It’s back to FA Cup action today as we play Saints away in the early kick-off (12.15pm).
The irony with a game like this is that just as Mikel Arteta has got the closest to knowing his first choice 11 since taking over from Unai Emery, today is not a day to play them all.
Not that El Patron won’t want to win. As you know, my view is they should rename the trophy the AFC Cup because it’s OURS, and Arteta has won it as both a player and a manager at Arsenal. He will be desperate to triumph today.
But our league campaign is also vital and we are due to play the same opposition in the EPL on Tuesday night, so there will need to be rotation for today’s game.
Southampton are a decent team and we have struggled on recent trips to their ground on the south coast, so I fully expect this to be a close one.
The main team news is that we have signed a new back-up ‘keeper from Brighton – Matt Ryan, an Aussie who has supported Arsenal since he was a young lad and says he used to get up at 4am to watch our games. I have no idea how good he is but if he starts or is on the bench today it probably means bad news for Alex Runarrson.
I feel some sympathy for Runarrson. He had one game and made a couple of howlers, but football is a brutal sport at the top level.
You would expect our back-up goalie to get a run out in a cup game, but this may be just a bit too soon for Ryan so I expect to see Leno between the sticks.
There are strong rumours that Norwegian playmaker Martin Odegaard will be arriving on loan from Real Madrid. I don’t follow much European football so I can’t tell you much about him except that my son is very excited and describes him as “Ozil with extra work effort.”
Injury wise, Mari won’t be available but is due back in training next week and Dani Ceballos is being assessed before today’s game but is probably available.
With rotation in mind, here’s my predicted starting line-up.
Cedric – Holding – Gabriel – Tierney
Elneny – Ceballos
Pepe – Lacazette – Aubameyang
Let’s win in the normal 90 and power on to the Fifth Round.
Come on You Gunners.
I’ve just seen the post you put in drafts – great stuff. If it’s OK with you I’ll put it up on Monday as tomorrow will be a match report.
I always like playing the game of guess Mikel’s team and today is a particularly interesting one.
AMN, Holding, Gabriel, Soares
Willian, Aubamayang, Martinelli
I think Arteta will want to experiment with Aubamayang and Martinelli overlapping each other. I also think that he needs to know if Soares can cover at LB.
I can’t find a place for Pepe as I think Arteta is determined to make Willian work and at one point he is going score and it should be interesting to see how this changes peoples minds — or not?
A very viable looking team given the circs.
Apparently we might be in for Saints LB Ryan Bertrand.
He’s a decent player, so I can’t see why he would want to join a club where he will be an understudy to KT.
I reckon we’ll cut our losses on Pepe in the summer.
Thanks Rocky, I haven’t got a scooby which 11 Mikel will pick. Ideally we’d start with a strong side, score three in the first half and then sub key players in the second, but we don’t often get off to an early lead these days so your team is as good a guess as any. I’d like to see Balogun on the bench but that won’t happen because he played yesterday… and scored a hat trick
Clever, giving ESR a complete rest.
That’s belt and braces on the goalkeeping front Mikel
Leno has become a very important player.
Unlucky goal. Leno has it covered without the deflection.
So much for scoring 1st.
Can Willian dribble forward? Serious question….As soon I I wrote this he did, sort of…
Looks like a team who have not played together much, as expected.
Giving the ball away far too often, still the problem with some of these selected players.
Wakey wakey Arsenal… I don’t want to bow out just yet!!
Good game so far for ESR, Saka, Partey, Tierney… maybe Luiz/Mari as well
Clear evidence, when we need leaders/ motivators against a motivated all action team, that none of the so called experienced players are capable of it. In fact, turn and look vacant, expecting “something from someone else”.
Didn’t enjoy that one bit!! Expected more, seeing as we’re the holders!! Come on MA, sort it out…
Very disjointed performance.
Not worried thought. We’ll win 2-1.
Found these, LB… just to cheer us up right now!!
Like Partey’s forward and direct passes.
Much has been said, limp performance.
Really our only hope for Europa….
The Europa league it is then… I feel like crying… ☹
Deserved nothing, got nothing. Poor performances all over the park.
Willian and Pepe deals are looking like two of the worst Arsenal deals in many years (given the amounts of money involved).
I know we have to “use our squad” blah blah blah but I’d be happy to never see either of them in an Arsenal shirt again.
Pepe gave two wonderful balls, that should have been converted in goals by any talented forward. But he is criticized for the fact he shoots a free-kick high and misses a dribble. His ball control, his touch and his passing, when playmates are moving, are second to none. He is also not protected by the ref’s. He is a counter attack player, used in a team that wants to dominate the game without talented players. MA and the second trainer want him out, it is obvious. I hope for Pepe that some club snaps him in the summer for a fraction of the fee Arsenal paid for him. With the monkey of his back he will show the Arsenal ‘supporters’ what kind of a player he is. Putting him in the same bag as Willian is simply idiotic, IMHO.
Hampton were set up in a low block, how are we supposed to counter attack against that?
Pepe is not going to work out (value has fell of a cliff), chelsea, manure, spud, pool, whatever- rejects are a waste of time and space.
Buy young hungry players or bring them up from the academy.
Over 30 1 year contracts (or how about never), no players bought in over the age of 27.
This is not rocket science.
Its quite refreshing to have a pro Pepe person on here, I don’t agree with it but it does make a change.
So what did we learn today? Not a great deal, I also agree that Pepe and Willian were piss poor, Nketiah’s boat has sailed, Cedric needs to brush up on his left wing back work, although, it was telling that Arteta turned to Cedric rather than Bellerin as someone more likely to contribute to a goal from the right.
Starting to see just how good Partey is, he bossed the midfield when he came on, things started to go south as the clock ticked down and panic set in but his passes for our forwards to run onto were sublime.
The gulf in class between him and Elneny was stark. I agree with a recent comment that Elneny is the modern day Flamini, says it all really.
Gabriel was rusty which explains the recent choice of Luiz ahead of him in recent EPL selection. Holding is like drying concrete; he is getting more and more solid, should have scored though.
Xhaka continues with his rehabilitation; it is clear that Arteta has got one very important thought into his mind after his sending off– Stop Getting Booked, and it has worked because he has changed his way of playing for the better.
Arteta has obviously prioritised the league over the FA Cup and we paid the price.
What we learned, was the Deadwood train has not left our station yet. And the approach from the Saints will be no different on Tuesday. Today was a chance to quash their confidence, instead they will believe three points could be there for the taking.
I agree LB
Always good to hear counterpoints – especially to comments written in the immediate aftermath of a disappointing defeat.
But I disagree, LB, about Holding.
He had an uncharacteristically error-strewn game, as if he was dragged down by the poor level of play from the rest of the team.
He wasn’t terrible by any means, but when he made his first mistake early in the first half it’s a measure of his recent progress that my first thought was “wow, big Rob made a mistake!”
As someone who is refusing to pay silly money for TV subs I had the pleasure of not seeing the game.
So my take from team sheet alone….it was always going to be difficult with a right back playing left back and on the same side a centre back getting match fit. (It is no surprise Kolasniac was first out in winter as he is a solid 6/10 left back, clubs will be pleased to have him, and he was probably too good to be prepared to sit on his arse behind Tierney, it’s left a rather gaping hole that we need to fill.
Willian, Pepe, Nketiah and Martinelli was always going to be a bit of a mismatch, no doubt Willian hoped to be playing regularly with the likes of PEA and Laca so he is probably feeling a little hard done by and sulking that he has quickly become second string. Pepe is probably in a similar boat and Nketiah has a lot of learning to do.
FA Cup is unfortunately way down the list of priorities, yes a trophy would be nice but my guess is there is a hell of a lot more money for the club to earn from finishing 8th compared to 12thz
Let’s hope the youngsters return with a bang midweek.
Anyword what happened to PEA
Saw the team and bet on Saints. Too many of those players out of form to deal with a difficult away trip. Not really bothered that we are out tbh and it seems Arteta wasn’t either. If he had been he would’ve played the in form players.
Ryan is a great signing btw and Odegaard might be a fun one to watch. I’d forgotten what it felt like for a manager/director to clear deadwood and go after needed positions! Got used to Wenger buying ‘quality who can improve the squad ’ instead of buying players in positions that we were weak or lacking numbers.
Artetas problem is squad rotation because there are several players in tge squad who are simply not good enough.
Against Southampton he played Willian,Elniney,Soames,Nketiah and sad to say as he has so much potential Pepe.
Five out of eleven on the pitch are not good enough,Afc cannot win anything with the odds stacked against us like that.
Its great to see Ozil and his gang of back stabbers going but the triers like the players mentioned above are a big problem too.
Willian is shocking and does nothing and Afc have just handed him a big contract,Elneney is a likable trier but he is average at best the others are better but still not good enough.
Every club rotates there is no choice but the top teams have squads of good players Afc have half a squad of good players.
You guys have pretty much said it all — it was a poor 1st half. and a somewhat less poor 2nd half, which should have given us two goals.
In the end, S/Hampton won with a fluke goal.
Perhaps, in training, we should increase practice defending against flukes.
Just watched BBC highlights where City scored the winning goal against Cheltenham that was pretty much identical to the one Martinelli missed.
C’est la vie.