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A Buzz has Grown

Arsenal visit Brentford’s Community Stadium for the first Premier League clash of the new season with the Bees this Sunday lunchtime. This fixture was moved up in time from later in the afternoon due to the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. It will be the first time either team has played since her death eight days ago: on 3 September Brentford was at home to destroy Leeds 5-2, while on 8 September the Queen’s memory was honored with a minute’s silence before the second half of Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat of FC Zürich in St. Gallen.

The Gunners remain remain top of the league, with 15 points from 18 on offer, with the Bees having garnered 9 points from the same number of games. Arsenal and Brentford are a pair of teams that really have very little history against one another, and most of it is from 1947 and before. We have won two of our last three games against them, since 2018, but the loss was the horror-show we played at Brentford to open their first top-flight season since…1947. Between COVID and bedding in new players, and Brentford’s emotional high from being back at the top table, we lost 0-2 to begin the run of three-straight losses to start our 21-22 season.

However, since then we’ve gotten better and better (with a bit of rollercoastering along the way), finishing last season 5th to Brentford’s 13th, including beating them at the Emirates 2-1 in February. Well done to them for staying up; and while they sit eight places below us they’ve got the same goal differential, having scored 1 and let in just 2 more than we have. They are not going to be pushovers.


Led by the impressive Toney, who sits third on the goalscoring table behind the erstwhile Haaland and the ubiquitous Mitrovic, Brentford usually employ a 4-3-3 (though they thrashed Manchester United lined up in a 5-3-2). Ex-Arsenal schoolboy Dasilva is a regular in the squad, playing on the left, either up front or in midfield; he offers another goal threat. Their defense, in front of Raya in goal, is anchored by central defender Mee (great grandson of our own Bertie), with rumored Arsenal target Aaron Hickey at right back. They are a tough team to beat, and a team that has shown the ability to come back from being down: all of their draws this season are the result of the Bees scoring late goals to bring the scores level at the final whistle.

Brentford will be without midfielder Norgaard, sidelined since he end of August with Achilles tendonitis; of their other two absentees, Pinnock (knee) isn’t in contention, but Tenes (thigh) is the subject of a late fitness test. Neither of the latter two have played yet this year, but Norgaard will be a loss in the center of their midfield.


As the season has gone on, the buzz has grown. Our players have raised their games, and even in our loss to United we played well except against the long ball over our high line…damn it! We are scoring more freely, defending (generally) well, and very often playing some of the best football we’ve played in a decade. The crowd is into it, home and away, supporting players when they falter and geeing them on when they’re on top of the game. If we could convert the better part of our chances, rather than the lesser, we would be beating teams by scorelines that reflect our dominance rather than winning by a goal and peering somewhat nervously through our hands towards the ends of games. Of course, that’s a longstanding issue at Arsenal, and it’s hoped as The Process, led by the Premier League’s Manager of the Month, continues to unfold that will prove to be another box ticked.

Expect to see our usual 4-3-3, though with Tierney instead of Zinchenko, and Lokonga instead of Partey. Injuries to the second of each of those pairs will reduce or eliminate them from contention. It’s a tossup between White and Tomiyasu at right back (I’d like to see Tomi start), whereas the front three, the center of defense, and our keeper are nailed-on:

Martinelli — Jesus — Saka

Xhaka — Ødegaard — Lokonga

Tierney — Gabriel — Saliba! — Tomiyasu


Besides Zinchenko (lower leg) and Partey (thigh) we’re expecting to be without Cedric (knock) and ESR (groin), as well as longer-term absentees Nelson and Mo’neny. It’s possible that Zinchenko, Partey and Cedric will pass late fitness tests, but none should start. That leaves our bench a bit thin, with Nketiah, Marquinhos, Vieira, White, Holding, and Turner ahead of some mix of the injured and three younger players to be named later…likely Partey, Awe, and Walters.

The Holics Pound

If our defense can keep Toney quiet and we keep our wits about us until the end, I think we can win this one with a similar scoreline to our last game with them, 2-1. However, that’s only available on 8s, while 3-0 and 3-1 Arsenal wins are offered at 16s and 14s, respectively. For those of you going to the game, enjoy, sing your lungs out, and give our players the benefit of the best of your energy. Considering the events of this unusual week, and with more happening in London and away at international games in the coming fortnight, it’s the perfect time to help the team recover from the events at Old Trafford and stake our continued claim at the top of the table.


45 Drinks to “A Buzz has Grown”

  1. 1
    Ollie says:

    Cheers scruz. It’s going to be a tough game! I’ll go for a nervy 2-1 win.
    P.S.: we DID play that Zürich match after Lizzie’s death, as she died earlier that afternoon (though the annoucement was around half-time, but even then that’s still half a match, as you mentioned the homage. End of pedantry for the day. 😬)

  2. 2
    bathgooner says:

    Great stuff, scruz.

    That team will do fine and 3-1 to the Arsenal feels like the right result to me.

    Go win, Gunners!

  3. 3
    Trev says:

    Jolly fine stuff, scruz !
    It’s obvious but I think an early goal will be required to get us to that 3-1 score line. Would be nice tho’.
    The most recently acquired of our Gabriels is due a goal to reward his superb work rate around every area of the team.
    Tomi at right back for me – gives better balance down the right flank and will give Ben White time to properly heal his reported knee and thigh niggles.

  4. 4
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks scruz, agree with you on the team but I’ll go with 2-0 to The Arsenal.
    Tricky game really, and any win would be great. It was handier to have the
    Everton home game straight after losing, but it’s a good test. COYGs!

  5. 5
    bt8 says:

    Hey Scruz, I haven’y read your post yet but just finished the magnificent article about Maria Petri you put at the end of the last drinks. To quote Maria in the article, “I shall be oh so upset when I die, because I won’t be able to watch Arsenal anymore.”

    Maria will be missed but be an inspiration for many others.

  6. 6
    North Bank Ned says:

    Fine preview, Scruz. You make a good point about improving our conversion rate, long an Achilles heel. As others say, it will be a tough game, although winnable. Thomas Frank has done a first-rate job at Brentford in making his teams more than the sum of their parts.

  7. 7
    Mulerise14 says:

    Partey may start as he’s been training since Monday…. that would do our chances a whole loads of good.

  8. 8
    Doctor Faustus says:

    A very fine review scruz! I would probably disagree a little bit with our formation being 4-3-3, we are not quite there yet and off the ball it seems we play more of a 4-1-4-1 nowadays or 4-2-3-1. The midfield isn’t quite packed close and Jesus stays a bit ahead of Martinelli and Saka. In any case, it’s not that important.

    I think you identified our weak point perfectly: scoring more goals. Including creating more chances — though we are better in that category compared to last season — as well as conversion rate.

    Last season’s opening day away loss at this stadium remains a rather unpleasant memory. Looking forward to the team silencing the energetic honey gatherers by the panache and penetration of our passionate performance.

    Enjoy the match everyone.

    Come on Arsenal!

  9. 9
    TTG says:

    Nice preview Scruz
    We had several games last season which were excruciating but two which deserve that description , particularly , were Palace away and that opener against Brentford .We avenged the Palace game in our opener with them this season.
    This will be a tough game. Frank is a canny coach and they play pragmatic football.A win would be an excellent result . If we do so I suspect it will be by no more than one goal maybe 2-1

  10. 10
    bt8 says:

    Bang! Just like I’m backing Jesus to do into the Bees net on the morrow.

    Thanks Scruz. I reckon your scoreline to be spot on. Unless Jesus’ cup runneths over.

  11. 11
    Sancho Panza says:

    Brentford are a bit of a misnomer in my eyes. Most people consider last season as quite comfortable mid table but they started off well and lost a bucket ful of games and were at one point down in the mix for relegation. Early season form kept them up. That and shite like Norwich and Watford. We need to be clinical tomorrow and wipe the floor with them.

  12. 12
    bt8 says:

    Holy early kickoff batman it’s going to be 6am here and 2 hours earlier in Scruzland. Is this what Matt puts up with on a regular basis?

    Sancho I like your style.

  13. 13
    bt8 says:

    Fulham away fans borrowed the Saliba song after Palhinha’s goal at Forest yesterday. Bunch of fraudsters. It was a good goal though and Fulham are near the top of the table.

  14. 14
    OsakaMatt says:

    Yep, 4am for the 8pm kick offs is the norm bt8.
    I sometimes read Tim’s excellent 7AM kick off blog
    and think ‘7AM? You lucky bastard’ 😂😂

  15. 15
    scruzgooner says:

    thanks, all, for the compliments. faustus, 4-3-3 was my way of being lazy, thanks for being less so :). matt, knowing you have “normal” games at 11 pm and later is why i don’t complain. but, i won’t be up for this one, thank god for dvr!

  16. 16
    Esso says:

    Cheers scruz!

  17. 17
    Esso says:

  18. 18
    Esso says:

    Heh! Just posted twitter link from Ornstein saying Odegard and Zinchenko out – but ‘comment awaiting moderation’.

  19. 19
    Esso says:

    James Benge reporting Vieira to start – presumably as #10

  20. 20
    Esso says:

    Arsenal: Ramsdale, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tierney, Partey, Xhaka, Vieira, Martinelli, Saka, Jesus

    Subs: Turner, Tomiyasu, Holding, Sousa, Lokonga, Smith, Nwaneri, Marquinhos, Nketiah

  21. 21
    TTG says:

    Big news is that Nwaneri aged 15 and Sousa are on the bench . Shows thinness of squad but also the quality of our youngsters . We have a lot of injuries for a team that has played so few games

  22. 22
    Ollie says:

    Cheers Esso.
    Yeah the bench is a bit worrying already TTG. And that’s despite having had ten days off. Not sure it says anything about the quality of the youngsters though, until we see these play. The ‘big’ youngsters are on loan, and you’ve got to fill the seats on the bench.

  23. 23
    Uplympian says:

    Thanks Scruz for an excellent preview – I’m with the more cautious 2-1 score line.
    We seem to be picking up lots of injuries with a fairly light schedule so far – what’s going on? That’s for another day, let’s not get stung there again, we need to be a hive of activity.

  24. 24
    OsakaMatt says:

    Quite a tough game for Vieira to make his first PL start – best of luck to him

  25. 25
    bt8 says:

    6am battle station manned. COYG!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. 26
    OsakaMatt says:

    Nice corner, great header, one nil

  27. 27
    Bathgooner says:

    Good start. Now build on it.

    Oh dear. Another bloody calf injury.

  28. 28
    bt8 says:

    Saliba Jesus. 2-0 using our heads. 😀😀

    Great cross by Xhaka for the second goal.

  29. 29
    OsakaMatt says:

    Jesus has risen again! 2-0
    Lovely cross from Xhaka, who has also risen again.

  30. 30
    bt8 says:

    Indeed, Matt. Biographically speaking and especially considering his form this season Xhaka is the more Jesus like figure by some distance. 😜

  31. 31
    Bathgooner says:

    Heh, Matt @29, nice wordsmithing.

    Worthy of that excellent performance.

  32. 32
    OsakaMatt says:

    3-0 and surely top of the league

  33. 33
    OsakaMatt says:

    Ta Bath, I’m enjoying this one now. Dismantled Brentford so far.
    Everyone doing well, and looking more solid with TP back.

  34. 34
    OsakaMatt says:

    Maybe take Gabriel off in a bit

  35. 35
    OsakaMatt says:

    Welcome to the PL at 15!
    Cesc’s record gone

  36. 36
    Ollie says:

    That was surprisingly easy and stress free. Could have been more goals but I enjoyed it a lot!

  37. 37
    Countryman100 says:

    What a wonderful dominant performance. Truly fantastic football.

  38. 38
    OsakaMatt says:

    Very professional after the 3rd goal and a great response to the defeat at Old Toilet.

  39. 39
    North Bank Ned says:

    That was an excellent team performance. They just drained the life out of Brentford, who were made to look a pale shadow of their usual selves.

  40. 40
    bt8 says:

    Great performance remembering that Brentford took three points off that Old Trafford lot

  41. 41
    North Bank Ned says:

    OM@33: Good point about what Partey brings. Understandably, he looked to have a bit of ring rust but he adds control to the transitions from defence to attack that Sambi does not yet have.

  42. 42
    Esso says:

    We are the fucking bollox today.

  43. 43
    Countryman100 says:

    What Esso said.

  44. 44
    Bathgooner says:

    We were indeed. Very sexy football!

  45. 45
    Bathgooner says: