Mikel Arteta earned his first win as Arsenal boss as the Gunners produced a powerful first-half performance to beat a lacklustre Manchester United.
The visitors, who were without the injured Paul Pogba, actually began brightly, but the game took a different turn on eight minutes when Nicolas Pepe steered in his fifth goal of the season after Sead Kolasinac’s cross was deflected to him.
That led to a first half in which the hosts were in control and Pepe hit the post before they doubled their lead when his corner was smashed in from close range by Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
Ole Gunnar Solskajer’s side came into the game with one loss in their previous nine games, and although they improved after the break, they rarely tested Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
It was characteristic of a stop-start season in which they are yet to win three Premier League games in a row.
The defeat leaves them fifth in the table, five points behind Chelsea, who drew with Brighton earlier in the day.
Victory for Arsenal lifts them to 10th place, four points behind United, but they remain closer to the relegation zone than the top four.
Pepe peps up Arsenal
There had been little evidence of a lift in Arsenal’s three performances since Arteta was appointed, and questions were already being asked as to whether he was the right man to take over from former boss Unai Emery, given his lack of experience as a manager.
Arteta was just an onlooker in the stands for the lifeless draw at Everton, but that was followed by a 1-1 draw with Bournemouth on Boxing Day and a crushing late defeat by Chelsea at home last Sunday.
This was a different game altogether, though. With Granit Xhaka, who has been linked with a move to Hertha Berlin, restored to the midfield, the Swiss and Lucas Torreira were quicker to the tackle than their opponents.
Pepe was also at the heart of their attacking endeavour.
After scoring early on, he sent United left-back Luke Shaw halfway down the Holloway Road with a sharp turn before setting up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who sliced a volley over.
The Ivorian then fed Alexandre Lacazette, who somehow hit his shot out for a throw-in from about six yards out, before Torreira went close from another Pepe pass.
The hosts had to withstand greater pressure from Solskjaer’s side in the second period but in contrast to the Chelsea defeat, when they conceded twice in the last seven minutes, Arteta’s side managed the game well.
Their only concerns were injuries to Kolasinac and Lacazette, who were both taken off in the second half.
Pogba-less United show further cause for concern
Manchester United improved after the break, but it would have been hard not to do so after a poor first half.
Marcus Rashford had tested Bernd Leno in the first minute, but once they went behind to Pepe’s opener, they struggled to match Arsenal’s superior energy in midfield.
Jesse Lingard, who returned to the starting line-up, was hardly involved while Nemanja Matic could not get to grips with Mesut Ozil, Torreira or Xhaka, who were often one step ahead.
It was another game where Solskjaer’s team missed the influence of Pogba, who has not started a game in three months, and the mystery over his omission continued as the United boss said he had picked up an ankle injury which could keep him out for a few weeks.
Prior to the game, it had been hinted that Pogba would be fit to play.
United did lift their game once Lingard was substituted, with his replacement Andreas Pereira almost making an instant impact as he hit the side netting.
There were also chances for Fred and substitute Mason Greenwood, but without the injured Scott McTominay, and the ongoing problems with Pogba, United looked short on creativity in midfield and need to find solutions quickly should they want to maintain a top-four challenge.
Man of the Match – Nicolas Pepe
Arsenal host Leeds on Monday 6 January in the FA Cup third round (kick-off 19:56 GMT), while Manchester United travel to Wolves on Saturday, 4 January (kick-off 17:31) in a repeat of their quarter-final defeat last season.
Goals from academy gradates Joe Willock and Bukayo Saka helped Arsenal overcome a difficult test against Eintracht Frankfurt and begin their Europa League campaign with a victory.
Willock put the Gunners in front with a deflected shot in the first half before Saka smashed in his first senior goal for the club in the 85th minute.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang added a third two minutes later as Arsenal ended their three-game winless run.
The Gunners had created further chances but also relied on goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez to come to the aid of their fragile defence.
The Argentine produced excellent low saves to deny Filip Kostic and Andre Silva in the first half.
The second period was frantic in front of a vociferous home crowd with Arsenal’s late goals only coming after Dominik Kohr was shown a second yellow card for a cynical foul.
The Gunners, beaten finalists in last year’s Europa League, are top of the early Group F table on goal difference after Standard Liege beat Vitoria in the night’s other game.
Youngsters star in attack
Manager Unai Emery opted for a mix of youth and experience for the game in Germany, despite it arguably being Arsenal’s toughest test in Group F, and it was their young players who stood out.
Eighteen-year-old Saka, playing for the first team for the first time this season and fifth time in total, was excellent on the left flank, scoring once and setting up the other two goals.
He created Willock’s goal by beating his marker with fine skill in midfield and was the main threat for the Gunners in the first half.
The only criticism was he spurned a number of chances to increase Arsenal’s lead but he silenced those doubts with an emphatic finish from the edge of the area late on.
Willock played as the Gunners most advanced central midfielder and offered a goal threat but also linked play well, notably with a fine driving run in the second half which ended with Martin Hinteregger excellently blocking an Aubameyang shot.
The scoreline flattered Arsenal in the end but the game will be most memorable for the performance of their youngsters.
Defensive issues remain
The Gunners came into the game on the back of their disappointing 2-2 draw against Watford, after which their defensive display was heavily criticised as they spurned a two-goal lead.
Although Arsenal kept a second clean sheet of the season, they still looked uncertain at the back and allowed Eintracht 24 shots on goal – seven fewer than the Hornets’ 31 on Sunday.
Arsenal’s deeper midfielders Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira failed to control proceedings with the second half end-to-end until Kohr was dismissed.
Eintracht, who reached the semi-finals of the Europa League last season before losing on penalties to Chelsea, lost strikers Sebastien Haller and Luka Jovic to West Ham and Real Madrid respectively in the summer and had either been in their line-up on Thursday, Arsenal’s slack defence may have been punished.
Kostic caused right-back Calum Chambers significant problems but was wasteful, as was AC Milan loanee Silva, who shot well wide in the second half when given another good opportunity.
That said, Martinez, brought in for first-choice goalkeeper Bernd Leno, impressed with key saves in the first half and assured handling when called upon.
Man of the match – Bukayo Saka
‘A dream come true’ – reaction
Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka: “I’m so happy to score for Arsenal, it’s a dream come true – I have been dreaming of this moment since I was a kid.
“I just want to keep working hard to make sure I can feel this feeling again.”
Arsenal manager Unai Emery: “We knew tonight was going to be difficult, they fell back very deep and caused us problems early on.
“We recovered the ball well and the young players showed the confidence to take their chances.
“Everybody can be happy and continuing in this competition is important, so it was good to get a good win, especially away from home.”
Eintracht coach Adi Hutter: “It’s a bitter defeat for us, because the performance does not reflect that result.
“When it was still 1-0 for Arsenal, we tried to score the equaliser but then conceded another one.
“The important thing is for us to create chances, I have seen enough of those. A goal can help open some doors, give you a boost, that did not happen today.”
Aubameyang’s goal-scoring run – the best stats
- Arsenal have only lost one of their 13 group stage games in the Europa League (W10 D2), while this was their sixth consecutive clean sheet in the group stage of the competition.
- Arsenal picked up their first European away win against German opposition since November 2013 (1-0 v Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League), having failed to win on any of their previous five trips (D1 L4).
- Eintracht Frankfurt suffered their heaviest home defeat across European competitions – in what was their 74th such game on home soil.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has netted seven goals in his last seven Europa League appearances for Arsenal, with four of those coming away from home.
- Bukayo Saka is the youngest player to score for Arsenal in the Europa League/Champions League since October 2008, when Aaron Ramsey (17y 300d) netted against Fenerbahce.
|Betfred Super League|
|Wakefield Trinity (8) 19|
|Tries: Hampshire 2, Lyne Goals: Brough 3 Drop goal: Brough|
|London Broncos (0) 10|
|Tries: Walker, Lamb Goals: Dixon|
London Broncos suffered relegation from Super League for the second time in five years as they were beaten by rivals Wakefield Trinity at Belle Vue.
Danny Brough’s early penalty followed by two converted tries from Ryan Hampshire either side of the break gave Trinity a 14-0 lead.
Reece Lyne then added another try, followed by Brough’s drop goal.
Alex Walker pulled a try back late on before Brock Lamb scored with the final play but Broncos still go down.
With all four relegation-threatened teams on 20 points at the start of the evening, it was always likely to be a dramatic night, and Broncos were full of hope having twice beaten Wakefield this season.
They marked their return to Super League back in February with a 42-24 victory over Wakefield in Ealing, then then won again 42-34 at home in May, when winger Jordan Abdull ran in a joint Super League season’s best four tries on the night.
But Wakefield kept their heads and simply proved too solid.
Following Brough’s early penalty, Broncos wasted two good chances to get on the scoreboard,
Kieran Dixon pulled his attempt wide with a very kickable penalty, before the winger then failed to grab hold of an awkward lofted pass in the right corner – and the chance was gone
Trinity winger Ben Jones-Bishop, up against his old club, then knocked on trying to get on the end of Brough’s kick to the right corner
But the first try of the night came for Hampshire on 24 minutes, Brough kicking the goal for an 8-0 half-time lead.
Then four minutes into the second half Hampshire got in again at the left corner, Brough again added the extras – and it was 14-0.
On 53 minutes, Trinity added a try out wide on the right from Lyne and, although Brough this time missed the kick, the hosts still went into the final quarter with an an 18-point cushion.
Brough’s one-pointer with 13 minutes left made it safe, but Broncos typically had the final say.
Walker scored on the right and, although Dixon missed the kick, he then got it right when he improved Lamb’s last-gasp try.
More to follow.
Wakefield: Escare; Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Atkins, Hampshire; Miller, Brough; Kopczak, Randell, Tangata, Kirmond, Tanginoa, Crowther.
Interchanges: Wood, Green, King, Arundel.
London Broncos: Walker; Dixon, Morgan, Kear, Williams; Abdull, Lamb; Battye, Cunningham, Butler, Gee, Pitts, Yates.
Interchanges: Fozard, Mason, Hindmarsh, Lovell.
Referee: Robert Hicks (RFL).
Tammy Abraham repaid manager Frank Lampard’s faith in youth as his two goals against Norwich helped Chelsea to their first win of the season.
In a frantic start, Abraham opened the scoring inside three minutes for the Blues, whose starting line-up had an average age of 24 years and 208 days – their youngest in the Premier League since February 1994.
But Norwich equalised just 156 seconds later, Todd Cantwell finishing from close range from a Teemu Pukki cross.
Mason Mount restored the Blues’ lead midway through the first half with his second goal of the season, but the Canaries soon pulled level once more as Pukki slotted in from a tight angle for his fifth of the campaign.
Chelsea dominated the start of the second half and were rewarded through Abraham’s second – an unstoppable drive past Tim Krul – before Kurt Zouma had a goal ruled out by the video assistant referee after substitute Olivier Giroud was judged to have fouled the Norwich keeper.
The result means Chelsea are unbeaten against Norwich in 16 meetings.
Chelsea youth stay patient
Lampard made two changes to the side that drew with Leicester last weekend, bringing in Abraham and Mateo Kovacic for Giroud and the injured N’Golo Kante, but he was forced to make another change after Pedro picked up a hamstring problem in the warm-up, replacing him with Ross Barkley.
His trust in his younger players paid dividends inside the opening 20 minutes at Carrow Road, with Abraham – who he said before kick-off would “cause Norwich problems” – finishing off Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross with a sweet finish into the bottom right-hand corner in the opening stages of the match.
Just 11 minutes after Cantwell’s equaliser for Norwich, Mount – who Lampard had on loan at Derby last season – cut inside the hosts’ defence and unleashed an unstoppable shot high into the net.
Despite Norwich’s second leveller, Chelsea continued to pressure their opponents’ shaky defence and Mount and Christian Pulisic both saw efforts go wide within moments of the second half getting under way.
Abraham’s second goal saw him become the youngest Chelsea player to score twice in a Premier League fixture since 1998, twisting and turning and tying Grant Hanley and Jamal Lewis in knots before firing past Krul.
The Blues thought they had scored again when Zouma poked a loose ball home, but the VAR got involved after referee Martin Atkinson had initially awarded the goal.
The only downside to Chelsea’s victory came late on as Mount hobbled off injured.
Canaries chirpy start slows down
Premier League newcomers Norwich have quickly established themselves as a side not to be underestimated this season and they demonstrated that early on against Chelsea as Finnish striker Pukki – the Canaries’ hat-trick hero against Newcastle – put the ball on a plate for Cantwell to score his first goal in the top flight.
After Mount’s goal, Chelsea enjoyed a spell of sustained pressure and Norwich had Krul to thank for not slipping further behind, the keeper producing a sublime save to swipe an Andreas Christensen header over the bar.
The hosts were soon level though, Pukki effortlessly slotting home to become only the 10th player to have scored in his first three Premier League appearances.
Norwich struggled to match Chelsea’s tempo after the break and had to wait more than 20 minutes for their first attack of the second half, but were punished just 30 seconds later as Abraham bagged his second.
Ben Godfrey hit the bar with a header from a corner soon after but manager Daniel Farke ruled change was needed, making a triple substitution with 10 minutes to go as his side searched for a late equaliser.
It worked to some extent, Norwich pushing Chelsea harder in the later stages than they had throughout the half but ultimately struggling to find the end product.
Man of the match – Mason Mount (Chelsea)
‘I’m really pleased’ – what they said
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, speaking to BBC Match of the Day: “It was a tough test and Norwich will get a lot of points here because they are a good side.
“The two goals we gave away I didn’t like but there were lots of good elements to our play and I’m really pleased.
“I’m particularly pleased for Tammy – he scored two good goals and the winning goal – but I want to talk about all the players today as we controlled the game on a hot day. Our performances haven’t given us what we deserved so far – but today it did.
“Pedro felt his hamstring in the warm-up but Mason was just a kick to his calf so hopefully he can quickly recover.”
Norwich manager Daniel Farke, speaking to BT Sport: “It was a pretty close game. Small details made the difference today.
“I think 2-2 at half time was the right result. Then Chelsea were dominating in the first 15 minutes of the second half and that gave them the edge.
“Sometimes when you play against a team like Chelsea, you have to ride that pressure out. I am pretty happy with the performance, we had a number of chances, unfortunately we could not find the equaliser.”
- Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has lost none of his three managerial meetings with Norwich (W2 D1), winning both of his visits to Carrow Road (also 4-3 with Derby in December 2018) – Mason Mount has been on the scoresheet in both such wins.
- Norwich have scored at least twice in 16 of their last 17 home league games, scoring a total of 46 goals in this period. However, this was their first home league defeat of 2019 (P12 W8 D3 L1).
- Both Norwich and Chelsea had scored after just five minutes and 32 seconds, the earliest time taken for both teams to find the net in a Premier League fixture since November 2017, when Crystal Palace v Everton was at 1-1 after 5:25.
- Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham has scored 28 league goals (including in the play-offs) since the start of last season, the most of any English player in the top two tiers of English football in that time.
- Aged 21 years and 326 days old, Abraham is the third youngest player to score a brace in the Premier League for Chelsea, after Mark Nicholls in January 1998 against Coventry (20y 225d) and Eddie Newton in December 1992 against Tottenham (20y 358d).
- Norwich forward Teemu Pukki (five goals) is the 10th player to score in each of his first three Premier League appearances, while only Pavel Pogrebnyak also scored as many as five in his first three in the competition.
- Chelsea had two English players aged 21 or under score in the same Premier League match (Abraham and Mason Mount) for the first time since 22 August 1992, when Eddie Newton and Graham Stuart scored against Sheffield Wednesday.
- Norwich’s Todd Cantwell (one goal, two assists) has already been directly involved in as many Premier League goals in three games as he was in 24 Championship appearances last season.
- Since the start of last season, Norwich’s league matches have seen a total of 164 goals scored (99 for, 65 against), more than any other side in the top four tiers of English football in this time (excluding play-offs).
Following a trip to Crawley in the EFL Cup on Tuesday (19:45 BST), Norwich travel to West Ham on Saturday (15:00 BST) while Chelsea host Sheffield United at the same time.