by .

I’ve been writing for a few weeks that the two most important games of the month would be the Southampton game and the United one. Last night, we passed with flying colours, beating a top 8 contender in fairly convincing style.

Arsenal switched back to their strongest 11, bar Gabriel who was out for Luiz, Tierney who was deputised by Cedric, and Auba who continues to miss action for reasons unknown.

Things started badly, Lacazette missed a one-on-one after 50 seconds, two minutes later we were done by an outrageous corner, Nicolas Pepe dozing on the edge of the box, Armstrong smashing home with a first-time finish.

We clawed our way back fairly quickly though. Pepe turned hero after Xhaka released him inside left, he used his body well, held off a strong challenge and bounced his shot off the ground high enough to fizz past the Southampton keeper.

Saka made it two. Lacazette made up for his early miss, guiding a Xhaka pass into Saka’s path. ‘Star boy’ broke the line, rounded the keeper and slotted home to make it two.

Our third was started by Cedric who switched play to Saka with a stunning pass. Bukayo took over, finding Lacazette at the back post for a tap-in. Amusing that Laca was writhing in agony by laughing at the same time after hitting the post with his body.

So what did we learn? Same thing we have done every week since Chelsea. We have a really exciting first team and when they play we look really decent.

What we learned today is there are a few surprise packages coming to life when it matters. Nicolas Pepe created five chances in the FA Cup game we lost, I thought he was fairly drossy in that game, but many cited the lack of a #10 to play with. We have to commend his performance tonight. He made a difference, he was a threat, and he put in a shift defensively. I’m not sure he’s good enough, but what he did last night was way better than we’ve been seeing.

Cedric was elite all game. Arteta reckons fitness has been the problem. Well, whatever it was, he’s showing his talent in the best of ways. He’s very efficient on the ball, he works like a demon, and say it quietly… he has a bit of sauce to his game. I was very impressed with him last night. Maybe he’s about to come good?

It goes without saying the Saka IS the sauce. It’s chilli sauce. He’s the little chilli because they pack the most flavour. Since the Chelsea game, he’s popping up with numbers. He’s an incredible talent and we are VERY lucky to have him at Arsenal getting better game after game.

Also, small shout for ESR. He didn’t land a goal or an assist, but he’s a class act. Brilliant movement, great work ethic, and an unpredictable game that makes him very difficult to play against. I love his first touch. What I love even more is how fast he moves the ball or makes a decision. He has a very simple game, executed efficiently. Just what we needed.

We have a HUGE game coming up this weekend. OGS has United purring. Rashford, Martial, Fernandes and Pogba are all buzzing… so it’ll be a very tough game. Wouldn’t it be magic if we could do some damage in that fixture?

Right, short post. Listen to our on-the-whistle podcast and I’ll see you in the comments.

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  1. China1

    The prem isn’t necessarily the highest quality league each year (sometimes is tho) but it’s clearly the most entertaining

    Juve have won how many titles in a row in Italy? The Bundesliga has been won by Bayern in something like 20% throughout all of history which is a truly miserable stat. The French league belongs to PSG. La Liga belongs to Real and Barca. At least in England we can’t be 80% certain who will win the league before a ball has been kicked. That’s not the case in any other league except Spain where you can be 90% certain it will be one of two teams. Very bland

    The other stand out point of the PL is games are more exciting because of the high tempo.

    But truth be told in some seasons the Prem teams aren’t particularly good. Except for Liverpool last year, no one was ‘serious’. This year I’m not sure anyone is serious. We’ll see how it turns out in the second half of the season as city look resurgent, but if they don’t maintain this it will have been a pretty poor showing from all the big teams this season

  2. Spudnik

    This sauce sounds better: Yuzu kosho
    Made in Japan from the citrusy zest of the yuzu fruit, chili peppers and salt, this tangy paste is ideal for adding a kick to oysters and eggs. It comes in green or red depending on the type of chili used, and is great for marinating meat or as a dressing on soba noodles.

  3. China1

    Midwest you can’t statistically compare teams across leagues that easily but it’s still interesting to look at

  4. Pedro

    China, England has the best league in the world.

    Nearly every other league is dominated by one big team.

    We have more money, fairly distribute, which makes every team a credible threat. No other league boasts that.

    Madrid and Barca can dominate their league because they take all the money at the cost of the rest of the teams being pretty shite. Same in nearly every other league in Europe.

    The Premier League is stronger. Factually. It’s not a debate. We might not always have ‘the’ best team, but we always have the best league pound for pound. It’s more entertaining because it’s more competitive with a higher caliber of player.

    Absolute jokes that anyone would suggest Italy comes anywhere near England. La Liga is pony outside 3 teams. Germany the same.

  5. Tom

    The worst part about Bundesliga and League Un is that Bayern and PSG can have pretty much any player who’s not necessarily inclined to go abroad, but still wants top wages and a shot at major trophies.

  6. Zacharse

    5 points off champions league. Ozil gone, youngsters starting, mari and cedric showing class, pepe showing…something resembling talent.
    Must be strange for all the ‘fans’ who want teta sacked and the whole squad sold. 🤣

  7. Valentin

    This season thing may be slightly different.

    At the beginning of the season, most people predicted ManCity-Liverpool for the title and by the look of thing it is ManCity title to lose. So Competitiveness is relative.

    In Italy for the first time, there is genuine competition and nobody can predict how the top 6 will finish.

    In France, there is a small group of teams that will push PSG a lot further than previously: Lille, Lyon, Monaco, Rennes. I still expect PSG to finish 1st, but I doubt that people are certain the order for the other teams.

    I think that both in Italy and in France, the mentality of accepting defeat to The main club has changed.

  8. China1

    Pedro the truth is in spite of us having the best league and sometimes the best team, there’s an awful lot of meh in the PL in any given season. Most years one or at most two of the big teams show up and totally wreck the league and the rest of the league are all varying degrees of ok-poor. In many cases the reason why weaker teams appear to often take scalps of big teams is because the big team is having a poor season

    On paper most of the teams that beat us are a fraction of our size and it looks impressive on paper – but as you well know, in general arsenal have been an extremely average side for years now. The same is true of man utd. Chelsea haven’t been good since conte’s first season. City were at best ‘good’ last season. Spurs are horribly overrated every season despite being a complete irrelevance to the title and only ever being relevant in Europe once.

    A very large overstate of PL games are fun to watch but really very low on meaningful quality.

    Don’t confuse entertaining and not dominated by 1-2 teams being the same as being high quality and balanced. It’s not really

  9. China1

    When you stop to think about it it’s very unusual for the prem to have 3 team challenge for the title in a single season and in many years there won’t even be two credible teams

    The key thing that makes the PL more interesting is which team wrecks the league cycles from year to year and isn’t known before a ball is kicked – but look at any season in isolation and it tends to consist of one totally dominant team or at best two, much like Spain.

  10. Tony

    I rated MO before he went to RM and felt that MO would suffer lack of game time at RM unless he brought elite form to the starting 11 hitting the ground running. However, as with Barca and other top elite clubs and new elite-in-the-making young players’ they often falter in their first season or 2 at elite clubs.

    Often is the case for Ajax/Leipzig/Beyer etc young players who take time to settle into their transfers. Look at the Chavs and their latest signings of Werner and Haverz.

    There is no doubting MO is what we need player quality wise, and it’s a shame MO doesn’t have a week to train with the squad for the United game Saturday.

    United losing to SU should get our tails up for a win Saturday and time for Arteta to build on recent wins, but it will depend on Arteta’s team selection and tactics.

    Arteta is slowly turning the naysayers around and Saturday’s game will go a long way to getting more fans on Arteta’s side – if we win or get a point.

    I initially backed Arteta against my better judgement to give MA the chance to prove himself over his first year. However, when we landed near the relegation zone all of the concerns I had for MA being a rookie manager and learning the ropes at a cheque book club became proven.

    I’d say at this point the players are digging Arteta out of the hole MA dug himself where beating United will be a big step forward.

    I see Arteta is facing his ultimate test over the next 6 games; he’s still got the dressing room so let’s hope MO is the answer to fast transitions to the final third with quick balls into the channels and penalty box.

    United will be a good test, but perhaps too soon for MO and where a win for us will be dependent on Arteta’s team selection.

    If Arteta plays Willian, Luiz, Arteta and Pepe on the right wing instead of the inside left position we will lose and the naysayers will gather pace no matter what the rose tinted spectacle ,blog wananbe moderators ES, Tee, AFC, Bergkamp63 et al say from their fluffy bunny land and who forget this is an opinion based blog where people have different views.

    For me the jury is still out with MA. He’s still making youth players’ selection mistakes, such as with Balogun and Azeez etc and in-game management errors.

    I’ll wait for the next 6 results before nailing my colours to the Arteta mast or wanting MA moved on.

  11. China1

    He may yet come good but I always said with Werner I never quite got the hype. His numbers looked awesome in Germany but every time I saw him play he looked very average and I couldn’t see where those numbers were coming from. Same when I e seen him in the national team, the times I’ve watched he didn’t look like an international for an elite team.

    Not entirely surprised to see him struggling

  12. Goobergooner

    Arteta still has a lot to do to prove that the project is the correct one to take us to the ‘top’ (in my opinion, and you can freak out if you want to that statement, I couldn’t care less).

    What he has finally started doing is playing attacking football.

    That win against Southampton was one of our best games to watch, while still being defensively a little suspect.

    Leno for all the stick he got when we sold Martinez is showing some great form. He has kept us in the game (or kept the momentum on our side by denying an equaliser) more times the last few seasons than any keeper we have had the last 10 years.

    Saka really is an absolute gem. ESR takes our game to another level. I am so stoked the youngsters have come through and taken their chances so dominantly. Martinelli, and in my opinion Willock should see more game time. Willock moreso a loan but I think he can stake a claim next to Partey in the years to come.

    Wtf was the go with xhaka? 2 solid throughballs in a matter of minutes. He really does play better when his first thought isn’t about being the last line of midfield. Partey was picking up the scraps, and xhaka was getting way further forward than usual and it really played out well. Credit to xhaka! (Still dislike his face and he needs to be benched or sold and replaced in the 11 by better)

    Laca does link so damn well with actual movement and intelligence around him. (Sorry Auba😂).

    I was mentioning last season pepola should have been playing on the left. He can make decisions quicker in terms of crossing or linking up; and he can still use his left boot to shoot from left of goal as shown. Getting in that inside left channel he can do some damage. He had already been sussed on cutting in from the right and shooting.

    Overall, we have come through a real dark patch with a run of form.

    In saying that, we are still below par. And we only progress when we get better than Emery and Arsenes last seasons. We are a top 6 squad. We just aren’t a top 2 squad yet. Edu and Arteta can keep on the same route (barring Willian) transfers wise and we will look a lot better this time next season.

    Like I have said, I want Arteta to prove me wrong. I’ll eat my hat/words and tic tok it to you all when Arteta wins us the league.

  13. Goobergooner

    There will be a proper balance between attack and defence when
    1) xhaka is upgraded upon and Partey is the new guys partner;
    2) Luiz isn’t in the 11;
    3) Pepe either pulls his weight and man’s up a bit in defence and press (his abysmal effort for defending their goal was seriously bad to watch);
    4) Bellerin is either subbed for Cedric or sold and replaced by better than Cedric/AMN;
    5) Leno can release a lot earlier which he was doing last match; and
    6) we have a player that belongs to us to compete with esr (in terms of having rotational options to keep our style of play.

    (7 we need a Giroud like striker to change shit up a bit)

  14. Tony


    “But in saying the above, martinelli left and saka right will reduce the need for Pepe”

    I’ve always thought Pepe’s best position focus is freedom with the old inside left/right positions where he player against Southampton and was showing signs of what’s locked inside Pepe that generational coach Arteta is supposedly good at bringing the best out of players ala City’s Sterling.

    Problem is Arteta has had Pepe for more than a year and only found Pepe’s best position in the last game and probably more by luck than judgement.

    Say’s more about Arteta than it does Pepe and I feel there is a lot more to come from Pepe if he’s coached right.

    Over to Arteta then.

  15. Goobergooner

    He’s got to play good enough to warrant keeping, but bad enough that rm don’t want him back and sell. Then he can explode for us next season 😂😂

    By the way where are you from Sherlock?

  16. Goobergooner


    We will have to see how Pepe is utilised from now, his ‘better’ performances have come from the left in my opinion.

    I think it was Weagle or mid west saying that you can count the number of good Pepe performances on your ears.

    He isn’t shit. But he is 100% a counter attacking player. And his pressing is bang average. We already work around xhaka to build the tactics and formation. Can’t do it for both to fully utilise them.

    We have definitely picked up the pace on attacking impetus, so let’s see what we can do against United.

  17. Pierre

    If i know Arteta..

    Pepe won’t start at the weekend.( if Aubameyang is fit)

    Odegaard will never play in centre mid.

    The team will always play/start with 2 holding midfielders.

    If Tierney is fit , Cedric should be moved over to right back…I’m goung to say that he will start cedric at right back as it is very dificult to leave him out of the side.

  18. Graham62

    Let me get this right, some fans are saying just because English teams are getting knocked out of Europe by supposedly lesser teams, the EPL is weak.

    I hate MU more than any other team but let’s get Leipzig playing in the EPL win in week out for a few months and then we’ll see how they perform in Europe.

    The English games structure and demands goes against teams when they play in the CL and Europa League. Whereas the PL and FA are not flexible and offer no leeway, abroad it is the complete opposite.

  19. DivineSherlock

    I think Ødegaard will leave Madrid , until Zidane’s there . At the end of the day he simply wants to play more. He is seeing players his age playing for big clubs like Haaland , his norwegian teammate . Just hope Arsenal make an attractive proposition to him and Madrid in summer.

  20. Captain Tierney

    Emmanuel Frimpong who moved from City to Celtic for 250,000 2 years ago has now been sold to Leverkusen for 13mil or something. City will recieve 4 mil from this deal.

    We also need to do deals like this for our U23 players who aren’t going to make it at Arsenal but could become good football players. Malen, Jeff are some of the players that come to mind.

    Of the current crop of players I’d say Osei-tutu, Trae Coyle, Ben Cottrell, Akinola could fit into this category.

  21. Graham62

    Henry 19

    Different times, different structures.

    Watch the European leagues closely and you’ll see how much effort is taken these days, by their governing bodies, to ensure that their teams perform to their optimum level.

    The EPL don’t give a flying fcuk.

  22. Chika

    I’m wondering which group of people are in the best place to actually confirm the competitiveness of a league. Fans, punters, pundits or players and coaches who have actively competed in different leagues?

  23. Graham62

    Henry 19

    Sorry but you don’t seem to get it.

    Look at the domestic fixtures of the top teams in Europe prior to the crucial CL ties in recent years,

    Games played earlier. Hardly any huge games ie Barcelona v RM / BM v Dortmund or Juventus v Milan etc.

    Quite often they can put out reserve teams and rest their better players.

    It’s been that way for about twenty years,

    Haven’t you noticed?

  24. Graham62

    I’m not being biased here, all I’m saying is that, for the most part, European teams are better prepared.

    Brexit teams aren’t.

  25. Kris


    38-year-old Jagielka bossing it against league leaders.
    Elite league my ass. 😁

    Chelsea the epitome of Premier League – lots of money, little class

  26. Graham62

    The EPL would prefer to make an extra £100m( from the Far East) by televising a Liverpool v MC game on a Sunday at 4pm, knowing that both teams have crucial games in Europe on the Tuesday or Weds, rather than think I know, let’s play the game two days earlier to give the teams time to prepare.

    It is a massive disadvantage to the Brexit teams.


  27. Sid

    The strongests EPL teams are owned by foreigners so claiming the EPL is the strongest compesates the hurt feelings/egos of the English.

    Im telling you for free!

  28. shaun

    yep Tony completely agree , browsing through the papers this morning Ian wright seems to think ESR and Partey were both cramp related substitutions which is a relief , I am still not convinced by Arteta but was swayed by others and at the end of the day I really want arsenal to succeed or at the very least be respected. onto the manu game , like yourself I am of the opinion if he starts willian we loose that’s how bad that guy is playing at the moment and the same goes for Enketiah , Auba should be back but I would be very tempted to start with Martinelli out left think we start Gabriel as well , Luiz was trying hard to give the saints a goal on Tuesday night. The right back slot would be AMN or Cedric for me . bit concerned about Holding as he really doesn’t like playing against Rashford so he is going to need help other than that I would leave it alone so we have plenty of game changing weapons on the bench. I would also give Eddy a complete rest as he is not doing it at all at the moment . I would like to see balogun at least get the action from the bench and be given at least a little chance

  29. Goobergooner

    Only thing I’ll say Shaun is that if I was swayed by people on here rather than what I see, I’d be rimming Arteta with a good old reach around happening right about now.