Arsenal-Watford. Match Preview, End of Season Summary. The Long Nightmare Finally Closes. Can Arteta Create

A Sense of Hope–For the FA Cup Final and Next Season?

It’s a lot to ask of one man, but I like the new manager, and, for me, he’s saying (and doing) pretty much all the right things.  Other Gooners will point out that results have been mixed and that we’re really not going to finish a whole lot higher than we might have if Unai Emery had been able to see out the season.

In fact, 8th is our limit–and we need to win our match AND have Burnley (hosting Brighton) and Sheffield United (at Southampton) drop points–so, 10th is our more likely finishing place.

Tenth place.  Wow.  How did it come to this?

Can we say that we’ve hit rock-bottom and have no where to go but up?  Or, maybe we can blame everything on the global pandemic and put an asterisk next to this season.  (And, as such, *Liverpool* are only *PL Champions* and sure to finish at least 40* points ahead of us*; and, tomorrow, *Chelsea,* *Manchester United,* and *Leicester City* will be competing for those final two *Champions League* positions…)

I don’t believe that such qualifications can be made and I’d argue that it’s about a systemic rot at our club that begins at the top.  This post, I think, sums it up nicely.  We have owners, I believe, who value the bottom line more than anything and they’ve hired “football” men who are equally focused on such things.  Of course, their pounds and pence (we say dollars and cents over here…) calculations would surely be enhanced if we could get our brand back near the top of English (and European) football, but there seems no willingness to “speculate in order to accumulate” at least in a comprehensive manner akin to other owners, notably, gas and oil magnates at Chelsea and Manchester City and even more speculative American ownership groups at Manchester United and Liverpool.  Arsenal used to be part of a “Big Four” group of clubs at the top of English Football.  No longer, I fear.  And now, with ManCity only getting a wrist slap for their Financial Fair Play violations/cover-up, Arsenal appear that much more on the outside looking in.

At least we now have a manager who seems willing to take responsibility for what we produce on the pitch.  Mikel Arteta has stated that our Premier League finishing position is simply not good enough.  We still have a route into European Football–and a chance to lift a trophy at next Saturday’s FA Cup final at Wembley–but first we must see out the PL season in our own (empty) stadium vs relegation threatened Watford.

In midweek we faced a similarly desperate Aston Villa team and were beaten 1-nil.  Many are blaming a let down after two nice wins vs the best teams in English football, ‘Pool and ManCity.  Still, the lack of creativity and inability to make chances after going down a goal does not bode well for being able to dominate the “lesser” clubs.  It’s one thing to be able to play committed defensive football–and nick a goal or two at the other end on the break or by forcing mistakes with a forward press–and another thing entirely to be able to break down parked buses and get full points against the clubs Arsenal have traditionally expected to beat.

Watford are one of those clubs, though we have struggled against them in recent seasons, i.e., since they last achieved promotion to the Premiership.

We should have plenty of motivation to beat the bees (or hornets or whatever sort of insect Watford’s kit resembles) and do what we can to send them back down to the Championship.  In the reverse fixture, back on 15 September of last year, then-captain Granit Xhaka admitted to Arsenal being “scared” of Watford as they erased a 2 goal lead and looked the only team able to win the match.  We did manage to draw the game and take a point, but it was an admission that our football had turned fearful under (then) manager Unai Emery.  Things would go lower (MUCH lower) and Xhaka would lose the captaincy (with Emery soon to also lose his managerial post) but it was another example of Watford captain Troy Deeney’s earlier and (in)famous comment about “Arsenal lacking cajones” after an even worse result (a 2-1 loss at Vicarage Road) back in 2017.

So, tomorrow’s match is an opportunity to put Deeney and the rest of his team in their place and do our part in sending Watford down.  It’s also an(other) opportunity to prepare for the cup final against a motivated squad.  There are two ways Arteta might use this chance: 1) play his best first 11 and use the game (or maybe the first hour or so) as a dress rehearsal for the final, or, 2) rotate the team and protect his stars for the (far) more important match next weekend.  I believe he’ll go with the former idea and put out an 11 that could be repeated at Wembley, something like this:

Martinez

Holding–Luiz–Tierney

Bellerin–Ceballos–Xhaka–Maitland-Niles

Pepe–Lacazette–Aubemeyang

Of course, I could be way off base, and, as always, your guess is as good as mine.  There could also be some injury niggles or other fine tuning which might suggest a bit more rest for some and a bit more playing time for others.  With the squad likely rounded out by guys like Macey, Cedric, Sokratis, Kolasinac, Willock, Nelson, Saka, and Nketiah, Arteta could certainly choose a more mix and match approach.

How do you think the manager should approach this game?  Who do you think should start (and/or who should be rested and saved for the cup final)?

More generally, what do you think about the (PL) season we’re finishing up?  Is it a blip, a rock-bottom off of which we’ll bounce and head back upwards (and maybe a function of Arteta correctly putting the FA cup at the top of our priorities), or are the problems at our club more profound?

In other words, have at it in the comments below.  I’ll be back tomorrow with the (actual) line-ups and an attempt at a live-blog.  Let’s try and finish out the PL season, grateful that we’ve got a little something (a cup final, in fact) ahead.  A solid result (a win and some goals) would be nice, but (perhaps?…) the need for a performance that also bodes well for the future, both next weekend and next season, also seems critical.

Go on then…

by 17highburyterrace

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148 Responses to Arsenal-Watford. Match Preview, End of Season Summary. The Long Nightmare Finally Closes. Can Arteta Create

  1. MA08 says:

    Cheers, 17HT, that is a cracking post for the final game of the season.

    I agree with you that Arteta is doing almost everything right. I don’t agree re our club owners. They spent more than enough last seasons but the manager(s) haven’t offered much return on it. How much do they have to spend to make you believe that it is not about the bottom line alone?

    The position in the league table is irrelevant this season, with three managers having been in charge. It is about being on the right track… And I think we both agree we are that under Mikel.

    Finally, beating Man City under Pep is imo equivalent to beating Barcelona about eight years ago. A tremendous achievement by Mikel and a strong sign of good things to come.

    I am hoping Leicester will finish in top four and the Mancs stay out. Unlikely to happen given the preferential treatment they have been getting by men in black.

    Keep trucking Seventeenho.

  2. TotalArsenal says:

    GN5, stay strong buddy and I hope your sister will recover soon.

  3. allezkev says:

    No offence but I’ve not read the post yet, there’s a house warming party going on next door so it’s difficult to focus as it sounds like Studio 54 coming through my walls, but they’re having a great time so good luck to em…

    Have a great holiday Total, in my minds eye I can see you now striding across the glen.

    Hey 17tino, I love watching all the news feeds, the BS is rampant isn’t it?

    GN5 You take care mate…

  4. Thanks for commenting TA… It feels kinda brutal to write something and have nobody (else) say nothing… 😦 (Kev has said something but maybe I do take offense, pardon the US spelling…)

    But, then again, when it comes to our PL season (and tomorrow’s match) maybe that’s the level of enthusiasm… and the future will come when it comes and Gooners will read those news feeds–headline baiting I call it–and then moan about it at that time; in my relatively short time following the team I’ve noted that website traffic seems to increase in direct proportion to the level of disappointment the team delivers… More frownies…

    That’s about all I’ve got for Kev, I fear…but, TA/MA08, when it comes to the money issues, I think you have to look past the splashing moments and think about the bigger picture of how those decisions were made and our, er, total spend. To try and save his final teams Wenger convinced the Kroenkes to spend big on a new contract for Mesut Ozil… Alas, that didn’t work out too well…So, then they listened to the angry fans (not supporters, IMO…) and Gazidis who gave away 10+million to pay AW for his final year…bringing in Parisian pariah (failure in France) Unai Emery (rolly eyes)…He lost the team (in COMPLETE fashion last spring)–not to mention CL qualification (by the two routes: top 4 AND winning the EL)…but paying off his salary wouldn’t be considered. Instead, (new head of football) Raul Sanllehi sanctioned the (so far mostly) unrewarded purchase of Nicolas Pepe (and pulled a new contract out from under Aaron Ramsey). At least Pepe was available (for selection) most of the season. Still, now that Kieran Tierney has found some steady fitness, he seems a better buy at 1/3 the fee.

    But, of course, fees only impress the fans (and create a sense of hope)…it’s wage bills that matter. (Somehow) Gooners took it as a good sign when Josh Kroenke gave an interview (at least he could actually converse a bit about English/Euro football…) but the key line was, “We’re a Europa League team with a Champions League wage bill.” Bottom line before football is what that says to me… Tomorrow, Manchester United (our great rival from Wenger’s first 10 years) can make the top 4 with a draw. They’ve had their time in the wilderness since SAF’s departure but their ownership group has not hesitated to pay out BIG TIME for managers (Van Gaal and the MOO-man among others) AND players salaries–“our” even bigger failure, Alexis Sanchez, is a glaring example, but his salary is only ONE of their big ones. How much is Pogba on, new guy Bruno, De Gea, etc., etc…

    But there’s more… Raul allowing the departure of Sven Mislintat (replaced by Edu), IMO, is a BIG step backward. Personal contacts and a network of scouts are (and always will be) important (and maybe our new Brazilian connection could reap rewards with guys like Martinelli and Pablo Mari and their connections in that country) but now we seem to have some sort of relationship with “super-agent” Kia Joorabchian. I dunno, but that guy and Raul remind me of Donald and Vlad (or maybe Roger Stone…), and look what’s happening under their (world) leadership… I just don’t know who (at the club) has the ear of those with the $$$… Cheapness is something I could accept, but where’s the moral compass, let alone the competitive ambition?

    Which is why it’s a (very) good thing that Arteta uses his best moments (like after beating Pool and ManCity) to put pressure on ownership (and Raul/Stan/Josh/Kia) to back him in the market…

    Anyhow, there’s a match tomorrow, so enough for this evening…Gotta save my voice (in order to hear my echo–or maybe my fingers, to take backward glances at my words as they pop up on the screen)…

    Or maybe others will read/comment (and I’ll feel less alone)…

    Nighty night…

  5. jw1 says:

    Not sure how high of expectations we ought to have put on Mikel Arteta.
    The entire Emery era was a mirage. Whatever success taken at the beginning seems now to have the most remarkable series of good fortune, favorable calls, and plain dumb luck. Ending a hiding in Baku– and– Raul pushing to sign him up for another 2 years! What? Think things are tough now?

    We’re extremely fortunate we only went down the rabbit hole for 18 months. Really. Could have been a wholesale disaster. You think this is rock-bottom HT? There was another half-division left to slide down. Starting in October? Drawing to Palace, Wolves, Soton, Norwich (Norwich scored twice!) in 8 weeks with losses to Sheffield and Leicester was another smoke-and-mirrors period.

    It was already then apparent (to many) the team was rotting from the top. Had the execs pulled that trigger before the international break in October– brought in Arteta straight away? He might have righted the morale and chemistry in time to do more than finish 10th with an outside chance to finish above (fecking) Burnley. But Raul couldn’t admit his power-grab (to omit hiring Mikel originally) was a major failure in judgment.

    Getting out of a hole dug for 18 months wasn’t going to happen in 6 months– in a pair of truncated periods. Arteta was always the right man for the job. Shame hubris place such a high degree of difficulty on top of what was always going to a tough slog.

    Still (and am always) optimistic. We do have a ton of homegrown talent in our midsts. I like what Kev mentioned on the previous thread about ESR (‘So let’s see if Arteta can work his magic with ESR and save the club £50 odd million?’). It is doable. But you still need to have a tandem of creators. One isn’t going to play 50+ matches by himself. Injuries seem to have rented space to lodge at Colney. Next season– probably won’t be different from many others in that regard.

    And HT? I’d like to have time to comment more. Honestly. I’ll join you tomorrow for the live-blog.
    Been on 50+hour weeks lately– pulling off a major server O/S and virtual desktop upgrade with 80 remote users. So, like herding cats. If the cats were all 50-60 years old and needing to understand string theory.

    Anyway. Night guys. See you in the morning here/afternoon there.

    jw1

  6. AB says:

    Hi there HT. I’m grateful to you for this and other posts. And I will try and pen a few lines later on. Don’t lose faith that your writing isn’t well read – it is, just busy lives get in the way. Kev has a party, and I spent the evening in A&E after being attacked by a dog! That’s a first for me. Anyway, I will write on the season and all later on.

  7. MA08 says:

    17HT, good point on player wages yet I would like to see the wage bills of both United and Arsenal. And aren’t MU trying to get rid off Pogba?

    I agree we lack management / football nous, but that is not the same as ambition. Last summer the club sent about £130m and didn’t sell anybody worth much. To me that doesn’t look like a lack of ambition/ mere focus on bottom line.. 👍 👍

  8. TotalArsenal says:

    Ab, so good to hear from you. Sorry to hear you had to go to A&E. Hope you feel better soon. 🤗

  9. allezkev says:

    No Bellerin in the 18, let’s hope that he’s healthy, Arteta going with a back four is going to be interesting, but I did read the post, hurrah….

    Considering the dysfunction of the season finishing 10th isn’t a concern to me, it would have been nice to finish 7th but in truth Tottenham put the boot into that. Where we finish whilst not being completely unimportant to me is secondary to the ‘process’ and the process has been good imo.
    Tightening up the defence has been needed since Arsene went three at the back, it’s dragged on for far too long but Mikel seems to be finally sorting it. The gaping chasm in front of our defence has been filled with both Xhaka and Ceballos playing a style that lessens their shortcomings and accentuates their strengths and it’s been pretty damned good. Discovering Martinez has been a major plus, seeing Tierney grow into a major component has been heartening, the rebirth of Luiz and Mustafi has been amazing, there’s other stuff but in general I’m more than delighted with the work that Arteta has done.

  10. allezkev says:

    Of course not everything has been hunky dory, you can’t fix several years of decline in just a few lockdowned months, so there’s issues, but I’m pleased that Arteta has started the rebuild at the back, it’s the way most managers go, unless your Ossie Ardiles.

    I’ve pretty much let any criticism of Arteta go in one ear and straight out the other, even if we lose to Chelsea in the cup final and there’s a distinct possibility that that’ll be the case, I still won’t change my view of Mikel. I also think that he can leverage more support out of the ownership, the Kroenkes have put a new guy in the Boardroom, someone who can be a middleman between them and the management team, they’ve restructured the clubs’ loans and seem to be more invested in the running of the club. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were more changes afoot in that area of the club, putting people into the club who can better maximise its potential.

  11. jw1 says:

    Sign of the Arsenapocalypse?
    On closing day of the season– NBC tries to show every match live– finding whichever of their offshoot channels to place each. NBCSN, CNBC, regular NBC, et cetera.

    Arsenal? Gets ‘The Golf Channel’. Seems apropos. 🏌🏾‍♂️
    Perhaps we’ll score fore!

    jw1

  12. allezkev says:

    Ok, 17tino, good post btw, the party finished around 3.30am I think, I’d fallen asleep by then, today it’s been nice and quiet a typical Sunday, sorry to hear about the canine situation AB, I sense a good story in there, I hope that you’re ok now…

  13. Lineups:

    Arsenal: Martinez, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Luiz, Tierney, Xhaka, Willock, Ceballos, Pepe, Aubameyang, Lacazette Subs: Macey, Sokratis, Cedric, Kolasinac, Torreira, Smith, Saka, Nelson, Nketiah

    Watford: Foster, Femenia, Kabasele, Dawson, Masina, Hughes, Doucoure, Welbeck, Sarr, Pereyra, Deeney Subs: Gomes, Mariappa, Cleverly, Chalobah, Cathcart, Pedro, Gray, Quina, Pussetto

  14. allezkev says:

    Good point about Raul exercising his reach within the club JW and how it collapsed eventually maybe the new man on the Board is a way of limiting his empire building. In fact we don’t see so much of Raul since the demise of a Unai, Edu seems to be the face of the management team these days and I’m not unhappy with that development.

  15. allezkev says:

    Ok, I’m off to watch the game, don’t get stuck in a bunker JW….

  16. Hey Fellas… (and esp. AB, long time and sorry for your dog troubles last night…)

    I’m struggling with my computer set-up and have just gotten myself rebooted. (Also, I didn’t realize that our match would be on television so my wife was getting the stream going on her computer at the same time.) Additionally, I’m at least an espresso short of ready-to-go…

    Apologies also for my bad attitude (in the comment above)…

    Anyhow, at this point, I don’t see the need for a new post…but I’ll be watching the match and maybe that’ll inspire some keyboard tapping.

    Emjoy…

  17. jw1 says:

    You right about that Kev.
    Most of the news we here about new prospects seem to be coming out of Brazil.

  18. jw1 says:

    Mike Dean, shaking his head no after the VAR call, will find a way to give it back.

  19. Lol… VAR tells Dean to point to the spot…

  20. PEA scores it…

    1-nil to the Arsenal… 😀

  21. jw1 says:

    Like how fluidly we’re moving the ball– and confidently.

  22. jw1 says:

    Martinez with another of his cat-quick point-blank saves– following a pitch-length run by Sarr on the right. Instead of taking a left footed shot in the box– he puts the ball into scrum– where Emi performs his trick.

  23. jw1 says:

    Holding makes a face-save on a header by Deeney in the box.

  24. jw1 says:

    Open end-to-end stuff– Watford might have had a pair by now.
    Back four is a sieve at the moment.

  25. jw1 says:

    Deeney puts a wormburner across the goalmouth– with no teammate in the box.

  26. jw1 says:

    Kieran Tierney opens his Gunner account! 2-0

  27. KT!!! from PEA… just passed the ball into the net…

    2-nil…

  28. Espresso break as well!!!

  29. jw1 says:

    Calm buildup has AMN laying off to Pepe on the right, crossing into the area to Auba– holding off his defender– laying off to the oncoming Tierney just inside the 18. Kieran places an instep ro it placing it in the far corner– Foster just a bystander.

  30. makayah says:

    My guy Pepe looks in the mood today great cross but better workrate overall.

  31. jw1 says:

    AMN down from a crash by Deeney.
    Holding gives Perierra the same treatment on the header to follow.

  32. makayah says:

    Lana could have had a crack with his left foot there..

  33. makayah says:

    *laca

  34. jw1 says:

    Many bits of creativity off the boots Ceballos so far.

  35. makayah says:

    Wow Auba!!!

  36. jw1 says:

    Auba bicycles a throw in from Tierney– 3-nil!
    Maybe we do get fore. By half?

  37. Wowsa… Beast and a Beauty!!

    Stoke-ish long throw from Tierney which PEA controls, back to goal, then bicycle kicks into the net!!!

    3-nil Arsenal… 😀

  38. makayah says:

    Funny thing is we have taken all our chances (for once thank you VAR) but they have had as many chances and all from Tierney`s wing, although it is not all his fault.

  39. jw1 says:

    On that on makayah? Thinking Mikel is going with the back four to give us some match time in it– prepping for Chelsea. It’s been leaky. Watford has been forgiving.

  40. makayah says:

    Just keeping fingers crossed no injuries this game.

  41. jw1 says:

    Breakfast break!!!

  42. makayah says:

    Damn another Luis penalty

  43. Penalty Watford… Welbeck arrives first and toe-pokes it to Emi… David Luiz lands on our former player with a thud.

    Deeney converts… 3-1 now…

  44. Xhaka saying to Dean the same thing he said to Gooners (which lost him his captaincy)…

    Gets a yellow for his troubles… the FK is delayed due to an injured Watford player…

  45. makayah says:

    Should keep feeding Pepe in this game he is really up for it.

  46. Pepe scythed down from behind which allows Arsenal to see out the half… Indeed it’s been a very open match but we’ve taken our chances whereas Watford have only converted their penalty. Unfortunately there’s not been much defending to give us confidence ahead of the cup final and the endless corners and FKs we concede also seem a concern…

  47. makayah says:

    Giroud is on a tear lately we better defend a lot better next week.

  48. Chavs look solid for top 4 with a 2-nil lead (Giroud on a thundering run, scoring the 2nd), but ManU-Leicester is still nil-nil so United could blow it if Leicester score just one…

    Current scores would mean Villa stays up with Watford and Bournemouth to join Norwich in going back down to the Championship…

  49. A final espresso for me… to help me enjoy the twists and turns the final half of the season might serve up…

  50. allezkev says:

    That was a mixed bag, I’ve gotta admit, I’m with Mike Dean in real time, I didn’t think it was a pen, but there ya go Joe, in Peckenpah time it was a deliberate shove in the back and a pen, I just loved Dean’s face after he awarded the pen.

    Delighted to see Tierney score his first Arsenal goal and loved the way he took it chipped into the inside of the goal, like a sand wedge JW.

    The 3rd was just instinct a poachers finish although you get the feeling that the killjoys who run the game would love to ban those spectacular types of finish because of dangerous play.

    I didn’t see their pen, but to me Arsenal are not going full on, we seem almost relaxed as if it’s a pre season game, which in terms of where we are in July in any other season would be…

    A few thoughtful substitutes would be very welcome, I do hope that Smith gets a run out…

  51. jw1 says:

    Mikel ought know by now to keep Luiz protected in a three or five back.

  52. jw1 says:

    Toldya’ after VAR embarrassed Dean for our pen– he’d find a way to give it back.

  53. jw1 says:

    ARS 5/3 shots– WAT 8/3

  54. makayah says:

    I am ok with that penalty though Luiz found a way to give it back

  55. Wow… that was not very good defending on Watford’s long throw routine… Quite a let off that their guy blasted over instead of in…

  56. makayah says:

    Hope Auba gets his hat trick then gets pulled out of this game will need him next week

  57. makayah says:

    Sar and Tierney having a real battle and again not convincing defending.

  58. Oh my… We’re going to need to work on defending corners/set pieces this week… Again, however, Watford fail to convert…

  59. jw1 says:

    Eddie and Kola on.
    Laca and Willock off.

  60. jw1 says:

    Gone to back-3?
    Makes sense. A half in each setup.

  61. jw1 says:

    Pepe cuts in Foster makes the necessary parry away.

  62. That was AMN with the (saved) shot, I’m pretty sure… Strong off foot made it almost look like it was Pepe…

  63. makayah says:

    Emi another great save

  64. Wow, great save by Martinez after Watford dance through our defense…

  65. jw1 says:

    Emi with another brilliant point-blank save!
    Ball fell to Welbeck in the box– put his foot through it– and the save goes out away from the box.

  66. makayah says:

    Danny has had a number of good plays in our box probably been our best defender oh boy and Welbeck scores

  67. jw1 says:

    Welbz with a fine shot past Emi on a low cross from Sarr– 3-2.

  68. makayah says:

    Once again Sar with the cross he has been a menace.

  69. Not this time…. Welbeck gets to the cross ahead of Emi’s hand to make it 3-2…

  70. makayah says:

    We must hold the record for players scoring against their former sides had that thought that Welbeck might score

  71. makayah says:

    Very poor 2nd half showing the changes did not improve us we can’t get any midfield fluency

  72. ManU have scored (from the spot) at Leicester…

    Drinks break…No more coffee for me…

    Would the smart money be on Watford to (at least) draw this match (if not win it outright)?…

  73. jw1 says:

    Reiss and Lucas on.
    Pepe and Dani off.

  74. makayah says:

    I would have preferred AMN to switch sides and help out on Sar

  75. Yellow for Holding with the hip-check…or was it a stomp?…

    Good spot for Watford’s FK…

  76. Not too far wide of the near corner but we escape…

  77. makayah says:

    What a world class save!!!

  78. makayah says:

    No way Leno gets back in

  79. jw1 says:

    OMG! Martinez again.
    Saves a blind backheel from Welbz in the box.

  80. Wow… That looked like the equalizer… Emi saves DW’s back-heeled finish…

    Seems just a matter of time, however, I fear…

  81. makayah says:

    Poor execution on the pass Edfy

  82. jw1 says:

    Eddie shoulda’

  83. makayah says:

    Should definitely gone for goal than a pass like that

  84. Eddy does his nipping in work but the pass to PEA is just a little wide and Foster smothers his shot…

  85. Foster hurt so we have a break in the action. With neither team having much in MF, either net could be scored upon…

  86. makayah says:

    I’m thinking Reiss scores at some point

  87. jw1 says:

    Auba on a hat trick chasing the Golden Boot– maybe it was always going to Auba.

  88. makayah says:

    Well great cross Reiss but Tierney mishits it

  89. That was pretty nice work from Eddy and Reiss…Tierney’s volley on the cross wasn’t equal to it, however…

  90. makayah says:

    We can’t get caught up with Auba and the golden boot got to secure the points first

  91. Watford break and Holding knees it behind for a Watford corner… from which they fail to score… 10 mins plus et remaining…

  92. makayah says:

    Clear booking not given

  93. Nice nip in and break from PEA–who is really a lovely runner on the ball…His pass doesn’t match the earlier work…

    Watford breaking our lines with ease but we could do damage on the break… Nelson tripped just as he was accelerating…

  94. jw1 says:

    Ninth or 10th place?
    I dunno’. I’d rather Auba have more reasons to stay another season.

  95. jw1 says:

    Watford goes down– Aston Villa score at West Ham

  96. jw1 says:

    West Ham score!

  97. Villa have scored at West Ham…meaning Watford and Bournemouth (almost) surely are going down…

  98. Spoke (typed…) too soon…

  99. makayah says:

    Damn hope Tierney isn’t hurt

  100. Tierney takes a knee to the thigh (or maybe the gut)?…

  101. jw1 says:

    Tierney’s hip takes a shot from Pereyra.
    Hope it’s not the one with the issues.

  102. Nelson having his way with the Watford FB on the right…but Eddy can’t do anything with the cross… Then PEA,on his horse, just has the ball poked away in a very promising spot…

    90th min…

  103. jw1 says:

    Six minutes

  104. makayah says:

    Dangerous f.k to give away

  105. Leicester appear done as Johnny Evans is sent off…

    In our match, LT11 fouls Cleverly, edge of the box…

  106. jw1 says:

    Deeney blows. It.

  107. makayah says:

    Lucky escape on that one free

  108. Nice FK routine but the open header by Deeney misses high…

  109. makayah says:

    They must have had 15 chances now

  110. 4 of the 6 extra have been played…and Arsenal (somehow) escape two nice Watford crosses…

  111. jw1 says:

    Villa draw. Watford need two goals.

  112. makayah says:

    Looks like we will just about survive lol

  113. jw1 says:

    So ninth it is.

  114. 17highburyterrace says:

    Full Time…and (somehow) we have won this match…

    Arsenal finish 8th, Watford go down…

    Villa stay up, ManU and Chelsea make the CL…

  115. jw1 says:

    (Checks table) Right-o HT.

  116. 17highburyterrace says:

    8th, I’m pretty sure, J-Dub… Both Burnley and Sheffield United lost their games today…

  117. 17highburyterrace says:

    That actually turned out to be pretty entertaining, if not terribly inspiring ahead of the cup final…

    Hey Makayah…(and J-dub, of course) Thanks for joining in with the commentary. Where are you based?…

  118. jw1 says:

    By the margin of a pen– that Mike Dean was forced to give.
    Let’s hope he’s not got the Cup final to officiate.

  119. pbarany says:

    Nice first half, and rather uninspiring second.
    Auba finished as runner up for the Golden Boot.
    Him and Tierney played good, Luiz was wasteful, Willock was non-existent.

    Eights position it is.
    The line-up still needs to be improved by next Saturday.

  120. 17highburyterrace says:

    Replay shows Tierney’s goal took at least one (small) deflection…which is probably what flat-footed Foster…

    Emi Martinez does some pretty solid position work in goal (although maybe he could be faulted for being overly rooted to his line for Watford’s 2nd…) AND his reaction time seems really strong… Still, we won’t have much of a shout in the final if we can’t figure a way to stop Chelsea before they’re working in our penalty area…

  121. makayah says:

    I am currently in US

  122. jw1 says:

    We came out of the match with no apparent injuries. Played 14 of 17 outfield players.
    Rearguard defending for most of the second half with a 3-back– with a few counters that looked promising.

    Every player knows the prize is next week– simply wants an uneventful end to a match like this.
    Need Arteta to motivate the boys to elevate their focus as they had versus another top-4 team next week.

  123. makayah says:

    Wanted Leicester to get in top 4 just to deny Chelsea or Man U the money which will only serve to widen gap with us as they are both going to continue to strengthen; in Chelsea`s case they have already added 2 big guns with Havertz likely to join while Sancho is tipped for Man u.

  124. 17highburyterrace says:

    I gotta say that I’m not clear on what Mikel was working on today. Going 4 at the back seems important for next season but not next weekend. That said, we were (extremely) porous no matter which formation was used.

    Nobody hurt (I don’t think), at least…

  125. 17highburyterrace says:

    Makayah…The US is a big country…so, I’m curious where… Also, you say, “currently.” Does that mean you’re usually located elsewhere?…

    J-Dub, I agree that some leeway should be given to Mikel and the boys with the cup final waiting. Still, a bit tighter in the middle of the pitch (esp.) would’ve been nice to see, I think…

  126. jw1 says:

    Villa mgr Dean Smith being interviewed on NBC– asked about Jack Grealish’s future?
    “Predict he’s going to be very drunk later tonight.” 🍻

  127. makayah says:

    I am in Texas and in near future will be in Canada.

  128. 17highburyterrace says:

    Gotcha Makayah…Thanks… You’ll be spending some time in quarantine, I’m guessing… 😮

  129. jw1 says:

    Yeah HT me too– though, we got what we needed today. Three points. A workout. Nobody hurt.
    Watford relegated was (a just) dessert.

    I’m confident of Arteta’s ability to get us ready.
    Far more than I was in this same scenario in May a year ago.

    jw1

  130. jw1 says:

    Where in Texas makayah?
    I’m in Houston.

  131. makayah says:

    In Dallas and yes ht I am sure we would all like to see the end of this miserable Covid horror wishing everyone health and safety. As bad as this season has been the events of 2020 has put in perspective and the games provide a welcome distraction.

  132. makayah says:

    *has put everything in perspective

  133. 17highburyterrace says:

    Well, anything can happen in a cup final, J-dub…and I do believe in Mikel’s ability to focus his players for the match…

    Still, there are some awfully big holes in our team (also known as midfield…with central defense almost as large). Gonna take some (or A LOT of) fortunate bounces, I’m feeling…

    Agreed, makayah…and I have to say that the PL restart was pretty successful (no positive covid tests on any of the teams, I think). Britain in general, esp. when compared to the US, seems to have gotten on top of the situation pretty well…but maybe the locals have a different impression…

    Thanks (so much) for the company today… I slept like poo last night so I’m gonna slip back under the covers…

  134. jw1 says:

    Things are on a par in both our major metro areas right now– quite bad actually.
    Read an article last night. A Ft Worth club owner who flouted health department edicts on July 4th weekend– had his liquor license suspended. So, since he can’t abide common sense? He started some kind of statewide protest among bar owners (800+ by some counts)– to stay open this weekend– after our dunderheaded governor spun once again toward reality and closed bars as public health dangers.

    You can get alcohol anywhere in Texas. Why clubs and bars feel the need to be spreader locales in the face of a pandemic– escapes me.

  135. jw1 says:

    Same here HT. Three hours, then another hour before kickoff.
    Slept like a babe Friday night.
    Check your email soon. Possibly tomorrow, latest.

    Safe travels makayah! Hope they let you into Canada, ay? 👍

    jw1

  136. jw1 says:

    “… I have to say that the PL restart was pretty successful (no positive covid tests on any of the teams, I think).”

    Actually, Arsenal had one prior to the restart– that caused two others to quarantine for four days prior to the City PL match. Not that we were likely to win that one. Players weren’t identified.

    jw1

  137. allezkev says:

    Well it seemed at times as if Arsenal were doing their level best to help the neighbours out as on chances Watford should have probably won but it’s a funny old game.

    I doubt that any Chelsea spies would have learnt too much from watching that game other than plenty of crosses into the Arsenal box, Monsieur Giroud will be licking his Gallic lips in anticipation of the mayhem he can cause next Saturday.

  138. TotalArsenal says:

    Good to read the comments on here this morning 🌞

    These final games are often weird, but really good to see Tierney score and Auba hitting the net twice.

    There is no doubt the boys were asked to look after themselves with 1.95 eyes on the FA cup final. That is our game of the season, not to get a European ticket but to win that famous throphy for the PEA14th time. CoyGs.

  139. TotalArsenal says:

    On the ferry to fishnish on Mull and then onto Iona. 11 degrees and it’s raining hard on 27th July…. That’s holidaying in SCOTLAND for you. 😊 🙃

  140. allezkev says:

    That’s exactly how it seemed to me Total, our players didn’t go in 110% as they usually do with one eye on the cup final. Even if the manager wants them to, it’s understandable that injury is going to nag away at the back of your mind. We did enough, we finished 8th, it was a bit hairy at times but I doubt that Arteta tried anything that he has in mind for Wembley, that’ll be for the training ground this week and the club netted a few more millions to put in their shrinking pot of transfer funds.

    Yes, they do like a ferry up there them Picts, don’t forget your sun block… 😄

  141. TotalArsenal says:

    Hahaha, it was soooo freezing we decided not to go to Iona after all.

  142. jw1 says:

    In a PL season-wrapping piece by Amy Lawrence in The Athletic?
    I’ll offer just her closing paragraph– and will concur:

    “What’s most exciting about next season? Hope. Hope is back. Hope has been reignited. While most people accept the reality of how much work, and time, is required to make Arsenal as competitive as they want to be, there have been enough upturns in the story to revive a sense of optimism. Young players shining, winning tough away games, beating recent champions, reducing the regularity of self-inflicted errors and the throwing in of towels. As was once a slogan at the club — forward.”

    jw1

  143. TotalArsenal says:

    Hope lives eternal, jw1. 👍

  144. allezkev says:

    According to the blurb it’s looking as if Arsenal are closing in on another loan deal for Ceballos with an obligation to complete a permanent transfer in 12 months time. That would seem a very agreeable with Real Madrid and very good for us…

  145. allezkev says:

    Further to Ceballos, it’s been confirmed that Mustafi is out until October, so now Raul, Arteta and Edu need to come to a decision about our incident prone but most improved centre back.

    If the management team had thought about selling Mustafi this summer, while he’s in the midst of a hot run of form, then that idea has clearly gone out of the window and on top of that he almost certainly won’t want to leave in January not with his contract almost expired so the choices we have are stark…?

    Choice No.1. Arsenal cut their losses and let him leave on a free next year?

    Choice No.2 Arsenal offer him a new contract while he is injured and protect his value with an eye to maybe selling him a way down the line.?

    Of course there could be a 3rd option with Arteta genuinely wanting him to stay but I guess we’ll see how that plays out…

    What I do know for sure and I never thought I’d ever say this, is that we’re going to miss Mustafi massively this weekend, he’s been like a defender reborn under Arteta even if the odd faux pais is still in his game as it’s been compensated by an all around improvement in all other areas of his play. I actually really feel sorry for him missing out again…

  146. TotalArsenal says:

    Nice brain teasers, Kev. I used the last one for a new post, and I trust you are okay with that?

    New Post New Post! 🙂

  147. allezkev says:

    That’s cool mate, I’ve put my tin hat on…. 😄

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