SEASON DEFINING GAME AWAITS, DO ARSENAL HAVE THE SAUCE?

by .

Arsenal takes on United in a huge game that is going to go some way to deciding the fates of both teams this season.

If United win, they’re in the title race, and this will be a big moment for them after their dismal loss to Sheffield United in the week.

If Arsenal wins, it’ll cement us as contenders for Europe. Beating Southampton was massive, but it means very little without beating United. This match also sets the tone for a very rough run of games. Leeds, Wolves, Villa, Leicester and City will define if we make the top 6. I feel more confident than I did a few weeks ago, but let’s be real, this season has been very, very hard to predict, so who knows what is coming.

The only thing we can control is how we play.

The squad is in very good shape at the moment. Big players are back in the side. Arteta has found a formula that allows us to attack with swagger without opening ourselves up to decimation. We’ve moved away from the grey clouds that have been dampening our season.

The last time we played United it was a drab affair. Arteta was high off ‘fine margins’ and we shithoused OGS with a tactical masterclass. We didn’t really create much though. The game was won on a penalty, then it all went to hell for us after.

I think the game this weekend will be different. United might have been taught a lesson by Sheff U, but make no mistake, they’ll come firing on all cylinders against us. They have a dreamy selection of attacking players to choose from. Paul Pogba is in form, Rashford, Martial, and Fernandes are always a nightmare to deal with. If we leave ourselves open, they will punish us.

The main difference this time around is we’ll have a fitter Thomas Partey available (prays). That gives us a world-class platform to build an attack from. Last time around, we used Mo Elneney to great tactical effect. Will he be used again to keep some of United’s more vibrant players quiet? Partey’s partner is going to be key.

Attack wise, we now have a plethora of talent to choose from.

If that above picture didn’t turn you on in a footballistic sense, then you are the problem.

I don’t know if Auba is going to be ready for Sunday, regardless, we have great options. ESR, Saka and Gabriel M should start. That’s a wave of energy most clubs aren’t used to seeing from Arsenal. We should really be getting at the United centre backs by stretching them with pace and fast passing.

Defensively, I’m not sure how we’ll line up. Who is our starting centre back partnership? David Luiz dropped 3 howlers in the last game and he’s not built for pacey players. Gabriel has been shaky and hasn’t landed a lot of minutes. Pablo Mari has been out. It’ll be a big decision as to who players. Hopefully, Tierney is fit, that gives is more pace, and great delivery. I’m not sure I’d fancy Cedric at leftback, regardless of his great form.

This is going to be an exciting runout. It’s a huge game for the Arteta project. The good news is we’re going into this game with a bit more confidence. There’s still something to play for. Let’s see what we have.

Finally, before I go, let’s ask how Spurs fans are feeling about Jose as their head coach?

I said last year Arsenal fans would be happier come February than Spurs fans.

Was I right? I think so. My Spurs pal messaged me this.

‘If I win the euro millions I’ll donate the lot to sacking him and his backroom team. You just know he’s going to win the Coca  Carabao league cup thing and bag himself another year. And I will take no pleasure in that.’

3 attempts at Liverpool’s goal last night. His title-winning attempt this year has landed him… 3 points ahead of our total novice overseeing a shit show of a season with a far lesser squad of players.

Whose fans are more excited right now? Which vision of football do you prefer? Would ANYONE prefer Jose in the dugout earning £15m a year complaining how shit his players are?

I did not think so.

Plenty of work to be done at Arsenal, but we’re on a better track than Spurs.

See you in the comments and please, do tell me some more about how ‘elite’ Jose still is.

P.S. CLICK THIS VIDEO BELOW. I spoke to Haider and Ciaran about the United game. Two top United fans doing Youtube video RIGHT. Enjoy… leave a little thumbs up on the video.

233 Responses to “SEASON DEFINING GAME AWAITS, DO ARSENAL HAVE THE SAUCE?”

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  1. Foxy

    I will be really worried if Bellerin is at RB as he will get skinned by Rashford that is if he is actually in position in the first place. Cedric would be better but in an ideal world an in form AMN would be best due to his greater strength.

  2. Up 4 grabs now

    Morning, game day against united and feeling quite confident for once.
    United need to not lose today for a club record.
    Since they bribed Mike Riley all those years ago to stop the invicibles hitting fifty, nothing would give me more pleasure than turning them over today.

    I do think we need to go for the slightly cautious approach though.
    No gung ho football unless we’re losing with 20 minutes to go.

    Would rather see big mo and Thomas in the middle despite xhaka having a couple of above average games, you know he’s getting ready to drop a usual xhaka performance any day now.

    Keep Fernandes quiet and you win the midfield.

  3. Tony

    We turned them over at OT albeit not comprehensively but enough to leave MU players with some doubt/confidence going into the game.

    We also been through a steep and painful learning curve – the type that makes you stronger from the survival fight.

    We’re older, wiser and more confident with more collective belief in each other on the pitch.

    To win we need to u up another gear with the tempo of our game and show Maguire up for what he is; bang average.

    Arteta has all the tools in good working order to craft a win at home today.

    By tomorrow Arteta will have earned another stripe being the hero or villain being justifiably torn to pieces here for whatever mistakes he made.

    Like some here I just have a nagging feeling we will get the 3 points and Arteta will deserve the plaudits.

  4. Dunchirado

    The way arsenal fans are talking this days, Someone might think we are playing Fulham or Westbrom. Some are already carried away because of arsenal form and Man Utd last match

  5. alexanderhenry

    Pedro

    Things are definitely looking up. I was clinging on there with Arteta for a while, but he’s starting to show some nouse. 3-2 arsenal for me.

    Also, you’re quite right about Mourihno.
    He’ll always divide opinion and yes, he’ can get a job done , but even when you look at his successful tenures at chelsea, inter and madrid- playing deathly dull, percentage football with squads made up of the very best money can buy, and consistently disregarding the ‘omerta’ rule of never criticising players or your employers in public, makes him an overrated, nasty little prick.

    He won’t last at spurs and won’t go graciously- good.

  6. I hate Green Bay

    Some teams are so vile and evil that they invite unconditional hatred. Obviously Green Bay, but also Dallas, Tottenham, the Celtics, the Kings and the Red Sox.

    And Manchester United. Its their fucking sense of entitlement that Ferguson bought and it hasnt left.

    They werent always cunty, I think they got relegated in 1974. Back in the sixties I would often go and watch them just to see George Best. Dont think Ive seen a better player, such a shame there is so little footage of him. (Go into youtube and type Georhge Best goal v Tottenham)

    In those days there was no protection whatsoever, the only attribute that you needed to be a central defender was to be a thug, Best got the shit kicked out of him every week, im surprised he didnt end up crippled.

  7. Nelson

    Today is a reality check of Arteta’s system assuming that we can field Tierney. Partey, Martinelli and ESR. I prefer Martinelli’s work rate than Pepe’s unpredictability. It may also come down to game management depending on whether we are leading or trailing with 25 mins to go.

  8. bacaryisgod

    It’ll be interesting to see who we might rest tomorrow. Other than Leno, here are out most minutes played for January (6 games). Here are our most likely ‘red zone’ candidates.

    Xhaka: 528 mins -played every minute of every game except Newcastle in the cup where he played 60 minutes

    Holding: 468 mins-has played every minutes of the last 4 games. This will be his 5th game in a little over 2 weeks.

    Saka: 448 mins: Has played in all 6 games this month but at least only played 36 mins in the cup loss on the 23rd. He should have been given the day off though. It will catch up to him.

    Luiz: 407 mins: Didn’t play on the 23rd. Should be fine.

    Cedric: 404 mins: Played every minute of the last 3 games over a 9 day period.

    Lacazette: 400 mins: Played in all 6 games this month but played just 22 mins on Jan 23rd. He will need a rest soon.

  9. Rich

    Arsenal Premier League record since 2016/17

    𝗠𝘂𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗳𝗶 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗲𝗱
    95 matches
    52 wins (54.7%)
    1.84 points per game
    1.21 goals conceded per game

    𝗠𝘂𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗳𝗶 𝗱𝗶𝗱 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗿𝘁
    77 matches
    34 wins (44.2%)
    1.55 points per game
    1.29 goals conceded per game

    Statistic via Whoscored

  10. bacaryisgod

    Of all the managers with an elite pedigree of trophies at top clubs, Mourinho might be the only one I would flat out refuse to have come to Arsenal. I don’t care how much Amazon sanitized him in their documentary, he’s as toxic as they come and just watch his behaviour spiral now Kane is out.

  11. bacaryisgod

    Rich

    Not sure if you remember, but Bale went winless in his first 24 games for Tottenham. This is such a dodgy statistic because it doesn’t account for a multitude of factors. .

  12. Graham62

    Rich

    Interesting to find out what teams he did and did not start against.

    Maybe a fair few Europa League, Kangaroo and FA Cup matches amongst those he started.

    You know, slightly weaker opponents.

    Only guessing.

  13. China1

    Rich that’s a really meaningless stat.

    Games are won by teams not individuals. As has been said there are a dozen or more factors that determine how results go.

    Arsenal have been trash during the whole period that mustafi has been here and any stat that implies he’s a major positive difference maker is purely coincidental because we’ve all been watching and seen how poor he has been on so many many occasions.

    A better question would be how would you rate all our CBs over that period? I’d be surprised if anyone even put him as high as our 4th best CB in this period

    Kos, Mert, Holding have all been significantly better. Gabriel has looked significantly better this season. The few games Mari has played he has looked good too. Luiz is similarly as dumb and error prone but also provides significantly more potential upside with good passing for the attack and being a better player on his good days.

    Mustafi is battling it out with such esteemed CBs as Sokratis and Chambers. You can put Mustafi in the same bracket until he’s proved himself over more games if you want

    He’s still miles off being a positive influence on our team.

    Let’s also not forget half of his games under arteta came when we just put everyone behind the ball. It’s a hell of a lot easier to defend when the whole team is protecting you compared with the absolute disaster classes he was shipping on the regular before he had protection

    Awful footballer

  14. Rich

    I’m certainly not making a case for Mustafi

    Just thought it was interesting, so I’d share it.

    Graham

    Those stats are just Premier League

  15. China1

    It’s actually a disgrace that he has nearly got 100 appearances with the levels he has regularly showed.

    It’s a testament to how poor arsenal has been run to give him this platform, especially considering we paid 35m up front for the privilege and high wages to boot

    Him, xhaka, Willian, Pepe, mikki, ozil, the lot of them are just horrific wastage personified

  16. Northbanker

    I really hope we don’t play Pepe. Yes he played better but holds on to the ball too long. Also I lost count of how many times in that Southampton game he was ball watching from a distance and barely got involved.

  17. Rich

    My opinion of Mustafi is, 90% of what he does is really good

    But he’s got the attention span of a goldfish, his brain farts are far too regular, and he goes to ground too often

    He lacks anything resembling composure, once he’s made one mistake, he has the capacity to turn into a mental wreck

    £35million poorly spent

    Felt a bit sorry for him though, he’s not good enough, but some of the abuse levelled at him has been vile

  18. AFC Forever

    Bojanglesi

    “I know Dunchirado. It’s bloody diabolical that Arsenal fans feel confident before a game. Hope the feeling doesn’t spread to the players”

    Lol. Positivity is always shut down on this blog. Win, Lose or draw, tomorrow will be the same. If we win it’s because they were rubbish and we will be pom pom waving fanboys for celebrating it. If we Lose Arteta must be sacked, along with half the players. So predictable.

    There is nothing wrong with backing your team, it’s not a weird science. It’s called support. A word in short supply on here. There is no guarantee about any game as history shows us. Look at Sheffield Utd beating Man Utd, West Brom drawing with City or Villa sticking 7 past Liverpool with Van Dijk in their team. Anyone who says otherwise is loading the dice.

    I think we are better than Man Utd. Definitely defensively. We are in good form, confidence is high and we have made better signings. However, they have big game players who have the ability to win games on their own. And they have VAR. They are a wounded animal but confidence will have been affected. 3 points would set us up perfectly and I expect us to put on a show today.

    Nobody can predict any result in the most competitive league in the World but I fancy us today. That shows how far we have come under Arteta.3 months ago nobody would have given us a chance. I’ll take a single goal win.

  19. Matt

    Mustafi followed the long standing arsenal tradition of mistake ridden centre backs who look like there is nothing going on between their ears yet who played far too many games for Arsenal – senderos, djorou, Cygan, to name a few.

  20. Pierre

    AFC
    Little between the teams ..

    I’m hoping that OGS leaves Cavani, Mctominay and shaw on the bench .

    Mctominay gives them more bite in the middle, Cavani is a proper striker and shaw gives them better balance..

    For Arsenal, we are looking like a decent well balanced side.
    Has to be 4-2-3-1.. Cedric must have played his way into the starting 11..
    The other 2 positions with question marks are centre half and left mid..
    If fit, i would go for Mari and Martinelli but i think Arteta will play Bellerin, Luiz and Pepe.

    Should be a good watchable game.

  21. Freddie Ljungberg

    Tierney with a slight knock being assessed before the game, don’t want to risk him but will be a big miss if he’s out.

    At least Cedric did very well as LB the last couple of games so we’re not at the mercy of AMN and his sloppy play.

    Going to be interesting how we set up today, are we going to match Man u or sit back and counter? Hoping we come out and play a bit but I’ll take 3 points however we get them.

  22. AFC Forever

    Bacaryisgod
    Can’t disagree about Maureen. When things go against him, it’s never his fault. He loses the players because he always throws them under the bus he likes to park. Horrible human as that documentary proved.

  23. Northbanker

    Rich “My opinion of Mustafi is, 90% of what he does is really goodBut he’s got the attention span of a goldfish, his brain farts are far too regular, and he goes to ground too oftenHe lacks anything resembling composure, once he’s made one mistake, he has the capacity to turn into a mental wreck”

    so it’s nothing like 90% then is it?
    I get the meaning but that is used too often to defend him and all of those factors you’ve listed mean a very sub-optimal player

  24. S Asoa

    “ Arsenal Premier League record since 2016/17𝗠𝘂𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗳𝗶 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗲𝗱
    95 matches
    52 wins (54.7%)
    1.84 points per game
    1.21 goals conceded per game𝗠𝘂𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗳𝗶 𝗱𝗶𝗱 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗿𝘁
    77 matches
    34 wins (44.2%)
    1.55 points per game
    1.29 goals conceded per gameStatistic via Whoscored “

    There are statistics and there are facts😂

  25. Rich

    Northbanker

    Mustafi can go from playing like prime Sol Campbell, into resembling Andre Santos at his worst, in the blink of an eye

    A lot of what Mustafi does is very good, and the statistics back this up.

    It’s his lack of concentration and composure that inhibit him from progressing into a very good centre half

    Which are two essential traits required at the highest level

    Hopefully we move Luiz on this summer, because he’s another who’s erraticism and concentration lets him down

    The issue with currently dropping Luiz, is that none of our other centre half’s have his passing range, or provides anything resembling penetration from the back

    Holding’s positioning has improved, as has his aerial ability, but he’s not the quickest, and his passing is range is bland

    Hopefully Saliba comes back and provides a bit of what we’re missing next season.

    Either that or we somehow spawn our way into the CL and win the race for Upamecano, who apparently has a £38mill release clause this summer, with plenty of competition for his signature

  26. Northbanker

    Rich – leaving aside the liability factor (which is a huge leave) in playing Luiz, watch his passing carefully. Yes he does have the ability to play a great long pass. Many do not find their target though. But even more important, Luiz is the chief architect of crab football – I will use 90% as you like that % and say 90% of his passes are short square balls to Holding.

    The bulk of his passing is to Holding every game he infects us with

    Gabriel by contrast looks forward and plays forward

  27. Leedsgunner

    I hope Arteta resists the temptation to play ESR and Odegaard in the same line up. We need to more than ever man mange ESR and Saka very carefully. If we want those two to last the distance please use Odegaard to take the pressure of ESR and Pepe or Martinelli to take the pressure off Saka.

    I would love a 2-0 win but I think it’s going to be a closely fought cagey encounter…. so I think a score line of something like 2-1 will be more likely.

  28. Leedsgunner

    Ideally I would love to get a million or two for selling Mustafi to Liverpool but if that’s not possible I will take Liverpool being knocked out of the Champions League, EPL title race, or the FA Cup due to Mustafi’s brain farts as compensation.

    Mustafi and Özil out the same window?

    Well done Edu..if he pulls it off!

  29. Graham62

    I would be astounded if Arteta plays Odegaard.

    Flabbergasted!

    Then again, if you play Willian when he shouldn’t be anywhere near the team, anything’s possible.

  30. Chris

    If Newcastle can hold on against Everton it will be great news for us.

    I say hold on, they have been by far the better team. Everton look very flat.

  31. Time up

    Lovely goal by Newcastle 1/0.

    How did this poor Everton side take 3 points of us. Mind you, at the time any team where beating us easily.

  32. Time up

    We should be filling up the social media with Mustafi’s positive states to get some money of Liverpool for him this January.

    To be fair, he’s not a donkey, just his rash of blood sometimes lets him down.

  33. Chris

    What we need is another 97/98 end of season unstoppable run of form!

    We were winning games with Christopher Wreh up front, great times.

  34. TheBayingMob

    “Arsenal takes on United “

    “If United win”

    “If Arsenal wins”

    This way of writing or talking about teams in this sense (“Arsenal takes on” as opposed to how we would say it in the UK and how the press would write it “Arsenal take on”) I first noticed when living in Australia. I’m not sure what is grammatically correct (and I don’t really care) but as an Englishman I’d expect you to write the latter (and we can see above you’ve flipped between the two “If Units wins” opposed to “If Arsenal win”).

    I wonder if you are writing this way because a lot of your readership is from the US or Oz and not the UK? Or whether it’s crept in because you’ve read a lot of US press?

    Lived in the US a few years now but I wouldn’t write like that.

  35. Time up

    Jamie,

    “Anyone still hot for Carlo?“

    And Rodríguez with the manager understanding his strengths and building a team to make him impose his style lol.

  36. Tom

    “Everton looked flat “ yup, they definitely do.
    Carlo got them higher up the table than they should be though.

    Iwobi wasn’t good enough for Arsenal but have been starting for Everton.
    Richarlison some said was good enough for Barca, I said he was a headless chicken and got a lot of pushback on here. He’s got one goal from open play in the prem this season.
    And don’t let me even get startEd on Pickford.

    I never wanted Carlo for Arsenal but don’t kid yourself, I’d take this Arsenal squad over Everton’s any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

  37. TR7

    Said it in summer that both Carlo and Maureen were massively overrated and I wouldn’t touch any of them with a barge pole. All this hogwash about ‘experience’ and ‘calming influence’ is just that. Both have been lucky in their career to have inherited great teams with seasoned professionals. The likes of Pep, Klopp, Poch, Conte are the real deal.

  38. Tom

    Arsenal Transfermarkt valuation – $650m, Everton – $550m
    I was actually surprised how low our was tbh but still better than theirs.

  39. Mysticleaves

    It was really only one guy that wanted Jose with another guy sitting on the fence. Carlo was much of a draw for people and for good reason too. I didn’t want Carlo but he would have done better than Arteta has done with Arsenal.

  40. Leftside

    Really is a chance for us with the topsy turvy, inconsistent nature of the season. If we can yield a healthy return from this next set of fixtures we’ll have every opportunity.

  41. Northbanker

    TR7 – Pep?? when has he managed a Burnley on a tight budget? Klopp I grant you – he took on Bayern and nearly matched them and then rebuilt Liverpool

    But Pep has taken over great and expensive teams at Barca, Bayern and City . All he had to do was sustain. I’m not convinced by any manager until they have pulled a team up by the bootstraps

  42. Northbanker

    Mystic – ‘ I didn’t want Carlo but he would have done better than Arteta has done with Arsenal.’

    rubbish – he would face exactly the same problems. Would we have won the FA Cup? maybe he might have made different decisions with Martinez Luiz and Willian for the better. Arteta however has done what he needed to do and is much more likely to be a long term fixture to build. He bought Gabriel, Mari and Partey. Would Carlo? He probably wouldn’t have had ESR any earlier cos of injury. He would still have had Martinelli s injury.

    But to assert there would be a significant difference is nonsense. Just get behind MA and stop wishing for greener pastures all the time

  43. Northbanker

    One year on from Arteta being appointed we’re in a decent position to make real progress.whatever happens tonight. There is a strategy finally merging even though mistakes have been made. I feel very confident that we’re getting many of our issues behind us and a new generation is taking us forward. We’ve also had a decent TW and Odegaard is hopefully part of that now.

  44. TR7

    North

    I find Pep to be incredibly smart in how he assesses the game and the kind of football he gets his players to play. Granted he needs top players to execute his plans but he has achieved some incredible feats in the game. He managed to reach 100 and 98 points in EPL in two successive seasons. Of course everyone knows about his famous tiki taka football.That Barca team was absolutely breathtaking. You might say they had unbelievable players but I don’t think any other manager in the world would have got them to play the way Pep did. It was sublime. Players who have played under him attest to his incredible knowledge of the game and his role in improving their game.

  45. Pedro

    ‘Carlo and Maureen were massively overrated and I wouldn’t touch any of them with a barge pole. All this hogwash about ‘experience’ and ‘calming influence’ is just that.’

    Agree.

    New post.

  46. Northbanker

    TR7 – can’t disagree with that and in some ways perhaps that shows that there are lots of skill subsets. Getting more out of a great team may be a different skill from a Dyche keeping Burnley in the Prem or a Rodgers getting Leicester into a challenging position (or the incredible feat of Alan Curbishley in keeping Charlton in the Prem for so long in 90s /00s.)

  47. Time up

    WBA, horrible to watch. There’s rumour, AMN want to go to WBA over Southampton, to improve his England chances!.

  48. Guns of Brixton

    Team to face Man Utd: Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Luiz, Soares, Partey, Xhaka, Pepe, Smith Rowe, Martinelli, Lacazette.

    Subs: Runarsson, Magalhaes, Odegaard, Willian, Maitland-Niles, Chambers, Elneny, Willock, Nketiah.

  49. Guns of Brixton

    Team to face Arsenal: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Fred, Pogba, Fernandes, Rashford, Cavani.

    Subs: Henderson, Bailly, Martial, James, Telles, Matic, Van de