by .

The line-up is in and it’s a very strong team today.

Leno, Bellerin, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney, Xhaka, Ceballos, Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe, Aubameyang

Clearly too soon for Thomas Partey, so we revert back to a centre midfield of Xhaka and Dani Ceballos.

Attack wise, we have all the tools in the box on display. Our best central defender for passing. Kieran Tierney prowling down the left. With probably the idea from 4 moving forward.

It’s the gun show today.

What are we looking for?

Goals, goals, goals.

The main worry is that we’ll be leggy after chasing shadows against Manchester City over the weekend. Post-Leeds, we weren’t really at peak physical condition, even though you’d be hard pushed to say we didn’t create enough to win.

We need a performance today. There needs to be an answer to their offside trap. We need to keep our midfield and defence super tight so we don’t give up an away goal. Everyone needs to give a 90 minutes of concentration.

I also want to see us take risks. Auba isn’t the only person that can score goals. Odegaard is capable, the same is true of Saka and ESR.

… but Auba does need to show up. We need a captains performance. Lead by example. Be the sharp shooter we need.

We need a big win.

We need to start a run of tough games positively.

This has to be a run.

So let’s see where it goes.

Enjoy the comments. See you there a little later. This will be fun.


Jump to comment form ↓

  1. Gonsterous

    Martinelli dropped again. Willian has a horrendous showing for about 3 months now, and he still gets picked. This is why I have doubts about arteta being a generational coach.

    We should be defeating benfica with our B side, but looking at AFTV, it sounds like we won the final or eliminated one of the favourites. Sad to see how far the standards have been dropped.

  2. Words+on+a+Blog

    I’m in two minds about Ødegaard. Lovely little touches, and good positioning, but at this stage a bit slow in his decision making.

    From what I’ve seen so far I prefer ESR , who brings a lot more energy and one touch combination play.

    Ødegaard was brought in for his defence-splitting passes, and we’ve seen none so far: he’s still playing pretty conservatively. Against Benfica earlier it was Saka who played those passes.

  3. D

    Ode was ok, he can give you what you expect a 6 month loanee to give you. The moment he understands how Auba moves, Real Madrid will get their developed player back.

    The problem is how poor the attack in general looks, which is clearly a coaching issue. Benfica didn’t have to park the bus or anything (no side does that against us anymore to be quite honest) and despite our two attacking midfielders and using the best creative weapons we have, we still default to the crosses. ESR looks less relevant with each match, it wasn’t a fitness issue, he’s just learning Artetaball.

    Getting our world class striker back and Saka being Saka might be enough to win the EL, who knows. But the overall play is still a big problem and has always been.

  4. Freddie Ljungberg

    “Arteta told reporters: “Willian specifically, I think he changed the game. He gave us much more composure in moments, produced some creativity, produced the goal for Kieran and we need everybody on board.”


    Happy for the win but he has been beasting that lineup pretty hard lately, Saka needs a break, he’s been by far our best player this season but he can’t play every minute.

    ESR isn’t a winger and should only play at the same time as Ode in a midfield 3 in front of Partey, if not it’s either of them.

    Why is Pepe benched again after finding form? He keeps doing this to him, at the expense of fucking Willian, over and over again, amazing stuff. Martinelli likewise can’t get a look in.

    Hope Partey can stay fit this time, our midfield is so poor without him. Priority number 1 this summer is getting in a partner for him, someone that is also capable of bossing that midfield by himself if Partey is out.

  5. Nelson

    Continue with my last post. What I wanted to say is that Arteta finally woke up and realized that his favorite, Bellerin, is not very good!!!!

  6. Tony

    Watched the game this morning with my son.

    Saviour Saka with a killer “Mahrezesque for Sterling” pin point cross for Auba to win the game.

    I thought MO did well considering he’s still settling in and catching up with game minutes he’s been missing for many months. He will come good. Problem is the better he becomes the higher his price will be.

    Willian as sub again?

    No way we buy Ceballos at the end of the season or loan him back again. The reality is that Arteta problem will buy him.

    ESR seems to be far less effective out on the left supporting KT in the left wing position.

    Look I’m happy for the win but not the manner of it. Arteta has proved nothing in that match other than he is still not the manager to take us to the next level.

    Leicester will be hurt at going out, which will up their game for their CL qualification placing Sunday.

  7. Tony

    “Continue with my last post. What I wanted to say is that Arteta finally woke up and realized that his favorite, Bellerin, is not very good!!!!”

    Any yet brought his favourite Willian on who once again did nothing of note.

    I’m really sick of this pretence of a manager.

  8. Tony

    Right now MO is a tidy player settling in with the PL pace and close attention from opposition players.

    He’s both tidy on the ball and has great positioning for his work off the ball and vision for defense splitting passes.

    He’s never been a speedster but then nor was DB10; however, I’ve always seen similarities in MO’s play. Mo can speed up or slow the tempo down to suit the game or at least he was good doing that playing for Norway at 15 and RM at 16.

    I guess the $64K question is has MO peaked too early as can happen with kids showing elite potential?

    I think the potential is there but not convinced Arteta can get the best out of MO, especially in just a few months.

    Arteta is simply not the good a coach.

  9. Nelson

    One thing Tierney can improve upon is the effectiveness of his cross. Saka’s cross aims at Auba. João Cancelo plays Tierney’s position. His crosses aim at Silva or Jesus. I find Tierney’s cross aims at a location in the box and not where Auba is.

  10. Guns of SF


    Wrong and right…. Wenger went undefeated and had much success with his teams. Most of the opponents would have to park the bus, but our industrious mids and forwards kept at it, finding the seams and cracks to break through. Most of my memories of Cesc is him doing just this, over and over.

    In latter days, we did get hit on the counter under wenger, with some mediocre defenders playing too high up…

    A big criticism of Weng was his inability to organize a strong defense. it is true.

    But to say that we struggled against the low block under Wenger is not true.

  11. Guns of SF

    I read somewhere this morning about the salaries of the players and Martinelli is on 90K per week@!>!

    I mean this is great for the young man financially, but is this prudent for a player who does not even play? a 5 year deal?

    I mean it makes me scratch my head. That is a big outlay for a club that is penny pinching to get by. And, the player does not play?

    It feels like a golden handcuff in some ways. Glad that he can help himself and his family with that kind of money, but at least freaking play the 90K per week man!

    Makes you wonder WTF Edu is smoking… either super good shit or dog shit

  12. Sid

    Its great that we won.
    This team NEEDS a proper CM urgently,
    Benfica passed the ball in midfield so much better than us. Our forwards are decent.

  13. China1

    Guns ofc we were still quality and the invincible a and doubles were incredible – but my point is if you look at the way we dropped points and all those titles that Utd and then Chelsea won ahead of us, those points we dropped were not normally against the teams will to have a go at us. Those teams were the ones we’d hit 5 past. We normally dropped points against the bus Parkers of this world

  14. China1

    It used to pass me off to no end how teams and managers would get credit for beating us with lowest common denominator rubbish of just putting everyone in and around their own box and scoring a winner off a corner kick

    It’s legal but just rubbish. Requires zero footballing or tactical intelligence and literally just consists of having so many bodies at the back that there are too few avenues for the offensive team to exploit. A child could come up with that rubbish

    Fat Sam literally built his name off that rubbish

  15. Guns of SF

    SO China the point is, where are we now with attacking the low block? not very good IMO

    Bar Saka, attacking from the right with his step overs into the box, or KT on the other side putting in crosses, we still lack a center attacking who can make something happen.

    is this supposed to be Ode?

    Seems like it based on his playing position.

    IT goes back to my point about who and how are we recruiting new players.
    I get it that loans do not give you much options so take what you get. But, its does make me wonder about what determines whether we chase this player or that player.

    Was he the only one? As soon as the media got wind of it, he became the new savior but that is not really fair to him either.

    We must be wary of players that simply have played for big clubs being put on loan. There usually is a good reason for it and why they are not playing with the parent club. More research must be done.

  16. Sid

    Qataris have their culture and NO culture is superior to the other,
    The money from the contractors in Qatar flows through London so the holier than thou act is hypocritical as usual
    Back to football..

  17. Tony

    If true, maybe it’s to ward off clubs interests in Martinelli.

    Should do similar with Saka and KT.

    Some young players warrant high salaries/packages to help stop their heads being turned by clubs and agents alike.

  18. Guns of SF

    Yes, and its a double edged sword.
    On one hand, he is getting better with all the minutes, and really getting a confidence about him now. He is almost unplayable at times

    Injury is a big concern… and a major one if he continues. Clearly he is in the red zone already.

    Mike is dependent on him to save his bacon and its a shame. We have another player who needs minutes and could help spell Saka….

    #freemartinelli 90 K PW man

  19. shaun

    I think everyone can see you get much more tempo and speedy play when you play ESR at 10 for me this is Arteta again not seeing what a top coach should be , I was honestly thinking he was going to use ODE to give ESR a rest not play him over ESR,PEPE and Martinelli as that is effectively what he is doing by shunting ESR out left when it is clear as day that we play much better and at a much higher tempo when ESR is in the middle and you just get much more from Saka as well as those two know there games inside out , Saka would definitely be scoring more goals as ESR knows the runs he makes without thinking and Saka knows the runs ESR will make , this in it self shows you why Arteta is not going to get it right anytime soon , look at the moronic decisions this guy is making , the guy is an absolute shocker and looks as thick as a plank of wood , ODE IS OK AT RETAINING THE BALL and technically he is also good but he has to play when ESR is tired or in need of a rest or he has to play further back with Partey . At the moment Saka has to rely on individual brilliance as he is not getting any help from anyone else as that Pratt keeps playing the ultra useless Bell end .Without Saka Arteta would be toast Arteta is definitely no where near good enough to be coaching Arsenal .Look at the decisions he is making it is almost laughable know I hope to god I am wrong but this guy looks like the anti manager now , he won the fa cup on the brilliance of Martinez in Goal who I still think is a better fit for us, so what does anti manager do gets rid of him with a big smile on his face like i am the big I am for taking the wrong frigging decision , and please don’t start with the he wanted to leave bullshit because if anyone tells someone you are 95% certain to start ….. and now this from seeing his team play flowing attacking football the anti manager has reduced us to bollocks slow turgid football again .we see how dependant he is on Partey in the middle of the park but I bet anti manager is pushing for ceballos on a permanent deal instead of getting rid of both ceballos and calamity xhaka and getting the Brighton boy in , he could then play the 433 with ODE .We all know anti manager wants to extend xhaka , luiz and the cherry on top will be Ceballos .We know Partey was not his first choice .Lets be honest Benfica are toilet

  20. shaun

    all that said , I don’t care what football anti manager plays but he really really needs to get something out of the foxes game and he needs a win against spurs ….a loss against spurs and that will confirm we have Damien Thorne as the Arsenal manager LOL………….LOL

  21. Socrates

    Happy for the win (of course)… But I think it only reinforces the opinion that Arteta is not the right person for the job.

    People talking about the great sub, Lets get real Willian did nothing in that move except pass the ball back to KT, it was 100% KT’s goal.

    Arteta is going to end up getting himself fired. Bringing on Willian was nothing short of embarrassing. Pepe was firing on the left, looking like the real thing, hasn’t been seen since??

    Going forward I’d like to see

    Pepe – Martinelli- Saka
    ESR -MO

  22. DivineSherlock

    Honestly , Ceballos is shit , cancel his loan and send him bback to madrid . I think we would have sttrolled to a 1-0 win if not for him. Partey is gold , the difference is for all to see in second half . Saka and Tierney needs to be protected at all costs.
    . Still not convinced by Arteta and his subs selection. Chasing the game and bringing Willian on . ESR on leftwing , why ?

  23. Tom

    “Arteta told reporters: “Willian specifically, I think he changed the game. He gave us much more composure in moments, produced some creativity, produced the goal for Kieran and we need everybody on board.”



    Arteta trying to justify to Kroenke that he hasn’t wasted £30m of his money on a player most amateur observers new didn’t deserve those wages.

    Nothing to see here, just more bs from the generational one.

  24. Tony

    “Still not convinced by Arteta and his subs selection. Chasing the game and bringing Willian on . ESR on leftwing , why ?”

    Because he overthinks all the time and then wants to appear generational, forward thinking and the smartest guy in the room.

  25. Tony

    AFC is going to appear later and have a hay day naming trolls.

    Did bergkamp 63 leave citing he won’t be back until the Arsenal trolling stops?

    Then a day later return as berg13kamp?

    Asking for a friend.

  26. Aussie+Gooner

    Seriously anyone who is happy after that game must set the bar pretty low. Benfica are useless and any decent team would have slaughtered us. How can the spuds put 8 past a bunch of farmers yet we continue to struggle? Or Ranger put 9 past Antwerp? This is not trolling, just being brutally honest.

    Same old mistakes, same old crosses into the box to no one, same old Xhaka getting his head out of the way of the free kick to preserve his looks, same old lack of desire, same old Willian sub when chasing the game (please don’t get too excited by his ‘assist’!). Blame Ceballos all you like but that was a fair result! We could have easily lost against these minnows. Sorry but that is my take on it and coming straight after the $hitty capitulation it is a bit hard to take! And over half way through the season we are in 11th place in the EPL! You couldn’t make it up!

  27. Bob N16


    I’m not Arteta’s biggest fan but some of the criticism he’s receiving is more about the emotions of the posters than the reality. The idea that he believes he’s a ‘generational’ post and his arrogance is betrayed by his team selections seems like projection from an emotionally charged section of the fan base. Fair enough if you don’t think he’s good enough but arrogant, don’t see it myself.

  28. Leedsgunner

    Whilst we standstill we Arteta, Tottenham is considering bringing in Nagaelsmann.

    He actually IS a genuine generational coach with a track record and independent admirers….

    After this season who genuinely believes Arteta is a generational coach? (Your best friend and your mum doesn’t count.)

    Besides Arteta and his obsessives like to have it both ways…

    When he wins he’s a generational coach… but when he loses he’s a newbie who.should be given more time and more allowances. You can’t have it both ways.

    Arteta has to be held accountable.

  29. Graham62

    When players are clearly not good enough but you play them anyway, at the expense of leaving out players that clearly are good enough or have upped their games, something is clearly wrong with your leadership skills.

    When I see Bellerin play each week, along with Luiz and Willian( let’s add GX to the list) you have to question Arteta’s abilities at progressing the team. Lacazette is being ignored. Pepe, who was showing signs of improvement, is not to be seen and Martinelli is a spectator. Cedric should be ahead of Bellerin all day long and Holding ahead of Luiz.

    Yes we won yesterday and we all know it should have been done and dusted after the first leg, but, let’s be honest, Benfica are a poor side in comparison to many of the teams left in the Europa League and, although I dearly want Arsenal to win this competition, it clearly isn’t going to happen if Arteta persists with making so many poor decisions.

    Anyway, at least we’re in the draw.

  30. Kroenkephobe

    Qataris have their culture and NO culture is superior to the other,
    The money from the contractors in Qatar flows through London so the holier than thou act is hypocritical as usual
    Back to football

    Breathtakingly shallow post even by your standards. This isn’t culture we’re talking about in relation to the Qatar world cup, its naked exploitation of workers and corruption, in a place where they’re organising one massive sports washing event. Thousands of migrant workers have died building those ridiculous stadia and you’re saying “nothing to see” ..

    Other pariah states such as Israel, Russia, UAE, Saudi and Bahrain are all at it as well through sponsoring sports such as grand pricks (!), cycling and golf. Try telling those c*unts that sports and politics shouldn’t be mixed.

    Everyone welcome to come and have fun in the Qatari sun, just don’t drink any alcohol, have a same sex relationship or criticise the regime.

    I’m not an investment banker so it’s not hypocritical in my view to have a pop at money launderers and kleptocratic thugs. You, on the other hand, seem to think it’s better to doff your cap to them.

    I seriously worry that by the end of that sham tournament, the death toll will be even higher from fans and players suffering heat exhaustion. I used to play in Africa at 30 celsius plus temperatures at 9000 feet plus altitude and it’s hard going. In Qatar the mercury will reach 50 celsius with 100% humidity. Let that sink in Sid and ask yourself if all that death and corruption was worth it in a country with virtually no football legacy, but a top notch record for human rights abuse.

    Arise Sir Sid Blatter!

  31. Terraloon

    Ok celebrate the comeback which means progress in the competition but let’s be brutally honest Benefica are a sad image of a once great club who over two legs should have been dispatched with ease.
    What we witnessed last night was not inspiring in any shape or form and highlighted just how much work needs to be done to get Arsenal back into a position where there could be a realistic challenge for a top 4 place that must be achieved if not just income is to grow but linked to that is to attract that next generation of supporters that will be crucial
    As some pointed at Saka is potentially being overplayed and is in the red zone. Do not be surprised if he continues to be played on such a regular basis he almost certainly will suffer a serious injury and based on history that could easily be an ACL. An injury type that seems to be commonplace in the modern era.
    It’s abundantly clear that there is an over reliance on Saka, Tierney and potentially ESR all three have to be carefully managed but the depth and versatility of the squad is so flimsy Areta isn’t being afforded the luxury to rotate his squad .
    Today is the last working day prior to 28/2. The relevance of this is it’s the deadline for Arsenal to file the accounts at Companies House for the period up to 31/5/2020. Hitherto the accounts would be filed around Christmas and yes I know the last year was challenging but other clubs have managed to publish their accounts not just on time but for the majority way in advance of the deadline
    Those accounts of course will be nearly 12 months out of date but unless I have missed something those 12 months will have been more challenging and of course as many have failed to factor in will see the repayment dated for massive loan that Arsenal have taken.
    Will PEA still get his CL qualification as part of his new contract ? What will the loyalty bonuses be to players like Willian? Will the wage bill still be of CL scale ? There’s one thing for sure funds will need to be found to challenge even for a EL place because no matter how much Saka, ESR develop there will be a need to invest in experienced players

  32. Gonsterous

    The world cup in qatar will be one of the worst but so long as fifa gets paid they won’t care. It’s not a sport anymore, it’s a business.

    The UN and Nato are some other corrupt organization, that just cater to the well being of the top 6 nations in the world. It’s kind of like a hidden dictator for the world.

  33. Tom

    Yea Sid, not a great take on cultural differences.
    I actually wish my country would adopt some of the aspects of foreign cultures that might be superior to ours.
    Public stoning would be really cool, where they bury poor bastards waste deep in the ground and chuck rocks at their heads.
    Instead of spring training the major league pitchers could practice their fast balls all year round
    on millions of adulterous Americans.
    One thing I don’t get though………..why bury women shoulders deep and men waist deep?
    Hardly seems fair. Women are already smaller and then you give the stone throwers less to aim at.
    Seems like men are being discriminated against there.
    Well, I guess I’m just nitpicking now.

  34. Graham62

    As soon as FIFA (Sepp Blatter and his cronies) were found out, they should have stripped Qatar of hosting the WC.

    Also FIFA should have been dismantled and a new governing body set up.

    To this day both FIFA and UEFA remain corrupt.

  35. Tony

    I understand your thinking, the arrogance is him repeatedly making same or similar mistakes.

    I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping tomorrow he’s going to go on a winning run bringing home the EL cup and a reasonable finish position.

    The reality is the mistakes keep coming with alarming consistency. And his pressers now are Comedy Central for anyone not an Arsenal fan.

    There’s confidence and then there’s an arrogance in believing you’re right when it’s blatantly staring in your face on many levels it definitely isn’t.

    Emotions obviously play a big part in a poster’s mood with his/her deliberations.

    There’s a lot of ire because Arteta isn’t judged the same way as Emery or Wenger.

    Just seems he has zero accountability from above so fans here vent, as they can’t in the stadium.

    I’m always challenged by my particular strain of ADHD, which can briefly relieve me of all filters. If I didn’t keep it check, I’d be sine die by Pedro.🙄

    As I’ve said previously I’d bring in Rangnick and get him to sort out Arteta and Edu in any way he chooses.

    Good to see your cold weather has abated and immunisation is in full swing.

    Spring is not far off so let’s hope our fortunes change with the new season.

  36. Pierre

    It shows how individual players are important for the performance and success of a football team.

    Liverpool with Van Dijk and Fabinho, United with Fernandes, Tottenham with Kane and Son Leicester with Maddison.and Arsenal with Tierney an Partey..

    Anytime those players are out for their respective teams, perfomance take a dip.

    City are the exceptions due to the depth of their squad and the ability of their manager to tweak their style of football, consequently they haven’t missed aguero or Debruyne, in fact they have looked a strònger outfit without those 2 gifted footballers.

    It shows that pep is head and shoulders above the other managers in the world of football.

    I will reserve my judgement on Arteta until we have Partey and Tierney 100% fit and playing every week .

    Arteta is trying to build a side and he has had possibly his 2 most influential players on the sideline for a large part of the season, and that is part of the reason why we
    have struggled to get a consistent run of results.

    There is a nucleus of a very good side at The Arsenal..
    Trying players in different positions is normal, Saka has found his best position by chopping and changing position.

    Moving Smith rowe to the left and bringing Odegaard in as CAM may have proved to be a wise move by the manager, it hasn’t but he’s tried it and now he should go back to what works …smith rowe as CAM.

    Arteta needs to settle on a centre back pairing that works.
    It creates uncertainty with the keeper by chopping and changing the back 4, especially the centre backs.

    To me Holding and Mari , when playing together , give rhe team balance, calmness and composure and i think the goals against stats since they started playing together since the chelsea game( i think it was) will show this.

    So i say, lets give Arteta at least until the end of the year and see where we are.
    He may do an Emery and be a disaster as in the 2019/20 season, then sack him , or he may just be able to sign a few players in the summer , have a bit of luck on the injury front and hit the ground running next season.

  37. Valentin

    ESR is not a winger, he is a CAM. Where he excels is in accelerating the game with one touch combination with a partner and then running into space to receive the return pass. He can do a job as LW, but it is misusing his talent as he does not have the pace nor the dribbling ability to consistently make the difference in that position.

    I do not understand why Arteta is shunting him to LW to accommodate Ordegaard who has not been great in his No10 position. On the left, Pepe was starting to play like a £30 millions player instead of the lost puppy. So we are losing the threat of ESR in the middle and a proper winger on the left.

    Ordegaard is more a classical passer and rely on willing runners to create opening. My fear is that Ordegaard play very well for an underdog team, a defensive team on the counter attack, but not that well in a team that is expected to dominate possession. Against low bloc, it remain to be seen if he can be efficient. I would not surprised me that this is exactly the reason why Zidane does not want him. Not incisive or decisive enough against compact defense.

  38. Valentin


    You forget to take into account the quality of our opponents when assessing the defense. Holding and Mari got good results, because they were facing poor teams. Team such as WestBrom who never tested them. Against Chelsea, Mari got a yellow card who could have been a red and conceded a penalty.bso the jury is still out on his suitability against opponents that tries to score instead of roll over.

    Until now Mari has not faced any team with speedy wingers/attackers to expose him. I would rather have Gabriel facing Vardy than Mari.

    You also forget to take into account the quality of the midfield tasked to protect them. And the instructions given to that midfield. Against Benfica, our midfield players Ceballos and Xhaka were clearly under instructions to block high and or outside. So they took strange positions that let their midfield receive knock downs in space free to directly run at our defense. Time and time again, long punts flummoxed our defense. David Luiz was being pushed around, see how they play their long punts in his direction and not Gabriel. Do the same against Leicester, and Vardy will have a field day.