Monthly Archives: February 2018

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.

-LB7

 

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.

-LB7