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Hadrian’s Wall

Unless one was exceptionally enthusiastic about learning the long and colorful history of English football, for a non-English Arsenal fan – drawn towards the great London club by the magnetism of their football in the final years of the previous century – the name of Burnley was very unlikely to bring any sign of recognition for the first decade or so of following Arsenal. I first learned of Burnley Football Club when the premier league schedule for the 2009-10 season was published, the Lancashire side returning back to the top flight after thirty three years of absence.

Soon enough the awareness turned into a nearly visceral distaste for the club, their players, their supporters and most likely their manager. While Owen Coyle – a self-proclaimed Wenger devotee, who soon moved to Bolton, and eventually was charged with young jack Wilshere’s development on loan – earned Burnley the promotion into EPL, the club solidified their tenacious presence in the top division at the hands of Sean Dyche, who demonstrated a remarkable fondness for antediluvian footballing ethos that prided itself on blurring the boundaries between the beautiful game and fatal combat that would not have been misplaced in the battlefields of Roman Britain where the Brigantes of Northern England fought valiantly against Gnaeus Julius Agricola.

Especially at their home in Turf Moor – continuously in service since the foundation of Burnley football club in 1883 – Dyche’s horde, egged on by the bloodthirsty crowd that carried in their voices an atavistic hatred for anything and anyone south of the Hardian’s Wall, would merrily go about scything down anyone showing the temerity to express their creative instincts. Unfortunately for us, the Arsenal team of those years no longer had the “fight fire with fire” stalwarts of Arsène’s Highbury days, but a young side brimming with technical excellence whereas lacking the streetwise brio needed to overcome the threat on their lives and limbs.

At least that is retained in my memory as the primary impression of the recent encounters against the toughies from Turf Moor. However, memory can be deceptive. Our PL results away at Burnley have been, in the chronological order: 1-1, 0-1, 0-1, 0-1, 1-3, 0-0, 1-1, 0-1. There have been 21 matches – including PL, FA Cup and League Cup – between these two clubs in this century, and the head-to-head record stands at: Arsenal won 15, drew 4, and lost 2 matches. One 2-0 loss away at League cup in 2008; one 0-1 home loss in PL in 2020. In the process Arsenal outscored Burnley 37-12. So, despite the lasting impressions of those northern encounters, Dyche and co. were nowhere near the bogey team the painful memories of those matches may influence us into believing.

Moreover, one must admit that the intrinsic unpleasantness of Burnley’s football has been more than replaced by the progressive, attacking football philosophy of Vincent Kompany. A skillful ball-playing defender – irrespective of his unfortunate club affiliation, I have always admired the players, just as I did with YaYa Toure or Sergio Aguero – he has completely transformed Burnley’s football style, and brought them back into the PL on the strength of free-flowing football. It naturally took Kompany – a first time manager at this level – some time to get his team to become truly competitive at PL where the margins of error are nonexistent and the gap between the result and the performances are often determined by turning moments where concentration, discipline and experience matter as much as quality.

They are currently fighting to avoid relegation, sitting at the 19th position at the league table. However the form since the turn of the year has been steady, and the results in PL have started to improve: 1-1 and 2-2 home draws against Luton and Fulham, and 3-1 losses away at Manchester City and Liverpool, where the team had given an impressive account of themselves.

The winter break had evidently helped to refresh the legs and minds of the Arsenal squad as well. In the first 4 PL appearances of this new year we have beaten Crystal Palace 5-0 at home, Nottingham Forest 1-2 away, Liverpool 3-1 at home, and West Ham 0-6 away. 14 goals scored, 2 conceded. If we beat Burnley in Saturday afternoon’s encounter then it would be the very first team in PL history Arsenal will win the first five games of a calendar year.

More importantly, a victory this weekend will also maintain our momentum in retaining relevance at this season’s fascinating three-way fight for the league title. Based on Mikel’s interview comments – if he were ever to get bored with the mad mad world of football management, a politician’s career waits for him – I think we can safely guess that at least some of the previously injured players are likely to return to the squad this weekend. But I think he won’t risk starting any of them, given the midweek away tie at Porto in the Champions League, but also given that the last starting eleven surely deserve their chance to play together again after last weekend’s scintillating performance.


White – Saliba – Gabriel – Kiwior

Ødegaard – Rice – Havertz

Saka – Trossard – Martinelli

Enjoy the game everyone!

Come on Arsenal!

71 Drinks to “Hadrian’s Wall”

  1. 1
    ClockEndRider says:

    Nice preview, Dr. F. It is very interesting that you point out the difference in terms of recent results between reality and the narrative the media would have us believe. Far from being a bogey team, we have tended to win up there. As you rightly point out, a number of these victories have been hard fought, overly physical encounters, largely a result of Dyche’s adherence to a footballing style more akin to Rugby League. The troglodyte fans lap this up and can create a very hostile environment. I expect a similar, though perhaps rather less basic approach from Kompany’s men today. The Roman historian Tacitus puts a speech into the mouth of the northern leader Calgacus before a famous battle with the Romans where he says “The Romans make a desert, and call it peace”. I fancy our modern day Agricola to leave that corner of the north west a similar desiccated husk as he did Stratford last week.

  2. 2
    Countryman100 says:

    Nice preview Dr F. A reminder of my report of my only visit to Turf Moor, which was the last time we scored direct from a free kick, it all kicked off and I was hit by friendly fire.

    The Battle of Turf Moor

  3. 3
    TTG says:

    Another very original and well-written preview Dr F.
    For someone of my age ( 73) Burnley was not exactly seared into my consciousness at an early age but as I grew up following the game they were the second league champions I encountered . They won the league in 1960. Interesting that the Swampiest succeeded them and as our click attests haven’t won it since .
    We should have too much for them and hopefully don’t differentiate from the last team we played in claret and blue, carrying on where we left off.
    Unless there are injuries we don’t know of , I think you have the team right but with Porto in mind we might see Jorginho and Nketiah on relatively soon if things go well .
    I sense a 2-0 away victory coming on . COYG!

  4. 4
    Ollie says:

    Cheers Dr. F. Would be quite nice to improve the GD again today, but I predict a hard-fought victory, though perhaps by two goals. 3-1.

    And even if she played a good gig in Paris on Monday, I hope the man who gave this song a title will be disappointed tonight.

  5. 5
    Bathgooner says:

    Good preview Dr F though a tad geographically and historically wayward. The Brigantes were indeed a Celtic tribe in the north of England, at their zenith spanning both sides of the Pennines but well south of Hadrian’s wall. They were never ‘Romanised’ and remained a thorn in the side of northern Roman legions for most of Britannia’s existence. While they undoubtedly had contempt for southern softies, they themselves were Sassenachs firmly based south of the wall.

    Poetic licence with history seems infectious, Matt @1. Calgacus was indeed a northern chieftain but from much further north in Caledonia whose defeat at Mons Graupius (possibly modern Bennachie in the Grampians (misspelt over time by ill-educated Scots who followed)) provoked Tacitus’ memorable but entirely self-generated quote in his hagiography of his father-in-law, Agricola.

    It is interesting that our recall about the difficulty of trips to Burnley is so inaccurate. I suspect we conflate them with earlier trips to the Walrus’ Bolton which did put a hole in our title ambitions on a couple of occasions as well as mutilating several of our more talented players. Dyche’s Burnley did adopt the mantle of Allerdyce’s Bolton. On the other hand the Burnley team of 1960 was hailed as a very fine football team playing very entertaining football.

  6. 6
    Noosa Gooner says:

    Thanks Doc,
    I once knew a girl from Burnley – very nice girl, lovely and amusing.
    So, nothing like the football club.
    Another spanking is required so 3-0 will do nicely.

  7. 7
    Bathgooner says:

    Noosa @6, although its use is entirely apt, it’s interesting that the verb ‘spanking’ should come to mind there!

  8. 8
    BtM says:

    I went along to one of the 0-1 away games at Turf Moor. Her Nellieness and I were in residence at the time in a very fine establishment in nearby Howarth, wherein I would commend the Bronte House to all Holics of a literary persuasion. Haworth itself is a very picturesque and charming town through which runs a steam train in the summer months – so great for photos too. Burnley, much less so. Plan to leave at least 90 minutes to exit the town after the game finishes if the charms of Turf Moor tempts you.

    I think we’ll see ESR, Jesus and Partey at some stage today, Dr F but I think you’re probably correct on your starting eleven. I’m hoping for a 0-3 on this occasion.

    @7, Bath, Nurse!

  9. 9
    Las says:

    Cheers, Doc. A perfect appetiser I can’t wait for the kick-off. The next potential banana skin from the last fourteen. It would be just great scoring a brace early than a couple of later on. But I think it wil be tough. I’ll be nervous as hell that’s for sure. Thankfully it does not matter 🙂
    For me just win but I know Arteta knows better.
    Turf Moor sounds like a mediewal hiding place of the evil and during Dyche rein it really was like one. But now we have Ødegard the viking hero and of course Jesus is in our side.

  10. 10
    Countryman100 says:

    Any recommendations for where I can stream the game? I’ve got an vpn so can pick my country.

  11. 11
    Las says:

    I just checked Arsenal Women and we are leading 3:0 against ManUtd Women.
    Wow. A way to go.

  12. 12
    Las says:


  13. 13
    Countryman100 says:

    Cheers Las

  14. 14
    scruzgooner says:

    same again as the wet spam game.

  15. 15
    Sancho Panza says:

    James Lannin Sweet on the bench. Not heard of him before.

  16. 16
    Las says:

    Here are the direct links to the sites.
    If you have a fast connection then Footybite has better quality streams, if not on liveru you can find a lower bitrate stream still enjoyable.

  17. 17
    North Bank Ned says:

    A most enjoyable preview, Dr F. Your first paragraph was illuminating to someone whose first impression of Burnley was shaped as the 1950s turned into the 1960s by Harry Potts’s rather good team containing the likes of Jimmy Adamson, Jimmy McIlroy, Ray Pointer and John Connelly. Dyche’s team was anti-football, hard-nosed, disciplined defensive 4-4-2. Difficult to beat, but as your catalogue of results shows, beatable by those who put their mind — and bodies — to it.

    Your pre-match trivia: The Brigantes share a common etymological root (briganti, the Celtic word for high) with London’s River Brent, which disgorges into the Thames at Brentford, once known as Breġuntford.

    No Burnley away fixture would be complete without a reading from John Cooper Clarke:

    I’ll tell you now and I’ll tell you firmly
    I don’t never want to go to Burnley
    What they do there don’t concern me
    Why would anybody make the journey?


  18. 18
    North Bank Ned says:

    SP@15: James Sweet, as per the club’s bio : Tireless full back James is happy either at right back or further forward in midfield, where he used to operate. A Wales Under-19 international (having previously represented England) James played 16 times for our under-21s last season, scoring twice. A graduate of our Hale End Academy, he regularly contributes assists when supporting attacks on the right flank.

  19. 19
    Trev says:

    Thanks Dr F – interesting if slightly licensed version of history. I nominate Bath to argue on my behalf !
    Also some license taken with our recent goal difference – it’s even better than your quoted 14-2. If you tot up the quoted (correct) scores our GD over the last 4 games is 16-2 in our favour.
    I’m hoping our class, experience and newly restored confidence will produce a good win this afternoon. 4-0 to complete our recent scoring sequence …?

  20. 20
    Sancho Panza says:

    Ned thank you for bringing the world to John Cooper Clarke.

    You will never see a nipple in the Daily Express!

  21. 21
    Trev says:

    Ned, excellent from John Cooper-Clarke ! 🤣

  22. 22
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Thanks everyone for the kind words.

    Sorry about the historical inaccuracy— should have researched a bit and not just rely on admittedly limited knowledge about Roman Britain.

    Let’s pulverise them.

    Come on Arsenal!

  23. 23
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks Dr F, an enjoyable preview.
    Somewhat the worse for wear at midnight in Osaka but ready to open a decent bottle of red to see me and the game through. Nice to see at least ESR back on the bench – 3-0 will do nicely.

  24. 24
    OsakaMatt says:

    1-0 Burnley gave Ode an age on the edge of the area and he drilled it home unerringly.

    Two Arsenal players hacked down on a fast break, one booked for Burnley. I suppose I may be wrong but this can only end badly for Burnley.

  25. 25
    OsakaMatt says:

    Still 1-0 after 20 minutes, The Arsenal totally dominant but of course another goal is always welcome,

  26. 26
    OsakaMatt says:

    Finally, 2-0 after a totally one sided further 20 minutes. Clear pen and nicely taken by Saka. Everyone playing well.

  27. 27
    OsakaMatt says:

    Benjamin at corners is very amusing

  28. 28
    Trev says:

    Well done Ref – the Liverpool supporting Australian – booked Saka for showing his frustration at being penalised for a perfectly fair shoulder charge 👏🏻👏🏻 Where do they find these idiots ?

  29. 29
    Trev says:

    HT 2-0
    Bang on course for my 4-0 win 😏

  30. 30
    Bathgooner says:

    Trev @28, it’s interesting that the ‘modern’ referee has developed an astonishing degree of tolerance of manhandling at corners and ‘physical’ challenges in the box but takes a zero tolerance approach to a multiply fouled forward who expresses his frustration by kicking the ball into touch.

  31. 31
    Trev says:

    Bath, it sounds like a comment from a one-eyed, ignorant fan but it’s obvious that these referees just don’t understand the game.

    Ooh, 3-0 !

  32. 32
    Countryman100 says:

    What a goal by Saka!

  33. 33
    Trev says:

    19-2 in our last 5 games as it stands

    Not bad for a team that is “desperate “ for a proper striker ! 🤣

  34. 34
    Countryman100 says:

    Those 2300 Gooners are in very fine voice!

  35. 35
    OsakaMatt says:

    Cracking goal too for 3-0, we are playing very, very well.
    On the other hand I find myself saying, for the first time in 50 years, that I hope Burnley stay up. And don’t panic and fire Kompany, they try to play football.

  36. 36
    Sancho Panza says:

    Yeah imagine if we did have a proper striker. He’d be on the bench or loaned out to East Stirling.

  37. 37
    Trev says:

    Poor header from Eddie – should have been 5 !

  38. 38
    Trev says:

    Haveeeertz ! Bargain at £60 mill ! 5-0!

  39. 39
    Countryman100 says:

    Who put the ball in the Burnley net?
    Who put the ball in the Burnley net?
    Who put the ball in the Burnley net?
    Half our fucking team did!

  40. 40
    Pangloss says:

    Move on please, everyone. Nothing to see here.
    Remember it only means something if you can do it on a wet Tuesday in Burnley.


  41. 41
    OsakaMatt says:

    Great stuff and the other things to say is it was a pleasure to watch.
    How the game should be played 101

  42. 42
    Bathgooner says:

    Luvverly Jubberly!

    Job done.

    Move on.

    Porto next.

  43. 43
    Countryman100 says:

    And in news from the toilet bowl, Spurs lost at home to Wolves. Now eight points behind us.

  44. 44
    bt8 says:

    It looked like Burnley were trying to determine the location of Hadrian’s wall for most of the game. 🤣

    Belated thanks for the preview, and I agree with drinks #27, 28 and 30. We’ve scored at least 11 goals consecutively on the road since the home team scored a goal

  45. 45
    Bathgooner says:

    Heh @ bt8 @44

  46. 46
    Countryman100 says:

    However it is abundantly clear that we need a striker and can only score from corners.

    Boring, boring Arsenal.

  47. 47
    Ollie says:

    Decent win, that!

  48. 48
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@39: 🙂

    Scoring a minimum of five and keeping a clean sheet looks to be a sound way to avoid banana skins.

    Grand performances all round.

  49. 49
    Ollie says:

    *sees space and slots ball between defenders*

  50. 50
    scruzgooner says:


  51. 51
    ClockEndRider says:

    Superb performance and I look forward to writing the review. I’m letting my thoughts percolate a bit first so it will probably be out either late tonight of first thing tom morn UK time.

  52. 52
    Sancho Panza says:

    Never got 50 before

  53. 53
    Sancho Panza says:


  54. 54
    scruzgooner says:

    i guess they didn’t play with a low block? or have we figured out how to break it, now?

    nonchalantly polishes ollie’s passing boot…

  55. 55
    scruzgooner says:

    tabsed it, sancho!

  56. 56
    North Bank Ned says:

    Well in for the half-ton, Scruz.

  57. 57
    Ollie says:

    Neat finish, scruz!

  58. 58
    scruzgooner says:

    thanks ned. top pass, ollie!

  59. 59
    bt8 says:

    Two points gained on City and three on Spurs. Good weekend.

  60. 60
    TTG says:

    We have the best GD in the league !
    If Carlsberg did Saturdays – a 5-0 away win, the ladies thrash Manchester United, the Spuds lose and Citeh drop points – this would be such a day

  61. 61
    Trev says:

    TTG – it would indeed. Just imagine if that actually happened …..

  62. 62
    Sancho Panza says:

    Should also be noted for two weeks running Tross, Saka and Rice get a bit of a rest with 10 or 20 mins to go.

  63. 63
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@60: Only the cricket to spoil the day.

  64. 64
    Ollie says:

    bt8 at 59. I didn’t see it that way re:Spurs. Only ‘Spurs lost’. Which is always enough in itself. I know they’re much closer than it feels in number of points, but at the moment I don’t see them in the same competition so do not count points gained on them.

    TTG at 60 and Ned at 63, you seem to have conveniently forgotten the Brentford v Scouse match. I hope that’s not the top the best Carlsberg can do…

    Still, it’s been pretty good!

  65. 65
    North Bank Ned says:

    Here’s a video about the Brigantes and other Celtic tribes of northern Britain, in as much as anything is known about them.


  66. 66
    TTG says:

    In their last five games, Arsenal have given up shots worth 1.7 expected goals.
    The average xG allowed per game in the Premier League this season is 1.6.
    No team has had shots worth more than 0.5 xG in a league game against Arsenal in 2024.

  67. 67
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@66: Our average xGA for the season to date is 0.74 vs last season’s average of 1.11. We have also cut opponents’ shots to an average of 8.24 a game from 8.87 and shots on target to 2.28 from 3.50. Declan Rice effect.

  68. 68
    OsakaMatt says:

    We’ve defended well recently, all the more impressive considering we’re doing it with our worst goalkeeper since my blind great great grandfather Matty No Hands was stood between the sticks.

    Is it possible for the monks to unearth the defensive figures with and without Zin?
    Just curious as my eyes tell me we are more secure with Kiwior / Tomi but I wonder what the numbers say

  69. 69
    Ollie says:

    I think you can forget about the cricket now. Jaiswal, wow.

  70. 70
    Countryman100 says:

    In the absence of an away day report from one of our own, we’ll have to make do with Frank Stubbs. Which is a cracker.

    Some Days Are Just Perfect

  71. 71
    Bathgooner says: