Arsenal II through as group winners, State Aid United recorded as Boxing Day losers

By Tony Attwood

The bar was very accommodating, the beer was cheap, and as the teams lined up we were two Arsenal fans, two Cologne fans and ten people who seemed to have got lost and just come in for a drink.

It was all very friendly and chatty of course, and the bar even had an official door opener for visitors and departures – all very civilised.  Afterwards I even managed to get back to the hotel without getting lost to look at the rather extraordinary news of Everton’s score of 1-5.  I am not sure that any supporters carrying children attacked visiting players at that game, but I await reports.

In the aftermath of that match I rather liked the commentary of the current Everton manager.  “I asked my players to make it hard for me to leave them out for the next game and the majority of them have made it really easy. Fortunately we have players to come back who are not quite as fragile. We keep conceding really easy goals, people aren’t having to work hard to score against us. Players have to take responsibility.”  That’s the way to motivate a team – tell them they are awful – and make sure you do it in public.

Meanwhile we have won the group, despite last night’s defeat and now a few more details are known of the clubs going through.  We could play any of the ultimate runners up.

Group Winners
(Seeded inext round)
(but pos not known)
A  Villarreal
B  Partizan
Dynamo Kyiv
C  Braga
D  Milan
E  Atalanta
G  Steaua București
Viktoria Plzeň
H  Arsenal
I  Red Bull Salzburg
J  Östersund
K  Lazio  Nice
L  Zenit Saint Petersburg
Real Sociedad

As for those descending gracelessly from the Champions League we can’t play any of the top four in the first knockout round , as I understand it – but of course thereafter all is possible.

Seed Grp Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Seeding
1 A  CSKA Moscow 5 3 0 2 7 8 −1 9 Seeded in round of 32 draw
2 D  Sporting CP 5 2 1 2 8 7 +1 7
3 G  RB Leipzig 5 2 1 2 9 9 0 7
4 E  Spartak Moscow 5 1 3 1 9 6 +3 6
5 F  Napoli 5 2 0 3 10 9 +1 6 Unseeded in round of 32 draw
6 C  Atlético Madrid 5 1 3 1 4 3 +1 6
7 B  Celtic 5 1 0 4 5 17 −12 3
8 H  Borussia Dortmund 5 0 2 3 5 10 −5 2

 The draw for the round of 32 will be held on 11 December 2017, at mid day GMT.

But before I leave you to go off to yet another dancing venue (and persuade my body that yes this is fun because I am on holiday, and holidays are fun and my knees should stop complaining) allow me, if I may to offer you this newspaper story.

“Exclusive: West Ham ask for away Boxing Day fixture as local station too busy due to post-Christmas sales

“West Ham’s troublesome move to their current home has been hit with more unexpected scheduling difficulties.”

Now I am not running this because I think it is a great shock horror story, or a terrible loss to the very jolly supporters of State Aid United, but rather because I am completely surprised that it is a story at all.   There are all sorts of restrictions that appear in scheduling matches.  Arsenal and the Tinies can’t play at home on the same day, for example, there can be no football matches on the day of the funeral of the monarch, and Millwall used to have to play Boxing Day games, no matter where they were, kicking off at noon.  (I remember that because some years back I went to see Cardiff City play Millwall on that day at that time.   Or at least I think I remember it…. after all this dancing I may be a bit confused).

But anyway, the story is that West Ham asked the League to give them away fixtures on Boxing Days because the local underground station could not cope with WHU fans mixing with shopping centre fans.

Now I can’t see this as a problem in that none of the three stations open to incoming passengers after matches at the Ems can cope, but somehow life goes on.  But apparently not with this wonderful state of the art station that WHU have servicing their club.

So apparently this year West Ham, who look to gain a massive decrease in their rent if they are relegated, have an away game at the seaside in Dorset.  And that is the BIG EXCLUSIVE in the Telegraph.  These retired admirals know how to live.

The club says there was “categorically no agreement in place that means West Ham United have to play Boxing Day fixtures away from home.”   They are probably both right.  There was no agreement and now there is.  After all this was the most successful stadium move in the history of football.  (I know that because their lady director said so).

Anyway this is such an important matter the Telegraph then checked with the Premier League and the paper now says, “The Premier League has confirmed to Telegraph Sport that West Ham have requested special dispensation to play away on Boxing Day.”

5 Replies to “Arsenal II through as group winners, State Aid United recorded as Boxing Day losers”

  1. I watched both games last night although for the earlier Arsenal game my attention was at times elsewhere. Dinner was served!
    I did however concentrate fully on the Everton game and whilst Atalanta were worthy winners the scoreline flattered Everton. Yes that’s right flattered Everton .True reflection could easily have been a scorline of 7-10 in Atlanta’s favour. Keane, Rooney & Williams in particular despite their experience looked woeful

    Walter talked in a posting a week or so ago about there being no guarantee that spending big will deliver and that of course is correct but in truth money is secondary for you have to have a balance and what’s abundantly clear Everton have applied a scatter gun approach to recruitment and Unsworth seemed intent on promoting players from his U23 team when they clearly aren’t ready and having done so you now question how much damage has been done both in the short and long term in these players development.
    Make no bones about it Everton are in deep trouble and the majority of players in their squad probably have no experience of the annual relegation dog fight.
    The next round of the EL becomes interesting for you and whereas you have been able to significantly rotate your squad the extra round in the EL and the quality of some of the teams that will be dropping into the completion will present more of a challenge than the group stages clearly presented you with
    All that aside you have done everything required with little fuss so well done for that.

  2. The current travails of both Everton and West Ham just go to emphasise that too much change too quickly (even if, on the face of it, it looks like ‘good’ change) can be close to disastrous.
    And both clubs demonstrate just how well Arsenal is run and managed.
    A move to a new stadium for us looks like it led to an average drop of of only two positions in the league across a ten year period during which two other clubs became financially doped to never before seen levels.
    At Everton the imposition of a squad building strategy based on the thinking prevalent at Red and White Holdings represents another dodged bullet thanks to the distance maintained by our Club from R&WH’s main source of finance. And they’ve still got their stadium move to come!
    Let the shipwrecks of others be your guide…

  3. Have you ever been to Stratford Westfield on a match day? Don’t bother. My wife got caught out there the other week when the Scousers were about, said it was a madhouse.

  4. let’s in the interim forget about Everton and West Hammers woes and focus on Arsenal in their PL match tomorrow away to the hard to breakdown Burnley team. For, I envisage the Clarets will stubborn in the game but I believe the Gunners will be more stubborn than they’ll be in the match by taking them to the cleaners in the game after a 0-2 beating of them.

  5. The end of your article ….. you say ‘lady’ Director. WHY lady Director, why not use her name …. Karen Brady …. or just ‘Director’ sounds a little like sexism

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