GAME DAY BLOG: PROPER EUROPEAN FOOTBALL STARTS TONIGHT

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.

COME ON YOU GOONERS!

784 Responses to “GAME DAY BLOG: PROPER EUROPEAN FOOTBALL STARTS TONIGHT”

Jump to comment form ↓

  1. Anonymous Commentator

    He put Willian on again.
    He has 2 gk’s on the bench.
    Took ceballos off instead of xhaka.
    Cedric came off instead of bellerin.
    Waited too long for subs.

  2. JOEL

    I have to agree with Gazzap…”Negative…boring….no tempo…no ambition”…I would like to add that these are the foundations laid down by Arteta and as long as he remains at the helm of a job that is way beyond his talents…then Arsenal will continue in this vein!!

  3. Winthorpe

    And yet again our £55m 350k pw “captain” turns up and seals a vital win for arsenal
    Oh wait
    Oh no
    That’s not it
    He went missing again
    Auba has cost us the game.
    Why am I the onky one to call this shit before it becomes a problem?

  4. MidwestGun

    I can see why Arteta started with same lineup.. bunch of players out of sync.came on late but it didn’t pay off with enough goals in first half.
    So now basically we just kicked our Europa League progress down the road.. at least we got an away goal.

  5. Chris

    Let’s look at it clinically. 1-1 ‘away’ against a dangerous opponent who admittedly didn’t look that sharp. We have the ‘away’ goal and had the measure of them most of the game. Yes we should have won had we been more clinical but I feel that shows how much we have improved in recent weeks in our general play. We are in a good place to go through to the next round, on to the next one.

  6. Dissenter

    Arteta’s in-game management is shoddy
    Was he seeking a draw here.
    Benfica have the advantage now because every goal they score against us next week will have more weight.

  7. Winthorpe

    Anonymous CommentatorFebruary 18, 2021 21:51:25
    He put Willian on again.
    He has 2 gk’s on the bench.
    Took ceballos off instead of xhaka.

    Ac

    Yeah
    That was our problem
    Xakha
    Where do you people come from? How do you convince yourselves you know what you’re watching?

  8. SWG

    Also.. 2 keepers in the squad and no room for Balogun? Is he injured? I think this could be the actual final straw if not injured. Or maybe his future elsewhere has been decided already

  9. Jim Lahey

    The last 20 minutes of that game was some of the worst football I have ever witnessed.
    If I ever have to watch Gabriel, Xhaka and Luiz passing the ball around to each other ever again I think I will be physically sick.

  10. Anonymous Commentator

    Winthrop
    There is no way you’re about to defend that horror show from xhaka.
    There’s just no way.
    Ceballos was twice the player he was for that match and he got taken off when the win was still in sight.

  11. Dissenter

    I don’t see us beating Benfica next week in Greece.
    It’s probably going to be a scored drawn and that favors Benfica

  12. Chris

    Benfica hardly crashed a thing other than want we have to them and scored from a penalty. Not sure why anyone is convinced they will definitely score next week.

  13. TheLegendaryDB10

    We had some really good moments in the 1st half, decent ones in the second. We missed opportunities to score when we should have.

    Will that bite us back in the arse?

    If we were going to the Emirates? I would have said yes!

    Away in Greece? I am not so sure. But I hope we do.

  14. Aasim

    How bad was our passing game today. Bellerin, Saka, esr, KT, all horrible. And auba was also completely off. The whole vibe of the team also looked off. Weird

  15. Winthorpe

    Anonymous CommentatorFebruary 18, 2021 21:57:27
    Winthrop
    There is no way you’re about to defend that horror show from xhaka.
    There’s just no way.
    Ceballos was twice the player he was for that match and he got taken off when the win was still in sight

    Ac
    Tell me how xakha cost us that game. Go on. The pen that never was? The sitters our wonderful “captain” missed?
    I’m Gary linekar. No I’m not pretending to invite a fake refugee into my house
    I’m all ears

  16. Paddy+Gooner

    Xhaka made a lot of good tackles in fairness, but the play across the back was so slow. No pressure from Benfica, Xhaka had time to make forward passes, but kept going side to side

  17. Anonymous Commentator

    That Willian fetish came back for arteta, he was so close to not using him for a game I was gonna be so proud of him, but soon as ceballos is taken off and willian is on for odegaard you just know he’s playing for the draw.

  18. Emiratesstroller

    What a putrid game.

    Can anyone please explain the game plan tonight. It was one pace square and back passing all night. Even then the passing was poor.

    There was a complete lack of ambition tonight.

  19. Winthorpe

    The GodfatherFebruary 18, 2021 21:55:47
    What pictures does Chaka have off Arsenal coaches to keep getting time on the field.
    He is a thorough scrub

    Another one
    How did xakha cost us victory tonight? Mommas boy

  20. Dissenter

    If Arteta knew he was going to doggedly persist with Willian, why not insist that Nelson go out on loan.

    Those last 6 minutes could gave gone to the likes of Nelson.

  21. Pierre

    I would rather our striker has the chance to miss than have zero opportunities as was the case earlier in the season.

    All strikers miss chances , the fact Aubameyang had 3 one on one’s tells me that he did have the desire to keep making the runs to get behind the defence .

    His finishing was just a bit off , that’s all.

    I’d be more concerned at how we became sloppy in possession in the 2nd half, we would have been punished agaiinst a team like city if we kept giving the ball away like that.

  22. Winthorpe

    Paddy+GoonerFebruary 18, 2021 21:59:56
    Xhaka made a lot of good tackles in fairness, but the play across the back was so slow. No pressure from Benfica, Xhaka had time to make forward passes, but kept going side to side

    Paddy
    Instructions
    Why do you think they keep picking him? He does what he’s told

  23. MidwestGun

    E-Stroller.. I think we basically rolled the dice to try and win it first half.. Second half was a mess. And the last 10-15 mins I have no idea what that was all about.

  24. TheLegendaryDB10

    Anonymous Commentator

    I really think Willian has a clause where he has to play a number of games. I just hope it is only for this season.

    Otherwise, yikes!!! We have another Ozil on our hands…. but worse!!! He has to play!!!!

  25. Thank you and goodnight

    In fairness i only saw one angle replayed and to me it looked like a penalty. But even if it wasn’t, the fact was because we fucked around in our own box, conceding a soft fucking corner, which a minute or so later led to their penalty. How many times are we going get caught out, fucking about with the ball across our back four over and over again.

  26. Winthorpe

    Tyag

    What? What the fuck are you talking about? It’s a. Penalty because we fucked about in the box? It touches ESR’s chest/hip and then his side. He can’t do anything about that. It’s called ball to hand. Legit football rules. If you don’t understand that then let’s not talkS the game isn’t for you
    Ball-to- hand

  27. Anonymous Commentator

    Winthrop

    Poor passing from xhaka.
    Too slow with this passes too.
    Passing across the penalty area, I know u12’s coaches that would be fuming seeing any of their players doing that.
    Sloppy tackles putting us under pressure.
    Getting skinned by taarabt regularly, so lucky that he was taken off.

    I never said that xhaka cost us the win, that one sits firmly with arteta and his indecision when it comes to making subs at the right time.
    But there is no way I’m going to just ignore Xhaka stinking up our possession and defence.

    Did we win? You’re ready to defend one of the worst midfielders I’ve ever seen in arsenal colours like we got the win regardless of him.
    This was a poor match tonight, not helped by our manager and his taking 2 goalkeepers on the bench, what type of 1 in a trillion scenario is he prepared for with that selection when we could have had literally anyone else on the bench instead of KJH who would never get minutes anyway.

    We should have set ourselves up for a very easy home leg next week but instead benfica will now be dangerous opposition ready to score away goals against us.
    This is not a good result today. The win was there for the taking, could have no doubt scored 3 goals today putting the auba chances aside.

    Auba btw, another player that seriously has to consider what his ambitions are here at this club. We set the table for him and he fluffs his lines like he’s channeling sanogo.

  28. Pierre

    Stroller
    “The chances missed is one thing, but the quality of the football played tonight was unacceptable..”

    I thought in spells we played some good football, if Aubameyang had his shooting boots on we would have won by a couple and fans would be eulogising a out our quality football..

    To be honest , our worst spell was when smith rowe ansd Aubameyang went off and we had no one making clever runs off the ball or in behind the defence.

  29. Paddy+Gooner

    We are missing leaders on the pitch. Auba as captain isn’t it. Bellerin isn’t the player he was, defo not Xhaka or any of the midfield tonight. Luiz? Holding? Tierney maybe, but has to stay fit. Don’t know enough about Partey yet to know if he is captain/leader material. We don’t have anyone to grab the game and the players around him.

  30. Jamie

    Xhaka is a 5 out of 10 player.

    Much like the ‘vastly improved’ Elneny.

    Nowhere near the required standard for any top club. Mid table players.

  31. Thank you and goodnight

    @Winthorpe

    If we hadn’t conceded the corner the penalty would never have come about. As for ball to hand, or it hit his hip, I said from the angle I saw the replay at it looked like it hit his hand. So yes, even if it shouldn’t of been a penalty, it’s our fault for giving them the chance to attack us by conceding a soft corner when we should of just cleared our lines

  32. Winthorpe

    Ac

    Fair enough man
    I’m too tired to unpick it
    Arteta clearly instructs this boring back passing football

    But he doesn’t ask auba to miss sitters or miscontrol easy passes that fat cunts on hackney marshes can control
    I can’t wait til he’s gone
    We finally get rid of ozil and now we have auba and Willian

    One step forward, two steps back

  33. Words+on+a+Blog

    Arteta’s @“safety first” football from November/December 2920 is back.

    Players -including ESR- instructed to pass back and slow things down.

    Footballers playing as if they’ve had a couple of strong sleeping pills.

    If it continues it’s gonna cost Arteta his job.

  34. Pierre

    Windthorpe
    Return leg , at least 2 goals for Aubameyang….guaranteed.

    Their high line defence is there for the taking.

  35. Emiratesstroller

    Pierre

    You must have been watching a different game to me if you thought we played some good football.

    It was one paced, constant back and square passing and far too many misdirected passes.

  36. Dissenter

    Benfica were very poor today and we should have put them to the sword.
    That’s why I have my reservations about us winning next week. They were this bad and we still didn’t beat them in a neutral ground.

  37. Winthorpe

    Tyag

    What are you talking about? It either got his hand or it didnt? If it didn’t then it’s not a penalty? Blame Aubameyang
    Blame Arteta
    Don’t even try to blame xakha

  38. Paddy+Gooner

    Willian. Every one I spoke to said he was a great player to get, but I was thinking wtf. Why? We didn’t need anyonrs else in that position. And 3 year contract ffs. Auba, on the other hand, was totally understandable. He was on great form, and had always scored. No one could have predicted its firm this year.

  39. Thank you and goodnight

    @Winthorpe

    I don’t blame Xhaka, wasn’t his fault we conceded a corner it was ESR trying to be clever. As for xhaka, he done a few good things tonight, like that sliding tackle in the box, but he did also play a few poor passes tonight

  40. Winthorpe

    BlackStockFebruary 18, 2021 22:17:53
    WinthorpeYou need to check the rules, only Keepers are allowed to handle in the penalty box,

    Another one who’s never heard of ball to hand
    Learn the rules of the English game before you attempt to comment on it

  41. Tom

    Whenever you raise your arm ,even to protect your face ,you give refs a decision to make.
    Soft pen but he should’ve known better. Anyone who plays with socks down should be able to take a facial no problem.

    Willian needs to play as often as possible so when in three years time Arsenal are in CL final, he’ll be ready to do his part…………..whether that might be.

  42. Kroenkephobe

    The last 15 minutes were curious. Both teams sitting back playing for a draw. We clearly have a slight advantage with the away goal.

    It reminded me a bit of that Austria v West Germany (as was) game at the 78(?) wc where both teams needed a point to qualify at the expense of Algeria.

    passing was awry throughout but I think we’ll have enough for them next week providing there’s not a confidence sapping setback on Sunday.

  43. Winthorpe

    TomFebruary 18, 2021 22:23:24
    Whenever you raise your arm ,even to protect your face ,you give refs a decision to make.
    Soft pen but he should’ve known better. Anyone who plays with socks down should be able to take a facial no problem.

    Tom
    No
    No
    No
    No
    If it hits your chest/hip/side then it shouldn’t matter wether or not your arms are raised
    They didn’t even analyse it at half time. They just accept the corruption. When do you ever see this shot go for an English team?
    Have any of you ever played football? Do you understand the rules? Have you only just discovered the game?

  44. Winthorpe

    But we aren’t talking contact, which is a whole other conversation I can’t even be bothered with. We are talking a penalty for a ball hitting a players body

  45. Rich

    That was really painful to watch

    We were so slow playing it out the back

    Like watching paint dry

    What’s Lacazette + Holding done to find themselves on the naughty step?

  46. Winthorpe

    How is someone so incompetent continually allowed to decide such important sporting events? He’s the mr bean of the sporting world. How is he taken seriously? Is it filling quotas? What is it? Why is this not questioned? Why are our own fans defending this travesty of a decision?

  47. Thank you and goodnight

    @Winthorpe

    Well their you go then, I thought it was a penalty, and the replays sky showed close up, you can see Saka was clipped. But the angle the ref was shown by var was from a distance where you couldn’t see the clip so ref (wrongly) didn’t give it.
    Now it’s same thing for me tonight, the stream I was watching only showed one replay, and from the angle it showed it, it looked like it his hand as you couldn’t see it hit his hip first. That’s why it looked like it was a penalty to me, I didn’t have the luxury of different angles.

  48. Mark

    @Anonymous

    He put Willian on again.
    He has 2 gk’s on the bench.
    Took ceballos off instead of xhaka.
    Cedric came off instead of bellerin.
    Waited too long for subs.

    Exactly what I said to my mate. Also if we were 2 or 3 up , you would have seen Willian a lot earlier.. Subs made so late in the game, doesn’t he realise he can affect the match with subs?

    Why Auba tried to use his left foot instead of his right, is why he missed that sitter. Needs to just keep it simple. Really poor miss!

  49. Tom

    Kroenkephobe

    It was 82 WC and I think Germany needed to win for both to qualify leaving Algeria out.
    None the less it was a disgrace but it was FIFA’s fault for not having the last group matches played simultaneously.

  50. Pierre

    We created 5 or 6 CLEAR CUT chances , so obviously we must have done something right.

    The miss by Aubameyang first half from a cracking move involving bellerin and Ceballos.

    A miss by Ceballos in the first half right in front of goal from Odegaard pass , superb intricate football.

    Our goal…a superb ozilesque ball from Odegaard to cedric for a saka tap in …superb football.

    2nd half .
    .slide rule pass for Aubameyang to shave the post with a shot.

    2nd half ball behind the defence for Aubameyang who failed to get his shot away .

    Not bad for a team that played negative sideways football.

  51. Winthorpe

    What’s Lacazette + Holding done to find themselves on the naughty step?

    Rich
    Spot on
    And Pepe
    All very good for weeks and this Lego haired Momg just comes out with this??

    I called it before the game
    Auba was gonna have a stinker
    Go back
    Read my comments. Either one of ESR or Saka neeeded resting too
    Lacazette Pepe and holding should have started
    I’m sick of Arteta
    Pedro thinks he’s cleaver. He’s not. Delusions of grandeur
    Arteta is psychologically impaired. He can be the rain man of tactics til the cows come home and hell freezes over. His ego will always prevent him from reaching the top
    I’m calling time on Arteta
    Done with him
    I’ve seen enough
    Dropping Pepe Lacazette and holding for this game
    Guarantee they won’t olay Sunday either

  52. Anonymous Commentator

    willian must have a clause in his contract that he plays every game.
    i don’t understand what he was going to add to our play this game, even in theory.
    at least elneny, in theory, is going to make us more defensively solid.
    putting on lacazette instead of willian would have been more ambitious no? martinelli and laca full of energy in the final minutes of the game? that’s dangerous for the opposition.

  53. Winthorpe

    Tyag

    Sorry man. I don’t follow. It wasn’t a penalty tonight. And quite frankly neither of sakas appeals at the weekend were penalties for me either. But at least I’m consistent. These refs aren’t. They will give shit decisions agaisnt us time and time and time again
    They need to be intimated
    That’s how chelsea and United did it and it worked

  54. Nelson

    I like the formation. But the team is not fresh. Some passes were late for a second or two resulting in offside. For the other cases, Auba missed the net or tried to stop the ball instead of shooting. I also find Saka plays better with ESR closer to him. We can’t keep playing Saka and ESR every game. They need a rest to recharge. They didn’t look sharp today.

  55. Anonymous Commentator

    we should have 2 attacking units now.

    auba
    pepe – esr – saka

    vs

    laca
    martinelli – odegaard – nelson

    but of course nelson can’t get any minutes at all cause willian has naughty pictures of arteta or soemthing.

  56. Matt

    Watched the game on catch up which was a blessing because I could watch most of it in fast forward. What an utterly dire game of football. So often our default is to look to pass the ball backwards.

    Good to see Aubamayang back to his normal self…

  57. Winthorpe

    Tyag

    Look at how many unfair decisions are given agaisnt English clubs in crucial European ties as well as national tournaments I’ve watched it happen over 3 decades
    This isn’t a blip

  58. Thank you and goodnight

    @Winthorpe

    Yeah you could be right about that. I do think they don’t like the English much. Especially in international tournaments, they can’t wait to get rid of English team and fans. Which is a bit unfair as their are some fans of international teams that make our fans look like girl guides

  59. Anonymous Commentator

    tyag

    the odegaard thing is difficult because we should be considering the chemistry between saka and esr.
    i trust odegaard’s ability to unlock that second attacking unit because he has weapons around him in the form of martinelli and laca, and the boy is quality.
    we have a chance to finally have 2 functional attacking unit’s with him in the squad and we can rotate seemlessly.
    perhaps some games odegaard starts instead of esr and they rotate like that.
    i just have an impression that we can have 2 very dangerous attacking units with a rotation plan that involves playing saka and esr together.

    but i expect arteta to stick with esr out wide and odegaard as the 10 cause he’s proven to be a manager that doesn’t like switching things up if they worked on an occasion.

  60. Winthorpe

    Tyag

    The fans are a different argument
    I’m taking about corruption. These decisions are so common place they aren’t even questioned by commentary any more
    It’s just accepted
    I actually miss keys and gray
    They told it how it was

  61. Thank you and goodnight

    To be fair how can we ask officials not to be corrupt or cheat when players do it all the time. What’s the difference in a player diving to win a free kick or penalty? Personally I think it’s just as disgusting as a bent ref. You go watch any age group at football nowadays and they are all diving about screaming as if they’ve been shot. It’s just wrong. Fuck me when I was growing up we didn’t even wear shin pads ffs. And we never rolled about on the floor like today’s kids.

  62. Anonymous Commentator

    the rule makers of the game are secretly encouraging divers, and so we get the likes of mo salah looking like he’s been shot any time he can make his leg contact an opposition player.
    utter bizarrity that he gets those calls and people expect the integrity of the game to be maintained.

  63. Pierre

    AC
    “but i expect arteta to stick with esr out wide and odegaard as the 10 cause he’s proven to be a manager that doesn’t like switching things up if they worked on an occasion.”

    True
    It’s a bit of a conundrum for Arteta .
    Odegaard is obviously a quality player but smith Rowe’s game suits the CAM role, plus he has a superb on field relationship with Saka, they have a telepathy in their play together that is a rare commodity.

    I’d like to see saka esr and Odegaard alternate positions during a game .
    I’m sure they are all intelligent enough players to switch about.
    At the moment they all stick to their positions which makes them easier to contain.

  64. Zacharse

    We were bad
    Benfica were worse. Not worried about next leg but shit if all our starting xi are fit we do stand a chance against most of these sides

  65. S23

    Diappointing result,but we dont yet know this is going to turn out,e may trounce Benfica in the return or end up blaming tonights misses.
    I really dont get Arteta’s thinkings-surely Auba looked tired,because he played a high octane game against Leeds.
    Surely,the smart coach will let him get his hattrick and sub him off,how much better can it get for him after that,it saves him for tonight,gives valuable minutes to whoever comes on and prevents the possibility of an injury.
    I cant understand the timid backwards and square passing,I did enjoy Cedric telling Gabriel to clear his lines.
    Hopefully come Sunday,when we blow City away we will all be praising Arteta for the genius he obviously is.
    My main worry here,is Saka being sold for about 65 million to balance the books and his frustration at being a thorough bred running with some donkeys.
    So fingers crossed,we are on the way up!!

  66. TheLegendaryDB10

    I agree with Pierre @ 22:36

    We made some very good attacking moves, in particular that counter from the back (in the 1st half) where we went straight to their box but Cedric made a horrendous cross and messed up the move.

    We ended up on a draw, but it was at their home, which gives us an edge (small I admit, but better than nothing.

  67. MorgyC

    First time poster

    A tough game to watch no doubt, but was MA playing it safe before the weekend? A loss here and the City game is a foregone conclusion – a win and we get over confident. We’ve got a mountain to climb this weekend, but City know nothing new about us following this game. Could MA have something up his sleeve taking Aubameyang off and not playing Lacazette?

  68. Nelson

    AC
    “we should have 2 attacking units now.

    auba
    pepe – esr – saka

    vs

    laca
    martinelli – odegaard – nelson/Willian”
    _____________________________________________________

    I would switch up Aubc and Laca. The Saka/ESR attack is based on combination play and Saka’s ball carrying skill. Laca can enhanch this combination.
    Auba’s game is waiting for services. Ødegaard’s through ball is ideal for that. I wouldn’t mind find out how Willian plays next to Ødegaard. If he still can’t produce anything, then he is really good for nothing.

  69. Nelson

    It is also preferable to play ESR the ACM position than the LW position. As a LW, he’ll have to defend a cross. You don’t raise your hand to defend a cross….

  70. Nelson

    I wonder whether our Iron man, Xhaka will feature this Sunday. I don’t think he is tired at all. Ceballos was doing all the running for him.

  71. Anonymous Commentator

    i understand switching auba and laca, i’m just skeptical of the collective technical ability in the second unit with him as a part of it so i would put laca there as some technical insurance.
    i would say, for big games, that the attacking unit from the last 2 games should be played, unless auba’s hat-trick was a false dawn, in which case start laca instead.

    i really hate being so dependent on player form instead of player quality but this is where we are right now.