by .

Here we go. The big one. Unai Emery has his chance to seek out vengeance against his ex-club. The Emeryista are sharpening their cuck talons, the #ArtetaOut brigade are penning tweets to save into their drafts, the whole world is watching for what happens at the Ceramica stadium this evening.

The importance of the tie cannot be underestimated.

A loss won’t see Arteta out of a job, it’ll just mean he loses vital fan capital in the stadium next season.

A win doesn’t claw back the love, but it goes a long way towards repairing the shame of this season.

The game is two legs, but it won’t be treated like that by the fans. There will be no ‘well, the second leg is more important.’ Tonight needs a massive performance. We’ve sputtered in the league for the last 6 weeks. There have been some bright moments, but not many.

We’re roughly 18 months into this project, there needs to be some joy. A shot at silverware is the Fairy liquid to the tarred wings of this season. Trophies have a way of making you forget, like parents with money after they’ve spanked you in a Tesco car park in front of your friends FOR SOMETHING YOU DIDN’T EVEN DO. They are a managerial elixir.

Arteta knows this, I think the players do as well.

Unai Emery has conducted himself well since he left. He called Arteta and offered his team an offboarding meeting, which is rare in football and very professional. He also tried to sell him a house, which is very Del Boy, but also quite amusing.

Emery is a god in this competition, he’s a master over two legs, he’ll fancy himself this ebening.

Arteta needs to show that he’s the better coach. He needs a smarter plan, better-motivated players, and some decisive moments to go our way.

Barcelona abused the backline of Villareal at the weekend. Good movement with variety will unlock chances… but that openness comes with problems up the other end. They have nimble players that can break at speed and unlock crowded boxes. They’ll also be a danger from setpieces.

Key to tonight, we need to have a calm opening 20 minutes. From there, we have to take the game to them. We’re not good enough to play for a 0-0 and a 1-1 would be VERY worrying

Off topic.

I did hear some rumblings that Arsenal is sniffing around Coutinho again for a potential loan move next season. That’s worrying on a few levels.

  1. It indicates that Odegaard might not be coming back.
  2. It shows that the club has NOT learned its lesson with older players
  3. It would show that we’re not even doing the basics like assessing injury records.

Now, the flipside of this is that Coutinho, however you cut it, is absolutely top drawer as a player. He shoots, he scores, he assists, he can control… and he’ll have a chip on his shoulder.

BUT… since April 24th 2020, he’s missed 233 days due to injury. He’s barely managed 10 games worth of minutes this season. If you want to make an impact in the Premier League, you need to be fit.

Barcelona has been trying to rid themselves of him since they bought him.

We have been here over and over and over again, are the club really going to go down this path again? Have we learned nothing?

We’ll see.

Let’s make it through this evening before we get too worked up about a rumour that is painfully believable.

See you in the comments.


Jump to comment form ↓

  1. Habesha Gooner

    Did you guys read that Fabrizio Romano said we will go for a CB if Luiz leaves?

    How vindictive can you get not to give a 30 mil CB prodigy a chance because he bad mouthed you a little?

    We need him out before the start of next season. He is going to kill our future if he keeps going like this.

  2. Arsnil

    Arteta just has to go. Not a clue as to picking players or setting up a team. Xhaka at left back??Ceballos in CM. Should be nowhere near any team as he is slow and petulant. Martinelli on the sideline?? Playing a false 9 instead because he saw Man City at it the night before. Saka and ESR shadows of themselves. He has reduced Arsenal to this. Utterly depressing. We’re just whistling past the graveyard with this man. He doesn’t know what he is doing. The two subs with thirty seconds to go WTF???

  3. Arsnil

    No WinorDie he has to go. Look what he has done to the younger players. Martinelli? Balogun? Saliba? Mavropanos? Just look at Chelsea and Man City’s energy and organisation and compare it to our one paced dross. This is what happens when you consistently pick the wrong players in.the wrong positions. This was Tinkerman on speed. The players he keeps insistently picking are just not up to it. The whole team and club has lost its bottle. What are we waiting for. – Arteta to come good?!! You’re having a laugh. He’s eighteen months in for Gods sake!!!

  4. Pierre

    Arteta did fall into the trap of over thinking his tactics and system.
    This was probably because he wanted to fit Odegaard into the side and in the end he called it wrong..

    That Arsenal team last night was the same side (bar Lacazette)that beat Prague 4-0 with a scintillating performance..

    The set up of the side nullified the attributes of Smith Rowe as he hardly had a worthwhile touch on the ball until we brought on a striker (Martinelli), enabling Smith Rowe to play his natural position.

    I would expect the line up for the return leg to be something very close to this.
    Chambers, Holding, mari, Tierney
    Xhaka, partey
    Pepe, Smith Rowe, saka
    Aubamayang.(Lacazette not fit i presume)

    The fly in the ointment could be Odegaard and Arteta’s propensity to want to fit him into the side, which will change the dynamics in our attack and Arteta may feel the need to move Smith Rowe to the left in place of Pepe., which I feel would be a mistake.

    Hopefully Arteta will learn from last night and instead of trying to be clever with his system, he should just keep it simple to allow the players to play their natural game instead of having a hundred different things going on in their heads on tactics and positioning on the field.

    If they don’t know how to play in a conventional 4-2-3-1 by now , they will never know..

    Keep it simple.

  5. Mark

    Yeah Habs, but it shows that he talks Bollox and will say absolutely anything. I mean your whole plan fell apart after 4 mins ! 4 mins, because we conceded that’s his excuse! Well it couldn’t have been much of a fuckin plan then, could it.

    No Martinelli, Balogun not even on the bench. This guy will come up with absolutely anything, to not play Martinelli. To the total detriment of the team . He has to go.

    Just looking at his expression, his body language as he spoke . It’s like he’s struggling to accept reality. Almost like he’s thinking “eet didn’t appen like deez in my ed, eez zis real?….”

    All Arteta has done has set the most of the worst records in Arsenal history by a single manager. This at least is a record that is unlikely to be broken by anyone else, ever.

  6. Arsnil

    And as for a great coach??? Yeah??? Xhaka at left back? Ceballos anywhere near the team?? Martinelli on the sideline?? Our not closing down the approach to the first goal from seventy yards away?? The defending for the goal from the corner?? The energy or lack of in defending and attacking compared to Man City?? Good coach my arse

  7. Pierre

    “A proper team would have got after them following their sending off as they are really poor”

    We did allow them to get a footing in the game after their sending off , though I’m not sure if that was the players or manager’s fault.

    I think we probably were happy to be back in the tie and didn’t want to mess it up again and became very negative in our play.

    It’s at that point that a manager earns his wages as he should have insisted that we stayed on the front foot, unfortunately we sat back and it nearly cost us.

  8. Mysticleaves

    Lol carzola are you a troll? What is worth watching In this 2021 Arsenal team?

    Actually, it’s people like you that still make excuses for the shit show we have become that needs to be thrown off the club by any means

  9. kjelli

    Get Öde and Ceballos out of the club asap.
    Pepe is going backwards and so is Chambers, why is he in the team anyhow ??
    Arteta is committing harakiri with the fans faster than a rabbits intercourse ..

  10. Terraloon

    My head was spinning till quite late last night so this has been my first opportunity to catch up on others thoughts.

    I don’t know if it’s arrogance or blinkers but it’s time that some took a step back and realised that Arsenal as of today where, the bulk of players, the manager and indeed the club are mid table and whilst a half decent PL outfit should blow the likes of Villa Real into touch Arsenal are a pale shadow of the Arsenal of the past and sorry not even half decent.

    Arsenal reminded me yesterday of almost an bunch of players who just turned up to play a game and the 1st eleven that turned up grabbed a shirt with late arrivals on the bench.

    Leno to be fair made a couple of decent saves but UE set them up to take full advantage of the players and whilst they clearly tired they were the better team .

    Who ever came up with the idea of playing Xhaka at left back should be in receipt of his P45 today ( and yes I know who that is) Xhaka was so far out of his depth it was an embarrassment and as the game progressed playing Ceballos was always going to at some point lead to a red card. Their midfield had no real pace but was Ceballos wearing lead boots ?

    ESR is in desperate need of a rest for me he is starting to flag noticeably. Arguably Saka likewise

    For me there has to be more to Martinelli not starting. Ok we know Arteta is stubborn but he surely can’t be that mad. Can he ?

    Of course a 2-1 deficit isn’t a mountain to climb so am I confident that it will be a trip to Gadansk for Arsenal?

    Nope I am far far from confident as there is a goal or two in Villa Real and let’s be honest had it not been for a very very dodgy penalty yesterday their keeper really didn’t have a really busy night.

  11. Black Snake

    He’ll still be in charge this time next year. We’ve got a non-existent owner who doesn’t want to sell, a clueless board who have no idea what they’re doing, a novice manager who is making it up as he goes along. The club is fucked.

  12. Guns of Brixton

    Arteta really be digging his own grave at this point.

    His in game management really has to improve. Stick to the basics as well. Attempting a false 9 approach when we have 3 CFs on the bench is not necessary at all at all.

    The fact he reverted back to Martnelli and pepe wide amd Auba deployed as a CF tells you that was the eleven to originally play.

    We need to be ruthless this summer. Some of these players are not it. Ceaballos, had his moments but by his own words cannot make the cut in this league. Chambers isnt and will never be good enough. On loan at Fulham he found the level he will thrive and play football at.

    .. to depressing to go through the entire team

  13. shaun

    That’s about right Pierre and how I saw it as well , stupid from a coach who is supposed to know his players , really bad selection then he lets ESR float but he can’t naturally as ODE IS TAKING UP HIS SPACE WITH ZERO EFFECT I guess arsenal beat Arsenal again just poor from Arteta really poor , everybody must see this now the Arsenal team is way better than Villareal .Ceballos thinks his game is more suited to la liga man that is funny. Any coach worth his salt would have changed Ceballos at half time for Elneney not great but at least a bit more strength in the middle , Ceballos was more like Bambi trying to wrestle food off polar bears .I just don’t understand why Arteta keeps pushing ESR out for ODE when is is obvious the tempo is higher and more productive with ESR in that position but the generational coach goes one better and manages to nullify both with his stupid system ….brainless

  14. Gonsterous

    Looking at our wage bill and the fee paid to our players, how can we say we are a mid table club?
    We have a team full of international players who represent their teams every time a friendly or tournament is played.

    Arsenal have a more than capable top 6 squad. Not a team that finishes 10th each season. That’s artetas standard not arsenals and many fans are confusing the two as the same.

  15. Gonsterous


    I don’t blame saka. Poor lad has been run into the ground. How many pointless games did he play when he could do with a rest, or could have been subbed off?

    Arteta breaking the youngsters one by one.

  16. Gonsterous

    Even if we did win the EL, what evidence is there that we can hit the ground running and be a better team?
    We could be out of the CL in the group stage (with arteta breaking another record) and then finish in 10th with the hopes of winning the FA cup and trying to get to Europe via a back door.

    How shit is that? Wonder what that would do to the blood pressure of some of the older fans.

  17. peanuts&monkeys

    “999 managers out of 1000 would have taken
    Ceballos off. What did we do to deserve this absolute chump.”

    Good question: “what did we do….”

    Ans: we put up with Wenger’s shit for 7 years past his prime.

    Arsenal mngt know the fanbase is the most generous and tolerant one. So, why take the pain?

  18. peanuts&monkeys

    “The charlatan would Not last with fans in the stadium.”

    Not really, Sid. If Wenger could last those 7 horrible years, Arteta can pull along till 2022 with ease. Arsenal fans are the most generous ones.

  19. shaun

    we should have not been playing a false nine that’s just the coach’s shit selection it should have been
    pepe ,ESR, Saka with Martinelli up top Xhaka moved back into the middle and Cedric at LB as he has much more pace and is used to defending against quick wingers how Arteta thinks Xhaka can be good at that well you know what I think ………..dumb ass, Saka has not been shit forcing ODE into the selection just completely fucked the forward dynamic this defeat is on the coach he got it badly wrong

  20. Captain Tierney

    Also the reason Martinelli doesn’t start enough is because of his technical security most probably. Arteta loves to control the ball and create little triangles and attack the ‘space’ as he calls it.

    Martinelli has to get better at this aspect of his game. This is also the reason Pepe wasnt getting a look in ahead of Willian at the start of the season and now he is usually benched for ESR.

    But Arteta took it too far yesterday. Playing with no striker is a luxury we cannot afford. We do not have De bruynes and Fodens and Gundogans and Silvas in our team. Our midfield total goals scored is less than 5 ( all comps).
    Martinelli in his 20 minutes on the pitch showed us what we were missing.

  21. peanuts&monkeys

    Some one wrote Dela Mare (i couldn;t locate him/her here) is P&M. Sorry to disspoint you folks. I have not been writing in this Arteta Knows Best column post/blog for weeks now.

  22. peanuts&monkeys

    Someone wrote Dela Mare (i couldn;t locate him/her here) is P&M. Sorry to disspoint you folks. I have not been writing in this Arteta Knows Best column post/blog for weeks now.

  23. Ishola70

    Just two wins in the last ten matches now for Arteta and those two wins were against EPL fodder team Sheffield United and Slavia Prague who although having some good cup performances in europe would lets be honest be in relegation battles every season if they were transported from the Czech Republic into the EPL.

    Not good reading.

  24. Foxy

    Xhaka was totally hopeless at FB last night. Every time they attacked his side pepe, Martinelli or Mari had to come and double up as he cannot even close down a player without fouling them. Then going forward I don’t think he ever crossed the half way line and only really wanted to stop and the pass back or sideways as soon as he had a player in front of him. – pathetic and Arteta really thinks he his better in that position than Cedric who he has clearly had a fall out with.?

  25. Vintage Gun

    “We had the toys out of the pram moment in the last round against Prague and we spanked them in the second leg. It’s only half time.”

    Bard, it’s not the result thats got everyone down (as 2-1 defeat away is a pretty decent result) it’s the manner of the performances. We rarely play good football under Arteta and we rarely shoot on target. Yesterday was another hot on the heels of Everton and Fulham.
    One shot on target in open play in a Euro Cup semi?


  26. Ishola70

    Captain Tierney
    “Arteta loves to control the ball and create little triangles and attack the ‘space’ as he calls it.”

    You make us sound like a good team this season with this description.

    Are we watching the same side?

    Maybe the word “attempts” is missing from your description..

    Arteta “attempts” to create little triangles, Arteta “attempts” to control the ball.

    If not he is not very effective in what he is doing.

    tbh you can’t “control” a match in any consistent way over a period of any real time if you have the midfield that Arsenal has been parading for too long now.

  27. Leftside

    How can COVID be a factor for Arteta? What kind of cop out is that? There are plenty of managers who could extract a whole lot more from this group of players than the insecure egotistical manager we currently employ.

  28. Almuniasaynomore

    Have you ever considered the concept of empathy? Have you for one moment ever pondered on the possibility that other posters have a view that while being different from yours is equally valid? We all want what’s best for arsenal but disagree with how that should be achieved,that’s ok, its adults debating. Those who cant watch at the moment are in that position because their love for the club makes them suffer when the club suffers,they cant bear to watch it. Others feel they have to bear witness no matter how painful. Different perspectives, both valid. Taking one group and insulting them because you don’t understand them is demeaning yourself not them. Arguing that you alone understand the situation while the rest of us are dwelling in ignorance shows a really disturbing lack of humility. Have a think lad.

  29. Vintage Gun

    “Can we talk about how shit Saka has been recently?”

    Saka’s 19, in the running for the PFA young player of the year, carried the team on his back for the most part of the season, played through fatigue and injury, broke into the National team, played in at least five positions for us this season.

    But yeah, lets talk about how shit he’s been lately

  30. Sotongunner

    Personally I think Arteta isn’t playing Martinelli because he has told him the truth. His tactics aren’t working and he should be picking him, this kid can play any position across the front three.
    I think unfortunately Arteta sees himself as some sort of disciplinarian and it’s easy to bully young 19 year olds, less so experienced internationals, hence the reliance on them. This works when you are making correct decisions and winning. He isn’t and hasn’t been most of the season.
    Let’s see what happens in the 2nd leg but looks to me like Arteta was out thought by the supposed “bum” Emery. If a loss in the 2nd leg won’t force the kroenkes to act nothing will, as going out to that particular manager should be a personal humiliation for them and their underlings. They probably won’t though as he is cheap.

  31. Kaz


    Doesn’t change how poor he’s been. From being the guy who tried to make things happen, he’s started to become someone who looks for easy dives.

    I mean really, he’s been very poor.

  32. Foxy

    perhaps the reason Saka and Partey have looked fairly poor recently is the disjointed ever changing and no doubt confusing systems Arteta is implementing. A few months back we had a match or maybe two with Saka ESR and cedric creating havoc down the right with inventive and fast interplays. What happened Arteta dropped cedric and moved ESR to LW.

    As a result Partey and Saka are making mistakes as a result of trying too hard to make things happen in Arteta’s flawed setups

  33. Leftside

    Unai is a decent but very meek manager, and his constant overthinking and fear within him actually played into our hands yesterday. Any other manager and this tie is done already.

    We have a chance, let’s be thankful for that.

  34. Ishola70

    Saka was looking for a penalty and got it. He purposely initiated contact with the defender.

    It’s been going on for years with virtually all players.

    Where you give him credit is that he made for himself the situation where he could “cheat” by going on that run and running at defenders in a dangerous area in the first place.

    Pepe dives frequently as does Ceballos.

    It’s been long thought that a lot of players actually practice these moves to be awarded penalties. They practice “cheating”

  35. Vintage Gun


    Most of us were calling and then screaming for Arteta to rest Saka MONTHS ago for fear of burn out or worse. So if he’s starting to look jaded as we head into the final weeks of the season it’s pretty logical to work out why. Wouldn’t you think? The kid’s played alot this season.

    Your frustration should be aimed at Willian who is meant to be the senior player on the right but can’t even reach the level to be a rotational option for Saka.

  36. Ishola70

    We can have hope and one of them is that Villarreal won’t have the real DNA to go on and reach the final. They are a small provincial club that have never reached a european final before.

    We will see just how bad/average Arteta’s team is if we go out to them.

  37. Jamie

    Is it worse to go out of the tie by the hands or Unai or Ole?

    Second time in 3 seasons everything rides on one or two games to rescue our season, only this time a loss in either game means no European football next season. Disaster.

  38. Terraloon


    “We have a team full of international players who represent their teams every time a friendly or tournament is played.”

    Leno Palyed for Germany just 8 times. Isn’t close to first choice
    Cedric played once of Portugal since 2017
    Bellerin played once for Spain since 2016
    Holding never played for England
    Chambers hast played for England since 2014
    Gabriel never played for Brazil
    Luiz hasn’t played for Brazil since 2017
    ESR.Never played for England
    Willian hasn’t played for Brazil since 2019
    Lacazette hasn’t played for France since. 2017
    Mari never played for Spain
    Martinelli never played for Brazil
    Nketiah never played for England

    Tierney yes for Scotland
    Saka played for times for England not though since 2020
    PEA yes
    Xhaka Yes
    Partey yes

    Really not exceptional or first choice

  39. Kaz

    He’s been our best player and he’s been poor.

    You guys don’t seem to be able to separate criticism from your own feelings.

    Yes he needed rest, still doesn’t change for the last few weeks he’s been poor and instead of looking to grab the game, he’s started acting like Pepe.