50 away points in the season. They put together a sequence of 18 consecutive victories earlier in the campaign and finished the season with a goal difference of +79.

Manchester City are 4/6 to win the 2018/19 Premier League title and 40/1 to go through the campaign unbeaten.

City complete century at the death

Pep Guardiola believes his Manchester City side have set a record that will stand for a long time by bringing up a century of Premier League points.

The Citizens appeared destined to be denied on the final day of a remarkable season, only for Kevin De Bruyne to pick out Gabriel Jesus right at the death to score the only goal of the game at Southampton.

And Guardiola was delighted by his players having refused to stop pushing until the final whistle of a campaign which has seen them claim the Premier League title by a massive 19-point margin.

The Spaniard told reporters: "Nothing changed, but then of course we scored in the last second.

"When you go to 100 points it's something special for all clubs. I think it's a record that will stay for a long time.

"We did (what we did) all season – no surrender, not give up. Today was such a difficult game, they defended so well, they are so strong physically.

"The second half was much better and at the end it was an excellent pass from Kevin and finish from Gabriel."

City are now priced at 4/6 to win the Premier League title again next season, with Manchester United 6/1 and Liverpool 5/1.

Elsewhere, Liverpool confirmed a top-four finish by thumping Brighton 4-0 at Anfield, with Mohamed Salah scoring to set a new Premier League record of 32 goals in a 38-game season.

The Reds end in fourth, with Tottenham Hotspur third and Manchester United in second, while at the wrong end of the table, Swansea City's relegation was confirmed as they lost 2-1 at home to already relegated Stoke City.

Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger's final game in charge of Arsenal ended in a 1-0 victory at Huddersfield Town, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring the only goal of the game to take his tally to ten in 13 league games since his January arrival from Borussia Dortmund.

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