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And so, to the wilds of Middlesex, risking life and limb in order to bring light where formerly there was only darkness. Chief missionary today being our very own C100. The home crowd sounded as belligerent and restless as any encountered by Cook or Livingstone, as the antelope horn sounded out the pre-match battle cry; slow, plangent, in keeping with the speed and psychological disposition of the natives.

The team was as hoped with Tomiyasu nominally at left back, but actually providing huge flexibility as Gabriel and even Saliba could be pulled out wide left at times by the movement of Son and Kulusevski, with Tomi stepping into the middle to maintain numbers. 

Spurs started well, I thought, with their usual fast pressing in numbers. We seemed content to allow Vicario to have the ball. On 5 minutes, our play out of defence was pressed by Spurs and Partey was caught dithering when he could have popped off a ball to White, killing the press easily. An unsettling moment but the attack fizzled out and ended in the ball being played backwards by Spurs followed by the first of many dives from a Spurs player, the pattern to be followed for much of the game. 

Having weathered the initial storm, we started to apply control, moving the ball around, allowing the opposition to chase after it in the manner of a youthful labrador chasing a tennis ball in the park.

On 13 minutes there was a rather odd piece of refereeing. Partey deep in midfield passed brilliantly through for Ødegaard making a run through the back line on the final third. Ødegaard controlled the ball and passed it back to Havertz to smash in but the referee, responding to the linesman, blew for offside. TV evidence clearly showed Ødegaard was not offside. Now, aren’t we always told that the linesman is supposed to wait until the end of the move before flagging? Curious. 

This seriously shook Spurs, and they were subsequently caught out badly while trying to play out of defence, resulting in a corner being given to the visitors. Ben White behaved in the caddish manner of Terry-Thomas in the wonderful Ealing Comedy “School for Scoundrels” by standing behind the keeper and, rather than physically impeding him, simply puled the fastening of Vicarious right glove, requiring him to take momentary attention away from the ball coming in from Saka. The ball was flighted to the near post and the football player impersonator that is Hjojberg managed to head into his own net. As that great writer and satirist from another age, Wilde, famously wrote; it would take a heart of stone not to laugh. Saka, channelling his inner Wilde, turned to the natives and cupped an ear while, indeed, doing so.

Spurs 0 – Arsenal 1

Five minutes later, Spurs worked their own corner routine, resulting in Romero heading wide. And now Spurs upped their game and their dive count with serial offenders Kulusevski and Maddison being mentioned in despatches. Romero hit the post from a Maddison free kick, the result of what Gary Neville would describe as “clever” play by Maddison to win a free kick. Fortunately, Partey did enough to put off the Argentine sufficiently.

They maintained the pressure and Van de Ven ‘scored’ from a shot following a corner but was clearly offside, despite the PGMOL VAR referee trying his best to find a way to give the goal. You could hear the disappointment in Sky commentator Neville’s voice, as he had tried to suggest that Gabriels posterior ought to have played Van de Ven on. I would like to say: Come on Sky, Neville: You’re better than that. Alas, I would be telling an untruth.

And the Spurs nonsense and commentator disingenuousness continued to pile up, as Spurs displayed the diving skills they had clearly spent much of their game-free last fortnight perfecting, with first Kulusevski, and then the loathsome Maddison taking tumbles in the box. The latter was an obvious dive, the former may have been accidental contact, or indeed self-tripping. Either way it would have been laughable to give them as penalties. Even Neville couldn’t find a way to justify giving them. From the resulting fast break, Havertz played a beautiful crossfield ball for Saka who managed to isolate the hapless Davies, before cutting inside and passing into the keeper’s bottom right corner. Cue ear cupping and smiling at the natives at the end. Oh, happy days.

Spurs 0 – Arsenal 2

Faux indignation fired Spurs into upping their intensity and really pressurising Arsenal. However, Arsenal responded by keeping numbers behind the ball, maintaining the structure of the team and more often than not forcing Spurs to take the ball backwards as soon as they got near or into our box. 

On 37 minutes, we went further into the lead with another well worked corner routine. Terry-Thomas behaved like an utter bounder again in bumping the keeper and £65m waste of money Kai Havertz scored again. I was one of those who was unable to see what Havertz could offer earlier in the season. Not only has he shown me to be the epitome the poor judge, but he has saved me vast amounts of money as I have managed to secure a lifetimes supply of provisions from the European Humble Pie Mountain at knockdown prices. 

Spurs 0 – Arsenal 3

We went into half time three up, not playing our best and quite possibly being second best, certainly from a possession perspective. However, the half was an object lesson in controlling the game. Raya had little to do and the organisation and team spirit kicked in. The structure of the team was maintained at all times. The plan to isolate Davies had worked and our set pieces were excellent. We had played the game and not the occasion.

Half-Time: Spurs 0 – Arsenal 3

Spurs subbed Bentancur with Sarr at half time, an act presumably as much out of pity as tactical awareness as the game had pretty much passed him by. 

The excellent defending continued, as did the efforts of Kulusevski to gain advantage by falling over. Gabriel gave him short shrift and the Walthamstow weasel acknowledged this by looking away, awkwardly.

Arsenal were more in control than ever in the first 20 minutes of the second half and it was difficult to see where Spurs would get a goal from, notwithstanding that they had brought on Richarlison for Maddison and that the hopeless Werner had been taken off early in the first half time already, which would up any team’s chances of scoring. And out of nowhere, Raya gifted them a goal, just as Ramsdale had gifted Brentford a few weeks ago. Under no real pressure, Raya tried to play a short, chipped pass over the oncoming Romero, playing as a second centre forward at this point, into Partey, who was being converged on in any case by three Spurs players. The ball didn’t get above chest level and Romero controlled, advanced and put it past the keeper well.  This was wholly on Raya and will give fuel to those who say that improving a team is always good but this transfer seems to have swapped one set of incomplete skills for another,. And given that Raya is supposed to have better ball skills than Ramsdale, it is actually unclear as to how this transfer can possibly be progress as opposed to change. Of course, as noted above, I have been wrong about transfers before….

Spurs 1 – Arsenal 3

From this point on it was hard work for Arsenal. The whole tone changed and the previously somnolent Spurs crowd flamed back into life. 

At the same time, for much of the second half, we kept Spurs’ attacks very much at arm’s length. Spurs’ frustration showed itself with inevitable strops from Richarlison. On 84 minutes, our second momentary lack of focus occurred, as Rice, not seeing Davies, kicked through him as the Spurs defender knocked the ball forward in the box, resulting in a penalty, despatched well by Son.

Spurs 2 – Arsenal 3

Now Spurs tails were up and the crowd again burst into life. Richarlison shoulder charged Gabriel from the kick off, but apparently that’s okay. Spurs piled on the pressure but we held out, with increasing desperation but no sign of cracking.  The whistle blew. The players celebrated wildly.


Overall, a curious game where we actually had to work harder and were under more pressure in a first half in which we scored 3 than a second half in which we managed to concede 2. The team and Arteta will, I hope, have learned lessons to hold us in good stead next season.  Control needs to be maintained for the full 90 minutes. Perhaps this will be facilitated by improving on the bench, many of whom Arteta clearly doesn’t trust, judging by his reticence in bringing them on at all, despite a fresher Spurs side utilising all 5 subs, with only one of those being made in the last quarter of the game.

At the same time, last season we might have capitulated altogether. The last quarter saw backs-to-the-wall defending which managed to hold out pretty well. The fact that we have played 8 games to Spurs 4 in the month of April, with 5 games in the last 2 weeks to Spurs 2 also played into the momentary lapses of reason and focus responsible for both of Spurs goals. We have progressed again in a season where we have played a large number of games, including an impressive return to the European top table, with a relatively small squad, at least small in terms of those the manager feels comfortable with giving game time when it matters. Time to focus on and off the pitch on the wider goals which have been set. Control over emotions and opposition have been the key reason behind our progress. Control will be what propels us to success. 

Happy St Totteringham’s Day!

82 Drinks to “Control”

  1. 1
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks CER, pretty much how I saw it too, an odd game but three points was the goal and we got them.

  2. 2
    TTG says:

    A masterly report with tongue firmly in cheek when describing our beloved neighbours . Sky never repeated the Odegaard/ Havertz incident but I saw more replays of Kulusevski tripping over his laces than I have seen Del Boy failing to locate the bar in Only Fools and Horses .
    The two signings are interesting. I was hugely sceptical about Havertz. I had a lot of negativity about him from Chelsea friends and judged him on the player he was rather than what Arteta coukd make him. I was happy to buy him but not for £65m . Raya just doesn’t seem the same sort of upgrade . He doesn’t make many outsranding saves and his work with his feet verges on brinkmanship . He didn’t become a quivering jelly yesterday but he hardly had to make many breathtaking saves either . I sense we could do better. He is level with Foderingham for the most keeper induced goal concessions this season . Guess which faces the most shots?
    But the main theme should be pride at a gritty performance in the cauldron of hate . We are a very serious team and I’m very proud of them

  3. 3
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Cheers CER. I’m with TTG in thinking that ‘masterly’ is the best one word summation of a very fine report indeed. A pleasure to read.

    I’m chuffed with the win, and that is ultimately all that matters this morning.

    However, the last 30 mins were horrible to watch and I can’t say I enjoyed them at all. I do think Raya has been an upgrade on Ramsdale. I think he’s been worth a handful of points that otherwise would see us vying with Poo, rather than City. Especially as the errors he’s made are about the same as those I’d expect Ramsdale to make anyway. Raya has a calm temperament, suits this team well and, to be fair, was really good after his mistake yesterday. He took a lot of balls in the air and didn’t look nervy with it at his feet.

    Bluntly however, he’s a good keeper and no more than that. Our search for the sort of top keeper that most title winning sides have goes on. I can’t see us winning Big Ears with him. And if we win the Prem with him then our defence will have truly earned their flowers.

    That said, I have no idea who would be an upgrade. A top keeper with European and preferably PL experience who is available?
    I think Ederson and Allison are the best 2 keepers in the league, by a reasonable margin, and even they aren’t as good as they were 3 years ago.
    Something to think about in the summer, but I reckon we might stick with Raya and invest our money in squad improvements somewhere else where there are deals to be had. It ain’t worth doing a Manure-style £50m punt on an Onana type player. Unless we can seriously upgrade Raya, I’d keep our powder dry.

    We do need some new blood in the keeper department (Jeorge Bird on Arseblog News wrote an article about it recently) so perhaps we can find some talent to work with next season with a view to ousting Raya?
    Ramsdale will presumably be sold, so we need someone we deem good enough as a number 2 if Raya is injured. Hein?

    There is work to do in the summer, but for now I’m glad Raya’s mistake only cost us goal difference and a few palpitations, but no points. And that he recovered well and won’t have had his confidence dented too much for the final three games.

  4. 4
    Countryman100 says:

    Great report CER. I want to come back when I have more time and talk about our day out at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium – quite the occasion! But I just wanted to talk about David Raya. Yes, a horrendous error which almost changed the game. But the way in which he responded, safely catching cross after swirling cross under huge pressure, spoke volumes and was highly praiseworthy. I am much more in agreement with the wise words of GSD above than I am with those of my good friend TTG.

    All keepers make errors. Even Bob Wilson almost threw away the 71 cup final by leaving his near post unguarded, a fact Frank McLintock wasn’t slow to tell him about. There are areas to strengthen in this squad before we take a punt on a Raya replacement.

    Right. The greenhouse is calling (seedlings to be pricked out) and I want to watch the match back. I’ll be back later

  5. 5
    North Bank Ned says:

    On the money, CER, and with some panache. We saw the same game.

    Like C100, I agree with GSD on Raya, who incidentally has the best stats of any keeper in the Big 5 European leagues for catching crosses over the past year. In that respect, he is a significant upgrade on Ramsdale. If I remember correctly from last season TTG was not the only one worried about Ramsdale’s flapping at crosses. I suspect that what looks like ‘brinkmanship’ when Raya plays out with his feet is, in fact, instructions from Arteta to lure opponents towards him to break their pressing structure.

    For Arteta, both those attributes clearly offset Raya’s below-average shot-stopping, especially as Arteta has built the defence around minimising the opposition getting shots off. Raya’s calmness might also be a useful foil to Gabriel’s exuberance to keep the defence on an even keel when under pressure. Net for net, notwithstanding Sunday’s high-profile mistake, Raya is a good keeper, arguably a very good one, but not elite.

    He is not the first keeper to make a horrendous mistake and will be far from the last. If you remember, in the Bayern game, there was a moment when Neuer was being pressed by Havertz, and he flicked the ball up keepy-upy style with his left foot and lobbed it out wide right over Havertz’s head. It was an outrageous bit of skill from Neuer but had it gone wrong and the ball bounced off Havertz into the net, we’d be in the CL semi-final. Fine margins and pivotal moments.

  6. 6
    BtM says:

    Lethal first half execution left me feeling pleasantly surprised by a three goal margin at the interval. I haven’t seen a replay of the Havertz “offside” goal but the commentary team on Arsenal.com were agreed that it was “very close but just off” after, at first, claiming that our captain was onside when he made the pass.

    In the second half I thought we were most certainly going to be treated to a 5-0 or 6-0 finish. Until the Raya error, Spurs were running on empty in terms of ideas, brains and hearts. 4-0 would have had their ‘fantastic support’ baying for blood as they began the collapse.

    Despite gifting two goals, I thought our focus on containing the game and forcing a successful conclusion was excellent. Havertz is growing well beyond the player I expected he’d ever be and had an excellent game. Odegaard and Rice both shone but made some uncharacteristic mistakes; no doubt partly explainable by their intense work rate during a period packed with games and tiring legs.

    And my “hats off” award is shared by Declan and Bukayo who, despite having moronic monkeys in Tottnumb gear bawling insults in their ears from only feet away in the toilet bowl, delivered mesmeric crosses from corners for two brilliantly taken goals before signaling (both in their own special way) polite ‘fuck you’ gestures to the hairy primates.

    Win against Bournemouth.

  7. 7
    Pangloss says:

    Something occurred to me for the first time a few minutes ago, that I feel I ought to mention in case everything goes horribly, and acrimoniously wrong.

    This season has been enormous fun. I remember now, at a visceral level, how I used to feel 20-odd years ago. I approach each game with anticipation and impatience. Last season was good, but this one, whatever the final outcome, has been better. The Arsenal that I had become used to in those long ago days is back, and I’m bloody loving it.

    As I recall, the next stage is counting the weeks until the new season starts. Lowered blood pressure and heart health is overrated.

    Bring It On. COYG

  8. 8
    Sancho Panza says:

    In comparison to last season we are 1 point behind after 35 games, but a better goal difference. Shows great consistency.

  9. 9
    North Bank Ned says:

    Premier League will look at introducing a spending cap. Sixteen clubs in favour, both the red and blue Mancs, surprise, surprise, and Villa opposed and Chelsea on the fence.


    My two cents is that the idea of basing a cap simply on a multiple of the lowest TV revenue received by a PL club won’t fly in the end.

  10. 10
    TTG says:

    It’s excellent to see the effect this team is having on us all. I’m glad you are enjoying it so much . I would suspect you are not alone . A combination of great coaching, judicious stewardship by enlightened owners ( a big surprise from what we expected ) and a major connection with the fan base has contributed to this .
    Football is supposed to lift the soul and I’ve been lifted by this team . Glad you have too

  11. 11
    Ollie says:

    Cheers, CER. That was a remarkably composed match report, for what felt like an absolute rollercoaster. Mamma Mia!
    I had made the decision to switch my mobiles off, ignore twitter, anything arseblog related or other Arsenal avenues (and drinks, and, er, drinks) pre and during match, in part due to stress/tension (mental and physical) after a delayed return from Athens with (mini- but impossible to ignore-)flu, loss of keys (and subsequently of a not-insignifiant amount of money to a locksmith), and it was fairly hard to keep this path during elated/nervous/stressful passages, and even more when a power cut hit my building at aroung minute 82, only for me to get things back when the ball nestled again in the back of our nets.
    Any neighbours being around would have certainly heard me at various times but I heard no complaint!

    So yeah, brilliant result in the end. Football truly was a saving grace this week.
    Trying to ignore the 115ers because now I feel that if we win our remaining matches and don’t win the league, I would be close to feeling football has become a lost cause.

    But for now, I embrace the forthcoming challenge of the next three matches.

  12. 12
    Ollie says:

    On the Kusulevski self-trip, I was glad Canal+ just introduced the ‘only stadium’ sound option. After one (only one out of the two thankfully) commentator seemed to insist that this should have been a pen, despite my eyes on the replays saying otherwise, I decided I should do without the commentary.
    It briefly came back (default setting) after the power cut, and given the timing, I didn’t have to wait long to be reminded to switch modes again.

  13. 13
    North Bank Ned says:

    Ollie@12: I always try to find a broadcast in a language I don’t know. It improves the commentary immeasurably.

  14. 14
    TTG says:

    Adam Cleary on the North London Derby- excellent stuff!

  15. 15
    OsakaMatt says:

    Wot Pangloss and TTG said @7 and @10
    It’s been a great season, competitive at the
    highest club level and playing great football,
    who wouldn’t want that or miss it when it’s

  16. 16
    bt8 says:

    Excellent report CER, much obliged for the entertaining read.

    Also I agree wholeheartedly with Pangloss @7, TTG @10 and OM @15. Last season rocked too, until it didn’t at the end but this one is showing signs of having greater staying power. COYG

  17. 17
    bt8 says:

    Re: the BBC headline, “Man Utd open to offers for nearly all of squad”

    I bet they are. But why would other clubs be interested in their players, who have been trained to be the losers they are?

  18. 18
    OsakaMatt says:

    I haven’t really seen enough of him, but I guess we’d take Mainoo.
    Martinez has proven somewhat injury-prone in the PL but is it
    too late to develop Wan-Bissaka? Apart from that I am struggling to
    think of anyone

  19. 19
    OsakaMatt says:

    Actually, trying to think of Manure players I’d want reminds me of TTG’s
    point about Son being the only spud for our first team. Both have a lot of
    players I wouldn’t want for various reasons

  20. 20
    bt8 says:

    Son will be 32 years old this summer. I doubt Arsenal would be interested for that very reason, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Man Utd take a punt on him.

  21. 21
    ecg says:

    Maybe Garnacho as a back up to Saka?

  22. 22
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@14: One thing I took away from Adam Clery’s analysis was that the success of defending narrowly and conceding the wings to opponents relies on the height and bulk we have recruited to deal with the crosses that are the inevitable consequence of that tactic. Having a goalkeeper who is an outstanding cross-catcher seems an integral piece of such a strategy, not just a fortuitous benefit. That might be a far more compelling reason that Raya displaced Ramsdale than that the Spaniard is better with his feet (which he is but not by all that much).

  23. 23
    OsakaMatt says:

    @21 I forgot about him! Only 19 and some potential so yes to him too.

    Yeah, Son is too old now and I’d prefer Gabi M too, though he hasn’t had a great season unfortunately. Plenty of time of course.

  24. 24
    Ollie says:

    Can’t stand Garnacho, so I’d find it extremely difficult to have him.

  25. 25
    Ollie says:

    Son? What have some of you lot been smoking? Have you seen his last two seasons?

  26. 26
    OsakaMatt says:

    Yeah, he was crap last season but 16 goals, 9 assists this season is good end product.

    Though personally I dislike Son more than Garnacho……..

  27. 27
    bathgooner says:

    Late to the Part(e)y again.

    A most enjoyable report to a most enjoyable game. Heroes all. We HAD to avoid humiliating them as they are the best prospect of C115y dropping points. A well choreographed and managed finale gentlemen, leaving the Sp*dz with anger at the world’s injustice and hope of a CL place but ensuring that, for all the excitement offered, we leave with the three points in the bag.

    WDYG. That victory was no mean feat against a team with their feet up while we laboured against Bayern and stumbled against Villa, triggering our media foes to proclaim that the wheels were coming off, then produced those great wins at Wolves and over the Bus Stop Boys. Very impressive indeed.

    Now, for Bournemouth, a team on the up. No cakewalk. But at least we have 6 days to freshen our legs.

  28. 28
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Son and Garnacho can both stay where they are. Or move somewhere else. Or quit football to jointly open a sanctuary for injured donkeys. Just as long as they stay away from my club.

    I’d take Mainoo in a flash. Not just because he’s good and has done nothing to make me think he’s a divey cheat with cheekbones wider than the spaces between Manure’s central defenders but also because I could see him fitting in well to our midfield. He has some excellent attributes. It won’t happen in a million years though, and Arteta/Edu will already have their eyes on more experienced players elsewhere.

  29. 29
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    We’ve obviously got to focus on the next 3 matches, and thoughts about summer signings can wait. But it will be a really interesting summer to see how the club’s ideas match up with the fans’ about what the squad needs and now that the calibre of player we need to genuinely enhance the squad has gone up I’m looking forward to seeing what deals we try to do and who we are rid of.

    Of course, whether we try to make those deals as Champions or as a club looking to make the final additions to become champions is the only question in town right now.

    After a hectic period, it’s kinda weird that we are back to a game once a weekend for the final 3. It’s too much time to stew between games!

  30. 30
    Ollie says:

    Bath, is your nom-de-plume ‘Dave Tickner’ ?

    It’s an interesting and definitely valid point of view.
    Fully agree with all of GSD’s posts too.

  31. 31
    Trev says:

    Thanks, CER – excellent report and conclusions.
    A busy week for me and others have already covered about everything I could have said.
    On Raya, I can see the point about his positive response to ‘that’ error – he did take a number of crosses really well. He just makes me nervous and I still don’t think he has the presence or physical attributes of a truly top keeper.
    However, I’ve been wrong before, not least about Kai Havertz who is proving his worth every week.
    Whatever happens from here, it is almost miraculous that we are where we are after 35 games – especially in comparison to C115y.
    It’s great to look forward to games again with excitement and a sense of fun instead of the trepidation of two or three seasons ago.

  32. 32
    bathgooner says:

    Heh, Ollie @30. No. It’s a good analysis though. As is Adam Cleary’s in TTG’s link @ 14.

    Non-pundits taking the analysis of the game’s tactics to a higher level – who’da thunk it?

    Returned to my Italian class yesterday and learnt a new phrase:

    “Tottnumb vengono picchiati ovunque vadano!”

  33. 33
    Countryman100 says:

    The last time I went to a Spurs Arsenal game was in 1972. I was 15. I was in a group of four friends, two Arsenal and two Spurs, who would go in the boys enclosure at WHL and Highbury. Different times. In 1972 we won 2-0 and it was rather lively walking back up the High Road. I haven’t been back since. In the last 15 years, when I’ve been going away with my son, we haven’t gone to Spurs for two reasons: firstly we didn’t have enough credits; and secondly that there was a tinge of violence to this fixture, seen online, that frankly I didn’t fancy. Glass bottles being thrown at wheelchair supporters and the like. Well this season we’ve had a good run of away games and I had enough credits. Secondly my son was really, really keen to go and experience the NLD.

    I found a really good parking place literally across the road from the stadium. The only problem with it was that the roads leading to it closed two hours before the game and for one hour afterwards. So we arrived just after 11am (I overcompensated of course) and, taking care to not wear colours, went round the corner to a greasy spoon where we had a late breakfast. Surrounded by glum looking people wearing a chicken on their chest as they had their bacon and eggs. Nobody said a word to us.

    Breakfast over, we walked around to the away entrance where Gooners were gathering. Again no hint of trouble. At 12 noon the doors opened and we went through. Some ticket checks and an airport style scanner. All fairly low key. Into the away concourse. Very clean, very modern (slightly sterile). The food offerings looked far superior to the Emirates. Fish and chips, chicken burgers, pies, Korean chicken and the like. Beer was Neck Oil (yuck) and Heineken. Lots of hard surfaces which, as more fans came in, proved brilliant for singing.

    We went into the stadium. At that early hour, the Spurs fans were 90% Asian, all wearing a Son shirt and a half and half scarf, and taking two million selfies, which were uploaded to the big screens by the club.

    So, this stadium. Best in the world by repute. Well I’ve got to say my son and I were slightly underwhelmed. Good things: the food and the WiFi/4G (which were excellent all the way through the game). Bad things: it felt very plastic. No banners around the pitch like we have celebrating far flung supporters clubs. No celebration of past victories/titles (for obvious reasons). A gazillion LED screens. Good safe standing seats with bars to lean on. We found ourselves hard up against the Spurs fans on the front line. They spent most of their time sitting down which amazed me.

    So you know what happened in the game. A very loud start but silenced by the early Hojburg own goal. Their equaliser, ruled out by VAR, a sliding doors moment. Havertz and Saka combining for a peach of a goal. Havertz nodding in a corner. At half time, we were in dreamland and taking the piss.

    Of course the game changed with Raya’s cock up and the last 20 were tense. But we made it through to unconfined joy at the whistle. “It’s happened again” and “Tottenham get battered” rent the air together with “we are top of the league”. Deep, deep joy. The team came over and punched the air in front of us.

    Given the road closures, we planned to stay in the concourse and have a beer. We’d been told the bars stayed open for 30 minutes but this proved to be duff information. So we wandered out into the sunshine and followed where the police wanted us to go, not towards the High Road. I went up to one of the Met’s finest and asked him how I could get back to the High Road where my car was parked. I was expecting a brusque response, but instead he said “ take the second left, then the next left and it’ll take you there sir”. I liked the “sir”.

    So back to the car, wait for the road to open at 5, home by 6.45.

    The away day was a doddle. No trouble, no hassle no aggression. I’ve had worse at the Etihad with lips Mancs.

    A great day out. Credits permitting we’ll be back next year.

  34. 34
    North Bank Ned says:

    That was a very elegant deflation of the reputation of the new WHL, C100.

  35. 35
    bathgooner says:

    Thanks for that interesting account of your venture to the Dark Side, C100. Glad it was trouble free and that you met a George Dixon clone.

  36. 36
    BtM says:

    Enjoyed those new WHL insights, C100. I won’t ever go there for the NLD.

    I was, however, thinking that I might toddle along for the Pearl Jam concert in June. That was until I noticed that all of the seats in the (very reasonable) £400 – £500 range had sold out and only £350 tickets remain, in the gods above the corner flag, so I’m passing on that opportunity. I was quite surprised by the eleven of price and demand. Pearl Jam were (are?) massive in the US but I’ve never even heard them on UK radio.

    I had the great good fortune to be assigned to the USA in 1992 for the first of three 5+ years stints there, with two teenage kids in tow. To help them settle, we let the kids drive music choices for car travel and so Pearl Jam’s ‘Ten’ and Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ albums became part of my life’s music soundtrack in quite a big way and I enjoy them both still.

    They’ve matured and their ‘grunge’ style has been jettisoned but their new albums still work well. Eddie Vedder is one of rock’s forefront vocalist. Here’s one from Ten.

  37. 37
    Ollie says:

    Nice one, C100! And surprisingly civilised!

  38. 38
    TTG says:

    Some interesting posts from C100 and Btm . In reverse order my daughter was a huge Metallica / Pearl Jam / Nirvana fan in her early teens . She tried to convert me. At one of her birthday parties we let her play our vinyl which was accumulated in the 60s and 70s . Her friends hooted at the Doors/ Who/ Cream / Blind Faith / Steely Dan etc . A few days later came a meek request to borrow several of them ! I’m not averse to a very loud rendition of Nirvana or Black Sabbath in the car but Mrs TTG worries about my hearing and urges me to act my age .
    I have enjoyed this season vicariously living through C100’s terrific descriptions of Awaydays around the Premier League . I was no stranger to the old WHL but have been to the new stadium once .
    The suggestion I read yesterday is that the Ems is thirty years out of date as is Anfield . The Toilet Bowl is a huge cash generator for the Spuds but the only features I was impressed by were the Dortmund style wall and the machines that pour beer upside down- but the beer needs to be much better than is served at most of our current grounds Otherwise I share C100’s view that it is plastic and a magnet for tourists – which is exactly what Levy wants to maximise revenue from the shop and concessions . Two of our London rivals ( Spuds/ Wet Spam) have traded old, atmospheric stadia for plastic , modern versions . I went to a ladies’ game at the Spuds so didn’t feel the testosterone- filled hate that a stadium filled with Spuds would generate but the Emirates will do for me if we keep playing like we are now . If we increase our capacity the crumbling travel infrastructure won’t cope . I reckon there have been tube issues at well over half of the games this season ( some due to strikes ).
    On another issue I went to a lunch with several people today , two of whom are Gooners and they both felt our player of the season should be White or Saliba . I picked Odegaard .

  39. 39
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks as always C100 for taking the time to share your day.
    As I took have no plan to ever go to the toilet bowl it was good to get
    the view from the gooner on the spot.
    As with TTG the Emirates is fine for me too. I can easily forgive the
    crap beer and bad food as I gave up football stadium food some
    decades ago 🙂

    Just watching Bayern vs Real, Bayern lead 2-1 just as it looked
    like Real were cleverly managing them out the game. Good finish
    from Sane though he’d nearly given away a second when he lost the
    ball a minute earlier. Two minutes later and a silly penalty given away
    and the whole thing looks a lot like our first leg against Bayern.
    Sometimes you never know until you’re actually watching but I
    learned I hate Bayern more than Real Madrid.

  40. 40
    bathgooner says:

    OM @39, re Bayern vs Real, I second that emotion. Though both are very high in the hierarchy of cuntitude.

  41. 41
    OsakaMatt says:

    Yes, it was close but the addition of dire and Kane has just shaded it Bayern’s way
    I think. I wish misery on both their houses obviously as any decent human being would.

  42. 42
    Trev says:

    C100, TTG, the Toilet Bowl needs to be a tourist magnet for them to have any chance of filling the place.
    Their fans were speaking in outraged terms, a year before they moved in, about the prices they would be charged for a season ticket at their new home.
    Many were talking about “doing one season” and then leaving,
    After all, it’s not so many years ago that they were offering free tickets in local schools to try to fill up White Hart Lane – and the capacity there was about 36,000 !

  43. 43
    Countryman100 says:

    A very funny Mike McDonald this week.

    Managing A Used Battery (Positives Needs & Hopes) [TOT 2-3 ARS]

  44. 44
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    For Athletic subscribers who havent seen it, this long interview with Rice about his role in our team is insightful and fascinating.


  45. 45
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Mike McDonald very good this week. Thanks Countryman.

    I didn’t know Raya had had such a bad facial injury a few years back. Those pictures are quite something – its genuinely changed his appearance and it must take a lot of strength to deal with something like that, and even more to come back to top level sport.

    I still think he’s good without being great, but I guess it’s also worth remembering that this is his first season playing in a top team, playing in Europe and for a league title, so perhaps he will learn a lot of lessons and be stronger next year?

    If Arteta thinks he is a player who will keep improving at anything like the rate of a Saka, Rice, Havertz or Gabriel, then it makes even more sense to me that he will stick with Raya. He was very mentally strong after the error on Sunday, and the incident MM talks about shows this has been the rule for him, not the exception. He may not be a hothead, but he is clearly a tough and determined bloke, and I’m not surprised Arteta like that.

  46. 46
    North Bank Ned says:

    When did the first team start wearing leg sleeves rather than long socks, and why did they make the change? Just to stop Saka from tearing holes in the back of his? I assume that they are compression sleeves to reduce fatigue and lower leg injuries and that the short, white socks worn underneath have some benefits, too: i know some pro basketball and (American) football players wear non-slip socks to prevent blisters and other rubbing injuries. All no doubt more of Arteta paying attention to small but difference-making details.

  47. 47
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@43: thanks for the Mike McDonald link. An insightful read as ever, especially about Raya.

  48. 48
    Noosa Gooner says:

    Thanks CER – excellent report.
    Black mark for Declan conceding the spotty that messed up my 3-1 prediction but otherwise a strong performance. The Ange Mania in Oz following the first eight games of the season has now well and truly subsided and hopefully stays at that level until they need another new manager.
    For anyone that needs a reminder of what football was like before the money money money took over, I recommend a glance at the following link :-

  49. 49
    Esso says:

    Passes to self.

  50. 50
    Esso says:

    Lashes it in!

  51. 51
    TTG says:

    Well in Esso – a self-assist

  52. 52
    OsakaMatt says:

    Well in Esso 😂

    Thanks for the links, C100, GSD, Noosa.

  53. 53
    TTG says:

    The quality of writing we are now getting through Mike and the Athletic added to the video blogs by Adam Clery underlines how cerebral football is now and how the Redknapps and Allardyces would struggle in this environment.
    And it is fairly clear that Rice is intelligent and mature enough to be a fine coach himself

  54. 54
    Countryman100 says:

    TTG @53. Absolute nonsense. The three prime rules of coaching, as practiced by those fine coaches you mention, remain inviolate.

    1. Put it in the mixer

    2. Let him know you’re there

    3 Run abaht a bit!

  55. 55
    North Bank Ned says:

    Lubbly-jubbly, C100.

  56. 56
    North Bank Ned says:

    And well in for the half-ton, Esso.

  57. 57
    OsakaMatt says:

    The Prestigious Holics Ropey League Cup is underway!!

    Apologies to my fellow managers as I am a bit late with this announcement considering the 1st round is already underway – with the exception of Bath, the Monks and myself who have a bye through to the quarter finals……

  58. 58
    North Bank Ned says:

    I am apparently far behind the curve when it comes to PL hosiery (see my @46). A survey in February found that 72% of PL players were wearing leg sleeves and grip socks rather than traditional one-piece full-length football socks. Cristiano Ronaldo was doing it 10 years ago, I read. And Saka cuts holes in the back of his leg sleeves, too.

  59. 59
    OsakaMatt says:

    Finally got around to reading the Rice piece that GSD linked to @44.
    Excellent, I was happily surprised at how open he was.

  60. 60
    OsakaMatt says:

    Talking of The Athletic, there is a new piece on Benny Blanco that had me laughing out loud as I remembered some of his shithousery this season.

  61. 61
    Trev says:

    Esso getting plaudits for a fine self-assist ?! That used to be a yellow card ! Game’s gone soft !

  62. 62
    Trev says:

    A piece about Gabriel Jesus in Arseblog this morning – his willingness to return to action after his knee surgery / surgeries. but despite that the fact that his numbers have significantly dropped off.

    Andrew is talking about the possibility that he might be sold in the summer if we look to remodel our attack. That certainly would represent a willingness on the club’s part to be more ruthless sellers, while players still have high value, but I really hope it doesn’t happen.

    If Jesus is not to be regarded as a nailed on starter at the moment, he is a high quality squad member with a terrific work ethic. Exactly what a successful team needs ( a point arseblog also makes to be fair)

    Personally I think it’s far too early to make a decision on him – unless the medical team know that his knee is a problem that is unlikely to ever go away. After any significant knee surgery, Joe Bloggs is unlikely to see the best of the results for 1 – 2 years. Of course, Premier League players have completely different facilities and rehab care to Joe Bloggs, but you can only accelerate the human process so far. Jesus has had only a very small number of months since his procedures and I hope he’ll be given a lot more time than that to try to get back to his excellent best.

  63. 63
    Sancho Panza says:

    If injury free, Jesus is bound to start against Muff as it’s the sort of oppo he gets picked for. He has only had 18 mins in the last two games so he should be fresh. Hopefully he gets a couple of goals. I say keep for next season unless we get a silly offer.

  64. 64
    OsakaMatt says:

    Unfortunately things haven’t gone well with Jesus since the last World Cup really, or at least to me he hasn’t looked the same player. On the other hand I would prefer to let Eddie go first I think. Then, if we get the player we want to replace Eddie, I would think about offers for Jesus.

  65. 65
    bathgooner says:

    OM @64, my feelings entirely.

    We need a ‘bonfire of the vanities’. Players who just can’t hit the standards now required despite clear efforts or just can’t stay fit – Nketiah, Nelson, Tavares, Lokonga, Smith-Rowe (sadly) have to be our priority departures this summer. Vieira might get another season unless we get a silly offer.

    I understand what Gunnerblog was saying in his Athletic article – Jesús’ recent performances are short of the mark and if someone came in with a silly offer, rather than us saying “absolutely not for sale” as we would with MØ8, DR41 or BS7, we’d listen. Notwithstanding Trev’s observations on the recovery time from knee surgery.

    That must be the case also with Zinny. As others have observed, this just shows how this team has developed/grown since they arrived and themselves gave us a huge lift.

  66. 66
    North Bank Ned says:

    Trev@61: VAR gone AWOL?

  67. 67
    North Bank Ned says:

    OM@64: I, too, agree. Jesus’s knee injury has clearly hampered him, and maybe he tried to come back far too quickly. He has been quoted as saying that he is always now playing in pain. I guess that if you are a professional footballer you don’t have the 1-2 years that Trev’s Joe Bloggs can afford to wait for full recovery.

  68. 68
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Bugger. I just deleted a post I’d written about Jesus.

    Highlights were that I agree with Trev, I think Jesus is good, has a great attitude and is invaluable in big games where we need a hardworking, disciplined, tactically savvy approach. I’d like to see him as a squad player, like he was at City, with more minutes on the wings.

    He’s quoted today saying he wants a full preseason, and I definitely want him to get that and then another year before we think about moving him on. He’d still have 2 years left on his contract next summer, that is the time to make a decision.

    I’d sell Eddie, buy a new striker, preferably someone to be first choice, have Havertz as second choice, and Gabi as third.

  69. 69
    TTG says:

    I agree with Trev about Jesus . He was a signing who elevated our levels ( in several respects) and is particularly suited to European football where he particularly shines . He is a great pressing attacker with a wonderful work ethic .He always energises the team when he comes on as sub ( compare with Eddie.) But he is regularly out for a few weeks with injury and he isn’t a ruthless finisher. I suspect if they are looking to move him on it is because of the likely deterioration in his injury record .
    One of my sources on Arsenal gossip is confident that we are prioritising Zirkzee the young Bologna striker and is confident that we will sign a young striker rather than a more established one like Toney. I think Isak will be very pricey and is also often injured but he has huge potential. If we got a silly bid for Jesus , I’d still sell Eddie ( not at the right level) and would pursue a young striker like Zirkzee or Sesko or Gimenez but I might also consider offering pa one year contract to the remarkable Giroud . It’s something Mike McDonald mentioned and he would be a powerful impact sub and is still producing great moments at AC Milan . He’s also a medal magnet !
    —World Cup winner, Nations League winner , Champions and Europa League winner , Two league titles , Four FA Cups and still , I believe playing for France .

  70. 70
    ecg says:

    TTG – For the past couple of years, I’ve thought Giroud would have been a good signing as long as he would be okay as an impact sub (I don’t think he would be). He just signed a contract with the MLS team LAFC, and will be joining up with them in July.

  71. 71
    OsakaMatt says:

    Though I’d be happy with Jesus as a squad player for all the good reasons outlined above by Trev and others, I think he will choose to leave himself if his role is occasional CF and back up winger.

    Useless spuds are shooting themselves in the foot again. I want them to have something to play for against Shitteh 115.

  72. 72
    bt8 says:

    Re: Ned @66. I am really not certain whether GHF ever looked into implementing a VAR droid for cases like Esso’s above, maybe scruz as our techie institutional memory will chime in. 😆

  73. 73
    bt8 says:

    Another GJ9 fan here and I like the sound of whoever it was who suggested a new signing as first choice striker, Havertz as second, and GJ9 third. Unless by “Gabi” they meant Martinelli who also has potential in that position.

  74. 74
    bt8 says:

    GJ9 still has a lot to offer as a squad player, as does Zinchenko I believe. But if Timber grabs the left back berth by the horns this August and keeps on running with it, it will be an interesting season to find out what Zinny can offer us as a squad player. For both of them it might be a return to how Pep used them at Citeh.

  75. 75
    North Bank Ned says:

    The GHF Predictathon leader board for Match Week 35 is posted and there is sensational news. You know where to find it…

  76. 76
    bt8 says:

    Sensational you say, Ned? It looks like absolute mid-table mediocrity for the likes of me, but I do congratulate c100 on his (long-delayed) move up the table.

  77. 77
    Countryman100 says:

    I have had a visit from the celebration police. Evidently I over celebrated my one position rise up the table.

  78. 78
    Bathgooner says:

    OM @71, I think you are correct about GJ9 and that, if he only gets a bit part next season, he will want to move for regular games. However you have entirely misjudged the Marshdwellers. They will be as highly motivated as they can be when they play C115y, by an overwhelming desire to stop the Arsenal winning the PL. Just wait.

  79. 79
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    I don’t think Jesus will want to move this summer, even if he knows he’ll be further down the pecking order next year. He is influential in the dressing room, will be the same on the pitch, and will back himself to play his way to plenty of minutes once he is fully over the knee injury that has been hampering him. He likes being at Arsenal and, much like the club, I think he will want to see how things go next year before he makes any decisions.

    Also, I can’t see any club buying him who are more likely than us to win trophies next year, and we know Jesus likes a winner’s medal. I think he will hang around for another one of them in our colours.

  80. 80
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    I’m more than happy for Spuds to have nothing to play for when they come up against City.

    If they had something on the line like a CL spot then they’d only Spurs it up and lose. They are crap when it matters.

    What we need is for them already to have reached the point where they can’t gain or lose a league position, and there is no pressure at all on them in terms of the points available affecting their position.

    When there is nothing to play for and everyone expects them to lose is the time they are most dangerous.

    Also, I don’t think the players share any of the fans’ sentiments about losing the match to shaft Arsenal. Professional players just don’t think like that. If they are shit, it’s just ‘cos they are shit

    I should also point out that, much like we have a lot of numpty fans, especially online, who do daft things like call for Arteta to be sacked after the Bayern game, so do the Spuds. There are plenty of proper Spuds fans, not twisted by hatred, who grudgingly recognise that whilst any positive result against City would have the unfortunate side effect of helping us, they still want their team to go out and give their best because that’s the only acceptable attitude. The Spuds fans whose more measured, stoical approach to the game makes them a counterpoint for the attitudes in this bar must be shaking their heads over a lot of the online Spuds nonsense going on right now.

  81. 81
    Bathgooner says:

    Good points, well made, GSD @80.

  82. 82
    Bathgooner says: