A return to voodoo
By Bulldog Drummond.
Yes, it is indeed the ninth season that Untold Arsenal has been around to cover the end of the season.
Our first ever final match of the season was a 0-1 away win at Sunderland, and the main comment was that the team put out for that match had an average age of 20.
The results that day were
|Birmingham City||4-1||Blackburn Rovers|
|West Ham United||2-2||Aston Villa|
|Wigan Athletic||0-2||Manchester United|
Now what amazes me is that only the teams in bold are still in the Premier League this season. That is 11 teams out of 20. And if you remove Newcastle and Villa from the list (now going down) and throw in Middlesbrough (going up) that means 50% of next season’s Premier League were not in the Premier league of 10 years ago.
Now I know that fourth is not a trophy – but with this rate of churn, just staying in the league for ten years ought to get clubs a trophy. And we are set up for the 19th consecutive year in the Champions League (which is not a trophy of course, but try telling that to one of the Manchester clubs and Chelsea).
But there is something else I want to share before doing the full match preview. It comes from this end of season article from Untold on the day of the final game of the season nine years ago – the first end of season we covered.
“It was the most far-fetched plan ever, but after the tackle on Eduardo that nearly cost him a leg, a little group of Arsenal fans felt they just had to act.
“When one member of the group claimed to be able to put a curse on Birmingham, there was general disbelief – but no one objected.
“The reason was not just the tackle itself, but the clubs’ subsequent reaction – their decision to sneak the player who committed the tackle back into football after just three games, and their wholesale resistance to the idea from FIFA of an investigation of the tackle.
“There was no admission of guilt, no sorrow, just a totally self-centered attitude – and that is what upset us so much.
“Of course you might put it all down to coincidence, but since the Curse was announced three events have happened. First Birmingham’s managing director and co-owner were both arrested by police. Then the fraud squad turned up and took away much of the club’s paperwork in a dawn raid.
“And finally of course the club (which at the time of the Eduardo attack was not looking threatened by relegation) has gone down.”
So no in-fighting, no anti-Wenger, just good old fashioned voodoo. I think we should have more of that and I shall be talking to the team at Untold about introducing this in the future.
Anyway, moving on…
Although you probably know it off by heart, here’s the league table.
|1||Leicester Curiosity Shop||37||23||11||3||67||35||32||80|
|6||State Aid United||37||16||14||7||64||49||15||62|
As you know, a defeat for the Tinies and a win for us gives us second. Otherwise a win or draw for us gives us third. A defeat for us and a win for Man City gives us fourth. Most amusingly however is the fact that two of the three great money machines in English football will miss out on the Champions League next season (although that is not not getting a trophy because fourth is not a trophy), and utterly useless and hopeless Arsenal with the worst manager in the history of worst managers will be there.
Manchester Airport (now renamed following the deal in which in return for being given the state paid-for Stadium built for the Commonwealth Games, Ethiad Airlines agreed to put on more flights to and from Manchester Airport), Manchester Disjointed (which seems a better name than “united”) and Chelsea Impossible (“it is impossible to imagine that Chelsea won’t recover and get into the top four” as many journalists said earlier in the season), have not dominated as expected in the face of the onslaught from the Tinies and Leicester. (Leicester is renamed after a Charles Dickens novel for reasons that may become more apparent next season).
Still, never mind.
Today I proclaim that the team will be
Bellerin Koscielny Gabriel Monreal
Alexis Ozil Iwobi
If that is right, Jack makes his first start since the final day of LAST season. But another way of doing this would be to have Elneney and Ramsey in the middle – all depends on what Mr Wenger makes of Villa. Coquelin played in midweek against Villa under 21s so he might be rested.
Lurking on the beach in what I am told will be some sunshine, and based on the starting XI I’ve listed above, we may or may not have …
Oooooospina, Chambers, Gibbs, Ramsey, Elneny, Cazorla, Walcott
So we end the season with three injuries: Alex Ox and Mert who should be fit for the new season and poor Danny who is out until next year.
We’ve ended the season (before today’s games) with 42 yellow and four red cards while Villa have 75 yellow and three reds – quite a difference.
Villa also have injuries with Veretout (pelvis), Richardson (calf), Agbonlahor (lazy bugger who can’t be arsed), Hutton (knock), Clark (knock) and Amavi (knee) all out while to add to the fun Okore has been suspended by the club for being a very naughty boy. Cissokho is available after a ban and Gestede may return from injury.
In the build up to the game Mr Wenger once more pointed out how the journalists just go around and make up any old story that they feel like, and then get the person thus insulted to deny something that was never the case. This time it is the issue of an extension to his contract – there never was one, he has not signed one, and the journalists just made it all up. And then have the nerve to sit in front of him.
Aston Villa acting manager Eric Black made a couple of interesting comments too, saying, “We need to be disciplined and show an immense amount of energy. We must be switched on. The game means something to Arsenal – and it certainly should mean something to us too. It’s a big challenge this weekend but one we are looking forward to.”
Meanwhile Ozil needs three assists to break Henry’s record. All in one game? Could be.
Oh, and while I am at it, here is a chart from the BBC which I quite liked.
We are undefeated in 32 of the last 35 games against Villa in all competitions, and unbeaten in the last nine Premier League matches played. Also we generally score three or more goals at home against Villa (or rather we have done in the last eight games. But don’t worry if we are drawing at half time – that is the normal Villa thing. They then normally go on and lose. Indeed they have lost all of their last away games.
However just to show there are always two ways of seeing things, Arsenal have been winning at both half time and full time in their last five matches against Aston Villa. Villa have lost their last three away games 1-0, but the general predictions around for this match are for higher scores.
The last time Villa beat us at the Ems was on the opening day of the 2013-14 season. Only Chelsea have been more successful at the stadium, having won here four times. But that Villa victory in 2013 saw some of the most bizarre refereeing I have seen… However unless Tottenham are engaged in it, there is not going to be any Type III match fixing (in which a club influences a ref to fix the result of a match involving two other teams, for their own benefit) in this game.
Arsenal have won their final league match of the season in seven of the last eight years, drawing the other at Fulham in 2010-11. And there is the fact that Giroud scored his first goal in 16 league games last Sunday. And he has scored in each of his last five appearances against Villa in all competitions. Let the flood gates open.
Oh yes, and Alexis Sanchez has scored six goals in his last seven Premier League games.
As for Villa they avoided a club record 12th successive league defeat last week, by….. drawing 0-0 against Newcastle. Their last away win was the opening day of the season at Bournemouth. Imagine seeing that result and then deciding to buy an away season ticket. Only Derby County, (in a dreadful 2007/8 season) have won fewer matches in a top division season. And to cap it all Villa are the only team in the Premier League not to have scored more than two goals in a match in 2015-16.
And that’s about it from me for the season. We’ll have a final look at the Fair Play League and the end of season injury league in a few days time, but meanwhile I hope you have found something interesting, amusing, or even interesting in the match previews this season.
I hope to be writing these previews again next season. (There has been the suggestion that Untold might run previews of the summer’s international matches, to which I replied “but I know nothing about international football” which of course got the inevitable “so it will be just like the normal previews” – so you never know.)
Meanwhile, if you have been, thank you for reading.
Please note that the Untold team (including Walter, who has already made it in from Belgium) are having something of a massed get together today. This means the normal post-match review won’t be published. We will be back either later this evening, or Monday morning, depending on how the party goes.
Untold Arsenal has published five books on Arsenal – all are available as paperback and three are now available on Kindle. The books are
- The Arsenal Yankee by Danny Karbassiyoon with a foreword by Arsene Wenger.
- Arsenal: the long sleep 1953 – 1970; a view from the terrace. By John Sowman with an introduction by Bob Wilson.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football. By Tony Attwood, Andy Kelly and Mark Andrews.
- Making the Arsenal: a novel by Tony Attwood.
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal by Mark Andrews.
You can find details of all five on our new Arsenal Books page
New and recent series on the Arsenal History Society Site
- Arsenal in the 1930s – the new series has begun
- Arsenal in the 1970s – the complete review of every game
- Arsenal in the summer – the transfers, the friendlies, year by year
- Arsenal anniversaries – nearly 5000 entries
- The full index to all the series is on Arsenal History Society Web Site