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Laca scores against West Ham (Photo by Julian Finney – Getty Images)

It is very rare that I do not watch an Arsenal game live, either at the game, or on TV. However that late move of the game from Sunday afternoon to Saturday night totally snookered me. We had arranged to visit two dear friends in North Norfolk. Although only in her 50s, she has very serious brain cancer. Her husband is devotedly caring for her. We have known them for 30 years. For once Arsenal had to come second. So a DVR and an early Sunday morning rise is how I came to watch this game.

Coincidentally, this same fixture was the last one I saw live before lockdown. We scraped a 1-0 win, and were constantly caught on the counter attack. Surely today would be different, given the very different starts to the season?

The early bad news was that KT3 had aggravated a hip injury in the warm up and had been withdrawn. Kola came in as left sided centre back in a three (the ringing sound you may have heard yesterday evening were the immediate alarm bells). However well prepared, this must have unbalanced the team.

Leno, Holding, Gabriel, Kola, Hector, Saka, Dani, Xhaka, Willian, Laca and Auba started the game. AMN was surprisingly left on the bench where he joined Macey, Luiz, Elneny, Willock, Pepe and Eddie. West Ham matched up with three at the back, despite playing a back four last week. Lucas Fabianski returned to the Emirates, but sadly LJW did not. Ah Jack. Arteta said interesting things in his pre match interview. When asked why AMN and Elneny were not picked, despite their excellent games against Fulham, he said every game demands a different approach – evidence of his research. He also picked apart the fact that we were lucky last March and said we were poor against the counter attack. Wise and prophetic words.

After an early chance for Laca, we started giving the ball away. A characteristically poor pass between our penalty area and the centre circle from Xhaka left West Ham on the attack. Fortunately it came to naught. An early corner led to an easy save from Leno, but the space they were finding in our penalty area was disturbing. In particular, Rob Holding was suffering with his lack of pace against the lively Antonio. During this early period the most frequent sound I could hear was MA8 hollering Dani! Dani! West Ham had a shout for a penalty as they broke free on the left (Kola’s) side. Gabriel missed a ball in the air under challenge from Antonio and Bowen carried the ball into our area. Gabriel recovered and nicked the ball back but Bowen hurled himself to the ground after brief and slight contact. Michael Oliver, VAR and our own Smudger on co-comms all dismissed the claim with disdain.

As we closed in on 20 minutes, like they did in March, the Hammers were knocking it around nicely, with Declan Rice quarterbacking well. The need for more grip in midfield was very apparent. When we got forward the interchanges looked good but in central midfield we looked slow, square and just not quite on it.

Then, in the 25th minute, it clicked. Saka slid in Auba with a sumptuous and perfectly weighted pass. Auba drove forward and, like so many goalscorers are able to do, stood it up perfectly with his left foot, first time to allow an unmarked Laca to power the ball in with his head from the six yard line. Bosh! John Radford would have enjoyed that one. Offside against Auba looked marginal but again VAR came down on the red side, with Diop’s heel just playing him onside.

Arsenal 1-0 West Ham (Lacazette 25’)

Another lovely flowing move saw Saka in space in the area on the left again. Now we’ve seen him convert from that position before (e.g. Bournemouth in the Cup). He hit it well, but just over the top.

On 33 minutes, some aerial head tennis on the edge of the box saw the ball strike Gabriel on the upper arm. It looked very similar to that given against Lindelof of Man Utd in the game earlier in the day. Oliver didn’t give it, VAR took a long look and decided no penalty. For my money neither should have been given, but the handball rule continues to be the one that is most inconsistently applied, despite FIFA’s intervention in the summer.

Fredericks was rightly booked for a murderous waist high challenge on Saka. However Oliver played a great advantage and Dani just failed to meet a cross in the six yard box. Again I thought we were looking sharp around and in their area, with Laca showing some lovely hold up play to link passes and Willian looking constantly dangerous.

As the half approached it was looking like we had weathered the (modest) storm from the Irons, scored a very nice goal and were going to go in 1-0 up. But this is The Arsenal my friends! From a promising attacking position for us, with plenty of Arsenal players forward, Fabianski cleared his lines with a hoof to the left wing on the centre line. It was collected nicely and then switched to Bowen on the right. Instead of closing down, Kola just ran away deep into our area, allowing Bowen to set Fredericks up on the overlap with no pressure. Unchallenged again by Kola, who was a good three yards off him, Fredericks drove a cross into the six yard box. Rob Holding had somehow got the wrong side of Antonio who finished well.

Arsenal 1-1 West Ham (Antonio 45’)

Guys, we have to talk about Kola. His passing is awful, especially from his own penalty area. His defending is worse, consisting of either running away or clumsy efforts that are often penalised. When attacking he gets in great overlapping positions, but his delivery is poor. He won’t do. Get rid.

HT Arsenal 1-1 West Ham

No changes at halftime. After Saka went close, courtesy of a delicious Auba off the ball run and well timed pass, Leno released his full Manuel Neur by collecting one clearance on the half way line and recycling the ball rather well. A change of underpants was required by the watching Arsenal Community with memories of another Manuel, this time Almunia, still vivid. He was then seen to be prowling fully 20 metres outside his box to block out the long ball over the top. An Arteta instruction to support a high line?

Gabriel was having a rather enjoyably physical battle with the very athletic Antonio. Honours were just about even. But our new Brazilian centreback clearly does not shirk the heavy stuff. We dodged a bullet when Masuaku delivered a fine cross from their left and this time Antonio couldn’t quite finish, with Leno clutching the ball on the line after Gabriel had made life awkward for the centre forward.

A frankly dull period followed, with West Ham looking dangerous pumping back post crosses in from their left to either Soucek or Antonio. Now who was at the back post playing left centre back (who was frequently nowhere to be seen)? Oh yes …

On 64 minutes, Willian, who had been buzzing nicely in a central number 10 position, was taken off for the mercurial Pepe. Xhaka was left for dead in midfield and then recovered to crash clumsily into a West Ham player. Another cross was pumped in. Leno claimed well but fell over Ceballos, spilling the ball in the process. A dangerous shot came in but Leno recovered to get his legs in the way. Antonio hammered a header against the bar. We were clinging on more than a bit.

On 75 minutes, Laca, who put in a good shift, came off for the fresh legs of Eddie. As we went past the 80th minute the Hammers barrage slowed. Were they settling for a point? If they were it came back to bite them. Another fabulous line splitting pass from Saka saw Ceballos clear in the area. He unselfishly squared it to Eddie who had been alert enough to stay behind the ball and hence onside. He duly completed a trademark tap in. Last week’s sparring partners had combined to win the game!

Arsenal 2-1 West Ham (Nketiah 85)

On 88 minutes Luiz came on for Saka, who another highly effective game, with great and visionary output. Before the goal, Ceballos was going to be hooked for Elneny evidently!

As the board went up for 4 minutes added time, the ball fell to Auba for his first clear chance of the match. He hit it well but straight at Fabianski. We saw the game out without serious alarms. Played 2 won 2 baby!

FT Arsenal 2-1 West Ham

I thought Saka (my MOTM), Auba, Laca and Dani were rather good. Kola was awful. Xhaka and Holding definite room for improvement.

When you play badly and win, that’s how you get competitive in league football. We rode our luck, with all the VAR calls going our way, but scored two very high quality goals. We are only behind Everton by virtue of goals scored. A fine start to the season.

107 Drinks to “We Ride Our Luck But Saka Inspires Two Fine Goals To Sink The Hammers”

  1. 1
    bt8 says:

    Another case of Saka Laca, sounds like

  2. 2
    bt8 says:

    Virtuoso report, c100. The game I saw, and a gritty three points that will come in very handy down the line. All the best to your friends in Norfolk

  3. 3
    TTG says:

    Firstly, I am so sorry to read about your friend. At times like this the importance of friendships is heightened and I hope the visit was as enjoyable as it could be . I am sure it meant a lot to you all.
    Your report is comprehensive, accurate and balanced and does not shirk any of the issues that emerged from that game . A very fine description.
    Frankly I didn’t enjoy the game at all . Starting from the back I’m not convinced by Leno , Holding,Kola , Xhaka ( there’s a surprise!) and I think Hector lacks consistency . You are right to highlight Kola , he was awful. His distribution ( remember the NLD at the Lane ?) is erratic and you sum up his deficiencies well. Now his assets….Er he’s a big unit but is rubbish in the air and he seems to have lost that explosive quality going forward unless he’s holding off muggers . That’s it folks . Rob Holding is too slow and Xhaka? No one needs anymore from me on him. While he remains in the team we will struggle to progress. Our ball movement yesterday was about 50% sideways and 30% backwards yet Saka found two great incisive forward passes that cut them open. In my experience sideways or backwards passes are sometimes necessary but rarely cut teams open .
    Bright spots were as you suggest Saka, Lacazette who worked his socks off and although he had a poor first half I thought Dani Ceballos improved as the game went on. Gabriel literally held the defence together . I’m impressed with him.
    What the game emphasised was the value of Tierney .A huge loss yesterday .

  4. 4
    bathgooner says:

    An excellent report, sir, of an excrutiating game to watch. We played as if we had been on the booze for several days celebrating Auba’s signing. Very few get pass marks from that performance, the win and three points notwithstanding. My only disagreement with your ‘rather good’ roll call is Ceballos who I thought stank the stadium out in the first half. I would have hooked him along with Kola at half time though to be fair he redeemed himself with his assist for the winner. We don’t have many options in midfield which is why he was still on the field at 85 minutres. Holding seriously needs to rediscover the player we thought he was before the cruciate injury or he’s destined for pastures new along with Sokratis and hopefully Kola. At the moment I miss the post-lock-down Mustafi on the right side of our back three.

  5. 5
    kadigah says:

    Fine report as expected C100.
    I know Ceballos is much tolerated here just like Guendozi was before him, but what exactly is he good at? What special quality does he contribute to this side? Poor Willock. Elneny makes us more solid in midfield methinks. The much maligned Xhaka does at least possess a footballing brain and seems to understand shape better than most midfielders in the game(likely why all managers and players appreciate him). Of course his pace is wanting, but quickness of mind ranks higher imo.
    We also don’t seem to create many chances nowadays. Is the market the only solution?
    Oh, and I didn’t think I’d miss Martinez so soon. Smart managers will strive to exploit Leno’s weakness with high balls.

  6. 6
    TTG says:

    A very well-argued post.
    My contention re Ceballos is that ( like Elneny ) he gives us mobility. Yesterday was his first full game of the season, his pre-season being disrupted by having to return to Madrid . Without his contribution in the FA Cup in the last three games I don’t think we would have won it . You are quite right that we lack creativity but at least Ceballos made the sort of forward run that set up Nketiah . I think he will improve this season but I accept he had a shocking first half yesterday . You are right about the Martinez/ Leno situation. Every time the opposition get a corner I panic but then so does the defence ….with good reason!

  7. 7
    Countryman100 says:

    Kadigah. Thank you for your kind comments. I absolutely see why we disagree on Ceballos. I think Arteta is gradually turning him into a very effective midfielder. I like midfielders who run at defences rather than just play square balls and Dani is starting to do that. He did make the winner, to be fair, and contributed well in the FA Cup semi and final. But he lacks consistency. Let’s call him a work in progress. I’m not willing to give upon him just yet.

  8. 8
    kadigah says:

    Thanks for the responses TTG and C100.
    Midfield certainly remains a worry. And yet this has been the one area on the pitch where we’ve been overstocked in recent years. Thank goodness Arteta is in charge.

  9. 9
    BtM says:

    Good summary of a challenging day at the races, C100. I find little nutrition in the pre-match waffle and so switched on just as the teams were emerging from the tunnel only to see one of the least talented left-sided defenders in the League trotting out in red. Never a good thing.

    I agree that Tierney’s late withdrawal had a destabilising impact on our play, highlighting his importance to the team. We look and play as a much more competent unit when he’s on the field. I would have preferred a back three of Holding, Luiz and Gabriel than the three MA8 chose. I have seen enough 45 degree backward passes from Kola to last me a lifetime.

    Never off-side, never a penalty, two beautiful goals and six points from a possible six.

    Keep winning, Arsenal. Play better.

  10. 10
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Excellent review Countryman.
    Best wishes to your friend and the family.

    The team started sloppily with poor passing spreading infectiously. Then after 15 odd minutes once we found stability I thought we were decent. There was purposefulness and plan, but not precision.

    Even when in second half we were playing inconsistently there were many moments when our midfield will have the ball, our frontline will make runs but there will be no incisive passing through the lines. Xhaka is good at long-distance distribution passes at players’ feet — especially delivered over the top of opposition midfield — but quick first-time defense splitting passes from midfield in space where the attackers can run onto is not his game. Neither is Dani’s for that matter. Saka and Willian are okay with that but not the best. We so very much need a midfielder to do that especially when opposition defense will stay in shape and protect spaces the way hammers did yesterday.

    Fabregas, TR7, Santi, early version Ozil, Jack when he was fit … a player with that kind of passing range added to this team will have us winning matches like this with greater ease.

  11. 11
    Doctor Faustus says:

    You know you have an influential personality when your most fashion savvy teammate copies your style. 🙂 Hector tucking in shirt a la Tierney…

    I hope we no longer are thinking of selling Hector to raise funds. I think even though he is needing to change his game — to compensate for the loss of pace as well as playing in a role where he often drives inside which he has started to do effectively — he has a good footballing brain and good technical skills.

  12. 12
    bathgooner says:

    Dr F @10, spot on about what we need and the players who used to provide those defence splitting through balls. That is not a skill possessed by Mr Partey but Aouar looks to have that in his locker.

    Saturday was a reminder of how we have struggled against the low block for a long time.

  13. 13
    Countryman100 says:

    Leicester now top of the league. We are third. Liverpool are fourth

  14. 14
    bath gooner says:

    It works! But with a space.

  15. 15
    bathgooner says:

    which is easily removed, with the third log in click.

  16. 16
    bathgooner says:

    Fourth click actually.

    This might appear

    Moo in memoriam.

    What’s the Latin for moo?

    I know that Dutch cows say “boo”
    not “moo”!

  17. 17
    Goonersince54 says:

    Fine report C100
    And my condolences on the sad situation with your lady friend.
    funny old game football.
    Last week Hammers were dire at home, and this week nearly knock us off with a vastly improved effort.
    Ditto for Spuds, also useless at home last week, thrash Saints away this week.
    Newcastle very good away win last week, thrashed at home by Brighton this week.
    And Fulham awful last week at home, and this week score 3 goals away from home and nearly nick a point away at Leeds.
    Then we come to the Kings Road lot, who comfortably beat Brighton away last week, and yet for all the money spent in the summer, are made to look 3rd rate by an ominous Pool performance at the Bridge.
    Mikel will have to be a genius to come up with a master plan to get anything at Anfield next week if we play like we did yesterday.
    But hey, I did say football is a funny old game, and without the raucous home support to spur them on, let’s hope that evens up the odds a little bit.
    Fingers crossed Tierney’s fit to play in a back 3 with Luiz and Gabriel, and AMN is restored to the team that shut down Pool so effectively at Wembley recently.
    As the squad stands at this moment in time, I have to say I think we are a top 8 team in what I believe is going to be a very competitive season for European places.
    Whether my opinion will be different when the transfer window closes on
    Oct 5th, remains to be seen.

  18. 18
    Countryman100 says:

    Thank you Clive. Wise thoughts. I wasn’t that impressed with Liverpool but Mane was majestic. Looks like the late start to the season is meaning different teams are starting at different paces. I’ll take six points from two games before the serious games start.

  19. 19
    TTG says:

    Clive ,
    Your slightly depressing analysis is very accurate and actually very similar to mine .We had a makeshift defence out yesterday which is frustrating given how many defenders we have on the books. Wenger used to irritate me because he played transfer window poker and we often were umpteen games into the season before we’d sorted out the team. The year we lost Fabregas and Nasri , lost 8-2 at Old Trafford and then signed a very motley crew of top players ( BFG , Arteta) and inadequates- Gervinho , Santos and Park was the worst example but we only saw a well- managed transfer window last summer imo for the first time in yonks .
    I have confidence in Arteta because he clearly has a plan and the mentality to achieve it. Dr.F is spot on about what we need in midfield . Without it I think Clive’s assessment will become reality but a couple of good midfielders could make us a top 4 side . It looks like Torreira is off and possibly Mustafi and Kolasinac too. If we can get rid of Guendouzi ( Ozil can’t be shifted very sadly and apparently trained with the U23s yesterday ) we might have the wherewithal to make our wishlist reality

  20. 20
    Goonersince54 says:

    Chelsea were far too passive in the first half.
    Pool would have had doubts after Leeds frightened the life out of them last week by attacking them at every opportunity.
    Fat Frank obviously didn’t watch the game, or didn’t have the courage to play on the front foot at home.

  21. 21
    Goonersince54 says:

    Evening TTG
    Didn’t mean to depress you my friend, and I agree the makeshift backline did us no favors, Gabriel the honorable exception, given it was only his 2nd competitive game in 6 months.
    Absolutely agree re midfield.
    A top notch defensive midfielder to protect the backline, and a top creative offensive midfielder to knit the thing together are a must for us to be competitive for top 4.
    Mikel/Edu have 2 vital weeks left in the transfer window that will make or break our hopes and dreams for this season.

  22. 22
    Osakamatt says:

    Thanks for the report C100.
    A very good summary of events.
    Like you I would have
    given neither of the penalties
    (which made Lindelof’s all the
    funnier). But I would have sent
    Fredericks off and booked Bowen
    for a dive.
    Two good goals and excellent movement
    from Laca to pull away into space for the
    first as West Ham’s defence was drawn
    towards Auba.
    On we go now to a difficult run of games
    but with six points in the bag.

  23. 23
    scruzgooner says:

    c100, finally getting to read this fine report. pretty much as i saw it, though i thought xhaka had a fairly torrid game. at this point, though, we can only afford one sideways sam, not adding another in backwards bob as with kola. i agree with ttg about the speed of our attack…WAY too slow with them both in, and ended up essentially losing us the midfield battle.

    kadigah, your last line@8 is truth. and until we get someone better dani is going to have to play. i think he would fare better with amn next to him than with xhaka. but i’m not the manager, and we’ve a good’un to support…

  24. 24
    Countryman100 says:

    Amy Lawrence on Lacazette. I think he was excellent on Saturday. Amy’s comparison with Giroud is interesting.

  25. 25
    Countryman100 says:

    Continuing with the morning’s reading (that’s what us retired chaps do) interesting article on VAR in The Guardian.

  26. 26
    BtM says:

    Good morning, Clive, always good to hear from you.

    The writing has been on the wall in terms of our MF player needs for weeks/months now. Finances and a virus constrained market continue to frustrate unfortunately. I’m a little more optimistic than your ‘top 8’ without a signing prediction because of the Arteta Factor. However, there is no doubt that two additions would transform the squad.

    On a positive note, Gabriel looks like a great addition to the excellent Tierney in the back four. I haven’t seen too much of Saliba, but Ive liked every second I’ve seen and look forward to seeing him partner Gabriel in the centre of a back four.

    I think The Arsenal missed a huge trick by signing Cedric and missing out on Tariq Lamptey (Chel$ki reject) who looks like a wonderful talent at right back – early signs, better than Bellerin. We still need to be much more clever.

  27. 27
    Countryman100 says:

    Morning BtM. I believe our recruitment policy now is very “moneyball” and based on stats and metrics. I can see a need for this, but sometimes stats lie. For example, the BBC site was lauding Thiago’s debut yesterday for Liverpool, with 77 passes completed. I’m sure he’s an excellent player and is a good buy for the bin dippers, but all I saw yesterday was someone giving away a penalty, clattering clumsily into tackles and playing a lot of short square passes. Denilson’s passing stats were a thing of beauty but MST of them were five yards and square. Caveat emptor, as they say in the pubs of Anfield.

  28. 28
    bathgooner says:

    There’s interesting noise that Simeone is interested in taking Torreira to Atletico Madrid and that the wee fella is keen on that switch. It sounds like they want to take him on loan without any obligation to purchase but it does open a negotiating chink in their hitherto resolute stance that Partey is only leaving if the full release clause is paid.

    While I have little doubt Partey’s strength would provide a useful fillip to our midfield, I remain concerned that he is expensive for what he offers and is at an age where he will have little resale value. Furthermore, his interception and tackling numbers do not suggest he is an astute defensive reader of the game (like Gilberto was) nor that he can make any contribution to assists or goals which Saturday demonstrated is another significant deficit on our present midfield roster.

    However I have fully bought into MA8’s vision and if he wants to build his midfield around Thomas Partey then that’s good enough for me. Hopefully he is a piece in the jigsaw and another incoming piece will add the drive and creativity we desperately need.

  29. 29
    Goonersince54 says:

    A very good morning to the members of the Scottish branch of the much loved Holics bar.
    Trust you are both well.
    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that other clubs know we have to sell to buy,which puts us at a disadvantage in any outgoing transfer negotiations .
    I think we could be in for some frantic last minute deals with a good deal of brinkmanship as October looms on the horizon.

  30. 30
    Countryman100 says:

    Scottish branch by birth Clive. One lives in Somerset and one in Hertfordshire. Both have told me they are doing missionary work.

  31. 31
    Goonersince54 says:

    Deserted the Mother Country then Countryman.
    Both happily retired i hear.
    One i know spends a lot of his time searching for his golf ball in the rough at the local golf course, the other is a mystery.

  32. 32
    Osakamatt says:

    We say we are using stats/data
    more now but as Bath noted
    Partey’s are not great and also
    we seem to be buying Runarsson
    on the basis of the new coach’s

  33. 33
  34. 34
    bathgooner says:

    Heh C100 @30. That was indeed once true but given the sad decline of the homeland, I would no longer be so presumptuous. To take the missionary position one has to believe in the project.

  35. 35
    bt8 says:

    Seems easier to look for golf balls in the short grass, just sayin’

  36. 36
    bathgooner says:

    Clive @31, I am indeed very happy, nay delighted, to have retired and delighted also to be mysterious, sir. Golf is, as a greater man than me once said, a waste of a good walk.

    Clive @29, I am sure you are correct that we must get our outgoing business done to have any prospect of securing our additional targets and that it will go down to the wire. Arsene always said that business was usually conducted in the last hours of the last day as the minds get concentrated and the bullets get bitten. It’s probably even more true this window when only those clubs with sugar daddies have cash to splash.

  37. 37
    North Bank Ned says:

    A belated tip of the hat for your match report, C100, and for your support of your friend, to whom best wishes in what are no doubt difficult circumstances.

    Nothing much to disagree with in what has been said in the bar so far. We need to rebuild in midfield if we are to contend for a CL spot. The debate over Partey is intriguing as the numbers don’t seem to be there, but Arteta must see something beyond the stats, just as he does with Xhaka.

    We also need a fit set of defenders to ensure a settled backline of which Tierney is an integral member. I liked the way Gabriel was giving Kola instructions, just before the start of the West Ham game. A leader in the making, there.

    @27: all I saw yesterday was someone giving away a penalty, clattering clumsily into tackles and playing a lot of short square passes.. Who needs Thiago when we have Xhaka for that?

  38. 38
    North Bank Ned says:

    A Scottish golf story:

  39. 39
    TTG says:

    ‘ To take the missionary position one has to believe in the project.’
    I have occasionally taken it without knowing what was going to happen but I know what you mean Bath!
    The Mustafi noises are increasing but the Torreira deal looks like a loan if Atletico have their way. Surely a swap makes sense? We probably have to prioritise the midfield choices. Away Partey will be more useful but at home against a low block Aouar will be more important . I’m going to pin my colours to Partey because I think our playing tempo would increase and Willian might move more centrally . If Father Christmas comes early and gives us both we could have a great season

  40. 40
    Countryman100 says:

    Ned @37. Ha. Nice one. I should make it clear that my comments were about the use of statistics, not about Thiago himself. He comes with a stellar reputation and no doubt will have three goals and three assists against us next weekend. Hopefully that’s enough to remove any hostages to fortune.

  41. 41
    bathgooner says:

    Heh @ 38, 39 & 40!

  42. 42
    bathgooner says:

    I have a question that’sbeen burning away at me for a few days and I meant to ask this illustrious brains trust.

    I know he was in the Bundesliga Team of the Season the season before we signed him. I also know that he ‘came on a free transfer’ so was seen as a bargain buy on his arrival.

    My question is:
    Did anybody scout Kolasinac before we signed him and gave him a lucrative long-term contract (i.e. run an intelligent and experienced eye over the player in several matches)?

    Follow-up question:
    If someone did, are they still in the club’s employment?

  43. 43
    TTG says:

    It’s a great question and from memory there was big competition for Kolasinac because he was on a Bosman. It was on Wenger’s watch and to be fair for the first few months I thought he was terrific. He wasn’t a great defender but he was unstoppable going forward. That aspect of his play has declined and his defensive deficiencies have been more exposed . To answer your question he was probably watched extensively by Steve Rowley and Grimandi. He is half the player he was when we signed him, his use of the ball is atrocious . We would have looked much more secure with Luiz in his place on Saturday
    Latest semi-credible rumour is Chelsea interest in Guendouzi. We have apparently asked for Kante or Hudson- Odoi in exchange . Kante is exactly what we need

  44. 44
    Doctor Faustus says:

    The new #2 is in, but wearing #13. One thing going in favor of him is that he is not superstitious. 🙂
    Maybe will even start at Leicester?

  45. 45
    Countryman100 says:

    TTG. I wanted us to buy Kante when he left Leicester after they won the league. I presume we were outbid by Chelski. Evidently Fat Frank does not want him as a DM. He’s still only 29 and would be perfect. I have not seen enough of Partey so cannot compare the two.

  46. 46
    Countryman100 says:

    Dr F. I think Runarsson is intended as a number 3 to replace Mackey. I think Leno will start against Leicester. I believe our primary target for No 2 remains Reya of Brentford although they don’t want to sell him.

  47. 47
    Countryman100 says:

    Macey, not Mackey. Autocorrect strikes again.

  48. 48
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Thanks Countryman for that clarification. I know nothing about either the new Icelandic signing or the other target, but I am trusting Mikel and Edu. 🙂

    Is he our first ever Icelandic player at any level (including youth)? Monks will probably have this info on their fingertips. Ned?

  49. 49
    TTG says:

    Runarsson has joined us as a back-up goalie . I wish him well but will he be as good as his Dad Runar?

  50. 50
    Countryman100 says:

    He comes with a pretty poor rep from Iceland Gooners and didn’t make the Dijon first team. But he has worked with our new goalkeeping coach before. I guess that’s where the recommendation came from.

  51. 51
    Countryman100 says:

    Doffs cap for the elegant but restrained 50.

  52. 52
    BtM says:

    Brilliant penalty save versus Sheff Utd Emi Martinez

  53. 53
    ksn says:

    Martinez saves a penalty against SU. Villa made a killing buying him for £20 mil. Did we make the right decision to sell him considering he was in the final year of his contract?

  54. 54
    Countryman100 says:

    To quote my old University cricket coach, speaking of his days as a pro in the Northern leagues, when crowds of 3-5k were not unusual and if someone made 50 there would be a collection

    “I’d walk out to open the batting at Bradford Park Avenue, count the crowd, and think, there’s fifty quid here. Get ‘em in ones.”

  55. 55
    bathgooner says:

    Dr F @48, he’s our third Icelander

    Albert Sigurður Guðmundsson b 1923 1946/7 season
    Sigurður Jónsson b 1966 a member of the ’91 squad

  56. 56
    bathgooner says:

    In stark contrast to our sales team’s special offer approach, the Dippers are allegedly selling Brewster, a guy with a mere 20 games under his belt for Swansea for £19m + £6m add-ons + a buyback/first refusal clause. Our salesman suck in comparison.

  57. 57
    BtM says:

    @56 – testament to the capability and injury resistance of Alexander Arnold that they can let him go without blinking. Or perhaps someone at Swansea has read “How I do deals” by Ivan Gazidis. It takes two, baby.

  58. 58
    BtM says:

    The Villa game is a great training video on how not to play against a 10 man defence with big guys at its heart.

    And then suddenly Sheffield are undone by a very lethargic effort to defend a set piece.

  59. 59
    BtM says:

    If I remember correctly we lost to the Blades in Sheffield and then drew at the Emirates. Four points down the gurgler. I hope MA8 is watching this game and spotting the very obvious chinks in their armour.

    Chinks? Is that a real word or a Fifeism? Is it even PC?

  60. 60
    BtM says:

    Quiet in the bar tonight. Rounds are cheap though and that’s always a bonus. (More astute readers will recognise this as a fly to tempt Steve T out from under his banking).

  61. 61
    BtM says:

    On a night like this…..I need your sweet kiss – (oops, nearly lapsed into a Gerry Rafferty lyric there 🙂 ). As I was saying,

    On a night like this, cba would have gone on a long run, Holic would have gotten a creditable mention, Bath, some stick. He’d have been thinking, we’re only at 61, I can take us right through the night to 342 🙂

    Miss that old cow brander.

  62. 62
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Thanks bath@55.

    Your command of the Icelandic orthography is exemplary too! 🙂

  63. 63
    BtM says:

    Claimed to love the Scottish music scene but hated the Eurythmics. Go figure. Hated Annie? What, even when she stripped down to that maroon leather bra? Maybe he never saw then live?Or even in the video from Melbourne?

    Still, he loved the Blue Nile. That didn’t surprise me. Showed his quality. Showed his taste.

    Hats. What an album that is.

  64. 64
    BtM says:

    Ah, Dr F, you’re there. Drinks on me. What are you having?

  65. 65
    BtM says:

    Her Nellieness proclaiming that the fish pie is ready. Long run to 362 interrupted.

  66. 66
    Countryman100 says:

    BtM. You’re a Protestant heathern ! Moooooooo!

  67. 67
    bathgooner says:

    Like the Guvna, that Paddy bovine botherer with a chip on each shoulder left his mark on this community and like the Guvna, his peculiar memory will live as long as we live.

  68. 68
    Countryman100 says:

    Funnily enough, I could just go a bottle or two of home brew stout right now.

  69. 69
    Countryman100 says:

    I wonder what BtM had with his fish pie? We had a nice roast chicken with tarragon sauce and a glass or two of Sicilian Grillo white.

  70. 70
    North Bank Ned says:

    Also, Ingólfur Sigurðsson played a game for the U16s in 2010 while on trial.

    Albert Sigurður Guðmundsson was Iceland’s first professional footballer. He played two games for us in the old First Division in 1946 as an amateur. He went onto a political career, serving as Iceland’s Finance Minister and Industry Minister in the 1980s. His son, grand-daughter and great grandson were all Iceland internationals.

    Sigurður Jónsson was signed from Sheffield Wednesday in 1989 for £450,000, a tidy sum then for a defender. A back injury ruined his career. He played just two games for the 1990-91 league winning side, not making an appearance after the Norwich game in October 1990 and returning to Iceland. However, he played for Dundee United for a season in 1999-2000.

  71. 71
    TTG says:

    I saw Siggi Jonsson’s only goal in front of the North Bank . Big blond bloke. Surprise that .

    Abramovich had a financial interest in players who could and in some cases did oppose Chelsea. Who knew?
    I’d love it if he were banned as a club owner but that won’t hapoen

  72. 72
    Goonersince54 says:

    Bath @36
    See i do back drink, unlike some i could mention.
    Me Da told me once very early doors, that golf was for those that don’t like exercise.
    Hacking your way round the Course for 4hrs, disappearing into the surrounding trees and shrubbery regularly, searching in vain for a little white ball, that for some reason never goes in the direction in which you were attempting to hit it.
    It all seems aimed at getting to the ” 19th hole ” wherever that is.
    On a separate note
    I haven’t seen Dorset Mick in the drinks recently, i know he had his own battles with his health,
    So if you are still checking in to the bar mate, let us know you are okay.
    Hope the dishlickers are still winning a few races for you.

  73. 73
    North Bank Ned says:

    That would have been against QPR in 1989, TTG. Lee Dixon scored a penalty, too. One of three or four he scored in a month.

    The FinCEN files confirm the murkiness of third party ownership of players. Doesn’t pass many smell tests.

  74. 74
    TTG says:

    Thanks. We won 3-0 , Siggi came on as a sub with about eight minutes to go and slotted home almost immediately . He probably played less than 500 first-team minutes , possibly much less so his scoring rate is historically very good .
    Lee was decent from the spot although I remember him missing one in a Cup tie against Leeds

  75. 75
    Cent says:

    Evening/morning all. I’d like to join in welcoming our Icelandic new boy into the gooners family then pull up a stool at the bar and try to catch with the drinking. I’m sure a few shots of Jose Cuervo in quick succession will get me up to speed. Line ’em up!

  76. 76
    Osakamatt says:

    Welcome to Runarsson.

    And to answer ksn @53, yes I think so.
    If Emi wanted to be No 1 or nothing we
    could never guarantee that and it was win-
    win to sell as now he is No 1 (cracking
    penalty save Emi! ) and we have an
    unexpected 20m in the bank.
    He’s gone now anyway with our best
    wishes and I fully support the excellent
    Leno. I do think we need to buy one
    more keeper though, whether it’s Raya
    or someone else.

  77. 77
    ksn says:

    Thanks OM. Both are top quality players who want regular first team football. One had to leave. Martinez had better command of the penalty area and was a better distributor whereas Leno is a better shot stopper. Hope we use the money to get some decent midfielders.

  78. 78
    Countryman100 says:

    Return to stadia OFF

  79. 79
    Osakamatt says:

    That is a damn shame C100 but difficult
    to see any other option from where
    I’m sitting (6,000 miles away).
    Especially after what happened last
    March when some events went ahead. the

  80. 80
    Osakamatt says:

    Reports today that Aouar is a
    done deal. Hope they’re actually
    right for a change.

  81. 81
    Countryman100 says:

    Also reports today in the French media that Guendouzi has handed in a transfer request. Good – that saves a seven figure loyalty bonus. Arrogant little shit.

  82. 82
    bathgooner says:

    Good news @80 & 81. Things are moving. I hope the rumour that the Chavs want to swap a player for Gwen are true but only Kante, Pilisic or Werner are acceptable. 👍🏼👍🏼

    Sad but predictable @78. ☠️

  83. 83
    bathgooner says:

    The Guendouzi transfer request has been denied. Merely fake news causing Twitter storm.

  84. 84
    Countryman100 says:

    Just saw that. He wants out but wants to keep his loyalty bonus.

  85. 85
    bt8 says:

    @78. Was there really any other option but to keep games behind closed doors with the current wave of disease sweeping through?

  86. 86
    bt8 says:

    There is a more severe option on the table, of course.

    Shutting the pubs completely, I mean. 😕

  87. 87
    Countryman100 says:

    Bt8. No, of course not. Doesn’t stop me being disappointed.

  88. 88
    ksn says:

    OM @80, is it possible to give a link to the report/s.

  89. 89
    TTG says:

    I know you and Countryman Jr. we’re hoping to see the Sheffield United game on October 3rd and I am very disappointed for you. Arsenal has fewer more loyal or widely travelled fans and it would have been an unusual experience for you both albeit sitting four seats apart!
    London appears to be seeing a resurgence of the virus and although it wouldn’t affect you the tube journey would put me off. My mates and I had decided that if we attended a game in the foreseeable future we would walk to and from Kings Cross.
    Where I live in East Kent the rate is very low at present . I wonder when we will start looking at why the regional differences are so stark ?

  90. 90
    Countryman100 says:

    Thanks TTG. I actually think Arsenal, with input from fan groups have come up with a pretty good plan. The ability to defer a year, plus a ballot, and groupings from the same household can sit together, with no upfront money and only paying by the game. It is a shame, because we are missing live football badly, but as Bt8 says, it’s the only possible call in the circumstances. With the PM saying today that these rules could last six months, it’s definitely a possibility that the whole season could be behind closed doors. If that’s the case then I do hope they come up with some way of showing every game on TV.

  91. 91
    North Bank Ned says:

    The monks set about looking for the purported Guendouzi transfer request story on L’Equipe and couldn’t find anything on its web site about him asking to leave that was more recent than a week after the Brighton fracas in June.

  92. 92
    Countryman100 says:

    Spurs vs Orient off as Orient players have Covid. Spurs want a bye through to the next round. Discussions ongoing.


  93. 93
    TTG says:

    I had a Zoom chat with a very old friend who is a Palace season – ticket holder yesterday. He has had two season tickets with his son for about twenty years and has been a regular ( going to many away games ) for almost sixty years . Palace asked him for a deposit in order to retain his ticket and enter into ballots for tickets. Their tickets are much cheaper than ours and the deposit was about 40% of the full cost . He has decided not to bother renewing and will take his chance next year . He was most impressed with the Arsenal approach .
    I don’t think we will see fans back in the grounds before March even if an effective vaccine materialises but if the games are on TV that will cushion the blow . As you suggest we will need to tweak the TV schedules . Let’s hope absence makes the heart grow fonder . Most of us ( in the UK ) are pretty regular attenders and we will miss that part of our lives a lot It deals a very big blow to team finances across the Leagues

  94. 94
    Countryman100 says:

    I think the real problem is that once you get out of the habit of going (and let’s face it, you do have to work hard for (e.g) Newcastle away with a 12.30 kick off as happened a year ago) then many may settle for watching on TV or down the pub. Our game may be changing before our eyes.

  95. 95
    Countryman100 says:

    Our friend in the old bar from Norfolk (I’ve forgotten her name) used to do that walk to and from Kings Cross regularly. It’s a decent trek with the first bit up to the Angel uphill. Maybe an Uber to and from Kings Cross to Highbury Corner?

  96. 96
    TTG says:

    Wasn’t that Delia?

  97. 97
    Countryman100 says:

    That was her! Don’t think she found our new home. Hope she’s OK.

  98. 98
    bathgooner says:

    Drinks the ball out to the wing for….

  99. 99
    bathgooner says:

    Delia did that quite often. I’ve done it a few times myself. Quite a nice walk, now.

    Retrieves ball and plays killer pass for…

  100. 100
    Countryman100 says:

    Square ball across the middle

  101. 101
    Countryman100 says:

    Inadvertent ton!

  102. 102
    bt8 says:


  103. 103
    Osakamatt says:

    I miss Delia’s reports!
    Hope she is well and I’m sure
    she must be happier with
    Mikel as manager and Hector
    back in the side

  104. 104
    Osakamatt says:

    A very timely ton C100!

  105. 105
    Countryman100 says:

    I think it’s just over two miles each way.

  106. 106
    bt8 says:

    Sorry, didn’t see countryman sneak in there, a bit more Danny-like> Well in!

  107. 107
    ATG says: