Premier League debut mooted as defensive worries mount

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I tell you what, I’ve been listening to a lot of classical music this year. I’m not sure if that’s a sign of age, or that I feel disenchanted by the constant bickering between Kanye and Drake. Can’t you both just be friends?

Anyway, big up the classical music scene. Some absolute bangers from John Adams and Tchaikovsky pulling me through this post.

I know that it upsets people that I use references of the not-so-distant past to frame up where we are now, but look, for context, I’m the kind of guy who will make a beeline for a work colleague on a packed train, just to acknowledge that I have seen them… even if they are avoiding eye contact with headphones on. Simply put, I’m going to compare Wenger to Emery for at least another year, so get used to it.

Unai Emery showed exactly how different the mentality at the club is these days.

“I think we are doing our way and improving, but the reality is that we need more.

“Our ideas and work with the players is to learn together. All of us can give everybody new ideas.

“I think the players are open to listening to us about our new tactical work with our analysis in videos. We need to do this work quickly, but we also need patience.

If this had been 2 years ago, we’d be talking about winning the league and the big twitter accounts would be digging up tweets from 7 years ago gleefully proclaiming the victory was theirs!

Not anymore. Our manager is a pragmatist very much anchored to reality. We’re in 5th position, that’s not good enough, and even though we’re not losing, we could be doing better.

That’s a great attitude. That’s a message to players that complacency won’t be tolerated, nor will premature-back patting. We’ve achieved nothing this season and we’re still a long way off the levels City and Liverpool are bringing to the table.

This season is fierce, so many teams are on an absolute rampage. Spurs and City won again, Liverpool is likely to decapitate Jose Mourinho tomorrow when they host his shit-housing-extraordinaires. We have to keep up the pace, there’s no room for dropped points and that sort of pressure is hard to deal with.

It’s going to be very tough tomorrow against Southampton. You have a group of players who are under a new coach who is far smarter than Mark Hughes, so there’s an extra level of intrigue there. We also have a very old defence that is so worrying, you’d have to imagine even Southampton will fancy their chances. We could be rolling out with Hector, Lichtsteiner, Monreal and Koscielny. Two of those haven’t rocked a 90minutes in a while.

It’ll be very interesting to see how Emery deals with that. Do we sit slightly deeper to avoid counters, or do we just play the way we have been all season and try and drop them in the second half after going a goal down? I’d imagine there will be a tactical consideration here, because it does feel like we’re very exposed.

There are some rumours that are being fueled by Auba’s Instagram that suggest we could counter the age issue at the back by fielding Zech Medley. The U23 defender came into the side midweek and impressed in the second half. It’s risky, but these young players need game time if they’re to progress, and there’s no better way to know if a player can handle the pressure other than utilising them in an emergency.

Mesut Ozil will be back in contention for the game after a being out for a few weeks with back spasms, so we’ll see if the coach fancies him in the first team so soon… I’d imagine he’ll be benched and eased back into the first team. Aaron Ramsey is available again, which is great news. I do wonder if he’ll continue to be benched. We all want him to play, but it doesn’t make sense to get the fans used to his presence if we’re going to try and bin him in 3 weeks time.

There’s also the big NLD game that’ll be on the players minds. Spurs in the league cup on Wednesday is technically not as important as Southampton, but it’s huge one for the fans. How hard is Emery planning on going for that game? Is his priority #top4… or a trophy at any cost? So many decisions to be made!

Finally, just a few other items I wanted to check off.

People bringing Ashley Cole into the Sterling row are desperately revising history. He was an absolute darling of Arsenal football club until he betrayed Arsene Wenger in a shady backroom deal with Mourinho which he claimed was accidental. His book quotes were an abomination and a total embarrassment even for a mollycoddled footballer. Factor in the countless PR gaffs he brought on himself… like cheating on his wife with a hairdresser.

“We started having sex then he just rolled over and vomited on the floor all over the cream carpet, it was disgusting.”

“He had some mouthwash then jumped back into bed. We started having sex again but his mates piled into the room.”

For most men, that’s game over, so I have to give him credit for plowing on and being a solutions-oriented kind of guy… however, when you’re married to the most famous woman in Britain, you really can’t complain about bad press, especially when you sell your wedding to gossip magazines for a £1m.

Oh, he also shot an intern with an air rifle from 5 feet.

ALSO: Pavon and De Ligt being linked to Arsenal. Unrealistic, but damn exciting regardless!

Right, enjoy the game, I’ll see you in the comments.

P.S. I ran into an original Le Grove commenter in a New York laundry yesterday. The world is a small place when you’re a gooner!

970 Responses to “Premier League debut mooted as defensive worries mount”

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  1. Bamford10

    Good little assertive run from Iwobi. Good finish from Mkhitaryan. Doesn’t mean the former has quality, though. He doesn’t.

  2. useroz

    What a header from 16.3 yards!! First run down the byline by Monreal.

    Wot a fucking tackle or Auba slipped from 2 yards???

  3. Dissenter

    Iwobi is SHIT
    Iwobi is SHIT
    Iwobi is SHIT

    I have caught the Iwobi bug. I am now one of you. I am free.

    How did Auba miss that?

  4. Leedsgunner

    Mkhitaryan making the most of the Christmas gift from his teammate Iwobi…

    Aubameyang robbed at the very last minute, if that tackle didn’t go in, that would have been two.

  5. Dissenter

    People lining up to defend missing a tap in two yards from goal.
    Even Auba doesn’t know how he missed that. He is still wiping the egg off his face as we speak.

  6. gambon

    Chelsea winning 2-0

    Absolutely can’t afford to draw this game.

    Also, some goal difference is desperately needed cos our defence is utter shit.

  7. Dissenter

    “I think we’re going to try and sell Ramsey in January, that’s why we’re using him sparingly.”

    If you were Ramsey, would you let Arsenal sell you six months away from a. major pay day?
    If I were him, I would fail the medical intentionally. Ramsey is leaving on a free transfer in June. The club owes him that much.

  8. Rambo Ramsey

    “Even Auba doesn’t know how he missed that.”

    He missed because the ball never made it to his feet.

    Or it could be because he was distracted by the handsome Iwobi.

  9. TR7

    Mikhi has done reasonably well since he has joined us. Granted he has not been at the top of his game but he has shown his quality in patches. His movement is very good and is one of the very few players who can link up well. Needs to show more composure though. My sense is having Laca in our side will help him get involved a bit more.

  10. gambon


    I think the idea of sitting on the bench for 6 months will motivate most players to explore a move.

    Also what if he gets a serious injury a week before the season ends.

    Bang goes the pay day.

  11. Dissenter

    Being “dishonest and silly” is pretending that the Auba miss is 100% a good defensive tackle.
    You intentionally prefer to see it from one angle because it suits your agenda.
    Look at Auba’s reaction after the miss – he was embarrassed as he picked himself up. He knows it was a missed opportunity but you only saw the defensive tackle didn’t you?

  12. China1

    The club doesn’t owe Ramsey a thing. They’ve been paying him all these years

    Even if you selectively forget all the poor performances and lack of discipline that cane with his good games and goals – it wasn’t charity. He’s an employee who has been paid handsomely. We don’t owe him a thing

  13. Dissenter

    How did Iwobi let Ings score sop easily
    Oh Iwobi
    Oh Iwobi
    Why can’t you defend that corner?
    Why can’t Iwobi cross like that?

  14. China1

    Man kos has been culpable for both goals in the same way

    I love him and he’s rusty and all but he losing every cross to his man

  15. useroz

    Kos again. V poor positioning.

    Lic not challenging enough.

    Too fucking easy

    We made So’ton a CL team.

    Stench of Wenger creeping in.

    Too much crap and crab football

  16. Cesc Appeal

    The attacking midfield is non existent again. Emery needs to grab fucking hold on someone at the club and get them to sign some good attacking midfielders.

    Torreira as a CDM should not be our best and most dangerous player on the ball. The act that he is in most every game is just ridiculous.

    Lichsteiner is hurting us big time as well, his distribution is shockingly bad.

    Switch to a back 4 and push Xhaka into the midfield.

  17. Zfree

    Great another defender injured. Koscielny is so finished and the clubs inability to see that from the moment he went down last year is unfortunate

  18. Dissenter

    You need your achilles tendon for a good vertical leap.
    Southampton have done their homework well.
    Emery has a shit sandwich to deal with.

  19. Bamford10


    No, you’re being dishonest. The defender made a brilliant sliding tackle from behind and Aubameyang never touched the ball.

  20. Marko

    If anyone thinks that Koscielny, Monreal and Mavropanos returning from injury is going to sort out the defence think again. Signings and only signings will improve that mess

  21. China1

    Dissenter no need for sarcasm because iwobi hasn’t been good at all either.

    I know you’re making a point about him being a scapegoat but you might want to save it for when he isn’t playing crap

    And I say this as someone who doesn’t hate iwobi at all

  22. Paulinho

    “You need your achilles tendon for a good vertical leap”

    He’s been awful in the air the moment he arrived back in 09.

  23. Cesc Appeal

    This really is pointless if every time Southampton hoof it to the ST Kozz just falls asleep and lets him get the leap on him.

    Means we can concede at anytime.

    Fuck me this club is going to be busy shoveling out the shit over the next few transfer windows.

  24. Danish Gooner

    Kos has been done as a top rated defender for a long time Ozil and Laca in the second half wil do the business and i bet you Unai knows.

  25. Paulinho

    Overall no power or dynamism at all.

    Guendouzi sleep-walking again and Aubameyang and Mikhi continue to be infuriating in terms of decision-making.

  26. Cesc Appeal

    It’s not just Lacazette we need its someone who can actually control play in the attacking midfield. We have no one who can do that!

    Unless its a quick little one touch pass or running onto a through ball our attacking midfield is pretty useless.

  27. Alexanderhenry

    Not a surprising score line bearing in mind tiredness, injuries and squad depth but there’s a long way to go in this game.
    Ramsay and laca on second half.

  28. Marko

    Kos has been done as a top rated defender for a long time

    It’s true. He’s been shit for a solid 2/3 years at least. Monreal was our best defender and that’s not saying much

  29. China1

    My problem with us buying in January is the conversation appears to be about stop gap experiences options.

    I don’t see the point in that kind of signing at this point in time. We need a world class beast at CB for years to come and a stop gap option won’t change that tho it will eat into whatever our transfer funds are for one at a later date

    I’m not saying we need to spend as much as Liverpool but VVD is looking like a fantastic monetary investment right now and the goals conceded stat is there for all to see

    There’s no point us paying 15m for some 30 year old stop gap when we probably need to pay 50m for the right 24 year old

  30. Dissenter

    I agree that Iwobi has been in shocking form
    I was trying to make a simple point that the abuse was over board. Someone jumped on him for not dribbling past three players that boxed him in the 3rd minute and proceeded to conclude that he was shit.

    Iwobi shouldn’t even be starting based on form.
    Ramsey should be starting.

  31. Rambo Ramsey

    Iwobi and Mhki are absolute jokers. We see this game after game after game.

    Please, please, please can we play Ozil and Ramsey. Whatever the issues, these two are 4 times better. Atleast.

  32. TonyD

    Let’s see if Ozil really fancies getting stuck in. He’ll get kicked off the park such is this Southampton team and poor ref.

    Rusty or not, Kos looks to have lost more than fitness from his injury.

    We’ll do well to win this but I thought we’d more likely get a draw before the game

  33. useroz

    Bellerin is injured… sub

    Iwob / Mikki…. one sub. (ideally both but Bellerin is off)

    We need our attacking play sorted asap. Formation ought to change.

    Laca needs to come on. Who else?


    Both goals conceded with only 1 So’ton player in the box and 3 of ours. WTF is going on?

  34. gbolahan

    that defence was gon to concede….. I think we need a goal out of nothing player someone that makes magic happen nobody like that in this team

  35. Bamford10

    I’m not saying Koscielny or Lichtsteiner are free from blame on their second, but Redmond had way too much time and space to pick a pass from just outside the 18.

  36. Cesc Appeal

    It’s becoming more and more clear the club needs to do some serious buying and selling in January.

    It’s not a matter of ‘if they can’ they have to.

    Difficult choices need to be made and we need to bet on our future.

    We lack pace, work rate and technical ability in this squad.

  37. Dissenter

    This season was always a given struggle
    There was too much mess to clear out and I’m not sure that we pursued defensive options as aggressively as we should have done.

    Our defensive is aging, too many oldies around.

  38. Marko

    My problem with us buying in January is the conversation appears to be about stop gap experiences options.

    Lichtsteiner and Sokratis were stop gap but I agree we need proper investment finally at CB and stop fucking around with what is the most important area on the pitch

  39. gbolahan

    only one player in the box and we could not defend one man in the box… we have to sort this defense out and I dont see us winning this after that second goal conceded

  40. Samesong

    but Redmond had way too much time and space to pick a pass from just outside the 18.

    Bamford that’s been the theme the whole first half. Guendouzi is not picking up the runner behind.

  41. Nelson

    Kos is not ready. The first goal, he should head the ball. Instead he tried to kick it. The second goal, he mis-timed his jump.

    Auba missed already two chances. When the ball is passed to him by Torreira, he just waited for the ball to come. If he moved one step towards the ball, the defender needed to fault him to get to the ball.

  42. Dissenter

    I would leave Mykhi on and just have Lacazette replace Iwobi.

    We are the kings of the second half.
    This game was always going to be a difficult.

  43. Marc


    We need a CB, a CM to play alongside Torreira and who can create a bit more / add a bit of penetration and a wide player.

    Can’t see us bringing in 3 in Jan though.

  44. China1

    In the past I’d think this game is a certain fuck up and it might yet happen but this is the new arsenal so we might yet win this

    Just watched replays of that first goal and whilst kos was certainly at fault, so was xhaka

    Kos was covering the front post (not very well) because when he looked over his shoulder 2 seconds earlier, ings was right next to xhaka.

    Kos runs to the near post and fucks up, but xhaka who could see ings drop him and break in between them didn’t even bother to chase him, leaving him to kos who was never trying to mark him

    That’s a stinker from both players

  45. Cesc Appeal


    His passing today has been woeful, really has put us on the back foot too often.

    Either too heavy or too light and often targeting players surrounded by Southampton players.

    I would say he’s been the only poor signing the new lot have made, at least he cost nothing.

  46. gbolahan

    we need creativity to get the ball to aubameyang…… I will have prefer ozil to iwobi and I am nigerian intelligence over that fucking hardwork we all talking about

  47. Jamie

    “Licht is sub-standard too, people gloss over his ineptitude with garbage talk about his leadership and aggression.”

    This. And his positioning when he’s been deployed as a CB is totally amateur. Mustafi was physically pushing into position the last time they were 2 of a back 3.

  48. Cesc Appeal


    The club have to decide what they’re doing, because Emery as Neville said is getting everything out of this lot.

    The defensive players are substandard aside from Sokratis and Bellerin, there is not a CAM fit for purpose and there are no wingers.

  49. WrightIsGod

    Need four at the back and an extra man in midfield.

    People hating on Iwobi forget he’s on far better form than Mikki. Mikki just happened to benefit from a bit of quality from Monreal ( and Iwobi) down the left hand side.

  50. DaleDaGooner

    Aubameyang hasn’t been any good, as is Guendouzi who seems to have no power holding the ball. The whole team isn’t up to it right now. But to be beaten in the air 2ce is telling on Kos and Lichtsteiner

  51. Bamford10

    The 6’5″ Medley might have been a better selection today, even if he is young. He has looked quite good when he has played, and our older guys are looking their age.

  52. Leftsidesanch

    As I said before I didn’t have a good feeling about this game. Its tough for us at St Marys and our defence is utter trash let alone having one out of sorts/past it cb available.

  53. Dissenter

    The supporter groups need to make public demands from the club until they refute these rumors of a restricted transfer budget.
    We need some serious money to rebuilt the defense

  54. TonyD

    ‘It’s becoming more and more clear the club needs to do some serious buying and selling in January.’

    To be fair Cesc it’s been clear for a couple of months. Back then you could see Emery had got the most out of those who could change/up their game.

    Holes need to be filled all over the pitch, so need to start buying now with a CB, Winger and CAM.

  55. gbolahan

    that first chance aubameyang miss could happen you dont expect the striker to have 100 percent strike rate but there is no creativity in our team and mhki is no ten forget that goal he scored

  56. Pierre

    Very difficult to play decent football at any level when you have a referee who is ignoring blatant fouls by the opposition……the referee is not up to the task .

    At one point in the half there were 3 late tackles within 30 seconds and he chose to ignore them all.
    Will guarantee you that one foul by an Arsenal player will be followed with a card.

  57. Alex James

    Speechless again. The virus of the later Wenger years is still dormant. Soton are a poor team, and we just cannot afford to keep losing to sides like this.

  58. China1

    Laca is a hard requirement at half time

    Dunno the Bellerin situation, but if he is ok then a second half time sub for either iwobi or mikki works for me.

  59. DaleDaGooner

    This is a must win, but I don’t see it happening with our defensive options at the moment. Aubameyang has to take his limited chances. He runs away from the ball, Laca needed

  60. Cesc Appeal

    But it’s going to be hard if every time Southampton hoof it into our box Kozz decides to deliver Ings a header chance on a plate.