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.