10 reasons why Arsenal will beat BATE Borisov

Tomorrow we play BATE Borisov at home in the Europa League.

After the absolute shocker of the first leg, which resulted in a 1-0 defeat, Arsenal face an uphill struggle but should still progress in the competition.

One of the delights of the Europa League has been playing a lot of teams who we have not played before, opening up corners of Europe we have never visited. So it was disappointing to be drawn against BATE Borisov for the 2nd time in seasons. Especially after a lot of people who went out to Minsk last season returned saying it was not a great a Euro Away.

Whilst it is an early kick off – 17:55 – the fact it is half term and tickets were as cheap as £5.25 for Junior Gunners should mean it is a capacity crowd with loads of people taking their children.

Then again, we know how some fans moan about ticket prices, but only want to take their kids to the big games. They do not want to do BATE at home in the Europa League or a League Cup game against Blackpool. They only want to go to the big games.

Tomorrow would be an ideal time to take the family (even if it meant sneaking off work an hour early). Sadly some of our fans will turn down the opportunity, only to moan about £64 tickets against Manchester United.

Maybe we should just scrap categorising of tickets, have just Cat B for everyone, then create home credits system rewarding fans who go to BATE Borisov or Blackpool, giving them priority over fans who have not been to a game all season but then want to go to Manchester United?

Rant over. On to the 10 reasons why Arsenal will beat BATE Borisov.

  1. Last season we beat BATE 4 – 2 away and 6 – 0 at home; last weeks 1-0 defeat was a freak result
  2. In that home game, the line up read: Ospina, Debuchy, Chambers, Holding, Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Coquelin, Walcott, Wilshere, Welbeck, Giroud
  3. The team tomorrow should be stronger
  4. BATE Borisov’s have played just once in 2019
  5. Colchester is not exactly the best place for pre-game preparations
  6. With their next domestic game being the Belarusian Super Cup final on 02/03/2019, this is basically a pre-season friendly for them
  7. Online bookmakers have Arsenal as 1/7 favourites
  8. This is the first time BATE Borisov have made it into the Round of 32 since 2010/11
  9. Since then, their record in the Europa League reads P 19 W 5 D 5 L 9
  10. BATE stands for Borisov Automobile and Tractor Electronics. We are literally playing a team of farmers



Serge Gnabry v Reiss Nelson

Last night Serge Gnabry played well for Bayern Munich against Liverpool. This led to the usual rubbish on Twitter every time Gnabry has a good game that is on the tele. Arsenal fans moaning that we should never have let him go.

Let me nip that in the bud.

Arsenal did not let Gnabry go, Gnabry decided to go.

For those who conveniently forget the truth so that they have an excuse to bash the club, let us have a quick recap.

At 18-years-old, Gnabry was playing in his first full of senior football. He played over 460 minutes of Premier League football in the 2014/15 season, finding himself competing with a teenage Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for minutes behind Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez.

He then got injured in March 2014.

He was out for well over a year as Arsenal took their time getting him back to fitness. The club playing the long game, not rushing him back.

In 2015, the club decided to loan him out. He had not played for 18 months and was in need for regular first team football. Arsenal could not give him that week in week out, the hope was WBA would.

He played just 12 minutes of football under Tony Pullis.

So in 2016, he had played 12 minutes of football in 2 and a half years. Arsenal offered him a new contract, but wanted to send him out on loan again, somewhere where he would play. The club knew he needed that game time, and he would return a much better player.

Gnabry turned down the contract as he did not want to go on loan, this in turn forced the club to accept a transfer offer from Werder Breman.

After a year at Breman Gnabry forced through a transfer to Bayern Munich who immediately loaned him out to Hoffenheim.

The fact that in 2017 Munich felt he was not ready to compete for a place in their first time highlights that Arsenal’s decision a year previous was correct.

It took Gnabry two seasons (1 at Breman, 1 at Hoffenheim) to be ready to be a regular member of Bayern Munich’s first team – although this season he has still not been a first team regular for the German giants; starting just 12 of 22 Bundesliga games.

Arsenal’s only big mistake was loaning Gnabry to WBA, where he did not play. And it is something that we have since learned from

Back in 2015, loan moves abroad where not en-vogue in the Premier League; unless you played for Chelsea and got loaned to Vitesse Arnhem.

The Premier League was perhaps a little bit too arrogant and feeling of superiority. That no other league in the world was like it. With its high pace and physical nature. The feeling was young players should be loaned to lower Premier League sides or Championship sides so that they could get used to the physicality of playing with men.

In hindsight, this was wrong, and led to many young skilful players being kicked out of the game. They just did not have a chance to develop their skills.

Clubs like WBA would shun young exciting players who might lose the ball often, but would also win games on their own. Instead they chose journeymen, basic footballers who would make few mistakes. They would line up to not lose games instead of lining up to win them. Preservation was their priority.

Premier League clubs have seemingly learnt that it is better to send out young players, who are slight, skilful and quick, to a league which would promote their talent, not stifle them.

That is why Jadon Sancho moved to Borussia Dortmund instead of staying in the Premier League. And why the likes of Reiss Nelson, Emile Smith Rowe and Ademola Lookman have all spent time in Germany.

Nelson was in a similar position to Gnabry was at Arsenal. In need of game time but was unable to get enough whilst at the club.

In 2015 we sent Gnabry to WBA, in 2018 we sent Nelson to Hoffenheim.

Interestingly Hoffenheim was where Bayern Munich sent Gnabry when they felt he was still not ready for first team football.

If sending players to Germany was popular back in 2015; I am sure Arsenal would have considered sending Gnabry on loan back to his home country – even on loan to Werder Breman.

In 2016 he would have had a full season under his belt, a 2-years left on his contract, and would have gone on to play 30+ games in Arsenal in 2016/17. Instead we lost him.

What is interesting is that at the age of 19, Nelson and Gnabry had the same situation facing them.

Both were 19-years-old
Both had one year left on their contract with Arsenal
Both had a contract offer on the table
Both were told that the plan was to send them out on loan for a season

Nelson signed, Gnabry didn’t. and the rest is history.


German fans lead way in protest against fixtures moved for TV

German football fans stick up for themselves right.

I have recently spoken about how the globalisation of football has killed it for local fans.

As the Premier League and clubs within it began to chase ever increasing revenues, they neglected the local fans whilst building their global brands.

Ticket prices increased dramatically after the creation of the Premier League as clubs attracted more and more day trippers. People that would happily pay £100 to go to a single game, spend another £100 in the club shop, then go and visit Big Ben.

They got in bed with travel companies who sold “flight, hotel and ticket” packages to Americans, Chinese and anyone else that was happy paying above face value. Rumours circulated a couple of seasons ago that Arsenal had sold 150 tickets for Manchester United away to a travel company who then sold them to Chinese tourists – allowing them to jump ahead in the queue above fans who had spent years building up their credits.

You then have kick off times.

Games are now spread over a weekend so that TV companies can put on as many games as possible. They start on a Friday night, finish on a Monday night. The TV companies show little regard for whether match going fans can or can not get home. They are only concerned about maximising viewership for TV audiences in the UK and abroad.

The FA Cup was wrecked this weekend as the 8 games took place at 8 different times – with just one at 3pm Saturday.

We had Derby travelling to Brighton for a 12:30 kick off on Saturday, then Manchester United travelling to Chelsea for an evening kick off last night.

People talk about the magic of the FA Cup dying, but the FA are selling out to TV companies for money.

In April Newcastle travel down to London to face Arsenal on a Monday night. It will be their 3rd Monday night away game of the season.

The fact that the Premier League do not instruct TV companies to take match going fans travel into consideration when scheduling games shows that the TV money is more important to them then the fans that go. Remember, football is not a TV show, and without fans, football is nothing.

I do have to agree with Tim Stillman over at Arseblog when he says that whilst the globalisation of football has had negative implications, many local fans are complicate.

The foreign TV deal is huge – £3.2bn between 2016-2019, but the British TV out strips that over the same period – £5.14bn.

Local fans will happily moan online about fixtures being moved, but they will happily pay £80 for their Sky Sports subscription and watch Monday night football.

If it was them travelling away to Newcastle on a Monday night, they would be getting angry on Twitter. But when it is Newcastle travelling to Manchester United, they will sit in front of their TV with a curry and a few beers.

Whilst a lot of fans will complain about rising ticket prices, many others will pick and choose their game.

At Arsenal, Cat A fixtures sell out quicker than Cat C, despite them being 3 times. You have fans who will buy tickets for the big games (and moan about the price) but then not go to the smaller games. They pick and choose. And the higher demand will just encourage clubs to keep putting ticket prices up.

The problem is the majority of fans are happy to sit on their hands and not care.

Over in Germany, fans have constantly protested about Monday night games.

A four-year deal TV worth £4.07billion, which started in 2017-18 and included five Monday night matches a season.

Last night we saw Borussia Dortmund fans throwing tennis balls onto the pitch in one of many protests by fans across the country against the Monday night games.

These protests the German Football League to renegotiate the TV deal – with it now ending in 2020 – removing the Monday night games. Supporters’ groups have hailed it as a victory for fan power.

In England we have had some minor success.

The likes of Arsenal’s Blackscarf Movement joined supporters groups from other clubs in protests which led to a £30 cap on away tickets.

Fans across the country need to keep doing more, however. They need to remind clubs that it is the match going fans that are most important. That their clubs should be sticking up for them against the Premier League, against the TV companies.

Unfortunately until we see mass action from all clubs like we have seen in Germany, the Premier League and its member clubs will continue chasing revenue from around the globe regardless of the negative implications on match going fans.

How long until a European Super League is formed, with games held around the globe? That will truly be the death of clubs being the centre of their community, truly be the death of the game for local fans.

In other news this morning, Saido Berahino.

Has their been a bigger waste of talent then the Englishman – maybe Jermaine Pennant.

In an era where we are seeing young English players pushing themselves, moving abroad, taking moves abroad to play football, Berahino is a throw back to the Baby Bentley years of young players with poor attitudes getting too much money too young.

Last night Berahino was arrested at 3am in Central London.

“When officers arrived on scene a car was seen to drive away at speed,” a Metropolitan Police statement said.

“The car was stopped in Bedford Square and a 25-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving.”

Scotland Yard said Berahino told officers he had been the victim of a robbery in Great Russell Street.

“He alleged a group of males surrounded his car in Great Russell Street and attacked him, stealing his watch,” the force said.

In 2015 Tottenham had a £15million bid for Berahino rejected by WBA, who valued him at £25million. Spurs wanted him as competition for Harry Kane – who had just one season as Tottenham’s first choice striker under his belt.

At that point, both players were at a similar level. Both 22-years-old with one proper season in the Premier League under their belt. Berahino the more naturally gifted of the two.

Since then, Kane has gone from strength to strength becoming one of the best strikers in world football -scoring 124 goals from 2015 to now. Berhaino’s career has been a car crash with a move to Stoke and various arrests for drink driving. He has scored just 12 goals in 4-years.

Saido Berahino highlights a lot of what is wrong with the modern game. He has become a millionaire by not doing very much, and still has 3 years on a £70,000-a-yar deal. By the time his contract expires, he would have earned over £18million from a club who are struggling financially.

The sad thing is if Stoke City cancelled Berahino’s contract tomorrow, there will be queue of clubs happy to pick up his wages. He will end up retiring at 30-years-old having earned millions from football, whilst not really achieving anything or caring for any of the clubs or fans he is supposed to represent.

A bit like how nothing will change in football if fans do not get together, clubs should do the same. Blacklist people like Berahino. Do not give him another chance. Tell him his kind is no longer wanted in the game.

Anyway, that is today’s musings.