When? Saturday 27th November with a 12:30 kick off for the BT viewers

Where? The Emirates Stadium

A fixture with Arsenal always fills me with dread. Why? I’ll tell you why… We never, and when I say never, I mean never pick up any points from The Gunners. They seem to hold some kind of hoodoo over The Mags. When I say hoodoo, I really mean that they have just been much better as kicking the round leathery thing across the park than we have for as long as memory serves.

Going back into the archives, and I might need Marc Corby for this (who has the best memory of the bygone years of anyone I know), the last time we picked up maximum points against them was April 2018. This is sandwiched between a staggering 16 defeats, running back to 2012!! So that’s 3 points from 51 against our bogey team!!

Since Professor Yaffle (ask your parents) hung up his specs, I think Arsenal have been bang ave. Whenever I’ve watched them on the gogglebox and at St James’ Park, I’ve thought they had a set of mediocre mercenaries who just haven’t been much cop. Yet, they’ve always picked up three points against us. Why? Probably because we haven’t really been very good for a long time.

They’ve had a string of players who’ve come from abroad (and who I’ve had to Google) who really haven’t worked out for them – Guendouzi, Mari, Ceballos, Pepe (£72m!!!) Mkhitaryan, Martinelli, Luiz, et all – All bought for big money and who haven’t / didn’t really perform as Arsenal would have envisaged.

They repeated the trick over the summer, with the likes of (checks the world wide web) Tomiyasu, Lakongo and Tavares landing for a combined £40m! An additional £50m was shelled out on Brighton’s Ben White, whom I think is a superb acquisition for them and Aaron Ramsdale rocked up from the relegated Blades for a tidy sum of £25m to oust Bernt-Out Leno in between the sticks. They also brought back Martin Odegaard, who was on loan at The Emirates from Real Madrid for £31.5m – So, I think it’s fair to say, that they’ve spent some wedge over the summer.

Two of Arsenal’s best players this season have come straight from their Academy – so nowt was spent on Saka and Smith-Rowe; and they are quality players. Add them to Aubameyang and Lacazette and they have the nucleus of a very good side this season.

Having started the season with three straight defeats, including being turned over at Brentford on the opening weekend, The Gunners sat rock bottom of The Greed League and the pressure was mounting on the dreamboat that is Mikel Arteta. Many were calling for his head, but he’s really turned it around this season, and despite Liverpool giving them an almighty shoeing last time out, they sit in a challenging 5th place with 6 wins, 2 draws and 4 defeats to their name, and on 20 points, they are 9 behind current leaders Chelsea, and looking well placed for Euro qualification this campaign.

Anyhoos, enough of Arsenal. What about Eddie’s Covid Mags? I won’t touch upon the Brentford game too much, but I think if it weren’t for the worst goalkeeping display since Hatch in Escape To Victory, we would have taken all 3 points.

We look much more attack minded, and big mentions to Shelvey and Joelinton (no I haven’t been drinking this morning) who I thought were superb last Saturday.

I shouldn’t complain, but we looked incredibly open against Brentford, and I am slightly fearful that if we go in against better sides with that mentality, we could be on the end of some naughty results in the coming couple of months. Eddie needs to find a balance between having a go and keeping tight at the back. All 3 centre backs were shocking on Saturday, and they need to improve…. and quickly! I can’t see any alternative other than Eddie bringing big Martin back into the team. Hopefully he’ll be able to marshal the defence significantly better than Darlow did!!

It was fun to watch in the 3-4-3 formation. Matt Ritchie looks more comfortable further forward, and offers good delivery, but I would take Murphy out and bring in the far more defensively minded Javier Manquillo on the right. 

Joe Willock is giving me some headaches. He is clearly a very good footballer, but we’ve seen nowt of him yet this season. We need his surging box-to-box runs and goals that saved our bacon (sorry readers) last season.  He and Shelvey could and should prove to be potent with their supply moving forward. For Arsenal, though, I’d bring in another former Gooner in Hayden, to give us a little more steel in the central areas.

I note that Callum Wilson, Jamaal Lacelles and Matt Ritchie are all on 4 yellow cards for the season, and another on Saturday will see them miss the vital clash with Norwich at home on Tuesday night. Eddie has some big decisions to make from his hotel room this week.

So, onto the dreaded prediction – I really can’t see anything other than a home win here folks. 3-1 Arsenal is my prediction, leaving us rock bottom and deeply in the shit.

Howay the lads

@peekekay – Paul Karter