A magical or horrible night in Prague?

First and foremost, the Covid-19 situation is not really under control in the Czech republic so I am hoping that our club representatives (coaching staff, players…) will be ok.

And now for the game…

We dominated the first game at home although there were the usual hairy defensive moments. We lacked effectiveness in front of the goal and that gap may just be our undoing in the return leg…I hope not but who knows?

I thought we had a good outing against Sheffield but then again, it was Sheffield so we can’t get too carried away. The first leg and Sheffield game did give us some certainties though:

  1. If fit, we gotta play Saka, ESR and Martinelli
  2. Laca is to be our CF as he is in decent form this year so far.
  3. Partey should play in the middle and his partner could be El Neny if we want more impact and Ceballos if we want more slick passing. I d opt for El Neny as a starter.
  4. Chambers and Xhaka should start as FB
  5. Mari should start as CB with Gabriel.

This could be our most important game of the season yet and Arteta may refrain from playing our two most expensive players in Pepe and Auba…strange club and season we are having?

Pepe is showing some decent form lately when coming in as a sub so I am confident that he can unlock the game for us if called upon.

So here is my starting line-up in case it was not obvious from the paragraphs above:

Leno – Chambs, Gabriel, Mari, Xhaka – Partey, El Neny – Saka, ESR, Martinelli – Laca (not Saka, lol)

We have enough ammunitions on the bench then with Bello, Cedric, Ceba, Pepe, Willian, Auba amongst others.

Also, I think that Odegaard will not be missed so much if he doesn’t stay with us beyond this year so I see no reason to play him despite his obvious talent.

The game in Prague has all the elements to lead to an amazing magical night for our club or a horrible one. It is down to the players and the coach to put in the necessary shift to lead our team to the semi-finals and to let us continue to dream of a trophy and CL qualification this season.



87 Responses to A magical or horrible night in Prague?

  1. LBG says:

    Thanks to the author!
    In my opinion, to this point, it is the most important game of the season.
    Happy enough with your team, except Gabi and Mari are both left sided. I would play Holding and Mari, and I think H is becoming usefully more vocal.
    Must start fast but with positional discipline. Two goals before half time ( from us) will do me.

  2. LBG says:

    Cheers RC.

  3. Aaron says:

    Thank you for the pregame, and congrats on PSG’s advancing.

    Agree with all you stated, but Holding and Mari for me.

    Season is on the line in this one. Mikel better play the youth, and a central cb pairing that has played together.

    Let’s see what AFC can do under real pressure.

    Believe they can get it done.

  4. Sue says:

    Thank you, RC 🙂

    Auba and Odegaard nowhere to be seen in the training pictures…
    I’m nervous already 😂 None of this ‘we’ll get going in the 2nd half’ nonsense. Go for the jugular from the off and get the job done!!
    Not sure my heart or fingernails can withstand another night of Arsenal drama 😅 COYG

  5. RC78 says:

    Hi Aaron – thanks for the PSG backing 😛

    I think we can win this game without Auba and Odegaard and that we can even see this game through in the first half…It would be ideal for Laca, Martinelli and Saka to score three in the first half 😛 and for Leno not to concede any goals, of course…lol

  6. LBG says:

    Love Azeez’s quote to Balague in interview, “I would love to be the best footballer in the World”. Good on yer, son. Aim high.

  7. Gööner In Exile says:

    I know Saka is good but to expect him to play in the attacking three and up top may be a bit much 🙂

    Mari – Gab probably only works with Mari on the right, Gab will have Xhaka to give the ball to and Chambers will be Mari’s option at least they should both be able to play the ball in a variety of directions with their strongest foot whereas if we start Cedric at left back I would be inclined to play Mari on the left side as his distribution is better than Gabriel’s.

    Can’t really disagree with the rest of the team, I think I’d be inclined to start Partey more advanced and allow ElNeny to sit fetch and carry. ESR would be able to drift out to the left leaving holes for Partey to exploit running from deeper and Martinelli can shift inside to support Laca.

  8. Gööner In Exile says:

    I’ve been wondering about this all season with regard to home records being a bit unexpected. Not all stadiums are fortresses and yes on match days (especially in summer) lots of fans wear their colours, but picking out a red shirt from a blank red back ground compared to picking about a red shirt against a backdrop of mixed colours probably helps with depth perception too if only looking out of the corner of your eye.


  9. RC78 says:

    So Holding, Mari and El Neny seem to have your preference so far:

    Leno – Chambs, Holding, Mari, Xhaka – Partey, El Neny – Saka, ESR, Martinelli – Laca

    @goonerinexile – I updated the post to make sure Saka does not clone himself 😛

  10. Sue says:

    Foden’s the man, he is quality!! What a night in the CL!! 👌
    Real Madrid’s bus was damaged by the scouse fans. Real took the incident personally so decided to park it 😂😂

  11. RC78 says:

    Foden is quality but what about Bellingham? Is England ready for a new young golden generation (Trent-Arnold, Aarons, Rice, Foden, Saka, Sancho, Bellingham, Mount, Greenwood…)?

  12. LBG says:

    Given the repeated criticism of MA for sending a very undercooked Saliba, who had not played for a long time in France before he came to the Club, back out on loan. And his apparently quality performances in the French League since then, will Emery actually be remembered for bringing us a gem? What do you think RC?

  13. RA says:

    Need to see how good, or not, Saliba is as a gem for myself before I could say, LBG.

    At the moment, I am not sure he will want to join Arsenal, or trust Arteta.

    Anyway, we have about 15 to 20 young men out on loan, usually the kiss of death (as I have said many times before), and included among them are some very good defenders in Medley, McGuinness, Daniel Ballard, (CBs) and Mat Smith so can’t see why we need another CB.

    So who knows?? 😳

    In discussing the possibility of more youth on the bench tonight, one of my friends said “Azeez” and the other one said “bless you”.

  14. GoonerB says:

    Thanks RC…..one word…..attack attack attack….well one word said three times actually.

    So many times are European ties decided by away goals, even with an equal aggregate score, that the key is attacking away from home and aiming for a cagey 0-0 at home.

    This goes against all normal practice in the domestic league where you are expected to be more expansive at home. Despite many being unhappy last week during the game once we got a 1-0 lead that would have been a great result for the home tie. Unfortunately we let them score a valuable away goal.

    However, we have the superior attacking players so should go for the jugular from the outset. We are not that great at this stage at the cagey stuff anyway but look good when we play on the front foot.

    We are more than capable of scoring 2 early on and taking complete control. I maybe agree about a right and left footed CB partnership but the key difference I would make is to drop Elneny for Pepe in the starting line up.

    I would play Pepe attacking right, Martinelli attacking left, and Saka with ESR as a double number 8 CM partnership in front of Partey and behind Laca.

    This is a game to go at all guns blazing then conserve later rather than go too cautious to start with and then fling everything on with 10 mins to go if we are still chasing the game.

  15. Sue says:

    Sorry, I know today is all about us, but this made me chuckle!!

  16. Sue says:

    Arsenal XI vs Slavia Prague: Leno, Chambers, Holding, Mari, Saka, Xhaka, Partey, Ceballos, Smith Rowe, Pepe, Lacazette
    Subs: Ryan (GK), Hillson (GK), Bellerin, Gabriel, Willian, Cedric, Nelson, Elneny, Nketiah, Martinelli, Balogun, Azeez


  17. RC78 says:

    Concerning Saliba – let us not get too carried away.

    Saliba is indeed good and he is doing well with Nice but Nice is poor defensively so his work really stands out…so it is like if a teenager is playing in a squad of children…That said, he has been doing well and he is really comfortable with the ball at his feet and is actually also good at cutting shot angles and blocking shots…that said, he is still one level below Wesley Fofana who now is making Leicester quite happy. Fofana is definitely a good defender and the jury is still out whether he meets his target of being the new “Varane”. I have no doubt that Fofana is the future Van Dijk though so if I look at my France squad in 4 years, I could have Fofana-Kimpembe as my starting pairing with Laporte-Saliba as a back-up and I am smiling 🙂

  18. RC78 says:

    Most likely like this set-up, no?

    Leno – Chambers, Holding, Mari, Xhaka – Partey, Ceballos – Pepe, Saka, Smith Rowe – Lacazette

  19. RC78 says:

    Ceballos – we count on you not to fudge it up…

  20. Rasp says:

    Thanks for the PM RC. This is the biggest game of the season. We need to play without fear and take it to them. If we score the first goal everything changes. In reality we have nothing to lose. The person to whom it matters most is Mikel. COYRRG

  21. GoonerB says:

    I agree with your summation of that line up RC with Saka now playing as the ACM

  22. LB says:

    Quite surprised, in a kind of good way, I thought that formation was just for Shef U, I didn’t realise that it was a forerunner for tonight.

  23. LBG says:

    Dani is a concern, but I think Pepe is even more important tonight. He owes us and if he can fulfil some potential, Gabi can still.be brought on for an explosive 20 mins.
    Let’s hope we have wrapped it up AND can keep tight before then.

  24. LBG says:

    Good timing from Aubang. Malaria!

  25. Rasp says:

    Yay … our two best players combine

  26. Rasp says:

    Bloody VAR is ruining the game

  27. LBG says:

    Thanks Pepe!

  28. Aaron says:

    The youngsters 2X!

  29. Rasp says:

    Phew …. Pepe has scored both goals against SP

  30. LB says:

    Great stuff

  31. LBG says:

    Now we need discipline, we need to hit them again from good positional discipline. Come on Gunners, Do it!

  32. OMG …… what’s going on 😁😁😁

  33. LBG says:

    We love you Saka, we do, we love you Saka, we do!
    Chambers assist.

  34. Aaron says:


  35. Away goals ….. amazing ❤️❤️❤️

  36. RC78 says:

    Pepe, the EL man for us this season…

    ESR with a beautiful assist for Pepe and then Laca to double our lead on PK. Well done AFC! Let us hit one more goal! And as I write this, Saka scores! 3-0!

    Now we just need a goal from ESR and all our front players would have scored

  37. Rasp says:

    I’m loving this, SP need 4 now …. keep the pressure on lads … maybe let some of the new younger players get some experience after 75 mins.

  38. RC – you’re having a great week what with PSG going through too

  39. RockyLives says:

    Evening all – sorry I’ve not been around this week – lots of work.

    This is fun 😀😀😀

  40. oz gunner says:

    What a start!!!

  41. ……. and the best part of PSG going through is that,obviously, spuds hated seeing Poch win 😂😂😂

  42. LBG says:

    No injuries. No controversy. Clean sheet.

  43. LBG says:

    Reunion with Emery!

  44. Not sure I know how to watch a game when we’re 3-0 up, away from home in the EL 😂😂😂

  45. Rasp says:

    MotM goes to Saka for that first half. He’s adding goals to his game now … what a player

  46. LBG says:

    Gamesmanship from a poor team
    Front four intensity unbelievable. If they cant keep it up after 60 change them – Balogun Martinelli.

  47. LB says:

    This is going to take some foot shooting to mess this one up.


  48. RC78 says:

    Peaches…If AFC and PSG go through in Europe and win their domestic fixtures this week, it would be a great week indeed.

    Good performance in this first half 🙂

    If we play Villareal next round, I hope that Arteta shows Emery why he was chosen to replace him at AFC 😛

  49. Oh LB don’t even suggest it’s possible ….. even though I agree, I’ve already worked out that SP need to score a shit load of goals now to knock us out 😂😂😂

  50. LB says:

    Xhaka has filled in a LB before but I wouldn’t have thought of playing Ceballos on the left mid in a million years.

    Although the game is changing this needs to change as well.

  51. LB says:

    I hope you are well Peaches, no need to ask if you are happy 🙂

  52. I’m well thank you LB, crazy busy as the world wants their garden designed …… now 🙄

  53. RockyLives says:

    ESR my player of the half. So intelligent.

    Closely followed by Saka and Laca.

    Pepe doing well too.

  54. RC78 says:

    If there is one player that is having fun in the EL this season, it s clearly Pepe.

  55. Sue says:

    All hail the Hale Enders 👌❤

  56. RA says:

    Good to see, Peaches and you are obviously enjoying this game..

    You are our lucky mascot!! 😁

  57. Rasp says:

    I’ve just seen the slomo of ESR’s play to get the ball through to Pepe for the first goal Rocky … so I may have to rethink Saka and share it with ESR

  58. Redders – I’m always here, just lately I have to zip my mouth shut. But on occasions like this I’m prepared to have my heart on my sleeve 😉

  59. RC78 says:

    ESR looks jaded…Let us just sub him…bring in El Neny and move Ceba further up the pitch.

  60. Rasp says:

    I was about to say the same RC …. he’s definitely tiring and that’s when he’s most likely to get injured.

  61. RC78 says:

    Ceballos…embarassing…don’t do that…

  62. RC78 says:

    I think Arteta is listening to us

  63. Rasp says:

    Surely we could bring on Balogun for Laca at this stage of the game.

  64. Rasp says:

    …. just after Laca scores again that is 😂

  65. Super super goal from Lacazette 👏👏👏

  66. RC78 says:

    Time for Martinelli and Balogun pls…Saka and Laca out

  67. LB says:

    How long does Malaria last for?

  68. LBG says:

    Laca on fire!

  69. RockyLives says:

    Loving Laca. Four goals in two games

  70. RC78 says:

    Why Nketiah?

  71. RC78 says:

    Malaria…it depends…depends on the level of malaria infection…could be days or weeks

  72. RockyLives says:

    The Malaria things sounds like a bit of a convenient story.

    There’s been a lot going on in Auba’s private life (allegedly).

  73. LBG says:

    My Men of the match – The Hale End Twins – Smith-Rowe and Saka.
    With Captain Laca close behind. Praise the Football Lord.

  74. RC78 says:

    Martinelli…so close

  75. Rasp says:

    Really good subs by Mikel

  76. VP says:


  77. LBG says:

    Miki to knock out Manure!

  78. Aaron says:

    Clean sheet!
    AFC onwards…

  79. RC78 says:

    I have to say that Chambers, Mari and Xhaka had a good game at the back too and Ceba in the middle….

    Gold standard – Saka, ESR, Laca, Pepe
    Silver standard – Chambers, Mari, Xhaka, Partey, Ceba
    Bronze standard – Leno, Holding

    A convincing win and performance…Emery here we come!

  80. RC78 says:

    A magical night in the end 🙂

  81. Gööner In Exile says:

    Well that was lovely.

    Good attacking football, may have surprised Prague with our early attacking intent, but also Prague were in a tricky situation we have experienced similar in the past, taking an away goal into a home leg where you know a 0-0 draw sees you through. Can be tricky to get the mindset right. We knew we had to score.

    As others have mentioned ESRs ability to keep that ball alive surrounded by white shirts simply extraordinary. And whilst we know Saka is good I don’t think we realise how good. I’d ask people to compare his output to Sterling at similar age. Both he and ESR just look so composed.

    Felt Partey showed a bit more of himself in that first half too.

    Oh and Lacas second, the commentary team said he was given all the time in the world. He made that time with a good touch balance and shifting the ball.

    As others have said PEAs illness could. It have arrived at a better time.

  82. Sue says:

  83. allezkev says:

    A few scrambles in our penalty area but Mari and Holding were on top of things, quietly effective without any of the dramas, solid by Chambers and Xhaka was dependable again, Leno had a comfortable evening, two clean sheet, 7 goals scored, Partey and Ceballos seem to have a nice balance and up front it’s just spellbinding. Nice subs as well…

  84. LBG says:

    A magical and emulsional night for Arsenal ( and Totteringham!) And we shouldn’t gloss over the best first half of the season and a meet up with Unai in the offing.

  85. LBG says:

    Anybody notice the Final is on May 26th? No jumping the gunners now, but got to be an omen.

  86. RockyLives says:

    New Post

  87. fred1266 says:

    What significance is may 26?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: