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Alan Turing’s ‘Enigma’ codebreaker

Be warned! This is a long read. If you wish to ignore history, start seven paragraphs below. But, reader beware! You know what they say about the consequences of that!

Saturday sees The Arsenal making the long trek to the New Castle of the distant Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A town with a long history that began while the ancestors of the ruling elite in that benighted land were simply the most successful local tribe at stealing land, sheep, camels and women from neighbouring tribes. A geological accident/stroke of luck transformed them from lowly, but aggressive, camel-traders and sheep herders into predatory multi-billionaires who have decided to buy world sport and as a result have changed the fortunes of this northern city’s broken-down, old football club.

The settlement in which Saudi Sportswashers ply their trade began in the 2nd century AD as Pons Aelius on the northern bank of the Tyne beside a bridge built by the Roman Emperor, Hadrian – an affiliation with questionable autocrats clearly started early. After the Romans departed, the settlement became Anglo-Saxon ‘Munucceaster’ but in 876 AD was destroyed by the Danes along with other settlements along the Tyne. However the strategic importance of the site was subsequently recognised by the Normans and Robert Curthose, son of William the Conquerer, built a wooden castle on the site in 1080 and the town was thereafter known as Novum Castellum until the Geordie language was invented, changing this to Neeeeewkasel.

Newcastle United FC was formed in 1892 by the absorption of Newcastle West End by Newcastle East End (somewhat prescient on a small geographical scale). Both clubs had been founded in 1881 and West End had played at St James Park since 1886 but had run into financial difficulties while East End became a professional team in 1889 and a limited company in 1890. No doubt an early, object lesson in the benefits of financially-focused leadership.

The ‘codes had a proud history until their recent transformation into a sports-washing vehicle for Saudi Arabia, a nation with an execrable human rights record whose leaders apparently believe that buying, promoting and hosting world-wide sports events and sporting clubs will distract the rest of the world from its repressive police state, Jamal Khashoggi’s murder and dismemberment, public beheadings, the war in Yemen (no marches for those casualties?), rampant misogyny including imprisonment of rape victims, homophobia, etc. Good luck with the World Cup in 2034, chaps. I won’t be watching.

The ‘codes’ proud history includes never dropping below the second tier since joining the Football League in 1893, spending 91 seasons in the top flight, being a member of the Premier League in all but three seasons since its inception in 1992 (when football began according to Sky TV), winning four League titles, six FA Cups, one Charity Shield and the 1968-69 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (equivalent to the UEFA Conference League). This apparently represents the ninth best trophy haul by an English club.

However, success is a distant memory. Their most successful period was between 1904 and 1910 when they won three of their four league titles and an FA Cup. Their last major domestic trophy was the FA Cup in 1955. Hence an extended trophy drought in ‘Geordieland’ has generated huge hunger for success. Desperate circumstances call for desperate solutions and after all they had to live under the erratic ownership of Sports Direct autocrat, Mike Ashley for many years. So, don’t expect any criticism of Saudi policies from anyone on Tyneside. For many years, the team has run out to the Knopfler’s ‘Going Home’ from ‘Local Hero’ and the fans cling to their traditions by giving regular renditions of the local ditty ‘The Blaydon Races’ but if Saudi investment yields silverware, we might even expect the Geordies’ gratitude to extend to Saudi Sportswashers entering the field to a traditional Saudi dance.

At the time of writing, Saudi Sportswashers sit in 6th place in the Premier League table, 7 points behind the Arsenal. They have been playing catch up since losing 3 of their first 4 PL matches against Abou Dhabi Sportswashers, Liverpool FC and Brighton FC.  Despite these early reverses, the ‘Washers looked strong in their opening game against Aston Villa FC, winning 5-1 and they have recovered that form recently with several big wins, not least in their destruction of Qatar Sportswashers in the Champions League and in victories over both Abou Dhabi Sportswashers and Manchester United FC in consecutive rounds of the League Cup. Only the 0-1 defeat to Abou Dhabi Sportswashers took place at St James’ Park which is, as last season, looking like a bit of a fortress.

Eddie Howe made 8 changes for Saudi Sportswashers’ impressive midweek 3-0 League Cup victory over a similarly changed but much less impressive Manchester United FC, resting almost his entire first XI with only Joelinton and Gordon keeping their places. There is little doubt that he had the Arsenal’s Saturday visit in mind as he picked his team, as of course did Mikel, but Howe’s B-team acquitted themselves considerably better than Mikel’s. However, Howe is not without injury problems: Botman, a rock in last season’s defence, has a knee injury and unknown return date; Murphy has a shoulder injury and unknown return date; Anderson is out with a back injury; Barnes is out with a toe injury; Isak is out with a groin injury. Meanwhile Tonali is banned until next season for serious betting offences in Italy. 

However, we can expect Pope to be protected by almost the same man-mountain defence we faced last season with Lascelles replacing Botman alongside Trippier, Schär and Burn; a midfield containing Guimaraes, Longstaff, Gordon and Almirón or Willock (who returned from prolonged injury on Wednesday and scored a superb goal) with Wilson supported by Joelinton up front. Expect the ‘Washers to defend in depth if they concede possession then strike swiftly, converting 4-5-1 to 4-2-4. Almirón, Gordon and Wilson are all on hot streaks.

What can we expect from the Arsenal? We have seen mere glimpses of last season’s brio and silky interplay and have struggled to create chances in almost every game this season while failing to take many of those that we have created after much huffing and puffing and arcs of ennui. We have created (to my mind, unnecessary) controversy in our goalkeeping position, to the benefit of neither of our glove butlers. I am no expert. Both seem better than average keepers to me though neither is in Seaman’s or Lehmann’s class. Ramsdale has his faults but so too does Raya. I suspect that for Arteta, Raya’s calmness gives him the edge over Ramsdale’s emotional involvement and impetuosity. I am content to trust Arteta’s judgement. Will we see Ramsdale regain his shirt against the Geordie ‘Washers (I know! Contradiction in terms, eh?). I don’t think so. I think Arteta has made his decision. Raya is his number 1.

Earlier this season we experimented with Partey as an inverted right back, destabilising our central defence in the process, so the silver lining of yet another unfortunate absence of the big midfielder is that that particular experiment has to be shelved. However our ongoing and now widely known, and targeted, use of Zinchenko as an inverted left back, leaving acres of space on our left flank, forcing Gabriel wide to cover that space thus leaving another big gap in central defence that the excellent Saliba must move left to cover or the very impressive Declan Rice must drop back to cover, unless we play the vastly experienced but painfully slow Jorginho as a second deep lying midfielder. There is little doubt that, even with the peripatetic Zinchenko popping up at inside right as often as he appears at left back, the combination of Rice and Partey in midfield made us more secure defensively and balanced our offensive and defensive strengths but, of course, that is not currently an option. Zinchenko did add hugely to our midfield control and offensive threat last season but seems less effective this season probably because this tactic is now being countered by smart opposition coaches. Tomiyasu clearly displays more competence in the defensive aspects of the inverted LB role and still contributes significantly to its offensive aspects and fills me, if not also the Arsenal defence, with much more confidence that our left flank is covered effectively.

Up front, we have had to cope with a series of injuries to last season’s key players and once again it’s Jesús’ turn to keep the treatment room busy. This is doubly unfortunate as he had only just returned from surgery for a knee problem, won us the game against Sevilla FC with a superb assist and a wonderful goal before limping off with a hamstring injury that will probably keep him out until December. Doubts about Nketiah’s ability adequately to substitute for Jesús were allayed for some by his excellent hat trick against Sheffield United FC but revived by his all too familiar unproductive toil against West Ham United FC. At least Martinelli appears to have regained full fitness and has been our most potent threat in recent games while Saka appeared to have recovered some of his bounce against the Blades. Neither player really had time to influence that turgid second half display against the Spammers and neither had any impact (nor did Rice). However, Ødegaard’s arrival did change the game and he appeared to be back to his pre-Interlull energy, verve and drive. Hopefully that resurrection is permanent – make sure to touch the hem of Jesús’ jacket, Martin!

And so we come to Der Elefant in das Zimmer! Here too, I am in the ‘trust Arteta camp’. I thought Havertz substituted ably for Ødegaard as our right-sided ‘number 8’ against Sheffield United FC. OK, it was against the bottom team but he had a very influential game in the exact position in which he made his name in Germany. While I agree that Andrew’s description of him on Arseblog as looking like an ‘awkward foal’ during our generally limp display in the second half at the Council Stadium was quite apt, most players in that awful yellow shirt looked like rabbits in headlights in that second half. In fact, their misplaced passes made them look totally blinded by headlights. While it would clearly be better if Havertz could make regular assists and score a few goals, I think his contributions to our build up play, his movement to draw or lose defenders, his availability in attacking positions and his defensive work tracking back make him a useful team player. The fee is not his fault. I don’t think he is the mistake some other in this august establishment suggest. I am confident that he will come good.

Post-match pictures and interviews after our 2-0 victory at St James’ Park last May revealed Howe and his coaching team to be beside themselves with frustration and anger as they clearly saw us as the team they were most likely to displace at the top of the table. That was what had motivated them to blow us away a year earlier when, faced by their aggression and energy and the bear-pit atmosphere from the envy-driven crowd, we wilted and, as a result, dropped out of the Champions League places. Despite last season’s early successes and stylish play, our mauling against Abou Dhabi Sportswashers just 10 days before we travelled to St James’ in May led them to believe that they would make the Arsenal team wilt again but our ballsy performance and 2-0 victory shocked, silenced and enraged them. 

We have to expect the same bear-pit atmosphere, aggression and physical challenges all over the pitch. Each player has to win his personal duels if we are to take anything from this game. We have to be ready for an aerial bombardment in our box and a wall of giants dealing with any attempt by us to use the same tactic.  Nimble feet, quick passing and give-&-go will be more effective against this defence (think of Brighton’s tactics) than high balls into or across the box though it would be a good time for Havertz to display his aerial threat to productive effect as well as to add defensive height at set pieces. 

Make no mistake, beating the Arsenal is a cause célèbre for the Geordies. Those always swaggering, often corpulent, half-naked, broon-ale swigging, tattooed, incomprehensible, northern bar stewards see the Arsenal, its players and fans as pampered, ‘southern softies’ and hope to sacrifice our title ambitions to their ancient Norse God, Odin or perhaps to their new desert God, PIF. We have to respond with the courage, grit, guile, opportunism and determination that we displayed in May rather than the shock and indecision of 2022. Of course, we had Jesús in the team in May though Partey was absent until replacing Ødegaard on 80 minutes to close out the game at 2-0. This time we just have to do it without Jesús.

After that long ramble, I should name my expected starting eleven:


White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tomiyasu

Ødegaard, Jorginho, Rice

Saka, Nketiah, Martinelli

If I was the coach, I would start Havertz rather than Nketiah because his height, movement and nimble feet might be decisive. I do think Havertz will give more problems than Nketiah will to the big centre backs we will face on Saturday. However I expect Arteta to start Nketiah and, in truth, he has been more effective when he has started than when brought on as a substitute and on that basis and the confidence that his hat-trick will have given him, I guess Nketiah will get the nod. I hope he has a great game!

This Holic’s pound is still going to Ukraine. I don’t care what the Bookie’s say. Have you ever met a poor Bookie? I’d rather give my hard-earned to help resist the Russian fascists than buy a new villa for a Bookmaker.

I can’t see a goal fest. 1-0 to the Arsenal would be a triumph. A draw would be a very respectable result.

It’s going to be a scrap. We need to stand up to their aggression and find and exploit their weaknesses. Expect an abundance of nervous moments. Courage mes braves!

Let’s do this! Go win, Arsenal!

48 Drinks to “Break the ‘Codes, Gunners”

  1. 1
    Countryman100 says:

    A masterpiece Bath. One of your best ever.

  2. 2
    ClockEndRider says:

    A great read and full of info and great turns of phrase. What more could we ask for? Thanks Bath.
    I think your team is about right, although I might be tempted to replace Jorginho with Havertz, despite another couple of instantly forgettable performances from him in the last week.
    I hope the referee actually does his job as, like you, I expect to be on the end of a physical battering and then theatrical moans and complaints, led by their ogre of a manager, every time the referee dares to give a decision against them. We are going to have to stay cool and play with heads over hearts to avoid being drawn into a physical battle which will only further fuel their crowd. It would be hugely funny if we did what they did last season at the Emirates and decided to roll about on the floor in feigned agony every time one of the opposition breathes on us.

  3. 3
    ClockEndRider says:

    Oh, and have a good trip up there, C100. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, will be to make as much noise as the Dortmund fans did up there last week, despite being perched up somewhere nearer the ionosphere than the pitch.

  4. 4
    Ollie says:

    No time to breathe between blogs at the moment!
    Cheers, bath, a truly splendid preview, the historical bits were just fantastic. I concur with C100.
    I’m growing more and more skeptical with Havertz. I tried to believe and in the first few minutes on Wednesday, I thought maybe there was some hope, but….right now I feel Chamakh was a better number 29 and Pépé better value for money.

    bt8, good point re: left 8 in the last round of drinks.
    Which brings the question: which kind of ‘8’ are you?

  5. 5
    BtM says:

    Excellent preview. That’s the team I’d pick but I suspect Mikel will start Zinny at LB on the basis that the Washers think he won’t and so doing so will surprise the hell out of them and throw them into a swirling cauldron of nooky broon confusion. A draw would be fine. A win super splendid.

  6. 6
    BtM says:

    Bt8 plays behind the left 8 on Saturdays and behind the right 8 on Wednesdays, Ollie.

  7. 7
    bt8 says:

    I like this East End and West End business. Certainly more interesting than another club called United. Preston North End are to be commended in this regard.

  8. 8
    North Bank Ned says:

    First-rate preview, Bath. Carries its length with elan.

    This game will be every bit the scrap you suggest. We shall need our A game and full commitment for every one of the 90-plus minutes, but as Arteta said in this pre-match press conference, these are the matches that you have to win if you are going to be top.

    bt8@7: Southend would be the purest expression of that.

  9. 9
    TTG says:

    A quite superb piece of work one of the best previews we have had since the Guvna’s time Amusing, detailed and persuasive . One point of reference though . In 1969 the Fairs Cup was a very serious competition. You had only one team from each country in the European Cup ( and Scotland’s representatives were formidable then !) and when we won it the following year we beat Cruyff’s emerging Ajax team in the semi and an Anderlecht team that Frank Mclintock considered the best he ever played in Europe in the final . So winning it in 1969 was not only a surprise but a remarkable achievement for the Geordies as they were then known.
    Re our team , Tomayisu has to be left- back. In a sensible world Zinny should be left 8 ( for explanation of the evolution of this position consult Bt8 ) but he won’t be . Jorginho is way too slow against a team that transition at pace , ESR is crocked and I’d rather have the coach driver in than Havertz in midfield in a game of passion and quality . If we do play Havertz it will be much more logical to play him upfront where his height will be an asset and he can hopefully bring others into play . Raya will start and so I think will Eddie .
    I’d bite your arm off for a point . We did really well last season when Ødegaard and Saka were excellent ( and so was Ramsdale ) but they are in good form now and we can only hope C100 and Countryman Junior can marshal the red hordes to neutralise a very passionate atmosphere .
    But let’s be positive. Havertz to score in a 1-1 draw . Bath in A& E having had his arm savaged . But it’s only a flesh wound

  10. 10
    bt8 says:

    Strong candidate for the best sentence written on GHF: “Those always swaggering, often corpulent, half-naked, broon-ale swigging, tattooed, incomprehensible, northern bar stewards see the Arsenal, its players and fans as pampered, ‘southern softies’ and hope to sacrifice our title ambitions to their ancient Norse God, Odin or perhaps to their new desert God, PIF.”

    We certainly shut them up last year and so may it be once more.

  11. 11
    bt8 says:

    Re: out left 8 position. Many thanks to TTG for his erudite exposition on the subject @31 in the previous drinks. Erudite it certainly sounded anyway but the quiz you mentioned at the end didn’t give me too much confidence that I would be able to pass. 😱

    Thanks to Bath above for the relevation thatvwe do have a right 8 and his name is Martin.

  12. 12
    Trev says:

    Epic Bath ! A kind of Wor! In pieces

    Only one thing to disagree with “ Elephant in dem Zimmer “ as ‘in’ takes the dative case of there is no movement towards the room. Other than that a very fine piece !.

  13. 13
    ClockEndRider says:

    U21s vs Abu Dhabi Sportswashers live on .com. 2-2 currently.

  14. 14
    Doctor Faustus says:

    A wonderful, superlative preview Bath! And aristocratically dismissive of the uncouth nouveau riche. Lovely!

    I want to sing in harmony with many other astute denizens of this fine establishment: play Zinchenko as left sided number 8!

    Not going to happen though. I suspect we will see Kai in that role (and not #9), Eddie up front and Zinchenko either on his wandering left back role or on the bench.

    A lot rests on Ødegaard-Saka-Martinelli in attack… good that Martin in the brief cameo in midweek seems to have shaken off whatever that was troubling him.

    Come on Arsenal!

  15. 15
    bathgooner says:

    Thanks for the kind words, fellas.

    Thanks for the correction, Trev. My knowledge of German comes from the BBC courses Kontakte, Wegweiser and Kein Problem some 45 years ago which focused primarily on the acquisition of conversational skills and minimised grammar. It made the lessons much more enjoyable but shows whenever I try to use it!

  16. 16
    bt8 says:

    relevation = revelation @6 sbove.

    What a relief to get that off my chest

  17. 17
    North Bank Ned says:

    Today in Saudi Sportswashing:

    Saudi Arabia has expressed interest in buying a multibillion-dollar stake in the Indian Premier League, international cricket’s most lucrative event, following a string of investments that have upended professional sports including football and golf.

    Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s advisers have sounded out Indian government officials about moving the IPL into a holding company valued at as much as $30 billion, in which Saudi Arabia would then take a significant stake, people familiar with the matter said.


  18. 18
    Uplympian says:

    A truly masterful preview Bath.
    I would like to see Tomi at LB, Zinny at L8 and Kai at CF. They would give a better balance in the type of match I expect to unfold. Kai at CF should be able to hold up play
    awaiting arrival of MF / winger support and not bounce off the big toon defenders more likely from Eddie.
    We need to put Wednesdays disappointing performance behind us – every player should be up for this one – no excuses from the players or the management.

  19. 19
    Noosa Gooner says:

    In recognition of new Beatles material – fab preview thanks Bath.
    Eddie Howe may like Arsene Wenger but I don’t like Newcastle although I don’t mind their beer, in moderation.
    In summary, I hope we smash them and wipe their barcodes at least 3-0.

  20. 20
    OsakaMatt says:

    As others have said well, great stuff Bath,
    2-0 to the good guys

  21. 21
    BtM says:

    Uply @18, what is it about Kai’s performances in red to date that gives you confidence that he’ll be able to hold up play if he starts at CF?

  22. 22
    Trev says:

    Bath @15, yes, apologies, but my knowledge of German involved spending endless hours of cramming grammar tables into my head until the ending of every article, adjective, gender and case was correct, depending on what was happening in the sentence and which prepositions might be governing it, whether things were singular or plural – and that is why I am hopelessly compelled to correct the merest mistake.

    It’s surprising there are any great German authors as pure expression and emotion have to wrestle their way through all the constraints of grammar and position that govern them.

    And now ….. back to the football. More apologies.

  23. 23
    BtM says:

    I’m viewing the game in Madrid tonight. Anyone know the best Sports Bar here? All reccs very welcome.

  24. 24
    bt8 says:

    BtM I have no current info but FWIW 40 years ago the Santiago Bernabeu was surrounded, especially on the south side, by cervecerias that showed Spanish league games

  25. 25
    bathgooner says:

    Ødegard not in tonight’s squad. Havertz needs to step up in this game He’s playing the inside right position in which he made his name in Germany. An opportunity to prove himself and silence the naysayers.

    Let’s do this!!

  26. 26
    OsakaMatt says:

    Kicking Longstaff is a public service.

  27. 27
    Las says:

    Hi Bath, excellent preview. I loved the historycal part.
    Sadly this Newcastle and the refereing is disgrace. Where was the VAR?
    This is the Saudi money. Cheating all the way.
    Sad day for football.

  28. 28
    bathgooner says:

    Apart from 1) failing to penetrate the well-organised Sportswashers defence often enough to create good chances, and 2) Raya’s handling of both crosses leading to the goal, this was an excellent performance by the Arsenal players. They were robbed by VAR again and Arteta was rightly incensed. No doubt, the FA/PL are meeting tonight to decide how big the fine will be and how long he will be banned from the touchline for suggesting that the PGMOL muppets are embarrassingly incompetent. Arteta is of course right but they won’t/can’t do anything about it except fine him and ban him.

    He didn’t mention the corruption though. Follow the money!

  29. 29
    ClockEndRider says:

    What Bath said. The sheer volume of poor decisions, despite video evidence, cannot be down solely to mistakes. It’s not anti- Arsenal. It’s anti- sporting integrity. I’m sick of it.

  30. 30
    Sancho Panza says:

    Played two lost two.

    Must be November.

  31. 31
    TTG says:

    That wasn’t a valid goal. We didn’t deserve to lose but I’d like to nail down what sort of form/ source the corruption takes
    – Saudi / Abu Dhabi bribery of PGMOL
    – Sky’s tacit encouragement of incorrect decisions to create controversy
    – some other nefarious source and method .
    Let me make it absolutely clear I don’t believe English football is corrupt in the sense that money changes hands to influence officials . The problem is that it is a game involving huge amounts of money being administered and officiated by idiots. ‘ They can’t find the angle that proves conclusively etc ‘ , ‘ they are unsure where to draw the lines to prove offside ‘, byline technology does not yet exist’. That is what Arteta is raging about. The people who oversee the game are VERY poor at it . I don’t believe they are dishonest just incompetent.
    I believe Man City are dishonest,I believe Chelsea have been dishonest and both clubs have cheated but I don’t believe the outcome of games is decided by corrupt methods .
    Apart from the non-existent goal we lost because they tied up our attacking threats and we didn’t create enough chances

  32. 32
    OsakaMatt says:

    For many years I have generally shared that opinion TTG – I don’t doubt there have been isolated incidents of corruption but it was usually incompetence not corruption. However, it’s increasingly difficult to maintain that position given the evidence before our eyes, regardless, as Bath said MA will now be punished for being correct and we have no points from the game.
    I can only hope the sense of injustice will propel us to a run of victories.

  33. 33
    TTG says:

    So are we saying that certain owners are bribing the Premier League to alter/ fix the outcome of matches ? Really ?
    The incompetence is so random . When Manchester United dominated they seemed to get regular favouritism from refs and they had one ref ( Riley ) who was like a good luck charm to them. Citeh seem impervious to bad luck and rarely get bad decihagainst them , especially if Michael Oliver is reffing . But I still can’t accept this is drlibeyebrn
    if there is unconscious bias

  34. 34
    OsakaMatt says:

    No, I agree what you say about the PL and also I think it it impractical to bribe the PGMOL
    as they don’t influence the actual decisions you want to go in your favour,
    Basically the game is based on very fine margins these days and you often just need a key decision to go your way. For a state level player I think it is easily possible to arrange tp bribe individuals – it doesn’t need to be obvious just provide say 50k and ask that the VAR guys lean your way on a key decision once in a game. It does not guarantee you win but it does give you maybe 80% return on 50/50 decisions and for only 50k – good business if you are accustomed to doing business in such a fashion. The only basic needs are a middleman to give you plausible deniability and a mechanism to make payments in a way that is very difficult to trace if there is an investigation. Actually, an investigation is unlikely because certainly the PL / PGMOL won’t favour one and the “clear and obvious error” approach can facilitate a whole truckload of grey area corruption opportunities where wrongdoing is impossible to prove without a smoking gun.
    That’s probably how I would do it anyway, but I am sure these guys are smarter than me and capable of making things happen quite easily.

  35. 35
    BtM says:

    Delighted by Arteta’s post match comments. Disappointed, but not surprised by Howe undermining MA8 in his comments. In my opinion we’re suffering from gross incompetence in all things refereeing. I’m suspicious of the corruption proposition.

    I suspect that all coaches feel very aggrieved by bad decisions against their team. The more bold have begun to speak out on these. A big thank you to all of them. The next step upward will require those same coaches to do exactly what Howe failed to do last night and say “That goal should never have stood”. That will be a new landmark.

  36. 36
    OsakaMatt says:

    I have some sympathy for Howe and his inability to see things. I have hunting high and low for Howe’s integrity and can’t find it anywhere 😃

    I should have said @34 that I hope TTG is right!

  37. 37
    bathgooner says:

    I will only add that, PGMOL, an organisation that should be striving to be far above any suspicion of corruption in a business awash with money where its operatives can hugely influence outcomes from which the rewards for success are massive, is repeatedly sending out the wrong message.

  38. 38
    bathgooner says:

    Absolutely right, Matt @36, the man has already demonstrated shiftiness, Sophistry and dishonesty but not an ounce of integrity. A perfect fit for Saudi Sportswashers.

  39. 39
    Sancho Panza says:

    VAR aside our creativity was next to non existent (as was theirs) and we have a real problem with second string players stepping up in games like this. The injuries we have always seem to happen to key players. On top of this Saka and Martinelli drop a level if we are struggling. If we have improved from last season and I don’t believe we have , others around us certainly have. And please bring back Ramsdale ffs.

  40. 40
    bathgooner says:

    Does anyone know who the incompetent/felon was on VAR for our match yesterday?

  41. 41
    TTG says:

    I do and here it becomes interesting
    It was Andy Mackey who was demoted after not giving Arsenal a penalty in Jan 2023-Against Newcastle 🤢🤢
    In fact I think it was after more than one duff decision. He is an unimpressive referee but then in the PGMOL who isn’t ?

  42. 42
    TTG says:

    If I was responsible for VAR appointments at PGMOL woukd I have put a referee in charge who had been heavily criticised for his performance between the same two teams eleven months before?
    In fact if it had been up to me I would have had Ian Wright as ref with Martin Keown on VAR !

  43. 43
    Ollie says:

    It was Andy Madley. I suspect TTG’s still angry enough for his fingers to be a but fidgety and hitting a couple of wrong keys mid-name.

  44. 44
    Ollie says:

    Bit not but, clearly mine are still affected too!

  45. 45
    TTG says:

    Too right Ollie
    It went to Autocorrect but the culprit is Madley!

  46. 46
    Bathgooner says:

    Madely should be horsewhipped within an inch of his life. Shooting is too good for him.

  47. 47
    ClockEndRider says:

    Bring back the birch, I say!

  48. 48
    Bathgooner says: