Arsenal were dealt a blow by Granit Xhaka's dreadful mistake against Burnley, while Southampton ended a nine-match Premier League winless streak on Saturday.

Xhaka hit an attempted clearance straight at Chris Wood in the early kick-off at Turf Moor, ultimately costing Mikel Arteta's side a point.

Ralph Hasenhuttl's team then dispatched lowly Sheffield United 2-0 to finally rediscover some form, with Aston Villa and Wolves later playing out a goalless draw.

Leicester City beat Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 in the late kick-off, and we took a look at the best Opta facts from Saturday's action.
 

Burnley 1-1 Arsenal: X-rated error costs Arteta

Arsenal could have closed the gap between themselves and Tottenham to just two points ahead of next week's north London derby, yet had to settle for a point against Burnley, who have now won just one game in 10 in all competitions.

The Gunners took the lead through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the sixth minute. Arsenal's captain has scored more Premier League goals against Burnley (eight) than against any other club, while he only has a better record against Hamburg (nine) in Europe's 'top five' leagues.

However, they were hindered by Xhaka's error. The midfielder attempted to play his way out of a tight spot in Arsenal's area, only for his clearance to strike Chris Wood and bobble in.

Since the start of 2016-17, Xhaka has made eight errors leading to goals in the top flight, which is more than any other outfield Premier League player.

Arsenal have now kept only one clean sheet in their past 11 games in all competitions (0-0 v Manchester United in January), after keeping five in a row directly before that.

Burnley, on the other hand, have drawn five consecutive home league games for the third time in their history, after a run of six games ending in April 1936 and a run of five ending in October 1997.

Sheffield United 0-2 Southampton: Adams blunts his former club as Saints buck the trend

Che Adams scored a stunning goal to condemn his former team Sheffield United to another defeat, while simultaneously helping Southampton end their dismal run of form.

Southampton had lost eight of their past nine league matches heading into Saturday's meeting at Bramall Lane, having not won since beating Liverpool on January 4.

Captain James Ward-Prowse opened the scoring from the penalty spot; he has been directly involved in 26 Premier League goals under Hasenhuttl (18 goals, eight assists), twice as many as under any other Southampton manager.

It also moved Ward-Prowse onto seven goals in all competitions, his joint-best return in a single campaign. Six of these seven goals have come from dead ball situations (five direct free-kicks, one penalty).

Southampton had been hit by an early injury to Danny Ings, yet his replacement Adams stepped up, slamming in a spectacular half-volley to make it 2-0 shortly after half-time.

Adams has scored four goals in his four Premier League appearances against the Blades, accounting for 44 per cent of his total goals in the competition, while Chris Wilder's men have become only the second English top-flight team to lose 22 of their first 28 games in a season after Sunderland in 2005-06.

Aston Villa 0-0 Wolves: Grealish absence continues to hit home

There was no winner in Saturday's local derby as Wolves extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League at Villa Park to five matches (W2 D3).

Villa have failed to score in each of their past four home Premier League games against Wolves – only against Chelsea (a run of five between October 1995 and January 2000) and Manchester United (a run of five between March 2003 and December 2006) have they had a longer run of games without scoring against a specific opponent at Villa Park in the competition.

Jack Grealish was again absent through injury and, under Dean Smith, Villa have won just two of their 12 home league games without the playmaker (D5 L5).

On the plus side for Villa, they have kept 14 clean sheets in the Premier League this season, their highest tally in a single top-flight campaign since 2009-10 (15), with only Manchester City (15) having kept more this term.

Wolves, meanwhile, have won just one of their past 10 away Premier League games (D4 L5), with that victory coming at Southampton in February.

Brighton and Hove Albion 1-2 Leicester City: Amartey late show gets Foxes back on track

Daniel Amartey proved the unlikely hero for Leicester as they got back on track in their bid to consolidate their place in the top four with a last-gasp 2-1 win over Brighton.

Graham Potter's side took the lead through Adam Lallana's maiden Brighton goal, and his first in 503 days and 32 appearances in the competition since netting for Liverpool against Manchester United in October 2019.

However, Brighton have now dropped 17 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season, their most in a single campaign in the competition. Only Southampton (18) have dropped more than the Seagulls in 2020-21.

Kelechi Iheanacho restored parity and has scored in each of his past two Premier League appearances, having netted in just one of his previous 17 in the competition.

Brighton thought they might come away with a point when Jamie Vardy had a penalty appeal turned down, but Amartey popped up with the winner from the following corner.

It was just his second Premier League goal, and his first since he scored against Stoke City in December 2016.

Gianluigi Donnarumma is attracting interest from across Europe.

Donnarumma's Milan contract expires at season's end and the star goalkeeper is yet to commit.

Premier League giants Chelsea are reportedly ready to prise the Italy international to London.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA LAUNCH DONNARUMMA BID

Chelsea are ready to make a move for Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, according to Libero Quotidiano.

Donnarumma's contract expires at the end of the season and Premier League giants Chelsea are set to submit an offer worth £9million (€10.5m) per season, despite already boasting the world's most expensive goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and Edouard Mendy.

The Italy international has also been linked with the likes of Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sky reports teenage sensation Jamal Musiala has signed a long-term contract extension with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich. The new deal is reportedly worth €5m per year and will tie him to Bayern until 2026.

Manchester City have joined the race for Atalanta star Robin Gosens, according to Virgilio. Gosens has had interest from Serie A rivals Inter and Juventus but Atalanta are understood to want €40m (£34m) for his services.

- The Daily Mail says Leicester City are planning for Jamie Vardy's long-term replacement by targeting a £15m move for Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard.

- Santiago Arias is being circled by EvertonRoma and PSG this off-season, according to Kicker. Arias is currently on loan at Bayer Leverkusen from Atletico Madrid.

- InterLive claims Inter are keen on Juve goalkeeper Mattia Perin, who is currently on loan at Genoa, and may use Matias Vecino in exchange. The Nerazzurri are looking for goalkeeper cover for Samir Handanovic.

Ralph Hasenhuttl and Brendan Rodgers have backed Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp's stance on potentially withholding players from upcoming international fixtures.

Premier League players travelling to 'red list' countries during next week's break would be forced to quarantine for 10 days when they return to England, missing games for their clubs as a result.

On Wednesday, Klopp suggested he would not allow that to happen, saying: "The players are paid by the clubs so that means we have to be the first priority. You cannot make everyone happy in this period of our lives.

"I think everybody agrees that we cannot let the players go and come back and quarantine for 10 days in a hotel - that's not how we can do it."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer later agreed with his Reds counterpart, insisting it "didn't make sense" for his players to travel under those conditions.

And they have now been supported in that view by Southampton boss Hasenhuttl who, when asked whether he would also prevent players from leaving, replied: "Absolutely no question for me.

"I mean, you cannot think that I send any player anywhere when he has to quarantine when he's coming back. This is absolutely nonsense. Forget it. Definitely not.

"Because, I mean, there's business travel if you want…why should I send them there?

"Nobody can say that he's coming back at least two weeks out and cannot play for us so this is not possible. Definitely not."

Leicester manager Rodgers, meanwhile, hit out at football's governing bodies over a lack of leadership that has left clubs to make difficult decisions.

"I think the clubs are being told it is going to be an individual case for each club," he said.

"But I think in essence all the clubs will be looking at not wanting to send players, I'm pretty sure, into countries where there is going to be a risk of them coming back and not being able to play and have to go into quarantine in a hotel. 

"I don't think any club will want that for any of the players."

David Beckham's Inter Miami are trying to woo Cristiano Ronaldo to MLS.

Ronaldo, 36, is contracted at Juventus until 2022, but his next move is seemingly already a discussion point.

And MLS could suit nicely if Beckham has his way.

 

TOP STORY – BECKHAM'S INTER MIAMI EYE CRISTIANO

Beckham is speaking to Ronaldo's representatives about a move to Inter Miami, according to todofichajes.com.

The Portugal international is understood to be interested by the challenge of joining the club in the United States.

The financial contract would be massive for Ronaldo but he may potentially make the move next January, lowering the transfer fee, given the MLS runs from March to December.

Lionel Messi was reportedly previously sounded out about a possible US switch.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Express are reporting that Gareth Bale's recent form upturn means Tottenham are now keen to sign him permanently, with the Welshman having joined on loan from Real Madrid. Subsequently, the funds availed from a permanent transfer could enable Madrid to enter the fray for Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe.

West Ham, Leicester City, Southampton, Brighton and Hove Albion and Aston Villa are among the list of clubs interested in Tammy Abraham if Chelsea deem him surplus to requirements, according to The Telegraph.

- The Star claims the Hammers are also keen on two other young English strikers; Arsenal's Eddie Nketiah and Brentford's Ivan Toney.

- Deportivo Alaves goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco is being pursued by Premier League pair Leeds United and Southampton, according to todofichajes.com.

Manchester United lost further ground to Premier League leaders Manchester City as they played out a 0-0 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. 

The Red Devils are now 12 points behind Pep Guardiola's seemingly unstoppable side, who are well on their way to a third title in four seasons. 

Elsewhere, Liverpool returned to winning ways against Sheffield United and Arsenal came from behind to beat Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. 

A Gareth Bale-inspired Tottenham cruised past Burnley 4-0, while Crystal Palace and Fulham played out a dour 0-0 draw.

Chelsea 0-0 Manchester United: Red Devils' 'big six' struggles continue

While this result stretched United's unbeaten away run in the league to a whopping 20 matches – the joint-fifth-longest run in top-flight history – there was still a sense of disappointment at full-time. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side have now failed to score in their last six league meetings with Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City or Tottenham, with each of their last four such matches finishing goalless. 

This fixture has now finished 0-0 in both matches in a single league campaign for just the second time, the other occasion coming back in 1921-22. 

It marked the first time Chelsea have drawn 0-0 against an opponent home and away in the Premier League in the same season for the first time since 2008-09 against Everton, while United last did so against Aston Villa in 1996-97.

Thomas Tuchel can at least toast becoming just the second coach to not concede a single goal in his first four home matches in the Premier League after Brendan Rodgers in 2011-12 with Swansea City. Including his final two such matches in charge of Paris Saint-Germain, Tuchel has gone six games without conceding at home in league competition.

Sheffield United 0-2 Liverpool: Klopp's men get back on track

After four consecutive top-flight defeats champions Liverpool got their top-four bid back on track at Bramall Lane. 

Curtis Jones opened the scoring with his second goal for the Reds. In doing so, he became the youngest Liverpool player (20 years and 29 days) to score an away Premier League goal since Raheem Sterling in December 2014 against Burnley (20y 18d).

Their second – an own goal by Kean Bryan – was their 7,000th in the English top-flight, becoming only the second team to reach that tally after Merseyside rivals Everton (7,108).

Adrian was in goal for Jurgen Klopp's men and the Spaniard has now been on the winning side in 10 of his 12 Premier League starts for the club, although this was only his third clean sheet. 

The Blades, meanwhile, have now lost 21 games this season. They are the first side since Newport County in the fourth tier in 1970-71 to lose as many as 21 of their first 26 matches in an English Football League season.

Tottenham 4-0 Burnley: Brilliant Bale torments sorry Clarets

Bale was at his best as Tottenham registered their biggest Premier League home win since they thumped the Clarets 5-0 in December 2019. 

His first came after just 68 seconds, which was the fastest goal Burnley have ever conceded in a Premier League match. The previous quickest was a Yerry Mina effort after 99 seconds for Everton in December 2018.

Harry Kane doubled Spurs' advantage to continue his fine run against Sean Dyche's side. No player has scored more Premier League goals against Burnley than Kane (eight, level with Riyad Mahrez), with the England striker involved in 10 goals in his last six league appearances against them (seven goals, three assists).

Lucas Moura added a third before Bale wrapped up the scoring to take his goal involvements to seven in his last four appearances in all competitions. 

At the back, Hugo Lloris celebrated his 100th clean sheet in the competition. He became the 16th goalkeeper to reach that landmark, while he is the ninth quickest to reach it (285 games).

Burnley, meanwhile, have now lost 12 of their last 15 away top-flight matches against Spurs, shipping 48 goals and conceding at least four goals in seven games.

Leicester City 1-3 Arsenal: Gunners storm back to end 'top three' hoodoo

Arsenal ended a four-game winless run against the Foxes in the Premier League, securing their first victory against them in the competition since October 2018. 

It started poorly for Mikel Arteta's side, though, with Youri Tielemans scoring his sixth goal of the season early on. That is as many as he had scored in his first two seasons at the club combined. 

David Luiz pulled the Gunners level before Alexandre Lacazette put them ahead from the penalty spot. The France international has converted all five of his penalties for Arsenal across all competitions, while only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (13) has now netted more goals for the Gunners than Lacazette (11) this term.

Nicolas Pepe sealed the three points and has now equalled his Premier League goal tally from last season, scoring five this campaign in 13 fewer appearances (18 this term, 31 last season).

The result marked Arsenal's first away victory against a team starting the day in the top three of the Premier League since January 2015 (2-0 v Manchester City) – they were winless in their last 14 such games ahead of this clash (D3 L11).

Crystal Palace 0-0 Fulham: Lucky Eagles escape with a point

It should come as no surprise that this game ended goalless given Fulham's penchant for draws this season. 

Just one of the Cottagers' first 21 Premier League games under Scott Parker ended level, but the stalemate at Selhurst Park was their 10th draw in their last 15 top-flight matches. 

They were comfortably the better side and attempted 16 shots. Fourteen of those came in the second period – the most they have had in the final 45 minutes of a Premier League away game since 2003-04 without scoring.

Palace, meanwhile, have somehow managed to pick up four points from their last two league games despite attempting just six shots (facing 41), having only nine touches in the opposition box (compared to 70 by their opponents), and completing just 442 passes (compared to their opponents' 1065).

Indeed, they managed just 33 attempts in their five Premier League matches in February – the lowest recorded by a team in a single month of at least five games since the start of the 2003-04 campaign.

Harvey Barnes is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines after Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers confirmed the winger would likely require surgery on a knee injury.

The in-form 23-year-old, whose impressive displays had put him firmly in the conversation around England's Euro 2020 squad, was substituted six minutes into the second half of Sunday's 3-1 loss to Arsenal.

And Rodgers confirmed Barnes had significantly aggravated an issue that first came to light earlier this month.

"It's not good news, it looks like he needs to go in for an operation, so it will be a minimum of six weeks," said Rodgers, whose squad has been hugely impacted by injury setbacks.

"I believe it's around his cartilage. He had a clash of knees a few weeks ago, so it has just been irritable. Today he's had a challenge right on it [and that] has just made it worse.

"He'll need that repaired. He's had niggles with it, that's why we tried to recover him on Thursday, to take some pressure off him, but unfortunately it's a bad one for him, and a huge blow for us.

"I'll hear more on Monday, but initially that's what we think it is."

The Foxes' treatment room is a busy place at present, with James Maddison, James Justin, Wesley Fofana, Ayoze Perez, Dennis Praet and Wes Morgan all out of action.

Worse still for the Champions League hopefuls, defender Jonny Evans was forced off with a calf problem against the Gunners, who roared back from 1-0 down at the King Power Stadium.

"He's had this dead calf, which he's been able to get through, but in some games he has made some actions that have aggravated it," said Rodgers. "He'll need a scan to see where he's at.

"We're down to the bare bones, we've carried it all season and the players have been great. It's absolutely fair enough.

"My players to this point have been brilliant, but we've suffered with a lot, and found a way, but when you're missing the influential players and can't change, it makes it difficult. We'll find a way.

"One thing that goes when you have that tiredness is technique, when passes go astray. With our team, it's usually crisp and precise with our passing."

The minimum six-week recovery time for Barnes would see him miss five top-flight games and the FA Cup quarter-final with Manchester United.

Despite the defeat, which came on the heels of Thursday's Europa League exit at the hands of Slavia Prague, Leicester sit third in the Premier League.

Mikel Arteta felt Arsenal performed with "courage" to end a damning six-year run by beating Leicester City on Sunday.

The Gunners responded to an early goal from Youri Tielemans to win 3-1 at the King Power Stadium, with David Luiz and Nicolas Pepe scoring either side of an Alexandre Lacazette penalty.

It was their first Premier League win over Leicester since October 2018 and ended a run of 14 away matches without a victory against teams starting the day in the top three of the table.

Before getting the better of the third-placed Foxes, Arsenal's most recent away win over such lofty opponents came in January 2015, when they won 2-0 at Manchester City.

 

Manager Arteta was proud of the display, especially given their battling Europa League win over Benfica was only three days earlier.

"For me, it's not only about that," said Arteta. "It's how we play against opponents of top quality and just impose ourselves: try to be all the time us, it doesn't matter who we play against, and have the courage to do it against top-quality players.

"I'm proud of the way we won, but more about the way we have done it. Coming here after a very short turnaround after Benfica and going down very early puts the game in a difficult position.

"But we played some really good moments in the game. We were really solid, we dominated the game and overall we deserved the win."

Willian had an assist for a goal in a decisive substitute appearance against Benfica and continued that form at Leicester, crossing for David Luiz's opener and posting game-high figures of six accurate crosses and a 94 per cent passing accuracy.

"He was really good today, but we have seen that in training in the last few weeks," Arteta said of the Brazilian. "I think he is revealing himself. He is not accepting the situation.

"I think he was the player who changed the game against Benfica in the last few moments when he came on and today, I think he was terrific and the same for the senior players.

"Laca, the way he played; Nico, I think he grew in the game and had a big impact as well. And Granit [Xhaka]. I think a player that has played that many minutes, to play with the heart and passion he showed in every action, I think it's a great example for the rest of the players."

The downside to Arsenal's win, which lifted them back into the top 10, was losing Emile Smith Rowe to injury in a game that also saw Leicester's Jonny Evans and Harvey Barnes forced off.

Arteta thinks such incidents will only become more common as the season enters a hectic final third.

"Well, I think it is absolutely normal that it is happening," Arteta said. "That is why as well we needed to change players [today] because if not we were going to expose our players to get injured.

"But sometimes you don't have a chance as a manager [to do that] because you don't have enough players or you have the necessity to win and play them again.

"But it is insane, the amount of minutes and the games that these players are playing without any pre-season, without any break.

"You are going to get injured. We talked about it, all the managers raised our voices at the start of the season and it's happening."

Arsenal ended a run of two consecutive away Premier League defeats with an impressive 3-1 victory over high-flying Leicester City on Sunday.

Mikel Arteta's men fought back from an early Youri Tielemans goal to score through David Luiz, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe, ending a three-game losing streak at the King Power Stadium in the top flight.

The result means Arsenal closed to within three points of sixth-place Liverpool, having played a game more, while Leicester stay third and 13 points behind leaders Manchester City.

Tielemans gave Leicester the lead with a precise finish after being allowed to run unchecked into the Arsenal box, with Kieran Tierney out of position and Pablo Mari distracted by Jamie Vardy.

It was the fourth time the Gunners had conceded in the opening six minutes of a league game in 2021, but it seemed to spark them into life, with Pepe winning a penalty only for VAR to determine he was fouled outside the box.

David Luiz deservedly equalised six minutes before the break, steering a fine header past Kasper Schmeichel from Willian's free-kick, and the visitors were ahead in injury time.

Pepe's shot was blocked by the raised arm of Wilfred Ndidi and this time VAR ruled in favour of a penalty, allowing Lacazette to smash home from the spot.

Injury problems struck each team either side of the break, with Emile Smith-Rowe limping off for the Gunners before Leicester's Harvey Barnes was taken off on a stretcher, his left leg in a brace.

Arsenal scored their third soon afterwards, Pepe leading a counter-attack and then tapping a loose ball into the net after good work from Martin Odegaard and Willian.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang came off the bench and almost made it 4-1, skipping into space and firing just wide of the right-hand post.
 

 

What does it mean? Gunners into top 10 as concern builds for Leicester

Given their poor start to the game, Arsenal's performance was as assured as any they have produced in recent weeks and lifted them back into the league's top 10.

Leicester stay third but, after a surprise Europa League exit to Slavia Prague this week, this was not the way Brendan Rodgers will have wanted them to respond.

The Foxes will hope these defeats do not point to a repeat of 2019-20. They lost on February 28 last year, away to Norwich City, during a six-game winless run that prompted a poor end to their season and a failure to see out a top-four finish.

Pepe starting to peak

Pepe menaced full-back Luke Thomas in the first half to the extent the Leicester man was substituted at half-time on a yellow card.

Having won the free-kick for the equaliser and Lacazette's penalty, Pepe then started and finished the move that effectively killed the game. He has now scored four times in his most recent seven league starts, as many as in his previous 21 across all competitions.

Leicester lose identity

Leicester seemed out of sorts after going ahead and barely threatened Bernd Leno's goal from then on, with Jamie Vardy strangely isolated in attack.

The man who scored 11 goals in his first 12 league meetings with Arsenal had 21 touches and failed even to attempt a shot.

What's next?

Arsenal head to Burnley next Saturday, three days after Leicester face the same opposition at Turf Moor.

Jurgen Klopp out, Steven Gerrard in?

Klopp ended Liverpool's 30-year wait for league glory last season, but the German manager could be set for a return to his homeland.

His exit could see Gerrard return to Merseyside.

 

TOP STORY – GERRARD TO REPLACE KLOPP IN LIVERPOOL RETURN

Steven Gerrard may soon return to Anfield but as manager to replace Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, according to The Mirror.

Liverpool reportedly expect Klopp to take up an opportunity with Germany in the near future amid doubts over long-time head coach Joachim Low.

As a result, Liverpool legend Gerrard has been sounded out as he has Rangers on a cusp of a drought-breaking league title in Scotland.

Gerrard, who made more than 700 appearances for Liverpool, took control of Rangers in 2018.

 

ROUND-UP

- Erling Haaland seems to be on every club's wish list but the Mirror reports Manchester City have joined the queue for the Borussia Dortmund star. City manager Pep Guardiola and Haaland's agent Mina Raiola have a testy relationship but the Premier League leaders will press ahead with an alleged £100million (€115m) deal. English pair Chelsea and Manchester United are also reportedly interested along with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

- Fabrizio Romano says Chelsea want to keep veteran defender Thiago Silva beyond the 2020-21 season. Chelsea signed Silva on a free transfer following his PSG exit.

- LaLiga giants Barcelona are in the market for a young defender and have set their sights on Inter's 21-year-old Alessandro Bastoni, according to Calciomercato.

Arsenal are in the hunt for Wigan Athletic sensation Kyle Joseph, with the teenager scoring five goals in 14 appearances. The Mirror claims the Gunners have joined Celtic and Rangers in their interest in the London-born Scotland youth international whose current contract expires in June.

Liverpool and rivals United are eyeing Leicester City's Harvey Barnes, reports the Mirror. The 23-year-old has established himself as a key player for the Foxes.

- Eric Bailly is in talks with United over a new long-term contract, claims The Sun. The 26-year-old defender, who has been plagued by injuries at Old Trafford, is out of contract in 2022. It comes amid United's reported interest in Sevilla's Jules Kounde, Ibrahima Konate of RB Leipzig and Brighton and Hove Albion star Ben White.

Mikel Arteta knew the real Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was back when he watched the Arsenal striker get mad at himself for missing a penalty in training.

A double from Aubameyang rescued Arsenal's Europa League campaign against Benfica on Thursday, with his second goal, a late header, securing a 3-2 win and a 4-3 aggregate triumph.

The Gunners had been in danger of going out on the away-goals rule at the last-32 stage, having been designated as the home side for the game which was moved to Greece because of travel restrictions between the UK and Portugal.

But it was Aubameyang who saved the day, assisted by the increasingly impressive Bukayo Saka for the second time in the game.

Last season's FA Cup final hero, Aubameyang endured a dry spell in front of goal earlier this season but has scored eight times in 10 games in 2021 so far, at a rate of one every 98.25 minutes.

On Sunday, Arsenal return to domestic duties with a tough trip to third-placed Leicester City.

Arteta wants Aubameyang and Arsenal to kick on in the Premier League and sustain their challenge in Europe, safe in the knowledge their captain is back to his focused best.

"Sometimes when you go through difficult moments, you can have those difficult moments and get into a sad mode," said Arteta. "I think that's the worst thing you can do because nobody has to feel sorry for themselves when you're having those moments.

"What you have to do is get upset, get angry, work harder and approach the situation and face it - face the challenge in a way that creates more motivation and more hunger to do it, and I think in recent weeks I've seen that reaction.

"For example, in a training session before we played here he missed a penalty and he was really upset.

"Instead of going sad he got upset, and I said to the coaching staff that I like that and that he would be fine [against Benfica]. When you have that mentality, I think that's the right way to approach it.

"He is getting into much better positions, his rhythm during the games is much better with and without the ball, his movement.

"The week before when we played Benfica, he had three big chances and I am not worried about him missing them because I know if he gets in those positions, he is going to be scoring consistently so this is what he has to demand of himself.

"If we have Auba at his best, as a team we obviously have a much better chance to be successful."

Arteta, who said Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers should be a contender to be named manager of the season, has seen his team drop to 11th in the Premier League.

The late winner against Benfica felt like a moment that could swing their season, and Arteta's tenure, in a positive direction. Had Arsenal gone out, there may have been talk of a crisis.

"All the winners in European competition have to have a magic moment, a moment of luck, have to be able to overcome difficult situations. It's a good experience to have together," Arteta said. "Hopefully we can use it for the future in the next games."

A Champions League place is on offer to the Europa League winners, and that is Arsenal's only realistic short-term route back to the elite level.

Arteta spoke of that factor and said: "Obviously it is all the time in our mind because we know our league position at the moment. That has to improve dramatically but if we do well in this competition it gives us an extra chance and a hope to achieve something this season."

Saka shared the spotlight with Aubameyang on Thursday and Arteta said of the 19-year-old winger: "How good can he be is a question nobody can answer.

"He is a boy that is constantly willing to learn, to get better, to work on the things he can do better and he is a very humble and hard working boy. When that happens normally, and you have the talent he has, you can go a long way."

Manchester City will be looking to stretch their record winning run to 20 matches when they welcome fellow in-form side West Ham to the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League this weekend.

Pep Guardiola's men are 10 points clear at the summit and two of their players feature among our Opta-fuelled fantasy picks, along with a couple of Everton men on the back of last week's long-awaited derby win at Liverpool.

Manchester United, Tottenham and Leicester City players are also selected ahead of games against Chelsea, Burnley and Arsenal respectively.

 

EDERSON

There are many factors behind the leaders' winning run - not least an incredible defensive record, with goalkeeper Ederson more than playing his part.

The Brazil international has kept 15 clean sheets from 24 Premier League games this term, averaging one every 1.6 matches.

Only two keepers to have played at least 10 times have averaged fewer games per clean sheet across an entire season - Chelsea's Petr Cech (24 in 35 apps in 2004-05) and former Manchester United stopper Edwin van der Sar (21 in 33 apps in 2008-09).

JOAO CANCELO

Simply keeping out the opposition is not enough in the life of a modern day full-back, best epitomised by Cancelo at Man City.

On top of helping City to that formidable defensive record, he has also created the most chances (34) from open play among fellow Premier League defenders this season.

Cancelo may only have set up two goals in the top flight this season, but he has the highest number of expected assists (4.28) among defenders, just ahead of Manchester United's Luke Shaw (4.04).

 

LUCAS DIGNE

Carlo Ancelotti was delighted with the news Digne had signed a new long-term deal with Everton this week and little wonder given the full-back's impact on the side.

No Premier League defender has more assists than the 27-year-old's six this season - level with West Ham's Aaron Cresswell and one more than Andy Robertson and Shaw.

Since Digne's debut for Everton in August 2018, only Liverpool pair Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold (28) have assisted more goals than the Frenchman (17).

GYLFI SIGURDSSON

There was a point when Sigurdsson's time at Everton appeared to be up not so long ago, but the creative midfielder has more than proved his worth to the side of late.

He was been involved in six Premier League goals in 23 appearances this term - four goals and two assists - which is one more than he managed in 35 games last season.

That is a tally he will be confident of building on this gameweek, as the Iceland international has only scored more Premier League goals against Chelsea (six) than he has versus opponents Southampton (five).

 

MARCUS RASHFORD

In the week he celebrates the five-year anniversary since scoring twice on his United debut, Rashford takes on his favourite opponents in Chelsea.

The United academy product has scored five times against the Blues in all competitions and registered a couple of assists.

Only against Leicester City has he found the net as many times, while only against Newcastle United and West Ham (both seven) has he been directly involved in more goals.

HARRY KANE

If Rashford enjoys playing against Chelsea, the same is true of Kane against Tottenham's next opponents Burnley.

The England skipper has been directly involved in 10 goals in nine Premier League appearances against the Clarets, finding the net seven times and laying on three assists.

Burnley's defenders will not look forward to coming up against Kane, with Riyad Mahrez the only player to score against them more often (eight times) in their Premier League history.

 

JAMIE VARDY

Vardy's scoring record against the division's traditional top four is well known by now, particularly when it comes to facing Arsenal.

The Leicester striker has scored 11 goals in 12 previous Premier League appearances against the Gunners, including a late winner in the reverse fixture.

Those 11 strikes place Vardy behind only Wayne Rooney for goals scored against Arsenal in the competition, the United legend netting 12 times against the London club in his career.

Brendan Rodgers blamed a lack of intensity, creativity and quality for Leicester City's Europa League exit as his own poor record in the competition's knockout stage continued.

The Foxes were favourites to progress from their last-32 tie with Slavia Prague after a goalless draw in the first leg, but succumbed to a 2-0 loss at the King Power Stadium on Thursday

Rodgers has now been eliminated from all five of his Europa League knockout ties as a manager (all last 32) – with Liverpool in 2012-13 and 2014-15, Celtic in 2017-18 and 2018-19 and Leicester this season.

"We didn't create enough over two legs. That's the reality," Rodgers told BT Sport.

"We didn't defend with any intensity. We gave away two disappointing goals.

"We got into some good areas but lacked quality when we arrived in them. We started pretty well and exploited some spaces in behind, but we didn't have enough quality to break them down.

"Before this game we were in three competitions and we wanted to give it our all. We know where our priorities are and now, we'll do our very best. We just lacked intensity and quality.

"Overall, the better team won and got through. We have to recover for the weekend."

Rodgers was without injured playmaker James Maddison while Harvey Barnes, their top scorer in Europe this season, started on the bench.

The Northern Irishman defended his decision to leave Barnes out of the starting line-up and felt those players selected were good enough to get them through the tie.

"We lost to the better team. I take responsibility for the team I've picked. I picked a team I felt could win the game," Rodgers added.

"Was it a game too far with our domestic commitments? Yes, but I don't want to give too many excuses. We had players not available tonight at the top end of the field. Guys that can make a difference for us.

"However, I still expected us to show up more. They'll learn from it, like they always do, and although we're disappointed to be out but we know we weren't good enough."

Leicester reaction

February 25, 2021

 

 

 

Leicester City were knocked out of the Europa League at the last 32 stage after a meek 2-0 home defeat to Slavia Prague on Thursday.

With the first leg having finished goalless in Prague, Leicester were strong favourites to reach the last 16 at the King Power Stadium.

But Lukas Provod gave Slavia the lead early in the second half with a cool volleyed finish inside the penalty area after his run went unchecked by the Leicester defence.

Abdallah Dipo Sima made the outcome certain with 11 minutes left when he fired home spectacularly from just outside the box as the Premier League high-flyers went crashing out.

The Foxes tried to seize the early initiative as Cengiz Under twice struck efforts from distance, but their opponents looked the more threatening side in the first half.

A weak Caglar Soyuncu header from a Slavia long ball allowed striker Sima to break clear just before the half hour but his early shot went wide of Kasper Schmeichel's goal.

The unmarked Jan Kuchta should have done better for the Czech First League leaders when he planted a header wide from a good position.

Moments before the interval Jamie Vardy escaped down the left but with few options in the box he kicked the advertising hoardings in frustration after his cross was easily gathered by Ondrej Kolar.

Slavia took a deserved lead four minutes into the second half when Nicolae Stanciu's cross picked out the run of Provod, who side-footed a volley beyond Schmeichel.

Rodgers missed the creative talent of the injured James Maddison but he did bring top scorer Harvey Barnes off the bench just after the hour.

However, Slavia grabbed a second when the impressive Sima was allowed time and space by the Leicester defence and curled a powerful low shot into the corner of the net.

Manchester City are reportedly considering a double swoop for Erling Haaland and Giovanni Reyna.

The Borussia Dortmund stars have been linked with moves, with Haaland in particular in high demand across Europe.

And high-flying City have their eyes on the duo.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY CONSIDER HAALAND, REYNA

Manchester City are considering moves for Dortmund stars Haaland and Reyna, according to 90min.

Haaland, 20, has scored 17 goals and provided three assists in 17 Bundesliga games this season.

Reyna, the 18-year-old American, has three goals and four assists in 21 league games.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United continue to be linked with centre-backs. But the Daily Mail reports the Premier League club are unwilling to meet Sevilla defender Jules Kounde's £68million (€79m) release clause, although they remain interested in the 22-year-old.

- With Liverpool enduring a difficult season, Jurgen Klopp's future has become a talking point. Bild reports Klopp could take over as Germany coach after the 2022 World Cup despite having a contract with Liverpool until 2024.

- Another club linked with a move for Haaland are Chelsea. Metro reports Tammy Abraham, who has scored 12 goals this season and is out of contract in 2023, is unwilling to discuss a new deal with the club amid the Haaland rumours.

- Jesse Lingard is attracting interest after an impressive start to his West Ham career. The Daily Express reports Leicester City are prepared to challenge West Ham if they try to sign Lingard, who is on loan from Manchester United, permanently ahead of next season.

- Still without a club, it remains to be seen where Maurizio Sarri ends up next. CalcioMercato reports Fiorentina again met with the former Juventus and Chelsea boss, but a potential agreement remains complex.

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