Arsenal’s Gabriel Jesus could be out for three months after knee surgery | Arsenal

Gabriel Jesus could be out for three months after having knee surgery The Arsenal forward sustained the injury playing for Brazil at the World Cup and his club said the operation had been a success.

Jesus has been a major part of Arsenal’s early-season success, scoring five goals and providing five assists to help the team establish a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League before the break for the World Cup.

The injury is more serious than initially thought and a three-month absence would keep the 25-year-old out of 11 league matches. Eddie Nketiah is the natural understudy but Arsenal will step up attempts to sign a versatile forward in January.

“Gabby will now begin his rehabilitation programme,” Arsenal said. “Everyone at the club is supporting Gabby and will be working hard to get him back on the pitch as soon as possible.”

Brazil’s manager, Tite, reacted angrily on Sunday to reports that he knew there was a risk in fielding Jesus. “I don’t like hearing lies, said with bad intent,” he said. “We never put a player at risk. The liars, the haters, can go and do something else and stop giving fake news.

“Arsenal have a great medical department, we have a great medical department and we are responsible and ethical. I didn’t want this to happen and we’re very sorry for him.”

Premier League clubs face mixed risks of sending players to the World Cup | Premier League

Pep Guardiola was notably accepting of Manchester City’s defeat by Brentford in their last match before the World Cup. “My staff and I will have time to reflect on what we did well and what to do better,” he shrugged. Guardiola and his staff may also have to watch events in Qatar through their hands, clenching as heavy tackles fly in and muscle injuries stack up given City – with 16 players – are the Premier League club sending the most players to the finals.

Even if Erling Haaland will be spending much of the next six weeks on the Etihad Campus, key players such as Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden and Rodri will return bearing the physical and mental scars of the tournament. And individual success in Qatar may not necessarily be good news for a player’s club. To take the example of England’s Euro 2020 finalists, a number of Gareth Southgate’s players made indifferent starts to their 2021-22 club campaigns.

Such are the intangibles for clubs of this World Cup. Jürgen Klopp is a vocal critic of the tournament being staged in Qatar, particularly in mid‑season, but he will see only seven players jet out to pre-tournament training camps. Like Guardiola, Klopp has a star forward getting a needed rest, in Mohamed Salah, but it is Uruguay rather than Liverpool who will be the immediate beneficiaries of Darwin Núñez’s recent flowering.

Overall the Premier League is providing more World Cup players than any other division, with 134 players at the tournament – 16% – plying their trade in the English top flight. The league leaders, Arsenal, have 10 players in World Cup squads but their England contingent of three contains two players, Aaron Ramsdale and Ben White, expected to be reserves in Southgate’s squad. The same may go for Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli among a Brazil squad featuring heavy competition for forward places. Mikel Arteta appears to be getting off rather lightly, though how to motivate players disappointed at being underused is yet another consideration to add to the pile.

The response of players to disappointing tournaments is also important. How, for example, might Antonio Conte coax the best from Harry Kane at Tottenham should England’s captain flop in Qatar? Or, to name another player among Spurs’ 11 call-ups, someone carrying a yet heavier burden for his national team, Son Heung‑min? Will his disappointing season so far – and the facial injury he is nursing – cast a shadow over his World Cup and consequently his return to Tottenham? Every player is on a sliding scale. How might they react to playing in a mid‑season tournament in which their country’s expectations are sky‑high while playing for a different coach using probably very different tactics?

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For managers such as Graham Potter and Erik ten Hag, relative newcomers to their clubs trying to install a fresh playing doctrine, losing players in mid‑season is unhelpful. Manchester United, sending 14, have made significant improvements under Ten Hag, and though Cristiano Ronaldo can be discounted from the list of players whose fitness he will care about, Casemiro, Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martínez have all been crucial to United’s revival. Each is playing for a nation expected to go deep in the tournament.

Potter’s Chelsea have stalled of late. His players have appeared unresponsive to his tactics. Chelsea will have 12 players in Qatar but a mid‑season training camp planned for Abu Dhabi also gives Potter a decent core with which to work. Reece James, Wesley Fofana, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Marc Cucurella, Trevoh Chalobah, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho and Pierre‑Emerick Aubameyang are among those players not travelling.

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Qatar: beyond the football


This is a World Cup like no other. For the last 12 years the Guardian has been reporting on the issues surrounding Qatar 2022, from corruption and human rights abuses to the treatment of migrant workers and discriminatory laws. The best of our journalism is gathered on our dedicated Qatar: Beyond the Football home page for those who want to go deeper into the issues beyond the pitch.

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Manchester United and Chelsea will return to action at Christmas looking at Newcastle in third place, and while Eddie Howe will not welcome a loss of momentum only five players are being lost from his squad to the World Cup, two of them – Callum Wilson and Nick Pope – likely to be on the England bench. And while Bruno Guimarães is a player Newcastle cannot afford to lose, other leading players from this season in Sven Botman, not picked for Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands team, and Miguel Almíron, whose Paraguay did not qualify, will return to Tyneside after taking short rests.

Further down the table, the World Cup break throws up an opportunity for Nathan Jones, freshly arrived at Southampton, who are sending only two players. Should Bournemouth appoint a new manager – or Gary O’Neil stay on – only the Wales pair of Kieffer Moore and Chris Mepham will not be around.

Three managers ended the season’s first tranche of fixtures under pressure. At West Ham David Moyes will have mixed feelings if England progress deep in the tournament, with Declan Rice a key midfielder. Lucas Paquetá, the summer’s big signing, is yet to shine in east London but is favoured by the Brazil coach, Tite. Perhaps a good showing in Qatar can energise Paquetá’s club season. Jesse Marsch will be roaring on Team USA, though in Brenden Aaronson and Tyler Adams he will fear fatigue in two players who have become important to Leeds.

Which leaves Frank Lampard, with Everton losing four players to the tournament. Until his mistakes at Bournemouth at the weekend, Jordan Pickford had been exemplary in goal. An injury or the loss of form that can follow for players scapegoated for English failure could mortally wound Everton. Such are the myriad equations the World Cup must turn over in the minds of Premier League managers.

Mikel Arteta calls on referees to better protect Arsenal forward Bukayo Saka | Arsenal

Mikel Arteta has warned that the target on Bukayo Saka’s back is growing after some heavy treatment from opponents in recent weeks and urged referees to protect the in-form forward.

Saka hobbled off before the half-hour in last month’s win over Nottingham Forest and appeared to be accused of diving by Graham Potter when Arsenal defeated Chelsea last Sunday. He was booked for simulation at Southampton when replays suggested he had been fouled and Arteta said officials need to be aware that players receive closer attention as their reputations grow.

“The referees have the duties to deal with that,” he said. “The better the players become, the bigger target they become, because people try to find ways to stop him. That is why football has very clear rules, what you can do and what you cannot do, and that is the referee’s job.”

Arteta did not place all the onus on referees, saying his team need to be “more intelligent” in finding ways to place Saka in situations that pose less physical risk. “It becomes about the timing, the decision making, the space you have generated before that action, and the understanding and knowledge of what is going to happen before it happens,” he said. “Sometimes [we can improve] the type of ball we give him and when we give him certain balls.”

Saka will be fit to face Wolves at Molineux on Saturday. Three points would guarantee Arsenal top spot in the Premier League over the World Cup break, an outcome few had considered likely in August. After the weekend 10 of their players, including England’s Saka, will head to Qatar; from 4 December the remaining squad members will travel to Dubai for a 10-day training camp.

During that period they are expected to face Lyon and Milan in a series dubbed the Dubai Super Cup, with Liverpool completing the quartet but not lined up as opponents. On their return they intend to host a friendly on 17 December, with Barcelona likely visitors to the Emirates. The intention is that, as far as possible, Arsenal’s World Cup representatives will be able to join up with their club colleagues in the United Arab Emirates as and when they exit the competition.

Premier League team news: predicted lineups for the weekend action | Manchester City

Bournemouth v Everton

Saturday 3pm Venue Vitality Stadium Last season n/a

Referee Craig Pawson This season G7 Y31 R0 4.43 cards/game

Odds H 19-10 A 7-4 D 9-4

Bournemouth v Everton


Subs from Dennis,Christie, Marcondes, Rothwell, Stacey, Lowe, Stanislas, Zemura, Dembélé, Pearson, Hill, Anthony

Doubtful Zemura (knock)

Injured Brooks (thigh, 26 Dec), Kelly (ankle, 26 Dec), Neto (thigh, 26 Dec)

Suspended Mepham (one match)

Discipline Y22 R0


Leading scorer Billing 4


Subs from Begovic, Jakupovic, Lonergan, Patterson, Mina, Keane, Holgate, Vinagre, Doucouré, Garner, Davies, Rondón, McNeil, Welch, Mills, John, Cannon

Doubtful Holgate (knee)

Injured Calvert-Lewin (hamstring/knee, 26 Dec), Godfrey (broken leg, 26 Dec), Townsend (knee, 26 Dec)

Suspended None

Discipline Y33 R0


Leading scorer Gordon 3

Liverpool v Southampton

Saturday 3pm Venue Anfield Last season Liverpool 4 Southampton 0

Referee Simon Hooper This season G9 Y26 R0 2.88 cards/game

Odds H 3-11 A 11-1 D 6-1

Liverpool v Southampton


Subs from Adrián, Kelleher, Davies, Ramsay, Matip, Tsimikas, Phillips, Milner, Jones, Elliott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Bajcetic, Carvalho, Gomez

Doubtful Matip (calf), Milner (concussion)

Injured Keïta (thigh, 26 Dec), Díaz (knee, 26 Dec), Jota (calf, Jan), Arthur (thigh, unknown)

Suspended None

Discipline Y12 R1


Leading scorers Firmino, Salah 6


Subs from Caballero, McCarthy, Caleta-Car, A Armstrong, Mara, Djenepo, Edozie, Diallo, Walcott

Doubtful xnamex (xreasonx), xnamex (xreasonx)

Injured Walker-Peters (thigh, 26 Dec), Livramento (knee, Jan), Larios (groin, unknown)

Suspended None

Discipline Y22 R0


Leading scorer Adams 3

Nottingham Forest v Crystal Palace

Saturday 3pm Venue City Ground Last season n/a

Referee John Brooks This season G6 Y24 R0 4 cards/game

Odds H 11-5 A 16-11 D 2-1

Nottingham Forest v Crystal Palace

Nottingham Forest

Subs from Hennessey, Smith, Soh, Williams, Colback, Awoniyi, Surridge, Cafú, Kouyaté, Dennis, McKenna, Badé, Boly, Taylor

Doubtful Kouyaté (knock), McKenna (knock)

Injured Richards (calf, 26 Dec), Toffolo (thigh, 26 Dec), Biancone (knee, unknown), Niakhaté (thigh, unknown)

Suspended Mangala (one match)

Discipline Y34 R0


Leading scorer Awoniyi 3

Crystal Palace

Subs from Butland, Johnstone, Whitworth, Milivojevic, Tomkins, Mateta, Clyne, Hughes, Édouard, Ebiowei, Ferguson, Balmer, Riedewald, Gordon, Wells-Morrison, Phillips, Goodman, Rodney

Doubtful Édouard (thigh)

Injured McArthur (groin, unknown), Richards (thigh, unknown)

Suspended None

Discipline Y29 R0


Leading scorer Zaha 6

Tottenham v Leeds

Saturday 3pm Venue Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Last season Tottenham 2 Leeds 1

