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A Half of Two Games?

Embed from Getty Images

George Graham celebrates after scoring as Charlie George rushes in with his congratulations, 1972

After Saturday’s FA Cup loss to Southampton we, as Arsenal supporters, can be forgiven a moment’s dismay at our inability to stick at least one by the Saints in the cause of holding on to the cup. And given we play the same team in the same place on Tuesday, I suggest we keep that dismay to just this moment, and if the squad is feeling it to do the same. Our rotated squad was not quite good enough to beat their nearly full-strength squad, though Southampton’s lone goal wasn’t anything but a fluke. In the league I expect our best 11 to be out there, largely rested, dismay set aside, hungry to put the Saints to the sword. Southampton are without two players who started on Saturday, losing Walker-Peters and Bertrand to injuries (supposedly), in addition to seven others who were already in sickbay.

In addition to it, essentially, being half-time at St. Mary’s, Arsenal have finally rung the bell on a major change, with Mesut Özil leaving the team permanently to Fenerbahce in the Süper Lig. He leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of many, yet we should wish him well and give him thanks for the good things he brought to the team. Had he continued his pace from the first 3 1/2 years at the club (3 FA Cup victories, most assists and chances created in the League) we could have considered it value for money…as it is, his failure to perform prevented him from even seeing the pitch for most of the last year. So, thanks, Mesut, but…you were in no way value for money in the second half of your tenure at Arsenal. Best of luck with your future on the pitch.

Where does this leave us ahead of tomorrow’s match? We saw how Southampton’s pressing played the Xhakneny (© GSD) axis out of the game, forcing us to play around or only ponderously through the midfield. Likewise the lack of inventiveness from Willian and Pépé up front left our forwards without service, without hope, and without goals. We saw how the substitutions of Partey, Saka, and Lacazette gave us hope in the final 45 minutes Saturday, though it came to nought. Our injuries are limited to Marí and Ceballos, the latter expected to be a matchday decision Tuesday. The biggest question is, will we have Aubameyang available for selection? He left the club due to “personal reasons” prior to kickoff on Saturday, and it is unknown at this moment if he will play. The longer we don’t hear the more we have to hope Auba and his family are ok; we know they have the full support of the club, whatever the situation.

What will the lineup for Arsenal look like tomorrow? With Willian, Pepe, and Nketiah having shown their quality on Saturday, I expect at most they will rest on the bench, if not miss the squad altogether. Tierney is clearly recovered, having time to play naked in the snow for the cameras (not really, he was celebrating “auld Robbie” wearing shorts and a practice shirt, though I daresay he’d’ve worn flip-flops if he could have gotten away with it). The biggest questions are in defense and just forward. Who pairs with Partey, Xhaka or Elneny? Do we play Bellerin or Cedric? A single question hovers over the front four, that of Auba’s availability. In his absence I think Lacazette will get the start, flanked by Saka and Martinelli, with Smith Rowe hopefully performing magic in the hole. Thus do I expect to see:

Bellerin – Holding – Gabriel – Tierney
Elneny – Partey
Saka – Smith Rowe – Martinelli

Bench: Ryan, Luiz, Cedric, Xhaka, Willock, Pépé, Nketiah

The Holic Pound

In Arsenal’s case it does seem, at least through the latest fine run of form that ended Saturday, a better offense in front of a good defense leads to success. The workrate of Smith Rowe, Martinelli, and Saka ahead of the calmness of Partey and the endless energy of Elneny mean our defense shouldn’t see some of the shots against it that could have spelled our doom ahead of their lone goal. I think we could end this “second half” of the two games with a 2-0 win, courtesy of Laca and Martinelli. That’s available at 12s, and if you think we’ll let in a goal but keep the same difference that’s available at 19s.

Wherever you are, however you watch, enjoy the game. COYG!

126 Drinks to “A Half of Two Games?”

  1. 1
    Goonersince54 says:

    Short and sweet pre match summary Scruz
    Line up probably about right except Arteta won’t play 2 right footed midfielders.
    So Partey on the right and Xhaka on the left.
    Hopefully Gabriel and Martinelli have blown out the cobwebs from competitive inaction in the Cup game at the weekend, and are more up to speed.
    Saints have 10 in the sick bay, so i will be mightily disappointed if we don’t knock them over.
    Happy 70th TTG,
    It has been an absolute pleasure corresponding with you over the years, and long may it continue.
    I hope both of us will still be around to celebrate your 80th.

  2. 2
    bathgooner says:

    A fine preview, scruz. I agree with every word except your selection of Elneny. He was simply atrocious on Saturday. Given the choices (I don’t think Willock has seized his chances and AMN clearly hasn’t convinced MA8 as a central midfielder), I would play Xhaka alongside TP18 from the start and have Elneny on the bench.

    I think Elneny made the often execrable Xhaka look almost competent in comparison on Saturday. I agree that his scurrying about shows both enthusiasm and energy but it is so rarely productive that he adds too little to the team. Xhaka is much less energetic but is currently in his best run of form (I now. It’s a low bar) since joining the club. We have seen too little of TP18 to know with whom among our otherwise mediocre midfield options he links best so MA8 may choose your line-up on the basis of the Manure game. If so, I hope Mo makes me eat my words with a performance as good as that day.

    I just hope the team bury the memory of Saturday.

    I’ll take any kind of win. A goal or two for Martinelli would be a bonus.

  3. 3
    Trev says:

    Thanks, scruz !

    I agree with the fellas above – Pertey to partner Xhaka in midfield. Elneny looked quite good initially when he returned to the team, but that was in comparison to Xhaka at his worst. The latter has been much better defensively in the last two or theee games and even looks forwards more often lately too.

    I’d agree with the rest of your team, with the possible selection of Cedric over Bellerin. You’re probably right but Cedric has looked a much improved player lately, although that in itself seemed to have sharpened Hector up a bit on Saturday.

    It’s unlikely Aubameyang will take any part as he was today reportedly still involved with his family issues.

    Hopefully we will more than reverse an extremely disappointing performance and score line from Saturday.

  4. 4
    TTG says:

    That’s a very good and also a very sensible preview . These games should be quite different and although I suspect we will be without Auba we have to hope away from home where we tend to find more space we will produce a much better performance tgan Saturday . I think your team speculation is spot on. I think Xhaka is Arteta’s default selection in a two man midfield beside Partey but it will be interesting if the conservative Arteta feels we can combine ESR and Odegaard in any fixtures after the Norwegian is confirmed .
    I covered some old games with Southampton for the Gooner’s next edition but not that one pictured . We had done relatively well recently at St. Mary’s until Saturday and I think we can win tomorrow 2-1 .
    Clive ,
    The feeling is mutual, many thanks for your good wishes

  5. 5
    Osakamatt says:

    A good preview of a game that
    we really need to win from a
    ‘mood’ point of view – the clubs
    of course but also my own😄

  6. 6
    Osakamatt says:

    I think Luiz may start in front of
    Gabriel and agree that Xhaka will
    start too.
    With no Auba I’ll take 1-0 to
    The Arsenal……

  7. 7
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Excellent preview scruz! I think we will see much more of the unique effectiveness of Gabigoal in this match with Laca, ESR and Saka to all distract and worry the defenders much more than what we did on Saturday.

  8. 8
    bt8 says:

    Cheers, Scruz. Excellent preview and I certainly agree with your assessment of the Ozil situation. What a weight off. Your team sounds about right but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Arteta fit Xhaka somehow into the starting eleven. COYG

  9. 9
    Esso says:

    Cheers Scruz!

  10. 10
    Osakamatt says:

    seems Sokratis has signed for
    Olympiacos – good luck to him
    And Mus in talks to finish his
    contract early it seems.
    I suppose no one can accuse us
    of not moving players on in this
    Did we buy Sokratis, Leno and
    Torreira in the same window?

  11. 11
    scruzgooner says:

    thanks, all.

    turns out kt3 is probably not available (calf), and auba is definitely out. if so, AMN in for kt3, cedric stays on the bench. that’s what i’d do, though i expect ma8 to play cedric with amn on the bench.

    as for mo vs granit i am staking it on the manure game, clive, as Bath says. but neither one fills me with the frisson of joy i’d feel had we a complement to thomas to bring to the partey.

    ttg, again, many happy returns! a bottle of glenfarclas 105 on the bar for ya, i hid one from the wee sleekit beasties herein.

  12. 12
    Uplympian says:

    Thanks Scuz for an informative preview all the way from the Golden State.
    Bad news if KT3 is unavailable – we will need our very best X1 out to get a result this evening. With many of our first team rested last Saturday and, I hope, a deep desire to respond positively to that defeat, we should be 100% up for this one. Anything less is inexcusable – a hard fought win to the good guys is a must?

  13. 13
    bathgooner says:

    Mustafi’s father and agent deny that any discussions on contract termination have taken place and will be leaving the club in the summer at the latest.

  14. 14
    Osakamatt says:

    just a dream then, though as
    no one will give us any money
    for our players it’s all a bit by
    the by really

  15. 15
    BtM says:

    Good summary, Scruz.

    If KT is banjaxed, Saka is an alternative to the two right footed options as a replacement. He would increase the attacking potency on the LHS with little defensive debit. That option would weaken the attacking threat on the right as Pepe would likely be first choice replacement for Saka there.

    What has happened to Nelson? Naughty step or injury?

  16. 16
    Trev says:

    So we signed Mustafi from Valencia in 2016 for £35 million. To be absolutely clear, that is £35,000,000 of our great British pounds.

    There are reports that Mustafi and the club are in talks – denied by his father, as Bath said – to end his contract early, as there is interest from “across Europe” but no-one wants to pay any actual money for him. At all !

    I tend to believe there is some truth to the contract rumours.
    Firstly, because it would suit both Arsenal, to get him off the wage bill, and the player who presumably would like to play a bit of football before he hangs his boots up.
    Second, Arteta put TWO goalkeepers on the bench on Saturday, rather than risk our ‘accident-waiting-to-happen’ entering the field of play.
    That is either a horrendous indictment of Mustafi’s ability, or the manager was protecting him from injury so we can finally get him out the door.

    Whichever, we are going to get £0.00 for yet another expensive player leaving the club. No wonder the owner – no, I am not a fan ! – hasn’t wanted to sink his own money into what has been a shambles of a club.

    Hopefully, but I’m not holding my breath, he might view things differently once our forest of deadwood has been cleared out. Willian next, please !

  17. 17
    Osakamatt says:

    we could play ESR on the right
    and switch to 3 CBs again with
    Saka/Martinelli on the left and
    Hector or Cedric with ESR on
    the right. Just a thought as
    I’ve seen ESR play wide before

  18. 18
    Trev says:

    Hi BtM ! Good point and good question 👍🏻

  19. 19
    bt8 says:

    Just saw this article published four days ago saying that in the United States the NBCSN network will shut down at the end of this year and it’s Premier League content will transfer to the USA Network. Seeing as I have had access to NBCSN but not necessarily USA Network I am taking this as worrying news. Must investigate more. Dr. Faustus (who told us the details when NBCSN first got the rights) do you, or anybody, know more?


  20. 20
    Doctor Faustus says:

    bt8: I will follow it up later but I am assuming you already have the “Peacock” NBC streaming platform as otherwise you wouldn’t have been able to watch all the Arsenal matches. We will see if all PL matches then move to Peacock — as ESPN+ has done with FA cup — and nothing in cable. If the NBC Sports is going away it might just be those channels will directly roll over to USA and be called the same but the cable provider won’t necessarily make you buy any new package.

  21. 21
    bathgooner says:

    Trev @16. The Arsenal have been unbelievably fiscally incontinent over recent years. It’s no wonder that Stan isn’t inclined to throw any of his own cash into the club.

    Keenos summed up our sales activity up nicely in his recent She Wore post though doesn’t include the money wasted on Mustafi who hasn’t left for free yet (or Sokratis, who has):

    “£15million plus Mkhitaryan for Ozil, Sanchez, Ramsey, Welbeck, Wilshire, Szczesny, Gnabry and Mkhitaryan. Ugly.”

  22. 22
    North Bank Ned says:

    Good going, Scruz. Short, sweet and to the point. And a well-balanced assessment of Ozil’s time with the club. I see that Fernabache is crowd-funding some of his salary. I wonder why we didn’t try that. 🙂

    I agree with those who say Partey and Xhaka will be the double pivot. Though the Cup game wasn’t Xhaka’s finest, he looked measurably better once Partey came on.

    If KT3 is crocked, I hope Arteta has learned the shortcomings of playing Cedric on the left. AMN or Saka, please, although preferably AMN as Saka playing left-back would probably mean Willian or Pepe starting as right-wing.

    I doubt Auba will play. I have no idea what his personal issue is, but I doubt that is a bereavement. There would be no reason for the mystery if that were the case. Whatever it is, I hope it is resolved satisfactorily and quickly for the sake of Auba, his family and the team.

    On contract cancellations, I understand that as a matter of sound employment practice they should only be cancelled by mutual agreement, but what was the reason behind the club and Ozil, Sokratis and maybe or maybe not Mustafi going down this route rather than letting the player leave on a free transfer? Is it simply just to give them enough of a payout to top up their new club’s no-doubt lower wages so their income is approximately what it would have been if they just saw out their Arsenal contract, and thus they will leave, with some savings to our wage bill, rather than sit out the final few months on full pay? Or is there something else to it?

    OM@10: Yes. Leno, Sokratis and Torriera all joined in July 2018.

  23. 23
    North Bank Ned says:

    bath@21: The flow continues. A summary of our transfer business in 2020-21 to date:


    Martinez for £15.4 million

    Free transfers
    Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Socratis, Macey

    Loan fees
    Guendouzi and Marpovanos for £1.1 million

    No-fee loans
    Kolasinac, Torriera, Saliba

    Total income: £16.5 million


    Partey, Gabriel, Mari, Runarsson, for £72.6 million

    Free transfers
    Cedric, Willian

    No-fee loans

    Total outgoings: £72.6 million

    Net balance: -£56.1 million

  24. 24
    bt8 says:

    Thanks, Dr. F. @20. Yes I have Peacock streaming service, but not ESPN+ which is why I have been missing the Cup games. Now we are out of the Cup I will happily put off the decision about subscribing to ESPN+ for another year, but I have lost track as to the reason why I have access to the channel the Europa League games are on.

  25. 25
    Trev says:

    According to the official site, Tierney is being “assessed for discomfort in the right calf”.
    That could just be a mild strain or, worst case, it could be signs of deep posterior compartment syndrome. I have treated that in dancers who do a lot of springing off their toes – an action ultimately very similar to what Tierney does with his huge amount of sprinting, that places massive demand on all the calf and some foot muscles.

    It needs caution and early treatment if the injury is to heal. If aggravated it can lead to inflammation of the tibial periosteum – the outer sheath of the bone that forms a long attachment to the deep posterior muscle in the calf. If badly inflamed, the condition can require surgery and that could involve a rehabilitation period of 6-9 months.

    Tierney is a gem. It’s worth being patient.

  26. 26
    North Bank Ned says:

    Guendouzi and Marpovanos loan fees quoted are pounds, not euros. (Scruz: feel free to tidy that up if you have a moment).

  27. 27
    Trev says:

    bt8 @24 – that sounds a bit like a stream of unconsciousness…..😳

  28. 28
    bt8 says:

    Although I see ESPN+ carries the Championship (the Second Division) including the playoffs which I wouldn’t mind having.

  29. 29
    North Bank Ned says:

    Trev@25: That sounds sound advice. If your worst case is, in fact, the case, how long would KT3 need to heal?

  30. 30
    bt8 says:

    Excessive streaming does nobody any good. My apologies. 🤫

  31. 31
    North Bank Ned says:

    bt8: There is also Fubo. Relatively expensive but a huge buffet of leagues and games for the money.

  32. 32
    bt8 says:

    So many choices Ned. What would The Clash have said, being all lost in a supermarket without ever leaving home? 😂

  33. 33
    Countryman100 says:

    Trev @25. That doesn’t sound good. Is that what TR7 had?

  34. 34
    Trev says:

    Ned, it depends on the severity of the inflammation. It could vary from the dreaded three weeks to several months. Hopefully it’s not compartment syndrome but that vague description worries me a bit. That and our history of long term, misdiagnosed injuries. Remember Thomas Vermaelen and his plantaris tendinitis. That is one of the extensor muscles involved in posterior compartment syndrome.

    I kept one of my dancers going through a performance based University course with weekly manual – deep and very painful – treatments for about a month. Fortunately the bone had not become inflamed and after her further three week Easter break she was ok to go back to normal.

  35. 35
    Trev says:

    C100, I think TR7 was more a knee issue. Don’t think we ever heard the final verdict.

    Vermaelen’s injuries were more a part of it – see @34 – although his injury was centred more around the heel and ankle end of the muscle.

  36. 36
    Countryman100 says:

    On the team, I hope that Tierney is protected, Saka moved to left back with Martinelli ahead of him. That combo worked really well last season .

  37. 37
    bt8 says:

    Re Tierney it is not just him but all players who play so much are subject to injuries so having quality in reserve in every position is needed to thrive at this level. A known fact in theory of course but theory now must be applied. Saka at left wing back with a back three?

  38. 38
    scruzgooner says:

    ned, fixed. but euros, dollars, pounds, or seashell necklaces, that’s too much to have paid for them.

    i’m concerned if we move saka to left back. we will be aces down the left, but with hecate being less than stellar this season, and pépé the same, unless we could have nelson in there i fear that it’d unbalance us. even with esr able to weave some pretty patterns the saints could overload the left once we’re in their half and force us right, to what would be a seriously weakened side. i’d much rather have amn in there behind martinelli, and hector behind saka. with esr pulling the strings and laca’s workrate we’d be in good shape. while neither amn nor hector consistently cross well, if they are playing in support of more intricate passing we should be able to pull them apart enough to get some shots, and hopefully goals.

    i completely agree, kt3 needs to get well, not play on half a peg. he’s too good, and too valuable, to play into the ground.

  39. 39
    Esso says:

    Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Luiz, Cedric, Xhaka, Partey, Saka, Smith Rowe, Pepe, Lacazette

    Subs: Ryan, Gabriel, Chambers, Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Willock, Willian, Martinelli, Nketiah

  40. 40
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Cedric and Saka down the left. Bellerin and Pepe down the right. Okay. Let’s see how it goes.

    As in every game he plays… Pepe could do with a good performance.
    Saka will have a different game without KT overlapping.

    Maybe it will be an ESR pass to Laca for the winner?

  41. 41
    North Bank Ned says:

    Trev@various: Thanks. I am reminded of what John Embury, the England test cricketer, once said, if you don’t have muscles, you can’t pull them.

    Scruz@38. Thanks.

    I am not fully thrilled by that team. Cedric at left-back did not work so well at the weekend, and Pepe on the wing needs to produce some end-result to justify his fee. On balance, I would have played Gabriel to give him more game time to recover match fitness. Only one keeper on the bench, however, so it looks as if Ryan is now the acknowledged No 2.

  42. 42
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Scruz. Top preview.

    It is a lovely photo you went with. Fortunately your piece more than maintained the standard such a shot of the Georges demanded. Nicely done.

  43. 43
    scruzgooner says:

    cheers, gsd. note the copyright i mentioned 🙂

    kt3 being left out really illustrates what a hole we have behind him. luiz being included for his creativity, i am sure. bah.


  44. 44
    Esso says:

    I’m with Ned. Really not happy about Cedric at left back. Really hope he proves us both wrong. Suppose with their two first choice fullbacks out he’ll have less defending to do, but we’ll see.

  45. 45
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Scruz. I did indeed note the copyright mate. Much appreciated. I’ll gladly stand you a drink from my royalties… 😉

  46. 46
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    I agree that Cedric at Lb is a bit of a worry. Although Saka may have the football brain to overlap as Cedric underlaps and cuts onto his right foot. If the young man manages this (and manages to make Cedric look better in the process) it will be just another example of his exemplary understanding of the game.

  47. 47
    Osakamatt says:

    KT is certainly a miss, hope he’s
    back soon.
    Need Laca to step up again with
    Auba out. COYGS!!

  48. 48
    bathgooner says:

    Clearly we are protecting KT3. Hopefully it’s not Trev’s worst case scenario or anything near it. What’s happened to Nelson? Pity PEA has family issues.

    I hope that Cedric and Pépé play out of their skins and assuage our anxieties about their ability to contribute to an Arsenal victory. Step 1: play really well. Step 2: do so consistently.

  49. 49
    bathgooner says:

    What GSD said @46. Fingers crossed.

  50. 50
    bt8 says:

    Sinners definitely preferable today.

  51. 51
    scruzgooner says:

    it snows on the heads of saints and sinners alike, bt8

  52. 52
    scruzgooner says:

    shame about kt3, he’d’ve loved these conditions. his calf might not have, but his heart would have.

  53. 53
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Typo bt8 @50.

    WINNERS definitely preferable today.

  54. 54
    ksn says:

    Laca misses a golden chance. Doesn’t know how to dink.

  55. 55
    scruzgooner says:

    damn, almost the perfect start. great pass by xhaka. chip him!!!

  56. 56
    ksn says:

    Southampton already ahead. 1-0.

  57. 57
    ATG says:

    Laca has to score there, so much space and straight at the keeper and now they score FFS

  58. 58
    ATG says:

    Leno flappy hands

  59. 59
    scruzgooner says:

    whose man was armstrong? ffs.

  60. 60
    scruzgooner says:

    pepe, of course. damn damn damn. amazed leno got a hand to it.

  61. 61
    scruzgooner says:

    nice run by saka. corner. love how he beat his man.

  62. 62
    TTG says:

    Glad we have a set piece coach

  63. 63
    ksn says:

    Nobody picked up the guy who took the shot and he had a clean, free hit. Well practised routine which took us napping.

  64. 64
    scruzgooner says:

    ksn, that was pepe’s man. he botched the cover.

  65. 65
    ATG says:

    Get in Pepe

  66. 66
    ksn says:

    Pepe, get in!!!!!

  67. 67
    TTG says:

    God bless the Pepson

  68. 68
    scruzgooner says:

    so pepe (mis)playing on the left. sorry pepe, not a good start for you today.

    and as i write that he ties it up. well done, i knew you could do it. another great pass from xhaka.

  69. 69
    ksn says:

    Scruzgooner, thanks. Fine preview too.

  70. 70
    scruzgooner says:

    and that’s with their defender hanging all over him, dragging him back. that was a great goal. now COYG!!!

  71. 71
    scruzgooner says:

    thanks, ksn.

  72. 72
    ksn says:

    Cedric almost scores.

  73. 73
    ATG says:

    That was close from Cedric 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

  74. 74
    ksn says:

    We almost got caught on the counter but Theo takes a hurried shot and it goes wide.
    Bellerin takes an undeserved yellow.

  75. 75
    ATG says:

    Great save Lebo

  76. 76
    scruzgooner says:

    our pressing from the front is excellent. our defense at the back, not so much. thank goodness for leno.

  77. 77
    ksn says:

    Twice they had good counter attacks but we escaped. We are leaving too much space at the back and with Luiz, Holding and Cedric being so slow, the Saints are having a nice time attacking.

  78. 78
    scruzgooner says:

    i feel they will tire as the game continues and we will remain strong. i see at least another goal coming in our favor. not sure if they’ll get another.

  79. 79
    ksn says:

    Saka!!!! 1-2.

  80. 80
    ATG says:

    Laca Saka BOOM

  81. 81
    scruzgooner says:

    beautiful strength by saka, perfect one-touch by laca. totally sweet goal. COYG!

  82. 82
    scruzgooner says:

    now to get a third. concentrate now, boys. nothing for them prior to halftime.

  83. 83
    scruzgooner says:

    certainly looked like a shove on laca in the box.

    no foul on saka because it was offside? why the hell did they take the chance on him getting hurt? idiotic rule.

  84. 84
    bt8 says:

    Have to say, Pepe seems to have a better idea of what to do when playing on the left.

  85. 85
    Osakamatt says:

    turned it round well after their
    early goal. Finish the job 2nd half.

  86. 86
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    I don’t remember the last time we conceded first in the first half and still went in ahead.

    Lots of good stuff on display, as well as a few dodgy moments. ESR looking excellent. Saka his usual class self. Pepe his usual mixed bag, but some of his plays are excellent.

    Xhaka doing okay but having Partey next to him makes a 5/10 performance from him look like a 7/10. Although fair play to Granit for a good ball for the assist.

    Laca works so hard. Top man. (But he should have scored at the start!)

  87. 87
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Leno making important saves as ever. I really like him. He was always good but I think he is growing into a more assured, reliable keeper this season. Well done that man.

  88. 88
    bt8 says:

    Not defensively though I guess. Didn’t realize it was Pepe at fault on their goal.

  89. 89
    ksn says:

    GSD, Partey does make us look a lot better with his awareness, skills and positive passing.
    Saka is so classy for someone so young, doesn’t put a foot wrong in the opposite half.
    Still undecided about Cedric vs AMN. Cedric has done well so far.
    Need to concentrate to stay ahead.

  90. 90
    BtM says:

    ESR looking knackered. Time for a change?

  91. 91
    ksn says:

    Gabigol coming on for Pepe.

  92. 92
    ksn says:

    ESR and not Pepe being replaced but by Willian not Gabi.
    Laca scores!!!!!

  93. 93
    ksn says:

    Good pass by Saka and ankled in by Laca.

  94. 94
    bt8 says:

    Cedric Saka Laca Boomlaca!!!

  95. 95
    ksn says:

    Pepe was pulled three times but no one yellow carded.
    Partey down but commentators saying it could be cramps. Hope so.
    Elneny on for Partey.

  96. 96
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:


    The Axis of Average strikes again!

  97. 97
    ksn says:

    We escape another goof up by Luiz.
    Friend is a stupid or blind ref. He is giving everything against Arsenal. Dangerous area from where Smith Prowse takes a free kick but well kept out by Leno.

  98. 98
    Osakamatt says:

    Laca’s done great tonight, knew
    there was a reason I drafted him
    into my fantasy team 😁
    Fingers crossed for Thomas

  99. 99
    ksn says:

    Willock on for Pepe.

  100. 100
    ksn says:

    The entire team has worked tirelessly for the entire 90+5 minutes. Deserve to win 3-1 ( could have won by a bigger margin) and the priceless three points. Eighth in the table now. Well done boys.

  101. 101
    Pangloss says:

    Well in. A genuine ton.

  102. 102
    Pangloss says:

    Also well played Arsenal. Ahead of Cha$ki, although played a game more.

    Onward! Upward!


  103. 103
    BtM says:

    Huge vindication of MA8’s team rotation for the cup game. Respect, Mikel.

  104. 104
    North Bank Ned says:

    That was a much better performance than the FA Cup game. Partey and ESR make such a difference, not least because they stop Xhaka passing sideways and backwards all the time. Xhaka was solid, to be fair. Saka had a good game. Laca pressed and pressed and deserved his goal. Cedric was far more effective on the left, and the whole defence coped much better with the Southampton press. Leno produced another batch of good saves when they were needed. As mentioned above, he has moved up a level. Pepe was the usual curate’s egg. Horribly at fault for their first go, but redeemed by his goal.

  105. 105
    North Bank Ned says:

    Well in for the ton, ksn.

  106. 106
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    I agree with BtM. We had every right to expect that the team that started in the cup would put on a better performance. But it is very clear that Arteta prioritised this game (rightly, in my opinion, but I know not everyone agrees) and so we needed the result today.

    We got it. We deserved it. 16 out of our last 18 points in the league. Good stuff lads.

  107. 107
    TTG says:

    Fair point but we could have had both games .

  108. 108
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Nicely finished ksn.

  109. 109
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:


    You are not wrong. But we were a little unlucky in the first one and it wasn’t, in my opinion, anyone but the players’ fault that their FA cup performance was not good enough.

    The midfield was our big problem. And given Partey went off tonight with what was (hopefully) cramp, I am even more glad that he didn’t start in the cup. I think it is a case of the manager having more info than us fans do and making sensible choices on the back of it…

  110. 110
    Pangloss says:

    Could’a would’a should’a

  111. 111
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Confident, courageous performance. Excellent to see the attacking intent throughout the match, especially driven by Partey’s tremendous verticality of play. Cedric is no Tierney but some of his switching of play was eye catching.

    Leno despite a few poor goal kicks was assured as ever. Plays with such poise and calmness. And even though everyone in the forward line played their part that was top class modern center forward performance by Laca with that work rate, pressing, a goal and an assist.

  112. 112
    Esso says:

    Enjoyed that!

  113. 113
    Esso says:

    We fucking won#
    Whats not to like

  114. 114
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Jack Wilshere scored for Bournemouth too. I’m happy for him.

  115. 115
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Wot Esso said @113.

  116. 116
    BtM says:

    @107 TTG, More likely that KT, Partey and ESR wouldn’t have been fit to start tonight in my opinion.

    This way two of the three were, and without them, we’d most likely have lost 3 points tonight and the RB211 whine that is characteristic of the current fanbase would have reached tinnitus inducing proportions and the fanbase would be taking about relegation again. It really doesn’t take much to fire up the turbo-‘fans’.

    I’m with the boss.

    Every time.


  117. 117
    TTG says:

    Btm/ GSD
    I agree that our midfield resources were stretched but its galling to watch us outplay them tonight and for most of Saturday’s second half and lose in the Cup, But you both make the key point that Arteta knows the fitness levels of vital players best .Arteta got his tactics spot on tonightbtgat was the best high press we’ve played this season
    As often is the case I have no idea what you mean

  118. 118
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Alex Scott on MOTD giving Cedric a lot of praise for a great performance. Well done Mr. Soares. We in this bar were not entirely convinced about your left back prowess before the game but you did very well.

    I’ve said a lot of times i think he is a good right back and a good player. As well as having a lot of experience. I am happy with him in our squad and I’m really pleased that tonight he showed himself as a viable left back option for when we need to rest KT.

  119. 119
    Uplympian says:

    Excellent team performance- they collectively put in a shift and the result was there to be seen. Stand out# for me were Leno, Cedric, Saka & Laca – the latter looked fitter than he has been for a long time & put in a real shift. Of course the boss also for team selection & tactics.
    Now onto doing the double over the red mancs on saturday.

  120. 120
    bt8 says:

    I think Cedric has done quite well whenever called upon, and certainly had one of his very best performances in this game. He is competition for Hector and he has the skills and experience to do what he did tonight on occasion at left back. All in all, I’m glad we signed him, no matter the identity of his agent which should not be held against him.

  121. 121
    ksn says:

    Thanks. Lucky.

  122. 122
    North Bank Ned says:

    Kudos to Cedric for stilling the doubters, myself included. Those booming in-swinging crosses are so much more effective when hit from the half-way line than the edge of the box.

    Leno is the anti-Jens. Calmness instead of madness.

  123. 123
    bathgooner says:

    I refer Messrs Cedric and Pépé to Drink 48.

    Good job on Step 1. Step 2 is the new target.

  124. 124
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Welcome to the Arsenal Ødegaard 11!

  125. 125
    bt8 says:

    Well stated bathgooner @123 and 48, and especially about Pepe’s consistency which of course is still in question. But I do wonder, based on his performance last night only, if his Arsenal career might have gone better so far if we had identified his main position as being on the left side rather than the right.

  126. 126
    Pangloss says: