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Well, dearest Gooners, here we go again.

Once more we face a make-or-break match. If we do not make it through this tie, then the rest of the season will surely fizzle out as we scrap about to finish in the top half of the league. If we get past Villareal then we will have a European final on the horizon and a possible route into the Champion’s League. The stakes could not be higher.

Of course, we have the added intrigue of facing Unai Emery, our erstwhile boss. Last Wednesday, for the first time ever, he pleased us all with his natural caution, getting his Coq out just when it looked as though an attacking second half from the men in yellow might well put this tie beyond us. Fortunately, he let us off the hook, and Pepe’s penalty gave us an away goal, and a mere one goal deficit, that gives us genuine hope of turning them over back at our place.

The problem for us fans is the same as it has been all season – we have no idea whether we will play a blinder like we did in the second leg of the last round against Slavia, a stinker with one more frantic jamming of the self-destruct button thrown in, or just another lacklustre horseshoe passing masterclass that sees us limp out without really giving it a go.

The problems for Arteta are slightly different. He must resist trying to out-think Emery, a man whose tactical vision is impossible to counter simply because it as incomprehensible as a VAR offside call.

(Incidentally, I have heard on the prehistoric grapevine that Emery only accepted the Villareal job after rejecting an offer from the PGMOL to be their Official VAR Spokesman, a link between referees and the outside world with responsibility for explaining all their decisions. When he made himself unavailable, they left the post unfilled as no other candidate had the necessary ability to speak for an entire interview without saying anything anyone could understand. Mike Dean was apparently furious – he had desperately wanted to be a ‘protaganist’.)

Our boss said after the first game that “we’re still alive” but that was no thanks to his choice to play ESR as a false 9. I am a fan of Arteta’s, but he got that badly wrong, and there will be a lot of eyes on the selection and the tactics tomorrow. Quite rightly so. He really did get away with one last week and may well consider himself lucky. This week he would be best not to rely on being lucky again, and instead show everyone something that many of us suspect, but that he has not provided enough consistent evidence for – namely, that he is good. (If he proves to be both then we are going places, folks!)

Make no mistakes, if we play well, then we can expect to win this. We have, on the whole, better players than they do, and when we ‘go full gas’ we are capable of looking like a pretty good side. Not a great one, but well capable of beating this Villareal team. So, the boss must play to get our attacking players not only into the game but dictating it. Statistically, our defence is doing okay this season, but few of us will be anywhere but behind the sofa if we are playing to defend a 1-0 lead with ten minutes to go.

Of course, when the final whistle sounds, a hard-fought 1-0 to The Arsenal that takes us through the tie would have a nice resonance to it after the last time we played them in a European semi-final. Especially if they miss a penalty! But until the whistle we’d all be having kittens.


Villareal played Getafe at the weekend, winning 1-0 after a goal from Pino, assisted by Grigio. They will be without Foyth, who sustained a hamstring injury against us, but have everyone else from the last game fit to choose from. I expect Emery will set them up similarly to last week (although he and Arteta give each other a run for their money in the ‘least predictable lineup/tactics’ stakes). He is already bricking it at the thought of facing Auba, who he describes as ‘a killer’, so we will have to see if he makes defensive changes to counter him.

Moreno, Trigueros and Chukwueze will all be looking to inflict more damage on us, knowing how crucial away goals could prove. Alcacer will want to create decisive chances, after his half-time withdrawal last week gave us a way back into the tie. We may expect to see Coquelin from the start after Capoue saw red last time out. Unfortunately for him, and all of us, he won’t be getting an appreciative round of applause from the home fans.

The Arsenal

Quite how Arteta decides to go about coaxing one of our good displays from this team remains to be seen. I am assuming that Auba will start. Certainly, we need to start a striker. (Surely he will do so this time?) If the captain is not deemed fit to start, then Martinelli would be my, and most people’s, choice to replace him.

The possibility of a return for KT3 has been dangled temptingly before us but I expect that he will not be quite up to speed. No matter how good he is, playing him when he is not fully fit will not help us, as his game relies on his capacity to get up and down the flank.

Ceballos is out (not necessarily a problem given how his Europa form has been, but it may trigger that most Arteta of things – a tactical reshuffle) so we could see Mo ‘Goal Machine’ Elneny replace him in midfield, unless Xhaka starts there and Cedric or Tierney play left-back. Before Dani’s red, I would have been surprised if Arteta abandoned Xhaka at LB having given him so much game time there since Tierney’s injury. However, the left side of midfield will be an important tactical call. Ceballos will not be drifting into that space from CM to help Xhaka, so if Elneny is not seen as someone who can play Dani’s hybrid central/left role, then might Cedric slot in at left back? That would free up the Swiss to push into central midfield where, in a sign of our lack of depth, we have missed him.

That decision will directly impact whether it is Gabigol, Pepe or ESR who gets the nod as the left sided player in our front three, where the role required will depend on who is playing left back. Lots of moving parts, lots for the boss to chew on.

If Luiz is fit, he will start. If not, it will probably be Holding, but Chambers got some CB minutes against Newcastle, so it might be him. Unai would not see that coming!

Gabriel will play. Unless Mari does instead.

At RB it will be Chambers. Or Bellerin. Or, ironically out of left-field, it might be Cedric. So, that clears that up.

In attacking midfield positions we have a full compliment of Saka, ESR, Odegaard, Pepe and Martinelli to choose from (on my final re-read of this I noticed I forgot about Willian – I hope the boss has too). Lacazette appears to be fit but I think he will start on the bench with Eddie.

Despite some dodgy form from Leno, and Ryan looking very solid, I think we will see the German in goal. If he does face a penalty, he must channel his Inner Jens.

Finally, Partey will start in central midfield. That is the only player/position combo that I’ll stick my neck on the line with!

So, with no confidence whatsoever…


Bellerin, Luiz, Gabriel, Cedric

Partey, Xhaka

Saka, Odegaard, ESR


If that is the starting line up, then all I can say is that I hope my score prediction is as accurate!

The Holics’ Pound


Predict this?


The bookies are not offering great value here, and frankly I’d keep your hand in your pocket, or perhaps spend it in the off-licence to help you get through this one.

However, for those so inclined, William Hill will give you 7/1 for a 1-0 to The Arsenal, and 12/1 for a 3-1 win if you don’t fancy us to keep a clean sheet. I quite like the sound of 2-0, so that is what I am plumping for, but 8/1 seems pretty skinny. As always, you will be able to find similar, but possibly better, odds from other providers.

This is a big match. In a surreal season that has been like no other I am almost comforted that the nerves have well and truly settled in for this one.

Nothing can be taken for granted. Like so much surrounding the club right now, it is all up in the air.

But what is not in question is that we will all be cheering our boys on tonight!

This season we never stood a chance of repeating our heroic Double of fifty years ago. But it would be one hell of a way to celebrate that historic achievement by giving ourselves a chance at making a new piece of history in Poland.

Go win, Arsenal.

Victoria Concordia Crescit


If you haven’t yet watched our exclusive video of Bob Wilson and Pat Rice’s conversation about the ’70-71 League Campaign, click on the image below (or on the Youtube link below that) to watch

“Episode One: We Won the League at White Hart Lane”

Or, watch here:  Episode One: We Won the League at White Hart Lane (on Youtube). This is especially helpful if you’re having any loading issues with the link to the one the site is serving above.

For the fans’ perspective of that historic campaign, click the image below to read our recently published blog. And, as well as sharing your own reminiscences about that famous night at the Lane, do let us know what you think of Episode 1 of The Conversation in the Drinks!


We are also pleased to remind you that our auction of signed 1970-71 Double memorabilia is now open for bids! For full information, please visit The Double/Willow Auction tab above. 

Just a taste…the lots offered are as follows:

Lot 1: A 1971 Cup Final replica shirt signed by Bob Wilson, Pat Rice, Frank McLintock, George Graham & Charlie George.

Lot 2: A 1971 Cup Final programme signed by Bob Wilson, Pat Rice, Frank McLintock, George Graham & Charlie George.

Lot 3: A second 1971 Cup Final programme signed by Bob Wilson, Pat Rice, Frank McLintock, George Graham & Charlie George.

Lot 4: Bob Wilson’s autobiography, ‘Behind the Network’ signed by Bob Wilson & Arsène Wenger.

All proceeds from the auction go to the Willow Foundation.

185 Drinks to “Mutt’s Nuts or Dog’s Dinner?”

  1. 1
    Countryman100 says:

    That, my fine green friend, is one hell of a preview! Squeaky bum time indeed.

  2. 2
    TTG says:

    Great preview GSD
    No one has a scooby about the team , the level of performance or the likely result . I cling to the wreckage of two all English finals moved to Wembley . I don’t think we’ve ever lost to United at Wembley ? ( Ned?)
    2-0 to the Arsenal…definitely..maybe

  3. 3
    Countryman100 says:

    I never had you as an Oasis fan TTG!

  4. 4
    bt8 says:

    Masterful and fun, GSD. Your tortuous team selection process may have channeled your inner Unai but I do like the team you picked in the end. 😆. It is a big game indeed and we need the fates to be on our side. COYG

  5. 5
    Uplympian says:

    Excellent stuff GSD.
    Like my friends above we’ve given up on predicting the team or performance – it varies so much week to week. The manager and players are fully aware of the importance to win this and go through to the final – let’s hope we get the good performance tonight.
    A stiff drink or 2 will be required to see me through it this evening – let’s make it an aperitif to a full celebratory session starting around 10 pm this evening. COYR

  6. 6
    Bathgooner says:

    An excellent preview under the most unpredictable conditions. Neither the entrails of a sacrificed chicken, tea leaves, a crystal ball nor an unexpected flight of a comet will help us to predict either MA8’s selection, the mood of the team or the form of certain players. As the good Steve T has oft’ observed this season, “We just don’t know which Arsenal will turn up!”

    Tonight is indeed either the Mutt’s Nuts or the Dog’s Dinner. As your unused caption sums up, “It’s in our hands now!” (Captions don’t seem to be an option on embedded images.) We cannot either look for portents or extraneous scapegoats.

    As a certain bard observed (J.C. I, ii, 139-141):

    “Men at some time are masters of their fates.
    The fault…is not in our stars,
    But in ourselves…”

    Remember who you are, what you are and who you represent.
    Go win, Arsenal.
    Make the heroes of 1970-71 proud.

  7. 7
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Excellent preview GSD!
    If KT isn’t fit enough to start and be relied upon for 90 minutes I would like to see Saka in the left back, Xhaka in left side of midfield, ESR on the inside left forward and Pépé on the right wing. Saka and ESR have a great understanding and in the limited time Martin and Pépé played together Ødegaard have shown he knows very well how to best make use of Pépé’s strength.
    Hoping for a 4-1 to the mighty gunners!
    Come on Arsenal!

  8. 8
    Trev says:

    Nice one, GSD !

    I hope we get the dog’s dinner – that should help us Winalot !

    I’ll fetch it now – my coat, that is 😉

  9. 9
    North Bank Ned says:

    Excellent, GSD. The Emery/VAR paragraph alone is worth the price of admission.

    TTG@2: Charity Shield, 1993, although lost on penalties. As mentioned before, we’ve never won a European tie against another English team.

    Trev@8: You’re barking.

  10. 10
    Osakamatt says:

    Great stuff GSD.
    I’d give Xhaka’s right arm for a
    fast start, early goals and a nice
    4-0 win again.
    But I guess an ultra tense 1-0 to
    The Arsenal will have to do

  11. 11
    scruzgooner says:

    any way it happens, i’m preparing the space behind the couch to watch from.

    well done, dino.


  12. 12
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Cheers all!

    I’m glad you liked that bit Ned! I thought we needed a bit of levity because this is as tense as I’ve been before a match all year.

    Who put all the extra hours in today, eh? How is it not 8pm yet?

  13. 13
    ksn says:

    Congratulations to everyone involved in conceptualising and bringing out the two episodes to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of our double winning year, 1970-71. The interview with Bob Wilson and Pat Rice was good but especially enjoyed reading the interview with the then young gunners and their experiences on the match day at White Hart Lane.
    I enjoyed the preview and the team you picked, GSD but would like to give Pepe/Martinelli a start by playing Saka at left back. It is necessary to win to keep interest alive in this season and with so much at stake it will be a tough watch. COYG.

  14. 14
    Esso says:

    Cheers GSD!


  15. 15
    Esso says:

    Arsenal: Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Mari, Xhaka, Partey, Saka, Smith Rowe, Odegaard, Pepe, Aubameyang

    Subs: Ryan, Okonkwo, Tierney, Gabriel, Cedric, Chambers, Willian, Nelson, Lacazette, Nketiah, Martinelli

  16. 16
    ksn says:

    Arteta is stubborn, looks like he will keep playing Xhaka at left back.

  17. 17
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:


    Either Xhaka playing left back and ESR dropping into a CM role, or Saka at LB and Xhaka in midfield.

  18. 18
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Saka, ESR, Odegaard, Pepe and Auba all start. Arteta ain’t being cautious in this one!

  19. 19
    Silly Second Yella says:

    Come on you overpaid mugs!

  20. 20
    Tapera Doma says:

    MA & his lineup!! OMG

  21. 21
    Esso says:

    One for Mikel. If we lose. Big IF

  22. 22
    John Matthews Legend says:

    Allo allo from France.
    Squeeky bum time….
    Therein lies the depth of my analysis!

  23. 23
    Countryman100 says:

    Oh to be there tonight. Place would have been rocking. Come on you Gunners!

  24. 24
    Steve T says:

    Cheers GSD

    Please don’t let be Xhaka playing at left back again????

  25. 25
    bt8 says:

    Okonkwo first sub? All shall be revealed. COYG

  26. 26
    Countryman100 says:

    Someone on our team has crocked Xhaka so KT3 is playing.

    Well played that man but let’s hope Kieran holds up.

  27. 27
    Countryman100 says:

    Partey evidently

  28. 28
    Countryman100 says:

    Not the same ref as last week. Good. He was pony.

  29. 29
    scruzgooner says:

    holding and marí in central defense. come on boys.

  30. 30
    scruzgooner says:

    kt3 vs gaspar will be telling.

  31. 31
    ksn says:

    Xhaka injured so KT in for him. Is that a sign?

  32. 32
    scruzgooner says:

    a corner off le coq.

  33. 33
    scruzgooner says:

    what is hector doing with his passes?

  34. 34
    Countryman100 says:

    I’d like to see us a bit more vertical with the passing.

  35. 35
    Osakamatt says:

    Nervy start so far
    Leno header

  36. 36
    Countryman100 says:

    Very very nervy on both sides.

  37. 37
    Countryman100 says:

    Dangerous free kick here.

  38. 38
    Countryman100 says:

    Danger averted.

  39. 39
    ksn says:

    Auba hits the post!

  40. 40
    Countryman100 says:

    Auba hits the post!

  41. 41
    Countryman100 says:

    So good we said it twice ksn!

  42. 42
    Osakamatt says:

    unlucky Auba

  43. 43
    Countryman100 says:

    Sniper in the West Stand deadly accurate against their best forward

  44. 44
    ksn says:

    Chukwueze is leaving the field on a stretcher.

  45. 45
    gedo says:

    Handbrake off please

  46. 46
    bt8 says:

    Auba is just warming up

  47. 47
    Countryman100 says:

    Chukwueze. Karen Carey says he’s their best player so it must be so.

  48. 48
    Osakamatt says:

    not sure what but chukwueze
    stretchered off, unlucky for him

  49. 49
    Steve T says:

    We seem a bit disjointed. I have no idea why. Not as if we keep making loads of changes every week?

    We need to up the intensity levels.

  50. 50
    Countryman100 says:

    This keeper’s dodgy.

  51. 51
    ksn says:

    Mari almost deflects one into own goal! Close call.

  52. 52
    Osakamatt says:

    Auba shot and nearly a howler,
    then nearly a Marí own goal.
    Struggling to impose ourselves
    in a tense first half

  53. 53
    ksn says:

    They are technically the better players. They are keeping possession effortlessly and passing the ball smoothly all over the field, but we are, as is our wont, passing it sideways and backward and are not penetrative at all.
    Half time 0-0. Auba has come closest to breaking the tie.

  54. 54
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Albiol is a fucking disgrace. To mangle a phrase, if he had balls he could be someone’s uncle.

  55. 55
    Steve T says:

    A bit of a lacklustre first half. We need to be a lot shaper second half. It’s all to easy for them at the moment.

    I feel we are going to need more than one shot on target in the second half.

  56. 56
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Interesting to see Hector push on and KT3 hang back much more than usual. Must be an instruction to stop him getting knackered by half time.

  57. 57
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    I’m of the opinion that a first half without conceding is more important than scoring. We definitely need to create more in the second half. Lets hope we build pressure on them.

  58. 58
    Osakamatt says:

    Big 2nd half please, please, please

  59. 59
    scruzgooner says:

    wonder how arteta’s ht talk went…

  60. 60
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Come on Arsenal!

  61. 61
    scruzgooner says:

    just one goal, by us, after 85 minutes of keeping a clean sheet… please, if nothing else will see us through.

  62. 62
    Tapera Doma says:

    Please, please Pepe out, Gabriel Martinelli in NOW for the last 45 minutes!!!!!!!!!!!

  63. 63
    Steve T says:

    I very much agree with the comments of Martin Keown at half time.

  64. 64
    Countryman100 says:

    Good stuff from Kieran and Pepe. Just wide.

  65. 65
    Countryman100 says:

    We’re getting closer. This keeper is so dodgy.

  66. 66
    ksn says:

    ESR hits one narrowly wide.

  67. 67
    scruzgooner says:

    pepe in a clash of heads

  68. 68
    gedo says:

    C’mon guys let’s go, fight through this

  69. 69
    Steve T says:

    Partey is having a decent game in midfield, but is really suffering having to play CM by himself? I have no idea what the thought process is there?

    Does Bellerin actually know what position he’s meant to be playing in???

  70. 70
    Tapera Doma says:

    Martinelli where are you??

  71. 71
    ksn says:

    Both Odegaard and Marie down.

  72. 72
    Steve T says:

    The shape is all wrong for me. We are getting overrun in the middle of the park.

  73. 73
    ksn says:

    I don’t know why Arteta doesn’t rate Martinelli. Now he is coming on for Odegaard.

  74. 74
    Countryman100 says:

    Gabigol comes on.

  75. 75
    scruzgooner says:

    hector has lost his precision, and his touch.

  76. 76
    ksn says:

    They are managing the game very well.

  77. 77
    scruzgooner says:

    “so boys, let them pass around the ball, and in the 80th minute start pressing hard. we’ll make no mistakes and get our goal.”

    that might be the strategy?

  78. 78
    ksn says:

    Villarreal are not attacking but keeping the ball very well and when they don’t have the ball they put press really well. Come on!

  79. 79
    Tapera Doma says:

    22 minutes to go. Where is the drive & desire?

  80. 80
    Sancho Panza says:

    One goal is all we need. C’mon boys show some urgency.

  81. 81
    scruzgooner says:


    Laca for?

  82. 82
    ksn says:

    Holding heads one just out.

  83. 83
    Steve T says:

    We need to go up two gears here.

  84. 84
    Tapera Doma says:

    Laca for Pepe or Saka @ this point.

  85. 85
    scruzgooner says:

    oooh, god. getting closer…

  86. 86
    Sancho Panza says:

    They are not exactly hanging on are they!

  87. 87
    scruzgooner says:

    steve@83, maybe laca will bring that…

  88. 88
    scruzgooner says:


  89. 89
    Sancho Panza says:


  90. 90
    Countryman100 says:

    Oh good. Willian.

  91. 91
    Sancho Panza says:


  92. 92
    Countryman100 says:

    How fucking unlucky was that?

  93. 93
    Tapera Doma says:

    Willian!! Are you serious???

  94. 94
    ksn says:

    Arteta is waking up as Laca and Willian get ready to come on.
    Auba hits the post again. Unlucky.

  95. 95
    scruzgooner says:

    willian is going to redeem his season here. please.

  96. 96
    ksn says:

    Auba and Tierney off. COYG.

  97. 97
    scruzgooner says:

    great ball hector. best of the night. unlucky.

  98. 98
    Tapera Doma says:

    Did he just take Auba out?

  99. 99
    scruzgooner says:

    three at the back? or saka back?

  100. 100
    scruzgooner says:

    he did, tapera.

  101. 101
    Esso says:

    This is fucking dreadful.

  102. 102
    Tapera Doma says:

    Scruz, that was my sarcasm.

  103. 103
    scruzgooner says:

    death by a thousand cuts, esso.

  104. 104
    scruzgooner says:

    sorry, td. i missed the emoji 🙂

  105. 105
    Sancho Panza says:

    Have to pile on the pressure now.

  106. 106
    scruzgooner says:

    and my small running body of water dries up.

  107. 107
    ksn says:

    Martinelli is the only one with energy.

  108. 108
    Steve T says:

    We need to stop giving away stupid free kicks.

  109. 109
    Sancho Panza says:

    C’mon 2 mins.

  110. 110
    Steve T says:

    1 attempt on target all night??????

  111. 111
    Sancho Panza says:

    Drifting away now.

  112. 112
    scruzgooner says:

    a yellow for that?

  113. 113
    Sancho Panza says:

    Nil fucking nil. Last minute.

  114. 114
    Tapera Doma says:

    I am sick

  115. 115
    scruzgooner says:

    so it looks like we miss out on europe next year, first time in a quarter century. boy, we’ve had that aspect of things good.


  116. 116
    Sancho Panza says:

    Load of shit.

  117. 117
    ksn says:

    No team which back or sideways passes so much as we do, deserves to win.
    Arteta doesn’t look like the answer, unfortunately. No creative play, no penetration, clueless sums up this team against quality opposition.

    We are out to a better team.

  118. 118
    Cynic says:

    Absolute dogshit.

    Rafa Benitez please.

  119. 119
    Sancho Panza says:

    Better team through. Good luck to them.

  120. 120
    ksn says:

    Villa real had luck today as all the close calls went their way.

  121. 121
    Sancho Panza says:

    Trudging off looking into the ground. Bunch of weaklings.

  122. 122
    gedo says:

    Time to blow it up

  123. 123
    Cynic says:

    First leg he picks a team with no striker, this leg he picks half a midfield and spends the whole game on Partey’s back ordering him about. Clueless manager.

    Obssessed with Willian, who was a pointless sub, but that’s the least of the problems.

    The only thing about tonight that really surprised me was keeping a clean sheet.

  124. 124
    Sancho Panza says:

    Have to make your own luck not sit on your arse waiting for a mistake.

  125. 125
    Osakamatt says:

    Unlucky in hitting the post twice,
    just not good enough on the night.

  126. 126
    Steve T says:

    Utter shite. One shot on target all night. Expecting Partey to run the midfield on his own? Shit selection and shit tactics. Arteta has cocked up yet again. Far to many times now for the brightest young manager the world has ever seen.

    Someone please explain to me how we are currently better off than we were Emery?

    We were poor in both games and I’m done with the excuses.

  127. 127
    Sancho Panza says:

    So no European football next season.

  128. 128
    Steve T says:

    Cynic@123. Agree totally

  129. 129
    depressedgooner says:

    Arteta is sadly not the answer, our biggest game in a hell of a long time and we manage one shot on target, I thought we did not deserve to win and it was true, I’ve never felt so down about an Arsenal manager, its not just about winning but about the way you play and he is far too naive and set in his ways, we are not a defensive play it out from the back team yet and persisting with it has killed the attacking formation we were actually pretty decent with, when was the last time we were the rip roaring free scoring never boring Arsenal?

  130. 130
    North Bank Ned says:

    Dog’s dinner, it was.
    I just hope Villareal stuff the Mancs.

  131. 131
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    We weren’t good enough tonight.

    Partey had to play midfield by himself. The second option was Xhaka, who got injured. I don’t think anyone is seriously gonna argue that if Arteta had played Elneny we would have created more?

    Odegaard and ESR flitted about but they offered no reliable positioning for Partey to work with. It is hard to build pressure without a solid midfield, and it was central pressure we needed to build today.

    Not a good night for Arteta but not a terrible one. Give any top manager only one decent central midfielder and see how they do.
    And we were unlucky to hit the post twice (which are not shots on target but are a lot closer to a goal than any of Villareal’s shots on target.)

    All that said, I end where I started. We were not good enough tonight. Add that to last week where we were really poor (and that one was much more Arteta’s fault) and we were nowhere near good enough to win a tie against a side we would have loved to play in a European semifinal.

    The haters will be out in force tonight. Tough times ahead Gooners.

  132. 132
    Tapera Doma says:

    Where was the drive & desire? Substitutions – get them right boss.

  133. 133
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Oops. I was wrong.

    As I typed people were already bemoaning the lack of Elneny.

  134. 134
    Cynic says:

    Had enough of this “project”. Trying to play like Man City with mid table players.

    Sold the wrong keeper (had to get that one in) 🙂

    Spent £40m+ on a centre back who can’t get into the team (and I don’t blame him for not picking him incidentally)

    Signed Willian (had to get that in as well)

    Hardly bothers with Martinelli until he needs miracles.

    Tactically abject. Long balls dangerous first half but what do we do? Constantly give it to the first man in the chain. Tippy tap bollocks with bollockless players.

    Arteta is dead lucky there’s no crowd and that if there had been, they’d be obssessed with Kroenke instead of him.

  135. 135
    Tapera Doma says:

    As sad as this moment is. Changing managers ISN’T going to work. If you bring in a new manager – he changes the system & wants his own players – the yoyo performances continue until there is stability.

  136. 136
    Steve T says:

    We have had three shots on target over both ties, and one of those was a penalty.

    I know you don’t like it GSD but if it was a full house then there would have been carnage by now.

    Two really poor efforts and the manager has to take a massive responsibility for that. We have played this lacklustre non urgent dross for a lot of the season and I for one snd bored stiff of it.

  137. 137
    Cynic says:

    If you bring in a new manager – he changes the system & wants his own players

    And if you don’t, you stick with this group and this “system”, which is a recipe for disaster.

  138. 138
    ATG says:

    Bloody f….. Awful

  139. 139
    Sancho Panza says:

    Totally uninspiring though isn’t he. But hey let’s carry on. We did fuck all over two legs.

  140. 140
    ATG says:

    3 shots on target throughout both games well Arteta ball

  141. 141
    ATG says:

    3 shots on target throughout both games well Arteta ball in it’s finest

  142. 142
    Sancho Panza says:

    Don’t see how he can remain based on this season. No progress at all which is the bare minimum.

  143. 143
    Tapera Doma says:

    & just like that our season is over. For the remaining games – play Martinelli, Balogun, Martin Og & perhaps Eddie Nk and see what they have for next season.

  144. 144
    John Matthews Legend says:

    We were sh*te.
    They were better in both legs.
    ’nuff said from me.

  145. 145
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Steve. I just think if we had fans enough other variables would change that we could not bank on the same performance. I’m sure you are right that fans at home are not happy right now. And that’s fair enough.

    A poor performance over two legs.

  146. 146
    Esso says:

    That was fucking dreadful, especially the first half? Inexcusable.


  147. 147
    Steve T says:

    Not quite sure what game Arteta was watching after his interview.

    Tonight was the 10th game this season, at home, where we haven’t scored? Another awful statistic. Tonight we have made it very easy for Villarreal, who themselves looked average.

  148. 148
    Cynic says:

    Some properly delusional stuff in the post match interviews, but you can’t expect honesty I suppose.

  149. 149
    Steve T says:

    GSD. I have held a season ticket for many years. I can assure you unequivocally that those who are the regulars and sit near me would have been incredibly vocal in expressing their opinions on some of the dross we have served up at home this year.

    Quite simply, performances would have to have changed. As Albert Einstein famously said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

    The locals just would not have tolerated it.

  150. 150
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Steve. That quote is misattributed. It was not Einstein.

    Although his theory of relativity does not work at a quantum level, where a subject is changed by the nature of its observation. Which makes my point rather nicely.

  151. 151
    Esso says:

    Hate seeing difficult discourse in here, but;


    We are shit right now.


  152. 152
    OsakaMatt says:

    Fair comments @131

  153. 153
    Steve T says:

    I’m now not quite sure what point you are trying to make GSD? My point is that we’ve been subjected to the same negative and at times, inept displays for large parts of the season. Arteta has persisted with the same tactics and I can only assume that the reason for this is he expected performances to change?

    My point is a simple one. If there had been full stadiums then fans would not have put up with it. Changes would have to have taken place somewhere. Be it on or off the pitch. Arteta has had a far easier time of it because it’s not been possible to have fans in attendance.

  154. 154
    bt8 says:

    Arteta’s performance has been no better and possibly a bit worse overall than Emery’s in all categories except speaking English. I don’t minimize the importance of speaking good clear English either but I admit to feeling underwhelmed.

  155. 155
    Silly Second Yella says:



  156. 156
    ATG says:

    You play football to win if you don’t you suck, if you keep doing it for a long time then you are no longer good at it and continue at sucking perhaps the wrong stick 😀
    Fans bla bla bla bla bla …….more bla and even more bla………

    Grassroots football if you reserve your team it does fuck all……thank you!

  157. 157
    ATG says:

    Has anyone of you been close to grass roots footy lately?

  158. 158
    Esso says:

    Worthing and Minehead Town.

  159. 159
    ATG says:

    Good stuff Esso

    How do they play?

  160. 160
    ATG says:

    Do they pressure? What’s the game plan?

  161. 161
    ATG says:

    Most of all do they stuck in?

  162. 162
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:


    I really cannot be bothered. I’ve been having this discussion elsewhere tonight. If you go a few posts back to The Doc’s piece entitled ‘The Shape Of Changes’ and looks at drinks 6-8 then you’ll see my point.

    The point you make that Arteta has had a far easier time because there are no fans is drivel. It assumes that if there were fans the team would have performed the same. Which is so obviously ludicrous I’m not gonna say any more on the matter.

  163. 163
    Cynic says:

    Arteta’s performance has been no better and possibly a bit worse overall than Emery’s in all categories except speaking English.

    And possibly the hair battle, although that’s a coin flip and depends if you prefer natural and floppy to the 1970s barber shop photo look

  164. 164
    Silly Second Yella says:



  165. 165
    Cynic says:

    If there had been fans in the stadium it is possible the team may have performed even worse than they have. You can’t say for sure it would have been better with fans. I think you can say with some certainty that the tactics would have been no better and certain players, who have done so little with zero crowd pressure, are unlikely to have thrived with a bit of that pressure, had there been some.

  166. 166
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Also, to be clear, in your post @ 153 Steve, you claim to be making one simple point, but then make two entirely separate points.

    The first one is about Arteta’s tactics. I do not entirely agree but I’m not taking issue with you. Your view is perfectly fair, and I do partially agree.

    The second is that if there were fans in the stadium they would be unhappy. I’ve explained at length (despite being baffled at the necessity of this) elsewhere why this point is ridiculous, in view of its ludicrous logic that imagines that if fans were in the stadium every week then no other factor would have changed.

    But please do not conflate the two issues.

  167. 167
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Cynic @ 165.

    Your first sentence hits the nail on the head. Maybe we would have been worse!

    But there are so many variable factors we have no way of knowing, do we?
    I’m not suggesting we let Arteta off for the poor decisions he has made. I’m just saying we should not beat him with an imaginary stick!

  168. 168
    Silly Second Yella says:

  169. 169
    Steve T says:

    Drivel GSD? Really????

    It’s a point that many have made, and continue to make. My sincere apologies if it offends you. Enjoy your discussions elsewhere.

  170. 170
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    It doesn’t offend me Steve. You can say as many daft things as you want. It’s not personal. And I’m happy to leave you in the company of others making the same point.

    In a totally unrelated incident… i went to the shops earlier. They made me wear a mask. Everyone else did too. I said “if we were not in the middle of a global pandemic I’d be annoyed about this.”
    Someone in the store said “Yeah, but a global pandemic kinda changes everything, dunnit?”

    And I, personally, agreed with that.

  171. 171
    Steve T says:

    Totally bizarre GSD.

    I hope the hangover isn’t too bad in the morning.

  172. 172
    Cynic says:

    The pandemic didn’t change all that much for me and when it’s all clear, I’ll carry on wearing my mask. It’s only fair to the rest of the population, they’ve suffered enough… plus it hides a multitude of chins.

    I’m just saying we should not beat him with an imaginary stick!

    You prefer a real one? 🙂

    The job is too big for him, in all seriousness. His team selections are baffling. He leaves Bellerin out continually and gives him the odd game here and there for the last few months, then plays him in a must win game?

    It’s like when Nketiah had been left out for ages and then he suddenly gets picked to start the other week, when Martinelli had been kicking his heels on the bench for eons.

    The continued selection and use from the bench of Willian is a true mystery. You want game changers in a positive sense off the bench, not to weaken the team.

    The constant chivvying of whoever plays in midfield gets on my arse as well. Blogs used to mention this when Ceballos played last year and he thought it was because he needed coaching, but the fact is Arteta micro manages whoever plays in midfield. Partey will have perforated ear drums after tonight, as he was the only midfielder we had so the assault on his lugholes was relentless.

    Arteta is not Pep Guardiola. He should stop thinking he is doing tactics at degree level and realise he’d barely scraping a GCSE pass. On his best days.

  173. 173
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:


    All fair points. And your first para made me smile! 😁

    If you’d like a lemonade then feel free to put it on my tab.

  174. 174
    Cynic says:

    Lemonade and Tab is a very 70s sounding drink…

    Bed time.

  175. 175
    North Bank Ned says:

    Indeed, Cynic. We’d all be better for a night’s sleep, even if it will be without sweet dreams.

  176. 176
    Osakamatt says:

    I’ll be getting several now our
    season is done Ned 😉

  177. 177
    ATG says:

    Not sure what else to contemplate here?

    We were shit and we lost this semi sounds about right I reckon…

    Blaming pandemics, referees and most of Gunnarsourous won’t help anything.

    Have good day everyone

  178. 178
    bt8 says:

    The next time somebody suggests signing an aging Chelsea star who that (or any) club doesn’t want anymore, will somebody in a position of authority at Arsenal stand up and say “Really?”

    More youth development please.

  179. 179
    Steve T says:


    Last season Willian scored 11 goals for Chelsea and was a regular. He was also a current Brazilian international. Surely, the first question to ask is how has he all of a sudden deteriorated so rapidly? Is it him? Or is it another management failing?

  180. 180
    bt8 says:

    How about a return to the AW policy of giving nothing but one year contracts to players over 30.

  181. 181
    Cynic says:

    Development meaning don’t be playing them in every game, like they’ve done with Saka.

    I wouldn’t have wanted Rafa Benitez after Wenger left but now I’d take him without even thinking. He’d get the young players going, he’d fire up the fans and he’d be the ideal man for the next four or five years.

    The only thing Arteta does that I think is good is talk. He talks a lot about attitude, doing things the right way etc etc but talk is cheap.

    Whoever is picking the players wants a kicking as well. We spent something like £80m on Partey and Gabriel, neither of whom have looked worth the money. Gabriel might be young, but youth is no excuse if you’re good enough. His passing is poor, which is a nightmare if we’re insisting on playing out from the back (bin that please) and he’s not very quick either. Gets caught too often, can’t pass it and appears to have little idea about marking.

    Partey is too slow, not strong enough and his passing again is far too shoddy most of the time. Gives it away, sideways or backwards far too often. Occasionally comes up with a cracking forward pass but nowhere near enough.

    And Willian.

    It’s not all gloom. The young players, who Arteta basically fell over one day when he had no choice but to play them, offer hope but how long will they want to stay if the team continues to decline?

    We need a new keeper, a new right back, a couple of centre backs, a new left back, a couple of central midfielders and at least two strikers. Squad-wise I mean.

    I’d keep Ryan as backup and look to replace Leno, which would make a mockery of last summer’s decision with Martinez but cash in on him if we can. I’d be cashing in on Bellerin and Pepe, might look to shift Gabriel, Luiz is going. Maitland-Niles can go, Nelson = bye bye, try to find a buyer for Pepe, sell Lacazette, give Willian a free to get rid, if some other nutters will take him…

    Basically burn it all down and start from scratch with a new coaching staff.

  182. 182
    Cynic says:

    That line about Gabriel shoud have said “Youth is not a problem if you’re good enough”

  183. 183
    North Bank Ned says:

    OM@176: 🙂

  184. 184
    Cynic says:

    Just realised I sold Pepe twice in that rambling 181. If only we could.

  185. 185
    Bathgooner says: