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“We love you Arsenal, we do!”

A club that has a tradition of doing things the right way, the honest way, the honourable way but was in disarray on and off the field appointed a brilliant young manager who then built a team that is easy to love and that plays wonderful football. That team has broken records this season, winning more Premier League games than any previous Arsenal team and letting in fewer goals than any other Premier League team this season. This Arsenal team has finished the 23/24 season with 89 points, one point less than the Invincibles of 03/04, though winning more games than the Invincibles, and have finished above every other English club without a stain on its financial record.

The media omertà has finally begun to fragment and the reputation of a club with 115 charges (!) of alleged financial misdemeanours is tarnished, despite cease and desist letters to all and sundry and the endeavours of expensive lawyers to impede due process in the Premier League’s efforts to hold them to account. Surely, a club innocent of any transgressions would not have led the PL panel through a maze of legal obstructions but rather, would have attempted to clear up the ‘misunderstanding’ as soon as possible and volunteered information rather than withheld it. The Premier League can legitimately be criticised for not completing their process before the beginning of the 23/24 season as the charges were publicly revealed (after many attempts to obstruct even this) in February 2023. However it is clear that many, many obstacles were deliberately put in their way and are still being put in their way. That is not remotely the behaviour of an innocent party. If the PL can finally complete the process they started several years ago and prove their case, this will be, at minimum, a huge reputational disaster for every person, cheerleader, accountant, lawyer and owner associated with that tarnished club.

Without doubt, that club has amassed a hitherto unparalleled collection of playing talent and depth of squad but that is not unrelated to their alleged misdemeanours dating from 2009. Their cheerleaders may claim that they have broken many records but as Brian Clough said to the Leeds United players during his brief tenure at Elland Road, “…as far as I’m concerned, the first thing you can do for me is chuck all your medals and all your caps and all your pots and all your pans into the biggest fucking dustbin you can find. Because you’ve never won any of them fairly. You’ve done it all by cheating.” I’m sure Ronnie Biggs and Lance Armstrong celebrated their erstwhile successes before they felt a hand on their shoulder. Enjoy the mirage while you can, chaps.

I would rather support a club with a proud history of honest competition than one with foundations built on sand and success built on alleged ‘creative accountancy’.

And so, to the final game of the season. This game against Everton was the culmination of an extraordinary run of games by this Arsenal squad since their winter break in Dubai. Ironically Everton’s position in the table would have better reflected their ability and threat had they not had 8 points deducted for exceeding the permitted overspend over three seasons by some £20 million. Swift justice in their case and, I understand, a discount for co-operation. On the field the Everton team proved to be the image of their coach: tough, obdurate, well organised and difficult to break down.

We were all over them like a rash from kick off with a high energy, high press attack but the goal just wouldn’t come. Highlights included a thumping header by Tomiyasu, after 6 minutes, from the far side of the six yard box that flew across goal but went wide of the post, a left footed shot by Rice after 12 minutes, from the centre of the box, that sadly lacked power and was an easy save for Pickford and a brilliant dribble by Martinelli into the Everton box from the right, where he had started in place of Saka, ending in a firm low shot that Pickford blocked and spilled, but the rebound was taken off Martinelli’s toes by an Everton defender.

On the other hand, Everton were not without threat. In the 22nd minute they won a free-kick in a dangerous position 25 yards out after a stupid foul by Partey which struck the Arsenal wall and rebounded to safety. Then, in the 32nd minute, the persistently mobile Calvert-Lewin hit Raya’s right post from close range then struck the rebound into the side netting. That reprieve was transient as Partey committed an unnecessary foul 25 yards in front of goal which earned him a yellow card. Sadly, this time Gueye’s free kick struck Declan Rice and looped into the top right corner of Raya’s goal rather than away to safety.

The crowd and the team responded magnificently, the former cranking up the noise and the team pinning Everton back. Three minutes after Everton had taken the lead, Ødegaard danced his way to the by-line and cut the ball back through the crowd for Tomiyasu to stroke it into the left side of Pickford’s goal from near the penalty spot. The crowd was even louder for the remaining 4 minutes of added time – I think it was the loudest I’ve heard a crowd at the Grove – but sadly the North Bank couldn’t suck the ball into the net. The half ended with a shot from the edge of the box from Partey that just missed the top right corner of the goal.

We had played well, defended strongly, probed, shot frequently and dominated the half with 14 shots, 4 on target and 4 corners, against Everton’s 4 shots, 1 on target and no corners but ended it slightly relieved to be back on level terms.

We looked very silky on the ball around the opposition box but I thought Partey looked rather a weak link during our attacks, slowing the ball’s forward movement and failing to see penetrative passes. My daughter must have felt likewise as, as the half drew to a close, she asked, “Has Partey checked out already?” To be fair, he improved slightly after the break.

Half Time: Arsenal 1-1 Everton

The second half saw wave after wave of Arsenal attacks with Ødegaard the master conductor and Martinelli a major threat from the right putting multiple balls across the goal or playing cutbacks that persistently proved elusive to the other attackers. Soon after the restart, a Havertz header from the centre of the box just missed the left side of the goal.

Just before the hour mark, Gabriel was clattered from behind by Doucouré as he took the ball forward in our half for which the Everton player received a yellow card. It was far from our seats but it looked to me like he was nowhere near the ball and lucky to get a yellow. Five minutes later Gabriel went down and was replaced by Zinchenko with Tomiyasu moving into the left centre back position.

Things livened up in the last half hour. On 63 minutes, Raya made a decent Hollywood save, leaping across his goal to catch a shot from Calvert-Lewin that was heading towards his top left corner from the opposite side of the box. Two minutes later, Tomiyasu had a header from an Ødegaard cross blocked then Havertz hit Pickford’s left post with a header from a Martinelli cross.

It began to look like one of those days when we just couldn’t buy a goal but Rice lifted the crowd with an imperious dispossession of the ball carrier when three Everton forwards broke free towards our goal. He later got a card for a tactical foul.

On 69 minutes, the crowd were lifted by the appearance of Jurrien Timber and Emile Smith Rowe for Ben White and Thomas Partey respectively and none of our subs looked out of place in this silky machine. We were continuing to probe Everton’s rugged well organised defence and shot after shot was blocked – Pickford being extremely lucky to sit on a close range shot from Ødegaard that almost squirmed under him. Meanwhile, Jurrien Timber linked well on the right flank and had the nous to end another Everton breakout with a crunching tackle in the centre circle for which he received his first card of the season.

On 78 minutes, Gabriel Jesùs replaced Leonardo Trossard who had had a relatively quiet second half and this added energy to our left sided attack. When Smith Rowe’s bouncing shot from the left of Everton’s box struck the bar it reinforced the thought that this wasn’t going to be our day. As did the late decision that the ball had gone out for touch in a move that saw Havertz dance with the ball through the Everton defence and fire it into the net, only for the goal to be disallowed. Kai Havertz was then booked for a foul and Pickford was finally booked for persistent time wasting.

However, this Arsenal team kept going, kept fighting for and regaining the ball, kept probing and kept shooting. And then it happened! Jesùs nipped in front of an Everton midfielder to claim the ball, just inside the Everton half, passed it to Ødegaard who, running into the box, as the keeper and a defender came out to close him down, either sclaffed it or executed the sweetest touch to, somehow, roll the ball gently across the six yard box to Havertz who smashed it into the net with aplomb. VAR surprised us by insisting that Michael Oliver review Jesùs’ dispossession of the Everton midfielder with an allegation of handball. Bless him, the referee saw the ball hit the arm above the sleeve line, stuck to his guns and awarded the goal.

Little of consequence followed as the game drew to a close.

Full Time: Arsenal 2-1 Everton

This was a fully deserved victory but there was a somewhat subdued atmosphere at the end and many of our players collapsed to the ground at the final whistle. That’s not really a surprise as they have expended much energy to finish top of the Honest League which sadly does not yet bring medals or a trophy. Our players, the manager and his coaching staff should be very proud of their achievements this season and we should be equally proud of them.

The Arsenal players then did the customary lap of appreciation and more fans stayed for this and cheered them more loudly than I have seen on previous such occasions. Speeches from Mikel Arteta and Martin Ødegaard preceded the lap of appreciation, were very upbeat and promised further improvement and a renewed challenge next season.

Bring it on!

We love you Arsenal!

87 Drinks to “We Won the (Honest) League”

  1. 1
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks Bath, a final great review of a great season.
    The right result against the usual dull as dyche ditchwater approach
    from Everton, it would have grated a little to not beat them.
    Nice to see ESR and Timber (I learned Timber can look rusty) and
    I enjoyed the speeches from Martin and Mikel, understandably a
    bit down but really they can be proud I think.

  2. 2
    OsakaMatt says:

    Forgot to add, I thought Doucore should have walked for that challenge too. But then we got lucky on the winner as The Arm of Jesus call is one of those ‘seen them given’ type decisions.

    If I can be inappropriately nitpicky at the end of a long season, I though the TP5 foul was necessary at the time and the Golden Benjamin was even more out of sorts for some reason (missing Mr Saka I guess)

  3. 3
    scruzgooner says:

    baff that’s a strong first four paragraphs, truly. thank you. i’m so glad we get to work under the banner of “remember who you are, what you are, and who you represent.” i love this club.

    fine review, i thought their football was ugly and unloveable. there will never be great success for them with this kind of shite.

    we have so much to look forward too, though. and so much to give thanks for. COYG!

  4. 4
    Honest John says:

    We weren’t at our best at all but were still much the better side. I thought the ball hit Jesus’ chest for the second goal. In any case, even if it did brush the top of the arm as well, it was hardly clear and obvious, and it’s good to see a referee overrule the VAR for once when sent to the monitor.

    Everyone is bored of Man City, ceasing and desisting from heaping praise on the club for their 115th trophy in the last few years. It’ll all go down in history with an asterisk. Or a line through it. The only question is when.

  5. 5
    BtM says:

    Bath overflowing with excellence. Superbly acerbic commentary on the 115ers financial shenanigans – which as I write is being echoed in much less acerbic style by Radio 4’s commentary on their four successive wins.

    Dyche team games are never a pleasure to watch. It was a pity that some of the several early chances the Arsenal created didn’t hit the back of the net, but perhaps the late winner was more enjoyable for all that.

    Our players have served up a fantastic season of high quality football, demonstrating collectively a skill level that is unmatched by any other team imho. Inevitably, it has also been a season laden with “What ifs……..” and irony (Arsenal beat 115ers twice and draw with them once but also lose 5 points to Fulham. What!?). Overall though, it’s a season that will shine brightly in my memory as a major step in ‘the process’ which encourages every likelihood of delivering very high grade silverware in the years ahead.

    A huge thanks to all of the writers on GHF who over the course of the season have again produced a super high quality series of posts in a wonderfully diverse style unparalleled anywhere else in the Goonersphere. Great collective job.

  6. 6
    Countryman100 says:

    A fine report Bath. A special day yesterday, which started with your company and that of a total of 14 of us as we broke bread and drank wine round a table once graced by Goonerholic himself.

    For reflections that pluck at the heartstrings I’m not sure anything will beat Arseblog this morning.

    The morning after

  7. 7
    Ollie says:

    Cheers bath!

  8. 8
    TTG says:

    Great report Bath and thanks also for organising a super lunch. I hardly noticed the game but at least we won and nice to see ESR and Timber .I’m very proud to be an Arsenal fan but this season has heightened that pride . It’s been a great season.
    I can’t castigate Citeh enough. Their titles mean nothing . They are counterfeit champions We are the real deal

  9. 9
    Las says:

    Cheers bath! A heart warming report and a heart warming season we had. Being this close to the title makes me nothing but proud. Cheaters are cheaters…. that’s the world we live in but Arsenal (we) proved time and again that dedication, hard work and honesty takes you to the top. Thank you Arsenal!
    I would also like to give a huge thanks to the GHF community. I arrIved here without knowing the Guvenor, without knowing the past of this community and what I find here were passion, knowledge and real friendship. I hope in the next season I could do it, get a ticket go to the Grove and meet some of you personally.

  10. 10
    Sancho Panza says:

    Tim Stillman interview on Arseblog last week is well worth a listen. Not only an interesting slot about Viv but a great view on why it’s not just the financial difference that makes it hard for Arsenal to surpass C115y. Well worth a listen.
    I always fall asleep in podcasts and it takes me about 6 goes to finally hear to the end.

  11. 11
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Cheers Baff. Nicely done.


  12. 12
    Uplympian says:

    Many thanks Bath for fitting review of yesterday’s finale.
    It has been a tremendous season for the club and its supporters. To see the inspiration, dedication and perspiration of the management and players for the whole season leaves us all with a wonderful sense of belonging to this great club. Looking forward with great anticipation for the season to follow.
    Finally thanks to all the ‘holics for fantastic output of previews and reviews – greatly appreciated.

  13. 13
    Trev says:

    Excellent, Bath !

    It’s a very strange thing that I don’t feel disappointed today – maybe beyond not seeing a photo of our celebrating squad with that big gold crowned, silver trophy. But those pictures are very temporary. The love and pride I have for our club is not. Still forced to sit at home at the moment, I watched the closing scenes from the Emirates with, I must admit, a tear in the eye. Not one of sadness though. Achievement against the odds gets me every time – and it did yesterday as our manager, our players, the back room staff and the fans spoke, paraded and sang with dignity and , even yesterday, reinforced commitment to the course they are on.

    We will get there ! Everyone can see it coming.

    Who won the league yesterday ? Who cares ? There is no achievement in winning a bent competition. As you said at the top “we won the honest league.” That will do for me – for now.

  14. 14
    Pangloss says:

    Thanks for thematch, and season review Bath.

    I set out some objectives for the season back in August. Looking at them again, I’d be justified inn feeling some disappointment as our performance in the domestic cup competitions was below what I’d hoped for. To offset that, our league performance was way better than my wildest hopes.

    I can see room for upping the objectives for next season, but right now I just want to relax and forget about football for a few months. Euros? Meh.

    While I consider the season just gone, I don’t recall when St Totts rolled around; I certainly didn’t get excited when it happened,and that’s just how it should be.

    One last thing… I recall reading an appeal somewhere for a chant that could encapsulate the situation of the four times champions.How about

    115, 115 charges pending,
    115,115 I say,
    115, 115 charges pending,
    Winning titles the City way.


  15. 15
    Esso says:

    Cheers Baff!

  16. 16
    North Bank Ned says:

    Bath, the perfect review to close out a season that will long last in the memory.

  17. 17
    Trev says:

    Pangloss, re 115 – 👍🏻👏🏻

  18. 18
    Rev AL says:

    Well played Baff.
    4 in a row – pffffft!… nobody’s buying it, except the 115ers (in all senses of the wassername – of course) UTA!

  19. 19
    ClockEndRider says:

    I echo every thing you say about C115y.
    Thanks also for arranging lunch yesterday. We had a great afternoon catching up.
    The game was typically unmemorable as every match against a Dyche team is. The fans were excellent yesterday. It was interesting to see just how despondent the players were at the end. Their lap of appreciation was performed in a fairly mechanistic way I thought. They clearly didn’t want to be there, while the fans gave it everything. I’m glad they took it so badly. It shows they care. I think it augurs well for next season.
    And Pangloss@115 – there were a few attempts to start up a similar song about 115, but it just didn’t take off. A bit dispiriting that more attendees at the game didn’t seem to be concerned, or don’t believe in what seems a clear case of playing fast and loose with the rules enough to engage.
    Already looking forward to next season when we’ll be going one step further….

  20. 20
    North Bank Ned says:

    Swiss Ramble has taken his accountant’s scalpel to Pep’s comments about how City have been net outspent in the transfer market by other clubs in the past five seasons, with the implication that if transfer spending were the be-all and end-all of title-winning City wouldn’t have won four straight titles unless they were better at football than the clubs that had outspent them.

    Pep chooses his time frame carefully. Over that period, City was net outspent in the transfer market by six other clubs—Chelsea, ourselves, Man U, the neighbours, Pool and Geordie Arabia.

    Yet that doesn’t tell the whole story, because City’s owners had already got their big spending in by that point. To quote Swiss Ramble:

    Since [the Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG)] completed its acquisition of Manchester City in September 2008 ], City’s £1.7 bln net spend is the highest in the Premier League.

    He adds:

    Put another way, in the last few years City have been building from a much stronger base after many years of big spending, so they have just needed to refine their squad, while their main rivals have had to almost completely replace the team in order to try to compete.

    Let us put it another way: City aren’t buying success anymore because they have already bought it. They fast-tracked it seasons back, as Carragher put it recently. Plus, they did it when players were much cheaper than they are now. You could not buy prime-year de Bruyne talent for £55 million today.

    That is not to say that City isn’t still buying to strengthen its squad. Its gross spend of £1 billion over the past five seasons lags only Chelsea, which has been on a planet of its own in that regard since Broehly arrived. While City’s net spend has been tapering off in recent seasons as it has unloaded expensively acquired bench warmers and ploughed investment into a develop-to-sell model for its Academy, its gross spend on its first team has powered ahead.

    Furthermore, wages are arguably more important than transfer spend. Some research has shown wages to be the single biggest determinant of a club’s league finish. We do not have this season’s accounts for the clubs yet, but the figures for 2022/23 show City at the top of the tree with a £423 million wage bill, not far short of double our £235 million.

    Swiss Ramble again:

    If we put together an overview of all the ways to measure a football club’s spending, based on the last five years, as mentioned by Pep last week, then we can see that the great man was exactly right when it comes to net spend, as City were below no fewer than five of their Premier League rivals, based on this metric. However, City were second highest in terms of gross spend and the highest in the Premier League for wages, wages and player amortisation combined, squad cost and squad value. In other words, City have enjoyed the largest financial advantage in the English top flight.

    Pep once said, “I’m a good manager, but I don’t win titles if I don’t have good players and good players are expensive.” 

    It is fair to say that City has spent its money well (cf & cv with the red half of Manchester) and that Pep has made the most of what he has been given. He is unquestionably a great manager, especially of great players, a rare trait. It is where the money came from in the first place that struggles to pass the smell test.

    The 115 charges against City claim the club overstated its sponsorship revenue and understated costs to improve its bottom line, thus helping it stay within Financial Fair Play targets by boosting profits or reducing losses. The meta allegation is that City cooked the books.

    As we know, City has always denied the charges and tenaciously lawyered up to refute them. Yet, as Gertrude says in Hamlet, the lady doth protest too much, methinks.

  21. 21
    North Bank Ned says:

    The final GHF Predictathon leaderboard for the season has been posted. Congratulations to Pangloss on a dominating victory. Kudos, too, to the runners-up, Poosker and BtM.

    You know where to find it…

  22. 22
    Bathgooner says:

    Brilliant drink, Ned @20. Swiss Ramble is a great source of good data.

    The FA should be preparing tar and feathers, stocks and a ducking stool for the summer!

  23. 23
    Ollie says:

    Congrats on your win, Pangloss!

  24. 24
    Countryman100 says:

    Many thanks and congratulations to TTG for being the inspiration behind this competition and of course to Ned for his weekly updates, bump charts and gentle commentary. I speak of course from my position in the relegation zone with Bath and CER. Three old chaps with decades of experience of watching both football and The Arsenal. Sadly, all three of us also have a taste for Negronis and fine red wine. This may have been our downfall.

    Congratulations to Pangloss for romping away with the competition. And what a lovely outcome in the shape of a monkey to Willow!

    As young Mr Grace used to say, supported by lovely nurses “You’ve all done very well!”

  25. 25
    Bathgooner says:

    Heh C100 @24! Guilty as charged!

    I echo C100’s thanks and congratulations.

  26. 26
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100: everyone did do very well; these were high scores throughout for this kind of competition. Sons appear to have consistently outperformed fathers. Higher Negroni capacity being an advantage of youth, perhaps.

  27. 27
    Sancho Panza says:

    Just to say Sancho Panza was bottom at one stage, sacked his manager (some old donkey) and replaced him with the under 14s coach Don Quixote. Went on to finish 5th! Not bad, not bad at all.

  28. 28
    Bathgooner says:

    Given that the one and only Brian Clough was quoted in the match report, it seems appropriate to share this clip of the brilliant Michael Sheen delivering that legendary monologue when playing the role in The Damned United which is well worth watching if you haven’t seen it:


  29. 29
    Pangloss says:

    Many thanks to all above for their congratulations on my cleaning up in the Predictathon. I look forward eagerly to Ned’s expose of how I did it, because I am buggered if I know. One thing that has struck me is that as I’m not a subscriber to Pay TV, I was spared the barrage of ex-pros telling me how good Vincent Kompany was. This meant that I wasn’t as badly burned by Burnley’s (lack of) performance as many may have been.

    A couple of other points:
    o At the beginning of the season, I sought out journalists’ predictions to measure myself against. I
    could only find Doug McIntyre (Fox Sports) and Phil McNulty (BBC). Early in the season I was
    doing well against them, but they ended up beating me with scores of 102 and 136 respectively.
    o I also looked at a prediction that cunningly mirrored finishing positions in 2022-23. Early in the
    season it performed very well, but it faded and ended up with 222 compared with the GHF crowd’s

    I fear that my prediction career has peaked.

  30. 30
    ClockEndRider says:

    Ned@20. Nice work. Pep had clearly been coached in what to say. As soon as I saw his quotes I thought it was a pretty brazen attempt at that old politicians favourite, managerial misdirection. The interview equivalent of the old Tottenham Court Road “Find the Lady” game. Keep the eyes where you want them to be and the crowd won’t see the prestidigitation going on where it’s actually important. In City’s case in bumping up sponsorship figures through sweetheart deals with other state owned companies – as M. Wenger said at the time of the Etihad deal : “ I would like to see what the second place nid was”- quite apart from the offshore payments to players and managers – alleged. Add in the impact right down the leagues on player prices and wages and it’s obvious that City have had an insidious, creeping negative effect on English football. A blight, not a benefit. Why else would there have been meetings between the British embassy over there and Abu Dhabi to discuss what is going on? The whole thing stinks.

    I echo C100 and Baths congrats to Pangloss on a fine prediction win. I am reminded of the chant of relegation doomed supporters of yesteryear, to the tune of “ When the Saints..”:
    “ The football league
    Is upside down…”!

  31. 31
    ClockEndRider says:

    Line 7. Bid, not nid. I’m sure you figured it out…..

  32. 32
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Congrats to Pangloss on his preditcathon win. And I echo the thanks to TTG and Ned. The weekly updates have been great fun and I thoroughly enjoyed the contest. Fantastic that it sent some money to Willow too.

    I like Pangloss’ chant @14.

    And Ned’s 20 is a fantastic post. There’s a well deserved drink on the bar from me!

    I had Manure for the FA cup. Its unlikely, but still possible they win it. Who else had Manure or Shitty?

  33. 33
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    I just had a look at the predictions and Palace winning against Villa on the last day wrecked me. If they’d have lost, I’d have correctly predicted the final positions of Palace, Fulham and Bournemouth. But they battered Villa and three correct predictions went out the window, as (presumably) did my spot on the podium.

    Emery has a lot to answer for.

  34. 34
    bt8 says:

    Thank you Bathgooner for this excellent report and all your efforts that keep this blog up and running smoothly. I am very glad we were able to close out our outstanding season with three points because we certainly deserved it on the day despite the well executed bus parking exercise by Dyche’s minions.

    Here’s an interesting link with plenty of evidence that we are heading in a good direction: https://www.skysports.com/football/news/11670/13137881/arsenal-fall-just-short-of-man-city-in-title-race-but-their-best-is-yet-to-come-under-ruthless-relentless-mikel-arteta

    Rob Edwards is certainly correct that we can beat teams in a number of ways. With the best defensive record in the league I wouldn’t want to be an opposing manager facing Arsenal, and that’s not even counting our summer signings and other fine tunings. What a time to be a Gooner.

  35. 35
    BtM says:

    @20 – Thanks for that fine summary, Ned.

  36. 36
    Trev says:

    Congratulations, Pangloss – a dominant start to finish victory.

    Thanks also to TTG and Ned for encouraging and maintaining the competition.

    Great post, Ned, re Swiss Ramble. I have said here before, in much less detail, that C115y do not – apart from Grealish – tend to pay the highest transfer fees. They don’t have to because their MO is to tap up players they want and promise them super high wages. When I last checked a little while ago, the weekly average across their entire squad was £195,000 per week.

    They also did a “Chelsea” some years ago but buying every decent player going and stockpiling or loaning them out until an advantageous selling point occurred. Their Etihad sponsorship deal is well known and discussed – and the way they circumvented “market value” rules.

    High time the Premier League took the initiative and forced this issue to some sort of conclusion before all credibility is lost.

  37. 37
    Pangloss says:

    My attention has been drawn to a couple of articles in today’s Evening Standard, reflecting on events surrounding the four-times champions: Man City 115 charges punishment: Expulsion to non-league an option but titles and trophies likely to remain (requires that you create a free account) and Time to answer 115 questions over whether Man City title wins stink.

  38. 38
    TTG says:

    I am very grateful to Pangloss for attaching these articles . The tone is different to what we have seen in print before and it has elicited the expected ghastly response lower down in the print edition from the secretary of Manchester City’s supporters club . I lack the expertise or time to attach it but I would seriously like to argue it out with the fella . If Citeh thinks it is sour grapes and that they have no charges to answer they might find Liverpool have an even bigger grievance than us .
    Thanks also for a fine and instructive post from Ned @20 .
    And finally Pangloss is too modest to claim credit for his performance in the Predictathon but I showed his score to the man who created the original Aficionados competition and he was seriously impressed as it beat any score in over twenty years of competition. That might be an indication that the league is becoming more predictable but there were still some surprises this year. So well done sir that’s a fine performance even though you made it a bit of a procession as no one could catch you .

  39. 39
    Trev says:

    TTG – don’t forget Pangloss had authority to edit blog content 😳🤣

  40. 40
    Pangloss says:

    Trev – thats the second time you have accused me of Predictathon irregularities. Please knock it off.

  41. 41
    Trev says:

    Pangloss – I’ve already genuinely congratulated you @36.

    The emojis @39 are clearly indicating the comment was a joke after TTG’s lavish praise.
    To be clear – sincere congratulations again – and sorry if the joke caused offence 🙏🏼

  42. 42
    Pangloss says:

    Right… here we go.

    We’ve all read that after bringing 115 charges against Manchester City in February 2023 the PL will not proceed to a hearing until October 2024 at the earliest. We have further read that this is because it’s very complicated to put together a case involving 115 charges. Is there a lawyer out there who would be prepared to offer an opinion (a free opinion!) as to how long it is likely to take to go from hearing to verdict and sentence? As a layman I’d hope that things will move fairly quickly as the 18 months preparation would include preparing rebuttals of the repondent’s likely arguments. Obviously Manchester City’s owners are likely to be able to afford more expensive, and presumably better, lawyers than the PL’s who are likely to come up with a few surprises, but is it unreasonable to hope that it’ll all be over by Christmas? (Yes. I have heard that phrase before.)

  43. 43
    Pangloss says:

    Trev@41 Apology accepted, and thanks.

  44. 44
    Countryman100 says:

    Pochettino leaves Chelsea “by mutual consent”

  45. 45
  46. 46
  47. 47
    North Bank Ned says:

    If City are found guilty by the PL’s independent commission they can appeal, which will be heard by another PL commission. If that upholds the first verdict, then City will take it to the High Court, then the Court of Appeals and then the Supreme Court, if necessary. If all that fails, given the antiquity of some of the charges, further appeals to European courts are possible. This one will run and one. M’learned friends advise not to expect a conclusion for three to four years at least, but do ask if it is too late to board the legal gravy train.

  48. 48
    TTG says:

    I think we all accept that this could be a long drawn out process- you left out the Star Chamber and the United Nations! The very big point though is if it is established publicly that Citeh have behaved inappropriately in a whole host of ways the climate will completely change .
    Do not overlook either the impact of public opinion and the huge pressure of media opinion when legal details emerge ( if the public had read the Der Spiegel tapes they could see some of the stunts they have been accused of and the culture that has existed at the Etihad)and there would be huge global resistance to a refusal by Citeh to accept any judgment ( which in football terms could be apocryphal ) .
    Citeh have been able to glide along in a different dimension without being tarnished by what are a massive range of alleged misdemeanours. If they are found guilty there would almost certainly start to be investigations for fraud given the nature of some of the charges. Once the genie leaves this bottle Citeh are not ever going to be able to put it back .

  49. 49
    TTG says:

    I have been in many legal proceedings over the years but my involvement was at the Rymans Premier League level ( applying footballing jargon ) . Justice is not impressively transacted in some of the lower courts but this case will bring out very big guns on both sides
    My understanding is that both parties are taking KCs (Kings Counsels ) from the same chambers ( Blackstone) and the PL is also engaging another very high quality firm , Bird and Bird , so it is probably illusory for anyone to suggest that Citeh will just blow the PL out of the water with greater legal firepower .
    This is a very real bind that Citeh find themselves in despite their seeming complete dismissal of the charges . That’s a stance to protect their position although of course they may face down all 115 charges . But it would be normal not to concede at this stage .
    But if the PL felt that any delays were a cynical attempt to kick the can down the road they might be forced to try different tactics. They can’t afford to lose this. It would make it almost impossible to make fair regulation of the league happen. The Government have a keen interest in this as well . They favour a football regulator but if the PL.case collapses would it effectively ever have any teeth ?
    Everton and Forest have accepted wrongdoing in their cases as have Leicester and there may be a wider outcry if other clubs feel that there is one law for the ultra rich and one for the shall we say not quite so rich . And some clubs might feel they are due significant compensation if the case against Citeh was proved. Liverpool for example might have won two more titles . So it’s not just the PL management team who have a vested interest in this.
    We might see public relations play a part in managing the way this ultimately plays out

  50. 50
    OsakaMatt says:

    Rises like a legal eagle to nod his appreciation Pangloss’s way for his kind explanation
    of why I was roundly thrashed in the predictathon! Well done sir.

  51. 51
    North Bank Ned says:

    Well in for the half-ton, OM. Rumpolesque.

  52. 52
    OsakaMatt says:

    Cheers Ned.

    In one of the least surprising decisions of the season Forest haven’t
    taken up the option to buy Nuno. We will have to find a new home
    for him this summer I suppose, though he was only 7m from Benfica
    so no biggie financially.

    Cédric sent a nice message on his way out. Best of luck to him if he
    continues playing as the situation wasn’t his fault I think and he
    continued to behave professionally. An odd one that we probably want
    to move on from quickly without investigating the money trail in any way.

  53. 53
    bathgooner says:

    TTG @49, your point about public relations is well made. I think the attempt at sports washing the reputation of a Middle Eastern despotic state with medieval laws and medieval attitudes to female equality, LGBT rights can now be recognised as having failed. Indeed if the current climate of public opinion e.g. the trending of Lance Armstrong on ‘X’ and the fragmentation of the main media omertà is anything to go by, the questions raised about the sudden rise to success and subsequent domination of the Premier League by their little East Manchester outfit and the revelation of 115 charges of financial impropriety in January 2023 and their efforts to obstruct due process have had the opposite effect to what they wishes. Shitteh and their owners are tarnished, despised and held in contempt in many quarters and for all the efforts and talent of the players and coaches who take the tarnished shillings, will never get the respect due to sportsmen who compete honestly.

    I hope the club is flung into the fourth tier with a 30 point penalty and is stripped of its trophies.

  54. 54
    bathgooner says:

    An excellent piece from Gunnerblog for his final “On the Whistle’ of the season:

  55. 55
    North Bank Ned says:

    OM@52: According to the PL’s Independent Commission that docked Forest four points for PSR violations, Forest has a projected loss of £12 million-17 million for this season and will need to break even to be PSR compliant. Tavares won’t be the only one they cannot afford to keep.

    TTG@49: As you say, there is reputational risk to both City and the PL over the resolution of the 115 charges. Short of the PL switching to a salary cap system and agreeing a financial reset that wipes the slate clean for every club, which would be met by initial public outrage that I suspect would soon subside, how could the charges be settled in a way that isn’t damaging to one side or another? Perhaps ‘holics with experience of communications dark arts could enlighten us.

  56. 56
    bathgooner says:

    A very nice piece today from Keenos, outlining the remarkable work of Arteta, Edu and others transforming Arsenal’s fortunes on a far smaller sum than has been expended by our rivals:


  57. 57
    OsakaMatt says:

    @55 yes, Forest are definitely in trouble. However, given they almost never played him I doubt they would have kept Nuno anyway.

    Several very salient points on 115ty made above. The tide does seem to be turning. Ironically Pep’s success is one driver of public dissatisfaction at the current delay.

    My only remaining question about 115ty now is what action needs to take against their supporters once the club is found guilty. I am wondering whether the reintroduction of pillories outside PL club grounds for some scapegoats might be reasonable or perhaps seen as a tad harsh.

  58. 58
    Ollie says:

    Well in on the half-ton, Matt!

  59. 59
  60. 60
    bathgooner says:

    Very interesting that a number of bookies have slashed the odds of the 115ers being relegated to 25/1. Someone must have released some information!


  61. 61
    Trev says:

    I never bet but I’m actually quite tempted.
    25/1 on them going down – that would be some deep joy …..

  62. 62
    Ollie says:

    Kolasinac 3 Xhaka 0

  63. 63
    North Bank Ned says:

    Bath@60: or a bit of smart reverse psychology marketing by some bookies to get punters to put a few quid on something that 25/1 odds makes seem plausible if a long shot whereas betting on 2000/1 odds deela like a waste of money, even if that is more realistically the odds on City being relegated.

  64. 64
    ClockEndRider says:

    Ned@63- I agree with you. The world is full of poor punters and rich bookies for a reason….

  65. 65
    Bathgooner says:

    You’ve nailed it @63, Ned.

    There’s never been a shrewder observation, CER @65.

  66. 66
    Bathgooner says:

    I remember my statistics teacher in high school observing that the odds for every horse in a race, converted to decimals should always add up to 1.000 as one of the entrants must win, but they never do. I haven’t looked in a long time, but he was right then when I checked. The same formula should logically apply to the win/lose/draw odds in a football match as that covers all likely outcomes apart from the remote possibility of abandonment. I haven’t checked that but will do so.

  67. 67
  68. 68
    Ollie says:

    arseblog has put some interesting stats on him on the blog today, baff.
    And indeed Ned and CER.

  69. 69
    OsakaMatt says:

    As a punter I am loathe to speak up for the bookies; but if the odds were supposed to add up to one then I would move into the casino business

  70. 70
    North Bank Ned says:

    Ollie@68: Bijlow’s career stats overall (including shot-stopping and cross-catching, not only his footwork) look a bit better than Raya’s and are better than Ramsdale’s. So if Edu signs him, would Raya get Bijlowed as Ramsdale got Raya’d?

  71. 71
    Ollie says:

    We might find out soon, Ned. Although I guess we still haven’t technically signed Raya, so he might just decide not to sign if he suspects this might happen?
    (Don’t know what the terms of the loan with Brentford are)

  72. 72
    OsakaMatt says:

    It seems the football regulator bill will be delayed, the PL can hang o to some of their money a bit longer. Although maybe not that long as the bill has widespread support.

  73. 73
    Countryman100 says:

    I see Rishi Sunak asked an audience of Welsh voters if they were looking forward to the Euros ….🤦‍♂️

  74. 74
    OsakaMatt says:

    Parqueta charged with being booked deliberately for betting purposes on 4 occasions.
    I suppose the FA must be confident but it might be difficult to prove.

  75. 75
    ClockEndRider says:

    Now I can see why Man City were after Paqueta last season.With that level of financial impropriety, he’d fit right in.

  76. 76
    bt8 says:

    Tim Stillman has written an excellent assessment of what we need to do this summer to improve our attacking options, and as much as I like the players he says we need to sell I suspect he is right.


  77. 77
    bt8 says:

    From the Erik ten Hag summer playlist

  78. 78
    TTG says:

    Bijlow has missed 41 games in the last three seasons through injury . I don’t think I’ve ever seen a worse injury record for a top goalie . We have scarcely suffered a goalkeeping injury since Maupay nobbled Leno four years ago.
    I think he looks a sick note

  79. 79
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks for the links bt8. I am guessing Ten Hag will be fired too,
    though hopefully not quite as brutally as the unfortunate young
    lady in the video.

  80. 80
    OsakaMatt says:

    Bijlow looks a better fit than either Runarrson or Turner so I guess that’s progress in a way but TTG makes a good point about injuries.

  81. 81
    OsakaMatt says:

    The club have confirmed Sambi Lokonga is surplus to requirements. I don’t fault his effort for us but just not at the level we need,He seems to have found his level at Luton this season so next of luck to him finding somewhere else this summer.

    I wonder why we said clearly we don’t want him as it doesn’t seem best financially (still has a year plus a 1 year option on his contract) but I suppose the amount of money involved isn’t huge.

  82. 82
    OsakaMatt says:

    That would be ‘best’ of luck not next in the final sentence of the first paragraph @81

  83. 83
    North Bank Ned says:

    An interesting comment from the New York Times from a year ago when Man U was considering Bijlow (and doubly interesting because of the keeper he was being compared to):

    Experts in Dutch football believe Bijlow’s positioning is not up to scratch. He often relies on his athleticism to make wonder saves, whereas a more experienced or focused goalkeeper — such as David Raya — would look to adjust their movement and placement to make a save easier.

    His smaller-than-average frame for a goalkeeper means those extra leaps make him more injury-prone than others above. Bijlow is 6ft 2in (1.88m), but he is lean in a manner not dissimilar from De Gea’s early days at United. He missed nine games between February and April 2023 after being sidelined with a wrist injury.

    Bijlow’s odd positioning can lead to the occasional howler, where long-range speculative efforts trickle in.

  84. 84
    ClockEndRider says:

    Sounds to me very much like this bloke’s agent has been set to work. Maybe they think that with poor buys like Runnarsson and Turner at Arsenal they’re in with a chance if they try it on.

  85. 85
    TTG says:

    CER knows!
    My take on our no 2 keeper ( which has been a real area of concern until last season with strange choices. Turner was a very average keeper and Runarsson well ! And yet we had someone who is widely considered to be the goalkeeper with the most presence in the world as a number two for yonks . My take is that because of the position it is always possible to sustain a long injury absence , often at a key stage of the season so you need experience in that position with someone who is possibly slightly past their best . That’s why I’d favour the return of someone like Szczesny

  86. 86
    Ollie says:

    Cheers TTG. You might be onto something CER. blogs now has the injury history details on today’s post. Looks a bit fragile indeed….

  87. 87
    Bathgooner says: