Mesut Özil orchestrates Arsenal in full flow to quench Leicester’s fire

For Unai Emery the theme of the evening was the perfect 10. It is now 10 victories on the spin in all competitions for his energetically developing Arsenal – seven of them in the Premier League – and the manager owed it all to the maestro in the No 10 shirt.

Mesut Özil had one of those games in which everything comes off for him and he was a joy to watch. When he was withdrawn towards the end, after scoring one and playing a central role in Arsenal’s other two – tapped home by the substitute, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – he received a stirring ovation. For the first time in his Arsenal career, Özil had worn the captain’s armband from the outset. How it inspired him.

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via Football | The Guardian

Arsenal v Leicester City: Premier League – live!

Arsenal: Leno, Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Lichtsteiner, Torreira, Xhaka, Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Iwobi, Lacazette. Subs: Ramsey, Aubameyang, Welbeck, Martinez, Guendouzi, Smith-Rowe, Medley.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Amartey, Evans, Maguire, Chilwell, Mendy, Ndidi, Ricardo Pereira, Iheanacho, Maddison, Vardy. Subs: Soyuncu, Albrighton, Ward, Okazaki, Iborra, Fuchs, Ghezzal.

Unai Emery thinks “we’ve got our Arsenal back” chants are a little premature, but try telling the red half of north London that if his team extend their match-winning run to 10 matches. They have not tasted defeat since 18 August and their form since could be described as peerless were it not for Manchester City still effortlessly stuffing teams for five and six. “I think we need to improve a lot,” Emery said. “Our demands need to be very high. The supporters can enjoy it with us but also we’re speaking with our reality every day.”

For Leicester, whose manager Claude Puel will celebrate a year in charge on Thursday, it is an opportunity to showcase their young talent. A trio of flourishing England internationals, Ben Chilwell, Harry Maguire and James Maddison have all impressed this season, but the jury is still out on Puel himself. His future remains the elephant in the room, despite a fairly sound start to this campaign. The lineups will be upon us shortly, but fit-again Mesut Özil is likely to feature, while Alexandre Lacazette, who started his career with Puel at Lyon, has four goals in five matches.

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via Football | The Guardian

FA Cup first-round draw – live!

1 Accrington Stanley
2 AFC Wimbledon
3 Barnsley
4 Blackpool
5 Bradford City
6 Bristol Rovers
7 Burton Albion
8 Bury
9 Cambridge United
10 Carlisle United
11 Charlton Athletic
12 Cheltenham Town
13 Colchester United
14 Coventry City
15 Crawley Town
16 Crewe Alexandra
17 Doncaster Rovers
18 Exeter City
19 Fleetwood Town
20 Forest Green Rovers
21 Gillingham
22 Grimsby Town
23 Lincoln City
24 Luton Town
25 Macclesfield Town
26 Mansfield Town
27 MK Dons
28 Morecambe
29 Newport County
30 Northampton Town
31 Notts County
32 Oldham Athletic
33 Oxford United
34 Peterborough United
35 Plymouth Argyle
36 Port Vale
37 Portsmouth
38 Rochdale
39 Scunthorpe United
40 Shrewsbury Town
41 Southend United
42 Stevenage
43 Sunderland
44 Swindon Town
45 Tranmere Rovers
46 Walsall
47 Wycombe Wanderers
48 Yeovil Town
49 Guiseley
50 Warrington Town or Halifax Town
51 Chorley
52 Hartlepool United
53 Chesterfield
54 Southport
55 York City
56 Harrogate Town or Wrexham
57 Gateshead
58 Stockport County
59 Salford City
60 Solihull Moors
61 Alfreton Town
62 Woking
63 Hitchin Town or Leatherhead
64 Chippenham Town or Maidenhead United
65 Slough Town
66 Hemel Hempstead or Oxford City
67 Weston-super-Mare
68 Boreham Wood or Dagenham & Redbridge
69 Metropolitan Police
70 Bromley
71 Aldershot Town
72 Torquay United
73 Billericay Town or Taunton Town
74 Hampton & Richmond Borough
75 Sutton United
76 Ebbsfleet United
77 Maidstone United
78 Haringey Borough
79 Barnet
80 Dover Athletic

*matches to be played 9-12 November

Right, let’s get straight into the heart of things. After last weekend’s set of fourth-round qualifying fixtures, both Metropolitan Police and Haringey Borough will be praying for a plum draw against one of the bigger sides in the draw at this stage. The former, who play in the Southern League Premier Division South overcame Havant and Waterlooville to reach the first round, while Haringey got the better of Poole Town at their Coles Park Stadium, on White Hart Lane, to reach this round of the competition for the first time in their history. It goes without saying, but for those sides, getting here is a big deal; each team that reached this stage has already cashed £25,000 in prize money, while victory in the first-round proper is worth a cool £36,000. League One outfits Sunderland, Portsmouth, Charlton Athletic or Barnsley will not be quite so keen. Meanwhile, Hitchin Town, who are hosting tonight’s draw, will also be aiming to play in the first round by beating Leatherhead in this week’s replay. As for Peterborough United manager Steve Evans, his wishes are fairly simple. “I want the lowest ranked team at home, and if I can’t have them, then give me Cambridge United at home.”

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via Football | The Guardian

Usain Bolt’s football dream: how he got to the brink of a professional deal | Richard Parkin

Who is behind the remarkable transition and what has driven the narrative to this point?

It already has more bizarre twists than an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story, but on Sunday night the Curious Case of Usain Bolt, Professional Footballer delivered once again. Asked post-match on Sunday evening for his response to reports that the Central Coast Mariners were considering offering a professional playing contract to the Jamaican sprint legend, coach Mike Mulvey appeared entirely taken aback.

The Englishman isn’t the only one utterly in the dark, but it was an illustrative moment from a “will-he, won’t he” saga made exponentially more complex by the various subplots, actors and interests involved.

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via Football | The Guardian