Arsenal v Villareal Expected Lineup for Biggest Game of the Season

It is almost time for our next biggest game of the season. Sometimes it is best not to say too much and focus on the straightforward task ahead: outscore Villareal on the night (including away goals) and we are in the final. That final is on 26 May and we all know that this is a special day in the history of the Gunners. But let’s not focus on that now. We need a top performance by the boys and I reckon they are ready for it.

Depending on fitness – Luiz, Tierney and Laca all get a late fitness test – I reckon this will be our team tonight:

Is Tierney fit? I feel somehow he is. If not, Xhaka with his left foot will play LB again and ESR or Elneny will play in Granit’s place. I don’t expect Luiz to be fit and Robbo will do a good job at RCB instead. Chambers back in RB, I reckon. Up-front we need movement and good passing and the trio of ESR, Ode and Saka offer this. It would be great if Laca could start but I reckon this is Auba’s night (and he sounds very ready for it).


By TotalArsenal.

Arsenal v Villareal CF: Eight Big Arteta-Questions for You to Answer

Well that was an easy, stress-free Sunday afternoon of football, wasn’t it? I am not entirely sure why this formation worked so well against, it must be said, a weak Newcastle team. A clean sheet, a good number of chances for Arsenal and two goals to the good; it was just what we needed. Arteta, as expected, made a large number of changes and the players who were picked did put in a shift, I guess with the hope of also starting on Thursday – the next game of the season.

Regulars on Bergkampesque know how much I rate Elneny as back-up DM and I was glad he scored a rare goal for the team. There is no doubt that Partey is the better player of the two but every team needs players like Mo on the bench/team: those who accept that they will not play all the time but will give their all when they get a chance. Mo is such a player and that is what I like about him. Auba also really needed a game AND a goal and he got one in fine fashion. All good.

Another good thing about yesterday’s game is that Auba, Odegaard, Ryan, Big Gab, Luiz and Martinelli got a full work-out before Thursday’s game. This will have made them match fit and so Arteta will have good options to pick from against fellow-slick-haired Emery on Thursday. Thank you Magpies for giving us this wonderful practice and preparation game!

See the source image

I know we have become used to cup success but we should not take it for granted that we are once again close to a cup final. We are a team in transition under Arteta and he is making good progress in my opinion. The problem is that he is not allowed to just focus on the team for next season and use the current one for this sole purpose. Mikel is also tasked to try and get us into the CL already this season for obvious financial reasons, and his only route to do so is through the Europa League. I was not impressed with the way he set up the team and especially the first half against Villareal, but the team fought back to leave the Madrigal with just a small loss and the very precious away-goal in the bag. It was pretty ugly but effective.

I really find it amazing that in this transitional year we are very close to playing in an European final again. For this we need one more fecking fantastic game from the boys and I sense that a) the players really know this and b) they are so ready for it. Some are worried about having to play the final, if we were to make it, against Manure who are currently playing very well. But a final is an unique occasion and Arteta has had the number of OGS in a few encounters already. As Mikel said recently: we can beat any team on the day.

So to make this post a bit more interactive here are a few questions for you for the Thursday home game against Emery’s Yellow Submarine – and I would love to hear your responses in the comments section:

  1. Which formation should Arteta pick: 4-2-3-1, 3-4-3, 4-1-4-1, other?
  2. Who should he put in goal: Leno or Ryan?
  3. Who should be our central defence: two (or three?) out of Luiz, Holding, Big Gab, Mari, Chambers?
  4. Who should be our full-backs (or wing backs): Tierney, Xhaka, Soares, Chambers, Hector?
  5. Who should captain the team?
  6. Who should play in midfield – three positions with either two ‘DMs’ and AM or one DM and two AMs?
  7. Who should play in attack: CF and wingers?
  8. Who should be the super-sub to potentially clinch the game in the last 20-30 minutes?

Over to you!

By TotalArsenal.

Arsenal v Newcastle United Preview and Lineup: Eight Changes to Zip the Barcodes

Arsenal v Newcastle – May 2nd, 2021

Here is a post game accounting of Arsenal’s first ever League game which was played at Manor Field, Plumstead,127 years ago. 

Date: Saturday 2 September 1893

Competition: Football League Division Two

Location: Manor Field, Plumstead

Attendance: 10,000

2 September 1893 Woolwich Arsenal v Newcastle United


Woolwich Arsenal: C Williams, J Powell, W Jeffery, D Devine, B Buist, D Howat, D Gemmell, J Henderson, W Shaw, A Elliott, C Booth.

Newcastle United: A Ramsay, H Jeffrey, J Miller, R Crielly, W Graham, J McKane, J Bowman, T Crate, W Thompson, J Sorley, J Wallace.

Post-match comments:

Arsenal captain Joe Powell gave his opinion after the game: “We couldn’t have expected anything much better, and though at the time of leading by two goals to none we slackened down a little, it was the first goal of United that gave them heart to go and get another.”

When asked to single out individuals from his own team, Powell said: “We all did our fair share. Williams was fine, the halves rocks, and Elliott and Booth the pick of the front rank. Considering that Charlie Booth has to run four miles every morning to get down his flesh, the speed he gets up is a miracle.”

Of the new ground he said: “It’s a splendid place, and when we get all our terraces settled in place of those primitive erections, the public will agree with me.”

  1. William Graham the Newcastle captain, when it was commented that he looked “done up”, replied: “so would you be if you’d been travelling all night in a confounded train!”

He also spoke out against Arsenal’s second goal: “We were terribly unlucky to draw. The second goal of Arsenal was a fraud… our fellows appealed for offside and stood still.”

However, he was also complimentary of the Arsenal team when asked his opinion of them: “Spanking good, indeed”. They gave us as hard a game as we’ve ever had. Yet I think that when we get them up North we shall prove at least four goals their superior Williams is a perfect treasure, while I have seldom seen a better left wing than Elliott and Booth.”

Facts about linked to the match or players:

The crowd was entertained by the band of the 2nd Kent Artillery Volunteers.

Joe Powell would go on to die in tragic circumstances. Complications set in having broken his arm in a game in 1896. He died a few days later from tetanus. His funeral was attended by several thousand fans as well as representatives from Woolwich Arsenal and other football teams. A collection was organised for his wife and children, and the money raised was used to buy a tobacconist shop to provide ongoing income for his family.

William Graham wasn’t wrong with his prediction as Newcastle won the reverse fixture 6-0 later that month. However, in this game a number of Woolwich Arsenal players, including Charlie Booth, were struck by stones thrown from the crowd. The Newcastle committee apologised for the conduct of the home crowd to Arsenal director Fred Beardsley whilst the team were at the railway station making their way home.

Arthur Elliott has the distinction of being the first Arsenal player known to have been sent off during a game. He received his marching orders on 23 November 1892 against Ipswich Town for persistent foul play.

EPL Away Games v Newcastle
07-May-94  102
19-Mar-95  101
02-Jan-96  102
30-Nov-961  21
06-Dec-971  10
28-Feb-99 1 11
14-May-00  124
15-May-01 1 00
02-Mar-021  20
09-Feb-03 1 11
11-Apr-04 1 00
29-Dec-041  10
10-Dec-05  101
09-Apr-07 1 00
05-Dec-07 1 11
21-Mar-091  31
05-Feb-11 1 44
13-Aug-11 1 00
19-May-131  10
29-Dec-131  10
21-Mar-151  21
29-Aug-151  10
15-Apr-18  112
15-Sep-181  21
11-Aug-191  10
Total :10862623
ALL Away Games  v Newcastle
Divison 2104617
Divison 113113167103
Total :24194199143

The result on Thursday left Arteta with a very difficult choice of who to play against Newcastle, my hope is that he rests the majority of our key players and risks sacrificing the game in favour of getting a posivtive result next Thursday.


TA’s preferred lineup:

This is a game in which we should save the legs of players who are absolutely critical on Thursday and work the legs of those players who really need a game. Ryan could do with a game and the same goes for Luiz, Gabriel, Soares and Bellerin. Partey, ESR and Saka need a break.. and so does Granit but we need him for leadership and structure reasons. Upfront, Auba, Ode and Martinelli could really do with a start. I have also picked Pepe but would be happy if Nelson would get a game tomorrow. COYGs! With a bit of luck, Tierney gets 30 minutes or so.

Arsenal v Villareal Preview/ Lineup. Time for 3-4-3 with Saka and Soares as wing-backs!

The Yellow Submarine is our new opponent on the way to the UEFA League final. They are of course managed by Arteta’s predecessor, Unai Emery, and if there is one thing that nobody can argue with it’s the fact that Unai is an UEFA-league specialist. Will the extremely ambitious Spaniard be extra extra motivated to give us a bloody nose tonight? You betcha!

See the source image

I must admit that I have not seen much of Villareal this season. They scored 50 goals in La Liga and conceded 38 and are currently seventh, so not much better than us. They play in the beautifully named Estadio de la Ceramica or (even more beautifully and unofficially named) El Madrigal. You can say anything in Spanish and it sounds beautiful, though. A cheese sandwich is bocadillo de queso and whereas the former hardly gets me excited the latter is simply mouthwatering! Tengo diez por favor! 😀 Furthermore, a small city/town situated near the sunny east coast and that prides itself for its oranges and ceramics is one I would love to visit, and what a shame it is we still cannot do so.

Arteta had some heavenly news for us yesterday; as per per Mikel’s own words on They are all in contention. All of them. Including Aubameyang, Laca and Kieran. They are all in contention for the game. Yes [it is good news].

So what can I say about our first team selection. If all are truly fit then that will have given Arteta a sleepless night. The only thing to compare it with is when you have been out and several girls (or boys) have been eyeing you up and made advances… who to pick, who to pick?! I guess what is key here is who is actually fully match fit? This only Mikel will be able to judge.

So I am going with my hunch regarding match fitness and build further on the great comments made in the last Bergkampesque post.

This would be my team to start against the Yellow Submarine, and I am going for 3-4-3 to make us stronger on the flanks and through the middle:

If Laca is fit then of course he should play but Martinelli must have been penciled in for this one. I expect us to play compact and attack with seven or eight at a time, so in reality it is more like 3-7 or 3-6-1 for large parts of the game because I expect us to take the game to them tonight. If KT is fully fit then we could play 4-2-3-1 again with Soares making way and Saka moving up a position. Pepe has been good in Europe but I would prefer (a fit) Odegaard to start as he is much more ball tight. I am sure Arteta will have a few surprises for us tonight and that I got it pretty wrong with my preferred selection, but as long as the boys put in a great performance we will all be happy. Looking forward to this one. COYRRGs!!

By TotalArsenal.

Four Big Arteta Decisions for the Villareal CF game: GK, LB, LM, CF

With just a couple days to go till our encounter with Emery’s Villareal CF, let’s have a look at how Arteta could make changes in order for us to get a good result. As always in an European two-legged affair, an away goal is crucial and Arteta will have to set up the team with this in mind.

There are four things Mikel needs to look at as to put up the strongest possible team right now:

  1. The first big question is who should be in goal? Leno has gradually lost his command of the goal area and has made some big mistakes recently. Arteta is not a man to punish a player for a mistake (thank God) and will always aim to give players confidence, but he has to make a big decision here, as the next two UEFA League games will determine so much for him and the club. Ryan may be the better option right now: fresh, wants to proof himself and he seems more confident in the air/work better with the current lot of central defenders. What do you think?
  2. The left back situation. Xhaka has done very well there defensively but he is less likely to be effective going forward and he is well missed in midfield. The main reason he is playing left back is his exceptional left foot: none of the current full backs has one and for playing out of the back it is essential right now. But I don’t feel that we can afford to play Partey on his own/ with Dani in these pivotal games. Xhaka has to be moved back in midfield and somebody else needs to take up the left back situation. Soares and Hector are options but what about Big Gab as left back? He is fast and energetic, a typical defender and with the calm Mari next to him Gabriel should be a solid option. What do you think?
  3. I can see the potential of a hard working Partey bossing the midfield on his own with a fellow midfielder who has a free role around him. This player needs to be very mobile with a huge engine. I think that man may well be Joe Willock but he is donning the barcode shirt currently. I can also see ESR in this role or even Odegaard, but Ceballos is not the right guy. As I mentioned in item 2, I believe Arteta has to reinstate the Xhaka-Partey partnership against Villareal, but what do you think?
  4. Who should lead the line? Will Auba be fit (enough to be effective)? Is Eddie the answer or is this the game Martinelli will put his name on the European map? Or is it time to gamble big and put the almost totally untried Balogun – newly signed up by the Gunners – up top? If Auba is not fit then from a loyalty point of view Eddie should play; he deserves this chance. But we need an attacker in the Laca-mold as that is the way we have been most successful recently; so a player who supports midfield and harasses defenders all the time, who is great at linkup play whilst also a fox in the box. IMO that player is Martinelli as I don’t know enough about Balogun. But what do you think?

By TotalArsenal.

A(nother) Howler and (Threat of More) Injuries Cost Arsenal Dearly

Let’s face this head on: Arsenal were poor and served up an awful performance. Everton were also poor but they played it well tactically and counted on somebody shooting themselves in the foot…

Statistieken tonen onmacht Arsenal aan: slechtste resultaat sinds 91 jaar

… This time it was an incredible howler by Leno that allowed the unbelieving Toffees to take home all three points for the first time in forever. And the Farce of VARce did the rest of the damage. Of course it was not all Bernd’s or even VAR’s fault. As a team we were losing most second balls and individual battles and our heads were somewhere else; and maybe understandably so given the monstrous developments in the cause of the last six days. The manager, players and the fans have had to deal with an emotional hurricane and it showed on the pitch. The BoD had made a terrible misjudgment and has now created a traumatic environment for those who both enjoy and play the beautiful game week in week out. We may want our Gunners to be mean, lean football machines but they are in the end just as human as you and me. And the same goes of course for the manager.

In a nutshell, Arsenal played at too low a tempo to surprise the Toffees’ defence either on the well-defended flanks or through the middle. Partey was doing well in midfield but looked isolated a lot. Saka and ESR played with the handbrake on and the through-treacle-running Ceballos was not made to be present everywhere in oceans of space (this role, incidentally, would suit Willock to a T). Dani is a hard worker but not an athlete and it showed painfully last night when the whole team did not press up but sat back. Eddie tried hard to play the Laca-role, but with limited movement and engagement by ESR and Saka, and the limitations of Ceballos and also Pepe, it really made for a poor showing by the entire team.

Now there is always a tendency to blame somebody when Arsenal lose a game, and indeed I have done so above. But others have started to call for the head of Mikel Arteta, even saying that he has no clue tactically. Even though we can ask critical questions of his tactical decisions yesterday, including the timing and manner of his substitutions, Arteta’s tactical ability is one of his big strengths, as he has proven many times in the past.

But let’s try and put ourselves in the very shoes that Mikel wears. That is what I did again this morning. It is all good and well to let off steam and put our keyboard-knives into some human flesh, but if you were to be Arteta how would you have managed this situation? The BoD have put a bomb under the already fragile club-supporters relationships: they gambled badly and are now licking their self-inflicted wounds from an ocean’s distance. Supporters gathered outside Ashburton Grove not to cheer on the team but to protest against the ownership right before kick-off – anything but ideal. Furthermore, Arteta knows that what this club needs more than ever is CL football; his very future will likely depend on it. European football is nice but, very sadly, the beautiful game for a club like Arsenal fully depends on the elites’ cash-cow that is the Champions League. Covid-19 has made this an even harsher reality. He clearly has prioritised winning the UEFA League over the Premier League and it showed last night.

Can I blame him for this? Of course I can because also I have a keyboard. But I am not going to. If I was Mikel I would have done exactly the same. Arsenal are missing key players and we cannot afford anymore injuries.

We are three games away from winning a big trophy (which matters more to me personally than playing in the boring Champions League next season, but now I am once again not standing in Arteta’s shoes) but with Laca and Tierney out, and Auba and Ode being fitness doubts, Arteta just cannot afford anymore injuries. Yet, for various reasons, he could also not afford to stage a second-tier team last night. So he sent out a strong team on paper with the nr.1 instruction to avoid getting injured at all costs. To me it showed as the likes of ESR, Saka, Xhaka and Partey normally always put in a full performance, but not so last night. If you think about it, it all makes tactical sense. Arteta has one golden nest for the club left and all its and his eggs are in it.

Stand behind our manager and players, put on your favourite Arsenal shirt on Thursday and sing our famous songs with existential gusto; the boys need us now more than ever.

By TotalArsenal.

Arsenal v Everton Preview/Lineup: Eddie or Balogun, Ode or Ceballos, Strongest Defence?

Arsenal v Everton – April 22nd, 2021

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 23: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal scores his team’s second goal past Jordan Pickford of Everton during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Everton FC at Emirates Stadium on February 23, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

It’s rivalries like these that make football a very special sport and to see the ESL reduced to ashes in just a few short day’s shows just how much our beloved sport means to so many of us. What we need now are some rules put in place to avoid further money hungry opportunists taking over our clubs and regulations to tighten and protect both the past and the future of football.

Arsenal and Everton are the two clubs that have spent the most time in the upper echelon’s of football.

Famous Old Foes and Modern Day Nemesis: Everton v Arsenal

The Evertonia gave a brief resume of Arsenals early history in September 1961 the article stated:

Arsenal were founded in 1886 by a group of workmen in Dial Square, section of the Royal Arsenal, at Woolwich and were nicknamed Dial Square, then Royal Arsenal. It was under this latter name that the club turned professional in 1891 and were elected to the Football League, Division II in 1893. In 1896, they changed their name to Woolwich Arsenal, but shortened it to its present form in 1913 after moving from Plumstead to Highbury. In view of their early association with the Royal Arsenal, the Club is affectionately known by their supporters as the Gunners.

Arsenal did not gain election to the First Division until 1904, but were relegated to the Second Division in 1913, and after one season in the lower circles, the outbreak of World War One suspended all serious football. When peace was restored, the Londoners were elected to a place in the First Division to fill one of the vacancies created by the extension of the League.

Everton first took on Arsenal at Goodison Park on April 5 1905 when a goal from Alex Sandy Young was enough to earn Everton both points.

The most famous encounter at Goodison Park between Everton and Arsenal is undoubtedly the final game of the 1927/28 season, the match which saw the legendary William Ralph Dean set the record for the number of league goals scored by an individual player in the top flight a record that is unlikely to be broken.

Everton Football Club captain Dixie Dean (1907 – 1980) leads his team out for a match against Arsenal FC at Highbury in London. (Photo by Barker/Getty Images)

It was May 5th 1928 and it was described as a great day at Goodison Park, It was the last day of the Everton Golden Jubilee season and the club had already made sure of the League Championship. Arsenal had beaten Everton twice during that campaign  firstly at Highbury on Christmas Eve, 1927 when they had overcome Everton (3-2) and then again by the odd goal in seven in January 1928 when they had eliminated Everton (4-3) in an FA Cup Third round tie.

Arsenal as well as wanting to beat Everton for a rare treble over the Toffees would also have hoped to do well for Charles Buchan as this would be the Arsenal players final appearance as a footballer for the club

Dixie Dean entered the fray requiring three goals to beat George Camsells record. Camsell had set the record during the 1926-27 season whilst playing for Middlesbrough in the Second Division when he scored 59 League goals. Incidentally George Camsell got off to a flying start and overshadowed Dixie when he had hit all four goals against Everton in the Toffees first away game of 1927/28 campaign at Ayresome Park in Boros four-two win. Dixie had endured a hamstring injury in his previous outing against Burnley (3-5) at Turf Moor where he had scored four of Evertons  five goals in an important victory George Martin had scored the fifth goal of the game for the Toffees.

Everton trainer Billy Cook stayed at Dixie’s home for the week leading up to the final game at Goodison giving Deans injured leg as much attention as possible. When the morning of the match dawned the 21-year old-goalscoring machine pronounced himself fit and hungry for the record! Dixie later recalled that It was just a normal day for me, I just got the tram number 44 from Water Street to Goodison in the normal way.

Deans first goal of the game was also Evertons 100th League goal of the campaign and it was also the first time that the club had registered a century of goals in a single season. The goal came as Dixie hit a powerful shot that beat the Arsenal goalkeeper after just three minutes of the match to equalise for the Toffees after Shaw had netted for the visitors. The second goal came from the penalty spot after Dixie himself had been fouled, nobody else would have dared to have taken the kick and up stepped Dixie to attempt to put the Toffees in front.

Dixie said I aimed to place it but it wasn’t one of my best efforts. It went through the keepers legs but they all count. Arsenal had equalised when the unfortunate John O’Donnell had put through his own goal just after the half-hour mark to level the score at two-two. John O’Donnell had been only one of two players who had been an ever-present in the league campaign the other being Alec Troup. A description of Deans third and record breaking goal as reported in the Liverpool Echo by Bee states:-

With nine minutes to go, the crowd yearned for a goal to Dean or anyone, and nearly got their voices working when Martin shot and Paterson punched away over the bar for a corner kick. This was the beginning of Deans historic record goal in English football. Troup took the corner-kick and out of a ruck of probably fourteen players, Dean with unerring accuracy, nodded the ball to the extreme right hand side of the goal. There has never been such a joyful shout at Everton. It was prolonged for minutes and went on to the end of the game. The crowd never stopped cheering for eight solid minutes, and Dean was hugged by all his comrades.

Everton goalkeeper Gordon West punches the ball away under pressure from Ray Kennedy of Arsenal as Roger Kenyon runs in to cover during their Division One match held at Goodison Park, Everton on 21st April 1973. (Bob Thomas Sports Photography via Getty Images.)

Although Arsenal had also scored three goals that afternoon as Shaw grabbed his second goal of the game in the eighty-sixth minute the Evertonians in the ground didn’t really care about the final score as they had come to see the Champions and to witness Dixie Dean achieve the record and at the final whistle the crowd invaded the pitch which was a very unusual occurrence in those days

Dixie said that he was surrounded by faces on the park, rubbing their whiskers and chins and cheering and back-slapping. They came on that time because they’d seen it and that was that. I slipped off a couple of minutes later and didn’t come back on again till the following season  except to collect the championship trophy. And the Arsenal players were among the first to congratulate me the goalkeeper first of all. Everyone except Charlie Buchan who seemed to feel I’d stolen his thunder in his last match. He was a very proud man was Charlie.

Arsenal played a prominent role in Dixies career, he made his Everton debut against the Gunners at Highbury in a defeat for Everton (2-1) in March 1925 and he scored his final Everton goal against them at Goodison Park on the opening day of the 1937/38 campaign, but his goal was a mere consolation as Everton (1-4) succumbed to the visitors to the annoyance of the Evertonians in the 53,586 crowd. Dixie made 21 appearances against the Gunners scoring thirteen times and his only hat-trick against them was perhaps the most famous hat-trick of his or any other Everton players career.

Dixie Dean – Scoring Record at Everton
 LeagueFA CupClub Total
Arsenal v Everton – EPL Home Results
124-Oct-921  20
228-Aug-931  20
314-Jan-95 1 11
420-Jan-96  112
519-Jan-971  31
603-May-981  40
708-Nov-981  10
816-Oct-991  41
921-Apr-011  41
1011-May-021  43
1123-Mar-031  21
1216-Aug-031  21
1311-May-051  70
1419-Sep-051  20
1528-Oct-06 1 11
1604-May-081  10
1718-Oct-081  31
1809-Jan-10 1 22
1901-Feb-111  21
2010-Dec-111  10
2116-Apr-13 1 00
2208-Dec-13 1 11
2301-Mar-151  20
2424-Oct-151  21
2521-May-171  31
2603-Feb-181  51
2723-Sep-181  20
2823-Feb-201  32
Arsenal v Everton – All Home Results
Division 144111513277

As you can see Arsenal have only lost one home game against Everton in the EPL but with Ancelotti as their manager they are a very improved team so I expect this to be a tight game with Arsenal ending up victorious.


Predicted team by TA:

With Laca and Auba still out, this is a great opportunity for Eddie to (re)make his mark, or is it Balogun who will get to start? I reckon Arteta will play the team that will also play on Thursday, with maybe one or two changes depending on fitness. So I expect our best defence in terms of strength and height right now: Xhaka-Mari-Holding-Chambers; maybe Soares or Hector will start instead of the full backs but I doubt it. In front of Partey, it should be ESR and one of Ceballos or Ode – the latter is a fitness doubt. Up-front it should be Saka and Pepe again to support Eddie.

With six days left till the first leg of the UEFA League, Arteta has a good opportunity to play his strongest team and try out a few tactical moves. We need a win of course and I hope the boys will be fully up for it. COYGs!

Message to Bergkampesque Bloggers

Dear Bergkampesque bloggers,

See the source image

I am saddened and ashamed that our mighty club has joined the exclusive club of 12 self-chosen teams aiming to start a new competition between themselves, the so called European Super League. Apparently eight more clubs will join – three permanent ones and five hand-picked ones on a seasonal basis (the cannon fodder).

This goes totally against my deep belief in general fairness and competition open-to-all. I don’t want to be part of a club that goes against my values. The CL was already set up in such a way that the top European teams would be almost guaranteed top European football every season, and the romance of a ‘small team’ ever winning the competition again was nearly dead. In my view, football is based on that romantic principle of fairness and open-to-all competition. Rather than making it fairer, something that almost all football supporters want, they made it almost totally exclusive with the introduction of the ESL. is suspended until further notice, with no more match previews, reviews, etc, as all the remaining games this season have become superfluous to me. Please feel free to continue commenting below or email me as per usual.

If GN5 wants to continue with our weekly competition than this will be accommodated of course.

I would like to thank all regular bloggers and post-writers for their contributions over the years, with a special thank you to GN5 for all his posts etc.

Many thanks and best wishes,

Frank aka TotalArsenal.

Arsenal v Fulham: Preview and Lineup: Same 11?

Arsenal v Fulham – April  18, 2021

Craven Cottage has a history that dates back to 1780 when a cottage was built in the woods and the surrounding fields were used for various sports. The site, however, later fell into disuse and the original cottage burned down in 1888.

Fulham had already played at various grounds when their eye fell on the site close to the river Thames. After cleaning up the overgrown field, they played their first match at the ground in 1896. Craven Cottage at that time consisted of nothing more than a basic wooden stand.

This changed in 1906 when a first proper stand was built. The stand, currently called Johnny Haynes Stand, was designed by Archibald Leitch and had a characteristic red-brick facade. The stand was accompanied by a pavilion, which is the present-day Cottage.

Craven Cottage was further expanded with terraces in the next decades and reached its record attendance in 1938 when a total of 49,335 spectators attended a game against Millwall. One decade later, Craven Cottage hosted a few games during the 1948 Olympic Games.

Fulham were formed in 1879 as Fulham St Andrew’s Church Sunday School F.C., founded by worshipers (mostly adept at cricket) at the Church of England on Star Road, West Kensington (St Andrew’s, Fulham Fields). They won the West London Amateur Cup in 1887 and, having shortened the name from Fulham Excelsior to its present form in 1888, they then won the West London League in 1893 at the first attempt.

The club gained professional status on 12 December 1898, the same year that they were admitted into the Southern League’s Second Division. They were the second club from London to turn professional, following Arsenal then named Royal Arsenal 1891.

Famous names like Johnny Haynes, Bobby Moore, Rodney Marsh and George Best have been part of the team through the years.

Our first league meeting against Fulham was in Division 2 on March 14th 1914 and it ended in a 2-0 victory for Arsenal. Overall we have played them 28 times at home and Fulham have never won a single game; they have managed just 5 draws and have been outscored 71 to 24.

Arsenal v Fulham EPL Home Games
123-Feb-021  41
201-Feb-031  21
330-Nov-03 1 00
426-Dec-041  20
524-Aug-051  41
629-Apr-071  31
712-Aug-071  21
828-Feb-09 1 00
909-May-101  40
1004-Dec-101  21
1126-Nov-11 1 11
1210-Nov-12 1 33
1318-Jan-141  20
1401-Jan-191  41
Arsenal v Fulham – All Home Results
2Total Div 220050
12Total Div 111103313
14Total EPL10403311
28All Results23507124

At the time of writing Fulham’s 2020-21 record is W5, D11, L16, GF24, GA42, Pts 26. – they are in 18th place and have played two games more then any of the bottom seven teams.

I cannot envisage anything other than a victory for Arsenal.


Predicted Lineup by TotalArsenal:

With the sort of injuries we have – Auba, Ode, Tierney, Luiz all out – I cannot see too many changes to the lineup from Thursday. This is an important game for us as a win will get us much closer to the European places. Willock did us a huge favour by helping NU to beat the Hammers and a win will bring us much closer to them. But fatigue may play a role and maybe Arteta has to rotate a bit with the likes of Big Gab, Elneny, Soares, Bels, Eddie and Nelson. Still, I believe that we first should get the job done and I don’t expect it to be easy, as Fulham are not playing bad currently and will punish us if the tempo/intensity is too low. So I prefer us to start with the same 11.

The New Overmars, Arteta’s Masterstroke, King Thomas, Only one MOTM: 8 Arsenal Observations.

Slavia Prague 0 – 4 Arsenal.

It was a great win last night and we should be really pleased with the way the team played for 90 minutes. It is fantastic how Arteta has changed to shape and tactics of the team and, although we haven’t faced really strong teams with Sheffield United and Slavia Prague, there is real hope that these changes will give us a good return in the remaining matches.

8 Observations:

  1. Xhaka to the left in defence/midfield is a masterstroke. Was he a left back or left DM in the last two games? I think we got a bit of both and it worked a treat. Partey was clearly the MD king in midfield and Ceballos was given a role with much more freedom – more about him later. If need be either Xhaka or sometimes Chambers would move up in midfield and help out defensively. Both can play in midfield and are confident passers, and so there was a real balance both in defence and midfield. Xhaka is not very fast for a left back but it never showed. He clearly does not bomb forward like Tierney does, but with Pepe/Saka, ESR and Ceballos in the team there is no real need for this. Our defence and midfield looked solid, and despite Slavia having more possession of the ball they seldom or never got anywhere close to where they could hurt us. It was very impressive how Arteta had set up the team and how much space we had when we attacked.
  2. Ceballos might finally have found his best position in the team. I think he is an okay footballer but always appreciate his workrate. In front of our defence he can be a bit of a liability but running between the lines and collecting and redistributing the ball really suits him. It is like having an extra man in the team to go and help others wherever he is needed. A very handy handyman who helps gluing the team together. There are more players in the team who can do this but it is really nice that Mikel is giving Ceballos a continued chance to proof himself.
  3. Calum had another fine game: very disciplined and keen to move forward where and when he could. He played in Saka well for his superb goal and helped out in defence very well too. During set-pieces or when we were hemmed back, the back-line of Chambers-Holding-Mari-Xhaka with Partey and the more attacking midfielders in front of them was very solid, resulting in two clean sheets. Okay it is early days but I am sure you will agree it was fun to watch us during those games. There is something about Calum that makes me, hmmmm cal(u)m.
  4. Being the main man in deep midfield really seems to suit Thomas Partey. He offers a lot of everything you would hope to see in a midfielder and we may well see the end of us playing two DMs from now on. Partey has real presence and a fine eye for where the action will be next. He controls proceedings with his good ability to hold on to the ball and excellent passing skills (and he is not yet 100% as far as I can tell). His interceptions and blocks are so effective and he really likes to drive forward too, without holding on to the ball anymore time than necessary. A joy to watch. But then there is Xhaka who with a fine left foot can help out with the distribution of the ball, both from out of the back and the middle of the pitch. This really has looked good over the last few games.
  5. Saka is just awesome. 19 years old and he has such a cool head. He always works hard but he does not overdo it. Bukayo is efficient with his energy and is making sure he does not get unnecessary injured. But when he senses an opportunity Saka is focussed 200% and what he does next is almost always so effective. He reminds me a bit of Marc Overmars who also had such a great efficiency/effectiveness balance in his game. His goal was just so clever and well taken and he almost scored a peach of a goal earlier but for the woodwork (and then ESR’s harshly given offsite).
  6. In general, it was that combo of a very solid defence and midfield and the fluidity of our attack that made us play such great football at times. The movement up-front was fabulous and it made us utterly unpredictable. Pepe, who scored a very good goal early on, ESR, Saka and Ceballos combined so well and used the available space on the pitch to perfection. ESR had a great game with his effective work between the line and fine passing and what a ball for Pepe’s goal. It simply was far too much for Slavia.
  7. The MOTM has to go to Laca. Alex took the penalty that put the game to bed (that goal was effectively worth two) and then he scored a masterfully controlled second late on. But it was his pivotal attacking play that was so good. Laca occupies defenders AND can then pass the ball into the space he has freed up so well. The other attackers love working with him and he loves working with them. Long may it continue.
  8. It is in the nature of some people to find something to pick on, as if all that sweetness is just too much for them (let’s be wary of them). Some, not on this site, have been picking on Leno for some reason. Bernd is a human being who, like all of us, will have many good periods and also the occasional bad one. We as fans should not want to make this worse by picking on him, even if there really is nothing to pick on. Leno may well not become Arteta’s long term choice – who knows? – but he is our nr1 goalkeeper this season and always wears the shirt with pride. Let’s stand right behind him.

By TotalArsenal.