Feed on

Arsenal travel down to the South coast of England on Saturday to take on Brighton and Hove’s Seagulls in an early-evening tilt at the Falmer Stadium. We’re coming off our workmanlike 2-0 win over Luton this midweek, after Sunday’s chess match at Al-Citeh’s oil-slick dump. Brighton drew with Brentford this week, having lost to Liverpool 2-1 over the weekend.

We come in on a better run of form, where in addition to advancing to the final 16 of the Champions League we are undefeated in the Premier League in 2024. The Albion defeated Sheffield United mid-February 5-0, having won or drawn a string of games where they were scoring for fun, but since that win at the Blades they’ve fallen out of the Europa League to Roma, and are struggling for goals while being somewhat porous at the back.

Nonetheless, the portents are dark and veiled, for Brighton have been difficult for Arsenal to beat over the past few years. In 8 games across all competitions Arsenal have won 4, lost 3, and drawn 1, the latest Premier League game in December ending 2-0 to the Arsenal. Naturally, as this is the second game of an April where we play just about every three days, this game can be considered something straight out of the Velvet Underground (& Nico). We need to tread carefully…

Brighton and Hove

Roberto de Zerbi’s team is certainly going to be missing some key players. Danger man Mitoma is out for the season with a lower back injury, and Hinshelwood, Gilmour, and March are out for the foreseeable future. Milner is struggling with a thigh injury, and Ferguson has an ankle knock; the latter is likely to play, but probably start on the bench. We may see one of Enciso or Pedro, both of whom are working their way back to fitness after injury.

Expect them to line up in a 4-2-3-1, with Groß and Baleba shielding a back four with Dunk and van Hecke flanked by Lamptey and Estupiñán; the latter pair like to move up in support of a front four that includes ex-Arsenal man Welbeck and the not-so-subtly-hated Lallana. Dunk gives the defense both height and solidity (not to say grit, but not NOT to say it), and keeper Verbruggen is solid, if unable to keep many clean sheets this season (and those have come against Forest, Brentford, and Sheffield…so…). They will really miss Enciso (should he not play) and especially Mitoma; both are integral to Brighton’s success, but their lack of goals coincides exactly with the period since Mitoma went out after the Sheffield League game.

The Arsenal

As noted, our form coming into the game is very good, though not quite as scintillating as it was prior to the interlull. Our defeat of a decent Luton squad was professional and somewhat restful ahead of our busy April. We were able to rest Saka completely; Rice got a quarter-game off the bench, and Martinelli had a stretch of his legs after being out for three weeks with his injured ankle. As TTG discussed in his report, MOTM Smith Rowe, Partey, and Nelson were given starts, thus time to sharpen what might otherwise be dull legs after being out through injury or omission these past months. We’re in good shape, actually (knock on wood), with Saka being probable for the game and Timber being our only absentee at the moment.

I do believe this will be another good game to give some of the players hovering around the red zone some rest. A bench with Ramsdale, Saka, Ødegaard, Rice, and White (among others) could lead to a starting lineup that looks something like this:

Tomiyasu — Saliba — Gabriel — Kiwior
Partey — Vieira — ESR
Jesús — Havertz — Martinelli

Chancy, I know, but it gives us solidity defensively across the back without sacrificing too much ahead of it, and gives another solid rest for those who really need it. The only real doubt I have about this lineup is Vieira in the middle; he’s not really close enough to captain Mø to replace him, but perhaps this is the game to try. If we’re playing with too much Portuguese descanso by early in the second half we can bring in the captain and move with our usual Nordic elan to win the game. Alternatively we could start ESR in the controlling midfield role alongside Jorghino and Partey, but that could tend towards the mildly defensive in a game where we really should be able to get at them. It’s also a game where Nwaneri could take a bow; he looked good coming on as a late sub during February’s 6-0 demolition of Wet Spam, and according to MA8 he’s pushing for first team action after signing his first professional contract.

The Holic pound

While I won’t be betting on this game, preferring rather to send that money to World Central Kitchen in support of their grief over losing 7 aid workers this week. However, if you wish, you can get 14s on a 3-0 Arsenal victory. Add another Arsenal goal and you can nearly double that, at 27/1; add two Brighton goals to that and you are at 40/1.

I’ll assume Countryman100 and C100Jr will be heading South on Saturday. For them, and for all who are making the trek, bon voyage, good voice, and may a fair, winning wind guide you back to North London after the game.

64 Drinks to “Are the shadows of Albion stirring?”

  1. 1
    Trev says:

    Scruz, thanks for an enjoyable (all the Brighton injuries) and a thought provoking team selection. I hdcevto say, though, I’m glad you’re not the manager ! I get the logic of your selections bar Vieira – I have everything crossed he won’t be considering the Portuguese in central midfield for one second. Neither his skill, strength or endurance come within a million miles of Odegaard. If the latter needs a rest, your alternative solution of Partey, Jorginho and ESR looks much better.

  2. 2
    bt8 says:

    Comprehensive and masterful preview scruzgooner but please Mikel keep our Norwegian captain in the team because he keeps the gears turning. Any win will do swimmingly

  3. 3
    bathgooner says:

    A most enjoyable preview, scruz – until I read your team. I think you need to cut back on the Californian ganja, mate. I’m with Trev on his observations about your midfield.

    Change for the sake of either change – or, indeed, proposed change for the sake of stirring up controversy in the drinks is not something I have come to expect from a wise and measured correspondent such as you have hitherto appeared to be. First, do no harm as the traditional medical aphorism has it. Remember that it’s not worth having well rested players if you drop points in the resting process – I’m confident that MA8 is aware of that.

    Select the best options to win the game and take the opportunity to rest those approaching ‘the red zone’ or carrying a knock once the game is won!

    It was encouraging to see the Dippers wobble last night. They are sure to wobble again. We must ensure that we don’t!

    Go win, Gunners.

  4. 4
    scruzgooner says:

    thanks, friends. baff, don’t be ornery. it was in no way a pot-stirring effort on my part; i’d genuinely like to see mø get some rest, and this could be a game in which to do that. the only two alternatives i really see for the position are esr and vieira (if saka is available and rested he could do the job, he’s that good, but not this game). but hey, managing a team in the run in is a lark, right?

    mø’s lack of back-up is one of the reasons i’d rather plump for a creative midfielder than a striker this summer.

    trev, i agree the second list looks better, but i don’t think he’ll play either and mø will see out our string of (hopefully) 13 games that lead us to…

    looking forward to this game. it’s at 0930 for us here in the land of california green, so i get to wake past sparrowfart and actually enjoy my guinness while the sun is shining, rather than the stars.

  5. 5
    TTG says:

    Thankyou for your usual fine preview although I think you’ve taken the rotation too far . Declan played only twenty minutes in a low key game on Tuesday so he will start and Vieira wasn’t brought on so I think he has dropped down the pecking order . I think that Trossard and White will be keen to play at the Amex . We may see the lesser spotted Rice / Partey combination in midfield from the start and I think Odegaard will start but ESR might spell him if we can take the liberty of subs if we are in control .
    Brighton have failed to improve mainly because they had European football and their style leads to lots of injuries. I’m not sorry not to be facing Mitoma but Adingra tore Liverpool a new one and needs to be watched. 3-1 to the Gunners is my punt
    Here are Mike McDonald’s views on Luton

    Stunningly unremarkable (Positives Needs & Hopes) [ARS 2-0 LUT]

  6. 6
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Cheers TTG for an excellent report of the Luton game which I’ve only just got to.

    And thanks to Scruz for an enjoyable preview of a big game (they all are at this point).

    Odegaard has one hell of a motor on him. He looks so fresh even as matches head to their death throes. I can’t see him being left out of the starting line-up again this season. If we have the game won, then perhaps ESR might come on with 20 to 30 mins left.

    I think Partey and Rice in midfield. Arteta will, rightly, go full power for this one. We need a good result for the sake of the league itself, and to show no weakness to Bayern before next Tuesday.

    Another 2-0 to The Arsenal.

  7. 7
    BtM says:

    I had the misfortune to witness the 0-3 home reverse at the Emirates around this time last year. My three primary recollections of a woeful day spent only about three yards behind the Clock End goal line were 1) Martin O passing up an excellent opportunity to put us one up 2) Trossard being cowed to virtual non-existence by the visiting Seagulls fans and 3) Ben White being spun like a top by Mitoma. At least there will be no repetition of 3) this time around. Declan, Thomas and MO in midfield for this first time ever please, Mikel and then you can do whatever you fancy with the other eight.

    Just win!

  8. 8
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Thoughtful and well-analyzed preview Scruz, thank you!

    But I find, like others here, your team maybe just a bit too adventurous at this stage of the season, away against a very very good team, injuries notwithstanding. Brighton is brilliantly coached, tactically clever and flexible, and can play genuinely inventive football complemented by high athleticism. We have had some success against them recently but only by playing our best football.
    I suspect the team will look more like this

    With Partey, Tomi, ESR and Leo coming in later. Jesus needs some minutes before the CL where I think he is likely to start as well. Maybe Zinchenko as well coming in later if the game is in our control for some more minutes before the CL match where he will likely start.

    Keep the doors shut at the back, and then we will find a way to score one or two.

    Come on Arsenal!

  9. 9
    scruzgooner says:

    i’m glad to see mike is in agreement with me in expecting rotation in this game, ttg; thanks for sharing that. i know everyone’s freaked that i plumped for vieira in that position…but if he’s not going to be part of it now, then when? only on the wings? i’m thinking at this point the portuguese vieira is a man without a mission…unless, as with havertz and zinchenko, ma8 knows something about how to use his players to best effect.

    gsd, thanks. is our best midfield rice, partey, and mø? rice playing the 8 and getting in behind? that’s a tough call; rice is so good at snaffling up balls one way or another partey really risks becoming his relief rather than his partner, especially if esr blossoms as against luton. or perhaps it was only because it WAS luton. delicious problems for ma8 to worry about over supper.

  10. 10
    TTG says:

    As Wednesday showed PL football is a 16 a side game now particularly at this stage of the season . The decisions of who to start and who and when to sub are very difficult. Recently , Arteta has used his subs superbly to achieve what he needed to . It is an area he was criticised over in the past but he handles it very well now
    He has Tuesday very much in his thoughts and he will have to weigh up how long to play key individuals for , when to introduce others and how combinations might work
    So far he hasn’t started Rice and Partey with MO. We’d all like to see that but that sort of construct affects the rest of the team . Imjust going to trust a man who sees training every day and lest we forget orchestrated a very comfortable win against Brighton in December

  11. 11
    North Bank Ned says:

    An entertaining preview, Scruz. Like others, I am expecting to see something close to the first XI take the field against Brighton.

    A belated announcement that the GHF Leaderboard for Match Week 31 has been posted. There was quite a bit of jostling for position this week.

    You know where to find it…

  12. 12
    Uplympian says:

    Thanks Scruz for an interesting preview. With regard to team selection please pass the stogie over here…..I would expect a very near full strength team to start. Brighton are not as formidable as last year but remain a dangerous opponent. If our recent good form holds then a 2-0 to the good guys is on the cards.

  13. 13
    Trev says:

    Ned, many thanks, again, for updating the Predictathon – I think !

    Do you have access – or can you get it – to Pangloss’s emails ? A 56 point lead at this stage of the season ? Has oil been struck in Oxfordshire , and have some of the proceeds been finding their way into officials’ back pockets over the season ? Such a lead almost since day one of the season – it’s bound to lead to suspicion. We need an explanation as to how he’s achieved this and it needs to be right now because any possible points deduction has to be implemented before the end of the season. We simply cannot head into the summer with such uncertainty.

    And – if Uply pulls my shirt one more time …..

  14. 14
    Trev says:

    You see ! Just look up there – the bloke even follows me around in the drinks …..

  15. 15
    scruzgooner says:

    who’s following who, trev?

  16. 16
    Trev says:

    Well, obviously he pulls the back of my shirt so Ned can’t see 🙄

  17. 17
    scruzgooner says:

    yellow card!!

  18. 18
    Ollie says:

    Cheers Scruz!
    And no, Vieira is not starting. I think Patrick has as much chance of being in the starting line-up as Fabio.

  19. 19
    Noosa Gooner says:

    Thanks Scruz,
    Re the lineup, please pass the fine Columbian.
    Ollie, I would prefer if Paddy did start before Fabio as of now.
    Anyway, I’m grumpy and I need someone to suffer because of it so those pesky Seagulls seem like a reasonable target. I want them mashed by at least four goals although I wouldn’t mind if Welbz got one for them, good honest player for us despite a lot of injury problems from memory.
    Whatever, 3 points please.

  20. 20
    Countryman100 says:

    Brighton bound!


  21. 21
    Bathgooner says:

    1-0 Palace!

    Come on you Eagles!

    May be a tad early though.

  22. 22
    bt8 says:

    I turned it on at 17 minutes and Manch115 have drawn level already. Parvfor the course I suppose but Ayew and Hasland just missed decent chances. Haaland being offside as it turned out

  23. 23
    bt8 says:

    Silva and Foden looking on from the bench for the 115ers. The only question is how soon does Pep bring them on

  24. 24
    North Bank Ned says:

    Trev@13: There are more oil and gas companies headquartered in Oxfordshire than you might imagine on account of the university’s Energy Institute. So who knows what murky petrodollar connections there might be in play? Or Pangloss may simply have set up a nodding donkey on Port Meadow and stuck something other than port. TTG is the guardian of the integrity of the Predictathon (what could possibly go wrong?), so any backhanders about investigating financial improprieties should be sent to him. I should warn you that he may take a ridiculously long time to do anything about them, and even then you may need to check under his carpet.

  25. 25
    North Bank Ned says:

    Exclusive footage of C100 on his away day in Brighton:

  26. 26
    BtM says:

    Great dangers lurk under TTG’s carpet, Ned. The investigation is not worth the risk premium.

  27. 27
    North Bank Ned says:

    A flattering profile of Benny Blanco in the Daily Mail, although it contains the concerning information that he has a knee injury that will require what sounds like summer surgery.


  28. 28
    North Bank Ned says:

    BtM@26: 🙂

    Not a place for those faint of heart, I am sure.

  29. 29
    Trev says:

    Ned, BtM – 🤣🤣

  30. 30
    bt8 says:

    Arsenal XI: Raya, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Odegaard, Rice, Jorginho, Saka, Havertz, Jesus.

    Subs: Ramsdale, Partey, Smith Rowe, Martinelli, Nketiah, Kiwior, Tomiyasu, Trossard, Vieira.

    Vieira at least made the bench scruz!

  31. 31
    North Bank Ned says:

    And in preference to Reiss Nelson, whose Arsenal future seems to fade by the day.

  32. 32
    ClockEndRider says:

    Ned@25 – I had no idea C100 was such a versatile all rounder! Hope you have a good trip, C100 and bring back the three points.
    Arteta makes the right calls for me in the selection. ESR must feel a bit crestfallen, but then maybe Arteta is challenging him to show he has the resolve to take it on the chin and come back again.

  33. 33
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:


  34. 34
    ClockEndRider says:

    So close!

  35. 35
    TTG says:

    Late to the game, sweeping more petrodollars under the carpet . It’s crowded under there Brighton have a very attacking line-up with two fliers at full back .This isn’t going to be easy but no game for the top three will be straightforward until the end of the season .

  36. 36
    ClockEndRider says:

    Brighton have started at a fair old pace

  37. 37
    ClockEndRider says:

    Cut through our press like a hot knife through butter

  38. 38
    ClockEndRider says:

    Much better, Great work….

  39. 39
    ClockEndRider says:

    We could be 3 up. Come on Gunners, put one of these away otherwise we may end up rueing the misses.,,

  40. 40
    ClockEndRider says:

    That’s a penalty. What is Smith going on about? “ Defender let go in time”. Bizarre comment.

  41. 41
    ClockEndRider says:

    Get in…

  42. 42
    bt8 says:

    One half down, one goal up. COYG

  43. 43
    Countryman100 says:

    Arsenal playing some good stuff here and good value for the lead. And what a Dave by Raya!

  44. 44
    Countryman100 says:

    His name is Dave. What he made was a save!

  45. 45
    ClockEndRider says:

    Enciso is a real threat. He’s the kind of player that ESR could be.

  46. 46
    ClockEndRider says:

    Away Boyz very, very loud. I think I can hear the tenor of C100 soaring above the rest….

  47. 47
    ClockEndRider says:

    0-3 away at a team which has lost only once this season at home. Pretty special.

  48. 48
    ClockEndRider says:

    I hope Brighton give cal Citeh as hard a game when they come to the Amex.

  49. 49
    North Bank Ned says:

    Another well-controlled performance, especially in closing out the game. A record fifth consecutive clean sheet in an away game, and adding one to the goal difference advantage over City.

  50. 50
    TTG says:

    Every day I think Arteta impresses me more and more as a coach

  51. 51
    ClockEndRider says:

    TTG knows.

  52. 52
    OsakaMatt says:

    Great win and a well-poached 50 by TTG

  53. 53
    Countryman100 says:

    How good was that?

    And how good was that away end?

  54. 54
    ClockEndRider says:

    Noted at 46 above, C100. When you get in, I suggest hot water, honey and lemon to soothe the larynx which must have taken a hammering today…,,,

  55. 55
    Countryman100 says:

    CER I’m currently bathing it in Cobra
    with excellent results!

  56. 56
    ClockEndRider says:

    You’ve earned it, Sir! I believe medical science backs up your view. Perhaps Bath will confirm?

  57. 57
    Depressedgooner says:

    Nicely reviewed Mr Scruz and a fully enjoyable day watching the wonderful Arsenal get more than the Seagulls managed when they mugged us before.

    If anybody cares to know or indeed if not, I had an MRI back in October of last year because of my memry and concentration issues since covid, which in January was casually referred to by my long covid Dr’s letter as having markers for early onset dementia or early onset alzheimers, both extremely tempting choices of course and that I would be referred on to a neurologist, I have now received that appointment letter and date, September the 1st.


    So please do not take my extended absences as any kind of slight upon your good selves, I have good days and I have bad days, one outnumbers the other at the moment but anything can change and at least Arsenal are keeping me very happy indeed right now, although I’m still not sold on Dave! 😆

  58. 58
    ClockEndRider says:

    Hey DG, hang in there. It’s always lovely to hear from you and you will always be welcome in this bar. I think of it as a virtual Cheers. Everybody knows your name and we’re always glad you came….

  59. 59
    North Bank Ned says:

    DG@57: what CER said @58. The bar is always here for you. Hang tough and stay strong.

  60. 60
    OsakaMatt says:

    Hi DG👋 Hope it’s a good day. The Arsenal are keeping me happy too. That was an
    outstanding performance yesterday. I am sure we can find things to improve (and it’s quite possible Mikel is thinking of those things on this reasonably bright Sunday morning) but personally I am just enjoying the moment. Let’s stick to Bayern Munich next.

  61. 61
    OsakaMatt says:

    Stick it to Bayern Munich I meant.
    It’s been a few years but I haven’t forgotten how much I dislike them. I don’t doubt Kane and Gnabry will be up for it so it’s a good test for the best defence in the league.

  62. 62
    TTG says:

    So sorry the NHS are not helping you as much as they might.
    At least the Arsenal are doing their best to keep you happy.
    Don’t be a stranger . We are always here for you .

  63. 63
    Countryman100 says:

    Ned @25. Great stuff. My match report should be up soon (it’s with the techies).

  64. 64
    Bathgooner says: