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Now, to Decode the Barcodes

Two or three months ago when I was looking at the end-of-season fixture list, I noticed Liverpool, Manchester City and Newcastle (all away) within a few weeks of each other and wished we could have replaced those three with a string of easier fixtures.  The first two of those didn’t go exactly to plan, and the third one, this Sunday afternoon at St. James’ Park, will be a stern test indeed.  The giant computer in the sky, or perhaps the Google employee who oils it, has decreed that the most likely outcome is a Newcastle win (a 38% probability), followed by an Arsenal win (36%) and a draw (26%).  If the odds seem to be against us, let me assure you the most important number in that equation is 36, and it is on our side.

In this fixture last May the Geordies came away with a 2-0 win punctuated by a second half Ben White own goal and a late Bruno Guimaraes strike that put to rest the Gunners’ Champions League aspirations.  In the reverse fixture this January the sides stalemated in a nil-nil draw, the first match of the season that Arsenal failed to win at home.  I don’t know how we are going to overcome these markers of recent history but we must do so to keep our flickering title hopes alive, and something tells me that Arsenal might just manage to grab the points, especially if Gabriel is fit to start.  

The Opposition 

Just in case you haven’t noticed, a trip to Newcastle is a lot tougher prospect these days than it was a few seasons ago, as they have found an effective mix featuring aggression, talent and tactics.  The Barcodes sport the league’s stingiest defence overall, and they have lost only once, to Liverpool, in their 16 home matches so far this season, having won ten and drawn five, including a 3-3 draw with Manchester City.  

Our opponents are currently on a four match home win streak with victories against Wolves, Manchester United, Tottenham (by 6-1), and Southampton; and as none other than Ian Wright was quoted this week, “Eddie Howe is doing unbelievable things… you saw what they did to Tottenham the other week. Teams are going to Newcastle now and they’re afraid.”  Maybe so but that doesn’t mean the lads should or will be scared once they start kicking the little round ball around the pitch.

Arsenal XI

Late in Tuesday’s game Gabriel got what my TV screen suggested could be a knock to the ankle, but our eyewitness correspondent 21st Century Gooner thought it appeared to be a groin strain.  In any case our stalwart Brazilian centre half was replaced by Rob Holding about ten minutes from the end.  Mikel Arteta will be hoping he won’t have to make do without both halves of his first choice defensive pairing, and on Friday he offered this update: “We will have to see tomorrow how Gabriel is, but yeah he could not finish the game so that was a big sign for us.”  

The good news defensively is that Jakub Kiwior put in a very creditable performance in his first league start against the Chavs, looking solid on the ground and in the air.  If Gabriel can’t make the starting eleven then Holding should come in on the right, and be paired with Kiwior who would shift back to his more natural left side.  Otherwise, Partey should come back in for Jorginho, and Martinelli for Trossard in this familiar-looking side:


White — Kiwior — Gabriel — Zinchenko

Ødegaard — Partey — Xhaka

Saka — Jesus — Martinelli

‘Holics’ Pound

Dave Faber, the Goonerholic himself, was never one to prognosticate an Arsenal loss, even in the most difficult of circumstances.  As Dave sometimes did, I am going with my heart even though we are in difficult fixture territory, and predicting a 2-1 Arsenal win on goals by Jesus and Martinelli.  If you fancy an even more delightful scenario make that 3-1 with Kiwior adding his first goal in an Arsenal shirt late in injury time.  My head tells me I could be getting a bit hopeful with both predictions but let’s keep our noses to the grindstone and see how much better we can do than last year at this time and place.

That’s yer lot, ‘holics, now go out and enjoy it.  When, and if, the Gunners are carting away the three points with their heads held high, remember that you heard it here first.

75 Drinks to “Now, to Decode the Barcodes”

  1. 1
    Gooner_KS says:

    Great preview bt, 3:1 to the good guys. I’d still start Trossard (Martinelli as his early 2nd half replacement) and why not Kiwi to get his first Arsenal goal.

  2. 2
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Thanks bt8 for another of your fact-filled, clear-eyed, optimistic previews.

    If everyone who had started on Tuesday are fit I expect the same starting eleven. I think Partey wasn’t playing with full fitness, and combined that with the extra physical effort to play from deeper in absence of Saliba it had started to take toll on his recovery speed and close control on half-turns. Jorginho doesn’t offer Partey’s verticality but is an effective foil to the nomadism of Zinchenko and more and more “advanced 8” of Xhaka. I was rather unimpressed when we brought in our Brazitalian as he seemed to be too conservative for our fast-and-progressive style, but I get the more structural role he plays now with all the adventures happening around him.

    I have a strange feeling ESR will have a key role to play in this game and will remind us all about his qualities. 🙂

    Come on Arsenal!

  3. 3
    OsakaMatt says:

    Ah excellently optimistic preview thanks bt8 👍
    Earlier in the week I predicted a 4-3 win and will stick
    with that, their vaunted defence hasn’t been as effective
    in the last couple of months as they have played more
    aggressively than earlier in the season. Looking forward
    to shutting them up.

  4. 4
    OsakaMatt says:

    I think Jorginho will start too.
    Not so sure about Trossard as i just felt he was withdrawn very early in the Chelsea game.

  5. 5
    Bathgooner says:

    I love your title and like the optimism of your preview, bt8. I expect that MA8 and his players will share that. If you don’t believe you can win then you’re very unlikely to do so.

    I share the expectation of others to see Jorginho rather than Partey and hope that Gabriel can shrug off whichever ailment first slowed him then hobbled him on Tuesday.

    Go win, Gunners.

  6. 6
    Noosa Gooner says:

    Thanks bt8
    Win required – simples.

  7. 7
  8. 8
    North Bank Ned says:

    A review cheerfully on the front foot, bt8. Bravo. It will be a tough game, no doubt, but a must-win. I would be delighted by your 3-1 and as happily take your 2-1.

  9. 9
    bt8 says:

    Allardyce already up to his mind games as he prepares to take on Pep with Leeds, as reported on Sky: “While preparing for his return to the Premier League dugout on Saturday, Allardyce daydreamed about the riches at Guardiola’s disposal.

    “I was thinking the other day, he’s got two unbelievable teams,” says Allardyce. “Which one would win the league? Would they finish first and second? He seems to have two highly-intelligent, quality players in every single position.”

    Go Sam, you de man.

  10. 10
    bt8 says:

    Thanks all for reading and commenting so kindly above.

  11. 11
    OsakaMatt says:

    The new manager bounce didn’t last long at Leeds.

  12. 12
    bt8 says:

    Unlike the title of the famous album by The Who, they could be dead at Leeds.

  13. 13
    Countryman100 says:

    Nice preview bt8. I was at SJP last May and frankly we were second best by some distance. This year, I again will be ascending to the gods in the Leazes stand in what will be my final away match of the season. I would like my revenge, and to walk back to my Quayside hotel in what is one of favourite English cities amongst fellow triumphant Gooners and not, as last year, to the satisfied taunts of the Geordies. I reckon a tight, tense 2-1 to us.

  14. 14
    TTG says:

    Is the season still on? In reality it ended on the night Citeh beat us but this is is a big test for us and we will do well to win it. 1-1 I think
    Good luck to the Countrymen!

  15. 15
    North Bank Ned says:

    A draw or better at St James’s secures second place. Otherwise, we shall still need three points from our final three games. For a host of reasons, we need a strong finish to the season, however.

    Fat Sam had never done us any favours so I wasn’t expecting any from him today.

    Annoyingly, Lamps first win means they are now safe from relegation at the Bus Stop.

  16. 16
    North Bank Ned says:

    bt8@12: It could have been Live at Hull, where the band played the next day, but some of the recording mics weren’t working properly.

  17. 17
    Esso says:

    Cheers bt8!

  18. 18
    bt8 says:

    Ned, Fans of alliteration everywhere have enjoyed Live at Leeds more than they could have enjoyed Live at Hull, regardless of sound quality issues.

  19. 19
    bt8 says:

    Cheers Esso!

  20. 20
    Trev says:

    Nice one, bt8 !

    Sincerely – desperately- hoping Gabriel is fit. I wonder if his fourteen sit downs on Tuesday were a little bit the shithousery to stem the Chav momentum. He is learning well from Ramsdale 😏

    A 2-1 win would be marvellous – a draw guarantees second place. The financial fiddlers continue to sweep all before them – free of all criticism from the meedja 😡

    Come on you Reds !

  21. 21
    bt8 says:

    Trev, Speaking of meedja toadies, the NBC announcer covering Liverpool-Brentford, after God Save the King, played to mark the coronation, was completely drowned out by chants of “Liverpool, Liverpool” commented only something like “moving right along” (can’t remember his exact words) despite obvious looks of embarrassment pictured on the faces of Salah and several other Liverpool players. An interesting scene to say the least that certainly was deserving of more comment than the tepid first half that followed.

  22. 22
    North Bank Ned says:

    bt8@18: Inhaling in Hull, perhaps.

  23. 23
    bt8 says:

    Most assuredly, Ned 😀

  24. 24
    bt8 says:

    Here’s a tasty one with four T’s Ned:

  25. 25
    bt8 says:

    Another interesting preview. Pundit Kieran Gibbs also predicting 2-1 to the Arsenal.

  26. 26
    Sancho Panza says:

    Thanks Bt8 for the preview. More ammunition to prove that pundits are lazy twats.
    Let’s completely ignore the fact that Newcastle won’t be able to play for a nil nil draw at home.
    Ooh the crowd are noisy. These are professional footballers ffs.
    Their players are bigger!
    I wouldn’t swap any players from their squad.
    3-1 to the Arsenal. Come on boys.

  27. 27
    Noosa Gooner says:

    Steve Nichols
    Hates Arsenal
    Still bitter about Anfield ’89
    Ha Ha Ha

  28. 28
    OsakaMatt says:

    Spot on about Nicol, time for him to let it go really. Just face it that he and his mates bottled it on the day and move on.

    Apart from that, what SP said @26.

  29. 29
  30. 30
    bt8 says:

    If I’ve read the Championship table correctly there’s an interesting battle for last playoff spot going on in the last day of the season between Derby and Peterborough. At halftime Peterborough have gone ahead in the As it Stands table. Derby, playingvwith 10 men, are drawing 1-1 with Sheffield Wednesday (who have clinched third spot), 1-1 at halftime. If Derby can win their game their reward would be to play Wednesday again in the playoffs. Peterborough are leading their game by one goal at 4th placed Barnsley.

  31. 31
    bt8 says:

    Sorry, please read League One for Championship.

  32. 32
    bt8 says:

    Here’s the playoff situation in the Championship according to Goal:

    Burnley were the first team to secure automatic promotion and the title as league champions. Sheffield United ensured they will follow the Clarets up to the top flight a day after Burnley clinched the title.

    Luton Town and Middlesbrough have already secured their playoff places, opening up a gap in front of teams such as current top-six sides Coventry and Millwall, but with Sunderland, West Brom and Blackburn also capable of making the cut.

  33. 33
  34. 34
    Trev says:

    As I suspected @20 – he didn’t really look injured to me.

  35. 35
    bathgooner says:

    As we suspected,

    White, Kiwior, Gabriel, Zin
    Øde, Jorginho, Xhaka
    Saka, Jesús, Martinelli

    Go win, fellas.

  36. 36
    OsakaMatt says:


  37. 37
    Sancho Panza says:

    Hopefully we aren’t 5 down after 20 minutes.

  38. 38
    bt8 says:

    Hopefully for Newcastle their entire team hasn’t collapsed after 20 minutes.

  39. 39
    Sancho Panza says:

    Come on let’s beat then and shut up all these twats.

  40. 40
    Gooner_KS says:

    Of course if it was Haaland this would not be given

  41. 41
    OsakaMatt says:

    Kiwior did well to get his arm out the way

  42. 42
    Gooner_KS says:

    Let’s settle down and beat the hell out of bloody barcodes

  43. 43
    Sancho Panza says:


  44. 44
    Gooner_KS says:

    and Odegaard obliged, COYG!!

  45. 45
    OsakaMatt says:

    And just like that 1-0 Ode, beaut of a hit

  46. 46
    Gooner_KS says:

    Martinelli is better than most defenders, what a tackle

  47. 47
    OsakaMatt says:

    Sticky first 10 minutes but played well since the goal, much,much better than last year
    Cracking goal too, could have had another

  48. 48
    bt8 says:

    Come on you mighty Gunners

  49. 49
    Gooner_KS says:

    Good half, could have easily been 3-4 up

  50. 50
    OsakaMatt says:

    A wave to C100 👋
    Must have been a more enjoyable first half than last time.
    Same again 2nd half I hope

  51. 51
    Gooner_KS says:

    Oh Gabby why so heavy touch

  52. 52
    Gooner_KS says:

    Xhaka with a monster tackle

  53. 53
    Gooner_KS says:

    They are fucking thugs, and the ref has tolerated this the whole match

  54. 54
    North Bank Ned says:

    That was a well-won game. One of the best performances of the season.

    Well in for the half-ton, OM

  55. 55
    North Bank Ned says:

    Second place secured, too. I doubt if many would have turned that down if offered at the start of the season.

  56. 56
    OsakaMatt says:

    Quite agree Ned, lot of excellent performances today and a great result. Not many will keep a clean sheet there.

  57. 57
    Sancho Panza says:

    Agree with KS. They kicked their way through the game and the referee should have managed them better.

    No doubt they will bleat but we are a class above them without any dirty connections.

  58. 58
    TTG says:

    That was an excellent display of shithousery by us. Newcastle is an intimidating place to visit as I’m sure C100 will tell us and we survived well. It’s not possible , even with our quality to control games of that intensiry but it was a deserved victory
    Now we have created just a sliver of an opportunity- Everton away will be a bear pit and Citeh then play the two most awkward and very different teams they could meet sandwiched between two titanic games with Real Madrid.
    I will comment after the report on the match but I’m sensing a real change in Arteta’s thinking about midfield . Jorginho has already paid for himself but with CL football next season he has a big part to play . Something strange has happened with Partey – he may be knackered but we defended so much better with Kiwior than Capitola Rob because he has so much recovery pace . I also think we need to think seriously about letting Tierney go because he is a much better defender than Zinchenko .
    Great win

  59. 59
    bt8 says:

    My hat is off to Depressed Gooner whose FFL team knocked mine off in this week’s first round of the first ever HolicsRopeyLeague cup. I shoulda seen this cupset from a million miles away, but credit where credit’s due etc. etc.

  60. 60
    bt8 says:

    Brilliant effort and result by all the players today, and certainly up to 76 minutes or so when I had to take the management to lunch. How the referee had not handed out a pack of yellow cards by that time shall remain a mystery of the highest order.

  61. 61
    bt8 says:

    Raise your hand if you expected us to get more than 80 points this season, and still be in with a shout of getting 90 with three games to play.

  62. 62
    ClockEndRider says:

    Tumbleweed……..A fantastic performance. 2.3 points per game on average, home and away is pretty awesome. Of course it might even be higher – Martinelli vs United away, and of course Lee Mason’s , well, you decide, performance vs Brentford. When even PGMOL could stand no more and had to sack him…..

  63. 63
    Countryman100 says:

    More to follow but chant of the day:

    “You can stick your Saudi money up your arse
    You can stick your Saudi money up your arse
    You can stick your Saudi money
    Stick your Saudi money
    Stick your Saudi money up your arse”!

  64. 64
    OsakaMatt says:

    “Game management is something huge in the way Newcastle play and we had to better them at that”
    MA speaking after the game.

    Not sure why Howe was whining about the game or the penalty or for that matter why the ref was booed. Perhaps short-term memory loss has become a problem and I should be more sympathetic but Howe’s nonsense about Newcastle being a front foot team who like the ball in play seemed like rank hypocrisy to me.

    Anyway, looking forward to the match report and C100’s follow-up on our new chant…..

  65. 65
    ClockEndRider says:

    Classic managerial misdirection from the 3rd rate Howe. “We’re the victims here”. Yeah right, mate. You’re just Stoke with better PR. Northern shitkickers more at home on a rugby league pitch.

    Hope you had a great night out, C100! Away boys made a real racket, even though stuck up in the gods.

  66. 66
    North Bank Ned says:

    From our where are they now dept: Lacazette scored four of the goals, including a 100th-minute winner from the spot, as Lyon beat Montpellier 5-4, having been 4-1 down after 55 mins.

  67. 67
    North Bank Ned says:

    I also see Laca is the joint top scorer in Ligue Un with M’bappe on 24 and has been scoring at a rate of a goal every 107 mins played. Balogun has dropped to fifth with 18 goals, although that is three more than Messi.

  68. 68
    ecg says:

    Just watched the first half. We played well away against a team that has conceded the least numbers of goals in the league. And is it just me, or does Trippier look like an ugly Wayne Rooney?

  69. 69
    TTG says:

    I’m delighted for Laca that his return to France appears to have gone so well……but it also suggests that French football at club level might be just a tiny bit…pony . Laca was really struggling with us last year and while Balogun really has produced some quality performances this season it might suggest that we view his efforts through the prism of French club standards .
    Mind you I’d take that M’bappe off their hands if they asked nicely

  70. 70
    TTG says:

    Like the theme but it needs a bit of refashioning !

  71. 71
    Gooner_KS says:

    Great performances all around. Ramsdale of course, Kiwi was really good, he has the pace that Rob is so crucially missing, up front they were great, midfield was massive and I thought Jorginho was terrific, you could see his experience in every situation, saw some of his stats for yesterday, no.1 in passes, passes in final 3rd, chances created, possession won, ran 11km and he absolutely knew when to ‘slow’ the game down. Pushed hard Odegaard for the MOTM (who was brilliant). Arteta got the early Tierney sub for Zini spot on, we needed that.
    Keep the hope alive

  72. 72
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    ecg. Wayne Rooney looks like an ugly Wayne Rooney

  73. 73
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    The boss knows best and he sees the players everyday, but it is hard not to wonder how we’d have done in the games when we started Holding if we’d started Kiwior instead.

    Maybe those few extra weeks were vital for him to put in the performances he has in the last couple of matches. He has certainly looked good.if Guehi is not too expensive then I’d be very happy with him. Added to the three we have, and with Holding/White/Tomi as backup, we’d be solid.

    I do love Holding’s attitude. Even if he is too keen to put himself about and has still not learned to play to his strengths. A bit less Van Dyke and a bit more Steve Bould, please Rob!

  74. 74
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Absolutely cracking performance and 3 points. Really proud of the lads. The manager got it spot on!

  75. 75
    Bathgooner says: