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Comparing points and goals with this moment last season

By Walter Broeckx

As we have nothing else to do for the moment apart from checking arsenal.com every now and then to see if by any chance we still buy someone I thought it would be nice to have a look at how we and the rest of the teams that are fighting for the European places are doing compared to last season.

And this leads to a few surprising findings to be honest. Well I thought they were a bit surprising in some cases. So all the numbers you are going to see are based on the league table after 24 games for the teams involved.

We will look at the points won till now, the goals scored, the goals conceded and the goal difference. I think the format will speak for itself. You have the points (goals) from 2012 and on the right from those points(goals)  you have the points(goals) from this season and then the difference between those two season.

Let us start with the most important table: the points.

Points Points
Team

2012

2013

+/-
Man U

55

59

4

Man C

57

52

-5

Chelsea

43

46

3

Tottenham

50

42

-8

Everton

30

41

11

Arsenal

40

38

-2

Liverpool

39

35

-4

Manchester United has improved its number with 4. And by coincidence Manchester City has 4 points less than last season. Trading places one could say. Chelsea has 3 points more than last season so they seem to be on the up a bit.

Then we come to the two teams that have gone backwards most and improved most. Last season the neighbours had 8 points more than they have now. Last season Arsenal was 10 points behind at this moment, now only 4. But the trophy for the most improved team this season goes to Everton. They have won 11 points more this season compared to last season.

Arsenal have two points less than last season. The points we lost against Liverpool are missing and that would have made it the same compared to last season. Ah well. And speaking of Liverpool they have 4 points less than last season at this moment.

Next item is the goals scored. And some strange things here.

Goals scored
Team

2012

2013

+/-
Man U

59

59

0

Man C

63

45

-18

Chelsea

44

49

5

Tottenham

44

41

-3

Everton

24

37

13

Arsenal

46

48

2

Liverpool

28

42

14

Because as you can see Manchester United scored the same number of goals as last season. I never would have thought this to be honest. So the RVP impact might not be that big? They would have scored those goals anyhow? Must say I am bit puzzled by this.

If we then look at Manchester City we see a big difference. They have scored 18 goals less compared to last season! That is a big drop. The only other team to have scored less goals is that other team from North London. Only 3 goals less so not that dramatic as the drop from  Manchester City.

Arsenal has scored 2 goals more than last season. So despite missing RVP we do score more goals. Now that is a bit encouraging I would say. Also Chelsea has scored 5 more goals this season.

But the teams with the biggest improvement are the teams from Liverpool. The blue half scored 13 goals more and the ref half had the most improved scoring record with 14 goals more. Getting half rid of Carroll made the difference I think.

Move on to goals conceded. Prepare yourself for a surprise. Certainly after our last game.

Goals conceded
Team

2012

2013

+/-
Man U

24

31

+7

Man C

19

19

0

Chelsea

29

24

-5

Tottenham

25

29

+4

Everton

27

27

0

Arsenal

34

29

-5

Liverpool

21

30

+9

In short there are only two teams that have improved defensively of all those teams. And those teams are  Arsenal and Chelsea . Probably to many people’s amazement we are the only team that has conceded fewer goals compared to last season in the top 7.

There are two teams who have done as good as last season and those teams are Manchester City (an Italian coach anyone?) and Everton.

And all the other teams have conceded more goals. The lot down the road conceded 4 more goals.

Manchester United has conceded 7 more goals and Liverpool even 9 goals.

This leads me in to thinking that more goals are scored this season and even the top teams concede more goals than last season. Maybe there is some truth in that they say that the smaller teams can buy better strikers these days resulting in more goals scored even against the top teams?

Yesterday I also saw a statistic flash on my computer saying that from the 29 goals we conceded 14 can be attributed to a major individual error of a Arsenal player. Don’t have the numbers behind that but it sure feels that way. That is almost half of those goals.

To finish we will take the goal difference. As this is what could decide the final place in the league table. Manchester United knows all about that.

Goal difference
Team

2012

2013

+/-
Man U

35

28

-7

Man C

44

26

-18

Chelsea

15

25

10

Tottenham

19

12

-7

Everton

-3

10

13

Arsenal

12

19

7

Liverpool

7

12

5

And so we see that Manchester United now has the best goal difference but that this difference has gone down by 7 goals compared to last season. The numbers for Manchester City are more dramatic as they have gone down to only +26 and that is 18 goals worse than last season at this time.

The third best goal difference is for Chelsea. And that is a major improvement with some 10 goals.

Arsenal has the 4th best goal difference of the teams we took in this survey. Our goal difference is currently at +19 and that is 7 goals better than last season.

The goal difference for Liverpool and that former Middlesex team is +10. For Liverpool that is an improvement with 5 goals but for the latter it is 7 goals worse than last season.

And again Everton is the most improved team in this as they now have a positive goal difference of +10 compared to a negative -3 last season. But it still is the lowest goal difference of them all.

The final conclusion for Arsenal is rather surprising. We scored more goals, we conceded fewer goals and still we got less points. Not a big difference but still….

Last season we were at this stage 10 points behind the third placed team, this season 8 points. Still a big gap to bridge. The gap to 4th place is 4 points so not a  complete disaster but still some catching up to do.

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A game of slips and bounces

By Walter Broeckx

Slip sliding away sang the singer a few years ago. And that is exactly what Sagna did in the first minutes of the game.  Any sensible person who has seen this goal can only say that if Sagna doesn’t slip nothing happens at all.  We can moan all day and all night (better do it on other blogs where they like moaning, so you could stop reading now – and don’t say I didn’t warn you) but how a player slipping up has anything to do with tactics, manager, boardroom is beyond me.

Or do some of you think that Wenger says to Sagna before the game:  “just slip up when you want.” Of course not. Sometimes shit happens as Podolski said earlier this month.  That goal was just a lucky goal. First for the slip and then for the bounce of the foot of Mertesacker that changed the direction of the ball so that Szczesny could do nothing about it anymore. So two lucky breaks (in fact could say 3) for Liverpool for that goal.

We then had chances enough to score a goal ourselves. Everybody thought Theo had scored but Reina made a stunning safe just seconds after we conceded.  Later Reina did the same with a curling effort from Walcott. Meanwhile Szczesny was trying some fancy footwork that made a few hearts skip a beat.  We were lucky that it lead to nothing.

We had to open up and that lead to Liverpool creating a few chances themselves on the counter. They have good players for such a game with Suarez and Sturridge. But the chances for Arsenal were not converted. Giroud, Podolski, Theo, all had a few chances but no end product.

In the mean time Gibbs got injured and had to go off. Santos came in his place. And he is the scapegoat for the fans this season.   Going in 0-1 behind was not the correct reflection of the game. A draw would have been fair but football is not about being fair.

The second half was one way traffic. Liverpool was forced back and Arsenal did the attacking. My match commentator was just saying that Liverpool almost hadn’t been near Szczesny in the second half when disaster struck again. Henderson went past Mertesacker, Santos tussled with Henderson and then came Ramsey with a great block on the attempted shot from Henderson. But Murphy’s law struck again as the ball bounced from Ramsey against the knee of Santos and then fell in front of the feet of Henderson who couldn’t believe his luck and could roll the ball in the empty net.

Many teams would have crumbled. But not Arsenal. No the team picked themselves from the ground,  dusted themselves off and refused to die.

The team responded and how. Wilshere with a perfect free kick and Giroud headed home. 1-2 and we didn’t stop. A flowing move over the ground and Giroud pushed the ball to Theo who fired a rocket past Reina from the right. The ball was in the net before Reina realised what had happened.  2-2 and we still had some 25 minutes to make the winning goal.

And then we just couldn’t produce that winning goal. Again chances enough. Podolski, Walcott, Giroud even Mertesacker all came close to very close.  And only in the extra time when Santos misplaced a ball on the halfway line giving a chance to Liverpool for Suarez.  And Szczesny made a really great save to prevent us losing the game.  That would have been very harsh but we know football is like that sometimes.

So what did we learn today? We must do something about the slipping up of players. We must make sure that when the ball bounces around it doesn’t end up in front of a player of the other team.   Apart from that we were the better team. And we really should have won the game.

But this is the way it goes. Games can be won with brilliant football. Games can be won with great goals. But points can be dropped by one player slipping up. Goals can be scored from an unlucky bounce of the ball.  And sometimes you cannot score enough to make up for those bad things.

That is sometimes how it goes in a football game.  I remember most and for all that the team didn’t lay down when 0-2 down. They fought back against bad luck. They showed character. They fought for what looked a lost cause.  Surely we can’t be that unlucky in each game?

We could have made a big step today but as it is nothing really changes in the league table.  Chelsea and the totts also had a draw today. Only Everton won their game.  So all in all the other results went our way a bit.

Now a last note to the kit man: screw in bigger studs next time please.

Arsenal ticket prices; a response from the fans

By Tony Attwood

As you may know I am a committee member of AISA – the Arsenal Independent Supporters Association.

AISA has put out the following statement about Arsenal’s announcement on ticket prices, which I would like to share with Untold readers who are not AISA members.

We are pleased that Arsenal have made an early announcement that ticket prices for all supporters will not increase for the 2013-14 season. This reflects what we said to the Club back in November, and we hope that progress is also made to other related and important issues discussed then and subsequently i.e.

* More support for season-ticket holders, including a staged-payment scheme

* Improvements in what is on offer for younger supporters at the Emirates Stadium

* Recognition of the commitment and dedication of supporters who follow Arsenal at away matches throughout the UK and beyond, week-in and week-out

* More cheaper tickets for home supporters at the Emirates Stadium

* A review of the club’s policy for senior citizens who take up cheaper season tickets but are forced to move to a different part of the stadium.

AWAY TICKET PRICES

Liverpool and Man City supporters have received publicity recently regarding their complaints about the £62 ticket price charged to them at Arsenal.  Away ticket pricing raises separate and discreet issues, contrary to the impression created by the headlines. Arsenal supporters have already had to pay similar ticket prices this season at Chelsea (£59), QPR (£55) and even Man City (£51). Arsenal supporters will also recall the £70 tickets at Villarreal a few years back in the Champions League.

AISA’s response to the noises coming from our friends at the Etihad and Anfield is to agree in general terms that ticket prices are too high. At our January meeting we debated whether there should be a standardisation of prices charged to away supporters, irrespective of the team supported. A new and reputedly massive tv contract for Premier League football is about to be signed and the FSF, the national supporters organisation, believes that some of the income from this contract should be used to reduce ticket prices for all away supporters.

Away fans are seen by most as amongst the most loyal, so is it right that supporters of category A teams routinely pay more to watch their team than supporters of category B and C teams? Why should Arsenal supporters travelling to, say, Wigan be charged more than QPR supporters pay to watch their team when both sets of supporters are doing exactly the same thing – loyally following their team to an away game, with the same travel costs. Is it time to introduce a greater degree of uniformity by way of a cap on away ticket pricing so that, irrespective of which team you support, there is a maximum price that can be charged to away supporters?

Those against such a move refer to current rules which state that away supporters must be charged the same price as home supporters in comparable seats, and there are home supporters who argue that, if there were a cap on away ticket prices, it would be wrong if it led to home supporters paying more than away supporters.

All supporters will have their views, and we would like to hear them. Your views will help formulate the AISA policy as regards away ticket pricing.  Please let us know whether you are in favour of a cap on away ticket prices, possibly equalisation, or have any views that you wish to express. Email us at ticketing@aisa.org

Aisa’s web site is www.aisa.org and from there there is a link to the membership page, in case you wish to join.

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Arsenal v the Royal Borough. Plus Billy Fury, Mr Bergkamp and King John.

Arsenal v Liverpool

By Billy the dog McGraw

Liverpool is a far off diminutive principality of little importance.  It was founded by the most incompetent king in English history, King John, in 1207, who made it a Royal Borough and over the next 350 years grew at such a rate that by 1550 it had a population of 500 covering seven streets.  Wild celebrations followed.

But still, despite its status of Nonentity of the North there were battles fought in and around the borough during the Civil War, and even a Siege of the Seven Streets in 1644 which lasted two and a half weeks.  No one noticed.

Liverpool will always be associated with slavery, with the first slave ship sailing proudly from Liverpool in 1699 and it was on the back of slavery that Liverpool grew.  It is no coincidence that its first docks were built in 1715 to accommodate the evil trade.

The Slave Trade brought the economic good times to Liverpool and by the 19th century half the world’s trade went through the parish.  When the trade was made illegal it was replaced by the Hub Cap Trade.

People who live in Liverpool are known as Liverpudlians, giving the name to their club of Liverpuddle.  They are also known as Scousers, which derives from the colloquial 18th century term for Slave Traders.

Its most famous export was Billy Fury for which it became European Capital of Culture in 2007, although the committee later conceded it was all a big mistake as they meant to give the title to Stavanger in Norway.

Parts of Liverpool are designated World Heritage Sites, although the football ground of Liverpool is not.  However Liverpool has the distinction of being the only football team in Britain to have been owned by the State, as when the nationalised banks took the club over and then tried to sell it to the Americans.

With such thoughts in mind I approached Dennis Bergkamp at the Enfield Tap, a hostelry opposite the now flooded allotments.  After a brief resume of what to do about potato rot we considered the fixture.

As Dennis said Arsenal have scored more goals this season without RVP than they did by the same stage last season with RVP.  “So me old mucker,” said Dennis in that lilting Dutch accent of his, “selling Robin was good news.  We get money and we get more goals.”

Liverpool have had another of their famous cup defeats of late – you might recall them losing to Northampton a while back – this time it was the mighty  Oldham.   It proved what we always knew – Liverpool has little in the way of youth policy (but see note on Arsenal’s youth policy below).

Life in the league isn’t much better however as Liverpool’s total number of league wins away from home since September seems to be rather small.  Trouble is we don’t normally beat Liverpool, so something has to give.

Dennis then gave me the latest from Mr Wenger.  Vermaelen is fit so either  Mertesacker or Koscielny will drop out.  Koscielny hasn’t been as dominant as last season, but that is probably because he hasn’t had a long run of games.

An interesting point, said Dennis, is that Ramsey is changing his game, undoubtedly under instruction from Mr Wenger.  Coquelin is still injured and Diaby is a doubt so it looks like Ramsey will be in the team again with Wilshere and Cazorla.

Which gives us something like this:

Szczesny

Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs

Ramsey, Cazorla, Wilshere

Walcott, Giroud, Podolski

What is happening is that Walcott is moving into the middle much more, and Giroud is having to learn to work around this.  That’s no bad thing.  Pires made his famous comment about the left wing (“It gets a bit crowded over there”) while learning to move into the middle to make way for Henry.  But when he got used to the idea, it certainly worked.

Oxlade-Chamberlain should have another appearance from the beach and Arshavin will sit in a coat ten times too big for him.

And in other news…

Arsenal beat Fulham in the fourth round of the youth cup 2-1.  The team was

  • Deyan Iliev
  • Hector Bellerin
  • Zac Fagan
  • Isaac Hayden
  • Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill
  • Alfred Mugabo
  • Jack Jebb
  • Kristoffer Olsson
  • Anthony Jeffrey
  • Serge Gnabry
  • Chuba Akpom

And in the Next Gen series Arsenal will play Inter Milan in the first knock out round, having come second in the group stages.

So there we are.  Everything you didn’t need to know about anything.  As for the game I predict Stefan will arrive three minutes after kick off and force Tony to stand up to let him pass, just as the first goal goes in.  Fortunately there will be several more after that.

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English football enters last chance saloon as Parliament issues final deadline for reform

By Tony Attwood

There’s no Ministry of Football in Britain, but there is a Ministry of Culture, Media and Sport and it has been running a Select Committee.  That Committee has clearly had enough of the Football Association (endlessly tainted by its own incompetence and its association with Fifa), and the Premier League (endlessly tainted by its inability to get its members financial affairs under control, and its association with Uefa).

In July 2011 the Ministry produced a report on football – a report which Untold Arsenal (through the hard work of Phil Gregory) gave evidence – evidence that was (we were delighted to see) made it into the final report.  The Committee has now attacked these august bodies, deploring their failure to sort of finances and to increase the influence of fans following that 2011 report.

The Ministry has now said that unless some fairly major changes occur then the UK government will pass legislation to sort things out.

The notion of the FA changing anything seems highly unlikely, and the chance of it becoming more representative, introducing tough rules on finances, and increasing the influence of supporters on how clubs are run is somewhere below zero.   Likewise the advent of a transparent set of finances seems a billion miles away. As does a notion of football “driven from the grassroots”.

In particular, he said, the committee was very disappointed with football’s response to the call for a new licensing system run by the FA to bring some sanity to football’s overheated finances.  The last set of reforms proposed went only about 1% of the way of what is demanded now, and they have been on the table since 2005.

In the sort of semi-crazed statement that politicians are famous for the committee wants the FA to go back to what it was before the Football League was introduced in the 19th century – “an over-arching regulator for the game, able to dictate long-term strategy and direction.”   Can you imagine the Premier League ever giving in to that?   They would, in a trice, remove themselves from the FA, and set up their own competitions, inviting the rest of Europe to join them.

The MPs are of course right in saying that the Premier League has gained so much power that “the regulated [are] controlling the regulator”.  But that’s where we are.  Whoever heard of any millionaires giving up power?

MPs now say that  government should set up a working group on the issue of fan involvement by August of this year, sort out the funding of Supporters Direct.  In his evidence relating to Supporters Direct, which promotes democratic supporter ownership and involvement in clubs, Peter Scudamore said this involves the league asking “20 owners to fund an organisation whose avowed intent in some cases is to remove the owners of the clubs that funded them in the first place”.
What is even more bizarre is the fact that MPs were embarrassed over the 2018 World Cup bid which got two votes (England and Australia), and yet still want the FA (which ran the bid) to be central to its thinking.   The FA is called dysfunctional by MPs, which is about right.  But can it really be reformed?

As for the Premier League it says it has made progress, but until something stops player wage inflation, and deals with the ability of a country-owned club like Man City, or an individual owned club like Chelsea, to have vast sums of money for players, there will be no real progress on anything.  The Committee did at least say that the Premier League’s own FFP rules would not go far enough to satisfy it.

In a joint statement, the FA, the Football League and the Premier League said: “The football authorities continue to work towards the final approval and implementation of the governance reform proposals as outlined in February 2012. Significant headway has already been made on many of these proposed reforms, not least on sustainability and transparency.

“The remaining reform proposals are the subject of consultation within the game and we are confident that the necessary progress will be made.”

Which leads one to think of phrases such as “Sweet FA”.

The report’s statement that “As the governing body of football in England the Football Association should take the lead in decision-making for the game,” cannot be taken seriously as long as the FA associates itself with the utterly corrupt and racist Fifa.  And the FA has no way out of the mess it has got itself in, first loving Fifa (with the World Cup bid) and then criticising Fifa (after not winning the World Cup bid).

So what is to be done with the FA?  It exists because it created the first rules of the game in 1863, and the first competition with the FA Cup.  But the Premier League sees it now as “an association of interests” not a body capable of laying down laws, and seeing them obeyed.

But the Premier League is still some way from bringing in rigorous financial fair play proposals, and the FA has no link to that activity.

What makes all this even more of a cock up is the fact that the sports minister, Hugh Robertson, actually welcomed the FA and PL responses to the government’s demands last year.And what of the response at Arsenal.  Mr Wenger said, “There’s two things. That the Government wants clear rules for football to be managed, I agree completely. But politics rule football, I am not for it.  “Football, for me, is a company like any company who is in entertainment and has to be managed in a clear way.

“I always defended that. Government has a view on that and how it has to be managed and how the sustainability of the club is of course supported. That’s very important.  But apart from that it has to be managed in an independent way.

“I think, personally, the real pride of a football club is to be independent.”

So, what is the government likely to do?
Most likely nothing, because that is what often happens.  But what they are talking about, and what could be rather good is
  • Full information on the ownership of clubs should be made publicly available.
  • If spending controls such as financial fair play are not adopted by the clubs, legislation should be brought in to impose financial discipline.
  • The Football Creditors’ Rule, which gives clubs’ preferred creditor status, should be banned “at the earliest opportunity” by the Government.
  • Long-term funding plans should be agreed for Supporters Direct

In a joint statement, the FA, Premier League and Football League said that, “Significant headway has already been made on many of these proposed reforms, not least on sustainability and transparency.  The remaining reform proposals are the subject of consultation within the game and we are confident that the necessary progress will be made.”

We will wait and see, but supporters are advised not to hold their breath.

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Arsenal – Liverpool : what can we expect from the ref?

By Walter Broeckx

So here we are again with another article that gives a preview of what could be our biggest opponent in our next game. And allow me to say that it always is nice when the hard work our ref reviewers have done over the years come together with the reality out there.

If you stay with us to the end you will see what I mean but I can tell you now that our referee reviews and the general statistics on this ref are evidence of the quality of our reviews. And confirm many of my so called rants at referees.

The ref for the Arsenal – Liverpool game is Kevin Friend. Kevin Friend is 41 years old. Or standing in my time line: young. And he is around in the PL since September 2009.  So with some 4 years of experience under his belt he seems to be ready to take on bigger games.

Let me start with noticing that the PGMOL is somehow reluctant to send him over for Arsenal games. You know that we have Dean 6 times in the PL last season and this season it looks to be no different. We have other refs 5 times a season. And then we have a ref like Friend who we only have once in a season. Because in the 4 years he has been in the PL he has only done four Arsenal games.

That really seems to be a strangely low number if you ask me. Hey you from the PGMOL who are reading this: tell me why. Thank you.

Of course I could say that this could be down to the statistics Friend has in Arsenal games. That is if I can believe the statistics where I take my information from. Because if we look at the games he did we see that we had 3 wins and 1 draw. And no defeat.  If you like to see that in a graphic this looks like this:

If only all ref graphics would like this.  Now of course 4 games is not a lot to make final conclusions. But later on I will give you a further analysis of the ref and then we might see some more interesting things.

The first time we had Friend was in the FA cup away at Leyton Orient when we had a 1-1 final result. As he was new to me in those days I still remember writing something in the style of: Friend was not my friend in this game.  But after that we won all our games.  And thus far this season we have had him in the PL and won 6-1 against Southampton at home and he also was the  ref in the League cup at Reading which we won 5-7.  So we seem to score a lot of goals when he is around.

Let us take a look at how his numbers are for Liverpool.  He had 9 games for Liverpool so far. Resulting in 6 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses. And in graphics this looks like this

Also not a bad number of results for Liverpool. The two defeats Liverpool suffered was in away games. Try to remember this sentence. It will come back later in this article.

So what did we find in our review of last season? Well you can read it here  but if you don’t want to click on that link I will give you the most important numbers here and now.

If we looked at the competency score he was  well above the average score we found last year. With a score of around 78% of correct decision this is 6% better than the average league score of 72%. In competency he was the 3rd best ref of the PL in our review last season. So that is nice.  His worst number was with offside decisions but this is mostly down to his assistants of course.  But his foul calling in general was rather excellent.

But we also found in general a strong home bias above the league average. And I suggested that you to remember a certain thing earlier in this article. As I pointed that the losses Liverpool suffered were when playing away from home. Now I’m not saying that those losses were down to referee mistakes or anything like that but in general the ref is more a home ref than an away ref.  Our numbers showed it and when we look at his statistics of those two teams the seem to confirm this. (Allow me as our chief referee reviewer to have a small refgasm).

When we look at the bias per team we can see that he did no games from Arsenal last season in the PL. Rather strange I would say.  Maybe his record prevented him from doing Arsenal games? I wonder, Mike.

There was also a small negative bias against Liverpool but only marginal. And this also could be down to the fact that we reviewed an away game from Liverpool. Anyway a bias score of -1.000 last season was considered to have an even score.

If we look at the incidents he has had in his career it looks rather good. Not many high profile errors. He has had his critics. He was criticised by Tony Pulis. Which for me is more a good reference than a bad.  He also got criticised for handing out too many yellow and some red cards. Also rather good things for me. He even got criticised for disallowing a goal because of an attack on the keeper. This all sounds like music in my ears.

So what have we found about this ref from the past? A rather competent ref and one of the better refs of last season. He finished in 4th place (a CL place one could say) in our reviews of the past season. In competency he finished in 3rd place but his home/away bias made him sink to 4th place in total. He doesn’t give much penalties. Only 2 penalties in the 13 games so far involving Arsenal and Liverpool. Both in favour of said teams by the way.

If the ref confirms his past in this game I am looking forward to a good performance from this ref. I know he can be a great ref.  And we play at home.  So we can hope that he does as he usually does his games.

 

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Mr Usmanov makes a mistake, and gives us a chuckle

By Tony Attwood

Alisher Usmanov always says that his interest is in making Arsenal a competition winning club.  He also says that Thierry Henry has urged him to take over Arsenal – and on this I can’t give an opinion.  It would be nice to see a piece by Thierry in which he confirms this.  Mr Usmanov said, Thierry Henry is “pushing me to buy all of Arsenal’s shares, but I cannot predict the future.”  But as I will show later there is a little reason to doubt this – not of course that I am saying Mr U is not telling it to us straight.

But more to the point, Mr Usmanov interviewed in L’Equipe, reminds us of all the players Arsenal have sold in recent years: Robin van Persie, Cesc Fábregas, Samir Nasri, Alexandre Song, Gaël Clichy, Mathieu Flamini, Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry.

Setting himself aside from the AAA, whose leaders have recently said that Mr Wenger should not be allowed to buy any more players at all, Mr Usmanov has said or Mr Wenger,”For me, he’s one of the best coaches in the world, but it’s not easy for him. I think he deserves that players are brought in at Arsenal when they’re needed.”Now let us think for a moment about that list.

For a start most of the players were sold at a huge profit, thus giving money to the club to buy new players, some of whose talents we now enjoy.

Secondly not all of those players we sold were worth the money that was paid for them. To take them in the order Mr Usmanov mentioned them:

Robin van Persie: at the moment we have half a season to evaluate his contribution to Man U.  Of course at this stage he is doing very well indeed – but let us not forget that only three years before his actual sale the AAA were urging his sale and calling him “glass ankles”.  Of course I don’t know the details of his contract but it is said to be a five year deal.  It will be interesting to see how well he does in the second half of that contract.  He cost us £2m or thereabouts.

Cesc Fábregas has not always found it easy to get into the team at Barcelona – from whom we bought him for about half a million but he is settling down now.  So just a profit and the chance to buy Cazorla

Samir Nasri again sold on at a profit was warned in his first season with Manchester City that he needed to sort himself out and play to his potential if he wanted to be in the team.

Alexandre Song was recently voted as one of the two worst transfers into Spain of last summer.  He has played eight times this season, I believe.  Since he was claimed by many of the AAA as being not fit to wear the shirt after a performance against Fulham, this presumably hasn’t come as much surprise.

Gaël Clichy was another player who we got for next to nothing.  He seems to have settled down well in Manchester.

Mathieu Flamini is a strange player for Mr Usmanov to mention.  He went on a free to Milan but failed to get in the team very often.  At the end of his contract, with Milan being unable to sell him, he was released for nothing.  Eventually with no one wanting him at all Flamini returned to the club on a much lower salary.

Patrick Vieira was a stunning player bought from Milan for £3.5 million.   He moved to Juventus and won the championship with them, before it was removed from the club and the club was relegated.  He quickly moved on.

Thierry Henry, as we have calculated on this site, cost Barcelona £250,000 a game, if one includes transfer fees and salary.  I am not sure many would say that genius and wonderful man that he is, he was worth that.

Now if Mr Usmanov were to be in power, presumably money would not be an issue so we can forget about all the players that made us a profit.  But we might reflect that some of them were in fact coming to the end of their careers, or were over achieving at Arsenal, when they were sold.

Of course I would have liked Patrick Vieira, Robin van Persie and Cesc Fábregas to stay, but against that I am not sure that we would have witnessed the fruition of Theo which has been good to watch – and which could keep us on the edge of our seats for some years to come.   Thierry, when he left, was not up to his past standard, and Patrick V only had a couple of years left in him at the highest level.

But the strangest thing is for Mr Usmanov to mention Flamini.  Not giving in to his crazy wage demands was one of the best bits of business Arsenal ever did – apart from the selling of Hleb to Barcelona for €17 million.  He played for them 19 times – thus making him the most expensive flop ever at over €1.5 million per game (including transfer fee and salary).  Still to be fair Mr U didn’t mention Hleb, so we can’t.

The fact that Mr U did however mention Flamini suggests that he and his advisers are perhaps not as well up on the world game as he might like to think.  Also if he really was discussing these matters with Thierry, surely Thierry would have pointed out that Flamini had one, and only one good season at Arsenal, and it was a long, long, downhill slide thereafter.

But  still, its a complex business this football lark.

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Giroud: from flop to not that bad at all?

By Walter Broeckx

I think we all know the fickle world outside Untold. That world of people who have their idea on a player ready after just one game or just one event.  One bad pass and he is rubbish and another of those cheap buys from the French and so the manager has to be sacked.

If he scores they keep silent but wait for the first moment that he makes a mistake and then they can tell how rubbish he is, was and will be.

I think this is something that can be said about Olivier Giroud this season. Missing a big chance after coming up as a sub in his first league game. And already they said: RVP would have scored that one.  Although of course we never will know.

It took him a while to score his first goal for Arsenal. That was in the league cup win against Coventry. But no goals in the league at first. But in his 7th game for the club in the PL he finally scored his first goal. Against West Ham that was when he put us level with a good finish when Podolski sent in a sharp cross.

But the media had smelled blood. The departure of the traitor had left a gap of course and Giroud coming from another league, having to adapt to a new league, new team mates, new playing stile took some time to settle in, much to the pleasure of the media who immediately dismissed him as a flop.

More sensible Arsenal fans as the majority of regular Untold readers weren’t that quick to label him thus.  We knew it could take some time. We knew that only with positive support he could come good.

But we know we have a small but noisy part of the fan base who believe every word in the media as long as it puts the club, the manager and the players in a bad light. The media say Arsenal’s manager and board are  stupid in their policy of only spending what we have earned and those fans hold protest marches, come on each and every blog, and slag of each and everyone in the club.

The media say the manager has lost it and those fans come out and repeat this sentence as their mantra until they believe it themselves.

The media say a player is a flop and those fans come out labelling said player as a flop for the rest of his days at Arsenal and blame the manager and the board for having spend money on him and not on player “fill in their favourite player”.

This was the way Giroud was going. Declared not up to it by the media. So he was useless according to the fickle part of the fan base.  Now the season is half way we can get a clearer picture of Giroud. And these are the latest numbers we can give you about him.

In his Arsenal career so far he has started 20 games and came on as a sub in 12 games. So he played a part in a total of 32 games.

In all those games he scored 13 goals. And keeping in mind that in his first 6 games he couldn’t score this means that in the last 26 games he scored 12 goals. So a rate of almost 1 goal in 2 games.

But what is also rather important for a forward is not only to score but also to assist team mates so they can score. I know a striker will be judged mostly on his goals but I think it is important to see if he helps the team in a whole to score goals. And so far Giroud has assisted to 9 goals.

This means that in his first half year at Arsenal he has helped the team to 22 goals in total. Scoring 13 and assisting 9. Not that bad for “a flop”.

In the last 8 years we have seen two world class strikers leave Arsenal. The departure of Thierry Henry and Van Persie has left a big gap. I will not deny this. When Thierry Henry started his Arsenal career he struggled. He struggled even more than Giroud did and took more time to score his first ever goal for Arsenal. And he played in a team with many of the best Arsenal players we have known. As for now Giroud is mostly surrounded by rubbish players (at least according to some sources). And in those days the manager still had a clue as for now he has lost it.

Van Persie stepped in the team that was filled with superstars we made. And it took him 7 years to really show what he could do. Many a time the fickle fans urged Wenger to get rid of that piece of deadwood. And when that piece of deadwood finally went away they blamed Wenger for not having him tied down to a 15 year contract. Oh that lovely hindsight management style.

Giroud had to fill the gap of the leaving Van Persie. Now we could compare Giroud with the last year of Van Persie. But that would be a bit dishonest. After all Van Persie had 7 or 8 years PL experience and the team was built around him in the last 2 seasons. Giroud came from another league and had to step in to a team that was not built around him at all. So the best way to compare the different strikers is to use their first season.

So I tried to compare those first complete years for Henry and Van Persie with the very much incomplete first season of Giroud. And this is what we get:

EPL Cup Europe Total
PL G As PL G As PL G As PL G As
RVP

26

5

0

9

4

0

6

1

0

41

10

0

TH

31

17

9

5

1

0

11

8

2

47

26

11

OG

22

8

3

5

4

2

5

1

4

31

13

9

  • PL= played
  • G= goals
  • AS= Assists

There is no doubt who was the greatest of them all. TH will be the greatest. Until Theo surpasses him. But if we compare the stats from Van Persie and Giroud we see that even with having played 10 games less than Van Persie his statistic is rather impressive. He scored already 3 more goals than “world class Van Persie” but he also had 9 assists compared to zero assists Van Persie had in his first season.

Who could predict RVP becoming world class after his first season? I surely didn’t and couldn’t. Will Giroud be world class? I don’t know. He is a different type of striker compared to Van Persie. Van Persie had and has sublime technical skills and I think on that part of the game he is better. But Giroud plays more with his heart and seems more of a team player. If you look at the stats from Van Persie with no assists compared to the 9 assists from Giroud this is very clear.

What we do know now is that if we would have listened to the media and  the fickle fans we would have got rid of Giroud by know. But luckily our coaching staff doesn’t listen to the media and those fickle fans. And what I do know is that it is important for real supporters to give each player time to adapt. And support him while he adapts.

Now it is easy to support Giroud. But I thank those who stood up for him when he struggled at first. That is the moment when real supporters are important. So I thank all those who have given him time. And I ask those fickle fans to man up and get behind a player. It is only because of the supporting supporters that players can come good. Not by insulting them and abusing them for each missed chance.

Whenever a player misses a chance my thoughts always go back to 17/05/2006. The day the great Thierry Henry missed the chance to put us 2-0 up in the final of the CL. And to 06/03/2012. The day that Van Persie forgot to score one of his easiest goals in his career to make it 4-0 against AC Milan. If you remember those world class players missing those chances, who are we to blame a “lesser” player if he misses a chance. After all we are human. And make mistakes. Accept that and life is easier.

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  • 26 January: When the Arsenal/Tottenham game was stopped due to bad language

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Liverpool, QPR, Tottenham, Norwich out, Chelsea draw, Arsenal/Blackburn and remembering G Graham at Millwall

By Tony Attwood

Context is important.  Something that appears trivial at one level might appear monumental at another.  Everything always  depends on context.

So let us consider the context of the FA Cup this Sunday night.

  • Oldham 3 Liverpool 2
  • Leeds Untidy 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1
  • Brentford 2 Chelsea 2
  • Queens Park Harry 2 MK Dons 4
  • Norwich City 0 Luton Town 1
  • Even St Mirren 3 Celtic 2

And let us consider the very half-hearted comments on Arsenal’s much changed team’s win at Brighton (although to be fair ITV called it the match of the round for excitement).

But naturally negative comments about how Arsenal had to bring on the first team regulars to secure the win abound – but the fact is we won, where Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea, QPR and Norwich did not win.

Yes our last goal was deflected – and that was the cause of a lot more negative media commentary – but I seem to recall a Liverpool goal getting a deflection as they attempted to avoid defeat, and that goal was praised.

Of course we have won nothing yet, but we are in the 5th round, and have an interesting and potentially exciting game against Blackburn Rovers.

The league table (giving games played, goal difference and points) shows Blackburn in 15th in their league with a goal difference of +1.  A winnable game.

Cardiff 28 20 60
Leicester 28 26 50
Hull 28 8 50
Watford 28 19 49
Crystal Palace 28 15 48
Middlesbrough 28 8 47
Brighton 28 10 42
Burnley 29 2 42
Millwall 28 2 41
Nottm Forest 29 -1 41
Leeds United 28 -5 41
Charlton 29 -1 39
Derby 28 1 38
Blackpool 29 4 37
Blackburn 28 1 37
Bolton 28 -1 34

We will of course comment more on Arsenal v Blackburn in the future, but for now I’d like to move on to another game: Luton v Millwall.  This is interesting in the FA Cup since those of us with a historical memory will recall 13 March 1985.  This was a memorable match because Millwall Bushwackers were well known to be interested in fighting at matches, while Luton Town were followed by the  MIGs.  It proved to be fiery.

Luton Town administrators were requested by Millwall to make the Wednesday night match an all-ticket game, but Luton Town, seemingly anxious to maximise the revenue, refused.

A large away following, which Millwall always had, and which was often more than the number attending home games, attended the area.  Anyone who went to Luton Town’s ground at the time will know it was a really awful dump, with utterly insanitary toilet facilities, and the ground hemmed in by terraced housing and small streets.

When Millwall fans ran onto the pitch towards the Luton fans there will nothing the totally outwitted forces of law and order could do.

The Millwall manager at the time, George Graham, pleaded with his fans to go back to their terracing, and having appeared on the touchline personally, they followed his request.  Fighting continued throughout.

Following the game, two opinions were expressed.  One came from the Ipswich Town manager Bobby Robson was that “[the police] should have turned the flamethrowers on [the fans]”.  Such views, which owe more to the Third Reich than a democracy, revealed something of the man.  Chelsea chairman Ken Bates stated that he intended to erect electric fences at Stamford Bridge.  This comment told us nothing we didn’t know.   If he ever tried to do this, the police and local authorities certainly stopped such manic responses and Stamford Bridge remained free of a death wall.

The Luton Town chairman, Conservative MP David Evans, stated that he would never allow his club to play Millwall again, ignoring the fact that it was Luton who had utterly failed to the reasonable request from George Graham’s team that the game should be all ticket, and that such a refusal was contrary to the rules of the League and the FA.  (Neither organisation took the local fellow seriously, and the matter was let slip).   Evans did however impose a ban on away support from the start of the next season, and the country’s first full-scale membership only club was initiated.

M Thatcher, a politician of often fanatical and extreme right wing views (who decision to liberate the banking sector of the British economy resulted in the current recession), set up a “Football Hooliganism War Cabinet”, which stated that similar membership schemes would have to be adopted by all clubs nationwide.  Again the fact that Luton had singularly failed to take the basic precaution of making this an all-ticket match, was ignored.

One presumes that Nick Owen, the current Luton chair, will not fulfil the wishes of David Evans, and refuse to play the game.

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THE OFFICIAL ARSENAL TRANSFER DELUSION

THE OFFICIAL ARSENAL TRANSFER DELUSION

Don McMahon

I’m getting very bored over this January transfer window and have decided that a laconic, barely legible piece about a rumour I fear is circulating in the Albania media, would be appropriate for this festive season. So here goes.

It is understood by the Albanian terrorists, from sources closely linked to Hairy Redknapper’s dog, that Arsenal’s chief lackey and dishwasher Manuel Allmoony was seen in Barcelona watching Real Zaragoza’s junior scout Assinine Itzashame who was showing an ill-disguised and distressing interest in Lionel Messi and Xavi Alonso, among a half-dozen other Braca players.

Apparently, unconfirmed and totally unreliable sources have linked Arsene Wenger with a bold, desperate and dashing move to bring both players to the Emirates in exchange for Squillaci and Arshavin, plus an undisclosed, unverifiable, really astronomical sum of 400 million Euros.

The Mail desperately wants to believe that the above entirely fictitious and flatulent fabulations are marginally possible and that Wenger, whose 7.72333549889 trophyless years has firmly entrenched his fading reputation in permanent crisis mode, is eager to transfer anyone over 7 years old and with at least one working limb, and limited experience in cleaning EPL washrooms, in the January transfer window.

It is also reported by unknown and unverified sources that Ivan Gazidis will have a sex-change operation in order to further Arsene Wenger’s master plan to tap up and poach the entire Barcelona first team as a means to ensure his  rarely mentioned  and oft-ignored 7-8 year trophyless streak comes to a vainglorious end.

The Guardian erroneously but insistently reports that Usmanov and Dein will be married at Whitechapel this coming forthnight or thereabouts, thereby making official that which was common knowledge and will ask Sir Alex Ferguson to be the best man, considering that he owns the EPL and the PGMOL.

But if false rumours are to be believed, the bridesmaid will be Mike Riley (in drag) since SAF is currently indisposed with an extra-limpid red nose and Riley looks good in pink. Meanwhile Wenger is touted to be ready to step up his efforts to snatch Cesc Fabregas back from the evil clutches of the Barcaloonies with an outlandishly frugal bid, reported to be in the thousands of Spanish Dubloonies ( supposedly the new IRA currency).

The Club has been linked by the scurrilous yellow media with the usual suspects during the silly season and strong, malodorous reports emanating from Hairy Kidnappers outhouse suggest that we are in for the entire QPR, Tiny Totts and Dagenham United reserve teams as Wenger looks to bolster his chances of ruining the Arsenal, before the AAA and Usmanov can. He has been put on alert by the London Metropolitan police that Nicholas Bendtner, currently floundering in the Juventus summer house with his flashy green shorts around his ankles, will be traded to Dagenham United for some North Yorkshire pudding and a cartload of fish and chips from Finland, courtesy of Karl Jenkinson’s aunt.

Apparently Plimsol United of the Alcoholics Anonymous league (not to be confused with another website) are eager to hold talks with the cleaning lady at the Emirates over a possible loan deal involving Wenger’s daughter and wife, as well as Arshavin, Squillaci, Fabianski, Dein the younger and UA’s own Tony Attwood on a long-term deal worth 5 Kuwaiti dinar, 2 bottles of shaving cream and a rabid dog.  Reported talks are going a la Walcott but PSG has indicated that they may hijack any discussions about the dog, since they are planning to have a Bar-B-Que for Ibrahimovich’s 55th birthday in the not-too distant future.

In more distressing news, the French nation has reported that Arsenal target and International porn star Fifi LePoo is set to sign for crosstown rivals Teatingham for a reported 345 million baguettes. We have been linked with this creature from the founding of the AAA back in 1904 with Wenger expressing outrage and general indifference to the clearly spurious rumours emanating from France.

Ill-considered reports are suggesting that Wenger’s Gallic mood swings will lead to a January 2022 bid for the unsettled dilettante in a blind and almost ambitiously ambiguous move to beat his crosstown rivals to the prize. The AAA have been quoted by the British press as being totally disinterested, giving considerable credence to this fortituous and fervently ignored rumour.

Well, that’s all the news that is unworthy of the UA website and totally unfit to print, or in this case unfit to cyberprint but stay tuned (or whatever one does on the net) for future breaking-wind rumours, idle gossip, unfounded speculation and misdirection during,before and after the transfer windows. Now if only we could win a few!!

Brighton -Arsenal: A difficult game, a good win and who will we play next?

By Walter Broeckx

As I am one of the lucky persons who could see the game live on my TV I want to start with my favourite moment of the game. It was a moment before a ball was kicked. It was a moment that showed images of the crowd before the game started. And the camera zoomed in to the Gooners out there at Brighton. And they showed the Arsenal fans signing before the game and in the middle of the picture there was an Arsenal fan who clearly was disabled as he was sitting in a wheel chair that had to be operated with his chin. But you could see him signing with all his heart together with the rest out there.  It somehow touched me this image. And great to see that this Gooner could be in the ground out there.  I hope he enjoyed himself today.

On to the football. One could say that in a cup game only one things matters: to qualify for the next round. And that is what we did. We didn’t play great football but we were the best team of the two. We had the better chances looked at the whole game.

We had the most possession 41- 59%. Most shots on goal 5-12. Most shots on target 3-6. Most corners 2-15. We even made the most fouls 9-10.  Podolski hit the crossbar with a splendid free kick. But having said that it wasn’t a walk in the park. I think we should give credit to Brighton for not trying to kick us off the park. I think most of the fouls were rather regular fouls no real dangerous tackles flying in. Brighton tried to play the ball over the ground also most of the time. The carved out a few chances also. But at the end of the day the team with the better quality won the game. Also because our bench had a bit more quality I think.

If you haven’t seen the highlights yet you sure should try to see them. Because I think you could be impressed with some of the goals. And not that impressed with our defending when we conceded the goals. When seeing the goals from Brighton the word ‘sloppy defending’ might come in your mind. Nobody really attacking the ball, come on guys this can be better. Something to work on.

But let us move to our goals. And we start with another Podolski assist. Just after Szczesny had stopped Brighton with a great save and then set up a quick counter lead by Rosicky. Who played the ball to Podolski who thought about hammering it but as the ball was in front of his right foot didn’t take the shot on but laid the ball back and opened up some room for Giroud. Giroud  curled the ball nicely in the top corner giving the keeper no chance. That really was a super finish. It reminded me of a goal against the spuds last season. Will not mention the name of the goal scorer.

The second goal was maybe even better. Diaby with the ball and Giroud with the excellent run . The ball from Diaby was up in the air when it reached Giroud who took it out of the air, controlled it and smashed it past the keeper. That were two goals of superb technical quality. I dare to say it that this second goal brought even more memories of a player that has left us last summer.

In fact if it would have been him who scored those two goals the media would now be using words as ‘world class’ and ‘superb finishing’ or ‘amazing quality’.  Now the media will say that we miss the one that wanted away. And will not give credit to Giroud for his superb goals. And with a bit of luck he would have scored a few more cracking goals but the keeper and a defender standing in the way prevented him from scoring a hattrick.

One of those missed chances or better said saved just before the goal line by a defender led to the corner that brought us the winning goal. Wilshere who came in to replace Rosicky and who did a splendid job together with Gibbs when they entered the field gave the corner, the keeper could only punch it away to the line of the penalty area and Theo took a shot that would have gone in, in the middle of the goal but a Brighton defender touched it and it ended up in the corner of the goal.

We still had to survive one scary moment but we had more chances to score a 4th goal but the keeper prevented another Arsenal goal.

It was a difficult game, as it should be in the FA cup away against a lower league team that could be proud of themselves. And I have heard some people that I know how had tickets and who had nothing but kind words about the way Brighton welcomed us and also the local fans were very nice and friendly towards the Arsenal supporters I know.

So it was a good game of football with a good outcome for Arsenal. Rosicky had a first game under his belt since almost 2 months. Diaby had another game and played the full 90 minutes! We had our second choice left and right back out there to give them a game. Oxlade-Chamberlain started a game.  We have given Cazorla a breather, that he could use. Sagna and Gibbs have had a rest although the latter came in for the final 10 minutes and was impressive from the first second till the last.  Theo had a rest and when he came on also looked impressive and sharp and scoring another goal.  I think this is great because some fans (?) had already predicted that when he would sign his new contract he wouldn’t bother anymore and would fade away. Well not yet I would say.

Not at our best, not with the best but good enough to go to the next round against a team that tried to make life as difficult as possible but not enough to push us out.  Now let us hope for a good draw, hopefully at home. And if possible against a lower league team. Because in the week after the next FA cup games we get the visit of Bayern Munich on the next Tuesday.  It would be nice if we could give a few more players a rest in that FA cup weekend.

Brighton Hove and Albion – Arsenal What can we expect of the ref?

By Walter Broeckx

As Tony said it earlier today we will write what we think we should write. So for those not liking, sorry. But here is another whining,…er….article about the ref we have today.

Of course this is a cup game and in cup games there are different rules. Well not in the laws of the game but I have noticed and written about refs behaving in a completely different way in cup games compared to PL games. The one exception might be Mike Dean. He always is out to get us. PL, Carling Cup, FA cup, no matter the competition he will do all he can to keep the surface in such a way we have to climb uphill to get a result.

But I have also noticed for example Phil Dowd being a total biased ref in the PL on occasion against Arsenal and then suddenly in a cup game he behaves as the ref he can and always should be.  So it is difficult to compare the way a ref behaves. I once suggested in an article that as cup games are games rather standing on their own with only two teams directly involved that there would be less pressure on the refs to …. well you know.

To start with the ref that is appointed for today’s game is always a smart thing I think.

Michael Oliver is the name of the young man in charge. And young he is. Only 27 years old and already in the top league since August 2010. I think he will be one if not the youngest ref in the PL lately.

So far we had Oliver in 5 games in the PL. Not really much. But the record is…BAD. For the moment my nice graphic presentation doesn’t work for some reason that is beyond me so I will just have to write it down:

5 games : 1 win – 1 draw – 3 losses meaning a win % of 20%. Compared to the overall Arsenal win % over the last years that is around 60% it is obvious that this is a really bad number for Arsenal. Are we looking at the younger brother of Mike Dean?  That is of course to soon to say.

Because as we reviewed all 5 of those games we can say that he was not really the reason why we lost those games. His first game was a 2-3 home defeat to WBA if you still remember that painful day at the Emirates when Nasri scored two goals in extra time. I think the ref got one of the highest scores in that season. The only win under Oliver came one year later. In a game against WBA. A 3-0 win that time.

Less good was his performance at Swansea last year when he gave a penalty to Swansea when it actually was a foul on Ramsey. But it helped Swansea to win the game 3-2.

The last game we had this ref was earlier this season at Everton when we had a 1-1 draw. For the moment I can’t really remember any clangers from him so I think he did rather fine in that game. Unless my memory is not what it used to be.

If we take a look at Brighton Hove and Albion his record is even worse. They had him once and they lost that game.  It was a league cup game that they lost 1-2 against Liverpool. That was the only time they had him according to my records.  I sure wouldn’t mind him keeping up his 0% wins for Brighton Hove and Albion after this weekend.

So what did we find about this ref in last years review?  Well we only did 8 games of him last season. But in those 8 games we found that when it came to making decisions he really was one of the better refs.  An overall score of 79,15% correct decisions overall is very good. That is excellent in fact. When we put the weight to the decisions it went down to 77,26% correct decisions but still this is well above the league average we found.

If we look at the home/away bias we see that he has a home bias but the home bias is close to the league average. So he doesn’t look to be a completely home ref. But at times he can become a bit home biased.

If we look at the team bias we see that Arsenal had a negative bias. The Swansea game playing a big part in that score when he made a few wrong decisions. But we have seen worse negative bias against Arsenal from other refs.

So the final conclusion is that he is a ref who is general rather good in spotting a foul.  That is always a good thing I would say. But he can be slightly in favour of the home team and as we play away this is not good. And he has a small bias against Arsenal and as I have just checked against all London teams. Maybe he doesn’t like it down there?

But as said before: this is a cup game. And then things can change. Refs can change. And it will  be important for Arsenal to come up with a decent performance. A West Ham United like performance I would say. So let us hope we can produce another good game. And let us hope that the ref has a good game and cannot be faulted by either side about the outcome of the game.

 

A note on freedom of expression. (And Jack as captain) (And Hazard, and Carragher)

By Tony Attwood

To begin at the end.  Arsène Wenger has given an interview in which he has said  Jack Wilshere can become Arsenal and England captain.

So with Thomas Vermaelen injured and Arteta still out maybe our Jack  could become Arsenal’s youngest-ever captain today.  Tony Adams’ is the youngest ever captain thus far at 21 years and 82 da.  Jack is two months younger.

Mr Wenger said, “He is naturally a guy who is not scared of anything on the football pitch and that is usually the sign of a leader.  If you are asking me if I will take the captaincy away from Vermaelen, no. It is not a question that holds me at the moment. But do I think Jack will be captain of this club one day – yes, of course.”

Meanwhile the FA has followed Untold’s suggestion that Eden Hazard should be banned for quite a while over the ballboy incident.  This is quite a turn around for the FA who, in January 2002, refused to do anything about Jamie Carragher when he threw a coin into the crowd at Highbury.  Of course it was utterly wrong for anyone to throw a coin at Carragher, but his action of throwing the coin into the crowd was far worse, given that it was bound to hit someone.  Throwing a coin onto the pitch is quite wrong, but since it often misses the damage potential is less.   I am sure the person who threw the coin was banned from Arsenal for life.  Carragher should have been banned from football for 3 months.

The FA said the three-match ban for Hazard’s dismissal is “clearly insufficient” and a regulatory commission will decide next week how long it should be.  Chelsea will appeal.  What is interesting about Chelsea however is that the manager could make this claim: “We do not have too many players and we are playing too many games.  We have played nine games a month, we have two players at the African Nations, we do not have too many bodies, we have to change players and it will be another approach.”  Well, at least they have the money, and they knew what was likely to happen this January.

Back to Hazard – he won’t be giving evidence to the commission.  There will be written and video submissions by the FA and Chelsea.

Which leads me on to part two of this ramble…

It is one of the more amusing (but also simultaneously slightly worrying) aspects of life at Untold Arsenal that members of the footballing public do, increasingly often,  like to tell us what we can and what we should not write about.

Typical is the comment that we should write about Arsenal only.  Further commentary suggests that we only write about other teams or other teams’ supporters because Arsenal are doing so badly, or because our supporters are not happy, are too quiet, or whatever the current word on the street is.

This “what gives you the right to write about…” notion is not exclusive to football.  I can remember years ago being challenged by a person who worked for the Dyslexia Institute who wrote to me demanding to know what gave me the right to write about dyslexia.

It was a strange question, although one that I could answer readily, given that I have degrees in psychology and education.  But as I think I pointed out at the time, a greater question is: “What gives you the right to suggest that I might not discuss a certain subject?”

The beauty of the internet and of blogs is that anyone can write about anything, as long as in doing so one doesn’t break the law (and by and large they can get away with it even then).   Arsenal supporters are often kind enough to send in articles for publication, and sometimes we publish, sometimes not.  In this case it is generally me that decides, and I have that right because I publish Untold.

The notion that one might not have the “right” to publish anything is utterly repugnant and authoritarian.  It is the gift of the work of Sir Tim Berners-Lee that we can all do this.  No one has to read what you write, and indeed it is quite a tough job to get a big audience for a blog.  I know – I laboured for four years to get us up to half a million hits a month.  Now we are way over that – but the work of expanding the audience continues.

So, we will continue as a site that publishes (as it says on the masthead) “football news from a positive Arsenal perspective.”

We are also occasionally told that we really should not be this biased in favour of the current management of the club.   The answer again is “why not”?  There are lots and lots of sites that are anti the current management, so why not have one that is positive?  The notion of balance in the media has, as far as I know, never existed.  Everyone has an agenda.  So do we.  Perhaps the only difference is that we make it evident.  Many others, in my view, take a view and then try to suggest that they don’t.

If you would like to write for Untold, either on a one-off basis or regularly, do drop me a line.  Tony.Attwood@aisa.org usually works.

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The books…

The sites…

 

 

 

Brighton and Hove v Arsenal. Brady, Clough, Fascism, Duck ponds

by Billy the Dog McGraw

Everyone wants to be there.  Ian was trying to take his sons and meet up with the south coast part of his family.   Stefan had the idea that he might be able to turn up at the ground and procure a ticket.  Tony fancied it because the Brighton ground is built right next door to where he was a student (while simultaneously plotting for three years the overthrowing of the state).

But tickets were there none.  And it isn’t even on TV.  Hey ho.

In the old times, when people were worried about the far right political parties taking over football, there was a major enquiry into fascism and football.  After deep consultation it was felt that despite being based in one of the most genteel towns in the country (Hove) there were major problems at the club, and so a commissioner was sent to do undercover work, and see how deeply fascist Brighton and Hove Albion had become.

At first the reports were negative, and so reference was made back to the sources who claimed that fascist chants of Sieg Heil! could be heard at every single home match.  There was debate as to whether such chants were indeed fascist (the words actually mean “Hail Victory!”) but it was thought that yes such was their link with the Nazi Party in Germany, they were fascist, and they most certainly had been heard repeatedly at Brighton & Hove FC.

The commissioner returned to the south coast and spent more time among the locals.   Eventually the old boy tumbled the problem.   What had been heard was not Sieg Heil, but actually “Seagulls, Seagulls, Seagulls” – the lament used by supporters which repeated the nickname of the club.

Arsenal have two major associations with Brighton, as least as far as I can remember.  The first is the fact (taken from memory) that we were their opponents in their first ever game in the first division.  We won 4-0.   The second is that from 1993 to 1995 Liam Brady was their manager.  In other events, Brian Clough was their manager for a while, and they played in one cup final (the “And Smith must score” final) before playing at one of the worst football league grounds ever – the Withdean Stadium.

Actually on the Brian Clough issue Tony adds one other memory.  Brighton clambered into the second division for the first time in their history, and played Middlesbrough who had a certain centre forward called Brian Clough.   Middlesbrough won 6-4, and Clough scored quite a few (Tony doesn’t recall how many).   But he was there, as a youngster, dreaming of the day his story might be used on the yet-to-be-invented internet.

Brighton and Hove Albion now play in Falmer – a village in the ancient District of Lewes where each November 5th there is a ceremony to burn the pope.  I am not sure what Roman Catholics did to Lewes but the locals seem to be quite anxious to keep the tradition going.

A footbridge links the two parts of the village.  In the south there is a pond (which gives the village its name) complete with ducks, surrounded by cottages and an ancient parish church.  Also on site is a farm shop.

Just by the village are two universities – the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton, and the local council’s archive.

The American Express Community Stadium, is close by – but do please be aware that the stadium does not take American Express cards, for reasons that I have never been able to work out.

The stadium was handed over to the club on 31 May 2011 following a long battle for a new ground (planning permission was actually granted in 2002), which ended with John Prescott stepping into the mire and saying that yes, it could be done.  And here’s a nice twist, the first ever league game at the Amex was against Doncaster Rovers, who were also the last opponents to play at the Goldstone Ground.  The average attendance at the Amex is 20,000, but there is only parking for 2000 cars, mostly in the University of Sussex grounds.

As for the team here’s a possible line up

Szczesny;

Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs;

Diaby, Cazorla

Wilshere

Walcott, Giroud, Podolski

Rosicky is fit again and should be on the bench with Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arteta and Coquelin are still out.  Santos and Ramsey will certainly either be on the bench or in the team.  Frimpong and Arshavin will make up the bench, I imagine.

One other possibility is that Jenkinson will get a run out – he has not had a chance to play for some time.

Brighton are 6th in the Championship after 28 games, eight points away from the second automatic promotion spot.  They have a goal difference of +10.  Their last match was a 1-1 away draw at Blackburn who are 14th.  In the last four games they have three draws and a win.

So that’s it.  If you are going, do remember they don’t play in Brighton.  Or come to that, in Hove.   The result: 3-1 to the Arsenal.

Recent posts…

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What would a members poll at Arsenal show?

By Tony Attwood

Apparently around 60% of Real Madrid’s members believe Jose Mourinho has a negative impact on the club’s image.  That is a according to a survey in Marca – a sports daily.

They asked about 700 members either on the phone or at the game, and overall the members gave his performance as coach 6.68 out of 10.  The last poll in March 2011 had him at 8.82.  In terms of should he stay or go after the end of the current season 54.4% saying he should stay and 41.8% saying he should leave, they added.  (I presume the rest said he should be cut in half).

The poll was conducted at a time when Real Mad were 16 points behind Barcelona.  The latest position has Real Mad in third place 15 points behind Barce and seven points behind Atletico Madrid.

Mourinho has made a number of public suggestions that there is bias against Real Mad in the Spanish game, and this is seen to be out of keeping with the club’s image.  He has also been attacked for his team selection (for example dropping the goal-keeper captain Iker Casillas and reports of bust ups within the squad. )

It is interesting that the notion of the poll has not spread to British papers, where the journalists are much happier to draw conclusions without actually asking anyone.   We might note that few papers picked up on the fact that after Man City fans failed to buy tickets for the game at the Ems, Arsenal fans snapped them up, for example.  That didn’t show a complete lack of faith in the club.

Papers in the UK thus also talk up the revolt among spectators without any evidence – perhaps because they know that the vast majority Arsenal fans still retain a strong belief in Mr Wenger – and that result wouldn’t get them anywhere in terms of writing an article.

There was little sign of protest at the game on Wednesday night, and the usual 60,000 tickets were sold.  West Ham’s end was packed solid, and most of them stayed until the long injury period.  There were empty seats in the rest of the ground, but it was a bitterly cold night, and with many home fans travelling quite a distance it is not surprising that some didn’t risk the weather.  I travelled the normal 90 miles, but then I’m crazy, so that’s not really telling you much.

At the AGM those who put themselves against the club’s current management could muster only 3% of the votes on a show of hands when there was a chance to vote against members of the board.  Not that impressive.

Perhaps part of the problem of the protest at Arsenal is that it often centres around the “We want our Arsenal back” slogan which itself has no clear meaning.  Which Arsenal was our Arsenal?  The one where the seat prices were much cheaper, before Mr Wenger came along?  Or the one with the big terraces at each end of the ground, before Mrs Thatcher came along?  Or the era of Wright and Swindin where we sometimes couldn’t even make the top half of the table?

Or perhaps as I was suggesting the other day, the problem is that Arsenal fans recognise that there are not that many top managers around in the world who could do better than the current manager.

Rafa Benitez will probably be free at the end of the season but I doubt he would make the top ten list of good ideas for any Arsenal fan.

Roberto Di Matteo is available.   He is a good tactician and played in the lower leagues, which allows him to combine stylish football with hoof it up the field.  He is also in the Arsenal mould of being calm, confident, patient, is good with the media and good with the ref most of the time.

Jürgen Klopp might go to Real Mad – especially as his Dortmund qualified ahead of Real Madrid in the Champions League.  He has some interesting style points too – always dressing black but he has been described as a Teutonic Martin O’Neill on the touchline (which doesn’t sound like a clever idea).   Klopp however is educated, as is Mr Wenger, and is extremely lucid when interviewed.

Michael Laudrup has taken Swansea to a cup final and uses a nice style of football plus is clever in the transfer market.  But he played for Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid and history shows that top players rarely do well at Arsenal.  Our greatest periods have come from having minor or non-players like Chapman, Allison, Mee, Wenger…  George Graham is one of the few to buck the trend.

And Laudrup hasn’t won anything yet, and has no experience of being a manager in Europe.Which leaves us looking at Jose Mourinho who delivers titles in each club he goes to, except at the moment.  And who managed to outdo Barcelona, although not this year.  He tends to like the counter attacking approach, which is Arsenal’s heritage since Chapman.  But he may prefer taking on the board at Manchester United.

Which leaves us where precisely?  Knowing that if Mr Wenger goes, there is no certainty that any of these men will come in and no certainty that any will be better than Mr Wenger at all.  And we don’t know how many people want change anyway.

Arsenal WHU: catering, early leaving, predictions, possession

By Tony Attwood

When we are good, we are really good.  We ended the game against West Ham with 69% of the possession, and 24 goal attempts, with 10 on target.  For 12  minutes we were unbeatable.   Any suggestion of anything else was a mere trick of the floodlights.

As for West Ham’s opening goal – it felt like we had to give them something just to make the game interesting.  At the start Stefan said it was going to be a 3-1 win and that opening goal made it seem possible.  (Stefan also complained that I had said previously that he left five minutes before the end and that this was an outrage which could lead to the withdrawal of all my banking rights.  We compromised on three minutes, although the gent who used Stefan’s wife’s seat left a good 8 minutes early last night).

But there are many questions unanswered.  Like how could Sam the Fat put out a team like this?  Yes WHU did some defending in depth, but nothing like the revolting “park the team bus” and “kick the shit out of them” which led to Untold’s description of the tactics as “rotational fouling” and “rotational time wasting”.  Yes they still do high balls and industrial challenges in the nature of the Fat Slug of the North, but there are bits of the old West Ham there too, so maybe the WHU spirit is being poured down the Fatman’s throat.  Who can tell?

West Ham tried to play, and really the only sadness was the problems at the away supporters end in the second half.  Of course I only see from the opposite end of the stadium, so maybe it was Arsenal stewards fighting amongst each other.  Maybe it was nothing.

Back with the football, Santi Cazorla’s back flick goal, which crawled over the line at about the speed of a tortoise who has drunk too much meths, was a wonder.   And the glorious wonder of the signing of Podolski was shown here.  He does assists, set ups, and perfect passes and then goes through the routine again – whilst getting the equaliser with a rasping shot.  Good man.
So what else did we learn?
.
At each match I go and order a burger.  Not that I want one – I can’t stand them.  But I do it just to prove that they are not available.  Try ordering a burger 10 minutes before kick off, anywhere between blocks 99 and 101 and the answer is no, or you will have to wait 10 minutes.
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Now since advertising a product you know is not for sale is against Trading Standards regs, Delaware North are being naughty.   It is not a one-off – it is every single match.
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And I look to ask myself, “Are there people rushing around cooking the revolting things?”  No there are not.  There are people standing there.  They are very good at standing there.  The “standing there” training must be excellent.
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I also order a cappuccino at half time.  This time, two of the three coffee machines had their front doors hanging off.  Only a couple of the people serving knew how to use them – the result was chaos as men with cups and no liquid bumped into men who had got liquid into their cups.  The doors on the front of the machines were slammed shut and sprung open, knocking cups that may or may not have had some form of drinkable solution within them.   That’s how it goes.
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The system of service is chaotic, and any semi-manager with the IQ of a red squirrel sitting in the Isle of Wight on a wet Tuesday could do better.  So, the question is to be asked.  Why is there not an Arsenal base on the Island recruiting catering managers?
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Fortunately the football was better, and the evening was good.  Theo moved into the middle at the end, and went off to count the £9.92 he earns a minute – even when he is asleep.  I think I would sleep better if I knew I was earning £9.92 a minute while sleeping.
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But my life involves the journey home to the Midlands, fortunately in the company of Drew who dropped me off at Northampton station, to find that  my car was equally fortunately still there.  Home from the match by half past midnight, and I was able to drive through the village in which I live without being hampered by snow drifts – it felt like summer.
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Fortunately we don’t have any more midweek matches that involve me leaving work early and getting back half an hour into tomorrow until, oh, I don’t know, oh yes, next week.
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One last point for the ref.  Very early on Vaz Te kicked the ball away after the whistle had blown.  The ref did nothing.  Later he got booked (at the end of the first half) for repeating the trick.   If the ref had seen the first one, he might have got sent off – which is not what I want, but kicking the ball away is really a very silly little game to play.  Come on Fat Sam.  Sort him out.
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One last, last point: no Chamakh.  Is he in Africa?  I thought he might be.  Drew thought not.   We didn’t really care, we just wondered.

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The books…

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The articles…

 

Hazard kicking ball boy, FA also at fault?

By Walter Broeckx

I would have loved to start with writing an article about the game from last night where we won in rather pleasant way.

Alas, alas, alas… I had to watch the game on a not that good internet stream. I could see most of it but missed the Podolski goal live as the stream jammed. It happened a few times in the second half so I really don’t want to comment on it before I can really see the game completely.

And to bring in more bad news I wanted to see the game on the Arsenal Player but for the moment my internet connection is so slow that it takes 30 seconds to upload half of the images. So I called it a day and will try later on when my internet provider is giving me the promised speed.

So I turn my attention to another incident in another game: The Hazard/ballboy kick.

First the facts in a row.

  • Ball boy tweets before the game he will try to waste time.
  • Ball boy smothers the ball below his body and refuses to give it to Hazard
  • Hazard kicks out at the ball boy in an attempt to kick the ball underneath him
  • Hazard hits the ball boy with his leg
  • Hazard gets a red card

So let us start with the start. Ball boys are only allowed in a game when the ref gives his permission.

We all know that in most cases when a home team offers ball boys the ref will allow them to do their job. But this also means that the ball boys have to do their job in a proper way. The reason they are out there is to prevent time wasting.

Clearly the ball boy in question didn’t do his job as could be expected. The fact that the tweeted before the game he would waste time could indicate that maybe there were some instructions given by Swansea itself. It could have been the ball boy’s own initiative. But in any case the ball boy didn’t do his job.

I think that the FA should give a clear signal to Swansea that this is not allowed. The ball boy should be banned and never ever be allowed to be a ball boy again. And I think that Swansea should face a big fine for this. I cannot prove Swansea as a club instructed them but they are responsible for the ball boys so they should have given the correct instructions to the ball boys to how they should do their job.

And their job is to bring the ball back in play as quickly as can. So a big fine should be given against Swansea. And I do hope that the ref sent the ball boy out of the neutral zone after the incident. Because there is no place for such ball boys in the game.

The ball boy behaved in a bad way – but then Hazard did the same. Was this the same Hazard who last Sunday didn’t see any harm in wasting time when they were leading 2-1?

In a way it shows that wasting time can be very frustrating and maybe players (and ball boys of course) should not do it or go over board when doing it.

What Hazard did was inexcusable. A professional football player like Hazard behaved in a very unprofessional way. Kicking at a ball boy is not done from the point of view of decent, reasonable human behaviour.  And indeed it is not done from a professional point of view. You don’t kick someone who is on the ground. Period.

For those who cannot understand how  Hazard got a red card from Foy I can assure you that Foy did what he had to do. A player who deliberately kicks someone should get a red card. And it doesn’t matter who he kicks. Another opponent, a team mate (yes it has happened before), an official, a spectator or any other person who is in the stadium.

When a player kicks towards another person he should get a red card. I all think we remember the situation a while back when some person entered the field in a lower league game and one of the players tackled him in an attempt to stop him. The player then got a red card and that is just the way the rules are. Players do not have the right to take justice in their own hands (or feet).

So the red card was the only thing the ref could do. And he should have sent the ball boy out of the neutral zone also. How many games he will be punished is something for the FA. How many pounds Swansea will be fined is also something for the FA to deal with. But I hope that both (Hazard and Swansea/ball boy) will get a very exemplary punishment so that such a ridiculous events will not be reproduced soon.

And looking at all this mess I think back to an article I wrote on how to improve the PL when I wrote the articles concerning our ref review last year. I wrote an article with recommendations on how to improve certain aspects of the game.

And one of my recommendations was on how to stop time wasting. And I then wrote that the PL should change things and use the rules as they are used in the CL and in many other big leagues like in the Bundesliga in Germany. In those games each ball boy has its own ball and when the ball goes out of play the ball boys are instructed immediately to throw the ball they have to the players so that the game can restart as quickly as possible. So if those rules would have been used (and the ball boys carried out those instructions) this incident wouldn’t have happened.

And we don’t want to see such incidents happening. It is putting football in a bad light. I love the game too much and I want it to be played in a fair way by all and dislike cheating and time wasting is cheating.

Once again I cannot understand that I as a humble ref and blogger can see those things and yet the big boys in the FA headquarters don’t think of such a simple thing to firstly avoid time wasting or reduce it as much as possible and also in the same time avoid such disgusting incidents.

Or I could say once again Untold Arsenal has highlighted a problem long before the rest of the world even thought it to be a problem. And once again Untold has proposed a solution long before others even though there could be a problem.

Why oh why are the football authorities so slow and stupid and can they never look any further than their nose and look at problems or possible problems before they happen…. Well maybe because they are slow and stupid?

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The books…

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Arsenal – West Ham, the preview

By Walter Broeckx

Ok here I sit.

Tony has been snowed in I think and I even don’t know if he will be able to free himself to get to the game.

Billy the Dog McGraw has disapeared when the tried to reach the allotment of Dennis Bergkamp so he also is not here.  Which leaves me the ref-previewer, ref-reviewer, Arsenal supporter with the task of writing a preview for this game.

Let us start with what I am certain of. Some facts.

According to some the ref plays no part so that is already out of the way.

The grass will be greener on the other side of the hill is also a fact.

There will be 22 players on the pitch at kick off unless one of them is named Puncheon.

There will be two managers, one for each team. Living on different planets so we should be careful tonight in case they  would collide at one point. That would be a happy ending for some who don’t see anything good at Arsenal any more as it would be the end of the world as predicted and it will be all Arsène’s fault.

The game will start when the ref blows his whistle and stop when he also does it (blowing his whistle I mean)  but at the end of the game.  Which should be some 90 minutes later. Or 100 minutes. Depending on lost time.  If you would find the lost time, please bring it back to the office of lost items.

 

Let me now start with the bad news: We are having a few injuries it seems. This means no Arteta (big loss), no Coquelin (smaller loss but in the light of the absence of the first one  a bigger loss).  Rumour has it that Diaby is injured. Or rested. Or both.

The good news is that we should habe The Ox and Podolski back in the squad today as they recovered from their illness that prevented them playing at Chelsea. And also Rosicky is back in full training so maybe he could be sitting on the fog bank. Frimpong is also training with the group so maybe he could come in as a defensive midfielder. Which should be his natural position if I remember correct as he has been out, away, out for a while.

 

So who will play for us? And where?

I think we will see Szczesny hanging around in our penalty area for most of the time.

If I would be Wenger I then would put out this team on the field. Mind you I’m not Wenger and probably will make a fool of myself but hey as you don’t want me to talk about the ref I have to write about something else.

Sagna – Mertesacker – Koscielny – Gibbs

No Vermaelen you say? Wait a minute.

Let us take a look at the midfield

Vermaelen

Ramsey             Wilshere           Cazorla

And that leaves us in attack with

Theo             Podolski (if fully fit!)

 

The more intelligent will have discovered by now that this looks like a 4-4-2 but in fact I think both Wilshere and Cazorla should play as half midfield and half attacker. So in fact this is more a 4 – 2+1 – 2+1 formation. Just checking if it ads up to 10 outfield players. It does. Nice work Walter. I could be even a manager. For when I have enough of refereeing. Does it pay well?

Back on the fog bank where the reserves will be placed: Giroud, Arshavin, Rosicky, Frimpong, Mannone (always handy to have a reserve keeper on the fog bank) and give that boy Gnabry another chance over there.

West Ham have a few injured and missing people like Carroll who since his 35M move didn’t have much fun as before and we will only see Chamakh trying to help former players safe in to the ground as he cannot play against Arsenal as he is still an Arsenal player but loaned to them.

Diame has been rolling on everyone’s lips these days and seems to be the best player ever on a football pitch according to some.  Reports say that he is threatening to go to the court if West Ham don’t play the game according to the rules.  But that could be paper talk.

So this is it. This is probably the  worst ever game preview written on Untold or any other website ever. Someone had to do it.It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it as they say.

Over to you now who know much more about those things but who didn’t send in an article that was  better so I had to stick with this.

I could bore you with some words about the ref but I already did that to the annoyance of some. Sure they must be happy now.

If you go to the Emirates have safe journey and most of all: JUST SUPPORT THE TEAM FROM THE FIRST TILL THE LAST MINUTE!

Will you? Thank you!

 

 

 

 

Arsenal – West Ham : what can we expect from the ref?

By Walter Broeckx

As a few people were interested in my comments on the refs in previous games when we talked about the refs (and they did gave us plenty to talk about) I will try to add my referee part to the reviews if I can find the time.

Otherwise they say I talk with hindsight as with the case of Dean. But I thought I had bored you to death with me (and Dogface) warning you for him.

Yet apparently some people still didn’t know it. And some people telling me to talk after the game was a bit easy. It was but that is not my fault. That is more to do with what Dean has been doing again and again for years. But I could and should have warned you more before the game.

And I should have warned you also about the Atkinson-Chelsea combination.  A combination I also thought was well known. And we had it confirmed during the game by the official not being able to hide his bias and resulting in some very debatable goals for Chelsea.

So I will try to do this and if Tony doesn’t mind we can add this to our game preview articles. Not that I possess all the graphics Dogface has but if possible I will try to add a few. But don’t know if I can make it work!

So Andre Marriner it is for the game against West Ham United. 42 years old and should be in his top years. He only has 4 seasons left as a Fifa ref where they have an age limit of 45 and he is from Birmingham it seems. So an outsider for a derby game. Well it couldn’t be any other way as …well there are no London refs to be found.

So how do we usually fair under Marriner?  For those who like some graphics I will try to make it visible.

 

According to my numbers we have had him in 15 games in the PL so far. And we won 9 of those games, had a draw in 2 games and lost 4 of those games. So this gives us a win percentage of 60%. And that is a rather normal win % for Arsenal.

And the same thing we do now for West Ham and try to show you a graphic.

He has done 17 games when West Ham was involved and West Ham only won 3 of those games. That is far worse than their average win % this season but I think not that far off their usual record in the PL over the last years.

When it comes to penalties I have seen that he gave the same amount of penalties in our favour as against us and the same goes for West Ham.

In fact in our last year’s review he came out as one of the best refs in total. He had great competency numbers in general. A total of 75% of correct decisions was well above the average score of 70%.

And also his bias numbers were rather good. His home/away bias was almost the “normal” bias we found. And in the team bias we found many teams having no real positive or negative bias in the games we reviewed.

So the overall picture is of a ref who usually is not really biased. But who can have a bad game. One of those games was last years game between Blackburn – Arsenal. He gave an offside goal to Blackburn (assistant missed it) but he also didn’t give a blatant penalty for a foul from Robinson on Walcott in the last minute of the game. That cost him lots of points and gave him a rather negative Arsenal bias score. Some may also remember the game Arsenal – Liverpool two seasons ago with some late penalties being awarded in that game.

But in the other games he did when Arsenal was around I can’t remember much wrong. So I think it was more down to a bad day at the office.

So unless he has a bad day today I expect a referee who knows his rules and who will not try to tilt the game.

If you like it I will try to do this for each game. That is, if I can find the time. Because with the work I also do for the http://www.refereedecisions.co.uk/ website where you can see a review each day of the week of a PL game coming online, I sometimes find a day should have more than 24 hours.

The books…

The sites…

Who wants to work for Chelsea, who would want to come to Arsenal?

By Tony Attwood

Pep Guardiola as we all know, fooled most people by choosing Germany for his next job.  But even with Pep out of the way I suspect Rafael Benítez still doesn’t anticipate staying at Chelsea beyond the end of the season.  So Mr Abramovich perhaps is looking for another manager.  I wonder who he might get.

Apparently (at least according to a couple of mates in the journalist world who I tend to trust a little more than most) there are quite a few managers around who have replied “no” when invited to come to Chelsea.   But I am not quoting my sources here, so you can take this with a pinch of whatnot if you wish.

The problem is of course that the Chelsea owner has now got a reputation for not supporting his managers as much as the managers would like, and although the managers tend to get a nice pay off at the end, the feeling is, such a pay off never does much for one’s career.  Almost 10 years on and he is not satisfied with his manager.   Overall what he doesn’t seem to get is the fact that change takes time.  He acts like an owner for whom there is never any time.

Several papers have commented on the fact that there is increasing consultation between top managers about clubs and what they are like to manage, and the feeling is that managers with styles and approaches as varied as Messers Ferguson and Wenger made their feelings known when asked by Germany bound Pep.  And it seems they didn’t have much good to say.

Ray Wilkins who actually worked at Chelsea weighed in with a few words, saying, “There is a big salary that comes with the job but also the understanding that you could be relieved of the post at any time.  In my case, it was ‘crash, bang, wallop and off you go’. That’s the way he works. Guardiola may well have decided that he didn’t want to be in a situation like that.”

At Chelsea there has been stability, and there has been the success that many Arsenal fans would love to see again – especially the success (if not the style) of the Mourinho era.

And it can be argued that with trophies pouring in, maybe endless managerial changes don’t matter at all.   But of course the thought is always of the future, and it can also be argued that other clubs on the European stage seem to be progressing at a faster rate than Chelsea.

Part of the success is of course down to the players, and some of those have been there a long time.  John Terry let us not forget came up through the youth team – although I can’t think of many who have done so since then – especially in the last ten years.  And if FFP ever does come to pass, a good youth system is surely going to be essential.
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But what really fascinates me, is the way the crowd at Chelsea has reflected the attitude of the AAA at Arsenal.  The difference to me (and of course I may well have got this wrong) is that the AAA are in a tiny minority of those attending matches at the Ems, but the equivalent group is in a much larger minority for matches at Stamford Bridge.

Part of this is of course due to Benitez and his time at Liverpool, plus the dismay at the dismissal of Di Matteo.  Unity is now often asked for but not always got because of the sheer dislike of that dismissal and that appointment.

What doesn’t happen though is any booing of Abramovich.  Maybe the Chelsea crowd don’t blame him – after all he has delivered an era of unprecedented trophies.  I don’t have my reference book with me but from memory I think Chelsea won just one championship before Abramovich took over.  Sorry if I have remembered that wrong – but Chelsea don’t have a history akin to Arsenal in the 1930s, and its subsequent brilliance and trophies in the earlier years of Mr Wenger’s reign.

My pals in the know (assuming they are not kidding me) tell me that Abramovich actually liked the Arsenal style of play with Henry and Pires in the side and tried to buy Henry for some incredible sum of money.   But it takes time to put the sort of  revolution that Mr Wenger brought, in place – and those of us who were there each fortnight at the time, remember that we did indeed have to wait a little for both of those players truly to show their worth.  Fortunately we also got one player who fitted in from the moment he gained fitness and started playing: Vieira.

But Arsenal have shown that they can await developments.  On the other hand, as Villas-Boas once said, “At Chelsea, I think another sacking is just like any other day at the office.”

So goodness knows who Chelsea get next.   Or come to that Arsenal.  If Mr Wenger decides he has had enough of the AAA who would we get.

Michael Laudrup, Jürgen Klopp, Diego Simeone, and Joachim Löw are all names bandied around.  If style is no longer an issue then the name Mourinho turns up quite a lot too.  It could be any of those guys.  But would they want to come and face a club with the AAA doing its stuff all day long?  I begin to wonder.

Footnote:  During the course of 21st/22nd Jan the site has been bombarded with comments, many of which are from false email addresses, many of which are repeats of other comments.   Our general rules of discussion state that both of these actions are liable to get the post removed, as will posts which are simply abuse.  It is of course fine to argue against anything written here, but abuse, or indeed simply saying this is wrong, without putting up evidence, isn’t really helpful.   I am sorry that I have not been able to edit out all the offending commentaries – time has simply overtaken me.  But at least all the extra hits will have helped keep us at the top of the rankings, and kept our audience figures up, which in turn helps the advertising revenue.   So pain though it might be to fight through some of these commentaries, they do at least serve a purpose (although I must admit I would by and larger sooner not have them here.)

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Arsenal and others will go to court to get Financial Fair Play

By Tony Attwood

A small group of top clubs is willing to take legal action if nothing is done to stop Chelsea, Man City and possibly others evading Uefa’s financial fair play system.

Having put their concerns in writing to the League, Arsenal, Liverpool, Man U and Tottenham, are now openly stating that the full financial fair play rules should be introduced into the League.  And that if Uefa is seen to be issuing minor fines of no significance to clubs that break FFP, the Group of 4 will go to court.

The grounds of the G4’s proposed action is that club owners have taken business decisions based on Uefa’s clear statements that it will be rigorous in introducing FFP, and if they don’t they will be guilty of having misled investors.

John W Henry, owner of Liverpool, has said that he bought Liverpool in 2010 on the basis that FFP would change the way football works and levels out the finances of clubs.   He and others have been encouraged by the fact that the transfer dealings among top clubs had been in decline since the period of the initial run up to full FFP introduction.

Arsenal are in a similar position, with the club’s entire financial system based on the existence of FFP – a system which largely generates a profit for Arsenal.  Meanwhile Man City are willing to lose around £100m a year at a time when FFP allows only a total of £38m loss over this season and last season.

The notion that Man City will make a profit of £62m this season in order to balance the loss is extremely unlikely, and so it looks as if Man City think they have found the loophole in the plans.  All they have done so far is halved the insane losses of the previous year.

The notion that clubs are going to get around FFP and that Uefa will treat FFP avoidance as they treat racism, is given a boost by the fact that we have seen clubs counting the accounts in strange ways – such as with intellectual property rights sales being counted as income.

For Man C the centre of everything is Ethiad airlines which now spends hundreds of millions each year on promoting itself – and yet never once makes a profit.

Chelsea are doing the same, introducing £18m “exceptional share profit” into their accounts, as revealed on the www.financialfairplay.co.uk website.

The same oddities are showing up everywhere as  PSG have put up a deal with the Qatar Tourism Authority as a source of income.  Qatar is of course a prime destination for Parisians each summer.  Or perhaps it is just the owner of PSG.

Nasser Al-Khelaifi knows that Uefa has to show that this deal is between two organisations that are related.  If they can’t prove what we all know – the Qatar owns football clubs – or if the fine is measly then FFP is shot, and the G4 will be the first group to take renegade Uefa to court.

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Arsenal loyalty through locality and history

By Adam Brogden

Arsenal loyalty through locality and history

We seem to be taking a hammering from the media and more disappointingly from ex-players, also fans wanting “like for like” replacements bought in or rather our best players not allowed to leave in the first place.

Most of the above has been covered on Untold but the one thing I want to focus on is this “like for like” replacement. Can we ever get a “like for like” replacement?

My personal opinion is no, not in footballing terms, we can have a replacement of a kind, a similar player but we are all individual on and off the football pitch.

I think what people actually mean is a “ready to play” replacement/player.

Now in terms of a “like for like” and “ready to play” we could use Cesc, Song, RVP, Clichy, Cole and many other as examples of players we thought had loyalty to us and would stay for the duration of their careers but when they left, were they replaced “like for like” or were they replaced with “ready to play” replacements or were they actually replaced before they left?.

Cesc, apparently filled Vieira’s boots (in the first team) when he left but was he “ready to play” YES. Was he “like for like” NO. He was different so we changed the structure of our side.

So when Fabregas replaced Vieira in the first team who replaced Cesc in the reserves and youth set up? Does anyone even care?

Because this is where the view of AFC must be considered.  Let us call it the “conveyor belt system” or “squad system” this needs no real explanation as it should, for the reasonable mind be self-explanatory.

The year Vieira left is the year Song and Diaby both arrived so we could actually state that Song or Diaby replaced Vieira. So take your pick at who replaced the movement of Cesc and Vieira. Both players moved.  One within the squads of Arsenal. The other out of the club, so two players brought in to fill the movements of others. Song and Diaby both moved into the reserves, Cesc in to the first team and Vieira out of the club.

So when Cesc left, who if anyone replaced him?

Well if you followed the above it was actually Song or Diaby coming in to the reserve set up who replaced Fabregas back in 2005, which is a funny thing because Cesc didn’t leave the club until 2011.  Was Song/Diaby a “like for like” player? NO, but they were in AFCs “conveyor system”.  Unknown players with great potential in Wenger’s mind. But weren’t they a replacement for Vieira? Depends on how you look at it.

So I ask you what does “like for like” mean, is it “ready to play” or is it a player of similar quality, mentality, work rate, technique, strength and mobility because as stated above, all players are different. Some are similar granted but you cannot say player x is the same as player y.

When a fan wants a “like for like” signing he/she wants the quality immediately replaced. We sold Cesc for £29 million or so I’m told. So who replaced him and for how much?

Well as stated above, in Arsenal’s squad system it was Diaby or Song who replaced Cesc in our reserves back in 2005. So was the quality replaced? Again depends how you look at it. On departure Cesc was the heartbeat of our side. So no, the quality was not replaced, but back in 2005 when Song or Diaby were brought in he was not the heartbeat of Arsenal he was a player with great potential as were Diaby and Song. So in Arsenal’s conveyor squad system yes he was replaced with a similar potential back in 2005.

And this is where I would like people to compare a player. From the time they arrive not on departure.

The end product for Arsenal-produced players is usually players of a very high standard.  It is somewhat unfair for people to ask for an immediate solution when Arsenal themselves have invested so much time in nurturing a player of quality such as Cesc or RVP.

We will always feel their departure, as would any other team. Take RVP out of the Manchester United side and you will considerably weaken it; the difference between our clubs is that we have a history of producing these irreplaceable players on a frequency that beggars belief.

The quality and time invested in nurturing Arsenal’s players of the future has come at a price and that is that we now have all the money clubs sniffing around our players all the time. Look at the talent we have lost. I know you don’t want reminding so I will not list them, but I’m sure you understand that something had to be done to combat this unforeseen side effect of Arsenals success at producing players of quality.

My initial feeling is that we are now a club in transition; but please note not a team in transition. What Arsenal are seemingly trying to do is keep hold of their young British born players, maybe keep them at the club for life so we can build a club with the loyalty of locality at its heart which will hopefully instil a sense of belonging to our current squad and future squads something which we have lost for different reasons.

If Arsenal are following the Barcelona model you will find us targeting “ready to play” players not as replacements but to complement those that have been nurtured at Arsenal the preceding 8-10 years and are getting closer to or are in the first team.

Arsenal have been the victims of their own successes; they indulged in their scouting network to find and acquire the best in young talent, and nurture them to a high standard.  Now they have been held to ransom by the players and their representation.  So a new direction was needed and they have chosen the direction of loyalty through locality and history.

The players I look too when thinking of this new Arsenal are: Gibbs, Wilshere and those that are yet to make it; Wynter, Bihmoutine, Akpom and many more players who have spent their youth at Arsenal as well as those young British players brought in who could develop the same appreciation for Arsenal; Oxlade-chamberlain, Ramsey, Jenkinson.

So I for one do not want any more “like for like” signings, not in the mould of Cesc, Song, RVP, Clichy or Nasri. Give me a Wilshere, Gibbs, Parlour or Adams then buy me a Bergkamp to complement the diehard Arsenal stock.

Arsenal wants loyalty returned to the club through the loyalty of locality and history.

Written by Adam Brogden.

 

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Uefa reaches insanity as it contemplates the problem of banners on economic matters

By Tony Attwood

It seems there is a fight going on between football authorities and fans, over the use of banners in grounds.   Many groups have seen this as a simple fight between fans who want to express their views, and authorities who don’t want these views expressed.  It is, although there are side issues that need considering.

Stopping the expression of views has long been an issue in football.  Indeed the definitive history of Arsenal FC’s early years tells of matches being held up or abandoned because the referee did not like how the fans were referring to him.

Chanting however now seems to continue without much intervention by the authorities.  True, a lot of racist chanting has been stopped, but as I must have written here a dozen times, little is done about homophobic chanting by away supporters – even when the police and visiting club have all the evidence they need to arrest those responsible.

So, as you will gather from the above, I am actually in favour in stopping some expression within football grounds.

But against this I have always argued that within football grounds you will hear what I choose to call “the language of the street”.  That’s how it is, and that’s what I want to protect.  Not that I particularly like all of it, but I do find some of it funny, and as for the rest, it reflects the language that is used by some supporters, and everyone knows that you will hear such language at football games.

So most expression, by and large, I wish to protect.  I am, and have always been, a total democrat – one of those old farts who told his children in their younger days, “your grandfather fought to give me the right to vote at these elections, and that’s why I have always done it and always will, as long as I can.”  This blog gives me a way of expressing my own views on football.  No one has to read it, but the fact that so many people do is, I will always admit, rather nice.  Even if many of those who write in, disagree.

So back to the topic.  There is the story doing the rounds that Man City supporters tried to put up a banner at the Ems complaining about the price of tickets.   Now the press, in their normal way, are turning anything possible into an anti-Arsenal story.   There is a suggestion that Man City fans were being exploited exclusively, but of course the price they were paying was the price charged for anyone buying tickets.  The Arsenal fans who bought the tickets Man City fans didn’t want, paid the same price.

The point is made in the Guardian that the banner had “a slogan with no swear words or severe antagonism” in it.  I might think that the slogan was wrong on some point of detail (for example that their club has cheaper prices because it is financed by a foreign country) – but I believe fundamentally that the Man C supporters had a right to put it up.

It is also reported that the arch-criminal racist Uefa recently fined Ajax €10,000 after Ajax supporters displayed banners “about the effects of mega-money in football” during a Champions League game against Man City last October.   The banner had the motto “Against Modern Football,” which the Guardian says was, “beneath a cartoon of a sheik holding a bag embossed with a dollar sign, the image presented as a stop sign with a red line through it. Another slogan read “€80 for the away section is ridiculous”, and there were banners with offensive messages aimed at Manchester City, Chelsea, Red Bull Salzburg and Red Bull Leipzig.”

Uefa’s official stance was that the Dutch club was fined for “display of a provocative and inappropriate banner”.

Of course, given all that I have said above, I would work to protect the right of people to display such banners, and express themselves openly, just as I do here.

But… and yes there is a but.   How would I feel if I didn’t particularly support the view on the banner, and it was hoisted in front of me, thus obscuring my view?   Not best pleased, if I had paid a fair bit of money for my ticket.

But that is my only “but”.  As long as the obscuring of the view lasted only a minute or two, (and assuming I didn’t miss a goal that way), no I wouldn’t mind.

The fact that the Uefa ruling had nothing to do with obscuring the view and instead says that the fine was for “display of a provocative and inappropriate banner” shows how Uefa is not only racist but also fundamentally loopy.  Provocative to whom?  Are they really saying that some of the executives of Man City or other clubs are going to be so outraged that they might take their money away?   Hardly likely, but then again, if so, I think quite a few of us would be pleased with that outcome.

And as for “inappropriate” I can not think of something more appropriate than to argue against the insane way football is financed.  Yes I wanted Theo to sign and yes I think his salary is obscene. (I never said that my arguments made full logical sense).

Of course there will soon be a further argument that says: “What if everyone bought a banner”.   I remember some cretin who taught me at my secondary school using this “what if everyone” argument.  It is stupid, because everyone doesn’t – and if they did, then one could change tack and do something about it.

Uefa’s decision to put itself down on the side of those opposing the expression of political and financial opinion, while failing to deal with racist chanting across its territory, gives us a very clear indication of what Uefa is.  The tragedy is that the club of my father and grandfathers is aligned to a body that is itself aligned to Uefa.

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Would change of manager, change anything?

By Walter Broeckx

So let us suppose the board give in to the pressure from some part of the Arsenal fan base and sack the manager today.

What is the main criticism I read about Wenger:

–         He knows nothing about tactics

–         He will not buy players we need

The first one is something that mostly is said by people who haven’t proven anything about their knowledge of  tactics. Unless of course going on the internet and juggling around with all kinds of terms and formations makes you a specialist.

Anyone can produce any type of formation on paper as long as you can count to 10. But being able to do this doesn’t make you fit enough to be a professional football manager. On the computer it is enough. On the real playing field outside: no.

Why do you think in almost all leagues in Europe nowadays it is required that a football manager has a certain degree? They have to follow all kinds of courses, do trainings, to exams and then you can say you can manage a team. As far as I know Wenger has a managerial degree since 1981. So he must know something about tactics. And if you look at his career it sure does seems that he must know a bit about tactics.

In his managerial career he has won 4 league titles and won 11 cup finals.  Now do you really think that he would have won them and wouldn’t have a clue about tactics?  He sure must have the biggest rabbit’s foot in the world.  (Dutch expression – meaning having all the luck in the world). The fact that he managed a team through a whole season unbeaten in the PL, the fact that he in fact changed tactics during the years must mean that he knows something about tactics.

And certainly when you look at the fact that Real Madrid has been trying to get Wenger to their club on a few occasions. The fact that now once again rumours saying that PSG wants to pay him 30M to come to their club and to manage them. Surely those people from top clubs in their country must know that he knows a few things about managing a football team. Or are they dumb? And are those on the internet claiming that Wenger knows f*ck all about tactics much smarter? Well allow me to doubt this.

So this criticism about Wenger not knowing anything about tactics is ridiculous. Unless of course you play football manager 2012 or Fifa2013 or whatever it is called these days.

Next thing is buying players. Of course if you look at the what the media makes of Wenger his words you can sometimes wonder. But when I compare the words spoken on arsenal.com with the words put in his mouth by some part of the media I see completely different things. Now of course it could be that as a person who is not a native speaker of  English could misunderstand some things. Or could it be that Wenger being French uses other expressions that are more accustomed to the French language and do sound a bit different in English?

And so perhaps the media tries to turn those words in something different than Wenger intended. Like his words about the squad being good enough. Well I also do think the squad should be good enough. Not to win the league. I think we are missing one player. A player that wanted to leave at all cost. With him I think we would be where United is now.

And even after those two defeats I still think the team is good enough for a place in the top 4. The second half against both City and Chelsea gave me the impression that when the team really goes for it without any handbrakes on they can win from any team.  Just have to find a way to get that handbrake off.

But Wenger also has said that he wants to bring more players to the club. But only when they will improve the team. Do we want another wrong buy? Do we want another Chamakh? Do we want another Squilacci?  Well I think Wenger also doesn’t want another of those. So if we have the choice of buying another Chamakh/Squilacci do you think he should go for it and spend his money on those players?

I understand that Wenger only wants to buy a player of whom he is 95% sure he will add something to the team. And yes even then it could go wrong. You don’t have any certainties when working with human beings. I think Wenger his track record is rather good when it comes to buying players. How many times in the last 7 seasons have fans moaned about Wenger having bought Van Persie. During his injury years and when he signed a new deal many were up in arms that Wenger spend money on this always injured player. Wenger knew why. And so do all of us by now. Of course Wenger couldn’t foresee that he would be an ungrateful **** after all the time and money spend on him. That is part of those 5%.

But would a new manager be able to spend lots of money on new players. People claim that Gazidis said he could spend 35M. He never said something like that to me to be honest. And if you have a link to arsenal.com saying so I would be happy to read it. But those 35M, well that is one top player and than the money is gone. Would I mind spending him that money? NO. I wouldn’t mind spending that money at all. But we have to keep in mind that this money is the result of years of saving up money. And it could be gone in one second. With all the kicking again allowed by the refs in recent games against our players it could be that a new player could be out for 1 season.

Now of course we could go out and buy all the Remy’s, the M’Villa’s the Mbyia’s from France that are linked to us. Most of us don’t know them in fact but let that be no problem for buying them. Maybe those players could offer something extra to QPR. Or to Newcastle. As those clubs are trying to buy each and every player that has been linked to us. Leaving our fans moaning about another missed player. And when one of them scores in his first game, the moaning gets even bigger. But let us wait till the end of the season to see if they are a real success. Remember Chamakh and the start of his Arsenal career? One swallow doesn’t make a spring

And the final problem: will a club sell one of their stars to Arsenal at this time of the season? Let us look at the big names that are mentioned in the media: If you would be president of Naples would you sell Cavani now? If you would be president of Dortmund would you sell Gotze right now? If you would be president of Everton would you sell Fellaini right now?

Do those players want to leave their club right now?

The only way such a big player can come is when both he and his club agree on such a move. If they don’t want it, then it is impossible to buy them. And that is something that stays the same whoever our manager might be. And that will not change if we change our manager.

Chelsea v Arsenal and how Arsenal helped Chelsea overcome Tottenham and enter the League.

By Billy the Dog McGraw

Celebrations of Herbert Chapman day yesterday went on way into the early hours so we are very late with the Chelsea v Arsenal article, but here it is finally.

The allotment at Enfield is under 16 feet of snow, and Dennis B is sitting in the potting shed looking glum, pondering his pint of Ponder Rosa Pink.   But I still managed to get a word or two.

Chelsea’s origins in 1905 are well known.  A coal tip for the railways was turned into an athletics track, but the idea then came up that it could be a football ground.   So work started and it was named Stamford Bridge with the notion that a non-existent team could be invented to play there.

The name “Chelsea” was chosen, and they applied for a place in the Southern League Division 2.  Tottenham Hotspur objected to another club in London (even though it was Fulham who would be threatened by the arrival of a new club in a new stadium) and the Southern League dutifully did Tottenham’s bidding and rejected the non-existent (as in no players, no fans, and only a half-built ground).

Chelsea then, noting that Woolwich Arsenal were in the Football League, applied for a spot there, and got in, interestingly with Woolwich Arsenal voting and speaking in favour of the new club.

So Chelsea was formed and elected to the league thanks to the forward thinking vision of one club and the backward looks of another.

So to today.  We might expect to see

Szczesny;

Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaeln, Gibbs;

Diaby, Cazorla

Wilshere

Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Podolski

Arteta and Rosicky still have calf problems, Gervinho is in Africa, and  Fabianski is ready to start full training on Monday.  The ref is Martin Atkinson.

As for the other team, Terry could start, Cole might fire an air rifle, Rafael Benitez wants to manage Real Madrid, John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses are in Africa.

We looked at Chelsea’s home record yesterday, noting how home fans turning against a team can make life very difficult.  Since Roberto Di Matteo went, Chelsea have won once at home.  As for past results at Stamford B. they are 25 wins for us 25 wins for them and 25 draws.  But our current form shows WWWW in the last four games.

Sitting and getting cold we could have any of these:

Mannone, Martínez, Giroud, Jenkinson, Yennaris, Mert, Gnabry, Squillaci, André Santos, Arshavin, Ramsey, Coquelin,

I thought Coquelin did very well mid-week, so we could well see him come on at some stage.

And that’s about that I guess.  With the road out of my village just about impassable, I’m stuck at home with Sky.  Good luck to those who actually have made it to the ground.

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