November blues

Welcome to November or as Arsene Wenger sometimes calls it “Mars Bars” – on account of all the leftover Halloween candy that his players eat on the bus.*

November is the month which Arsenal traditionally take the fewest points per game (in Premier League play only). I don’t know the exact number (1.58?) because it’s an unimportant stat. It’s like one of those “Huddersfield hasn’t beaten Arsenal at home since 1921” stats: utterly meaningless because it’s not like the same players have been playing one another for the last 100 years.

Breaking with tradition I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the ignominious November record will be smashed to pieces! Arsenal face Man City, Tottenham, Burnley, and Huddersfield and while the average fan thinks that’s a tough schedule I can see the Gunners getting 7 points there, which will take our PPG to 1.75!

Seriously, the whole “month points” thing is as ridiculous as the now-annual “Arsenal would have won the League if the League was held from January to January” thing. The League isn’t contested from January to January and if it were I doubt Arsenal would have gotten so many easy points in the spring. Also, that would be a really long season. And it would be utterly nuts to have a summer break – though it would give Arsene a great excuse not to buy any players.

But Arsenal kick off November in the Europa League, hosting Red Star Instant Yeast on Thursday before making the long trip to Manchester to face the only team that is actually in Manchester, Man City. After that we get another internationalism break – which will give us all time to contemplate the impending end of humanity while we waive colorful pieces of cloth and pretend that we are special due to the utterly random longitude and latitude of our birth. I was born 39th parallel north and I have great pride in my 39th parallelness. I can’t stand those 40th parallel north people and how they are all “yah sure you betcha” while eating jellied fish or whatever they do up there.

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, Europa League. Tell me you don’t love the Europa League? Seriously. Wenger is playing a bunch of youngsters, the opposition fans are.. colorfully rowdy, and the games are as unpredictable as riding a bull. I love seeing Jack Wilshere and Ainsley Maitland-Niles play – or Joe Willock and Freddie Nketiah. Strap me in coach, I’m hanging on for this wild ride!

If you have 12 minutes today please watch Arsene Wenger’s pre-match presser with Rob Holding. It’s great fun. Especially the part where Wenger says that this is the most unified and focused squad he’s ever worked with. You know that he’s not lying because he follows that up with “I am really honest when I say that. You cannot say that any player, in any competition, has gone a little bit easy. the focus of the team has always been exceptional.”

I mean, maybe the team is unified and hungry, he’s hungry – he tells us that literally every day, and I have no reason to dispute the claim. I do, however, think that maybe, just perhaps, a little bit, the game against Liverpool wasn’t completely, you know, unified, focused, and with 100% all the players giving everything to the team. I don’t want to just complain or bring up old wounds, nor do I want to get into that whole “body language” thing, but that Liverpool match was about as disjointed and half-arsed a performance as I have seen from an Arsene Wenger team. But hey, he’s the one in the locker room not me so I’ll take his word for it.

Anyway, there’s a big match today between Tottenham and Real Madrid and the predictron gives a slight edge to Real Madrid. I’m calling it a close win for the Spaniards. By the way, the predictron went 0-3 on Sunday and despite the name this formula is kind of unpredictable right now. I think it’s because this season’s data set is soooo small and wild variations occur among player stats. For example, Alexis is polling quite low at the moment because he’s not finishing at the rate we expect from a top striker (17%). But if he scores a couple of goals over the next few weeks, his rating will go way back up, which will (in turn) increase the likelihood that the predictron will predict a win for Arsenal. That’s a bit of a glimpse into how that works!

Right, well, here’s to an easy win by Real Madrid over Tottenham Hotspurs in total defiance of mt model! See you all tomorrow.

*No professional athletes eat candy these days. As an aside, I looked at my bag of leftover chocolates from Halloween and wanted to know which one had the fewest calories per gram. It’s York Peppermint Patties at just 3.7 cals/gram. Most of the others have well over 4.5 calories per gram and several of them were 5 calories per gram. Twix was a surprise at 5 calories per gram. They always seemed lighter to me!



  1. I purposefully gave out more Reese’s Pieces last night so that I’d have more of the Kit Kats for myself today. Hahaha! Stupid kids. Jokes on them! Sure, they got for free the candy that I bought, but…never mind.

  2. Spuds beat Real! Shocking and impressive.

    I only watched highlights, but I particularly like how the announcer said “They might have been offside, but they deserved this.” Then the replay shows that both Trippier and Alli were offside.

  3. Hate to say it, but the Totts turned up tonight and fully deserved their win.
    I’m enjoying the Europa as well: it’s a bit Caraboa Cup in that the stakes are so relaxingly lower. That said, it looks like we’re going to be joined by Athletico, Dortmund and Napoli in the later stages, which will make it a serious event.

  4. Bad news, Spurs beat Madrid.

    Good news, they don’t have a hope in hell of keeping Pocchetino after this.

    1. Definitely. But they also got ridiculously lucky that Alli and especially Kane turned out to be as good as they are.

    2. Just step back for a bit and tell me, apart from beating Real Madrid yesterday, what have Spurs done that makes them such a good and well managed club? A better club? Good for them and all, but the very same results for Arsenal were what led to Wenger being treated as an abject failure, and where everything about him is questioned. I mean people can actually with all seriousness claim that Wenger doesn’t even coach his players. But somehow he just happened to achieve the very same things that Pochettino gets all the plaudits for. The assumption that because Spurs are on the up and we’ve been unable to climb the final step, now means they have overtaken us as a club, to me is just…well…premature.

      I know it’s not quite the same as Liverpool’s come back when you have 19 titles, but until Spurs get something more to show for their troubles than a magical CL night and collapses in the league (and not ref induced ones at that) I fail to see how the same fans who say we have been terrible, can say Spurs are fantastic. Can you tell me how long Spurs’ trophy drought is right now? And their manager can openly discredit trophies too and still be a hero, when of course Wenger couldn’t even list coming 4th on his list of priorities.

      Spurs have better (or more hungry) fans because their last truly good team was almost 60 years ago, instead of a team for the ages only a few years removed. Maybe that makes them a better club. ( and yes, I went there)

      1. Here are the small differences that matter for some Arsenal fans: 1. Spurs were in the title race in the past two seasons until April, a feat the Gunners haven’t achieved for ages; 2. Spurs are improving while the Gunners are regressing. Before Pochettino, it was 5th place at best, with the occasional 4th place in 2010 and 2012 (but it was still St Totteringham’s Day), now Spurs are constantly in the Top 4. As you know, Arsenal finished last season outside the Top 4 for the 1st time under Wenger. Another 5th or 6th-place finish, and Arsenal will become the new Tottenham (i.e. perennial subscription to Europa League football); 3. Spurs are doing better in the league while spending less money than Arsenal; 4. Spurs keep their best players while we don’t. And when a key player leaves (Walker), they already have a replacement or two (Trippier, Aurier). Where’s the replacement for Ozil, Sanchez, Mertesacker or Cazorla?

        1. Yes Spurs are on the up right now, and maybe we’re in decline, though I’m not so sure about that. But Spurs and their manager are getting massive love/credit/respect from the very same Arsenal fans who treat Arsenal achieving (in the past) what Spurs are doing now as failure and Wenger treated as an old has-been football manager.

          Spurs deserve credit for what they’ve done. I just don’t see why that credit can be so easily given to what are supposedly our rivals, but so vehemently denied to our own.

      2. So, Shard, you’re saying I ejaculated prematurely? Man, I miss the nineteenth-century linguistic situation, when those words would have been unremarkable in reference to something said.

        Also, I think you’re reading into my ejaculation things that were not in fact ejaculated. I’m not gazing doe-eyed at Spurs, nor am I saying they are amazing for achieving a top four trophy. I’m just saying that I think they’re better than Arsenal now. I think we have indeed reached the NL power shift. I don’t think last season was a one-off. When I say that fortunes have been reversed, I’m talking about league position (and predicted one for this year). Now, if you want to talk about the individual merit of those positions, that’s a little different, but at base level, we can agree that 3rd is better than 5th or whatever.

        Ok. I wish I had time to ejaculate more on my keyboard, but I really must get back to work.

  5. Not going to join in with the accolades for Spurs. They played well but RM were awful, we would have beaten them too. As the PL table shows, we are 1 point behind them, that gap could grow on Sunday but it also might not. Poch is clearly an excellent manager, and has built a very good side on a very low budget. They were better than us last season for sure, but I would not say that they are a “better club”.

    So far they drew at home to Swansea and Burnley, narrowly beat West Ham, and lost away to United and home to Chelsea. Their one victory of note was beating Liverpool 4-1, who were also shambolic on the day. They are only one point ahead of Arsenal who we can all agree have looked as uncoordinated as a bag of spanners at times. I will happily (well, OK, unhappily) agree that they are better than us this year if and when the results prove it but at the moment I certainly believe we can finish ahead of them, and I sometimes wonder why some seem to relish the idea that we can’t.

    1. Madrid has been a bit sh*t this season. They are already 8 points behind Barca and lie third on the table. They lost to newly promoted Girona over the weekend.

    2. We will not finish above Spurs this season. They are a better side. We played weak opposition in October, so our league position right now is no indication that we’re on par with Spurs. When we get absolutely trounced by City this weekend, as we will, I’m sure we’ll return to our realistic assessments of Arsenal!

  6. Persisting with El-Neny at CB. Whoa boy.
    Macey in goal in place of the injured Ospina.
    Debuchy another start.
    Walcott instead of EDDIE.

  7. Macey save of the game so far off a CK header he tips onto the bar.
    Pitch seems like an ice rink. Need to change the boots for better grip before someone rips a groin. Coquelin and Willock had some painful looking slips.

  8. In UK on business so had come to the Emirates to watch the game. Was quite a borefest. Wilshere was the only one who stood out. The number of times we gave the ball away was just not funny. Btw the away supporters were LOUD and we maintained the library status.

    On another note, i am quite terrified thinking of City this weekend, pretty sure I am not the only one.

  9. Borefest doesn’t really do last night justice.: watching paint dry would have been more fun. We were dire – unimaginative, unambitious, seriously slow in build up and execution. The only consolations were the youngsters, who looked like they weren’t cowed by their own reputations and showed a bit of grit, determination and hunger. Willock faded badly but Maitland Niles and Nelson were both good and Eddie fast and hungry when he came on. Would love to see the stats on pass completions and turnovers – it felt like we couldn’t/didn’t want to hang on to the ball. The players you expected to perform – Giroud, Wilshere, Coquelin, Walcott – seemed particularly bad. Compared to City’s bench last night, our strength in reserve looks v underwhelming.

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