Battle 7/17: Two Possible Changes – Preview/ Lineup

Recharge the Canon and Take Down the Claret and Blue Army

After Wednesday’s bonus game v Pool we are back to business, tomorrow. It would have been nice to get something from the Pool game but, as Arteta rightly stuck to playing with the same system and did not park the bus against Klopp’s team, a loss was almost inevitable. It was a necessary test to see where we are when it comes to playing the top teams, and we should be encouraged from our recent performances against Citeh and Liverpool. In the end we lost through small individual mistakes and lack of confidence/experience at the crucial moments. A better final ball after fine dribbling by Martinelli and it’s one nil; one more touch before shooting by the Ode and he can pick his spot; a stronger hand by Ramsdale and it is still 0-0, and; a midfielder running to block the pass and it stays 0-1 and we are still in the game. Small margins but the team will get better and better and maybe next time it will be us who finish victoriously.

We are not quite there yet and for me it is more a matter of the young players becoming stronger than strengthening the team through many purchases. We need more strength in depth for next season and one or two positions could do with an improvement, but the biggest gain will come from keeping this group of players together and letting them grow. And that includes the likes of Xhaka and Laca for whom I doff my hat at the end of every game.

We tamed the Foxes, bees, hornets and wolves in recent games and now it is time to sort out the Lions of Birmingham. I have a lot of respect for that club and the current manager and they will feel they have a good chance to get three points of us. The assumption will be that we are a bit tired after that Pool test, but I think the boys will be ready to take them on and show who is boss. They know this is a bread and butter game and Villa are nowhere near as strong as Pool. There will be frustration in Arteta’s youngsters and nothing is better than to play a game almost straightaway. I expect them to do us proud.

I cannot see many changes but it looks time to give Emile and Tomiyasu a start (the manager is cagey about the latter which makes me think he will actually start tomorrow). No doubt the players will tire a bit around seventy minutes and Arteta will be able to bring on new blood then.

So my predicted lineup is something like this:

Players after the slash likely to come on as subs

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!

By TotalArsenal.

113 thoughts on “Battle 7/17: Two Possible Changes – Preview/ Lineup

  • Thanks for another super positive post Total, you do a fantastic job.

    I’m not sure that Arteta can or will make any changes from Wednesday, he’s unlikely to risk Tomiyasu as we’re gonna need him for the run-in and Soares has done ok, so same starting XI.

    Villa are being heavily tipped to twist the knife in our post-Scouse wounds but that’s just routine for our clueless media. We really have to get the show back on the road, so it’s OGAAT and this next on our biggest game of the season…

  • Villa game is surely a test for our bounceability. It’s another test in our teams.character and coaching staff. Villa is a good team and adding Coutinhio in the mix has made them even better. We have to win to put some distance between the teams. Begining of ye season there was talk that they are of the same level as us. So it’s good to get one against them to establish the gap.
    I do worry a bit about the fatigue but they should still be fresh and small squad will start hurting from now on.
    Regarding the last post comments on Xhaka if we don’t move on and explore new options we will never know. Never die wondering, we should never be shy to look for upgrade. Prime example is Ramsdale, nobody thought Leno was our problem but we made the move for an upgrade and we never knew what be brought to the team untill he took over from Leno. Does anyone think about Leno now? So we should upgrade on Xhaka and not be shy about it. We may be pleasantly surprised at an exponential upgrade of teh team.

  • Yes Kev, OGAAT indeed. Happy with Soares to whom I also should have doffed my hat 🧢 in the post. What a worker! Gut feeling is that the Shinkansen will start, though. 🙂

  • Fine preview, TA and very much the ideal post as always. I was half expecting you’d restart the countdown after the loss, to read 1/11; you know, to see how many more wins we can get on the bounce. Lol.

    For reasons best known to them, the schedulers have given us an early start on a Saturday, knowing we played a gruelling game just on Wednesday night, maybe to test how much our lack of European nights know-how, this season, will affect our recovery (at least, that’s my theory). We should disappoint them because I am sure Arteta would have reminded the boys it has to be one game at a time. We cannot dwell on the loss to Liverpool as that game could have gone either way, on another night. Rather, we should take courage from the way we matched Klopp’s men in every department of the game except taking our chances. This is something we’ve not managed for a while now.

    Line up is likely to remain same as last game, though I have a sneaky feeling we could start one of Pepe or ESR to rest either Saka or Martinelli, to bring them on later. After this weekend, there would be the international break so, may have to get the best out of our best legs. We shall wait to see what Arteta does.

    Villa will have something to prove and have players/men who will raise their game(s) against us: Martinez in goal; Coutinho, Douglas Luis, Emi Buendia, Leon Bailey, to remind us what we missed out when we ignored them in the transfer windows; Ollie Watkins, because his family are Arsenal supporters; and Stevie Gerrard, because he just wants to prove he is a better manager and a Scouse. Hopefully, we are on it from the start.

    Good luck to the lads.

  • Fair enough, Madhu. The difference between you and me is that I don’t believe there is left footed upgrade to Xhaka out there who will make the same impact as Ramsdale And would come to Arsenal. I know this and so have all Arsenal’s managers since Granit joined the club.

  • Madhu, I guess the word you meant to put out there is “bouncebackability”, another from Arsene Wenger’s numerous coined words, after some frustration or another. One other one I recall is “Old Traffordish”, describing poor Ref decisions that gave Manure a win at home. 😅 Legend!

  • Some other reports credit Ian Dowie with the phrase, though. But, I only recall Wenger’s use of it after a bad defeat under his watch.

  • Fine comment, Eris, more or less a post. Playing this third game in a week away is tough, and I would take a draw now tbh. Villa away is never easy and yes those players will be up for it. Gérard will also instruct their players to rough us up.

    I am banking on our shape and style of play now, which has seen us playing calm and dominantly and without fear in these sorts of games. Key is for Thomas and Granit – the wall of Parka – to calmly dominate midfield again, for the defence to stay organised and for our attackers to move and pass the Lions to dispair. And yes take our chances this time round. I think we will get a goal (or two) from midfield.

  • Re starting again – 1/11 – I never expected us to win them all. Pool was always going to be hard, so it’s it’s the next out of seventeen for me.

    It’s going to be tough today and my bet with Stuart will be tested alright. Gérard will target him, Partey and Gabriel. I also expect Saka and Martinelli to get kicked. It will not be pretty. A proper test.

  • I get that, TA. 17 games was the original countdown and it is fair to stay that course and see how we fair; I believe we will surprise most, if our players remain largely fit and available.

    I read Matty Cash is already speaking about keeping Martinelli at bay and if Ashley Young starts on their left side, Saka is surely getting the rough treatment. We should be up for it and do the double over Villa this season.

  • Great post TA. Really looking forward to this one. Need to shake off the Pool game and get back to it.

    As for the last post re. Xhaka.
    I’ve been a fan of him for a long time but he’s been on the decline for a few seasons now. Injuries to Partey have prolonged our dependence on him but now that Partey has had some continuation in his game Xhaka has been forced to play a different role for the team. A role that doesn’t really suit him. He’s in no man’s land to be honest. Not enough of a threat moving forward and he’s second guessing himself defensively thanks to a few brain farts that have cost the team. He’s playing thanks to a lack of a better option at the moment (I see Lokonga as a Partey replacement and I do think he and Partey play well together). The squad is thin and he is rarely injured (thank goodness).

    Yes Arteta plays him but what is the alternative? Elneny? Our other midfielders have burned their bridges and been forced out on loan (guendouzi, AMN, Torreira). Xhaka was basically available for a team to come in and get him but all that was received was an insulting offer from Roma. That tells me all I need to know. We would have been selling him at his lowest possible valuation (10M). It’d be pointless given he is a leader, is consistent, and plays a role that we need at this point in time. Like Laca he would be a great squad player if we were in Europe and other domestic competitions.

    As for stats:
    – current season : 19 games – 0 goals, 1 assist
    – 2020/21 : 45 games – 1 goal, 2 assists
    – 2019/20 : 41 games – 1 goal, 2 assists
    – 2 seasons prior to that he was contributing a lot more to goals, assists, and chance creation which confirms my point that he has declined in recent years.

    The liverpool game. Yes a lot did go through the left but that was because Martinelli was causing TAA a lot of problems and we often utilise Tierney a lot. Unfortunately Saka wasn’t having as much success down the right. So we had to.

    In terms of upgrades. Unfortunately Bruno Guimaraes got snapped up. I think Neves (Wolves) and Tielemens (Leicester) are both upgrades and fit our age profile. Both are players that haven’t hit their prime and could grow with the team (like Odegaard has). Fabian Ruiz from Napoli is another (left sided too) – a player Arteta reportedly tried to get for 42M but was turned down.

    Again, I like Xhaka but he doesn’t offer enough. To me he is the personification of Arsenal and where we’ve been over the past 5 years – Good but not good enough. If we’re happy finishing 4-8th on the table then we should keep Xhaka and Laca. We’d be content with the 6-7 out of 10 performances with a lot of the load being placed on Odegaard and our young wingers. If we want more and want to win the league either of them should be moved on or positioned to backup only.

    I know you are eternally optimistic and it’s very rare for you to write off a player but even you can’t be too happy with our squad and where we’ve been at for the last 10 years. Time to get back to the old Arsenal we know and love – one that challenges.

  • It will be a very early start for me, but (to paraphrase the Stones) what more can a poor boy do but give up sleep for his football team…
    I remain happy to lose my bet with you, Total, and agree that cool heads in the maelstrom of midfield will win the day.
    Thanks for the post.

  • That is a great comment, Oz. I agree with just a little bit of it, but you explained yourself well. The thing I agree with is that Xhaka being pushed up is a challenge for him. One that will take time and I believe he also will master eventually.

    It is plain wrong to use goals and assists stats to judge Granit. That’s never been his role. What he brings is, essential and only very few seeem to notice or value.

    Granit wanted away because he needs to be loved and respected and is a proud man. Mikel spent best part of £200m last summer and could have easily replaced him. Yet he was delighted when Granit decided to stay. First one on the team sheet and Mikel’s brain and conductor on the pitch. Plays, every game when fit. Without fail.

    He is in his prime now and vital to the structure and development of our game under Mikel. Tielemans would be lucky to be allowed to polish his boots, and a different type anyway – more of an ESR.

    Odegaard fully recognised the importance of Granit and Thomas keeping the shape and allowing him the freedom to play. It’s a team game with roles and tasks under Mikel. Once you will see that, you will understand Granit great value.

  • Good evening Stuart!! One to stay up for. That’s commitment. I love the thought of Gooners all over the world watching our boys in different timezones, weather, cities and villages.

  • One more thing, Oz.. Partey is a much, much better player with Granit on the pitch. It’s their partnership that is making the difference and I hope it can continue for the remainder of the season. We need more depth in central midfield, though, and mayby a better left fielded midfielder will arrive at some point. I am not saying Granit is perfect, he is not, but he is not getting the credit for what he means to our team and its development. Trust Arteta, he was a midfielder himself after all.. 👍🏻

  • I know we will differ on Granit and that is OK. Let us hope he and the team have a great game today. Ome On You Rip Roaring Gunners 🌋 🌋 🌋

  • TA, i slightly agree and i still maintain taht we can get an upgrade on Xhaka and unless we do thay we don’t know what we have missed.
    Eris yes that’s the word that i was trying to use.
    Iam worried about the ability of this team to cope up with 3 games in a week. Arteta doesn’t trust anyone other than ESR from the first 11. We ahve 11 games and the squad lack of depth may be the ultimate Achilles heel this season.

  • Thanks for your response. I don’t think we will see eye to eye on this issue and that’s perfectly fine.

    I do think Arteta will get a midfielder ASAP in the summer window. Flip a coin to see who is bought first…a striker or a midfielder to replace xhaka.

    I think he would had been replaced if Roma came to the table with more money last season. Even his great performance at the Euros wasn’t enough to get them to offer more. That and the focus was on getting odegaard in. Xhaka offers stability and with odegaard coming in and Partey struggling to stay fit he was a required player.

    I’m not the only one banging the drum either. Listen to the arsecast, read legrove (a much more level headed blog than what it was 10 years ago), any of the other arsenal podcasts – the writing is on the wall. This is probably the only blog that thinks Xhaka is worthy of srarting in next season.

    I’d like to see him partnering lokonga in the cup comps next year.

  • No sign of Martinelli today – is he injured or just rested?

    1 Leno
    17 Cedric
    4 White
    6 Gabriel
    3 Tierney
    5 Thomas
    34 Xhaka
    Smith Rowe
    8 Odegaard
    7 Saka
    9 Lacazette (c)

    33 Okonkwo
    16 Holding
    20 Tavares
    69 Swanson
    25 Elneny
    23 Lokonga
    82 Hutchinson
    19 Pepe
    30 Nketiah

  • Oz, how many years have blogs and bloggers like you been doing this to Xhaka, yet the managers stick to him religiously?! He will not be replaced unless he decides to leave. I think he will retire a Gunner in 2028. 😁

  • My son has my tablet so I’m getting it second hand but it seems that we’re on top – and with we go one up through Saka.

  • It would be nice to get the security of a second goal before fatigue becomes a factor.

  • We passed Test No. 7 and in flying colours, may I add. That was a coming of age game too, since it suggests we could shake off the lethargy of losing a game we matched our illustrious opponents in, midweek. We also stayed strong to go 3 games in 6 days and get 6pts from 9pts. No mean feat.

    Partey, Xhaka, White and Saka stood out, for me. Leno didn’t show any side effects of being displaced by the supposed back up keeper. We are now 4 PTS clear of 5th with one game in hand over 5th placed manure.

    Happy days!

  • Yeah, Kev. But we didn’t and made it a nervy last few minutes.

    We must improve on killing off teams when we are on the Up, to make the finishing line a certainty.

  • Great win but very nervy even if villa didnt offer much. Laca needs to go no need to offer him a new contract. Never attacks the ball in the box always lingers on back post behind the first defender. Also the propensity to go back from opponents box all the way to our box without a shot on opponents goal is just not good enough.
    Massive win though and few guys needs rest after this effort. We looked fatigued which is a worry.

  • Thank goodness. Another 3 points banked! I know it’s “every game is a cup final” right now…and it def feels like it. Here is hoping others around us drop points.

    They have an I listed examples as to why I think it’s more complex than that.

  • Arteta should speak out against the way Saka gets treated on the pitch. Most games now he’s getting the Reyes treatment and our opponents keep getting away with it. Young can commit foul after foul and get nothing. Then our player fouls once and it’s straight in the book (Xhaka today). I know Saka invites the challenge and his opponents are worried but people said the same about Wilshere and it added up and ruined his career.

    Would also press the “us vs. Them” mentality some more too. And we need all the help we can get to finish off this season strong.

  • But while Saka might have got the winner and enjoyed his day in the main, he was a target of the Villa players throughout as he was chopped down more than once. Ever the resilient player, Saka did little complaining in the game and simply got on with the job in hand. However, he was seen speaking to the referee at full-time and the England man has explained why.

    “I wasn’t complaining, but I wanted to let him know that is my game. I’m going to run at players; sometimes I need a bit more protection when the opposition is trying to kick me,” Saka said after the game (BBC).

  • Just thought I would post that quote as it just shows how mature he is. He is a once in a generation talent, it is now time for foden and sancho to be compared to him instead of the other way round.

  • Really disappointed in Eddie. He’s in the shop window and I hoped he’d be busting a gut to show that he’s giving it all (like laca). Instead he looked disinterested and was lazy (barely putting in a jog at times). Show some more pride in your performances even if you are disappointed with the lack of game time.

    I like Pepe but sometimes I question his football IQ (capable of the sublime with equal parts of brain fade)…that foul could have undone all our hard work. Not sure what he was thinking.

    Back 4 were absolute rocks again today. Tomi going to have to win back his spot.

  • A very mature and professional performance from the team apart from a few lapses like Pepe’s needless foul in the final minute and Xhaka’s silly push which earned him a yellow card. Before you say anything TA, I agree that it was no more than a tickle and certainly no worse than the Villa player’s push which provoked it and if it had been any other player a card probably would not have been shown. However, Xhaka should know by now that refs like to target him and keep his emotions under control. I agree that Saka should be given more protection and believe that more of the challenges on home would have resulted in yellow cards if the Villa plays who committed them had not already been booked.

    Yes, it was a shame that we didn’t finish the game off but I put that down to tired legs and brains after Wednesday and, in the case of Laca, the pressure on him to score more. The only real disappointment was with our subs who I felt could have done more, especially Eddie who at best jogged back to do his defensive duties (in sharp contrast to Laca who he replaced) and was ineffectual going forward.

  • OX10, it was a needles yellow card and it is a part of Granit’s character I am less appreciative of. Yet they were trying to bully us and Xhaka was doing something back (but clumsily).

  • Villa were poor because they were subdued by our excellence, our passing, pressing, composure and fortitude. Gilberto was known as “the Wall” by his Brazilian team mates. Commentators did not rave about him because he was rarely flashy, but he was integral to our great Invincibles era. Thomas and Granit worked together brilliantly to screen our defence. Thomas, as acknowledged by Total is the better player but together they give us so much solidity.
    The early hours of a day are soft, newly filled with hope and grace… and three points to boot!!! Yesssssss!

  • Here’s an interesting stat.

    We have won 17 games in our first 28 games this season and have only won more that 5 times in our 29 year EPL history.

  • We never gave them a sniff, Stuart. Villa were up for it, the crowd and the players. And yes we stop them from playing football with great pressing and passing. Just awesome.

    Enjoy your gentle morning.

  • We’re limited in that goalscoring department Eris with even the guys who usually come on late in games namely Nketiah and Pepe being seriously unreliable, but we have at the moment and in the words of Kurt Cobain ‘Smells like team spirit’ – I nicked that off of Arseblog 😉

  • Loved the way the team surrounded Leno at the end, loved it that Ramsdale travelled with the squad despite being injured and his moment with Leno at the end of the match.

    As for Ashley Young’s charmless complaints about Arsenal celebrating at the end, well Ashley as they say in my old manor of Newington Green ‘do one you mug’…

  • My motm was Partey. He is a totally different player now. Remember I was very down on him earlier in the season.

    He may be playing the best midfield in the premier league right now.

    T, I think the plan is to upgrade on Xhaka in the summer… he is a very good player, under appreciated for sure…… but I bet Arteta wants somebody more mobile who can run into the box, set up, and score some goals.

    Xhaka could be ok as depth for midfield, but it might be a problem because he is so accustomed to playing every minute for club and country. It does mean we will need more than one midfielder if he goes… I’m assuming we’ll use Lokonga more and promote a youngster like Patino for depth also.

  • TA, if we dont move on we will never know. Surely we can upgrade Xhaka get the same work rate, more mobility, less of madness etc. Same with laca, aim sure Arteta will see these two positions are pushing the bar higher up. We cannot be scared of funding solutions to raise the bar.
    Stuart mentioned about Gilberto not only was he the invisible wall but managed to assist and score wonder goals like that volley from Pires across. May be iam not that intelligent in seeing what he does , but it’s my opinion that we should find an upgrade in his position.

  • TA whatever it is we are as a team hitting yeh results needed. Arteta has earned enough credit and whom am i to argue with any decision he takes including wiht Xhaka and laca. But the desire to see an upgrade in these position is great. To see laca hanging behind a defender always not attacking near posts and generally so indecisive in the penalty box is painful.

  • It was a cracking volley indeed, Madhu.
    The two players EPL stats are very similar, tho’ striking (and interesting) differences in pass rates and disciplinary record…
    Gilberto: 170 appearances. Goals 17. Assists 11. Passes 2,601 Wins 105 Losses 24 Red cards 2 Yellow cards 9
    Xhaka: 178 Appearances. Goals 9. Assists 16. Passes 12,629 Wins 94. Losses 49 Red Cards 4 yellow cards 48

  • Great comments guys. It was a superb win given that it was our third battle in six days. An absolutely pivotal win just before the break. A loss would have all the whingers out.

    Re Xhaka I cannot convince the majority on here. If you are fixated on mobility, something western European football fans are much less so, you will keep finding fault. What he brings is vital and much less visible. I have written dozens of posts about it over the years, so will not continue about it endlessly.

    All I ask you to do is to trust the manager who loves and builds on Xhaka (and Partey). And maybe show him the respect he so deserves, or at least control your dislike a bit when we do not win. Granit always gives his all for the shirt and all the players love him. The manager banks on him. That should tell you more than your prejudices.

  • Re Laca…. Another player who is so under appreciated at the moment. The same happened with Giroud and then he went to the Chavs, and the rest is history. Alex is creating space and link up play for others,, he does a great chasing and pressing game, and it is vital for our game plan right now. Yes we would like some goals too, and they will come again, but judge him on a much wider picture please.

  • I get Xhaka’s use and worth but I can’t see it with Laca (past this season…obviously we need him now). At the start of the season it felt like his mentality was “the goals will come” but at the moment i dont even know if he feels that way. He looks so low in confidence. The error against villa when we were 4 v 2 in the box. Could have been very costly. He’s only playing because our only other option is nketiah and he is far worse. At least with Giroud he caused havoc in the box. He tried to nip in front of defenders to get to crosses. I think Giroud would have a field day playing with the fullbacks that can actually cross (Tierney and Cedric) and wingers that are causing defenders all sorts of problems. I think he also did a better job at bringing others into the play. I don’t think it’s also Laca’s fault – in a perfect world he’d be able to have a rest and not have to play through a rough patch.

    I’d love to see us buy Patrik Schick from Bayer Leverkusen. He’d be a perfect fit for Arsenal tbh.

    The best thing about Laca has been his leadership. It’s definitely been needed with this young squad. Plus you can’t fault his effort. He’s trying to the end and that professionalism is so rarely seen when they know they’re most likely out the door. A shame it isn’t rubbing off on nketiah. For that reason he’ll always been highly regarded despite leaving on a free.

    Some interesting stats:
    – Pepe has never scored when coming on as a sub when we’ve been in front. He obviously likes it when the opposition are sitting back and he gets to run at them. Surprising given he was so damaging on the counter prior to come to Arsenal. I thought he’d relish coming on with a chance to counter. Probably doesn’t like needing to track back and help protect a lead.

    – over a 130 corners without conceding now. Amazing stat. Set pieces were a thing that would always make arsenal fans break out into a sweat. Now we handle them so well. Give that set piece coach a raise. I love our defence.

  • Also, we are blessed have a backup keeper like Leno. I think we have the best pairing in the league. Obviously he’s too good to be a backup but the decision to buy ramsdale is paying dividends now because even though he’s injured we still have a gem in leno. It does impact our ability to play out of the back and i think opposition players will try and pounce on that but he’s a great shot stopper.

  • TA, I was critical of Xhaka for the way he got that yellow card but, I am a fan of his. If only he could control himself better in such situations I think he would win a lot of others over too. I hope we keep him next season. I am not sure that Arteta will be looking for more mobility in that position when we have so much mobility available in all the other positions around him and Partey definitely plays better alongside him and our results and performances this season have largely been better when he is playing. Arteta wasn’t a player that set the world alight in terms of goals and getting in the box but, he was a well oiled and dependable machine that kept the team ticking, and he would trust and play to his manager’s gameplan and that is why he and other managers like Xhaka.

    Laca is suffering in front of goal because of the role he is being asked to play. If he could play in a more conventional CF way and at times, swan around upfield like a more conventional #9 (as Eddie thinks he can), then I’m sure that he would get more goals. He has been an exemplary captain, an inspiration for the youngster and unstinting in his work rate. I’m sure that if he goes abroad at the end of the season he will score lots of goals, whoever he plays for.

    I’ve been critical of Leno in the past so, I should say that apart from his long-kicking game, I was impressed with him yesterday. Very professional and that last-minute save was the icing on the cake. Also great to see how he and Aaron celebrated together.

    Yes, Oz those corner stats were awesome and something our defence should be very proud of. Another clean sheet is always welcome too – 1-0 to the Arsenal! COYG!!!

  • Agreed, Kev. What we have loads of is team spirit and bonding. The reason no one cares who does the scoring, as long as we are winning (except, maybe, some pundits and fans who seek something to moan about). I think at the phase of the “process” that we are, the team is better of playing to the other strengths of our No. 9: working for the team. We all know Laca can score goals; just take off the play maker responsibility off him and you’d see.

    Oz and Madhu do make a great point about an upgrade to Xhaka; heck, we can as well get upgrades on every member of the team, if that’s what the owner wants but, for now, Xhaka is whom we have and is valued by the manager and team. It would be best to hold our criticisms until the summer amd see what the player or manager does. Someone insinuated that the fee offered by Roma for him was the sticking point and that the fee reflects his value in the eyes of the suitors. We forget that the flak he gets is seen in the media so, when we devalue our product, should we be surprised suitors want to mug us off? Good thing the club knows his true value and told Mourinho to do one. Another factor in player value is length of contract and age of the player. Need I mention that? As I said previously, we probably need a couple of good midfielders but if it is as replacement for Xhaka, we would be changing the system.

    Well said OX10. Brilliant comment.

  • Thought I should watch a bit of Dutch soccer today and catch our boy, Reiss Nelson, as I saw he was starting for Feynoord against Ajax (in Amsterdam). Dutch soccer, especially when between rivals can be great to watch.
    Nelson was very involved with the first half score at 1-2 Feynoord; it was his composed lay-off that was the pre-assist for Feynoord’s opener. He is having an impact on the game and if he is only starting because some other player is unfit, it will be hard to displace him, methinks.

    Vieira’s Palace have just won 4-0 against Everton to reach the semi-final of the FA Cup. Paddy is proving himself a good manager.

  • It’s interesting to compare the games remaining for the top 4 contenders.
    in my opinion there’s not much difference – but my built in bias would give the edge to Arsenal.

    Crystal Palace A
    Brighton H
    Southampton A
    Chelsea A
    Man United H
    West Ham A
    Leeds H
    Newcastle A
    Tottenham A
    Everton H

    MAN U
    Liverpool A
    Leicester H
    Everton A
    Norwich H
    Arsenal A
    Brentford H
    Brighton A
    Chelsea H
    Aston Villa A
    Crystal Palace A

    West Ham H
    Newcastle H
    Aston Villa A
    Brighton H
    Brentford A
    Leicester H
    Liverpool A
    Burnley H
    Arsenal H
    Norwich A

  • Of course, GN5. I was thinking Man U should have one game less to play over Spurs and our side.

    Fair conclusion there too. Nothing in between; no really evident difference in the fixtures. It is going to be a battle royal as we turn the bend to the finish.


    Yes, Total it does seem hard to believe but there it is above in black and white. Gilberto was a master of positional awareness and at breaking up play. He would often win a tackle and a team mate would collect the ball from it, hence his passing stats are so low. He had some pretty impressive team mates around him to do the creative work. His character, which was never petulant or complaining and was, perhaps sly, though I would prefer to believe wise in his behaviour towards referee’s and the game in general, helps explain his exceptional disciplinary record. He twice went 45 games on the trot for Arsenal without a yellow or red card. In his 16 world cup games for Brazil he only got a single yellow.
    If all that doesn’t impress, he also has an giant anteater named after him in the London Zoo.

  • Hmmmm. The El-Classico is not going according to the expectation of the all-knowing pundits. It is Madrid 0-2 Barca. Of course, it’s still just the first half and it may yet be the proverbial game of two halves.
    Two assists by Dembele, the erstwhile pantomime villain of the Barca fans after the winter window closed without him leaving. Aubameyang has scored one and could have had three already. Pivotal game. Expect Madrid to respond after the break.

  • Tough run home.

    Need 16 points to clinch 4th spot.
    5 wins 1 draw.

    Brighton (H)
    Leeds (H)
    Everton (H)
    (So we are passed half way there).
    Then it becomes harder

    Southampton away is winnable but will be tough. They have drawn 7 and lost 3 there this season.
    We need to get something from the away games – South, West Ham (3 draws, 4 losses), crystal (7 draws, 4 losses), and/or newcastle (6 draws, 4 losses). Pinch two of those and we’ve almost sealed 4th (with 69 points).

    Then anything we get from these 3 is a bonus:
    Chelsea A
    Man United H
    Tottenham A

    We really have to put away Man United. They’ve got the better of us for too long – even when they’ve been down on form or fielding shit teams.

    We are in the driver’s seat and don’t need to rely on the opposition. Win what we should and be competitive in the tougher fixtures and it’ll be ours.

    I keep reading about need to rotate our players so they don’t burn out but the reality is they haven’t played that many minutes this season (thanks to being bundled out of cups early).
    Looks at Saka for example – 2500mins
    Compare that to cesc around a similar age. He was running up 3500 – 4500 minutes of midfield time per season. Not to mention the science around recovery has improved a lot in 15 years.

    Cross the testicles that we don’t get any injuries.

  • Great comment, Oz. Eddie seems to have been born in the wrong decade. His style of CF seem no longer required at the top teams. He seems to know what he wants and he will come good, iam just not sure at which level it will be.

  • Nice comment on Nelson and Vieira, Eris. That will have been a great experience for our right winger. Really happy that Paddy is doing well at Palace. Next game is Mikel v Paddy.

  • OGAAT means we don’t care about other teams and their run ins. We can only influence the obstacles on our own road, and we want to overcome everyone of them. Our eyes are now on Palace, only on Palace.

  • Here are last weekends results:-
    For the weekend:-

    1st The Lord of the Manor – Total with 4/6 plus 1 correct score and share of most correct predictions = 7.33
    2nd GN5 & NJK84 with 4/6 plus share of most correct predictions = 5.3
    4th Madhu, Kev & OX10 with 3/6 = 3
    7th Stuart with 2/6 = 2
    8th Eris with 1/6 = 1
    Season to date:-
    1st Eris – 156.39
    2nd OX10 – 138.06
    3rd Total – 119.36
    4th Kev – 118.93
    5th GN5 – 117.03
    6th Madhu – 116.66

    Our leader was off form and gives hope for the current also ran’s.

  • Here are some real testers for next weekend:-

    Gibraltor v Faroe Islands *
    Republic of Ireland v Belguim
    Netherlands v Denmark
    Arsenal Ladies v Tottenham Ladies *
    Canada v Jamaica
    Leicester Ladies V Chelsea Ladies *

  • Gibraltor v Faroe Islands * 1-2
    Republic of Ireland v Belguim Away
    Netherlands v Denmark Draw
    Arsenal Ladies v Tottenham Ladies * 4-0
    Canada v Jamaica Home
    Leicester Ladies V Chelsea Ladies 0-3

  • Oz, no matter what I try, they keep getting loose. Is there any technique you can recommend to keep ’em crossed?


    I think they have it right, Total. I have played mostly in the holding midfield role, and remember games in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s where my touch map would have been very light. I still play in the same position and, with the tendency now for the holding midfielder to drop deeper and exchange more passes with the Centre Backs, my touch/pass numbers have increased.
    Take the example of Claude Makelele, perhaps Chelsea’s finest defensive midfielder. His stats show a similar average of 15.56 passes per match.
    Compare that to Ngolo Kante who has 52.62 passes per match:'Golo-Kant%C3%A9/stats?msclkid=7f4a60e4a95b11ecba9230e981219d3e

    The game and the role has changed significantly since Gilberto graced Highbury.

  • A pass every 6.5 minutes it is then, Stuart. So bizarre. XhakA passes 6x more! So there cannot be a like for like comparison. The game has changed so much.

  • Thanks for the report, GN5. Congratulations, TA. That was some showing with a tricky set of fixtures. I shall be looking to bounce back then. 🤨

  • Wow what a drop to the bottom. Time for some relegation scraps

    Gibraltor v Faroe Islands * 0-1
    Republic of Ireland v Belguim A
    Netherlands v Denmark H
    Arsenal Ladies v Tottenham Ladies * 3-0
    Canada v Jamaica H
    Leicester Ladies V Chelsea Ladies 0-3

  • Thanks GN5.

    Gibraltar v Faroe Islands * 0-2
    Republic of Ireland v Belgium A
    Netherlands v Denmark D
    Arsenal Ladies v Tottenham Ladies * 2-0
    Canada v Jamaica H
    Leicester Ladies V Chelsea Ladies 0-2

  • Gibraltor v Faroe Islands * 1-2
    Republic of Ireland v Belguim A
    Netherlands v Denmark A
    Arsenal Ladies v Tottenham Ladies * 4-0
    Canada v Jamaica H
    Leicester Ladies V Chelsea Ladies * 0-3

  • Personally I prefer to let the stats talk and make little or no comments about the players or our manager – and the stats say pretty much all we need to know. Oh I will however make one comment about a player – I think that Xhaka is underrated and gets far to much criticism.


    Games: 28
    Won: 17
    Drawn: 3
    Lost: 8

    Goals for: 44
    Goals against: 31
    Clean sheets: 13

    Points per game: 1.92
    Win rate: 60.7%
    Loss rate: 28.5%

    Goals per game: 1.57
    Goals against per game: 1.1

    League position: 4th

    Games: 28
    Won: 12
    Drawn: 5
    Lost: 11

    Goals for: 37
    Goals against: 29
    Clean sheets: 8

    Points per game: 1.46
    Win rate: 42.8%
    Loss rate: 39.2%

    Goals per game: 1.32
    Goals against per game: 1.03

    League position: 10th

  • . Hi Total, my son and his two children are in the final isolation stages of Covid – fortunately it was not too severe and they are recovering nicely. My wife and I are doing well for a couple of octogenarians. This is the period during which I have my prostate cancer checks ups – my blood work continues to show that the cancer is undetectable and I get my six monthly bone scans in a few weeks – so all is well – Thanks for asking.

    Spring has finally sprung so it’s good to be able to take walks without fear of falling in the ice or snow.

    I trust all is well with you and yours.

  • Saliba and martinelli count as home grown players next season. That’s an added bonus. Now to get saliba and saka to sign those extensions.

  • A mixed bag of picks this time…..

    Gibraltar v Faroe Islands * 0-2
    Republic of Ireland v Belgium A
    Netherlands v Denmark H
    Arsenal Ladies v Tottenham Ladies * 4-0
    Canada v Jamaica H
    Leicester Ladies V Chelsea Ladies 0-4

  • @TA

    He did. In 2020. He has 2 years left. Apparently he gets 30k a week at the moment and they’re hoping to get him to sign an extension for 120k a week. That’ll tie him up with White and 10k more than tierney. I think that’s a reasonable amount. The sooner the better because every team in the world would want him in their team. Not to mention we have to lock down these up and coming stars so they all stay together. Probably be an easier sell if we get champions league but I don’t think he’d leave. If he signs and we don’t improve then maybe.

  • It’s imperative that we retain Saka he is a standout player now and will only get better. Frankly 120k a week does not so much these days, we should really show him how respected he is and give him a bumper contract – say 200k a week. We may only get one chance and if we mess it up – the big boy’s will snatch him up.

  • Yes Kev it’s certainly a mixed bag without the EPL – I scoured the various fixtures and came up with a real Potpourri.

  • It’s good to see Auba enjoying his football again – he lost his way at Arsenal but has now rekindled his form (and attitude).

  • Premier League table since January 31
    Pos P W D L F A Pts
    1 Liverpool 7 7 0 0 17 1 21
    2 Arsenal 7 6 0 1 11 6 18
    3 Newcastle 8 5 1 2 11 6 16
    4 Tottenham 9 5 0 4 21 12 15
    5 Manchester City 6 4 1 1 13 4 13
    6 Chelsea 4 4 0 0 9 1 12
    7 Manchester United 7 3 3 1 12 10 12
    8 Wolves 9 4 0 5 12 10 12
    9 West Ham 7 3 2 2 8 8 11
    10 Aston Villa 8 3 1 4 13 8 10
    11 Crystal Palace 7 2 4 1 8 4 10
    12 Southampton 7 3 1 3 10 11 10
    13 Leicester 7 3 1 3 8 9 10
    14 Burnley 9 2 3 4 6 11 9
    15 Watford 9 2 2 5 6 15 8
    16 Leeds 9 2 1 6 10 27 7
    17 Brentford 7 2 1 4 7 9 7
    18 Everton 7 2 0 5 5 12 6
    19 Brighton 7 1 0 6 3 13 3
    20 Norwich 7 0 1 6 5 18 1

    Consistently inconsisten

  • That’s hard to follow but it’s what the league table from Jan 31st.

    I need to learn how to show tables without them collapsing.

  • I’m obviously talking to myself right now – the five hour time difference makes it difficult to have interactive dialogue.

  • GN5, I’m not sure that I agree about Auba. I would have much preferred if he had rekindled his attitude and his form with us. Maybe with a different manager, he would have done but, I believe that a similar thing happened with him in Germany so, maybe not. If he had remained with us and played like he is now since the beginning of the season imagine where we might be in the league!

  • OX, I feel that Auba gave a lot to Arsenal but became disenchanted at our lack of success and it obviously showed in his performance. I bear no ill thoughts towards ex players and feel happy that they can find themselves at another club – in Auba’s case it was a win win situation as we have unloaded his cost and he is happy scoring goals for Barca.

  • Patrick Vieira joins Henry and Dennis in the EPL hall of fame. Congratulations, Skipper of the Invincibles!
    Our ladies scraped a 1-1 draw at home to Wolfsburg, in the UEFA champions league. Hope they can pull off a win in the return leg just over a week from now. Meanwhile, it is reported that some positive COVID-19 tests in the Spurs’ ladies camp caused the Chelsea v Spurs Ladies WSL fixture to be postponed. This state of things could affect our upcoming fixture with Spurs. Or, did they just try to nick a few days’ rest before the derby?

  • @GN5

    200k is too much for saka. We don’t want to get into that trap of overpaying players because it sets a bad precedent. If saka gets 200k then other players will want more and it becomes a vicious cycle.

    125k and load it with goal, assist and game incentives. Especially when we’ve been burning in the past by offering players a bumper contract only to see them rest of their laurels.

    ESR’s new contract was 90k, vhalovic (just signed for 70m) 110k, foden 110k. That’s about the going rate for young promising players. Especially when saka was on 30k. 4x is a huge pay rise. 200k is where Saka should be aiming at 25 year of age. It’s the amount wage we’re paying Partey.

    Only Party (200k), laca (182k), and pepe (140k) would be earning more. Yes he’s performing more than two of those players but they had more runs on the board and you pay more when bringing people over from other clubs.

  • GN5, I haven’t a scooby about these, but here goes:

    Gibraltar v Faroe Islands…….Away (0-3)
    Rep of Ireland v Belgium…….Away
    Netherlands v Denmark……..Home
    Arsenal L v Tottenham……….Home (5-0)
    Canada v Jamaica…………….Home
    Leicester L V Chelsea L……..Away (0-3)

    I don’t really follow the woman’s game but I know that Arsenal and Chelsea are the best teams in it.
    As for the others?

  • Tyreece John Jules is 21 now, so he is older than both of his contemporaries in Martinelli and Balogun, but he seems at this time like he’s miles away from ever making a breakthrough at Arsenal as his latest loan is proving as problematic as his last, hardly used by Blackpool during the first half of the season he got injured on his debut for Sheffield Wednesday and isn’t expected back until late April.

    With Arsenal needing some new blood in the striking dept it’s possible that TJJ could have been a contender for that gig if his loans had gone to plan, but his patchy history of fitness, or lack of, seems to have torpedoed his Arsenal career and it’s unlikely that this talented young player will realise his potential in an Arsenal shirt. A skilful forward capable of filling in on the flanks, up front as a centre forward or as a withdrawn No.10, it’s tragic but his injury record points towards a player who seems destined to spend an inordinate amount of time in the physio room.

  • Nor do I Kev – but when we have no EPL I’m forced to check the various league tables and fixtures and conjure up six games.

  • Really liking the Darwin Nunez links over the past few days. Exactly what we need. 2 footed, 6’2, young, good in the air, fast, and is scoring for fun atm.

    Going to cost a pretty penny but worth it.

  • Gibraltor v Faroe Islands * A (1-3)
    Republic of Ireland v Belguim A
    Netherlands v Denmark H
    Arsenal Ladies v Tottenham Ladies * POSTPONED
    Canada v Jamaica H
    Leicester Ladies V Chelsea Ladies * A (1-3_

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