False Positives 0-0 Arsenal

No time

Incredibly proud of the way we played when we went down to 10 men, sporting my colors today

Saka is turning into a star player for Arsenal, teams are double and triple teaming him but he still wants the ball

Lacazette was so crucial for our defensive efforts – his work and organization on the pitch was key to the “win”

Arteta got the subs right and the tactical shift right, kudos

Now, if only Arteta could find a way to get the starting lineups right and by “right” I mean “find a way to take Granit Xhaka, stick him in a cannon, and shoot him into the moon”

Seriously though, we need a reliable starting midfielder, I’m so tired of saying this

Arsenal got lucky when Minamino missed

Spare a good laugh for the fact that Liverpool have to play the 2nd leg at Highbury because they had a bunch of “false positives” and chose to ask for the first leg to be postponed

Very nervous for the North London Derby with all the players we have out for COVID, injury, AFCON, and red cards



  1. That was a great team effort. Got a little lucky with the miss at the end, but then we got unlucky at City, so maybe it evens out.
    As for Xhaka, this wasn’t one of his worse reds. It wasn’t particularly dangerous or petty. White might have been able to help cover, but if Pool scores there, it certainly might have been a case of the floodgates opening, even without Salah or Mane. That said, we can’t have a key player getting this many reds and I don’t think it will change with him,

    As for Sunday’s match, we’ve applied for a postponement. Son is out for Spurs, and he’s been a big problem for us in the past. So there’s an argument to be made that if Tomi, ESR, Saka and Chambers are fully fit, we should just play it. But if most of those are walking wounded, then we’re probably better off with a postponement, particularly to have a healthy team for the return against Pool. Whether we’ll get the postponement is a whole other question.

    1. The only case I would make for a red card being good is if it’s in the dying minutes of a game and actually saves a goal.

      Xhaka didn’t do that. Instead his mistake meant that Arsenal played 60+ minutes a man down, against one of the three best teams in Europe, three days before a North London Derby, with half the team out with injury, AFCON, or COVID. And it means that he misses the next two games, further depleting an already incredibly depleted squad.

      There is no world in which what Xhaka did was even remotely the right choice. Don’t dive in. Just fucking follow the man and make the shot as difficult as possible.

      1. I love the fact that he glanced back at Jota twice while ‘tracking’ him and *still* lost him. Hopeless.

  2. Highbury 🙂

    Feeling nostalgic, are we?

    Spot on. Key points made.

    Like I said on previous thread, I feel kind of sorry for Granit this time. He’s not the man you want running to the rescue when your left sided CB is OOP and has left a big gaping hole for the striker to run into. We got unpicked by one simple ball over the top. Like Kovacic did to us in the league earlier in the season.

    That said, once Xhaka went, we saw the best of this Arsenal team. The the tactical switch by Arteta was brilliant. And the guys made us proud.

    I did warn a month ago though that we may be flogging Saka too hard. We needed him more than ever yesterday without Emile and Pepe to take some minutes off him as a sub, but we have to be careful that we dont break him (remember that time under Wenger when red zone talk was in vogue?).

    Spurs have had an extra day to rest, plus this game may have taken too much out of us. The fellas could barely walk on 80 minutes. How we play after the hour mark on Sunday will be illustrative. I’d have expected us to win 2 weeks ago; I’ll take a draw now. But hey, an NLD is its own motivator.

    1. I’m tired of calling it “the Emirates” and “the Grove” reminds me of “le grove”.

      1. Hahaha please don’t ban me for revealing this but I’ve followed you, Arseblog and Le Grove almost exclusively for years to get a good balance.

        Le Grove’s writing and outlook has improved massively in the last few years you may be surprised.

        1. FOHOD
          I must be reading a different Le-Grove then. I used to be a regular there but now only check it occasionally to see if it actually “improved”. Well, it’s gotten worse, IMHO. Pedro’s love for Arteta knows no boundaries and it’s quite nauseating, actually. He’s also quite shameless in blocking posts, and banning people. Some (myself included) have even caught him in editing other people’s posts which is downright pathetic and embarrassing.

          1. They were also huge fans of ‘Don Raul’ if I recall.

            Look, the site was started by a guy who loathed Arsene Wenger and he’s now somehow weaseled his way back into some kind of good graces. I met him in person, he’s unpleasant to say the least.

          2. Lol ok maybe I’m a bit naive but I remember him being so negative about Wenger it was almost toxic but now he seems to be more honest and more balanced, however that could be just me reading his ott love for Arteta as ‘positive vibes’ and soaking it all in.

  3. I guess we don’t have to ask Arseblog’s ITWGX question because it actually was Granit Xhaka and it was of course a nailed on penalty. He tried, he really did, but he is so not the guy you want tracking back to try and stop a breakaway. Trolley dash for a CM? There few options if any out there.

    I think many of us are nervous about the NLD but if we can get one or two players back, it’s as good a time to play Sp$#$ as any because they really are shite right now.

  4. The argument that Xhaka got a ‘good red’ is hilariously awful, especially under the circumstances we find ourselves in.

    Has our fanbase been so immunised to Xhaka’s stupidity ?

    1. Well, I just see some of this as “hardcore fans” and also some people honestly disagree that it should have been a red card. There are also a few people who will back Xhaka no matter what, that happens in every sport. So, it’s a mix of folks.

      1. It’s only a ‘good red’ – and even then that’s a huge maybe – in hindsight after the final whistle. Ask 100 people in that moment if they’d rather a red or a goal and we’d all say a goal. The fact that it played out that way, and that we focused on D as a result, is entirely fortunate. So it’s only potentially, possibly a ‘good red’ in hindsight, and that’s no good (and i’m one of the ones who said maybe it was a ‘good red’, a little tongue in cheek).

        There is definitely an argument that good reds exist! Stopping a sure goal late in the game, for example. This doesn’t really fall into that category by that definition though.

  5. Nice write up. May be we should have an X-man exorcism? Let everyone get their thoughts off their chest and then ban his name from ever being mentioned.

    These postponements are a bit nonsensical. It seems the EPL rule about submitted first team squads is the limiter. Every club has an academy and upwards of 40 players. If they flexed the rule to let managers dip into the entire player pool the schedule could be fulfilled and a few more youngsters would get opportunities.

  6. Im seeing very few mentions of Calum Chambers. Virtually started the game, wasnt expected to, and defensively, gave nothing away. I’d much prefer him to be the next taxi on the rank after Tomi. He’s not as good a player going forward, overlapping and joining the attack as Cedric, and his crossing this game (when he did get a a chance to do so) was woeful, but he’s much more solid defensively. I prefer that. Everyone put in a shift, but White, Laca and Saka (for creating credible threat out of that situation) stood out. Amusing moment of the match was Allisson taking a touchline throw-in, with every Arsenal player in his own half.

    1. you’ve got to respect the fact that arteta has given this guy no minutes and he’s being thrown in…and against liverpool of all teams. under those circumstances, i thought he was very good.

  7. I was actually going to turn the game off after Xhaka’s yet another brain fart. Frankly, I was absolutely disgusted. I know “hate” is a very strong word/feeling but I hate that guy with a passion for sabotaging our games like that on a weekly basis. And, if it’s even possible, I hate Arteta more than I despise Xhaka. One should’ve been sold years ago, and the other shouldn’t have been allowed to manage our club, and learn on the job so to speak in the first place. But that’s a separate discussion… So I decided to toughen it out in the end, and continued watching the game. To my surprise, not only we didn’t take a beating but we actually gave Pool a run for their money. If anything, we seemed to played better with a man down (though one might argue that when Xhaka is on the pitch, we always play with a man down). Having said that, we were extremely lucky… One, Pool were without two of their best players in Salah and Mane. Two, Minamino’s missed sitter. Three, on any other given day we’re not getting away with that Ramsdale performance yesterday. All that aside, I thought Saka, Chambers, and Lacazette were excellent, and White finally had a decent game as well. The best part, however, was watching Klopp’s facial expressions, especially at the end of the game. With the second leg being played at the Emirates, AND with Xhaka missing out due to his own stupidity, I actually fancy our chances.

    1. Klopp’s BS excuses after the game were some of the naffest comments I’ve ever heard a manager say. If he was our manager I’d love him but he really is a d1ck at times (Ha!)

    2. They were without Salah and Mane and Thiago. Full stop. We were without Partey, ESR, Odegaard and Tomiyasu. I’ll grant you neither of our four are the current World’s Best Striker, but it’s not like we were at full strength either.

      I’m not a fan of the qualifiers. Ramsdale’s attitude was an important part of how we performed. I don’t think we get that resilience with Leno.

      … and again, more Arteta hate.

      1. There’s this thing you do about reducing criticism of the club to irrational hatred of the manager, Jack. You got dinged already for your “you havent watch the game” schtick. How about you engage the man’s actual arguments? Ramsdale has been absolutely superb for us, but he was shaky in parts yesterday. Both of those things can be true together. UG did not say that Leno would have been better, or Ramsdale shouldnt have played.

        And btw, Upstate Gooner, I thought Arteta had a great game tactically after the red; and that (1) Xhaka was unlucky (2) he got sold short by Gabriel, who should have been tracking the run of Jota. We can argue till the cows come home whose absences were key-er. Liverpool’s arguably were, but it’s a squad game innit?

  8. BBC are reporting Auba is out of tournament after diagnosis of heart lesions. Very unusual in a young athlete. Unclear whether it’s related to Co-vid infection. Sure there will be more info to follow.

  9. Just awful news about Auba. Potential heart trouble is a known complication of SARS Covid-2. Fingers crossed for him…

  10. Arsenal’s postponement request won’t succeed, and it shouldn’t. We are not Covid decimated. Besides Ode, is there anyone else? Im not sure there is.

    We have been hit by injuries, we have absences of 3 first-teamers at the Africa Cup of Nations, we have a key suspension, and we have a self-created shortage of midfielders. We have 3 midfield players — all who have been internationals for their countries’ senior teams — out on loan.

    We seem to have operated on a pie-in-the-sky basis on re-filling key positions in the squad. That’s on us. Yes, Liverpool gamed the system with that convenient “false positives” postponement. Doesnt mean that we should ourselves make frivolous requests.

  11. Re: NLD Postponement Request

    What I’d like to be going on is Arsenal saw and felt the injustice what Liverpool got away with, and are purposely testing the rule. Either it’s denied, and it’s another galvanizing moment (and we get a result anyway?). Or it succeeds (and then Arsenal is like “What? Seriously? That would totally be taking unfair advantage of special accommodations made in light of a pandemic, to let us play football, and try to bring a little joy to our fans in this dark times. You think we’d abuse that awesome privilege because we failed to (1) plan for AFCON, (2) keep more players happy, (3) let go of bad habits? Thanks but no thanks. We go this Sunday, ride or die. Bring it.” – yeah, right)

    OK. Cynic cap back on. Enos Jr. is just pissed his advisors didn’t think of it before Liverpool did.

  12. Postponed.
    And hope Auba is OK. Regardless of whether he’s been playing well for us or not, I’d hate to see his career cut short.

    1. I got that wrong. Didnt see that. Of course as a gooner I welcome the needed R&R and the fact that it ease our NLD disadvantage, but I didn’t think that we had a good case for one. Nor did Liverpool, for that matter. I can be an avid gooner and feel this way, by the way. Moreover, I fear that the FA is opening a can of worms here. There will now be a flood of such requests, some of which we’re not going to be happy with. But hey. We liked the Wolves postponement just before the new year that gave us fresh legs to run at City… the Liverpool one not so much. Perhaps they’lll even out. But there’ll be more, and more fixture pileup asa result.

    2. The only reason Xhaka is still at Arsenal is because the standards are fallen dramatically. Tell me any top club who would have tolerated his stupidity for over 5 years. I watched the city Chelsea game and you see how top midfielders play, dynamic, physical and can hold their own in 1v1 situations. Xhaka is a liability and really we should have a way to not have him starting so many games for us.

  13. I have backed Xhaka for a long time given the fact that our passing never ticks without him. With current developments – our passing has become better due to technical players coming into the squad and Xhaka getting 2 stupid red cards in a season – I no longer back him. His negatives now outweigh the positives. I would be very surprised if Arsenal do not sigh a first choice midfielder before next season. I also hope that Arteta can bring back Guendouzi back into the fold. He is young and free and would definitely challenge the starting 11. Same for Saliba.

    I still see Arsenal missing out on top 4 for this season but if the team continues developing like the way they are next season could be the one to get us there. We will need a series of good decisions and luck to get back to a great squad. Hopefully we can build on this season and not take 1 step back by over complicating things.

  14. We’ve fulfilled all of our fixtures until now, when so many clubs haven’t done. What is irksome to say the least, is that there are few real rules beyond the minimum number of players to field a side.

    “It’s only a flesh wound!”

    Make the official request to postpone and then the cards fall as they may according to the whims of the league.

  15. I’m reading Muhammed Ali’s excellent autobiography, edited by none other than Toni Morrison, and I’m thinking we could use a bit of that swagger, a bit of that attitude:

    “I done wrestled with an alligator,
    I done tussled with a whale;
    handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail;
    only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalised a brick;
    I’m so mean I make medicine sick.”

  16. I wonder whether all of you Xhaka haters have taken into account the fact that he has barely recovered from Covid and was thrust into this important game when it is likely that we was not really fit.

    I dare say, when a player is out for illness, especially one that can be so debilitating it would take any player some time to get back to previous sharpness.

    Was his “offence” not so much malicious but ill-times, after he was left in the lurch by the professional defenders.

    Would the same people who hold up their hands in morrow at Xhaka’s 2 red cards this season, have done the same with Vieira’s multiple ones?

    1. “Would the same people who hold up their hands in morrow at Xhaka’s 2 red cards this season, have done the same with Vieira’s multiple ones?”

      No. Because Xhaka is no Vieira.

      Xhaka has 5 red cards in 171 appearances. Vieira had 8 red cards in 307 appearances. Vieira is an Arsenal legend and an Invincible and one of the greatest players to grace the Premier League. Xhaka is…Xhaka – and a mere journeyman in comparison.

  17. PRVHC.

    If you mean looking at the truth, then perhaps, yes.

    So, because, he is a “legend” whatever that means in this context, although a legend is defined as a traditional story sometimes popularly regarded as historical but not authenticated, everything he did was perfect?

    I wonder whether even he would say that.

    1. “….a legend is defined as a traditional story sometimes popularly regarded as historical”


      If that is your measure, then yes, let’s apply the term to Granit as well. I’m sure there are lots of historical figures with whom we can draw parallels to this clodhopper of a footballer 🙂

      But hey, repeat… he got sold short on that red card incident, and hiss solely carrying the can for it seems unfair to me.

    2. I don’t think your definition of legend applies when talking about people 😂

      Anyway, if you can’t see why Xhaka can’t be compared to Vieira simply because they both got red cards ( hint : that is not Xhaka’s only problem) , there’s no point continuing the conversation.

  18. Anyone can be compared to anyone. Xhaka is no Vieira. I also take the point that when things have already got so legendary, maybe even Vieira is no Vieira.

    I don’t see Xhaka as the inevitable bonehead liability that others do. For 3 seasons from 2017 to 2020 he didn’t get a single red. There’s a reason why he ends up getting them and it’s do to with the way he’s managed and coached, with the level of responsibility he has to take, and how players around him are playing. That’s not to let him off the hook, he boils over and tries too hard, he gets lured into stupid challenges all the time and his record is a lot worse than similar players his age and position.

    Meanwhile his distribution is top-tier and while he’s solid in other areas that’s about it, I think managers have asked him to do everything rather than play him to his strengths and he unfairly ends up carrying the can for a lot of team shortcomings.

    It’s a good thing I think that we are approaching the point where instead of his leadership and distribution holding us together, his limitations are starting to hold us back. Either he raises his game now, or else I’m looking forward either to Lokonga developing or a world class player coming in.

  19. I agree with SLCGooner, that wasn’t the worst red Xhaka has ever picked up based on the severity of the tackle. His foot was high but he was legitimately trying to cut out the pass, IMHO. Of course it was a “bad red” from a team perspective, but Xhaka has a target on his back as far as referees are concerned (his only similarity with Vieira, JJGSOL). What I don’t understand is why Arteta continues to use him as a DM when the “D” part of his game is so fragile. When he plays further up the pitch he still contributes with sharp insightful passing and being available for possession passes, without getting caught in critical defensive errors. With White and Gabriel offering more ball advancement options from the back, losing his long passing capability is a sacrifice worth making. For those who never want to see him in an Arsenal shirt again, at least consider the possibility that maybe we’ve played him out of position for most of his career with us. And that’s on the management.

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