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August 2021

Changing to Wembley and moving to the Ems hurt Arsenal. So how did Tottenham do?

By Tony Attwood

During the summer we debated the decision of Tottenham to play their home games at Wembley this season – an obvious topic for us as Arsenal tried out a similar venture with their Champions League games across two seasons.

For Arsenal the experiment was pretty much a failure – I’ve never spoken with anyone who actually liked the experiment, the results were fairly awful, and the club ended the deal as soon as they could, despite boosting the coffers with crowds of 73,000 all the way through.

In 1998 the results were

  • 30 September 1998: Arsenal 2 Panathinaikos 1
  • 21 October 1998 Arsenal 1 Dynamo Kiev 1
  • 25 November 1998: Arsenal 0 Lens 1

In the following season it got even worse

  • 22 September 1999: Arsenal 3 AIK 1
  • 19 October 1999: Arsenal 2 Barcelona 4
  • 27 October 1999: Arsenal 0 Fiorentina 1

After those runs it still took us two more matches at Wembley to recover from the jinx: a cup semi final defeat to Chelsea in 2009 and a League Cup Final defeat to Birmingham in 2011.

So eight practice matches before we got into the run of things, and started winning there.  Now it is nine wins in a row – the longest sequence of victories at Wembley by any club and any national team in the history of football.  I suspect it will take a while for anyone to overtake that – although of course Tottenham could, this season.  They have 18 league games plus some cup games – and if they do get it together and get to the FA Cup Semi-final they will be the first club to play that match at home.

So it was not surprising to hear that Harry Kane said, “It’s important we get the win and look forward to the games ahead,” as Tottenham approached the match.

They told us in advance that Arsenal’s mistake had been to play at Wembley without changing the setting and making it more homely for Arsenal.  In fact for the Champions League matches I am not sure if Arsenal did anything much to the ground – or indeed if they attempted to and the FA said no.  But it was a while ago, so maybe I just didn’t notice.

Tottenham decided to go the other way and had Nike promote their new home kit (which one newspaper today compared to a plain white t-shirt which you can buy for the very reasonable debt of a third world country) with the catch phrase  “watch us rise”.

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Was that tempting fate?  Just a little in my view.  But as so often been said, what do I know?

Tottenham also did the drum thing with a supporter banging the drum next to a microphone, with the whole place was covered in Hotspurificationalism.   Looking at it on TV I again wondered, had they not perhaps gone a little too far?  I mean learning from Arsenal’s “mistake” of not Arsenalising the ground enough is one thing but turning it into Total Tottenham… well although I’ve studied a lot of psychology I’ve not worked on the response of individuals in a crowd situation in which the individuals can perceive that the crowd is manipulated by the authorities.  I understand however there are books on the subject and the outcome is rarely that expected by the manipulators.  Pesky things, crowds.

But then I’m old fashioned.  When I stood in the North Bank I liked the chants to emerge from the hard core and spread, not have celebrations arranged by the powers above us.

Arsenal’s trust in the fan base to make enough noise can backfire, of course, but generally speaking those supporting the team have out shouted those who are moaning and complaining and whinging and wining.

The plastic flags are now de rigueur of course and from what I saw on TV the Tottenham fan waved them a lot, and maybe I’m too old for all this now, but for the last few Wembley games I left mine under the seat.  It’s all a little too naff for my refined tastes, perhaps.

But again I wonder if Tottenham do actually have any social scientists on call when they plan this sort of thing.  They should do, because social scientists do know a lot about both crowd and individual behaviour, and social science is full of reports of common sense approaches to situations which backfire.   Still, not for me to advise them, I’m sure they know best.

What we shall see in the end is which club got it right.  Arsenal deliberately took the “Arsenalisation” of the Emirates very slowly year by year in a move to try and get the look and feel right. It’s something I know a little about for (as I have endlessly mentioned in the past) I put forward the proposal for the statues at Arsenal, including particularly the Herbert Chapman statue which in my presentation I said I wanted to symbolise the old boy looking at the stadium and conveying the notion, “I started this”.

(Actually I also wanted one of Henry Norris who actually did start it, as you will know if you follow the story of the Norris Years on the Arsenal History Society site, but I knew I’d never convince them of that.)

Who knows if Arsenal would have started winning trophies again if more had been done at our new stadium more rapidly…, we can only speculate.  But it is interesting that Tottenham have gone down a very different route, seemingly ignoring social scientist advice (if it was ever sought).  We will of course see how it goes, comparing this year’s results with last years.

And maybe it will help that for the next game (against Burnley) Tottenham will be allowed to sell all the seats, rather than have a reduced capacity as has been ordered for the “sensitive” matches.

Stadia are pesky projects.  In December 2008, the design for the new stadium, by KSS Design Group and Buro Happold was revealed for Tottenham and a projected completion date was predicted on 26 October 2009, as Daniel Levy stated that Tottenham intended to move into the partially built new stadium for the start of the 2012–13 season with the final 56,250-seat venue ready for 2013/14.

As we’ve noted before, between 1935 and 1995 no major new football stadia were built.  Since then we have had quite a few and each new club assured its fans that they would “not make the mistakes” of those who had gone before, but most did.

“D3” and similar below means the third tier.  Where grounds have since changed their name the original name is used but place in italics.

Stadium Club Built Promotion/Releg
Riverside Stadium Middlesbrough 1995 Relegated 1997
Britannia Stadium Stoke City 1997 Relegated 1998
Reebok Stadium Bolton Wanderers 1997 Relegated 1998
Pride Park Stadium Derby County 1997 Relegated 2002
Stadium of Light Sunderland 1997 Relegated 1997
Madejski Stadium Reading 1998 Releg to D3 ’98
JJB Stadium Wigan Athletic 1999 Won D3 2003
St Mary’s Stadium Southampton 2001 Relegated 2005
KC Stadium Hull City 2002 Prom from D3 2005
Walkers Stadium Leicester City 2002 Relegated 2004
Etihad Stadium Manchester City 2003 Won League 2012
Liberty Stadium Swansea City 2005 Prom D4 2005
Emirates Stadium Arsenal 2006 Trophies again from 2014
Cardiff City Stadium Cardiff City 2009 Won D2 2012

Looking at the record overall we can see that the normal course of events after spending a lot on a stadium is a decline.  Southampton actually went into administration and the third tier, Leicester also dropped to the third tier.  Even Manchester City who like State Aid Utd didn’t have to pay for their stadium, took a long, long time to get to the top, and missed relegation by 3 places in 2006.

After yesterday’s game Conte said, “Honestly, this atmosphere was great and this stadium, Wembley, is fantastic.  So to feel this atmosphere was amazing, also as an opponent. Our fans tried to push, despite 70,000 Tottenham supporters. But, honestly, I think this kind of atmosphere is great also for the opponents.”

He could be right.

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29 comments to Changing to Wembley and moving to the Ems hurt Arsenal. So how did Tottenham do?

  • Dom

    Well Tony, they did rather well in terms of playcraft, but suffered the same fate as Arsenal…i.e they paid dearly for their missed chances. That team, one has to say, is very dangerous and very fit. Kane is a one man ‘hurricane’ and ably supported by an aggressive and skilful midfield.
    I really don’t think they are in the least worried about playing on that pitch and making it theirs. Their undoing, if it happens will be if Kane gets injured.

  • Nakew

    I am liking wembley – it is like a new territory (LANT)

  • MickHazel

    I watched most of their game against Chelsea and enjoyed it. As usual Tottenham got the benefit of doubt on a couple of borderline high tackles by Dier and Vertonghen (who consistently gets away with more than most) which would undoubtably have seen Xhaka sent off if he had done similar. It was interesting to see Alonso receive a blow from a stray elbow which saw him laid out and the guilty party duly penalised and yellow carded. A pity the same pumishment was not meeted out to Alonso for his elbow on Bellerin last season.

  • Nitram


    “It was interesting to see Alonso receive a blow from a stray elbow which saw him laid out and the guilty party duly penalised and yellow carded. A pity the same punishment was not meted out to Alonso for his elbow on Bellerin last season”

    Also if I recall Cahill wasn’t booked for his elbow on Mert.

    The words used in the express where ‘collision’ ‘Clash’. Some collision.

    They even manage to turn it against Arsenal with:

    PER MERTESACKER suffered a gruesome head injury after clashing with Gary Cahill in the Community Shield, and Arsenal fans are already moaning about the club’s woeful fitness record.

    So no criticism of the ‘elbow’, just reference the made up bollocks about our ‘woeful’ injuries.

    One game and we’re back to the same old PGMOL shite.

  • para

    I get the impression that the media are very quick to squash any idea that a player may have deliberately elbowed or kicked another player when we all know that this is true and it does happen and can be seen quite clearly.

    Yet when a pundit, was it a Neville(?) who said something about doing it to stop someone, you know which one i mean, there was outcry, also from Untold commenters.

    Fact is, players will harm others in game deliberately (sadly most players rather than just a few) to gain an advantage and we all know it too, even Arsenal players.

    This is a society with an aggressive mindset and as much as we like to proclaim that “we’re peacefull” we all know deep down that this is just BS.

    After all a dog is a dog and will bark and not coo like a dove. 😀

  • Johng6

    I am in agreement with pretty much everything that you mentioned entirely! Excellent website document! dddkdggkcckf

  • MickHazel

    You are right about Mert, I had completely forgotten about that. Was it even given as a foul, I can’t recall.
    Mind you these sort of incidents going against us and in favour of the opposition are so common it is impossible to remember them all!

  • MickHazel

    Without wishing to paint all Arsenal players as whiter than white, which particular members of our squad were you thinking of as being of a mind to indulge in the deliberate harming of an opposition player?

  • colario

    The most interesting game will be
    THFC’s* 14th home league game.

    THFC* v Arsenal.
    Unless of course we first play away to them in a cup game.

    *THFC. The horrible football club.

  • Flares

    And this is why watching England has become a passé and pointless exercise, in fact, anything to do with Wembley which concerns football matches. The FA Cup was robbed of it’s mystique when semi’s began appearing at the ‘national stadium’, and now we have the ignominy of Tottenham Hotspur decamping there to play their league matches. It was bad enough when we used it for our CL games. I only now get excited about Wembley Stadium for boxing events.

  • finsbury

    Dom tries to make a case for the diving cloggers but alas we all saw the efforts from Greg Dyke’s anointed saviour of English Football against the giants of Iceland and Gent where to be fair he did score but alas it was in his own goal and sent his team out the Europa League.

    Which was better then his efforts in tournament football where he failed to score in spite of having had more minutes then those ignored or overlooked by Dyke and likeminded 😉 hype merchants such as footballers like Welbeck or Walcott who have both managed to score in tourney football…with far less mintues. (Welbeck has a better record in the CL for AFC, ignoring his time at Utd where he also won a CL, i think…)

    Not an opinion, just the plain old record 🙂

  • finsbury

    I’m sure he’ll go on to score a goal at the WC. At least you’d hope so.

    Four games to six matches in tourney football would be an ignominious record.
    To be fair three matches without a goal for a striker in tournament football isn’t very flattering!

    Are the same people hyping up Tottenham’s diving cloggers the same people who once attemtpted to claim that a semi-retired Rooney (according to his former manager who dropped him for said reasoning) was at the same level as Messi and Ronaldo? Er…

  • John L

    Let’s stop all this nonsense about Harry Kane (although he put a Newcas
    tle player out of the game last week); Alli (who has an “edge” which the commentators approve of); Rose (who would be involving himself in numerous “collisions” if he was not currently out of action and bemoaning his wage differentials), Vertongen, Dier and the rest.

    Any impressions that they are dirty players must, simply be mistaken.

    The truth must be that none of them is “that type of player”!

    After all, the PGMOL would never let them get away with fouls, would they?

  • MickHazel

    John L
    A (dis)honourable mention should go to Victor Wanyama, who uses his elbows as weapons more than Fellaini, as well should it not.

  • JimB

    Loving the puerile bitterness in this thread!

  • OlegYch

    a drummer/chanter with a microphone is worse than vuvuzelas
    why am i not surprised the first club to do that in epl is spuds?
    no class, no rigour
    tangentially related, Walker has been sent off in his second game for MC, apparently did nothing to deserve it in previous 198 games for Spurs

  • OlegYch

    Tony, why am i constantly in moderation btw?

  • Em

    We can almost be very certain that the next home game for Tottenham, the FA/PGMOL will be appointing either referee Michael Oliver, Jonathan Moss or Andre Marriner to referee the game.

    Michael Oliver refereed 7 of Spurs games last season and was involved in an 8th as fourth official. Result was 7 wins and 1 lost which was away to Chelsea 2 – 1. However Michael Oliver did his job on the day by not sending off at least 2 Spurs players. Meaning Spurs still had all their players available to call on for the next 3 fixtures and not dropping points due to missing key players to suspension.

    Michael Oliver’s other results was as follows; Spurs/MO 1 – 0 Crystal Palace, Watford 1 – 4 Spurs/MO, Spurs/MO 3 – 2 Everton, Burnley 0 – 2 Spurs/MO-4th Official, Spurs/MO 4 – 0 Bournemouth, Spurs/MO 2 – 0 Arsenal, Leicester 1 – 6 Spurs/MO. So with Michael Oliver being involved in 8 of Spurs games they picked up 21 POINTS and no key players red carded and being suspended for key games.

    Jonathan Moss refereed 5 of Spurs games (Spurs/JM 5 – 0 Swansea, Spurs/JM 4 – 0 Stoke, Swansea 1 – 3 Spurs/JM, Crystal Palace 0 – 1 Spurs/JM & Spurs/JM 2 – 1 Man Utd) last season and was involved as the 4th official in 4 other games ( Stoke 0 – 4 Spurs/JM-4th Official, Spurs/JM-4th Official 2 – 0 Man City, Spurs/JM-4th Official 2 – 0 Chelsea & Spurs/JM-4th Official 1 – 0 Middlesbrough)

    So with Jonathan Moss involved in 9 of Spurs games which included refereeing both Spurs home and away games against Swansea, Spurs picked up 27 POINTS and no suspension to key players for red card offences.

    Andre Marriner refereed 5 of Spurs games ( Spurs/AM 2 – 0 Man City, Spurs/AM 3 – 0 Hull, Man City 2 – 2 Spurs/AM, Spurs/AM 2 – 1 Southampton & Hull 1 – 7 Spurs/AM) last season and was involved as 4th Official in 3 other games (Spurs/AM-4th Official 1 – 0 Sunderland, Arsenal 1 – 1 Spurs/AM-4th Official & Spurs/AM-4th Official 2 – 0 Arsenal)

    So with Andre Marriner involved in 8 of Spurs games which included refereeing both Spurs home and away games against Hull & Man City, and involved in both Arsenal’s games home and away. Spurs picked up 20 POINTS and no suspension to key players for red card offences.

    Andre Marriner has already refereed Spurs this season which was a 2 – 0 win against Newcastle. which he failed to REDCARD Harry Kane for a scissor tackle from behind in the 31min but however did issue a REDCARD to Jonjo Shelvey in the 48 min for Violent conduct. Spurs won game with 2 goal in the 61 & 70 mins aganist ten men Newcastle, and Harry Kane was free to play the next game against Chelsea and 2 more fixtures after that.

    The FA & PGMOL both made sure that Spurs finished in the top 4 last season with the Wembley move a major factor. The only reason Spurs did not win the league with the help from the referee appointments is that they are just not good enough. They were found out in their easy Champions League group games, then the Europa league games and most importantly the lost to Greece was made up of the same so called very good Spurs English players who made up half of the England team.

    Spurs have at best an above average first 11 team player who they cannot afford to miss 1 or 2 players from suspensions, hence the PGMOL appointments last season of a selected few referees to manage their games.

    Anthony Taylor refereed Spurs first home Wembley game yesterday against Chelsea which Spurs lost 1 – 2. I watched that game and just as I have already tried to point out about the referee appointments. Anthony Taylor was appointed to help Spurs with either a win or not redcarding Key players. Jan Vertonghen, Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama (VW elbow on Victor Moses was just the same as the one Hal Robson-Kanu got dismissed for West-Brom at the weekend against Burnley) should all have received RED CARDS. Also there was a last man trip on a Chelsea player that should have been a penalty and sending off but not given by Anthony Taylor.

    Anthony Taylor refereed 5 of Spurs games last season which resulted in 3 wins (Stoke 0 – 4 Spurs/AT, Spurs/AT 4 – 0 West Brom & Spurs/AT 4 – 0 Watford), lost 2 ( Liverpool 2 – 0 Spurs/AT & West Ham 1 – 0 Spurs/AT ).

    So with Anthony Taylor involved in 5 of Spurs games, they picked up 9 POINTS and no suspension to key players for red card offences.

    Between Michael Oliver, Jonathan Moss, Andre Marriner and Anthony Taylor, these 4 referees managed 30 out of 38 of Spurs games with them picking up a total of 77 POINTS and finishing off with 86 POINTS and coming 2nd last season.

    (For the Arsene Wenger haters, – Arsenal got 75 POINTS even with all the refereeing decisions that went against them from MO, JM, AM, AT and Mike Dean (he refereed 3 games for Spurs = 3 wins, 9 POINTS).

    To conclude and answer Tony question, Spurs should really not have a problem with winning games and picking up points while playing at Wembley if they get the same refereeing appointments as last season (5 referees managed a total of 33 Spurs games with them picking up 86 POINTS). The FA need Spurs to be winning games at Wembley to guarantee the 70,000 plus ticket sale revenue which I would think is going to the FA as payment for use of Wembley.

    Hence the PGMOL will be making sure the same few trusted referees will be appointed to manage Spurs games. This has already started this season with both Andre Marriner and Anthony Taylor in action for Spurs. Even Michael Oliver has already been involved in making sure a direct opponent of Spurs drop points – Man City draw against Everton 1-1, comments being made by MNF pundits is that Ex-Spurs player Kyle Walker’s RED CARD before half-time was down to Michael Oliver’s advising the referee as 4th Official.

  • Flares

    “Between Michael Oliver, Jonathan Moss, Andre Marriner and Anthony Taylor, these 4 referees managed 30 out of 38 of Spurs games”

    That is actually shocking. There were 17 active Premier League referees available in the 2016/17 season, why can’t they share it out a bit more? If everything is equal refs get around 22 matches of the 380 on offer. These four men had Spurs involved in a third of the matches they oversaw. Jesus.

  • JimB

    Em – with respect, what a steaming pile of elephant turd!

    In equal parts tragic and hilarious that you should have taken the time.

  • OlegYch

    Em, i think this deserves a separate post

  • MickHazel

    Are you a Spurs supporter by any chance, if so why do you spend so much time on an Arsenal blog?

  • JimB


    Because this website keeps on writing about Spurs. You know what a news aggregator is, I presume?

  • MickHazel

    We keep on writing about Spurs because we are insanely jealous of your record in amassing trophy after trophy, year after year, and wish we could be just as successful!!!

  • Em

    What is tragic is some people’s view that Spurs is a better team than Arsenal because they finished 2nd last season without actually looking at how that was achieved.

    What is tragic is the refusal by some to believe that matches are being fixed/managed to the benefit of a few selected teams & English managers.

    What is tragic is how Arsenal were denied from qualifying for the champions league due to teams like Spurs and Liverpool being supported by trusted referee appointments to manage there games.

    I found out the information by accident when I was checking to see how many games last season Mike Dean was involved in our games and was on the website.

    2 other things I noticed looking at the referee appointment for last season was (1) that Mike Dean only refereed 1 of Chelsea games. The Question here is WHY was that the case? Does that mean Chelsea were able to choose who refereed there games?

    (2) for the past 2 seasons Michael Oliver has refereed Spurs home games against Arsenal which they have not lost. Would like to place a bet that he will be getting the Arsenal game again this season and wonder what the odds are for that happening? Surely I would make a fortune if I placed a bet. (Does anyone know if it’s possible to bet on referee appointments and how to go about betting?)

    The real tragedy is that UEFA have failed to notice or ask question as to how a team like Spurs qualified for Champions League by finishing 2nd with a total of 86 POINTS. Bearing in mind that for the last 10 season there highest POINTS haul was 72 points and that was in the season of 2012/2013 and also considering that the 2015/2016 season only managed 70 POINTS. A team with no really recognised international stars or manager do not go from 64 POINTS (2014/2015) to 86 POINTS (2016/2017) without any help in there games played.

  • JimB


    Bless your little cotton socks.

    Crackpot conspiracy theorists like you truly are entertaining.

  • MickHazel

    Up into the early hours and still commenting on Untold.
    I think deep down you wish you were an Arsenal supporter:)

  • Em

    Conspiracy theorists and crackpot, I DO NOT think so, all the information on Spurs referee appointments for last season are true/fact. Spurs had only 5 out 18 referees officiating 33 out 38 of there matches.

    First half of the season Spurs draw the following games; Everton 1-1, Liverpool 1-1, West Brom 1-1, Bournemouth 0-0, Leicester 1-1 and Arsenal 1-1.
    Second half of the season Spurs won the reverse fixtures; Everton 2-3 (HOME), Bournemouth 0-4, Arsenal 0-2, Leicester 1-6 (the referee for those 4 games was Michael Oliver). West Brom 0-4 and lost away to Liverpool 2-0, the referee was Anthony Taylor.

    What is even more shocking about the referee appointments is that for Game 32 (Bournemouth -15April17) & Game 34 (Arsenal – 30April17) both HOME games 2 weeks apart, the appointed referee was MICHAEL OLIVER!!! And we are to believe that there is nothing suspicious about Spurs referee appointments last season!!!!

    Chelsea and Man City are the only 2 team in the last 10 season that there successes and progress up the league table cannot be questioned as it’s very clear to see how they have achieved it. Oil money pumped into clubs in the form of massive investments (almost a billion pounds) in top class players and host of recognised managers that had won Thorpies in other league, Europa championship and internationally. That is FACT about both Chelsea and Man City, NOT conspiracy. The same cannot be said about Spurs investments in players or the Caliber of there managers over the last 10 seasons.

    The FACTs remains the same, Spurs were gifted an 86 POINTS haul by the referee appointments for there matches by FA/PGMOL last season with the Wembley stadium move in mind to promote the national stadium in Europe (Spurs being involved in the champions league) and raise needed revenue for Wembley/FA.

    SURPRISED UEFA are also not investigating Spurs and FA with regards to the Wembley arrangement to see what other benefits is included in the deal.

  • JimB

    This is golden.

    Keep up the comedy, Em!