Coupon-busting Boro Open Fire On Arsenal

RIGHT. I got home late buzzing and had a beer to calm the nerves. My heart almost exploded when they put the ball in the net in stoppage time. I’ve never cheered an offside flag from the press box before. Great game: a galvanising watershed moment and possible penny drop tactical revelation.

Anyway… I see you have started the debriefing without me. Carry on.

Here’s my on the whistle colour bit about how Petr Cech was the man that ensured that mighty Arsenal were lucky to get nil on a day that could kick-start the season.

Here’s the Gazette digest of the game, tactics, big moments and star players. 

Here’s my ever populat too generous/too harsh* player ratings 

And here’s the best picture of the day – much maligned Spanish shot-stopper Victor Valdes in Arsenal halting action:



190 thoughts on “Coupon-busting Boro Open Fire On Arsenal

  1. Read RR’s beautifully written post, which reminds me.

    See I, Daniel Blake. I can’t insist that you all do so highly enough. Len is absolutely spot on about it.

    I now have to review it this morning.

    1. Simon
      the director of I Daniel Blake must be a strange person, to be praised as a very good film director and to spend your life making pictures of gut wrenching misery, one after the other is in my opinion perverse.
      He must have the talent to make films which would make people, happy, entertained, or excited, but no, it’s always time for a sob fest. Strange.

      **AV writes: I Think maybe you should look a bit more at his vast body of work – including some brilliant, heart-warming, funny and very human films – before you make judgements.

  2. Redcar Red

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Boro, Sunderland and Chelsea get fined for West Ham failing to control the Appy Ammers fans.

    Therein lies the problem, West Ham are not in charge of the ground and the police didn’t want to get involved. Sullivan and co cant see what’s wrong, entirely normal of if it isn’t It’s everyone else’s fault.

    1. Ian

      The disgusting thing is all this was predictable before the season and the “Appy Ammers” kicked off literally.

      Where there is blame there’s a claim, question is though who is to blame because it looks to me like a collective. The local authority for issuing a Safety Certificate, the FA, the London Stadium owners/operators and of course the Club itself.

      The Sports Ground Safety Authority state:

      “Under the provisions of the Football Spectators Act 1989 the SGSA has the power to insert conditions into any safety certificate by issued in respect of any Premier or Football League ground, Wembley or Millennium Stadium. However, the SGSA seeks at all times to proceed by means of advice, persuasion and agreement and our statutory powers will only be used as a last resort.”

      Sounds to me like a toothless and duck out organisation. The claim to have statutory powers well lets see them use them!

      Sadly someone will have to lose an eye, their mobility or worse still their life before the collective Stadium incompetence’s are sorted out. The local authority as a minimum need to remove the Safety certificate with immediate effect until the Police radio requirements are met (incredible to think the Olympics were held in the same Stadium with a heightened potential terrorist threat hanging over the Country).

      On the Club itself the disgraceful scenes of bricks, stones and bottles smashing up the Coach outside the Boleyn Ground was swept under the carpet. Imagine if that had happened outside some unfashionable Northern club ground, the FA would have been all over it like a rash.

      We have had unsavoury revelations about world football authorities and even the Engerlund manager recently, perhaps a tabloid journo needs to don a fake Sheikh’s outfit and get inside the FA itself instead of grasping at low hanging fruit.

  3. Steady on lads, there were almost 46,000 fans at the ground last night. It’s a bit harsh to heap the blame on WHU as a club.

    Stewarding is out of their control and supplied by a third party. Perhaps some statements from the club hierarchy have been a little I’ll advised, but let’s remember we are talking a very small minority here.

    The FA, Police, and the club have failed to heed warning signs over preceding weeks. It’s pretty obvious that a large police presence is required at future games is required to nip this in the bud.

    1. All of these “‘appy ammers” references are exactly the kind of comments that have us up in arms when Middlesbrough as a club are slagged off because of the area.

      1. What kind of comments do you mean when “Middlesbrough as a Club are slagged off because of the area”. We happily and self deprecatingly call ourselves Smoggies. We are what we are and don’t pretend to project anything other than reality, just a small town in Europe.

        West Ham on the other hand seem to be the darlings of the FA who can do no wrong whether its players allegedly owned by agents or Arry wanting 3 points deducted from Boro while allegedly his dog Rosie was doing his tax returns presumably. Their local dialect results in them dropping their “H’s” when they talk about the Hammers, its not contrived or misinterpreted, they portray themselves as the darlings of English football played in the “West Ham” way plus they won the World Cup in case we didn’t know.

        WHU as a Club have been in abject denial over something that they do have an influence on. If Stewarding is out of their control then perhaps they should have considered that before they accepted a free stadium as should the local authority before granting it a Safety Certificate fit to hold Premiership Football in a stadium designed for Athletics. That is the whole point of a Safety Certificate and all parties involved have made a right Albert Halls of it. Clearly segregation is impossible, security is inadequate and represents a threat to crowd safety leading to repetitive civil disorder.

        As I understand it the Stadium owners think the football club should come up with the sausage and mash for additional security whilst the club feel the Stadium owners should come up with the Gregory Peck so consequently Security is inadequate and lives are knowingly put at risk. Through in the fact that there is no communication system for the Police is beyond belief in 2016 and wholly unacceptable.

          1. You said it yourself RR…

            “Imagine if that had happened outside some unfashionable Northern club ground, the FA would have been all over it like a rash”

            Admittedly the owners aren’t the best examples, but once again the vast majority of fans were well behaved and I’m sure were disgusted at the behaviour of some of their so called fans.

            1. …….and I don’t think all of their fans are diamond geezers talking in rhyming slang, just as all Boro fans don’t wear Flat Caps and take their Whippets to the pub.

  4. In a way David Sullivan reminds me of Pontius Pilate, he sees no wrong so it becomes someone else’s responsibility. Cue posts a la Monty Python with all the r’s changed to w’s.
    ‘Kawen Bwady’ where are you?



  5. GHW

    It is a mess and West Ham are part of it, not solely their responsibility but if the hierarchy wash their hands of the affair as they did then they attract criticism.

    If they had come out and said we are addressing the problems with all parties then fair play to them. Initially they didn’t so they get more than their share of the blame.

    The one thing that has remained constant is the fact there has been trouble at West Ham home games involving their fans. It has been going on since the season started.

    **AV writes: Bournemouth, Watford, Boro, Sunderland and Chelsea so far. Every domestic game bar Accrington in the League Cup. Next up Stoke then Arsenal.

  6. More nonsense from yer favorite driveller 🙂

    The ‘nasties’ are out in force spoiling it for all regardless of the pain they give for their pleasure (see minority WHU fans against Chelski – children in the way? No problem just chuck coins at their heads).

    Soon be Halloween!


    1. With politics it’s become increasingly difficult to find anyone with something interesting and relevant to say that offers any kind of solution that enough people would buy into to make it actually be likely to happen.

      It seems that people are becoming entrenched in ideas that are merely represented by phrases that are either non-explanatory or meaningless, which has lead to polarised debates that have become tribal nonsense.

      I think we have seen that the diversification of media delivery has lead to the mass media ditching editorial analysis and resorting to simply regurgitating the noise of what now amounts to pseudo-celebrity politicians seeking followers to enhance their careers in the short-term.

      Perhaps Ken Loach is grounded enough to be able to cut through all the nonsense and relate the meaning of what is relevant to many people’s daily lives – at the moment I can’t think of a either a UK party or member of it who seems in anyway relevant, worthy or able to lead.

        1. Thanks Powmill,

          Ken was pretty blunt and to the point on QT and was pretty incredulous about the Tory Nissan spin – though i don’t share his faith in Corbyn, who for me looks out of his depth and an accidental messiah, more Brian than JC – I also only see the grey-haired spin twin of Peter Mandelson whenever his sidekick John McDonald opens his mouth (sorry Spartak)

  7. Interview with a Chelsea fan whose daughter was hit by coins at the West Ham match. Apparently several children were hit. It is appalling parents will go to such lengths to get pocket money.

    Sorry about the joke in bad taste but it puts the events in to sharp focus. The fact events have occurred at so many matches is an indictment of football. I am sure some fans of the other clubs were not blameless but this is disgraceful behaviour.

    We shouldn’t need riot police at matches, just sensible segregation and stewarding.

  8. Hi Plato

    Each to their own. But I was absolutely shaken by Loach’s film – I believe people will laugh, cry, shudder and relate as they watch it.

    If you want something more upbeat, there’s Looking For Eric, which I also loved. For now I point you to something Len said a few weeks ago:

    “I can recommend (I, Daniel Blake) as, in my view, one of the most important films of the last few years, which will tell you more about the current state of the nation than an entire year’s output of the press and television.

    “Shockingly it will only be shown on a 100 or so screens across the country, so it may take a bit of seeking out. And wouldn’t have been made at all had it not been for French financial backing. Tellingly it will be screened on over 600 screens in France, where Loach gets the kind of credit his work deserves.

    “Go see it. And ponder.”

  9. Plato,

    It’s not all doom and gloom, there’s quite a few funny moments but it’s hard hitting stuff. There’s a scene in a food bank which shook me to the core, very powerful and beautifully played.

    This government has moved on seamlessly from merely stigmatising and blaming the poorest in society to cruelly and deliberately targeting the most vulnerable, at their lowest ebb, to deny them what they are entitled to. This in the expectation that they’ll give up trying or die before they see any money. The dirty work is delegated to local civil servants who are forced to humiliate and punish their own like prisoners being made to flog their unruly fellow inmates.

    I look forward to reading your review Simon.

  10. AV, Always a ‘give us a tan’ and at the top of Tollesby Road it was ‘ bonny night’, from bonfire with the fire built next to the ‘Arty’.

    Those photographs of the boarded houses are utterly soul destroying and depressing.



  11. 200 fans facing banning orders from West Ham. GHW must have huge hands.


    What would be interesting is the actual make up of those 200.

    Are they all Hammers? Are they all regulars? Have those just looking for aggro joined in?

    Has it worsened as the season has gone on and ‘fans’ realised there is an opportunity for some ‘fun’?

    We all know there are knuckle draggers amongst all the clubs.

    1. If they have identified 200 to face banning orders (or in the process of identifying them) how many have not been caught/identified?

      All Clubs have their village idiots, (usually middle aged barrel chested balding sad gits who have never left the 70’s) but at WHU there seems to be a new generation of younger hooligans which is a new development in an era where apart from the fat sad baldies we thought we had left this neanderthal behaviour behind. Engerlund games apart when they all meet up to reminisce, get blind drunk, trash Pubs and Town squares the world over.

      Sadly things like this will grow and escalate very quickly. Already on Teesside there are those just itching for the Irons to come up here, no doubt the same is true with Chelsea, Sunderland and Watford “fans” etc. Once the “buzz” has been created and the intellectually challenged get their rush they will look for more. That is exactly what happened in the 70’s. People didn’t go to Football matches to fight in the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s or 60’s. There was a spark and the spark led to a flame and the end result was segregation, riot police, tear gas and deaths.

      The FA need to wake up from their luxuriously pampered comfy chairs and realise that they and West Ham have a huge problem. Once revenge attacks set in they become self perpetuating and of course spread to other rivalries quickly. Sullivan, Brady and Gold are overseeing something that could destroy the British game once more if they don’t act decisively.

      It is something which is endemic in English Society sadly and to a degree in Scotland. The Welsh and Irish (North and South) seem to be immune from the mentality that afflicts so many in the English game. There needs to be a massive reaction with strong and powerful deterrents to nip this in the bud. It has gone on for far too long already this Season.

      Docking points, Fines, games behind closed doors or Season Ticket holders only will only go so far. A Zero Tolerance needs to be adopted and quick. I’m just waiting for the FA to launch a dishwater weak “Kick it Out” or “Respect” type campaign as their solution.

  12. GHW

    Small minority of fans. AKA handful of fans causing trouble at West Ham.

    I will get my coat.

    By the way we have knuckle draggers in our fan base. There is always the element who go to matches to stare and shout at opposition fans.

    **AV writes: I think the problem at West Ham is that the idiot minority quickly realised that the local geography, poor stadium design, inept stewarding and lack of a police presence meant they could get away with it. Then, having got away with it a few times in a new ground it has become the new norm. And that has and will now attract a certain type of away fan who will be ready for it and retaliate. They have created a massive potential problem there now and the club chiefs refusal to nip it in the bud early on has created the conditions for a rapid escalation.

  13. Well. Saturday is coming around again very quickly.

    I wonder what AK will surprise us with tomorrow afternoon.
    I’d like to see:

    Barragan .. Ayala .. Gibson .. Friend
    Clayton .. Forshaw .. DeRoon
    Traore (but not surprised if Stuani gets the nod)
    Rhodes (but expect to see Negrado)
    Ramirez (on the left again for me).

    We need to score early on so that Bournemouth won’t be able to sit deep all match. If we do that, I will have us running out 3-1 winners. I’m going to stick with that.

    1. Realistically I would hope he will go with

      Valdes (not my personal choice but it is what it is)


      de Roon



      That would mean Barragan, Stuani and Negredo not getting a game. I suspect that Traore will be on the Bench due to the hints AK has been dropping all week about him not ready yet and Stuani will start. Negredo seems bulletproof and Rhodes is yesterdays chip paper in AK’s eyes so no doubt Negredo will start and struggle as usual with no service from Stuani. Barragan behind Stuani seems a fruitless pairing but AK likes it due to its effervescence, not. If Barragan does start then I’m guessing that Ayala will be pushed to the bench for Chambers.

      If all of that does happen then the groans and despondency will start in the concourses before KO and if we are then treated to the predictable toothless bore draw then everything that was done at the Emirates last week will be undone at the Riverside this week.

      Surely AK wouldn’t do that just as we seem close to maybe turning a corner? We need three points now, the games that on paper looked favourable have gone, we haven’t won at home since Reading and now we need a result.

  14. I have said it is the best time to followed Boro for wide TV coverage, internet, this block etc.

    But it is one of the most successful times ever, too. Better than Steve Mac or Big Jack had it.

    Tomorrow Karanka would become the first Middlesbrough manager to hit a 50 per cent win ratio from his first 150 games if Boro wins tomorrow.

    Impressive. Up the Boro!

    1. Jarkko

      McClaren had a 38.8% win rate and Jack 45.6%. Mac and Big Jack’s win ratios were at the top level, for all of the time in Mac’s case and a large proportion of the time with Big Jack. When AK has had three consecutive seasons in the Premiership, won a trophy and still has a 50% win ratio then we can applaud him for our most successful period but not before.

      If AK achieves that against Manchelskiarespool then all credit to him. Meanwhile I have forgotten what its like to win a game at the Riverside. Presently his win rate is one win in 14 games (7%) and is currently 11% in the Premiership. Achieving a 50% win ratio against Preston, MK Dons and Rotherham isn’t quite comparing apples with apples.

  15. Traore has proved what we already knew, pace is the key to winning games. As such, should we pick our other fastest players up centre and to the left? Who is fastest from Negredo, Rodes or Nugent? Who is fastest from Gaston, Nugent or Downing?

    I’m hoping AK fields the same team which did so well against Arsenal, but who knows?

  16. There is a danger going same again, often comes unstuck especially when it was set up for a specific challenge.

    It is unlikely Bournemouth will come pouring forward like the Gunners. Eddie Howe is a shrewd manager and you suspect he will be looking to rope a dope tomorrow.

    Line up?

    Chambers, Ayala, Gibson, Friend
    de Roon, Forshaw
    Traore, Ramirez, Downing

    My fear is that Stuani will replace Traore. I am not too bothered about whether it is Chanbers or Barragan right back.

    I would like to see the more progressive Forshaw in midfield. Out of interest, if you watch the Arsenal highlights de Roon appears in their box quite often.

    1. Ian

      I think Downing can add a bit more creativity if he is played centrally with Ramirez and Traore out wide. We know he can handle things at this level and pick out killer passes but it means dropping one of Clayts, de Roon or Forshaw. Forshaw is the least defensively minded out of the three which is why I think AK will go with the other two. I’m more than happy however if Forshaw keeps his well earned place.

      The “fear” is indeed Stuani wide right where it has become obvious he can’t operate there at Premiership level. As Chris has said pace is the key to attack in this division, I would rather play Nugent there over Stuani for pace cutting in onto his good foot.

      Up front I think its Negredo’s last stand but wouldn’t be surprised if Stuani starts instead of him. Rhodes would be preferable but lets wait and see. Negredo was slightly profligate with the chances last week which a struggling club in this league cannot afford so AK surprisingly may act.

      The real fear for me is Barragan at RB with Stuani in front.

  17. Interesting dilemma on whether Traore should start the game tomorrow, on last week’s performance of course he should, but there are a shed load of Villa fans who will tell you he’s mr. Inconsistent.

    I’d go for:



    De Roon



    But let’s face it ,it’s unlikely any of us will second guess AK.

    What I do know is we need to see attacking intent from Boro and incisive forward play which creates chances.

    1. Yes, that’s the XI I’d go for too!

      Ayala and Gibson looked solid, Chambers looked decent at right-back last time, Forshaw doesn’t deserve to be dropped, Downing was unlucky to miss out at Arsenal, plus Ramirez looked more effective on the left than at Number ten of late and Rhodes deserves his chance as Negredo has looked short on confidence.

      I’m sure we’ll be right (or possibly wrong) 🙂

  18. My team tomorrow would be:


    Chambers, Ayala, Gibson, Friend

    Forshaw, Clayton

    Traore, Fischer, Ramirez


    The last time I watched Rhodes and Fischer on together they linked up very well and seemed to have an understanding of each other’s game.

    Come on BORO.

  19. I would go with



    de Roon



    As for AK I’m not sure – he could bring Stuani back but I think Traore made such an impact last week it will be hard to leave him out. I suspect Negredo will play and Chambers may well come back for Ayala. It would be hard to leave Clayton out again too – tough decisions all round really.

    I suppose Traore on the left and Stuani on the right is also a possible considering how he liked Adomah out there.

    Tough game though – can’t afford to lose another home game so a point would be good, but with the tough run of games coming up we could really do with a win.

  20. Time for our first Home win please. It would give us a good cushion for the upcoming “difficult” fixtures. UTB

  21. Leaving Clayton out is a tough call, but Forshaw has arguably been our best player this season, I’m not convinced by de Roon yet, but I believe he needs game time to settle in to the prem.
    I think Barragan has struggled a little at right back, I also don’t think leaving Downing out is an option at home, he’s our mist experienced and potentially best player.

    I fully expect to see Stuani start on the right and even though I trust AK’s judgement , Stuani on the right seems to limit our ability to attack on the right hand side. Just the fact Traore is super fast and will put the opposition on the back foot to me means he should start.

    I think Rhodes should have a run of games as Negredo has been quiet to date, but that may be because we haven’t created enough for him.

  22. Clayton was our best player last season and played well last week. The same goes for the Gibson/Ayala pairing. George has found his feet. Chambers looks good wide right. Valdes will stay in goal, Downing looks at home in the Premiership. Forshaw has been our best player this season. That’s 8 certain starters in my opinion. Then perm any 3 from De Roon, Ramitrez, Negredo, Rhodes, Stuani, Traore, Fischer.

    AK likes to play 4231 so my tip is Valdes, FriendAyalaGibsonChambers, ClaytonForshaw, FischerDowningTraore, Rhodes

  23. Because I’m a realist and I know AK will put out the team he wants, I’ll go for any of the player permutations suggested above as long as the team on the pitch actually puts in a performance.

    It would certainly buoy the spirits to see a win at home. Let’s hope.

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