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And so to St James’ Park.

Fourth place is still in our hands, if barely, after Thursday’s fiasco and Burnley’s VAR-assisted Sunday lunchtime defeat at the Armitage Shanks. With the neighbours’ remaining game being at Norwich, we need, as the Chinese say, a win-win situation,

Our renascent Monday evening hosts will be keen to sign off their final home game in style after reality-check defeats by ‘Pool and Citeh. We have no choice but to ruin the party by leaving with all three points.

Our first visit to the second-oldest ground in the Premiership was inauspicious. On September 30 1893, we were trounced 6-0, a defeat of even greater magnitude than predicted by Newcastle’s captain William Graham after the reverse fixture 28 days earlier — our historic first match in the Football League, as Woolwich Arsenal and at the Manor Field (not yet Ground) in Plumstead. 

After the 2-2 home draw — Graham claimed Arsenal’s second goal should not have stood because of offside; plus ça change — the Geordies’ skipper had fancied that, once back up North, his team would ‘prove at least four goals [Woolwich Arsenal’s] superior’. And so they did, thanks to interlaced hat-tricks by Willie Thompson and Joe Wallace. 

Our record in Gallowgate is considerably better of late, one defeat in nine visits since the infamous 4-4 draw in 2011. In those nine games, we conceded only three goals. We have not given up a goal to Newcastle anywhere since 2018 and only four since the unforgettable 7-3 win at the Emirates in 2012 when Mikel Arteta anchored a midfield of Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and the Ox. 

I watched that game in a New York bar. By the end the Geordies were singing, Take your shoe off if you support the ‘Toon, while standing on one leg and waving the shoe from the other in the air. It must have been a cultural thing, or the beer.

The opposition

It had looked at one point this season as if our visit to St James’ might be the game that consigned Newcastle to relegation. The arrival of Eddie Howe and Saudi owners and their cash nullified that prospect. 

Howe has hauled the Magpies up from bottom three to mid-table safety. Spending £85m on five players in the January transfer window helped, although the most important of those arrivals, Kieren Trippier from Atletico Madrid, was almost immediately sidelined by injury. 

The Amersham Ancelotti has bought organisation, purpose and team spirit on the field, while the new owners appear to have done the same off the pitch. That must be a confusing experience for the fans of a club previously owned by Mike Ashley. 

Success on the field has washed away, if not cleansed, accusations of sports washing by the new ownership. Newcastle’s choice of green and white — the Saudi national colours — for their away kit next season may be premature.

A further sartorial footnote: Newcastle originally played in red, the colours of their antecedent club, Newcastle East End. As it happened, they played the Plumstead game in 1893 in their reserve team’s black and white striped shirts because of the colour clash. They adopted what would become their iconic first-team shirt as their own the following season. 

Howe’s Magpies will probably set up in the 4-3-3 he favours at home against sides that can be expected not to park the bus. With Jonjo Shelvey and Joe Willock, formerly of this parish, out injured for the rest of the season. Howe will likely field Sean Longstaff in midfield alongside Bruno Guimarães and Joelinton to feed the mercurial but potentially dangerous Almirón and Saint-Maximin ahead of them out wide. Either the muscular Chris Wood or the more athletic Calum Wilson will be the spearhead. 

At the back, Trippier, who, like Wilson, returned from a lengthy injury by coming on as a second-half substitute against Manchester City, will, if, judged fit enough to start, replace Emil Krafth at right back to complete a back four of Matt Targett, Dan Burn and club captain Jamaal Lascelles or Fabian Schlar. The dependable Martin Dubravka should be between the sticks. 

Issac Hayden, also formerly of this parish, is a long-term absentee following knee surgery in January.

The Arsenal

The task is straightforward: win. Then wash, rinse and repeat against the Toffees. 

With KT3 and Thomas Partey out for the season and Capitola Rob suspended for his two yellows, we look threadbare at the back, the more so if either or both of Gabriel and Ben White are unavailable. We won’t know until the team sheet is announced.

Arteta spurned two opportunities to bring on White on Thursday, first when Holding was sent off and then when our Brazilian centre back limped off with a quarter of an hour to go. Prudence, or an indication of persisting injury? Arteta’s subsequent comments suggest the later.

Saka is also a doubt, and he looks cream crackered. He has played more minutes than anyone else in the squad.

Assuming the walking wounded can be patched up to play, I would hope Arteta could send out:


Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Cedric

Elneny, Xhaka

Saka, Ødergaard, Martinelli


Bench: Leno, Lokonga, Smith Rowe, Tavares, Pepe, Lacazette and some youngsters permed from Marcelo Flores, Charlie Patino, Salah-Eddine, Zak Swanson and Jonathan Dinzeyi, the set that trained with the first-team ahead of the game.

If Gabriel is gone in the fetlock, Plan B would be for Tomi to move to centre back, where he has played for Japan, alongside Ben White, with Tavares on the left and Cedric on the right (up against Saint-Maximin; what could go wrong?). ESR would come in for Saka, if necessary.

If both first-choice centre backs are unavailable, Plan C might be to play Tomi and Xhaka at the back — I can’t see Dinzeyi or Swanson starting a game of this consequence — flanked by Cedric and Tavares, with Lokoneny as the double six. Yikes!

This game will test Arteta’s vaunted powers of inspiration, pre-game preparation and in-game management as much as his young team’s quality, intensity, and discipline. 

Will St Totteringham’s Day arrive after an absence of six years, bringing additional blessings this year? I still hold the faith, just as the team holds its fate in its hands. The footballing gods can be cruel.

The ‘holics pound

The biscuits have us narrow odds-on favourites. There is not much value in the score betting until a 3-0 or 3-1 away win, both available at around 16s. My instinct is for a narrower and nervy win.

Courage, mes braves, near and far.

72 Drinks to “It’s Black and White in Newcastle: Win”

  1. 1
    Cynic says:

    Can’t beat Newcastle, don’t deserve fourth. Simple as that really.

    Spews are going to destroy Norwich, so it’s up to Arsenal to show some balls and get the job done. Two wins and the season ends with everybody happy. Anything less and it will feel like an awful failure of a season. To me anyway.

  2. 2
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks Ned, a fine preview of another behind the sofa game.
    I hope it’s not Plan C at the back, that really would be scary.

  3. 3
    Esso says:

    Cheers Ned!


    I will not see this season as a failure in any way at all, whatever happens.

  4. 4
    bathgooner says:

    Thanks for an entertaining and informative preview, Ned. There’s only one acceptable result. Hopefully we will not end the night rueing another bizarre series of refereeing decisions.

    Just wn, Arsenal!

  5. 5
    bathgooner says:

    Esso @3, I agree with that last sentence.

    Our primary target was achieved 2 games ago and 4th place is in our own hands. Anyone who thought 4th was a legitimate target at the beginning of this season was either extremely young, pathologically optimistic or in the manic phase of a cyclothymic disorder. Fourth place has looked possible at several points as this season has drawn to a close but always with a few hurdles to be jumped. It remains in our own hands. We could have been better placed and have had an easier run in but it is what it is. It’s time to deliver. But if we don’t, while it’ll be disappointing, the season will have been a step in the right direction. So, no failure for me though the World Club Championship would have been nice.

  6. 6
    Ollie says:

    Cheers Ned. Must win at all cost.
    I remember the shoe off song from our own fans at an Arsenal away game too, I think QPR some years ago.
    Always wondered where that came from.
    Missing tomorrow’s game due to going to a gig. Poor planning on my part but I was million miles away from thinking we had a Monday night game one match from the end of the season, especially with no Europeam football. Only found out about ten days ago. Stupid fixtures compilers.

  7. 7
    Countryman100 says:

    A great preview Ned and Esso, you speak for us all @3.

    Bath I thought I had a decent scientific education but I had to resort to Google for cyclothymic disorder. Well played!

    Finally pray for me just after seven tomorrow evening when, three days after my 65th birthday, I will be ascending the 12 flights of stairs to the away end. I may need a little rest half way up.


  8. 8
    Pangloss says:

    Happy Birthday for Friday (?) C100.

    Allow me to jump on to the disagree with Cynic@1 bandwagon. I’m sure you, and he, would expect nothing else.

    Last but not least, thanks for an excellent preview Ned.

    And finally…

  9. 9
    TTG says:

    Firstly a belated happy birthday C100.
    65? Surely not….I thought you were much older !😀
    A terrific preview . To be honest while hope springs eternal , the combination of bad refereeing and poor and naive tactics from Arteta on Thursday have punctured our momentum. It feels like a repeat of Emery’s first season . Strangely Bath I must have been suffering from cyclothymia ( in fact Arsenal make manic depressives of many of us !) because I did set Arteta the target of reaching the Champions League given the results in the second half of last season and our summer transfer spend. I just checked my season preview to confirm it .
    I shall be bitterly disappointed if we let this opportunity slide . I accept we might have overachieved earlier but when you are four points ahead with three games to go we must finish it off. The chance has not gone and I pray it doesn’t but I’ve seen this movie before.
    My sense is we will draw tomorrow but I do hope the Countrymen have a safe and a much happier trip than I am envisaging

  10. 10
    Bathgooner says:

    Belated happy returns, C100.

    I hope that you had a great birthday and that the Gunners give you a late gift and cause for further celebration tomorrow evening.

  11. 11
    North Bank Ned says:

    Thanks, all.

    C100: Let me add belated birthday congratulations and best wishes for safe travels.

    Esso@3: 100% spot on. I doubt that many in this fine establishment, pace TTG, if they were being honest with themselves, would not preseason have accepted a top-six finish as representing a satisfactory term, with anything higher icing on the cake.

  12. 12
    Countryman100 says:

    TTG you’re a cheeky sod. First round on you at Lords in two weeks.

  13. 13
    Countryman100 says:

    Everyone else cheers guys. I’ve told my wife she is now sleeping with an old man.

  14. 14
    ClockEndRider says:

    Belated happy birthday, C100. I hope Mikel and the boys provide a suitable present tomorrow night,

  15. 15
    bt8 says:

    Great preview, Ned. With the extremities of high and/or low moods lurking depending on the result tomorrow night may I just say OMMMMMMMMM

  16. 16
    bt8 says:

    And lest I forget, Happy Birthday and Safe Motoring C100!

  17. 17
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@9: This inability to finish things off when on top (ooh, Matron!) is something Arteta needs to address. We’ve seen it time and time again in games, too. It is tradecraft that young payers need to learn, and we are light now on older hands who can pass on their experience in that regard. But it should come with time, just as the team has learned to close out games. We’ve only given up a goal in the last 15 minutes of a league game once since Brentford in mid-February.

  18. 18
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Thanks Ned for one more of your history-soaked, amusing and insightful previews.
    The clarity of purpose going into the final two matches I feel would help this young team to motivate themselves, stay focused, disciplined and let their unquestionable talent do the rest.

    Countryman (Happy Birthday!) and others going to the match, looking forward to you all cheering the team to a spirited victory.

    On another note, Saliba received Ligue Un young player of the season award. Surely should get a chance to prove himself in Arsenal colors next season?

  19. 19
    Uplympian says:

    Excellent & insightful preview Ned.
    We are veritably at the must win games. We know Toon are no longer a pushover so it’s down to us to put in the requisite performance to bag the 3 points. Our results have often been better than the actual performances, I will be ecstatic if this repeats itself these last 2 games.
    Although I share TTG’s view that we seem to falter when the 4th place is at hand, should we not make it I shall nonetheless feel 5th place and europa league is progress for a young & developing squad.

  20. 20
    Uplympian says:

    Belated happy birthday Countryman, may your trip to St James Park end up being the best present you receive.
    Yours @ 13 – that TTG does get around 😉

  21. 21
    Cynic says:

    I shall be bitterly disappointed if we let this opportunity slide . I accept we might have overachieved earlier but when you are four points ahead with three games to go we must finish it off.

    This. Pre-season expectations are irrelevant. The real sign of progress will be in getting the job done from a strong position, not throwing it away twice.

  22. 22
    Ollie says:

    I’m with Cynic and TTG there, with the small caveat that I still think that looking back at the season I will still see signs of progress.
    But no making the CL now would be very costly, in terms of transfer targets too.

  23. 23
    Bathgooner says:

    I have issues with players who ‘will only sign for a CL club’ to enhance their own status on the back of other buggers’ efforts. I prefer players who want to sign for the Arsenal because it’s offering them an opportunity to be part of its future and want to take us back to the CL as a highly competitive outfit.


  24. 24
    Trev says:

    Thanks Ned – great stuff – some history, informative and comprehensive as usual.

    Elneny has played at centre back on the very odd occasion. Everything crossed here – whoever plays.

    And what Esso said.

  25. 25
    Cynic says:

    What Bath said at 23 is how I feel, but at the same time you’re not going to get a level of striker who could be a difference maker unless you’re in the CL already. If recent games have shown us anything, even the ones we’ve won, it’s that we need a beast up front who will kill a team off when we’re dominating or be capable of a goal from nowhere if we’re not.

    We do not have that at the moment.

  26. 26
    Ollie says:

    What Cynic said, all of it.
    Even my idealist self has to be realistic. And Aubameyang semeed to fit the category described by bath and it didn’t work out long term (though he helped in particular win us the FA Cup). I can’t read the future but qualifying for the CL would put us in a better position on all fronts (even if we have no chance of winning it, but heh, we could just drop into the EL, perfect trick…). And from the position we were in on Thursday, not qualifying would feel like a failure in the opportunity stakes.
    Even though I’d have bitten your hand off at the start of the season (never mind after threr matches) to be in the position we are.
    But we are where we are NOW, so let’s try and make the most of it, and we can keep the post-mortem, season reviews, next steps to take, etc. for after Sunday.

  27. 27
    Bathgooner says:

    Cynic @25 & Ollie @26, in truth I cannot disagree.

    I am pretty confident that if we win tonight, that we will also beat Everton who will hopefully be ‘on the beach’ after winning their home game against Palace who should be there already.

  28. 28
    Cynic says:

    For those who don’t think this season would be a failure, just bear in mind that if Arsenal doesn’t get fourth, Tottenham will and that we had it in the bag twice before blowing it, to let them take it away.

    If that’s not failure then what is?

  29. 29
    North Bank Ned says:

    The opportunity might have been unexpected, but you Cynic, you are right that the opportunThe downside of the neighbours taking fourth would be that Conte would likely stay, and Kane with him. That would make them a contender next season. We could do without that. With Citeh getting a makeover, the Mancs a gut reno, Chelsea under new ownership and the disruption of the World Cup, next season’s PL is going to be more open than this. Anything less than fourth at the end of it for us would be an unequivocal failure.

  30. 30
    North Bank Ned says:

    Oops. That first sentence should say: The opportunity might have been unexpected, but you are right, Cynic, that, failing to grasp it, once it had arisen, is down to us.

  31. 31
    Bathgooner says:

    Ned @30, as Steve T would point out if he dropped into the bar today, it is a more painful thing to recognise that failure is the result of our own errors or limitations than to point the finger of blame at corrupt or incompetent officials or cheating opponents but it is a sign of maturity .

  32. 32
    TTG says:

    I think the emphasis on playing in the CL is heightened by agents who expect the bigger clubs with bigger budgets ( and a willingness to pay big agent’s fees) to make them richer. For many players ( eg several who’ve gone to ManUre ) the interests of their players would have been better served in taking an intermediate step. Dortmund are a classic intermediate step but we might represent one too until we are re-established as a regular CL qualifier .
    Ned hits the nail firmly on the head with his comments about Tottnumb. If we allow them to qualify for the CL it will be a pivotal moment for them. They probably keep Kane and Conte , sign players like Tielemans and revitalise the club. We would find it harder to satisfy the ambitions of our younger players and are back in the awful Thursday/ Sunday cycle of the Europa League . But we might win it! I certainly think we can get to the group stage of the Champions League if we qualify

  33. 33
    Bathgooner says:

    If anyone is around or within striking distance of N5 on Friday 20th May, why not drop round the Tollie for a pint (or two), support a great cause and meet some top Gooners?

  34. 34
    Esso says:

    Been following Arsenal since 1969 and in person from 1978 – over land and sea and Leicester.

    It hurts when we lose, (sometimes physically in the ‘good old days’ – not). But mostly I follow Arsenal to have enjoy meself and have a good time.

    Banging on and on about failure, especially to Lily White Cunts – sorry just not for me.

  35. 35
    North Bank Ned says:

    White and Gabriel start. Tavares in for Cedric and ESR for Martinelli.

  36. 36
    North Bank Ned says:

    Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tavares
    Xhaka, Elneny
    Saka, Odegaard (c), Smith Rowe

    Bench: Leno, Cedric, Swanson, Oulad M’Hand, Lokonga, Patino, Martinelli, Pepe, Lacazette

  37. 37
    Bathgooner says:


  38. 38
    Gooner_KS says:

    We look very nervous. Understandable but quite worrying.

  39. 39
    ClockEndRider says:

    Geordies putting a lot of effort in especially with the press, let’s see if they can keep,it up.

  40. 40
    Gooner_KS says:

    Gabi to come on in the 2H and decide the game

  41. 41
    Cynic says:

    Look like eleven blokes who just met for the first time on the flight up.

    Smith-Rowe is wasted wide.

  42. 42
    ClockEndRider says:

    Playing with 3 only partly fit defenders has meant the whole team is not as solid.

  43. 43
    gedo says:

    C’mon boys, three points (typing curled up in a ball).

  44. 44
    Gooner_KS says:

    Ben’s night gone from bad to worse. Fuck fuck fuck

  45. 45
    ClockEndRider says:

    That’s just bad luck. But we wouldn’t have been there is a professional footballer who gets paid a fortune could take a throw in. Pitiful.

  46. 46
    Gooner_KS says:

    With just 2 players they cross the whole pitch and almost score, I just don’t see us getting anything tonight. A gutting feeling

  47. 47
    Gooner_KS says:

    Arteta completely missed the tactics and it feels like he couldn’t motivate the boys for the task

  48. 48
    Cynic says:

    Didn’t turn up yet again. Absolute junk perfomance.

  49. 49
    Sancho Panza says:

    Shambles. Is this the real Arsenal getting spunked by mid table teams?

  50. 50
    Gooner_KS says:

    We definitely over achieved this year, it’s just the expectation that it was possible to get 4th hurts so much. The belief and mentality was never there, I’m not even trying to compare it with R. Madrid’s, they completely turned 3-4 games, out of nothing and against much mich better teams.

  51. 51
    Bathgooner says:

    Very disappointing. Frankly we looked knackered both physically and mentally. Except for Pépé who looked utter shit.

  52. 52
    Cynic says:

    But we wouldn’t have been there is a professional footballer who gets paid a fortune could take a throw in.

    He’s not the first. Tomiyasu has been called for it this season and some of his throws first half looked iffy. We also had Bellerin with the chocolate wrists at throw ins. He got pulled back for them many times.

    That performance tonight was sort of half expected, I just don’t have any confidence in them to turn up when it matters, which is largely why I believe any “progress” is cosmetic.

    Also found it slightly alarming, but not completely surprising, that Arteta looked like he didn’t know what to do. We had a few shots of him tonight with his hand on his chin and two assistant coaches in his ear pointing in different directions. Not a good look.

    Oh well, we’re not ready for the Champions League anyway.

  53. 53
    Bathgooner says:

    And now the Sky’s foetid hyaenas waddle in to pick the flesh from the battered Arsenal carcass. Oh boy, are they enjoying this! Classless northern scum.

  54. 54
    Sancho Panza says:

    Champions league is not our level I’m afraid. A lot of very average players in this squad. And I would agree progress is cosmetic. Too many poor performances all season and a lot of our wins were scrappy and unconvincing. Really need a shake up and a lot of hard work over the Summer.

  55. 55
    OsakaMatt says:

    A real bastard of an ending, I think Bath is
    right and we looked like a young team who’d
    just run out of steam. Won’t change my own
    opinion that we’ve made real progress this

  56. 56
    Cynic says:

    I expect Xhaka to get a ton of hate on here for that interview but there are two things.

    First, I thought we had too many players who didn’t want it tonight, and his comment about staying at home if you’re not up for it was spot on for three or four of them.

    Second, I thought our central midfield in the last couple of games was a joke and he’s supposed to be part of a shield in front of the back four, so if he wants to criticise others he can’t escape the fact that he is also largely to blame.

  57. 57
    North Bank Ned says:

    What OM said @55.

  58. 58
    Malcolm says:

    Well having got out of bed at 0430 S.Australian time and crawled back in at 0700, I haven’t had the courage to read the comments yet.
    Tavares…foul throw….and the rest of it…all so disappointing but as a Gooner since the 50s I’m kinda used to being disappointed
    My apologies if I sound like a broken record but who sends out Arsenal in yellow? Its like a surrender from the off. I know Adidas dictates this, despite having been told by the Club previously, its to do with colour clashes. In what spectrum does red & white clash with black/white stripes and black shorts? Would it have made any difference, well probably not but I believe its important.

  59. 59
    ecg says:

    Cynic @56, you nailed it. I told someone at half time that it looked like the Newcastle players wanted to win more than we did, even though most them should mentally be on a beach in St Tropez with two games left. And given what we saw on the pitch it’s hard to argue with anything that Xhaka said (there’s a first for everything).

  60. 60
    Cynic says:

    Arselog today – For some this will be the best chance to qualify for the Champions League in years, and I think that’s fair. However, I don’t see why it has to be seen as the only chance.

    I don’t see, after performances in recent weeks (even the unconvincing wins) why anyone would think this group of players would get anywhere near top four again.

  61. 61
    Bathgooner says:

    I think Arseblog’s immediate analysis is good – as ever. The words I would take from it are:

    “I do see things that I like, I see a team and players I can get behind, but this morning it’s hard to look beyond last night as a huge opportunity missed. Some will see it as failure, and I understand that. When the stakes are that high and you put in that kind of performance, whatever the mitigating circumstances, sympathy will be in short supply. It was the kind of display which raises questions and scratches old wounds, no doubt about it. This wasn’t a heroic effort which just fell short, it was a horrific one which saw us fall flat on our faces.

    I think we’ve done well to get ourselves into this position, but when the pressure was on, we didn’t have what it takes. Not just in terms of character, but quality/depth within the squad, and that’s where the focus should fall on Mikel Arteta, and Edu in his role as Technical Director.”

    We all knew we were toothless up front. As Blogs says elsewhere in his blog it’s extraordinary that this group were in a position to get fourth, given their scoring rate. It’s time to rectify that.

  62. 62
    TTG says:

    Good points shared from Blogs’ analysis . I’m doing a season review but will keep my powder dry but the number of goals scored is amazing as is the fact that with one game to go we’ve lost THIRTEEN matches – that’s over a third of our games . We’ve also won a large number which suggests huge variance in our performances over the season

  63. 63
    TTG says:

    I hope that any gay male player who wishes to come out can do so without any abuse, prejudice or ridicule . Isn’t it interesting that a very large number of female professionals in this country are gay ( including many of the stars of the Arsenal ladies team) and no one takes any notice . Nor should they .
    This suggests there is still some prehistoric notion of masculinity existing in parts of the male game

  64. 64
    OsakaMatt says:

    A large variance in performance is to be expected with a group as young as our current squad, something we will need to improve next season. Obviously, it won’t be the same group of players as some will leave and some will join. Fingers crossed our summer dealings will go as well as last season, those signings played a significant part in our improvement from 8th to a probable 5th this season (I don’t say certain as they are spuds after all).

  65. 65
    Cynic says:

    Alan Smith, when he said in commentary Pepe is either a nine out of ten or a two, was on the money. Only what he said applies to every single player in our team, in my opinion.

  66. 66
    Cynic says:

    Players who worry me. And I do like them all, this is meant to air concerns not have a go at them.

    Ramsdale – He’s been a superb signing but the worry for me is the false bravado. He is a bit too outwardly confident and faux relaxed but it’s all bluff, as recent erratic performances have shown all too clearly. Yes, he made two superb saves last night to stop it being totally embarrassing, but his distribution was atrocious and some of his behaviour just smacked of a bloke who was bricking it and over compensating. Singled out by Arteta during a stoppage in play and looked like he was being given heaps for his kicking choices. Rightly so, if he was.

    Tomiyasu Calf injuries that keep him out for months and take him out of the games when he does get back? And hamstring woes? Fitness looks like being an issue but on the playing side of things no worries at all.

    Tierney Another one who feels like a long term injury just waiting to happen. Out too often and wasn’t exactly Mr Fitness at Celtic either. Concerning.

    Saka. One dimensional. Good player but if I know what he’s going to do every time he gets the ball, Premier League defenders will. I also think there’s a risk with him that he will be playing when he shouldn’t be, because he’s ‘The Bestest Fing Evah’ and a team without him in it is going to be considered weak.

    ESR. He worries me for one major reason. Is he going to want to stay if he’s not playing? I don’t see where he fits in if Odegaard is The Man in that position linking the attack. He’s not a wide player, never will be because he lacks pace and I don’t want to see him run into the ground tracking back anyway. I don’t think Arteta is a good enough coach to come up with a system that can make use of ESR and Odegaard, without sacrificing one of them as a sort of wide square peg. And on a side note, I wish he would get used to wearing proper socks. These shinny-socks are an affectation for over rated tossers like Grealish and they make players look proper tramps.

    Odegaard. Less of a worry than ESR but he’s a hot and cold player. When he’s cold he’s a waste of a shirt. Needs to up his game and stop disappearing.

    Martinelli. Again a player I like a lot but his decision making and final ball is often poor. Shoots from crazy positions (and more to the point doesn’t score when he does) a bit greedy when he’s clattering shots into defenders instead of getting his head up. Potentially the best striker we have but I do wonder if he’s going to develop and learn. I hope so.

    Those are just the ones I think are seen as The Bright Future who I worry about. There’s more who are hopefully not going to be around, or are not seen as part of the starting eleven in a fully fit squad.

    In all I think we have too many players with potential and they need some high quality experience up the spine of the team to get the best from them. Sadly, blowing fourth means we’re unlikely to get anyone high calibre.

  67. 67
    Cynic says:

    Obviously the only point worth taking any notice of @66 is the one about the socks. Forget the rest of it, just sort out the feckin’ socks ffs.

  68. 68
    Bathgooner says:

    Fair observations, Cynic. We all know what this team needs and hope we can add the top striker we require to finish our chances, the top midfielder to replace Xhaka and cover for Partey and bring through some more precocious talent to fill out the squad. Saliba will add more quality to our CB options. It sounds like Hickey will provide useful FB, WB and CMF cover and is nearly signed up. There’s a fair amount of development still required in our younger elements who can all improve. I would keep Elneny as MF cover and Nketiah as CF cover if he’s prepared to be a back-up but this summer has to see us do important business especially up front.

  69. 69
    Bathgooner says:

    A man by man analysis of the Arsenal squad in today’s Torygraph (£). I wonder what prompted that article?


  70. 70
    TTG says:

    I think we will find at the end of the season that ESR has been nursing an injury and may need an op or some rest . That is why he so rarely starts and why his performances have slightly tailed off

  71. 71
    OsakaMatt says:

    I’d keep Mo too though I think Eddie will go.
    Don’t know much about Hickey but his signing
    looks like we won’t persevere with Nuno.

  72. 72
    scruzgooner says: