Did Arsenal and Brighton agree to hurt Tottenham on Sunday?



By Sir Hardly Anyone

Yesterday was indeed an upset and a half, and one on which a fortune could have been made had one been able to predict the score.  But besides virtually ruining any remaining chance Arsenal had of claiming the title, the result at the Ems yesterday did have a particular effect.   It made Tottenham’s chances of Europe next season even less likely than they previously were.

And no European football at Tottenham would be an utter disaster for the club that is already in deep financial trouble.

Their new ground is still sold out for each match of course, but there are big holes in the Tottenham Hotspur budget, most notably that of the lack of a ground sponsor who would have paid a lot of any 20-year naming agreement fee across the first couple of seasons of the deal.   

But also budgeted into the arrangements was a continuity of appearances in Europe.  This approach was founded on the achievement of reaching the final of the Champions League in 2019, and although no lender would have accepted a proposal that the club was going get there year on year, the notion in the financial planning was that regular appearances in the knock out stages, with all the money that brings, were a sure-fire thing.

After all, Arsenal had done it from 1998/9 through to 2016/17, and if Arsenal could do it, there was no reason why Tottenham, with a much more modern stadium and more with-it leaders who clearly understood English and European football, could not do the same.

Except that the Champions League appearances only lasted from 2016/17 to 2019/20.   But, it was suggested, that was no matter because after a year in the Europa and a year in the Conference (in which the club refused to complete all its games, despite a Uefa warning of what would happen if they didn’t) Tottenham were back in 2022/23 in the Champions League and the financial model was back on track.

Except (again) that they were knocked out of the Champs League in the first knock out round, and now have no chance of finishing in the top four.   In fact there is quite a possibility they will not actually make Europe at all.

As things stand Tottenham are in the Conference League position, a competition they so despised that even when in it last time, as noted above, they wouldn’t complete their fixtures, and all due to Brighton beating Arsenal.


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 35 27 4 4 92 31 61 85
2 Arsenal 36 25 6 5 83 42 41 81
3 Newcastle United 35 18 12 5 63 31 32 66
4 Manchester United 35 20 6 9 51 41 10 66
5 Liverpool 35 18 8 9 67 42 25 62
6 Brighton and Hove Albion 34 17 7 10 66 45 21 58
7 Tottenham Hotspur 36 17 6 13 65 59 6 57
8 Aston Villa 36 17 6 13 48 44 4 57


But now here’s the thing.  They are only in seventh place by dint of a goal difference of +2.  And when one looks at the two teams in terms of their last six games, things don’t look too clever.


Premier League Form (Last 6)
Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
5 Aston Villa 6 3 1 2 7 4 3 10
18 Tottenham 6 1 1 4 10 17 -7 4
19 Leeds 6 0 2 4 7 17 -10 2
20 Southampton 6 0 1 5 7 15 -8 1


There is no telling what will happen of course, but even a Conference League appearance would leave Tottenham massively short on the money they expected (and all the media told them they were right to expect) from another season in the Champions League, and coming on top of the lack of a stadium sponsor that is going to be problematic.

So did Brighton and Arsenal conspire to give Brighton a lift up the table and let them challenge for fourth?

I’m not suggesting that at all.  For Arsenal, second place was already secure.  But taking Odegaard and Xhaka off seemed really strange – at best it could be said to be a case of offering a chance for others to play, and for a different tactical approach to be tried out.   But such experiments are always a gamble, and the fact that Arsenal didn’t mind gambling in front of a full house is itself interesting.

Getting Tottenham out of Europe totally is a huge ask, given the easy fixtures they have left and compared with the tough games remaining for Villa, so Tottenham might still make it into the Conference.  But if so it will be hard for the club to celebrate that as an achievement, and their bankers will be looking askance at the cash flow.

Meanwhile, the court case against Manchester City raises questions now about each and every trophy they manage to get through their dodgy accounting techniques.  I am not at all sure that if the 100 cases against the club brought by the rest of the Premier League are won, Arsenal will be awarded the title this season or if Manchester City will simply be stripped of it, but at the very least I would expect Arsenal to be seen as the moral victors of this season when the final reckoning comes. 

19 Replies to “Did Arsenal and Brighton agree to hurt Tottenham on Sunday?”

  1. Ha ha ha ha ha, top of the table for majority of the season then you have your very own bottle job, blow the league title chance then write about this! You poor deluded woolwich wanderer grow up and stop trying to deflect from your teams own choking the chance, you mug.

  2. Of all the pathetic tribal footbal blogs I’ve ever read, this has to be the best/worst example yet – Arsenal threw away and 8-point lead in just over a month and lost 3-0 at home to Brighton when a win was essential, but you’ve chosen to focus on the possibility that it might make Spurs poorer. Absolutely hilarious!

  3. You must be a closet Spurs fan to even suggest that Arsenal players would, instead of fighting till the last moment for the title, deliberately tank the game to hurt Spurs in a much lower league position. True Arsenal fans won’t discredit their own players like that.

  4. Mike that is a really wonderful reply to a piece which contains the lines

    “So did Brighton and Arsenal conspire to give Brighton a lift up the table and let them challenge for fourth?
    I’m not suggesting that at all.”

    It leaves me wondering what makes a person deliberately ignore a fundamental part of an article in order to argue the opposite. That is a most strange – but still very interesting – way of seeing the world.

  5. mRK I am very glad you have been amused. I think you have perhaps not read the name of the blog – it is Untold Arsenal – the site that covers topics and arguments that no one else ever does. I guess you perhaps feel that some possibilities should never be explored – it is the sort of censorship I abhore.

    As I have noted elsewhere the article says, “So did Brighton and Arsenal conspire to give Brighton a lift up the table and let them challenge for fourth? I’m not suggesting that at all.”

    So perhaps the really hilarious bit is that you didn’t read that, or maybe couldn’t quite grasp the meaning.

  6. He took off Xhaka and Jorginho and Odegaard because our midfield was being embarrassed and shown to be too slow on the day . The introduction of Nelson showed just how lethargic we had been for large parts of the game especially after Martinelli was taken out in retribution for his foul on Mitoma. The midfield didn’t operate and when that happens Odegaard is starved out of the game , Jesus drops too deep and Saka is isolated on the wing . Once Martinelli was off Mitoma had a free run at White as Trossard is good going forward but doesn’t have Martinelli’s pace to get back and double up on a winger.
    It all stemmed from midfield where we will have to make serious upgrades if we wish to compete in the Champions League as opposed to just turning up.

  7. Interesting to hear Tottenham fans talk about bottling .
    Who can forget the title runoff between Leicester and Spurs, where Spurs ended up third.
    Spurs even donate their name to a form of bottling

  8. How can it be bottling when nobody ever predicted us to be where we are ? Spuds, United, Liverpool, Chelsea… all were named as certainties to make it to the top 4. Arsenal in the top 4 ? No chance…. they said. So whatever the outcome… I had a great season. Didn’t enjoy every minute of course but I first suggest the other teams to focus on their bottling job.

  9. It was irritating to see us not be able to compete in the second half yesterday but for the first 3/4 of the match it was entertaining; I always thought we had some goals in us especially after missing the goal on a number of occasions by mere inches. But to not acknowledge the efforts of Brighton would be churlish. We were outplayed and our only way forward is to learn from it.

    Did our team bottle it? Maybe, but perspective is important. The criticism that we received last summer was the lack of quality. The criticism that we received at Christmas was lack of depth. The criticism that we received in February was lack of experience. The criticism that we are receiving now is that we bottled it. So, which is it? It may actually be a bit of all of these. Would we benefit from having from having a some better, more experienced players at all positions who have proven themselves in squeeky bum time? Yes, we would but I like our players and style and I have confidence that some moves will be made over the summer to improve the club. And , in the meantime, until we win the Premier League we have to put up with the comments of the supporters of the 18 teams that shall finish below us in the table.

    Hats off to the Man City players, they have deserved their accolades. If their owners have cheated they will be found out and sanctioned…or not… but that really has nothing to do with the play on the pitch. They can field two fantastic sides… They seem to have unlimited resources to put into the team and we don’t but that complaint rings hollow and smacks of puerile and arrogant hypocrisy in the eyes of at least a half of the Premier League who don”t have our resources.

    So…two more matches…Up the Guns!

  10. GoingGoingGooner

    Very well said.

    It hurts, of course it does. But I said weeks ago when we were 8 points ahead that it was going to be tough, very tough to hang on.

    The reality was:

    We were only really 5 points ahead as city had a game in hand that, given the form they had hit, was a gimme.

    We were only really 2 points ahead as we still had to go to the Etihad and given the form they had hit that was always going to be a loss.

    We still had to go to Liverpool who are the 3rd best home team in the premiership and had also hit form, baring a couple of mis steps away from home.

    We still had Brighton to visit us and as I pointed out back then, they are the 3rd best away team in the Premiership and were always going to be real test, and so it proved.

    West Ham away is never an easy game.

    Okay Southampton at home was 2 very poor points dropped, and yesterday we wasn’t good, or Brighton were very good, however you want to look at it. But all those others were not actually terrible results. If they had been spread across the season nobody would of blinked an eye. It’s just that the way the fixtures panned out allowed us to get a lead. Not an enormous lead, especially when it’s a team like Man City chasing you down, but a lead that at least looked big. But that was deceptive.

    Personally I expected Man City to catch us, and so it has proved. Maybe not quite so quickly but hey, we are still miles clear of the 3rd team and as has been pointed out, not many expected that.

    Doesn’t stop them having a good whinge up though does it.

  11. Not whinging just in the words of Basil Fawlty :- Stating the bleeding obvious, Of 0ur top scorers
    Saka has been dead on his feet for a month or so and only playing in patches . Martinelli and Odegaard similar .
    It’s not because as some might say because Arteta didn’t use his substitutions wisely but because his alternatives were not there Nelson , ESR , spent most of the season injured and have only got back at the death. We bought Trossard and Jorginho in the january window but it wasn’t enough .
    They were outrun yesterday , neither Jorginho or Xhaka are known for their pace , Brighton were fresher and the City result earlier must have had an effect too. We were second to virtually every loose ball and the midfield was overrun . It’s been coming for a few weeks and we have managed to salvage points on the way but as stated the lead albeit good looking on paper was subject to the fixture back up .
    We have had a good season but work needs to be done to stay ahead of the chasing pack.

  12. Bobby re the “Woolwich wanderer ” snide comment which is of course remembering an event that took place 110 years ago. We might as well add the Wormwood Scrubs/Wembley wanderers that is tiny totts of the N17 High Street a more recent event that you’ve overlooked as for the bottle job claims I put it to you 13 championships in123 attempts is 1 in 9 and a half years which is a reasonable return. Unlike 1 championship every 61and a half years from the kharzimen bottlers .
    Perhaps the conference league beckons for you once more , that is if you can be bothered to turn up.

  13. Bobby re the “Woolwich wanderer ” snide comment which is of course remembering an event that took place 110 years ago. We might as well add the Wormwood Scrubs/Wembley wanderers that is tiny totts of the N17 High Street a more recent event that you’ve overlooked as for the bottle job claims I put it to you 13 championships in123 attempts is 1 in 9 and a half years which is a reasonable return. Unlike 1 championship every 61and a half years from the kharzimen bottlers .
    Perhaps the conference league beckons for you once more , that is if you can be bothered to turn up.

  14. Porter

    Just to be clear I wasn’t referring to your good self.

    Agree with every word of your post.

    One of those days. It happens to everyone, except it seems City of course, well at least not as often. Forest anyone?

  15. Nitram that’s ok

    Reading .around however there are many sites that are looking to blame without seeing the bigger picture and i sometimes wonder if the people writing them actually understand football.
    I try to keep out of the bitching that goes on and I base my comments on what i see on the pitch. Unlike your selves on here I am not particularly into statistics but I played semi pro ( badly ) and have been watching the Arsenal since 1956 . So I think my thoughts are valid and I try to keep to the football.

  16. Porter – the emphasis on statistics of late has come primarily from myself in writing articles, and has happened because I do think that most of the media got Arsenal totally wrong this season, and I was trying to show why, and then later how. I’m trying to reduce the level of stats, but when one is complaining that journalists simply write opinion as fact, I feel the need to back up my facts! But I am aware it can get boring!!

  17. porter and Tony

    I too am aware that stats can become boring, but worse to me is that opinion alone can be meaningless. We all can, and do, have opinions, but just saying I think ‘x’ simply, on the basis of what I see with my own eyes, is simplistic and easily countered with, I think ‘y’ on the basis of what I see with MY own eyes.

    As I have said on here many times before, that really just results in a to and fro argument in the vein of Monty Python’s famous argument ‘sketch’, which is effectively just an endless succession of ‘yes it is’ ‘no it isn’t’ rants.

    The point is, without any supporting evidence, or stats, both claims have equal validity. But the fact is, both claims actually mean very little, without evidence.

    The perfect example of this was the claim by many Newcastle fans last week that Arsenal in general, and Ramsdale in particular, were a disgrace on the basis that they wasted time from the first minute, either by Ramsdale keeping the ball or our substitutions taking forever.

    Now this ‘opinion’ can easily be countered by ‘no they didn’t’ which would immediately be countered by ‘Yes they did’, and round and round it goes, with each claim having equal validity, or NO validity at all, depending on how you want to look at it.

    So how do you progress the debate, or ‘argument’, from the simplistic ‘yes it is’ ‘no it isn’t’ cyclical dead end of opinion alone, to some sort of conclusion?

    Evidence that’s how, and evidence unforetuneately is often in the form of those boring, and often much maligned statistics.

    But that’s the point I made. Yes you can have the opinion or ‘feeling’ Arsenal time wasted. You can think you KNOW what you have seen with your own eyes, but your eyes can deceive you, especially when other factors come in to play. Other factors such as emotion. Pre conditioned bias. Peer pressure, or following the crowd. To name but 3.

    My opinion or ‘feeling’ was that we hadn’t ‘time wasted’ at all. My feeling was that in the heat of battle, away from home, under extreme duress, our players had performed exemplary. But that was just MY opinion and it means no more than those Newcastle fans opinion who think we were a disgrace.

    So, I did what any self respecting nerd does, and looked at the stats. Or in this case the times.

    And what that showed was that the time taken over our substitutions and Ramsdales distribution, was the premier league average, or bellow.

    That, is evidence. That, in a court of law is PROOF. Simply saying ‘No it isn’t’, as valid as one’s opinion my or may not be, isn’t.

    Okay stats are boring, I get it, but surely boring is preferable to meaningless?

    Well, that’s how I see it anyway.

  18. Spurs being Spurs , need no help from us in shooting their own foot . They have made it an art form !
    In retrospective , we have had a great season . But we are not quite there yet . But being second best is no mean feat . Especially as almost all the others have changed horses in mid stream.
    Hope we go on to better things next season .
    Up the Gunners !

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