Feed on

Sunday’s agenda for the Arsenal surely must be to stay focused and visualize the positive.  Mikel Arteta says he has been doing exactly those things, and wants his team to do likewise when they step out to face Manchester United in their penultimate league match at Old Trafford: 

“My brain always takes me to the players lifting the Premier League.  That’s what my brain is doing at the moment. I just follow my brain and my gut and this is how I feel, and this is the way that I want everybody to think and hopefully we can achieve it…. At the moment it’s not in our control (but) being focused and determining what we have to do is the only thing that we can do, which is a lot. There’s still a lot to play for against very difficult opponents. We know the turns that can happen in this league, You just have to look at the history.”  

The situation is this: Any win will do to keep Arsenal’s hand in the title race but any points dropped simply will not do. 

Many times this season Arsenal have won games by multiple goals, and if you watched Crystal Palace dismantle Manchester United last Monday you probably got the feeling that Arsenal should beat United easily, but it normally doesn’t work like that.  Arsenal will once more need to demonstrate their title credentials in a difficult away fixture as they near the culmination of their magnificent and still potentially title-winning season against Erik ten Hag’s unpredictable Red Mancs.

The Other Guys

It hasn’t been the best season for the Red Mancs.  As Jonathan Liew wrote in The Guardian this week, “Thanks to Ten Hag, United fans are being treated to sumptuous counterattacking fare on a near-weekly basis, even if – unhappily for Ten Hag’s job prospects – most of it these days seems to be getting played by the opposition.”  Liew ended the piece saying “Welcome to Manchester United, where the transition never ends.” 

On Friday in The Athletic, Michael Cox wrote that Ten Hag “took United to third place last season, his side kept the highest number of clean sheets in the Premier League, and he reached both domestic cup finals. Since then, however, United have gone backwards in almost every respect.” In the fairly unlikely event that he is not sacked at season’s end, ten Hag’s £9 million salary would drop to £6.75m next season in the final year of his contract because he missed out on a Champions League place.

With three fixtures remaining United stand eighth in the table with 54 points, three fewer than Chelsea and Newcastle but with a game in hand on both clubs.  United have scored 52 goals in the league, or three fewer than they have conceded.  The challenge for Arsenal is that even though United have lost almost as many games as they have won, they tend still to be very tough opponents in big games, and this one is exactly that.  United’s loss at Palace on Monday was their 13th league defeat this season, their highest number of losses in a Premier League campaign. Ten Hag’s team are eighth in the table, one spot below the lowest league place that could lead to European qualification, so they will need to beat Manchester City in the FA Cup final to secure a European place if they don’t move up the table.

Injuries to ten Hag’s first choice defenders have limited Martínez to only nine league matches; Luke Shaw to 12; and Tyrell Malacia to none.  But two injury-plagued stalwarts of the team, Rashford and Martinez, returned to training this week, and the team’s pride should bring a performance out of them after their poor showing at Palace.  If they are all healthy, I would look out for the energetic threesome of Mainoo, Martinez, and Garnacho.  If Martinez is unavailable we must hope for an encore selection of Casemiro and Evans, the makeshift centre-back pairing that gifted Palace multiple goals.  

Arsenal XI

Arsenal have won four must-win games in a row, and during that stretch Arteta has put his confidence in Tomiyasu, Trossard and Thomas so I expect them to continue in their places along with the other familiar faces we have seen throughout the season, with Kai Havertz leading the line rather than playing the left-8 where he started back in August. 


White – Saliba – Gabriel – Tomiyasu

Ødegaard – Rice – Thomas

Saka – Havertz – Trossard

The Holics’ Pound

I’m not expecting a straightforward win but as I said, any win will do and there’s nothing more satisfying, at least in retrospect, than a good old 1-0 to the Arsenal so I’m going with it and predicting Gabriel to get on the end of a Bukayo Saka corner, and possibly early in the second half so that could be a good time to emerge from behind the couch.  Wherever you are watching, enjoy the game and be sure to cheer on this great Arsenal side to a great finish of a truly great season, no matter what happens from here on out.

40 Drinks to “Gunners Aim to Keep Title Hopes Alive Amid Turbulent Times at Red Mancs”

  1. 1
    Bathgooner says:

    Cracking preview, bt8, Correct pitch, correct team and, hopefully, correct result.

    I can’t resist adding this image from this very day, 12th May, 45 years ago. Alan Sunderland scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup Final at Wembley.

  2. 2
    ClockEndRider says:

    Great preview, bt8.
    Thanks for the pic, Bath. 45 years ago it was Brady to Rix to Sunderland. I’d be more than happy to see Odegaard, Saka and Havertz reprise that beautiful moment today in a 0-1 win.

  3. 3
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Cheers bt8, excellent preview. I like your 1-0 punt for the holics’ pound too.

    I wasn’t alive for the five minute final, but I had a VHS of the match when I was a kid and I’ve watched the whole game a few times. That goal is one of the club’s most iconic.

    Which reminds me that I had replica of that shirt, with Sunderland’s 8 on the back, which i lost somewhere a few years ago. Maybe I should buy another.


    Just win Arsenal.

  4. 4
    Noosa Gooner says:

    Thanks bt8
    We need a fast start and early goals. I’m hoping for 2-0 and don’t care who scores.
    PS Love the goalie’s positioning in the picture – same today please.

  5. 5
    BtM says:

    GFE remains the venue for preview excellence, bt8.

    To borrow a phrase from another fine establishment “I’m fluctuating between confidence in my head based, and terror in my stomach”. Even at this early time of the day.

    Just win, Arsenal.

  6. 6
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks bt8, team looks about right and I think you’re spot on that they will raise their game against us so it may be a tough night. I heard Tomi is a doubt but happy if he is fit and we go with that team. Please please don’t let Rashford score against us again, it’s really annoying as generally he only has about 5 good games a season.
    Anyway, 3-1 will be fine with me.

    Feel for Ten Hag having to get by on a mere 6.75m next season. Hope he keeps his job though as he seems to have totally lost the plot.

  7. 7
    scruzgooner says:

    great preview, bt8. caught between the back of the couch and the front, eh? here’s to an early goal to settle our nerves.

    for me, wandering lucca, sunny sunday, and arsenal footie on the horizon, right at cocktail hour (of course that’s any time, for some here). what’s not to love?

    any win will do.

  8. 8
    Countryman100 says:

    Nice preview bt8. Manchester bound in ten minutes. Lat away day of the season. The day will start in 28 degree warmth and end, if forecasters are right, with thunderstorms in the North West.

    Desperate to win, and spank them if possible.


  9. 9
    Trev says:

    Thanks bt8, a fine preview and a 45 year old picture that seems to have Aaron Ramsdale in goal for the Mancs ! Must be his dad ?

    I wonder if Jorginho might get the nod to start today as we need to control this lot as they presumably try to assert themselves on their own patch after a pathetic display at Palace.
    They do always seem to lift themselves to play us, so hopefully ten Hag will have confused the hell out of them with his tictacs (sic) as he tries to save his job and the extra £2.5 mill that he might lose with another defeat.

    We simply have to win – again – and while utter humiliation of them would be marvellous, it’s another case of literally any win will do. The sight of Casemiro and Evans at the heart of their defence would be a wonderful start to the game, but surely he would play absolutely anyone else there after the former’s efforts there in the week.

    3-1, Matt said – I’ll go with that 💪🏻👍🏻

  10. 10
    Bathgooner says:

    Good stuff, as ever, from our friend Keenos:


  11. 11
    Esso says:

    Cheers Bt8!

  12. 12
    Ollie says:

    Cheers, bt8.
    Win, that is all. Except on realising how Citeh have closed the gap on GD, I am hoping for 4-0, to feel a little more comfortable in case Spurs only take one point against Citeh instead of the (not at all) expected three….

  13. 13
    Pangloss says:

    Any win will do. A spanking would be very welcome.


  14. 14
    Uplympian says:

    Thanks bt8 for a positive preview. It’s time to finally put Manure to the sword and give them the beating they deserve. A high scoring win would be delightful, a 1-0 scrappy win will still be pleasurable.

  15. 15
    Sancho Panza says:

    Great preview and link to she wore.
    Concern for me lies with a defensive mistake, dodgy referee and VAR decisions. We’ll out play them for sure but that might not be enough. Hopefully we’ll be 4 nil up at half time for none of that to matter.

  16. 16
    TTG says:

    Thanks for your usual excellent preview Bt8 . Keenos ( thanks for the link Bath) sums it up very well. Personally I’m chilled about things now . I have huge pride in what we’ve done this season- to see the pathetic posts from Totts fans bewailing the possibility of us being champions has made my season – and if we lose we lose to a state corporation that I believe has been allowed to cheat honest clubs out of title after title .
    Of course I’d love us to win today and end gloriously against Everton and if by some amazing quirk of fate the Spuds or Wet Spam produce a miracle that would be wonderful. But I’m very proud of my club again and everyone in our league fears and respects our football . Is that enough ? While the PL allows clubs some clubs to be docked points immediately and others to lawyer up and defer judgment we are not getting a remotely level playing field .
    I think we will win 3-0 today

  17. 17
    TTG says:

    I was behind that goal where Sunderland scored . One of the great moments of my Arsenal-supporting life !

  18. 18
    North Bank Ned says:

    Your preview nails it, bt8: a must-win against a club that always makes our trips to the OT a scrap. Settling the nerves with a thumping win for us would be so good on many levels, not least because City has whittled away at our goal difference advantage, which is now just two. But any win will do. It’s a non-negotiable.

    I have only just caught up with the conversation at the end of the previous drinks. I hope DG is in, for all the reasons CER said in his @123. You are part of this place as much as anyone for as long as you want to be, DG.

    And what GSD said @125.

  19. 19
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Excellent preview bt8! Perfect tone.

    As much as the opposition, if not more, I am always concerned about refereeing in this match as over the years we have had some shocking decisions against us. Even last season the canceling of Martinelli’s goal for an imaginary foul in the build-up still rankles. Let’s hope we get a fair, consistent performance from the match day officials.

    Your team sounds right. In the midfield Partey would be on the middle, Rice on the left — just a slight modification to the positioning of the starting eleven.

    Any win will do. If we play to our potential, and keep a cool head, we should be able to dominate the key moments.

    Come on Arsenal!

  20. 20
    Rev AL says:

    A win & a spanking for me too, ta! (Let Sunday be a funday – ouch!)

  21. 21
    Sancho Panza says:


  22. 22
    Sancho Panza says:

    Manure look a bit weak.

  23. 23
    North Bank Ned says:

    No Rashford or Martinez for them.

  24. 24
    Countryman100 says:

    Old Toilet

  25. 25
    ClockEndRider says:

    Ta for the pic, C100. Have a great day and may your journey back be filled with joy……

    I intend to start the game, in anticipation of next Sundays get together, in a Negroni’d state. How about everyone else? 8I imagine Scruz will be partaking of aperitivo hour in a similar way?

  26. 26
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks c100, have a great day!

    As expected for us. Casemiro and Evans as centre backs for them with a very young team in front of them, hope we can exploit them all game long. CoYGs!!

  27. 27
    bt8 says:

    Most definitely agree with TTG, “While the PL allows clubs some clubs to be docked points immediately and others to lawyer up and defer judgment we are not getting a remotely level playing field .”

  28. 28
    bt8 says:

    Have Casemiro and Evans been dished prematch performance enhancement drugs?

  29. 29
    OsakaMatt says:

    Get in Leo!! 1-0

  30. 30
    ClockEndRider says:

    Curious first half. We are way off the way we know we can play. We need to tighten up and improve second half. Not unlike the Sp*rs away game.
    I’d be tempted to replace Partey with Jorginho as a starter for ten.

  31. 31
    OsakaMatt says:

    3 points all that mattered, real ballsy stuff again, loved it.
    Hope Saka ok

  32. 32
    bt8 says:

    *** emerges from behind the couch ***

    Never a doubt, was there. ;). Not many style points but clean sheet and title hopes preserved. Well done, Gunnas.

  33. 33
    scruzgooner says:

    bt8 was asking if trossard was a “big goal” scorer.


    27 wins. first place the penultimate weekend. a win by 1-0 at old trafford. possibly playing for the title in a week. aside from the massive amount of suffering for the last two hours, what’s not to love?

    and great call on the score, bt8!!

  34. 34
    OsakaMatt says:

    Oh yes, the rare team and score double, masterly stuff bt8 👏👏

  35. 35
    Countryman100 says:

    I am soaked to the skin. But very, very happy.

  36. 36
    scruzgooner says:

    cer@25 i decided no alcohol tonight. i’ve had 4 hours’ sleep since friday and need it ahead of our friends getting here tomorrow…

  37. 37
    scruzgooner says:

    you and your peers sounded magnificent tonight, c100! get some bovril into you and get dry.

  38. 38
    TTG says:

    The away support was magnificent .
    Safe journey back Countrymen!

  39. 39
    Bathgooner says:

    That was a tough watch. Interesting that MA8 thought that our goal had seriously impaired our attitude to the game and rather than pushing on to finish them off we decided to hold onto what we had and to ask the Manure team to show us what they had.

  40. 40
    Bathgooner says: