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“Our team play was very good, we played like a team, we responded like a team and we played together. My love for football is the team play and I felt the quality of our movement, the quality of the way we combined was very, very strong and when you are responsible for a team that gives you hope for the future. The basic ingredients are there.” 

The midweek demolition of Dinamo Zagreb raised the spirits around the club after we had taken just one point from six in our last two Premier League fixtures. Arsene is well aware we need to carry that improvement into Sunday’s visit to Norfolk.

The boss confirmed he expected to see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to be added to the squad that performed so well on Tuesday, although he also suggested there may be a decision to rest Alexis if felt necessary. With four ‘rest’ days before the trip to Norwich it would be a surprise if the Chilean didn’t start. If there is a change to Tuesday’s starting eleven then that may well be Aaron Ramsey recalled in place of Joel Campbell.

Recall for Rambo?

For the visitors, skipper Russell Martin returns after missing last week’s defeat at Chelsea. That result left them on 12 pts from 13 matches, just 2 points above the relegation zone tonight. It is fair to say they have struggled thus far, although worth noting that 10 of those points have been won at home where they have won 3 and drawn 1 of 7 matches.

Arsenal have won seven of the last nine Premier League meetings between the clubs, and will be keen to extend that record and continuing the pursuit of the title.

The ‘holic pound

With apologies for the necessary brevity of the preview, I’m quickly tipping a 0-2 win for the Gunners at a market best of 17/2.

To those going have a great day out. And for the rest of you, have a good one ‘holics.

Arsene Wenger resisted the urge to start fit-again Aaron Ramsey and replaced Francis Coquelin with Mathieu Flamini for the visit of Dinamo Zagreb. The other change saw Joel Campbell replace Kieran Gibbs who dropped to the bench.

Those in attendance had to get through a security cordon made necessary by the events in Paris a couple of Fridays ago. They were treated to a shaky start by the hosts as Dinamo won the first two corners of the match in the opening two minutes.

We had to wait until the seventh minute for the Gunners to string together an attack and from Campbell’s cut-back Santi Cazorla blazed an effort over the bar. Five minutes later Campbell turned provider again, but Alexis couldn’t apply the finishing touch.

The half was settling into a familiar pattern with Dinamo defending in numbers and denying Arsenal any space. Then, in the twenty-ninth minute, came the breakthrough. Alexis sprinted down the left and crossed, Olivier Giroud attracted the central defender with a sprint to the near post, and behind him Mesut Ozil dived bravely to score with his head.

Arsenal 1-0 Dinamo Zagreb

Four minutes later the Arsenal had a second. Nacho Monreal made an interception on the edge of the Dinamo box, burst towards the goal-line and cut the ball back to present Alexis with a simple chance six yards out, and the Chilean didn’t disappoint.

Arsenal 2-0 Dinamo Zagreb

Five minutes from the break the magician Ozil dribbled clear only to be denied by a fine save from Eduardo in the Dinamo goal. Three minutes later Cazorla started the flowing move that ended with Ozil stinging Eduardo’s palms again. In this mood Mesut is worth the entrance money on his own.

The second-half was just a couple of minutes old when Giroud’s deflected header from a corner was scrambled off the line after Cazorla’s pot-shot was saved by Eduardo.

Just before the hour the Dinamo left-back, Matel, broke at pace and his fierce drive was deflected out for a corner. It was a warning the Gunners heeded. At the other end Ozil and Alexis combined to put Giroud in but his fellow countryman, Taravel, stepped in to avert the danger.

Petr Cech showed his concentration when called upon to pluck a Pinto cross out of the sky shortly before Campbell miscued a volley when presented with a half chance. A minute later Campbell led a cavalry charge but his cut-back was clattered to safety.

In the 67th minute Giroud was wrapped up in cotton wool and Aaron Ramsey slotted into midfield with Alexis switching to centre-forward. Just two minutes later Campbell cut inside from the right and slotted a perfect through ball into Alexis. The Chilean rounded Eduardo and fired the ball high into the back of the net.

Arsenal 3-0 Dinamo Zagreb

Henriquez, an international team-mate of Alexis, came on as the Gunners celebrated and with his first long range effort was only narrowly off target. A minute later Cech had to make a wonderful reaction save to turn a Per Mertesacker deflection round the post.

With thirteen minutes remaining Alexis was denied what looked to be a nailed-on penalty when he was brought down by Eduardo. One can only assume the referee was feeling sorry for the visitors.

Soudani finally netted for Dinamo with ten minutes remaining only to see the assistant referees flag correctly raised for offside. Cue the last two substitutions by Arsenal, Mathieu Debuchy for Hector Bellerin, and Calum Chambers for Santi Cazorla.

As the game drew to a close Alexis chipped onto the head of Ozil who all but scored with a cheeky backward header. It was fitting that those two should feature at the end of a match they had dominated between them.

With Bayern thumping Olympiacos the night could not have gone better for Arsenal. A difficult, but not impossible task awaits in Greece. Our Champions League future is in our own hands again.

“In the last two games we have dropped points. We know as well that before that we won five games on the trot and you can go through a spell like that. It is how you respond to that and that is what makes your season. That is why it is a good test for us.”

Arsene is attempting to sound positive ahead of the must-win Champions League match against Dynamo Zagreb, and nobody would have expected anything different. I suspect few would have been surprised at the vagueness of his response to how long Francis Coquelin will be out.

“It is at least a month. I’m a bit cautious as we have had so many bad surprises on the scans, but the team for the next few months will be without Coquelin.”

The Coquelin discussion has raged elsewhere since Saturday so I’ll not add to it here. Mikel Arteta too has been confirmed as a ‘short term’ absentee, but the squad will be boosted by the return of Aaron Ramsey on Tuesday night. A cold, wet night might be deemed the acid test of how good a player Lionel Messi is, but I would suggest it is the worst possible forecast given the nature of the injury Aaron suffered. A place on the bench, perhaps, for him.

There are other decisions for the boss to make ahead of the match. Does he think Hector Bellerin will be better for the run out on Saturday when he endured a torrid afternoon, or will Mathieu Debuchy get the nod. I said on Saturday I thought Hector should be forgiven his apparent rustiness, but Arsene will have seen the lad’s response in the last couple of days and will make the right call.

Mathieu Flamini will surely slot in alongside Santi Cazorla, but do we start Kieran Gibbs or Joel Campbell? The answer may be decided by which side Alexis feels most comfortable playing. The match is surely of too much importance to consider throwing Jeff Reine Adelaide in for a baptism of fire.

Dinamo come into the game having won their last two domestic fixtures either side of the international break, but their European away form is dreadful as they have lost their last eleven Champions League matches on the road. Definitely missing from the side that beat us 2-1 in Zagreb will be Macedonian international Arijan Ademi, banned for four years after failing a drug test. Dinamo will also be without suspended defender Josip Pivaric after he was sent off in their defeat to Olympiacos.

Mention of Olympiacos necessitates the warning that our result tomorrow will count for nothing if they somehow avoid defeat at Bayern Munich. Such a result would bring about a collective raising of eyebrows, and much more no doubt. Bayern will be professional and win comfortably (he said, nervously). Should the surprise transpire let’s remember it is our fault we are in this situation, nobody elses.

The ‘holic pound

The ‘holic pound has to follow the optimistic route. The bookies favour a 2-0 home win and I’m having some of that at 13/2. For those of you going tomorrow night I hope we can produce a performance that will enable you to keep applauding to warm the hands.

I’ll be behind the sofa watching through my fingers!

Arsene Wenger decided to go with Laurent Koscielny, Olivier Giroud, and Alexis Sanchez at the Hawthorns. Kieran Gibbs reward for scoring the equaliser in the North London derby was to start on the left flank with Alexis switched to the right.

A slow start to the match was made worse when Francis Coquelin limped off after a challenge with Yacob. The significance of that moment will become evident in the coming days or weeks. Mikel Arteta came off the bench in a straight swap.

The first attempt on goal came in the fifteenth minute. Nacho Monreal was hacked down by Sessegnon and a superb free-kick by Alexis was thwarted by Myhill at full stretch.

West Brom’s rotational fouling got it’s reward in the 28th minute. Alexis was chopped down by Morrison and Mesut Ozil floated a delightful ball onto the head of Giroud, unmarked seven yards out. He doesn’t miss those! A couple of minutes later Gibbs fired just over as Arsenal looked to double their advantage.

Somewhat surprisingly, given his early reluctance to penalise any Baggies, Mark Clattenburg showed a yellow card to Hector Bellerin for a challenge from behind. The young Spaniard was being given a chasing on his return to action and should be forgiven his apparent rustiness.

Arteta disputed the award of a free-kick in the 35th minute, claiming he had won the ball, and from the resulting free-kick Morrison netted with the home team’s first attempt on goal. Subsequent replays showed the Spaniard had a right to be aggrieved.

Five minutes later Arsenal’s right flank was opened up again and when Cech missed Morrison’s cut-back the hapless Arteta knocked the ball over the line with his arm. West Brom, with one attempt on goal, found themselves 2-1 up.

Olivier Giroud was the next to see yellow when he too appeared to have won the ball in a fifty-fifty challenge. I’m on record as regarding Clattenburg the pick of our top-flight referees, but he was having an off day today, despite finally booking Morrison as the half closed. I should make it clear he was not responsible for the outcome. That was down only to ourselves.

Three minutes into the second-half Ozil drove the ball against the far post after Giroud had appeared to be hauled to the ground by Olsson. As that incident took place Arteta was signalling to the bench that he had a calf problem and Mathieu Flamini substituted for the substitute.

As the Gunners took complete control Alexis wriggled through challenge after challenge to set up Gibbs, but his effort was blocked by the massed ranks of navy and white.

A simple punt into Arsenal’s box caused more confusion than it should and Cech had to save smartly at the feet of McClean. Straight down the other end went the Arsenal and Ozil came close to putting Flamini in with a lovely through ball. That was the key for Pulis to send on Gardner for Sessegnon.

The visitors third change saw Joel Campbell introduced for Gibbs in the 63rd minute. He was almost immediately presented with an opportunity to level the score but completely fluffed his effort, missing the target from four yards.

Koscielny’s failure to find Cech with his head presented Albion with a corner that Olsson headed onto the bar. Cech grabbed the rebound as the linesman flagged Berahino offside on the goal-line.

With a quarter of an hour remaining Alexis couldn’t control Bellerin’s excellent cross and another chance went begging. Santi Cazorla attempted to put him in again but Myhill advanced smartly to claim the through ball.

A dramatic ending was assured when Brunt hauled down Alexis in the box, earning a yellow card in the process. Typical of Arsenal’s afternoon though Cazorla slipped as he struck the spot kick and it sailed harmlessly over the bar.

The siege continued but in the last of the ninety minutes Giroud was denied by Olsson at the near post. At long last Myhill was booked for time wasting. Why that particular offence isn’t punished earlier baffles better brains than mine. The West Brom ‘keeper went on to save Koscielny’s volley in the last of four added minutes and so ended the most frustrating of afternoons.

The result of this one match is a blip, not a season-ending calamity. With just 27% possession and just one effort on target the Baggies will know they rode their luck. Credit their rearguard action throughout. More of a concern will be the injury to Francis Coquelin, so pivotal to our title hopes. Everything will be crossed that our worst fears are not confirmed.

So, I have done four and five pint previews, but not any “I can’t remember” previews. I’ll start with an Arsene quote.

“It is difficult but it’s a good opportunity to focus on something else and to get it out of your mind a little bit. Sometimes the best way is to concentrate on something else. For the players it’s also a way to get rid of some of the emotions, to do what they can do and to give pleasure to people by focusing on something else.”

With the squad already down to the bare bones Arsene is hoping to lift those left shocked, saddened, and lethargic by the events in the international break.

Larent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud will be assessed prior to this weekend’s match at West Bromwich, as will Alexis Sanchez for different reasons.

The assembled panel on this week’s ABW Podcast touched on the fact that we would struggle to replace key players right now. I don’t really want to consider what the attack might look like if Alexis and Olivier were deemed in need of a rest but I’ll try.

At least there is the possibility of a return for Hector Bellerin. A back four of him, Per Mertesacker, Gabriel, and Nacho Monreal, would give us a sturdy base.

Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla should be able to anchor the midfield behind creator-in-chief Mesut Ozil. If Alexis is rested the likeliest stand-in would be Kieran Gibbs. Presumably Joel Campbell, after another two appearances for Costa Rica, will get the nod on the right.

Should Giroud not make the start Alex Iwobi could be in line for promotion and one can imagine him and Campbell rotating the right-sided and central roles.

That’s a worst case scenario, obviously, unless you allow for the entire team suffering a Tottenham-style attack of dysentery ahead of the match. (Cheerful soul tonight, ain’t I?)

Now having lifted any visting Baggies fans let’s deflate them again by pointing out even with our current injury crisis our recent away record is 31 points out of a possible 36 in our last 12 away league fixtures. The Baggies have won just 1 match at home this season, and have only won 1 of the last 19 meetings of the two clubs at the Hawthorns.

“Arsenal are an absolutely wonderful football club, it’s always been a very special club for me, as a lad who was born in the 1950s. They have a great opportunity this year of winning the title, they have a genuine chance.”

I had to rub my eyes when I saw that quote. Would you believe it was from Tony Pulis? Now in charge of West Brom we can assume he has had some media training since leaving Stoke where he viewed matches against Arsenal as an opportunity to stretch the spirit of the rules of the game.

Although they have struggled under the weight of expectation at home so far (Manchester City, Chelsea, Everton, and Leicester City all scored 3 goals at the Hawthorns) they have ground out some valuable points on the road, and in Salomon Rondon they have a striker who has caught the eye this season. They look set for a comfortable mid-table finish.

The ‘holic pound

With little notice of what the team will be I may post a late amendment, so keep your eyes peeled on the drinks in the hour before kick-off if you are daft enough to follow the pound!

The Baggies defended valiantly, though ultimately without reward, at Old Trafford in their last fixture. They will surely be as stubborn against us, so I like the look of a Pet Shop Boys singalong at the final whistle. One-nil to the Arsenal is at best 7/1 and the favourite with the bookies.

And with that I wish all of you a great weekend, and my mate a happy retirement. It’s been a heck of an evening, and I only did half of it! Apologies for the brevity.

Have a great one, ‘holics.

The evening after England played France while matches in Belgium and Germany had to be cancelled. It’s less emotional. The events of last evening will never be forgotten, nor should they. The next time someone looks down their nose at you and talks with a  sneer about ‘football supporters’ do remind them about the night when two nations who have not always seen eye to eye came together for a very moving show of fraternité. When football supporters embraced each other and filled Wembley with love and respect.

From the laying of the wreaths, through an impeccably observed minute’s silence, the blending in together of the teams to show a united front to those who would like to divide us, to the incredible rendition of La Marseillaise by both sets of supporters, the two governing bodies got the pre-match show of respect and unity spot on. Bravo. Well done.

With some of the visitors showing wholly understandable signs of emotion what followed was not a truly competitive affair, and yet that didn’t matter. For once the scoreline wasn’t important either. What was critical was that ninety minutes of football passed off without incident, and that two historical rivals put on a display of togetherness. No small amount of credit too to the security forces who ensured that the event could take place as planned.

From an Arsenal perspective Kieran Gibbs got 90 relatively comfortable minutes under his belt which will surely have provided a confidence boost for our second-string left-back. Laurent Koscielny, clearly affected pre-match, played throughout for the visitors, and Olivier Giroud featured for just over half an hour as a second-half substitute.

Alexis completed his second full match of this international break for Chile in their 3-0 defeat by Uruguay. If he was fatigued before jetting off to join his team he will not be any more refreshed now and I’m sure Arsene will look at his numbers on Friday before making any decision about resting him on Saturday.

Petr Cech, rested by his country on Friday, was beaten three times on his return to the side in Poland. His understudy, David Ospina, returned to action with two matches in five days for Columbia who drew 1-1 in Chile last Thursday before losing at home to Argentina by the only goal of the game last night.

Joel Campbell got another couple of appearances for Costa Rica as they beat Haiti and Panama.

That’s just about it for now. Arsene’s press conference could be an interesting one. Expect his views on last night and possibly also drugs in football to be sought as well as the customary ‘who is fit to play’ and ‘have you heard what Mourinho has said about you now’ questions. I’ll cover that in the preview on Friday evening, probably very late and indecipherable as I have a leaving do to attend at the local.

Cheers, ‘holics.

A solemn weekend is giving way to a week in which life starts to return to something resembling normality. That’s not to say that the events of Friday will ever be forgotten, but human nature persuades that terrorism will not distract people from living as normally as possible whilst mourning the pointless waste of life.

As I type Ireland are about to kick off their European Championship decider against Bosnia-Herzegovina. I’m sure that in the couple of hours that followed the minute’s silence most will be focused firmly on the quest for a place in France next summer.

There is not as much at stake when England host France at Wembley on Tuesday night, and yet seldom has a friendly acquired such a sense of symbolic importance. There have been well-intentioned debates about whether or not the fixture should proceed. The visitors heard the explosions outside the stadium as they hosted Germany on Friday night, but only after the match were they told what was going on around them.

Lassana Diarra lost a cousin as the awful events unfolded. Team-mate Antoine Griezmann’s sister escaped from the Bataclan theatre where 89 people died. They could have been forgiven for wanting to have some time to themselves. Instead their message is one of defiance, summed up by manager Didier Deschamps,

“We are here to represent our country and its colours blue, white and red with even more pride than we normally would. It has been a difficult, stressful time, but we have been together and each of us, in our way, has kept up to date with the events. Each player and individual has dealt with this in their own way. The main thing is that we have kept together and shared our grief.”

Captain Hugo Lloris accepted that the decision to play was more important for France the country than France the team.

“We had some concerns about the game but the president confirmed that we have to play this game. We respect this decision. It will be a good opportunity to represent the French nation, which is more important than French football tomorrow. Tuesday will be a great moment of solidarity. The last three days have been dramatic and I think we were in mourning together. It will be an opportunity to show character.”

There are admirable plans for displays of respect and remembrance ahead of the match. Wembley’s arch will be lit up in the red, white and blue of the French flag to show solidarity. Screens outside the ground are already showing the French motto ‘liberte, egalite, fraternite’, and before kick-off the words of the French national anthem, La Marseillaise, will be shown to enable England supporters to join in. Surely most will?

England coach Roy Hodgson also alluded to the aura that surrounds the fixture.

“I can’t deny there’s something hanging over which is far, far greater than a football match. That will be lingering whether we like it or not. I’ve never been in a football game like this before.”

Those who are going are being advised to arrive early as there will obviously be additional security checks on the night. Here’s hoping that the evening passes off without incident and the sense of ‘fraternite’ is upheld by all in attendance.

Tuesday’s match may not quite be the distraction that the Irish are experiencing right now (they are one up as I hit the publish button). Indeed it will serve as a poignant reminder for some, but slowly life is returning to normal for all but the families and friends of the deceased. They are in our thoughts.

Take care, ‘holics.

Love And Hate

There were minutes last night where I thought this morning I would be writing about Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla. Just minutes. Long before the final whistles last night something far more important than football was happening.

Our thoughts and prayers go out this morning to the victims of senseless, barbaric, terrorism. Last night it was Paris, again. In recent days it was Lebanon, Syria, Iraq.

People everywhere deserve to go about their business on this floating rock in peace.

Love to all who think similarly.

Once again the break in proceedings has led to our very own North Bank Ned to unsheathe his mighty quill for another look back into all our yesterdays. Once again I am indebted to him for his contribution. Cheers Ned.

The Emirates, idly unused while some international nonsense interrupts the season, is Arsenal’s sixth ground.

Most ‘holics will be familiar with what happened to the fifth one, Highbury, our venerable home from 1913 to 2006. Arsenal Stadium, to give it its formal name, was redeveloped as the Highbury Square luxury flats. Robert Pires owns one. The exteriors of the listed art deco East Stand and the matching West Stand are all that remain, along with so many memories of a slightly (OK, somewhat) younger version of this author.

But what fate befell grounds one to four?

The Invicta Ground

Ground four was the Invicta Ground on the south side of Plumstead High Street. Royal Arsenal played there for three seasons from 1890 before returning to the Manor Ground after the landlord tried to raise the rent. By then, Royal Arsenal had become Woolwich Arsenal and fully professional.

The ground was used briefly by an amateur side, Royal Ordinance Factories, before also being redeveloped for housing. Some of the properties in Hector Street, London SE18, which follows the goal line and one side of where the ground used to be, still have traces of the old terracing visible at the bottom of their gardens.

The Manor Ground 

The club had two spells at the Manor Ground, the three seasons to 1890 as a tenant and then for 20 years after returning from the Invicta Ground as owner.  A couple of miles east of Woolwich on Plumstead Marshes and famously muddy, the ground originally had no stands and spectators watched games standing on borrowed Army wagons. On its return, having bought the ground, the club erected a stand and built terracing. In 1893-94, our first season in the Football League, the typical gate was 6,000. A second stand was built in 1904.

The terracing at the Manor Ground was so steep that it was nicknamed the Spion Kop by soldiers returning from the Boer War (For younger ‘holics, the Battle of Spion Kop was a failed British assault on Boer forces holding a hill of that name in Natal, South Africa in 1900). Many clubs had steep terraces known as Kops, but ours was the first and predates Anfield’s by two years.

This clip shows us playing Newcastle at the Manor Ground in 1911.

After the move to Highbury in 1913, the Manor Ground was abandoned and eventually became an industrial estate. That, in turn, fell on hard times and has now been redeveloped as the West Thamesmead Business Park.

The Sportsman Ground

Ground two, the Sportsman Ground, was a few hundred yards closer to Woolwich than the Manor Ground, roughly where HMP Thameside Prison is today. The team played there for only six months from the start of the 1887-88 season before flooding drove them to what was then Manor Field on the Marshes. The Sportsman Ground, which was previously a field used for raising pigs, took its name from a long-gone pub where the players changed.

Plumstead Common

Ground one — though it is a stretch to call it a ground — was Plumstead Common. Royal Arsenal played there in its inaugural 1886-87 season. The pub the players changed in, The Star, is still on Plumstead Common Road.


Ground? — The club’s first game, played under the name of Dial Square, taken from the sundial above one of the gates to the Woolwich Arsenal munitions factory, took place over the river on the Isle of Dogs, possibly on a field that is now Tiller Road.

Whether that was an ‘away’ game or just the only place they could find to play is uncertain. However, the pub the team met in, the Royal Oak, was next to the station at Woolwich Arsenal and Plumstead Common would have been more convenient. Like the Sportsman, the pub is long gone, but it is where the ‘Royal’ in Royal Arsenal came from, by the way.

The Royal Oak, the Star and the Sportsman: three pubs with seminal match-day connections to the early days of our club, So ‘holics visiting the Tollie pre- and post-game are honouring a great tradition — though if Olivier Giroud started changing there, heaven knows what would happen.

Editor’s note. For additional reading and images may I commend this piece by Mark Andrews for abergkampwonderland.co.uk and reproduced on thearsenalhistory.com.

The pre-match slight whiff of tension was palpable. A police presence outside the pub and queues to get in. Those squashed inside relayed the news of Villa’s draw with Citeh. “Win today and we go top”.

Inside the ground a more sombre tone was rightfully set as the dead of past conflicts were remembered. The whistle introduced the latest North London derby, and almost immediately the neighbour-for-the-day spotted Mathieu Flamini warming up. It transpired that Santi Cazorla had fallen ill before the match, and in fact after he was unwell again at half-time so was replaced by Flamini for the second-half.

That is one explanation for the grip that Tottenham were able to exert on our midfield. The visitors, it has to be said, controlled the match for long stretches, but fortunately for us they lack something up front, an end product to the pretty patterns they tried to produce. Sound familiar?

They got the lead they deserved when, for the second time in a week, we attempted a suicidal offside trap. On Wednesday Gabriel was the culprit, and this time it was his replacement, Laurent Koscielny. Kane was left to latch on to Rose’s through ball and slot it inside Petr Cech’s far post.

After the break the introduction of Flamini gave us a foothold in midfield and a more even contest ensued. Joel Campbell and Eriksen traded near misses before the first of a pair of headers from Olivier Giroud flicked against the crossbar. Mesut Ozil was becoming a significant force and from one of his corners Giroud headed wide and the crowd audibly strangled screams of delight for what should have been the equaliser.

It was one of those days for the Frenchman, and he deserved a goal for the way he battled with Vertonghen and Alderweireld throughout. The latter brought a fine save out of Petr Cech from a corner after the Arsenal ‘keeper had denied Eriksen again. It was starting to look as though it was Tottenham’s day, and certainly I cannot recall seeing a better performance from the visitors at our place for many a moon.

Surprisingly, although this derby was not as combustible as some down the years, only one yellow card was brandished all match, to Lamela. Some might offer congratulations to Martin Atkinson, although others were somewhat confused by his failure to deal with the serial offender that was Dembele. It is a sign perhaps that Arsenal lacked that combative edge we have come to expect in this fixture?

Arsene sent on Kieran Gibbs for, somewhat surprisingly, Campbell. A weary looking Alexis was sent to the right flank and Gibbs slotted into the left. All of a sudden Tottenham were on the back foot. Ozil, pick of the Gunners midfield, sent a delicious cross to the far post and Gibbs, of all people, was on hand to beat the scrambling Lloris. Arsenal definitely finished the stronger with Giroud, having one of those days, hitting one over the bar and forcing another save from Lloris.

And then it was over. It was a strange feeling too. Most back at the pub agreed Tottenham had been the better side for more of the contest, but we had spurned the better chances to win it. So an air of relief that we had got a ‘come from behind’ point was tempered by the frustration that we might have really riled them by nicking all three points instead of just one.

Then of course there was the photo they sent around on social media sites before kick-off. It isn’t the first time they have done it at our place. In fact it is every time they visit that some degree of damage is caused to the toilets and seats. Yes I know some of our idiots tore down a £200 cardboard hoarding at their place, but think of the timing and scale of this latest piece of pure vandalism. Before the kick-off. They forced their own to wallow in their own filth for the rest of the match, and landed their club with yet another massive repair bill. Mindless morons. Say no more.


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