Liverpool Preview & Final Xhakagate Thoughts

Cup football comes to Unai Emery’s rescue in the shape of this evening’s trip to Liverpool. It gives him a 24-hour respite from questions about Granit Xhaka, at the very least.

The club has yet to make a statement of note about Sunday. Granit is sorry but not enough to apologise. He’s probably sitting at home waiting for fans to say sorry first.

Arsenal has not fined him. That’s the presumption as no mention of disciplinary action was made in yesterday’s press conference.

He hasn’t been stripped of the captaincy because Emery evaded the question as usual. “I don’t want to speak about that” suggests it is very far from his mind.

And to some extent, it is a decision he should not be making. In the ‘good old days’, this was the manager’s remit. However, we don’t want managers any more; we want coaches. In that case, discipline falls to the director of football.

In many respects, Edu and Raul stepping in saves Emery’s bacon, certainly with the squad. His stance in that situation is “It is not my decision, the management of the club decided” is his stance. There will be criticism, for sure, but he’s getting hit with that anyway. Why pour petrol on a fire?

Once again, the leadership at Arsenal is distinctly noticeable by its’ absence.

Maybe it is rose-tinted glasses but in the days before Kroenke, we always seemed quicker to act. Certainly when Hill-Wood, Dein and co were around and long before the invertebrates took hold in the boardroom.

Is it the ownership of Enos and Junior, a malign influence or is it a lack of incentive to do anything by Raul or Edu? Let Emery hang himself in trying to sort out this mess.

Out of the Frying Pan…

As if his problems with Xhaka weren’t enough, Unai is hell-bent on making another one. Mesut Ozil returns to the squad this evening and most likely starts. In that case, he is surely captain being one of the original quintet.

Emery spoke to him this morning and for once the conversation wasn’t “Don’t bother turning up; you’re not playing.” This time, it was more positive. Unai waffled a lot and then got down to the nub of the matter:

We need his quality, his skill and his consistency. We need his positive mentality and then he will help us on the pitch. That’s the next step. I think he’s done the steps before, and now I want the steps like in pre-season and one month ago to help us on the pitch.

Unai on his best mate, Mesut.

Based on what we’ve seen in his two appearances so far, there’s a lot of wishful thinking involved. However, I’m all for redemptive evenings in this competition. Julio ‘The Beast’ Baptista had been a puddy-tat for the most part prior to his explosive Carling Cup night at Anfield.

Can Ozil do something similar? Not score four, obviously – although I am open to the notion – but wreaking mayhem and havoc? Why not?

The match is recognised as important for Arsenal by Unai. “It’s an opportunity for us to recover confidence,” he said before adding almost in lament, “and our way.”

It’s a tall order given how poorly we played for most of the matches since the last international break. Maybe Vitoria is the wake-up call most of tonight’s XI needed?

We need a vast improvement on the performance. Liverpool will likely field a second-string side and I do think our ‘stiffs’ stand par with most other Premier League clubs similar XIs.

Our Survey Says

The rest of the line-up almost picks itself with the only question whether Alexandre Lacazette starts or comes from the bench. It might seem ludicrous to think he might be in the XI but this is a coach who played Aubameyang in Frankfurt.

Which leaves the line-up:

Martinez; Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Kolasinac; Torreira, Willock; Smith Rowe, Ozil, Martinelli; Laczette

It is going to be an interesting match and more than anything, one where I hope we aren’t left rueing another Arsenal team which didn’t turn up.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

‘til Tomorrow.

140 thoughts on “Liverpool Preview & Final Xhakagate Thoughts

  1. Ras says:

    Really Impressed by Martinelli and Saka.

    I have no particular worries about Martinelli and the physicality he is put under.

    Having grounded in Brazil he’s already been exposed to the rigueur of defenders. He’s of that body type whom can cope with it.

    I don’t understand Emery’s thinking taking Ozil off.

  2. Spike says:


    Yep, we’ve played more 2nd string than them

  3. Noon Gunner says:

    I’m beyond clenching – that is bloody outrageous! Brilliant volley by Origi, to be fair. Yuck!!!

  4. Bufallo says:

    great news we get more of this game,
    extra time !

  5. Bufallo says:

    WTF what a con !
    Oh well penalties are always interesting.

  6. C says:

    Guendouzi is shouting at Mustafi and Holding but he is the one who missed thr header that would have cleared the ball.

  7. Noon Gunner says:

    I quietly rate Emmi Martinez to save a pen or two…there…shouldn’t have said that but I did…

  8. consolsbob says:

    Mustafi. Just when you thought better of him.

    Where was the challenge?

  9. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Would have been more surprised if we’d hung on.

    Same old , same old regardless of players or manager.

  10. C says:


    To be fair, both Mustafi and Holding are standing there but how on earth did Guendouzi miss that header to clear it.

  11. andy1886 says:

    Crazy game. Would be nice if we could actually defend but a fantastic watch for any neutrals.

  12. Noon Gunner says:


  13. Bufallo says:

    oh well wonderful game, shambolic defending, good to see Ozil, predictable result, this isn’t good for Emery. Ozil comes back and plays well. Team play better without the captain. No real surprises then.

  14. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Great game to watch. Hopefully the young players can learn from it. I fear it’s too late for the older players to learn but there’s a lot of talent at the club …we just need someone to harness it.

  15. Bufallo says:

    look at klopp, now there’s a manager.
    good ebening.

  16. Spike says:

    Noon Gunner,

    As soon as they equalised it was all over.

    Ah well. Back to the turgid insipid drab bread n butter football it is!!

  17. consolsbob says:

    Would a bit of joy have been too much for us after all the long drawn out misery of the past few years?


  18. Spike says:


    Wed only have drawn Man City away in the next round! Better to get it out the way now and concentrate on fucking up making it into the top 4!!

  19. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Well. Who could have predicted that outcome? (Who hadn’t seen an Arsenal game in the last fifteen years, I mean).

  20. Noon Gunner says:


    My sense is that serious results-driven joy is premature for this team. We’re still forming, norming and storming – we’ll get to performing soon, and with some of what was on display in this and some other cup games this season, our cup may again overflow.

  21. Bill says:

    Fun game to watch. Unfortunate result. Cup games including the league cup have given us some of the most exciting moments and the most fun of any games in the entire Emirates era. Starting with the Carling cup in 05-10 and the FA cup wins in the second half of Arsene’s reign and now the Carabao cup and the Europa league group games.

  22. Bill says:

    I think the notion that Torriera, Holding and Bellerin will somehow improve and solidify our defense is probably not accurate

  23. nicky says:


    How can you say that. When it came to penalties, the result was still very much a lottery.

  24. Spike says:


    Because I knew we wouldn’t win the shoot out, obviously!! 🙂

  25. Papa Bear says:

    The booing should be aimed more directly to Emery. He is a coward by avoiding and let the decisions made by others (his players & the board).

    He made Xhaka as his shield to cover his weaknesses and obvously cover his ass. I am tired and running out of patience of his ineptitude and just let Freddie take over as interim coach cause what are we gonna lose anyway? With this mess Emery created himself, I don’t think he can get the top 4 if he still continues until end of the season. See Leicester and Chelsea have found stability and Man Utd may find their rhythm again. And what that leave us with continuing with this unconvincing and confused Emery?

    That’s why rather take the risk with Freddie, at least he will develop and nurture the youngsters for sure to be a good foundation next season for the more established future head coach thaat we can get. Hopefully.

  26. Buckagh says:


    I meant to reply yesterday but papa bear has made point for me today.

  27. Buckagh says:

    It’s disappointing that a 5 goal away performance ends in a lost.

    With the right manager there is huge potential at the club

  28. Bill says:


    We have heard the exact same idea of huge potential after watching league cup games for 15 years.. The league cup teams have given us some of the most exciting games every season since the start of the original project youth era but the one thing that 15 years has taught us is the league cup games overestimate the potential of the players and teams. Teams take a different mental approach into games like yesterday compared to the way they approach league games. Liverpool is arguably the best defensive team in the league but yesterday they were disorganized and looked more like Arsenal and I think that happens because they approach league cup games with a completely different mindset then regular games. Defensive organization was an unused option and just like in the u21 games we heavily overrate the attacking players because it’s much easier to look good when the opponent is not playing defense. I am willing to bet that the Liverpool blogs are just as excited about their players because everyone looks good in a game like yesterday. Unfortunately the 15 years have taught us that those type of performances and the players never replicate anything like that in league games when they go against teams an players who are prioritizing defensive solidarity

  29. Spike says:

    Papa Bear,

    And finally after four days Xhaka makes a mealy mouthed statement, blaming fans for his reaction.

    And still no apology or any signs he is being dropped.


  30. Buckagh says:


    Yeah Bill
    I agree with most of that
    But being a football fan you know it’s the hope that gets you

  31. C says:


    If posting and reading for the past 7+ years or so have taught us all…Bill doesn’t hope nor know what that is when it comes to futbol. He lives in the bizzaro world and thinks the goal scored and number of goals scored by Messi, Ronaldo are what players should be producing not realizing that there is a massive difference between one of best of all time and even world class.

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