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As promised in the preview of our league game at Sheffield United last season, here are some summer ramblings on the early laws of the game.

By way of disclosure, there is not much Arsenal in this as it covers the three decades before the club was founded. Still, I hope it will give a sense of how football got to where it was when Dial Square played its first game in December 1886 and why that game was at least a rudimentary approximation of the modern game and not more like rugby or Aussie rules or American football, with all of which it shares a common root.

That common root was a mob game in which one team propelled a ball towards a goal by any bodily means possible, and the other used any physical means available to stop them. It was no-holds-barred and brutal. By the first half of the nineteenth century, it had become more organised as a game — Victorians were great organisers and rule givers — but there were still many local variants and all looked like a very violent game of rugby. Not for the faint of heart.

By the 1850s, the existential divide was whether football was primarily a game played with the hands or the feet (it was all still football because it was played on foot). The acid test was not whether a player could handle the ball at all but whether he could run with it in hand.

Sheffield rules

In 1858, the world’s first football club, Sheffield FC, codified a set of rules that both pushed the game decisively in the direction of kicking, dribbling and passing — football — as opposed to running with the ball and scrimmaging — rugby — and which, more importantly, stuck.

There had been some earlier attempts by the old boys of English public schools who had wound up at some educational institution in East Anglia to unify the rules they had played by as schoolboys. They were all short-lived (the attempts, not the schoolboys). Each generation came up with new ones. 

It would not be until five years after the first Sheffield rules were published that a lasting set of Cambridge rules would appear. By then, the Sheffield rules had been widely adopted across the north of England and the Midlands, where football was taking root as the people’s game.

The Cambridge rules significance is that they would provide the basis of the laws of the game published by the fledgling Football Association founded the same year, 1863. For the next decade and a half, the two codes would haltingly converge, with the FA progressively adopting Sheffield innovations such as corner kicks, free kicks for fouls and the indirect free kick.

By 1877, the codes had become all but identical. That year, after one final flare-up over what to do after a ball went into touch (should it be kicked in or thrown in?), the Sheffield Football Association formally adopted the FA’s laws and dropped its own. In the process, football had taken a form we recognise in the modern game. What became rugby football and the far-flung global variants had gone their separate ways.

Time travel

If we were to time travel to the mid-19th century to watch a match under Sheffield rules, one of the first things that would strike us is how much handling there still was.

Under Sheffield rules, any player could hit or push the ball with their hand and make a ‘fair catch’ of a ball kicked high, just as in rugby or American football today. The catcher then got a free-kick, although he could not score from it.

As an indication of how contentious handling the ball was and the innate understanding that it was the critical distinction between football and rugby, ’knocking or pushing on the ball’ was outlawed in the initial draft of the first Sheffield rules. Yet, it made its way back into the final version, which just disbarred ‘holding” the ball save for a fair catch.

Perversely, the first draft of the FA’s first rules, published in 1863, permitted similar handling. However, it was cut from the final draft after a fierce argument that led to Blackheath withdrawing from the FA and going off to be a famous rugby club. Blackheath also objected to the FA’s softness in outlawing tripping and hauling opponents to the ground.

Within a couple of years, the Sheffield rules also banned any ball-handling apart from fair catches. In 1866, the fair catch was temporarily abolished, leading to heading — another Sheffield innovation. It was restored in 1868, but the following year restricted to players within 3 yards of goal and eventually to the defender nearest the goal (1875). The following year, only a designated defender could catch the ball, and thus the goalkeeper was invented.

Before goalkeepers, the standard formation was a pack of five to eight attackers attempting to dribble, and increasingly, pass through the opposition. One would be a goal hanger as there was no offside until 1862, and after that, there just needed to be one opponent level or closer to the goal line. The FA had a stricter offside rule requiring three defenders. A full-back or two would cover the goal hanger. A half back rounded out the eleven. Another Sheffield innovation was to standardise eleven-men teams when Sheffield FC declared it would only play 11 v 11 games.


A second thing we might notice is the scramble for the ball when it went into touch. The first team to put a hand on the ball got to take the throw-in (now you know how the touchline got its name). Similar to a modern rugby line-out, the ball had to be thrown in one-handed at right angles to the touchline but had to bounce at least six yards in before it could be played.

Awarding the throw-in against the team that kicked the ball out came in 1867. The following year, the throw became a kick and could be made in any direction. It reverted to a throw but kept the in-any-direction — the compromise that settled the row that threatened to scuttle the universal adoption of the FA laws in 1877.

Narrow goals

A third thing we might notice is the odd shape of the goals — only half as wide as today’s goals but a foot higher, dimensions formalised in 1862. A further four yards from each ‘goal stick’ (yet to be rebranded as posts; the first mention of a goal post is in the 1867 rules, which also still refer to the crossbar as a tape) was what looked like a corner flag, except it would be another six years before corner kicks were invented.

Which brings us to football’s lost rouge.

Old Etonians in the bar — a group that appears to keep a low profile in rightful deference to our egalitarian tenor — will recognise the rouge from their college’s eponymous Field Game. A rouge was scored when a player from the attacking team did not score a goal but touched the ball down behind the goal-line, somewhat similar to a try in rugby.

In the Field Game, the ball could cross the line at any distance from the goal. Under Sheffield rules, it had to do so between the two rouge flags positioned 4 yards on either side of the goal. Australian ‘holics will recognise the precursors of the behind posts in Aussie rules, which in South Australia are apparently still painted red.

After a rouge was scored, the two teams lined up in front of the goal like an unjoined rugby scrum. The defenders, who started out 2 yards in front of their goal, had to dribble the ball through the opposed attacking pack into open play. If the opposition was strong, the defence could be pushed back in the scrummage through their own goal.

The short-lived 1866 amendment to the Sheffield rules banning all handling led to a rouge no longer requiring a touchdown. The ball just had to be kicked between the rouge flags below the height of the top of the goalposts. Rouges were used as a tiebreaker if the score in goals was level.

Sheffield abolished the rouge in 1868 as the FA was steadfast in its refusal to adopt it. It also adopted the FA’s standard of an eight yard-wide goal that year, even though the height remained at nine feet for another seven years, the crossbar not being lowered to eight feet until 1875.

Defensive corners

1868 also saw another innovation that the FA would adopt, corner kicks. Under Sheffield rules, if a ball went over the bar, it resulted in a ‘kick out’ by the defending team from up to 10 yards out (25 yards out up to 1861) regardless of who last touched the ball. Otherwise, what today would be given as a corner kick would result in a free kick for the attacking side from the the corner flag, but what would now be given as a goal kick would be a free kick from the corner by the defending side. Defensive corners disappeared in the 1877 unification.

At this point, we are still eleven years off our club’s founding, but the game had become recognisably football. Yet there were still two umpires on the pitch, signalling with handkerchiefs, much as American football officials still drop ‘flags’. A whistle would first be used in 1878. The umpires would not become linesmen, and the referee move onto the field of play until the by-then Royal Arsenal had been playing for three years.

The same year (1891), penalties were introduced, although pitches did not have penalty areas until 1902, by when we had been in the Football League for eight years. Goalkeepers were not restricted to handling the ball in their newly designated penalty areas until 1912. Previously they could handle the ball anywhere in their own half.

The change to that law was reputedly made to deal with Leigh Roose, a physically imposing Welshman who kept goal for Woolwich Arsenal for 13 games in the 1911-12 season. Roose would bounce the ball out from the goal to the half way line to launch attacks, unceremoniously barging over any opponent in his way.

But that’s a story for another day.

115 Drinks to “The First Rules, the Lost Rouge and the Making of The Modern Game”

  1. 1
    Pangloss says:

    An excellent post, Ned congratulations and thanks.

    I would like to share the amusing point you made during the pre-publication discussions, that Sheffield FC were opposed to the FA’s offside law because they feared it would be hard to adjudicate. Who’d a thought it, eh?

  2. 2
    scruzgooner says:

    well written and funny, and informative: i didn’t know old etonians lacked an “egalitarian tenor”. makes the barbershop quartet hard to assemble!

    i wonder if anyone, at any time of writing or revising the rules, could have envisioned the hash they’re making of VAR on offsides (etc.).

  3. 3
    TTG says:

    I’ve followed football closely for over sixty years and this is the first time I have learnt a lot of this information. I think the great joy of football is that in comparison to a lot of games eg, Rugby , it is comparatively simple with a minimum of rules . It’s evolution from an unruly mob pursuit to today’s sophisticated fare has only been interrupted by the intervention of the Crazy Gang at Wimbledon who took us back over a hundred years at times !
    Thank you for educating and informing us . I shall be dropping some of these facts into conversation with friends over the next few weeks!

  4. 4
    bathgooner says:

    A superbly crafted and highly informative piece, Ned. Quite superb!

  5. 5
    Uplympian says:

    Thanks Ned for an excellent article. You’ve put together a very readable account on how the rules of the game evolved in the late 19th century- most of which I was totally unaware of.

  6. 6
    bt8 says:

    A slice of the 19th century world when Gooners were only a semiconscious inkling beneath a twinkle in our great grandmothers’ eyes. That’s part of the great variety that makes this blog such an interesting place. Thanks Ned for a great and well researched read. Or did you remember all this stuff by heart? 😉

  7. 7
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks Ned, very enjoyable. Tinkering with the
    rules has a long tradition😁

  8. 8
    North Bank Ned says:

    Thank you, all, and for indulging my interest in Victorian social history.

    TTG@3: To your point about simplicity, the first Sheffield code had just 11 rules, one of which was Each player must provide himself with a red and dark blue flannel cap, one colour to be worn by each side. No rule was more than a sentence long. In total, they amounted to just 241 words.

  9. 9
    North Bank Ned says:

    OM@7: Indeed. And there is nothing new under the sun, seemingly. Arsene Wenger suggested at one point that throw-ins revert to being kick-ins.

  10. 10
    OsakaMatt says:

    I remember that one from AW,
    not his best I thought. Burnley et
    al. would try to nick throw-ins and
    lump the ball into our box from
    Mad Jens might have enjoyed
    barging his way upfield🤣

  11. 11
    Trev says:

    Great stuff, Ned,

    as ever you have made the seemingly mundane into a thoroughly interesting read.

    A doff of the blue or red cap to you, Sir !

    Having just picked my daughter up from her DofE Gold trek just south of Sheffield, and lunched at the antiquated but charming Grindleford station, I can well understand that none of their original rules were more than one sentence long. Great conversationists they are not. 😉

  12. 12
    Trev says:

    “ That common root was a mob game in which one team propelled a ball towards a goal by any bodily means possible,”

    Mourinho, Allardyce, Hughes and Pulis all still play it 😳

  13. 13
    Noosa Gooner says:

    Thanks NBN
    The “mob” game is still somewhat similar to Aussie Rules today which an American visitor likened to “a prison riot with a ball!”
    Or, come to think of it, to many a Leeds game in the 70’s.

  14. 14
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Ned, a fantastic post worthy of a chapter or two in what would be a most fascinating book about the history of football. If the monks so desire, of course. 🙂

    It is instructive to know that despite the ever present intent to make the rules as simple as possible — or maybe because of that intent — the controversies were there ever present too.

  15. 15
    North Bank Ned says:

    Dr F.@14: David Goldblatt beat me to it by many years with his excellent history of the game around the world, The Ball is Round. Well worth adding to your prodigious reading list.

  16. 16
    North Bank Ned says:

    Noosa@13: 🙂

  17. 17
    bathgooner says:

    An interesting Lesta perspective that suggests that the information that TTG has received may have a basis in fact:

    Arsenal £60million move opens door for Barcelona signing, exciting development!

  18. 18
    North Bank Ned says:

    Interesting link, bath. This is the money grapH:

    Arsenal must be desperate as they are preparing a full turnover of their squad and seeing James Maddison as one of five new signings. Ben White of Brighton to be added for a fee of £50million and James Maddison valued to £60million, Arteta must hit bulls eye with this or he will be out the door faster than lightening.

    £60 million for Maddison would be top of the range of fair value, by my reckoning, though there would be a bit of ‘home-grown’ premium in there. Could we do better for that money?

  19. 19
    TTG says:

    Ned/ Bath
    The quality of genuine ITK journos/ bloggers has improved immeasurably . Some take punts , others genuinely get real info. I think we need to factor in a bit of a ‘ KSE getting back onside with the fanbase premium ‘ because I was told they were going to splash the cash and it is pretty obvious that they are .
    I agree with C100 that Maddison is one of the best attacking midfielders in the country . I think we would sign Odegaard if he were available but I’m not sure he is quite the creative spark we need . But he’d be about £25 m cheaper! Grealish is the best in that role in my view and if he leaves for Citeh he will cost about £100 m. By that token the Maddison price is understandable . Leicester fans think he may have an attitude problem and certainly Southgate did .
    Very few clubs in world football can pay these sort of prices at the moment but because of our status far from getting bargains and exploiting teams’ need for cash we are being screwed. Brighton have a big £37 m loan repayable and the White sale takes care of that but they didn’t buckle on the price because they knew we were desperate and we could find the cash . I believe it is possible though I doubt my sanity that we might spend over £200 m before sales . But selling Xhaka and Guendouzi for €12 m won’t make much of a dent in that figure

  20. 20
    OsakaMatt says:

    50m looks about right in the current market for White.
    Bit cheaper than Walker and Stones from memory and
    a lot cheaper than Maguire.
    If we buy Maddison I guess he starts and I wonder what
    that means for ESR.

  21. 21
    North Bank Ned says:

    And for Pepe, OM. Arteta could fit Maddison and ESR into any of a 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2 diamond and 4-3-3, but not in a way that would leave room for Pepe.

  22. 22
    Trev says:

    Unless there are plans to convert Pepe to CF – a la Henry ?

  23. 23
    Trev says:

    Pepe, Martinelli, Balogun – with Auba and maybe Lacazette to raise money ?

    Leaves us a bit short on experience but that didn’t do us a whole lot of good last season.

    Just a thought….

  24. 24
    scruzgooner says:

    Só danço sambi
    Só danço sambi
    Vai, vai, vai, vai, vai
    Só danço sambi…

    i guess we have a new midfielder: https://www.arsenal.com/news/welcome-sambi-lokonga-joins-arsenal?fbclid=IwAR0yv5Tvs1Nraar8JiVA0HQGgOuB3YObfp2w-rc20gpRsji3B0mkz5vxl8Q

  25. 25
    North Bank Ned says:

    We do indeed, Scruz.

    I wonder where this leaves James Maddison. At £15 million, Lokonga is a much cheaper option.

  26. 26
    Uplympian says:

    Scruz, we’ll done on the tune. It’s one of my favourites going way back – Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto, I bought the original Jazz Samba album back in ‘63. The tune is now fixed in my head as I head off to play a big bowls match this evening against our local rivals.
    Sambi is a good punt at the price – he fills one of the gaps in our depleted MF area. The path is open for him if he has the skill & determination to succeed.

  27. 27
    Countryman100 says:

    Apologies for late arrival, but thank you for an entirely fascinating post, full of facts I simply wasn’t aware of. The background of the rule about handling the ball was clearly long and protracted – and many would say that they still can’t get it right! I’m also loving the idea of the ultimate sweeper keeper, Leigh Rose, bouncing the opposition off his belly until he reached the half way line!

    So thanks again. A truly original and highly entertaining contribution.

  28. 28
    TTG says:

    I think Sambi Lokonga is effectively a replacement for Ceballos . In the modern parlance he is somewhere between a 6 and an 8 . ESR and Odegaard are 10s and both could play together as we saw last season. I think Maddison is an 8 . In a 4-2-3-1 SL could take the Xhaka role , ESR could play wide left and Maddison a central role possibly not pushed as high up as ESR plays . I think we will sign two more midfielders – Neves / Locatelli and Maddison / Aouar . I think there are concerns about ESR’s durability but we have exciting attacking riches IF Auba rediscovers his goal- scoring form

  29. 29
    North Bank Ned says:

    Glad to know you enjoyed it, C100. It is worth remembering that, taking 1871, the year the Rugby Football Union was founded, as the definitive fork in the road, rugby was still the more popular game, dominant in the South and South West, South Wales, the East Midlands, the Northeast and Northwest and much of Lancashire. Football had really only got a toehold in South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire, the West Midlands and the textile mill towns on East Lancashire. Even there Widnes, Warrington and St Helens were rugby towns.

    Roose was no Fatty Foulkes. He was 1.85 metres tall and weighed 82 kilos, mostly muscle from the look of photographs of him. He was certainly a character and a half, described by his biographer as the first football superstar, with the playing style of Peter Schmeichel, the bon viveur attitude of George Best, and the media-savvy sense of David Beckham. Marie Lloyd, the music hall star, was one of his lovers. He died during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.


    I read elsewhere that Roose once knocked out an opposing forward by barging him into touch.

  30. 30
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@28: I see that Lokonga describes himself in just those terms but adds most people think his best position is as a 6. That would allow Arteta to play any or all of 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2 diamond, the 4-1-4-1 he used at times last season and the 4-3-3 he is said to be working towards. As a more direct Ceballos, more mobile Xhaka or less frenetic Elneny, Lokonga will let ESR, Saka and Maddison, if he comes, play further forward, which should create more chances for Auba.

    An interesting note about ESR’s durability. One benefit of the coming season’s enforced reduction in the number of games we’ll play is that it will offer plenty of opportunity for rest and rotation if everyone in the squad is to get playing minutes.

  31. 31
    scruzgooner says:

    ned, i think ttg nails the maddison question @28, and would love to see him replacing xhaka as you suggest @30. in fact, if that’s the way ma8 *is* considering using him, does that mean the likelihood of xhaka moving to rome is heightened? surely.

    uply, glad to set that earworm upon you. i often go round and round with that album on vinyl, it’s one of my wife’s and my favorites. i do hope your bowls match is a winner, and the other team bowls desafinado, and you get to go home vivendo o sonho…

  32. 32
    TTG says:

    Don’t worry Xhaka is definitely off. They are just haggling about price . Apparently he has agreed to waive bonuses due to him . Rome is a great city but Roma aren’t a powerhouse and he will be playing for Mourinho . He must really want to leave …or Mrs Xhaka wants to live in the Eternal City

  33. 33
    TTG says:

    I think Ned and I are of similar age and probably learnt about football at the same time. When my father taught me the positions in football around 1958 I remember the format of choice was 2-3-5. A goalkeeper , two full backs ( who hardly ever went forward ), three half-backs including the centre half who was the main defender ) and five forwards with two wingers , two inside forwards and a centre forward . The two wing-halves were numbered 4 and 6 , the two inside forwards were 8 and 10. These numbers are becoming relevant again in the light of the midfield roles nowadays .
    I remember England switching very successfully to 4-2-4 in the early 60s as two centre backs were introduced and then Ramsey produced ‘ the wingless wonders’ in 1966 which was effectively a 4-4-2. Arteta and Edu were both 8s although Edu could play further forward and our midfield alignment will be key to how we might progress next season . I think you know I’ve been very critical of the pace with which we progress the ball through midfield and we might see a diamond employed in some matches . It will be great to improve on midfield quality next season

  34. 34
    scruzgooner says:

    ttg@32, i can imagine mrs. xhaka wants to live in the eternal city. being married to one who grew up in that enchanted land, she’s always pining to return (and no, not to the fjords!). it could even outweigh her husband’s aversion to working for the moaningho.

    i really do hope you’re right. if sambi can get us moving more quickly and ben white can take the luiz position and spray passes from deep, our movement foreward should improve greatly.

  35. 35
    TTG says:

    A tweet from a previously reliable source
    Indications are showing Arsenal should reach a personal agreement with Maddison soon. 🔴

    Arsenal offered the player a strong package in which will see him earn nearly double what he is currently earning at Leicester.

    Expect serious movement over the next couple weeks⏳👀…

  36. 36
    OsakaMatt says:

    Welcome Albert, recommended by Kompany apparently.
    I hope we hardball Roma just enough to get a good price
    but not so much they flounce off😉

  37. 37
    North Bank Ned says:

    I understand Maddison is on £110,000 a week at Leicester, so if we are going to nearly double that, we’d better shift Laca double quick to free up some wages budget.

    Scruz@31: He does.

    Our first XI for next season seems to be shaping up as
    Chambers/Bellerin replacement, White, Gabriel, Tierney
    Partey, Maddison, Lokonga
    Saka, Auba, ESR

    Bench: Okonkwo, Holding, Tavares, AMN/Elneny/Willock, Pepe, Martinelli, Willian/Laca/Balogun

    TTG@32: ‘similar’ might cover a multitude of sins…

  38. 38
    bt8 says:

    We’ve been lacking an Albert but his shirt will say Sambi 23, as I read. Welcome young man and do the business please.

  39. 39
    bt8 says:

    This Maddison thing seems to have legs. The story, not the player although he seems to have them too.

    He seems a very good player, and one of the bonuses of signing him would be to deprive Leicester, one of our direct rivals, of his services. A twofer, as it were, or could be to be more accurate.

  40. 40
    bt8 says:

    The arrival of young James could make a considerable difference in quickening our passage through the avenues of attack.

    Only a bit more than three weeks to get this balance right before the new season begins.

  41. 41
    TTG says:

    I’m not sure SL as I will call him will start regularly next season . I think he will be a back up to Partey and the new 8 we bring in . Unless of course he shows superb form in pre-season

  42. 42
    bath gooner says:

    A timely health warning from our friends at She Wore. It’s a bit depressing, in truth…

    Socios deal not all what it seems and could lead to financial ruin for Arsenal fans

  43. 43
    Bathgooner says:

    More information here. The Atletico Madrid experience is salutary.

  44. 44
    Bathgooner says:

    “Suck ’em in, then spit ’em out!” might be a more honest strapline.

  45. 45
    Dorset Mick says:

    I read that Danny Mills thinks that Ben White is “better than Arsenal”.

    This from a cloddish, second-rate tosser that managed to amass a total of one league cup medal in a mediocre career.

  46. 46
    scruzgooner says:

    mick, this is what one does to tossers like mills: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhR-WnafzoE

  47. 47
    bt8 says:

    Arseblog report: “Despite some reports that the Italian side had asked to withdraw from the friendly tournament because of concerns over the spread of Covid-19 in the sunshine state, it appears they will be making the trip and the game will go ahead at the Mickey Mouse Arena on Sunday.”

    Good news all in all, giving us a more serious test than Millionarios de Bogota, and we can hope it will not be such a Mickey Mouse game as the stadium’s name.

    Danny Mills on the other hand is pure and unadulterated Mickey Mouse.

  48. 48
    Dorset Mick says:

    Yes, Scruzgooner, that showed him alright.
    Wish we had someone like Henry now. Maybe we’ll all have to learn these moves soon:

  49. 49
    bt8 says:

    Th Italian side in question being Inter of course as it was originally scheduled

  50. 50
    scruzgooner says:

    mick, i daresay jimmy is probably a bit lighter on his feet than those kids back in ’60. but, yes. 🙂

  51. 51
    Silly Second Yella says:

    Lokonga was born just one day (maybe 10-15 hours) before ThaT Kanuuuu het trick at the bridge.

  52. 52
    TTG says:

    Tour to Florida off as we have a number of asymptomatic COVID cases

  53. 53
    bt8 says:

    I just saw the Florida tour is off. It hurts us in the pocketbook more than anything else I suppose but caution is the best policy in a pandemic

  54. 54
    North Bank Ned says:

    Caution in abundance is certainly the right policy. This from the Tampa Bay Times:

    Florida leads nation in coronavirus infections in 2020-like surge


  55. 55
    North Bank Ned says:

    Scruz@50: Well in for the half-ton

    The Madison looks slow enough for Xhaka.

  56. 56
    scruzgooner says:

    cheers, ned. i wasn’t even trying. love it when that happens.

    and yeah, especially when they’re going backwards and sideways. always in circles around the same place.

    the tragedy about the tour being cancelled is i know two dozen people who have hotels, flights, etc., and are now stuck going with no tourney to watch. in florida. in summer. with covid delta rampant. ugh.

  57. 57
    OsakaMatt says:

    That’s a real shame scruz and I hope your friends will get back safely.

  58. 58
    scruzgooner says:

    cheers, matt. not many have left, and now i’m he learning many will go to spend time with other gooners in celebration. not sure i would, because covid, but lemonade out of lemons, etc.

  59. 59
    North Bank Ned says:

    Scruz@56: That’s a twofer you wouldn’t wish on anybody.

  60. 60
    scruzgooner says:

    which, ned? florida in summer plus covid, or xhaka going backwards and sideways?

  61. 61
    North Bank Ned says:

    That is a twofer of twofers, Scruz.

  62. 62
    bt8 says:

    Lots of stories today about the possibility of Tammy Abraham coming to Arsenal. Did I miss something or wasn’t Abraham doing well with the Blues?

  63. 63
    Countryman100 says:

    My next door neighbour is a Chelsea fan. He can’t stand Abraham and says he misses too many chances. I pointed out he’s had two 20 goal seasons but he’s not having it. I think he’s barely played since Tuchel arrived? I wouldn’t mind having another 20 goal a year striker.

  64. 64
    Silly Second Yella says:

    There’s only one Tammy!

  65. 65
    TTG says:

    Abraham is a Gooner ! He has been an Arsenal fan since he was a boy .
    My concern is that this will restrict Balogun’s chances and we may see him going on loan. Otherwise it’s cheerio Laca ! I think it is a deal that has a high likelihood of completion but I very much hope it doesn’t go ahead . He’s not a natural finisher . The high goal totals are largely because he plays in a very good team who set him up but I think he punches below his weight
    But it does show KSE are flinging money around

  66. 66
    TTG says:

    If we have up to £40 m for a striker let’s try to sign the Boy Toney at Brentford . He will be playing for England next season . I’m sensing because we are spending a lot of clubs are dumping cast-offs on us

  67. 67
    scruzgooner says:

    willian and luiz didn’t convince you of that, ttg?

    no thanks on tammy abraham. yes, please, to toney. problem is, he’s on a 5-year deal, so i can’t see getting him for less, say, than ben white.

  68. 68
    Silly Second Yella says:

    Cretin Gallas and stupid Lassana

    Fuck *helsea!

  69. 69
    North Bank Ned says:

    Fair value for Tammy Abraham would be around £35 million.

    I don’t think he has ever had a 20-goal season in the PL — 26 PL goals in 89 games across four seasons.

    If Chelsea lands Haarland, he probably won’t get much of a chance to score another one.

  70. 70
    North Bank Ned says:

    The men’s first XI needs a striker as prolific as Vivianne Miedema — four goals in the Netherlands’ Olympic Games opener against Zambia.

  71. 71
    TTG says:

    Abraham is a goal every three games striker . Useful but not a goal machine . He’s a class below the best . Let’s see what Balogun and Martinelli can do

  72. 72
    scruzgooner says:

    i want to see balogun and martinelli. screw abraham.

  73. 73
    Dorset Mick says:

    If your friend is right about Abraham missing too many chances he would fit right in!

  74. 74
    bt8 says:

    Today we see a possible motivation for yesterday’s stories positing Tammy Abraham to Arsenal:

    As reported by BBC:
    “Chelsea have spoken to the agent of Bayern Munich and Poland striker Robert Lewandowski, 32, about a possible move to Stamford Bridge.” (Bild, via Sun)

  75. 75
    bt8 says:

    A couple of other provocative transfer rumours re-reported by the BBC today include Timo Werner being open to a move back to the Bundesliga, and Rubén Neves being more likely to sign with Manchester United than Arsenal

  76. 76
  77. 77
    Countryman100 says:

    Truly excellent news Scruz.

  78. 78
    North Bank Ned says:

    Excellent news on ESR. The realist in me notes that plenty of players move clubs after extending their contracts, but giving him the No 10 shirt suggests he will be wearing it for some time.

  79. 79
    scruzgooner says:

    as i’ve said elsewhere, let’s hope he wears it like dennis, rather than late-period özil.

  80. 80
    bt8 says:

    Really couldn’t add a thing to what MA8 had to say about ESR10’s new contract:

    Mikel Arteta said: “As we all saw last season, Emile is an intelligent player with excellent ability. His sharpness on the turn and exceptional vision have already made him a key player for us. His attitude and willingness to learn have also been very impressive. Huge credit to our team in our academy who have given Emile a great education and have worked superbly to help with his development through the age groups.

    “Along with the first-team staff, huge credit also goes to our senior players, who have played such an important role to help Emile develop, gain confidence and perform the way he did last season. I know the fans will join us in being delighted that Emile has committed his future to the club. We’re now looking forward to helping him develop further and seeing him become even more important to the strong young team we’re building.”

    Maybe one thing. 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

  81. 81
    TTG says:

    I know there is a maxim that it’s not official until it’s on Arsenal.com but ESR leaving really was a non-story and showed the tabloid media at its most mischievous . If you look at where most of the stories about Villa’s interest came from it was Birmingham Live, a Brummie website trying to get hits from excited Villa fans .
    Layth Yousif assured me with great certainty that Arteta had confirmed Emile was staying . The interesting thing now is that the best ITK journos are spot on and there a few mysterious figures who seem to have privileged access to info . Big transfers like Ozil, Sanchez and Partey were confidently predicted and the jungle drums strongly suggest Maddison is going to sign . That story will develop in the next week or so because if we make a big signing integral to the team we need him up and running for a difficult start to the season . The big issue with Maddison will be his injury record . The lad has had some nasty injuries…but I’m a fan

  82. 82
    Dorset Mick says:

    We’ll offer them 50p for Jack Grealish now!
    Cheeky fuckers.

  83. 83
    bt8 says:

    Just checked Sky’s story about ESR’s contract extension, and the last sentence repeats nearly verbatim what Scruz said above at 76. His admirers are growing.

  84. 84
    TTG says:

    Following your article on the Holics’ Ropey League , did I understand that you would repeat the excellent set-up job you did last year ? I think we agreed that we would insist on one Arsenal player in the squad at all times and no Spuds ( Kane will be at Manchester
    City anyway 😃)

  85. 85
    scruzgooner says:

    bt8, didn’t i tell you, i secretly write for sky. only last lines, though 🙂

  86. 86
    Silly Second Yella says:

    10 on your back

    like DB

    oh man

  87. 87
    Tapera Doma says:

    To those in the know.
    Out of curiosity what does ESR’s new contract pay him a week? & what does Saka’s contract pay him a week?

  88. 88
    bathgooner says:

    TD@87, frankly, I couldn’t give a damn. They’re worth every penny they earn in stark contrast to a certain portly Brazilian gentleman I could name on whom we are wasting £100k + per week and after having wasted a king’s ransom on several years of an unproductive former German international.

  89. 89
    North Bank Ned says:

    Unreliable sources say that Saka is now on £70,000 a week and I would imagine that ESR is on around the same, perhaps a tad less as Saka earned more than him under their old contracts.

  90. 90
    bt8 says:

    Saka turns 20 on the 5th of September so we only get a few more games with him as our teenage wonder. Since January 2019 He has made 59 senior appearances, always looking like one of our best players. His contract was extended for four years in Summer 2020 when MA8 said this about him: “I think he represents every value that this football club stands for. He has come through the academy, and earned his respect with hard work and accountability and you can see the progression that he is having as a player but as well as a person.” Based on his performances since then I would think his should be at least a level or two higher than ESR whose 22 senior appearances have been almost all since last Boxing Day as I recall. Maybe Saka is in line for another rise? If so it seems smart to get it done while he is still a teenager.

  91. 91
    OsakaMatt says:

    Good news on ESR😁
    With Ben White to come, we still
    need a couple more outfield and
    a back up keeper. Ramsdale seems
    expensive but he’s still young enough
    to have good sell on value if he can’t
    displace Leno.

  92. 92
    Countryman100 says:

    Lovely piece on the Hale End academy and why their is more to come, by the always reliable Charles Watts.


  93. 93
    Countryman100 says:

    Or even there.

  94. 94
    Countryman100 says:

    Interesting. Although TTG is increasingly convinced that Maddison is coming to Arsenal, David Ornstein is not convinced. Taken from an Athletic article.

    James Maddison
    Club: Leicester
    Suitors: TBD
    Arsenal have been heavily linked with a move for Maddison but although there is an appreciation of the 24-year-old at the Emirates, the club are not believed to be actively pursuing a deal at present.
    Maddison has three years left on a £110,000-a-week deal and Manchester United are among a host of top European clubs who have shown an interest in the player in the past couple of years.

  95. 95
    TTG says:

    Who am I to doubt the Ornacle ? He rarely speaks without clear authority from the Club . So for Maddison likers this is not a good sign BUT several well- connected sources believe that his agent is strongly pressing for a move . If you believe in the KSE charm offensive money no object it might happen. Ornstein thinks we believe the cost is too high . If Odegaard is in play I’d feel Maddison won’t happen but in the soap opera that is life at Real Madrid the situation changes daily .

  96. 96
    bt8 says:

    Very interesting link at 92, Countryman. One of the things that struck me is the “talent ID” department that has replaced scouting. I imagine this reflects the trend is all across the game, a recognition that watching videos and doing statististical analysis are two corners of a solid talent ID foundation. We seems to be doing well in those, but in view of our recent scouting department personnel clear out I’m not sure about the other main two I can think of: scouting and relationships with player agents.

  97. 97
    Countryman100 says:

    TTG. Even though we worship at the shrine of St Ornstein he doesn’t always get it right. He confidently predicted that Pepe would not be joining us for example. The honest truth is that I want Maddison at our club so badly that I am trying very hard to lower my expectations.

  98. 98
    North Bank Ned says:

    Perhaps Maddison has taken the hump now ESR has got the coveted 10 shirt. The four and the eight are the only single-digit numbers available. After that, nothing until 18, though Torriera might vacate the 11.

  99. 99
    bt8 says:

    Podolski’s last year Polish return


  100. 100
    TTG says:


  101. 101
    bathgooner says:

    Well in TTG.

    We aren’t simply twiddling our thumbs today:

    Arsenal to play behind-closed-doors friendly against Millwall

    I trust also that the time saved from two transatlantic flights has been used fruitfully on the training ground.

  102. 102
    North Bank Ned says:

    Well in for the ton, TTG.

  103. 103
    Countryman100 says:

  104. 104
    North Bank Ned says:

    It looks as if you can watch the full 90 mins on the club site.

  105. 105
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks for the link bt8, it’s a nice
    ending for Podolski.

  106. 106
    TTG says:

    Didn’t like the look of Lokonga . Quick, progressive passing , intelligent movement and no sideways passing is not the way we like our holding midfielders to perform.
    Tavares is a very positive player. Not sure if he can defend but he can certainly attack.Was impressed with Partey , Chambers and Lacazette. Balogun looked very sharp when he came on.
    The boy Okonkwo has great reflexes but looks very nervous with the ball at his feet . Only danger ( and the goal conceded) came from high balls into the box . Useful workout against pretty basic opposition

  107. 107
    North Bank Ned says:

    Decent run out against Millwall. MA has clearly had the squad working on pressing and getting more men into the box. Still more work to be done on defending corners and crosses, though. Final score was 4-1 with a sloppy goal being conceded right at the end.

    Starting team was Okonkwo, Chambers, Holding, Mari, Tierney, Partey, Elneny, Pepe, ESR, Nketiah, Auba. Hein, Cedric, Tavares, Lokonga, AMN, Nelson, Laca, Willian and Balogun came on at some point for the second half.

    KT3 looked sharp. Partey bossed the midfield in the first half. Lokonga looks as if he has plenty of good forward passes in him, and broke up a couple of attacks nicely. Laca looked hungry. ESR was in and out the game but made some good runs into the box when he was in. Okonkwo pulled off one terrific save but almost made another error (though he did get a foul for being impeded). Nketiah fluffed a couple of chances, but Balogun scored his. Auba still looks off the pace and I am not sure at all about his new hairstyle.

  108. 108
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@106: 🙂
    Lokonga is certainly no Xhaka.

  109. 109
    OsakaMatt says:

    Great win from the Lions, tense stuff at the end.

  110. 110
    TTG says:

    It was a great win but I’ve watched two different sports today with VAR moments .
    In the Hockey it took FOUR AND A HALF MINUTES to decide whether a corner decision ! In the end the Video Referee said he couldn’t tell !
    In the Rugby I thought the angles on the disallowed Springbok try were wrong and it wasn’t offside ( Nigel Owens agreed with me ) . I’m not convinced interminable , unclear video replays do a great deal to enhance our enjoyment of sport . The Euros were much better in that respect
    My article on pre- season is with Scruz . I didn’t include today’s match

  111. 111
    bathgooner says:

    Nice highlights from today’s game are here:

    Shocking set piece defending continues apace.

  112. 112
    Bathgooner says:


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