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A Celtic three-point knot.

Hello my fellow Gooners, long time no see, but once again I have the privilege of previewing The Arsenal. I hope the day finds you fully recovered from the stresses and strains of deadline day and ready for a top vs. bottom clash as The Arsenal, who I have heard are top of the league, take on Everton, who have just appointed Sean Dyche as their new saviour.

But first a quick look at how the week has gone for The Arsenal. Rough with the smooth as is life’s wont I guess. The roughest in this case being an unfortunate injury to the popular Mo Elneny that sees him lost to the squad for several months. Best wishes for a speedy recovery Mo. The smooth on the other hand is the news that TP5’s injury is not serious. If there is a gooner anywhere who has not realised the importance of TP to our current title challenge then I can only urge them to Pay More Attention!

Transfer Window

However, Mo’s injury did leave us short in midfield, and that brings us handily to the transfer window. Much has been posted, wise, wild, or windy, as the case may be, in the Goonerverse already about the impact of this window on the present and future. To the wild, I would only say that on reflection you might find that now is not the most opportune moment to fire Edu.   Amongst the many wise words, I hope that we can all agree that Jorginho is now an Arsenal player and deserves our full support – we have the most positive match-going support in the country this season and long may that continue. Windy, you can safely leave to me as I have added a very personal view below on the key benefits from all these transfer window shenanigans….


• We signed three players. Some may mundanely think this was simply to strengthen the squad or align to the Ropey League Rule that you can only add three players for the knock-out stages, but I have no doubt it was actually because Mik and Ed have recognised the importance of three.

“Three is the first number to which the meaning ‘all’ was given. It is The Triad, being the number of the whole as it contains the beginning, a middle, and an end. The power of three is universal and is the tripartite nature of the world as heaven, earth and waters. It is body, soul and spirit.”

Personally, having all the spirituality of a garden lawnmower, that is wasted on me, but I am certainly glad that we have men such as Mik and Ed at the helm, and to whom such wisdom is meat and drink.

• We didn’t sign Jonjo Shelvey. That is always a good window.

• We are still top of the league no matter how many players the other teams signed, loaned or created artificially in laboratories.

In other words, we done good.

Team news

As Gabriel Jesus is still a few weeks away, Thomas Partey apparently fit, and MA has answered the Ben/Tomi question in Ben’s favour every time, I think the starting XI will have a very familiar look. In fact, it’s so familiar that I am going to save myself the trouble of typing it out. We all know who they are by now. We trust them and they have delivered with a regularity that has delighted all season; all powers to their elbows, heads, feet and knees for this one.

The Opposition – Everton

Everton have had a reasonably successful past, winning the league nine times, the FA Cup five times and the Cup Winners Cup once since their formation in the late 1870s. They have also been in the top level of English football since 1954. Not as successful as us to be sure but not too bad I can patronisingly say.

However, that past lies in stark contrast to their miserable present. From an outside perspective they appear, since the departure of the mediocre Moyes, to be badly led, poorly managed and, in general, useless. They have lost five of their last six games (amusingly the only point was at Man City) and are in deep trouble. A step forward was taken when ‘Lamps’ was finally fired and then two steps back.  When I read of Dyche’s appointment I found myself contrasting my own ‘all-is-well-in-the-world’ feeling as we happily continue our glorious title challenge with the feelings of the average Evertonian just now – what a truly bitter ginger pill Dyche must be to swallow. To quote the writer David Gerrold  “Life is hard. Then you die. Then they throw dirt in your face. Then the worms eat you. Be grateful it happens in that order”.  Except of course it isn’t happening in that order for Everton fans. Dyche may save them this season, and even restore them to mid-table nothingness next season but the football will be terrible. I wonder if it would have been better to reign in the hell of the championship than to be served the heaven of the saviour Dyche.

I have no idea who they will select so cannot advise with any confidence but we should expect some changes I suppose. Needless to say, we should win well this weekend despite any new manager bounce or our last two defeats at Goodison Park. Time to toss tasteless toffees to the trashcan. Take the three points and on we go lads. And finally, my personal commiserations to Alex Iwobi, a likeable fellow who had been one of their few players doing well this season. I fear for him under the new management.

The HolicsRopeyLeague

As a quick bonus extra, it is time for a mid-season review of the 14 staunch gooners chasing our prestigious fantasy league title. I am happy to tell you that, like The Arsenal, your writer has headed the table for most of the season. I am not sure which was the bigger surprise to me! Unfortunately, unlike the PL, the chasing pack are not a hapless rabble that have tamely fallen away but an astute and determined bunch. Led by ATG the chasing group includes TTG, Bath, GSD, Uply  and reigning champion bt8 to name a few. Many twists and turns to come no doubt but it has all been good clean fun so far – thank you gentlemen!

The Holic Pound

As you can imagine an Arsenal win is prohibitively short odds and even a 3-0 prediction in line with the title of this piece is a skinny 8s. Personally, I feel Mr. Martinelli is due a goal, and I noticed he was 6/1 for first goal-scorer. Be nice to see Leandro come on and open his account as well.

That is about it for this preview folks. For any of you attending, I hope you have a safe trip and for those of us watching I hope we have another great Arsenal performance to enjoy. Come On You Gunners!!!

62 Drinks to “The Importance of Three”

  1. 1
    Bathgooner says:

    Great preview Matt though you did omit the expected Dyche strategy of rotational fouling and occasional extreme violence with the intent at least to intimidate if not to maim.

  2. 2
    BtM says:

    Entertaining preview, Matt. Let’s get Dyche off to an atrocious start.

  3. 3
    Countryman100 says:

    Super preview Matt. First of 19 cup finals in our run in. Having got home stupidly late after the Etihad last Friday, we’ll be departing stupidly early to get to the Old Lady of Goodison tomorrow in time for a 12.30 kick off. Very privileged to have nailed a pair of tickets in what might our last visit to this historic ground. Last time we went it was a very poor 0-0 (Freddie’s first game in charge) in which the best thing was the Z Cars theme as the teams ran out. Hoping for a crisp and dominant 3-0 win and an easy journey back down the M6.

  4. 4
    TTG says:

    That’s a very wide-ranging preview but sadly you did not reveal the secrets of your Fantasy League success .I read in the Athletic ‘ How Haaland wrecked the Fantasy League ‘ as about 80% of players have him as captain ( including me )
    Wouldn’t it be interesting if our big signing turned out to be Kiwior , as an explosive midfielder?
    I’ve seen the Everton new manager bounce emerging over the horizon and tomorrow will most likely be tricky . It would be good to get a couple of early goals up. I fancy 2-0 to the good guys and a short -lived eight point lead until the Spuds collapse in disarray on Sunday

  5. 5
    TTG says:

    Take sandwiches . You’ll need more than a crisp on a cold, February morning. Travel safely and happily

  6. 6
    bt8 says:

    Bravo, Bravo, Bravo. As you say Matt good things, such as your preview, often come in threes. That means you owe us two more. 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼

  7. 7
    scruzgooner says:

    get in, matt. well done, love the tripartite structure you’re calling out. thank god we didn’t sign shelvey!

    here’s to a cracking of the toffees. as ttg says, a couple of early goals, and making sure the kicking gets brought to the attention of TMWTW. maybe even a red card for one of their offenders. though, beware! it’s as banana-skinny as any game we’ve played this season.

  8. 8
    Up4GrabsNow! says:

    An early goal for us tomorrow could be key. The Goodison crowd are not happy campers these days and we need to make sure they have nothing to cheer about. Dyche will have his his team fired up for a physical battle, the ref will need to be on his toes.

    As for the HolicsRopeyLeague, if there is relegation, I am doomed!

  9. 9
    bt8 says:

    Thank you Matt for not mentioning my current position in the Ropey League table.

    Ream saves on the line for Fulham

  10. 10
    Up4GrabsNow! says:

    0-0 at the Cottage and according to the Guardian MBM “Mykhailo Mudryk was anonymous”. Maybe we dodged a bullet there?

  11. 11
    ecg says:

    Can we all take a moment to laugh at Chelsea?

  12. 12
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Enticing preview Matt, wonderfully raises the anticipation.

    Everton’s new manager has inherited some of his trusted lieutenants from the Burnley days and I think he will use them to try to set the tone of the game. They will fight tooth and nail and I think we will have to be at our incisive and also patient best to break through.

    Good news on Martinelli signing a new contract. Hope Saliba and Saka are to follow.

    Mikel got his fifth PL manager of the month award in only his fourth year with us. A manager of the year award at the end of the season would be grand. 🙂

    Enjoy the match everyone!

    Come on Arsenal!

  13. 13
    TTG says:

    I care very little about tye Chavs other than to hope they implode messily and completely asap . But it won’t be possible to judge their signings for some time and they won’t be anything like a complete side until next season when they may be outside Europe . I think Mudryk and Fernandez will be top players but it will take time to adjust to the soap opera at the Bus Stop.
    I notice George Osborne was in the Directors Box tonight. I wonder if his financial counsel has been sought ?

  14. 14
    21st century gooner says:

    I will sadly be missing this game thanks to work but even with the new manager bounce we should win this comfortably. Everton are rubbish, plain and simple. The gravel muncher will undoubtedly play a back 10, and field an entire eleven of lads with a forklift truck license. They don’t have much up top, with the perpetually injured DCL and the odious maupay. Gray is a useful player and we were linked with onana, but there’s very little there and we should have far too much for them.

  15. 15
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks for the kind words everyone. Particularly you Dr F, to whom my humblest apologies.

  16. 16
    OsakaMatt says:

    I wish there was a secret to Fantasy League success TTG!

    Up4GrabsNow, we operate on strict super league principles, no relegation ever😉

  17. 17
    bt8 says:

    Apparently Graham Potter says a “heavy cold” was behind Mykhailo Mudryk’s substitution at half-time during Chelsea’s draw with Fulham.

    I certainly hope he has shared that with all his teammates.

  18. 18
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Matt@15: Thank you. But well-intentioned misunderstandings require no apologies among friends, especially when the result is such unquestionable brilliance. 🙂

    21CG@14: I hope you are right.

    Come on Arsenal!

  19. 19
    North Bank Ned says:

    Entertaining preview, OM. You certainly produced a mighty wind.

    It will be tough game. Dyche will have them well organised in two banks of four, working their socks off and kicking anything not wearing a blue shirt. Apparently he has already shaken things up by making them wear socks and shinpads in training.

    He’ll be playing for a point and a clean sheet. But once we get ahead, it should be too much for them. They don’t have enough firepower for a Plan B. The atmosphere will likely be intense for the first 15 mins. An early goal would quieten things down.

  20. 20
    Esso says:

    Cheers Matt!

    Echoing scuz @ 7 – your point on Shelvey is extremely pertinent. In days to come people should remember the importance of that decision.

  21. 21
    Trev says:

    Lovely stuff, Matt ! Lots of good chuckles – right up my alley 👍🏻

    Worryingly for Everton fans, Seamus Always (akaColeman) has been saying that Dyche has already taught them things they did not know – quite apart from how to run ! That may or may not be a surprise when considering the list of names who have held the Everton managerial post in recent years, but don’t forget that Ancelotti was among them.

    I think we can all guess what to expect this lunchtime, so here’s hoping for a fine victory, a decent referee and not too many impact injuries.

    Come on you Reddsss !

  22. 22
    Ollie says:

    Cheers Matt. Worried about that one for the player’s physical integrity. We’ll need a strong ref. Let’s do it?

  23. 23
    Esso says:

  24. 24
    Esso says:

    Lets get the Partey started!

  25. 25
    OsakaMatt says:

    Cheers Gents!

    Come on Arsenal! Let’s shred ‘em in the first 20 minutes

  26. 26
    OsakaMatt says:

    Well, we haven’t had a fast start.
    Two banks of four as expected and we’ll need to be patient.
    And work to get Gabi one on one with Coleman

  27. 27
    OsakaMatt says:

    Two big chances for them. Lot of missed passes for us.

  28. 28
    scruzgooner says:

    white needs to be supporting saka sooner.

  29. 29
    OsakaMatt says:

    0-0 half time could have been worse, but we had a couple of chances too.

  30. 30
    scruzgooner says:

    definite banana-skin territory.

  31. 31
    OsakaMatt says:

    Come On You Gunners!

  32. 32
    Ollie says:

    I miss Frank Lampard. 🙁

  33. 33
    OsakaMatt says:

    Yeah, I blame Lampard too.
    Bad day at the office for us. Have to pick ourselves up for Shitteh now.
    No chance of the spuds helping out I suppose

  34. 34
    Esso says:

    Well that was a bag of shite all round

  35. 35
    scruzgooner says:

    ugly loss. instructive, i hope. but what a bunch of knobs on their team, led by the ginger knob. i hope this is their season’s highlight and they go down hard.

  36. 36
    North Bank Ned says:

    Esso@34: You nailed it.

  37. 37
    Sancho Panza says:

    Hopefully this loss works in our favour in the long term.

  38. 38
    bt8 says:

    The better team won on the day. We have no excuses for not stepping up.

  39. 39
    North Bank Ned says:

    The glass-half-full view would be that we always said that there would be bumps in the road along the way. This was a painful one. After back-to-back defeats it is really important to beat Brentford next Saturday.

  40. 40
    bathgooner says:

    And so it came to pass… we lost to an organised, new manager-inspired, previously underperforming bunch of Northern bastards in their lair where we have lost a series of games recently. Oh well -shit happens – onward.

    *Watches the tumbleweed roll down dusty wind-swept Main Street from the empty ‘Holic bar.*

    Have all the other Holics cut their wrists? Bit extreme really. Lines a row of a dozen shots up on the bar. Here’s to the Arsenal! I wonder if I’ll have to drink them all myself?

    (I hate shots)

  41. 41
    Countryman100 says:

    I’m not inclined to get into deep comments on the game itself. It was just a bad day at the office, similar to Leeds away, but we got away with that one. As others have said, what matters now is how we bounce back in the next few games starting with Brentford next week.

  42. 42
    North Bank Ned says:

    bath@40: to quote Schiller, Great souls suffer in silence.

  43. 43
    bathgooner says:

    Ned @42, good quote, sir.

    Good thoughts also from Le Grove:


    Let’s see how we respond.

  44. 44
    Las says:

    Bath @40, its just takes time digesting the loss. We hadn’t turn up really and Everton surprised everyone even themselves with the spirit they had. It was a bad day, a very bad day indeed. COYG

  45. 45
    OsakaMatt says:

    C100, Bath, Ned,
    My own thought exactly on a bad day at the office, at least it wasn’t 5-1 at Stoke😉
    Though could it be I was wrong @33 about the spuds helping out…..

  46. 46
    North Bank Ned says:

    Most unlikely benefactors, OM, but still gratefully received.

  47. 47
    Ollie says:

    Missed opportunity? Or just lesser of two weevils?

  48. 48
    North Bank Ned says:

    Dyche v Kane is a toss-up in the weevils stakes.

  49. 49
    OsakaMatt says:

    Better for Kane to break the record against them than us!
    On to the Brentford game for us with a 5 point lead and a game in hand……..
    I do believe I might have taken that the start of the season 😉
    On the other hand Brentford are playing well so it’s not a gimme

  50. 50
    ecg says:

    Just the fact that I feel like the neighbors winning was an acceptable result today makes me feel dirty. I’m off to shower in bleach.

  51. 51
    Ollie says:

    Clean half-century, ecg.
    Great assist by Matt.

  52. 52
    Countryman100 says:

    OM @49. There are no gimmes in this league. 18 games to go. Cup final intensity needed in every game.

  53. 53
    Countryman100 says:

    Well in ecg.

  54. 54
    bathgooner says:

    Thank you and congratulations ‘arry. Once a Gooner, always a Gooner, eh?

    We have to do our own job against Citeh who did look below par today. If we can come out of those two games with at least the same points haul as Citeh, then we can begin to believe we can win this title. First though, we have to show that we can shrug off yesterday’s performance and result and get back on track with a win against Brentford.

    There are no gimmes any more, Matt.

  55. 55
    North Bank Ned says:

    Well in for the half-ton, bt8.

    C100@52 is right that there are no gimmies in the Prem. I am grateful we have got the tow games against the red Mancs out of the way as ten Hag seems to be getting them into shape.

  56. 56
    North Bank Ned says:

    My bad. Congrats to ecg not bt8 on the half ton.

  57. 57
    ecg says:

    Didn’t even notice I scored the half. Thanks for the assist OM.

    He scores when he wants, even when he doesn’t realize it. Kind of like a Welbz off the butt.

  58. 58
    bt8 says:

    Sanitized half century ecg. You can now tell us shat you really think of the scum, observing from far above the fray. 😎

  59. 59
    bt8 says:

    shat = what, or maybe shat was more appropriate.

  60. 60
    ecg says:

    bt8 – scum and shat are a perfect match

  61. 61
    bt8 says:

    A perennial two word season review for the noisy neighbors:

  62. 62
    scruzgooner says: