by .

This international break has gone from feeling like a breath of minty fresh air, to smelling like sitting next to a hangover on the London Underground.

We thought that Saka, Big Gabi, and Martinelli were all engaged in some dark arts preservation for this weekend. It turns out that might not be the case, and there seems to be a concern—it’s touch and go.

Now, what you have to remember here is this: Mikel uses uncertainty as a weapon. He doesn’t want Pep to know who is available and who is not. Pep will be doing the same. Is Kyle Walker fit? Did John Stones walk off the pitch inside 20 minutes because he got the call from his manager?

No one knows. This is what mind games look like at the very highest level. It’s actually terrifying and a little bit annoying. I don’t want to go into the game feeling like we’re once again below full strength; I need certainty in my life, even if this is an Art of War stategem. But that is my cross to bear… yours too. We are basically martyrs for the game.

My guess is Martinelli is genuinely touch-and-go. His foot injury looked like a stab wound apparently. The healing could be 10 days, but that’s in a perfect world we don’t live in. You can’t run if your foot is split open. Aggravating a wound like a second time is never good.

Saka has apparently been carrying an injury for a while (Twitter, not anything verified), so who knows there.

What I can tell you for free… if there’s a game to roll the dice on, I think Arteta will do it for this one. It’s do or die. If City scalps us, our best hope is Liverpool falter. If we win, the fumes of glory could carry us all the way.

The problem for Arteta is that if you do roll the dice, and someone breaks down inside 20, you’ve screwed the game plan, you’ve dented morale, and City will smell the chum in the water.

Still, at least the league sorted us out nicely with an impartial crew of referees. They served us up Jarred Gillet, who is a Liverpool fan, and has presided over some absolutely shocking Arsenal decisions, the latest was disallowing the Kai goal at Villa and denying us a stonewall penalty. He was also shocking in the Chelsea game.

But more to the point here – if you give a shit about impartiality, why would you put a Liverpool fan in the VAR room for the City vs Arsenal game? It’s absurd.

Not as absurd as giving the game to a referee from Manchester in Anthony Taylor. If you grew up in that area and don’t have an opinion on either side, you probably don’t like football at all. I’m not calling him a bad ref (we win a lot with him), I’m just saying that it is crazy to me that PGMOL doesn’t consider the optics in games this huge.

Is it too much to ask to have a non-Liverpool supporting ref in the VAR room – and a ref on the pitch with no affiliation with the city of one of the teams?

It shouldn’t be.

This is the first post of the daily run in for the BIG game. I’ll be back tomorrow with more words. I also have a bunch of good pods for you.

We’re going podcast crazy this week – Johnny is back with Matt and they’re having a lovely old reunion. Check that podcast out when it drops at 6am UK time.

big love xxx

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Not happy about Dekkers playing the full 90… Or Kiwior playing 120

Josip Skoblar

I watched the France game. Saliba played really well. I don’t understand why Deschamps doesn’t rate him. Upa is atrocious.


That’s the last interlull of the season. Southgate can keep his hands off now until we’ve won the Prem and Champions League


The problem is more complex than just Southgate


Martinelli most likely not to play the rest imo will all play, he is a big loss, but there are options available,
Can’t keep moaning about the cunts in charge or VAR, let’s get on with it

Bob N16

What is ‘the problem’ Sid?


Are the crowds at international matches the same people that support whatever team, week in week out, or are they a somewhat different demographic, I ask this as someone who used attend internationals
International football lost its relevance to me long ago


Endrick had an exceptional international break. The 60 million paid for him looks like a steal already. He is still young but playing under Mbappe will make him better. Real Madrid will be a force going forward. They will finish their stadium soon and can now move to buying established star players.


“What is ‘the problem’ Sid?“

Not enough longstaff all around probably


So a Liverpool bent ref in VAR room will conspire against us with a city bent ref pitch side to give a leg up to Pool’s biggest title rival according to bookies and pundits alike?!

Not sure I follow this logic, Pedro.


That’s the difference between the Brazil manager and Deschamps. One plays a super talented insanely young forward player while the other one benches a top 3 CB in the world with the talent to become #1. It’s bonkers.



The point being made by Pedro is that the ref and VAR officials should be impartial. Appointing two officials who come from Liverpool or Manchester is not remotely impartial.


Should read “gillet the best man city can get “


A nice analysis of the depths of misinformation Pedro

. Dec’s pre – match interview in the Guardian showed him as being incredibly naive or very clever.
It goes something like “On the England training ground yesterday I said to Stones..”well the big one is coming up at the weekend, ” he replied. ” what one is that? ” “Stones didnt even know until I told him!!”

Oh yeah, pull the other one ..


I quite like Anthony Taylor as he is a ref who is not afraid to give a decision against the home team , unlike many others who are are weak and feeble when put under pressure.


Yea, I got the gist of it , Stroller.
Just don’t think you can make a plausible case the league is trying to fuck us over by appointing two refs, one of which has a good Arsenal “record”, and the other with an agenda to boost Pool chances which in this particular case might mean a …..draw?

If so, I d take it, thanks Mr Gillet.

Btw, is there a ref who’s appointment wouldn’t have raised concerns?
I’d love to know his name.

First it was the scheduling bias, and now the refs……preempting much?


I will avoid the expounding on Southgate, to avoid vitriol.
Lets talk about Deschamps reading and writing ability.


@Tom, be nice, their kit has been denigrated we do not want to stoke the fire


And……he’s off again on the taunting run…..true to form.

Bob N16

Avoiding discussion as per Sid!

You do your drive by and then choose not to elaborate.



There is no scheduling bias.

The Chelsea game had to be rearranged because they are still playing in
the FA Cup.

Also Arsenal are still playing in the Champions League. So of course we
have two additional games to play.

All league and Cup games have to be completed within a fixed timetable.

All successful clubs land up with congestion at the end of season, which
adds pressure.


My view is that in anticipation of the expected fixture pile up at the end of the season Arteta intentionally played restrained and conservative yet controlling football for the first half of the season.
What’s the saying, “the season starts in earnest in March “?
Obviously there’s going to be the odd casualty along the way but I think we’ve done well compared to previous season’s injury lists.


Watching Mainoo’s progress at United and now England shows that age can sometimes be immaterial as it is all about having a football brain, a superb technique and showing maturity on the pitch, similar to Fabregas and Wilshere when they first broke into the Arsenal side Southgate’s squad for the 2024 euros should include the highly technical players in central midfield if we are to win the competition.. Rice, Bellingham, Foden , Mainoo and Maddison should be ahead of the likes of water carriers like Gallagher and Henderson, in fact trent Arnold should definitely be in the squad as either… Read more »


Pickford is no good. I’m not a big fan of Ramsdale but he’s clear of Pickford. Pope as well if he was not injured.


As I have stated above the only game which is being rearranged is our game against Chelsea.

The Bayern Munich games have been added to our schedule, because
we have progressed to last 8 in Champions League.

If we beat Bayern there will be two additional mid week games.

That is not due to bias but our success in that competition.

The EPL Fixture list is determined by computer. The choice of day and time when we play on weekends is set by Relevent Broadcaster.


Mainoo is quality, which is really frustrating, but he combines technical quality + physicality. Caicedo + Mainoo are my type of midfielders. Teams have to earn the right to play, if they don’t pick up 2nd balls and win duels, then all the technical quality in the world isn’t going to be of much use. If teams don’t apply consistent pressure to win the ball back quickly… Then the game will very quickly become stretched. I want Arsenal to be horrible to play against, we have to be physical + aggressive in our positioning, the areas we control the game… Read more »

Positive Pete

I’ll go out on a limb here 😂 & guess EVERY Man Cheaty player declared injured during this current international break will be in their first eleven & on the pitch for kick off.Who’ d have guessed? Amazing.

Bob N16

Great post Pierre!

England have some outstanding technical players, those who aren’t at that level are quite obvious.

I thought Mainoo was brilliant. Gives hope to the idea that Nwaneri isn’t necessarily that far away too!

I think Bellingham trusts Saka and Kane who should join Foden, Mainoo and Rice as the front 6.

Last edited 16 days ago by Bob N16

For national teams(tournaments), highly technical players are the better option.

Water carriers/hardworking players might work for league competitions.


Any team that fails to make it to quarter finals of a tournament (FA, copa del ray, WC etc) isnt as technical as the fans would like to think.


Saka is great (have to add that avoid the vitriol) but he is No Rosiky, Nasri, Arshavin etc.

Nigel Tufnel

Stop with the cut foot nonsense.
It’s a broken toe. How anybody doesn’t see this .. toe can be good or bad situation.

Do you know how silly people sound talking about a cut through a football boot? They seem like they will believe any lie you feed them.


Mainoo is lucky he plays for United, Arteta wouldn’t have given him a chance.

Seeing Arteta leave Reuel on the bench while he keeps bringing on Cedric who’s leaving is beyond me. He never gave Omari Hutchinson a chance as well. Shouldn’t be surprised if he extends El Neny’s contract for a further year and Joginho 2 more years till he’s 35.


It may not be a fracture toe.
It could just be a laceration with underlying bone bruise from the stud of a stamped foot.
It was reported that Martinelli required stitched so he did sustain a cut

Last edited 16 days ago by Dissenter

Martinelli is not training with the squad by the way, from all the released training videos


If Deschamps has eyes, he will start Wilo in every important game from now on.


What a performance vs Chile. Rolls Royce.

Nigel Tufnel

Rich, I get a lot out of your comments here and I know you like Caicedo a lot. I haven’t watched Mainoo enough yet. Another player everyone was gushing over recently is Onana. Another ball winner .. physical type. I think he’s not Arsenal quality for midfield because we don’t normally go for one dimensional players without special passing skills… that’s Onana out in my book. Remember, even Arsene didn’t want players like Wanyama, Mvila, Capoue, .. Players that gooners were hoping for. He also let Coquelin go with no fuss. Even though I see nothing above average in Caicedo… Read more »

Nigel Tufnel

Dissenter your description definitely sounds more plausible… But i still think it’s Arteta gamesmanship… Making opponents prepare with Martinelli in mind. The reason Arteta wouldn’t just say it’s a broken toe, is because it gives all opponents something to aim for .. , to kick the hell out of, cause significant pain…. Also because he might be able to play at different stages of healing, where a healed wrapped cut is much less likely to be kicked open after weeks, stitches, whatever. Either way, im glad we have a smart manager who is wise to the ways of football. If… Read more »


Of course Nowheregate played Rice a full 90 2X in meaningless games, his operating system is an 8086..Stupifying futbol.

Nigel, have you ever played before? If players are playing with screw in cleats and not a molded bottom then of course a cut could be deep enough for stiches.

Just need the others to play and Martin and Saka can’t go I hope Jesus and Trossard’s engines are warmed up and ready to go!


International football lost its relevance to me long ago

It hasn’t all lost it relevance but I struggle to be interested in friendlies and even E and WC qualifiers; I still very much enjoy the major finals even tho England are normally atrocious in them (although that’s been better in the last few finals).

During the season it frustrates me that the flow of the league season gets disrupted so much and those games become more about injuries and fatigue than giving a shit about your national team playing Andorra or some other pointless game.

Last edited 16 days ago by TheBayingMob

Saka will def play, I don’t know what it is with Arteta but he seems to think Saka is Bruce Willis in Unbreakable. He will personally push the guy out in a wheelchair if he has to …

Guns of SF

I really hope we win. Draw worst case. I know they are short a few players but we need to take advantage. Lots of our guys logged mins this week. We shall see

Guns of SF

Diss I saw him in the training videos. Not looking like scrimmaging but present and kicking the ball.


The whole footballing world should get together and agree in principle not to buy anyone from Chelsea this summer.

Would be wonderful to watch them flounder in midtable again next season having spent a billion quid over eh last 2 years, then receive a points deduction this time next year to leave them hovering perilously over the relegation zone.


Martinelli wasn’t in the most recent training videos
I think you saw Vierra, who’s looking very sharp in training by the way.


Hopefully Nanweri will sign shortly his new contract.

Interestingly he has scored 4 goals in last 4 games played.
Arsenal U21 v Chelsea [1] Spurs [1]
England U17 v Hungary [1] France [1]

Frankly he has to be promoted to First Team Squad next season.


Just read reports that Declan Rice and a few England team mates hàd a boozey night out till 4am to celebrate his 50th cap. I’m a little disappointed though. Or am I reading too much into it?


Apart from Spain 2008 and 2010, I have never seen any exciting national teams orchestrated by the coach. Brazil of the past and Nigeria 1998 were individual skills/talents. I wonder what people expect from France and England. Under any coaches past or present and with even more talent players than they have now, I have never seen them play exciting football. Germany, Russia, Croatia, Italy all same. Posters are being very disrespectful to Southgate and (yesterday) Deschamps. Club football and international football can never be the same. Clubs play with the same identity and playing/training style while a national team… Read more »


“@Tom, be nice,’’
I’m always nice, Sid, if in a dickish kinda way.

Will you please respond to Bob, he seems lonely and dying for attention.

Unless of course you’re too too busy reeling from your boy Putin getting his strong leader persona severely dented, again,

Don’t worry, as soon as he decides who exactly in the west is to blame for Crocus the four suspects will collaborate his store one ear at the time, you know, the strong leader style,


Putin fits the west. I like how they can’t stop talking about him as the devil

Bob N16

Tom, ‘seems lonely, dying for attention’ projecting are we?


Bob, obviously.
Who doesn’t want to hear from Sid , the international man of mystery.


Smith Rowe has played just 357 minutes so far this season… 240 minutes in the entirety of last. If we can find a permanent suitor, then it’s best for both parties if we part ways.. Before we trash his value any further, and before his career risks slipping him by. Considering the minutes he’s played over the last 2 seasons, we should be able to replace him internally, either with Patino.. Or Nwaneri if he’s considered ready. Not many 17yr olds playing at senior level, let alone at the very top level, but there are some rare exceptions… Maybe Nwaneri… Read more »


“Putin fits the west. I like how they can’t stop talking about him as the devil“

Or a chess grandmaster who’s always two or three moves ahead, one of them being threatening to nuke the whole fucking board if you dared checkmating him, of course.


“ I much prefer the industry + drive of Martinelli, Garnacho, Alexis..”

@Rich – If you mean Alexis Sanchez, kindly check his stats.

He was consistently one of the players with the least distance covered during his time as Arsenal.

On the other hand, your favourite bugbear, Özil, was consistently one of the highest.

Because Alexis would dart around chasing lost causes around the opposition box and tug & pat the badge it created the impression of industry.

Great player, mind you. But industrious he was not.


Either way he keeps the west talking, Tom!

Guns of SF


Look at 1:10 in this video



Alexis was absolutely electric.. The “chasing lost causes” are caused pressing triggers.. If we apply pressure high up the pitch quickly + aggressively, our forwards will logically run less distance.. Because that way there’s less chance the opposition will play through us, and they won’t then have to continually run 60 yards back towards their own penalty box… Intensive sprints would be a better measurement than distance covered for forwards. Ozil was brilliant in the first half of 2015/16, but fell off a cliff in the 2nd half of the season. The fact he fell foul of Emery, Ljungberg, Arteta,… Read more »


My post was about your point on Alexis. Özil was a by the way mention. Unlike Pierre and you, I am not obsessed about Özil. To me it looks like he simply lost interest. As for pressing triggers, one person darting from defender to defender is completely useless bar for losing his own breath. You have to press as a unit in a choreographed, orchestrated manner. Alexis used to play the crowd with his chest thumping and running around, and then not tracking back. Total distance run is absolutely a key metric of how hard a player is working on… Read more »


To reiterate, I adored Alexis. And I agree with you – he was electric.

I am taking issue about your point that he was industrious. He was not.

It also tells you a player can be wonderful without being industrious.

Or at least they could be. In the current systems where pressing and tracking back ie industry is a key attribute – one may say the most important attribute – I am not sure someone like Alexis would fit in naturally. His other attributes might allow him to – but I can’t be sure.


If Sanchez had a brain he would have stayed at the Arsenal with Ozil feeding him, life was never the same for him when he left Arsenal(and Ozil).
At United there was no unselfish Ozil type player who understood sanchez game so he became a very frustrated and unhappy player..


Wenga – I’m afraid this is where stats can give very false readings. If you only want to measure by total distance covered then what is that really telling you?

The eye test is that intangible that raw data won’t compete with. The positions Alexis covered probably involved shorter distances covered but were highly dangerous to the opposition and as Rich states created pressure high up the field. Whether that fits in a narrow definition of industrious or not is neither here nor there.

Peak 2014 Alexis would still fit in this current team.


If you don’t think Alexis played with urgency + aggression between 2014-2017, then we must have been watching a different player, he was a street footballer. When you have a player banging 37, 28, 48, goal contributions across 3 seasons, maybe in a Wenger team you can get away with less structure. Alexis was an animal for 3 seasons, Wenger certainly granted him freedom, but the idea Alexis didn’t inject energy + aggression into our game.. Whatever you’re selling, I’m just not buying it. The problem with those style of players, is that when they dip, they usually fall straight… Read more »

Matt B

Wengaball: Alexis S was industrious about scoring goals, none of this tracking forward and backwards and closing down nonsense. He was a fucking demon of a player at AFC and if you couldn’t see that, then, well, you probs think, fuck knows


Matt B, you are in agreement with Wengaball. Not sure you should be directing your post to him.


Well regarding our selection for Sunday, I am hoping against hope to see Partey playing to nullify Rodry, I just can not see Jorginho has the legs to stop this monstrous, City’s most important player. If we can man mark and limit his influence we have a chance.


Alexis’ decline was down primarily to the fact that he left a free system that let him play how he naturally wanted and into teams which had more tactical structure Some players benefit greatly from that structure and tactical guidance. Most do. But some players are like birds that just need to be set free to do what their instincts tell them Wenger was not a tactician. His success came from a combination of getting players who were perfectly suited to playing freely, like Henry, pires, vieira etc etc – and supplementing those with players who already had excellent tactical… Read more »


Would’ve love to have 2017 Ramsey in this squad tho. With all the smart and quality players around able to compensate for his lack of tactical nous, he would cause no end of damage to the opposition. Even more than havertz is at the moment


According to the Daily Mirror, via a source, Edu has a list with the names of 10 strikers that Arsenal are interested in for this summer – not all of them I’d imagine just one will do, maybe two at a push.

Well that’s all settled then….


Havertz as a false 9 with Ramsey as left 8 and rice covering him behind would be a nasty setup


I actually think the CF we should’ve gone for in the summer was mitrovic He’s different from everything we’ve got. He’s massive, a proven PL goal scorer. A bully. Big and great in the air also not that expensive and good for a few years. He’d have also added to the gradually increasing height and power of the squad. Gabriel, saliba, kiwior, white, rice, havertz, Mitrovic all on the pitch at the same time would be one heck of a powerful spine ode, saka and Martinelli are also good battlers Unfortunately Raya is in hobbit territory but at least he’s… Read more »

Last edited 15 days ago by China1

Alexis was strengths were higher up around the box. Good dribbler and shooter(unlike Jesus)

Ozil would get the ball to him.

Alexis lost possesion alot, unsuitable for Guardiola.

Mourinhos tactics involve playing deeper and running from deep unsuitable for Alexis.

Nigel Tufnel


Going for easy points criticising Putin…
Really edgy, going out on a limb there.

Nobody gives a shit about your geopolitical opinions Tom. Stick to football.



Reading Tom on politics is like listening to your Son/Daughter when they first come back from University and they’ve discovered the meaning of life and now think you are an outdated old git! 

You want to be happy with their young and inquisitive minds but equally are quietly thinking “let’s see how you are in 10 years, because you’ll have either taken a dreary path through life in some institution or other, or hopefully have branched out forging your own exciting and adventurous path in the real world”

It has been another long interlul 🙂


Signing a player like Declan Rice is a no-brainer, I was just worried that we might lose him to a petroclub – the fact that since joining he’s been amazing and has developed into an all-round performer is a major bonus. Signing Timber was left field to me as I knew nothing about him but I saw enough in a small sample size to appreciate his quality. His loss is my biggest regret from this season to date. Kai Havertz was right out of the blue, I wasn’t doing handstands at the thought of him joining after a fairly understated… Read more »


Football is nearly back guys keep the faith

I suddenly have a bad feeling about this city game. Which as always is excellent news as my gut instincts are consistently wrong


Agree with all of that Allezkev

Timber was just very bad luck but at 22 he’s young enough to be a long term project so fingers crossed

I never understood the Havertz transfer, as even watching him just a few times for Chelsea I could never work out type of player he really was.

I now simply trust our recruiters and have patience.


Debrune back which is annoying but really hope stones, Walker and Akanji are out.. hoping we at least draw , a win apart from 3 points would give us unbelievable confidence for the run in



Understanding the gut is a skill

True story. Years ago I had a friend who was a top Wall Street trader. On the desk next to him was a “gut trader” who was terrible.

One day he had an epiphany and decided to listen hard to his gut, then do the exact opposite. He became instantly successful 🙂



I’m actually hoping both us and City are at full strength and we go and beat them fair and square.

Really don’t want all the excuses and what-ifs from either side after the event or any Ref/VAR officials nonsense

Let’s put them in their place Haaland, Debruyne and anyone else they decide to throw at us.

Fingers crossed on Saka and some sort of Martinelli miracle


Understand that view and players may take even more confidence beating a full strength city but would still rather they have their main players missing just to help us get the 3 points .. would be interesting to know what the players would rather


Ozill should have done this when he was with us.

Everyone i have spoken with expects Arsenal to beat City and agree with them.


If you ask a Time master who already saw 1000 possible futures they will say “This is it!” showing you 1 finger.

A one chance to keep our title aspirations alive.


Is that Pierre and Ozil at the gym in the picture above?


Betting tip: Brentford win

You can take this to the bank!


City haven’t lost in any competition at home since Brentford in November 2022. 39 or 40 games… Haven’t lost at home in the CL since 2018. We haven’t won there since Jan 2015, and haven’t even taken a point there since May 2016. Their home form is excellent, but we’re well overdue a result there. I’m not going there with a sense of hopelessness that I have over the last 7-8 seasons… Even last season when I seen Holding starting, I flat didn’t fancy it. We’re certainly capable of edging the margins in our favour, both games this season there’s… Read more »


Ozil been on steroids since he retired if that a real photo of him.


Just goes to show what eating all your greens can do…


I was googling law of averages, and this came up: “the supposed principle that future events are likely to turn out so that they balance any past deviation from a presumed average. “the law of averages suggests it is Arsenal’s turn to beat their neighbours”” The example fits perfectly what I was going to say to add to Rich’s post. Considering that we have lost quite a fair few times at the Etihad, you would think that it is our turn to win, as indicated by the law of averages. Now I am not saying that the players should loll… Read more »


I’m desperate for us to beat city but honestly I don’t think it’s really much more important than our other remaining games Last season we were top and went on a crazy run where we beat like Chelsea spurs and Man U (or something like that) pretty much back to back. Title was ours for the taking. We had liverpool down and out and let them back in. We had Southampton down and out and let them back in. And then another team. Then city beat us. I’m a bit more interested to see where we are in 3 games’… Read more »


lol Felix if you’re a betting man simply bet against my gut

I’m not joking when I say it’s wrong 80% of the time. That’s some level of consistency when you think about it…!


Confirmation of Nwaneri signing his first professional contract.

Think they can only sign 3 year deals at 17..

If we’re going to develop him, we’ll need to be the ones who see the benefits of that education.

Hopefully we can nail him down to a 4 + 1 this time next year.

David Barnes

Hello to All,

Thank you, Pedro for another fine post.

For those of you who might be interested, there is a lengthy article on Bukayo Saka in today’s edition of L’Équipe. However, like many daily newspapers, L’Équipe charges a fee for their most of their content. If any is interested, feel free to contact me via email and I will gladly send you a PDF of the article via email.

Up Le Grove and Up the Arsenal



Rich: “We’re certainly capable of edging the margins in our favour, both games this season there’s been nothing between the 2 teams.

A deflected Martinelli shot at the Emirates, and a Trossard deflection at Wembley taking it to penalties.”

Both times Nathan Ake was the deflector.
Probably sees them in his nightmares.
Got to be dreading the match on Sunday.


Reading Tom on politics is like listening to your Son/Daughter when they first come back from University and they’ve discovered the meaning of life and now think you are an outdated old git!