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The Last Dragon (1985); courtesy IMDb

I grew-up on a farm in a small, rural community. We didn’t have a lot of luxury, material goods, but my parents provided for all of our needs. Most of my schoolmates lived “in town” and had access to then-luxury diversions like cable television, but cable access was not available for our farm. Most times, I didn’t know what I was missing, so I didn’t miss it, but I never was up-to-date with cultural references like movies or popular cable shows (to this day, I’m still not much of a cinephile). However, one day, my father surprised the family with a hulking, metallic monstrosity…a first-generation satellite dish (he must have sold, like, five cows to fund that purchase). Back in those days, in addition to satellite packages featuring HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime, the real trick was navigating the satellite in between channel orientations to “pirate” broadcasts from unauthorized channels. I spent numerous late-night hours (after my parents were asleep) fascinated by Bollywood shows, whatever it was on Indonesian broadcasts, and…um, psychedelic-appearing porn. However, one of my fonder childhood memories came from stumbling across the Berry Gordy-produced film, The Last Dragon. It was a pretty crap movie.

Briefly, The Last Dragon tells the story of Leroy, a Black acolyte of Bruce Lee living in (I guess) Harlem, New York, who wants to become a kung fu master. His sensei sends Leroy on a quest (this movie follows the basic Hero’s Journey arc) to find the Master who will complete Leroy’s training. His nemesis is a Black kung fu master, named Sho’nuff, who leads a gang of karate-kicking street toughs terrorizing the earnest Harlem citizens (Evidently, in 1980’s New York City, there was an abundance Black folks breakdancing and mastering karate…I missed that memo). After numerous plot holes, narrative gaffs, and outright stereotypical tomfoolery, Leroy and Sho’nuff face-off. Now, as a kung fu master, Sho’nuff is surrounded by a red aura (the “Glow”) that magnifies the damage of his kicks and punches and makes him all but invincible, and he begins kicking the ever-living snot out of Leroy. At one point in the fight, Sho’nuff kicks Leroy into a vat of water (not acid) and proceeds to waterboard (although no one knew what that term meant back in the ‘80s) Leroy while commanding Leroy to answer, “Who’s the Master?” Leroy never answers, and, on the third dunk, as he is drowning, Leroy’s seminal life moments replay, and, as he realizes that he has already learned everything he needs, when Sho’nuff taunts, “Who is the Master?!?!” Leroy answers, “I am!” Suddenly, Leroy is bathed in a golden glow (settle down, Wolfie!), and he proceeds to pummel Sho’nuff into submission. Leroy gets the girl, becomes a master, and the credits roll. Like I said, it was a pretty crap movie, but it has salutary lessons for Arsenal’s visit to the petroleum-soaked wastelands of Greater Manchester.

Arsenal, who maintain a five-point lead atop the Premier League table, are set to face the-expensively-assembled-€itzens-of-(allegedly)-Off-Balance-Sheet-FC this Wednesday in the appropriately named Emptihad. Derisive comments abound—Arsenal are “bottlers” … are going to “bottle-it” …are naïve and about to crumble…have had an easy road till now. It’s almost as if we haven’t heretofore battled the allegedly, financially-doped cheats to Gameweek 33 while maintaining a respectable points lead. Even in the Gooner zeitgeist, several more vocal numpties have composed funerary dirges and begun to rend their garments after our third consecutive draw on Friday. Need I remind our faithful (and faithless) that the mighty Arsenal have not tasted defeat in ten games?

The Opposition

Arsenal face numerous challenges. The Ornacle has confirmed that William Saliba will miss Wednesday’s match and is in jeopardy of missing the remainder of the run-in. Not enough impartial analysts have fairly evaluated and presented the deleterious impact Saliba’s absence has had on Arsenal’s ability to press higher up the pitch, make more progressive passes, and confidently defend. In the most recent Handbrake Off podcast, Stoney listed these statistics: 27 games with Saliba – 0.9 Goals Against, win percentage – 78%; 5 games without Saliba – 1.8 Goals Against, win percentage – 40% while conceding 2x big chances. Statistics do, sometimes tell the story. But, wait, there’s more. Smith-Rowe doesn’t seem to fit Arteta’s plans and can’t seem to get a sniff. Vieira, gawd bless ‘em, just doesn’t seem to be fit for purpose, and, after Friday’s adventures, who the hell knows where Ramsdale’s head is. Finally, the-expensively-assembled-€itzens-of-(allegedly)-Off-Balance-Sheet-FC appear to be in very fine fettle. Their blond, Viking T-1000 Terminator is scoring goals for fun, and Pep has adopted Arteta’s tactics deputizing John Stones in midfield. Much like Leroy, Arsenal is facing its own Sho’nuff while also searching for its mojo…its groove…its glow. The squad is in the midst of its own hero’s journey, and the table is set.

If reports are to be believed, Nathan Ake looks set to miss tomorrow’s clash. I wouldn’t get my hopes up. Other than that bit of news, if you are looking for a more detailed intelligence assessment of the-expensively-assembled-€itzens-of-(allegedly)-Off-Balance-Sheet-FC, well, they are a dangerous, marauding band of See You Next Tuesdays, and I hope they and their plastic, Yank fans all get the comeuppance they so richly deserve…starting tomorrow.

Arsenal XI

Although I have reviewed several Arsenal media outlets suggesting formation and personnel changes (primarily dropping Holding), given the magnitude of the contest, I just don’t see Arteta making wholesale changes to the team. Remember the harsh lessons learned by erstwhile sp*rs manager Cristian Stellini who, in advance of a pivotal fixture against the Geordies, decided THAT was the time to change from a back five to a back four and start Sarr.* Five goals and twenty minutes later, Stellini reverted to the back five. Let’s not do that. Instead, let’s lean into our strengths. The Arsenal have five attacking players who can strike fear into any opposition: Saka, Martinelli, Jesus, Ødegaard, and Trossard. Let’s find a way to get them all on the pitch. Although I think Xhaka comes right back into the squad to yield the following team selection:


White — Holding — Gabriel — Zinchenko

Ødegaard — Thomas — Xhaka

Saka — Jesus — Martinelli

I wouldn’t be averse to starting Trossard instead of Xhaka to yield this Starting XI (with Xhaka being the first substitution):


White — Holding — Gabriel — Zinchenko

Ødegaard— Thomas — Trossard

Saka — Jesus —Martinelli

I think how we finish the game will be just as important as how we start. Something tells me Smith-Rowe will get the chance to step up for the Arsenal.

The ‘Holic Pound

For me, any result will do, but I am staking my colors on a statement victory 1-3 to the good guys.

History recounts that, as the Macedonian army was drawing-up for battle in advance of the climactic encounter against Darius III at the Battle of Gaugamela, Alexander was absent. Hephaestion, the head of Alexander’s Foot Companions (or Hypaspists) stormed into the commander’s tent and berated Alexander for oversleeping. Alexander coolly rebuked Hephaestion saying words to the effect of, “How can I be late to a battle I have already won?”

Now I know the Battle of the Emptihad has yet to be fought, but I feel as calm as Alexander. The moment is here. The site for battle has been prepared. I trust Arteta to help this young team realize they have learned everything they need to know. I trust Saka and Martinelli to do their jobs and terrorize the opposition flanks. I trust Jesus (forever and ever, mind you), Ødegaard, Zinchenko, and Trossard to provide the incisive passes characteristic of our success so far this season as well as to choke off service to the Viking Berserker. Finally, I trust Partey and our backline to do their jobs and keep us in the game. This team is ready to command the space it occupies. Like Leroy, this young, talented team is ready to become a Master.

* I have it on good authority they actually do get battered…everywhere they go.

63 Drinks to “It’s Time for the Arsenal to Find its Glow”

  1. 1
    North Bank Ned says:

    A preview for the ages, Lonestar. After that, I can only hope we light up the Emptihad with our invincible glow.

  2. 2
    Potsticker says:

    Lonestar, you bring back fond/forgotten memories of Bruce Leeroy!

  3. 3
    Goonersince54 says:

    Top pre match blog Lonestar.
    Unfortunate start to an important week, with our Young ones being beaten 5 – 1 by a very good West Ham team at the Ems this evening in Youth Cup Final.
    One Domino down, 2 more to fall.

  4. 4
    bt8 says:

    Cheers Lonestar and muchas gracias for your highly readable preview. I sure do hope our young charges will have read your first two paragraphs at the very least so Saka and company will have the right stuff to vanquish the karate-kicking street toughs of the-expensively-assembled-€itzens-of-(allegedly)-Off-Balance-Sheet-FC. That would certainly make my reporting on the game a mite more enjoyable. COYRRHSNBG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. 5
    Doctor Faustus says:

    A preview to drive all the gloomy forebodings away. Memorably enjoyable and full of cheerful optimism.

    I think Mikel may tweak his personnel and formation around a bit for this match. If Xhaka still hasn’t recovered from his illness I think a 3-5-2 like this can be effective:
    White – Gabriel – Tierney
    Saka- Ødegaard – Partey – Zinchenko – Martinelli
    Trossard – Jesus

    What we will miss out on White’s overlapping runs we will gain in defensive solidity and midfield control. Trossard and Jesus are both very good in dropping deep and connecting with the midfield, which can help dragging their central defense away for Saka and Martinelli to cut inside more purposefully.

    Sorry, couldn’t help but give in to the temptations of armchair expertise. 🙂

    Whatever happens, I am looking forward to the match. I share Lonestar’s optimism that the team will play to their full potential— individually and collectively.

    Come on Arsenal!

  6. 6
    OsakaMatt says:

    Cracker of a preview, thanks LG!
    I recently met a nice young lad in Japan who told me he supported Shitteh. Of course he had no idea who they were and what they represent, he just thought De Bruyne was a great player. The youth of Japan must be protected from the insidious lure of the dark side. It would be deeply saddening to see swathes of young people growing up to support a team run by a bunch of corrupt fucks.

    I am of LG’s opinion – 3-1 to the good guys! I don’t mind who MA picks really as it’s going to come down to heart I think. Though I did like Dr F’s 3-5-2……

  7. 7
    ClockEndRider says:

    Excellent preview, LG, full of upbeat vibes. Just what we need.
    Whatever happens tonight, this has been a fantastically enjoyable season both on and off the pitch, with a couple of excellent preview match meets for some of us and much joy at the games as the atmosphere has taken off.

  8. 8
    bathgooner says:

    A tremendous, rousing preview, LG. The Last Dragon makes an excellent analogy. I am with you on the team selection and the merits of making minimal disruption to the familiar defensive structure, though I would certainly start Xhaka if he is fit. I do like Dr F’s suggested 3-5-2 to maximise our offensive strength but this is not the opponent upon whom to test it. OM nails it for me – I too am happy with whoever MA picks and it is indeed going to come down to heart.

    If, at the start of this season, we were offered an opportunity of being 5 points clear with 6 games to go and this game against Citeh to wrest control of the destiny of the title back into our own hands, we would have gladly accepted it, and probably embraced the offerer. Arteta and these players have taken us to this position. They all know what’s at stake. Every man will give his all. Win, lose or draw, I am proud of every one of them.

    Go win, Arsenal.

  9. 9
    bathgooner says:

    With apologies to W. Shakespeare,

    By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
    Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
    It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
    Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
    But if it be a sin to covet honour,
    I am the most offending soul alive.
    No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
    God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
    As one man more, methinks, would share from me
    For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
    Rather proclaim it, the Arsenal, through my host,
    That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
    Let him depart; his passport shall be made
    And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
    We would not die in that man’s company
    That fears his fellowship to die with us.
    This day is called the feast of Cletus:
    He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
    Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
    And rouse him at the name of Cletus.
    He that shall live this day, and see old age,
    Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
    And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Cletus:’
    Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
    And say ‘These wounds I had on Cletus’s day.’
    Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
    But he’ll remember with advantages
    What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
    Familiar in his mouth as household words
    Mikel the coach, Saka and Ødegaard,
    Jesús and Xhaka, Martinelli and Trossard,
    Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.
    This story shall the good man teach his son;
    And Cletus, Cletus shall ne’er go by,
    From this day to the ending of the world,
    But we in it shall be remember’d;
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition:
    And gentlemen in England now a-bed
    Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Cletus’s day.

  10. 10
    Trev says:

    Thank you for nothing, Lonestar ! I’ve been surprisingly sanguine about this game – feeling that an away win against the fraudulent (allegedly) oily bastards from the middle Eastlands was unlikely, but comforted anyway as we have had a season beyond everyone’s wildest dreams that met yet even be surpassed in future by further clever strengthening of our squad. And now you’ve got me actually believing again, with all the attendant jitters that accompany such madness !
    Great preview, anyway !

    I would, however, simplify the example of your literary second guessing / double talk, with the plain straightforward command of Hannibal, just before his men got on their elephants – “Ok, men – get on your elephants !”

    A 3-1 win forecast is absolute lunacy – I LOVE if !

  11. 11
    Trev says:

    if ? ffs – it !

  12. 12
    Trev says:

    Bath @9, almost a preview in itself !
    Very clever substitution and in almost perfect iambic pentameter. Bravo, Sir, – for I could not attempt to do such things !

  13. 13
    bt8 says:

    RIP Harry Belafonte.

  14. 14
    BtM says:

    Outstanding preview, LG. Dr F beat me to the team I think we’ll see start tonight.

  15. 15
    North Bank Ned says:

    I have gone in the opposite direction to Trev, from irrational quiet confidence to jangling dread. But, to take a sideways literary leap from Bath’s inspiring soliloquy, this team will join the heaven of the fixed stars if we win today.

  16. 16
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    That’s how you write a preview Lonestar! I want whatever you’re drinking!
    Sign me up for the win. I’m on board. Let this be the game when our young guns break the curse Shitteh have over us and roar to a resounding victory that shows tonight’s opposition, and the world, that we will not go gently into that good night but will rage and roil and emerge victorious.

    This is our time!

    Oilers, beware the oncoming storm!

    Victoria Concordia Crescit!

  17. 17
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Huge thanks to Scruz for the report of the last game. The standard of writing in this bar far outstrips most of the offerings from professionals, and the drinks are still the very pinnacle of Arsenal comments sections the length and breadth of the interweb.

  18. 18
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    I’m in India, which means I have to wait until half past midnight for kickoff, giving me a full day to stew in the buildup to this one. Although, after reading Lonestar’s magnificent call to arms, I’m about as up for this as it is possible to be in a town where the Dalai Lama resides and the hoards of Israeli tourists are doing an admirable job in downplaying how important tonight’s game is to them.

    It’s almost like no one else here knows how big this match is. Frankly, it’s like they aren’t even aware it’s being played. Weird.

  19. 19
    TTG says:

    I was whisked into hospital last night whence I shall try to see the match. Frankly if you want to forget about football ask your prostate / Kidneys and bladder to help you .
    I’m a fair pragmatist and believe our performance is magnificent.
    Who knows the Gods of VAR May smilie on us but whatever we’ve done so well this season that it is already a Bob well done before kick off. Miracles happen and we deserve one .Enjoy Goonerholics !

  20. 20
    Trev says:

    Sorry to hear that TTG – very best wishes !

  21. 21
    Lonestar Gooner says:

    TTG – best wishes for a speedy and full recovery, mate.

    Things just got so hectic recently (professional considerations), so I apologize for my absence and this quick note.

    Thank you, all, for your compliments and creativity. What a bar this is! I know Dave is beaming right now.

    From appreciating my juvenile recollections to calling on the Bard of Avon himself, you patrons inspire me. No matter today’s or this season’s outcome, this team and these connections mean the world to this lowly bond lawyer.

    A bottle of Buffalo Trace on the bar for those partaking.

    Bless you all.

    Now, let’s get at these cheating manc bastids!!! Up the Arsenal!


  22. 22
    Bathgooner says:

    Get well soon, TTG!

  23. 23
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    All my love, TTG.

  24. 24
    bt8 says:

    Get well soon TTG and stuff the Manc bastids. Not sure how but Lonestar you keep on coming up with very appropriate descriptors for today’s opponents. The report may be a bit late and impressionistic because I will be viewing the match in a bar, the same one where we stuffed the Chavs in the Cup Final. Greetings GSD, it’s best not to scare the Dalai Lama with your dino suit. 😎

  25. 25
    Bathgooner says:

    I commend today’s contribution from Keenos on https://shewore.com, observing that it is economic strength rather than mental strength that may be the decisive factor in this title race.


  26. 26
    North Bank Ned says:

    I hope all is as well as it can be in the circumstances, TTG. Get well soon.

  27. 27
    ATG says:


  28. 28
    North Bank Ned says:

    It is as we were:

    White, Holding, Gabriel, Zinchenko
    Thomas, Xhaka, Odegaard (c)
    Saka, Jesus, Martinelli

    Turner, Kiwior, Tierney, Jorginho, Vieira, Smith Rowe, Nelson, Trossard, Nketiah

  29. 29
    North Bank Ned says:

    Beaten to the punch, yet again, but not by Esss for once.

  30. 30
    North Bank Ned says:

    Esss = Esso

  31. 31
    ClockEndRider says:

    All the best for a swift recovery, TTG.
    Win, lose or draw, this has been an incredible season and the owners, management, manager, staff players ant least the fans deserve a huge clap for the massive improvements. Thus far remains The Place for sensible, constructive discussion. Nice work, All.

  32. 32
    Bathgooner says:


    Make us proud!

  33. 33
    ClockEndRider says:

    Blimey,a referee that does his job

  34. 34
    ClockEndRider says:

    What a goal.

  35. 35
    ClockEndRider says:

    Keeper ought to save it….

  36. 36
    ClockEndRider says:

    De Bruyne trying to make out he’s been fouled six times. Truly laughable from the albino.

  37. 37
    Gooner_KS says:

    I love Rob to death but he’s not top material, as was already said. Might cost us tonight

  38. 38
    ClockEndRider says:

    Haaland being pathetic now.

  39. 39
    Gooner_KS says:

    A couple of times now Haaland is playing KDB in goalscoring opp, we should pick this up

  40. 40
    ClockEndRider says:

    Spot on KS. Easier said than done though….

  41. 41
    Gooner_KS says:

    Thomas should hit the target at least

  42. 42
    ClockEndRider says:

    Poor from Holding. Surely he can play that back to the keeper?

  43. 43
    ClockEndRider says:

    Excellent defending.

  44. 44
    ClockEndRider says:

    Oops game over.

  45. 45
    Trev says:

    Hate these entitled Mancs. They’ve (allegedly illegally) bought the lot, ruined the league and don’t they effing moan.

  46. 46
    Gooner_KS says:

    Not much we can do now, I’d put Trossard now, maybe throw in another change, we have to go for it, though very difficult to pull a Wolfsburg like the ladies

  47. 47
    Sancho Panza says:

    Totally agree. Need to try something different. No point plodding through and losing 4 nil.
    God I hate City and everything about them.

  48. 48
    Gooner_KS says:

    Shitty is good but this feels more like a mental thing

  49. 49
    Sancho Panza says:

    Or not.

  50. 50
    Gooner_KS says:

    Haaland can score some ubelievable goals but he’s nowhere near Messi or CR7. That’s just me nitpicking 😀. Not bad at assists though

  51. 51
    Gooner_KS says:

    Tactically Pep got one over Mikel. In hindsight, easy to say now, we could have played for a draw from the first minute, drop very deep, hope for a counter, frustrate them, but guess that’s not our style/don’t have the right players for that.

  52. 52
    Sancho Panza says:

    I don’t think it’s tactics more we only have one way of playing and they have better players pretty much all over the park.
    Injuries combined with a loss of form at the end of the season. Partey doesn’t look fit either.

  53. 53
    Sancho Panza says:

    3-3 is on

  54. 54
    OsakaMatt says:

    Well, fuck Shitteh.

    Just seen you’re in the hospital TTG, sorry to hear that and get well soon sir.

  55. 55
    North Bank Ned says:

    That was a sobering reality check. Far from our best, but City had a big hand in that, and the Master, not the Pupil won the tactical battle. All we can do now is fight to the final whistle of the final game and end the season with heads deservedly held high.

  56. 56
    North Bank Ned says:

    When you think about it (and it is probably best not to dwell on it), Pep sold Jesus and bought Haaland. Jesus is a massive upgrade for us but Haarland is an upgrade for them. That is what having nearly endless money does for you. We have spent, but Arteta has worked miracles with a far more modest budget.

  57. 57
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    We lost to the best side in the league, and boy did they play like it tonight. Regardless of how they’ve done it, they have assembled possibly the best team, and certainly the best squad, I have ever seen. They were, unfortunately, at their brilliant, ruthless best tonight.

    We’ve had a wonderful season so far, and it is incredible that we are still ahead of them, even if that looks like changing soon, but a season is 38 games long, and we are the second best side in this league, which, barring a miracle, is what the table will probably show at the end of May.

    Next year we will be better though…


  58. 58
    Bathgooner says:

    It’s not a mental thing and it’s not a tactical thing, the gap between these teams and the reason for tonight’s result is purely economics as She Wore observed this morning:

  59. 59
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Baff knows

  60. 60
    bt8 says:

    Bath, Please post that bar graph again in the next drinks and elsewhere.

  61. 61
    bt8 says:

    I caught myself playing FFL with my heart and not my head. Other than Pangloss, DepressedGooner and ATG I think I was the only player to captain an Arsenal player this week. Most were more wily and cashed in on Haaland’s double points.

  62. 62
    bt8 says:

    CER, I didn’t think Ramsfale had a chance on DeBruyne’s opener, it was just too good.

  63. 63
    scruzgooner says:

    lonestar, it could have been. but alas. great preview, love your spirit and your humor.

    ttg, get well soon. be well, entirely.

    on to the next.