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In our last post Bathgooner called for our Arsenal to assert its dominance against chasers Newcastle United in the Tuesday evening game hosted at the New Home of Football in North London. Unfortunately, rather than the Newcastle United expected to show up to play football, the rotationally-fouling Stoke United-upon-Tyne got off the bus and proceeded to take to heart the idea of “having a kickabout”. Arsenal certainly asserted its dominance, and left the field of play bruised and battered with heads high in spite of not scoring a goal for the first time in the league this season. The 0-0 draw was more than United deserved, and while we couldn’t pull out the three points we strove to actually play football until the very end against a side dedicated to time-wasting, stoppage of play, and getting by with everything the MWTW Madley was willing to let them.

Writ large, we dominated large stretches of the game, including most of the first half; Newcastle’s only real threat was a long shot from Wilson gathered by Ramsdale. We had success in the first twenty or so minutes down the right, combinations of White, Saka, Partey, and Mø creating potential breakthroughs that just didn’t quite come off. Credit to Newcastle’s defense for shutting down this route, or forcing us away from it with double- and triple-teams against the ball carrier (primarily Saka). They closed Martinelli/Xhaka/Z/Mø down the same way on the left as the game progressed. Saka had a shot saved in the first five minutes, and shortly after that Martinelli crossed for Xhaka to hit the side netting after good work from Saka carrying the ball across the field from defense. There were some other nice moments, including a great turn by Eddie on a ball in defense; he ran half the field with the ball before cutting back to Xhaka. Saka would have been through on goal if Granit hadn’t miskicked his pass.

We kept making intricate strides through their defense after passing the ball in a no-longer-death horseshoe, and yet we couldn’t make the final ball match some of the quality of the buildup. Newcastle’s reaction to all this was to play on the break, foul rotationally, and waste time, from the very early parts of the game. In the 20th minute Joelinton was down, and about five minutes later Bruno and Wilson were carded for kicking Eddie and Saliba, respectively. MA8 was haranguing the fourth official, who really, really wanted him to stay in his box. Our defense was gritty and composed in spite of the type of football Stok…er…Newcastle was “trying” to play.

In the second half one would have expected more of the same, but Newcastle came out and strove to actually play football for a few minutes. Even then they reverted to type. On a break early on Xhaka was adjudged to have “fouled” Wilson. Xhaka touched both of Wilson’s shoulders, but lightly, and Wilson dove like cryptocurrancy after exchange fraud. After a poor freekick by Trippier, Ramsdale nearly handed Newcastle a lifeline with poor play from the back, his pass out tipped by Wilson to Almiron at the edge of the box. Only a sliding block by Xhaka prevented Almiron from waltzing in on goal, and in the end our defense regrouped enough that none of his teammates could get a touch on his cross across the box.

By the 57th minute Newcastle’s non-Stoke nature had been exhausted, and earned two more quick yellow cards. The first came when Joelinton tripped Saka at the edge of the box reaching to get the ball; to be fair, he did get a slight touch on the ball, but had to trip Saka over to do so (Saka would have gotten the ball, I think, had he not had to deal with Joelinton’s leg). The second was for a combination of timewasting and stupidity on Almiron’s part. He kept creeping further and further over the 10-meter foam line after Madley told him to stop. And then came, probably, the moment of the game.

Saka took the freekick, looping it in towards goal. Pope punched away, and on the recycle Mø’s hopeful punt was gathered by a grateful Pope. However, the MWTW missed a very, very obvious hold of Gabriel’s shirt by Burn, who pulled Gabriel to the ground by it without sanction. Given Madley’s penchant for punishing shirt-pulling, having given out three yellow cards during this very game for that sort of foul, somehow Burn’s action did not even warrant a VAR check. There was a VAR check on Gabriel’s “foul” on Burn at the end of the first half, surely this was reviewable? I’m not really sure why it wasn’t…

Moments later Burn put his elbow into Saka’s mouth just inside the penalty area; it was an accident, but it prevented Saka from trying for Partey’s lofted ball. I’ve seen those given, too, in other areas of the pitch, but no, not by Mr. Madley. Also, a question for the Madman: is the corner quarter circle no longer the limit for placing the ball on a corner kick? This is something, I suppose, for the PGMOL to address (ha!), but it seems like the ball is getting further and further away from the line with each passing week, whenever the corner is on the side opposite the linesman. I can’t say Arsenal isn’t guilty of this, but it speaks to the laxity and variability with which games in the PL are refereed.

Arsenal re-asserted their dominance after Saka recovered from Burn’s elbow. Martinelli curled a right-footed shot to the far corner that was caught by Pope. Saka drove down the right, evaded one defender at the edge of the box, then had Joelinton poke away the ball for a corner as Saka bore down on goal. Eddie made a great turn at the top of the box and drove into the box; his pass to Martinelli was cut out and made its way through to Pope to smother.

In the 75th minute Tomi came in for White. We came at them repeatedly, and had a number of corners that we just couldn’t convert into anything meaningful; Gabigol put one header just past the far post from Mø’s corner. Newcastle kept falling over at the slightest touch, kicking the ball away, and complaining to Madley, wasting more and more time. By the 87th minute it was clear Newcastle were running on fumes; St.-Maximin replaced Willock to try to give Newcastle some sort of energy. Willock had had a rough day. While Partey purred in the engine room, he physically dominated Willock in a way I haven’t seen since Arsenal got the Partey started.

And then we had our best chance of the game. Partey and Gabriel played keep ball out by the center circle, then Gabriel put through a beautiful ball to Xhaka, who simply let it carom over his foot for Eddie to run on to. His left-footed strike was excellent; unfortunately Pope’s left-foot save was equal to it. It would have been a fitting goal for Eddie to have scored. He worked really hard today, playing in the half spaces that Jésus usually occupies out towards the halfway line, using his strength to back down and/or turn defenders, and came closest of all to scoring to win the game for us. In the three games since we’ve lost Gabriel Jésus he has shown himself to be a formidable replacement. It’s unfortunate he can’t play every minute of every game until GJ gets back. Note to our board: BUY A BACKUP STRIKER IN JANUARY!

That was the end of the 90 minutes, and *gasp* there were only 5 additional minutes added for all the time wasting Newcastle put forward. According to one observer the game involved only 53 actual minutes of football, the rest was time wasted. There has to be a better way… In stoppage time Tomi came a long distance to cut out a pass on a Newcastle break. Nearly every time Arsenal were threatening we overhit our final ball, or just didn’t have the right touch. At the end of stoppage Xhaka’s crossed ball hit Murphy’s arm from close range inside the box. VAR gave nothing (and I think rightly so, there was nowhere else for his arm to be as he turned away from the ball), but it spurred handbags between Arteta and Howe, mostly thrown from the Arsenal manager’s tactical area. The whistle blew shortly thereafter, and the draw was on the cards.

If you’re still awake and reading this far down the page, remember what I said in the opening paragraph: we left the field of play bruised and battered with heads high. We were clearly the better side, and if we’d gotten the rub of the green, a review of certain fouls, and a few more minutes of stoppage time I think we could have pulled out a win. As it is we’re still 8 points ahead of City with their game in hand against Chelsea on Thursday, and 9 ahead of Newcastle with our game in hand. Our 44 points from 17 games still specs out to nearly 2.6 points per game, or 98 points if we can keep it up over a whole season. We may not do that, we may not win the league, but I am so proud of the way we played today in spite of Stoke-upon-Tyne’s visit to our house.

A note to the board: INVEST IN JANUARY and we just might make this a season that sets the foundation for the next decade or two. We might still if no investment is forthcoming, but if that is the case it’ll be down to an amazing group of players and a manager who infuses intelligence, passion, and grit into his players, allowing them to play with flair, wit, and joy. Aren’t we all enjoying this so far? I know I am.


43 Drinks to “Not-quite-Dominance Asserted as Arsenal Draws Stoke United-upon-Tyne”

  1. 1
    Esso says:

    Cheers scuz!

  2. 2
    scruzgooner says:


  3. 3
    Countryman100 says:

    Ollie from the last drinks can you email me?

  4. 4
    Countryman100 says:

    Hi Scruz. You very much saw the same game as I did at the ground which was loud and proud in support of our team. Driving home I was staggered at the pundits on the radio (and even the odd Arsenal fan) saying our failure to score showed that Eddie wasn’t up to the job. Indeed, I am told that the rapidly declining G.Neville was of the same opinion on the tellybox.

    I thought Eddie had his best game for us last night and was unlucky not to score. I do think that he is up to the job. Holding that view does not mean we shouldn’t buy reinforcements for the front three because, as you rightly say Scruz, they can’t play every game and we only had Vieira as an option from the bench last night. Our wonderful Captain did not have a good game last night, whether because Newcastle played him well or because he had an off night I’m not sure. He kept trying to loft passes to Saka over Burns who has a sideline as a Lurch look a like, which was never going to work. Trippier, damn his Spurs eyes, did a number on Martinelli that restricted his usual strides into the box. Saka and Partey were magnificent.

    There is an old saying in football that if you can’t win, don’t lose. Eight points clear with 21 games to go is an enviable position to be in and the crowd thought so to as they warmly applauded the team from the pitch. I heard no angry muttering as I walked from the ground, just statements like “was that all Newcastle had?”. Like the author, I am loving this season. I would have settled for seven from nine over the Christmas period.

  5. 5
    Ollie says:

    Cheers scruz! Yep, great report. Also agree with C100 there. Reservations about Eddie are possible but absolutely nothing wrong with him last night. Email on its way shortly.

  6. 6
    bt8 says:

    The game I saw scruz. Thanks for your detailed and well considered report. I was proud of our players last night but not so much of the referee.

  7. 7
    Trev says:

    Cheers scruz, nothing to disagree with there – and it seems quite a few, including me, agree with you that Newcastle came to play like a mega rich Stoke – park the bus, foul whenever necessary, waste time and try to Nick a goal from a set piece by filling the opposing goal mouth with giants.

    If that’s all you have then fine – irruption to the opposition to break you down, which they should be allowed to do with fair and consistent protection, on both sides, from the referee.

    The number Trippier did on Martinelli was 2 – or 3. He was double and at times triple marked every time he got the ball. Nothing wrong with that but it left the “exciting” Newcastle team nothing much to attack with. It was clearly their plan to Stoke us out of it, but it showed how poorly they still compare with us as a footballing side.

    Eddie Nketiah ? Doing a super job of covering for a top, top player.

  8. 8
    TTG says:

    That is a very fair and accurate report and one that captures the atmosphere of a frustrating night . I agree with most of what has been said . I thought Eddie had a terrific game . The rat-faced Neville is increasingly resembling a bitter man with insights that are some way off the mark. While the ‘ handball’ was not a pen I would have loved someone on the panel to point out that it would have been given to the home team in front of the Stretford End or the Kop . The officiating was atrocious . Medley had no feel for the game.His lack of personality matched Newcastle perfectly . They had no personality at all other than cynical obduracy .
    A few slight concerns – they will be patted back probably but they are entirely my own views
    – we ultimately need a better keeper than Ramsdale . Pope at the other end is a much tidier keeper but probably less good with his feet .
    – Xhaka has been brilliant this season but his lack of creativity at home and his tendency to slow attacks cost us . I thought Vieira was worth bringing on in the last fifteen minutes. ( Patrick or Fabio either would have done a job)
    – we need to see ESR soon. He’s been largely missing for the best part of a year . He would have been a great option yesterday . He is a very fragile boy
    – we will run Eddie into the ground if we don’t sign another striker
    – Partey is a superb holding midfielder, everything we hoped he was when we signed him. He is a very canny player who doesn’t overfoul ( please note Granit – or Gannet ( nod to Trev! ) . We will miss him hugely if he isn’t available
    – it’s not fashionable but I much prefer Tierney to Zinchenko at left back . He is a more dynamic attacking option and a better defender

  9. 9
    bathgooner says:

    Great report scruz. As others have said, very much the match I saw. Although it was a frustrating night out due largely to the ineptitude of the referee, Madeley, who early on demonstrated that he had lost control of the game giving Newcastle players carte blanche instead of cartes jaunes to tug, wrestle and block our players while ignoring time wasting to a degree that was incomprehensible given every other refereeing performance in recent times. The VAR referee, Atwell, was complicit in ignoring the most blatant shirt pulling in the box that you will ever see. No agenda? You’re having a laugh!

    I thought Arteta’s post-match comments were spot on. A superb effort by the team against a surprisingly negative opponent given their previous performances this season. Three man teaming up by defenders on right and left to stop Saka and Martinelli. Crowd scenes in the centre for Nketiah and Odegaard to negotiate. Our final ball just wasn’t up to snuff today and we shot over the bar too often. Of course we should have been awarded two pens: Burn’s attempt to get Gabriel’s shirt that stopped him getting his head on a cross and some stripes twat’s wrestling of Eddie to the ground. The late appeal for hand ball was very optimistic but worth a try given that the referee should by then have realised that he had failed to award at least one nailed on pen earlier and awarded that soft one (seen them given) as an act of contrition.

    Although I would have selected KT3 as a starter because I expected the Toon to attack ferociously down their right flank, I thought Zinchenko had one of his best games in an Arsenal shirt, recycling the ball well and probing repeatedly while not being embarrassed in his defensive duties. However I would have subbed KT3 on with 20-30 minutes left just to change the dynamic on that flank as his touch-line forays and low crosses might have enhanced our attacks while allowing Martinelli to vary his movement off the flank. Ødegaard cannot be faulted for effort but he wasn’t quite at his previously worldie level of the previous two games and that probably blunted our effort a tad.

    The front three were terrific and must all be rested next week for the NLD. If we have only a big kid to play up front alongside Marquinos, Vieira and (hopefully) ESR – so be it. If there isn’t a new signing to add, c’est la vie. With this threadbare a squad we simply have to prioritise the league and UEL. If we need their help for 20-30 minutes to beat Oxford we can add the first teamers from the bench.

    BTW, in case you are in any doubt, in the words of Le Boss, I think Madeley and Attwell are a disgracee to their ‘profession’.

  10. 10
    TTG says:

    Perhaps this might be our starting team at Oxford ?
    Cedric Tomayisu Holding Tierney
    Elneny Sambi
    Marquinhos Vieira ESR
    Butler- Odeyeji ( or Mbappe)

  11. 11
    Las says:

    Wow scruz, what a superb report! Thanks!
    And the metaphor, likening the Barcodes to Stoke, wow, that’s a slap in the face. We’ve seen the same match nothing to add really. Only one thing comes to my mind this is a sort of acknowledgement of the superiority of Arsenal, isn’t it? We are talking about a team that is aspiring to be the EPL Champion and not some loose team fighting against relegation like Stoke or the old Big Sam’s Bolton. And still, they needed all the black arts and the referee to keep us at bay.
    This was an annoying draw but we can be proud.

  12. 12
    Bathgooner says:

    I recall a very similar match when Mancini’s Shitteh, already primed by hundreds of thousands of pounds of talent and hailed by the vacuous UK sports hacks as a new competitive force came to the Emirates and barely crossed the halfway line because they were frightened to go toe to toe with one of our exciting teams and wanted simply to take a point. I can’t remember the year. It may have been the game we won 1-0 with a late drive by a certain mA8. I sincerely hope that the trajectory of this latest oil-doped club does not mirror the subsequent trajectory of that one.

    That’s the team I have in mind, TTG @10 though we may not want to cup-tie Cedric.

  13. 13
    Countryman100 says:

    I was there for that one Bath. We did a Posnan after Mikel smashed it home. Very happy memories.

  14. 14
    North Bank Ned says:

    Lovely match report, Scruz. I’d say we saw the same game except I saw hardly any of it courtesy of a choppy stream whose performance appears to have been on a par with the ref’s. The consensus of the elders of this fine establishment is that you nailed ii, so I will take your words as gospel.

    As for Neville G, the only hope of thinking men is that he will spontaneously self-combust when we win the league.

  15. 15
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@8: You raise a couple of your long-standing concerns, Ramsdale’s keeping and ESR’s fragility. I share your concern over the latter, less so the former, as, like Jens or your great chum, Bob Wilson, Ramsdale brings a certain chemistry to the defence that is invaluable. I suspect Eddie will be happy to be run into the ground if it means he is playing regularly. I have long held that he would prove a top striker if he got a decent run of games. That said, he will need to be rested at some point. I wonder if the solution to your Tierney and Xhaka concerns is to rotate Zinchenko with Xhaka rather than KT3.

  16. 16
    bt8 says:

    Ned, I like your idea of rotating Xhaka with Zinchenko. At least I would love to see how it works out.

  17. 17
    bt8 says:

    I’ve heard rumors that Arsenal may be trying to sign Declan Rice of West Ham. He would be a very good signing and it would look like genius if we suffer an injury to Thomas.

  18. 18
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks scruz!
    Newcastle were very disappointing as I had hoped they might have the balls to give us a game. Anyway, fuck ‘‘em and on we go.

    The team for the Oxford game will be much changed but I think MA will probably play a few more regulars than we expect.

  19. 19
    bt8 says:

    Rice turns 24 this month so has 6 years on Thomas.

  20. 20
    TTG says:

    If we achieve CL qualification next season , particularly if it is as champions , we will be a very credible home for Declan Rice , Jude Bellingham or Alexis McAllister . It has been assumed ( partly because of Rice’s friendship with Mason Mount ) that Rice was certain to join Chelsea but if they miss out I doubt he’d leave for a non- CL club.
    Competition for elite players will be limited . Barca must run out of money, Juventus maybe banned and Real Madrid have midfield riches already in Camavinga and Tchouameni , aside from Modric, Kroos and Valverde . The big competition is Citeh, PSG and Man United as well as Newcastle . I’m not totally convinced by Rice myself but he will be more mobile than GZ. On a separate note I have been hugely impressed by Mitomo at Brighton, the Japanese lad. He’d be a fine alternative to Mudryk . Brighton seem to have brilliant recruitment especially in South America and Potter May rue his move when he sees the car crash building up at the Bus Stop

  21. 21
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@20: Mitoma’s stats suggest he is going through a purple patch; his strike rate and assist numbers are close to Martinelli’s this season (although Gabi’s on examination are more down from last season than I had expected). The Japanese would undoubtedly be cheaper than Mudryk.

    I wonder what the reaction will be if we get gazumped by Boehly’s billions, and the Ukrainian ends up at the Bus Stop. Lack of ambition or sensible stance against being extorted into overpaying?

    Boehly seems to be following the Arsenal rebuild blueprint: hire a manager with a clear vision, buy him the (young) players to fit and prune the old wood, and then give him time to build a new team regardless of short-term results.

  22. 22
    Bathgooner says:

    And, Ned @21, Abramovich and Moaninho’s early strategy – don’t bother with your own scouting system, watch who Arsenal go for then move in with a gazumping offer.

    If Mudryk goes to the Chavs over Arsenal then more fool him. I think the majority of the Arsenal fanbase are unconvinced that paying over £85m for Mudryk is a smart move given how few top level games he has played and how short his career has been to date. Of the ten UK signings for over £80m, only VVD can be regarded as an unqualified success. £21m for 6 months of Felix is a far better punt IMHO albeit still a rip off. That still leaves a tidy sum for another player or even two!

  23. 23
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Great match report Scruz! Sorry for the delayed comments.

    We played well. The new money-doped team had no original idea, was scared to actually play football, and even after doing a very good impression of a Tony Pullis team they should still have lost if two obvious penalties were awarded.

    We need strengthening in this window. Whether we are leading the title chase or not. We need strengthening because we cannot just play with the same front four in all PL matches. It would be doing a disservice to the excellence of that front four (five once we have Jesus back), as some rest and recovery will see them continue to flourish and dominate even towards the end of the season and not run out of stream.

  24. 24
    North Bank Ned says:

    bath@22: Fair points. Pepe was in the 80 million euro rather than pound club, but that worked out well…

  25. 25
    TTG says:

    Arteta is very strong on tactical structures and his midfield re-envisioning has been extremely effective . Partey plays holding midfield to perfection.If he gets injured he would be almost impossible to replace . Granit has been liberated to play further forward .This works better away than at home against a deep block . Succession planning will be taking place . I think Rice would be an option to replace Xhaka but so might Charlie Patino . We need to know what Sambi can provide and Monday will be instructive. I didn’t watch Morocco in the WC but they apparently had two top-class central midfielders . Molinkivic – Savic might be a worthwhile buy ( and someone who could replace Partey or combine with him ) but another player who would appeal to Arteta is Ruben Neves .. None of these options will come cheap though !

  26. 26
    scruzgooner says:

    sorry to read jordan nobbs has left the club for villa. i always enjoyed her, she had a bit of dennis in some of her play. devoted to the club, and seems a genuinely nice person. best of luck!

    thanks all. onwards and upwards after that game. really i remain unimpressed with hose’s vision for success.

  27. 27
    Sancho Panza says:

    Izzy Christiansen on 5 live defending Mickel Arteta’s actions on the touch line against gimp face Sutton. Well said Izzy.

  28. 28
    Trev says:

    TTG, if Partey got injured I assume Granit would be our rock in midfield ?

  29. 29
    OsakaMatt says:

    @28 Think that’s a stone-cold certainty Trev, despite his occasionally sedimentary style

  30. 30
    North Bank Ned says:

    Scruz@26: Jordon Nobbs hasn’t been getting the playing time at Arsenal she would want. With a World Cup looming, she’ll be desperate to be starting regularly to have a shot of getting back into the England squad. She is 30 and has had two major injuries in recent seasons, so moving on is probably a win-win for all parties. She had a fantastic Arsenal career and leaves with her place in the club’s pantheon secure.

  31. 31
    Up4GrabsNow! says:

    Great match report. If other teams see Newcastle as blueprint on how to frustrate us, we need a Plan B. Maybe that’s ESR but we also need to start to see something from Vieira.

  32. 32
  33. 33
    Sancho Panza says:

    Not surprising Chelsea lost last night playing a keeper who appeared to have no upper limbs!

  34. 34
    North Bank Ned says:

    Club has been charged by FA with failing to control players over their protests about not getting a handball penalty in the 95th moment against Newcastle.


    Let’s see how consistently that standard is applied to other clubs for the rest of the season. I am guessing even upper limbless keepers will have enough fingers to count the occurrences.

  35. 35
    North Bank Ned says:

    moment = minute. Damn spillchucker.

  36. 36
    bt8 says:

    How come nobody ever spells spillchucker incorrectly?

  37. 37
    North Bank Ned says:

    That is one of the world’s great ontological questions, bt8.

  38. 38
  39. 39
    North Bank Ned says:

    bath@38: certainly an initiative to be applauded. Time-wasting is a bane of the game. Implementation will be key. Stopping the clock when the ball is out of play works better for sports that are structured as a sequence of plays, like American football, than it would for a flow game like football, which seems better suited to an added time approach, especially as the ball being put into touch and free kicks awarded are a natural part of the game and the time-wasting comes when players take unnecessarily long to take the throw-in, goal kick or corner, or impede the taking of the free kick by not retreating the requisite 10 yards. Perhaps borrowing the shot clock from basketball would be an answer to that; take the throw or kick within 10-15 seconds, say, or turn the ball over to the opposition. The devil will be in the details of any solution, of course, but I have long thought there might be a case for a fourth (fifth?) official to have the equivalent of a chess clock that they could stop and start every time there was an interruption to play of more than a few seconds as a way of tallying the time lost. It would still be somewhat subjective, but probably yield added times even longer than seen in the recent World Cup.

  40. 40
    TTG says:

    Beware Richard Keys .
    The very scary Martin Keown is coming for you !
    Yesterday on TalkShite
    When asked on TalkSPORT if Arteta had crossed the line during Arsenal’s draw with Newcastle, Keown claimed: “It didn’t offend me.“Who was it, Richard Keys? Is he still working Richard? I think Richard’s had a little go. What’s he having a go at?“I think he’s just trying to create a headline because he’s on the other side of the world and no one’s really listening.“But Arteta knows how to behave and he’s been outstanding in what he’s done this season.“They’re a million miles from winning something because Man City find a way – that’s what you’re up against – and they’re ten years ahead in terms of what they’ve been building. Nevertheless, I think Arsenal are doing really well.”TalkSPORT presenter Alex Crook subsequently said, “That was an audio equivalent of a two-footed Keown tackle by the way” to which Keown responded, “I hope he’s listening.”
    He’s behind you Keysey- and he knows how to hurt !

  41. 41
    North Bank Ned says:

    Another standout performance by MWTW Madley, I see.

  42. 42
    North Bank Ned says:

    A trip to the Oillands or the Bus Stop in the next round if we beat Oxford.

  43. 43
    Bathgooner says: