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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang question asked over Arsenal future amid Gunners’ struggles

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Arsenal have a problem stopping other teams taking shots against them this season and can’t rely on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang continually rescuing them in matches.

That is the view of former Liverpool and England striker, turned football pundit, Peter Crouch.

Arsenal have joined several clubs in the Premier League who have made an indifferent start to the season.

While they currently sit eighth in the table after five games, they are still only two points off second placed Manchester City who are on 10.

The Gunners success has been aided by goals from Aubameyang, who has six goals in six games for Arsenal in all competitions, however, it is the team’s defensive frailties that concerns Crouch.

He thinks a player of Aubameyang’s quality should be competing for trophies and is worried about the player’s future if the club keep relying on him to get them “out of hole” rather than helping them to win games.

“As things stand, [Arsenal] are miles away from being in the conversation for the title,” Crouch said via the Daily Mail.

“They have a chance of finishing in the top four this season, but you wouldn’t be in a hurry to put money on them and they look the most vulnerable in terms of losing their place in the top six.

“Yes, they are exciting and will score lots of goals but you wonder how Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will feel. 

“He’s genuinely world class and should be challenging for the biggest trophies but it can’t keep falling to him to get Arsenal out of a hole.”

After six games Arsenal’s opponents have taken 120 shots against them, of which 96 have come during Premier League games.

Although Arsenal beat Frankfurt 3-0 in the Europa League on Thursday the German side still managed to take 24 shots against the Gunners.

And while Frankfurt, who sit ninth in the Bundesliga, failed to capitalise on their opportunities, other teams have shown they can.

Last weekend Arsenal visited Vicarage Road to take on Watford and ended up coming away with a draw against a team who currently sit bottom of the table.

The Gunners took a 2-0 lead into the break, thanks to a brace from Aubameyang, however, a second-half comeback from the Hornets saw the points shared at the end of the game.

During the match Watford had 31 shots on goal, a new a club-record for a Premier League game, and Arsenal ended up succumbing to the pressure at the back as two defensive errors helped their opponents get back into the game.

And while Crouch doesn’t think Arsenal should part ways with boss Unai Emery, he thinks until the Gunners’ defensive problems are fixed they are going to struggle this season.

“When Emery first arrived in England, I backed him,” he added.

“I thought it was ridiculous that people wanted to criticise him after just one game (a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City) and said a coach with his track record deserved respect.

“I still believe he deserves a proper opportunity to turn things around.

Hiring and firing quickly is no way to run a club and I don’t think Arsenal would ever go down that route. 

“There is no denying, though, they are being compromised by the way they are playing. Until they stop the shots coming in, they will be vulnerable to shooting themselves in the foot.”

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Arsenal legend Ian Wright pinpoints the Unai Emery decision which ‘baffles’ him

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Arsenal legend Ian Wright is “baffled” by the lack of football played by Mesut Ozil so far this season.

Ozil has made just two appearances this term, starting the 2-2 Premier League draw with Watford and 5-0 Carabao Cup win over Nottingham Forest.

However, the German has not featured in head coach Unai Emery’s last three match day squads.

Emery has confirmed Ozil is not injured and his absence is purely down to selection.

Wright, though, wants to see the 31-year-old back in a Gunners shirt sooner or later.

The former striker claims even if Emery wants to sell Ozil in January, prospective clubs will want to have seen him in action recently.

“I want to see more offensive players on the pitch in positions where we’re going to be able to hurt teams,” Wright told Premier League Productions.

“I don’t know what’s happened with Ozil, I’m not sure that we as a club can afford to have a player of that calibre, paying what they’re paying him, which is always going to be mentioned, not even in the squad, not even there at all.

“Because if that’s the case then what’s he doing to that asset?

“Is he going to go in January? Is that what he’s trying to say to us?

“Because for me he should be playing, he should be involved and even if he doesn’t like him, for whatever reason, you’ve got to play him if you want to get rid of him simply because you want people to see that he’s still a quality player. So that one baffles me.”

Arsenal are back in Premier League action next Monday when they visit promoted side Sheffield United.

The Gunners are currently third in the table, eight games into the season, having won half their matches.

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Arsenal ace Eddie Nketiah backed to end Leeds United loan deal early

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Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah has been backed by Darren Bent to look for a move elsewhere in January after struggling to nail down a spot during his loan spell at Leeds United.

Nketiah joined Championship side Leeds on a season-long loan from Arsenal during the summer transfer window.

He has scored four goals in his nine appearances under Marcelo Bielsa but is yet to start a league game.

And Bent does not want the 20-year-old to fall by the wayside like Saido Berahino did.

“[Nketiah] needs to be playing games,” Bent said on talkSPORT.

“We’ve seen for England Under-21s, we’ve seen over the years to be fair, a lot of strikers, you look at Saido Berahino, you look at his England Under-21 record, it’s as good as anyone’s, he couldn’t nail it down in the league.

“I think for Eddie Nketiah, he’s not playing at Leeds because [Patrick] Bamford’s in the way of him at the minute, and to be fair to Bamford he works extremely hard, and I think that’s the inly thing that’s keeping him in the team at the minute.

“Bielsa likes a hard-working side, he certainly puts defenders under pressure, shuts people down.

“But for someone like Nketiah and Arsenal Football Club, Arsenal are probably looking at this situation and saying ‘listen, we really believe in this kid but he needs to be playing games’.

“At the minute he’s got an impossible task trying to move [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang and [Alexandre] Lacazette but he’s never going to get the opportunity to do that if he’s not playing games.

“So I think he may in January have a look at going somewhere else.”

Nketiah scored a hat-trick for the England Under-21s in the 5-1 win over Austria on Wednesday and he impressed former Spurs striker Bent.

“The first one was instinctive, the cross comes in, someone knocks it down, he was just in the right place at the right time, swivels, puts it in,” Bent added.

“The second one a header, again gets himself in the six-yard box between the centre-halves, no one really picks him up, comes in, great header into the far corner.

“And the last one was arguably my favourite, which is a tap in.”

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Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder says his team are confident as they prepare to host Gunners

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‘We fancy our chances and we are bullish’: Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder says his team are confident ahead of Arsenal test as they prepare to welcome Gunners to Bramall Lane

  • Sheffield United take on third-placed Arsenal at home on Monday night
  • The Blades have won twice and lost three as the promoted side look to stay up 
  • Unai Emery’s Arsenal have won four games and lost just once and sit in third
  • Chris Wilder says he believes his players can get something from the game  

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has promised his players will be full of confidence going into Monday night’s home clash with Arsenal.

The Blades have made a decent to the Premier League season and are 13th having picked up nine points from eight games, with two wins and a point away at Chelsea.

While Arsenal are sitting in third place, just a point behind second-placed Manchester City, Wilder believes his side can come away with a result after narrowly losing to leaders Liverpool in their last home game.

Chris Wilder's men took a point away at Chelsea and narrowly lost to league leaders Liverpool

Chris Wilder’s men took a point away at Chelsea and narrowly lost to league leaders Liverpool

‘Arsenal are an historic, iconic club and it is another brilliant fixture for us as a football club,’ he said.

‘I thought we played well against Liverpool but we need to pick up something from the game this time and we believe we can do that. We went after Liverpool when we could and picked our times, and we will do that against Arsenal.

‘We are competitive and we fancy our chances and we are bullish. At the same time, however, understanding the threat and pace and power that Arsenal have in the top end of the pitch – we must respect that.’ 

The Blades will make their return to Premier League action in front of the television cameras on Monday night, giving boss Chris Wilder extra time to finalise his plans following the international break.

The Blades are hopeful of making an impact in the league this season after being promoted

The Blades are hopeful of making an impact in the league this season after being promoted

The Blades are hopeful of making an impact in the league this season after being promoted

Injured trio John Fleck, Oli McBurnie and David McGoldrick will be given every opportunity to prove their fitness ahead of the game. McGoldrick missed Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2020 qualifiers with the groin injury, while fellow striker McBurnie pulled out of the Scotland squad with a knee problem.

Meanwhile, midfielder Fleck made his Scotland debut in the defeat in Russia before also withdrawing from the squad through injury ahead of the win against San Marino.

Wilder said: ‘We’ll give them as much time as possible. They are important players for us so we will give them enough time and opportunities to be available for Monday night. 

‘We can’t take risks on them and take a big gamble of sticking them out there, that wouldn’t be fair on the fit players either.’ 

Arsenal will provide a stern test at Bramall Lane, with Unai Emery's side unbeaten since August

Arsenal will provide a stern test at Bramall Lane, with Unai Emery's side unbeaten since August

Arsenal will provide a stern test at Bramall Lane, with Unai Emery’s side unbeaten since August

Goalkeeper Dean Henderson has already returned fit and well from England duty and Wilder is hoping Republic of Ireland trio Enda Stevens, John Egan and Callum Robinson do likewise.

He said: ‘The international boys will be back in today, so fingers crossed that they come back healthy – and early indications are that they are okay.

‘We’ve talked about how proud we are that a few of our boys are involved on the international scene now and a couple of them had tough games last night for the Republic (of Ireland).

‘We want as much time to prepare as possible and playing on the Monday night does give us an extra couple of days to do that, which we need when we are coming up against a side as tough as Arsenal.’ 



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