The Opener.

It starts.

What an interesting couple of games to get us going – especially with our injury situation.  Two teams beginning with L. No idea what our record is agains teams beginning with different letters of the alphabet but I know we do well against T teams.

Strangely last season Liverpool struggled upfront despite having Origi, Benteke, Ings, Sturridge and Balotelli :-D. This is a massive investment into centre forwards but Klopp is so unsure about his attack that he has spent another bucket of money on the potentially excellent Mane (who would have fitted well into our squad).


I noticed that they have signed an ex-Gooner in Alex Manninger. A pleasant and unexpected  addition to Alex’s pension fund.

If you look at Liverpool’s squad they are very strong in all positions, especially midfield. Klopp has strengthened an already promising team and in Coutinho they have a player who is almost Ozil-esque … almost.

But despite having a manager we coveted, a team which cost way more than AFC’s and a huge fanbase, they have consistently failed to get amongst the Big Boys. Why? In all honesty I do not know and more to the point I don’t care; this is an Arsenal blog!

So, what of our boys? Well, the Boyo is likely to start following his heroics in the Euro’s, so is our new boy, Xhaka, who is likely to have a major influence upon our season should he stay fit and strong.

Injury problems in defence will surely result in us playing with two DM’s to assist the youngsters. It will be interesting to see whether Coquelin or Elneny starts alongside our the Swiss chap. Midfield is going to be fascinating as we progress through to Xmas we have Cazorla, Ramsey, Iwobi, Wilshere, Ox and Ozil all vying for the attacking MF position.

My Team:


Bellerin    Holding   Chambers    Monreal

Xhaka   Coquelin


Ox     Walcott     Sanchez

It hurts to leave out Santi – he is such a wonderful player and perhaps he will take Ox or Ramsey’s place, more likely he will be a super-sub. Iwobi is a Wenger favourite, and rightly so, but I just cannot find a place for him although an alternative could be to play Ramsey on the left in place of Ox with Iwobi on the right of midfield

Walcott has to lead the line; he is a confidence player and should he score a goal we will benefit.My fear is that the Emirates faithful will scapegoat him should he endure a poor half and then we know that Theo will hide. Alongside Ox, Sanchez and Rambo we should have enough.

I don’t think we can judge how the season will unfurl from this afternoon – we lost to Villa a couple of season’s ago and our record over the past 5 seasons is W1 D3 L1, not too dusty.

A win today would be terrific, the bookies have us at 55% likely to win and Liverpool just 33% (the remainder is the draw).

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners

written by Big Raddy



133 Responses to The Opener.

  1. Wonderful pre-match to get us started Raddy, thank you.

    Personally I think Santi has to play but that means shoe-horning others into different positions and I think our team needs to know how to play as a team rather than a group of talented individuals. Arsene has a problem ……… same old same old 😉

    Looking to Oxchambo and Theo to stamp some spirit and authority on their positions.

    I’ll be at the Emirates, so by 4pm I’ll just be wanting a great game and for us to win of course 🙂

  2. chas mobile says:

    And they’re off!

  3. Ant says:

    Chas and I have become teetotal for this season..

  4. Ant says:

    That’s a golfing term Eddie.

  5. chas mobile says:

    Cheers, BR, great to have you back with another fine pre-match.

    Even with a few players still working off the summer burgers and paella, we still have plenty of options.
    I fancy Cazorla but that’s another matter entirely.
    One thing’s for sure, we’ll have a fine day out in London. 🙂

  6. LB says:

    Thanks for that BR

    There is plenty to think about and what rises to the top for me is the amount of options we have regarding who will and who won’t start.

    On Theo, although he is the pantomime villain on the blogsphere I don’t think that that carries over into the Emirates; he seems to be liked and I expect him to get a good reception, although, I don’t expect him to start.

    I also don’t expect Xhaka to start either, I anticipate that Wenger will do everything he can to protect the central defenders and that is Coquelin and Elneny

    I think Cazorla is the fittest of the attacking midfielders and as such I expect him to start over Ramsey. And again Iwobi is a favorite and rightly so as you say and as such I expect him to start.

    And so the starting line up that I expect Wenger will go for is this:


    Bellerin, Holding, Chambers, Monreal

    ———-Elneny—— Coquelin



    I enjoyed writing that comment.

  7. Ant says:

  8. chas mobile says:

  9. Ant says:

    Agree mostly about the team LB.. But I think Ramsey will play at 10 with Santi on the wing to use his pace.

  10. chas mobile says:

    Happy Birthday, LB.

    I hope you get everything you wish for, especially the 3 points. 😉

  11. Ant says:

    And cut this crap about Olly Mickey, he is a skilful world class striker

  12. chas mobile says:

    I think Santi might be wide after a summer of paella and patatas bravas, but playing wide – not a snowball’s.

  13. Ant says:

    That looks an excellent team LB..very excited

  14. Ant says:

    Where’s the Polish assassin?

  15. chas mobile says:

  16. Ant says:

    And Bounds Green

  17. chas mobile says:

    Eddie has a termination contract to fulfill on Marmite DJ before coming on here.

  18. Ant says:

  19. Ant says:

    The last time I looked Eddie’s termination contract list was over a hundred..

  20. chas mobile says:

    Everyone used to wear donkey jackets and their old school scarfs like that. I’m quite offended by your ‘unemployed actor’ comment. 🙂

  21. Ant says:

  22. Ant says:

    I miss the Scottish bearded one

  23. Ant says:

    And where’s RA?

  24. Rasp says:

    I’m back in Blighty – bugger I could have made the game 😦

  25. Rasp says:

    So we haven’t signed a world class CB, who can get straight off the plane, put his kit on and play today? 😆

  26. Ant says:

    Yes we have their names are Chambers and Holding

  27. LB says:


    Were you in Vigo or Baiona or both?

  28. Ant says:

    He was in Balsall Heath.

  29. Rasp says:

    Hi, LB, we could see Vigo from our mooring in Combara. It was great fun but we were shrouded in a mist which I believe is common to the area, also there were forest fires and the smoke was also rolling down the hillsides. It’s a lovely spot and the food and the locals were great.

  30. Rasp says:

    Have I said something to upset you and? 🙂

  31. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers BR, ‘Danish’ King of the Match Preview 😀

    The line up looks likely but I reckon Arsene will come up with some surprises as he is wary of Pool’s Gegenpress. I was at THOF to watch this match last season and it was frightening how they played us off the pitch during the first half at times. Cech saved us more than once with sublime goal keeping and then we turned it round in the second half and were unfortunate not to win.

    I don’t know how anybody can leave out Elneny. He is the best player we have bar Das Ozil, Alexis and Koz. Best passer in the game and always looking for the best pass, huge physical and athletic presence and he knows where he has got to be.

    Agreed with the birthday boy that Coq is likely to play next to Elneny. At the back I expect Nacho to partner either one of your CBs. Up front I am hoping for Rambo behind Alexis but I reckon you got the line up about right, even though it is more likely to be Campbell for Oxie.

    Enjoy the game AAers and here is to another exciting journey towards achievable glory. CoyGs! 💥💥💥💥💥💥

  32. Rasp says:

    We also sailed to Porto Nuovo and round the Rias LB

  33. Ant says:

    No of course not Rasp.. Just jesting

  34. Rasp says:

    Sadly accidentally we moored off a nudist beach 😦 I kept my trolleys on but my brother let it all hang out – especially his eyes on stalks 🙂

  35. Rasp says:

    Sorry Raddy, top notch PM. I like your team but agree with peaches that Santi is too good to drop. I’d play him in place of Ramsey but that won’t happen. I’m envious of those going to the game, give them a loud cheer for me guys and gals 🙂

  36. fatgingergooner says:

    Coutinho is over rated. A very capable player who can do wonderful things, but will then go 5 games doing sod all.

    I’ve already read one article today saying if we don’t win then we can’t challenge for the title! Hilarious. Given our defensive issues and Liverpools high press, a draw wouldn’t be a terrible result, but if we can keep it together at the back then we should outscore them.

    No idea how the final line up will look but I wouldn’t be shocked if Monreal plays CB, Xhaka starts, and Theo plays up front.

    Enjoy the game.

  37. Ant says:

    What formation are we playing today Rasper?

  38. LB says:

    Combarro, there is probably a Spanish and Galician spelling. Is that the the historic, beautiful little town with the distinctive stone buildings on stone stilts? If it is the same place then I know you were in a special place with very special food.

    I am dreaming as I write this, ah well back to football.

  39. LB says:


    Put up the team you think that Wenger will pick?

  40. GunnerN5 says:

    Morning all,

    Yet another great pre-match from Raddy.

    We are so overloaded in the mid-field that we could field many different combinations that would all look good.

    Klopp will have his players wound up like a spring and I think they will come out on full offense, so it will be critical to have a solid defensive display – especially in the 1st 15/20 minutes.

    FGG – I think that Coutinho is a player to be feared, he can, and does, score from distance.

    In a few short hours all will be known – I can hardly wait………

  41. Big Raddy says:

    LB. Happy Birthday.

  42. Rasp says:

    Many happy returns. Those stone structures are apparently grain stores, they’re on stone mushrooms are to prevent rats etc. As you say there is a heritage area with all these old structures renovated – very atmospheric

  43. Rasp says:

    My team …. same as Raddy except Cazorla for Coquelin, Nacho for Chambers and Gibbs as LB

    A 4:2:3:1 with Xhaka staying in front of the back 4 and Santi with license to go forward.

  44. Eddie says:

    prematch that was well worth waiting for, thanks Raddy. It’s a shame you don’t hate Scoucers – your pre matches are best with an edge 🙂

    Santi must play, but you are probably right – power sub.

    I want us to win. I will support my team. I am nervous. Very.

  45. JM says:

    Captain for the day: Petr Čech

  46. Eddie says:

    ant and chas teetotal my arse. What would you do on weekends? Watch Arsenal? stone cold sober?? no mate (s) you could not do that.

    Funny that, in my drinking days I thought we were the best team in the world. And I loved Wenger then and GG before, I would have loved Sam Allardyce if he was our manager. maybe I should take up drinking again

  47. JM says:

    Liverpool’s line-up

  48. fatgingergooner says:

    Everyone I speak to seems to think we get a beating today. I can’t say I’m feeling massively confident myself but I know we have players who can hurt them so hopefully we can play around their press and be clinical in our finishing. Rambo and Elneny could be key today.

  49. Didit says:

    quick qick
    Cheers Erik
    Nice team
    Come on you Gunnnnners

  50. Big Raddy says:

    Iwobi instead of Ox – a sign of the future?

    BR. 9 out of !!. Could do better.

    Right ….. COYRRG

  51. This new fierce Theo needs to watch where he puts his foot in.

  52. Big Raddy says:

    Rubbish penalty. Let’s hope it is not costly.

  53. Big Raddy says:

    Brilliant from Theo. Superb shot.

    Why did AW say Theo will no longer be considered as a right winger?

  54. Not costly at all 😃 Theoooooo

  55. Didit says:

    Iwobi. Theo. Goal. Deadly yipeeeeee 🙂

  56. Big Raddy says:

    FFS. We have been all over them and go in level.

    We have been playing well with Theo and Alexis really buzzing.

    Football can be a cruel game

  57. Didit says:

    Superb half
    Don’t care about their diddy little goal
    We’ll score more

  58. fatgingergooner says:

    Great free kick. We didn’t deserve that before half time. We’ve played pretty well but just need to get the likes of Ramsey and Sanchez involved a little more. Good half.

  59. Didit says:

    Hey Erik
    Just to say I read your PM during lunch break on the beach and loved it.

  60. Aaron says:

    Very, very good 1st half from team.
    Theo drew penalty and then missed by a mile. Why is he taking the dang thing anyway?
    He then scores one to put the Arsenal back on top.
    Give up a soft foul from a mile and of course pool score in injury time.
    Time for another goal for the win.
    Come on Gunners!

  61. I feel Ramsey is too far forward, there’s often a front four and too much space between them and Coq and Elneny

  62. fatgingergooner says:

    Can see a red card in this game. Just hope it’s Henderson or Lovren!

  63. fatgingergooner says:

    Feel there is a chance to get Sanchez or Theo in behind their defence but we are just not quite seeing the pass fast enough. Definitely more goals in this game though.

  64. Big Raddy says:

    FGG. I worry every time the ball goes near Coquelin

  65. Red Arnie says:

    Brilliant, Raddy. 🙂 Nice to be back to business.

    Have we started the race to the bottom yet? No, no way!

    Poor penalty miss, nice goal, and an unlucky goal to concede, all to play for! COYG.

  66. fatgingergooner says:

    Tore us apart there.

  67. fatgingergooner says:

    Counting I showing me up and having one of his good games!

  68. fatgingergooner says:

    Chasing shadows.

  69. Gone to pot now, can’t get the ball can’t get out of our half

  70. Adrian says:

    What a joke. Lets see what the match going crowd thinks of Wenger at the 90th minute.

  71. Big Raddy says:


    We were concerned and we were right to be. Awful defending. Twice.

    Still we have 30 minutes to get some pride restored

  72. Red Arnie says:

    disaster, unmitigated disaster!

  73. Big Raddy says:

    And now we get our first injury of the season. Not really surprised that it is Ramsey.

  74. Big Raddy says:

    Wow. That is some goal from Mane – we really should have bought him.

  75. fatgingergooner says:

    Going to be a fun week.

  76. Didit says:

    Frankly, Arnie, everything was going swimmingly well until you turned up 🙂

    Oh shit. 4.

  77. Aaron says:

    4 shots 4 goals!

  78. Big Raddy says:

    Think I am going to watch the Olympics. 😦

  79. Big Raddy says:

    Brilliant from OX…. maybe I should watch more.

  80. Didit says:

    Superb Ox

  81. Eddie says:

    What did you expect??!!

  82. Didit says:

    I think we could soon hear a portion of the fans asking the board politely to spend some money 🙂

  83. Didit says:

    Come on Eddie
    20 mins still to go and we’ve had six goals already
    I’d take that over a 1-1
    Come on lads, 2 more

  84. Oh do come on Arsenal 🙂

  85. Eddie says:

    I feel for the players

    I don’t have to quit smoking , that’s a positive

  86. Red Arnie says:

    sad that we came up the wrong side of a fantastic scoreline, but not to worry. onwards and upwards!

  87. Didit says:

    7 goals is good 🙂

  88. LB – looking forward to your report 😉

  89. Red Arnie says:

    what a start to the season!

  90. Aaron says:

    Need to build on this- there was some belief from the team after Ox scored that goal!
    All of pools goals had to be perfect and the were fortunate. Only guy on damn team for pool scored who could and they were brilliant shots.
    Thought Arsenal took it to them and almost equalized.
    No where to go but up!
    Can’t wait until next game.

  91. Big Raddy says:

    We deserved better. We were the better team apart from just 15 minutes.

    There has to be question marks about the way our midfield protected the inexperienced defence. It was simply not good enough from both Elneny and Coquelin.

    Upfront we have potency and pace but I feared the missed penalty would cost us and so it proved.

  92. fatgingergooner says:

    Well I expected 2 awful defences against 2 very good attacking units and that’s exactly what we got. Unfortunately Liverpools defence held out better than ours and they were more clinical. Showed a bit of pride at the end but still not good enough. Hopefully we can get Koscielny, Özil, Wilshere and Giroud back in good form and bring in the ST and CB we desperately need. Frustrating that once again the injury plague has struck. If anyone wants to know why Kos didn’t play then have a look at Ramsey’s hamstring. Why can our players just not stay fit!? Saying its Wengers fault isn’t really an answer by the way!

  93. IanRealGunner says:

    Result that was expected. Arrogance to play that team, and keep experienced defenders in the stands. This is Wenger’s last season – if he lasts that long. Total disgrace of a performance

  94. Rasp says:

    Not a great start to the season surely – unless you’re a neutral. We may have played well, but we lost – 3 points to pool, 0 to Arsenal. Long way to go. Did AW get his tactics right or was it just the fact that they were more clinical in their finishing?

  95. Rasp says:

    Add Ozil, koz and Giroud and we would have won

  96. fatgingergooner says:

    It feels a bit strange starting seasons when teams have lots of players still resting from international tournaments and the transfer window still open. I think the FA need to look at that as it would surely make more sense for the window to be closed and everyone fit for the opening games.

    Not an excuse, as Liverpool were also missing players, but I do find it odd.

  97. Big Raddy says:

    Ian. Sorry but that was not a disgraceful performance.

    We were the better team for the first 45 minutes, had a crap 15 mins and finished the game well.

    I agree that AW should have played an experienced CB, but what happened to Ramsey is proof of what happens when using a tired player. The same happened to Sanchez etc at the start of 2015

  98. Didit says:

    I think Aaron makes a very good point

    Pool goals were perfectly executed, and no team does that four times in one game. Sure our defensive side was weak, but his point is valid

  99. fatgingergooner says:

    I would say timing, Rasp.

    Goals just before and just after half time are killers.

    Tactically I don’t like Sanchez as a ST as he either stays up top and can be isolated, or comes too deep to get involved and leaves us lacking up front. I’d prefer him more in the game so the LW works better I think. Then again I don’t like Theo up top either so the failing has been not getting anybody in rather than tactics. We really need another option.

    I thought we played ok but that 20 minutes from Liverpool was deadly. They ripped us apart.

  100. Rasp says:

    Thanks fgg, well I hope Arsene works out his strongest side sooner this season. We may have had no choice today, but when the EC contingent returns we need to find s balanced team with leadership qualities throughout

  101. Rasp says:

    Our guy doing well in the men’s floor final, guaranteed no less than bronze as it stands

  102. Rasp says:

    …… And he gets the gold 🙂

  103. Liverpool weren’t that good, if we hadn’t collapsed at the start of the 2nd half I’m sure we would have won.

    What is it about conceding that means we go to pieces????? I know, no leaders

    Anyway back to the Olympics which is scarily addictive

  104. IanRealGunner says:

    I disagree – it is a disgraceful performance for a top team to let in 4 goals at home (and all in the space of 20 minutes). We can talk about spirit and mental resilience by trying to come back, but that is bullshit as the resilience was required at the start of the second half. Instead, we felt sorry for ourselves for letting in a soft goal at the end of the first half and no-one on that pitch took charge and gripped the team. Just my take on it, sorry it differs from yours but after all, reasoned debate is healthy at least!!!!!!

  105. fatgingergooner says:

    I wish people (Henry) would stop going on about how Vardy rejected Arsenal. It’s a unique situation where Leicester are in the CL and he wanted to stay to have that opportunity with them. Do you seriously believe if we had gone for Vardy the year before he would’ve turned us down? Would he bollocks. The fact he turned us down doesn’t mean we can no longer attract players. Get over it!

  106. fatgingergooner says:

    How ironic that our RW’s start scoring and everything else goes to shit! 😄

    I don’t really blame the 2 CB’s for the loss. I think our defending as a team was a poor and we looked tired towards the end. Even the players that came on looked shattered after 10 minutes. Lots of work to do in the next few weeks but I’m sure we’ll bounce back.

    If we sign Mustafi and a ST and pick up wins against Leicester and Watford then we will go into the international break all rosey again! Easy.

  107. Didit says:

    “What is it about conceding that means we go to pieces????? I know, no leaders”

    I agree. I find it quite staggering that Arsene selects players like Arteta and Per.
    He simply doesn’t believe in yer Tony Adams’

    Tennis final soon

  108. fatgingergooner says:

    Was that 2 Cazorla assists even though he looked like he couldn’t run!? 1 for Iwobi too I think.

    Expect the phrase ‘as reliable as a Ramsey hamstring’ to be a thing of the future. That lad is ruined by hamstring injuries and it’s becoming a big problem for us. I suppose it makes selection a bit easier though. Özil number 10 and any 2 from Elneny, Coquelin, Cazorla, Wilshere and Xhaka. Looks like Iwobi out aswell so Sanchez back on LW although Ox did ok when he came on and scored a great goal.

  109. Big Raddy says:

    Ian. Fair point – discussion is what this blog is all about and I respect our differing opinions.

    I feel far happier that the defence was poor as opposed to the attack because our best defenders will return soon.

  110. IanRealGunner says:

    Thanks Raddy. Appreciate that.

    As a further aside, Arsene stated in his post-match interview that a number of the players weren’t ready for the new season – there is a discussion alone in that point, but bearing in mind our woeful record in recent seasons on the day 1 opener, is it worth the club reverting back to the Austrian training camp of old rather than playing pointless, but lucrative, matches globally against the likes of that pub team, Viking FC. Someone may have the stats of Arsenal’s season starts when Arsene did the Austria camp. As we have so much money, and don’t bother to spend it anyway, why go to all the hassle of doing these money-spinning global pre-season tours??? Just a thought.

  111. chas mobile says:

    Cut out the half-time ganja and we’ll be fine.

  112. fatgingergooner says:

    We could be looking at 5 or 6 gold medals in the Olympics tonight! We’ve already had 2 today and 1 guaranteed in the cycling, 1 in sailing, Murray in the tennis final, chance in the gymnastics again. Brilliant!

  113. Rc78 says:

    Not surprised at the loss given the line up. We also lost Ramsey and Iwobi to injury. We should have played Xhaka El Neny Coquelin in the middle and then cazorla as 10 with Ox and Campbell up front.

    Anyways another loss at home to start the season and another poor defensive display. Well done gunners

  114. Big Raddy says:

    Loving the gymnastics.

    RC. Was Iwobi injured?

  115. wally says:

    People keep thinking wenger is going to add a striker. This is delusional thinking. It ain’t gonna happen people! Why do you think he’s been talking walcott up as a striker, as a solution.
    Good first half, late goal aside. Certainly exceeded expectations
    Disastrous 2nd, all too typical wasn’t it. ‘pool ain’t that good are they.
    Result was unsurprising.

  116. Has our birthday boy been seen at all? Just thinking about tomorrow’s post……..

  117. LB says:

    The birthday boy has been writing. I’m getting tired now. I will put it in drafts tomorrow morning I need to look at it again after I have slept.

  118. RC78 says:

    BR – yep. Iwobi has a thigh problem.

  119. That’s perfect LB, thank you 😃

  120. Red Arnie says:

    belated happy birthday LB. 🙂 as you might imagine, I am out of tune. 🙂

  121. JM says:

    – Scored 3 goals, while also conceded 4 goals in a home defeat.
    – Both Ramsey (hamstring, could be out for months) and Iwobi (thigh) are injured, adding to a slowly mounting list (with Mertesacker, Gabriel, Jenkinson and Welbeck still out for months)
    – Debuchy, Campbell, Sanogo were not selected in squad and are likely to leave (either on loan or permanently).
    – Koscielny, Ozil and Giroud might still be short of 100% fitness for next week’s visit to Leicester. Xhaka was not in starting line-up because of similar reason (from Wenger).

  122. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    Not the start we all wished for but there were positives.

    Looking forward to the Birthday Boys post

  123. LB says:

    Your wish is………new post.

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