Spurs Preview: Turn Up, Tune In, Do Not Cop Out

The players get a quick shot at redemption following last weekend’s defeat at Anfield and a chance to make the international break seem a lot shorter.

Defeat is unthinkable but not unimaginable. We improved our year-on-year performances on Merseyside but the bar was set so low, being worse would almost have been impressive.

This weekend, defeat cannot easily be laughed off. At stake, there are bragging rights for those who need them, coupled with points to capitalise on Chelsea and United’s bad results.

We’ll know how bad those results were once we’ve faced Sheffield United and Southampton at home and away respectively.

Nonetheless, winning today opens an early advantage over both of them and Tottenham as well. Instead of seeing broken cannons in the back pages, it will be devils with broken forks, lions laying at the feet of American dentists and chicken in a basket.

It seems Spurs are enjoying a similar season to us following defeat in the Champions League final. Been there, done that, suffered for a decade after. Had they won it…well, that’s nightmare scenario we will never face. I’ll never see them crowned champions in my lifetime either.

So, to this afternoon. Victory will be underpinned by a solid performance; everyone must turn up and leave their mistake-riven boots at home. Yes, Sideshow Bob, I’m looking at you.

And young Matteo. Don’t do as he does just because of the striking similarities of your hairdos. Is it just me who thinks Bob and Matteo have a Carry on Screaming thing going? An Oddbod and Oddbod Junior scenario where Matteo was created from Bob’s DNA in a dingy laboratory somewhere?

Concentration is the name of the game. Not life as Brucie insisted but there is a Generation Game at play.

Good Game, Good Game

There are some big decisions for Unai Emery to make. The back four will only change with Sead Kolasinac taking the dearly-departed Nacho Monreal’s place. I say dearly-departed but Sociedad got him on the cheap. Too cheap if you ask me but then, no-one did.

However, in midfield, there were several aspects of last weekend’s performance which need rectifying if we’re not to suffer the mother of all hangovers next week and the one following.

The relative inexperience of Ceballos and Willock needs someone to guide them at times in the game. In all honesty, I think Xhaka’s performances suffer when he has responsibility.

He gets ponderous and more concerned about others than his own game. Unai and Arsene before him like the Swiss so he will play. But they play in an ‘unnatural’ position; he isn’t the defensive midfielder our back four is crying out for.

That player sits on the bench. Lucas Torreira’s natural game is to snap at ankles and break up play. He does it very well in my view and in doing so, frees Ceballos and Willock to do their jobs.

I make no bones about believing Lucas Torreira is a better defensive midfielder. With Pepe, Lacazette and Aubameyang being unleashed on a waiting world, I do believe that is a key role in the side today.

If Unai is persisting with Willock (I don’t think so) and Ceballos (probably), then the back four needs not only protecting but the ball needs recycling quickly. Torreira is a more efficient player in that sense, quicker to shift the ball to a teammate.

Will Emery make that change? I don’t think so.

However, it’s not as big as the decision over Mesut Ozil.

What’s The Time? It’s Time To Get Ill

Nobody seriously expected either Kolasinac or Ozil to be match-fit whilst the dreadful violence engulfed their lives.

Subsequently, illness interfered with the German’s preparations for the visit to Anfield. A full week to prepare for this game? I will be surprised if he starts but not if he is used as a substitute.

But does Unai Emery really rate Ozil? Not as a player, per se but as a member of his own squad? Whenever the Spaniard speaks of him, there’s always a feeling that the midfielder is being damned by faint praise.

When he spoke to the press, the headlines were generally positive about Ozil from Emery’s perspective. “We need him” was the catchphrase they picked up on, hoping to provoke some sense of panic.

But in context, it wasn’t that. It was almost exasperation on the coach’s part. “We need him and [need] him first to be consistent in training, to be available in each match.”

In other words, sickly ickle Mesut is useless to us; he needs to be stronger with a sense that applies mentally and physically. That’s not Emery being harsh over current circumstances; it’s a roll-on from last season.

Dani Ceballos is the one whose place is under pressure if Ozil returns. Joe Willock is likely to lose out to Matteo Guendouzi which I understand if we’re going with 4 – 3 – 3.

A year’s more experience for Bob Jr gets him the nod although you could argue that a partnership of Bob Jr and Willock may be more suited to this afternoon. However, there is more guile with Ceballos or Ozil.

Nice to See You, To See You…NICE!

However, the Spaniard was close to anonymous at Anfield as the home side pressed us incessantly. Tottenham will do the same to a degree but Ceballos needs to show in these matches why there is a fuss about him.
Hector Bellerin added to that when he claimed Ceballos was “one of the best players I’ve seen in my career”. High praise but raising hopes and expectations.

Ceballos has the talent to dominate the game; he needs support with Guendouzi and Torreira backing him up. It’s no good expecting one player to win the game if others don’t perform.

Ahead of them will be Pepe, Lacazette and Aubameyang. It’s time to unleash the beasts. No more 15 minutes here or there; be brave, Unai, or they are wasted on you.

The Ivorian has plenty to build on from last week. Put him clean through, one-on-one with Hugo Lloris and he scores. That’s after an effort which curls into the top corner and leaves everyone swooning in the aisles.

With that trio, we ought to win. Tottenham’s defence wobbles in a similar manner to ours when pressurised; let’s keep our heads while they lose theirs.

Somewhere along the line, Rob Holding will come into contention but it seems his return is being closely managed. A local derby is an intense game in which to make your comeback, especially as a centre-back.

Which leaves the line-up:

Leno; Maitland-Niles, Luiz, Sokratis, Kolasinac; Xhaka, Ceballos, Guendouzi; Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang

It’s a good enough line-up to win and put us onto the path for six points for the first time in a while when it comes to the season’s North London Derbies.

Bragging rights are more than just verbal sparring this time, however. Bragging rights show progress. We’re making tiny bits of progress this season. Over time they will become bigger steps; wouldn’t it be nice to get one of those leaps this afternoon?

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

‘til Tomorrow.

111 thoughts on “Spurs Preview: Turn Up, Tune In, Do Not Cop Out

  1. DALM says:

    apologies, I feel shallow and dirty having cheated by booming before reading.

    Does Kola mean a back three – I THINK I have happy memories of this being an attacking ploy many years ago & maybe it helps both AMN and the passing out from the back tactic…spread wide going forward and tuck in defending

    and with that basis – Torreira and Cebalos in the middle and the three mouseketeers up top – jobs a good un

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  2. Kadeet says:

    Torreira needs to be in that line up today. He has an eye for goal in addition to being our best defensive midfielder. He scored in the corresponding fixture last season.

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  3. Las says:

    Morning.
    I tend to agree with YW that Xhaka will start instead of Torrera. I can not reasoning why though. Maybe on training days with no pressure, against teammates he does well. But on a matchday his impotent indolence is irritating.
    With Kieran and Bellerin in the back line I would feel comfortable but in the middle of the park we still missing a Viera/Gilberto like midfielder. And Xhaka is not like that.
    Whatever is the lineup I want Arsenal win badly.

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  4. freddo says:

    Kadeet,

    Torreira is also essential for beating the press because he has the ability to turn past a defender with the ball at his feet. That opens up the whole pitch. Xhaka can’t do that and puts everybody else under huge pressure. If Emery plays Xhaka he’s nuts.

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  5. consolsbob says:

    You are more confidant that I, YW.

    Not that I expect to lose but we are a curate’s egg at the moment and the spuds must have a good game sometime.

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  6. TH14 says:

    Good afternoon all
    Alex Iwobi scores his first goal for Everton
    Never rated him, still don’t rate him
    Never felt he was good enough for Arsenal, still don’t think he ever will, don’t regret selling him one bit
    Maybe he will do well for Everton
    Wish him best of luck

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  7. Wavey says:

    TH14,

    Its his second in a week, as he also scored in the League Cup. He always worked hard, but seemed to be a bit of a headless chicken in the box. If he sorts that out and gets it together at Everton it really puts our training methods under the spotlight. Doubt he will though as he was the same under two different coaches (although Wenger never actually coached anybody).

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  8. Ferkov says:

    TH14,

    Always liked him myself. Persistently fell short of my hopes tho. Had to go. Good price.
    I also think big mo might raise a decent fee after a good season in turkey.
    Nacho is a head scratcher. Only reasonable explanation is that he had gentlemans agreement in place.

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  9. TH14 says:

    Ferkov,

    For all his skill, dribbling and pace, he always lacked end-product
    His shooting was like a back pass, it never had any power whatsoever
    Think we got a fair price for him as his finishing always had a lot to be desired
    Wish we had sold Wilshere when his stock was high and accepted the 60m City offered for Sanchez, now we can’t offload the mess that came as his replacement
    Hindsight is always a bitch

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  10. Kadeet says:

    Line up out, Laca Auba and Pepe up front. Torreira, Xaka and Guendozi in midfield, no Ozil or Ceballos

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  11. Wavey says:

    Fucking poor from Leno. Didn’t seem to be a great shot. Defence were all over the place though.

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  12. Wavey says:

    YW,

    Emery’s idea of changing the forward during a match is to take off Lacazette and play Aubameyang through the middle.

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  13. Bufallo says:

    As predictable as tomorrow. Presuming that if Emery doesn’t get at least 4th he’s fired.

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  14. Bufallo says:

    Must have been v. Tempting to pull the trigger on him after last years collapse. But then again the club has sod all ambition

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  15. Rad says:

    Good afternoon toute le monde.

    It’s still early however what seems evident is that Lacazettes first touch so far appears way off.

    The passing in general has been cack.

    This team is not organized and has a balance throughout to warrant playing the 3 attacker’s at the same time.

    We are over complicating things going forward.

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  16. Wavey says:

    Through on goal at every attack now. Thus us really not looking good at the moment. We need to be quicker on the attack because they are now setting themselves comfortably every time we go forward. Need to use lace of Pepe and Aubameyang. First touch needs to be better as well.

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  17. G4E says:

    Not sure why Ceballos is not playing instead of Xhaka…We need someone to carry and keep the ball in Midfield…Xhaka is not going to ever do that.

    I think Emery still getting the selection wrong…..We are wide open when we lose the ball and we are losing it a lot.

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  18. Spike says:

    Oh look. Were shite and Xhaka is in the line up.

    Fuck me, how did he get the dodgy photos of Emery as well as Arsene???

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  19. Wavey says:

    What a fucking joke. I cannot work out why Emery believes in that cock. And he’s the captain.
    Toothless up front as well. Going backwards if we lose this. Our defence and midfield are a disaster.

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  20. Rad says:

    Well play Xhaka at your peril.

    He is not what We need as a starting a player. Its IDIOTIC to lunge in like that. Stupid. Infantile.
    It’s as simple as that .

    We are unable to compete in the middle. We are unable to match the Physicality of Spuds. We are hamstrung with Xhaka.

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  21. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Great finish from Lacca.

    No more brain farts in the second half & we’ve still got a chance here.

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  22. Las says:

    Xxxgrrrrrrhhhh….. why on earth Xhaka is in?
    The first half…. it really caused physical pain.
    Laca eased it finally, but still

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  23. Ras says:

    I guess Emery has been under pressure to play the 3 Up Front , when in reality the Team as a whole is not ready to accommodate all 3.

    There is no évident ‘plan ‘ that I can discern. If Emery continues to insist with Xhaka we will continue to see brain farts by Xhaka.

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  24. Birdkamp says:

    Huge goal that, hopefully. Lacazette is such a don and that was a nice flick from Pepe.

    We’ve seen at both ends how Xhaka just doesn’t size up. For a supposed master passer he can’t play a through ball for shit. Then at the back a player in his role is supposed to bring authority and composure, and these are the last qualities on earth you’d associate with him.

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  25. Ferkov says:

    Xhaka has to be hooked. Ceballos on and station Guendo back. At least he tries to stay on his feet.
    Sideshow Bob. …. not making Mustafi look that bad. Awful. Chambers on the bench?
    Spuds don’t look great at the back either tho, so all is not lost yet

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  26. Damon says:

    What the fuck does Emery see in Xhaka?

    Everyone here has been saying for weeks don’t start him. He’s at fault for both goals against us. I really don’t see what he brings positively?

    Ceballos at half time?

    I’d have started him for Xhaka

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  27. Wavey says:

    Fantastic goal from Lacazette. I’d love to see us get back in this. I’m not sure we are going to keep them out in the second half unless we change things though. Potch must surely be telling his team to just run at us every time they get the ball. With no defence and no midfield they could get a hatful. They could afford to take a defender off and see if we can play who can score most.

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  28. Ferkov says:

    C,

    Think Mesut has the nuts for this? Recipe for losing any foothold in midfield today.

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  29. Damon says:

    Once Pepe slots a couple and calms down a bit he’s going to be an absolute beast

    Don’t like him taking corners though. He’s a tall boy. Let Torreira kick the corners

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  30. Rss says:

    Sead we cannot forget does not bring an awful lot to this side.

    His crossing is awful. He’s not much better than average an average Player. With Nacho now gone We truly only have Tierney and he’s not ready.

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  31. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Never gives Torreira much more than an hour. Is this thinking he runs himself out, he’s young, or is there a long term issue with his fitness?

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  32. Wavey says:

    No commentator announces that Miki has no goals and one assist in last 16 appearances. How is he still being picked? Must be worse than Ozil and that’s saying something.

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  33. Wavey says:

    Amazing. Right back in it. Lovely ball in and our poacher does it again. Loving the hassling from the players now. Spuds looked under pressure every time they get the ball now.

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  34. Wavey says:

    Watching Ceballos brings back memories of Santi. Twisting and turning in the middle of the pitch. So hard to get off the ball.

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  35. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Nice to see Xhaka take an intelligent yellow for once.

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  36. andy1886 says:

    I want to give Emery the benefit of the doubt but playing Xhaka and his faith in Mhiki is just baffling. And that’s without talking about our defensive failings…

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  37. Welsh corgi cardigans says:

    Miki and Xhaka is a conundrum. Why do we keep playing them😕.

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  38. Spike says:

    andy1886,

    I’m losing faith in him too. Unreal how can instantly recall and then keep Xhaka in the side?

    Utter shite.

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  39. Bufallo says:

    Please can some madman from europe make a massive bid for xhaka….absolute plank of a player. In the end, at least we fought back. But we were headless when we really ought to have won it. Looking forward to Pepe finding his feet.

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  40. Bufallo says:

    Miki is so unproductive, only reasons he’s there is because his wages are so inflated we can’t get rid. Quite why he’s playing is another matter

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  41. C says:

    Ferkov,

    I would have rather Ozil than the absolute disappearing act that Mhkitaryan did after he walked onto the pitch.

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  42. Las says:

    Coming back from two goals down was a great fight, but going under… we desperately need Bellerin, Holding and Kieran to have some still in the back

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  43. Woolwich Freddie says:

    How does Kane receive no censure for that dive?
    Agree Xhaka’s presence is baffling. The occasional great ball or searing shot doesn’t make up for having a huge, clumsy hole in the middle of the pitch. Makes the defense look worse than it is (and it’s not perfect).
    On paper, Mikhi’s an impressive player to have on the bench but he looks like someone with zero confidence. Better to give youth a chance.

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  44. G4E says:

    I guess we didn’t lose the game against all the Odds we created.

    Count it as +1 point and move on.

    I would like to see Bellerin, Holding, and Tierney back.

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  45. C says:

    andy1886,

    The Xhaka thing is absolutely annoying. Lets wait on the defensive side because our errors are just Sokaritis and Xhaka. I want to see the difference having proper FB’s in Tierney and Bellerin do for us and that is no slight to Maitland-Niles and Sead but they are both attacking players.

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  46. Wavey says:

    Well yet again it was a stupid mistake by one of our liability players that meant we dropped points. Someone has to work with Pepe because his decision making up in the box is poor. He and Ceballos were amazing in our build up, but he needs to calm down a bit. Maybe he needs that first goal to settle him down.

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  47. Ferkov says:

    Had Nelson on the bench too. Mikhs touch is piss poor. Nelson would have turned Sanchez inside out

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  48. Bufallo says:

    i wonder how many of his fouls conceded, xhaka, lead to goal scoring or goals for the opposition.

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  49. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Interesting game. Hard to say quite where Spurs will be next week. They played well on the beak but were very lucky to finish with eleven.
    Our problems were, as ever, much of our own making but I appreciated the enthusiasm and the response after halftime.
    There are the tiniest hints of cause for optimism. We have the personnel to play a mean high press (especially if we drop Xhaka) but there’s a ling way to go

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  50. Ferkov says:

    C,

    Fair point, but Nelson would have offered more than either up against Sanchez

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  51. C says:

    Pepe needs either a goal or an assist and I think he will calm down a bit but you can see, he is a brilliant talent. Aubameyang gets all the plaudits, and rightly so, but Lacazette is the key to our front 3 and not just for his fight and goal scoring but his hold-up and link-up is some of the best in the PL and he is the balance to them.

    Moving forward, please Emery, just go with Ceballos, Guendouzi and Torriera in midfield. Xhaka and Mhkitaryan offered borderline nothing and Guendouzi and Ceballos bossed that midfield in the 2nd half.

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  52. Wavey says:

    C,

    Agreed. Winks reaches down and grabs Sokratis when he’s on the ground. That’s a yellow even if Sokratis is chasing aggressively.

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  53. Woolwich Freddie says:

    C,

    The defense leaves Maitland-Niles with a lot to do sometimes. It’s rough on the junior partner in the unit, playing out of position.

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  54. C says:

    Ferkov,

    The only thing with Nelson is I’m not sure he would have dealt with the physicality of Sanchez very well but at least Ozil woukd have offered that ability to make that pass and simply not try to out pace or muscle Sanchez who has plenty of both but is also a walking red card waiting.

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  55. Wavey says:

    Ferkov,

    Sanchez was under huge pressure in the second half and a decent winger would have really pushed him. We brought on Mkhitaryan who did nothing at all.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  56. Welsh corgi cardigans says:

    C,

    Yea, I think 433 is the way forward and I like to see Guendouzi or Torreira at the base of the midfield.

    Think the way forward this season will be Guendouzi anchoring the midfield.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  57. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Welsh corgi cardigans,

    Agree, that’s probably the way forward. I think we put a lot on Guendouzi, too. He handles it very well for a youngster. With a bit more support in the middle, what could we do?

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  58. Welsh corgi cardigans says:

    True that, we’d be much more mobile and I think we could play with a higher tempo as well as with a higher press.

    Maybe end of season we’ll see Xhaka not being a mainstay?

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  59. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Welsh corgi cardigans,

    It’s certainly the way the performances are pointing. I’m not entirely clear in why some of Emery’s selections are made, though. I feel there are some fitness/illness issues we may not be privy to as has been confirmed regarding Ozil. I think he’s trying to ease some of the younger players in and maybe doesn’t want to destroy them by playing them in the derby straight off. Nelson’s played at a comparable level in Germany, however, and you feel wouldn’t need that much easing. Willock’s looked composed anyway.

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  60. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Great comeback but the Spuds were there to be dug up today.

    Our defence is a total shit show. I don’t rate any of them TBH. They’re certainly not top defenders that’s for sure.

    Fortunately we have some stellar attackers. I reckon we’d have won it with Lacca playing the whole game.

    Guendouzi was outstanding in midfield. Just as well as he has to do half of Xhaka’s work for him. It really makes you wonder what managers see in GX. Spooky.

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  61. andy1886 says:

    One of the BBC’s stats after the game:

    Since his Premier League debut in August 2016, no player has conceded more penalties in the competition than the five by Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka.

    And he’s not even a defender…..

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  62. Paulie Walnuts says:

    andy1886,

    I’m not surprised. He has no discipline whatsoever which makes it strange that he’s continually selected.

    Just because he’s older than our other midfield players doesn’t mean he’s more reliable. He’s like the Benjamin Button of the football world.

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  63. Woolwich Freddie says:

    I think coaches feel like they have to give senior players more rope before they can drop them for junior ones. They should get less, really.

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  64. Ferkov says:

    Despite the shithouse defending, I’ve gotta say I did enjoy watching us go at that Spuds today. They did look like they planned for the counter, but they equally looked like they weren’t enjoying it . Even they’re rotational hacking and diving didn’t quelle us. And we’ve got a few good hack artists ourselves now. Think we’ve got a decent squad. Just need to select the best ones!

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  65. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Ferkov,

    Yeah. We’re a team kind of set up for 5-3 scorelines either way. The pleasing thing is that we are creating opportunities, even against the top teams and we have players who will finish them once they’re fully up and running for the season. The state of the defense is nothing new and we will score more this season. If we can combine that with that high press, we will be something to fear but I don’t know if we’ll get there with this exact squad.

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