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This was supposed to be the bounce back night from the weekend, and at the end of the day one has to say the end justifies the means. However this was yet another game of two halves, without doubt.

Arsene made some significant changes to the starting line-up in attacking areas. Sensibly, I originally thought, he stuck with what is currently our strongest fit back four ahead of David Ospina, understandably our custodian of the moment. Hindsight can do one. Let’s not be revisionist about this.

Tomas Rosicky got the box to box gig ahead of Aaron Ramsey, again a popular call at the moment. Olivier Giroud was benched and there was a tiki-taka look to the front four. Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil, and Alexis Sanchez conjured up some magical first-half moments.

It wasn’t all one way however, and the lively Mahrez went close a couple of times early on. Gradually though the imperious Ozil got to work. He freed Walcott for one of those “Oh Theo” moments, and not for the last time.

The lead was secured when Mesut was denied a cheeky effort by Schwarzer. From the resulting corner Laurent Koscielny got a step ahead of Morgan and converted at the near post. Surely this would calm the nerves?

If I am honest although we were clearly the dominant side in the first-half there were always moments where Leicester broke with purpose. The second goal, when it arrived, was more than welcome. Ozil’s fierce strike was parried into the path of Theo who finished emphatically. Half-time must have been a relaxed experience for those around where I would normally have been, and indeed around the stadium.

The second-half, however, was a difficult watch on a dodgy stream. What on earth must it have been like in the stadium? It started brightly enough, and it is hard to understand why we did not have a penalty for a Simpson handball, given what the referee would adjudge a yellow card offence outside the area by Tomas Rosicky later on.

Leicester, dangerous on the break early on, came more and more into the contest. What would prove to be just a consolation goal came when Cambiasso, clearly obstructing the ball, set up the play from which the impressive Kramaric drilled one home. The visitors deserved at least that.

Half an hour remained, and chances were traded. Thankfully the points had already been decided, little did we know, but there was a sting in the tail, and so typically Arsenal. Aaron Ramsey, rested at the start, came on for Theo in the 73rd minute, but ten minutes later made a sad farewell to the proceedings with yet another injury. He was on his way back to full fitness, and this will be a nervous time for him, and us, as the medics determine the extent of the latest knock.

And so we held on to secure the points, and for at least twenty-four hours a place in the top four. There remains a frustration that the points should have been so laboured tonight. It was fabulous to see Alexis, Santi, Mesut, and Alexis in tandem, particularly in the first half, but look back at the performance overall, and you realise how difficult it is for Arsene to select the right eleven for any given contest.

We will get it right!

And Leicester

After a string of free midweeks the visit of Leicester on Tuesday could not be better timed. Very quickly the mood that has followed Saturday’s tame defeat can be improved as the pointed end of the season looms into view. Arsene Wenger is under no illusion about the size of the task facing Arsenal in the coming weeks.

“We have a very important period in front of us, with the Champions League, the Premier League and the FA Cup. It is important that the team responds very well and very quickly. We are going into a period where we play many games and where all our squad will be highly important.”

The good news for the Gunners is the return to the squad of Alexis Sanchez. It would not be a surprise to see him return on the right hand side of the advanced midfield trio. Perm any two from Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil and Danny Welbeck for the others. Behind them it must be tempting for the boss to play Tomas Rosicky as the link between Francis Coquelin and the attack, so giving Aaron Ramsey a breather.

I would be surprised to see any changes in the back four for this match, particularly with Middlesbrough up next. I have seen some discussion of David Ospina since Saturday. It is likely he will start on the basis that he was not at fault for either of the goals at White Hart Lane.

Leicester’s preferred approach is to defend deep and look to break down either flank. That could favour the selection of Alexis and Welbeck out wide with their appetite for tracking back and helping their full-backs. Both would also give Leicester’s wide men a fair test when we have the ball too. Olivier Giroud could face a battle too with Robert Huth set to debut for the Foxes.

The visitors have had a torrid time of things since holding us and beating Manchester United in the salad days at the start of the season. They are rock bottom and the mixed reports around the club regarding the position of manager Nigel Pearson cannot be helping their preparation. If there is a warning sign to be heeded, however, it comes in the shape of their 1-2 win at White Hart Lane in the FA Cup 4th round.

I’ve seen all manner of wild predictions for a high-scoring home win and frankly they make me nervous. Leicester will have numbers in defence and we have had many frustrating games against difficult-to-break-down teams before. Having said that I think we might do well in the latter stages, particularly as we are likely to have a mixture of guile and pace to bring on from the bench as defenders tire. I’m having some of the modest 6/1 available from Paddy Power against a 2-0 win for the Gunners.

Those that are going, wrap up warm. It promises to be fresh, but dry too, thankfully. A chest bug will keep me firmly in the warm hunting for a stream. Hopefully the match is being shown somewhere in the world.

Have a good one ‘holics.

As days go this was one to forget. The defend in depth tactic that brought a welcome victory at Manchester City was again the preferred option. I saw many calling for it beforehand so to be critical of that approach with the benefit of hindsight is perhaps unwise. Rope-a-dope works so often for us, but today we looked a little punchdrunk.

This defeat owed less to tactics than it did our overall quality on the day. Tottenham identified the right-back area as a soft spot early on. Let me say straight away that Hector Bellerin is probably the future right back of choice for club and country, but his derby debut shows he has a bit more to learn yet.

Ahead of him the recalled Danny Welbeck had a busy 77 minutes, including having a huge hand in us taking the lead when he left Rose for dead before crossing to Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman’s miscue was finished on the volley by Mesut Ozil.

We can thank David Ospina that we reached half-time with that advantage intact. By far the busier of the two goalkeepers he produced a string of fine saves to justify his current status as Arsenal’s number one.

Arsenal’s problem stemmed from a misfiring attacking midfield. Francis Coquelin again put in a huge shift in front of the back four, but those around and ahead of him were often wasteful with their distribution or simply caught in possession by a Tottenham side who were quick to deny us space throughout.

The equaliser came when Aaron Ramsey was caught ball-watching and Kane got away from him to net at the far post. Again Ospina came to our rescue a couple of times as the hosts sought a winner.  Gradually though we started asking questions at the other end. Lloris had to be at his best to deny Welbeck, and then saved Laurent Koscielny’s free header.

The introduction of Tomas Rosicky for the strangely subdued Santi Cazorla looked to have given us more of a threat but we were undone when Benteleb was allowed time and space to pick out Harry Kane with a cross from our right flank. Tottenham’s man of the moment finished well.

This is never a good fixture to lose, and one wonders how significant the lost points will prove at the season’s end. Not for the first time this season a promising run of form has come to rather a tame end. Leicester at home on Tuesday now has added significance. It’s bounce back time again.

Even when one has had as many good days at Tottenham as I have down the years, days like today don’t hurt any less.

Let’s Get It On

As Marvin Gaye once said, “You know what I’m talkin’ ’bout.” It’s them versus Arsenal. It doesn’t need building up. So straight into the team news.

Alexis is out, no wait, he might not be. Confused? You will be. Danny Welbeck is back in the squad after a lengthy lay-off and will surely make the bench? Definitely still out are Mathieu Debuchy, Mikel Arteta, Abou Diaby, Jack Wilshere, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

As for the hosts, although that suggests a level of hospitality rarely offered these days, Bentaleb is back from the Cup of African Nations and so they have a full squad to pick from. They are also, like us, in a decent run of form, having lost just one of their last nine league outings.

Our starting line-up will be determined by the availability, or otherwise, of Alexis. Should he not make it then it would be something of a surprise to see a change from the team that started last week’s comfortable triumph over Aston Villa. There is a very strong case for Tomas Rosicky to get a start, but Theo Walcott’s record against Tottenham makes for impressive reading, and he may get the nod on a ‘horses for courses’ basis.

This is a weekend like no other in any season. The relatively few who have the away tickets face a nervous afternoon. If we can replicate our intense performances of recent weeks then the traveling faithful will have much to cheer. Santi Cazorla can crown a fine spell with a match-winning display in the big derby fixture. Those of a lilywhite persuasion will point to a new-found fondness for late winners and their own form man of the moment, Harry Kane, although he isn’t one of their own, as they would have you believe.

I should insert a paragraph here about form and logic going out of the window for a North London derby. The fact is though that during Arsene Wenger’s tenure we have avoided the banana skin more often than not. Class usually tells and the ‘holic pound certainly follows that trail of thought.

The ‘holic pound

I am sorely tempted by the 16/1 offered by Paddy Power against a 1-3 win for the Gunners. Fancy a cheeky back-up? How about 55/1 against 2-4 in a fixture that has often yielded goals down the years.

New customer to Paddy Power? Fancy that introductory 6/1 against an Arsenal win of any description, then click on the banner ad at the head of the page. Terms and conditions apply, of course.

So that’s it. No point in adding flowery rhetoric. This is battle, the decider of bragging rights until St Totteringham’s Day arrives once more with the inevitability of a furry creature defecating in a lightly-forested area.

Have a good one, ‘holics.

Beat Your Neighbour

The North London derby. A match that has changed in significance to the outside world in the Premiership years. Somewhat surprisingly for this fossil it also seems to be a fixture that doesn’t retain it’s rating among some of our younger fans, a few of whom look more towards the Chelsea fixtures.

For the uninitiated the fact that this season sees the twentieth anniversary of the last time Tottenham finished above us in the Premier League has taken the edge off the fixtures. For those of us born in the pre-Sky era, the pre-all-seater era, the pre-all-ticket era the clashes with our nearest and dearest will always be the ultimate must-win matches.

No Tottenham manager, and sweet mother of Jesus they have had enough in the last nineteen years, has ever guided his rabble above an Arsene Wenger managed team. That has increased the ire at the other end of the Seven Sisters Road. They are without a top-flight title in nigh on 54 years, and have gone without an FA Cup for 24.

For all that though in the post-war era until the arrival of the Premier League the two clubs traded blows and urged each other to greater heights. Three years after the cessation of hostilities we won our sixth championship and a similar timeframe later, in 1951, the neighbours won their first.

We restored the six title gap in 1953, but the Lilywhites finest hour came in 1961. A double, their only one and the first in the twentieth century, so you can imagine how frustrating it was for them to witness us secure the first leg of our first double a decade later on the final night of the season at White Hart Lane.

For all that there are records of civil disorder at matches between the two clubs going back to the nineteenth century it was during the sixties and seventies that it accelerated, and the rivalry intensified.

I mention it only because the more sinister aspect to the fixture was born in an era when the match wasn’t all ticket, so large numbers of Arsenal supporters would descend on the Lane for the away fixture, and likewise the neighbours would arrive en masse at Highbury.

The arrival of an all-ticket, all-seater although tumbledown White Hart Lane, and the allocation of under three thousand tickets to the visitors has taken away some of the romance that always hung over the day out at the Lane.

Long gone are the days when friends and family members would sit together, best of enemies, and nobody would know until Arsenal scored and a few dotted about all areas of the ground would leap up together, but alone, in shared celebration.

Long gone too are the days when the boards of both clubs were driven to do better than that lot up (or down) the road. It may still be true at the Lane, but our motivation now is Mammon.

The lust for growth, and for ever-larger chunks of the Premiership and Champions League riches, have taken us to a remarkable new stadium, and a degree of consistency and support that has left our old rivals behind.

While our snouts are well and truly in the trough, Tottenham are among the runts at the back of the litter, nibbling at the leftovers we carelessly drop. A League Cup or two to prevent them from complete starvation.

For all that though I cannot accept that for any Arsenal supporter, regardless of age or background, that beating this lot isn’t still the sweetest of feelings in the humdrum of any season.

They may not be serious rivals, but they are still Tottenham. Never forget.

Wahay, Five-O

The morning after the day before. Good company, and good football linger in the memory. The discussions after recent victories have so often centred on the standard of the opposition. It is certainly true that Villa were brushed aside with ease, but credit the level of the Gunners performance please. Some of the football we played yesterday was a hark back to the days when the quality of our football really did set us apart.

Interestingly though, given the final scoreline and the fact that we had the lead very early on when Olivier Giroud was played in by Mesut Ozil’s amazing flick, an early contender for man of the match was Francis Coquelin. Villa were not without some threat at various points in the match and the young Frenchman caught the eye with the timing of his tackling and interceptions.

It was perhaps surprising as the half reached it’s conclusion that we didn’t double out advantage, particularly when Santi Cazorla was denied only by the post, and when Mesut Ozil’s strike was ruled out by a dubious offside flag. Equally we had David Ospina to thank for not going in level when he saved superbly from Weimann’s header.

The second-half performance was breathtaking. Just over ten minutes in there was a role reversal of sorts as Giroud freed Ozil for a simply superb finish. At 2-0 the shackles, or is that the legendary handbrake, were released. The pace of some of our attacks caught the eye. The third soon arrived when Theo Walcott broke free and exchanged passes with Santi Cazorla before opening himself up for the ‘Henry-esque’ strike.

Walcott and Giroud were withdrawn for the sterner tests to come, but if Villa thought the arrival of Tomas Rosicky and Chuba Akpom would lessen the pressure they were under, they were wrong. The latter won a penalty when upended by Guzan and the Villa ‘keeper was unable to keep out Santi’s venomous strike from the spot, despite getting both hands to it.

In the first of three added minutes came a moment that those who departed early would have savoured. Hector Bellerin’s sumptuous placed finish from the edge of the box was a pleasure to witness. There  remained time enough for Villa to threaten a consolation but Ospina once again produced a fine save to deny Westwood.

And so to the pub to debate how bad were they or how good were we. The defence looks solid again. Those who read the preview will know I am a Bellerin fan anyway, and he and Nacho Monreal will be hard to displace on the evidence of this showing.

The midfield options we have are already impressive. Aaron Ramsey is struggling a little for form and confidence, but isn’t hiding and it is surely just a matter of time before he flourishes again. Cazorla remains an absolute joy to watch, and yesterday gave an indication that we may find a way of getting the best out of him and Ozil in the same side.

Theo continues to frustrate and delight in equal measure. In row seven we came to the conclusion just before half time that the two words most uttered at the Grove since we moved in are “Oh Theo”. A point confirmed by two other fine judges of all things Arsenal without prompting later. When his goal came yesterday it made up for the misses of the first-half, and then some.

Guinness slurped, and whisky/whiskey savoured it was back to the chilly west just in time to relive it all on Match of the Day 2. I think on this chilly Monday morning I shall head for Arsenal Player to watch it again. It was one of the good days.

Cheers ‘holics.

By the time you read this dry January may be but a memory. Well done if you partook. If only my birthday could be moved I might give it a bash one day. Anyway, lots to cover in a short space of time, so let’s crack on.

Aston Villa at home, with Anthony Taylor in charge. What could possibly go wrong? Let’s not go there. The injury list looks remarkably similar to last week although it is not expected that Alexis will pass a late fitness test. Add to him Danny Welbeck (thigh), Jack Wilshere (ankle), About Diaby (calf), Mikel Arteta (ankle), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin), and Mathieu Debuchy (shoulder).

Despite the midweek capture of Gabriel it is a fair bet we go with David Ospina behind a back four of Calum Chambers, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, and Nacho Monreal, although Hector Bellerin would be my shout at right back, and Kieran Gibbs will feel aggrieved. Gabriel should get a late debut if we can get ourselves into a comfortable position in the match.

It is in midfield where one simply cannot double guess what Arsene is thinking. Hopefully Francis Coquelin will get the nod over Mathieu Flamini in the spine, but now how can we shape the team with Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky on fire, with Mesut Ozil so impressive last week, with Theo Walcott back amongst the goals, with Aaron Ramsey contesting the box to box berth. It’s a lovely problem we haven’t faced much this season and no matter what he does the boss will have his detractors. Let the performance speak for itself.

Olivier Giroud must start up front. That is the one area where Arsene won’t have a decision to make. He seems to appreciate it.

“We have a good, balanced squad now, It’s a compact, short squad but its of top quality and the advantage it can have is that many players have been rested. Aaron Ramsey had a good rest, and Olivier Giroud, Laurent Koscielny, Ozil and Rosicky have not been overloaded with games. Theo Walcott is now coming back slowly, so all these players are not overloaded.”

Of course we remember Villa at home last season. Who will ever forget the atmosphere, the home-made signs, the refereeing performance? Could they repeat it tomorrow? The visitors have not been in great shape this season. They haven’t even scored in the top flight since December 20th, but that was against Manchester United, and tomorrow they welcome back Gabby Agbonlahor and Fabian Delft from injury. They also introduce new loan signing, Scott Sinclair. That could solve their problem.

The ‘holic Pound

The ‘holic pound is lured to a twist of fate. Last year they went away with a 1-3 win, not even sure themselves how they had done it. Paddy Power offer 10/1 against us turning the tables. The only part of that which worries me is the one to Villa, so I am having a back-up pound on 3-0 as well, at 7/1 with the same firm.

Matchday Programme On Android

As an iPad and iPhone user I have changed from the printed version of the programme to the digital issue. This has been a service denied to Android users until now. The digital version of the matchday programme includes a selection of the most popular features from the iconic publication – but with a difference. The digital programme also incorporates video, audio, picture galleries and more to give fans across the globe a unique guide to matchday.

The digital version is available from iTunes and Google Play priced at just 79p per issue – monthly and yearly subscriptions are also available from iTunes.

Vic Groves

It is with extreme sadness that I read the news of the passing of Vic Groves. The uncle of Perry was a stylish and energetic midfielder in the first Arsenal teams I can remember watching, having converted from a centre-forward after a string of injuries.

We signed him from Leyton Orient in 1955, and Vic went on to make 203 appearances for the club, scoring 37 goals. At the start of the 1959-60 season George Swindin, manager and former Arsenal goalkeeper, appointed Vic as captain of the Gunners. The arrival of Frank McLintock saw Vic transferred to Canterbury City in 1964.

He was acknowledged as a ‘sturdy tackler’, which in those days meant a damn sight more than it does today. He was remembered with respect and affection by all who came across him at the club. A true Gunner, we could do with his like again.

Have a good Sunday, ‘holics.

 

I heard you all. You were saying “I wish Arsene would sign a central defender”. There were doubters amongst you, I know. “He won’t open his piggy bank. Come back in Ten Years Time.”

Le Boss heard the debate and understood. “Sometimes it isn’t easy to get the deal done, but if I can find a player of super quality, I will buy him. Give me a little more time.”

All along the Arsenal manager had someone in mind, but his current club insisted he was Out of Reach. Then it dawned on him. That chat with Joel Campbell when the diminutive forward had said to him “If You Really Cared you would let me go and find regular football”.

The following morning Arsene suggested the deal. He was staggered to get agreement. “Dreams can come true. Thank you. That is a super super transaction.”

So eventually we arrive at today and Arsene greeting the new boy to Shenley. “I didn’t expect you to come here. I am very happy today Because of You.”

Why?” asked the rugged looking Brazilian, “I Don’t Need the Sun to Shine. Now I’m here I’m Going Nowhere else. I am Gooner.”

A thought too for Joel Campbell, after all Nothing Hurts Like Goodbye, but he may return after Picking Up The Pieces of his career in Villarreal, particularly having signed a contract extension with us shortly before heading for Spain.

Last word with Arsene, I think. “We are delighted to have got Closure on our man. Things are a little bit on the Rise at Arsenal, I think you will agree.”

Welcome to Arsenal to the well-known spelling mistake, Gabriel. We wish you every success in your stay with us.

89 seconds. That is how long it took for Arsenal to calm any nerves that yesterday’s upsets might have caused. Calum Chambers spectacular foray down the right flank set up Theo Walcott for a first goal in over a year. A much changed Gunners had side grabbed the initiative from the start.

Missing David Ospina, Hector Bellerin, Per Mertesacker, Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Alexis Sanchez from the starting line-up at Eastlands last weekend, the Gunners nonetheless dominated the opening half.

At the heart of an impressive start was Mesut Ozil. He created opportunities for Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud as Arsenal looked to capitalise on their good form. Ahead of him Walcott was playing closer to Giroud than we might have thought beforehand. Twice he broke at pace but failed to find the final ball and the chances were lost.

Midway through the half the advantage was doubled. The also-excellent Tomas Rosicky freed Ozil in the box and a classy left foot finish gave us breathing space. We would be grateful for that later. Rosicky was starting to catch the eye with a typical energetic display. He set up Giroud but the shot was blocked.

Finally some forward progress from Brighton but not one of a flurry of efforts from them was on target. The recalled Wojciech Szczesny wasn’t called on to make a save as Arsenal completed a very dominant first-half performance.

What happened after the break is hard to understand. Some will say it was ‘the magic of the cup’. Whatever was said at half-time Arsenal came out a different team, and four minutes into the second-half Brighton halved the deficit. There was something of a combined defensive calamity, too many to name and shame, and O’Grady was allowed a free shot into the bottom corner.

That seemed to spread uncertainty through the team. Brighton had their tails up and the home crowd started to feature for the first time in the match. We needed that two goal cushion again and it was no surprise that little Mozart was the man who provided it, winning the ball back on the edge of the box and trading passes with Giroud before unleashing a spectacular right foot strike.

Half an hour to go, two goals to the good, and it seemed as though the handbrake was being slowly applied. That is understandable to a degree. Ozil and Walcott are still coming back to match fitness and both faded, but will be better for the experience today. Theo was the first to be substituted, along with Olivier Giroud. Chuba Akpom and Alexis came on. The latter as energetic as ever went close with a trio of free-kicks around the edge of the box.

A nervous ending was assured when Holla put Baldock in through the heart of the defence and the Brighton striker lifted the ball over Szczesny’s outstretched arm. It was a good finish but a very disappointing goal to concede again. 3-2

Five minutes later Ozil too was hooked, and Coquelin came on to help Flamini. That gave us a more solid platform from which to play out the closing minutes. Indeed we may have had a fourth when man-of-the-match Rosicky picked out Ramsey at the far post but the Welshman’s volley bounced to safety.

Arsene Wenger will feel that he got his selection spot on, and with players returning from injury there is a little more depth to the squad. The impending arrival of Gabriel Paulista should help, and the boss was unusually open about the likely signing. As for the match itself he avoided the problems of the second-half, as you might expect.

“Overall what you want first is the quality of the performance and to go through. They had two shots on target. When you play away from home and the other team had two shots on target, overall I think we produced the performance I expected.”

Still, after a weekend of upsets we have reached the last sixteen in our quest to retain the FA Cup. With four of the current top six in the Premiership already out of the competition we have been installed as favourites, but we need four more wins to hand Arsene a record sixth FA Cup as a manager in modern times. It’s a bit early to be dreaming of that just yet, as this weekend clearly demonstrated.

As Saturday afternoons go that was a rather good one. Chelsea, Manchester City, Southampton, and the shadow-dwellers all knocked out at home. Enjoyable as those results were they will mean nothing if we don’t grab our opportunity at Brighton to advance into the last sixteen of the FA Cup.

Some degree of rotation from the team that won at the Etihad last weekend is expected. Perhaps the most interesting selection will be the goalkeeper. Will Wojciech Szczesny be selected as the ‘cup-tie’ ‘keeper? With Hector Bellerin needing a fitness test the back four too may have been decided relatively late. He was pictured at training today so perm any four from him, Calum Chambers, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, and Kieran Gibbs. It is rumoured that we are nursing Kos through matches, so this will be clearer if he starts on the bench.

In midfield Francis Coquelin surely doesn’t need a rest, but Le Boss may decide that Mathieu Flamini needs a game. Mesut Ozil is due a start but will that allow a rest for the in-form Santi Cazorla, or will the German return to the left flank? On the right side could Theo Walcott return, allowing Alexis Sanchez a breather?

The hosts seemed League One bound under Sami Hyypia in the first half of the season, but since his departure and Chris Hughton’s arrival the Seagulls have started making progress up the Championship table. The former Tottenham defender knows what his team must do to cause an upset.

“It is our responsibility to try and do the best we can and nullify periods of their play when they can really hurt us.”

The word ‘nullify’ is open to interpretation. When we went to Gus Poyet’s Brighton two years ago the game was open and flowed. We edged a five goal thriller, but they are likely to want less flow to the match this time around. We shall see. Arsene acknowledged his opposite number in his pre-match presser.

“Chris Hughton will give them his experience and his competence, of course. He knows how to prepare a team for a challenge like this. For us the challenge is to turn up with the same spirit and show that we can be consistent with our attitude game by game.”

As Saturday’s results show we will need to carry forward the discipline and effort that brought us the points at City.

The ‘holic pound

In a moment of rashness last night I wrote in the drinks I would tip the scoreline most predicted by you. Blame Oskar and GSD therefore for a 0-4 away win. I wouldn’t go overboard on that in all honesty. Paddy Power offer that outcome at 20/1 so I will have just the pound on it, with a back-up pound on 1-3 at 11/1.

Welcome Gabriel Paulista?

As I type Villarreal have seemingly confirmed (but not yet on their website) that a deal has been agreed ‘in principle’ for Brazilian central defender Gabriel Paulista, with Joel Campbell heading in the opposite direction on loan. It is likely that the ‘in principle’ qualification refers to the need to secure a work permit for the player. Let’s hope that does not prove to be an issue. We need quality additions to the defence and he would appear to fit the bill.

Have a good one ‘holics.

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