Do AFC have the Cojones?

Two exciting and entertaining semi finals played earlier in the week, can we continue this fun?

To be honest, I know nothing about Valencia apart from what GN5 gave us on Tuesday, and I was really disappointed that they beat Villareal in the quarters, thus denying us the return of Santi. But the team sitting in 6th in La Liga are strong opposition.

Valencia have scored 40 goals in 35 La Liga games, hardly attacking prowess, they have conceded 32, and are 31 points behind the leaders, Barcelona having drawn almost half of their games. On paper this should be a home victory but we are short of players and form.


Ozil has to start, this is exactly the kind of game he thrives in – opponents who are unlikely to be over-physical and rely upon breaks.

It is vital we keep a clean sheet and you all know how likely that will be! Back 3 and one with experience – Kos, Sok and Nacho. Wardrobe and AMN, maybe an Iwobi , a Xhaka and the two upfront PEA/Laca. We still lack any width relying upon the wing-backs for crosses. Lacking attacking options on the bench means Eddie could get to play in a European semi final.

Emery knows both Valencia and the EL, will he choose to be less attacking in his team selection for the first leg, trying to ensure a clean sheet at home? If so, Terrier will come in for Iwobi, and possibly Mhki for PEA.

The Emirates needs to be noisy and get right behind the team. There will be tension and there will be occasions when Xhaka etc make mistakes but this is when the players need encouragement not the frustrated moans of the “supporters”. PLease, if you are lucky enough to attend, sing, shout, chant … roar. As usual we TV viewers will be in Peaches’ pocket making as much noise as possible.

Whatever happens I am hoping for an improved performance from our chaps; we have been awful recently and thrown away the chance of 3rd place. But we can win this tie – Valencia are simply not as good as Arsenal, we have better, more expensive players but do they have the cojones?

We shall see




83 Responses to Do AFC have the Cojones?

  1. Sue says:

    It’s match day!! 🙂 Come on Arsenal, let’s do this!
    For some strange reason, I believe we’ll be up for this… it’s kind of like now or never, last chance saloon! So come on Mesut….
    I’m looking forward to it (although I’m sure the nerves will kick in at 7pm 😂) COYG

  2. chas says:

    Cheers, BR.

    We definitely need to find a pair from somewhere.

    Maybe we’ve been saving ourselves just for this semi?

  3. RA says:

    Good Morning People,

    Thanks for the pre-Match, Raddy,

    The games that seem easily within our grasp appear as slippery as a bar of soap when the game starts.

    You are right to indicate we must be cautious.

    I too would like to see NKetiah and maybe a couple of other youngsters on the bench but I suppose the usual suspects will play.

  4. RA says:

    There are many things that happen in football that are perplexing, and I guess we (the fans) will never get to know the real reasons behind them.

    For example, I have never understood why a player we bought to put steel into the defence, and after his confrontations with Costa Coffee seemed to prove he was up to it.

    Then we sold him to Valencia for peanuts.

    Why? Does anyone on AA know why? — we could really have used someone like him in recent times.

    Who am I talking about? You will already know — it is the gritty Gabriel.

  5. GoonerB says:

    Thanks Raddy. Not sure it is about cojones so much although I think attitude to some degree comes into it, possibly more in a winning attitude way.

    More so I believe we only have one effective system we can play right now and even in that system we can’t change too many players in one go from what is our strongest 11. In the summer with a bit of jiggling we may have more adaptability in the squad and line ups.

    It has to be a back 3 with wing backs and a front 2. 2 deeper CM’s and Ozil in a free role. Your back 3 looks the best and we don’t have many quality options available should one of them get injured so fingers crossed. Ditto the wing backs. After Xhaka and Terrier we have back up in Gouzi and Elneny and after Ozil we have Micki or iwobi. Nketieh can be 3rd striker option.

    get on the front foot and go for them


  6. GunnerN5 says:

    Morning all,

    Thanks Raddy, I totally agree that the team need the crowd behind them tonight (3:00pm here) they have to stop their incessant moaning and groaning – ie. support your team.

    We can win and should win but doubt always creeps in as we never known which version of our team will show up.

    But I will have a few bottles of Australian red wine and a bottle of 25 year old The Macallan in reserve – for a special occasion – I hope there is a need to crack it open.

  7. GunnerN5 says:

    Hi Sue,

    Yes I have played darts but I stopped playing competitive darts about a decade ago.

    I played in the Toronto Premier League and also played for the Metropolitan Police in Toronto, they gave out a map of where all the alcohol/drug spot checks were for the week, it proved to be very handy.

    My son threw a perfect game in youth darts when he was 13 – it was a straight in double out game of 301, he shot 180, 60, 11, bulls eye. We played in cash tournaments all over Ontario and the Eastern US – we never won a fortune but the winnings more than covered our expenses. I ran a youth darts group for many years.

  8. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers Raddinski 🙂

    Ozil will need support from Xhaka or Torreira if all three in midfield. Wonder whether Emery will play only one of Xhaka and Torreira and play two in the hole. Cech, AMN, Koz, Sok, Kola, Xhaka, Mesut, Mkhi (Iwobi), Iwobi, Auba, Laca? Whoever plays, it will be about intensity, tempo, focus and finishing. Should be a good European night of football…. if that is possible on a Spursday?! COTA.

    Happy (what would have been) 52nd birthday, Rocky. 🙂

  9. GoonerB says:

    Interesting what you said there TA because next year I would like to see Torreira play in more a box to box DM position a bit like Kante, i.e more DM than say Ozil but more freedom than a holding midfielder. I feel we still need another proper holding midfielder to allow this and Xhaka isn’t that. He would become more of a decent squad option for me next year, not 1st 11.

    As of today I think we need to start with Xhaka and Torreira both being more disciplined until we have those other options in the squad.

  10. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi GB

    I am a big Xhaka fan and do actually like the idea that he is coupled with a DM type like Torreira. But that deeper style of play does not seem to be what Emery wants… He prefers a Ramsey box to box option (like you, I think). All good with me too but we don’t have that sort of player right now.

  11. VP of Oz says:


    Thanks for the great prematch BR

    GN5 I think I watched a movie about your life traveling around playing darts. I think it starred a couple of guys called Paul and Tom

  12. Sue says:

    Hi GN5.. sounds like you (& your son!) were pretty good then!
    You sure have covered some ground playing! I only play in my local league, only has 6 teams in it, but it’s a good laugh… we’re not as competitive as the men are (well actually i am a little bit 😂)
    It’s huge these days & I love watching it (whether it’s live or on the TV) we also have a club here, that run a lot of exhibitions, so have been fortunate enough to meet a lot of players… just not Gerwyn Price yet (damn!!)

    I hope you get to crack that bottle open later 🤞

  13. GoonerB says:

    I quite like Xhaka TA and he has some obvious skills, particularly his passing range, but I am not sure what type of player he is and what his best role is. The problem for me TA is that I feel he falls short in at least one area for each CM role.

    He isn’t quite a holding midfielder. He gets stuck in but isn’t the best clean tackler around, doesn’t quite have enough pace and mobility and can get closed down more easily and then throw a stray pass in dangerous areas.

    When he plays the deeper role he needs more help than other holding midfielders out there, which for me unnecessarily ties up one of our other CM’s too much

    I don’t feel he is an attacking CM either although he does have a good shot on him when he gets closer to the box.

    Is he a box to box? Again I don’t feel he has the required mobility for that. Having seen Torreira, he seems to have that blend of defensive duty and tackling but also looks more mobile and can slip away from tackles. He has also shown that he can make that late burst into the box at times, so I would be focusing more on what we need to get more out of him.

    Xhaka falls into that category I had with Giroud. Should be retained at the club as an excellent squad option but isn’t 1st 11 material if we are strengthening and recruiting correctly.

  14. GunnerN5 says:

    Sue, Gerwin Price is perhaps the most disliked pro dart player ever, his is a total jerk with his antics and gets away with it too often – the match Referee should step in and caution him.

    I’ve met many of professional the players, my son was selected to play against Eric Bristow at an exhibition in Toronto —–needless to say my son, 14 at the time, lost.

  15. TotalArsenal says:


    If you look at Xhaka’s talents rather than his apparent deficiencies, you know why he is so influential both at Arsenal and for the Swiss national team:
    * He has great overview and gives clear structure to our game
    * He is a sharp passer and often is able to dictate the tempo
    * He positions well and reads the game well
    * He has a great long range pass and shot on goal
    * He is decent in the air
    * He has leader potential

    Granit reminds me a bit of Ronald Koeman. No the fastest but he had a clear picture in front of him and was a fine passer – long and short range – and had a fab shot. I expect Granit to end up in defence too eventually.

    After Mesut, Granit is my second man on the team sheet. To get the best out of him I would play Torreira next to him, Ozil in the hole and then two quality mid-wingers to complete the picture. Iwobi is still developing, Mkhi should really suit this but lacks the energy/consistency to do this role well. Welbeck is an option when fit again, but Auba is too limited a footballer for such a role (should become our supersub instead). I think we are struggling right now because of the lack of quality in the midwinger positions and we are missing Hector’s ability to provide extra width and penetration from the right (and the limitations in defence).

    In a nutshell, Xhaka is our conductor from deep midfield and we need to build on this.

  16. fred1266 says:

    Am nervous especially what happened in lasting years semis

  17. Big Raddy says:

    Seen on twitter today…

    “The only challenge left for Messi now is to win a league title in a team with Mustafi in it” 😀

  18. Sue says:

    Yes I agree, GN5.. Price isn’t flavour of the month.. but I think darts needs someone like him (especially with those muscles!!)
    Eric was a nice fella & put on a great exhibition… I met Wayne Mardle recently, I found out he was a spud.. so I had to wear an Arsenal top (with Ozil on the back!) He was trying to be funny over the Mic in front of all the men there, taking the mickey out of me (& Ozil) ..I said well I know one thing, he said what’s that? I said he only plays for world class teams, so he would never have gone to shite hart lane.. haha that shut him up!!

  19. Big Raddy says:

    European semi-final night and we are talking darts? And where is everyone – have we already given up on AFC?

  20. LB says:

    There is half a dozen behind my sofa…..

  21. RA says:

    Hi GB,

    I cannot disagree with your comments regarding Xhaka.

  22. RA says:

    I haven’t given up on Arsenal, BR — but I am not sure of the outcome.

    Very quiet today, but better to learn about darts from Sue and GN5 than face a blank screen. 🤪

  23. John Mathews legend says:

    Seeing as to how BR asks ‘Where is everbody?’ I thought I’d get my little sixpence in (ooh er missus) Don’t really know what to say though…..
    Er…..Ozil needs to play a blinder, as do Alias Smith and Cojones…

  24. Sue says:

    Why am I so nervous?! Oh because Mustafi is playing

  25. Sue says:

    Glad Ozil, Laca & Auba start… why no Torreira??

  26. chas says:

  27. Big Raddy says:

    No Iwobi and Douzi in place of Terrier?

    I feel positive about tonight

  28. Sue says:

    The only thing that worries me is Mustafi… and as much as I like him (& not just because of his hair) – Guendouzi…
    Other than that, I’m happy. Now come on Mesut 😍

  29. fatgingergooner says:

    Mustafi and Geundouzi? Not excited about that. Would feel more confident with Monreal and Torreira in the side but I guess they are not quite 100%. Hopefully Xhaka has a good game and we can get Özil and Lacazette running at their back 3. I’m expecting a big performance tonight and hopefully the fans get the players going early and we can press high and dominate the first 10 minutes and grab a goal. No penalties conceded and no stupid sending offs please!

  30. John Mathews legend says:

    Saw the line up.
    I think this calls for drastic action….
    Anyone else a musician here?
    Normally saved for events such as job interviews* the next day etc.
    Gonna plug my old Telecaster (copy) in to an even older Marshall amp**. Tuned in open G (like Keef, but I use all 6 strings, the bottom E tuned down to D)
    Blast straight in to the opening riff of ‘Down down’ by the Quo***.
    If it sounds straight away like the hound’s goolies Rock and f’ckn’ Roll……we will win!
    * Out of work at the mo, so the practice might be useful in the future.
    ** At least the neighbours will know I’m still alive.
    ***Not really a Quo fan, but THAT riff…

  31. TotalArsenal says:

    We are going to attack and push Valencia back into their own half with that formation. Xhaka to sit a bit deeper alongside the CBs at times and Guendouzi to be the B2B. The boy cannot defend but he is good at carrying the ball towards attack and that is what Emery will have asked him to do tonight. Really need the wingbacks to bomb forward and be incisive constantly. Come on The Arsenal!

  32. John Mathews legend says:

    ps; A neighbour came round with a couple of beers and said ‘Good luck for the job tomorrow’

  33. GoonerB says:

    Hmmm. I think I echo FGG’s thoughts. Still the formation seems right but there are mistakes in all of Mustaffi, Xhaka and Guendouzi. Not so much in Monreal or Torreira.

  34. Big Raddy says:

    John. That is strange. All this week I have been playing about with the open G tuning. Mastered Honky Tonk but I play acoustics.

    right …. COYRRG

  35. fatgingergooner says:

    Don’t like Guendouzi in a 2. Goes too wide for my liking and then his partner gets pulled over to the sides to try and cover his space which leaves the switch of play and our central areas wide open. That counter was a prime example with their player running at back 3 down the middle of the field.

    Atmosphere seems poor. Those 3 defeats have really knocked the fans confidence in the team by the sounds of it.

  36. Big Raddy says:

    Can someone tell our team that we are playing in the red and white shirts? Our passing has been dreadful

  37. fatgingergooner says:

    No atmosphere, no sense of occasion, awful defending. What’s happened to us?

  38. Big Raddy says:

    Awful defending. Conceding from a set play is not what Mr Emery will be happy with

  39. fatgingergooner says:

    We miss Ramsey so much. His drive and effort lifts everyone. We’ve been dreadful since his injury. WTF is AMN doing?

  40. Sue says:

    Wakey wakey Arsenal… bloody hell

  41. fatgingergooner says:

    Lift off! COME ON!!!!!

  42. Sue says:

    Laca 😍 beautiful!!

  43. Big Raddy says:

    Oooh Laca. You are class

  44. fatgingergooner says:

    Xhaka having a shocker so far! We need another quickly to really the crowd and team going.

  45. Sue says:

    Frankfurt… come on!!!

  46. fatgingergooner says:

    Chelsea losing

  47. fatgingergooner says:

    Geundouzi just running out of midfield and getting played around.


  48. Sue says:


  49. fatgingergooner says:

    Dreadful and 2-1 up. I’ll take that! Let’s get some more!

  50. Big Raddy says:

    And again. Get in….

  51. fatgingergooner says:

    Mustafi been good so far. Lacazette having a blinder

  52. fatgingergooner says:

    Another before half time please!!!

  53. fatgingergooner says:

    Mustafi not so good since I said he was doing well! 😂🤦🏼‍♂️ I do like the way he’s stepping g into the gaps in midfield though and helping Geundouzi and Xhaka stop the counters.

  54. Aaron says:

    Will take an ugly win today. 3-1 or 4-1 would probably be enough.

  55. fatgingergooner says:

    An ugly 4-1! 😂😂😂

  56. fatgingergooner says:

    Joking aside we do need another

  57. fatgingergooner says:

    I’d bring Torreira on for Guendouzi. I do like the young Frenchman (Lady) but he’s very naive (shite) defensively. I’d like to see us control the counters a little bit better and really camp in their half (smash their teeth in and score 5 more goals).

  58. Sue says:

    Another 2 goals will do nicely, come on Laca get your hat trick!
    Have to say – well done for coming back, going 1 down so early had me worried!!

  59. Big Raddy says:

    That we do FGG.

    Only half the team are playing to anywhere near their potential. As was said earlier, we really miss Ramsey.

    Douzi is all over the shop and Xhaka is not really helping him. Wardrobe & AMN’s passing has been awful

    Thank goodness for Lacazette who is head and shoulders our MotM.

  60. John Mathews legend says:

    BR, strange indeed……
    Been playing more acoustic than electric recently, but need the amps for the big occasions!
    If you have a guitar handy, a half time ‘Jean Jenie’ in normal tuning (simultaneously played in Denmark and France) should see us score another two!
    it goes ‘boom boom boom banana’ (E, E, E, E A, open)*
    * Copyright: JML school of Rock’n’Roll

  61. Big Raddy says:

    Crowd are very quiet. Surprising considering the importance of the game

  62. Big Raddy says:

    John. My half time strum was Walking in a Bergkamp Wonderland! E, loads of B and a little A.

  63. Big Raddy says:

    FGG called the first change.

  64. fatgingergooner says:


    Nervous I think. We’ve been poor to be honest. Lacked any real drive that would get the crowd excited. Maybe Torreira can deliver something to get the crowd going. We just seem to be coasting a little.

  65. fatgingergooner says:

    These are the signs of tiredness I was talking about recently. We had the ball going forward and running at their back line and there is so little movement.

  66. fatgingergooner says:

    Iwobi will be on soon I think. Maybe offer some drive and direct running. Not sure who he would bring off though. Dare he take Özil off this early?

  67. fatgingergooner says:


  68. fatgingergooner says:

    Need to freshen this up

  69. fatgingergooner says:

    Another Arsenal goal wins is the tie. If it stays like this it’s 50/50

  70. Sue says:

    Big shout out to Koscielny (his 350th appearance tonight) 👏

  71. Sue says:

    Yo Pierre 😎

  72. fatgingergooner says:


  73. Sue says:

    Phew!! Well done AFC..😁

  74. fatgingergooner says:


    You can question the quality of this side but the effort can no longer be frowned upon like it was last season. Fantastic result and an average performance! 😂

  75. Sue says:

    We are soooo close to being in the final!! 😍

    Ooh to
    Ooh to be
    Ooh to be a gooner!

  76. John Mathews legend says:

    Woulda been 4-1 if Big R played the right tune at HT…strumming indeed….Chunky RnR riffs all day
    Well done the lads!
    Auba gets the Mick Ronson goal at the death!

  77. fatgingergooner says:

    I called Iwobi for Özil but it was Mkhy who came on and gave us the direct running. He tried and failed a couple of times to get at the Valencia defence but it was his energy that created the opportunity for Lacazette to shoot and from the rebound we got the goal.

    I also thought Torreira was excellent when he came on. The difference between him and Geundouzi defensively is miles apart. When Torreira closes someone down he forces them backwards and is in the right positions to intercept if the ball goes forward, but Geundouzi just doesn’t have that ability and gets dragged into positions he shouldn’t be in. I expect Geundouzi to be a fantastic player and it’s all part of the learning curve, but at the moment Torreira is the man to control our midfield for the next few years. He barely missed a game for Sampdoria in 2 years which would maybe explain his fatigue and the reason he’s missed chunks of the season, but hopefully he can get back to full fitness and show just how good he is.

  78. LBG says:

    Good result from a poor performance.
    Thank God for the goalscorers, because creativity to break down a poor team was missing. Hope they dont score first in second leg.

  79. Aaron says:

    Guess this Arsenal team has a Cajone, and will get the plural aspect once they finish the deed away!

  80. allezkev says:

    Quite a tense atmosphere at the stadium, maybe a hangover from 12 months ago, everyone seemed a bit nervous, I know I was…
    4-1 would have been great, 2-1 wasn’t enough but 3-1 should be just enough, but we may need to do what we’ve failed to do on two previous visits and score in the Mestalla.

    Despite a couple of careless moments I thought that overall Mustafi had a good game and Lacazette was excellent, whilst Maitland Niles did well after a nervous start.

    Everyone was smiling broadly at the end of the game, let’s hope we’re all smiling in a weeks time…

  81. chas says:

    On this day 19 years ago…….

  82. chas says:


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