Arsenal Versus Southampton: Wither Young Yaya?


I probably don’t need to tell you what happened the last time we played Southampton in this competition. What did surprise me however was to discover that the match took place more than two years ago. I believe this is a common problem as one gets older, the memory plays tricks and our understanding of time contracts and stretches in an alarming fashion. This probably explains how I can still name the first eleven from 1970 / 71 season without breaking sweat but struggle to recall what the hell has happened to Yaya Sanogo.

Talking of Yaya we could well do with someone of his stature in the squad right now especially in light of Olivier Giroud’s injury. There is, for an old fashioned chap like me, nothing so comforting as seeing a couple of big handy blokes on the pitch. Silly and counter intuitive when you look at the diminutive stature of some of the world’s greatest ever players, but it’s there nonetheless.

It probably has something to do with the traditional significance of set piece goals in the English game. We all feel vulnerable when the opposition has a corner and so there is solace in the presence of a hefty header of the ball in our area, especially if he’s the kind of chap who is equally dangerous up the other end.

This is in all likelihood one of the reasons many of us felt a little more secure with our no nonsense makeshift right back on Sunday. After coming on for the desperately unfortunate Matt Debuchy, Gabriel didn’t do much wrong to my eyes and he brought us extra threat and extra protection. It was however his nifty footwork and crisp passing which surprised a few of the Arsenal faithful and I for one would be happy to see him there in future – assuming Jenks recovery is being handled with care. Having said all that he must be favourite to start at centre back tonight given the partnership he has formed with Noddy Holding during this year’s League Cup campaign.

At the weekend I took the bold and brash step of predicting victory in my pre-match ramble. I did so because I’m always honest with you about how I feel before a game. You may not be overly surprised to learn that I’m not experiencing quite the same confidence  in the result this evening. Not that we can’t beat Southampton, of course we can. We’ve done it before and can do so again. The problem lies with the make up of the sides.

Their first team is in fine fettle right now. Organised at the back, slick in midfield and with some sharp players up front. If they field a strong team and we put out a patchwork quilt of youth teamers and second choice first teamers there is no question that they should be favourites.

Given the strength of our first team squad we can of course start with a pretty strong eleven and still rest a few of our tip top best quality star turns. The problem is that they won’t have put in much time together on the pitch and so much will depend on how quickly they settle on the night.

All of that notwithstanding I’m still excited about the match. This is a competition in which it doesn’t sting as much to lose but is still great fun to win. While no one wants to lose any game and naturally we want the second string players to progress as far as possible thus gaining valuable match sharpness for when they are called upon to take part in the more heavyweight matches, going out has never been the end of the world. Except perhaps when we lost in the final that last time. I must confess that one did smart a bit.

A glance at the form table shows the Saints only winning one from their last five games. This may be a little deceptive as their previous two matches saw them gain a creditable draw with over achieving Jurgen Klopp’s Flying Circus and beat an Everton side which had until then been doing rather well. As we all know league and cup form are seldom related so apart from padding I’m not sure what I hoped to achieve with this paragraph.

According to the club website the game isn’t being televised so many of you will be listening on Arsenal Player which will be an interesting experience for you. Others will no doubt discover the delight of the foreign stream. If you’ve followed my advice and installed the Sopcast Player then the Russian and Spanish streams tend to be the best quality and the most stable but there are good Android links available too so if you have a tablet check out social media just before the game and you should be fine.

If you’re at the ground then I suppose none of that has any relevance but I mention it in the spirit of public service. So here’s to a victory, progression to the semi finals, a solid recovery for Lucas Perez and game time for the other understudies. And if anyone does happen to bump into Yaya, tell him I’m thinking of him.

About steww

bass guitar, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

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90 comments on “Arsenal Versus Southampton: Wither Young Yaya?

  1. Morning Stew, everyone.

    I might possibly be imagining this but Southampton always seem to reserve their best performances for us before their traditional rolling over against Man U/Chelsea/A N Other-Key-Rival-of-the-Day at the weekend. We can generally also anticipate a goal-keeping masterclass from the supposed-to-be-underdogs.

    Fond memories of a competition once enhanced by the devastatingly pacy and precocious Arsenal ‘kids’ are these days pretty much just that. But those were exceptional times. Perhaps we didn’t realise exactly how so. Exceptionally exceptional as one Arsene Wenger might say.

    As ever, I fully expect us to win, regardless of the likelihood of such a result, and with or without a big lump at the back or at the front. Like the Yaya Mystery, the reappearance of the likes of The Jeff or Zelalem around about now would be most welcome although without regular playing time against top, top underdogs, my confidence in them must border on the unreasonable and irrational.

    But maybe that’s exactly my job on matchday – to be unreasonable and irrational in the support of my currently lumpless team, whoever is playing, whomsoever they are playing against?

    So, 3-0 to Arsenal?

    It’s in the bag (in my head).

    Liked by 2 people

  2. First para. Oh so true 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Agree, my ‘powers’ of recall are less actual ‘memory’, more ‘general impression’.

    Not always a bad thing. Generally.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Good Morning to all,

    A tasty breakfast of footballing wit from Stew adds to a beautiful icy morning.

    Checking the Southern Daily Echo Saints page I see our opponents go into the game tonight with a chance to get to the semi final of their first competition since the League Cup in 1986/1987. Can you imagine that ? 31 years with not even a semi final ?
    Despite that opportunity Claude Puel says he intends to go into the game wth a mix of youth and experience, as he has done previously in the competition. I suspect, unless he is daft, the Frenchman will err toward experience over yoof in what must be the Saints best chance of a trophy for many years. I doubt he will take many chances in his back four.

    I expect to see Long in action tonight, a player who has shown himself to be a right bloody nuisance over the past couple of seasons.

    I don’t think the Saints record against other”big teams” is all that bad, Checking the record they have wins against Spurs, Citeh, at Trafford Park and Liverpool this year and draws against against L’pool and at the Etihad this season. Only Chelsea have beaten them at home since August. Our late penalty against them in September puts us ahead of the opposition on that score.

    Undoubtedly a tight game in prospect.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Billy Hill have us a shade of odds on to win the game in 90 minutes, with the draw 11/4 and the Saints 7/2 to go marching on. I think we will have a stronger side out than many imagine, with Coquelin and Ramsey patrolling the midfield – and Arsene playing more of the younger ones next week in Switzerland.


  6. That’s so perfect I’ve been sitting here trying to think of something I can add. But no ! Nowt doing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Got to feel for Yaya. Apparently he gave serious thought to retirement, due to injury problems, in the time before joining us. Goodness knows how he’s feeling now after what must be yet another serious injury. Let’s hope for a dramatic improvement in his fortunes.

    Expecting a tough one tonight. Bit alarmed to see Ozil and Sanchez training as I thought they’d sit this one out and get some vital rest. I want to win everything, but I see the league as perhaps a 100 times more important than this competition. Actually, incalculably is more like it.

    Shane bloody Long just had to return in time for this one. Test for Holding against a talented dirtmeister. If Gabriel responds to provocation with some dirt of his own, ideally it won’t be till late in the game.

    Not the slightest clue how we’ll line up in midfield as, you’d think, the intended line up for the weekend will largely determine this, and that’s not something I can guess at right now.

    May well go with Maitland-Niles if he is next in line for first team progression, and someone whose happiness with the decision not to go on loan this year relies heavily on involvement in this competition (as a recent interview suggested).

    Ideally, at least one or two youngsters get some good involvement. Would be very pleased if Mavididi gets some minutes later on.

    Anyway, tough game. Niggle, dirt and tactical fouls galore are guaranteed with Southampton now.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Niggle, dirt and tactical fouls are guaranteed from any professional teams who suspect the men in black will let them get away with niggle, dirt and tactical fouls. Young players learn the dark arts from an early age, know the importance of testing the incompetence of the ref.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I get the same feeling with tonight’s game it’s difficult to be confident when you don’t know what either side are going to be it like betting in the dark or blindfold darts but anyway COYG


  10. wenger says we will be like in previous rounds going with a mixture of youth and experience, but all should be considered first teamers

    depending on fitness I’d expect the team to be something like this

    Jenkinson Gabriel Holding Gibbs
    Coquelin Reine-Adelaide
    Oxlade-Chamberlain Ramsey Iwobi
    subs Ospina, Bola, Bielik, Maitland-Niles, Zelalem, Hinds, Mavadidi

    For me it will be interesting to see the performance of Reine-Adelaide, as the potential is obvious, and he has shown flashes of his skill, but so far he has flirted in and out of his game so far, mostly out. There is something of the Diaby about the way he moves, the way he seems at ease on the ball, the same stride, the same quick feet, and the same explosiveness. I have seen Jeff play in u18, u19, u21, u23 and for the first team, and I have yet to see him really impose himself for a long period in a game. When you see him produce a bit of skill or moment of magic, you can see what the hype is about, but somehow at the end you are still left feeling he can and should be doing more.


  11. I see that journo Duncan Castles is losing the plot in his defense of jose, he is lashing out at other journos and media outlets who dare say a word against jose, its all one big conspiracy against the special once and arselicker castles don’t like it one little bit. Laughable really. I think Castles is the journo who once asked Mourinho at a pre-match presser, “How can the media help Chelsea to become ever better”.


  12. foreverheady

    Agreed. All teams will, with hearty encouragement from the media, try their ref luck against us, but under some managers it goes from being part of the game, to a massive part of the game, something that is almost certainly worked on extensively.

    Pochettino and Koeman seem such managers, and any move away from that, if Puel isn’t so cynical, will take a long time.

    They were almost literally giving the old kick or shove every time our players released the ball in the games last year, as well as all the other fouls which a ref may or may not give.

    A cynical, observant coach would know you can endlessly do the former against us without conceding free kicks, and that you will fare well with the latter also. I would work on getting the players to recognise where you can put in a stronger, bookable foul in situations where the ref will play the advantage and most likely fail to book you afterwards. A wonderful tool in the wrong hands, the advantage rule. Jones obliged with a nice little example at the weekend. Deep in our half, breaking into tons of space, an innocuous foul. Oops, he forgot to let us play on.

    As you imply, success or failure of these tactics relies entirely on the referee. Oh oh.

    Friend tonight, I think, and he’s been one of the better ones in the past at least.


  13. It’s almost a routine part of the game, stress-testing each referee to see how much they can get away with.

    I just wish more of our players were like Giroud, happy to ‘have a word’ in the aftermath as necessary (as per PSG’s Cavani). Until our players make more of a fuss it’s actually easier for the refs to let things go.

    Monreal could easily have had the Bournemouth thug sent off at the weekend but to his credit he was more interested in getting up and playing on.

    And this mentality, wholly admirable though it obviously is, is also something opponents (literally) tap into and take full advantage of. Bored with it now. Why can the referees not do their job in this regard – there are 4 of them at every game, after all?

    So a Festival of Rotational Fouling ahead tonight boys and girls, brace yourselves.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Eduardo

    Agree on Jeff. Very gifted but still seems quite a lot of work to do and rarely dominates youth games as I’d expect. Willock for instance, as a contrast, quite often has the opponents for toast and produces a lot of end product with it. Looked last week in UYL as though he was at times trying to make his passes and moves look good and stylish instead of focusing on just getting them right. Will need to cut that out to be ready for first team.

    I hope the youth team coaches have plenty of Bergkamp videos and use them often. WWDD? Nothing extraneous.

    I’m very keen to see Ramsey given the occasional shot in an Ozilish role, but the point of it for me would be to see how we function with three true cm’s in the side, one with plenty of licence to attack but who can also drop in where the game demands to contribute to the midfield battle with the two deeper players. Jeff behind Ramsey would be something else again and a bit frustrating for me.

    Anyway, Ramsey apparently didn’t train so might not be in there tonight. Coquelin, Maitland Niles, Jeff in front; Iwobi and Ox wide would be an extremely exciting if risky line-up/experiment.

    Ah, I hope it goes well and we progress. Find it a treat to see likes of Holding, Gabriel and Martinez in action. Get through and we might just see Reiss Nelson make the bench next time, given his current brilliant form and progress.


  15. He hasn’t even unpacked his whistle and it has started.

    Relax ladies and gentleman. It is highly unlikely that Kevin Friend will be responsible either for our victory tonight, or our failure to progress beyond the QF stage.

    In all my years following AFC I cannot remember one trophy that has been won for us by the referee, or one trophy that has been stolen away by a refereeing decision.


  16. I’ve no idea if a trophy has ever been won or lost for us on a single refereeing decision but the point being made here is the perceived susceptibility of referees to be ‘played’ by teams – rotational fouling being the instrument-in-chief here.

    The template for this particular dark art was the 49th game when supposedly civilised players took it in turns to kick lumps out of a young and gifted Reyes who was never the same player again.

    No doubt there are some amongst us willing and able to defend Mike Riley’s stinky corner but I felt it was a match that left a dark stain on the reputation of refs and the perpetrating club alike.

    And even today, refs never seem to spot this going on and are naively happy to tot up the fouls committed on an individual basis but never on a group one. We are frequently treated to the sight of a ref taking supposedly firm action in booking players who have overstepped some imaginary mark. But only in the 89th minute, when the game is as good as done and dusted.

    And THAT, I’m afraid, is the problem, regardless of how far unpacked our Friend’s whistle may or may not be.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Anicoll

    Part of our profound disagreement is that I attach massive blame to referees and our footballing authorities for the horror injuries we suffered. They came within a context, to me, of referees utterly failing in their duty in the years before those injuries to deal with the phenomena of teams playing with increased and dangerous aggression against us. There’s no particular start point but it is inextricably linked for me with Utd, and Ferguson’s idea of how to combat our edge over them.

    The proper sense of what is a foul, what is a yellow and what a red became lost in our contests with them. Spectacularly so in a famous contest, which seemed to hit us hard afterwards. The horrendous performance from the ref that day proved no obstacle to him later earning the top job and gaining with it enormous power and control. Those new boundaries established in Utd games then spread to all our games.

    Teams were allowed, for reasons I can only speculate about, to push the limits against us and get away with more than they should. A horror injury was inevitable from there. Afterwards, the media could not jump to the players defence quick enough.

    The large bans frequently seen around Europe for such challenges and injuries, which might just have saved us from the next ones, was not forthcoming. It’s worth watching what Zouma received his ten match ban for as a comparison.

    I just looked at it again and boy it is so much less of a malicious challenge than any of those which cost us so much.

    How much did they cost us over the years? Who can say. Lots and lots. Eduardo! Diaby! (reading his interview yesterday his questioner asked whether his career was a tale of two tackles : I’d forgotten the other awful one from Robinson, which apparently also led to serious injury problems.) Incalculable

    I envy you, honestly, in your basic trust of them, which i once shared. The game is more pleasant like that.

    For those others who are committed to unproductive, unpleasant burning hatred of them, and their media enablers, watch again the Motd segment on Eduardo. See the shameless way Hansen goes all out to protect the player and distort reality. Literally he won’t let Lineker finish saying it was a ‘particularly nasty challenge’ before beginning his fulsome defence.

    It’s foolish of me not to let go of some of that anger, I know, but i can’t help myself. This post for instance was meant to be short and reasonably light…oops

    p.s if you want a one-off game, the ole handball incident, missed in 2001, no doubt hit our probability of winning that one

    Maybe that was pure bad luck, but we’d have been in a brilliant position from there with a pen and a sending off for them.

    Liked by 5 people

  18. I agree with Arsenal Andrew.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. AA, Jones the referee had booked two Bournemouth players within ten minutes on Sunday, in both instances for their first rash tackle of the day. That does not see to me either an unwillingness to take appropriate action in a timely manner or anything ‘darker’.

    Looking elsewhere in the game I suspect if Arter had put the ankle breaking challenge from behind in on Alexis rather than vice versa that earned our bouncy Chilean his yellow there would have been justifiable demands for a more severe penalty. I would have been among them as it was a very poor effort. As it was I accepted the referee’s leniency and the advantage it gave us.

    I don’t think Jones is a good referee but he is even handedly inconsistent.


  20. “The large bans frequently seen around Europe for such challenges and injuries, which might just have saved us from the next ones, was not forthcoming. It’s worth watching what Zouma received his ten match ban for as a comparison.”

    A fair point Rich although I am not sure where it takes us. Not only was the PSV player Moreno not carded he was actually awarded Man of the Match. How Luke Shaw must have larfed.

    I think there is about 10% of the violence on the pitch there used to be.


  21. I honestly think Jones lost his nerve. Having made the early bookings (as you rightly point out, Andrew) he just didn’t feel confident in taking it any further and I think both sets of players detected this.

    But as Steww said during the game, just because Jones was bad for (or against) both sides, really isn’t the issue.

    I do accept that it must be unspeakably difficult to referee any football match, let alone a Premiership one with 60,000 fans in the stadium and almost as many cameras breathing down your neck. We have no idea what pressures are put on the refs by Riley’s lot, either. I’m fairly sure they are trying to discourage too many red cards in the main. Anything more sinister is frankly the stuff of speculation (which I’m also not beyond, from time-to-time, admittedly).

    I just wish they would referee according to what they see rather than attempt to ‘manage the game’ which seems to me to be unduly favourable to transgressors. It seems wrong to me that the likes of Costa gets away with footballing murder simply because, as Howard Webb explains, ‘you always know what you are going to get with him’.

    Just call it how you see it, not according to who you see.

    Liked by 3 people


    What are Arsène Wenger’s right-back options for the Southampton game?
    There’s Gabriel, who played most of Sunday’s win over Bournemouth in that position. Then there’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who filled the role at Nottingham Forest in the third round of the EFL Cup.

    But it’s Carl Jenkinson who will get the manager’s vote of confidence by starting his third game in 11 days.

    The England international is only just back from a long-term knee injury and Wenger is willing to give him time to recapture his best form.
    I rested him completely against Bournemouth because he played two big games and I felt he needed a breather

    “You forget that it’s a big ask [to come back from a big injury],” he told Arsenal.com.
    “Carl is very conscientious and sometimes a bit anxious. It takes him time to play completely with freedom. He needs a run of games to play with freedom, so the fact that he can get another game… I think we’ll already see a different Carl.

    “I rested him completely against Bournemouth because he played two big games and I felt he needed a breather. Sometimes, mentally three games in a week demands a lot. We’ll get him back tomorrow, put Gabriel in the centre and I will see for Saturday.”

    Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20161129/-i-think-we-ll-see-a-different-carl-#9IZVVOMI8LDCiaG0.99


  23. That Shaw one is similar in nature to the Zouma one. A touch on the ball, but the player used such speed and force they couldn’t have a clue what would happen, but should have been held responsible for it. A large penalty/ban for any tackle- let alone a foul which shouldn’t be classed as a tackle- which evidently proves to have been reckless, with dire consequences, would be a good thing in my opinion.

    Main focus need not be on condemning the tackler, Moreno in that case; More on taking action- a ban- which fractionally reduces chances of other players having their careers jeopardised.

    Think it’s pretty hard to judge between eras. Watched a Utd City game from mid-90s not long ago. Almost comical how much they were kicking each other, heftily,too, but it was mostly from standing starts and fit within my notions that footballers have brilliant judgement generally of where and how to foul someone heavily without much risk of broken limbs.

    That includes knowing you should never get close to fully loading up, as Shawcross did, nor hit people’s ankles at speed and/or with lots of bodyweight, like Taylor, Smith and Mcnair.

    I’d say the game definitely features less booting and clumping, but the extra speed now poses an injury threat at least as great.

    I’ll stop. Onto tonight’s game, and I’ll try cut right back on my ref stuff here as it doesn’t fit the positive ethos well.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Friend is relatively firndly. So much so that when the crew asked me for the refwatch synopsis on Mr.Friend i could say he is very ‘friendly compared to his fellow crows’, an understanding that is supported by the data.

    It’s not a debate, even the Invincibles couldn’t win a game of football on a tilted pitch.

    Looking forward to the football. And Mr.Friend too. Unfortunately this trip means we’ll be lucky to see him agaiin this season, not to worry we’ll see the likes of Taylor and pals from the real ‘roster’ everal times. We all know the game.



  25. One would’ve thought with reason and rationality that with the increased speed and simulation in the modern game that a credible referees association would’ve pushed for helpful aids decades ago.


  26. The list of Arsenal employees who have had their careers interrupted by fouls that haven’t been called is a startling list.
    If you add fouls that weren’t carded the length and significance of the list becomes disturbing & incomparable elsewhere.

    A statistical outlier.


  27. 1 hour to go to kick off. Should I walk the dog or have a bath? You see the life of a useless layabout is just as full of difficult decisions as you valuable members of society.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Captain Gibbo!

    It’s a close call between him and nacho in my humble opinion, with “accidental” haha crosses like the one on Saturday Monreal keeps his nose in front.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Eddy – didn’t you pretty much predict that team?

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Listening to mean lean’s podcast apart from Poz it seems like the other two have just figured out that AFC have been playing with Ozil as a supporting type striker for a fair long while now (definitely certainly and obviously not since the beginning of this season although I suppose narrative fetishists need their narratives…), not so different to a goal scoring F Word save that he has more space and stamina (and less uncalled fouls alongside rushed recoveries for WCs wrecking F words hammies and career…).

    It’s been great fun watching the evolution of a great player like Ozil.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. stew I was one out in the starting 11, i had ox and not elneny and I also expected Zelalem and Hinds to be on the bench and for xhaka not to be in the squad.


  32. picture of elneny in the warm up

    Liked by 1 person

  33. stew in the preview you mentioned sopcast player, is there any particular streaming sites that go well with it, or is it just the usual ones like critfree and first row sports


  34. Like the line-up. Strong. Guys who most need a rest given one. Youngsters on bench if things go well. Fancy our chances if the front four can find a rapport


  35. Eddy I find the streams (and they have to be specific for sopcast) from http://live3s.com/link-sopcast/arsenal-vs-southampton-match956836 at the moment there are only two so no guarantees as I often have to try three or four to find a good one. The league cup just ain’t box office I’m afraid.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Both those links working at the moment Eddy. So fingers crossed.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. ball drops kindly for clasen and he fires pass martinez


  38. shane long is a cheating cunt, always diving around the place and pretending to be hurt


  39. poor play all round and its 2-0 to southampton, lost the ball needlessly, token efforts to win it back, lazy defending and its capped off by a good finish from southampton.


  40. thing I hate about that kind of goal is you could see we were going to lose the ball. We never looked like playing it out.


  41. And now an injury to a first team player in a league cup game. This is turning into last season all over again.


  42. HT: 0-2

    as poor a performance as i’ve seen form arsenal this season. really lacking in urgency and effort, too many players strolling through that half. Don’t think we’ve made their keeper make a save. Gabriel having a good game, midfield not in it.


  43. Disappointing.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. I think we need to play better. 0-2 is perfectly retrieveable but requires a bit of quality, a bit of additional energy.


  45. stew the thing about seeing we were going to lose the ball was bad enough, but when we did lose it the total lack of urgency and effort to win it back or close down the southampton players was a disgrace. too many of our players today are playing like they have the attitude of “it will be alright, someone else will do the hard stuff”


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