Feed on
Slightly blurry image courtesy of Countryman 100, taken from the North Bank

My thanks to Dr Faustus for his excellent and erudite preview which set the scene nicely. So the car was pointed down the M11 towards The Emirates. I parked up about 2pm and strolled to the ground. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and there was an excited buzz in the air. As I walked in through gate D, there was a huge roar. Distinguished old boy Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace had just gone two up against our undistinguished neighbours down the Tottenham High Road. Attaboy Paddy. The Vieira chant rang round the concourse. 

Now part of the joy of this blog is the occasional meet up with fellow Arsenal fanatics, especially those who are long time contributors to this fine emporium. This time it was a great pleasure to meet Steve T. Longtime friend of our founding Father, Dave Faber, he was there with his son Ben. Steve’s season tickets are just three blocks away from mine. We learnt that we shared a passion about cricket as well as Arsenal, and also discovered that all three of us either were (me and Steve) or was currently (Ben) wicketkeepers! We shared reminisces of our favourite glovemen. Steve comes originally from the West Country and knew Jack Russell, via Stroud CC. “Mad as a bag of spanners but what a player.”

The clock was creeping towards 3pm so I made my way to block seven and walked down the steps into the sun filled stadium. Aaron Ramsdale had been preferred to Bernd Leno in goals (good) and, following on from the very warm welcome we gave him against WBA, greeted the North Bank like a long lost friend, a gesture that was warmly reciprocated. Our debutant, whom I will call Tomi-san (from Osaka Matt’s current homeland) graced the right back birth, White and Gabriel were the centre back pairing, Lokonga and AMN were the midfield duo (hurray, no Xhaka, thanks to his stupid red card at Manchester City). Up front we saw Ǿdegaard, Saka, Pepe and Auba.

This report is of my impressions during the game. I have seen the brief highlights on MOTD, but no more and I may make mistakes. I am sure any errors will be corrected in the drinks. We started well. Lively passing and crossing, with Tomi-san covering miles up and down the right wing. Somebody put Auba clean through (Ǿdegaard?) and he was one on one with the goalkeeper. Could this be it? Tim Krull saved well. In the first 20 minutes we dominated, with Norwich rarely passing the half way line. Crosses and shots rained in, with Pepe, KT3, Tomi-san and Saka particularly involved. 

But the Canaries saw out this first period and began to get more involved in the game. Pukki was looking constantly dangerous. A cross was met by McLean and just flashed wide, probably their best moment of the game. Norwich break quickly, using wide men, but our defence stood firm, with our Japanese debutant looking good and the centre backs dealing well with any threat. Tomi, by the way, is a big old lad (for height, not weight) and looked pretty good in the air. Best right back we’ve had in the air since Sagna, was the general consensus. As the half ended, Kieran threw in a cross, it went over Pepe’s head and fell to Tomi on the volley. He hit it sweet as a nut, with great power, but just over Krull’s bar. What an entrance that would have been. 

HT: Arsenal 0-0 Norwich

The second half began and again it was all Arsenal. Buzzing around the box, forcing saves and blocks from the Norwich defence. I enjoyed seeing a free kick just outside the area and Tomi and Ben White, both over 6ft, overloading the back stick. Nothing came of it but I predict we may score a few more goals from set pieces this season. 

On 60 minutes (approximately) came the changes. Tomi came off (he only joined the club on Friday) and AMN moved to right back. ESR, held back at the start due to illness during the week, moved into attacking midfield and Thomas Partey came on for the admirable Sambi. Hopefully it won’t be long before we see them in partnership. We now had a front five consisting of Ǿdegaard (largely on the left), ESR (largely on the right) Pepe, Saka and Auba. I would argue that that’s our most creative five players all playing together. It really showed as we went up a gear and dominated the rest of the game. My mind went back to that season when Santi, Alexi and Özil were all playing well, playing little triangles round the edge of the box. This was like that, with ESR driving in straight runs and Pepe looking dangerous all the time.

Pepe is far from the world’s tidiest player but whilst he can miscontrol on occasion and choose wrong options on others, he puts the fear of God into defences. It was his contribution that led to our first goal of the season. Another interchange on the right, led to Pepe making space and swinging in a shot which Krull touched onto the far post. From there, the ball caroomed back across goal for Pepe to hit it onto the near post, from which it then bounced onto the still prone Krull who knocked it back across the goalmouth to Auba who couldn’t miss from one yard out. I have to say that Auba looked dangerously close to offside and Norwich surrounded Michael Oliver but VAR confirmed the goal. Watching later on MOTD it was clear that in the final movement, either Pepe or Krull played the ball backwards to Auba, who was therefore onside. Cue huge celebrations. 

Arsenal 1-0 Norwich (Aubamayang 66)

The crowd had been loud, magnificent and very supportive through the whole game (a point later made by Arteta) and now came into their own. After celebrating the goal, the following songs rent the air in quick succession:

One nil to The Arsenal

We scored a goal, we scored a goal, we scored a goal!

And then, reflecting the gallows humour which had been present amongst the Emirates faithful all afternoon

We are staying up, say we are staying up!

The attacks flowed on and several times Norwich defenders made Tony Adams like blocks to prevent seemingly certain goals. Auba and Pepe could both have had hat tricks, ESR could have had a couple, but the Norwich goal bore a charmed life. It was of course still only 1-0 and Norwich got a little more ambitious, bringing on a massive striker (didn’t catch his name) to whom they launched long balls. A couple of Norwich players took a tumble in the box but Michael Oliver was having none of it. I can’t really comment as it was 100 yards away. 

As the time ticked down Arteta brought on Cedric Soares for AMN (WTF?) but we safely saw the game out. Yes we had only won 1-0 and you could call it a narrow victory, but we had 30 shots on goal, 8 of them on target and really could have put 4 or 5 past them. What we have been saying, possibly more in hope than expectation, was that once we got the first team on the pitch, this would look a different team. The midfield looked so much quicker and direct without Xhaka and we pressed well. All that was missing was clinical finishing.  Hopefully that will come.

FT: Arsenal 1-0 Norwich

On to Burnley next week. 

70 Drinks to “One Nil to The Arsenal as Our Season Starts”

  1. 1
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Great eyewitness report Countryman!

    One minor correction: for the goal the ball ricocheted off the post and the bounced off a supine Pépé’s outstretched legs for Auba to tap in. Not an offside because the captain was behind the ball. Good decision.

    I thought we played with a speed of thought and movement I have rarely seen in the last few years. If we can continue to play like that goals will come.

    Tomi and Sambi are exactly the kind of players we need. Partey-Sambi should be the pivot with AMN replacing as needed. They provide the much needed verticality.

  2. 2
    bt8 says:

    Thanks, c100. I’m glad our new Japanese recruit looked as good innocent he flesh as he did in the pixels. Sure wish his pile driver had gone a few inches lower. Gabriel solid as a rock. ESR looked lively after he came on, and AMN did a job in midfield. Refreshing to see.

  3. 3
    bt8 says:

    innocent he = in the

    Autocorrect particularly active today. Could be a day to sit in the sun.

  4. 4
    TTG says:

    A very positive and enjoyable report .
    It was a game I missed live but I have seen the highlights and conversed with half a dozen Gooners who were at the match . Such was the attraction of Emma Raducanu I watched MOTD after she had confirmed her victory .
    I think you are right to pick out the positives . The tempo was noticeably quicker and this was really a scratch side congregating after an interlull with several players having recently shaken off Covid, in a very tense situation against a determined if limited opponent . We will get miles better provide we don’t revert to Xhaka who rather than the metronome of the side as Santi was, is the Toblerone of the side . Tomi, Gabriel and Odegaard impressed and several people commented on Sambi favourably and Partey when he joined proceedings .
    Hope springs eternal but there is some real basis for it

  5. 5
    Countryman100 says:

    TTG – Swiss Xhaka, Toblerone. Heh. Nice one.

  6. 6
    Uplympian says:

    Thanks C100 for your usual fine upbeat review of the match – much needed!
    It was encouraging to see Arteta involve the new signings – both as a fillip to the supporters who love to see shiny new players and, hopefully, a good sign that he intends to integrate them fully into the team going forward. Early doors but let’s hope we can now look forward to progress being made and put the negativity behind us.

  7. 7
    North Bank Ned says:

    As vibrant a report as ever, C100. I would say we saw the same game, except my stream was so dodgy I missed patches of it, the goal included. From what I did see, Tomiyasu looked highly promising and offered KT3 the luxury of a relatively low-key game. Ramsdale was assured without really being tested; similarly, White and Gabriel. AMN put in a solid shift in the engine room, and Lokongka reinforced why our Toblerone bar is now best kept in its wrapper. Ødegaard and Saka were bright and Pepe his typically mercurial self. As you say, in the moments he looks threatening, he is very dangerous. We seemed to step up a gear after Partey and ESR came on. Converting the chances remains the concern. Our midfielders will need to start putting the ball in the net. Auba and Pepe cannot carry the goal scoring for the entire season.

    Kudos to Steve T for describing Jack Russell as mad as a bag of spanners. Perfect.

  8. 8
    Bathgooner says:

    Nothing like an eyewitness account to add the flavour of the match day experience. Great stuff C100. When things settle down we must have another Holic reunion at one of these games.

    The goal was timely. I was listening to the dot.com commentary and was just beginning to accept that two hitherto pointless teams were destined to produce a goalless draw when ESR and TP added a considerable bit of zest to proceedings. In the buildup to the goal Saka showed huge strength, balance and determination to ride a physical challenge from Handley before laying the ball off to Pepe for his shot that Krull tipped onto the far post before it rebounded for him then to strike the near post as he came running in.

    Dr F, when the ball rebounded from that near post strike it is difficult to tell whether it then struck Krull (who swung a leg at it) or Pepe himself or both as the latter had tumbled on top of the prone keeper in front of the post before moving across the 6 yard box to Auba for his tap in.

    I have to observe that it’s remarkable that VAR didn’t chalk that goal off (as Mike Dean was the man in charge) for either offside (which would quite simply have been wrong) or for a handball by Saka when he received the ball under pressure (which would have been very questionable – but given that it was VAR, Mike Dean and The Arsenal, would, for this observer, have been unsurprising). Credit where credit is due, they got it right and delivered. Thousands must be in mourning.

    Vital win. Some encouraging performances under massive pressure. Onwards.

  9. 9
    bt8 says:

    One time Arsenal man of interest Thomas Lemar’s goal scored in the 90+9′ minute (Spanish time, doncha know) allows Atlético to escape with the three points at Español.

  10. 10
    bt8 says:

    There could have been time in there for a few café cortado

  11. 11
    North Bank Ned says:

    Scruz: This will please you: Rob Holding as an ambassador for the Tolly.

  12. 12
    bt8 says:

    In-game report by the bbc:

    Reading 0-4 Arsenal
    Vivianne Miedema is on another hat-trick but Beth Mead is surely in the running for player of the match. Two assists and one goal for the England forward.

  13. 13
    ClockEndRider says:

    Super report. So glad to hear that the crowd backed the team so wholeheartedly. Onwards and upwards for both team and manager, let’s hope.
    Bath @8, I too listened on the Pravda stream. I thought it was interesting that Hillier, co-commentating, stated that he was amazed that Mike Dean couldn’t find a way to disallow the goal.

  14. 14
    Trev says:

    lovely report, C100,

    full of atmosphere, as ever.

    Agree on your observations re Pepe. Good to hear Steve T is ok – we’ve been promising each other a meet up for ages.

  15. 15
    Las says:

    Very enjoyable report,
    Thanks c100! I hope that the next couple of games we keep our best creative players on the pitch and give it a good go right against Burnley.
    The streams were poor and I couldn’t find any Russian link which are usually quality streams. They are speaking Russian though. 🙂

  16. 16
    TTG says:

    I’m not good at transferring tweets to the blog but the Arsenal Academy Twitter page is featuring Charlie Patino’s goal against ManUre yesterday in the U23s ( going past among others Phil Jones and Dean Henderson )
    Despite Cynic’s scepticism there is an increasing belief at the club that he could figure for the first team this season .

  17. 17
    Countryman100 says:

    Here we go TTG

  18. 18
  19. 19
    TTG says:

    Great minds C100!

  20. 20
    North Bank Ned says:

    Good to see Patino muscling his way through the Mancs defence because he looks to have quite a slight build for senior football. I am increasingly expecting him to gets some Carabao Cup minutes.

  21. 21
    bt8 says:

    Now Ibrahimovic is scoring goals again in Serie A. What is this, old man’s weekend?

  22. 22
    bt8 says:

    Rea: CER @13. The exception is what proves the rule. Been shown many times before now.

  23. 23
    bt8 says:

    I too was certain Mike Dean would follow his usual behavior. Has he gone off his meds?

  24. 24
    bt8 says:

    Garth Crooks picked 11 players to be in his team of the week but one thing he neglected to do was to pick a manager of the week. Good thing from his point of view because he would have had no real choice other than to pick Patrick Vieira.

  25. 25
    North Bank Ned says:

    Intriguing to note that Saliba has been included in our registered Premier League squad as one of the U-21 players, of which we can have an unlimited number, and have named 63, which must be everyone under 21 on the books.

    We can only muster six home-grown senior players, however: Chambers, Holding, AMN, Nketiah, Ramsdale and White, so our senior list is restricted to 21, although there are six first-teamers on the U-21 list: Balogun, ESR, Gabriel, Okonkwo, Saka and Tavares.

  26. 26
    Steve T says:

    The journey to The Grove was seamless. An exceptionally rare event I must say. Just for once, every form of transportation used seemed to work perfectly. This meant arriving at Arsenal station earlier than anticipated. It was nice to note that the atmosphere was already positive on what was a glorious September afternoon. I’m guessing that it’s always going to be more relaxing knowing that whatever the team selection, it won’t include Xhaka, Elneny of Kola.

    We entered the stadium just after two. I was cursing our luck as the buy one get on free beer offer had been advertised to finish at two. I made my way to the bar, and to my very pleasant surprise, I discovered that the special offer timings had reverted to the pre covid days of 45 minutes before kick off. Camden Pale Ale tastes even better at £3:10 a pint.

    It was then a considerable pleasure to meet, and share time with author of this fine piece. Many things were discussed, including the surprise choice of goalkeeper. We all agreed that this was definitely a statement of intent for what will happen going forward. One slight correction, I’m a London lad, born and bred. However my growing up years were in the West Country. Hence my total love and admiration for the best wicket keeper I have ever seen.

    There is not really much to add to what had already been said about the match. The crowd were excellent from the off. The defeat of the Middlesex Comedy Club earlier had certainly gone down well.

    Saturday was a day of real importance. It wasn’t just a must win, for me, it was also very much about the performance. For me, it was very promising. We played with a keeper and a back 3 that will never have played together before. Only Gabriel was actually at the club last season. This will take time to gel, but the first signs are encouraging.

    Sambi looks a great prospect. Full of running and very much not like our favourite Swiss Toblerone, he actually wants to play the ball forward. I also love his vision. He can pick a pass. I have high hopes for the young man. I also want to give a special mention for Ødegaard. Apart from his creativity, he absolutely ran his socks off. A great all action display and a very impressive work rate. That definitely bodes well for the future.

    As highlighted, we should have won by a lot more. We definitely need to be more clinical in front of goal. We will not get away with that against better teams. However, overall I liked what was unfolding in front of me. I’m still far from convinced with those entrusted in running this great club, but we at last look to be moving in the right direction. It will of course take time and as a result, require a certain amount of patience. Let us all hope we can use this as a platform and build from here.

    Excellent report C100, and a pleasure being able to meet and share time pre match. Here’s to many more. Trev, one day very soon hopefully. I hope you and yours are all well.

    Onwards and upwards good people.

  27. 27
    OsakaMatt says:

    A fine report thanks C100.
    And nice to hear the crowd right
    behind the team😀

  28. 28
    Countryman100 says:

    I see our next opponents, Burnley, play tonight against Everton. Nice to have two extra day’s rest before next Saturday’s game.

  29. 29
    Countryman100 says:

    Although it is a pain not to be in Europe, and it perhaps restricts the number of games that the likes of Patino may play, I think the extra time on the training ground will be very useful to Arteta, by repute a fine one on one coach, as he develops this talented but young side.

  30. 30
    Steve T says:

    I must say, I don’t think that no being in Europe is a bad thing in the slightest. In fact, I think it can be a real positive. No ridiculous trips to places hardly anyone has heard of. No Mickey Mouse matches and back to some games actually kicking off at 3pm on a Saturday.
    The players get more time to gel and build up an understanding.

    I get totally that it may mean that some of the younger players miss out on the odd game or two, but for me, a season out is a massive positive.

  31. 31
    bt8 says:

    Viewing things from (even more) afar, being out of Europe certainly was a massive positive for Chelsea a few years ago so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they would have named most or all of the same reasons you listed, Steve.

  32. 32
    North Bank Ned says:

    The same was true for Leicester when they won the league in 2015-16. Yet the PL title winners in the other eight of the past 10 seasons were also in the CL that season, including Chelsea in 2014-15. That said, it will be immensely helpful to Arteta to have plenty of training ground time uninterrupted by travel to distant places as he re-shapes the team.

  33. 33
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Bath@8: Yes, but I am here claiming our wonderful dear departed old friend Oscar’s “large TV and slow-motion” argument. 🙂

    Some good statistical analysis https://arseblog.news/2021/09/arsenal-1-0-norwich-by-the-numbers/ . Tomi had an impressive debut and Pépé led all attacking numbers.

    I loved the fact that we played the last thirty minutes or so with a clear 4-3-3 — or even 4-1-4-1 in possession — as I really hope that to be the direction Arteta will be evolving into. We are not there yet, and especially against teams with technically better midfielders we will still need the double pivot, but Partey-ESR-Ødegaard — with Emile and Martin playing in the half spaces — is in my opinion should be our best midfield going forward. Sambi can then be Partey’s understudy while not playing next to him.

    The reason this I think will work out well is neither ESR nor Ødegaard are defensive slouches. They press, drop back — you could see Martin tracking his man all the way into our penalty box multiple times — and have excellent spatial awareness which would only get better. An intelligent and robust full-back on the right side in Tomi will help with that too as he seamlessly covers any central gap with Nico/Saka dropping back on the right side as needed. That also allows White to step forward with the ball and find more security in looking up and releasing those precise through balls. The extreme lopsided left-sidedness of our football last season — with over-reliance on Xhaka to cover for KT as he was charged with creating opportunities from the left — should now become a thing of the past and KT’s attacking verve can now be used more unpredictably (both White and Sambi have shown to be superbly capable of quickly switching play from right to left, Partey was already good at that).

    Yes, it was only Norwich. But now we can start to see that the plan of moving the team forward is starting to take shape and each of these signings were brought in for their unique qualities with precise goals in mind. If we can continue recruiting with such precise understanding of the roles of each position things will get better.

  34. 34
    Trev says:

    Steve T, all good here thankfully, and you and yours too I hope.

    I’ve taken the season ticket holiday this season but once I’ve had whatever booster jab is on offer I’ll see about getting up for a game.

  35. 35
    TTG says:

    I was chatting to a friend tonight who is a well- connected Chelsea fan. He tells me despite signing Lukaku and signing Niguez on loan Chelsea made a £34 million profit selling or getting loan fees for a whole series of players . Their wage structure is heavier than ours which suggests they pay much higher wages yet they can offload players much more easily than us . Why?
    It would seem to come down to the competence of their exec team .They have a sales machinery that works . We sold only Joe Willock and remain burdened with players like Kolasinac, Elneny and presumably paid several others like Willian to leave . That is a sign of how poorly the Kroenkes run the club . We’ve haemorrhaged money and haven’t been able to replace it. We’ve made our bed for the rest of 2021 . Now we must lie on it. But to watch how slickly the Chav machinery works sticks in the throats so painfully.

  36. 36
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@35: You make a fair point. I think the difference is that Chelsea runs loan and sell as a business, rather than an adjunct to the development of first-team players.

    Dr F@33: Tactically, you are on the money, especially about rebalancing our wing play this season. Tomi’s acquisition lets us play 3-3-3-1 when we are attacking with Tomi, White and Gabriel the back three when KT3 pushes forward and White, Gabriel and KT3 the three if we are attacking down the right-wing using Tomi. No longer any need for Xhaka to cover when KT3 attacks, which means we can have an extra body in midfield, freeing one of ESR and Ødegaard to play in an advanced position.

  37. 37
    Trev says:

    TTG, ironic isn’t it that a club with a Russian billionaire who doesn’t seem to care how much money he effectively writes off at Chelsea by converting his loans to inflated equity, makes a trading profit when we, as a club with a self sustaining model, flush it down the toilet like it’s gone out of fashion.

    I remember the words of Peter Hill-Wood that greeted the arrival of the Kroenkes: we don’t want their sort around here …….

  38. 38
    Peter Hill-Wood says:

    Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
    You all thought I was being a stick in the mud, a rude, cantankerous old fuddy duddy.
    Well you’re stuck with your yankee Kroenkes, or Krankies, or whatever now.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for me to turn again. Not much room in this bloody grave.

  39. 39
    TTG says:

    The influence of GHF extends beyond the grave. Spooky !

  40. 40
    Lady Nina says:

    Stop continually rolling over, Peter! Settle down, lad.

  41. 41
    Cynic says:

    Despite Cynic’s scepticism

    I have no real scepticism about Patino featuring in the first team, in the right circumstances (such as Carabao Cup against any League One or lower side for instance) but the hype from certain quarters is ridiculous and the suggestion of chucking him straight into the team on Saturday was laughable stuff.

    In any circumstances, let alone 0-3 and the manager’s job being at risk.

    Just let him find his way without all the stupid hype.

  42. 42
    bt8 says:

    Lady Nina still rattling around, I see. Actually, Wiki tells me she has been based in Monaco since 2013 so I wonder how the roulette’s been treating her.

  43. 43
    North Bank Ned says:

    Cynic@41: Well said.

  44. 44
    Countryman100 says:

    Manchester United

  45. 45
    TTG says:

    I think your position on Patino is very sensible Cynic . He does look very interesting and I wonder if letting LJW train with us may be a b3lp to him. There are huge similarities in style and background .
    It’s interesting that given the AFCON we have negotiated a release clause for Azeez in January from his loan at Portsmouth. Not sure what a pathway to the team might be for Patino with Odegaard , ESR and Sambi around but starting him next week or putting him on the bench might be a wise and popular move . Overhyping youngsters can be difficult but Brady , Fabregas and LJW survived it well

  46. 46
    ClockEndRider says:

    I would be very 8nterested to learn the strength of the Swindon team out that night Pstino played so well. If it was a first team then that is very impressive. At the same time, I would prefer to be very cautious with playing him in the firs5 team yet. We’ve seen how no mark never weres like Dan Smith, Martin Taylor and Shawcross, inspired by managers with 1950s attitudes towards football, can do significant harm to players who actually have talent, out of pure spite.

  47. 47
    TTG says:

    From memory it wasn’t a full strength Swindon team , they rotated several players . I think you make a good point but you can lose fledgling talents if you never release them . That’s why I like the idea of LJW mentoring Charlie – he of all people should know the hazards of overplaying and being targeted by less talented players looking for a mark .
    Arsenal have a lot of very exciting attacking midfielders and they need to retain the best ones and develop them with very few games to play them in . Nine man benches help with the chance to introduce young players if league games are going well but we haven’t got into that position yet !
    I’m hearing lots of noise about clubs circling around Saka. Arsenal will find it hard to retain talent like him without Europe and a team that are credible challengers . We’ve talked a lot about the Dortmund model . That model releases top talent at premium prices so that you can backfill with young stars . You can see a way that things might develop if we do have talent coming through but we hope for the best of both worlds . But big decisions await especially if this season fails to produce a better finish

  48. 48
    North Bank Ned says:

    Holding onto Saka in the long term will be difficult. He is elite talent. I only hope for his sake and ours that he wins a major title or two in our colours before he goes.

  49. 49
    North Bank Ned says:

    Of the Swindon team Patino played against, four had started Swindon’s previous league game, two more came on as subs and the other five were unused subs.

  50. 50
    OsakaMatt says:

    Well, I may as well
    Raises bat

  51. 51
    OsakaMatt says:

    Saka has great potential but I think he needs to score a few more to be considered elite talent.

  52. 52
    Las says:

    Elite talents, elite talents? We have seen many within our rank and sadly only a handful could capture the full potential. Diaby, Wilshire, Reyes, Senderos, Eduardo… it depends, it is affected by a thousand factors. Getting good advice, staying injury-free, finding your best position, best partners, best gaffe…
    Saka is an elite talent but to conquer even the PL requires not a small amount of luck to get a big chunk of all the above. I hope he’s going to get these anyway.
    For the Burnley game, I want us to stay on the offensive and creative line-up we finished against Norwich. With the 4-1-4-1 we looked stable at the back and dangerous at the front. Against mid-table teams, we are better on the front foot.

  53. 53
    bathgooner says:

    We are not alone.

    Our friends at She Wore have linked to a Liverpool blogger who analyses well their online anti-fans. It’s well worth 10 minutes of your time.

    Here’s the link to She Wore. The Liverpool blog link is in the third paragraph:


  54. 54
    Countryman100 says:

    That’s a great link Bath. So true of the Arsenal fan base as well as Liverpool.

  55. 55
    North Bank Ned says:

    Bath@53: Thanks for the link. In one sense, it is reassuring to know that it is not only our club that is blighted by ‘anti-fans’. In another, it points to a broader societal ill.

    It is well observed that in the real world, groups radicalise the average opinion of their members and that social media amplify that. Online’s scale and reach and likes and sharing enable those with more radical views to get larger followings and have more social influence. Plenty of research shows that expressing moral outrage increases the likelihood of a social media post being liked or shared. Unlike in the real world, there are no social guardrails to keep things in check, no chance of social ostracisation for stepping over the line. Paradoxically, there is little society in social media, in the sense that societies have evolved over the thousands of years of human evolution as mechanisms for ensuring the cooperation needed for survival. It is a selfish world. Add in its anonymity, and it amounts to there rarely being any reputational or punitive cost to being ever more mean, abusive and nihilist. If anything, it just makes you a bigger fish in your pond of one.

  56. 56
    Doctor Faustus says:

    A spot-on highlighting of the inconsistency and retrograde tendencies of the English referees https://arseblog.com/2021/09/let-it-flow/ .

    If those types of Burnley tackles remain uncensored we would start seeing more and more horrific injuries. Keeping my fingers crossed for this weekend’s game against the Neanderthals.

  57. 57
    Bathgooner says:

    Ned @55, nice analysis. You are correct that this phenomenon is a modern society-wide malady and is clearly neither confined to The Arsenal nor to football. You have nailed many of the reasons for this antisocial phenomenon – most particularly the lack of the feedback and discipline that we all experienced as we grew up which included the ready caustic rebuke for ill thought-out deeds or comments that in the end all combined to form our public personas and public behaviours. Nowadays everyone all has their rights (without concomitant responsibilities), their own truths (without reference to established facts) and the only valid opinion that the least disciplined (and probably least educated) must broadcast as loudly and widely as possible (and there are of course no other valid opinions or shades of grey). It’s all rather tiresome. What a pleasure it is to have this place and a few others for rational discussion.

  58. 58
    Doctor Faustus says:

    NBN & Bath: Quite often technological innovations evolve in completely unexpected directions that we then as human collective respond socially and culturally to adapt to. Social media brings out some of the least constructive tendencies of human mind — narcissism, addiction (in a pure neurological sense much of social media appeal is addictive), hatred and fear, … and other forms of psychopathology. Human culture has shown before its resilience and ability to evolve in a manner to better respond to such developments.
    When printing press became a common enough technology the publication of lampoons with rumors and innuendos aimed at destroying lives had a certain degree of success before the society evolved to learn to punish (laws), control (regulations) and ignore that “abuse” of printing press.
    The speed of digital “revolution” of course presents unprecedented challenge in absorbing these more destructive consequences of technology especially in social media. But I think sooner or later the broader society will demand the ignore-control-punish guardrails against such abuse.

  59. 59
    Cynic says:

    I think we’ve all become conditioned to think contact = foul and I certainly believe the game needed to rethink the way referees dealt with physical play. In general I’ve been quite happy with the new approach, but referees need to ensure we don’t go too far the other way either.

    I was shocked by Atkinson letting the Tarkowski challenge go. Burnley had been sent out to kick Richarlison in particular and wind him up. That they got a spanking was sweet, but good referees will be able to let more go and at the same time ensure tactical thuggery doesn’t work. Sadly we don’t have enough good referees, which has been the problem, first with VAR and now this new approach.

  60. 60
    Las says:

    Refereeing also contains a great deal of nationality coefficience. Same tackle against Kane or in this case against Richarlison leads very different outcome.

  61. 61
    North Bank Ned says:

    Bath@57: It is indeed a pleasure to have this refuge. Our formative clips around the ear socialised us well.

    Dr F@58: I only hope your optimism is well-founded. Part of the issue is the rapid pace of change on social media. It took 50 years from Guttenburg printing his first book for page numbers to be invented.

  62. 62
    Cynic says:

    Stoke being very Stokesy tonight. Three red cards, two of them for coaches, a melee on the touchline, manager effing and blinding. Some things never change.

  63. 63
    TTG says:

    Peter Wood has written this detailed and interesting piece on the development of our tactics . I think he has worked on this with the excellent Mike McDonald of Gunnerstown who is known to a number of us .
    I think Peter’s premise is pretty much spot-on but in reality you need a fanbase that has faith and the social media community at Arsenal doesn’t have the same degree of faith as those who turned up at the ground on Saturday .
    I think Arteta is too controlling a coach but so is his mentor . The football has to be both attractive and successful for the fans to give him time . I’m not sure KSE will be able to ignore a wholesale revolt by the fans but the positivity shown on Saturday suggests that if progress is made this may not happen. Beating Tottenham will have even greater totemic significance.


  64. 64
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@63: Thanks for the link. In all honesty, that the fact that Arteta coaches positional play has been hiding in plain sight since he arrived. He has not had sufficient players for it up until now and still doesn’t have the depth of them he will need if he is to emulate the success of his mentor, Pep, Pep’s inspiration, Johan Cruyff at Barcelona, and Cruyff’s coach at Ajax, Rinus Michaels.

    Your Le Grove link contains an onward link to Spielverlagerung, the German tactics site whose articles on positional play make the important point that position is a means to an end, which is to attack opposing defences. The end is not to retain possession through endless recirculation of the ball. Most of its articles at https://spielverlagerung.com/?s=positional+play are worth the read, and especially https://spielverlagerung.com/2017/06/27/manchester-city-positional-play-analysis/ as it will provide a lot of detailed clues to what Arteta is trying to instil into the team.

    Ajax and Holland’s positional play in the 1970s, Total Football, was a joy to watch; van Gaal’s attempts to apply positional play at OT in the 2010s, as the Le Grove piece points out, turned it into a dour, defensive affair that the fans turned on and got him the sack. A warning there for Arteta that the key to success with positional play is flexibility, not rigidity.

  65. 65
    Silly Second Yella says:

    “…flexibility, not rigidity.”

    aka sexy football

  66. 66
    Silly Second Yella says:

    Looking like drag queen in that man u outfit

    cristiano R

    too late

  67. 67
    Silly Second Yella says:


    one more thing

  68. 68
    North Bank Ned says:

    Karl Hein has signed a new long-term contract.


  69. 69
    North Bank Ned says:

    The weeks seem preternaturally long now we have little midweek football.

  70. 70
    Pangloss says: