TOP OF THE TABLE CLASHES ARE BACK

by .

It’s BIG game eve. Are you nervous?  Yeah, me too. But good nervous. These consequential games at the top of the table are the type I never thought we’d be around again.

Arsenal vs Liverpool. Home advantage to us. No one has any idea how the game is going to shake out because we’re both world-class sides.

There was a little bit of disappointment pre-game. Thomas Partey’s issue he picked up in training has extended out to him missing the game. It’s not serious, so he’ll be about for the run-in. You just have to remind yourself you can NEVER rely on Thomas Partey for anything. The man is Abou Diaby part II. It’s a sad way for a professional to go, especially one with no injuries during his time at Atleti. There is no doubt that we need to find a player who can do the things he can PLUS stay fit all season. I really hope we’re plucking from the Premier League this summer.

Still, that doesn’t stop us doing bad things to Liverpool. One of the most productive teams in the league has been largely controlled by Arsenal in the last two games despite the big W not coming out way. The luck has to change at some point, so if we go out tomorrow and play like we did in the cup, anything is possible.

We had Jorginho in the side and we battered them for an house. We also had Kai Havertz as a number 9 and he played really well. I’d be shocked if we don’t see Kai in the starting 11, his power, speed, and aggression could be really additive to the game. He should also be in great shape because he had a little rest last week.

This is a game that we’ll get big chances, Liverpool will offer us space at times, the only thing we have to deal with is their exceptional keeper.

Big games need heroes, they need magic, and they need a bit of luck. Our front three needs to deliver some xG monstering.  I can’t be watching Gabriel Jesus falling over chances, Bukayo and Martinelli to play at their peak, and the whole team needs to take more responsibility for being killers.

The consequences are massive for the league. Lose, it’s over. Win, it’s on. Draw, it’s back to doubt. I think the mathematicians in the fan base would disagree, but from a feelings perspective, and a general narrative, it’ll be really hard to bounce back from a loss.

I’m still maintaining that Manchester City are the big dogs in this race, I think Liverpool will run out of steam, and at some point, doing it for the boss will wear thin. We just need to keep pace.

I want Arsenal to be in that mixer because I want Arteta to show the world the rebuild people thought was OTT was necessary and that it’ll work. I want the underlying performance metrics to be recognized by real world results. I want to see Arsenal have the first breakout performance of 2024.

I am fine with a Manchester City-like slow start… but we have to finish with a bang. Win this game, we have a lovely run of matches up until the Manchester City away day at the end of the month.

Winning here makes everything better.

Let’s see what the boys have.

There are TWO podcasts waiting for our Patreon listeners. Johnny went solo for a Before the Whistle and I dropped an interview with one of the most interesting people one Arsenal: Tim Payton of The AST. Take a listen, it’s excellent content, and I learned a lot.

591 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
TallestTiz

1st

TallestTiz

Second

TallestTiz

Third

TallestTiz

Trophy 🏆

Leftside

Huge game tomorrow, we have to finish our chances because you know Liverpool will finish theirs

raptora

I know they’re being careful with FFP and they have Howe as their manager, but kudos to the beheaders for playing so many English players.

Pope, Trippier, Burn, Longstaff, Miley, Willock, Gordon, Murphy, Wilson are all main players.

A rare sight these days.

If you read the names it sounds almost like a lineup of Everton or Bournemouth.

raptora

I even missed Barnes.

Siddeeq

Longstuff puts one in

Rich

Via TNT:

“Spurs have now conceded 𝐄𝐈𝐆𝐇𝐓 𝐆𝐎𝐀𝐋𝐒 in the 90th-minute this season, the most of any side in the Premier League 😬”

TheLegendaryDB10

Raps Ha ha, yes. For some reason, I had down as a game being played today. All the better for me with with my sport filled weekend. I have been sucked into the 6 nations rugby games and I am not disappointed so far in seeing my predictions blown apart. I had it down that France were going to breeze through the tournament. The self influcted red card for some very poorly tackling by the same player ended downing France before they could even start their campaign. And now England are losing at half time to Italy!! What has the… Read more »

allezkev

Patino and Sagoe Jnr on the Swansea bench and Lino Sousa on the Plymouth bench.
Plymouth 0-1 up.

Hamz

Ange and that club in Edmonton / Chingford dropping points at relegation battling Everton. Magnificent! 8 from 15 points since Xmas. Another season trophyless! They honestly thought they would succeed without Harry Kane!!

TheLegendaryDB10

Rich

A stat to celebrate!!

Fuck Spuds.

Made me smile to see them draw to Everton.

And good on Everton to for keeping up the fight.

The bizarre media love in for this shite club beggars belief.

It’s always nice to see this rubbish club put back in their box.

Siddeeq

Longstuff keeps putting it in

Dissenter

Rich will love Oliseh
The dude is put together with fake super glue

Rich

Diss

Is he injured again?…

You’re watching the wrong game, this Newcastle vs Luton is excellent.

NJ Gooner

Sambi is playing well for Luton. I’m hoping he might have a future with us as a squad player. It would certainly help address one of our problems.

allezkev

Aston Villa looking in the mood to pile on the misery on Sheff Utd

jw1

Unai Emery getting over-animated about scoring a second time versus Sheffield– as if crucial. By the time I typed this Villa hit a third.

Marbellaron

Good write up Pedro and we all know what the consequences will be if we lose but we are not a world club side.,nowhere near it.

allezkev

Sheff Utd 0-4 Aston Villa with only 30 minutes gone. Auston Trusty looks bemused.

Bilbo

Douglas Luiz is actually quality.

FB

Marbellaron

There are no “consequences” if we lose

Matt B

Pedro: … his power, speed and aggression

Seriously? Are you Havertz agent?

Happy Spursy Saturday night everyone 😁

Andy1886

Poor finishing isn’t bad luck, especially if those responsible have been known for poor finishing for years. If we take our chances we stand a decent chance, if we don’t then I don’t want to hear about ‘luck’. Pedro’s description of Kai did make me chuckle though.

Trilbilly

Liverpool will run out of steam like Man City would get fatigued from the Cups last season like Pedro predicted.

kofi

andy1886 I see your point though it has to be said that deflection, cross bars etc can be seen as luck I guess. However, Pedros point I guess is more based on the fact that teams having more of the ball, getting off shots, having touches in the opp box etc. (which basically is xG) will be better off compared to those with lower xG. but xG in this is basically probability – the higher the number of N, the more likely you will achieve the calculated output. I am sceptical that 38 games are enough to get xG going,… Read more »

Andy1886

Kofi, yes I’d agree that deflections contain a huge amount of luck, but a clean strike that hits the bar is one that’s not recorded as a shot on target, it’s extremely close, but ultimately if you miss by an inch or ten feet it’s still a miss, not luck. For me (as many have already pointed out) we can create lots of shots, but usually they are shots that have a low probability of a goal. Lots of low opportunity shots may look like they add up to a good xG tally overall, but chances are that they aren’t… Read more »

Isaac

Can we stop this xG talk? It’s tard annoying!
Uggg! Seem to me like fantasy to make one happy! Duhhh!

Andy1886

Okay Isaac, bottom line is if we make loads of low quality chances and can’t finish for toffee we aren’t going to score many goals. However you phrase it the outcome is the same, and it isn’t luck.

Madhu

Andy that’s why xG is a wrong statistics to look as an indicator of goals as it’s cumulative of all chances. You cannot score fraction of goals leading to whole number. So all this talk ot xG is just an American concept introduced into a sport that they don’t understand. It’s not yet an American football based on points but on goals which can be only scored in Full. Better indicator is probably instances of high xG.

LoveSausage

Madhu, That’s exactly what the online tacticos are failing to grasp about aggregated xG. It just doesn’t work like that. xG is a measure of probability that’s based on similar shots. Similar meaning the position of the finish, the type of finish (shot, header, dead ball etc), the type of action/pass that led up to the finish, etc. In other words, if a shot has an xG of 0.2, it takes on average 5 similar shots to score a goal. Not that five different finishes that all have an xG of 0.2 should add up to a goal. This is… Read more »

jwl

Pedro/Madhu – I don’t doubt xG is useful metric but it frustrating the media only use basic data – 21 shots, 5 on target, xG 1.98.

I’m certain the clubs use more detailed xG data because otherwise xG just confirms the more times you shoot, the better chance you have to score, which is obvious.

I assume each player has his own xG numbers as well, metrics like that would be interesting but no way clubs would release that info.

Siddeeq

xG is misleading

John

Madhu, you can claim it’s nonsense all you like… but clubs like Liverpool hire managers off of xG data and every major club in the world uses it as part of the performance review

Pedro I know you live in the US and are fully on board with their concepts but the Americans are clueless about the game for the most part and are too obsessed with stats.XG is an example of this.It barely tells the whole story and you can’t come to conclusions about performances on the pitch with it.

Madhu

Pedro again sir it’s your assumptions that I don’t like positive stories about Arsenal. Just because I have some reservations and questions some.things doesn’t mean iam not an arsenal fan which I have been for more than 25 yrs. Look I contribute financially in some ways to Arsenal. It’s just that I am not born in north London and don’t have the previlage of going to Emirates. All IAM saying is that the way xG is being used should be more nuanced. Iam sure the clubs use it in a very nuanced ways. All statistics provide you an indicator some… Read more »

Marky Mark

Yep the Kai thing again – I mean good luck to the guy but a fantastic game as a number 9? Really? Kai like Raya gets huge acclaim in certain quarters for basic stuff. A PR job for effectively a 100m spend on average product.
Can’t make my mind up on today. I wouldn’t be surprised by a sounding defeat but will go 2-1 to us.
Think we are certs for 3rd this season

Pierre

Jesus possibly out injured today apparently

Pierre

If he is injured it opens the door for maybe Havertz to start up top and bring in smith rowe or trossard as the no.8, though of course we could always start Eddie who has an impressive 9 goal contributions in 13 starts ( not including the 2 penalties he has won) this season..

Tom

“you can claim it’s nonsense all you like… but clubs like Liverpool hire managers off of xG data and every major club in the world uses it as part of the performance review” If this is pertaining to the Klopp hire a good number of people, myself included, would’ve hired him post his Dortmund ‘failure’ happily unaware of the xG stat’s existence. Dortmund were the most entertaining side in Europe for two seasons running, and anyone who can achieve that on a pretty average level budget, while losing key players each season (Sahin, Kagawa, Gotze, Lewandowski), had to be special.… Read more »

PV4

I’m poohing myself already,lol. Feeling we’re going to get a spanking today

Alexanderhenry

Pedro Taking no prisoners today, but listen man, don’t be harsh. Regarding the use of XG, Arteta and the ‘process’; fans have a right to be a little sceptical. They might be wrong.. who knows, only time will tell. It’s some of the really idiotic, OTT criticism and gleeful negativity that’s worth slating. But, to quote you: ‘I want Arsenal to be in that mixer because I want Arteta to show the world the rebuild people thought was OTT was necessary and that it’ll work’ Well, yes but for arsenal fans they desire an arsenal win because they support the… Read more »

Tom

‘I want Arsenal to be in that mixer because I want Arteta to show the world the rebuild people thought was OTT was necessary and that it’ll work’

Or better yet, I want Arsenal to be in that mixer because I want the world to know I was right about Arteta and the rebuild people thought was unnecessary, and that it’ll work.

Pierre

I think klopp will know they got fortunate a couple of weeks ago in the fa cup and I think he will be concerned for today, especially as we have a couple of wins under our belt since then and scored 7 goals.
Klopp will be happy with a point today but that’s not to say they will play for a draw.
Should be a close game with a few goals with Arsenal winning by the odd goal..

Ernest Reed

Winners always find a way to win. Xg means something only to those who have to justify the existence of certain players who otherwise have no business being on the pitch.. The players themselves know their title chances are today, no reminding necessary.

Who do you want to be today?

I expect a win today from the boys but ask the obvious, do they want it bad enough? Winners always find a way to win.

Marky Mark

PV4 – the worst result I see is 1-3 where we go all out to equalise and get caught with an over the top 1 on 1 . Hopefully my other thoughts of 2-1 will prevail

Bilbo

From the Guardian: “The fact remains that Jesus is no great finisher. He has never scored more than 14 goals in a league season and has reached double figures in three of his seven seasons in Europe. Even after scoring at Nottingham Forest on Tuesday, he ranks 505th of 532 players in the Premier League for goals minus xG (penalties excluded), a rough measure of striking efficiency. That may not matter if his prime purpose is to create spaces for others and they provide the goals, but Bukayo Saka, the club’s top scorer in the league with seven, is 463rd… Read more »

Bob N16

Liverpool have lost one game all season, very unluckily against the Spuds. To beat them today would really give our season a massive boost. Sounds like Jesus might not be available which doesn’t help our chances.

A draw would not be a disaster. 2-2 would be my guess.

Rich

Broadly we’ve been poor against top half teams this season, whereas against bottom half teams, other than 2 games against Fulham with 1/6, we’ve cleaned up with ruthless efficiency.

Just 12/27 points against top half teams.

34/39 points against bottom half teams.

The points against direct rivals potentially count double… Today Liverpool can go 8 points clear of us, or we can go 2 points behind.

A draw isn’t a bad result, but this team needs a big scalp.

Thierry Martinelli

“yes but for arsenal fans they desire an arsenal win because they support the club, not because they want to prove a particular corporate strategy worked or not, and certainly not because their main concern is seeing the manager proved” __________ Well said Alex. Well said. All we want is 3pts on the board. That’s the only thing I can brag about. Not xG, not profits & definitely not how we’ll come good in a few years. Klopp seems to be very wise when he plays us. He knows we have the capacity to hurt his team and gas found… Read more »

Bob N16

I think Pedro’s quoting of xG is to reassure his readers that the team is doing some things well and we can hope for an upturn in results if we can continue to play in a way that creates plenty of chances. Of course he appears a little defensive over his support of Arteta but is this not understandable as he is often met with a lot of resistance to his positivity? I’m definitely in the ‘if Arteta was to leave I wouldn’t be that bothered’ camp but he’s doing a decent enough job without convincing me completely. It would… Read more »

Leftside

Looks like Jesus is with the squad

Rich

We’ve created good chances against Liverpool in our 2 games this season. A point at Anfield is a good result, we also took 4/6 points off them last season, and finished 17 points ahead of them. Anyone who can’t see progress, is being thoroughly disingenuous. Remember when we used to play City + Liverpool.. And they’d pin us in our own half and wouldn’t let us back out again?… Now we do that to many teams.. And however frustrating some Arsenal fans might find that, I can assure you that opposition fans find it infinitely more frustrating. We lack a… Read more »

Madhu

Good chance to watch Arsenal twice today. Watch Arsenal women on BBC2 and then again Arsenal men at 4:30. Good way to spend a Sunday afternoon

Chris

“The consequences are massive for the league. Lose, it’s over. Win, it’s on. Draw, it’s back to doubt”

Agree with this. I think it’s a must win today, as hard as it will be. It’s psychological as well as closing the gap. Got to be on the right side of that double edged sword.

Should be another belter whatever happens.

Omozuafo Frank

All that is needed today is three points.

Positivepete

Just keep an eye on ‘ rat face’ & we’re sorted.Another mouser who loves playing us.

PV4

I’m sorry but I can’t watch women’s football as in all honesty I don’t watch the game with a critical eye…..more of an ‘ yeah, id bang that given a chance’ eye. Sorry

jw1

Drive a stake through Jurgen Klopp boys.
See him off in the manner he deserves.

PV4

I mean it’s a challenging wanking to womens football, but it can be done 😁 I’m teasing 🤞

PV4

I’d also advise to do said wanking from the safety of your home. I’m now banned from virtually every womens football grounds in the UK

jwl

Just reading gooner twitter and Jesus was seen with squad for their pre match walk around the design centre on upper st.

andy1886

Pedro: ‘Andy1886, we outperformed xG last year by 11.49… so the players in question squandering chances are capable of a lot more.’ But your argument was that underperforming our xG means that we’re unlucky so if you want to be consistent then it means that by massively overperforming our xG last season means we were extremely lucky, correct? Ignoring all the spurious stat stuff I’d agree that some players are better finishers than they are currently showing (Martinelli, Saka to an extend, Trossard also a little below par), but some such as Jesus and Havertz are just consistent in being… Read more »

Benkind

Hojlund has as much EPL goals as Jesus this season. We have serious issues upfront with Jesus. Eddie though score a hatrick has 5 goals.

I hope we score well today.

raptora

Manure (0.16) 1 – 0 (1.24) Hammers

raptora

The commentators were joking West Ham created as many chances in this first half vs Manure as in their last 2 or 3 visits combined.

Samesong

“All that is needed today is three points.”

Someone gets it!!!

Rich

Via Orbinho:

“Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 15 Premier League matches.

They have lost just one of the last 33 Premier League games.”

Rich

Team news starting to leak… Jesus hasn’t made it… Havertz starts up top.

Do we go with Jorginho, Smith Rowe, or Trossard in midfield?…

Also reports out of Liverpool no Nunez or Szbozsolai.

Habesha Gooner

Chelsea are Hilarious. I swear they have been in midtable purgatory for more than a year now. Genuinely on course to finish 10th again.

Left Testicle

Raya, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Rice, Jorginho, Odegaard, Martinelli, Saka, Havertz

Subs: Ramsdale, Cedric, Walters, Kiwior, Elneny, Smith Rowe, Trossard, Nelson, Nketiah

jwl

Starting xi: Raya, white, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinny, ode, Rice, Jogrhino, Saka, Havertz, Marti

Samesong

Habesh they finished 12th last season. They are trash. Hope they get relegated.

raptora

Jesus not available again. Who could have guessed……

Samesong

We need to sell Jesus end of season. This is becoming a joke.

Marko

No Jesus is a blow. Breaks down yet again. Partey having another set back. Why the fuck didn’t we sell him last summer he’s contributed zip this season

raptora

Cunha is a better shout for CF than Jesus and he plays for Wolverhampton.

Habesha Gooner

#AFC Raya; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Odegaard, Rice, Jorginho; Saka, Havertz, Martinelli

#LFC Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Gomez; Gravenberch, Mac Allister, Jones; Jota, Gakpo, Diaz

jwl

Jesus does not even make the bench, what was point of having him go for pre match walk if he not even in squad.

Bkon

Arsenal needs to sign a striker in the summer.

Left Testicle

Jesus does not even make the bench, what was point of having him go for pre match walk if he not even in squad.

>>>>>>>>>>
It’s probably a ‘non negotiable’! 🤪

Pierre

So Arteta has gone for the ” power, pace and aggression ” of Havertz instead of the goals and assists of Eddie, let’s hope it works out

Habesha Gooner

Goals and assists of Eddie 😂😂😂

Pierre

Rich
“Team news starting to leak… Jesus hasn’t made it… Havertz starts up top.”

That’s old news , Mikel had already given me the heads up at 9am this morning.

Foxy

Jesus Knee injury again. Is it the same knee and issue as he had surgery on last season? If so we need to plan for a replacement for next season.

Habesha Gooner

4 -1 Wolves. Embarrassing from Chelsea. I love it.

Steve

It would be nice to have Partey and Jesus playing instead of them being out injured for much of the season.

Thierry Martinelli

Rap,
Atheletico has been churning out quality CF for quite some time now. Of course not many come and flourish in the EPL.

Marko

So arsenal needing a forward spend the whole month of January not bringing in anyone only to then have their striker go down right after the window closes…its like a call back to the Wenger days

Dissenter

Havertz will still be turning and setting up to take the shots by this time tomorrow.
That brother’s striking abilities are meh.

This is one of the drawbacks of Mikel’s Swiss Army knife approach, lots of jack-of-all-trades but no specialist.

raptora

Marko,
FFP was in the way of bringing in anyone that would have cost an important fee.

We’ve got Kai and Eddie. Jesus has been unavailable for a lot of the campaign and we we’ve done alright.

We should just cash in on him and put the money for a top qualideee CF. Or raise Marti there and get a winger.

Aaron

test

Aaron

Anyone with any eyesight at all could plainly see Jesus’s knee heavily taped last week that this was going to happen.

Better get Eddie warmed up as he will be playing a lot.

Let’s go!

raptora

I’m not really impressed with Gallagher or Enzo. The truth is Caicedo is made to play the midfield alone while the other two are free electrons but in the end do very little of substance.

Caicedo with a top class assist today.

Habesha Gooner

This coming summer, we need to address all issues that we have. No more squad fillers. We need a top CF, a CDM to replace Partey, a CM that can come in and make that left 8 his own and Possibly a winger. And A replacement if Ramsdale leaves.

In the chopping block are all of Tierney, Lokonga, Viera, one of Nelson or Trossard, Eddie Nketiah.

ESR is also on thin ice for me. Sell all of these olayers and bring in 4 or 5 quality players. We can’t let squad shortcomings stop us again and again.

raptora

Thierry,
I watched Hertha when Guen was loaned there and Cunha was easy to spot as a player way above the class of anyone else on that team. Been a fan since.

1 2 3 6