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Just win, baby.

I was having a discussion the other day with Arsenal-loving friends when the spectre of gridiron football arose. It led to a remembrance of great quarterbacks and their receiver pairings (Montana to Rice, Bradshaw to Swann), and that led me to the team I most enjoyed behind my hometown Rams, when I could still stand gridiron football: the Oakland Raiders of the 1970s. The Raiders were very successful, winning a Super Bowl and getting to the semi-finals a number of times, all behind the strong arm of Kenny “Snake” Stabler. But while Montana and Bradshaw had their favorite targets, Snake had three future Hall-of-Fame receivers to throw to: Fred Belitnikoff, Dave Casper, and Cliff Branch. This is an Arsenal blog, right? We’ll get there. Thinking of them brought me to their owner, a combination of something needing more than a moist towelette to wipe off and a strong will to win, one Allen Davis. Davis instilled in his team grit, heart, and the idea of never backing down (including by pushing the rules as far as they could be pushed), encapsulated in his mantra “Just win, baby.”

Brighton visits Arsenal for a late afternoon kickoff this coming Sunday, bringing their hopes of European football. We last saw Brighton at theirs on the ultimate day of 2022, where they were very good. I re-watched the highlights the other night, and it was weird seeing Trossard against us; he has slotted in so well it’d make you feel like he was always Arsenal. Though the match ended Arsenal 4-2 Brighton, they really should have had a 3rd goal through Mitoma with a minute plus stoppage left in the game. He was deemed offside, disappointing the Seagulls crowd and players alike who’d hoped for a twist in the tail.

The Seagulls

Since December’s game Brighton has maintained a solid season’s charge towards the upper third of the table, joining us Sunday in 8th place, two points and THREE big games in hand on Spurs (ha!) in 6th. If they get 12 points from their last 15 (our win excluded from that total) they could, with the right results, end up in third place, though likely the best they’ll do is 5th, earning them Europa League football. Needless to say, they’ll be arriving to ours Sunday looking to start a streak of winning out, after their 5-1 destruction by Everton last Monday.

And it has been that kind of run-in for them. They’ve been very up and down the last two months, beating teams you’d expect them to beat, like Chelsea and Wolves, or teams you might not (United)…but losing to teams you’d expect them to slaughter, like Everton, Forest, and Spurs (ha!). So it is a bit of a question as to which Brighton team will show up. I am thinking they will come in hard and fast, angry and still feeling the bruises, inside and out, from Everton’s thrashing.

Fortunately for Arsenal the Seagulls will be missing some of their stars who have gotten them this far. While one of the goal scorers in the reverse fixture, the tyro Ferguson, is expected to start after regaining some fitness on Monday, it looks like they will be without March, Webster, Veltman, Lallana, and Lamptey. Let’s just say their manager, Roberto di Zerbi, will have a selection headache in defense, and to a degree in midfield, as he shuffles players around to fill in for the absences.

With Ferguson, Mitoma (who scored their second in December, and is someone Arsenal might want to be looking at for the squad, he’s really good), and Welbeck they have plenty of firepower ahead of Caicedo and MacAllister, though it’s possible Caicedo will have to be pushed into one of the back four positions. So I really have no clue how they will line up, but Ben White will have to be on his twinkle toes to blunt Mitoma’s influence.

The Arsenal

We were greeted this midweek with the news that both Saliba and Zinchenko might not feature again this season, though after the performances by Kiwior and Tierney up in the Northeast we can be glad of the depth of our squad (something not many of us have been saying all year, eh?). No one else is coming off the defeat of the Magpies with a knock, so excepting those two, and long-term sufferers Mo’Neny and Tomi, Mikel Arteta will have a full squad from which to choose.

I’m hard pressed to see us start with anything but this lineup on the field:


White — Kiwior — Gabriel — Tierney

Partey — Mø — Xhaka

Saka — Jesús — Martinelli

The defense pretty much picks itself. I think Partey starts for the excellent Jorghino, who can come in early if Partey is struggling, but otherwise gets some rest after two strong games against Chelsea and Newcastle. If not Martinelli Trossard can play in front of Xhaka, and if push came to shove Mikel could start Nelson for Saka, saving the latter’s legs for a late appearance, if necessary.

Our performance against the Barcodes was outstanding, though our defense took chances less profligate teams might make us pay for. Ramsdale’s heroics were absolutely needed, and I hope they won’t be needed again on Sunday. Tierney at the back should give us more solidity across the line, as he won’t be going walkabout much in midfield. Of course, that will leave us a bit lighter than usual in midfield; hopefully we will be able to manage that battle with graft and energy.

There are three games left in Arsenal’s season. We have achived so much more than we could have hoped for at the start of the year: assured of Champions League football, we are in second place in the table, a point behind the-expensively-assembled-€itzens-of-(allegedly)-Off-Balance-Sheet-FC (™Lonestar Gooner), the latter with their game in hand. We have no room left for error, complacency, or sloppiness. If we are to win the league we must hope for the Oil-slickers to drop points, and we must win out. So, just win, baby.

54 Drinks to “Just win, baby.”

  1. 1
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks scruz, I remember the Raiders from Channel 4 American Football in the late 70s, early 80s, I think it was the first channel to show American football on UK tv.

    I thought our win at Brighton just after the restart was one of our best performances this season, we just shredded them early as i recall. Same again this time would be fine with me but with a clean sheet this time. I think your team is almost the one I’d pick – I’d start Jorginho as he earned it last week.

  2. 2
    Countryman100 says:

    Cheers Scruz. Lovely preview mate. I’m still buzzing from last Sunday. I’m also celebrating Southampton’s relegation today (in front of the Southampton supporting Prime Minister). I hate Southampton. Absolutely pony away day. We usually drop points, it nearly always rains, the city is a nightmare to get out of by car and it’s a shithole with its VIP entrance opposite a derelict cement works. My only regret is that there’s a cracking little curry house in Winchester we’ve been to a couple of times . But on balance, Southampton can fuck off. Them and City are the only teams we haven’t beaten this season.

    So onto Brighton!

  3. 3
    TTG says:

    Super preview Scruz . We will either be on fire for this game if Everton have disturbed Citeh ( could happen ) or it may be very anti-climactic if they haven’t. I’ve not passed my fitness test so will report from in front of the TV
    I suspect Jorginho may start ahead of Partey but otherwise your team looks accurate . Zinny trained today but I’m starting to favour KT3 against teams with firepower out wide and that describes Brighton .
    Brighton have had an extraordinary season and are an extraordinary club with some hugely talented players . I wouldn’t be upset if we saw Caicedo, Mitoma or McAllister at our place next season . Their scouting operation is phenomenal. They could well upset us but the Everton game suggested they may have lost their edge .
    So we may need a win that helps us to the title or the result may be largely irrelevant- that’s modern football. I think we will secure a 2-1 win in an attacking and attractive game

  4. 4
    bt8 says:

    “No room left for error, complacency, or sloppiness.”

    Don’t wanna see none of those.

    What Al Davis said, and I don’t often say that.

  5. 5
    bt8 says:

    Thanks Scruz for your excellent preview.

  6. 6
    bathgooner says:

    Great preview, scruz. A fine reference. Al Davis’ pre-match message is bang on the money. As is bt8’s @4.

    I’m firmly in the Jorginho for Partey camp as the enhanced midfield security that the Itazilian brings is important to achieving our objective: just win the next game, baby.

  7. 7
    Trev says:

    Well done, scruz.

    I can’t decide between Partey, who can play a more creative role now the back four has it’s pace restored via Kiwior, and Jorginho for the security as he was excellent against the Chavs and Newcastle. Zinchenko has been great this season, when fit, but our defence has looked too open on our left side of late and I won’t be at all sorry to see Tierney back in a more conventional full back role.

    TTG, I don’t see this game as irrelevant even if $ity win against Everton. They still have another game against Real Madrid coming up and until it’s mathematically impossible I’m not giving up hope.

    Come on you Reddsss !

  8. 8
    North Bank Ned says:

    An exhortatve preview, Scruz. Let’s just win it.

    Al Davis was one of a kind.

  9. 9
    OsakaMatt says:

    The poor little spuddoes seem sad that Poch is going to the Chavs. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to laugh.

  10. 10
    Ollie says:

    Cheerz scruz. On my way to my last match of the season, and God knows what next season’s attendance will be with the new ballot absurdity.
    Let’s just win. No ‘holicpound but I’ll go for 3-1.

  11. 11
    BtM says:

    Super preview. I like that team but hope to see Trossard around 60 minutes. I’m going to the game courtesy of a ‘late winner’ as my home town Gooner network has managed to produce a ticket from the thin air around here. Probably my final game of the season. Will next season be any better for getting tickets? It can’t be worse than the latter part of this as far as I’m concerned.

  12. 12
    Ollie says:

    No Eurostar today. Impromptu strike. Fucking cunts. I’ll try to see if ever one sneaks through but unlikely. Hotel money lost and weekend ruined. Thanks a bunch.

  13. 13
    Ollie says:

    Well that was the official annoucement but using my knowledge of Eurostar communication, a few tricks and a small miracle, I am now checked in to the train an hour later so still plenty of margin. When there’s a will… (and a little more).
    It’s back on!

  14. 14
    Countryman100 says:

    Well done Ollie! Truly a super fan!

  15. 15

    Nice preview, Scruz. Any kind of victory will do me in what ought to be our last genuinely tough game of the season. Sorry to hear of your difficulties in getting here, Ollie. True commitment.
    Looking forward to a stroll with 21CG from Arsenal station and a pre match beer at Block 10 if anyone is around. Although I’m a bit baffled that there is a curious golden orb in the sky above north London today. I’ve heard tell from those older and wiser that this could mean a change in the usual miserable London weather. Sounds a bit fantastical to me.

  16. 16
    Noosa Gooner says:

    Well in Scruz
    Brighton is a good day out but seagulls are annoying – they steal your chips and shit on everything, even here in Oz. Let’s shoo them away. 2-0 will do.

  17. 17
    Sancho Panza says:

    Glad you’re now booked on a train. I hope the comment was aimed at the company rather than the strikers. It’s a right after all and to remove it would see even more disparity between the rich few and the poorer majority.

  18. 18
    Uplympian says:

    Thanks Scruz for a first rate report let’s hope the lads in red & white can match it this afternoon. We’ve found Brighton a tricky opponent when visiting TNHOF of late – time to remind them of who we are. 2-0 to the good guys will do very nicely.

  19. 19
    Trev says:

    Well done, Ollie ! About time you made a bit of an effort 😏

  20. 20
    bt8 says:

    Golden orb in the sky, CER? No doubt, it must augur badly (i.e., even worse) for Spurs. The orb probably doesn’t even reach that end of the Seven Sisters Road anyway.

  21. 21
    bt8 says:

    Chuba Akpom featuring in the Championship playoff final for Middlesbrough at Wembley v. Coventry as the game is still nil-nil approaching half time. I always thought chuba was pre-destined for success because of his great name. Come on Chuba, don’t hold back when you get a chance to choot!

  22. 22
    bt8 says:

    Apologies, that should have been the semifinal leg not the final and also not Wembley but the BBC Sport at the CBS Arena, whatever that is. Probably the corporate moniker for Coventry’s home stadium. I’m just reading reports not watching the game, but also spotted Brooke Norton Cuffy is involved for Coventry I think. Whoever wins has to be preferable to Luton if the latter make it to the final rather than whoever they are playing (Sunderland?)

  23. 23
    bt8 says:

    Please delete from your minds the “ the BBC Sport at the “ – an unwanted addition above made by predictive text (or something)

  24. 24
    bt8 says:

    Turns out it was overly zealous copying and pasting on my part of the stadium’s name, nothing to do with predictive or even predictable text. Probably didn’t give the corporate sponsor full value for their investment there either (sobs).

  25. 25
    ClockEndRider says:

    Benighted Spurs indeed, bt8!

  26. 26
    bt8 says:

    Well done, Ollie. May the rest of your train journey be in first class comfort as it were, and your return journey be filled with reverlry and reveries on a fine Arsenal win.

  27. 27
    bt8 says:

    Like the Coneheads Ollie comes from France and that explains nearly everything https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=TD891G2byts

  28. 28
    bt8 says:

    BBC on the spot match reporter on what’s really important about the semifinal: “what a joy it is to be sat here in 2023 listening to the Coventry City fans relieve the occasional moments of boredom by belting out the Sounds of the Sixties.

    We might not have had any goals, but we have had Twist And Shout by The Beatles, Do Wah Diddy by Manfred Mann and (I’m Into) Something Good by Herman’s Hermits.


  29. 29
    bt8 says:

    80th minute yellow card to Chuba apparently for overly aggressive pressing. Still 0-0

  30. 30
    Ollie says:

    Yes and no, SP. It’s the impromptu aspect that I am very critical of, there. No time for contingency plans etc.
    As I have currently no idea what triggered the strike, I reserve judgement in this case, while totally agreeing with you about it being an essential right.

  31. 31
    Ollie says:

    Cheers bt8 and all. Now in sunny Finsbury Park, soon in a pub.
    I’ll check your video link later but I suspect the reaction will be ‘heh’.

  32. 32
    North Bank Ned says:

    Herculean effort, Ollie, and due its deserved reward, which would be seeing us collect three points in style.

    Poch will get the Bus Stop sorted out, although I thought, too, that Conte would get the orbless end of the Seven Sisters Road sorted out. We can only hope that lightning strikes twice.

    bt8@28: That may pass for contemporary music in Coventry.

  33. 33
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Excellent preview Scruz! So good that even the American football reference can be excused. 🙂

    I think Jorginho will start again. In the last few matches we made a few small tweaks that are more suitable for him, especially given Partey lately was struggling a bit. Our away win at Brighton was one of our more impressive performances this season and we will need to play to that level at home as well.

    Saka has been a little quieter lately compared to his excellent contributions for much of the season, and I feel this could be a match where he will dominate again.

    Come on Arsenal!

  34. 34
    bt8 says:

    Re: Ned @32. Covent Garden it’s not, I suppose 😂

  35. 35
    bt8 says:

    I sure do hope you are right about Saka, Dr. F. After the very high level of his first 30-odd games hos last few haven’t quite reached those heights which is to suggest he has been knackered, slightly injured, and/or overplayed throughout most of the season. Had Arteta played Nelson in Saka’s place in three or four strategically chosen games this season I wonder how much more Saka might have had in the tank to give this last month.

  36. 36
    bt8 says:

    On 24 minutes SkySports reports that “Guardiola doesn’t look amused.”

    Only 76 more to go.

  37. 37
    bt8 says:

    Assuming the refs award Citeh 10 minutes of added time for the sole reason that thet haven’t won it yet.

  38. 38
    bt8 says:

    I shouldn’t have said anything. Citeh Oilers now romping 2-0

  39. 39
    bt8 says:

    Is DCL’s manbun up to Feo’s quality?

  40. 40
    OsakaMatt says:

    Got Everton at the wrong time, as a look at the running around today and the blue-arsed fly effort against us will show. However, much as I’d like to blame the toffees I can’t.
    Giant step this season.

  41. 41
    OsakaMatt says:

    Feo of course has way more PL goals than Calvert-Lewin, the useless sick note wannabe

  42. 42
    OsakaMatt says:

    Ben, Kiwior, Gabi, KT
    Jorginho, Xhaka
    Saka, Jesus, Martinelli

  43. 43
    North Bank Ned says:

    Defence will have to be up to snuff today. Brighton’s front six aren’t so shabby.

    bt8@34: 🙂

  44. 44
    North Bank Ned says:

    Just checked the prices for tickets to the Man U game on our summer tour to the US. The cheapest seat is $171 plus sales tax and booking fee; the most expensive is more than $500. I know Emirates seats are not exactly giveaways, but for a summer tour game, those prices are far from far-flung-friendly.

  45. 45
    OsakaMatt says:

    Good to see you got there Ollie!
    Caicedo with a little payback on Gabi as missed by the ref

  46. 46
    OsakaMatt says:

    Tight first 15.

  47. 47
    OsakaMatt says:

    Gabi off Leo on.
    Didn’t look that bad to be honest and I hope Gabi is ok

  48. 48
    OsakaMatt says:

    Ref clearly taken a bung to give Brighton that free kick but fortunately it comes to nothing

  49. 49
    OsakaMatt says:

    Ooooh bastard unlucky as Trossard hits the bar on a deflection

  50. 50
    bt8 says:

    Half time entertainment

  51. 51
    bt8 says:

    We need to bring something different to this second half. A half decent referee would also help.

  52. 52
    North Bank Ned says:

    That was a performance weary in body and mind.

  53. 53
    Sancho Panza says:

    That was a performance reminiscent of last season.

  54. 54
    Bathgooner says: