by .

Well hello my darlings, are we ready for some Arsenal goodness? I think we are.

The BIG night is finally here. I can hear the famous tune. Eurooooooopa da dah da da daaahhhhh!

The main meal has arrived piping hot after the Champions League starters. Unai Emery back on the couch with his comfort blanket. Mikel Arteta is out to avenge the competition that gave him the covid. OGS and Brenda ready to rep the Premier League. Antonio Conte’s stunning syrup back in the spotlight.

Arsenal needs a win tonight. Italy is the away leg for us. We need to score. We need a clean sheet. We need to impose ourselves on this competition like a VAR ref imposes on an Arsenal decision. Ruthless, standout, and maybe even a little unfair.

It sounds like we’ll see a pretty strong team. This is an extremely important backdoor to the Champions League. We can’t afford to go light in the name of rotation. It’s a cup run until the end of the season in all competitions.

Our big fear? Mikel pumping Willian in the media.

“What he is doing, the way he is training, the way he is working and the way he is pushing to give everything at the team, is what I demand. Whether he is more or less successful in the game is another matter. It will come, with the quality he has.”

My word nothing would stink out the pregame discourse worse than Arteta rehabbing Willian over Martinelli or Pepe.

He’s gonna do it though, isn’t he?

Let’s live in a dream world for a minute. A world that was focused on the future.

Wouldn’t it be nice to see Gabriel through the middle? Leading the line? Terrifying Benfica with his dogged pressing? I’d like that.

Imagine this. Arteta gives with Gabriel but takes with Willian. Betting that perhaps, Gabi joy will drown out Willian misery? Imagine if Willian scores… the joy of a goal, coupled with knowing that’ll secure him a 10 game run in the league.

Oh man, I am really not looking forward to seeing him on the team sheet.

Things I am hoping for.

  • Minutes for Balogun
  • Odegaard continuing to feel his way into the squad
  • Return of Pablo Mari or Cal Chambers
  • A continuation of our exciting performances in the league.

Just gonna leave a short one today because typing is real tough right now… before you leave, check out my first appearance with the guys from the Touchy Gooners Podcast. I am a big fan of their work, you should subscribe, and make sure you watch the below.



Jump to comment form ↓

  1. Le Sauce

    There is no big tune for Thursday night Pedro …except of course we get to win it. We definitely need to impose ourselves like Riley and gang imposes penalties against us.

  2. Le Sauce

    I’m willing to wager Willian scores a hatrick with two assits to boot. You no nothings have no idea that we get the Brazilian Mbappe in training then Spongebob squarepants on match day.

  3. AFC Forever

    Looking forward to the game.

    Hope we stay clear of injuries and the boys enjoy themselves. Will be good to see some of the fringe players who helped us storm the group stage with our 100% record.

  4. DM

    Question – is the away goal rule still gonna be in effect for this tie? And if so, why? I don’t like the rule at the best of times but surely it can’t be justified when both teams are away for both legs!

  5. AFC Forever


    “Question – is the away goal rule still gonna be in effect for this tie? And if so, why? I don’t like the rule at the best of times but surely it can’t be justified when both teams are away for both legs!”

    Yes it is. Daft but so too is making us travel all over Europe to Italy & Greece during a Pandemic.

  6. DM

    AFC Forever

    Thanks, yeah I just looked it up before you’d answered. Really don’t get how they can possibly justify keeping away goals rule with no home team and no fans! What’s the bet we go out on away goals again

  7. Batistuta

    We have to take the competition seriously, no fringe players like he did against Southampton in the FA Cup. We have a chance, yes there are good teams left in it but on our day we are a good match for most if the teams still left in it.

    We’ll lose to city anyway on Sunday so put out as strong enough team as we can get out there.

    Benfica aren’t hat they used to be but they’ll be quite dangerous.

    I want us to win the Europa league, that’ll more than make up for the poor season we’re having in the league

  8. AFC Forever


    I beleive they wanted to keep it the same as every game and not mess with the format. You would think that as we are in a pandemic they would decide not to send all the players and the support staff all over bloody Europe! Common sense would have been a winner take all one-off game. What’s even more annoying is we’ve got all this travelling and zero recovery with Man City & Leicester waiting.

    Look on the bright side, no PGMOL Northern Town assassins to contend with!

  9. Rich

    Pedro out for 3 weeks out from blogging, with an alleged paper cut on his pinky

    Really it’s wankers cramp, paper cut on his pinky was the best he could come up with in the moment

    Now all the other bloggers laugh at him, and have nicknamed him Sick-Note

  10. AFC Forever

    With the away goals rule, it would be a good idea to bang a couple in tonight. It will also be another chance for Odegaard to get minutes, looking forward to him getting up to speed. Let’s hope Otamendi & Vertonghden dont leave their foot in, certainly don’t want any more unfortunate injuries.

  11. Savage

    Willian has been underperforming though – I agree with Arteta that there’s a better player in there, but how long do you keep trying to make it work though?

  12. AFC Forever

    Right ladies and gents enjoy the game. The trolls will be out soon as it’s matchday so I’ll give it a swerve tonight. Let’s hope the good guys put in a performance and continue our fine Europa League form. No injuries please and let’s hope the Turkish referee isn’t friends with Mesut. Enjoy.

  13. Radio Raheem

    Unchanged from the weekend, quite surprised at that. Take it we’ll change up for City, Europa League our priority.

  14. Northbanker

    Apart from Luiz, I’m pleased about tonights team. Lets aim to win the Europa Cup – another trophy more than Spurs and ticket to CL. Just hope Willian doesn’t play. That is a sackable offence

  15. Radio Raheem

    Aretha’s got no excuses not to get into the latter stages of this competition. The two previous managers before him did and without having a year to practise.

    Sociedad totally played into ManUre’s hands with their high line. Weird way to approach manure especially you’ve got veterans in your side.

  16. TheLegendaryDB10

    Arteta is totally wedded to think Willian can succeed. He really can’t see that Willian doesn’t care.

    I think William is taking Arteta for a ride. I wonder at what point MA will realise this?

  17. Gazzap

    Tierney not starting. I can only assume he’s still not fully fit despite being on the bench. Arteta clearly feels he cannot handle 90 minutes. Cedric being right footed can be a problem in certain situations. But he’s always committed.
    Very attacking team tonight. Expect play to go end to end. Not sure that will suit us tbh.

  18. Rich


    A manager saying something nice about his player in public, and somebody he still has to work with, shouldn’t come as a surprise

    Willian hasn’t started a league game since the 2-1 loss the Everton on the 19th of December though

    He started both the FA cup games, but got hauled off after 66 minutes against Newcastle in the 3rd round

    Arteta’s faith in Willian doesn’t seem as strong as you seem to think it is…..

  19. Winthorpe

    He’s not starting Holding, Pepe and laca? Interesting
    I did say I hoped he played his strongest team. Not sure omitting those 3 is our strongest
    I hope it works

    Doesn’t bode well for Pepe
    It’s a fucking shame how he’s treating that lad but if we win I won’t complain.

    Ok, I will. I think Pepe needs to play

  20. Vickingz

    Suffice to say we now stand no chance against city on Sunday. Is there any reason why laca is being frozen out? Pepe, martinelli???

  21. Anonymous Commentator

    If taarabt does a worldy I will be miffed.
    Not gonna lie I wanted us to sign him last season cause he had been adapted into a DM and was knocking off the highlight reels.

  22. Zimmie2652

    Jesus, did the announcer just say that it’s the first time since 2018 we’ve named the same team in consecutive matches?

  23. Zimmie2652

    I want to go out to my shop and bandsaw my ears off every time she talks. So monotonous and obvious at all times.

  24. Anonymous Commentator

    Wish odegaard chose a different option on that break.
    we’re looking up for it just have to guard from complacency in defense.
    Worst case scenario we draw this game, can’t see us losing this leg.

  25. MidwestGun

    We have a different commentator here.. not sure who it is. Just the one dude though.

    Vertonghen been sitting on Saka…. think Saka will get round him one of these times.

  26. BacaryisGod

    This is a risk on Arteta’s part. The plan is clearly to have a lead heading back to The Emirates where we can rest some players I like the risk.

  27. TheLegendaryDB10


    Nothing to do with Leno.

    The number of times the defenders don’t clear it and do something silly by giving it away.

    I am impressed by that well built up counter-attack and would like to see more of them.

  28. Chris

    “ Auba does his usual and shits his pants when the pressure is on”

    Like in the cup semi final and final last season?

    It was a shocker of a miss but to pile it on him because of that just reeks of you having a personal dislike of him, which is obvious to everyone, Don.

    Let’s hope he puts the next one away. It’s been a fairly bright start from us, but just need that calmness and intelligence in the final ball.

  29. Anonymous Commentator

    Observation, whichever side saka plays on he improve the attacking play of his fullback partner.
    Bellerin been tidy going forward today linking up with him.

  30. Dissenter

    There’s a reasonable case to b e made that Auba doesn’t fo enough.
    He’s only good for his goals and when he ‘s missing chances like that against a good side, then he deserves that type of stick.

    That was a tap in..he missed it woefully.

  31. Chris


    Nobody is disputing it was a bad miss, it was awful. But guess what, every striker misses sitters, it happens.

    He scored a hatrick with a fresh attacking midfield line up behind him, best to look at the potential of that before reverting to old criticisms.

  32. Winthorpe

    Thank you dissenter

    He’s not worth the money in my opinion. No good him scoring tap ins against your Derby’s and your Newcastle’s if he goes missing on the big nights

    He scored vs city and chelsea and I was shocked
    Then he got the contract and he reverted to type
    It’s also an observation of mine that he seems to turn up more in warmer weather.

    Fair weather player. Good time guy. Doesn’t show up when the chips are down. He’s another ozil
    A cherry on the cake olayer with only one skill. No different to xakha only Aubameyang’s one and only skill makes him more prominent.

    I said all week he’d go missing tonight
    I’ll eat my hat if he turns up second half. And no, a tap in after ESR and Saka run the opposition ragged doesn’t qualify as him turning up
    He’s our Van nistelrooy
    Only van nistelrooy was far far far superior

  33. Samir

    Auba doing a poor job of holding the ball up.

    Auba doing a poor job when he gets 1 on 1.

    Auba doing a poor job scoring tap ins.

    I also feel for Martinelli…Why isn’t he getting any game time?
    Pepe strings some very good performances together in a row and is dropped?
    Poor management.

  34. Winthorpe

    ChrisFebruary 18, 2021 20:35:12
    DissenterNobody is disputing it was a bad miss, it was awful. But guess what, every striker misses sitters, it happens. He scored a hatrick with a fresh attacking midfield line up behind him, best to look at the potential of that before reverting to old criticisms

    One word

  35. Anonymous Commentator

    Pepe needs to come on for ESR in second half, game isn’t open enough for both ESR and odegaard to be on the pitch.

  36. Useroz

    I feel zee passing lacks a bit of sharpness, not as direct and at times takes one touch too many. Up the tempo. Benficar isn’t a team oozes pace…

  37. MidwestGun

    I don’t think we are disinterested.. just not quite as sharp as needed in final pass. And Benifica has done a good job of clogging middle. And lets face it we should be ahead.

  38. Anonymous Commentator

    Man we just can’t find a finish today.
    We’re moving the ball forward well it’s just not coming together for the finish.
    This is the type of game Martinelli would love, he would knick one no doubt with the way we’re getting into their box.