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On a bitterly cold, blustery November afternoon, a visit by a winless club 5 points adrift at the very bottom of the table could not offer a better opportunity for a restorative Arsenal victory after the Anfield debacle. The last game had taken the wind out of the Arsenal’s sails brutally ending their run of undefeated games and reminded us how far short of the top level we currently stand.  Newcastle United, a serially underachieving team, formerly known for their fans’ love of virtuoso centre forwards but now merely the plaything of Saudi princelets, unveiled their shiny new manager with optimism that his first appearance in their dugout would give them the bounce necessary to begin an ascent to the pinnacle almost reserved for the financially doped. With over a decade since they had won at our place, we had to believe that we could rebound from last week’s disappointment.

Mikel Arteta surprised everyone when he chose to allow Tavares to retain his starting position despite his somewhat less than exemplary outing at Anfield. However, he surprised no-one by replacing Lacazette with Ødegaard in a match in which the Norwegian’s greater mobility might be expected to be more useful than the Frenchman’s strength and battling-skills in the ‘ten’ position.

Arsenal kicked off and early knockings were tentative from both sides as they came to terms with conditions that made ball retention and accurate passing difficult. Five minutes had passed before we had a clear glimpse of attacking intent. Partey fired a direct pass from halfway forward to Ødegaard who quickly delivered a through ball behind the defence towards Auba but his clever pass was cut out. At the other end, Joelinton was looking very lively but the game settled down to Newcastle sitting with ten outfield players deep behind the ball, trying to find Calum Wilson on the break when we lost possession in the crowd scene. As high balls came out of the Newcastle defence Wilson’s physicality was proving a handful for Gabriel and on one occasion we were fortunate to be awarded a free-kick on the edge of our box after our Brazilian fell as Wilson closed in on goal. Sky reported that we had 82% possession in first 10 minutes but we had nothing to show for it and the Newcastle keeper hadn’t faced a shot. Our biggest threat in the first 15 minutes was a Tavares shot from the left that was blocked for a corner.

The narrative for this game was a familiar one and although we were mostly camped on the edge of the Newcastle box we had to remain vigilant at the back. A simple long ball over our lines from Shelvey found Wilson running in behind White who got back to block him before the lino flagged for a marginal offside. When we regained possession at the back, Newcastle’s press was intermittent and then only partial and our central defenders were allowed to stroll forward with the ball out of our half as Newcastle sat deep and invited us forward.

An invitation we accepted. A lovely high ball from Sambi in a deep inside left position found Saka rushing into the 6-yard box on the right but the young starlet couldn’t hit the target with his connection. After a driving run from Tavares on the left, Willock brought down Ødegaard just outside the ‘D’ slightly left of centre. The Norwegian curled the free kick over the wall towards but not far enough into the top corner allowing Dúbravka to leap across his goal and turn it away.

Saka and Tomiyasu were seeing a lot of action on the right and ESR and Tavares were doing likewise on the left but after the first 23 minutes Arsenal had only forced Dúbravka into that solitary save from Ødegaard’s free kick. The Norwegian was drifting across the field from side to side and linking both wings. In contrast Aubameyang had been entirely anonymous. Elegant and intricate though our short passing looked, it was simply too slow to pull the massed ranks of defenders out of shape and allow penetration. Our frustration was illustrated by a high and wide Tavares 25 yarder.

Although we dominated possession, Newcastle remained keen to break out and on 26 minutes a poor clearance by Partey led to a corner that was flicked over our bar by Schär. On 29 minutes, Ramsdale pulled off a good save to turn a long-range, goal-bound shot by Shelvey over the bar after a brisk Newcastle attack. From the cleared corner, Shelvey then struck a low long range shot through traffic straight at Ramsdale which he gathered reasonably easily. Arsenal responded with a Tomiyasu shot that just whistled past their left upright.

After their offensive flurry through Shelvey, Newcastle reverted to massed defence and our most promising attacker Saka faced two players every time he received the ball. Saint-Maximum always backed up his left-back and at 35 minutes brought Saka down at the angle of their box for a free kick from which Dúbravka punched the ball away and took out one of his defenders to provide his defence with a breather.

Suddenly Saka popped up on the left and chipped the ball back to ESR at the edge of the 6-yard box. ESR headed for goal but the keeper leapt across his goal to palm the ball straight to Aubameyang who was standing to his left inside the 6-yard box. Aubameyang’s shot struck the outside of the post when it looked far easier to tap it into the net and that moment pretty much summed up his day. In contrast, Saka looked to be back to his dynamic best and as the half drew towards its final minutes Ritchie was carded for stopping him breaking away on the halfway line. As 4 minutes of added time were announced, White found Tomiyasu overlapping on the right. He struck a first touch cross to the centre of the box which ESR fired firmly towards goal only to see it blocked.

As the first half drew towards a close we seemed to find more space and penetration but still failed to find the target with another Tavares shot sailing well over and a Tomiyasu shot flying wide. These two long-range attempts were separated by a prolonged Newcastle attack that ended when Tomiyasu stretched to make a vital block to cut out Wilson’s pass to the unmarked Ritchie waiting in our box for a clear shot on goal.

We had seen a somewhat frustrating half in which we had clearly been the better team, massively dominated possession but had failed to turn that possession into chances and failed to convert our few chances into goals. However we could easily have found ourselves suckered at the other end but for the key contributions of Ramsdale and Tomiyasu.

HT 0 – 0

Neither side made changes to personnel at half time but Arsenal began with a bit more urgency. A Tomiyasu drive on the right petered out in the Newcastle box. Krafth was then booked for barging Tavares off the ball as he broke forward at pace then rather desperately conceded a corner as the Arsenal player drove into the box but it came to nought.

Five minutes in, a mazy dribble by Saka from the edge of their box from our right allowed him to take a low shot for the far post but Dúbravka saved it at full stretch. From a free kick for a foul on ESR, Saka struck a curling ball low across the six-yard box from the left but only Tomiyasu attempted to reach it but he couldn’t connect even at full stretch. Where was Aubameyang? Just the kind of ball that should be meat and drink to a top striker. But the pressure was building.

An intricate sequence of 16 passeswith movement around the left margins of the Newcastle box between Saka, ESR, Tavares and Sambi ended with Tavares releasing Saka with an exquisite pass to the England international to run into the 6 yard box and strike the ball inside the keeper’s far post. A deserved goal for our best player on the day!

1 – 0 Arsenal, Saka 56

Sadly, two minutes later Saka collapsed to the ground clutching his left hip. Unfortunately, after returning following treatment he collapsed again 2 minutes later. Meanwhile Aubameyang continued his feckless afternoon with a weak punt to Dúbravka after receiving a high a ball on his chest in the Newcastle box. Martinelli then replaced Saka on 63 minutes. Shortly thereafter Murphy and Almirón came on for Ritchie and Joelinton.

Newcastle reverted to the long ball for Wilson to try to get back into the game and screamed for a penalty when Wilson went down alongside Tavares as he ran onto a long ball over our defence. Replays showed shoulder to shoulder contact as both players chased the ball and the referee got the decision right without a slo-mo replay. We immediately went up the other end and Martinelli scored a peach with his second touch on 65 minutes! Tomiyasu chipped the ball into the box as Martinelli ran into the 6-yard box and he ‘feathered it’ (© Martin Keown) past the onrushing keeper into the far side of the net with only his second touch of the ball since coming on. What a prospect that boy is! Surely Aubameyang is nervous?

2 – 0 Arsenal, Martinelli 65

Ramsdale clutched another Shelvey shot from 20 yards as Newcastle responded. ESR then slipped a ball through to Aubameyang but his miserable day continued as the keeper smothered his toe-poke. Arsenal continued to push forward and were nearly caught on the break as Murphy curled a low cross across our goalmouth We then seemed to sit back to let Newcastle show what they could do and everyone in Arsenal colours put in a defensive shift. However, Aubameyang’s misery continued as he was given a yellow card for a needless foul halfway inside our half. At least he made a contribution! He was promptly replaced by Lacazette on 75 minutes.

A lovely curling ball from Tavares breaking down the left found Martinelli running into the right of the opposition box but he sliced his connection. Another breakout saw Lacazette’s shot find the side netting from the left after a Martinelli pass from the opposite side found him running into the box. Ramsdale then caught a good effort from former Gunner Joe Willock at his near post.

Elneny replaced Partey on 84 minutes to add some energy to our midfield. Lacazette then wriggled into the box but the ball was smothered at his feet by Dúbravka. Ramsdale then made a fine save from Almirón who had certainly added spice to the Newcastle attack. Then former Gunner Hayden replaced former Gunner Shelvey on 87 minutes.

Martinelli then charged onto another beautiful through ball from Tomiyasu, ran into the box but was met with a shoulder to his head from a Newcastle stopper. Poleaxed but no pen. After some attention he returned clutching his jaw ruefully. White was the next Arsenal player to be flattened after a Wilson challenge as he attempted to clear another Murphy low ball into our box from the right. As five added minutes were announced, Ramsdale tipped a speculative Fraser cross over his bar and then punched away the resultant corner before the full-time whistle sounded.

FT: 2-0 Arsenal

We had to work hard to beat the bottom team rather than simply giving them the thrashing for which we had all hoped and that might have better reflected the relative league positions. However, all that hard work was finally rewarded with two beautiful goals, a clean sheet and three points. Despite that victory, the Arsenal remain in fifth place as our persistently negative goal difference keeps us behind West Ham. Only a 12 goal deficit for the Spammers against Shitteh at the Etihad on Sunday will reverse those positions and lift us into fourth but they can certainly feel our hot breath on the back of their necks. We are right in the fourth place mix.


46 Drinks to “Neither Rebound nor Slump but Job Done”

  1. 1
    bt8 says:

    Greetings Bath from my backseat perch as we hurtle through the infinite Iowa cornfields on our way back up to Minnesota. A comprehensive account of a match I was unable to see, giving me a strong impression of the important roles played by our fullbacks, the T men. Sounds like our players managed to do a sufficient amount of second half hurtling themselves, after coming out sluggishly in the first. Cheers!

  2. 2
    TTG says:

    That is what I call a comprehensive and very fair report Bath . It described the game I saw and highlights one of the key issues facing the team. Auba is currently useless. I doubt there is a worse striker in the league over the past couple of months .
    The team is evolving nicely, handicapped by the lack of a commanding midfield presence although Sambi played quite well. Partey is a massive disappointment and like Auba he is consigned to the TTG vault for underperforming , overhyped erstwhile elite players who aren’t cutting it any more . You’ll never guess who else is in there !
    Today belonged to Tomayisu, Ramsdale , Tavares and Saka who all did very well and Martinelli who showed so much more than Auba in the limited time available although he should have scored from a great Tavares cross field ball but his diving boots failed to control it.
    Finally I was impressed with Attwell as referee. I used to play centre back and was taught to ease strikers off the ball shoulder to shoulder to unbalance them .Tavares did exactly that with the ball in playing distance and Wilson crumpled like a cheap suit . Never a penalty .

  3. 3
    Ollie says:

    Fair report, Dr Jones.
    A dram of your finest, please.

  4. 4
    North Bank Ned says:

    We saw the same game, bath. As others have said, your report on it is comprehensive.

    The Tavares shoulder to shoulder on Wilson was just that, shoulder to shoulder. For Howe to say Attwell cost them the game by not giving a penalty for it is clutching at straws in the extreme.

    We should, though, have scored more. If Auba had scored when he hit the post, it might have opened the floodgates. Poor old Auba cannot buy a goal at the moment. He might get ‘rotated’ sooner rather than later.

  5. 5
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Cheers Baff. Detailed, accurate report – nicely done.

    Howe can do one. That ain’t a pen.

    Although I saw nothing wrong with the challenge on Martinelli in real time, the second or third replay showed a brutal elbow to the side of his head. The frustrating thing is that next week some VAR/ref combo will give that as a straight red. There is no consistency whatsoever.

    I was worried Gabi was gonna be injured, he has had bad luck on that front. Still, it seems no harm was done, so we will just continue as things are – officials colluding with players who feign head injuries to get matches stopped, whilst doing nothing to penalise dangerous impact fouls to players heads.

    Anyhoo. I loved the performance today. We kept patiently plugging away and ended up comfortable winners. Luvvly jubbly.

  6. 6
    OsakaMatt says:

    A fine report sir, thanks. I thought it was an encouraging performance
    and great to see Saka and Gabi on the scoresheet given Auba’s current
    struggles. Two tricky away games coming up but we can go into them
    in good heart. Personally I’d take four points out of six from those two

  7. 7
    Mulerise14 says:

    I was so pleased when I saw that Tavares kept his place and Tets didn’t yield to pressure after his error at Anfield. I just so much love him as he open up that left side…. giving opposing plays headache or how do you solve a problem like Tavares, they must be asking themselves. As much as we love Tierney, the average Joe side he showed earlier on in the season is helping his plight. Though when he finally gets his chance, I hope we see the Tierney of last season……we need to repeat that formula for the right side and get in competition for Tommy.
    Oh Auba, African nation’s cup can’t come soon enough for all parties involved.translating into more time for Martinelli and Balogun too.Balogun I have high hopes for him,he may just explode, I think we did him a disservice by just rushing in earlier in a disjointed team.but if he plays with our top guns now….it may be the beginning of a great ride.

  8. 8
    Steve T says:

    On Friday, my youngest turned 18 so a whole weekend of celebrations had been planned. They had to be somewhat curtailed when another broken finger from an egg chafing injury had slightly put the mockers on things. It had been decided many weeks previously that the Newcastle game would form part of the shenanigans, and nothing was going to stop that.

    He had awoken on Saturday morning with a monster hangover. An early kick off was just what was needed. A train journey and a quick stop at Fat Harry’s for a foot long was definitely the order of the day. The pre match brunch of champions. It wasn’t then time to head in.

    The atmosphere on the concourse was buoyant and full of optimism. The freezing temperatures had done little to dampen the enthusiasm. The team selection was much as expected, and like many, I was pleased to see Ødegaard in the starting 11.

    The first half I thought was both laboured and lacklustre. The fact that the MOTD coverage started at 15 mins in tells you all you need to know. I agree very much with the comments about Partey. He has not lived up to his billing and the one area we lack any real drive is the centre of the park. Our build up was slow and we seemed to revert to the handball type of football that has bored me more than once. PEA is struggling to but a goal at the moment and missed one that looked easier to score.

    The second half was brighter from the off. There seemed a lot more urgency. This is not a good Newcastle side and our shots on target ratio had not been impressive. This improved and the Saka goal was very welcome indeed.

    I was very pleased that Martinelli for once got done decent game time. It didn’t take him long to score a wonderful second. A great ball from Tommy and a touch that had hints of Bergkamp to it I really hope he is back on track and turns into the player we think he can be.

    In the end, an easy and a welcome 3 points. It was then time to head off to the Tollie. As many regulars will know, Ben has on many occasions over the last 10 years stood on the outside of the railing looking in. Today was different. It wasn’t a welcome change to head inside and to hear “what do you want dad ?”

    As always, there was a fantastic atmosphere in the pub. Full of happy Gooners who have all enjoyed the resurgence that continues to take place. The blip of last weekend was now a distant memory.

    Our stay was short lived as he had another party in the evening. This appeared to nowhere near as raucous as his previous night. Having had to pick him up, we got home to enjoy a beer and the highlights on MOTD. At the end, I asked about the party and how he had enjoyed the day. Ben replied, “it was good, but I wish we had stayed in the pub.” Good lad. I have no idea where he gets that from??????

    Nice write up Bath. A good old read. Onwards and upwards.

  9. 9
    Countryman100 says:

    A great write up Bath and thanks Steve for a lovely pitch side review. My visit to North London yesterday started with a brass monkey stopping me and enquiring about the whereabouts of the nearest welder. I referred him to an establishment in the nearby Balls Pond Road. Christ it was cold on the walk into the stadium. Heading straight into a strong wind, with freezing rain, horizontal rain, was not fun. The coldest day of the season so far, by far. Luckily it wasn’t so bad inside the stadium, especially when a cup of warming Bovril was utilised. Countryman junior went for a pint of Camden Hells. At £6.20 it compared badly to the pint of Heineken he’d had at Anfield last weak, not for the beer, but the price. The Anfield variant was £2.90. Truly Arsenal are taking the piss.

    The game was much as described above, largely pedestrian, especially in the first half, where we failed to move the ball forward quickly enough and allowed Newcastle to settle in their eleven man behind the ball ultra low block. However it was redeemed by two absolute beauties in the second half, both in front of us in the North Bank. Both will make our goals of the season highlights reel, I’m sure.

    I want to highlight two problems, one good, one bad. The good problem is that Nuno Tavares is a real and hugely exciting find. He is such huge fun to watch and really puts the fear of God into defences. Yes I know he gave away a goal last week at Liverpool, but everyone makes mistakes especially against their uber press, the best I have seen since Klopp’s Dortmund or Pep’s Barcelona . He gallops forward, has a huge engine (still going strong in injury time up and down the left wing), gives us an out ball over the top on the left, is very direct, quick and makes chances, including Saka’s chance for his goal and the later spurned chance by Martinelli. But I really like Kieran Tierney, a future Arsenal captain. How can we get both players into the team? They have different strengths but I want both.

    The second problem is that we have to talk about Auba. As well as missing chance after chance, he is currently lacking in energy, flat footed and totally lacking in confidence. Is Martinelli the answer (Balogun needs a loan where he is getting lots of game time), or do we try and buy someone in January? Or just hope he gets better?

    I do think that it was noticeable that all our summer signings: Nuno; Ramsdale; Tomi; White and Lokonga all had excellent games. Add them to Gabriel, ESR, Tierney, Martinelli, Odegaard and Saka and the future is very bright. Sort out the number 9 and get Partey playing that’s our team going forward.

    I am much encouraged. Now turn over United at Old Toilet and duff up Everton at the Old Lady of Goodison and we will really be, as they say in Line of Duty, cooking with gas.

  10. 10
    Countryman100 says:

    One last thought. I felt for the near 3000 Newcastle supporters who probably had to leave in their coaches about 5.30 am and faced the same long journey back. To come all that way and watch such unambitious stuff must have made for a grim old day. Eddie Howe produced some nice football at Bournemouth on zero resources. There are some good players in that team – can he turn it around when backed by the Saudi cheque book?

    As the Arsenal crowd chanted (from the security of 2-0 up)

    You’re rich, but you’re fucking shit.

  11. 11
    North Bank Ned says:

    Steve T@8: A rite of passage properly done, it would seem. Congrats to father and son.

  12. 12
    TTG says:

    Lovely stuff from Steve and C100.
    Steve makes a great point about the recruits being the players driving us forward and Partey and Auba needing to step up and C100 makes a very interesting point about whether you can play Tavares and KT3 together . I thought when Saka went off Arteta might put on KT3 and push Tavares forward – but I’m glad he brought Martinelli on !
    One possibility is to play a three at the back and use KT3 where he plays for Scotland ( and did so well for us when we won the Cup ) and play Nuno as a wing back . Certainly to progress I think we need to look at a much stronger midfield hub than Partey and Xhaka and a much sharper striker than Auba currently is .

  13. 13
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@9: Hope you have thawed out again. I agree with you about Auba. Someone in the bar, possibly TTG, once said they had seen Auba playing for Dortmund when he didn’t do a thing all game but still put a hat-trick past Neuer. I don’t think that sort of striker suits how Arteta wants play, although Auba is clearly willing to do what the manager asks of him. It doesn’t help his cause that he is also, at present, woefully out-of-touch. Balogun seems to be playing a lot for the U-23s. Whether that is to keep him in the shop window for a January loan or match fit for when Auba and Pepe are away at AFCON. I do not know. I wouldn’t be surprised if we bought a striker in January, if the right one was available, especially with Laca likely off in the summer.

    Fitting Tierney and Tavares into the same side will be difficult. One way would be to play KT3 in a back three and the Portuguese as a wingback, but that does not seem likely to be a regular formation for Arteta.

  14. 14
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Magic stuff Steve. Sounds like a cracking weekend!
    Did you manage a roast dinner today? I always like a big roast and a couple of recovery pints after a big weekend 🤣

    And cheers C100, lovely post yourself.

    Great bar this is. Drinks all round!

  15. 15
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@12: I see great minds think alike on the Tierney/Tavares question. 🙂

    I also wonder if Tavares could pair with Lokonga at the base of the midfield if Partey does not work out (although I am less sceptical than you that he will not).

  16. 16
    Countryman100 says:

    Ned and TTG. I wondered about playing Nuno in midfield but he would need to tighten up. At the moment he gives away the ball more than any other player. Could either of them play at right back, if Tomi is suspended or crocked? It’s a conundrum.

  17. 17
    bathgooner says:

    I agree with the anxieties expressed above about Aubaneyang’s recent form and the failure of Partey to dominate midfields in the manner we expected of him.

    At least Aubameyang’s departure to the ACN is less of a concern as a result and as Mulerise observes, it’s an opportunity to give the young pretenders an opportunity to show us what they can do alongside Laca putting himself in the shop window for a good deal with a good club in the summer.

    In contrast the summer’s purchases are proving to be top drawer prospects and have integrated well with our own academy graduates. I think we may see the addition of another experienced midfielder in January.

    I don’t think it’s impossible to get KT3 and Tavares in the same side. Steve Clarke’s solution for Scotland regarding the same question on KT3 and Robertson works well because of the intelligence of the two players and I see no reason why it won’t work with Tavares and KT3. Clearly that is easiest by lining up with 3 at the back and wing backs but Tavares is such an offensively orientated player that I could see him on the left of a midfield 3 in a 4-3-3.

  18. 18
    bathgooner says:

    C100 @16, KT3 has played RB for Scotland in a back 4 with Robertson at LB but not since Clarke started getting good results with 3 at the back.

  19. 19
    TTG says:

    We’ve clearly bought a very interesting player in Nuno. He’s two-footed and very fast but as you say he’s careless with some of his passing. But he’s a terrific piece of scouting . Had we not bought Tomayisu he might have been our right back . I sometimes think fans underestimate how difficult it is to switch positions particularly between midfield and full-back . He has the dynamism and strength that Partey and Xhaka don’t have in abundance and the pace that neither has . But midfielders need to pass accurately as a prerequisite especially in modern football . Some players like Xhaka have decent stats because they don’t pass with penetration but they have very few assists . Of the two left-backs KT3 would, in my opinion adapt to midfield better. He has a great engine, he’s quick, he can tackle and he has a combative mindset . But it would be a gamble

  20. 20
    Countryman100 says:

    The Chelsea Man U game which just finished 1-1 shows how difficult it is to beat a low block, especially if you miss chances. United were woeful, with only a desperate mistake from Jorginho gifting United a goal. But they hung in and put their bodies on the line.

    They are five points behind us going into Thursday night’s game at Old Toilet. Huge game for both teams. We deffo have every chance to win and go eight points clear of them. Also Everton, who we play at Goodison a week tomorrow, were utter pony today.

    Huge week incoming. COYG.

  21. 21
    TTG says:

    To echo C100’s point football has become very different in the last ten years or so . Under Wenger we invariably went down to ten and never lost , often dominating games . I remember us winning at Anfield once with ten in the League . We also beat Liverpool at Highbury in the Cup one year with 9 although thanks to Carragher’s temper they only had 10! It’s very hard to survive with 10 now .
    Now it’s much harder to come from a goal down than it used to be and beating defences who put in place a low block is really hard even if a team isn’t the most gifted going forward . Another thing is that seemingly trivial knocks aren’t run off easily like they used to be and often lead to long lay-offs. Because the game is so much faster the players are probably at full stretch for much longer and more vulnerable to serious injury, especially as the ball is in play for longer because of the ability to recycle and keep possession. Football has changed before our eyes in the last few years and is now a very sophisticated product . That’s why the beer costs so much 😀

  22. 22
    Trev says:

    Wow! barely a kick missed Bath – how do you do it ? Thank you, Sir !

    I found the first half very frustrating and feared a return to the ultra safety first, sideways and backwards football of far too much of last season. However, the second half was much better, more positive and showed the importance of getting the ball moving quickly. If the first half was a ploy to run the steam out of Newcastle then it needed to be executed far quicker than it was. Second however, we finished with three points and a clean sheet, so a decent if not exhilarating day’s work.

    Third however, a look at the league table shows us now in fifth place on goal difference and, as you said, in the mix for – dare we say it – a Champions League place. After a difficult and disappointing start to the season, this has been a remarkable transformation.
    So a tip of the hat to Mikel Arteta and the coaching and scouting teams. While the fashion at the moment seems to be firing and hiring new managers, ours seems to be learning and earning the stripes we all surely hoped he could. He clearly loves the club and it would be great to see something of a fan lead us back where we should be.

  23. 23
    Trev says:

    Some excellent drinks above.

    Steve T – 18th birthdays eh ? Erin’s in three weeks. Is it really possible ?
    Love to see them getting on – hate seeing less of them though…..

  24. 24
    bt8 says:

    Daughter’s 18th birthday in my house is still 5 months in the future but her ETD has the feeling of coming closer and closer (not fast enough for her, probably). 😧

  25. 25
    Las says:

    Cheers Bath, a very well phraised, well-balanced report.
    I agree with you almost everything.
    It was a job done not much fuss or gloss on it. And that is a goood sign the boys did what they had to. On the positve side are Tavares, Lokonga and Saka and especially Martinez performances. I actually wanted to see more from Odegard as he was good enough but I expected more from him against a side as confused as Barcodes was.
    On the flip side are Auba and Partey well below-pair performances. Our captain looked tired and aimless, Partey simply not turned up.
    Summing up it was a good day in the office but there is always room for impovement.
    Ohhh, Steve T and C100 thanks for the athmosphere!

  26. 26
    North Bank Ned says:

    Congratulations to Vivianne Miedema on being voted BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year. https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/59400691

  27. 27
    North Bank Ned says:

    Trev@22: The fourth CL place is going to be a dog fight. I wouldn’t be surprised if, come the end of the season, the points gap between third and fourth will be bigger than that between fourth and ninth.

  28. 28
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Thanks Bath for a comprehensive and highly readable review. Agree with all the observations.

    When was the last time both of our fullbacks assisted in a single game? And not just the run-of-the-mills swinging cross and headed goals kind of assist? Both Tomi and Nuno had excellent games.

    Also loved that Mikel has now started to be more encouraging about the youngsters taking the initiatives and trying to make things happen more and more and not necessarily sticking to a set of patterns. Our first goal — should have been the second, Auba has missed his fair share of sitters over the years but this one was a Morata multiplied by a Gervinho kind of miss — came from Saka deciding to impose himself on the game and moved to the left in tandem with ESR (with Emile staying on the left and Martin covering up for Saka, signs of good intuitive understanding being formed in the practice ground). We have had many young talents in Arsenal over the years, but the kind of authority and sense of ownership Saka brings to his game at this young age has only been demonstrated by Cesc before him.

    I also like that Mikel doesn’t mind the fullbacks or the central midfielders trying long range shots. Even though only Sambi keeps his attempts within the target. Liked Tomi cutting inside and releasing a left footed drive that just fizzed past the post. Nuno would need to get his balance right though, both his physical balance while shooting as well as the balance in decision making about when to shoot and when not to. :–)

    I am sure both Auba and Laca have important roles to play for the rest of the season, bot the least in terms of maturity when things don’t go well, but compared to the vibrancy the young players bring they have started to look their age. Later in the game when Gabi sprinted on a counter attack the difference in the aggressiveness and speed between him and Laca was stark.

    Gabi should really play more in the league. For all his buzzing energy and sometimes positional chaos his finishing in the box has always been of a high quality and this goal showed that he is getting better.

  29. 29
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Ned@26: Beyond the Arsenal women’s team (mainly through highlights of matches) I don’t know too much about all the various players in the top teams, but I think Miedema’s technical qualities and the spatial awareness must be at the very top. Represents the best qualities of Dutch football … if she were playing for the men’s team I think she would still be scoring a lot of goals.

  30. 30
    North Bank Ned says:

    Miedema came fourth in the Women’s Ballon d’Or, too.

  31. 31
    North Bank Ned says:

    Dr F@29: She is also a very thoughtful player who reads the game so well and sees passes early — just the sort of qualities Arteta values.

  32. 32
    Bathgooner says:

    Great to see Arseblog win the Fran Merida award for ‘Fan Media of the Year’. Well deserved IMHO for a daily blog of consistently high quality and being a reliable source of Arsenal news. Well done, sir! 🥂🍾

    In other news, Arseblog has become the subject of an Estonian MA thesis:

    “Fan-made Football Journalism: Its Position in the Media Landscape and Its Critique of Mainstream Journalistic practices. The Case of Arseblog”

  33. 33
    Bathgooner says:

    Returning to more parochial concerns, Keenos on She Wore is absolutely right when he observes that the next two games will determine whether we are truly a competitor for fourth place or are going to be in a major scrap to squeeze into the top six:


    We have a pretty poor record at the Old Toilet even when Manure have been very poor so I would deem that game a ‘must not lose’. Our record at Goodison is pretty patchy but Everton are toiling badly and I expect them to get a thrashing from their neighbours this week so I would deem that game a ‘must win’. Four points from these two games would be an excellent haul.


  34. 34
    North Bank Ned says:

    Bath@33: As mentioned to Trev earlier, we are going to be in a dogfight for fourth come what may. Just two points separate the five teams below us and a further two the three below them. Even Leeds, the team immediately above the drop zone, is only seven points out of a European football place. With that many teams in the mix, there are quite a few ‘six pointers’ over the next month. Any team that can put together a run of results will move rapidly up the table, and vice versa. The fixture list looks relatively friendly for Rangnick’s first half-dozen PL games, even more reason to relieve the Mancs of three points on Thursday evening and continue the run at Goodison and beyond. We have 24 league points at stake between now and January 1, which is Man City, so 21 is the likely maximum we will get. I reckon we need a minimum of 18.

  35. 35
    Doctor Faustus says:

    One of our U-18 players now is selected for the Mexico national team. That is a noticeable achievement as Mexico is a decent international outfit.

    Flores earns call-up to Mexico senior squad

  36. 36
    Bathgooner says:

    Ned @34, you are absolutely right that we are going to encounter a series of six pointers over the next few weeks. A pair of good results in the next two fixtures will put us in a favourable position going into the rest of that series. While the later fixtures are clearly important, the immediate pair of difficult away fixtures will certainly provide a measure of our potential this season.

  37. 37
    TTG says:

    Ray Kennedy – RIP . Sadly Ray has died after a very long battle against Parkinson’s .
    A very significant figure in our history and of course in Liverpool’s

  38. 38
    Esso says:

    Just heard the news TTG. Very, sad day but maybe a release for him and his family.

    #RIP Ray Kennedy

  39. 39
    North Bank Ned says:

    Very sad news about Ray Kennedy. Taken far too young, but that was a long, long battle with Parkinson’s. RIP.

    Deepest condolences to his family.

  40. 40
    North Bank Ned says:

    The Ray Kennedy header that won the league at White Hart Lane

  41. 41
    Noosa Gooner says:

    Some good Arse pictures in this link to Ray Kennedy.
    I particularly like John Radford’s get up in the song picture – very fashionable.

  42. 42
    Osakamatt says:

    thanks Noosa, nice memories of
    a great player

  43. 43
    bathgooner says:

    A great link, Noosa. Some great memories in there. Thanks for posting.

  44. 44
    TTG says:

    Thanks Noosa , great link .

  45. 45
    TTG says:

    Had a discussion with some knowledgeable Gooners about transfers in January
    Overall view ( from them not me ) – most likely
    1. Raheem Sterling ( no chance in my view…ever)
    2. Renato Sanches- very possible
    3. Jovic ( loan)
    1. Pablo Mari
    2. Sead Kolasinac
    3. Mo Elneny
    4. Eddie Nketiah
    5. Alex Lacazette
    6.Leno might leave if we can get a decent replacement.
    The number of outs might be conditioned by whom we get in but it is worth considering that I had never heard of Tomayisu or Tavares or Lokonga before they signed so we may have some under the radar signings lined up . This does suggest we might have some leeway in January especially if we can shed approx £320 k per week from the wage bill. Enough to pay Raheem !

  46. 46
    Pangloss says: