A Tasty Fixture

It is 2869 miles from The Emirates to Baku Stadium (see pic below), thank Dennis the lads aren’t going by coach.

Chas gave us the info on Qarabag where the local food looks simply excellent. Who could not enjoy a plate of pilaf followed up by a baklava or two?


Which means that all I have to write about is the football and, to be quite honest, I know SFA about Qarabag – even less than Eddie! Furthermore, on a dull Copenhagen morning I have little enthusiasm to do much research. Sorry.

As such, I will concentrate on the Men in the White Hats.

We have a number of missing players – PEA, Mhiki, Helmet, AMN, Ramsey, GB, Kos. Last night and this morning we are being told that Spurs lost because they were missing a couple of players – in the unlikely event that we get cheated out of victory, will the media give us the same latitude?


With so many absentees, selection becomes easier for UE.

The main question is whether UE will continue to play Mustafi. We paid €25m too much for the lummox, but does this mean he gets leeway week after week? I guess much depends upon  whether UE trusts Sokratis or Holding to play on the right.

Will Emery play some youth? Perhaps Smith Rowe (Lab) but I doubt it. I expect him to start with a very strong side


Bellerin    GB    Holding    Monreal

Terrier   Xhaka    Iwobi


Lacazette   Welbeck

Given his age, it may be an ideal game to rest Monreal and get Kolasinac on the pitch, the Wardrobe (Kol) has yet to establish himself at Arsenal but has the capability of cementing a place as Monreal tires.

I am looking for 3 points and to top  our group.

Don’t forget the earlier kick-off time




70 Responses to A Tasty Fixture

  1. LB says:

    Thanks for taking the trouble to write something.

    Woo, you have a strong side up there.

    I was just about to disagree but had a look at who has and who hasn’t traveled and see now why you chose who you have.

  2. mickydidit89 says:

    Hang on a mo

    The Baku stadium is where the final is going to be played, and Qarabag simply play their Europa ties there. Capacity 68,000!!!

  3. chas says:

    Cheers, BR.

    I’m really surprised that Mr Emery has taken such a strong squad to Baku.

    Yeah, we all used to moan if Arsene picked some youngsters and second stringers who then proceeded to get beat. And I suppose if we attempt to make sure of qualification in the first few fixtures then it makes sense.

    What worries me is that even if some of the first teamers don’t get on the pitch, they’ll still be worn out by the long flight. The poor things!
    I hope it doesn’t come back to bite us on Sunday at the Cottage.

    I’d like to see Licht and the Wardrobe at full back and Douzi in midfield as a minimum.

  4. mickydidit89 says:

    Erik, thank you

    Couldn’t you have at least researched the KO time for us, rather than making us to do it all by ourselves 🙂

    Thanks for the heads up though as I would have missed the 17:55 KO

    I’d like to see at least one or two younger guns start. Nketiah?

  5. Big Raddy says:

    chas. I trust all 3 to play well at the Cottage should Hector, Nacho or terrier be tired.

    I think we give it the beans, have 6 points, win our next EL fixture and coast into the next round.

  6. chas says:

    All that Armenia/Azerbaijan conflict stuff shouldn’t influence flippin football should it?

  7. chas says:

    Well, the Terrier looks pleased to have made the trip anyway!

  8. mickydidit89 says:


    Your “poor things” comment means you agree with this. How tiring can sitting on an aeroplane be?

    They’re not making their way to Heathrow on the Piccadilly Line while dragging a huge suitcase for a two week holiday

    Like you, I never did understand the whole exhausting away trips thing

  9. chas says:

    It’s the prospect of DVT and having to wear those support stockings that fucks em up.

    Heathrow on the Piccadilly definitely seems further than Azerbaijan. 🙂

  10. mickydidit89 says:

    ha ha ha

    So true about Mkhi and the final

  11. mickydidit89 says:

    Indeed. I’ve done Heathrow to The Ems direct on the Piccadilly Line and it took three and a half weeks

  12. chas says:

    I absolutely detest those wheelie case things. Three people with them blocks the whole of a tube connecting tunnel.
    What’s wrong with having your shoulder pulled out of its socket, ffs?

  13. chas says:

  14. LBG says:

    Hector, Nacho and Terrier all rested.
    Wardrobe, Lich in. Socrates fit and needs 60 mins. Might start with a couple of youngsters and replace if they have eaten too many CarrierBag dumplings pre match. Welbz to score.

  15. chas says:

    Pleasing to see Sokratis back fit and eyeing up the pussy. 🙂

  16. chas says:

    The Azersun Arena capacity 5,800. Looks nice.

  17. mickydidit89 says:

    Is that their home ground?

  18. mickydidit89 says:

    Mmmm, maybe Unai wants some 1st XI’ers to get a few minutes at The Baku Stadium before we go back there in May

  19. LB says:

    There may be more in that than first meets the eye Micky

  20. mickydidit89 says:

    How much more could there possibly be, LB?

    ‘cos it ain’t so they can try the local cuisine 🙂

    I honestly think it’s a sensible idea as come the final, every little advantage could make the difference

  21. Big Raddy says:

    I think this talk of player exhaustion after two games in a week is complete tosh.

    I used to play at least 4 hours, during and after school, every weekday and then 5 to 6 hours at weekends. Was I tired? No. And I was playing in front of a couple of dogs and a squirrel or two whereas they are playing in front of 60+k which must give a hefty adrenalin boost.

    As to the plane journey. Flying first class, not drinking the free champagne or G & T’s, getting an hour massage pre and post game then no Piccadilly or Gatwick Express on their return.

    Piss easy.

  22. LB says:

    Altitude difference, climate change, pollution levels and of course jet lag, there are plenty of other things to consider Micky.

    Unai Emery should have Azerbaijani water bottled and brought back and given out to the team at half time so that they acclimatise before next may.

    I love the image of Squirrels watching BR playing football. The thing that many people don’t realise is that squirrels can be very critical and that can affect a young man’s self esteem.

  23. Rasp says:

    Great work, thanks Raddy.

    It’s a long way to go, but I see the sense of sending a strong team. Apparently Unai is big on creating a ‘winning attitude’ … amen to that!

    We’ve got a stronger squad than the Wembley shower any way so a few changes shouldn’t make much difference.

    I’d leave Ramsey out of all squads until he leaves … he doesn’t want to play for us and that must create an atmosphere in the dressing room….. on the other hand, I’d be very happy if Danny signed a contract extension.

  24. chas says:

    Talking of altitude difference, both Baku and the Caspian Sea which it borders, are 92 feet below sea level, making it the lowest lying capital in the world.

    The Caspian Sea is an endorheic water system. It has no outflows to the sea, meaning the water either soaks into the ground or evaporates. The water is saline even though it’s entirely surrounded by land. It’s basically a giant inland basin.

    You know how runners go to train at high altitudes so that they’ll run faster when back at sea level and teams hate playing Ecuador in Quito because it’s nearly 10,000 feet above sea level, well, what effect will playing below sea level have?
    Will we be faster or slower at Craven Cottage on Sunday?

  25. chas says:

    Apparently Rambo’s missus is up the duff and expecting twins very soon, so he was given early paternity leave for the Qarabag trip.

  26. Big Raddy says:

    2.29 Fascinating.

    LB. You are right. Squirrels are a very tough audience

  27. mickydidit89 says:

    what effect will playing below sea level have?

    Snorkels required?

  28. LB says:

    I’m guessing the squirrels will need them.

  29. LB says:

    Arsenal XI: Leno, Lichtsteiner, Holding, Sokratis, Monreal. Guendouzi, Elneny, Smith Rowe, Iwobi, Kolasinac, Welbeck.

    Subs: Martinez, Bellerin, Lacazette, Ozil, Torreira, Mustafi, Xhaka.

  30. LB says:

    That makes a bit more sense.

  31. Big Raddy says:

    My guess of the team was pants only 6/11. UE’s team is still strong enough to win the game

  32. Big Raddy says:

    What a superb stadium.

  33. Big Raddy says:

    Oh dear. Seems like I am on my own on the sofa 😦

  34. Big Raddy says:

    Get in . TGB scores in side 4 minutes.

  35. mickydidit89 says:

    Budge up. wHO SCORED

  36. mickydidit89 says:

    Ah, Sokratis?

  37. mickydidit89 says:

    Ooo, I say, Koli promoted from being a defender

  38. mickydidit89 says:

    so, Erik, why are we only 1-0 🙂

  39. Big Raddy says:

    Because we are not cohesive in defence and Elneny is not controlling his patch.

    Iwobi (MotM so far) and Curly are doing their best to be creative but we are lacking ingenuity.

  40. Big Raddy says:

    Playing no more than OK and winning. Happy so far

  41. Big Raddy says:

    Phew. Offside had me worried.

    Stewart Robson is one of the most annoying commentators of all. Do they employ him to wind us up?

  42. mickydidit89 says:


  43. Big Raddy says:

    Get in. Yet another scorer and a huge moment for Smith Rowe (Lab) following more fine work from Iwobi

  44. mickydidit89 says:

    Thanks for half time report Erik

  45. mickydidit89 says:

    Mesut and Laca
    Giving some of the good players a feel of the turf ahead of the final 🙂

  46. mickydidit89 says:


  47. Big Raddy says:

    How was Curly in the French Div 2? The man has a very promising future.

    As do AFC with Terrier, Iwobi, AMN, Holding, Curly, Hector, all young men

  48. mickydidit89 says:

    Agree Erik, staggering. I think he was on loan from PSG, but you’d still think he’d have been in a top division side

  49. mickydidit89 says:

    oopps danny

  50. mickydidit89 says:

    good work and nice to see new boys on the scoresheet

  51. Big Raddy says:

    Curly, Leno and Iwobi were excellent this evening.

    8 wins on the spin.

    Happy Days.

  52. chas says:

    Didn’t see the first half – did I miss owt?

  53. chas says:

  54. chas says:

  55. chas says:

    3 goalscoring virgins in one game! – must be a first.

  56. LBG says:

    A question/comment required for/from those who saw the game. Radio commentary suggested that the first half performance defensively was a black mark for three at the back. CarrierBag got behind Wardrobe, who we know is not quick, and if more clinical, could have made this a very different final score. What do viewers think?
    Also further suggestion that play was pulled towards left without Terrier. We MUST get a right /left balance consistently before we play decent teams in both this competition and the Premier League IMO.

  57. LB says:

    I have been out of the loop, who is Wardrobe and why?

  58. LBG says:

    LB, the Wardrobe is Kolasinac.
    Recommend to all, 14 mins of Freddie on Arsenal Media talking about the high and lows of his career at Arsenal.
    Upsetting Ryan Giggs by being in the same hotel when on holiday immediately after the 2006 Cup Final, and certainly his (and mine) most disappointing loss (witnessed by me), the Champions League Final in Paris.

  59. RC78 says:

    So from what I read –
    Iwobi had a great evening
    Kola and Leno put in a good performance as well
    Guendouzi and Smith-Rowe saved their performance with a goal

    The rest were ok

  60. mickydidit89 says:

    My conclusion having watched about 55 mins of the game:

    3-0 away is all you need, so result

    Apparently the starting XI of Leno, Lichtsteiner, Holding, Sokratis, Monreal. Guendouzi, Elneny, Smith Rowe, Iwobi, Kolasinac, Welbeck were a 3-5-2

    Please tell me who the other front 1 alongside Danny could have been out of that lot

    Then please tell me how Nacho and Koli play in the same midfield 5

    All in all, I think it’s a bloody miracle we won 🙂

  61. mickydidit89 says:

    Apols, correction, 3 at the back for the first half. Still 🙂

  62. chas says:

    Me, too, from what I saw.

    Maybe it is sustainable if we can win so easily while looking a bit shit.

    Some fairly good performances from individuals but team wise it was pretty fragmented.

    The whole evening was an experiment with good and bad bits but the result was bang on, so, overall a success but the experiment tells us little about the future.

  63. mickydidit89 says:

    Nope, learnt nothing, as did Unai I suspect 🙂

    Throw a bunch of strangers together in football boots stick ’em in a random pattern and win 3-0

    Best left to the history books


  64. chas says:

    Aaaaahhhh, so sweet.
    A dressing room to be feared.
    Good that they’re enjoying it.

  65. LB says:

    There is something in drafts. Please feel free to add to it or change if you wish. I am too tired to write any more.

    Enjoyed that, as did the squirrels I heard.

    Night, night

  66. LB says:

    Yeah, but why is he called Wardrobe?

  67. LBG says:

    Highlights seem to suggest Leno was pivotal, and Smith-Rowe looks more like a quick Ramsey with two feet every time I see him.

  68. LBG says:

    Sorry LB, because he’s built like a double wardrobe.
    Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.

  69. chas says:

    Thank you, you’re a star.

    BR put ‘Wardrobe’ in the post and it seemed fitting as he’s a big old unit that’s difficult to shift and fairly slow to erect – no more than that I suspect. 🙂

  70. chas says:


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