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“It’s up for grabs now!” From Arsenal.com

If it’s difficult for me to pick up the threads after an interlull that seems to have lasted longer than usual because the ‘International Powers That Be’ have squeezed an extra uninspiring fixture into the fortnight, it must be tough for the boss and the players too. I struggle to recall the momentum that we built up in the weeks before the break only to climb a single place in the table to ninth. However, in the final 55 minutes of the last game against the Spammers we displayed all the drive, verve, interplay and skill that I would like to see all game, every game. That display contrasted starkly with the woebegone, gormless 35 minutes that preceded it and that whole game rather epitomised Arsenal’s season to date.

We come into our home fixture against Liverpool on the back of a record of 11 wins, 5 draws and 5 defeats in all competitions since Christmas having scored 34 goals and conceded 20. Not title winning form by any means but an improvement on the first half of the season. However, we have had a recent stutter in our last two games with a last five of DLWWD. 

The current champions have made a complete pig’s ear out of their championship defence. Over the same period since Christmas, Liverpool’s record is 7 wins, 3 draws and 9 defeats in all competitions, scoring 22 and conceding 21. Their last five may indicate an upturn in form: WWLLW which should focus our minds. Your guess is as good as mine on the impact of the interlull on the form of both teams but it would be nice if we resumed where we left off and were on our game from the first whistle.

Liverpool is one of the few English clubs against whom our record is less than favourable. The first meeting between Woolwich Arsenal and Liverpool took place on 28th October 1893 ending in a 0-5 League Division 2 thrashing at our home ground in Woolwich. While such drubbings have been rare, across all 232 meetings between the clubs we have won 81, drawn 61 and lost 90 (35% wins). Astonishingly, given our relative success, it gets worse in Premiership matches where we have won 16, drawn 19 and lost 22 of 57 meetings (28% wins). Our home Premiership record is of course better, with 10 wins, 11 draws and 7 defeats in 28 meetings (36% wins) but it’s still not spectacular. 

This prompted a detour into the archives (I am an amateur archaeologist) to discover whether Liverpool are indeed our bogey team. In Premiership terms they are certainly our least favourite opponent but we have lower win percentages against five other clubs: Brentford, 20% in 10 games, between 1935 and 1947; Burton United, 33% in 6 games, between 1901 and 1904; Millwall, 22% in 18 games, between 1896 and 1990; Oldham Athletic, 25% in 20 games, between 1910 and 1994; Oxford United, 33% in 6 games, between 1985 and 1988. That might slightly temper my enthusiasm for the Bees to gain promotion to the Premiership. Instead I think we should bring back Reading against whom we have notched up an 80% win record in 10 meetings between 1898 and 2013!

Returning to the matter at hand, we sit in 9th place on 42 points, 9 points off 4th place which is currently occupied by a bus stop in Fulham (10 points if you factor in our markedly inferior goal difference). We are currently 7 points off 5th place, the only league position guaranteed to qualify for the Europa League though the FA Cup Winner’s place seems likely to be transferred to 6th place and hopefully the League Cup Winner’s place will go to 7th place when Shitteh smash the Marshdwellers in the final. Our visitors currently sit in 7th place, 4 points ahead of us on 46 points and only 4 goals to the good (our GD is +8) with Everton sitting between us on 46 points with an inferior goal difference of 3 but with a game in hand. Thus, with 11 games to play, a win against Liverpool would be an important step towards securing European football through our league position next season. On the other hand, Liverpool will see a route back into the top 4 being enhanced by winning this match. We should expect both sides to be ‘at it’ (ahem!).

What of the teams? Given their desire to regain a Champions League place for next season, we can expect Liverpool to play their strongest eleven. Hopefully that will still mean they are as vulnerable defensively as they have proved to be so frequently this season, misfiring in midfield and having to rely on a burst of brilliance from their burnt-out front three. On current form, I would identify Jota as their dangerman despite his recent layoff due to injury.

We simply have to choose our strongest eleven too and hope that the dreamlike malaise that struck at the beginning of the last game has dissipated and that our tendencies to individual errors have been eradicated. I think controlled movement of the ball up front and a high press like we finished with at the Council Stadium will serve us well. Sadly, both Saka and ESR (who have both been instrumental in our renaissance this season) sound very doubtful. Perhaps the latter may make the bench. Hence, I would start:


Cedric, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney

Partey, Xhaka


Pépé, Lacazette, Aubameyang.

The Holic Pound? The Bookies favour a low scoring draw and history does demonstrate their logic. However, the Arsenal desperately need three points and if we can commence with and maintain throughout the drive we showed against the Spammers then I think we will gain them. So, let’s have the spirit of Anfield from 26 May 1989 and it’s a punt on 2-0 to the Arsenal at 18/1 for the Holic Pound.

Enjoy the match, Holics.

Finally, in case you’ve missed our news, we will be marking the 50th anniversary of the ’71 Double with five special events. Dates will be announced as soon as the match schedule for early May is confirmed.

59 Drinks to “Let’s Have the Spirit of ‘89”

  1. 1
    Osakamatt says:

    thanks Bath, a fine preview of a
    difficult game just after the interlull.
    Their defensive problems are well-
    known and I hope Auba, Laca and
    Pepe will be at their sharpest.
    I fancy 3-1 myself but would happily
    take 2-0 all over again.

  2. 2
    Osakamatt says:

    And I must admit I wouldn’t have
    guessed any of those teams for our
    worst win %s 😂

  3. 3
    North Bank Ned says:

    Excellent preview, Bath. Your team looks about right. My only disagreement might be at right-back, where Chambers might continue. Cedric may be saved to give KT3 at rest in one of the subsequent games over what are a busy next two weeks.

    I would take a 2-0 win in a heartbeat.

    Not to quibble with your win percentage numbers, but if you include our matches against Burton Swifts and Burton Wanderers, who merged to become Burton United, our win percentage increases to 50%.

    The remarkable thing about the Brentford games is that in the four seasons, 1935-36, 1936-37, 1937-38 and 1938-39, we won the league twice and were third and fifth in the other two seasons, yet beat the Bees just once in eight league games, losing five. That really does make Brentford our bogey side. The win did not come until the final game of the sequence, which was also our last league game before the Second World War halted league football. For six of the Arsenal team, including Eddie Hapgood, Ted Drake and Jack Crayston, it would be their last competitive game for us.

  4. 4
    ClockEndRider says:

    Nice work, Bath. Is it me or do we always struggle in the first game after an interlull? The Mickeys are certainly nowhere near their imperious best of last season, unsurprising given the injuries that have ripped their defence to shreds. I think attack will be our best firm of defence and fancy Auba to do the business on Saturday, returning early in the week to the club as African nations seemed to play only 2 games than the ridiculous 3 the Europeans players faced.

  5. 5
    bt8 says:

    Excellent and educational preview, Bath, many thanks. Glad the monks added the footnote about Burton Swifts though. 😉

  6. 6
    Pangloss says:

    Good preview, Baff. A real pleasure to have some real football to look forward to. I look forward to the days when I’ll be able to look forward to every game with something approaching confidence.

    Predicting Arsenal scores, performances and teams is a mug’s game this season so I won’t join in. Whatever happens I will credit Arteta for the successes and blame Özil for the failures.


  7. 7
    scruzgooner says:

    nice preview baff. some great information in there, and i do hope we can honor the 89 squad and rocky with a 2-0 win. COYG.

    sad to hear about torreira’s mother, and that he felt “hurt” by arsenal. i do hope we can help him realize his and his father’s wish to play for boca juniors. rest in peace, mama t.

  8. 8
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Excellent preview Bath! I like your team and predicted scoreline. Gabi Martinelli didn’t need to travel, and starting him ahead of either Pépé or Aubameyang (I know, I know) — both of whom have returned from international duty — may not be a bad idea. We will need to have a relatively invigorated first eleven against Slavia Praha as well. For the same reason Bellerin may start ahead of Cedric, or for that matter even Chambers may start given his rather excellent performance against the hammers.

    Not having a true alternative for KT will be a difficult problem to manage for Mikel until the end of the season. Maybe start Cedric in the left back against Slavia — as Ned already pointed out — and have one of Bellerin/Chambers in the right back. KT-Auba/Gabi combo against Liverpool’s high defensive line will be a joy to watch, hopefully.

    Sincerest condolences to Lucas and his family! He has been away from home since he was 17 and this must have been a devastating blow to him. I am sure the club will provide all the necessary support in helping him to make the move that he wants after the end of this season.

    For tomorrow I am hoping for an entertaining and intense 3-1 victory.

    Come on Arsenal!

  9. 9
    ksn says:

    Thanks for a fine preview, Bath. I would prefer Bellerin’s pace against Mane and wouldn’t mind Martinelli starting. Agree with the rest of your team but I would take a win, whatever the score. Both teams have defensive problems but really good attacking play, so it should be a good game to watch with quite a few goals.

  10. 10
    TTG says:

    Luiz is out with a knee problem, Xhaka is unwell and we have big doubts about Saka and ESR . Yippee though Willian is fit!
    That might mean
    Bellerin Holding Gabriel Tierney
    Partey Ceballos
    Pepe Ødegaard Aubameyang

  11. 11
    Trev says:

    A fine preview, thank you Sir !

    Enjoyed coincidentally on bath night – first Friday in every month whether I need it or not !

    Not going to hazard a guess at the team after an interminable Interlull but I like the look of your 2-0 score line – a veritable dream come true given our up and down form over the season so far.

  12. 12
    bt8 says:

    TTG. Team sounds about right. Just thought to point out the provenance ratio of Madrid in that team is 3/11 and that of Barcelona is 1/11. Not sure what Lonestar would say about that in terms of BMBD, other than just that. COYG

  13. 13
    bt8 says:


  14. 14
    TTG says:

    Provenance rate is a strange calculation nowadays isn’t it? Partey sort of came through the Atletico system with plenty of loans en route ….the modern way . Ceballos has been transferred in and loaned out and Ødegaard was transferred in albeit at a very early age but finds himself with much greater affiliations onfield with his temporary clubs than his parent club. It is a testament to his character that his service to his loan clubs has been of such a high order .Hector was nicked from La Masia at a very early age and has Barca DNA floating around in his bloodstream no doubt .
    Madrid looms large in the fixture today . The Bindippers must be extremely aware that they play a huge game there on Tuesday evening . We may seem more rotation from them than us today .

  15. 15
    North Bank Ned says:

    Saka appears in the training photographs on the club site, so hopefully, he is fit enough for at least a place on the bench. No ESR to be seen. Nor could I spot Chambers.

    So important to win today to kickstart the run into the pointy end of the season.

  16. 16
    Bathgooner says:

    I am sorry to have omitted to mention the anniversary of Rocky’s untimely death in the preview. The Arsenal have done him proud with today’s match day programme and there is a feature on


  17. 17
    Osakamatt says:

    An amusing end to the 1st half
    for Chavski against WBA.
    Missed it but apparently Chavski
    down to ten men.

  18. 18
    bt8 says:

    WBA seem to be doing okay now Matt. 1-4 at the Bridgestop.

  19. 19
    ksn says:

    Chelsea 2-5 WBA.

  20. 20
    Osakamatt says:

    watched bits of it, a funny start
    to the football weekend 😄

  21. 21
    North Bank Ned says:

    Chambers Holding Gabriel Tierney
    Partey Ceballos
    Pepe Ødegaard Aubameyang

  22. 22
    North Bank Ned says:

    Bench: Ryan, Cedric, Bellerin, Mari, ElNeny, Nelson, Willian, Martinelli, Nketiah

  23. 23
    ksn says:

    Leno; Chambers, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Thomas Partey, Ceballos; Pépé, Odegaard, Aubameyang; Lacazette.

    Subs: Ryan, Bellerin, Cedric, Mari, Elneny, Nelson, Willian, Martinelli, Nketiah

    Saka, ESR out but quite an attacking line up.

  24. 24
    ksn says:

    Martin Atkinson to officiate.

  25. 25
    North Bank Ned says:

    Saka being held back out of the proverbial abundance of caution, I trust, and not because he is more crocked than has been let on.

  26. 26
    TTG says:

    I got 10/11. Modern football really is about rotation . Our next game is two days later than theirs …and they have to travel

  27. 27
    ksn says:

    Chambers vs Mane can be tough to watch. Pepe will have to help him defensively.

    My problem is that we don’t have enough defensive solidity in the midfield. Klopp did say that all the Arsenal attackers are in the starting team. Salah, Firmino and Mane can create havoc if we don’t stick to our defensive organisation.

    Got to start well.

  28. 28
    Countryman100 says:

    Bit of a slow start. Mane rolled Rob very easily.

  29. 29
    ksn says:

    A bit disjointed, hesitant and tentative. Not much belief in what they are doing.

  30. 30
    ksn says:

    We are not in the game at all as we are not able to keep the ball or put up any sort of offensive play. On top of that we are defending desperately. Mane/ Salah almost got in.
    Odegaard is too slow?

  31. 31
    ksn says:

    Milner misses an open goal. More shit defending from us.
    Miss the defensive organisation and the transition from defense to offence which Luiz brings.
    Looks like a match between UEFA quarter finalist vs Europa quarter finalist and very easy to which is which.

  32. 32
    ksn says:

    Tierney down, hope he is ok. Can assess him after half time.

  33. 33
    ksn says:

    Cedric is coming on, so not very good news about Tierney.

  34. 34
    ksn says:

    At least we get to half time on even terms.

  35. 35
    Countryman100 says:

    What a dreadful half of football.

  36. 36
    Countryman100 says:

    It’s Anfield 89 all over again. 0-0 at half time, we’re going to win 2-0. 😂😂

  37. 37
    ksn says:

    Very true, C100 and I don’t know how Arteta will get this team playing cohesively. Both Pepe and Auba are airy, iffy players and have gone totally missing. Time to get Bellerin and Martinelli in?

  38. 38
    ksn says:

    Like your optimism, C100.

  39. 39
    ksn says:

    Ceballos off for Elneny.

  40. 40
    ksn says:

    Pool go ahead as Jotta scores.

  41. 41
    ksn says:

    Very disappointed with our play today. If we continue like this we will be tenth even next year.

  42. 42
    Countryman100 says:

    We are well beaten tonight. Only hope is the EL.

  43. 43
    depressedgooner says:

    I was not going to be negative about this game, but Mikel started it ba-doom tish!

    Nothing to say, we were awful and sadly got what we deserved, losing KT was bad and the referee to me favoured them a little more than I would have liked, but I doubt it would have changed the result, just maybe the score.

  44. 44
    BtM says:

    Never in that game. Visitors gave us a pressing lesson and deserved four points (one bonus for making s look like turkeys).

  45. 45
    Steve T says:

    Not for the first time, a totally clueless and lacklustre performance. Again, not for the first time, we played as if no one knew each other. Why? Why are we still putting in shite performances like this? We are going backwards. I dread to think how toxic the ground would have been if there had been fans in?

    Arteta needs to take a long look at what he is doing. Or what he isn’t doing. He sends this team out and I would hope we have some sort of game plan? The players out there tonight should be good enough to at least put in some effort.

    Well played ksn. I deliberately stayed out of the bar for this game. Sad that for a match like this that you were the only one passing any real comment during the game. I miss the old days and the pre WhatsApp days when the bar came alive during a match.

  46. 46
    Steve T says:

    Just listened to Arteta’s post match interview. I’m really not sure what to make of that I must say. We might have missed players today, but we are 9th in the league when they are all fit???

    I think he is running out of excuses. I’ve said it before but if we genuinely hope to keep our best players, let alone sign the quality that we know we need, then there needs to be a massive improvement. We were debating the potential fee for Ødegaard a while back? Is he signing for us to play in a lacklustre, bang average, mid table side?

    Arteta and EDU between them have 8 games left in the league to prove they have what it takes to turn this around. Otherwise I won’t be the only one questioning “the brightest young manager in football” tag that several have given him.

    Massive improvements needed.

  47. 47
    bathgooner says:

    Well, that was grim.

    Who’d a thunk we were actually better in that awful first half?

    We have a massive mountain to climb.

  48. 48
    Uplympian says:

    The defeat itself doesn’t hurt as much as the actual performance – it was demoralising. Too many times this season have been the same – we are a mid-table team, the table doesn’t lie. Let’s hope they can somehow raise their game for the remaining uefa matches.

  49. 49
    North Bank Ned says:

    Unable to watch the game, but clearly missed a stinker.

    No room for error in the EL now.

  50. 50
    North Bank Ned says:

    Who is going to say we missed Xhaka?

  51. 51
    North Bank Ned says:

    Luiz reportedly out for the season, KT3 for a number of games at least and ESR’s injury is of the sort that never seems to go away quickly or completely. That is much of the driving force of Arteta’s core team. Not good.

  52. 52
    ATG says:

    Would you say that’s the worst performance from your side since you took over?

    “I don’t know if it was the worse but probably one of the worst and the one that really shocked me. It leaves us in that position that we have to apologise for what we’ve done on that pitch today throughout the game.”

    He can see but didn’t do a great deal about it at the time. Half time talk certainly didn’t do jack shit.

    Thursday is a must win game!

  53. 53
    Steve T says:

    Where did you get that from Ned? If that is correct then that is a massive blow.

    We did miss Xhaka tonight, and dare I say it, but there lies the entire problem. That is why we are struggling to maintain a mid table position. If we have got to the stage where we miss Xhaka then in my humble opinion, we have major issues.

  54. 54
  55. 55
    North Bank Ned says:

    Thanks for posting the link, ksn.

  56. 56
    Steve T says:

    Thanks ksn, Ned. We can only hope for the best.

    Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse?

  57. 57
    bathgooner says:

    Rookie mistake there Steve. Things can always get worse! 😕

  58. 58
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:


    A performance like that hasn’t really got any better after a sleep to digest it.

  59. 59
    Bathgooner says: