Feed on

It was a cold and rainy night in the city by the bay. The sort of night to test the calibre of Arsenal’s young guns who arrived in Piraeus on the back of an 8 match unbeaten run in cup and league.

Before the match Mikel Arteta had talked of his belief that our younger players would not hide in the face of a hostile Attic crowd. True to his word he started Saka, Martinelli, Guendouzi and Willock but slightly surprisingly preferred Leno to Emi in goal – the German’s greater experience required for a tricky away night perhaps. Sokratis came in at right back in preference to Maitland-Niles and as expected, Joe Willock replaced Mesut Özil, who had remained in London to be with his wife at the upcoming birth of their first child.

On our last trip to Greece in December 2015 we had come away with a 3-0 win courtesy of a Giroud hat-trick. However, lest we read too much into that result a touch over four years later, with Hector and Özil rested and Chambers injured not a single member of the 18 man Arsenal squad that won well that night was still playing for the club. In the past Olympiakos have tested the best at home and beaten the likes of Real Madrid, Juventus, Athletico, Liverpool and the mighty Arsenal – we could expect a stern examination of our new-found defensive credentials particularly in the opening quarter of the game. Could we rise to the challenge or would we come a cropolis?

The first 5 minutes were not reassuring as two very decent chances came and went for Olympiakos, the first well saved by Leno and the second nodded over from close range. Sokratis and Saka were given early problems out wide and we struggled initially to cope with the snap and speed of movement from the home side. On the right particularly we looked vulnerable as Auba was offering precious little defensive support to an out of position Sokratis. We rode our luck, a touch fortuitously at times, but slowly, with Guendouzi and Willock working hard and the Mustafi / Luiz partnership looking more secure in the centre, we grew into the game. The first booking came and went for a sly little stamp on Guendouzi’s foot by El Arabi and then finally on 20 minutes we fashioned a decent chance for Lacazette to put wide from 6 or 7 yards out. Should have scored to be honest. From then on however we started to get on top and the closest Olympiakos came during the rest of the first half was an interception by Luiz (or possibly Guendouzi!) that nearly caught out Leno. For The Arsenal a Xhaka free kick deflected off Martinelli forced the Olympiakos keeper into action, a few other half chances were missed but we struggled for fluency going forward. Half-time was reached and we could be satisfied with having curbed the early fire from Olympiakos but needed to create more going forward with Laca not looking to have gained much confidence from his goal against Newcastle, and Martinelli quiet. Could we get a precious away goal in the 2nd half?

There were no changes at half time for The Arsenal as the 2nd half kicked off. The pattern set in the opening 45 minutes continued with both sides unable to create any chance of note in the first 15 minutes. The first change came close to the hour with the arrival of Ceballos for Martinelli.

Olympiakos came more into the game after that, gaining a frustrating series of free-kicks and corners as The Gunners still lacked coherence in the transitional moments to put it in coach speak. Or passed poorly to put it another way. A hopeful appeal from Lacazette for a penalty that never looked like being given, then a decent save by Leno from a header that turned out to be offside and we were already in the final quarter. Pepe came on for Willock, who had had several bright moments on a tough night, and the match meandered on until suddenly on 80 minutes we lit up the Attic night with a cracking goal to delight the traveling faithful.

One nil to The Arsenal

A long ball out wide left from Mustafi was acrobatically kept in by Auba and then slipped inside to Saka on the overlap. Saka controlled well and played a beautifully weighted cross for Lacazette to slide in from close home.

In all honesty we could have scored twice more after that, though it would have not reflected what was mostly a tight game. Lacazette had a chance well saved soon after scoring and a Sokratis header from a Ceballos corner bounced off the bar with the keeper just beaten. We saw the game out with minimal fuss and much blatant time-wasting, a job done and a valuable advantage to take back to The Emirates.

All in all not a game that will live long in the memory but one they may actually be important for defensive confidence – a third consecutive clean sheet that the opening 5 minutes aside was built on solid, disciplined performances from Leno, Sokratis, Mustafi, Luiz and Saka and much unfashionable hard work Guendouzi and Xhaka. It’s been a rare pleasure to write solid and disciplined about an Arsenal defence! If I feel that just watching then how must the players feel to be playing in one? The times they are a-changin?

A good result and onward to the Everton game we go.

104 Drinks to “A classic scoreline in a Greek theatre”

  1. 1
    bathgooner says:


  2. 2
    Countryman100 says:

    “Would we come a cropolis” 😂😂😂

    Setting new standards Matt! Come on, you’ve been planning that all week haven’t you?

  3. 3
    scruzgooner says:

    the disadvantage of posting the post…i don’t feel right about taking first post! 🙂

    matt, nicely done. i don’t know how i am going to come up with an everton pun for the preview!

  4. 4
    Pangloss says:

    Good stuff Matt. I’ve been out all day and evening and had even (whisper this) forgotten we had a match on. I wonder if there’s anything on the Box in the way of highlights.

    Another clean sheet, an away win and the Totts lost at home yesterday. What’s not to like about this week?


    …and a top of the hat to BtM in the previous bar. I am unworthy, O master.

  5. 5
    Pangloss says:

    Scruz@3 If you manage, you’ll be minted. Not to worry though, you could get away with any old toffee.

  6. 6
    bathgooner says:

    Excellent report Matt. Very much as I saw it. Impressively solid and disciplined report given the velocity of its delivery!

  7. 7
    TTG says:

    A speedy and excellent report Matt. Well summed-up; a game that we grew into and saw out quite well. The value of a good coach grows more obvious by the game, especially with the improvement he has brought out in the likes of Mustafi, Luiz , Saka and Willock .
    O to be able to forget we were playing sometimes a la Pangloss! The butterflies gnaw at me for hours pre-game and I can’t put the nervousness out of my mind. The last year or so has eroded my confidence in the team but we are seeing the benefit of a proper team shape and organisation now.
    We didn’t come a cropolis tonight . Our Grecians urned a good away win

  8. 8
    scruzgooner says:

    pang@5, i don’t know if it’s werther it… if only they had kyle walker’s error-prone defensive nous… maybe if i get post 101 i’ll have tablet… i can assume if it’s pissing down in north london we’ll be running in treacle…

  9. 9
    Uplympian says:

    Excellent & speedy report OM – the high standard already set is being maintained.
    I have family down now for a few days so was out eating & drinking earlier ( you have to show willing 😉 ) and only returned home in time for the last half hour.
    I missed the collywobbles at the start of the game but we appeared to be comfortable by this stage. For the period I watched the CBs were having good games ( amazingly I don’t shudder now when I see Mustafi’s name on the team sheet ) and midfield were working hard. The goal itself was a worthy match winner – Saka’s sublime pass immaculate.
    It’s so encouraging to see how much Mikel’s input has completely changed the confidence & attitude of the team in such a short time, there’s still a way to go but the future is looking very optimistic.

  10. 10
    Uplympian says:

    Scruz @ 49 in the last drinks. BtM was being humourous in the last drinks. My bowling is not the cricket game but another sport – full title Lawn Bowls. It’s played outdoors in the summer only & there are indoor arenas for play during the winter months. Sidmouth bowling club had this facility – it’s located in the centre of town adjacent to the tennis courts. We finish past 10pm so it’s too late for the White Horse but the club has its bar open during play and of course it would be rude not to indulge under these circumstances.

  11. 11
    scruzgooner says:

    ah, i see. and you’re only rude in health, not in manners, so naturally…

  12. 12
    bt8 says:

    1. Not even Sophocles could have come up with such an absolutely classic title.
    2. A spot of film noir aura in the opening paragraph.
    3. Come a cropolis. 🍱
    4. Must remember to maintain consistency in my home leg preview by making it Olympiakos with a “k” even though the Greeks don’t use either k or c, at least not in their own language.
    5. Agreed, the back four played well, even the unfashionable Mustafi and oddly selected Sokratis, and Guendouzi and Willock done their jobs well.
    6. Clean sheet x3.

  13. 13
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks all for the kind comments.

    No planning, a sudden inspiration at
    4.55 in the morning 😃

  14. 14
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks bt8 – being British I
    decided to go with the BBC
    spelling 😉

  15. 15
    North Bank Ned says:

    Top stuff, OM. A cropolis should be in the Parthenon of puns.

  16. 16
    North Bank Ned says:

    I thought our goal was one of the few pieces of pure quality in that game: from the initial raking pass, to Auba’s control of it, Saka’s run and cross, and Laca’s finish. But overall, the team showed they could grind out a result on a wet Thursday in Piraeus. And that is progress. I like Arteta’s philosophy: ‘play, play, play, win’.

  17. 17
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Excellent report Matt. Very well summed up and worth the price of entry for come a cropolis alone.

  18. 18
    Esso says:

    Cheers Matt!

  19. 19
    BtM says:

    Better than a missive from the seat of the Gods on Mount Olympus, Matt. I have to say right up front how glad I am that we didn’t become Acropolis because had we fallen a Parthenon Sunday there might have been repercussions for our confidence against toffee maker Theo and Co.

    After that very difficult start, there was much to be positive about. Had I been Mikel Arteta Laca wouldn’t have scored. At 65 minutes, despite my shouting loudly at my screen, MA8 paid no heed to my demand for a Wenger-time substitution. I thought Laca had run his race by then and I would have moved Auba to the centre, brought Pepe onto the right, moved Saka to the let and yes, I’m actually writing this, brought the Faltering Fullback on at LB for some marauding. (I thought the Greek chap playing out right, Mousaka was it – their Saka – was tiring by then).

    What a great goal it was though. All credit to Mustafi for a superb diagonal, lovely athleticism from Saka and then a sumptuous pass from the brightest young talent on the planet. Sign him up, Arsenal. Quickly!

  20. 20
    BtM says:

    It was raining horizontal buckets on St Andrews beach yesterday so I retired to a nearby hostelry and came across this chappie. I’m sure he would have enjoyed a chap on the back door, (two chaps, no more, no less – and dinnae ring the bell!) from the Guvnor and cba.

    Here’s a thought for them and a merry melody from North of the Wall to add cheer to your day.

  21. 21
    Uplympian says:

    BtM @ 19 “ I thought the Greek chap playing out right, Mousaka was it “ – have you seen his wife, she’s a dish” 🙄
    My coat’s already on.

  22. 22
    BtM says:

    Morning, Uply, not in the practice nets this morning?

    9 games unbeaten, promising signs. It’s a total disaster – for AFTV – it breaks my heart.

  23. 23
    TTG says:

    Morning Btm!
    You make a great point . This upturn in results will devastate AFTV and many on Le Grove . The negativity around our club has been very noticeable and there are still some numpties expressing doubts about Arteta . The man is remarkable. He has made a defender out of Mustafi ! But can he do something useful with Xhaka? 😀

  24. 24
    Uplympian says:

    Excuse my manners, good morning gentlemen.
    BtM hope the weather is kinder to you in the KOF today. Following on from your drink 44 in the match preview yesterday, was Scruz googling googlies for an explanation.
    TTG we are all absolutely enthused with the turnaround of attitude Arteta has achieved and the determination he has shown is a part of his dna and augurs well for the future successful development of the team. I’m sure he can find a use for Xakha – mobile training cone perhaps 😉

  25. 25
    bathgooner says:

    I expect Mikel Arteta will take Xhaka down to Cashconverters in June if he has identified the two midfielders he wants to add to the squad.

  26. 26
    bt8 says:

    Had we fallen a Parthenon Sunday.

    BtM that is naughty and if you keep it up I will tell Trev 😉

  27. 27
    bt8 says:

    Honourable mention to Uply for Mousaka – “have you seen his wife, she’s a dish.” 🍻

  28. 28
    TTG says:

    Greetings! You may have hit on the appropriate use for Chaka except I’d struggle with the use of the description ‘mobile’ beside his name ! Cash Converters may be the answer . Rarely have I encountered a player who I just don’t ‘get’ like Mr. X. I’m really not sure what he does !

  29. 29
    Countryman100 says:

    Nice piece in the Telegraph about the calamity twins, Luiz and Mustafi.


  30. 30
    bathgooner says:

    CM100 @29, thanks for the link. A good article summing up the transformation we have seen. Confidence and a clear goal are such a big part of the game and indeed any job requiring skill. MA8 is working wonders with players who were confused and broken by the clown we had for 18 months. He needs to buy a new engine for Xhaka though to give him some extra pace.

  31. 31
    BtM says:

    Greetings, TTG, from the land of brass monkeys. Although I referenced AFTV, I haven’t ever watched it and I never intend to. I used to enjoy a lot of fun at Le Grove’s expense (along with whoever it was who wrote very wittily as LeGrash on ‘here’ in days gone down – wasn’t you was it?). However, since the arrival of Arteta, Le Grove has become worth a quick scan. Ironically, today’s piece condemns some unnamed blog that has the temerity to criticise our new Head Coach – so to some extent, the worm has turned.

    If Xhaka stays around (and he does look better under Arteta than he ever did under Unai L’Un) surely it has to be as a squad player rather than a starter? WHAT oh WHAT was that yellow card he picked up about last night? Made me recall the Wizard of Oz song with the line “…..If he only had a brain………”

    Xhaka’s tackling is poor and he can’t run fast so his ability to recover is poor. He can make good forward passes and, to his credit, he does make himself available to receive – but, frustratingly, he then often chooses to make an easy sideways pass or a simple ‘wall bounce back’ which slows things down. The midfield will require careful thought in the summer. I’m not sure that Xhaka or Ceballos are keepers and rumours of Torreira’s desire to return to Italy persist. I hope AMN gets some opportunities to demonstrate his abilities in MF before judgement day arrives.

  32. 32
    North Bank Ned says:

    Mustafi and David Luiz are both experienced defenders with more than 75 international caps between them so they should be decent Premier League defenders. But good defences are always more than the sum of their parts. It is defensive structure, positional awareness and the discipline to maintain both that is the added plus that Arteta has brought, along with applying the same principles to the midfielders immediately ahead of them. We are seeing far less of opposing forwards running one-on-one with our last defender for a reason.

  33. 33
    North Bank Ned says:

    bath@30: What Xhaka most needs is replacing that switch that turns his brain on and off. When he got poleaxed by that ball in the face a few games back, the switch seemed to get stuck permanently on. The rain in Piraeus must have short-circuited it. Xhaka was back to his ponderous, blundering worst for much of the game.

  34. 34
    BtM says:

    “We are seeing far less of opposing forwards running one-on-one with our last defender for a reason.” Absolutely, Ned. I’m sleeping more easily as a consequence – things had become nightmarish.

  35. 35
    North Bank Ned says:

    btm@31: Xhaka is an enigma. You catalogue his shortcomings precisely, and yet he has been an ever-present starter for Wenger, Emery, Ljungberg and Arteta. As I have said before, they must see something in him that we do not or think they can sort his head out, so he plays to his full abilities and cuts out the lapses that lead to the needless yellow cards, misplaced passes and slow play.

  36. 36
    Countryman100 says:

    Xhaka puts me in mind of Churchill’s comment about Russia.
    “ A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”

  37. 37
    scruzgooner says:

    uply@24, of course i didn’t have to google “googlie”. i knew what *that* meant…i’ve read my kama sutra!

  38. 38
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Great report OM. My guess is that I will remember this match more for the “a cropolis” pun than anything we did on the pitch, the high quality goal included.

    About Xhaka, my theory of why he is so trusted by his managers is that he is a highly reliable player. Reliable in the sense that he is good at understanding and following the managers’ directions all the time. His occasional mistakes in judgments is a matter of moments of loss of focus, further amplified by his relatively slow turning speed. But when a manager looks at his game they see someone who for 99% time does exactly what they want him to do. In a team that thrives on — at least used to, hopefully we will be back there soon — positive unpredictability in the final third and marauding full-backs Xhaka provides a point of reference for the team to organize around.

  39. 39
    scruzgooner says:

    dr faustaus@38, sadly though more like the stake in the ground a dog’s lead is tied to, rather than the foundation for “positive unpredictability”…

  40. 40
    bt8 says:

    I suspect that Dr. Faustus’ explanation @38 of Xhaka’s ubiquitous presence in the team under four different managers and coaches is about as close to the truth as I have heard anybody express it. All four of those managers and coaches were also able to identify his shortcomings and to become exasperated with him when he made one of his foolish errors, mental gaffes, or otherwise proved his serious limitations as a player around whom to build the future of Arsenal Football Club. The problem has been the issue of finding a better alternative. TTG and many other fine drinkers, not excluding myself, have repeatedly made an argument along the lines of “Xhaka has failed too many times to continue getting picked,” but I have always seen Xhaka more as an extra slow version of Denilson.

  41. 41
    TTG says:

    Some very good reflections on Xhaka, all of which are helpful but I’m still struggling with my own observation of him . What is he? If he’s a holding midfield player his predilection for yellow cards, his occasional avoidance of dangerous situations ( West Ham and ManU away ) and his stupidity in some challenges ( Brighton home last year, The NLD this year ) added to his error rate leading to goals challenge that . His chronic lack of pace and his preference for sideways or backwards passing suggest he isn’t an obvious central midfield player and his lack of assists suggest he can’t be considered a creative midfielder . Added to that we had the Palace incident which so enraged many of us this season including GSD and I .
    Btm is right that he has improved under Arteta ( less brainfarts) and Ned’s point re the trust he has had from fine judges of a player is one I keep coming back to.
    Nevertheless I really don’t think we can make the progress we would all like us to with Xhaka as such a focal point of the team for reasons elucidated above . I think C100 has possibly described him best albeit using Sir Winston’s purple prose !

  42. 42
    bt8 says:

    Re: Today’s headline, “Mourinho Gets Giggles When Asked About Injuries”

    How do you as a player react when your manager is losing it emotionally in public about your ability to replace the injured players?

  43. 43
    bt8 says:

    Our away moveable fixture at Wolves that was scheduled for Saturday 11 April has now been rescheduled for Monday night 13 April so that a bunch of TV executives can receive larger pay bonuses this year. Not good for Arsenal or the away Gooners.

  44. 44
    North Bank Ned says:

    Dr F may be close to the mark on Xhaka, though I would add a combination of limited vision and slowness of thought to the losses of focus. Arteta has fixed Mustafi’s proneness to lapses, but, regardless of his detractors, he was a pretty solid Premier League defender otherwise. I suspect Xhaka is not well suited to the high pace and pressing of the Premier League. He just always seems to need more time to decide what to do than he is ever allowed. So he gets caught and fouls, passes sideways because forward options have been cut off or has his passes intercepted because he hasn’t seen opponents anticipate what he is going to do. When Xhaka has the space and time, he can be a terrific passer. But if we are to build a team around any midfielder, it has to be one who can see two passes ahead at all times and create space around himself as Özil does and Cesc did or dribble his way out of trouble with the ball glued to his boots like Santi. That isn’t Xhaka.

  45. 45
    Doctor Faustus says:

    NBN: fully agree. That’s why I think Italian league will be his best option where the relentless press and counter-press is not present. In a related thought I sometimes think that many of the modern great Italian players — particularly Pirlo, Totti and De Rossi — was never tempted to try the PL despite all sorts of offers maybe because they also wanted to play at the top level for longer, which they eventually did. In case of Totti and De Rossi I guess getting them out of Roma (the city and the club, the club and the city) was probably a challenge too. I loved Totti and Pirlo and used to hope that maybe they will play for Arsenal at least for a year or so. 🙂

    I think Xhaka is particularly unsuitable for the kind of football Arteta would want to play where speed of thought in the middle of the field and absolute concentration are key. In the long run just being reliable alone won’t be enough as even the deep lying midfielders need to be aggressive with attacking intent and capable of “flipping a switch” which unfortunately Xhaka is too slow for. Even if one of Auba and Laca leaves in summer I feel we have enough firepower in the forward line if we can find couple of high quality central midfielders that are both capable of playing deeper as well as in an “8” role. I had thought one day AMN will grow up to be a midfielder like that.

  46. 46
    North Bank Ned says:

    Fair point on those three Italians you mention. The slower you are, the faster has to be your reading of the game. Exhibit 1: Pirlo.

    Willock may have it in him to be the attacking/central midfielder Arteta’s tactics require. He rarely looks out of place when he plays without ever quite setting things alight, but he is a young man in and out of the team so it is unfairly soon to judge him. Ditto AMN, although he seems more of a central/defensive midfielder. Had he stayed (and stayed fit), the Ox might have fit the bill perfectly.

  47. 47
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks to several more of you
    for the kind comments.
    First match report I’ve written
    and I learned a couple of lessons.
    First, the Guvnor was much
    smarter and quicker than me
    and second think carefully before
    volunteering for 5AM kick offs.
    Actually, writing it was a pleasure,
    and thanks for reading.

  48. 48
    OsakaMatt says:

    A lot of good thoughts on Xhaka.
    Also the unlikely lads – Mustafi
    and Luiz. Can’t believe it’ll be
    happy ever after and the good
    life for us with those two. But
    fairs fair, they’ve taken to MA’s
    approach like to the manor born.

  49. 49
    OsakaMatt says:

    Though Everton tomorrow with
    Calvert Lewin in some sort of
    form as well as Richarlison and
    even Feo will present a sterner
    test of our defence.
    Theo must be thinking he’ll be
    able to exploit Saka’s lack of
    I must admit I’ll laugh if Saka
    boots him up in the air in the
    first 5 minutes.

  50. 50
    OsakaMatt says:

    Joe W and AMN both need to
    improve their consistency on
    the pass I think but I certainly
    agree the potential is there.

    Talking of potential….
    I noticed ESR didn’t play for
    Huddersfield the other day.
    But just rested according to
    their manager who said “I
    need to be realistic about how
    often I play him. If we can have
    ESR starting for 10 of our last
    13 games it could be the difference
    between staying up or not”

  51. 51
    bt8 says:

    Well in OM at the famed half ton.

    Famed mostly by the long-gone cba, who enjoyed being in that number as I recall.

    AMN, Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and ESR need our support to come on and make it a great generation of Arsenal youth who make it in the first team and propel us to greatness. It looks like Saka and Martinelli are going to be in that number so come on the rest o’ ye.

  52. 52
    bt8 says:

    David Luiz is sounding more and more like a manager in the making. Among his quotes after Olympiakos, he said Arsenal played a humble game, a mature game, knowing when to defend; and Olympiakos are an amazing team and the tie is not over yet.

  53. 53
    bt8 says:

    Olympiakos was a 5am kickoff OM? Does Osaka have adequately strong coffee for a situation like that? ☕️
    Your saying Everton was tomorrow almost made me think it was today until I double checked it, and it is tomorrow. It’s the middle of the night here, and I can’t sleep. Sunday, for disambiguation. 😆

  54. 54
    bt8 says:

    Just to match your four drinks, I wanted to say Saka’s got Feo’s butt, or will have on Sunday. Cheers!

  55. 55
    OsakaMatt says:

    Cheers bt8 🥃

    5AM is at least a 2 coffee morning
    with the first one an expresso!

  56. 56
    OsakaMatt says:

    A spud / chav draw later would
    be good.

  57. 57
    BtM says:

    Indeed, Matt. Only way to knock four points off the two competitors we need to catch.

  58. 58
    BtM says:

    A few moons ago, Clive (GoonerSince54) observed that the Arsenal would never fulfill the aspiration of becoming one of THE top clubs in Europe while recruiting the like of Xhaka, Mustafi, Elneny, Lichtsteiner and (I think) Kolasinac. I believed then that he was correct and my opinion hasn’t changed since. These are PL mid-table capable performers (at best). All might quite likely start every week at, say, Burnley, Bournemouth or Brighton.

    Arsenal have taken a brave decision with the appointment of Mikel Arteta. The early signs are that he is an excellent choice. Our new head coach would appear to have the tactical nowse, solid self assurance and inter-personal/motivational skills needed to propel the team to the level of performance to which we all aspire.

    Lichtsteiner is now ‘shootin’ the lichts oot’ elsewhere and Elneny (like Mikhi) is in a half-way house somewhere remote. To re-establish the team as the predominant powerhouse in the English game that it was in the early-2000s, means will need to be found to upgrade on the troublesome trio who remain. In that regard, improved performances by X, M and K under Arteta may attract continental suitors with the loadsamoney we’ll need to complement the promise of our rising young stars with tried and tested talent of the highest caliber. Play out of your skins boys. We’ll hope to draw you in your new CL teams in Italy, Spain or Germany.

  59. 59
    bt8 says:


  60. 60
    BtM says:

    Brilliant goal, Ollie!

    Chel$ki win is better than Spuds win. Draw best outcome. Come on Bottenham!

  61. 61
    bt8 says:

    Great game to watch so far. Moura and Mount drew decent saves at either end in quick succession just before Ollie chipped in with his bits. The first bit being a decent right footed shot that Lloris saved and his second bit the goal he put away with his trusted left club. Great bits all around HFB.

  62. 62
    bt8 says:

    And that’s not even considering José’s problematical team selection issues. Smokin’ the ganja with Tanganga. Losin’ his marbles with Lo Celso, comin’ a cropper with Caballero (whoops, that last one was Fat Frank’s dastardly doin’)…

  63. 63
    OsakaMatt says:

    Touch of an elephant Tanganga,
    though it was a good run.

    Lo Celso amusingly cleaned out,
    I thought Fat Frank was going to
    kick him for a second there

  64. 64
    OsakaMatt says:

    ‘‘Tis a good game bt8, great finish
    by Giroud too. I was surprised but
    pleased for him

  65. 65
    bt8 says:

    Can’t bring myself to hope for a draw in this one, BtM. Mourinho and Sp**s is too much of an evil combo for me to hope for anything other than a 5-0 home pasting in this one. Also we can more realistically hope to overtake S***s than we can the Chavs.

  66. 66
    Countryman100 says:

    As usual in this fixture as well as both teams dropping points, I’m hoping for seven red cards and a couple of season ending injuries each.

  67. 67
    bt8 says:

    Fat Frank does have a pair of rather sharply pointed shoes, come to think of it Matt. No telling which player might feel the brunt though at this early stage.

  68. 68
    BtM says:

    @65 – 5-0 would bring a large smile to my face too, Bt8. And a great laugh at The Special Needs One as he explains how such a defeat was absolutely nothing to do with him and he still has Special needs.

  69. 69
    Countryman100 says:

    I said during the CL game against Leipzig that Spurs are fucked. St Totteringham’s day is coming. Win tomorrow we are three points behind them with 11 to go.

  70. 70
    North Bank Ned says:

    OM@55: And the second one a double?

  71. 71
    OsakaMatt says:

    That was a red card I thought
    for Lo Celso.

  72. 72
    Countryman100 says:

    How that LeCelso leg breaker wasn’t a red card is unbelievable……

  73. 73
    Countryman100 says:

    Great minds Matt …

  74. 74
    Countryman100 says:

    Ces’s and Michael Owen on Twitter both say red

  75. 75
    OsakaMatt says:


  76. 76
    Countryman100 says:

    Sorry, meant to sat Cesc

  77. 77
    OsakaMatt says:

    Agree C100.
    About Spuds looking fucked
    I mean.
    Though of course I agree about
    the great minds too 😉

  78. 78
    bt8 says:

    Red card on Lo Celso’s foul for me and the unnamed blokes on my Telly who are still talking about it 20 minutes later. The game has slowed down so there is nothing more interesting to be talking about reslly, other than that goal Abraham should have just scored.

  79. 79
    Countryman100 says:

    VAR officials now saying they made a mistake and they should have sent LeCelso off.

    You can’t make this up can you?

  80. 80
    bt8 says:

    How can VAR spend a very long time to decide whether to award Lo Celso a red card, and in the end not even give him a yellow card for the same foul. Farce. Lo Celso would have been off by now after his subsequent yellow for kicking a player in the torso.

  81. 81
    bt8 says:

    C100, Our posts crossed. How the VAR officials can make a mistake after such long deliberations is baffling. At least the on-field referee has the valid excuse of having only a split second to make a wrong decision.

    There goes the ball into the Chavski goal.

  82. 82
    bathgooner says:

    Astonishing ineptitude from VAR official. Trumps their utter incompetence to date.

  83. 83
    bathgooner says:

    Not the worst result for us.

    Now GO WIN Arsenal!

  84. 84
    Countryman100 says:

    See my post 69.

    St Totteringham warming up.

  85. 85
    OsakaMatt says:

    Not even being able to ref a game
    from an armchair is really pisspoor
    – David Coote appears to be the
    guilty man.

  86. 86
    BtM says:

    Tomorrow has a ‘make or break’, ‘must win’, ‘mustn’t lose’, ‘mustn’t draw’, ‘got to get three points’ kind of a feel about it, don’t you think?.

  87. 87
    Pangloss says:

    No, BtM@86 it doesn’t have that kind of feel about it at all to me.

    I associate “must win” etc. with rather more desperation than I’m feeling at the moment. Go back three or so months, under our late and unlamented manager, and I might have had that kind of feeling. Not now. With a new man at the helm, one who’s hand really does feel as though it’s on the tiller so that we are no longer drifting, tomorrow’s game feels like a “will win”.


  88. 88
    bt8 says:

    In one of those interesting test cases for revisiting the issue of should it be 2 or 3 points for a win, we have the relative league positions of Everton, on 36 points from 10 wins, 6 draws, 10 losses versus Arsenal on 34 points from 7 wins, 13 draws, 6 losses. We have 3 fewer wins but also 4 fewer losses than they have, so why should they be ahead of us in the table if they haven’t won more often than they have lost, whereas we have?

  89. 89
    OsakaMatt says:

    It does for me in terms of chasing
    down Chelsea but all our remaining
    home games are ‘must win’ if that
    thought is at all realistic.
    MA has certainly improved the
    team already but I can’t honestly
    say I share Pangloss’s will win
    optimism yet

  90. 90
    Pangloss says:

    It’s not really about optimism, Matt. I hate the idea of being in mid-table, scrapping with likes of Burnley, Wolves, Southampton and Everton and I’m not going to allow myself to think about it, far less worry.


  91. 91
    BtM says:

    I’d like to be there with you, Pangloss. I had completely written off a top 4 finish. Shitty’s cheating charge and possible expulsion from next season’s CL has changed my thinking. Fourth place no longer appears impossible. But there will be many like me in Sheffield, Manchester, Wolverhampton (even poor deluded souls up the wrong end of Seven Sisters Road) etc thinking exactly the same thing. So with every win will now come the feeling that the next one is a ‘must win’ if that achievement is to be realised.

    (I can hardly wait untiller we’ve done it 🙂 )

  92. 92
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@79: We need VAR for VAR.

  93. 93
    BtM says:

    Big last 8 minutes up at Sheffield. Come on Brighton, throw some Rocks.

    We just need some competence, Countryman.

  94. 94
    TTG says:

    I’m very much of the same mindset as Pangloss.
    Remember back to the end of November and I was seriously concerned about relegation so bad were we. Arteta has made huge progress and I believe he will make more but tomorrow will be a real test. We had a tough game abroad with a two hour time difference on Thursday night. Everton has no game at all. That is a massive physiological advantage. We have a great record against Everton and if we can put on a spurt now not only is St.Totteringham likely to appear on the roof of WHL but we may go close to fifth place. Fixture congestion will be a real issue as the EL has an extra round compared to the CL and we want to win the Cup. But we can be upbeat now in a way we couldn’t a few months ago.

  95. 95
    North Bank Ned says:

    Sunday’s game is a must win in the sense it is all about picking up points on the other fifth-place-is-a-trophy teams so we move up the table. Everton win and they are a point off fifth and we are six points adrift. We win and we are three off fifth and they are four adrift. A win could also put us back into eighth — which is where we were when Emery was sacked.

  96. 96
    OsakaMatt says:

    I’d like us to win a few on the
    spin as our confidence still
    seems fragile to me. Be good
    to go on a decent run and put
    a few teams in their place
    between now and the end of
    the season. If we can do that
    then we’ll naturally move up
    the table. Being 10th with this
    squad is just ridiculously under-

  97. 97
    Pangloss says:

    TTG pretty much sums up my attitude @94.

    I started the season full of enthusiasm and a wary optimism that this might be Our Year. That feeling didn’t last very long and was replaced by extreme concern which peaked just after Mr Emery left us. Since Arteta’s arrival that concern has largely evaprorated.

    I had pretty much written off our chances of taking anything away from this season, at times even a return of St Totteringham seemed impossible, but now it’s pretty much in our own hands. That doesn’t mean it’s a given – the days when I was confident that the Arse had a better winning mentality than the teams around us are long gone – but I am confident that Arteta realises its importance and will pass that on to the payers if necessary. I obviously believe that we have a stronger squad than that mob from the other end of the Seven Sisters Road so I have a wary optimism, both about St Totts and European qualification for some competition or other.

    The worst news is that I don’t automatically list Leicester City among the teams I hate to be scrapping with.


  98. 98
    North Bank Ned says:

    OM@96: Our next four league games after Everton are against West Ham, Brighton, Southampton and Norwich. All twelve points from those is both a reasonable ambition and necessary as we then have four tough games: Wolves, Leicester, the neighbours and Liverpool before finishing the season against Villa and Watford.

  99. 99
    BtM says:

    I think we’ll beat L’pool at home. Southampton away is always a high hurdle for us fo some reason.

  100. 100
    BtM says:

    And play a storm at the new Toilet Bowl.

  101. 101
    Countryman100 says:

    Well in BtM!

  102. 102
    BtM says:

    A sclaff, Countryman. Hit it with my right and it curled in off my left a la Lacazette 🙂

  103. 103
    BtM says:

    Meanwhile, Aguero misses another penalty.

  104. 104
    scruzgooner says: