March 11th – Arsenal 3 Watford 0

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Clean sheet and Cech saves a penalty. I must buy a lotto ticket today. This is he’s third season with us. 98 games and he finally saves a penalty. And at a crucial time in the game. And he finally gets he’s 200th clean sheet. Pretty impressive. And a number of key saves in the first half. Sure he’s had dodgy games – who hasn’t in this fucked-up team – but he’s still the best GK we have. And I think he’ll remain our for a couple more years yet.

So we finally put a run together. Two wins in a row. Wow. Hard to remember when we last managed that. So let’s enjoy it while not forgetting the underlying issues still to be addressed. Today was a day to enjoy and appreciate some of the smooth, elegant play of Arsenal FC.

Ozil purred, MikeyTarrian was dangerous, MaintlandNiles was dynamic at right back and Elneny moved the ball quickly. I liked Holding today – he plays well against classic English center forwards. When it gets physical and tough he’s always up for a good fight. And today he out fought their Division 2 center forward. Playing two defensive midfield players liberated Ozil and our full backs which meant we caught them on the counter attack. The first one from which OBangThemIn missed a golden chance. It’s taking him time to adjust. I remain unconvinced by this guy but I’ll give him till the end of the season. There is an adjustment period but I do worry about the chances he misses and the lack of link up play he contributes – though he was better today again. He did take his goal well even if that utter wanker Ob1 tried to get in his way. Let’s leave that tit until later on.

Mustafi, just as he did against Sp*rs, gave us the lead care of another Ozil assist. Dreadful, Arsenal-like defending by Watford. But we dominated the first half. When I’d seen the team sheet with Ob1 and Elneny, no Wilshire, Ramsey, Kosclieny or Bellerin I was worried. However, MN linked up well with MickeyT and our interchanges had speed and simplicity such that we moved the ball around quickly and played balls in behind for OBangThemIn. Defensively Holding was tough and the midfield defensive cover worked well. I could have sworn I’d seen Xhaka running back with pace to try and help out the defense.

We were careless with the ball sometimes. MN is a little lax at times. As was MikeyT. But in the first half we looked like a team that we used to support. The second half was a different story. It felt like we handed the initiative to them. They were more aggresive and we had long periods of defending even if they had few chances. There were those annoying spells where we could not keep hold of the ball – giving it away too cheaply. If they were a better team we would have likely conceded but instead Mikey set up OBangThemIn for a neat goal. And, in classic Arsenal style within a minute or two we concede a penalty. Remarkably Cech saved that and changed the course of the game.

We also had a penalty claim waived away – in fact, Atkinson and the linesman were so far behind play they were in no position to see MikeyT hacked down in the box. But as soon as we got that third it was game over. Time to relax and save a few players for Thursdays game.

As enjoyable as today was though I remain utterly baffled and confused by Ob1. He is a walking fucking disaster. I pray for the day when he’s sold or has he’s legs removed. Or even his arms. There are random moments where he can make a great pass but for 99% of his time on the field he’s a liability. He must have the lowest football IQ I’ve seen in a long time. Sure he’s young but he’s been in this team for nearly two years and has yet to demonstrate he’s capable of developing and evolving. Today he was so infuriating. He’s final pass is awful and he’s shooting is pathetic. He looks like he just does not know what to do with the ball once he’s near goal. He is so bad than I was relieved to see him replaced by Badbeck. And as soon as he came on he contributed one touch passes – something Ob1 can’t conceive of – and improved the speed of our play. It should be noted that when we dominated in the first half it was primarily from the right side – away from Ob1. And the degree to which good things happened on the left it was because of Ozil and Kolasinac.

Consider the progress of MN and Ob1. One can play in three different positions. Once can’t play in even one. One is technical and composed on the ball. One isn’t. One has progressed in every game he’s played in while one regresses. I’m racking my brain to think of a player that upsets me as much as Ob1. I despair when I see him in the starting 11. Vermalen, at the end of his time with us, Cygan most of the time, Gervinho, Silverstre and even Santos from the last 5+ years frustrated me but none like this boy. I hate his “game”. He destroys our rhythm; he can’t score and he’s clearly not of the quality required to work alongside Ozil. I’m desperately hoping that because he started this game he won’t be playing against Milan. Hopefully Jack and/or Ramsey will be back for that one. Mind you, Jack looked shit today. He was slow in possession and got caught a few times. Hopefully it was an aberration. On Thursday in the San Siro, he looked active and helped the team move through the gears quickly.

We now have to dispense with Milan. Given our overall lack of self-belief it will only take one goal from the them to shake us into a bag of nerves. We saw what the mighty Swedes did to us in the last round. So this tie is not even close to being over. The only good news is that we are clearly (a la Man U from last year) prioritizing this competition. Resting important players for this upcoming game was sensible. Playing against the Mighty Milan means we won’t have the same sense that it’s a dead rubber. Hopefully all this will help us. But these sneaky Italians know how to play these European away fixtures.

I’m convinced (or I’ve convinced myself anyway) that AW will leave at the end of season. It would be fitting for him to depart on the high of finally lifting a European trophy. But there are many (better) teams to face – if we’re able to get past Milan. But he has more than earned the right to leave with his head held high with our undying appreciation of the way he’s molded and shaped some of (of not the) best football we’ve ever witnessed. So these remaining 8 EPL games and the NoHopaCup should be his swansong. Let’s hope he gets that. After Thursday, our remaining run of games is manageable with Stoke up after the stupid international break.

Pretty soon we’ll have to turn our attention to the identify of our next manager. My money is on either Jardim from Monaco or Low from Germany. The issue with the latter is that he won’t be available until after the Corrupt Cup in Russia. By the time he escapes Putins slimey grip it will be only weeks before the start of our season. Whereas at least with Jardim he can come on board the day to season completes. And that would leave AW to either slide over to the money pit in Paris – PSG or, less likely, take over Real Madrid. Given Wengers close ties to BeIn Sports (owned by the Qatars’) I’d expect him to return to his homeland and earn even more money. And after a few years of that to finally take over the French national team. That would be an excellent way for us all to move forward


February 26th – Abject Arsenal

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Or is that Arsenal Abject. Or Arsenal Anonymous. We are the AA.

If that’s the end of the world then what was yesterday? The purgatory of watching Arsenal surely qualifies for some discount come the worlds end. But I fear we have not endured enough. Not to balance out those first 10 years.

How shit were we? Shitty then when we played Sp*rs. And this was a final. We were abject. It’s one thing to no longer compete for the league – or any real cups – but we can’t even play the game anymore. Once upon a time everyone criticized Arsenal and AW for not having a plan B. The complaint was that we played the best football in England but could not win leagues nor cups. Well we listened and showed them. Now not only do we not win leagues and real cups, we can’t now even play beautiful football. Others can but not us. Not today and not in any meaningful game. We line up as 3-4-2-1 which quickly reverts to 5-4-1. We defend – or try to – and park the bus. It’s awful to watch. And it’s not even a successful strategy. We now not only can’t defend we can’t attack either.

It’s hard to know where to begin. There was not a single issue or problem that we saw today that we’ve not seen multiple times this year or last. We can and won’t learn lessons. Imagine, Mustafi making a schoolboy error? Surely no? We’ve not seen that before. Whether it’s him or Xhaka or Iwobi, it’s the same players making the same mistakes. It’s also so painful to watch. If you think you’ve seen this movie before – you have.

I’ve mentioned this to others, but I don’t see the big deal with Aubamenyang. He does nothing during the game. And the one pivotal chance he got he fluffed. I’m not sure where he or Cigarette fit into this team. But then I’m it sure when anyone does. Ozil barely saw the ball. Both he and Jack were marginalized on the wings. And could neither could pass to each other. And we have no cover for our defense. There is no defensive midfield. But, this is not news. The entire world minus one person seems to know this.

We were completely overrun Sunday. This is not Arsenal. It’s hard to even get upset. This was so predictable. There is no vision or strategy on this team. There is no philosophy. When have we ever been able to say that? It was dreadful to watch. Losing a game is something that can be accepted but not even turning up to play in a final is not. This team is lost. It not only does not have leadership. It has no sense of who it is. It does not have a balanced team. It is a team that does it know who it is supposed to be. We were sent out today to play like Bolton it ended up playing like Barnet. No disrespect meant to either of those two teams.

Losing with some passion and effort is one thing but we saw neither. How can that be? What goes on in a squad when a team puts in such a lost performance. These individual players are better than the sum of the parts (well a few are anyway). This is a team with some strong individuals but within this team they perennially underperform. This team is toast. Luckily, I can still, before dementia finally sets in, wallow in the past glories of the early AW years.

Truthfully though, I’m so resigned to the outcome that it’s tough to even get upset. I’ve emotionally disengaged as I’m sure others have. It’s self-preservation really. And I think most Arsenal fans are now in this mode. After being beaten down (literally) over the last few years it’s the only sane approach. I can remember, 5 years ago, going ballistic when we dropped points at Bolton. I still have nightmares from our prior lose to Birmingham in the final. But Sunday? Nope, not even shouting at the TV. No screaming, No anger. Just despondency and a recognition that we are simply not a viable team.

How poor are we? We are so poor that we’re looking to out Sp*rs Sp*rs. We are now entering that phase where we want to bring back talisman, iconic players as manager irrespective of how unqualified they are. We are clutching at the straws they used whereby they tried to clasp onto their past “glories”. Naturally TH14 will always remain immortal but he should not even be in the conversation for a new manager. We need a manager fitting our stature and ambition (hey, I’m available for a nominal fee).

But here’s the other thing that’s abundantly clear. Don’t blame Wenger. It’s not his fault he’s the manager of Arsenal. What do people expect him to do? Resign? That’s not his job. People now despise him. They channel all their anger on him. But why? What do they expect? Why blame him? Show me one manager that has voluntarily resigned his position based on shitty performances. Over the history of English football, it’s never happened. And why should it. That’s not the managers responsibility.

Wenger absorbs and takes all the vitriol. But the people accountable for this fiasco get off scot free (not that I’ve ever known a scot do anything for free). The vitriol should be focused on the Arsenal Board and our CEO. They are responsible for hiring and firing the manager. That’s where decision should be being made. Instead, they hide behind the shadow cast by Wenger. They let him be the magnet for all the pressure. They evade their responsibilities and fail the club.

People say Arsenal can’t progress until Wenger leaves. The more accurate and fair statement is that Arsenal can’t progress until the CEO and the Board setup to their responsibilities and fire Wenger. That is their job to do. You can’t expect someone who has invested the majority of their working life to a club to walk away. No, instead, the right thing to do is to fire him and then extol his unique contributions to our once great club.

And if the final on Sunday did not demonstrate what needs to happen then we’re more fucked than I thought. Don’t worry about the NoHopa Cup. Milan? We can’t even beat Stoke. As soon we fail in this final cup competition they have to put the man out of his and our misery. But do they have the balls? I fear not. I was happy to give him another year – he had at least earned that right. But now we need to intervene and help this club. Whether the management have the football acumen to assess this and find our next manager is unknown. But you’d have to me an imbecile not to know what’s needed now. And,  unluckily for us, we have a bunch of imbeciles running the club.



February 9th – Sp*rs 1 Arsenal 0

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Shit. Well that sucks. Not just the losing but the way we lost. This should have been an undeserved draw instead of three points lost. How often, in the distant past, when we had a winning team, would we give up a late goal to drop two points against a clearly inferior team.

We are now that inferior team. We know we’re not a top 4 team. But you have to take those chances. They did not take theirs and we could not take ours. Of course, if they had taken theirs, we’d have lost 4 – 0. We barely had any shots on goal – none on the first half. And then just Jacks shot before Cigarette extinguished our chances of a point.

I do wonder though about why, when he came on we moved our largest signing ever out of his natural position onto the wing. That was the position you wanted Aubameyang in. What has happened to this guy. He started the season with such style – he looked like the real deal. Now it looks like we should have sold him and kept Giroud. His confidence is shot. He looks lost. I fear he won’t be with us for much longer and he won’t get too many game time minutes. If you need an attacking substitute then Giroud is your man. But that ship has sailed.

We lost today because our team is a sixth place team. There were too many breadowns across the pitch. It’s just surprising we only lost by one goal. They were much better than us. Coming out of defense – including Cech – we gave the ball away too easily. From Bellend to Mustafa to Xhaka we were loose in possession. Too often we’d give the ball to them in our defensive area.

Our game-plan was to play like Bolton and catch them on the break. Jack and Ozil had chances to hit them on the counterattack in the first half but either the final pass was missing or the linesman made a ball call. And Henrik was off his game today. It’s a shame but, under pressure, he made a number of poor decisions and passes.

Elneny was, as ever, solid and provided some defensive cover for us. But we were exposed, for their goal by Xhaka not closing down the crosser of the ball and Koscielny failing to jump with Kane. Thereafter Cech saved our skin a few times. There was no consistency or fluency to our game. They pressured us much more than we pressured them. In the first half we ceded 2/3rds of the field and bunkered down in the final third. It somewhat worked even if it’s not how we expect Arsenal to play.

The second half start though was awful. Right from the whistle we looked unfocused and lackadaisical. All the concentration of the first half was noticeable absent at the start of the second. We backed off even further and gave them even more room. And we were sloppy with the ball. There seemed none of the drive we had in the first half. It was inevitable they would score. It’s just amazing we were still in the game right at the end when we missed our two chances.

Before that though we had a single shot. What does that say about this team? What is our philosophy and shape. What is our formation? Where is the balance? At home it’s reasonably apparent. But away from home it looks wrong.

There are too many players that aren’t of the right level. And for once we have to include Koscielny in that list. Today he was poor. And we can’t afford that. Not when we have Xhaka and Bellerin on the pitch. Our distribution down the right hand side is nonexistent. Between and Mustafa and Bellerin we create too many counterattacking opportunities for the opposition.

It was a pleasure to see Jack on the pitch. He was strong in the first half. He threaded through a number of amazing passes. I’d like to see him stay in the starting eleven even when Ramsey is back. And naturally, I’d like us to remove Xhaka.

Overall though, we are a sixth place team that looked overwhelmed and undermatched. Nothing of meaning will happen between now and the end of the year. We will excel in the odd game at home against poor opposition and fail miserably against any top 5 team in addition to losing more away games.

When will this stop? Not for another year would be my guess. This club has run out of ideas. We are now into the middle of the end. This team is no longer Wengers. He’s no longer making all the transfer decisions – there’s no way he would have bought Aubameyang let alone Cigarette. At least we have Ozil for 2+ more years. But the transition has started. And the sooner we can speed it up the better. The focus now turns to the two shittiest cups – League and NoHopa. The latter gives us our only way into the Champions League. Except that we aren’t deserving of being in that competition. We would sink without trace with this team.  We have to clean-house with the team and manager.

I’m really not that angry. It was clear, before the game, who the better team were. We played pretty well in terms of organization in the first half and were then exposed in the second. But we weren’t embarrassed. What a sad statement that is. The bar is so low now that we look not to be embarrassed. That’s where Arsenal FC is now. Outside the top 4 and looking to win the NoHopa cup.


January 28th – Mid Season Review

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Ok, it’s not technically mid-season. But then this is not technically a review either. But it’s been a while since the last post here. This team is a changing. So, before the transfer window slams it’s door shut there are a number of observations to make.

We are shit. We are a sixth place team. The table does not lie. We play like a sixth place team. We are inconsistent. Our squad is too thin of world-class talent. And it’s now even thinner. The club has the attitude of a sixth place team. It aims low and hits that objective. We carry too many average players. How many players would even make the bench for the teams above us in the league. Do you seriously think Ob1 would make the bench? How about Danny Welbeck? Exactly. Mentally we remain fragile. How else do you explain the away-day results at Stoke, Bournemouth and the draws at West Brom and West Ham?

How did we let go of Sanchez before we lined up a proper replacement? Why have we not sign Aubameyang? We all knew at the end of the last transfer window that we had to off load Alexis before he left for free. We tried to unload him at the last minute at the end of that window and failed miserably. Where was the plan? Look how Liverpool traded Coutihno away within a few days and brought in Van Dyke? We lost Alexis for a couple of games (Bournemouth and CP) before off-loading him – why could that not have been done right at the start of the window. Sure, I know there were other teams involved. But that does not explain the lack of movement with Aubameyang.

This one is not on AW. He has been the lightning rod for our lack of movement in prior windows. When we’ve failed to land people others have projected on AW their frustrations. Through their psychic powers people were able to look into the mid of AW and blame him for being miserly with the clubs money – refusing to either pay the fee or the wages. But, just maybe, we’re seeing the real AFC here. Just maybe, it was not AW that, in the past, screwed up transfer negotiations. Remember Suarez and the £40 + 1 penny bid and that fiasco?

This one is not on AW. This one is on Gazidis. He is the one that, visibly, got on the plan to fly to Nazi-land. He’s the one who has not been able to close the deal. If we fail to land him the blame lays there. It’s not on AW nor on Dortmund. Dortmund have been quite clear what they require to close the deal. Money. We are left with three days to the end of the window and little space in which to navigate. I naively assume that this deal will get completed. Boomerang is getting booed by his own fans and we have the money and they need it. But if we fail to bring him in and supporters see other moves – heavens above if Liverpool swoop in for Lemar or Mahrez – the mood till the end of the season will be nasty.

So where is our planning, our strategy and why does everything feel like Groundhog day. We have money from Gabriel, Theo and our Cock. But we won’t get the player we seem to want. I’m not sure he’s the solution to our problems. But if the club feel he is then they should sign him.

This, of course, is one of the primary reason why Alexis wanted to leave. He did not see the ambition of the club. He did not see the desire to surround him with world-class players. Now he’s gone to Manu to play alongside such talented players as Fellaini and Herrera. Good luck mate. But, how would you feel looking around the dressing room at Arsenal and seeing some of our muppets. I understand why he only passed to Ozil. Consider how Alexis stagnated and became more selfish in his play. He had no faith in the other players. I’m not saying this was right on his part but it’s understandable. He wants to play with the best and win titles. Why would Arsenal sign him and then fail to continue to build around him.

Ironically, because of the way Alexis play degenerated into less scoring and more ball hogging, since he’s not been playing for us, our play has improved. Aside from Xhaka and Ramsey, players spend less time on the ball. There is more one touch, quick movement and speed to our play now. We are more threatening on the break and more dynamic going forward. That’s not to say I won’t be pained to see Alexis succeed at ManU; he will make them a better team. He will run his socks off and he will score goals for them. It’s going to be tough to watch. But we brought this on ourselves. We should, in fact, consider ourselves lucky to have gotten anything out of Alexis. Ironically, if we had been just a little better this year he might have stuck around till the end of the season when we would have gotten zilch. However we end up MickeyTaReAnd. Not a bad player at all. Someone who can relegate Ob1 to the bench (and beyond). But we should have managed this such that he ended up at ManCity.

We have two other players coming to the end of their contracts. So, first off – how do we let this happen? How negligent can one club be? It’s hard to imagine an analogous situation. I get reminders from my phone company to pay bills otherwise I lose service. I get threats from the bank to pay the mortgage otherwise I lose our house. I know this because it happens with regularity. So how do Arsenal allow these situations to develop? God only knows.

At least though we have one remaining world class player. Ozil has been majestic this season. The shining light in a cave of doom and gloom. He has been the one player that has been able to elevate the team to a level of play worthy of the history of this club. Forget all the bleating from fans about how lightweight and inconsistent Ozil is. All that moaning about he does not turn up for the big games. Finally, this season, even the doubters realize that this is the remaining jewel from our crown that has been stolen.

So what are the odds that Ozil is an Arsenal player next season. How do we let his contract run out? How much will it cost to replace him? Unless the plan is to play Ob1 in that position. Or maybe MikeyTaReAnd. But when Ozil looks around the changing room what must he also think? At least there are a few fellow Nazi’s to keep him company. At least he can practice his Nazi salutes and goose-stepping routines with his fellow comrades. But aside from that he must despair. And If we don’t bring in Boomerang it will certainly play into his thinking.

Whereas with Alexis the case could be made that his style was antithetical to our pattern of player with Ozil he is pivotal to it. He is the central figure in our team. In many ways he’s more important to us than Fabregas was or even Dennis. Because they at least had other world-class players around them. If we can’t keep Ozil why would any other world-class players consider Arsenal? Who, by then, would be an 8th place team. We would morph into the Everton of the Premier League.

Aside from all this, when are we going to hear any noises about signing a proper, grown-up, adult defensive midfield player? We sold our own Coq and have not considered replacing him? How is that? How do you cut off your Coq and not consider a replacement part? We have been neutered.

We can’t seriously think Elneny is that player. Clearly Xhaka is not. And it’s unfair to even think of Matiland-Niles. So, what are our options here? Rather than just focus on another forward this is the area that requires immediate attention.

interestingly, even though I’m now of the view that AW’s time is drawing to a close – and he could be gone in the summer – little has been made of his tactics. In prior years the claim was that there was no plan B and that our tactics were too rigid. Yet, even in our despair of Bournemouth, we are demonstrating flexible formations and systems. Against Chelski, after suffering for the first 20 minutes, we made formational changes that altered the outcome of the game. While the players might be abject, the tactics and the manager  – in this respect – have not.

The problem is that as the face of Arsenal AW is the lightening rod for all our problems. He is responsible for many of them but not all of them. We need a structure in place for when he does depart. Signing the head of recruiting, a contract person and other football literate people is key – though if the negotiations with Dortmund are anything to go by it’s not clear this is an improvement. We need football leadership at this club and we don’t have it. We have Wenger and when he’s gone we will pine for the days when he controlled everything. Better him than Gazidis.

Finally, broadening out to the other teams you have to laugh at Liverpool and Sp*rs . both seem to be morphing into the Arsenal of 2007+. Watching Liverpool demolish ManCity and then being felled by mighty Swansea reminded me of our inconsistency. Being so dominant going forward and so vulnerable in defense reminded me our the last 10 years of Arsenal. Maybe it all started when we bequeathed them Kolo. Just maybe he introduced a virus into their defense from which they’ve yet to recover.

As for Sp*rs, they also seem to have master the art of throwing away points. With the talent they have on the pitch aligned with their manager, they really should be way more than 3 points above us. In fact, both of these teams have flattered to deceive. With all our mishaps and cock-ups it’s remarkable that we’re only a few points behind. Of course, it will only take a few injuries and/or usually inept performances to rectify that. Both these teams are way better than us. How damming is that statement.

Remember we are a sixth place team for a reason (actually many reasons) – the table does not lie.

OK, for the moment, therapy over.


Jan 14th – Bournemouth 2 Arsenal 1

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If this is what the future looks like then count me out. Put me down. Anesthetize me. This no longer the beginning of the end. It’s more than the end of the beginning. It’s the end. I think this is it for our glorious leader. And it should be for the general leadership at the club – except they are insulated because of AW who will absorb all the abuse and frustration.

How do you loose to Bournemouth when you’re 1-0 up and dominating the game? Easy, you play an under aged, inexperienced defensive line and give away two goals. Simple, you leave out your top scored – Alexis – and you replace him with the world-class skills of a Man United reject – Danny Welbeck.

But it’s so much more than any individual player. It’s now – as it has been for a number of years now – a belief and structural issue. Who can be surprised after our previous away defeats that we let this happen? Let’s face it we are an average team now. We are not top 4. And it’s not clear we’re even top 6. We are average. Accept it. Because Arsenal FC have.

How else do you explain the Alexis and Ozil situation? You leave out Alexis and have no replacement. He’s not even on the bench yet he got time mid-week. How is he on our wage bill still. We all knew this was coming. Just sell the fucking guy and get the replacement in. We now have the worst of both worlds. We have not sold him, have no replacement and yet don’t get to play him. How utterly incompetent is that? Why is this so difficult. Look at Liverpool. They sold Coutinho and bought in a player all within a week. But we dither and futz around. Why? It’s because this club lack leadership and management. We lack the ability to make decisions. Until that is resolved our only progress will be to further decay. Our future is to become a mid-table average team – though maybe we’ve already achieved it.

The irony is that today Ob1 had he’s best game of the season. I can’t blame him. Even Bellend was half way decent. We lost the game because of our defense. For once Cech lets us down. And then our mental fragility caused us to inevitably give up the second goal. Not because they were so good or deserved it. But because we can’t defend. Who thought we’d hold that 1-0 lead? No-one.

We had so many chances though to put the game away. We were so dominant and so much better than them. And we played better football. But between the ears we are weak. Who thought we’d recover once we went behind? How many saves did their GK have to make? How much pressure were they actually under?

But the point is this club is ever so gradual gently sliding into irrelevancy. Before you know it we will be Everton.

Today Jack was excellent. The creative force behind everything good we did. Xhaka was pretty solid. The pair of them played pretty well. Ob1 set up the goal and Maitland-Niles was pretty good. Mustafi was solid. Apart from DW23 everyone was ok or very good. Yet we lost. How can that be. And against, essentially, bottom of the table fare. How many people look back in the 3-3 draw from last year with envy now. One point would not look so bad.

But let’s not kid ourselves. The cancer in this club runs deep. Again, the farcical and incompetent manner in which we handled Alexis speaks volume from the malaise at the club. Really, why is he still with us? Why have we not brought in a forward who can provide us with something more than DW23?  I honestly don’t understand. What are they waiting for? How have we all not been able to see this play out since the summer? Did they not learn anything from the Van Persie fiasco? How is this club actually moving forward.

The result today, whist irritating, frustrating and embarrassing does not teach us anything we did not know. Substitute in Watford or Stoke if in doubt. We are a sixth place team. We are not worthy of the top four. Again, we knew that. So the question is, what are we waiting for? Sell Alexis and get the money. Keeping him and not playing him is insane. It’s appalling business. And it makes us look like morons. Though maybe that’s what we are. Welcome to Moron FC. The club run by morons, played by morons for morons. That’s you and me. Because, for the next six months nothing will change. “Management” have to decide when they want to start on the re-build. They have to decide when they will call time on AW. It won’t be till the summer. But will they have the balls to do it. Because until they do this team cannot be successful. Where here I consider bring in the top 4 as success. I did not mind missing out on the Champions League this year. But that was on the assumption we would re-tool, have a long-term plan and move forward. But when you have this broken Alexis situation and the clear departure of Ozil – our one true world-class player – how can you even consider the notion that this team is evolving or moving forward. Devolving and decaying, yes I can see that.

This is a pivotal time for AFC. It feels like we are going through the post-Wenger period while he is still our manager. I was always worried we’d suffer as did ManUre when Fergie departed. But when he left he left them with the Premiership. Wenger will leave us with nothing. He is in the final throws of destroying his legacy.

So, will we see a post ManU 8-2 loss hyper activity in the transfer market? Will the club display and vision or strategy? In some ways I hope not yet. In some ways I’d be OK with us struggling to get through to the end of the season and then start to see a complete make-over. But only on the basis that there is a clear plan with clear leadership – new leadership.

Between now and then we’ll have the odd good game but that will inevitably be followed by fiasco’s such as this. When you compare the relative qualities of the two teams today then you’d conclude only one team can win. When you watch the first 70 minutes of this game you’d conclude that only one team deserved to win. But, yet, reality is such that this team can’t consistently perform, it has no backbone and the sum of the parts is the less than the whole. That, friends, is not what you want from your team. And it’s not what we need from this club.

So, dark days ahead. Strap yourself in. it’s going to get darker before the light returns. Assuming that it will. How we handle the next 18 months can determine whether we return to our expected levels or whether we complete the switch with our North London rivals. It already feels like we’ve completed a complete club switch. We’ve had 20 years of clear domination based on a strategy, quality players, world-class manager and attracting the best players. But now if feels like they are the new Arsenal and we have become the old Sp*rs. Shoot me now

– LB7


January 7th – Nottingham Forest 4 Arsenal 2

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A Happy new year to the legions of readers of this innovative, agile and technology savvy website. This year the site was honored to be nominated for some many global awards. But the one that was most appreciated was for Best Looking and Most Humane Human Being on Planet Earth. Humbled though I was it was hard to argue with.

The resulting celebrations go some way to explaining the lack of review in the last few weeks;  that combined with abject referring. It’s hard to know where to start. But a short recap is most probably in order.

The Liverpool game was classic Arsenal at it’s best and worst. A microcosm of our team. Crystal Palace was a surprising ray of light whereas the West Brom game was classic Mike Dean at his best.

I’ve never been too bothered about the F.A.Cup – though it’s nice to win it. With all the up coming games in the League Cup and the NoHoppa cup missing out on round 4 is not the end of the world. BTW, you’ll know when we’ve reached the end of the world because just before the Stop sign there’ll be, on the side of the road, two players sitting there lacing up their boots – Ob1 and Theo. Today we saw how utterly awful and useless Ob1 so often is. Considering the opposition it was pretty telling how irrelevant he was. I mean, playing attacking midfield against a below average Championship team, should be the opportunity to assert your ability. Today, we again saw, that aside from the repetitive backwards and sideways passes that there is very limited talent there.

Losing is not so worrying or depressing. What is though, is the persistence of these players in the Arsenal squad. If you offered Ob1 to any other Premier League team (not just in the top 6) who would take him? I know he’s young but I don’t see progression over the last 2 years. Today he was irrelevant. It’s depressing to have to watch the same thing happen game after game. Unfortunately, this lies at the feet of AW. For some reason he believes in Ob1. I can’t believe anyone else in the club does.

Ob1 redefines turgid. He redefines inept. He redefines crap. He redefines wanker. And worse off, I see no hope for us to off-load him. I see no future for Arsenal that does not involve Ob1. How can that be? Especially, (as we try to turn to the positive) when we have Maitland-Niles and Neilson. And Eddie. And Willock. All of whom have an understanding of the game that dwarfs the midget football brain that is Ob1. I despair of running out of insulting adjectives to refer to him by. He’s so poor he makes me wonder whether Bellend is a class player. He’s such a useless fucker that I wonder whether I’d select Theo ahead of him – answer – hell yes.

Today was somewhat of a fluke – two great goals from their Yank defender – he won’t score again this year. But, generally speaking, NF deserved it more than us. We lacked drive and we lacked finishing. Even though DW23 scored he’s just not a forward that can regularly threaten any defense. If you doubt that, please see he’s trademark header off his shoulder in the first half.

The irony is that the youth in the team provided the shining light whereas the experienced players were the liability. I’ll exclude the BFG from the latter because (1) he scored and (2) I don’t like to upset BFG’s at the best of times. MN and Nelson were very impressive. Willock was slightly below this high standard. I also liked Holdings performance and still prefer him to Chambers. But aside from the wanker that is known as Ob1, Elneny was ineffectual, Debuchy was poor, Theo clueless and DW23 poor.

Loosing is not so annoying. What is, is that this squad carries so many below average senior players that are incapable of stepping up to dominate below average Championship competition. It’s not up to the youngsters to lead the way. Today we needed to see leadership from Elneny, Theo, DW23 and even Ob1. This was the chance (again) for these fringe players to assert them selves. And assert themselves they did. They asserted that they would not get into the Nottingham Forest team.

Sometimes I realize that it’s not fun anymore writing these reviews. In the same way it’s not fun watching this team. The predictability of the sub-standard players, the predictability of inter-play and the predictability of the outcome make it so hard to get angry, agitated or annoyed. Change is a coming. Slower than we’d want. But in a year or two most of these dead-weights will be gone to other pastures. We’ll be rid of their wages and their tattoos.

In the meantime, we have to suffer through wasted opportunities like today. How can we lose to NF? Well, aside from the above, we barely tested their goalkeeper. We did not craft chances, we did not pepper their goal and did not stretch their backline. There is this one-dimensional aspect to our play. When those roles are filled by Ozil and Alexis et al, it can be so sweet to watch. But with these second tier players it just won’t come off. Today we missed Giroud and Jack. Our midfield had no penetration nor dive. It was all sideways. And, it was tedious and boring to watch. This is not the Arsenal we’d seen in previous years. This was slow motion, patched-up and sub-standard Arsenal. Is this what we should expect now? I fear so. Even the “first” team carries too much dead weight. And when we (rightfully) sell Alexis in a few days, we’ll be further shorn of class. As valuable as he is to our team we have to get him off our books. Part of me does not care about the loss of money – after all Stan has more than enough in his pocket change to absorb this loss of £25m or £35m; it’s not my money. It’s more to do with moving forward. If not now then in the summer we’ll lose Alexis. So let’s get it over an done with so we can build for the future.

This year, in my view, never involved getting into the top 4. If we are to return to the Champions League it would be via the NoHoppa Cup. And that is a  low probability event. We are not good enough to be in the top 4. If there was any doubt about that you only had to watch our first 22 matches. You can’t lose at Stoke and Watford, draw at West Brom etc and believe your team is one of the top four in the country. I never did. But I do care about next season and the one after that. I do care about our squad and the balance therein. I do care about Ozil. He’s the one truly world class player we have. We have to build a team around him. We have to keep him at Arsenal. Alexis has shown where his interests lie – not that I blame him – but Ozil has not said anything (via the usual channels that Alexis has used). He is ours to keep. But you have to believe he’s watching these developments. Assuming we let Alexis leave now then we have to bring in a replacement now. I don’t think Mahrez fills that position but I’d be more than happy to see him come to us. Let’s take some of that Ox money combine it with the Alexis money and bring in a couple of players. Let’s sell Debuchy and Theo.

What’s disappointing about this review (aside that is from the usual woeful commentary) is the lack of passion. I don’t care as much. I did not care today because it’s all so predictable. I was upset with Dean because of the dropped 2 points at West Brom. And because Dean is an utter cunt. And I’m upset that rather than hold CuntDean accountable the retards at the FA prefer to take the easy option and go after AW. It’s amazing to think the future of football in England is in the hands of such retarded fools. This is a multi-billion pound business being run by pea-brain, old-boys who have no earthly understanding of the game. The success in England is despite these morons not because of it. Wenger is completely right in his observations about referring. How can Dean still be considered a top-flight ref? Dean is the Ob1 of referring. How is there no accountability? Why are there so few refs that can handle premier league games?

Do you know how much these Premier League refs get paid? About £70K. That’s what the best players in the EPL earn in a couple of days. Yet the best refs are treated like serfs. This is a multi-billion pound business. You get what you pay for. And £70K will get you CuntDean. BTW, how much do NBA/NFL refs earn? Upwards of $175K – and there are 6+ refs for those games.

The truth is it’s not his fault he’s a cunt – it’s the fault that the  PGMO (the Professional Fame Match Officials) organization headed up by that ex-ref Mike Riley chooses to support this level of incompetence. This is the root cause of the problems. You combine the PGMO with the FA and then you’ll understand why the future is so bleak. No change is capable of originating from the basterd child of these organizations. But, because they are sheep, they will follow others. So we are dependent on the other European leagues (or even the US) for new ideas and approaches.

Oh a feel better now after that rant. It’s a sad day though when my passions are only aroused not by Arsenal but by our incompetent refs and related organizations. OK, enough bullshit for one day.




December 16th – Arsenal 1 Newcastle 0

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And on the eighth day the Lord created Newcastle United.  A gift to the world. Based on the arse end of the earth frequented by drole northerners and inhabited by the most ardent fans. But destined to be represented by the most average, bland and unforgettable eleven players you’ll ever see. Doubt me? Ok, let’s see if you, dear reader, can name even 4 players on their team? OK, too hard. Try two. Too hard? Thankfully they were our Christmas present today. And boy did we need one.

Today was a game where the points were paramount. We got them. But nothing else. Aside, that is, from the predictability of the performance. And the predictability of my observations. As and when AI is available I’ll be able to use that to write my reviews. Save me the trouble of finding new ways to say the same thing.

There was a different look to the formation today. Expecting a parked bus we were able to include a more offensive mid-field. And offensive it was. I was offended by Xhaka and, unfortunately, even by Jack. But mostly Xhaka. He continues to make careless passes in dangerous areas. Suffice it to say, after 1+ years of watching him,  I don’t get him. If I was going into battle I would hope he was the guy I was fighting.  For Jack, I’d been expecting more. He played higher up the pitch today and was hardly involved. And when he dropped back he demonstrated that he’d been carefully watching Xhaka by – late in the second half – giving the ball away on the edge of our box.

And as for Bellerin. WTF. He had little defensive duties but he’s so one dimensional it begs belief. And I see little if any progression in his game. He is our own Spanish Theo. All speed and no technical skills nor tactical acumen. Too often he’s faced with opportunities near the opposition goal and he does not know what to do. Sure, he was involved in our goal but even a broken clock is right twice a day. Like Xhaka he makes too many stray, careless passes. And he also prefers to play the ball sideways or backwards. He won’t use he’s speed to attack the opposition. On too many breakways he makes the wrong runs and the wrong decisions. And nothing seems to change. There is now growth, no development, no evolution. I’m sure I’ll be saying the same thing in another 3 years. Though hopefully by then his Barca-DNA will force them to acquire him for £35m. Because it’s not like we have anyone else challenging him for that role.

However, on the left we had Maitland-Niles. He was a bright light in the dour coal-minds of this game. Technical, fast and football aware. A player with a football IQ. It’s a miracle. Maybe we can try him on the right hand-side. Against real opposition you might not want him on the pitch but he shows progress and development. Maybe he can be our savior.

Because last years savior is a shadow of his former self. I’m desperate for the January window to open so we can take him down to Waitrose or Sainsbury’s or even Tesco’s and exchange him for a Christmas tree and three glasses of muld-wine. The only positive thing was that he finally got substituted before the end. Alexis is now an impediment to this team. He will score goals at some point (and maybe not for us) but currently he over elaborates, takes too many touches and is way too predictable in his movements. He slows the game down and exposes our defense by going backwards when the teams’ momentum is forward. In another 10 days he could be gone. In the meantime, he should be on the bench. We should have Giroud and Cigarette up front. Not that Cigarette was on form today. But with Jack in the #10 spot he received little service again. But he also screwed up his chip on the goalie. I like this boy (not in that sort of way, of course) but we need to just let him play the full 90 minutes.

The defense was hardly tested today but we saw Monreal return to his usual solid performance whereas Kosclieny still looks like he’s a game away from being out with an Achilles problem.

We won 1-0, we got three points. But this was basically due to one man and one man only. Ozil ruled this game. He ran our team and dominated the game. He was the only player out there that was pure class. If Alexis wants to leave to be able to play with world class players, when Ozil looks around he can only wish he had that supporting cast – and that includes Alexis. Today Ozil was masterful. And he’s goal was sweet perfection. He read that entire move and drop back in anticipation of the ball being cleared to him and then, demonstrating perfect technique buried it in the next. If only Alexis would take note. Based on the last three months if we only have to sign one of these two, as I’ve said before, grab as much money as you can for Alexis and invest in Ozil. He is our creative spark. He is our creator-in-chief. Alexis is energetic, passionate and talented. But he’s also flawed. And we’re seeing those flaws. An ideal place for him would be Man City. They have tons of money and he could not do much damage to us there. It’s not like they haven’t already won the league. It’s not like they are not already going to beat us in our next encounter. It’s not like him going there will tip the scales in their favour. So, let’s take their money. And then invest in a Khaka replacement. And let’s play Giroud up front with Ciagrette.

I appreciate that Wenger mixed up the formation today and the selection. He knows it’s not working. For all our famed creativity, we are struggling to score goals. That’s two goals in the last four games. Somehow, somewhere we have to find that right balance. It just feels a long way away. We are now entirely dependent on Ozil for our spark. Jack is missing fitness and touch. Xhaka is too bland. And Alexis is too disruptive. You know Alexis is off his game when Ob1 looks like a bigger threat.

Next up – ignoring the mid-week encounter between our reserve team in the League/Milk/Corobo/WhatsItCalled Cup – on Friday has us playing against the mighty Ox. Will he come back to haunt us as he snuggly sits on the bench? Can we possibly play as bad as we did at Anfield? Wenger will be conscious that this is a big game and that we’ll need more defensive stability. Newcastle barely troubled us. But Liverpool are an entirely different proposition. If Mustafi is fit we can resume our normal Nazi contingent and revert to a back three. Wenger might go all DarthVader on us and try parking the bus. But there won’t be a place for Jack and I suspect Kolinsac will be back – BTW, where is he?

Your humble write will be traveling over this period so normal service might be disrupted. I know this might sour many peoples Christmas period. For this I can only apologize. I realize how pivotal this website can become to the lives of so many people. How we have brought food to the hungry. How we have brought joy to the downtrodden. But, fuck it. I need a holiday. I can’t deal with watching the dross we saw today. I might even write the Liverpool review tomorrow where I bemoan our early defensive lapses and then struggle to get back into the game only to be hit on the counter-attack as we overcommit with 5 center-forwards on the pitch.


December 10th – Southampton 1 Arsenal 1

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This was a game of the two hulks. The BFG donated one goal and then our SuperSub snatched the equalizer.

It looked like March had come early and had 0-1 written all over it. The first 10 minutes were torrid. We were weak at the back. They should have put the game away before half-time. And did I mention we were shit?

I can see us reverting to a back four very soon. And after today you can see why.

But let’s not forget we dropped 2 more points against a very boring and average Saints team. Apart from a Monreal shot that went wide, aside from Girouds header, I can’t remember their oh-so-ugly goalie making a save in the second half. As an aside, I do wonder whether the inept and corrupt FA might introduce a rule that deducts 3 points when a team fields a truly ugly player. Why should hard working fans toil all week to then have to spend their money watching such ugly people play the beautiful game? It just seems wrong. And, of course, we’d earned 4 points. And somehow this Elephant Man even plays for England. Enough said. Let’s hope he gets picked to go to Russia and then gets lost in Siberia somewhere (though that’s a little unfair to Siberia).

Where was I? Oh, did I mention that we had more possession than a cannabis dealer but could not create any chances. We spurned chances to shot in order to thread the needle and create the perfect goal. Though I’m relieved we did not lose it’s still pretty pathetic to feel it’s an achievement to get just a point in this type of game. We are not good enough and we run out of ideas. Sure, the BFG should be put out to pasture. I love this guy and look forward to him being the Academy director. But today it took him 20 minutes to warm up and get from 1st gear to second. It’s just a shame that that is he’s only a two gear player. Alongside him Koscielny looked unconvincing . His distribution is uncertain and when it get’s played out on our right it looks like we’re always about to turn the ball over. And, why is that? It’s because our Spanish darling still does not know how to really play the game. Today I thought he was a liability. Too often he gets shoved off the ball. He’s a light-weight in the tackle and he’s forward passing is indecisive. He takes too long on the ball and is scared to take on his man. All our incisive play is down the left – as it was against Manure.   In a back four – to which we reverted – he gets caught up field and exposes the defense. At the end of the game it was Ozil that tracked back to snuff out one of their counter-attacks while Bellend was left upfield.

Today, everything good we did ran through Ozil. He worked so hard. But why is Alexis taking up his space? At this point I’d be happy to get some money for our Chile pepper. He even spurned chances to shot when in the box to create that special goal. He seems lost tactically and liability on the ball. He’s passing is off and he takes the momentum out of our play. I feel sorry for Cigarette. He got no service and was always forced to play intricate passing outside the box. Too often the team played side to side and not forward. This speaks to the imbalance in the team. We can’t evolve with Xhaka and Bellend. I would prefer to see Jack replace Xhaka. Except that now it will be Jack replacing Ramsey. Ramsey was not dominating today but we’ll still miss him as he suffers from his annual thigh/groin injury that will keep him out for 6 weeks.

And how stupid is Theo. After being the only forward to shine mid-week he gets a calf injury that causes Theo -1.0 to get playing time. Badbeck did zero once he came on. This guy is speedily going no-where.

There is no way we can let our hulk go out on loan this January. I get that he wants playing time. We should drop Alexis to the bench and play the French/German axis up front. But that won’t happen.

I also wonder what the deal is with the Serbian-tank. Maybe it’s an adjustment period to our league but he does get pulled out of position and seems less involved in these games.

But I’m worried. We looked vulnerable today. Austin could have had a couple of goals early on. Bellend is a liability. In either formation. And Xhaka is somewhere between a pooh and full on diarrhea. And worse, than that (if that’s possible) was our overall lack of creativity. It reminds me when Hleb was playing for us. All possession and sideways movement. There was only one breakout counter-attack move from their corner in the first half. Thereafter it was too slow and too ponderous. All sideways and back. This allowed an organized Saints team to pack their defense as we tried to thread that needle.

We always knew this would be a long season. This type of game reminds us that the false dawns of Sp*rs/Burnly will be quickly followed by these type of disjointed performances.

There is little to be excited about. And if we loose Ozil we’re screwed. There will be more false dawns of course. But we’re lacking a steel and I’m getting more concerned about our key players – Kosclieny and Alexis. We can’t win without them finding their game again. There are plenty of upcoming games for this to happen. But the inevitable injuries will just apply more pressure.

Rather than being happy that we gained a point I can’t figure out where this team is going and why I should have any faith in them. We seem to be one game away from a complete disaster. It sounds contradictory to see a team grab an equalizer in the last 3 minutes and then claim the team is fragile. But the benchmark should not be striving to get into the NoHoppa league next year nor even the top four but being genuinely competitive. And we’re just not that team. In a funny way this result and this performance was more soul destroying than the Manure game. And all of these players had a full weeks rest.

So I’m going to go away and steel myself for a painful Christmas period. There are too many games and too many opportunities for us to fuck up for me to have any real sense of optimism. Maybe I’ll write a letter to Santa – or maybe, just send him an email – and put in a late request for a return to health of our Santi. Then given that he’s Santa not God, I’ll ask for something that more achievable. A new defense midfield player and new right wing back. Along with my acquisition of all shares of AFC. Then I can replace AW with myself as manager and sit on the bench alongside the legend that is Steve Bould. Now that would be fun.

– LB7


December 2nd – Arsenal 1 Manchester United 3

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Happy Christmas Manchester United. Take that. Oh, and one more.

Fuck it. You gotta laugh. We could have played for 180 minutes and we’d still not have scored more than one. We hit the bar the post, missed so many chances and watch miraculous saves from De Gea.

Our defense imploded. We saw a dress rehearsal against Huddersfield towards the end of the first half. The difference was they were good enough to take advantage whereas MU were.

What was Kosclieny doing with that cross field ball? Five minutes later Xhaka dwelled on the ball and then Mustafa doubled down but holding onto it for too long. I thought he was substituted from a case of extreme embarrassment. The strongest part of our team for the last 3 games decided to give MU an unnecessary helping hand.

It’s funny really MU used our tactics against Sp*rs against us – pressing the back three and cutting off the distribution and thus forcing us into bad decisions.

Thereafter we overcommitted and asked them to hit us on the counter attack. On how many occasions were disorganized such that it required Ozil or Ramsey to be the player chasing them back.

But oh the chances we missed. You got laugh. The first half was a one way possession. It’s not possible to go through the list because it’s so long. After 45 minutes I was sure we weren’t going to score. Then the only pass of the game that Alexis made that actually went to our own team allowed Ramsey to make that perfect pass to Cigarette. Back in it at 1-2 we looked in complete control. But then yet again Koscielny made his second mistake with Pogba to allow the killer third goal. And Pogba though it would be fun to make the game more interesting by assaulting Bellend. But even with 10 men as long as one of the was De Gea we were not going to score another one.

Generally speaking Mariner is one of the better refs – not that that says too much – and I thought he controlled the game pretty well and most of his decision were reasonable. Sending Pogba off was a choice other refs might have dodged. But I don’t see how he could fail to give a penalty when Welbeck was tripped in the box. And what about the linesman – he was 20 feet from the incident. How can he not flag that foul? What’s the point of him being there if he can’t see that clear foul. Obviously he did but then just lacked the balls to raise his flag.

Today as abject as Alexis was, Ozil was dynamic. He controlled our creativity and helped propel our inventiveness. Cigarette is a natural forward to will be disappointed that he was only able to convert one chance today. His link up play is exceptional and he’s physically strong. But it’s the third leg of our famed forward line that was missing today. Nearly every decision was the wrong one and he wandered into all the wrong positions on the field. He crowded out the space for others. This was the big game were Ozil is supposed to disappear but instead Alexis beat him to it.

Ramsey was effective today making those late dangerous runs into the box. Even Ob1 came on and was impressive. Bellend was not so bad but Kolasinac should have known better for that first goal where he waited for the ball to reach him. Monreal was OK and relative to the other two was a star. As was Cech. Can’t blame him for any of this. Even the Wenger decisions were good moves. When Mustafa slinked off you though we’d see the BFG. But Ob1 was a good call. And then to see the back of Xhaka early on. It’s just a shame that Giroud decided to play like a pussy. You can so clearly see the difference between our French hulk and a Frenchman that is aggressive in penalty box that wants to shoot rather than flick the ball off to someone else.

Aside from losing, dropping three points and making Darth Vader happy, it’s a shame we imploded in ten minutes because it denied us the chance to witness a tight, close fought, tactical  game. Instead we had one of the most open games witnessed in a long time as we threw caution to the wind as we battered De Gea.

None of this is why we lost. We lost because of us. Because we self destructed in the first 10 minutes. And that’s down to us. That’s down to  mental preparation and attitude. And, today, you have to point the finger at Kosclieny. Our captain.

Remember, we always have Arsenal 2 Sp*rs 0



Nov 26th – Burnley 0 Arsenal 1

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Lee Fucking Mason. Who would have believed it if that had not seen it with their own eyes. After giving Burnley every free-kick and dubious push and tackle. After having even penalized Ramsey at the end of the first half after he’d been clobbered by one of their lot, he gives us the most important decision of the game. I was looking for someone else to take that penalty rather than Alexis. But he scrapped it in and we came away with both the three points and a clean sheet. Amazing. Two wins in a row. Let the season end now.

The first half was dysfunctional. We could not seem to retain the ball. There were a couple of challenges just inside our half where I could have sworn Xhaka chickened out. He was barely involved in the game and Ramsey was taking his usual too many touches. But where was Ozil? We were down to a single Nazi in our team. Instead we had to watch Ob1 flitter around the pitch. It’s times like this that you realize (if you’d not been watching for the last 3 or 4 years) how much we miss Ozil.

In the second half though we came out with more purpose, pushed Burnley back and dominated. They were much less dangerous than they were in the first half. Gudmanssoon tested us in that first half. He looked quite good. Cech looked even better though. As, to be fair, did our entire defense.

What is up with Mustafa? I think someone has occupied his body and mind. And instead of the gormless, panicky player that gives away possession we actually have a real defender who fearlessly throws himself at the ball in dangerous areas. Only once today did he play a wayward pass. Does this mean he’s actually coachable? I hope so. Now if only someone could turn their attention to our right wing-back. Bellend is utterly gormless. It looks like he just does not know what to do the with ball when it’s at his feet. He’s become Walcott-like in his fear of taking on his man. Instead it’s always square and backwards. And he is just so flimsey on the ball that the other team has to blow on him and he gives away possession. Not that I would want Ox in that position – he was, as usual, ineffective against Chelski playing in that right-wing position that he hates so much; not that he’ll keep his place in the team when Llanlana, Mane and other return. Back to Bellend. Because we had both him and Ob1 on the right, it meant all our penetration and purpose came down the left hand side. Kolinsac combined well with both Alexis and Monreal. Between them the final ball and/or cross was lacking but they caused all the Burnley all sorts of problems.

Cigarette must be so frustrated. He worked so hard but rarely received the ball. This boy is a star but he can’t shine if they don’t pass to him. He makes the runs but without Ozil there’s no-one to feed him the ball. All his runs down the right channel were wasted because Bellend won’t go forward and can’t beat his man. Like Walcott (did I mention this before) he won’t use his pace. But Cigarette will score for us and does lead the line. When he comes short for the ball he’s got the balance and control. And then, unlike our French beauty, can sprint upfield.

In the first half, Ramsey had a wonderful chance after gorgeous work by Cigarette down the left channel. He should at least have hit the target. But then he was the only person making that run into the box. To go in level at half-time was better than I expected. I thought they bullied us and out worked us. But, at least in the second half, we controlled the game. It was also good to see Jack come on instead of Ob1. If we could put Ob1 and Bellend in a package deal and send them to Barcelona that would be ideal. I don’t think Bellend will ever fully adapt to the physical side of the English game – he’s better suited to Spain. It’s a shame we have no ready replacement though. As for Ob1 at least we have Ozil and Jack.

Today we won the three points because of our newly discovered rock-solid defense. Cech was outstanding again. And in addition to Mustafa, Monreal and Kosclieny were excellent. It’s a pity that don’t get the physical protection in front of them. Khaka was poor in the first half and only came into the game as Burnley got tired. But there’s no way we can win the league (next year not this – City have it won already) with this guy in the team. He’s a B+ player at best. But, for someone of his size, he loses way too many tackles and, unfortunately like Ramsey, is too slow on the ball.

I know I should be happier after these possibly undeserved three points but it was frustrating to see how slow we were in possession and lacking in inventiveness.  There was very little movement except for Alexis. We missed our creator in chief and it was not clear who was supposed to step up into that role. But at least we seem to have a defense now. And maybe that’s due to Mustafa. I’m hesitant to believe his new focus and concentration will persist. There was one time in the second half when, a la BFG, he went chasing a ball from our half way line into their half and left a gaping hole in our defense. It was only because their forward had no speed that they could not exploit that opportunity. But, it seems rare now that he’s that reckless. And long may he remain more Adams-like than Cygan or Stephanov-like.

They say that for teams to be successful they need to gain points when they don’t play well. It seems like we should be very successful then. We did not play that well this week. And, against poor opposition, I don’t think we did last week. But the next couple of games will tell us a lot. For these games we can’t really rotate the way we do in the NoHopa League. Having to play midweek and then face up to Darth Vader at the weekend will test the team. I hope the devil comes with his usual defensive posture of not losing. I just wish we could change Xhaka and Bellend. Then we could have a real team. We need the right hand side of the team to be functional and we need a strong physical presence. Who do you think would win in a tackle between beefy Xhaka and midget-man Kanti? No contest, right.

Anyway, here we sit in the top four after losing to Liverpool, Stoke, Watford et al. Funny old game. As much as City are running away with it, there are still many points to be dropped before we go through our usual late winter collapse. Though, we seem to have come through November relatively unscathed. Maybe that’s progress.