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”

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  1. AFC Forever

    Yes, those Auba chances yesterday were reminiscent of our Champions League Final. Bad enough that we lost ‘batshit crazy’ Lehmann after 12 minutes when his head went but we still took the lead and Henry had 2 golden chances to win it. That first Auba miss yesterday is quite unbelievable when you consider the quality he has. Hardly the Managers fault when we create chances like that which don’t get taken. Even the second one was a big chance where he just dawdled on the ball. Something going on inside his head.

  2. Pierre

    Benfica’s high defensive line will be exposed next week

    It’s simple to beat if the timing is right, give the ball to Odegaard, Aubameyang comes towards the ball and Saka or Smith Rowe make the runs from deep and Odegaard dinks the ball through.

    All about the timing .

  3. AFC Forever

    Winthorpe, Emery was terrible. Without the ball we were clueless. It came out that the players didn’t understand him and that his tactics were confusing. I thought his tactics were obvious. Just leave as much space as possible between the lines and prey. It was like the Alamo at times! Same players mostly.

  4. AFC Forever

    Pierre, yes exactly. They knew they couldn’t afford to concede away goals, which is why they played so safely. Even so, Aubamayang should have buried Benfica. Totally different second leg because they have to come out which will suit us.

  5. Mark

    @AFC4

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

    Hardly a mature response to my post. I simply put it up so people can make there own minds up about it, as opposed to having you do/decide it for them.

    Your response. ” Fuck me, Jens….”

    You made No points in reference to what Jens said until TYAG spelt out that that others had similar reservations as well.

    So please, spare me the ” That’s a bit childish ” malarky. Next time try to respond with points instead of the constant attitude to other people’s opinions.

  6. AFC Forever

    Nelso

    “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”.

    Absolutely. It is a valid argument. However, who will guarantee success? How long do you give them? How many times do you want to change the Manager? This isn’t Chelsea or Man City where the squad is laced with World Class players and where the Manager is given unlimited funds. This was a poisoned chalice in terms of previous mismanagement, daft contracts and player recruitment. Expecting any manager to come in and start winning trophies, while challenging for the title and CL place, under those circumstances, was optimistic. It comes down to expectation levels. If anyone honestly expected a Manager, any Manager, to come straight into Arsenal, sort out the mess etc in one main transfer window and recruit better quality players I think they will always be disappointed. You have to manage expectations. The way the club had been run over a period of years was bad enough but when you look at the playing personnel and start criticising the ability of most of them, you wonder how it got so bad. My point remains the same; it takes time to sort out this mess. It is on that basis that I will give Arteta time because constant upheaval, different training methods, different tactics, different player types etc will undo progress made and we could end up rinsing, recycling and repeating. Let’s get better players into the club, get an identity and see where that takes us. If it doesn’t work out, fine, we shall have to recruit again. But he deserves time is my point.

  7. Mark

    @Kroenkephobe

    You’re not alone in your observations re substitutions. It all just seems so hit and miss, lacking easily discernible logic.

    When you can see these basic flaws as you say your faith or trust in that person’s judgement is eroded. To say the least.

  8. AFC Forever

    Mark

    It is very childish to start throwing around words like “Arteta4ever” mate. That is also a personal insult and a pretty transparent response but you’ve done that before. I know you don’t like the user name I deploy, for some reason AFC Forever riles you. Bit weird but each to their own I guess. I don’t want to use my real name on here because I really couldn’t be asked with abusive trolls or death threats coming from childish keyboard warriors. So AFC Forever it shall remain.

    I cannot possibly help you if you cannot see the hypocrisy behind Jans Lehmann criticising somebody else’s personality. It is also worth pointing out that we can all pull up comments from someone to support or dispute a held opinion, it’s hardly a way to prove a point.

    Be nice mate, stop the personal insults and we can debate like mature adults, okay?

  9. Mark

    @AFC

    ” 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, ”

    Soo, according to you nobody should have questioned the continual playing of Willian, Mustafi contract offers etc etc. And just be nice to Tets…

    If I was just saying I hate Arteta cos he’s a Lego haired, Captain Black,teen wolf lookylikey arrogant SOB ! Then I could believe what you wrote there a bit easier.

    However the critique Arteta is getting is completely justified and not abusive or appalling as you say. ( In fact his treatment of our young players is worse than what’s being said about him. But you seem to be okay with that, cos you’re so onboard with Mikel.

    You just”wishing people would just lay off him”
    When are you gonna realize he brings it all on himself!

  10. Radio Raheem

    Emery deserved a second season by virtue of his 5th place finish and Europa League final. I remember we went 22 games unbeaten at one point. If that was a fluke as many of his detractors claim then please tell me why other teams aren’t fluking it.

    Anyway we hit bad form towards the end of the season which carried on to the next and he deservedly got sacked.

    Arteta earned a season with us by virtue of our FA Cup run and the ‘solidity’ we showed in competing with better opposition (on paper at least).

    Again we started off ok then hit bad form and would have deservedly been sacked had he not turned it around. He has and will see out the season.

    Come end of the season his performance has to be reviewed in line with club expectations to decide if he’s worth persisting with. If we do carry on with him next season then he can’t afford to have any sustained set of poor results: he should be sacked immediately if that happens.

  11. Winthorpe

    AC

    We had by far the better chances and all of the possession. How else would you qualify dominance of a football game without Aubameyang putting away his chances?

  12. Rich

    Emery wasn’t useless, he finished 5th, and took us to a. Europa League final

    He then go hung out to dry, we spent £140mill, but actually lowered the quality of our squad in the immediate

    Monreal – Tierney
    Tierney was injured, had no pre-season, so there was no instant improvement, it was probably the right move medium-longer term, but it left us with only Kolasinac at left back in the immediate, and Montreal was our best defender

    Koscielny – Luiz
    We swapped one past it defender, for an inferior past it defender, so no improve there

    Mkhitaryan – Pepe
    Pepe might still come good, but you could see within the first few games, he was very raw, we swapped one inconsistent lightweight with end product, for another inconsistent lightweight with end product

    Ramsey – Ceballos
    I like Ceballos, but he was 22, and not particularly experienced, he’s starting to show signs, but in the immediate he was a downgrade on Ramsey

    Iwobi – Saka
    This was the right move, but Saka was 17, blooding a 17yr old, was always going to mean teething problems, Saka didn’t start the FA Cup final just 6 months ago, he’s now the first name on the team sheet, even when you bring through the most talented of youngsters, you need a bit of patience

    Bellerin was injured, and Chambers + Niles aren’t really right backs IMO

    Ozil was on the slide from the moment the ink dried on his new deal

    Our only alternative to Xhaka, was Guendouzi 20, Torreira 22, Ceballos 22/23

    It’s a lot of inexperience in the middle of the park

    Emery also gave opportunities to Saka just turned 17, Willock 19/20, Martinelli 18, Smith-Rowe 18/19, and Guendouzi was one of the highest valued teenagers in Europe under Emery

    Emery’s record at Lorca, Almeira, Valencia, Sevilla, PSG, and Arsenal, speaks for itself

    He may have struggled with the language, and for that reason not a great fit, but the idea he’s some type of chump, who has no idea what he’s doing, stands up to no real type of scrutiny

    I warned at the time sacking Emery wouldn’t change much, we were a club at a low ebb. and things might get worst before they get any better

    The vast majority including Pedro told me I didn’t have a clue what I was on about…….

  13. Captain Tierney

    Afcforever

    Its not about being a fan here tbh.
    Pepe has been consistently very good over the last month playing at LW. Then he suddenly gets dropped for 2 important games even when its clear ESR and Saka are in dire need of a rest.

    + Their RB was quite weak defensively I thought. ESR was easily able to go past him easily. Pepe with his superior pace and dribbling could have given him a fit.

  14. AFC Forever

    Marc

    I wouldn’t say total dominance but it was relatively comfortable. Benfica offered very little, the shots they had wouldn’t have troubled a schoolboy keeper. They were clearly worried about away goals and kept a very defensive shape which is always tough to break down. Unfortunately, the shocking finishing for which Aubamayang was guilty made the scoreline flattering for Benfica. I have no idea how he missed that sitter early on because that was a game-changer and would have forced Benfica to come out more. Even those other two clear chances he had he would normally bury. Something not right with Aubamayang at the moment.

  15. Graham62

    Olis

    It’s an opinion blog.
    Just get used to other posters opinions.

    By the way I’m not bitter but I am frustrated by the way Arteta is continuing to make us play with the handbrake on.

  16. AFC Forever

    CaptainTierney

    Yes, you have a point. Pepe can be a handful, as I said, big fan of his – but he has to find that level of consistency missing from his game. Defensively he sometimes switches off too, whereas ESR can be trusted a bit more in that respect. We had the chances though. It looks like he is going to start Sunday based on the team selected last night and he can cause City problems. I think Aubamayang needs a game off, he looked tired and made a pig’s ear of those clear chances he had.

  17. AFC Forever

    Graham

    We exposed their defensive line by playing the ball behind several times. In fact, that was how we created the chance for Aubamayang, an absolute sitter, which would have changed the game. I don’t disagree that at times we played within ourselves but even so we still created two other chances that Aubamayang made a mess of. We still have a problem playing against a team that defends in numbers but there were signs Odegaard was gaining a bit of an influence and he was finding a few passes on that very wet pitch. Don’t know about you but we looked leggy last night after the Leeds game. I actually expected him to have rotated more.

  18. TheBayingMob

    “…..my point was that it was Lehmann saying it. He was batshit crazy!!”

    Lehmann can fuck off with anything he has to say. He cost us the CL. I was there in Paris, I won’t forgive him for that, fucking clown.

  19. Anonymous Commentator

    Matt

    “Thank god, I thought I had watched a different game to everyone else.”

    Don’t worry bruv, you watched the right game, the analysis of the game from certain people is too forgiving is all.

    @AFC
    I’m not saying we didn’t create good chances, look at auba’s stock today on the superfan channels as proof of that, but we didn’t dominate it we just carved out good chances.
    I want the team to make progress as much as anyone else but we aren’t going to make that progress by sugar coating the match day film are we?
    We had good spells in the game and waned towards the end as we ran out of ideas once odegaard and ESR were taken off. We even ran out of ideas towards the end of the first half to be honest.
    Which is why I said I would have preferred seeing odegaard finish the game yesterday with Martinelli and Pepe around him, there was a very good chance of us finding the win with these trio of players on the field together.

    Here’s the thing, even if auba’s chances went in and the rest of the game played out the same way it still wouldn’t be a domination.
    There are positives to take away for sure but it’s becoming bothersome looking for minor positives when the greatest positive possible was simply getting the win, which we didn’t do despite having the chances to do so.

    Arteta’s tactical vision might be closer to reality now but we had every right to win that game yesterday and I would have preferred that the manager had the stones to go for it.

  20. Mark

    @afc

    “It is very childish to start throwing around words like “Arteta4ever” mate. That is also a personal insult and a pretty transparent response but you’ve done that before.”

    😂 Now I know you’re Trolling!

    I typed Afc4eva cos it’s a shortrr than typing it all. I in disbelief that :
    1. You think that is a personal insult.
    2. Like I would have an issue with AFC , cos yea it’s exclusive to yourself. (😂😂 I’m laughing as I type this)
    3. Lastly, I don’t know whether to feel insulted myself. If you think that’s the Best I could do.

    I actually try to not resort or respond in those ways, even with provocation. And I know that I’m more than capable of letting someone have it.

    Not my style though. I prefer to rip someone a new one with common sense. Much more fun pointing out the ridiculous, by showing it to be just that.

    Happy for you to point out where I’ve been childish, tho. and if it makes you feel better I’ll just refer to you as AFC 4. How’s that?

  21. Kroenkephobe

    The Baying Mob?

    Was that comment about Lehmann serious? Really?

    Best GK we’ve had since Spunky (and I was in Paris when we played R Zaragoza and I don’t hold a grudge against him). Come on mate, Lehmann was a fantastic keeper and a real and figurative fighter.

  22. Winthorpe

    TheBayingMobFebruary 19, 2021 15:04:21
    “…..my point was that it was Lehmann saying it. He was batshit crazy!!”Lehmann can fuck off with anything he has to say. He cost us the CL. I was there in Paris, I won’t forgive him for that, fucking clown

    Henry cost us the final more than anyone
    I love the man but the loss was his

  23. I hate Green Bay

    A lot was made, as usual, of Xhakas lack of running around, but in the Leeds game and last night, that freed up Ceballos to move a bit forward, which seems to get the best out of him.

    Cedric was my man of the match, all things considered.

    Auba, WTF…

  24. I hate Green Bay

    When we signed Ø, I wrote that he won’t be up to match fitness until end of March, and he won’t be able to play with ESR. Just shows, I know shit.

  25. AFC Forever

    Mark, believe me, there is nothing you could say that will offend me. I’ve worked with more challenging kids like you for years, I know you have no respect for anyone else. It’s just not necessary to get personal mate, that’s all, however much it turns you on. Try Pornhub, you get pictures with that.

  26. AFC Forever

    I felt sorry for Pires in that CL final. I’m not sure taking him off to bring on a ‘keeper was the best idea. I have no idea what Lehmann was thinking that day, proper head gone moment that cost us a Champions League trophy with or without henrys misses. We broke the clean sheet record getting there, 10 in a row – best team never to win it. Travesty.

  27. Mark

    AFC

    ” It’s just not necessary to get personal mate, that’s all, however much it turns you on. Try Pornhub, ”

    Fuck me , and you say Jens had issues!!!!!!

    I assume the above is ok, right as it is structured in the same way/tone as

    ” Fuck me, Jens Lehman !!!!!!!”

  28. Mark

    For the record getting personal would be me telling you what I thought of you.

    If I did that, then you would have something to moan about. At the moment it’s all just smoke and mirrors, from you mate.

    Oh and your thinly veiled attempt at a dig with your boys like myself. comment. Being in my mid fifties I’ll take that as a compliment.

    Cheers.

  29. Mark

    @afc
    “I’ve worked with more challenging kids like you for years, I know you have no respect for anyone else. It’s just not necessary to get personal mate, that’s all, however much it turns you on. Try Pornhub, ”

    Ugh, you sound like you were mates with Jimmy Saville and Rolf Harris and Gary Glitter etc. Definitely don’t wanna be in your gang.

    But I know nothing I could say would affect you so…