Arsenal: Robert Exley's review of 2020 - November

Arsenal: Robert Exley's review of 2020 - November

Arsenal: Robert Exley's review of 2020 - November

Arsenal: Robert Exley's review of 2020 - November

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Read Robert Exley's review of 2020 - November

1st November 2020: Arsenal start the month with a trip to Old Trafford to face Man United away. United languished in 15th place in the table at the time and four weeks earlier suffered a 1-6 battering at home to Spurs, managed by their old boss Jose Mourinho.

Arsenal dominated most of the game, however it took a penalty conversion from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after Paul Pogba tripped Hector Bellerin in the area, to give Arsenal a 1-0 victory. At the time, many were questioning Ole Gunnar Soskjaer’s future as Man United boss. However, the fortunes of both sides contrasted sharply after this game, with Man United having not lost a league game since and climbing up to second in the table on the back of eight victories out of ten.  

3rd November 2020: Despite suffering more Covid-19 related deaths than any other country, the USA goes to the polls to decide who will be occupying the White House as of January 2021.   

4th November 2020: At Westminster, MPs vote 516–39 to support the four-week lockdown restrictions for England that come into force from the following day.

Among those to vote against the measures were 34 Conservative MPs, which included Iain Duncan Smith, Esther McVey and John Redwood. There were also four DUP and one independent MP who voted against the lockdown measures.  

Meanwhile over in the USA, The Trump campaign starts to allege voter fraud and announces that they are filing a lawsuit in Michigan to halt the vote counting until they are given "meaningful access" to observe the ballots at multiple counting locations. They also wanted to review all the ballots that have already been counted.

Over the coming days, Donald Trump would continue to claim voter fraud had occurred at the ballot box, without providing any specific evidence of it. 

5th November 2020: As England enters a second nationwide lockdown. Rishi Sunak extends Furlough until the end of March 2021.

Meanwhile, Arsenal face Molde at home and look to further their 100 per cent record in the group stage of the Europa League. Molde however take the lead with a goal from Martin Ellignsen on 22 minutes. Arsenal however pulled level in first half injury time, with an own goal from Molde midfielder Kristoffer Haugen.

Just past the hour a second Molde player Sheriff Sinyan put the ball into his own net to gift Arsenal the lead. Further goals from Nicolas Pepe and Joe Willock rounding off a great personal performance gave Arsenal a 4-1 victory over the Norwegian side. 

7th November 2020: After days of counting and speculation, Joe Biden is finally declared the winner of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.  

Meanwhile, a lot closer to home, the two nearest non-league sides to my parents’ address – Concord Rangers and Canvey Island - have both reached the First Round of the FA Cup (no mean feat for a small Island in the Thames Estuary, off of the Essex coast).

Both sides are away – Canvey Island to Banbury of the Southern League Premier Division Central and Concord Rangers to League Two side Stevenage.

However, no fans are permitted for either game. Concord’s game is available on Stevenage’s iFollow platform (where the club’s EFL games have been streamed all season), while Canvey Island’s game is streamed through BBC iPlayer.  

Canvey Island secure a 2-1 victory to progress to the Second round for the first time since 2001/02, while the Concord Rangers game finished 2-2, though they found themselves eliminated on a penalty shoot-out. 

8th November 2020: Once again, Arsenal’s fixture would be occupying the Sunday evening slot on pay per view and once again, the Gunners left anyone who stumped up the cash to view proceedings feeling extremely short changed. Two goals for Olly Watkins and an own goal from Bukayo Saka meant that Aston Villa inflicted a 0-3 defeat on Arsenal and earned themselves a well deserved three points on the basis of their performance.         

9th November 2020: In a long-awaited piece of good news, the Pfizer vaccine was reported to protect 90 per cent of recipients in initial tests from developing Covid, especially so as one day later Covid-19 related deaths in the UK would exceed 1,000 for the first time since June. By 12/11/2020, just under 33,500 new positive Covid cases were recorded in the UK 

12th November 2020: After a twenty year wait, Scotland finally qualify again for a major international tournament after beating Serbia 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw. Their victory secures a group phase fixture with England at Wembley on Friday June 18 and quite possibly a major finals appearance for Arsenal Defender Kieran Tierney.  

There would however be heartache for Northern Ireland, who crashed to a 1-2 home defeat to Slovakia in their play off final, despite being able to welcome back a limited attendance of 1,060 for the tie. 

13th November 2020: After much negative publicity, the Premier League decide to scrap pay per view games at least until the New Year, making all Premiership games until Christmas available either on Sky Sports, BT Sport, Amazon Prime and even a few games will be shown free to air on the BBC. 

15th-18th November 2020: For Premiership sides, it would be an international break. England would face Belgium away in the UEFA Nations League, however goals for Tielemans and Mertens meant a 0-2 defeat for Gareth Southgate’s side. Two days later, Germany would suffer a 0-6 away hammering to Spain in another fixture played behind closed doors in Seville. 

Meanwhile in England’s second international of the week, the Three Lions managed a 4-0 victory over Iceland at an empty Wembley Stadium with goals from Declan Rice, Mason Mount and two for Phil Foden 

19th November 2020: More positive signs develop on the bid to develop a new Covid vaccine. The Oxford University/AstraZeneca is reported to show a strong immune response in people aged in their 60s and 70s, which researchers have described as "encouraging". 

22nd November 2020: Arsenal head to Elland Road for their first away league fixture with Leeds United for 17 years. Leeds United hit the woodwork three times but couldn’t score, but then again neither could Arsenal. Five minutes into the second half saw Nicolas Pepe sent off for a straight red card for violent conduct. The match ends in a goalless draw, which sees Arsenal drop to eleventh in the table, while Spurs claim the top spot on goal difference. 

23rd November 2020:  A large trial of the Covid vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca indicates it to be 70 per cent effective, but scientists believe that figure can rise to 90 per cent by tweaking the dosage. 

26th November 2020: Arsenal’s Jekyll and Hyde type performances between domestic and European competition continues. The Gunners head to Norway to face Molde in front of a limited crowd of 600 people. After a goalless first half, Nicolas Pepe got Arsenal off the mark five minutes into the second half, before Reiss Nelson doubled the lead five minutes later. With seven minutes left to play Folarin Balogun rounded off the scoring with his first senior goal for Arsenal, securing a 3-0 victory, securing the Gunners path through to the knockout phase as group winners. 

29th November 2020: Arsenal’s month of fixtures ends once again on a Sunday evening with a visit from Wolves. Just five minutes into the game came an horrific clash of heads between David Luiz and Raul Jimenez, which led to a 10-minute stoppage and the latter stretchered off to hospital.

By the end of the first half, Wolves took the lead on 27 minutes with a goal from Pedro Neto, before Gabriel equalised three minutes later.  Three minutes before half time, Daniel Podence gave Wolves the lead. With no further scoring, Arsenal crashed to a 1-2 defeat which sunk them to fourteenth place in the table, with just one domestic victory since the start of the month. 

30th November 2020: November also ended with the Second Round of the FA Cup and locally this meant a home tie for Ryman League North side Canvey Island facing National League side Borehamwood (known to most Arsenal fans as the club who donate their Meadow Park home ground to Arsenal’s Reserves and Women’s side for a home venue).

The last time Canvey Island reached this stage with a home tie in 2001, it meant an attendance of 3,232, despite the match being shown live on Match of the Day. This year however, Covid meant Cup Fever would have to self-isolate and watch the game live on BT Sport.  

Despite the game taking place behind closed doors and England still being on national lockdown, a socially distanced crowd did emerge around the perimeter of Canvey Island’s ground to view the game perched on stepladders.

Ultimately, the three-tier gap between the two sides showed, with Canvey crashing to a 0-3 defeat, though undoubtedly the prize money and TV money accrued on the way had put the club on a more secure footing as a result.

That same evening, the third round draw live on BBC1’s ‘The One Show’ saw Arsenal drawn at home to Newcastle in the new year. 

Within a few days, England would be out of lockdown, but placed within one of three tiers.

Very briefly, a limited number of spectators would be readmitted to grounds, however rather than a return back to the old normal, it became more a case of one small step forward, followed by one giant leap back.

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