A Big Four Days For Arsenal

A heroic effort will be needed this evening

Olimpiacos tonight, Totteringham on Sunday. How do you think we’ll be feeling by the end of the weekend?

With luck, skill and an absence of self-inflicted wounds we could be sitting in the quarter finals of the Europa League and the relishing the sweet taste of derby victory.

The trouble is, there won’t be many Arsenal supporters feeling confident about either of those outcomes.

We could do it, of course. We could play disciplined, organised football with real attacking verve in both games, but with the current version of Arsenal there’s no way of knowing whether or not we will. We’re just as likely to play really well for 80 minutes then have one of our outfield players pick up the ball with his hands, run down the pitch and chuck it in his own net.

First things first, the Greek side will be no pushover this evening. In the round of 32 last season we won in Athens but threw it away in the home leg, so even a solid result tonight doesn’t make us safe.

They’ll have Sokratis playing, by all accounts. I always liked him when he turned out for us. Not the fastest and certainly not particularly suited to the ‘play-out-from-the-back’ fetish that obsesses modern coaches, but he always gave what he could and was never shy of getting stuck in.

Traditionally we have to assume he’ll have a blinder against us tonight but maybe, just for once, the football gods will have a bit of a giggle and make the irony gun point in the opposite direction: perhaps with Big Sok giving away a penalty and getting red carded, or slicing the ball into his own net. We shall see.

Mikel Arteta’s team selection will be made with one (or both) eyes on Sunday’s game, but surely tonight is the priority. European qualification via the Premier League is a dead duck now so the EL is our only chance of a successful end to the season.

As far as I know we have everyone available, so my guess for the starting line-up is:

Leno

Bellerin – Luiz – Gabriel – Tierney

Partey – Xhaka

Saka – Odegaard – Smith Rowe

Aubameyang

Personally, I would prefer to see:

Leno

Cedric – Holding – Gabriel – Tierney

Partey – Elneny

Saka – Smith Rowe – Aubameyang

Lacazette

Fingers crossed that whatever team takes the field can do the job and come home with a win. An away goal or two and a clean sheet would be just the confidence boost needed before entertaining the Spuds.

Totteringham’s fortunes have been up and down like Zebedee this season, sometimes they look amazing and sometimes laughably bad. Unfortunately they seem to have hit form lately and with Bale, Kane and Son in attack they will really test our defence, but we can concern ourselves with that after we’ve got tonight’s business out of the way.

We have the players and the ability to return from our Greek odyssey in triumph if the gods of Olympus smile kindly on us.

Come on you Gunners!

RockyLives

69 Responses to A Big Four Days For Arsenal

  1. Pete the Thirst says:

    The Greeks shall inhibit the girth – Monty Python

    Let’s hope we can score 3 goals over this tie because with the likes of Xhaka, Luiz & Ceballos performing their PT Barnum routines we will undoubtedly hand Olympiakos 2 goals.

  2. Pete the Thirst says:

    I find the deflection of blame form Xhaka at the weekend amazing.

    Folk that didn’t even watch the game trying to claim the Burnley goal wasn’t his fault. The stats prove it was a ‘big chance’. Others saying don’t criticise the players for not doing what they’re paid handsomely to do Hilarious.

    I’ll spell it out to you: Xhaka ain’t good enough to play in the Arsenal midfield! Never has been, never will be. Sorry if he’s you’re favourite player, but there it is.

    Here all day..

  3. RockyLives says:

    Thanks Pete

    I think Xhaka is a pretty tidy central midfielder for the most part. Not a top player by any means but a ‘cog’ in the machine.

    Unfortunately he’s a cog that likes to throw a spanner in the works on a regular basis…

    I wonder whether he’s someone we’ll seek to sell in the summer.

  4. fred1266 says:

    Amazing how he wasn’t sold when he lost the captaincy

  5. Pete the Thirst says:

    Yes Fred, exactly. Giving the finger to your own fans is pretty special, even for Arsenal.

    I don’t recall him ever apologising either.

    I think in the distant past Paul Mariner gave the finger to the North Bank. he didn’t last long.

  6. LBG says:

    Stuttgart want to keep Mavrapanos for another years loan. Seems reasonable suggestion to confirm fully his fitness, but not if waving good bye to Luiz, and Saliba turns out to be a dud.
    Whatever, he is a classic to make money from if Mikel not convinced, and then pray we dont regret.
    COYG, a solid 2-0 with no injuries or delays at the airport.

  7. LBG says:

    Rocky
    So agree with your personally preferred team.

  8. fred1266 says:

    Every agrees with rocky team except arteta, if I see either odegard or willian in that lineup am not even bothering to watch it

  9. LB says:

    Very difficult to guess Arteta’s team but this is what I would like.

    ————Leno

    Cedric, Luiz, Mari, Tierney

    ——Partey——Xhaka

    ——–Smith-Rowe

    Saka, Aubamayang, Martinelli.

  10. LB says:

    Never going to happen……..

  11. GoonerB says:

    Thanks Rocky

    The 2 Greek ties are bigger than the Spurs game. Of course if we more or less put it to bed tonight we can prioritise the Spuds game over the 2nd leg, but if it is hanging in the balance after tonight we need to prioritise our key players for the 2nd leg over the Spuds game.

    I think the home advantage of being lifted by playing at home is not a factor currently so it is the away game, where away goals are like gold dust, to prioritise in terms of going for it. Tonight we are away so should set up to score goals.

    I would like to see 4 lined up behind the number 9 with, from left to right, Auba, ESR, Odegaard, Saka, all behind Laca. Who should play the lone holding midfield role? Partey feels the most obvious choice but I wouldn’t discount Chambers who played well at the weekend.

    Nail it tonight with some valuable away goals and we can go all in for the Spuds game.

  12. Aaron says:

    Rocky, your heroic efforts will be rewarded.
    Win them all!
    ESR in the middle, Cedric on the right, Holding and Gabby/Mari in the back center.
    Smash them and build some confidence going forward.

  13. Aaron says:

    Bel, Luiz, Gabriel, Xhaka, and Willian.
    Going to be interesting: bang or bust?
    Question for everyone: will or can this side keep a clean sheet?
    Most of you know my answer on this.

  14. GoonerB says:

    Not too sure about the line up. It’s not really my favoured line up. Willian would need to play from the left with Odegaard centrally.

    I feel there is more to come from Odegaard in terms of being a player to get in and around the box and provide a goal threat. Well this is the time for him to show that if it’s in there in this line up, because based on my assertion earlier that we should be going for the kill tonight and focus on away goals I would question how many goal scorers there are in that side.

    Outside of Auba, Saka is the other main goal threat and he is only just developing this part of his game. It feels too cautious to me but we’ll see.

  15. LBG says:

    Please, please, please Arsenal, when you are on top convert the chances!

  16. RC78 says:

    Odegaard is awful today…Willian non-existent so far…

    3 stOOpid mistakes already close to our box…we re gonna give a goal away. It s a matter of time.

  17. RC78 says:

    Xhaka also not great…

    Just take Odegaard out at half time and bring in Martinelli or Laca or Pepe

  18. RockyLives says:

    I’m struggling to see why Arteta loves Odegaard so much

  19. RC78 says:

    Ok we can keep Odegaard in 😛

  20. Rasp says:

    Evening all … welcome to The Arsenal Ode

  21. RC78 says:

    What a strike!

  22. RC78 says:

    The GK was awful on it though

  23. LB says:

    Well that makes up for his missed sitter……..and some.

  24. Rasp says:

    Ode has 100% more goals for Arsenal than Willian

  25. RockyLives says:

    I can really see why Arteta loves Odegaard so much

  26. Rasp says:

    I think we can all agree that Luiz and Xhaka will always have a mistake in them … we will only be able to feel confident in games once those two are no longer first choice in their positions

  27. Rasp says:

    We had two corner kicks and wasted both … why are our centre backs bothering to go into the box when we’re going to play it short and try to walk it into the net?

  28. LB says:

    It’s as if there is a competition going on between Luiz and Xhaka.

    If one or both gets busted for involvement in a far east betting scam I wouldn’t bat an eyelid.

  29. RC78 says:

    We made so many mistakes in this half…it is crazy…

    I would still take Odegaard out…and maybe Partey too who has been awful

  30. LB says:

    Really…….I sometimes think I watch a different Partey to other people.

  31. LBG says:

    Given how good we have all been recently at criticism and predictions, I hope Rasp, you are not going to prove right with your last.

  32. Rasp says:

    I’m not exactly predicting a mistake by one of those two LBG … but I’ll only relax if we’re 2 nil up with a minute to go😅

  33. LBG says:

    Another 45 mins where the opposition chances came from our mistakes. Another Rocky Shoot Yourself in the Foot half.
    Got to cut out mistakes, Gunners.

  34. LBG says:

    Rasp
    What about the five minutes extra time?

  35. Rasp says:

    I’ll be behind the sofa!

  36. Rasp says:

    Yep … we’ve done it … courtesy of Leno

  37. Rasp says:

    You could blame Leno for the Xhaka mistake last week. He’s got to stop playing our less talented players into trouble

  38. LB says:

    Hahahaha it was all a ruse to increase the odds on Ceballos.

  39. RC78 says:

    There you go…It was a matter of time tonight.

  40. Aaron says:

    I f’n hate this squad sometimes..

  41. LB says:

    Top substitution Mikel.

  42. LBG says:

    What is the point?

  43. RC78 says:

    Well the last hopes for Ceballos to stay with us are now gone. I can’t defend him anymore…unless he scores or assists two goals for us and not against us

  44. Aaron says:

    Knew we could not keep a clean sheet.
    Better try and get a goal as a tie will have us out as AFC will not be keeping a clean sheet in the next one either.

  45. RC78 says:

    “What were we saying earlier about Arsenal and the self-destruct button?

    “This time it’s Ceballos who presses it, but he’s not helped by Leno’s choice of pass.

    “It’s calamitous. It’s Arsenal.”

  46. RC78 says:

    Nick Wright is spot on

  47. RC78 says:

    Take Odegaard out bring in Pepe or Martinelli, please.

    We need that extra bite

  48. LBG says:

    The definition of insanity!

  49. Rasp says:

    I’d consider dropping Leno for the totts …. his decision making is really poor. Our confidence to play out of tight situations at the back is destroyed. Our defenders are scared to look at the keeper in case he plays them into trouble

  50. LBG says:

    Sorry Mikel, your goalkeeper keeps passing the ball out from the back because you are telling him to. The players you have and select cannot play that system effectively for a full game without making a mistake. You will not coach the ability INTO them, so change the system, change the players, or GO.

  51. LB says:

    That’s another assist from Willian.

  52. Aaron says:

    Will Willian dribble at anyone ever?
    We have no one up top who can dribble at someone other than Saka.
    It is so limiting as no opposition is pulled towards our players.

    Gabriel with an amazing header!

  53. LB says:

    The Water Carrier comes good lol

  54. Rasp says:

    If we keep scoring like this I may be able to come out from behind the sofa for the last 5 minutes

  55. Aaron says:

    Damn, El Neny!

  56. GoonerB says:

    Hahaha Aaron. I’ve done that loads of times before. Just as your typing your comment we score and the comment becomes bi polar. Tonight we have been a bit cr….Elneeeny….se what I mean 😄

  57. RC78 says:

    El Neny…what a strike

  58. RC78 says:

    Pepe needs to kill the game now…either through an assist for Laca or a goal himself

  59. RC78 says:

    How we won this game beats me but it also beats Olympiakos…Only things to remember:

    1. We keep gifting goals and Leno really needs to just play long balls
    2. El Neny’s Strike

    For the rest, nothing

  60. LB says:

    That ended up being very funny.

  61. LB says:

    I don’t know, Odegaard’s goal wasn’t bad.

  62. LBG says:

    Dear Mikel
    Given how seriously you take our selection suggestions on arsenalarsenal.net, I would like you to consider my request for the team to play Totteringham on Sunday.
    Thank you as always for the hours you spend reading our site and for all the deadwood you are obviously determined to rid us of in the Summer.
    My team for Sunday……please
    Leno
    Soares Holding Gabriel Tierney
    Elneny Partey
    Saka Smith-Rowe Martinelli
    Lacazette

    Rule No 1. Dont allow anyone off the pitch at half time if, at least, half of the chances made by us have been taken
    Rule No 2 No passing out from the back for a full 90 (95) minutes.

    Thanking you in advance for your attention to this matter. LBG.

  63. LB says:

    Good team

  64. Gööner In Exile says:

    Well that was a good read. The comments were fun too, seeing players go from zero to hero and vice versa.

    We were in control for most of the game, but we all felt there was a mistake somewhere.

    Clearly Arteta tells them to play out from the back but as was said in commentary, sometimes you have to know as a player when it’s not right thing to do.

    I would half criticise Leno and Ceballos for the goal. Leno plays a pass down the middle, he was a reasonable way from his goal so should in my mind have played wide or long. Ceballos took a heavy touch he had time to turn away. My constant issue with Ceba is the amount of touches and no movement, if you are not going to travel with the ball then pass it and move. If you are taking 2-3 touches every time you receive the ball it is going to go wrong eventually.

    Unlikely scorers for our three goals, but at least we got the three goals, otherwise we were pretty toothless up front for most of the match which seems a strange thing to say when we scored 3 goals.

  65. LBG says:

    Having read all the pre match reports, “high” and “low” lights, postmatch commentators, radio experts, Mikel himself, and of course the most knowledgeable football followers in the Country on AA.net, it seems impossible to conceive to me that our Manager and our players dont know what to do next.
    Mikel, you are kidding yourself, and more importantly kidding the players. It is like you believe you can play high stakes cards and believe , as many have done in history, that, given you have a photographic memory, you can read the covered cards. It never works in the end. The dealer wins, shuffles the cards or cracks open a new deck.
    Give the players some confidence back. Dont try to beat a full press. Kick it long, challenge at least the centre back and then pick up the second ball. It has worked for a hundred years, and frankly, at the moment, is likely to be the only method to save your job.

  66. LBG says:

    GiE
    “sometimes you have to know as a player”….surely that is the crux. Sometimes (too many times), our players dont know!

  67. Gööner In Exile says:

    I agree LBG, although I would say some don’t know.

    Some like KT seem to know when it’s best just to play up pitch or forget the triangles at the back.

    I am constantly amazed how many players seem to now be needed to be coached in everything they do. They may have all the ball skills in the world, all the running ability, strength, fitness etc but if they can’t spot a pass or think quickly and clearly under pressure all that precedes is meaningless.

    And I’ll be honest this isn’t a case of being exclusive to Arsenal, I think all clubs use stats too much these days when assessing players.

    I doubt Arteta would have made it in football based on stats alone, he could control tempo and spot passes, Cesc another one who would never have made it.

  68. RockyLives says:

    New Post

  69. fred1266 says:

    Lbg pea over martinelli surely

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