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March 2021

Arsenal v WBA. They won’t park the bus, they’ll bring the whole bus station.

By Bulldog Drummond

In the recent discussion about the November effect on Arsenal it was pointed out that the way in which fixtures are arranged is no longer a matter of chance, and certainly no longer a matter of “it will all even out in the end”.  Certain fixtures are arranged to suit the TV companies – so that what the corporations consider big games don’t come at times that the schedulers consider low viewing times.

Thus whereas it was quite possible for Arsenal to be drawn to play Tottenham on the very first match of the season (as happened in fact when Herbert Chapman came to Arsenal in 1925) this sort of thing is no longer possible.  Every match now artificially has its place.

And even then that is not the end of it, as with clever use of the scheduling “for TV purposes” some clubs can get a very tough ride while others can gently glide through events watching others get caught up.

Take this Christmas for example.  Southampton have three games in six days and West Ham have to travel 343 miles.  You might well think that someone doesn’t like West Ham much – and of course that is true.  Lots of us don’t like them very much at all.

But it is only when we compare this state of affairs to Chelsea we can see where the real bias lies.  Chelsea’s matches are spread not over six days, but actually across 10 days.  And there is none of that long distance travelling lark.  Oh no.  They have to battle with a 14 mile trip to Tottenham.  And that’s it.

With data like it really is hard to see anything other than pre-ordained events.  Mind you Christmas traffic in London can make such journeys rather difficult so I am sure they will suffer a bit.

Looking at the Physioroom injury league we find we have…

Player Injury Expected return
A Oxlade-Chamberlain Hamstring January 1, 2017
S Mustafi Hamstring January 3, 2017
P Mertesacker Knee January 7, 2017
M Debuchy Hamstring January 14, 2017
C Akpom Back January 14, 2017
S Cazorla Plantaris February 25, 2017

Assuming Alexis continues to play centre forward then Danny, when he comes back, would play as one of the two wide men behind him, fighting for a place with the likes of Iwobi, Theo and the Ox.   It also means that we would then have four players who can make a decent fist of playing centre forward: Danny, Alexis, Girooooud, and Lucas.

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Looking at the two teams and their home and away form we can see that….

WBA has two wins away, three draws and three defeats.  Arsenal at home have five wins, two draws and one defeat.   In goal scoring terms WBA have scored seven away and conceded eight, while Arsenal have scored 18 at home and conceded 10.

If we look at WBA’s away games we see where their problems are…

Game Date Against Venue Result Pos
1 13.08.2016 Crystal Palace away W1-0 3
4 10.09.2016 Bournemouth away L0-1 12
6 24.09.2016 Stoke City away D1-1 9
7 01.10.2016 Sunderland away D1-1 9
9 22.10.2016 Liverpool away L1-2 13
11 06.11.2016 Leicester City away W2-1 11
13 26.11.2016 Hull City away D1-1 9
15 11.12.2016 Chelsea away L0-1 8

Their wins have come against Palace and Leicester, their defeats (in brown above) to Bournemouth, Liverpool and Chelsea.  But all three defeats have been by just one goal – so we can expect a tedious approach with a line of 4-5-1, or 5-4-1 (in the latter case with the full backs reclassified as “wing backs” and the defence classified as a threesome to make it sound more attractive).

Arsenal’s home form this season by comparison is like this (remembering the position in the final column is calculated immediately after the game in question).

Game Date Against Venue Result Pos
1 14.08.2016 Liverpool home L3-4 15
4 10.09.2016 Southampton home W2-1 6
6 24.09.2016 Chelsea home W3-0 3
8 15.10.2016 Swansea City home W3-2 2
9 22.10.2016 Middlesbrough home D0-0 1
13 27.11.2016 Bournemouth home W3-1 4
15 10.12.2016 Stoke City home W3-1 1

While WBA tend to lose by one goal away, Arsenal’s home wins have been by one goal, two goals and three goals.  So again, everything points not to one bus being parked behind the ball, but rather a whole fleet of the wretched things lined up three deep and on top of each other, along with the entire bus station.

Looking at these figures it is hard to disagree with WhoScored’s view that WBA “will be shown a high number of cards” – although that of course does depend on which way the referee is looking at the time.

Their predictions for Arsenal are…

  • Arsenal will steal the ball from the opposition often
  • Arsenal will dominate possession
  • Arsenal will score as a result of individual skill
  • Arsenal will control the game in the opposition’s half

The BBC website has a pre-match commentary by Steve Wilson.  And I was about to quote him when it suddenly occurred to me that I know of two Steve Wilson’s.  There is the Match of the Day man, and then there is the gent who founded Porcupine Tree and who worked with such bands as King Crimson, Jethro Tull, and Yes.  And looking at the comments he makes I am still not too sure which Steve Wilson we have here.

Anyway he says, (whichever he it is) on the BBC website, that West Brom have “scored three or more goals in four league games already: that’s rather like the quiet bloke from Quantity Surveying arriving at the office party in a low-cut sparkly number with slingback heels and a Chihuahua puppy in his handbag. Surprising.”

An interesting way of writing football previews and one that I think I might try and adopt.  But we might note that none of those games with the amazing three or more goals has been away from WBA’s ground, where refereeing decisions are known to be given under the Genghis Khan Referees Rules (Bold Dog Edition published 1221).

More notes on Boxing Day (assuming I manage to get up on time).

And from the History Society


10 comments to Arsenal v WBA. They won’t park the bus, they’ll bring the whole bus station.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    Hmmn, Arsenal have the highly functioning bulldozers in Sanchez, Ozil, Bellerin, Perez and even Giroud and others too, who can open the shut door of any parked bus station West Brom could likely come to construct in front of their goal area tomorrow afternoon at the Emirates Stadium.

    And not less than four times will the Gunners successfully open the shut door and reshut door of the parked bus station of the Baggies they will be constructing and reconstructing and shutting the door to debar gaining entry into the bus. But the Gunners will pull the shut door open, open, open and open again and be gaining access into the bus to wreck the havoc they want to wreck inside the parked bus station of the Baggies during the course of the full 90 minutes plus of this game encounter between us.

  • ogban

    Arsenal must find the right tactics against Pulis’ rugby team. If you ask me, I’d say employ more of the flanks rather than try to squeeze through the middle all the time. Variety will be the name of the game.

  • Steve Vallins

    In recent games it’s not how Arsenal have played but how the referee and linesmen have been told how to behave
    We win in spite of them and usually struggle because of them

  • Following recent posts we’ve had a larger than normal number of comments from fake email addresses. As per our rules of engagement (point 9) as posted on this site ( we try to weed these out.

  • Leon

    Looking forward to this after the two losses and a good opportunity to re-establish our PL winning credentials.
    Can anybody confirm if Cricfree.TV streaming site has gone belly up? It’s not listing any current games at the moment and doesn’t look very healthy to me.

  • Jared

    Try, always works for me….if you don’t mind constant commercials…….

  • Leon

    Thanks, Jared

  • Usama Zaka


    Try installing Sopcast and then go to and select the streams for sopcast. The russian streams are as good as tv.

  • Leon

    Cheers Usama.
    The quality for the Watford game is excellent. Thanks again

  • dan

    Not a bus station, OAP convention won’t move from their 18yrd box.