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  1. 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!
  2. Thanks for the trophy, Arsenal Today, we will play Luton who we once did a big favour for, we gave them their only major trophy in 1988, the League Cup. And that was with the bulk of the team that would go on to win the league in the most dramatic fashion ever at Anfield the following year. We do not want a repeat of that 3-2 scoreline tonight, we need a win to keep the pressure on the top teams. Of course, it also means Luton will stay in deep trouble near the bottom. You're welcome, Luton But for a team who we first played in 1897, we have only played them 48 times, mostly because they were down the divisions and we weren’t. We have 27 won, 11 draws and 10 losses so they have given us good games despite their different status. We beat them 6-2 in 1898 for our best ever win and we would love that tonight. They beat us 4-0 in 1957 and then in the next match in 1958 they beat us 6-3 and those 2 wins in a row are far better than we have managed against them. In fact virtually all games have been tight with one goal separating the sides. They are no mugs and they seem to like playing well against us. And one nil to the Arsenal has never rang out against them as the last time we beat them by that score was 1970, long before the chant started. Oh, Nigel, what have you done? I mentioned above their first and only major trophy and it has to go down as one of the best League Cup finals ever. And why? Because Luton didn’t understand that Arsenal are the elite side and cheekily whacked in a goal by Brian Stein after 13 minutes. That was very foolish as that will wake up Arsenal who will go on to loot Luton of goals and win easily. Eh, no. It took until the 71st minute for us to get a goal from Martin Hayes who had come on as a sub for the wonderful Perry Groves. And then Smudger Alan Smith hit a goal from a tight angle and it was all over. It was even more over soon after when Arsenal got a penalty as Rocastle was tipped over in the box. And then Michael Thomas, our penalty taker, hit the ball into the back of the net and it was 3-1 with minutes left. Eh, no, again, because Nigel Winterburn, not known as a goalscorer, took the penalty for some reason and the magnificently named Andy Dibble made a fine save. Michael Thomas was our penalty taker, Nigel Still we were 2-1 up with minutes to go and we were the big shots, aristocrats of the English game. Except on 82 minutes, Danny Wilson scored from a bit of a scramble and we had to go again. On 90 minutes, substitute Irishman Ashley Grimes went on a run down the wing, got to the byline and hit a sublime pass for Brian Stein to knock it in past Lukic and we were done, looted by Luton. A great final that little Luton won. I guess all you older Arsenal fans remember that rollercoaster well as we did the opposite to Liverpool the next year. 60 years unbeaten We do have an up and down record against them. We played them first in 1897 in Luton and won 2-0. We remained unbeaten against them until 1957. It was a regular looting and pillaging for us. Kenilworth Road, thank you very much. But in 1957, they beat us 3-1 at Highbury and went on to win nine more times over the next 33 matches to date. They also drew 9 times so they have had a good record against us considering the gap between the teams. Neutrals are hoping Rob Edwards can keep Luton up If I am reading the sentiments of football fans correctly, Luton is the one team that most neutrals are hoping stay up. They have had a fairytale return to the Premier league because they were like the homeless people you barely notice on the streets as you walk past with your head up in the air as you are Arsenal, you don’t know what it is like to drop down into the gutter four times until you are spending another 5 seasons scrambling around in non-league. The bottom was hit, money and fans almost nonexistent, and even getting into the bottom tier of league two seemed impossible. Financial irregularities meant local support was difficult to obtain as was money itself. They crawled out of the gutter But they turned themselves around with that grim determination that our own Ian Wright had when he found himself in jail at 21, and his dreams of being a pro footballer in tatters. He said, no, I will make it, and so did Luton. They got relegated from the 1st division just before it became the Premier League and this is their new pinnacle, the holy grail that never seemed likely when it all went wrong. But they are here, they are battling and maybe, just maybe the fairytale will continue. Will their proposed new ground ever see the Premiership? If Sheffield Utd go down, they will come back, they always do. Burnley I think also. But Luton? This may be their last shot at the big time. The Championship is probably the most difficult quicksand to get out of in football. Big names have gone down into it never to reemerge. Brentford have given them a path to follow, but can they also get on it? At this moment it looks unlikely. Their ground holds a tiny 11,500. Their proposed new ground will hold 19,500, growing to 23,000. But it is scheduled for 2026. They may not be able to see the Arsenal there, then, if it all goes wrong. One nil to the Arsenal? Rob Edwards seems a decent football man, with a lot more managerial experience than Mikel Arteta, despite being younger, but he needs to get Luton to win with enough regularity to stay up. I doubt if tonight will help him but our record against them suggests a tough game and one we really need to win as all the big teams will most likely beat them. In our predictions Dani has gone 3-0 and I have gone for our first one nil to the Arsenal since the chant began. A win will make me happy no matter how we get it. We do not want to be looted by Luton.
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