October 27th – Arsenal 2 Crystal Palace 2

VAR is killing football. Emery is Killing Arsenal. And Xhaka is mortally wounded.

We should have had three points today. Undeserved but still three points. Somehow, some unaccountable overlord determines that our third goal should not count. The referee – who refused to award us any free kicks throughout the game, consider it a legitimate goal. Not a single Crystal Palace player remonstrated with the referee; they all accepted it. But then under microscopic examination it was determine that Chambers (I assume) fouled someone. It was an entanglement of legs. Yet somehow this warranted overruling the referee. Where is the standard of “clear and obvious error”. It took many minutes and was by any objective measure not clear and not obvious. This will kill the game. Hands down we’ve taken technology that could be beneficial and chosen to deploy it in the worst possible way. Sure, in a year of two they might get it right. In the interim it’s sucking the life out of a game. How do you know when to cheer and rejoice when everything is subject to a 3 minute review. This is worse than the NFL. Surely this was not what was intended. Why does every goal need to be reviewed and thereby hold up the game. This really is a disaster.

As were Arsenal. You can’t give up a two goal lead to CP at home. Though evidentially you can. But like that? We seem to have become dead-ball specialists. Of our last three goals (in the league) all have come from a dead-ball. That tells you something about our lack of creativity. For most of the game the build up play was ponderous and slow. There was little urgency and drive. Only when Xhaka was removed did the pace pick up. Of course, by then he’d helped to gift them their second goal. Chambers, who again played well, was at fault for the first. Here, unfortunately, VAR generated the right (but wrong) outcome. It was obviously a penalty and did not take long to overturn Atkinsons decision. It was fun to see him give a yellow card though when it was abundantly obvious that Chambers left a leg out. What this (and the other missed) decision says about the quality of the referring is quite clear. Atkinson was as shit as Xhaka. Today he barely gave us a single call. But each time a CP fell over he rewarded them. He’s not biased. He’s just crap. He’s even handedly inept. And equal opportunity fucked-up referee. Yet he’s one of the more senior referees. In a face-off between Mike Dean and Atkinson there can be no winners – the only loser would be football itself.

Back to our suffering. Of the many things that make no sense. For example, why are there still penny coins? How did we end up with an orangutan in the White House? How did old-boys from Eton take over the county (again)? I’m also left with the dilemma of why would you chose Xhaka as your captain and then needlessly embarrass him through painful substitutions. I would not pick him for this team – ever. But then I did not make him the team captain. And everyone knows he’s liable to attract negative crowd reactions. So why set Xhaka up for failure. Of course he acted like a juvenile when substituted but Emery did him no favours. And now Xhaka has to come out and apologize otherwise he’s done as an Arsenal player. You can’t pull off your shirt and throw it away. You can’t cup your ears to bait the crowd. And nor can you let a donkey horse player like McArthur beat you to put in a cross for Ayew to equalize.

The last three results should have returned 9 points. Instead we get 4 from Bournemouth, Sheffield United and Crystal Palace. How’s that progress?

This feels like Arsenal have finally revert to last years end of season form. Drawing games we should win and dropping points against the average teams. You can be sure we’ll lose against Wolves. This team shows no sign of progress. Even when we have improved players. For example, on his full debut, Tierney looked excellent. A genuine addition that will help the team. In the first half the creativity came down that side of the pitch. But then there was little creativity from elsewhere. Ceballos was better when he came central after Xhaka departed. But why play him out on the left wing. What’s the point? Does Emery have any idea what his structure is? And why does he refuse to play Torreira? It’s so predictable now. A pattern has emerged of Arsenal underperforming and lacking fluency. Today we were fortunate to get two goals from corners. But, again, at home, to not be able to defend that lead is not the behavior of a top 4 team.

This year ManU and Sp*rs are failing miserably to claim the 3rd and 4th spot. With our squad of players we should be able to improve enough to claim 4th. But not the way we’re playing. This looks like being another year when we fail to exploit the opportunity. There is no way Cheklsi, ManU and Sp*rs can be this bad next year. Yet, we’re not making any progress. Even the addition of David Luis has not protected the defense. He also should have done better on that second goal.

Simple things confuse me. Why does FIFA exist? What is the point in a uni-cycle? And, why do our center-halfs spend the bulk of their possession passing sideways. In the first half our build up play was as glacial as our melting icebergs. Rarely did Xhaka or Guendouzi drop to receive the ball to build up play. The few times Ceballos receive the ball in the center of the pitch our game had pace and momentum. This is how it’s been for months now. Somehow we have substituted sideways possession for creativity. Somehow we think this makes us a better team. And of course this come back to Emery. What is his philosophy? Apart from being the blandest, dullest person to ever leave Spain we have yet to see any actual benefits of him being our manager. And the pressure on him will surely build. The honeymoon period is over now. And we’ve moved straight into therapy; to be soon followed by an amicable separation. Because he’s not taking us anywhere – well, not anywhere good.

Aside from Tierney, the other bright spot was Guendouzi. He was excellent again. Ending the game with a perfect rugby tackle on Zaha. Guendouzi was even more instrumental when Xhaka went off. I wonder what he’d be like it paired with, oh, I don’t know, Torreira.

Sokratis and David Luis scored our two goals? How many chances did Aubameyang and Cigarette have? And Pepe? How often were they feed the ball?  How do you bring on Saka when you have Ozil sitting in the stands? What is going on with this team.

Even with all this we should have had three points. It comes back to the soulless, unaccountable VAR. Why do we never see referees review the decisions themselves on a monitor? Because they don’t’ want to be accountable? Or they are being held to reviews and standards (post-game) that we’re not aware of? This system is killing the game. And killed todays game. I would hate to have been in the stadium not knowing what the hell is going on. But I hear no football wide reaction to this. But then we hear nothing about games being played on Friday nights or Mondays. Decisions that will destroy the game are being made by people who have no long term interests in the game. Only when money drips away from the game will people wake up. If only clubs had the balls to voice their resistance; it’s their game not the PFL or EPL; they can reclaim the game – but they have to unwrap themselves from the embrace of money.

Post Sheffield and even midweek, I’ve become progressively pessimistic on the short-term prospects for Arsenal. With Emery in place we’re destined to be boring, bland, dull – just like our manager. Nor am I convinced it’s wise to change manager mid-year. I don’t want us to morph into a ManU or Sp*rs where we can managers quicker than our underwear. Where we place the faith of our club in ex-player legends. Remember Tim Sherwood? Or the other raft of managers through the turnstiles at WHL? And Nice FC can’t win a game either.


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