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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Arsenal have big problems all over the pitch

Five things we learned from the weekend

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scores on his Arsenal debut against Everton
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1 Arsenal should have spent differently in January
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was a vanity signing for Arsenal, deigned to make the fans feel better after losing Alexis Sanchez. But the Gabon forward did little at Wembley to suggest the Gunners were right to bring him from Borussia Dortmund.

Aubameyang, cup-tied for Arsenal's priority target of the Europa League, needs time to settle and should improve but their 3-0 League Cup final hammering at the hands of Manchester City highlighted a desperate need for Arsene Wenger to improve other areas of the team.

Wenger's midfield, not for the first time, failed to function and their hapless defence look out of their depth at the highest level with Shkodran Mustafi's rick for the opener typical of the individual errors which happen too often. 

2 Lukaku can influence big matches
Manchester United secured a massive victory over top-four rivals Chelsea and former Blues man Romelu Lukaku proved to be the difference at Old Trafford.

Lukaku, for so long labelled a flat-track bully unable to influence elite matches, stepped up when United desperately needed inspiration, equalising in a sub-standard first-half performance and then providing the assist for substitute Jesse Lingard's winner.

United may not be any better than the other teams aiming for Champions League qualification, but the six-point advantage they have on fifth-placed Chelsea may now be decisive and Lukaku was the main man. 

3 Palace desperate for injuries to clear up
There is no disgrace in losing 1-0 to Tottenham but Crystal Palace were weak in the betting for the Selhurst Park loss and could quite easily have been on the wrong end of a heavy beating had Spurs not passed up so many opportunities to put a fairer reflecting on the contest.

Roy Hodgson has a week to get some of his walking wounded ready for next Monday's clash with United, but not many teams can cope with 12 injured players.

Almost from nowhere, the Eagles are sleepwalking back towards a relegation battle and they could quite easily find themselves in the bottom three by the time they face the Red Devils.

4 Flying Fulham fancied for a strong finish
It's not often this season that Nuno has been forced to concede Wolves were beaten by the better side but that was the case on Saturday as Fulham recorded a 2-0 triumph over the Sky Bet Championship leaders.

Fulham's win came one week after they beat Aston Villa by the same score at Craven Cottage and, just like last season, Slavisa Jokanovic's side are flying in the second half of the campaign.

Clawing back eight points on second-placed Cardiff will be a tough task and despite it looking set to be a high-class playoff field, Fulham should be among the frontrunners to reach the Premier League via a trip to Wembley.

5 Troubled times for Vale
Port Vale slumped to 22nd in League Two - their lowest league position in 33 years - and their ugly 0-0 home draw with Newport suggests it could well be a nervy battle against relegation.

The pressure has intensified following wins for Crewe, Forest Green, Morecambe, Chesterfield and Barnet on Saturday and Vale's next two matches - away to the Bees and Grimsby - are absolute humdingers.

Vale fans are praying that 14-goal Tom Pope can keep them up but the influential target man is playing with an injury, missing training just so he can struggle through on match days.   

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Fulham should be among the frontrunners to reach the Premier League via a trip to Wembley
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