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What, Me Worry?

The Arsenal play away at West Ham on Sunday, for a traditional 3 pm derby kickoff (8 am PDT for those of you in the ex-colonies, we’ve sprung forward our hour where in England they wait for March 28). The game comes on the heels of about 105 minutes of poor Arsenal football, and so the question tomorrow obtains: do we feel lucky? Or are we going to worry? Do we expect to continue the panicked, backs-to-the-wall effort the Middlesex Marshers forced us to endure using ten men, or the off-kilter, sloppy, slow-to-react profligacy that lost us the game at home to the non-gift-bearing Greeks (who also were down to ten men by the end)?

One can only hope not.

We looked rather jaded against the Greeks, though we’d done enough in Athens to pull us through to the quarterfinals in spite of of our North London loss (unlike those aforementioned woad-daubed marshdwellers, whose odious leader considers his squad lacking, not in defensive nous, not in goal-scoring prowess, but, he believes, in “the basics of life, which is to respect our jobs and to give everything”. Always good for a laugh, they are, and thank goodness.). Saka missing through his bad hamstring was almost as costly as Auba missing when he had pretty much the whole goal to use to score. Willian’s absence was less costly (especially to my liver, which appreciated not needing another drink seeing him strip off his warmup vest to come in to a game we should have taken by storm).

But it’s really our defense that makes me push the couch away from the wall, drag a blankie there and a bottle of Irish whisky, and decide to mute the announcers only to peep over the top of the couch through my enmeshed fingers to watch the game. Can I please ask that David Luiz not start this game? I’m not quite sure what Rob Holding did to be so abjectly dropped, but I’d really love to see Capitola Rob paired with Pablo Marí in front of the outspoken Leno in the center of defense, flanked by Cedric and our “little Scottish boy”.

The midfield is also a concern, because it seems set in stone that Xhaka will start, hopefully alongside Partey and Ødegaard. Ceballos really didn’t shine (but then, who did?) against Olympiacos, so I’d leave him on the bench. Saka should return to the right flank up front, opposite (most likely) Smith Rowe, though I hope Laca or Martinelli will get the nod over our underperforming captain. Willian, again, fortunately for my liver, faces a late fitness test. If Saka can’t start Pépé is his natural replacement.

So that’d be:


Cedric — Holding — Marí — LSB

Xhaka — Partey


Saka — Martinelli — ESR

West Ham have performed well this year under another Scotsman, David Moyes (didn’t he used to manage some club from Manchester?), who has them seven points and five places higher in the table than our beloved Arsenal. Their form over the last five is about as mixed as ours, and they lost last time out against United. We’d certainly hope to do the double over them this season, and perhaps we can get another late strike in this game to beat them as we did in September at the Grove.

They welcome back Jesse Lingard after a loan-enforced absence against that same Mancunian club, but will be missing Fornals, Ogbonna, and a few lesser-knowns. Ex-Gunner Fabianski will be in goal for them, with Diop taking over for Ogbonna alongside Dawson in a 4-2-3-1 that mirrors our own. Lanzini will be in for Fornals, and the Hammers will hope to use their pace on the flanks to get the ball to frontman Michail Antonio. We will also have to watch late runs into the box from Souček, who leads their squad so far this season in goals.

The Holics Pound

Arsenal have a few options to win, though it will depend on how you think our defense will play (and if we can get over our profligacy!) as to what you might want to pick. A 2-0 victory is available at 12/1, you can double-plus that to 25/1 for 3-0, but the real juicy punt might just be on Arsenal 3-2 West Ham, available at 33/1.

We really, really have to find a way to keep all 11 Hammers on the pitch, though. Right?


73 Drinks to “What, Me Worry?”

  1. 1
    Osakamatt says:

    A bold type prediction after an
    entertaining preview, thanks scruz.
    I was happy to see Gabi come on in
    midweek but I’d be surprised if he
    starts this one.
    Auba should get back on and remember
    he is a world class striker..
    Hopefully this is not a game too far just
    before the interlull but we have looked
    jaded recently. Get a 2-0 lead and play
    it out with minimal drama is probably a
    forlorn hope but it’s what I’d like.
    Wonder what I’ll get🤔

  2. 2
    BtM says:

    I think our inability to convert has been a bigger impediment than our ability to defend but both have contributed admirably to our current position in the League. Correct the former and we’ll win by two. I don’t think Martinelli will start but I’d love to see him enter the fray once Hammers’ legs tire.


  3. 3
    BtM says:

    Joe Willock invisible in a poor Newcastle side yesterday. Yves Bissouma continues to shine. Probably only one has the potential to play in a top 4 Arsenal team.

  4. 4
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Nice one Scruz.

    I’m unexpectedly confident. 2-0 to the good guys with Auba to score both. Unless someone else gets a third and we win 3-0.


  5. 5
    Trev says:

    Thanks scruz – nice work sir !

    We might be waiting until 28 March to lengthen our daylight hours, but I have woken up this morning to bright, if chilly, sunlight on the second or third – how does one keep track ? – day of Astronomical Spring ! No, I had never heard of it either before the weather forecast late last week, where we were also informed that we were already a week or more into Meteorological Spring ! Who said we Brits only ever talk about the weather ?

    The hope must be, with all this spring in the air, that some of it transfers into our step this afternoon against the ‘Appy ‘Ammers – a misnomer if ever I heard one. Moyes has them doing extraordinary things over there, like winning football matches, and they are not to be taken lightly – not that we are currently in a position to take anyone lightly.

    I quite like your team – Luiz is a conundrum but Holding did little wrong before being dropped. I like Mari but Gabriel has looked good of late too. Who’d be a manager, eh ?
    Like BtM, I would love to see Martinelli but don’t think he’ll start.

    A tense 2-1 victory is the most optimistic I can be.

    Come on you Yellows, dark Blues, Whites I guess this afternoon. Who knows or cares as long as we win.

  6. 6
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Excellent preview Scruz!

    Really like your team. Wish Mikel would play that frontline. He was the Everton team’s tactical heartbeat when Moyes was the manager so should be better placed in preparing against all their game plans.

    A thumping win like the old times!

    Come on Arsenal!

  7. 7
    bt8 says:

    Thanks for the preview Scruz. Trev, wishing you an astronomically short Spring and meteorologically pleasant Summer. That is a 10am kickoff where I am but having been shanghaied into puppy shopping may not be able to watch it. COYG

  8. 8
    North Bank Ned says:

    A suitably Mad preview, Scruz. A 2-0 win you could comfortably watch from, not behind your couch, would be more than acceptable, but Trev might be closer to the mark with a tense 2-1.

    And if anyone cares, astronomical v meteorological spring:

    Next up: Astronomical v nautical v civil twilight…

  9. 9
    Esso says:

    Cheers Scruz!

  10. 10
    bt8 says:

    Hope you are right about Holding Scruz, he is in my fantasy team mostly because many other players aren’t playing this week. If the Capitola magic hasn’t worn off he could return a good score.

  11. 11
    Countryman100 says:

    Nice one Scruz! I think we are second favourites in this one and have been outplayed in our last three games against the Irons. However they had a touch of the Thursday nights in all those games and couldn’t score from good chances, especially Antonio, so we can expect a hat trick from him. Who knows what to expect from our maddeningly inconsistent but beloved team?

  12. 12
    TTG says:

    Another excellent preview Scruz. You are in top form and I hope we are too .
    BUT you have committed an error that would have you shunned by several of my Irish friends who are connoisseurs of Bushmills and Jameson’s ( as am I) . Irish Whiskey must have the E added or they get very exercised .
    Back to football and Btm nails it as he so often does . It’s our finishing that is our major deficiency although I’m not wild about midfield ( and give me Bissouma over the very basic Joe Willock every time ) . If we finish well we have a chance but West Ham are real candidates for Champions League and we will do well to draw

  13. 13
    bathgooner says:

    Good stuff, scruz. However your team selection, though tasty, strikes me as unlikely to start.

    I think MA8, like Steve T, feels that, despite his propensity to much highlighted brain farts (no more than most defenders I have seen tbf), Luiz provides a level of defensive organisation that is not seen in his absence. Thus I expect Luiz rather than Holding to start. Gabriel also has the edge over Marì and needs game time though the quality margin is smaller so Marì may get the call this time. I think the midfield starters will be as you predict.

    However I suspect only ESR of your favoured forward line may get the call though he looked knackered when he came off on Thursday and is more likely to get a rest on the bench. I also think Saka will continue his recovery and Martinelli to join from the bench in the second half. I expect Auba to be told to find his shooting boots and to play from the left with Pépé on the right and Laca linking things in the centre.

    2-1 to the good guys would be nice but I expect a scrap in the time honoured tradition of the streets around Upton Park.

  14. 14
    Esso says:

    Leno, Chambers, Luiz, Mari, Tierney, Xhaka, Partey, Odegaard, Saka, Aubameyang, Lacazette

    Subs: Ryan, Cedric, Holding, Gabriel, Elneny, Ceballos, Smith Rowe, Pepe, Martinelli

  15. 15
    TTG says:

    Why does he pick Luiz in EVERY game? ESR was due to start for Kentish Magicians today and I take a dim view of his omission! COYG

  16. 16
    bt8 says:

    Very interesting team selection. Cresswell v. Chambers, if that is indeed the key matchup I spotted in that selection, could be vital to the outcome but if Saka is in front of Chambers the equation could be a bit more in our favor.

  17. 17
    Countryman100 says:

    Chambers an interesting selection. As against Burnley, there to counter the aerial threat? ESR and Martinelli to come on second half? I would have preferred Martinelli for Laca but let’s see.

  18. 18
    Osakamatt says:

    well no guessed Calum at RB again
    but apart from that it is as close to
    as expected though no Gabi ESR or
    Pepe in the starting XI. It is a side to
    score goals however so 3-0 works
    for me.

  19. 19
    BtM says:

    TTG, Nix the red cards (I know!) and Luiz stats are strong. Rob Holding is less of a red card merchant but less confident playing out from the back – now the bluest part of the blueprint for the future. I like the team and expect to see Martinelli for Laca around 60 mins.

  20. 20
    gedo says:

    C’mon boys three points

  21. 21
    scruzgooner says:

    cheers all, i appreciate it. not dissatisfied with the team chosen, interesting bellerín has not even made the bench in such an important game. good for chambers, please reward ma8’s faith! laca in the esr role, i wonder if he will show something or the playmaker in him today. and i understand the attraction of luiz, let’s just hope they stay with 11 men and the clown car stays in the garage.


  22. 22
    Countryman100 says:

    Four crosses into our box in first 10 minutes. Slow start.

  23. 23
    Countryman100 says:

    That was coming

  24. 24
    ksn says:

    It is all West Ham so far and we are defending as if we are the clear under dogs. Going to be a tough day.
    Interesting preview, Scruzgooner, but, on current evidence, it will be a lot tighter than your prediction though I hope you are proved right and we win.
    We are down through a Lingard hit.
    1-0. West Ham look good.

  25. 25
    ksn says:

    No one closed down Lingard and he had time and space to take his shot.
    We are two down now as we switched off and they took their free kick fast and Bowen converted.

  26. 26
    Countryman100 says:

    Leno way at fault there

  27. 27
    Countryman100 says:

    Scruz’s 33-1 shot on now.

  28. 28
    Steve T says:

    Absolutely shocking defending on both goals. Embarrassing start.

    No one closing Lingard down for the first? Where were Xhaka and Partey? Daydreaming.

    The second??? Even more embarrassing. Schoolboy errors.

    We need to wake up and fast. This is dreadful. A total shambles.

  29. 29
    ksn says:

    We are playing like a pub team and very slow and ponderous in passing. Won’t unlock any defence with this sort of attack.

  30. 30
    Steve T says:

    Spot on Ksn. It’s just dreadful all over the pitch. 2 yards too slow and rudderless.

    Our movement off the ball is non existent

  31. 31
    Steve T says:

    It’s clueless. We are playing as if we’ve selected a team of 11 strangers.

  32. 32
    Steve T says:

    Fucking embarrassing beyond belief.

    Come mr bright young manager, sort this shit out. You prepare this garbage, you give them a game plan, you select the starting 11? Let’s see how good you are because at the moment, this is totally inexcusable.

  33. 33
    ksn says:

    Being ripped apart by the Hammers, 3-0 now. Our worst start in recent memory.

  34. 34
    Steve T says:

    Great finish Laca. About bloody time.

  35. 35
    Countryman100 says:

    Actually it was missing comfortably and went in off the defender

  36. 36
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    @4. GSD knows.


  37. 37
    Steve T says:

    Dreadful half. I must admit I’m getting really frustrated with these types of performances. We are so slow, Our movement off the ball of non existent and we are playing as if we have never played together before. We have no presence in the middle of the park. We are yards off the pace and quite frankly, there is no excuse for any of it. If this was a one off type performance then you could put it down to a bad day in the office. But it’s not. It happens all too often at the moment and Arteta needs to start asking done serious questions. He might want to start with himself, and then with those he has deemed fit to put the shirt on.

    There needs to be a massive improvement in the second half, starting with their attitude.

  38. 38
    Potsticker says:

    Good time to be puppy shopping.

  39. 39
    bt8 says:

    In the car on the way to puppy shopping, Pot Sticker., but following all your comments. Your particular comment had passed through my mind though.

  40. 40
    ksn says:

    3-2. Own goal off some very good play by us, especially by Odegaard and Chambers.
    Game on.

  41. 41
    Steve T says:

    Great strike by Dawson

    2 own goals to get us back in the game tells you everything

  42. 42
    Steve T says:

    I agree Ksn. Odegaard and Chambers have jointly been our best players so far by some distance.

  43. 43
    ksn says:

    We almost went 4-2 down but KT got a foot in and diverted Antonio’s shot out for a corner. This is turning into some game.

  44. 44
    Steve T says:

    Excellent ball into the middle from Chambers, but absolutely no one there……

  45. 45
    ksn says:

    ESR coming on for Xhaka, surprise, surprise. Pepe coming on for Saka.
    Some more hara kiri play by us almost resulting in a goal for them. Do we ever learn.

  46. 46
    ksn says:

    One more terrible shot by Partey.
    Antonio hits the post. Lucky us.

  47. 47
    ksn says:

    Absolutely, Steve T, expected Auba to be there but was disappointed to see him missing.

  48. 48
    ksn says:

    Whatever the result, Arteta has to answer why we have patches of the game where we are abject like at the start today.
    Auba off, Gabi on.

  49. 49
    ksn says:

    Get in!!!! Laca from a fine pass by Pepe.

  50. 50
    ksn says:

    What a pass by Pepe, he laid it on Laca’s head.

  51. 51
    Steve T says:

    Martinelli. At long last.

    6 goals and we are finally on the score sheet.

  52. 52
    ksn says:

    Rice almost runs the entire distance from his box to ours and just couldn’t convert. End to end.

  53. 53
    ksn says:

    Odegaard is some player. He has run our midfield and the commentators acknowledge it by calling his play silky. Deserved.

  54. 54
    Steve T says:

    Odegaard and Chambers have both had good games ksn.

  55. 55
    ksn says:

    Free kick to be defended in the last minute. Done.
    It ends 3-3.
    Showed some character and lots of sloppiness.

  56. 56
    ksn says:

    Agree, Odegaard my Man of match, closely followed by Chambers. Pepe came on and made a difference. Saka played well but missed a great chance by hitting straight at the goalie. Laca had a good game.
    Our defence have a lot to answer today and to be taken off guard by a quick free kick and leaving Lingard free in the box were kindergarten stuff. Partey had a decent game but needs to improve his long range shooting. Leno had a poor game and should have saved their second goal.
    The way we started and went three down, we were primed for a creaming but showed lots of character and self belief to snatch a draw.
    For West Ham it must seem like a defeat.

  57. 57
    North Bank Ned says:

    The positives are salvaging a draw after being three goals down. The negatives are what led us to be three down in the first place.

    Credit to West Ham’s work off the ball; everyone behind it when they did not have it. Threw a wet blanket over our attempt to play through the midfield, especially in the first half. It showed what we lose when ESR is not on the field.

    Ødegaard was impressive and Chambers and Laca did well. KT3’s arse made a crucial deflection late on. Auba anonymous again.

  58. 58
    OsakaMatt says:

    Seemed a game too far in the first half as I feared but we showed great heart to come back from 3-0 down. Huge credit for that to the players and the manager too.
    Of course we would then have to talk about how we went 3-0 down.

  59. 59
    Steve T says:

    Having come back from 3 down you should be satisfied with a point, but I must say that I’m really not. The first half was as abysmal as I can remember, and there’s been some crap this season. The first half was just so pedestrian and Arteta is the only one who can answer why that was.

    I have real concern about the centre midfield. I think Partey will come good eventually, but at the moment he looks cumbersome and unfit. Xhaka just isn’t good enough. He slows the play down so much and offers us nothing. The current void at centre mid costs us and sets the tone for the whole game.

    Their three goals were all avoidable. Two of ours were OG’s. We should have gone into that game looking to get three points. In the end, we were fortunate to get one.

    Massive improvement in our work rate and attitude required.

  60. 60
    OsakaMatt says:

    Steve T @ 32 & 37
    Curious to know what you think at the end of the game?
    Understandably furious at 3-0 down but doesn’t seem much credit for a gutsy display after that.

  61. 61
    Steve T says:

    See above Matt.

    The first half was shocking and we’ve scored once in a six goal thriller???

    Impressed? No, I’m not Matt. We are 9th in the table and we are 9th because we have had far too many performances like that.

  62. 62
    OsakaMatt says:

    Steve T
    Hadn’t seen your 59 as I was busy slowly tapping out 60😆
    Anyway, ok of course as we think differently and 59 laid out your point clearly enough for even me to get

  63. 63
    Steve T says:

    Matt. I take your point and would be more inclined to agree if this was a one off. But it’s not. It happens all too often. That’s why we are stuck in mid table and not challenging near the top.

    Sorry but I really can’t think of an excuse for that first half performance. Or many others like it this season.

  64. 64
    North Bank Ned says:

    We did look a lot sharper from the 74th minute onwards, the one where ESR replaced Xhaka.

    It would be interesting to see how a Partey-Ødegaard pivot would work out. I wonder if we would lose too much creativity just behind the attack with the Norweigan playing deeper. But we’d gain in speed of though in springing attacks.

  65. 65
    BtM says:

    Really poor first 35. Excellent stuff thereafter. Should have scored six. Worst miss was Saka’s immediately after Laca scored our first but Pepe should have scored a couple. Odegaard is a real talent. MoTM by a mile.

    Wet Spam were lucky they didn’t play a tough game on Thursday night.

  66. 66
    Steve T says:

    Watching the Bergkamp10 show on Sky. How lucky were we to have such a player. Genuinely world class. We played with a midfield duo of Petit and Vieira??? If only…

    Did we have a tough game in midweek BtM? I must say, I don’t remember too many of our players over exerting themselves???

  67. 67
    BtM says:

    Some ridiculous performances today – Lacazette’s flicks and goals, Odegaard’s through balls and dribbles, and of course Chambers with his crosses. It is truly amazing to see what kind of football this team is capable of playing if they put their minds to it.

  68. 68
    Steve T says:

    Huge huge IF though BtM? As they say, if your auntie had bollocks, she’d be your uncle.

    If only we didn’t treat certain half’s of certain games as still part of the warm up?

    If only????? Should be our new club moto???

  69. 69
    BtM says:

    Ha, Steve, you always leave me laughing. You can choose to paddle in poo or swim in the crystal blue waters of the Carib. Latter for me every time.

    BTW, if my Aunt Fanny had bollocks she’d probably have two golden boots this season playing as our No 9 based on the golden chances she would have taken that Auba, Laca, Pepe have missed 🙂

  70. 70
    BtM says:

    And in passing, as a long time non-enthusiast and occasional critic of Le Grove, I thought their Master v Apprentice piece hit the spot today. Who ever would have thought it?

  71. 71
    TTG says:

    Quite right .
    Peter Wood often hits the spot but it’s the idiots on the comments who don’t .
    I enjoyed the comeback today .When they went 3-0 up I would have probably signed a piece of paper giving them a 4-0 win ( if only I had that power ). They must realise that we are a much better side than them and they are having their season in aeons. But we were appalling in our attitude and defensive diligence in the first 32 minutes

  72. 72
    Steve T says:

    If only I had your blinkers BtM. Are they still available?

    I’m surprised no ones has blamed the officials yet? Surely that a standard response for a performance like that???


  73. 73
    scruzgooner says: