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  1. Arteta the rookie. I couldn’t find any rookie managers among the Premier League managers last season, except Arteta. It is a risk no-one seems to want to take. Particularly someone who comes from outside as Arteta did. Yes, he had Arsenal DNA but often the only way a rookie gets a chance is if they are at the club as a player or coach and they try them as interim managers. That rarely works out, though. Liverpool being an exception as Bob Paisley, their most successful manager, was appointed when Bill Shankly resigned and Paisley was first-team coach. They also employed Kenny Dalglish as player-manager who did very well, and Roy Evans who did ok. Would you hire this young boy? But, in general, top teams don’t appoint rookies. Arsenal, in the past, had great success with rookies, George Allison, Bertie Mee, and Tom Whittaker spring to mind but Pat Rice and Freddie Ljungberg are examples of promoting from within that didn’t work out. It is an enormous risk that owners don’t wish to contemplate. The Kroenkes were key Arteta essentially took over from Unai Emery who failed to win over the fans. But for sure he was a top manager and continues to prove that. His weakness seems to be also Arteta’s, dealing with egotistical superstars, but it seems most likely that if he had been given his chance, he would have turned things around, probably by getting rid of the big egos. Stan and Josh - the dynamic duo? But I feel it was the Kroenkes who made the difference. When Arteta came for his first interview, it seems he impressed them, and they felt they could work with him to create something special. But even they couldn’t stretch to a rookie. They weren’t popular at Arsenal and Emery was a proven candidate. I believe they had this nagging feeling that they had got it wrong, this young man with the ideas, the knowledge, the Arsenal DNA, and above all the feeling that this was the guy, which made them feel like I sometimes have when I bought something expensive – I bought the wrong brand or model. So Emery’s collapse to Chelsea in the Europa League final gave them a chance to correct their mistake and bring in Arteta, their man. A big mess at other teams I have had misgivings over the Kroenkes but I think I was wrong. They know sport, and they know big business as it relates to sport, something that most big businessmen don’t. Look at the current mess at Chelsea, Man Utd and Everton, all with lots of trophies in their showrooms. The Kroenkes have been loyal to Arteta and have provided him with what he needs to bring the club back to the top. Josh seems to be there most of the time and from everything I know, he trusts Arteta’s decisions. Farhad Moshiri didn't have a clue at Everton Getting rid of our captain and superstar Aubameyang and moving on Ozil were hard calls and yes, exposed a weakness in Arteta. Ozil, in particular, was not known to be difficult to deal with. But it allowed Arteta to do things his way, with young players ready to listen and improve. The seasoned pros brought in since have not been a problem. Jorginho, Havertz, Trossard, Raya, Rice and others have bought into the Arteta way and the camp seems happy. The plan is working Of course, now, one cannot really refer to Arteta as a rookie. He has garnered a respect throughout football as a top manager which means even top pros will listen to him. Two tight second place finishes in a row against the behemoths of Man City, plus a quarterfinal in the Champions League means he has proven himself. There are only a small handful of jobs in football bigger than Arsenal so he has shot himself to the top at a top club in his first attempt. It has been a bumpy ride so far, with periods of Arteta out ringing around the Emirates, even this season. But the Kroenkes have always remained steadfast. They have a plan and Arteta is a huge part of that plan. I believe that they are using their knowledge to help by bringing in the right people, and keeping Arteta at the club is crucial to their plan. Roman Abramovich didn't like Mourinho's bus driving skills The most successful owner in recent times has been Roman Abramovich but he let Mourinho go when surely what he should have done is create a dynasty with him that could have lasted a long time. Abramovich’s problem was that he didn’t like Mourinho’s football. Parking the bus annoyed him. At all costs, win? This does not seem to be a problem at Arsenal. The football is exciting, swift, and full of deft touches. Progress keeps getting made. However, Arsenal do need to make the next step. Win things. Arteta has grown as a manager and the players have grown as players. Honestly, how many Arsenal fans would swop any of the present team for someone else? And yet, new players will be brought in. The challenge is to get them to fit in quickly and to be sure they are better than what we have. City do it every season and make that aspect look easy. It isn’t. Arteta will be expected to do it. And Edu and the Kroenkes will play a massive part in identifying and being willing to pay for these players. Klopp was burnt out? Win we must, though. Klopp did not win that many trophies at Liverpool but enough to cement his legend as he chased a Man City whose resources seem endless. Now it is Arteta’s turn and he must at least equal Klopp. One league title and one Champions League were his highlights but it seems like Klopp burned himself out in that chase. The Kroenkes know what they are doing? This is where the Kroenkes can really make a difference. Support Arteta as he takes on Goliath. Take away any burdens they can. Honestly, if Arteta does burn out like Klopp, then who is out there? Not many candidates when one club is hoovering up all the trophies. The Kroenkes took on a rookie manager. If it had gone wrong, I am not sure they would have survived. But they got it right. The rookie manager lost the support of some top players. They got that right when they supported him. The rookie manager had many fans screaming Arteta out. They got that right when they said, no, he is in. The pundits were shrieking that Arsenal were bottlers, doing a Totteringham at the finish, but beating the Spuds and Man Utd away and Chelsea at home on the way to winning the last six matches shows that the Kroenkes got that right as well. Gary Neville - Arsenal are bottlers The Kroenke’s got it right in choosing a rookie, something that no top English side has done for a long time, particularly as they were unpopular, and they could have gone for a top name, a Conte or a Mourinho. Maybe it is time to revise our opinion of our Americans. Maybe they do know a little about running a football club after all. Recognising talent is surely a great asset? And recognising unproven talent has proven even better. I hope, but also believe, that great days are coming.
  2. The real top six? In every full decade since I became an Arsenal supporter Arsenal have won the league except 2010 to 2019. I came onboard in 1969 and in 1971 we won the famous double. In 1989 we won at Anfield on the last day. In the 90’s we had 1991 and 1998 and in the new millennium we had 2002 and 2004. Since then nothing. But I am very hopeful for this decade to correct this blight. Surely this is the best set of players since Arsene Wenger’s heyday? Martin Odegaard: Our Captain Supreme However, If we don’t start winning trophies again we could go out of the top three English teams as Man City and Chelsea are coming up behind us. In this table of most successful English teams here 15 most successful English clubs in football history by major trophies won (givemesport.com). They exclude certain trophies because of their limited reach such as the Charity Shield and World Championships. Arsenal are 3rd with 30 trophies. Man City, if as expected, win the league and the FA cup will have 28. Chelsea are on 25. Surprisingly, Aston Villa are next on 20, but they will surely not catch us in my lifetime even if Unai Emery performs miracles. But, if we don’t start winning trophies soon, City will surely overhaul us, possibly by next year. Ian Wright right again Of course, City are facing charges going back to 2009 so they could lose all their modern trophies which means they go out of the top six and the Spuds come in. Arsenal drop down the top six? I will diverge for a moment to talk about the top two, Liverpool on 46 and Man Utd on 43. I cannot see them being caught possibly ever, although that top two could change positions quite easily. But we are the vulnerable ones. If Chelsea can get back to the Abramovich glory days they could also catch us in a few years. 18 of their major trophies have been won since 2000, an astonishing haul. We could go down to 5th place if we don’t start winning. Are there really more trophies in this team? And that is the real top six: Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea and Aston Villa. They include the final top four of this season 2023/24. Chelsea scrambled into 6th so 5 of the real top six are in the top six. City and Chelsea are the cuckoos, though. Incredible wealth and clever football policies have brought them a majority of the 21st century trophies. City, I should point out, have won 18 trophies over this time and possibly this month that will go up to 19. At least we can’t fall further What does it all mean for Arsenal and its support base if we go down to 5th? I should point out that 5th is our bottom position for a long time as Spurs are 7th on 17 trophies and Everton 8th on 15. They and Villa are not coming near us anytime soon. So we will remain 5th, if that happens and not lower. Still, it will have an impact on our standing in world football. And on our support. Can Emery hold Villa together? Chelsea and City fans are mostly new, young people attracted by the success and claiming bragging rights over the still current top three of Liverpool, Man Utd and Arsenal. Existing fans rarely change so the demographic changes over time if you don’t win. The current top three have probably lost some new support to the upstarts and if Liverpool go backwards after Klopp that will get worse. Who will make the top four next season? It is becoming hard to see where the contenders are going to come from next season. City and Arsenal look solid but the rest? Villa have imploded at the end but I guess Unai Emery will have them ready. There is no better expert at juggling European football so I would expect them to handle the Champions League well. But can they be contenders or even retain their Champions League spot? Man Utd look a shambles at the moment and they must move quickly to get back to the top to retain their position. To me, looking at their squad, they need too many new players to quickly turn things around. A new Slot machine or Poch marked Pensioners? With Liverpool it is almost impossible to say. It is rare for a new manager to take over from an iconic one and do well but Liverpool have form in this regard. Bill Shankly resigned and Bob Paisley took over to make Liverpool possibly the greatest English team of all time. But Arne Slot? Can he take the jump up in class and the huge pressure that comes with managing European royalty? We shall see but I would not be optimistic. I have a feeling that big personalities, which even Klopp struggled to keep in line, will prove too much for Slot. He will need a clearout like Arteta did but will he be given the chance? I doubt it. Somehow I see a short run for him. Howe can Eddie do it? Chelsea may improve but I am not convinced that Pochettino has really got the mojo he had at Spurs. They had a pretty good end to the season and without Champions League may be able to capitalise on the teams that have. Such a big squad means that handling the lesser European trophies is easier for him. Newcastle sell up and Spurs have Ange’st? Newcastle have also run into financial problems and may have to sell some players. Eddie Howe is good but his team have been very inconsistent. They need to improve a lot to contend and if Isak and Guimaraes goes it is hard to see how (forgive the pun). Spurs fans think Postecoglou is the crazy one Tottenham walked themselves into a lot of bother at the end. The supporters threw away a chance of Champions League just to do over the Arsenal causing Ange Postecoglou to have a meltdown. I cannot say this any stronger, every team is trying to get any little margin in their favour, from dark arts, improved training and diet, set piece setups, statistical analysis, mindgames, but crucially, getting the fans behind them to give that little extra push when they need a hard fought win. Is it possible that Son, normally so clinical in one on ones, as I understand it the best in the Premiership, was subconsciously thrown off by the vibe from the crowd to lose? It was certainly not consciously as Son is an excellent professional. There is now a rift and if such a superb manager as Postecoglou goes, whither Spurs? I think he will have offers. Can they get rid of Daniel Levy and get a chairman who wants to win? Doesn’t seem likely. And the winner is? Last year I tipped Villa to make the top four along with Arsenal, City and Man Utd. Utd fell apart but I didn’t do badly. Arsenal could have struggled with Champions League as Newcastle and Man Utd did. And so next season? It is hard to see beyond City and Arsenal again. I cannot see a team beyond the eight I have mentioned making top four and I feel that the next six will battle it out for the bottom two spots. I have absolutely no confidence in any choice but I am going to plump for Chelsea and Villa. We always are So, Arsenal, finally, then City, Chelsea and Villa. Regular readers know that my predictions have been good so far, getting many things right or at least close to right. However, this next season is very hard to call. So many teams have problems that anything can happen. But maybe we can capitalise on that. Good old Arsenal, we’re proud to say that name.
  3. We have one job now - Win Update to the Table of Doom Table of Doom Fixtures Current points Max Arsenal 80 89 Man City Spurs (a) 79 91 Liverpool’s implosion has seen them drop out of the Table of Doom, something I would not have seen as likely not too long ago when they were fighting like demons for their points. They were battling harder than anyone else and scrambling unlikely victories. Very recently they had their destiny in their own hands and threw it away. We, most likely, will not have our destiny in our own hands at all now. The best we can hope for is that City drop points which none of the pundits deem likely. Jurgen Klopp:I will never understand why he didn't wait till the end of the season to announce he was leaving What I know and what I don't And so Bournemouth, Man Utd and Everton are next. All winnable? Yes. Will it be good enough? I don’t know. Which is the hardest? I don’t know. Will City win all theirs? I don’t know. Will Tottenham take something from City? I don’t know. Are we all going to be Tottenham supporters for one day? I don’t know. The Spuds 1961 double winners beat Man City 1-0 at Maine Road -C'Mon you Spurs I can hear you saying, Gus, do you know anything? Why are you getting your huge salary if you know nothing? So I will concentrate for now, on what I do know. If City win all, there is nothing we can do. They must slip up. However, if they draw then we can win as our goal difference will probably be better than theirs if we win all. A seven goal turnaround in 3 matches is difficult allowing we have to improve by at least three which makes ten. I do know that you have to win by at least one goal. You see, I do know something. A nervous City? But I will give some good news. If, such a big if, Tottenham manage to get something from City it might just give them a wobble at exactly the right time as they face West Ham at home on the final day. City have lost 3 times away and only once at home. Tottenham may well be fighting for their Champions League spot and if they have a good day, something could happen. And that means that West Ham becomes a must win on the final day. A twitchy City could be a vulnerable City. Bournemouth are coming good at the wrong time for us So can we win our three? I have to give you the bad news that Bournemouth are on a very strong run with only 3 defeats since February by Aston Villa, Luton and Man City. They will feel that Europe is now possible. They are in form at the moment and we must kill them off ruthlessly. We do not need a hard game from them, and we know what they will do. Defend like demons and try to give Dominic Solanke the ball. We will need to be good for 90 minutes. No idiocy like David Raya as one goal may decide this game. No glory glory Man Utd? Man Utd? They will give us more chances I reckon but they also make chances every game. They have a tough looking last 4 games with a resurgent Palace away, us at home, Newcastle at home and Brighton away. They could end up with nothing from these games and they will be aware of that. 6th place is there for them if they win matches and they are running out of time. I have a feeling we may need a clean sheet for this one. Ten Hag will try to get them to defend and hope for a breakaway even though they are at home. They have players who can score from sudden breaks. This is one game where tactics can make a huge difference. We must hope that Arteta is the man here. They don't have Best, Law or Charlton Everton on the last day. The good news is that if we win the previous two, this match is live no matter what happens. If City win all they will be two points ahead but probably with an inferior goal difference which means if we win and they draw we are the champions, my friends. If, by any chance, City have already been beaten by Tottenham, then they will be one point behind us, and if they draw, we can get away with a draw. Of course we can never know that as a draw can turn into a win at the last kick of the match. If they get a draw in any of their matches they will be level with us on the last day but we should have a clear goal difference which means two draws gives us the title. Saliba and Gabriel vs Dominic Calvert-Lewin Is the glass half empty? The danger to assuming we will have a superior goal difference is that City could run up a hatful against Wolves and Fulham in their first 2 games to catch us up and we win by one against Bournemouth and Utd. The most optimistic scenario is that City suffer a bad run and hand us the title before we play Everton. It seems like absolutely nobody believes that can happen. I have been around football long enough to know that you cannot predict matches. If you could there would be no betting companies. City got beaten when they had the initiative against Real Madrid. And they badly wanted that two time in a row Champions League. Just like they badly want this four time in a row Premier League. We are Arsenal and we must show it One thing I do know for sure and that is no Gooner wants to hand Man City the title as Liverpool has. We did that last year, made it easy for them. We are now the last man standing in the Table of Doom. Liverpool cannot get 86 points and their next two are the Spuds at home and Villa away with both teams scrambling for the Champions League. They may not get many more points. I will never understand why Jurgen Klopp announced his retirement mid season. The way they were playing they could have won it this season. He has tarnished his legend. How did retaining that trophy work out for you City? At the start I asked many questions that I couldn’t answer. So now I will give you my opinion. We can win this league. I feel City will drop points but I reckon only in one match. So 2 or three. We must win three and I think we will. It will come down to this, and we must be ready. It is also that the only time City may drop points is on the last day against West Ham. We will only know that we must win in that scenario. Are we winners? Yes we are.
  4. Тази вечер е срещата реванш от турнира на Шампионската лига между съставите на Байерн и Арсенал. "Артилеристите" ще излязат на един от най-негостоприемните стадиони в света в мач срещу съдбата и залозите. Всъщност този път залозите са в полза на Арсенал, въпреки равенството от 2:2 в първата среща на английска земя, но съдбата и историята са нещото, с което хората на Микел Артета трябва да се преборят, ако желаят да запишат исторически успех и да елиминират Байерн. Опит, традиция, самочувтствие при германците срещу настървеност, амбиция и енергия, които са добавка към безспорната класа на Артилерията през този сезон. До момента имаме 6 гостувания в Мюнхен, като сме записали само една победа след онези попадения на Оливие Жиру и Лоран Косчелни през март 2013 година. Онзи мач е нашият първи в новия дом на Баварците, като първите ни визити са били на легендарния Олимпиящадион. Хората, които трябва да спрем, за да се поздравим с успех са Хари Кейн, който заедно със Стивън Джерърд е англичанина с най-много голове в един сезон (7) в Шампионската лига и Томас Мюлер, който може да запише мач номер 150 в турнира и да се изравни с Икер Касияс. Арсенал ще разчита на Букайо Сака, който счупи рекорд за англичанин с 4 гола и 4 асистенции, постигнати в дебютен сезон в надпреварата. Арсенал е победил в само едно от последните си 6 гостувания срещу немски отбори, това срещу Айнтрахт Франкфурт, докато Байерн само един път в 18 случая не успява да продължи след като в елиминации не допуска загуба в първата среща. Това се случва срещу Ливърпул през 2018/19. В този сблъсък Томас Тухел има възможност с 3-ти различен състав да се класира на полуфинал в турнира или пък Микел Артета ще го стори за първи път в кариерата си на мениджър. Предстои да разберем. Къде: Фусбал арена, Мюнхен. Кога: Сряда, 22:00 българско време Телевизия: Ring.bg Отсъстващи: Няма Под въпрос: Единствено Тимбър продължава да се възстановява след травма Наказани: Няма Думите на Артета преди мача: " Ние желаем едно представяне, което ще ни изведе на полуфинал в Шампионската лига. Цялата ни подготовка е в тази насока. Сега имаме невероятната възможност да постигнем нещо забележително. Това е нивото, което искаме, искаме да бъдем още по-добри, ще дадем всичко най-добро на което сме способни, опитвайки се да спечелим купите, за които се борим и да бъдем успешни. Ще бъде невероятно. Ако успеем, ще сме полуфиналисти, нещо, което не сме постигали като клуб през последните 15-17 години. Повечето от нашите играчи не са преживявали подобна вечер и това ще бъде първата им такава. Те са супер мотивирани, те са подготвени и уверени и това е нещо, което трябва да покажем срещу съперник, който има опит, но ние трябва да го направим. Искам отборът ми да бъде себе си, независимо от стадиона. Ние ще бъдем много ясни как ще играем, как искаме да играем и какво да направим за да спечелим.“ Силни вдъхновяващи думи, които вече са част от работата на Артета и заедно с приповдигнатото настроение, мотивацията и хъс са част от менталните оръжия, с които армията от Северен Лондон ще се постарае да подчини най-накрая Бавария. Срещу залозите и съдбата. Арсенал ще играе в зелено и тъмно синьо, а обичайно около 20 члена на "Арсенал България" ще запишат поредно силно футболно гостуване, за което след време ще се разказват легенди, от онея, за които винаги ти е приятно да се сещаш и го правиш с усмивка. Силно се надяваме и момчетата на Микел Артета да извървят поредната си стъпка по пътя да станат истински футболни мъже и ни донесат победа срещу един от най-могъщите клубове в света. Come On You Gunners!
  5. Where can we finish 2024? Last try Luton (H) Brighton (A) Villa (H) Wolves(A) Chelsea (H) Spuds (A) Bournemouth (H) Man Utd (A) Everton (H) And so now we are down to squeaky bum time. 9 matches to destiny. Luton, Wolves, Bournemouth and Everton are must wins. 12 points there will bring us to 77 and surely Champions League? It would still make a successful season. 5 matches are at home which should be an advantage and all teams are behind us in the table. In other words 9 wins and the title is ours. Logically it is possible. Against is that Arteta has stuttered every time at the end, and if he does so again it could be a fatal flaw that will stop us ever winning the league. This is how you do it, Mikel Title winners pick up speed at the end just like athletes do. I will stick to the 86 points as what is required so 21 is needed if I am right. Not going to be easy. That would be 22 over the final ten and a good improvement over his final ten matches so far. Arsene Wenger managed 22 or more ten times during his reign but only won the league three times. City need to come from behind but most people would still see them as favourites. We all know why. Liverpool keep digging out wins with every game a hard fought scrap. They are well capable of winning it. 5 tough matches All three teams have tough matches with Villa and Spurs desperate for Champions League playing all three. The matches that logically are the hardest for us are Brighton, Villa, Chelsea, Spuds and Man Utd. If we beat the other five as expected then we can drop 6 points over these which doesn’t give much room for error. 3 draws or 2 losses and we are in trouble. And, of course, Liverpool or City may drop very little. Lose this and it will be a tough battle to win the title I will be at Luton and I like them and their fabulous journey from nowhere to get here but a win is necessary. Ogbenie might just give them a goal but I fancy 3-1. Dani Georgiev joins us again as guest predictor and he goes 3-0 Points 68 A midlands nightmare? Brighton away and they have been somewhat tricky for us but this would be a great win. They have been very inconsistent this season and last season’s miracle worker, Evan Ferguson cannot score goals at the moment. There always seems to be goals in this match and I will go 3-2 to us. Dani sees 2-1 and we stay level. Points 71 Emery will make it hard for us Villa at home and Mr Emery will be plotting a good performance. He might just get it as it could be a 1-1 draw. Dani goes 1-0 to us so now it is Gus 72 points and Dani 74 points. Wolves away and let’s face it, we must win. They have moved up the table and may just feel that they can sneak a Europe place. I am going to say 1-0 to us but this one could easily be 2 bad midlands games in a row. Dani says 3-1so that leaves Gus 75 and Dani 77 Then more night terrors from London Chelsea at home and last time I said 1-1 and to be honest, you never know what Chelsea are going to do this season. If they are on top form and we are not at our best, they could win. But I will go an extra goal for us and 2-1 as I will be there. Dani continues in optimistic form and says 3-1 again. Gus 78 Dani 80 It could be bye bye, Poch The Spuds away and this game could be crucial. Postecoglou has them spinning when they are playing well but struggles to get them to do it for 90 minutes. I feel that a 2-2 draw will be the result as we can find it hard here. Dani says 1-1 and so we go Gus 79 Dani 81 Bournemouth at home and this one can have no excuses, win or forget about the title. They are racking up points and have no chance of relegation but they may have nothing to play for with three matches to go. An early goal could see them thinking of the beach and give us 3-0. Dani sees 4-0 and now Gus 82 Dani 84 and he sees us in sight of the mythical 86. Can the North give us victory? Man Utd away and Ten Hag could be doomed at this point. It would be best if he is still there but like a crippled dog. A new manager could give them a lift. However in such a strange season as this when so many teams are inconsistent this could be dangerous for us. I am going to go 2-2 and Dani 1-1. Gus 83 Dani 85 and it is the last game of the season and we haven’t managed 86. One game to go. And bye bye Ten Hag? Everton at home and they may well need the points to avoid relegation and not lose their proud record. But Sean Dyche may well have them safe and neither side may be playing for anything. We just don’t know if this is a crucial match or not. For sure if we must win to give us a shot at the title, I think we will be very nervous and that will make Sean Dyche very happy. Psychologically no matter what we need, a final win at home could be a booster, particularly if we have made it though to the Champions League final. I will say 1-0 and Dani a marvellous 5-1. I will have scraped the total and Dani exceeds it. Gus 86 Dani 88 and we celebrate like crazy. Celebration time? Of course we have the Champions League and Bayern to traverse but this Bayern team look a bit weaker than the teams who put us to the sword in the Wenger days. If we do it I expect City in the semi’s. I do feel that they are the strongest team left in it so a win there might put us up against PSG or Athletico as Simeone finds a way to win. It is winnable and it has been my long-term dream. Wembley is Arteta’s happy hunting ground and, if we get there, it could be the greatest night of our lives. Update to the Table of Doom Table of Doom Fixtures Current Max Liverpool Spurs (h) Villa (a) 67 94 Arsenal Villa (h) Spurs (a) 65 92 Man City Villa (h) Spurs (a) 64 91 Logically the Spuds and Villa have to win all these matches to jump back in to the challenge. I doubt it. I feel the top five is already written and the bottom 2 of them also. The question is the order. Sky would love a 3 way tie on the ultimate game which is Everton for us, Liverpool at home to Wolves and City at home to West Ham. All games that they are expected to win. If we need one or both of those to drop points on the last day, I feel we are in for a rough day. But miracles do happen. C’mon the Arse!
  6. Is 35 or even 30 the new 40? Key: The year, the teams and their final points total at 3rd from bottom, since the Premier League began. 1993 Palace 49 1994 Sheff Utd 42 1995 Norwich 43 1996 Man City 38 1997 Sunderland 40 1998 Bolton 40 1999 Charlton 36 2000 Wimbledon 33 2001 Man City 34 2002 Ipswich 36 2003 West Ham 42 2004 Leicester 33 2005 Palace 33 2006 Birmingham 34 2007 Sheff Utd 38 2008 Reading 36 2009 Newcastle 34 2010 Burnley 30 2011 Birmingham 39 2012 Bolton 36 2013 Wigan 36 2014 Norwich 33 2015 Hull 35 2016 Newcastle 37 2017 Hull 34 2018 Swansea 33 2019 Cardiff 34 2020 Bournemouth 34 2021 Fulham 28 2022 Burnley 35 2023 Leicester 34 One thing is certain from looking at the final 3rd place from bottom in the Premier League since it started is that 40 points is becoming a distant figure. The first 3 seasons had 22 teams and more matches but 40 wasn’t even a safe position. This season if Luton finish 3rd from bottom they may have less than 30 and we could be heading into an outlook where 30 is the new 40. The big teams have fixed the game so that they get more points and the lower ones must fight for scraps. It is looking like a record points haul for the top four this season. The mighty get more, the weak get less. Does this not give the lie to the oft quoted line as the “Most competitive league in the world”? Palace 1993 would have been dreaming of Europe all season now with 49 points Now I reckon that for Arsenal fans, sitting nicely on top of the league at the moment and due to stay there for a while as there are no leagues at the moment, and if we beat City on March 31st we will stay there even longer, that they give little thought to those teams on the bottom. Is this a fair approach? A drop in points and a drop in stature The big teams have huge squads, money to burn, and do everything they can to get any margin in their favour. The only reason they give any thought to the little teams is that they do grab a few points from the entitled monsters. They have worked steadily to make sure that even those few scraps from the master’s table are denied them. They have succeeded. Their points are dropping year on year. In football it's the other way round Does competitiveness matter? Is it ok that only 10 teams have ever qualified for the Champions League despite up to five being allowed to qualify? And a Leicester may never qualify again? In the nineties, despite Manchester United being mostly dominant, they usually won the league with far less points than are required now. Teams were taking points off each other from every section of the league. How do big teams make everything better for themselves? But now, draws are becoming rarer. The big teams beat the little ones and points are hoovered up. In the nineties, the teams had smaller squads and the first 11 could be easily named. Arteta is a bit of an exception as few players change except by necessity but it is hard to name the first choice 11 at most teams now. 5 subs is a ridiculous concession to the big teams as they have many players who could come on and force an opposing team, who are doing well, to change their tactics mid-game. Extremely talented players are bought up, leaving the talent pool lower down far scarcer than it used to be. Jean Marc Bosman changed football I declare that we need to go backwards to make a fairer league. Restrict squads and subs and stop allowing loans which were brought in to allow the clubs have huge squads. If players can’t get into their own team they would move on, allowing lower clubs to have them as it was forever in the past. It may surprise my younger readers but loans were only allowed as we know them since 1996 after the famous Bosman ruling in 1995. Players would move to a lower team for the sake of their career and often become a club legend as they got better as they got older. Players get paid to do nothing Of course, it still happens as we see with Cole Palmer but talent was spread better in the past and this new system of big teams scooping everything and fixing everything behind the scenes so they always get more and more advantage is actually bad for the sport. There are players who spend their days as a bit player to take a good salary and pick up trophies in which they played only a small part in achieving. I highlighted it at Arsenal here where up to 15 players should go if they are serious about their career but some won’t. Same as at all the big clubs. Sport should be about pushing yourself to achieve the highest you can, not sitting on a bench counting your money. Current 3rd from bottom Luton could go down with less than 30 points It seems like 30 is the new 40 and soon it will be twenty is the new 40, and then what, ten? If you get a miserable total of 11 points you stay up? I am sorry, not for me. It would be easy to make the game fairer but the game is rigged. And unfortunately, Arsenal are one of the riggers and that makes me sad. Update to the Table of Doom Table of Doom Fixtures Current Max Arsenal Man City (a) Villa (h) Spurs (a) 64 94 Liverpool Spurs (h) Villa (a) 64 94 Man City Arsenal (h) Villa (h) Spurs (a) 63 93 And so the big change has happened with Villa and Spurs considered out of the race for the title even if they win all their games from here in. 83 is their maximum but probably around 70 points will be their final tally. They will play a big part, though as they both play all contenders and it could well be the team that beats both that win the title. And there is only one contender clash left, us and City in which Liverpool will probably be hoping for a draw. A win for us would be the sweetest in a long time and it is our next match. A draw is our minimum as City normally finish strongly. It is there for us, though, if we finish like an express train, stopping for no one. Ciao Like I said last week, if Spurs or Villa find a way, by the top teams dropping points, then I will put them back in, but I really cannot see any possibility for them to win the title. The City game is too early to be a true clincher but it could be very crucial. Liverpool host Brighton and that is a game they should win to make us nervous. If we win and then beat Luton we will have had a good spell at the top. I hope the boys get a taste for it and stay there till the end. C’mon the Arse!
  7. The Table of Doom returns Can anyone take this away from the Citizens? Table of Doom Fixtures Current Max Liverpool Man City (h) Spurs (h) Villa (a) 51 96 Man City Liverpool (a) Arsenal (h) Villa (h) Spurs (h) 49 97 Arsenal Man City (a) Villa (h) Spurs (a) 49 94 Villa Spurs (a) Man City (a) Arsenal (a) Liverpool (a) 46 91 Spurs Villa (h) Man City(a) Arsenal (h) Liverpool (a) 44 89 And so the Table of Doom returns in a much tighter scenario than last year and, while last year I was counting down from Arsenal, now we are looking at Liverpool. I have decided that only these five can win the league as I believe 86 points is the target this year so we are left with these teams. Manchester United, the best of the rest can only get 83 points. Only Liverpool and City can win by winning all their matches, as ourselves, Villa and Spurs need the top 2 to drop points. However, they will, as I can’t see any team winning all until the end. Whoever can put the strongest run together will win it. Klopp's team are in the strongest position - or are they? As before, any team that cannot reach the leader drops out and I will update weekly. Once again, if I make any mistake in my calculations please let me know, as one generous reader did last year. The great thing about a blog is that I can update straightaway. Five for five I am pretty certain that the Champions League chase will be these five as well, barring a collapse and a lower team making a late run. There could be five places this year as well so Arsenal are looking very good. Liverpool have crucial matches close to the end and they could be the decisive factor. Man City have almost all home games and they are really good at home. I will put City favourites based on past experience. Villa have all away and that might be important also as they have not been great on their travels. They have earned the right to be favourites In my previous blog here I speculated that around 86 points should be enough this year which gives City and Liverpool a bit more scope than the rest. We can afford to lose 8 points from 15 matches and 45 points. A tough ask as the 2 and 3 points extra for Liverpool and City mean they can maybe lose 3 matches but we can only lose 2. Away to City could be a huge game for us if we are still in it. We must put away the little teams Now I will turn my attention to the Champions League. Last year 68 points was enough as Liverpool in 5th had 67. and I am going for it again. Arsenal need 19 points out of 45 and that would be a collapse, little above relegation form. As long as we put away the little teams we will make it comfortably. Man U, Newcastle and Chelsea falling apart has meant that the Champions League struggle looks easier this year. Man Utd, West Ham, Brighton and Newcastle in the next 4 positions are, I feel, the only teams capable of pushing for top four. If five places are available then it could be tighter as maybe Villa or Spurs could collapse leaving a space for one of these to run into. Can Arteta finally become The Man? Truly, I don’t feel that Villa or the Spuds will do so. Man Utd are the closest at six points behind Tottenham but they have to play all the big teams, go on a long winning run and a collapse of one of the top five to get there. I doubt it, judging by their form. Will the new rules help? As for the rest, they need to find consistency, they have all got tough matches to negotiate and produce a level that they haven’t so far, and clawback a lot of points. It is hard to see that happening. The only conclusion is that the top five will be the top five, and the only doubts are the positions and how many places are available. Either Arsenal and City could win the Champions League but it won’t open up a fifth space as they will qualify through the Premiership. However, it might be enough for England to qualify under the new rules if Arsenal and City go far in the tournament or the other English teams do well in the other trophies. A European Cup winner could finally make it back onto the big stage Bizarrely, though, there could be 5 places and they are already won as none of the rest seem to be capable of a sustained run. Possibly 5 Champions league spots and only 5 teams really challenging for them. A bit of a joke, really. City never wobble? So, back to the Premier League. Arsenal and Liverpool only play 3 of the others, the rest play four. Could that be significant? City seem to have the best position as they play almost all at home and they usually win there. Villa, by contrast, have 4 away and that might be tricky as they are struggling a bit away. The Spuds have 2 home and 2 away but the 2 away are City and Liverpool. I will be surprised if the Spuds and Villa can keep their momentum going to such an extent that they win the league. Most likely they will drop away a little. But I suspect that they will take positions 4 and 5. Two tough away games for the Spuds Liverpool have won a lot of matches this season without being all that impressive too often. It is credit to their fighting spirit and appreciation of what it takes to be winners that they have ground out enough wins to leave them top. For a team that is obviously in transition they have done extremely well but that, and Klopp leaving, may mean that Arsenal can overtake them. Arsenal to become tough boys? And the big boys? City? If they win their game in hand they will go top and they don’t normally surrender the league. If Rodri, De Bruyne and Haaland stay fit, they do look the best team in it. They haven’t always looked at their frightening best this season and they have dropped 17 points so far. They will need to improve on that to claim the title. But Arsenal have dropped 20 so we need to improve even more than them. And, while I feel like a broken record mentioning this, we have not had a strong end to the season under Arteta. I one hundred percent guarantee that we must have a very strong finish this season to win the league. 37 points out of a possible 45 is a tough ask. We could lose that on our 3 matches against our top five rivals let alone on the other 12 matches. We had 54 points at this stage last season. We dropped 15 points from our last 15 matches to get 84. I have spelled out what we have to do to win the league. We must have steel in our backs, a streetfighters capacity, and some luck to go our way. Can we win the Table of Boom? And yes, I am aware that my target of 86 points to win the league and 68 to qualify for the Champions League could be out. I will be very surprised if I am far out, though. Both targets may be higher or lower. The only thing I feel we can be confident about is the Champions League qualification. That is within our grasp even with an average end to the season. Can Arteta fulfill all my dreams at Wembley? And the two big prizes we are still in? For the Champions League we may need only to be really good in 4 matches, 3 of the legs and the final. That would do me. Wembley would be a great place to win. I would call Wembley the Table of Boom for us even if we don’t really come close to winning the league. Topping the Table of Boom would make me so happy.
  8. Next ten matches: Palace h Forest a Liverpool h West Ham a Burnley a Newcastle H Sheff Utd a Brentford h Chelsea h City a Where can we finish, 2024, part 3? And so it all went wrong. We have 40 points after 20 games and a mountain to climb to win the league. An inability to score goals in our last few matches cost us dearly. Moving the ball around ineffectively in front of goal was our speciality and we now need to perform in the second half of the season. Can we do so? We will look at what we need to do in a little while but first how did our predictions go last time? Pretty good until the last few matches. Dani Georgiev, our new guest predictor, went for 48 points and I went for 46, which was the furthest away I have been from our final total. Our new transfer signing In fairness, we were the best team at Liverpool and West Ham and the five extra points we should have got would have put me within one point and I would have been happy. Fulham we deserved to lose. What it all means is we now have almost no room for wriggle in our remaining matches. I am going to set a target of 86 points as the minimum needed this year. I doubt if much less will be good enough. That means 46 out of 18 matches with a maximum of 54 points. We can drop eight points in this scenario. As you can imagine, we could easily drop that in the next ten and be out of contention early. Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Newcastle and West Ham are waiting for us. 4 draws and we are out. 2 losses and a draw and we are out. We need to be almost perfect for 18 matches and being honest, how many can really see that? Goals will come from where? To get 71 which might be enough for Champions League we need 31 out of 18 matches. Certainly a lot more achievable but not if we continue to lack scores. It doesn’t seem like a striker is coming and for me, we should play Nketiah in that situation. He does get in good positions which is our problem this year. Seemingly he is not considered a viable option, which leaves us an injury-prone and low-scoring Jesus or… Havertz? We are creating lots of chances, somebody needs to score them. But who? Why can't we bring this guy back? So we know, more or less, what we need to get. A very high total of wins gets us the league. We must beat both Liverpool and City, I feel, as they may not drop many. And put away all the lower teams for sure. But Arteta has had weak finishes so far and that has to change. Optimism is all we have at the moment. It won’t be enough as we also may have to contend with the Champions League, adding to our pressure. Honestly, I would like to see Arteta prioritise CL and top four as that would crown my Arsenal life. We need CL to cement our place amongst the greats. 7 matches is what we need, and if we create chances and score them, we could do it. We probably won’t win the Premier League anyway. Anyway, on to predictions and as always we give you the scores as well for a bit of fun Palace at home is a must win and I say 3-1 and Dani goes 3-0 which means we haven’t been watching our last few matches as we suddenly start scoring. Us Arsenal fans are always delusional. I hope there isn’t a psychiatric hospital waiting for us. But 43 points and a step on the ladder. Gus 43 Dani 43 Forest away is another must win. Aren’t they all? I go 2-0 but Dani obviously has remembered that we don’t score goals as he goes 1-1. He must be afraid that that psychiatric hospital is a real threat. For me Nuno Espirito Santo has lost his mojo and this is one we can win. And we must. Gus 46 Dani 44 Liverpool at the Emirates. They are a strange side for us. We seem to mostly play well against them without a lot of reward. But this could be an early six-pointer and Liverpool could pull away heavily with a win. I say we must win and I would take them playing better than us if we get 2-1. They owe us a win that we don’t deserve, yes? Dani goes 1-0 and I would say he agrees with me about winning this one any way we can. Gus 49 Dani 47 We owe you a mighty pasting, David West Ham away. We really need this one to restore the balance in the universe. They stole their 2-0 at the Emirates but this time I feel we will deservedly win 2-0. Surely Moyes won’t get lucky twice? Dani thinks they might as he goes 2-2. Gus 52 Dani 48 Burnley away. Vincent Kompany’s team have been playing better than their position shows but these are the teams we must put away. He doesn’t like playing blanket defence and that may help us. I say 3-0 to us and Dani agrees with me. Gus 55 Dani 51 Nuke Hassle at home and you never know what Newcastle you will get. He will most likely park the bus and hope for a breakaway. A couple of early goals will scupper his chances. I say 2-0 and Dani 2-1. Gus 58 Dani 54 Sheffield Utd away. So far they just cannot put points on the board and unless they have dramatically improved by this point I can’t see them getting any change out of us. We win 3-1 and Dani says we win 2-0 and we now have our last 3 results in common. Gus 61 Dani 57 Brentford at home and like I have said all along, we have no room for excuses, we have already dropped too many points. I predict a hard fought 1-0 and Dani surprises me by going 0-0. If we haven’t started scoring by now he could be right. They can be a tough team. Gus 64 Dani 58 We then have Chelsea at home and it is impossible to say what Pochettino’s team will be like by then. I am going 1-1 on a day we struggle to score. Dani sees us back to scoring ways with a 3-1. I hope he is right. Gus 65 Dani 61 Getting dark, too dark to see And then the biggie! City away and the old dark cloud comes down on both of us as we both say 2-0 to Guardiola. We could be Knocking on Heaven’s Door by then, particularly if Dani’s cumulative predictions are right. If De Bruyne and Haaland stay fit City are going to be hard to stop. The two of them are probably the best in the league. I would love either for us. Pep, you should have given us these two, not the two you did Gus 65 Dani 61 The Champions League should be the target It means I predict a very optimistic 5 points dropped but Dani says 9. Which means if the target of 86 points is correct we can only afford to lose 3 points from our final 8 according to me and Dani already has us out of winning the league even if we win our last 8. Probably we are being realistic and don’t wish to be candidates for the psychiatric ward but it is a little depressing, isn’t it? Here we are, just over halfway and we don’t think the league is likely. However, if we do manage to get these points 65 or 61 it does mean my CL target of 71 points is well within our grasp. The one that I want Mikel, win me the Champions League and I won’t care a jot where we finish in the league. There are only seven matches left and it is in Wembley. You always win there.
  9. 20 януари, събота, 14:00ч. - Академията Дианабад (ул. Ловен Парк N: 5). Линк към събитието във Фейсбук: https://fb.me/e/4YTpYi9Ck
  10. 5 декември, вторник, 21:45ч. - Академията Дианабад (ул. Ловен Парк N: 5). Линк към събитието във Фейсбук: https://fb.me/e/4T0z9idD2
  11. 25 ноември, събота, 19:00ч. - Академията Дианабад (ул. Ловен Парк N: 5). Линк към събитието във Фейсбук: https://fb.me/e/bc7ipvMhF
  12. Victoria Concordia Crescit When I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s and on through to the 90’s, supporting a football team was totally different to today. Then you could get a ticket to a match a lot easier except for the big games and even then you would probably get in. We had terraces and they would squeeze you in. Your only connection other than that was what you read in newspapers and magazines and watching the TV. There was virtually no merchandise to buy other than programmes and scarves. It wasn’t a huge financial expenditure. Now it is. The harmony referenced in the above motto could be felt by the fans. Victory would come through the alliance between fans and teams. You could always buy one of these What do you have the possibility to buy now that you couldn’t then? TV subscriptions is one area but in the old days you almost never saw a live match and except for a licence fee it was free. Going to the Arsenal regularly was out of the question for most people outside the London area. A small number of visits per year was what you could hope for. Most didn’t even get that. If you read the Arsenal forums you get many lifelong Arsenal fans who have never seen a game live. And I will get into the rest of what you can buy later. A cerebral connection If you live in Bulgaria, at the moment, you could be looking at a 1000 pounds to go to a match when everything is factored in. Certainly 400-500 pounds would be a low enough figure. Outside Europe it could be far higher. But when I was growing up flights were mad expensive even from Ireland and only the rich could afford them. A ferry and bus/train with a long time travel was the only real option. I did it a few times from Dublin but if you lived outside Dublin the time would be even longer. And one of these My point is that your connection to the Arsenal, in those days, was mostly in your head. You rarely saw a live match even on TV. You got very short highlights most weeks and you read whatever you could. Nowadays it is not too difficult to see every match, even friendlies and minor cups. You can see the Arsenal live up to twice a week. You see angles and perspectives unheard of in the old days. If you lose concentration at a live attendance and a goal goes in, you immediately look for the TV screen to see what happened. This was impossible. If you missed it, you missed it. Buy, buy, buy Now there are obviously many in Bulgaria who have never watched a match in the grounds and unless they join this club, they probably never will. But they can join Arsenal and buy merchandise as much as they like. I could not join Arsenal growing up or buy anything as there was nothing to buy. Why not sleep in an Arsenal bed? This led to what I would regard as a big difference between a modern day fan and what I experienced. I would watch pretty much any football that was on TV and it still wouldn’t have taken up a significant amount of my time. Nowadays the only essential viewing is the Arsenal for me as to watch lots of matches would lead to domestic problems. You could potentially watch football at any moment, never surfacing from your couch. But it does mean that I am nowhere near as good on other teams as I used to be. I could and still can, rattle off the first eleven of most of the top teams of my era. It is a far bigger challenge to do so now. So many things you can buy So now, you have live matches, club memberships, TV subscriptions, merchandise, programmes, star tours, museum visits, team events, the list goes on. You could be spending a large amount of your salary on the Arsenal, 10,000 pounds+ would be possible for some people in a year. Suits you, Sirs Even travelling to a few matches growing up, I doubt if I broke 100 pound in a year. In the 80’s merchandise started appearing. In the 90’s, Sky invented football and the fans money was under serious attack. Football teams went from having a dodgy local businessman as chairman to the modern phenomenon of dodgy international businessmen, corporations and even countries, all extremely unpalatable owners to me. They have put their hands in our pockets and are constantly trying to extract more and more. And succeeding, I may add. Your support costs you In the old days, your loyalty was to your team. Support meant you cared, you knew a lot about your team, you would, if they came to your locality or Ireland, in my case, get out and watch them but it wasn’t such a drain on your resources. So, while the first part of the previous sentence is true, nowadays, if you let them, your team takes a lot more than your support. It removes your cash to an extent that might be uncomfortable to married people. Tea tastes nicer from an Arsenal mug You can be dressed head to toe in the Arsenal, every part of you bearing the cannon. I am wearing the socks which were presented to me by this club. You can drink out of mugs (ditto for me), pint glasses (also ditto), sleep on an Arsenal duvet, count out your Arsenal souvenirs every night like Silas Mariner, and probably be surrounded by red and white all the time. Honesty might help us if not the big bosses This was not possible when I was a kid. Your support was to the team, not to those extracting cash. Have we lost something along the way? Sadly I say yes. That purity of the supporters being for the team is now gone, replaced by being for the giant entity called Arsenal. Maybe I am the only one that feels sorrow about this change. We have a lot more access, but only by releasing a lot of our salary to an American conglomerate. When did we decide that an American corporation should be the Arsenal? ‘Victoria Concordia Crescit’ means ‘Victory grows out of harmony’. Not any more for the supporters of any big football club. Victory comes out of agreeing to hand over a substantial sum to your team so they can continue to challenge for that same Victory. That is the new reality. Perhaps we should change our motto to “Victoria ex pecunia”. At least that would be honest.
  13. Is it necessary to be mugs? This is Lionel Messi. When we talk about his position in world football it is generally in 3 categories: The greatest shirtseller of all time? 1. He is the greatest of all time, an idea held by some fans 2. He is the greatest current player during his time at the top, again a view held by some fans 3. He is one of the greatest players ever, this time probably everyone would agree It is not, usually, except for the marketing experts at his clubs, about what he can generate in shirt sales and so on. But what he, and that other elite band of top players have, is an ability to create astounding sales for their clubs and their kit maker for their shirts and other merchandise. Messi has sold many, many millions of shirts for Barcelona, PSG and Argentina and will now do the same for Inter Miami. Generally the star players make more money for their clubs than the rest of the team combined. This is certainly true of both Messi and Ronaldo, the iconic duo that splits fans as to who is the GOAT. I am not getting into the argument here of which of them is the best footballer but I will talk mostly about Messi to make my argument. Or maybe Ronaldo is the greatest shirtseller of all time? It is difficult to get exact figures of how many shirts they have sold but it is certainly many millions each. My research reckons something like 10 million for Messi. Now, there is a counterpoint of fake shirts which could well also reach the same figures or more but they are not quite as relevant to my thesis as the money doesn’t go into the clubs. We need the fickle fans to buy, buy, buy What it means is that we, as fans, buy, and buy big, to hand over money to our chosen teams. It is strange to me that when Messi signed for PSG something like 1 million shirts were sold in his first season. It indicates that fans follow players rather than clubs, just as fans follow winners rather than teams. Take Man City and Chelsea, for example, both in the top ten brands of football clubs worldwide now, purely due to fans switching and young kids wanting to follow winners. As you go up the sporting ladder you can sell more merchandise. It seems to me that the instant fans are in the majority and they are buyers. Only a mug would buy a mug But let’s take the “real fans” for a moment. Someone who hasn’t switched clubs and takes the chance to see their team whenever they can and add to that the season ticket holders and regular attenders. For Arsenal there are 180,000 official fans in the club membership in the various categories. But Arsenal has an estimated 125 million fans worldwide as well. I basically pay to get into matches and normally buy a programme. I don’t buy merchandise unless asked to. Most of my Arsenal stuff are personal presents or freebies from ASCB or Arsenal Red membership. I have no real idea whether “real fans” also normally big buyers but I suspect maybe not too much, though for sure some of them are. Handing over ludicrous sums to attend matches is enough for me, I am not going to start handing them way over the odds for shirts, etc. Real Madrid: The kings of branding at the moment The winners take it all But that 125 million followers are a strong base to sell to. The other big clubs would have similar or even more. The thing is, it is those big teams which win nearly everything Man City, Man Utd, Barcelona, Real Madrid, etc., are also the biggest merchandise sellers. It is a crucial part of their branding. Vast numbers of people want to be associated with the brand of their team. Real Madrid were ranked first in brands at $1,636.56m in 2022, Arsenal tenth with $815.01m. That’s just the brand value if you were to make an offer for it to make money from selling official produce, not anything else. The Kroenke's paid $777m for all of Arsenal. It’s looking good for them, isn’t it? Ah, the branding is becoming essential to making money My point is, and apologies for taking so long to get to it, is, that as the other top teams make a fortune out of merchandise sales, Arsenal have to do so too. And so all the mug punters out there are helping to keep their team near the top by buying, at prices over the odds, as much merchandise as they can afford. Now, paying more than you should for something is regarded as a mugs game. Only stupid people do so. And yet your team needs you to do so. I am a bit of a mug by paying what, not too long ago, would have been seen as crazy money to see a football match. But I don’t normally buy produce except programmes. Programmes are not too overpriced, anyway. You need to buy a Declan Rice shirt quickly, it's your Arsenal duty Can I feel superior to those that are addicted to buying all the strips, home, away, alternative, special ones, cups, glasses, flags, banners, boots, shoes, etc that you can buy online or in your Arsenal store? It seems not as without them my team would go backwards. And so, I am left with only one conclusion. Yes it is necessary to be a mug to support a top football team. Welcome to stupidville, Gus, and don’t forget to keep paying big bucks. We have come a long way since shirt sales appeared in the late 1970's to small sales, mostly as presents for kids and with little enthusiasm to adults.
  14. Трансферът на лятото, на десетилетието, дори на настоящото столетие за Арсенал. Със сигурност преминаването на Деклан Райс на адрес N5 1BU London и края на проточилата се сага е трансфера, с който Арсенал отправи истинско предизвикателство към останалия футболен свят. Привличането на английската звезда е трансфер от такъв калибър, с който всеки един потенциален съперник на „топчиите“ ще се съобразява. Ще или не, защото след периода на трансформация, започнал преди двадесетина години с проекта Емиратс Стейдиъм, новината и факта, че най-големият клуб в британската столица реализира подобна сделка говори за новата орбита, в която ръководството на клуба и Микел Артета изстреляха гиганта от Северен Лондон. Кой е Деклан Райс и защо неговото привличане е фундаментално за развитието на Арсенал Лондон?! Деклан е роден на 14 януари 1999 година в Кингстън на Темза, в района на Голям Лондон. По бащина линия има ирландски корени, което го отвежда в различни формации на „детелините“ като младеж. Той започва да тренира футбол в школата на Челси, когато е на 7 години, за да бъде отхвърлен от „сините“ през 2013 година. За добро! Защото преминава в Академията на Уест Хям Юнайтед, а неговият треньор Тревър Бъмстед заявява, че амбицията, упоритостта и неговото постоянството, му дават шанс да пробие през съставите на прочутата академия на „чуковете“. За историята остават първите игрови минути в последната среща на сезон 2016/17 на терена на Бърнли. Пълен дебют записва на 19 август същата година при победата над Саутхямптън, а в края на своя първи пълен сезон той е обявен за Играч № 2 („Чук на годината“) на Уест Хям Юнайтед. Деклан е само на 19 години и пред него е единствено Марко Арнаутович и блясковото бъдеще, което го чака. Неговият първи гол и наградата за „Играч на мача“ идват на 12 януари 2019 година срещу... Арсенал. Ами, случва се, а Деклан има да се реваншира пред публиката на своя нов клуб. Темата за попаденията на новото ни звездно попълнение ще бъде разгледана в настоящото изложение. На 28 септември 2019 година за първи път е капитан на „чуковете“, а през сезона записва участие във всяка една минута от 38-те мача на отбора си за кампанията. За първи път е обявен за „Играч на годината“ на своя клуб и е сред най-добрите 5-ма футболисти във Висшата лига по единоборства и пресечени пасове. Една черта от неговата игра, която се превръща в движеща сила на Уест Хям и Англия, когато Деклан Райс е на терена, черта на която и ние в Арсенал ще разчитаме. Като казваме Англия, то Деклан избира да защитава националната селекция на „трите лъва“ и записва своя дебют на 22 март 2019 година срещу Чехия на Уембли. През септември на същата година получава заплахи за живота си, свързани с решението му да предпочете Англия пред Република Ирландия. С това си действие Деклан става първия футболист след Джак Рейнолдс, който през 1892 година прави същата „непростима“ за много постъпка. Непростима или недопустима за някои, то за привържениците на Англия, тя носи само наслада, тъй като Райс се превърна в интегрална част от отбора и записа 7 мача на Евро` 2020 и 5 на Световната купа в Катар през миналата година. В два последователни сезона е включен в идеалните европейски единайсеторки на турнирите Лига Европа и Лигата на Конференциите, а след отказването на Марк Ноубъл през май 2022 година получава престижа да носи капитанската лента на Уест Хям. Деклан Райс има тази чест само в един сезон, но какъв! С блестящото си представяне през кампанията той е в основата на спечелената Европейска купа от „виненочервените“, а така се нарежда в йерархията на Уест Хям до имената на легендарните капитани Боби Моор и Били Бондс. През своя последен сезон на Лондон Олимпикс, Деклан е играчът от Висшата лига, който е спечелил най-много единоборства в сравнение с всеки един друг футболист в най-силното първенство на планетата - един показател от играта му, на който Микел Артета ще разчита безусловно. В кариерата си за „чуковете“ записва 245 мача и 15 гола, но неговата амбиция, за която говорихме бе това, което сложи край на един забележителен период в кариерата на този забележителен млад спортист. Какво може да се очаква от Деклан? Той има всички качества да успее в играта. Започнал като централен бранител, в момента е един от най-добрите дефанзивни футболисти в света. Със своите лидерски качества се отличава от най-ранна възраст и от „лейтенанта“ до Марк Ноубъл се превръща в оня „маестро“ от полузащитата, който движеше цялостно играта на своя вече бивш клуб. Изключително здрав физически, той рядко отсъства поради контузии, а стоманата, която демонстрира при отнемането на топката, нейното бързо овладяване и последващ къс пас към най-удачно разположения съотборник ще бъдат от витална необходимост за Арсенал след оттеглянето на Гранит Джака. По този показател и стил на водене на играта много наподобява Клод Макелеле, а при достигане на неговите стандарти, то можем да очакваме велики спомени, които Деклан да създаде за привържениците на „артилеристите“. Райс е много добър както при къси, така и при дълги подавания, но друга черта от играта му, която прави впечатление е владеенето на топката, напредването между двете наказателни полета, създаването и печеленето на пространства и намирането на най-добре позиционирания съотборник. В Уест Хям и тяхната игра на контраатакуващ футбол, много ценното качество на бързото овладяване на топката и намирането на най-добре позициониран съотборник, бе опосредствано от самата бързина на Деклан Райс. Той много удачно създава отстояние от противниковите играчи, което му позволява рядко да губи топката, но дори когато това се случва, то Райси моментално „захапва“ своя противник в опит да си възстанови владеенето ѝ и в повечето случаи това е успешно. Всъщност Деклан Райс навлиза много смело и успешно в противниковото поле, печелейки терен, а когато се налага и единоборства. Нещото, което ще се надяваме да подобри в Арсенал е броят на головете, които бележи. Според Марк Ноубъл, той това го прави на тренировки, но самата игра на „чуковете“ е подвластна на друга концепция, докато при стила на Артета от миналия сезон можем да очакваме и доста повече удари от дистанция, които Деклан Райс да превръща в голове. Апропо, част от неговите 15 гола неведнъж са били обявявани за попадение на месеца в предишния му клуб. Райс определено е лидер, на и извън терена. Такъв от какъвто има нужда всеки един отбор. Той е показвал това нееднократно в кариерата си досега, а при наличието на съотборници като Одегаард, Сака и Мартинели можем да очакваме играта му от втора позиция да разцъфти. Освен чисто игровите му качества се отличава и с класно поведение извън терена, с вече улегнал живот, което може само да го трансформира в един от най-добрите футболисти в света. Неговото приятелство със Сака от националния отбор ще бъде добра отправна точка за интеграция на терена, а самото му появяване с официален костюм и вратовръзка при идването му на Ашбъртън Гроув говори колко този мъж е наясно с ценностите на Арсенал и демонстира интеграция към класата на новия му тим. Не на последно място, с неговото присъствие в отбора се увеличава броят на местните играчи, а това е много важно за самата идентичност на един иконичен английски клуб като Арсенал Лондон. В заключение, ако се върнем към периода му в Източен Лондон и думите на Тревър Бъмстед, няма как да не се сетим за блестящите млади футболисти, които излизат от т.н. „Академия на футбола“ в лицето на Франк Лампард, Рио Фърдинанд, Джо Коул, Майкъл Карик, Джърмейн Дефоу и Глен Джонсън. Ние, които подкрепяме Арсенал се надяваме, Деклан Райс да поеме по стъпките на Лампард младши, Фърдинанд и Карик, и да бъде движещата сила като своите именити предшественици, носейки ни много радост, слава и трофеи в Северен Лондон. А аз тази вечер ще си спретна едно ризото, което все повече се превръща в мое любимо ястие и ще го гарнирам с хладно вино от специално закупен за случая Дек(л)антер. Успех Деклан Райс в твоето ново начинание!
  15. Арсенал не успя да победи Нюрнберг и завърши 1:1 в първата си официална контрола, част от предсезонната подготовка в Германия. Букайо Сака изведе "артилеристите" напред в 7-та минута след брилянтна индивидуална игра. Младият англичанин отбеляза в типичен стил, след като овладя топката по дясното крило, след пас на Уайт, финтира няколко защитника и с плътен удар по земя в далечния ъгъл, преодоля вратаря на домакините. В 62-та минута Жоржиньо си отбеляза автогол, не без помощта на резервния вратар Карл Якуб Хайн, който му подаде, меко казано, спорен пас. Микел Артета заложи на силна стартова единасеторка. Рамсдейл бе на вратата, а пред него бяха Бен Уайт вдясно, Салиба и Габриел в центъра и Кивиор вляво. В центъра на терена бяха разположени Томас Партей, Фабио Виейра, заменил в последния момент обявения за титуляр Йодегор и Леандро Тросард. В нападение испанецът заложи на Букайо Сака, Еди Нкетия и Рийс Нелсън. Още с първия съдийски сигнал, Арсенал овладя инициативата. Якуб Кивиор зае позицията на Зинченко по навътре по терена и стартираше атаките. След няколко добри първи минути, полякът допусна няколко неточности, които доведоха до лек смут в редиците на "артилеристите", но без опасност за Рамсдейл. Бенджамин Уайт показа стабилност и ефективна игра. Той бе един от футболистите, които покриха най-голяма дистанция през първото полувреме като създаде и няколко опасности пред вратата на Нюрнберг с типичните си нахлувания в наказателното поле зад гърба на Сака. Конкуренцията с бъдещото ново попълнение, Тимбер, се очаква да бъде жестока. Салиба и Габриел изиграха типичен стабилен двубой, но и нямаха много работа в защита. Французинът, който дебютира с номер 2 на гърба, показа че е преодолял контузията на гърба и е готов да направи една добра подготовка. Габриел, от своя страна, изведе за първи път Арсенал с капитанската лента. Фабио Виейра се опита да бъде адекватна алтернатива на Йодегор, но не успя да впечатли с играта си. Имаше няколко добри отигравания по дясното крило със Сака и Уайт, но цялостното му представяне беше посредствено. Томас Партей, от друга страна, бе един от най-добрите през първото полувреме. Ганаецът умело дирижираше центъра на терена и задаваше тона на атаките на Арсенал като се отличи и с няколко добри намеси в дефанзивната част от играта. Леандро Тросард зае позицията на Джака, но играта му нямаше нищо общо с тази на швейцареца. На пръв поглед движенията му бяха правилни, но ориентацията в отделни ситуации му се губеше. Често можеше да бъде видян на крилото, вместо в полупространството между бека и централния защитник. Рийс Нелсън бе другият играч, който направи добро впечатление. Англичанинът, който наскоро подписа нов договор с клуба, игра с голяма увереност и създаваше големи трудности за противника по лявото крило. Скоростта с топка бе едно от нещата, които направиха впечатление. Освен това, Нелсън се отличи с няколко центрирания, както и с дефанзивната си игра. Определено той е един от играчите в най-добра форма на този етап от подготовката. Еди Нкетия не се отличи с нещо значимо, а Букайо Сака бе... Букайо Сака. С играта си показа, че независимо какъв етап от сезона е, той е готов на 100%. През второто полувреме се извършиха множество смени в отбора на Арсенал и това разстрои играта. Дебют с червената фланелка направи новото попълнение Кай Хавертц. Германският национал зае първоначално позицията на 9-ка, но след влизането на Балогун в 55-та минута се премести като атакуващ полузащитник в лявата част на атаката. Именно там се очаква да бъде и неговата титулярна зона на игра. Като цяло Хавертц не се отличи с нещо значимо, но това може да бъде очаквано, тъй като неговата подготовка стартира малко по-късно. Изключително впечатление направи младокът Итън Нванери. Той се появи на мястото на Фабио Виейра в 60-та минута и веднага преобрази атаката. Роденият през 2007 г. играч показа завидна техника, скорост и поглед върху играта. Да се надяваме, че Артета ще го вземе на турнето в САЩ, където да покаже още от огромния си потенциал. Другите двама юноши, които пътуваха с отбора, също взеха участие. Майлс Люис-Скели и Роуел Уолтърс влязоха за последните 15 минути и не допринесоха с нещо, което си струва да бъде отбелязано, но показаха добри неща. Киърън Тиърни изигра приличен двубой, но позицията на полузащитник при изграждане на атаките се вижда, че не е за него. Колкото и да се старае, шотландецът като че ли не може да си намери място в схемата на игра на Артета. Жоржиньо имаше нещастието да си отбележи автогол от около 30 метра, но в негова защита може да се каже, че пасът към него от Карл Хайн бе безобразен. Естонският национал, заедно със Седрик Суареш, Остон Тръсти, Фоларин Балогун и дори Габриел Жезус се включиха много слабо. Хайн бе изключително притеснен при играта си крака, а удар от над 40 метра почти не се озова в мрежата му. Седрик направи няколко ужасяващи грешки, в собствената половина, които доведоха до контри на противника. Остон Тръсти, който направи един отличен сезон за Бирмингам, също се включи слабо. Позиционирането му често бе грешно, на няколко пъти подаде спорно, като дори успя да си изкара жълт картон, след едно необмислено единоборство. Всички бяха любопитни какво ще покаже Фоларин Балогун. Дебютиралият за САЩ нападател, обаче, разочарова с представянето си. На два пъти той преодоляваше вратаря на Нюрнберг и на два пъти не уцели опразнената врата. Ако Арсенал действително се надява да получи 50 млн, то трябва спешно да подобри формата на футболиста. Първата конрола вече е в историята. Сега отборът се прибира в Лондон, след което в неделя лети за САЩ за основната част от подготовката. Междувременно всички се надяваме да видим позитивни новини в официалната страница на клуба, свързана с двама играчи, за които се говори, че сме се договорили преди 9 дни.
  16. The Table of Doom is Over Arsenal Current 81 Max 90 Brighton(h) Man City Max 94 Brighton (a) Gone: Man Utd Max 75 Newcastle Max 77 Brighton Max 70 Man City (h) Arsenal(a) – kept because they play key matches. Liverpool Max 71 Tottenham Max 66 And so my Table of Doom is over. The countdown of those teams that could catch us for a Champions League slot are all gone, having bit the dust early. Will we get 90 points? Maybe. I am hopeful. We are certainly better than our 3 final opponents but that may not translate into wins. Brighton have become an up and down team of late being beaten comfortably by Forest and Everton, both of which may be having their last days at the top table. We have to hope they are up against City and down against us. They are a good side on their day. Will Jurgen Klopp stay as Liverpool manager? Anyway I will discontinue this slot until next season as you all know who we will play, who City will play, and all the permutations. The only surprise will be if we win the championship without winning all our last 3 matches, I think we can all agree on that. City will now have another mind-bending game against Real and that might take its toll. We can only hope. Look what losing to them did to Liverpool in the final last year. They were rubbish for most of the season. We have hope. So bye bye Table of Doom. Who will be the top four next season? Today, I am going to take a strange tack and look at next season and who will be up against us. I am going to say from the bat that I expect us and City to be top four leaving only 2 places to play for. We assume Liverpool, Man Utd, Chelsea and the Spuds are contenders even though 3 of those may not play Champions league next season. That could be an advantage for them as they may not be in Europe at all like Chelsea or in one of the minor European trophies. They can play fringe players in these. They all have big income streams from many years at the top, bigger than the rest of the league and so have a natural advantage. Can we now expect Newcastle as well? I am not so sure. Champions league will play its toll assuming they get there. They, despite having some super players and a great manager combined with big pockets, might do a bit of a Leicester and go down a bit next time. They didn’t have Europe this year. They need to buy top players because some of these guys, like Dan Burns and our own Joe Willock, are not quite of the calibre they need as first choice if they are to battle on 2 big fronts. Sponsorship and merchandising income is still a lot smaller than the established sides although they do have an attendance capacity of almost 53,000. Their money plus their overall structure means they have a good chance of getting into the big boys club. Into the Big Boys Club So who else can we look at based on this season? Brighton for sure. They still have an outside chance of Champions league but that will surely stretch them. They may go back a bit and they may lose top players but they seem adept at producing young players and buying in superb ones. However a top attendance of less than 32,000 and without the ability to attract the sponsorship deals and marketing of merchandise of the more attractive clubs, combined with a rich, but not as rich as the top clubs, owner, means it will be really hard for them to truly compete at the highest level. Unai Emery could chase a Champions league slot next season Aston Villa, under Unai Emery, have been the real surprise packet of the season. Sprinting up the table with league winning form when under Steven Gerrard they were in relegation trouble, it has been astonishing how Emery has transformed them. They have a ground capacity of almost 43,000 and incredibly rich owners. They would have pretty good merchandise sales and sponsorship, although not like the big boys. They could jump up and take a slot very easily. Even this season, with a maximum of 63 points, they could be in Europe. Unai Emery seems to be at his best with an emerging side and I believe they will be a threat. Who else is there? Brentford's new stadium still only holds 17,250 Brentford? I think Champions league is beyond them. They have a good team with a potentially great manager but low revenue from merchandise, sponsorship and attendances. 17,250 is not going to get you Champions league. Their owner is only worth 20M pounds and that is a pittance by today’s standards. Lose Thomas Frank to a big team and they could suffer from 3rd season malaise and even get relegated. If they keep him and their best players they could still do well. But I am putting them out of contention for Champions league. Matthew Benham - probably the poorest Premier league owner Fulham? They could well surprise again. Marco Silva has done wonders with them and they have a multi-billionaire owner. Shahid Khan is surely a serious contender with big plans otherwise why Fulham? Lower income streams and attendance at 22,238 is far less than the big boys, though it will be brought up to 29,600 for next season. I feel they would need a long-term project and a much bigger ground to get up there but that should be his plan. No Champions league for them next season, I predict. But I feel they will make strides and 5th or 6th may not be beyond them. Fulham's new stadium will only get them to 29,600 The Dark horses and the Shambles For me the 2 dark horses may be Wolves, and Notts Forest (if they stay up). Both sides have had some terrific performances this year. Wolves 3-0 vs Liverpool being one standout. Forest drew with City and beat Liverpool and Brighton. Both sides big disadvantage is that their grounds are around 30,00 capacity. The astonishing Chelsea collapse The other factor is the shambles of Man Utd (at times), Liverpool, Spurs and incredibly, Chelsea. Can they turn themselves around? I think it is possible Jurgen Klopp may resign if he does badly in his last 3 games. Even if not, he may decide to go for a new challenge. I am not sure what will happen to them if he does go. They are a big side to manage and they will need a big manager and there are not many out there. The Spuds will be in the hunt for one as will Chelsea. All 4 may well not make Champions league next season but I do feel that Ten Hag is a good manager. As long as he gets Champions league this season he is safe unless the potential new owners think differently. They are my strongest tip of the four above. Chelsea and Spurs seem to have a lot to sort out to really challenge. So who am I going to predict? Arsenal number one, Man City number two, Man Utd number three and yes, Aston Villa in fourth. Unai Emery has a great record in pushing Real Madrid and Barcelona from the much lower base of Sevilla, Valencia and Villareal. He likes being with the underdogs. And hey, you read it here first. You can also bash me over the head for getting it badly wrong. Don’t bash me too hard, though.
  17. What’s the worst that can happen? Arsenal 99 Liverpool(a) Man City(a) Newcastle (a) Brighton(h) Man City 94 Liverpool (h) Brighton (a) Arsenal (h) Man Utd 86 Brighton(a) Newcastle(a) Tottenham(a) Newcastle 83 Man Utd(h) Tottenham(h) Arsenal(h) Tottenham 81 Brighton(h) Newcastle(a) Man Utd(h) Liverpool (a) Brighton 81 Man Utd(h) Tottenham(a) Man City(h) Arsenal(a) Liverpool 78 Man City(a) Arsenal(h) Tottenham(h) The above is the league table at the end of the season with the maximum points for each team plus their games against the top seven. I will make a prediction, if we win all our matches to the end of the season, we will win the league and Europa league. Wow, Gus, you are brilliant. How do you know such things? It’s because I am a genius. Well no, it’s because I can do basic maths. Let’s say we have a bad end to the season, dropping points and going all Spursy, how bad can it get? Not so bad really. I am going to concentrate on the league and see whether we can relax, at least as far as Champions league is concerned. I have decided that I need to go down as far as Brighton for potential CL slots. So I have put together a bad hypothetical situation for us and that is relegation form and 11 points from 11 draws for 77 or 7 losses and only 4 wins for 78. We currently have 66 from 27 games which should be enough for CL. In reality, looking at the maximum points as I have below I reckon in or around 70 will be good enough this year. I have calculated each teams points total based on them getting the same amount of average points they have got so far. Are the contenders good enough? The wrong blue and whites Brighton are in 7th with 39 points and 24 games. They can get 81 if they win all but do have to play 4 of the current top 7 including ourselves. Based on results so far they will get 62. They won’t come near us as they are bound to drop points. We play them at home in our 3rd last match and a win for us there will for sure mean they have no chance. They probably won’t see near 70 points which they would need. I would say around 60 is what they will get. So Brighton out. Liverpool have an even tougher job to do as the maximum they can get is 78 if they win all. We play them on April 9th away and a win or a draw knocks them out. They surely have no real chance of finishing above us. You will not walk into Champions League Liverpool have City away and us and the Spuds at home. Drop points there and CL might be very difficult for them. Make no mistake, mighty Liverpool, the mentality monsters, will need most of that 78 points to get Champions league. I don’t think they will do it. And if we beat them it will be even more difficult. They may well make 68 or so points if they start being consistent. A repeat of their current form gives them a maximum of 62. Liverpool out. Not a black and white year Newcastle can get 83 and they play us, Man Utd and the Spuds. They play all at home and may well garner some points but of course, if they do they make it harder for other teams to catch us. If we beat them we stop them getting near us. They seem to be finding it more tricky as time goes on and I believe they will struggle to secure CL. And only a disaster would see them finishing in front of us. A repeat of their current form would give them 67 and that’s what I am going to say 67 points and a battle with the Spuds for 4th place which they don’t quite make. Newcastle out. A Spursy year? They always are And now I am in the current top four and the marvellous Spuds who unfortunately get battered everywhere they go. They can muster 81 points. They play four teams, Brighton at home, Newcastle away, Man Utd at home and Liverpool away and those matches are almost one after the other. Conte would need them to be at their best but even that will see them dropping points, they are Totteringham after all. Still if they get some points they will do us good, particularly if we happen to have this bad spell I am talking about. They may well get in though as the teams below them have stuttered. A repeat of their current form to date gives them 68 but maybe 70 points if they have a non Spursy end to the season. Spurs in, but not above us. 4th At least they got one trophy Manchester United can get 86. They play Brighton, Newcastle and the Spuds away. The Spuds can do us a favour. C’mon the Spuds Those 3 matches alone will be hard, not to mention that points are very spread out in the league this year. To prove my point, Southampton are bottom on 22 and 26 games but win all and they have 58 and pushing for Europa league. Getting back to United, they should get above 70, a repeat of their current form gives them 73. Most likely 73 to 75. Man Utd 3rd Man City can get 94. If they do I feel they will win the league. They play Liverpool at home, Brighton away and us at home, all matches close together. We need them to drop points as the above disaster scenario for us would see them jump right over us. Beat them and it would be a great boost. And we will for sure be Liverpool and Brighton fans for the day. If they repeat their current form they will get 86. I expect somewhere around 86 to 90 may be their final tally. I will plump for 87. Remember if we beat them they have to win all their matches to get 91. We can lose 2 and draw one in that scenario. One monster left in our way We don't want a blue and white year Man City 2nd but first if we have the disaster situation or even stutter somewhat. We can outgun them all That leaves us. We can get 99 and, like I said above, a maths wizard such as myself will tell you confidently we will win the league if we get such a tally. We play Liverpool, Man City and Newcastle away and Brighton at home. We will need to gather points for sure. If I am right we will need at least 87 to overcome City. We will get 93 if we continue our current form. We can do it, we are the Arsenal. However, if it all goes wrong and disaster does strike us, we should still have enough to make Champions League. And we can afford a little stumble if I am right, we can drop maybe 10 points and still win the league. The teams below us would have to almost win all, and they are all playing each other which means they have to drop points. Even a bad spell now will see us in Champions League. We do have a great chance. 11 matches to prove we are the Arsenal, the team that sends others home crying. Gary Neville, are you listening? If we hold our nerve, we can do it. I believe we will. And I am hoping that Arsene Wenger will attend to see it. It would be astounding to hear our fans singing about Wenger and Arteta, master and apprentice turned master.
  18. Арсенал спечели домакинството си на Борнемут с 3:2 в спиращ двубой от Висшата лига. Това бе един наистина инфарктен мач, след който чак сега емоциите са леко понамалели и събрахме сили да напишем някой и друг ред по темата. През тази кампания ''артилеристите'' записаха още няколко сходни срещи, в които показаха неузнаваем характер, който сякаш последните години се бе напълно изпарил. Онова обръщане на Фулъм през лятото, онази хладнокръвна дузпа на Букайо Сака срещу Ливърпул, онези корави 90 минути в гостуването на Лийдс, онова финално докосване на Еди Нкетия срещу ''червените дяволи'' и онзи удар на Жоржиньо на Вила Парк са само малка част от примерите за това, че трябва да вярваш до самият край. Изминалата съботна вечер беше белязана от един вдъхновяващ обрат, дело на едни момчета, които правят именно това - вярват в себе си до последният съдийски сигнал. Начело им е една млада личност, която с идването си в Северен Лондон възвърна едни леко позабравени традиции - да действаш класно и да играеш за оръдието, колкото и тежко да е то на моменти. В този отбор на Арсенал няма нито един футболист, който да поставя себе си пред съотборниците си или целите на клуба. По този показател ''топчиите'' вероятно са водещи във Висшата лига. Микел Артета като с магическа пръчка превърна хаоса в уединение, а това може би бе очаквано на фона на това, че е човек, който е напълно наясно с това какво е да носиш капитанската лента, докато си с червено-бялата фланелка. В добавка, е играл под ръководството на страхотни мениджъри, един сред които е Арсен Венгер. Попил е и не малко от знанията и тактическите указания на Пеп Гуардиола, който пък му е предал знания от Йохан Кройф например. Както е в живота, така е и във футбола - придобиването на знания са едни от най-ценните неща, които могат да ти се случат. Обаче, трябва сам да го поискаш. Насила хубост не става... Този млад отбор на Микел Артета отново сплоти привържениците и ги накара да си припомнят какво е то да тръпнеш в очакване на следващия мач. Да си лягаш и да се събуждаш с усмивка, защото знаеш, че дори и да има някой лош резултат, който е неминуем по пътя, то тези момчета са дали всичко от себе си и са си оставили дробовете на терена. Така се случи и тази събота, когато докато се усетиш Борнемут поведе с 1:0, а през второто полувреме дори покачи резултата на 2:0. Смените на Артета и желанието на този колектив събрани в едно без малко не ти докараха инфаркт от емоции, нали?! Още в момента, в който Бен Уайт вкара първото си попадение с екипа на Арсенал за 2:2 знаеше, че каквото и да стане до края, този отбор е избрал теб, а не ти него, нали?! И точно когато всичко отиваше към точка за Арсенал, появилият се като резерва Рийс Нелсън подпечата една толкова изстрадана победа, която е символ и олицетворение на една вълшебна приказка, разказана в 97 минути. Впрочем Нелсън дори асистира на Бени Бланко за изравнителното попадение, а трябва да споменем и това, че една от другите резерви Смит Роу асистира на Томас Партей за 1:2. Едно е сигурно - We Will Never Be Beyond That Stage... Пишещият тези редове лично видя как след мача в очите на много от присъстващите в град Добрич имаше напиращи сълзи в очите на хората, разбира се породени от радост. И то една толкова невинна радост, като тази тогава, когато баща купи сладолед на детето си и след това го прегърне. Този мач може би надминава емоциите от онези незабравими победи над Барселона и Лестър що се касае до ерата Емиратс Стейдиъм. Онези запомнящи се коментари ''Аршавииииииинннн'' и ''Уелбееееекккк'' са също част от фолклора на този стадион, но през уикенда Рийс Нелсън с гордост получи правото да се присъедини към тази елитна група. И не само той, а и всеки негов съотборник през този стадион, защото най-малкото, което е, през тази кампания Арсенал има отбелязани попадения в първенството от цели 14 различни играча. Това само доказва, че всеки в отбора е готов да даде своят принос за каузата. Впечатляващо, нали?! Тази победа позволи на отбора да запази преднината си от 5т. на върха, а до края на този вълнуващ сезон остават 12 финала. Следващият такъв е тази неделя, когато Арсенал гостува на Фулъм. Преди това обаче Артилерията е на гости в Португалия на Спортнг Лисабон за Лига Европа. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fPUmgoU7q8&ab_channel=Arsenal Микел Артета: ''Съкрушен съм. Това е наистина страхотно чувство, когато е породено от радост. Допуснахме твърде ранен гол и след това тръгнахме в търсене на изравняването. След това обаче допуснахме ново попадение и вече изглеждаше така, всякаш не е нашият ден. Ние обаче показахме дисциплина и характер и продължихме да търсим своето. Имахме незабавна нужда от гол и Томас Партей ни върна в мача. Малко след това стигнахме съвсем заслужено до изравняването. Привържениците ни бяха страхотни за кой ли път и това оказа огромно влияние в мача. Не искахме да се предаваме именно заради тях. Да отпразнуваме попадението на Рийс, който е имал толкова трудни моменти и да го направим по такъв начин... Беше толкова красиво. Не бих заменил за нищо.''
  19. Честит Национален Празник на освобождението на България от турско робство, българи! Нека не само днес си спомняме за делата и подвизите на нашите герои! "Артилеристите'' приемат ''черешките'' в утрешният късен следобед в пореден важен мач от Висшата лига, а ето и по-важното преди сблъсъка: Възпитаниците на Микел Артета посрещат и този уикенд като лидери в класирането със своите 60т. от 25 изиграни мача. Втори остава Манчестър Сити с 5т. по-малко, но двата отбора вече са с изравнен брой мачове, след като в сряда вечер Арсенал унижи Евертън с 4:0. Борнемут от своя страна заема едва 19-та позиция в таблицата и е с актив от едва 21т. при 24 изиграни срещи. По всичко изглежда, че на ''черешките'' ще им бъде доста трудно, за да оцелеят във Висшата лига, а в тежката борба са замесени още отборите на Саутхямптън, Евертън, Лийдс, Уест Хям, Уулвс, Лестър и Нотингам. В първия двубой изиграл се вече между Арсенал и Борнемут през този сезон, ''топчиите'' разбиха своя опонент на Виталити Стейдиъм с 3:0. Това се случи още през август, а точни тогава бяха Мартин Йодегор (2 гола) и Уилям Салиба. Да, от онзи летен ден насам се промениха доста неща, но пък едно от тях все още е факт - Арсенал е в борбата за титлата! Фото кредит: Planet Football Кога: Утре, 04 март, 17:00ч. българско време. Стадион: Емиратс Стейдиъм, Лондон. Телевизия: Диема Спорт 2. Рефер на двубоя: Крис Кавана. Новините в отбора на Арсенал: В групата за двубоя няма да фигурират имената на Мохамед Елнени (контузия, отсъствие вероятно до края на сезона) и Габриел Жезус. Макар и на някои места в интернет пространството да се спекулира това, че има шансове Габи утре да е на резервната скамейка, то няма изгледи за нещо подобно. През миналата седмица бразилеца е започнал интензивни тренировки с топка, така че вероятно той ще е на разположение за някой от мачовете с Фулъм или Кристъл Палас. Другият вариант е вероятното му попадане в групата за някой от предстоящите сблъсъци със Спортинг Лисабон в турнира Лига Европа. Вече излезна информацията, че от медицинския щаб на ''артилеристите'' се надяват да видим Габи обратно на терена преди паузата за националните отбори. В крайна сметка на провелата се пресконференция преди мача самият Микел Артета даде сериозни индикации за скорошното завръщане на нападателя. Въпросителни за утре има около Еди Нкетия, за когото се спекулира, че е с лека травма. Твърде вероятно е младокът отново да остане на резервната скамейка, а Леандро Тросар да започне в атака. Всички останали имена в отбора са на разположение за селекция, включително и Жоржиньо, който е преодолял настинката/заболяването от сряда вечер. Именно неразположението на играча е принудило Микел Артета да го замени на полувремето с Томас Партей, който след появата си на терена изора всички играчи в син цвят. Фото кредит: Daily Cannon Микел Артета преди мача: ''Определено понатрупахме самочувствие след тези три поредни победи в първенството. Това обаче не е послание към нашите преследвачи, а към нашите играчи. Те трябва да продължат да се представят в същия дух и да поддържат високото ниво. Това е главната дискусия, която водим в отбора. Да не спираме да се отказваме и да продължим да гоним целите си. Намираме се в добра позиция и със сигурност има импулс в момчетата. Сега нашите погледи са изцяло насочени към утрешния мач. Той е нова възможност за победа, така че ще дадем всичко от себе си, за да я спечелим. Бих могъл да кажа, че когато имаме възможност наблюдаваме мачовете на преследвачите си. Това също би могло да се превърне в импулс. Но отново държа да отбележа, че най-важно е това как самите ние се представяме. Всичко останало би било евентуален бонус и нищо повече. Тези, които решаваме собствената си съдба, сме самите ние в крайна сметка. Борнемут е страхотен отбор, въпреки че се намира в края на класирането. Имах възможността да наблюдавам последните им няколко мача. Наистина съм впечатлен от това, което те правят. Те са доста агресивни и определено при различно стекли се обстоятелства можеха да запишат различни резултати в тези последни няколко двубоя. Както вече казах, целта ни е да ги победим. Мислим мач за мач и гледаме напред. До края на сезона все още остава твърде много време и няма място за отпускане.'' Фото кредит: Fottball London Игра с прогнози във форума на ASCB:
  20. Арсенал си върна на Евертън и победи с 4:0 в отложен мач от Висшата Лига. По този начин, Лондончани отново събраха 5 точки повече във временното класиране пред преследвача си Ман. Сити и остава на върха в класирането. Точни за домакините бяха Букайо Сака в 40‘а минута, Габриел Мартинели на 2 пъти в 45+1‘а и 80‘а минути и Марти Йодегор в 71‘а минута. Стартов състав: Смени: Евентуални Контузии: Еди Нкетиа, Жоржиньо Репортаж: https://www.arsenal.com/news/highlights-arsenal-4-0-everton Пресконференция на Микел Артета: „Много съм доволен от показаното. В отбора има невероятна химия и момчетата горят от желание за победа във всеки мач. Точно това искам и се надявам да виждам. Очевидно имаше леко изнервяне в началото, предвид мача в Ливърпул и не знаехме какво точно да правим. Това се промени след 25‘а минута, след което бяхме категорично по-добрият отбор. Жоржиньо не се чувстваше комфортно днес, но пък Томас определено направи разлика след влизането си на полувремето. Макар че Еди накуцваше към края на мача, мисля че е добре. Ще направим необходимите тестове и ще дадем повече информация.“, завърши испанецa. Честито на всички. Арсенал е на върха и няма нужда от повече думи.
  21. Зимният трансферен прозорец в Англия приключи вчера около полунощ английско време. В последният ден на пазара, Арсенал успя да купи един футболист и да отдаде трима под наем. Ето и подробностите: Новото попълнение в Северен Лондон се казва Жоржиньо. Привличаме го от Челси и да, става въпрос за същия Жоржиньо, който бе мощно освиркван и оплют, след като не бе изгонен и в последствие допринесе за гола, с който Челси ни победи на Емиратс със 1:2 през 2019 година. Изненадата е голяма, особено след като всички спекулации сочеха към Мойзес Кайседо от Брайтън. В крайна сметка до консенсус със „Чайките“ не се стигна, твърде вероятно поради огромната цена, която бе поискана (около 80 милиона паунда). Очевидно план Б за Еду и Артета се оказва Жоржиньо, който вече е собственост на Арсенал срещи сумата от 12 милиона паунда. Срока на договора е за година и половина, с опция за продължаване с още една година. Не малко се изписа и изговори по темата, нормално, на никого това не е любимият футоблист и мечтан трансфер и все пак му пожелаваме добро здраве, отдаденост и възможно най-добрата помощ, която може да ни даде. Ето и първите думи на играча: „Развълнувам съм, защото ще играя под ръководството на Артета. Знам, че той няколко пъти искаше да ме привлече през годините в Арсенал и Ман Сити, но така и не се получи. Ясно ми е, че имам история след случката на Емиратс през 2019, но ще се опитам до донеса позитивна енергия и да покажа какво мога. Фланелката на Арсенал е тежка, клуба има забележителна история и ще направя всичко възможно да докажа на феновете какво мога и да помогна на клуба за целите, към които се е запътил.“ Това съвсем не бе края на деня. Изненадващо или пък не, под наем бяха отдадени Седрик Соареш, Самби Локонга и Маркиньос. Десният бек изпадна в немилост след бруталните игри на Бен Уайт и Такехиро Томиясу и съответно ще доиграе сезона във Фулъм. Добрата новина тук е, че „Котиджърс“ ще поемат пълната му заплата, която е около 100 000 паунда. Самби Локонга, очевидно, не е готов за първият отбор и бе изпратен да се калява при Патрик Виейра в Кристъл Палас. Същото важи и за младата надежда Маркиньос, който ще доиграе сезона в Норич.
  22. A Day Out at the Emirates The 12 Pins lifts our hopes It all started by getting the train from Homerton to Highbury and Islington on a cold, wind-biting Sunday in January, the day after my birthday in which I had a great day, meeting old friends. Normally I walk to the stadium from here but this time I had to meet up with my brother Myles and his son Niall, both huge Arsenal fans and fairly regular travellers from Dublin. They were in the 12 Pins in Finsbury Park, which merited a change to the Tube and one more stop, a fabled Irish pub which accommodates enormous numbers of verified Gooners both inside and out. They have at least one mighty attribute, the drink comes quickly no matter the numbers, a testament to the ability of the Irish staff working there and always served with a smile. The best pub in London? The songs constantly break out, from Super Mik Arteta to North London Forever and back to the old favourites we all love to hear. Tributes to Rocky, winning the title at Old Trafford and many more increase the good vibrations and the happy expectation that we would get revenge for the unlucky loss earlier in Manchester. We fell asleep that day, and Var was unkind, but we are home, we are top of the league, and Arsenal are the greatest football team. Ah, it is great to be back, the buzz and the thrill level increasing all the time. Deep talks about the future But of course, a trip to the Arsenal and meeting with my family is always replete with serious discussions of where Arsenal are, are the buys likely to be good, and can we finally do it? We all agreed that Leandro Trossard could be the perfect choice as he can provide competition and cover all across the front three, an area where we badly need it at the moment, an injury could have been a calamity but now we can breathe again. I opined that a win today pretty much guarantees top four as we would need relegation form from now on. Myles laughed and said top four is certain, we want the league. We do, indeed. Me and the gang I also said that United will defend without embarrassment, same as they did at home, particularly without Casemiro, they will be afraid of a tonking. They will look forward to a Rashford or an Anthony finding us asleep again as they hammer a long ball upfield. I really hoped we would be vigilant, use our awareness and our speed to guard against such tactics. They both agreed that we must not outplay them and lose. The Hungarian Emperor My next stop was the Arsenal supporters club bar and a meeting with the extraordinary Alexander Sztranyovszky, a major superfan who tries to attend all matches. Everyone knows Alex. He is Hungarian, and I had to deliver some ASCB presents from Georgi Stoyanov , our esteemed chairman. I found him around the corner with Peggy, the fabled owner of the shop which supplies refreshments to all Arsenal explorers, both physical and mental, as can only be found in the presence of so many dedicated Gooners. Alex alone brightens up your day with his broad smile, his welcoming attitude and the inevitable selfie which is an enduring memory of a fantastic day. Alex and me at Peggy's place There was one bad note for me, though. I had printed out my ticket in case my phone wouldn’t work but I couldn’t find it. I was staying in my friend’s Krum’s apartment in Homerton not far from the ground but had spent the previous few days in a hotel in Lancaster gate. I guessed I must have left it there. As my ticket had no name on it I was worried that someone had got hold of it and may try to use it so I left the superb atmosphere emanating from the Supporters Club to get to the ground early so I wouldn’t have any problems. Maybe they wouldn’t let me in Krasi, Lily and me I got in no problem and quickly as normally I leave it a bit late and the queues can snake around quite a bit. Inside I had a beer and then found my seat. The position was great, a nice spot in the corner, at a convenient height to watch the action well. We got a present of a clacker to make noise tucked into our seat and on inspection it was the campaign against discrimination. Good, I thought, and it had the added bonus of increasing the noise levels to unprecedented intensity which reminded me of my days in Highbury in the George Graham 1980’s. My next surprise was my Bulgarian buddy Krasi Kolev and his wife Lily came along to sit beside me amid much hugs. They were accompanied by Kristian, a Bulgarian ensconced in Scotland who I had never met before. A mighty nice man with a big smile on his face. More selfies followed. They all made plenty of noise, singing and cheering all the time. Sometimes I am on my own and the atmosphere is never as good. I was so happy to see them. When we got our goal to equalise a Rashford breakaway which I had feared, the stadium erupted in a cacophony of high decibels which the local residents of the graveyards could hear. A half-time surprise Despite a 1-1 halftime, our feeling was good, we were playing much better than the Mancs, and surely our pressure would lead to goals. I got a big surprise when we went to the bar as my old friend Tsvetomir Tsetkov was there with a selection of beer waiting for us. He is Arsenal, a great ambassador for Bulgaria, for Shumen, and London where he has been living for 15 years. He always lifts my spirits, and this time was no exception. I owe you pints, old friend. Krasi, me and Tsvetomir at halftime We went back inside. Soon we scored, a Saka masterpiece, and we jumped so high we thought we would never land. Mancs, prepare to die. No more humiliation for us, and a few more goals would be very nice. We shall overcome But we are Arsenal, and you need a strong heart to be an Arsenal supporter. A mix-up in the box and Lisandro Martinez loops a header over the stranded Ramsdale to get back to a position their play never merited. Saka the master It went on, us pressing, Utd defending, and all the while the noise and the singing never stopped. We all believed despite the clock ticking and ticking. Our hero, Eddie the undroppable, sneakily tucked the ball in the net and we had done it, the clackers, the singers, the screamers and the shouters coalesced to frighten the poor local graveyard residents out of their tombs. What noise, what atmosphere, what smiles on our faces, but then the demon VAR was summoned. Ah, we will be cheated once again. I couldn’t see how, though, the goal looked good. As the ghosts settled back peacefully into the ground, a searing crescendo erupted to frighten them up once more. The Arsenal had won, and the almighty sounds erupted and boomed throughout the stadium, and all the pubs, clubs and gathering places worldwide. We were united, not Manchester. Arsenal ARE the greatest football team! Go home crying, Ten Hag, Rashford, Martinez and all the rest. You have come to our home and we have shown you the Champions! Eddie is our winner Ps. I predicted the correct score here. The printed word doesn't fly away.
  23. Арсенал гостува на Уулвърхямптън в двубой от 15-ти кръг на Висшата лига. Това е и последен кръг преди началото на Световното първенство, което ще се проведе в Катар и започва през следващата седмица. Възпитаниците на Микел Артета посрещнаха днешния ден като лидери в класирането с 34 точки на сметката си след 13 изиграни мача към този момент. ''Вълците'' от своя страна са доста непостоянни до момента през кампанията и заемат незавидното 19-то място с 14-точков актив. ''Артилеристите'' са водещи по показатели що се касае до гостуванията във Висшата лига, като от 7 срещи са спечелили 16 точки и са с голова разлика 12:4 далеч от дома. Разбира се, всички привърженици на Лондончани се надяват тази форма да бъде затвърдена и днес. При победа, "топчиите" ще посрещнат Коледа на 1-то място във временното подреждане. Фото кредит: Арсенал Още подробности преди мача в следващите редове: Кога: Днес, 21:45 часа българско време. Стадион: Молиню Стейдиъм, Уулвърхямптън. Телевизия: Диема Спорт 2. Рефер на двубоя: Стюарт Атуел. Новините в отбора на Арсенал: В групата за мача няма да попадне името на Смит Роу. Той все още се възстановява от операция в областта на слабините и очакванията са той да се завърне към пълноценен тренировъчен процес през декември. Под въпрос до последно със своето участие в двубоя остава Такехиро Томиясу. Всички останали състезатели в отбора са на разположение за селекция. През последните няколко дни станаха ясни и кои ще бъдат участниците на Световното първенство, играещи за ''артилеристите''. Това са Габриел Жезус, Габриел Мартинели, Аарън Рамсдейл, Букайо Сака, Бен Уайт, Томас Партей, Гранит Джака, Такехиро Томиясу, Уилям Салиба и Мат Търнър. Фото кредит: Арсенал Микел Артета преди мача: ''Би било страхотно ако посрещнем Коледните празници като лидери в класирането. Преди това обаче, има още доста работа за вършене. Предстои ни едно трудно гостуване, така че първо ще трябва да го спечелим. Всички в отбора сме фокусирани на максимална степен към тази среща. Това, което искаме, е да се представим убедително и след края на мача да се поздравим като победители. Нищо друго не ни интересува. Желанието ни е да повишаваме нивото в представянето си със всеки изминал мач. Срещу Челси се справихме блестящо. Именно онзи дух искам да наблюдавам - желание за доминация и победа. Истината е, че все още сме твърде далеч от края на кампанията и именно заради това трябва да полагаме огромни усилия по време на мачовете. Не трябва да се отказваме от целите си в нито един момент. В събота излизаме за победа, бъдете сигурни в това. По един или друг начин, ние трябва да я постигнем. Независимо от външните фактори.'' Фото кредит: Арсенал Игра с прогнози във форума на ASCB: Пожелаваме успех на нашите момчета! Нека дадат най-доброто от себе си и двубоя да се размине без контузии! Сбирките по клоновете на ASCB са налице и за този мач, така че ако се чудите къде да го гледате, вече имате възможно най-добрият съвет.
  24. Арсенал приема Брайтън в първи за сезона мач от турнира Карабао Къп. По традиция, отборите от горната половина на таблицата започват надпреварата от третият кръг, където Лондончани ще посрещнат коравият тим на „Чайките“. Припомняме, че в този турнир преигравания няма, всичко се решава в един мач, а при евентуално равенство, директно се изпълняват дузпи. Къде: Емиратс, Лондон. Кога: Четвъртък, 21:45 българско време. Телевизия: Няма да бъде предаван по българска телевизия. Отсъстващи: Емил Смит Роу Под въпрос: Няма Думите на Артета преди мача: „Целта пред нас остава непроменена. Излизаме за победа и продължаване в следващият кръг. Надпреварата е друга от досегашните две, в които участваме, но подхода и мисленето за мачовете остава същото. Очевидно е, че ще има ротации, но това не би трябвало да бъде проблем, защото има доста хора, които чакат шанса си. Както виждате, успяваме да ротираме състава добре и това ни носи нужните точки и ползи. Така ще бъде и днес. Брайтън са чудесен отбор, в страхотна форма, няма да ни бъде леко, но повярвайте ми и на тях няма да бъде, защото сме устремени към победата и излизаме за мача готови!“, завърши испанеца. Останаха 2 мача преди паузата за Световното първенство. Защо пък да не вземем и двата и да продължим страхотната серия от победи и добри игри. Пожелаваме успех на момчетата, които и да излязат днес за мача, все пак са си наши!
  25. Важен мач срещу Нотингам, на които имаме да си връщаме доста. КлубЪ Ви очаква от 15ч и ще се радваме да се съберем и подкрепим отбора заедно.
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