Bate Borisov – In Brief

February 14, 2019

Rumours abound that Mesut hasn’t travelled which, considering he was announced as back in full training and appeared in a photo of Wednesday morning’s training (below), are quite frankly, ludicrous. Is it some sort of bizarre Mexican standoff – who blinks first, Emery or Ozil?  Quite ridiculous.

Stuart MacFarlane

Ramsey has a slight problem with his knee also, so misses out ( 🙂 ) – probably aggravated when he sunk to his knees celebrating the signing of his gigantic pre-contract agreement with Juve.

Granit has travelled, as has Auba, whereas the only youngster in the squad appears to be Eddie.

It’s difficult to imagine the Borisov arena, jammed to the rafters with 13,000 people, being too intimidating an atmosphere. There’ll be no goat-slaughtering in the centre circle or ‘Welcome to Hell’ banners but, then again, if the home team score first, we’ll need to keep faith in the team’s mental strength.

A good result in Belarus will make next week’s return at the Emirates all the easier. We have no game in between as it’s FA Cup weekend, so there isn’t really any reason not to play a strong team.

Having said that, it might still be prudent to leave Auba on the bench wrapped up in his sleeping bag as he was poorly last week. The team functions better with two more versatile wide attackers anyway. Perhaps Denis Suarez might get a full starting debut, though Micki and Alex Iwobi will also want to start after their minor successes against Huddersfield.

The defence looks so much stronger with Kos as the first name on the teamsheet.  with Kola and Ainsley as wingbacks – why not?

In midfield why not have Xhaka and Torreira as the double pivot and allow Curly a role further forward to allow more interchange with Iwobi/Micki/Suarez (perm 2 from 3).

The Bate Borisov manager is Alyaksey Baha. He has worked his way up the coaching ranks at the club since 2011, finally becoming head coach in June 2018.

Sightseeing in Barysaw


Holy Resurrection Cathedral – perhaps Mesut should have gone and paid a visit here


State museum complete with a Napoleonic cannon outside

Winning the Europa Cup still seems our most likely route to next season’s  Champions League but winning a cup competition always needs a fair amount of good fortune.

Still, if we can’t get through the Round of 32, we certainly don’t deserve CL qualification by the backdoor.


chas (BR is on manoeuvres)


Arsenal FC – Our away record against FC Bate Borisov

February 13, 2019

FC BATE Borisov is a Belarusian football team from the city of Barysaw. The club competes in the Belarusian Premier League. The club’s home stadium is Borisov Arena, which was opened in 2014 it has a capacity of 13,126. BATE is an acronym of Borisov Automobile and Tractor Electronics.

The team was founded in 1973 and then disbanded in 1984. Prior to being disbanded they won the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic league three times (1974, 1976 and 1979), the club was re-established in 1996.

They are the reigning champions and are the league’s most successful club with 15 titles, 13 won consecutively. The club has also won three Belarusian Cups and four Belarusian Super Cups. BATE is the only Belarusian team to have qualified for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League (2008–09, 2011–12, 2012–13, 2014–15 and 2015–16) and one of two to qualify for the group stage of the UEFA Europa League (2009–10, 2010–11, 2017–18 and 2018–19), along with Dinamo Minsk.

The following comes from a stadium guide and is not a great reason to travel.

The Borisov Arena is located on the edge of the city surrounded by forests, office parks, and some residential housing. There is not much to see or do near the stadium so little reason to head over long before the match. Barysaw is a rather sleepy city so there isn’t much to do elsewhere either, but you’ll be able to find a few places to eat or drink in central Barysaw around Revolution Avenue or around Gagarina street near the coach station. There are barely any hotels in Barysaw so your choice is either to go for one of the very basic options or pick one of the apartment rentals around the city.

The alternative (as most of the travelling Gooners seem to be doing) is to stay in Minsk. In fact Arsenal FC have arranged coaches for fans to make the 70km journey. Coaches will depart from Lenin street (metro station Pershamayskaya) opposite the Minsk Concert Hall.

Minsk Concert Hall


Belarusian Premier League
Winners (15): 1999, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

Belarusian Cup
Winners (3): 2006, 2010, 2015

Belarusian Super Cup
Winners (7): 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
Belarusian Second League

Winners: 1996
Belarusian Soviet era champions
Winners (3): 1974, 1976, 1979

The only occasion we have played against Bate in Belarus was in the 2017/18 Europa League when we won 4-2.

Thursday 28th September 2017 – FC Bate Borisov 2 Arsenal 4

Two early goals from Theo Walnutt and a close range header from Rob Holding gave the boys in powder blue a commanding lead. Bate sneaked one back before FFS Giroud sealed the win with a penalty just after half time. Bate’s second 20 minutes from time proved no more than a consolation. A 17 year-old Reiss Nelson impressed at right wing back.

I expect us to win – but then again we are the 2018/19 version of Arsenal so –?



February 12, 2019

Despite the fact we have discussed the Mr. Ramsey situation for over a year I feel that we will have to do so again., after all over 1200 comments on the BBC website following his statement shows a high level of interest.

And what is the focus of the ire? His wages and the level of inefficiency of the Arsenal negotiating team.

My response to both is that there is a misconception based upon ignorance.

Let’s start with the wages.

Aaron Ramsey is a very high profile player in the world’s most popular sport. His wages pale into insignificance when discussing high earners in a minority sport like American football or baseball.

It is a simple case of supply and demand.  Those of you who are lucky enough to travel the world know that wherever you go there is passion for the Premier League above any other, countless millions know the name of Aaron Ramsey.. He may not be in the rank of Messi/Ronaldo or Calum Chambers but he is definitely in the top 100.

He earns the Big Bucks because someone is willing to pay. It seems as though there were a plethora of clubs willing to pay €400k a week, including Man Utd and the Chavs.

Footballers are not overpaid, lawyers are 😀

The Arsenal Backroom Boys effed up the negotiations? How can anyone know outside of the meeting room what was offered and refused?

Some time ago LB wrote a post on this very subject and he is a man who knows about contracts.  Mr. Ramsey employs an agent to get him the best deal possible. It would be foolish to imagine that his agent didn’t tout Aaron around the big clubs in Europe at least 18 months ago. He would have known the benefit to his client of running down his contract. It is called Player Power. and Arsenal got shafted. They aren’t the first and will not be the last.

It is also the job of his agent and press office to present Mr. Ramsey in the best possible light – they have done a superb job. Arsenal are left looking foolish. Very clever.

Aaron is one of my favourite players (despite his Welshdom). In his 11 years he has been superb for Arsenal and we will miss his genius.

I wish him the very best of good fortune on his new adventure.

I am deeply envious.

written by Big Raddy


Things we learnt from the gameweek 26

February 11, 2019

So, Gameweek 26 comes to a close (apart from for those poor s*ds who are looking forward to Wolves versus the barcodes tonight) and what conclusions can we draw?

Getty Images

  • Yesterday’s game proved that Abu Dhabi oil money trumps Russian oil money – or does it? It was only the start of December when some were pleased that the chavs had inflicted Citeh’s first defeat of the season. After yesterday it’s difficult to imagine how – home advantage, I suppose. How good is it to go up a place in the table without playing? Haha.
  • Liverpool cruised at home against the Cherries, but they tend not to travel well anyway. The two horse title race could be very interesting as it moves towards the turn for home. As long as the outsider in the lilywhite silks doesn’t become involved in the final furlongs, that is.
  • Man U had fun at the cottage – sounds a bit like a Sun headline! The red mancs are like a runaway train at the moment with Pogba free from Maureen’s shackles. Their next three fixtures are PSG at home, the chavs away in the FA Cup, followed by the dippers at home on 24th February ( a game eclipsed by Arsenal v Soton kicking off at the same time, it has to be said). Will these matches slow them down? – we shall see.
  • It’s scary that the spuds are only 5 points off the top. Some on here were saying what great football they’re playing, even comparing them to us in our prime. This is so preposterous. Whenever I’ve seen them ( which is not often as I get an involuntary gag reflex if I see Son dive), they have seemed both lucky and dour. Compared to the attacking prowess of City and Liverpool – nah!
  • What did we learn about Arsenal? Well, not a lot, it has to be said. I guess it’s more of a case of we’re all wondering what will come next more than anything else. Getting some of our top earners out of the sick bay might help. Then again, if they’re not picked to play, what difference will it make?


Huddersfield 1 Arsenal 2 – Player Ratings

February 10, 2019

No Auba or Mesut due to illness and no Rambo with a slight knee.

First Half

Plenty of chances against the bottom team: Laca tackled just as he was about to pull the trigger; Wobbly into the side netting when he should have got his head up.

After a quarter of an hour, a fine cross from Wardrobe allowed Wobbly to expertly cannon a volley off a Huddersfield heel to wrongfoot the keeper and put us one up.

Looking dangerous on the break, we eventually doubled the lead when a driven cross from Maitland-Niles was simply despatched by Lacazette.

Huddersfield huffed and puffed nut were kept at arm’s length. Micki was very good on his return, finding space and using the ball intelligently. Wobbly was also having one of his better games where he looked really dangerous going forward.

Second Half

It’s difficult to say that the second half was comfortable watching.

Aside from a 10 minute spell where we should have got that crucial third goal, It seemed to be a case of holding what we’d got. Huddersfield’s lack of a cutting edge was partly responsible for us looking as though we might keep a clean sheet away from home. Leno did well but bottom of the table finishing was partly responsible for us not conceding earlier in that second period.

Photo by Oli Scarff / AFP / Getty Images

Wardrobe felt sorry for the Terriers in injury time and casually passed into his own net to send the home fans into raptures – their first goal since Adam were a lad.


Three points against the bottom team away from home with a team hit with injuries You can’t really ask for more. Or can you? The gulf in class should have been stamped, double-stamped and triple-stamped. Curiously, the balance of the side was much better in the first half than of recent games.

I didn’t really understand Arsenal’s second half. If Huddersfield had managed to get one back early in the second half would we have just gone up a gear to score a third? I have my doubts.

Maybe the nerves kicked in after such a poor run previously? Maybe the half time team talk was to just try to shut up shop, let the opposition have as much possession as they wished and stay solid?

Either way, it was pretty unconvincing viewing.


Leno – great save early in the second, relatively untroubled by a castrated opponent’s forward line … 7

Mustafi – a liability yet again, some of his passing and decision-making is just shocking … 4

Koscielny – Back in control, definitely one of the classiest players on the pitch – his instant forward pass to Wobbly in the build up to the second goal was excellent … 8

Monreal – struggled manfully as always, let’s hope he stays fit … 7

Maitland-Niles – another ‘chillum in the pocket’ performance, sometimes composed and graceful on the ball, others completely lacking in urgency and nous. You would have thought he would be grabbing the chance to cement a first team spot with both hands and with the utmost eagerness, instead he’s often lackadaisical which is perplexing. Extra point for an assist … 6

Kolasinac – an assist also and he played to his strengths – calves, thighs, shoulders, biceps – shame defending isn’t really his bag … 6

Torreira – Good in the first half, presumably subbed off with a knock? … 6

Guendouzi – I’m still not sure Matteo is a defensive midfielder, but he is still only 19 so maybe even he doesn’t know … 6

Iwobi – dangerous to any defence and to any supporter’s blood pressure. Can be outstanding and then infuriating in the space of ten seconds. Great first half when he looked dangerous. Kept his goal volley down which gains him an extra point … 7

Mkhitaryan – another who had a good first half – lovely to see him breaking the lines, finding space and looking so composed with the ball at his feet – a fine return from injury before understandably fading … 7

Lacazette – I’m sensing a little Wrighty-edge to Laca’s play which I really like, his goal was on a plate but taken with aplomb – love that aggression … 7


Elneny – comical moment when he climbed all over Laca who was waiting for the ball to come down on the edge of the 6 yard box – ran around a lot … 6

Suarez –  on for Micki, didn’t really have a chance to shine again … 6

Willock – time wasting sub


Emery – got the job done which is what we ask of him. I liked the team structure far more than in recent weeks – what did he say at half time though? … 7

Wagner – even he can’t keep them from the drop … 4


Moss – oozing both incompetence and lard from every pore … 2


In Brief: Huddersfield Away.

February 9, 2019

One for Fred:

Huddersfield. Kirklees Stadium.  AW’s last game, a win.

AFC not won in 5 away games. H’field won one of last 12 games. On longest losing run in all 4 leagues.

H’field not scored against AFC in PL. AFC yet to have an away clean sheet in 2018/19.

H’field have 3 Danish players in their squad.


David Wagner.

Ozil? Unlikely. Suarez? Very likely.  Young Greek Bloke/Mustafi?


Important 3 pointer.


Arsenal FC – Why is our away form so poor?

February 8, 2019

GN5’s post yesterday reminded us of our dreadful away form last season, especially in the 2018 calendar year to May when it took that final day of the season victory over Huddersfield to break our duck. Anyway, this set in motion a train of thought about how long our away form has been in decline.

Away games only since 2010

As you can see from the above, our away form ranking was fairly high earlier in the decade; higher in fact than our final League position in many cases. Season 2015/16 was the odd ‘Leicester as champions’ season and our away form ranking was one position lower than our final League position (thanks to the spuds coming third in a two-horse race). 🙂

In season 2016/7 we got pipped to the 4th Champions League place by Liverpool by only one point, came 5th and our away form ranking was 6th.

Joined in August 2016

Last season the slide really began. Finishing in 6th, our away form was disastrous. We ended up 11th best in terms of away form, winning just the 4 games (including that final day win at Huddersfield).

The current season is only 66% complete and we have faced most of the top teams away from home already – so perhaps it is much too early to judge if there’s been an improvement. We currently have a ranking of 9th in terms of away form (having decent home form has kept us in the top 6).

Our points per game averages this season stand at 2.46 at home and 1.25 away, a difference of +1.21 which is the highest in the Premier League (the pesky spuds have the best away form and have actually won more points away than at home – largely thanks to dubious penalties and goals in Fergie time, it has to be said).

Our goals conceded this season stand at 36 with 25 of those coming while on the road, a percentage of 69% – again the highest proportion of away goals in the Premier League.

When Unai Emery joined the Club, he must have looked at last season’s results with dismay. Our away form needed sorting and goals conceded column reducing (though I’m sure Micky will disagree with the latter). Shoring up the defence, getting us to actually defend as a team and plugging the large gaps left for opponents to exploit on the counter (especially behind the full backs),  all must have been priorities.

Some might say that results this season are relatively unimportant as the new manager strives to get the team playing in a new style to his own liking and there is some truth in that suggestion. Unai has tried 4 at the back and a back three with wing backs with varying degrees of success.

It’s true also, that some of these changes have been prompted by our horrendous luck with injuries, Rob Holding really was looking like our number one centre back and with Nacho injured, the Wardrobe at wing back gives us far more confidence than him playing as left back in a four. The double pivot of Xhaka and Terrier appeared to be a successful pairing which was then curiously amended to push our Uruguayan further forward and wider. The need to make early subs at half time has suggested Senor Emery is still trying to find the right formula for a longer term strategy and that he will still make some errors of selection as he beds in.

Our remaining away games this season …..

Huddersfield … 9th February

Spuds …  2nd March (now confirmed as a Wembley fixture)

Wolves … 16th March

Everton …  6th April

Watford …  13th April

Leicester …  27th April

Burnley …   12th May

Perhaps we’ll see a steady improvement in the last 7 away matches and exploit our ‘relatively easy’ run-in. Then again, those West Ham and Southampton defeats are still fresh in the mind. The game at the London Stadium possibly our worst away performance of the season. Perhaps our best performance came at Fulham when a Harlem Globetrotters style exhibition produced magnificent entertainment.

Anyhow, what do you think? What has caused this apparent fragility away from the Emirates?

Will we see our defence start to gel as injured players return and partnerships have a chance to develop, promoting far greater solidity away from home?

Or do we just need to score more at the other end ?  Creating more chances against Huddersfield tomorrow might be a good place to start.