Do Emery’s Arsenal Have Cojones? (And new Gooner out today!)

Preview of this afternoon’s Arsenal v Watford fixture at the Emirates

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Cover of the new issue on sale today

First up, the second issue of The Gooner this season goes on sale this afternoon. You can buy it 20 yards right out of the Arsenal tube station exit, in the traffic island in the middle of the Hornsey Road outside the Little Wonder café (near 2 cannons / Bear roundabout), just before the railway bridge on Hornsey Road on your approach from the Tollington pub, in the Matchday store on Hornsey Road as you come from Holloway Road, and on the photo stall opposite the entrance to Highbury House in Drayton Park. UK subscribers should be hearing their copies land on their doormats this morning assuming the Royal Mail are operating with their advertised efficiency (ahem!). Subscribers abroad will have to wait a little longer, although their copies are in the system. Details of the issue’s contents can be found here, and if you wish to buy a copy through our online store, that’s here (price includes postage of £1 to UK addresses of £2.50 abroad), or you can subscribe for this and the other four remaining issues this season here.

So now onto the match preview for this afternoon. Usual formula – five discussion points. And given it’s Watford, where else can we start but…

Watford skipper Troy Deeney famously accused Arsenal of lacking ‘cajones’ (Google translate tells us that’s Spanish for balls, bollocks or nuts) after his side beat Arsene Wenger’s team at Vicarage Road last season. Talking post match about the game, he stated, "It's having a bit of cojones. Whenever I play against Arsenal, I'll go up and think 'let me whack the first one and see who wants it'. I came on today and jumped up with Mertesacker - I didn't even have to jump, actually. I nodded it down, the crowd got up - 'yeah we've got somebody who can win it' - and they all just backed off. For me as a player, I just think 'happy days'. That's my strength - if you're going to let me do my strength against you, you're going to have a tough afternoon." Arsenal were at least able to respond in the return match at the Emirates, winning 3-0, although the reality that this came off the back of a three game losing streak tells you that maybe, looking at the bigger picture, Deeney had a point.

Are the Gunners more physical under Unai Emery
This lack of appetite for the fight seems to have been partially addressed in the summer transfer window. Tougher competitors such as Torreira, Sokratis and Lichtsteiner were recruited. Fortunately, the Greek centre-back returns from a short-term injury, and from what we have seen so far this season, is likely to provide more resistance to Deeney than the pair who lined up at Vicarage Road last October (Mertesacker and Koscielny). There is a view that if the ball or the man can go past Sokratis, but not both. Laurent Koscielny may be ready to return to first team action in the new year. At present, it looks more likely that Mustafi would be the defender sacrificed to make room for the club captain.

Starting with steel in the midfield
It looks, finally, as if Lucas Torreira has now become a first choice starter after getting the nod ahead of Matteo Guendouzi last weekend against Watford. One assumes that the reason for the Uruguayan’s delayed entrance into the starting eleven was that he needed more time to bed in with Emery’s tactics, due to his World Cup involvement and general unfamiliarity with his new team-mates. Given how critical a player of Torreira’s nature was to Arsenal’s deficiencies in recent seasons, it had the fans scratching their heads. Guendouzi performed well, given his lack of experience, but in fairness, Torreira is the real deal. I suspect if fans were polled they would choose a Guendouzi / Torreira pairing ahead of the Xhaka / Torreira one. It’s highly likely we’ll get the latter this afternoon though. Let’s just hope the Swiss international plays better than he did against Everton last weekend.

The winning run
Six wins in a row in all competitions is the kind of run we can all enjoy. The opening pair of defeats surprised nobody, but since then, victories have bred confidence. We even had the pleasure of a clean sheet last weekend, although that was largely down to Petr Cech’s brilliance than a solid defensive display. Watford are probably the best team Arsenal have faced since the defeat at Chelsea, but home advantage means three points are expected. Things get tougher soon enough. Before the visit of Liverpool, Arsenal’s two Premier League away trips are to Fulham and Crystal Palace – neither easy places to take all the points. Frankly, if the Gunners are to return to Champions League participation next season, Watford at home is the kind of game they have to win.

Home, sweet home?
It’s the fourth home match in 10 days. Sometimes they are, indeed like London buses. After today, we through October with just one home game (v Leicester) before three in nine days (Liverpool, Sporting Lisbon and Wolves) at the beginning of November. It has to be a factor in the decision of some season ticket holders to pick and choose which games they attend when there is a glut of them. There could be another October home game if the League Cup draw (made late this evening) gives Arsenal another home match, but otherwise, it seems to be a case of feast or famine. However, one bright spot. This afternoon is a home match Saturday 3pm kick off. Make the most of it guys, they are a bit of a rarity these days.

Watford these days seem to be a better team than they have been since the mid-1980s, an established top flight team that will always get enough points to ensure they remain in the Premier League. There is no longer any big shock when they defeat Arsenal, so this is no gimme. However, I think the Gunners’ ability to score goals will outweigh the likely defensive deficiencies we continue to witness, even under a new regime. My prediction for today is a 2-1 win for Unai Emery’s team, in a nervy game.

The Gooner has teamed up with this season, so if you do have a punt on the football, and select The Gooner Fanzine as your ‘branch’ when signing up as an Arsenal fan, 50% of any profits Fansbet make from your bets go towards maintaining the fanzine. They have some Arsenal specials this weekend such as Aubameyang to Score and Arsenal to win. If you fancy a bet, why not do it with Fansbet and help support The Gooner. But remember, when the fun stops, stop. Please gamble responsibly.

Regarding the new issue of the Gooner, here are the other ways of ordering the issue if you do not wish to order via credit / debit card through the website store…

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  1. markymark

    Sep 30, 2018, 07:32 #112320

    Looks like most of the opposition over the last 5 games are cursing their luck. I think other teams will do so this season as well. Crazy as it sounds I could imagine a possibility of beating every team apart from Liverpool, City , Chelsea. Back in the real world this won’t happen but Unai is building a real platform for his ideas. Selling Ramsay and Mustafi will enable that vision to develop further. I was thinking about the gruesome twosome who used to inhabit this site. What happens when you can no longer troll? Do they return to normal life or perhaps a further obsession takes over under a new guise. I’ve taken a look at Untold and if it wasn’t for poor old Sammy the site would die. Tony really needs to remove the Banner on permanent display strap line. It’s gone just like Wenger.

  2. mbg

    Sep 29, 2018, 17:47 #112319

    Well Troy the boy had that rammed back down his throat today, i'd say they have, and/or certainly will have by the time Unai is finished with them, and gets the rest of the you know who (just like him) no balls players out, or is Ozil starting to respond to Unai's, lets say little talks/home truths ? time will tell, as for Ramsey I don't know how he played today but as someone has already said he has whatshisname now DNA in him and he will be harder to convert back to normal again, anyway another good win today (without hearing about or seeing it of course) and three more points, the Unai dissenters otherwise known as AKB's are getting quieter by the day. Onwards and upwards.

  3. jjetplane

    Sep 29, 2018, 17:30 #112318

    Another dirty win and Man U losing. Wait til Unai gets us playing well. We will start losing - just joking! Unai does not know how to lose and Iwobi and Ozil are on the up and up. New coach and where we might have been if Wenger had left say 10 years ago. Never thought I would enjoy Mesut and the thumb thing but let's hope he has to do it every game.