Referee Michael Salisbury This season G6 Y31 R0 5.16 cards/game

Odds H 11-17 A 43-10 D 17-5

Tottenham v Leeds


Subs from Forster, Austin, Doherty, Spence, Sánchez, Tanganga, Bissouma, Skipp, Sarr, Lucas Moura, Gil

Doubtful Lucas Moura (tendon)

Injured Romero (calf, 14 Nov), Sessegnon (knock, 14 Nov), Son (eye, unknown)

Suspended None

Discipline Y25 R1


Leading scorer Kane 11


Subs from Klaesson, Robles, Ayling, Llorente, Firpo, Hjelde, Gelhardt, Greenwood, Harrison, Gyabi, Drameh

Doubtful Gelhardt (knock), Harrison (knock)

Injured Bamford (hip, 26 Dec), Forshaw (knee, 26 Dec), Gray (ankle, 26 Dec), Klich (knee, 26 Dec), Sinisterra (ankle, 26 Dec), Dallas (broken leg, Jan)

Suspended None

Discipline Y25 R1


Leading scorer Rodrigo 7

West Ham v Leicester

Saturday 3pm Venue London Stadium Last season West Ham 4 Leicester 1

Referee Jarred Gillett This season G6 Y24 R0 4 cards/game

Odds H Evs A 11-4 D 5-2

West Ham v Leicester

West Ham

Subs from Areola, Randolph, Johnson, Coufal, Fornals, Antonio, Lanzini, Downes, Ogbonna, Aguerd, Coventry, Ashby

Doubtful None

Injured Cornet (calf, unknown), Palmieri (knock, unknown)

Suspended None

Discipline Y16 R0


Leading scorers Antonio, Benrahma, Bowen, Scamacca 2


Subs from Iversen, Smithies, Ward, Vardy, Albrighton, Iheanacho, Pérez, Amartey, Vestergaard, Mendy, Soumaré

Doubtful None

Injured Pereira (calf, Jan), Justin (achilles, May), Bertrand (knee, unknown), Soyuncu (hamstring, unknown)

Suspended None

Discipline Y17 R0


Leading scorer Maddison 6

Newcastle v Chelsea

Saturday 5.30pm Sky Sports Premier League Venue St James’ Park Last season Newcastle 0 Chelsea 3

Referee Robert Jones This season G8 Y28 R1 3.63 cards/game

Odds H 7-5 A 2-1 D 28-11

Newcastle v Chelsea


Subs from Darlow, Gillespie, Karius, Lascelles, Targett, Manquillo, Lewis, Shelvey, Anderson, S Longstaff, Wood, Fraser, Murphy

Doubtful Darlow (ankle), Fraser (calf), Wilson (illness)

Injured Isak (thigh, 26 Dec), Ritchie (calf, 26 Dec), Krafth (knee, Aug), Dummett (calf, unknown)

Suspended None

Discipline Y20 R0


Leading scorer Almirón 8


Subs from Bettinelli, Jorginho, Pulisic, Broja, Zakaria, Ziyech, Gallagher, Koulibaly, Soonsup-Bell, Hall

Doubtful Jorginho (ankle)

Injured Arrizabalaga (ankle, 26 Dec), Kanté (thigh, Feb), Chilwell (thigh, unknown), Chukwuemeka (thigh, unknown), Fofana (knee, unknown), James (knee, unknown)

Suspended None

Discipline Y31 R2


Leading scorers Havertz, Sterling 3

Brighton v Aston Villa

Sunday 2pm Sky Sports Premier League Venue Amex Stadium Last season Brighton 0 Aston Villa 2

Referee Chris Kavanagh This season G4 Y16 R0 4 cards/game

Odds H 9-10 A 10-3 D 3-1

Brighton v Aston Villa


Subs from McGill, Steele, Lamptey, Colwill, Welbeck, Sarmiento, Enciso, Undav, Gilmour, Van Hecke, Veltman

Doubtful None

Injured Moder (knee, Feb)

Suspended None

Discipline Y17 R0


Leading scorer Trossard 7

Aston Villa

Subs from Olsen, Steer, McGinn, Sanson, Ings, Chambers, Augustinsson, Young, Nakamba, Bednarek, Guilbert, Archer, Kamara

Doubtful None

Injured Coutinho (thigh, unknown), Diego Carlos (calf, unknown)

Suspended None

Discipline Y30 R1


Leading scorers Bailey, Ings 3

Fulham v Manchester United

Sunday 4.30pm Sky Sports Premier League Venue Craven Cottage Last season n/a

Referee Paul Tierney This season G11 Y43 R2 4.09 cards/game

Odds H 3-1 A Evs D 3-1

Fulham v Manchester United


Subs from Rodak, Kurzawa, Adarabioyo, Duffy, Chalobah, James, Mbabu, Harris

Doubtful None

Injured Solomon (knee, Jan), Kebano (calf, unknown), Mitrovic (ankle, unknown)

Suspended Reed (one match), Tete (one match)

Discipline Y35 R1


Leading scorer Mitrovic 9

Manchester United

Subs from Dubravka, Heaton, Jones, Maguire, Ronaldo, Fred, Sancho, Pellistri, Van de Beek, Elanga, McTominay, Mengi, Shoretire, Garnacho

Doubtful Antony (match fitness), Ronaldo (illness), Sancho (illness)

Injured Varane (hamstring, 22 Nov), Tuanzebe (match fitness, unknown), Wan-Bissaka (match fitness, unknown), Williams (match fitness, unknown)

Suspended Dalot (one match)

Discipline Y36 R0


Leading scorer Rashford 4

Brighton seal stylish Carabao Cup win to end Arsenal’s winning run at home | Carabao Cup

There will be few sleepless nights at Arsenal over this result and, as their fans were keen to point out, first place in the Premier League is a bigger attraction than Carabao Cup progress. But Mikel Arteta will still be frustrated by defeat to an alert, bold Brighton team who responded superbly to going behind and have a bright future if a young side’s performance is any measure.

Kaoru Mitoma completed the turnaround after Danny Welbeck’s penalty had cancelled out an Eddie Nketiah finish, and Tariq Lamptey added some gloss. It meant Arsenal’s 12-match winning run at the Emirates, Brighton coincidentally the previous opponents to win here, came to an end.

“Losing [is disappointing] but the way the boys tried tonight, and played with the amount of changes we had to make because of the congestion, I’m really happy with that,” Arteta said. He felt the result “doesn’t reflect what happened on the pitch”, although it was hard to go along with that: while Mitoma’s goal had come against the run of play, Arsenal having begun the second half ferociously, Brighton were the sharper going forward for long periods and could easily have scored more.

Arteta had retained only William Saliba from the win at Chelsea; Roberto De Zerbi made eight changes of his own and it was a night to enjoy Brighton’s youthful league of nations. The 20-year-old Jeremy Sarmiento, who will travel to the World Cup with Ecuador, was outstanding and Julio Enciso, an 18-year-old Paraguayan, was not far behind. De Zerbi had wanted his stand-ins to show their mettle and they did not disappoint. “They have the right level,” the Italian said. “I hope they start to believe in themselves more because to play in this stadium you have to believe in yourself, believe in your quality, and they have the ability to play.”

Kaoru Mitoma scores Brighton’s second goal at the Emirates
Kaoru Mitoma (right) scores Brighton’s second goal at the Emirates. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

That was evident early on when Sarmiento and Enciso both missed narrowly, the latter also failing to make contact with a presentable headed chance. Arsenal had not got going before Nketiah, profiting from a smooth run inside and perfectly timed pass left by the improving Reiss Nelson, swept a gorgeous first-time finish past Jason Steele. It should have settled them, because while this was a scratch team it was full of experience, but Brighton deserved their equaliser seven minutes later.

It was a moment for Karl Hein, the debutant keeper, to forget. The 20-year-old already has 16 caps for Estonia and a burgeoning reputation but slipped as Welbeck ran on to a through pass. The former Arsenal forward appeared to have taken an overly heavy touch but Hein’s error allowed him to reach the ball first, the keeper clipping him after he did so. The penalty was dispatched calmly.

Quick Guide

Carabao Cup roundup


Angelo Ogbonna missed the crucial penalty as a youthful Blackburn dumped West Ham out of the Carabao Cup 10-9 on spot-kicks. After 19 successful penalties Ogbonna’s effort crashed off the underside of the crossbar to send Championship side Rovers through to round four following a 2-2 draw at the London Stadium. 

It was a deserved win for a callow Rovers side with an average age of just 22 and a half as Jon Dahl Tomasson made 11 changes with more than one eye on Sunday’s Championship derby against promotion rivals Burnley. They led through an early goal from Jack Vale before Pablo Fornals hauled West Ham level and Michail Antonio put the hosts in front. 

But the substitute Ben Brereton Díaz, Rovers’ top scorer, sent the match to a shootout and Italian defender Ogbonna was the fall guy. The result means that all six top-flight London clubs have gone out in the fourth round, with third-tier Charlton the only team from the capital in Thursday’s fourth-round draw.

Boubacar Traoré’s late winner sent Wolves through, the substitute striking with five minutes left to down much-changed Leeds and seal a 1-0 victory for the hosts. It settled an uneventful game which looked to be heading to penalties and gave the incoming Wolves manager Julen Lopetegui and his coaches food for thought.  

Lopetegui is due at the club’s Compton training base on Friday, before watching Saturday’s visit of Arsenal, before officially taking charge on Monday. The former Spain manager’s lieutenants were at Molineux having already briefly introduced themselves to the squad. PA Media

Photograph: Rob Newell/CameraSport

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“He totally deserved his chance and if I have to play him tomorrow again I would,” Arteta said. “We all make mistakes, me the first one, the players all the time, and it’s part of the game. He needs to carry on. When you make an error it’s about how you react, not about the error.”

Arsenal responded well as a collective and, perking up considerably after the interval, saw Nketiah strike a post before Steele saved brilliantly from Nelson. At that point there seemed only one winner but Mitoma, a half-time substitute, finished superbly after a surge and pass from Sarmiento and then, after taking a pass from Billy Gilmour in his stride and eating up the ground in front, Lamptey burst clear to slip past Hein. Arteta summoned Gabriel Jesus and other members of his cavalry but it was too late.

Finding fundamental problems with Arsenal seems spectacularly nitpicky these days but, if anything, the outcome bore out the impression they are walking a tightrope in terms of squad depth. “It’s what we have,” Arteta said, hardly rejecting the idea. It was a rare night of mild angst.

Ben White is thriving for Arsenal. Should he go to the World Cup? | Arsenal

William Saliba’s return to Arsenal in the summer after his loan spell at Marseille presented Mikel Arteta with a selection conundrum in defence. The Frenchman shone in Ligue 1 last season but Arteta already had two very good centre-backs in Ben White and Gabriel Magalhães. They were first choice last season, when Arsenal finished fifth, so Saliba’s return threw a spanner in the works.

Arsenal’s defensive line had a clear pattern last season: the left-back was given the licence to attack and the right-back would tuck inside to ensure the team was not caught out. Takehiro Tomiyasu joined from Bologna last year to carry out this duty at right-back, and he did it brilliantly when fit, but an injury towards the end of the campaign restricted the Japanese defender to just 20 starts in the Premier League.

Tomiyasu had slotted into the Arsenal defence seamlessly but, as the new season neared, it was clear he would not be fit to start at right-back in Arteta’s favoured 4-2-3-1 system. If anything, this eased Arteta’s selection issue. White had played right-back a couple of times last season, and a handful of times for Brighton in the 2020-21 season, so moving into the role was not an alien concept for him. The decision to use the 25-year-old at right-back also meant that Saliba could come into the heart of the defence alongside Gabriel.

