Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang thanked fans for their support after explaining he had missed recent matches after his mother took ill.

The forward sat out consecutive trips to Southampton - a 1-0 FA Cup defeat and a 3-1 Premier League win - with what the club described as "personal issues".

Manager Mikel Arteta had admitted he was unsure when the Gabon international would be able to return, with the Gunners now preparing for league games against Manchester United and Wolves over the next six days.

Aubameyang suggested he could be back soon as he confirmed his mother was recovering.

"Thank you so much for all the messages and calls over the last few days," he wrote on social media on Wednesday.

"My mother is going through some health issues and I had to be there for her. She's already much better now and I will be back home tonight. I'm more than grateful to the doctors and nurses helping her get through this.

"And of course, thanks to my Arsenal fam for the love yesterday! I'm more determined than ever to keep our momentum going!

"Thank you all again – I really am beyond blessed to receive this level of support and love from all of you and I can't wait to be back."

Team-mates Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette dedicated goals in Tuesday's win at Southampton to Aubameyang, who has scored five times in 17 league games this season.

The Gunners' win moved them into eighth place in the league, five points behind West Ham in fourth, although many of the surrounding sides in the table have games in hand.

Arsenal have completed the signing of Real Madrid midfielder Martin Odegaard on loan for the rest of the season.

Odegaard, who joined Madrid aged only 16, excelled on loan at Real Sociedad last season, scoring seven times in all competitions.

The 22-year-old topped La Real's squad for chances created in LaLiga, crafting 62 opportunities in total and provided six assists from 31 appearances, while also boasting an impressive passing accuracy of 84.74 per cent.

Madrid cut short Odegaard's two-season loan in the Basque country, but the playmaker has struggled to force his way into the first-team picture under Zinedine Zidane, making just seven appearances and starting only three matches.

Odegaard will now get an opportunity to show what he is capable of with the Gunners, who lured the Norway international to London after Mesut Ozil’s departure to Fenerbahce.

The switch represents Odegaard's fourth loan move away from Madrid, with the youngster having also spent time at Heerenveen and Vitesse in the Eredivisie prior to his spell at La Real.

"It's great that we've secured Martin to come to us until the end of the season," said Arteta.

"Martin is of course a player that we all know very well and although still young, he has been playing at the top level for a while. Martin will provide us with quality offensive options and we're all excited to be integrating him into our plans between now and May."

Arsenal technical director Edu added: "I would like to thank everyone at Real Madrid and Martin's representatives for their collaboration in making this loan move happen.

"Martin is an exceptional talent and we are strengthening our squad by introducing an exciting offensive player to the club for the remaining months of this season."

 

WHAT WILL ODEGAARD BRING TO ARSENAL?

Odegaard's creativity was key in an impressive 2019-20 season which saw La Real reach the Copa del Rey final, which they have not yet played.

No Arsenal player came close to replicating Odegaard's influence last term, with Nicolas Pepe (40) creating the most chances in the Premier League for the Gunners – 22 fewer than Odegaard from the same amount of games played.

Odegaard made 504 successful passes into the final third, dwarfing the leader in that category for Arsenal (Granit Xhaka, 378).

He also played 239 passes into the opposition area, 99 more than Pepe, who attempted the most for Arsenal.

With Mikel Arteta currently employing a 4-2-3-1 system, Odegaard is likely to be battling it out with the impressive Emile Smith Rowe for a place in the side.

From six league appearances this season, Smith Rowe has created 10 opportunities and one big chance, registering three assists, though he is yet to get off the mark in the top flight.

Martin Odegaard's Real Madrid career was being set up to fail right from the start, when he joined the club just over a month after his 16th birthday back in January 2015.

The fact he remains their player six years on is testament to the Norwegian's talent, persistence and level-headed attitude, as his first couple of years at the club seemingly had people willing him to fade into obscurity.

From unnecessary speculation relating to his wages and exaggerated suggestions that his presence threatened the future of Madrid's academy, to murmurings that his arrival upset the harmony of Real Madrid Castilla's squad – life wasn't made easy for him early on.

For the most part he has managed to keep his career on track and has shown why he was so highly rated as a 15-year-old bursting on to the scene at Stromsgodset, impressing in a series of loan spells, but Odegaard now has another challenge in front of him.

He joins Arsenal on loan for the rest of the season in a move that will surely shape the next major step he takes in his career, whether that is kicking on at Real Madrid or moving elsewhere permanently.

While first-team football has been difficult to come by at Madrid this term, it's easy to see why Arsenal made their move for the attacking midfielder.

A REAL GEM

If there are any Arsenal fans questioning why they have moved for a player who has made just three starts for a – let's be frank – unspectacular Madrid side this season, it's worth recalling the amount of talent Zinedine Zidane has struggled to incorporate and subsequently discarded in recent years.

Marcos Llorente, Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Reguilon, Theo Hernandez, James Rodriguez – you could potentially even add Isco to that list in the not-too-distant future. All are fine players generally thriving elsewhere, but Zidane was seemingly unconvinced by them.

Injuries haven't helped Odegaard's cause this term, but his form with Real Sociedad on loan last season demonstrated just how impressive he is when given consistent opportunities – and it was revealed in July that he had been suffering with a chronic knee issue for most of 2019-20.

The 22-year-old created 62 chances in LaLiga last term, a tally only beaten by five other players, one of which was predictably Lionel Messi. 

 

That gave him a key pass frequency just under 0.5 every 90 minutes, which again ranked very highly among players with more than 30 chances created – six had better records, though his 6.8 xA (expected assists) rating was third only to Messi and Jesus Navas.

He also offers a great threat from set-pieces, with 27 of his key passes coming from dead-ball situations. This is an area Arsenal have struggled, as their 20 chances created from set plays is the fourth-fewest in the Premier League this term.

Odegaard was a major catalyst for La Real's largely impressive campaign, as they reached the Copa del Rey final – which is still due to be contested later this year – and finished sixth in LaLiga.

Arsenal fans will hope he can have a similar impact in the second half of the 2020-21 season, particularly given their lack of creativity at times this term.

WHERE WILL HE STRENGTHEN ARSENAL?

At La Real, Odegaard was often deployed from the right side of the attack in a 4-3-3, but given he is most comfortable on his left foot, he would routinely cut inside and wreak havoc in the middle.

 

While he spent more time on the right flank, with 38.3 per cent of his touches occurring in the right third of the pitch between the halfway line and the edge of the opposing area, much of his best work was carried out more centrally.

Indeed, 31.1 per cent of his key passes and assists came from the middle third of the pitch just outside the box.

 

Arsenal have been much less active centrally and on the right flank, with just under 12 per cent of their assists and chances created stemming from play in the middle of the attacking half. They aren't much more effective on the right, which will likely not come as a surprise to Gunners fans given the largely underwhelming form of Willian and Nicolas Pepe.

 

Odegaard's display in the September 2019 defeat at Sevilla was something of a microcosm of much of what he was good at last season, with his late assist for Portu seeing him come in off the right and play a disguised pass into the right side of the box for his team-mate to finish. Earlier on, he had taken up possession in a central area and sliced open the Sevilla backline only for Willian Jose to skew wide.

In both situations he showed great poise, a trait he has combined with his wonderful ability on the ball, as demonstrated by the fact he played 19 key passes after ball carries – Messi (30) had the most and was one of only five players to better the Norwegian in this area.

 

THE RISK OF SHORT-TERM LOANS

The addition of Odegaard will add some welcome creativity to Mikel Arteta's squad, the Gunners having managed 23 goals from 230 attempts (excluding penalties) - slightly below their 25.2 xG - so far in what has been a topsy-turvy 2020-21 season. 

Arsenal players have collectively created 26 Opta-defined "big chances", well adrift of the league-high 43 recorded by Manchester City in 2020-21. While this only includes shots that have been specifically assisted by a pass, it does highlight a creative deficiency.

 

Emile Smith Rowe has impressed of late, contributing three assists in open play, but no individual has created more chances for them in the Premier League than Bukayo Saka, his total of 23 putting him one above Kieran Tierney. It is clear they need greater threat in central areas, and Odegaard should offer that.

But, while he is undoubtedly a fine talent, Arsenal fans should be wary and patient – Odegaard hasn't featured regularly this season so cannot be expected to be sharp, and this move is another instance of upheaval in a fairly short period of time after leaving La Real for a return to Madrid. It would unfair to assume he will find his stride immediately.

Short-term loans in the second half of a season are often risky and Odegaard will likely take a little while to get up to speed. If he adapts quickly, his arrival could be a masterstroke – but if he doesn't it could be a wasted few months for both parties.

Arsenal will hope he's not another Denis Suarez.

Martin Odegaard says "top manager" Mikel Arteta played a "crucial" role in his decision to join Arsenal on loan for the rest of the season. 

Odegaard sealed another temporary exit from Real Madrid on Wednesday and will now showcase his talents in the Premier League for the first time. 

The 22-year-old attacking midfielder revealed Arteta convinced him a switch to north London was the right option at this stage of his career, having featured sparingly for Madrid this term.

"I spoke to him before coming here, of course," Odegaard told Arsenal.com. "That was very important for me and he seems like a top manager and I liked his ideas, the way he sees football and also the way he is.  

"He gave me a great feeling and that was important for me to come here. He was crucial. 

"I think every time you go to a new place, you want to make sure that it feels good and that there is a plan. But I think everything here just seems good.  

"I like the club and I always liked the way that the club wants to play. Everything about the club and now how the manager wants to play, I think it's a club that really suits me well. So I think it's a good match."

Odegaard thrived during his time on loan with Real Sociedad last season, scoring seven times in all competitions and providing six assists.

He created 62 opportunities in the Spanish top flight, more than any of his team-mates, while also recording a passing accuracy of 84.74 per cent. 

Madrid cut short Odegaard's planned two-year loan at La Real, but the playmaker is on the move again after struggling for playing time in Zinedine Zidane's side.

Arsenal have completed the signing of Real Madrid midfielder Martin Odegaard on loan for the rest of the season.

Odegaard, who joined Madrid aged only 16, excelled on loan at Real Sociedad last season, scoring seven times in all competitions.

The 22-year-old topped La Real's squad for chances created in LaLiga, crafting 62 opportunities in total and provided six assists from 31 appearances, while also boasting an impressive passing accuracy of 84.74 per cent.

Madrid cut short Odegaard's two-season loan in the Basque country, but the playmaker has struggled to force his way into the first-team picture under Zinedine Zidane, making just seven appearances and starting only three matches.

Odegaard will now get an opportunity to show what he is capable of with the Gunners, who lured the Norway international to London after Mesut Ozil’s departure to Fenerbahce.

The switch represents Odegaard's fourth loan move away from Madrid, with the youngster having also spent time at Heerenveen and Vitesse in the Eredivisie prior to his spell at La Real.

 

WHAT WILL ODEGAARD BRING TO ARSENAL?

Odegaard's creativity was key in an impressive 2019-20 season which saw La Real reach the Copa del Rey final, which they have not yet played.

No Arsenal player came close to replicating Odegaard's influence last term, with Nicolas Pepe (40) creating the most chances in the Premier League for the Gunners – 22 fewer than Odegaard from the same amount of games played.

Odegaard made 504 successful passes into the final third, dwarfing the leader in that category for Arsenal (Granit Xhaka, 378).

He also played 239 passes into the opposition area, 99 more than Pepe, who attempted the most for Arsenal.

With Mikel Arteta currently employing a 4-2-3-1 system, Odegaard is likely to be battling it out with the impressive Emile Smith Rowe for a place in the side.

From five league appearances this season, Smith Rowe has created 10 opportunities and one big chance, registering three assists, though he is yet to get off the mark in the top flight.

Real Madrid would be better off signing Erling Haaland before Kylian Mbappe, according to Jorge Valdano. 

Since making his debut for Borussia Dortmund on January 18 of last year, Haaland has scored 37 goals in as many appearances in all competitions. The only players to have found the back of the net more in the same time frame are Cristiano Ronaldo (41) and Robert Lewandowski (51). 

The Norwegian's minutes-per-goal ratio of 77 is only bettered by Luis Muriel (57.7) among players from the top five European leagues to have scored at least 20 times in all competitions since his arrival at Dortmund. 

Over the same period, Mbappe has averaged a goal every 114 minutes for Paris Saint-Germain. However, he has only been involved in four fewer goals than Haaland (42 – 37 scored, five assisted) having scored 25 and set up another 13. 

Still, it is Mbappe who is reportedly the top target for Madrid, with his PSG contract set to expire at the end of next season. 

Former Madrid player, coach and sporting director Valdano would prioritise Haaland instead, however. 

"I would sign Haaland before Mbappe. He moves in small and large spaces, he scores with great regularity," Valdano told Onda Cero. 

"Understanding that Mbappe is a star, I am very impressed with Haaland. He scores goals of all types."

Madrid will need to improve their financial situation if they are to make a run at signing Mbappe and they are expected to allow Martin Odegaard to leave for Arsenal on loan. 

Across seven LaLiga appearances under Zinedine Zidane this season, Odegaard has supplied five key passes but not registered an assist or scored himself. 

He averages 27.5 passes ending in the final third per 90 minutes, second only to Isco for Madrid this season, but ranks seventh in the Madrid squad – of players who have featured in at least three LaLiga games – in terms of passes played into the box (4.3). 

While on loan at Real Sociedad last season, per 90 minutes the playmaker averaged 2.2 chances created, 23.2 passes ending in the final third – the lower number potentially due to La Real spending less time in the opposition's final third than Madrid – and 8.5 passes played into the box. 

Valdano believes Odegaard should have been more patient, suggesting that by biding his time he would have seen more action and grown in confidence. 

"It doesn't seem to me that Odegaard played badly when he had his chance, but he lacked a degree of daring and a greater sense of risk," he said. 

"He was too close to Casemiro and lacked prominence for the final pass, which is what is expected of Odegaard. 

"But that has to do with confidence, and I think time would have given him that. He lacked patience. A Madrid player should have a greater capacity for suffering, he must not give up too soon. 

"And even less so being so young and competing for the position of two stars like [Toni] Kroos and [Luka] Modric. They are not just any two players." 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta confirmed the club are close to signing Real Madrid attacking midfielder Martin Odegaard on loan as he reflected on his side's 3-1 victory over Southampton on Tuesday.

Goals from Nicolas Pepe, Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette helped the Gunners come from behind and claim all three points at St Mary's, where they lost 1-0 in the FA Cup just three days earlier.

The result moved Arsenal above Southampton and into eighth place in the Premier League table, and Arteta indicated his side's positive start to 2021 could soon be boosted further by Odegaard's arrival.

"I think we are pretty close but it's not finalised as I understand it," Arteta told reporters, when asked about the 22-year-old Norwegian playmaker.

"I haven't spoken to [Arsenal technical director Edu] or the club in the last few hours but we're very positive that we'll finalise the deal."

After a dismal run of one victory in 10 league matches between October and December, Arsenal are unbeaten in their past five Premier League games and have won four of them.

Arteta indicated that the upturn in form has restored belief to his squad, saying: "Football games are always judged by the result and that affects the confidence.

"The moment that we started to win and confidence went up and we started to grow and understand each other better, we got some players back and the spirit started to lift a little bit, things were much better to be fair."

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl lambasted his side's defending after they succumbed to a third defeat in six league games.

Hasenhuttl told BT Sport: "It's always frustrating when you concede goals, but when it is that easy I think it hurts even more.

"The first was a mistake in the build-up, but then still we had the chance to defend it and we didn't do it, and then the second one was similar.

"It's not the way we can defend, we can do it much better and we know this. After being down one at half-time it's difficult to come back. We had chances to do it, but also the final quality was not good enough.

"We know we are a good side when we play a perfect game, but today we were far off this."

Arsenal earned revenge for their FA Cup defeat to Southampton by coming from behind to beat Ralph Hasenhuttl's side 3-1 at St Mary's in the Premier League on Tuesday.

Having suffered a 1-0 loss on the same ground three days earlier, Arsenal looked a different team as they attacked with great panache, but fell behind to a superb Stuart Armstrong strike after three minutes.

Nicolas Pepe, who scored on his previous Premier League start at Everton in December, levelled before Bukayo Saka gave Arsenal the lead with his fifth league goal of the season.

Southampton created several chances to claim a share of the points but found Gunners goalkeeper Bernd Leno in good form, and Alexandre Lacazette scored in the 72nd minute as Arsenal leapfrogged their hosts into eighth place in the table.

The home side stormed ahead after just three minutes when Armstrong met a James Ward-Prowse corner with a shot on the half-volley that flew past Leno and into the top corner of the net, despite the Arsenal goalkeeper getting a hand to it.

The lead lasted five minutes, as Arsenal pounced on a sloppy Jack Stephens pass and Granit Xhaka played Pepe into the area where he fired a low shot into the far corner of the net from 10 yards out.

Leno made a superb diving save from Che Adams to keep the scores level before Arsenal, six minutes from half-time, went ahead when Lacazette's incisive pass found Saka, who rounded Alex McCarthy and drilled the ball into the gaping net.

Armstrong carved an opening for Theo Walcott early in the second half but Leno was equal to the former Arsenal winger's effort.

Lacazette then finished a sweeping Arsenal attacking move from point-blank range at the other end to seal the victory with his eighth league goal of the season.

 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang being absent for a prolonged period would be a problem for Arsenal but Mikel Arteta is expecting big things from Gabriel Martinelli.

Arsenal were without Aubameyang for their 1-0 FA Cup defeat to Southampton on Saturday after the Gabon international left the squad to attend to a personal matter.

Arteta was unsure how long the striker would be unavailable for, making him a doubt for the second straight game at St Mary's Stadium – this time a Premier League meeting on Tuesday.

Aubameyang has struggled for form this season, scoring eight goals – three of which have come in his past three appearances – and supplying one assist in 20 outings in all competitions

"Of course, it would be a problem [if he was out long term] because he's our top striker and the one who has scored the most goals," Arteta told a news conference.

"He's our captain and an important player in the team. We have to respect the time. Let's see. I don't have enough information right now to see how things are evolving and hopefully things will go in the right direction."

Martinelli made his first start in three and a half weeks against Saints after overcoming an ankle injury and was replaced just before the hour mark.

Arteta confirmed Martinelli had not suffered a setback and he expected the 19-year-old to really start producing for the team.

"He was fine, it was a tactical decision. He's missed a few training sessions from the last injury, but I expect big things from Gabi," said Arteta.

"He's been really helpful since he joined again after such a long period, so I'm really positive about him."

Arteta was impressed by Southampton's pressing in their FA Cup meeting and expects a similar challenge in their next meeting.

Ralph Hasenhuttl's team have the third-lowest opposition passes allowed per defensive action (PPDA) value in the Premier League this season at 10.9, indicating that only Liverpool (10.1) and Leeds United (8.9) press higher than them.

Furthermore, the average distance from their own goal that Saints' open play sequences start is 42.9 metres, with only Liverpool (44.4m) and Manchester City (45.4m) commencing sequences further up the pitch.

Arsenal, meanwhile, rank joint-11th in PPDA (13.8) and joint-sixth in average start distance (41.8m).

"We know they are one of the most effective teams in that [pressing] like we are," said Arteta.

"It was an intense game and we were expecting that for sure, and we are expecting that on Tuesday because they don't really change.

"They are a really great team, really good manager, they know exactly what they're doing and they've been doing it for years now, and they are good at it so we expect a similar game on Tuesday."

Mesut Ozil has completed a move to Fenerbahce after negotiating his departure from Arsenal.

World Cup winner Ozil, once Arsenal's record signing, had been excluded from Mikel Arteta's first-team plans this season and departs after seven and a half years with the Premier League club.

The former Germany midfielder was under contract until the end of the current campaign but reached an agreement for an early termination, clearing him to sign elsewhere.

Fener have now confirmed the arrival of Ozil, with Arsenal announcing the playmaker's departure on their official website.

In a statement in the Gunners' announcement, Ozil said: "I'd like to thank the club for this amazing journey over the past seven-and-a-half years.

"The support I have felt from the team and fans during my time here has been truly incredible and something I will always be grateful for.

"Together we won trophies for the first time in years and created memories that will last a lifetime.

"The Arsenal fans will forever remain in my heart. I'd like to thank Edu Gaspar for helping bring about a professional and dignified solution in the past few days, and I wish everyone at the club the best in their attempt to continue to bring Arsenal back to the top, where we belong."

Having joined from Real Madrid in September 2013, Ozil made 184 Premier League appearances for Arsenal, scoring 33 goals and contributing 54 assists.

He was a key part of Arsene Wenger's squad that finished second in the 2015-16 Premier League season, while he also started in the FA Cup final triumphs in 2014, 2015 and 2017.

However, the 32-year-old had increasingly become a peripheral figure in recent years, initially under former Gunners boss Unai Emery before being left out entirely by Arteta. 

His final Arsenal appearance came on March 3, 2020, when he played 89 minutes in a 1-0 win over West Ham at Emirates Stadium.

Although he was twice named on the bench when the 2019-20 season resumed after the coronavirus-enforced break, the 32-year-old was an unused substitute against both Brighton and Hove Albion and Southampton in June.

"Mesut's achievements at Arsenal are undisputed," Arteta said. "It was a privilege to play alongside him and, more recently, coach him.

"His creativity and vision led to many goals during his time in the Arsenal shirt. Mesut was at the heart of many great moments for this club over the years, including those three FA Cup final wins.

"These successes will always be part of our history. We thank Mesut and wish him all the best with Fenerbahce."

Mesut Ozil has completed a move to Fenerbahce after negotiating his departure from Arsenal.

World Cup winner Ozil, once Arsenal's record signing, had been excluded from Mikel Arteta's first-team plans this season and departs after seven and a half years with the Premier League club.

The former Germany midfielder was under contract until the end of the current campaign but reached an agreement for an early termination, clearing him to sign elsewhere.

Fener have now confirmed the arrival of Ozil, with Arsenal announcing the playmaker's departure on their official website.

In a statement in the Gunners' announcement, Ozil said: "I'd like to thank the club for this amazing journey over the past seven-and-a-half years.

"The support I have felt from the team and fans during my time here has been truly incredible and something I will always be grateful for.

"Together we won trophies for the first time in years and created memories that will last a lifetime.

"The Arsenal fans will forever remain in my heart. I'd like to thank Edu Gaspar for helping bring about a professional and dignified solution in the past few days, and I wish everyone at the club the best in their attempt to continue to bring Arsenal back to the top, where we belong."

Having joined from Real Madrid in September 2013, Ozil made 184 Premier League appearances for Arsenal, scoring 33 goals and contributing 54 assists.

He was a key part of Arsene Wenger's squad that finished second in the 2015-16 Premier League season, while he also started in the FA Cup final triumphs in 2014, 2015 and 2017.

However, the 32-year-old had increasingly become a peripheral figure in recent years, initially under former Gunners boss Unai Emery before being left out entirely by Arteta. 

His final Arsenal appearance came on March 3, 2020, when he played 89 minutes in a 1-0 win over West Ham at Emirates Stadium.

Although he was twice named on the bench when the 2019-20 season resumed after the coronavirus-enforced break, the 32-year-old was an unused substitute against both Brighton and Hove Albion and Southampton in June.

"Mesut's achievements at Arsenal are undisputed," Arteta said. "It was a privilege to play alongside him and, more recently, coach him.

"His creativity and vision led to many goals during his time in the Arsenal shirt. Mesut was at the heart of many great moments for this club over the years, including those three FA Cup final wins.

"These successes will always be part of our history. We thank Mesut and wish him all the best with Fenerbahce."

Mikel Arteta was unable to offer any further update on the progress of a deal to sign Martin Odegaard as the Arsenal boss defended the performances of under-fire duo Nicolas Pepe and Willian.  

Media reports suggested the Premier League club could complete the loan signing of midfielder Odegaard on Friday. 

However, the Norway international still remains a Real Madrid player for now at least, while his prospective new club exited the FA Cup on Saturday away at Southampton.  

After the holders bowed out 1-0 following a Gabriel own goal at St Mary's Stadium, Arteta revealed he expects to receive further news about potential signings. 

When quizzed over the situation regarding Odegaard, he replied: "I don't know. Obviously we played today. Since last night I don't have any news.

"Probably I will get a few phone calls today and see where we are with every deal."  

The Arsenal boss was also asked if Odegaard coming in could stifle Emile Smith Rowe, who has impressed since being drafted into the first team during the busy festive period.  

"I cannot talk about any player who is not ours," Arteta replied. "We have a clear idea of how we want to develop our players."  

Smith Rowe was not involved against Southampton as Arsenal's FA Cup defence came to a disappointing end on the south coast.  

Willian and Nicolas Pepe were given the chance to impress but neither was able to help the visitors find a way through, leaving Arteta to face questions over their output this season.  

Willian has played 919 minutes in the Premier League this season, providing three assists and creating 12 chances in open play. The Brazilian has yet to score for Arsenal since signing a three-year deal in the previous transfer window, though.  

Pepe, meanwhile, has managed five goals so far in his second year at the club following a big-money move from Lille, a deal that was completed prior to Arteta's return to the north London club.   

However, in just 479 minutes in the league this term, he has not managed to create a single opportunity for a team-mate in open play.

"They tried to give their best, you can see how hard they tried, sometimes with more or less quality," Arteta said of the pair.  

"The intention is there; the willingness is there. This is what we demand of them to do. After that, the decision-making, the final pass, the final ball, the opportunities they had, the hardest thing is the end product.  

"We are going to keep supporting them as much as we can, as a coaching staff and as a club, because that's what it needs. 

"They need to keep working hard and try to improve their performances." 

Arsenal are back at Southampton on Tuesday for a Premier League fixture, followed by a showdown with Manchester United next Saturday. 

Mikel Arteta was unsure when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would return as he reflected on a "really sad" FA Cup elimination for Arsenal.

The Gunners went down to a 1-0 defeat at Southampton on Saturday, their hopes of retaining the trophy ended in the fourth round.

Arsenal played without captain Aubameyang, who had to leave the team in the hours before kick-off for personal reasons.

Amid reports attacking midfielder Martin Odegaard is set to join from Real Madrid, Arteta expressed regret at his side's exit. 

"Really sad to be out of the competition," he said to BT Sport. "Disappointed to be out and the way we conceded.

"We are looking in the market and will see what we can do."

The teams meet again at St Mary's on Tuesday for a Premier League clash and Arteta is unsure whether Aubameyang will be back.

"I don't know, he needs to address that issue and see how it evolves," the Arsenal boss said at his post-match news conference.

"We are here, we will have to support him. He needs to take the time that is needed because that is a priority at the moment."

Gabriel Magalhaes' first-half own goal settled a scrappy contest where Arteta felt Arsenal had improved after the break.

Arteta added: "We had issues in the first half and unforced errors as a result of the high-press they do. 

"In the second half we had two or three big chances but not enough. It was an even game.

"In the first half they won a lot of second balls. In the second half we added more quality. We became more dominant and created chances but it wasn't enough."

Arsenal have conceded four own goals in all competitions this season.

Opta statistics show this is more than any other Premier League side and the most they have conceded in a single season since 2015-16 (five).

Asked if Gabriel had been rusty, Arteta said: "Maybe. He hasn't played enough minutes in the last month or so since he had the Covid. 

"He had to stay at home, he hasn't trained as much as we would like him to. He is a player that has done so well since he has joined us. Credit to Southampton because they make it really hard for you."

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl was impressed with the way his team played, though suggested it had not been a perfect display.

"It was a good team performance," he said. "In general our work without the ball was good.

"We had in the first half more punch and more power. In the second half it's normal they have a lift. We must make the second goal. 

"We made one or two chances - Shane Long should have got a penalty. We had early ball wins, but our last decision-making was not always the best." 

Arsenal have now failed to make the fifth round of the FA Cup in three of the last four seasons.

Holders Arsenal were dumped out of the FA Cup as the unlucky Gabriel Magalhaes settled a scrappy clash at Southampton with an own goal.

Southampton's 1-0 win at St Mary's came against an Arsenal side who were without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, their two-goal hero in last season's final, for personal reasons.

Gabriel turned a cross-shot from Kyle Walker-Peters beyond Bernd Leno for the only goal, his slight touch meaning a ball that looked like going wide squeezed just inside the left post.

Without Aubameyang, Mikel Arteta's Arsenal carried little threat against a side who sit one place above them in the Premier League.

The visitors almost fell behind early on, a corner from James Ward-Prowse curling in from the right and touched onto the crossbar by Bernd Leno.

Che Adams and former Gunners winger Theo Walcott threatened to find the breakthrough for Southampton before it arrived in the 24th minute.

The optimistic effort from Walker-Peters skidded low through a crowd of players and caught a flick off Gabriel on its way into the corner.

It meant Arsenal's defence had finally been breached after going 508 minutes without conceding a goal.

Southampton's Danny Ings smashed a shot against the foot of the right post early in the second half, although he had strayed a fraction offside.

Walcott thumped a shot high over the Arsenal bar as the hosts looked to make sure of their place in the next round.

In a largely underwhelming contest, Eddie Nketiah saw a shot palmed away by home goalkeeper Fraser Forster, while Ward-Prowse cleared off the line from substitute Bukayo Saka, but a flag for an earlier offside would have seen that ruled out.

Could Barcelona be about to make a splash in the free-agent market?

Strapped for cash amid the coronavirus pandemic, Barca are believed to have set their sights on two stars.

David Alaba and Sergio Aguero are on the agenda at Camp Nou…

 

TOP STORY – BARCA EYEING OUT-OF-CONTRACT DUO

Barcelona are set to target Bayern Munich star David Alaba and Manchester City's Sergio Aguero , according to Mundo Deportivo.

Alaba and Aguero are both out of contract at the end of the season, prompting interest from embattled LaLiga giants Barca.

Bayern's Alaba has been tipped to join Real Madrid , while the likes of Manchester United , Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain have also been linked.

Aguero, meanwhile, is no certainty to renew in Manchester, where Pep Guardiola is reportedly eyeing Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Inter's Romelu Lukaku .

 

ROUND-UP

-   Sport reports Raphael Varane wants to leave LaLiga champions Madrid . The French defender has previously been linked to United .

- Madrid cannot afford to sign the likes of PSG star Kylian Mbappe and Haaland due to their current financial situation amid the coronavirus pandemic, claims Marca.

- The Guardian says West Ham have lowered their asking price for Declan Rice , who has been linked to Chelsea and United .

- Martin Odegaard is close to swapping Madrid for Arsenal on loan, reports journalist Fabrizio Romano.

- Romano also says United have not opened talks with Lens to sign Argentine centre-back Facundo Medina . The Red Devils are eyeing a new centre-back amid links with in-demand RB Leipzig star Dayot Upamecano .

Napoli want to sign either Sporting CP full-back Nuno Mendes or Benfica's Nuno Tavares , reports Calciomercato.

- There are serious doubts over Edin Dzeko's future at Roma, with Calciomercato claiming Juventus and Inter are monitoring the situation.

Page 1 of 38
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.