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August 2021

Sunday Match Preview by the Right Hon Reginald Spode, 7th Earl of Sidcup

West Bromwich Albion v The Arsenal.

Today’s guest writer: Reginald Spode, amateur dictator, 7th Earl of Sidcup, Saviour of England, honorary vice president of Ukip (flower arranging division) and editor of the Daily Mail.


Being an amateur dictator is, I can tell you, a tough job, although one that fits naturally and easily with being editor of the Daily Mail.

This week I have (between watching Arsenal matches and commenting on them for the wonderful British Telecom Sprout channel) been arranging matters so that after we pull out of Europe by widening the English Channel by another four miles, each British passport holder will be given (at birth, or upon retirement, whichever is the sooner) a British–made motorbicycle and a pair of carpet slippers.

I also propose to ring-fence Birmingham, and ban the import of non-British hedgehogs.

But enough of intellectualism.  Honoured as Untold must be to have me as their guest previewer this week I have done my research as indeed have my staff on the Daily and Sunday Mail, in between their regular attendance at funerals and resourceless vilification of patriotic RAF war heroes.

During this arduous work my trusted team of workers and their tax dodging newspaper owners discovered an article on the Arsenal History Site which compares what Arsenal has done in the opening games of this season to recent seasons.

Its conclusions are that the number of goals scored and let in are not the key issues, at least not this early in the season, but that the position after six or so games does give a fair indication of where things are going to end up at the “business end” as we writers like to say.   There’s a link to the article at the end of this piece assuming the editor has not cocked it up.  [Watch it Spode – ed]

So we, The Arsenal, are doing all right, and looking forward to today’s match.

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Coming to this game I have been reading the “blogs” while awaiting customers at my Bond Street emporium Eulalie Soeurs”.  My how they (the blogs, not my customers) have bucked up their ideas.

While just a few weeks ago it was all very un-English doom and gloom, with stories of how that funny foreigner Wenger has failed to sign another Great British player, tried to sign a player without a work permit, lost a player through mean-spiritedness and so on and so forth, now it is all happiness and that Mr Wenger is a jolly nice chap after all because we have got the Wizard of Oz, Smoky Jack, and the Merlin Ramsey (who is like Oz, a Wizard).

So in short, instead of 20 stories on players we let slip, we now have 20 stories on players that we are about to buy for £20m+ each.  And this is A Good Thing.

Among the more thoughtful of commentators the word is that it is the Flamini/Ozil combination results in Flamini doing the “Dark Work” (new phrase – note it – everyone will use it for a month, it is in my manifesto) while singing “We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz”.

Which seems a fair enough way of putting it, except that you can’t analyse Arsenal at the moment without including Aaron “should be got rid of immediately even if we have to pay someone to take him” Ramsey.  The impact of that young man is such that one wonders if he isn’t actually English – quite possibly from Surrey, and the foresight of Wenger (who is actually English after all) in buying him and sticking with him is off the scale.

And thus to the game – second visit of the season already to the very English Thornbush (Hawthorns – Ed), and looking for an 11th consecutive win since the Villains match (and its nice to see that after some hesitation the previous WBA game is now considered a victory not a draw.)

The Swansea (a British city) game took the club record of consecutive away wins in all competitions to 12 and equalled Arsenal’s record of eight consecutive in the Premier League, which was set in the 2001-02 season, which older readers might just remember for it was a British Triumph – rather like the motorcycle.

So it would seem stupid at this moment talk of a crisis – but there are still some who would do that because talking of crisis is what the British do – but when I am in power I will put a stop to it, just you see if I don’t.

There is Good News and the news is that since most of the club is now injured, they can’t get any more injured playing for Eng (“we are going to win the world cup in five years time”) land and other unlikely nationalities (one of whom might win the world cup but it won’t count because they are not British).

Sagna has a hamstring injury while Santi Cazorla is training but not yet ready.  so if you want to get your complaints in now, “no width” might be a good one given that Theo and Podolski are also still out.

For West Bromwich Wobbleyou  Scott Sinclair also had a hamstring strain in the last game (part of the new injury pairing scheme introduced by Fifa last month).  But we could see dear old Nicolas Anelka playing.  

Last season it was West Brom Wobble 1 Arsenal 2 as you may recall and I was just a humble retailer.  Now upon my elevation, I see the world as it should be…

Anyway here is  possible team. some of whom are foreign…


Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs

Ramsey, Flamini

Gnabry or Arteta, Özil, Smoking Jack


Subs: Fabianski, Monreal, Vermaelen, Rosicky, Gnabry or Arteta, Myaichi, Akpom, Bendtner,

Definitely not at the party are Walcott, Cazorla, Sanogo, Sagna, Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Diaby.

Here’s another thought taken from my wide research into the world of Premier League footballing:  West Blobble Wimbledob have won two drawn two and lost two of the last six.  Arsenal have won five and lost one.  The Wobbles have 12 yellow cards and no reds, we have 12 yellows and one red.   Their top hotshot scorer is Amalfitano with deux (a foreign word which, upon taking up power I shall outlaw), while we have Giroud and Ramsey with four.

So a look at the table which is to be found surrounded by six regulation chairs…

1 Liverpool 7 16
2 Arsenal 6 15
3 Man City 7 13
4 Tottenham 6 13
5 Everton 7 12
6 Chelsea 6 11
7 Southampton 6 11
8 Hull 7 11

There are some big teams in the top eight – Hull, Southampton, Everton, Liverpool…  Of those playing this afternoon Arsenal or Tottenham could go top depending on each other’s results and goals scored.

Our goal difference is 7, Liverpool’s is 5, Tottenham’s is 2, so Tottenham could go top with a 3-0 win and an Arsenal one goal defeat.   For us it is simple, a draw will take us top, but that would spoil the record.  A win, for England, Sidcup and St George!

It’s a lovely fine day in the Midlands.   Time for some lovely fine football too.  And do remember: Feudalism is Good For You.

Biographical note (taken from the Oxford Dictionary of Amateur Dictators): “It is as if nature had intended to make a gorilla, and had changed its mind at the last moment”.

Arsenal first six games of the season – a 10 year comparison

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27 comments to Sunday Match Preview by the Right Hon Reginald Spode, 7th Earl of Sidcup

  • I must apologise for the absence of our regular previewer for this match.

  • RedGooner

    Fun review. I am not sure though we would play Jenkinson and Gnarby on the same side it looks a bit youthful lacking experience. Might see Rossicky again.

  • Klaus

    I tend to think that in front of the defense it could be Arteta and Flamini, then Rambo (R) Ozil (C) Rosicky (L) to ozil Giroud. Rosicky was called fully fit and got credits from AW this week, so I gave him the nod. What I like from the 3 indicated with L,C and R – they swap all the while to confuse any defense so that wouldn’t matter how they line up on paper ….

  • gary

    Tony, The quality of articles on Untold is slipping. It is your blog and you can publish what you like. For now, because of my past experience, every new post attracts my attention, but this is changing at a rapid pace. This article, as well as the stoke tactics one, very poor. Take it as one individual’s opinion and do as you wish. Well intentioned feedback.

  • Mickey Finn

    Spode would never admit publicly his connection to Eulalie Soeurs, would he?

    And I hope this doesn’t mean Arsenal will switch to black shorts?

    Do like the idea of singing We’re off to see the wizard – but more apposite for the Welsh Wizard, perhance?

    Özil – what with his roots – German/Turkish? – could be called Der Mahdi.

    Gary, are you including enough fibre in your diet?

  • Kanzi from calabar

    Hahaha.. right honorable spode, the 7th or 86th earl of sidcup you say?! Thats the only shit that got me interested. Lame preview altogether. LIFE GOONER.!!

  • nicky

    As my old foster Mother up in Horsforth, near Leeds, used to say “There’s nowt so queer as folk”.
    I thought Reg’s article made sense and I enjoyed his erudite précis of Flamini. There’s something of the night about Matthieu and he is beginning to perform like a combination of Peter Storey and Animal from the Muppets.
    His advice that “Feudalism is good for you” is well meant….especially by each feudal lord who wants to keep his right to have a go at every bride the night before her wedding.

  • Malaysiangooner

    LOL at smoking jack,

  • A nice funny preview. I kind of prefer this to the serious analytical ones. Every fan who follows Arsenal enough to visit blogs can set up 11 players for any games and everyone can justify or defend their choices. Personally, I consider it a futile excercise in vanity by the previewer (no offence) as only one man gets to decide the strategy and the personnel to execute it.

    I enjoy reading this very much for light hearted satirical piece that it is. Unlike gary, I wouldn’t go to articles like the Stoke review that he referenced (and this lovely piece), read and then complain about then. As he (gary) was told after his complaint on the Stoke review piece, Untold offers different kinds of stories that interests its various readership. All we have to do on stories that we don’t like is not read them. The quality and variety of stories on Untold are actually getting better!

  • Mick

    Are you being serious? Can we have a whip round and pay for Gary to go have a sense of humour implant.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Wisdom of the elders !

    Story of The Cocks!

    A farmer rears 25 young hens and 1 old cock.

    As the old cock could no longer handle his job efficiently, the farmer bought one young cock from the market .

    Old cock: Welcome to join me, we will work together towards productivity.

    Young cock: What do you mean? As far as I know, you are old and should retire.

    Old cock: Young boy, there are twenty-five hens here, can’t I help you with some?

    Young cock: No! Not even one, all of them will be mine.

    Old cock: In this case, I shall challenge you to a competition and if I win, you shall allow me to have one hen and if I lose you will have all.

    Young cock: Ok! What kind of competition?

    Old cock: 50 meter runs, from here to that tree. But due to my age, I hope you allow me to start off the first 10 meters…

    Young cock: No problem! We will compete tomorrow morning.

    Confidently, the following morning, the Young cock allows the Old cock to start off, and started to cackle as loudly as he could. When the Old cock crosses the 10 meters mark, the Young cock chases him with all his might.

    Soon enough, he was behind the Old cock’s back in a matter of seconds.

    Suddenly, Bang! ….. Before he could overtake the Old cock, he was shot dead by the farmer, who cursed,

    “F**ing hell! This is the fifth GAY young, cock I’ve bought this week!”

    Moral of the story: Never under-estimate an old cock.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Very nice preview , your Earlship (?), sometimes they just don’t get it and much gets lost in translation .As in this case ..

    Tiger Woods in Ireland
    On a golf tour in Ireland, Tiger Woods drives his BMW into a gas station in a remote corner of the Irish countryside.
    The pump attendant, who knows nothing about golf doesn’t recognise Tiger, and greets him in typical Irish fashion.
    “Top of the mornin’ to ya, sir,” says the attendant.
    Tiger, who is familiar with Irish customs, responds with, “And the rest of the day to you, sir!”
    Tiger then bends forward to pick up the nozzle of the gasoline hose. As he does so, two golf tees fall out of his shirt pocket onto the ground.
    “What are those?” asks the attendant.
    “They’re called tees,” replies Tiger.
    “And what on the good earth are they fer?” inquires the Irishman.
    “They’re for resting my balls on when I’m driving,” says Tiger.
    “Feckin’ hell,” says the Irishman, “BMW thinks of everything!”

  • marcus

    lol…where do you get these jokes from Brickfields? This is classic

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ marcus – from all over !I have friends with a wicked sense of humour , I guess !This will make you laugh at first and then……..

    Wife comes home late at night and quietly opens the door to her bedroom.

    From under the blanket she sees four legs instead of two!

    She reaches for a baseball bat and starts hitting the blanket as hard as she can.

    Once she’s done, she goes to the kitchen to have a drink.

    As she enters, she sees her husband there, reading a magazine. :s

    “Hi darling”, he says, “your parents have come to visit us, so I let them stay in our bedroom.

    Hope you have said hello to them.

  • Sammy The Snake

    Good rambling! Nice job.

  • Adam

    @BG, the old ones are the best.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Adam – You may like this !

    A young man from the city went to visit his farmer uncle. For the first few days, the uncle showed him the usual things – chickens, cows, crops, etc. After three days, however, it was obvious that the nephew was getting bored, and the uncle was running out of things to amuse him with.

    Finally, the uncle had an idea. “Why don’t you grab a gun, take the dogs, and go shooting?”

    This seemed to cheer the nephew up, and with enthusiasm, off he went, dogs in trail. After a few hours, the nephew returned.

    “How did you enjoy that?” asked the uncle.

    “It was great!” exclaimed the nephew. “Got any more dogs?”

  • Just on the issue of the quality of writing, the name “Untold” was deliberately chosen because I wanted to include articles (and indeed as we have done, poems and stories) of a type which are not published elsewhere.

    Indeed one of the most dispiriting things about both when we started five years ago, and now, was its similarity, with many blogs either following each other, or pretending that they were serious rivals to the national press.

    Of course when you do this some readers don’t like it at all. And there’d be no point in publishing if no one read the work, but on the other hand I don’t slavishly follow the readership figures in terms of dictating what should be published.

    A perfect example is the referee reviews, which some have highly criticised, and yet which over the years have developed a massive audience and I believe have been highly influential.

    Untold now gets about 800,000 visits a month, and leaving aside the regular seasonal variations, this has been growing constantly since we started.

    I don’t disregard comments about how worthwhile an article is or not, but I certainly want to continue to experiment with ways of writing about football. We’re not the only ones who have tried this (“The man who hated football” is a brilliant original work about football, and as worth reading now as it was when published) but I still think Untold is one of the few places for trying out new ideas, and I’m glad this is so.

  • Carl Jenkinson replaces Bacary Sagna

    Smoking Jack plays in midfield.

    Mikel Arteta is captain.

    Szczesny, Jenkinson, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Flamini, Arteta, Wilshere, Ramsey, Ozil, Giroud.

    Subs: Fabianski, Monreal, Vermaelen, Rosicky, Ryo, Gnabry, Bendtner.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Tony , keep up the good work . I only read this website and do check out the links that the regulars suggest to widen my knowledge ( is that an oxymoron ?) .
    I do enjoy the off beat humour and the historical and other references that make me search for their true meaning .

  • dan

    Oh well, 1-1 is not bad. Atleast the spudz got raped!

  • sperez

    Wenger using both Wilshere and Ramsey out wide didn’t work. Very poor 1st half from Wilshere and Ramsey also didn’t play well.
    Why does Wenger insist on using two midfielders on the flanks?
    Isn’t it bad enough having Wilshere out of position?
    Is it just to accommodate both Flamini and Arteta in the middle?
    Arteta + Flamini means the team will play slower and become more predictable. Wenger should play only one of them in most games.
    1-1 is not bad but the Arsenal first half was.
    And another striker is a must. Giroud is not terrible but he’s not a clinical finisher and he can’t also create chances for himself. Something has to be done in the next transfer window to improve the team up front.

  • gary

    @bootoomee yeah right, if you dont like an article dont read it. precious pearl of wisdom – i will use much better judgement in future.

    as for the stoke tactics article, if you lot like reading tactical analysis from fantasy managers, who probably have never kicked a ball in a serious match – what can i say.

    then there was this article. lets just agree that not everyone’s sense of humour is the same. some like inspector clousseau, others prefer something more adult.

  • AL

    STFU sperez! What do you know about football? Which winger did you want AW to play? I hate people like you who go quite for weeks when things are ok, but are quick to pipe up with your nonsense the minute things look like they may not be going smoothly. You only come here to criticize, and never to congratulate, what type of person are you? Had you watched that game you would know Wilshere was denied 2 stonewall penalties. Why don’t you aim your criticsm where ist justified; and that is at the ref. We didn’t play badly, and even Sky had our first half(which you say were bad) stats at 53%.

  • AL

    The above comment directed at sperez is from me, had a typo in my email address hence a different avatar.

  • OMGArsenal

    Gary,among many others, cannot wait for you to assume the throne and straighten out that which is twisted in the British psyche! I understand that Tasco has a special on sense of humour transplants in recognition of the 1279th anniversary of Scottish frugality so Gary can return to ordinary society if he partakes of this once in a millenium special.

  • Unbelievable belief

    ‘Why does Wenger insist on using two midfielders on the flanks’?

    Game, set and match to the genius.