Arsenal (H): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line ups

After three months away, the Premier League is finally back for another season.

To say a lot has gone on since our last top flight game at Fulham in May is an understatement.

In that time we’ve swapped Rafa for Bruce, Rondon for Joelinton, Perez for Saint-Maximin, Joselu for Carroll, Barecca for Willems, released Diame and signed a new right-back in Emil Krafth.

There’s been some low points this summer – Rafa’s exit, the lack of communication, fruitless takeover talk, the initial lack of transfer activity and the loss of our two top scorers, however a late flurry of signings has at least given us an injection of short-term hope ahead of the new campaign.

That said, boycott plans are still in place (see here) and several tickets have been left unsold – and rightly so. Supporting Bruce and our team is one thing, but Mike Ashley can’t make a series of unforgivable mistakes and expect things to suddenly be hunky dory after essentially using some last ditch sticky plasters and PR stunts to paper over the cracks he’s created at this club.

It’ll be nice to see Premier League football return to St James’ Park tomorrow, but the NUFC owner still has a lot to answer for after what has been a reckless and risk-taking summer in the main.

Arsenal arrive on Sunday – a club buoyed by what they believe to have been a very productive summer window – while Steve Bruce will be in the home dugout for his first competitive game as the club’s head coach.

It will be interesting to see what the atmosphere is like, how Bruce is received and how the team get on from a tactical perspective against a top 6 side.

As for the new boys, I am excited by the prospect of Allan Saint-Maximin – a real maverick with pace to burn, incredible dribbling and explosive talent – and have been VERY impressed by what I’ve seen by Joelinton; a striker who looks to have several strings to his bow when you consider his size, his mobility, his bright movement and impressive work ethic.

Predicted XI

Bruce has gone with a 3-5-2 system over pre-season and has hinted that this will be the formation used initially at least.

It makes use of our solid centre-back options, allows two wing-backs to give us width, makes the most of talented midfield trio in Longstaff, Shelvey and Hayden and gives the central striker support up top, with Almiron already linking up nicely with Joelinton in our final few pre-season friendlies.

That said, the current system – a 3-5-2 – does not seem to accommodate Almiron, Joelinton AND Saint-Maximin, so it would not surprise me if we opted for the 3-4-3 system that worked so well for Rafa not long ago.

In midfield we look well set, with Hayden and Longstaff playing box to box roles either side of deep-lying playmaker Shelvey in our final pre-season friendly match, however I would be tempted to bench Jonjo and switch to a 3-4-3 – something that would allow Saint-Maximin to start.

In defence, Ritchie seems to have made a miraculous recovery after limping off at Hibs so should start down our left. Willems is a capable option but he may have to be eased in – especially for this one if Arsenal’s new £70m man Nicolas Pepe is playing!

Manquillo has impressed over pre-season so should get the nod at right wing-back while we wait for Krafth to settle in, while Lascelles and Schar look nailed on for 2 of the 3 centre-back slots. The final centre-back spot will be taken by Fernandez or Dummett. The former actually started in our final summer friendly vs St-Etienne, but the latter seems far more suited to that left-sided centre-back slot, with that extra mobility and turn of pace needed against what could be an electric Arsenal attack.

Preferred NUFC XI – (3-4-3) – Dubravka – Schar, Lascelles Dummett – Hayden, Longstaff – Saint-Maximin, Joelinton, Almiron.

The Opposition

Here’s a few ‘ones to watch’ in Unai Emery’s Gunners side:

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: The Gabonese international – once linked with a move to Tyneside during his St-Etienne days – is absolutely deadly. Not only is he lightning quick with intelligent movement, he’ll gobble up any half chance that comes his way – and that’s forgetting fellow emphatic finisher Alexander Lacazette (who may or may not be fit for this one).

Nicolas Pepe: It sounds like he’s touch and go for this one, but it’s hard to ignore their new £70m man who bagged 23 goals and 12 assists last season. He’s big, a direct and devastating dribbler and loves to cut in on his left foot.

Nacho Monreal: With Kolasinac and Tierney unable to play, I’d back Saint-Maximin and/or Almiron to get some real joy down our right if Monreal does start at left-back. The 33-year-old has been a goo servant at Arsenal, but he could seriously struggle with our pace if we can isolate him out wide.

Predicted Arsenal XI – Leno – Maitland-Niles, Sokratis Chambers, Monreal – Xhaka, Guendouzi, Torreira – Mkhitaryan, Lacazette, Aubameyang.

Team news

Matt Ritchie is available after recovering from a hamstring injury picked up at Hibernian last Tuesday, but Dwight Gayle (calf), DeAndre Yedlin (only just returned to training after surgery) and Christian Atsu (knee) will miss out.

Bruce has confirmed that Andy Carroll won’t be fully fit until September, while Florian Lejeune is also out, with him progressing well after ACL surgery but not yet back in first-team training.

As for Arsenal, it looks like Emery will make late calls on Alexander Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe, however Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding are still out, with the game also set to come too soon new signings David Luiz and Kieran Tierney

Elsewhere, Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac will miss Arsenal’s trip to Newcastle over security fears following a recent attack in London

Prediction

Arsenal could well have several first-team players missing for this one, with a fair few ruled out and a couple of new signings unable to play.

From our perspective, we look good on paper and both Bruce and the players seem raring to go and in good spirits, so it will be interesting to see how we gel on the whole and how the new signings cope on their Premier League debuts.

We look more dynamic in attack, with us adding some pace and flair over the summer, but I do hope we can continue to look strong at the back after improving no end in that area during Rafa’s reign.

Their leaky defence fills me with hope – especially when the likes of Almiron, Joelinton and Saint-Maximin could be running at them – however we do have the small matter of Pierre Emerick Aubameyang to deal with at the other end.

I expect a game of goals and fancy it to be a high-scoring draw here.

Prediction: Newcastle 2-2 Arsenal

Howay the lads!

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at NUFCblogsubmissions@gmail.com & we’ll get back to you!)

About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

76 thoughts on “Arsenal (H): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line ups

  1. Olly: I agree with everything you said but we really do not need to gel, as you put it. Your team (the same one I selected on the previous thread where I said it would be an easy choice) is Rafa’s team with a swap of Joelinton for Rondon and a slight change in formation. They really should all know what they are doing and where to play.

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  2. Hoping that we can catch Arsenal cold because we really have a crap record against them. I think Pepe was at ACON in addition to only just arriving. Also, Emery sometimes didn’t play Lacazette and Aubamayang together last year to the puzzlement of Arsenal fans. Hopefully the fact he is recovering from injury will keep him out of the starting lineup. Not having the full pre-season would also make that a risk.

    Actually, to rush Lacazette back after missing 2 weeks in pre-season would be madness. Has he even trained with his ankle injury?

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  3. I think that against the top 6 I would drop Shelvey for A S-M . This gives us a fast 3 counterattacking side with a solid defence.

    Shelvey is a luxury for when we have possession and are trying to break down other teams defence.

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  4. And if you take Lacazette out of Olly’s predicted team that is a pretty weak team by usual Arsenal standards. They lost their most dynamic midfielder in Ramsey as well.

    Tempting fate, but this is a good time to play them.

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  5. Whatever happened to this BZG stuff anyway? It just fizzled and nobody has heard a peep since. There was all this crap of the Chairman sending an e-mail to The Chronic saying the deal was real, a Geordie Dentist with evidence of paperwork sent to the FA and the same Chairman getting on twitter and talking about it. All of this “evidence” and now nowt!

    I am sure Ashley could have moved the goalposts but he is the only one that has mentioned any (non) sale. I am sure a non-disclosure wouldn’t cover why a deal fell through as long as the financial details weren’t disclosed.

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  6. georgio: some of the journos were openly skeptical but mainly about how far the deal was along not that there was interest and it was in process. They were Caulkin, Edwards and even Ryder. Then it just ends and nothing else is said.

    None of them have written anything about the anatomy of the deal that fell through. Was it real? Was it the funding not being there? How did it all fall apart? Was it Ashley being Ashley and changing his mind or moving the goalposts? Who was this Chairman of BZG sending out tweets and e-mails?

    The Mag, Eds and True Faith had articles everyday on this and just seemed to have dropped the subject. Their posters were rabid about it and In-the-Knows popped up all over the place. Even from Dentists offices. And now, Silence. Like it was all a dream.

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  7. I have to admit I thought there was too much smoke for there not to be fire, but I also questioned some of the In-the-Knows.

    My problem now is that none of the journos have looked at in a investigative way and told us the real story behind it.

    Remember Rafa was supposed to be waiting for all this to go though so he would finally have the money to create a team to challenge the top 6.

    Now everybody has moved on to a boycott that will hurt the team. Oh well, another day supporting the Toon.

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  8. Eric Sykes:
    Olly: I agree with everything you said but we really do not need to gel, as you put it. Your team (the same one I selected on the previous thread where I said it would be an easy choice) is Rafa’s team with a swap of Joelinton for Rondon and a slight change in formation. They really should all know what they are doing and where to play.

    I take your point, but I do think there’s a few big changes ..

    1) Two strikers in a 3-5-2- not a central striker and two wingers as it was with Rafa’s 3-4-3
    2) Because of the above, the full-backs have to create the width, so must get balance between supporting attacks and pushing up but not get caught in no mans land and leaving us exposed.
    3) Central midfield has changed from a 2 to a 3. Used to be two holding, but now it’s Shelvey in a deep-lying playmaker role and Longstaff and Hayden either side of him doing box to box running.

    On top of all that, the new signings have to gel and fit into the system , get to know their teammates styles and adapt to PL. Could take time if we have 2 new full-backs, a new striker and a new winger in ASM…..or, it could work a treat immediately!

    Here’s hoping!

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  9. The time to play the better sides is early. Arsenal have had a few issues this ore season and finished the left season badly. Will there be a hangover? Plus they have a few players unfit or missing.

    I think I’d go with 3-5-2 especially at home first up I’d play Longstaff, Shelvey and Hayden. Almirón and Joe up front. Although not ideal and I have no idea how they will work it’s pretty much the only think we can do at the moment.

    Think it will be high scoring and wouldn’t be surprised to see a Toon win but more likely 1-1 or 2-2 draw.

    The atmosphere will be interesting. I know there will be Rafa chants and that will be harsh on Bruce but he will expect it. I really don’t want to hear any anti Bruce chants as that will be out of order. There will definitely be anti Jabba chants and so there should be. I imagine a goal or a good start will result in the fans getting behind Bruce and the players.

    Attendance I think there’ll be 40,000

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  10. Olly: I hadn’t really thought that much about changes in tactics, was more saying the players know each other and how they play. But on tactics, Rafa had become more flexible in the second half of last year so I wouldn’t be surprised if they had tried 3 in midfield in training.

    Bottom line is that there are not wholesale changes in the starting 11 which seems to screw teams up.

    Obviously, I expect to see St Max but I am not sure if the other additions are improvements on what we had. Adds competition and depth and protection against injuries.

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  11. I think Villa added like 13 players and play Spurs today. That should be interesting. Remember the Paisley teams? He would only add 1 or 2 a year and even then he would have them settle in the reserves for a while.

    Not saying Rafa left us Paisley’s Liverpool 🙂

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  12. I have seen loads of pundits and journos predicting relegation for us. Hell, the BT computer even did.

    Is it all about Rafa? Our personnel hasn’t changed that much and we did really well in the second half of last season, even against Liverpool.

    We have swapped Joelinton for Rondon.

    I would say that Miggy is Perez’s replacement because of his workrate and the fact he tracks back.

    St Max is Kenedy’s replacement so could hardly be any worse.

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  13. Let the rest of the newboys compete for their places. They are not automatic choices, especially based on transfer fees which are similar to what we have.

    Ritchie was a revalation at left wing back and even said himself it feels like his natural position. Doesn’t have the pace to be a PL winger, especially a right winger.

    Manquillo finished the season well, although I still have my doubts about him and Yedlin so an extra right back is a good move.

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  14. Eric Sykes:
    I have seen loads of pundits and journos predicting relegation for us. Hell, the BT computer even did.

    Is it all about Rafa? Our personnel hasn’t changed that much and we did really well in the second half of last season, even against Liverpool.

    We have swapped Joelinton for Rondon.

    I would say that Miggy is Perez’s replacement because of his workrate and the fact he tracks back.

    St Max is Kenedy’s replacement so could hardly be any worse.

    It’s because of the lack of goals, Eric. I’d also say it’s likely Rafa would have had our defence better set up. But it’s the fact none of our attacking players have scored double figures in top leagues. We are hoping Joe and Almiron come up with 25 goals between to replace what we lost. Or others chip in with more. It’s a big worry for me.

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  15. Daily Mail saying the BZG takeover was some elaborate hoax for publicity. That sounds totally bogus. Much more likely that Ashley moved the goal posts or p!ssed them about. Or they couldn’t get the finances together. Just because they are worth billions doesn’t mean they would use their own money. Liverpool and Man U were both bought by billionaires who used debt financing rather than cash. Bought for dividends and sell on value. Or simply stated, as an investment.

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  16. Stuart: I am worried about goals as well but I still don’t see us going down. The Independent had 9 of their journos make predictions and 6 of them had us gong down. 3 out of 10 journos in The Mail had us relegated.

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  17. Eric, if Joe, Maxim or Almiron don’t come up with the goods it’s likely we will be deep in the ****. Thats a gamble I think.

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  18. Stuart: there are obviously reasons why we could go down. The fakeover, Rafa leaving, the boycott, Perez’s release clause, unknown strikers with not that many goals to their name, hiring Bruce from The Championship.

    It is obviously a gamble and we are still a mess. I just hope the quality of our squad bails us out as I think we are better than 5 or 6 others.

    A lot will depend on Bruce and if we can get a couple of wins. Rafa had 3 points from the first 10 games last year.

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  19. Icedog: Wilshere off on 57 mins. They are reporting here he went off injured. He is supposedly on 100k a week plus incentives.

    Usually, what happens with Wilshere is they say it is a couple of weeks, which then turns into a couple of months and then he needs an operation.

    That’s why Big Andy was only worth a pay as you play contract with a very low base.

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  20. I am glad Carroll is back but it is almost guaranteed he will get injured again. Hopefully not serious. Once a sicknote, always a sicknote. We have to manage his playing time and his training to try and get at least 15 appearances – NO STARTS.

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  21. i’d go Dubs, manquillo( Krafth last 20 mins )Schar, Lascelles Dummett ( Willems last 20 mins )Hayden, Longstaff Shelvey Miggy, Saint and Joe. 451 which can easily be 433 when desired . I wouldn’t start too many newbies Saint and joe only to start.

    Can see a draw if we defend as we can .

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  22. Mackems losing. I don’t think that Chancer Stewart Donald was able to offload his shares. If they do not get promoted they are in serious trouble as he doesn’t really have the money to keep Sunderland afloat.

    The Mackem still love him. Not for much longer I would wager.

    Although I think Ashley has mismanaged NUFC I look down the road and think – it could be worse. They are the ones that should be boycotting.

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  23. HT Hull 2 Reading 0. What’s the relevance? Kenedy has been loaned to Reading. His confidence must be shot. Dodged a bullet there as quite a few were calling for us to buy him at 20 million.

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  24. Eric Sykes:
    Icedog: Wilshere off on 57 mins. They are reporting here he went off injured. He is supposedly on 100k a week plus incentives.

    Usually, what happens with Wilshere is they say it is a couple of weeks, which then turns into a couple of months and then he needs an operation.

    That’s why Big Andy was only worth a pay as you play contract with a very low base.

    Eric Sykes:
    Icedog: Wilshere off on 57 mins. They are reporting here he went off injured. He is supposedly on 100k a week plus incentives.

    Usually, what happens with Wilshere is they say it is a couple of weeks, which then turns into a couple of months and then he needs an operation.

    That’s why Big Andy was only worth a pay as you play contract with a very low base.

    I see that,how he gets a game to start beats me,what a waste of space

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  25. Olly – I keep getting taken over by BT or someone saying I’ve won a prize when I access this site mate – it’s p!ssing me right off!!

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  26. I think now is a good time to play Arsenal with Ozil, Lacazette, Koscielny and Ramsey missing from their starting 11. It’s up to us to make the most of that.

    Regarding the boycott. I hope it’s not overshadowed by idiots just wanting to kick off and cause trouble.

    As for those turning up – 40k is still more than a lot of other grounds and still plenty to egg the team on.

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  27. Sharpy17: Olly – I keep getting taken over by BT or someone saying I’ve won a prize when I access this site mate – it’s p!ssing me right off!!

    I’m onto it mate. Not sure what’s going on but I’ve messaged Andy.

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  28. Sharpy17:
    Olly – I keep getting taken over by BT or someone saying I’ve won a prize when I access this site mate – it’s p!ssing me right off!!

    Do you not like prizes? 😀

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  29. Stuart79: Do you not like prizes?

    Don’t like my bank account getting emptied. If BT want to give me the new IPhone, they wouldn’t be only trying to do it whenever I try to access this site and no other.

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  30. kimtoon:
    Watching MOTD last night, gotta say Brighton players foul a lot don’t they .

    Kim – I know it’s only one game, but Maupay didn’t look bad did he?! – he’s the player I’ve been banging on about for the last 2 seasons

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  31. Sharpy17:
    Olly – I keep getting taken over by BT or someone saying I’ve won a prize when I access this site mate – it’s p!ssing me right off!!

    its happening to me to mate on my ipad what a bloody pain,i just go off site

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  32. Well whatever’s went on this summer, I’m excited to see our new players today. Arsenal’s a tough game so I’m not expecting anything, but want to see a good home performance at the very least.

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  33. Sharpy17
    August 11, 2019 at 10:54
    kimtoon:
    Watching MOTD last night, gotta say Brighton players foul a lot don’t they .

    Kim – I know it’s only one game, but Maupay didn’t look bad did he?! – he’s the player I’ve been banging on about for the last 2 seasons

    Yeah mate, he looked good .

    I’m not getting that BT thing but i’m on PC not phone or tablet .

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  34. Anyway, the rain is getting right on my nerves now, much as i hate extreme heat, the constant rain is worse. House full of wet washing and running out of room to dry it and a basket full of more waiting to go in machine 👿
    British summers , meh

    Dear lord stop the rain and give the Toon a win, ta very much .

    HWTL

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  35. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has acted after Goals, backed by Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct, said it had uncovered “improper behaviour” stretching back almost a decade

    He is losing his grip, problems everywhere now. Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we set out to deceive . 😉

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  36. Well that Arsenal team is very beatable… nothing to fear if we can keep Aubameyang quiet. A draw should be achievable and we could maybe even win if we try…

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  37. Since I’ve had a beer and it’s Eid holiday in Dubai so no work today, I’m going for a 2-1 win for us… 🍻🍻😁

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  38. Well a canny first half … some good shots from both sides. Longstaff has been quiet, Joelinton seems to be doing well, Miggy a live wire as always… Dubravka looked a little shaky, but so far so good. Dummet, Shelvey and Hayden all doing well. We can take this Arsenal team.

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  39. Like what I’ve seen of Joelinton and Miggy (other than the dive – he can pack that in).
    Solid at the back and in midfield but feel like either the wingbacks either need to get higher up or one of the midfielders need to be more box to box and bust a gut to get forward on our attacks so there is more support for Joelinton and Miggy.

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  40. Longstaff having a quiet game so far, that Arsenal defence is there for the taking, i would get the saint on sooner rather than later

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  41. Well normal service resumed then… we were ok, but ok is just not good enough in the Premiership these days, even against a sh1t Arsenal side. These new boys are going to have to get up to speed quickly.

    MotM for me probably Ritchie or Dummett

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  42. Could of should got a point today. Strange sub of Willem for jonjo, lost all our shape after that.
    Where are the goals coming from. Joe is no Rondon going off today and much as i love Miggy, his end product is still lacking for me. Is the US league really that poor that he scored a bag full !
    Both teams were lacking in real creativity.

    Not impressed, Arsenal defence was there for the taking.

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  43. Well that was a very disappointing and frustrating 2nd half. Lost our shape with the subs but I guess these changes will take time.

    Defence in the main was excellent. Like the midfield 3 of Longstaff, Hayden (was excellent) and Shelvey.

    Miggy was a live wire but we need him to be more than that – got to get his head up and not just dribble into opposing players.

    Joelinton was really good today I thought. Good front man and battled well. He was unlucky with his chance in the first half.

    We ran out of energy and aggression in the end which was really disappointing. The last 20mins we seemed to have given up.

    PEA was the difference today though.

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  44. Sharpy, yeah we gave up last 20 minutes, that’s what we used to do pre Rafa, that’s a worry initself.
    We need to start with a trio up front of Saint, Joe and migs if we are to have any chance of a goal.

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  45. And Willems needs telling he has to come for the ball, was he waiting on a taxi home 🙄
    We actually looked ok ish first half, second half was a mess, all over the shot. Hope Miggy doesn’t turn into obertan, all pace and no end product.
    Schars passing was crap today too.

    Why wasn’t Ki on the bench either
    MOTM Hayden by a country mile

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  46. kimtoon:
    Sharpy, yeah we gave up last 20 minutes, that’s what we used to do pre Rafa, that’s a worry initself.
    We need to start with a trio up front of Saint, Joe and migs if we are to have any chance of a goal.

    Kim – I disagree slightly. I think we missed a Perez type player.
    I think the big mistake today was swapping Shelvey with Jetro – that should have been Muto coming on to link the midfield with attack and tell Joelinton & Mig to stay higher up the field. Both were coming deeper looking for the ball coz our midfield was too deep.

    Manquillo offered no offensive threat down the right either.

    It was disappointing that we either picked the wrong pass today, or when we tried the right pass it was sloppy.

    I don’t think it was all doom and gloom today. It was always going to be hard against Arsenal – they are a quality side and have spent the summer introducing the youngsters to the first team, so wasn’t surprised to see them in really.

    Most of our changes from last season are up top, so it’s going to take time to build understanding and partnerships – but I really liked the look of Joelinton.

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