Frank Lampard is wary of the manager of the month "curse" after he and Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy earned the Premier League awards for October.

Chelsea triumphed in all three league games they played last month, seeing a seven-match winning run finally ended in the EFL Cup on October 30, to earn Lampard the division's top coaching gong.

Meanwhile, Vardy scored four Premier League goals - including a hat-trick in the record-breaking 9-0 demolition of Southampton - for high-flying Leicester.

Discussing his recognition in a news conference on Friday, Lampard was asked about the "curse" that sees recipients of the manager of the month award lose their next match.

Lampard revealed he was superstitious as a player and so had considered this when learning of his prize.

"I have heard of it. I know of it and I am relatively superstitious," he said. "I was always as a player and I have carried it into my management.

"So hopefully the players can go out and prove the curse wrong tomorrow, because we want to keep our momentum."

Lampard was pleased with the award, though, while insisting the club as a whole deserved to be credited.

"It doesn't confirm to me that I am doing a good job, albeit it is a nice award to get on an individual basis," he said.

"It certainly is an award that relates to much more than that for what the club is doing and the people working behind the scenes. I appreciate it and I receive it for not just myself."

Pep Guardiola has called on Merseyside police to ensure there is no repeat of the 2018 attack on Manchester City's bus when they face off with Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday.

City's bus was damaged when making its way to the ground for the first leg of a Champions League quarter-final tie against the Reds, which Liverpool won 3-0.

This week, a poster circulated on social media in which fans were encouraged to "greet" City's coach ahead of the top-of-the-table Premier League clash.

And Guardiola urged police to make sure his team arrive without incident.

"No. Hopefully it will not happen again, so the police knew about [it] for the Champions League game before and didn't do anything," he said. 

"I don't know what they are going to do, hopefully it will be an incredible game at Anfield for the Premier League and for all around the world. 

"That is what we want. Hopefully it's not going to happen, the same that happened two seasons ago when we arrive, which was more than one bottle."

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp issued a similar message, calling on fans to provide vociferous vocal backing in the stands but not to engage in "senseless" acts.

"I'm a big believer of fan power – in the stadium. That's completely different. [The coach incident] was a senseless thing," Klopp said. 

"If somebody at Man City is concerned still, then it's our fault. Not that we did it all together, we all didn't throw the bottle or whatever it was, but it was one of us. That's why we are responsible. 

"All of us have to make sure that something like this will never happen again. It's long ago and since then nothing has happened. I don't think it was Man City specific. 

"After the punishment we got, we haven't had a similar situation – the positive outcome of something like this. 

"Actually, we used to enjoy that [the coach welcome], when we come in, it's impressive. It's a nice part of football, but if you overstep the line then it's not allowed that you do it anymore. 

"That's how it is. I wish I could say it will never happen again but unfortunately I can't. But what I can say is we will do everything that it will never happen again. 

"Everybody agrees to feel this responsibility that it won't happen again. That's why I say – go in the stadium, nothing to do outside, have your food, go in, wait for the team, we will come, let's make a pretty special game of it."

Superintendent Paul White issued a statement on Merseyside Police's official website addressing the poster doing the rounds on social media and insisted they are doing all they can to ensure there are no major incidents.

"As with any match, a comprehensive and appropriate policing operation has been put in place ahead of Sunday's game and we have liaised with both clubs and their supporter groups," he said.

"We are aware of one poster on social media regarding a bus welcome. The corresponding last fixture ran smoothly and we are working to ensure this game can be enjoyed safely by all as well as minimising any disruption to local residents and roads.

"As with all Premier League fixtures at Anfield, we will have officers on duty at the ground, both uniformed and plain clothed, supported by mobile CCTV, provided by Liverpool City Council, and specialist resources including the Dog Section, mounted police and the National Police Air Service. We will also have a city centre policing plan in place throughout the day. This is standard procedure. 

"We know that this will be a busy operation and we hope that fans attending the match will act as ambassadors for their clubs. 

"As usual we would ask fans with tickets to arrive at the ground as early as possible. Fans without tickets should not attend at all; they will not be allowed entry into the stadium."

Granit Xhaka has said he is not ready to return for Arsenal in Saturday's Premier League trip to Leicester City, head coach Unai Emery has confirmed.

The midfielder has not featured for the Gunners since being stripped of the captaincy after his outburst towards fans during the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace on October 27.

Emery says Xhaka is not in the right frame of mind to feature for the first team, even though he has been dedicated in training this week.

"Not yet," Emery told reporters on Friday when asked if Xhaka would be back in the squad.

"I spoke with him on Tuesday about how he's feeling now and how he is in his mind. He's working well, he's training well, but he said to me that he's not feeling good enough at the moment to play. We are going to wait."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was named Arsenal's new captain and Emery has backed the striker to embrace the role.

"I can remember how we did the process because last year the captains were Laurent Koscielny, Petr Cech, Aaron Ramsey and Nacho Monreal," said Emery. "They left the team, at the last moment as well, Koscielny. In that moment I decided, and also I used the characteristics to find a captain.

"After I started with Granit Xhaka because he has the quality to take the captain's responsibility. Then after the [Palace] issue, I decided it was better for him not to. Next in line is Aubameyang, the second after him is [Hector] Bellerin, third is [Alexandre] Lacazette and the fourth is Mesut Ozil.

"The first is Aubameyang because he has experience and he has the respect in the dressing room. He was the top scorer last year in the Premier League and also I know he needs time to take that responsibility 100 per cent. But we are going to support him.

"Every player, we are going to support the four captains, and we are going to support him as our first captain because he has also made one extra step to achieve that responsibility.

"For example, Sokratis [Papastathopoulos] said everybody can take responsibility as a captain. We want to be a strong family here and I know for the supporters it is very important who is the first face, in front, with the captain's responsibility. I decided to give it to Auba and everybody also agreed with that decision and now I am telling you he needs time to take that responsibility with confidence, but we give him that confidence, I give him that confidence. He has the quality and the values to do perfectly with that responsibility."

Emery's own position is under scrutiny following a run of one win in six games in all competitions, while Leicester are six points above them in the Premier League table.

While he insists he has not spoken to the board about his future, Emery believes off-field problems - such as the issue around Xhaka and the attempted armed robbery of Sead Kolasinac and Ozil in July - have complicated the Gunners' situation.

"We need to improve and also we are in one process," he said. "First we are speaking about the captain's circumstances, then also some circumstances with some players - with Sead Kolasinac and with Mesut Ozil - then also circumstances that didn't help us with Granit Xhaka. For example, we're losing one player at the moment, Granit Xhaka, who is important for us and the way we play, but I have confidence in the players and in our work.

"I know we are in one process and we are speaking with the club about the responsibility of the club, and they are supporting us, and the players are supporting me. We know we are taking one responsibility with the young players, but the young players need one process to achieve that responsibility and their performance in the team, but we are helping them."

Pep Guardiola described Anfield as the toughest stadium in the world to visit right now, but insisted Manchester City are not out of the Premier League title race if they lose to Liverpool on Sunday.

The build-up to the mouth-watering top-of-the-table clash has been dominated by talk of diving and tactical fouls, although City boss Guardiola and Reds counterpart Jurgen Klopp have done their bit to ease the tension.

Last season City took four points from the Reds, a return that proved decisive as they pipped Liverpool – who lost just once in the league – to the title by a solitary point.

Guardiola described the triumph as one of the greatest of his career and recognised the difficulty of playing at a stadium where Liverpool have not lost any of their previous 45 league games.

"As a manager, I said last season when we won the league, they're the best contender I ever faced in my career to win this league," he said. 

"It was the biggest achievement, or one of the biggest achievements, as a club. It remains the same. Probably right now they're the strongest team in the world.

"They are an exceptional team. Of course, the history is there for itself. It's something special, I think more for the quality of the team of what they do, quality of players they have, quality of manager they have, I believe more in that, in the team, than the scenario [atmosphere at Liverpool]. 

"Right now it's [Anfield] one of the toughest ones, right now in Europe it’s the toughest stadiums to go there."

Unbeaten Liverpool can open up a nine-point gap over City with victory on home soil, but Guardiola insists defeat will not mean the end of their title aspirations.

"I don't know to be honest, I think in November it never ends. I think we have a lot of games still to play," he added. 

"My experience in sport is you have to play until the end, are we going to win Champions League? Your favourite question! I don't know the answer.

"They lost one game last season, this season they are unbeaten so I think they won't lose many but the season is long."

Guardiola this week sought to clarify comments he made about Liverpool forward Sadio Mane and "diving", which drew a retort from Klopp bringing up previous accusations the Catalan's teams are guilty of "tactical fouls".

But Guardiola gave a prickly reply when the issue was brought up again, saying: "I said in Italy, no comment. 

"Ask the other managers. I know exactly what I said to my players in the last 11 years about what we have to do. I know exactly."

It was put to Guardiola that his rivalry with Klopp could potentially stand up to the one between legendary Manchester United and Arsenal bosses Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

But Guardiola said it is far too soon to draw such comparisons.

"Well, I will wait [to see] if my hair grows in the next 20 years because they were more than 20 years together," he said. 

"I think we cannot compare anyone with the rivals of Ferguson and Wenger. Absolute legends in their clubs, they were more than one or two decades there." 

Son Heung-min's two-goal performance in Tottenham's 4-0 win over Red Star Belgrade confirmed his strong psychological state, according to Mauricio Pochettino.

South Korea star Son led Spurs to a convincing Champions League victory in Serbia three days on from his part in the incident that left Everton midfielder Andre Gomes with a fracture dislocation to his right ankle.

Son's challenge contributed to Gomes colliding with Serge Aurier and earned him a red card, which has since been rescinded.

The 27-year-old forward was visibly distressed after witnessing the extent of the sickening injury but held his starting spot and excelled in what was a crucial European encounter for Tottenham.

"He was affected like everyone, during the game and after the game. It is difficult to see a player suffering a massive injury," Pochettino said.

"He was involved, there was a bit of confusion in the action, with the decision to show the red card. He felt responsible, then when we concede with 10 men.

"But he wasn't guilty for the injury, and he showed that he is in a good state and mental level.

"Of course he is sorry about Andre, like everyone, but it was a big relief with the message from Andre on social media, which was good and positive, and Son is now training and recovering well."

Tottenham appear on course to reach the Champions League knockout stages but continue to struggle for form domestically.

Pochettino's men are winless in four Premier League games and sit 11th in the table, 10 points adrift of the top four.

The Spurs boss hopes the midweek taste of success can be the catalyst for a better run of results, beginning with Saturday's home game against Sheffield United.

"I hope yes, hopefully keep in the same way," he said. "It was a difficult game [in Belgrade]. The result, 4-0, looks easy, but in different periods we suffered and nearly conceded.

"They hit the post and there was an unbelievable save from Paulo [Gazzaniga] that could have changed the game.

"Always you need luck to score first and then have the capacity to control. I was happy after Everton and after Red Star, but we need to finish winning. But we know it will be tough against Sheffield."

Tottenham's date with the Blades takes place just over 24 hours before the much-anticipated Anfield showdown between Liverpool and Manchester City, of which Pochettino will be an excited observer.

"Of course. I love football," he said.

"I love different sports - I love tennis, I love paddle tennis, I love golf, but my priority is football and to have the possibility to watch the game on Sunday - I don't know if I will be home or where I will be - but for sure these two hours I will spend watching the game, because my priority is football."

Ruben Loftus-Cheek is still set to be out for "a while" due to injury but Antonio Rudiger could be back in full training in three weeks' time, Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has said.

Chelsea have been without England international Loftus-Cheek since he ruptured his Achilles tendon in May.

The midfielder claimed this week he was "close" to a return, but head coach Lampard suggests this is not the case.

Lampard is keen for a patient approach to be taken with Loftus-Cheek, although he understands the player's desperation to get back playing.

"It's a long road," the Blues boss told a news conference. "It's a difficult one for Ruben, because we want him back, we all know his quality. But it's going to be a while, it's going to be a while.

"I feel for him, because people will ask and the thing to say would be, 'Yeah, I'm really pushing on, it might be next week, it might be next month'.

"But I don't think that's quite the case. We need to let him get on with it. We're all supporting him here. There's no immediate news."

A similar situation occurred last week with Rudiger, who has played just once since a serious knee injury in April.

The Germany defender declared himself fit but Lampard intervened, revealing the player would be visiting a consultant due to an ongoing groin issue.

Lampard provided an update on Friday, though, and is now hopeful the problem has been solved.

"[Rudiger] had an operation and he's going to be out for probably about three weeks hopefully," Lampard said. "Then we'll have to see how the match fitness comes in, because it's a long time Toni's been out now.

"It was nice to get something definitive about it. We've been trying to find a solution, Toni's been having some issues, and it's not easy for someone in that position.

"Hopefully we are at that case now and, in three weeks' time, we'll be in a better place."

He added: "You're going to do well to cover quality players. We've not had N'Golo [Kante] for a big part of the season, Ruben Loftus-Cheek we've not had, Toni, of course, we've not had.

"So that's one of the nice stories in terms of the rest of the squad, but we'll gladly take them all back."

Jurgen Klopp has called on everyone associated with Liverpool, from supporters to the hot dog sellers, to get fully behind their side in Sunday's showdown with Manchester City.

The Premier League leaders welcome City to Anfield knowing that victory will move them nine points clear of the reigning champions with nearly a third of the season played.

Liverpool's only loss in their last 50 league outings came against this weekend's opponents in January as City overturned a seven-point deficit to win the title ahead of the Reds.

"The improvement the boys have made is obvious. We have to play our best game on Sunday," Klopp said at Friday's pre-match news conference.

"Everyone in the stadium has to be in absolutely top shape - even the guy who sells the hot dogs has to be in the top shape. Get to the stadium early, wait for the warm-up, be there.

"You can't make games bigger than they are already. At Anfield, that's really cool. Everything is prepared for a really good football game. It will be one, but not sure for whom."

The two sides have been involved in a number of tense matches in recent times, most recently August's Community Shield clash that City won on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

Liverpool have lost only one of their last 28 top-flight home games with City and Klopp urged his side to "be brave" in the potential title decider.

"It's a big game, two really good teams facing each other at Anfield, under the floodlights," he said.

"The last three games we played 0-0 at home, then lost 2-1 at the Etihad where we nearly scored a goal and then the last one was a draw in the Community Shield, before we lost the shoot-out.

"It will be a good football game. I'm not sure whether it will be just from a coaches and tactical point of view or a spectacle one for supporters.

"But everything is on a plate and no one hides anything, we cannot only be offensive but you have to be brave against Manchester City - even for a point."

The Champions League quarter-final meeting between the sides in April 2018 was marred by unsavoury pre-match events that saw City's team bus come under attack from Liverpool fans outside Anfield.

Merseyside Police has assured City's players and staff that steps have been taken to avoid a repeat this weekend, though Klopp can understand the visitors' concerns.

"If someone from City worries still, it's our fault," he said.

"We didn't all throw bottles [at the coach], but it was one of us. All of us have to make sure that something like that never happens again. We will do everything to make sure it doesn't happen again.

"It's long ago and since then nothing has happened. I don't think it was Man City specific. After the punishment we got, we haven't had a similar situation - the positive outcome of something like this.

"The welcome is a nice part of football, but if you overstep the line then it's not allowed that you do it any more. That's how it is."

Frank Lampard says Chelsea will be "looking in the mirror" rather than worrying about how their potential Premier League title rivals fare this weekend.

Chelsea are fourth in the table, eight points behind leaders Liverpool but six clear of fifth-placed Arsenal.

Liverpool face champions Manchester City, who are currently in second, on Sunday, presenting the opportunity for Chelsea and Leicester City - who are third - to make up ground on the top two.

And Leicester play Arsenal, meaning four of the top five will face off.

Yet head coach Lampard is determined his team will not be concerned by results elsewhere, keen to keep their focus on improving throughout the season.

"We're looking in the mirror at ourselves," he told a news conference ahead of hosting Crystal Palace on Saturday.

"Up and down are things you can't always control - what will be will be with those teams. They have their problems or strong points or whatever.

"What we have to do is look at ourselves week in, week out, look at Crystal Palace tomorrow, go away for the internationals, and then we come back and we play Manchester City. Every week brings the challenge of a game.

"At the moment, we're happy with what we've done but I think we can always get a lot better. That's the only way: I don't think we should look too much anywhere else, rather than within."

Chelsea are managing injury issues in the centre of midfield, with Ross Barkley out since the win over Newcastle United last month while Mason Mount hobbled off against Ajax in midweek.

Both players were named in Gareth Southgate's England squad for the upcoming international break, yet Barkley will not feature at home to Palace, and Mount is a doubt.

"Ross has an ongoing issue, so he's not in the squad for tomorrow," Lampard said.

"It's a conversation I'll have with Gareth or Steve [Holland, England assistant] with Ross and everyone to see how it pans out for him over the next 10 days. I'm not sure on that one, but he won't be in our squad.

"With Mason, he's in the squad, and we're giving him another 24 hours. We'll make a call on that one in the morning [Saturday]."

Chelsea should at least have N'Golo Kante back after he returned to the bench against Ajax and was later named in the France squad. He has not featured since an injury in the previous international break.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has declared Virgil van Dijk and Jordan Henderson fit for Sunday's crunch Premier League clash with Manchester City.

Reds skipper Henderson missed Tuesday's 2-1 Champions League win over Genk through illness, while Van Dijk was absent from training on Thursday.

However, it later transpired Van Dijk was granted permission to return to his native Netherlands to receive royal recognition for his outstanding achievements this year.

Klopp confirmed at Friday's pre-match news conference that the centre-back, along with captain Henderson, will be available for selection at Anfield on Sunday.

"Virgil was for other reasons not here on Thursday but he is completely fine. Jordan is completely fine," he said.

Liverpool remain without Joel Matip, Xherdan Shaqiri and Nathaniel Clyne for the visit of City, who trail the league leaders by six points ahead of this weekend's showdown.

 

Dani Ceballos will miss Arsenal's trip to Leicester City in the Premier League on Saturday, the club have confirmed.

The midfielder suffered a hamstring injury against Vitoria SC in Wednesday's Europa League draw, although coach Unai Emery was optimistic it was only a "small" issue.

The problem will keep Ceballos out against Leicester, but Arsenal will continue to assess his fitness.

Ceballos has also been left out of the Spain squad for the upcoming international break which follows the Leicester match.

Emery will have a decision to make in the centre of midfield, with Ceballos' absence potentially opening the door for Granit Xhaka's return.

Xhaka has not played since his angry confrontation with supporters when he was substituted against Crystal Palace last month, the Gunners having seen a 2-0 lead wiped out at Emirates Stadium.

The Switzerland international subsequently explained his actions, citing death threats made against his family on social media, but was later stripped of the Arsenal captaincy.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will resist the temptation to grant Mason Greenwood a regular starting spot despite another fine showing from the teenager.

Greenwood scored one and assisted another as United eased to a 3-0 win over Partizan Belgrade in the Europa League on Thursday.

The 18-year-old forward combined well with Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford in a mature 90-minute performance.

Solskjaer admires Greenwood's ability but will not easily bow to calls for him to be handed a first Premier League start for the season.

"I think we're finding the right balance between playing him, resting him and training him," Solskjaer said.

"He needs to learn the man's game. He's gone up from the Under-18s last year, now he's training with the first team every day and you can't just turn that switch on and off. You've got to perform every day if you're going to be accepted into a group like this."

Solskjaer continued: "The DNA of this club, and it's always been in our philosophy and my philosophy, is to give young players with the right attitude a chance.

"If that takes a couple of years for him to really, really come through, it's worth it. I'm managing for Man United, I'm not managing for me. I'm managing the best way I think we can get the best out of Mason. 

"If he really stamped his authority every single day in training and [had] been the best option he would have played every game.

"But as a young boy you expect ups and downs, and he's had some downs. I think he's on the way back up again."

Martial and Rashford joined Greenwood on the scoresheet against Partizan as United cruised through to the Europa League knockout stages.

While eager to improve the club's middling Premier League results, Solskjaer accepts the knockout competitions are where the Red Devils can realistically contend for silverware.

"I don't want to stop winning in cups," he said.

"We've spoken about that before. The Premier League trophy is out of our reach, we're too far behind the top teams, but any trophy you can get your hands on, we're going to go for.

"But we need to improve our league form, definitely."

United have the chance to do that at home to Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday.

Solskjaer expects Harry Maguire to be fit but Victor Lindelof, who has failed to train this week, is in doubt with a foot problem.

Rodrygo Goes is making waves at Real Madrid but could have been shining at Liverpool were it not for his former Santos coach Elano.

Madrid paid out a reported €45million to seal Rodrygo's signature in June 2018, by which time he had only made 13 appearances in the Campeonato Brasileiro, though he remained at Santos for another year.

The 18-year-old has made a quick impact at the Santiago Bernabeu, with his hat-trick in the 6-0 Champions League thrashing of Galatasaray on Wednesday moving him onto five goals in six appearances for Los Blancos.

Premier League giants Liverpool held an interest in Rodrygo before Madrid made a formal approach, but Elano felt their bid was insufficient.

"There was a time when there was very strong interest from Liverpool for him to leave when he was still in the youth team," Elano told ESPN.com.br.

"The values were very low, but they wanted to go. Real's offer afterwards was around €30million more.

"I had a conversation with the staff and said the boy was worth the risk and we should promote him because I wanted to work with him. Thank God everything worked out.

"He already had good decision-making at the professional level at you age. Different players have it early on. When they can control it, they get better and better.

"Despite his young age, he has already formed a maturity and game personality. He has technical ability and very precise control of his movements. It did not take long for him to adapt to the senior level. It was very fast.

"I believe so much in his personality and his football. He still has room to grow."

Bayern Munich have removed another name from their list of potential replacements for Niko Kovac.

Arsene Wenger reportedly contacted the managerless German giants to personally express his interest in becoming head coach but will not considered for the role.

Now back to winning ways, Bayern could even delay the naming of a new boss until the end of the season.

 

LEAD STORY – BAYERN DELIVER BAD NEWS FOR WENGER

Arsene Wenger's hopes of coaching Bayern Munich have been dashed, according to Sport Bild.

A new report from the German publication claims the Bundesliga champions, while respectful of Wenger's work at Arsenal, are not considering him for the job, despite his attempts to convince chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Interim boss Hansi Flick, who steered a wounded side to a 2-0 win over Olympiacos in the Champions League, could now remain in charge until the end of the season, when it will become easier to approach either Erik ten Hag or Thomas Tuchel.

 

ROUND-UP

- Kai Havertz's future is becoming a matter of intense speculation. SPORT say Barcelona have strengthened their interest in the Bayer Leverkusen midfielder and sent scouts to watch him in the midweek Champions League win over Atletico Madrid. Havertz was linked with an £80million move to Manchester United earlier in the week.

- Havertz is not the only player on Barcelona's radar. Spanish television programme El Chiringuito believes the LaLiga's champions are interested in signing Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

- Arsenal, meanwhile, are preparing to part with Granit Xhaka in January after stripping him of the captaincy. The Mirror claims the former Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder could be shipped back to Germany in the next transfer window.

- Manchester United have added Spain international Jose Gaya and his Valencia team-mates Ferran Torres and Carlos Soler to their list of transfer targets, reports Medios Deportivos. 

- There is good news for United's rivals Manchester City, who could welcome Leroy Sane back into the first-team fold in February, according to The Sun. Sane suffered a serious knee injury in the Community Shield in August.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed Scott McTominay suffered an ankle injury in Manchester United's win over Partizan Belgrade, while he played down concerns over Harry Maguire.

United booked their spot in the Europa League last 32 thanks to Thursday's 3-0 win, which came thanks to goals from Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford.

McTominay came off during the second half of the victory due to an ankle injury, while Maguire was also a worry.

But while he has fewer worries about Maguire, United manager Solskjaer confirmed some concerns surrounding McTominay.

"I think Harry will be okay. He finished the game anyway," he told MUTV.

"Scott is more of a concern, so let's see how he recovers in the next few days.

"He said he was going to be okay out on the pitch and he said 'I'll be fine'. He's tough, but he had to come off.

"I hope he'll recover for Sunday, but I don't know. Inside of his ankle. I think he went over on his ankle."

Sitting 10th in the Premier League table, United host Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday.

The win over Partizan gave Solskjaer's men a boost and the performance of his young attack featuring Greenwood, Rashford and Martial was particularly pleasing for the manager.

"The reason we put the three of them together is that we know they are a dangerous trio, with players behind them who can provide chances," he said.

"Well done to Mason for a very, very calm finish. He was composed and waited for the keeper. The second one was from Anthony and was probably the skill of the night.

"Then it was great to see Marcus finishing with his left foot. He will get into those positions quite often in a game. For him to go on the outside, on his left, it is not great for defenders to see.

"It is good for us because he can go inside on his right and then finish with his left."

Sokratis Papastathopoulos insists it does not matter who wears the captain's armband at Arsenal in the wake of Granit Xhaka being replaced by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as skipper.

Head coach Unai Emery announced on Tuesday that Xhaka had been stripped of the captaincy following his angry reaction to being jeered by his own supporters in the recent Premier League draw with Crystal Palace.

Aubameyang will instead take on leadership duties, starting with Saturday's trip to Leicester City, but Sokratis feels the issue is secondary as long as everyone pulls in the same direction on the field.

"I think it is the first time he is a captain," Sokratis said, according to several British newspapers.

"For me it's important that Aubameyang first has to score, he has to do his work. The captaincy or who has this [armband] on the pitch, I don't think it is very important.

"He is a very good guy, but who has the captaincy is not very important. It is important that all the team is good in the dressing room. We are like a family. In the end who brings to the pitch the captaincy is the last thing."

Arsenal's disappointing run continued with a 1-1 draw with Vitoria SC in the Europa League on Wednesday, Bruno Duarte cancelling out Shkodran Mustafi's late goal in Portugal.

Emery's side are winless in four matches in all competitions and Sokratis acknowledges the importance of responding with victory at in-form Leicester this weekend.

"It's a very big game, a game we have to win," he said.

"Of course we have a lot of games in front and if we see last year we were there but in the last seven games, we didn't win one.

"The other teams were six, seven points behind us but in the end they were in front. We need to be consistent all year, not only one month.

"Leicester is in a very good moment, they're a very hungry team. You can see this. We have to be ready to beat them."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.