Saturday, March 2, 2024

Report: Saliba out of City clash, season could be over

According to The Athletic, William Saliba will not be available for Wednesday’s match with Manchester City and looks set to also miss Chelsea’s visit to the Emirates on 2nd May.

The defender suffered a back injury six weeks ago and hasn’t been able to train since.

After Mikel Arteta’s pessimistic update on Friday, the news doesn’t come as a huge surprise. In fact, at this point, we’d say it’s pretty likely he’ll miss the rest of the campaign, something David Ornstein hints at in this morning’s report.

Clearly, it’s a blow for Arsenal. The defence has been porous in the Frenchman’s absence, failing to keep a clean sheet in five games and conceding nine goals along the way.

Unless the manager decides to try something radical – unlikely in our opinion – Rob Holding will again be trusted to partner Gabriel Magalhaes in the centre of defence as we look to shackle 48-goal Erling Haaland.

The Gunners head to Manchester with a five-point lead over Pep Guardiola’s side but need a win to ensure the title remains in our hands heading into the final five games. City currently have two games in hand.

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George Peace

Depressing. Ah well. Still been a great season, haven’t enjoyed one as much as this in a good while.

Thierry Bergkamp (non negotiable)

Been the most enjoyable season since 2008

Johnny 4 Hats

For me, it’s been the most enjoyable season since 2014.

I bought a Playstation 4 with Fifa that year.


Yep, we are on the right track, just need better squad depth next season.

If Saliba needs surgery we should just get it done now and start his rehab so he’s firing for pre-season (and get his contract sorted)


Still clearly a work in progress. Will be interesting to see what we do in the summer.


it ain’t over till it’s over


All we need is one of those frances Coqueline/Santi Cazorla moments.


I think it’s a shame this has come out at all but more so in the run up to the city game, last thing we need is another thing to worry about! I’m just going to go on in blissful ignorance and hope the good thing happens on Wednesday 🙏


Terrible news, Saliba was having a really good season.

Thierry Bergkamp (non negotiable)

One thing the last 6 weeks have done is, improve Saliba’s position when it comes to his contract renewal

Eric Blair

We’re going to have to get one of those old-school cheques you used to see for that, the ones that are the size of a car.

Funsho Patrick

😂 hilarious!!!


Disagree here- him being injured for an indeterminate amount of time means clubs are less likely to offer huge money that might tempt us to sell

A Different George

I think it is very unlikely he will go anywhere soon because playing for a title in England is exactly what a top player wants to do. But no one should doubt the contract he will receieve–I don’t think there is a more highly valued central defender under thirty, and certainly under 25, in the world.


Tierney, gab and white for a back three. Saka at wing-back. Suicide to not try something drastic against City given their attacking form and our defensive.

Crash Fistfight

Who plays right wing-back in that scenario?



Eric Blair

Left wing-back?

Nainsley Aitland Miles

Presumably Zinchenko.




I’ll put Nelson there

Santi’s Thigh Grab

Man of the match Martinelli?


White at Centre half, Saka at Right back, Trossard at right wing.




Yes let’s play one of our best attackers on the opposite side and in defense, surely wouldn’t be used as a cudgel should we underperform

A Different George

Saka has been one of the most dangerous players in the league on the left wing, and Martinelli on the right. Why would anyone screw that up out of fear? No one says we should ignore their quality and throw caution to the wind, but we cannot beat them by pretending we are West Brom or what your idea really looks like–I’m sorry to say this–Antonio Conte’s version of Spurs.


We’ve let in 7 in the last three games against far from prodigious attacks…if you think we can out score City with our current defence then I strongly disagree. Treat this game as business as usual and we all know what will happen. Having said that I can see Arteta gunning for a glorious defeat against his old team, rather than a pragmatic point.

Bleeding Gums Murphy

Saka is right wing. Martinelli on left


He’s watched all this season’s game in the reflection of his telly in the mirror!



Johnny 4 Hats

I adore Arteta as much as the next man.

But I heard that this injury was sustained at Fulham and then made worse in the Sporting game.

If that’s the case, I have no idea why Willow was anywhere near that Europa tie. He absolutely should not have been.

It’s really cost us.


Agree, madness to even play him in that game regardless of injury. He was also due to go away with France the week after. Should have just given him a rest.

A Different George

Nah, you’re assuming all sorts of things about his injury that are unlikely to be true (though neither of us knows for sure). You basically think it’s like a twisted ankle and if he had rested it would have gotten better. The more likely story is that his back hurts during a match and it wasn’t clear how long he could continue to play with the pain–and if he had sat out the Europa match, he would have gone off in the next. So, maybe an extra half of Prem football.


He shouldn’t have played in the Europa game – full stop.

Whether he aggravated an injury sustained at Fulham or if it was a new injury on the night is beside the point.

Johnny 4 Hats

I’ve never heard of an injury that works like that.

If you feel something, the best course of action is always to rest it.

If I put my back out, and then keep lifting furniture, it will get worse.

I don’t go “ah well, it would’ve gone again anyway. Pass me the chaise longue”.


Could well be. I do think the Arsenal medical staff will have been making the best decisions they could with the data they had though.


Yep – been a brilliant season and I think I can speak on behalf of most fans, when I say that I didn’t think we would win the league anyway, I just wanted to enjoy my football again.
Arsenal playing excellent football ✅
Emirates stadium an amazing atmosphere and team reconnecting with the fans

Sp*rs being Sp*rs

Let’s enjoy the rest of the season ride 👍🏾

Derek CT

I agree with most of what you’ve said and I know the league is a long shot, but the defeatist attitude is depressing man. City are not unbeatable. They’ve lost more games than we have against teams who aren’t nearly as strong as we’ve been this season, even without Saliba. Anything is possible. I know it’s the Etihad, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this season, and perhaps the most encouraging development to the team, is that you write them off at your peril. C’mon Gunners!!


I admire the optimism, but it is hard not to fear for them after shipping so many goals recently. And against the likes of Southampton and West Ham to boot. Miracles can happen but in terms of upsets it will even surpass Anfield 89 if they win it.


Well to put things into perspective Spurs have gotten 3 points from and even prevented them from scoring. They were even 2-0 up at halftime at the Etihad.
We are miles better than Spurs, the players have clearly been mentally affected by the pressure which is causing us make more and more mistakes. Players just need to go back to basics and focus on their game. We can beat City at the Etihad, if the fans, the players have to believe.




Are you in Connecticut?


Do none of you remember Anfield and the 2 nil win??


Yep. Don’t think Michael Thomas is still on the books though unfortunately


I remember it, but Arsenal did something different for that game by playing O’Leary as a sweeper. This contained Liverpool’s attack giving Arsenal the chance to hit on the break. Perhaps play White alongside Holding and Gabriel with Saka as wing back.


Different era, different teams, different tactics.

The analogy that people refer to with that game is Arsenal having the belief to achieve something that everyone else has deemed impossible – not the actual team formation.


We are so fucked…….all the best boys



Luke James

Honestly so gutted, but at the same time not dissappointed. We’ve been so good this year, and City just happens to have a cheat-code in Haaland.

Would have LOVED a parade down Upper Street 🥲


This game has sp*ds end of last season vibes. Going there and ‘needing’ a win with a leaky defence, this could be over before half time again. Gonna be a really tough watch.

Crash Fistfight

Except, we didn’t need to win against Spurs, and yet tried to do so, which left us open at the back, playing a high line with Rob Holding.

As Tony Stark would say, “not a great plan”.


Yeah, hence the ‘needing’.
Arteta wanted to win last season, but this he has to..

Eric Blair

If we’re still in it at half time I will be happy.


1. Try not to be stressed.
2. Be stressed. A lot.
In reality, we’ve got so much more than expected out of Saliba this season. I say let the boy heal up and be prepared for the years to come.


It aint over until its over..until Citeh beat us at their ground…hold on you gunners


this is a bit of simplification – we suffer with him out, but the worst def performances came due to a set of absences – either him and Zinchenko, or him and Granit.
provided both are back for City, i think we have it in us to give it a go.
just got to get rid of stupid mistakes..


On Zinny’s current form, not sure he should be playing at all, regardless of who else is fit.

A Different George

Well, first, the West Ham game showed what happens without Zinchenko. And more important, I think that Saliba’s absence means that Zinchenko’s errors look much worse because Partey and Gabriel cannot cover as well. And, against Southampton, that was made even worse by Xhaka’s absence. We don’t have the luxury of replacing Rodri with Gundogan or Dias with Laporte.


Did West Ham show that ? I don’t see how it did. We were brilliant for half an hour v West Ham – no one was thinking we were missing Zinny up to the point we gave the penalty away.
After that….the momentum of the game switched away from us, and like at Anfield, we couldn’t get it back.
KT gave nothing away when we were under pressure v West Ham and created the only chance we had from the point it went to 2-2. Neither of those are things you could say about Zinny v Liverpool.



I mean players like that, with their determination, fight and leadership could really screw up your chances of victory.

Honestly, some of you on here……🙄

Man Manny

A publication in France had announced this some two weeks ago. I sensed it was the truth that his season is over and that he might need surgery.
Focus should now be on getting him ready for the beginning of next season. Secondly, we should bridge the yawning gap between him and Holding in the summer. EPL & CL football beckon. We need a stronger team.

Eric Blair

I agree, and that kind of thinking can be applied to a lot of positions on the pitch. For a sustained title challenge we need far greater quality in depth.

Man Manny

Absolutely. We were always a key injury or two away from trouble this season. Our first eleven is a match for any team in England, but the quality drops sharply after that. Vieira is no replacement for Xhaka; Tierney is good but does not offer what Zinchenko does. Ramsdale, for all his occasional brain fart, is a far better keeper than Turner. Saka has no deputy at all. I think Trossard plays better as a false nine or behind the striker rather than the right flank. Same could be said about some other positions City, on the other hand, seem… Read more »


Going to Etihad. I’ll make sure to give Haaland a dirty look. That will show him!


Carry a sign board with lord bendtner and yaya sanogo photos on them! That’ll show him!!


Just hold up a mirror to him. That mug would scare anyone


He’s got a pair of lips that would have Mick Jagger speed dialling his LA plastic surgery.


You couldn’t do mankind a massive favour and two foot Rodri into the next millennium as well, could you?

Hopefully Xhaka will make tomorrow night to do just that; a lovely consolation if defeat beckons and the game is up.

City fans wincing and Rodri screaming as his season and career comes to an hilarious end in row Z.

A past caring Xhaka telling the ref to FUCK OFF YOU CORRUPT CUNT as he walks without even bothering to look at the red card.

Oh wouldn’t it be luvverly.


I think we were unlucky to lose both Tomiyasu and Saliba at the same time. Else Ben White would have slotted seamlessly into that Right sided CB role with Tomiyasu going to the Right Back position Holding has been a serious handicap to our playing style (although he has performed to the best of his abilities). Arteta tried to resolve it by pulling Partey closer to Holding to start attacks but that creates a large gap in the MF which blokes like Vieira (who is having a terrible season) or Xhaka (he is slow) can’t cover. So it is a… Read more »

Eric Blair

Interesting analysis, and it also points to how we’ve overachieved this season and how good a job Arteta and the club have done.

Onwards to next season and with the CL we will need an upgrade in both the first team and squad positions. Any new purchases have to be quality and ready to go, more Trossard/Jorginho than Vieira/Kiwior.

A Different George

I think it’s a bit early to write off Kiwior.

Eric Blair

It certainly is too early to write him off, but in the midst of a defensive crisis he hasn’t even been mentioned as a possible solution by anyone and when he’s appeared he looks far from ready for the first team. That’s what needs to be remedied, squad players who everyone trusts to do the job (Trossard) to the required level. Otherwise, what’s the point in them being in the squad? It’s the Sambi situation all over again. These players should be out on loan getting experience and then we can integrate or sell, not just squad fodder and warm… Read more »


He needs to go out on loan.

Let him get the learning fuck ups in the Premiership / Championship out of his system for someone else – not us


Do you think we try and do something different for City given this news? I’m not convinced Arteta will but perhaps making some tweaks to bring some unpredictability wouldn’t be worst thing.

I’m not sure making wholesale changes is the best thing but this might be cool:


Invert Partey into midfield in the build up, get KT tight up on Mahrez, have our most technical players in the centre.



Eric Blair

A crazy plan, yet it looks totally doable! I too would like Arteta to just go for it and roll the dice on this one. If we set up as usual I’m afraid for what might happen.


The one risk of doing this is you totally ruin holding. He looked shell shocked the other night so much in first half I worried for his mental health and even if we got a result against city could you use holding again?
Could we go 3 cbs, white holding and gabby. Holding job to man mark and head away..


Definitely not for me…

A Different George

I sure hope not. Why would you play Partey, White, and Zinchenko out of the positions they have played all year and also bench Xhaka? With three days to train for it? Did you watch Newcastle v Spurs?


How about three at the back -White, Gabriel, Holding, Partey- right WB, Tierney- left WB, Jorginho, Odegaard, Trossard, Saka, Martinelli. Arteta needs to be a different arteta this time around. Normal Arteta would be predictable.


Devastated, what’s most concerning is how the defence looks all over the place when under pressure since big Willie has been out.
Praying for a Haaland off day and us to take our chances.

Lee Scratch Perry Groves

Let’s hope the players haven’t thrown in the towel the way some fans seem to have done.

Alan Sunderland

Agreed, long way to go yet. I don’t get the certainty that city are going to win 8 games in a row. Some of the comments on here are embarrassing. We have been the better team against them the last 3 times we’ve met. I’m looking forward to Wednesday, think we can beat them and shut every cnut on the bbc and talksport up in one hit.


I swear if we do it this season, I will not stop gloating about it to rival fans for the next ten years.
I say next ten years because obviously we are gonna win 5 more league titles and a couple champions league wins in that time. Obviously 😛

Alan Sunderland

As you should mate, rival fans have been giving us plenty for years. I can promise you I’m going to be fucking insufferable.


Some commentators were vilified when they questioned why he was being risked for Europa, when he should be preserved for the league. Oh well. KSE will ensure we have depth next season because that has been our Achilles this season.


We’ve had an excellent Premiership campaign hindered by the fucking Europa league.

Our squad, as I did say, wasn’t big enough to hit both competitions.

I Iove Arteta to bits, but he was spreading a great Premiership 18 man squad way too thinly by risking them unnecessarily in the Europa, given the incredible opportunity we have (had?) in the title race. Self inflicted.

We may yet still do it, but fuck my old boots we make life difficult for ourselves.


Titles done and I never believed we’d win ever 2nd is good anyway but we need a 1b summer spend no joke we now know what we need to compete and succeed


I keep seeing people suggest Partey should go to RB so Ben White can play CB. But I haven’t seen any suggestion that Arteta might consider Zinchenko or Tierney at right back (obviously with the other retaining their natural position at left back). Sounds crazy on the face of it, but Arteta did play the right-footed Tomiyasu at left back vs. Salah to account for Salah’s tendency to cut inside. Could that work against Grealish? Maybe?

I miss santi cazorla

He did that coz, zinchenko was injured and tomi is better at playing in the modified than tierrany

A Different George

And Tomiyasu is as two-footed as we have seen since Santi (and plays the left centre-back position for Japan).


Oh well, it will be harder next year after City have signed him and Saka on £350k a week


Fucking stupid pissing poxy Europa League.

Eric Blair

I get what you’re saying, but he’s going to have to get used to playing twice a week next season when we make it to the final of the CL.


Hopefully next season we’ll have a bigger squad, but the fact remains that – as I warned – none of our first XI should have been anywhere near that (dangerously overwatered) pitch against Sporting that night.

Two fucking season ending injuries within seconds of each other.

You couldn’t make it up.

I miss santi cazorla

Play partey in there and start Jorginho in the middle
But knowing Arteta, he would stick with Holding. The manager is too adamant to make such changes; like in those 2 losses and a draw against everton, city and the bees, Nketiah-Martinelli Partnership was not working, he put Trossard up-front only when Nketiah got injured and suddenly boom! Martinelli started scoring again.


It is unfortunate to see so much negativity around Rob, holding him responsible for the recent defensive frailties. While it is reasonable to say he affects the attacking aspects of the team due to his limitations, it is important to see he has done a great job slotting in defense. Rather, most of the goals leaked have been due to individual errors by others. e.g., Gabriel/Partey (both goals against West Ham), Ramsdale (Soton), and Zinchenko.


I honestly don’t get the anti Rob Holding rhetoric or any of the hilariously naive concoctions these clowns are putting together that will, apparently, render Haaland and Co to an instant goal drought. Of course, what has also (inevitably) gone way under the radar with these people is that we have already managed this season to prevent Haaland scoring at the Etihad with a certain Rob Holding man marking him for most of the game. Still, never mind. The Holdingless back four/ back five/ back three (back ten anyone?) creations are very very funny. My favourite by far at the… Read more »


Holding has been better this last period than for several seasons. He has a good awareness of the play (unlike Mustafi). He is not bad at the ball. But his slowness is his great liability. With the fantastic forwards premier league teams have these days, you simply cannot have slow defenders. They are forced to either watch or to commit fouls. In the heat of tonight’s proceedings, the latter is very likely.


Back operations aren’t ideal, especially for such a young athlete. I hope he can heal without one, but either way his health is the most important thing. If he’s out for the rest of the season we’ll just have to deal with it. It’s tough with both him and Tomi out and makes it hard for our defence in the run-in, but we need to stay positive. This team has been a joy to watch and never gives up, neither should we.


I remember 3 defeats on the bounce last season, all our heads were down and we went to Chelsea midweek. Everyone expecting us to get beaten comfortably, myself included. I only watched the game out of habit, and yet we pulled out a cracking performance and won. I’m in the same frame of mind for City, I don’t we’ll get anything and I’m slightly worried we’ll get battered the way we’ve been defending lately. But who knows, we might just turn up on the day.

Eric Blair

It’s the hope that kills you!


Back surgery scares me. Hear lots of stories of people getting it and never being the same. Praying it’s not a career ender – for his sake and Arsenal’s.


Simple: We have to protect the defense better!

Which means playing a double pivot with Partey and Jorginho and stand a bit deeper. We can hit them on the counter with our blistering pace! I would even go as far and play Trossard in the middle, flanked by Saka and Martinelli.


Trossard in the middle with Rodri booting him up in the air all evening?

He might be better served staying on the bench and then running at their defence from the left wing and cutting inside late on.

As per usual.


Eddie and Jesus are no eagles either, so either one will get bullied in the air.

Eddie is coming back, Jesus was wasteful last friday. And Leo is just Leo. So at this moment in time, I’d go with Leo.




As Benjamin White’s injury at the end of the last campaign, this could be decisive. I know many fans were not convinced by Pablo Mari, but he is still better than Holding. It was irresponsible not to recall Mari from Monza in the winter window. Instead, we bought Jakub Kiwior, who I guess is promising, but has barely been given playing time. Sympathetic Holding is too slow. He will foul Haaland Wednesday and be sent off.


Mari better than Holding? 😂

You reckon Mari could have kept Diego Costa in his back pocket in an FA Cup Final?


Arsenal could still be champions with one point at the Ethiad. I think 0-0 is a very unlikely result, so 10 men in defence will not work. We must field a balanced team. We might be overrun in midfield. Arsenal basically have a two man midfield – Partey and Xhaka. They will be tasked with taming City’s midfield, probably de Breune, Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and Mahrez. In my opinion, we should play 3-4-3, maybe with Jorginho and Nelson completing the midfield. If we play with three or four in midfield, Xhaka should still be on the left flank. In this line-up, there… Read more »


Yeh when Saliba went off so did our title challenge, having had such a solid centre back pairing even if they did made mistakes we have suddenly gifted goals to our opposition, pep will know our weakest link in defence and he will be up against a player breaking all goal scoring records, please Robbie don’t get carded early in game, get the confidence on the ball to play it out, its obviously down to our defence and Ramsbo, Man c do concede but after our 0-2 collapses away from home i can only try to think of having a… Read more »

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