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On Wednesday 25th August 2021, the mighty Arsenal will play the first of a greatly reduced number of midweek fixtures for this season. No more Champions League, no more Europa League and, thank goodness, we weren’t quite good enough last season to qualify for the newly formed Europa Conference League. This is a competition sponsored by UEFA, where the prize goes to the club who manages to outfox Google Maps, Waze, Tom Tom et al, and declare itself “unlocatable” by the premier satellite navigation systems across Europe. Some early favourites are surely FK Čukarički, FK Žalgiris, KF Shkupi, HB Tórshavn and our very own minnows Tottenham Hotspur, who many have heard of but nobody wants to find them anyway.

No, we find ourselves facing West Bromwich Albion in the second round of the Carabao Cup. Many Arsenal fans will be surprised to discover that there actually is a second round of the League (Carabao) Cup – we have had loftier ambitions for the last quarter of a century. I am willing to bet there is at least one denizen of this bar who can tell us the last time we were obliged to turn up for such a fixture, but he has more monks at his disposal than I do and I am too depressed to want to find out. 

West Bromwich Albion (hereinafter referred to as WBA) was founded in the West Midlands in 1878 and has played at the same ground, The Hawthorns, since 1900. For a club with such strong domestic roots, and having most recently employed Fat Sam Allardyce, it’s perhaps surprising to find them being managed by the exotically named Valérian Ismaël, a 45 year old French-German coach from Strasbourg, some details he shares with one of our own previous managers you might remember. Ismaël was a 6’3” centre back – now hang on a minute…. ah, ok, they both were !

WBA have had a bit of a thing for Arsenal defenders in recent times, especially it seems those named at least equally flamboyantly as their current manager. Oluwasemilogo Adesewo Ibidapo Ajayi spent his youth career at Charlton Athletic and arrived at the Arsenal in 2013, via Dartford. He moved on in 2015 having not made a senior appearance, and despite having played for the Nigeria U20 and Senior teams, arrived at WBA in 2019 via Cardiff, AFC Wimbledon, Crewe and Rotherham. Dads, if your sons want to be footballers, just tell them how tough this game is, eh? Kieran James Ricardo Gibbs of course played 137 times for the Arsenal, prior to 93 appearances for WBA between 2017-2021. He has now moved on to Inter Miami in the MLS. And Kyle Louis Bartley, who played in the same Arsenal youth team as Jack Andrew Garry Wilshere and his centre back partner, Luke David Ayling (much too boring), also left Arsenal without a senior appearance in 2012 and took the Rangers, Swansea, Birmingham, Leeds route to West Brom, arriving in 2018. He has played for them 98 times now but Dads, please see Ajayi above.

The Baggies history dates back to 1878. Like the Arsenal of Dial Square, they were founded as a works team from Salter’s Spring Works and the club was renamed to WBA in 1880. They were founder members of the Football League in 1888. Despite five wins in the FA Cup, they have only won the League Cup once, at their first attempt in 1966. But they weren’t always the Baggies, regardless of the picture at the top of the post. Until the 1980s their official nickname was The Throstles, but it then changed to the Baggies which had anyway been in common use for some years. A throstle is an old fashioned name for a song thrush which looks like it is the bird featured on the club badge. It’s amazing that this sort of information comes to you free of charge !

This time we play in the Midlands, which will preclude a repeat of the recent misunderstanding experienced by a Baggies fan, oddly in a fancy dress shop in London. Having decided to attend the game dressed as a 70s hippy, the fella asked the shop assistant for -“some of those flared trowsers and a noice purr of platfoam shoes, a tank top and a luvlay flowry shurrt with a big rownded collar.”“Certainly, Sir”, replied the assistant, “and would you like a nice kipper tie ?”“Ooh, that’d be luvlay – with milk and two sugars, please ! “

WBA currently sit joint top of the Championship, their goal difference is actually inferior to Fulham by one, with 10 points from their opening 4 games. This promises to be no pushover.

Arsenal Team News
Sunday: The question, I suppose, is will Arteta use these League Cup fixtures to give some young squad players first team experience, or play his strongest eleven in any game that potentially could hand us a pass back into Europe. Those decisions will be influenced by the injury and COVID situations, which makes guessing a lineup very difficult.

Monday: Ok, so decision made! After the feeble loss to Chelsea on Sunday, this fixture is now a must win. Anything else will result in huge pressure on Arteta, with a trip to the Etihad looming on Saturday. The manager must surely go with the strongest available XI to try and get a win and some semblance of confidence back in the team.

However, I think we might well see a start for Aaron Ramsdale, who is back from Juventus, albeit this time as a goalkeeper. Despite a lot of negativity from some fans around this signing, he has earned great reviews from fans of his recent clubs, he fits the new player profile, and as an Arsenal player should have our full support.

Right Back seems to have become a discussion point and as we have four of them there is plenty to talk about. I don’t know why Chambers was dropped for Cedric on Sunday but I will be surprised if he is not recalled for this one.

Partey, Gabriel and Nketiah are still out injured, while Lacazette and Willian are ruled out with COVID. Martinelli and Tierney are apparently ok and Odegaard now has a valid visa and is available to start. I could see Lakonga rested as he acclimatises to the physical demands of English football, but he looks a very good prospect.

So as tradition demands I take a guess at the team, I can say with absolutely no certainty that we will see: 


Chambers, Holding, White, Tierney;

Elneny, Xhaka (😱), ESR; 

Saka, Aubameyang, Pepe.

It’s not exactly what I would like but knowing Arteta’s cautious nature, I think Odegaard will probably come on as sub in this one.

The Holic Pound
Despite WBA’s strong start to their Championship season, we find ourselves favourites to win this one – what have they been watching?! If you hunt around you can get 14/5 on WBA to win, 13/5 on the draw, or a miserly (I think – don’t really get betting!) 19/20 on an Arsenal win. If you like those “spread bet thingies”, Paddy Power are offering, and I quote – 1pt Arsenal to score Over 1.5 Goals in 90 minutes at 11/10. No, I don’t know – that’s just what it says !

Kick off is at 20:00 hrs, UK time – coverage on Sky Sports Football.
Referee is David Webb to whom I apologise for never having heard of him. Can’t be any worse, right ?

Enjoy the game, Holics !

83 Drinks to “They Weren’t Always The Baggies, You Know …..”

  1. 1
    Steve T says:


  2. 2
    Steve T says:

    Cheers Trev.

    The last time I went to The Hawthorns was for an evening game. We stopped off at a local pub for some light refreshment. I ordered a roast pork baguette. 10 minutes later the said baguette arrived, absolutely swimming in gravy. Neanderthal to the core.

    2 nil to the good guys. If not, then I Webby and the boys.

  3. 3
    North Bank Ned says:

    Excellent, Trev. Your kipper tie joke never fails to raise a smile.

    The monks don’t even get out of bed for a question like that, btw. Hartlepool, 1995. We won 8-0 on aggregate. Our first ever League Cup game, Gillingham, 1966, was a second-round tie, since you didn’t ask. :).

  4. 4
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Excellent preview Trev!

    I like your team but I would probably give Saka a rest and start Ødegaard instead, with ESR in the left inside-forward role. And in the weekend drop Nico and play Saka instead.

    Any win will do. In 90 minutes.

  5. 5
    TTG says:

    Fun preview Trev thanks with lots of info as well. When I enter Mastermind I will take the history of WBA as my specialist subject . One thing you shamefully omitted was that the Hawthorns is the highest English league ground above sea level .
    We need to take this competition seriously and I think we can play a couple of youngsters alongside a core of experienced players . I think he will give Odegaard a start and Auba and Saka need the game time . No point in playing anyone likely to be off . We have a couple of young tyros like Azeez and Hutchinson who we should bring along for the experience
    We beat them 4-0 in the snow at New Year and played them off the park. I think we will win 2-1 with Auba and Martinelli scoring

  6. 6
    OsakaMatt says:

    I hope the match is as enjoyable as the preview, thanks Trev.
    I also hope to see two or three youngsters at some point, although there’s a good argument to be made for getting minutes into some of the first team players too.
    Expect to see Ramsdale in goal and good luck to him on his debut. Perhaps Tavares too if he is fit.
    Calum, Ben, Mari, Nuno
    Elneny, Lokonga
    Pépé, Odegaard, Martinelli

    If we aren’t going to give players like Balogun and Tavares a run in games like this then they will never play this season.

  7. 7
    North Bank Ned says:

    Dr F@4: We’d better win in 90 mins. It is straight to penalties if the scores are level after then. No extra time until the semi-finals.

  8. 8
    bt8 says:

    Hey Trev, Thanks for such an entertaining and informative preview including that priceless picture. Just wondering, will WBA be suiting up in their baggy pantaloons any time soon, and if not, why not?

  9. 9
    bt8 says:

    What Steve T. said @1. RIP Charlie Watts who always seemed like the grown up amongst teenagers.

  10. 10
    bt8 says:

    Is The Hawthorns the new Mile High Stadium? Hardly. Its elevation is listed by Wiki at 168 metres, just to save TTG the effort of looking up the exact figure. Not the highest of heights but certainly worth taking note of.

  11. 11
    Uplympian says:

    Many thanks Trev for a most entertaining & informative preview. It’s a game we really want to win as we have no other midweek games to keep us interested in. It’s also about time we got our hands on this trophy – unlike the FA cup, our name has been missing for far too long.
    I expect Arteta to select a strong team – no reason at all not too. A simple win will do us all some good. COYG

  12. 12
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Ned@7: I guess we won’t have a chance for a 7-5 comeback win in the extra time from 4-0 down at half-time. 🙂

    Arsène never won the League cup, but his second (or often third) string has given us some “memorable” matches in this competition … 🙂 My favorite is probably Julio “The Beast” Baptista’s four away at Anfield.

  13. 13
    OsakaMatt says:

    It seems the PL clubs won’t be
    releasing players for international
    matches due to be played in
    countries on the UK red list.
    FIFA may whine & fine I suppose but it
    seems fair to me in the short-term.

  14. 14
    OsakaMatt says:

    Mine has to be the 3-1 2nd leg semi-
    final win against Everton. In 1988, so a
    bit before your time I guess Dr F 😀
    Highbury was electric that night
    though, hair tingling stuff.

  15. 15
    North Bank Ned says:

    Given that FIFA is getting $200 million from the US Department of Justice, money seized during the Blatter-era corruption investigation, they might just wine and not fine, OM.

  16. 16
    OsakaMatt says:

    $200 million is a very nice Bordeaux indeed Ned, the vineyard even 😃

  17. 17
    ClockEndRider says:

    Surprised that their ground is the highest in the land. I once went to the old Stoke ground which if memory serves was right on top of a hill. My word that was exposed and cold. Bloody awful place too. Met the definition of the old Northern comedians joke – “ I went to *insert name of godforsaken town here* once. It was shut”.
    Watched part of a WBA game earlier this season. They played just like Stoke, with a bit more footballing ability – team made up of circus freaks and failed rugby league players, long throws hurled into the box seemingly from anywhere in the opponents half. Scored at least a couple via this antediluvian method.
    Oh dear.

  18. 18
    Countryman100 says:

    Excellent and well researched preview Trev. I’ve always enjoyed the league cup and an opportunity to see the youngsters trot out but this time I want to see the best team selected. That won’t include White for COVID reasons. If there is any doubt over KT3, who went off with a thigh injury on Sunday, then Tavares, who looked lively as replacement, could start.

  19. 19
    Bathgooner says:

    Thanks for an entertaining and informative piece, Trev. A most enjoyable read.

    I’ve been to the Hawthorns once – that final game in May 2012 when we had to win to gain fourth place over the Spudz that was also Roy Hodgson’s last game in charge. I was taken by a patient who had survived a nasty disease and was a lifelong Baggie fan. It was a great day out and it struck me as an extremely well run family-orientated club.

    My host took me to the club restaurant and then to an area reserved for fans who wish to entertain visiting fans where my daughter and I were made very welcome not least by the sadly now late, great Cyrille Regis and the great Brendon Batson who were sitting behind us. The game was a roller coaster of emotions and after taking an early lead through Yossi Benayoun, we lost two goals to the delight of those around us. Although we equalised through Andre Santos before half time and took the lead early in the second half through Laurent Koscielny I remember us hanging on for dear life and surviving several near things. We had athletes like Carl Jenkinson, Andre Santos, Alex Song and Francis Coquelin in the team. The quality was provided by Tomas Rosicky, Robin van Perse and Yossi Benayoun. Gervinho was also on the field.

    AW could make bricks out of straw, I tell you. We were blessed. No wonder there’s dissatisfaction now.

    Trev, your team is close but I think we may see Mari for White (Covid), Odegaard (for match fitness) for ESR, Riess-Nelson for Saka (knackered).

    I hope we can match that 2012 result without the rollercoaster.

  20. 20
    Countryman100 says:

    Very sad interview between Jack Wilshere and David Ornstein in The Athletic (££). This journal has top Arsenal writers and stories and is worth thinking about a subscription. https://theathletic.com/2787009/2021/08/25/my-son-says-to-me-how-come-no-club-wants-you-how-do-i-explain-that-to-him-jack-wilshere-on-his-struggles-arsenal-and-his-future/

  21. 21
    Trev says:

    Good morning and many thanks for all your kind words.

    I thought a bit of levity might be the order of the day – not that I really do anything else !

    Some nice stories in the drinks too. I wouldn’t disagree with any of the suggested changes to my guess at the team either. All valid and all perfectly possible. I had read Ben White may be available for the weekend and so erroneously included him in my selection. Clearly we will not be all White on the night.

  22. 22
    Trev says:

    That is sad indeed, Countryman.

    Looks like a required read. JW looked the pick of many promising players in his successful youth team. Such a shame we never consistently saw the player who ran a game against Barcelona in their pomp.

  23. 23
    North Bank Ned says:

    OM@16: 🙂 Did not mean to drop my aitches. A glass of the finest claret on the bar for you.

  24. 24
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Countryman@20: Was just reading that. Heartbreaking actually when he talks about the feelings of running and practicing just by himself, and his son being taunted at school. Unbelievable to think that a fit Jack cannot find a club at 29. Maybe there’s a reputation of being injury prone etc. but even then I would think that some PL clubs can benefit from a technical player like that if not starting coming on as a sub. Maybe MLS would give him a career reboot.

    Bath@19: I think it was in that sequence of 2-3 consecutive seasons where Laurent scored these final day CL spot confirming goals. Remarkable really that we played with Carl and Santos as two fullbacks and won matches. 😂 Songy at that stage actually was good with those nice through passes and lofted balls pinging to RVP or Theo. He probably used to make more line-breaking passes in a match then than what Granit does in 10 games. Beanayoun had a good season for us on loan from Chelsea, scoring a few key goals. I remember when he celebrated that 5-3 win away at Chelsea — watching on from the stadium as he couldn’t be in the match day squad — he got a lot of abuse from the Chelsea fans on social media and he posted something like “a footballer always celebrates with his teammates and if you don’t understand that then I can’t help you” or something like that.

  25. 25
    OsakaMatt says:

    Cheers Ned 🍷😉

  26. 26
    Trev says:

    Gossip was great for the time he was here. A real 100%er – loved for it by the fans very quickly.

  27. 27
    Tapera Doma says:

    Off topic.
    Transfers, transfers: With Kane staying put @ Spurs will we see dominos start to fall – us selling Auba to City for a good sum of money, then us buying someone? Calvert-Lewin??
    If only Kane had made this decision before Abraham signed with Roma. I see Haaland going off to City next summer. With Kane staying put, surely Chelsea are favorites to be league champions.

  28. 28
    North Bank Ned says:

    Changes rung:

    Tavares, Chambers, Holding, Kolasinac
    Elneny, Xhaka
    Odegaard, Saka, Pepe

    Bench: Leno, Mari, Maitland-Niles, Lokonga, Smith Rowe, Martinelli, Lacazette

  29. 29
    Steve T says:

    Whenever you see the team announced and it shows the central midfield of Xhaka and Elneny, you just have to ask, how has that been allowed to happen? How have we got to a stage where that is actually a thing????

    Still 2 nil to the non gravy bread soakers.

  30. 30
    TTG says:

    That looks like a team of people staying with the club…….Kolasinac? I warned you not to expect Fenerbache to ante up . Surely AMN would be better in one of the full-back roles ? I like the front four but thought Balogun might make the bench

  31. 31
    North Bank Ned says:

    TD@27: Kane staying at the unsavoury end of the Seven Sisters Road certainly boosts Chelsea’s title hopes, which are pretty good already. However, if Pep was ready to spend the sort of money that was being talked about for Kane, I suspect he will be shopping at way above Auba’s price tag. Of course, if he offers £150 million for our captain, we should consider it. 🙂

  32. 32
    Steve T says:

    Breaking news……

  33. 33
    ClockEndRider says:

    The right team to play a physical, lump it up team with two big full backs.

  34. 34
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Why are we starting with two left backs? When we have AMN who can play well enough at RB? We will still have Kolasinac in the squad? Will Ainsley be loaned out?

  35. 35
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Anyway, let’s go Arsenal!

  36. 36
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@30: Teams can name only seven subs in the League Cup, as opposed to nine in the PL so no room on the bench for Balogun if Laca and Martinelli are there.

  37. 37
    ClockEndRider says:

    Dr F,
    We will need Kola to supplement the 2 centre halves as they will lump it up.

  38. 38
    TTG says:

    The Baggies make eleven changes and give five debuts. So I hope Xhakelneny dominate the midfield . And we build some confidence

  39. 39
    ClockEndRider says:

    Looks like WBA have changed the team massively. We really ought to win this now.

  40. 40
    Bathgooner says:

    Astonishing selection! From a squad with 4 ‘RBs’ we start a LB at RB and a player who is supposed to be sunning himself on the Bosporus at LB. Meanwhile the dynamic duo in midfield that most of us hoped never to see again is called forward to help us win our first game of this season.

    However oodles of creativity in the trio behind the captain. If he can’t get on the end of something from those three, he’s finished.

    Up against a bunch of championship scrappers we have to show more heart than we’ve exhibited hitherto this season.

  41. 41
    North Bank Ned says:

    Dr F@34: My 2-cents is that Tavares is auditioning to be Hector’s successor.

    If only AMN had followed Lauren’s example and listened to his manager when told his future was at right-back not in midfield…

  42. 42
    Doctor Faustus says:

    CER@37: I hear you. But even though Kola is built like a tank, he is actually a very ordinary header of the ball.
    Mikel is really starting to be confusing…

  43. 43
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Ned@41: Thanks, that probably is the only meaningful explanation.

    I really hope Ainsley gets a chance once more to prove his qualities as a full back. Whatever his flaws are — lack of concentration primarily — he has such technical qualities on the ball and this entire team is crying out for more of that.

  44. 44
    North Bank Ned says:

    Torreira’s loan to Fiorentina for the season is confirmed.

  45. 45
    Bathgooner says:

    AMN’s refusal to play FB despite failing every audition in MF is perplexing and an indication of stubborness that will almost certainly blight his career. A pity. However life is determined by our decisions.

    Tavares playing RB is either an indication of his versatility or Arteta telling the noard that they have to buy him a RB in the last week of this window, or both!

  46. 46
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Bath@45: I wonder about the personal support system around him and maybe lack of good advices.

  47. 47
    bt8 says:

    Auntie Beeb reports: 2′
    Quevin De Castro (West Bromwich Albion) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

    -no word so far on the meaning of bad.

  48. 48
    bt8 says:

    … or on the meaning of Quevin for that matter.

  49. 49
    bt8 says:


    Goal! West Bromwich Albion 0, Arsenal 1. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) left footed shot from very close range to the centre of the goal.

  50. 50
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Disjointed so far. Good work by Saka for the goal.

  51. 51
    ecg says:

    Best goal of the season!

  52. 52
    bt8 says:

    The meaning of that seems relatively straightforward though. Hoping the straightforward part continues.

  53. 53
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Bt8: match is on ESPN+.

  54. 54
    bt8 says:

    Re: ecg. Ya think so?

  55. 55
    bt8 says:

    Dr. F. Tree cutting machinery next door is so loud I have fled to the coffee shop where espn+ is somebody’s idea of a complicated espresso drink but thanks anyway!

  56. 56
    bt8 says:

    Our Norwegian signing taking care of the leftist aspect apparently:

    Post update
    Martin Ødegaard (Arsenal) hits the left post with a left footed shot from the left side of the six yard box.

  57. 57
    Doctor Faustus says:

    This is why we need a faster in thought RB. Pépé made a perfect inside run for chambers to delay the pass by a few seconds.

  58. 58
    Doctor Faustus says:

    TTG, Xhaka seems to have been watching Andrea Pirlo tapes. 😉 Some nice through balls and lofted passes. Mixed with the inevitable slow passing around.
    Tavares has promise …

  59. 59
    ClockEndRider says:

    Very good at times in the first half. Loose passing in central midfield would have been picked up and punished by premiership teams but then hopefully Xhaka, Elneny and Kola won’t be any kind of triangle in games that matter. Some bright stuff from Odegaard , Saka and Tavares.

  60. 60
    Bathgooner says:

    I would like to record in these historic minutes that Xhaka is having an excellent match and is running the midfield. OK the opposition is mediocre but it’s a fact.

    Last season Auba would have missed that second tap in.

  61. 61
    ClockEndRider says:

    2 excellent points, Bath.

  62. 62
    Silly Second Yella says:


    mohamed elneeenyyy

  63. 63
    ClockEndRider says:

    That is Arsenal of old….

  64. 64
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Saka … Ødegaard… Saka

    Great assist. Brilliant finish.

  65. 65
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Old Auba is back?!

  66. 66
    ClockEndRider says:

    Brilliant football, deserved a goal

  67. 67
    ClockEndRider says:

    Brilliant football. Goal.

  68. 68
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Super staff from Pépé and Laca and a great finish by Laca!

  69. 69
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Some good football, all enjoyable goals, two excellent ones!

  70. 70
    Bathgooner says:

    A fine performance and Auba seems to have sorted his radar. OK the opposition was mediocre but we beat them well and that has to provide some balm to the wounded morale. Just as perspective was required after the Chav result, perspective here should prevent self delusion of becoming worldbeaters. Shitteh are a different kettle of fish.

  71. 71
    bt8 says:

    Between loud tree cutting machinery, fleeing to the coffee shop for some quiet, and then trying to sign up for espn+ in Dr. F learned suggestion I have gone and missed our only six goals of the entire season. Ah the travails of being a long distance Arsenal fan in this era of high technology and low performances (low excepting this evening’s from all indications). Not like c100’s experience of the game I’d wager.

  72. 72
    bt8 says:

    Never mind. Come on you free scoring Arsenal. ⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️Ratatat and all that.

  73. 73
    North Bank Ned says:

    We shouldn’t get too carried away by that, but at least we did what a Premiership side is supposed to do to a Championship second string. Good to see some goals going in and Auba looking sharp. Ødegaard made Saka a more potent attacking threat. Ramsdale did nothing to cause any angst and his shot-stopping was good. Xhaka had a decent game, in all fairness; if Dr F is correct that the Swiss was channelling his inner Pirlo, hopefully, Xhaka has, at last, realised there was so much more to the Italian maestro’s game than being slow.

  74. 74
    bt8 says:

    Skysports comment during the second half: “Arsenal look confident, and like they’ll score every time they get forward.”

    Is that likely to be seen again any time soon, and if so will I be the one seeing it? I’d better get my espn+ working ‘cause I have my doubts if this kind of performance can be replicated in the Premier League.

  75. 75
    North Bank Ned says:

    It’s AFC Wimbledon in the next round.

  76. 76
    North Bank Ned says:

    And four all-Premiership ties, which should clear out at least a couple of the dark horses for the cup:
    Man Utd v West Ham
    Chelsea v Aston Villa
    Norwich v Liverpool
    Wolves v Spurs

  77. 77
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    I’m chuffed to bits with that.

    I’ve said I think Ramsdale is gonna be a long-term top performer for us, and this was a good start.
    Pepe will always frustrate but he is so dangerous. His passing also looks to have improved, both in weight and releasing it a bit earlier.
    Saka looked back to form.
    If Auba carries on like that we are in business. Its great to see him smiling and looking like he knows he is where he belongs. He is a long way from past his best.
    Tavares is a young player with a lot to learn, but he has a good attitude and looks promising.
    Odegaard is like Santi. A different player but his is the oil that makes the engine work. He is gonna be a star for us.
    Laca had one good chance and boy did he bury it. Add that to goals for Pepe, Auba and Bukayo and we should have less tentative finishing against City (assuming we create some chances!)

    I can’t give Xhaka much praise. I saw him do some good things when given lots of time and space (that he won’t get in PL) and do some stupid, and many backwards, things when he was not given time and space (just like in PL). Personally, I saw the same player I’ve watched for years. He made a foul in the second half that was so typical of him – he made his mind up to go for the player/ball, we could all see the foul coming, and even though it took him another 2 seconds to actually get close enough to make the foul, it never occurred to him to pull out. And the option of anticipating the situation and getting his positioning right to actually win the ball was not available to him- because he just doesn’t read the game well enough.
    ‘Let them past first, foul later (if you can catch up)’ – the Xhaka code

    Kola at CB! Give the man a new contract! 🤣

    Of course we can’t go overboard, but it was great to great a view of what this team can be like once they get into their stride. If we see more horseshoe we’ll all be unhappy. If we see more like we did tonight we will be thrilled. And it’s a process to transition from one to the other against tougher opposition… keeping working lads!


  78. 78
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    And before chevrons I must thank Trev for a funny and wonderfully researched preview. Excellent stuff!

  79. 79
    TTG says:

    My report is with the techies

  80. 80
    OsakaMatt says:

    The techies are having a well-earned
    snooze it seems😀
    Anyway, a good thrashing for my
    brother-in-laws team was welcome
    and now we have my brothers team
    in the next round.

  81. 81
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Matt@80: Such strange relatives you have! No wonder you had to run away all the way to Osaka. 🙂 🙂

    GSD@77: How our optical vision actually works is really quite fascinating. Modern neuroscience tells us that it is not at all the way it used to be explained — retina acting link camera and sending all signals back to the brain for processing. Most of the time something almost reverse happens. It is the brain that sends predictive signals to the eyes to what to expect (based on the existing previously seen patterns and layers of algorithms of course) and only when the expectations don’t match with the signals arriving at the eye the anomalies are sent back to the brain to construct new patterns. 🙂

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    TTG says:

    Has anyone been able to pick up the report from last night ?

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    scruzgooner says: