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“The Creation of Arsenal”, by Michelangelo Buonarroti, depicting the moment at which a beneficent God gave life to a new Arsenal, here left, represented by Mikel Arteta.
Picture courtesy of Withum.com 

Back in August I wrote the review of the total dismantling we suffered up at The Emptihad and so I was keen to use this review as a means of measuring the progress made since. I think after that performance we can well and truly believe that we have reached an inflexion point in terms of the direction of travel for the club. 

First Half

Immediately the game started, it was apparent that the team had been prepared such that they were full of confidence and had no fear of the expensively assembled group of mercenaries employed by an oil state to sports wash their image. We were pressing intelligently around the halfway line and managing to take the ball off Citeh. It was pressing with a purpose while not being tempted into pressing into the Citeh half and thus managing to compress the space available to pass into. A lesson learned from the August match, it seems to me.

The first real action occurred in the 10th minute when a fantastic 70-yard pass – pass, not hoof – from Ramsdale was taken down beautifully right on the touchline by the tireless Martinelii, who then ran at his defender before offloading to Laca on the edge of box who passed perfectly to Ødegaard. MØ took it past Ake as though he wasn’t there and was taken down by the onrushing Ederson. The referee didn’t give it, as it was not necessarily an obvious foul. However, this is the purpose of VAR. At least this is what we were led to believe. The very first angle shown in TV, which I can only assume was also shown to the habitues of the shadows back at Stockley Park, clearly showed that Ederson makes contact with Ødegaard’s foot which then itself knocks the ball out. Hence, no contact on the ball and a pen. But wait, for if the people using the technology can find a way to obfuscate they surely will, so they seemed to focus on other less obvious images and angles than the first one. This was eerily similar to what they did a couple of years ago when we won a penalty at home in the game against Leeds where the first angle shown on TV, showing a clear penalty, was not shown in the VAR review to the referee. In the end a corner was given. 

On 14 minutes Citeh really ought to have scored when some good possession on the edge of the box resulted in odious, serial-cheating hobgoblin Sterling sending in an excellent cross picking out an equally excellent run in behind by Dias who just failed to get a significant enough touch on the ball to divert it past Ramsdale. 

The game was really hotting up now and in the 16th minute, following some beautiful work by the dominant Partey, the livewire Martinelli got away from his man and forced Ederson into a good save resulting in a corner.

We then had a period of around 10 minutes where we were excellent from front to back. Pressing, energy, winning second phase balls and generally putting City under a huge amount of pressure.  This culminated in the goal in the 31st minute. Ben White strode out to steal the ball from de Bruyne, there followed some lovely midfield interplay between Partey, Xhaka and Ødegaard who released Tierney on the left. A devastatingly simple pass from Tierney towards the penalty spot allowed Saka to come in from the blindside of the statuesque Citeh defender and slot into the bottom right with his left foot. A genuine thing of beauty.

Arsenal 1 Citeh 0

In the 39th minute the relentless harrying and pressing from Arsenal resulted in a break allowing Martinelli to take an Henryesque shot from the left side of the box towards the top right corner which went narrowly over. Martinelli continued in the same vein when, in the 42nd minute, he intercepted a misplaced pass on the edge of the Arsenal defensive third and took off like a greyhound chasing a rabbit, slaughtering Cancelo with a piece of footballing prestidigitation before coming inside and bamboozling Dias and Cancelo, again, before getting a shot off which beat the keeper but unfortunately also beat the right-hand post.  Wow! Just wow!

Second Half

We started the second half exactly as we had ended the first. Unfortunately, in the 53rd minute, Xhaka Xhakaed. He was turned inside out in the box by Silva and stuck his leg out needlessly. I can’t believe that the penalty was given for the tug of the shirt as much as the fact that Xhaka stuck his leg out. At the same time, the inconsistency of the application of VAR is here for all to see. Citeh get a referee review with the relevant angle shown to the ref. We didn’t, on the basis of VAR being selective in the angles they choose to replay. This is not good enough and lacks consistency and, more importantly, transparency. Without these two, the integrity of the entire PGMOL and VAR operation has to be called into question.

Arsenal 1 Citeh 1

Five minutes after the foul we very nearly, and quite deservedly, restored the lead when pressure on the Citeh defence as they back pedalled to deal with a bouncing ball resulted in Cancelo heading it over his own keeper. Ake recovered to clear the ball on the line but only succeeded in knocking it out to Martinelli who only managed to hit it from 12 yards out onto the angle of post and crossbar.   He was hindered in his progress by the oaf Atwell who for some reason, despite only being 12 yards out himself decided to continue running towards the ball, requiring Martinelli to run round him.  This is purely and simply lack of awareness on Atwell’s part, but it is the kind of thing you would see in a Sunday morning pub league game. This was immediately followed by Gabriel receiving a second yellow, quite rightly, for blocking Jesus, a man who has the permanent visage of a 4-year-old who can’t get his own way and is about to cry. 

We held out manfully from this point to the end of the game without really being under too much pressure. The referee started to behave increasingly erratically, seemingly booking Arsenal players for the most minor infractions as if to reinforce the fact that the homunculus in black was firmly in charge. There was a feeling of inevitability about the denouement in the 93rd minute where a ball ricocheted around the box and fell kindly to Rodri to slot home.

Final Score Arsenal 1 Citeh 2


  1. We have all been waiting for the game in which we step up and match one of the top three. In terms of a result, we didn’t quite manage this yesterday, however I have to think that the nature of the performance was more important and provided the sign that we are firmly headed in the right direction. There was so much to like about everything we did yesterday; from the organisation and heart on display to the element of sh*thousery we showed when necessary.
  2. One of the points we clung onto back in August was that we had players out from the Euros and with Covid and so we hoped that once we had “Arteta’s team” things would be different. It is perhaps instructive that of the starting 11 yesterday, only four players started back in August – Tierney (the only one of the back five to make it), Xhaka, Saka and Ødegaard.   I think we saw yesterday that the extra quality purchased in the summer, backed up by quality coaching and the obvious building of a team ethic on the part of Arteta and his management team is in the process of transforming the club and taking us back towards where we want to be.
  3. Xhaka is always going to Xhaka. I can understand that he has redeeming features, not least his team ethic. However, any good points will always be outweighed by the fact that you know in big games he will do something unnecessary resulting in a booking, a sending off, a penalty, a goal conceded or all of the above. We desperately need to find a replacement, if not in this window then certainly in the summer as he has proved time and again that he is incapable of changing.
  4. Stats – Somehow 13 fouls given against Arsenal were converted into 5 yellow cards.  Is that really correct? Somehow, City were only penalised 5 times in the entire game.  
  5. Referees and VAR. With every Premier League game that I watch, I become more firmly entrenched in my view that the entire concept of the PGMOL and its control and misuse of VAR is designed wholly with the intention of creating incident and talking points as opposed to the way in which mug punters, such as ourselves and the supporters of all clubs in the Premier League, want it to be used – for the purposes of ensuring the correct decisions are arrived at for the right reasons.  Now we have inconsistency both within and across games and it is just not good enough. The right thing to do is to support the decision makers through scrutiny in the same way as umpires in cricket and referees in rugby union are – by having them all miked up and allowing them to explain their decisions. To borrow from Ann Widdecombe, there is something of the night about the entire edifice that is PGMOL, unsurprising when you consider that Mike Riley sits atop the organisation. There is no transparency, no ability to question the men who are the ultimate guardians of the game. The Roman satirist Juvenal wrote “Quis custodiet Ipsos custodes” – Who shall watch over the watchers themselves?.  If they cannot be trusted to perform this role for the benefit of the paying public then it is time to sweep them away and put in place a new organisation.

After the misery of the last couple of years both in terms of Arsenal and societally, this was just the kind of performance to give us hope for the future. A happy, healthy and prosperous 2022 to one and all.

80 Drinks to “The Agony and The Ecstasy”

  1. 1
    Depresedgooner says:

    Actually agree with everything you say and previous drinks, we were awesome and robbed blind by bad officiating but that second point is hardly new.

    For the first time in a long time I am genuinely optimistic for the future.

  2. 2
    Countryman100 says:

    CER. A great balanced match report. I am so encouraged by the performance. Yes Atwell was awful, but, as you so rightly point out, Xhaka did what Xhaka does and robbed us of three points for the umpteenth time. So nice to see the Partey we thought we bought. Without Partey our next games are Liverpool, Forest, Liverpool and Spurs. Let’s keep this level up boys, because it’s great to see.

  3. 3
    Countryman100 says:

    If you enjoyed our very own clockendrider’s account of the game, try that of Mike McDonald on Gunners Town. Spoiler, they both agree on most things and both write really well.

    Big fat respect points: Arsenal’s bright future shines beyond controversy [Ars 1-2 MCI]

  4. 4
    Bathgooner says:

    Very much the match I saw, CER. A report to match the team’s endeavours. I am both proud of and amazed at the performance we produced. That performance was far better than my greatest hopes and far beyond my expectations. Hopefully we can harness the anger generated by the unjust outcome and focus our fire on future games.

    Attwell was poor and far from even-handed in his decision making but the malevolent spirit in this farce was Gillet in the VAR Control Bunker. His decision making regarding advice to the referee on the two possible penalties was far from fair. Actually both of these individuals have form when it comes to their records on decisions that penalise the Arsenal at critical moments.

    I disagree with the widely shared idea that Xhaka cost us the three points. Xhaka is always going to disappoint as a result of his clumsy tackling, his slow footedness, his willingness to play on the edge of the law and his susceptibility to red mist. We cannot expect any change in that ‘skill-set’ now and we must upgrade that position in the next two windows. I have every faith that MA8 has that on his ‘to do’ list. Xhaka being ‘done’ by Silva cost us the pen and the pen itself cost us two points. We still had momentum and made chances to retake the lead before Gabriel lost the plot. Gabriel far more than Xhaka cost us the three points. That stupid pair of yellow cards swung the game every bit as much as Gillet did. Hopefully he will learn but for me Gabriel is the bigger fly in the ointment.

  5. 5
    TTG says:

    This is a very high quality report which surfaces all of the key points about the game and the wider concerns about current football in general . You’ve covered so much of the key action . Perversely I’ve almost felt since the game like I do when we have a big victory. I’d not harboured great expectations of victory but needed to see we were on an upward path. I watched Citeh outclass the Chavs at the Bus Stop and give the Bindippers a football lesson at Anfield ( although they only drew ) . They are extraordinarily gifted yet for 50 minutes we totally outplayed them something that Guardiola acknowledged. That constitutes an upward path .
    Particularly encouraging for me was the performance of Partey who was the best player on the field . It was by far the best game I’ve seen him have . Tomiyasu needs to remember to take Sterling out of his pocket before he gets his kit washed and Gabriel was brilliant until he fatefully blocked off Jesus .
    I won’t dwell on the referees and VAR , I’m sure we will discuss it during the week . The VAR official chalked off that goal against Palace a couple of years ago , one that the PL recanted on afterwards. I would suggest his competence to do that job needs assessing. Atwell had a nightmare .
    Finally as for Xhaka what can I say ? He is a brain fart waiting to happen . I allowed myself to acknowledge how well he was playing yesterday and then he failed to deal with Silva . Arteta’s revolution can only go so far with him in the side . He is a major drag on progress

  6. 6
    Jax says:


    Mike McDonald would never disrespect opposition players in the way that this blogger does.
    Dave Faber would NOT approve.

  7. 7
    Bathgooner says:

    I should add that in my opinion these two officials have not only brought the Premier League into disrepute (did that not once carry a sanction?) but have moreover raised questions about the validity and integrity of the competition.

  8. 8
    Countryman100 says:

    Bath. Can I add to my condemnation of Xhaka? He reacts to referees petulantly and emotionally. As a senior and highly influential player in a very young team, the young ones will follow his lead. He should have been pulling Gabriel away from the referee, not leading the charge towards him. Yes Gabriel was immature, but he was aided, abetted and led by Xhaka. Get rid.

  9. 9
    Countryman100 says:

    Jax @6. To what are you referring? If it is the reference to City being a bunch of mercenaries then I am sure DF has employed that very phrase many times.

  10. 10
    North Bank Ned says:

    A well-measured match report, CER. Not easy to get the balanced perspective you achieved between our best performance of the season by a distance and a defeat somewhat of our own making. Nothing to disagree with in your five-point conclusion.

    On Xhaka, the reality is that we have to score twice to offset his routine moment of ineptitude in games. That is a big ask against top teams. Mike McDonald (h/t to C100 for the link) suggests the Swiss could be coached out of his clumsiness when tackling. Perhaps, although I suspect he is too old a dog to teach new tricks.

    The implementation of VAR is getting beyond belief. Complaints about inconsistency go far beyond our walls. There is an urgent need for accountability and transparency in the process. If, as has been reported, VAR could not exclude with 100% certainty that Ederson had not touched the ball before clattering Ødegaard, then that could be said straightaway.

    It cannot be beyond the wit of officials to produce a sentence of explanation of each decision that could be shown immediately on the big screens or broadcast at grounds, as rugby and cricket do, plus a lengthier public explanation of all decisions published after games for the record. There would then be some basis for assessing the quality of the review decisions and a data set which could be used to tackle the question of inconsistency (assuming the PGMOL has any interest in doing so; and if they don’t, then, as you suggest, CER, they should go).

    Another issue is pitch-side reviews by referees. Why does the referee see just one camera angle? VAR’s decision on which one to show becomes hugely material.

  11. 11
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@9: A cursory search of the Guv’nor’s writings turns up multiple references to mercenaries, including:

    The win surprised nobody who appreciated beforehand that this would be a match between a team that has been coming together for some time now, comfortable with their more flexible approach to matches, and an assembly of mercenaries…

  12. 12
    Ollie says:

    A defeat that brings much hope. Weirdly. Cheers CER. With a couple of adjustments, I believe the future is bright.
    NED @10: ‘It cannot be beyond the wit of officials…’. Are you sure? 😉

  13. 13
    TTG says:

    If they played for Tottnumb or the Chavs or behaved in an inappropriate way Dave would be the first to call them out

  14. 14
    Countryman100 says:

    Since he moved to the Guardian, Jonathan Liew has been one of the best sportswriters in the country, if not the best. This, on Saka, is quite brilliant.


  15. 15
    Doctor Faustus says:

    A superbly recounted and tastefully balanced review CER! You and all the other Arsenal supporters on the ground were on full song yesterday and on the TV it was clear to see how much connection our young team, playing with so much verve and skills, are building with the supporters on the ground.

    (Thanks everyone for the kind words about the preview in the last post.)

    That was a magnificent performance by the team. Tactically flawless, brave, incisive, on the front foot, decisive and completely outplayed the most expensively assembled squad ever in all areas of the pitch. The anger of this unjust result, once channeled constructively, would only hone the team’s desire and discipline.

    Premier league refereeing has not been of acceptable standard for a very long time now, VAR simply has held a magnifying glass to further expose the incompetence (it surely has to be that, because the other alternative is worse…) of the lot. I look back at our away game against the other big team from Manchester and remember a block of cement pulling Tomi by the shirt down to the ground in the penalty box, and compare that to the penalty we conceded today. The penalty that Martin didn’t get is the one he gave away in the same match… the list is endless.

    Two 20 year old wingers completely tore apart the “premier league’s best ever team” defense by their skill, intelligence and work ethic. Partey had his best game for us and dominated the midfield. Tomi made “world class English talent” Sterling look like a Sunday league player.

    Even when we went down to ten men we played with not only a lot of character but also composure on the ball and willingness to attack. Their winning goal was fluke-y as well.

    After our excellent goal, my second favorite moment of the match was when Gabi intercepted a pass in our half, ran with the ball past players, turned Conchelo and another of their defenders insider out in the penalty box, and his left footed spinning finish beat Ederson but just missed the goal. We have had lot of quality forward players even after the invincibles, but since Henry left we haven’t had anyone who could do that — the alertness, the speed, skills, confidence, audacity — to a high quality opposition.

  16. 16
    bt8 says:

    Howdy CER and glad you enjoyed our performance if not the odious Attwell’s. Prestidigitation and bamboozling in the same sentence. I’ll assume that to be a positive review of Martinelli’s skills displayed on that move. 😉 Now to read the rest of your report.

  17. 17
    Steve T says:

    Cheers CER

    I agree totally with a lot of what has already been said. It was a fine performance that deserved so much more. The positives were there for all to see. I have said so many times about how we have been poor when we have not had possession This is an area that has improved immeasurably in recent months. We fought, battled and pressed relentlessly. As Pep said in his after match interview, we were the better side. We had quality throughout the entire side.

    The first half was as good as I have seen us play against quality opposition for some considerable time. It felt like we should have been more than one up at the break. All in all, it was an excellent game. A excellent game that became totally ruined by the ridiculous
    use of VAR which ended up in Atwell totally losing control of a game that did not look that difficult to officiate.

    I am a fan of VAR, but like everything else in life, if you put it in the hands of incompetent buffoons then expect nothing else than it to go wrong. I find the way VAR is used to be totally bizarre. With so many decisions being subjective, surely there should be only one person involved in the decision making? How can it possibly be the way forward to sit and wit for 2 minutes plus, for someone sat in a studio 100 miles away, to then tell the on field referee that he might want a second look???? Just ridiculous. Football is such a fast moving game who can honestly say that they are 100% convinced that they are confident that their initial decision was correct? No one I would suggest. So why not let the ref just have a second viewing. ‘The on field decision is a penalty, I am going to review it to see if there is any reason to overturn my decision.’ Exactly how it works in both cricket and rugby. It’s so easy. If there is consistency then both decisions are reviewed and both should then be given as penalties. Is it really that difficult? How was it that VAR seemed to work so well in the Euros?

    All of that said, we were still on control of the game an out destiny and in the end, masters of our own downfall. You are spot on CER, we did receive 5 bookings to Citeh’s 2. One was for Saka waving an imaginary card, one was for Xhaka being Xhaka, and two were for Gabriel. The first of these I am led to believe was for tying to scuff the penalty spot? Just think, if he remembers for just one second that he is not playing in an under 11’s match, a completely unnecessary foul committed on the half way line results in us still having 11 on the pitch. If Xhaka does not decide to swap shirts 35 minutes before the final whistle, then he does not give the officials a decision to make. Bizarre brain farts from two of our more senior players. It has always frustrated me that when battling against elements that we can’t change, that we take matters into our own hands with out own actions.

    There are some really good signs coming out of this team. Before the sending off I thought Gabriel and White were outstanding at the back. All of the reports that I have seen suggest that Saliba is having a very good year in France. That all bodes very well for the future. Tommi has been a revelation. He was again outstanding, As others have said, Partey looked as good as he has ever done in an Arsenal shirt. There is also the crop of younger players that have come through that are just outstanding. Again, if Martinelli does not miss that open goal?

    I guess it tells you how far we have come if I feel genuinely disappointed not to have taken at least a point from that game. No doubts there will be bumps in the road and inconsistencies to follow. However, the future looks very bright. If we continue to make the right decisions re those coming into the club and with those leaving, then the future looks very bright indeed.

    Happy New Year boys and girls.

  18. 18
    ClockEndRider says:

    Thanks All. I must say that, when the comments are so universally reflected both in this blog and across every other one I have read in terms of us all being comfortable with the defeat given the monumental progress since August, you know there is genuinely something building. It is early days and as Steve T above says, there will be bumps in the road but, in the words of Herman’s Hermits, something tells me we’re into something good.

  19. 19
    Trev says:

    A quite excellent write up, CER,
    … and a very restrained analysis of where officiating is at.

    Like, I think, everyone else I was surprised and elated to see how we bossed the “best club side in Europe / the world” as I have heard them referred to. They have yet to prove that, by the way, in terms of silverware, having failed to win the Champions League despite shelling out around £2 billion to that end. Were it not for that dubiously legitimised injection of funds – in terms of FFP – they would still be struggling to beat Bolton in League 1. Apart from the fact that we didn’t win them, I don’t care about any of their Premier League wins – all financially doped and consequently meaningless.

    At The Arsenal, by contrast, we have an ex captain and now manager patiently, if sometimes frustratingly, building a team based on well coached and drilled young players who are beginning to repay his faith in them in truly exhilarating fashion.

    We would have won that game yesterday were it not for the ridiculous inconsistency of a hopelessly incompetent referee and a VAR from among his ranks to match. Had Xhaka not pulled that shirt and given VAR the opportunity, the penalty would not have been given and Gabriel would not have earned his stupid first yellow card for scuffing up the spot. Both culpable in my mind and Gabriel magnified his misdemeanour with a daft foul right under the referee’s nose.

    Overall an exciting glimpse of what is hopefully to come. We were the better team. I have absolutely no sympathy for Pep’s pleading that his mega squad was tired as the poor loves had actually had to play some football matches.

    Huge credit to Mikel Arteta, all the coaching staff and the players for a quite brilliant performance.

  20. 20
    North Bank Ned says:

    Ollie@12: 🙂

  21. 21
    North Bank Ned says:

    Steve T@17: Well said.

  22. 22
    North Bank Ned says:

    Albert Stuivenberg says that Gabriel’s first yellow card was for a remark to the referee, not for scuffing the penalty spot.

    It was our 100th Premiership red card. We are the first club to reach that unwanted milestone.

  23. 23
  24. 24
    North Bank Ned says:

    If anyone is interested, this is the Premiership Red Card Top Ten Hall of Shame:

    1. Arsenal 100
    2. Everton 99
    3. Newcastle United 90
    4. Chelsea 82
    5. West Ham United 79
    6. Blackburn Rovers 77
    7. Manchester City 74
    8. Tottenham Hotspur 70
    9. Manchester United 69
    10. Southampton 64

  25. 25
    ClockEndRider says:

    Bath @23 – I commend the link to the bar.

  26. 26
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@14: Another h/t for a link. That is an uplifting read.

  27. 27
    bt8 says:

    Love the image an caption …

  28. 28
    Silly Second Yella says:

    red card heroes!

    North London is red!

    (better red than dead)

  29. 29
    bt8 says:

    Finally finished reading amidbhousehold chores. Great and fair match review, CER. Just wanted to repeat two things back at you. Happy New Year and Quis custodiet Ipsos custodes, my new favorite Latin phrase. Let the PGMOL members all speak Latin to each other when both are obsolete.

  30. 30
    ClockEndRider says:

    Cheers, BT8. And I firmly hope PGMOL is obsolete before Latin is!

  31. 31
    Uplympian says:

    A truly first class match report CER – you encapsulated it to a tee. The disappointment of gaining sweet F A from the match was assuaged by watching a young team showing that they can become a force not too far away.
    A lot of heat is being raised by the controversies surrounding the performance of referees and VAR men, not just in this match but in many matches during this season so far and the seasons preceding. This is quite understandable and not the least surprising – they are one and all the same incompetent people. VAR was meant to help eradicate (well minimise) the amount of controversial refereeing decisions but the opposite has happened. The standard of refereeing in the EPL has declined immeasurable over the past 20 years and directs us to the complete failure at the PGMOL and it’s boss – Mike Riley. It remains unaccountable and only panders to its own limitations. I do not believe it is corrupt in the wider meaning of the word but it certainly is in its inward self protection and unwillingness to address the issues of its inherent incompetence. Until the PGMOL structure is radically altered I fear we will suffer this mediocre performance of refereeing for the foreseeable future.

  32. 32
    Ciarán says:

    Though Kevin was my brother not my father
    There’s three Ciaráns last count. I’m not the son one. 😃 All the very best to David’s family and all the very best to David’s family here.
    Happy New Year
    Up The Arsenal

  33. 33
    Lonestar Gooner says:

    Excellent match report. No longer fuming. I hope the boys remain incandescent at their core whilst tempering that fury with a steely resolve. Consistency over the next few weeks through the Derby will be required to consolidate our improvements.

    Steady on.

  34. 34
    North Bank Ned says:

    Uply@31: You are spot on about the PGMOL. Without accountability and transparency, institutions cease to be driven by their original purpose and start to function solely to perpetuate themselves and their power and position. Rather like the old Soviet Union. PGMOL even sounds like a branch of Russia’s intelligence services.

  35. 35
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Cheers CER. Really wonderful report.

    Unfortunately, the first thing I must adress is the rather cryptic post of Jax @6, since he has taken it upon himself to tell us about what Dave Faber would not have approved of.

    Now, i would guess, (and I stress, that due to the incredibly vague, ill-expained post in question, it can only be a guess) that Jax has taken issue with CER’s description of Sterling.

    Fair enough, personally i think CER can be a little harsh on the man. But, CER is talking, very clearly, about Sterling as a football player. Not about the man, or his efforts and impact in the wider community, or the way he supports causes that are important to many people globally, and on this blog.

    As a football player he has done a lot of diving, play-acting and snidy ref-conning, and the fact that he has stood up for some damn good causes off the pitch does not give him a free pass on an opposition team’s blog not to be called out for his dishonest play on the football field.

    So, Jax, if you have a point to make (perhaps, I, or the other posters who have already responded have misunderstood you?), then you are welcome to reply and explain what you meant. Dave Faber welcomed everyone on his blog who posted respectfully, and we try to honour him here by doing the same.

    But, I am sure you can understand, that a poorly explained two sentence condemnation of one of our own, using Dave Faber’s name to back up your ill-explained contention, might be something that we here would call out for further explanation?

    I look forward to hearing from you about just what you meant, and just why you felt it was appropriate not only to speak for yourself, but to bring Dave’s name into it?

  36. 36
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Steve and I don’t always agree about refs. Your post @ 17 is spot on mate.

    Well said.

    And many other good drinks above. Cheers all.

  37. 37
    Trev says:

    Steve T – well said mate. Hope you’re all good – Happy New Year to you all !

  38. 38
    OsakaMatt says:

    Great report, thanks CER.
    @4 Fair comment on Gabriel I think Bath, it was a pity and we’ll miss him as he has been excellent this season in the new look defence. The speed with which the regular back 5 have built an understanding together has been amazing. And a great impact on reduced heart murmurings and grey hairs amongst the faithful😃

  39. 39
    bt8 says:

    Credit where credit is due to Steve T for proving you have your limits where bad refereeing is concerned. 😆

    Considering that Saka and Martinellinran circles around their defenders, is it any coincidence that you did it on the same day it was impossible to criticize Arsenal’s play for a lack of width? 🥸

  40. 40
    TTG says:

    A thread on Xhaka that says much more than I can be bothered to

  41. 41
    Ollie says:

    ‘The worst’. Nothing like Twitter for reasonable points of view…

  42. 42
    Silly Second Yella says:

    Xhaka OUT!

  43. 43
    Countryman100 says:

    Excellent win by Wolves against United. Beat Spurs (in our next league game) and we’re in great shape.

  44. 44
    TTG says:

    I think you and I can remember a few candidates for that title ! But headlines like tgat attracts clicks .
    I think we may have the solution in house next season . Move White to Xhaka’s position and bring in Saliba

  45. 45
    Ollie says:

    Indeed TTG.
    And I am very intrigued about what will happen wirh Saliba next season.

  46. 46
    scruzgooner says:

    ned, @62 from the last drinks. i just rewatched the first half of the game, and it was impressive how we negated de bruyne. he had no connection with ake, and most of the balls he took were from the center. saka kept the channel from ake closed, and between tomi and partey they forced city to not pass to him. he had a couple good moments, and the shot that missed high and right. in general he was not allowed to play his game, and had little impact on the first half.

    the goal: laca’s movement at the time of kt3’s pass forced ake back a couple steps, allowing saka to come forward. then laca’s body was in the way of ake’s recovery, and the other city defender wasn’t close enough to do anything (he’d been inside of laca, thinking he was going to intercept the ball from tierney). saka had the easiest of jobs to sweep it home, and he made no mistake.

    cer, great job on the review. point by point. well in.

    trev and steve t. above, great posts. bt8@39, you’re funny 🙂

    i am still disappointed we lost, but after reviewing the first half am thrilled with how we played them. it was nearly perfect. had gabi taken one or both of his chances (or mø’s first touch had been just that bit less heavy, allowing him to get off a shot) it would have made any issues with the refs or VAR immaterial, or less so. and gabi’s take from ramsdale’s pass, and his run beating cancelo all ends up were two of the thrilling moments of the half…he deserved a goal!

  47. 47
    scruzgooner says:

    ttg@44, yes, please. saliba and holding can deputise until they get to the point where one wins it over the other. marí will be in that mix, as well.

    tomi — saliba — gabriel — kt3
    white — partey
    saka — mø — esr

    is pretty tasty. bench of okonkwo, holding, marí, tavares, sambi, amn, pépé, laca (give him a year contract), and balogun looks pretty good, as well.

  48. 48
    North Bank Ned says:

    An interesting notion about White playing as DM. He has done it about a dozen times, most notably in seven games for Brighton about a year ago after Potter switched to playing a back three. But he then reverted to being one of the back three.

  49. 49
    scruzgooner says:

    ned, i’d take him over xhaka any day of the week. and if saliba is as good a defender as he’s supposed to be (in the prem, that is), partey can play the shuttle while ben cleans up. and he’s good enough with the ball at his feet to bring it forward when the moment arises.

  50. 50
    North Bank Ned says:

    My only question, Scruz, is what it might mean for Lokonga’s future.

  51. 51
    scruzgooner says:

    i see lokokga backing up partey, pairing with him against lesser teams. or pairing with amn so we have ample rotation.

    well in for the half ton, ned.

  52. 52
    ecg says:

    With Partey heading off to AFCON, I suspect we will see Lokonga paired with Xhaka for the next month. If Lokonga develops to the potential that everyone says he has, he will probably replace Partey in a couple of years. Partey will be 29 in June so we might be seeing the best of him in the next couple of years, and hopefully Lokonga will be able to learn from him.

  53. 53
    scruzgooner says:

    certo, ecg.

  54. 54
    TTG says:

    The Italian Press is suggesting we have bid again for Vlahovic in a part exchange with Torreira but that he doesn’t fancy coming to us . They also suggest Roma are giving us an ‘ ultimatum ‘ on AMN , who they require imminently . Well pay the required fee then and don’t dick around like you did with Xhaka .
    It appears to be the case that KSE are sanctioning big expenditures on the right kind of player .Credit to them for overseeing a much more coherent approach in the last year .

  55. 55
    ClockEndRider says:

    Thanks for the info, TTG. I’m off to track down the Corriere dello sport!

  56. 56
    ClockEndRider says:

    In the Corriere della sera, Vlahovic is saying he wants to stay at Fiorentina until the end of the season to help them qualify for Europe.

  57. 57
    ClockEndRider says:

    And that’s also about all it says in the corriere dello sport, reporting on an interview with a Serbian outlet. Other than that he appears to be ruling nothing out.

  58. 58
    Bathgooner says:

    Another opportunity for a signed shirt while supporting a good cause:

  59. 59
    bt8 says:

    Article in an Italian publication with English language adverts. Imbeciles have no clue that I would have been more interested in the products if the adverts were in Italian. Sorry, CER that was a bit off topic. 🙂

  60. 60
    North Bank Ned says:

    While we are all reading the Italian press with our morning espresso, Calciomercato quotes Fiorentina’s general manager, Joe Barone, on Vlahovic: ‘We are only at the beginning of January, let’s see what it can bring us.’ Barone also says Vlahovic’s agent is negotiating a move. So, as CER says, nothing appears ruled out.

    Calciomercato also says that we want 1 million (euros, I assume, although it is not specified) for AMN’s loan and then 15 million in the summer to make the move permanent (the same sum we rejected last summer from Everton), but Roma is sticking at its offer of 10 million. The two sides are also far apart, it says, on how many appearances AMN would have to make to trigger a mandatory purchase in the summer. This is starting to look like Xhaka redux.

  61. 61
    North Bank Ned says:

    scruz and ecg: That all makes sense on Lokonga’s future.

    bt8@59. The imbecile will be an AI geo-targeting you.

  62. 62
    Ollie says:

    TTG@54. I had no idea that Torreira was still contracted to us. :-O
    A bit like when I saw Kolasinac at the start of the season.

  63. 63
    bt8 says:

    Re: Ned and the unnamed AI. I believe you are correct but somewhere along the line the Italians became complicit as have most other countries and publishers I believe. Not sure how this stuff works but it doesn’t work very well for me. 😤

  64. 64
    scruzgooner says:

    jack’s looking for a new club (the viewers mentioned at the start are tottenham supporters, i guess): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYnkfgYOQI8

  65. 65
    bt8 says:

    Liverpool requested a postponement. Why should we not receive a bye as Tottenham did in last year’s Carabao Cup in similar circumstances?

    If I read the BBC story correctly, and if Liverpool have that many positive Covid tests, all we would need to progress to the Carabao Cup final would be for the Islington Borough Council to issue an order preventing the match being played as planned. That’s the procedure that worked for Sp**s against Orient: https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/54295512.amp

  66. 66
    North Bank Ned says:

    bt8@65: It seems that the neighbours paid for Orient’s Covid tests.
    Typical marsh dwelling connivery.

    Unfortunately, your cunning plan to get us a bye into the Final falls afoul of a two-legged semi-final. Liverpool council could do the same in the away leg, in which case both clubs would be unable to fulfil the fixture and Carabao Cup rule 5.2, not 5.1 (the one the neighbours used) would apply. The EFL would then be able to reschedule both legs, as long as it was before the final on February 27, or if unable to find dates, decide which club gets the bye to the final, with no procedure for doing so specified. A coin toss or drawing lots, presumably.

    Given our lack of European football gives us a relatively light schedule in February, a postponement of Thursday’s game would not necessarily be unwelcome given we have an FA Cup game three days later.

  67. 67
    scruzgooner says:

    ned, how about cancel the emirates leg, but play the anfield leg at a neutral venue on the same day, or a different day? make it a one-legged semi.

  68. 68
    bt8 says:

    Scruz, Good plan but being practical as it is, has very little hope of being approved by the powers that be. I’d like to be proved wrong.

  69. 69
    Potsticker says:

    Ned, Orient should have heeded the old adage, “Beware of spuds bearing free tests.”

  70. 70
    bt8 says:

    If the two legged semifinal turns into a one legged tie, Chelsea and Spurs wouldn’t think it fair for them to have to play two legs. https://goonertalk.com/2022/01/05/how-arsenal-could-be-affected-by-carabao-cup-postponement-vs-liverpool/

  71. 71
    Ollie says:

    Karaoke Cup first leg now postponed to until after the second leg, in a manner of spealing. (on the 20th).


  72. 72
    Ollie says:

    Speaking even…

  73. 73
    North Bank Ned says:

    Scruz@67: It is all now moot. Thursday’s game is postponed. The first leg will now be at Anfield on January 13, and the second at home on January 20.

    Potsticker@69: 🙂

  74. 74
    North Bank Ned says:

    The FA’s charge that the club failed to ensure players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion during the City game smacks of payback for post-game criticism of Attwell.


  75. 75
    North Bank Ned says:

    AMN’s loan to Roma is just for the rest of the season, according to ESPN, with no option or obligation to buy, although the Italians have agreed terms for a four-year deal with the player.


  76. 76
    Bathgooner says:

    Ned @74, it does indeed. What arrant nonsense but quite typical of that unaccountable gang of twisters.

  77. 77
    Bathgooner says:

    Ned @75, that’s a huge gamble by the club unless they have a nailed on deal for another midfielder.

  78. 78
  79. 79
    TTG says:

    Bath / Ned
    I understand our primary midfield target is Guimares of Lyon. He is very highly rated and is a similar sort of player to Partey. I was hoping we would sign him last summer after we had jettisoned Xhaka . I would hope a deal is reasonably advanced given Partey’s absence and AMN’s loan move .
    Let’s look forward to seeing him in the second leg of the semi-final after a winning debut in the NLD !

  80. 80
    scruzgooner says: