Arsenal – Atletico Preview: Ozil & Jack Back, Luis and Juanfran Out

Are the stars aligning to crown Wenger a man of destiny? The answer might lie on how determined his players are to do it for him. From little noises coming out of the camp they appear geared up to give their sweat and all for their departing manager. The test begins tonight at the Emirates Stadium and it’s good to remember that something as tame as a 0-0 at home and a 1-1 at the Wanda Metropolitano is enough to see us to the final in Lyon where the outcome is as good as a toss of the coin. The cup is so within reach yet still so far away.

Atletico Madrid is a mean-mean team. They have conceded the fewest goals of all teams in the five major European leagues. They, however, come to the Emirate without their 1st choice full backs in Filipe Luis, the Brazilian international and the experienced Juanfran. Trust Simeone to be well stocked in this department as in Hernandez and the young and pacy Vrsaljko he has able replacements. Their central pairing of Godin and Savic and their keeper Jan Oblak make up the rest of the fortress. If you haven’t heard of Jan Oblak, rated the best keeper in the world, please click the link below:

Their center has battle tested midfielders of which the star is obviously the left footed Saul Niguez. A ball carrier, he slices through opposition lines like knife through butter linking up play with their two strikers in their preferred 4:4:2 formation. The more prolific Antoine Greizmann is expected to pair with the dangerous Diego Costa.

Atletico sit deep and transition quickly. Arsenal build slowly and play the high line. It’s going to be a game of contrast in styles but don’t rule out the possibility of a tactical surprise.

Atletico are on also the road to qualifying for the Champions League via La Liga (6pts cushion with 4 matches left). For us the Europa League is our only remaining route. Would Atletico want it a little bit less tonight? Don’t bet on that. Simeone hates to lose. He is forever desperate for yet another victory, yet another cup to hold aloft. Obviously there are more nerves to overcome on our side but Simeone’s men would be spread thinner battling for glory on two fronts.

We already have an idea of the players Wenger is likely to send out for this clash. The West Ham encounter was a reheasal for the Atletico match. Ozil is back from illness. The big decision remains who of Wilshere, Iwobi and Maitland-Niles replaces injured Elneny. Maitland-Niles was completely at home in that central area when he came on against West Ham and his pace might come in handy against the speed of the Atletico attack. Nevertheless, I expect Wenger to go for experience and give the nod to Wilshere provided he has regained match fitness. Wenger might also maintain his traditition and return Ospina as the cup goalkeeper. Mkhitaryan, is coming back from injury and today looks early for even a bench role. A big shame that Aubamayang is cup-tied.

Expected line up:


Bellerin Mustafi Koscielny Monreal

            Xhaka         Ramsey

     Ozil        Wilshere      Welbeck


SUBS: Cech. Chambers, Holding, Kolasinac, Maitland-Niles, Iwobi, Nketiah.

This tough two-legged tie has one thing as clear as daylight; that Koscielny and Co on home turf could do with a 12th man.


By Pony Eye.

211 thoughts on “Arsenal – Atletico Preview: Ozil & Jack Back, Luis and Juanfran Out

  • Cheers PE 🙂

    Well done on the background info re AM. That is likely to be the line-up. Having said that, it is not likely to get us a positive result and I wonder whether Wenger will go for Holding instead of Mustafi (and Cech for Ospina). Up-front options are limited, very limited, with no Auba or Mkhi. Would not entirely surprise me if we start with Eddie.

  • Just get Ozil playing instead of Iwobi and everything should be fine. Welbs has been doing fine lately so it should be fine with him and Laca up front.

  • Looks good PE (and thanks!)– though injuries on both sides make the seer’s job harder predictable. If Diego Costa were a certainty to start? I might, like TA– prefer Rob Holding paired with Koscielny. I’ve seen lineups which include Kevin Gamiero up front (a return of 10/4 goals/assists; though almost all January or earlier).

    Welbeck is in good form. His energy and pace a concern for Simeone– who fields backup fullbacks on both sides of his back-4. Look for Lacazette to show Atletico what they are missing. Had AM not been transfer-banned? Laca and Griezmann might have been quite a tandem.

    I’m confident the team will respond with an impassioned effort. It’s backs-against-the-wall time. Historically, the time Arsenal finds something extra within, and offers up something amazing.


  • Great post PE, I’m going to the game tonight and reading your words got the pulse racing just a bit as I anticipate a superb night of tactical european football.
    I love these nights when Arsenal are the underdogs, it motivates the crowd and both the fans and the players feed off of each other.
    I wish that we were more resilient from a defensive perspective as I dread us conceding first, but we have to go for it at home, we can’t defend, we have no defensive midfielders and our manager is wedded to playing his game, so it’s shit or bust, attack and be damned.

    I’m actually looking forward to seeing some of the Athletico players in the flesh, Godin is a superb defender, Oblak I’ve not seen so I’m really keen to see him in action, Saul is a player we’ve been linked with so I’ll keep an eye on him and Griezmann is a Rolls Royce of a footballer, a player we should have signed ages ago, but Arsene did an Arsene and we lost him. That kind of thing won’t happen anymore with Sven running things as it never used to happen when David Dein ran the transfer negotiations.

    I don’t think we can afford to carry anyone tonight, all the players have to give their all, 110% and more, Lacazette will be keen to show Atletico what they missed out on, Xhaka must be switched on like the National Grid for 90 minutes, Mustafi needs to stay on his feet, Ramsey must be super disciplined (he’s my tip for an Arsenal goal), Wilshere will need to roll back the years and keep his temper under check as Atletico will indulge in some Argie style chicanery and target our players like Jack, Welbeck will give his all, he always does, we can’t afford to play Iwobi as this isn’t a game for fancy step overs that lead no where, Ozil will be targeted for special treatment so we can’t depend on him alone, others have to step up to the plate, it’s going to be fascinating, frustrating and I can’t wait….

  • And I think we’ll get a narrow win, 2-1, 3-1, 3-2…..

    We won’t keep a clean sheet, we haven’t the players to do it with a back-four and I can’t see Wenger going with a back-three.

  • I see. TA you want Holding there so old scores can be settled ….. diegocosta Diego Coata.

  • jk, Ozil is one of a few players who seem to play their best football after a prolonged rest. I hope am right, there.

  • jw, you are also keen on oldscores being settled. Mustafi must have bought over that contract. Watch, Costa wouldn’t know what hit him.

    Simeone seemed too glad to announce that Costa is fit to play. It might be a ruse to unleash Gamiero on us. That’s entertaining himself because we are focusing on our game.

  • Kev, yes …. the hearts a-thumping and your comments have made matters worse.

    Every one in our team have to show up today. Am only worried about Jack. His game has gone flat of recent. Hope that the 14(?) days rest would help him rediscover himself. Let’s not forget we are on a good run. The loss to Newcastle was out of a very bad schedule for us. We will win but I don’t see up to 3 getting past Oblak.

  • Yeah Kev!
    Got some goosebumps reading your thoughts– as PE did.

    Gotta’ pass on a drink– 9am here.
    Did find ‘reasons’ to work remotely from home today though. 🙂
    Earlier, also had the thought that it might be Ramsey getting the first goal. He’s been ‘switched-on’ of late.

    Have a great time Kev!


  • Hi all.. PE nice post..
    I think you may get another 11 /11.. Hehehe..

    For some old reason.. I don’t like Wilshere in the middle.. Ozil suppose to be there.. But without Mhiki and Elneny.. I can’t hope for more..
    Just think a 4-1-4-1 might be a good idea.. Hehehe..

    Please don’t ever wish Oblak and Saul playing well tonight.. Let’s hope they get their bad day ever.. Hehehe..

  • PE, if your insight on Atletico was intended to get the pulse racing, you couldn’t have done a better job.😃. I like it that way as it should suit us. The players should try to start fast for about 10minutes and if we haven’t scored, concentrate on keeping them out another 20 minutes. By the, pattern would have been formed and we can start to dictate things. I hold no fear for this Atletico side; for some reason, I feel their style is made for ours and I only wish we had Mkhitaryan’s bustling style to unsettle their full backs.

    I also thought the Diego to start story is a ruse. Kevin Gameiro was rested for this game and he’s the man to watch. If Costa plays, then there will be no surprises. I’ll go with Maitland-Niles as Elneny’s replacement because of his speed and ability on the tackle/intercept. He is also a quick lad, something we’d need to keep Saul Niguez in check. It’s going to be a good contest which won’t be settled tonight but we should take the tie. 🤞

  • Oh, and in the previous thread, I threw on Brendan Rodgers for good measure. He should be a contender for the role of Arsenal manager.

  • Well, it is 11/11 for PE’s predicted line-up. I hope Jack proves me wrong tonight; I’d love that.

    Gameiro also starts upfront with Greizmann, as I thought. Diego isn’t fit and Simeone only fooled himself on this one.

  • Arsenal:
    Ospina; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Welbeck; Lacazette
    Subs: Cech, Holding, Maitland-Niles, Kolasinac, CHambers, Iwobi, Nketiah

    Atletico Madrid:
    Oblak; Vrsaljko, Gimenez, Godin, Lucas; Correa, Thomas, Saul, Koke; Gameiro, Griezmann
    Subs: Werner, Savic, Gabi, Vitolo, Olabe, Torres, Costa

    So, Costa, Torres and Gabi have a chance to come on late. Let’s hope we don’t suffer injuries and don’t have to make any forced change(s).

    Come on, lads. Let’s do this!!!!

  • Wow… Good job PE… If Cech is on the bench I guess Ospina is our new #1… Seems loco to me, but so it goes… Same with Jack in MF, though he needs games now that his spot with England (in place of the Ox) has opened up… Or, maybe the former was just “sicker” than the latter last weekend… It probably is a step too far for AMN… I’ll never forget Gibbs blowing that goal vs ManU in the CL semis (in 2009 maybe) when he was about the same age and then having to be subbed at halftime…

    Anyhow, it’s a big game and I like Eris’ game plan… Just gotta stay in it for the return leg…

    That’s how out of it I am… I didn’t realized that Atleti had a new stadium(!!)… In truth, I think that could make the return leg a bit easier…esp. if we can bring a decent scoreline into it… In other words, PE, thanks for the well researched (and deadly accurate) preview….

    Back at game-time…

  • Good effort PE. I know AM better by reputation than actually watching them. Their line up isn’t fearful on paper. But their sense of team is what makes them. We have plenty of quality in our side, if not much left for the bench. They should be motivated. Can they use that and yet stay calm and clear thinking. I really hope so. But I don’t have any feel for how this might pan out. From a thumping to giving out the same, or anything in between. Just crossing my fingers a lot.

  • Actually HT–
    Wenger in his pre-match interview on FS1– stated he felt that Cech hadn’t fully recovered from what kept him from the Newcastle game. Whatever that was.


  • Same here AB per AM-by-rep.
    Atletico are 4pts up on Real (though Real a game in hand) in La Liga. Anyone, say what you like– but Real are are ‘for real’ at present in the CL.


  • Well of course he (Cech) hadn’t recovered… Wenger lies…to protect his players when they get dropped… Maybe PE is right and Cech’s been no good since 2006…

    Wow, that’s a lot of tin foil they gave out for the fans to wave…

    Still nil-nil, yes!! Haven’t kicked off yet, however… 😀

  • JK, it must be a crazy hour where you are…but… They just listed our bench and Iwobi will be needed, I fear…

  • Oh, I see. Of course, PE. Lol.

    All about getting over the nerves early….. game’s started. Sparring….

  • Lacazette hits the woodwork and then again, forced a great save off Oblak with a header. That should settle the fans and players.

  • Wow!! Inside 10 minutes and Atletico are down to 10 men. That would force them to defend now.

  • From the slow mo, it was deserved. Just changes the pattern now. I would rather have it at 11 v 11, at least for now, when we are on top.

  • Like I said earlier – I have no idea what to expect! I certainly didn’t expect this. What on earth will happen next.

  • GEEZUS… Atleti down to 10… This is woeful… The first one was a Jackie Dive (who pats him on the back on his way off)… which can only be yellow as a “professional fout.” The second one looks a stomp…

    Now, we can (and should) put them to the sword… What did those Chicago (frisbee) players used to say?… Bite off their heads and sh*t down their necks… More intense when the women’s team did it… 😮

    Simeone asked to take his haircut out of the technical area…


  • Did the ref lose it under the noise and passion of the home support? If so, I say well done…

    Oooh, Laca cannot finish what Giroud might’ve… We’re finding tons of room out wide with Atleti down to just one of their substitute FBs…

  • More Ooooohs… That was a nice slip in from Welbs… Rambo blocked…

    Jackie header on target… That’s all I’ll say…

  • We mustn’t forget that we can still be hit in the break. We will need to be patient.

  • THAT was some fine English leather… Welbs-Wilshere-Welbs but Oblak is good enough… From the Korner, no Kos on the half volley…

  • Oblak is determined to earn that transfer to Arsenal, tonight. We need to make the dominance count. If we don’t take the chances soon, we start to hurry our decisions. Athletic defend well, but a bit more accuracy and we could have been 3 up by now.

  • Laca tripped? Looked to go over with some style… Maybe a toe in the shin but too theatrical…even for this guy…(the ref)…

  • Ozil rushes the FK (type of) open curler… Our boys might be losing some patience too… Nothing changes, however, the key is the clean sheet…though it will feel like opportunity lost if we don’t score a pile…

  • Rambo steps in a Laca goes through but too wide and his chipped cross finds nobody… Whoa, Rambo in hard, but clean…

    Corner from Ozil…is good but Rambo can’t do much with the slim angled return shot… It took him a bit to get into the game, but he’s there now… I think…

  • Face-Raking with studs is not allowed… I’m liking this ref more and more…

    Half hour played and still nil-nil… A result (I must remember) I’d have taken in a heart-beat…

    Oooh, our best score (Nacho) can’t volley on target with his chocolate foot…

  • Ospina called into action…gets the job done… Uh, back into their half please…

  • Ospina, even if they say his name when he does it, isn’t much of a kicker… Kos on the other hand…or foot, even…

    I don’t want to jinx anything but we seem a far better defensive team with the boss in the line-up…

  • We’ve held in twice now. Ospina done us well. We need a goal or two. Obvious I know.

  • Now THAT’S what Ospina can do!!! Cat-like with the reaction save… Sh*te kicking from him put Nacho under pressure to set up the chance… Griez shoulda scored says the replay…

  • Granit… listens to the fans… And Atleti will take a few moments more off the clock…

  • Can Mustafi EVER just turn away from a whistle.
    The hands-up whining garners no sympathy.


  • Ospina does MUCH better with his feet there but Laca overhits trying to find Rambo…

    Luckily we still have the best (half-time) adjustment manager in the world…

  • Mustafi and the refs… Positively Draymond-esque… That’s another one for you JW… You didn’t bite on the Chicago Disc reference…

    Tight work centrally but no cigar…

    Griez down will settle things and waste more time….

  • Griezmann must have a condition of some sort– shin splints maybe?
    Cuz Xhaka never contacted the leg that Antoine writhed on the ground holding.


  • Not good there Skrodum… Does anybody else use a male private part in place of his first name?…

    Still time to notch one maybe…

  • Bells takes down a tough ball but can only win a corner… They’re flying in nicely but we can’t convert…

  • We didn’t see Windy City often HT– knew Mike O’Down pretty well, Mike Glass, Jose, a few others.
    Did have one my best games against them at a tourney in StL (in ’93 I think)– throwing for 7 goals in a half.

    But no. Didn’t know Jackie.


  • “Skrodum… Does anybody else use a male private part in place of …”

    Nope. But I did see TWolves PG Jeff Teague manage to foul Rockets SG Eric Gordon’s knee with his d*ck on Monday night. There’s that…


  • J-Dub, I’m not sure who Jackie is… I had some epic battles guarding that (shorter) guy who was famous for his, er, lifestyle…smoking, almost always with shirt off and girls around him when not playing… Somebody told me that he died quite young… Ah, now I remember the name… Dean or Dean-o or Dino (the dinosaur)… Also, I had to shut down (or guard) Tommy (Tuna, from St. Louis, I guess) when he started playing with them.

    This kid named Biscuit (real name?) came out to the Bay Area and played with us, easily becoming one of our best players. After my time, I think O’Dowd and some others joined the pipeline…

    OK 2nd half on… I expect goals…

  • OK, lunch is in me and J-dub doesn’t seem up for the disc-talk…

    6 mins played in the 2nd and our best moment is Xhaka going head to head with Lucas? Doesn’t look like we have an extra man, I fear…

  • Sorry HT– had to close all the windows/doors — as a mower started up next door!


  • I’m seeing some good play here… Unfortunately it’s a clinic (from Atleti) on how to play a man down…

    That’s my secret double anti reverse jinx… (Arsenal to score soon, in other words…)

  • Mower? First lawn care for me will be this week… Or maybe I can wait as rain/snow is in the forecast…

    Good improv and plenty intricate from Ozil and Rambo but still nothing doing…

  • That was inch perfect even with his head down from Jack… And Lacazette GOT UP!!!

    More please…

  • Sooooo good to see (Jack figure a way to) take it on his first touch…

  • Maybe the click-baiters AB.
    Nobody here though. 🙂

    Since returning from the injury layoff he’s been ‘money, baby’!


  • Wish we had some Ollie on the bench…

    WOWSA, that was a move from Mesut… Looked like the doubler but not yet…

    Again, I wish we had some bench here…

  • Gabi comes on for Gameiro, which looks like a move to calm things in midfield because Gabi is a fighter. We have to keep up the pressure now and get 2.

  • Yeah, I agree… Laca was likely carrying the injury for quite awhile there…while keeping quiet and soldiering on…

  • Now that was more good work from Laca… Danny, you’re not offside if your teammate is ahead of you… Heads up on that one and we double it…

  • Yup HT. he started fine but faded a little. Since his op he has been outstanding.

  • That was nice too… Ozil and Nacho…Nobody there but defender had to do well to avoid the OG…

  • BTW?
    Xhaka has been nothing short of brilliant in swinging the ball side-to-side (not unlike handling the disc vs a zone HT).


  • Too close to Oblak… And Laca, blocked, earns another… Not nearly so good…

    First time out of their half for quite a while but Bells and Nacho clean up nicely…

    Will we use subs tonight?

  • Yeah, but like a zone w/only one marker…

    Oblak looks to be giving plenty of confidence to his lines… In other words it’s still a clinic and Steve Bould (i.e., anybody but AW) would’ve had these guys scoring a dozen… Gooner’s (always) gonna find a way to turn (any) win into (a) loss… 😦

    Now if SIR Kronke can get us Oblak this summer we might be onto something…

  • If they are making defensive changes, the 75th will be the right time for us to make offensive changes. Kos, Xhaka or Mustafi off for Eddie or Iwobi.

  • I can’t see us wanting to change shape to go for a second, Eris, esp. given the away goals rule… Iwobi for one of the English guys (probably DW) would work for me…

  • Keeping a clean sheet crucial here. We can’t do anything silly at the back with our subs surely

  • 1-1! What was Koscielny doing there? He seems to get the heebies when certain players are about.

  • No whistle one end = no nacho… And Mustafi slips on his sac… (After Ospina did his job)…

    Wenger Out!!!!

  • Looked to me that Mustafi got on his horse at about the right time, J-Dub…but then slipped… Still got a knee to it… If he keeps his feet it’s a very difficult finish… He (along with Nacho)…both eased up when they wanted the whistle…

    Oooh Rambo close… Oblak off to a bigger club than Arsenal with THAT save…

    It was gonna be a (psychological) loss anyhow… Now, however, we’re cooked…

  • Sorry HT– disagree.
    He was not at full-speed with the ball still in the air and no one else close to defend.
    If he were– he might have arrived in time to do something not resembling panic.


  • God it feels harsh this. But we can’t say we weren’t warned and it’s not an issue we didn’t know. Sadly we haven’t converted as many of the chances at the other end. We always have a goal to gift the opposition in us I fear.

  • My English teach wife, says it’s, “With which to beat the corpse…” 😦

    Mkhi back for the 2nd leg? Otherwise, it’s the same clinic next week, I fear…

    Pardon my bad attitude…

    Rambo gets power on another header but very center of the target…

  • It’s a psychological loss now I fear. 1 nil would have been great once the disappointment of not scoring a hatful had faded. But letting it slip like this feels a total waste. Real downer.

  • I’ll have to go back and look at it again…re: Mustafi… My hunch is that it all started with wanting the ref to blow while Atleti played on…

    I hate to say it but Kos probably should’ve done better too… Ospina did his job but it–and Mustafi–fell kindly…

    Game over, er, full time…

  • Subs would have been nice. I think everyone tried hard. The one thing that really annoyed me was Wellbeck playing left wing. Every time he got the ball he cut back. One of the few times we got a cross in we scored grrrrr

  • Iwobi has crossed with his left foot, as I recall (twice vs So’ton, late on, as I recall)…

  • Can’t fault the effort of the players. Wenger couldn’t even make the decision to change anyone of them, apparently. Athletic defended stoutly, especially when they had to do it with 10 men (a place they’ve been many times), it made their objective better defined.

    They won’t defend so deep at home, hopefully and we may get some space to get a goal to make it a more open 2nd leg. This tie isn’t over by any stretch. Unfortunately, it will affect the thinking for Old Trafford visit.

  • Well they failed to smell blood when Atletico went one man down and later when they went one goal down. Too much of safe passing.

  • Just reran it HT. Twice.
    Mustafi actually let up as the ball came to turf–
    then tried to accelerate when the situation became clear.

    It was Antoine-effing-Griezmann playing a 10-man countering role.
    What other job does he have– but to put out any fires your partner might start?

    That– chaps my a$$.


  • Not having any subs is brutal… Not being able to break down a 10 man team is sad (though we must give praise to Atleti, I think)… Getting sucker punched…

    ….works for everybody…

    Losing IS winning. The lower we go (under the current manager) makes it that much easier for the next guy…and happier times for Gooners who “were right about Wenger.”

    SIR Kroenke might’ve been a bit too aggro getting rid of both Theo and Ollie back in January… (Even if it was probably Wenger being soft-hearted so his boys could have chances at the world cup…) Not having our transfers in (PEA and Mkhi) feels (felt…) like a deathblow…

    Ah well…

    Gotta disagree, ‘Eris, Atletico (no h… 😉 ) is a much better team given that (in January) our only addition (that we can use) was…subtraction…

  • Laca and Ramsey had enough hunger and the guts to match. Mkhi was very much missed.

  • OK J-Dub, I don’t even have to look at it to agree with you… Still, it’s a ball that we’d expect Kos to manage…

    Failure to concentrate (to the very end) is something Mustafi’s next coach will have to work into him… (Whether he’s at Arsenal or elsewhere)…

    I gotta disagree with you PE… Just not enough quality on the pitch…and none on the bench. Too much smelling blood and we’d have given up the clean sheet even earlier, I think. 1-nil would’ve been murder in the Goonersphere but actually pretty good, you know, in the real world. As it is, we now need to win 2-nil…and they get an extra player… 😮

    Not impossible, I guess, but I wouldn’t bet the house on it…

  • How does one measure “guts” and “hunger,” PE… I wish I had your eyes… Mine can only see “quality” and I think Laca and Rambo have a bit… Ozil too and I’d give a shout for Bells and Xhaka too… I’d also like to thank Jack for that assist which might’ve been the best quality moment of the whole match (on our end, at least)… Or was that guts?

    I believe our guys gave their best…(as they do every match)…it’s just not good enough to beat the team at hand…

    Who knows? 2nd leg we might get the calls (again) and the bounces and all the other forms of luck and then I’ll be wrong… Guts and hunger, I fully expect…for the manager who believes in them, they have NO CHOICE but to give it in return…

  • Is Europa still that kind of priority that we should risk getting trounced at Old Trafford. Too much pride involved there. Nobody can take kindly to a wide margin loss. Best to rest Kos, Ramsey, and Jack. Then best eleven is selected.

  • HT, neither can “quality” be measured. Anyway by guts I meant being able to risk it a bit more.

  • Ok HT–
    You’ve talked me back in off the ledge.
    Kos is initially out of position, but recovers well enough– regaining position.
    Maybe Kos of a couple years ago– no sweat.

    But– “this was a 70-yard ball (as US commentator Alexi Lallas put it) that everyone else in the stadium saw coming.”

    So I’ll leave it be with this:


  • I understand you have it in for Mustafi, jw1, but Koscielny was in control at a point before he appeared to sleep or simply allow Greizmann in too easy. That was when Mustafi started to race for the goal line but slipped at the wrong time. Koscielny should be doing better even if Mustafi should have sensed danger and not assume Kos had it covered.

    PE, I feel with the way Atleti were defending, we needed to stay patient and keep probing, while hoping our defence doesn’t concede. If we got a second, game was destined to end 3-0, but it wasn’t to be. We could go gung-ho and leave spaces at the back. Considering how we were given little chance against the visitors, they were well dominated and that wasn’t just down to playing with ten men. The tie is still there to be won.

  • Eris–
    It is Mustafi I’m down on. But it’s not a grudge by any stretch.
    But competing in many sports for nearly 50 years? What occurred– has always angered me. Analogous in every sport– is what Mustafi didn’t do. He didn’t hustle. He didn’t try as hard as could have. Maybe 90%? Not 100%.

    100%? Maybe the knee deflection becomes a block.
    Or, maybe Griezmann might have somehow still outclassed Mustafi 1v1 anyway. Then? I’d tip my hat to Griezmann (much as I did on Oblak’s save of Ramsey’s header late). But we’ll never know.


  • Eris, it’s all a question of balance and the balance differs depending on the field situation. One man down after only 10 minutes, imo, should warrant shifting the balance more in the offensive direction.

    One man down means a big dent in that team’s offensive shape (the area that is normally sacrificed) and that should have afforded a platform for us to be more adventurous going forward. I don’t mean going hung-ho.

    When Atleti went one man down and started sitting deep, we should have gone for a faster transition of the ball. They are riskier balls but with higher returns. Apart from the higher returns, the higher turnovers from the riskier balls encourage the opponents to come out thereby leaving spaces behind that our numerical superiority would benefitted from.

    Put in another way if an opposing team is one man down, the other team should find a way to entice an open game.

    Tonight, when they went a man down, we kept building play very slowly. The match was closer to a 0-0 than a score draw.

  • Hm.. felt like we were missing the spark needed against a 10-man Atletico.

    It looked like there was a foul on the build up to the equaliser. We should press harder, no?

  • What, PE? With all the chances we created? It should have ended 3-0. The visitors have been in this situation against Barcelona and Madrid and still survived without losing. It’s much harder playing against 10 good men than 11. What you saw as a slow build up of play was us trying to remain in control and on top. It’s another way to get your opponent to make mistakes but this is a well drilled team; it’s not coincidence that they reputedly have the best defence in Europe this season. If we play any faster and trip or lose possession in an inopportune situation, they will punish us on the counter.

    I think they were a bit lucky with their goal because Welbeck appeared to have been fouled. Maybe, some of the lads stopped playing.

    Up there, I meant to say Koscielny appeared to slip when he was still deciding what to do wit( the ball.

  • Eris–
    Picked up on what you meant with Kos.
    If a player makes a mistake– but did all he could?
    And bettered by his opponent? That’s going to happen.
    Antoine Griezmann could be at Barca next Fall– for good reason.

    I try to stay mindful of how players play when either pressure or stakes are high.
    In US sports– in our playoffs? If a player can’t deliver in a playoff game or a championship game under pressure? Why do you want him to be in that situation for your team again the next season?

    Maybe a young player– that you’ve invested lots of time and money into– might get further opportunities. But a guy who is a median player? And doesn’t perform under pressure? Find another guy.


  • Well a few folks are still at it…

    Sorry PE, I’m with Eris on this one… That being said, Arsenal are (supposedly) looking for their next manager, so you could always send in your CV… 😉

    A couple hours of doing other stuff–but, of course, still thinking about the match, and…I’m a bit more hopeful… No matter what, the Goonersphere would’ve freaked at any scoreline less than 4 or 5 nil…which we actually could’ve gotten, had the bounces–like the calls–gone our way (or Oblak made any sorta little stumble). As it is, in the return leg, we have the benefit of needing to play the (exact) same game. Everybody’s has written us off–including me(!) If we get the first goal (and we had chances when it was 11 v 11) then they actually have to come out…

    Psychologically we’re brittle–at both ends, but obviously worse at the back. Wenger will know this, let the boys put this to one side and let the attackers go for it while hoping for the best at our weaker end. On the road–in the elims of this competition–we’ve had a 2-nil win and a 2-2 draw, so I think it’s a different dynamic than our travels in England. In the latter match at Moscow we had the sort of lead we’d have liked after tonight and that one put folks through the wringer. This one will not contain that sort of (psychological) dynamic…

    The ONLY unfortunate (psychological) element is that (almost) EVERBODY knows that they’re the superior team… As Gooners should know, however… THAT means NOTHING… 😉

  • J-Dub… I’ve looked at the goal now… and… DW got fouled, Griez tugged Kos back (that’s one that would only rarely get called) AND he got three good bounces–off his own head (from Kos’ bicycle kick, off Ospina and off Mustafi… My conclusion? It’s a cruel game… But, he’s a good player who gave 100% after the first two bounces…and enjoyed a little dance after the 3rd one… Mustafi thought Kos was clearing it, saw that he wasn’t and maybe even pushed TOO hard for the block… The turf couldn’t take his 110% effort and down he went… 😉

    Folks of course, will say that you make your own luck and that’s probably true. I feel a bad atmosphere around the club–the same as others can note passion and pride and all that other stuff, so why can’t I?–hence the bad luck… Or, since he didn’t get the outright sack, it’s all Wenger’s fault… the winkys just keep coming

    That we couldn’t score more than the one is maybe down to quality problems… Can those be discussed?

    If they can, Mustafi is probably not top-top-top quality in a youngish CB. Same age as 75 million pound Van Dijk, so maybe he’s only worth 45 or 50… Maybe SIR Kronke can take the profit and let him play somewhere where the “support” doesn’t hate him… Maybe under Wenger at PSG?… OK, that’s probably a stretch… 😉 The cocktail hour is upon us, I fear… so…still more winkys…

  • Eris, I respect the way you see it different from me. That’s exactly why managers are different. If am one man superior I’d do everything to stretch the field. From point of view of expending energy am at an advantage because they will expend more individually. Ditto covering spaces. Ditto enjoying over-loads. And one of the ways of stretching and opening the field is end to end. On the balance of probability that stands a far better chance than using a system that permits immovable buses parked.

    I accept yours is valid too. Controlling the game. Be patient. Nick a goal and close shop through possession.

    Just that I prefer mine.

  • HT, unfortunately the BoD ain’t bright enough to understand my philosophy so the wouldn’t hie me 😜.Also the fans would yell that am past it.

    We could still qualify. We play better when we trail (narrow trail) in a game. In such situations we remember to off the handbrakes.

  • Hi all..
    We just so unluckily not to win by three goals and ended with draw..

    ATM really know what a great GK is..??
    One already goes to MU.. Other to Chelsea.. I wish this one come to Emirates.. Hehehe..

    We don’t make any change.. It’s because some of our best players were injured.. But all did their best.. Wilshere did good.. Ozil still okay, whether I feel he will be more effective in the middle.. Hehehe..

    We still can win this game.. We proved it in several games before.. We beat Munchen twice in Allianz Arena.. With Mhiki back.. We will be more mobile and lethal.. Hehehe..

  • Against a weaker or disadvantaged team a 55% to 45% possession ratio rate is so much healthier for the dominant team than a 76% to 24% rate. The latter is actually falling into the trap of the disadvanged team.

    The onus is on the dominant team to find a potent tactics to get the other teams to ” get more” into the game. Otherwise the system of high press (defending from the front) must be vigorously implemented aka Klopp and Pep. With a successful high press in place, there is less fear about turnovers and therefore greater incision in the final third.

    We have great players all over the field. It must be the system letting us down. Please note that am using the whole season as a sample, not necessarily last night that could be that the gods were simply not on our side.

    I reiterate that we can still qualify for the finals. But our chances would be enhanced if we seek a bit less refuge in possession.

  • HT–
    90% +110% / 2 = <100%
    We saw that that math doesn't work.
    But you are correct that you make your own luck.
    And you do that by not giving up or giving in for a moment.

    The foul on Danny? He was 1-on-3. He tried to push the ball between two defenders– and hop through the gap. I thought, yes, probably a foul– but didn't get too upset when it wasn't called.

    10 seconds and– 3 make-your-own-lucky-bounces later– I was enraged. Because one of our CBs reacts slower than he should sometimes– and he switches-off at other times– if only for a most crucial moment.

    TransferMarkt has this valuation of Mustafi:
    Current market value: 28,00 Mill. €
    Last change: Jan 2, 2018
    Highest market value: 30,00 Mill. € Oct 24, 2016

    Smart Sven should sell when a 24-year-old depreciates in these times.


  • Just catching up, so many comments, not had time to read them all.

    What a fantastic atmosphere at the stadium, nobody can blame the fans this time, the place was rocking. What a shame we didn’t have a Giroud or Walcott to come on, especially with so many good crosses into the box, an obvious tactic. Our squad is quite weak, a couple of injuries and we’re down to the bare bones.

    With 10 minutes remaining maybe we should have settled for 1-0, been a little more cautious, especially with our defence which always has a major muck up in it.

    We got away with it against weaker sides earlier in the competition, but Atletico showed us the level we need to attain, going down to 10 men and playing as they did was a brilliant example of defensive discipline, quality and resilience, I was so impressed by Godin and Oblak, that’s how you need to defend in Europe.

    As for the Athletico goal, I agree with JW, Mustafi should have been sprinting to cover Koscielny and to get back onto the goalline, when he had to suddenly speed up he slipped on our over watered pitch, the pitch was heavily watered at half time.
    There was a huge element of luck as well as poor technique in their equaliser, Koscielny didn’t need to do anything but shepherd Greizmann away from the goal, his botched clearance gave the French forward that small opportunity and he rode his luck as the ball deflected through Opinas legs and as Mustafi slipped due to his lack of anticipation it just gave Greizmann that split second to squeeze his shot home.
    Unlucky for us but a goal that we could and should have prevented.

    Compare that defending with Athleticos and you can see how far we have to go in that regard.

    Oblak was magnificent, worth every penny of his buy out clause, he’ll end up at one of the really big ambitious clubs because the fee required for him is €100m, that’s what you need to pay these days for the very best, but as much as we could do with a player of his quality, we’ve got no chance of getting him.

    Arsenal gave their all, you couldn’t have asked for more effort, more energy, more passion even, but we weren’t quite good enough, it was like watching England, just lacking that bit of quality you need to tip the balance. Lacazette on another day could have had a hat trick, our midfield was fantastic, Wilshere gave probably his best performance of the season, he is going to be one hell of a bargain signing in the summer.

    Welbeck worked his arse off, although there were a few times when we got into dangerous positions with nobody in the box, a common fault with the way we play, if only Danny had been on the end of some of those crosses instead of being on the wing, but that’s a coaching issue.

    Bellerin and Monreal were fantastic, how any fans can criticise Hector is puzzling to me, he is a great player, some better defensive coaching and he’ll be world class.

    Ramsey and Xhaka gave everything, I thought they were magnificent, Aaron should have gave us a 2-1 lead near the end, but Oblak was again world class as he tipped a certain goal away for a corner.
    Xhaka needs some work on the training ground with his shooting, he has it in him, all it needs is some extra coaching perhaps? The kind of extra work that Bergkamp insisted on doing, that’s why Dennis was so good, he knew what worked for him despite what the coaches may have told him.

    All is not lost, we showed that we can take Athletico on, but the Spaniards have a fantastic record at the Wanda, I don’t think they’ve conceded at home for 9 or 11 games, so we need to do something miraculous against a team that’ll have Costa back in front of a raucous home crowd.

    Can Arsenal score two goals in the Wanda?
    That’s what we’ll need, a 2-1 win or 2-2 draw.
    It’s not beyond us despite our defensive frailties, Mkhitaryan should hopefully be available from the bench so we’ll have a quality option there.
    Extra time and penalties?
    Ospina the hero?
    Keep the faith.

  • We had all in our hands – 80 minutes 11 v 10, a 1-0 lead, Atletico without first pair of full-backs and Diego Costa, a complete control of the game – before we decided to do hommage to that 1-1 draw against Roma 15 years ago. For those who don’t remember, Vieira put as ahead early in the game and Totti got a red card before half an hour of the game. It should have been an easy game until the end, especially given that we had beaten them in Rome 3-1 but it ended 1-1 instead as Cassano scored an equalizer.

    Atletico have lost once at home this season – 1-2 to Chelsea – and that game is the strongest argument that this tie is not over. This is the first of four knockout ties for us this season in which we don’t have advantage after the first leg (second, if we count Chelsea in League Cup) which should keep us awake in the second leg as we were caught early by all Ostersunds, Milan and CSKA respectively.

    I’m afraid we have spilled the best chance to go through though. We should have scored three or four goals last night against outnumbered opponents or at least keep a clean sheet. Mkhitaryan’s return is my biggest hope, provided that he would be sharp enough to make a difference.

  • Kev–
    What a fine first-person report– thanks.
    When I saw and heard the din from inside the stadium on the TV– I thought about you first– honestly! (Got goosebumps typing this right now.)

    So– I’m not dismayed by the obstacle of having to go into Atletico’s den to win.
    The team, we supporters and fans– need to accept that: It is– what it is– now.

    I felt our approach to Atletico’s parked bus was spot-on– given our available personnel. We created chances against a 10-man defense last night. We’ll do so again next week. Our guys will simply have to beat Oblak twice.

    Simeone is going to pack it in again and hope for a 0-0 draw to win. With that defense– it’s his M.O.
    I’m not afraid of Diego Costa in a game like this. Griezmann, yes, obviously. But Costa isn’t going to beat us countering. He doesn’t have the speed, and he’s not going to be at match fitness for 90 minutes by next week. I’ll bet he start’s Gamiero again– and only bring on Costa if they are chasing a goal.

    Question? Is the young FB that was red-carded automatically out for next week’s second leg?


  • @jw: Yes, Vrsaljko is out. When he was a young FB at D Zagreb, I imagined him in the Arsenal colours. He looked like a typical Wenger-gem, with pace and stamina at the age of 17. We had Bac back then.

  • Cheers JW, it was a great occasion last night, notwithstanding the result, it just goes to show that if you give the Arsenal crowd something to get excited about that they’ll respond.

    There is another scenario though, Atletico could possibly get caught up psychologically in defending that away goal as a 0-0 is good enough for them. So do Arsenal go full pelt or should we go three at the back and focus on not conceding as a 1-0 is good enough for us?

    And don’t forget, for some inexplicable reason our away form has been really very good in the UEFA Cup this season.

    There’s always hope mate…

  • Thanks for the match report, Kev. I thought we played really, really well but lacked a bit of luck with the bounce of the ball all game long and then AM got three lucky bounces in one go that led to their goal. That is football. I thought Lacazette was magnificent: what a ferocious fighter and a goal Giroud would have been proud of. Fecking love him.

    The good news is there is a second leg and we should be getting the bounce of the ball this time round. I much rather Arsenal need to avoid losing and scoring at least once in order to go through than us going through even if we were to lose by one or two goals. The objective is clear: we need to score at least once to win. My fiver is on the game finishing 2-2 and the mighty red and white going to Lyon.

  • The 1-1 draw might actually help in clarifying out strategy for the return leg. One goal advantage is known to be the toughest to defend. It puts a team in a double mind viz to defend the lead or to attack for more cushion. Now it’s clear what we must do.

    Mkhi for Welbz will give us a lot more punch for goals. If Juanfran is not back from injury by Thursday that would mean their 1st two RB choices out. We would need to target that side.

    There is still a lot of hope.

  • Kev, nice on-site report. I feel you have allowed the generally preponderant buzz to “blame it on Mustafi”, which must have pervaded the stadium, influence your take on their goal. As a 2nd centre back, if my captain and experienced CB has managed to get in front of the attacking player, I would only need to open up to give him the option of a pass to me or the GK (who will prefer me to be far away from him enough to allow a safe pass out), not race to cover the keeper for an imaginary potential danger.

    Mustafi fully (and rightly so) expected Koscielny to deal with the situation and while he made a great effort to redeem the situation, he slipped, otherwise he would get the block. Koscielny is at fault for this one, every time you look at it, but it can happen as Greizmann is a clever player who knows how to nudge defenders (he fouls defenders a lot) and maybe, Koscielny knew this and went for the cycle kick clearance as against the back pass.

  • As for the second leg, it will be a fight in a raucous arena. Make no mistake about it, Atleti will try to go for the win early; first few minutes up till the 20th, will be difficult for our lads. If we navigate that period successfully, we can have the same dominant display we had at the Emirates and get the result we need.

    We can create chances against this side, anywhere (even easier on their turf). Trouble is if we will take them.

    PE, no one is touching Welbz as a starter, mate. It was hard for the manager to even make a change. He had an eye on Old Trafford (likely to see most of those on the bench last night there) and everyone was playing well. Only change I see is one of the midfielders to come off for Mhki who can interchange with Welbeck and Ozil. I only hope he is ready for such a grind. Oh, and Ozil will be targeted for some rough treatment.

    Contrary to concerns, I repeat we played well and dominated the so-called favourites. Now, they know how good we are. Hopefully, it makes them self conscious at home.

  • Maybe Eris, but from where I was standing at the other end of the stadium it just looked like a collective muck up. It was only when I saw the goal on the screen that I thought that Mustafi should have reacted quicker.
    The main culprit was Koscielny.
    If you look at games with our old defence, one thing you’ll notice is how often our defenders covered for each other and how often they got back on the line to clear the danger, it’s something they had drilled into them.

    Anyway, for those in the UK, have a look on ITV4 for Chelsea vs Arsenal in the 1st leg of the FA Youth Cup tonight, 7.45 ko

  • Yep great report Kev. The boys did their best and it’s never easy against 10 men. But it wouldn’t be Arsenal if we didn’t make it difficult for ourselves.

    Just off topic a little, saw a great documentary today called The Feud, Ferguson v Wenger. It confirms to me that Paul Scholes is a complete Wxxxxer along with the Neville Brothers.

    The Neville brothers were saying how they kicked the hell out of Reyes and then said what a disgrace it was when Fàbregas threw Pizza at Ferguson. Grrrrrr

    Worth a look if you can catch it sometime.. Martin Keown should be given a Knighthood.

  • Yeah, I saw that Retsub, very interesting, no surprise about Reyes and the rotational fouling, we knew it at the time, only the referee didn’t it seemed.

    Arsenal team tonight :
    Thompson, Medley, Ballard, Daley-Campbell,
    Smith, Burton,
    Amaechi,Smith-Rowe, Olayinka

  • Eris, I never intended to reduce Welbz contribution. My thinking is ….. Mkhi produces greater incisiveness than Welbz in the final third. This is even more important against teams that sit deep.

    I wished you named the midfielder Mkhi should replace on Thursday. Obviously not Xhaka, Rambo or Ozil. That leaves Jack. So it boils down to either Welbz or Jack. Jack sits deeper and I prefer Mkhi further up. That’s why it’s Mkhi for Welbz for me.

  • Arsenal are under a lot of pressure, Chelsea look confident, Arsenal look nervous.
    Chelsea dominant, they should be 2 goals up after only 7 minutes

    Chelsea haven’t conceded in the FAYC this season so far…

  • Amaechi almost scored on the break…
    Good play by Arsenal

    Smith-Rowe looks quality

  • Chelsea miss another great chance, but Arsenal are getting to grips with a very strong Chelsea team.

    I’d like to how Chelsea would react to going a goal down?

  • Matt Smith his midfield partner is good.

    32mins, great save by Virginia, he looks strong and composed.

    Burton and Smith are really good.
    Calm under pressure

  • 36min, quality goal, Burton to Smith-Rowe, beautifully weighted pass to Amaechi who chipped over the goalkeeper…
    1-0 to the Arsenal

  • Eris, Kev–
    Want to say I value both of your opinions on ‘The Mustafi Incident’. Both viewpoints are valid, and make sense. And yes, there is no doubt that Koscielny is the one who ought have eliminated the danger initially.

    But also want to show you an example of what a great player does with acute situational awareness. It’s baseball, so please bear with me. This is a play in Game 3 of the best-of-5 2001 American League Divisional Series (between the New York Yankees– and HT’s Oakland Athletics!) winner of this series has the opportunity to advance to the World Series (by winning the next series, which NY did.) . New York led this game just 1-0 — and won by the same score– also winning the series 3 games to two.

    I consider this among the greatest plays ever– in any sport.
    (Note that I despise the New York Yankees as if they were the Sp*rs.)

    The player, shortstop Derek Jeter ran almost 30m from his normal position to field an offline throw to Home plate– then flip the ball to catcher Jorge Posada who tagged out the Oakland baserunner Jason Giambi.

    Derek Jeter was only in this position– to make this incredible play, because he did imagine the possibility– probably 5-6 seconds before it occurred.

    Had Jeter assumed the throw from the outfield would be good and not acted?
    The Yankees would have been tied in a 1-1 game.
    Hard to say what might have occurred after that.


  • HT; 1-0

    Chelsea have been wasteful and long may that be the case.
    Arsenal are growing in confidence, pity is Balogun is missing as he’s ill and he’s quite a dangerous player.
    Chelsea are still dominant but Burton and Smith have regained some control of midfield whilst Chelsea are increasingly going long ball.

  • Great hand-eye co ordination there a JW.

    Chelsea look more muscled up than the Arsenal boys.

  • Great chance for Arsenal, Olayinka to Daley-Campbell, great cross, nobody there.
    Chelsea almost score.

    Burton cautioned, a bit soft.

  • Terrible off side decision, John-Jules with just the keeper to beat, was flagged and he was almost 2 feet onside when the pass was made…

    Arsenal coming back after sustained Chelsea pressure.

    Arsenal sub; Smith-Rowe off for Trae Coyle.

    Chelsea have made two subs so far.

  • Amaechi fouled, no booking, that’s two Chelsea players who should have been booked.

    From our free kick Chelsea break and equalise on 66th minutes

  • Chelsea dominating again, Arsenal defending well, feeding on scraps up front.
    Ballard and Medley are defending resolutely

  • I think we actually played very well yesterday. Any other day and with a little bit of luck, we could have won with 3 or 4 goals. One thing for certain though, that team sure knows how to defend properly and on top of that, they have a really awesome goalkeeper. Regardless, I still think we will win in Madrid next week, 2-1 (Monreal and Ramsey to score). At least that’s what my invisible fancy Arsenal crystal ball is telling me. 😁

    Anyway, here are some of my observations from yesterday’s game:

    1. We were too patient in the build-up, taking too long to from side to side to back to front again (repeat over and over). That simply afforded them just enough time to regroup and get in their defensive shape. And with a team like Atletico, there was no way to penetrate that defense through the middle and score (although we did try our hard). For the return leg, I’d like to see us move the ball super fast through perpetual movement of our front 3 and the midfield. Something similar to how Liverpool score a lot of their goals, from their own to the opponent’s nets in about 20 seconds. Not too much fooling around going from side to side all game long. We have the technical players to make those killer through-ball passes and the strikers to finish, so let’s go for it. We’ve got nothing to lose now. We need goals (at least 2)!

    2. We really need either (or both) a new solid no-nonsense CB or a new Manager who can coach mistakes and panic out of our often fragile and inconsistent defense. Most of the game, they did so well and the only one real chance/shot on goal that Atletico had in the second half, our defense conceded and it was so unnecessary. Very annoying.

    3. We badly need a proper, fast winger who can beat a fullback one v. one. Welbeck has so many chances to take on a makeshift fullback but kept coming (and dribbling) inside on his right foot. With his pace, why can’t he have a go at the “right-back”, beat him and cross with his left foot? He needs to look at it as a personal challenge and do better next week in this department.

    4. This was a game that had our little magician SANTI CAZORLA’s name written all over it. We definitely could have used him yesterday and won the game handily with him. Once Atletico became compact and stubborn to get through after the red card, I started imagining Santi easily tearing them apart with his close controls, dribbling through and around 3-4 defenders trying to tackle him in vain and slicing them like a hot knife through butter with several perfectly weighted through-balls creating chance after chance. Not to mention his inch-perfect long balls with either left or right foot, and his softly delivered set pieces. How I truly miss that fantastic little footballer…! One of my all time favorite players for sure. The sight of him running again on the pitch before the game was extremely encouraging. I can’t wait to see him come back to the pitch next season and do his thing, hopefully with Arsenal, if he can prove his fitness. “Oooooohhhh Santi Cazoooorrrla….”

    5. Except for the missed scoring opportunities and the ONE stupid mistake at the back, we did very well. Let’s repeat this performance next week with extra determination, confidence, ruthlessness, and resolute defensive commitment.

    We don’t need to play our stars this weekend against Manchester United (I can’t believe I am saying this, but this is a meaningless game for both teams, and that is really something this season…). Our second unit are well suited and can handle it. This is a game I’d be willing to totally overlook if it meant our star players could rest up and prepare for the ultimate battle in Madrid.

    Go Gunners!

  • Arsenal are looking very tired, Chelsea look fitter and stronger.

    Cross into the box, Medley messes up his clearance and Chelsea score 1-3

  • Final score Chelsea 3-1 Arsenal…

    Arsenal were winning until Smith-Rowe went off, apparently it was tactical….
    We missed Smith as well when he went off.

    Referee didn’t help us, but then I’m biased….

  • Agreed Kev re Ref and the bizarre substitution of S-R who did well to keep hold of the ball and allow his fellow players to move up and into space to receive the ball. The GK impressed and also our nr4 – I thought that was Fabregas on the pitch!

    Team looked physically behind the Chavs and they paid for it at the end. Not impressed with the second half tactics though.

  • Yes Total, why take off our most influential player, he had Chelsea constantly worried.

    The Chelsea team all looked physically more developed than our lads, but I guess physicality can only take you so far, technically I don’t think that there was anything in it, Chelsea just looked fitter, which is odd…

  • A real shame to give that third goal away which looked like tiredness to me. The Chelsea players looked quite a bit older on average and I thought they played better as a team in terms of positioning and finding each other with passes,

  • Thanks for the commentary, Kev. I was looking forward to that game. Chelsea have been very good this season in the U-18s and U-20s, as always it seems. Let’s hope we have some players back for the 2nd leg. It’s a chance for a trophy which can do the spirit in these boys a lot of good, as they reach the bend into their pro careers as first team players.

  • PE, FairPlay to you. What I had in mind was for both Welbz and Mhki to flank Laca. Ozil to play his usual No. 10 role with Xhaka and Rambo in a double DM pivot. On his form yesterday, Jack would be missed, though but he’s one more likely to be dropped.

    Kev, we could throw on Nelson and Willock for the second leg of the FA youth cup, no?

  • Not sure Eris, as I reckon that they’ll be involved the previous day in Manchester.
    It’s a shame the way the fixtures have fallen for us.

  • Eris–
    We played well. Almost of the mind to leave things be.
    Not sure if it’s Jack who should be dropped– to accommodate Mkhi’s return. If Simeone does look to win with a clean sheet? Jack’s could be integral to picking the AM lock. Did appreciate Danny’s crosses as we laid seige. IMO Mkhi can do that, more too, with greater left-foot precision. Mkhi starts, Danny comes on when required?


  • Busy day yesterday so just catching up with the comments… And A-Kev is correct, when people do a bit of “live-blogging” (as he did for the youth FA Cup) the comments add up fast… IMO, it’s a bunch of fun when you get folks giving their immediate and unvarnished thoughts on what they’re seeing…

    That being said, I am EXTREMELY appreciative of the man-at-the-match perspective. Big thanks there, Kev…

    Then there’s the opposite (to live-blogging), taking a play that happened in a matter of seconds and breaking it down in all sorts of different ways (and from every conceivable angle)… That’s football, I guess. The matches turn on these moments so analyze them (to death) we must… Or Must(afi) we?… I will say this: those vids J-Dub put up hit home. IMO, Mike Judge is a genius (and “King of the Hill,” along, perhaps, with “Office Space” is his masterwork.) I haven’t really worried about baseball too much but I do think Jeter did well on that play and in building a strong career through professional preparation on top of his natural gifts. The last baseball game I attended, in fact, was his last game in Oakland, but the guy who REALLY impressed me that day–and whose career I probably respect even more– was, or is, Ichiro. 44 years old and still at it, wow… JW and I should probably apologize for all our off-topic talk, even if the second round of the hoops begins tonight…

    Back to the football…

    For me it comes down to this: the more I think I know, the less I know I don’t know… That’s my latest conclusion, at least, so no pretending at tactical ideas or even critiquing our players too much. In the end, when it comes to the first team, I do believe we have a chance back in Madrid but it’s a slim one, esp. as we (essentially) are out of midfield options. Sorry, but if Mkhi didn’t make the bench this past Thursday, he’s done (for the season). I stand to be corrected, maybe, if he plays at Old Trafford. Elneny? Same thing, I fear.

    So, who plays tomorrow?

    Wrap ’em in cotton wool right? I have to say I was SHOCKED this morning to wake up and turn on the Liverpool-Stoke and immediately see Mohamed Salah in the middle of a Shawcross-Zouma sandwich, esp. as I had thought (and written) that Roma’s best (and only) chance of reaching the CL final was an injury to (magic) Mo… Am I smarter than Klopp? Probably not…

    So, play the 11 who will need to go in Madrid?…Or at least not worry about rest and protection from injury? The great thing about our situation is that it’s not Klopp, it’s Wenger, so, no matter what he does…

    He’ll be wrong… 😦

    Which, I think, must make this a fine (fine) time to be a Gooner… 😀 Or something…

  • Hey J-Dub… Happy weekend… If Steph is 50-50 for game 1 vs the Pelicans, I’m betting Mkhi is 5-95, though I’d love to be wrong…

    From Thursday, the play that killed me about DW was his lack of a Jeter-esque push into goal when Lacazette fizzed that ball across the face of goal… Also, I’m blaming him for the goal against… The ref (likely) didn’t give the whistle knowing that he’d fooled them in the Milan match. Keep Mess-taphi; Sell D.(ivey) W… That’s my message to SIR Kroenke this summer…


  • Hi 17tino, it’s difficult doing a live blog thing in real time, but fortunately my TV can pause live action, gives me a chance to type with my index finger then continue to watch, it’s a big help, glad you enjoyed it, but respect to you for your efforts.

    Btw, via Jeorge Bird tweets:

    Mavropanos and Osei-Tutu trained with first team. Latter deserves first team opportunities and could become back up to Bellerin 1 hour ago
    Elneny back in individual training already 1 hour ago
    Nelson, Nketiah and Willock trained with first-team. Mkhitaryan in full training. 1 hour ago

  • Thanks Kev… for the insight into your “process”… Truth be told, since I can’t put faces to the (youth team) names, I was mostly just appreciating your enthusiasm for the kids…

    What I really enjoyed was your in-stadium review… It’s really nice that you can appreciate both Bellerin AND Wilshere. The former sent in some fantastic crosses early on, but our targets were lacking (oh Ollie, big Ollie, how I miss you…) so then he did some good pull-backs and enough 1 v 1 stuff to please me… On that note, Kolasinac as a left wing option crossed my mind… (There’s a signing (140K/wk) that hasn’t paid off…at least not yet… Was that a Wenger or a Sven?… Hmmm… Or maybe Nacho has just played too well over there?…)

    Jack’s assist blew my mind, because he’s really got a skill for running onto balls and doing good (or phenomenal…) things with that left foot of his…and there it was. That said, I think a LOT of what folks see as our overly conservative side to side play happens when Jack is the middle-man and doesn’t have a clear idea for a one-touch play. In my view, if the instinctive stuff isn’t there, he’s got to get his left foot onto it (and then have a look around) and that takes time. With Atleti giving us the outside channels, it was awfully tight through the middle so not much time for that sort of stuff…

    Kev, are you agreed (with me) that he doesn’t seem one that SIR Kroenke (i.e., Sven, Ivan, Raul and the owner) is looking to retain… Wasn’t there some news out that Jack “already knows” what his future plans entail… Doesn’t sound so good for the folks who still want him at our club…

  • Also (if you’re still there Kev…or anybody else)…

    Who is gonna be England’s #1 in Russia?…and why is the biggest guy (Fraser Forster) sitting on the bench while Southampton can’t get out of the relegation zone?… I remember him playing in Oblak-esque (De Gea-esque?) style against us a couple of years ago… Or maybe he’s why So’ton are down there in the first place…

    I guess we’ll get to see Nick Pope in the big 6-pointer (for 6th place… 😮 ) when Burnley come to town for Wenger’s last (home) match next Sunday…

  • Sorry 17tino, was watching the results programme on TV – lazy day at home…

    I really cannot understand all the negativity surrounding Bellerin, he seems to divide opinion and I really don’t know why?
    I think he is a superb footballer who is often left to patrol our right wing on his lonesome, I think he does a great job.

  • As far as Jack is concerned, yes, I agree, I think the club know how popular he is, so have made him an offer that he is certain to refuse, thus they don’t look the bad guys.

    Jack needed to score more goals, it’s quite an important facet of the game that he lacks.
    Take away Ramsey’s goals and would he be seen as as valuable an asset?
    I’m not sure he would be….

    But I think the club are looking at different player types now….

  • I agree with what you’re saying about Ramsey, who I definitely think is our most sale-able asset in the coming window… He can also play a bit of defense (American spelling) whereas Jack seems Ozil-esque (or even a step lower) in that regard… In my opinion… Both, unfortunately, have poor fitness records, with Jack’s, of course, being substantially worse…

    With all the young guns coming up–and thus (maybe) no trouble with rosters and home-grown player rules, I’m wondering if it’s the end of the (old) Brit-core at Arsenal… You would know (much) more about this, I figure…

    So’ton win their match and so do WBA so still no clubs (officially) relegated…

  • I’ll lead with an opinion on Hector.
    He may have had the most difficult time re-adapting post-Alexit. His side of the pitch was mostly neglected during Sanchez’s time at the club– more so as time went by. I reaaly think we’re seeing him re-emerge from his cocoon (exile?) offensively. He’s been better at the weeks have passed since January.


  • As far as Jack?
    He’s made is way– earned his way back into consideration as a first-teamer. But it can’t be guaranteed any longer– from either side– himself or club, that he’ll have a starting spot. Club attitude has changed– and Jack still carries the “Scarlet I” for injury.

    I appreciate Jack for his effort– his heart. Jack should sign now. Insure against the future. No matter his role going forward at Arsenal– he makes the team better. Right now, it’s about building quality depth at Arsenal. Wherever Wilshere fits in– is good for both he and the club.


  • HT–
    If you recall my NBA predictions early-on?
    GSW need be wary of N’awlins. Pelicans are built for playoff physicality. Know I really like Steph Curry personally. Destined as an all-time great. It’ll be Curry’s decision to play/not play (not Kerr’s). If he needs a few more days to recoup, reattain the edge he needs– he should wait. Playoffs are a marathon. And there’s rarely time to get well after they start– when Curry does start playing.

    As well recall, my Western Conference dark horse pick were Utah. They still have that Jerry Sloan-hard-nosed-blue-collar defense about them. They could beat Houston. Best-of-7 series become a grind. The Jazz can grind. My Rockets only played as well as they are able– for about 5 or six of the quarters in the five games vs Minnesota– and still won 4 games.


  • @jw1: can Harden lead Rockets to the title? LBJ has been struggling to conquer Eastern Conference and Curry’s fitness is a MJ’s baseball adventure – a chance for everyone else.

    Have a soft spot for Rockets since the days of Barkley, Drexler and Hakeem. Barkley couldn’t win the ring, sadly, even when Pippen joined.

  • I think yes, he can Admir.
    Harden is the engine, Chris Paul the head and heart.
    Rockets’ 3-point shooting is (usually) phenomenal at 36% averaging 15+ made per game.

    The player who keeps defenses honest is Clint Capela. A 6′-10″ 23-year-old whose quickness and soft hands have many likening him to Hakeem. His rapport with Harden on the pick&roll/alley-oop– I’ve never seen it done better.

    Rockets (15-6) vs all other playoff teams this season:
    4-0 vs Utah
    3-1 vs N.O.
    2-1 vs GSW
    0-2 vs Toronto
    1-1 vs Philly
    2-0 Cleveland
    1-1 Boston
    2-0 Milwaukee


  • Hey JW–and Admir… Yeah, let’s talk hoops… (I’m slowly trying to transition to becoming a coffee blogger–I need help with my roaster–but those guys are TOO intense… 😀 )

    I gotta say…that I’m awfully impressed by the talent coming up in the NBA these days… Oladipo and Mitchell… Wow! (DeRosan and Simmons over there in the East, too… Though I’m very sad that the best of the smaller guys, Kyrie Irving, is out…) Maybe even more impressive than all those big guys who move SO well… The Uni-brow, The (Greek) Freak, Joel Embiid… These playoffs seem (almost uniquely) VERY open and I have to pace myself with what I watch (or I get in trouble on the home front)…

    LBJ was a US president so I haven’t seen that one yet, Admir… Call me a conservative (about the NBA playoffs at least…) but until Bron-Bron goes out or the Dubs really can’t get (close to) 100% out of (all of) their top 4 guys…that’s still the Finals I’d expect. That said, it’s a different game than it was back in the era of Sir Charles, et. al… even if he (and his fellow gigantaur, Shaq, doing commentary) refuse to believe it…

    Back to the football. Agreed about Jack… Legend at Arsenal (or at least always a sense of hope for Gooners on the bench or in the physio room) vs. Mo money and playing time and relegation battles elsewhere? I know what I’d do, but I’d also let my hair grow and maybe pass on the cigarettes…

  • Sometimes…well often for me, I fear…if nobody has responded to my comments, I reread them and note some errors…

    “Maybe even more impressive than all those big guys who move SO well”… is what I wrote… What I meant was: Maybe even more impressive than all those (little guys who are incredible) are the big guys who move SO well…

    Enjoy your Saturday…

  • Definitely reading them HT. And agree with you on Olapido. Quite mercurial. Would definitely expound a bit more but I’m trying to do this on my phone! 🤔


  • Yes 17tino, that group of Brits has been whittled down to just Ramsey and Wilshere now.
    Gibbs, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Jenkinson eventually and Jack probably, will leave Holding, Chambers and Ramsey holding the fort, with Nelson, Nketiah and Willock adding to the required number of home-mades to ensure our squad is ‘legal’ I guess. Iwobi, despite playing for Nigeria, still counts as home made I think, Maitland-Niles is another from within. Smith-Rowe is nailed on to be next, that boy is like a young Gareth Bale. Not sure if Macey will remain in situ, but I’d like to see him given a chance.

    Of course our new supremo will have his own ideas and maybe a different player type in mind.
    That’s going to be interesting and quite exciting, to me, in that how the team might change, evolve, develop under a new man with new ideas.

    That is players who we think have no future, could find that they have one, it’s all in flux.
    I just hope the new man gives the present squad and youths a chance.

  • Holding, paired with a solid partner will become a mainstay IMO. A shame he and Kos won’t have much overlap career-wise.

    Not so certain Kev– that the ‘new guy’ will hold much sway as far as personnel. The troika of SIR (as HT coined), has shown savvy at getting their man (and ridding of others!). And a linchpin in thinking the new guy– won’t be a big-name. SIR are just now consolidating their power. Carving out their territories, their niches. Sven, in particular, seems to have an eye for youth potential. Bringing in a £20M ego (even a £10M one) recreates the dynamic the club just changed. Don’t see a big-name out there– I’d like dictating personnel immediately.


  • Going by the team which travelled to Manchester, Wenger has chosen to go with quite a lot of youngsters for the game vs United tomorrow. Young right back, Jordi Osei-Tutu, Konstantinos Mavropanos, Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah all made the trip.

    It also looks like Jack, Ramsey, Ozil and Lacazette didn’t travel. Koscielny and Mustafi are expected to be rested, which may see a defence with Kolasinac, Holding, Chambers and Bellerin. Good thing Xhaka, Iwobi, Welbeck and Mhki joined Auba to make a fist of it. Guess JM will simply revenge the defeat to us last season when United were in the same situation we now are in – having to prioritize Europa league.

  • Thanks Kev, for more specifics on the young guns… Iwobi must count due to his time in the academy as must Bellerin (and AMN) even if they’ve “aged-out.” One time, years ago, I tried to learn what the rules were… In general, I don’t think they’re too stringent…you know, if Man City and Chelsea can pass them…

    I have to agree (completely) with those who believe the new manager is gonna have very little say over the roster (i.e., transfers in) for the reasons JW puts so well. A former player would have just about zero influence, but an older manager might have one or two players (of real quality) he’s worked with before who might jump at a chance for an Arsenal contract. Remember, we pay good wages… (Again, Kolasinac, a bench guy, is on 140K/week…) Like I(van) said, we will not get another Wenger… To me, that means a new manager has one season to show his ideas, get the players (some of whom will now command higher wages than he earns…) to enjoy working with him, etc., etc. and AT LEAST replicate this year’s finish (top 6, or a decent cup run) AND then a 2nd season to improve those results significantly. (At that point you’re in Van Gaal territory, so that raising an FA Cup is considered an exit moment, rather than something to build upon)… A single season with worse results and he’s gone; even a run (of 3 or 4) consecutive bad results and a(nother) revolt from the supporters will arise… In my view, now that the club has given in to one of them, surely it embolden folks to protest at the first sign of trouble. It’s entertainment. If I pay West End prices to go see the theatre, I’d prefer a whole bunch of happy ending for every tragedies I’m forced to endure…

    Then again, keep improving and keep winning and you’re (still around as the man(ager). Even Moo stayed at Chelsea for THREE years…and then got to return for TWO (well 1.5…) more…

    OK, then… new post my bad attitude… please…

  • Hey JW… Still waiting to get “new posted” and swiping the honor (American spelling) back from you… 😀

    Halftime in game 1 and the opponent just hit a 3/4 court shot at the buzzer…to cut the lead to 21… Fun stuff when the other team likes the upbeat pace too…

    I have to say I don’t really read too much about ANY sports that I watch nor do I watch much of the punditry which leaves me–for better or worse–with just what I see of the games themselves. With the interweb, everyone’s opinion is just as good as anybody else’s, except that it isn’t (of course)… On the downside, I miss out on some of the behind-the-scenes drama and the more detailed analyses of finances and motivations and what-not. All I can say, is that some of the US sports (and sports reporting) seem just a bit less, er, opaque, than the English footie stuff, at least as it gets echoed from back page to back page (the tabloid or half-sheets) then to the (hit-whoring) blog-o-sphere. But maybe that’s just my take on things… My (86yr old) aunt LOVES the Warriors–and laps up all the local newspaper writing about it–but (try as I might) I cannot come to get her to understand a pick and roll…

    So, on that note, please inform me where LbJ (I’ve come around to Admir’s identifier…) will end up next season… And… I still think he (and his current team) could make the finals…

    Back to the Arsenal… A nothing to lose match on a Sunday morning with a late kick-off seems just about ideal for me… We could predict the scoreline (the reverse of last season’s “gentleman’s 2-nil seems just about right) or we could focus in on the handshake(s)…

    Like we say out here… “It’s all good…”

  • DVR’d the GSW/NO game and will watch it in the morning– but did follow the score during.
    Will be interesting– if form holds to see the Warriors/Rockets.

    There have been rumors of James coming to Houston to form another superteam…


  • Laid-low by an over-the-cable medication (NBA Playoffs)– lasting well into night.
    (As the tally of ‘New Post 😉 Trophies’ ticks ever higher!)


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