So. Farewell PHW & Liverpool Preview

So. Farewell
Then Peter

You were the
Last great
Arsenal chairman.

Which admittedly
In recent
Years is a
Pretty low bar.

You oversaw
Five league

Which is what
We will remember

Than being one
Of the custodians
Who sold out
To Enos

And like
26th May 1989
That is
Never in doubt.

HT to EJ Thribb.

Peter Hill-Wood’s passing really is the end of an era. The family connection with Arsenal is severed completely but in reality, it ended when he stepped down as chairman. He seemed almost sad some years back when the subject his children joining the ‘family firm’. Arsenal, he said, was not their passion.

Succeeding his late father, Denis Hill-Wood, in the family seat at the head of the Arsenal table, PHW oversaw a relatively smooth transition to the club we are now. Compared to others, it provided a solid foundation upon which success was built.

Hill-Wood saw pretty much everything. Power swinging from clubs to players, managers taking bungs; titles, cups, heartbreak. It was a football life.

His initial reaction to both Kroenke – “We are all being seduced that the Americans will ride into town with pots of cash for new players. It simply isn’t the case. They only see an opportunity to make money” – and Usmanov – “I wouldn’t want him to be the owner of the club” – proved right. Yet it was they who PHW and others left us with.

If he were to choose his ‘moment’ to pass, I’m sure it would be after a title win. Failing that, an away match at Anfield ticks every nostalgic box going and then some. 26th May 1989; when 5.2m fitted into Anfield; there would have been one more but PHW’s cigar was so big it needed its’ own chair.

Rest in peace.

We’ve Got Ozil…Oh, No We Haven’t!

It’s pantomime season so his absence is today’s star billing. It’s ‘knee injury’, showing acute awareness that nobody believed the back-knack story anymore.

Of course he isn’t playing; it’s an away game; a big away game. To be honest, no matter much I admire his skill and technique, it’s obvious he doesn’t fit into Unai Emery’s plans so a parting of the ways seems inevitable. The sale which funds the rebuilding of the squad?

On a more positive note, Shkodran Mustafi returned to training yesterday having worked on his fitness on his own for a while. Is it too soon for a return to the XI? This isn’t a match in which we need to be taking chances.

Then again, we seem to be doing an awful lot of that recently.

It’s a busy time with central defenders returning like London buses; one comes along and then they all do. Dino Mavropanos is surely some weeks away from the first team having failed to complete his pre-season.

Nonetheless, I’m readying the “Dino saw danger, wrecks attack” puns for the future.

Yesterday saw the media pushing the ‘Arsenal land Villa cast-off Cahill’ routine. It’s a story which irked some but is a signing which makes sense. It’s going to be expensive to prise a top-notch centre-back from his club in January; we don’t have that money and certainly not the £35m to bid on Christian Pulisic as is being claimed.

Cahill has experience and is nowhere near as disastrous a defender as Silvestre. At 32, he has experience and can cajole the younger defenders in training. It’s obvious Rob Holding earned Unai Emery’s trust before injury struck so why would he push for a permanent signing now, particularly if the players he wants aren’t available?

So Now, I’ll Mention Liverpool

This is a match which will end one of two ways. We’ll either stun everyone with an outstanding performance and grab a point or three. Or, and I fear this is more likely, we’re in for a three or four-goal pasting.

Liverpool are Premier League leaders for good reason and well ahead of us in a squad sense. Three years to put a timescale on it. We aren’t going to catch them this season or next, assuming they hold on to win their first title since 1990. That’s not a certainty, by the way; not yet.

To avoid a chastening evening, we’ll need to put in maximum effort for 90 minutes. None of the slack-jawed slow starts we’re accustomed to nor any of lackadaisical defending which costs us points left, right and centre.

In Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, we have a dynamic strike partnership which is capable of unsettling the self-proclaimed best defender in the world, Dejan Lovren but if we’re talking about investing in centre-backs, Virgil Van Dijk is the benchmark.

The XI I expect to see this evening:

Leno; Mustafi, Sokratis, Koscielny; LichtsteIner, Torreira, Guendouzi, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Lacazette, Aubameyang

It’s a straightforward 3-5-2 on paper or as I expect us to be pinned back for long spells, 5-3-2. Yet, these matches where we’re not expected to well are the ones where we surprise people. Can tonight be one of those occasions?

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

125 thoughts on “So. Farewell PHW & Liverpool Preview

  1. C says:

    Sokaritis has gotten away with his aggressive style quite a bit this season but Liverpool toyed with him and the penalty he gave up was absolutely unnecessary.

  2. C says:

    If I was Mislintat and Sanllehi, I would call PSG and tell them I will give you Ramsey, Kos and 10m for Rabiot right now!

  3. Dalm says:

    Objectively – the scousers are top of the league for a reason AND have had years to build this squad – we KNEW we had gaps AND we had injuries – surely we were expecting things to go against us…..

    On the day – some chuckle brothers defending and some ‘interesting’ decisions – Laca a clear peno – not given, Sane allowed to grab Soktratis by the throat & to be even handed Xhaka should have had a second yellow …and neither of their penos were real…

    Bottom line – we were schooled, better team won and all that shit.

    Lets hope that they blow a tyre or two and someone else – well -other than the spuds – overtakes them.

    Hate the fact that the media love them and give a free pass on any shenanigans they pull.

    Time to cancel both sky and BT spurt

  4. Dalm says:

    oh and thanks Yogi and Happy New Year to one and all !!

    More lager please

  5. G4E says:

    I think it was a big mistake not starting with Auba-Lacazette upfront. It was the intent we showed by our starting XI that defeated us.

    Despite taking the initiative and scoring first, we were immediately exposed and easily beaten from there.

    Not sure why Unai didn’t use the tried and tested starting XI including Lacazette, both together create so much work for the opposition defense.


    It certainly shows that we are nowhere near the shape or form of the teams above us. We do not have the same quality in the back as we do at the front.

    Aging players like Letchnertr (intended), Kos, Nacho, unstable and inconsistent players like Mustafi, Papadopolis (intended) are not up to the standard required to challenge for the Premier League.

    Xhaka is another Mysterious Turd that Arsene Wenger left for his successor.


    Hopefully, the club will try to remedy that quickly, we shall see if they do.

  6. MikeSA says:

    Oh well, I wasn’t expecting much and once I saw the lineup I expected even less.

    We don’t seem to be able to improve the defense and Emery seems to be getting more and more conservative and fixated on endeavor rather than skill as we get worse and worse.

    There are some absolute basics he just isn’t seeing (he’s certainly not alone in that).

    He needs to take his head out his arse.

  7. Dukey says:

    So the Emery honeymoon period is over then.

    For me I think he is trying to work out a team with Wengers squad. We can’t hold any judgment untill he brings in his players. .

    Then if he fails we can burn him at the stake!

  8. Bill says:

    This type of result was not unexpected. We talked about this a lot last season but I don’t think the real problem was Arsene’s tactics but instead the problem was his poor squad building decisions. Just like any team we can put together our annual false dawn and a good run of results but right now we don’t have the talent to compete with this level over the course of a 38 game season. On current form we are very unlikely to finish 4th. Hopefully Emery can find a way to right the ship and win the Europa league the way he did with Sevilla

  9. ferkov says:

    As a small mercy, I had no opportunity to watch tonite, and so I didn’t have to make any excuses. No surprises then. Apart from our early goal.
    And a double Bill mid comments, that was a worry.
    Fuck it ,our defence lived on luck for the first ten games or so ,then we started to believe the hype, and built some confidence. Rob and the rest of our backs got injured, we lost the mojo and now don’t seem to know where the yellow brick road ever was.
    Can’t comment on tonites bollix specifically, but we need the dominant CB that C seems to think Mustafi is. Never will be. Except in glimpses. Bench warmer or sell. Torriera has even lost his conviction recently . He’s got too many roles to fill.
    Maybe we can find a rhythm again when Bells is back and we add another CB.
    We do have good goal threat after all. Bill knows. At least one of them.
    COYDynamic duo

  10. Bill says:

    C @ 4:42 and Yogi

    “Torreira has COMPLETELY changed this team”

    We are currently on pace to concede 57 goals which is far more then any season under Wenger. I don’t blame Torriera or any individual player and I think Torriera has played well but he is a defensive player and his addition certainly has not made us a better defensive team at least so far.

  11. MikeSA says:


    Personally I’ve always felt that the squad was way better than what Wenger got out of it, even if it did lack balance and have some gaping holes in it.

    Emery started out looking like he could make it at least the sum of the parts, if not a bit more.

    My starting point was always that he would do well to just tread water for this season and then start to make a difference.

    From what we heard he had deep insight into the squad and the issues, and that he was a deeply analytical thinker.

    At this stage I’m beginning to doubt that.

    The defense hasn’t really improved much, and it started from an incredibly low bar, so that should have already have seen a marked improvement.

    It hasn’t.

    I’m starting to suspect that his man- management skill set is limited and possibly a bit one- dimensional.

    I am also starting to get worried about his tactical nous.

    His starting lineups are peculiar more often than not, and he behaves in a very similar manner to Wenger when he does double-whammy things like weaken both his deep midfield and his defense by playing Xhaka as a CB.

    Rather play one of the youngsters who actually IS a CB in that case – I.e. it’s preferable to cater for one weak spot than create two trying to solve one problem.

    As I stated, I’m happy with treading water.

    However, at this stage I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll manage to do that.

    What I’m looking now IMO at looks more like the makings of a mid table team a la Fat Sam than Klopp, Pochetinno, or Gusrdiola.

    I’m prepared to give him space and time if I think he’s headed in the right direction.

    For a while I thought he might be, but right now I’m concerned that he’s not.

    He has favorites and outcasts who he plays or shuns for no apparent reason, just like Wenger, only different ones, and it’s costing us points.

    He’s having a bit of a rough spot with injuries, sure, but he’s not helping himself either.

    I don’t like where I think he’s going right now, and though I hope he proves me wrong I’m not going to keep quiet if I think he’s cocking up.

  12. Arsetralian says:

    I have a positive!

    We don’t need to blame Ozil for this one.

  13. C says:


    Nope, actually if you have read my posts, I have actually said we need a CB boss, I just said Mustafi isn’t as bad as people make hime out to be.

  14. C says:


    Again, you read bits and pieces but its fine. Torriera has changed our team and if you look at the goals, they were a comedy of defender issues. But its fine.

  15. Bill says:


    I think Torreira has been very good individually but to suggest he has completely changed the team is a heavy dose of hyperbole. I understand that stats don’t tell the entire story but am not sure how you can continue to suggest that Torreira, Leno, and Bellerin have been brilliant while Xhaka, Mustafi and Kolasinac have been good this season when we are on pace to concede 57 goals.

  16. MikeSA says:

    This type of result was not unexpected. We talked about this a lot last season but I don’t think the real problem was Arsene’s tactics but instead the problem was his poor squad building decisions. Just like any team we can put together our annual false dawn and a good run of results but right now we don’t have the talent to compete with this level over the course of a 38 game season. On current form we are very unlikely to finish 4th. Hopefully Emery can find a way to right the ship and win the Europa league the way he did with Sevilla

    If Wenger’s “tactics” weren’t the rules then the only reason for that is that he didn’t have any.

    The squad as it stood and stands right now is way better than what Wenger got our of it and although he’s doing a lot better than Wenger did with it, Emery is still not getting the best out of them.

    Some players are responding, but many are not.

    That’s indicative of limited man management skills.

    At least Emery has admitted that sorting the defense out is his responsibility, which is way, way more than Wenger ever managed to admit, but if he doesn’t or can’t do anything about it then it’s not much help.

    That said, knowing you have a problem is a start, something Wenger couldn’t get to admit.

  17. MikeSA says:


    Between autocorrect, deteriorating eyesight in my old age, and my crappy typing on my iPad, it’s a recipe for disaster.

  18. Alex says:

    Since Bournemouth, UE puts 7 defensive players (5 defenders + 2 defending midfilders) and 3 attacking players. Özil out. Since then what do we have: Spurs at home that is always a very special game. Apart from that: Burnley with Özil on 2 of our 3 goals, and nothing, the quality decreases, the defence is still awful despite 7 players. Özil is attacked for not pressing, ok, fabulous football brain that says it…..
    The attacks is without any threat. Against Brighton, Guendouzi was walking on Özil’s feet, for what? He was running everywhere, for what? We’re the first running team, for what? Being 5th? And Guendouzi was preventing our 10 to develop his game. I love Matteo, but UE should have fixed it at half time. Result: he kicked out Özil to show his muscles against the “star” (what he did in PSG before) and after Laca.
    We’ve got 30 goals in 20 games, more than with Wenger who didn’t play defense?! You can add anyone you want, but this team is unbalanced. The 22 unbeaten run, the Emery ball were with Özil and 4 defenders doing there job covered by 2 midfielders and a guy able to launch Auba and Laca. if you’ve got no attacking treat, no guy able to spot the runs of our attackers, this is too easy for the opposition.
    Injuries? Yes, for sure, but then what about a 3 players in midfiled (+ Ramsey – nobody criticises Ramsey for not pressing nor tracking back yesterday…) unable to assist our defense?
    Don’t tell me about Ramsey: he is UNABLE to do 1/10 of what Özil does offensively.

  19. Jonnygunner says:

    Morning all
    You were only one goal out with your predicted score to your eldest YW…..did you say 6-1 ?

  20. YW says:

    There is one coming. Bit of an early morning to bed last night.

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