Arsenal’s defence has thrived this season with White at right-back, Saliba partnering Gabriel in the middle, and Kieran Tierney, Oleksandr Zinchenko or Tomiyasu taking up the left-back spot. They are top of the league; no team has conceded fewer goals (11) and no team has kept more clean sheets (six). Their 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge on Sunday summed up their defensive strength, with Chelsea producing just one shot on target in front of their own fans.

Signing Gabriel Jesus to replace Alexandre Lacazette has been instrumental in the way Arsenal hurt opponents, with Gabriel Martinelli, Martin Ødegaard and Bukayo Saka all benefiting from his movement, workrate and intelligence. Yet, as effective as that quartet has been when they push forward, the team’s results have been as much about their defensive resolve and their balance at the back. They are conceding just 7.9 shots per game this season, down from 11.2 last season. Only Manchester City (7.1) are conceding fewer shots.

Saliba’s return has been brilliant for Arsenal’s defence and he is likely to start for France at the World Cup, but will White’s shift to right-back hamper his hopes of playing for England at the World Cup later this month? Gareth Southgate is not blessed with fit, top-quality, in-form and versatile defenders. His performance against Chelsea had Arteta raving about him. “I am really happy with him,” said the Arsenal manager. “He is playing in different positions and is acclimating himself in a great way to that full-back position. His understanding with the players around him is top. I really like him. He trains every single day and he plays under any circumstances. I love the boy.”

White clears the ball against Chelsea.
White clears the ball against Chelsea. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

Southgate has plenty of right-backs to call upon, even if Reece James is currently absent. Kieran Trippier is likely to be the manager’s first choice right wing-back – unless the Newcastle defender is required on the left – with Trent Alexander-Arnold an able deputy in the role. Pep Guardiola says Kyle Walker is “likely” to be fit for the World Cup, even if his lack of match fitness weighs against him – he has not featured for Manchester City since their 6-3 win in the Manchester derby at the start of October.

With James, Trippier, Alexander-Arnold and Walker all brilliant attacking wing-backs, Southgate may ask White to occupy the right-sided centre-back spot in a three-man backline, where he can give balance to the defence like he does at Arsenal. Of all the players who can operate in that role, White is the best at present. He is difficult to get the better of – he is being dribbled past just 0.7 times per 90 minutes. Walker is extremely fast, but White is also blessed with the pace to recover and ensure that he is not caught out by long balls over the top into the channels.

Southgate would be foolish to overlook White for the World Cup. He is inexperienced on the international stage, having made just four appearances for England and none of them in competitive fixtures, but he is a versatile defender who has been pivotal to his club’s flying start to the campaign. Southgate is fortunate to have a defender of White’s calibre who can play a couple of roles in defence.

Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action | Football

1) Saka should take heavy tackles as a compliment

Officially, Bukayo Saka is the 33rd most fouled player in the Premier League. Unofficially, Arsenal fans will tell you that their man is the victim of some sinister conspiracy between opposition left-backs and referees to get him hacked out of the game. So, a valid concern or the usual tribal tinfoil nonsense? It’s actually more complex than it looks. What sets Saka apart is his unique close dribbling style, the ball almost wedged between his feet as he runs. So when he buys the contact – because all wingers buy contact – the tackle often takes ball and man together, making it hard to see which impact came first. Simply put, referees need to do better here. But it also needs a recognition from Arsenal fans that Saka isn’t being deliberately victimised or singled out: he’s just really, unusually good. Jonathan Liew

2) Can Emery nurture Villa’s stars-in-waiting?

It feels a long time ago now but Unai Emery gave Arsenal debuts to Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe. It is a slice of history that would appear to bode well for Aston Villa, whose academy graduateJacob Ramsey completed the scoring in victory over Manchester United on Sunday. Ramsey replaced Ashley Young in Villa’s only change and he repaid Emery’s faith with a vibrant midfield display, smartly combining with Ollie Watkins, Emiliano Buendía and Leon Bailey, and the way the 21-year-old, who joined Villa aged six, has started under Emery suggests he will be in the thick of things. Emery referenced Villa’s academy at his unveiling last week and in the Spaniard the club believe they have one of the the best coaches in the world to nurture talent. Ben Fisher

3) Núñez looks ill-suited to wide role

It’s fair to say that Darwin Núñez is not the world’s most silky-smooth footballer, and indeed his doomed, ungainly scurries down the left provided Spurs fans with some rare levity in the first half. If the target man’s bungled dribbles raised the question of what he was doing out on the wing, then perhaps Mohamed Salah’s two goals – dispatched after stealing into central positions – provided the answer: an attack spearheaded by Roberto Firmino gives Liverpool’s best finisher licence to drift infield. Not that this will be much consolation to Núñez, who remains the jigsaw piece that doesn’t fit. The lineage of Liverpool players signed as thrilling goalscorers only to labour painfully out wide is a long one that stretches from Heskey to Aspas via Diouf, Cissé and Babel. If the Uruguayan is to avoid joining that list, his manager must find an effective way of playing him centrally. Whether such a solution exists, on current evidence, is far from certain. Alex Hess

Darwin Núñez in possession
Darwin Núñez played on the left against Tottenham. Photograph: Marc Atkins/Getty Images

4) Howe’s first year has been a revelation

While it seems increasingly unlikely Ralph Hasenhüttl will make it as far as a fourth anniversary at Southampton, the man opposite him in the dugout at St Mary’s celebrates 12 months with Newcastle job this week. The turnaround in that time has been remarkable, from a relegation battle to genuine top-four contenders. Their win on the south coast was Eddie Howe’s 20th in 41 league matches – and 19 have come in the last 32 games. For all the inevitable talk of Saudi riches, Howe has also coached a set of individuals into a fine collective: 13 of his latest match-day squad predated his arrival. When one press member made a comparison with Leicester’s 2016 title winners, Howe smiled. “I remember that Leicester team very well. But I just think we are trying to be ourselves.” Sam Dalling

5) Gnonto changes the game for Leeds

Wilfried Gnonto. Remember the name because Jesse Marsch’s 19-year-old Italy forward is very good indeed. It is no exaggeration to say that Gnonto altered the entire topography of a game Bournemouth had been in control of after he came off the bench at half-time. No matter that Leeds swiftly fell 3-1 behind, Gnonto – along with his fellow substitute Sam Greenwood and Marsch’s inspired switch from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3 – recalibrated the power balance. After goals by Greenwood and Liam Cooper levelled the score, Gnonto created Crysencio Summerville’s second winning goal in two games with a wonderful run and beautifully weighted through pass. “Wilfried’s a very intelligent young man,” said Marsch. “Wherever you play him you see his savviness and clarity of thought. He speaks multiple languages, understands tactics and has quality. He’s making a big case for more minutes.” Louise Taylor

6) Guardiola’s recipe for City success

Manchester City refused to accept anything less than a win despite João Cancelo’s first-half red card. Pep Guardiola was asked if his team take an elixir to feed their addiction to victory. “A magic potion like Asterix and Obelix?” he said. “No but I see Fulham, they do good things and I made warnings to the players, they trained incredibly well, I saw how focused they were, so I went to sleep confident.” Kevin De Bruyne was again in fine form, claiming the 95th-minute penalty that Erling Haaland dispatched. His manager’s contract expires in the summer and the Belgian seemed no more informed than anyone else about how the situation might play out. “After seven years maybe it is more calm for him. To be honest I don’t know [about his future], I don’t think you’ll get too much out of him. And that is fine.” Jamie Jackson

7) Lallana looks a natural leader for Brighton

Roberto De Zerbi says he needs clever footballers who fully understand his complex tactics and style. One player who is helping his teammates is Adam Lallana. The 34-year-old was briefly part of the coaching staff between Graham Potter’s exit to Chelsea and De Zerbi’s arrival, offering an indication of his future plans. “Lallana is a teacher on the pitch,” De Zerbi said after defeating Wolves 3-2. “I think he will become a very good coach. I hope not now because I want him on the pitch but he is very intelligent, very smart.” While working with the squad, his “enthusiasm, commitment and professionalism” impressed the chief executive, Paul Barber. On the pitch, he looks perfect operating behind Leandro Trossard and excels with the one-touch play in and around the area. He has a few years left in his legs but when the time comes to hang up the boots, he will have options. Will Unwin

In the second half came one of those moments common to these pre-World Cup times. Lucas Paquetá screamed out after a tackle from Jordan Ayew, rolling over several times. Was his Qatar dream dead? The Brazilian, his ankle checked over, continued and played out the 90 minutes. “If anybody was maybe going to create or craft us a goal late in the game it was probably going to be Lucas,” said David Moyes, putting the anguish down to cramp. The Hammers are yet to see the best of a player counted among Brazil manager Tite’s chosen ones, suggesting the problems of recruiting in this interrupted season. Paquetá did not look much interested in physical battles with Crystal Palace and is back in the team after a shoulder problem. Moyes, like so many other Premier League managers, is forced to rely on players whose focus is drifting – a suboptimal situation. John Brewin

Lucas Paqueta in action against Crystal Palace
Lucas Paqueta is yet to peak at West Ham. Photograph: Tom Dulat/Getty Images

9) Foxes find form at both ends of field

“How are you lot behind us?” asked one incredulous Evertonian of a Leicester City video analyst sat in the Goodison Park press box on Saturday night. It was a reasonable query on the final whistle, given the superiority of Brendan Rodgers’ team in every department over their error-strewn hosts, although Leicester are now above Everton on goal difference and heading in a different direction. Creatively, the contributions of James Maddison, Harvey Barnes, Youri Tielemans and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall eclipsed anything Everton had to offer. And their defence made Frank Lampard’s team appear impotent, particularly after Dominic Calvert-Lewin departed with another injury. Leicester conceded 22 goals in the first seven Premier League games of the season; they have conceded three in the last seven. “The summer was tough for us,” said Rodgers, who reserved special praise for his only outfield summer signing. “But I always said that with patience and hard work on the training field we could get back to our level. It’s great to see them playing with joy and quality and you can see the difference that Wout Faes is making.” Andy Hunter

10) The joy of a good goalmouth scramble

Amid the glitz and glamour of the Premier League – a division of otherworldly finesse and scarcely believable skill – there’s nothing like a horribly messy goalmouth scramble to remind us that we’re all human after all. Nottingham Forest’s 96th-minute equaliser against Brentford had a bit of everything: a desperate flap from David Raya, several seconds of human pinball, a helpless last touch from Mathias Jørgensen and, finally, a heroic clearance from Ben Mee – only for goalline technology to intervene and leave him with his head buried in the turf. Thomas Frank’s side have played some excellent football this season, but they have also been highly inconsistent. Without a victory in four, they are now on their longest winless run of the campaign and face an unenviable trip to Manchester City before the World Cup. They have not tasted victory away from home in the league all season; going on their wildly unpredictable form, they’ll probably win 3-0. Will Magee

Mikel Arteta accepts Arsenal are title contenders ‘today’ after win at Chelsea | Mikel Arteta

Mikel Arteta believes that Arsenal are in Premier League title contention – for the moment, at least – after watching them produce a dominant performance in the 1-0 win at Chelsea on Sunday which took them back to the top of the table.

Arteta said that Manchester City, who are two points back in second place, remain the favourites but he did concede that his club are in the mix. “We are today,” Arteta said. “But in football, today and tomorrow is very different. So let’s enjoy the time.

“Do something: just look at the last six years, what Manchester City have done. With the best manager in the world, the best team in the world. They have shown it consistently in every single competition. We have to be very, very respectful of that.

“We are getting much better as a team and competing much better. We are getting really good results right now, but this is a long, long [season].”

Arteta and his players celebrated wildly in front of the travelling enclosure, with the manager revealing that his family were in there. “It’s a big win for us, another step,” he said. “To come here against a top opponent, world-class players all over the pitch, dominate the game and actually win it is very meaningful. Hopefully, it will give the boys even more belief.

“We are a young team but we showed a lot of maturity, a lot of composure, a lot of courage to play on this stage. The boys were absolutely phenomenal. We lacked discipline when we lost at Manchester United [on 4 September]. But we learned that lesson really well. We played really well at Old Trafford and it wasn’t enough. That is the difference to what top teams do.”

Arsenal midfielder Bukayo Saka falls under pressure from Marc Cucurella. Saka was accused of a dive by the Chelsea manager.
Arsenal midfielder Bukayo Saka falls under pressure from Marc Cucurella. Saka was accused of a dive by the Chelsea manager. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

It was feisty at Stamford Bridge, with Graham Potter, the Chelsea manager, accusing the Arsenal winger, Bukayo Saka, of diving after a first-half challenge from Marc Cucurella. Potter yelled out that Saka had dived.

Arteta, by contrast, was furious that Saka did not get a free-kick. “You saw me on that touchline – I was really calm and happy with the decisions,” Arteta said, with no little sarcasm.

Potter was less inflammatory after the match. “I think there was one action that was a little bit contentious, shall we say, but I don’t think he is that type of player,” he said.

Potter is struggling to cope with injury problems – he was without Kepa Arrizabalaga, Reece James, Ben Chilwell, Wesley Fofana and N’Golo Kanté – and he watched his team labour. Aaron Ramsdale did not have a serious save to make in the Arsenal goal.

“You could see the difference in the two teams in terms of confidence, in terms of points they’ve got, in terms of structure and working together,” Potter said. “We are not in a fantastic moment as we speak. As much as it is not nice to say, Arsenal deserved to win the game and were the better team overall so we have to take that and use it as motivation to improve.”

Graham Potter is still Chelsea’s solution to their systemic problems | Chelsea

Thiago Silva paused with the ball on the halfway line. Alongside him, his teammates were pointing and shouting at him to do something with it. Up in the stands, the various strands of encouraging advice being proffered by Chelsea fans had essentially congealed into a single unintelligible noise – something like “faacckkinggettrrrrid”, if we were going to try and transcribe it. And so it was that in the final minute of injury time, with Chelsea rousing themselves in search of a late equaliser, their chosen tactic was to pump a high ball up to the 5ft 7in Raheem Sterling.

As it happened, Sterling was offside, and soon after that Michael Oliver brought proceedings to a merciful close. And strictly speaking Chelsea lost this game not in the fumblings of stoppage time but in the inept and inchoate hour and a half that preceded it. Still, as an emblem of their deficiencies and inefficiencies here, it was as good as any. The good news is that Chelsea look like a team with plenty of ideas. The problem is that nobody seems to be sharing their ideas with anyone else.

The result is akin to one of those Christmas parlour games where one person starts a drawing, folds the paper over and then passes it to someone else, who adds a bit and passes it on, and at the end everyone laughs and has a sherry. A spirited attack would develop, various wet men would run in various directions, and once the move unfolded everyone would look up to discover that Chelsea had somehow ended up with four left-wingers, nobody in the centre, Raheem Sterling on his backside and the ball hurtling back towards their own goal at an alarming speed.

Throw in the menacing undercurrent of a London derby, the driving rain and a noon kick-off, and perhaps it is no surprise that Chelsea left the field looking not just drenched but utterly perplexed. Even the singing betrayed a lack of cohesion: while the Matthew Harding Stand began the game with their customary “champions of Europe, you’ll never sing that”, the East Stand plumped inexplicably for the variant: “where’s your European Cup?” A mess.

For now Graham Potter is still the solution rather than the problem here: a systems coach brought in to manage a squad of impulse purchases, the long-term strategist thrown into the biggest job of his life mid-season.

Graham Potter
Graham Potter failed to gain control over his chaotic Chelsea side against Arsenal. Photograph: Vince Mignott/EPA

But if there has been a weakness in these early weeks it has been the failure to project a sense of control, the sense that amid the rolling chaos there is at least a clear and identifiable direction of travel.

Formations shift from game to game, sometimes from half to half. The press is furious at times and non-existent at others. Sterling is a wing-back one game, a winger the next and a sort of roaming nine-and-three-quarters the one after that. Everyone knows that he is learning on the job. But there are times when you wish he would make it a little less obvious.

But then Potter is fighting deep-seated, systemic issues here. Perhaps this is what happens when you build the entire culture of a football club around the idea of permanent disruption. Where success is merely a case of throwing the best guys together and hoping it all clicks for a season (never two). Just consider how many different roles and tactics – say – Ruben Loftus-Cheek has had to learn over the years under his seven different managers. Time and again we saw Sterling or Kai Havertz or Armando Broja getting the ball and simply stopping to have a bit of a think. Hang on, I know this one. It was in the playbook … Mason comes short and Auba makes the run into the left channel and … oh cripes, there’s Granit Xhaka.

In a way, this is a good sign. It shows that there is at least an element of learning and rewiring taking place here, that the parts are slowly in the process of being moulded into a functional whole. And there were fleeting glimpses of how it might eventually all work: the quick kicks from Edouard Mendy to Sterling, the little darts into the channel from Havertz.

But right now Arsenal are simply too big and complex a problem for this Chelsea to solve. And until Potter’s ideas begin to take root they will continue to look vulnerable: too easy to pass through, too easy to hassle off the ball. Manchester United, Brighton, Dinamo Zagreb and now Arsenal have all discovered that in recent weeks.

The interesting part will be to see whether the right lessons are taken here. Just think how long it took Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal to look remotely competent, let alone capable of challenging Manchester City for the title.

This was Mikel Arteta’s 150th game in all competitions; the last guy to survive that long at Chelsea was 14 managers ago. Potter knows that what he needs above all is a little time, a little patience, a little faith, a little breathing space. He must surely also know that he will get none of these.

Patched-together Chelsea at odds with Graham Potter’s wizard eye for a bargain | Chelsea

Imagine you are Graham Potter. You consider Arsenal’s probable team to face your Chelsea side today. You look at Mikel Arteta’s front three. You are not sure who will play on the right but even with Ben Chilwell injured again you have Marc Cucurella to play on that side of the defence as well as the option of a more attacking wing-back. Then you look at the other flank, where Gabriel Martinelli has been in sensational form. You remember how he embarrassed Emerson Royal and unsettled Trent Alexander-Arnold, how his pace and directness have troubled teams all season. With Reece James out, it is an obvious problem.

Potter has taken charge of Chelsea in 11 games. In seven he has started with a back three and two others, against Wolves and the home game against Salzburg, a hybrid system perhaps best described as a 4-2-3-1 when the right-back was very attacking and the left-sided forward had to shuttle back.

That suggests an inclination to wing-backs but who can he play against Martinelli? César Azpilicueta is 33 and, although committed as ever, age is beginning to sap at him; to offer space behind him for Martinelli to attack would seem a risk. Christian Pulisic was unconvincing on that flank against Brighton as Chelsea lost 4-1. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is another possibility but is relatively inexperienced as a wing-back and he may be needed in the middle.

Perhaps the solution is to use a back four with Azpilicueta as an orthodox full-back. But Thiago Silva is 38 and the defeat by Brighton exposed his lack of pace if he is isolated, as is more likely in a four, particularly when the absence of N’Golo Kanté leaves Chelsea without a real ball-winner in midfield. Notably, other than the dead rubber against Dinamo Zagreb, when the Brazilian was a substitute, the only time Potter has started with what might be termed a pure back four – in his first game, at Crystal Palace – he spent the second half adding runners.

So maybe the solution is the shape he turned to against Manchester United two weeks ago after a first half-hour when Jadon Sancho troubled Azpilicueta and Marcus Rashford repeatedly threatened to get in behind Silva: a back four protected by a midfield diamond. Jorginho may not be the most ferocious presence but his positioning can shield the centre of the defence, with Mateo Kovacic and Loftus-Cheek as diligent blockers alongside him.

That leaves Mason Mount to play behind a front two of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Raheem Sterling or possibly Kai Havertz. That would also pose Arsenal a couple of potentially tricky questions. Can Thomas Partey handle an attacking midfielder directly up against him? And how will William Saliba and Gabriel manage a front two rather than one picking up the centre-forward with the other covering behind? They had few issues against front twos in the wins over Bournemouth and Brentford, but were flustered by Adam Armstrong and Joe Aribo in the draw at Southampton.

What is most significant, though, is less which solution Potter favours than every available option feels a little awkward. They all require some tinkering and repurposing. To an extent that is a matter of misfortune: to lose James, Wesley Fofana and, although he was back on Wednesday, Kalidou Koulibaly at the same time would stretch any squad. But it also highlights how patched together this Chelsea is. Problems that predated the sanctions against Roman Abramovich are still in the process of being resolved.

Silva has far exceeded expectations but no elite club should be so reliant on a player of his age. Aubameyang, at 33, is a short-term fix necessitated by the failure of Romelu Lukaku’s return. Kanté and Jorginho are over 30 and out of contract in June. With the Todd Boehly-Clearlake ownership apparently reluctant to incur significant liability on players with little resale value, any contract offer is likely to be heavily incentive-based and that increases the possibility of one or both leaving.

Perhaps none of that is particularly unusual. Injuries cause imbalances and rebuilding squads is difficult even without the added complication of sanctions. But there is also the obvious issue that Thomas Tuchel was supposedly driving recruitment in the summer, only to be dismissed as soon as the transfer window closed.

Sterling, in the politest possible way, suggested last week he would prefer to be playing as a winger rather than as a wing-back. He will not be the only summer signing wondering whether Potter has the same plans for him that Tuchel did, wondering exactly who is doing the planning.

Boehly, with his eagerness to sign Cristiano Ronaldo and his advocacy of an all-star match, does not seem somebody who instinctively grasps the holistic nature of football, the need for not merely the best players but players whose attributes enhance and are enhanced by those of their teammates. In that regard recent moves for Brighton’s head of recruitment, Paul Winstanley, and Monaco’s technical director, Laurence Stewart, are both hugely important and overdue.

The absence of Kepa Arrizabalaga, whose recent excellence perhaps masked the issues exposed at Brighton, further complicates Potter’s thinking for Sunday but the longer-term issue is instituting a plan that ensures recruitment and coaching are coordinated. Chelsea never seemed particularly discerning in the market even in the later, more financially restrained years of the Abramovich era and, although there were plenty of trophies to show for it, they came at an average loss of £900,000 a week over his 19 years at the club.

The new regime, presumably, will not tolerate that, even if financial fair play regulations have proved to lack teeth, and neither has that been Potter’s style before. His success has come on a budget, buying players tailored to his approach. Whether that clashes with the desire for celebrity Boehly has demonstrated both with his MLB franchise and in repeated public utterances since the takeover remains to be seen.

Without a coherent strategy, though, what is left is the situation Potter finds himself in: lots of good (and expensive) players who do not quite fit together.