Unai Emery has been lauded for his ‘in-game genius’ at times this season but his substitutions in the 1-1 draw at Brighton showed a manager who has yet to work out what his best Arsenal team is yet.It could be called game management due to the number of matches Arsenal have in their packed festive schedule, but the decision to take Mesut Ozil off at half-time for Alex Iwobi will prompt further questions over the manager’s relationship with the German playmaker.It proved to be a hasty substitution, too, when the Gunners required creativity in the final third in the second half. Without wingers, Emery’s side are forced to produce most of their creativity in central areas. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Arsenal started off in typically impressive style, as they have done in the first half of games this season. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s opener on seven minutes was symptomatic of his brilliance since joining for a club-record fee last January.The Gabonese forward has been directly involved in 30 goals in 32 Premier League appearances for Arsenal (23 goals, seven assists) and, if Aubameyang had finished off a one-on-one shortly after his goal, then the Gunners may have been walking away from the Amex Stadium with all three points, but he shot straight at Mat Ryan instead.The lack of defensive organisation for Brighton’s equaliser, which came through Jurgen Locadia, wasn’t surprising, although Stephan Lichtsteiner’s rustiness at right-back was to Arsenal’s detriment. Starting in place of the injured Hector Bellerin, the Switzerland international was guilty of heading the ball into the path of Locadia, who rounded Bernd Leno to strike home. No team has committed more errors leading to an opposition goal in the Premier League than Arsenal this season (six), although some of that can be put down to the defensive injuries recently suffered at the back.Alexandre Lacazette was hauled off on 62 minutes for Aaron Ramsey, much to his frustration. The Frenchman threw his gloves on the ground for the second game running and, while Emery has previously admitted that he ‘likes’ that kind of response from his striker, it’s already becoming evident that certain players are becoming irked by the manager’s mid-game decisions which aren’t working.Lacazette’s harrying of Brighton players was integral in the opening goal so questions will certainly be asked over bringing him off and leaving three defensive midfielders on the pitch.The lack of intensity from Arsenal in the second half will undoubtedly frustrate Emery and, ahead of Saturday’s match against Liverpool at Anfield, it appears that the Gunners find themselves in a similar position to when Jurgen Klopp took over at the Reds.A team in transition with much improvement needed, particularly where keeping the lead is concerned. What looks like an enthralling match on paper could expose Emery’s tinkering methods even further if the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have their way on Saturday. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Romelu Lukaku has hit out at the “lies” being spread about him as speculation builds regarding a possible transfer away from Manchester United.The Red Devils invested £75 million ($96m) in the Belgium international back in the summer of 2017.Jose Mourinho moved to prise him away from Everton after seeing the 25-year-old become one of the most prolific strikers in the Premier League. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? He delivered a 27-goal return in his debut season at Old Trafford, before going on to net four times for his country at the 2018 World Cup.Lukaku was, however, to endure a slow start to the current campaign, going 12 games without finding the target for United at one stage.As he toiled, Mourinho was eventually shown to the exits and replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.The new man at the helm is yet to hand Lukaku a Premier League start, with a substitute role having to be accepted as Marcus Rashford shines in a central striking berth.A lack of minutes has sparked talk of a move being made, with Juventus among those said to be open to the idea of landing a proven frontman.Lukaku, though, appears to have quashed the exit talk with a post on Instagram which read: “When the hate don’t work they start telling lies.”Solskjaer has already sought to assure Lukaku that he still has a part to play in his plans.The Norwegian knows all about life in a star-studded squad at Old Trafford from his own playing days.He often had to contend with being an impact option off the bench, and thrived under Sir Alex Ferguson to establish a reputation as one of the best in the business in that role.Lukaku may have to do likewise, but has impressed enough in training to suggest that he will get regular opportunities to impress.Solskjaer said: “I used to be one of four strikers when we played with two. Now we have six forwards and we play with three.“There are enough games. It is about taking your chances when you get them.“No-one is scoring as many as Romelu in training.”Despite starting just one FA Cup game under the Red Devils’ new boss, Lukaku has managed three goals in his last five appearances.More chances will come his way, but for now Rashford is leading the line with Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial offering support from wide attacking posts.