by .

Champions League eve is here and I have taken it upon myself to channel my inner slightly-threatening-teenager-on-a-bus vibe by looping the Champions League theme tune on my iPhone and putting it on speaker. The office meeting room is my tunnel. I enter slightly late for effect. I time my walk-ins to the crescendo, I give a wave to department head John, I hand Sandra from HR a club scarf. Then we sit down for a ‘chat’ about my substandard performance and disruptive behaviour.

Good times.

There’s no official injury news, but fans are combing through the training videos Arsenal released or unembargoed today. It would seem that Thomas Partey is back in full training along with Jorginho and Fabio. But Tomi, Zinchenko, and Jesus are all still missing.

Listen, would I like to see our full-backs and our main #9 back in the mixer? Yes. I would. Have we missed any of those players? We have not.

Think about that. I mean it, think about that right this second.

You done?

At least 2 of Arteta’s 4 seasons have collapsed because we’ve lost a combination of fullbacks. Now we’re missing two of our best and no beat has been skipped. That’s progress baby.

No Jesus? No problem.

No Partey? The show goes on…

Arsenal has been extraordinary this season, we’ve gone from fans crying outside Arsenal station about the lack of attacking ability, to racking up more goals than ‘goal machine’ Manchester City. We have gone from Mistake FC to leading defensive numbers. How wild? We’ve done it missing first-team players all season.

Now the biggest challenge – can you do it three times a week? Manchester City dropped points against Chelsea after a trip against Copenhagen. Can Arsenal navigate an away day in Porto, then handle a Newcastle team with a week to prepare against us?

If we can, the reward is 9 days off before a game against the worst team in the Premier League (Sheff U).

So what can we expect?

I don’t think there needs to be too many changes, but I could easily see controller-in-chief Jorginho getting some time out to add a bit of composure in a game we can’t afford to lose.

Kai Havertz playing in that pocket would look pretty sexy – and I wouldn’t be upset to see Trossard given more minutes again.

The beautiful truth about this team right now is everyone is stepping up to the plate to offer their services at the very highest level. Who is playing poorly? No one. That bodes well for the run-in.

The great news about this week is there’s no let-up for Manchester City, who are playing catch-up after the World Club Cup. They have to play Brentford, a team that has been struggling to recapture BIG DOG SLAYERS form this season. Still, even easy games put minutes on the clock, and it’s always harder to play after dropping two points. Same goes for Liverpool who always seem to be playing Luton Town tomorrow.

This a week of great consequence for Arsenal. Can Arteta do it in Portugal? Can he bring a fresh team to the Newcastle game on Saturday? Can we get into the relentless habit of winning games?

I damn well hope so. This level of competitiveness is something I thought I’d never see at Arsenal again. But here we are.

Enjoy it!

Check out our latest Before The Whistle podcast on Patreon. We talk about Champions League nostalgia moments, squad rotation and give a little review of Porto. xxx

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Trophy 🏆


First Comment ever from me in the form of a sincere thank you to Pedro and the AOP posse for being a pillar in my life. I am gulbing it all up and cannot find ANYTHING close to Le Grove/ AOP sauciness anywhere else. You guys rock my obsessive Arsenal world and I anchor hope in the fact that you boys are a couple of years younger than me so I will hopefully die before the sauce dries up


Spuds finish here

I don’t really have anything to add but I haven’t used this new comments system yet so just giving it a try 😂


I wonder what happened with Tomi, he was injured before he went to Asian Cup, he then went away and played in Asian Cup, and now he returned but we don’t see him on game days or in training.


Kylian Mbappe aggress to join Madrid and is set to sign a five-year deal with Real, earning 15m euros (£12.8m) a season. He will also earn a 150m euro (£128m) signing-on bonus to be paid over five years, and he will keep a percentage of his image rights.

There’s a good reason why we can’t be in that conversation.

Mark S

Just seeing if I can actually comment. 🤞🏼

Mark S

Like you mentioned Pete, the main thing is that we can’t lose tomorrow…and I feel good about our chances of getting a result. Porto is a weird one. They’re not the Porto of old, but we know how we’ve faired against teams similar to them in past knockout rounds. Hopefully Mikel can shake a bit of his “Knockout Round Hoodoo”.


I can’t wait for the team to bang into an incredible momentum. It will be massive for morale and team spirit if Arsenal can win the next couple of games.

There is so much to look forward to.

On the injury front.
I want to trust Mikel and the medical team to be cautious about the return times of Jesus, Tomi and Zinny, there is really no point getting them some minutes only to lose them to a setback.


I really hope we see some of our boys regularly next season Patino, Nwaneri, and MLS.

I see 0 chance of Arteta selling Veira, I think he might see him as the option available for covering Odegaard.


With no sign of Tomi, Zinchenko, Jesus… Most of the team should pick itself.

Maybe a tweak in midfield, but considering our form… Arteta must be tempting with fielding the same starting 11.

Away days in the CL are rarely straight forward, Man City only won 1/6 away games in the CL last season, drawing the other 5.

Would be disappointed if we didn’t at least get to the Quarters now though.


It will be interesting to see how and if Arteta rotates the starting lineup for the next 2 games.

Little Mozart

Top ten?


Just need to continue our run and win every remaining game this season (by at least 3-0) – Premiership and Champions League trophies then firmly in our war room cabinet

And Mbappe crying that he joined the worng club

Last edited 1 month ago by Northbanker

Does it work?


I think arteta should stick with dsame starting 11

Guns of SF

We beat Porto and then we kill the bar codes

Guns of SF

What is up with the comments box, its also going backward time wise?


Hi everyone, how do you give a comment a + 1 on this new interface ?
Great job Pedro !

Habesha Gooner

Partey coming back is a real boost. He is going to be a big help in midfield. I am worried about our fullback and CB options if one goes down. need Tomi to come back real soon.

That is an okay price for Mbappe tbh. He is going for free too.

Guns of SF

need to add skip to the bottom again feature Pedro

Nigel Tufnel

That first paragraph is gold when I picture the scene in my mind. All that’s missing is you carrying your little LV man-purse.

Somehow this whole interface seems smoother and more easy to post and read. I love the voting too. Thanks for the upgrade.
Let’s go Brentford!


I real wish the team would gun down Porto away.


What kind of a tosser “marks” other peoples posts with + or – scores, as opposed to the old fashioned way of, you know, using words?

I know the answer 🙂


RM have Mbappe as a forward, Bellingham in midfield,
who is the best young CB in the world? They might be interested.

please match the format requested??????

Am I doing something wrong. Reading comments then have to scroll way back to the top to comment

I like the look of the new layout, just cannot operate it yet

And it says “please match the format requested” in the name box


Only one – point 🙂

Sid. He was always joining RM, which means they now definitely cannot afford the world’s best CB

Every cloud




I’ll take your word that is a positive

Keep up the good work by the way


The worlds best young manager should join RM, Not Liverpool


A win is a bonus but just remain in the tie and bring a good result back as a basis for a big performance at the Emirates in a few weeks


Not expecting much from Brentford tonight v City, but in this wonderful game we all savour, it is always the hope that kills. Always!


I don’t really care about the voting system as I won’t be using it.
It’s a nice feature for the people that only read but don’t comment to interact and show their support/disagreement.


Tough game tomorrow….wish tomi is back against the barcodes ..we need to rotate our fullbacks to avoid injuries


Fabrizio Romano 1h Takehiro Tomiyasu’s new deal, done and agreed since two weeks. It’s just matter of time to announce it. ________________________________________ As expected but I hope we don’t regret this extension. Tomi’s stay so far has not warranted an extension due to his endless injuries. I still blame him for our collapse at the end of last season. He played limited minutes just to get injured when we needed him the most. Typical of his stay here. Salah went to AFCON, got injured there, healed up and basically won Pool’s game vs Brentford in the weekend. Tomi was… Read more »

raptora 2h

Highest rated players in the Premier League this season:

◎ 7.68 – Bukayo Saka
◎ 7.57 – Rodri
◎ 7.48 – Mohamed Salah
◎ 7.48 – Erling Haaland
◎ 7.45 – James Maddison

Arsenal’s starboy leading the way!

It’s funny cause he can still be so much better than the level he’s showed so far.


I’m not expecting any changes from Burnley game. That team will be good enough to stop anyone

Bob N16

I reckon Jorginho has a strong chance of starting with Havertz up front. Obviously Arteta may decide to keep the same line up he may decide to be as solid as possible playing a double pivot of sorts. Looks likelier as Partey could be on bench as back up.


I have high expectations of Fabio.
Now that he’s back, I expect him to show up.
We’ll need him if we’re to have a successful end of the season.

Freddie Ljungberg


Much preferred the time stamps on the comments, made it much easier to catch up when you knew where you left off reading.

This ” 4 hours ago” nonsense doesn’t give much of a reference if you’ve refreshed and landed on the last page of 8 and you were last reading comments on page 2.

Don’t know if that’s on the agenda to fix but it would be nice if it was.

Looking good otherwise.

Last edited 1 month ago by Freddie Ljungberg

“I don’t really care about the voting system as I won’t be using it.”

Not too dissimilar a position held by many when it comes to the American politics then.
And judging by some reactions ( up\down votes) to more than few posts…… about same levels of intelligence deployed by participants in the former as in the latter.


Diss, so Mbappe will be making a million per week plus at RM, after having taken a pay cut, but I was told we were in the conversation because a journo asked Arteta a question.

And that’s even before the image rights thing, guaranteed trophies, nice weather, winter break, and refs keeping his ankles from being trampled on by overzealous defenders.



Partey hasn’t travelled, not ready yet.

Vieira + Nwaneri have both gone to Portugal though.

Bob N16

Rich ‘not ready yet’…. and so it goes on. That said,it was good to see him smiling in .com training!

Freddie Ljungberg

Would much rather see Nwaneri get minutes than Vieira, at least he looks like he could actually make it. Vieira just needs way too much time and space to be effective and he won’t get that very often in the PL, got a brilliant touch and vision but as seen with Zelalem for example that’s not enough. Is Walters injured? Not sure why we haven’t seen him come on instead of Cedric with 15-20 minutes left when we’ve been winning comfartably the last couple of games. We already know what Cedric offers. As long as we don’t let the occasion… Read more »


So Mbappe will be making 860k euro per week plus % if image rights and no transfer fee. Not the worst business for Madrid. Much better than 220M PSG payed for Neymar.


Footage of squad in airport has appeared on twitter, it looks like Ayden Heaven, James Sweet and Ethan Nwaneri with the first team in Porto.

Habesha Gooner

City getting frustrated so far by a dogged Brentford. They alsso did the same against us and we needed a Havertz winner. Brentford can be really annoying to play against when they play this insane deep block. They opened their legs for Liverpool last weekend though.

City will still win this but they are having a long night so far.


How lucky was that?

Habesha Gooner

Of course this robot scores again.


Here for the comments. Don’t downvote me bitches.


Stupid Brentford


It would be a mistake to waste money on Toney this Summer, he’s nothing special


The only part of Toney’s game worth talking about is his hold up play.
If that’s worth to you 60-75m then by all means.
He looks more like a track and field athlete than a footballer.


Toney wouldn’t be Plan A at Arsenal.
Doubt he’ll want to signup to be Eddie Mk II


I have a sneaky suspicion that although Jesus, Tomiyasu and Zinchenko are not at full strength they can put a shift when required – but Arteta is giving them extra rest to ensure they don’t break down too soon. We likely could see one or two of them get late minutes against the Barcodes.

If that is the case, then more power to our squad as we have more bodies available as the business end of the season approaches.

Nigel Tufnel

I didn’t see Brentford game but at least they put up a fight. Mancheaters are not invincible. They may have more draws in them.. We as fans can look forward to the Etihad match as a great opportunity to hit them hard. (Our players can only focus on the next opponent)

After 2 recent losses to us, City will be angry — and at the same time, less confident. The tide has turned in that measure. Maybe the whole balance of power.


Unpopular opinion here: Anybody remember Folarin Balogun? The guy without which “we had no chance” of competing for the league title this season? I still remember the vitriol displayed here when many of us felt he needed to be sold, despite his stellar season last year. We sold him for 34 million pounds. His current value is now 19 million pounds. How many goals has he scored 4 goals and provided 4 assists in 17 Ligue 1 games so far…ya, the season is just halfway through…but what is that thing they say about the grass being greener? I still remember… Read more »


Damn! That could easily have been a draw. Next time I guess.

Nigel Tufnel

Kpankulu, Remember I was telling them from day 1 of the summer window that his name was Balo-gone. That Arteta would never stand that idiot personality in this culture. They don’t like being reminded of past errors in judgement. They’re just beginning to digest all the stupid opinions about Havertz that are looking bad already, in just half a season. They only wanted to talk about goals and ignore that he was playing a strong CM right from the start… now he’s got 5 goals including a late game winner.. also, the great assist that won us the Man City… Read more »


Pretty interesting


We knew that we have to sell some of our talents in order to bring in players in positions we need quality. Balo has helped us tremendously securing us 35m + he’ll bring us even more thanks to the 15% sell-on clause we have integrated in the contract with Monaco. He was a great servant for Arsenal and with everything added up, is our record sale. He directly helped us with each of our 2023 summer signings. In regard to why is he having a worse season that last night just a few observations: he’s 22, obviously his form will… Read more »


I saw this YouTube video of David Raya kicking a football to nail in a portrait from about 50 yards
It took several attempts but he nailed it just fine


Tuffers Old Boy

I scored -22 for this “What kind of a tosser “marks” other peoples posts with + or – scores”

For a minute I thought I couldn’t keep up with you. Even Sid only managed a -10, so I am so far out in front 🙂

Hoping for an injury free outing in Portugal tonight and some heavy rotation once we have a cushion.

Would like Odegaard off as early as possible and be replaced by Vieira.


Kpankulu: “The guy without which “we had no chance” of competing for the league title this season?”

I don’t recall anybody saying that at all.

We sold him for 34 million pounds. His current value is now 19 million pounds.”

You make it sound like his price has fallen off a cliff. According to transfermarkt, he was valued at ~£25-26m when we sold him, he’s valued exactly the same today.

As I previously said, it was a good deal for all parties involved.


Balogun was sold for good money,a young player in a new team still finding his feet yet some of you are here looking for unnecessary argument

Keep it up


Orbinho – – Bukayo Saka has scored three goals and assisted four more in just five Champions League appearances. – Arsenal have been knocked out at the Last 16 stage in each of their last seven Champions League campaigns. The last time they did progress at this stage though was against Porto. – Arsenal have drawn Porto three times before, winning all three home matches without conceding a single goal, but never winning against the Portuguese side away (D1 L2). – Arsenal have scored more 1st half goals than any other side in the Champions League this season, with 12… Read more »


Comment box at the bottom– sexy!

A ‘Reply’ link/button at bottom of each posted comment– that takes you to the Comment box would be great.