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I wonder whether centipedes think millipedes are show-offs?

Does Spaghetti Bolognese have bacon in it?

Which ones are cumulonimbus?

These are just some of the questions that may have been in the minds of our players for the first thirty-five minutes of today’s game against West Ham. Whatever they were thinking of it was not how to play football.

We started diabolically and were three-nil down before we knew where we were (and with no further knowledge of which clouds are which). Seriously, that may be an unusual start to a match report but, compared to our start in the actual match, it is laser focused. We just were not awake, we were not in the game, and fans everywhere would have been seriously worried long before they scored the first.

What makes this even more frustrating is that for about fifty-five minutes of the match- from the last ten minutes of the first half until the final whistle- we were excellent. Having unloaded both barrels of a shotgun into our own feet we took the time to reload the damn thing and take a third shot at ourselves before we finally began to play.

There is no quantifying games like this. They are just the sort of thing this current crop of players are going to serve up from time to time. The ridiculous followed by the sublime. I have no idea whether we should be pleased with a point or pissed off at not getting all three. The start of the match was unacceptable, a point I do not doubt the manager made at half-time, yet some of our attacking play was magnificent. We got to see absolutely the best and worst of the team we have. In typical fashion, we saw everything we fail to do properly, as well as the blueprint for everything we have the potential to be. If we go on to fulfill that potential, then this could be some team we are building. If we don’t, then this could be one hell of a frustrating period in our history. Personally, I think Arteta will get us where we want to be… but it will take time.

Today, our opponents began brightly, raining in crosses that Souček, in particular, could have scored from. They did score after fourteen minutes (I am not sure if we had touched the ball by then) when Antonio came short and then spun in behind Luiz. The defender shepherded him wide, yet when he passed it back to Lingard on the edge of the box, we had left him unmarked. We had 7 players back in the box, but none had seen the danger. Chambers tried too late to block the excellent shot that flew past Leno. It was not good defensively, but we were about to get much worse.

Bowen scored quickly after that. Antonio Kaned a foul from Jon Moss despite Saka getting the ball. The big man just crumpled over the ball and the whistle obligingly sounded. Then we switched off. They took a quick free-kick (did we stop so completely because the ref reached for his can of spray to draw a white line, indicating he was not going to allow a quick free-kick?) and Bowen got in down the right and slotted under Leno, who should have saved it. We can have no complaints. It was our responsibility to be switched on and not for the first time we were caught by a quick free kick.

Their third came after we lost the ball playing out complacently down the left. I am all for this tactic when it is implemented properly, but we need to be switched on. Today, we were not. Auba completely failed to track his man or cover Tierney in any way, and it did not look like our day when the cross came in and Antonio beat David Luiz to the header, which was going wide until it brushed an onside Soucek and went past Leno.

The London Stadium ground staff were frantically reloading soapy liquid into their bubble machine. They had never used it up so fast before.

However, they need not have bothered, as at this point the match changed. We woke up and began to play. By the end of the game, we had created an absolute hatful of chances and, as Arteta observed afterwards, we could have scored 6 or 7. Laca had one hooked off the line. He played Saka through beautifully and the young man should have beaten our erstwhile ‘keeper Fabianski. There were countless times when the ball just did not quite fall for us, or West Ham got a block in. In a game full of chances, The Irons themselves also had one more great opportunity to score a goal that would surely have put the game beyond us, Antonio hitting the post after we had pulled two back.

The first one we did score went down as an own goal after a shot from the magnificent Lacazette took a deflection off Souček and flew in on 38 minutes. Calum GarrinChambers (copyright Trev) got his first assist of two in a marvellous display that was quite possibly the best right back performance we have seen this season. He crossed brilliantly, marauded up and down the wing, interchanged positions well with the dangerous Saka and the excellent Odegaard… and still managed to pull off a fantastic covering double-stop to prevent them scoring in the second half. Not a bad day’s work for the lad, although he will be miffed to have shipped three goals.

In the second half (after a right earful from the Boss, I’d bet) we continued to apply pressure from the first whistle. Bowen fell over hoping for a foul that was only in his head. It was Laca’s turn to take a free kick quickly (he put his hand on the ball to stop it and luckily VAR failed to notice that it was still turning a fraction of a rotation as he kicked it) and, as we played it wide, it was Calum, doing his Cafu impression, who whipped in a fiendish ball that Dawson could only turn into his own net.

Our third was really good. Odegaard, who was unlucky not to be given MOTM after a scintillating display of close control and probing passes mixed with downright incisive ones, played sub Pepe in out wide. The Ivorian used his weaker foot to put in a cross that Chambers would have been proud of (seriously, the quality of that ball is of the very highest order) and Lacazette found space to score a header that he richly deserved. He was fantastic today- his best game in ages. He played some wonderful through balls, made great runs, was constantly dangerous, and, best of all, worked his balls off.

I am a huge fan of Auba, but Lacazette’s performance showed up our captain today. He was utterly anonymous, apart from when he was misplacing simple passes or conspicuous by his failure to be in a defensive position he should have been occupying. Worst of all, just did not put the effort in. He was our worst performer. However, he will want to be back to his best as soon as possible, and I am sure he will score vital goals for us before the season is over.

We did not manage to get a winner, and I do have some frustrations about that as we created so much. But to get a draw after being 3-0 down is not something we should turn our noses up at.

Some thoughts on individuals…

None of them were up to much in the first 35 minutes but Odegaard, Laca and Tierney were the ones who particularly stood out as being up for the battle. Xhaka was tremendously slow and backwardsy, as usual. Luiz, like most, got better, but I thought he showed exactly why he is a player we should not be relying on three times a week. He looked jaded. Leno should have saved the second but was otherwise good. Mari did fine. Saka looked tired but the kid is so classy. Partey tired as the game went on, but he is able to thread balls through the middle in a way we have missed for years; he is such an important player for our future. Tierney is a future captain (as soon as possible please Mikel!) The subs were good this time around. Pepe and ESR adding impetus and Xhaka coming off enabling us to get an extra attacking body on. Pepe again showed a moment of real class that helped us get a result. Gabi was quiet, but that was no loss as he replaced the ghostly Aubameyang.  

Lacazette commented afterwards that the players had not respected the gameplan that Arteta had set out for them to begin with. We have no idea what it was, although we know it was not “right lads, play like inebriated badgers wearing clogs who think the ball is a balloon filled with Harry Kane’s drool”, as that was what they executed to perfection.

Saka and Auba started on the wrong wings, in a move that was switched back after twenty minutes. Arteta said it was not the cause of our improvement, and he is right, but I imagine most of us do not wish to see this tactic repeated

I will leave it up to everyone in the drinks to decided whether the players or the manager take the Lion’s share of the blame for how we started. Personally, I cannot give the Boss any credit, but I think the players have to front up. In his interview with Sky, Arteta said we had been unacceptable. He spoke of our two faces- one of which plays incredibly well, while the other is “about giving goals to the opponent and not doing what we have to do.” He seemed somewhere way out beyond beyond furious; just utterly bemused by what he had seen.

I know how he feels.

Have a good one ‘holics.

62 Drinks to “The Two Faces Of Arsenal”

  1. 1
    TTG says:

    That’s a really great description of an extraordinary game . If I sat down to watch a game between two teams I didn’t support and saw that match I would be delighted .As you say GSD it encapsulated all of the stuff that you get with this Arsenal team. Jekyll and Hyde is a cliche but the ugliness of the start and the guts and quality of the comeback were polar opposites in terms of attitude and enjoyment . I still think we had a hangover from Thursday and the ennui that gripped us then which so frustrated me.
    There are problems throughout the team . Luiz is inconsistent and lacks concentration, Mari was slow and ponderous early on but improved . Tierney made lots of mistakes but fought like a tiger . Xhaka was awful and is not worth fielding in a game like that . Partey can’t shoot but his vertical passing is brilliant. If only he lasted 90 minutes! The star man was Odegaard who just edged out Lacazette and the admirable Chambers who is way better than Bellerin .
    I thought Arteta hit the right notes in his post match comments difficult though that was . This side is confusing him , perplexing him and occasionally delighting him .It does exactly the same to us

  2. 2
    Countryman100 says:

    Great review GSD. A crazy, but hugely entertaining game.

  3. 3
    Steve T says:

    Cheers GSD. Great write up.

    I obviously don’t share the view of one or two in the bar post match. If this had been a one off then you can put it down to just a bad day in the office. But it’s happened far too often for my liking this season. That’s why we sit in 9th. We have dropped stupid points all season.

    Several have commented of a great comeback, but again, I think this masks the poor performance. BTM wanted to talk about what might have been in the previous drinks. I get the point, but the reality is that we only score one of the six goals today. West Ham were half an inch away from making the game 4-2 and ending the contest. For me, this needs to be one massive reality check.

    I want Arteta to be a success, I really do. But the jury is very much still out for me. I hope he learns and develops. I hope he gets time to develop and mould a side that he feels he wants. But we are a long way from that. At times today we were slow and cumbersome. We lacked energy and passion. We played at times as if we are strangers and yet again, we got found out.

    There were positives today. Chambers was excellent. As was Ødegaard. Laca worked hard as deserved his goal. Great cross from Pepe which makes me ask why he chooses to be so one footed in almost every other situation.

    We need to start playing as a team and to get some consistency. Otherwise mid table will be where we deserve to be.

  4. 4
    BtM says:

    Great review, GSD. I did wonder whether Moss had blown the whistle for their free kick to be taken while he was taking the spray paint out of his pocket and engaging our players in discussion 🙂

    A perfect ball is played in to Laca. With his back to the goal he controls the ball with his right foot raised above his waist line. He swivels. He thumps the ball goalwards making absolutely perfect contact. The ball is heading toward the net. It grazes some lad on the way. West Ham, anyone, even John Moss himself if he wants to, can score goals like that for us every day of the week. I’ll take them 🙂

    Calum Chambers sees that too many balls are being floated high into a box filled with big lads with hard heads. He observes this isn’t working. He does what someone fae Fife has been calling for and hammers a great cross toward the goalmouth and Auba’s waiting boot. Some lad has to make a choice. Leave it to Auba or try to clear it. He tries the latter and its 3-2 (long after it should have been (Saka missed two, Laca one in the interim). West Ham, the Man on the Moon or My Aunt Fanny can score goals like that for us even week. I’ll take them. I’ll enjoy them. I won’t piss in my own whisky, I’ll savour a fine Malt. 🙂

    Keep smiling. COYG. Transition season. Everyone realise that, right?

  5. 5
    North Bank Ned says:

    Top match report, GSD.

    A comeback from triple autopedicide. I am sure Bath can condense that into one word

  6. 6
    Trev says:

    Really good review, GSD !

    Three goals away from home against a relatively high flying Wet Spam team, and yet only one point. A point that looked distinctly unlikely at 0-3 down but a superb fight back could and should really have secured us the other two.

    This team is to consistency what a fish is to a bicycle. No, neither do I !

    At least we still have great spirit. Imagine what could happen if we showed it from the off.

    By the way, I do agree with you about the “foul” that led to their quickly taken free kick. Where was it ?

    Still, no excuse for an abject first 35 minutes. Oh, and if you’re reading, Stan (of course he is !) – please sign Martin Ødegaard. Whatever it takes. Ta !

  7. 7
    bathgooner says:

    A great review of a difficult match, GSD. What a schizophrenic team we are! Pedestrian, incompetent and inept for 35 minutes transforming to dominant, dynamic and creative for the rest of the game. We have a track record of occasionally or even quite frequently starting slowly but that was by far the worst first 35 minutes I remember in ages. I think it might help if we got a new pre-match pep-talk. This transition is anything but linear.

  8. 8
    Steve T says:

    “(did we stop so completely because the ref reached for his can of spray to draw a white line, indicating he was not going to allow a quick free-kick?)”

    You raised an interesting point GSD, and not something I had thought about until you mentioned it. As a result, I specifically looked at their second on MOTD. The answer to your question is quite simply, no. At the point that the free kick is taken, we have 7 outfield players between the ball and the goal. One of those is Saka who is engaged in conversation with Moss. The two furthest away are Luiz and Chambers. From their position they will struggle to see anything Moss may or may not have in his hand. The remaining four, criminally, all have turned their back on the ball and are all walking away???? They clearly won’t have seen anything.

    Whatever happened to the days of standing in front of the ball until the ref indicated that the kick would not be taken until he had blown his whistle? Just another example of how asleep we were in the first half.

  9. 9
    TTG says:

    To pick up Bath’s point since December we have conceded very early away against S***s, Everton , Southampton( twice ) , Villa, Leicester and West Ham ( early like in the first ten or fifteen minutes) and we conceded after two minutes against Man City at home . We are extremely slow starters . Away from home since we played the Marshdwellers we have ( in my opinion ) been the better side in every game ( including Everton ) Conceding first against Villa ( with Grealish) is the way to lose to them and Wolves was a result determined by Craig Pawson in a game we were strolling . We committed Xhaka Kiri against Burnley , Otherwise we have been the better side away in Europe and the League and FA Cup ( excepting the second half on Thursday . We were inferior to Man City at home but we’ve been markedly better than Chelsea, S***s, Leeds, Newcastle ( twice) .
    But concede early in the modern game and you struggle big time .

  10. 10
    Uplympian says:

    A fine match report GSD – you described the abject play followed by the admirable play perfectly. Like others here I’m relieved to secure a point after being 3-0 down but still horrified by the 3 goals conceded that got us to this in the first place.
    I thought Martin Odergaard had an outstanding game – he has settled in really well and provides an excellent fulcrum to our forward play. Sadly I doubt if he will be playing for us next season as surely Madrid will want to keep such a talent. Should they be willing to sell however then pay whatever is necessary to sign him – he would be a tremendous asset to the team.
    With the dreadful international fixtures now upon us hopefully those players going away with their national teams can find the imputus to relax & return un-injured and raring to go for the final part of the season.

  11. 11
    Osakamatt says:

    Great report GSD!
    The only thing I am sure about
    from this game is that it will give
    MA a lot to think about during the
    dreaded interlull

  12. 12
    Silly Second Yella says:

  13. 13
    North Bank Ned says:

    Ødergaard would probably cost in the range of £25 million-35 million. It would be money well spent on the basis of today’s performance.

  14. 14
    North Bank Ned says:

    The FA Cup semi-final draw makes the loss to Southampton rankle even more than it did at the time.

  15. 15
    Countryman100 says:

    Ned. I always hesitate to challenge you as you have the power of the monks behind you but how do you get to £25m – £35m for Odegaard? I would have thought it would be much, much higher, more like £60m.

  16. 16
    Steve T says:

    Whilst I wouldn’t ever go against the monks, I must admit, I very much agree with C100. I would love to see him stay at Arsenal but for that to happen I think relies on many different issues. First of all that Madrid want to sell him? Like C100, the better he plays for us the more likely that the cost will be in the £60 million region. We then have the issue of trying to sell the club to him? The flip side of his increased development with us is that we continue to put him in the shop window. It is far from certain that we will have any European football to look forward to next season. Many others who would no doubt welcome his services, will have. Like others at the club who we want to retain for the long term, we have to ensure that as a club that we can match their ambitions.

  17. 17
    Countryman100 says:

    GSD. Your question “does spaghetti bolognese have bacon in it” prompted much discussion in the countryman household. We concluded that, although we still cook the student classic, starting with olive oil, onions and garlic, with no bacon, it probably isn’t authentic. Consulting our Italian cook books Marcella Hazan does not add bacon or pancetta, but Valentina Harris does. Both say that to be an authentic ragu it needs milk or cream adding to it and needs to be cooked for many hours.

    Thank you for stimulating this discussion. Next week, “should you add hot sauce to your kebab on the way back from the Emirates.?”

  18. 18
    bt8 says:

    Thanks GSD for your report. Having been out all day I was surprised to see my DVR had not recorded the game, for unknown reasons, so I’ve read your report and seen the highlights but still don’t quite see how we let this game get away from us so early. Very disappointed to see how we allowed them to take an unopposed free kick for their second goal though.

  19. 19
    Countryman100 says:

    These pics are good

  20. 20
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@15 and SteveT@16: Ødegaard would probably cost us at the top end of my range, perhaps even a tad over depending on how hard Real Madrid want to negotiate, assuming they want to negotiate at all. Valuations have fallen post-pandemic as buying clubs have to be more hard-headed about what they can afford and selling clubs more realistic about what they can hold out for and how large a wage bill they can carry.

    As Steve T points out (and TTG had earlier), there would be many unknowns to such a deal, including whether whoever is RM’s manager at the time, possibly (probably?) not Zidane, wants to keep the Norweigan, what ins and outs there are among their other midfielders, and how much pressure the club is under to unload players to lighten its wage bill. Ødegaard’s contract at RM runs to the summer of 2023, so it would have to take a hard decision by summer 2022. That might make lending him to us for another season make sense, but who knows? As they proverbially say about Japanese politics, an inch in front of your nose is darkness.

  21. 21
    Doctor Faustus says:

    A characteristically GSDian amalgamation of witticisms and insights. 🙂

    As TTG sagely pointed out, most if not all of our poor results have come in games that we have started slowly. Why do we start slowly — especially in our own defensive third — in some matches and look razor sharp in some other matches should demand of the full-time sports psychologists in Arsenal payroll a much better therapeutic performance than he has been able to serve up recently. I hope he is also not Arteta’s personal therapist …

    I find a clear line of demarcation has started to appear that separate the players who can play Arteta-ball from those who cannot. What the club is going to do about the changes needed and how fast will determine a lot of what we can achieve next season.

    The rest of this season will be a thrilling ride. The perennial optimist in me sees a very pleasant surprise at the end, but I don’t necessarily expect the reality to unfold according to my neural make-up.

    Regarding how to keep Martin Ødegaard here in the red-and-white for the long term I think the best route is to convince him and his agent that an Arsenal team built around him (and ESR, Sake, KT, Gabigoal) is where he wants to be at this stage of his career, where he will be completely supported and backed and allowed freedom, and have his manager’s full backing, and away from theatrical managerial whimsies of Spanish giants. And also properly remunerated, of course. Once the player and the agent are convinced the rest can happen relatively straightforward, even if we need to cough up some cash (which won’t be as much as many fear, because of the deflated market in a continental Europe still reeling from the pandemic and its aftermath).

  22. 22
    Doctor Faustus says:

    @21: I meant Saka, of course. I sure hope there is never any Sake in the Arsenal dressing room.

  23. 23
    TTG says:

    I note the Ødegaard price tag discussion . When he joined us some reports gave a value very much in line with Ned’s range and I think this aligned from memory with his Transfermarkt valuation . However , he has underlined his value to Madrid since he came on loan. That would mean his last three loan spells have been very impressive in three different leagues ( assuming he stays on the same trajectory with us ) . But as someone wrote yesterday Real recalled him from his Sociedad loan a year early and then proceeded not to play him at all and if Zidane stays he won’t want to take the risk of returning.
    He has become an international captain since he joined us ( not a coincidence I would suggest) , he seems to trust Arteta and vice versa and the Premier League is the strongest league in Europe , and the richest and arguably the most glamorous .
    Our biggest worry is if another British club or someone like Bayern or PSG like the cut of his jib.Peter Wood suggested we were looking at extending his loan for another year. If we make real progress as a club we may be able to sort out a permanent deal in 2022.

  24. 24
    ksn says:

    Thanks for an excellent report GSD. I couldn’t believe we started so badly. The way West Ham dominated proceedings for the first 20 minutes was a surprise as we didn’t even get to kick a ball. The first goal conceded should have woken us from the slumber but it didn’t as we conceded two more. The worst thirty minutes I have seen any Arsenal team play.

    There is no explanation for the revival as we started playing really well around the thirty five minute mark. Odegaard ran the proceedings along with Partey and West Ham suddenly looked vulnerable. If Saka had taken his chances we could have gone into the break even.
    The second half was all us and we should have scored four or five.

    Auba was dire as he ran around doing nothing. If he had concentrated on meeting some of the excellent crosses whipped in by Chambers he would have definitely scored. I hope he has not deliberately switched off after Arteta dropped him against s***s.

    Odegaard should have been the man of the match and Chambers a close second. Laca and Pepe were others who had a good outing. KT had a poor game by his standards.

    I would be very happy to get Odegaard for £25-30 million? I am sure Real Madrid would either keep him seeing the way he is playing or ask for around £50 mil. I think we should get him at that price as he is young and is a special silky talent and will run our midfield for the next decade. Ozil without the attitude.

    Arteta has to find a way to see that we are switched on for the entire duration the match.
    A very strange match where we scored one goal to West Ham’s five, and it ended with us feeling like we had won it.

  25. 25
    North Bank Ned says:

    For the record, Transfermarkt’s current valuation of Ødegaard’s transfer fee is 40 million euros, just shy of £35 million, and 20% down from its pre-pandemic peak. If Real Madrid is a willing seller, I think we could buy the Norweigan for not much more and probably less. If they want to keep him, any valuation becomes moot.

  26. 26
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Cheers all.

    I reckon if Real are up for selling Ødegaard then £35m is the maximum it would take to get him in the current market. And I reckon he might well fancy a permanent move to us. We will have to see.

    I am utterly miffed by the bizarre idea that own goals somehow don’t count. West Ham scored 5? We only scored one? What? When did this start being how football was tallied?

    When El-Arabi’s shot deflected off Gabriel giving them a 1-0 away win I don’t remember a single person saying that they may have won the game but we were the only team to score a goal.
    When Auba’s header went in against Burnley I do not remember it getting added to his goal tally for the season.

    What an absurd way to twist facts.

    Poor Chambers, who forced Dawson into going for a ball that unluckily went into his own goal. What kind of meanie would want to take away credit for that? It ain’t like West Ham played an inspired 17 pass move through their own defence to finish past their own keeper whilst our lot sat on deckchairs watching, is it?

    And as for Laca. Well, Soucek did very well to divert his shot into the goal. It would have gone wide otherwise, and it came at him at top speed from about 18 inches away, yet he found a way to deflect it goalwards. The West Ham man should get goal of the season for a blinding finish like that. His reflexes were so quick if I didn’t know any better I’d say it was completely accidental.

  27. 27
    Bathgooner says:

    GSD @26, 👌🏼

  28. 28
    TTG says:

    I had to move my car along the road this afternoon ( this constitutes quite a journey nowadays) and turned on TalkShite . They were taking calls from West Ham fans about the game and I can honestly say I have never heard such stupid people on a broadcast like that in my life . I sat and listened while they abused David Moyes , a man who has transformed that club and of course we got the five goal argument . Those were the two most blameless own goals I’ve ever seen. Lacazette ‘s control and finish were very crisp and his shot just touched Souchek ( costing me several points in the process!) and Chambers produced a completely undefendable cross. He could do nothing in that situation but touch the ball into the net or let Auba score. In retrospect Auba may well have found a way to miss ! It was utterly moronic. There was no acknowledgement of how well Arsenal played in the second half .
    I don’t have the antipathy towards West Ham that some do but as Esso often points out they cold-bloodedly murdered an Arsenal fan in April 1979 outside Highbury . I think one has to move on but they have had some incredibly brutal fans .Frankly it ill-serves football if you put people like this on a public forum who are incapable of articulating almost anything resembling sensible or worthwhile comment . One railed on about not controlling Campbell ( he meant Chambers ). I’m still wondering whether it is worth commenting to TalkShite about the banality of their offering .

  29. 29
    Trev says:

    GSD @26,

    Not even surprising any more. Any way of denying Arsenal any credit for anything at all is fair game.

  30. 30
    Silly Second Yella says:

    Almost like Milan – Liverpool in Istanbul but

    without ExtraTime

    Elneny should be in the first XI

    better player then Xhaka in my humble opinion

    and HUMBLE is my middle name

  31. 31
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@28: The Inter City Firm were West Ham, as I am sure you will recall.

  32. 32
    Trev says:

    Nasty mob they were, Ned,

    calling cards printed with “you’ve been cut by the ICF” (by Stanley knife)

    The good old days, eh ?

  33. 33
    OsakaMatt says:

    I wonder why Zidane doesn’t seem
    to rate Ødegaard.

  34. 34
    ksn says:

    I didn’t say that own goals don’t count and I did say that both Laca and Chambers played really well. I also said that we had done really well to come back from three goals down. I am not taking away credit from anyone, just saying that there is an element of luck in an own goal. Very happy with our performance over the last hour of the match.

  35. 35
    Noosa Gooner says:

    I turned off after the third Spammers goal went in. Did I miss anything worthwhile?

  36. 36
    North Bank Ned says:

    Trev@32: late and not particularly lamented days.

  37. 37
    Doctor Faustus says:

    GSD, not awarding assists to Chambers for those two goals are absurd.
    After the first 35 minutes when the team was leisurely brewing their morning espresso we blew them away. Played football that David Ghostface doesn’t even have the balls to fantasize about, and no one talked about this but towards the end there was a clear push on Nico in the penalty box.

    I am a patient kind of person. I know the tides will turn sooner or later. And it will be magnificent to see the Collective Biased Media incorporated stammering on their idiocies when we start again to toy with these teams (spuds included) consistently.

  38. 38
    North Bank Ned says:

    OM@33: It is not just Ødegaard. There a list as long of your arm of promising youngsters that Real Madrid has signed over the past half dozen seasons but Zidane has been reluctant to play. They’ve not played. gone out on loan, done well, and come back and not played again or been sold and then had glittering careers elsewhere.

    Theo Hernandez now at Milan, Marcos Llorente at Atletico and Luka Jovic, now back in Frankfurt, would be examples.

    Instead, Zidane has relied on his old warhorses to win hm titles and trophies. Six of his first-choice XI are over thirty, and most of the rest are in their late twenties. Vinicius Junior is the only exception to the rule. To be fair to Zidane, he has won titles and trophies that way, the winning of which is probably critical to any longevity in the manager’s seat at the Bernabeu.

    He is also clearly masterful at managing established stars and coaxing title and trophy-winning performances out of ageing bodies that have already won it all, which is not something every manager can do by a long chalk.

    But, equally, he doesn’t seem able to do the thing that marks out the truly great managers, which is constantly rebuilding winning teams by bringing on and integrating fresh blood.

    I doubt Zidane will change his spots. If I was our young Norweigan, I would be thinking hard about returning to Madrid while the Frenchman is still in charge. Incidentally, Arsene Wenger tried to buy a teenage Ødegaard about eight years ago. It came down to a choice between us and Real Madrid. If it comes down to that again, I hope he gets the decision right this time around.

  39. 39
    Steve T says:

    I’ve Just been sent a bizarre football statistic.

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo are the only two players to have scored in every single minute of a football match, minutes 1-90.


  40. 40
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Ned@38: Completely agree. But not only Zizou, does Real have typically a culture of growing talented youngsters from within in recent times? Not too many name comes to mind — Raul, Casillas, Ramos (who was brought in from Sevilla if I remember).

    Not only our manager’s trust, I think that Ødegaard would also enjoy the company of key players of his own age group in the dressing room. Tierney, Saka, ESR, Gabriel et al. are already key contributors and in case of KT even a vocal leader. There is a great chance Martinelli will join that group. That kind of environment makes it easier to express yourself freely and creatively.

  41. 41
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Steve @39.

    That must have been one hell of a match! 😉

  42. 42
    Steve T says:

    Ended up with extra time and penalties GSD.

    Until VAR got involved. It was then recorded as a one all draw.

  43. 43
    Osakamatt says:

    talking of odd statistics – Feo is the
    most subbed off player in PL history

  44. 44
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    OM @43

    Only because he’s never had Cynic as his manager 😉

  45. 45
    bt8 says:

    RIP Frank Worthington. Loved watching his mustache as he was running down the wing for Leicester.

  46. 46
    bt8 says:

    Groundskeeper’s goal featuring nono-watering of the pitch where the ball bounces?


  47. 47
    North Bank Ned says:

    SteveT@42: 🙂

  48. 48
    North Bank Ned says:

    GSD@44: Tsk! Tsk!

  49. 49
    North Bank Ned says:

    Dr F.@40: Purportedly, Real Madrid has for several years now shifted from the galacticos model to buying and advancing young talent. However, if you have a manager who relies on the old guard, you are not going to get very far.

    I see Bale is planning to return to Madrid next season and hoover up his final year of millions. They might welcome a few bob from us for Ødegaard to help offset the wage bill.

  50. 50
    North Bank Ned says:

    **Tumbleweed rolls into an empty net for the half-ton**

  51. 51
    North Bank Ned says:

    An intriguing study in Variety, the US entertainment industry trade paper, about different generational preferences for watching sport on TV. A majority of younger Americans say they prefer watching highlights to full games of major league baseball and basketball and just shy of a majority say the same for American football. With older viewers, it is the other way round. I have no idea how those attitudes would translate across the Atlantic and to football, in particular, but professional football in Europe is built on the money that comes into the game for TV rights. If fans stop watching the games, those rights could become a whole lot less valuable.


  52. 52
    OsakaMatt says:

    It is quiet out there Ned, too quiet.
    It must be that damned inter lull again. Well in for the 50 though.

    And thanks for the fulsome reply to my idle wondering about Odegaard.
    Zidane is an odd one as you say, however he may be gone by the
    summer if Real get knocked out the CL.

  53. 53
    Countryman100 says:

    Exciting news coming tomorrow folks.

  54. 54
    bathgooner says:

    Not such exciting news tonight.

    Ødegaard subbed off at HT by Norway with a rolled ankle injury.

  55. 55
    bathgooner says:

    Better news on MØ:

    They hope he’ll be fit for Saturday.

  56. 56
    TTG says:

    Ødegaard taken off playing for Norway tonight with an ankle injury…but..the manager doesn’t believe it is serious and hopes he wil be fit for Saturday

  57. 57
    bt8 says:

    Re: c100 @53. Isn’t it tomorrow already UK time?

  58. 58
    bt8 says:

    Just sayin’

  59. 59
    bt8 says:

    This two minute video is apparently not available in my location, so being completely in the dark I’d just like to know whether “bang average” is any better or worse than “average”


    Also please let me know if the video was interesting at all.

  60. 60
    bt8 says:

    Howdy, family and friends of cba.

    And MOOOOOOOOOoooooo

  61. 61
    bt8 says:

    Just for good measure.

    Hope all is well out there.

  62. 62
    Bathgooner says: