by .


The best cup competition in the world kicks off today, we have ourselves a lovely trip to the River Trent to take on the storied Nottingham Forest. Arguably one of the best club names in the game.

What do we expect from them? A big attempt at a performance. They are smack bang in the middle of the Championship, they’ve won their last 3, their players will be looking to shine brightly whilst the whole of the UK is watching on ITV a bit later.

Arsenal will be playing a very young side because there’s no choice. COVID issues, knocks, and some big games coming up will mean heavy rotation. When you have to heavily rotate, you can’t guarantee you’ll maintain performance, so we have to be prepared for the evening to be tough.

Rumours have it that Biereth, Salah, Hutchinson, and Patino will be on the bus. BIG rumours that the conductor of the 2022 hype train, Charlie Patino, could actually make his first start for the club. That would be special, he has everyone at Arsenal buzzing about his talent, and he even has his own song with the fans. I don’t think we’ve been more sure about a second coming since Jack Wilshere.

Outside that, who knows what the team will look like, but my assumption is it’s going to be all about the fringe players. Bernd Leno, Holding, Soares, Tavares at the back. Midfield will probably have to be Patino and Lokonga for the minutes. But somewhere along the line there’s going to have to be some first-teamers you’d rather keep fresh. The Smith, Odegaard, and maybe Benny Blanco spring to mind.

Personally, I’m looking for the same thing I always do during heavy rotation periods. All 11 players dropping performances like they want to be considered for the Spurs and Liverpool games. Healthy squads create the feeling that everyone could start. Unhealthy squads see these games as an imposition. As I said many times last season, players like David Luiz used to think they were above games like this, so they’d not show up. In healthy squads, they all go there to do the business.


Ainsley made his move over to Roma to play under the delightful Jose Mourinho. I don’t really have much to say on this outside, I REALLY HOPE HE DOES WELL. It never worked out for Ains, the killer blow to his career was saying no to the right-back role which could have been lucrative for him. Still, going to Rome could be good. That league lacks power, so he’ll have a leg up on the intensity. If he’s playing well, he’ll have to up his concentration. All things he’s young enough to manage.

We’ve been linked to some midfielder in Brazil. Those rumours really do nothing for me. Their league makes Italy look intense, so it’s really hard to work out which players you can bring from over there that would make it here.

Midfield is such an interesting position to recruit for. We need a body for the now, but really, only for emergency reasons. So who are they going to buy cover for? And is it cover, or someone that can challenge Xhaka and Partey next season? Or, will they look for a midfielder that does something different to the other two. Someone that is more of a specialist for certain types of games? Is Arsenal building out two squads of players that do that same things, or are they building out a chessboard of pieces that can cover off the different types of games we struggle in?

Who knows, but if Arteta is to be believed, we’ll find out in the next 3 weeks.

Right, that’s me done, have fun in the comments x



Jump to comment form ↓

  1. G

    Pedro think the guy your talking about the is Danilo and he is going to be a player for whoever gets him.. CM, can tackle pass has energy
    Would like to see Martenelli up top with ESR , Ode, patino behind (rest sakha)

  2. Karsa

    I’ve been saying for some time that we’ll be getting a striker in this window. Still think it’s on the cards, but midfield cover would also be welcome.

    You can’t have too many good players.

  3. Emiratesstroller

    If Arsenal recruit this month then it is likely to be a central midfielder. I suspect that this will
    depend upon how Patino plays tonight.

    Yes we are short in this department this month, because 2 players have left for AFCON and AMN has also left. However, from February onwards we still have 4 players on the books to fill two places.

    I don’t see replacements coming in elsewhere unless there are further departures and that
    includes the forward line. Lacazette has made it clear that he is not leaving before the Summer and sofar there is no evidence that Aubameyang is leaving or for that matter wanted elsewhere. One of these two would need to leave before we start buying a new CF.

  4. Rich

    Bouncing for today, there’s a good chance both Patino + Salah get their first starts, as both missed out for the under 23s

    We’ll have to supplement the starting 11 with some experience, but I don’t want to see Saka, Odegaard, Tomiyasu, Tierney, Xhaka, Smith Rowe, anywhere near the starting 11

    Pack the bench with quality + experience in case we need a push in the last 20-30 minutes:

    ……….White Holding
    Cedric…………… Tavares
    …Chambers Sambi
    Salah Patino Balogun

  5. China1

    If our long term plan for CM is to buy someone to ‘compete’ with xhaka that it’s a bad strategy. Xhaka is not the level of a player near the top of the PL table. He needs replacing not some similarly average player to rotate with him

  6. China1

    We should not be basing our recruitment strategy based on one FA cup game against a lower league team ES. That wouldn’t make any sense

    Patino might look world class against forest but look miles off the pace against upper PL teams. As much as we are all excited to see him, it’s a bad idea to read a lot into one match especially against weak opposition. Just as likely he could look poor and that wouldn’t mean he isn’t good enough any more than him looking amazing wouldn’t mean he’s good enough for us now.

  7. S Asoa

    2 new Academy lads starting, would need some courage. Rather the understanding how to play inclusive of the new resources, like how they will be covered up in their prom . If that perspicacity is not there, there will be no courage either. One begets the other,

  8. Nigel Tufnel

    Very unpopular opinion…
    Cedric is not as bad as Pedro or the amateur talent scouts here think.

    The guy was better than Bellerin and I wanted him to play more last year.
    I believe the rumours there is interest in him from Atletico, why would anyone make that up. It doesn’t drive clicks or views. On top of that he’s in the Portuguese national team, which is a good squad. He’s a capable backup, seasoned and premier league proven.

    Having said all that, I’d still prefer to see Tavares played there behind Tomi, because I think he can be amazing with gametime.

  9. Bob N16

    Rich, I understand your argument about resting first teamers but although the back 5 in your line up looks fine, the attack looks far too inexperienced. I appreciate the bench can be strong and with 5 subs allowed, intervention with star players could have a major impact if needed but I would possibly start with ESR(or Odegaard) at AM, to provide more help to the players around him.

    ES, understand where you’re coming from but I think if an opportunity arises to acquire an appropriate CM talent, then I’m sure we’ll press the button. It’s not so much about covering AFCON absentees but having the TW open in January which means that there’s a short, mid season window where we could, if we choose, get a player in.

  10. Bob N16

    Nigel T, I take your point about Soares. He played at LB on several occasions last season and had some memorably poor performances. If you just consider when he was playing RB, he looked half decent, certainly ok as a back up.

  11. Rich


    My concern is that Arteta said Smith Rowe has been carrying an injury, and been missing training

    If we throw him in and he aggravates that injury, we’re in trouble

    If we throw in Odegaard and he picks up an injury, then we’re not just in trouble in central midfield, but our attacking midfield options have also been decimated

    Maybe I’m just being over cautious with the NLD next week, already in the back of my mind…

    But that’s a really big one next week, and as much as I want to go for the cups, a NLD will always take precedent

  12. Samir

    Why aren’t we going hard for Denis Zakaria? Contract up in the summer…
    We could probably get him now for >10M. Or pre contract and £0 in the summer.

  13. Samir


    Have you ever seen him play? He has some pretty good match ratings and stats, as per below:

    “No midfielder has won possession more times in the Bundesliga so far this season than Denis Zakaria (124).
    And only four CMs have completed more dribbles. ”

    25 years old. I’d take him.

  14. Bob N16

    Rich, as I said, I understand your reasoning but there is a chance of injury at any time, coming on after 60 mins, in training(Nice one Son!). If we control the game then we can dictate the pace and play in a way that is less likely to lead to injury. Bringing someone on, chasing the game, could potentially be hazardous.

  15. WengerEagle

    Watching Nice again here, once again thoroughly impressed by Gouri. 10 men down for most of game and have somehoe won 3-0 away, Gouri goal and an assist.

    Really want us to sign this lad.

  16. Batistuta


    I’d rather go with Xhaka than Zakaria. Watched enough of him to know he’s just your basic recycle midfielder, a more athletic El Neny if you will

  17. WengerEagle

    Agreed Youdaman.

    First time in a long time that I am confident that we’ll go and beat them on their own turf.

    Our record their has been atrocious in recent years, last time we won away to them was in 2014 with Rosicky’s wonder strike in a game that they dominated from start to finish.

  18. TeeCee

    Arteta gets pulled off by Xhaka every half time……it’s the only explanation as to how Xhaka plays so often.
    I’m sure Arteta has said Xhaka is very handy in the dressing room…….

  19. WengerEagle

    Ian Wright’s grandson and Shaun Wright-Phillips’ son is making his professional debut today in the FA Cup for anyone on here that wants a reminder that they are old, lol.

  20. China1

    Weagle that’s some fucking Dynasty man, wow

    I mean I wasn’t a huge weight Phillips fan but he was a good PL player who won many trophies. Obviously Ian was amazing.

    If the young Wright ends up having a PL career that’s incredible

  21. WengerEagle

    x3 generations of pro footballers is nuts China even if he doesn’t amount to much.

    Can only off the top of my head think of the Maldini family to span that many generations of footballers with the grandson now on the fringes of the AC Milan side.

  22. Mb

    It is such fc*king awful to have 10 streaming services with each of them handling one tournament. So if I have to watch Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League – I will have to pay thrice with all of them sharing the same content except these live streams.

    Someone needs to sort this mess out before you would have to switch between streaming services for individual matches.

  23. Habesha Gooner

    Zakaria is a big No from me. He would be a good squad player to have. But he is not starter material for a top team. He is like Moussa Sissoko in some ways. Just because a player is free doesn’t mean we should sign them. I know it is a big claim but I think Sambi is a much better player than him.

  24. TR7

    Mikhail Antonio is not the most cultured player but has amazing power, pace and strength to cause opposition players a lot of trouble.

  25. Unoni

    It would be silly to spend money on a midfielder now as a stop gap when we have Charlie patino and Jack Wilshere available. We have 2 league games only while the afcon plays out and there is also chambers and ESR who can play there too
    Unless we are acquiring a target which improves upon the first 11 I say leave it until we can get who we want

  26. WengerEagle


    Impressive stuff that.

    Always find it amazing when kids of former players also make it but then again I do suppose they have a massive leg-up on the rest of the kids given they are stuck in elite academies by the time they can kick a ball.

  27. TR7


    Yes, he just signed a new contract too.

    Laca struggles to get away from his markers. Antonio on the other hand can press as well as Laca and can absolutely leave his markers for dead. Wouldn’t have been a problem still signing him on a 2 year contract but that boat has sailed now. Mikhail and Martinelli playing together upfront would have terrorized most defense.

  28. WengerEagle


    Agreed, he is exactly the kind of stop-gap veteran that would have complemented Martinelli.

    I think that Duvan Zapata has similar attributes and would be a great short-term pick up as a replacement for Auba and Laca.

  29. Taylor Swift

    I really don’t think starting Patino against some Orcs is wise. A bad performance, and being kicked around could rent his confidence. Far better coming off the bench.

    And hooray, some posters acknowledging that Cedric is not as bad as some have you believe. He turns out a solid 7 and offers a lot going forward.

    Watching the game then off to Rams stadium. Go Niners.

  30. TR7

    Looks like White, Gabriel, Holding.and Saliba are going to be the 4 centre backs.

    Mari, Chambers and Mavrapanos all likely to be sold.

  31. Nigel Tufnel

    I expect mostly regular starters to get in the game to stay fresh for next Saturday.
    Either starting or subbed in.
    The in-between game against liverfool is the question mark about how it’s handled. I’d really like to heavily prioritize the spuds.
    Son (their best player by a mile) being out is huge, and I hope its a few weeks, I think they have some tough games after us.
    They nicked that last win on a final minute cross whipped in by Son, of course. Barely winning the 3 before that against 10 men. I still can’t remember any team ever being lucky enough to get 3 opponents down to 10 men like that.

    And Levys crooked media proclaiming Conte is resurrecting them with his magic.

    I despise the media more that spurs.

  32. Zacharse

    i know it doesnt need repeating but the state of ‘sports journalism’ is too funny, amazing how teenagers spit out garbage that actually gets aggregated thanks to online ads preusmbaly.
    3rd time today i ‘read’ an article that bore absolutely no resemblance to its lede
    come on josh, do your fucking business. would be pathetic to lose steam in january after big improvements because one of the richest families in the world refused to pony up for their own investment

  33. andy1886

    Cedric a solid 7? Must be a different Cedric to the one I watch. More of a 4 or 5 with the occasional half decent game nothing more. I certainly wouldn’t want him to get any significant time in the side.

  34. Almuniasaynomore

    Wenger Eagle,
    Don’t forget Alan Kelly who played in goal for Ireland and although before my time I believe he was excellent. His son of the same name was a brilliant keeper also who represented Ireland with distinction. Think Sheff utd was probably the club he’s best remembered at. His brother Gary was also a keeper for Newcastle but played at Oldham for most of his career. Represented Ireland at under age and B level. Was wondering if they had sons yet but we are actually very well stocked in that department thank god.

  35. Nigel Tufnel

    I’d be very happy with those 4 CBs. Anything beyond that is hoarding basically. After that, in emergencies, we can rely on repositioning others, or bring in youth.

    I hear Saliba plays both left and right cb with no problem…also rb quite well.
    Should be plenty of minutes to share.

  36. Nigel Tufnel

    I think you get all your opinions, like about Cedric, from reading uneducated comments on legrove. The guy was part of a quite good southampton side with Virgil, and was rated well.

    You think a 4, 5 rated player gets in the Portugal squad? OK. Nice football judgement you have. Also Atletico interest. Again, you know better than Simeone.

    You must be one of the ones who were angrily crying when Arsenal were rumoured trying to get a loan of Jorginho. A guy who had some of the best passing numbers in Europe.

    I’d have him just to handle penalties at least.

    You have to admit, there are a lot of bad takes here.

  37. Terraloon


    Marcus Alonso at Chelsea comes from quite afootball family

    Alonso’s grandfather, Marcos Alonso Imaz, played with Real Madrid’s first team for eight years. His father, Marcos Alonso Peña, played several seasons in Spain’s top flight, most notably for Atlético Madrid and Barcelona, and both represented Spain at senior level

  38. Luteo Guenreira

    Looks like Patino is starting. Smith Rowe not in the squad, read he’s got a slight knock. Hopefully he’ll be alright for Spurs.

  39. G

    ‘’ I really don’t think starting Patino against some Orcs is wise. A bad performance, and being kicked around could rent his confidence‘’

    They won’t get near him , the guy is quality and it’s the perfect time to start him

  40. andy1886

    Holding (c)
    Oulad M’Hand

  41. Left Testicle

    Arsenal: Leno, Cedric, White, Holding, Tavares, Lokonga, Patino, Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli, Nketiah

    Subs: Ramsdale, Tierney, Chambers, Mari, Kolasinac, Salah-Eddine, Hutchinson, Lacazette, Biereth

  42. andy1886

    “Andy, I think you get all your opinions, like about Cedric, from reading uneducated comments on legrove”

    Err, sorry Nigel, but you’re talking rubbish again.

    I get my opinions by watching him play. I’m a season ticket holder.

  43. Bradybunch

    Cedric is similar to kola to me. Looks okay when bombing forward ,and like said, when we’re bossing it. When we need to look over our shoulders tho against better teams, he’s either missing, or doesn’t get close enough to his man to snuff him out. Better than kola tho, and Chambers as a backup.

  44. Jim

    For anyone who is interested AMN is expected to start for Roma today, against Juve and looks like he’ll be right back. Not sure he’ll be used that way for the next six months because he’s covering a suspension today but funny how these things work out!

