Mikel Arteta believes Premier League officiating has improved since his “strong” criticism of VAR following Arsenal’s defeat at Newcastle in November.

The Spaniard labelled the decision to allow Anthony Gordon’s goal to stand in a 1-0 loss at St James’ Park as “embarrassing” and a “disgrace”.

Arteta was later charged by the FA for breaking Rule E3.1 – which could have resulted in a ban but was instead cleared in December.

Arsenal now host Newcastle on Saturday looking to keep up the pace in the Premier League title race, as well as bounce back from their 1-0 Champions League last-16 first-leg defeat in Porto on Wednesday.

Asked if he had seen an improvement in officiating and VAR since his post-match rant – which was backed up by an official statement from the club – Arteta replied: “Well that is what we all wanted.

“That at the end the decisions are better and I think the last stats that came across show that there was a significant improvement and a lot of the decisions they were getting right, so hopefully that is the case and we continue to do that.

“I talked the way I felt. I was very straight and I did it in a way that was pretty strong but within the law because I didn’t get charged for it and I think that tells the story.”

After impressive away wins at West Ham and Burnley, Arsenal suffered defeat in Portugal on Wednesday night to leave their Champions League progression in the balance.

Porto did a great job of slowing the game down at the Estadio do Dragao, with 36 fouls awarded – a Champions League record this season – before Galeno hit a last-gasp winner.

Speaking after the game, Declan Rice said that Arsenal need to improve their “savviness” while Arteta admits his players need to develop their level of streetwise.

“Yes, we certainly can develop a lot of things and those experiences are really relevant to judge whether we were or we weren’t,” he replied when asked if the team need to improve their darks arts.

“I believed that they did a lot of things right. But managing games and things like that, we can still improve.

“But in a year’s time for sure we can still improve and we can improve in our build-up phase and we can improve in our restarts. We can improve in many areas.

“I don’t know if it is about (being) a bad guy but you have to be tricky, you have to be smart, you have to be streetwise and you have to try to take advantages in every situation. They know that.
 
“That’s a thing that has to be developed – you don’t have it, that’s for sure. The best teams, the best players, they have that.”

Arteta revealed that Thomas Partey could return on Saturday evening, with a number of other recent injury absentees pushing to be in contention.

Partey has not played since suffering a thigh injury in October, while Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko could also return – while Takehiro Tomiyasu is still out.

Arteta also offered up good news on Jurrien Timber’s return – the summer signing having been out since suffering a serious knee injury on his Premier League debut in August.

Asked if Timber could play again this season, the Spaniard said: “I really hope so. He’s doing really well.

“He’s been with some players on the pitch. He’s going to start to do some bits with us on the pitch in the next week or so.

“Then we’ll have to see how he’s doing, his confidence level, his fitness level. Hopefully the answer will be yes.”

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe has insisted Manchester United will not get sporting director Dan Ashworth on the cheap.

Ashworth was placed on garden leave earlier this week after telling the club he wanted to leave St James’ Park after just 20 months to take up a similar role at Old Trafford.

New Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has made Ashworth’s recruitment a priority and has railed against suggestions that his release could cost £20million, describing the prospect of the 52-year-old facing up to 18 months in limbo under the terms of his contract with the Magpies as “completely stupid”.

Asked how important it was that the hierarchy on Tyneside got the best possible deal, head Howe coach Howe said: “In these situations, it’s about Newcastle, from our perspective.

“But that is for other people to make those decisions, I’m not involved in that in any way, shape or form. I’m preparing the team to play Arsenal.”

Ashworth’s impending departure has come as a huge blow to the Magpies’ ownership group, which lured him from Brighton to oversee its plans for a successful long-term future.

After the renowned administrator informed the club of his wish to leave, Howe, who had formed a close working relationship with the former Football Association technical director, voiced his fears over the intelligence he could take with him.

Asked if he had spoken to Ashworth this week, he said, “No” before adding, “No, that’s a lie. I have, yes”.

Although he declined to reveal what was said, Howe insisted they had parted on good terms.

Newcastle launched the search for a replacement as they confirmed Ashworth’s decision and Howe, who revealed he will have an input but not the final say, is hoping the successful candidate will prove a long-term appointment.

He said: “Ideally in that role, you are in the position for a long period of time. It’s a bit like being an academy manager, you’re not going to see the end result of your work for many years because you’re putting things in place.

“That’s the same as a sporting director. It’s a longer term role, ideally.”

In the meantime, Howe’s attention is firmly on Saturday’s trip to the Emirates Stadium and the prospect of trying to keep the Gunners and in particular in-form England international Bukayo Saka, in check.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta left St James’ furious after a 1-0 defeat on November 4 with Anthony Gordon’s winning goal surviving three different VAR checks, although his Magpies’ counterpart does not believe there is any bad blood between the clubs.

Howe said: “Mikel is a very passionate guy, he will defend his team. I am the same, I will defend my team. I like to think there is a lot of mutual respect between us both.”

Former Gunners midfielder Joe Willock could be included in the squad for the first time since suffering an Achilles injury in November, while striker Alexander Isak has a chance of returning after a three-game absence with a groin problem.

Declan Rice admits Arsenal need to find their Champions League “savvy” as Mikel Arteta’s young side continue to learn on the job.

The Gunners lost the first leg of their last 16 tie away to Porto on Wednesday night as Galeno’s brilliant last-gasp strike earned the hosts a 1-0 victory.

It extends Arsenal’s wretched record in Champions League knockout games – they still have not won outside of the group stages since 2010, having exited at the last-16 stage for seven consecutive years under Arsene Wenger.

Arteta secured a return to the top table of European football for the first time since 2017 but Arsenal’s hopes of progressing further suffered a blow at the Estadio do Dragao.

From their starting XI in Porto, only Kai Havertz had any previous experience of playing a Champions League knockout game and Rice conceded that lack of nous cost Arsenal late on.

“I think the last minute is probably a bit of inexperience,” he replied when asked if Arteta’s young team were on a steep learning curve.

“Just probably having a bit more savviness, in terms of it’s the 93rd minute, you look up at the clock, it’s 0-0, we gave a ball away on the edge of our box twice and then he bends one in the top bins.

“So we have got to have a bit of savviness to see out the game, because if you can’t win, definitely don’t lose – especially in a knockout game. But look, we are still positive. It is half-time in a two-leg tie and we will be ready for the next leg.

“You look at our team, we are such a young group. Some of us have not played in the Champions League before, so it is all about learning on the job.

“But we have to play better than we did tonight. They made it really tough, but in the second leg we will be ready to go and give it everything.

“I think it is good to have nerves – you get that experience and you need that to play in the biggest games. Whether there is nerves or no nerves, I think these are the type of games we need to learn from on the way and it is going to make us better overall.”

While the disappointment from the defeat will linger until the return leg at the Emirates Stadium on March 12, Rice knows Arsenal cannot suffer a Champions League hangover.

They are back in Premier League action as they host Newcastle on Saturday.

“Look, we have lost games this year and drawn games, and I have seen the changing room after and it’s been really bad when we have lost and drawn games,” added England international Rice.

“But here, we have just lost, but in there is a real positivity around the group at the minute, around the club.

“We have had such a good start to 2024, I think we take the positives from this game tonight, but also see where we can improve. It is going to be a big game in two weeks’ time and we will be ready for it.”

Mikel Arteta bemoaned a lack of aggression from his Arsenal side in the Champions League defeat at Porto but said it would be “cruel” to judge their return to the knockout stages on the last-gasp goal that settled the contest.

The Gunners’ hopes of reaching the quarter-finals for the first time in 14 years suffered a blow as Galeno’s fine late strike saw Porto win 1-0 in the last 16 first-leg tie.

With the second leg at the Emirates Stadium on March 12, Arteta now knows his side must win on home soil to reach the business end of the Champions League on their long-awaited return.

Arsenal, more than anyone, know there are no easy games at this stage of Europe’s elite club competition – having fallen at this hurdle seven years in a row under Arsene Wenger.

This is their first time back at this level since the last of those in 2017 and it proved much more challenging than the recent Premier League thrashings of West Ham and Burnley for a team inexperienced on these occasions – Kai Havertz the only player from the starting XI with any previous appearances in the Champions League knockout phases.

The vistiors failing to register a shot on target on a tough night at the Estadio do Dragao with Porto more than a match for the Gunners, frustrating the visitors for much of the evening and ultimately capitalising on some lapse defending to secure a late victory.

“Obviously I am very disappointed the way we gave the game away at the end,” Arteta said.

“Not managing that situation well enough. You get punished in the Champions League. If you cannot win it, you don’t lose it.

“We really dominated the game but we lacked purpose, especially in the first half. You need to have much more aggression, you need to break lines, to play forward and generate much more threat on that backline.

“We will learn from it. Now it is clear, it is half-time. If you want to be in the quarter-finals you have to beat your opponent and that will be the purpose and the plan.”

Asked if his team were naive to fall to defeat in such a way, Arteta added: “Well it’s only the last ball, so if in 94 minutes they haven’t had any naivety other than that one.

“I think it’s a bit cruel to judge it. But it’s true that it has had a big impact on the result. A lot of other things they did for the first time here were very good. When you give the ball away three times in that area – you cannot do it.”

Arteta also criticised the performance of referee Serdar Gozubuyuk, who awarded 36 fouls – the most in a Champions League game this season – and often spent time ahead of set-pieces speaking to players in the box.

“From set-pieces as well every time we touched somebody it seemed to be a foul before we even kicked the ball. But we will learn and do better,” added the Spaniard.

Porto, captained by 40-year-old Pepe, appeared much more streetwise to the task at hand, leaving head coach Sergio Conceicao happy with the result.

He said: “The team understood perfectly the spaces they had to step into to condition our opponents and also what we had to do up front to hurt them.

“It was a good game, a Champions League game. Our opponents had more of the ball, but Porto were always more dangerous.”

Victor Osimhen rescued Napoli a 1-1 home draw against Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie in his first appearance for the Italian club since December.

Osimhen, who had served a ban in Napoli’s previous game after returning from Africa Cup of Nations duty for runners-up Nigeria, stole clear in the penalty area with 15 minutes remaining to fire home an equaliser.

Barcelona had taken a deserved lead on the hour-mark through Robert Lewandowski’s 93rd Champions League goal.

It was Napoli’s first game since they sacked head coach Walter Mazzarri after three months in charge and replaced him with Slovakian Francesco Calzona.

Porto winger Galeno’s stunning stoppage-time winner clinched his side a 1-0 win against Arsenal in the first leg of their tie.

Arsenal looked set to return to London all-square after a cagey tactical battle at Estadio do Dragao, but Brazilian Galeno crashed home a shot from outside the box in the fourth minute of added time.

The Gunners, bidding to reach the tournament’s last eight for the first time since 2010, created few chances, while Galeno struck a post with a close-range effort in the first half.

Kai Havertz had Arsenal’s best two chances late in the first half, firing off target from six yards before heading Bukayo Saka’s corner just wide.

The two sides will meet in the return leg at the Emirates Stadium on March 12.

Arsenal’s hopes of reaching the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in 14 years suffered a blow as they slipped to a last-gasp defeat in the first leg of their last 16 clash in Porto.

On the eve of the tie, Mikel Arteta challenged his players to prove they belong on this stage but they laboured for large parts of the game and failed to register a shot on target throughout a largely drab affair, losing 1-0 at the death courtesy of a stunning Galeno strike.

With the second leg at the Emirates Stadium on March 12, Arteta now knows his side must win on home soil to reach the business end of the Champions League on their long-awaited return.

Arsenal, more than anyone, know there are no easy games at this stage of Europe’s elite club competition – having fallen at this hurdle seven years in a row under Arsene Wenger.

This is their first time back at this level since the last of those in 2017 and it proved much more challenging than the recent Premier League thrashings of West Ham and Burnley.

Porto currently sit third in the Primeira Liga, off the pace of their big rivals Benfica and Sporting Lisbon, but they were a match for the Gunners, frustrating the visitors for much of the evening.

Declan Rice was walking a tightrope for almost the entirety of the contest after he was booked for a late challenge on Galeno with just 67 seconds on the clock.

Arsenal were not at their recent, slick best and were very fortunate not to fall behind just before the midway point of the first half as Galeno wasted two great chances in quick succession.

After a cross dropped to him in the box, with the Brazilian fizzing a shot off the far post and then somehow turned the rebound wide for six yards – the home fans flummoxed as they celebrated along with the music that greets a goal for the hosts inside the Estadio do Dragao.

The let-off failed to rouse Arsenal from something of a slumber, but they did finally have their first shot on the evening after 33 minutes and should have taken the lead themselves soon after only for William Saliba to head a Bukayo Saka corner wide.

Porto were still the more likely to open the scoring, though, as Evanilson drew a low save out of David Raya with what proved to be the only shot on target from either side until the late winner.

Kai Havertz, who scored the winning goal in a Champions League final in this stadium for Chelsea, was next to miss the target with a header from a Saka corner.

Set-pieces certainly seemed Arsenal’s best way to goal and Leandro Trossard will feel he should have done better as he peeled off to the back post from a corner early in the second half, only to fire Rice’s centre harmlessly over.

There were no other opportunities of note until the dying embers, when Galeno collected the ball and brilliantly bent a finish over the out-stretched Raya as the whole Porto bench burst onto the pitch in celebration.

For Arsenal, they return to their Premier League title challenge knowing their backs are against the wall in their quest to progress in Europe.

Mikel Arteta insists Arsenal’s Champions League history is irrelevant and challenged his side to prove they belong at the tournament’s business end as they prepare to face Porto in the last 16.

The Gunners are back in Europe’s elite club competition for the first time in seven years but have failed to progress past this stage since 2010.

Arsenal will be firm favourites at the Estadio do Dragao on Wednesday night as Arteta looks to go further in the Champions League than he ever managed as a player at the club.

“They (the players) know that we have not been in the competition for seven years,” the Spaniard said.

“Obviously some of them were here and they know the story and they know that what happened in the past is irrelevant, it is the challenge and ambition that we have now to go through.”

Asked if he felt it was a mental block that caused Arsene Wenger’s side to fall at the last-16 hurdle so many times, Arteta replied: “Someone called (Lionel) Messi was another obstacle as well!

“And Bayern Munich that we faced twice. This competition is what it is. Individual quality is extremely important. It comes down to details and you need your players at your best when the occasion arises.”

Arteta’s young squad had very little Champions League experience heading into a group stage they dominated, winning four games and progressing as winners with a fixture to spare.

Now the knockout stages present another chance for both manager and team to prove they belong at this level.

“We don’t have the experience, that’s the reality – 95 per cent of these players haven’t played this competition, they haven’t played the last 16.

“I haven’t (managed at this stage). But they have so much energy and enthusiasm to play well and that’s our desire and how we’re going to play the game.

“It’s great. We have earned the right to be here. It’s been seven years since we’ve been at the top table for these kind of matches and 14 years since we were able to go to the next stage.

“That’s the challenge. We know what is ahead of us, but we are very excited to face it and to go for it with full belief, that’s for sure.”

An extra incentive for Arsenal to banish past ghosts is the prospect of going all the way to just their second Champions League final, with Wembley playing host to the showpiece event this year.

“It should be incredible to have that feeling to lift that cup, in London, the first of June. It is there,” added Arteta.

“It is in our minds. It is a dream, but there are a lot of things you have to earn the right to do before that and tomorrow we have a big obstacle ahead of us. We are really looking forward to it.”

Martin Odegaard says Arsenal must harness their growing momentum as they target a Premier League and Champions League double.

Saturday’s 5-0 win at Burnley meant the Gunners have kicked off a calendar year with five straight league wins for the first time in their history.

Arteta’s second-placed side are two points behind leaders Liverpool and now turn their attention to European action.

Arsenal face Porto in Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 first leg and skipper Odegaard believes they are capable of going for the double.

Asked if they have the squad to compete on two fronts, the Norway international said: “That’s what we want to do, we want to compete in every competition we play in.

“Of course Champions League is a massive one, so we are excited for it.

“We just want to focus on ourselves each game, keep improving every game and we will see how it goes.

“We are in a good moment now. We have to use that momentum, keep building on it and we will see.”

Arsenal have won five on the trot and scored 21 in the process, having followed up last weekend’s 6-0 win at West Ham with a five-star performance at Burnley.

“I think that’s what we were missing a little bit in the last few weeks before the break – we created so much but we didn’t score the goals,” Odegaard said.

“But within the last few games, we’ve been brilliant in front of goal.

“We get so many people in the box and so many situations around the box. So yeah, it’s been brilliant.”

Odegaard’s opener set the tone at Turf Moor, where Bukayo Saka then scored a brace before Leandro Trossard and Kai Havertz rounded things off.

That freescoring form has quietened those that had called for Arsenal to buy an out-and-out striker in January.

Summer signing Havertz, who scored his sixth goal for Arsenal on Saturday, said: “I think we all trust ourselves and we know what quality we all have.

“You know, we have to give trust to each other and that’s what we’ve done.

“It’s not only because of the strikers that you don’t score goals, defenders can score goals for us and stuff like that. That’s so important.

“You know it’s not the end now. We keep being focused because I know you guys after one game without five goals you’re going to write we need a striker!

“So, we just work hard, enjoy ourselves on the pitch and that’s what we did today.”

Bukayo Saka is targeting his first Arsenal hat-trick after the in-form winger scored braces in back-to-back emphatic away wins for Mikel Arteta’s title challengers.

The 22-year-old and his team-mates are in electric form and followed up last weekend’s 6-0 win at West Ham by battering Burnley 5-0 on Saturday.

Saka scored a spot-kick and a goal from an open play in each of those emphatic triumphs but the academy graduate’s wait for a first Arsenal hat-trick goes on.

“I’m really pleased,” Saka said after the Gunners’ Turf Moor triumph. “I’m enjoying my football, but obviously I need to keep focused.

“But yeah, of course I’m happy to score two, two weeks in a row and hopefully the third one will come soon.

“It’s coming. It’s coming, but I need to be patient!”

Saka’s only senior hat-trick to date came at Old Trafford last June in England’s 7-0 victory against North Macedonia in a Euro 2024 qualifier.

The winger is likely to have a starring role for his country in Germany at the end of a season that all connected to the north London club hope ends in memorable fashion.

Arsenal are vying for the title and currently sit second, two points behind leaders Liverpool, having started a year with five straight league wins for the first time in club history.

“It was a lot of fun out there,” Saka told club media. “I really enjoyed it and it’s nice to see the fans coming up with new chants and stuff. I just loved it, so I enjoyed it.

“The boss has told us we’re the first Arsenal team to win five in a row at the start of the year, so it’s a nice achievement and we’ll definitely build momentum going forward.”

Arsenal have scored 21 goals in that five-game winning run and will look to take that form into the Champions League at Porto in Wednesday’s last-16 first leg.

“I think it’s really good,” Saka said of the Gunners’ free-scoring form.

“Definitely now that, not only that I’m playing well, the team’s playing well and we’re scoring a lot of goals because we’ve got some really important fixtures coming up, starting on Wednesday and I can’t wait to go there.

“I’m really excited. So yeah, looking forward to it and hopefully we can take this form into that game as well.”

While all connected to Arsenal left Turf Moor with a smile on their face, the home fans’ mood reflected the grim Lancashire weather on Saturday.

Vincent Kompany’s side’s hopes of survival are fading fast as Burnley turn their attention to next weekend’s trip to Crystal Palace.

Skipper Josh Brownhill said: “We’ve just got to review that game, the stuff that we can do better and work on that for this week.

“We’ve got a great chance to go away to Palace and put in a performance.

“But it’s the Premier League, you can’t expect any result in this division. They’re a good team, especially at home.

“They’ve got some really quality players so it’s not going to be easy at all.

“It’s one that we’re going to have to have a big week and go into that game and get our confidence back, that belief back and go on and put on a show.”

Mikel Arteta was delighted by his players’ unquenchable drive for more goals and wins after Arsenal racked up their fifth Premier League win in a row at relegation-threatened Burnley.

The north Londoners are in the middle of a tough title tussle and kept the pressure on both Liverpool and Manchester City by running amok at Turf Moor.

Martin Odegaard opening the scoring inside four minutes at embattled Burnley, where Bukayo Saka’s brace was complemented by Leandro Trossard and Kai Havertz efforts in a 5-0 win.

Saturday’s five-star performance followed on from last weekend’s 6-0 shellacking of West Ham, leaving boss Arteta delighted by his players’ hunger and drive for more.

“Really happy with the performance, with the result and the individual and collective contribution of each player as well,” the Arsenal boss said. “That was very, very good.

“And the fact that the team looked like it wanted more. It wasn’t satisfied.

“They wanted to score more, they didn’t want to concede a goal. I’m really pleased to hit that consistency.”

Asked if the domination has pleased him more than the goals recently, Arteta said: “Yeah. We want to dominate games and play in the opponent’s half as much as possible.

“I think the threat, the purpose, the activity and the connections of the players are flowing and they really want it.

“We have momentum now and we have to maintain it.

“Now we leave the Premier League, we go to Porto which will be a really tough environment, so just prepare to play well again and be ourselves.”

Arsenal head to Portugal for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday buoyed by yet another comprehensive victory on the road.

Arteta praised confident skipper Odegaard after Saturday’s triumph, so too Saka after the homegrown star scored in four straight top-flight games for the first time in his career.

Put to the Arsenal boss that the forward has the maturity of a senior player despite only being 22, he said: “Yes, we don’t really see it (in football).

“Especially forward players and wingers with that level of consistency and numbers.

“At his age it is something really strange to find but it is not a coincidence when you look at him every single day.

“The way he trains, the way he applies himself, the qualities that he has. And he can do more.”

The heavy loss means embattled Burnley still only have managed five points at Turf Moor this season, leaving them staring down the barrel of relegation.

Burnley assistant Craig Bellamy was in the dugout against Arsenal as Vincent Kompany served a touchline ban and the Clarets boss did not like what he saw from the stands.

“Just not good enough,” Kompany said. “Arsenal were better than us in every department today. It’s a tough one to take on the chin.

“You look back at probably the last 10 to 15 games and we were always able to draw on positives from the game.

“Today’s one you have to take on the chin and probably say less and make sure that you get the energy back in the team for the next game because that’s all we’ve got to focus on now.

“You do get days like this sometimes and when you do and where we are in the league, you get punished and the gap shows then.”

Burnley return to action at Crystal Palace next weekend, when midfielder Aaron Ramsey will surely be absent having left on a stretcher with a nasty-looking knee injury.

“It didn’t look good,” Kompany added. “I can only hope for it not to be as bad as it looked and for him to hopefully have a speedy recovery.”

Bukayo Saka struck twice as Arsenal romped to a 5-0 victory at lifeless Burnley and extended their winning run to a fifth successive Premier League match.

Mikel Arteta’s title-chasing Gunners kept the pressure on Liverpool and Manchester City by making light work of what was always expected to be a straightforward Saturday assignment.

Martin Odegaard lashed Arsenal into an early lead at Turf Moor and they never looked back, with Saka’s brace complemented by Leandro Trossard and Kai Havertz efforts as they battered Burnley 5-0.

This is the first time that the north Londoners have ever begun a calendar year with five league wins on the bounce and that outcome appeared to be on the cards within four minutes of kick-off.

Odegaard hammered Arsenal ahead and Saka scored from the spot just before the break, adding to his double in last week’s stunning 6-0 win at West Ham.

The forward completed another brace before Trossard and Havertz added gloss as suspended boss Vincent Kompany watched his hapless team crumble from the stands.

There were some boos at the final whistle and an air of resignation around Turf Moor before kick-off – little wonder given their five-point haul on home soil is the worst in the Premier League.

That feeling of Burnley pessimism only grew inside four minutes as Arsenal’s first attack brought the opening goal.

Gabriel Martinelli’s cross from the left deflected off Lorenz Assignon and reached Odegaard on the edge of the box.

The Arsenal skipper took a smart touch and continued to laser a left-footed strike beyond James Trafford into the bottom corner.

That goal increased the incline on what was already an uphill challenge for the lacklustre Clarets, who Craig Bellamy was leading from the touchline.

David Raya denied a Wilson Odobert threat on a rare Burnley attack, with quick, sharp build-up play making life hard for the stumbling hosts at the other end.

Arsenal continued to knock on the door and their second came from the spot in the 41st minute.

Havertz played a quick ball on to Trossard in the box, with the forward going down under a challenge from Assignon.

The defender’s appeals fell on deaf ears and Trafford guessed correctly, but Saka’s spot-kick was just out of the goalkeeper’s reach.

This is the first time in the England star’s career that he has scored in four consecutive Premier League games, and he added his second of the day in the 47th minute.

Slipped through by patient Odegaard, Saka smartly made space under pressure to hammer past Trafford at his near post.

A bad afternoon for Burnley got worse when midfielder Aaron Ramsey sustained a nasty-looking injury after challenging with Odegaard.

There was a lengthy break in play as he received treatment before being taken off on a stretcher.

Trossard was guilty of two poor misses when play resumed, but he would sweep home from close range in the 66th minute to spark a mass exit.

Substitute Eddie Nketiah headed wide before Havertz added a fifth in the 78th minute as Burnley continued to flounder.

Jakub Kiwior’s throw-in caught out the hosts’ defence and put Havertz behind, with the summer signing cutting through Hannes Delcroix’s legs before scoring.

Substitute Jacob Bruun Larsen and Josh Brownhill tried to score a consolation between Odegaard seeing a free-kick saved as 10 minutes of second-half stoppage time came and went without another goal.

Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal should be in the running to sign Kylian Mbappe from Paris St Germain this summer .

The France forward, who has been heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid, announced on Thursday that he will leave the Ligue 1 champions when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Arteta feels that signing Mbappe would match Arsenal’s ambitions of becoming the “best team”.

When asked if Arsenal should be interested in the 25-year-old, Arteta said: “Absolutely. Why not? If we want to be the best team then we are going to need the best talent and the best players for sure.

“When there is a player of that calibre then we always need to be in the conversation but it looks like (his future) is in a different way.”

Arteta says Arsenal are heading into the most important part of the season ahead of their Premier League clash with Burnley.

The title-chasing Gunners currently sit third, two points behind leaders Liverpool, after extending their impressive run to four straight league wins following a dominant 6-0 victory at West Ham.

Arteta highlighted the importance of claiming three points at Turf Moor and to keep up their consistent form during the final 14 league matches.

“It’s the most important part of the season and every fixture will play a significant role in what we want to achieve,” Arteta said.

“Burnley at the moment are a team which are extremely difficult to beat if you look at the results and how teams have drawn or beaten them by small margins.

“They are extremely well coached and are a team that are very competitive, so we know that we have a very tough match on Saturday and we need to play with the same energy and enthusiasm.

“We want to be there (title race) and it means we have done a lot right during the season.

“We have shown a big level of consistency in the team, we want to take a step forward and maintain the consistency.”

Burnley, who sit seven points from safety, have struggled in their first season back in the Premier League.

Arteta showed his admiration for Clarets manager Vincent Kompany, lauding his “special aura” ahead of Saturday’s clash.

The Arsenal manager coached the former Manchester City captain when he was Pep Guardiola’s assistant at the Etihad Stadium between 2016 and 2019.

“We know each other really well and I have huge respect for him, we had a really good relationship when we worked together,” Arteta added.

“I have a huge admiration for him when he was a player and he has a special aura around him. He has great ideas and a vision of how to play the game.

“What they did in the Championship last season (winning the league by 10 points) was phenomenal in a record season. To do that you need to be exceptional (as a coach).

“He has courage and his work ethic is phenomenal.”

Mikel Arteta says Arsenal are heading into the most important part of the season ahead of their Premier League clash with Burnley.

The title-chasing Gunners currently sit third, two points behind leaders Liverpool, after extending their impressive run to four straight league wins following a dominant 6-0 victory at West Ham.

Arteta highlighted the importance of claiming three points at Turf Moor and to keep up their consistent form during the final 14 league matches.

“It’s the most important part of the season and every fixture will play a significant role in what we want to achieve,” Arteta said.

“Burnley at the moment are a team which are extremely difficult to beat if you look at the results and how teams have drawn or beaten them by small margins.

“They are extremely well coached and are a team that are very competitive, so we know that we have a very tough match on Saturday and we need to play with the same energy and enthusiasm.

“We want to be there (title race) and it means we have done a lot right during the season.

“We have shown a big level of consistency in the team, we want to take a step forward and maintain the consistency.”

Burnley, who sit seven points from safety, have struggled in their first season back in the Premier League.

Arteta showed his admiration for Clarets manager Vincent Kompany, lauding his “special aura” ahead of Saturday’s clash.

The Arsenal manager coached the former Manchester City captain when he was Pep Guardiola’s assistant at the Etihad Stadium between 2016 and 2019.

“We know each other really well and I have huge respect for him, we had a really good relationship when we worked together,” Arteta added.

“I have a huge admiration for him when he was a player and he has a special aura around him. He has great ideas and a vision of how to play the game.

“What they did in the Championship last season (winning the league by 10 points) was phenomenal in a record season. To do that you need to be exceptional (as a coach).

“He has courage and his work ethic is phenomenal.”

Kai Havertz struggled in the early parts of the season after his £65million move from Chelsea but the Germany international has since adapted to life in north London.

Arteta said he “loves” the 24-year-old and it is a joy to have him in the squad.

“I love him,” he said. “We all love him as a player, as a person and what he brings to the team.

“He tracks people, defends the box and gets in the position where he constantly threatens the opponents’ box and that is something I really like.

“He is a joy to work with.”

Gabriel Magalhaes has emerged as a pivotal part of Arsenal’s Premier League title bid after difficult conversations with boss Mikel Arteta at the start of the season.

The Brazil defender moved to the Emirates Stadium in 2020 and, for the large part, has been a major player in Arteta’s side.

That changed in August when Gabriel found himself on the bench as Ben White moved to centre-back and Thomas Partey was installed at right-back.

He returned to the backline alongside William Saliba after the opening three games of the campaign, has not looked back since and is set to make his 150th appearance for the club in Sunday’s crucial London derby at West Ham.

He has played a large part in Arsenal boasting the joint-best defensive record in the Premier League this season – although he did score an own goal in the 3-1 win over Liverpool last weekend that saw the Gunners close to within two points of the summit.

“It was tough, obviously at the start. I wanted to play and it was very difficult for me but I understood what the coach had to do,” Gabriel told the PA news agency.

“It is difficult for any player to not be in the team but now I’m back in I want to keep on working hard to prove my worth.

“He (Arteta) spoke to me and obviously explained the reasons behind the decision. Why I should stay – but the most important thing was to remain focused and concentrate – he knew how important I was to the team, so I’m happy to be back and to be able to help the team in every game.

“I’m happy to be back in the team and hopefully I can help them moving forward.”

Gabriel’s form in January, in which he supplemented his defensive work with two goals in a crucial win over Crystal Palace, has seen him shortlisted alongside Kevin De Bruyne, Richarlison, Diogo Jota, Conor Bradley and Elijah Adebayo for the Premier League player of the month.

Asked if he feels it finally shows he is being appreciated by those outside of Arsenal after years of largely being overlooked for his team-mates, Gabriel added: “I’m very happy to be up for player of the month.

“Of course I always work hard every day to try to do my best on the pitch and realise my potential.

“The most important thing is the people around me who know my potential, and in terms of those outside – and if people devalue me, I’m happy for them if I change their mind.”

Arteta said Gabriel’s duties within his set-up have developed recently and believes the player took the right decision to stay put when he had been linked with a move away in previous windows.

“A lot of things have happened to him,” said the Spaniard.

“His role in the team has grown. His personal life is also very different to the one he had before with his family and his language.

“He also changed a lot of things in his life and improved his mentality. He can decide what he wants to be and I think he made the right call to take the direction he took.”

The 26-year-old was linked with a move to Juventus but has stayed put and is keen to continue to impress the people that matter to him.

“I think the most important people are those that are close to me; the team, the coaching staff, my family, my friends,” he added.

“I think that’s what’s most important. They’ve helped me a lot and continue to help me to grow every day, those who are close to me.

“So I’m very happy – those internal people and to keep impressing them and doing the best I can.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes a proposal to introduce blue cards and sin-bins to football does not “sound like a fantastic idea” initially.

The PA news agency understands that blue cards will be shown to players sin-binned in new trials to try and improve participant behaviour.

It is understood that the initial trial phase will not feature top-level competitions to avoid players being in events with different rules concurrently.

PA understands that plans to publish details of these trials have been delayed until next month, but Klopp believes a blue card could present “more opportunities to fail”.

He told a press conference: “I think everything what the actual situation shows is we should keep it as simple as somehow possible, for the referees as well.

“It’s a difficult job, often quite emotional when we speak about it more so because it’s after the game, and I think the introduction of a blue card would just give more opportunities to fail as well because the discussion will be: ‘It was a blue card, should it have been a yellow card, now it’s 10 minutes off, in the good old times it would have been a red card or only a yellow’.

“These kind of things just make it more complicated. If they want to test it I have no problem with testing if that’s the first step to agreeing or it already being sure it will happen – I don’t know that.

“It doesn’t sound like a fantastic idea in the first moment but actually I can’t remember the last fantastic idea (which) came from these guys, if they ever had one. I am 56 and, pah, never.”

Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou also remained unconvinced by the proposals, adding his “biggest issue” in football is VAR.

“I don’t think people will be surprised by my thoughts on it. I struggle to understand this urgency all of a sudden to bring in new things,” he said.

“I don’t know if there’s that much wrong with the game as I see it. My biggest issue with the game right now is that VAR has changed the experience, whether you’re a player, a manager or a supporter or whatever you are I think it’s changed the experience of football.

“I assume that’s a means to an end, that the introduction of technology is going to get us to a better place. I remain to be convinced about that.

“Beyond that, I don’t know why a different colour card is going to make any difference. I struggle with this whole taking from other sports.”

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta hopes that the proposals would be “tested very well” if introduced.

“I don’t know when we’re going to get there,” he said.

“I think we’ve got a lot going on with decisions, with technology, with what is coming. I don’t know if we are ready for that yet.

“Who knows (if it is a good idea). Hopefully it’s going to be tested very well before they introduce it at this level.”

Newcastle manager Eddie Howe admitted he was “not a big fan” of the new proposals.

He said: “I’m not a big fan, to be honest. I think that’s what yellow cards are for. I think the current system works well, it’s just got to be applied right.

“I think adding a blue card would just add more confusion, in my opinion, so I’m against it.

“I think (sin-bins) would change it a lot, but again not, for me, in a good way because I think it will make it very bitty, more stop-start.

“I fear for the players who would have to go off for 10 minutes and then re-find the rhythm of a Premier League game after 10 minutes out, I’m just not sure it works, personally.”

Wolves boss Gary O’Neil believes blue cards could “damage” the stadium experience.

“I haven’t looked into it too much, it would damage the in-stadium experience, it would change the game drastically, to have to spend 10 minutes down to 10 men,” he said.

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