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The sputtering Gunners enter this home match against the Saints, a team fighting to shake off the specter of relegation, on five days’ rest after the poor display on Monday evening against Everton. Arsenal find themselves desperately seeking a potent goal threat, but also have to tighten up at the back seeing as we have witnessed costly errors more than once in recent matches. The sight of one time marksman extraordinaire Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missing an excellent chance to draw the Gunners level with the Toffees as time ran out at Goodison is emblematic of the decline of our former primary goal threat, and the general impotence of our attack.

Manager Mikel Arteta was asked about the club’s inability to score more goals this week, and prescribed these steps to develop a more potent attack: ”encourage the players to take more risks, put the ball more often in the box when we have the opportunity to have more bodies there and start to score the big chances that we have … It’s always a combination, who creates the chances for [the forwards], it’s themselves, it’s the team, it’s the collective capacity for the team to arrive better in conditions in the final third, it’s the numbers in the box, we can look at everything, but the reality is that we need more goals.” No kidding, Mikel.

On the defensive side, the five goals Arsenal let in this week make it 22 goals conceded on the season (1.46 per match) as opposed to the measly 18 goals we scored in those 15 games (1.2 per match). Those are not the kind of numbers that make me think Arsenal will suddenly go on a winning streak but team psychology can change quickly, and it would certainly help if we can recapture some of the positivity we were exuding prior to the disappointing losses at Manchester United and Everton. Our collective psyche since then has hit the skids, but let’s give the lads the opportunity to regain that positivity, see what lessons they have been able to learn, and what bad memories we can leave behind from those two disappointing outings.

Any Arsenal fan can tell you that the team has been setting up in a defensive shell whenever they take a lead, but the shell has soon collapsed. What’s more vexing, the team has been no fun to watch as it tries to hold on without managing any sustained control in the opposition end. It’s reassuring then to know that an Arsenal player can recognize the same pattern. After the Everton game Martin Odegaard admitted the side “stopped playing” after they went into a 1-0 lead. The two key questions are, why does the team regularly do this, and what will Mikel Arteta do to prevent it in future games?

In his comments in the match preview on the club’s official site, Arteta denied that the team sat back to protect the lead, saying “sometimes teams can change their way of playing after conceding a goal, we don’t and we go for the second one and the third one and we’re not gonna change that.” Maybe that’s the intention but it hasn’t looked like it. Hopefully the team will be able to play more confidently in those situations, starting now.

The opposition
Sixteenth-placed Southampton will have enjoyed a full week’s rest after hosting Brighton last Saturday when they conceded a 99th minute equalizer while playing with ten men on manager Ralph Hasenhüttl’s three-year anniversary in charge. Hasenhüttl’s biggest gripe after that game was with keeper Alex McCarthy, who apparently had not told his manager he was struggling with a hamstring injury. Brighton scored the equalizing goal after a Saints defender played Neil Maupay onside as he attempted to cover for the out of position McCarthy.

Saints will rotate their goalkeeper considering Hasenhüttl’s comments — “If [McCarthy’s] not able to jump, we should change him” — after last week’s game. Backup Fraser Forster is injured so Saints signed 40 year old Willy Caballero in midweek, and he is expected to get the nod. Arsenal should expect him to play a blinder. Saints’ center back Mohammed Salisu misses out due to the two yellow cards he received against Brighton. Salisu and midfielder Oriol Romeu are both suspended so Jack Stephens and Ibrahima Diallo are expected to deputise for them. Arsenal’s defenders must watch out for Southampton’s Armando Broja, a young striker on-loan from Chelsea, who last week scored his third league goal in four starts.

I don’t mention it to make the reader feel overconfident about Arsenal’s chances in this one, but Southampton have dropped 71 points in the past three years, 15 more than any other team that has not been relegated in that time; and since the start of 2021, the South Coasters have lost 14 of their 18 Premier League away games. Not surprisingly, Saints have seen quite a turnover of personnel over the last year or so, and personally I had never heard of five of Saints’ eleven who started last week. There is a first time for everything but the Gunners have never lost at home to the Saints in the Premier League. Given some of these oddities, an uninterested observer might even think the Gunners ought to prevail in this one but the proof will only be in the pudding.

Arsenal XI
Gabriel Martinelli, who was finally getting playing time these last few weeks, and doing an impressive job of making his presence felt in the attacking end, is doubtful for this one having picked up a hamstring injury at Everton. Captain Auba, who came on for a late cameo, may be recalled but I don’t see that he has earned the right and would pick Alexandre Lacazette to lead the line. As of Thursday Mikel Arteta was reported to be hopeful of welcoming ESR back to the team, and let’s hope he makes it because his absence was deeply felt against Everton.


Tomiyasu White Gabriel Tierney

Lokonga Partey

Saka Ødegaard Smith Rowe


The ‘holics pound
2-1 is the score-not-to-ignore for fellas like me who speciously claim to have some idea of what to expect. Saints are likely to put in a performance that’s far superior to their billing, but home cooking could be the key to a modest Arsenal recovery, with Gabriel heading in a corner, and Laca sticking away a late rebound to secure the points. Enjoy the game, ‘holics. Surely it can’t be as bad as our last two outings, can it?

59 Drinks to “Unsaintly Gunners Looking to Get Back on Track”

  1. 1
    Bathgooner says:

    Good stuff, bt8. Once again a win is essential. A good performance would be nice but given recent experience, would probably be too much to ask, so let’s just have a win. It’s as well that you decided not to select our misfiring captain as he’s ill according to recent noises off.

  2. 2
    Trev says:

    Cheers bt8 !

    That away form of Southampton’s really should make them the ideal opponents for us today as we try to find some form after our sleepwalk round Goodson Park. This one is not on TV and I’m not sure about the agonies of hunting a stuttering stream to watch anything like a repeat performance….

    Please, please no Xhaka today. Our winning run was achieved without him and Monday’s drag round the horseshoe trail will hopefully have reminded the manager what a dire influence he has on the team. If Arteta really wants the kind of football he talks about in his TV interviews, he has to demand a different style from these players, or find different players.

  3. 3
    Countryman100 says:

    Great preview Bt8. It’s been a miserable week, sport wise. Time to get back on the horse. Match bound in an hour!

  4. 4
    bt8 says:

    Thanks fellas. There is one correction to make. That Saints player is Ibrahima Diallo not Diablo as autocorrect would have it.

  5. 5
    TTG says:

    Very comprehensive preview Bt8 . You highlight a lot of the key points as did your attachment in the previous drinks from Tim Stillman. I’ve almost reached a decision that Arteta isn’t as effective a coach as we thought he was . Our chances created is pathetic we don’t defend well and play the Chuckle Brothers in midfield. Trev’s plea on Xhaka will fall on deaf ears he’s in for the duration now .
    We are in poor form going into the most intense period of the season , hugely dependent on ESR and Saka for any attacking spark but with little in the way of sharpness upfront. We should win this today but a draw wouldn’t surprise me because I can’t see us scoring more than one .
    I wish Holics going a safe and enjoyable afternoon . I’m not sure it’s likely to be that enjoyable

  6. 6
    North Bank Ned says:

    Well scouted preview, bt8. I’ll take your 2-1 in a heartbeat, but then I would take any win. This losing streak has got to be broken.

  7. 7
    North Bank Ned says:

    An unfamiliar face today will be that of the referee, Jarred Gillett, who will be officiating only his fourth PL game. But it will be the Australian’s second Arsenal game as he had the whistle for the League Cup game against Wimbledon in September. He has a lot of experience in Asia, despite being only 35, including World Cup qualifying games. It will be interesting to see how a ref not schooled in PGMOL incompetence handles games. He does seem ready to flash his yellow card: 15 in his three PL games so far and a career average of four a game.

    For the third match in a row, the club’s head to head graphic in its match preview has got the name of our opponents wrong.

  8. 8
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks bt8, fine preview though I hope for a decent 3-0 to The Arsenal today.

  9. 9
    Esso says:

    Arsenal: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney, Partey, Xhaka, Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli, Lacazette

    Subs: Okonkwo, Cedric, Holding, Tavares, Sambi, Maitland-Niles, Pepe, Nketiah, Smith Rowe

  10. 10
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Auba not on the bench? Injured?

    Xhaka … sigh! 🙁

  11. 11
    TTG says:

    Auba ‘ unwell’ , ESR not risked from the start and Martinelli starts. Chuckle Brothers in from the start

  12. 12
    Doctor Faustus says:

    NBN@7 : Yes about the infographics. There are lots of such little mistakes in the website nowadays. Probably they just feed in the data to generate the content from templates and there is some kind of defects that reads the opponent of the match before from the data source.

    But not as defective as that midfield pairing … maybe Granit will prove us all wrong today. Or Partey will remember to play football.

  13. 13
    North Bank Ned says:

    The club must use the same template for the infographic and team selection. Xhaka goes on the teamsheet every game by default, and there is no QA. 🙂

  14. 14
    Bathgooner says:

    It appears that Auba’s absence due to ‘illness’ has morphed into punishment for a disciplinary breach!

    Arteta reveals Aubameyang missing due to ‘disciplinary breach’

  15. 15
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Ned@13: Yes, the team has a past bias error just like the infographics.
    It is a very curious selection … Sambi and Ainsley must be watching the slow death by thousand backwards passes and scratch their head …

  16. 16
    North Bank Ned says:

    The Premier League Injury Table is listing Auba as ‘Suspended’ not ‘Unwell’, citing an ‘internal disciplinary matter.’

    EPL Injury Table

    Does anyone have any further info on this?

  17. 17
  18. 18
    Esso says:

    Sorry already posted.

  19. 19
    North Bank Ned says:

    Dr F@16. If I were Lokonga, I would reason that I am young enough to sit on the bench for half a season in the hope that I would replace Xhaka next season. However, if I were 24-year-old AMN, I would be having my agent looking hard for a January move with my peak playing years fast approaching.

  20. 20
    Doctor Faustus says:

    NBN@19: Right! Mikel is like a smitten teenager who loves the idea of love without really understanding the actual nature of it. He loves the idea of Xhaka without really recognizing the actual nature of it ..,

  21. 21
    OsakaMatt says:

    Shame about Auba, but it’s an XI good enough to beat Soton.

  22. 22
    TTG says:

    I suspected ‘ unwell’ used earlier in the week was a euphemism. We may not see him in an Arsenal shirt again

  23. 23
    OsakaMatt says:

    Nervy first 15, lots of loose passing and an early yellow for Gabriel.
    Some pressure from Soton.

  24. 24
    OsakaMatt says:

    Finally broke the press, opened them up well and it’s 1-0 to The Arsenal!!

  25. 25
    OsakaMatt says:

    Great movement and quick passing on the goal,

  26. 26
    OsakaMatt says:

    Odegaard nods in for the second.
    Oooh, Laca could have made it three

  27. 27
    Ollie says:

    The display on my browser makes Esso appear as Premier League Injury… 😱
    Good start on the scoreboard.

  28. 28
    OsakaMatt says:

    Odegaard outjumping the Soton center-back hahaha.

  29. 29
    OsakaMatt says:

    Odegaard playing some nice stuff, made good chances for Laca and Saka but both missed unfortunately.

  30. 30
    OsakaMatt says:

    Funny half really, we looked second best first 20 and have never been on top but could have scored a couple more. Anyway, I will take the 2-0 quote happily

  31. 31
    scruzgooner says:

    matt plowing a lone furrow!

    xhaka is like a fish bone in the throat. and we are just bypassing the midfield down the sides or over top for our best stuff.

    hell of a ball at the end there from ramsdale to gabi, inch perfect 80 yard punt.

  32. 32
    scruzgooner says:

    agreed @30, matt. we are better than they are, clearly, but not bossing the game.

  33. 33
    OsakaMatt says:

    Yeah, was a great ball scruz, Aaron deserved the assist for that one.
    Early goal second half would be nice and relaxing, an early goal for us
    that is 😉

  34. 34
    Bathgooner says:

    Not watching. Thanks for the updates. Glad to see we can score twice for no replay despite being second best on almost all the other stats.

  35. 35
    Bathgooner says:

    However I dread to think how jittery we will be if the Saints get a goal back!

  36. 36
    scruzgooner says:

    lovely header from gabriel, beautiful corner from gabi.

  37. 37
    scruzgooner says:

    oooooooooh. great break, martinelli off the post

  38. 38
    scruzgooner says:

    piling on the pressure, 66th minute

  39. 39
    scruzgooner says:

    now saka off the post!

  40. 40
    Gooner_KS says:

    Great tempo, second time we hit the post
    The play is mesmerising

  41. 41
    OsakaMatt says:

    Gabriel did well, Saka hitting the post now, could be 5-0 quite easily.
    Hope we can keep the clean sheet now.
    Sensible sub to take Gabriel off on the yellow.

  42. 42
    OsakaMatt says:

    Meandering to a close, thé lesser spotted Pepe on for a run in place of Laca, who actually hung around to the 82nd minute this time. Good result, called the 3-0😄

  43. 43
    scruzgooner says:

    well that was a nice game, in the end. we played better in the second half, could have had three or four more.

  44. 44
    North Bank Ned says:

    Not sure what to make of all that. A comfortable but not commanding win against a poor Soton XI. Some sloppy passing early on could have put us a goal or two down, and Ramsdale had more work to do throughout the game than he should, even if none of it was taxing. Tomiyasu and Ødegaard were the standouts, but mentions in dispatches for Saka, Martinelli and Ramsdale. Scruz, no doubt, will have been pleased to see Holding get a run-out. Pleased, too, see Pepe has been found after going missing for weeks.

  45. 45
    North Bank Ned says:

    We are now two for two when Auba is dropped for disciplinary reasons.

  46. 46
    bt8 says:

    The ‘holics pound was on 2 of the 3 goal scorers, in case anybody needs reminding.🏦🏦

  47. 47
    Countryman100 says:

    Just back. Thought Gabi, Odegaard, White, KT3 and Ramsdale all excellent. Partey and Laca much improved. Gabriel and Tomi very good Slightly nervy first 15 when Xhaka was giving the ball away a lot – he didn’t improve. Glorious first goal, Ramsdale to White, to Odegaard, released Saka, terrific first time ball, Laca swept it in with aplomb. Team goal of the year so far. From that point we had the cigars on. Looking forward to Pangloss’s review.

  48. 48
    Countryman100 says:

    Reading reports, it was Tomi that laid in Saka for that first goal. Outstanding.

  49. 49
    scruzgooner says:

    c100, it was ramsdale to gabriel to ramsdale to white to partey to tomi to mø to tomi to saka to laca and gooooooooooaaaallllllll!

    20 seconds from start to finish.

  50. 50
    Countryman100 says:

    Even at the crowd, playing away from me but on my side, it was utterly delicious. As the Welsh sing at Cardiff Arms Park, feed me till I want no more!

  51. 51
    bt8 says:

    Negroni stupor. What could be better and it’s not even 3PM. I blame Scruz.

  52. 52
    bt8 says:

    A bit confusing, that last goal what with Gabriel taking the corner for nobody else than Gabriel to head it into the net. Sleight of hand?

  53. 53
    Countryman100 says:

    Martinelli took the corner. Great header.

  54. 54
    scruzgooner says:

    bt8 @51, i hope you mean to continue as you started. 1 every other hour or so ought to keep you happy.

  55. 55
    Gooner_KS says:

    The number and the manner of soft penalties other teams got awarded today, fuckn unbeliveable

  56. 56
    TTG says:

    Glad you enjoyed it C100.
    I saw a lot of the game and my sense of the standout players was similar although White didn’t begin well but improved significantly as did Partey . Toms is a huge asset and Ramsdale a fine goalie and massive personality .
    Xhaka was execrable in the first 15 minutes . For a bloke who is supposed to be a no risk passer he caused mayhem . At best he was 5/10.
    Our first goal is a big contender for MOTD Goal of the Month

  57. 57
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100: Watching via a screen, the crowd seemed quiet, almost edgy for the first 20 mins, and there looked to be more than a few empty seats. How did it look/sound from inside the Ems?

    And well in for the half-ton.

  58. 58
    Countryman100 says:

    Ned. It was pissing down. Everyone was cold and wet. Thank Christ the boys cheered us up. I think it was positive as possible given the last two games and the awful weather.

  59. 59
    Pangloss says: