BATE Preview: Second String As Sky Are Revealed As The Grinch

There’s a football match this evening but it’s on BT so Sky enjoyed taking centre stage with their absurd plan for moving Liverpool to Christmas Eve for a 4.30pm kick-off.

Surprisingly, the Telegraph acted as a cheerleader for the move, momentarily forgetting that a rival media outlet owns the television company. They missed the chance to bury the hatchet firmly in Murdoch’s back. Instead, they helpfully pointed out that the last train to Liverpool Lime Street is 9.21pm which gives “fans plenty of time to get home”.

As if football supporters only come from the two cities involved. That it doesn’t allow anyone else to travel by train that evening escapes their grasp. Families be damned; this is big bucks.

Not that they care; they want people sitting at home or in pubs watching their product, playing online betting. Fans inevitably are the ones shafted by Sky, a situation which won’t improve if Amazon or BT become dominant. The Premier League holds strength in negotiations but acts weakly. It is time for them to resist such flagrant disregard for supporters.

Football without fans is a bunch of blokes kicking pigskin around.

Hopefully, the Met will step in and squash the idea with their size 11’s. Their resources will be spread thin enough as it is on Christmas Eve. The club may face similar issues.

From a football perspective, there is a knock-on effect which I’m surprised the Premier League are even willing to consider. Arsenal’s fixture after this on Boxing Day against West Brom will almost certainly be moved if Sky do their worst. If they don’t, the club faces two sets of fixtures played within 48 hours of each other;  Arsenal must surely be working to have one of those matches postponed?

It’s a fixture move too far with the potential for chaos

The Sport of Today is Exciting

Ooooh, Bayern lost in Paris; they are heading to the Europa League. As if. They’ve got Celtic in their group, for god’s sake.

We’re in Borisov with an impressive XI left behind in London. Out are: Ramsey, Xhaka, Alexis, Lacazette, Özil, Monreal, Kolasinac, Koscielny, Bellerin and Iwobi. To make up the numbers, Petr Cech flew to Belarus for the match. We’ll have a full complement on the bench, even if it includes two goalkeepers.

Choosing the side is like pin the tail on the donkey; you know where the beast is but getting it right is luck rather than exact science. I’ll have a go though:

Ospina; Holding, Mertesacker, Mustafi; Debuchy, Elneny, Wilshere, Maitland-Niles; Walcott, Giroud, Nelson

A Carabao Cup side if ever there was one. If it works and we win, bravo, well-played Arsène; you judged the level of the competition correctly. I can’t help feeling that it’s playing into BATE’s hands. Motivation for the coach won’t be hard: “Look how they’ve disrespected us!” and there’s no Mesut Özil to bail us out with a moment of magic as happened in Bulgaria.

If it goes wrong, the brickbats will surely follow. Rightly so. I understand Wenger focussing on the Premier League but if players, early in the season, can’t face two games in just shy of 72 hours, we in the cart at Christmas. Well and truly. Add Alexis or Lacazette to the squad, as well as Kolasinac and there’s a half-decent XI.

While some couldn’t give a fig for the Europa League, we’re in it because this is our level. At the moment, it represents Arsène’s only chance of a European trophy in his career. It’s not the Champions League but it’s a better chance to fill a hole in his record.

It’s Brawn Against Brain

When you know nothing of the opposition, it’s hard to work out how much of a calculated risk the manager is taking. Belarus’ football is one of the few which hasn’t got a global audience and most of us only know of BATE through Alex Hleb. I wonder if he still likes ice cream?

It’s good experience for the younger players and who knows, Reiss Nelson may start at wing-back with Josh DaSilva in the middle of defence. There’s a hint of the Ajax thinking at play. You’ve read Bergkamp played at full back once so, the youngsters learn well playing out of position.

They will learn tonight as well. Whether we will see this XI in Belgrade or Cologne is another matter; I somehow doubt it. As you’ve guessed, I’m surprised we haven’t taken the opportunity to ensure we grab this group by the throat. Maybe we will – I hope we will – but it’s not as clear-cut as a stronger line-up may make it seem.

Finally, don’t forget that the Album of the Week catch-up post is on Dad’s Jukebox.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

117 thoughts on “BATE Preview: Second String As Sky Are Revealed As The Grinch

  1. HenryB says:

    I think the kids and Jack after a very impressive 1st half, ran out of steam later in the 2nd half – and that is only to be expected, in my opinion.

    Enjoyed it – but I agree with OK – the defence seems to be a foreign language to all our teams – but I guess allowances have to be made for the kids, and most of them had not played together very much, if at all.

  2. Wavey says:

    Sign Ashley Williams up. He’s just produced a cock up worthy of an Arsenal centre back.

  3. C says:

    Tend to agree, our youngsters had good games. Maitland-Niles might not give us much going forward as a LWB but defensively he was good, yea he might get lost from time to time but that comes with playing a completely foreign position. Nelson, I agree with Henry, had a good game especially going forward and was solid defensively for a player that isn’t a defender at all. Willock, was good centrally too and was more than willing to push forward.

    For the senior players, I though both Jack and Theo was lively all first half and Jack, while he did push on wasn’t nearly as influential in the 2nd half and struggled a bit while Theo obviously disappeared as we weren’t able to attack. Elneny put in another good performance but was caught a bit flat footed on the first goal after covering for Holding and the late runner. Was disappointed with Giroud outside of the flick to Jack and the penalty, need more from him especially in the hold up play.

    Overall though, a good performance because for as good as our attack was in the first half and probably first 10 mins of the 2nd, we struggled defensively. O, the fact that we sold Szczesny and kept Ospina still makes me scratch my head. I wouldn’t have minded seeing Macey in goal.

  4. C says:

    Everton down 1-0 and look flat and their supporters after only 17 mins are already on their case because they are being out worked.

  5. C says:


    Yup and its not the first time he has this season, its been a running theme.

    Wow , Rooney is absolutely gifted a goal.

  6. Wavey says:

    Koeman made a huge mistake in not replacing Lukaku and its come back to haunt them. Terrible back pass out of nowhere gifts Rooney a goal.

  7. C says:

    Just went back and looked at both their goals and yes our defense was the most stout, but Ospina should have done much better for both of them, especially the 2nd.

  8. Wavey says:

    It seems funny that we can be this critical when the team have just won 4-2, but its another of those performances when we go from the sublime to the ridiculous and mange to get away with it because of weak opposition. It’s one of the reasons we are continually getting found out by the bigger teams, we play high risk football without having enough guile to get the goals we need to make it work.

  9. Damon says:

    “Found Out”

    A term relevant to AFC since 2006, barring a handful of 90 minute exceptions

    It seems funny that we can be this critical when the team have just won 4-2, but its another of those performances when we go from the sublime to the ridiculous and mange to get away with it because of weak opposition. It’s one of the reasons we are continually getting found out by the bigger teams, we play high risk football without having enough guile to get the goals we need to make it work.

  10. Orson Kaert says:

    It keeps the winning run going which can only be a good thing.

    I’m not sure how close Theo is to match fitness, so its no surprise he dropped off in the second half. The same goes for Jack.

    Both tonight’s wing backs, if they are to play the position, need to be much more aware of their defensive positioning.

    I think we can look forward to a decent run in the Europa League, but the next two games will be considerably harder as Red Star Belgrade will be less likely to give us three goal start.

  11. Orson Kaert says:

    Battery getting low, time to recharge. Good night Gooners, everywhere.

  12. Mean Lean says:

    Just to add a bit of context..

    Juve, PSG, AC Milan, Bayern Munich and Roma have all lost at Bate in the last 10 years (found on Twitter)

    We were playing a 17 and 20 year old out of position at wing backs. Were missing second string defensive players like Chambers and Coquelin.

    So it’s no surprise that we were not as strong defensively as we were at Stamford Bridge in the league.

    I’m just happy that a team so young and makeshift had enough to go away from home in Europe and get all three points. Also glad to have Jack back to closer near his best. We are going to need him this season if he can stay fit.

  13. Bill says:

    Today is another example of something we talk about a lot. You need players who can score goals even if those players don’t bring a lot else to the table. You can have all of the brilliant passing and technical skill and ball possession and midfield dominance in the world but it all comes to nothing without someone like Theo who can actually put the ball into the net. Theo does not bring much in the way of ball possession or technical skill or defensive nous but we probably not have won against Doncaster or this game without him.

  14. Mean Lean says:

    It’s all about having a balance Bill. A team full of scorers without any ability to control a game, win the ball back in midfield or have the skill-set to build up their game from the back are unlikely to finish very high in the league. That being said, your point still stands. You need to have players who can ‘finish off moves’ unless the idea is to pump the ball into the opposition box whenever your team gets the ball and then relying on your forwards to create and finish chances on their own. Unlikely unless you have a team of Messi’s don’t you agree?

  15. Bill says:

    It is about balance. Over the years Arsene has placed far to much emphasis on technical skill, passing and midfield creativity and largely ignored the importance of having goal scoring firepower in his forward line. In this decade the players the players he has used to try and has fill the role of goal scorer have been Gervinho, Podolski, Giroud, Chamakh, Sanogo, Welbeck. Bendtner, Walcott etc etc. He did not add a top quality scorer to replace RVP. The only scorer not named RVP who has been reasonably successful in this decade is Sanchez. Its almost like Arsene believes that if you get the creativity and passing right then goal scoring takes care of itself. He has been coaching long enough by now to know that football just does not work that way.

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