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Arsenal vs Watford match preview

SAKA_0

After 11-and-a-half months it’s finally the last round of Premier League fixtures on the 2019/20 calendar, with Arsenal hosting Watford at the Emirates Stadium.

The Hornets are staring down the barrel, needing at least a draw to have an outside chance of avoiding relegation, whereas the Gunners come into this match on the back of a shock 1-0 loss to Aston Villa.

Good day one all.

Arsenal has been very hit and miss in recent weeks; notable wins over Wolves and Liverpool in the league was followed by a superb FA Cup victory against Man City, but defeats either side of The Reds clash have left us 10th-place in the league table.

Of course, it’s disappointing but we also shouldn’t ignore that we are in a period of transition since Mikel Arteta walked through the door mid-season. However, with next weekend’s FA Cup final against Chelsea still offering a shot at redemption, we simply cannot go into that match on the back of successive defeats.

As luck would have it… Watford come into this game having lost each of their last five games on the road across all competitions.

An incredible 3-0 victory over league champions Liverpool on 29 February, ending their then unbeaten league run, hasn’t given the visitors the boost they thought it would, as they won only two of their nine matches since (D1, L5). Nigel Pearson was dismissed just two days prior to their 4-0 trashing at the hands of Man City in midweek because of that failure.

If they are to dodge the relegation trapdoor then simply beating the Gunners may not be good enough, as they would also need the misfortune of Villa who will be equally desperate for a win against a West Ham team, that may already be on the beach. Not a great position for Watford to be in, but caretaker coach Hayden Mullins will be expecting from them to at least hold their end up.

Team news

With six days between today’s game and the FA Cup final, Mikel could field a strong XI, considering he already made six changes for the Villa game. Skhodran Mustafi, of course, is out injured so Rob Holding could come into the side alongside David Luiz and Kieran Tierney.

I think the toughest decision to be made concerns Ainsley Maitland-Niles. He was on the outside of the team but hugely impressed versus City, so whether he would make way for our new number 7, Bukayo Saka, will be telling this afternoon.

Prediction

With Arsenal’s incredible home record since the start of the year, this fixture is perhaps not as daunting on the face. But Watford is such a petty side that if they feel they really are getting relegated, this match has the potential to get real ugly.

Be that as it may, hopefully we remind Troy Deeney just how big our cojones and send them packing to the Championship with a “you’re welcome” parting shot.

COYG!

@LaboGoon

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69 comments on “Arsenal vs Watford match preview

  1. A nice scene-setter for the final PL game of the season. With Watford battling for survival against a side for whom there is little merit in participating in a blood bath, I suspect a true ‘upset’ would be an Arsenal win! I just don’t see anyone wanting to risk their place in the FA Cup final through injury or exhaustion. An interesting afternoon awaits.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. we will it seems wear next seasons home kit today

    I see some say AFC have nothing at stake, well a win could mean as much as £5.4M more in league placement money, surely in a climate where our players took a pay cut to finish the league, then this should not be sniffed at. Also I would say better to go into the FA Cup final on the back of a win than with a defeat that would of course see Troy Deeney make nasty remarks about us again.

    In Wenger’s time here we would often on the last game of the season see an Academy lad or two make their debut, might we see Matt Smith get his today, Trae Coyle has also trained with the first team since the restart, so he too might see some minutes, as might Zech Medley, think if he does it would be his EPL debut, he has played in the EL a few times.

    The biggest question is will we see Mesut Ozil start, will he even be in the 20 man squad. He has trained fully for nearly 2 weeks now, if he don’t play today then I fear we’ve seen the last of him at AFC.
    Leno is back fit so that might very well see Macey drop from the squad, it might even see Martinez drop from the team, he would be unfortunate to do so, but if Arteta has a first choice keeper he has to play him, both today and in the Cup Final.

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  3. Thanks Labo, this game could actually be more difficult than some may imagine, just hope our key players can come through unscathed for next weekend, and in a position to bring a successful end to a very challenging season, albeit one with plenty glimmers of hope in the shape of some excellent youngsters, some senior players now playing rather well under an innovative young manager.
    Will be interesting to see who gets picked today.
    On another note, will be watching the Utd vs Leicester game with some interest, tough one for the PGMOL, Certainly two of the more favoured teams in recent years, UA recently devoted an article to what LCFC get away with, with absolute minimal cards, and Utd…well, we know… but suspect Riley knows what to do in that one if needed
    Would be nice to see something demoralising happen to Chelsea

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  4. Quite simply COYG

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  5. Has to be a pen on Laca

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  6. They tried everything not to award it.

    But good decision.

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  7. As I was saying, never in doubt (ahem).

    3-0.

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  8. The difference in speed between when the ref calls fouls for them than against them is clear for everyone to see.

    He couldn’t wait to give that pen.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Phew.

    Hope we are way better at Wembley.

    Can’t let Chelsea take another title away from us 2 years in a row.

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  10. Sterling’s foul did Mustafi good and proper then. Pulled the tendon off the bone in his hamstring. Won’t be back for start of next season. Think our former youngster Mavididi had that one and was out for many months. Think it was injury that caused Paul O’Connell to call it a day as well (though he was older and body had really been in wars)

    Convinced he meant it. Convinced replay showed pretty clearly him driving his knee into Musti’s thigh, after studding him, while comms talked as though the injury was somehow mysterious.

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  11. Well the game at least ended up as I anticipated it starting – a desperate Watford giving it their all against an Arsenal side with one foot on the Wembley turf …

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  12. we are going to miss Mustafi in the final, what a player he has been for us under Arteta, to me at least, he ranks up with Xhaka and Martinez these days, high praise indeed.
    Not at our best today, perhaps a little lucky to hold out, you could just see what Dean was itching to do.
    Need to improve next weekend Arteta says they will, good enough for me
    Will be great to say goodbye to a pretty unpleasant season on a high.
    Next season may bring better, the team will progress, Riley losing his, or his masters unique imprint on VAR , and Dean, Taylor and Atkinson another year closer to retirement, just another twenty years or so to put up with them left now

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  13. To me,it’s very worrying when your goalkeeper is the best player in a team,Leno was before his injury, and to be fair Martinez has also been outstanding.
    Out of the outfield players, Xhaka has been outstanding, Mustafi too mostly – as for the rest, it’s like Forrest Gumps box of chocolates,you never know what you will get.
    Let’s hope next week is more hazelnut whirl than coffee cream !

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  14. Transfer story of the day, Barcelona have offered two options to Arsenal: Philippe Coutinhofor for Mattéo Guendouzi and €50M. Or a swap deal of Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitić for Guendouzi

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  15. Our midfield was as uncreative as we have come to expect.

    However, it was up to Watford to take the initiative, and for our players to remain uninjured, so mission accomplished.

    I cannot believe that we can get say with that against Chel$ki especially with our old mate Giroud on fire.

    Maybe Arteta has something up his sleeve.

    I certainly hope so.

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  16. I suspect Arteta might well have something up his sleeve.
    Seems lately, we get results against the bigger teams
    That said, a shame we sold OG to them, and an even bigger shame Taylor is refereeing the final

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  17. Well we finished eighth which isn’t great and is mid table. Apparently according to some finishing sixth before Wenger’s time was considered mid table. I think my understanding of that term is different or maybe that’s the narrative some adopt to make Wenger seem otherworldly. Wenger was an amazing manager but let’s recall we didn’t do too badly before his arrival. Now we move on and I hope we can squash Chelsea in the final. Is there a more deplorable club in existence? Built on lousy corrupt Russian money, ugh!

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  18. All we need folks to get back to CL days is to understand the old pen-winning and not-conceding business

    Since 2008-9 our stats are. 55 for 71 against (-16). While Utd’s are 80 for 39 against (+41). Difference of 57!

    Something to do with us not attacking right during that time and, obviously, not defending right either. There must be a way, maybe bring in one of these ultra competitive defenders who have played for years at one of the clubs who do well with pens…

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  19. 2008..those penalty stats for us and Utd roughly coincide with the date Riley was made head of the PGMOL. We generally had a positive pen balance before that. Coincidence?

    Liked by 1 person

  20. “we didn’t do to badly before Wenger’s arrival”
    Both in terms of style and results Arsene was way out in front, his two decades are the most consistent in our history and the only decade that was better in terms of titles was when we were known as the bank of England club.
    Please don’t try and pretend we were constantly in the top four for any long period before Arsene arrived apart from the 30’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Apart from the trophies, the major difference between pre- Wenger and whilst we were lucky to have him as our manager, was that the style of play was exciting and interesting even to non-supporters.

    How many non-supporters would have been interested to watch us play under Emrry or even now under Arteta.

    Perhaps in Arteta’s defence, we can say that he is concentrating on defence and getting that right before moving forward but even now, after more than 20 games, we’re so susceptible to crosses and quick attackers and giving away soft penalties.

    I’m sorry but you cannot always blame it on the refs.

    I really do think that we are simply going to have to get used to mediocre mid-table stuff for the foreseeable future, whoever we might buy.

    I’m sure we will all manage.

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  22. Eduardo – I meant to say how interested I found your description of the short form of tennis you are now playing is. The over-reliance on stats is particularly intriguing.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I think Arteta means to have us playing good , attacking football, witness his recent comments about a lack of the so called diminutive playmakers , he went on to mention several from the Wenger era. I loved watching those players, and for the general lack of protection and injuries these types sustained, I’m afraid I do blame the refs for this, and other abandonments of the rules and principles of the game under Riley. I also admire these players bravery in facing what they did, having seen what happened to the likes of Ramsey, Eduardo, Diaby, Wilshere to name but a few.
    It seems Pepe is now regularly on the end of assaults of the type these players endured, pretty rare anyone kicking him ever gets carded, in stark contrast to some of the “ infringements” that see our players cautioned, or worse.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Certain teams were dealt a bad hand by lockdown and that obviously included us. Consistency before the enforced break was replaced by the box of chocolates variety after.
    Put that up against teams likes spuds who season has been saved by the break in terms of injuries and form and may of even saved Maureen’s job.
    So when you look at our eighth place finish you have to apply the unique mitigating circumstances that no team have ever had to deal with before. The old adage of the league table doesn’t lie might just be wrong this year.
    Wolves, manure, city might have done worse had they had Europe as well as the league to deal with. Maybe the three relegated teams would be different had the break not changed things. It would be interesting to see stats before and after the break and the estimated league table but I believe we would have got fifth or sixth and certainly the spuds and manure would have finished much further down and Leicester would have been playing Champions League football next year.
    The first derby at the toilet stadium would have resulted in an ARSENAL victory and like I say Maureen would have gone.
    We have recently seen some awful games from us which makes me worry about the final however as far as next year is concerned I believe the steady progress we were seeing earlier will continue both in style and tesults.
    The curve has started to rise again.

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  25. Amazing how Utd are at the top of so many such metrics, Leicester often not so far behind

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  26. Just the way they play you understand, nothing more than that obviously.

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  27. Hi George I’ve lost a post can you check the bin

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  28. Article today says FA were blocked from appointing Paul Elliott to their board by Premier League, with EFL saying they were sympathetic to it but wouldn’t go against prem.

    Certainly seems bad optics when you’ve been supporting BLM for weeks but thwart FA’s aim to make board more inclusive. Apparent reason is they were happy with reforms to board of 2017, which seems weak. Two from board offered to move aside to make room.

    Reminder though where the power lies. See so many call out FA for stuff pgmol does when I am pretty sure it’s virtually all prem. Didn’t know the hold extended to FA board though.

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  29. Wonder if the PGMOL will look at developing some no doubt young and promising BAME refs, or in fact, just any young and promising refs, rather than the current compromised, corruptible, and compliant crop of middle aged white guys

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  30. Okonkwo, Balogun and Sheaf involved as Arsenal U23s return to training
    by jeorge bird

    Arsenal U23s have returned to training at London Colney, with Arthur Okonkwo amongst those involved.

    The talented goalkeeper hasn’t played for a year for personal reasons but is now closing in on a return to action.

    Striker Folarin Balogun, whose future at the club remains unresolved, was also present along with Ben Sheaf, who is back from a loan spell at Doncaster Rovers.

    Tyreece John-Jules also trained having returned from a loan spell at Lincoln, during which he suffered an injury.

    Another returning loanee, Jordi Osei-Tutu, took part along with Sam Greenwood and Mark McGuinness, with the latter fit again after injury.

    Tolaji Bola, Joel Lopez, Jordan McEneff, Ben Cottrell and goalkeeper Tom Smith were all involved.

    Highly-rated midfielders Miguel Azeez and Catalin Cirjan were amongst some of the younger players who took part. Alex Kirk, Daniel Oyegoke and Mazeed Ogungbo also fell into that category.

    Ryan Alebiosu, who was offered a professional contract by Arsenal, trained with the squad along with Alfie Matthews, whose future at the club remains uncertain.

    Matt Smith, Zech Medley, Trae Coyle, Daniel Ballard, Harry Clarke, Zak Swanson and Karl Hein are continuing to train with the first-team squad, while James Hillson is currently in France.

    James Olayinka and Deyan Iliev, who recently finished loan spells, weren’t pictured in training. Joseph Olowu remains on loan at Cork City until October.

    It appears that number 48 is being kept free for George Lewis, with the winger’s move to the club not yet officially announced.

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  31. Okonkwo, Balogun and Sheaf involved as Arsenal U23s return to training

    Arsenal U23s have returned to training at London Colney, with Arthur Okonkwo amongst those involved.

    The talented goalkeeper hasn’t played for a year for personal reasons but is now closing in on a return to action.

    Striker Folarin Balogun, whose future at the club remains unresolved, was also present along with Ben Sheaf, who is back from a loan spell at Doncaster Rovers.

    Tyreece John-Jules also trained having returned from a loan spell at Lincoln, during which he suffered an injury.

    Another returning loanee, Jordi Osei-Tutu, took part along with Sam Greenwood and Mark McGuinness, with the latter fit again after injury.

    Tolaji Bola, Joel Lopez, Jordan McEneff, Ben Cottrell and goalkeeper Tom Smith were all involved.

    Highly-rated midfielders Miguel Azeez and Catalin Cirjan were amongst some of the younger players who took part. Alex Kirk, Daniel Oyegoke and Mazeed Ogungbo also fell into that category.

    Ryan Alebiosu, who was offered a professional contract by Arsenal, trained with the squad along with Alfie Matthews, whose future at the club remains uncertain.

    Matt Smith, Zech Medley, Trae Coyle, Daniel Ballard, Harry Clarke, Zak Swanson and Karl Hein are continuing to train with the first-team squad, while James Hillson is currently in France.

    James Olayinka and Deyan Iliev, who recently finished loan spells, weren’t pictured in training. Joseph Olowu remains on loan at Cork City until October.

    It appears that number 48 is being kept free for George Lewis, with the winger’s move to the club not yet officially announced.

    Like

  32. Updated information on our current injuries and suspensions ahead of the Heads Up FA Cup Final on Saturday.

    Hector Bellerin

    Left out of squad on Sunday as a precaution due to tightness in right calf.

    Hector has resumed training with the squad.

    Bernd Leno

    Right knee. Sustained moderate ligament sprain during Brighton & Hove Albion (a) on June 20.

    Now participating in outside running and ball drills.

    Aiming to be back in full training this week.

    Shkodran Mustafi

    Right hamstring injury sustained during Emirates FA Cup semi-final on July 18. Further assessments during the week identified a significant injury to the right hamstring.

    As a result, Shkodran had a successful small procedure to his right hamstring on Saturday.

    Shkodran is now in the early stages of his recovery and rehabilitation, receiving specialist attention and support from our medical team.

    Aiming to return to full training in October.

    A further update on the following players with longer term injuries:

    Calum Chambers

    Left knee. Ruptured anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee during Chelsea (h) on December 29.

    Latest update on Calum:

    Progressed to the next stage of his recovery and is now running and integrating outside with light ball work
    Will continue to work hard throughout the new close season period with the aim of being back to full training as soon as possible this calendar year

    Pablo Mari

    Left ankle. Sustained significant sprain to ankle ligaments during Manchester City (a) on June 17.

    Latest update on Pablo:

    Now off crutches after surgery and moving freely without aid
    Has returned home to Spain for a short period, where he continues to receive specialist attention and extensive therapy
    Due to return to the UK in August to resume his rehabilitation at our training centre throughout the new close season, with the aim of returning to full training in September

    Gabriel Martinelli

    Left knee. Sustained injury during training on June 21. Successful arthroscopic procedure undertaken to repair a lesion in the cartilage of the left knee.

    Latest update on Gabi:

    Currently recovering in a knee brace after his operation, which took place during the last week of June
    Surgery was successful, with consultants and the Arsenal medical team very encouraged with Gabi’s current progress at this stage of his recovery
    Currently at our training centre every day receiving specialist attention and support from our medical team
    Will continue his recovery throughout the new close season period, with the aim of a return to full training by the end of the calendar year

    As part of Premier League protocol, all members of our first team squad and support staff continue to be regularly tested for COVID-19.

    Copyright 2020 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source.

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  33. That’s a horrendous amount of serious injuries

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  34. AFCMikel
    @AFCPW
    In seven seasons 85 Hale End products have joined Arsenal as scholars and 80 of them, or 94%, are now professional footballers with Arsenal or other clubs.

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  35. Brentford 3-1 Swansea, (agg. 3-2)

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  36. from our 2017 FA Cup Final winning team only 4 players are available for selection for Saturday’s cup final, Bellerin, Holding, Xhaka and Ozil, and there is real doubt about Ozil even making the squad
    Of the rest of the 18 man squad that day, Mertesacker is now Head of our Academy, and Elneny is the only other player still contracted to the club. Giroud is now likely to play in the final for Chelsea

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  37. David Luiz who played in that final for Chelsea is almost certain to play for us this time around

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  38. well guys who do you think will be in our 20 man squad for the FA Cup Final,

    will the returning Leno now come in for Macey as back up keeper to Martinez – I would expect so

    Will either Guendouzi or Ozil make the 20, – I really doubt it

    Matt Smith has been an unused sub in recent games, will he keep his place in the 20 – certainly

    Will with our injuries at CB include one of Medley, Ballard or Clarke – possible, for me it all depends will he go for Ballard or Clarke as they are right footed CB’s, over including one of Ozil or Guendouzi

    below I name 19 players that I would fully expect to see in our squad on Saturday, who will be the man to make up the 20, I really hope its Ozil, but if he is persona non grata then I would like to see Ballard make the squad, although Clarke being able to play right back or CM might see him get the spot.

    1 Martinez
    2 Leno
    3 Bellerin
    4 David Luiz
    5 Tierney
    6 Kolasinac
    7 Holding
    8 Maitland-Niles
    9 Xhaka
    10 Ceballos
    11 Saka
    12 Pepe
    13 Nelson
    14 Aubameyang
    15 Lacazette
    16 Nketiah
    17 Smith
    18 Willock
    19 Torreira

    is there someone I’ve failed to include in that squad

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  39. Imagine our squad on Saturday including Smith and Ballard but not Guedouzi or Ozil

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  40. Arteta has told Bein Sport that he will be adding to his coaching staff in the off season

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  41. just realized I left out Sokratis so our 20 man squad is likely to be

    Martinez Leno
    Bellerin David Luiz Tierney Kolasinac Holding Sokratis Saka
    Maitland-Niles Smith Willock Torreira Xhaka Ceballos
    Pepe Nelson Aubameyang Lacazette Nketiah

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  42. Ozil’s agent Erkut Sogut: “I do not think there will be a change in the case of Mesut Ozil until the summer of 2021. There is a 90% chance that he will leave Arsenal in 2021”

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  43. Man City signing Nathan Ake from Bournemouth

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  44. Thinking about the old pen stats/situation yesterday. Pepe last year had 9 league pens to his tally. Lacazette had 10 league pens to his in his final year in France.

    If our decision makers don’t make adjustments to these figures, with us not getting five most seasons, that’s a pretty big error.

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  45. Opens up thinking about what we as club make of our wretched figures, the pens are the headline act but across the board they are terrible. It’s gone on long enough that it should be major feature of calculations for signing- Zaha, for instance, with very few pens, less free kicks, more getting kicked, more diving criticism…hmmm.

    Thing is, if you are that far down the road that you should be thinking like that, well, shouldn’t you be racking your brains fro drastic action against source of problem?

    Fascinates me to know whether there is acceptance of an issue or not, or even denial, supposing it could be as unthinkable to people in the game as it apparently is to press.

    The Pepe figure for a player on the up, skilful, 22 goals ten assists…what if you take away say 6 or 7 or those goals, maybe 3-5 assists as well if he was winning pens…?

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  46. There could be denial at some of these figures at the club , though I doubt if that would extend to ex pros Edu and Arteta, or a wily old cynic like Raul. Can only assume owners passivity, or perhaps the club don’t know how to take it on, for some reason are wary of taking it on, possibly having calculated its not worth it, or perhaps know things behind the scenes that we don’t and are keeping their powder dry, possibly Wenger/ Collina bringing things into line? I do wonder if Infantini is charged with corruption, someone like Wenger might assume quite a lot of power to clean things up from the very top, and can think of no better person to do so.
    What has been going on in this league, whether it is helping certain teams to enhance the brand, Looking after mates, regional bias, or people making personal gain, its nothing short of matchfixing
    Lots of rumours about Zaha but he would get more red cards than Luiz if he came to this club

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  47. https://www.myfootballfacts.com/premier-league/all-time-premier-league/premier-league-penalty-statistics/

    According to this, Arsenal, and Norwich have the worst penalty balance in the EPL, minus 5 for both teams, Utd have plus 11.
    So I think that’s top for yellows, top for reds and worst penalty balance. I also suspect we are right at the top, or very close on serious injuries to players.
    Despite what I put in the most recent post, the club bloody well should be taking this further, first and foremost, to protect the players.
    Things on the refereeing front have actually got even worse since Wenger left

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  48. Mandy, in a strange way it’s almost reassuring, or something, that they haven’t suddenly started treating us better after Wenger’s departure.

    That would suggest it’s not all personal, or based on some bizarre hatred Wenger engendered (just by being a good guy in a dirty game, and foreign to boot!), focused almost entirely on him.

    That leaves us, I suppose, with the possibility it’s just business, or the dislike which grew with Wenger as our figurehead hasn’t dissipated any with him gone. Or a combo. More favoured teams than there are CL spots, for one.

    Anyway, it isn’t or wasn’t purely some personal thing against Wenger. Which is reassuring, or something.

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  49. so its Fulham or Brentford in the EPL next season

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