Where the bleedin’ hell is the preview of the Stoke game?

Article history: because of the difficulties explained below, bits of this article were added as time went by.  Last update 1108 GMT, 27 Feb

By Billy the Dog McGraw

Tony telephoned me in an absolute panic (you know how he gets worked up so easily) saying that Phil had sent in his Stoke City preview last night, but hadn’t attached the file to his email, and there was nothing to run in the saturday morning edition.

Naturally I stepped into the breach and starting writing thus….


Stoke City F.C., whom we play today is said by some to be the second oldest English football club in the league.   However they hold a much more exciting record than this.  They were formed in 1863 but didn’t play a game until October 1868, against an EW May XV at the Victoria Cricket Club ground.

Several things strike me about this.  First, what the hell were they doing for those five years.

Second, why did they allow the other side to play with 15 men.

After years of detailed research in the Toppled Bollard public house, Islington, I have discovered the answer.


Then at that very moment Tony said he had just received another email from Phil with the attachment attached in an attache like manner, and so I could bugger off and stop writing.


Have you ever heard such cheek?

Your old chum,

Billy “The Dog” McGraw.


Stoke vs Arsenal preview

By Phil “what’s an attachment?” Gregory.

An enormous game for us this weekend, and one of two left in our run-in that I think the majority of us would mark down as a tricky game. Our record at the Britannia is uninspiring since Stoke’s promotion, but the teams that lost there during 08/09 and the FA Cup this season are completely different animals to our strongest available side.

While players such as Arshavin, Gallas and Diaby are out for the game, Bendtner has certainly made a difference to our attack this season. The young Dane isn’t Van Persie, but he doesn’t have to be. With a aerial striker as part of the front three, we become one-dimensional lacking a route-one counter attacking option. Bendtner is a class act in the air, and his presence ensures that we have more chances as we win significantly more of the aerial duels in the final third.

Gallas, on the form that he has been this season, is always going to be a loss but Sol has surprised many in his appearances in an Arsenal jersey so far and will provide aerial nous.

The main talking point is, of course Stoke’s home form. It is possible to over exaggerate it: after all, they have won less than half of their home games. They are resilient at the Britannia, with only two defeats there in the League this season. We however are the Arsenal, and travel there in expectation of a return journey three points richer, and with a few demons exorcised.

Naturally, the pundits trot out their statistics, but the side that player there in the FA Cup is almost unrecognisable to the side that will play tomorrow, and I don’t need to mention the immeasurable improvements this team has made from November 2008 to present.

Expected line-up:


Sagna Campbell Vermaelen Clichy


Fabregas Denilson

Rosicky Bendtner Nasri

Honorable mentions to Theo, Eboue, Ramsey, et al

I’ve gone for the more cautious lineup I expect Wenger to take. Both wide men can work hard and offer something defensively, but more importantly their greatest assets are their respective abilities in possession of the ball. If we went for more direct widemen, such as Theo and Eboue, we may open up more chances on the counter but we would also have less possession. I look at that team, and anybody, even Vermaelen can pass the ball under pressure.

Such a lineup allows us to soak up pressure or more likely have the creative players to pick a route through the massed Stoke lines. Our more direct players can go on in the latter stages, and look to exploit the space left behind when Stoke have to come out looking for an equaliser.

We all know what Stoke will offer, and we have to match their level of commitment. The level of technical skill showcased by team should mean Stoke are chasing shadows. Even the Premier League referees will punish a late tackle, so the plan should be this: pass quickly, and make them run. They’ve played  120 minutes against City in midweek, we have had a rest. Arguably, the game should tilt in our favour the longer it goes on.

So, predictions. I’m probably going for a victory for the Arsenal, but a narrow one nonetheless. 0-1 or 1-2. We’re not the most secure at the book, and while we’re not scoring as freely as we are capable of we need to make sure leads are protected properly. This is one of our few “tough” fixtures remaining, so maximum points here and we really put the pressure on our title rivals.

Anyone else making this game? Being at Leeds at university, only really the northern/midlands games are accessible, so I like to make the most of them. If you spot a gooner with no name or number on the back of the shirt, do say hello!


the BILLY THE DOG rumour special

straight from the allotment, Enfield

The EPL is starting a new rule next season preventing managers from opting out of post-match interviews.

Rule Q17, says: “With effect from season 2010-11 all managers are required to attend in person and participate in post-match interviews held by or for the benefit of a UK broadcaster or radio broadcaster and failure to do so without just cause shall be a breach of these rules.”

Sir Flaffall McFerguson, Mr Raggaty Redknappy and Sam the Slug have all  boycotted the BBC because they have said things about their respective sons, or suggested they are crooks.

So here, exclusively, is the first interview given by Sir Flafflala to the BBC after the opening fixture of the new season

BBC: Well, your grace, your lordship, your magnificance, Man U 0 Stoke City 0 – a bit dull wasn’t it?

Sir Fliffolflof: Screw you, you downbeat gibberwok.

BBC: So a defensive game them, your overwhelmingness.  How did you see it go.

Sir Flodebeatbackstab: I’m not talkin t ye Jimmy.  Say another word and ye’ll see me fist lad.

BBC: Yes, your overwhelming importance, a dull second half too.  Those substitutions of yours didn’t quite work did they – taking off Rooney and bringing on a Norwegian cockeral.

Sir Flangebucket: You takin the piss Jimmy I’ll see you rund the back of the bike sheds and don ye try bringin yer mates yer bunch of TV Centre scrottle.

BBC: So your impending gloryness…



“How we will use this surplus remains undecided but, in addition to investing in the team, I think we will examine investment in club projects and infrastructure, both in and around Emirates Stadium, which will provide a long-lasting benefit to the club and our tremendous, loyal supporters.”

Mr Hill Wood, chairman Arsenal FC, announcing the half yearly profits, 2010.


Back in the world of sanity

Almunia: are we being unfair. By ex-keeper now referee, Walter Broeckx
“Making the Arsenal” – the novel.  Final few copies of the first edition (about 40) available from Amazon.co.uk and from the publishers direct.
Our new superstarWellington Silva
The opening of Very Old Trafford
The days when football journalists could write, entertain and make us laugh (a true newspaper report about Arsenal in the 1930s)

EPL owes more money than the rest of Euro football combined.

Arsenal win the league: the start of the new golden era.

Why did Arsenal move to Highbury, and not somewhere else?

43 Replies to “Where the bleedin’ hell is the preview of the Stoke game?”

  1. To all you gents off to the game Have fun! And, safe travels!

    Phil, I have grown to appreciate what you have broken down here.

    I can’t stand how much credit Pulis gets and the Potters for that fact!
    They don’t deserve it because they play Rugby-like time wasting crap!

    Something to add here of the home games for Stoke-6 Wins of 13. (0 against top 4)
    3 losses of 13 (2 against top 2) other Birmingham
    4 Draws of 13 (1 against top 4) other L’pool,Wigan, Wolves

  2. There’s another story that has just broken… Stoke are debt free.

    Actually when you look at it, they are not at all debt free. They are debt free if you discount the debt they owe to the owners! So if they are debt free, Aston Villa are debt free, Bolton Wanderers are debt free….

    The key question is, are Stoke one of these clubs where the owner lends the club money and charges a fairly nifty rate of interest on it? If so, it is not all quite as altruistic as some may suggest. And (although it is hypothetical in Stoke’s case) they wouldn’t qualify for the Champs League.

  3. PS sorry about the loss of Avatars etc. We are playing with the site at the moment, and hope to get back to more silliness in due course.

  4. @Tony,

    What is amazing is the constants… Huh?

    Constant vision of Wenger in regards to the Arsenal..

    Silverware…. You can count them and you can’t take them away

    Personnel…. From youth to 1st team. We have it all and will for years to come!

    Sustainability…Stadium(new), wage structure, and all of the rest.

    Confidence of the board….He will never be under pressure! How much do you want to bet that the reason Wenger has been offered Manager for life is because…

    In his interview for this manager position in 97 his business plan included everything I mentioned above including “in the event of an economic downturn my plan for sustainability.’

    Finally, because I can’t hold back…. My word for the original D&G site (Le Groin, Le Groan, or Le Gripe take your pick!) will be forced to eat all words uttered against Wenger, and soon! They will have nothing but a band of brothers that will become Spud supporters!

  5. Tim, it indeed was a great result.. And a great start to the weekend. A win against Stoke would make it even better!!!

  6. Yep great result. Could watch it until it was 1-3 and then had to get one of my sons back home. So it was nailbiting in the car.
    Now let’s grab the 3 points ourselves and … we are realy, realy full in contention.

  7. Thanks for the link Flint. I even didn’t know this before and makes me feel good. Yes we can be proud of our club. Very proud.

  8. Walter and the rest of the universe, the EPL launches its own channel next year showing the games. Not available in UK, but in rest of the world.

    Meanwhile, wilshere is playing today, and JET has gone on loan again.

    God, I hate catch-up games.

  9. @Tony,
    Are you linking me to what I think you are with my Avatar?

    And, with glasses no less!

  10. must win game. if the cheski result isnt enuf 2 motivate the players then ther aint enuf hungr. i reckon 4-1 to arsenal.

  11. I hope Wilshere plays more and for the rest of the Bolton fixtures….Bolton play Chelsea, Manu, & Aston Villa among others…I am sure that’s in part the reason AW loaned him out!

  12. For Ramsey!!!!

    This team have the balls and we’re GONNA win the league… Lets do it guys.. For Ramsey!!!

  13. It had to come once again. Whole season the press has been saing lets kick Arsenal as they don’t like it and again we have a very bad injury.
    I’m glad, very glad with the 3 points but my heart is bleeding for Aaron Ramsey.
    And for those D&G who thinkg Cesc is not committed have you seen how full of fire he was after this and how he was leading by example and letting the world know what he is thinking of the way Stoke play. And I am not saying playing football as what they play just is not football.

  14. Sorry for the language but f**k off Pulis for having a go at Cesc for a “late” tackle……

    The f****ng ex-manure boy almost murder Ramsey on the field and he has guts to moan…..

    And to every doubters out there —– f**k off because our players just showed how to play for the club and the fans, every single one of them out there.

    I fucking love this team!!!!!!!!!!

    *****I almost faint when I saw Ramsey’s injury, really hope he will recover very very very well and nothing too bad’s happened to him*****

  15. Walter;

    I completely agree as the first 20 minutes or so of this game was like watching “throwball”, the new invention of a game invented by the genius of Tony Pulis and the brain of Rory Delap. Completely uttering depressingly BORING!

  16. Walter, f**k the press, f**k the D&G, f**k every single anti-arsenal person on this world. I dont give a damn abt them.

    I cried until the final whistle for Ramsey. Its Diaby and Eduardo all over again. and when Vermaelen cried like a small kid, I felt the pain. Felt like I hurt my leg. Clichy and Sol consoled the team. And this time we are not gonna crumble. We have the balls to show everyone that WE no longer fear them. We wont crumble. We’ll fight and fight for the title.

    Lets do it for Ramsey and I ask for every single Arsenal fan/supporter on this planet to get behind the team. The team wants to win the title. Come on Gunners!!!

  17. It makes me sick how kicking Arsenal is the accepted way to win in the PL. I hope AW and every Arsenal player, former player, and supporter makes a big stink about this. This cannot die. The poor kid’s career is at stake, and more of our players’ careers will be.

    First Eduardo and now Ramsey. They are not just chance accidents. It’s systemic kicking and fouling, and it’s accepted and laughed at by everyone in England but Arsenal fans.

    It’s not fucking rocket science you piece of shit FA referees. Call the fucking fouls and control the matches before it comes to this.

  18. well done lads for the result.
    Ive seen the tackle again and the injury is a bad one lets hope he can recover from this awful injury.

    arsenal forever
    victory comes from harmony

  19. what is it huh???looked even worse than dudu’s injury i m happy we won but i want ramsey to recover now for god’s sake hes not even 20
    but i think the team has seen this before and this time instead of dousing our spirit this injury will fire us on all cylinders (i can almost here the players saying “enough is enough”)
    we have learnt from past experience and this time we will win

  20. Walter, i am eagerly anticipating your ref’s point of view after this game. Among the fouls I’d like you to review:

    1. Should Ramsey be given the penalty?
    2. Why was song yellow carded?
    3. The foul on bendtner.

    I hate TP.

  21. i hope he wins the world player of the year at least four times
    the least he deserves

  22. ”We could see the team was shocked but this team is very strong mentally and we will do it for Ramsey as well because he deserves it,” Wenger added.

    We are going to win it.

  23. as arsene said, its very hard to enjoy this victory. 3 players in 5 years is just not co-incidence. as i have said before, shawcross should be banned with no pay till ramsay starts playing again, and stoke should pay ramsays wages whilst he is out. this simple rule change would knock all this despicable play on the head.

    apart from that, i thought that we bossed all but the first 10 minutes. eboue was class again, and bendtners header was sublime. we had 3 decent penalty calls and only got one.

    however many goals stoke score because of their new game ‘throwball’ they will never even get close to the heights of ‘wengerball’. their only chance came from the throw, and in all likelyhood it is the reason why they are midtable rather than fighting relegation.

    i thought it highly cynical the way shawcross was blubbing as he walked off. as if it makes it all alright. that said, my thoughts go out to aaron and his families.

    sol was a rock today, the way he marshalled the team and picked our collective heads up was inspiring. 2 years ago we faded and fizzled when this happened. it ended our season. this year it will be different.

    i think song was looking for a yellow. the pair of games he will miss is the easiest pair in the run in. if he hadnt got it then he would probably have got it later for something else.

    Burnley in a week. this is our focus now. just like the twelve-steps we have to take one game at a time.

  24. Hartwick89;

    My first reaction was, “I want to kill that bitch for breaking my player’s leg”, but after some reflection, I think it’s a mistimed BAD tackle. No intent to break but a way too aggressive tackle from an idiot. I saw it live and the ex-manure boy cried walking off the field……..no sympathy for me whatsoever for him as he should get like a fucking 10 matches ban because of the way he tackles recklessly always.

    Overrated cunt

  25. The media still seem to be in a state of denial.

    Aaron has a ‘suspected’ broken leg I keep reading.

    Fuck me . These guys are so fucking obtuse.

  26. Diceman,
    It hurts…so irrational. One minute full of life and that idiot just no idea what he was doing! Just ridiculous challenge…

  27. BBC – complete with picture of ‘suspected’ broken leg dangling


    Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey suffered a suspected broken leg during his side’s 3-1 Premier League win at Stoke.
    The Welsh international was stretchered off following a tackle by Ryan Shawcross, who was sent off for the challenge and left the field in tears.
    Players from both sides were visibly shaken by the 19-year-old’s injury, which was not replayed on live TV.
    The incident had unfortunate echoes of Ramsey’s team-mate Eduardo’s broken leg at Birmingham just over two years ago.

  28. Reuters


    The victory though was overshadowed by a serious injury to Wales midfielder Ramsey who was taken straight to hospital with a suspected broken leg after a challenge from defender Ryan Shawcross that earned a red card.

    Fuck sake…..I hear there is a suspected earthquake in Chile.they’re not sure yet though, they need to send out the brightest and best to confirm it.

  29. When route one football fails them they go after players. That Muppet of a manager Pulis had a nerve to complain. What a classless thug! He should be apologizing for the brutal attack by his player. That’s how they compensate for luck of skill. Distraught player after the fact? What was he expecting to do when he went in with his cleats up high, a f..n talentless neanderthal! I’m just sick of all this bullshit! It just leaves such a sour taste in your mouth after what seems to be a turning point for Arsenal’s title challenge.

  30. What can you say when a good win tastes sour? Just hope Aaron’s break isn’t career threatening. He was starting to show all the right signs and then this. Seems like we’re getting one broken leg a year since forever. Definitely time for the leg breakers to get 10 or 20 game suspensions and their pay going to the injured player.

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