By Bulldog Drummond
One other snippet of news coming through of late… clubs are starting to react a little to the new loan regulations which are due to start in 2020/21. The thought at the moment is that Premier League clubs will be able to get round these by loaning more and more players to English and Welsh clubs in lower divisions. There is also a hope that players under the age of 23 will not be included.
Certainly if those two regulations are included Manchester City and Chelsea, the great loanees, will not be affected – and will I suspect be driven towards running nursery clubs with whom they have a particularly close arrangement. But if Uefa up their game and stop those loans, and this comes hot on the heels of the inevitable changes from the UK leaving the EU, there really will be some serious re-thinking going on. Or failing that, some serious complaining.
As for the game today, the thing that does strike me completely is that, as many have said, we could well have 11 changes from the Europa League team to the side to face Tottenham.
Now of course that is due to two things: one is that we really do have a terrific range of young players coming through and some good backup players as well. The other is that the Europa League is never going to challenge us in the initial rounds.
This is so different from the Champions League where the chance to blood youngsters is much more limited – and that is a distinct disadvantage of playing in the Champs unless one has a giant squad.
So we see the problem facing Tottenham today – they have upcoming a really tough final group game which involves little opportunity to rest top stars – which means either they keep on playing them and ultimately risk burn out or injury, or they have to play just one or two lesser players and have the top stars on the beach – which is really not so much rest at all.
Of course they want to progress in the Champs League because that is where the money is – and given the dosh they have been throwing at electricians and others of late, they probably need every penny they can get.
The BBC pundits however are very much on Tottenham’s side, with only a few like Jonathan Pearce having the honesty to admit they really know what’s going to happen. And that seems reasonable given that, as we have noted, we have Arsenal 18 games unbeaten – the best of any club in any of the main leagues in Europe. Tottenham have just had six wins in a row.
The other big factor is that we don’t normally lose league matches at home to the Tinies. One defeat in the last 25 as far as I can see.
Tottenham were at home in Europe with an extra day to prepare, but we will play a refreshed team who by and large didn’t even travel for foreign lands.
And Lawrenson writing for the BBC made an interesting point: “Arsenal have not really been convincing whenever I have seen them recently, but that just makes it even more impressive that no-one can beat them – they are 18 games unbeaten and ticking along quite nicely.” That is a point that hasn’t been made in force – we are unbeaten, but not always that especially great. It is a foundation that clubs have often used in the past to great effect.
And we should take from the stats the fact that Tottenham have dropped 37 points from winning positions in Premier League games against Arsenal – the worst record of any club against a single opponent. That’s a record I’d like to see continue.
And again, we score against them. In each of their last 22 home games against Tottenham in all competitions, we have scored – the last time we didn’t was a goalless draw in November 1998.
But, since there have to be negatives – only two of the last nine Arsenal managers (including the caretakers who got a crack of the whip) have won their first league game against the Tinies: Don Howe in 1983 and Arsene Wenger in 1996.
But we can’t end on a negative so how about the fact that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored with his last eight shots on target in the Premier League.
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