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. China1

    Xhaka won’t be tired

    You can criticize him a thousand times over but there’s not a footballer alive who can be available for every match like he is lol

  2. Gonsterous

    You guys are making fun of the fact that we have 2 keepers on the bench. Wait till we injure both keepers in a game and then we’ll see, it will be Mikel who will have the last laugh then.

  3. Nelson


    Ødegaard is the ideal player to set up Auba, whether he is in form or not. You don’t split them up in two different teams.

  4. Anonymous Commentator

    Odegaard is quality but it should be stated that he hasn’t played an assist yet while 5 goals have occurred around him.
    We can move things around readily as they are right now and should be open to experimentation.
    I mean… It was Leeds lads, we don’t have to put so much stock into that game regardless of how dire the season has been.

  5. Aussie+Gooner

    Wow that was dire! Once again Arteta confirms he has no in game management skills. Benfica are a poor side and had no ‘home’ advantage. We should have gone in for the kill. The 2 goal keepers on the bench is getting beyond a joke! There are no excuses for that – it is a smack in the face for potential game changers such as Balogun, Moller or Azeez. What kind of message is that sending to them? Does no one consider the phycology of this? But I am glad Willian got his well deserved minutes under his belt!!!!

  6. Anonymous Commentator

    That’s fine and all but it isn’t exactly setting up auba, other players are doing that bit.
    Odegaard is setting up the likes of Saka and ESR, also Cedric and bellerin.
    These things can all change when we get Partey back, along with Tierney match fit, but right now the odegaard Auba thing isn’t a direct link and we can definitely find more cohesion and functionality in our selection.

    Really want to see Pepe and odegaard start a game together, but we’re at the mercy of arteta and his sometimes puzzling selection’s.
    We have the puzzle pieces, just need to complete the puzzle.

  7. Nelson

    I think Pedro starts to get nervous. Emery’s team defeats Salzburg 2 – 0 in an away game. I don’t think he bear with Emery getting one over his man.

  8. Anonymous Commentator

    If we got through this tie to get matched up with Villarreal and we got knocked out by Emery, I’m pretty sure the blog would collapse into a black hole with the sheer weight of expectation as to what Pedro would post the following day.

  9. Nelson

    There was a play at the end of the first half that really got me worry. Xhaka passed the ball from left to center where there is an opponent there. We all thought that he has stopped making those plays already. A game can easily be lost if he is reverting to type.

  10. Tony

    Just watched the game as it was 3am ko for me.
    Another typical cautious game by Arteta. Obviously happy we didn’t lose, but it was a game we should have won comfortably.

    Why did Saka leave the tap in miss for Auba early in the first half, did he get a call from Auba?
    Why sub Martinelli then shortly after take off both players most likely to give Martinelli the service he needs?
    Why didn’t Arteta sub Auba at half time or soon after? You could tell it wasn’t going to be his game before half time.
    Why not play KT to start?
    Why play Xhaka when MO could partner Ceballos and Pepe play in a more advanced role on the left.
    Why no minutes for Balogun & Azeez from the bench?

    They were the main questions I was asking watching the game this morning.

    That was a game we should have won reasonably comfortably. Instead we now have a nervy game in Athens with just an away goal in our favour.

    With an extremely tough game against City who will be a day fresher Sunday, the 2nd leg 4 days later is by no means the formality it should have been.

    The EL cup is our ticket to the CL next season, so a must win 2nd tie – all eyes on Arteta then.

  11. Tony

    Anonymous C
    It will be everyone’s fault bar Arteta if that happened.

    Pedro is so expert at being in denial and deflecting he could run courses on them.

    Aussi G
    Dire is being kind and psychology is Arteta’s nemesis.

    Arteta just doesn’t have a clue psychologically and is why his man management is non existent.

    It seems that Arteta is bigger than the club as he wasn’t fired when he should have been, and where it’s ok for Him to devalue players at a time we need to be getting the most for them. He’ll lose us millions but Vinai & Edu will have a group hug with Vinai saying it’s ok as Arteta is a rookie but learning fast.

    Simply put after 65 games in charge with the current squad Arteta should be winning games like last night.

  12. China1

    Nah I’m literally the biggest hater in the world but if xhaka ran 3 marathons in a thunder storm and got struck by lightning he’d be available for 90 minutes by lunch time tomorrow

    Literally nothing will stop him being available

    You could shoot him in the chest and he’d recover. The guy is the definition of robust.

    If only our good players could be that robust we’d be laughing but alas they are the ones who are getting injured or tired

  13. China1

    That comment about emery beating us sending this place into a black hole is hilarious and also true

    There will be riots on this blog if emery knocks us out. Riots!!!

  14. China1

    ESR needs resting against city so he can play against Benfica

    That’s a must win game more so than city.

    Some of you lot on here were saying how we should rotate heavily for the EL to be fresh for city. If we’d done that we might’ve lost last night and be staring down the barrel of another lost season

  15. Sid

    Supreme leader is banking on Diet Pep beating Guardiola at the weekend,
    that will be ammo incase Emery beats supreme leaders bae

  16. Goobergooner

    Don you Muppet.

    “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”

    You are deluded if you classify that penalty as ball to hand.

    He clearly raises his arm to protect himself, which is just instinctive.
    But that is why it was called a pen. Can’t really blame ESR for it or the ref for calling it.

    It definitely was not ‘ball to hand’ though. And here I was thinking you knew what you were talking about from all your gloating 😂😂😂.

  17. China1

    It also appears that ball to hand as a concept has effectively been killed this season since penalties are being given for blasting at point blank and it hitting players shoulders, which is impossible to stop. Utd have had a good handful of those this season

    It’s completely bs but appears to be how things are now

  18. China1

    In 2021 it appears to be a legitimate tactic to appeal for handball and request VAR every time a ball hits anyone’s upper body in the box. Anything even vaguely close to the arm even if miles away from the hand and impossible to avoid seems to be a serious shot at a penalty now

  19. Winthorpe

    Goober you bell end

    It hits his body’s first. Have you ever jumped? Once? In your life? Try to recreate the situation ESR was in and jump with your hands down. It’s a natural part of motion
    It was never ever a penalty.

    Imagine this fool expecting people to jump around with their arms downs. Likely never kicked a ball in his life

  20. Nelson

    Rich is telling me that we’ll beat those lesser team in the EPL since ” we now have 2 quality attacking midfielders ” I am confused how come we couldn’t even defeat a team playing in Portugal.

  21. Winthorpe

    In hindsight we played well. We dominated the game and created several match winning opportunities
    The positive is that we are defending really well and creating several clear cut chances every time we play. We now need to learn to be ruthless in front of goal
    The result is a harsh lesson on being clinical. Really auba should have had at least 2 and Saka should have had another.
    I also feel if we find Odegaard more often and get ESR closer to Saka we will be far more dangerous

    I’d like to see Odegaard drop deeper into midfield sometimes with ESR at 10 with Pepe on the left. He’s a goal threat however you look at it and if auba is having one of his disappearing nights we need someone else in the team who scores goals
    Be that Pepe or laca

  22. China1

    These nutty harsh handball rules are why defenders now spend half the game holding both hands behind their backs like a weird ass fish with legs lol

  23. Arsnil

    I also watched the Liverpool game and the PSG/Barcelona game of the night before and the speed and crispness of the passing in those two games was on a different planet to what was on show last night. Our speed of passing out of defence is far too slow and when the pass is delivered seems to be invariably slightly behind the receiver making them stop and adjust to pick it up. As a centre mid Xhaka takes forever moving the ball on. Seems to always have to take two touches.
    As a result the opposing team always has plenty time to set defensively before we get into the final third.
    I think we will see this defecit in passing quality clearly in our next game. We need to have much more speed in possesion.

  24. Winthorpe


    I think that’s down to Arteta’s instructions
    Xakha’ best under wenger was his ability to get his head up and hit a ball upfield early, when he had the space

  25. Pierre

    Anonymous commentator
    “Odegaard is quality but it should be stated that he hasn’t played an assist yet while 5 goals have occurred around him.”

    We used to hear similar comments about Ozil and lack of assists.

    The fact is, if a CAM creates 3 or 4 chances a game , he is doing his job.
    If his team mates do not put away the chances created , that is not the CAM’S fault.
    Odegaard’s pre assist for the goal was the pass which made the goal….should count as an assist in my eyes.

    Odegaard has similar technical qualities to Ozil on the ball but he is more aggressive on off the ball and looks like he has a hunger to make things happen in and around the box.
    The number of times he was ignored when in a good position must have been very frustrating for him.

    I’m hoping that saka and Odegaard can strike up a good onfield relationship similar to Saka/ ESR.
    This isn’t quite happening at the moment, they are not quite on the same wavelength.

    What i can see is , if the ball is given to Odegaard in the right areas , he will create the chances for Aubameyang as he runs off the shoulder of the defender..

    Odegaard has everything you need in a creative player.
    Ability to find space
    Perfect first touch.
    Perfect weight of pass

    We need to give him the ball more to get the best out of him..
    Hopefully when Partey comes in he will recognise the importance of playing the ball between the lines into Odgaard’s feet.
    Although Ceballos had a good game, he has too many touches on the ball and needs to release the ball earlier as the early pass between the lines is the pass that kills the opposition midfield.

    It is a shame that Smith Rowe has been shunted out to the left , as what we gain from Odegaard’s calmness on the ball , we lose smith rowe’s and Saka’s telepathic relationship as they are now on opposite sides of the pitch and are rarely ,if ever in contact with eachother.

  26. Graham62


    So so true.

    Anyone on here that thinks Arsenal stand a chance in the Europa League playing this style of football are living in dreamworld.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again the urgency, or lack of urgency, starts from the back with our GK. So much time wasted pussyfooting around hitting short, slow, sideways and forwards/backwards passes.
    Yes we can blame GX and some of the other outfield players but I’m afraid Leno is as culpable as much as anyone else, if not more so.

    Auba was terrible in front of goal last night, in fact it was embarrassing. After the weekend you’d have thought his confidence would be up but it was the complete opposite. He along with Saka, Pepe, Martinelli need quick balls.

    With Arteta it’s always one step forwards and then one step backwards. I mean what the #### is he so scared of? You can actually see the fear in his eyes on the touch line.

    Simplify it for Christ’s sake, it’s not that difficult.

  27. Winthorpe


    His pass for the goal was Bergkampesque as was his pass to put Aubameyang one on one.
    He sent a beauty out to Saka on the right too which was sumptuous
    The kid will only grow from here. I don’t know how anyone can criticise the lad after the performances he’s given straight from the get go.

  28. Pierre

    “100% Pierre. Our midfielders slipped into safety mode in the 2nd half to how they played before Partey came to the club. Overly cautious and very unadventurous and it spreads through the team.”


  29. DigitalBob

    Odegaard looked good yesterday, passing and creativity was top notch. On another day Auba gets a brace at the very least but a 1-1 draw puts us in a good position for next week.

    Lets not forget Arteta is a defensive minded manager so a home leg with an away goal advantage like this isn’t a bad position to be in.

  30. DigitalBob

    Graham – Noted Graham, but for all Arteta’s shortcomings I do believe we are a better team than the one that went out to Olympiacos last year.

    Or should I say Arteta will be fully aware of last years mess and keep things very defensive for the majority of the match.

  31. Pierre

    Compared to the Benfica manager last night, Arteta looked like calmness personified…

    I’m sure i saw steam coming out of his ears.

  32. Goobergooner

    Don you twat. He wasn’t trying to jump. He was protecting his face.
    And yes I’ll give it a bit more benefit of the doubt that it hit his chest first.
    But the fact he wasn’t jumping, he was lunging in and threw his foot out to try stop the cross while also leaning back and protecting his face is the only reason that was called handball.

    So how about go jump yourself you dimwit.

    You have no clue what you even watch.

  33. Matt

    Arteta’s tactical masterplan is as follows:

    1) The other team cant score if we have the ball.
    2) Passing backwards and sideways is more likely to result in us keeping the ball – this applies equally in and around our own box.
    3) As such, forward passes or moving forward with the ball at feet must be kept to an absolute minimum as this increases the risk of the other team having the ball (refer to point 1).

    No go out there and keep the ball at all costs!!!

  34. bacaryisgod

    It’s strange but it almost feels like Holding and Laca are on their winter break now. They played so many games in a row perhaps this is Arteta’s plan to rest them.

    Unfortunately, he forgot to rest Saka who is looking close to breaking point;

  35. Davey

    Cedric superb again felt for him going off, no chance getting past the KD lang lookalike lesbian super clothes designer that is MA favourite Bellerin

  36. Radio Raheem

    For us to move the ball quicker and be more threatening going forward we should change formation to 4-1-4-1 or 4-3-3

    Odegaard and ESR should be central with Pepe and Martinelli playing wide, upfront Lacs.

    We only need one holding player, in this case Partey or Elneny will be more suitable. I trust ESR and Odegaard to contribute defensively.

    Although we created a few chances yesterday it was pretty dire to watch. The double pivot was unnecessary. Against City it might be useful though.

  37. Radio Raheem

    Cedric was not superb I don’t know what the fuck you lot were watching.

    He was partly culpable for the nonsense that preceded the award of the penalty.

    Yes he assisted for the goal but it was a relatively easy pass to make. The more complicated ball was the one from Odegaard.

    Cedric’s crossing and passes throughout was poor. That Bellerin was worse does not translate to Cedric being ‘superb’.

    Why even bother watch a match if you can’t see!

  38. China1

    I hope we buy ode in the summer

    Between him esr and saka there is a whole bunch of talent, work rate and professionalism that just needs to be nurtured towards its full potential. 3 cracking young players with the world at their feet. Ability, intelligence, pace, technique. It’s all there

  39. Leedsgunner

    Considering we fielded an extremely strong team last night… bearing in mind who we were facing on Sunday.

    I hope it doesn’t come to bite us in the bum when we play City.

    It fills like a rerun of the Emery season where we placed all our eggs in the Europa League basket because our manager couldn’t mount a proper campaign in the EPL.

    For Arsenal’s sake I hope he pulls it off!

  40. DigitalBob

    China – Agreed, Ode and Bissouma this summer would be great. I suspect we might get Ode on loan again but with an obligation to buy which would further help finance a move for Bissouma or another DM.

  41. Davey

    I think anyone would see that a right footer playing at L/B has done very well (apart from the villa error) he offers much more as a right back than Bellerin. Cut the guy some slack FFS

  42. AFC Forever

    Controlled performance, Leno had nothing to do. Benfica parked the bus and was playing to stop ‘away’ goals. We should have won by at least 3 goals because Aubamayang missed 3 chances he would normally bury, especially the first one which was an awful miss. Typical first leg game but we showed we can control them. On the handball, I think it’s one of those that go, either way, I’m not sure I understand the handball rule anymore and the bodyline stuff.

  43. Matt


    I wasn’t ‘complaining’ that a team has possession of the ball though was I and I think you know that. My point was that we seem obsessed with maintaining possession to the detriment of our attacking game. You disagree, obviously, but then it seems like you disagree with most people and try and belittle people who don’t share your opinion – hence the twat.

    No exclamation marks.

  44. Radio Raheem

    Oh dear this obsession with holding midfielders.

    What we need is a more rounded striker.

    We also need a decent to excellent right back.

    Odegaard is a start but we need another creative goalscoring player the type Willian was meant to be so we aren’t too reliant on a striker for goals.

    It’s good to see Saka chipping in with the goals long may that continue.

  45. China1

    Radio it’s not an obsession with holding midfielders. How many quality holding midfielders have we had in the last 10 years? Answers on a postage stamp

    Also we’re playing with a double pivot. The idea we can forever continue with just one quality defensively capable CM is madness

  46. China1

    Digital I’d take that all day. Hopefully with a couple more bargain basement or loan surprises to make up the numbers.

  47. Winthorpe


    You can address me as Winthorpe

    If the ball hits the defending players body and not his arm then it’s cannot be a hand ball, can it? Surely even you must know that. Where his hands are positioned is irrelevant if the ball hits his body.

    Also, have you ever played 11 aside? The reason I ask is that if you’ve ever closed down a cross or shot you’ll know that you use your arms to gain sufficient momentum to reach the ball in time
    It’s how we move naturally as a species. We don’t jump with our arms tucked behind our backs like some kind of demented flying fish.
    In short I can only conclude that you’ve never played football anywhere apart from on your Xbox. Which doesn’t count.

  48. Winthorpe

    Odegaard is a start but we need another creative goalscoring player the type Willian was meant to be so we aren’t too reliant on a striker for goals.

    We had him sat on the bench. His name is Pepe

  49. Matt


    Tell me why that was a dominant performance? I think Leno had to make as many saves as their keeper.

    That was a dire game of football, maybe my expectations are higher than yours.

  50. Winthorpe

    MattFebruary 19, 2021 10:27:27
    OlisTell me why that was a dominant performance? I think Leno had to make as many saves as their keeper

    You’re looking purely at stats which don’t tell the true story
    Saka skewed a great chance wide
    Auba skewed two sitters wide and failed to strike the third in the 75min when he should have let fly with the left

    That’s 4 shots that should have hit the target and should have been goals
    Have some honestly about you lad

  51. AFC Forever


    “What some people on here ‘see’ is beyond belief.”

    You see what you want to see. That’s why I no longer visit the blog during a match. The result doesn’t make any difference, the comments from the usuals doesn’t really change. Had we won 3-0, they would be doing the same thing. We thrashed Leeds and the barrage of criticism and negativity was quite something from the usuals. Make of that what you will. Some people make fair criticism, which can be debated but the usual suspects make no attempt to do that because they are disingenuous and dishonest due to an agenda. That’s why there is no point in wasting time with them, they don’t want discussion. Choose who you engage with or just let them get on with enjoying telling us all how shit everything is, win lose or draw.

  52. DigitalBob

    Radio – While a new more well rounded striker would be great, I don’t think its a position that should be prioritised over a proper midfield partner/occasional cover for Partey. We can’t go into next season with Xhaka, Elneny and Ceballos as the alternatives.

    Also in regards to options up front, Auba isn’t going anywhere and neither is Martinelli, both when fully fit and in form have enough about them to be focal points in the attack(if surrounded by creative talent).

  53. Radio Raheem


    How many quality right-backs have we had the last 10 years?

    How many creative goal scoring forwards have we had since Nasri?

    How many points have we won on average with Partey? Without?

    We’ll play Chelsea soon who’d most likely line up with Jorginho and Kovacic, not the most robust pairing more circulators of the ball.

    City play Rodri or 35 year old Fernandinho as their holding player never both (except they’re trying to close out the game).

    Leicester – Ndidi

    Liverpool – used Wijnaldum last match until he was taken off after which they collapsed.

    Odegaard and ESR have shown enough to merit both playing centrally. Both have shown enough awareness and workrate going backwards and forwards.

    Point is there is an obsession among Arsenal fans, maybe football fans in general, about holding midfielders. The position has certainly grown in prominence following Vieira and Gilberto Silva with fans’ attention on the position now skewed to the detriment of others.

  54. AFC Forever

    The handball rule.

    The problem is the fact the handball rule keeps changing. In the past, it was all about it being intentional and the distance the ball had travelled. Now it’s about silhouette or bodyline and common sense has been replaced. Here it is explained and if you will find yourselves laughing your heads off. This is ex referee peter Walton which sums up PGMOL to be honest:

  55. Radio Raheem


    I take your point, we don’t have to buy that creative goalscoring forward if we can make one.

    Saka for me is more that player than Pepe. But yeah Pepe has perked up lately.

  56. AFC Forever


    “My point was that we seem obsessed with maintaining possession to the detriment of our attacking game”.

    When the other team don’t have the ball they can’t hurt you. In addition, moving players around and having them close down players is tiring. Nothing is more energy-sapping than chasing the ball. Benfica were smart, they knew if they came out we would play through them, so they sat in. Previously against teams who defend and let you have the ball, we were found wanting creatively, last night we created enough to have won comfortably. We created enough good chances to have won that by at least 3, had Aubamayang actually done what he should have done. No idea what was wrong with him last night, his decision making and finishing was well off.

  57. Radio Raheem


    The contract given to Auba is a problem no doubt. I pointed this out last summer before it became fashionable.

    Laca is or should be on his way out with one year left on his deal. He’d need replacing, can’t go into the season with only Auba and Martinelli as our only strikers. Nketiah should be sold to raise funds.

    So yes we need another well rounded striker and our goals tally this season suggests as much. In addition to the other areas I’ve mentioned of course.

  58. China1

    Radio we have Sagna who was one of the best RBs in the league throughout his career in England

    I’d like us to replace Bellerin too as in one of his most vocal critics, but CM is a more influential position than RB. It’s easy to win games with an average RB than an average CM.

  59. China1

    CM is the most influential position on the pitch. RB is not even tho all positions are important

    If we can I’d gladly replace xhaka and Bellerin in a heartbeat but my point was if we only have money for one then the elephant in the room has always been Xhaka. You can drop Bellerin tomorrow and put Cedric there as a slight upgrade but in CM we only have El Neny (same ball park as xhaka) and Ceballos who is far better but only turns up when he feels like it and his loan is ending. CM should still be first priority

    By all means if we can replace both then I will be ecstatic. I have been bashing Bellerin on here for the last 3 years

  60. Radio Raheem


    Sagna was a good defender but pretty naff going forward. The demands on fullbacks going forward is even more now than 10 years ago.

    Disagree, our need for a good right back supercedes that for a holding midfielder, especially after (wastefully) spending £45m on one.

  61. DigitalBob

    Radio – Yes agreed as much as a nice guy Laca seems to be, I think he should be sold this summer along with Eddie, apologies for those that think Eddie’s going to come good but I just don’t see it.

    If both are sold and as expected Balogun leaves then yes we certainly need another striker, however Arteta seems to favour both Laca and Eddie so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the only departure up front this summer is Balogun.

    On paper Pepe and Willian should be providing 20 goals and 20 assists between them per season at the minimum, Saka should also now be at the stage to be scoring in the double digits every season(fitness permitting).

    A more attacking manager would for sure have us scoring more goals and that’s not to say being a defensive manager is a bad thing, but we don’t play the expansive play that will have goals galore week in/week out.

  62. Pierre

    Good job Eddie didn’t come on for the final 15 minutes last night and replicated Martinelli’s time on the pitch, as I’m sure Eddie would have been slaughtered for not getting involved in the game going by recent history.

    Personally, i wouldn’t put any blame on any striker that comes on , tries his best , and doesn’t receive a decent pass from his team mates.

    Could we blame Martinelli for not making himself available ….not really .
    Could we blame Martinelli for not making runs into the box …not really..
    Could we blame Martinelli for not putting in the effort….not really.

    From where I’m sitting , Martinelli is experiencing EXACTLY the same problems that Eddie experienced when having limited game time , and i judge them just the same

  63. Sean M

    I’m afraid Folarin Balogun is off. Not even training with the first team at the movement.

    The problem with Willian is simple. Arteta went big on him. Saw him as a shortcut to glory instead of developing the players we have. He’s stunk out the place. 2 years left in the summer. Do you think he’ll walk? I don’t think so. M.A has to play him into some sort of form otherwise, he will not be having the final say on players again. Hopefully, he’s learnt his lesson.

    This Willian guy is blocking the road for players. Pepe, Martinelli Reiss, perhaps even a chance for Balogun to train with the first team or even make the matchday squad.

  64. Sid

    With a proper CM Bellerin is a decent RB. All an RB needs is to sprint not making decisions as long as the CM is excellent at dictating play.
    eg Eboue.

  65. Winthorpe


    Put it this way, if Pepe had the 3 chances Aubameyang had its 3-1 to arsenal
    Pepe is the best finisher in our team. He also creates chances for himself and others
    Auba is a “put it on a plate for me” kinda guy and even then he’ll miss sitters
    He doesn’t offer anything outside of that. He’s post injury michael Owen who had the benefit of a strike partner to negate his weakness on the ball but the modern game doesn’t afford Aubameyang such luxury
    He’s best off the left wing but then you lose a creative player so for me he’s a big big problem with bellerin being equally guilty on the right side

  66. AFC Forever

    Once the new players are integrated into the team the balance will be much better. We have been unlucky with the injuries to Partey, when he has played he shows the quality he has. He’s labelled as a DM but I’m not sure about these labels, he is a good Central Midfielder who can be dominant in the centre of the pitch. He is ideal when you have players like Odegaard and ESR playing in a fluid system of interchange, where intelligence and reading of the game is needed as much as ability When you add Tierney, who again has missed too many games, you can see that there are two players missing who make a difference to us with the ball. Balance takes time, work on the training field and matches gives reward but we do have to resolve these injuries.

  67. Radio Raheem

    Digital on

    I was more analysing what is required as opposed to second guessing Arteta.

    Although I generally support Arteta managing us this season I can see he does some dumb shit that I don’t obviously agree with.

    What we needed last summer was a reset or rethink of how we play. This should have excluded Auba like I said at the time but he did the opposite and here we are. I saw it coming.

    We are where we are and here I am charting an alternative route forward given our constraints.

  68. Winthorpe


    Partey allows us to counter more quickly because he can emerge from a scrum with the ball and release it quickly and accurately. We’ve lacked that since Wilshere and Cazorla were given away

  69. AFC Forever


    It takes time to get up to speed in a game when you come on as a late substitution. Strikers rely on service too, when they come on late a team is usually trying to shut up shop and maintain possession, so forward passes tend to be less prevalent. As you say, you cannot judge a striker on what he does in those circumstances. Eddie & Martinelli would have buried two of the chances Aubamayang had, that first one was a terrible miss.

  70. Matt


    We are going to have to agree to disagree. I don’t think last night was a dominant display from us.


    ‘When the other team don’t have the ball they can’t hurt you. In addition, moving players around and having them close down players is tiring.’

    I get that, but you’ve kind of proved the point I was tying to make. Passing ball and moving players around has it’s place, of course it does, but it needs to be changed up by balls over the top, through balls, players carrying the ball and breaking lines otherwise it becomes all too predictable and easy to defend against.

  71. Sid

    Selling Nketiah now makes zero sense diet Pep has made his value depreciate.
    In future one of Balogun or Nketiah should earn us 50m or more after playing in the right set up.

  72. Pierre

    Digital bob
    “, however Arteta seems to favour both Laca and Eddie”

    Eddie had started one game in 2 months( fa cup) , with a couple of late sub appearances, which is a strange way of showing favoritism…..3 league starts all season.

    Might as well sell him as he isn’t going to be given a chance now that we actually are creating chances …

  73. Radio Raheem

    We’ve spent £45m on that position it’ll stupid to spend more on it given the glaring need elsewhere.

    A coach, which is what Arteta should be, should be able to coax enough performances out of Torreira, Guendouzi, Xhaka and Partey for that one or two positions for a season without the need to spend more.

    If we’re going to be spending City money we might as well hire Pep.

  74. Pierre

    AFC forever.
    “As you say, you cannot judge a striker on what he does in those circumstances”


    However, if you had seen the abuse on Le Grove aimed at Eddie whenever he came on as sub earlier in the season and played no better or worse than Martinelli, to me their circumstances are the same and should be judged the same .

    What tends to happen in le grove is , if eddie comes on and struggles to make an impact, it’s Eddie’s fault.

    If Martinelli comes on as sub and struggles to make an impact, it’s Arteta’s fault.

  75. Davey

    February 19, 2021 11:26:02


    KD Lang is one of my favorite singer. Leave her alone please.

    Fair do each to there own

  76. Radio Raheem

    If I was Reiss Nelson I’d be having a word with Arteta on converting to a right-back.

    Mind if Arteta had foresight Reiss wouldn’t need to be making the first move.

    I assuming Reiss actually has the hunger to want to make something of his career.

  77. DigitalBob

    Pierre – Yes Eddie hasn’t played a lot recently and for good reason but Radio Raheem suggested we need an all round striker this summer which I don’t think can happen without two of our current forwards at the minimum leaving.
    In the overall sense of his Arsenal club career I think Eddie is liked by Arteta and will stay this summer.

    Personally having watched Eddie when he was getting more pitch time earlier this season and last season and even the limited time he had at Leeds under Bielsa I think he has further to go to be a top level striker than Martinelli. Yes Martinelli is favoured by Arsenal fans more so than Eddie because we see the potential world class quality he brings to the table, even Klopp mentioned it a while ago.

  78. AFC Forever

    Pierre, don’t let the agenda nonsense wind you up. I don’t understand the targeting of players and the agenda that comes from that, it’s like a different language to me. Its the bullying and sheer hate and nastiness that I struggle with. I guess the social media world isn’t about being nice to people, it is about the opposite. Frustrating, engage and make your point politely but nothing you can say will ever change a fixed mindset, you might as well bang your head on a concrete beam. Less painful. Eddie was a victim of circumstance, the odd chances he was given was when our creativity from midfield was at its lowest. Even Aubamayang wasn’t prolific during that period. Goalscorers need chances and he would have scored at least two of those Aubamayang had, as would Martinelli. Both are good players but need opportunity and sensible game time.

  79. Radio Raheem

    If Bielsa can make a player out of Bamford he can make a player out of anyone or anything.

    Even he couldn’t polish Nketiah. Arteta also seems to have given up.

    Maybe Nketiah is not that good, I don’t know 😀

  80. Matt

    What was the deal with ESR going down towards the end of the first half. He looked for a moment like he was going to be coming off and I really didn’t expect him to come out for the second half.

  81. Jamie

    Eddie is the archetypal tap-in merchant.

    Unless it’s plated up for him in the 6 yard box, he’s completely ineffective. Only in his wildest dreams would he regularly score a goal like Auba’s first last weekend. That’s why is isn’t playing.

    He should really be out on loan to pad his value. No chance he takes significant minutes from Auba or Laca in the league.

    Saka, ESR, Pepe, Willian and Marti are all already competing for the wings. I’d be amazed if he clocks up more than 2 hours of 1st team football by the end of the season. Bit of a waste, really.

  82. Pierre

    Digital bob

    “. Yes Martinelli is favoured by Arsenal fans more so than Eddie because we see the potential world class quality he brings to the table, even Klopp mentioned it a while ago.”

    Klopp called him the talent of the century .

    “World class” is a lot to live up to , talking about mbappe/Haaglamd level , i don’t see it.

    I see a player who has a fantastic will to achieve, who has fantastic enery and enthusiasm.

    I see a player who is not technically brilliant but has an eye for goal and has great movement in and around the box.

    He scored 7 in 7 games at the start of his career , in the league cup and europa …since then 3 in 25 or so games..

    I say play him up top and he will deliver , play him wide left and he will struggle due to his lack of defensive awareness…

    He is good , potentially very good , but world class , probably not but let’s hope so, i will be more than willing to hold up my hands and admit I’m wrong if he turns into another Ronaldo.

  83. DigitalBob

    Pierre – 100% spot on with that assessment. That will to achieve when visible on the pitch always makes a player a fan favourite. Its possible Eddie also has this but as we don’t see that translated on the pitch enough in the same way maybe it creates a bit of bias.

    I’m all for backing our youth players as much as possible and would love to be wrong in my view on Eddie, if he becomes the next Defoe for example that is a very serviceable striker and one I would be more than happy to have a long career with us.

  84. Pierre

    “Eddie is the archetypal tap-in merchant.”

    First , Well done for talking about the football .

    Second you are right , he is a tap in merchant and a very good one.

    Would just like to say that finding space in the box is an art and should be appreciated more by the fans .

    We paid 50 mil for Lacazette who has difficulty finding space in the box…

    I think Eddie is a victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
    He was given game time when our creativity was Zero, even Aubameyang had a drout during that period, he is now on a goal a game this year since our creativity improved.

    In saying that, I have never said Eddie is anything more than a goalscorer, not the talent of the century and not world class as Martinelli is being touted.

    If anyone deserves that title it should be Saka, but he’s not there yet .

  85. Captain Tierney

    We witnessed a typical Arsenal performance of recent. Good first half, not so good second half. But yesterday the poor second half was mostly due to tired legs. ESR and Saka both looked completely exhausted by the 65 minute mark. Imo both should have played only a half each. So Saka first half and Esr second or vice versa. Keep in mind there’s 5 subs allowed in European competitions.

    Pepe should have played the 90 and Gabi at least a 30.

    I guess Arteta went guns blazing because he has decided the round of 32 is more important than fighting for 3 points against this City side. Not a bad decision imo.

    What I am unhappy with is the treatment Pepe gets. As soon as he starts to find form he is benched. At the end if last season he was starting to find his feet, benched in the new season for the disaster that is Willian. And now for Odegaard and ESR.

  86. Goobergooner

    Olis from 2 of the 3 views I saw it looks pretty certain it hit his arm first. The 3rd its more like chest/underarm. So you can quite clearly understand why it was called if you’re not some twat talking trash about conspiracies.

  87. Mark

    FootballJOE (@FootballJOE) Tweeted: “When there’s a group of people where nobody has ever won anything, it all of a sudden becomes difficult.” ❌

    “Arteta is a good coach, but it seems to be a lot about him.” 🤔

    Jens Lehmann on whether Mikel Arteta is the right man to take Arsenal forward

    w/ @Coral

    Interesting watch. Jens seems to think Mikel has some issues around his personality.

  88. Thank you and goodnight

    “We conceded a corner then from the corner we did not react quick enough and conceded the penalty. Looking at it it’s difficult to judge. We had a great reaction and scored a great goal.”

    Even Arteta agrees with me about the corner Winthorpe

  89. Mark

    Considering we were able to use 5 subs , I thought the timing of them was way too late. Considering we have City at the weekend too.

    Should have done more to rest Saka , and given Pepe and Martinelli longer.
    In game management remains poor. I just wonder what goes through his mind as he’s watching the clock run down.

    It’s almost like he’s hoping something will happen, as opposed to making something happen with his substitutions.

  90. AFC Forever


    I am a big Pepe too fan too, but to be fair he hasn’t done enough to demand a starting position. He really needs to bring consistency not have flashes where he looks great. Arteta decided to play both ESR & Odegaard which was why he was left out. These players need to start performing if they want to get a starting place. Starting Sunday.

  91. AFC Forever

    “Interesting watch. Jens seems to think Mikel has some issues around his personality”

    Fuck me, I’ve heard it all now; Jens Lehmann…!!!!!!!!

  92. Nelson

    I think the MC players are trained to prepare where to pass the ball before even receiving the pass. That’s why they can make accurate one timer. It also eliminates those offside. Yesterday, we had 10 offside. Most of them were caused by late delivery.

  93. Pierre

    City will be a game with low/lower possession meaning more work without the ball.

    Personally, I think saving Saka ,Aubameyang and Smith Rowe for the europa 2nd leg is a wise move.. .wouldn’t start Partey or Tierney either.

  94. Mark


    Yeah was never a great fan of Jens , bit of a nutter and liability in his playing days.
    But he’s calmed down a lot since then. Still doesn’t take away from the fact for some reason he has doubts aboutArteta. Joe Cole also has his doubts too by the sound of it.
    But hey what does anyone else know.

    Again you seem to think you get to decide Who to take note of and who not to. How can anyone question the great Mikel?

    Up there on your lofty perch of all things about football , mind you don’t slip off, again.

    Arteta’s No.2 Superfan.

  95. Mark


    Exactly this.

    Look how many of us have said it. Now you have an ex Arsenal player basically saying the same thing.

    But let’s just shoot th messenger eh AFC 4 , might want to change your handle to Arteta 4eva,
    A bit more apt.

  96. AFC Forever


    So you agree with lehmann that Arteta is a great coach who is doing a good job. If you listen to it in full they all agree but think Arteta could do with someone like Arsena Wenger there for his knowledge and experience.

    It doesn’t matter who the Arsenal Manager is there is, unfortunately, a type of person who will forever be on their backs. One day people will realise that whatever their opinion of Arteta, he came into a club where chronic mismanagement and poor recruitment had hampered us. He had a lot to sort out, including record shots against reaching 30 plus, off ball play that was embarrassing and a defensive fragility that meant against transition we were like rabbits in headlights. He sorted that out within months, somehow won an FA Cup and then had to deal with the issues of the contracts the club had awarded to players like Ozil. As mentioned previously, real life football is not a FIFA game where you just pick 11 blokes, there is so much complexity involved. This is why it takes managers time to build their own teams, they have to work on the training ground, developed tactical understanding and ultimately bring in players of a better calibre and who can fit into the style of play being implemented. Unfortunately, not everybody understands that so they keep shooting every Manager that comes into the club in the misguided belief that they can create a 6 month miracle.

  97. Winthorpe

    JamieFebruary 19, 2021 11:55:22
    Eddie is the archetypal tap-in merchant. Unless it’s plated up for him in the 6 yard box, he’s completely ineffective. Only in his wildest dreams would he regularly score a goal like Auba’s first last weekend. That’s why is isn’t playing.

    Sound just like Aubameyang
    I wonder how many of those misses last night Eddie would have buried

  98. Tom

    “NelsonFebruary 19, 2021 12:18:27
    TomAre you doing it to Eddie this time? “

    Doing what?

    Can’t wait next time two ex-pros doing studio work disagree on a penalty call and accuse one another of never playing proper 11 v 11 ball before.

    That’s why they invented the phrase “for me” ,or “I can see why he’s given it”

  99. Winthorpe

    Personally, I think saving Saka ,Aubameyang and Smith Rowe for the europa 2nd leg is a wise move.. .wouldn’t start Partey or Tierney either

    I’d save Pepe too. Doesn’t sound like a game for him
    Personally I’d rest anyone important to the game plan for the return leg. This game isn’t as important in my view
    If he plays the big guns and we lose (which is the likeliest outcome) it’s a senseless risk

  100. AFC Forever


    “But let’s just shoot th messenger eh AFC 4 , might want to change your handle to Arteta 4eva,
    A bit more apt”

    is there any need to be so childish mate?

  101. Vickingz

    Arteta is not just the man to take us to the promised land. All we are gonna get with him is what we have the potentials to become. For an ex player, he makes wrong decisions and he’s just too proud to learn from his mistakes. Laca has done nothing to have been left out, same as martinelli and pepe. People can criticize pepe and speak ill of him for all they care but the truth is Arteta just doesn’t rate our youngsters. Why shunt esr to the wing to accommodate odegard? If they can’t play together, must they play together to the detriment of the team’s balance? Why kill a flank just to accommodate a player? Suffice to say that he has sacrificed city’s game and he still didn’t win this very match, terrible job he’s doing as a manager.

  102. Winthorpe

    AFC ForeverFebruary 19, 2021 12:57:42
    “Interesting watch. Jens seems to think Mikel has some issues around his personality”Fuck me, I’ve heard it all now; Jens Lehmann…!!!!!!!!

    I’m behind Arteta. However I do agree with Lehmann

  103. AFC Forever


    Yep, the second leg will be a different game, more open. Benfica have to score now we have that ‘away’ goal’ which will suit us. Arteta and his medical team will have to get together and decide how they manage this recovery period issue though because we don’t want any muscle injuries. Hoepfully, party is back soon.

  104. Nelson


    I like to listen to the views from both camps. Have you even tried to understand that the view of the other camp is that there exist other much more experienced managers, who can do the same thing as what you have listed while making less beginner’s errors.

  105. Kroenkephobe


    I agree with your point about subs (or “closers” as Eddie Jones calls England rugby players) . In most cases, except certain top PL teams, we have a better group of subs on paper than the opposition. Arteta seems phobic, absent minded or just plain stupid when it comes to replacements.

    And if there is disquiet in the squad about not playing often enough, then a more proactive substitute strategy would help assuage our team of man-babies and their egos.

    I can’t be the only viewer that gets to the 60th minute of a game like last night’s and be thinking about getting some fresh legs on. Another way in which trust in Arteta diminishes.

  106. AFC Forever


    “Up there on your lofty perch of all things about football , mind you don’t slip off, again.Arteta’s No.2 Superfan”.

    Shit. I thought I was No.1.

    I am going to have to do something about this, not happy at all. Think I’ll search the Internet for one of those cardboard cut out things to stick in the window and admire every day as I come home from work. He’s an absolute god than man.

  107. Winthorpe

    Look. If auba takes his chances or the ref gets his calls right then we win.
    We were quite clearly the dominant side. We had the better chances by some distance. The manager can’t score the goals for Aubameyang.
    Like when Henry quotes pep “it’s my job to get you there, it’s your job to score”

    Well Arteta (among others) got Aubameyang there. What more can he do? It’s like blaming Wenger for Henry missing sitters in the 06 final. Arsenal did enough to win the game, Henry bottled it when it mattered most.

  108. AFC Forever

    Winthorpe, exactly. Arteta isn’t my favourite cup of tea, to be honest personality wise but I just wish people would lay off him. Every Manager we have had in the last 10 years gets appalling treatment, so I tend to go ultra-defensive. I genuinely feel sorry for the guy with the mess he inherited because Arsenal has been run poorly, which we all know. Whoever came in had some serious issues to address.

  109. Winthorpe

    I genuinely feel sorry for the guy with the mess he inherited because Arsenal has been run poorly, which we all know. Whoever came in had some serious issues to address.

    Now this I agree with. I even have pity for emery. Useless though he was