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Lest you get the idea that the title refers to the tactics of the Spanish Inquisition, I must nip that notion in the bud immediately [nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! — eds.]. That is to say, early-harvest extra virgin olive oil is made this time of year from Andalusian olives that are harvested as they darken from green to purple, so seeing as the harvest time is now I thought it fitting to observe the stages of the ripening olive, and imagine the purple one as an Arsenal win.  Needless to say, we don’t want a green one in Wednesday’s home Champions League game against Sevilla but a half purple olive would keep us near the top of Group B after our excellent win in Seville that was powered by the brilliance of Gabriel Martinelli and the injured Gabriel Jesus.  But for the Gunners to get a decent draw in the knockout round they must top the group, making three points a near imperative.  With six points Arsenal lead Lens by a single point with the French side facing PSV away in the evening’s other game.  Sevilla and PSV are level on two points but the Dutchmen have an inferior goal difference, the result of their 0-4 loss in North London in Arsenal’s only home match to date.

The astute reader will have noticed more than three olives pictured above, and as we saw on Saturday at Newcastle every game has more possible outcomes than simply win, lose or draw.  In a match that should have ended 0-0 the referees awarded Newcastle a goal that never should have stood as Gabriel was shoved in the back when in position to clear, and Arsenal’s brilliantly resolute defensive performance went for nought.  Difficult as it must be to recover psychologically from such an injustice in a few days’ time, Arsenal must take the positives from that game and quickly refocus on a very different competition and opponent.  The confidence gained from knowing that Newcastle would not have won without the referee’s intervention should count for something, a little like the olive with just a hint of purple on the end.

The Oily Opposition 

Having won just two of their opening eight games in La Liga, and drawn their first two group stage matches, Sevilla sacked Jose Luis Mendilibar a month ago after just seven months on the job during which he presided over their seventh Europa League title win.  Sevilla dismissed the old olive picker with the club placed 14th in La Liga, and replaced him with Uruguayan Diego Alonso, but after drawing his first three league games in charge they are currently down in 15th spot so it appears the Andalusians are still awaiting their new manager bounce. 

Before his first game in charge Alonso had to decide whether to build his team around legendary defender Sergio Ramos, who had been in and out of the team under the previous boss.  The 37 year old Ramos returned to Sevilla, his boyhood club, after winning five league titles and four European Cups with Real Madrid.  Ramos featured in Sevilla’s team against Madrid, against Arsenal at home, and at Cadiz on October 28 when Sevilla fought back to draw 2-2 after conceding twice as the team errantly tried to play out from the back.  During the week Sevilla did some hard traveling for a Copa del Rey win at minnows Quintanar in the eastern province of Cuenca, and for Saturday’s league match at Galician side Celta where they scored late to draw 1-1 after their relegation candidate hosts had a player sent off.  Ramos was rested for both of those games so it is likely he will be in the team against Arsenal.

In the first group stage match between these clubs, played two weeks ago at a rainy Estadio Sanchez-Pizjuan (see Countryman100’s excellent match report, “Outstanding Jesus Ensures Big Arsenal Win in Spain“), Martinelli and Jesus each scored a spectacular goal as Arsenal took a big 2-1 away win.  Jesus’ assist for Martinelli’s goal, scored just before halftime, was a thing of beauty.  Ten minutes after halftime Jesus doubled the lead, unleashing a ferocious drive into the top corner. Unfortunately, Jesus came off late in the second half with an injured hamstring and is not expected to be available for some time.  Sevilla halved the deficit a few minutes later but Arsenal held firm to see out the win.

Arsenal XI

I expect Mikel Arteta will pick his perceived strongest team for this all-important game, and based on his selection patterns and the players he has available I expect it to look something like this:

White — Saliba — Gabriel — Zinchenko
Havertz — Ødegaard — Rice
Saka — Nketiah — Martinelli

The only changes I might make would be to bring in Ramsdale for Raya, and Tomiyasu for Zinchenko but Arteta is certainly not likely to drop the Spanish goalie now if he hasn’t dropped him already so I’m hoping for big performances from Raya and also from Havertz, who seemed to bring a modicum of mojo to his game at St. James’ Park a few days ago.

The ‘Holics Pound

By all means cheer on the Arsenal loudly and proudly as the occasion must demand. If my prediction of a 1-0 home win (with Eddie Nketiah doing the goal scoring honors) comes through for you, don’t forget the olive in your post-match victory Martini, unless of course a Negroni is the featured item on your celebratory cocktail menu. I’ll be lifting a sparkling water myself, but much as eggs must be hatched, we mustn’t savour our drinks until they are shaken or stirred, as the case may be.

Enjoy the game, ‘holics,

28 Drinks to “Ripen, Pick, Extract, and Savour”

  1. 1
    North Bank Ned says:

    An extra virgin grade review, bt8. Well pressed.

    According to Sevilla, Sergio Ramos hasn’t travelled. Nor has their first-choice keeper, Nyland, nor Acuña, the stocky Argentine left-back who spent the first leg kicking lump out of Saka. All gone in the fetlock, apparently.

    They will probably field the promising young Spanish left-back Sanchez, and the youngish Frenchman, Bade, to partner Gudelj in the middle of the defence. Serbia’s No. 2/3 keeper, Dmitrovic will be between the sticks.

  2. 2
    bt8 says:

    Thanks Ned, and especially for the Sevilla team news which I neglected. Also I just saw that Nketiah and Ødegaard may be doubts so the teams are quite difficult to predict.

  3. 3
    bathgooner says:

    A very tasty preview, bt8 even though I have never tasted a Spanish olive to match those from Kalamata. I have never understood either the choice of a twist over an olive or the choice of vodka over gin in a Martini. Further, I have conducted an experiment with several replicates and proved to myself conclusively that the gin Martini is a better drink if stirred rather than shaken. Bond was misguided.

    There are rumours that neither Ødegaard nor Nketiah took part in training today and both must pass late fitness tests, so with negative outcomes your very acceptable selection may need a shake up. If that is required I would play Havertz as a false 9 and add Jorginho and Vieira to your midfield.

    Ned’s news of Sevilla’s defensive rearrangements give me hope that even without Eddie or Jesus, we should have enough creativity and firepower to win this match. I very much hope that we can win by a bigger, more relaxing margin than you predict.

  4. 4
    TTG says:

    Another excellent and original preview with topical and very pertinent references to Andalusia’s main product. It is always hard to know about injuries/ illness but Eddie was injured on Saturday and Ødegaard picked up a knock in training before the game . I thought Havertz had his best game for us so far on Saturday ( admittedly not a high bar ) and I’d keep him in the Ødegaard role if MO doesn’t play . I’d use Martinelli or Trossard as 9 with the other on the wing . I’ve yet to become a Fabio Vieiraophile but European football probably suits him better than the Premier League . We always speculate about pushing Zinchenko into the left 8 role and if Vieira doesn’t get that role , that is an option.
    We beat them fairly comfortably two weeks ago but much of the reason for that was the pace and pressing of Jesus .I hope we can pick up at home where we left off against Eindhoven but I suspect creativity might be a problem against a likely low block .
    And I’d bring Ramsdale back but it ain’t gonna happen !

  5. 5
    North Bank Ned says:

    The other person who could replace Acuña is Adrià Pedrosa, a more natural left-back than Sanchez. He arrived from Espanyol in the summer and started Sevilla’s CL games against Lens and PSV.

    I would caution against thinking that the absentees will much weaken our visitors’ defence. I would hazard that Pedrosa, Bade, Gudelj and Sanchez will be Alonzo’s established starting back four by the end of the season. Sevilla has recently abandoned its policy of buying old stiffs like Ramos and Jesus Navas in favour of yoofs.

    Dmitrovic is a Ramsdale-like character who, when he was at Eibar, also took the occasional penalty, including scoring against Atletico Madrid in La Liga. His other Athletic association is that he spent a season with Charlton. Dmitrovic was captain at Eibar when Sevilla’s tin-tacked coach José Luis Mendilibar was in charge there, which is why, I assume, he followed him to Sevilla.

    Last season, in a Europa League game in Holland, he was attacked by a pitch invader. Dmitrovic decked him and kept him pinned to the ground until the stewards arrived. It will be interesting to see what happens to Ben White if he tries any Benny Blanconess on corners. It seems Dmitrovic doesn’t take prisoners.

  6. 6
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks bt8, entertaining stuff and like you I hope we will be in the purple by the end.
    Be a good time to for Saka / Gabi M to find their scoring boots again – I believe they will and 3-0 to The Arsenal looks a likely result.

  7. 7
    bt8 says:

    Congratulations to Olivier Giroud for becoming the 8th oldest goal scorer in Champions League history, snd to Pepe for becoming the very oldest at nearly 41 years old. Both players accomplished their feats yesterday. Arsenal should beware the geriatrics in the Sevilla squad.


  8. 8
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks bt8 for the link. Big goal too for Giroud as AC Milan needed that win and it moved them into 3rd in their group ahead of the Saudi Sportswashers. Though as TTG correctly pointed out in the previous drinks it’s better if the barcodes are 3rd and go into the EL for Thursday / Sunday treats.

  9. 9
    Ollie says:

    Great preview, bt8.
    I like olive oil, but I don’t like olives. Not sure what that says about tonight’s match though.
    And yes congrats to Olive Giroud too.

  10. 10
    Ollie says:

    And shame that Man City won yesterday (but that was inevitable) when the other two oil clubs lost.

  11. 11
    Trev says:

    Thanks bt8, I am pop-eyed at your Olive Oil preview. (Just ignore that, 21CG ! or ask your dad 😉)
    Team selection is becoming tricky as the injuries increase. Personally I would play Tomi at left back simply because he is a much better defender than Zinchenko and I don’t see any evidence yet that the latter is affording us any great creativity in midfield. He has become a bit of a muddler this season and he and Mikel need to find a more productive way for him to play.

    Assuming Rice and Jorginho are again in midfield, Saka, Martinelli, Trossard, Nelson and Havertz should have enough between them in almost interchangeable positions. I know Nelson is inconsistent at times but he is also direct and a threat. He’s not going to get more consistent by not playing and when needs must ……

  12. 12
    Countryman100 says:

    Thanks for an excellent preview bt8. I love olives, in whatever form, and like your analogy. I think the team is difficult to predict. However I’m going to come off the fence with regard to the goalkeeper.

    Thanks to you kindly linking it, I re-read my match report of the game in Sevilla. It reminded me that Raya made two egregious errors in that game. Fortunately we were not punished on either occasion. But since then Raya has made bad errors leading to goals and points dropped against both Chelsea and Newcastle. He does not command his area on crosses. He is 5cm shorter than Ramsdale (1.83m vs 1.88m according to Wikipedia) and wingspan matters. At just under 6ft tall (1cm shorter than me) he is one of the shorter keepers in the Prem (I get to see them all from my perch behind the goal on the North Bank). He also takes up strange positions and seems to be caught under crosses quite often.

    On other aspects the two goalies are similar. But I’ve seen enough. I want to see Raya replaced by Ramsdale as the Arsenal number 1. I suspect Arteta has been heavily influenced by the goalkeeping coach, Pavon, who was influential in bringing Raya in at Brentford in 2019, six months before he moved to us.

    I’m normally very much an Arteta loyalist. But I think he’s made a mistake here.

  13. 13
    Noosa Gooner says:

    Thanks bt8
    I’m with OM – a 3-0 spanking will do nicely thank you.
    Also, olives are for food, not drinks. Likewise, umbrellas are for rain, not drinks. A slice of lemon in certain drinks is acceptable.

  14. 14
    Doctor Faustus says:

    A thoroughly researched and enjoyable preview bt8, thank you!

    We have a great opportunity towards cementing the top position in the group — two consecutive home wins against Sevilla and Lens will ensure that — and that alone should be all the motivation needed. If we play to the best of our abilities then even in the absence of Jesus or Martin we should be able to impose ourselves. Saka and Martinelli have had quiet season thus far and it’s time for them to step up.

    I like your team, but I would like to find a place for Trossard, whether #9 or left sided 8.

    Come on Arsenal!

  15. 15
    North Bank Ned says:

    Trev@11: 👍 Strong to the ‘finich’.

  16. 16
    Ollie says:

    Success on the Red ballot for Brighton (red success so far statistically higher than silver for me….) so I shall be going to at least two more matches before the turn of the year.

  17. 17
    bt8 says:

    Re: Trev @11. Time for the progressive and strategic release of our secret weapons? (Nelson being a prime example of same)

  18. 18
    North Bank Ned says:

    Ollie@16: 👍

  19. 19
    Esso says:

  20. 20
    bathgooner says:

    Wonderful stuff from our front three tho’ Martinelli needs to find a better final ball. Saka getting kicked to bits. I think the dozy Romanian referee must have left his cards in his locker.

    We need to get an early SH goal to reflect our dominance. In fact, I think we may well need a second goal anyway.

  21. 21
    OsakaMatt says:

    Happy with that. 3 points, clean sheet, couple of nice goals.
    Move on with hopefully no more injuries,

  22. 22
    OsakaMatt says:

    The Romanian ref definitely remembered his cards 2nd half 😃

  23. 23
    Ollie says:

    Heh, he did indeed, Matt!
    Solid win tonight.

  24. 24
    North Bank Ned says:

    Sevilla done and dusted. We ar firmly in control of the group now.

  25. 25
    bathgooner says:

    A job well done. Total dominance. Two sumptuous goals. Nartinelli ripped their right flank to shreds. Pity his final balls were so random. Hope Saka’s injury isn’t serious. The referee was far too permissive in that first half when Saka was being clattered every time he got the ball. Ironic that he started waving his yellow card like confetti in the second half.

  26. 26
    North Bank Ned says:

    And the red Mancs go from being two up to losing 4-3!.

  27. 27
    bathgooner says:

    Arteta said that Saka injury was a knock and is optimistic that it’s not serious. Fingers crossed.

  28. 28
    scruzgooner says: