Arsenal v Saints: Time to Bounce Back and SambiXhaka Combo

The Saints are in town and oh do we need a win to get back in the groove again. Four games to go to the midway line and all winnable ones in principle, so we should be able to get a good number of points and move up on the table. But as always it’s of course OGAAT and it will be hard enough to get all three points against the tall and wily Hasenhuttle.

Smithie Rowe is a doubt but I hope he is fit to play as he connects the lines very well. Let’s give Auba and Partey a break so they are fit and focused for the Hammers game.

This is my preferred lineup:


Tomi, Ben, Gab, Tava

Loko, Granit

Saka, Ode, Emile (Marti)


Enjoy the game. CoyGs.

By TotalArsenal

108 thoughts on “Arsenal v Saints: Time to Bounce Back and SambiXhaka Combo

  • I would start Tierney over tavares. A big part of what went wrong against Everton was Tierney sub. Tavares should be for cup games and injuries for now.

  • To continue from the last thread:

    Madhu said:
    “Having said all these I am willing to wait for another 5 games and see where the points tally is at the end of 19 games. If we are above 30 points and closer to top 4 I would consider it encouraging and back him for the second half of the season.”

    Madhu, my friend, you were the ONLY contributor on this fine blog that accepted my humble suggestion to set a quantitative expectation for the team and manager by mid-season. I highly appreciated that, so my sincere apologies for reminding you of your past words, but let me quote you from August 10, 2021 at 16:05 (
    “If Arsenal are not at 35 points (18 games) by end of Dec, Arteta should go. We have to target 70 points this season to have any chance of finishing between 4-8.”

    Assuming that 18 is 19 (precisely half a season), and end of December is actually boxing day (as #19 round is due on 26th of December), plus putting aside that we play against Norwich for the 2nd time in the #19 round, but will meet Wolves for the first time in round #20, this is quite the best way to check the extent and nature of progress. So please don’t let yourself boiled with the other proverbial frogs. Especially since even that 35 point is still manageable – but would be ambitious.

  • I could remind TA that in the (unsurprisingly withered) pre-season tally game he predicted 23 points from the first 10 matches – which Arsenal couldn’t exceed even by the 15th round, so his wish of W7-D2-L1 actually materialized as W7-D2-L6 with a -4 goal difference without the distracting factor of competitive European games – but we all know it would be pointless.

    August 9, 2021 at 22:36:

  • T,
    I love that you’re leaving Partey out, I’m so disgusted with him.. but because Xhaka was abused physically vs Everton I’d only consider him as a limited sub.
    Unfortunately, the person making the decision is the one who abused him, so who knows?

    I have been a big fan of Tierney, but now I prefer Tavares. That’s how much I like him. Partly because I can’t stand seeing KT getting caught out when he’s up the pitch… it’s frustrating, because he’s just come back , and it happens in his first game back. Watching on TV, all I keep seeing is him scrambling back too late as an opponent scores.

    HH , I don’t want to be argumentative, because we agree on many technical points, but I have to say you come across as a fan whose sole objective is to see Arteta gone. The objective must be to see the team improve and succeed. I wouldn’t care who was coaching.

    Madhu made a great point again yesterday.. I find myself quoting him a lot.

    When he said: “Where I cannot fault him is the decisive direction (Hope so) that he had taken which is apparent from his summer business” …. to me , personally, that’s been key to appreciating the manager for the moment.
    But nothing is absolute… we always knew the team could stumble at any moment during the nice run we were on. I didn’t expect him to crumble as he did these couple games.

    I’ve said this before, it’s not just about picking up good points the next few games. I’ll be judging him by… if he regains control. The team has lost cohesion somehow. I think it’s mostly down to being outplayed in midfield, which has hurt our forwards and finally our defense. His in-game decisions and lineups have had the look of a confused manager flailing around, hoping something will work.

    I liked the building the team, and our play from the back, and the direction we were heading. So I’m saying to “stay the course”. But not blindly following.

  • Wise words Jync (and Madhu). I’m amazed that Partey is starting. He needs a break and we have other options. I hope things go well for him (and us) today. He has already admitted to knowing that he is below par, a bad game today and it could really hurt his already fragile confidence and of course some of our so-called fans may get rather unpleasant and over the top. N.B. I nearly said “poisonous” but then thought better of it!

  • No Auba, even not on the bench. Partey gets another chance. Martinelli also gets another start. That’s a team with lots of movement and passing ability. Hope to see Emile come on in second half.


  • Arsenal XI: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney, Saka, Partey, Xhaka, Martinelli, Odegaard, Lacazette.

    Subs: Okonkwo, Smith-Row, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Soares, Pépé, Tavares, Lokonga, Nketiah.

  • I hate the lineup. But let’s see if the manager has motivated this same group into a better performance.

    Still the question remains about Lokonga. Did Vincent Kompany not warn Sambi not to look at Mikel in the wrong way? Obviously he has offended him somehow.

    Not bright to kick out a talented Guendouzi (young France international).. then replace him with a young, talented Lokonga… then alienate him from the team too.

    If Sambi wasn’t on the bench, we would all be assuming he’s injured.

  • TA, that is the $100 question! Let’s hear what Mikel says at the end of the match although if there is a problem with his mentality or between him and the manager I’m sure we will be told about a “sickness” or something non-specific.

  • J, is Sambi not simply being saved so he is fit and available when Partey goes to the Afcon? Imagine him getting injured, where would that leave us? He is only young in the end..

  • TA, do you think that AMN is being saved for the same reason as you have given for Sambi’s treatment? I can’t believe it. Both need to be given minutes, if only as substitutes. Whatever Arteta said to Ainsley to keep him with us this season I doubt that Ainsley imagined he would have been used as sparingly as he has.

  • Guys, have you looked at the December fixtures and the way the games will be coming thick and fast? Do we pay attention to the rotation going on at other top clubs?

    Sambi is a great talent but cannot keep out either of Partey and Xhaka, for now, who are even more experienced heads. Then, there is the AFCON departures to come. We must use players sparingly and give as many as possible a chance. I have little to question with the selection, though I would rather have had Auba on. If Auba is sulking, he should be dropped.

  • So here is a risk scenario, OX10 and others: Partey goes to AFCON, Xhaka gets a red card or has a relapse of his injury… AMN and Loko are then last men standing in January (or even before that). They will get their chance (again). Well this makes utter sense to me. Having said that, I would have started Lokonga today as I rate him highly and love watching him.

  • I’ll say as I did at halftime against Everton… Xhaka should be the first player subbed, for his health and these guys are rusting away on the bench. They need game minutes.

    We were so bad for the first 20 or so that against a good team, we’d be 2 down. Maybe the confidence will change some things.

    Ødegaard is going to be a star 🌟. You know I said it. That backheel to Saka deserved a goal.

  • These are the games we should look to score a bagful, not because S’pton are a bad side but because they will have to come out at us now, leaving gaps at the back. Already, we have fluffed our lines on three such occasions to put the gloss on the scoreline but more will come and we just need to stay composed.

    First goal was a testament to the advantage in insisting on playing out the back. From Ramsdale under pressure but managing to keep his head to pass to White, who released it to Tomi and from then, it was mostly one touch Partey, Tomi, Saka, cut back and Laca buries it in the top corner.
    We must press them and not give them a sniff.

    Xhaka is out of sorts and I agree, he needs to be introduced back in carefully. We must keep him hungry so he can be ready when he plays more consistently.

    Second half has begun.

  • Martinelli has also been a bright spark out there.

    Loved how Xhaka and Ode have forced Redmond to go to the by-line and running out of options. Tomiyasu is a proper machine.

  • 3-0! Gabriel seems to be celebrating a new arrival to his family as he scores with a determined header. Now, that’s what I am talking about.

  • We are starting to purr all of a sudden. What a 3 goals cushion can do. We’ve hit the woodwork twice now. Martinelli and Saka. Controlling things now and more dominant. The Ref has been a bit suspicious with his decisions. When is that rest for Xhaka coming?

    Holding comes on for Gabriel.

  • Holding is unrecognizable to me with that shock of hair on his head (after starting the season with a thinning hairline). Looks like he’s had a transplant or something. 😝

  • Just for the fact it keeps him fresh, having been out for so long, it is a good sub for me. But, we need to rest Saka, Xhaka, Ode, Laca and even Partey. Thought we would see any two of Loko, AMN, Pepe and Soares.

  • How perfect would a sub for Xhaka be right now though? As I am typing, I see finally the Sambi BOYCOTT has ended.

  • Subs make more sense today, good stuff. Tomi is still my favourite player, what an amazing RB

  • West Ham will be the test to see if the progress is real or if it’s just another win against a bad team

  • West Ham will be the real test to see if this is progress or if it was just beating a bad team again. Either way, three points is three points!

  • HH, City and Hammers drew against the Saints. They are not as bad as you think but it has been relatively easy for us and the Hammers game will indeed be a good test.

    RIght off to put the Christmas Tree up. Come on The Canaries!

  • Did not watch the game but it sounds as good as could be expected. We played a poor Southampton with a 40 year old keeper making his debut. This game came at a really good time for us as West ham will be a real test.

    Nice to see the 3 different scorers and 3 different assist makers. The only good thing about not having a superstar in the team is that we are not overly reliant in one guy having a good game any more.

  • We started horribly… but playing out from the back got us back in it. Ramsdale instrumental in 2 goals.
    World class keeper.

  • Auba was dropped due to disciplinary breach. Would like him gone in Jan and Tierny or Xhaka to be given the captaincy.

  • TA, Saints have a lot of injuries (Walcott, Adams, both GKs, Stuart Armstrong) this season so the team we saw isn’t the same one that drew with City or West Ham. But yes, technically no easy games in the prem.

  • West Ham next? We’ll have to play at much higher level in skill, but especially energy. I don’t know what Moyes is feeding those boys. Maybe cycling drugs or horse uppers. I get exhausted watching them. I’d be starting Tavares and Ainsley. West Ham are winning by using sheer will.

  • HH, the Southampton side we played against was no different from the one that earned a draw against City. Che Adams was the only serious miss. Theo isn’t a sure starter and McCarthy isn’t a better keeper than who featured today. Caballero is an experienced goalie, having played for Malaga, Chelsea and City, albeit in back-up and cup keeper capacity. He was always good when he was needed for his clubs. At 40, that’s supposed to be peak years for keeper, no?

    We see how we do against West ham, then. I do hope we won’t be explaining things away when we defeat them too.

  • Southampton have only suffered one heavier defeat this season, 4-0 at Liverpool, they’ve also drawn with Man Utd and drawn at Man City.

    Small steps to recapture the teams confidence and but for hitting the post twice it would have been 5-0, the result and performance seems to show that despite the many inaccurate and ill informed rumours that Arteta continues to retain the support of most of his players.

  • I guess I underestimated them a bit Kev. On the other hand, I think Everton was overestimated.

    Eris, believe me, I noticed all those penalties. The Man City one was such a gift to them.
    As if they need it. The rich get richer.

  • Eris, spin it how you want but three regular starters for them is a big miss, including their starting DM in Oriel Romeu. The team was not really close to the one that faced City lol (4 guys missing with Salisu too!).

    You take out Partey or Xhaka, Ramsdale and Lacazette from our side and it probably looks a bit different for us. McCarthy is better than Caballero, who was recently unsigned and only found a team due to Soton’s injury crisis in goal.

  • PB and Jync thanks for your kind words. PB I am clear that it’s the points and league table is always the place to look at improvements. Isn’t the old saying the League table never lies? It’s the same way as in circket we say look at the score sheet . Any improvements can only be gauged in a measurable manner and it’s the basis of any performance evaluation. We are at 26 points from 16. With 9 points available till we reach the half way mark, we are on target for 60-65 points which doesn’t suggest much progress. Ending with that many points at best will guarantee us the 8th place and if lucky may be 7th. I leave it teh everyone to decide for themselves is that’s progress. I know my opinion.
    Anyways a good results yesterday and ode scoring 3 in a row is great. We still need to sort out striker situation fast as that’s an area of concern.
    Auba is a disgrace and it’s the second time he has been dropped due to decisplinary issue. What amazes me is that he reports late or misses training , is he like waiting for a bus or a train or getting stuck in traffic. He drives around his fancy cars which may not breakdown as well in the middle of the road. What the hell is going on? He is repeat offender which shows disrespect to his club and fans. Also iam sure he has got a mobile surely he can call and let people know his whereabouts and if he going to be late, isn’t it what we all do when we are stuck in traffic ??. Strange are the ways of these superstars , common man like me don’t understand. How is he still captain and in teh club. Isn’t there anything in the contract which docks him his wages or terminates him? Oh wait may be it’s Wenger’s creation the Colney Creche culture. Please remind me when Wenger was sacked and his shadow was not allowed on AFC? Rediculous state of affairs and disgusting for fans like us to be witnessing such bizarre behaviour. Sack him and throw him out of the club he deserves it. Nobody is indispensible and greater than the club.

  • Lol, HH. The spin is coming from you, trying to use the opponent’s injury list to degrade our good home win. So, which of the goals conceded by Caballero was McCarthy (or, even Forster) going to save? Fact is even with a full squad and with us depleted (many times in the recent past), Southampton have not overcome us at home; we do have a decent record away to them, too.

    Not long ago, this year, with McCarthy in goal and a full squad, we did put 3 past them at the St. Mary’s. I think it was January, 2021….. Lacazette, Pepe and some other player I cannot recall now, scored in the game. We had Cedric, Bellerin, Holding and David Luis in defence. Let’s enjoy the win and remain hopeful and supportive of the efforts of the players and management team. If Arteta is really poor as a manager, someone will make the call to axe him (and I am not even suggesting I understand him or like everything about his style). Till then, let’s encourage him, not question every decision or make out like as humans, we make the most perfect life decisions always.

    So, it is on to Wednesday then.

  • Madhu, to be fair, extrapolating points haul from the halfway point is not and has never been a perfect science. For instance, apart from Chelsea and Spurs, we would be playing our rivals for top 6 at home. No chance all those points losses are repeated. Again, some teams will experience slumps as the knock out stages of the cup games come and injuries pile up; others, fighting to avoid relegation and changing managers, get stronger taking points from unlikely sources; some teams go on a winning run (Wenger used to do that a lot) to change their fortunes. Of course, I know these can affect every team in different ways.

    In the end, it will be about the most consistent sides that breast the tape in good shape. These days, 65 points can get you 5th or 6th, but I believe we will be closer to 70 points this season, unless we experience a shocking wobble of gigantic proportions.

  • Fair point goonereris, I agree that its not a definite science but an indication on the likely target. I agree that we may be closer to 70 but all indications point to between 60 -65. Anything above 65 will take us closer to Europe.

  • Hey Johnno, I’m not sure about underestimating or overestimating it’s just football mate, players can be weird, I guess there are just days when they turn up and it just all goes to pot – saying that I could do with some pot.

    I missed the game, for family reasons, so I can’t comment on the match or atmosphere at the stadium, hopefully Pete can pop in and give us an idea of how it went.

    I did see the goals on You Tube and the first one was by the seat of our pants, great cross and finish though, Odegaard’s was every bit ghosting in, maybe he’s 10 years ahead of his time (older readers will understand), loved Gabriel’s goal, we’re really getting the hang of dead ball situations and I’m happy about that.

    Ok, onto the next one and hey, I’ve got an idea, try and enjoy it. 😀

  • Haha Eris, my point was this Southampton team was even weaker than the one that City and West Ham faced. We won fair and square and can only beat the team in front of us. Doesn’t change the fact that we continue to beat on bad teams and have struggled against good ones.

    Yesterday was good, so I’m just enjoying that and hoping it builds momentum for Wednesday.

  • Kev, another thing I’ve been pointing out is that Ramsdale was largely involved in 2 of our goals. That’s why he did a knee slide celebration like a striker.
    His spine tingling risks which sucked in the pressing saints made that beautiful first goal.. Tomiyasu was most responsible after that.. but great team goal from the back.

    Later, Aaron’s long ball to Martinelli almost got him straight through with a gk assist… but it resulted directly in a corner… then the goal.

  • J, I’ve just watched the game and thought the same about Aaron, he made some good stops too and was assertive in his box. Tomi had a great game, what an acquisition he is proving to be.

    If he can keep up this level of performance I would pick Martinelli ahead of Auba. He offers more unpredictability going forward and supports our LB much more effectively. He (and Saka) deserved a goal today.

    As others have said we shouldn’t get carried away by this performance but, it was a good confidence boost ahead of Wednesday’s match which will be a much sterner test for us.

  • That defeat to Everton becomes more annoying with the way Palace have beaten them. Lesson: need to kill off teams without mercy!

  • Eris, I also think that Palace saw how physical Everton were against Arsenal and decided to get stuck in themselves, once you match Everton’s aggression they’ve not got much else to offer.

  • Morning all, here last weekends results for our competition:-

    For the week:-
    The Tottenham game was postponed which left us with only 5 games.

    1st Total with a perfect 5/5 plus 4 points for the most correct predictions = 9 points
    2nd Kev with 3/5 plus 2 points for a correct score = 5 points
    3rd GN5, Eris, Madhu & OX10 with 4/5 = 4 points.

    Season to date :-

    1st Eris with 84.46
    2nd OX10 with 82.13
    3rd Madhu with 76.66
    4th Total with 72.13
    5th GN5 with 69.13
    6th Kev with 62.33


    Well done Total you are bounding up the table.

  • These are my choices for the coming weekend:-

    Aston Villa v Burnley
    Watford v Crystal Palace
    Leeds v Arsenal *
    Tottenham v Liverpool *
    Everton v Leicester
    Sevilla v Aletico Madrid *

  • Aston Villa v Burnley…..H
    Watford v C. Palace……..D
    Leeds v Arsenal……………W (1-2)*
    Tottenham v Liverpool.A (0-3)
    Everton v Leicester…….D
    Sevilla v Ath Madrid……A (0-2)

  • Aston Villa v Burnley H
    Watford v Crystal Palace – A
    Leeds v Arsenal * – 2-3
    Tottenham v Liverpool * 0-2
    Everton v Leicester – A
    Sevilla v Aletico Madrid * 0-1

  • “Everyone is going to have a better or worse draw, unless you draw the same team”

    The genius that is Michael Owen commenting on the botched CL draw yesterday. 🙄

  • Throwback to when Michael Owen said: “When Man City don’t score, they hardly ever win”

  • Total, you have to realise that Michael Owen’s insightfulness knows no bounds, he is a man of gigantic intellectual vision, a man who puts into words exactly what we’re all thinking, but can’t articulate, like for example “If I put the kettle on, then I can make myself a cup of tea” … 😉

  • Hahahaha! Kev, I have heard Owen does have a reputation for some of the most curious foot-in-mouth quips. Believe it or not, he said this: “That would’ve been a goal had it gone inside the post.”. He is a legend at these things. 😀

    Ian Holloway is another.

  • Arsenal FC CLUB UPDATE:

    Following his latest disciplinary breach last week, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will no longer be our club captain, and will not be considered for selection for Wednesday’s match against West Ham United.

    We expect all our players, particularly our captain, to work to the rules and standards we have all set and agreed.

    We are fully focused on tomorrow’s match.

    Copyright 2021 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source.

  • He looks like he’s a footballer.

    Your are on your own out there, with ten mates.

    If there’s a bit of rain about, the pitch gets wet.

    It’s hit the facial part of his head there.

    That’s a fantastic penalty, but he’s gutted it went wide.

    When they don’t score, they hardly ever win.


  • V disappointed in Auba. We all felt he could do better but gave him the benefit of the doubt. Those Wenger signings in his last few years were badly vetted on character and loyalty. A move this January would be best outcome unless he is prepared to make a huge change in behaviour.

  • Aston Villa v Burnley H
    Watford v Crystal Palace D
    Leeds v Arsenal * A 0-2
    Tottenham v Liverpool * A 1-3
    Everton v Leicester A
    Sevilla v Aletico Madrid * H 1-0

  • I do hope we don’t have a drawn-out Ozil-like saga withAuba now. Given his recent performances, behaviour, wages and age I’m not sure that it will be easy to offload Auba in January or next summer. The best outcome for me would be that Auba reflects on what has happened and comes back to the squad determined to prove a point without the burden or distraction of the captaincy to hold him back. Given what we have seen since he got his current contract I’m not that hopeful though.

  • GN5, those are priceless and I am guessing they must be from the stable of Michael Owen. 😂😂

  • My predictions follow:

    Aston Villa v Burnley. H
    Watford v Crystal Palace H
    Leeds v Arsenal * A 1-2
    Tottenham v Liverpool * A 0-2
    Everton v Leicester D
    Sevilla v Aletico Madrid * H 2-1

  • GN5 that has to be the Welsh Scouser, but it really could be any of a dozen of those rent a quote morons. 🙄

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