Liverpool False Positives v Arsenal: the Arsenal team

By Tony Attwood

One of the great problems with this transfer malarky – especially in the short January window – and doubly especially when there is an international tournament going on at the same time – and extra especially when there is a pandemic blowing and your opposition have just come up with a world recording beating set of false-positive results all instantly miraculously overturned, is that one can run out of players.

As the Daily Telegraph happily reminds anyone who wants to read, “With Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles now on loan at Roma, Lokonga will be the only senior central midfielder at Arteta’s disposal if Granit Xhaka is not deemed fit enough to play following a recent period of Covid-enforced isolation.   (Oh Granit, where is your false positive when it’s needed – I mean if Liverpool can come up with eight at the drop of a hat, couldn’t you and the Arsenal medical team have come up with just one?)

It is quite likely that a deal will be done to bring in another central midfielder – especially assuming that Mo Elneny is going to leave the club, which is what lots of people have been saying for several years.  But whoever it is, he ain’t here yet.

Sambi Lokonga’s record since leaving Anderlecht for Arsenal in July is 11 starts and five appearances as a substitute.  He’s 22 and still getting used to both English football, and much more importantly the whiles and excesses of the employees of  the PGMO.  Not the ideal scenario – especially if he also has to support Charlie Patino once again.  Come to think of it, not an ideal situation for Patino either.

That is not to say there is anything wrong.  As Mr Arteta said, “Since he (Sambi) has joined he has done much more than anybody expected.  He has played many more games at a really high level than anybody expected, and now he has a great opportunity to keep playing.”

Sambi was described by Jean Kindermans, the head of Anderlecht’s academy from whence he came, as versatile, with excellent technical skills and very good passing, short and long. He is not an explosive guy but he can solve problems with his instincts and his intelligence, and he has a very good mentality.

“Sambi is a very elegant player. His elegance is sometimes perceived as laziness but, believe me, he has good decision-making, he reads the game, he can make the final pass and he can score goals.

“He is not a guy who screams at others or is very excitable on the pitch, and sometimes people think that he is not concerned or concentrated. But he is a perfectionist. He wants to learn, he wants to play well.”

So what about the rest of the team:

The Standard very unhelpfully tell us the Liverpool team, but not Arsenal’s although they do proclaim that “Arsenal [are] sweating on fitness of Emile Smith Rowe, Granit Xhaka and Takehiro Tomiyasu ahead of Liverpool clash.  Although in another article headed Predicted Line Up they offer us Leno, Ramsdale, Okonkwo; Cedric, Chambers, Gabriel, Holding, Kolasinac, Mari, Tavares, Tierney, Tomiyasu, White; Lokonga, Odegaard, Saka, Smith Rowe, Xhaka; Balogun, Lacazette, Martinelli, Nketiah.    I think the ref might have something to say about that many players turning out at once.

The Hard Tackle have


Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney;

Lokonga, Patino;

Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli;


The Radio Times offers


Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney;

Lokonga, Patino;

Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli;


Sports Mole try it with exactly the same line up as Radio Times.  However Squwaka goes for something different trying out


Tomiyasu, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney;

Lokonga, White, Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli;


Pain in the Arsenal think that Xhaka will make it through the false positives and turn out for Arsenal…


Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney;

Sambi, Xhaka, Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli;


And just one more: Sports Keeda suggest

 Bernd Leno;

Cedric Soares, Ben White, Gabriel Magalhaes, Kieran Tierney;

Albert Sambi Lokonga, Charlie Patino;

Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli;

Alexandre Lacazette


And that’s it – good luck to everyone in the World Capital of the False Positive.



26 Replies to “Liverpool False Positives v Arsenal: the Arsenal team”

  1. Xhaka IMO was looking at where he thought the ball was going and he did take the man out , the ref was very quick with the red card no seconds thoughts . We are given no leeway on these type of decisions poor Tommy has his face smashed nothing .

  2. Steve Vallins

    “We are given no leeway on these type of decisions poor Tommy has his face smashed nothing”

    That’s the way I see it.

    Look, personally, and despite the fact he was going for the ball, it probably was a red. That being said, as you suggest, we never get any leeway.

    They showed a table of Red Cards since Arteta took over and we have 13 reds over the period. The next worst is Southampton with 9.

    Now I defy anyone to say we are 33% dirtier than the next team. That alone suggests we are being treated very harshly.

    As I keep saying, yes, every offence could be a red. But that’s it. Could ! 30/70 50/50 70/30, whatever the chances, when it’s us, it will be a red.

    How many red card offences against us have we seen the opponent given the benefit of the doubt ?

  3. Robertson calls Oliver ‘f**king bastard’ but that is no foul and abusive from a Liverpool mouth……….

  4. so proud of these boys
    defending masterclass, which reminded me of what 10-man-italy did to the netherlands in the 2000 euro semi-final
    it’ll be fun to see which media outlets will admit to it tomorrow

  5. Maybe the red card is a new strategy by Arsenal. After reducing fouls, futile corners, now they are trying to reduce the number of players on the field. This way they can save some money by not needing as big a squad, an the 10 players are more motivated.

    Arteta is really a revolutionary, there is proof enough…..

  6. Feels like a win , a great result against the COVID liars , hope we get a result at home .
    Nitram do agree it was a red card but as I said very quick .

  7. By the way, what an incompetent defence we have at Arsenal.
    They let Lierpool get one shot on target for the whole game.
    This cannot be serious !
    Need to change the whole defensive line in this transfer window.

  8. Surprising that as it stayed 0-0 Oliver didn’t give Liverpool a penalty or Gabriel a second yellow. That may damage his position in Riley’s favours.

    All our players were heroes. Special mention to Chambers.

    Their keeper had a more vital save to make than Ramsdale.

  9. A great performance from Arsenal. Obdurate, covering every angle, never losing their shape. Ten men, clean sheet, the game still to win.

    One point made handsomely tonight – Mr Arteta has got them playing. Brilliant. ‘A defending masterclass.”

    You can see why Mr Wenger and Pep Guardiola put their trust in Mr Arteta as a manager, as an assistant, as someone who could learn the game at that level.

  10. Well done to the boys.
    This season, Arsenal had moved from being a relegation team (according to the media) to a team in recent matches, that could only be beaten through Refs help and now to a team unbeatable even on a PGMO tilted pitch with 10 men.

  11. As for the red card. Wouldn’t argue that it wasn’t but like Nitram says.

    ”They showed a table of Red Cards since Arteta took over and we have 13 reds over the period. The next worst is Southampton with 9.

    Now I defy anyone to say we are 33% dirtier than the next team. That alone suggests we are being treated very harshly.”

    Riley is going to get found out one day.

  12. A few years ago we had particular reasons to fear Dean and Atkinson (or after Riley retired). Now the referee competition is much more fierce, with Moss, Atwell, Marriner, Lawson, Oliver and the rest doing their utmost to cheat us.

  13. I wouldn’t argue that Xhaka didn’t deserve a red,

    But, I point to the stamp on Tomiyasu’s face where nothing was given as to the genesis of my discontent.

    The lads were brilliant today. We are seeing boys turn into men in front of our very eyes.

  14. Yep, that crappy defence has now played Man City and Liverpool with 10 men for a total of 90 minutes, and conceded just 3 shots on target in total.

    We have, as usual, been punished to the absolute max by the officials, in one form or another.

    I am so proud. This set of players is special.

  15. It might not have been a totally unreasonable red card if viewed in isolation.

    However to understand the true context the key question is whether that would have been given against Arsenal.

    I think we all know the answer to that

  16. agree with you completely about calum @John L
    what a great lad he is – one of the unluckiest too, unfortunately
    hey MA, now that we’re without elneny-partey-xhaka … and maitlandniles of course: calum is very good at playing DM, just ask Fulham

  17. “…..and conceded just 3 shots on target in total”.

    It’s actually better than that because it’s only TWO shots from open play.

    However you look at it, that is some pretty remarkable defending.

  18. @ Nitram

    I watched the game with two Liverpool fans and two Chelsea fans, none of whom believed it was a red. In fact both the Liverpool fans felt that, as a genuine challenge which wasn’t above waist height, a yellow would have been quite harsh.

    I’m just sick of this shit. We have to be 50% better than anybody else to have any chance of anything approaching a level playing field.

  19. Mikey

    I still think I err towards a red but as I said, it was not the 100% nailed on penalty many are making out.

    I believe it was given because the foul denied a clear goal scoring opportunity. And if that’s the case that’s where I have my doubts.

    For it to be classed as a clear goal scoring opportunity surely the attacker has to have the ball under control ? Jota clearly did not, and irrespective of the contact from Xhaka would not of done so as the ball hit him on the shoulder and ran away from him straight to the keeper.

    That being said I think I would of wanted a red if it was the other way round so I have to be fair and as I say, err on the side of the red. But it’s a close call, and as is the way again recently, most close calls seem to go against us

    Can I ask? You said:

    “I’m just sick of this shit. We have to be 50% better than anybody else to have any chance of anything approaching a level playing field”

    Do the 4 guys you watched it with concede we have a tough time with refs and VAR? I mean SKY showed those red card stats since Arteta took over showing we have had 13, 4 more than the next club, Southampton. That’s mad. As I asked earlier, are we really 30% dirtier than everyone else ?

    Or are they like all my mates and work colleagues who think it’s THEIR club that gets a bad shake ?

  20. @ Nitram

    Everyone remembers the decisions that go against their team, of course they do. In fairness, that’s probably because even the unbiased refs are still pretty incompetent.

    However, I do know several non-Gooners who have openly said that they believe we get treated worse by referees than any of the other bigger clubs.

    As has been said elsewhere, we rarely get the benefit of any doubt and if that had been Van Dijk on Xhaka, there’s no way it would have been red. In fact I don’t even have the confidence to say we’d have even got a free-kick!

  21. Mikey

    That’s interesting. I have some pretty fair minded mates who agree that we get a bad press, disproportionate to others, and to what we deserve. Also, as I have said here a few times, they think our fans (all lumped together of course) are a joke. But as I say to them, basically they are brainwashed by the terrible media coverage.

    I had a look at a couple of bits of media last night just to see what was being said, and by and large it was okay, but not as good as it should of been given the magnitude of the performance. For example I think you’ve seen The Suns player ratings in the other article for example. Joke. But I wont look today because I have no doubt at all in my mind that by this morning after the dust has settled, rather than the amazing performance the narrative will all be about Xhaka and slagging him off. I may be wrong and perhaps I will hear on UA how they all agree it was a bit harsh and how Xhaka cant sneeze without getting a red, where as others can spit at players, stamp on their face, or as Menace points out, call the ref a ‘f**king bastard’ and get nothing. Somehow I doubt it though.

    “As has been said elsewhere, we rarely get the benefit of any doubt”

    As you will know Mikey, that’s been my argument for years.

    Nearly all red, yellow cards are subjective and to greater or lesser degrees could go either way, for or against. The problem we have is that no matter how great or narrow the degree of balance they nearly always go against us. At least way more than the 50/50 ratio they should, being the natural nature of subjectivity.

    But, they ARE subjective decisions so cant be wrong. Cheating without cheating.

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