Monthly Archives: March 2023

Review of Arsenal Players on International Duty

England player ratings vs Ukraine: Bukayo Saka dazzles as Kyle Walker  dominates Mykhailo Mudryk | Nigeria

I actually had the option of blogging everyday throughout the international break, giving updates of how our lads were faring, but I decided to take a little break, reflect on how the season has panned out so far, and recharge my batteries for what will prove to be one hell of a ride between now and May 2023. 

Without further ado, lets have a look on how our boys fared for their respective nations.


The Starboy, Bukayo Saka, featured heavily in England’s victories over Italy and Ukraine while Aaron Ramsdale stayed on the bench in both games, with Jordon Pickford between the sticks. Saka had a good game in the repeat of the previous Euro 2020 final, with England banishing the ghosts of that painful night. Goals from future Arsenal signing, Declan Rice, and England’s goal predator, Harry Kane, was enough to defeat Roberto Mancini’s side on their home turf. 

Saka was the cream of the crop in the home game against Ukraine, creating a lovely assist for Kane before scoring a peach of a goal as England ran out as 2-0 winners on the day. Saka, who has already achieved talismanic status at Arsenal has also become a growing influence in the England national team.


Granit Xhaka took his goalscoring form to the international scene, scoring and assisting in Switzerland’s 5-0 demolition of Belarus. With five goals already on the scoreboard after 66 minutes, Xhaka earned himself a rest, and ovation from the away crowd when he was substituted for Fabian Rieder. He led the team out in the 3-0 win over Israel, playing 90 minutes and leaving the pitch unscathed.


Leandro Trossard featured for an hour in Belgium’s away victory over Sweden, in a game remembered for the goalscoring exploits of Romelu Lukaku, with the Inter man bagging a hattrick. With Yannick Carrasco and Dodi Lukebaklo playing on the flanks, Trossard played in attacking midfield alongside Kevin de Bruyne to provide support for Lukaku. His versatility has always been one of his strong points and it was on show for his nation.

Trossard came on as a sub in the 58th minute and provided an assist for de Bruyne in Belgium’s 3-2 friendly victory over Germany. It was quite an interesting match with a lot of talent on show, but the Red Devils had enough in the tank to see out the hosts of Euro 2024. 


Thomas Partey was on the news with reports surfacing that Arsenal sent one of the club’s physios to accompany the midfielder to Ghana for their AFCON qualifying clash with Angola. Partey had a great game, dominating the midfield and strutting his stuff, with Ghana winning 1-0. Partey travelled with his teammates to Luanda to take on Angola, but the Ghana gaffer, Chris Hughton, left him on the bench for 90 minutes, despite the fact that his presence was needed in the game that ended in a draw.

When the coach was asked about Partey afterwards,

 “Thomas [Partey] has some small issues. We felt it was too big of a risk to start him [against Angola].”

Hearing this doesn’t fill me with confidence, and the potential exists that we might be without Partey for the home clash against Leeds on Saturday. I can only hope it was precautionary but Arteta’s press conference in the coming days will throw more light on the matter.


Martin Odegaard led his nation out in both clashes against Spain and Georgia. The Viking nation was without their lethal goalscoring machine, Erling Haaland, who was nursing a groin injury, so they had to bank on Alex Sorloth, who had an ineffectual time in front of goal against Spain, despite being presented with good chances. Sorloth made amends, scoring the opening goal against Georgia, but the spoils were shared. 

There was a scary moment for Odegaard when he was scythed down by Rodri in the box, with the Manchester City defensive midfielder stamping on the Arsenal captain’s ankle, but Odegaard shrugged it off and went about his business. I thought that the aftermath of that tackle would see him miss the Georgia game but he coasted through 90 minutes without hassle.


Jorginho played 69 minutes against England and struggled badly in midfield, as Declan Rice, Calvin Philips and Jude Bellingham running circles around him and his partners, Marco Verratti and Nicolo Barella. All three Italian midfielders were replaced in the win over Malta with Sandro Tonali, Matteo Pessina and Bryan Cristante coming into the side.

Jorginho getting a rest in the second game should be beneficial to Arsenal, especially with the fact that we are sweating over the fitness status of Thomas Partey.


Kieran Tierney has found games hard to come by for Arsenal and with the Gunners crashing out of all competitions and all hands on deck for the Premier League, he might spend quite some time playing second fiddle to Oleksandr Zinchenko.

On the international scene, Tierney is an ever present for Scotland and he played 90 minutes as a left center back, with Andrew Robertson playing on the LWB slot in Scotland’s comfortable 3-0 win over Cyprus before playing 76 minutes in the shock win over Spain. Tierney was substituted for Liam Cooper after he got on the end of a disgusting challenge from Rodri – the same Terminator that was sent to take out Sam Connodegaard a few days ago.

Tierney has had his issue with fitness and that has been a challenge this season. I just hope nothing got damaged after the tackle, but we will hear more from the gaffer in the coming days.


Oleksandr Zinchenko played 90 minutes for Ukraine in the loss to England. With Vitaly Mykolenko playing left back, Zinchenko started in central midfield alongside Taras Stepanenko. Zinc in CM is a natural occurrence for the folks at Emirates, and we sure love what he has been doing this season. The fact that he’s a back-to-back winner of the Player of the Month award at the club is a testament of how amazing he has been for Arsenal this season.

With Tierney still having some fitness issues like Takehiro Tomiyasu out injured on the other flank, the Gunners are desperately short in the back and will be hoping for no further injury setbacks.


Jakub Kiwior got his first taste of Premier League football last game week but he played both games for Poland against Czech Republic and Albania. His versatility was on show, as he was a center back alongside Jan Bednarek in the loss to the Czechs, but he played as a left back in the narrow win over Albania with Bednarek playing alongside Bartosz Salamon in the heart of the Polish defense.

Kiwior remains a backup option for Arsenal this season, and if William Saliba isn’t fit enough to start against Leeds, I’d reckon that Rob Holding will get the nod ahead of the Pole.


Matt Turner played both games for the United State in the qualifiers against Granada and El Salvador. Turner is not expected to play any more games between now and the end of the season, unless some form of calamity befalls Aaron Ramsdale.


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Arsenal 4-1 Crystal Palace: Eight Points Clear!!!

Saka shines as four-star Gunners go eight points clear | The Canberra Times  | Canberra, ACT

Match Report – Match Highlights – Post-Match Press Conference

Final Result: Arsenal 4-1 Crystal Palace (Martinelli 28′, Saka 43′, 74′, Xhaka 55′ | Schlupp 63′)

Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): White (Jorginho 83′), Holding, Gabriel (Kiwior 86′), Zinchenko (Tierney 65′); Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli (Smith-Rowe 83′); Trossard (G. Jesus 65′)

Arsenal played 120 grueling minutes against Sporting CP and suffered heartache from losing the penalty shootouts against the Portuguese outfit but there was the important business of the Premier League with Crystal Palace, without their manager, Patrick Vieira, coming to town. Due to Manchester City’s involvement in the FA Cup quarterfinals, their Premier League clash with West Ham was cancelled, so Arsenal had the glorious chance of going eight points clear at the top with a win over the relegation threatened London neighbors.

To team selection, there were returns for Ben White with Takehiro Tomiyasu out injured, as well as Thomas Partey, Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard. In attack, Leandro Trossard returned to lead the line ahead of Gabriel Jesus who’s still seeking to gain full fitness after such a long time out. 

The visitors almost had the lead early on when Jeffery Schlupp found Wilfried Zaha, and the Ivorian cut in before smashing a shot that clipped the post and hit Aaron Ramsdale before drifting agonizingly wide. Seeing that attempt reminded me of Arsenal’s late goal against Aston Villa, but Ramsdale is no Emi Martinez, I guess. 

Crystal Palace drew first blood when Odsonne Edouard was played through on goal with only Ramsdale to beat but Arsenal goalie made a smart save before Rob Holding, who retained his place following William Saliba’s injury absence, clearing the ball before Edouard could attempt a rebound. However, the linesman raised his flag for offside. With Crystal Palace’s main goalies, Vicente Guaita and Sam Johnstone, still injured, youngster, Joe Whitworth, had another shot between the sticks and he showed good reflexes to save a fierce shot from Odegaard after Saka’s cross was deflected to the Arsenal captain’s path. 

As expected, the combination of Odegaard, Saka and White were causing so much problems for Crystal Palace on the right, and it was no surprise when Arsenal’s opening goal arrived after some intricate play on that flank. White teed up Saka who showed good movement at the edge of the area before drilling the ball into the box. Gabriel Martinelli took the ball on the turn and blasted it home with his left foot to banish all ghosts of Thursday night. White, who was having a stormer on the right wing, cushioned another carefully-threaded ball to Odegaard that fired a fizzling shot that narrowly missed its intended target. 

Arsenal went two up before the break following some nice intricate attacking play which started with Granit Xhaka playing a sumptuous ball that narrowly evaded Trossard, but Saka picked up the pieces, executed a neat one-two with White, leaving Mitchell and Zaha for dead, before the Starboy curled his effort past Whitworth to send the Emirates to raptures. It was a goal Arsenal’s constant barrage of pressure deserved. 

After the break, Zaha fashioned another chance for himself and fired a shot from his trademark range but Ramsdale watched the ball sternly as it whistled past the post. Crystal Palace was made to rue that miss as Arsenal put the game beyond doubt when Trossard found Xhaka with a lovely through ball and the Swiss midfielder found a way to bundle the ball into the net as he clearly stumbled following some pressure from a Crystal Palace defender. That was Xhaka’s sixth goal this season, which is the highest he has achieved in his professional career in a single campaign. His previous personal best was five goals he scored while Borussia Monchengladbach colors some nine years ago. 

The visitors grabbed what turned out to be consolation goal when Michael Olise’s corner was well controlled and finished by Schlupp, who had the time to bring the ball under his stride before blasting past Ramsdale at point blank range. Shortly afterwards, Arteta sent in Tierney and Gabriel Jesus to freshen things up in the attacking third and the Gunners got their just rewards for the attacking tactical tweak later in the game. 

Schlupp gained some confidence from his strike and teed up Zaha with a good chance, but the winger, like the previous chances he had attempted, fired his effort wide. On the other end, Saka showed Zaha how its done with the Arsenal winger scoring the final goal of the tie close to the penalty box after receiving a smart pass from Tierney. This was Saka’s 13th strike of the season, surpassing his personal best of 12 he amassed in the last campaign, and with that goal, Saka also became the first player to have double figures for goals and assists this season, which has been talismanic if you ask me. 

Late on, there was time for Jakub Kiwior to have his Arsenal league debut, much to the appreciation of the fans and he showed good awareness to block a late chance for Crystal Palace, earning plaudits from his teammates. The ref’s whistle was like music to the ears of the Arsenal faithful, as Mikel Arteta’s men are taking closer steps to winning the Premier League, and sitting eight points clear at the top is quite comfortable, thank you very much.

Manchester City hosts Champions League qualification hopefuls, Liverpool, while Arsenal hosts Leeds United under the management of new coach, Gracia, that’s aiming to help them avoid relegation, so we should expect more drama in the coming weeks, but at the moment, we can only hope that the players go into the international break for their respective nations and return unscathed. 


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Crystal Palace Preview: Time to Go Eight Points Clear

3 Talking Points From Arsenal's 2-0 Victory Over Crystal Palace - Page 2

Martinelli celebrating against Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace visit the Emirates this afternoon shortly after the dismissal of their manager, and ex-Gunner, Patrick Vieira, following a dismal run of form that saw the club winless in 12 Premier League games. In that barren spell, Crystal Palace has amassed five points, four goals and 26 shots on target during that period are all the lowest in the Premier League in 2023. Crystal Palace in currently languishing in 12th place with 27 points, with a goal difference of -13, but surprisingly, the club is just three points ahead of West Ham in 18th place, and the Hammers have a goal difference of -10. Sandwiched in between them are Wolves (13th, -19 GD, 27 points), Leeds (14th, -9 GD, 26 points), Everton (15th, -18 GD, 26 points), Nottingham Forest (16th, -27 GD, 26 points) and Leicester (17th, -9 GD, 25 points). Even the other relegation candidates under West Ham, Bournemouth (19th, -29 GD, 24 points) and Southampton (20th, -23 GD, 23 points) are not far off from Crystal Palace, so the margins are really tight at the relegation zone.

Arsenal, on the other hand, sit pretty at the top of the Premier League, five points ahead of Manchester City, who progressed further in the FA Cup following the demolition of Burnley in Vincent Kompany’s homecoming, and with a win against Crystal Palace today, Arsenal can have an unassailable eight point lead, before heading into the final international break of the season. The Gunners are still licking their wounds from the penalty shootout heartache against Sporting CP, which sent them crashing out of the Europa League, so all focus remains on winning the remaining 11 games to earn the club’s first league title in 19 years.

Despite Crystal Palace’s shitty form, they have not been beaten at the Emirates on any of their past four visits, drawing three and winning one. However, Crystal Palace have only won two of their 22 league away fixtures against Arsenal: 2-1 at Highbury in October 1994 and 3-2 at Emirates Stadium in April 2019. That win at the Emirates proved costly, at it messed up the Gunners Champions League qualification plans under Unai Emery.

If the Gunners win Crystal Palace today, the club will equal last season’s final total of 69 points with 10 matches still to play. This shows the considerable amount of progress achieved this season, and the fans are hopeful that the Gunners go all the way to get the prized asset, the Premier League trophy. 

To team news, Arsenal suffered two casualties in the loss to Sporting CP with Takehiro Tomiyasu suffering a knee injury and was seen leaving the Emirates Stadium on crutches, which is never a good thing. While we still await the results of the scans of the knee, to know the extent of the injury, I highly doubt that we would see Tomiyasu again this season, which adds some measure of pressure with Ben White, being the only available right back for selection. William Saliba also had some discomfort on his back, and he’s likely to sit today’s game out, with Rob Holding taking his place in the first team. There is also the option of Jakub Kiwior, but I doubt if Arteta will be throwing him into the deep end. Hopefully, Saliba will be fit after the international break. Eddie Nketiah and Mo Elneny still remain unavailable for selection. 

Crystal Palace are still having a goalkeeping conundrum with Vicente Guaita still recovering from a hamstring injury and his backup option, Sam Johnstone, suffering from a calf problem. This would mean that the youngster, Joseph Whitworth, will have another run out in goal, and will be hoping to be protected by his defenders. Let’s just hope that the spirit of Antonio Adan has been vanquished from the Emirates, because the veteran Sporting CP goalie was the sole reason Arsenal isn’t playing Juventus in the quarterfinals of the Europa League. With Albert Sambi Lokonga currently on loan to Crystal Palace from Arsenal, he’s unavailable for selection. His fellow central midfield partners, Will Hughes and James McArthur are also doubts following bouts of illness.

Arsenal vs Crystal Palace Predicted Lineups

Arsenal: Ramsdale; White, Holding, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Xhaka, Partey, Odegaard; Martinelli, G. Jesus, Saka.

Crystal Palace: Whitworth; Clyne, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell; Schlupp, Milivojevic, Doucoure; Zaha, Edouard, Olise

Injury / Suspension Updates

Arsenal: Mohamed Elneny (knee), Eddie Nketiah (ankle), Takehiro Tomiyasu (knee), William Saliba (back)

Crystal Palace: Vicente Guaita (hamstring), Sam Johnstone (calf), Will Hughes (illness), James McArthur (illness), Albert Sambi Lokonga (ineligible)

Form Guide

Arsenal Form

  • Last Five Games: W W D W D
  • Last Result: Arsenal 1-1 Sporting CP  (Xhaka 19′ | Goncalves 62′)
  • Leading Goalscorer: Gabriel Martinelli (12)

Crystal Palace Form

  • Last Five Games:  D D L L L
  • Last Result: Brighton 1-0 Crystal Palace (March 15′)
  • Leading Goalscorer: Wilfried Zaha (6)

Gooner Daily predicts a 3 – 0 victory.

Kick Off – 3.00pm (GMT +1) at Emirates Stadium.

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