Monthly Archives: December 2017

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.

-LB7

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

-LB7