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Manchester City v Arsenal; portents, team news and the under 23s v Tottenham

By Bulldog Drummond

The Arsenal under 23 game against Tottenham has reached half time and it is goalless, as I write this – if you are an Arsenal member you should be able to watch it on or your phone – however you have registered your membership.  It’s really interesting to watch – there is a lot of passion and action as the commentator has regularly pointed out, but it is goalless at half time. 

It is an interesting approach – a single camera that manages to zoom in and out seamlessly, with a helpful commentary to, the commentator recognising that there are a lot of players out there who the average member of the audience won’t know.

Meanwhile the team news from Manchester City is that Kevin de Bruyne is probably not going  to play against Arsenal; he was left out of the Belgium’s squad for their forthcoming World Cup games.   Phil Foden is also unavailable.

It is possible that we should have several returnees – Saka is said to be ok despite the injury in Wednesday’s game, Bellerin is fit again, and Ben White should by now be out of his isolation with Covid.  If the virus hasn’t affected him too much he might make the bench – or indeed even start.

Kieran Tierney is fit although he didn’t play in the slaughter of West Bromwich.  And speaking of that I thought it was interesting that the crowd was only 17,016.   Arsenal sold all of their allocation of tickets for the game – maybe Western Bromwich should have given us more seats.

However, as ever the media is able to come up with more negative statistics to throw at Arsenal.  We know that we have not been doing well against Manchester City, and now the media has found that this is the worst non-winning run we have ever had against another club.

Going further the BBC have managed to discover that “Defeat against Arsenal would see Manchester City become the first reigning champions since Blackburn Rovers in 1995-96 to lose at least two of their opening three Premier League matches.”

They don’t however tell us that Manchester City are the only team ever to have been relegated in the season after they became champions.  How did they miss that?

But they then counter any thought of Manchester City not winning by telling us that Manchester C have won their last two home games 5-0.  If they do win this will then be recorded by the gloating media as the worst Arsenal start since 1954-55.  So just to remind you of that inglorious occasion…

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Date Match Res Score Competition
21 Aug 1954 Arsenal v Newcastle United L 1-3 Division One
25 Aug 1954 Everton v Arsenal L 1-0 Division One
28 Aug 1954 West Bromwich Albion v Arsenal L 3-1 Division One
31 Aug 1954 Arsenal v Everton W 2-0 Division One
04 Sep 1954 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur W 2-0 Division One

I think it is also worth remembering what the table looked like after those opening three games…

Pos Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
14 Sheffield Wednesday 3 1 0 2 10 11 0.909 2
15 Blackpool 3 1 0 2 7 8 0.875 2
16 Charlton Athletic 3 1 0 2 6 7 0.857 2
17 West Bromwich Albion 3 1 0 2 5 8 0.625 2
18 Cardiff City 3 1 0 2 4 7 0.571 2
19 Sheffield United 3 1 0 2 6 11 0.545 2
20 Aston Villa 3 0 1 2 7 12 0.583 1
21 Huddersfield Town 3 0 0 3 4 9 0.444 0
22 Arsenal 3 0 0 3 2 7 0.286 0

Yep, there we were, completely and totally bottom of the league with a goal difference (if they had had that in those days) of minus 5.

That season the league table at the end looked as this

Pos Team P W D L F A GAvg Pts
1 Chelsea 42 20 12 10 81 57 1.421 52
2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 42 19 10 13 89 70 1.271 48
3 Portsmouth 42 18 12 12 74 62 1.194 48
4 Sunderland 42 15 18 9 64 54 1.185 48
5 Manchester United 42 20 7 15 84 74 1.135 47
6 Aston Villa 42 20 7 15 72 73 0.986 47
7 Manchester City 42 18 10 14 76 69 1.101 46
8 Newcastle United 42 17 9 16 89 77 1.156 43
9 Arsenal 42 17 9 16 69 63 1.095 43

Now I do know that ninth is not a trophy, so yes, we want to start winning as soon as possible, but all the gibberish about the worst possible start shouldn’t get in the way of understanding that even if we do lose again, this will not be unknown ground for Arsenal.   We’ve started badly, and then recovered.

But I don’t think it is going to be anything as bad as 1954, not least because our players are now becoming available again.  Has any other premier league team ever had to start its opening match with all three of its prime strikers unavailable?   I doubt it.

Anyway time to get back to the under 23s game.  Goalless at half time.  If you have an Arsenal membership card you should be able to watch it live and for free on  And speaking of them, they have helpfully put all the goals from the Slaughter of the western broms on the website.

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