By Bulldog Drummond
This is one of those footballing days when quite a few of the Untold writing team from across the world, well, across England and Belgium, get together for a match. Which in turn means that once the match is over there isn’t going to be anyone around to write about it since we will then be travelling back to our various territories after the match.
Some make their way back to Belgium – a 24 hour round trip Walter said in his last post – and some back to the Midlands and a wild night of dancing. Others are excused the post-match duties.
So this piece is just about all we can offer today. Sorry to say that there won’t be a rapid response post-match write up nor even an evening reflection. Hopefully at least one of the Untold team will be recovered by Sunday morning.
Thus I thought I might prelude my occasional pre-match notes with a mention of something else: the inhuman fortress known as Diego Costa.
Until just now this was thought to be impregnable. Nothing he ever did on the pitch could be deemed to be wrong. No one could ever send him off. A law was passed saying no journalist could criticise him. But now having been sent off for maiming sixteen members of the crowd, beheading the ref and setting fire to the stadium, he has had his two-match ban extended to three games by an independent regulatory commission after admitting a charge of being an alien renegade from the planet Zxdvb. Or maybe that was not leaving the pitch in a proper manner when sent off. One or the other.
After committing more heinous crimes than a South American General on heat when faced with a group of people who fancy a taste of democracy, the Chelsekian was shown two yellow cards by the referee, Michael Oliver, a man who had clearly failed to read the standing orders from the FA about how the player was to be treated.
Costa expressed and indeed revealed a certain reluctance to leave the pitch, and a reaction at the referee’s decision, which involved biting off the arm of one of the assistant refs, and then using it as a shovel to dig a hole into which the ref himself was placed until he showed his remorse. Costa was offered a coffee and warned as to his future conduct.
Meanwhile back at Planet Arsenal Santi Caz was said to be not doing as well in his recovery mode as some had previously suggested. Indeed it looks like it might be a while longer before we see him back. “Santi is running again outside so it should be three to four weeks more training‚” Mr W said however, so it is not a total relapse. He also reported Jack Wilshere had returned to full training this week and “the first signs are quite good”. Tomas Rosicky is also back in full training.
Petr Cech is on the way back but this match may be a little premature for him. Aaron Ramsey is out with a thigh injury, Mathieu Flamini has a hamstring injury and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is still recovering from his knee injury. Tony Attwood twisted his knee slightly at a bop in Rugby on Thursday night, but should be ok for Radcliffe on Trent this evening, despite driving a very diddly widdly hired car.
The nearest return dates for footballers that are published are Oxlade-Chamberlain 20 April, Cazorla, Rosicky , Wilshire 30 April.
But because Rosicky and Wilshire are back in full training they are not considered injured by the people who do the injury league table. (Nor does it include dance injuries). This approach (of not including players who are back in training but not ready to play, and excluding dance injuries) applies of course not just to Arsenal but to all clubs and explains why quite often the number of players injured according to the table is not the same as the number of players not been selected for the team because of recent injuries.
Here’s the table.
|16||West Ham United||4|
|18||West Bromwich Albion||3|
This would leave us with a team of
Bellerin Mert Gabriel Monreal
Alexis Ozil Iwobi
On the beach we could then have Cech or Macey, Gibbs, Mert, Chambers, Giroud, Campbell, Theo, with Jeff Reine-Adélaïde as a backup if any miss the bus and can’t make it.
Moving on, if we take the number of cards given to teams to have some sort of relationship with the number of serious fouls committed (which is, I know, quite a leap in the dark) we have 34 yellows and four reds for Arsenal, as compared to 58 yellows and two reds for Watford.
Moving onto the crowd, the TV and newspapers have recently, and notoriously, picked out a single rather sad figure with a “Wenger out” banner and printed pictures of his banner endlessly. Now although the game is not live on TV they will have cameras at New Arsenal Stadium and so could provide a little balance by picking out our banner…
We shall look with interest to see if they do. And if they don’t you know we will – just for balance.
Looking at the stats and bits and pieces we see that Watford have lost their last three league matches, and might well be holding themselves in readiness for the FA Cup semi. They might also note that although they held up our progress, we have scored at least two goals in five of the last six games.
So Watford are now in 14th four points behind Chelsea.
|5||State Aid United||30||13||11||6||47||35||12||50|
|11||West Bromwich Albion||30||10||9||11||30||37||-7||39|
Part of this decline is that Watford have only won one of their last five away Premier League outings, losing the other four. They will probably keep the same team as they have had in recent games. Joel Ekstrand is said to be lacking match fitness and Tommie Hoban remains out. The last reports of Prödl was that he was ill.
One thing that is interesting about the table is that Arsenal obviously have a far worse forward line than anyone else in the universe (I know this because people keep writing to Untold to say this). Leicester however have the greatest attack the universe has ever known since the Big Bang. And that difference is … six goals. Thus a 6-0 win today could even up the balance a bit. I’d quite like that.
All we need to do is maintain the standard we had at Goodison Park and press on a bit more. On this topic Mr Wenger said, “What is important is that we play our eight games with complete commitment and passion, and see where we finish.” The Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores said, “…it is our ambition to win every single game.”
So there we are. And now because there won’t be more from Untold today, here’s some other stuff…
From the anniversary files (home page)
2 April 1989: Tony Adams scored to put Arsenal ahead, but then put into his own net in a 1-1 away draw with Man U. It was a run of seven without defeat which took Arsenal so close to Liverpool in the league table the season was decided in its final seconds.
2 April 2005: Arsenal 4 Norwich 1. Gilberto Silva returned after his long layoff with the back injury which it was feared might end his career. He went on to play over 80 more league games for the club.
Insult of the day (to the people whose comments we don’t publish). The insult of the day is also published on the home page daily.
I must discontinue your company (Much ado about nothing)
And Elsewhere.… again in case you never read the home page, we have the “Elsewhere” anniversary commemoration. Today it says,
It is the birthday of Sir Alec Guinness, born 1914, that most amazing actor from The Horse’s Mouth to George Smiley. From Kind Hearts and Coronets to Star Wars. We remember you always, most wonderful man.
- On our way to London; the 24 hours round trip to see a home match.
- “His games would result in suspension and retraining in virtually every other League.” Arsenal v Watford 2 April 2016; Match Officials.
- The rampage against reality and why having a nice stadium matters