Arsenal’s great experiment which wasn’t and United’s failure which was


By Tony Attwood

We were told a lot about the three youngsters who were, according to the media, going to burst into Arsenal’s team in the Champions League.  But as it turned out the side was….

Ramsdale; Cedric, Saliba, Gabriel, Kiwior; Elneny, Jorginho; Trossard, Havertz, Nelson; Nketiah.

Of course Arteta couldn’t openly say it before but the chances of the three teenagers who had never played before for the first team, even in a match that didn’t matter, actually playing in yesterday’s Champions League game were vanishingly small.   They were there as a reward for hard work and progress, as a way of saying you are “in the group”.  It was in short a day and night trip.

The point being that a cock-up under pressure is always possible, and that is the risk of bringing a youngster in too early: instead of it being a reward it becomes a nightmare – the source of taunts by supporters of rival teams, something that ultimately can only be forgotten by the young player moving clubs.

Of course the media, and indeed most supporters don’t do psychology, so such issues cannot be considered, and that’s why the suggestion was left that the youngsters would play given that they had been taken all this way…

Instead what we saw was the experiment of Declan Rice returning to his original position at West Ham as a centre back, as Arteta ponders what happens if Saliba gets injured again.   Just as Eddie needs lots of games to keep him happy and ready for the time when the forward line needs sorting out once again.  He is as we have seen, making his name as a forward despite having others in front of him.

And as we noted yesterday, all this was against a team that is not just unbeaten domestically but is in fact undrawn as well.

So we now know the qualifiers for the knock out stages.   12 clubs were immediately known, and four more came in at the tail end. 

And it is interesting to note some of the leaky defences there have been in the six qualifying games, such as Manchester United with 15 goals conceded this season, beating the great record holders that are Tottenham with 14 goals conceded in 2019/20.  And a dishonourable mention going to Newcastle United who let in 13 in six Champs League games in 20022/3.  It just shows that those records are always up for grabs.

So Manchester United are now out of Europe totally, and thus might start to rebuild their shattered image, although the discontent among their fans and the journalists’ love of an easy story, should help to hold them down for a while.

But back in the domestic competition, the “last six league games” table shows that there is a certain amount of shaking it all about going on.  Without looking at the table you might take a guess that Liverpool are at the top of the tree, and Aston Villa doing rather well, but who else is in top four over the last six?

The answer is Bournemouth and Everton – yes Everton are on the up after being docked the ten.  Just goes to show.   And here are a few other highlights from the last six game table, which for reasons best known to themselves most of the football websites and blogs won’t touch with a barge pole.

Manchester City are down in ninth, while Tottenham who but a little while ago were the utter darlings of the journalists and reported to be ready to start a challenge for the top of the league are down in 17th.


Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 6 4 2 0 13 6 +7 14
2 Bournemouth 6 4 1 1 13 9 +4 13
3 Everton 6 4 1 1 10 6 +4 13
4 Aston Villa 6 4 1 1 9 6 +3 13
5 Arsenal 6 4 0 2 10 7 +3 12
6 Man Utd 6 4 0 2 7 5 +2 12
7 West Ham 6 3 1 2 10 13 -3 10
8 Fulham 6 3 0 3 17 10 +7 9
9 Man City 6 2 3 1 16 11 +5 9
10 Brighton 6 2 3 1 10 9 +1 9
11 Newcastle 6 3 0 3 7 10 -3 9
12 Wolverhampton 6 2 1 3 8 9 -1 7
13 Chelsea 6 2 1 3 13 15 -2 7
14 Sheffield Utd 6 2 1 3 5 12 -7 7
15 Brentford 6 2 0 4 7 10 -3 6
16 Burnley 6 1 1 4 8 9 -1 4
17 Tottenham 6 1 1 4 11 14 -3 4
18 Crystal Palace 6 1 1 4 7 10 -3 4
19 Luton 6 1 1 4 8 12 -4 4
20 Nottingham Forest 6 1 1 4 7 13 -6 4

2 Replies to “Arsenal’s great experiment which wasn’t and United’s failure which was”

  1. Tony, read Reiss Nelson’s interview and you’ll discover how happy he was to play from start up.
    He may be a sqad player, but he filled up with positive energy, the more so combining with Eddie on the goal.
    Good that Arteta did not forget him. and in the pecking order he definitely is ahead of the ‘kids’.
    And in good health.

  2. Did Spurs get a trophy to put in their empty trophy cabinet for winning the PL in October ? And it’s not very edifying watching the legacy media predicting when or how long it is before ETH gets the sack. And their speculating that Graham Potter, who found the Chelsea job too big, is being lined up for the even bigger United job is pure Alice in Wonderland conjecture

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