just to be clear on a few things:
the football game is just the opening chapter or two...so we can have a murder in front of 70,000 spectators. further, we have the novelty of the actual 1939 Arsenal squad featured as characters, but that would have been more exciting for readers way back when, and now it’s more like a gimmick that ultimately has very little to do with the whodunit. the Arsenal folks are there to help sell the book, but it’s the purely fictional characters - many tied to the fictional amateur football team called the Trojans - who are suspects. I mean, yes, it would have been cool if a real-life Arsenal player had allowed them to turn him into a murderer in a novel...but no, they and their (now previous) Stadium are there to create a celeb factor, at best showing up now and then later on, while the Mystery content moves well beyond the game at the beginning: jilted lovers, a four-year-old tragedy, money maybe as a motive, better murder through chemistry done at an out of the way lab, revenge plans festering (?), a trail scattered around London. occasionally we end up back at the a the stadium, but really, this is a serpentine, clever Mystery with a soccer game at the front end of it. we’re not trapped in some athletes’ locker room for the whole book, hoping for a little whodunit with our soccer, believe me!