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Has anyone seen his cojones? What? No one is looking? No one cares?

We welcome Watford to the Grove on Sunday for a late lunchtime kickoff. 

When we last saw the Hornets chez nous we sent them away from the yellow brick road, taking their hearts on the final day of the season with a 3-2 victory in front of covid-empty stands.  Having spent a successful year in the Championship, they won promotion and jettisoned the odious, tiny dancer called Deeney, testicularly lacking as he turned out to be.  And like a candle in the wind they’ve gotten rid of the manager that got them back to the Premier League, Xisco Munoz, replacing him in early October with Claudio Ranieri.  Strange, that: they binned Munoz as Watford languished in 14th place…and with two losses and a win Ranieri has shown his Fulham form rather than the touch he had at Leicester (early days, I know), bringing Watford all the way to 16th in the table, 3 points off the relegation zone.

I don’t expect Watford to score many goals against us, unless something really bad happens.  They haven’t been prolific this season, their 5-2 result at Everton notwithstanding; they’ve been held scoreless in 6 of their 10 league games (I guess that’s why they call it the blues, eh?).  Josh King scored a hat trick for them at Goodison Park; he shares offensive duties with Emmanuel Dennis, who returns after a 5-yellow-card suspension (5 cards in 10 games, what?).  Dennis provided a goal and two assists at Everton, but their real dangerman is Ismaïla Sarr, a Rocketman of a winger who can also slot up front depending upon which formation the Tinkerman decides.  I can’t see how leftovers from the little team up the road will give us troubles, but Sissoko, Cleverley, and Rose could all be in contention to start.

What of Arsenal?  The team that saw Watford to relegation has seen much turnover;  1/3 of the players that saw the pitch are gone or on loan, one is injured, and of the day’s starters possibly only Auba and Laca will retain their place.  I fully expect we’ll see a team close to, if not identical to, the team that started against Leicester, though if Kieran Tierney passes his late fitness test he could be in contention to start ahead of Tavares.  Still:


Tomi – White – Gabi — Tavares

Partey — Sambi

Saka – Laca — ESR


And a bench of Leno, KT3, Holding, AMN, Mo’Neny, Mø, Pépé, Gabi, and Eddie.

After a seemingly interminable week, let’s have a reminder of where we currently sit: riding an 9-game unbeaten streak, we’ve risen up the table from the bottom (after our first three games) to our current position of 6th, only 3 points out of 3rd.  Since the dark day of our 5-0 thrashing by Manchester City we’ve won 7 and drawn 2 in all competitions; most encouraging, since we tonked the little club up the road we seem to have found a way to play that’s incisive, defensive, and energetic all at once, despite the draws at Palace and Brighton.  We’ve also advanced to the quarter-finals of the Carabao cup (even as Watford were knocked out by Stoke in the round previous).

Will we see the resurgent Arsenal of the past nine games show up for the home fans, or will we revert to our form at the start of the season?  I hope we start the game on the front foot and leave Watford to fall quickly into the relegation places.  While we should go into the game confident, I want our defense to keep the gritty, organized shape they’ve begun to show, so there are no stings in the tail.

The ‘Holics Pound

I expect Captain Fantastic (Auba) and the Brown Dirt Cowboy (Laca) to share the spoils of a 3-0 victory with Smith Rowe, saying so much even Sir Elton will be singing a sad song.  That is available at 11s; or take a bit of a chance and punt for 4-0 to the Arsenal, on 17-1.  A backup punt against a nil draw can be had at 20-1!  Any of those results would leave us 10 games unbeaten, an apt way to celebrate the boss’ 100th game in charge of Arsenal. Even then I’d not expect any previously vocal Arsenal supporters who’d thought perhaps “Arteta Out” was on tune to apologise…because sorry does seem to be the hardest word.

Enjoy the game, every Arsenal fan that goes.  COYG!

70 Drinks to “Don’t Go Breaking my Heart”

  1. 1
    bt8 says:

    Scruzgooner knows, and hoping Watford soon will, those sad songs mean so much. Excellent preview and COYG.

  2. 2
    Noosa Gooner says:

    Thanks Scruz,
    I think I saw Elton John play live at the Watford Football ground sometime in the seventies although some of my memories are a bit blurred of the afternoon – it was the seventies after all.
    Let’s hope that the Arse are better focussed on Sunday. 2-0 will suffice.

  3. 3
    TTG says:

    Super preview and a very good indication of how the Circle of Life revolves as our form has radically improved . We are in fine fettle and it’s a game we should win comfortably before another interlull and the much more formidable trip to Anfield to face the Tiny Dancer Mo Salah . I think you’ve got the team spot on.
    Many who doubted Arteta still quibble about his credentials, Sorry seems to be the hardest word for those who castigated him a few weeks ago but I think we will enjoy the kick off time on Sunday ( Saturday Night’s Alright for a game but not ideal ).
    I hope we can Levon good form before the break with a 2-0 victory .

  4. 4
    North Bank Ned says:

    Herculean effort, Scruz. I like your team and would be happy with the 3-0.

  5. 5
    bt8 says:

    Serbian striker Dusan, who scored 21 goals for Fiorentina in Serie A last season and is nearing 10 more so far in this one, appears to be on the radar of Arsenal and Spurs, if today’s Daily Express article is to be believed, along no doubt with all the other big clubs in Europe.

  6. 6
    North Bank Ned says:

    bt8@5: ‘If the Express is to be believed’ is a pretty big caveat. In the summer, the Telegraph had Dusan Vlahovic set to join the neighbours for £50 million, and Juventus is also reportedly interested in the Serbian.

  7. 7
    Pangloss says:

    A fine piece, scruz. Roll on tomorrow.

    Ned@6 – a timely reminder; no real need to provide examples.


  8. 8
    Countryman100 says:

    A fine preview Scruz. I never used to dislike Watford until Troy Deeney started opening his gob. Now I’d luv it, luv it, if we gave them a good pasting. As you say, our team picks itself. Let’s do this.

  9. 9
    North Bank Ned says:

    We could be fourth or tenth come Sunday evening, depending on how the other results break. Not much margin for error. Your 4-0 would help with the goal difference, Scruz.

  10. 10
    Gooner_KS says:

    Don’t think we can overtake WHU on GD, but 5th, with a positive 2-3 GD would make for a relaxed break.
    Just saw Barkley with high foot to the face of Mee and not even a yellow. Pretty sure in our case we would’ve gotten a red.

  11. 11
    Trev says:

    Cheers, scruz, for a fine Elton based preview !

    I enjoyed your song.

    Saturday Night’s alright for fighting, so let’s hope we can fight on Sunday lunchtime too, with no more slip ups against Watford, cos we’ve all Seen That Movie Too.

    As for Troy Deeney, at least this weekend The Bitch Isn’t Back but what’s the betting Sky haul him in as the Arsenal bashing pundit ..?

    Getting Watford to The Emirates, away from their honky chateau at Vicarage Road, means it’s a little bit funny, this feeling I have inside, but I can see a handsome 5-0 win on the cards for us. When am I going to come down, when am I going to land ..? Not Sunday afternoon, I hope 😏

  12. 12
    Pangloss says:

    Trev@11 – You should have stayed on the farm.

  13. 13
  14. 14
    bathgooner says:

    Great work, scruz. I hope we start off like a rocket, man and snuff Watford out like a candle in the wind sending them home down the yellow brick road.

    Like your team.

    Like your 4-0 even better, but, as ever, will take any kind of win through any kind of goal.

    Just watching Juve vs Fiorentina. Vlahovic leads the I Viola line well, gets his nut on crossballs and looks a broth of a loon. Apparently we, the Marshdwellers and the Bindippers are sniffing around him. We’ll see if he’s a man of taste.

  15. 15
    TTG says:

    Thankyou for attaching Amy’s article . She gets amazing access to the club !
    I had some very interesting conversations with the group of supporters I had dinner with on Thursday . Not everyone is convinced by Arteta ( although one or two are very positive) but we all agreed that there is a coherence about the planning . Most of us were businessmen and noted that its the sort of thing you sense in well-run companies. Most companies trot out vision statements but very few actually have a defining direction that really does seem to drive the organisation – and which everybody gets. You can be cynical about this sort of stuff but when you see it working you realise it can be very important. One gets a sense ( and I’ve not been to the ground this season ) nor, of course the training ground , that there’s a calm determination to build something strong and empowering. We thought that Arteta was the driving force although it’s hard to know and it may be the product of several like-minded people . Certainly one of our number , a media figure thought that Josh Kroenke was an important influence at the club .
    Whatever , it’s nice to feel that the club is moving in the right direction and that the future might be better than many predicted at the start of September

  16. 16
    TTG says:

    The U23s were trailing 3-0 to Leicester this morning entering injury time but secured a remarkable 3-3 draw ! Akinola, Hutchinson and Balogun notched the goals . I think that’s definitely a point won rather than three dropped

  17. 17
  18. 18
  19. 19
    Countryman100 says:

    Saw them three times Esso, starting at the Hope & Anchor in Upper Street! Loved Dr Feelgood, Wilco Johnson and Lee Brilleaux! Glad to hear you’re still dropping into the bar.

  20. 20
    scruzgooner says:

    esso knows!

    thanks for all the compliments, folks, glad you enjoyed the preview. sorry if it was a bit elton heavy.

  21. 21
    Countryman100 says:

    It’s Saturday night.

    You know what Saturday night’s alright for don’t you?

  22. 22
    Doctor Faustus says:

    A very amusing preview scruz, hitting all the right … notes.

    I like your team, but maybe Ødegaard gets a start and we play 4-2-3-1, and Laca comes on later in the game. This will be Mikel’s 100th game as the Arsenal manager so let’s hope the team is ready to make it a memorably enjoyable performance.

    Let’s continue the good habit of winning matches without conceding goals!

  23. 23
    bt8 says:

    Beat Watford. Go fifth.

    The second can’t happen unless the first does, but the second has to happen if the first does.

    Get to it!

  24. 24
    Esso says:

    Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tavares, Maitland-Niles, Sambi, Smith Rowe, Saka, Lacazette, Aubameyang

    Subs: Leno, Cedric, Holding, Tierney, Elneny, Odegaard, Pepe, Martinelli, Nketiah

  25. 25
    Esso says:

    Partey must be injured.

  26. 26
    Esso says:

    misses #ARSWAT due to a tight groin

  27. 27
    North Bank Ned says:

    Opportunity for AMN to show his mettle. Good to see Laca getting a run of starts, too.

  28. 28
    North Bank Ned says:

    Wild FA Cup tie at Halifax yesterday. The hosts beat Maidenhead 7-4, not a scoreline you see often these days.


  29. 29
    Esso says:

    Heh @ Ned

    I lived in Halifax for 2 years, used to go and watch them sometimes.

  30. 30
    North Bank Ned says:

    Morning, Esso.
    Always liked the name of Halifax’s ground, The Shay.

  31. 31
    scruzgooner says:

    Come on you gunners!!

  32. 32
    scruzgooner says:


  33. 33
    OsakaMatt says:

    Aaargh Auba had to score.
    Still started well, and hopefully AMN can take his chance

  34. 34
    OsakaMatt says:

    Fine preview by the way sg, thanks!

  35. 35
    OsakaMatt says:

    Aargh Auba again, not a good penalty at all

  36. 36
    ClockEndRider says:

    Are we trying to keep them in the game or what?

  37. 37
    OsakaMatt says:

    Mostly dominated the half but nothing to show – Auba’s radar off and a couple of good saves from Foster. AMN having a good game and Saka and ESR we’ll-involved but just not clicking. Same again 2nd half but with a couple of goals COYGs!

  38. 38
    Cynic says:

    The usual awful performance from Kevin Friend, who should have sent Danny Rose off on accumulation alone but hasn’t even booked him. The penalty was a yellow at least, the trip afterwards was a yellow and he’s committed other fouls in the game.

    The disallowed goal – linesman doesn’t put his flag up and relies on VAR, even though Saka is a long way offside.

    This has mugging written all over it, but we’d only have ourselves to blame if it happens, even allowing for dreadful officiating.

  39. 39
    Cynic says:

    Always liked the name of Halifax’s ground, The Shay.

    That’s a given…

  40. 40
    OsakaMatt says:

    ESR!!! Goal machine 🙂

  41. 41
    OsakaMatt says:

    Watford whining for a foul beforehand but to no avail

  42. 42
    OsakaMatt says:

    Ben White did well in the build up and a good finish from ESR.
    Watford will have to come out and play now so hopefully a bit
    more space

  43. 43
    OsakaMatt says:

    Was that going in for Odegaard? Auba is having a bad day

  44. 44
    OsakaMatt says:

    Elneny on for ESR,
    Oh, Ben and Aaron comedy mix-up but we get away with it

  45. 45
    OsakaMatt says:

    Not sure why we are sitting back, Watford just aren’t very good.
    Watford down to 1o after their player was an idiot

  46. 46
    OsakaMatt says:

    Have the three points, not a game to remember but another clean sheet

  47. 47
    North Bank Ned says:

    Three points and another clean sheet even if the performance was workmanlike rathr than sparkling. Goal difference no longer negative, but we should have turned it positive. Foster always seems to play well at the Ems.

  48. 48
    Silly Second Yella says:


    6.Manchester Utd

  49. 49
    North Bank Ned says:

    Dean Smith’s departure from Villa means one-quarter of the Premiership clubs have already sacked their managers with the season only in matchweek eleven.

  50. 50
    North Bank Ned says:

    Not forgetting:

    5. Arsenal
    6. Manchester Utd

    9. Tottenham Hotspur

  51. 51
    Cynic says:

    Should have won that by four or five despite not playing all that well.

    Watford are a niggly bunch of shitehawks.

    The end.

  52. 52
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    That Watford side are an abomination.

    Ditto Kevin Friend.

    Ranieri can fuck off. One of his cheating players faked an injury and one of his shit defenders tried to use it as an excuse to play the ball out of play when he was pressed into a corner.
    It was a pleasure to see us keep the ball and score.
    And I loved seeing Ranieri complaining at the end after his team put in the most dishonest performance I have seen in a long time. You get what you deserve, and you deserve dogshit, my pedigree chum.

    Well played Arsenal.

  53. 53
    KenyanGooner says:

    Hello everyone. Couple years since I popped in here.
    I pray every one is in good health.

  54. 54
    Pangloss says:

    Good to see you KG. Drink on the bar for you. All pretty well here, thanks, but missing absent friends.


  55. 55
    scruzgooner says:

    and another, kg, from me. to absent friends!

  56. 56
    Ollie says:

    Climbing up the table!
    (Thought I’d say hello as Esso pointed me towards this and I realise I miss some of the old days….long story).

  57. 57
    scruzgooner says:

    welcome (back) ollie…a pint of your choice on the bar for ya.

  58. 58
    Bathgooner says:

    No comparison!

  59. 59
    Bathgooner says:

    Ollie! Bonsoir mon ami!

    Welcome back! Don’t be a stranger!

    A glass of Chateau Margaux 2005 on the bar for you.

  60. 60
    TTG says:

    Kenyan Gooner and Ollie – Cheers !
    Lovely to see you both

  61. 61
    Ollie says:

    Cheers folks!

  62. 62
    Trev says:

    Hi Ollie and Kenyan G,

    Good to see you – always welcome !

    We’ll never be Dave, but we hope he would be pleased with what we do.

  63. 63
    Ollie says:

    Yep. He was such a good man, Trev, and I will never forget the last time I saw him in the pub. We only exchanged a few words, but they meant a lot.

  64. 64
    bt8 says:

    Hey there Ollie. You used to be champion first drinker do it’s great to see you still in the game. Don’t be a stranger now. 🤠

  65. 65
    bt8 says:

    Hey Kenyan Gooner, Glad you found your way in, and welcome to ya.

  66. 66
    North Bank Ned says:

    Ollie and KG: Good to see you in. As Trev indicated, plenty of the old lags still here keeping the flame going for the Guv’nor.

    If Bath is breaking out a 2005 Margaux, even more reason to hang around for a while.

  67. 67
    TTG says:

    Amazing to learn that Arteta’s first 100 Arsenal games produce a bette4 record than Wenger’s . Wenger took us almost into the Champions League in his first ( incomplete) season and won the Double in his first full season . Statistics eh! Arteta has seen us finish eighth twice and we are currently fifth. We’ve won one FA Cup under him .
    I somehow feel Wenger is a little ahead of Arteta in real terms but things are looking more promising for Mikel .

  68. 68
    North Bank Ned says:

    Statistics, indeed, TTG.

    George Graham had a better first-100 win record than either Wenger or Arteta.

    Also, Arteta has lost eight more games in his first 100 than AW.

  69. 69
    Ollie says:

    Lies, damn lies and statistics. But yeah, we seem back on an upwards curve and with a lot of promising youngsters, particularly in defence. Need to sort out the future attack as Lacazette (probably off soon) and Aubameyang are not getting younger.
    But for now, we can go into the interlull happy and cross fingers our international players come back in one piece.

  70. 70
    Bathgooner says: