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As Arsenal happily say goodbye to the old and hello to the new, they enter 2021 with ever more daunting challenges including an anything-but-trivial visit to the West Midlands on Saturday evening, so it may be a good time to pause and digest a morsel or two of trivia.  The far-flung or more recently hatched ‘holic may wonder why it is called the Black Country (coal seems to be a core issue), or any number of diffuse musings related to our newly promoted opponent this weekend.  As I found out with this computer thingy, West Bromwich Albion’s distinctive badge features a throstle bird perched on the branch of a hawthorn tree.  No less interesting, I assure you, WBA, as the club is often called to fend off any shortage of pixels or newspaper ink, has a longstanding rivalry with Black Country cousins Wolves, with whom the Baggies contest the joint oldest derby in English league football.  As to why the club’s nickname is the Baggies, and other conundrums, I refer the reader to this excellent fact sheet detailing nearly every aspect of Baggies ephemera: http://www.baggies.com/faq/

As to the match at hand, The Hawthorns will see its first Premier League visit by Arsenal since 31 December 2017 when the sides played to a 1-1 draw, and Arsene Wenger presided over his record 811th Premier League match as manager. Arsenal’s lone tally that day was credited as a Baggies own goal from a deflected Alexis Sanchez free kick, and it kept them in fifth position in the table. The point Alan Pardew’s side earned kept them undefeated in three consecutive home matches against Arsenal and moved them off rock-bottom but was not enough to save them from relegation or Pardew from a sacking as they finished the season on 31 points, last place in the table. Swansea and Stoke were relegated with them, but only the Baggies have managed a return to the top-flight. Three years later, Arsenal will start the game not in fifth place but on the edge of a relegation fight despite their two big wins earlier this week. As of Christmas Day, Arsenal sat in 15th spot with 14 points, just seven points better than the Baggies, in 19th spot with seven points. Since then, the Baggies drew with Liverpool at Anfield before getting pounded by Leeds at home, while Arsenal engineered a holiday rejuvenation with victories in the Boxing Day derby at Chelsea and Tuesday’s seaside jaunt to Brighton. As pitiful as it sounds, Arsenal garnered 30% of their season-long points haul this week alone, but at least we increased our advantage over the Baggies to a more respectable 12 points.

It seems both managers are looking at this game with eyes open, as a six-pointer among direct rivals. Immediately prior to the win at Chelsea, as the Gunners had suffered a wretched stretch yielding just one victory in 10 Premier League games, Mikel Arteta told the BBC that the next week was going to be crucial in ensuring his side was not dragged into a relegation battle. A few days later, with six points gained, Arsenal’s perspective on that and other matters is a good deal more positive.  As I mentioned, we are 12 points removed from the Baggies in one direction so it is worth adding that we are also only 12 points away from second spot, behind only Liverpool. We must remember that the Premier League is no longer a four-team title race, and nearly all of the mid-table clubs could move quickly up or down the table given the right infusion of ingredients.  And a timely reminder it is, as the transfer window opens Saturday, although Arsenal got an early start by announcing the loan of Sead Kolasinac back to Schalke, the German club whence he came.  Hopefully, one or two other old faces will soon follow Kolasinac out the door giving youth greater opportunity to shine.

Team News

Generally, the same group of players who traveled to Brighton should make up the squad at The Hawthorns.  On Thursday the club announced that Bukayo Saka will be available for selection despite the knock he received late in Tuesday’s match. The aging Brazilian duo of Willian and David Luiz are back in full training after illness. Young Brazilian samba star Gabriel will not be available as he is still isolating due to a Covid-19 exposure issue, and Thomas Partey returns to full training next week so will unfortunately not yet be in the squad.

In midfield we could see Dani Ceballos come in for Mo Elneny who looked a bit off the pace at Brighton.  Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli have transformed the team in the last two matches, and the young Englishman must retain his place but after Alexandre Lacazette’s virtuoso cameo at Brighton, the Brazilian may have to settle for a cameo of his own this week.  The back five should be unchanged but in 27 training pictures on the Arsenal website, every player shown is wearing long sleeves excepting Kieran Tierney, who could be in for a big performance at left-back if the cold weather holds.  With nine players on the bench there is a lot of flexibility for Mikel Arteta depending on the situation when substitutes may be needed, but it would be great to see Joe Willock or Reiss Nelson at some point.


Bellerin, Holding, Pablo Marí, Tierney

Ceballos, Xhaka

Smith Rowe

Saka, Lacazette, Aubameyang

The opposition

Allardyce, West Brom’s relegation scrap specialist, said recently that he regards the Gunners as his bottom of the table rivals. Good luck with that one, Sam. Among his numerous clubs Allardyce has managed 34 matches against Arsenal, which is more than any other club, yet he has won only six, drawn eight and lost a whopping 20 times.  The corpulent one’s biggest task could be to shore up the Baggies’ leaky defence which has conceded a league-high 35 goals, five more than any other club.  His next biggest task could be to increase his club’s goal-scoring threat as the Baggies have scored only 11 goals all season, which is more than only Sheffield United and Burnley, but only five fewer than Arsenal.  The Baggies are owned by Lai Guochuan, a 46 year old billionaire businessman who, according to Wikipedia, became rich by turning a small cannabis nursery into China’s largest landscape development and construction firm. But as he resides in China and only attends the occasional match, it will be interesting to see if the pot magnate splashes the cash in the transfer window in an effort to stay in the Premier League, or keeps faith with Allardyce to pull off a miracle. 

On December 16th, Allardyce signed an 18-month contract after Slaven Bilic was sacked, the club standing 19th in the table with seven points from 13 matches.  But Fat Sam’s time as manager has started a bit worse than optimally as the Baggies lost 3–0 at home to Aston Villa before conceding four first half goals in Tuesday’s miserable 5-0 home loss to Leeds. The Baggies’ current form against big four clubs (not to say Arsenal is close to being one of those at the moment) has been better.  Aside from their 1-1 draws at Liverpool a week ago Sunday and at Manchester City on December 15, the Baggies lost all their league matches this month with an overall goal differential of four goals scored against seventeen conceded; and to make matters worse they garnered two red cards.  Under prior management, WBA lost four straight games in November including a 2-0 whitewashing by relegation rivals Fulham.  As of now, the Baggies have only eight points from 16 matches and remain next to bottom.

Doing their utmost to implement the Allardyce “principles” at Liverpool, the Baggies took only five shots but were far more efficient with their chances, hitting the target three times compared to just two for the league champs. WBA (and ex-Arsenal) centre-back Semi Ajayi leveled in the 82nd minute after his team fought to keep the match within reach for over an hour after Liverpool’s early opener.  By the law of averages there can be little doubt that the Baggies will revert to their tenacious Anfield form against the Gunners.

The definitive predictions of WBA’s tactical approach were published on this blog in a couple of the drinks following the Chelsea match report, by Countryman100 (“We all know exactly how Fat Sam is going to set up against us on Saturday. They will sit back. They will get free kicks and launch everything into the box. They will slow/breakup the game.”) and North Bank Ned (“Allardyce will certainly get his team to be disciplined in defence, hold their shape and play for set pieces at the other end of the pitch.”). As erudite as those gentlemen were, if you want to hear it from Fat Sam himself, his relegation “survival blueprint”: https://www.skysports.com/football/news/11662/11031332/sam-allardyce-shares-his-premier-league-survival-blueprint hit the interwebs a few years ago giving many an opposition manager a good deal of insight as to exactly what Fat Sam’s teams will try to do. 

Goonerholics’ Pound

Seeing as Leeds did the Baggies by five goals earlier in the week, and Allardyce then called for the season to be interrupted so his beleaguered side could recover, who is to say Arsenal cannot do them one better?  A decent return should be available on a 0-6 score so the intrepid punter might consider casting some savings in that direction.  A more realistic bet would probably be to take the shorter odds on 2-1 to The Arsenal with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang coming to the fore with a fine finish to break the halftime deadlock.  

Happy New Year, ‘holics!  It’s safe to say that since our two big wins this week the level of enthusiasm in the bar hasn’t been this high since September or so. A third consecutive win could send us nearly sky-high so the lads must be scheming, not to say snarling, to snatch it. As our Japan correspondent put it after the win at Brighton in midweek: “Next, let’s chew up Fat Sam. Just the sight of his bovine face annoys me so it’d be nice to stick it to him”. 

166 Drinks to “Gunners to Slip in and out of The Black Country Without Incurring Baggage Fees”

  1. 1
    Bathgooner says:

    Fine preview bt8. I think your team selection is going to be very close to, if not the very one started by Arteta. I like your optimistic talk of 0-6 but as this season, The Arsenal’s goalscoring has been somewhat in need of an aperient, I suspect your ‘more realistic’ 1-2 is far more likely though a clean sheet would be a very nice start to the new year. Much as I would like to see Sam’s odobenine boat (I have always thought it was more odobenine than bovine) after such a drubbing by a team he clearly hates, I think such a scoreline is a remote possibility. Frankly, while my nerves would be shredded, I would take another classic 1-0 to The Arsenal.

  2. 2
    Walrus Face says:

    Bovine? OM you joker!

    I’m odobenine all the way, me!

  3. 3
    Walrus Face says:

    Unlike my little accomplice who swears like a trooper but has a surprisingly soft side.

    He spent New Year’s Eve entertaining the lads via Zoom. He performed a touching a woodwind recital whilst wearing an outfit made exclusively by Levi’s.

    Apparently that is oboedenim.

  4. 4
    scruzgooner says:

    nice preview, bt8. nary an ounce of blubber on it. i’ll take the 2-1, please. steady on, boys!

    thanks, baff, for a new word. heh.

  5. 5
    TTG says:

    Firstly, that’s a fine preview Bt8. I have some relatives in West Bromwich who are delightful people but they support Wolves! I do know the Hawthorns is the highest ground ( above sea level ) in the UK but I hope we bring them down to earth tomorrow .
    I detest Fat Sam, that odobenine slob . I remember him getting his Bolton team to kick us off the pitch regularly in the noughties and they brutally injured three players in twenty minutes in 2003. I think that cost us the title that season. Bear grudges ?Moi?
    Allardyce’s brand of football is brutal and to think he was England manager before being implicated in a scam by the Sunday Times .
    I think, like Bath, your team is close Bt8 . Laca is in fine form and may start and Auba certainly will and I’m sure ESR will. I’d like to see AMN in midfield so we have some legs but that won’t happen tomorrow. I believe we might triumph 3-0 if we can start better than we did at Brighton, West Brom are low in confidence and we need to control the game from the outset . If our midfield is strong enough to facilitate that it might be an enjoyable game .

  6. 6
    Trev says:

    Cheers bt8 for a fine preview.

    And thanks to Bathgooner for a nice shiny new word in the form of odobenine 👍🏻
    Walrus is eminently suitable for Fat Sam – it certainly has my seal of approval !

    And applause, applause for “oboedenim” at drink 3. Worthy of Rev AL – could it be ….?

    6-0 would be marvellous and would have Mr Baggie-Jowels blubbering on the line, if not stuck in the net 😏

  7. 7
    North Bank Ned says:

    Good going, bt8. You do your homework.

    Thanks for the shout-out. Always an honour to be mentioned in the same para as C100.

    I suspect you are pretty much on the money about the team selection. Allardyce will probably field a 4-3-2-1 and we’ll be facing 10 men behind the ball for most of the game. Every one will have to work their socks off to pull the WBA defence out of shape and open up the pockets of space to weave the ball though those massed ranks.

    I think Charlie Austin may start for them, or at least get a decent run-out off the bench. He always seems to get goals against us. He has scored in five of the six games he’s played against us.

    Tierney is always in a short-sleeve shirt and shorts in training, even when the others have donned tights, training tops, snoods, gloves, hats, overcoats and those Japanese electrically heated socks. He’d wear short sleeves on a trek to the South Pole. The man is like Irn-Bru; made from girders.

  8. 8
    Osakamatt says:

    A mention in dispatches!
    Thanks bt8.
    A fine preview to boot.
    Odobenine did for my spillchucker,
    a useful addition to my vocabulary
    😃👏 thanks Bath.
    The walrus is in fact the last of the
    odobenidae with most having gone
    extinct eons ago – get the hint Fat
    Sam? Probably not, imo he is dim as
    well as a cheaty, criminal clogger.
    Hopefully, 4-0 with no injuries.
    And relegation for WBA, they’ve
    employed Pukis and Fat Sam, for
    that they should get all that they

  9. 9
    Esso says:

    Cheers Bt8!

  10. 10
    Osakamatt says:

    Bamford really is wasteful and
    now spuds are winning.

  11. 11
    North Bank Ned says:

    Trev@6: 🙂

    OM@8: Further portents? Walruses have the lowest reproductive rate of any pinniped regardless of having the largest baculum of any land mammal.

    No sign of Leno in any of the training pix released by the club. Cause for concern?

  12. 12
    North Bank Ned says:

    If Leno is out for any reason, I hope Matt Macey gets the call. His height will be useful against WBA’s free-kicks and corners.

  13. 13
    Steve T says:

    I hate Fat Sam. I can remember a gene many years ago when he brought Bolton to Highbury. He was so fucking negative that Jaaskelainen was booked for time wasting in the first half. He was that boring.

    Nice preview BT8. Another 3 points and I will be very happy. It would be great to wipe the smile of those fat chops.

    3-0 to the good guys.

  14. 14
    North Bank Ned says:

    Coutinho is out for three months with a knee injury. Does that mean we have already signed him…?

  15. 15
    Esso says:


  16. 16
    Countryman100 says:

    Snowing and 1C in West Bromwich tonight.

    Kieran Tierney will be changing from his civvie T-shirt to his short sleeved training kit, to his short sleeved game shirt.

  17. 17
    Esso says:

    Its grim up north!

  18. 18
    TTG says:

    You could be there instead of in front of the telly with a mellow malt whisky 🥃 And don’t forget the altitude either ! Brass Monkeys 🐒
    I don’t know of any problem with Leno but these could be conditions for Runarsson ! Actually no conditions are conditions for Runarsson!

  19. 19
    Esso says:

    Heh @ TTG. Think it was sad the lad had to delete his twitter account though. I mean I was on here slagging him for that mistake but would never @ him on twitter about it.

  20. 20
    Esso says:

    Brighton equalize!

  21. 21
    Esso says:

    Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Mari, Tierney, Xhaka, Ceballos, Saka, Smith Rowe, Aubameyang, Lacazette

    Sub: Runarsson, Luiz, Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Willock, Willian, Pepe, Martinelli, Nketiah

  22. 22
    Esso says:

    I like that team.

  23. 23
    scruzgooner says:

    so long as luiz and willian get to stay warm and cozy in their puffies and heated seats.

  24. 24
    Esso says:


    Bellerin, Holding, Pablo Marí, Tierney

    Ceballos, Xhaka

    Smith Rowe

    Saka, Lacazette, Aubameyang

    Pretty well as predicted!

  25. 25
    scruzgooner says:

    gibbs on their bench, with kyle bartley.

  26. 26
    Bathgooner says:

    The conditions at the Hawthorns look terrible. That’ll make life more dofficult for us as the odobenine monster’s thugs go sliding in. We need to look after our limbs here.

  27. 27
    Bathgooner says:

    Spot on with the team, bt8!

  28. 28
    Countryman100 says:

    TTG. The malt came before dinner, a shin of beef casserole. Currently on my second glass of Saints Coulomb cru bourgeois. Of course I’d much rather be in the Black Country, being snowed on, with a two hour drive through driving snow after the game. Gutted.

    Come on you Gunners. Like the team, bit concerned about number of games Saka is having. Very glad to see no Willian, fully agree with a rest for Gabi.

  29. 29
    scruzgooner says:

    of course, that also means they are subject to a red card or two, baff. i do hope everyone comes out unscathed, though.

  30. 30
    Esso says:

    We are fucking doing this.

  31. 31
    ksn says:

    A fine report on what to expect from the match against West Brom under fat Sam, Bt8. It is snowing and the conditions favour the baggies. Expect our players to be kicked around and I hope we could negate that by taking an early lead. A 0-1 or 1-2 victory for the good guys is what I expect.

  32. 32
    ksn says:

    Martin Atkinson is just the ref fat Sam would want for this match and he has got his wish.
    West Brom are very defensive but they have pace up front which should concern us.

  33. 33
    bt8 says:

    Sawyers escaped a deserved yellow for that assault on Smith Rowe

  34. 34
    scruzgooner says:

    saka lively so far.

  35. 35
    scruzgooner says:

    saka en fuego. auba just needed the slightest touch on that cross.

  36. 36
    Countryman100 says:

    Auba so close. Great ball from Dani, great cross from Saka

  37. 37
    ksn says:

    So close from Saka/Auba. Saka’s shot/cross just eluded Auba by inches.

  38. 38
    scruzgooner says:

    how are those not fouls on laca and xhaka?

  39. 39
    ksn says:

    Atkinson being the c**t he is known to be by denying two bad fouls which would have given us free kicks in dangerous areas.

  40. 40
    ksn says:

    Great goal by Tierney!!!!

  41. 41
    Bathgooner says:


  42. 42
    scruzgooner says:


  43. 43
    bt8 says:

    World class

  44. 44
    Countryman100 says:

    Fucking Nora! What a hit from Kieran!

  45. 45
    ksn says:

    Sensational, fantastic goal. Great, great work leading to the goal and a brilliant shot. The best solo goal for Arsenal this season.

  46. 46
    scruzgooner says:

    scottish boy loving the snow.

  47. 47
    Steve T says:

    Brilliant by KT3. Top class.

  48. 48
    ksn says:


  49. 49
    Countryman100 says:

    That is pure Wenger ball.

  50. 50
    scruzgooner says:

    ya!!! what a goal!

  51. 51
    gedo says:

    Champagne football!!!

  52. 52
    Countryman100 says:

    Willian would never have made that run. Laca, ESR and Saka are running riot.

  53. 53
    ksn says:

    This one is a team goal, brilliantly executed. ESR provides a cool pass after some great work by Laca and Saka has a tap in.

  54. 54
    scruzgooner says:

    sexy as rick rudka wants it to be. the flick first then the assist by esr…man, what a gem.

  55. 55
    bt8 says:

    Two goals of the season.

    Let’s keep it going.

  56. 56
    ksn says:

    Hope the weather doesn’t spoil this.

  57. 57
    scruzgooner says:

    let’s get a third before halftime (an own goal like nearly there would be fine).

  58. 58
    Cynic says:

    Not enjoyed a game this much in a long time.

    Wish it would stop snowing though.

  59. 59
    scruzgooner says:

    chambo close from the corner…

  60. 60
    ecg says:

    Amazing what happens when you run into open spaces…

  61. 61
    ecg says:

    If it stops snowing KT3 might lose his magical powers.

  62. 62
    scruzgooner says:

    snow is gumming things up.

  63. 63
    Countryman100 says:

    Let’s not give them any restarts eh lads?

  64. 64
    ksn says:

    Need to concentrate, can’t afford to take eyes off the ball as Holding did by miskicking the ball for a corner when there was no West Brom player nearby. Thankfully nothing came off the corner.

  65. 65
    gedo says:

    Wrong conditions to be cute in your own third, just boot it Holding ffs!!!!’

  66. 66
    scruzgooner says:

    fuck martin atkinson.

  67. 67
    Pangloss says:

    How’s old facies odobenae taking it?

  68. 68
    ksn says:

    Bellerin needs to be careful. He is already on a yellow.

  69. 69
    scruzgooner says:

    pang, that does beg a question. 😳

  70. 70
    ksn says:

    Great first half for us with two great goals. More of the same in the second half please.

  71. 71
    Cent says:

    ESR new, long-term contract before we start the 2nd half. Please.

  72. 72
    Cynic says:

    fuck martin atkinson.

    If it stops him calling it off, I’m willing to take one for the team.

  73. 73
    bt8 says:

    Beautiful Christmas card of a first half, and a great advert for Winter weather.

  74. 74
    Steve T says:

    Great first half.

    Watching ESR play it does make you wonder why he’s not featured before this little run?

    More of the same please chaps.

  75. 75
    scruzgooner says:

    cynic, you would have endless drinks on the bar for your sacrifice.

  76. 76
    Esso says:

    Great first half! Tierney is a fucking boy!

  77. 77
    Bathgooner says:

    ESR is growing into this team. What a player that boy could be. That was an orgasmic goal created by ESR and Laca for Saka.

    The conditions are deteriorating. I can imagine that Sam is in the ref’s ear for an abandonment.

    These conditions are a huge leveller. Our slick passing and interplay along the ground leaves us vulnerable to the ball sticking in the snow and not reaching its target. Before the snow got heavier I was hoping we would try for bt8’s optimitic target and at least convert our GD into the positive. However I’d settle for getting out of town with this scoreline now. See the game out boys.

  78. 78
    Bathgooner says:

    Bhouy actually, Esso. In the vernacular.

  79. 79
    scruzgooner says:

    it’s all on cynic now, baff.

  80. 80
    ksn says:

    They got a goal which was rightly chalked off for off side. Need to be vigilant as they have come into the second half with attack on their mind.

  81. 81
    scruzgooner says:

    oooh, damn. we have to be careful.

  82. 82
    Countryman100 says:

    If ever conditions suited an Allardyce team it’s these.

  83. 83
    scruzgooner says:

    amn for hector, good sub.

  84. 84
    ksn says:

    Tierney takes a big fall after a reckless leap for a header by a Baggie.

  85. 85
    scruzgooner says:

    oooh, laca…well done.

  86. 86
    ksn says:

    Laca, finally!!!!

  87. 87
    scruzgooner says:


  88. 88
    gedo says:


  89. 89
    ksn says:

    What a couple of great talents ESR and Saka are. Really good.

  90. 90
    scruzgooner says:

    breathing easier. cynic, to your post.

  91. 91
    DESNJ says:

    Lacca is having a really good game all round. Goal for Auba would really help too.

  92. 92
    Countryman100 says:

    Cutting edge clinical football again. We really do look good.

  93. 93
    ksn says:

    Laca gets another. 0-4. Torn Sam’s team apart.

  94. 94
    gedo says:

    Laca x 2!!!

  95. 95
    ksn says:

    Bartley on for West Brom in place of Ivanovich.

  96. 96
    Countryman100 says:

    Who’s enjoying themselves? I am!

  97. 97
    scruzgooner says:

    wow. excellent. well in laca. hat-trick hero?

  98. 98
    scruzgooner says:

    hell yes, c100!

  99. 99
    ecg says:


  100. 100
    scruzgooner says:


  101. 101
    scruzgooner says:

    noooooo. not willian!

  102. 102
    ksn says:

    Deliberate kick by a baggie on Saka from behind. Willian is on for Saka.

  103. 103
    scruzgooner says:

    👏👏👏👏 saka.

  104. 104
    ksn says:

    Auba misses an open goal, almost.

  105. 105
    scruzgooner says:

    close auba again. he has to be frustrated.

  106. 106
    ksn says:

    Willock on for ESR.

  107. 107
    Countryman100 says:

    Beating that lot down the road apart, there is no greater pleasure than battering fat Sam or Tony Pulis.

  108. 108
    DESNJ says:

    Sammy Lee ! Talk about a name from the past.
    “He’s fat, he’s round and he bounces on the ground”

  109. 109
    ksn says:

    Laca was pulled back but Atkinson doesn’t book him.

  110. 110
    scruzgooner says:

    👏👏👏👏 esr!

  111. 111
    scruzgooner says:

    auba can’t buy one right now.

  112. 112
    ksn says:

    Was almost 0-5.

  113. 113
    scruzgooner says:

    so glad we haven’t given austin a sniff…

  114. 114
    ksn says:

    Atkinson has to book an Arsenal player even though it looked a yellow, to be fair.
    Auba doesn’t put in too much effort. Gives up easily.

  115. 115
    scruzgooner says:

    nice run and snapshot willian

  116. 116
    Steve T says:

    But, can they do it in the snow t’up north on a cold January night???

    How do you like them onions Fat Sammy Boy??

  117. 117
    Countryman100 says:

    Well thank you very much WBA. We’re glad we came. Quick Balti in Birmingham and a couple of Cobras then back to London. See you at the Emirates Sam.

  118. 118
    ksn says:

    Good save by Leno. Last corner to face.
    0-4. Three points and a clean sheet.
    11th in the table. Slowly moving up.

  119. 119
    Countryman100 says:

    Well in on the ton Scruz!

  120. 120
    Esso says:

    Deep Joy!

  121. 121
    scruzgooner says:

    content and pleased. great game, lads.

  122. 122
    scruzgooner says:

    thanks, c100!

  123. 123
    Countryman100 says:

    Three points behind Chelsea and Man City. Six points behind Spurs in third. Next up, Crystal Palace and Newcastle in the league.

    Funny old game.

  124. 124
    Osakamatt says:

    another game, another 3 points,
    ho hum 😉
    happy new year to us

  125. 125
    Pangloss says:

    I think we all owe Sam Allardyce an enormous apology. I’m happy to admit my error and to beg his pardon, and I hope most of my fellow drinkers will do the same.

    My essential error, and I think it’s one that you have all shared, is to miss the subtlety of his tactics. I’d thought – and don’t try to deny it, you did too – that it was simply a matter of sending your team out with the words “Kick lumps out of ’em boys. Try not to be too obvious about it, and if the ref spots you, try not to do it again for a minute or two while he still remembers your face. Remember you’re a team, so if your mate’s just clumped one of those soft southern shites, do your bit to help him out by clumping another one.”

    But we were wrong, the tactics are more complex than we realised and a team can’t be expected to carry them out properly after only a couple of weeks under Sam’s tutelage.

    Sorry Sam. I misjudged you.


  126. 126
    Countryman100 says:

    See the last match report vs Brighton. The mug is now three for three.

  127. 127
    scruzgooner says:

    just keep it whole, c100, keep it whole.

  128. 128
    bt8 says:

    Well in at the century Scruz, as well as the Tabs memorial century plus one. Was Willian playing in his Jimmy Choos all this time? Must watch closer.

  129. 129
    scruzgooner says:

    coulda been yellow there, bt8…

  130. 130
    SlaSh says:

    Love ESR as our #10 and with Gabi, Partey to come back and Martinelli pushing Auba for the LW spot suddenly we look healthier all around. Also a shout out to Pablo Mari, has a very cool head and seems a bargain.

    That game was definitely worth staying awake till 3:30 am, best football we played this season. Should build good momentum in 2021 with the home games against bottom half opponents in the next 2 games.


  131. 131
    TTG says:

    A few weeks ago we were very upset after losing to Citeh but identified the nucleus of a good team . Leno, Holding, Gabriel , Tierney , Partey , ESR, Saka, Martinelli, Auba, Lacazette . Add a midfielder and we have got a much better future than looked to bevtge case a couple of weeks ago.
    A couple of points. We are much more fluid playing 4-2-3-1 and I think Ceballos is a decent midfielder . He helped our mobility tonight

  132. 132
    Esso says:

    Waiting on a curry delivery

  133. 133
    Pangloss says:

    3:30am, SlaSh? Where’re you from? Nice mug of horlicks on the bar for you sir.

  134. 134
    Esso says:


  135. 135
    Countryman100 says:

    SlaSh have a small Grand Marnier night cap to go with your Horlicks. Sunday tomorrow, you can sleep in. Actually fuck it, make it a large one. On Lars.

  136. 136
    Countryman100 says:

    Enjoy your Ruby Esso!

  137. 137
    TTG says:

    Allardyce has now lost to Arsenal with eight different clubs

  138. 138
    Esso says:

    We are Red
    We ate White
    We are fucking dynamite

  139. 139
    Bathgooner says:

    TTG @137, it couldn’t happen to a less congenial walrus.

  140. 140
    Esso says:

    Really do think Tierney is something else.

  141. 141
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@131: No right back in your core team, I note.

    SlaSh: Welcome. A very late-nightcap on the bar for you.

  142. 142
    SlaSh says:

    Thanks for the welcome guys, long time lurker from India here.

    Dont mind taking a sip to the most number of shots on target since Arsene left, Leno’s 5th away clean sheet this season (league best), ESR creating a chance every 34 minutes and finally a positive goal difference.

    Meanwhile here is Swashbuckling Saka’s efforts today:

  143. 143
    Donegal Arsenal says:

    R.I.P. David Faber

  144. 144
    Cynic says:

    Have to admit I was bewildered by the belief in ESR but was completely wrong, albeit on the evidence of three games. So far so good.

    Tierney reminded me a lot of Nigel Winterburn today, which might sound like bollocks but i know what I mean 🙂

  145. 145
    Osakamatt says:

    Modesty should forbid but….
    I nailed the score again, twice
    in three games that, the dogs
    bollocks or what.

  146. 146
    Cent says:

    What a performance from the boys.
    Welcome, SlaSh.

    Cynic @143, I may have been a bit more hopeful of ESR’s contributions than you but I must confess I didn’t expect him to make such a huge difference on such short notice. My more rational mind thinks he’s doing so well because, like I have always maintained, our other players are not as bad as they’ve looked before now. Our earlier tactics held them back and didn’t play to their strengths. On the other hand, my Hale End tinted glasses show me he’s a generational talent who just makes everyone around him better.

    Esso @140, mate I can confirm Tierney is something else. Apart from being an excellent left back, he’s also a decent, level headed lad who doesn’t care for the flashy celebrity lifestyle. When asked what he liked about London in an interview before the lockkdown, he paused, thought about it for some seconds, then replied, “I don’t really know, I don’t really go to see the city, I’m just here to play for Arsenal.”.

  147. 147
  148. 148
    TTG says:

    Firstly Welcome Slash. Great to hear from you .
    We’ve had many great left- backs – McNab, Nelson , Sansom , Winterburn, Cole and Sylvinho and Clichy were ok. I think Tierney is right up there with any of them. He is as whole- hearted as Winterburn so I see where you are coming from. But he has a better right – foot !
    I don’t rate Bellerin. It is one position I would upgrade – possibly with AMN .
    Re ESR
    I went to the Youth Cup semi a couple of years ago. Midway through the first half he beat seven men and was brought down for a penalty . My mate who was with me said it was like watching an adult play with kids . His big issue is staying fit . He is very fragile but I’d give him the number 10 role and get another box to box midfielder

  149. 149
    Osakamatt says:

    I’d add Nacho to that list TTG
    but I’m just being picky as the
    point about KT is spot on.
    Like to see ESR get a good half-
    season in now and that will be
    our AM problem solved.
    Goodbye WBA, they are woeful.

  150. 150
    bt8 says:

    Slash. It’s good to see you here, don’t be a stranger. Drinks on Lars’ tab of course. 🙂

  151. 151
    Osakamatt says:

    KT the first Scot to score away from
    home in the league since 1986.
    A useless stat for the 150

  152. 152
    bt8 says:

    Thank you youngsters for showing us once again why it is so good to be young.

  153. 153
    Bathgooner says:

    Welcome SlaSh and thanks for the Saka clip. That boy is just extraordinary, as indeed are ESR and Martinelli. I am rather surprised that Balogun, who also looks a great talent, doesn’t want to stick around and play alongside them.

  154. 154
    Bathgooner says:

    And, I must say:

  155. 155
    Cynic says:

    I think we have a real problem on our hands with Willian because we now have two players who are well behind the required standard for the wide positions and we might be stuck with them.

    Pepe has had his chance and isn’t up to it, so we should be looking for a buyer. We will have to take a hit, because he was never worth half what we paid. Luckily for us he should be young enough to put career ahead of personal wealth and willing to take whatever pay cut is necessary for him to get a move.

    Willian is different and we’re stuck with him because living in London, especially on a big wage, is more important to him at this stage of his life than his football. Ozil MKII

  156. 156
    'desi'gner gooner says:

    First of all, welcome SlaSh – great to see another drinker from India in the bar. That also reminds me of another fellow Indian Vinay Prabhakar who used to post regularly. He hasn’t posted in a while and I hope he is doing fine.

    Saka, KT are receiving fullsome praise and deservedly so. Both have been really good since the beginning of what has been a difficult season for us. Saka is an exceptional talent and he has suddenly burst into another gear since shifting to the right wing. The thing that I marvel at with Saka is that he has that rare ability to speed up or slow down the game but even more importantly the awareness of when to do it. I have only seen that kind of awareness in experienced players – youngsters of Saka’s age invariably come across as over eager and slightly rushed.

    ESR has come in to the advanced midfield role and has seemingly unshackled us all of a sudden. The shift to a 4-2-3-1 has also been instrumental because the supposedly fluid 3-4-3 had completely robbed us of fluidity in attacks. The one touch zippy passing last night was so refreshing to watch. The players were owning their positions and bossing the game.

    A word as well on the defensive partnership of Mari & Holding. They work well as a partnership and Mari has been really impressive with his close control, positioning and even aerial duels. At the cost of sticking my neck out especially based on a small sample of games, Mari seems like a calmer & more stable defender than Gabriel. Gabriel tries to be over aggressive at times and gives away needless free kicks. Against a Big Sam team, it was important yesterday to not give away unnecessary free kicks and invite pressure. I would like to see Arteta continue with Mari- Holding instead of having Gabriel slotting in as soon as he is back in the squad.

    The only grouse I had from yesterday’s game was seeing Willian coming on as sub and not Pepe. Pepe had a good run of games towards the end of last season and it seemed as if he would continue in the same vein at the beginning of this season. Willian signed in the summer and walked into the side straight away. Despite poor performances he kept getting picked. Pepe clearly has a talent ceiling higher than Willian and we should be giving him game time than the older Willian. Pepe would also benefit from having a player like ESR in advanced midfield with whom he can combine. Far too often during his time at Arsenal, Pepe has been played in an isolated advanced role. His good performances have come when Hector has advanced in central areas and combined with him or the the solitary game against Sheffield when Willian shifted to the 10 role and combined well with Pepe who eventually scored the winner.

  157. 157
  158. 158
    TTG says:

    BBC need new researchers .
    Just from memory I recall Paul Dickov and Scott Marshall scoring since Charlie so he wasn5 our last Scot to score before KT3

  159. 159
    'desi'gner gooner says:

    C100@156, that article was a very good read – thanks for the link. I agree with everything he writes except for the trepidation of a new signing limiting minutes of ESR. This is exactly the mindset Arsenal need to get rid of. If you want to challenge for top honours in modern football, you will need two almost equally good players for each position. With the number of games that are played across the season especially with good cup runs, there is enough room for rotation which would keep everyone reasonably happy. Ideally the squad should have first teamers of prime age 25-29 years old and their alternatives mostly youngsters/academy players who are in the 19-23 age group. That would ensure smooth squad progression and good sell on value for those youngsters who get disgruntled with few first team opportunities and want to try pastures supposedly greener.

  160. 160
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@147: Hector does not appear to be the player he was before his injury, although he is not our first priority for an upgrade.

    All the praise being heaped on KT, ESR and Saka is fully justified by their performances against West Brom.

    I can see what it is in KT that reminds Cynic of Winterburn. Neither were silky movers, but always pumping at full steam.

    Good shout out for Mari by ‘desi’gner gooner. He has slotted in seamlessly as the left CB.

    btw, The BBC stat is for away league goals only, TTG.

  161. 161
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@156: Thanks for the link. Nothing to disagree with in what it says.

    By luck or judgement, Arteta has found the right formation. Saka has solved the problem we had on the right, so we have attacking balance. (is there any position he cannot play? If he had to go in goal he’d probably turn out to be as good as Leno.) ESR has provided the creative spark. Laca has refound his touch in front of goal. Even Xhaka has stepped up, and stepped up forward, not sideways or back.

  162. 162
    TTG says:

    You can always tell when the team is doing well because the debate is much more constructive. Three excellent posts ( four if you count both of Desi’s! ) and I find little to disagree with in any of them. Mike McDonald has remarkable knowledge on potentially suitable signings , particularly given he lives in America and is geographically so disparate from Europe . I read the editorials but not the comments in Le Grove and when Mike writes he comes up with interesting ideas on new recruits .
    I accept Desi’s point that we need a strong squad but we have Azeez, Patino , Cottrell and Cirjan bubbling under and as ESR and Saka have shown us we need to show we will promote great young players . This is why Dortmund create such a conveyor belt of talent because if you have the ability you play. Despite Chelsea’s success it is a story of great young players going to waste , by and large.
    I also agree with Cynic that Willian was an awful signing and one with catastrophic ramifications financially. Another unloadable player whose value and quality will decrease but who has no incentive to move on. I’d like to see us move on Pepe if we can get a decent price for him , especially if Nelson continues to develop .
    In this window we need a box to box midfielder to replace Xhaka and a deputy goalkeeper ( very important we cannot come out of this window with Runarsson as Leno’s deputy.)
    I don’t think we need a centre back given that we have Holding, Mari, Gabriel , Chambers and Luiz.
    Cup team next week might be
    Leno , Cedric , Luiz, , Gabriel, AMN
    Ceballos , Partey
    Pepe ESR Martinelli

  163. 163
    Countryman100 says:

    TTG I agree about the centre backs. Interesting that you don’t mention Saliba. An omission or do not think he has a future with us?

  164. 164
    bathgooner says:

    C100 @156, an excellent analysis, as usual, from Mike McDonald. I don’t know the players he recommends but his logic about the qualities required is faultless,

  165. 165
    'desi'gner gooner says:

    TTG@161 thanks. I agree about the young crop coming up and also Dortmund’s model being the one to emulate. Also second your agreement to Cynic’s original point about Willian. Don’t want to write Willian off too soon but the signs are of a player in sharp decline and content with mediocre performances at this stage of his career. Even if we want to move Pepe on in the summer, it would only make sense to play him more and not make it apparent to the whole wide world that he is completely unwanted here and thereby driving his price down. I personally feel Pepe can still prove to be a decent signing (not the price we bought him for but in terms of contribution) but with the way Saka and Martinelli are developing – it is difficult to envisage him being first choice in any of the wide positions. Arteta seems to dislike players who have an individualistic (and as a result unpredictable and chaotic) style and Pepe comes across as the player Arteta is most exasperated with in the squad.

  166. 166
    Pangloss says: