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August 2021

And so, we let the rest swelter in the last chance saloon, while we admire the depth of our squad

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By Billy The Dog McGraw.

Phil’s off to a job interview, so I’ve got the job of doing the game preview.  And what a funny old game it is with everyone else wondering if they will make it, while getting lots of agitation about, well, everything, and we are just strolling along.

Liverpool’s failure against Fulham took away some of the strain from the draw with them in the last home game, and leaves us securely in fifth, on the same points as we had at this point in 2001/2.  2001/2, now let me think…. ah yes, we won the league by seven points.  Behind us were Liverpool, Man U, Newcastle, Leeds and Chelsea.

Liverpool are leading the agitation field, claiming that the crowd is against them, the ref is against them, and so is everyone else.  Except actually the referees, although that must be a matter for another article.

At Man City there seems to be a players’ revolt going on, at least in places in the club, with our old pal Kolo getting very agitated according to reports in the press today.

As for Chelsea, apparently half the squad are past it, half of them won’t ever hack it and have to be sold, and there’s doubt about getting through to the knock out stages of the Champs League.   Just fancy, they have spent £99,000,000,000,000,000 more than we have (I may have exaggerated a bit there) and all for just two more points than us, and less certainty in Europe.

Even lower down the league people are unhappy, and Aston Villa have so many discontented fans that their team gets booed off the pitch at half time and full time now.  So the focus there is on how the naughty away support won’t sit down.

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And here’s a good one: Peter Ridsdale is now chairman of Preston North End!  I will leave you to savour that.

And all the time everyone is looking over their shoulders at what the judge will say in the football creditors rule legal case.  He’s already told the EPL some home truths.  We await the result with interest.

But back to matters of the pitch.  The kiddies and back up staff are in foreign parts for a match against Oλυμπιακός Σύνδεσμος Φιλάθλων Πειραιώς or Olympiacos Club of Fans of Piraeus as the Elvis impersonator down my local tells me.

We are playing at Γήπεδο Γεώργιος Καραϊσκάκης), The Karaiskakis Stadium, named after the man of the same name who was a hero of the war of independence.  Built in 1895.

How about this for a team:


Djourou, Squillaci, Miquel, Santos


Benayoun, Rosicky

Oxlade-Chamberlain, Chamakh, Arshavin

With on the beach (sorry bench) Yennaris, Park, Eastmond, Ozyakup, Mannone, Vermaelen.

Santos it seems has to play all the games because we are short of full backs, Squillaci is being rehabilitated, but I am not sure about Park.  Maybe a swap over on 60 minutes with Chamakh?

The match is being shown in Britain on the Shopping Channel.  We will win 6-0.




39 comments to And so, we let the rest swelter in the last chance saloon, while we admire the depth of our squad

  • Tee Song

    Santos is our only senior fullback and Miquel has played there effectively as recently as the Carling Cup match vs ManShitty. So across the back I’d think Djourou, TV5, Squillaci and Miquel with Frimpong and Coquelin holding. Yennaris at right back with Djourou replacing Verminator in central defense also is a distinct possibility but with a raucous, hostile atmosphere and Thomas not having a lot of games under his belt this season, I would favor the former.

    The real puzzle is trying to fit six players needing games into the four front spots. Rosicky, Arshavin, Benayoun, Ox, Park and Chamakh could all use a game. With both our reserve strikers desperately needing some match sharpness and Rosicky just coming back from injury, I would think Benny and the Ox on the wings with Park and Chamakh up front. Whoever gets the start, I hope they’ll be grabbing the chance given with both hands.

  • T2T

    My preferred starting XI

    Yennaris, Squillaci, Djourou, Miquel
    Frimpong, Coquelin
    AOX, Park, Benayoun

    I really liked the Arshavin/Park set up against Bolton in CC. They are both mature, intelligent players who seemed to have a good understanding. Furthermore, I prefer Mannone to Fabianski.
    Unless absolutely necessary, leave our 2 normal first choice starters (Santos/Vermaelen) out as we need them fresh for the hectic December-January schedule. With Sagna, Gibbs and Jenkinson all out, our flexibility for full backs is limited. In MF, we are of course still missing Jack and Diaby is obviously not yet fully recovered. The same goes for Rosicky. Let Rosicky and Chamakh get the last 30 min or so.
    I’d really like to win today but not if that would jeopardize the next 6 PL games within 4 weeks.

  • RedGooner

    Lost of work to be done at half time.
    Some poor performances combined with even worse refereeing. We could be watching rugby with the ammount of handling of our players thats been let go by the referee.
    Should be a fun Ref report.

  • Gord

    Ouch, that wasn’t such a good game from the BBC play by play. Hopefully it is a learning experience.

    But, it would seem that Yossi Benayoun is the person to score Arsenal’s 250th goal in European Cup/Champions League play.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I think Szczesny will be our number one for a while.. what a mistake to make….

  • Gooner Gal

    I think that in a dead rubber of game like today, Arsene Wenger should be made to explain why he risked playing Santos. Today is not the day to start going on about Vermaelen being able to play there.

    Furthermore I expected a lot more from some of those players today. I couldn’t careless if they were playing for a wooden spoon. You don’t put on an Arsenal shirt and put in a shift like that.

    I am left feeling suprisingly angry at a meaningless game. What shambles.

  • Mandy dodd

    Some strangely subdued performances from some with a bit to prove, reminds me a bit of performances from one or two at the end of last year. Maybe some just do not get enough games and maybe a difficult sort of game for some such players. Maybe something else. Obviously a lack of familiarity did not help. Ox looked good in spells though. A very bad keeper error and injuries. Some poor defensive work and sloppy giving the ball away. The first team are eliminating these problems, the understudies need to as well.
    Not a good night.
    But injuries apart, who cares, we are through and will not play barca or Madrid, at least not next round

  • bjtgooner

    Tonight was a tough night for the fans and not easy for the players who were kicked all round the park by a team playing in red and white stripes who reminded me of a certain rugby team at their worst.

    While there were some good individual touches we were dysfunctional at times in defence, in midfield we did not control the game the way we can and should and the attack lacked that little bit of bite which turns a chance into a goal. Not a good performance and annoying to let a thug team beat us.

    I am pleased that Olympiacos are not through to the next round, thugs like these do not deserve to progress.

    Lets hope our injuries are not too serious.

    The ref seemed very poor at times – I wonder was there any heavy betting on Olympiacos qualifying for the next round?

  • Mahesh

    I just hope that Fabianski and Santos are all right! More than anything, it was a good lesson for second team, and hopefully they will learn from it. I did expect a bit more composure and more effort from everyone in playing the Arsenal way. But, guess it was just not possible with tackles flying in and players getting injured.

  • Shard

    Not only did Olympiacos resort to unnecessary kicking. Anytime we managed to get the ball, they’d just intentionally foul us. The fact that they could keep doing this meant we could never settle. Of course, we should have played better. Much better. But I’m not really downbeat about this match. I thought we did ok in the second half. But I must admit I was surprised to see Santos start. Hopefully his injury isn’t serious.

    I was actually wanting Olympiacos to go through, but the way they played I was chuffed that they went out, and that too in the cruel manner that they did.

    For us, this should lead to some re-evaluation of some players, both senior and junior, but there were some positives as well. The Ox, and Miquel once he came on looked good. Benayoun showed he can contribute and deserves more chances to play.

  • Rich_Fryer

    Whilst the pitch looked poor, and some of the tackles were heavy, the reserve team looked awesome against Man City, so clearly they can play, at least when something is at stake. Let’s hope this was a learning experience, for both the manager and the players, and didn’t come at too high a cost.

  • Chennai Gooner

    Was it just me or does anybody else have the same thought ? Everybody seems to be slatting Fab , but I thought he did Ok. Most of the issues were due to the defence conceding some poor back passes. Also it was strange to see Chamakh & Arshavin start with Arshavin in the hole. Chamakh does not have the pace to take advantage of passes from Arshavin

  • WalterBroeckx

    For a moment I thought we were playing against Stoke with some of the tackles flying in. Maybe they had been looking at videos from Stoke-Arsenal games in the last years?

    I had the impression during the game that half of the team was thinking: why risking my legs being broken for a meaningless game?

  • Micko

    That ref was definitely Premier League Standard, he was atrocious.

  • goonergerry

    @ Gooner Gal- great to read such positive comments from you about our performance! Dead rubber yes but as others elsewhere have pointed out a win in the ECL is still worth 3m Euros per game to the club. Perhaps Arsene was feeling generous given the state of the Greek economy.

    Given the quality of the opposition we put a weak team out in a game which was meaningless for our players but not for the opposition.
    My view is we lacked authority in midfield and the defence was frequently over-run and our defenders are not good scramblers.

    I am impressed by Coquelin and think he could do a stint at right back- and would be a safer choice than Johan D. I also think Benayoun should feature in the first team along with AOC in the next few weeks.
    The loss of Santos may be a blow if it turns out to be a bad injury- and he is not fit for the City game.

  • Micko

    Talking of biased refs, we’ve got Howard Webb on Saturday (for the third time this season, already).

  • To me the youth did very well.The so called seniors are the one they where below par.
    Djouru :This guy has plenty of experience and all his touches -passing Positioning everything that a defender can do wrong it seems embded on him yesterday.Always lucks confidence.I had seen enough of this man.After all he is being given a lot of chance and i dont think he can be any good.
    Arshavin How many times he touch the ball in 90 minutes ? Please someone tell me if he was in the picth.
    Chamak Is at his lowest confidence .
    Squillaci was not terrible but his usual lapses cost as the goal.

    Why oh why This two goal keepers has to be slawthered .Sure Mannone and did a mistake and they where there to learn and i am confident both of them will be fine in the future.Both of them fearless they throw theyr body and head to defend.You where my men.
    Who got in front of them the below par defenders both Squillaci and Djouru.

    Look up front if we got toothless Arshavin and Chamak isn`t it a bit of ask from Chambo.

    Thumbs up for the youth and not for the seniors.

  • Johnny Deigh

    Mellberg probably told them to do that.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    London 2, Manchester 0. It’s a start.

  • Andy Kelly

    Har, har.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Some tomorrows headlines in the press:

    Manchester clubs reach knock-out stages in the Europe League. Manchester stays the football capital of the world. 😉

    SAF and Mancini managers of the year!

  • Shard


    The tv pundits in the studio went a step further (or more than a step) They were talking about the possibility of it being an all-Manchester Europa League final, and whether that would overshadow the Champions League final.

  • WalterBroeckx

    So who are our possible opponents… LOL…in the Champions League… LOL

    Oh my bad character is having a great day…

  • WalterBroeckx

    They will say it was a deliberate and brilliant move from their managers…

  • Anne


    Well, I know that I’ll be holding my breath waiting for the “all-Manchester Europa league final.” How exciting… Although I have to say that ManU really needs to step up their performance if they are going to get that far…

    I mean, look at Spurs… their “Europa league dream” will be ending early if Shakhtar beats PAOK… and that’s even if they win their upcoming, highly demanding match against the Shamrock Rovers 🙂

  • Anne


    Our possible CL opponents in the next round are:

    CSKA Moscow


  • WalterBroeckx

    And Uniteds???? told you I have a bad character…. 😉

  • Anne

    By the way, who wants to bet that we draw AC Milan?

  • Gooner Gal


    Yes I thought us loosing in such a manner would warm the cockles of your heart. I can just imagine you pumping a fist in the air at the 3 – 1 score line, screaming Jabba, Jabba, Jabba Whoa – yeah at the top of your voice! I am sure in your mind a debt bond to the tune of 1bn and a place on the board would of prevented yesterday right?

    I have a question for you about Coquelin since you are attempting to talk about football, what have you seen this season that makes you think that he would do well at right back this season?

  • Anne


    Hm… Now that ManU has been classed out of the CL, I would have to do some research to figure out who they’re most likely to face next in the Europa League… Although I’m sure that they’re quietly counting their lucky stars that it isn’t Otelul Galati 🙂

  • bjtgooner

    Poor Na$ri, but I suppose as long as he gets paid he won’t be too upset. However, he will get no sympathy from me!

  • Gooner Gal

    @ bjtgooner, I saw him laughing and joking with a Bayern player after Man C crashed out of the CL so he’s okay. He was probably happy that he still has the CC silverware to play for.

  • bjtgooner

    @Gooner Gal

    I think we are well shot of him, our squad now seems much more settled and happier than last season.

  • Gooner Gal

    @ bjtgooner, I agree – he is definately not bigger than the club and it will be interesting to watch him, to see if can perform for a whole season. Man made the money, money never made the man is a quote I have always liked.

    I believe that the Man C aura is fading and teams should not be afraid to have a go at them. Or park the bus even, as this season I have noted that moaning Mancini panic’s if they haven’t scored after 20mins. Yes Man C have a deep squad, but I have noticed how tired key players have started to look also, so hopefully they will drop quite a few points in this crucial period.

  • Johnny Deigh

    United’s group was one of the easiest and Ferguson didn’t take it seriously, fielding weakened teams against the likes of Benfica and Basel. United didn’t beat either of those two teams and they fully deserve to be out of the competition. I can’t see Fergie or the fans getting excited over whoever they play next, and I don’t see them going very far in the rest of that 2nd tier tournament.
    …On the contrary, Man City’s group was probably the toughest and they still got 10 points in it to finish a close third. I could see them winning the Europa League because for them winning trophies is still a novelty.

  • Anne

    @Johnny Deigh:

    I don’t know if City’s group was necessarily tougher than Arsenal’s. And I also don’t know whether the problem is so much that Alexi didn’t take ManU’s group seriously, as much as it is that ManU has grown complacent recently over having things too easy…Honestly, they’re just not all that good 🙂 But anyway, I guess we’ll see what happens.

  • Anne


    I agree. I think we look better without Nasri.

  • Anne

    @Gooner Gal:

    Agree with you as well. And I share your hope that City will drop points.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Formerly I would have suggested that Barca would have wanted Nasri as cover for Iniesta as they don’t have a straight replacement. Now though I suspect they want David Silva for that role. A happy, motivated Nasri is a much better player than he is at the moment.