Dani’s Dazzling Debut .. against the new Stoke!

August 18, 2019

Arsenal 2 -1 Stoke

I can’t take the credit for our opposition’s name (nice one LBG) but Tony Pullis has shrunk 6 inches, put on 3 stone and gone ginger and balder. Apart from that, all’s well in The Potteries.

We started with a different line up to last week. I had Torreira and Chambers with either Ozil or Miki in my pre match. Liam had Ceballos. We thought Xhaka might not make it because of the injury. So full debuts for Ceballos, Luis and Willock, Guendouzi and Nelson also included. I liked the line-up I must admit.

We started well and for 15 minutes, I was drooling !! Laca had just missed what I thought was a really straightforward header but from the resulting corner, he scored such a Laca goal. It was awesome.

After we scored, we lost the initiative and struggled with stopping them doing what they’re good at and gave away far too many set pieces.

Guendouzi on Tarkowski at said set pieces was hard to understand but I guess we were zonal for the most part. Their equaliser wasn’t a huge surprise but I was literally mesmerized by our midfield.

Even though we went in level, at no point did I ever think we wouldn’t win this game (in fact in the end I was a little disappointed we didn’t win by more).

The second half seemed a lot more comfortable and I can’t really put my finger on why. I know Pepe came on and so I have to attribute it to that in some part.

Everyone seemed confident on the ball and after an Auba miss from a sublime ball by Pepe, he did exactly what Laca did earlier and scored a great goal almost immediately.

I thought the rest of the game was solid and the subs came in to help shore us up but we never really looked in danger of conceding.

Player Ratings as follows:

Leno – 7 : Could maybe have helped the defense out a little more but Stoke is such a hard team for keepers. Mark my words, they’ll terrorize quite a few keepers this season.

AMN – 7 : Wasn’t outstanding, wasn’t bad. I rate him at present based on the fact that he’s playing out of position and will give him the benefit at the moment. No concentration lapses.

Nacho – 7 : Nacho. What more is there to say. Tierney will probably be an upgrade but this guy doesn’t hurt us in any way.

Sokratis – 8 : He did miss a couple of headers in the first half but he was very good in the 2nd. A couple of crunching tackles and I wonder if he fed off Luiz a little.

Luiz – 7.5 : Probably as good as Sok but I’m going to be a little harsh here and say he was at fault for the goal. I know it took a deflection but he was a yard behind the line and that’s going to cost us against better sides. Looked like a Gooner and led by example and was very animated. Awesome debut.

Guendouzi – 8 : I think he showed what a disciplined DM should be. This kid is such an asset to us and I think he’s going to get better and better. Hardly put a foot wrong (I’ll take corrections on that if I’m wrong – maybe I have an agenda !!). Let’s see how he does against better teams for sure, but did everything that was asked.

Willock – 8 : I love this kid. He’s strong, powerful, confident but not arrogant. I said a while back the mark of a good player is how his opposition views him. In no time flat, teams are going to hate playing against this lad. He’s got it all. Again, he gets his grade based on the fact he’s a 19 yr old rookie. Wasn’t perfect but always showed and covered.

Ceballos – 10 : I can’t really say enough about how well he played. My son Liam has been raving about him and I think most of the comments on here have been tempered by the fact that he’s a fairly unknown quantity especially in the PL. Well here’s our answer.

Nelson – 6.5 : Didn’t have his best game but looks like he got a knock. Wasn’t scared to play against a rugged team. He’s exciting and I love the fact Dick is playing him, he’s well worth a punt. Not his best game but he’s 19. There’s a lot more to come from this kid imo.

Laca – 7.5 : Very good comeback after injury, maybe not 100% match fit but did all that could be asked and scored a very good goal upon return.

Auba – 9 : Stoke were terrified of this guy. At the moment he’s almost unplayable and the biggest surprise is that he only got 1. I guarantee he’s creating space for others right now just by being on the field.

Subs :

Pepe – 7 : One world class ball, one world class dribble and a little inconsistency. He’s going to be fun and hard to watch all at the same time but if this guy doesn’t excite you, maybe you’re not a football person !! Kidding but I think he’s going to be special for us.

Torreira and Kola – No grade, but came in to do a job and got it done.

Summary : This is very important so let me say it – we beat Burnley (the new Stoke) 2-1 at home. It’s tempting to read into all of the excitement and positivity and think we’re Spuds of 5 years ago. So let’s not be that. Instead I’ll say this. For the first time in a while, I expected us to win. I saw a midfield trio that would run through walls for each other. For their team mates. For Us fans. For the Badge. There was an attitude about Arsenal today that we’ve been missing. We gave Burnley a run for their money, struggled for a while, then beat them. We’re a work in progress with a lot of work to do for sure. But I finally think we have a map, a destination and the means to get there.

Our current squad, allowing for the loss of Ramsey but adding Pepe, Ceballos, Luiz and Willock plus the continuing improvement of Guendouzi, the top class Laca and Auba and a very good keeper in Leno is the foundation of a new era at Arsenal. That’s not really up for debate. The question is, can we go down the new road successfully.

Two games into the season against two mediocre opponents would lead most people to think it’s fanciful at best to make such an assumption. I probably agree. But I’m happy to go on the record as saying I am very optimistic for our next two games. The fear we have often displayed, the mental frailty seems a little foreign to this current crop. So if I’m wrong then it’s going to be a little longer road. But I for one can’t wait to see.

Go Gooooooooooooooners!!!

Mike M

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Double Pants Dilemma: Newcastle v Arsenal Match Report and Player Ratings

August 11, 2019

The first game of a new season prompts a strange mix of emotions: excitement, anticipation, hope, nervousness. Perhaps fear.

I imagine it’s the way a bride must feel on the morning of her wedding when everything has been planned just the way she wants it but she has a nagging suspicion that she might be marrying the wrong man.

Well, let’s hope Arsenal’s 2019/20 season is a ‘happily ever after’ story and we don’t end up feeling betrayed, abandoned and embittered with only chocolate and cats to console us.

The auguries were not good for yesterday’s season opener against a Newcastle United team led by new coach Mrs Doubtfire.

There were two reasons for concern: firstly, our opening day form has been pants in recent years. And secondly, for the first time in years our opening match was away from home and, as we all know, our away form has also been pants.

So we had a double pants dilemma, like an anxious incontinence sufferer.

First, our opening day form: in the previous four years, starting with last year, we have managed the following: home defeat to Manchester City; scrappy and somewhat lucky home win against Leicester City; home defeat to Liverpool; home defeat to West Ham.

Next, our overall away form: last season and the one before we contrived to lose exactly half of our away games in the Premier League (19 out of 38) and managed to win only 11 out of 38 – a win rate of just 29%.

Yet, with all that in mind, it was impossible not to feel a bit chipper going into the game.

Most of us would probably agree we had a good transfer window and this has helped the mood music around the club to be more upbeat. There’s a cautious feeling that we have started to plant the seeds of recovery after some frustrating years.

There appears to be a bit more of a clear direction at the club and it’s hard not to be excited about new signings like Ceballos, Pepe and Martinelli, and the continuing progress of home-grown talents like Willock and Nelson.

Unai Emery went with a starting line-up that will probably bear little resemblance to our eventual first choice eleven this season (once the broken ones have returned and the new ones have settled). He put his faith in some of the youngsters. Willock, Nelson and Guendouzi started, as did Maitland-Niles and Chambers (does Calum Chambers still count as a youngster?).

Lacazette, rightly, was not risked due to recent injury issues, but was on the bench in case we needed to chase a goal late on. That meant the irrepressible Aubameyang would be carrying most of our attacking hopes.

The first half was a fairly even affair. The Barcodes had a 10 minute spell when they created some half chances, including a shot from noted Nosferatu impersonator Jonjo Shelvey that hit the post (although Leno may just have had it covered).

From our side, we were finding it difficult to break down a well-organised Newcastle defence and whenever it looked like we might find a way through a wayward pass or piece of control would bring an end to things.

But there were promising signs in the way we knocked the ball around at times and it was particularly pleasing to see Willock and Nelson so involved and showing a lot of confidence. Guendouzi, meanwhile, was my stand-out player of the first period. He’s strong, competitive, always makes himself available and is ever keen to get on the front foot: he may look like the dopey sidekick from a 1990s teen movie, but this kid has future leading man written all over him.

In the second half we were the superior team overall, without creating clear cut chances until the breakthrough came courtesy of two men for whom two initials are just not enough: AMN and PEA.

Maitland-Niles showed brilliant anticipation as Newcastle played the ball out from the back. He beat the Newcastle player to the ball around the half way line, took a couple of touches and looked up to see Auba moving into space in the penalty area. Maitland-Niles’s 35-yard* pass to our Gabonese gazelle was beautifully executed. Aubameyang brought it under control and coolly side-footed it past the on-rushing ‘keeper.

Mrs Doubtfire will be fuming at the space given to our striker in the box, but that should not detract from the fact that he found the space or the sublime way in which he finished.

As Auba ran to celebrate with his Number One Best Bro (Lacazette) on the touchline I liked that he turned to beckon Maitland-Niles to join the party.

After that Newcastle huffed and puffed but caused few real scares.

It’s tempting to say that Aubameyang’s quality was the difference, but in truth we displayed superiority in most areas for the majority of the game.

We also got to have a look at Ceballos, Pepe and Martinelli as they came on for Willock, Nelson and Mkhitaryan. There were a couple of nice moments from Pepe in particular, but the main thing was they got their debuts under their belts and they can feel they contributed to a win and a clean sheet.

I think a special word is also merited for our new away kit – and that word is “Yes!” Well done Adidas.

*For younger readers who don’t understand imperial measurements, 35 yards is equivalent to 28 Ells, or 70 Cubits.

Player Ratings

Leno: dealt with everything that came his way. In particular I enjoyed the moment in the second half where he came out of his area to head the ball clear and snuff out a dangerous Newcastle attack. 7.5

Maitland-Niles: excellent overall game from the young fullback and his anticipation and skill directly led to our winning goal. 8

Monreal: solid and unspectacular from Nacho, but he did little wrong. 7

Sokratis: it’s hard to get excited about our Greek colossus, but he is a very dependable defender and had a good game. 7

Chambers: a year on loan playing in midfield has been good for Chambers. I fancy he could be one of the surprise success stories of the season. Like his central defence partner he was solid. 7

Xhaka: seemed more subdued than usual but was tidy and played some very nice attacking passes at times. 6.5

Guendouzi: all energy all the time. I love the way he turns his body as he receives the ball so he is always ready to surge towards the opposition end. 8

Nelson: confident and tidy. It’s very encouraging to have players like him and Willock coming through, not least for the way it can inspire other up-and-coming talents at the club. 7

Willock: this lad’s a class act. 7.5

Mkhitaryan: I know he’s not a fan favourite but I thought he was lively in the first half and helped create some of our better chances. His final ball let him down a couple of times and he faded in the second half. 6

Aubameyang: exuberant, talented and full of energy – what a great player to have wearing the Arsenal shirt. MoTM 8.5.

Subs:

Ceballos: misplaced a few passes as he tried to find his feet, but grew into the game.

Pepe: showed one or two very nice moments of skill. Looking forward to seeing more of him.

Martinelli: a Brazilian forward at the Arsenal? What’s not to like?

RockyLives


The Emirates Hic-Cup … Arsenal 1 Lyon 2 – Match Report and Player Ratings

July 29, 2019

This was the sixth of our preseason games. We fielded a mixed side comprising Leno, AMN, Chambers, Sokratis, Monreal, Willock, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan, and Lacazette.

My initial thought was that I was glad to see Willock playing consistently in the first team and that we are moving away from the Mkhitaryan and Mesut combo. In reality, I suspect they were probably rested because of the attack earlier in the week. With Mkhitaryan seemingly playing on the left, I wondered who’s going to be playing the Mesut role?

 

First Half

There was a minute of applause for former Arsenal player Jose Antonio Reyes who was taken from us way to soon, may he rest in peace.

One thing I have noticed is how quickly Arsenal have been starting games in the preseason, and this game was no exception. Monreal hasn’t looked up to it early in preseason, but today he was sharp, on one occasion bursting down the  left flank and crossing but not finding an Arsenal shirt, and then on another being bundled over in penalty box. Sadly the ref wasn’t having any of it.

Lacazette was replaced early on by Nelson. He was seen later wearing a protective boot –   let’s hope this was just for precaution. Aubameyang moved to central striker with Mkhitaryan now playing on the right. Willock looked really bright,  collecting the ball from Guendouzi and smartly turning for a low shot into the keeper, and then soon after was involved in an attacking move in the penalty box. But he was eventually smothered by the  amassed defenders.

Arsenal displayed some great interchanging football. The opening goal came when Mkhitaryan who crossed to Aubamyang who headed the ball home, making it 1 nil to The Arsenal. Lyon had an appeal for hand ball by Chambers turned down, I wondered when I saw it if this would have been given in the EPL this season. Willock was ever present and was our best player in the first half.

 

Second Half

The first change for the second half was Nketiah on for Guendouzi. With this, Aubameyang moved back out to the right, Mkhitaryan was now playing the link between midfield and attack which I think his best position, and with Eddie as striker.

The two sides were going at it second half with Lyon now creating more. Nketiah headed a ball over the bar, and then fluffed his lines again missing a cross from Nelson. Soon after that, Nketiah received a ball in the box and turned sharply but his shot was smothered by the keeper. The chant of Eddie, Eddie, Eddie rang round The Emirates, he really is a fans’ favourite.

Some poor defending by Maitland-Nyles  failing to block a cross led to the equaliser from Dembele. Shortly after, AMN did make a great block on Dembele showing he can play with discipline. Arsenal thought they had restored their lead when Martinelli put the ball in the back of the net but it was ruled as offside. Soon after, we failed to operate the offside trap correctly and Dembele made it 1-2 for Lyon. Arsenal had a few more opportunities but couldn’t take their chances. Lyon were crowned 2019 Emirates Cup Champions – not a big deal, it’s always been a slightly embarrassing competition, but still, it’s better to win than lose.

Conclusion

Arsenal’s second loss in preseason was frustrating. We were in control in both games and yet ended up losing. It was another promising performance by the Arsenal youngsters. Nelson had a good industrious game, although he struggled to get through Lyon’s defense. Willock was amazing once again and Eddie did the hard work by getting into the goal scoring positions but then  lacked the composure he had shown in earlier preseason games.

If only Arsenal could change how they defend. Good to see Chambers back and at least he put in a good defensive performance. There was one occasion when Sokratis brought down Dembele and was lucky not avoid a card. We’ve seen it many times before. Our defenders are too slow to play such a high line.

 

Ratings

Leno 7 – solid game but was left exposed for both goals

Maitland-Nyles 6  – needs to work on his defending

Sokratis 6 – solid today but still reckless when given the chance

Chambers 7 – was solid again nice to see him finally getting his chance

Monreal 6  – looked lively

Wiilock 9 – another great game and shouldn’t have been taken off …  MOTM

Xhaka 5 – Can the crowd please stop telling him to shoot

Guendouzi 5 – Nice to see him back

Mkhitaryan 6 – great assist for the goal

Aubameyang 7 –  took his chance well and caused trouble whole game

Lacazette 5 – let’s hope it nothing serious

 

Subs

Nketiah 7 – impressive as always, unlucky again not to score

Nelson 6  – I’m still waiting for him to impress me

fred1266

 


Sell Aubameyang for £70m …. Deal or No Deal?

June 19, 2019

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, our 2018/19 golden boot winning striker turned 30 this week. There have been rumours that Man Utd are considering making a £70m bid for him. If we accepted such a bid, we would make a nett profit of around £14m, so not a massive return on our investment on the surface. But, in these times of austerity and with a rumoured transfer budget of a paltry £40m … what could we do with that extra £70m? … or even a £100m+ if we sell Xhaka as well. Seal a leaky defence? Buy a midfield maestro to replace Ramsey? Bring in proper wide attacking players? Maybe all of the those options?

This question was posed by blogger LBG a few days ago …

So let’s heat things up!
If we get an offer of 70m for a 30 year old Aubameyang from Manure, and an offer of 35m for Xhaka, I say sell them both and use the 100m to fill the gaps we actually have.

These are some of the responses it has drawn …

From Sue …

Atletico want Xhaka (you’re having a giraffe, right?!) albeit I’d quite happily drive him to the airport & bundle Mustafi in the car too & tell them it’s a bogof deal… oh happy days 😝

This from Els …

LBG – too risky for me to sell Auba and Xhaka. We already have too much business to do and too many first teamers to replace. We need to keep as much consistency as possible now. Other than that £105m for those too would be nice. I’d want to replace with a good few academy promotions and then some free transfers. Then we give all that money to Ramsey see if he’ll come back.

RC78 posted this …

I am happy to let both El Neny and Xhaka go but I d like to keep Auba unless we have an offer exceeding 50 Mln pounds for him.

From GoonerB …

LBG in answer to your question, if we were to get £35m for Xhaka and £70m+ for Auba I would take it. I love Auba but at 30 years old those figures are tempting and those funds could secure a key but expensive option elsewhere.

Aaron’s thoughts …

Sell Auba and Xhaka for $100+ million, in a New York second. I will be encouraged if we buy some CB’s and another strong DM. We do not want any injury prone hail mary’s or 35 year old cast off’s. Bring up someone exceptional, a 20-25 year gem that actually has a body that can take the EPL punishment.

It would appear from the above that there is an acceptance amongst some of the fanbase that we may have to do a ‘Liverpool’ and sell one gem (or maybe two) to buy different gems that could plug some gaping holes in the team … or do you think otherwise?


Burnley 1 Arsenal 3 – Player Ratings

May 13, 2019

An experimental side designed to give some of the old boys a rest – could the reshuffled selection stand up to Sean Wagner’s boot boys?

First Half

Chances at both ends – Auba hit the post with a crafty effort off his shoulder – the loathsome Barnes fluffed one straight at the keeper before Wood hit the post from a shot that Leno had covered. 🙂

Willock nearly produced a wonderful finish from a spin and shot which just drifted wide.

The unlucky Mavro’s body failed him again and Kos didn’t get the rest he had been promised. Mav needs the 6 million Dollar Man treatment.

Second Half

The good guys went into the lead when Ben Mee ( a distant relation of our Bertie) tried a stepover allowing Auba to race through and slot past the keeper.

Getty Images

Less than ten minutes later and it was two. Wobbly floated a delightful chip to the far post and Auba explosively lashed it into the net.

Some Keystone Cops defending led to Burnley pinching one back – still celebrating going two up, maybe.

The excrescent Ashley Barnes attempted to maim Koscielny by shoving him into the advertising hoardings. Sadly the days of meathead thuggery on the pitch are not yet over.

Auba could have won the Golden Boot outright when Mkhitaryan set him up beautifully in front of goal but he got too much on it, diverting it wide of the post. Another spin and shot from Pierre sailed over the bar.

Eddie scored the third and final goal in injury time, sneaking the ball through Heaton’s legs. Eddie, Eddie, Eddie!

Conclusion

An away win which was a bit like closing  the stable door after the top four place had bolted.

Still, at least we didn’t buckle to Sean Wagner’s side as might have been expected. Burnley had one toe in the Mediterranean and Arsenal were planning how to get to Baku in the shortest time possible. Just imagine if DB10 was still playing and the final was in Azerbaijan, he’d have to leave now to get there by car.

Ratings

Leno – made some good stops, did some sweeping too – a fine end to a fine League season – Prime Bratwurst … 8

Lichtsteiner – nothing too great, nothing too bad – ready for his cardigan – Swiss cheese … 6

Mustafi – a creditable performance from the bulldog-jawed German – slack for the goal but it wasn’t only down to him – Schlachtplatte … 7

Mavropanos – looked a little uncomfortable even before his injury – needs some new body parts if he’s to fulfil his potential – Taramasalata … 6

Monreal – brightened up the left flank with Iwobi – defended with his customary resolution – Carne de Cabra … 7

Elneny – there should be a verb ‘to elneny’ which means you did what everyone expected of you, no more no less – Falafel … 6

Guendouzi – starting to recapture the joy he played with at the start of the season – Mille-Feuille … 7

Mkhitaryan – seemed to have his Baku travel plans on his mind – shame Auba didn’t convert his one really telling contribution to the match – Ghapama … 6

Willock – he’s definitely on the verge of moving up to first team level – just needs a little bit extra to turn him into the Full English Breakfast … 7

Iwobi –  a perfect game for Alex and he showed what a fine player he can be – homemade scones with clotted cream and jam … 8

Aubameyang – the man is red hot at the moment and firing on all cylinders for the 29th … Spicy Carp Soup … 9

Subs

Koscielny – another fine performance when unexpectedly called upon early – so pleased Barnes didn’t hurt him – Steak au Poivre … 7

Nketiah – you could see his excitement at being given a half hour in a Prem game – Apple Sauce … 7

Managers

Emery – a win and some players rested – job done – Patatas Bravas … 8

Sean Wagner – thuggery, brutality and the new Stoke (even signed Crouch) – Spotted Dick … 3

Ref

Dean – gets a 5 for not ruining the game completely for a change.

chas 


Weak officials and poor finishing cost Arsenal NLD victory – Player Ratings

March 3, 2019

Ramsey and Laca to start just as Wednesday’s team against Bournemouth had suggested. A back four with Shkodran as right back – hmmmm.

First Half

We started really well. The spuds looked devoid of confidence, perhaps a win at our second home was on the cards. Sixteen minutes in and a wobble from the defender gave Laca the freedom to set Aaron free from the halfway line. His run and rounding of Lloris was just beautiful. LBG suggested that his goal celebration was to emphasise that Wembley was a pitch he owned.

Stuart MacFarlane

The rest of the half was played out without the red and white goal coming under much threat despite shed loads of spud possession. The lino spotted Vertonghen offside on the one occasion they did get the ball past Leno (Shame his counterpart at the other end wasn’t anywhere near as competent in the second half).

Our German keeper’s double save was the only real scare and he deserves off-the-scale credit for keeping the score at 1-0.

Second Half

Could we hang on and bag all three points? One thing was sure it would be 45 minutes of nail-biting tension as it always is in an NLD.

The Terrier came on for Guendouzi who looked a little swamped in the first half. We looked tighter immediately with the defence playing superbly.

The equaliser was just disgraceful from the linesman. He was 2 yards out of position and could not see along the line to spot Kane offside. Mustafi’s cretinous push on an offside Kane should never have even been a consideration for Anthony Taylor. If the linesman’s flag had gone up as it should, it would have been a free kick to the good guys. Instead, we had to endure an undeserved penalty for a side who never looked like scoring from normal play. Absolute and complete bowlocks.

Just look at the lino – pathetic

Salvation appeared to be at hand when Auba (who seemed a poor substitute from the word go) was fouled with seconds of the 90 remaining. Please Auba, no eff ups. What followed was such a dreadful penalty that Gunnersaurus could have saved it by sticking out a large black boot.

No retake, ref? Especially considering Vertonghen blocked the follow up from Auba

Torreira’s sending off for an unintentional contact on the serial diver Rose made no diiference to the result but presumably means a 3 match suspension and the little Uruguayan out of the red mancs game next weekend.

Oh yeah, Anthony Taylor, wasn’t this worse?

Conclusion

A massive missed opportunity of beating a poor spud side but, then again, most of us would have taken a point before the game.

Such a shame that yet more officials’ incompetence was the cause of the spud equaliser. I hope that lino is ashamed of himself when he watches it back.

Ratings

Leno – a glorious double save worthy of winning any match … 8

Mustafi – not surprisingly a weak link and his push on Kane stupid beyond words … 5

Sokratis – just superb – never bullied – commanding like a god from Mount Olympus … 9

Koscielny – class personified again – battered with elbows and forwards backing in but still came back for more … 8

Monreal – excellent yet again – if his legs hold up he has several more seasons in him on this showing … 8

Guendouzi – a bridge too far for Matteo – he was too ponderous in that first period for the helter skelter of an NLD … 6

Xhaka – back in his rightful place, he saw more of the ball with a more natural partner in the second half … 7

Mkhitaryan – he worked hard and put Auba free a couple of times late on … 7

Iwobi – one of his more frustrating performances – gave the ball away umpteen times – his one decent effort on goal had to be aimed slightly outside the post – in the end Lloris could have headed it away … 6

Ramsey – his goal celebration showed how much he realises it means to be a Gooner playing Tottenham – worked his leeks off throughout – I was disappointed when he came off, though he was a bit knackered maybe … 8

Lacazette – he was never going to have much support but should have done better with an early chance and also in the second half from a nice Iwobi cutback – another player that I was disappointed he was substituted – as was he, judging by his reaction … 7

Subs

Torreira – added some steel to the midfield – unlucky to get a red for an accidental challenge …7

Aubameyang – never looks comfortable leading the line in the same way Laca does – yet, having said that he did have some decent sniffs at goal but his penalty miss will give him nightmares … 5

Ozil – did very little and contributed far less than Rambo had done previously playing in the same position … 6

Managers

Emery – got everything right in his initial selection, made a good half time sub and then two less effective substitutions – still, a point at Wembley and 4 points out of 6 against those hideous swamp-dwellers in his first Prem season gets him an extra point. Love how his quote about the officials could be taken two ways – “VAR is coming for them.”  … 8

Podgytino – outclassed and only had incompetent officials to thank for not losing – his comments that the spuds were superior in all aspects of the game were patently ridiculous … 3

chas


A big chunk of our season is on the line today – Bate preview

February 21, 2019

First and foremost, please remember that kick off is 17:55pm UK time today. We wouldn’t want Micky rolling up at 7.30pm wondering what the team news is. 🙂

Last week in Belarus was dire, there’s no getting around it. A shapeless, ineffective Arsenal team, admittedly hampered by an appalling pitch surface, delivered a performance of virtually zero quality.

That game has been and gone – nothing can be done about it. If we play to our strengths tonight and score enough goals to get us through to the Round of 16, it will be consigned to the past as a deep and distant memory. Simple, isn’t it?

Invoking the spirit of Big Raddy in 1970

Team News

There has been a bit of a Mugabe media lockdown at Arsenal over the last week. Probably best, since any attempt to appease supporters with ‘we’ll strive to put it right’ platitudes would only be met with abuse. The only place to make amends is on the pitch.

The team news made public so far is that Aaron is fit and in full training. Big Sok is also nearing a return – whether it’s in the Europa or for Sunday’s Prem game against Southampton, we shall see.

Maybe Unai’s press  conference will tell us more.

Press conference update – Mesut has been training well this week (?) and Ainsley M-N missed Wednesday training with sickness. 

Rambo’s return will definitely help to cover that creative shortfall we saw in the away leg. Could Mesut find favour again and both of them play? Doubtful perhaps, but could work as long as both don’t attempt to play in the same position..

One thing is for certain, Lacazette will not be featuring due to the Bate lad running into his elbow, which leaves Aubameyang  as our main threat.

Possible team

………………………………. Cech

Licht (if no A.M-N) … Shirley … Kos … Nacho

……………………..Terrier ………….Granit

………………………………..Rambo

…………….. Micki ……… Auba …….. Wobbly

As far as possible game scenarios go, the only way extra time and penalties will happen is if we are 1-0 up at 90 minutes. If Bate score first, we will have to score three times to counter their away goal.

In fact, a Bate goal at any point in the match might give cause for concern (unless we’re over the hill and faraway by that stage). Perhaps dead balls are the most likely source for the Belarusians.

Having said that, this game isn’t really about how Bate play but more about the level of performance Arsenal can produce. As LBG said, three up at half-time and we’ll be laughing.

Your score predictions in the comments, please.

chas