So. Farewell PHW & Liverpool Preview


So. Farewell
Then Peter
Hill-Wood.

You were the
Last great
Arsenal chairman.

Which admittedly
In recent
Years is a
Pretty low bar.

You oversaw
Five league
Titles.

Which is what
We will remember
More

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. BOOM.
    I would prefer we start Maitland Niles ahead of Lichsteiner, if Bellerin is unavailable. I never would have said this in the summer, but I think we have missed Mustafi.

  2. Lots of wind down here on the east coast in SA.

    Siting in my lounge watching white horses on the sea as far as I can see.

    I’m hoping we haul out something special and get a point or three, but my head tells me we are in deep trouble.

  3. lari03,

    We have missed Mustafi, for all of the flack that he gets…he damn near never loses an aerial dual in either box, and sure his aggressive nature can lead to him getting beat, it also helps us more often than not because his immediate pressure doesn’t allow for thr opposition to turn without pressure. The other thing is, he is by a wide margin our best ball playing CB not only in short passes but long diagonals to the flanks and accurate balls over the top. Sure he has a mistake in him, but for whatever reason, since his arrival he has seemed to more often than not raise his levels in big matches.

  4. I would actually prefer a back 4 especially since Kos has been terrible since his return and the pairing of Sokaritis and Mustafi have showm more than capable. Plus, Liverpool play through their midfield so lets nkt lose that by being outnumbered.

    Leno
    Maitland-Niles—-Mustafi—Sokaritis—-Sead
    Torriera—–Xhaka—–Guendouzi
    Iwobi—–Lacazette—–Aubameyang

    That would allow Xhaka to sit and be that deeplying playmaker and letting Guendouzi and Torriera close down any and everything in midfield and allowing Xhaka to sweep up by playing positional defense.

  5. Sorry, don’t want Pulisic either. Have seen him too many times and sure he has talent but £35m – £50m, nope absolutely not worth it. Give me Sarr, Pepe, Leon Bailey, Lucas Vasquez, hell even Isco to play #10 would be MUCH better investments and better quality of player.

  6. Great preview Yogi

    I have to admit that the vibes for today’s game do not feel very positive. The Ozil situation is a distraction and the injuries don’t help. They are playing very well and surprisingly on pace to concede only 14 goals for the entire league season. You can never lose if the opponent doesn’t score and they are a risk to go unbeaten if they continue to keep clean sheets. On the other hand we are pace to concede 50 goals and struggling right now and look to be regressing to the norm after our unbeaten run. All that said football is a funny game and anything can happen. Hopefully our defense will play over their heads and keep the score low the way we did at the Emirates and PEA will continue his hot streak or Lacazette will find a way to score a goal.

  7. We need to invest heavily in the next few windows. Unfortunately we don’t have anyone we can sell for big money. We should have taken money for Alexis. We could sell Bellerin and buy someone less expensive or perhaps Xhaka or even Mustafi could bring some money. Other then that unless we sell PEA or Lacazette we don’t have any real talented player to sell. Its another bit of evidence regarding the poor squad building and decision making that characterized the last 5 -7 years of the Wenger era.

    We need a dominant CB and maybe even 2 CB’s an attacking mid, a wide forward who can provide some end product and a LB as a start to the rebuilding.

  8. Obviously the first priority has to be rebuilding the defense. We argued a lot about selling Bellerin last summer and he has been better this season. Suggesting we sell him not not a knock on him as a player. However you don’t need an expensive RB to be successful. Liverpool spent about a total of $8M for their fullbacks. We could have used the money from selling Hector and bought someone who was less expensive to replace him and used the extra money to strengthen another position where you do not to spend big such as CB or attacking mid or wide forward. That is how Chelsea rebuilt themselves earlier in this decade.

  9. Bill,

    So you want to sell Bellerin who has been arguably Player of the Season, has been brilliant on the right flank and buy who?

    Honestly mate, that makes NO FUCKING SENSE at all. We need and want quality players an yet you want and are willing to sell arguably the best RB in the PL.

  10. Bill,

    Lets make it crystal clear about Liverpool’s spending on FB’s, Alexander-Arnold is a homegrown product who has been developed….sound familiar and Robertson for £10m but is only 23 years old. So basically they brought through their RB and bought a LB from a side that was relegated and wasn’t that good defensively UNTIL Klopp picked him up and even then it took him more than half a season to actually get into Klopp’s side.

    So basically they have Bellerin and a pre-Emery Sead. Please, get your facts straight before you start talking madness.

  11. C

    PEA is unquestionably our player of the season.

    I would only sell Bellerin if we could get a big fee and turn the money into a CB.

  12. Team news is in

    Leno
    Lichtsteiner—-Mustafi—Sokaritis
    Maitland-NIles–Xhaka—Torriera—-Sead
    Ramsey—Aubameyang—Iwobi.

  13. My oldest said to me “How do you think it will end tonight, Dad?”

    “Well son, it’ll either be 4 – 0 to Liverpool or 3 – 2 to us. One of those games.”

    I’m going for 4 – 0 to Liverpool with that line-up:

    Leno

    Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Sokratis

    AMN, Torreira, Xhaka, Kolasinac

    Ramsey, Iwobi

    Aubameyang

    Subs: Cech, Koscielny, Saka, Willock, Elneny, Guendouzi, Lacazette

  14. Eventually Liverpool might buy a high priced fullback but I don’t think they would be anywhere close to where they are right now if they had spent a significant amount of he Coutinho money and bought a couple of fullbacks instead of Van Dijk. When you are in rebuilding mode I think you have upgrade the center of your formation before you upgrade the fullbacks.

  15. Bill,

    Nope, Torriera has COMPLETELY changed this team and Bellerin has absolutely BOSSED the right flank no matter who both defensively and attacking wise. You ONLY care about goals scored in futbol.

    I wouldn’t sell Bellerin even then. Again, if you want to get better why the heck would you sell arguably the best RB in the league….there is nothing about that that makes sense. You think in order to get a top quality CB you have to spend a shit ton, sorry mate, van DIjk’s fee is an outlier because he is one of the best CB’s in the world. Think about this, we will have Ramsey, Cech, Ospina, possibly Nacho, Welbeck plus potentially sells of Elneny coupled with any money we receive to bring in players. Also, aren’t a side that is going to spend a shit ton on a CB, but instead Mislintat and Sanllehi will do what they have done their whole careers, find players that they want at the price they want.

  16. YW,

    Maybe its just me but I see no reason why Lacazette doesn’t start over Ramsey, he literally offers EVERYTHING that Ramsey does but so much more and so much better.

  17. Wolves are beating Spuds 3-1 and they have been absolutely BRILLIANT in the second half.

    Think about this, for my mate Bill, only the top 4 have let in fewer goals than Wolves…..think about that!

  18. YW,

    Haven’t you learned anything from Bill over all these years, the only thing that matters and makes you Player of the Season is if you score shit ton of goals.

    De Bruyne and Fernandinho aren’t NEARLY as important to Citeh as Aguero and Sterling…..

  19. Bill,

    We haven’t actually bout a FB since Nacho! Bellerin was homegrown and has become unquestionable arguably top 2 or 3 RB’s in the PL having just turn 23 and never truly having been taught to defend until now. Sead, Lichtsteiner were all on a free and Sead has been vital to us since the last time we played Liverpool when he was superb.

    Just stop with teh possible selling of Bellerin because honestly, Robertson has been a pleasant surprise to EVEN KLOPP. Take a look at how much FB’s are going for, unless we are going to buy a FB whose club just got relegated, nothing you say is making futboling sense my friend.

  20. If you are building a team from scratch the hardest and most piece to find is a high scoring striker so having PEA and also having Lacazette as a secondary scorer means we are off to a good start

  21. For all the talk around and about Ramsey, if ever there was a match for him to prove himself, this would be the match.

  22. I’d bite anybody’s arm off for a draw.

    Hopefully Pool will be over confident & we’ll do a Wolves.

  23. Yogi

    No doubt Torreira has been good and he is a critical long term piece of our team. I am not suggesting our defensive deficiencies are Torreira’s fault but from a defensive standpoint we are basically the same team we were last season. On the other hand PEA has been the best striker in the league much less the best player on our team. Without him we would be struggling to hold on to one of the top 7 Europa league spots.

  24. So its a back 4 then.

    Lichtsteiner—Mustafi–Sokaritis—Sead
    Xhaka—Torriera
    Maitland-Niles—Ramsey—Iwobi
    Aubameyang

  25. How the fuck!!!!!!!!!!!

    Xhaka makes the tackle and Lichtsteiner tries to flick it past Mustafi instead of clearing it.

    Lichtsteiner, for all of his experience, the past 2 games has been horrible and thrn Firmino scores again.

  26. Mustafi forces Firmino into Sokaritis who doesn’t even try to tackle him and lets Firmino just walk it in.

    I meam, Liverpool had 3 players clean on goal there.

  27. Ramsey looks the passenger and needs to do the defensive work because Fabinho and Wjandinum are in acres of space.

    Aubameyang presses the CB’s and Ramsey has to sit on their pivots. Ozil might not always run and track back but at least he will sit on the pivots.

    Lichtsteiner is getting destroyed.

  28. Torriera down…..thats the last thing we need but he can’t continue then Lacazette should come on and Maitland-Niles moves centrally

  29. The real shame is that Leno will get the goals but he had absolutely no chance to save either of them because his defenders let him down

  30. WTF WAS LICHTSTEINER DOING?!?!??!?!?!?!

    HE JUST LETS SALAH WALTZ IN FREE!!!!!!
    HE NOT ONLY PLAYS EVERYBODY ON BUY DOESN’T TRACK SALAH AND DOESN’T CLOSE HIM DOWN!!!!!!!!

  31. I feel for Leno because our defenders have been absolutely shambolic infront of him.

    I feel for Aubameyang because Ramsey offers nothing linking up play because he likes to get on the end of things not actually link up play.

  32. Mustafi has absolutely every right to have a go at Lichtsteiner for the 2nd and third goal because Lichtsteiner was at fault for both of them.

  33. C,

    Manager’s selection & tactics.

    Having said that we’re so thin on the ground this was always likely to happen.

  34. Lichtsteiner, Sokaritis, Mustafi, Ramsey have been absolute shit!

    Power beat Leno not placement because he geta a hand on it.

  35. The defence is a shambles. I wonder why it hasn’t got any better? You really would have thought that good defensive coaching would have addressed at least the obvious flaws in how we play.

  36. consolsbob,

    I know but look at goals 2 and 3….Lichsteiner instead of clearing his lines tries to flick it over Mustafi(who is standing right infront of him) and hits Mustafi then for the 3rd plays everybody on whole the rest of the team is 2-3 yards infront of him and then jogs out to close down Salah. Not just that but Mane is destroying him.

    You would think, an experienced RB who was taught at Juve how to defend would habe done better not just this match but for the counter last match too.

    Not saying he is the worst because Sokaritis and Sead are getting a run around, but FFS Lichtsteiner is getting done.

    I’d move Maitland-Niles to RB and bring on Lacazette.

  37. consolsbob,

    Looks like we really do have our Arsenal back.

    Unfortunately it’s the spineless , chaotic & shambolic under pressure Arsenal which we’re all so familiar with.

  38. consolsbob,

    You would think but the mistakes that are being made are mental not coaching. Why is Sokaritis kicking Salah when behind him, why isn’t Lichtsteiner putting the ball into row Z instead of trying to be cute, why is Lichtsteiner literally 2-3 yards behind the rest of his team as they push out.

  39. Our recruitment has been bad for years. We passed up on Mane and VD when they were at Saints and even at Celtic.

    Let’s face it we have no money to overhall this squad to get us to the level to win the league. Emery is doing as well as he can. He now realises how tough this league is and how average some of our players are.

  40. The only way we can compete to win the league in the next 3 years is to spend the kind of money Man City and Chelsea have in their peak days of spending and that ain’t happening. We need to face reality and realise how far we have fallen behind chasing 4th place for the last 14 years!!

  41. I do not understand why Laca is not a nailed on starter. Our best technical player who works his socks off.

  42. How ironically funny is it that we were linked with and if reports are to be true, close to signing Mane, vanDijk and Wjandinum and they were at the heart of Liverpool’s title run.

  43. Bob,
    Sell all our scorers-Auba Laca and anybody else who has some value, Mustafi, Bel, Sead, Iwobi, and Xhaka, I do not care how much for, and let Emery rebuild the defense and midfield properly.

  44. We had only three more points after 20 games compared to last season and 2 less compared to the season before. Overall I can’t say I see much improvement. Attitude is better but from a footballing perspective it’s the same old story. To be fair it’s taken Klopp three years to build a title winning/challenging side so we shouldn’t expect miracles. But we need some serious cash investment into this squad over the next few years.

  45. First names on the team sheet every match: lacazette, Leno, Aubameyang, Torriera, Bellerin(once fit).

    Everybody else…..

    Can’t blame Ozil for this though

  46. This game brings the memories of previous seasons back. Midfield and defense was awful and it needs an overhaul.

  47. Did we ever plan to replace Santi? We are so reliant on attacks down the wing and we just don’t have the quality out wide.

  48. C,

    Totally agree …as I do with your list of starters.

    Problem is we won’t get much for anyone else (unless you include Ozil’s wage) , so unless our owner seriously invests (ha fucking ha) we’re going to be fighting with one arm tied behind our backs for a good while yet.

    On the plus side , the nights will start getting lighter soon.

  49. Paulie Walnuts,

    Thats the thing, he has invested in his US sides recently and his football team the LA Rams are among the favorites but FFS we had quite a number of passengers today. Ramsey literally offered NOTHING, Xhaka looked out if it and our back 4 was shambolic and that is being kind.

  50. consolsbob,

    And he can hold the ball up. Given we seem to have a gap between the defense and attack going forwards, his omission does seem strange. I think Emery just has no confidence in the rest of the team compensating for playing with two strikers.

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