Thrills And Spills – It’s Panto Season At The Emirates Once Again

By Kevin Whitcher

Online Ed: Arsenal share spoils with Liverpool in six goal thriller

Where to start? Well, let’s begin with a very healthy crowd for this game on the Friday evening before Christmas. I reckon only about 3,000 didn’t turn up. Maybe it was too late in the day to affect the Xmas shopping. Nevertheless, most people didn't manage to arrive until the 15 minutes before the kick-off, so there were the usual large queues and people arriving for the first 20 minutes of the game. Everybody was in by the time Liverpool took the lead though, as Mohammed Salah played havoc with Arsenal’s defence, and his deflected shot fell fortuitously for Coutinho to send a looping header over Petr Cech.

Jurgen Klopp’s team weren’t done yet, and could easily have been three up by half time. Arsenal, defensively, were caught out far too easily by Liverpool’s speed on the counter attack and in the opening 45 minutes, failed to register a shot on target. Pantomime booing accompanied the team as it headed for the dressing room.

Nacho Monreal picked up a knock in the first half, so Shkodran Mustafi was a substitute at the start of the second half. It didn't make much difference to Arsenal’s defensive solidity, as Mohammed Salah picked his spot on another break. 2-0.

Then something very strange happened, with three cracking goals in the space of less than five minutes. Sanchez stole in ahead of his marker to convert a Bellerin cross with his head, Xhaka took a long pot shot which confirmed what a poor keeper Mignolet is, and Ozil combined with Lacazette before chipping the keeper. The mood changed in the space of the time from depression to ecstasy. The third goal was an example of Wengerball at its best, but it was interesting to see the first two goals were nothing to do with the short quick passing. Sometimes, it’s good to mix things up. It was an excellent period of attacking play and real determination. One does not expect to see this kind of quality for 90 minutes – the players were hunting down the ball with genuine purpose and determined to move it on quickly for the first and third goals – but one can only wonder why we don’t see it a little more frequently. It was as if it took the 2-0 deficit to awaken the team.

So, in the lead after giving the opposition a head start, but this is Arsenal we are talking here. No chance of controlling the game and playing out the remaining half hour to secure the points. And sure enough, after 71 minutes, Liverpool scored their third, a Firmino shot almost saved by Cech, but the ball agonisingly looped in after Cech had got a hand to it.

Danny Welbeck came on for Alex Iwobi – who is not looking the player he was when he initially appeared in the first team, and with a couple of minutes of normal time, Walcott replaced Sanchez. There were further chances for both sides to score, and the result could have gone either way. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain entered to more panto boos. Please people, the guy took a drop in wages because he wanted to work under a coach he believed would improve him as a footballer. His faith in Arsene Wenger had elapsed. Get over it. 90% of Arsenal fans feel the same and last night was merely confirmation of why the club needs to try someone different in the dugout.

So, a cracking game for the neutrals, but both managers will have concerns about the goals conceded. In terms of playing the other members of the ‘top six’, Arsenal’s record continues to be disappointing. A home win against Spurs – good. An away draw against Chelsea – good. But the rest of the results – the two matches against Liverpool and those against the Manchester clubs, have seen one point from 12, two of those fixtures at the Emirates. So five points from 18. Title form, it ain’t.

Still, let’s look for a silver lining. At least the Gunners do not go into the Christmas break off the back of a defeat. And, aside from an early lapse that allowed Firmino a header, Ainsley Maitland-Niles – in contrast to my own fears – had a decent match at left back. If anything, Koscielny looked our worst defender, and central defence will presumably be an area where the club look to do some business in the summer if not before. This of course assumes the manager is not about to promote Holding or Chambers. There is an argument that either could do a better job than the fading Koscielny.

Palace and West Brom away before Arsenal entertain Chelsea. Who knows what those three fixtures will bring? The first two can’t surely be as bad as last season…

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23rd December 2017 15:49:55


Comments and Reaction

User comments on this article are now closed. If you want to continue the debate, why not do so on the Gooner Forum.

mbg  16:03pm 23rd Dec 2017

Where to star Ed,? easy, he's behind you, no he's not , he is, where, there, where, over there, where ? in front of you, thankfully the scousers have as many second rate clowns as we have, and rabbits who freeze in the headlights, desperate stuff, if this is excitement they can keep it. wenger out now. - Post No. 111303

CORNISH GOONER  16:08pm 23rd Dec 2017

Panto season for sure Kevin. The reality was that both sides were unable to keep possession for any sustained period & some of the errors were comical. Very entertaining though! Jurgan is showing signs of being another Arthur - but for the 21st Century. Now he has had his teeth "done" my wife is again a fan of Herr Klopp but fears for his job. Carragher & Neville were scathing about both teams lack of organisation - but I think the difference will be that The Pool's american owners will do something about it & won't give their man 13 years in the hope that he will sort it. Both sides way off being serious contenders imo. - Post No. 111304

BigDaveTheGooner  17:21pm 23rd Dec 2017

As you point out Cornish, Carragher and Neville were scathing of both teams but they both had the chance to confront Wenger in a post match interview on the pitch but again like they did after the Leicester game on the first game of the season they both stood there and did not say a word regarding his tactical ineptitude or indeed his inability to get his team to defend a lead. It's all very well giving it the big one in the studio and pointing out where it all goes wrong, well they should both grow a pair and tell him face to face. But no,they won't they squirm and hide behind the interviewer.............cowards the pair of them. How the hell is Kos an international defender,time and time again he lets attackers run at him and continues to let them get passed him,the first goal is a perfect example. If Bould had anything about him he'd teach him how to defend properly,but n again does Bould do any coaching??? - Post No. 111305

mbg  19:33pm 23rd Dec 2017

CORNISH, and carragher wasn't the only one scathing either, was there anybody that wasn't ? Oh yes of course there was the loyal AKB'S who would have thought it was great stuff, very entertaining and because of that believe the result doesn't matter, you couldn't make it up. Yes Liverpool will do something about that debacle, and i'd say even Klopp himself to put it right, but our lost cause excuse for a manager ? not a fooking chance I doubt if it will be even addressed, he will be pleased with the performance and probably believes him and the nice boys did everything right, and believe it was just bad luck and somebody else's fault, what a fooking sad state of affaires. Go now wenger. - Post No. 111306

CORNISH GOONER  19:58pm 23rd Dec 2017

Mbg, I don't know if this is a coincidence but the Press have reported that The Emirates has officially been declared to have a rodent infestation. It was stated that it was mainly down to a load of mice (that figures) but I do wonder if there is a big rat involved (Arthur?). Of course the Club are in denial - blaming the proximity to the railway line. - Post No. 111307

GoonerRon  20:18pm 23rd Dec 2017

Absolutely delighted to get in 0-1 at HT, and was definitely fearing the worst at 0-2. Unbelievable that Wenger is still pointing to our psychological inhibition due to the Man U game - FFS just get over it and move on. The three goal blast was electric, especially with the quality of the third, but the equaliser was just so utterly inevitable. Highlights why we could win a cup but are miles off in the league. - Post No. 111308

mbg  20:56pm 23rd Dec 2017

CORNISH, ha, ha, no surprise there, there's definitely a rodent infestation alright and it's getting worse as every Month goes by, with the biggest rat of the lot of them The King rat creeping about the corridors (hell he even looks like one)it's going to take the exterminators and fumigators years to clean that place out and get his paw marks of everything and leave it liveable again for the new tenant after he vacates the premises. - Post No. 111309

mbg  22:11pm 23rd Dec 2017

I read today that smoking Jack was the only one of the current squad who attended the Premier of Anfield 89, flat cap and all, if true well done, I've given you grief on here myself but you've certainly earned respect for that, the club apparently said it's wasn't compulsory for everyone to attend, I bet it wasn't and we all know why, if it had been some film or award for wenger making him look good and fawning around him you can bet your last pound it would have been f*****g compulsory and heaven help those that didn't. wenger out now. - Post No. 111310

TOOAW  22:17pm 23rd Dec 2017

Heard it all now Kevin. So booing a player who once he signed for Liverpool sated that he'd just beaten the team he just played for is wrong eh. AOC deserves every ounce of abuse he rightfully got. Hardly the managers fault. Your reports are borderline insanity Kevin. Was you actually in the stadium when the third went in?? Mesut was a total joy to watch yet again but your eyes missed that one. Keep playing to the negative bunch as I'm sure they'll keep lapping it up. - Post No. 111311

Rippy  22:55pm 23rd Dec 2017

It’s a shame kos seems to have dropped in his standards lately. Maybe the lack of protection is killin him. For the last 10 years we have cried out for a big defensive midfielder. 2018 and still nothing. It’s getting ridiculous trying to make sense of how different Wenger is now to the Wenger of old. This is his evil twin I swear. The left back decision was just a crazy gamble and I can’t see these dumb arse decisions changing anytime soon. We can still win a cup though because there’s quality through the side. But it all depends on what mood Wenger wakes up in. I really think a new manager would get a lot more out of this squad. And it would change the whole atmposphere. No matter what Wenger does now it’s too late. The trust is gone and isn’t coming back . End of season . Cup final please with Wenger waving goodbye finally . That would be fantastic - Post No. 111312

gooner.ed  0:13am 24th Dec 2017

TOOAW - Keep trolling Leeky - Post No. 111313

Moscowgooner  9:07am 24th Dec 2017

'AOC deserves every once of abuse he actually got'. Shocking point of view - but helpfully underlines my feeling from the game that those booing, rather than clapping, him were largely the AKBs. The Ox showed class at the end by clapping the Arsenal support - not the Arsene support. He was 100% right to move on, as should any other players with ambitions pitched higher than playing Thursday night football. - Post No. 111314

markymark  13:28pm 24th Dec 2017

Cornish - one of the rodents is a fat mouse called Leek the Squeak who lives under a kitchen sink in the silver lounge. He Squeaks 10 more years , 10 more years and I love Arsene Wenger , Squeak , Squeak. Leek has a fine set up nibbling on foi grass and nibbling the cheeseboard. Afterwards he goes to toilet in a nice warm spot under the Industrial cooker. Unfortunately I think this where the trouble arose . - Post No. 111315

Badarse  13:28pm 24th Dec 2017

Interesting stuff. An editor who calls out a comment against his own negative report as a trolls work, yet negativity towards 'the troll' goes on incessantly without comment. Liberte, Fraternite, Egalite, anyone? A poster who can only deride a person without the threat of the individual retaliating by name calling...is that cowardly? A poster who seems to know thousands of AKBs yet lives in a rural emptiness, and we are not just talking of geography here, insists that a thrilling draw pleases the 'enemy' because they don't understand that the result is all important, yet criticises unimpressive victories. Neville has an agenda of dislike towards the Arsenal, good assessor that he might be, it colours his views in red and black; yet agendas are evident in the posts to this article too. A former player returns, left in specific terms and is booed. The critics are criticised. Yet a player/s underperforming during a match, as the team did at half time, are fair game for those who boo. As I said, interesting, but only in comparing double standards. - Post No. 111316

markymark  14:00pm 24th Dec 2017

Merry Christmas everyone ! As Badarse is blathering on about unfair treatment I thought it would be a good time to release a Christmas from the Caravan post. The wind howled in from the North Sea battering the rusting caravan . Inside Jamerson and his brother were both taking up the same double bed as they had always done. Further along a narrow corridor was the Rev Brian who puffed on an Embassy and read an old copy of Razzle magazine . Brian was not best pleased as his wife Maureen had told him in no uncertain terms to clear off and then thrown him out of the Marital Home. The angry words still ringed in Brian’s ears. Maureen had a sharp tongue on her and no mistake. All Brian wanted to do was spice things up a little. Pegging was all the rage he’d read. How would it hurt Maureen? All Maureen needed to do was strap it on. This , according to an article in Sexual Pleasure Magazine ( for broad minded Adults ) would lead to an ecstatic high never previously experienced. Perhaps contemplated Brian he may have to let things simmer down a little and suggest some less extreme kinky pleasures, or just pay for it instead. Brian was then further annoyed by the sounds coming from the other side of the thin party wall. “Oh Wengie , oh Wengie, I love you it’s me Leekey , I love you.....” Brian hammered on the wall with his fist.”Oi! Squeak , shut it will you! stop your dirty little antics or I’ll come in there and give you a hiding!” God that Leekey was weird , thought Brian. First he went on and on about blinking Mandy Dodd who turned out to be a bloke and now he’s getting off on Arsene Wenger! A fine bloody Christmas this has turned out. How many more days would he have to live in this rathole by the Sea! But just then there was a terrible banging on the door. From Jamerson’s room a fearful voice arose “who ish it pleash don’t hurt ush” Jamersons strange, lispy, falsetto voice sounded fearful. From outside was heard. “Oi! Open up you bleeding Jessie’s , it’s Colesey and Im frigging freezing!” Oh no, thought Brian not that violent nut-job as well, could Christmas get any worse? - Post No. 111317

mbg  16:45pm 24th Dec 2017

Rippy, it's been that way for more than ten years mate, and that's the way it's going to remain, we can still win a cup, that just says it all, and that of course that will and does keep the faithful happy and gets them excited, so they keep putting up with an old fraud of a manager and all that goes with him, and all you mention and a hell of a lot more along with it, for the odd cup, (that we get lucky in and scrape more times than not,) ambition ? ambitionless is more appropriate, fans like that are as much the problem as wenger. wenger out now. - Post No. 111319

mbg  17:08pm 24th Dec 2017

Thank you Gooner ed, markymark, you certainly called it right a few article back ref the toad in the hole, although I suppose it didn't surprise many, Sad to be alone, and at this time of year too. wenger and his Santas out. - Post No. 111320

TOOAW  18:00pm 24th Dec 2017

Looks like Nark has had one too many this lunchtime. Anyway, my comments weren't meant to be demeaning. Just a factual view on the £35 mil that is AOC. He jumped ship then ran the club down that paid his wages for so long. Get over it ed, I'm sure you still have a fondness for all ex players. Checking back on posts over the years, this clearly is not the case. Seasons Greetings Badarse. - Post No. 111321

markymark  18:04pm 24th Dec 2017

Toad - hello Badarse is that you Badarse I’m all alone! Please call me Badarse! - Post No. 111322

markymark  21:30pm 24th Dec 2017

Toad - you recently dropped in a comment about Mandy Dodd being a bloke. How do you know this? Was it because you and Mandy were getting a bit fruity . The clothes came off and suddenly it’s like that scene from the “Crying Game”? Despite Mandy apparently having meat and two veg are you still boyfriend and err girlfriend ? - Post No. 111325

Badarse  22:17pm 24th Dec 2017

Desperate stuff indeed from the Nark, TOOAW, but don't be dismayed he has enrolled in my, 'Virtual OG Guide to Descriptive Writing'. Lesson one is to describe what writing is. With a flourish of la plume he will be inscribed in the, 'Righters Hall of Fame', along with Moscow Gooner and SKG. The very best of Xmases, and health and happiness throughout 2018, to you TOOAW. Oh, and a Bar of Humbug to the Nark and his posse. - Post No. 111326

markymark  22:30pm 24th Dec 2017

Pleasures all mine Badarse - can’t help noticing your list of enemies grows. My list of imbecile Wengerists diminishes season by season. Just two of you left really and one of you appears to be on shaky ground. TTFN . See you in 2018 - Post No. 111327

TOOAW  23:08pm 24th Dec 2017

Nark. 2 appears to go into any number no matter how many 'imbeciles' are in tow. Got an image of you singing to AKB and MBG "this ole house" and "you drive me crazy" shaking those hips wearing your yellow and blue kit. Quite a tough act to follow but will you attend, protest, spend or boycott. - Post No. 111329

mbg  1:29am 25th Dec 2017

Yes the booing was most certainly from the AKB wengerites who in true fashion blamed him for jumping ship (jumping ship from what, f**k only knows)from their beloved messiah like they've left lurch in the lurch or something like that(again what lurch god only knows) just like RVP at the time and the others, i'm surprised we didn't hear of a special reception for him, a back turning or something pathetic like that, i guess they just went with the booing (how brave of them) anyway yes it back fired (as usual)the proper fans seeing to that (along with the Ox himself, lol) the fans who know and can see wenger is the problem here, with their applauding of him at the end, and his back to everyone, poor old AKB's made to look foolish yet again and sent packing with their tail between their legs. Not to mention the applauding of him on social media later. wenger out. - Post No. 111330

mbg  14:46pm 25th Dec 2017

To all you AKB wengerites who have invited their lord and master over for Xmas dinner, and have your wife or girlfriend for afters say hello to him for me. wenger out now. - Post No. 111331

Issue #269 - Out Now!

Gooner Editorial

21st January 2018

Life Without Sanchez Gets Off To A Promising Start

Online Ed: Arsenal enjoy a comfortable afternoon against Palace