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. Jonnygunner says:

    ‘We need his consistency ‘………yeah right…..he’s so consistent he’s been kept out of the team for nearly every game….THAT consistency Unai? Twerp.
    Granit’s having counselling apparently- and Torreira was in tears on the touch line at the treatment of him.
    Is this the hard tackling,no nonsense midfielder?our Kante ? What have we become!

  2. Bufallo says:

    Xhaka still hasn’t apologised, it’s too late now for the boy. Club needs to take decisive action and remove him. What is Emery doing, it’s like having a black hole running the club. This talk of offering him counselling is totally laughable – he’s a naughty little boy who got a smacked bottom and didn’t like it. Let him sulk, he’s a very average footballer and clearly not captain material. What Arsenal fan wants to retain Xhaka for his football skills ?
    As for the Ozil Emery prom date flirtathon, if Ozil appears tonight more weakness from Emery. Nothing has suddenly changed except Emery now has a crisis of his own making. Time to deflect by involving Ozil ?!

  3. Bufallo says:

    What i don’t understand is why Emery hasn’t bluntly made the point that we were trying to find a winner while our captain strolled off the pitch, what on earth does he expect ? I am so bored of these Arsenal wimps that i now demand Mourinho comes in to make their life miserable

  4. Paul747 says:

    Bufallo,

    Re the last sentence – if you’re joking it’s a hilarious post . If you’re serious it’s a horrific post!

  5. Wailesy says:

    I know we’re in a bad way but no not Mourinho.

    That’s spot on yogi. Leadership starts at the top and we don’t have it.

    When spurs knocked city out of the CL semi last year, Khaldoon the chairman of the fucking club went down and spoke to the lads of what could still be achieved. They went on and completed the treble. Imagine Stan swanning around the rooms after a loss giving the boys a pep talk? Me either.

  6. Pete the Thirst says:

    Like it Bufallo

    Bufallo:

    What is Emery doing, it’s like having a black hole running the club.

  7. consolsbob says:

    Jonnygunner:
    ‘We need his consistency ‘………yeah right…..he’s so consistent he’s been kept out of the team for nearly every game….THAT consistency Unai? Twerp.
    Granit’s having counselling apparently- and Torreira was in tears on the touch line at the treatment of him.
    Is this the hard tackling,no nonsense midfielder?our Kante ? What have we become!

    “My Empire of dirt….”

  8. Pete the Thirst says:

    Didn’t Sol Campbell do ‘a Xhaka’ at the end of his career with Arsenal? He was having a poor game got subbed off and drove away from Highbury in a huff not surfacing for a week.

    Slightly different circumstances but that was the end of his time with Arsenal. That should be it for Xhaka too. Acting like a tit.

  9. jonnygunner says:

    Pete the Thirst:
    Didn’t Sol Campbell do ‘a Xhaka’ at the end of his career with Arsenal? He was having a poor game got subbed off and drove away from Highbury in a huff not surfacing for a week.

    Slightly different circumstances but that was the end of his time with Arsenal. That should be it for Xhaka too. Acting like a tit.

    I think it was against West Ham(but I could be wrong)

  10. Pete the Thirst says:

    That photo was from Stuart McFarlane the club’s official photographer. The indulgent wording he added was pathetic.

    The whole situation is becoming a joke the longer it isn’t dealt with.

    Jonnygunner:

    Torreira was in tears on the touch line at the treatment of him.

    What have we become!

  11. Pete the Thirst says:

    jonnygunner,

    West Ham, yeah I think you’re right. Can’t remember the result, as the Campbell hissy fit stood out.

  12. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Pete the Thirst,

    More like an Arse Hole right now. He’s rattled & it’s showing. The players aren’t (mostly) idiots , they know the fans are on the cusp of turning on Emery. We’ll see exactly how much they respect him with their next few performances.

    Rumour has it that the players are backing Xhaka to stay on as captain. So, it may well soon be the players versus the fans. That’s not winnable for the players. If that goes badly they’ll need to organise team counselling because playing for Arsenal is no picnic once you piss your supporters off.

  13. Bufallo says:

    paul747 i am joking, supporting Arsenal hasn’t quite sent me round the twist yet ! but part of me would love to see how the players responded to him, what a culture shock that would be for all fo them. but Allegri would do the same without the toxic end, middle and beginning. I like your last paragraph PW, team counselling for Arsenal sounds about right. If the players want Xhaka to stay on as captain, we need a vast overhaul of the playing staff, some leader they’ve picked themselves.

  14. JonJon says:

    the problem isnt ozil, nor is it xhaka.

    the problem is emery – we all know it. fans will be divided on the players but i think we are all united on the manager.

    what xhaka did was wrong and much like ozil i dont think he has a future at the club and yet i feel the urge to support him through this

    simple reason is we cant allow this situation to overshadow how inept the gaffer is. emerys the one we need to be rid of and quick. support the players and vent our frustrations on the wrong un whos in charge of this shit show

    i know i will probably be on my own with this thinking but thats ok.

  15. Buckagh says:

    Xahka is a decent squad player no more, and as such is not captain material, personally for me if he led the club to a run of good performances and results it would be forgotten, but you know he won’t

    He has become a lighting rod for the manager and his backroom teams incompetence,
    Emrey is not the coach/manager Arsenal need in either man managment or footballing requirements, he is the result of a panic appointment when Gazidis lost his nerve on Arteta,
    Europa cup wins are not elite competitions they are second tier
    His most expensively assembled team conceded more goals in Leauge Un than the previous season under a different manager, and were shambolic in the CL

    Imo both of them are done, and the sooner we move on the better

  16. C says:

    Good stuff Yogi!

    Anybody wonder if Emery heard the loud chants calling for Ozil coming from the Emirates during the match? Me and my mate were chatting and we both had a similiar thought, “maybe Emery and/or the board realized that Xhaka isn’t necessarily beloved by supporters so they have brought back Ozil (despite what most feel and think here) who still is beloved by quite a section of the supporters.” I could see Ozil having one of those ‘Ozil-esque’ performances that he produces from time to time now. With our lack of creativity, putting Willock and Torriera behind him with hard working wingers like Gabriel and potentially Saka or Pepe would do the leg work that Ozil needs.

    As far as Xhaka, I rate him but not in the PL. The other thing is, he is the Swiss national team captain and I’m sure he has heard and been given worst treatment.

  17. C says:

    I also think Xhaka was having a go at Emery too as this was not the 1st time he has been subbed off for performance at half-time or right after.

  18. kelsey says:

    jonnygunner,

    That was against West Ham and he flew that night to Marbella re Max Clifford who he retained to stop an unsavoury story appearing in the press the next day.

  19. Buckagh says:

    C,

    Subbing the captain on performance and replacing him with a rookie is a kick in the bollocks.
    Whats happened to Xahka is on Emrey its been on the cards for a while but Emrey couldn’t see it or chose to ignore it he is not up to managing Arsenal.
    More troubling in general is Edu & Co don’t seem to have a plan and we’re going to drift further into mediocrity

  20. andy1886 says:

    Ras,

    Probably just a Portuguese fishing expedition. Like when AW left the club he was linked (usually one of their cronies briefing journo’s) with several high profile jobs but no-one was daft enough to go there. Hopefully we’re not that daft either despite evidence to the contrary.

  21. andy1886 says:

    Buckagh,

    I agree that what we needed was a strong character to come in and sort out what was often referred to as the ‘Colney Creche’ and Emery isn’t that type of coach. But Xhaka acting like a child having a tantrum is down to the player regardless of when he’s subbed off (which he wouldn’t have been of he was actually performing well) or who takes his place.

  22. thrillbo says:

    Not hoping for much today honestly. However we get to see a couple youngins. We know that martinelli will give his all. It’s refreshing to see players sprinting about and playing without fear. I recall a few plays in last weeks’ Europa. Martinelli picks up the ball and goes full speed ahead at the defenders. He knows he can attack and if the defender even touches him, easy foul call.

    Not confident in a win but hopeful some of the boys will actually put up a good fight. Good chatter today everyone, thanks for the thoughts I enjoy reading the opinion of everyone here! Cheers.

  23. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Ras,

    Maureen was spotted at one of our games recently. It wouldn’t mean anything if we were playing OK but speculation will continue unless we start to improve performances consistently.

    Just imagine Arsene’s thoughts if he became our manager.

    Stranger things …..

  24. Ras says:

    andy1886,

    You could well be right and there is nothing to it.

    As in the same way I could foresee that Rlry was never going to work , I gave this hunch that is totally irrational that The Portuguese Man of War is itching to get involved.
    Will it happen ? Unlikely however stranger things have happened

  25. C says:

    Buckagh,

    It might be a kick in the bollocks but as captain, being subbed in back to back matches for performance, that’s on the player. Sure Emery could be doing things differently, but Xhaka has to take as much responsibility as any other. What happened to Xhaka is also on Xhaka, you don’t walk off the pitch when your team has a chance to win especially as club captain nor do you have a good at the supporters and what followed.

    I’ll say this, Raul and Edu seem like thinkers to me who both are futbol men. They may seriously have a plan and see things behind closed doors that we as supporters will never see or know about. The other thing is, we aren’t going to win the title this season and despite how shit we are, we are 4 points off of 4th and face Wolves and Leicester in the next 2 weeks. If getting 4th is the goal, I bet that as long as we stay in the hunt or into 4th Emery will last until summer. That will have given Edu a full season look at both the squad and Emery.

  26. consolsbob says:

    JonJon,

    I am not a huge Xhaka fan but he is a decent player and might be useful under a better manager. I can’t ‘support him through this’ because his behaviour was ridiculous and pathetic in a professional. Where else can you tell your customers to ‘fuck off’ and not be sacked?

    However, yes, the problem is Emery and his supine superiors. They are making us a laughing stock.

  27. Spike says:

    The only difference in terms of line up for me, is Saka instead of Laca.

  28. Blue Yonder says:

    Pete the Thirst,

    “That should be it for Xhaka too. Acting like a tit.”

    Except that a tit is useful but Xhaka isn’t. Also goes to the point about a female manager.

  29. C says:

    Spike,

    If it wasn’t Liverpool and if this wasn’t a competition we could win, I would agree…..but having Lacazette and Gabriel for me gives you 2 players whi are legitimate goal scorers. I would take Saka over Smith-Rowe though.

  30. Spike says:

    C,

    I’m just worried about Laca overdoing it and getting injured.

  31. Blue Yonder says:

    So, there needs to be a new manager and a new captain and a new spirit and greater determination. And, “Come home, Mesut: all is forgiven”.
    And if Ozil under-performs tonight, it will be because he hasn’t played and we need to give him time.
    Things are going horribly wrong.

  32. Blue Yonder says:

    If Bellerin, Holding and Lacazette play tonight, then they won’t play on Saturday against Wolves. Or might play but won’t start. Is that what we want?

  33. C says:

    Spike,

    Would rather him here and get say 70 mins then bring him on as a sub.

  34. C says:

    Blue Yonder,

    Bellerin and Holding need matches, they start and play tonight and if Aubameyang doesn’t travel, then Lacazette starts to get him match time. All 3 can e subbed off.

  35. C says:

    Team news:

    Martinez
    Bellerin—Mustafi—-Holding—Sead
    Willock—-Torriera—Ozil
    Maitland-Niles—–Gabriel—Saka

  36. C says:

    Subs: Macey, Sokaritis, Tierney, Guendouzi, Ceballos, Pepe, Lacazette

  37. Spike says:

    C,

    Torreira gets a game! Probably in goal knowing Emery!

  38. Bufallo says:

    He is back! but can he manage a bang, should be fun seeing him trying to provide for Martinelli…oh wait it’s Liverpool and they’ve got a half decent side playing. Feels cute from Emery, good distraction technique from captain calamity, gives some of the crowd and apparently players what they’ve been calling for and against a side who play with an intensity he could stumble against. Interesting evening ahead.

  39. consolsbob says:

    Blue Yonder,

    Pete, the tit referred too is the rather flighty small bird. Not part of a woman’s brest!

  40. Bufallo says:

    alan smith slaying mustafi hahah

  41. thrillbo says:

    James Milner at left back. No left foot, no pace, might be something for us to take advantage of?

  42. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Xhaka’s mate Mustafi taking the heat for him.

  43. Noon Gunner says:

    We’re sufficiently nervy now (Mustafi x 100) and getting so little time on the ball, I’m seeing a multi-goal loss…but we are only 12 minutes in…

  44. C says:

    Maitland-Niles continues ro drop off and not connect passes…

  45. andy1886 says:

    One thing I will say for Mustafi is that he’s taken far more stick than Xhaka ever has but has never seen fit to act like a complete bell end….

  46. C says:

    1-1, thats good work from Ozil to Saka(who should have scored) but Torriera gets the rebound!

  47. Noon Gunner says:

    That was a beautifully crafted team goal!

  48. C says:

    andy1886,

    Lets be honest, there have been a numbee of others who have taken FAR more stick.

  49. Noon Gunner says:

    Well, well, well!!! Torreira and AMN involved in both goals so far.

  50. C says:

    Gabriel!!!!!!! From some quick thinking there by Torriera. The 1st ball was shit by Maitland-Niles but the 2nd forcdd a save and Gabriel does what Gabriel does!

  51. Bufallo says:

    What an impressive comeback so far….

  52. Noon Gunner says:

    Gabriel is unbelievably quick to accelerate into the tackle. Gegen-pressing with afterburners.

  53. C says:

    That boy just can’t stop scoring!!!!!!

    Look at who was pressing and won the ball back….quick little slick to Saka who squares it and BANG!! 3-1

  54. C says:

    7 goals in 4 starts, who cares the opponent when your 18 years old

  55. C says:

    Gabriel with a challenge but looked very much like a dive.

  56. Noon Gunner says:

    Liverpool have an OG from Mustafi and a very marginal penalty. We have three delicious goals from open play, even though two of them would probably be offside in VAR-land.

  57. Noon Gunner says:

    Nice to see Mesut back enjoying his football – getting involved all over the pitch. Torreira, and to an extent Willock, are giving us so much space to play into in the final third. And with the speed Saka and Martinelli apply, we’re making hay.

  58. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Interesting ,entertaining half & sooo much better without VAR. Bellerin got away with a handball but their pen looked like a dive. You can have any combination of those decisions depending on who you ask, but the flow of the game has been great because their was no pratting about.

    Martinelli certainly looks a player, Ozil strutting his stuff & the other lads looking good on the ball.

    Looking forward to more of the same

  59. C says:

    Saka’s decision making is something that will continue to develop but itnis something that could have led to a few more chances created by playing others in instead of a shot from distance.

  60. Noon Gunner says:

    Wow! That most rare and precious of things: an Ozil assist!! So glad for AMN, whose confidence seems fully restored.

  61. C says:

    Milner with a poor pass and Maitland-Niles pounces but what a brilliant little pass to save it and put it on a platter for Maitland-Niles.

    I have actually enjoyed watching our Cup sides more than our PL sides and its largely down to the midfield selections.

  62. Noon Gunner says:

    AMN too casual there and the Ox punishes us.

  63. Spike says:

    C,

    Gabby will get his hat trick to restore the 2 goal cushion!!

  64. Noon Gunner says:

    This game is so bloody open! We’ve just got to stay focused and trust we can score more.

  65. C says:

    Origi just undressed Holding for that one.

    Bring on Lacazette for Maitland-Niles.

  66. C says:

    Guendouzi for Ozil….WHY, WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY. Willock is sitting on a yellow and Ozil is dictating.

  67. Noon Gunner says:

    I hope Martinelli isn’t trying too hard for the hat-trick. That was a brilliant manoeuvre by AMN and Hector to set him up.

  68. C says:

    It makes ZERO sense to take off Ozil unless he is starting at the weekend and even then it makes no sense.

    Gabriel could have had his hat-trick there.

  69. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Ozil’s best performance for yonks & Emery drags him off.

  70. Noon Gunner says:

    C,

    Agreed, C. Completely baffling.

  71. Spike says:

    C,

    Coz he is a stubborn, spiteful, clueless twat???

  72. Noon Gunner says:

    JO WILLOCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Phenomenal strike!!

  73. Bufallo says:

    this is the most outrageous game and what a goal from willock
    take a bow son

  74. C says:

    Willock said, “Ox you have a screamer I’ll raise you one in QUALITY!”

    What a fucking goal that was!

  75. Noon Gunner says:

    C,

    Might he be keeping him a bit fresh for Saturday??

    What? Now we lose Torrieira…

  76. C says:

    Leave Torriera on unless he is starting on the weekend.

  77. phil says:

    Lucky he didn’t take Willock off C!

  78. Noon Gunner says:

    C,

    And a bunch of these youngsters, too! And Mustafi has actully defended really well since his OG.

  79. C says:

    Noon Gunner,

    Don’t wanna hear Arsenal played senior players and Liverpool didn’t because last I checked they started Ox, Keita, Milner, Origi and Gomez who all are internationals and all played a key role in Liverpool winning the CL last season.

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