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The Countrymen at the Etihad, about to collect a hard earned point

I’ve stated many times on this forum that I prefer my football live. In doing so I’m very conscious of my privilege in being able to attend matches, home and away. Many readers of this blog cannot get to games, either because they live overseas or far away, find the expenditure of time and money impossible, or, indeed, just can’t get tickets. I have held two season tickets on the North Bank lower at the Emirates since 2009 and began attending away games again (I’m not counting my misspent (or well-spent) youth here) in 2013. In the season just completed, we (my son and I) attended 38 games, 25 at home and 13 away. I’ve written about my experiences in going to games since I first joined this distinguished community in 2012 and some of you have been kind enough to say my scribblings help you to connect with the away fans from afar. I’ve been asked to write about the experience of “travelling with The Arsenal” during the season 2023/4. So here we go (apologies, it’s a bit long).

These were the away games we went to this year. An asterisk indicates that this was a new ground to us since we started going together.

Community Shield at Wembley (Manchester City)
Goodison Park (Everton)
*Stamford Bridge (Chelsea)
London Stadium (West Ham, League Cup)
St James’s Park (Newcastle)
Villa Park (Aston Villa)
The City Ground (Nottingham Forest)
*Bramall Lane (Sheffield United)
The Etihad (Manchester City)
*The Amex Stadium (Brighton)
Molineux (Wolves)
*Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (Spurs)
Old Trafford (Manchester United)

The away games we missed (14 of them) were mainly due to not having enough credits (see below), especially at small grounds like Luton or Bournemouth, although there were a couple that were just inconvenient (e.g. Anfield on December 23, which clashed with family commitments). I don’t go to European aways for several reasons, but mainly because these days, at 67, I just don’t have the stamina for them, or a taste for mixing with certain police forces or fan groups.

How do you get away tickets?

The club has now closed its away season ticket scheme (I was never on it) so the only way to get tickets is via the credit scheme. For each game attended you get one credit. These add up over three years, with the first year of the three deleted at the start of the new season. We started the season with 22 credits and finished with 35. I’m not sure what we will start the new season with. The maximum at the end of the season was, I believe, 72 (three year’s worth of going to every away game). This graphic shows the number of tickets allocated, plus the credit level it sold out at.

This graphic was put together before the Spurs and Man Utd games. Both sold out on 25 credits on allocations of about 3000 – 3500. Very unusually there were no tickets available at zero credits, although there were five at 5 credits or fewer. The main reason for this was firstly, the enthusiasm for the team and secondly our lack of success in domestic cups. The allocations are 5% (some give more, e.g. Brighton) of the ground for Premier League, 10% for the league cup and 15% for the FA Cup. These cup games offer the best chances of getting on the ladder. Going away midweek, to watch the kids, is not for everyone, so zero credits can often apply. We built our credits up going to places like Preston, Blackpool and West Brom for the cups.

How do we get to games?

If you are lucky enough to live in London, you usually have the option of the train or club coaches. Living in the wilds of Cambridgeshire this would mean travelling for two hours in the wrong direction so we drive. I’m lucky enough to drive a large, comfortable, German saloon which eats up the motorway miles and for the last two years, it has been affordable to insure my son (now 25) on my car, so we can share the driving. For parking I use two parking apps: Your Parking Space and Just Park. I don’t walk so well these days so try and park within 15-20 minutes of the ground. I usually pay £10-£20 per game. The only game we stay overnight for is Newcastle. It’s 200 miles away, a four hour drive, and it’s just too far to drive both ways in a day and go to the game. This season we got a nice two bedroomed house in Gateshead (a £6 Uber ride from the ground) for £85.

The away fans and songs

Of course the true joy of travelling away is to be part of the travelling Gooners. Committed, loud, often a little worse for wear, it is incredibly rare for our away fans to be anything but totally positive about supporting our team. We see many of the same faces as we go from game to game, often from our section of the North Bank. I have never known them to be anything other than kind and supportive to an old fella who sometimes is a little slow going up and down the stairs. When a goal goes in the “limbs” are spectacular and unrestrained. I have taken a tumble in previous years down the rows at Old Trafford and at Burnley (and very nearly at St James’s Park). Safe standing bars are making these events much less likely thank goodness. At Old Trafford this year, the singing began 20 minutes before kick off and never stopped. We are in the great position that most of the team have their own songs. Virtually all of these started at away games. We first heard the Martin Ǿdegaard song at Goodison. The Trossard song at Molineux. The Havertz song began at Bournemouth (I’m told – we weren’t there). We first heard the Gabriel song at Brighton but I believe it started at a European away. A few years ago we were at Leicester and went to an away pub before the game to find a guy on a table leading the singing of a song we’d never heard before:

Dani Ceballos
Dani Ceballos!
Drinks Estrella
Eats Paella
The boy is fucking magic!

Many of these gradually transfer to the Emirates and helps build the usually great atmosphere there. Those who went to the West Ham league game heard the genesis of the song “who put the ball in the West Ham net? Half our fucking team did”. At Bramall Lane, when we were three up after 15 minutes, their fans started leaving. Cue chorus of “everywhere we go, stadiums are empty!”

The Emirates have many celebrity fans. It’s often easier to spot them at away games, when they are not diluted amongst 60,000 others. I was stood next to Arseblog’s Tim Stillman at Villa this year. I can report that his vituperation of the referee was as loud and foul mouthed as my own! In the concourse bar at the Etihad was Ian Stone. Alex Brooker was very close to us at Forest a couple of years ago. Proper fans, not so up themselves that they have to go in a box or the Directors area, but stand on the terraces with us plebs.

Favourite away games this season

It has to be Spurs (3-0 up at half time) and Man United (we’ve been three times to Old Trafford in recent years and have seen us win twice. Not a bad record!). Brighton was huge fun. We got the whole lower tier behind the goal, sang our hearts out, played well and we were in row 1.

Favourite away grounds

We tend to like the old, historic grounds. We’ve made a special effort to get to Goodison in the last few seasons as it won’t be there for much longer. The facilities are terrible and the view from the Bullen stand is dreadful, but when the sirens go and the teams run out to the snare drum and the Z cars theme, the hair stands up on the back of my neck. We very much like Villa Park and the City ground for similar reasons. Honourable mention for Anfield.

Least favourite away grounds

West Ham. The way they treat visiting supporters is rubbish and the design of the stadium means it’s an atmosphere vacuum. The Etihad. The worst, chippiest fans on the circuit who really don’t like Cockneys. Southampton (back next season) for reasons I rehearsed in the last drinks.

Footy scran

When you are away at football for many hours, you’ve got to eat. TTG referred to me once as someone “who likes to travel round the country eating unfeasibly large breakfasts”. Fair comment. The season started badly at Wembley where both my son and myself had a dodgy burger on the concourse and got very unpleasant food poisoning over the following week. We rarely eat in grounds (that includes the Emirates) though an honourable mention to Wolves where a Guinness and a beef and onion pie were excellent. Top of the shop though, is the Bombay Bridgeford near the City ground (and opposite Trent Bridge) which is simply one of my favourite Indian restaurants in the country, with celestial garlic naan bread. Honourable mention to the Masala Club in Burgess Hill, on the way home from Brighton. The Etihad has a nice little fish and chip shop just opposite the away entrance. The motorway services at the top of the M6 toll road and at the junction of the M1 and the A50 both have a wide variety of different and tolerable food outlets. All suggestions gratefully received!

Driving home

Sometimes, especially for evening games in the North West, you’re not going to get home until the wee small hours. The powers that be have an irritating habit of shutting motorways for roadworks after 9pm. It can take a long time to get away from the ground and back on the motorway, even though Google Maps tries its best with the back doubles. Manchester is usually an hour to get out of the city. Southampton is often two. The drive home is also influenced by the result. If we’ve won, we’ll happily listen to the football phone ins (unless Jamie O’Hara is on). On a Sunday night at 9pm the excellent Trans Europe Express, presented by Danny Kelly on TalkSport is well worth a listen. If we’ve lost we listen to music instead. We’ve merged two of our play lists and tolerantly (well, most of the time) listen to each other’s music.

What does next season bring?

We lose Luton (too small for us to get tickets), Sheffield United and Burnley. We gain Leicester, a city well known to us (my son was at University there) with a nice ground, great curries and only 60 miles away. Ipswich town of course. Only 1.5 hours from us, but with a capacity of only 30,000, so for a league game we’ll only get 1500 tickets which will be touch and go for us. And Southampton (nuff said). Here’s hoping for some good runs and away draws in the Cups.

This year was our best ever for games attended, and for away games. I’m fortunate in a tolerant wife (who enjoys having time to herself when we’re away at football) and a supportive and caring son who looks after me. A complete reversal to when I first started taking him to games 20 years ago!

95 Drinks to “Travelling with the Arsenal”

  1. 1
    21st century gooner says:

    Cheers C100. Away games are always special. I’ve only been to about 10 in 15 or so years but this year we were able to do West Ham away in the cup and league. It is as c100 says, and everyone else who has been there, a crappy arena but the 6-0 wasn’t too bad.

    You meet so many people at aways which adds to the enjoyment. On the munich metro from the airport we met a stateside gooner from Chicago who was going to the game and it was great to see the commitment of our supporters from faraway lands. Although we didn’t have match tickets it was great to sample the pre match atmosphere whilst soaking up another culture. We plan to do more European aways next season. I can’t wait.

    The atmosphere in N5 has of course been fantastic over the last couple of years but away days are the pinnacle for many match going supporters. I look forward to embarking on many more away days over land and sea (and possibly lestah) in the years and decades to come.

  2. 2
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks C100, a very enjoyable read as always. As you know I much enjoy your away day reports and I am certainly one of the people who keep a connection with the away support through reading, and it also helps me remember my own well-spent away day supporting youth in the 80s :). As you say it is a quite different experience though you needed a certain resigned sense of humour for the early 80s away days in the pre-GG days.

    Quite agree with you about the City Ground & Villa Park though I think would probably prefer the new “No atmosphere” West Ham to the old hostile and violent atmosphere at Upton Park. The buggers were lobbing bottles over the fencing at us the last time I went.

    One question I did have was about not going overseas because of some fan groups – did you mean other fans or ours? I just wondered if any unpleasant minority has sneaked into our fan base that I wasn’t aware of.

    Oh yes, I also learned who Ian Stone and Alex Brooker are! We’ve always been a club for the discerning celebrity 😉

  3. 3
    Countryman100 says:

    Hi Matt. I meant certain European fan groups, not ours.

  4. 4
    OsakaMatt says:

    Hi mate. That’s good, I’ve always thought our fan base relatively good really.

  5. 5
    TTG says:

    Wonderful stuff C100 and you both deserve commendation for your commitment to the team . I consider myself a very loyal fan but although I’ve done away games all over England and some in Europe I can’t do the motorway pounding any more
    We have a committed bunch on here many getting up at sparrowfart or extending Käte into the night to watch the matches but the flavour that C100 imparts to the blog is special and health challenges have not diminished his enthusiasm and commitment. When I think away trips my mind goes back to the days when it was a very risky thing to contemplate. Thank heavens those days are largely behind us
    Top stuff

  6. 6
    North Bank Ned says:

    All very enviousness-making, C100. Your awayday match reports are always keenly awaited at Castle Ned. What a pleasure to read a season’s review.

    I can also report that even on dodgy streams, the singing at away matches comes through strong and loud, especially this season.

    I am with OM on Upton Park. Thankfully gone and not fondly remembered. A nasty. little ground.

  7. 7
    Ollie says:

    Great stuff, C100!
    I miss doing the odd away game domestically or in Europe,but I very much enjoy reading your reports on travels, atmosphere, food, singing, etc.
    Here’s to another season of away adventures.

  8. 8
    ClockEndRider says:

    Great article, C100. Thanks for your on-going efforts and away reports.
    I love going to the Emirates, but away games are in another level. Every away fan is really up for it, they all spend the entire 90 minutes screaming for the team and singing non-stop. In the few away games I manage to get tickets for, generally speaking, the threat of violence is minimal – outside of the London games. The whole experience is well worth the early starts and often early hours returns. 21CG and I started trying to get to away games 3 or 4 years ago and it’s really hard to get tickets. At least we have a few away credits now so hoping for some trips next season. It was very annoying to miss out on Bayern away tickets by 1 credit. Hopefully we’ll have better cup runs next season and be able to get to a couple of those games.

  9. 9
    Bathgooner says:

    What an excellent blog redolent with the away day experience. One of your best, C100.

  10. 10
    Trev says:

    Interesting stuff, C100 – thank you !
    I had no idea how to accumulate away credits – my away days were in the 70s and 80s when you didn’t need credits – but just enough bravery or foolhardiness to take your life in your hands, certainly anywhere in London and many places beyond. Spurs and West Ham were the worst – I never made it to Chelsea.

    Looking forward to more away day reports next season. Personally, I’ll be more than pleased to make it back to the Emirates if I have a working hip and knee.

    For now, I’m trying not to imagine TTG “extending Kate into the night” ….
    Lucky / dirty (delete as appropriate) old man !

  11. 11
    bt8 says:

    Bravo, c100 on that highly readable and entertaining review of your and c100jr’s away day/season adventures. I see your pick of the lot was at the noisy neighbors where I imagine the first half was a bit easier watch than the second. Three points gained at the derby on their ground is nothing to be sneezed at though, and one of many great achievements in an outstanding away season on the pitch.

  12. 12
    Trev says:

    Just watching the T20 England v Pakistan – probably C100 you are too …?
    The Pakistani wicket keeper appears to have had a very good lunch 😳

  13. 13
    Countryman100 says:

    I am indeed Trev. He is huge! Makes me look lithe.

  14. 14
    Countryman100 says:

    Said wicketkeeper has dropped two catches. Someone on Twitter has just written “he’d have caught that if it was a donut”

  15. 15
    Trev says:

    I said the same to myself except “ burger “ 🤣

  16. 16
    Countryman100 says:

    Trump found guilty on all 34 charges

    Now do Man City.

  17. 17
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Lovely reminiscences of the season, all the writers in the last few posts. Sorry have had the chance to comment after reading.

    Was reading this Athletic article and thought worth sharing … https://www.nytimes.com/athletic/5525066/2024/05/30/arsenal-elite-data-premier-league/?source=user_shared_article

  18. 18
    Goonersince54 says:

    Top stuff C100
    It is something special when you can travel to away games with your son.
    When I was growing up Dad took me all over the Country.
    To the furthest away games up North, Anfield, Old Trafford, Elland Road, St James Park,
    Goodison, Roker Park,Turf Moor, Ewood Park, Hillsborough etc, plus the shorter trips to the Midlands and surrounding parishes.
    We were not very good back in the late 50’s and through most of the 60’s, so more often than not we would return to London on the journey home with many more defeats than victories.
    In those early days right up to mid 60’s they also played believe it or not on consecutive days around Christmas time, and more often than not against the same team.
    I remember we travelled to Hillsborough one day, and played them at home the next day, same happened with Stoke and Blackburn, plus a few others, so there was no common sense, where you played a local team, to make the travel easier.
    But as it is today, it was the camaraderie amongst the travelling support that kept us going back season after season.
    We never encountered a skerrick of trouble from the home supporters, as the terrible violence on the terraces didn’t start till the early 70’s.
    In fact I don’t recall there was any segregation of supporters either.
    You could often wander from one end of the ground to the other, and enjoy friendly banter with the locals.
    I have those treasured never to be forgotten times with my Dad, and I also have a lot of those old programmes which I often re read, and it brings back those memories of the 2 of us sitting on the train together surrounded by friends, the carriage filled with laughter and banter, full of smoke, as there were no smoking bans in those days, a cheese, or ham roll and a mug of tea so strong you could stand your spoon up in it, was the standard fare from the canteen on the train, and all was right with the world.
    I still miss him to this day for lot’s of things, but mostly for the love of the Club that he gave me.

  19. 19
    OsakaMatt says:

    Loved reading that post Clive, thanks! It was a different world even 20 years later in the late 70s when I started traveling away and the threat of violence was always there in the background somewhere and the trains were away day cattle trucks. To be fair it was relatively simple to avoid the violence if you kept your radar turned on and also you could get a nicer train if you travelled at a different time and paid a bit more. The sense of camaraderie was the same though, it was just fun. The difference is I suppose that from all the home games what I remember most is the match itself (and there were some great ones!) but with the away games what I remember best is the day itself, getting on the train with some mates, getting to wherever and finding a safe, friendly local (it wasn’t that difficult, people were still people 90% of the time) for a few pre match beers and then making your way through an unknown town to find an unknown stadium, discovering I actually liked Ipswich (for example) and then watching the game, the trip home win or lose and getting back to your local hopefully early enough for a few more beers (but not to worry because it’s the edge of South London and lock-ins were no problem if the guvnor was so inclined). And the next day was always Sunday so no work 🌞😃 Not better times but certainly simpler in many ways.

  20. 20
    OsakaMatt says:

    @10 Trev, Chavski was fairly unpleasant as you can imagine if you’ve been to Wham, though just a 20 minute tube ride and walk for me. Standard no colours type thing. Never made it to Anfield myself as I figured it’s just Chavski but 3 hours away and we always lost (until we gloriously didn’t)

  21. 21
    Countryman100 says:

    Clive @18, Thank you so much for your memories. A beautiful post. You are so right that one of the special things for me about away days is that I share them with my son. It keeps us bonded together. I hope when I’m gone he’ll have fond memories of his Dad, and days at the football.

  22. 22
    TTG says:

    That’s a super post in response to C100’s terrific piece
    I didn’t travel away with my Dad outside London for football games but I treasured time spent at football with him and our shared love of Arsenal . I am delighted to know Countryman Junior and he enjoys his trips with Dad every much as Dad enjoys travelling with him . He’s a fine young man . Add in the great football memories we created last season and you produce great happiness and memories that will last forever
    Nostalgia IS what it used to be 😀

  23. 23
    North Bank Ned says:

    Clive@18: Lovely post. You brought a lump to my throat. And nice to see skerrick getting a rare run-out.

  24. 24
    North Bank Ned says:

    Dr F@17: Thanks for the link. Muller sums up well the way we played this season. I did wonder how much the right-sidedness was deliberate and how much it was forced by the injuries/loss of form suffered by Martinelli, Jesus and Zinchenko’s many absences and Timber’s long one. Saka’s resilience to being kicked from pillar to post all season was a blessing in the circumstances. Against Everton, when he couldn’t play, the right-sidedness wasn’t as effective as it had been all season, and we huffed and puffed a bit. Trossard, too, who scored goals coming in from the left to meet balls cut back from the right, was also a lot quieter.

  25. 25
    North Bank Ned says:

    The other question about the right-sidedness is whether it was a critical piece of making Havertz’s role work.

  26. 26
    bt8 says:

    German saloon car? Sounds comfortable and reliable indeed, but I thought the Countrymen would be tooling around in something that’s a bit more name-related, like this: https://www.mini.co.uk/en_GB/home/range/new-mini-countryman.html

  27. 27
    North Bank Ned says:

    I would have pegged C100 as a classic Austin Cambridge man.


  28. 28
    Countryman100 says:

    I wouldn’t fancy driving back from Liverpool to Cambridge in that at 20.30pm on a wet Tuesday night Ned. I’ll stick to the Merc thank you.

  29. 29
    TTG says:

    That very nice picture at the Etihad contained one surprise for me. There is still a Gooner with Ozil on the back of his shirt ! He must either like that particular version or be a little disinclined to part with hard earned to replace it with a more recent kit. I can understand Bergkamp or Henry but did Ozil ever do enough to be held in that sort of respect several years after departure ….and in acrimonious circumstances?

  30. 30
  31. 31
    OsakaMatt says:

    Well to answer your possibly rhetorical question TTG……..Ozil will never be remembered in the same way as TH or God of course but he was one of the best players I have ever seen play for The Arsenal.

  32. 32
    ClockEndRider says:

    I remember being so excited at learning that he was coming and amazed that Madrid were letting him go. Peak Ozil was a fabulous Rolls Royce of a player. A throwback to the days of Brady and Hoddle (sorry for the bad language), in that effortless, languid style. Unfortunately the game was beginning to change to one in which what a player does off the ball is just important as what he does on it. Combine that with the fact that Arsene had lost his touch, we couldn’t compete with certain more monied clubs for some reason(!) and we weren’t able to put out a competitive squad in the league and his appeal simply faded, as did his interest and effort. The former no doubt not unlinked to the latter two qualities. A huge shame but frankly by the end he was a disgrace, as evidenced by his subsequent performance and binning at more than one Turkish club.

  33. 33
    OsakaMatt says:

    Talking of washed up in Turkey, Maureen is in negotiations with Fenerbahce.
    I was going to say it’s better to retire with dignity but it’s Maureen so retire
    without dignity after parking the last bus

  34. 34
    TTG says:

    You’ve summed up Ozil perfectly. He became extremely political in the end ( trying to discredit the club by paying Gunnersaurus’s wages and refusing to take a Covid pay cut ). One night just after Christmas we played Bournemouth. I think we won 2-0 in a canter but Ozil was sublime, as he was when we beat Leicester 3-1 a few years later under Emery. But he has no place in my heart. Tell me one supporter who’d prefer him to Santi Cazorla . I don’t think they exist .
    Finally Here is Mike McDonald’s end of season review – long read

    Football Love: an end of season love letter to the Class of ‘23/‘24 (Positives Needs & Hopes)

  35. 35
    bt8 says:

    🤣 to OM @33. Mourinho never had any dignity to lose but if he parks enough buses in Turkey he might stand a chance of getting a job in Azerbaijan next.

  36. 36
    Brendan says:

    Hello goonerholic forever cba’s son here
    I’ve messaged here before a few times . I just want to thank you for another season of just brilliant work
    Every post is still read by most of our lot all Gooners all over the place

    Thanks and here’s to David Faber

  37. 37
    OsakaMatt says:

    @34 thanks for the link TTG, as usual plenty to think about from Mike.

    Not sure I can agree his assertion that MA is ‘by far the best manager Arsenal have been blessed to have’. That would be since Don Howe anyway as Mike is a young 50. But each to their own of course and much like our own TTG’s fine review there is plenty to agree with and ponder over.

    He does reference AW’s offside rule and talk about ‘if it is implemented’ – I hadn’t thought there was any chance of it being implemented. Unless any of my fellow Holics have heard differently?

  38. 38
    OsakaMatt says:

    @35 bt8 And never come Baku. The first job for Maureen will be to sell us his versatile full back apparently – Kadioglu (from memory). Ironic if Fenerbahce pay for Maureen’s new contract by selling us a defender.

  39. 39
    bt8 says:

    Seeing as Dani Carvajal scored the winner today in the European Cup final, and in the process won his sixth such trophy along with the likes of Tony Kroos and some bloke called Nacho, maybe we got the wrong Dani on loan from Real Madrid. The positives on the other hand are that they both must eat paella and drink Estrella. Sorry for the random thoughts but c100 is the one who first mentioned Dani Ceballos 🤪

  40. 40
    Bathgooner says:

    It was rather disappointing that Dortmund failed to finish any of the good chances they created early in that game last night and as time wore on it increasingly looked like that same old script of a late winner for Generalissimo Franco’s club. As it transpired Dortmund gifted them a second that they really didn’t deserve. At least Real knocked out the despicable C115y but if ever there was a model for a potentate wishing to create a football club for whom the odds of winning domestic trophies are stacked heavily in their favour that shower is their perfect blueprint.

  41. 41
    Countryman100 says:

    I know Eddie has had a poor season. Did we sell Balogun (for €30m) to Monaco too cheap and should we have kept him?

    Well. Just seven goals in 29 appearances for Monaco in Ligue 1 for Folarin Balogun last season. Completed 90 minutes just five times.

    I’d say we got very good money for him and sold him at the peak of his value.

  42. 42
    OsakaMatt says:

    Looking that way at the moment on Balogun I think. Course he’s young so who knows. I’d certainly never have expected Malen to play in a CL final when we sold him, though it was a bit of a fluke that Dortmund made it.

  43. 43
    Sancho Panza says:

    Dortmund’s Adeyemi looked really poor last night. Anyone half decent would have had at least two first half goals. Hope we never get linked with him on that showing.

  44. 44
    North Bank Ned says:

    Balogun’s goal scoring was about the worst aspect of his performances last season, but the stats on his all-round forward play weren’t too bad in a team that finished as runner-up to PSG. As OM says, he is still young (22). Time is on his side. I would expect Balogun to mature into a good, if not great, striker. I doubt he would have played more than Eddie last season had he stayed with us, and strikers need game time to progress. I also doubt that Arteta would have sold him if he saw the potential to reach the level of striker that we are now trying to buy. We made a sensible sale at a decent price at the right time. We’ll be saying the same about Eddie at the end of the summer, I suspect. He, too, will go on to be a very good, if not elite, striker. But to pick up on a point in Mike McDonald’s season review that TTG links to above, elite is the level at which Arteta now expects his players to operate.

  45. 45
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Ned@43: I suspect Flo’s attitude of “play me or else” — which he didn’t shy away from expressing publicly—didn’t go down well with Mikel either. If he were willing to stay a bit more humble and fight for his place in the squad and play the roles Arteta wants a player to play he could have eventually grown in the team. Just purely conjectures but evidently he has a higher ceiling than Eddie.

    About Özil, the beginning of his end of good relationship with the club and the fanbase was when he signed his final contract extension that the club at that time was desperate for him to sign with Alexis already leaving. It was as much a mistake from the club as it was from him, but in those chaotic days there were loads of mistakes made by the club, induced by a combination of panic and one suspects worse from some executive leaders who are thankfully no longer in the club. It is notable that Mikel started Mesut in first 10 matches or so, and I think that experience made it abundantly clear to the two ex-teammates that Mesut is no longer capable of the demands set by Arteta. And it created a clear example of high demands Mikel sets on his players, and the loyalty to his vision he expects the players to have.

    Özil’s late career deterioration unfortunately left such a prominent bad taste that our memories of him are overwhelmingly weighted towards those days, and a bit forgetful not only about how extraordinary a player he was at his best, but how much most of us originally loved him. In the original blog there were comments from most of us fiercely defending him against one or two posters who would criticize him etc. I admit that I like to remember his halcyon days more and all his moments of genius. And the arc of my own personal and cultural history also makes me more sympathetic towards his unfortunate scapegoating by his national media after the 2018 WC where he was one of the very few German players to have played well enough. From being five times winner of Germany’s “playet of the year” to suddenly being questioned about his commitment to the national team was at best unfair, and at worst demonstrated one of the worst aspects of human nature. I also understand that I am probably among the minority here, which is fine. 🙂

    One of my absolute favorite players for us has been Rosický, even though a significant part of his ten odd years with us was spent injured. The thing that was most striking about Tomáš was that he had this uncanny ability to speed things up, make everyone around him play a bit better, and bring a kind of intensity and focus to the team’s performance. It didn’t matter whether he was combining with other technically excellent players like Cesc or Santi, or whether he was conducting a midfield of more one-dimensional and limited players. Ødegaard — a wonderful player who is going to become one of the greats — has that ability, in addition to all of his other qualities. At the end of the day, football is a team sport, and technically superior players who transmit a natural leadership that uplifts the team would always find a dearer place in the heart of the supporters than enigmatic geniuses capable of both extremes.

  46. 46
    Sancho Panza says:

    Super super Kev
    Super Super Kev
    Super Super Kev
    Super Kevin Campbell.

    Get well Super Kev!

  47. 47
    TTG says:

    RIP Rob Burrow – a wonderful and very brave man.
    I went to the Grand Final twice as a guest of the sponsors and took my friend who is an aficionado of the game and Hull KR fan to explain the finer points of the game to me . We stayed in the Leeds’ team hotel and on the morning of the match he pointed out Rob Burrow to me . I couldn’t believe someone so small was a star player but later that day I saw him at his very best – he had real star quality .
    MND is a brutal disease and his campaign, so wonderfully aided by his old team-mate Kevin Sinfield has upped the profile of the illness and raised much needed funds for research which we hope will have a huge impact in successful future treatment
    🙏 Rest in peace little man

  48. 48
    OsakaMatt says:

    Was sorry to learn of Kevin Campbell’s problems and like SP @45 hope he will have better days soon.

  49. 49
    OsakaMatt says:

    @44 very fair post Dr F. I suspect you are not among a minority here in supporting Ozil after the 2018 World Cup. A state TV company (ARD) recently sent out a survey asking if respondents would like to see more players with white skin in the team. 21% said yes.
    Now it’s good that 79% didn’t, but 21% is still a significant amount in a country of Germany’s size.

    I remember many here, myself included, expressing support for Ozil and the letter he wrote after the World Cup. Obviously it ended badly with the German national team as it did with us, messy divorces both but as Dr F says better to remember the good days.

    I did disagree on one thing – the bad contract decision (hindsight) was totally down to the club not Ozil. We caved and that rarely works out well.

  50. 50
    ecg says:

    Sends a cross into the box.

  51. 51
    ecg says:

    Boom! Self assist for the half ton!

  52. 52
    Ollie says:

    Well in ecg, impressive cross and run to get to the end of it.

    Cricket goodness to celebrate: https://www.bbc.com/sport/cricket/articles/cqeemey9djzo

  53. 53
    Bathgooner says:

    A good discussion on Balogun above and, I think a fair conclusion. I think we now know that Mikel will not tolerate an unhappy or disruptive element in his squad and Balogun sealed his fate when there was discussion whether he or the more clubbable Nketiah were in contention for the back-up spot a year ago. He may come good but his demands were not those of an auspicious future at the Arsenal.

    Dr F @44, I think you are in the majority in this forum both in your contempt for the German scapegoating of Özil after their WC collapse and your preference to focus on his halcyon early period rather than his unseemly final years. I suspect there is universal agreement for your observations on TR7.

    Well observed SP @45, KC was a good player and an even finer human being. Thoughts with him in his fight against renal failure.

    TTG @46, I know nothing of Rob Burrow but MND is a dreadful disease and I am sure he has had a merciful release from its grip. RIP, RB.

  54. 54
    ClockEndRider says:

    Interestingly includes 3 goalkeepers, with Hein noted as having his contract expiring at month end byut awaiting resolution. Add in the expectation of Ramsdale leaving and it looks like significant upheaval in that department alone.

  55. 55
    ClockEndRider says:

    Update: Miscalculation. It is 4 keepers being released, plus Hein to be resolved and potentially Ramsdale to leave – Ejeheri, Arthur Okonkwo, Hillson, Gracyk. Hardly a vote of confidence in the scouting/coaching of keepers when the entire complement of keepers on the Academy webpage is released at the same time, as well as 2/3 of the first team roster, potentially.

  56. 56
    ClockEndRider says:

    Of the others, 4 were out on loan at the end of the season past.

  57. 57
    ClockEndRider says:

    Looks like making space and a pathway for some of the younger players to come through from the youth e.g. Obi, Dowman, perhaps.
    Add in that I guess we’re likely to lose Patino – current value on TransferMarkt £9m – who hasn’t pulled up too many trees at Swansea where made half the starts and totalled around half the pitch minutes he had the previous season at Blackpool, Tavares (£15M in TransferMarkt), Lokonga (£15m TransferMarkt), and possibly Marquinhos, as well as first team departures potentially for Tierney, Partey, ESR, Vieira, Nelson, and Eddie, and there is a lot of headroom for players to move up/in, potentially.

  58. 58
    Countryman100 says:

    22 players leaving Arsenal

  59. 59
    OsakaMatt says:

    Hopefully many of them have / will find a new club. I’m sure the Arsenal connection will help for some, though Viv Miedema from the Arsenal Women will walk straight into a high level team. Best of luck to them all!

  60. 60
    OsakaMatt says:

    Was Mo the longest serving player? Must be the last of them who played in a team with MA.

    I suppose one of the Academy lads must be longest serving now. Unless it’s KT3?

  61. 61
    OsakaMatt says:

    I hope we get 15m each for Sambi and Nuno

  62. 62
    Sancho Panza says:

    15m for both is probably pushing it.

  63. 63
    North Bank Ned says:

    Good luck to all those departing at the end of their contracts, especially the ever-smiling Mo. There are plenty among the youngsters for whom high hopes were once held. Breaking through to the first-team squad gets harder and harder.

  64. 64
    TTG says:

    I’d be interested in the economics of the Academy . The high turnover is something that always happens and lower down clubs dispense with their whole intake in some years .
    My grandson was in the lower age group Academy at Brighton and was released together with all of his mates at the end of one season a few years ago .
    I know Chelsea and C115y have focused on getting fees to offset the costs of nurturing lads who don’t make it.
    Obviously selling one Patino might keep the Academy going for a year but it would be interesting to know how it all works . It looks a very serious overhead but by the same token it is inconceivable to me that we wouldn’t want to develop our own players. The joy of producing a Saka or Smith Rowe has a huge positive effect on the whole club . I’d really like it if we could continue a pipeline to the first team with players like Norton- Cuffy or Cozier-Duberry coming through . It’s sad when a Reuell Walters has to leave without ever kicking a ball for the first team. But the bar gets higher for these boys year on year

  65. 65
    ecg says:

    TTG @63, I have also wondered about the finances of the Academy, and your example of Patino is probably a good one. But I think there is also the other side of not having to pay 100 mil transfer fee for a Saka.

    RE: ESR, I think he is going to have to make a decision if he wants to be a regular starter or not. Unless there is major injury, he is going to be playing Cup matches, maybe occasional starts against the likes of Sheffield United, but mostly as a sub. If he stays healthy, he could probably be a regular in most of the teams out of the top 5.

  66. 66
    North Bank Ned says:

    I know nothing about the source but this suggests a base annual budget for a Category 1 club’s Academy is £3.5 million. That strikes me as low, but maybe Academies don’t have to account for some services and facilities from the parent club.

    How do you assess the value of an Academy?

    More reliably, Swiss Ramble says that City has sold 17 Academy-raised players over the past three seasons for £171 million. Only three had made a first-team appearance.

  67. 67
    North Bank Ned says:

    I know nothing about the source but this suggests a base annual budget for a Category 1 club’s Academy is £3.5 million. That strikes me as low, but maybe Academies don’t have to account for some services and facilities from the parent club.

    How do you assess the value of an Academy?

    More reliably, Swiss Ramble says that City has sold 17 Academy-raised players over the past three seasons for £171 million. Only three had made a first-team appearance.

  68. 68
    TTG says:

    Thankyou for that interesting article, although it raised more questions to me than it provided answers. From a practical point of view if you have TAA and replace him by Conor Bradley who we think is on £500 k a year , you must still pay TAA so Bradley’s salary is an incremental cost. You only gain if you sell TAA for £100m and replace him with Bradley , ie Bradley replaces not supplements tge first team player
    I would estimate that an academy squad earns around £10 million a year and coaching staff etc another £4.5 million. Overheads like travel, subsistence, insurance would add another million and you are getting very little in the way of gate revenue . At Anfield recently I saw the range of food the apprentices and young professionals get and it was very diverse and impressive .
    Looking at Arsenal like most clubs, we tend to cut our losses on young players without any first team experience and rarely generate a transfer fee. The last sales we made of homegrown players for cash were Martinez, Willock and Balogun. That probably brought in close to £70 million which is rich pickings and has PS& R benefits so I think I have persuaded myself that if you achieve one large homegrown sale every other year the Academy makes economic sense on top of its cultural benefits . As we have ESR, Nelson, Nketiah and Patino likely to generate close to £80 m it will be very helpful in bolstering our finances . I do hope we can see homegrown players coming through in the next few years as it provides huge interest for the fans .

  69. 69
    North Bank Ned says:

    Perhaps the techies could kindly do a little clean up in Aisle 66 as, on an iPhone, the double posting is screwing up TTG’s @67.

    TTG@67: I agree that that analysis was largely fact-free, or at least not written by someone who knew their way around financial statements. Your numbers seem as reasonable a guess as any. Plus, spending on an Academy is allowable against the PL’s PSR, so it would make sense to give it a proper P&L, especially for elite clubs who are following a develop-to-sell model.

    That will become the norm for elite clubs so we (fans) will have to change our thinking about all these youngsters coming through. It will only be the generational talents that we keep, and they will be rare. It will also require the clubs to pay a lot more attention to the acquiring and selling of Academy players. If there is a limited pathway to the first team and a young lad is likely just to be jettisoned to League One or Two or a non-big Five European league at the end of his Academy days, he is going to think hard about which club to join.

    It will also make the multi-club model more salient. It would provide development opportunities in senior football for players that they can’t get from U-21 football and perhaps be a better way for talents like Patino to be nurtured still within the extended family, but also to show whether or not they have what it takes to make it at the mothership.

  70. 70
    OsakaMatt says:

    On my iPad I can’t see @66 or @67;
    @66 is the double posting Ned mentioned I assume

    Anyway, some good points about the Academy.
    Having The Arsenal on your CV will always be useful for
    a young lad wanting a career in football even if the chances
    of making the first team are slim.

    I am sure that most of the
    players we have now were at an academy of some kind, somewhere
    in the world. As long as that system continues I think it doesn’t
    really matter where the first team squad come from, I would just
    like us to provide a good rounded education to the young people
    under our care and they end up where they end up through
    their own effort and ability.

    Hmmm, I am not sure a CFO would consider my attitude to be
    financially responsible 😂😂

  71. 71
    OsakaMatt says:

    I just read Laca is in Henry’s squad for the Olympics. That’s good for Laca and I hope he and TH14 get a nice shiny gold medal.

  72. 72
    TTG says:

    Some very good points made . I personally don’t like the multi- club model very much but it makes perfect sense for the reasons you describe. I think it throws up conflicts of interests and situations like the Nice/ United Europa problem. If I had a very talented 15 year-old son at present ( as far as I know I haven’t) I would have to weigh up club loyalty (huge), opportunity to progress, coaching quality and the speed and clarity of the pathway to first-team football. I’m really not sure Arsenal would be the optimal choice given the quality of our current squad . Clubs like Palace , Southampton , Tottnumb ( joking) , Ipswich or Leicester might be the best first step.
    Palace also do extremely well in mining the Championship through Doogie Freedman . They have Olise, Eze and Wharton ( this lad is exactly what we need )and Guehi all acquired from the Championship or in Guehi’s case someone who had been on loan in the Chsmpionship for two years . The path to the first team is accessible .They rarely find a gem further afield .
    Finally I understand we may not be able to trigger Sesko’s release clause because of the expiry date owing to PSR rules . We’d like to do the deal after July1st but the price would be much higher . The only solution might be to sell a player or two, before July 1st or possibly to defer the purchase of Raya ( if we can ) . PSR limitations are causing a big shift in the timing of deals

  73. 73
  74. 74
  75. 75
    ecg says:

    TTG@71, I just read that Eze started in the Arsenal Academy. We let him go when he was 13.

  76. 76
    ClockEndRider says:

    And subsequently by Fulham, Reading and Millwall in the following 5 years.

  77. 77
    Ollie says:

    Cheers for that, C100.

  78. 78
    TTG says:

    I’ve been discussing this development elsewhere with some Gooners and I had lunch with two old friends one of whom has sadly gone blind and has had to rely on radio to try to understand this issue .
    From what he said TalkShite have no real understanding of what the issues in relation to legal sponsorship are . Quelle Surprise !
    And then there was this development. It looks like a desperate legal ploy ( panic by Pannick?) It seems intended to clog up the PL’s legal machinery so they can’t prepare for the hearing in September . But can C115y claim they haven’t broken any sponsorship rules and then rail against the unfairness of them .
    I suspect that in an election period the public reaction to a ploy to make it harder for anyone to compete with C115y financially will be negative because it’s not a populist move and he is taking on a lot of other club owners who will vehemently oppose their stance

  79. 79
    OsakaMatt says:

    C115y playing the victim card and railing against the tyranny of the majority is just absurd.
    Perhaps they prefer their own perfectly sized tyranny.

  80. 80
    Goonersince54 says:

    Re my ” Away days with my Dad ” post @18
    I’ve been AWOL for a few days, and just wanted to say a belated thanks to
    Matt @19
    C100 @21
    TTG @22
    and Ned @23
    for your kind responses, very much appreciated.
    One point I didn’t mention, is that Dad didn’t realize that my youngest sister became very resentful of our away day trips, and as an act of defiance, decided to support the neighbors in white down the road.
    And still does to this day.
    And yes, sadly she was one of those who wanted them to lose against City, to deny us the joy of the Title win.
    Very sad.

  81. 81
    Bathgooner says:

    C115y’s lawsuit is effectively an admission of guilt to the 115 charges. What innocent law-abiding citizen, when charged with a offence, rather than swiftly proving their innocence, sues the authorities over the laws of the land? Furthermore, the PL is a private members club with rules governing entry qualifications and conduct within its sphere of authority. Provided their rules comply with the laws of the land and their articles of association, their authority over their members can, I understand, trump normal business practice. Any member of such an association may be free to leave at any point they wish to do so.

    C115y should pick up their ball and walk, join the Saudi league, if they’ll have them, take Newcastle and PSG with them and restore the PL and Ligue 1 to competitive sport again.

  82. 82
    Trev says:

    Clive, sorry I forgot to comment on your piece re your away days, but I did read and enjoy it, as I do all your posts. I’ve been a bit preoccupied with work and appointments for my own upcoming surgery but there are some great discussions above on a number of issues.

    I agree with Dr F about Özil too. He worked a lot harder than many gave him credit for in his “ first” period with us, quite apart from being a special player who struck up a terrific understanding with Alexis. Re his “lazy” period, it’s well known he was extremely upset and demotivated by his scapegoating after Germany’s World Cup failure. I also heard that there were some internal political issues that played a part in his decline too. Reportedly, the club was about to open a significant new operation in China but the Chinese were not best pleased by Özil’s criticism of their treatment of the Uyghur Muslims and demanded that Mesut was left out of the team. From memory, he was not even included in our European squad at the time which smacks of some sort of funny business to me….?

  83. 83
    Trev says:

    For what it’s worth, my hastily gathered thoughts on C115y’s “assault on the Premier League”, which seem to be a less elegantly expressed version of Bath’s own.

    C115y signed up to the rules, broke them for a decade and got away with it as they cheated their way to title after title. When caught out they then try to claim that the very rules they have broken were not fair – so why did they sign up to them in the first place.
    I hope they lose their case, get relegated and then fuck off in a fit of pique to set up a separate “super league” with all the other state run oil clubs and any other scum bags who want to join them, leaving the east of us to get back to some fair competitive football.

  84. 84
    North Bank Ned says:

    If City prevails in its lawsuit over the PL’s associated party transaction rules, then the most damning part of the 115 charges against it, the books-cooking part, collapses. It is simply legal tactics and high-powered lawyers being high-powered lawyers.

  85. 85
    Countryman100 says:

    Arseblog on City’s new legal case

    115 and now this …

  86. 86
    Pangloss says:

    I simply can’t construe this article in the Grauniad. We seem truly to have entered a looking glass world, or maybe one presaged by George Orwell. Remember “weakness is strength; confusion is clarity; stupidity is genius”. Go figure.


  87. 87
    TTG says:

    PG @85
    It seems( as you suggest ) bizarre in the extreme to talk about a drop in the competitive ness of the Premier League when the winning margin between two top sides was two points after 38 matches last season . Two more West Ham goals and the title was ours .
    This is a ghastly and cynical exercise and most people who understand football recognise it for exactly what it is . As Arseblog says he has never respected the C115y project and nor have most ( almost any) football fans . Football clubs build up a culture and identity over time , often in adversity , often because of adversity , that makes them not only precious to their supporters but to the fabric of the game . But don’t include the plastic monument to greed and selfishness that is C115y. They are about as appalling an example of all that is wrong with modern sport as exists anywhere in the world .
    I have two friends , both very senior businessmen, who support them and supported them well before they sold their soul to oil money.
    Neither can look me in the eye and neither can begin to justify what City have become . They are ( I think) secretly ashamed of their club. Nobody will respect their achievements because they have gone about accomplishing them in such a crass and artificial way. I desperately hope they don’t succeed in neutering the league but if they do I do not want my club to be part of it any more . I would rather we played in a proper environment against real clubs with real values. C115y don’t have a clue what they are .
    Mubarak says he is ‘ frustrated ‘ by the lack of credit given to their achievements . Well carry on being frustrated and much worse mate, what you have done has turned all right thinking football fans permanently against you . You’re frustrated, we are disgusted .

  88. 88
    North Bank Ned says:

    Once, it was a local businessman who bankrolled a club, then oligarchs, now nation-states with the sums getting bigger and more systematically spent with each step. So there is previous, not that that makes it any more palatable.

  89. 89
  90. 90
    TTG says:

    It is so good but oh so depressing .It is brilliantl6 written, well conceived and on the money. The one issue that may occur is tgat all the other teams refuse to play in the same league as City- tonight we learn that it isC114y, Chelsea, Newcastle and Villa v the rest . That rest includes us, United, Liverpool,our friendly neighbours and West Ham. And tge whole EFL will be supporting the PremierLeague because they were promised £900 m.
    Basically if C115y win next week they can do what they like and will. But if they lose they will revive the ESL concept and may take those three teams with them. Good riddance .
    Ronay’s message that the Leagues due diligence was weak is correct but is there a bleaker message that football is doomed whatever way it turns ?It’s starting to look that way

  91. 91
    Goonersince54 says:

    For those in the bar that may be interested ,
    There is an in depth profile article in the Guardian by Ben McAleer on the young Leipzig striker Sesko, that TTG and a few others have mentioned, as a possible striker signing.
    He certainly seems to fit the Arteta blueprint of age and technical qualities.
    I’m sure someone can post it in the bar for discussion.

  92. 92
    OsakaMatt says:


    As requested…….
    He looks ok to me but obviously a gamble if it’s based half a season’s good form.

  93. 93
    OsakaMatt says:

    The Athletic has printed several articles about 115ty recently and I think from the comments sections that there is a clear hardening in the attitudes of the average fan now.
    More and more seem to support simply booting 115ty out completely.

  94. 94
    scruzgooner says:

    c1000 and jr., thanks for a great post. i always enjoy your post-game comments in the comments, and in the times you write them into full posts are joyous. i look forward to more of them in the coming years!

  95. 95
    scruzgooner says: