Aubameyang can thrive in Arsenal’s creative system – Riedle

he former Dortmund striker believes Arsenal’s record signing will be given the supply to score heavily by the Gunners’ ‘high-class’ creators

Marquee January signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is perfectly suited to flourish at the head of Arsenal’s attack, according to Karl-Heinz Riedle.

Riedle, who enjoyed stints with Werder Bremen, Lazio, Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund in the ’80s and ’90s, believes the the £56 million man will be well serviced by the likes of Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan at the Emirates.

“He’s proved over the last few years that he is a very good player,” Riedle told Goal as part of Enterprise’s UEFA Europa League trophy surprise in Dortmund.

“Arsenal have the high-class individuals who will help him to score. So I am sure that he will do well in London.

The Gabon international wasn’t able to score against Tottenham in the north London derby, but was on target in his Premier League debut against Everton a week earlier.

“It makes an impression to the fans and the club if you make a debut like he did against Everton,” said Riedle. “But it is important to continue playing that way. When he came to Dortmund he had some problems at first but developed into a world-class player. I don’t think he is going to fail in England.”

Riedle, who also played for Liverpool between 1997 and 1999, says the Reds have the attacking power to make stronger pushes for titles in England and Europe in the coming years, too.

“It is unbelievable the kind of quality Liverpool have in attack. [Mohamed] Salah is a sensational player who nobody thought would play the way he’s playing at Liverpool right now. [Roberto] Firmino and [Sadio] Mane are also great players. There is so much potential in Liverpool’s squad.”

And that potential, Riedle says, is being led by the perfect manager.

“I think Jurgen Klopp is doing a great job at Liverpool and the fans seem to love him. He fits perfectly at the club. The team is playing great football this year even though the championship is already decided. But for the future the Premier League and Champions league should definitely be targets for the club and Klopp.”


Ostersunds 0 Arsenal 3: Ozil crowns Arctic stroll for Wenger’s men

Nacho Monreal and Mesut Ozil were on target either side of a Sotirios Papagiannopoulos own goal as Arsenal eased to a 3-0 win at Ostersunds.

Arsenal avoided any undue alarms as they cruised to a 3-0 Europa League win over Swedish minnows Ostersunds.

Arsene Wenger’s men emerged in sub-zero temperatures at the Jamtkraft Arena and there was little prospect of the contest warming up after defensive errors from the hosts gifted a 13th-minute opener to Nacho Monreal.

Sotirios Papagiannopoulos’ own goal compounded matters for Ostersunds and their English coach Graham Potter and, although their performance improved, Mesut Ozil marked his first appearance in the Europa League this season with a third in the 58th minute.

A run to the last-32 featuring wins over the likes of Galatasaray and Hertha Berlin has seen Ostersunds’ produce a modern footballing fairytale in the Europa League this season.

They will need something altogether more fantastical to turn the tie around at Emirates Stadium next week – even more so after Tom Pettersson had a stoppage-time penalty saved, Hector Bellerin having needlessly hauled down substitute Tesfaldet Tekie.

Ostersunds goalkeeper Aly Keita put his side in trouble with a poor pass out in the 12th minute, only spared when Papagiannopoulos bravely blocked from Ozil, and his poor handling allowed Monreal to follow up Alex Iwobi’s shot and open the scoring moments later.

The entirely avoidable nature of the goals conceded by a seemingly overawed Ostersunds will have irritated Potter and Papagiannopoulos was powerless to avoid a 24th-minute own-goal after Pettersson gave away possession inside his own box for Henrikh Mkhitaryan to drill into the goalmouth.

Some similarly slack work in the defensive half from Arsenal prompted the hosts’ first opening, with David Ospina acrobatically pushing over Alhaji Gero’s shot from the edge of the area.

Ostersunds had grown into the contest as half-time approached and striker Saman Ghoddos drove at a backpedalling Arsenal backline to fire narrowly wide.

Potter sent on Tekie and Jamie Hopcutt in place of captain Brwa Nouri and Gero, a move that further encouraged his team’s resurgence in the contest.

Shkodran Mustafi turned anxiously to the referee before the hour when Tekie went down in the area under pressure from the Germany international. Play was allowed to continue and Arsenal glided down the other end to make it three.

Ozil exchanged passes pleasingly with Mkhitaryan but Keita was culpable once again, getting his hands to a shot that squirmed over the line.

Much of the remaining action resembled an extended training drill as far as the Premier League side were concerned, with prospects of defeat to a club who have been in existence for a shorter time than Wenger has been Arsenal manager all but extinguished by the time Pettersson rounded out a dismal individual outing by stroking his penalty into Ospina’s arms.



Arsenal team news: Ozil & Welbeck lead the line in Europa League

Arsene Wenger has fielded a strong team for the game in Sweden, which will be played in freezing temperatures

Danny Welbeck and Mesut Ozil both start for Arsenal as Arsene Wenger’s side look to bounce back from derby disappointment in the Europa League against Swedish side Ostersunds FK.

Gunners boss Wenger promised to field a strong side for the round-of-32 first leg in the north of Sweden, where temperatures are forecasted to be a few degrees below zero by the time it kicks off at 18:00 GMT.

Colombian shot stopper David Ospina has been named captain while Ainsley Maitland-Niles starts alongside Mohamed Elneny in his favoured central midfield position.

Alex Iwobi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Germany star Ozil start will support Welbeck in attack, who also features in his preferred position as a central striker.

Arsenal are without new signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who is cup-tied while fellow forward Alexandre Lacazette has been ruled out for up to six weeks after undergoing surgery on his knee.

Arsenal: Ospina; Bellerin, Chambers, Mustafi, Monreal; Elneny, Maitland-Niles; Iwobi, Ozil, Mkhitaryan; Welbeck.

Subs: Macey, Holding, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Willock, Nelson, NketiahSource:

Arsenal confirm Lacazette out for up to six weeks with knee injury

The France international has struggled to hit top form in recent weeks and now faces a spell on the sidelines having undergone surgery

Arsenal have confirmed that striker Alexandre Lacazette will be out of action for up to six weeks with a knee injury.

The 26-year-old forward underwent surgery on Tuesday and is now expected to be out of action for at least a month as he recovers.

A statement on the club’s official website read: “Striker Alex Lacazette had an arthroscopy on his left knee in London on Tuesday morning.

“The minor procedure was a success and he will now undergo a period of rehabilitation. It is envisaged that he will return to the squad within four to six weeks.”

Lacazette initially impressed following his £46 million move from Lyon in the summer, scoring eight goals up to the beginning of December.

He has, however, struggled to find the back of the net since then, with just one strike coming in the 4-1 win over Crystal Palace on January 20.

And the Frenchman was further criticised following his brief cameo in the north London derby defeat to Tottenham, with Lacazette missing the target with two presentable chances towards the end of the game.

That led manager Arsene Wenger into suggesting that the forward may have had his confidence knocked since the club-record arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Dortmund.

He said: “For him, one against one with the goalkeeper, he is a good goalscorer. He has gone through difficult periods before. He works hard in training, works on his finishing.

“I don’t know what happened [with his second miss against Spurs], did he not touch the ball well? It can happen, it is a fraction of a second.

“Maybe the confidence is not at its highest because he has seen a competitor coming in for him.”


Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal

The north London rivals will lock horns for the 182nd time in the latest instalment of one of England’s fiercest local rivalries

Tottenham will hope to create further distance between themselves and Arsenal when they welcome their north London rivals to Wembley on Saturday.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side are currently fifth in the Premier League on 49 points, four points ahead of their bitter foes, and a win could see them move up to third.

Defeat for Arsene Wenger’s Gunners would be a major blow to their hopes of achieving a top-four finish, so they will be desperate to claim maximum points.

Both teams come into the crucial encounter on the back of victories, with Tottenham beating Newport County in the FA Cup fourth round and Arsenal demolishing Everton in the league.

Spurs are boosted by the return to full fitness of Toby Alderweireld, while Danny Rose and Harry Winks are also available again. New signing Lucas Moura could make his Premier League debut, but it is likely to be from the bench as Pochettino is unlikely to experiment in such a massive game.

Potential Tottenham starting XI: Lloris; Trippier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier, Dembele, Eriksen, Son, Alli; Kane.

Arsenal will be without Petr Cech, who has not been training, meaning that David Ospina will start between the posts. Danny Welbeck is a concern, but Wenger hinted that the striker will be back for the game. Nacho Monreal, meanwhile, is poised to return to the team.

Potential Arsenal starting XI: Ospina; Monreal, Mustafi, Koscielny; Bellerin, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Ozil, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan; Aubameyang.


Alexis: I joined Man Utd to ‘win everything’

The Chile international has explained his reasons for leaving Arsenal for Old Trafford, believing the Red Devils have what it takes to claim trophies

Alexis Sanchez insists he left Arsenal for Manchester United because he believes he has a better chance of winning “everything” at Old Trafford.

The Chilean’s future had been the subject of speculation for months, particularly since entering the final year of his Arsenal contract in July.

A move to Manchester City collapsed in late August, forcing Alexis to remain at the Emirates Stadium as his contract continued to wind down.

City again looked to sign him in January, but United provided the Chile international with a better offer and his eventually linked up with Jose Mourinho’s men on January 22 as Henrikh Mkhitaryan went the other way.

And Alexis has now been given the chance to explain the motives behind his move, with trophies in his sights.

Speaking to Sky Sports , he said: “I think that Manchester United, since I was young – and I’m not just saying this because I’m here, I’m an honest guy and I never lie – I think it’s the biggest club in England. That’s what I think.

“There are lots of big clubs, and having played for Arsenal, they are also one of them. It’s a huge club and I was there.

“But coming here, looking at the badge, I think United have to win everything because it’s such a big club. The club crest says it all.

“I came here to win [trophies]. I left Arsenal because I wanted to develop and learn as a player, and get to experience a new club.

“Manchester United are a huge club on the global stage. I came here to win everything, otherwise I wouldn’t have come here.”

Alexis got off the mark for United in their win over Huddersfield Town last week and is set to be included again for Sunday’s trip to Newcastle.

Aubameyang-Mkhitaryan & football’s most telepathic partnerships

With Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang having been reunited at Arsenal, Goal looks back at other devastating pairings…

Dwight Yorke & Andy Cole (Manchester United)

First brought together early in the 1998-99 season, Dwight York and Andy Cole combined to devastating effect as Manchester United won the treble under Sir Alex Ferguson, albeit with their back-ups – Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – sealing the deal in the Champions League final.

Cole and Yorke started 36 matches together in that campaign, with the Red Devils losing on just one occasion. Between them, they scored 53 goals in all competitions and followed that up with 46 in the next campaign.

Fernando Morientes & Raul (Real Madrid & Spain)

During a period around the turn of the millennium, Fernando Morientes and Raul were one of Europe’s most feared strike pairings, with their telepathic connection up front leading the Blancos into the ‘Galactico Generation’.

Such was their close friendship, Raul was one of the witnesses at Morientes’s wedding, while after Morientes was dropped for the 2002 European Super Cup following the arrival of Ronaldo, Raul wore his great friend’s No.9 jersey as a show of solidarity.

Ian Rush & Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool)

Given his legendary status at Liverpool, it is hard to believe that Kenny Dalglish went on a 10-month scoring drought during 1981, with the Scot contemplating a move into midfield as he struggled for form in the aftermath of his 30th birthday.

That all changed when Ian Rush arrived on the scene, however, as Dalglish became more of a withdrawn forward in behind Rush, and the pair ran riot. Liverpool won the title in each of their first three campaigns together, with the deadly duo scoring 59 goals between them as the European Cup was also secured in 1983-84.

Xavi & Andres Iniesta (Barcelona & Spain)

One of the greatest midfield partnerships of all time, Xavi and Iniesta changed the way the modern game is played with their precision passing for both club and country.

Together they won four Champions League titles among a whole host of other trophies at Barcelona, as well as helping lead Spain to two European Championships and their first World Cup, in 2010.

Wim Jonk & Dennis Bergkamp (Ajax & Netherlands)

It is clear that two players have a special connection when they are both bought by the same club at exactly the same time. That was the case for Wim Jonk and Dennis Bergkamp.

The pair impressed so much together at Ajex that Inter shelled out in excess of £7 million to bring them both to San Siro in 1994. They both struggled to adapt, however, though they did continue to combine well for the Dutch national team.

Mesut Ozil & Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)

Perhaps the best foil Cristiano Ronaldo has ever had at Real Madrid, Mesut Ozil created goal after goal for the Portuguese forward during their three years together at the Santiago Bernabeu before the Germany international left for Arsenal in 2013.

Indeed, the Germany international rovided Ronaldo with 27 assists, with the pair proving integral to the Blancos winning La Liga in 2011-12 under Jose Mourinho.

Ruud Gullit & Marco van Basten (AC Milan & Netherlands)

Having impressed for the Dutch national team, Ruud Gullit and Marco Van Basten – along with compatriot Frank Rijkaard – were signed by AC Milan in 1987 and helped lead the Serie A outfit to an unprecedented period of success.

While at San Siro, yhe pair won three Scudetti and two European Cups, as well as leading the Oranje to the Euro 88 title, as they entered the 1990s as one of the best attacking duos in world football.

Frank Lampard & Didier Drogba (Chelsea)

The two attacking lynchpins upon which Chelsea have built their modern day success under Roman Abramovich, Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard were almost unstoppable in tandem.

Lampard provided assists for the Ivorian on 24 occasions in the Premier League – a record for the competition – as well as providing plenty of goals himself from midfield.

Andriy Shevchenko & Sergei Rebrov (Dynamo Kiev & Ukraine)

Absolutely electrifying in leading Dynamo Kiev to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 1999, Andriy Shevchenko and Sergei Rebrov came from nowhere to become two of Europe’s hottest properties.

They both eventually moved to pastures new, though they were reunited as Ukraine reached their first ever World Cup in 2006.

Fabio Cannavaro & Alessandro Nesta (Italy)

Having played alongside one another since their days in Italy’s under-age sides, Fabio Cannavaro and Alessandro Nesta developed into one of the best central defensive partnerships in world football.

Together they helped take the Azzurri to the final of Euro 2000, though injury did rule Nesta out of the 2006 World Cup as Cannavaro captained his country to glory.

Alfredo Di Stefano & Ferenc Puskas (Real Madrid)

Despite both being in their 30s when they were brought together in the Spanish capital, Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas took no time in tearing up teams both at home and in Europe.

Together they won two European Cups, including the 1959-60 competition, in which the pair shared all seven goals as Eintract Frankfurt were seen off in a famous final in Scotland.

Marcelo Salas & Ivan Zamorano (Chile)

Such is the way of modern football, it is very rare nowadays to see two out-and-out No.9s partnered together up front. But, during the 1990s, Chile were able to fight above their weight due to the goalscoring exploits of Marcelo Salas and Ivan Zamorano.

Between them they scored 71 goals for their national team, though the relative lack of talent behind them stopped the duo from ever challenging for silverware.

Disappointing to leave Arsenal but Chelsea move ‘made sense’ – Giroud

The 31-year-old made the shock switch to Stamford Bridge at the end of the transfer window and hopes to have better luck finding first-team football

Olivier Giroud has admitted that he was disappointed to leave Arsenal but is looking forward to a fresh challenge at Chelsea.

The 31-year-old striker signed for the Blues for £18 million from their London rivals after Arsenal snapped up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund, while Michy Batshuayi went from Stamford Bridge on loan to the German club.

Having started just one of his 16 appearances in the Premier League this season after the arrival of Alexandre Lacazette, Giroud sought a move away from Arsenal in January in order to play more regularly.

“The fact is that the coach wanted to recruit a new striker and with Aubameyang’s signing at Arsenal, there were three top strikers, and that’s why I decided to leave,” Giroud told Telefoot.

“It made sense for me to take a new direction in my career. There was a bit of disappointment, even though I spent five wonderful years there.

“I could have stayed, but I needed a solution to get back in. I wanted to stay in the Premier League and Chelsea was a great opportunity for me.”

He added that France boss Didier Deschamps had hinted that he needed to move in order to win a berth at the World Cup in the summer.

“I spoke with Deschamps,” he said. “He didn’t tell me to move to Chelsea, but he did tell me to move clubs.”

The opportunity to work with Antonio Conte at Stamford Bridge was one he did not wish to turn down and he is hopeful of challenging Alvaro Morata for game time.

“My choice was quite clear and obvious when I knew that Antonio Conte wanted to work with me,” he added.

“The conversation was more important, I know that Conte appreciates my profile, we will work well together.

“[Morata and I] are the two main strikers at Chelsea. There will be good competition between us.”

Indeed, Chelsea were far from alone in chasing the centre-forward.

“Dortmund were interested in me, but for a loan, there was Sevilla too and at one point my agent received a call from Roma,” he revealed.

Giroud spent five and a half years at Arsenal after signing from Ligue 1 side Montpellier and went on to win three FA Cups with Arsene Wenger’s side.

Alexis could help Man Utd reach Champions League final – Macari

The Manchester United legend believes the addition of Alexis Sanchez makes the club an entirely different proposition in Europe

Manchester United could be set for a tilt at the Champions League final this season now that they have Alexis Sanchez, according to club legend Lou Macari.

The Chilean made his home debut for United on Saturday, scoring his first goal for the club in a Man of the Match display as they beat Huddersfield Town 2-0 at Old Trafford.

And Macari has told Goal that Sanchez’s arrival transforms United into a side capable of going deep in the Champions League this term.

“What he does for us is add competition for places, which any manager would tell you is fantastic. It sorts of livens up one or two others, and in our case it gives us a better chance in Europe,” Macari explained.

“There wouldn’t be many United supporters before saying there’s an outstanding chance of us winning the Champions League, but when you sign somebody like him it can be the turning point in your season in the biggest competition there is.

“Let’s be honest, the team was doing alright before we signed him but we needed a little bit of an injection of something and he just may be that something that we needed. Even for the money, I know they say about his wages and all that but the fee was minor compared to the fees nowadays.

“So I think it was a good deal and he can give you a little bit more of an opportunity to go further in the Champions League.”

Macari adds that the fact United missed some big guns when being paired with Sevilla in the round of 16 also bodes well for their European hopes.

“Some of the teams that we regard as the brilliant teams are not that brilliant at this moment, the two Spanish teams in particular seem to be losing what they had last year and the year before.

“They don’t seem to be as consistent, and with the right draw in any cup competition it gives you a chance of possibly, possibly getting to the final. Just having Sanchez gives you a better chance of trying to achieve that.

“I wouldn’t like to start saying we could win it, it just gives you a better chance with him than without him, let’s say, because he’s got that little bit of something about him, that little twist and turn, he’ll run at people, he’ll get fouls as you saw on Saturday plenty of times.”

Sanchez’s addition has meant fiercer competition for places in the United forward line, with Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford both missing from the starting line-up on Saturday. But Macari insists that can only be good for manager Jose Mourinho and the squad as a whole.

“That’s going to happen and that’s one of the reasons why Jose would have been convincing the powers-that-be that we’ve got to sign him.

“The other thing he’ll do as well which we didn’t have in the team apart from Jesse Lingard is somebody who goes at players, picks the ball up and runs at them, which is a bit of a dying art in football nowadays.”

United have two more domestic games before returning to European action away to Sevilla on February 21, with a Premier League trip to Newcastle on Sunday next up.


How Arsenal plan to build a successful future around Mesut Ozil

The decision to commit the best years of his career to Arsenal is a sign of both the player and club’s greater ambitions

Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan are the start of more playing staff arrivals set to happen this summer, with an experienced defender and defensive midfielder at the top of Wenger’s wishlist.Arsenal made three acquisitions in January, with Konstantinos Mavropanos joining at the start of the month, Henrikh Mkhitaryan arriving as part of a swap deal with Alexis Sanchez, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang becoming the club’s record acquisition on transfer deadline day.

However, Mesut Ozil might turn out to be the most important signing of all, with the attacking midfielder having finally pen to paper on a new, three-year contract, after months of negotiations with the club.

Quite simply, Ozil’s decision to commit his long-term future to the Gunners is a massive boost for everyone at the Emirates.

Since making his league debut in August 2006, the Germany international is the only player to have created over 1000 goalscoring chances within Europe’s ‘Big Five’ leagues. He’s also provided more assists than any other player (49 in 136 appearances) and created more goalscoring chances from open play (60) than any other player operating in the Premier League, the Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A or Ligue 1 this season.

The numbers are astounding yet Ozil has received his fair share of criticism during his four and a half years at the club. Ex-players have been quick to lambast the playmaker for “not tracking back enough” or only being a “luxury player”, but none of those accusations add up.

In an article published on Goal last season, it was revealed that Ozil had covered more ground per 90 minutes in the league than Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott, Francis Coquelin and Laurent Koscielny.

Results have been inconsistent in the Premier League this season but the rejuvenation project at Emirates Stadium is well and truly underway.

A new de-facto director of football in Raul Sanllehi, a new head of recruitment in Sven Mislintat and a contracts negotiator in Huss Fahmy have been in put in place by chief executive Ivan Gazidis, meaning that when Arsene Wenger is eventually replaced, the transition from one manager to another will be a far smoother process that it would have previously been.

Furthermore, as the Frenchman’s power becomes gradually divided among a group of innovative, well-connected football figureheads, Arsenal will aim to build their team around one man.

Ozil admitted last summer that he is just as ambitious as his former Real Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo.

“I am also a perfectionist,” the 29-year-old has said. “I want to be successful with everything I do.

“During the time I played alongside Ronaldo [at Real Madrid], I saw that he always wanted to win everything, even on the training pitch. He is never satisfied and always wants more. He always wants more titles and there are not a lot of players with that attitude.”

Ozil, though, possesses the same drive and insatiable appetite for silverware. His decision to extend his contract was founded on the belief that he can realise his goals in north London.

Indeed, he knows that Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan are just the start of a planned revamp of the Arsenal squad, with an experienced defender and defensive midfielder at the top of Wenger’s wishlist.

There are other factors behind Ozil’s decision to commit to Arsenal, which go beyond football, including his relationship with Swedish-Turkish actress Amine Gulse. The two plan to settle in London and with Ozil’s network of close friends also based in the capital it was a logical choice to sign on the dotted line as the city is where he feels at home.

Furthermore, Ozil ignored overtures from Manchester United, Barcelona and Paris Saint Germain, as well as astronomical offers from clubs in the Chinese Super League. This may well have been his last chance to land a colossal contract but his decision was not solely motivated by money. It was a carefully considered choice, based on happiness and future ambition.

The contract extension gives Ozil the chance to become a club legend. He has the opportunity to be mentioned in the same breath as Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira if he continues to break records on the pitch. With three FA Cups to his name and surely more silverware on the horizon, the deal means a lot more than a world-class player signing a new contract.

Can Arsenal match Ozil’s ambition? The signings of Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan are a good start and Mislintat’s wide scouting network bodes well for the future.

Clearly, there are more issues to resolve, particularly in defence, but a Carabao Cup-winning opportunity later this month and a chance to pick up a European trophy at the end of the season are achievable aims for Ozil and Arsenal.

Wenger has challenged him to lead the team to success on the pitch after signing his new deal and there is no-one more focused at doing that at that right now than the talismanic World Cup winner.