Today’s team, and how four of the “big six” ended up in the bottom seven

By Bulldog Drummond

“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”  John Stewart Mill.

The Guardian which runs the quote above in an article on Arsenal today, considers today’s game to be of such little importance that it doesn’t even have a mention of it on its football page of its website.   There is actually a preview but to find it you need to click on Norwich v Leicester and then look at the other reviews section.

It is quite an interesting approach, and I wonder where it might lead.  Anyway, I found it and their team is just below the advertisements…








Soares Holding Mari Tierney

Xhaka Lokonga

Saka Odegaard Smith Rowe


I must say the thought of that attacking midfield of Saka Odegaard and Smith Rowe behind Aubameyang is rather tasty.

Their commentary begins, “Arsenal fans have been somewhat divided” which is putting it mildly.   The paper is also quoting 13-1 for an Arsenal victory.  Mind you they also have Torreira on the bench which is a little odd as I thought he was with Fiorentina, but maybe there is something I don’t know (not for the first time).

Moving on, something very odd seems to have happened with WhoScored’s statistics which appears to say that we have played an FA Cup match this season in which we scored two goals.  I’m really getting a bit worried about the health of their computer – or maybe we did indeed enter the FA Cup in the Extra Preliminary round (which was played three weeks ago – in the latest news Tony’s local team Corby Town beat Soham Town Rangers 4-2 to march on the 1st preliminary round proper.  He was rather pleased.

Back with Arsenal it is interesting to see, however which players have played in both our games so far and lasted all the way through – only six: Lokonga, Leno, Smith Rowe, Xhaka, Pepe, and Mari.

Football London has the headline “Mikel Arteta drops major team news hint on dream Arsenal pairing ahead of Man City trip” and I perhaps foolishly read the articlet (new term meaning a piece of few words and even less news) and couldn’t find anything to back up the assertion in the headline.

The Express does have a team however and offers the same players with a slightly different formation.


Soares Holding Mari Tierney

Xhaka Lokonga Odegaard

Saka Smith Rowe Aubameyang

The Hard Tackle goes for the same line up, but do have something rather interesting as a new twist on a rampantly outrageously negative approach to Arsenal.  They provide us with five key stats.  Of which the two primarily are 

  • Not since the 1954-55 season have Arsenal lost their first three games in a top-flight season

I think we have the idea of the 1954-55 season, but as we have pointed out before, in that season although we started badly we recovered to come 12th.  Hardly satisfactory by today’s standards, but what the computer also misses when asked about such things is, “what else was interesting?” 

Well, Arsenal went into that season as champions with 11 players who played 29 or more games.  These included Ray Daniel who played 45 games but didn’t play the following season, Joe Wade who played 44 games in the title season, but only 19 the following year.  Lionel Smith played 35 in the title year but only 8 the following season.  Joe Mercer played 31 in the trophy season but only 19 the next year.

The list goes on and on and shows something which I think is much more interesting than the one line blob so beloved of today’s football journalists and adopted by many of today’s football supporters.

The call is always for new players, and that is what Mr Arteta is doing – introducing new players.  But it takes a while for new players to settle in and introducing lots of them can lead to disruption.  As indeed happened in 1954/5 after winning the league title the season before.

If there is a worry, it is about rapid change in players which can lead to quite a spell of disruption. On 12 September 1953 the first division top four were West Bromwich Albion, Wolverhampton, Huddersfield, and Bolton.  At the bottom it read…

Pos Team P W D L F A GAvg Pts
16 Manchester City 8 2 2 4 9 16 0.563 6
17 Sunderland 7 2 1 4 20 19 1.053 5
18 Portsmouth 8 2 1 5 17 24 0.708 5
19 Manchester United 8 0 5 3 9 15 0.600 5
20 Liverpool 8 1 2 5 12 22 0.545 4
21 Middlesbrough 8 1 2 5 10 26 0.385 4
22 Arsenal 8 0 2 6 6 18 0.333 2

Arsenal recovered and ended mid-table but didn’t win the league again for 17 years

The lesson is obvious: too much change all at once, can be highly disruptive for a club.  And yet that is what the media demand and some fans crave.   Get rid of the manager, get rid of these players, get rid of the manager… it goes on and on.

The more we let the media run the agenda, the worse it gets.  But it is interesting.  Four members of the current “big six” all sitting in the bottom seven.  How times change!

Be careful what you wish for.

9 Great Wins Against Manchester City: The Videos

56 Replies to “Today’s team, and how four of the “big six” ended up in the bottom seven”

  1. MA picked a back-3 against west brom, i hope he’ll stick to it at the taxpayer stadium
    would thrill me
    but we might actually get something like:
    which doesn’t look bad, either

  2. The actual team (although positioning may be wrong!

    Chambers, Holding, Kolasinac,
    Cedric, Xhaka, Tierney
    Smiyh Rowe, Odegaard Saka

    Subs: Ramsdale, Okonkwo, Tavares, Mari, Maitland-Niles, Lokonga, Elneny, Martinelli, Lacazette

  3. Well the inclusion of Kolasinac is interesting.
    He played well this week, and, if you ask me, he is probably the most physical guy we have on defence.
    To me that does not look like he is on any way out….. this is no showcase opportunity game.

  4. tony, if i had to bet it’d be on something like:
    whatever the setup, i’m having a very nice feeling for this lineup …

  5. the idiots on french TV (PMC Sport) have just one argument, one huge, incredible, unbelievable, damning statistic. Brace yourself !

    It is the first time in 2 centuries that Arsenal have not scored in the first 2 games.Imagine. In 2 centuries…. I mean. 2 centuries….

    woah….I’m going to hang myself in despair.

    Unless the Arsenal Historical Society finds it wrong ?

    I mean…2 centuries….words fail me.
    The Home Office ought to have Mr Arteta, the owners, and some of the players deported for bringing the Premier League and Arsenal FC in such disrepute.

  6. Irrespective of the performance, good bad or indifferent, the performance of the officials so far is a complete and utter joke.

  7. Atkinson going for a yellow, remembered which team and which player it was so changed it to a red.

  8. Nitram

    The only mistake the officials could be questioned on so far was the yellow on Kos

  9. Nitram

    Sometime you have to just take things on the chin

    What’s happening to Arsenal isn’t because of the officials this is about a team that have huge problems partly because of absentees but mainly down to players who look lost and soo some of the youngsters will be struggling with a lack of confidence

  10. Just fascinating how the scenario keeps repeating itself.
    I am not saying Arsenal are playing well.
    But we’ve got that ref again, he singles out the usual suspect.
    This is going to be a carnage for weeks to come.

    Like we’ve had, if I am not wrong, almost every season for years.

    Wanna kill Arsenal’s season ? Just do it this way.
    The vultures will go for a kill now, the more so that hey totally know that the fanbase is incapable of closing ranks, the owners will just sit on their bottoms and say nothing, defend no one and let insults fuse.

    Just disgusting.

  11. Who are you Piffle Johnson?

    So, no tilting at all by the officials then? Never ever happens?

    You must be blind.

  12. Foul on Saka in box. Penalty. They got a free kick for less of a push later on.

    Foul on Chambers in our box. So obvious beyond belief it wasn’t seen by VAR

    Not a sending off a yellow. Withdrew one leg and won the ball.

    We get NOTHING absolutely NOTHING from the referees.

  13. Chris,

    I fear they will see an opportunity to get us relegated and the lack of anyone calling them out in the MSM and Sky BT Etc Etc will allow them to do ever more ludicrous things to that end.

  14. Even in friendlies we get stitched up.

    Ball a foot over the line against Chelsea. No goal.

    Brentford. Ball out of play for first goal.

    Brentford. Foul on Leno. Not even a debate.

    Saka pushed in box. No penalty given.

    Xhaka. Withdrew one foot. Gets the ball. Hardly touches the player, if at all.

    All of those are crucial decisions. Even if all of those are 50/50, which I would argue they are at least that, not a single one has gone our way.

    Again virtually every tackle we put in is called a foul and half the fouls get carded

    Someone tell me ONE crucial 50/50 that has gone our way ?

  15. The game isn’t worth watching because of the inconsistency of the refereeing from Atkinson. Hand planted on the face of Chsmbers, no foul, second goal stands. Kolasinac plants his hand on a City player, Kolascinac gets a yellow card. Atkinson fucked it.

    Xhaka seething. I’ve been seething since Kolascinac’s yellow.

    If I was a praying man I’d go down on my knees and pray Kroenke stumps up the millions to go and sue Atkinson for every penny he’s got. He’s ruined my day. As a consuumer of televised football I have every right to expect consistency from referees.

  16. How long before Arsenal take formal action against such blatantly corrupt refereeing.

  17. The thing is I know we are not perfect. I know we make mistakes. But how can I, how can anyone make a true assessment of how good, bad or indiferent we are as a team, when we are constantly playing against 12 players, even 13 if you include VAR.

    I mean, I have, as has everyone now, see replays of that foul on Chambers.

    VAR must of seen what we have. Explain how that was not given ?

  18. @John L,

    that is the part I do not understand.
    Remember Klopp’s remarks the other day ?
    Mr Wenger would have been excluded for a few games for saying such a thing. I do think it did happen once.

    The owners…well, I just don’t understand. They invest hundreds of millions and just watch as it is destroyed by a bunch of guys, like not even 10, who are identified, belong to an organisation that is identified and they do nothing.
    I just don’t understand it.

    Arsenal fans should start demanding the owners start to defend club, manager and players instead of playing monopoly.
    Not turn against team and staff.

  19. What I do know is, as fans we have to stick by this team.

    Turning on the team. Abusing them manager is the last thing we need.

  20. Three games, three losses. All predictable. All predicted. 35 games to play.

    What cannot be predicted – the crass inconsistency of the refereeing. Atkinson’s first-half display a masterclass in how to rip the heart and spirit out of a game.

  21. Well…

    I am not certain that Saka was fouled in the box, but I couldn’t see a red in Xhaka’s foul.

    The final scoreline is meaningless…down to 10 men against a very good side. Down 2-0 after 35 minutes is more concerning but we don’t play this lot again for a few months and hopefully we’ll put in a better performance the next time.

    Draw a line under this and move on. Norwich next.

  22. We can bitch about the ref all we want, but at the end of the day, we attempted 1 shot and did not put it on goal. We deserved to lose, again. This team need to be better. We’re not on the level of City or Chelsea at the moment, but these last two performances were pathetic. You don’t have to be ‘entitled’ to expect better than this from the club with the highest ticket prices in the league.

  23. I still cannot believe the decision for their second goal. Chambers is hit in the face and Laporte -looks- so clearly does so intentionally. It’s a red card, and clearly a foul/disallowed goal. How VAR can not get that right is mindboggling.

  24. Well, I think everybody should CHILL !!!

    Arsenal are re-building.
    Many players are young and lack experience.
    The backline has not been able to operate in a stable manner with all the guys not available.
    Visibly Covid is still rampant
    We lost 2 games to the probable teams who will compete for the title and are whateverwe may dream of out of our league and agianst the new guys on the block massively motivated with our forward line sick.
    The owners have invested heavily for the future

    So many people were upset at Saka being assaulted online arguing – rightly – he is so young.
    Well most of our team is so young.

    Give them time and give them support. Did Xhaka behave badly ?!?! Well Rodri’s foul could have broken a leg, was a mean and unnecessary gesture…he just got a yellow…

    We know Arsenal have a handicap of 5 – 10 points per season at least. Until the owners decide to act, that is just the way it is.

    Be behind you club or switch club for god’s sake.

  25. Rodelero

    “I still cannot believe the decision for their second goal. Chambers is hit in the face and Laporte -looks- so clearly does so intentionally. It’s a red card”


    I asked this earlier:

    “I mean, I have, as has everyone now, seen replays of that foul on Chambers.

    VAR must of seen what we have. Explain how that was not given” ?

    That was a foul and as you say, probably a red card. It was so obvious.

    Oh, and I’m still waiting for someone to come and explain how VAR didn’t act on it.

    Maybe we can rely on Klopp again to tell it as it is because it seems nobody else is prepared to.

    I said years ago all VAR will do is ensure any transgression by us that is missed by the ref will be picked up and acted upon, and any transgression against us that the referee misses will be completely ignored. I said it would make it WORSE for us, not better, and so it is proving.

  26. Played 3,won 0 ,for 0 against 9.
    Says it all .
    To categorise all criticism as abuse is clearly part of a ploy aimed at preventing or avoiding necessary change.
    As some on here perceive criticism of the manager and players for such a pitiful performance as constituting heresy I guess it only leaves match officials, luck, injuries, all of which are excuses and a denial of reality.

  27. John L and Chris

    I agree with everything you say. We have to stay strong, support the lads and the manager through this difficult start. The only thing I question really is this:

    John L

    “How long before Arsenal take formal action against such blatantly corrupt refereeing”


    “…. the owners will just sit on their bottoms and say nothing, defend no one and let insults fuse”

    I know what you mean but you actually answered your own question when you said:

    “…that is the part I do not understand. Remember Klopp’s remarks the other day ? Mr Wenger would have been excluded for a few games for saying such a thing”.

    And that’s the point. Klopp got away with saying something Wenger, our current manager or board would never get away with.

    Is it because he’s Klopp? Because he’s Liverpool manager ? Or because he’s talking about another club and not his?

    It’s also easier in Klopps situation as he’s saying it from a position of power so to speak. Us saying it, irrespective of the validity of what is said, would simply be seen as, and dismissed as, simply sour grapes.

    All I know is if our manager or board did it they would be slaughtered by the media and sanctioned by the premier league.

  28. Nitram,

    the fans ught to have a couple of songs for the referees and the FA….
    And sing them a few times a game
    That would be fun and a much better and visible/audible way to protest

  29. Chris

    The fans calling them out would be a start, and at the very least would let the players know we can see what they are up against.

  30. City deserved their win BUT as usual the biased refereeing and VAR decision making didn’t help one bit.
    Someone can correct me if I am wrong, but I reckon there have been around eight or nine fifty/fifty decisions regarding possible penalty claims and card offences either not given or given to us or against us. Either by on field officials or VAR.
    None have gone in our favour as far as I can see. That is a sad fact, surely on the law of averages we should have got one or two decisions go for us if they are fifty/fifty.
    It’s a disgrace, it’s been going on for years and and I am sick and tired of it.
    I used to think it was a anti Arsene Wenger thing which would stop when he was dumped out of the club and we would start to be reffed fairly again but if anything it appears to be getting worse.

  31. Goonerboy

    “Played 3, won 0, for 0 against 9. Says it all”

    No it doesn’t. It doesn’t say ‘IT ALL’ at all.

    It says we weren’t good enough to beat Chelsea and Man City, 2 teams that last season played out the final of the biggest tournament in Europe, suggesting they were the best 2 teams in Europe last season.

    They have both spent £100 Million plus on ONE player to improve their squads for this season.

    Both will undoubtedly be top 4 and almost certainly be challenging for the title and Champions League again.

    We also played away to a promoted team that are already proving to be anything other than a walkover.

    That equates to a tough start in anyone’s book, even with a full squad, good refereeing and a bit of luck. We had none of that.

    A really tough start, made even tougher. Support the team FFS.

  32. Goonerboy
    “I guess it only leaves match officials, luck, injuries, all of which are excuses and a denial of reality.”
    Do you dispute the fact that we have had several dodgy decisions go against us in the three games so far?
    Do you dispute the fact we have injuries and covid to deal with?
    Do you deny the fact that luck plays a significant part in football?
    I and others on this site have said in all three games we probably didn’t deserve to win but officials, luck and injuries have all contributed in some way to our poor results.
    To deny that is a denial of reality on your part.

  33. mick shelly

    “I and others on this site have said in all three games we probably didn’t deserve to win”

    Personally I think we did deserved to win the opening game, or at the least draw it. We wasn’t brilliant but i think we were the better team. The statistics were overwhelmingly in our favour.

    They scored 2 illegal goals. Our play merited at least 2 goals. But alas it wasn’t to be.

    Chelsea were the better team. Again a tilted pitch but never the less beaten by the better team. No shame in that.

    Today the tilt was remarkable. We were already up against it. That made it impossible.

    I am not blind. I know we have a way to go yet. But we are a young team. We have had lots of players out. But most of all, as I said earlier, I refuse to make any harsh judgements whilst we are playing 12 or 13 people. Atkinson was a disgrace.

  34. Did I just see Lukaka ‘bully’ a Liverpool player.

    Of course not. He just ‘out muscled’ him. Actually I made that up because Neville actually said nothing.

  35. PGMOB referees do not enforce the rules. They assist in the undermining and breaking of those rules. Any referee that couldn’t see the assault on Chambers should be permanently removed from the “select” list immediately. VAR also looked at it and failed to take action. They are all involved. Wake up.

  36. Sala kicks the ball away in dissent. No card.

    HOW !!!

    It was so so blatant right in front of the referee. Not a subjective call. A black and white call and still the referee applies his version of the rules as he sees fit.

    Ask yourself. Would Xhaka of got away with that ?

  37. I did not expect much before the kick off and as soon as I saw Atkinson I knew that it was game up .
    Zedsaunt , there was no inconsistency from Atkinson , he is the epitome of consistency as far as Arsenal are concerned . If we have a good result when he is in charge it’s always inspite of him . I believe that someone at the club kicked his cat a few years ago.

  38. Nitram talking bullshit, but there’s no point writing a response, it won’t be published simply because it doesn’t say the ref is at fault. Good luck untold

  39. No doubt at all. Atkinson (and the rest) are consistent. Yes, biased, unfair, hostile to Arsenal, but consistent in all these respects.

    When I saw Atkinson was in charge, I should have put a bet on an Arsenal red card.

    Remember the 6-3 loss to Man City when Walcott and Bendtner were in our team? That was another result achieved by a similar Atkinson performance. He is even worse than Dean and must be now firmly in the good books of Riley and the Sheiks.

    On a different note, how long before Saka and ESR are kicked out of the game, just like Jack Wilshere?

  40. Probably sooner than you think John.

    Someone on Twitter is claimeng to have had that bet with a 5 nought thumping and a red card , says he had a fiver on at 100 to one .

    And the band played believe it if you like.

  41. I hate how people use the result to qualify the ref being bent. One has fuck all to do with the other. If we win 10-0 and Chambers was eye gouged, Saka was denied a pen, and Xhaka was sent off for a legit tackle, it wouldn’t make the ref’s performance any better. We didn’t deserve to win, but we deserve to have our matches called fairly.

    I’m sick of how the referees are so above reproach in England (maybe European football as a whole?). You can call the managers shit and the players useless but the ref drops a clanger and no one, not Sky, not the BBC, not The Athletic, not AFTV’ not Piers Morgan, not Arteta, not Kroenke, says fucking anything?? The Queen gets called out more than refs do.

    What makes the PGMO so powerful that their goons are afforded such incredible job security? Is there some sort of referee Gestapo behind the scenes? Is Riley backed by the Mafia? Why will nobody stand against the disgusting organization?

  42. Kamiel

    “I hate how people use the result to qualify the ref being bent. One has fuck all to do with the other”.

    To be fair I don’t think we do that here. We call the referees out win lose or draw.

    “We didn’t deserve to win, but we deserve to have our matches called fairly”.


    “The Queen gets called out more than refs do”.

    So true 😂

    Although having said that, if a referee gives a call in our favour that the media doesn’t like they soon hear about it.

  43. There are no words to calm a football supporter down when the officials are so blatantly vile and corrupt.

    The game in England is dead while these FA and PGMOL offiials get funded by the supporter.

    Please God show us your mercy and take them into the hell they deserve.

  44. There was only 1 decision of note that is in question. Chambers foul.

    Xhaka’s tackle was a red card offence. The others are are easy to judge based on the isle you are.

    I understand the frustration but do we honestly think that even if the foul had been called Arsenal would have had a chance?

    Even in a perfectly fair game City would have been the favorites. Lets move on. There are more games we’ll win or loose from unfair decisions.

    The idea that fairness would have mattered is an idea we are hanging on to escape taking responsibility for our shortcomings.

    Chelsea just played Liverpool with 10 men for 45+ min. They didn’t concede 3. Where was the defensive organization from a coach who played 5 at the back? Playing 5 at the back meant the coach was aiming to concede as few as possible. What was the point when you go ahead and concede 5? And how was the coach expecting a midfield of Xhaka and Odegaard to compete against Rodri, Gundogan and Silva? Some of the failings are down to the manager’s tactics.

  45. Jack writes,

    ”The idea that fairness would have mattered is an idea we are hanging on to escape taking responsibility for our shortcomings.”

    We can list the shortcomings of our team blindfold, at the bottom of the ocean.

    What we do not see is Atkinson, in a court, facing cross-examination and having to explain why he took his decisions.

    Nobody in the PGMO has to answer questions.

    When did you ever see a referee questioned?

    What you are expected to do, what each of us fans are expected to do, is stay down and say ”thank you.”

    ”Thank you very much Sir.’

    Obedience to authority you cannot challenge makes mice out of human beings.

  46. It is interesting to see that first Klopp criticised a ref 2 weeks ago, now Tuchel does the same…
    None has yet been punished…

  47. Atkinson gave his “token” yellow to a City player late in the game for a foul much worse than Xhaka’s, which was a deliberate hack at Tierney.

    More evidence of consistent and predictable bias.

  48. I think your comment Chris shows just how far removed from reality you are. To say that you can read my mind and my future decisions is just so weird, so arrogant and so far removed from all the reality that exists on this planet, that really you need some local help and support. You can have no idea what I am going to do or think. And then to go further, if there is no point in writing a response, why write a response? This certainly suggests a need for some support and help.

  49. Although having said that, if a referee gives a call in our favour that the media doesn’t like they soon hear about it.

    Yes and endless replays about the contraversial call in favour of AFC on repeat on Sky for a week.

  50. markyb

    That is why keep saying it is the media that run the referees in the sense that it is SKY BTS Talksport MOTD etc. who pass judgement on how the referee has performed.

    Yesterday for example, Atkinson knew, without any fear, that sending Xhaka off would be met with overwhelming agreement. He would of known that taking no action would of seen him derided as incompetent, a yellow would still of seen him criticised for being too lenient, but a red was always going to see him applauded.

    Atkinson knew he had to make that call.

    The media are the referees judge jury and executioner and as such they referee in a manner that pleases them and has very little to do with applying the laws of the game as they should be.

  51. Alan Shearer has added psychic capabilities to his extensive skillset in the Daily Mirror today. He has read Granit Xhaka’s mind! Unfortunately, Shearer “didn’t fancy” discussing the Pogba and Barnes challenges yesterday.

    Discussion of the referees’ acceptance of the incorporation of wrestling and boxing moves was also strangely absent.

  52. Dermot Gallagher spouting absolute gibberish on the Sky Sports website today regarding the LaPorte left-hook.

    He gives another meaning to the phrase “in the pocket”.

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