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Off down the M3 to St Mary’s again to take on Southampton for the second time in four days, this time in the Premier League. Tens of thousands of words have been written about whether our Basque manager did the right thing by making seven changes for the FA Cup, in contrast to a full strength Saints. Last night Arteta claimed that five of those seven were injury enforced. Anyway it didn’t work out and he incurred the wrath of Gooners who, after four FA Cups in seven years, were beginning to regard a walk up Wembley Way as a birthright. Still, what’s done is done and we came to tonight’s game on a pretty good league run, since Christmas,  of P5, W4, D1, L0, GF 11, GA 1.

We drew at home against Southampton in the league in December as GSD’s excellent match report will tell you. Much discussion pregame about our team tonight, with KT3 having some worrying calf issues (see comments by Trev, our resident expert sports scientist physio, in the last drinks) and with our Captain, seemingly solving his goal drought against the barcodes, diverted by personal/family issues. All the best Auba – you have our total support and family always, always comes first.

So, with dinner done and plates in the dishwasher off to check the team:

Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Luiz, Cedric, Xhaka, Partey, Saka, ESR, Pepe, Laca

Bench: Ryan, Gabriel, Chambers, AMN, Elneny, Willock, Martinelli, Eddie

No Gabi in the starting line up and no KT3/Auba as previously trailed. The mystery of Reiss Nelson continues. Surely he has to go out on loan?

Southampton played a similar line up to Saturday in the Cup, but missing the two full backs, Betrand (suspended) and Walker Peters (injured). In goal Fraser Forster was dropped to the bench for McCarthy. 

The rain was lashing down in Southampton (not an infrequent event from my personal experience) as we kicked off. In less than a minute, after winning back the ball, Xhaka put Laca through one on one with McCarthy. Sadly he didn’t take the golden chance as the keeper saved with his legs. Virtually immediately Southampton broke and Ings forced a corner. Ward-Prowse whipped in a corner to the penalty spot where Armstrong, unmarked after Pepe bought a dummy run, hit a fabulous half volley past a blameless Leno, who did well to get his hands to it. 

Southampton 1-0 Arsenal (Armstrong 3 mins)

Saka, in these early minutes, was playing on the right and looking very lively. Pepe was on the left. After a sweeping move of crisp passes from right to left, Xhaka played in Pepe who held off the defender with his arm and passed the ball into the corner with his left foot. For a brief second (but only a brief second, don’t get on my case) he reminded me of DB10 – the Iceman used to finish in just that style. A peach of a goal. 

Southampton 1-1 Arsenal (Pepe 7 mins)

After a lovely run through midfield by Partey to the edge of the box, the ball went into the area, then fell 20 yards out to Cedric, who hit an excellent volley just wide. After 15 minutes, despite going one nil down, we looked the better team. Pressing well, moving the ball rapidly and vertically and running at the opposition. The game was fast and wide open though, with Saints looking quick and dangerous on the break. In one of those breaks, Hector was booked (rightly) for hauling down Armstrong. Again the Saints found space on the Hector’s side and put in a great cross met well by Adams and well saved by Leno. Our right side was looking vulnerable. Coming up to the half hour and Southampton were now looking the more potent team. They were bypassing the press, with Adams playing well with back to goal and then advancing on the flanks. Attacks were coming fast and furious. Our midfield was failing to defend the back four. 

We had a nasty moment on 37 mins when Luiz totally miscontrolled the ball straight to Walcott just outside the area. Luckily he messed it up and shot high and wide (unlucky Theo!).

A minute later Xhaka picked up the ball on our side of the centre circle and passed upfield to Laca just the other side. He hit a wonderful first time pass to Saka just outside the area who calmly rounded the onrushing goalie (who maybe shouldn’t have been out there) and slotted it in with his right foot. A wonderful, rapid, clear thinking goal, and a lot more difficult than our precocious little Ealing Express made it look. What a footballer this boy is becoming.

Southampton 1-2 Arsenal (Saka 38)

On 41 minutes Laca went tumbling in the box, but no penalty (and having seen the replay again rightly so).

A really open first half (probably too open for either manager). I haven’t mentioned ESR (the Croydon de Bruyne) above, but he was everywhere, in space, linking, playing simple progressive passes. The lad is a gem. New contract soon please! Saka is also a star, who looks to have found his most effective position on the right with licence to roam inside, and a goal well taken by Pepe and made by Xhaka. We played with tempo and some verve, whilst not looking completely secure at the back. 

HT Southampton 1-2 Arsenal

No changes at half time and it was still raining. Five minutes in and a nice move for Saints saw Walcott hit a piledriver from the edge of the box, straight at Leno. Unlucky Theo!!

ESR was put into the box by Xhaka and just lacked pace on his shot after beating the goalie. Bellerin put in a great cross which Pepe managed to deflect away from Laca on the back post. Cedric danced into the box but it was scrambled away by the Saints. The next goal was going to be crucial. 

Ings made a lovely, slaloming run into our area but Leno beat him away from a narrow angle. Nathan Redmond came on for Saints and we thought Martinelli was coming on for Pepe. However Pepe slowed right down as he saw ESR in pain on the ground and was ludicrously booked for time wasting by the abject Kevin Friend. ESR came off (hopefully nothing serious), Pepe stayed on and Willian (Nooo!!) came on. Gabi went back to the bench.

Straight after the restart, Cedric pinged a superb, right footed pass from the left touchline on halfway to Saka. Just onside, he controlled the ball and fizzed in a right footed slide rule pass for a Laca tap in at the back post. The third great goal of the evening. Oh my word.

Southampton 1-3 Arsenal (Lacazette 73 mins)

Partey went down with cramp. Elneny took his place. Eleven minutes to go and Southampton were looking tired and beaten. Could we see this out? Luiz had his third brain fart of the evening giving the ball away in our half and then almost dropped Leno in it by dummying in the penalty area. Credit to Leno and Rob Holding for staying switched on. As the minutes ticked by, Xhaka made his first bad move of the night with a trademark clumsy tackle on the edge of the box, giving the dead ball specialist Ward-Prowse an opportunity. He hit a good free kick which was going in but that man Leno made another great, one handed save. 

We saw out five minutes of added time well. For the first time this season we had come from behind to win in the league. A gritty, classy, highly entertaining performance by The Arsenal. BtM has been saying in the drinks for months “play better Arsenal”. Well they did.

I thought we saw excellent games from ESR, Saka, Laca, Cedric, Holding, Xhaka and Leno. Good games from Pepe (only marked down from excellent by his failure to track for their goal), Hector and Partey. Only Luiz, with repeated brain fades which could have been punished, was less than good. 

So were we right to weaken on Saturday and win tonight? The debate continues. But in the league that is three consecutive away wins, and 16 points from the last 18 with 14 goals for and 2 against. 

Kudos to Scruzgooner with the ‘holic pound. Anyone who lumped onto his 1-3 scoreline at 19s made much coin! 

A final thought. Our next eight games are Man U, Wolves, Villa, Leeds, City, Leicester, Burnley, Spurs, West Ham and Liverpool. Whilst I will be optimistic for each while we are playing like this, it is likely we will lose some. I urge patience if and when that happens. We are going in the right direction. 

Come on you Gunners!

110 Drinks to “Incisive Passing and Clinical Finishing Shred Saints.”

  1. 1
    North Bank Ned says:

    Sharp report, C100. Agree with your marking, too. If we can take seven points from the next three games, we will be continuing in the right direction.

    All in all, Ødegaard seems a good loan deal. It will mean ESR won’t have to be played into the ground over the rest of this season, and buys time to sort out the No 10 role and the rest of the midfield in the long-term.

  2. 2
    bt8 says:

    Timely tonic, that one.

  3. 3
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Well-summarised review! Very happy to be proven wrong about Cedric’s usefulness to the squad. If he can play consistently at that level on either flank then always a good option to have.

    Being on the left forces Pépé to get out of his comfort zone of always trying to cut in and score and makes him simplify his game. Which helped yesterday.

    Lacazette somewhat quietly enjoying a very good season in this 9-and-half role. His assist to Saka was world class, as was his pressing.

    And in every match Leno shows us why Mikel was so right to have complete faith in his abilities technical, physical and psychological.

    Hector overall was probably 6/10, but did very well to avoid getting in trouble after that harsh early yellow card.

    On Saturday we’ll most likely have Ødegaard 11 on the bench as well. Coming on as 80th minute sub to put the finishing touch on a 4-0 thumping of the old enemies …

  4. 4
    bt8 says:

    A masterful report, c100, I loved your last six short paragraphs. Just what the doctor ordered. A come from behind away win is not to be sneezed at, or otherwise disrespected either. 😀

  5. 5
    Doctor Faustus says:

    bt8: Especially when a come from behind league win — home or away — has become such a rarity lately.

    Excellent analysis of Ødegaard’s immense potential with focus on his special performance last season on loan at Sociedad. Ødegaard on the right midfield turning away from markers in a small space to release overlapping KT or offside trap breaking Auba can become an unstoppable move for us.

  6. 6
  7. 7
    bt8 says:

    Also, Saka aside from playing a great game and being involved in our goals displayed great leadership qualities. I love the way he ignores bad refereeing decisions, and as you pointed out c100 there was a nearly endless stream of bad refereeing decisions last night that needed ignoring.

  8. 8
    TTG says:

    Bravo! A report that is both enjoyable and satisfyingly analytical . I saw a couple of people who likened Leno to Flappyhandski for the goal….unbelievable, he did well to touch it and they also said Xhaka had his best game ever for us . In a positive sense he did, he played as he did against Chelsea , much more positive, but in the first half Southampton launched most of their attacks through his section of the pitch . Thankfully Theo had reverted to the frustrating character we know so well. He was a real creative force but we could not concede that sort of space to a better team.
    I was impressed with almost everyone but my MOTM was Smith-Rowe who worked his socks off and completely transforms our attacking threat . He is by far the biggest reason for our renaissance in an attacking sense . I also agree with Dr.F about Pepe , he was very dangerous on the left and with his pace is a very different threat to the inhibited character on the right. Saka was superb too.
    My big concern for the game as a whole is pressure of matches . It was very silly not to allow five subs because the pressure on hamstrings , calf muscles and ligaments will become increasingly intolerable. ESR and Partey are clearly very vulnerable and I wonder if we might be able to recall Torreira given our defensive midfield travails although the signing of Odegaard should release pressure on ESR
    Fascinating that two clubs of similar ability had to decide which competition to prioritise, rather than attempting to win both. Certainly Arteta was clear he had to spare players in the Cup on Saturday .
    I now have a 1951 mug that is 1 for 1 !

  9. 9
    bt8 says:

    All hail the undefeated mug and prematurely retired jumper, TTG. 😉

    Just prior to the intervention of the chevrons in the last drinks I posted this drink that restates a point made elsewhere.

    “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.”

  10. 10
    Bathgooner says:

    Thanks C100 for an excellent report of an enjoyable performance. I concur with your scoring and thought only Luiz and to a lesser extent Bellerin were below par. Luiz had at least three brainfarts that put us in serious jeopardy.

    I also agree with TTG’s observations both here and also during the game that our midfield still lacks the solid defensive screen that Gilberto and even Song once offered us. I do think a team with better strikers (Fank you Feo – you do owe us those blanks you fired, and more) would have punished us and we do need to improve defensively if we are to continue to climb the table. Hopefully Gabriel will fully shake off the effects of Covid-19 and not have the edge taken off his game permanently and in the summer we can add more quality to that defence – maybe even Saliba?.

    A good window so far. Could there be more outgoings?

  11. 11
    Countryman100 says:

    Cheers all, enjoyed writing that one up. I’m not normally a big believer in stats, but 7am kick off’s pressure stats are interesting.

    Arsenal go 8th with win over Soton

  12. 12
    Countryman100 says:

    From Auba’s Twitter account. His Mother has been seriously unwell. As I said in the piece above, family always comes first Auba.

  13. 13
    Doctor Faustus says:

    bt8@9: Arteta had tried Pépé a few times before from the left with mixed success. There was a sublime right footed finish in an EL game and a few good through balls but still lacked the consistency that is required.

    Pépé’s main problem is his guile and vision (both mediocre) do not quite match up to his technical abilities (world class). In Ligue 1 that extra seconds of time and extra yards of space afforded to him was enough for him to be able to make the right decision and once he does that he has the toolkit to execute. But in PL he can and will never find that “freedom to think” and as a result he resorts to the move he is most comfortable with but which is also a very difficult and complicated one to pull off: cut in and try to set up or score. When that is indeed the right decision it works very well, but more often than not the defenders are well aware of this move and has cut off that avenue. He lacks the guile to completely recognize that and doesn’t lift his head up enough to see the other options, especially going outside on the right or combine in a triangle, both of which Saka excels at. Yesterday he was forced out of his comfort zone, was forced to simplify his decision making to go for the most effective option and equally importantly because of how well we pressed and the inexperience of the Southampton right back was afforded a little extra time.

    His overall game — tracking back, pressing, defending — has improved well under Mikel but his decision making under pressure in the final third has a long way to go to fully serve his technical abilities at this level.

  14. 14
    Bathgooner says:

    Good news on PEA’s mother. Thanks for the update.

  15. 15
    Countryman100 says:

    Dr F I can’t agree that Pepe’s technical abilities are world class. In every game I have seen him play there are occasions when it looks like he couldn’t trap the proverbial bag of cement. His ball control is frequently woeful. Then there are occasions, like his goal last night, when it all comes together and all is well. But his technical skills, compared to most Hale End graduates for example are sadly lacking IMHO.

  16. 16
    Esso says:

    Cheers Countryman!

  17. 17
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Countryman @15: Completely agree with your observation about Pépé sometimes looking totally uncoordinated while receiving or trapping. And there are times he brings down a high ball, traps and takes two defenders out in one elegant move (we need to see much more of that of course). My diagnosis of the underlying problem is a little different than yours. Maybe I will make more sense with an analogy:

    Let us say a pianist has learned to play Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit and on certain evenings with a certain type of audience (and maybe only on a Fazioli or a Steinway) he can play this very difficult piece as well as anyone but on some other evenings and with different audiences he stumbles upon the easiest of notes. Even though we all agree that unless he addresses this problem he will not really have a great career but will you out it down to technical limitation?

    Anyway, this may just be an argument about semantics. And yes I agree that the best of the Hale End have a consistency to their control which is really impressive.

  18. 18
    Doctor Faustus says:

    @17: I meant “…will you put it down…” .

  19. 19
    Countryman100 says:

    Dr F. Is this the musical equivalent of can he do it on a cold wet night in Stoke?

  20. 20
    Countryman100 says:

    Or let me put it into a golfing analogy.
    “The more I practice, the luckier I get. “ Gary Player.

    At some stage in his career I suspect Pepe did not work hard enough, or more probably was not asked to work hard enough, on his technical skills, relying instead on his athleticism. The trouble is these skills are learned from the ages of 8-14. At 25, he can improve but never be a natural.

  21. 21
    Countryman100 says:

    But whatever, the lad played well last night. May that long continue while he’s at The Arsenal.

  22. 22
    TTG says:

    I , like C100 , had a flashback to DB10 in that quite breathtaking goal against Newcastle ( a goal that I think is perfectly legal but would be probably disallowed by VAR now as it was not scored by Manchester United) . Pepe used his body very intelligently to shield the ball from Valery and manoeuvre it into a position to slide it home .
    I agree also with C100 that Pepe has not got world class skills but he does manipulate the ball brilliantly at times . We saw last night that it can work to be on your natural side ( Pepe) and to be on the less natural side – Cedric for his pass to Saka for our third goal. He would have found it impossible to find that curve and angle with his left foot . Pepe has a fine assist in a semi-final, and in a final and was very unlucky to have a spectacular goal chalked off in the Final.
    He saves his best moments when Scruz is in attendance !

  23. 23
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Countryman — I agree that there must have been a gap somewhere in his early career that leads to these inconsistencies. Probably not enough guidance to make the technical abilities more inherent under pressure. Or just not enough dedication as you said. Santi in one of his interviews for the club website had once said that his famous two-footedness came from hours and hours of extra practice as a kid … after everyone has gone home he will practice well into the evening to make both feet equally good.

    There was this video of Wrighty interviewing Auba and Laca together, he asked them who they think is technically the best player in the team (and this is when Mesut was part of the first team) and they both immediately answered something like “Nico, based on all the impossible things he does on the training ground.” We do see glimpses of it now and then but yes completely agree the overall consistency is not good enough.

  24. 24
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Forget Nico, it’s such a fun interview to watch. Will make you smile each time:

  25. 25
    Countryman100 says:

    I’m going to save that until tomorrow Dr F, maybe after the Pakistan V Saffers cricket. Although I’m also planning to make some Seville orange marmalade tomorrow. After the triumph of my tomato chutney (homegrown tomatoes) and my wife’s foraged blackberry jam (I was forager in chief), I’m keen to expand my preserves experience. For photos see my Instagram account @drpaulbrooker.

    My wife, by the way, is from Cumbria. She insists that blackberry is a soft southern term and the correct term is either brambles, or black items.

    I may invest some time into Everton v Leicester tonight. Making sure to tune in in time for Johnny Todd (the Z cars theme) just before kick off. The best run on tune in the whole damn league.

  26. 26
    Countryman100 says:

    Damn you autocorrect. Blackites!

  27. 27
    bt8 says:

    Re: c100 @25. If it’s as good as Coopers you’ll be doing very well indeed. Enjoy!

  28. 28
    Sancho Panza says:

    C100 your wife may be from Cumbria but even Cumbrians know that the bramble is the bush and the blackberry is the fruit.
    On the Cumbria, Lancs. North Yorkshire border we always went blackberrying.

  29. 29
    Countryman100 says:

    Sancho Panza, her Dad’s from Carlisle and there it’s brambles! From West Cumbria (round Workington) it’s blackites. Where you’re from is the soft south to her family! 😂

  30. 30
    Countryman100 says:

    When we married (33 years ago) it took me two years before I could follow their West Cumbrian accent!

  31. 31
    bathgooner says:

    In Scotland the fruit and the bush are both called brambles and bramble picking is a fine late summer pastime (usually the weekend after the weekday that qualifies as Scotland’s high summer). No Scot I know uses the term blackberry.

    It’s no surprise the same terminology is used in Cumbria which was the southern portion of the late middle ages kingdom of Strathclyde whose capital was the then fair toon of Govan and whose people spoke the same P-Celtic Brittonic language as later became known as Cumbrian.

  32. 32
    Trev says:

    Great report thanks, C100 ! I find match reports hard to contemplate but that’s a good’un.

    Interesting to see how many players were starting to struggle by the end of the game. I thought Arteta was spot on in his post match interview, as to how the young players need to be managed.

    Remember the great British core that Arsene “wanted” to build a team around – Walcott, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlin, Ramsey and Jenkinson. Played of necessity at a very young age and all suffered catalogues of soft tissue injuries that affected their careers badly. Somewhere in the archives, a long way back, there’s a main piece I did on the subject for Dave.

    Re the Wrighty interview on Pepe’s technical skills, I’ll check it out to see if they’re having a friendly chuckle when they answer. Also a touch ironic to be asking Lacazette about world class ball control ………

  33. 33
    Osakamatt says:

    A very enjoyable report,
    thanks C100.
    Good comeback after giving
    away a soft early goal.
    A good day for several of our
    players and for Mikel.
    Be great as always if we can
    stick it to Manure on Saturday.

  34. 34
    Trev says:

    By the way, people in the South no longer talk about blackberries at all. We’ve all swapped to iPhones 😆

  35. 35
    bt8 says:

    Chavs, Villa and Red Mancs all among those looking to drop points to THE MIGHTY ARSENAL

  36. 36
    bt8 says:

    United showcasing the preferred method of losing to relegation contenders.

  37. 37
    Countryman100 says:

    Trev. Heh re Blackberries. I was the last person in my company to give up my Blackberry. The IT Director came and begged, saying he was having to send one of his guys on update courses just for me. In the end I gave it up and got my iPhone.

  38. 38
    bt8 says:

    United drop three to Sheffield United; Everton and Leicester drop two each. A good midweek you might say.

  39. 39
    Goonersince54 says:

    Almost as good as an in person away day match summary Countryman, minus the obligatory after match curry on the way home. !!
    Not much to add to comments above, excellent going forward, competent in midfield, and a bit dodgy at the back, but mitigated by playing 2 right footed central defenders, and a predominantly right footed player at left back that clearly left us unbalanced.
    We clearly have several players in the ” red zone “, which is not ideal given the unrelenting schedule of matches.
    We will be blessed with a week off after the Villa away game in 10 days time on Feb 6th, as 5th round Cup games are being played the following midweek.
    If we can get through the next 3 games till then without serious injuries, that week off could be crucial.

  40. 40
    Countryman100 says:

    Many thanks Clive. Much appreciated. Mind you every time I go to St Mary’s I seem to get soaked so I was glad to be warm and dry watching the rain fall!

  41. 41
    North Bank Ned says:

    Trev@32: Is that a poor first touch ironic?

    @34: Classic!

  42. 42
    North Bank Ned says:

    On the Pepe discussion earlier: when I was watching the game, the thought occurred that Pepe is like a foal, all legs and at times not too sure of where they are.

    If Wolves could have beaten the Chavs, it would have been just about a perfect set of results for us. I hope the Mancs defeat is the first in a run of losses that at least extends to two.

  43. 43
    Osakamatt says:

    @42 Me too Ned, me too!
    On your concluding sentence I
    Enjoyable waking up to that
    Manure defeat this morning –
    thanks Ole👍

  44. 44
    Countryman100 says:

    Trev @32 ah go on, you only enjoyed it because I gave your expertise a shout out! 😁😁

  45. 45
    Goonersince54 says:

    Evening Ned
    Trust you are well.
    A question for the Monks.
    Given how porous our defence has been in recent seasons, can they confirm the last time we have conceded 20 goals or less in our first 20 league games. ??
    I venture to suggest that it would be quite a few seasons since we were averaging conceding just 1 goal per game, and been in the top 3 for best defensive record at same time.

  46. 46
    Goonersince54 says:

    And Ned, re your 42,
    I would disagree mate, the results were absolutely perfect.
    We didn’t want Wolves beating the Chavs giving them a huge boost in confidence before we play them away next Tuesday night.
    Better they continue their winless run since before Christmas.

  47. 47
    Osakamatt says:

    On Pepe, I think he’s made a
    reasonable if inconsistent contribution
    since joining. But the 72m price
    tag just distorts any discussion as
    it, not unreasonably, often does with
    new signings. Same with wages really
    as in Willian’s case, though in his case
    he has been consistent 😉.
    Then again, I wanted Pepe but didn’t want
    Willian which probably affects my
    own objectivity. Tricky this judgment
    business 😁

  48. 48
    TTG says:

    I’ve been doing some scouting for Mikel tonight .
    I did notice Emi let in two shockers for Villa .
    Grealish and Maddison are excellent but out of reach and would they see us as a step up?
    The right back we need is the Leicester boy Justin .
    And Pope is a way better keeper than Pickford

  49. 49
    Osakamatt says:

    I’m sure Mikel will appreciate your
    work TTG and Stan even more so as
    it was unpaid 😁

  50. 50
    Osakamatt says:

    though I wish Emi had saved his
    clangers for our upcoming game
    with Villa…..

  51. 51
    scruzgooner says:

    thanks for the post, c100, though like clive i miss the curry on the drive home. and perhaps your son’s company and all that brings. one tiny quibble: saka didn’t control cedric’s wonderful cross-field ball then pass, he passed first touch on the half-volley. masterful.

    faustus, thanks for those links. i just spent a fine half hour watching as the rain falls here in copious amounts. not as copious as we thought, and not to the detriment of our wifi or power, thankfully.

    brambles? blackberries? we call them bastards. as in “are those bastards growing back?”. they’re invasive “himalayan blackberries” and, while delicious, grow like monsters and spread from the tiniest bit of rootstock left, or a single seed dropped by a bird.

  52. 52
    Trev says:

    C100 @44, not at all.

    I do think it must be hard to write a match report that doesn’t get repetitive – both from the readers and writers point of view. Like most writing, knowing what to leave out is the tricky bit. Yours hit the spot.

    Agree that Cedric had an excellent game tonight – and on the “wrong” side of the pitch. Many people seemed to think he was a strange and poor signing when it happened. I’ve been increasingly impressed with him lately, to the extent that Bellerin is a little lucky to be keeping his place just now. Only imo, of course.

    Ned @41- indeed 😏

  53. 53
    Trev says:

    scruz, I was beginning to wonder if things could get much worse for you where you live.

    After a year of storms, wild fires, now threatened floods and mudslides, power cuts and no WiFi, we learn you are under attack from the invasion of the monster bastard blackberries.
    I hope you get well paid to live in California ! 😱

  54. 54
    scruzgooner says:

    trev, being native here all these things are taken in stride. our wages are incidental 🙂

  55. 55
    scruzgooner says:

  56. 56
    scruzgooner says:

  57. 57
    Steve T says:

    Cheers Countryman.

  58. 58
    Sancho Panza says:

    C100 I guess soft southerners can be used in a geographical sense. As a hill farmer I wouldn’t say my cousins could be described as soft.
    I love the accents around there, when they can actually be bothered to speak as opposed to nod, wink or whistle.

  59. 59
    North Bank Ned says:

    Clive@45: It was 2015/16, the season Leicester won the league. We were top after 20 games with 18 goals conceded.

    In both the past two seasons, we conceded 30 goals in our first 20 league games, so the defence has tightened up.

  60. 60
    North Bank Ned says:

    Scruz: You are back to black and white TV. Things must be even worse in California than we thought.

  61. 61
    scruzgooner says:

    ned, at least we’ve had color tv. unlike the lot from middlesex.

  62. 62
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100: Because there is no subject too nerdy for YouTube, Simon Roper, an anthropology post-grad who studies Cumbrian dialects, has several videos on the pronunciation of Cumbrian over the centuries. This one is on later Cumbrian.

  63. 63
    Countryman100 says:

    Ned. 👏👏👏👏

  64. 64
    Trev says:

    Ned @62 – fookin’ veelorised ‘ell, lud 😳

  65. 65
    scruzgooner says:

    lol, trev. no kidding. i made it to the part where he said “lelt’ and i left off…but amazing work by him to de-clench the dialect. well found, ned.

  66. 66
    bathgooner says:

    Good stuff Ned. Well found. Give the monks an extra tot of Benidictine and spare them their daily flogging.

  67. 67
    Countryman100 says:

    My wife’s Uncle’s party piece was “I’m geing iam for some iam baiked ceik! Then fall about laughing at his niece’s new husband’s complete incomprehension. Lovely hospitable people though.

  68. 68
    Trev says:

    I actually like all the regional accents and find them very interesting. Well, scouse pushes at the limit but otherwise they’re fascinating.

    Geordie, for example, is closely related to Japanese. I’m not sure how the origins crossed over but the link is illustrated in the Geordie phrase which we southerners would pronounce in the carpenters workshop as – “throw your hammer over here !” The Geordie / Japanese version goes – “howya hamma owu eeya”.

    Any questions ? 😏

  69. 69
    bt8 says:

    Thanks for the Chapman and Allison clips, Scruz. The unsaid part could be that the overhead and “only available” camera shots of that cup final were take if not from a German zeppelin then from British aircraft sent up to prevent the reappearance of the zeppelin seen at that earlier final.

    Thanks Ned for that de seminar on Cumbrian linguistics. I had a feeling my education had been lacking something. 🙂

  70. 70
    Goonersince54 says:

    Thnks for the info Ned.
    Just on Auba and his sick Mum, assuming he had to travel overseas to visit her, and i base that on Auba saying yesterday, he had just arrived back,
    Will he have to quarantine as per new rules, and test negative for the virus before he can play again. ??

  71. 71
    Goonersince54 says:

    For those interested in what our shiny new Madrid signing can bring to our table,
    Blog has some links to profile pieces on the lad, plus a highlight of an absolute killer pass he made for Sociedad last season.
    Worth a read.
    A cracking game at the Lane this evening, if Pool keep going like this, we will be 3pts behind the Neighbors by full time.

  72. 72
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@63: Hope you made it to the point in Roper’s Cumbrian video where the word for the fruit on a bramble is given as brimmelkite.

    Bath@66: You can’t deny the monks their daily pleasures.

    bt8: That is why this bar is so educational. Every time you come here, you say, that’ll teach me…

    Clive@70: It might depend on where his mother is and thus where he has been. Gabon is not on the UK’s list of high-risk countries which means that he still has to self-isolate for 10 days on his return, but after five, if he tests negative for COVID-19, he can stop self-isolating.

  73. 73
    North Bank Ned says:

    Clive@71. Thanks for the heads-up on the Arseblog links. The data viz article underlines how left-footed Odegaard is. But it is a sweet left foot. Auba will lap up passes like that. Nice to see Nacho Monreal in the clip, too.

  74. 74
    Goonersince54 says:

    Thnks Ned
    On that basis, at the very least he won’t be able to play against Utd on Saturday.

  75. 75
    Osakamatt says:

    Welcome to Odegaard, a useful lad to have around by
    all accounts.
    But I wouldn’t like him to be a first choice over ESR at
    the moment as ESE has been playing well I think.

  76. 76
    Osakamatt says:

    @52 Trev
    Agree with you on Cedric. I think the problem with his
    signing, for me at least, was that he appeared to be 3rd
    choice behind AMN as either LB or RB. Too expensive for
    a 3rd choice.
    Now that he is a proper alternative it looks a better
    signing as he is a solid player. Of course that just means
    that things are more difficult for AMN who can’t seem to
    get a game in midfield even with our problems there.

  77. 77
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Ned and Clive – Auba’s mother is Spanish I think, not Gabonese. Pierre senior too is a French citizen, as is Auba. It is likely his parents don’t live in Gabon but somewhere in Europe.

  78. 78
    Goonersince54 says:

    Thnks for the info on Auba family Dr F.
    If he flew somewhere in Europe, does that change his quarantine obligations. ??
    Re AMN,
    He is desperate for regular game time with Euro’s in the summer, so I expect him to go out on loan along with RN and JW to name 3 that are clearly nowhere near getting little if any game time at the Arse.

  79. 79
    North Bank Ned says:

    Neither France nor Spain are on the UK’s high-risk countries list so if that is where Auba has been then a negative test after five days means he does not have to self-isolate any further.

  80. 80
    Osakamatt says:

    @78 Clive
    If they are going on loan it will have to be
    soon as the window closes early next week
    I think. Seems risky to loan all three just now.
    Though I agree it would be better for AMN and
    RN certainly.

    @79 Ned
    Thanks for this info too.
    France and Spain have a lot of cases just now!
    3rd and 5th most in the world yesterday.
    Good for us I suppose.
    It seems Portugal is on the list and I read an
    article in the Grauniad saying we are having
    difficulty finding a neutral venue. I hope we
    don’t have to forfeit.

  81. 81
    Goonersince54 says:

    very true Matt
    But we have signed players at the last minute,
    so no reason to suppose we can’t shift some the other way.

  82. 82
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Report: Arsenal set to play Benfica on neutral ground

    OM @80. It appears UEFA are putting the responsibility on Benfica to sort out a venue. Us having to forfeit seems unlikely if this is correct.

  83. 83
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Cheers Countryman. Quality stuff, as always.

    Ned. I found that video on Cumbrian pronunciation extremely (surprisingly?) interesting. You never know what might pop up in this bar!

    Scruz. Cheers for the links to the old footage. I enjoyed them. Although trying to see where the ball is ain’t easy!

    Doc. Thanks for the Striker’s Union links. They did make me smile.

  84. 84
    bt8 says:

    “ The Premier League is set to introduce concussion substitutes from February 6, David Ornstein can reveal.”

    Cue more refereeing chaos, including possibly the use of VAR to determine whether that really was a blow to the head or a dive.

  85. 85
    bathgooner says:

    Those old newsreels are wonderful records of the Arsenal’s history. Thanks for the links, scruz.

  86. 86
    bt8 says:

    Re: the travel restrictions on our away leg at Benfica. That’s a fun one for whoever is writing the match preview. 🥸

    To be fair though, wouldn’t / shouldn’t the second leg also be played at a neutral venue (if one in a non-Covid-invested country could be found)?

  87. 87
    bt8 says:

    The list of “red countries” (below) according to Sky includes Portugal as the only European country so finding a neutral venue may be easier than I first thought.

    The full list of “red list” countries are:

    Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Eswatini, French Guiana, Guyana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Seychelles, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

  88. 88
    bt8 says:

    Two drinks ago, invested shoulda been “infested” if anyone cares

  89. 89
    TTG says:

    This article, while not of Pulitzer Prize calibre contains some interesting contract information and some opinions on who to retain at the end of the season which are provocative ( and not tough enough in my view )
    I would try to sell all of the players mentioned

    Arsenal Keep or Sell? January 2021 Player Review

  90. 90
    bt8 says:

    Xhaka may have played better since he has been partnered by Thomas. Who wouldn’t? The man’s verdict is the right one. SELL

    Re: c100, “we came to tonight’s game on a pretty good league run, since Christmas, of P5, W4, D1, L0, GF 11, GA 1.”

    Add 3-1 to that to make GF 14 GA 2, and a casual fan could be driven to say “more iron pills, boys!”

  91. 91
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@89: As I know you appreciate the case for selling any players rests on not just a player’s ability but a matrix of factors, including age, resale value, contract length, future wages, replaceability in the team, squad depth, prospects coming up through the ranks arrivals, and perhaps most important of all, a willing buyer. Of the YAMA list, as things stand, that suggests selling this summer one of Laca and Nketiah, and one of Bellerin or AMN, but not both in either case. Willock should be sold if one or both Odegaard and Ceballos are to be with us past the summer. Of the youngsters, he and Nelson look least likely to become first-team regulars. We should be looking to sell Xhaka at the end of next season if only because we don’t currently have a better option for his midfield role, not to say we don’t need to find one.

  92. 92
    TTG says:

    The U23s drew 1-1 with our awful neighbours at their place today. Ben Cottrell scored our goal and was apparently the standout player for us. Might be an idea to get him some first-team experience . Six games unbeaten for the U23s now.

  93. 93
    TTG says:

    Here is Jeorge Bird’s report on the game. For those who don’t follow Jeorge he is extremely well connected with our younger set-up
    Report – Patino makes debut and Cottrell scores as Arsenal U23s draw with Tottenham Hotspur
    Conspiracy theorists might be interested that Azeez wasn’t even on the bench today !

  94. 94
    bt8 says:

    Ned, We could play AMN or Chambers in Xhaka’s role for a year to see if they can cut the mustard while scouring the market for a better alternative if they prove they can’t. But can they be much worse than Xhaka? As we have shown the last two seasons we are not much better than mid-table mediocrity with Xhaka there.

  95. 95
    bt8 says:

    TTG. Thanks for the report. I take it as a good sign that we had more yellows (5) than they did (3). With a player named Dane Scarlett on their side they ought to expect a few extra high tackles I would think.

  96. 96
    Countryman100 says:

    Creeping towards the ton before the United preview

  97. 97
    Countryman100 says:

    Sends the ball up the line to see who is lurking in the inside left channel

  98. 98
    bt8 says:

    Assuming it’s on the turf, takes a quick touch before flicking inside for …

  99. 99
    Countryman100 says:

    A fiercely struck square ball across the area where

  100. 100
    Trev says:

    Rude not to ! 😆

  101. 101
    North Bank Ned says:

    Well in for the ton, Trev.

  102. 102
    Countryman100 says:

    Well in Trev. It’s been an esoteric set of drinks ….

  103. 103
    North Bank Ned says:

    But the ton is the ton in anyone’s dialect, C100.

  104. 104
    Countryman100 says:

    Heh. See what you did there Ned.

  105. 105
    ksn says:

    Thanks C100 for a fine report which I enjoyed reading just as much as I enjoyed watching us thrash the Saints. Hope we beat the Mancs tomorrow.

  106. 106
  107. 107
    bt8 says:

    Well in Trev and not a rude ton by any means.

  108. 108
    bt8 says:

    The twin smirks of main man Michael Oliver and Paul Tierney on VAR are set to officiate our game tomorrow their typically officious manner. Oh the joy.

  109. 109
    Osakamatt says:

    thanks for the info @83 GSD.
    I think the home club is responsible
    for organising each time as it looks
    like both legs will have to be at
    neutral venues

  110. 110
    Bathgooner says: