Tony Adams has expressed his dismay that Arsenal signed Martin Odegaard, Nicolas Pepe and Willian rather than strengthening their "fragile" defence.

Mikel Arteta landed Odegaard on loan for the rest of the season last month and the attacking midfielder has suggested he would be keen to join the Gunners on a permanent basis.

Willian has failed to make the impact the Arteta had hoped for after the Brazilian switched London clubs when his Chelsea contract expired, failing to score a single goal and providing only three assists in 24 appearances.

Pepe is another winger who has been a disappointment since he become the club's record signing, with Arsenal paying Nice £72million for his services in 2019. 

The Ivory coast international has struggled to make an impact in the Premier League; scoring nine goals, laying on six assists and creating 46 chances in 47 top-flight appearances.

Arteta brought in centre-backs Gabriel and William Saliba, but Gunners legend Adams has questioned his former club's transfer business.

He told Premier League Productions: "To be honest, there's an argument that you don't need Martin Odegaard.

"I got so annoyed that we bought Pepe and Willian in when you've got two kids [Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka] bursting into the team.

"There's other areas in the team that you could look at, there's holes in that team, we saw how fragile they are defensively. The defence has always been the weak link.

"As the sporting director of Arsenal, you wouldn't be getting Odegaard in, you'd be getting good, strong defenders into the team instead."

Arsenal have only kept one clean sheet in their last six games but beat Leeds United 4-2 on Sunday, courtesy of a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hat-trick, to sit 10th in the Premier League.

Nicolas Pepe is playing his best football since arriving at Arsenal for a club-record fee in 2019 and has been challenged to maintain his form by Mikel Arteta.

Ivory Coast international Pepe struggled to  a regular place in the starting line-up after returning from a three-match Premier League ban for headbutting Ezgjan Alioski in a 0-0 draw at Leeds United in November.

He was restored to the first XI for the FA Cup fourth-round meeting with Southampton after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was ruled out for personal reasons and has started delivering the sort of performances that were expected following his £72million arrival from Lille 18 months ago.

Although Arsenal were beaten 1-0 by Southampton, Pepe had five chances created – two more than the rest of his team-mates combined. It was the third time he has supplied that many key passes in a single game in all competitions this season, after producing eight against Rapid Vienna and Molde in the Europa League.

He then scored in a 3-1 win over the Saints in the Premier League, before creating three chances in a 0-0 draw against Manchester United. He also found the back of the net and produced one key pass in an hour on the pitch during the 2-1 loss to Wolves on Tuesday.

Prior to his recent run, Pepe had just two goals and two chances created across the entirety of the Premier League season.

With Aubameyang available again, Arteta urged the winger to keep producing high-quality displays on a consistent basis as Arsenal look to improve from 10th in the Premier League and bridge the nine-point gap to the top four.

"The performance that he puts overall in all the facets of the game, I think it's the best he's played, and his contribution to those aspects is the best he's done," said Arteta ahead of Saturday's meeting with Aston Villa.

"He needs to sustain that. When you have moments in football, when you have to earn the right to play, you cannot lose it.

"In order to do that you have to do the basics right and keep doing what you're doing. If you don't then someone's going to be knocking at your door."

He added: "I don't know how much he wants, but he needs guidance and he needs clarity in what he needs to do.

"Then he needs the discipline on the pitch to do what he needs to do and obviously he needs the freedom in certain moments to express himself as a player, and you cannot restrict that."

Arteta was also encouraged by the performance of Thomas Partey against Wolves, though he would like to see the midfielder provide more of a threat going forward.

"Obviously that's the reason we signed him, because we believed we needed a player like him, to impose himself in games and give us that dominance and that steel that he brings to the game," said Arteta.

"We have to see more of him, more minutes and more games and slowly get partnerships and unity and chemistry around the team. He needs to be one of our leaders.

"He had a shot the other night when he should have passed the ball, so he needs to shoot when it's the right moment to shoot, but he's got that ability to get in the opponent's box as well and run forwards with or without the ball and have that presence.

"At Atletico Madrid he scored a few goals really good goals and that's something he needs to do more."

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta confirmed the club are close to signing Real Madrid attacking midfielder Martin Odegaard on loan as he reflected on his side's 3-1 victory over Southampton on Tuesday.

Goals from Nicolas Pepe, Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette helped the Gunners come from behind and claim all three points at St Mary's, where they lost 1-0 in the FA Cup just three days earlier.

The result moved Arsenal above Southampton and into eighth place in the Premier League table, and Arteta indicated his side's positive start to 2021 could soon be boosted further by Odegaard's arrival.

"I think we are pretty close but it's not finalised as I understand it," Arteta told reporters, when asked about the 22-year-old Norwegian playmaker.

"I haven't spoken to [Arsenal technical director Edu] or the club in the last few hours but we're very positive that we'll finalise the deal."

After a dismal run of one victory in 10 league matches between October and December, Arsenal are unbeaten in their past five Premier League games and have won four of them.

Arteta indicated that the upturn in form has restored belief to his squad, saying: "Football games are always judged by the result and that affects the confidence.

"The moment that we started to win and confidence went up and we started to grow and understand each other better, we got some players back and the spirit started to lift a little bit, things were much better to be fair."

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl lambasted his side's defending after they succumbed to a third defeat in six league games.

Hasenhuttl told BT Sport: "It's always frustrating when you concede goals, but when it is that easy I think it hurts even more.

"The first was a mistake in the build-up, but then still we had the chance to defend it and we didn't do it, and then the second one was similar.

"It's not the way we can defend, we can do it much better and we know this. After being down one at half-time it's difficult to come back. We had chances to do it, but also the final quality was not good enough.

"We know we are a good side when we play a perfect game, but today we were far off this."

Arsenal earned revenge for their FA Cup defeat to Southampton by coming from behind to beat Ralph Hasenhuttl's side 3-1 at St Mary's in the Premier League on Tuesday.

Having suffered a 1-0 loss on the same ground three days earlier, Arsenal looked a different team as they attacked with great panache, but fell behind to a superb Stuart Armstrong strike after three minutes.

Nicolas Pepe, who scored on his previous Premier League start at Everton in December, levelled before Bukayo Saka gave Arsenal the lead with his fifth league goal of the season.

Southampton created several chances to claim a share of the points but found Gunners goalkeeper Bernd Leno in good form, and Alexandre Lacazette scored in the 72nd minute as Arsenal leapfrogged their hosts into eighth place in the table.

The home side stormed ahead after just three minutes when Armstrong met a James Ward-Prowse corner with a shot on the half-volley that flew past Leno and into the top corner of the net, despite the Arsenal goalkeeper getting a hand to it.

The lead lasted five minutes, as Arsenal pounced on a sloppy Jack Stephens pass and Granit Xhaka played Pepe into the area where he fired a low shot into the far corner of the net from 10 yards out.

Leno made a superb diving save from Che Adams to keep the scores level before Arsenal, six minutes from half-time, went ahead when Lacazette's incisive pass found Saka, who rounded Alex McCarthy and drilled the ball into the gaping net.

Armstrong carved an opening for Theo Walcott early in the second half but Leno was equal to the former Arsenal winger's effort.

Lacazette then finished a sweeping Arsenal attacking move from point-blank range at the other end to seal the victory with his eighth league goal of the season.

 

Mikel Arteta was unable to offer any further update on the progress of a deal to sign Martin Odegaard as the Arsenal boss defended the performances of under-fire duo Nicolas Pepe and Willian.  

Media reports suggested the Premier League club could complete the loan signing of midfielder Odegaard on Friday. 

However, the Norway international still remains a Real Madrid player for now at least, while his prospective new club exited the FA Cup on Saturday away at Southampton.  

After the holders bowed out 1-0 following a Gabriel own goal at St Mary's Stadium, Arteta revealed he expects to receive further news about potential signings. 

When quizzed over the situation regarding Odegaard, he replied: "I don't know. Obviously we played today. Since last night I don't have any news.

"Probably I will get a few phone calls today and see where we are with every deal."  

The Arsenal boss was also asked if Odegaard coming in could stifle Emile Smith Rowe, who has impressed since being drafted into the first team during the busy festive period.  

"I cannot talk about any player who is not ours," Arteta replied. "We have a clear idea of how we want to develop our players."  

Smith Rowe was not involved against Southampton as Arsenal's FA Cup defence came to a disappointing end on the south coast.  

Willian and Nicolas Pepe were given the chance to impress but neither was able to help the visitors find a way through, leaving Arteta to face questions over their output this season.  

Willian has played 919 minutes in the Premier League this season, providing three assists and creating 12 chances in open play. The Brazilian has yet to score for Arsenal since signing a three-year deal in the previous transfer window, though.  

Pepe, meanwhile, has managed five goals so far in his second year at the club following a big-money move from Lille, a deal that was completed prior to Arteta's return to the north London club.   

However, in just 479 minutes in the league this term, he has not managed to create a single opportunity for a team-mate in open play.

"They tried to give their best, you can see how hard they tried, sometimes with more or less quality," Arteta said of the pair.  

"The intention is there; the willingness is there. This is what we demand of them to do. After that, the decision-making, the final pass, the final ball, the opportunities they had, the hardest thing is the end product.  

"We are going to keep supporting them as much as we can, as a coaching staff and as a club, because that's what it needs. 

"They need to keep working hard and try to improve their performances." 

Arsenal are back at Southampton on Tuesday for a Premier League fixture, followed by a showdown with Manchester United next Saturday. 

Unai Emery has blamed bad decisions made by the club for his Arsenal exit and confirmed he favoured a move for Wilfried Zaha over Nicolas Pepe in his final season.

The 49-year-old spent 18 months in charge at Emirates Stadium before being sacked in November 2019 and subsequently replaced by Mikel Arteta.

He guided Arsenal to the Europa League final and a fifth-place finish in the Premier League in what proved to be his only full season in charge.

Arsenal spent a club-record £72million to bring in Pepe from Lille ahead of 2019-20, but Emery felt the Gunners should have instead moved for fellow Ivory Coast international Zaha.

"I usually want to sign first the players I know," he told Football.London. "When we played against Crystal Palace, Zaha showed he was a very good player.

"I also think Nicolas Pepe is a very good player. When you make the decision you have to decide how easy the adaption will be of some players.

"I was thinking the adaption was easier for Zaha because he was playing in the Premier League and you didn't know exactly how fast Nicolas Pepe can adapt to the Premier League because I know you can need some time to adapt.

"I was thinking at this time that the adaption of Zaha was probably easier and faster than Pepe."

Pepe has struggled in his year and a half with Arsenal, scoring and assisting a combined 13 goals in 42 Premier League appearances.

That compares to 17 goal involvements for Zaha across the same period in 11 more games, while the Palace winger also completes more dribbles per 90 minutes (3.68 compared to 2.92) and plays more passes into the final third (2.2 to 2).

Pepe's inability to make an impact on games was one of the contributing factors in Emery's exit and the Spaniard rued some of the decisions made during his second season in charge, though he reflects on his time in north London fondly.

"I was in Arsenal for a year and a half and first year I think was a very good season," he said.

"We achieved the Europa League final, we were at the last moment with the possibility to be in the top four and I think last year when I was there we recovered a lot of confidence for the club and the fans and for the players and I think we finished well that season.

"I was very happy, enjoying it and working very well. The club supported me and I was happy with the players, the atmosphere and the supporters – only the second six months of the second year when I finished in November I think we made some decisions not good for the club, but not for me, the decisions of the club.

"When the results were a little bit bad the situation changed but my first year in Arsenal I remember a lot of positive things, on the sidelines the same. I enjoyed being a coach of Arsenal and I'm very grateful for that moment I had in Arsenal.

"For me it's not negative, it was a positive experience and after I left the club the first month was not easy for me because I was running out of things [to do] but now I am very grateful to the owners, the club, the supporters, the players, the workers in Colney. 

"I now only remember the very good things there and the first year for me was a very good performance for us.

"I worked well with Mr [Stan] Kroenke, Raul [Sanllehi], [Ivan] Gazidis during the first months there. The results towards the end were the main problem but for me it was a positive experience and I'm grateful to Arsenal for the opportunity.

"This is football. Now I want the best for Arsenal and Mikel Arteta, the supporters and everyone at the club."

Another player Emery failed to get the most out of is Mesut Ozil, who has since been completely frozen out of the picture by Arteta and looks set to leave Arsenal this month.

Only Kevin De Bruyne (75), David Silva (63) and Christian Eriksen (62) have provided more Premier League assists than Ozil's 54 since the start of 2013-14, but the German was regularly overlooked for selection.

Emery has defended his treatment of Ozil, however, by insisting he gave the playmaker all the guidance he could.

"I worked for one and a half years with Mesut and tried to help him, support him and achieve the performances for the team with him," said Emery, who was appointed as Villarreal head coach last July.

"Now I don't know what the problems are as I am very concentrated and focused with Villarreal. I follow every Arsenal match but I don't know what the problems are with the team or the players.

"I can only speak about Mesut Ozil when I was with him there and I tried to achieve the best performances with him."

Mikel Arteta believes a lack of confidence is the hurdle his shot-shy Arsenal side cannot clear as they continue to slide down the Premier League table.

The 13-time English champions are 15th in the table, just four points clear of the bottom three, and winless in seven league games after their latest defeat to Everton.

Arteta believes Arsenal have the fighters to turn their season around, but "some of them can doubt in any moment".

The lack of a goal threat has been of particular concern, with the Gunners dominating matches but struggling to create or convert chances.

Arsenal have netted just 12 times in the league - of which two have been penalties - and rank 17th for goals scored.

They have forged a relatively modest 21 big chances, from which they would be expected to score, which puts Arteta's men in a tie for 14th in the top flight.

Even when Arsenal are getting shots in on goal, they score with a meagre 8.2 per cent of their efforts - better only than Sheffield United, Burnley, Wolves, Fulham and West Brom.

By these crucial metrics, Arsenal are right where they should be: looking over their shoulders towards a relegation battle.

It is a sharp decline Arteta could scarcely have anticipated, with Arsenal trailing only champions Liverpool in terms of shot conversion last term (13.8 per cent) and leading the way in 2018-19 (15.3 per cent).

"I think it's confidence-related," Arteta said. "When you are in that [confident] mood, when you shoot, the ball goes in the net.

"When it's not happening, you are overthinking or sometimes it's bad luck. It's moments you have to go through. It's difficult to explain.

"What has been sustaining the team in the past few seasons as well is the conversion rate being much higher than what it was supposed to be.

"Now it's much lower. That's a big gap and a lot of points at the end.

"We need to completely change that straight away and try to find ways to score goals even when the opportunities are not that clear."

Arsenal were creating 2.3 big chances per game two seasons ago, but that dropped to 1.8 last year and now 1.5 in 2020-21.

It should come as no surprise then that technical director Edu has openly targeted "a player with creativity in the middle" in the upcoming transfer window, although reported target Dominik Szoboszlai - who played 14 key passes across six Champions League matches - has joined RB Leipzig from Salzburg.

"The plan is done, what we wanted to do in January, what we wanted to do in the summer," Arteta said. "Sometimes we can do it, sometimes not - depending on a lot of factors.

"Edu is dealing with that at the moment. I am focused with all the games. We don't have time to expend energy on that, because it's very clear what we want to do."

Nicolas Pepe was supposed to be the man to drive Arsenal forward, yet he has laid on only two chances from 10 Premier League appearances and has seen his attitude called into question.

"He is hurting, he is suffering, believe me," said Arteta, hurtling from one issue to the next as he passes a year in charge at Emirates Stadium, their FA Cup success swiftly forgotten.

"[Life president] Ken Friar has been here longer than anybody - I think 70 years," he added.

"He said, 'Mikel, it's not one of the most challenging years in Arsenal's history, believe me I've been here 70 years, it's the most challenging and difficult year in Arsenal's history'.

"I can take a lot of positives in the things that we've done, the things that we've changed, the things that have worked, the trophies we have won.

"But the results now in the Premier League are taking the gloss off what we have done, for sure. We have to accept that. There is a negativity around the team, because that is what happens."

Lautaro Martinez's future continues to dominate headlines.

Martinez was tipped to leave Inter for Barcelona at the start of the season, but a move did not materialise amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, Manchester City are emerging as a serious suitor.

 

TOP STORY – CITY WANT LAUTARO

Manchester City are continuing their pursuit of Inter star Lautaro Martinez, according to the Mirror.

Martinez has been heavily linked with LaLiga giants Barcelona, as well as Real Madrid and City, where Pep Guardiola is eyeing a long-term replacement for Sergio Aguero.

The Argentina international has made his demands clear to Inter, who are hoping to re-sign Martinez.

 

ROUND-UP

Barca are open to the idea of selling Ousmane Dembele, says Mundo Deportivo. Dembele was wanted by Manchester United prior to the previous transfer window closing and Barca are reportedly aware of contacts between the France international and the Premier League side.

Arsenal are ready to part with club-record signing Nicolas Pepe, reports the Daily Star. Unconvinced about the Ivory Coast international, the Gunners are even reportedly open to a loan move amid links to Milan.

- The Sun claims Leeds United want Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui once fan favourite Marcelo Bielsa leaves Elland Road.

- The Mirror claims United want to sign former defender Jonny Evans from Leicester City. Evans – who won three Premier League titles at Old Trafford – left United for West Brom in 2015 before joining Leicester in 2018.

- Barca have offered Philippe Coutinho to Juventus, according to Calciomercato. Barca need to raise funds as they look to recruit Lyon captain Memphis Depay and City defender Eric Garcia.

Mikel Arteta was thrilled with Nicolas Pepe's performance as Arsenal cruised to a 3-0 victory over Molde in the Europa League.

Arteta was left furious with Pepe when Arsenal's record signing saw red for a headbutt on Ezgjan Alioski during the 0-0 Premier League draw with Leeds United last Sunday.

The Ivory Coast forward was handed a chance to redeem himself on Thursday and it was one he took, scoring the opening goal to cap an impressive display in Norway, as the Gunners booked their place in the round of 32.

Reiss Nelson doubled the lead and Folarin Balogun scored his first Arsenal goal to complete a routine win.

"I am really pleased," Arteta said of Pepe. "Obviously after the disappointment, something negative, you want to see a reaction and to stand out really quickly.

"I could see from the first minute, from his body language, that he was ready to act. I think he had a great performance.

"He scored a goal, he could have scored another one or two. He created some great moments in the game and worked really hard for the team. I really liked it. I am really pleased with that.

"We all know where his level is and all the time the question is how often he can get to that level – and how he contributes to other aspects of the game.

"That should be the level that he needs to hit and from there he needs to keep improving, because he is capable of doing it and you can see that every time he gets in those positions, in the final third, he is a real threat and a really difficult player to control.

"He can come with his feet, he can go inside, outside, he can shoot and create crosses. He can go in behind you as well. That's what we expect from him."

Pepe, who also hit the crossbar, attempted six shots and crafted a game-high four chances, while there were also promising signs from Arsenal youngster Balogun, who struck his maiden goal with his first ever attempt for the senior team just 37 seconds after replacing Eddie Nketiah late on.

It appeared likely Balogun – whose contract is up in 2021 – would leave Arsenal in the last transfer window, but talks are underway over a new deal and Arteta has claimed the 19-year-old wants to stay with the Gunners.

"He wants to stay, we want him to stay," Arteta added. "We gave him the opportunity and he took it straight away.

"It's well deserved for the boy. He's working really hard. He had some difficult months with all the speculation around him; he's handled the situation in a really mature way."

Nicolas Pepe was on the scoresheet as Arsenal won 3-0 at Molde to secure their place in the Europa League knockouts.

The winger was chastised for being sent off for a headbutt on Ezgjan Alioski during the 0-0 Premier League draw with Leeds United last Sunday.

Pepe was handed a chance for redemption by boss Mikel Arteta and duly responded with an impressive performance capped by a fine goal that broke the deadlock at Aker Stadion.

Reiss Nelson doubled the Gunners' lead and Folarin Balogun scored his first goal for the club as they made it four wins from four in Group B, of which they are almost certain to finish top.

Pepe was arguably Arsenal's brightest player in the first half as he attempted three shots and completed 100 per cent of his passes from the right wing.

Nelson had the Gunners' best opening but his low effort from Alexandre Lacazette's set-up was well saved by Andreas Linde with his foot.

The clearest chance of the half fell to Sheriff Sinyan, who slid in to meet Eirik Hestad's low cross with the goal at his mercy but somehow turned the ball back across the line and off goalkeeper Alex Runarsson.

Pepe rattled the crossbar with a spectacular strike just after the restart, but he had more luck with his next effort, placing a shot high past Linde from inside the box after pulling down Nelson's cross.

Eddie Nketiah had a tap-in disallowed for offside, but it was 2-0 before the hour mark, Nelson side-footing home from six yards after a low cross from Joe Willock.

Arteta took the chance to give game time to Emile Smith Rowe and Balogun off the bench, and the latter got his first senior goal with his second touch, turning well before firing through a disappointing attempted save.

 

Is a Manchester United reunion on the cards for Cristiano Ronaldo?

Ronaldo's future at Juventus has dominated headlines this season.

But returning to Old Trafford is reportedly not in the pipeline.

 

TOP STORY – NO UNITED REUNION FOR RONALDO

Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo will not be returning to Manchester United, according to journalist Fabrizio Romano.

A report earlier this month claimed United were looking to re-sign Ronaldo, who won three Premier League titles and the Champions League in six years at Old Trafford before joining Real Madrid in 2009.

But Romano says United are focusing on different players and not Ronaldo – also a reported target for Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.

ROUND-UP

Barcelona are monitoring Hoffenheim centre-back Melayro Bogarde, claims Sky Italia. The 18-year-old has also captured the attention of Milan.

- Calciomercato reports Milan want to sign Real Madrid's Lucas Vazquez at the end of the season. Vazquez is out of contract following the 2020-21 campaign.

Everton are in pole position to sign Juventus outcast Sami Khedira, says Calciomercato. The German midfielder looks set to leave the Serie A champions. Carlo Ancelotti's Everton have also been linked with Madrid midfielder Isco. It comes as Football Insider claims the Toffees are eyeing Tottenham trio Dele Alli, Harry Winks and Paulo Gazzaniga.

- The Express reports Liverpool could sell duo Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri in January. Origi and Shaqiri have struggled for regular game time at Anfield, where the Reds are desperate to bolster their defence amid an injury crisis. Liverpool have been linked with Schalke centre-back Ozan Kabak and Ajax's Perr Schuurs.

- Estadio Deportivo claims Real Betis are eyeing Madrid winger Takefusa Kubo, who has struggled for game time on loan at Villarreal.

Milan are a "serious candidate" to sign Arsenal forward Nicolas Pepe, reports Milan Live. The Rossoneri are considering an initial loan offer.

Nicolas Pepe says he is "deeply sorry" after being shown a red card in Arsenal's 0-0 Premier League draw with Leeds United on Sunday. 

The 25-year-old was shown a straight red after 51 minutes at Elland Road for headbutting Ezgjan Alioski.

Pepe and Alioski received abusive messages on social media following the off-the-ball incident, which were later condemned by both players' clubs.

Gunners boss Mikel Arteta described the winger's actions as "unacceptable" and the Ivory Coast international has now taken to social media to apologise for his conduct.

"Yesterday I let my team down at a crucial time of the game and there is no excuse for my behaviour," Pepe wrote on Instagram.

"I am deeply sorry and would like to apologise to the fans, my team-mates, my coach and everyone else at the club."

Pepe has struggled this season, with the game against Leeds marking just his second start in the Premier League.

He has scored once and created just two chances for his team-mates, although one of those did lead to a goal.

Arsenal and Leeds United have condemned the "vile abuse" aimed at Nicolas Pepe and Ezgjan Alioski on social media following Sunday's Premier League clash.

Pepe was shown a straight red card 51 minutes into the goalless draw at Elland Road for headbutting Alioski, the incident being spotted by VAR.

Team-mate Kieran Tierney had to be dragged away from the makeshift Leeds left-back after confronting him at the full-time whistle.

Alioski and Pepe received abusive messages on social media and their respective clubs united in releasing a statement on Monday.

"We utterly condemn the vile abuse directed at Nicolas Pepe and Ezgjan Alioski on social media following our match against Leeds United," Arsenal's statement read.

"This is completely unacceptable and we will be working with the police and authorities to do everything we can to trace and prosecute the culprits."

Former Chelsea winger Shaun Wright-Phillips screenshotted some of the racist remarks aimed at Pepe and questioned why more is not being done to halt the abuse.

A Leeds statement, posted at the same time as Arsenal's, added: "The vile abuse directed at Ezgjan Alioski and Nicolas Pepe on social media after yesterday's Premier League game with Arsenal will not be tolerated by Leeds United.

"We will work closely with the police and the footballing authorities to ensure those responsible are identified and punished."

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta accused Pep of letting Arsenal down with his "unacceptable" conduct against Leeds, with the 10 men having to hold on for a point in Yorkshire.

The Gunners have received five Premier League red cards since Arteta took over last December – at least two more than any other club in that period.

Liverpool made light work of Leicester City to move level on points with Premier League leaders Tottenham on a day that saw a couple of records broken at Anfield.

Inspired by another impressive Diogo Jota showing, the Reds eased to a routine victory to keep their positive momentum going at a time when their squad is getting more depleted by the week.

Merseyside rivals Everton were also victorious in Sunday's top-flight action with a narrow win at Fulham, while West Ham saw off Sheffield United and 10-man Arsenal were held by toothless Leeds United.

Using Opta data, we take a look at the key facts from the day's four Premier League fixtures.

 

Fulham 2-3 Everton: Calvert-Lewin at the double as Toffees inflict more capital punishment

Dominic Calvert-Lewin maintained his impressive scoring run with a couple of goals as Everton returned to winning ways in the early kick-off at Craven Cottage.

The England international scored after just 42 seconds – the earliest league goal Everton have netted since April 2017 – before Bobby Decordova-Reid's temporary leveller.

That made it goals in back-to-back home league games for Decordova-Reid for the first time since April 2018 when he was playing in the Championship with Bristol City.

Calvert-Lewin restored Everton's lead for his 10th league goal in nine outings this term, Lucas Digne setting up both that goal and Abdoulaye Doucoure's six minutes later.

Since making his competition debut in August 2018, only Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson (both 26) have more assists among defenders than Digne's 15.

A struggling Fulham side wasted a chance to get back into the game when Ivan Cavaleiro became the latest player for the south London side to miss from the penalty spot.

They have missed five of their past eight top-flight penalties, including the previous three, which have each taken by different players (Aleksandar Mitrovic, Ademola Lookman and Cavaleiro).

Ruben Loftus-Cheek did pull one back but Everton, who have conceded twice or more in six straight league games for the first time in 12 years, held on for a third straight league win in London – their best such run since April 1987.

Sheffield United 0-1 West Ham: Blunt Blades still seeking first victory

Sebastien Haller scored from outside the box for the first time in his top-flight career, on what was his 190th such appearance, to earn West Ham a slender victory at Sheffield United.

The striker, who has also previously played in the Eredivisie and Bundesliga, scored from range after 56 minutes for his sixth goal in all competitions this season – double the number of any other West Ham player.

United were unable to respond and are now without a win in 13 games in all competitions, making this their worst run since October 2013.

Chris Wilder's men have lost four top-flight matches in a row and are only the third side in Premier League history to pick up one point or fewer from their opening nine games, after Manchester City in 1995-96 and Sheffield Wednesday in 1999-2000.

West Ham are now unbeaten in their past 12 Premier League games against sides starting the day bottom, winning five in a row, and they are the first London club to win at Bramall Lane in the competition in 12 attempts since October 2006.

Leeds United 0-0 Arsenal: Hot-headed Gunners fire another blank

Arsenal failed to score for the fourth time in five Premier League outings as they played out a stalemate with Leeds at Elland Road.

Firing blanks has become the norm for Arsenal but there was nothing usual about the scoreline from Leeds' perspective – only their third goalless draw in 101 league games under Marcelo Bielsa.

Leeds now have 41 clean sheets across those 101 matches, not including play-offs, which is more than any other side in the top four tiers of English football in that period.

The Gunners have scored just nine league goals in the same number of league games in 2020-21 – their lowest tally at this stage since 1986-87 when scoring six times.

Mikel Arteta's side had to play almost an entire half with 10 men after Nicolas Pepe was given the first red card of his career in Europe's top five leagues, this being his 146th such appearance.

That was the fifth red card Arsenal have received in the league since Arteta took over in December 2019 – at least two more than any other club.

A point can be considered a good result on the balance of things given Leeds had 25 shots – the third most a team has managed in the Premier League this term, behind only Manchester United v Newcastle United (28) and Leeds v Aston Villa (27).

Liverpool 3-0 Leicester City: Rampant Reds win again at fortress Anfield

A lot has been made of Liverpool's depleted backline but makeshift centre-back pairing Fabinho and Joel Matip withstood everything Leicester chucked at them, the Reds keeping a fourth clean sheet in seven games and conceding only three times in that run.

Jonny Evans' own goal after 21 minutes put Liverpool on their way – the sixth time the former Manchester United defender has put into his own net in the Premier League, which is behind only Richard Dunne (10), Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel (both seven)

Jota doubled the hosts' advantage before half-time against his favourite opponents to become the first Liverpool player ever to score in his first four home top-flight league appearances.

It was a special goal in more ways than one, too, as it came after a sequence of 30 passes – the most in the build-up to any goal by the reigning champions since Opta started collecting data in 2006-07.

Jurgen Klopp's side added a deserved third goal to their tally late on through Roberto Firmino, who has now scored in two of Liverpool's five home league matches this term, compared to one in 19 such outings in 2019-20.

The routine home win makes it 64 home league matches without defeat for Liverpool – now officially the longest run in the club's history, with 53 of those games ending in victory.

It was another unhappy reunion with Liverpool for their former boss Brendan Rodgers, meanwhile, as he has lost all three league encounters with the Reds since taking charge of Leicester, conceding nine goals in the process.

Mikel Arteta said there was no excuse for Nicolas Pepe's "unacceptable" red card and admitted Arsenal's lack of goals is a "concern" after they clung on for a 0-0 draw at Leeds United. 

Winger Pepe was given his marching orders early in the second half at Elland Road on Sunday for headbutting Ezgjan Alioski off the ball. 

Pepe's dismissal was the fifth red Arsenal have been shown in the Premier League since Arteta took charge in December 2019, at least two more than any other club. 

Leeds struck the woodwork three times and Bernd Leno produced a string of superb saves as the Gunners held on for a point which leaves them 11th in the table. 

Arteta was not impressed with Pepe, whose contact with Alioski saw him sent off once referee Anthony Taylor reviewed footage. 

He told BBC Sport: "It is unacceptable. Unacceptable. At this level you cannot do it."

Arsenal have scored just one goal in their last five Premier League games and that was a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang penalty in the win at Manchester United. 

The north London club have found the back of the net just nine times in the top flight this season, which is their lowest tally after nine games of a league campaign since 1986. 

Arteta, who started captain Aubameyang in a central role, knows they must offer more in the final third if they are to move up. 

When asked about the lack of goals, the Spaniard replied: "It is a concern. You need goals to win matches. We need to create opportunities." 

Pepe hit the crossbar with a cross but Arsenal registered just two shots on target, while Bukayo Saka was denied by Illan Meslier when he went clear late on. 

Arteta said: "There were two parts in the first half where we were superior and dominant and created opportunities. 

"The last 15-20 minutes we gave balls away in different positions and gave them space to attack. We were lucky not to go 1-0 down. The second half, playing this side with 10 men, is complicated." 

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