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. Vickingz

    You just know that Arteta is not really gonna be outsmarted by emery but he will be outsmarted by himself via his tinkering hence his bad selection for tonight’s game. Villarreal has aged defenders which means you can pace them but trust arteta not to have a game plan. I for one would go with martinelli as 9 being flanked by pepe and saka as my front 3 but I won’t be surprised to see arteta playing Auba and laca combo tonight

  2. Mark S

    It’s been awhile my friend. Hope you and the family are doing well! How are you feeling about tonight? As we know…on our day…we can give anyone a match. I’m with Pedro, we need to take it to them.

  3. DM

    Mark S

    All good thanks mate, hope you are too!

    Honestly, so hard to know which Arsenal is gonna turn up. I tend to think we’ll put on a decent performance tonight, but who the hell knows. I hope we don’t decide to risk someone like Tierney if they’re barely fit, can def see something like that going wrong. REALLY hope we don’t start Eddie up front, if Laca/Auba not fully fit and match ready then play Martinelli up top with Saka and Pepe flanking him, and let them all switch up and wreak havoc. Run at them all day long, don’t try to be too clever, just press hard as a team and run run run at their defense.

    We’ll see!

  4. Mark S

    I’m with you on your tactics. I have my concerns if Xhaka is at LB…and as well if KT is at LB tonight…and for different reasons. I can see KT having a MOTM performance, and then being out for the rest of the season. I was talking to a friend of mine about Eddie up front, and we hope he doesn’t start. He just seems to be a “dull” forward. He’s more opportunistic than skillful. In a match like tonight you need a bit of skill. Eddie capitalizes on mistakes more than he creates chances.

  5. Tom

    My only worry is the fragile minds of Arsenal players who might freeze in their tracks once they walk out of the tunnel and see the evil man who had “ruined “them.
    All the great work done by Arteta might get undone in mere minutes once their Emery induced PTSD kicks in.

  6. Mb

    When asked about one Goal Arsene Wenger would like to not count, it was the Eto’s from ’06 Champions League final.

    We played 3/4th of the match with 10 men and second string goal keeper. Henry and Freddie were everywhere on the pitch, and it took them an offside goal to go and win it.

    Those men deserved that shirt, they fought till the last second. It’s a game at the end and one has to take a loss but boy, they did a hell of fight.

    And here we are, hoping we don’t lose against a Villareal in a Europa League semi-final with players like Auba, and Xhaka and Leno..

  7. DM

    From what I’ve seen of him, Eddie is an average player, who is more of a fox-in-the-box type than an all rounder. Which would be fine if we played that kind of system, but we don’t, and he rarely does anything that I’ve been impressed with. Martinelli looks a much bigger talent, and has a far higher ceiling. Likewise Balogun, although he hasn’t been given many opportunities to prove himself (but when he has, he’s looked sharp and much more exciting than Eddie).

  8. Mb

    I don’t think anyone other than KT, Saka and ESR can be even on bench in that team. Not because others are not technical or whatever, but they don’t fight the fight.

  9. Mb

    A good time to place Martinelli up top? If it don’t deliver, there ain’t a rule you can’t make a substitution half time?!

  10. Vintage Gun

    “No more loan moves please. If we can’t buy Odegaard then go for Buendia or someone similar.”

    Yep thats exactly where my head is at regarding the AM position this summer. The fact that we tried but were priced out for Buendia in January BEFORE going for Odegaard would suggest he’d be our main creative target again come summer. Especially with the numbers he’s put up this season.

    Julian Brant and the such are just cheap cop outs imo

  11. Le Sauce

    I bet Nketiah is starting up today.. laca or auba would’ve guaranteed us the away goals we need. Fingers crossed tonight

  12. Rich

    Hopefully Tierney is fit, he completely changes the dynamic of the team

    ……..Holding Mari
    ……….Partey Xhaka
    Saka Odegaard Smith-Rowe

    Hopefully we get a big performance from Partey, it’s exactly the type of occasion we signed him for, neither Partey or Odegaard are strangers to Spanish football

  13. Champagne Charlie

    A negative result will see the swift return of a few posters who were wedded to Emery, no doubt about it.

    Fully expect Banford to return of his 6th burner account in such circumstances.

  14. Gonsterous

    C’mon arsenal. Up and at em.
    Wouldn’t mind seeing martinelli up front with saka and pepe either side of him and ESR behind them. That would be a strong attacking line up.

    Any news on partey?? Is he fit?

  15. Spanishdave

    Arteta going boring defensive with Auba and Laca in the home leg.
    Can’t see us wining this leg maybe a one nil.

  16. Gonsterous


    A negative result would rightly get posters questioning the club. This is the EL semis with the only way to the CL, so of course we can’t afford to fk it up.

  17. Valentin

    The Countinho, Aguero rumours are the consequence of that stupid cost exercise of making redundant nearly the entire scouting department.

    If you look at stats without context, those are exactly the kind of player you will see:

    + Past it players: the stat look backward, so the negative trend has not yet been baked in the stats

    + Players who were brilliant but have been injured a lot: surely somebody should also look at the injury record before making those decision! Especially with Arsenal own injuries record.

    + Players who are good 90% of the time, but will make an horrible mistake 10% (Xhaka, Mustafi, Leno, Luiz, …).

    + Players who never take any risk, so there is never any negative but there is no positive either (Elneny, …)

    Those are exactly the kind of players smart analysers will avoid if there is no underlying benefit (cheap, injury is now cured a la Kanu, overmars, …).

    The best players that Wenger successfully recruited will fall in the category of failed players. Players who at their previous club have tremendous number but then failed because of the coach at the next. He will then rescue them and make stars of them (Henry, Vieira, …). Today’s management would immediately exclude them.

  18. Captain Tierney

    I can see why Arteta would want Coutinho.

    Arteta likes to play creative players on the wing with full backs providing the width. We saw that with Saka earlier in the season where be played that LW/10 role.
    Now we see it with ESR at LW.

    If you want a player to play that position you cant better than Coutinho. I mean for the price we are looking for (given we’re looking at a loan)
    In an ideal world I would have Grealish in that role. But I doubt we have a spare 80 million after addressing our Midfield, Right back and Center back issues.

  19. Rich

    If we were going to invest in another forward, we should go for Pedro Neto

    Wonderful footballer, very similar to Saka

  20. Mb

    @Pedro – I have dropped you couple of emails for my own blog’s promotion if that is something you can help me with, if you are reading this.

    sorry guys 😂

  21. Nelson

    All their players are over 26 years old except Chukwueze. Their GK is supposed to be weak. Their FB’s are slow. We should be able to over run them.

  22. Almuniasaynomore

    If Arteta plays that team you suggested I’d be optimistic if not he’ll take flack for a negative performance. Nonetheless I hope he doesn’t risk Tierney and the lad only plays if genuinely ready.

    Is neto available I wonder? Wolves cant justify selling their best players while on field performances keep deteriorating surely. I thought they had the financial support to avoid such a situation?

  23. Guns of SF

    A big NO to Countinho
    I like the guy, but the injuries and price are not what we need.

    A healthy Coutinho I would rate over Ode. He has the skills and PL experience.
    However, we can do better.

    Its a shame that Edu and his small band of scouts pick their nose most of the day, and surf the net, instead of doing work.

  24. Nelson

    I read that Richard Garlick, who specialises in sports law, is due to join Arsenal as our head of football operations later this year. Why do we need another lawyer in the administration?

  25. Thank you and goodnight

    “The Arsenal board are unhappy with Arteta’s progress with the Gunners and are already thinking about replacements. Arteta’s last chance of silverware this season is in Europe’a second competition. They face Villarreal on Thursday night in the Europa League semi-finals first-leg and the pressure is on.”

    What do you guys make of that, any truth in it you reckon?

  26. Time up

    I’ve put a good money bet around 500 ponds that Arteta would not be manger of Arsenal after December 2021. However, if he wins the EL, I would be happy to lose the money and left European trophy.

  27. Almuniasaynomore

    The Taoiseach (PM) of Ireland has just finished addressing the nation. He asked us,I shit you not, to ‘trust the process’. I will never question your contacts again….

  28. Champagne Charlie


    I mean they’re not ever credited with being a trusted source. The Athletic seems to have that crown and they’re putting out information that contradicts what’s said there.

    Lots about how Arteta is a great manager up and down the line, that a big positive is how the entire club feels collectively bound for the first time in years and that there’s a clear plan of where we want to go etc.

    Obviously that conflicts with posters like Val who forever talks up rifts, and a disconnect between Edu and Arteta.

    Who to trust, who to trust…

  29. TheLegendaryDB10

    Really looking forward to tonight’s game!

    I can only agree that we need to take our chances tonight. To try and score 1 or 2 away goals and not concede would be a dream.

    This ofc does depend on which team turns up and the team that Arteta puts out.

    I can only agree that putting Martinelli up top would be the sensible thing to do if both Auba and Laca are not fully fit.

    Really curious to see Artetas’ line up for the first XI.

  30. Rich

    Pepe down the middle?


    Have no idea if we could get Neto, Liverpool managed to convince them to sell Jota for a reported £41 million

    I’d much rather we went for Neto over Coutinho, and Neto at £45-£50mill, and £70k p/w

    Makes more sense than Grealish for £90 million and £200k + p/w

  31. Rich

    Odegaard as a false 9?

    He’s certainly got the ability to hold it up

    Saka Smith-Rowe Pepe

    All three players behind him will look to get beyond him that’s for sure

    With Xhaka rarely getting past the halfway line, he’s preferred Pepe on the left to provide width, not sure why he’d change it now

  32. Chris

    At least it isn’t Willian playing false 9.

    That front 3 interchanging could cause their back line problems. Hopefully that’s the plan for them to do that and drag them out of positions.

  33. Moe

    C’mon, that’s a good line up……….give the lads a chance. That team is the best lineup under the circumstances except for Bellerin.

  34. Danny S

    Xhaka and Mari making up the left of defence leaves us vulnerable to pace. I think Saka instead of smith Rowe on the right would provide better support.

    That said, this is the game I hope we discover Pepe is Henry reincarnate and he smashes a hat trick from up front.

  35. Moe

    Arteta just selected his best 11 given availabilities……….can’t be mad at him for that. Now let’s see how he coaches in game. I think Pepe will spring a surprise today

  36. WengerEagle

    Chukwueze vs Xhaka isn’t a 1 vs 1 battle that we want to see so hopefully one of our midfielders, preferably Partey, can slot in and cover that flank if we’re caught on the break.

  37. BacaryisGod

    I’m also against Coutinho but if a loan swap is available next season with Auba, I would happily trade bloated contracts for a season as it would also allow us to give more minutes to Martinelli and Balogun.

  38. TheLegendaryDB10

    I’ll admit that Pepe up top has not been tried and is a very ballsy move by Arteta.

    This could actually surprise Emery. Let’s see how he deals with that.

    I do like the rest of the team set up.

    I do hope this works! Come on The Arsenal!!!!

  39. BacaryisGod

    I’m not passing judgement on this line-up. I admire Arteta going for it with pace and movement up front Hopefully the lack of a natural CF won’t backfire Let’s not compare with Pep because he’s used a false nine many times in his career This is Arsenal’s first time this season. Fingers crossed.

  40. Pierre

    The line up doesn’t surprise me, I made this comment yesterday
    “I have a feeling that we may see Odegaard starting and it is a possibility that Arteta may use him up top to give Arsenal more control of the game higher up the pitch…”

    Quite a risky move by Arteta , the question is …is he over thinking things regarding tactics , systems and personnel..

    There is a history of managers over thinking things in big games and coming a cropper, let’s hope Arteta gets it right.

    If not , he has enough in reserve..

  41. Peckobill

    Ohhh Mikel drops something interesting , Pepe as a 9 or Odegaard as a false 9 . I’m intrigued. Anyone know if they play a high line if so they could be in trouble with pepe’s pace and those 3 behind him feeding

  42. WengerEagle

    Moreno the obvious danger man but in Chukwueze they have a 1 vs 1 specialist and Paco is good for popping up with a goal.

    Parejo running things in midfield. We managed to nullify him once before when he was at Valencia so we can do it again.

    Capoue and Foyth are Spuddie rejects so there are players that we can get at. Not much pace at the back, they will be frightened of Pepe and Saka on fast breaks so expect them to sit fairly deep.

    I like the inclusion of Odegaard for this reason. Not a bad lineup all things considered.

  43. Sid

    Pepe cannot lead the line, would prefer Ode playing the Firmnho role.
    The fact that Pepe us leading the line means Diet peps plan is to have 10 men defending and hope pepe gets a goal like Auba in the FA cup.

  44. TR7

    Would rather have preferred a target man like Martinelli upfront but still the front 4 looks fluid on paper. If it doesn’t work out well, Arteta can change things at half time.

  45. Danny

    If that front line clicks then we should be 2 up by half time.
    Let’s all remind Arteta: 5 fuckin’ subs!!!

  46. BacaryisGod

    Having said that, he’s got 4 good players upfront. I really hope it works out.

    As Pedro said, we need away goals and hopefully this will deliver them.

  47. AFC Forever

    “I agree Karsa. I am totallt baffled with this decision. Pepe has not once played up front this season.So why now?”

    Injuries and tactics. Lacazette is out. Aubamayang has had Malaria so he’s not fully fit, no point starting him when the game is at its most physically intense. There is going to be a lot of interchanging and putting as many of your best players onto the pitch is never a bad idea. Pleased Chambers is in ahead of Bellerin, he’s a much better player. It’s the best 11 we could select.

  48. Rich


    If we win, then the managers selection was the right one

    If we lose, the managers selection was the wrong one

    Regardless of the selection

  49. Moe

    He fielded the best available 11….now let’s see the strategy/tactics. Love this team, Arteta didn’t shrink and you have to applaud that for a change. In Martinelli and Auba we have an ability to come back if needed.

  50. DivineSherlock

    Villareal absolutely play the high line , but since that lineup reveal I think they’ll be having doubts. For me the key player today is Ceballos , if he plays well I believe we win this leg comfortably. He has to set the tone with quick passes.

  51. Karsa

    Everyone is fine with Arteta picking youth. It’s a question of formation not age.

    Of course. But we won’t know the formation until the game starts. And neither will Emery.

    A fluid front four wouldn’t be a bad option imo.

  52. Pierre

    What i expect to see is Pepe on the left and Saka on the right, Odegaard as the false 9.

    I would expect Smith Rowe to be the one making the runs off Odegaard and breaking the Villarael defensive line .

    It’s all about the timing of Smith rowe’s runs and I believe he is made for that role.

  53. TheLegendaryDB10

    AFC Forever

    I understand…. but we also have Martinelli who is far better suited to that role.

    If they do interchange, I’ll have no qualms. This is the best way to tactically confuse Villarreal and get these goals rolling in (I hope!)!!

  54. Nelson

    I guess Odegaard will perform the role of Laca to link up play in the middle. One of the other three forwards will be free to enter the box.

  55. WengerEagle

    Roma aren’t knocking United out.

    Arteta vs Emery SF and an OGS vs Arteta Final (Dar.iano no doubt will be playing medium again on here), book it.

    Agendas galore.

  56. Lacaqualidie

    Well that line up is a turn up for the books. Didn’t expect that. Lack of a left back may have forced a back 3.

  57. MidwestGun

    Sup Y’all … getting close now.. Lineup is ok.. I expect more of a 4-2-2-2

    I did have to laugh yesterday when Pedro said Martinelli would/should start… Arteta doesn’t consider him a starter… it’s that simple.
    Anyhow…. I’m optimistic… but certainly not very confident. given our form this season.

  58. Habesha Gooner

    Pepe through the middle gives me no confidence at all. His qualities are not that of a CF. He is better at facing the goal than playing with his back to goal. This was a game primed for Martinelli. Arteta once again shows me he doesn’t understand basic nature of players. Anyway I hope this gamble pays off. It is time to deliver or get sacked.

  59. Lacaqualidie

    April 29, 2021 19:14:33

    My new tv just packed in.

    Not surprised, Samesong are like Panaphonic and Sorny.

  60. TheLegendaryDB10


    Keown is dead right.

    I just wish that this did happen. Ek better increase his bid significantly though to around £2.5 billion.

    Unless he is planning to buy 50%+ of shares??? This is my thinking. But if this is the case, I don’t see Kroenke sell either. He needs to be bought out outright.

  61. Lacaqualidie

    BBC have just changed their Arsenal formation from a 3-5-1-1 with Pepe up front and Odegaarde behind to a 4-2-3-1 with Xhaka at LB and Odegaarde up front and Pepe on the left, Saka on the right.

    We’ll have to see how they really do line up. If Xhaka is LB then we could be in trouble.

  62. MidwestGun

    I personally think… A bid of 3 bill is more a bid that couldn’t be refused. Forbes had us valued at 2.8 bill even during Covid just this year. And good businessman don’t sell during the lowest point in any market.. And Kroenke is a giant douche. but he knows business. especially real estate. And that’s how real estate investors think. And I don’t think kroenke will sell below market value either just to “get out”.. That’s now how long term inverstors think. I would love to be wrong though.. We need change.. from the top down.

  63. Gazzap

    I thought playing xhaka was going to be artetas biggest mistake tonight but no he’s managed to outdo himself by not playing a striker.
    Gabriel would do a better job at left back. Move xhaka into midfield play Martinelli at CF.

  64. Moe

    No false 9 please. Pepe through the middle to chase after the ball with their slow ass defenders. Switch it to confuse them because all 4 offensive players can rotate here and there. Partey, Xhaka and particularly Ceballos need to tread the needle to allow Pepe and Saka to run at them. Top stuff from Arteta.

  65. TheLegendaryDB10


    That is my thinking to.

    You need to pay what he values the club at. Not it’s face value.

    He is a long term speculator as you say. So Ek better shell out… or link up with another Arsenal conglomerate???

  66. Rich

    Tonight might be the last time we ever hear from Pedro, this could be his last ever post before going into hiding

  67. MidwestGun


    Yep…. might take a consortium to get to the number.. Honestly, I think that EK dude might just be trying to drum up publicity for Spotify more so then a legit deal.

  68. Lacaqualidie

    DB10 – it isn’t they’ve lined up 4-2-3-1 on the pitch. ESR looks to be a false 9. Xhaka at LB.