Into the Wolves’ Lair

According to legend the last wolf in Britain was slain in a remote region of the Scottish highlands in 1743.

The beast had supposedly killed a woman and her two children walking across a barren hill and the local Laird decided to raise a tainchel (a posse made up of hunters and clansmen) to track and kill the animal.

The tainchel could not leave without the Laird’s head stalker and tracker, one MacQueen of Pall a’ Chrocain, but when the appointed time came, and with dozens of heavily armed men with dogs waiting, MacQueen was nowhere to be seen.

After nearly an hour the Laird was furious with his chief stalker and resolved to set about the hunt without him. At that moment MacQueen came striding over the hill.

“Where hae ye been?” yelled the Laird. In reply MacQueen simply threw back his plaid cloak to reveal the severed head of the wolf, then explained what had happened: “As I came through the slochd (ravine) by east the hill there, I foregathered wi’ the beast. My long dog there turned him. I bucked wi’ him, and dirkit him, and syne whuttled his craig (cut his throat), and brought awa’ his countenance for fear he might come alive again, for they are very precarious creatures.”

Well, it seems there are still wolves in Britain in this day and age, they are still highly dangerous and today we go to ‘buck and dirk’ with them in their lair.

Who will be our MacQueen?

You have to give credit to Wolves. They have had a good season under a manager who seems to have both passion and a plan. They will be a tough challenge.

But enough about them. We are entering this fray with some green shoots of renewal finally growing under our feet after our disappointing post-lockdown start.

I happen to feel that the enforced separation of the squad during the lockdown affected us more than most teams in the Premier League. Mikel Arteta, let’s be honest, inherited a complete sh*t show when he took the helm at Arsenal.

Before the pandemic hit you got the sense he was beginning to get more out of the players and that they were starting to buy into his vision.

The enforced break allowed all that good work to dissipate and when we tried to hit the reset button against Manchester City and then Brighton the wheels fell off. 

Somehow or other Arteta got us functioning again and three wins on the trot are grounds for optimisim.  Meanwhile the mood music around the club has become much sweeter this week with the news that Saka and Martinelli – our brightest young prospects – have signed new long term deals. There are even strong rumours that Aubameyang is ready to commit his future to N5.

To cap things off, the Spuds crashed and burned in midweek and now sit behind us in the table after an equal number of games.

My glass is usually half full so I expect nothing less then a win today.

Here’s my projected starting 11:


Bellerin – Mustafi – Luiz – Kolasinac – Tierney

Xhaka – Ceballos

Saka – Nketieh – Aubameyang

Who will be our MacQueen? After their heroics in midweek I’m tempted to say either Ceballos or Aubameyang, but I think today could be Saka’s day if he starts.

Time to slay some Wolves.



50 Responses to Into the Wolves’ Lair

  1. LBG says:

    Thanks Rocky. Terrific tale.
    Do hope you are wrong with your defensive selection. No Kolasinac or Bellerin for me. Holding and Soares to replace would be my choice.
    I also hope Torreira starts for first 60mins with Dani alongside him and Saka and Aubang behind and slightly wide of Eddie. Compete in the middle and stop the through balls.

  2. fred1266 says:

    Smith Rowe on the bench again for huddersfield

  3. RC78 says:

    Thanks Rocky for this great post and pre-match…

    I think we may see Soares at RWB and Pepe up front so I d see and there is a question mark on the central defense with Mustafi/Luiz/Holding and their availabilities so here is my line-up

    Marti – Mustafi, Holding, Kola – Soares, Ceba, Xhaka, Tierney – Pepe, Auba, Saka

    Bench: Bello, Luiz, Torreira, AMN, Nelson, Willock, Laca, Nketiah

    Wolves are a dangerous team with Patricio, Boly, Neves, Moutinho, Jota, Traore and Jigemenez as their key players but there is also some talent in Vinagre and Dedoncker. They tend to play in a 352 and I think that if Soares, Pepe, Xhaka, Luiz, Saka, Tiereney have a good game, we can actually win it. I can see us snatch a 1-2 win with Nketiah or Laca scoring from the bench to deliver the 3 points.


  4. Aaron says:

    Thank you for the surprising post, quite fitting actually.

    That team is rolling, but the Arsenal can get one over on them.

    No ozil, luiz, xhaka, kola and mustafi together as it is a death knell.

    Mikel will set up the team to the best he can and maybe we can push them around enough to eek out a win.

  5. RockyLives says:

    10 out of 11 – pretty good for me.

    Soares instead of Bellerin, but otherwise the team is as predicted.

  6. Aaron says:

    Wanted Pepe on the right, but he is out for the birth of his child, as it should be!

    No guen or ozil, guess we all know who is in charge!

    Lets get this scrap going.

  7. LB says:

    A Rocky read, always good.

    And 10 out of 11 impressive.

  8. Paul says:

    Nice one!

  9. RA says:

    Martinez, Mustafi, Luiz, Kolasinac, Soares, Ceballos, Xhaka, Tierney, Saka, Nketiah, Aubameyang

    Subs: Macey, Bellerin, Holding, Sokratis, Maitland-Niles, Torreira, Willock, Nelson, Lacazette.

  10. RA says:

    Hi Rocky,

    An excellent Post — so no surprise there — thank you.

  11. Rasp says:

    Thanks Rocky, great PM, humour is the way ahead for the rest of the season. Let’s hope they’re sheep in wolf’s clothing today … but that ain’t gonna happen is it. I’m all for winning ugly with some brief moments of genius if possible.

    Since they’re 6 points ahead of us a win is important if we want to be guaranteed European football next season.

  12. RA says:

    That team does not get any better from staring at it.

    5 good players – 6 – should not be there.

    Not happy.

  13. RA says:


    In recent times I often see the glass as half empty — so I see nothing but a loss. 🤪

    We will have to see who’s half “wins” — well that made me smile!!

  14. LBG says:

    Mustafi and Kola are unable to pass constructively forward. Restricts everything from the back three to Luiz’s efforts.

  15. Rasp says:

    Saka seems a little off the pace at the moment ….

  16. RockyLives says:

    Readers – does that make it a game of two halves? 😀

  17. RockyLives says:

    Cedric and Saka not on the same wavelength at the moment. Hardly surprising given they haven’t started a game together before.

  18. Rasp says:

    Hi Rocky, I’d like to see Saka taking on the defenders a little more often

  19. RockyLives says:

    I think he will Rasp, especially as he and Ced get more used to each other

  20. RA says:


    That would be a bit sneaky of you — switching a half-empty glass for a game with two halves — fortunately I spotted your sleight of hand!! 😜

    Another possibility is that our tactic seems to be to bore the asses of those manky wolves by relentless kicking back towards our goals.

    Might work – then we might get a draw and prove us both wrong. 🥺

  21. LBG says:

    Why is Saka playing on the right, Rasp?

  22. LBG says:

    So will David Luiz still be on the pitch at 90 mins?

  23. RA says:

    How much did we pay for Cedric?

    If he was a free – released by S/Hampton – he cost too much.

    Wouldn’t mind their Traore.

    Good effort by Eddie – not that I’m being positive!! 🤪

  24. RA says:

    That seems doubtful, LBG, but then we have other slow-coaches too – like Xhaka — who cannot even get within yards of Traore.

  25. LBG says:

    First dynamic pass from midfield to front line. Goal.

  26. RockyLives says:

    Exactly LBG.

    Nice goal all round.

  27. Rasp says:

    I told you Saka was struggling 😂 … great composed finish

  28. Sue says:

    Wolves hadn’t conceded a goal in 405 minutes… then we come to town 😉

    Nice read, Rocky

  29. RC78 says:

    Nketiah is having a decent first half. Main issue is really Xhaka-Ceballos is very static – needs a bit more dynamism. Mustafi had a very poor start but got better, same as Luiz.

    I think if we get more dynamism from Ceballos and a bit more inciseveness from Tierney and Soares, we can maybe score another one and snatch the game away.

    Jimenez and Traore are having a good game for the Wolves.

  30. Aaron says:

    Good game so far, Arteta has set the team up well and have neutralized the wolves. Actually, could be up by more than one goal.

    Solid cross field pass by Mustafi, Auba knew where to put it and Tierney will a possible handball deflection to Saka with a smoking volley finish! Woohoo…

    Team playing as well as possible, little teething problems with Saka and Soares, but to be expected as mentioned previously. They just need a chat to figure out were to go with each other.

    Finally, Kola with a dribble forward and a pass, and forced the opposition to actually come and face hime. Takes pressure off our other players and makes the left hand side so much more dangerous.

    Really positive start..

    Keep the momentum going as you know there will be changes from the other side, but Arteta is intelligent enough to have our team counter.

  31. RockyLives says:

    We’re letting them come on to us too much. Need some hold up play in MF and up front. Time for Laca?

  32. LBG says:

    Michael Oliver, two wrong decisions. When will we get the rub of the green from the blind d b******* in black?

  33. RA says:

    Oliver is rapidly becoming a ‘dubious’ referee.

    Eddie is being continuously pushed, pulled and tripped, but the ref sees nothing – or chooses not to.

    It seems Belli is coming on — cooer Mrs — fast attacking against him could be problematic.

  34. RockyLives says:

    You’re right – Oliver is giving us nothing.

  35. RockyLives says:

    Wonder if there’s some tired legs. We’re getting a bit sloppy

  36. fred1266 says:

    Nice substitution by arteta but wonder how come he didn’t bring on Nelson

  37. Aaron says:

    Damn fine Win!

  38. Rasp says:

    Excellent result, top work by Mikel again … we’re back on the mix … and other teams will stop seeing us as a pushover

  39. LBG says:

    A bit of grit and determination evident. Well done Gunners. Wolves under par but solid three points. Now for Vardy and Co.

  40. RA says:

    I’m thinking of crowd funding to raise £10 for studs for the team.

    We seem to find standing up too difficult.

    By the way, Rocky, I hope you admire my sophistry in claiming we would lose today? Too much optimism has to be balanced by a comparable amount of negativism, even if the argument was a little disingenuous!! 😜

  41. fatgingergooner says:


    All I’ve got to say really.

  42. RockyLives says:


    Fourth of July fireworks from the boys.

    Well done Redders – you can be the Yin to my Yang, or the Ying to my Yingtongdiddleeyepo or whatever.

    Mikel showed excellent game management there.

  43. RockyLives says:

    By the way, I noticed the studs thing too. The number of times our boys slipped at crucial moments must have been in double figures.

  44. Las says:

    Saka Laca bumm bumm bumm

  45. Las says:

    Hi Rocky,
    It was not all firework but the team did well. We kept Wolves armlength let them only one or two chances all game. Well done. And finally, Saka-Laca were firing all cylinders. Bumm-Bumm
    Great game management what I haven’t seen for ages.
    C’mon Arsenal

  46. RC78 says:

    Here are my top players for today in no particular order:
    Martinez, Nketiah, Saka, AMN, Auba, Laca

    Here are the players that were a bit off:
    Mustafi, Ceballos

    Here are the players that did OK:
    Soarez, Luiz, Kola, Tierney, Xhaka

    What I liked the most was how when we went up 2-0, we could have added a third goal but also that there was no sense of panic.

    Traore is a really good winger and would improve any teams.

    A good win, decent game management except the first 15 mins of both halves and a glimpse of hope for a European place.

    COYG! And I am liking this 3-4-3 set up more and more as even when one of the CB messes up, there is still some cover…

  47. RC78 says:

    Leicester, Tottenham, Liverpool, City, Villa and Watford…

    Quite a treat in terms of games for us until the end of the season -> I am happy with 12 points, which would take us to 61 points. I think it will be tough to finish top 5 but top 6 maybe…

  48. LB says:

    A few words in drafts should you need.

  49. RockyLives says:

    Looking forward to reading it LB.

    My son just sent this message: That was our first win away against someone higher than us in the league since 2015.

    Can that really be true?

    Holy crap.

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