Feed on

As The Arsenal were winning their first League and FA Cup Double in 1971, David Bowie was putting the finishing touches to his song “Changes”. 

The last time Arsenal completed the Double was, of course, in May 2002. Fifteen months later, in August 2003, vice chairman David Dein surveyed the football landscape and made the now famous observation, “Roman Abramovich has parked his Russian tank in our front garden and is firing £50 notes at us.” 

In 2003 the Arsenal vice chairman was in Monaco for the Champions League draw where the Invincibles eventually drew Internazionale, Dynamo Kiev and Lokomotiv Moscow – a draw to make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, when viewed now, 19 years later. Arsenal at that time were rated 5th in Europe and things badly needed to change for Chelsea if they were to challenge for top trophies and become London’s, let alone England’s, top side.

Well, change things did. The Dein Prophesy – if only Ludlum had been on the ball, so to speak – came horribly true, as Chelsea bought trophy after trophy, and skewed genuine competition with their oligarch’s ill-gotten roubles. About £2.1 billion pounds worth to January 2022.
And now things must change again. It turns out that the tank built by the steel of Roman Abramovich was not only firing £50 notes at Highbury, N5, but was also being readied to fire shells, at the command of his friend Vladimir Putin in Moscow, at cities across the peaceful country of Ukraine, ironically the home of Dynamo Kiev, the other team from that Champions League draw of 2003.

As a result of his ties to the Russian President, Abramovich has now been sanctioned by the UK government to the extent that his businesses are no longer allowed to operate here and Chelsea must be sold without profit to the owner. As ownership changes again, just as David Dein claimed in 2003 that Arsenal had a squad good enough to challenge in Europe, we might be seeing the beginning of an era where that will again be the case.

The Raine Group, an American merchant bank, are handling the sale of the club, and Abramovich will have the final say on to whom, although he cannot receive any of the money himself. However, Chelsea being Chelsea and a Russian oligarch being involved, things are already getting even more complicated. Due to the current complex standing of the club, I began this preview very early with a view to tracking events leading up to our kick off. The Raine Group apparently have had previous dealings with the American Ricketts family and there is/was concern amongst the other bidders that the latter are/were being given unfairly advantageous information about the sale. Chelsea fans are also seemingly worried about the Ricketts family taking over, as the founder of their wealth has a history of making Islamophobic remarks in a number of emails in 2019. Could be a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire – what a shame !

Update: The Ricketts led consortium have now withdrawn from the bidding process and will not submit a final bid due to “unusual dynamics around the sales process.” Make of that what you will.

The eventual proceeds from the sale will go to “an entity” from where they will be distributed to a mixture of government, the Premier League and who knows where – it’s not really clear from what I can discover. Maybe there is someone reading this who can explain better than I ? In any event, until a new owner or owners are in place, Chelsea cannot buy or sell players, cannot offer new contracts, cannot sell club merchandise or any new tickets for games. As a result there could be some unaccustomed gaps in the crowd for our visit, although probably not to the extent that it will affect the home side. Sadly!

So where does David Bowie’s song come into all this …? Some claimed that Bowie was a Chelsea fan, something that is honestly unclear, but The Bowie Prophesy – ok, leave it – as things began to change for Arsenal in 1971, makes interesting reading as things change again for Chelsea in 2022. The song is thought to have been about growing up and considering the various personalities he created as he grew older. There is though an irresistible connection to Chelsea’s oligarch owner in the lyrics as they relate today back to our fateful Champions League draw in 2003 – 

Ch-ch-ch-ch changes

Turn and face the strange

Ch-ch changes

There’s gonna have to be a different man……

But still the days seem the same

And these children that you spit on

As they try to change their worlds

Are immune to your consultations

They’re quite aware of what they’re going through

Ch-ch-ch-ch changes

Turn and face the strange

One of the few things that is certain about Chelsea is that without Abramovich’s ill gotten money they would never have challenged the Arsenal as London’s or anyone else’s top club. The head to head league stats show that of 169 meetings between the clubs, Arsenal W65, D50, L54. Prior to the arrival of Abramovich in 2003, Chelsea wins in the league were a relative rarity apart from in the 1960s when they definitely had the upper hand. Only in the 2005-6 season, as the roubles began to tell, did they gain superiority over us. The other factor was that José Mourinho used the Russian riches to buy the best big, physical talent around at exactly the time Arsene Wenger was assembling his team of very young, smaller, Barcelona style, technical players in the new incarnation of Wenger Ball, and that physical superiority counted heavily against a young Arsenal side.

As I began writing this preview Chelsea had surrendered a 1-0 lead at home to Brentford to eventually lose 1-4 to their newly promoted West London rivals. They then went on to exit the Champions League at the hands of Real Madrid, and the hope was that that kind of on-field collapse would continue as the team seized up in the confusion surrounding the club. Unfortunately they have since just won their FA Cup semi-final against Crystal Palace, and beaten Southampton 6-0 at St Mary’s, where we, of course, came undone on Saturday to lose our third Premier League game on the trot since our 1-0 win at Aston Villa. That was our fifth consecutive away win in the league and had begun to convince us that Arteta’s Arsenal are showing signs of being made of the kind of stuff needed to once again stand up to the likes of Chelsea. 

Some, not all it must be said, were optimistically looking at Chelsea’s third position in the league as our finishing target, as we seemed to have found a good level of consistency. How quickly things can ch-ch-change again. We have to hope that our current form is a blip, albeit an injury induced one, as Mikel Arteta must reconsider our limited attacking options as we now fight to get back into fourth place.

The Teams
Mateo Kovacic is a big doubt for Chelsea, having been withdrawn after 26 minutes against Palace on Sunday. Other than that Ben Chilwell and Callum Hudson-Odoi seem to be their only concerns, unless you count Ross Barkley who still apparently plays for them. Yes, I’d completely forgotten too.

As we know only too well, we are in a bit of a fix at the moment. Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey are out for the rest of the season, while Takehiro Tomiyasu’s absence looks set to continue. Alexandre Lacazette may or may not be available after testing positive for Covid-19 at the weekend. Mikel Arteta seems to want to stick with a back four, so the selection decisions would seem to be in the attacking half of the team. Eddie Nketiah could hardly have looked less effective at Southampton, and Lacazette has been out of sorts for weeks. My own choice, depending on whether Arteta trusts Tavares for this one would be:


Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tavares/ Saka;

Xhaka, Odegaard, Lokonga;

Smith-Rowe, Martinelli, Saka/ Pepe.

If Arteta opts for a back three, I would go for:


White, Holding, Gabriel;

Cedric, Odegaard, Xhaka, Lokonga;

Smith-Rowe, Martinelli, Saka.

The Holic Pound
Not surprisingly, given recent form, Chelsea are quoted around evens or slight odds on to win this one. Arsenal to win is 16/5 with Betfair, with 5/2 for the draw. The same company are offering 11/1 for a 0-1 Arsenal win, or 16/1 for a 2-2 draw. William Hill will give you 45/1 on an Arsenal 2-3 victory. 

The match is on Wednesday 20th April, kick off at 19.45 UK time, and is on Sky Sports TV. Referee is Jonathan Moss, Fourth official is Andy Madley and Chelsea Insurance, sorry, VAR cross hairs of whatever required thickness to rule out Arsenal goals, will be provided by Darren England.

And finally, can you name three English football clubs whose names contain swear words …?

Answer: Arsenal, Scunthorpe and F***ing Chelsea 😏

Enjoy the game, Holics 🤞🏻

48 Drinks to “Ch-Ch-Changes at Ch-Ch-Chelsea …..”

  1. 1
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks Trev for a very fine preview👍

  2. 2
    OsakaMatt says:

    On the team selection I would probably go with Nuno again in the back 4 XI you have named above – he did well enough against Southampton.
    It’s going to be very tough for the boys given that confidence must be fragile by now but score the first goal and it could make a world of difference. COYGs!!

  3. 3
    OsakaMatt says:

    On the Chelsea sale I’m afraid I don’t know any more than you about where exactly the money will end up (Ukraine I hope) but I am wary of giving Abramovich the final say on who buys the club – the billionaire boys club are not unknown to each other and there must be a suspicion that somehow backhanders will be paid through back channels and that they miraculously end up in Abramovich’s distinctly grubby hands. Choose me Roman and I’ll see you alright.
    I don’t think Chelsea can have any complaints about the whole thing, though to be fair they could point to the other equally unsavory klepto’s who are still being allowed to sportswash their ill=gotten gains.

  4. 4
    TTG says:

    Great and thought-provoking preview Trev . To think that Abramovich first looked at buying Arsenal when he wanted to launder his ill-gotten gains . How different history would be if he had. We of course discouraged his advances which suggests the custodians of our club had a bit of class . We racked up a huge unbeaten run under Wenger over the Chavs and knocked them out of the Cup four years in a row ( once in the Final ) between 2001 and 2004 .
    Frankly I don’t think we will get anything tomorrow. We’ve lost our mojo , two of our best players and they are a very strong team who have just beaten two sides who have beaten us . A point would be great but would have to be a 0-0 draw
    By the way I’d go with three at the back because you’ve squeezed in 12 players ! That may give us a chance

  5. 5
    Cynic says:

    Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tavares
    Xhaka, Lokonga
    Pepe, ??, Martinelli

    The ?? is because we have nobody to play centrally so you can put who you like in there, but Pepe and Martinelli play wide in a three, with Smith-Rowe in the hole.


    I’m dropping Odegaard largely because him and Smith-Rowe in the same side is a nonsense and I’m resting Saka, as he’s looked less than stellar for weeks.

    Tavares plays because we have nobody else. If Tomi is fit, he plays obviously.

  6. 6
    Sancho Panza says:

    I was expecting 9 points from the last three games and the next three games. I really hope we can take 9 from the next three games now.

  7. 7
    Countryman100 says:

    Great preview Trev. We’ve upset the form book at the Bridge before (e.g. Gabby’s game a couple of seasons ago. After losing to Palace, Brighton and Southampton, would it be great if we could beat Chelsea, United and West Ham in the next three? Here’s hoping!

  8. 8
    Bathgooner says:

    Great preview Trev. I think you’ve covered all the bases. I can’t disagree with your selection, nor can anyone as there’s practically noone else to select unless you want to place your faith in Pepe or Elneny! However there are rumours Laca might be fit – I’d still give Martinelli a go at CF. I’m not taking any of your bets though as I want to keep my shirt!

    It’s going to be a tough gig – it really should be a scruz report.

    It’s my fault that your 3 at the back have 12 players! I added Tavares because I thought you’d only selected 10. I’ll rectify that.

    To continue your brilliant theme:

    And I Say to Myself, All the Young Dudes, Dancing With the Big Boys, As the World Falls Down, Because You’re Young, Don’t Let Me Down Down, Hang On To Yourself, I Know It’s Going to Happen Someday, Heroes!

  9. 9
    Bathgooner says:

    I would certainly play three at the back at the Busstop but I would replace Lokongo with Tavares in your formation. I also considered replacing Odegaard instead and moving Lokongo to Xhaka’s right but the Norwegian’s greater experience might prove useful.

    This is a good analysis of our biggest problem. It is behind a paywall but if you haven’t visited the Torygraph in a while they might let you in. As Invinciblog said this morning at Gunnerstown, it’s more than a Lacazette problem.


  10. 10
    bt8 says:

    Great preview, Trev. Also good natured as always. Hoping our usual tendency resumes exhibiting itself, of playing as well against the good teams as we have badly against the bad ones.

  11. 11
    bt8 says:

    Not to be overly pedantic or anything but I always thought a gulf was wider than a chasm. Which appears not to be understood in this BBC sentence, “It was also a graphic illustration of the giant task facing United’s manager-elect Erik ten Hag as United were run ragged by the Liverpool powerhouse, the gulf in quality and attitude between the sides a chasm.”

    Let’s just say the gulf and the chasm are both wide. But with any luck Ten Hag will rip ‘em a new one.

  12. 12
    bt8 says:

    “A dip in form in an otherwise upward trend of a season”

    Sounds about right considering everything including the graph in that article. A wise investment strategy never involves selling at the bottom of a dip when the overall trend has been good.


  13. 13
    Ollie says:

    Heh at the last joke. Great preview, Trev.
    Didn’t know about the Chelsea ‘sell’ money. Sounds more than a bit dodgy, still going to go to a lot of corrupt people, isn’t it?
    Anyway, yes 1-0 to the Arsenal. Time to learn to defend again, and nick a cheeky goal.

  14. 14
    Ollie says:

    ‘sale’ even.

  15. 15
    North Bank Ned says:

    Top form, as ever, Trev. Great read.

    If ever there was a time to nick a 1-0 at the Bus Stop, this is it.

  16. 16
    Trev says:

    Thanks all for your kind comments.

    Tomiyasu is in the training photos from yesterday’s session. According to the boss he is “very very close” and they will decide on him today. Hope they’ve got him in a bath of magic dust and horse placenta this morning.
    Lacazette is over his Covid so he may get the nod bizarrely for his defensive qualities. You do wonder if all that chasing back is what makes him too knackered to shoot straight.

  17. 17
    Esso says:

    Cheers Trev!

    @TTG there were also big stories at the time (and subsequently) that Abramovich’s initial target was Sp*rz. I never knew they had Arsenal in their sights as well. Suppose they were just looking for a London club they could pick up for a song (£1). And with Ken Financial Genius and Pig Famer Bates at the helm, Chelsea just stuck out like a sore prick.

  18. 18
    Esso says:

    Arsenal: Ramsdale, White, Gabriel, Holding, Tavares, Xhaka, Elneny, Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe, Nketiah

    Subs: Leno, Cedric, Swanson, Azeez, Lokonga, Hutchinson, Pepe, Martinelli, Lacazette

  19. 19
    bt8 says:

    Elneny scored a screamer against Barcelona. Odds on a repeat?

  20. 20
    Trev says:


    I also heard Abramovich was after the Spuds. – didn’t know he eyed up the Arsenal. Thank god he didn’t get us anyway.

  21. 21
    Cynic says:

    Don’t like that team selection at all, still… here goes.

  22. 22
    ClockEndRider says:


  23. 23
    Bathgooner says:

    Get in! Nice one Eddie!

  24. 24
    ClockEndRider says:

    Fucking lucky cunts

  25. 25
    Gooner_KS says:

    You must be really unlucky when Werner manages to score

  26. 26
    Gooner_KS says:

    Why is that not a yellow at least for Mount???

  27. 27
    ClockEndRider says:

    Absolutely brilliant .

  28. 28
    Gooner_KS says:

    It’s clear both defences are shite so let’s outscore them boys, COYG

  29. 29
    Gooner_KS says:

    On the bright side we already scored more than in last 3 matches combined

  30. 30
    ClockEndRider says:

    And from far fewer opportunities. Very encouraging. And their first was a deflection of Lampardian dimensions.

  31. 31
    Esso says:

    Their first was an absolute fucking joke. We are cursed at the moment.

  32. 32
    Cynic says:

    If you start with three centre backs and go to a back four after less than 15 minutes, you’ve fucked it.

    Tavares has been atrocious, lost every challenge. Despite the goal I still don’t think you can have ESR and Odegaard in the same team. Apart from the goal ESR has not been in the game.

    I’m expecting him to hook Holding at HT but he could take off Tavares for me. He’s just been so weak.

  33. 33
    Esso says:

    Apart from the goal ESR also had/created a massive chance which beat the keeper all ends up but missed.

  34. 34
    Gooner_KS says:

    Why the fuck he didnt pass to Gabi???

  35. 35
    ClockEndRider says:

    Outstanding second half and excellent goal scoring.

  36. 36
    ClockEndRider says:

    And the incredibly annoying g thing is if we’d got 6 out of the 9 points dropped, we’d now be third.

  37. 37
    Cynic says:

    What an odd game.

    A fantastic and unexpected result, but I spent most of that expecting to lose. For once we got the breaks, It almost feels like an accidental win but fuck it, it’s a win and it stops the bleeding.
    Hopefully that will give them the confidence to carry them through the rest of the season.
    I can hardly take in what I’ve just seen though.

  38. 38
    Esso says:

    FUCKING DEEP JOY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  39. 39
    Gooner_KS says:

    Strange game and result indeed. But it feels fucking great

  40. 40
    bt8 says:

    Resilience wins the day. Good performances by many including Elneny and Xhaka.

  41. 41
    TTG says:

    I regularly lambast Xhaka but if you look at his best games many of them are against Chelsea. The two Cup Finals, he scored the winner in the League Cup semi, he was immense in the 2-2 draw when Luiz was sent off , he scored the cracking free kick last season . Tonight he passed the ball quickly and the nutmeg for the second goal was brilliant . It was a very good performance by him tonight . He stood up as one of the senior players and contributed richly . Well done Granit. If you play like this regularly you have a big part to play .

  42. 42
    bathgooner says:

    It’s a funny old game!

    Great spirit. Great result.

    Now keep it going, lads.

  43. 43
    North Bank Ned says:

    This team beggars belief. Lose at home to Brighton. Win away at the Bus Stop. But I’ll take the win happily enough.

  44. 44
    Trev says:

    Told you in the preview that a 2-3 Arsenal win was 45/1
    Good knows what 2-4 was !

  45. 45
    North Bank Ned says:

    Score goals. Win matches. Who knew?

  46. 46
    Silly Second Yella says:


    The Mountain

  47. 47
    TTG says:

    Elneny a mountain?
    At the very least a foothill and I’d start him on Saturday

  48. 48
    Bathgooner says: