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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.
Don’t be Blue, because my heart is true One day soon Everton will go down if they don’t find a way to put themselves back up near the top. They have skirted relegation for the past few seasons and one day their luck will run out. This year they are hoping the others will be crappier than them and that may save them again. The newcomers look especially poor. And yet Everton often pull out good performances against us. They won three in a row against us not so long ago. The first ever major football ground was Goodison Park We have probably kept them in the league. Will we get any thanks? Will we heck as like! They are our biggest rivals for the longest time in top flight football having been in since 1954, and they have had the longest period of being in the top flight of any team, only spending 4 years outside it. They had the first ever football song. They have 9 top flight titles, level with Man City in fourth. Man Utd and Liverpool are top with 20 and 19 and we are 3rd with 13. They have the record top scorer with Dixie Dean netting 60 goals in 1927/28. I don’t think Haaland will best that as possibly teams may figure him out and restrict him from now on, or maybe not. However, 60 or even 50 will probably not be achieved again. They were Giants They also, when Liverpool had their golden years, knocked them off their perch with 2 title wins in 3 years and almost a double, beaten by Liverpool in the FA cup final. They had the first major ground in Goodison Park in 1892. They are one of the old money football aristocracy of England. They are building a fabulous new stadium down on Liverpool docks. They have big money owners. They have an extraordinarily loyal fanbase, one of the best in the world. They are very similar to us. The fans want to save their great old club With one big difference, we are still near the top, we are just about kings of London, whereas their two huge rivals, Liverpool and Man Utd, have left them trailing helplessly in their wake, and the new money Man City are also easily surpassing them. Manchester is a short hop from Liverpool. It is far quicker to get there than for Arsenal to some parts of London. There is massive rivalry between Everton and the two old giants and the new one, than we have to face in London. If Everton go down and stay down for a while, we could even surpass them as the longest serving team in the top flight. The Survivors that don’t survive? I guess a lot of you out there would like that and there is a part of me also that would for the prestige of the Arsenal, but it is sad to see a great team laid low just by mismanagement. It is a fate that could happen any top team, even us. A great stadium for the Championship? I suspect some of you are wondering why an Arsenal blog seems to be about Everton and why it matters? I will try and explain my rationale. I think, of all teams in English football, Everton are our closest brothers. We are survivors, we take the bad times and ride them out, still turning up to support the team. We don’t get relegated, we battle and fight and turn things around. Neither Arsenal nor Everton ever had such a poor spell, in my time watching football, as the Blue boys are having now. Fans watching helplessly as huge money is spent, big plans unveiled, and for what? To battle with Luton and Bournemouth and suchlike for the privilege of dropping down to the cauldron of the Championship? Arsenal are too good to go down? Everton show that we should never be complacent, never think that it cannot happen to us. Rival fans criticized us unmercifully in the latter Wenger years for feeling entitled to being at the top. A lot of that criticism was justified. We hounded and humiliated our greatest ever manager because he believed in doing things the right way and we also didn’t have access to the fabulous money of the Chelseas and Man Citys. Wenger, almost singlehandedly, kept us in Champions League and winning FA cups and we drove him out like an ailing dog we no longer wished to take care of. Arteta is regarded as a great for bringing us what Wenger got run out of town for. The last time Everton had a sustained spell near the top was when Moyes and Arteta were there Of course, it was only some of our fans, and I hope and believe that the majority understood what our greatest was still achieving. But the criticism is valid. Tottenham, West Ham and many other London teams fans would have given both legs to have a manager who was giving them what Wenger was still giving Arsenal. Their fans love football Those Arsenal fans let us down. But as far as I can see, Everton fans have reserved the majority of their wrath for the owners, not the managers. Appointing Rafa Benitez, given his history, was, frankly, stupid. Even so, the fans reserved most of their ire for the owners who appointed him, and the same applies to Frank Lampard, who fell down a hole with the Toffees, yet the fans were reluctant to scream at him. Sean Dyche, a decent and well respected football man, could well make number 13 to move on since David Moyes took over at Man Utd in 2013. They couldn’t hang on to Carlo Ancelotti, who was making strides with them, and that started the abyss yawning at them. Rafa Benitez had made fun of them at Liverpool Pure luck seems to have kept them clinging on to their proud record, mostly relying on other teams to be crappier than them and last day results going their way. That must stop because one day they will make the drop. It doesn’t look like Sean Dyche is the right man to push them back up before that happens although I would be happy for him if he is. Hunting our great man was our lowlight We have seen at Chelsea that spending money on players is not the answer. What is needed now, at a big club, is a united vision, a team of backroom staff all facing the same way for the benefit of the team, fans who love the badge and players who come to love that badge. Arsenal seem to have that now, but the only sure thing that Everton have from that list is the fans. I have been in Liverpool and Dublin talking to true Blues, and in my opinion they, not their Red neighbour’s fans, are the best in the world. Even the greatest can be laid low by fickle fans In many ways, a lot of our own fans are similar, they can applaud the opposition and see goodness in any football fan. The entitled, and the Tottenham haters, are not in this category. They brought tears, that he was desperately trying to hold back, to our greatest ever Arsenal man. I cannot find it in my heart to easily forgive that, and I would not be happy to see Everton’s last proud record taken away from them even if we are the only beneficiary. I would love to see them sort themselves out, get back among the big boys, and get to see Arsenal take them on as second place to our first in the new Everton stadium. So, c’mon the Toffees!
Moyes Ghost I am Arsenal. All Arsenal from early days to now. I am walking to my normal entrance in the Emirates on Christmas eve. It is dark, it is cold, but I need to make sure that we are ready for West Ham on the 26th. I can feel, all around me, a grim chill enveloping me. There are murky shadows everywhere. But I dismiss such foolishness from my head as I apply my key card to the door. Suddenly, it pours red blood down its white facade, and a head that seems familiar to me then forms from the blood and screams at me. It looks like David Moyes. The door opens and it all goes calm. I am shaken but I feel my imagination is running away from me. I go inside to my office but there is a distinct frost in the air. The heating mustn’t be working I say to myself. Anyway, I have work to do so I set about my tasks. I do have an electric heater that looks like a real fire so I put that on and pour myself a nice drop of rum. The world starts looking like a better place. It is Arsenal and I am home. Was it him??????? I am not sure how long after that the real strangeness happened but I seemed to be asleep with the drowsiness induced by the dark liquid. I heard loud knocking coming from all sides and the room started shaking. The door flung open and it was Harry Bradshaw, our first successful manager, but he looked like a zombie. “Harry, is it you?” Harry Bradshaw 1899 - 1904 “Of course it’s me. I need you to understand what it is to be Arsenal. You must listen to me. Tonight, you will be visited by 3 spectres, the first at midnight, and then at one and then two. You must take strong note of what they show you, and finally, you must take action to bring us back to being Arsenal, the most feared team in the land.” The First of the 3 spectres Then he disappeared. I looked at the empty bottle of rum on the ground and laughed. Look at the damage you have caused me, giving me nightmares. 3 spectres, indeed. I retired to my bed up high near the boardroom to get the rest I need. Sleep came quick. Slumber was delicious until my grandfather clock tolled way louder than ever before, a noise like being inside a huge church bell. Herbert Chapman, smiling, came out of the FA cup of 1930. He looked like he used to, dapper, but with those intense eyes which commanded respect. I immediately embraced him for I always loved him. He made Arsenal great. “You have something to show me, Herbert? You are the spectre?” “Yes, I have many things to remind you of. Let us away.” Herbert Chapman 1925 - 1934 He took me by the hand as we flew through the air. I recognised where we were going. Upton Park. It was surely in his time as all the crowd were wearing cloth caps and virtually everyone was standing. We sat down in the dugout. The match started. I was getting a dreadful sense of déjà vu. It was confirmed when James Ruffell scored for West Ham. I will never forget this game. And now it was played out horribly again in front of me. Goal after goal were fired in including a hattrick from Victor Watson and two own goals from us. 7-0, to West Ham, of all teams. 7th March 1927 will always be etched on my memory. A ghoulish day at this place “Why, Herbert, why are you showing me this?” And then a terrible fear caught hold. “Is this going to happen on the 26th? Oh sweet Jesus, not that.” The second of the 3 spectres I started shaking uncontrollably. My mind was spinning. Then the whole world started whirling. Suddenly, I was back in my bed. It was a dream. I must stop drinking rum. Sleep came with ease, though, as I settled down under the duvet. For how long? Not long as at one it sounded like I was inside the grandfather clock again. Clanging so hard I thought I would go crazy. Then it stopped. George Allison popped out of the 1936 FA Cup. Now, George was a great manager, totally underrated. 2 league triumphs and an FA Cup. But this time I was afraid. What could he show me? George Allison 1934 - 1947 He took me across London again. I remember this day. It was the Fa Cup on the 5th January 1946. The cloth capped men on the terraces. The memory of the war still fresh in everyone’s minds. I inwardly screamed as all of West Ham’s six goals went in without reply. I can never forget that day. “West Ham! West Ham are the demons that are going to derail our title dream. Please tell me, George, tell me that’s not the case?” But he just smiled and turned away, as my mind was spinning again. I fell into a vortex, out of control, until I landed in my bed. Bad news on my doorstep again. I am being warned. 2 of our great managers got hammered by the Hammers. Arteta must be warned. This is a big match. But then I realised that there was still one more spectre to go. But surely I know the message? West Ham gave 2 of our worst defeats to 2 of our greatest managers. What more do I need to see? I couldn’t sleep, and was tossing and turning but somehow I dozed only to be thrown back inside the insidious bells of the grandfather clock. The noise was frightening, all encompassing, ethereal. Then it all stopped. The last of the 3 spectres A scary ride to Highbury Arsene Wenger climbed out of the 1998 FA Cup. I was never so glad to see anyone. Arsene knows. That’s all I can say. He made us into the modern day club we are. He was a mentor to Mikel Arteta. He will show me what to say to Mikel to stop this nonsense. I gladly took his hand as we flew. It wasn’t very far. To my beloved Highbury, in fact. It was West Ham again. I could remember this day, too, 1st Feb 2006. Nigel Reo-Coker and Bobby Zamora rifled in 2 goals before Thierry Henry got one back. Matthew Etherington made it 3-1 and then Robert Pires got another towards the end. 3-2. A horrendous day. Ok, I get it, West Ham can still be dangerous at home. We must prepare. But Wenger wasn’t done. He then brought me to Upton Park again. It was the next time we played the Hammers. Nov 5th. Another bad day as they scored a very late goal by Marlon Harewood and 1-0 it finished. But it still wasn’t over. He took me back across London to our shiny new Emirates stadium. It was our next match against the bubble blowing Irons on the 7th April 2007. Arsène Wenger 1996-2018 Bobby Zamora scored on 45 to make it a miserable day for us. We couldn’t score. 3 times in a row Arsene Wenger was beaten by them. I had almost forgotten that, an indignity that even the best teams couldn’t manage. I was in despair. Surely this meant that it is all about to go wrong. I gladly threw myself into the vortex knowing that I would get back to my bed. West Ham are the harbingers of doom! My great dream of getting back to being Arsenal is over. No more sending teams home crying. Woe is me, I sobbed. The end of it Things were no better in the morning. Desperation was etched in my face as I looked at my mirror. What are we going to do? I could hear a noise coming from outside so I looked out my window. It was Mikel Arteta going towards the entrance. He was smiling, in huge contrast to my black tear stained eyes and the wretched look upon my face. “Hey, big boss Arsenal, what’s up? You look terrible.” “I have a bad feeling about this game. West Ham have done terrible things to our managers in the past.” Mikel looked serious for a second. But he had a confident look on his face. “I have done all the preparation. The players know what to expect. I know exactly how David Moyes brain works. I have worked out how to get the tactics right. We are ready. We will continue our fight towards the title. Don’t worry, Arsenal, this Christmas West Ham will be good to us. “ After we Hammer the Hammers “And we will give you the money you need, Mikel. We may have have been stingy in the past but buy the best. We have loads of money. No words have ever made me happier. I hope to Dickens he is right. And God bless us one and all.