EPL

Arteta impressed by Moyes as Arsenal attempt to chase down West Ham

By Sports Desk March 19, 2021

Mikel Arteta has warned West Ham will know "how to hurt" his Arsenal team when the London rivals clash in the Premier League on Sunday. 

The fifth-placed Hammers sit seven points ahead of Arteta's toiling mid-table Arsenal with 10 games of the season remaining for both teams, as David Moyes continues to work wonders. 

Arsenal's best hope of qualifying for next season appears to be through the Europa League, which offers a place in the elite competition to the winners, and Slavia Prague await them in the quarter-finals. 

West Ham, however, can get there on merit through the domestic league, and three points at the London Stadium this weekend would bolster their top-four chances. 

Arteta and Moyes were appointed by their respective clubs in December 2019, and few would have foreseen West Ham being a step ahead of the Gunners 15 months down the line. 

Looking ahead to their tussle, Arteta said: "We know we will have a really tough game, they've been in great form. They've been really consistent, they know really well what to do and how to hurt opponents. I know David really well and I am sure he will prepare the match so it is a really difficult game for us." 

Arteta was asked whether West Ham's form has come as a surprise, to which he replied: "Not really. I think they have a really strong squad and they have a great manager and coaching staff. 

"They started the season with some doubts, but I know what David is capable of doing. 

"He gets the group together, they're working really hard for each other, they've recruited really well and you can start to see the things that David has done. Obviously they have a little bit more time during the week to prepare football matches and training, and I think they've been in great form and they're a really dangerous team." 

Arsenal muddled their way past Olympiacos in the Europa League last-16 on Thursday, with a 1-0 home defeat meaning the Gunners scraped through 3-2 on aggregate. As Arteta pointed out, West Ham have no European commitments this season, but it could be a different story next term.

Why are Arsenal still trailing in West Ham's wake?

West Ham were already ahead of Arsenal at the turn of the year and it will worry Arteta that the gap has grown since, yet in many aspects the teams have performed on a similar level in the Premier League.

Since January 1, the Hammers have a goals for-and-against of 19-11 in the competition, while Arsenal's shows as 21-10, and the 13.38 per cent shot conversion rate for West Ham is more or less identical to Arsenal's own (13.04).

West Ham have created 20 'big chances', to 16 by Arsenal, and both sides have 50 per cent conversion rates when it comes to those opportunities, which are defined by Opta as being "where a player should reasonably be expected to score".

Arsenal are on a par with their xG (expected goals rate) of 18.2 from 158 shots in 2021, scoring 18 non-penalty goals, while West Ham have taken 18 fewer shots and are similarly closely tracking their xG of 17.5, also scoring 18 times excluding spot-kicks.

Perhaps telling when it comes to judging the difference between the teams is the toll that errors are taking on Arsenal.

In 12 Premier League games this year, West Ham players have collectively made three errors leading to shots, none of which resulted in a goal, but Arsenal have made seven such errors and have conceded three goals as a direct consequence.

The Gunners' 2021 haul of 21 points from 12 games (W6 D3 L3) is bettered by West Ham, who have 25 points (W8 D1 L3) over the same period.

Indeed, only Manchester City (45 points from 16 games), Manchester United (27 points/14 games) and Leicester City (27 points/13 games) have taken more points than West Ham since the turn of the year.

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    Timo Werner has rejoined RB Leipzig from Chelsea on a four-year contract.

    The Germany forward failed to live up to expectations since moving from Leipzig to Stamford Bridge for a fee of £47.5million (€50m) two years ago.

    Although reports suggested his return would initially be on loan with an option to buy, the Bundesliga club have instead secured him on a contract that expires in 2026.

    The 26-year-old scored just 10 Premier League goals in 56 appearances for the Blues, having arrived at the club with 95 goals for Leipzig between 2016 and 2020 to his name – that remains a club record.

    Werner was not included in Thomas Tuchel's squad for Chelsea's 1-0 win over Everton in their first game of the Premier League season, and he said farewell to the club in a social media post on Tuesday.

    Werner wrote: "Dear Blues, today marks the end of my journey with Chelsea FC.

    "I am incredibly grateful for the time I spent at this special club. At this point I would like to express my appreciation for my teammates, the coaches and staff, and especially for you, the special supporters of Chelsea Football Club.

    "I felt so much love and support throughout the last two years and I will never forget how you guys stood behind me in good and in challenging times!

    "We lifted trophies like the Champions League together and I will always remember the song you wrote and chanted for me. I'm already looking forward to hopefully playing at Stamford Bridge again one day! See you soon, Timo."

     

    Soon after, Leipzig confirmed the transfer had been completed.

    Their statement read: "Timo is back – and is now snapping again for RB Leipzig!

    "Our record goalscorer (95 goals) is returning to the Bundesliga after two years in the English Premier League with Chelsea and is again hunting for goals for the Red Bulls.

    "The attacker has signed a four-year contract until 2026."

    Despite Werner's failure to live up to the hype after his £47.5m (€50m) switch to Stamford Bridge two years ago, his tally of 23 goals in all competitions since he joined Chelsea is the joint-highest in the Blues' squad, alongside Kai Havertz, who also arrived from the Bundesliga in 2020.

    With 17 assists, Werner has directly contributed to 40 goals in his 89 appearances, putting him behind only Mason Mount (46 goal involvements in 108 games).

    Only Mount has had more shots than Werner (191) in the last two seasons for Chelsea, though the former Stuttgart star converted just 12 per cent of those efforts while missing 32 big chances (defined by Opta as an opportunity from which a player would be reasonably expected to score), showing his profligacy in front of goal.

    Werner scored 28 Bundesliga goals in his last season with Leipzig, outperforming his expected goals (xG) of 21.

  • Juventus-bound Kostic leaves Frankfurt a hero, says Glasner Juventus-bound Kostic leaves Frankfurt a hero, says Glasner

    Oliver Glasner is disappointed to see Filip Kostic leave Eintracht Frankfurt, but is happy that the Juventus-bound winger will leave the club a hero.

    Kostic looks set to have played his last match for Frankfurt, with the versatile winger having been left out of the Bundesliga side's squad to face Real Madrid in the Super Cup on Wednesday.

    Since he signed for Frankfurt from Hamburg in 2018, Kostic has played more games (167) and started more matches (161) than any other player for the club in all competitions.

    His 30 goals trails only Andre Silva (45) and Luka Jovic (31), while he is way clear in terms of assists (56) and chances created (420), with 269 of them coming from open play.

    Indeed, Kostic's tally of 1,702 passes played into the opposition's box, including crosses, is almost 1,300 more than second-best Daichi Kamada.

    Glasner knows Kostic, who has excelled as a wing-back, will be a huge miss as he explained why he feels the move is bittersweet.

    "Today it's as if I'm laughing and crying," Glasner told a news conference at Helsinki's Olympic Stadium. "Filip left his mark on our attack, it's never nice to lose such a player.

    "It definitely weakens us, but I also have this laugh, thinking about how the season started last year with Filip when he went on strike and didn't want to play.

    "I had a lot of conversations with him about playing 100 per cent for the team. I asked him that when he left Frankfurt, to please leave as a hero, and now he's leaving as a hero, he was the player of the year and he won the Europa League. I'm really happy for him, but yes it's sad [that he is leaving]."

     

    Glasner acknowledged he was surprised at how swiftly Kostic's move, which has been speculated on for weeks, transpired between Frankfurt's 6-1 defeat to Bayern Munich on Saturday and Wednesday's encounter with Champions League winners Madrid.

    As such, he suggested Frankfurt's system will not change for upcoming games, but that it may be open to tweaks over the coming weeks.

    "[On Monday] it became more and more clear that Filip could leave. You won't see a big system change [against Madrid] but it is possible we change things in the next weeks or months, that is the job of the coach, to find the best system," he added.

    "I didn't maybe expect it to be so quick. I had a feeling, even after the Bayern match, that he would play. Well, this dream was broken.

    "But every time someone leaves it's an opportunity and I prefer to see the opportunities, not what is missing. It will be an opportunity for other players. It's not like it's a complete shock, the club is prepared and the transfer window is still open."

    Goalkeeper Kevin Trapp echoed Glasner's sentiment, but was confident his team-mates have not been shaken by Kostic's departure.

    Trapp said: "The topic of Filip, we've had it every year at the beginning of the season. It's sad, Filip did something historic for the club, did a lot with the club, he's leaving as a hero who was a big part of this achievement.

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    Following a long piece in Vogue, Williams wrote of her plan to "move in a different direction" after "these next few weeks", suggesting the US Open – which begins in late August – will be her last outing.

    Thanks to her success and brilliance on the court, Williams has become synonymous with tennis and is regarded by many as the greatest the women's sport has ever seen.

    Yet, her seemingly imminent retirement cannot be seen as a shock. At the age of 40, Williams has persisted with tennis far longer than most do, and that is testament to her quality and enduring desire for success.

    With Williams now reaching the end, Stats Perform takes a look at the key facts, stats and figures of her career; in other words, Serena's remarkable legacy.

    Twenty-three… and counting?

    Of course, the headline fact for Williams' career is her grand slam titles count.

    She has won 23, which is more than anyone else in the Open era.

    But she's still got one target left: matching Margaret Court. The Australian's 24 grand slam successes include nine won before the Open era began in 1968, though her overall total has been the benchmark ever since she claimed her final crown at the US Open in 1975.

    Clearly, victory for Williams at Flushing Meadows would be the perfect farewell.

    The finals hurdle

    Even if Williams only reaches the championship match next month, she'll still be equalling a different record.

    Assuming she does compete in Queens, Williams heads into the US Open having played in 33 grand slam finals, one more than Martina Navratilova.

    But Chris Evert (34) sits out in front, and that record will remain hers for many, many years if Williams cannot reach the finale at Flushing Meadows.

    Top of the pile

    It's been a while now since Williams was last the highest-ranked player in the world, but in a way that only further highlights how remarkable her career has been.

    She's spent 319 weeks ranked as world number one, which is behind only Steffi Graf (377) and Navratilova (332).

    While many might have expected Williams to have been top of the pile for even longer, it's worth remembering how she's spent time out due to injuries and pregnancy, with her general involvement in top-level tennis decreasing after 2014 when she played 16 tournaments – in 2016 that halved to eight, and during no year since has she played in more.

    Additionally, some will also be surprised to learn she actually only finished the year as the top-ranked female player five times. Nevertheless, that's still third to only Graf (eight) and Navratilova (seven).

    Go hard or go home

    Such has been Williams' quality, she was always considered a threat regardless of the surface – she's won each grand slam at least three times.

    But there's no denying she was at her most lethal on hard courts.

    She has won 48 WTA Tour-level titles on hard courts, which is 11 more than anyone else (Graf) in the Open era.

    Those 48 come from a grand total of 73 across all surfaces, leaving her ranked fifth behind Navratilova (167), Evert (157), Graf (107) and Court (92).

    Surface to say…

    Williams' comfort on hard courts goes even further than that.

    She's won 539 matches on the surface, making her one of just two female players to surpass 500 victories on one specific ground type.

    Navratilova (600 on carpet) is the only other player to achieve the feat, with Serena's sister Venus (498 on hard) the closest to the 23-time grand slam champion.

    The grass is greener

    Despite that unrivalled excellence, hard courts may not be the surface many feel to be most synonymous with Williams, however.

    Wimbledon is the tournament that would appear to be her favourite.

    She's reached the final at SW19 11 times. Only Navratilova can better that record for the most finals at one tournament – though it's worth saying she contested the WTA Finals and Chicago 14 times each, Eastbourne 13 times and 12 at Wimbledon.

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