  45. Chris

    I’m always up for the cup. 3rd round weekend still gives me that buzz as it did as a kid back in the day. Looking forward to seeing some younger faces today off the bench at some point.

    We have a score to settle with Forest from the 3rd round a few years back. I always relished our games with them when they are in the PL and enjoyed beating them.

    Isn’t the 4th round draw just before the game? Bring it on.

  46. Luteo Guenreira

    Patino (with it would stop autocorrecting to Latino) starting along with most of the regular attackers and an in-form Eddie just made this match a must watch for me. Curious to see how he meshes with the first teasers.

  47. andy1886

    Eddie has another chance to put himself in the window for a move this month although I suspect that both he and the club would rather part company in the summer.

    Surprised to see Saka, Ode and Martinelli all starting, a strong line up.

  48. Rich

    Balogun + Xhaka both out with COVID

    Tomiyasu + Smith Rowe both carrying knocks

    Arteta says 9 players today unavailable

  49. Nigel Tufnel

    Does your season ticket provide a seat and also an understanding of what’s happening on the pitch? Maybe you need to spend more.

    Maybe your view isn’t as good as the Portugal manager’s?

  50. Nigel Tufnel

    L T
    I kind of see how Eddie would stay, but he’d need to be assured that both Laca and Auba or not going to be around to begin next season. I would want to know that I’d be the second choice after whoever comes in to start.

    That, along with a small raise could do it.

  51. Bob N16

    Nigel T, Soares on his performances for Arsenal is a half decent RB and a very limited LB. I don’t suppose you’ll be in the slightest bit bothered when he leaves, I know I won’t be.

  52. Pedro

    Left Testicle, thankfully, there are good people out there trying to actually do something about it. Virtue signalling is not backing a charity, activating an idea and literally doing things in the community.

  53. Zacharse

    might be the kinda thing that would mean more if you’d been impacted by the issue. sometimes people need an excuse like sports to rally together and take life seriously

  54. Pedro

    Left, getting national and global coverage for a cause does matter. Just real basics there mate. That’s how charity works.

    Let’s be honest, it’s the cause you don’t like.

  55. Bob N16

    Pedro, was wondering whether I should respond to Left T but you saved me the bother. The community department at Arsenal does lots of great work which I’m very happy to see.

  56. Buzzy

    Things like these backfire because teenagers who never knew knives could be used to commit crimes are implanted with an idea and begin to think its normal

  57. Zacharse

    have some empathy and withhold your hot takes occasionally, its not like we all don’t understand what you;re saying

  58. Bertie Mee

    Well said Pedro. I’m very much behind the initiative and delighted that Arsenal are making a point on a very important issue . Change has to start somewhere

  59. Bob N16

    Buzzy, are you being serious? How naive can you be?

    Any youth in London knows that knives are carried by a significant minority. The idea that Arsenal’s highlighting of the issue would somehow encourage the take up of knives is ridiculous.

  60. Habesha Gooner

    Bruno G. Undoubtedly.

    Patino was always going to start. I sympathize with arteta on the fact that he has to use all the starters in attacking midfield. ESR would have played. So would have pepe. And Balogun is close to Middlesbrough loan. So I get why he started all Saka, Martinelli and Odegaard. There was no one left. Omari Hutchinson and Mika Biereth arent options yet. They are kids and they would have had a culture shock to start both together with Patino. We need to qualify.

  61. Leedsgunner

    Ridiculous that we’re risking Saka, Odegaard and Martinelli for this game.

    I really really really hope they don’t get injured.

    Poor poor man management.

  62. Buzzy

    Bob I wasn’t joking. Read up on Stasi police and their methods. They would nip a crime commottion in the bud because they knew that awareness of the issue could actually lead to a revolt.

  63. Chika


    “Ridiculous that we’re risking Saka, Odegaard and Martinelli for this game.”

    Tell us the three players you would have started instead.