There are some interesting historical perspectives for Arsenal against the Newcastle zebras, like for example 6 December 1997 [sorry there was a misprint when this was first published and it said 1987] when Arsenal beat Newcastle U away 1-0 in a sequence in which we won just two out of eight, but still went on to win the Double. (That is true, look it up if you don’t believe me).
By Boxing Day that season the table looked like this… (and this is 1997/8 – it was that one slip of the keys above that got one correspondent – see below – so excited)
|8||West Ham United||20||9||1||10||26||31||-5||28|
We hovered around sixth place all through December, no one talked about us as champions, let alone Double winners, and with Man U 13 points above us, that seemed to be that.
What is interesting is looking at that top ten, we see that Blackburn and Leeds are there, both of which are clubs who have responded to the demand for instant success no matter what the price, and have paid the penalty with decline and further decline. Derby are also no longer in the top division.
Here’s the current table for direct comparison = the leaders you may wish to note are 13 points ahead of us.
|4||West Ham United||15||8||3||4||26||18||+8||27|
Oh and only half the teams in the top ten around Xmas 1997 are there now. Stability is, I think, underrated.
And here’s one anniversary from 1998/9 taken from the Anniversary List that appears each day on our home page
- 13 December 1998: Arsenal lose 3-2 away to table topping Aston Villa. Having taken a 2–0 lead, through two goals scored by Bergkamp, Arsenal let in three goals in the second half to lose the match. This debacle is followed by a 19 match unbeaten run, and takes Arsenal to the edge of winning the championship themselves.
But back to today, it gets boring if for every match I just write that everyone is injured so this week I won’t say it. But what is a surprising to me is that Francis Coquelin has been recalled from loan at Charlton. Not because I don’t rate the player, actually I do, but because we were thinking at first that his return in the summer meant that Mr Wenger still rated him. Then that loan suggested maybe not, but now, maybe so.
In other facts we could consider the fact that it is Wenger 18 Pardew 4 – that is years in the job. And probably the number of “supporters” of each team who want their manager out. Pardew is Barclays Manager of the Month.
Actually there are two league managers who exceed Pardew’s time as manager – Paul Tisdale at Exeter who has been there eight years, and Karl Robinson at MK Dons (soon to be home of Tottenham Dons) who has been in the job six months longer than Pardew.
In the Premier League after Wenger and Pardew you get Fat Sam at West Ham and Nigel Pearson at Leicester on 3 seasons each, and then Brendan Rodgers and others on two.
Meanwhile the injury list goes on and on. The dates back are rough guesses but nevertheless interesting….
- Rosicky (maybe ok, or out for a day or two)
- Arteta (20 December),
- Koscielny (20 December),
- Monreal (20 December),
- Ospina (20 December although I thought he would be back as sub this week),
- Theo (20 December)
- Özil (10 January),
- Rasmey (10 January)
- Wilshere (March)
Calum Chambers is banned for one game.
Anyway what this means is that the sappers have been called in to blow up the Arsene Wenger Stadium (just a bit, and with no one inside) so the game is postponed until we have our entire team back next week.
But if they fail, the line up is going to be something like this…
Bellerin Debuchy Mertersacker Gibbs
The Ox, Cazorla
Sanchez Giroud Welbeck
On the beach, in the sun…
Martínez, Hayden, Zelalem, Podolski, Campbell, Akpom, Sanogo, Rosicky?
Normally we do quite well against the Zebras, having won the last five games against them and the Zebras have won 2 in the last 28. And we tend to score quite a few against them, 12 goals in the last three.
So far this season, as we know, the Arsene Wenger Stadium hasn’t been a complete fortress (won 3, drawn 3 lost 1 in the league) but we could do with scoring in the first half a bit more (not once in the last six games). But then the zebras don’t score in the first half hour at all, so an extra pint in the pub is in order for this match – you can arrive late. Unless of course you are sitting in the same row as me, in which case you can’t.
And just in case you missed it, Alexis has scored seven in the last 13 games,,, and the zebras have won six in the last eight, which is top four form.
But here is something in the light of recent articles on Untold: This season the zebras have had nine red cards, making that more sending offs than anyone else. But against Arsenal such action as sending a visiting player off for dangerous play by a ref such as we’ve got seems unlikely.
What we do owe to the Zebras is that they stopped Chelsea having an unbeaten run – our record stays in tact. But that doesn’t mean we should be saying thank you on the pitch.
And assuming that the sappers don’t do their job what I think we will see is a real upsurge in support for Mr Wenger. That would certainly help the team.
- WSL Round Up – West Ham v Arsenal Sunday 18:45
- Arsenal lost, but it is all part of the drive toward long-term sustainability
- Everton v Arsenal: a happy video, line-up and what the league table will look like after
- Everton v Arsenal: Injuries, points needed for 4th, and Arsenal the first to 100?
- Everton v Arsenal: extraordinary figures seen in the last 6 games table