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It’s a review of a book that I’d like to write, to keep myself busy on this Friday night.

How better to do so than writing in rhyme, for that’s how the author has done it this time.

Dave Seager’s the writer, it is his third book, and in my opinion it’s well worth a look.

Let me quote you a piece from the preface as a sample, a very small part but a perfect example.

“In a style you may have guessed, I have taken the trouble

To relive, in detail and with some humour, Wenger’s Double Double

Two seasons of historic moments to sit in Arsenal’s rich folklore

Achieved playing the game we love in way we had never seen before.”

Now Dave has had help with this excellent tome, cartoons done by Poorly Drawn Arsenal at home.

These excellent sketches just add to the pleasure, I’m sure you will get when you read at your leisure.

So if the Gooner in your life is in need of a lift, consider this as an unusual gift.

For an introductory price of just fifteen pound, you get a book, prints, and badge – how does that sound?

So if  it’s a deal you think you should get, see the good folk at legends publishing.net

You’ll be relieved to read it’s the end of these frolics, just one thing remains…

Have a good one, ‘holics.

The international break has arrived a match short of a quarter of the way through the season. We actually go into it as the form team in the Premier League with six wins on the bounce and having displaced the Middlesex Nomads for fourth place. Two points behind the top of the League is quite the place to maintain if we can.

Elsewhere the excellent Jeorge Bird is reporting that Eddie Nketiah was selected to train with the full England squad for the second time today. This must provide a big lift for the young man with the growing reputation. Hopefully we stay in all of the cup competitions where he is likelier to get first team minutes. It would be fantastic if we could develop a top goalscorer through from the academy.

The Daily Star, often well informed about what is going on at the club, are among those reporting that we are expecting bids from Liverpool and Manchester United for Aaron Ramsey in January. I’m not a lover of transfer speculation as I have often said, but if we have made the somewhat surprising withdrawal of a new contract offer then having more than one club in for him in January could be beneficial in terms of a ‘bidding war’.

Now that assumes that Aaron won’t sit tight and go for free in the summer to the club of his choice and trouser the transfer fee himself. Or indeed it assumes that we do not go back to Aaron with another offer. If he can follow-up his performance on Sunday with a sustained run of good form I’m sure we will be happy to revisit a new deal for him.

One possible replacement, Atlanta United winger Miguel Almiron, appears less likely to be Arsenal-bound according to reports coming out of the States today. We were believed to be negotiating a bid of around £11m but Atlanta’s president, Darren Eales is saying we will have to come up with considerably more.

“It would take at least triple that,” the Englishman told the 92.9 Game sports radio show.

The Arsenal would surely baulk at such a figure for a 24 year old late developer from the MLS?

Finally congratulations to Bernd Leno and former Gunner Serge Gnabry who have been called up by Germany as injury replacements for their Nations League matches against France and the Netherlands. Leno has impressed after replacing the injured Petr Cech at The Arsenal and this will be a real boost to his confidence.

That’s it for today. Come back on Friday or Saturday for a book review of Dave Seager’s latest offering. I shall now watch the remainder of Albania v Jordan, yes, really.

Cheers all.

It would appear the 5000 mile round trip to Azerbaijan had an impact on the squad with the attacking midfield trio changing in it’s entirety and Sokratis not making the starting eleven. Danny Welbeck, Henrikh Mkhytarian, and Alex Iwobi started behind Alexandre Lacazette while Rob Holding and Skhodran Mustafi started in the centre of defence.

The match was barely a minute old before the first attempt on goal. Welbeck played a ball from the left flank to Mkhitaryan in the centre and he fired wide of Bettinelli’s left hand post. Fulham responded with a deflected Mitrovic shot that Bernd Leno saved superbly with his left hand having started to his right. The same player was denied by an excellent Mustafi block in the seventh minute as the match swung from end to end.

The same Mitrovic avoided punishment for stamping on Lacazette’s ankle right in front of the referee, one Paul Tierney. He then clattered into Nacho Monreal before smashing a volley high over the bar. In the autumn sunshine an intriguing game of cat and mouse was unfolding with neither side able to claim being in the ascendency.

The Arsenal came close to an opener when Iwobi and Welbeck combined down the left, and the latters cut the ball back for Lacazette was cleared by Le Marchand at full stretch. Vietto’s attempt to reply sailed high and wide as an open contest continued. Schurlle drew a comfortable save from Leno while Bettinelli acted as a sweeper to deny Mkhitaryan an opportunity.

We grabbed the lead with a sensational turn and shot by Lacazette after Fulham’s right flank had been exposed by Iwobi and Monreal. Guess who had played the original pass to Iwobi? Yes. Lacazette. The celebrations on and off the pitch were full and raucous. “One nil to The Arsenal” rang around the Cottage.

Fulham 0-1 The Arsenal

Iwobi’s deflected effort in the following minute followed some sparkling footwork. The Nigerian is enjoying a rich vein of form right now. Let’s hope he can maintain it. Somehow Bettinelli denied Mkhitaryan following another smart Iwobi prompt. The Armenian then fired over the bar from twenty yards as the Gunners started to turn the screw.

As the end of the half neared we slipped into dozy mode. Leno had to be quick off his line to grab the ball when Mitrovic threatened and Schurrle fired another drive over the crossbar. Fulham were level when Vietto put Schurrle in for a simple finish. The collective defensive slumber had been fully punished.

Fulham 1-1 The Arsenal

Again we made a lively start and Hector Bellerin drew a full-length diving save from Bettinelli before the outstanding Lacazette lashed a tremendous strike inside the new England goalkeeper’s near post from the edge of the box. For the second match running the ‘holic pound was on too early. “Unai Emery’s red and white army”, the travelling faithful were in full voice.

Fulham 1-2 The Arsenal

Fulham sent on Kamara for Ream in a bid to increase their attacking threat, converting from a back five to a four. Vietto drew a soft first yellow card of the match when he pulled Lacazette back. Kamara got on the end of a Christie cross but shouldered the ball wide.

A second substitute for Fulham saw McDonald replace Anguissa while the Gunners responded with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on for Danny Welbeck. Minutes later the excellent Iwobi was withdrawn to a standing ovation with Aaron Ramsey entering the fray. The result was the team goal to beat all team goals. A flowing move started with Bellerin, Lacazette, and Ramsey, and including Bellerin again, Ramsey again, Mkhitaryan, and Aubameyang before Ramsey’s third touch found the net. “We’ve got our Arsenal back!” roared the visitors.

Fulham 1-3 The Arsenal

Leno, virtually a spectator, was called on to pouch a gentle head down from Mitrovic. The Hammersmith air was filled  with a new chant proclaiming that Torreira “comes from Uruguay, he’s only five foot high.” (Thanks TTG) Once again this was proving to be the most enjoyable of away days for the lucky ones.

Three became four with another spectacular finish from Aubameyang, spinning and sweeping a left foot volley inside the near post after great approach work from Mkhitaryan and Bellerin. “Come to see The Arsenal. You’ve only come to see The Arsenal!” How true was that chant. We were looking the real deal again today. Will it last?

Fulham 1-4 The Arsenal

In the aftermath of that goal Fulham sent on Johansen for Vietto, while the Gunners gave a rest to man-of-the-match Lacazette and sent on Matteo Guendouzi.

An overhit pass had denied Lacazette his hat-trick as we swarmed around the Fulham goal. “Boring, boring Arsenal” roared one end with typical Gunners irony. Another Bellerin cross forced Bettinelli to scramble the ball clear off Aubameyang’s head.

As the clock ticked to ninety minutes we fashioned another goal of beauty when Grant Xhaka and Rambo sent Aubameyang clear for another superb finish. “We’re by far the greatest team the world has ever seen”. “We want six!”.

Fulham 1-5 The Arsenal

The win sent us over Chelsea (perhaps briefly) and the Middlesex Nomads (for the entirety of the international break and maybe the season) into third place in the Premier League.

A very good performance, and day!

Pining For Putney!

I’m jealous, I don’t mind admitting it. The first thing I did when Fulham won promotion back in May was to text a mate pleading for a ticket to Craven Cottage, simply the best away-day there is. Sadly I won’t be able to make it. Those of you who can, have an absolute blast.

I suppose that will largely be decided by whether or not we can notch up consecutive win number nine in all competitions. Fulham have not started the season as many expected having spent £100m on new players in the summer. Had Newcastle held on to win at Old Trafford this evening the West London club would have dropped into the relegation places. It’s early days and I’m sure they will start getting results soon. After the coming international break would be ideal!

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan return to the squad after missing the plane to Baku in the week. It seems likely that Unai Emery has worked out his preferred starting eleven in recent weeks. Bernd Leno will keep his place in goal in the absence of Petr Cech. The most interesting selection poser for the manager is Rob Holding or Skhodran Mustafi to partner Sokratis Papastathopoulos between Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal.

Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira will probably start behind Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, and Aubameyang. If Rambo’s wife goes into labour then Mkhitaryan will be his likely replacement. Alexandre Lacazette should play up top. Much has been made of the fact we are still trying to get that attacking midfield functioning efficiently, but eight wins on the bounce says we are doing something right.

Fulham have lost both full-backs to injury from last week’s 3-0 defeat at Everton but the experienced Mawson may be fit to return to the defence. Their main threat will be the former Anderlecht and Newcastle striker, Mitrović, a prolific Fantasy League pick this season. Their one victory in the League was 4-2 at home to Burnley. They also drew with Watford and at Brighton.

The ‘holic pound

One week, hopefully soon, we will click for ninety minutes and someone will take a serious beating. I’m not sure that will be at the Cottage. London derbies can be tense, close affairs. I’m on the favourite, 2-1 to The Arsenal, which can be found at 17/2 if you shop around.

That’s it for this evening. If you are going do treat yourself to a pint or two in the Bricklayers Arms in Putney after the early kick-off. That is the part of the day I will miss most. Good ale in a proper old pub.

Have a great one, ‘holics.

Unai Emery surprised with his switch to a back three for Europa League match day two in Baku. It was a move that brought about an early benefit. The rampaging Sead Kolasinac almost teed up Danny Welbeck in the third minute and the first of two successive corners was won. From the second Nacho Monreal’s goal bound header was deflected into the net by Sokratis Papastathopoulos, his first goal for the club.

Qarabag 0-1 The Arsenal

Rob Holding might well have conceded a penalty when apparently holding Emeghara in the box but the referee was not convinced. Qarabag’s response to going behind was a concerted spell of pressure on the visitors. It was, however, us that came closest to the second goal when Stephan Lichsteiner crossed for Emile Smith-Rowe who couldn’t quite slide the ball in at the far post.

Bernd Leno was called on to make an excellent diving save at his near post after a jinking run by Madatov. The home support were encouraged and vociferous when Qarabag retained possession for more than a couple of passes.

Medvedev was yellow carded for pulling Alex Iwobi’s shirt as the Nigerian broke down the left. Iwobi was fortunate not to be booked too for his retaliatory shove. Kolasinac, relishing his advances down the left flank, found Smith-Rowe who just missed the target. At the other end Leno was called on to make another instinctive diving save from Osobic. The end to end nature of the first-half was holding the interest.

Iwobi found Smith-Rowe who saw his third attempt of the half blocked, as was Matteo Guendouzi’s follow-up. Holding finally saw the yellow card for a deliberate handball. In the attack that followed Medvedev made the net bulge but thankfully he had fired wide of the post. The Gunners were good value for their halftime lead.

Unai Emery is not afraid to make a change at half-time. Nacho Monreal, captain on the night, was withdrawn and Lucas Torreira replaced him as we switched to a flat back four. Ozobic and Qarayev were off target with the first two shots of the half as Qarabag started strongly. Madatov then thought he had scored the equaliser only to see the assistant’s offside flag correctly raised. The same player miscontrolled when he again found himself in a one on one with Leno.

On their first break of the half Iwobi teed up Smith-Rowe and the eighteen year old slid his first senior Arsenal goal under the goalkeeper, da Silva.

Qarabag 0-2 The Arsenal

Back came Qarabag and Leno had to make another impressive save from the offside but not flagged Emeghara. That triggered a second substitution of Mesut Ozil for Smith-Rowe who departed to a standing ovation from 200 travelling Gooners. Alexandre Lacazette was the third and last substitute, sent on for Iwobi with 20 minutes remaining.

The ‘holic pound floundered with eleven minutes remaining courtesy of a third first-time goalscorer for the visitors, Guendouzi. Lacazette led a rare breakout and it was he who claimed the assist as Guendouzi’s clinical finish from the edge of the box hit the net.

Qarabag 0-3 The Arsenal

Zoubir drew another superb save from Leno with a speculative strike from over 20 yards out as the contest drew to it’s conclusion. In truth the second-half had not lived up to the expectation of the first. Another Lacazette break saw him feed Welbeck for a shot that sailed over the target. Lacazette, courtesy of an Ozil pass, had the next attempt but saw it blocked.

In three added minutes Guendouzi shot over before conceding a corner for the last action of the evening. Two out of two now for The Arsenal, and eight consecutive wins in all competitions. We must be doing something right.

“Last year here, Atletico Madrid, there were two matches against them. They could not win. It’s for me, two very good examples for us to have the respect for them.”

Unai Emery making sure that we do not underestimate Qarabag FK ahead of our second Europa League group stage match (courtesy of arsenal.com). A strong squad has made the long journey to Baku although there are some absentees. Aside from the existing injured players Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (ill), Aaron Ramsey (expectant father of twins), and Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Armenian/Azerbaijan conflict) have not boarded the plane.

Bernd Leno is likely to get the nod over Emi Martinez in goal. Stephan Lichsteiner and Sokratis Papastathopoulos could return to the defence possibly alongside Rob Holding and Nacho Monreal. In front of them it is perm any two from Lucas Torreira, Mohamed Elneny, Granit Xhaka, and Matteo Guendouzi. Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck could play either side of Mesut Ozil or Emile Smith-Rowe. Alexandre Lacazette is likely to be the man up top.

Those two Champions League draws against Atleti last season were their standout results in the tournament. Chelsea were in the same group and beat them 6-0 and 4-0. They also played Tottenham in this competition in 2015 losing 0-1 at home and 1-3 away.

The ‘holic pound

At their best they could be a handful but it would be a disappointment if we didn’t get the points. I’ve taken 13/2 against a 0-2 win for The Arsenal. That would put us in good shape ahead of the home and away meetings with Sporting Lisbon who are likely to be our toughest opponents in the group.

A reminder that the kick-off is 5.55 pm UK time. Don’t tune in at 8.00 pm and wonder why you can’t find us on anywhere.

Have a good one, ‘holics.

The Arsenal went into their match with Watford minus Sokratis who was presumably still feeling the effects of last week’s injury. Once again we started slowly and Petr Cech was put under pressure twice in only the third minute from first a corner, then a long throw-in.

Alexandre Lacazette had our first shot having been set-up by Aaron Ramsey but it was off target and Watford continued to press in the following minutes. Lacazette was forced to drop deeper and deeper to try and get possession of the ball. He committed a foul which resulted in a hopeful Capoue effort to catch Cech out but the ball sailed over the crossbar.

In the fifteenth minute Lacazette dispossessed Cathcart but his attempted dink over Foster missed the target again. Watford responded with a Deeney cut-back for Hughes but referee, Anthony Taylor, spotted an obvious foul by Gray.

We came more into the match around the middle of the half and Lacazette was within inches of a header into the box from Nacho Monreal. Deeney’s wild lunge into Monreal and Skhodran Mustafi rightly earned a yellow card, the first of the contest. Ten minutes before halftime he was denied by a brave Cech who had been flattened at a free-kick but still managed to grab the ball in a sea of legs.

Back came the Arsenal and Granit Xhaka’s fierce drive drew a decent diving save out of Foster. Watford were rotationally fouling in order to break up what little tempo we had. Torreira clattered into Deeney as his frustration grew and he picked up the second yellow card of the match.

The half ended badly when Cech collapsed with a hamstring injury after taking a long goal-kick. On came Bernd Leno, afforded an unexpected opportunity to make the goalkeeping position his own. At the start of the second-half he chipped his first clearance straight into touch. Nerves, possibly?

Xhaka’s corner was met by a combination of Mustafi and Rob Holding but the ball ended up in the North Bank. At the other end Leno produced an outstanding save to deny Deeney. As Watford put the pressure back again Torreira sent Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang free down the inside right channel and his cross was head wide of the target by Lacazette.

Mustafi was the third recipient of a yellow card for dissent despite not being the first person on either side to have visibly questioned a decision by the hapless officials. Alex Iwobi was sent on for Aaron Ramsey, largely invisible on the day, and noticeably not greeted back by Unai Emery. Doubtless that will prompt more negativity on social media later.

We were once again indebted to Leno for a save when Deeney sent Gray scampering through on goal. With twenty minutes remaining we were still under the cosh, all credit to Watford. They sent on Success for the rapidly tiring Gray and the substitute immediately had a shot blocked by Holding. From a free-kick needlessly conceded by Mustafi, a recurring theme, Leno had to show bravery to grab the ball as boots flew in around him.

Success was put through behind Holding but as with Lacazette before him he chipped it wide of the target. In an attempt to change things Emery sent on Danny Welbeck for Aubameyang. Deeney left a leg in on Torreira but the referee adjudged it not to be a foul and a second yellow card. Dacoure also fouled the Uruguayan moments later and was carded for his show of dissent.

From nowhere we took the lead against the run of play with nine minutes remaining. Hector Bellerin picked out Iwobi on the right flank and his cross was met at the near post by a combination of Lacazette and Cathcart, one of whom turned the ball beyond Foster. It was credited to the Watford defender.

The Arsenal 1-0 Watford

Astonishingly we were two ahead two minutes later when Lacazette turned provider with a cross that Ozil just passed into the back of the net. Cue “Deeney, Deeney, what’s the score?” from a relieved home support.

The Arsenal 2-0 Watford

It is said that the sign of a good side is one that can dig out victories when they are not playing well. On that basis today we are real title contenders (removes tongue from cheek). The Arsenal played keep ball in the added minutes to close out a victory that was tough to envisage a quarter of an  hour earlier. We’re up a place to fifth in the Premier League.

Watford are fourth in the Premier League having won four and drawn one of their first six matches. The sole defeat was against Manchester United and those wins included a 2-1 defeat of the Middlesex Nomads. They are probably the strongest side we will face until the visit of Liverpool in November. This is a test of our six wins on the bounce form, and one that if we pass it will lift us above the Hertfordshire club.

With Sokratis Papastathopoulos being passed fit is unlikely that we will see any changes to the starting eleven that saw off Everton last week. If that team can start the match playing with pace, accuracy, and belief then we should be good enough for a seventh straight win. Anything less would sow the seeds of doubt.

We know what to expect from Watford. Our central defenders will face the usual physical threat from Deeney and Gray. Janmaat’s knee injury means there will be a change to their starting eleven for the first time this season in the league.

The ‘holic pound

The bookies strongly favour 2-1 to The Arsenal but I’m going to look for better value. If we are at it from the kick-off I think we have a 3-1 win in us at 21/2, and I’m on that.

With apologies once again for the enforced brevity of the preview allow me to wish you all a happy and healthy weekend.

Have a great one, ‘holics.

The team lined up as predicted in the preview on a balmy autumn evening. We survived an early scare when Bernd Leno miscontrolled a backpass. It could have resulted in worse than a corner.

After four minutes we had the lead when Danny Welbeck rose majestically to power in a header from a corner. Two minutes later Emile Smith-Rowe sprinted clear and just lifted his effort wide of the near post. This was the sort of tempo we have been crying out for in recent matches.

It wasn’t all one way traffic however and we survived attempts by Watkins and former Gunner Yennaris. Around the mid-point of the half Alex Iwobi went close with a shot following a corner award. The same player was mystified not to have got a penalty when he was brought down in the box by Jeanvier.

A second goal followed eight minutes from the break and a thing of beauty it was. Welbeck got the final touch to round off the approach play of five of his team mates. Truly this was our best performance in the first-half for some time. So it was perplexing to see us drop a gear in the second-half.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan saw his shot safely pouched by the Bees goalkeeper, Daniels, and Iwobi drove an effort over the bar. There followed a string of attempts by Brentford as we lost control of the midfield. The nerves returned before an hour had been played when Judge curled a free-kick over the defensive wall and into the net with Leno seemingly poorly positioned.

Canos fired one over the bar while Barbet’s header was thankfully blocked as Brentford sought the equaliser. We needed to shake things up and Alexandre Lacazette was sent on for the lively Smith-Rowe. It would prove to be a master stroke as the French striker put the seal on the victory in the five added minutes at the end of the match.

In the end we have to show respect to Brentford who battled back strongly after being largely outplayed in the first-half. I think Unai Emery will appreciate that beating Watford on Saturday will not be easy if we cannot maintain our drive and commitment for both halves, not just one.

It’s after nine and I have just finished recording A Bergkamp Wonderland podcast so this will be yet another exceptionally short preview of our Carabao Cup tie against Brentford.

I have just said on the show that I hope we do not start anybody who is likely to be in the team that kicks off against Watford at the weekend. That may prove difficult with the back four where Skhodran Mustafi will probably partner Rob Holding again due to us being down to the bare bones. Stephan Lichsteiner should get the nod at right-back so at least Hector Bellerin gets a rest, but Nacho Monreal lacks cover as well and may have to play. Fingers crossed we get no more knocks.

Ahead of them Mohamed Elneny and Matteo Guendouzi could feature behind an attacking midfield trio of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Emile Smith-Rowe, and Alex Iwobi. Danny Welbeck could get the nod up front with a very youthful bench so some of the U23’s can get playing time as the match progresses.

Brentford just dropped out of the Championship play-off places this weekend after losing 3-1 at Derby but they should not be underestimated and they will be enthusiastically supported from an increased away section in the Clock End.

The ‘holic pound

Obviously the odds on an Arsenal victory are not mouthwatering. I’m liking the value of a 19/2 for a 3-0 home win even though I am well aware an early Brentford goal could prevent me getting a run for my money.

To those who are going I hope whoever plays they start a little quicker than we have been of late and you get a full ninety minutes of entertainment. Hopefully there will be a stream available for those of us who have no holidays left.

Have a good one ‘holics.

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