By Bulldog Drummond
I’m late. Terribly sorry. You see there was this dance in St Neots, and there were these three sisters, and…
Anyway today we play Burnley.
It should be good.
Hello, Tony here. It seems Bulldog is a little overcome with events so I’m taking over for a moment. Sorry about that.
Anyway, according the rampant rampaging British press this morning, “A win for Arsenal would take them to within touching distance of the leaders” which is by and large a rather distasteful thought. I mean, does anyone want to touch them?
Fortunately for us, there are other distractions around this weekend including something up north at sometime, so we can get on with our lives in peace.
This is the 100th time we have played Burnley. We lead by 45 wins to Burnley’s 33, with 21 draws. Which reveals that back in the days when Tottenham won the league, Burnley won the league also. How times fly.
We ain’t lost to a team in the bottom half of the table this season, which of course is turned around by the aaa into the fact that Arsenal aren’t really a very strong team, because they can’t beat top teams.
“Ah, hang on” says I, “we thumped Liverpool and did over Man U.”
“Yes but they are not top sides,” which by and large seems to mean that if we beat a team they are not a top side, by definition.
Burney for this match appear to have two long term players out with knee injuries: Long and Marney. No one is out because of multiple cards (as this is not Liverpool, where that seems to be an habitual state of affairs). They could bring back Matt Taylor for the first time since August whence he had an Achilles injury. (That is a hell of a long time out with an Achilles. They take a while, and they are painful indeed – I know cos I’m just getting over mine – but even so. Did they forget the ice pack?) Their top scorer is Mr Ings with nine.
We on the other hand have a mega injury crisis – mega at least by Arsenal standards since no one is injured. Well, ok maybe Koscielny is and we are not sure if Szczesny is ok or not. And the Ox is long term, but actually he is the only long term.
Incidentally, amusingly the Guardian has Martinez on the beach today but he’s not, as far as I know, he’s in Rotherham, which has no beach.
So the question is, do we stick with the tried and tested, or do we bring some of the injured players back in order to give the tried and tested a rest.
I think we stick with the winning team, not least because we are not currently doing lots of mid-week matches.
So that means
Bellerin the fast, Mert the old, Gabriel the new, Monreal reborn
Coquelin the even more reborn, Cazorla the magical
Sánchez cutting in, Ozil the everywhere, Ramsey box to box
Giroud who never scores
Which means it is the Sánchez show, the Ozil show and the Caz show, and the Giroud show and… oh well, you get the picture.
With, on the beach,
Some of: Szczesny, Debuchy, Chambers, Gibbs, Flamini, Wilshere, Arteta, Rosicky, Gnabry, Walcott, Welbeck
And really that beach is the problem. It is over crowded and no one likes over crowded beaches.
Now to the form book. The most consecutive wins. People are starting to talk about Arsenal as record breakers, and yes we are, or rather were, and could be again, but not yet. The record for consecutive wins is…
14 held by Arsenal. That is the top division record, and the premier league record, and it has only ever been equalled (but never beaten) by three other clubs, all from the second division (and two of those were before the first world war and the other in 1951).
So for modern times, the Premier League and the top division it is Arsenal: 14 consecutive league wins between 10 February 2002 and 24 August 2002. A bit of a way to go yet, but we can still make it eight today.
Here’s the form guide so beloved of newspapers.
And here is another thing just emerging. We have two top scorers on 14: Giroud and Sánchez 14. Just think where we might have been without a Giroudian injury early on.
And thus Burnley.
Looking like relegation, one win and three draws in the last ten, but everyone is talking them up as the one team out of the bottom bunch who will escape. And we’ve all seen that team on form at the top being munched about by the scrabblers down the bottom, and the form book goes out of the window and lands in a puddle.
And they think it might be today because Burnley beat Man City.
But Burnley do have a problem. Everyone is talking up their manager (Sean Dyche) and with managers only lasting 35 seconds on average at the moment he could be moving on at the end of the season. Tottenham normally need a new manager in the summer, so he could be going there.
Actually Dyche seems a decent sort of cove and always says Arsène Wenger’s name with the accent (few managers do this) and calls him “a legend of the game” (as opposed to most managers who are legends in their own lunchtime) and he questions those who question Mr W. A stout fellow indeed.
As for our team, the world has woken up to the fact that the nonsense about going into the season with only three defenders is nonsense, as we had Coquelin, and Bellerin ready to explode onto the scene. (Plus in one real sense Monreal who is transformed this year). That’s one of the things that makes each season so interesting – who is it that we have seen around or heard of who is suddenly going to turn into a brilliant player.
Here’s another snippet. The BBC column on the game today calls the aaa the “phone-in warriors”. I love that phrase, and do wish I’d thought of it, but I shall at some future date, undoubtedly.
So we sit back and remember that Arsenal haven’t won at Burnley since 1970, during which season we won the Double. Now there is a thought.
Here’s the sequence notes:
- Burnley are unbeaten in the last four league games with Arsenal.
- But Burnley have only won once in 10 league games, and scored one goal in the last five.
- But they have not let in a goal in the last two home games.
- But half of Burnley’s 26 points have come against clubs currently in the top 10. Or put it another way, half of their points have come from teams in the bottom half.
- But they have let in 11 goals from corners and 17 from headers.
- But Sean Dyche has named an unchanged starting line-up in 16 games this season by far the biggest total in the league.
- But Danny Ings has gone six Premier League games without a goal.
That’s an awful lot of Buts. But I bet Arsenal have a few…
- The current Arsenal run is the best since Jan to March 2004 when we didn’t win the double but were Unbeaten.
- But actually we have the same record after 31 league games this season as they did last season (W19, D6, L6, Pts 63). So we have made no progress and Wenger should go!
- But we are the only team never to lose to a side in the bottom half. (W13, D3).
- But we score from set pieces (20 – the highest number in the league).
- If Giroud scores against he equals Emmanuel Adebayor’s record of scoring in seven Arsenal games in a row. Giroud has 10 goals in his last 10 games.
And that’s that I think.
A couple of anniversaries
11 April 1992: Paul Merson got a hat-trick as Arsenal beat Crystal Palace 4-1. It was the start of a five match run to the end of the season in which Arsenal scored 15 goals.
11 April 1998: Arsenal 3 Newcastle Utd 1. Manninger’s record of eight consecutive games without conceding ended on the 31st league game of the 2nd Double season. The second double: part 1, part 2, part 3.