Monthly Archives: March 2017

Mar 18th – West Brom 3 Arsenal 1

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There is little, if any, life left in this team. We are heading into the middle ages here. It’s going quite dark and will be for a while.

We actually started really well. We pressed and controlled the game. We dominated possession and started with real energy. We looked good. And yet somehow we contrived to throw it all away. And in such a predictable way. Watching this unfold is just so sad and depressing.

Let’s take some time to review this team and our play. Alexis (pre-hack) was excellent. The left hand side of our team controlled the game. On the other hand, on the right Theo was still recovering from not being selected in the England squad and Bellerin was left by himself too often.

Ox was very solid and Chaka was worthy today of a correctly spelt name. This was – by a country mile – his best performance in an Arsenal shirt.  He controlled the midfield changing direction and tempo when needed. Some of his long passes were outstanding. I can’t think of a misplaced pass. Unfortunately, ahead of him there was an ineffective Ramsey and a weak version of Welbeck. Not that I was unhappy with the team selection. Having Welbeck up front seemed like a good strategy (to start with anyway). But, today, he did little. But still more than Theo.

Yet, we found a way to self destruct. How can it be that going into a game versus WBA we don’t have a strategy for defending corners. Two goals from the same player making the same run. How is that possible? At this level of football? I can’t fathom it. We play a zone marking system but there is no-one in the zone where Dawson was? I don’t get it. For that second of the two he beat two other WBA players to the header – there was no Arsenal player anywhere near them. They were all at the front post. How is that zonal marking when no-one is marking a zone?

For the second goal you had the now, regular, frailties, of Mustafa missing a clearing header to gift them possession and then the, regular weakness of Ospina in goal gifting them the opportunity. Ospina had, literally, nothing, to do all game and yet gave them the second goal and could not get off his line for the third one. There was a smidge of a shout for offside on that second goal in the build up but that’s no excuse for how Ospina came out so slowly and then could not recover for the trickle shot under his body.

There was not the slightest indication we’d lose the game prior to this point. But, in classic Arsenal style (of late) we found a way. By the end we were a sorry state of a team – we barely had a chance on goal (OK, Welbeck had a header and Mustafa was fouled for a non-penalty on the rebound). But beyond that, we were going nowhere. We ended up looking downtrodden and lost.

How does this happen? How can you lose to WBA – and lose like this? We basically gave them this win. They played a predictable game. We had the possession and then caved in. Losing Cech was massive – though he was also at fault for the first goal. Our reaction to their first goal was perfect. We recovered to dominate the game further and carve out an excellent goal. The pass from Chaka to Sanchez was exceptional; Ozil-like in it’s vision and precision. It looked like Alexis missed his chance to shoot but then perfectly put the ball past the goalie and defender. Game on! We had not deserved to be one-goal down and now we were in the driving seat. We had started well and then had reacted well to their goal.

But there were a couple of turning points. Losing Cech is a big deal (as his first half save showed). And then the McLean hack on Alexis effectively ended Alexis day. You could see in the second half that Alexis was still hobbled by the hack – and hence he was finally substituted. With this team we need someone with creativity, passion and a goal-scorer. And that is Alexis. Without him we were toothless. Without him we were devoid of ideas. How many saves did Foster have to make in the second half?

Of course this is now all secondary to the heavy cloud hanging over the team. The focus will be on the manager. I understand that. But, honestly, I would like the focus to remain on the players. They were the ones on the pitch. They were the ones that disappeared when they were needed.

How was it that Koscelny did not win a single header at Rondon the entire game. He also over committed on the half way line a couple of times and got out muscled by Rondon each time. Rondon! Not Costa or Ibra but Rondon! How is it that Mustafi does not know how to pass the ball to our midfield players? How does Mustafa continue to make crucial mistakes in each game. How can Ospina come off the bench – desperate for first team minutes – and screw up like that? In summary, how abject was our defense today? Where was the leadership? This team makes too many simple mistakes. We see this each game now. Most of them are from Mustafa. But today he had Ospina and the rest of the defense to blame as well.

There is no doubt that todays performance and result is the low point (or no point) of the season. Losing to Bayern, given the injury to Koz and then the corrupt referee in the second game is one thing. But losing like this at WBA to such entirely predictable goals against and entirely predictable team is unacceptable. WBA brought nothing to the game; they sat back and let us have the ball. Our weakness is when (good) teams press us high up the pitch. Today we had the ball. And this is why Chaka was so good. And yet, we found a way to self-destruct. By the end this team looked completely defeated, despondent and lost. They knew they were better than WBA but they did not know how to beat them.

Moving onto the rest of the team – what happened to Theo? Why is Ramsey so much more effective in his international team? Where was the on-field reaction. Why is someone not organizing the defense for corners? Sure, the coach/manager is responsible for the tactics and training ground preparation. I assume during the week coming up to this game there was planning on how to defend a corner. But when, literally, the entire team ball watches and then gets beaten in the air I don’t know how the manager is responsible for that.

But, of course, he is. He is responsible for placing faith in these players. And, aside from pre-hack Alexis and Chaka and (possibly) Ox, nearly each and everyone of them could be upgraded. Then the question becomes, does AW have the appetite for that. The club now have not just two weeks but a season or two to re-build out of the glare of Champions League football. This team is not good enough – in reality – to claim a top four spot. There are at least four teams consistently better than us – and the table does not lie. Even beyond the top 4 this team has the potential to end up 7th – behind Everton. We’ve demonstrated our lack of ability all season long. If the team can’t come back after the most recent defeats and recover against WBA then this season is done. Forget the Man City game. This team is too fragile. It’s only has a couple of world class players. It needs a rebuild.

DB10 mentioned that we should sell our English/Welsh players to the premium clubs who will pay a premium for home grown players and then re-invest it. Not the worst idea I’ve heard. We should be planning for long term success and that should start now. Whether we get into the top 4 is a distraction. Because, even if by some miracle we do, this team has not further growth potential.

I’m sure between now and the end of the season we’ll have a swan song game where everything clicks and we look tremendous. But that will also be a distraction. We have the potential now to hit the reset button on this team. The question is, clearly, whether, during this long cold winter, our manager should be AW or do we bring in someone new. There is an argument here that leaving AW in charge will give him the runway to definitely prove that he should not be manager. Perverse as that sounds it would then land the next manager in a position where rather than being expected to continue the 20 year run in Europe the expectations would be such that there is a two year re-build during where we might not make Europe. The danger is that by taking this approach we won’t be able to attract the worlds best players and thus it will be harder to complete the re-build.

To contradict myself though, I think it’s becoming clear that these players are not of the caliber we need. There is a lack of fiber, character and leadership. I’m not saying AW bears no responsibility. It’s just that he does not carry the entire responsibility. The players cannot escape their responsibility. And nor can the Arsenal Board. They are as derelict in their duty as anyone. They have enabled the vacuum of football knowledge in this club to expand. And they are in no position to chart out a path without Wenger.

Wenger will be with us for the rest of the season. He might not be here next year. He will decide. But what of the players. Should they be with Arsenal? Todays (and previous days) evidence is that the majority should not be. We need a passion and drive in this team that is clearing missing. We are in need of another goalkeeper, center half, a left back, a true defensive midfield player, a world class striker and a winger. We need to sell Ramsey (not that he was the worst player today – that’s a high bar 🙂 ), Monreal, Gibbs, Mustafa, Welbeck, Ospina, and GIroud. And most of the other players will end up being bench players. This overhaul will take a couple of years.

We have two weeks now to further dissect this abject performance. I am now thoroughly convinced that this team is done. It can’t go further forward. This is not just an emotional reaction to todays performance. We have the witnessed a consistency to our under-performance for long enough to not over-react to one game. The over-reaction though will be to AW’s presence. That will be a mistake. That is not the issue now. The issue is the responsibility of the players. They should be held accountable for this.

-LB7

 

Mar 11th – Arsenal 5 Lincoln 0

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Phew. That was close. For once 5 goals are scored and we’re the team on the winning side. We should play non-league opposition more often – it’s highly underrated. Though Brighton and Burnley might not be of the same view. Luckily we’re not Brsenal FC.  And thankfully Lincoln will still be financial beneficiaries. Unlike in regular league games where the home team keeps the gate receipts, in the F. A. Cup, for this round, when the away team is a non-league team, they get 50% of the net gate receipts. I bet you did not not know that. See, come here and you’ll always be assured of mind expanding knowledge.

Unfortunately there won’t be much else to learn from todays game. Well, not stuff you’d not already know. And stuff we’ve not already commented on time and time again. Not that that stops me.

For one, we should ban anyone playing for Arsenal if their names starts with a G. That way we won’t have to watch either Gibbs or Giroud. Previously I’ve stated that Giroud is a B+ player. I meant to say B+ at the nursery school level. How can an international player struggle against a non-league team? Ask Giroud, he’ll be able to explain that. This was like his old self. Slow and wasteful. It was nice to see Gibbs pull-off a perfect Giroud imitation when presented with a clear header in the second half and literally from the same spot that Giroud missed against Bayern. Prior to that Gibbs found ways to lose the ball, pass to no-one and get beaten by his man a few times. I’ve always liked him being that he’s been with us for 10 years. That imbues some loyalty. Bu at some point he needs to improve or move on. And I’m pretty sure that after 10 years we can say it’s move on. We need someone who can put real pressure on Monreal; bring on our boy Cohen.

Also, by having big, lumpy Giroud up front our entire game shape is static and sticky. It’s slow and ponderous. In that first half he hardly won a single challenge against a non-league bunch of defenders. How can that be? Once he was replaced by Perez, we became more mobile and faster in possession. It’s a shame he did not get to score. One of these days, in the not too distant future, Perez will start a game. Imagine that wonderful day.

And, Gamsey. How frustrating is he? Sure, he scored. And in their 1/3rd of the pitch he can sometimes looks like a real footballer. But for most of that first half he did nothing – aside from getting out-paced by a bunch of non-league players. He rarely helped the link up play. He barely moved the ball forward. What are we to do with him? A midfield of him and Chaka will not create and can’t really defend.

How stupid was the yellow that Chaka received? Why go to ground like that? When – if ever – will he learn his lessons? To offset that he’s passing was good – changing direction and opening up the game. He does do that well.

Ox was, for the limited time he was on the pitch, one of the few players in that first half that looked engaged. But, how often does he pick up these injuries? Just when he’s getting into his stride with a number of games. Just as he’s starting to earn a regular starting role in the team. He’s now at the point where we will actually miss him. That cross field pass to Bellerin in the first half was excellent.

Bellerin is still working his way back to his prior levels. Again today he made a bunch of mental mistakes – a concentration issue really. But going forward he looked more like his old self. He linked up well with Theo today. And Theo today was good Theo. Of course, it’s easy to be good against a non-league teams. Though don’t tell Giroud that. Theo moved around and found space and was at least positioned in the right place to have chances; unlike Giroud. How we needed that goal just before half-time. Care of a couple of deflections, that was a well-taken goal.

The second half was entirely different. Oh, I know. It was a game of two halves.  It’s been a while since I’ve said that. See, I told you you’d learn nothing more today. But in the second half we were more mobile and sharper. I don’t understand that first half performance. I don’t understand how the team can’t play consistently for two halfs of a game. It really makes no sense. Of course, the non-league team were facing the reality of a loss and can’t be expected to have the same fitness levels. It was though nice to see Ozil involved in the game. And good to get our Coq back on the pitch.

We also learned today that Cech is a better goalkeeper than Ospina. Who knew that?

So, while we avoided a banana skin, I’m sure no-one was entirely happy. A cloud is hanging over this club. The fans – or so-called fans – are in revolt. The truth is that they are revolting and not really fans. They are morons who claim to support the club but would rather channel their anger onto AW and undermine our team. I detest the idea that people are organizing demonstrations against AW. It’s so utterly futile and disrespectful. Both to AW and, more importantly, the club and it’s fans. Who the fuck do these people think they are? Do they think they own the club or that any club is a democracy?

If these wankers want to do something constructive, then focus on the right target. It’s not our manager – it’s the ownership. Go after Silent Stan. Go after our million pound CEO. Why pick on AW after all he’s done? It’s not he’s fault he’s the manager. What’s he supposed to do? Fire himself? That’s the boards job. More importantly, we’ve not finished the season yet. Let’s see how bad we are 🙂 Or maybe, as fans we can hope to improve as a team and compete until the end of the season. And that’s the right time to make decision. How the hell do you turn up to a game to support your team with a placard or banner stating that AW should leave? What’s the expectation for the game? That we’ll lose? Is that the hope so that person can get their 1 minute of fame by having their ugly mug on TV. The results will drive everything here. If we fold against ManCity, Man U and Sp*rs it’s obvious what happens. If we continue to fail against the top 6 there will be change. Let the results dictate that. In the meantime, hopefully, the team can resurrect itself and save their manager. I’m not too optimistic but, as a fan, allow me my deluded hopes.

See, i said you’d learn nothing else new today.

-LB7

March 10th – Bonus Reading

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This will be short and sweet. Anyone that knows me knows that I am of a sunny disposition. Some might even say lighthearted and optimistic. But certainly not the type to be bitter, jaded and cynical. Far from it.

But, let’s be clear. Last night and the night before that were entirely bullshit. The contrast could not be greater if you had planned it out.

In two games across 24 hours we saw the vagaries of referees and UEFA. How the plaudits are raining down on Barcelona. If De Maria had not flopped in the way he perfected at ManU we’d not be having to deal with this usual Barca love-fest.

Yet, two  referees with two identical situations handled them in diametrically opposite ways. It was like each game was played in an alternative universe.

Please explain how in the Barca game for that first penalty, the referee does not even want to give a penalty and then the extra sideline linesman (who’s further away from the play) convinces the referee to give the penalty? Neymar intentionally falls over the falling PSG player. But it’s Barca. So it’s a penalty. On the other hand Theo is fouled in the box and there is no penalty.

Then for the second penalty (not the one where Cannibal-boy had a swan-dive and received a yellow) but the one where he was barely touched and fell over. The referee is convinced it’s a penalty – is desperate to award it. And yet, only issues the defender with a yellow card; PSG remain with 11 men. Yet, in our game when Koz “fouls” LadenHosen not only is it an immediate yellow but it then, somehow,  because of the extra sideline linesman, is overturned and becomes a red card – game over.

Sure, in this case PSG were the beneficiaries. But surely it now demonstrates the utter bullshit that is UEFA refereeing. And the complete confusion that is the ‘5th” referee. Who knows what the fuck they are seeing and doing.

All these arguments about not using technology to help referees. For instance, how they can’t have an upstairs referee guide the on-field referee because the on-field referee would not have control over the match? What the hell did these two games demonstrate – that they already don’t control the game because they do as the ‘5th’ referee tells them.

Please get rid of the 4th referee and put them in a booth up stairs with a mic and a quick replay and review technology system to quickly scream into the on-field referees ear.

Barca started with an off-side goal from the cannibal. Then got an own-goal plus two penalties. Don’t tell me there is a level playing field. How is it that Barca can get two penalties in a game? We can barely get one per season.

Question – How many Barca players have been sent off in any UEFA game? And how many Arsenal players? Normalize that number by games each team has played and you’ll see that some teams – Hm, which ones I wonder – are immune to red cards and are treated with kid gloves to ensure the right teams get through to the last few rounds.

Of course, I’m not saying that Arsenal deserved to get through. But by sheer incompetence of the referees we were denied the chance to even see what might have been the outcome.

So don’t, please, put Arsenal in the same category as PSG. They at least were able to keep all 11 men on the pitch.

OK, that was it. As promised. Short and sweet

Notice I never said I was not a bitter, twisted fucker

– LB7

Mar 7th – Arsenal 1 Bayern 5

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OK, bring on Lincoln!

For all the likely moaning about this result, AW and the failure of this team it’s hard to be too upset. No-one really expected us to qualify. It was always about respectability and improvement. And up until we were reduced to 10 men we have a semblance of that. There had been an interesting, open game developing.

I’d been considering writing an article about how much better CL refs are than English ones. How the myth of better refs in England was false. I’m glad I passed on that. I’m sorry, there’s no way you can send Koz off and give a penalty. Thereafter the game became even more irrelevant. Even with Koz on the field we were never going to qualify. No-one ever thought that would be the case. But by sending off Koz and seeing the same floodgates open it just re-creates the story of a failed Arsenal and a failing club. For the moment, I’d prefer to talk about the game.

It was interesting to see that even with Ramsey in the team it was Ox who started in the center of midfield. Ox seemed the most distraught by the scoreline. He did not stop the entire game. Sure some of his efforts were misguided but he held his own in midfield. It’s not necessarily true that he’s our future but it’s at least pleasing to see him improve in this position.

And our friend Ramsey was interesting. He provided no cover to Monreal. He looks just so slow in covering back. But going forward he’s really quite dynamic. When he moved into an Ozil like position he comes alive in ways we never see when he’s playing the holding role.

Losing Welbeck in the warm-ups was impactful. I was looking forward to seeing Alexis upfront. Instead we had to see Giroud labour to link up with the team. Unfortunately, nearly all his touches were misplaced. And, in the second half, he had a game changing free header in the penalty box that he could not even get on target (care of Ramsey).

Bayern were more mobile and controlled large parts of the first half but we found a way to withstand their onslaught and create chances. Theo missed the first one laid on by Alexis with a heavy touch. He then redeemed himself with a bullet shot past Neuer. This was another classic Theo performance. All too often he loses control of the ball (as he did leading up to his goal) but he does have a knack for taking his chances. You could see his clumseyness all throughout the game. But he worked harder than more recent games and does find ways to score.

BTW, it’s fun to compare the two goalies. With nearly identical situations Neuer can’t keep out Theo but Ospina saved from LeadenDowSkis. Not that I’m saying one is better than the other. But whoever we had in goal today would not have helped us unless it were 10 rhinos stacked lengthwise and vertically on-top of each other. And let’s face it, that can’t happen as we know Rhinos don’t like football and don’t even have football agents. And more importantly, none of the shoes companies make boots big enough for their feet. So, clearly that’s an impractical suggestion.

In two games with Bayern, when Koz is on the pitch we outscored them 2-1; without Koz they outscored us 9-0. It would seem like Koz is an important cog in our defense. Who knew? The second half, up until then, had been enjoyable to watch. We started it quite well playing a high press game. We should have gone 2-0 up (thanks Giroud) but then Bayern started to ramp-up their pressure as well. And then the ref and linesman intervened. It’s a real shame because the team needed just the kind of performance they were in the midst of working hard to create. If only we could play Bayern for 55 minutes games we’d be world beaters. Maybe, next time, we can play four games each of 45 minutes.

Alexis was a little subdued. He would have been more effective in the central position. Again, thank Welbeck for that. Luckily, we had no Ob1 today. Alexis reverted more to creator-in-chief than outright goalscorer. It’s a shame he gave them one of their goals. Likewise, with Mustafi. But, again, it’s only pride that’s hurt. Though some will question the way to team folded (again). At least we’re consistent.

So, we need 11 men to play Bayern. Who knew. And we need Koz. Der. Funnily enough we kept on trying to play; kept on trying to move forward and therefore exposing our defense. Without leadership, it’s awful. Interestingly we did not bring on BigEars but moved Chaka back there. And he was responsible for one of their goals by another misplaced pass. The issue here is that we really don’t have a central midfield pairing that provides defensive cover. You could see it in the first half when all too often Chaka, Ox and AR8 were caught on the wrong side of their players. And this was true not just on fast breakaways but even through their gradual buildup. Until we have a true holding, defensive midfield player we’ll never have the conviction or backbone a team needs.

Now I know this is all a side issue. We collapsed. People will be demanding heads roll. The anti-AW momentum will swing into full(er) gear. After the 25 minute collapse I understand but that’s not the issue. Today, for me, it was about a stupid fucking linesman that changed the delicate balance of the game. Again, we had no illusions that we’d qualify but playing with 10 men when you have to chase the game does not teach you too much more about your team. Overall the ref was inconsistent – letting many fouls off and not using the yellow card on Bayern players. Again, I know. Who cares. I’m saying this as much for completeness. I know most Arsenal fans won’t care. They will be wallowing in the result. For me, I’m looking for reasons to be cheerful. I’ve not found any but I’ll continue trying. It’s not like anything dramatic is going to happen between now and the end of the season. And nor should it.

Maybe it’s because I have such low expectations. Maybe I’ve been beaten down so much. I hate the fact the headlines will trash us. But then I try to ignore headlines. This match was never going to determine our season. It was the first game in Munich that might have done that.

But you have to believe the pressure is mounting. Of course, it’s self for-filling. People want change. Of course they’ll be unhappy with what they get. Cough Cough – take a peek at the USA. But when there’s no value on consistency and no appreciation of even our recent achievements then you’re fucked. Tell me that AW has lost the team. Tell me AW can’t get anything more out of this team. Tell me AW can’t take them to the next level. But don’t tell me we’ve underachieved. You can tell that to Man U and Liverpool. They would have died to have been knocked out of the final 16 in the European Champions League.   As would 16 other teams in the Premier League. It’s not about not being able to challenge for the title. It’s about whether the future can be improved over the past. And the nice thing is we don’t have to decide that. Not now anyway. Come the summer, then is the time.

Timing though is important. I trust AW. If he’s going to leave he will announce it before the close of the season. Then we will have a small window to find a manager and then start signing players (including our own). There is no way AW will dither. If he’s going to leave he won’t let it drift into the summer; he won’t want to hurt the club or his legacy. My guess though is that he will re-sign and stay with us. And I’m OK with that. But then I am, as anyone that knows me will tell you, a stupid wanker.

I am brave enough though to predict one thing. We will bounce back from this defeat with a win in our next tough assignment. Bring on Lincoln I say!

-LB7

March 4th – Liverpool 3 Arsenal 1

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So forget the score and forget any humour. This game was all about team selection. And AW got this one wrong. I liked the idea that he changed up the team just not the actual changes he made. So often people complain that we’re too predictable. Well, be careful what you wish for. Todays selection was anything but predictable.

There was reason at work here. We knew they would come charging out with their high press game and we’d have little chance to build up play. So we need our big guy up front to hold up the ball and give us time to come out from defense. Sound reasoning but poor execution.

As expected they had possession. And as expected we had no defense. You can’t keep hemorrhaging this number of goals and expect to pick up points or compete for the top 4. The first half felt similar to the Bayern game. They had the momentum and control. When we did have the ball we found new ways to give it back.

Let’s go back to the selection. Our best player. Our hardest working player. Our most passionate player. Our highest scoring player. And he’s not on the pitch. But, hiding just behind Giroud in the number 10 slot is our favourite 20 year-old – OB1. Only Arsenal could replace a £42,000,000 record-signing (who has the flu) with a £42 youth player. Funny how the contribution mirrors the acquisition cost. Look at who they had. I never liked LLalana. But I’d prefer him to what we had. Alexis would have been better there – even if that’s not his position. Against Liverpool, in a crunch game you start Ob1? And you can be sure he’ll be starting in the next game (albeit out on the wing). What does he have to do to lose his starting place? Maybe if he chopped off a leg? How about decapitating Mike Dean? Surely that would get him at least a 3 match ban. Not that I’m condoning violence. This is a violence free blog. We here at BBandB remain sensitive to the feelings of our readers and would hate to upset anyones sensitivities.

Again, this does not explain the result. Having Alexis on the bench does go a long way to, though. It does not help that someone has cut off our Coq. He’s now all flaccid. I swear someone Alien (or the Ghost of Denilson) has taken over his body. In the first half he gave the ball away 3 times with errant distribution. Alongside him Chaka was quiet and decidedly average. On numerous occasions both were out of position and not providing cover for the center of the defense. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I want my Coq back. The real one not this fake, cheap imitation. Or, just maybe, it’s poor old Coq reverting back to form after 18 months of a stellar period. That’s a scary thought. Because Chaka is not the replacement. And I hate to think this is as far that Coq can take us. But the evidence is starting to mount up against him. Even that stupid yellow card today. But he’s game was littered with too many mistakes.

As soon as I saw Welbeck on the team sheet I knew we’d be tested on the wings. He’s many things is our Danny (well, he’s not actually ours ….) but covering Monreal is not one of them. On a number of occasions he failed to track back. But that first goal was so simple. So easy. We hardly made them work for it. What an inane gift. Koz misses a header and then everyone proceeds to watch and therefore get caught out of position. Bellend gets caught inside and fails to clear the ball and they have a man over. You can see Chaka and Coq on the edge of our area slowly reacting to a simple headed flick on.

For the second goal, after they get a lucky deflection off Chamberlin, Ob1 fails to track his man and then DW23 can be seen out of frame as they have one man over on our left. Throughout the first half we were out matched and over manned.

Just to prove he’d got the team selection wrong Alexis comes on for the second half. How rare is it for AW to make a change for the start of the 2nd half. That’s how bad we were.

And it changed to dynamic of the game right away. Of course, by then Liverpool were 2-0 up and caught in that stick or twist mode. Do they go for the third or conserve what they had? Either way, our play improved. We had more possession and there was more movement up front. Giroud had a header he should have scored from but at least we put them under pressure.

Then Alexis and Danny combined for a fine goal. Actually, it was brilliantly taken goal. And then we finally had a game on. It was good to see Peres come on. And we also had Theo come on to look good combing his beard on the right wing. He’s one contribution looked to have been to send off Can but instead Chaka talked he’s way into the book. One of the few things he did all game. Removing our Coq did not expose us to their dangerous attack. As in past weeks, The Ox played pretty well in that slot. He was not the problem.

It’s not as though we were assured of winning if Alexis started. I get that we needed to make tactical changes – people always complain we’re too rigid. But we rarely played long balls up to Giroud in the first half and he could not win any of them. And even then what the fuck is Alexis doing on the bench. Of all the players to drop? No thought to dropping Ob1? Or DW23? I don’t get it. And I doubt Alexis does either. Without Ozil you then proceed to drop your only star player. Play him at full-back next time please.

As much as I detest Darth-Vader, do you think he’d ever consider not playing Ibra even if he wanted to make a tactical change. Would Pocohantis consider not playing bigNoseKane? I think not. AW was caught up being too cute on this one. And based on his post-match comments I think he knows it.

As has been said many times this year it’s a game of two halves but we only play one of them. Not that we were so great in the second half but compared to the first we did find some semblance of form. Ox slotted in well but Chaka still kept making sloppy passes. And he’s positional play is not that of a defensive midfielder. He’s a fine example that spending money does not assure you’ll get the player you needed. Spending money is the perquisite but identifying the necessary right qualities is something else all together. And Chaka is good, average, solid unspectacular – but not in a Gilberto sense. More, in an underwhelming sense.

So we start a game at Anfield. A pivotal game. These games – against the top 6 will determine our future and that of AW. And yet we have a midfield of Ob1, Coq-less and Chaka. Yikes. What has happened to us. Who would have predicted that at the start of the season. We had Santi, Jack, Ozil and Ramsey. Where would we fit them all? Well, one we fitted into the team on the south coast. How we could have done with him today. To be fair though that was his decision. Playing Ob1 was ours.

After our goal rather than continue to press we lost tour way. Maybe that coincided with Theo and Peres coming on. I would have preferred to have seen Peres come on for Danny and leave Giroud on the field.

It’s hard to get too upset. It’s all to predictable. And you can be sure as shit others will be fuming and burning down the house. Man for man this team is not good enough. It’s good enough to get a point out of Liverpool. If, that is, one of your men is Alexis. Liverpool deserved the points today but lets be clear, they weren’t that good. They did not pound us to death. We lazily game them the first goal. The last one was off-side – not that it mattered by then. Though it did come right after a good chance we’d had at their end. We have too many weaknesses in this team. And we have a confidence problem.

After the Bayern return game we have another useless game – this time against Lincoln. Then it’s another gap before we play WBA. Then onto Man City in April. By then we could we off the pace of the top 4. Other will drop points. But we need some performances. We’ve barely played a decent game since November. Of course that coincides with our loss of Santi. How we get back on track I don’t know. Maybe getting Ramsey in alongside Chaka. Getting Ob1 out of the starting 11. That might help. But pinning hopes on Ramsey is a truly sad state of affairs.

AW must be perplexed and worried. As this season looks to implode he will be denied the chance to make his own decision. If we can’t pick up points against the top 6 that will drive the momentum behind the cries for change. This is not like 3 years ago. Winning he F. A. Cup – which is by no means a sure thing – will not help this time. We’ve spent real money on Alexis, Ozil and Chaka. We can’t be fading away like this. Silent Stan will remain happy but AW is not stupid. He will not want to be in a situation where he does not have the support of the fans. Nor the support of Alexis or Ozil.

This is not the end of the beginning. It’s not even the beginning of the end.  It’s the end of the beginning of the beginning of the end. Or something. Either way, the fun has gone. I have no humour with left. I don’t enjoy watching this team play. I have not confidence or belief. Just like the players really. Except they get paid millions to play and I clearly can’t play. Just like some of the players really.

-LB7