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Please tell me someone recognises The Coffee Song in the title …?

Since Bukayo Saka limped out of the game against RC Lens on Tuesday evening, speculation had reached fever pitch (see what I did there) as to whether he could possibly be fit to start against Man City. It had seemed impossible but the issue was thrown into confusion by Mikel Arteta’s press conference claim that he would be “in contention” for a starting berth. I would like to declare at this point that I am in contention to share a hot date with Barbie film star, Margot Robbie, but my chances of final selection are about the same as Bukayo’s were today.

In the event City were deprived of the services of Rodri, de Bruyne and Stones, while despite all the encouraging speculation the Arsenal lined up without Saka, Martinelli and Thomas Partey, but with David Raya continuing in goal, he having been a part of the Brentford team that did the double over City last season. The stakes could hardly have been higher or the omens worse. Last season City only beat one team from the top eight away from home – Arsenal, and the Gunners had not beaten City in the league since Monday 21st December, 2015. However, whoever won today’s game would sit top of the league going into the upcoming International break.

Both teams started at a tempo and trying to press high up the pitch. It was heart in the mouth time after just 3 1/2 minutes when, with Raya floundering, Declan Rice headed a shot off the line. Arsenal countered after a terrific recovery challenge by Saliba to wrestle the ball from Cyborg, when Trossard found Jesus – in a non religious kind of way – and a short series of attacks on the City area ended with an offside against birthday boy, Ben White. Michael Oliver then got very confused and handed a card, though possibly not of the greetings variety, to Jorginho for a clumsy tackle which ended a City break on 10 minutes. It’s the sort of tactic City employ with impunity ten times a game but we know from experience how much Oliver likes to book an Arsenal man.

At that point things were looking shaky. David Raya had lost the calm composure of previous games and was lucky when a poor attempted clearance bounced narrowly wide off the challenging Alvarez’s leg. He was playing our defenders into trouble with some dubious short passes and hit a lot of uncharacteristically long balls which were not finding team mates. Bernardo Silva was booked for a bad challenge on Rice as he tried to deal with one of those dubious passes. Nketiah then shot wide from a clever pass by Zinchenko and Gary Neville was pleased to helpfully inform us that the striker had not found the far corner.

Kovacic was handed a yellow card for a nasty tackle through the back of Martin Odegaard. VAR checked for Serious Foul Play but ducked out of what probably should have been a red card. Gary Neville helpfully informed us that it was “orange”. See, the thing is, Gary, they don’t do those.

Raya then passed a horrible ball to Rice who was cut down by Kovacic. That should have been a second yellow and an early bath for Kovacic but Michael Oliver immediately and inexplicably waved all claims away and allowed him to continue unpunished. Even Gary Neville helpfully informed us that Kovacic should have gone. The first half ended after a double effort by Zinchenko from distance was blocked. Jesus had the beating of Gvardiol but could not find the final ball while, at the back, Saliba and Gabriel had assumed complete control of City’s forwards.

Half Time: Arsenal 0-0 Man City

Half time refreshments for your correspondent consisted of a can of Draught Guinness 0.0 Alcohol – brilliant and undistinguishable from the ‘real’ thing – and Cashews, Roasted Cashews, £4.20 a bag ! A far cry from the good old days of Percy Dalton’s on the North Bank. Ask your dads, kids !

If Arteta was serious recently about substituting goalkeepers, one would have thought David Raya unlikely to reappear for the second half. In fact, the only change was Gabriel Martinelli for Leo Trossard and the Brazilian was quickly into his all action style. Raya had had a halftime makeover, recovered his calm and suddenly could complete his long passes again – clearly now a tactic to bypass City’s massed troops in midfield and press for the second balls. We suddenly looked much more purposeful and forced an attack which culminated in a lofted pass from Zinchenko aimed at Bathgooner in North Bank Upper.

The Arsenal were now in control and Guardiola reacted on 67 minutes with a triple change – Stones, Nunes and Doku on; Lewis, Kovacic and Alvarez off.

Arteta responded with a triple change of his own on 74 minutes – Tomiyasu, Havertz and Partey on; Zinchenko, Nketiah and Jorginho off.

Partey was immediately pulling strings in the middle and his partnership with Rice instantly restored calm in front of our back four – one superb tackle from Rice again protecting our centre backs on 80 minutes. And then on 86 minutes …… IT happened. Tomiyasu to Havertz who rolled it to Martinelli who hammered a shot which deflected – hahahahaha ! – past a stranded Ederson. Cue mayhem – cue Limbs ! – and that was just me and Ted on the sofa. Ted is a Golden Retriever and seemed quite surprised !

The substitutions had worked to perfection. Thomas Partey’s languid, decisive style had further transformed the team after Martinelli’s introduction, although I personally think Rice, Gabriel and Saliba should all have been jointly awarded Man of The Match.

The 4 added minutes were efficiently seen out although Michael Oliver took one final opportunity to book another Arsenal player. Gabriel Jesus this time for not rushing the ball back quickly enough to Ederson, who elbowed our striker in the kidneys for his trouble and joined his fellow Brazilian in the book. Oliver blew for time just short of 95 minutes – cue more Limbs, although Ted looked slightly resigned this time and covered his ears with his paws as I turned up the TV volume and joined in the finale rendition of North London Forever.

Whatever Mikel Arteta said to the players at half time had been transformative. Two cagey teams started the afternoon by carefully sizing each other up. The Arsenal decided after 74 minutes “it’s up for grabs now !” (see what I did there, again) – so they went for it, and they took it !

The post match interview on Sky featured Gabriels Martinelli and Jesus while their similarly named pal, Magalhäes got his feet up in the changing room. If winning this Premier League eventually requires divine intervention, with 3 Gabriel Angels and a Jesus what can possibly go wrong ?

130 Drinks to “We’ve Got An Awful Lot Of Gabis From Brazil”

  1. 1
    TTG says:

    Great work Trev you describe the game that I saw ( whenI wasn’t holding a cushion over my face to blot out the early bloooers ) It was a very tense affair watching at home so I can only imagine the atmosphere there . The first twenty minutes were excruciating as Raya came to them with the distribution yips.( of which more later )
    If we win the league we will need major players to stand up in games like this . Rice, Saliba , White and Gabriel did this imperiously and Martinelli made such a difference in fact the three subs created the goal. It was a monumental effort and hopefully we have laid the City bock.
    Oliver’s decisions on Kovacic were inconsistent , lenient and wrong . If he is our best ref we have problems in our game
    Re Raya I remember Cech’s early problems. We replaced him with Leno because he was a better distributor and despite the evidence persisted with him over Martinez who was excellent with his feet for us . Then we jettisoned Leno for Ramsdale and now moved on to Leno . During the game I was getting messages that Raya has to go because he can’t distribute !
    I think from his comments after the match Arteta will stick with Raya but Ramsdale can’t have found that an easy watch . He is very unlucky to be out of favour .
    But we won a great victory 😃😃😃

  2. 2
    TTG says:

    Sorry should say ‘ moved to Raya not Leno ‘

  3. 3
    Ollie says:

    Cheers Trev.
    Great report of a great win!
    Props to Ted too!

    However, it looks like Michael Oliver wasn’t the only confused about handing a card to Jesus after ten minutes….as Jorginho is the one who was booked (otherwise, the late card mentioned for Jesus would definitely not have been greetings, but goodbyes).

  4. 4
    Ken says:

    You keep your hands off Barbie mate!

  5. 5
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks Trev, some fine early morning work and you’ve covered all the things I saw.
    Didn’t see some afters in the tunnel but apparently there was a set to with our set piece

    Bold statement from MA about Raya having some balls, and I guess TTG’s right about Raya keeping his place. To be honest he had me swearing at the tv a couple of times but we got the clean sheet in the end I suppose. It was a good time to start defending well at home.

    Fantastic way to go into the interlull

  6. 6
    Bathgooner says:

    Great match report, Trev. My visits to TNHOF are now much more irregular and it was a huge privilege to be there yesterday.

    As you observe, Raya gave us some early moments of anxiety but it seems that his calm in such circumstances and his willingness to follow instructions and play the ball out with short passes rather than to go long when under pressure are the reasons he is Arteta’s number one. That game was certainly a coming of age moment for this Arsenal team and your men of the match were mine too.

    While every man played his part, I think Jorginho should also get a special mention as his nous and steel were a key factor in our security despite his early yellow (sorted above). Jesús should also get a special mention as he showed himself to be by far our best option on the right if Saka is unavailable. What a difference Martinelli made in that second half! That lad is like a homing missile. Give him the ball and he heads for goal at full speed! it’s great to see him back.

    It’s a pity that another Interlull begins now as we could have used this result to build some winning momentum but it’ll make joining up with the Norwegian squad a much more pleasant experience for Martin Ødegaard who seemed to cover every blade of grass yesterday.


  7. 7
    Ollie says:

    Great points, baff. Glad you got to enjoy that day!
    And let’s just hope Rodri doesn’t try to take his frustration out on Odegaard again (sorry don’t know how to do the correct O on laptop keyboard), as he did last time Spain played Norway.

  8. 8
    Bathgooner says:

    Ollie, on a Mac or I-phone, to get a special symbol, simply keep your finger on the letter key with or without the caps shift and the special symbol options for that letter will appear – you then choose the number over the combo you require: ô, ö, ò, ó, œ, ø, ō or õ!

    Given that Gates based Windows on the Mac system, it’s probably the same if you’re using Windows.

  9. 9
    Ollie says:

    yeah, I know, works a treat on my phone or iPad, but no such luck on Windows with a normal keyboard.
    So I can only do OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOdegaard, if I keep my finger on long enough :-D.

  10. 10
    Bathgooner says:

    Ah. I always found PCs inferior. Designed for mere number crunchers rather than for creative minds.

  11. 11
    Countryman100 says:

    Thank you so much Trev for a great description of a momentous game. I’ve watched the full game twice now, once in the stadium and this morning on a recording of Sky’s coverage. Two very different experiences and contexts. On the tv, it was a defensive chess match. In the ground, the game had a huge intensity, with every single person totally engaged on the game. The songs weren’t the fun singing about individual players, but visceral urging of our team forward. Raya made us nervous in the first 30 minutes as a combination of his nervousness and City’s ferocious press meant he dithered with the ball at his feet. It was like watching Cech again. We got away with three big chances for City in the first 15 minutes. Frankly, on the North Bank, we were nervous. Gradually we got more and more into the game and the crowd volume went up.

    The turning point came at the start of the second half when Martinelli came on and the crowd roared. Suddenly when the ball got to the left wing Gabi turned and ran at Kyle Walker. Spaces appeared. Shots rained in on Ederson. The singing became constant.

    In the 86th moment, when many had settled for a point, our team had different ideas. City hung back and gave Thomas Partey 20 yards of space to run into. That allowed Tomi to run into the centre forward position where he nodded the accurate long ball to Havertz. He shielded it well and laid it back to Gabi who smashed it in via Akè’s face. Utter, utter pandemonium. I’ve been at most games at the Emirates since it opened and had a season ticket since 2008. I’ve seen some huge moments: TH14’s late winner against Man United; Arshavin’s dramatic goal against Barcelona; Welbeck’s late, late winner against Leicester and of course Reiss Nelson’s clean swing of his left foot against Bournemouth. But I have never, ever, heard the stadium as loud as when that goal went in on 86 minutes. It was a huge catharsis, a lifting of a massive mental block and inferiority complex against this remarkable City team. The sheer noise carried on through 90 minutes and the added on time with one nil to The Arsenal to the fore. . Then, as the players celebrated, the PA guy played the first few bars of North London Forever and the whole crowd joined in with verve and gusto. A very special moment.

    Roll of honour: Declan Rice, Willy Saliba, big Gabi, Gabi Jesus and of course Gabi Martinelli. All achieved without Saka. But overwhelmingly a team performance. We need fear no one now.

  12. 12
    Bathgooner says:

    C100 @11, that’s an excellent summary of the experience of watching that superb victory from within the ground. It was nerve-jangling, edgy and not at all pretty to watch. I too used the chess match description in discussion with Peter’s neighbour, Trevor, during the first half and it is a very apt analogy as is a heavyweight boxing championship bout between two world champions.

    I omitted to add to my earlier drink that our players are to be congratulated for the calm manner in which they saw out the victory after taking the lead. None of that nonsense of going for a second. A very mature performance all round.

  13. 13
    Countryman100 says:

    My five favourite moments of the game

    1) The goal

    2) The Rice sliding tackle on Nunes, then standing up with the ball and setting off upfield. Pocket well and truly picked.

    3) Benny Blanco nutmegging Doku on the touch line with minutes left.

    4) The combative chase and block into touch by Eddie in the first half. Really lifted the crowd.

    5) The chorus of North London Forever at the final whistle.

  14. 14
    Bathgooner says:

    I would add:

    6) Saliba stumbling and falling to the ground in an early challenge with Haaland as the cyborg rushed towards goal but immediately bouncing up with the ball at his feet!

    7) Rice taking the ball out of the air by raising his right foot to shoulder height (no-one near him to make it dangerous) on the edge of our box to block the through ball and launching forward to build an attack.

    8) Haaland bouncing off Saliba as he ran into our half, falling to the floor and crying like a baby. Live by the sword, mate…..die by the sword.

  15. 15
    TTG says:

    Drinks of the quality of C100’s above , backing up a brilliant match account are so important to keeping this blog alive and in the tradition of the Guvna who loved footballing debate especially about the Arsenal.
    We have shared some concerns in the What’s App group that many contributors use that instead of commenting here in the drinks . WA groups have their uses but you cannot adequately describe a game and an occasion like yesterday unless you have the opportunity to expand on your thoughts .
    If you are a regular reader of the blog but don’t contribute please reconsider. GHF is a very broad church . We have disagreements over the state of the club but above all we have really good exchanges on how we feel about the management, the team, the support, individual players and what it means in October 2023 to be a supporter of our very special club . So don’t be a stranger if you have views you’d like to share . All we ask is that we respect the traditions of the blog and are reasonably civil to each other !
    Remember it maybe a Virtual bar but real friendships are forged here

  16. 16
    North Bank Ned says:

    When I saw your name on the byline, Trev, I poured a fresh cup of coffee in honour of your title and settled down to luxuriate in the read. You did not disappoint. It is a delightful and entertaining match report, as ever, with the drier wit providing a touch of Artetaeque unpredictability and the pleasure enhanced by the particularity of the opponents beaten.

    I saw the tactical chess match that C100 watched in replay, while the intensity he felt within the stadium transformed into the behind-the-couch nervousness/cushion-over-the-face jitters of OM and TTG.

    The entire team was magnificent. The back four deserve all the praise they have got for dealing with City’s high press and shutting down Haarland, but the rest of the team starved him of service. Ten out of ten for that aspect of the game plan. Starting Jorginho was also a masterstroke to establish control from the outset, and Rice was masterful all game. Like all big players, he came up with big moments in a big game. Jesus played as if he had a point to prove. As Bath notes, he is our best option for the right wing when Saka is unavailable. Last but not least, Martinelli was the catalyst for the win — how we have missed his drive and directness.

    This was City’s first back-to-back league defeat in five and a half years. No matter how financially doped they are, that is a remarkable record of quality and consistency. Yesterday, they missed Rhodri and de Bruyne, especially Haarland, who seems almost human without the Belgian alongside him.

    Perhaps, most of all, they are missing Gundogan. Kovacic lacks the German’s guile as a midfielder and a rotational fouler. Flying into tackles with both feet off the ground and studs up, and it goes unpunished? I would say, give me a break, but I fear that is what could happen.

  17. 17
    BtM says:

    Excellent piece, Trev. Made me chuckle as always.

    Martinelli’s arrival changed the game. The starting front three could have played for the next month and still not scored. Jesus is a grand disruptor but he has much to learn about playing on the right wing. I was hoping for both ESR and Martinelli at half time for Eddie and Tross. Half a wish was better than none.

    Superb defending (apart from Raya wobbles) and Saliba has now been officially proclaimed the best young centre back on the planet, at least in both East Herts and The Kingdom.

    With Arsenal working hard to disenfranchise me, and a multitude of other silver ticket holders, I must say that it was a great pleasure to play 18 holes on a brilliantly sunny day, enjoy a sherbet on the course balcony before rolling into prime position on the half-way line at 4.29 pm without being jostled or felt up by the weapon feelers. Jeremy Aliadiere’s commentary is a hoot as a match accompaniment and the best bit, the trip home was completed in zero seconds flat without recourse to the vagaries of the chaps who often strike on the Anglian lines on a Sunday.

    I may invest in a friend like Ted. Sounds like a better companion on matchday than either of my clownfish Cesc and Robin.

    Keep smiling and win the next one.

  18. 18
    North Bank Ned says:

    The GHF Predictathon Leaderboard for Match Week 8 has been posted. Click on the GHF Contests tab to see who’s up, who’s down and who couldn’t be arsed to change position.

  19. 19
    bt8 says:

    Joyous result only matched by your joyful match report. Thank you Trev on a job very well and cleverly done!

  20. 20
    Ollie says:

    Cheers C100 and baff!
    It’s always interesting to get the view from the ground, as from the comfort of my sofa, I started to get very bored midway through the second-half after the excitement of the beginning of said half. So much that I briefly popped into the kitchin near the end of the match thinking nothing would happen anymore and we duly scored in that short interval!

    Bath @ 14, yes, was impressed by those, especially that 6) : Saliba made the subsequent and accurate pass seem so easy (97% successful passes from him apparently on Sunday!) it was incredible: the calm and composure there, only tenths of seconds after that challenge with Haaland, wow!

  21. 21
    bt8 says:

    Not to forget, we won despite …

    In his column for the Daily Mail, Clattenburg suggests that Kovacic could have been shown a red card twice during the course of the game.

    “Mateo Kovacic is a very lucky boy and so is referee Michael Oliver, given Arsenal went on to win regardless of Manchester City keeping all 11 men on the pitch,” Clattenburg wrote.

  22. 22
    Esso says:

    Cheers Trev!

  23. 23
    Lonestar Gooner says:

    I saw everything you did there, Trev. What an enjoyable missive! Put me right back into the mood.

    I just want to put two things out here:

    1) Gary Neville is a rat-faced knob gobbler.

    2) Michael Oliver is a bent wanker.

    That is all.


  24. 24
    Countryman100 says:

    Lonestar @23. I wish you’d stop being so diplomatic! Must be your legal training. 🤪

  25. 25
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@1: Resigning Giroud is the way to go now he has proved his goalkeeping bona fides at Milan. Keepers who are good with their feet and can score goals has to be the next evolution of the position. Given his goalscoring record, Raya’s days are clearly numbered…

  26. 26
    bt8 says:

    Good observations @23, Lonestar. Seldom were Neville and Oliver described more eruditely.

  27. 27
    Uplympian says:

    Thanks Trev for an excellent and accurate ( well to my eyes ) match report – you describe it perfectly. Nice to go into the interminable interlull in a good frame of mind.
    TTG / Ned – re-signing Giroo makes perfect sense with Arteta’s avowed predilection to substitute goalkeepers during a match.

  28. 28
  29. 29
    Las says:

    Cheers Trev, a high fidelity report of an otherwise tense but enjoyable encounter. 🙂
    My last personal visit at the Emirates was at 21. December 2015. At that time I felt I just watched the title decider as we beat Citeh… and now I think this win was also one of them.
    I actually think that you have a fair chance getting close to Margot. You definately want her, so that makes a half of it (50%), she may or may not wants you, so that’s anothet 25% and alltogether is fairly good 75%. If I were you, I would go for it. 🙂
    I’m afraid MA wrote down Ramsdale and he will have a respectable way out at the end of the season.
    We did it! Yeeeeaaahhh

  30. 30
    OsakaMatt says:

    Great post @15 TTG, always good to see folks in the drinks.
    And I 100% agree with yourself and Bath on the quality of
    C100’s post from the trenches.
    The conclusion we need fear no one is spot on

  31. 31
    OsakaMatt says:


    Some analysis from Wislon at the grauniad. A couple of weeks ago after the Spud game one of their writers opined that the title race could well be over as he couldn’t see Arsenal making up 4 points on Shitteh.

  32. 32
    OsakaMatt says:

    After a pointless journey to the England training camp Bukayo is getting his two weeks rest.
    87 games in a row was a monumental effort in this day and age but I am pleased he can get his feet up for a bit. A drink on the bar for you young man 🍺

  33. 33
    bt8 says:

    I see Trev’s chances with Margot are rising by the minute. 🤣

  34. 34
    bt8 says:

    Arteta’s first 192 matches as manager (all competitions):
    111 wins / 33 draws / 48 losses

    Wenger’s last 224 matches as manager (all competitions):
    127 wins / 42 draws / 55 losses

    Source: Wikipedia

  35. 35
    bt8 says:

    In 2 of the 13 apologies issued by PGMOL since 2019 (according to this article) Arsenal were the aggrieved party.


    Are the statisticians soon going to be compiling the xA stat for expected apologies? By my crude calculations 2 of 13 is astronomically high in thr actual apologies category.

  36. 36
    OsakaMatt says:

    We should have two apologies already this season!
    The Kovacic decision was appalling

  37. 37
    TTG says:

    According to the Daily Mail ( I know!) our win rate with Saliba is 77% compared to 46% without him. The primary reason we slipped away as title contenders last season is there in black and white

  38. 38
    Esso says:

    No mate – he plays in the famous Red and White!

  39. 39
    Trev says:

    Some very generous comments above – thank you !
    I hope it was a bit of fun to go with the big celebration.

    Some really excellent drinks there too and those shared experiences are what this place is all about – great to hear whether you were at the stadium, at home or in a bar elsewhere in the world.

  40. 40
    Ollie says:

    Heh Esso @ 38 ! Superb!

  41. 41
    Bathgooner says:

    Esso knows, @38.

  42. 42
    Noosa Gooner says:

    Ned @25,
    Excellent – you beat me to it.

  43. 43
    Noosa Gooner says:

    Oliver started out as a good referee.
    He lost credibility with his treatment of Martinelli.
    Now his failure to adequately punish serious foul play at the weekend completes his backward steps.
    Perhaps he should go to Saudi full time.

  44. 44
  45. 45
    Trev says:

    I would only apply the “if that was Granit Xhaka” test to the Kocacic incidents on Sunday – especially as Michael Oliver was involved.
    Remember the early sending off against Liverpool when Xhaka attempted to cut out a long diagonal ball to their right wing. Xhaka had eyes purely on the ball and raised a foot to waist height to try to bring it down. Jota was not in possession of the ball but ran into Xhaka’s raised foot, went down and rolled around clutching his middle as Oliver arrived brandishing a red card for Granit.

  46. 46
    North Bank Ned says:

    Esso@38: 👍

  47. 47
    Bathgooner says:

    There are some fascinating stats from Oliver’s record in a footnote in the latest blog from 7am kick off: https://7amkickoff.com/index.php/2023/10/09/chapter-9-subvert-city/

    “(Michael Oliver) has refereed Liverpool, Arsenal, Everton, and Man City the most times and he has given Liverpool and City just one red card each (both were double-yellow) and Arsenal and Everton 5 red cards. He’s also given Liverpool 15 pens, Everton 16 pens, and Man City 11. He’s given Arsenal 5 pens and he’s given our opponents 12.”

  48. 48
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks for the heads up c100, a good read.

  49. 49
    Countryman100 says:

    Here’s another great article. Very few talk about David O’Leary these days. Yet he’s our record appearance holder.


  50. 50
    Bathgooner says:

    Raises bat to all 4 quadrants!

  51. 51
    North Bank Ned says:

    Well in for the half-ton, Bath, on what’s become a tricky wicket. First half-ton in more than a month.

  52. 52
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@49: Thanks for the link. David O’Leary is undoubtedly in the pantheon of Arsenal’s greatest centre-halves.

    The 30 million euros we paid for Saliba seems quite the bargain now, and the naysayers who said it was a waste of money for a teenager seem to have fallen silent.

  53. 53
    Ollie says:

    Well in Bath!
    Many thanks for that article, C100 @ 49.

  54. 54
    bt8 says:

    Geez, Ned. I wonder how long it has been since we did the full ton.

  55. 55
    bt8 says:

    Well in at the half, Bath

  56. 56
    Ollie says:

    bt8, too many matches, perhaps the dreaded interlull will be the chance for a ton. Although obviously it means less drinks…we shall see.

  57. 57
    bt8 says:

    Re: Bath Oliver stats @47. Mindblowing and not in a good way.

  58. 58
    bt8 says:

    This vague statement about steps taken in the wake of the Liverpool-Spurs VAR debacle is apparently Howard Webb’s only statement of the day. No apology for Michael Oliver’s obvious ineptitude in not sending off Kovacic on Sunday for two at the very least yellow card worthy challenges against Arsenal. A case of sweeping it under the rug it seems.


  59. 59
    bt8 says:

    Any word received from Margot about that hot date or has Ken succeeded ?

  60. 60
    bt8 says:

    Ah, so as Bath pointed out elsewhere Webb actually did make a statement on the Oliver affair, speaking out of both sides of his mouth. Kovacic very lucky not to be sent off but defending Oliver for not wanting to ‘interfere’ overly. Since when is implementing the rules interfering?

  61. 61
    bt8 says:

    By the way, that was .6 of a ton. Some numerologists might consider that notable.

  62. 62
    bt8 says:

    Tomorrow I’m headed home to St. Paul for the duration of the interlull and beyond. I expect the fall leaves will either be brilliant orange, yellow and red or soon will be. But my Portland stay has been most agreeable, and decidedly less midwestern.

  63. 63
    Trev says:

    I saw Howard Webb program on Sky. I really don’t think this program is helping anything at all. Rather than two lots of nonsense from a referee and VAR, we now have a third lot from Webb who is making up his own nuanced laws to fit whatever game situation has arisen, in a desperate attempt to justify the original referee’s incompetence.
    The biggest and best league in the world is officiated by a mob of incompetent double speakers.
    If you take the charitable view that Webb is genuinely explaining the best intentions of his referees, then one thing is clear: the laws are open to such a degree of subjective interpretation that they are not really laws at all but guidelines. Hence the crazy inconsistencies we see every week.
    PGMOL is not fit for purpose. What even is it ? It hides behind this weird acronym which stands for what, exactly ?
    Why not the PRA – Professional Referees Association – or some such meaningful thing ? I’m not even sure what PGMOL stands for – and there the garbled confusion begins.

  64. 64
    ecg says:

    Ned, PGMOL stands for Pig-faced Game-day Moronic Officiating League.

  65. 65
    OsakaMatt says:

    Prefer Goals to Manchester Or Liverpool

  66. 66
    bt8 says:

    Howard Webb’s interpretation apparently is that Kovacic’s foot impacted Odegaard’s ankle too many millimetres to the side. Really, and if so how long has that been a consideration?

  67. 67
    bt8 says:

    …skids past the 2/3 century mark…

  68. 68
    bt8 says:

    OM. Proffer Goals to Manchester or Liverpool?

    Seems to be their mission statement, hidden right there in plain sight.

  69. 69
    Ollie says:

    Haha Matt @ 65
    Maybe Howard Webb will help us nudge towards a ton.
    Great write-up on arseblog too.

    Fake transparency from PGMOL won’t solve anything

  70. 70
    Bathgooner says:

    The big 70% of a ton! :0)

  71. 71
    Bathgooner says:

    Shrek has been appointed the manager of Birmingham City to play attacking football. A club with a death wish.

  72. 72
    Trev says:

    bt8 @ 66 -,don’t forget that not only was Kovacic’s foot a couple of millimetres to the side – of what ?! – but also slightly more upright than whoever he was being compared to. And as we well know, it is much less painful to have your ankle broken by an upright foot than a sideways foot.

    Why is this utter nonsense being tolerated ?

  73. 73
    North Bank Ned says:

    Trev@63: I agree with you about Webb’s after-the-fact comments not being helpful, except to Sky’s ratings, presumably. Rugby Union and cricket seem to have got it right in having the conversation between the on- and off-field officials broadcast in real-time.

    PGMOL may stand for Plentiful Glaring Mistakes Occurring Likely

  74. 74
    Bathgooner says:

    C100 @49, I’ve just caught up with that superb article on David O’Leary. He clearly loves the club despite some his ridiculous posturing when an opposition manager!

  75. 75
    Ollie says:

    Trev @ 72. It beggars belief indeed.
    Are we supposed to swallow this as a credible explanation rather than as a skit in a (not that funny) comedy show?

  76. 76
    Bathgooner says:

    This is a superb discussion though it may require an Athletic sub to access it:


  77. 77
    Bathgooner says:

    Ollie, congratulations on the big 75!

  78. 78
    Ollie says:

    Ha! Cheers baff. The runs are piling since you reached the half-century!

  79. 79
    Trev says:

    Ollie, if it’s a comedy it ain’t funny.

    Ned @73 – the sports that have successful “third umpires” are those where they are dealing with line / in out decisions, as is goal line technology in football. But technology cannot deal with judgement calls like intent, or at exactly what point was a player on / offside, what is an unnatural arm position, which depends almost entirely on whet the player was doing at the time – jumping, balancing, counter rotating, falling over ….

    Even the automatic offside lines, used apparently in other countries to continually monitor for offside, cannot say at what precise time the ball was played forwards which is the other 50% of the question.

  80. 80
    ecg says:

    0.8 of a ton!

  81. 81
    North Bank Ned says:

    Dearly missed cba would have had the final 20 knocked off in short order.

  82. 82
    TTG says:

    Belated thanks to C100 – a noted Torygraph reader 😃😃 for that excellent piece on Dave O’Leary . The level of praise for him was nowhere near exaggerated. I remember him playing Kempes out of the game in the ECWC final in 1980 ( I think at least Trev was there?). He was a great defender and I think his last game was the Cup Final replay in 1993.
    There was talk of him becoming a director a few years ago. He would be a great choice . But note the reference to the contract negotiations with Ken Friar. Arsenal were cheeseparing then and it cost the club dearly losing Brady and Stapleton. We might have won some titles if we’d retained them .

  83. 83
    Ollie says:

    Ned @ 18. Thanks for the work. It’s not getting much notice in the drinks, but appreciate it, especially the live commentary on that ‘real’ title race :-D.

  84. 84
    North Bank Ned says:

    Trev@79: I take your point up to a point. I just think we’d get better decisions if match officials knew their deliberations were being made for all to hear. Transparency and accountability are powerful.

    The use of technology is a separate issue. The trend of the game’s lawmakers has been to take intent out of the equation and rely on actions and outcomes to determine fouls, in handball and offside to the point of unintelligible complexity. Yet, if rules can be written that instruct referees, then they should be able to be understood by machines. (Bad rules are bad rules, regardless, of course). I accept that it is probably impossible to write out all ambiguity, especially in a contact sport, and that there will always be the need for human judgment. In that regard, I like the clarity of cricket’s notion of ‘umpire’s call’ for cases when a decision falls within the technology’s margin of error. You stick with the original decision and don’t re-officiate it.

  85. 85
    Countryman100 says:

    Grace on football is a new blog I’ve been reading. Some good tactical analysis in here, if that’s your thing.


  86. 86
    Countryman100 says:

    In the spirit of Dave, how about some music to roll us through to the ton? I’ll start


  87. 87
    North Bank Ned says:

    Ollie@83: 👍
    And congrats on moving into the top six.

  88. 88
    Ollie says:

    Cheers Ned. It’s probably my ceiling, even though I will hopefully benefit from Spurs dropping down a fair bit. 🙂

  89. 89
    bt8 says:

    Well in Ollie at the piano strings threshold

  90. 90
    bt8 says:

    Thanks Bath for posting the link to that very entertaining podcast @76. Any Arsenal-related discussion that Amy Lawrence touches seems to turn to gold, but this occasion made it a particularly fun listen.

  91. 91
    bt8 says:

    Never really liked Twitter, me.

    They don’t number the drinks

  92. 92
    Trev says:

    Yes, TTG, I was there. A very fun day turned into a nightmare of an evening.

  93. 93
  94. 94
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@85: Thanks for the link. Grace is spot on about how much City is missing Gündoğan, as noted in this fine establishment earlier.

    And here’s a tune to lower the tone of your mix from the Ol’ Tennessee Slicker himself:

  95. 95
    Countryman100 says:

    Time to move this along. A Declan Rice like interception leaves the ball at my feet. I slide it between the full back and the centre back on the left to …..

  96. 96
    Trev says:

    …. almost score an own goal ! 😱

    Ball is now cleared long out to the left wing ….

  97. 97
    North Bank Ned says:

    Knocked inside along the first leg of the horseshoe…

  98. 98
    Uplympian says:

    Pre-assists with a chip to the other side of the horseshoe……

  99. 99
    Doctor Faustus says:

    An amusing and action packed review of a match that I felt was a day of true coming of age for this team and the manager.

    This was nowhere close to the best football this team can play. But it was definitely our most controlled and mature performance against an exceptional team that had always raised their game against us even further.

    In a paradoxical way, I think Saka’s absence (and Martinelli not being able to start) might have played some part in helping Mikel to simplify his strategy, and focus more on blocking out all pockets of space. Zinchenko played as a traditional left back, leaving no space for city behind Rice who could focus more centrally, and Gabriel could stay closer to Saliba who can then chose to be even more aggressive in his front footed defense. Saliba had one of his best performances, as his impeccable stats (100% duels won, 100% successful clearances, 97% passing accuracy, never dribbled past once) shows. He made a phenomenal once-in-a-generation striker look like a bored extra in a small town staging of Siegfried).

    But my personal man of the match — it’s probably a choice no one will agree on — was Jesus. He didn’t score any goal or had an assist to his name, but he harassed and hurried their defense and pressed incessantly (along with Rice and Ødegaard ) and kept the ball in close control and completely nullified the possibility of their back four to build any rhythm to push up and overload the midfield.

    Martinelli played like he always does, and he proved again that with him in the team we will always look a threat in possession on that left side. The remarkable combination of all four subs being involved in the goal must have pleased Mikel a lot. The finishers — as he likes to call them — really did their job very well.

    We really can beat anyone now. That’s the invaluable belief and self-confidence this team will have now.

  100. 100
    Trev says:

    Picks up the ball from Faustus’ accidental knock on, drives into the area and slams one past the keeper – considers a knee slide towards the corner flag but thankfully thinks better of it …..

  101. 101
    bt8 says:

    Well in Trev at the big one. Cool as you like.

  102. 102
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Well in Trev@100! Congratulations…

    Accidental? Not accidental, very intentional! Not as cheeky as White nonchalantly nutmegging Doku on the byline (for who can be as cool as Benjamin? No one is the right answer), but still very intentional … 🙂

  103. 103
    OsakaMatt says:

    A nicely worked ton gentlemen, drinks on the bar for all….

  104. 104
    Ollie says:

    Well in for the ton, Trev!
    What a fantastically well-worked team goal. With an impressive dribble from Dr F before assisting.

  105. 105
    Bathgooner says:

    Nicely worked ton, chaps.

  106. 106
    Countryman100 says:

    Nicely in for the ton chaps. Like Arsenal’s winner on Sunday, a ton showing our team values. Fantastic dummy run taking the defenders away by Dr Faustus.

  107. 107
    North Bank Ned says:

    Well in for the ton, Trev.

    Dr F@99: Spot on about Jesus’s off-the-ball work, which occurs at both ends of the pitch. He constantly dropped back to harry and harass City’s attackers in our final third.

  108. 108
    Trev says:

    Thank you ! I looked for a final pass but no-one had been able to keep up with me 😉

  109. 109
    Trev says:

    And on to 200 now. I’ll be bringing on two ton Ted (from Teddington) for that one !

  110. 110
    Ollie says:

    Trevalliteration for the win!

  111. 111
    TTG says:

    Congratulations on the ton. I was writing the next blog but would have participated otherwise .
    27 years today a Wenger side took the field at Blackburn and won 2-0.

  112. 112
    Trev says:

    Oh yes, I remember it well (Aznavour – as I seem to be writing mostly in song lyrics at the moment)

    I can’t honestly remember whether the commentary or just score updates were on the radio but I was listening intently as we needed some sort of result to get a European place.
    Turned out to be the first of quite a few European places.

  113. 113
    Pangloss says:

    Thanks to Esso and Bat in the previous bar (and C100 in this one) for reminding me of Steely Dan. I finally managed to find the time earlier this evening and it’s definitely been far too long since I listened to Can’t Buy a Thrill.

    Congratulations also to all for a fine ton earlier today.

  114. 114
    Pangloss says:

    (Sorry; that’s “Esso and Bath”. Obviously.)

  115. 115
    TTG says:

    The origin of the name Steely Dan still makes my eyes water! I first located this band through Pretzel Logic . That would be mid 1970s I think

  116. 116
    bt8 says:

    Two ton Ted could teach us to tally in terrific totals and might be just our cup of tea.

  117. 117
  118. 118
    Trev says:

    TTG – after the Roman emperor Biggus Dickus I believe.

    Can’t Buy A Thrill is great – Aja too ( a wee bit later, a tad more chilled and a touch more jazz influenced )

  119. 119
    bt8 says:

    Why stop at just one?

  120. 120
    Countryman100 says:

    A topic of much interest to many on this blog- silver membership ticketing

    The Silver Member Struggle: How Arsenal’s Ticketing Changes Impact Loyal Supporters

  121. 121
    Ollie says:

    Thanks a lot C100.
    So there we have it, which was never publicised: the allocation for Silvers has been gradually but drastically reduced over the last few seasons.
    Interesting though that he insists on loyalty as length of silver-membership holding (not THAT much of a burden for most I’d say if you don’t go to games in the less successful years) with no extra consideration for memebership+attendance.
    I”m nor sure how applying for ballot with price band could/should work. Unless you can also apply for ‘all price bands’, so you’ve got a chance to cap or not.

    Also must be noted that the 3D map also briefly appeared just for Silver in the first match last season (though I don’t remember if it was the exact same sort of 3D non-sense, I just remember that it was another graphics-driven nightmare, but at least they pulled it out quickly before anyone could notice).

    Ticketmaster are indeed a lot of shite.
    See what the club does at the end of the season, but that doesn’t look good.

  122. 122
    North Bank Ned says:

    Silver membership seems to be being ‘disappeared’ from the club site. Red, Junior and Platinum are all that I see offered in the Membership section.


    You have to know

  123. 123
    Ollie says:

    Ned, not sure if that is new, I don’t think so: Silver Membership is not something you could buy. You can only buy Red Membership, it’s always been thus.
    So that in itself is not an indication of anything really, i suspect?
    I’m not sure how that second page was linked from anything before, to be fair.

    Gold is the same.

    And I don’t think they intend to get rid of ST holders altogether (yet…) :-O

  124. 124
    Ollie says:

    (Platinum is a little different as Club Level is not the same list as ST I believe)

  125. 125
    North Bank Ned says:

    Ollie@123: You may well be right.

    Two other thoughts on the ballot system. 1. Silver membership could contain a guarantee of a minimum number of match tickets per season, although it would probably have to be a small number. 2. Copying an idea from the NYC marathon, x number of successive unsuccessful ballot applications guarantees a successful one, although x would probably have to be a relatively large number.

    If you want endless hours of fun, you can read all the formal complaints made against Ticketmaster to the US Better Business Bureau https://www.bbb.org/us/ca/beverly-hills/profile/event-ticket-sales/ticketmaster-corp-1216-31068/complaints and to the watchdog Complaints Board https://www.complaintsboard.com/ticketmaster-b122000, although it probably won’t make you feel any better. The Pennsylvania attorney general’s Ticketmaster page contains the warning, “Due to the volume of complaints against Ticketmaster, please be patient while our office processes requests.”

  126. 126
    Ollie says:

    Cheers Ned. There’s no ideal system, but certainly plenty of good ideas to improve the current on.
    It’s Friday night, but while I’m knackered and won’t do much, I think I’ll pas on those endless hours of fun. 🙂

  127. 127
    bt8 says:

    Don’t know if this BBC story has any relationship to the Arsenal ticketing issues:

    “Manchester United admit 2,000 Galatasaray fans were allowed to access home section at Old Trafford”

    But if the home fans can’t be bothered to buy tickets why should the away fans not be given a shot at them?

  128. 128
    ClockEndRider says:

    bt8 @127 – because , in the case of f Galatasaray, they have a history of being massive troublemakers.
    Apologies for radio silence this week. Now back from Krakow, which I would heartily recommend to anyone who hasn’t visited,

  129. 129
    OsakaMatt says:

    Congrats to Eddie Nketiah on his England debut. A nice reward for his perseverance over the last 2 or 3 seasons when, at times, his Arsenal future looked doubtful.

    I didn’t watch the game to be honest so no idea how Eddie did but I did read the report where Southgate said supporters booing Henderson defied logic. I wonder whether Southgate’s lights are on sometimes.

  130. 130
    Bathgooner says: