Wenger’s legacy is fundamental. Free flowing, attacking football by a club with integrity and class.

Xhaka, Ozil and Liverpool

So the fallout from the Palace game continues into this week. Strangely enough, the result and the quality of football has been almost out of the narrative, which just may be how the club hierarchy like it. Xhaka left holding the can might be inconvenient to them but is also a welcome distraction.

The League Cup isn’t the most important of trophies, and so the next game offers the club an opportunity to get Xhaka out of the firing line. But of course the need for scapegoats continues and it’s been indicated by our Head coach and Mesut Ozil will be involved. He might even start. Not just that, he could also be captain.

For or against Xhaka

A lot has been spoken on captaincy and what it means in the wake of Xhaka’s outburst towards the ironic cheers and outright boos of the crowd. I can understand the people who think this is not a great way to behave. But I don’t get how someone cannot at least understand why Xhaka did what he did nor stand by him. It was obviously a combination of factors over time which led us here.

However, it is the most sanctimonious takeaways that annoy me. The ‘fans’ become unimpeachable beacons of morality and righteousness. These same fans will share messages about the importance of mental health, but will ask Xhaka to ‘man up’ when he doesn’t take his humiliation lying down.

However, all the amateur pontificating on leadership doesn’t change the fact that apparently Xhaka retains the support of the team to remain as captain. If nothing else, it is a show of unity by the team, setting an example for the fans and especially to the coach and upper management.

There has been no official statement on Xhaka yet. He’s changed his social media profile picture to one in his Swiss team shirt, whose federation has made a statement to say Xhaka’s standing with them remains unchanged. I would love to see a rapprochement sometime in the future between Xhaka and the Arsenal fans, but I really think it’s more likely he leaves, especially if Emery continues to be the coach. Emery’s contributions to this situation are clear. The way we play, the way he made a farce of the captaincy decision and the way he hooked Xhaka off in the 60th minute and made him a target.

Ring rusty Ozil

I wonder if Ozil is to be made a target against Liverpool. At this point in Emery’s tenure, we’re at the stage where politicking seems to be given more consideration than it deserves. Putting a ring rusty Mesut Ozil in against Liverpool seems calculated.

Football wise, we now know how Emery plays.

  • Vacate the middle,
  • Attack from the wide areas,
  • Defenders stay deep,
  • Midfield isolated from both attack and defense.

Even if Liverpool plays its youngsters, our team is likely to have some rotation as well. Despite changes from Palace I have a feeling not many of the kids will play. Emery will fear a heavy loss will reflect poorly on him so he will select some of his best players.

With Ozil, if he plays well, at least there’s a chance we win. If he doesn’t play well in this system, against this opposition and with lack of match fitness, Emery will say ‘he knows what I want from him’ and then ‘this is not the time to speak about it’ as he pushes Ozil back out of the squad.

Frankly, my enthusiasm for Arsenal is waning quite quickly. I don’t look forward to games any more. Not even the EL can provide the excitement as the Vitoria game showed, despite the dramatic finish. Can the League Cup? It used to be the playground of the kids showing off their silky football with enthusiasm. Both seem anathema to the coach now, so I doubt that’s going to happen. This is unless Ozil decides to make the game his personal canvas, ignoring the coach.

If we’re talking adventurous tactics, now would be a great time to do that. There may always be scapegoats, but the coach can only undermine his players for so long before he takes the fall himself. Go out and play a joyful game, Mesut. And see where that takes us.

Guessing and hoping

Sorry if this preview seems less focused on the football than usual. It just seems apt. The players have been training well, as the club wanted us to know. It could be a chance for someone like Mavropanos to play, considering Luiz and Chambers are both not traveling. Neither are Auba and of course Xhaka.

The following is my guess at the lineup:

Starters: Martinez, Bellerin, Sokratis, Holding, Kolasinac, Torreira, Willock, Ozil, AMN, Saka, Martinelli

Subs: Macey, Mustafi, Mavropanos, Ceballos, ESR, Pepe, Lacazette

A place in the quarter finals beckons. Something tells me the players will be up for it and happy to be playing football as an escape from the other goings on around the club. I wonder how motivated Liverpool are for this. But we’re still going into the game as underdogs, a position which usually suits Emery just fine. But my hopes for this game rest on the players and their creative abilities. Maybe the outcome of the whole Xhaka and Ozil episodes will be the players just throwing all inhibitions (and inhibitors) out the window, and letting their true talent shine through. One can only hope that’s the case.


  1. As always, on behalf of all Uncensored Arsenal fans, am very appreciative of Shard’s previews. But have you all noticed that despite his early loss of hope in Emery and the new regime, Shard is always expecting (and hoping) for the best from the team. It tells me that there are millions of us who support Arsenal for the right reasons, for the great values of this football club that were exemplified by our greatest ever manager. The bastards cannot destroy this. COYG.

    • Thanks Shotta, for being so kind.

      I hope, and believe you’re right, but the hits keep on coming. It was the referees and their cheating which took a toll earlier, but I wasn’t going to give up on Wenger and Arsenal. It’s a lot harder to fight when Arsenal is being the way they are. I’m on the verge of giving up. But that’s why places like this site are important.

  2. Thank you Shard

    You are spot on this Ozil call is not reactive they’d always planned to expose him in this fixture unfit and undercooked.

    Emery is a vindictive vile man and there’s plenty of evidence to support this appreciation and no excuses left for ignoring this observation or his sloshing bullshit any longer.

    Yes Shotta I agree with you.
    Arsenal fans support their club and it’s values and identity. It’s why I was able to write months ago that Emery had lost the fan base in a manner that only happened with aw in his last season.

    Yet Billy the Big Blagger is “shocked” and “surprised” by this sudden change. The only people surprised by the attitude of the fans towards Emery are those who were ignoring the football on the football pitch whilst proclaiming “I really like Raul” for reasons that are not that hard to speculate upon. Everyone else has been consistent in the observations and commentary on the football since January onwards.

    The Blaggers and AFtV do not represent the majority of the fans.

    However it is true that a section of the support were told to their faces by bob Wilson no less that they’d acted like a bunch of ****s. They can’t admit to acting like ****s, perhaps because they are ****s? For example Shotta will recall one of these Blaggers coming onto PA and blag away whilst failing to argue that there was not a toxic element in the Arsenal support cultivated by the Blaggers and Youtubers directing their cowardly bile indirectly onto players and the old coach.
    Today they are, yes you guessed it, they are saying on their podcasts that there is a toxic element in the Arsenal support directing their ire towards the coach onto the players.

    What kind of sloshing Blagger on the Arsenal does not know how to listen to Bob Wilson? The answer is self-explanatory.
    Most Arsenal fans are always have been and will be in fact onside with the Great Bob.

    He speaks for us.

    And that is why I could write what I did about most fans wanting Emery (& by implication Raul) gone ASAP.

    The opinion of these Blaggers “who really like Raul” etc. belongs in sewer, if we are being generous we could say the bin or landfill dump. They’ve done their bit to damage the club and they can’t go back now.

    Where does the club go from here? Raul cannot let his man be strung up so soon as that will reflect too much upon himself. He can’t let that happen. The longer Emery stays in the job from today the better it is for Raul. Until the pay to bay cheerleaders for the hate mobs want to turn their hate onto an easy target right in front of them Daddy Raul Montana will remain right there. However I suspect that the mob have already been paid hence the silence. I hope I am wrong, We shall see what the evidence tells us over the next few months.

    • very well said

    • < correction: I suspect the cheerleaders have already been paid hence their silence towards Raul…

      • Re: Finsbury’s calling out the “blaggers”. Can any of the readers of this site who frequently read Arseblog, Le Grove etc confirm whether any of these blogs have ever criticized the role of Don Raul in the destruction of our football club?

  3. “Raul cannot let his man be strung up so soon as that will reflect too much upon himself. He can’t let that happen.”

    Exactly. If he sacks him now and the replacement still doesn’t get CL, he will be blamed for bad decision making twice. If he keeps still, sacks Emery at the end of the season, worst he can be accused of is keeping faith too long. He then gets to go again, with another year’s budget, and Edu as buffer too. Only way he’s firing Emery is if Mourinho, and the extra budget that would mean, is actually an option.

    • Think you have game-planned this out perfectly Shard. Waiting until May suits Raul perfectly, no matter how much damage to the club by his lackey, Emery. But going by Twitter, even the blaggers are having difficulty holding the line as the failings of Emery become more and more apparent. Not many are willing to publicly advocate giving him more time or one more transfer window. Frankly, I have been pleasantly surprised by the wide range of persons who see through his plan to “set up” Ozil as the fall guy win, lose or draw at Anfield. The level of distrust of Emery is palpable. One week he says other players “deserve it more” and yesterday in his presser he speaks of Ozil’s creativity and “consistency”. The last quote nearly sent my jaw to the floor; after only 70 minutes of playing time this season Ozil suddenly gains consistentcy. As I said earlier in this week’s podcast “get your God-damn lie straight.” Problem for Raul is Emery’s time is running out fast and he might be next in the firing line. That would be a good thing.

  4. pedantic George @arseblaggerOctober 30, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    I don’t read either of those shithouse blog, but I’d bet the farm that Raul is still The Don.

  5. Evening guys, I echo what Shotts said at the top, Great work as usual by General Shard. Great team of Shard and Omi for the befores and afters.
    Also great comments all round including the big one from fins showing us the pool of sloshness (the sloshness monsters?*)that we swim in collectively at the moment.
    A glimmer of hope tonight having seen the Liverpool team, but its the instruction they will be given that worries me: set it up like Custers last stand…and slosh it all over.

    Sure would be a great boost to win tonight. And the then Astros win later! I dread tomorrow morning and both teams have lost. Grrrr!

    Thanks again,

    * Ed Wood style, where Lugosi has to make it look like its alive as he fights it…

  6. To the tune of “Oh what a Night”. Once again we are failed by that damn blasted coward. 4 goals put us 4 times in the lead, two times we are 2 goals up, finally 5-4 and the fool makes like-for-like subs. Am sorry but he is done for me.

    • Bredrin, you don’t see what’s going on. All he has to do is bring on Super Guen and we good.

      • Why the funk would you put on a non defensive midfielder who can also not hold the ball or retain possession (inexperience?) to hold onto a one goal lead at Anfield.

        Emery was finished in The Game after the Suarez former Ozil substitution. A laughing stock from Tasmania to Timbuktu. Everything else thereafter is just damage to the club.


      • Even a blind man can see.


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