Liverpool continue to battle on four fronts after Jakub Kiwior’s own goal and a stoppage-time strike by Luis Diaz sent them through to the FA Cup fourth round with a 2-0 win at Arsenal.

Jurgen Klopp’s side were without captain Virgil van Dijk and Mohamad Salah, but after they were able to ride their luck in north London, stand-in skipper Trent Alexander-Arnold’s excellent late cross forced the opener and Diaz was able to wrap up a hard-fought victory with a powerful late finish.

It inflicted a fourth defeat in seven matches on Arsenal, who fired another blank despite creating a plethora of chances at the Emirates to leave manager Mikel Arteta with problems to solve ahead of their short mid-season break.

The two Premier League title rivals – choosing not to wear red in support of Arsenal’s anti-knife crime initiative – played out a 1-1 draw at Anfield a fortnight ago and while both managers picked strong teams, a handful of changes were made with Aaron Ramsdale given the nod.

The Gunners goalkeeper was immediately into the thick of the action but in an attacking sense with a wonderful pass sending Reiss Nelson through on goal although he could only fire into the side-netting after rounding Alisson.

Nelson had been given a rare starting berth with Eddie Nketiah dropped and Gabriel Jesus out with a knee injury, which resulted in Kai Havertz leading the line.

Havertz tested Alisson with an early curled effort before the opener should have arrived in the 11th minute.

Bukayo Saka robbed Joe Gomez of possession and found the unmarked Havertz, who teed up Nelson and while Ibrahima Konate slide in, Martin Odegaard was first to the loose ball but he crashed an effort against the crossbar and Liverpool survived.

Klopp’s side waited until midway through the first half for their opening chance when Darwin Nunez headed wide from a Harvey Elliott corner.

It did not mark a shift in the ascendancy though with Havertz wasting a fine opening before Alisson tipped over a stinging drive from Ben White.

From the resulting corner Saka picked out Havertz at the back post, but the Germany international headed wide from six yards.

Not even treatment for Liverpool’s young defender Jarell Quansah halted Arsenal’s momentum with Havertz again denied by Alisson a minute before half-time.

Arsenal very nearly paid for their first-half profligacy when Cody Gakpo teed up Alexander-Arnold but the stand-in captain struck the crossbar with his superb 16-yard strike to ensure it remained goalless at the break.

Liverpool initially came out with improved intent for the second half and Curtis Jones curled over before Nunez flashed an effort wide.

Normal service soon resumed with Saka only able to hook over from a Havertz cross, before Alisson showed his class on the hour mark. Another Havertz delivery took a deflection off Quansah and looked to be heading in until the Reds goalkeeper brilliantly clawed the ball away, with Saka slicing wide on the follow-up.

Frustration was growing at the Emirates and as Klopp turned to his bench with Diogo Jota and Ryan Gravenberch introduced, Arteta made his first roll of the dice.

Gabriel Martinelli’s entrance injected renewed hope for an agitated home crowd, but Ramsdale was called upon with 13 minutes remaining to push wide a low effort by Diaz.

Jota headed against the bar from Alexander-Arnold’s resulting corner and yet his next delivery produced the breakthrough.

Odegaard fouled Gravenberch close to the byline and Alexander-Arnold’s fine inswinging cross was headed beyond a diving Ramsdale by the unfortunate Kiwior.

Arsenal pushed for a late leveller but Liverpool’s place in round four was confirmed when Diaz smashed home after a slick counter-attack in the fifth minute of added-time.

Eddie Nketiah feels Arsenal should head into the knockout stage of the Champions League with nothing to fear.

A much-changed Gunners’ side drew 1-1 at PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday night in their final game in Group B.

Both sides were already assured of their place in the last 16 before kick-off at the Philips Stadion, where Nketiah’s first Champions League goal put Arsenal ahead just before half-time. Yorbe Vertessen equalised with a smart finish soon after the restart.

Having won the group, Mikel Arteta’s side will be seeded in the draw for the last 16 on Monday.

And Nketiah sees no reason why Arsenal should not be confident of making a deep run into the competition.

“We are relishing the next round of games,” Nketiah told reporters.

“Playing in this competition, you are always going to get tough draws. Every team in this competition is good and earned the right to play here.

“There is no point being in a competition if you don’t dream to win. We have the quality to do so and we are pushing every day to win every tournament that we enter and play in – that’s our aim and that’s the aim of Arsenal Football Club.

“That’s what the fans want and we are working every day to try and achieve that dream. My dream is to win all of it.

“It (Champions League) is a great competition to be in. We have worked so hard to get there, so we are going to keep pushing every day to deliver and, hopefully, achieve our dreams.”

Nketiah who was one of eight changes for the European tie from the 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa.

The 24-year-old intends to make the most of any chances which come his way.

“Every kid dreams of scoring in the Champions League. It was a nice finish and it was good to get some minutes in the tank,” he said.

“Every game has got a meaning. Although we were through, we wanted to keep winning. We are obsessed with winning, we want to keep pushing.

“For those of us who maybe haven’t played in the last couple of weeks as much as we would have liked, it was a good opportunity to show ourselves and get some sharpness.”

Nketiah added: “I think we are all good players, so we all strive to play at the highest level. I think we have taken to this competition really well.

“We have had a good start and the most important thing is we qualified top and are through. We have enjoyed it and are looking forward to the next round.”

Arsenal host Brighton on Sunday looking to keep up the pressure at the top of the table, now trailing a point behind leaders Liverpool.

Nketiah said: “There are going to be a lot of games, hopefully a lot of minutes to go around. You have just got to be ready.”

Mohamed Elneny and Reiss Nelson both sustained injuries against PSV, so will be assessed ahead of the weekend.

Mikel Arteta believes his Arsenal side have shown enough in the group stage to prove they can compete back in the Champions League.

The Gunners drew 1-1 at PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday night in the final game of Group B – with both sides already assured of their place in the last 16 before kick-off in the Netherlands.

Arteta made eight changes for the game and Eddie Nketiah’s first Champions League goal put them ahead only for Yorbe Vertessen’s smart finish to seal a share of the spoils.

Arsenal had already secured safe passage as group winners on their return to the elite level of European football following a seven-year absence – and Arteta feels his team have proven they belong at the top table.

“Overall, I think, very positive,” he said in his press conference when asked how Arsenal’s return to the Champions League had gone.

“Having not been in the competition for six or seven years and having a team that hasn’t got that much experience, I think we’ve competed really well.

“I really liked the approach of the team in every single game, the way we’ve tried to play. We had some big results and big experiences, like the one we had in Seville or Lens, or even today looking at how the team can act and how fair it is to give certain players that exposure when you make so many changes.

“Overall finishing first with a game to play we have to be really happy. Now we have to now close that chapter until February and make sure that when that chapter opens up again that we’re in the best place to compete against another top side.”

Arteta had taken three young players to the Netherlands but none of them made it onto the pitch, instead Declan Rice was a second-half substitute into the defensive line.

Normally operating in midfield, Arteta admitted he wanted to see how Rice fared at centre-back, adding: “He has played there before.

“We have to try as if we have an emergency, we have to understand and to be sure that we can fill that gap in the right way. He has a lot of composure on the ball, he wins a lot of duels for a player of his size and he has done it in the past. He is a good option.”

Arsenal’s much-changed side were lucky to leave the Netherlands with a 1-1 draw in their dead-rubber Champions League tie against PSV Eindhoven.

A goal apiece either side of half-time saw the top two in Group B share the spoils as Eddie Nketiah’s first Champions League goal was cancelled out by Yorbe Vertessen’s smart finish in a draw.

Manager Mikel Arteta said on the eve of the game that, whoever represented Arsenal had a “duty” to win – but his unfamiliar XI were second-best for much of the night.

Arsenal had already secured top spot in Group B, with PSV assured of qualifying alongside them, and the Gunners showed eight changes to the five alterations made by the hosts.

Despite ringing in the changes, Arteta named first-choice centre-back pairing William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes and the duo were on hand to prevent PSV taking an early lead.

A fine ball from Malik Tillman played in Johan Bakayoko, who squared for Ricardo Pepi – only for a combination of Saliba and recalled goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale to stop a shot, with Gabriel brilliantly blocking the follow-up effort from Patrick van Aanholt.

The Arsenal defence was struggling to prevent the hosts breaking at their goal, even with Saliba and Gabriel present, and Vertessen rattled a post with a header after 19 minutes.

Bakayoko was the next to have Ramsdale diving at full-stretch but his shot from distance flashed just wide of a post.

Arsenal would hit the woodwork themselves just before the half-hour as Mohamed Elneny let fly with a trademark long-range effort that hit the base of a post before a well-worked PSV counter ended with Saliba blocking Pepi’s shot.

Arteta’s side had begun life back in the Champions League after a seven-year absence by easing to victory over PSV at the Emirates in September and, despite this rotated line-up, they would strike first once more.

Nketiah broke the deadlock three minutes before the break with his first proper sight of goal, angling a low drive through the legs of PSV skipper Andre Ramalho and in off the inside of a post.

Ramsdale turned a Bakayoko shot around a post to send Arsenal in ahead at the interval, even though the hosts had dominated for much of the first half.

Vertessen dragged a shot just wide soon after the restart but moments later he deservedly levelled, Saliba this time leaving himself out of position by diving in for an interception and the Belgian curling past Ramsdale.

Arteta made three alterations just after the hour, one enforced as Elneny came off with what appeared to be a thigh problem, with captain Martin Odegaard on in his place, joining both Declan Rice and Ben White off the bench.

Rice went in at centre-back in place of Saliba but was almost caught out minutes later, Ismael Saibari getting the better of the club-record signing before striking a post with Ramsdale beaten.

Jakub Kiwior headed in an Odegaard free-kick with 10 minutes to go but the goal was ruled out for offside against fellow defender Gabriel, who had also attacked the ball.

Not for the first time, Gabriel completely failed to deal with a simple forward ball, leaving Guus Til to burst through and fire wide late on as the tie finished all-square.

Gareth Southgate has been pleased by England’s progress during an unbeaten 2023 but knows there is work to do as the team tries to win the European Championship.

The Euro 2020 runners-up are among the favourites to win in Germany next summer but seemed to lose their edge after sealing qualification with two matches to spare.

Friday’s uninspiring 2-0 Wembley win against minnows Malta was followed three days later by an underwhelming 1-1 draw in North Macedonia as the curtain came down on an undefeated year.

November’s double-header will not live long in the memory but Southgate has “learned a lot” from the fixtures, with attention now intensifying on his fourth – and possibly final – major tournament in the dugout.

“We wanted to look at a few different things as well, so we’ve managed to learn from the game as well as the result,” the England boss said in Skopje.

“I have to be pleased with the progress of the team. You know, if you’d said at the start of the campaign that we would be eight wins, two draws at the end of the year, it’s a pretty good record given the fixtures that we’ve had.

“(North Macedonia) was always a game where we knew if you’d needed to come here for that point to qualify would be a very difficult place to come. They took the draw from Italy as well, so credit to North Macedonia for that.

“We can now start to look forward. We’ve got these two exciting games in March to look forward to and prepare for.

“So, yeah, I think we’ve done a lot of things well, but there’s always room for improvement.”

March’s home friendlies against Brazil and Belgium will provide much-needed challenges in the final meet-up before Southgate selects his 23-man squad for Germany.

Two further preparation games will follow before the Euros get under way, with the December 2 draw in Hamburg providing clarity on next summer’s opposition, base camp and potential route to the final.

England’s draw against Macedonia rubber-stamped their place among the top seeds for the Euro 2024 draw and Southgate said: “In the calendar year we’re eight wins and two draws from a particularly tough qualifying group and certainly a friendly in Scotland that was always going to be challenging.

“Of course, you’d like 10 wins out of 10 but not many teams do that.

“I’m really pleased with what the players have given – not just the players that are here tonight, but the players that have represented us through this year because they’ve been excellent.”

Harry Kane has, unsurprisingly, been among the standout performers this year but questions about the Bayern Munich sharpshooter’s back-up remain.

Callum Wilson, Ivan Toney, Eddie Nketiah and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have all been selected in recent times, but Ollie Watkins is the current frontrunner for the job.

The Aston Villa striker had the chance to underline that status against Macedonia but was replaced by Kane just 58 minutes into a frustrating night in Skopje, where the skipper made an immediate impact as he forced Jani Atanasov into an own goal equaliser.

“Look, it was a difficult game,” Southgate said when asked about Watkins. “Very little space, back five, so we’re dealing with three centre-backs, really, and we weren’t quite able to create the clear chance for him.

“But he did fine. It’s not easy when you’re coming in in those circumstances but that’s international football.

“Of course, he’s had games where there’s been more opportunities to score and he’s done that well with us.

“(This) was a different sort of test and, yeah, as a team, it was hard to find the spaces and find the gaps even though moments Phil (Foden) found lovely little passes and Trent (Alexander-Arnold) did.

“It was so crowded around the edge of that box to find those clear chances for our forwards.”

Mikel Arteta has warned Aaron Ramsdale not to rush any decision over his future after England manager Gareth Southgate told the goalkeeper he could not promise him a place at Euro 2024 if he remains on the bench at Arsenal.

Ramsdale has been called up by Southgate for England’s final two qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia and will be aiming to add to his four senior caps.

However, the 25-year-old has been ousted as Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper since the arrival of David Raya from Brentford and has played just twice since the September international break.

Speaking after naming his latest squad, Southgate said of Ramsdale’s plight: “I think longer-term, we’re just going to have to see how it is. I had that conversation with him in the last camp.

“He’s still battling to be the number one at Arsenal, and his profile and the way he can use the ball with his feet, we like, we think that’s important.

“But there is a reality as a keeper, if we get to March and he’s six months without playing regularly, then I’m never going to promise things that I couldn’t guarantee delivering.”

Arteta has not spoken to Ramsdale about the issue but warned against a January move in a quest to find first-team football.

“First of all my door is open to speak about any player,” he said.

“We just want the best for our players and we try to do that, and we know the influence that we can have – sometimes positively, sometimes not so positively, towards them.

“We will always try to do our best to help them, but this is a team sport that needs 24 players that have to fulfil a role. And the role that you have in August, it might be very different to the one you have in March.

“So making early decisions, in my experience, is not something good at all and as well because the team has certain needs that has to be accomplished. And in order to do that you cannot do it with six, 10 or 14 players. It is impossible. So you need everyone and Aaron has a really important role in the team.

“I have no messages for any clubs (who may look to sign Ramsdale). I can talk a little bit about my players, how much I like my players, how much I like Aaron and that we want Aaron with us, that’s for sure.”

Ramsdale is likely to once again be among the substitutes as Arsenal host Burnley on Saturday night looking to get back to winning ways in the Premier League.

Arteta, though, could be without as many as eight first-team players for the visit of the Clarets as captain Martin Odegaard is “still racing” to be fit, while Bukayo Saka and Takehiro Tomiyasu both came off injured in Wednesday’s Champions League win over Sevilla.

Forwards Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah could miss out with hamstring and ankle injuries respectively, while Thomas Partey, Emile Smith Rowe and Jurrien Timber are definite absentees.

“Some of the injuries that we had, they are some bad luck, some of them have been long-term injuries with some special players and when we didn’t have a lot of depth,” he added.

“We can talk about the depth, but after you have to talk about the specific positions or certain units where we are a little bit shorter.

“But it is the challenge of the season and other people have to step up, and that as well is a good test for the team – how we take those moments and how we actually respond to that. So far, the team is doing well.”

Gareth Southgate insists Raheem Sterling and Ben White have been left out of another England squad purely due to football reasons, but claimed the door is not closed on either.

Southgate named a 25-man group on Thursday for this month’s Euro 2024 qualifiers with Malta and North Macedonia.

John Stones was left out after he suffered an injury in Manchester City’s midweek win over Young Boys and Eddie Nketiah was also absent with an ankle knock, but Southgate declined the chance to recall 82-capped Sterling or Arsenal’s versatile defender White.

Both players have failed to feature in an England squad since the World Cup, where White headed home early after the group stage and Sterling briefly left the camp after his family home had been burgled.

Southgate said: “The door is 100 per cent open not only for Raheem but for other players. There’s no doubt about that.

“We don’t need to know about his quality, his personality. He is a crucial part of why we’ve had the journey we’ve had over the last few years.

“I can only repeat what I’ve said in the last few squad selection meetings. The team are playing really well.

“We had an exceptional win against Italy last time around. Who do we leave out to put him in? It is as simple as that really.

“He wasn’t available in March or June and the team started on a good run. We won in Italy for the first time in 60 years, the two performances in June were excellent, so we stuck with that group.

“There is no question Raheem is looking dangerous for his club, he looks invigorated since the start of the season.

“(But) that is an area of the pitch where we’ve probably got as much competition for places as anywhere.

“You look and Jarrod Bowen has got seven goals this season already, Anthony Gordon is playing very well at Newcastle, Cole Palmer is starting to play well. It is just a change in landscape there.”

White has played four times for England since his debut in 2021, but Southgate again pointed to the quality of personnel in the right-back area as a reason behind his continued absence.

“I assume so,” Southgate replied when asked if White was available for selection.

“Ben’s been very solid for Arsenal. He is a different profile of full-back.

“He is a centre-back playing full-back really and obviously he’s doing a good job for his club, but he’s behind others.

“We’ve got Kyle (Walker), Kieran (Trippier), we’ve got Trent (Alexander-Arnold), Reece James, so it is a position where we’ve got strength.

“There are a couple of good young ones coming through and again we’re on a good run. The defence are playing well, so that’s where we’re at.”

Chelsea captain James is fit again after a hamstring injury, but requested to be left out of the squad after it had been expected he would replace Stones.

Southgate added: “I was hoping to call up Reece James, but he doesn’t feel he is quite ready and I understand that.

“He’s had a long path back from a number of injuries and he’s cautious in that respect. I can understand why.

“I am really disappointed for John. The quality of his play is outstanding. He’s having a difficult time injury-wise at the moment, so that’ a shame to see him out.

“As you say, it gives other people an opportunity and we do need to know a little bit more about some of the players in that area of the pitch.”

Meanwhile, Southgate paid tribute to Sir Bobby Charlton, who died last month and will be honoured in England’s home fixture with Malta next week.

“I think he is respected around the world and clearly our greatest ever player when you think of not only the World Cup, but also winning the European Cup and everything he did at club level,” he reflected.

“Very sad. We were fortunate to have met him a few times and incredibly humble, so yes our condolences with all his family but hopefully we get the chance to honour him at Wembley and it will be a celebration of life because he absolutely deserves that.”

England manager Gareth Southgate resisted the temptation to make changes to his latest squad ahead of the final Euro 2024 qualification double-header.

Southgate’s side are already assured of a spot in next summer’s finals in Germany but it was a 25-man squad of familiar names picked for the home game against Malta and a trip to North Macedonia later this month.

From the previous squad, Manchester City defender John Stones missed out through injury but was not replaced, while Eddie Nketiah has an ankle issue and Newcastle’s Callum Wilson came in to replace the Arsenal striker.

Southgate insisted the door remains open for Raheem Sterling, who has now missed the last five international camps since being part of the squad for the World Cup in Qatar last year.

He said: “Well, the door is 100 per cent open not only for Raheem but for other players not in the squad.

“We don’t need to know about his quality, his personality. He is a crucial part of why we’ve had the journey we’ve had over the last few years.

“I can only repeat what I have said in the meetings, we’re playing exceptionally well and who can I leave out?”

Southgate expressed his disappointment that Stones had sustained another injury and revealed Reece James asked not to be included in the squad after only recently returning to action after a hamstring issue.

“I am really disappointed for John,” Southgate admitted.

“The quality of his play is outstanding. He’s having a difficult time injury-wise at the moment, but it gives others an opportunity and we do need to know a little bit more about other players in that area of the pitch.”

On James, Southgate revealed: “I was hoping to call Reece James, but he doesn’t feel he is quite ready and I understand that.”

There are injury doubts over James Maddison (ankle), Jude Bellingham (shoulder), Bukayo Saka (ankle) and Wilson (hamstring).

Southgate acknowledged: “You would be amazed at how complicated it is picking a squad because all clubs are sensitive to information. I couldn’t be certain that everyone in that squad will be there on Sunday night and Callum Wilson is the biggest doubt, but equally I am pretty confident the others can get through.”

Southgate paid tribute to England World Cup-winner Sir Bobby Charlton, who died last month.

“So much has been said and it is difficult to add anything that carries further weight,” Southgate said at Wembley.

“Respected around the world and clearly our greatest ever player when you think of not only the World Cup, but winning the European Cup.

“Very sad. We were fortunate to have met him a few times and incredibly humble, so yes our condolences to all family and hopefully we get the chance to honour him in a celebration of life (against Malta) because he absolutely deserves that.”

Arsenal took a huge step towards qualifying for the knock-out stages of the Champions League as Bukayo Saka starred in victory over Sevilla before limping off late on.

Saka set up the opening goal for Leandro Trossard before scoring the second himself as the Gunners secured a straightforward 2-0 win at the Emirates Stadium that leaves them on the cusp of the last 16.

Mikel Arteta opted to play Trossard through the middle as his central striker with Eddie Nketiah joining Gabriel Jesus in the treatment room, with the Belgium forward the only change from Saturday’s contentious defeat at Newcastle.

There was not such drama here although four early fouls on Saka went unpunished as both Nemanja Gudelj and Kike Salas left their mark on the England international.

Kai Havertz, without a goal from open play since his £65million summer move from Chelsea, fluffed his lines with an early headed chance, but Arsenal set out their intent from the off.

Saka went down again under close contact from Salas, but this time Romanian referee Istvan Kovacs was unmoved as the hosts wanted a penalty.

Just moments later, however, and the deadlock was broken. The lively Saka unsurprisingly laying on the assist for Trossard to tap home – but Jorginho was the architect with a slide-rule pass to start the move.

It proved to be the only shot on target of a forgettable first half as Sevilla, without a LaLiga or Champions League win under head coach Diego Alonso since his appointment last month.

Havertz bent an effort inches wide as Arsenal went in search of a second after the break and Trossard should have done better soon after, but curled his strike the wrong side of the post.

It was Saka, though, who made the difference once again, beating the offside trap to race onto a Gabriel Martinelli pass before cutting inside Adria Pedrosa and tucking home with aplomb.

Gabriel Jesus had provided the goal and assist that ultimately saw off Sevilla in Spain a fortnight ago, but he was injured during the game and has not played since.

The same went for Saka here, who fell awkwardly and limped off with five minutes to go, with England manager Gareth Southgate – who announces his next squad on Thursday – watching from the stands.

Arteta had said on the eve of the game that Arsenal should “put to bed” qualification for the last 16 with two games to spare and his players did their bit.

But PSV Eindhoven’s win over Lens leaves Group B open, although a draw against the Ligue 1 side at the Emirates Stadium in three weeks time would be enough for Arteta’s side to advance.

Eddie Nketiah dedicated his first Premier League hat-trick to his recently deceased aunt after his treble sank Sheffield United.

The newly-capped England striker put the Blades to the sword, scoring the opening three goals before a Fabio Vieira penalty and a first Arsenal strike for Takehiro Tomiyasu wrapped up a convincing 5-0 win.

The result takes the Gunners two points off the top of the table, with Mikel Arteta’s side unbeaten in their first 10 league games of the campaign.

Nketiah, who has started eight of those matches, had not scored since August but topped a special day by finishing the game wearing the captain’s armband.

“To do it at Emirates Stadium, in the Premier League, in front of my family and friends is an amazing feeling,” the 24-year-old said of his hat-trick.

“I lost my aunt not too long ago and I just want to dedicate that to her and her family.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dreamt of this moment – to get three goals in a Premier League match.

“I’m a childhood supporter of the club, so to do it in front of the fans, my friends, my family and my teammates is an amazing feeling. It’s a day I’ll remember forever.”

There could another goal for Nketiah after he picked the ball up to take a late penalty, given after a lengthy VAR check for a foul on substitute Vieira.

Instead, the Portugal midfielder asked to take the spot-kick himself to mark a special moment in his life.

“I was going to take it – I wanted to take it,” explained Nketiah.

“I always want to get more goals. Fabio came to me and he wanted to take it. He won the penalty as well. He’s expecting a little one and it was a really good moment for him to get on the scoresheet and dedicate it.

“I’m a team player – I’d scored a hat-trick and I could allow other players to get in on the act. He took the penalty and scored, so we’re happy.”

Captain Oliver Norwood conceded the penalty as Sheffield United slumped to another defeat that leaves them bottom of the table and with just one point from 10 games.

He was bullish when asked about the performance in north London.

“It is very disappointing,” he said.

“We go in at half-time 1-0 down. Second half it’s difficult to really come and speak and say too much other than it’s not acceptable to keep losing the way that we are.

“It is easy to stand and say ‘we stick together through the hard times’, it’s easy to say that, but now we’ve got to show it.

“We’ve got to really dig in, have a look in the mirror at ourselves individually, because it’s not good enough.”

Mikel Arteta hailed “top-level” Eddie Nketiah after the England striker hit a first Premier League hat-trick in a convincing 5-0 win over bottom club Sheffield United.

Nketiah scored the first three goals as the Gunners ran out comfortable victors, with Fabio Vieira’s penalty and Takehiro Tomiyasu’s first goal for the club completing the rout.

The victory took Arsenal up to second place, two points behind leaders and north London rivals Tottenham as Arteta’s men remain unbeaten after 10 league games.

With Gabriel Jesus facing a few weeks out with a hamstring issue, Nketiah has once again been tasked with filling his boots at centre-forward.

His touch and finish for the opening goal proved he can do the job as the England international set the Gunners on their way to a victory over the rock bottom Blades.

He doubled the lead after half-time and rifled home a memorable third – before ending the game with the captain’s armband.

“For me, he’s top-level,” Arteta said after the win.

“He has started eight out of the 10 Premier League games. So that tells you how much we trust him, how much I trust him and and the importance that he has in the team.

“I’m really happy for him, an academy player to experience in the Premier League a hat-trick. He needs to enjoy the moment. He fully deserves it and hopefully there are many more to come.

“He’s got an eye for goal. You look at the stats from his last 10 years. What he’s done is remarkable and he needs minutes, opportunities and service and if he gets that, Eddie is going to score goals, that’s for sure.”

Arsenal are yet to suffer a league defeat this season but Arteta revealed he gave his players an “alert” in training this week after some tough fixtures either side of the October international break.

“They took the game in a really serious way because I gave them on Thursday a big alert because of the context and the difference in the game that we have to play today with the previous Man City,
Chelsea and Sevilla games and I’m really happy how they approached it.

“Obviously they come from the national team, so we beat City, we come from national team, we have to go to Stamford Bridge and we did what we did in Stamford Bridge.

“Then you have to go to Seville and that’s a really really stressful week with what they were experiencing in the last few weeks as well.”

Sheffield United remain bottom and with just one point from their opening nine games.

Paul Heckingbottom’s side are also struggling with injuries – but he was not ready to use that as an excuse for a bad day at the office.

“Arsenal had a lot of the ball first half but Wes (Foderingham) had one save to make,” he said.

“Second half, the goals were really poor that we conceded and probably a reflection of how I thought the game was – they outfought us as well as outplayed us in the first half and that is what good teams can do.

“We are down to the bare bones and missing some big personalities and physicality.”

Gabriel Jesus believes he can finally win the Champions League and has told his Arsenal team-mates to share the faith.

The Brazil forward has a love affair with Europe’s premiere club competition and was the difference-maker as Arsenal won 2-1 at Sevilla on Tuesday night.

Jesus provided a moment of magic to lay on the opening goal for compatriot Gabriel Martinelli before curling home a fine individual effort – although his celebrations were curtailed as he limped off with 10 minutes to go.

The former Manchester City striker, who came off the bench when Pep Guardiola’s side lost the 2021 Champions League final to Chelsea, has a phenomenal strike-rate in the competition – his goal at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium was his 23rd in 41 appearances for City and Arsenal.

He still harbours ambitions of winning the trophy and feels it is something he and his colleagues can achieve this season.

“It’s a competition that I love,” he said after his man-of-the-match display.

“All the competitions I love, because I just love to play football. But I don’t know, since day one in the Champions League, my debut, I scored goals.

“I haven’t won it yet, so I am looking for this, for this beautiful trophy. Obviously it is not easy, but I think we have to believe. If we don’t believe, we cannot be here.”

While his goal was a moment to savour, Jesus’ role in Martinelli’s opening effort will live long in the memory as a deft touch took two Sevilla midfielders out of the game.

A perfectly-weighted slide-rule pass played in Martinelli who, having missed a golden chance to break the deadlock earlier in the game, obliged with a cool finish as the two Brazil internationals combined to great effect.

“I think for me as the type of player I am, I drop a lot more on the left side than the right side,” Jesus replied when asked about his relationship and understanding playing alongside Martinelli.

“Obviously I drop on the right as well to help B (Bukayo Saka) and to play with B, but I drop more on the left. It works.

“The wingers we have, not just Martinelli and B, but Reiss (Nelson), Leo (Trossard) and even Eddie (Nketiah) or Fabio (Vieira) when they play there, they are quality players.

“I just go out wide and I try to play short passes and give them the ball, and they try to find me as well. It worked with Martinelli and I am very happy.”

Mikel Arteta’s side return to domestic action when they welcome Premier League bottom club Sheffield United to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Gunners are unbeaten in their opening nine league games of the campaign and Jesus could yet be involved despite limping off late on in Spain.

“I felt something. Let’s see,” he said. “I did some tests with the physio, it looks not that big, but let’s see. I have a scan, maybe tomorrow. I’m pretty sure it will be nothing.”

Gareth Southgate says facing “revitalised” Italy will be a great test of where England are at as they attempt to seal European Championship qualification with two matches to spare.

The Euro 2020 runners-up can wrap up their place at next summer’s finals in Germany in Tuesday evening’s mouthwatering Group C clash against the Azzurri at a sold-out Wembley.

It will be the nations’ fourth meeting since Italy beat England on spot-kicks in the Euros final just over two years ago but their first reunion under the arch, with their previous meetings coming in Wolverhampton, Milan and Naples.

The Azzurri return to Wembley a far different side from when they became continental champions there, with Luciano Spalletti in charge of a new-look team that host Malta on Saturday evening before heading to London.

“Italy look revitalised under Spalletti,” Southgate said. “They were excellent against Ukraine last month. They’re a top-10 nation.

“We’ve talked about these top-10 games and the importance of them, the challenge of them.

“We have the chance to qualify for the European Championships with two games to spare.

“But also it’s a great test of where we are as a team and, yeah, it’s a challenge we’re really looking forward to.”

The Euro 2024 qualifier completes England’s October doubleheader at Wembley after securing an unconvincing 1-0 friendly win against unfancied Australia on Friday.

Returning Ollie Watkins secured Southgate’s much-changed side victory against the surprisingly dangerous Socceroos on a night when stand-in skipper Jordan Henderson was booed off the field.

The England boss defended the Al-Ettifaq midfielder and felt his experience was key having taken a risk by making 10 alterations in an experimental line-up against the Aussies.

“I don’t think it was a win because of how we played,” Southgate said. “We had enough quality on the pitch to be able to create a couple of important moments.

“But we know that all the changes, the inexperience of the team, made it was really tough for the players that played. I set them a really difficult challenge.

“It was great that they got the win. It was important to keep winning because if we if we lose the game or you give a goal away at the end then you leave here on a bit of a low. It sets the game up now with Italy.

“In the end, it’s very hard to prepare the squad when they know ultimately this week really is about the Italy game and it’s impossible to dress that up any other way.

“But for the players that played, for some of them their Wembley debut, for some of them their England debut. Massively important nights for them.”

Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah made his England debut as a second-half substitute against Australia, while versatile Chelsea defender Levi Colwill made his bow from the start.

“Important first steps for them,” Southgate said of the debutants.

“I mean, Levi is a young defender. We know he’s not a left-back first choice, but he’s filling that slot for his club.

“What we tried to do is start with a team where everybody was pretty much in the roles they’re playing with their clubs, so that it was as smooth as it could be.

“But in the knowledge that we didn’t have a lot of caps on the field, we didn’t have a lot of leadership.

“Normally, we’d be putting one or two of those lads in with a lot more experience and a lot more continuity, so it was extremely hard for that group of players.”

Southgate came away from a challenging friendly pleased with a number of individual displays, highlighting Trent Alexander-Arnold’s problem-solving as he learns more about being a midfielder.

Matchwinner Watkins’ movement and positioning was praised after scoring on his first England appearance since March 2022, while Lewis Dunk’s development continues to impress his boss.

The Brighton defender won his third cap in central defence alongside Fikayo Tomori, who was replaced by John Stones in the 62nd minute as he continues his recovery from a hip issue.

“Thirty minutes for John Stones was very important for us, to get him onto the pitch,” Southgate said of the Manchester City defender, who made his first Premier League appearance last weekend.

“We’re managing that recovery carefully, we’re combining really well with his club on all of that.

“But he’s a world-class player, and it was great to get him up and running.”

England manager Gareth Southgate is hoping for a positive update on Bukayo Saka after selecting the Arsenal star despite fears over his fitness.

Having failed to finish the matches against Tottenham and Bournemouth, the 22-year-old again left the field early in Tuesday’s 2-1 Champions League defeat at Lens.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta admitted afterwards that it “didn’t look good” for Saka, yet the forward was still named in Southgate’s 26-man squad two days later.

The England boss is awaiting news on the national team’s back-to-back men’s player of the year and has not given up on him being available for this month’s double-header against Australia and Italy.

“He’s still being assessed,” Southgate said of Saka, who faces a race to be involved for Arsenal against Manchester City on Sunday before attention turns to international matters.

“Obviously, they’ve got a big game this weekend and then there’s another seven days before we play Australia and 10 days before we play Italy as well.

“So, everybody will monitor everything as we go forward.”

England could wrap up their place at Euro 2024 this month, with the Wembley qualifier against Italy following their friendly under the arch against Australia.

Uncapped Levi Colwill and Eddie Nketiah got the nod along for the October fixtures, while Ollie Watkins received his first call-up since March 2022 and Jarrod Bowen returned for the first time since that September.

But there was no place for Mason Mount, James Ward-Prowse or Raheem Sterling, with the latter having not added to his 82 caps since the 2022 World Cup.

Asked if he spoke to Chelsea forward Sterling like he did last month, Southgate said; “No, we spoke before the last squad.

“As I said, we’ve been happy with the wide players and the performances in the last four games, in particular, and the two in March. The team are playing really well, so clearly there’s some stability there.

“We have added Jarrod Bowen in those wide areas – I mean, he scored five in seven games, he’s playing really well.

“With the Australia game as well, there’s an opportunity to learn some different things as well.”

On Watkins, who Southgate saw score a hat-trick for Aston Villa against Brighton at the weekend, he said: “There’s a little bit with Callum Wilson as well, so he’s carrying an injury.

“Not certain he’d be available. Ollie has started the season well. He’s hit a bit of scoring form in the last couple of weeks.

“You have to be careful with that because you can’t just go on recency bias when you’re looking at selection, but he is in good form.

“He’s obviously coming in on a high and he’s been with this before.

“We know his character, we know his personality. He’s a good guy around the around the group.

“Team are playing well, he’s playing for a club that are really well coached and the team are in a good moment.”

Ben Chilwell and Eberechi Eze join Wilson in missing this month’s matches through injury, while Harry Maguire, Jordan Henderson and Kalvin Phillips retain their place despite questions over their spots.

John Stones returned having missed a September camp that ended with a 3-1 win in Scotland, who are vying with England for Elliot Anderson’s international future.

The 20-year-old left the last Scottish camp after two days following his first call-up to the full squad and last week indicated he wanted more time to consider his international future.

“I haven’t (spoken to him),” Southgate said of the Newcastle talent. “I mean those things (Football Association technical director) John McDermott deals with that, really.

“So, I think we’re the same as Steve. We’re respectful that those sorts of decisions are big decisions and we don’t want to pressure anybody.

“We like Elliot, we think he’s a very good player, got high potential.

“He’s obviously at a club that are absolutely flying, so, yeah, we’ll just have to wait and see.

“But we’re very much respectful that if he needs time to think that through we completely understand.”

Eddie Nketiah insists he never felt that his chance to represent England had passed him, by even after Arsenal team-mates Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe got the jump on him on the international stage.

The 24-year-old, England’s all-time record goalscorer at Under-21 level, received his first senior call-up for the upcoming games against Ukraine and Scotland but is now ready to make his “own story” with Gareth Southgate’s side.

Nketiah made his Arsenal debut six years ago and last turned out for the Under-21s in 2021.

He has scored 34 goals in 136 games for the Gunners, starting with a memorable home debut off the bench against Norwich – scoring a brace to secure victory in an EFL Cup tie.

Despite bursting onto the scene, Nketiah’s options were limited to the lesser cup competitions and a disappointing loan spell at Leeds in the Sky Bet Championship was seen as another setback.

All the while, Saka and Smith Rowe were emerging as the next precocious academy talent off the Hale End production line – the former now a firm favourite of England boss Gareth Southgate.

Asked if he was concerned he may have missed his own international opportunity, Nketiah replied: “I’m still young.

“Everyone’s journey is different. In this day and age everyone needs to focus on their own story and their own journey, not look at anyone else’s. Our career paths have been totally different. We’ve had different opportunities at different times.

“I’ve always been someone who’s trusted in God, trust in myself, believe in the process step by step. It might not always happen exactly when you want it but if you keep putting in the work and doing the right things it will come.

“I am playing for a great club and a big club at Arsenal. These tough games will be a different and new experience but it is about doing as well as I can, showing my quality this week, and hopefully getting an opportunity to go out there and help the team.

“I think I am a much better player now than I was two or three years ago. It is really nice and I am coming in at a good time.

“I feel confident and I feel ready to continue to improve – that is the thing, I’m still young and humble enough to know I am not the finished article.

“Coming away with these players and being able to show my quality and learn from them is really good for me and (to) continue to take those steps in my career.”

Nketiah could have opted to switch allegiances, with Ghana – the birthplace of his parents – putting feelers out to attract him to play for the Black Stars.

But, once the England call came, the former Chelsea youngster knew he had made the right decision.

He added: “I think obviously both sides were always an option.

“I think naturally coming through the academy at England, you have the aspiration to play here and once the call-up was there and the offer was on the table it was really hard to turn down, something which I felt was a natural progression for myself at this stage.

“I felt now was a good time to make that step so obviously I’m really happy to be here and proud to be here. Hopefully I can go on and help the team this week and get some caps.”

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