Monthly Archives: November 2018

November 25th – Bournemouth 1 Arsenal 2

Published / by bradybergkampandbeyond / Leave a Comment

I’m in desperate need of therapy. And Lots of it. I can’t enjoy watching this team. It’s so painful. The enjoyment that had started to return against Fulham has disappeared. I can’t enjoy victories like today but prefer to suffer through the mistakes of the players and manager.

I need help. Or maybe, this team needs help. And this manager needs help as well. I’m still struggling with the idea that we came away from this game with three points. We started with our NoHopa team. Minus Cigarette and Ozil and with a back three. For long periods, in the first half, it looked like we’d implode in classic Arsenal style. Too often we could not control the passing and we had no fluency. But then, care of one of the best own-goals you’ll ever see, we went 1-0 up. This was a classic. Unstoppable. Potential goal of them month. A blockbuster. You had to feel a little sorry for Lerma as this was the best thing he did all game. Aside from his shot off the post in the second half. And it was the best thing we created as well. Though Kolinsac did end up with two assists.

Overall our play in the first continued in its predictable abject manner.  The use of a back three seemed to destabilize Holding who could not pass to any of his own players. And Sokratis, while it was good to see him back, was displaying his newly learned wrestling skills. But it was in front of these three that problems were occurring. Mikeytarrien has to be one of the worst players we’ve had for a long time. I can see why Darth Vader kicked him out of ManU. What a deal that was for both sides. Neither side would do this deal again; we both obtained players who flatter to deceive. Except the one we sent up north was, originally, a great goal-scorer. Mickeytarrien can’t even begin to understand what it is to track his man back. The number of times he left Bellerin exposed was depressing. He barely breaks into a sprint when considering whether to follow his man. How bad is MT? He’s so bad that he makes Ob1 look like a super-star. Which is slightly unfair to Ob1. He was the only one who possessed any energy and drive today. He was the only one trying to move us forward. It’s just a shame that he can’t shoot on target or score any goals. But, again, he’s shooting is not as poor as MT. Truly, today he was abject shit; flat out crap.

Today was worrying on many levels – our team selection, our lack of balance in the first half and the groundhog day defending at the end of the first half. How is it that we had Torreira stuck up in their penalty area and Bellerin jogging back on their breakaway. This was Swansea away all over again. Have we learned nothing? Are we destined to repeat all our mistakes throughout the season? How is it that our manager has not instilled in these players the discipline to stay in their positions? What was Torreira thinking? This was reminiscent of the many breakaway goals ManU have scored against us at home when our players seem to be treading water while there are running right past us? And by this stage of the game – post the cracker goal – we’d been starting to assert ourselves. And yet we managed to throw it all away right before half-time.

The second half – as ever – saw an improved performance. Though not from the camera director who managed to miss the entire build up to our second goal. A moment of inspiration from Ob1 to split their defense and then a classic finished from Aubameyang. He’s deadly in the 6 yard area, but as he demonstrated a little earlier not so sharp when he’s a little further out. He missed a sitter from a first half corner and then another one in the second half. But there he now sits atop to goal-scoring leader board. He’s really not as integrated into our play as Cigarette but, to his credit, he does find himself in the right place often enough. By this stage it seemed we were in full control. But them, in order to even things up, Emery decided to remove our defensive genius and replace him with Guendouza. How does someone make that move when Miekeytarrein is still on the pitch? When you’ve seen him miss a clear breakaway care of Aubameyang? You leave him on the pitch? How is that possible? And then for the second change you take off Ob1? That seemed like a suicide move. In previous weeks I’ve marveled at the wise substitutions and timely changes. Today it seemed to revert back to the bad old days. Those changes indicated that Emery had no feel for the flow of the game. We somehow managed to survive – even to withstand the required Mustafa reckless challenge on the edge of our box. Mustafi should really consider copywriting that tackle. It identical to the one against Crystal Palace for their penalty. This time he managed to stay outside of the box. I’m beginning to think Mustafa is a German spy sent over to make sure we don’t qualify for the Champions League. Always destined to jump in wildly somewhere on the pitch. Today, previously, it had been inside their half. It was noticeable that once Torreria went off we were more exposed on their breaks; Guendoza does not have the same discipline. Xhaka, did try and provide cover, in fact, he was quite responsible during this game. And, like Ob1, he was one of our better players. But we need a viable defensive left-back. Kolinsac, despite his attacking skills, can’t defend for his life. I’m fearful of how exposed he will be next Sunday. As I am when Mustafa comes up against the Big Chin let alone Son.

I know I should have enjoyed this victory more. Three points at Bournemouth is a major improvement over previous years and performances. It’s just so hard to enjoy with the second rate players we insist on picking and with the first half performances. We need to donate Mickeytarrien to some third world country. And, now he’s back fit, we need to start with Sokratis and Holding as the central defenders. The back three worked quite well today – so the manager got that right. But I’d still like to know what happened to my Cigarette and Ozil. We need them back. And we’ll need them on Sunday. But more than that I want my enjoyment and enthusiasm back. And that will only come with progress. It could be argued that three points today speak to progress but not based on what I saw in the first half. We make too many mistakes and lack leadership on the field. Aside from the Liverpool match I can’t think of ma match where we played for the full 90 minutes. And that should be fixable. Just like making the right substitutions.

The transfer window is only 5 weeks away. We need to acquire a center-half and a right/left midfield player. And we need a back-up for Torreira. Today was one of his least dominant performances but there is no-one else who can play that position. And without him we truly would be back to last years vulnerabilities. But I suspect we’ll be lucky to find even another attacker to replace Welbeck in January. At least though they can find someone at the start of the window. That would also indicate all the management changes are bearing fruit. Dithering around till the last days of January would be a bad sign.

In the meantime, I’m going to find a way to rediscover my excitement and enthusiasm. I know I used to support this team because I enjoyed it; I looked forward to watching them play. I’m sick of having to watch through clenched teeth and riddled with frustration. We need to progress and move forward. It’s hard without reinforcements; we know the team is lacking in quality. I just don’t get why we continue to play the same wankers and expect to observe a different outcome. I have to hope their was a coherent reason for not playing my two favourites. But there can be no coherent reason for playing Mickeytarrien.

Beyond Ukraine, this week is just about next Sunday’s game. I know we won’t have Monreal back by then but we will need a team to turn up for the entire 90 minutes. Hopefully the homeless ones will invest too much effort in their CL match and we’ll send the young ones out to Great Russia. The next couple of games are vital to us retaining our sense of progress. Here’s their chance to separate themselves from last years team and last years weaknesses. One third of the way into the season it’s time for Arsenal to be tested. It’s a pass or fail. And I’m not convinced we’ll pass.

-LB7

 

November 11 – Arsenal 1 Wolves 1

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Remembrance Day. Numerologists Day. 1 – 1 on 11/11. Today was like remembering performances of years past – dour and turgid. This was game I’d been waiting for. Our homage to AW. Maybe in prior years (i.e. CP, Watford etc) we’d have lost the game. We did our best to lose today. They had their chances and we had none. I believe their GK had one save to make through the entire game whereas Leno was our best player (along with the post/bar).

This was painful. Unlike the last game we played before the international break against Fulham where we excelled, today essentially everything was wrong. There was no passion, drive or energy – and that was just Emery on the sideline. This performance was more in line with what I’d been expecting. This was Soulless Arsenal. This was Clueless Arsenal.  The only saving grace was that somehow we managed to gain a point.

Right from the start we lack ideas and pace. Our play was sideways and backwards. We had no creativity. I don’t expect us to maintain the levels we’d obtained in prior games but then I didn’t expect such a listless performance either. Some players were particularly poor but, in truth, none exactly covered themselves in glory. The best were average. And then there was Xhaka. Remembering days of years past. Just plain awful. He found a time machine and managed to generate a performance of prior years. His judgement was poor and energy levels dreadful. Kolisanc, following in the fine tradition of Santos, was awful all day. But he’s aimless infield sideways pass in the general direction of Xhaka did not help. But for Xhaka, in that position on the field to not take responsibility and then not to track back their soon to be goal scorer, was classic inept play. Both Kolinasac and Xhaka were pretty miserable all game long. Kolinsac can’t defend and is clearly thin on confidence. Hopefully we’ll get Monreal back after the break. But as good as Kolinsac can be going forward he’s clearly not a defender.

We were so poor today that Mustafa was not our worst player. He worked hard for that honour. He reverted back to his method of hoofing the ball upfield with overly optimist passes after the rest of the team has tried to retain the ball and build patiently. Holding was solid though obviously exposed by the pace of their players. Bellerin was ok but he had no support in front of him. Though Ob1 tried to generate activity in the first half his desire to drift across the pitch meant there was no presence on the right hand side. I was not surprised to see him come off nor Guendouzi come on. He injected some energy but continues to show he’s inexperience by running into dead ends and forcing the play. But today our more senior players were not involved. Ozil dropped too deep, Cigarette was not involved and Aubameyang was non existant. Except that is from a blinding miss in the second half when it was easier for him to score than it was for him to hit the post.

We were so lucky today. How we did not lose I’ll never know. Seconds before we scored I’d shouted out that we’d never score today. Then Mickytarriend swung in a cross that went directly in the back of the net. That was the only way we could score today. It was weird to see this team not apply pressure on Wolves in the first half. We retained possession but did nothing with it. The second half was barely much better. It’s hard to figure out. It was not impacted by injuries. The starting eleven was about right. Ob1 deserved to start. But there was no balance or rhythm to our team. It demonstrates how far we have yet to go and how many issues we have to solve. One game does not mean the end of the world. Whereas we had turned into a winning team we now seem to be the drawing team. There is some comfort to be had from not losing but we have much tougher games coming up that will surely expose us. Even little old Torreira had an average game – which was above standards compared to others. When Ramsey came on he added little and Mickeytarrien was his usual crap. But at least we had Leno. If I was Cech I’d be getting ready for a long time on the sidelines.

Back down to earth today with a large bump. All that optimism from the last game has now evaporated. We remembered and paid homage to awful performances of years past. It’s hard to see much positive from todays game. It was, as in previous years, very painful to watch. The lack of fluency and adventure was the most noticeable. And then the self destructive passing and ball lose from Xhaka and others were equally depressing. Today amplifies that the rebuilding process at Arsenal is a long and patient once. Today does not undo all the good work of the team so far this year. But it does level set the scope of changes that are needed in this team if we actually want to be challengers for any competitions. I know this was only one game. In most others this season we have over-performed this year so it was inevitable we’d have a game like this where we were just plain abject. We’ve seen most other teams have games like this. But what was noticeable was the lack of leadership on the field. I liked the way Ozil was removed as the second sub. That at least showed the manager would make changes and not protect anyone. But Ozil was by no means the worst today. Too many underperformed. There was no urgency in our play and that’s hard to understand.  Nor were we too smart in trying to breakdown their defensive lines. Too often we were too predictable. We take too long on the ball and then refused to make that penetrating forward pass. Cigarette barely received the ball and Aubamyeng was anonymous. But that was because there was no link up play in the final third. All our passing lack momentum and speed. It felt like we thought we could stroll through this game and we would be handed the three points. Whereas we were very lucky to even obtain one.

Now we go into yet another boring two week break for the irrelevant international football. That’s the third break so far this year. So we’re 12 games into the season and we’ve already had 6 stupid internationals matches. At some point, someone somewhere will break this monopoly of FIFA that insists on playing these irrelevant international matches. FIFA has and always will be out of control and utterly corrupt. As criminal as Blatter (and Platini) was (and is), Infantino shows that it’s inherent in the role. For the President of FIFA the main job requirement is to be corrupt. It’s not possible to forfill the requirements of the job otherwise. We do need to see the larger European teams come together to breakaway from FIFA. Short term that might be chaotic but for the longer term good that needs to happen. The money that threatens the balance of the EPL and other European Leagues – whether it be Oil money, Oligach or Chinese in origin – is still preferable to the uncontrolled corruption of FIFA. FIFA has no money of it’s own nor any assets. FIFA does not own any clubs or facilities. It just has the marketing rights to one competition every four years. It’s now trying to create other bogus competitions in order to fill up it’s coffers with more money. People believed that the departure of Blatter would solve FIFA issues. It’s made it worse because the removal of the all too incompetent, prehistoric Blatter lulled people into a false sense that FIFA might implode. Now we need to rely on the football money to have this happen. It will take a few years. We’ll still have to suffer a WC in Qatar. But this corruption in football has to be rooted out. For the good of the game. In the meantime, I think we can be thankful for a two week break that hopeful allows Emery and Arsenal to rediscover the path they had been progressing along. Here’s to hoping that today was an aberration. A day of remembering more painful days from pervious years. Our homage to AW.

-LB7

November 3 – Arsenal 1 Liverpool 1

Published / by BBandbeyond BBandbeyond / Leave a Comment

A point gained. An exam passed. This is a new Arsenal. No way would we have gained a point last year. This team is developing. And next year we’ll beat Liverpool after a few surgical additions. This team showed today is can compete. Finally we came up against a real team – a team with talent and ability – and we stood toe-to-toe with them.

Unlike previous weeks, right from the start, we competed and played our game. The intensity level and the inter-play was there from the beginning. We dominated large parts of this game. Of course they had many chances to score including one legitimate goal disallowed. We also rode our luck when Leno came out to intercept a ball and entirely missed the ball and they hit the post. And who picked up the ball from the rebound off the post? None but the best player on our team. The little man that worked like a terrier. The player who, in a sequence in the first half won two tackles back-to-back that he had not right to win. Our little Uruguayan energize bunny. Today Torriera was immense. His presence utterly changes our team. You could replace every other player in our team and though we’d be impacted (possibly) we’d survive. But there is no-one who could replace this mighty midget. He is the glue that holds this team together. One measure of a player is how they improve those around them. Torreira make Xhaka look like a composed, elegant and controlled midfield player. Carefully re-read that sentence. Unbelievable but true. That’s how good he is. And he’s enjoyable to watch – he keeps the play simple and clean. Nothing too complicated. And forward moving; no sideways passes from him. 13 years after the departure of Viera to Juventus we finally have a replacement. If we learned nothing else form today that would have been sufficient.

We also saw a masterful, controlled performance from our center half today. No not that moron Mustafa. But Holding. With each game he is maturing and growing in confidence. On many occasions he acted as the last line of defense to their dangerous attack.  His distribution was first class and he’s reading of the game excellent. Now we just have to find him a viable partner (on the pitch….).

Even if we had lost today – which is looked like for a while – there was enough on display today to raise our spirits. We are seeing the evolution of the team that we hoped for. Of course, there are still a handful of weak links that undermine the team. But over the course of the next transfer window or two we can correct for that.

Mikeytarrien, today, was hands down, the worst player on the pitch. I can’t thing of a single thing he executed properly. In the first half he either lost the ball in dangerous positions or misplaced passes. He added little to this team. He was so poor that I was crying out for the introduction of Ob1. There is no place in our future for Mikeytarrien; he’s luxury we can’t afford. We will stumble through this year with him but he must be the first player replaced. He exposed Bellerin numerous times; he can’t defend. And, on a couple of occasions he showed he can’t score either. I’m sure that in the NoHopaCup he’ll play and score but we can’t afford to have him in the starting eleven. Within a year he’ll be gone.

I felt sorry for Aubameyang today. He made good runs and worked hard. I was surprised he was taken off while we still needed a goal. But fortunately, we still had the most wonderful Cigarette to rescue a point. What a brilliant goal. He’d worked hard the entire game but seemed to be missing that final touch and never quite got into the right position. But he more than made up for it when he received a perfect pass from Ob1 and then spanked their goalie before unleashing a perfect shot without once looking up for the goal – a natural strikers instinct.

Even though Liverpool looked like they’d catch us on the break again and win by 2 goals, the equalizer was deserved. Liverpool of last year would have played their heavy metal football and possibly overrun us. But this year we have the more conservative, the more Mourinho version of Liverpool. They only had small periods of domination and could not generate that many threats through Salah. Mane exposed us a few times but they lacked that creative spark in midfield. And this was largely because of the dominating performance of Torreira.

Neither goalkeepers were that impressive today; both goals could be attributed to them. I’ve yet to figure out Alisson. Maybe following in the footsteps of Mignolet and Karius has lowered the bar so far that he seems like an upgrade. But for us, Leno is on the cusp of begging the question of whether Cech should start. The irony is that the deciding factor is not their actuall native goalkeeping ability but their link-up play with the ball at their feet. Leno is clearly more comfortable and at peace with the ball rather than poor old Cech who seems to want to pick the ball up. But today Leno gave up a goal and made a couple of poor judgment calls on when to come out for crosses. He looks a little lost and it feels like his confidence could wane.

For the first time in a number of years I felt like we were watching a genuinely competitive game in which we were able to stand up to a top 5 team. Even if we had lost I would have felt the same. Today we turned up. We executed a well orchestrated game-plan. Our tactics (though not some of the players) were good and adaptive. I like that we were brave enough to take off Kolasinac and put Ob1 back there. That move was sufficient for us to generate our goal. A word on Kolasinac – I was expecting him to be torn apart by Salah. He’s not blessed with speed but, in the first half when Salah played right wing, he managed to nullify him for the most part. Going forward he was strong and linked well with others. It was better performance than we had the right to expect. I had assumed we’d lose both full-backs to injuries. Thankfully Bellerin, though he was caught out of position on a couple of occasions, managed to stay on the pitch.

It’s a shame that there’s no role for Ramsey in this team. When he came on he barely impacted the game. He’s wasted on this team. We don’t quite need him. It’s just criminal that we can’t sell him for a hefty transfer fee. That’s inept on the part of Arsenal FC,. Thankfully Gazidis is finally gone to wallow in the filthy luca of Milan. This is definitely addition by subtraction. We would never have fired him. But to let this Ramsey situation to develop is a fireable offense.

A word or two on Ozil. While not his season best performance he still managed to help create a number of openings and chances. Our focus should be in getting the ball to his feet more often. Some of his flicks and one touch passing remain unparalleled in the EPL. Unfortunately he and Cigarette did not link up well today. We had to wait for Ob1 to find him.

So, this far into the season, I think we can finally make some observations based on enough data. The obvious conclusion is that we are moving, finally, in the right direction. There is still a long way to go. We’re not at the level of Man City (not that many are) but we’re also behind Chelksi and Liverpool. But, after at least two years of stagnation, we are evolving and improving. We still play entertaining football. We remain committed to beautiful football. But now we have some notion of organization, control and tactics. I will defend Wenger to my final breath (…aarrhhhh…..) but his time was over; he’d run out of ideas. Emery, full of energy and enthusiasm, a nice full head of blacked up greasy hair, is a younger model. An upgrade. And that is all that counts. Sure, I’d like to qualify for the Champions League. I don’t think we’re good enough for that. Unless we can bring in, during the January window, another center half and a right midfield player to replace Mustafa and Mickeytarrien. But we can be confident that we have gone through a state change. The club feels energized and the fans are behind the team and excited for the future. We know there will be some games when we just rip apart the opposition and other games when we flail miserably. But, as long as Emery improves the individual performances of the players (aka Ob1 and Xhaka) and continues to shuffle the team for each opponent then we can be confident in our club again. No more of this expecting the worse outcome. Waiting for the inevitable mistake form Mustafa (though this will continue to happen). Waiting for us to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. And today was that turning point for that. Watching the team bounce back and dominate started to remind me of what it was like to watch our team when it had a backbone. Its been a long time since we had belief in our team. But, inch by inch it’s starting to return. Today was the first real test. And we passed. A point gained that in previous years we would have lost. And that is uplifting and exciting. Is that optimism I detect invading this blog?

-LB7