Monthly Archives: May 2019

May 27th – Baku and Back

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This could well be my last post as I head off to Baku. Alongside DB10, we venture off into Asia for the NoHopaCup in the forlon hope that Mustafa will be nabbed by the Armenians. Why, oh why, could they not have swapped MickeyTarrien and Mustafa’s nationality.

There remains a small chance I’ll have returned prior to the CL final (assuming that is i ever return). Let us acknowledge that for any true Arsenal fan all we wish is that Liverpool win the CL final under any possible scenarios. There is no possibility of any other outcome that can be considered. If the choice is to sacrifice the NoHopCup on the alta of the CL gods then so be it. Losing to Chelski to ensure that Liverpool win is more than rationale. And if Liverpool do find a way to lose the CL final then us winning the NoHopaCup is no consolation whatsoever.

So I head off to the great NoHopaCup I do so in the knowledge that I’ve already traded our victory for that of Liverpools. If only now we could trade Mustafa. Maybe we can leave him behind. Maybe we can get the UK – as part of an early Brexit vote – to refuse to re-admit Mustafa back into the country. If that fails maybe we can have Mustafa stand for leadership of the Conservative Party. That would surely have him hung, drawn and quartered as they continue to eviscerate everything that is English in England.

If we do want to win this competition though it would seem we have to retire the old Wenger routine of pretending that football is a sentimental game. The approach that leads to us playing the second best goalkeeper because that keeper is leaving. Of course, the reason they are leaving is because they are not good enough to play in the EPL games. Consequently the #2 goalie plays in the cup games. So this year we have the wonderful Cech leaving. And somehow, in the most important game of the season (now) we are not going to play Leno. This is insane. Cech is about to join Chelski once he retires. We need to win this match. Of course, if we had not have bottled it against (you name the list) Crystal Palace or Brighton (to name a few) this would be a mute point. But here we are. Why are we going to play our second best goalkeeper? Hey, i know, why not play Jenkinson at right back because he’s likely to leave as well. In fact, using the same logic, we should play Mustafa as well in the hope that this ensures he finally leaves.

If we want to truly qualify for the CL then we have to play Leno. Anything else defies the nature of this game. It’s win at all costs so lets select our best team (minus MickeyTarrien of course).

Naturally I fear we’ll find a way to lose this game. Traveling all this way is nerve wracking for all to obvious reasons. But to then sit through such a tortuous game against Chelski – for whom this is essentially a home fixture – will be painful. This is no different I suppose from how Aston Villa and Derby supporters feel. Both sets are looking at the opportunity to get “promoted” to a higher league and it all rests on a single game. The outcome of which will generate tens of millions in additional revenue. All we can hope is that Kante is not fit and/or can’t play. Or that maybe real Madrid will swoop in with an early announcement of their signing of Hazard.

Like us they are a one-man team. One man on their team will determine the outcome for them and that man is Hazard. He is pivotal to everything they do and the one player capable of turning a game on it’s head with moments of inspiration and creativity. Likewise, we have one man who can turn a game on it’s head. As he most recently demonstrated against Crystal Palace.

So let’s pray that Mustafa remains on the bench (if not the airplane). And let’s pray for a glorious victory on Wednesday care of Cigarette and Aubameyang. And, most importantly, come Saturday, regardless of the outcome of our game, we will all be Liverpool supporters for a day.


May 12th – Burnley 1 Arsenal 3

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Deserved win against the brutes of Burnley. I confess I was not always convinced by Aubameyang. In the last month he has been as Henry-esque as you could ask. He, along with Cigarette, has carried us to the NoHopeCup Final. Sure, he fluffs a few chances but he’s always been in the right spot and has amassed sufficient goals to share the Golden Boot. I’d guess the last time we had a player that did this was Henry.

It’s a pleasure to finally win a league game – and away as well. Of course, it just goes to highlight the waste that this season has been. One win from that dreadful string of performances against Everton, Palace, Wolves and Brighton would easily have seen us automatically qualify. What a wasted opportunity.

Our first half performance was pretty dull. The only excitement was Aubameyang hitting the post and generally terrorizing their defense. Meantime, as ever, we looked the usual shambles at the back. Monreal still looks off his game. The other Greek looks a little unsteady and Mustafa is reliably and consistently a liability. Nothing new here. Insert here the usual comments on Ob1 and Mickeytarrien. There were no lessons that we’d learn today about our weak links.

It might seem the game turns on a Burnley mistake in the second half. It would be more accurate to say it turned on the introduction of Koscielny. He stabilized the team. Though at the time I was screaming at Emery. Why is he risking our premier center half in a no-name game in the cold north-west against a bunch of Burnely brutes?

The entire game Burnley were bullies. Over physical and nasty. They accumulated bookings like we accumulate away defeats. And yet, whenever one of their players is touched they complained and moaned endless. They seem quite capable of handing it out but, as evidenced by their no-talented forward Barnes, once they are touched, they all scream and argue. It started when Barnes tried to block Leno from running out with the ball post corner. Barnes was rightly booked. Though listening to the two retarded commentators, you would not think so. In fact, the entire game they seemed to worship at the feet of the down-trodden, hard-working Burnely. Almost willing them to beat Arsenal. Going to so far as to claim there was no Arsenal structure and that Burnely – at 0-0 – were overachieving. They ignored our chances and seemed to revel in the physicality and “Englishness” of the Burnley approach. This is classic of old-school commentators and ex-average pundit commentary. They seem to wallow in the football from 20 years ago – the route one football of hard knocks. Somehow, they don’t seem to grasp what era football is now operating in. It’s as though they actually believe football was better 20 years ago when players were getting kicked-off the park by thugs and other players like Barnes. Not once did they comment on the string of unnecessary and late tackles put in by Cork, Lawton, Barnes etc. Instead they lauded the efforts of their great manager Sam Dyke – surely the ugliest manager in the league.

Thankfully we were able to glow in the excellence of Guendouzi today. He was head and shoulders (appropriate for his hair) our best player. He was the one who drove the midfield forward. He was supported quite well by Elneny who played more like another center half. But Guendouzi was always available to receive the ball. His first instinct was to turn up field and build constructively. He surely benefitted from the absence of Xhaka – as did the entire team. Willock was not so great today. One or two flashes but not involved enough. And in the first half Ob1 – who the commentator kept referring to as e-Wobi – maybe he is something out of Star Wars. Or maybe he is the internet version of a wingback. Either way he was awful in the first half. Incapable of beating his man or making the right pass. As much as I’d like us to ditch him (or at least have him as one of our 3 usable substitutes) he was not as poor as MickeyTarrien. And, unlike the Armenian, Ob1 actually woke up in the second half. With Ob1 I think the solution is a first rate therapist. Someone who can instill some self-belief and confidence in him. He’s now, at the age of 23, notched up 100 games for Arsenal. Yet, he suffers from a lack of confidence and lack of willingness to take responsibility. Once or twice a season we’ll see him fire on all cylinders. When he actively runs at the defenders. But most of the time – like in the first half – he’ll opt to pass backwards, sideways or underhit his passes. However, he at least has age on his side. Whereas Mickeytarrien is being paid to close to £200k/week to be utterly peripheral. Today he was too slow to even track back and help old man Lichtenstienbergstein. Let’s hope we can take and leave him in Baku.

I was disappointed not to see Eddie start today. When he swapped with Willock the pace of our team picked up. It was great to see him get his first goal. He needs more game time. With InjuredBeck now leaving let’s hope Eddie gets his chance. He waited all year for his 30 minutes. He looked good when he came on. I doubt he can be our Rashford but he could certainly improve on what we have.  

I was also surprised that Emery started Aubameyang. I assume it was to allow him a chance of the golden boot. But how made would we be if he was injured? Luckily we had the pleasure of seeing him smile his way through the entire game. In that second half he received a supply line from Guendouzi, Ob1 and half the Burnley team. He’s not as accomplished as Cigarette with build up play. But, I’ve rarely seen someone hover on the last line of defense and time his runs so well. He is such a natural goalscorer. The first goal was calmness personified whereas the second one was stunning. This team is where it is because of our two forwards. Without them we’d be an average mid table team. Now we need to build around them.

OK, well that’s it for this season. Time to start thinking about next year. Oh, hold on. It turns out we have one more game. Next year will be dictated by whether we can beat Chelski in the middle of nowhere. Somewhere in the middle kingdom in the depths of the middle ages. Kudos to anyone who can (1) spell the name of the country of the final and (2) place the country on a map of the world. It’s beyond absurd that we have to travel there for this final. It’s insane that there are so few allocated tickets. But then corruption and football go hand in hand. It starts with FIFA and runs right though UEFA. Just listen to their self-serving plans to change the UCL format. It’s such an overreach that I hope there can be some grass roots reaction from fans. It’s out of the question to have UCL games at the weekends. The Premier League is paramount and must remain so. It’s the bedrock of the success of the EPL. The supporters of this plan are just those fucked up leagues that have no fans and just two teams. That’s you Spain, Italy, Germany and France. They need a European League because they don’t have the depth of competition locally to generate the attendance and revenues that the EPL yields.

And, this week, we have to listen to that most corrupt of people, Sept Blatter, complain that footballs is being corrupted by money. That’s like listening to Hitler talking about the evils of anti-Semitism. Surely, it’s senility on his part. As he sits there in his (still) FIFA paid accommodation looking for his £400K worth of watches that he left in his FIFA office when he was run out of town.

As we continue to watch the beautiful game and marvel at the chase for the title, admire the quality of football, and, even, gasp at the European mid-week score lines, we need to be aware that there are dark clouds on the horizon. Just as the USA is now run by a nihilistic, egomaniacal, buffoon who is intent on being the ultimate disruptor – at all costs to everyone else – without any guidance based on morals or ethics, so it proceeds with European football.

Three point gained today. A good result and one or two great individual performances. But, it just reinforces what an opportunity we blew last week again Brighton. It’s hard to get past that given the results of both Chelski and Sp*rs today. Sure, they might have played differently if we’d have won last week. But it can’t change the sense that we just capitulated just when he needed to demonstrate a backbone. Valencia was better than I feared. It’s an improvement over Marseille. And maybe we’ll find a backdoor way into the UCL.

So all eyes now turn to Baku. Fucked up Baku. Fucked up EUFA. And fucked up ticket allocation. EUFA have intentionally selected a venue where they actively acknowledge that the only airport in town can’t service more than 15,000 fans per day.  And that’s their official justification for the lack of tickets for both teams. If it were not the case that both our teams are run by remote, uberwealthy, corrupt owners, the two teams should have joined together to refuse to play in such a remote venue. It is a complete disgrace to the fans of both teams.


May 5th – Arsenal 1 Brighton 1

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This used to be a labour of love. Now it’s just a labour. What a waste today. In fact, the last month in the league has been such a waste. We’ve had so many chances to wrap up a place in the top 4 but have chosen to waste every opportunity. Of course, we know this team is not good enough. But when the chance is there you have to take it. In the exact same way Liverpool found a way to win against Newcastle by getting goals from someone we found the way to do the exact opposite. We managed not to score when we should and then gift them a goal when we shouldn’t. That’s gulf in class we have to bridge. We don’t have a winning mentality. It’s not clear we even have a mentality.

How else can you explain losing to Crystal Palace, Everton, Wolves and Leicester? Yet we can win away at Naples? We’ll surely look back on this period, as we did after Leicester won the EPL, and wonder how did we not managed to automatically qualify when the teams around us were so weak? This was our chance to really damage Sp*rs; to deny them CL qualification and cause them financial trauma. Chelski are different, because they’ll always have a bankrolled team. They will come back stronger. As will Manure. They can’t be this poor next year.

How do you give up a goal to BHA like that? First off you need to have Xhaka be as moronic as Mustafa usually is. Classic Arsenal. Get beaten on the counter-attack. Just like the days of AW. Shows how little we’ve learned over the years. Today we can’t blame Mustafa. He was not so bad today. But others were. Monreal has lost the plot. Ozil was unnervingly quiet. Mikeytarrien remains a light weight player. Even Cigarette, as impressive as he was today, made too many mistakes. Our best palyer across the 90 minutes was Aubameyang. Yet he wasted too many clear cut chances. As we will in for the rest of our lives, we missed Ramsey today. He might have found a way to score. Once they equalized we stepped up the pressure. But then, with the 3 substitutions, we lost our impetus. Just as we were creating chances we reorganized and starting playing through Ob1. It took another 10 minutes before we mustered a clear chance. In this entire time there was so much languid passing and lack of responsibility. It was not clear who was responsible for driving the team forward.  But let’s circle back to Xhaka. His first pass today went to BHA and his second went right out of play. He’s too casual and too slow. Today just proved again that he’s a liability. Not at the level of Mustafa but pretty close. And you can be sure he’ll be in the team next year.

As they say, the position in the league does not lie. We are just not good enough. We’ve seen that too often this year. Aside from Cigarette and Aubameyang we are bereft of world class players. I’ve finally excluded Ozil from this list because his contributions can be world class but the frequency of them is too inconsistent. Today was another chance for him to stamp his authority on the game.

Our defense has been crap nearly the entire year. There were periods today in the second half when it was shambles. From Monreal panicing in the box to Leno passing to their players. BHA could have easily scored a second. We were a shambles. One commentator observed that the starting 3 today would not be part of our future. It goes beyond that though. As Xhaka demonstrated, he’s too slow to defend and too casual. That penalty was just careless. The odds were that BHA would have missed any shot anyway. Immediately after conceding their penalty, BHA could have grabbed a second. The entire defense was in disarray. It was both scary, embarrassing and yet wonderfully symptomatic of our entire year. We have this innate ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. This is not a team ready to be in the CL.

It’s been unappealing to review the previous Arsenal games. Not that the reviews could be any more painful than suffering through watching those games. The last run of games have been such a groundhog day experience.

The irony is that in previous years we would not even be involved at this stage in the season. By now we should be far off the pace. Unfortunately, though we have replaced Wenger with a manager who is destined to tease us with the promise of a better future. We should have read the footnotes. Better yes, but just by an inch or two. Not sufficient to actually make a fundamental shift in the club. We also have to recognize that one manager can’t change the club for the better. For the worse, for sure. We also need a management team that finds a Technical Director in a timely manner so that we can set up our summer targets. And yet, many months after our shaggy haired German has departed we’re still no further along in replacing him.

Before the season started it was clear we were not ready to compete for the league nor the top 4. As the season developed and we recovered form the first two losses, this team showed signs of development and accumulated points. But for the most part we languished in 5th or 6th. But then at the start of the year the teams around us decided to emulate Arsenal and throw away managers and or points. Now are expectations were raised. We even managed to beat a few of these teams and touch 3rd place. Now we started to expect. Now we believed we were worthy of Champions League football. And this from a team that regularly included Mustafa, Mickeytarrien, Ob1 and, latterly, Elneny. By the time Emery figured out his preferred eleven we’d started to pick up the predictable injuries. The loss of Ramsey for even a few games – let alone the rest of his career, destabilized our delicate midfield balance. So after touching the un lofty heights of 3rd place and after the dusting off from the storage area conversations regarding St. Totteringham day, this team completely reverted to type. It managed to rediscover it’s complete lack of belief and backbone. Along with Chelski and ManManure. Even Sp*rs are jealous of our ineptness. The top two can’t stop winning and the rest of us are playing like we are all teams destined for relegation – though they might be better than any of us.

How does this happen? How do Manure implode like this? How do we perform so ably against Napoli and implode against Crystal Palace? Some part of our troubles do lay at the feet of Emery. He selected Mustafa. And also Elneny. But the club bought these players. You can be sure none of these would have gotten into the teams of the top 6. Look at Theo. He barely plays for Everton. Every team has their weaknesses but ours just seem more egregious. But it’s not just these two or three players. It does not explain our last 4 league performances. That lies at the feet of the players. We fielded strong teams. But decided to put up a weak performance. Minus Ramsey there is little driving force in this team. There is no leadership. We’ve seen this for many years now. Some (cough cough) will go back 15 years to Viera. Or even to Gilberto. Torreira might grow into that. But Xhaka never will. And Kosclieny is not like that. But we need someone to take charge on the pitch and wake up players. All season long we’ve seen change at half-time that have lived up our performance. How can that be? When and why can’t we play the full 90 minutes? This all leads back to mentality. And that lay at the footsteps of all the players. It’s a cultural issue. These players require on-field leadership.. And until then we’re like some emotionally delicate species that, depending on the perfect alignment of the sun, temperature and wind conditions might deem to apply themselves. At this level of the game nearly all the players have the talent required but it’s those that apply themselves and use that talent that succeed. Likewise, the margins between teams are so fine that the collective will of a team; the mentality of the team can be that 0.05% that makes all the difference. And the lack of it will consign us to being the bridesmaid not the bride.

Today was the culmination of the entire season. Wasted chances, poor application and desperately weak defending. Maybe we should take comfort from watching Liverpool. They acquired one defender, Van Dyke, and their entire team solidified. I fear though that there is not the management acumen at Arsenal to be smart enough to go out and identify and acquire that person. Instead we’ll have many B+ players (Xhaka, Mkeytarrien, Ob1) that will never elevate the team but will always have us close by.

Of course we still have Valencia to by-pass and then, hopefully the final in some country none of us could find on a map. Maybe we’ll get lucky but I would not hold your breath. We have three remaining away games and we must won the right two. Beyond that though, we can take comfort from not being as fucked up as Manure but also be aware that we don’t have the money available to compete with them. They surely can’t be as bad next year. And Wolves and Everton will improve. And we will have an unproven manager, a weak squad and a lack of a winning mentality. Not exactly how you’d like to start off a new campaign.

I remain depressed and lacking in optimism for our future. Make some radical changes – dump Mustafa by the side of the road. Sell Mickeytarrien. Buy a world class center half and a holding mid-field player and grab Zaha from Crystal Palace. Then, maybe, would I start to believe. In the meantime, we’ll have to pray that we the restoration and rebuilt Koscielny available for Thursdays game. In the meantime, I’m left to brood over the wasted season we’ve just gone through. It’s just like that Leicester season, we’ll look back and wonder how we were incapable of directly qualifying for the CL with all the other teams fucking up.

– LB7