Arsenal v Vitoria pre-match

Good morning Gooners.

Although some find themselves in the midst of doom and gloom – Emery in Emery out, Xhaka in Xhaka out, Ozil in Ozil out – we have a game this afternoon in a competition that thus far has brought some much needed fun – Martinelli’s headed goals and Pepe’s free kicks to name a couple of things. Plus we are top of our group with 9 points and have a goal difference of +8, what’s not to like.

This afternoon we are in Portugal for the return fixture against Vitoria. A fixture that has been arranged for 15.50 to make it easier on the local traffic 🙂 Europa games are not allowed to be played the same time as Champions League games so that’s why this game is in the afternoon.

The Europa league has given Emery the chance to play some of our young talent and I expect we’ll see the likes of Martinelli, Willock, Saka and possibly Nelson and Smith-Rowe too. Add to that we have the players returning from long term injuries Bellerin and Holding, possibly Tierney (although he played 80 minutes on Saturday).

Vitoria gave us a bit of a scare at the Emirates a couple of weeks ago by scoring two goals – but then everyone scores against us – and I expect their little spud reject Marcus Edwards will be up for making things difficult for us again.

How many Arsenal supporters will be able to watch the game? It’s an unknown isn’t it, so for those that do watch it, their thoughts and feelings will be important, something to remember when reading social media after the game.

I’m hoping we’ll see a similar team to the one that took to the Emirates pitch previously – something like this.


Bellerin  Mustafi  Holding  Tierney

Maitland-Niles  Torreira  Willock

Pepe  Martinelli  Smith-Rowe

As no-one will be watching they can just go for it and have some fun 🙂 good luck guys, win this one and the U18’s can play in the next rounds.



96 Responses to Arsenal v Vitoria pre-match

  1. Sue says:

    Thank you, Peaches!
    Crazy time for a game, but at least BT are showing it, plus no work for moi – perfect!
    I’ve no idea which Arsenal will turn up.. the only thing I’m certain of is.. Martinelli finding the back of the net! COYG

  2. Rasp says:

    Great work peaches, thank you.

    This game will be a welcome diversion and hopefully our youngsters will play with flair and freedom.

    Goodness knows what the atmosphere will be like in the dressing room for the Leicester game. It’s times like this that test the players and the management. We need to see a reaction and our lads can start the ball rolling with a committed performance today.

  3. RC78 says:

    Peaches – I think your line up is probably THE line-up for tonight with the only question marks being Tierney and ESR – they could well be replaced by Kola and Ozil or Saka.

    I am convinced Martinelli will score but the last game vs Vitoria was really tough and we conceded many dangerous situations and got bailed out by Pepe’s free kicks. I am not seeing a win tonight and would be satisfied with a draw…how low are my expectations 😦 ?

    Rumours surfacing that Xhaka will be allowed to leave in Jan. I am hoping for him to Italy, where I think he will do really well in a team like Lazio, Roma, AC Milan or even Fiorentina.

    Talking about Italy, L. Martinez and Lukaku are scoring for fun and Conte is already pissed off at his bosses…More from Italy, Dybala is not really for Juve and if he came to Arsenal, I think he would be sensational but we would pbbly then need to sell…Lacazette. Another good option but a bit out there is to get Mueller out of Munich and bring him in in January. I think he would play well with Pepe, Auba and even Laca…anyways…

  4. RA says:

    Very well analysed, Peaches, and good morning to you and All. 😁

    I hope you are correct and the team you are suggesting are given the licence to just get it done in the best and most entertaining way they can.

    I understand the KO time, now you have explained it — but why are we not stuck in the usual Spursday date?

  5. RA says:

    Well said, Rasper.

  6. RockyLives says:

    Morning all and thank you Peaches for an excellent pre-match.

    We made heavy weather of the first game against Vitoria but I expect our youngsters (with some experience sprinkled through the team) to give the Portuguese a good thrashing today.

    Sadly, one of the reasons I feel this is that we will be playing away from home and this may liberate the players.

    With growing dissatisfaction among home fans about the manager and the performances – and following on from the booing of Xhaka – I can well imagine that The Grove is a not a place where the players relish being right now.

  7. RA says:

    There are bound to be articles in the sports pages discussing the news that Xhaka has been relieved of the captaincy, and whether or not he will ever play for Arsenal again, or maybe he will play until the January transfer window etc, etc.

    As usual, things seems to have been conflated into what he actually said and did to the fans, with what Arsenal (Emery) should have done, and when, and then the unhappiness of some as to whether he is good enough for Arsenal.
    The two are actually quite separate issues, and should be dealt with separately.

    Taking a look at what happened from his, and the fans’ perspective, there are some key issues.

    Many of the fans are not happy with the way he plays, or the position he has been asked to fill, but that is a matter that needs to be resolved by the coach and the player, and is not unique to Granit.

    The second and more important matter is his relationship with both the coach and the fans.
    I understand that after the incident of the booing, he refused to go out and apologise to the fans for what he said, and the ripping off of his team shirt.

    Hot blood at the time might mitigate that, but he was very slow to apologise at all, and many felt the half-hearted way he eventually did so was pretty poor, because appearing to blame all Arsenal fans for the disgusting behaviour of a relative few on social media was a bad mistake.

    So, from his point of view, does he want to stay with Arsenal? Does the coach, already under pressure of losing his own job, want him to stay, or go? Do either of them have much option with the fans now riled up against both of them?

    The obvious progression is for Edu, the Director of Football to calmly take control away from Emery in dealing with Xhaka, and decide what is in the best interests of the club, the manager and the player, now that things are quietening down — a bit.

    Whatever Xhaka and the club decides to do, if he stays, it is going to be hard for him to win back the fans, and in the eyes of some, that is now impossible, but again it needs to be said that Xhaka is not unique in falling out with the fans, it happens at all clubs, from time to time, and sometimes things can change for the better, usually with a change of tactics, and perhaps the appointment of a new manager/coach, which is how the bad times can be overcome.

    But don’t hold your breath.

  8. LBG says:

    Thank Peaches for a positive post to lift our spirits. Personally, trying hard to convince myself of an interest factor in today’s game, but worried most about its influence on Saturday. They young ones need to shake off all thoughts of back home and go for broke.

    Shame, just at this moment, the idiot that is Bendtner has a book out and is still convinced of his ability and influence on our Club. A Danish Johnson!!

  9. RockyLives says:


    I’ve popped a Post in drafts for later in the week. It’s subject is not unrelated to Redders’ @10.33

  10. Rasp says:

    Thanks Rocky …

  11. RA says:

    Sorry, Rock-a-billy,

    My comments are usually an utterly spontaneous reaction to something I have heard or read — and are rubbish — the redeeming factor is they take very little time to type, as (bit of bragging here) my typing speeds have increased exponentially in line with the number of long winded comments I write.🥺

  12. GoonerB says:

    Thanks Peaches

    Hoping for a win with some great showings from a sprinkling of our youngsters, and realistically we need to rest key players for Leicester at the weekend. I like your team but also think I would play Ozil who needs match time. Also I would be looking at AMN and asking him to step up and prove he can be a real midfield enforcer who wins back possession, someone that protects our defence to a large degree. It is time for him to step up and make the manager really think.

    Rocky, maybe you are right about the atmosphere at home right now, although part of me doesn’t feel it has been at levels that makes the players play with fear right now. It has more been isolated moments rather than a permanently bad atmosphere; that may not last of course. I think it is maybe more that Emery just has a better understanding of playing against European sides so we perform better against them than EPL sides.

    Also Rocky I love you starting to use double negatives, it feels very poetic. From my end can I say that I am not unhappy that you are not not producing a post that is not unrelated to RA’s comment. There, said like a true Roman statesman 🙂

  13. Sue says:

    We won’t see Mesut this afternoon, he’s been left at home, just for a change 🤪

  14. GoonerB says:

    RA, I hope I am not stealing Rocky’s thunder with his post in having a little answer to your comment at 10.33. You are right in pointing out both ends of the argument here. I felt sorry for Xhaka really but then he hasn’t done himself any favours after the event.

    I think the heat of the moment reaction is more forgivable, given the circumstances, than the lack of any quick or apologetic response from him afterwards. You are right in pointing out that in his actions, or lack thereof, he has inadvertently tarnished all Arsenal fans rather than the few.

    The media love that kind of thing with us, and I have always felt that Arsenal fans have achieved an unfair reputation in recent years, with the focus on the few rather than the many, tarnishing everyone with the reputation of the actions of that few. If our club captain has helped fuel this rather than defuse it then it is not good form and I feel it will be hard to reclaim the faith of the fans.

    RA, when it comes to the midfield (in the more modern 3 man midfield), I feel that at the top end of the EPL you need 3 midfielders that are reasonably adept in all areas required of a midfielder, so that we are not too rigid in our play and they can combine fluidly, but that each should have a specific strength that compliments the other.

    I think one needs to be the deeper more positionally disciplined linchpin or holding midfielder. One needs to be a bit more box to box that can carry the ball through midfield and operate at either end, and the third is the creator and unlocker of defences with goal-scoring attributes.

    The thing with Xhaka is I do kind of feel for him in that he never came to us as a holding midfielder. He was always a deeper lying DM playmaker and distributor, who really requires that linchpin tucked in alongside / just behind him. Almost a bit Pirlo like really.

    The thing is that you then lose that box to box energy player, and I always suspected that Pirlo would not have thrived as well in the EPL as he did in Italy, despite all and sundry lauding him from the rafters. I wonder whether this is what we are seeing.

    However, there could always be games where you want 2 deeper lying DM’s in certain games and it may then be relevant, but then neither Douzi or Willock are suitable partners for Xhaka. Torreira is the closest, but even then I wonder whether he is a tad more box to box than positional linchpin.

  15. RA says:

    To whom it may concern, 🤪

    An idle thought has occasionally skittered across the wastes of my mind, leaving me with an itch which I want to scratch, or better still, to share with someone, anyone, who happens to be around.

    Not for me the expected social courtesy of keeping such idle thoughts to myself, or even to ask for the reader’s permission before launching forth, and trying to assuage the itchy blighter skipping unhindered through my minds eye.

    I guess therefore this is a kind of warning of what is to come, and no offence will be taken if one and all choose to skip over this inevitably lacklustre effort. (I’ll never know if anyone bothered to read this). 😳

    It came to me that Fat Frank (as he used to be unfairly known in his West Ham days) is making a very good fist of managing the Chavs, and it occurred to me that we had some wonderful players, particularly from The Invincibles era, who have either not bothered with a career in team management, or have attempted to do so, and fallen flat on their derrieres – so why have ex-Arsenal players who were rather better quality than Lampard, not succeeded.

    Maybe the reason Lamps has done so very well in his embryonic career is perhaps because he has close relatives, in the Redknaps, (an uncle and a cousin), for those who do not know, who have between them many years of experience in the top football division.
    I have no evidence that he has called on them to advise him, as he makes his way in his new career, but it seems quite possible, especially Uncle Harry who has been a pretty good manager in his own right.

    Why then have the ex-Arsenal players who were unsuccessful tyros in football management not explored ways to help each other by forming syndicates, for want of a better name, where they could pool their extensive experience, and help to establish successful careers for each of them.

    Arsenal could benefit hugely from the development of such a rich pool of successful managers with an Arsenal background from whom to choose.

    That feels better – the itch has hopped off, and perhaps Arsenal should include an ex-player or two to manage them in the future, should the need arise?

  16. allezkev says:

    Thanks for the post Peaches, I thought you was doing the Hokey Cokey. 🙂

    Vitoria need a win, so you’d think that they’d just have to go for it?
    Three at the back, wing backs, three up front, Martinelli and Pepe with space to run into? ESR is injured I think so Nelson left flank?

    A clean sheet would be amazing….

  17. RA says:

    That seems pretty clear to me GB, and you are very good at analysing the various permutations of strategies and player options.

    I do have an empathy with Xhaka, and I think you earlier said that he was forced into a position he was not suited to, and you are also now trying to think of back up of support players who may complement him, if he and the club want him to say. And I would not argue with that either.

    However, I am often far more prosaic in viewing the required abilities of footballers playing in the EPL, and more specifically for Arsenal ……… they must have pace.
    Xhaka’s biggest problem is that he never has had pace — and in the EPL, pace is king!!

    Your suggestion that foreign leagues might better suit Xhaka’s style of play is probably correct, and that could be the right solution for both Granit and the Arsenal fans with their continuing concerns about him.

  18. RA says:

    ‘say’ = ‘stay’

  19. RC78 says:

    How would you feel if Wenger was given a stint at Bayern Munich? The deal would be for him to work until June and then Bayern would get Ajax coach.

    Well if AW joined Bayern, I would be happy to see him back on a bench. He would have a real chance at winning the league and a decent chance at putting a challenge for the CL as well. How would he set up this Bayern side?

    Neuer – Kimmich, Javi Martinez, Lucas Hernandez, Alaba – Goretza, Tolisso, Thiago – Coutinho – Lewandowski, Gnabry (or Coman)


    Neuer – Pavard, Javi Martinez, Lucas Hernandez, Alaba – Kimmich, Tolisso, Thiago, Gnabry – Coutinho, Lewandowski

    Anyways, I d be happy for him

  20. RA says:

    Hi Kev, 😀

    Peaches is Queen of the Hokey Cokey — but we forgive her, even if we would prefer a Belly Dance — which I hear you are v. good at!!

  21. RA says:

    Me too, RC.

    AW would still show many other top managers a clean pair of heels!! 😜

  22. RC78 says:

    Granit would do really well in Italy and decently in France. He would really fit Lazio Roma and Marseille well, one must say also because of his character. I think that Granit is one that indeed needs a real DM next to him but one thing is sure is that he always gave his best. It is just that his best was not good enough…

    Now for today, if Ozil is at home and ESR is injured, RN or Saka will play. I think the team would do well to get an away win 🙂

  23. allezkev says:

    Hi Red, I don’t mind the odd belly dance, but I’m more of a tango man myself…. 😉

  24. Teams out ……

  25. Sue says:

    Bellerin’s benched for taking the mick out of Unai in the press conference -.starting with good ebening!!
    Holding, Mustafi & Sokratis at the back??

  26. RC78 says:

    Martinez – Mustafi, Holding, Sok – AMN, Willock, Ceba, Tierney – Pepe, Martinelli, Saka

    For a team that conceded so many chances at home, I am finding Emery’s selection odd but may be the result will be good

    Is smt wrong with Torreira?

  27. RC78 says:

    Anybody got a link to watch the game. It s not on hesgoal

  28. RC78 says:

    and it s now on hesgoal

  29. Rasp says:

    We are currently the EL’s top scorers with 10 goals (2 conceded)

  30. This grandma job is a bad business ……. Arsenal have competition with Toy Story 4 at the moment 🙄

  31. RC78 says:

    Toy Story 4 is the worse of the series. Very disappointing. Tell the kids to watch 2 or 3 – they will have more fun 🙂

  32. Sue says:

    Oh RC.. I haven’t seen it yet…….

  33. Sue says:

    How many grandchildren have you got, Peaches?

  34. RC78 says:

    @Sue – you can skip it. I took my daughter there as part of a school outing. She had a good time but she hadn’t seen the previous ones.

  35. RA says:

    Bah! Top Story 4 is not good, and I was going to get it!!

    Not that I have seen Series 1, 2, 3. 😛

  36. RC78 says:

    So far, Mustafi, Tierney, Willock, AMN and Pepe having a good game
    Ceba is totally subdued, Martinelli too

  37. RC78 says:

    saved by the post

  38. RA says:

    Great strike from Pepe (?) for Vittoria — Sok and Holding very bravely turned away from the shot!!

  39. Sue says:

    RC.. I’ll have to watch it, it’s the 😢

    Bloody hell, that was some shot 😳 Have we woken up yet???

  40. RC78 says:

    And now Mustafi-AMN starting to struggle…:-(
    Ceballos still nowhere to be seen, Saka either

  41. LBG says:

    When will the current team close opposition midfielders coming forward into the final third and block shots.

  42. RC78 says:

    Mustafi totally out of his depth…

  43. RockyLives says:

    Just started watching, 20 minutes in. How are we doing?

    I had a bet on 4-1 to the mighty Arse 😀

  44. RC78 says:

    I think Emery is again getting wrong. Willock-Ceba does not work…He needs to remove one of them or move Saka out and put Ceba further up. He needs Torreira or Douzi in or Chambers.

  45. LBG says:

    Maitland-Niles goes off to take off a chain. Simply, little evidence of discipline, where is the professionalism, the sense that they care deeply……..the absolute requirement of putting on the red and white shirt.

  46. Rasp says:

    The BBC stats report that so far we’ve had 64% possession, but they’ve had 6 shots to our zero … there is something worryingly familiar about this situation..

  47. Sue says:

    4-1, Rocky?! 😳 Oo-er!!

  48. RockyLives says:

    Just wait and see Sue…

  49. RockyLives says:

    Actually I’ve gone for 3-0 to Arsenal (just checked the betting slip). I was thinking of going 4-1 then decided we’d get a clean sheet!

  50. Aaron says:

    Everything going according to Emery’s plan.
    Concede possession, give up shots…, and??

  51. RockyLives says:

    …and then three quick goals either side of half time Aaron.

    Job done and £38 for me!

  52. RC78 says:

    Ceballos does not know how to defend on any set piece…just let him play where is really good, which is close to the strikers

    The game is so scrappy and boring

  53. RockyLives says:

    GoonerB @12.33 😀 😀

  54. RC78 says:

    I tell you what…Take Saka out. He is really not in it today, put Ceballos as a fake winger and bring in Chambers or DOuzi in the middle. We will have a decent chance

  55. Sue says:

    Well, RC.. my son has left our living room to go upstairs and play fifa online with his friends!! That shows how boring it is!!

    We’ll all keep our fingers crossed, so you win your £38 Rocky!! 😀

  56. RC78 says:

    Basically – nothing created. Best chances for Vitoria and:
    – Mustafi and Ceba struggling defensively
    – AMN and Tierney not offering much
    – Saka is missing
    – Martinelli and Pepe, trying to add some magic when they have the ball
    – Holding not so convincing
    – Best players so far for us: Martinez – Sok – Willock

    Change suggested: Saka out. Bring in Chambers or Douzi in the middle, move Ceba up.

  57. LBG says:

    Lethargic, underwhelming rubbish making a very average team look strong and confident as opposition. Do you want to win…..simply question.

  58. RockyLives says:

    Well, the 25 minutes I saw was pretty scrappy.

    We had some promising attacks but the final decision-making by our lads was poor.

    Nevertheless (and to keep GoonerB happy) I am not unhopeful.

    We’ll still win 3-0.

  59. RockyLives says:

    Oooh! Gilberto Silva is in the studio for the BT Sport half time chat (as well as Mad Martin Keown).

    I can hear Gilberto’s voice but I can’t see him – it’s just an empty chair. You never see the Invisible Wall…. UNTIL IT’S TOO LATE.

  60. RA says:

    Poor game!

  61. RockyLives says:

    You’re expressing sympathy for the game Redders? Very decent of you…

  62. RA says:

    I was just looking at the two grouse being prepared for my dinner, Rocky.

    I am not not looking forward to my meal tho.

  63. RockyLives says:


  64. LBG says:

    Mustafi and Saka off, Chambers in front of a back four, Lacazette up front

  65. RockyLives says:

    Three words that sum up this game for me: “Lack of quality.”

  66. Just sat down, sounds like we’ve been rubbish ……. three goals still to come Rocky 😁

  67. Weather there looks vile

  68. RockyLives says:

    I know some of our lads have played together before (I’ve seen them!) but by God, they don’t look as if they’ve ever met each other…

    The conditions are pretty bad but even so…

  69. LBG says:

    Dont bother Peaches…….go and watch the rest of the Toy Story films!!

  70. Aaron says:


  71. LBG says:

    “Lack of quality”
    Lack of drive, determination, care, motivation, professionalism, shots on target, leaders……..desire to really work hard for the team.

    Pissing down……sums it up.

  72. It’s no laughing matter I know but if I’d published my original pre-match for today you’d understand why I’m chuckling to myself. Tried so hard to lift the spirits but when the team play like strangers it’s almost a waste of time 😦

  73. RA says:


    Just to clarify, I never was, nor never will be not unhappy watching this pseudo non-football, even tho it never was not difficult playing in the rain.

    That should cover it.

  74. RockyLives says:

    There’s the first 🙂

  75. Mustafi 😁😁😁 my favourite centre back 😁😁😁

  76. LBG says:

    You couldn’t write it……”Mustafi brings some sunshine to Emery!

  77. Time for two more Rocky

  78. RA says:

    Mustafi is my hero!! 😀

  79. RockyLives says:

    Cracking header by the much maligned Mr Mustafi.

  80. RC78 says:

    Mustafi goal and Pepe’s assist…set pieces coming to the rescue

  81. RockyLives says:

    Maybe a couple of late free kicks from Pepe…

  82. Aaron says:

    Can the Arsenal hold onto their 1 shot and goal lead?

  83. LBG says:

    Tactics worked again, Dick……any chance we can hold a lead, sir?

  84. Aaron says:

    And the resounding answer? See above….

  85. RC78 says:

    Our defending has to be the worse in the last 5 years…

    Two missed tackles in the middle, all CBs miss the ball while not marking anyone / or closing on anyone. Holding at fault. Great finish though

  86. RC78 says:

    Vitoria going for the kill…Our team just panicks defensively.

  87. I blame the commentator, he mentioned ‘clean sheet’ never gonna happen 😦

  88. RockyLives says:

    Another nail in the coffin for poor old Unai…

  89. RockyLives says:

    …who does look a bit like Dracula at times.

  90. RockyLives says:

    One attempt on target all night for Arsenal!


  91. If someone wants to do some player ratings and a few words I’ll put them up this evening ……

  92. Rasp says:

    There is a massive disconnect between our defence and our midfield, our midfield and our strikers, our manager and the players.

    It was never just down to Mustafi or Xhaka, or the quality of the players in general. There is a lack of creativity, belief and fight/urgency/steel.

    There is no leadership on the pitch and no leadership in the dugout.

  93. LBG says:

    Leicester v Arsenal


  94. I’ve put up RC’s comment as a post ………… not sure we need to dwell on this one for too long

    New Post ……….

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