By Bulldog Drummond
Who would have thought it? Tottenham, it seems really don’t like big pitches, and so lost to West Ham, where we won 5-1. Our victory of course doesn’t count for it was one of those in which the referee managed to give us a goal we shouldn’t have and so cannot be mentioned. Fate, it seems, (at least according to some newspaper journalists who have been reading “The Last Kingdom”, having quite fancied the TV series) is inexorable. Chelsea will win the league.
The two London newspapers proudly pronounced Tottenham Kings of London before this game, but they won’t care that they made such a crass statement. According to most journalists, the memory span of the public for whom they write is less than that of a hamster. The fact that Arsenal, in all their years of being the top London club were rarely if ever mentioned as “Kings of London” is ignored, and so will this faux pas.
Certainly the Guardian’s view, the diametric opposite of Untold’s (to wit our view that the year at Wembley might not turn out to be a very good wheeze for Tottenham), is one that “a season at Wembley, away from the comfort of White Hart Lane’s tight angles, might even be a good thing, drawing other gears from this evolving team.”
Sooner or later one of us is going to be wrong.
As for Manchester United, their vision seems to be completely on the Europa League, which I fear we might be in next year. I don’t want Arsenal to lose, in order to avoid it, but I am not looking forward to Thursday nights, although come to think of it more matches on a Sunday would go down well on the transport front. The traffic is lighter on the M1 and the roadworks less intense.
Mourinho said, ahead of this match, “We are not going to Arsenal to say ‘beat us’ or ‘beat us 5-0 or 6-0.’ We are going there to fight for a result. But it’s impossible not to rest players. I cannot do it in another way. If Celta was playing with their best team, if Celta was fighting for important things in La Liga, we would go in the same circumstances. But I cannot now play with the same team that played at Celta. And then repeat it again next Thursday.”
I wonder if the PL will have the nerve to take action against the club for not fielding its strongest team (which the rules of the league demand as their one nod towards stopping match fixing). Certainly the action of the authorities of late in flagrant breaches of the rules (I think particularly of the failure to dock points last season from Chelsea and Tottenham for their on the pitch antics, while Arsenal had two points removed for some pushing and shoving years before) suggests as ever it is one rule for Arsenal and one for the rest.
Meanwhile peace has broken out between Mourinho and Arsène Wenger saying with “M” saying, “I am open always in life to everything, for peace. He doesn’t need to say he is ready to make peace. He doesn’t need to because there are no problems. In the last match at Old Trafford, we shook hands before, after – I remember that I still met him in the corridor for the press conferences, we shook hands again. So for me not a problem at all and I think he will be really pleased with me that I am going to change my team against Arsenal. I think he’ll be really happy with me.”
Mourinho will probably be fined 2.5p for that comment.
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So what have we got coming it, leaving aside for the moment the team selections?
Man U certainly have the better league form with three wins and three draws in the last six, while Arsenal have two wins and three defeats plus one draw.
And here is the home and away form of each club.
Arsenal’s 10 wins, three draws and two defeats at home turns out to be identical to the figures away for Man U – the first time we have seen that I think, since the early weeks of this season.
It terms of goal difference, Manchester United’s away goal difference is +14, while Arsenal’s home goal difference is +16. So the teams in this regard are evenly matched.
Manchester United are unbeaten since 23 October, a run of 28 games. but what is hidden in these figures is the fact that they have won their last four away games. Indeed if we go back a bit further we can see what a solid away run this has been for Man U. Here are the last eight away games…
|17||17.12.2016||West Bromwich Albion||away||W2-0||6|
|20||02.01.2017||West Ham United||away||W2-0||6|
Not only are they winning away, they have a lock-out defence mentality having conceded only three goals away in these eight games. The only thing one can say against this run of form is that they are not games against top clubs.
- The Transfer Index part 5: the 33 players tipped to be joining Arsenal this year (and those going as well)
- Does West Ham’s experience at the Tax Payers Stadium offer a lesson to Tottenham?
- Arsenal v Manchester United Sun 7 May – The Match Officials. A certain bias is detected.
- When a club is accused or found guilty of criminal offences, does it matter?