Tag Archives: Premier League

Fans need to be prepared for last minute game changes

Tomorrow we play Brighton. Maybe.

With all the Coronavirus hysteria, things are changing almost hourly.

We could wake up tomorrow to find a decision has bene made to play the game behind closed doors, or that it has been postponed.

Arsenal’s mid-week game against Manchester City was postponed following the Olympiakos owner being tested positive for coronavirus earlier in the week.

This resulted in the self-isolation of anyone that had come into close contact with him within 14 days of the positive test. Numerous Arsenal players and staff members who told to self-isolate, which came to an end yesterday.

According to the BBC, just 5 players went into self-isolation, having been in contact with Evangelos Marinkis in the tunnel after the match. No player was tested.

We are in a fluid situation and things are changing quickly.

Whilst the UK has not followed France and Italy’s lead by banning mass gatherings, it will not be too long until this happens as cases continue to rise.

My advice is do not book trains for away games.

In 9 days time, we play Sheffield United away in the FA Cup. Anyone booking trains now must be prepared to lose the cost of their ticket if the game is postponed, or played behind closed doors.

It might be frustrating, but the train companies have no right to refund people for cancelled events, and clubs also have not liability towards fans who have paid out for trains or hotels.

For the foreseeable, plan to take private transport rather than public.

Get together with your mates and drive to games, or hire a mini bus if there are more than you. Alternatively contact The Mini Bus Crew, they always have seats available.

Staying away from public transport at least means if a game is cancelled, you do not lose the cost of a train ticket. Even f it means driving to a game and not being able to drink.

If you do decide to book trains, flights or hotels, that is your choice. You have accepted the risk. And you can not really moan if you end up losing your money.

Hopefully tomorrow I will be getting on a train to Brighton (will buy train tickets on the day) and the disruption this week does not affect the players too much.

Victory would see us go just 2 points behind Manchester United in 5th.

(Note: This blog was written prior to the Mikel Arteta news)


Arsenal target 15 points from 8 games for top 4 finish

My Arsenal v Manchester United preview spoke about how the result could make or break our challenge for a top 4 place.

The 2-0 victory leaves it very much in Arsenal’s hands to finish top 4.

Prior to the weekend, very few would have thought that Tottenham would have lost to Southampton and Chelsea would have got just 1 point at home to Wolves. But that is what happened.

Prior to the weekend, Chelsea’s game in hand made me fearful. A win would put them 2 points ahead of Arsenal.

Had Arsenal then lost yesterday against Manchester United, it would have left top 4 out of our hands. We would have needed Manchester United to drop 4 more points & Chelsea to drop 3 more points than us in the last 8 games. It would have been an uphill struggle.

But we won, Manchester United lost and Chelsea drew. Also Tottenham lost to Southampton which drags them back into it.

Instead of it being 3 teams fighting for 1 spot and Arsenal being the bottom of those 3, it is now 4 teams fighting for 2 spots and Arsenal have to be favourites.

Even if Chelsea win their game in hand, Arsenal are still 4th. There would be just 3 points covering 3rd to 6th.

The wheels are coming off Tottenham.

Just over 2 weeks ago they were 10 points ahead of Arsenal. They could fall out of the top 4 next weekend if they fail to get a result away to Liverpool.

They are without a win in 4 games, and their only point came courtesy of a 90th minute missed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang penalty.

With games against Liverpool and Manchester City to come and tough home games against West Ham, Everton & Crystal Palace to come, it is hard to see Tottenham getting more than 15 points. That would leave them on 76.

Manchester United are still to face Manchester City and Chelsea at home.

They were on a great run under Ole without really playing a top team. Like Arsenal’s 22 game unbeaten run, it will be interesting to see how they respond. Like Tottenham, they will probably not be too far from the 76 point mark.

Chelsea have the trickiest of run ins, although they do have a game in hand.

They will do well to get points from trips to Manchester United and Liverpool, and also have tricky trips to Leicester and Everton.

Their draw at home to Wolves shows how fragile they are. I think they will struggle to make the 75 point mark.

So that will make it around 75-76 points to finish in the top 4.

Only once in the history of the Premier League has a team amassed 75 points and not made the top 4 – Arsenal in 2016/17.

To put that into perspective, Arsenal finished 2nd the season before with just 71 points.

Arsenal need 15-16 points to finish top 4.

My feeling is 76 will be enough for 4th. Anything above will be enough for 3rd.

The issue Arsenal face is we only have 3 home games left – Newcastle, Crystal Palace & Brighton. We need 9 points from those 9 games.

We have dropped just 7 points at home in the league this season – 5 of which were to Liverpool and Manchester City. It is not unreasonable to expect Arsenal to win all 3 of those games.

It is the 5 away games that will be key.

Arsenal are 9th in the Premier League away table with just 5 wins from 14 games. Although it has to be taken into account that 5 of the 14 away games were against sides in the top 6.

If you take games against the other top sides out of it, our away form reads a lot more favourable:

P 9 W 5 D 2 L 2 Pts 17

If we mimic this form in the 5 remaining away games we should get 9 points. If we add the 9 points from 3 home wins, that would leave us with 78 points in total.

From those 5 games, even if we end with 2 wins and 1 draw, that takes us to 76 points as long as we win those home games.

Ultimately it is winning those home games that is important. Do that and top 4 is ours. Maybe even 3rd.


The Premier League should NOT follow Europe’s lead and re-arrange games prior to European fixtures

There has been a lot of fuss in the news recently abut leagues cancelling weekend games to give their sides more time to prepare for a European tie.

This is not a new thing. Back in the early 2000s, the Portuguese league cancelled a whole host of games for Porto to help them out. They won the Champions League.

In France the game between Rennes and Nimes was postponed. The same happened in Holland for Ajax and in Germany they have moved weekend games to a Friday to give sides an extra day.

With Ajax beating Real Madrid, an argument could be made that moving their domestic game helped them into the Champions League Quarter Finals.

We have had Mauricio Pochettino complain that English teams need more help and games should be re-arranged at late notice.

Despite the obvious benefits of moving a game, I am against the Premier League following suit. Weekend games prior to European games should not be moved.

I go home and away. I have a season ticket for both.

Already match going fans are screwed over left, right and centre by TV companies.

Games are moved at late notice to satisfy Sky Sports or BT Sports, moved to times when fans have little to no chance getting public transport back. The majority of the time we miss out on cheaper train tickets for away games.

The situation is already awful; the Premier League shifting games at even later notice for European football will only make things worse.

It is not just away fans, but also home fans that are affected.

Imagine a scenario where a fan from Norway or America has booked flights and hotels, only for the game to be moved. And even closer to home, fans from Ireland on Newcastle. These guys would have to get flights, trains and hotels for a game in North London.

Even just moving a game backwards a day – from Saturday to Friday – like what has happened in the Bundesliga can create huge ramifications.

Most fans would travel late on Friday (after work) or early Saturday. Bringing it to a Friday evening kick off would mean changing flights, hotels and taking a day off work.

And it is not just Arsenal fans that I am thinking of. It is opposing fans as well.

Look at the situation in France.

The game between Rennes and Nimes was postponed on 25 February. This was 5 days before the game was set to be played.

It did not just create issues for Rennes fans but also for Nimes fans.

It is 480 miles from Nimes to Rennes. Fans of Nimes would have already booked flights and trains for the game. How is it fair on them that the game is cancelled to help out Rennes?

Imagine if Arsenal were at home to Newcastle last Saturday, and the Premier League decided to postpone the game at FIVE days notice. This would be unfair of Newcastle fans.

And then you have when the games are re-arranged too.

The fixtures list is already crowded. Games would have to be rearranged to mid week.

This would mean time off work, hotels, more expensive trains, and even many fans no longer being able to go.

And is it really fair on all sides?

If they are moving an Arsenal game to give more time to prepare for a European tie, should they not do the same for FA Cup replays and mid-week League Cup games. And what about relegation 6 pointers?

Whilst from a “success” point of view moving games does make sense – the weekend break gives teams more time to prepare – the majority of match going fans would not be happy with a game moving at late notice.

Clubs need to do more to look after the interests of match going fans. They are the life blood of the club. Football without fans is nothing. Football is a not a TV show. If leagues start moving games at late notice for European football, it will show that they do not care for match going fans. It will further increase the gap between fans and clubs.

Sides spend millions on wages and have 25-man squads. The more successful a side the better (and more) players they have. It is up to those sides to manage their squads.

Ultimately, when you look at the list of Champions League winners over the last decade, none of been helped by fixtures being re-arranged.

Nimes, PEC Zwolle and PSV Eidenhoven have all questioned the fixtures with Rennes and Ajax being moved and have sought legal action.

Moving fixtures for European football will be just another dagger in the heart for match goings fans.