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Our visit to Anfield on Thursday evening should be for the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final against Liverpool. Scruz laid out the case for why the Scousers’ appeal for last Thursday’s scheduled first leg to be postponed should have fallen on deaf ears. To add insult to injury, Jurgen Klopp has now said Liverpool’s Covid outbreak was not as widespread as first indicated. Only Trent Alexander-Arnold was newly infected; other test results were false positives. However, the EFL will let sleeping dogs lie. I may have reversed the order of the last three words.

Yet, we must dismiss all that from our thoughts. What is now the first leg is also the middle game of a critical run of five difficult matches that has started badly. If we do not reverse our fortunes immediately, our hopes for the season will be at risk of severe harm. As every manager says, the most important thing after a loss is to win the next game, or two losses quickly become three, or four or five.

The FA Cup tie at Forest should have been the restorative win after the City defeat. Yes, we had nine players unavailable because of AFCON, Covid and injury. Yes, the tie was a potential banana skin at a rising Championship side where we have slipped up before. Yet the sloppiness of the performance, collectively and individually, was utterly deflating.

A midfield three that danced round the multi-millionaires of Eastlands were left flatfooted by a team valued at less than any one of nine City players. This has been our Achilles heel: bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, to mix a metaphor, against the big sides; but against inferior opposition, suspended in a somnambulant state, as Dr F so alliteratively put it in his match report.

Arteta’s cultural revolution at the club aims to eliminate such inconsistency and set an expectation of high performance at all times. The Forest game suggests we are earlier in the revolution than we had thought. 

We now look to recruit players with ‘a champion’s mentality’ to the same end. That attribute is, I suspect, crystallised by actually winning things. Of what many in this fine establishment would consider Arteta’s first XI, only Tierney, Gabriel, Xhaka and Partey have won domestic league titles — but only one, Partey, has done so in one of the five major European leagues, and none in England.

A win at Anfield is doubly essential, not just to ‘get back on the horse’ after falling off so embarrassingly on Sunday, but because the League Cup is our last hope of a trophy this season. That is not to belittle the importance of holding onto fourth place, which would be tremendous, but it would be a trophy in the Wengerian, not the silverware-in-the-cabinet sense.

The History
I may be clutching at straws in hoping that an Anfield semi-final will bring out the vibrant Arsenal, not the torpid one. History is against me.

In sixteen League Cup games going back to 1968, including two-legged semi-final ties and earlier-round replays, we have beaten the Scousers just six times and only twice at Anfield. 

The first of those victories was in January 2007, three days after dumping them out of the FA Cup. Julio Baptista hit a hat-trick (and missed a penalty) as we cruised to a 5-1 lead. With ten minutes to go, that lead had been reduced to 5-3 before the Beast tapped in his fourth to secure a 6-3 win. It was the first time Liverpool had conceded six at Anfield since 1930.

The other victory came on our most recent League Cup visit, in October 2020, a game played behind closed doors because of Covid. Scoreless after 90 minutes, largely thanks to a string of saves by Bernd Leno, it went straight to penalties. We won 5-4 with Joe Willock’s softly hit winning spot kick squirming under Adrian’s body. The ball barely reached the back netting.

The previous season had seen a 5-5 in the dying throes of Unai Emery’s time. We had let slip a 4-2 lead. A 25-yard Willock screamer put us ahead 5-4, only for Emery to make some baffling substitutions and Origi to volley his second equaliser of the evening in the 94th minute. The hosts won the penalty shootout.

The Opposition
We can expect Klopp to play his strongest available side. His false positives will be fresh, having sat out the cup tie against Shrewsbury. Allison may well return in goal, leaving the aforementioned Alexander-Arnold as the only Covid-afflicted member of the squad.

Origi and Thiago are injury doubts. Nat Phillips and Harvey Elliott, neither regular starters, are ruled out. Salah, Mane and Keita, thankfully, are at AFCON.  

Klopp still has plenty of quality to call on. Expect a midfield packed with experience in both the light and dark arts to exploit our constrained choices in that area of the pitch.

The Arsenal
NLD three days later or no, Arteta will also play his strongest available team. This game is that important. That means Tierney and Lacazette are straight onto the team sheet along with Gabriel, back from suspension. Leno might expect to play as the cup keeper, but Arteta needs Ramsdale’s vim and vigour on the pitch. Tomiyasu (calf) and ESR (groin/pelvis) face late fitness tests. Xhaka has had Covid. Partey, Elneny, Pepe, Auba and Rekik are at AFCON. Balogun is off to Middlesborough.

Unless Xhaka is deemed sufficiently recovered to play, the taxing question is who accompanies Lokonga in midfield. Patino might be best served by being withdrawn from the line of fire, at least as a starter. Ødegaard could drop deeper, but at the cost of his creativity and energy higher up the pitch. ESR being fit enough to start would mitigate that. However, if I decode Arteta’s gnomic pre-game press conference comments correctly, ESR might not even make the bench. Kola could get a start, so stretched is the squad.

Arteta could also tweak the formation, matching Klopp’s preferred 4-3-3 or mimicking the 4-3-1-2 that Leicester twice used successfully against ‘Pool. If Tomiyasu is out, and given Soares’s sorry Sunday showing, he might switch to the 3-4-2-1 Chelsea deployed with White, Holding and Gabriel behind Saka, Ødegaard, Lokonga and Tierney.

With the availability uncertainties, predicting the team is a lottery at the time of writing, but I would expect some permutation of:


Tomiyasu/Soares, White, Gabriel, Tierney

Ødegaard, Lokonga, Xhaka/Smith Rowe/Kolasinac 

Saka, Lacazette, Martinelli

Bench: Leno, Holding, Tavares, Xhaka/Kolasinac, Soares/Chambers, Patino, ESR/Salah-Eddine, Hutchinson, Nketiah/Biereth

The ‘Holics Pound
The bookies have a Liverpool win at evens. The classic 1-0 to the Arsenal is available at 14s and 2-0, which has some historical resonance for us at Anfield, at 22/1. I’d take either.

The performance and the result will matter a lot beyond the end of the 90 minutes. Arteta cannot let his team sleepwalk through any of our next three games, nor indeed until season’s end.

Enjoy the game, ‘holics, near and far.

174 Drinks to “Wake-up Call at Anfield”

  1. 1
    TTG says:

    A very comprehensive and interesting preview Ned.
    I’m particularly interested in your tactical ideas. We have to be stronger in midfield and must hope that Xhaka returns after Covid ( can’t believe I just wrote that ). I’m afraid it’s a very serious misjudgement to have left us so short on Sunday . The season could effectively be over unless we can improve the quality and durability of our performance. Xhaka usually gets overrun at Anfield and my early viewings of Sambi suggest he is not yet ready for high intensity football like this game .
    I was confident that we could prevail over two legs in the circumstances with Salah and Mane out.Sunday completely changed that . I’m worried if White can handle Jota but we can cause them problems if we can get enough possession- a big if .
    I desperately hope we can get a draw which would give us a real chance at our place next week.

  2. 2
    bt8 says:

    What about Liverpool’s false negatives? Has anyone in authority looked into that?

    Thanks Ned for your highly interesting and entertaining preview. 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

  3. 3
    Bathgooner says:

    An excellent summary of our current conundrums and the difficult selection choices facing Arteta. As TTG observes, we have landed ourselves in this situation with a lack of foresight and tardiness in addressing the predictable deficit compoundd by Xhaka contracting Covid-19. Whether the opposition’s successful but apparently specious postponement of the first leg proves to be to their advantage or to ours remains to be seen.

    The lateral flow test is highly sensitive and highly specific (see ref) and its reliability has been proven to the point that UK Gov guidelines no longer require confirmation of a positive LFT with a subsequent PCR which is of course much more sensitive but may be less correlated with infectivity. I don’t have the data at hand but the probability of a group of positive tests proving to be false positives with a highly specific test such as this is extremely low – I have seen it described as being as probable as winning the lottery. I should add that poor technique would be far more likely to provide false negatives. With a highly sensitive and highly specific test such as this it’s very, very hard to generate a false positive.

    It is unsurprising that the EFL have declined to investigate the transient unavailability, now acknowledged as erroneous, of Liverpool players en masse. Any investigation would undoubtedly reveal the willingness of their chairman, an ex-Liverpool CEO, to accommodate the wishes of the club he supports and probably far, far worse mendacity at the Liverpool end, given how uneasy Klopp was when asked about the sudden availability of his players and training ground the day that they should have played us.

    Ref: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1012593/S1158_comparative_performance_of_sars_cov-2-lateral-flow-antigen-tests-demonstrates-their-utility-for-high-sensitivity-detection-of-infectious-virus-in-.pdf

  4. 4
    Countryman100 says:

    Great preview Ned, especially given you accepted the gig rather late in the day after a late plea. I am very grateful. I thought the three players that made the most difference for Liverpool when we got stuffed 4-0 were Salah, Mane and Thiago, although that was a pitch side observation and I was never going to watch a stuffing like that back and others may have other views. Two of those three are missing, a third is doubtful. Our representative at the game will be clock end rider. We wish him safe travels and a decent result up there in Scouse land.

  5. 5
    TTG says:

    Arsenal met reps of Youri Tielemans at London Colney today . He is out of contract in eighteen months and his value is reduced accordingly . Meanwhile Roma still want Xhaka . Presumably they want him on a free and for us to meet his wages

  6. 6
    Cynic says:

    Every egg should be placed in the NLD basket. I know this is a semi final but I’d rather destroy Spurs to be honest.

    As for the Covid thing, it was an obvious tactic as there’s no way they could have had one confirmed positive from “up to 40” positive tests reported last week. Not when false positives occur in something like three in every hundred thousand cases.

  7. 7
    scruzgooner says:

    ned, inspired. thank you. we’re in a pickle, no doubt, but perhaps the forest game will wake up the squad to understand what’s needed given from whom ma8 can select a team.

    the whole postponement narrative stunk from the moment it started. fuck klopp and his lying ways.

  8. 8
    ecg says:

    I’m with Cynic. To me, finishing at least 4th is far more important than the Caribou Cup.

    That many false positives means they were either lying or the samples were tampered with.

  9. 9
    Trev says:

    Thanks Ned – another fine preview !

    The whole Liverpool false positives scam was so obviously just that – it’s ridiculous but entirely predictable that there will be no investigation and no action taken. Their training ground reopened 12 whole hours after the match should have been played and all buy one were available three days later. But this is Liverpool. Nuff said.

    After Sunday’s showing I actually hope that Arteta has been out on the training ground with Calum Chambers, trying to reawaken the midfield skills he was so praised for at Fulham. Would it be any better ? It could hardly be any worse ……

    Come on you Reds ! Please !

  10. 10
    TTG says:

    We were hugely criticised over the Suarez affair for ‘ only ‘ bidding 40 m plus £1 to trigger his buy-out clause . Liverpool simply ignored the contract that was in force . We didn’t need to pay a premium , in fact it was naive to do so . They have a very different approach to principles over at Anfield . Their attitude to the postponement is very dubious. I think Klopp’s comments have embarrassed them . Cynic’s point about false positives are well made .
    I think a club of our size should be able to deal with a semi final and the NLD . Looking at the Spuds tonight they are woeful

  11. 11
    Countryman100 says:

    Everywhere they goooo

  12. 12
    Bathgooner says:

    I sincerely hope that Arteta has a plan for tonight’s game. If Xhaka doesn’t make the cut, either White or Chambers must play alongside Sambi if he plays a back 4. I don’t think either ESR or Ødegaard are robust enough to support Sambi in a CMF pair. Alternatively I would go three at the back with Tierney at LWB and Gabriel alongside White and Holding. Hopefully Tomiyasu is fit at RWB. I don’t believe anyone wants Cedric but I don’t want to see him again. With a back three Ødegaard might just do the CMF job with Sambi but it’s a big ask. I expect Eddie will start centrally because we need Laca on the weekend to face that lot. The wide men are nailed on.

  13. 13
    North Bank Ned says:

    Thanks, all.

    It seems even Alexander-Arnold is now available for the Scousers on Thursday evening.

    No sign of Tomi or EDR in the training pictures the club put out, or of Kola come to that. But lots of Nketiah. Make of that what you will.

    My 2-cents remains that it is an important game that we need to win, as we do the NLD and then the second leg.

  14. 14
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Excellent preview Ned!

    Because of having entered the Goonerverse since the days of Arsène I think I have become conditioned to not take this competition very seriously. However, with no European football, and no FA Cup, the only chance of silverware this season takes on an unusually crucial importance. A win tomorrow would be a morale booster before the NLD as well.

    Almost impossible to guess the team given it seems even Mikel isn’t sure about who all would be available tomorrow.

    Our opponents tomorrow have never been known for integrity, the whole “crisis” saga around last week’s postponement was so blatantly manufactured, so laughably transparent that it deserves nothing but ridicule, disgust and derision.

  15. 15
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks for a fine preview Ned.
    MA was diplomatic about the postponement piss-take from Liverpool, but as others have noted it stinks. If Xhaka can’t make it then I would go with White I think as Rob can slot in more effectively on the right alongside Gabriel and, despite a poor performance against Forest, Rob has rarely let us down. I’d also prefer Calum to Cedric at right back if we are to be without Tomi.
    It’s going to be tough but 1-0 to The Arsenal would be a fantastic effort from the boys,

  16. 16
    bt8 says:

    Bang Bang Bang. Performance Performance Performance.

  17. 17
    bt8 says:

    The above was intended as an exhortation of sorts, seeing as exhortation seems to be in order at this point. In case you were wondering.

  18. 18
    Bathgooner says:

    Is this then our strongest team (including the ‘cup goalkeeper’), if Xhaka, ESR and Tomiyasu remain hors de combat?

    Chambers Holding Gabriel Tierney
    White Lokongo
    Saka Ødegaard Martinelli

    Though I expect Nketia to start and wouldn’t be surprised if Tavares was given a chance to redeem himself.

  19. 19
    Ollie says:

    Cheers Ned!
    Interesting selection decisions to make tonight.
    I’ve remained convinced from their QF vs Leicester that Liverpool won’t put their strongest available line-up, but we shall see.
    Either way, let’s make them swallow those false positives back!
    The format means I’d be happy enough with a draw tonight, and everyone staying fit for the bigger match on Sunday.

  20. 20
    TTG says:

    Apparently we are without Odegaard , ESR and Tomayisu tonight . Can we ask for a postponement ? We’ve played one game in two weeks and we have these injuries!

  21. 21
    OsakaMatt says:

    If we are without Tomi, ESR and Tomi does that mean Xhaka is available?

    Bath’s team @18 looks about right to me but if no Odegaard then I guess both
    Laka and Eddie will start.

  22. 22
    OsakaMatt says:

    I meant Tomi, ESR and Odegaard of course.
    I hope they will be back for the NLD…..

  23. 23
    TTG says:

    Yes Xhaka is available .
    I suspect we will drop Lacazette into the 10 role and play Nketiah but we are hugely affected by the lac of a creative midfielder .

  24. 24
    Bathgooner says:

    It’s lookingmore and more like one of those GG moments when you field every centre back on the books.

  25. 25
    OsakaMatt says:

    Yes, only other option seems to be Eddie wide and Saka in the 10 role but I think that didn’t work well when we tried it before. Or try one of the kids I suppose though it doesn’t seem the game for it.

  26. 26
    OsakaMatt says:

    Of course AW could have told them you can never have too many small skillful midfielders on the books

  27. 27
    bt8 says:

    Matt, Didn’t Tabs refer to AW’s small skillful midfielders as ants?

  28. 28
    North Bank Ned says:

    It increasingly looks as if there will be no Tomi, EST or Ødegaard this evening, but Xhaka will play. His return might make Arteta more comfortable with starting Patino. Klopp will turn the screw by fielding a strong team.

  29. 29
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Kind of exciting when even the manager isn’t very sure about who he will have available to select from. 😂

    I can see some surprises like playing Nuno as a winger in front of Tierney and Gabi down the middle with Saka on the right and Laca in #10 backed by Xhaka-Sambi .

    Maybe Biereth off the bench to score the winner!!

    Best wishes to Balogun in Middlesbrough… hope he gets lots of game time and comes back next season to join his fellow youngsters to light up our attacking play …

  30. 30
    North Bank Ned says:

    I wonder if there is some gamesmanship going on over team selection, and that Arteta had a better idea all along of who would not be available than he is letting on. After all, he sees who is out on the training pitch. We are coming up with multiple options for what XI might play in what formation, so imagine how difficult it must be for Klopp to form a game plan.

  31. 31
    OsakaMatt says:

    Before my time bt8 but that is funny of him😃
    I loved watching most of them play

  32. 32
    Trev says:

    Maybe Ned is right and Arteta is going all smoke and mirrors regarding availability tonight.

    Dare we hope that a lot of our injuries will turn out to be false hammys ?

  33. 33
    bt8 says:

    Matt, I looked back at the Goonerholic archives, and found this passage from 2011 in Tabs’ Behind the Arse series (IG = Gazidis). Small skillful midfielders, wingers, and just about anything else I suppose. 🙂

    AW : Merci , Pierre , Merci . I ave been away and identified and purchased several new players.
    IG : Thank God , good news at last . Who have you bought Arsene ?
    AW : Ants .
    IG : Ha ha Arsene means Ricardo Alverantz , tricky Argentinian left winger .
    AW : Non ,Ivan , Non . I mean Californian Red Ants . Zey are small , young , cheap , ave a good work ethic , collective energy extraordinaire . Zey ave to be seen to be believed . Very good at making ze late run into the Box unseen , I ave bought 3 for our forward line .
    IG : Dear God no .
    AW : I am a revolutionary coach ,it iz my dream .
    IG : But what about having Arsenal DNA ?
    AW : Zey are Red Ants , zey love this club .
    IG : But the fans won’t be able to see them .
    AW : Zey are Red Ants .
    IG : But they won’t fit into our Total Football system .
    AW : Zey ave six feet , zey ave ze potential for fantastique ball-juggling skills .
    IG : *banging his head on the table* But where’s our aggression , where’s our bite ?
    AW : Zey are Red Ants , zey ave quite a nip .

  34. 34
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Great preview Ned. Although some glum statistics in there. Still, I suppose you were merciful in leaving out our Premeir League form at Anfield.

    Also, shout out to the Doc for an excellent report of the Forest game. Excellent, insightful analysis.

    Everyone knows I don’t like Xhaka, but I hope he can play tonight. He is a professional central midfielder and I think we should play two of them in, err, central midfield. I know, I know, I’m a maverick.

    It’s gonna be a tough gig later but I’ve got no idea how it might play out, so here’s hoping for the best.


  35. 35
    Esso says:

    Cheers Ned!

  36. 36
    Esso says:


    Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Henderson, Milner, Jota, Minamino, Firmino

    Subs: Kelleher, Konate, Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Tsimikas, Gordon, Williams, Morton

  37. 37
    Esso says:

    Scouse cunts going for it then.

  38. 38
    Esso says:

    Arsenal:Ramsdale; Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tierney, Sambi, Xhaka, Saka, Lacazette, Martinelli, Nketiah.

    Subs: Leno, Holding, Mari, Chambers, Tavares, Patino, Salah-Eddine, Hutchinson, Biereth.

  39. 39
    Esso says:

    Cedric. Dear God.

  40. 40
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    What Esso said @39

  41. 41
    Bathgooner says:

    Thanks Esso.

    If there was divine justice then Liverpool would sustain a series of serious injuries and red cards tonight but of course the match official will be following the PGMOL code.

    It’s going to be a tough night but barring Cedric, that’s as strong a starting 11 as we can put out.


  42. 42
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Our bench is weaker than I ever remember it being.

  43. 43
    Esso says:

    Bench is really scary yeah.

  44. 44
    scruzgooner says:

    was just watching an arsenal memory of the day abou diaby bossed the midfield at anfield in 2012. our midfield that day was diaby, santi, and ma8. i’d take that in a heartbeat.

    watching diaby i saw a lot of partey in him. or vice versa. the latter is who i think we’ll miss the most today.

    gsd@42, yikes, yes. well, let’s hope everyone is switched on and ready to roar back from the forest debacle. and that the fearlessness of youth wins the day.


  45. 45
    Las says:

    Thanks, Ned a very fine preview!
    I have butterflies in my stomach, to be honest. I am quite worried. I made the couch ready to be behind again. I haven’t had this feeling for months now not even before the Citeh game. I hope we put up a good fight even nick the win but mate this Puddle team has strong teeth.
    (why Cedric, why???)

  46. 46
    TTG says:

    Peter Wood believes Tomi , ESR and Odegaard will play at Tottenham . I think we’ve gone with the best team we can out out. Nb- our goalkeeping choice . As GSD says our bench is incredibly inexperienced. The AMN decision looks increasingly rash to me
    Liverpool are without Salah, Mane, Origi , Thiago , Keitah and Er that’s it
    We are without – Tomayisu, Partey , Elneny , Odegaard, ESR and Aubameyang .We will really miss Tomayisu
    I don’t think either team has a Covid absentee .
    I’m less optimistic than I was last night

  47. 47
    Esso says:

    What happened to Diaby was absolutely diabolical and I think a large part of the reason Wenger Mark 2 failed. Plucked from Auxerre, arrived in January; did enough to be in the squad for the CL final in May (in his first 6 months at the club), and then crippled forever in the same month by a fucking Mackem clogger called Dan Smith, who ended up working in a fucking call centre.

  48. 48
    Bathgooner says:

    I’ve seen a rumour that Ødegaard is out due to Covid raising a doubt about availability for Sunday as well. I hope it’s false.

  49. 49
    TTG says:

    Odegaard has Covid and is therefore out on Sunday too

  50. 50
    Bathgooner says:

    Get in!

  51. 51
    Bathgooner says:

    Raises bat to all corners.


  52. 52
    TTG says:

    I missed Pepe and Kolasinac . Pre-match tension

  53. 53
    bt8 says:

    Salah on our side then. Could it be a sign?

  54. 54
    bt8 says:

    Fingers and toes crossed.

  55. 55
    North Bank Ned says:

    Those team selections show that both managers are going for it with all they have available. Unfortunately, Klopp has much more than Arteta to call on on this occasion.

    I dread Fabinho, Henderson and Milner, sly masters of the dark arts all, targeting Xhaka’s fragile temper.

  56. 56
    North Bank Ned says:

    Now government guidance for isolation is down to five days, Ødegaard might be available for Sunday depending on when he tested positive and how it has affected him.

  57. 57
    North Bank Ned says:

    Well in for the half-ton, Bath.

  58. 58
    Uplympian says:

    Firstly thanks Ned for a very fine preview as always.
    No surprise to see Klipity put out a virtually full first team tonight. We will be up against it for sure but if, and it’s a big if I know, we turn up in the right frame of mind they are not insurmountable, other teams have managed a result there this season. They haven’t got Elbows Mane and the magnificent Salah playing, so there’s hope ( yes, we all know what hope does to you ).
    Let’s show’em gunners!

  59. 59
    scruzgooner says:

    fingers crossed for mø for sunday.

    if i had a couch i’d be hiding behind it. as it is i’ll be wringing my hands and grinding my teeth, watching.

    acknowledges baff’s raised bat.

  60. 60
    scruzgooner says:

    uply: “Hope is a good thing, may be the best of the things. And good thing never dies.” –Andy Dufresne, “The Shawshank Redemption”

  61. 61
    TTG says:

    The five day ruling on Covid doesn’t take effect until next Monday so he’s out….unless it’s a false positive of course . They seem very common

  62. 62
    Esso says:

    Come on you Arsenal!

  63. 63
    bt8 says:

    What Esso said.

  64. 64
    scruzgooner says:


  65. 65
    scruzgooner says:

    great, cedric now needing muscle relief.

  66. 66
    Bathgooner says:


  67. 67
    scruzgooner says:

    nice gather, aaron.

  68. 68
    Bathgooner says:

    Looks like that elbow to the kidney has crocked Cedric. Those Scousers are sly low-lives.

  69. 69
    Countryman100 says:

    Bit of a nervy start.

  70. 70
    Bathgooner says:

    Excellent vocal support from the away Gooners.

  71. 71
    scruzgooner says:

    just a bit, c100. maybe we will settle down after a bit.

  72. 72
    bt8 says:

    Sounds like we need to impose our bits a bit more.

  73. 73
    Countryman100 says:

    And a red card for Xhaka

  74. 74
    scruzgooner says:

    eddie has to bury that.

    what the hell was xhaka thinking?

  75. 75
    Countryman100 says:

    Fucking idiot

  76. 76
    Bathgooner says:

    Diabolical – but it’s in the script.

  77. 77
    scruzgooner says:

    if he were a horse we’d sell or shoot him. why can’t ma8 see what he’s doing to us?

  78. 78
    TTG says:

    Guess who ? Huge implications. Were effectively out of this semi and he’s absent on Sunday . He just wasn’t quick enough

  79. 79
    scruzgooner says:

    go three at the back with two wing backs and get rid of eddie. let the front three float, and tell sambi to stay the fuck in the middle and block everything.

  80. 80
    bt8 says:

    At least he didn’t get sent off at Forest. Oh.

  81. 81
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Would this be the end of Granit for us? Hopefully. That was a diabolical decision making.

  82. 82
    Countryman100 says:

    Holding coming on for Eddie

  83. 83
    scruzgooner says:

    tavares on with holding for sambi and eddie, i hope. put tavares on the wing, holding in defense, and chambo at the base of mf.

  84. 84
    Countryman100 says:

    Tavares sat back down

  85. 85
    scruzgooner says:

    what’s crap about this, aside from playing with 10, is that if eddie buries his chance the long ball that leads to xhaka’s idiocy doesn’t happen.

  86. 86
    scruzgooner says:

    at least we won’t have to put up with xhaka’s idiocy for three and a half games. but, damn it, we’re going to have to figure out who goes in midfield. xhaka might as well have gone to AFCON.

    kt3 rockets the ball into touch. he’s pissed off. GO KT3!

  87. 87
    scruzgooner says:

    we are, thank god, defending their pressure pretty well. but it’s going to be a long damn game at this rate.

  88. 88
    Countryman100 says:

    Away fans in great voice

  89. 89
    scruzgooner says:

    i have the sound off at work. well done, julian and co!

  90. 90
    scruzgooner says:

    great ball in, saka, could’ve gotten matip an own goal. corner.

  91. 91
    scruzgooner says:

    freekick in a good position out right. COME ON SAKA!

  92. 92
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Saka showing some real grit. Good lad.

  93. 93
    scruzgooner says:

    well, we made it through the half. i don’t know what they need to do to get a yellow card, matip just about undressed laca there at the end.

    ma8 runs into the dressing room for a quick check that xhaka isn’t there, or there will be blood.

  94. 94
    scruzgooner says:

    indeed. kt3, martinelli, and laca as well. no shortage of fight in these lads, let’s just hope we can hold on for another 45 minutes, or catch a real break and score. chambo has looked good since he came on, too.

  95. 95
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Good determination and discipline shown. Let’s hope they carry this on for 45 more minutes.
    Can’t just believe what Xhaka did, completely losing basic game intelligence, unaware of anything around him.
    I think Mikel’s love of Xhaka is probably coming to an end.

    Bringing Tavares in for a tiring Laca later in the second half and moving Gabi in the middle may give us some attacking impetus as well. We are winning balls in the middle but not enough counter attacking speed.

  96. 96
    Bathgooner says:

    It’s going to be a long second half. Dig in Gunners! Remember the Alamo.

  97. 97
    scruzgooner says:

    or stalingrad.

  98. 98
    scruzgooner says:


  99. 99
    scruzgooner says:

    chambo did a good job defending minimano in spite of the quality of his cross.

  100. 100
    Countryman100 says:


  101. 101
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Well in Countryman

    We need more finishing like that on the pitch

  102. 102
    Bathgooner says:

    Dig in lads!


  103. 103
    bt8 says:

    No more Granit for the rest of the tie, guaranteed. Have our prayers been answered?


  104. 104
    scruzgooner says:

    considering we’re down a man against one of the league’s best teams i cannot, in any way, fault our play right now.

    well in for the ton, c100.

  105. 105
    Cynic says:

    I’ve had to mute the sound. Not because of the commentators but because of that fucking Status Quo song. Sick of hearing that bollocks tune.

    As for the game, 0-0 will be a proper result.

    Not going to bash Xhaka too mcuh, I’m wondering where Tierney had disappeared to.

  106. 106
    scruzgooner says:

    at least we are taking the fight to them as much as we can.

    almost on cue, saka gets into the box with a half chance.

  107. 107
    Cynic says:

    If he had a right foot it was more than half a chance. Sadly he hasn’t got one 🙁

  108. 108
  109. 109
    scruzgooner says:

    in minute 74 i am damn proud of what we are doing. they may score later, but the first 20 minutes of this half we have been magnificent.

  110. 110
    Las says:

    C’mon ARSENAL!

  111. 111
    Gooner_KS says:

    I fear we are getting knackered for the more important game on Sunday.
    We did great up to know, we can be proud of them (-1 😁).
    I would happily sacrifice the mickey mouse cup for a chance for 4th in PL.

  112. 112
    Countryman100 says:

    Saka top, top game. So up for the fight. Now come on Nuno.

  113. 113
    Gooner_KS says:

    80th minute, they have 0 shots on target, 1 for us hehehe

  114. 114
    scruzgooner says:

    saka done for the day, tavares on. switch to back 3?

  115. 115
    Bathgooner says:

    Superb stuff from the lads on the pitch and the lads and lasses on the terracing.



  116. 116
    scruzgooner says:

    agreed, c100@112. so, so good.

  117. 117
    scruzgooner says:

    liverpool fans look…overjoyed. they know they have to play us at home and they’re not going to take a big lead into it.

    ox helping our cause.

  118. 118
    scruzgooner says:

    love aaron going down into the fetal curl every time he gets the ball in his hands 🙂

  119. 119
    Las says:

    I’m fully in line with Cynic, top four is more important than this “whatever cup”. IMHO to reach 4th place first of all The Arsenal need to be proud of itself which comes through performances AND results.

  120. 120
    scruzgooner says:

    chambers has been outstanding since he came on.

  121. 121
    bt8 says:

    Liverpool huff and puff at home against valiant 10 man Arsenal

  122. 122
    scruzgooner says:

    whew. what a letoff from minamino.

  123. 123
    scruzgooner says:

    focus, boys, pull this out.

  124. 124
    scruzgooner says:

    well cleared, kt3.

  125. 125
    scruzgooner says:


  126. 126
    scruzgooner says:

    dayum. dicey here at the end. half of injury time gone by.

  127. 127
    scruzgooner says:


  128. 128
    Countryman100 says:

    Bloody heroic!

  129. 129
    scruzgooner says:


  130. 130
    Bathgooner says:

    Masterful defensive performance. All 10 + subs positively excellent. No false positives. Just one negative!

    Hand of Nemesis you Scunts!

  131. 131
    scruzgooner says:

    so satisfying. such a gutty, beautiful effort.

  132. 132
    Gooner_KS says:

    Absolutely outstanding COYG

  133. 133
    Countryman100 says:

    Such great defending. All heroes except you know who

  134. 134
    Cynic says:

    Brilliant effort and Xhaka’s red card may turn out to have been worth it, if it stopped us going into the home leg with a deficit.

    The effects of this huge effort remain to be seen for Sunday, but hopefully two or three will be back for that one and we will deal with THEM well enough.

  135. 135
    bt8 says:

    COYG we needed that, face the scum when we face them.

  136. 136
    scruzgooner says:

    the lads are wiped, and the away fans brilliant. i am so, so proud. such a team. so damn good. they gave everything today. absolutely everything.

  137. 137
    TTG says:

    Proud of them except for Pratface . Heroic rearguard. Without Salah and Mane they are so limited .
    Not ideal preparation for the NLD !

  138. 138
    Las says:

    Pfffff well done!

  139. 139
    scruzgooner says:

    i don’t know about anyone else, but i’m a bit verklempt over this one. they acquitted themselves so well. ma8 set up the team after xhaka got stupid, and they played it to perfection. my heart is full.

  140. 140
    North Bank Ned says:

    Fantastic rearguard action. Every shoulder to the wheel. The Scousers had no shots on target all game.

    I wonder if, in every pregame team talk, Arteta says, when Granit gets sent off, this is what we do…

  141. 141
    Esso says:

    Great stuff Arsenal! Lets have the same attitude on Sunday please.

  142. 142
    North Bank Ned says:

    Echoing Scruz on the away fans. You could hear them from here.

  143. 143
    scruzgooner says:

    embarrassing, really, for liverpool. 14 shots, none on goal. 3 shots for us, with 10 men, and one on goal. makes me really glad we’ll be without xhaka for leg 2, and NLD. hopefully someone can step into that messy xhaka-shaped hole in midfield and clean it up.

  144. 144
    bt8 says:

    Dion Dublin commenting on the BBC: “ This for me is what being a professional is all about – down to 10 men you need blood, sweat and tears.

    This is about doing it for your club, your team-mates and the manager. Arsenal deserve this. Brilliant from Arsenal. The organisation got them through it. Liverpool didn’t have that spark in the final third.

    It was an Arsenal performance I didn’t think I would see. Very professional, well done Mikel Arteta.”

  145. 145
    scruzgooner says:

    ned, i could hear them with the sound off.

  146. 146
    scruzgooner says:

    *claps* at bt8’s 144. rises and claps, actually. that’s goddamn right.

  147. 147
  148. 148
    TTG says:

    Hard to pick out individuals but all three centre backs were terrific . I also think Chambers is a decent player . Way better than Cedric

  149. 149
    Bathgooner says:

    What Dion Dublin said @144 (via bt8).

    Shades of the famous back four in that performance.

    One for all and all for one.

  150. 150
    Bathgooner says:

    And why not?

  151. 151
  152. 152
    North Bank Ned says:

    Scruz@145: 🙂

  153. 153
    Ollie says:

    Fantastic performance. The bodies will be tired but the minds will make up for it (physical limits allowing…) and I believe they will give everything on Sunday again.
    Superb on the pitch and in the stands.

  154. 154
    Countryman100 says:

    Spurs have appealed Xhaka’s red card for Sunday.

  155. 155
    scruzgooner says:

    c100@154 hilarious 🙂

  156. 156
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@154: 🙂

  157. 157
    scruzgooner says:

    i think we need to make sure xhaka goes to rome. even if we get nothing for him, we will be in the positive column.

  158. 158
    Bathgooner says:

    scruz @157, is that a false positive? There’s apparently a lot of it about.

  159. 159
    scruzgooner says:

    baff, no, i think it is a true positive. him staying and starting for us is a false positive.

  160. 160
    TTG says:

    Azeez has been recalled from his loan at Portsmouth . He just didn’t play enough . He may find himself in midfield in a couple of tasty games shortly

  161. 161
    Bathgooner says:

    scruz, I set ’em up and you hit ’em out of the park, mate. 😂

  162. 162
    Bathgooner says:

    TTG, is Azeez more physically mature than Patino? Can you see him in the MF against the Marshdwellers or Mugsmashers?

  163. 163
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Maybe it’s better that we would be forced to look for the Xhaka alternative earlier. Also Chambo was better than Cedric, and hopefully he would now be the more trusted deputy to Tomi.
    Great organization and discipline. We can still play the 4-3-2-1 in the NLD with White in MF and Holding in defense.

  164. 164
    scruzgooner says:

    baff@161, have a drink, your choice. you keep pitching up softballs 🙂

    faustus, i’d love to see this, if we’re thinking of going rogue in midfield:

    holding — white — gabriel
    tavares — chambo — tierney
    saka — mø or even azeez — martinelli

    let tavares and tierney cause wing havoc, and the front four can aid in. chambo sits at home and picks up the middle during their transitions. both kt3 and tavares are fast enough to play at wing against the scum cloggers.

    and that’s assuming esr isn’t fit, and tomi, for either of the next two games.

  165. 165
    Bathgooner says:

    Hopefully Tomi and ESR will be fit for the NLD. I would keep Ben White at the heart of the defence and if he’s not needed at RB, play Chambers as a deep lying midfielder with Sambi and ESR in front of him.

  166. 166
    Bathgooner says:

    great minds, scruz though I don’t know if Tavares can play on the right. Sadly MØ is out with a true positive Covid result.

  167. 167
    scruzgooner says:

    baff at 166, you’re right, but i’d thought it might be a fine thing to confuse the hell out of the stupidheads up the road.

    hopefully mø will be back for the home leg against the lying scouse.

    white — holding — gabriel — tierney
    sambi — chambo
    saka — esr or even azeez — martinelli

    that’d work for me, too.

  168. 168
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Thanks scruz. I would rather not play 3 at the back, even though we needed to do this today. I would rather we play the 4-2-3-1 and use either White or Chambers next to Sambi. If Tomi is fit then the regular back four and Chambers — who played nearly a full season for Fulham on loan in that position — with Sambi in the middle.
    Unless of course we bring in an established central midfielder before then. 🙂

  169. 169
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Wherever KT was, Xhaka doesn’t have an excuse for the challenge he made.

    “Oh, I was covering for someone else, so I thought I’d just kick someone in the belly when I was last man and you should be grateful I was on hand to do that.”

    Not for me, Clive.

  170. 170
    TTG says:

    There is a real possibility that the NLD will be postponed according to Arteta. Chambers and Saka have knocks .
    I hope it is .

  171. 171
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    I don’t get the thinking of people who want to throw away this ‘whatever cup’.

    The League Cup is well worth winning. We are in two competitions, and to win this one we have to play a maximum of 3 football matches. We’d play the same amount if games to reach the quarter finals of the FA Cup. And I’d much rather win the League Cup than reach the quarters of the FA Cup.

    We are gonna have a lot less matches in the second half of the season than we have had for 25 years. Why moan about taking seriously a competition we are 3 games from winning?

    I don’t get it.

  172. 172
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    TTG @170

    I doubt it.

    Our club name doesn’t end in ‘pool’

  173. 173
    TTG says:

    Azeez is much more strongly built than Patino but so are most midfielders ! His loan has been dreadfully disappointing as he has had little first team football. Moller has also returned from his loan to a third level German team. He wasn’t playing either .
    These are very tough games to throw young players into with no experience and shape is so key in football nowadays .I don’t like arbitrary formations supposing players can fit in. You will need two holding midfielders in the Derby . If he is fit I would use Chambers and Lokonga . Chambers is an admirable player who did really well tonight
    The NLD may not go ahead anyway . Xhaka would then be suspended for Burnley who he has been sent off twice against ! That may protect us !

  174. 174
    scruzgooner says: