Monthly Archives: September 2017

Sept 25th – Arsenal 2 WBA 0

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I hate Monday games. Having to wait and (not) watch the other teams play mean that there’s nothing to focus on for the entire weekend. And then there’s always the dread that Monday will be utterly anti-climatic. Waiting all that time for a dull draw or another Watford-like performance does not bear thinking about.

Thankfully today we were spared that. But only just. In the end it was fairly easy. A comfortable 2-0. But in the first half they should have had a penalty. And if it was not for Cechs brilliant save onto the post we’d have been 1-0 down. And then he’s second save before half-time stopped them equalizing. And imbetween our best player – Monreal – cleared a certain goal of the line.

So going into half-time we could not have complained if we were drawing if not losing.

The second half was better (it helps to have the lead I’ve heard). And then we did control the game and should have added a third. But, to be fair, if their claim for a penalty was not given I would not have expected our appeal to be granted. I’m impressed that Madley gave us this one. I’d feel pretty hard don’t by if I was a WBA fan – but then why, for the love of god would I – or anyone – be a WBA fan.

What did we learn today then? Primarily that Monreal is god-like and he and Kolasanic have nailed down our left hand side.

That Mustafa is still a truly shit defender. What the fuck was he doing going to ground in the penalty area in the first half. Another referee would have awarded a penalty against us and changed the course of the entire game. In this instance the attacker was not even going to goal but was running out of space. This is exactly the time to shepherd the play out of bound and only a retard would go to ground. But then Mustafa is a retard. He is a liability. His distribution is shit and he’s judgement is reckless. There was a time in the second half when he went charging for the ball in their half, missed it and left the entire defense exposed. I just wish Holding or Chambers or the BFG could claim that spot.

In midfield Xhaka had one of his worst games. He was sloppy all over the pitch (a nasty image I know). He gave the ball away in his own half a couple of times and, more generally, was very slow on the ball. I’ll put this down to one bad game but it’s still a little worrying that he can be so casual on the ball.

Elneny was a little better but not great. He was also a little slow in distribution. The difference is that he works a lot harder and, by the second half, was linking up play much quicker.

But this combination will be ripped apart by better teams than WBA.

Ramsey was a fault for their two first half breakaways (as was Xhaka for one of the tem and Elneny the other). But his forward movement is excellent. He gave their defense problems the entire game. He’s clearly better suited to the Ozil position than the holding midfield one. I’m just not sure he’s as creative as Ozil – though he’ll score more goals than the German. The creativity though came from Alexis. He’s still a little off his best – he needs more game time – but he was the only true creative force out there. Roaming over the pitch and finding Ramsey arriving in the box late. After a few more games, those passes will come off.

And don’t you love Cigarette? A real goalscorer. A fox in the box. But he can play outside of it as well. He’s control and speed fit so neatly into our set up. I’m sure he will develop a strong relationship with both Alexis and Ozil. And this guy will hit 20 goals this year (assuming he stays injury free).

And finally, to go back to our defense. Cech and Monreal. Outstanding. Both kept us in this game. I don’t think Monreal lost a ball the entire game. Every challenge – every pass – every move – was perfect today. Gibbs, who played well, was right to move on. No-one can replace Monreal when he’s in this form.

OK, now it’s time to play switch as we get ready for a journey into the middle of nowhere for the NoHoppa Cup. Let’s rest most of todays players and send them Theo and Ospina. Let the others get ready for Sunday.

-LB7

Sept 17th – Chelski 0 Arsenal 0

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Oh, so we do know how to defend. Imagine that. What a novel concept. Who would have thought we could keep a clean sheet at the Politburo? Maybe we should play Bournemouth and Chelski each week. They obviously have reverse kryptonite. They manage to turn us into a functioning team.

When I saw Ob1 on the team sheet I feared the worst. I checked that we had Cigarette and the Tank. Fearing we’d have gone instead for Theo and The Ox – given that he’s not played at Anfield and that AW might have forgotten about the £35m burning a hole in his pocket. But thankfully they were both in the lineup. For the first 15 minutes the Russians played a high tempo, one touch and fast interplaying game that threatened to tear us apart. I figured the mad Italian must have read the riot act pre-game. Jumping up and down while simultaneously combing his hair in order to maintain that suave, debonair image.

But in time we worked our way into the game. A fine move down the right hand side set up Mr. Goalscoring machine DW23. But, rather than commeth the man cometh the goal instead we had the predictable. When we need that goal he is the right man to spurn the opportunity. Deciding to use his head not shoulders he still found a way to miss the target. Yet more memories of Anfield came flooding back. But rather than capitulate we started to dominate the game. Cigarette had a (tough) chance care of our Ob1 and Bellend interplay. And then Ramsey went on a mazyrun to only hit the post and see Cigarette stumble the ball over the bar. I still have a lot of time for our new Frenchmen. This was a hard chance that he should have taken but I’ll, at this point, be grateful, he was, at least, in the (nearly) right position.

The second half started like the first but this time we never really got back into the game. The Crimea team had more possession but hardly drew a save from Cech. There were periods where we had some nice possession but our right side dominance disappeared as they made adjustments. Daylight was created as David Louis tried to murder The Tank and rightfully got a straight red. But that left too little time for us to snatch a winner.

So we learned that Arsenal do actually know how to play the game, remain organized and take a disciplined approach to an away game. Which, of course, begs the question what the fuck happened at Anfield. The fear is that because of that spanking we adopted this more pragmatic approach. But, now we’ve had this display my money is on reverting back to type in the next big away game.

Today Monreal was immense. Rarely beaten down his side and dominant in the air. On the right Koz was solid and stabilizing. And in the middle we had our mad Kraut. Morata was pretty impressive today. A number of times he turned the Kraut and made some great runs. Most other teams won’t keep him from scoring. Someone needs to injure him quickly. Mustafa tried but was too slow. And again, some of his long fields distribution was awful.

Both AR8 and Xhaka dropped deeper to pick up the ball from the defense which removed some pressure from the backline. I suspect this was mainly due to our more conservative approach. That is, we were just sitting deeper more generally.  Xhaka was, as ever, a little careless with his passing but Ramsey was quite impressive today. Without the skillful German ahead of him we was able to break into the space ahead of him on a number of occasions. He’s passing was intelligent and his forward play propelled the team. And he should have scored. But he occupied Konti and put him under pressure quickly. The problem is that too often he and Xhaka play the same position. Literally. There was a time in the first half when they were stumbling into each other. Defensively they don’t exude confidence. But with Ob1 and DW23 working hard on defense we were more solid on the wings but just vulnerable through the middle. If only we had a Konti…..

With this new found stability we also sacrificed our creativity. I’m still not sure why we had Ob1 rather than Alexis in the starting 11. Sure Ob1 worked hard – a la DW23 – but you can’t rationally argue that there is anyone on planet earth you’d select Ob1 over Alexis. With DW23 incurring his usual injury it looks like he’ll be out for a while and therefore this “choice” won’t come up again for a while. Of course, it also means that it’s Ramseys turn next for his regular hamstring injury. The question becomes, would we have had this defensive work rate and cover if little Mesut had been able to play? We’d have been more threatening but at what cost? Without him we should have been 2-0 before half-time. But with him would we have kept a clean sheet?

Cech is the one player who has been consistently reliable this year. His save from Pedro was pivotal. If we had let one in then who knows how our mental psyche would have handled that.

It’s hard to enjoy watching this team as you think you’re one errant Xhaka pass away from implosion. But today we turned up. But to be a team challenging for the league (or even the top 4) the bar should not be so low that we are grateful that we come away from Red Square without being embarrassed. The Commies will have better days – you could see the impetus that Hazard provided. And today we had our chance to actually win there. But our collective confidence is so low we all end up being relieved to come away with a point. At some point we have to demonstrate the organization and discipline over a 10 match period to restore both our credibility and nerves. The agony of waiting for and then recovering from the next fiasco requires too much therapy. And it’s not even March yet.

So onto the tough encounter with Doncaster Rovers in the who-the-fuck-knows-what-cup-its-called. More opportunity for the BFG and Nelson to impress. And the onto the return of Gibbs. Then back to the NoHopa Cup. Many chances then for the other squad players to shine. And for us to relax and not worry so much about the outcome

-LB7

Sept 9th – Arsenal 3 Bournemouth 0

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Let’s play Bournemouth every week please. That was easy. So easy. I’m confident that if we played a 38 game season only playing them we’d win the league. On the basis they were all home games.

How poor were Bournemouth? So bad that WorseBeck looked like Nearly-a-PlayerBeck. For goodness sake, he scored two goals. The first one classic Wellbeck – in off his shoulder. The second one was more like that Cigarette. To be fair he worked hard and chased them down. Can’t fault the guy from being hard working; just for not being a football player. He’s an improved version of Theo. Though Theo is superior in the after match interview.

Ozil cruised through the game, control play and making a series of exquisite passes. One of these lead to the beautiful second goal form Cigarette. Very TH14 that one. Lady and Gentlemen, we have ourselves a real striker! This boy can play. It would be interesting to see him and Alexis on the pitch at the same time. The triangle with Cigarette, Alexis and Ozil could be a thing of beauty. Some of our one touch passing today was outstanding. As it would be in any training session when the opposition decides not to close you down. Nonetheless, it was pleasure to watch at times. We purred along quite nicely indeed.

Of course, there are still a number of issues we have to contend with. Namely, we’re not a team that can compete for the top 4 spots. On our day we can pull apart even the most dire team (thank you Bournemouth). But the balance still looks off. I’m not convinced that Xhaka and Ramsey can function as the backbone of this team. Both, individually, played pretty well. Ramseys’ late runs into the box will generate goals. But neither of them provide the defensive cover for our defense. The move to swap out Ramsey for our Coq was correct. But then our Coq blew out his hamstring. So that’s him gone for 6+ weeks. He’ll be joining Santi in the recovery room – our best midfield pairing from 2 seasons ago both sidelined. Today we saw both Xhaka and AR8 move upfield at the same time and often get caught the wrong side of the ball. We’ll miss Coq – and that’s before AR8 picks up his own obligatory yearly hamstring injury. I think we all knew we were short in this area of the team. It could have been a perfect time to play Ox there J

It was interesting to see how they tried to high press our back line. Neither of AR8 or Xhaka drop to receive the ball (well, sometimes Xhaka does – and that’s where he’s vulnerable to turnovers) and that makes playing out from the back much harder. Against Chelski it will be much more illuminating.

Kolasinac returned back to earth today. Still way better than either Gibbs or Ox. But his distribution was a little wayward. And like Bellend, he allows too many crosses into the box. But going forward he’s smart and make pretty good decisions – unlike Bellend. We got this guy for free and received £40+ for these other two. That’s a good trade. I’m sorry that Ox left to the degree it reinforces the messages that he’s moved off to a “winning” team. But there’s no way he’s worth that sum nor will he find a central midfield role there. But I liked the boy (no, not in that way kind sir).

We nearly lost Mustafi and I’d still prefer the £35m we could have received. He did not play too poorly today. But, yet again, he displayed his tendency to too aggressively jump in and also go to ground too quickly. That is a recipe for disaster and/or his next sending off. And, without a Santi-like midfielder to take the ball from him he’ll continue to launch his Kolo-eque aimless, long ball passes.

One game does not make a season – unless, of course, it’s a game an Anfield. It’s not clear whether we learned too much today. Maybe that Eddie Howe is not going to be our new manager. It took him 70+ minutes to change a clearly failing team formation. Of course, I’m sure we’ll make him look Guardiola-like when we play at their place.

OK, short and sweet today. I’ve enjoyed the two week break post-Anfield. To be away from the train wreck that is AW and AFC. Today extended that period by an extra few days. At least until we visit the Russians on Sunday. That will be our judgement day. Can we compete? I have my doubts. The same fears persist. We added two great players but failed to strengthen the backbone of our team. And Chelski will surely expose this. But it’s still a little too early to get suicidal about this team. There’s plenty of time for that. That’s what March is for.

-LB7

 

 

 

August 31st – End of the Transfer Window and the End of Arsene

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The title says it all really. The fiasco that we witnessed will just about seal the end of Arsene’s reign as King of Arsenal.

Though it might not rest entirely at his feet he will surely carry the burden of this complete fiasco; the worst possible outcome on some many dimensions. It will leave fans dispirited and vexious. Going forward, the first sign of difficulty (which will be within a game or two) and the entire fan base will turn on him. He’s position will be unsustainable.

How could this possible have come about?

By advertising the interest in Lamar so early on in the transfer window we clearly signaled our intent. To then be rebuffed because we were not in the CL is plain ridiculous. How could the club have not known about this issue? We have known for a while now – since the season ended I think – that we weren’t in the CL. So how, in our discussions over the last 3 months did we not know this. That’s incompetent. Also, it’s not entirely believable. Beneath this rejection lies another reason.

Unfortunately, when Man U were out of the CL they could still attack key players. That’s how they were able to rebuild. They bought Poga. They brought in Ibra. And others. It did not seem to impair their re-build. How can this be? This is not to same say we’re the same as Manu. The difference, I fear, is that those players knew there was a manager in place that was committed for many years to a rebuilding process. Whereas at Arsenal the one thing you know is that the manager won’t be there in a couple of years (if not sooner). This is the first time that lack of clarity on our manager has been a deterrent to signing players. Worse, this is from the French league – in fact, his old club. It would seem that AW has finally lost his allure to attract the players we need. How embarrassing is it when three of his French compatriots can’t convince Lamar to join us. What a disaster. This tells us where we stand in the pecking order of clubs more than anything. And, to be clear, let me restate the only viable conclusion. it can’t merely be CL related. It’s AW related.

And, to compound this issue we spent the entire summer stating in black and white, with 100% conviction that we would never sell Alexis. I understand that negotiations have to take place behind closed doors and that you can’t reveal your hand. But, in the last 12 hours to change position and then scramble and fail to bring in a replacement is pathetic. Now we are left with a deflated Alexis. Someone who fully expected to be able to get out of the hell that is AFC. So, rather than release him from his sentence he’ll sign a pre-nup with ManCIty and he’ll leave for nothing. Not £60m but zero. How is that possible? How is that “good” business? Where is the accountability for this? And what does it do to our credibility? When we say someone is not for sale who’s going to believer us? I know I won’t. And what a way to blow £60m.

So today was a shambles and embarrassment of historic proportions. We had three months to prepare for this and failed on so many levels. How did we let Ox leave for Liverpool for £35m and not bring in a replacement? What about Mahrez? I’m not too sad to see Ox leave. I respect that he wants to play in central midfield. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong but I would not want to see him in that position at Arsenal. I respect he did not take our money or the increase grubby money on offer at Chelski to be the backup to Moses. Now he’ll wander up north and wait for Henderson or Emre to get injured. Good luck to him. We got a tidy sum for him. But were was the replacement plan? How dispiriting is it for the rest of the squad.

Then we thought we’d got rid of Mustafi only for him to come right back home. Nor could we offload Dubuchy. And yet we sold BigEars. And we know we have one BFG who will retire in a year and one SFG who we don’t’ want but would have received £35 for him. Sure we finally sold Gibbs and Woz and we loaned out Perez along with Campbell.

What happened with Dick Van Dyck? Why could we not have acquired him with Theo as a (not)make  weight?

How can fans believe this squad is any better than the bunch of wankers that were shamed on Sunday? If anything, we’re worse off though the club have more money.

This, I fear, is the end for AW then. No-one has faith that this squad can get us back to the top 4. And he’s lost his magic in attracting the highest quality players. Remember, he was talking to Mbappe last year (when we were still in the CL) and AW could not sell him on AFC back then.

Where does this leave us? In the wilderness for, at least, a couple of years. And the changes don’t merely relate to AW. This happened on Gazidis’ watch. He’s the CEO. He is ultimately responsible. As is Silent Stan.

We not only wasted £60m by not selling Alexis, not invest the £35 from Ox but we officially became a joke in the eyes of all other clubs. We have no strategy and no plan. And we have a manager that can’t attract the worlds’ best players – he has lost his credibility. Ouch.

I desperately felt the need to post the thoughts because I just know every other websites will be saying the exact same thing. In this 3 month transfer window we have managed to squander all the good will created with our F A Cup win. Yet we’ve now suffered through the worst 5 days i can remember at Arsenal since the days when Stuart Robson graced our midfield at Highbury in the ’80s.

We have consigned all Arsenal fans to a long dark winter. And as GoT comes to it’s glorious end so does the reign of AW. And just as we don’t know who will gain control of the Iron Throne nor do we know who will inherit the poisoned chalice. The fear is that the White Walkers have already gained control at Arsenal.

– LB7