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Capitola Rob gets his goal!

The Arsenal started the matchday 34 against their East London, and fellow contenders for European spots for the next season, rivals West Ham with the result of a previous matches on Sunday moving them down a position from the much-coveted Champions League top four. A more surprising result of another match opened up the tantalizing (if less likely) possibility of fighting not just for top four but even the third position in the league table come the end of May.   

The West Ham team in recent years, since David Moyes took over the managerial reigns at the club for the second time, has undergone an impressive transformation into a consistent Premier League performer. The Scotsman’s trademark efficiency and tactical discipline, familiar from his Everton days, is complemented by attacking nuances that underline his managerial evolution. Our own manager — who was of course a linchpin of Moyes’s Everton team and their creative fulcrum – Mikel Arteta has been going through his own rapid evolution both as a tactician and a man manager, and most of us have been happy to ride the transformational journey of our own club along with him and this emerging group of spirited, talented, promising young players.

While this season has been marked by the inevitable inconsistencies that characterize a youthful team, the overall trend curve has shown a steady upward movement especially in the second half of the season. If the three subpar performances and resulting losses against Crystal Palace, Brighton and Southampton threatened to push the team back in its evolutionary journey, the invigorating wins against Chelsea and Manchester United leading up to this London derby provided a timely boost to the team and the fanbase alike.

The return of Takehiro Tomiyasu – one of our most consistent performers of the season, providing defensive solidity and tactical versatility – in the right-back position after a lengthy injury lay-off was a boost too for the team, especially as that ensures that the chaotic forces of our other full-back – and I say this fondly, for I think despite the rawness of his talents Nuno Tavares is a very promising player who can grow up to be a real asset for the team and more than capable deputy for Kieran Tierney – is counterbalanced by our right back’s inscrutable composure. There was one more change in the defensive line-up, Rob Holding earning a rare league start to partner Gabriel in place of Benjamin White suffering from some (one hopes) minor muscular struggles. In front of the defense the only change was Gabriel Martinelli coming back for Emile Smith-Rowe. The collective whirlwind of Tavares – Martinelli together on the left flank is a somewhat unusual choice for Mikel who prefers his shapes down the wings to be meticulously structured, and it was going to be instructive whether Martinelli could control his natural impulses and provide a more organized protection when Nuno inevitably lost his compass.


Tomiyasu – Holding – Gabriel – Tavares

Elneny – Xhaka

Saka – Ødegaard – Martinelli


In pre-match interviews Arteta had alluded to our misadventures last season away at West Ham when we had rapidly conceded three first half goals, and probably mindful of that history the team started very cautiously, focusing on a very compact distance between the lines and leaving no spaces for the West Ham wingers and fullbacks to get drive into to deliver crosses. Saka tried to isolate the West Ham left back a few times and then cut back in the typical fashion, but there was very little space allowed by their defense; neither were there the quick switches of play or movement from others we needed to open up spaces. After two eye-catching performances of vertical and progressive midfield passing from Xhaka and Elneny in the last two matches they reverted more towards their steady safety-first possession recycling. Martinelli, while ensuring Tavares had both a cover as well as a passing outlet on the left, was rather subdued in an attacking sense.

Eddie Nketiah, since he has been brought in place of Lacazette in the starting line-up, has demonstrated the value of rapid movements and pace in the central striker role. He doesn’t quite have the technical abilities of his attacking peers, but his willingness to chase seemingly lost causes have definite advantages especially in an otherwise tight, and let us be honest quite turgid, match like this. His curled attempt at goal was palmed away by the ex-gunner Fabianski. From the resulting corner by Saka, Rob Holding outjumped his marker and finished with a smart flicked header reminiscent of his mentor Per Mertesacker’s odd goals in red-and-white. This was Holding’s first Premier League goal, and his ecstatic celebration with his teammates was well deserved for a loyal and consistent servant of the club. He was putting in a composed display at the heart of the defense as well with a few well-timed blocks and clearances.

West Ham 0 – Arsenal 1 (Holding 38’)

West Ham ratcheted up their attacking intensity and almost immediately got an equalizer as Ramsdale was forced into an acrobatic stop to push away Rice’s header. While Tomiyasu was keeping Benrahma relatively quiet, the more accomplished duo of Coufal and Fornals were finding it easier to ping in crosses from our left side, and from one such clever low cross from Coufal Bowen’s shot on target – but probably to be saved by Ramsdale – received a deflection significant enough to find the net.

West Ham 1 (Bowen 45’) – Arsenal 1 (Holding 38’)

The first half was a drab affair, and the second half carried on pretty much the same vein, despite West Ham starting the half with a more visible show of intent.  There were again some good defensive efforts by Holding and Tomiyasu, but we were more or less toothless in attack; even when, through our movement and playing between the lines, we were threatening our uncharacteristically poor passing and close control let us down quite a few times. Ramsdale provided the most memorable moment of that first part of the second half when he came out flying as a sweeper-keeper to clear out a long ball from West Ham that had beaten our advanced defensive line, and seemed in the process to have clattered Bowen who was giving the chase. But the replay confirmed that our goalkeeper didn’t touch the West Ham midfielder who got a yellow for his simulation. A rare good decision in our favor from the most unlikeliest of sources. 

Soon after our two Brazilians combined to get us the match winning goal. Saka, cutting in from the right, brought out a fine save from Fabianski on his near post. West ham defense failed to clear Saka’s corner out of danger, Martinelli showed nice control and composure to send an accurate lofted cross back towards the far post and Gabriel’s goalbound header ricocheted off of Fabianski into the net.

West Ham 1 (Bowen 45’) – Arsenal 2 (Holding 38’, Gabriel 54’)

Nketiah had a few more attempts, one of them was from a sumptuous Elneny through ball that he curled just wide of the post. Fabianski made a couple of more saves from Eddie. West Ham brought in Soucek, Antonio and then Yarmolenko, Tomiyasu had to be replaced (for what later Mikel clarified to be just muscle fatigue which is understandable given how long he has been absent from matchday action), Sambi came in for Ødegaard to close out the match and almost got himself a goal (but maybe should have just kept possession in those dying moments), Eddie got into a mad bit of kerfuffle with a few West Ham players, and Arsenal saw out the match with a degree of “streetwise” that is not always associated with the current incarnation of the team.

A subpar performance but a well-deserved victory leading us back to the fourth position on the league table. Among all the other London clubs involved in the fights for the European spots I personally dislike West Ham the least – and in Yarmolenko, Coufal & Soucek they have players that when playing for their respective international teams I would often find myself cheering – and wish them well in their second leg of the Europa semi.

Now, having secured three consecutive victories against three very tough competitors in this most crucial part of the season it is paramount that we do not lose our advantage before the north London derby and go to that match couple of weeks from now on the back of four consecutive wins, and not take Leeds lightly at all at Emirates next weekend despite their recent struggles. A victory in that match would significantly improve our chances to get back to the Champions League, which would be a truly remarkable achievement for this young team and manager learning as they grow.

107 Drinks to “The Unassailable Rightness of Winning”

  1. 1
    ClockEndRider says:

    Excellent review of the match Dr F.
    We certainly seem to have lost the fluency of that post Christmas period which has resulted in some odd performances and results recently. At the same time, with the young and small (in numbers) squad we have, that was always likely to happen. Grinding out results against direct rivals has been in short supply in N5 for a number of years so its reappearance under Arteta is to be welcomed and commended.
    Now on to Leeds next week for yet another must win game.

  2. 2
    bt8 says:

    Thank you Doctor F. for an insightful look at the game, our unpredictable recent form, and where we stand at this turn into the season’s home stretch. Eddie played well and should or could have managed a goal. We might need him to find his scoring boots in the next few games especially if our newly identified attacking troika of Xhaka, Gabriel and Holding fails to come through again.

  3. 3
    TTG says:

    Thanks for a fine report Dr.F . I think the type and quality of game was no surprise given the tension and West Ham’s very recent match versus Frankfurt. As CER says we haven’t always toughed out these sort of matches.
    We saw the value of committed squad players and owe a debt to Elneny , Nketiah and Holding who were excellent .I particularly value Capitola Rob who has never looked back from his seminal meeting with Scruz. He is a great club man and a very underrated player. Xhaka did a very solid job in midfield , exactly what we look to him for and Tomayisu slipped back seamlessly . He really is a super player and his quality shone in relief to Tavares who really scares me to death defensively. He is, if anything a wing-back and it’s a huge risk playing him in key games at left back .
    My other concern was that Ramsdale , whose shot-stopping was fine, overdoes the macho stuff. He was within a fag paper of cleaning out Bowen and being sent off, quite unnecessarily .
    Leeds will be tricky , all our games will but would you like to be going to Anfield on Saturday having to win…and our first target of Europa League has been secured .

  4. 4
    bathgooner says:

    Your fine report is very much the game I saw, Dr F. I haven’t watched it back yet but the stats suggest that West Ham had no shots on target in the second half and we were pretty defensively solid so big props to Capitola Rob for seamlessly replacing Gabriel’s regular partner at centre back. When I watch the game again I expect to be impressed by our defensive solidity rather than experience the regular jitters I had when I watched it live.

    The report nicely highlights how Xhaka and Elneny prioritised midfield defensive security and control over progressive passing in this game compared to their previous two matches but, nonetheless both had exemplary performances and, particularly in the second half they prompted several attacking moves that on another day would have led to goals to settle the match as well as my nerves. I would keep both for next season when a larger squad will be essential.

    Eddie has been excellent in his last few starts and though he failed to score in this match, he could well have had a hat trick and his speed, his movement and individual chance creation show what he can offer us next season. He is showing more confidence, aggression and drive than when he was getting 15-20 minute cameos kate in matches and demonstrates the benefit of a run of games. I am sure he can be persuaded to stay and be part of the Arsenal renaissance and European journey. He won’t get an offer from another top 6 club. Why move to a midtable club on the promise of more starts to play alongside inferior players, possibly get involved in a relegation battle and miss out on developing alongside Ødegaard, Saka, Smith Rowe and Martinelli. Sign da t’ing, Eddie!

  5. 5
    North Bank Ned says:

    A delightful read, Dr F. The description of the inevitability of Tavares losing his compass is worth the price of admission alone. As you say, we just have to keep on grinding out wins. The other chips will then fall where they may. Fourth is in our hands. Third may be a stretch as Chelsea have the easiest-looking run-in of the top teams, and three of their four remaining goals are at home. The Mancs have to visit our nemeses for their final two games, Brighton and Palace, but if we beat Leeds, they cannot overhaul us. A lot is going to turn on the NLD.

    Nketiah looks to be benefiting from his extended run, as would be expected. He has certainly given the attack some vim and vigour that was missing. I was pleasantly surprised to see his performance percentages (measures like shots on target per 90 mins) closely mirror those of Diego Jota and Kai Havertz, which is none too shabby company.

  6. 6
    TTG says:

    While I was very happy with the performance and attitude of Xhaka on Sunday and feel he has at last stepped out to play a more solid and dominant role we must look at the way we freshen our midfield. If he is not a starter ( and if he is we will not improve our midfield) he will be highly disgruntled especially in World Cup Year . I’d look at a more dynamic partner for Partey – Phillips , Tchouanemi , Bellingham , Bissouma etc and look to cash in on him as his age profile is at odds with the sort of squad Arteta is building . I’ve not been convinced yet by Sambi but he needs more time, Partey has been excellent this season and Elneny is a perfect back-up especially with five subs next season . We will have to prioritise a striker and the jungle drums suggest our first choice is Jesus . If Eddie can be persuaded to stay we will also need to think about Balogun who may be ready for first team outings next season .I’d also look for another left back. Nuno might benefit from a loan but we ought to try to find someone who can deputise for Tierney . He has missed almost 50 games in three seasons through six separate injuries ( over 15 a season) so a competent left back would be an important step

  7. 7
    Bathgooner says:

    TTG @6, Aaron Hickey is your man to cover RB, LB and CMF if tonight’s jungle drums are to be believed. Check the link posted in another place.

  8. 8
    Cynic says:

    I wish Alan Smith would stop calling Nketiah a great finisher, especially as he usually says it just after he’s missed the target or had one saved.

    We’re supposedly trying to make one last ditch effort to keep him, but I wouldn’t. Arteta was letting him go not so long ago and a flurry of half decent performances shouldn’t have changed his mind. He should have scored at least twice on Sunday and didn’t. Just saying.

    If we’re going up a level, we need a better striker. That’s not a knock on him really because there’s not many top class strikers about, but we are going to need someone who can score goals in the Champions League, whether we make it or not*, and does Eddie really fill you with confidence at that level?

    *If we don’t make it we need a better striker just as much as if we do. Perhaps even more so, to ensure we DO make it next term.

  9. 9
    North Bank Ned says:

    I’d send Balogun on loan to a PL club. He probably neds a full season of top tier football. He won’t get anything like as much as he needs for his development if he comes back to us next term.

  10. 10
    TTG says:

    I think that’s a good plan re Balogun.
    A season at somewhere like Southampton or Bournemouth ( or Forest!) would be an ideal way of acclimatising to Premier League football . It’s hard to draw conclusions from transfer gossip and I don’t have sources at the club any more that can give me any inside track but my sense is that we are looking for two strikers one of whom could play wide
    ( Jesus?) and also would like to keep Nketiah. If he signs a new contract we might make £20 m on any potential sale.
    Re Cynic’s comments it’s worth looking at the trajectory of modern strikers . Kane only took off after several loan deals, Salah exploded after a couple of moves , Mane was not a prolific scorer for Southampton and Aubameyang took a while to get going . One of our finest strikers John Radford was hopeless to start with and even Thierry and Dennis had slow starts and they were geniuses.
    What I think Smith is noticing is that Eddie is showing much more calmness in potentially dangerous situations and striking with precision rather than power . It will be interesting to see if Sunday was a breakthrough performance or just a one-off but his willingness to run the channels and his physicality went up several notches .

  11. 11
    bathgooner says:

    I think we definitely do need a top level striker to take us forward and Eddie isn’t yet that guy. He’s 22 and still developing. But we cannot be competitive with just one striker. Eddie would be an excellent foil or replacement for the top guy. I think he will get the game time he seeks if he stays and continues to perform as he has in this streak. Balogun needs to go on loan somewhere he will play regularly at a good level and learn his craft. I would send him to a Championship side or one of the mid-table French or German clubs with a good coach who is looking for a good striker rather than a struggling PL side who will not play him when the chips are down.

  12. 12
    bathgooner says:

    There’s a good analysis of Eddie’s contribution on Sunday here:

    Tactics Column: How to lead the line with Eddie Nketiah

  13. 13
    bathgooner says:

    The link is wrong!

    It’s the tactics column by Lewis Ambrose on Arseblog:


    For some reason when I copy the URL,it always comes up as the Match Preview.

  14. 14
  15. 15
    Countryman100 says:

    Thank you for that excellent review Dr F. If I may, I’d like to chip in with a few observations about the fan going experience. GSD was there as well (although behind enemy lines) and May also have some thoughts.

    This was my first ever visit to the London stadium. I had prebooked a driveway about 20 minutes walk from the ground. I had feared that there my be a lot of traffic, but there wasn’t, and I got to my space in a quiet little community far too early. We set off to the ground, but ten minutes away a quiet pub called to us. We had a very pleasant Sunday lunchtime couple of pints while we watched Everton beat Chelsea, something that went down well with us and also the West Ham fans (I was incognito having put my scarf away in my pocket, although I don’t think there would have been any trouble anyway). Anyway, across the canal and thence to the large and impressive former Olympic stadium.

    The away fans were behind the goal by the corner fans. They were split into a lower tier and then, after a large and curious gap that I presume is something to do with the running track, the majority in the upper tier. We only reached my credits level at the last minute so consequently we were in row 72 of 73. It was a long way back, although you could still see the whole pitch. First and to be fair, the positives. It was the safest stadium I have ever been in. The safe standing rails were at waist height, a bit like the old fashioned ones on the terraces, with a wide corridor to move along. You could comfortably lean on them during the game. Up and down the many stairs, including up to our seats, were rails you could hold onto. For me, less steady on my pins at 65 than I used to be, these things matter. However, n the negative side, what an atmosphere vacuum! Apart from Bubbles, and when they scored, we hardly heard a thing from the WH fans.

    The Arsenal fans, as usual, were loud of course. I had hoped for North London Forever, but although it was started a couple of times, it didn’t seem to catch on. Instead, the song of the day, sung about every five minutes was Super Mik Arteta. Rob got his song about Cannavaro several times. Super Tom made several airings. Saka and ESR of course. Even So Paddy got up!

    It was frankly, a very dull first half, enlivened only by Rob leaping like the proverbial for his goal (I love it when we score from corners), and then Nuno being 20 yards out of position to allow Coufal all the time in the world to cross it to Bowen who scored via Gabriel’s arse. Second half was better, with Eddie making Fabianski make several good low saves. From another Saka corner the ball came out to Gabi who swung the ball over to an unguarded far post where his fellow Brazilian was never going to miss (I love it when we score from corners). Cue pandemonium in the away end, but those rails did their job and, unlike at Old Trafford or Turf Moor, I stayed in my place. At this point there was still 35 minutes plus injury time to go. We had more chances to put the game away, but I never thought they were going to score. Just like at Molineaux, they kept pumping the ball into the box and Ramsdale, Rob and Gabriel dealt with it all comfortably.

    I thought Tomi, Rob, Gabriel, Elneny, Xhaka, Saka and Eddie all played very well. As we drifted out of the stadium, after applauding the team, Super Mik Arteta was sung over and over again. Virtually no traffic and home 70 minutes after getting in the car.

    Not my favourite stadium by a long way, but a super day out.

  16. 16
    Countryman100 says:

    The view from row 72

  17. 17
    Sancho Panza says:

    Thanks for the reports. That stadium looks awful from the picture.

  18. 18
    North Bank Ned says:

    Thanks for the away day report, C100. I was wondering whether the chorus from The Angel got an airing. It might take the song being played over the PA at the Ens a few times to get folks familiar with it.

    At least you had a commanding view of a section of the running track. It looks a soulless place to watch football.

    As for Nketiah, strikers need to hone their craft like any other player. The more he plays, the better he will get. Whether he will ultimately reach the level that we shall need of our main man at the front if we are to be a PL/CL winning club remains an open question. However, I suspect he fits much of the profile of the sort of striker Arteta wants.

  19. 19
    TTG says:

    Firstly thanks for one of your inimitable and excellent reports C100. I’ve only ever done West Ham at the London Stadium at Club level and while the view was distant it wasn’t anything like the sort of vantage point you had . This has been a refreshing season to be a Gooner and although I’ve hardly been I feel very connected mainly because of the excellence of your reporting and the fact that most of our games are broadcast . There has been a very healthy reset this season and it will be interesting to look back at what we anticipated in our pre-season discussions. My sense is there was widespread support for Arteta .
    He’s done a fine job but occasionally he does have a obstinate streak . Those figures from Bath on Nketiah and how his numbers compare to Lacazette do make you wonder why we persisted with the Frenchman for so long. Today’s news is that Jesus is not coming to Arsenal but we are after Lautaro Martinez. He’s an elite striker so he could generate high excitement next season

  20. 20
    bt8 says:

    Let’s face it Capitola Rob has never gotten the accolades he deserves. Until this week, when lots of people started making jokes about his hairline, which as I take it is a new form of accolade. Having achieved these heights will Rob now plan a spiritual return to his roots in Capitola??

  21. 21
    TTG says:

    Re Capitola Rob
    We may have to ask his agent , manager and personal sex guru, Mr ScruzGooner

  22. 22
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100: Let me echo what TTG says about your away day reports. For those of us who only have memories of being at Highbury and now follow the team on a screen from afar, they are a real connection to match days in the stands. (I know not of this club level of which TTG speaks. :))

  23. 23
    Cynic says:

    Those figures from Bath on Nketiah and how his numbers compare to Lacazette do make you wonder why we persisted with the Frenchman for so long.

    Possibly because Nketiah wasn’t (maybe still isn’t) in Arteta’s plans.

  24. 24
    bathgooner says:

    Thanks C100, for your man on the spot report of our smash and grab raid in the Krays’ manor. Glad you survived, let alone enjoyed the experience. I think you are very wise to have kept your scarf in your pocket and not to have tested the water in an East End juicer.

    I’ve been in that stadium for the Paralympics and enjoyed watching several track events but your photograph reinforces my feeling that it just ain’t a football stadium. I can’t see the bubble blowers filling it when their team returns to their mean performance level so the lack of atmosphere may be even greater in due course.

  25. 25
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Thanks everyone for the kind words!

    Countryman and others, thanks for the great in-person reports. This team’s connection with the fanbase is strong enough to come across palpably even on TV.

    Good discussions about Eddie. He has shown some improvements in the last few matches in terms of the intelligence of his movements and the willingness and ability to make attempts from a distance and not rely only on poacher’s finishes. In terms of pure technical abilities he is not yet at the level required at Arsenal, but can he provide significant enough value as the second choice striker next season?

    While I see the logic behind sending Balogun out in loan for one more season I also look at the growth trajectory of Saka or Martinelli and wonder if Flo can replicate that in the first team.

  26. 26
    Ollie says:

    Cheers Doctor.
    Your link seems to work both times here, bath!
    Four more games, let’s keep it tight. I’ll be fretting about what’s happening while in the air on Sunday, but I should be landing during the second half

  27. 27
    bt8 says:

    Re: c100. Thanks as ever for your on-the-spot away day reporting, and photo. Looking closely at the picture @16 it appears as if the stadium’s lack of ambience could be improved by filling those empty pens between the upper and lower sections with water and installing an exhibit of marine life, i.e., dolphins, walruses, Jonathan Moss and Mike Dean.

  28. 28
    Countryman100 says:

    bt8 @27. Sounds like the Colosseum in its Roman heyday!

    Roman heyday!

  29. 29
    North Bank Ned says:

    Dr F@25: My question about bringing Balogan back to the club next season is about how much playing time he would get against what is needed for his development. I can’t see him being higher in the pecking order than third behind the two world-class strikers we bring in (which I assume would ensure Eddie’s departure), or the one and a remaining Eddie. Either way, Balogan’s minutes would be limited (as Saka’s would have been had we not needed an emergency left-back, let us not forget). We don’t remark much about Saliba’s development that has come from his year-long loan to Marseilles, but playing regularly there has transformed him from a raw talent who struggled to make an impact on our U21 team into being good enough to be called up to France’s senior international squad. I think Balogun needs something similar.

  30. 30
  31. 31
    Doctor Faustus says:

    NBN@29: You convinced me. 🙂 Hope it’s a judicious loan move, i.e, more Saliba and less Gnabry (shudder) and then Flo comes back to Arsenal to dominate the league. When he was in the U-23 team I used to try to watch all the highlights, just top notch skills and intelligence.
    Among our promising Hale End brigade we are probably going to lose Reiss this summer as despite his recent good performances for Feynoord I don’t think he has done enough to convince Mikel. Or maybe we will let Nico go and have Reiss as back-up to Saka/Gabi .

  32. 32
    bathgooner says:

    In other news, it seems there’s a morality tale developing at the Bus Stop in Fulham.

    He who sups with the devil should have a long spoon:


  33. 33
    Countryman100 says:

    In the Times birthday column today is the following entry.

    Cesc Fabregas, footballer, Monaco, Spain and Chelsea FC.

    No mention of Arsenal. O tempora! O mores!

  34. 34
    Countryman100 says:

    He’s 35 by the way.

  35. 35
    bt8 says:

    Re: c100 @28: Roman heyday Roman heyday would have indicate the reign of the stammering emperor Claudius, presumably?

  36. 36
    Countryman100 says:

    Unlikely as Claudius was dead by the time Vespasian and his son Titus built the Colosseum! More likely my fat fingers on an iPhone!

  37. 37
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@33. Cesc is 35? More tempus fugit.

  38. 38
    Ollie says:

    Am I the only one thinking the way the Club presents their idea of ‘Safe Standing’ areas is utter nonsense given what the current situation(ie some sections are practically already standing areas) in the stadium is?
    I am willing to be convinced but I don’t see a single advantage or benefit for anyone given what they say.

  39. 39
    North Bank Ned says:

    Dr F@31: If I were Reiss, I’d probably stay another season in Holland and then try to move to a top Bundesliga team. I think he is far better suited for a career in Germany than in the UK, where his fate is probably to be grinding it out in a midfield bank of four for a mid-table Premiership side.

  40. 40
    North Bank Ned says:

    Ollie@38: My 2-cents is that the club is being frank about the realities of introducing Safe Standing. There will be safety-based regulations imposed by the government, particularly around the capacity of the area designated for Safe Standing, and its enforcement. The club will want to protect itself from legal liability, in the event, heaven forbid, there is an accident and it is found the area had more people in it than was allowed (hence the need to segregate the area and access to it). There is the technical constraint that Safe Standing can only be introduced in the lower tiers as the upper tiers are too steeply banked. What then do you do with season ticket holders in the lower tiers who do not want to stand (and can you make them pay more if you have to move them to a more expensive section)? Can you still be inclusive if you make part of the stadium unavailable to those unable to stand throughout a game? Do you have to provide similar Safe Standing for away fans? Will the government require enforcement of seating in non-standing areas of stadiums that bring in Safe Standing? Quite a bit to think about one way or the other.

  41. 41
    Ollie says:

    Very good points, Ned.

  42. 42
    bt8 says:

    Arsenal Women now taking on the Dirty Spuds in the first women’s north London derby at Emirates Stadium. COYG

  43. 43
    North Bank Ned says:

    FT is reporting that bidders for Chelsea are being ‘encouraged’ by Raine, the investment bank handling the sale, to keep Abramovich’s associates Bruce Buck and Marina Granovskaia in place to run the club post-sale, and that the preferred bidder, the Boehly consortium, plans to do so.


    Is that a slightly unpleasant smell wafting over from the bus stop?

  44. 44
    ecg says:

    Ha, ha, ha!! City concede twice in added time allowing RM to tie it up and force extra time!

  45. 45
    bt8 says:

    Won’t Benzema EVER go away? It seems long ago that he and Chamakh were both tearing up Ligue Un and we were trying to figure out which if the two to sign. Guess we picked wrong on that one.

  46. 46
    TTG says:

    I think it makes sense to keep key employees if they are talented and know how the club functions after all they won’t sack Tuchel . But as we might have expected the altruism of Abramovich appears increasingly qualified . It’s a complicated situation exacerbated by the Government’s somewhat nuanced position .

  47. 47
    North Bank Ned says:

    Both Buck and Granovskaia go back a long way with Abramovich, to before when he bought Chelsea. Key employees they may be at the bus stop, but sanctions are sanctions. Characterising the UK government’s position as nuanced is generous.

    Separately, how did Pep manage to lose that semi-final? Neither game closed out when it should been. Lesson for us there.

  48. 48
    OsakaMatt says:

    A belated thanks for a fine review Dr F.

  49. 49
    bathgooner says:

    Ned @43, there certainly is.

  50. 50
    Ollie says:

    *raises bat*

  51. 51
    Trev says:

    More belated thanks, Dr F, for a fine report. Only just got round to reading it.

  52. 52
    bt8 says:

    From Bruce Buck’s Wiki page : “As the partner in charge of Skadden’s European offices, his work includes a broad range of transactions in the capital markets area. Buck represents both European and non-European clients in a full range of crossborder financing transactions, generally in connection with equity offerings or high-yield and other debt financings.”

    Not sure I’d trust him, especially that “full-range” part.

  53. 53
    bt8 says:

    From Marina Granovskaia’s Wiki page: “Granovskaia studied at the Foreign Languages Faculty of Moscow State University and graduated in 1997. She started working as Roman Abramovich’s PA at Sibneft in 1997. In 2003, she moved to London, when Abramovich bought Chelsea. She has also worked for Millhouse Capital, another company owned by Abramovich.”

    I’m not sure I’d trust anything about her. Abramovich puppets the both of them,

  54. 54
    bt8 says:

    Man City eyeing Eddie Howe to rebuild Pep’s shambles?

  55. 55
    bt8 says:

    To start a rumor …

  56. 56
    Cynic says:

    Not quite as good as his Motorhead/Bob Marley mashup, but Niles Rogers likes it so…

  57. 57
    North Bank Ned says:

    Well in for the half-ton, Ollie.

  58. 58
    Ollie says:

    Let Chelsea sink and then no need for Buck or Granovskaia for anyone.

  59. 59
    TTG says:

    I spoke to a lawyer who was representing someone sacked by Chelsea . My friend is an Arsenal ST holder and has dealt with Tim Lewis .
    When he went into see Bruce Buck at the first meeting he said Buck was seriously lawyered up.He was on his own. He said to Buck ‘ how nice of you to bring lots of people to handle this photocopying. There are tons of papers! ‘ . I thought it was a great opening line and although it went to a tribunal he won much higher compensation for his client .
    I have to say that the two ( very different ) people I know who have met Granovskaia , one a financial adviser , one a composer both said how impressed they were with her . One of them described her as a ‘ bit of a babe ‘ ( he was at school with me so he has attained a great age ! ) She has a very good reputation in the game but that doesn’t mean a great deal. She is very much someone who is operated ultimately by Abramovich

  60. 60
    TTG says:

    If we are going to start a rumour it must be credible . I agree with CER that Guardiola has been lucky to manage elite sides with huge budgets but to replace him with a bloke like Eddie Howe who,is totally unproven yet , at any elite level , would be madness. One possibility might be Zidane who can definitely win the Champions League .
    One future target may well be Arteta

  61. 61
    bt8 says:

    TTG, I agree that Eddie Howe would not be considered seriously. His name came to mind seeing Pep brought down so thought of the man Newcastle, the other club representing an oil sheikdom, have tipped as a man on the way up (at least for now).

  62. 62
    Esso says:

    Cheers Doc!

  63. 63
    North Bank Ned says:

    To my mind, it is rather reassuring that when one elite side with a huge budget meets another elite side with a huge budget, an enthralling game of football breaks out.

    If you want a manager who knows how to win things, Ancelotti is your man.

  64. 64
    North Bank Ned says:

    West Ham and Leicester are also out of their respective European competitions. Not so easy this semi-final malarky.

  65. 65
    OsakaMatt says:

    Sound advice @58 Ollie😉

  66. 66
    bt8 says:

    Congratulations to Rangers for reaching the Europa League final where they will play Eintracht Frankfurt. It’s also interesting to see two quite high profile clubs, Roma and Feyenoord, reaching the first Europa Conference League final.

  67. 67
    bt8 says:

    Arseblog News reporting that this Summer’s pre-season training will begin in Germany. As Arte Johnson used to say, Verrry Interesting.

  68. 68
    North Bank Ned says:

    Well, I’ll drink to that.

  69. 69
    OsakaMatt says:

    Rangers did well
    Nelson, Guen and Saliba all starting in that ECL semi-final where Feyernoord got through against Marseille.

  70. 70
    bt8 says:

    Ned, I had missed the news that Marseille got to the ECL semifinal, but that adds experience for Saliba, who seems to be the one of the three who we are likeliest to keep. Transfermarkt says Reiss Nelson had 4 goals and 8 assists in 29 appearances between the Eredivisie and the European Conference League; Guendouzi 4 goals and 11 assists in 43 appearances between Ligue Un and the ECL; and Saliba 0 goals and 0 assists in 41 appearances between Ligue Un and the ECL.

  71. 71
    Countryman100 says:

    Sky Sports News reporting that Mikel and Jonas Eidevall (women’s manager) have signed new contracts. Excellent.

  72. 72
  73. 73
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    We’ve got Super Mik Arteta!

  74. 74
    bathgooner says:

    That’s great news.

  75. 75
    bt8 says:

    Excellent news on Arteta. Not only does the interview @72 once again show his drive and devotion to taking this Arsenal to the top and his lucid communication skills, but it cuts off speculative news stories about his contract situation. This season’s results have demonstrated that his plan is progressing steadily in a positive direction.

  76. 76
    Ollie says:

    Let’s have the ‘manager-extension extra bounce’ on Sunday.
    Rather than a curse.
    Definitely good news and a deserved show of trust at this stage.

  77. 77
    bt8 says:

    Even as a closer reading shows the goal is (realistically I would add) to “take the club to the next level and to compete really with the top teams.“ A bit of nuance to be sure but it’s also important to be realistic as well. That said, if we could have improved a handful of performances this season we could easily be above Chelsea, and who predicted that in August?

  78. 78
    Cynic says:

    Arteta’s contract is premature in my opinion and I am far from convinced he really has any kind of plan at all, but hey-ho. It could be worse.

  79. 79
    North Bank Ned says:

    Apart from the optics around a statement of intent, a contract extension will make Arteta more expensive for another club to poach, not that I would expect any serious approaches from a heavyweight club until he starts winning things.

  80. 80
    OsakaMatt says:

    Good news on Mikel!
    It’s been a good season but one where he’s had to work hard for where we are now and a new contract is fully deserved.
    Fit squad tomorrow minus Kieran and Thomas is good news too.

  81. 81
    TTG says:

    Arteta has secured European football and hopefully it willbe CL football. That is clear progress . I’ve been concerned ( as I’m sure has he) that I am agreeing with him regularly this season but the status qui has been restored !
    It’s not premature because he’s achieved his first objective and it takes away all
    speculation about his future which would have plagued the summer . And no plan?? The plan is pretty clear to me and has been well articulated throughout the club – style of play / young players / emphasis on homegrown / non-negotiable / shedding the deadwood . Looks vaguely like a plan to me

  82. 82
    TTG says:

    Apologies for my vagueness and rudeness . By him I meant our good friend Cynic who is providing an alternative voice to the GHF majority it seems on this one

  83. 83
    Countryman100 says:

    Interesting comment from Man United vlogger/ blogger Mark Goldbridge. He has publicly said that United need their own Arteta. He’s also appeared on Arsenal blogs (like that run by Princess Gooner Amanda (an old friend of Dave Faber) to discuss.

  84. 84
    Cynic says:

    Hoping your young players will come off is a plan of sorts I suppose. I don’t believe we have a style of play either, unless playing out from the back and making everyone shit themselves when we do it passes for style. 🙂

    I admit I had the often clueless in-game tactics and hit and miss team selection in mind when I typed that post though.

  85. 85
    bt8 says:

    Re: Liverpool v. Spurs on the morrow: Antonio Conte says “It will be an interesting game.” No wonder they are paying him the big bucks. Or sterlings. Or whatever currency they’re paying him in.

  86. 86
    bt8 says:

    I assume it’s not r(o)ubles* as Thomas Tuchel presumably is getting from his Chavski paymasters.

    *written so as to provide our audience with a fine array of spelling choices.

  87. 87
    bt8 says:

    What would Antonio Conte do if Rob Holding stole his toupee?

  88. 88
    North Bank Ned says:

    The ball is in play for less than two-thirds of a PL game, according to a BBC study:


    Time for a stop-clock, it asks.

  89. 89
    OsakaMatt says:

    Big weekend in the big league bt8 😉

  90. 90
    Cynic says:

    The ball is in play for less than two-thirds of a PL game, according to a BBC study
    So it’s not all bad news for Burnley fans then.
    Time for a stop-clock, it asks.
    EFF OFF, I reply.

  91. 91
    bathgooner says:

    Very interesting!

    “I can’t even remember their start [to the 2021-22 season], I just see them playing now,” Klopp said in March 2022. “They have a clear structure, clear idea, properly tuned, possession-based, young, full of talent and joy.
    “If you go through the line-up there’s an experienced striker and then three very exciting young boys and then a bit more experience in the double six and then a pretty inexperienced backline and a young goalkeeper, and that’s not with [Emile] Smith Rowe even in, and then on top of the other guys, it’s interesting.
    “Other teams will not like it because it’s another big name back on track but that’s how it looks. There are similarities [to us], you can say it like this, they’re a massive club and qualification for European football in the last few years is not exactly how they wanted it.
    “If they get Champions League this year, it will feel as good [as it did] for us the first time. A step in the right direction, an exciting team.
    “Arsenal fans, maybe since I was in England, it was not always easy for them to enjoy. But they seem to be now and that’s exactly how it should be.”

    (Posted by ‘Usmanov’ on 7am KO)

  92. 92
    North Bank Ned says:

    Cynic@90: I tend to agree with you.

    Bath@91: I assume the original quote came from just before they flattened us in the league. Sly old dog Klopp.

  93. 93
    ecg says:

    Can we make to the ton for the preview?

  94. 94
    ecg says:

    Plays it out from the back (hears Cynic’s head explode in the background)

  95. 95
    Silly Second Yella says:

    Brighton 4

    man U 0

  96. 96
    Countryman100 says:

    Currently Brighton 4-0 United with half an hour to play.

  97. 97
    bt8 says:

    Man U fans not having much fun fun fun at the moment.

  98. 98
    ecg says:

    Hopefully Poo will do the same or better to the swampdwellers.

  99. 99
    Gooner_KS says:

    A 94 minute sub, after a quick one-two, lays it out in front of the goal…

  100. 100
    ecg says:

    Sure, I’ll take the easy tap in.

  101. 101
    North Bank Ned says:

    Well in for the ton, ecg.

    Not wild about the neighbours getting a point, but at least it wasn’t all three.

    ‘Poo and Citeh’s goal differences are insane, both 60+

  102. 102
    Gooner_KS says:

    With 4 games to spare we have secured Ropey League, not bad eh. Get in for the 3rd

  103. 103
    TTG says:

    Wednesday 4 May- Arsenal Ladies 3 Tottnumb 0

    Satutrday 7 May – Tottnumb U18 0 Arsenal U18 5

    Thursday 12 May – ???

  104. 104
    bt8 says:

    Well in ecg for the preview-beating century. You made it look easier than it was I’m quite certain.

  105. 105
    bt8 says:

    TTG, Thanks for the score and the prompt which sent me to find Jeorge Bird’s report:

    U18 Premier League

    Tottenham Hotspur 0 Arsenal 5 (Sweet 2, Henry-Francis 25, 81, Bandeira 31, Ismail 90)

    Arsenal U18s finished their season in superb style as they thrashed rivals Tottenham Hotspur 5-0 away today, with Jack Henry-Francis scoring a brace.

    The win saw the young Gunners move up to fourth place, although they will have to wait until next weekend to discover where they will finish.

    Goalkeeper Remy Mitchell captained the side in what is likely to be his final appearance for the club. He first played for the U18s as a schoolboy in 2018.

    A host of other players were also playing their last game for the U18s, with many of them set to remain at the club next season – Henry-Francis, Henry Jeffcott, Mauro Bandeira, Billy Vigar, James Sweet and Charles Sagoe Jr all fall into that category.

    Taylor Foran wasn’t involved, while Tino Quamina missed out through injury. Reuell Walters and Henry-Francis were called upon with the U23s season having finished.



    Walters-Sweet-Henry Francis-Cozier Duberry

    Bandeira-Sagoe Jr


    Subs: Roberts (for Vigar, 69), Ismail (for Ibrahim, 84), Gower (for Henry-Francis, 87). Not used: Kovacevic, Green.

    Arsenal got off to the perfect start with James Sweet, who has been one of the team’s standout performers this season, opening the scoring after just two minutes.

    Tottenham had an opportunity to equalise but Jamie Donley missed from the penalty spot.

    Henry-Francis proceeded to make it 2-0 in the 25th minute and the midfielder then turned provider for Mauro Bandeira, who scored on his 42nd and final appearance at this level.

    Arsenal brought on Mathaeus Roberts in place of Billy Vigar as the second half wore on and eventually it was 4-0, with Henry-Francis scoring again after Bandeira returned the favour by setting him up.

    While much of the focus today was on the players involved for the final time at this level, there was a glimpse of the future too as substitute Ismail Oulad M’Hand, who will hope to be more involved next season, scored to add further gloss to the scoreline.

  106. 106
    OsakaMatt says:

    Looking at the championship play-off contenders, Luton would be the easiest for the away support but I can’t forgive the League Cup Final so ai hope it’s Forest.
    Any preferences for a visit C100?

  107. 107
    scruzgooner says: