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Nicolas Pepe to be offloaded but Arsenal desperate to avoid Mesut Ozil repeat

Nicolas Pepe is set to be eased out of Arsenal – but the Gunners are desperate to avoid a repeat of the Mesut Ozil situation.

Their £72million record signing bagged a stunning opener in the 3-0 win over the Molde on Thursday side but the die has already been cast.

He won't feature in today's Premier League fixture against Wolves – or in the subsequent clashes with Tottenham and Burnley – following a red card last weekend.

The Ivory Coast international, 25, was sent-off in the 0-0 draw at Elland Road for headbutting Leeds left-back Ezgjan Alioski.

Mikel Arteta called his actions "unacceptable" but gave the winger a chance to redeem himself on Thursday and is publicly backing his man.

However, behind the scenes the Gunners are ready to offload £140k-a-week Pepe if a suitable buyer can be found.

The former Lille man has been working hard in training but there are growing concerns that he's not cut out for the Premier League.

Since signing for the north Londoners in 2019, Pepe has struggled to hit top gear.

He managed a modest four Premier League goals last term and has scored just once in the top flight this time round.

The fee paid for Pepe 18 months ago remains a bone of contention in The Emirates' corridors of power.

Arsenal bigwigs are now convinced they committed far too much cash – £22m up front and £50m over the next five years – for a player who had enjoyed one solid season in Ligue 1.

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The deal was put under the microscope again internally this summer as the club overhauled their recruitment team and looked to cut costs.

Arsenal have no intention of letting Pepe leave on the cheap but they would consider a suitable cash-plus player transfer or loan with an obligation to buy.

Arteta will be asked to manage the situation carefully with the club determined to protect the value of their asset.

The Gunners are keen to avoid repeating previous mistakes.

Ozil, who cost £42.5m from Real Madrid in 2013, has been frozen out and is earning £350,000 a week.

No suitors are forthcoming and the German midfielder is content to see out his deal which expires next year.

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Arsenal manager Arteta responds to Wilshere and Berge transfer links

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has responded to links to Jack Wilshere and Sander Berge.

The Spaniard was desperate to strengthen his midfield in the summer transfer window.

And he did so with Thomas Partey, who joined from Atletico Madrid.

But the Ghana international is seen as a more defensive-minded midfielder whereas Arteta was keen on bringing in creativity to partner him up with.

Houssem Aouar of Lyon was strongly linked but with the deadline passing, nobody was signed but the Gunners have not given up.

Sheffield United star Berge is high on the list after Arsenal missed out on his signature in January.

But perhaps most intriguing is a potential return of Wilshere – who left Arsenal after 17 years with the club in 2018.

Now without a team after being released by West Ham, the Englishman has admitted he would love a return to north London.

And Arteta has given his verdict on a potential signing – and it is bad news for Wilshere.

"We haven’t analysed that situation," said Arteta, who won two FA Cups with the midfielder while a player at the Emirates.

"What I can tell you about Jack is what I’ve said in the past, as a player, as a teammate and as a person I rate him really, really highly.

"‘Unfortunately, at the moment we haven’t looked at that.

"We are focused on the players we have and we’re trying to do the best we can with them."

The Gunners tried to sign Berge in January only for the Norway international to snub them in favour of Sheffiled United.

He is already an important player under Chris Wilder but Arsenal have been linked once more.

And Arteta has insisted that this is largely down to the links he has with Arsenal coach Albert Stuivenberg, who worked with Berge at Belgian side Genk.

"That’s probably why [there are links] because Albert knows him really well,’ said Arteta.

"He’s a player he liked but we haven’t shown any interest in the player. He’s a Sheffield United player and we haven’t done anything at all."

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang solution moves closer after latest Arsenal update

With just nine goals in nine Premier League games, Arsenal's issues in front of goal are threatening to derail Mikel Arteta's first full season in charge.

Since the 2-1 win over Sheffield United at the start of October, the Gunners have scored just one goal…and that solitary strike – in the win over Manchester United – came courtesy of a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang penalty.

Of the teams outside the bottom four, no other side have scored fewer, with this weekend’s opponents Wolves also only registering nine goals.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this of course. After Aubameyang finally signed a new contract on the back of winning the FA Cup, the outlook appeared bright.

But after scoring sixty goals in his last two seasons with Arsenal, Aubameyang has been frustrated, with the Old Trafford spot-kick his only goal since the opening day.

Much of the criticism has stemmed from Arteta using his star man on the left-hand side of his front-three.

He has spent much of the season appearing frustrated and on the peripheries of games.

Against Leeds United last time out, Aubameyang was finally shifted into the middle, with Willian on the left and Nicolas Pepe on the right.

However, that failed to arrest the issues, as the Gunners registered a fourth blank in five league games.

But help could be on the way.

Arsenal have confirmed that Brazilian wonderkind Gabriel Martinelli is closing in on a return to full training.

Martinelli suffered a serious knee injury back in June, but according to the club’s latest update he is progressing “very well” and hopes to integrate into squad sessions in the next fortnight.

Arteta is sure to ease the youngster back into action, but after bursting on to the scene, he may be tempted to make him a serious part of his attacking plan.

  • Arsenal snub chance to sign ex-Tottenham star Christian Eriksen due to Arteta

The Spaniard has previously suggested he sees Martinelli as a centre-forward, but the player himself, believes his best position is out wide.

Martinelli said (via Arseblog ): “I like to play open and I play quite centrally, but I prefer to start wide.

“But my preference is always just to play, centre-half, full-back, goalkeeper, I just want to play.”

As Arsenal hope to finally find their scoring touch, the imminent return of the 19-year-old could provide a major spark.

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Arsenal injury news latest including Thomas Partey, Willian and Bukayo Saka

Mikel Arteta is sweating on a number of players for Arsenal ’s Premier League clash with Wolves this weekend.

The Gunners go into Sunday night’s fixture in the midst of a wretched run of goalscoring form that has seen them find the net just once in the last five Premier League games.

Arteta’s side could only manage a draw against Leeds United last time out, leaving them languishing in the bottom half of the table.

After nine games of the season, Arsenal have managed just nine goals, with Wolves the only side in the top-half to have scored a figure that low.

The Spaniard will be desperate for some extra attacking impetus but could be without both Bukayo Saka and Willian for the game against Nuno Espirito Santo’s side.

Ahead of the Europa League trip to Molde, the club have offered an update on their full list of injuries, including two coronavirus cases within the first-team squad.

Mohamed Elneny and Sead Kolasinac have both tested positive for Covid-19 while on international duty last week. Both are said to asymptomatic, but are still currently self-isolating, meaning they’re unavailable for Molde and both major doubts for the return to domestic action.

Thomas Partey, who missed last Sunday’s stalemate at Leeds, has also not travelled to Norway as he continues to recover from the thigh injury he suffered during defeat to Aston Villa earlier this month. No date has been offered for the Ghana international’s potential return, suggesting his inclusion for Wolves is in doubt.

Should Partey miss out, it will be the second straight game that Arteta is forced to name a midfield without his two recognised starts. Against the Whites, Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos stepped in and are likely to do the same again.

Saka and Willian meanwhile both suffered injuries during the Leeds match and will miss Thursday’s Europa League fixture. Both are aiming to be available for the Premier League, but could be a late decision.

Nicolas Pepe has travelled to Molde, but of course, after his red-card last week, will be on the sidelines for the visit of the Midlanders.

In more positive news, long-term absentees Pablo Mari and Gabriel Martinelli are nearing returns.

Mari, who has been out since June, is now integrating into full training, while Martinelli is hoping to do the same shortly.

Where will Arsenal finish in the Premier League this season? Have your say below.

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Wilshere takes clear side in Arsenal vs Ozil debate with ‘crying out’ claim

Jack Wilshere says Arsenal's forwards would "thrive" off the service provided by Mesut Ozil if his former teammate was selected by Mikel Arteta.

Ozil remains frozen out by the Gunners and isn't registered to play for them in the Premier League or Europa League until at least January, when he will enter the final six months of his current contract.

The German was Wilshere's teammate for five years at the Emirates Stadium, and the 34-times capped England international says he isn't sure why Mikel Arteta has overlooked the former Real Madrid man.

“I don’t know what has gone on there, but when you look on, it is crying out for an Ozil-type player,” Wilshere told The National in Dubai where he is currently based as he works up his fitness in order to find a new club.

“Especially with the quality they have up front, with the likes of [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang and [Alexandre] Lacazette, players who would thrive of someone like that.

“I think Arteta knows what he is doing. He has a plan, and it is going to take some time and I think he will get there eventually.”

It had been suggested that Wilshere, 28, could rejoin Arsenal on a short-term deal having been released by West Ham, but he says that move isn't likely.

“I don’t feel like I’ve completed my time there, but at the same time, I’m realistic enough to know the club has moved on, and they have different ideas," he added.

“Obviously, it would be a dream come true, but I think that ship has sailed, and it is time to look at different things.”

Where will Arsenal finish this season?  Have your say in the comments below

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Ian Wright picks out Arsenal’s "best creative player" vs Leeds who they "need"

Creativity has suddenly become a real sticky subject for Arsenal.

The Gunners have now failed to score from open play in their last five Premier League fixtures.

And their impotence in front of goal has been made all the more stark by playmaker Mesut Ozil's exile from first-team affairs.

Mikel Arteta's side drew another blank in Saturday's draw with Leeds, though were hindered largely by Nicolas Pepe's sending off.

But former Arsenal striker Ian Wright believes his old club would have benefited more from having substitute Bukayo Saka on the pitch for the full 90 minutes, and praised him for being the Gunners' biggest creative spark.

Saka had an opportunity to grab a late winner for Arsenal but spurned his chance, though Wright was quick to divert blame from the teenager.

"You like to think with the time he had, you think ‘can he take it there?’ that was his opportunity but we’re talking about an 18-year-old [actually 19] that we’re putting a lot on in terms of expectation for Arsenal," Wright told Premier League Productions.

"He’s come off the bench and was arguably our best creative player that we had on the pitch.

"As time goes on he’ll learn he could have maybe taken that a bit quicker but it was a chance that if Arsenal could have won the game with that you’d have said we got away with one."

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Mikel Arteta's Gunners have been starved of title glory for a while now – but things could be changing as a new-look Arsenal side plot a course to success.

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New signings Gabriel Magalhaes and Thomas Partey have hit the ground running following their big money summer arrivals, and the new-look Gunners are going all out for a top four spot and Europa League glory this term.

The Mesut Ozil situation continues to hang in the background and there's plenty going on in North London to keep abreast of.

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Saka had started on the bench after a busy international period where he played in all three of England's fixtures.

The youngster was not able to finish the clash at Elland Road though, despite only coming on in the 57th minute, after being hit by a hefty challenge which forced him back off.

Wright added: "Hopefully he’s not too bad with the injury because we need him. You can see that. We need that guy."

Who is Arsenal's most creative player? Have your say below.

Arteta is now sweating on the fitness of Saka for Arsenal's Europa League clash away in Molde on Thursday, before they welcome Wolves to the Emirates a few days later.

Providing an update on the midfielder's fitness, Arteta told the club’s official website : "He was in pain.

"We're going to have to assess with the medical staff how bad it is, but it looked like a pretty bad challenge and he was in pain so we decided to take him out straight away."

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Arsenal hero Freddie Ljungberg singles out one star for praise after Leeds draw

Former Arsenal star Freddie Ljungberg labelled Bukayo Saka 'very good', after the England international came off the bench in the 0-0 draw with Leeds United.

Marcelo Bielsa's side hit the woodwork three times and had 25 shots in total but they were unable to make the most of their man advantage, after Nicolas Pepe was sent off for violent conduct.

However, Saka almost snatched a win for Arsenal after coming off the bench in the second half to replace Joe Willock.

Saka broke into the penalty area but his effort was denied by an excellent save from Illan Meslier in between the sticks.

Unfortunately for the Gunners, Saka was forced off before the end of the game with an injury and manager Mikel Arteta has offered an update on the youngster.

Speaking in his post match press conference, Arteta said: "Yeah he was in pain. I don't know we're going to have to assess with the medical staff how bad it is. It looked a pretty bad challenge and he was in pain so we decided to take him out straight away.

Despite the injury concern, Ljungberg was impressed with Saka's cameo, telling Sky Sports: "Leeds were very, very good today. They created a lot of chances. One of those should go in.

  • Arsenal fans praise Kieran Tierney for squaring up to Leeds’ Ezgjan Alioski over red card

"But I thought Bukayo [Saka] was very good when he came on and could have nicked it towards the end there. Arsenal were maybe a bit lucky. But they almost got a goal and that was their plan after the red card."

Reflecting on the draw, Hector Bellerin said: "I have to say as a player I have mixed feelings, I am not someone who gets happy with a draw, but taking into consideration the opposition and the fact we had 10 men.

"We looked really solid, obviously they created chances but the team responded really well. We both had chances, we go home with a draw and it is one of those games you need to forget about and move on to the next one, because we have a busy schedule coming up.

"Coming to Elland Road, you know you are going to have a tough game, a team who have been working for a few years with Marcelo Bielsa, tactically very brave and intelligent, when you have to defend in the whole second half it gets tiring in your brain, rather than your body.

"I am happy we didn't concede and still looked solid."

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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta can’t hide anger after ‘unacceptable’ Pepe red card

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta could not hide his disappointment after Nicolas Pepe's red card against Leeds United.

The struggling Ivorian was sent for an early bath after headbutting opponent Ezgjan Alioski off the ball during the 0-0 draw at Elland Road.

Pepe's behaviour could see him struggle to get back into Arteta's side after suspension, with the Gunners boss fuming with his star player at full-time.

"Considering how early we got Pepe sent off we have to take it," he told Sky Sports.

"I never like a draw but in the circumstances it's a point. It is unacceptable. Unacceptable. At this level you cannot do it."

Speaking before kick-off, Sky Sports pundit Patrice Evra insisted Pepe may just need time to settle properly in England, just as he did after arriving at Manchester United from Marseille.

"I have so much respect for the French league but you need a moment to adapt like myself," he said.

"When I joined Manchester United I thought I was the best left-back in the world, after my first game I realised Premier League is a different game.

"You just need to understand that."

Pepe recently admitted Arteta wanted him to be focused for the entirety of a match, something he failed to do today.

"My goal is to play more. Have a little more playing time," Pepe told French outlet Canal Plus recently.

"A player who plays is happy. For me, I would like to play a little more to find a smile again.

"He [Arteta] wants me to be 100 per cent focused during the 90 minutes of the match.

Pepe has only found the net once in his last 14 games for Arsenal in the Premier League.

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Mikel Arteta ‘wanted Chelsea star’ to play alongside Thomas Partey for Arsenal

Arsenal were keen on adding Chelsea's Jorginho in the summer as they sought a creative midfielder.

The Gunners managed to secure the services of Thomas Partey on transfer deadline day.

Already it looks £40m well spent with the Ghanaian making an instant impact in Mikel Arteta's midfield.

His physical presence has added extra grit to the midfield but Arsenal were also hopeful of adding another midfielder to compliment him.

Lyon's Houseem Aouar was heavily linked with a switch to the Emirates but they were unable to sign the 22-year-old.

Jorginho though was another man on Arteta's shortlist.

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The Italian is in third third year at Stamford Bridge and has begun to win over the Chelsea fans having copped plenty of criticism early on.

Jorginho has confessed that talks did initially take place over a switch across London with Arsenal viewing him as a genuine summer target, reports the Athletic.

The Gunners though had a restricted transfer budget and were unable to get a deal done.

They were looking to pay for the player in installments, but Chelsea were not interested.

"I believe that every player is open to negotiations," the midfielder told ESPN Brazil last month when questioned on the move.

"So I believe there was something they talked about. And in the end it was decided that I remain here.

"Now my head is here and we’re going to do a great job with Chelsea, which I always wanted to do."

Arsenal remain keen on adding a creative player in the middle of the pitch and will no doubt review their options in the New Year.

Jorginho played 44 times for the Blues last term and continues to be a part of Frank Lampard's plans despite a summer of change.

Would Jorginho improve Arsenal's midfield? Have your say here .

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Arsenal eye Dominik Szoboszlai transfer and seek to break down release clause

Arsenal are exploring ways to structure a deal for highly-rated midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai, who has a £23million release clause at RB Salzburg.

Szoboszlai, 20, has already racked up 22 goals in 74 appearances for the Austrian side, helping them to three league titles and two Austrian Cups.

The Hungary international has caught the attention of European giants after he was named Austrian Bundesliga Player of the Season last campaign.

Szoboszlai has also started this term strongly, with five goals and nine assists in 13 appearances in all competitions.

Chief among the attacking midfielder's suitors are the Gunners, who are exploring means of financing a deal.

Mirror Football understands the Arsenal hierarchy hopes to prise Szoboszlai from Red Bull Arena by meeting his release clause in three yearly instalments, rather than as an up-front sum.

Gunners boss Mikel Arteta is keen to add a creative midfield force to his side's ranks after he missed out on Lyon star Houssem Aouar last summer.

Szoboszlai fits the bill and is also accustomed to playing on either flank, though Arsenal will face stiff competition to land their target.

Which positions do Arsenal need to strengthen most? Have your say here.

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Salzburg's sister club RB Leipzig, Real Madrid and AC Milan are all monitoring the situation, while Jesse Marsch admits the player will be hugely sought-after in the January window.

"The reality is that a guy like Dominik Szoboszlai is likely to have many suitors this winter," Salzburg boss Marsch told the Futbol with Grant Wahl podcast .

"He’s an incredible talent, and I say this: When you coach young players, you have to love them and love the fact that they’re going to move on and love that they’re going to have big opportunities to prove themselves and show how good they are.

"If you’re only worried about how it affects your success, then you’re not really going to ever be effective at coaching and leading young people.

"So with a guy like Dominik, I mean, I want him to show everyone in the world how good he is.

"So let’s see what happens, but I would be surprised if he winds up staying past winter. We play with teenagers, and of course when they do well a lot of clubs get really excited."

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