Feed on

I got my first car as a college sophomore. It was the missing piece in my freedom puzzle. A 1988 black, Plymouth Reliant K-Car sedan with red, leather interior; that car shuttled me around north Florida and up and down the U.S. east coast during most of the 1990s. It ran great but, occasionally, the engine just wouldn’t start no matter what I did. The Arsenal of this past Festive period (especially the part where we failed to put the ball in the back of the net) called to mind memories of the Black Hornet when the damned engine just wouldn’t start. 

The Lineups.

After winless results from our last three premier league matches, we needed to take all three points hosting a hapless Palace team. I admit, however, the team news of Trossard starting in place of Martinelli didn’t convince me that we would begin the game with all pistons firing. As we’ll see, that substitution might turn out to have been a master stroke. Arteta relied on a now familiar formation at the kick-off:





I am unsure what to actually say about Palace. Although I have no time for the way they treated Vieira, I still have a soft spot for the Eagles. Selhurst Park is one of the grounds I have personally attended (a solid venue), and Roy Hodgson seems a reasonably honorable man. A longtime servant of the game, he just seems to be that guy who always has a few Werther’s Originals at the ready in his coat pocket. You know…for the kids. But, that said, Palace have been so poor. Injuries, questionable personnel moves, and a toothless attack have transformed a solidly mid-table team into one, I fear, destined for a relegation scrap. Happily for us, Roy set-up to constrict central spaces and perhaps eke out a draw:


Eze—Hughes—Lerma— Schlupp



Perhaps it was the lack of Dubai’s sun and warmth or maybe it was the angst of expectation, but, after a rousing, scarf-waiving rendition of North London Forever, Arsenal’s attack didn’t exactly roar to life. We possessed the ball, probed, and recycled. Ødegaard did Ødegaard-things, Jesus did Jesus-things, and we took the territory meekly offered by Palace. Our offensive engine did threaten to sputter to life as the lively Benjamin White made some confident, early passes over the top to Saka, as well as a couple of bold overlapping runs and Trossard won a corner from an incisive Zinchenko line-splitting pass. It’s obvious now that, while the gaffer was visiting Salt Bae, set-piece coach Nicolas Jover was busily putting the lads through their paces in Dubai. Rice’s enticing delivery, and a pick scheme that would have made Bill Laimbeer proud, allowed our under-appreciated sparkplug, Gabriel (Big Gabby) to head home at the far post.

Arsenal 1 – Crystal Palace 0.

After the precedent set by the VAR debacle at St. James’ Park (you know, that two hands pushing into Big Gabby’s neck is not enough of a foul to rule out a goal), imagine my consternation as the stalwarts of competition integrity in Stokely Park contrived to take several minutes to review a manifestly good goal. I went to kitchen to make myself toast and a coffee.

Ten minutes later (I kid, I kid), being unable to find a reason to deny, again, a manifestly good goal, the scoreline was affirmed…and we celebrated again.

Palace roused a bit, and solid play from the serviceable Eze forced the Arsenal backline to pass the ball a bit too much in our final third for my liking. From one of these episodes, Saliba (cooler than the underside of the pillow) Cruyff-turned in our penalty area and passed to Raya who, despite not much pressure, “cleared” the ball straight to the opposition. Raya’s mistake created one of Palace’s only threats of the game as Lerma forced Raya into a good save at his near post. Arsenal increased their intensity, pushed Palace back, and won another corner…this time from the right. Saka dutifully provided the floated cross to the far post, and picks from Trossard (big credit to the wee lad for going in amongst the “trees”) and White again freed Big Gabby at the far post to nod home off the back of Henderson’s noggin.

Again, VAR contrived to give the supporters at the ground a chance to join the queue for a pint (and give yours truly time to fix a delicious breakfast sammich of bacon, egg and cheese on brioche), but could find no rationale to rule out the goal. As a Parthian shot, however, the Dubious Goals Committee acted swiftly to award the score as an own-goal. Notwithstanding this slight, Gabriel was immense on this day. His intelligence, his physical presence and his competitive fire sparked us to life. It’s up to us to keep that fire going in the second half of this season.

HT: Arsenal 2 – Crystal Palace 0.

As the second half kicked off, my feelings mirrored those I saw on Arsenal X, nee Twitter. The two goals were great, just what the doctor ordered, but our attack was still sputtering. Our three forwards, although active, hadn’t put the ball in the back of the net. We needed Saka and Jesus to get going. This time, Raya, making amends for his errant first-half clearance, claimed a speculative cross from Hughes and set Jesus free with an excellent toss. Jesus exploded down the right and played an inch-perfect “squared-ball” to an onrushing Trossard. Trossard, having acres of space in the middle of the park, sat Clyne down and fired the ball into the stranded Henderson’s net. What a finish! An open-play goal, the likes of which we hadn’t seen in weeks.

Arsenal 3 – Crystal Palace 0.

The third goal really knocked the stuffing out of the Eagles and provided an opportunity for several substitutions (speaking of stuffing, did you know that Benjamin Franklin advocated the turkey as the U.S. National Bird…not the Bald Eagle?) After a knock, Big Gabby was replaced by Kiwior. ESR came on for Havertz; Nketiah spelled Jesus; Martinelli replaced Trossard; and, most worryingly, Jorginho subbed on for Rice who, evidently, complained of hamstring tightness (at the time of writing, there was no further update on Rice’s injury status). Now, to be clear, these substitutions did not all occur contemporaneously. Indeed, Smith-Rowe’s most dangerous contribution took place from a slightly overhit Jesus pass. Smith-Rowe was unable to control the pass for a shot, but he made a solid thirty-minute cameo and a case for more playing time. Kiwior did Kiwior-things, and Jorginho and Nketiah both made solid contributions (more on this anon).

More interestingly, and disregarding the sample size of one, I wonder if Arteta chose this match to experiment with bringing Martinelli off the bench to run at tired legs. Trossard was subbed off in the sixty-ninth minute, and Martinelli’s pace immediately brought Arsenal’s offensive engine roaring to life. Midway through stoppage time, Eze lost the ball on the Palace attacking left, Nketiah drove at the stuttering Palace backline, and played an exquisite through-ball to Martinelli. The medium-sized Gabby accelerated into the box, opened his hips, and, channeling the great Henry himself, passed the ball around the hapless Henderson into the far corner of the net. Cue celebratory limbs.

Arsenal 4 – Crystal Palace 0.

As Palace vainly looked to the heavens for a savior (Jesus, however, was already safely ensconced on our bench) and Roy fumbled in his coat pockets for another piece of hard candy, Jorginho enabled the coup de grâce. Just a minute or so after the goal, Saliba collected a Henderson clearance and passed the ball off to Jorginho who clipped it over the weary Palace back four into Martinelli’s path. The lad had his Ferrari engine purring as he reprised his initial strike with another Henry-esque bending finish. Bravo!

FT Arsenal 5 – Crystal Palace 0.

The final whistle mercifully came. The Palace fans unfurled several banners decrying Yank ownership and a lack of shared vision. I can empathize, but I did feel for Roy who cut a lonely figure on the touchline staring forlornly at those expressions of opprobrium. However, I am not a Palace supporter, and this, thankfully, is not a Palace blog…so, take that you Eaglets!


We needed this performance and these three points. I can hardly believe I need to say this, but we’ve only four losses. We’re only two points off the top spot, and there are so many games left to play. With any luck, this victory will be the octane-booster we need to get the forwards scoring again. I was intrigued to see Saka switching to the left several times during this match. Perhaps that can give the offense a different look? Maybe Trossard and Reiss-Nelson can provide the left-side opening act that sets the table for Martinelli to give us thirty-five or forty minutes of hell-for leather attack? Maybe Smith-Rowe or a returning Vieira can help preserve Ødegaard’s cutting edge? If we get a few returns from the injury table and put together a good run of wins, who knows what could happen?

If you start us up…(maybe) we’ll never stop.


79 Drinks to “If You Start Me Up…”

  1. 1
    bt8 says:

    Re: BtM at the end of the last drinks, “ TTG has come up with this cunning scheme whereby if I drink 20 pints of the free beer their the cost of the ticket comes for free also.”

    He’s a sly one, isn’t he? 😂

    Now, on to read Lonestar’s report

  2. 2
    ClockEndRider says:

    Nice review, LG. Pretty much the way I saw the game from a chilly Block 10. In fairness a nice game to come back to, with Palace having played midweek and being without Olise as well, but you can only beat what’s in front of you.
    I was impressed with Smith- Rowe and even more so with Eze for Palace. On that showing he’d be a genuine stand-in for Odegaard if we could get him.

  3. 3
    bt8 says:

    Bill Laimbeer was like a rock setting a pick for his Detroit Pistons, in case anybody missed the hoops reference.😎

  4. 4
    BtM says:

    Didn’t see the game and having read your review LG, I didn’t need to. Excellent stuff. Three important points and a superb confidence booster for Martinelli. On to the next win at Forest.

  5. 5
    scruzgooner says:

    nice work, you k-car-driving texan 🤣. just the game i saw at 0430, and a relaxing one to have watched from *on* the couch rather than from behind it. a most subdued thrashing of a not very good team.

    bt8 i (for one) couldn’t miss the bad boy reference. nor the stuart scott reference…as missed by many american sports fans as john motson by their english counterparts.

  6. 6
    Ollie says:

    Cheers, Lonestar. Accurate description.
    I don’t know how the Black Hornet’s story ended, but I suspect parallels with the Arsenal have to be limited to difficulties in starting the engine?
    (Unless it then cost a fortune to run since you never dared stop the engine again…)

  7. 7
    TTG says:

    Stylish and enjoyable report Lonestar . I’m trying to get my head around a Texan visiting Selhurst Park ! Thornton Heath is about the most boring place on earth and it deserves a team like Palace .
    I thought we tackled the task well. As the game wore on we got better but we had clearly made positive progress in Dubai. How my heart went out to the poor wretches being dragged to the Gulf when they could have enjoyed January in UK.
    We have MUCH bigger challenges to come and that Liverpool game is a Must win. I don’t expect us to add much in the window. Our hands were tied by the summer activity . But I am very optimistic about what we could achieve in the Champions League this season

  8. 8
    bt8 says:

    Finally having gotten a few moments to read to the end of your oh so entertainingly written match report, let me say “Thank You Lonestar” for the chance to relive the eminently reliveable 5-0 to the Arsenal 5-0 to the Arsenal, complete with rapid sammich-making descriptives and Big Gabby and medium-sized Gabby firing on all cylinders. What on Earth could there possibly be that’s not to like?

  9. 9
    North Bank Ned says:

    Grand review, LG. Ignition on and on a roll. Hapless is a good description of Palace at the moment.

    Some insightful points from Mike McDonald, especially about Ødegaard not crowding Saka. So it wasn’t all working on corners in Dubai.

    ….. and the monkey got down: the Arsenalverse lightens up (Positives Needs &. Hopes) [ARS 5-0 CRY]

    The word on Trossard starting over medium-sized Gabi (love that!) is that the Brazilian isn’t fully fit, and the coaches weren’t sure he could start.

  10. 10
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks LG, an excellent review of an enjoyable game. And I can but agree MCMBD.

  11. 11
    BtM says:

    5 points adrift of the Dippers. Those six points lost in a week vs Hammers and Fulham are stinging. Should be leading by a point.

  12. 12
    Bathgooner says:

    An excellent review, LG. Very much the game I enjoyed from TTG’s throne on the North Upper. I love the analogy with your Plymouth Reliant. Did your steed resemble the much loved Reliant Robin, perchance?

    You don’t exaggerate the interminable delay after each of the first two goals during which it was clear to all within the stadium that there was some demurring going on but no indication whatsoever on the screens within the stadium that there was an official VAR review going on – maybe we are now getting unofficial VAR reviews?

  13. 13
    Ollie says:

    Good point, bath. I was not actually aware of a VAR check for these goals, so was wondering what took so long to restart. I mean I guessed VAR would have been involved, at least for the first goal when Palace players asked for a foul, but the second one I had no idea. It’s only on reading reviews that I was truly aware of VAR on these.
    It’s only for the third goal that the VAR review was mentioned on the screens. (and having seen the replays now, how was it worth it and why did it take so long? Trossard seemed nowhere near offside).

  14. 14
    OsakaMatt says:

    Yeah, I was baffled by the Trossard review too, it was obvious he was on.
    Perhaps the officials were just enjoying the declyne and fall of Nathaniel again.

  15. 15
    North Bank Ned says:

    Ollie@13: VAR checks every goal, but not every check turns into a review (when VAR thinks the officials may have got it wrong and tells the ref to hold up play while it investigates). Only reviews are announced, although when a ref taps his/her earpiece that is the signal that one is underway.

    Trossard’s goal was close to being offside. VAR showed a single green line, not the customary pair, which means the lines overlapped, ie Trossard was level and thus onside.

  16. 16
    Ollie says:

    Thanks for the clarification, Ned. If only the PGMOL could be as clear….

  17. 17
    Pangloss says:

    Ned@15 – You have mail.

  18. 18
    Esso says:

    Cheers LG!

  19. 19
    Trev says:

    Thanks, Lonestar for an enjoyable read on a Monday, very late, lunch time.

    The most intriguing thing to come out of this game for me happened in added time. Twice.
    It was the way that Martinelli ran past defenders onto through balls and then scored with two very calm, assured finishes that were right out of the Thierry Henry coaching manual.
    He did this, albeit more centrally, at Old Trafford and scored a goal that was then controversially ruled out by VAR because Erikson had fallen over five minutes beforehand. But the pace, body shape and bend to the far post are all there. Martinelli has laboured a bit this season when marked by two defenders and an entire touchline. Maybe this more central freedom with the option to go either side suits him better.
    That would also allow Jesus to move out of the central role that doesn’t suit him either, and to his more familiar wide position. Remember Thierry was also a left winger before his conversion.
    Alternatively, if big(gest) Gabriel could learn to shoot, he might save us £100 million on a striker – he would certainly score his share of headers.

  20. 20
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Thanks for the excellent and enjoyable preview Lonestar!
    I thought the best thing about this performance was that we can get much, much better.

    Raya’s distribution was exceptional throughout the match, and the one mistake he made in playing out from the back he atoned for with a good save. He gets fair amount of criticism when he is less than completely reassuring. This performance deserves some credit. Leo’s goal was such a delight — from Raya’s quick and accurate distribution to Jesus’s sumptuous pass to Leo’s trademark cool headed finish, a classic Arsenal goal.

    Martinelli hasn’t found too many opportunities this season to face the GK one-on-one given how tightly he is double marked by all teams, and those two goals was a clear demonstration that he hasn’t lost his finishing abilities. His relatively poor numbers in PL compared to last season is due to the team rarely creating those opportunities for him to break past the defenders through to goal.

    ESR looked good on and off the ball. A fully fit ESR for the second half of the season will be a great boost.

  21. 21
    Bathgooner says:

    RIP Luigi Riva, one of the best centre forwards there’s ever been.

  22. 22
    Uplympian says:

    Many thanks LG, that was a very pleasant read.
    The opposition may have been poor on the day but we managed to find 5 goals withou playing particular well – I’ll settle for that any day. Hopefully this has put the mini slump well & truly behind us and we are on the move again.Fingers crossed the injuries to Rice & Big Gabby are minor and they will be fully fit when we visit the forest next week.

  23. 23
    North Bank Ned says:

    It has been a while, with a long match week spanning the winter break, but the latest GHF Predictathon rankings are posted. You know where to find them…

  24. 24
    North Bank Ned says:

    bath@21: Riva could certainly score goals — the sort of nine we could use now: tall, fast, technically proficient, powerful and prolific. He is probably not as well remembered outside Italy as within, but he was one of the best strikers anywhere; 205 goals in 380 games for club and country speaks for itself. RIP.

  25. 25
  26. 26
    Ollie says:

    Great article, cheers C100.

  27. 27
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@25: I am shocked, shocked! to find that football is Pecksniffianly run.

  28. 28
    Bathgooner says:

    Great link, C100 @25. Jonathan Lieu hits the nail on the head as usual. The real test of the New Morality Premier League is the appropriateness of the sanctions they wield against Chelsea and Shitteh. both should involve an axe.

    A brilliant literary allusion, Ned @27.

    Just pulling my stuff together for the long haul west.

    Adios amigos. Hi ho, Silver!

  29. 29
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks C100 for the link. In answer to Liew’s final comment about whether it is too late for the PL to regain trust, I can’t remember they ever had any.
    The low point was the Burnley Finance Director, Snouty Troughsnuffler, or something like that, asserting that the likes of Burnley are the guardians of the true spirit of football.

    To be fair, if they boot Shitteh out and take away all their trophies, and then boot Newcastle because the owners blatantly lied about being state run then I will start to take them seriously.

  30. 30
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Lovely interview by Zinchenko. Honest, intelligent, dignified and passionate.

    And I think a nice gesture by the Athletic to publish it on the Day of Unity of Ukraine.

  31. 31
    Bathgooner says:

    Welcome to @AFSCLondon members. Please feel free to join or initiate discussions in the Drinks. 🍻 Check out the tab at the top of the site labelled ‘The Guvnor’s Rules to ensure that your contributions don’t transgress our highly reasonable rules on acceptable behaviour.

  32. 32
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks for the link Dr F. , Zin came across well as usual and was quite up front about his season so far. He’s had several very good games, the latest against Palace for example, but it’s been a tough season for him. It’s also great that he and other Ukrainian sports players have recently been keeping up awareness as best they can, it’s a long haul but I hope and believe the vast majority of people will continue to support.

  33. 33
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Thanks Matt@32.

    From my personal experience I can tell you the immense psychological and emotional stress Ukrainians go through on day to day basis, and those who are living outside the country also constantly feel a kind of helplessness and sometimes even guilt, in addition to the anxiety and anger. All these sportspersons are professionals and they are of course trying their best to concentrate on their performance, but they are also human beings and I have nothing but admiration and respect for the extraordinary effort they must have to put on a day to day basis.

  34. 34
    TTG says:

    Great link C100
    I think Liew is the best sportswriter currently active in the UK media .
    In other news KT3 has done his hamstring again and will be out for some time . I’d live him back but he’s sooo fragile

  35. 35
    North Bank Ned says:

    A gnomic off-cycle update on the GHF Predictathon alternative predictions. All but two players have now been eliminated from the League Cup predictions.

  36. 36
    North Bank Ned says:

    It is quite remarkable that Egypt and DR Congo will play each other in the Round of 16 at Afcon, with neither side having yet won a game.

  37. 37
    Lonestar Gooner says:

    Many thanks for all the kind words, chums. Onwards and upwards.


  38. 38
    Countryman100 says:

    Richard Garlick to become managing director in the summer.


  39. 39
    OsakaMatt says:

    Nice to see a promotion from within to MD and there is plenty of room for growth so it could be well timed for him too,

  40. 40
    North Bank Ned says:

    The new Deloitte Money League contains this paragraph:

    For the first time since 2018/19 a new club entered the Money League top 10, with Arsenal replacing Juventus (who fell from 9th to 11th), primarily by virtue of the significant matchday revenue generated, which was almost three times that of the Serie A club in 2021/22. Whilst Juventus and other Italian clubs played a significant portion of their season under the crowd restrictions noted previously, it also reflects a significant return on the investment into the Emirates stadium and goes some way to justifying the infrastructure investment being explored by clubs such as Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, the Milan clubs and Everton, who are looking to future-proof their businesses..

    However, given that the Ems is not a revenue-generating multi-purpose/sports stadium on the scale Real’s revamped Bernabéu and Barca’s Nou Camp will be, or Levy’s toilet bowl at the wrong end of the Seven Sisters Road is, I wonder if a stadium makeover will be high on Richard Garlick’s agenda if the room for growth, or at least financial growth, that OM spots is to be realised.


  41. 41
    North Bank Ned says:

    The revamped Bernabeu is an engineering marvel, not least in that the pitch disappears underground in sections to be cut, watered and fertilised, far more impressive than the system at the neighbours, which just slides the pitch into a car park on a tray to expose the American football gridiron underneath.

  42. 42
    Sancho Panza says:

    Thanks Ned. I suppose a stadium makeover can only be limited to a lick of paint. The toilet bowl only generates more income because it can put on other sports. The Emirates can never compete with that, which is a shame because its location is far superior to that shithole further north.
    I see Pep hasn’t quite grasped the fact that lawyering up and paying a reduced fine and getting a suspended ban from European competition doesn’t mean Shitty City didn’t break the rules of over inflating their sponsorship revenue.

  43. 43
    OsakaMatt says:


    Yes, it’s odd that we are comparatively good at generating matchday revenue and comparatively bad elsewhere. Of course London prices and the fans being the low hanging fruit in the equation is part of the reason for one as is the loss of CL income for the other.
    Or are we just lazy once we’ve picked a pocket or two?

    I wonder how high we will go if MA continues his progress with our fortunes.

    It’s also odd that it is not my money but I still don’t like being 10th 😂😂

  44. 44
    North Bank Ned says:

    SP@42: What intrigues me about stadium development at the moment is the emerging trend in the US to build mixed-use campuses anchored on a sports team (or teams) that have stadia, concert venues, and commercial, retail, leisure and hospitality facilities in one location so team owners have multiple revenue streams independent of their team(s) performance on the field. The gold standard is Stan Kroenke’s So-Fi development in Inglewood near Los Angeles, which sits on a site three times the size of Disneyland. The Washington ice hockey and basketball teams are talking about moving from DC to something similar in Arlington, Virginia, and they are not alone in going down this route. This is a step up from what the neighbours did in purpose-building a multi-sports stadium (though that has transformed the club’s finances). Finding large sites is a lot easier in the US than in Europe, but what Real Madrid and Barca are managing to pack into their sites is quite remarkable. Real is building a museum at the Bernabeu that it is estimated will generate more annual revenue than most La Liga clubs get from their broadcasting rights. The rich get richer. I wonder what Kroenke might have done had he inherited Highbury rather than the Emirates.

  45. 45
    North Bank Ned says:

    OM@43: It is the commercial revenue (sponsorships and the like) that we are worst at. Is it a global brand thing?

  46. 46
    North Bank Ned says:

    Klopp is leaving Liverpool at the end of the season. Odd time to announce it. Big boots to fill. and his successor will have to take on a team that Klopp has just rebuilt. Gerrard next to leave Saudi Arabia, perhaps.

  47. 47
    Countryman100 says:

    Ned @46. Gerrard was a disaster at Villa. Xabi Alonso a much better bet.

  48. 48
    OsakaMatt says:

    Could be certainly. We seem to have a lot of support around the world as far as i recall Ned. Up there with Liverpool and just behind Man U but it was several years ago I read some numbers and they were only PL comparisons and of course that doesn’t correlate exactly to global brand power.
    I never felt we were serious about building the brand until later in AW’s time, unfortunately that coincided with some leaner times and I suppose we are playing catch up now.

  49. 49
    OsakaMatt says:

    Maureen is available. Or perhaps they could tempt Moyes back to Merseyside.
    However, I hope they go with Gerrard as he is a total duffer.

  50. 50
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@47 and OM@49: I was being facetious about Gerrard. He would be the new Lampard in managerial terms. Nonetheless, the bookies have him as the fourth favourite to get the job at 20/1. Xabi Alonso is the short odds favourite with Robert Di Zerbi and Klopp’s assistant Pep Lijnders in the frame. Nagelsmann, Luis Enrique, Ange Postecoglou and Zinedine Zidane also among the runners and riders. One could only wish for Maureen, but I can’t see Henry and Werner ever taking such a retrograde step.

  51. 51
    bt8 says:

    Jaime Carragher is my choice if for nothing else than the chance to hear his squeaky moaning voice explaining his latest failure

  52. 52
    bt8 says:

    Well in with a weighty half ton Ned.

  53. 53
    Sancho Panza says:

    I wish we had signed Xavi Alonso.
    I’m sure he will be their next manager. I believe he is doing rather well in Germany.

  54. 54
    Ollie says:

    Well in for the half-ton, Ned!
    And indeed Gerrard at Liverpool would be the dream ticket. For us.
    But unless Boehly buys them, it’s not happening.

  55. 55
    TTG says:

    Spuds have ensured they won’t suffer fixture congestion this season . They missed Son but they didn’t look good

  56. 56
    OsakaMatt says:

    Yes, Carragher would be an excellent choice too bt8 😃

  57. 57
    Trev says:

    Ned, and others, @various above – and in general – you, Sir, are a font of knowledge on football matters and a genuine asset to this bar. I haven’t often had time lately to engage straight away but your posts are always enlightening and appreciated.

  58. 58
    Trev says:

    It would be hilarious to see Liverpool play the “dna” card and appoint Steeeeve Gerraaaard as manager but they surely won’t be that stupid. His team was successful in Scotland in an uncompetitive league but his time at Villa is best evaluated by comparison with what Unai Emery has done with the same players.
    Of the likely candidates reported to date, the most likely to me would be another recruit from the Bundesliga where Xabi Alonso has been doing a very good job with Bayer Leverkusen – although he could hardly fail with Captain Granit to rely on.

  59. 59
    Countryman100 says:

    It’s interesting watching 20 year old Omari Hutchinson playing for Ipswich in the Cup against Maidstone United. A Hale End graduate, he transferred to Chelsea and is now on loan to high flying Ipswich. He’s playing as an inverted right winger, with a great left foot and keeps roasting his full back. He’s laid on several great chances, hit the post, caused a fine save and puts in a fine corner.

    Trouble is of course, he played in Saka’s position. You can’t win them all.

    Incidentally Maidstone have just gone one up!

  60. 60
    North Bank Ned says:

    Hutchinson is very much a cup player for the Tractor Boys. He has started all but one of their EFL and FA Cup games. He’s struggled to make it into the league side: seven starts in 27 Championship games with 19 appearances off the bench. He also struggled to make an impact at Chelsea. He was well regarded as a prospect at Hale End, I believe, but I suspect he is one of those players talented enough to have a decent career at a decent level but is a gnat’s crochet shy of being a starter at an elite club. The level of Academy players is so high these days that it is tougher than ever for one of them to make a breakthrough.

  61. 61
    Countryman100 says:

    Hutchinson subbed off after 68 minutes with Ipswich losing 2-1 at home to non league Maidstone United

  62. 62
    BtM says:

    @60 Gnat’s crochets are noted for their complete invisibility in the East Neuk. In fact, gnats themselves are only ever rarely heard and almost never seen, unlike their smaller brethren the midge (more commonly heard described as “those fucking bastard midges”) which, though less numerous than on the west side of our small nation, nevertheless appear sufficiently often to be super major irritants. Whether or not gnats also have crochets is a detail well beyond my entomological instincts or understanding of insect dress style or even musicality.

    And here’s the rub, the crochet itself, at this moment, remains a complete unknown. Is it an anatomical feature perhaps? Or rather some station on an insect musical progression? Maybe an essential component of a six-legged creature’s wardrobe?

    Perhaps the monks might be encouraged to cast some light on this subject to enable some measure of the extent to which Omari Hutchinson might be failing to cut the mustard?

  63. 63
    Countryman100 says:

    I see we’ve started on the water of life early on this Saturday evening BtM. And, frankly, why the hell not? It’s almost 6pm, so time for a wee dram 🥃 .

  64. 64
    TTG says:

    Do gnats crochet ? I thought they only did embroidery .
    I report from Kent the nerve centre of British football. That’s an extraordinary result for Maidstone who have done extremely well to reinvent themselves after folding when in the old Fourth Division . They got two great breakaway goals

  65. 65
    Sancho Panza says:

    My wife is a keen crocheter able to knock up an Arsenal bobble hat in no time.

  66. 66
    Countryman100 says:


    Is she taking orders? I’m a large.

  67. 67
    North Bank Ned says:

    BtM@62: The monks refer you to the Urban Dictionary https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=gnat%27s%20crochet
    although in this case, the Uxbridge English Dictionary might be a more appropriate source.

    C100@66: Are you saying that you are a big ‘ed?

    TTG@64: Arsenal had connections to Maidstone in Herbert Chapman’s time. He used it as a nursery club for players who weren’t yet ready for his first team or reserves.

  68. 68
    OsakaMatt says:

    Genk and Anderlecht will replay their match in the Belgian league after a VAR error impacted the result. The game finished 2-1 but that result will be void now.
    How many exactly I am not sure, but there would be quite a lot of replays in the PL if that policy was followed.

    Another Arsenal connection to Maidstone is that I used to go to Maidstone dogs years ago 😃

  69. 69
    North Bank Ned says:

    Going to the dogs in Maidstone? So many do.

  70. 70
    OsakaMatt says:

    I expect they used to Ned. Haven’t been for many years to be honest but no doubt our man in Kent can let us know if it is still the place boring shitholes go to die.

  71. 71
    Countryman100 says:

    What a win for England in Hyderabad! And for the West Indies in Australia. A great day for Test Cricket.

  72. 72
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@71: Test cricket is still the best form of the game. Both games could have gone either way.

  73. 73
    TTG says:

    There are no dog tracks in Maidstone now. Sittingbourne is the nearest and if Mrs TTG is partial to an evening out we can occasionally be found having dinner there . My generosity knows no bounds .
    I echo C100’s delight at the Test wins for England and West Indies . Wonderful stuff.
    Less wonderful is this link from Barcelona -based Sport , picked up , as it woukd be by the ghastly Daily Fail that Arteta May walk at the end of the season
    I don’t believe a word of it

  74. 74
    Bathgooner in a snowdrift says:

    I’m catching up on Saturday’s blogs and must share this superb opinion piece by Keenos. Never a truer word.

  75. 75
    Bathgooner says:

    I really ought to add the link:


  76. 76
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@73: not a lot of fact and an awful lot of speculation in the Spanish report. And if as alleged in the article, Arteta is feeling the pressure and wear and tear of being at Arsenal, Barca hardly seems the place to go for a rest cure.

  77. 77
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks for the info TTG, i have never been to Sittingbourne. It’s been sad to see the decline of greyhound racing from afar but good to know some people are still going for dinner – to be fair to Maidstone dogs, the mixed grill was good and generously sized too.

    And thanks for the link Bath, a good article. My own tuppenceworth on his two questions would be firstly no, I wouldn’t recruit Klopp for Arteta if he was still available in a years’s time (unless of course things had gone badly wrong and MA had lost the dressing room).
    Secondly, would I see MA as a success if he won 1PL and 1 CL by 2027, maybe yes as I want the first CL. Like Keenos I was surprised Klopp has only won 4 trophies in 9 seasons.
    Though, of course, he also turned things round at a club that had just drifted for years.

  78. 78
    TTG says:

    I read that fine article by Keenos. He has been competing with a financially doomed rival financed by a nation state . I’d accept three more trophies in the next three years especially if one was the Champions League. He also came perilously close to winning the league again and Hus team has played great football. I think Klopp is a superb manager

  79. 79
    scruzgooner says: