Monthly Archives: February 2020

February 23rd – Arsenal 3 Everton 2

Published / by BBandbeyond BBandbeyond / Leave a Comment

Goodbye relegation and hello optimism. Three points from a game we were destined to draw. Thank the best English striker, Calvert Lewin, for missing numerous chances. And our German goalkeeper. And, dare I say it, the best center-half at Arsenal – Mustafi. I always said this guy, with his poise, talent and reliability – if just given the chance – would be a superstar defender.

OK, maybe not. But at least his re-sale value went up.

After the last two games, this was a match I was looking forward to. That’s not an outlook I’ve had in the last two years. Finally, a team worth investing in. A team worthy of caring about. And a team that aren’t assured of disappointing you. However, this team selection continues to baffle me.

For the second week in a row the team selection was unexpected. Where was Torreira? Where was Cigarette? And Saka? On the bench! And Mustafi is still there with DL. And Eddie up top. Yikes. Another team I would not have thought of. Danni in midfield with Xhaka. Where will that defensive cover come from? This felt like last week. Against a much better team though. It must be MA sending messages to particular players. But I don’t think many saw this coming. MA is not afraid of taking risks and making changes.

This is why I would never be a successful manager.

All the action seemed condensed into the start and end of each half. How we could give up that first goal so easily would be inexplicable to anyone not watching this team all season. It seemed, at times, as if all the defensive improvement had been jettisoned today. It starts with Kolinsac entering into a wresting match for their free-kick and forgetting that he was keeping everyone one-side. Normally you’d back Kolinsac to win any tussle. But today he lost that – helped along by David Luiz – to give up a goal and then got the worse of another tussle and left to be replaced by Saka.

It seems that nearly any Arsenal formal left-back is destined to pick up a shoulder or thigh injury. Between Kolinsac and Tierney we could keep one doctor occupied all season. But thankfully we have a non-full back in Saka who is just masterful in creating goals. He has more assists than Ozil. Aside from his stray passing and loss of concentration in the second half, from the moment he came on the pitch we were an improved team.

I still can’t believe how many chances Everton missed. Of course it helped that they started with our £40mm man Ob1. And it’s good to see he still can’t figure out how to get a ball on target. That was money well received by us. Unfortunately, they had Richarlison who ripped apart Bellerin the entire game. Hector was well off the pace today and it feels like he’s regressed in how to actually defend – which, given how feeble he was, is hard to do. But he was lucky to have the Magnificent Mustafi behind him. Mustafi – making Arsenal great again.

David Luiz, who also managed to contribute defensively had a pretty wild game. From the first minute miss-header to – along with Hector – keeping everyone onside for their second goal to creating our second goal with a perfect Ozil-like pass for Aubameyang. He gave up two goals and created one.

Dani and Xhaka worked well in midfield. Dani was both the creator and the enforcer today, while Xhaka managed to avoid his default yellow-card. Some of his cross-field passes were perfect today. Overall, they somehow managed to protect the defense and control large parts of the game.

I was convinced that Everton would pull one back at the end. Once the thug Schneiderlin was pulled off Gomez and Bernbardo tested and prodded. It took some serious game management and an awful lot of luck to protect our lead. Kudos to Arteta and the Lord Almighty for this result.

Our first goal though was generated by players with a combined age less than Phil Jagielka. A delicate finish by Eddie – I fear Cigarette would have found a way to hit Pickford or the post. Overall Eddie worked hard, hit the cross-bar and scored his first EPL game.

Aubameyang is such a natural poacher. That first goal – care of David Luiz – was Henry-esque in it’s finish. I was worried he’d try and square it to Eddie but instead he perfectly placed it into the corner. Thierry would have been proud of him. And the second goal was another intelligent header – arguably even better than the one last week. This boy knows how to score. Again, I wondered whether we really need him on his original signing. Another reason why I’d be a poor manager.

Pepe was relatively quiet today but still set up that important winning goal. He’s working much harder defensively – which we need given the vulnerability of Hector. Pepe is established now in this team.

In the last 15 minutes we had both Torreira and Guendouzi on the pitch. Surprisingly it was Guendouzi that added more grit. Torreira while adding bite to our midfield suffered in his distribution. And with Saka being careless on the left and Bellerin being beaten all ends up on the right it felt like they were sure to score. Leno made a number of crucial saves. There was one from Calvert-Lewin that seemed to off-side – and, I suspect, caused him to hesitate – though Xhaka was keeping him on-side.

The team needed the three points even if they were somewhat fortunate. There are good things happening with this team. Signs of progress. I no longer worry about the threat of being pulled into the relegation zone. If the corrupt forces of EUFA can enforce financial fair play rules against the corrupt forces on ManCity then maybe we have a shot at Europe. But not if it frees up a spot for DarthVader. I’d prefer both of us to miss out on Europe rather than both is us get into Europe. Their need is more desperate than ours. They have the financial cloud of the onerous payments on their new white elephant of a stadium. If they miss out then the revenue dries up and that will accelerate their downward spiral. Best of all, with the injuries to both Kane and Son, DarthVader won’t even take the blame for failure and therefore he’ll be there one more year to inflict pain and depression on all those around him.

In the meantime, even without European football, with MA in place, we are destined now for better things. MA will make Arsenal Great again. He’s proven he can get more out of a collection of players than the accountant Emery ever could. This team is starting to show some backbone. It definitely has a better grasp of tactics and shape. Just look at how instrumental Xhaka is now. He is able to create and link up so much better. He looks like a different player. And, my favorite, Mustafi – though he will inevitably make bone head moves every game – has added physical strength to our defense. None of the rolling on the floor that we get from Sokratis. This is all the work of MA. Clearly AKB – Arteta knows best.

So, even with the surprise (again) of the team selection, Arteta has (again) proven he’s a better manager than I am. Who knew? The optimism I had going into this game was warranted – even if the last 15 minutes were too stressful. It feels like I’ve finally left an abusive relationship where I was destined to be beaten, disappointed and fearful of having hoping. Even though I know we’ll be dropping stupid points and making defensive howlers, for the first time in a couple of years, it feels that I should – at last – be optimistic and expect good things from this team. Sure I’ll be disappointed some times but it’s so much healthier to look forward to games expecting positive outcomes than inevitably knowing we were going to be a shambles without any identify and then find ways to lose. It was so tough for that Emery-lead period to be excited. But finally we have our Arsenal back. Not all the way back but at least pointed in the right direction. We know we are on the right path and, with time, we will be genuinely competitive. We don’t need European football for longer-term future and viability; that lot do.

So a good day today. Three points care of our German storm-troopers in defense. This is fun again.


February 16th – Arsenal 4 Newcastle 0

Published / by BBandbeyond BBandbeyond / Leave a Comment

Now that’s a scoreline we’ve not seen in a while. Ozil, Pepe, Aubameyang on the score line. But best of all Cigarette finally stumbled over and scored a goal. Not entirely deserved but what we needed. Who knew this team could gain 3 points in one match.

What a team selection. Two weeks in the sand and somehow we lost both Cigarette and Torreira. I could, unfortunately understand the former but not the latter. You’d have got long odds on this selection along with that of Dani. It’s so radical that you don’t even notice that Mustafa is now deemed the regular center-half. I’m sure this related to how MA believed NU would set up but this was a calculated risk; it was based on the expectation that they would not bother attacking.  Nonetheless, it’s a selection that not many managers would have taken.

I’ve never thought of playing both Dani and Ozil in the same team. And then to add in Pepe along with Eddie? No-way. Where is the balance? Because there is no defensive cover here. MA hoped NU would park the bus and then hope they can’t counter-attack. This was brave by MA. Someone who wants to win. Someone who needs three points. This is unquestionably more Pep than Unai.

But that first half was pretty turgid. In Dubai they obviously trained on sand because for the first 45 minutes it looked like we were in quicksand. Our play was slow and sideways. We were disjointed and hesitant. There was no direction and our best players weren’t involved enough. Pepe passed backwards, Ozil was barely on the ball and Aubameyang was lost on the left wing.

Fortunately, NU were dire. Aside from defending they offered nothing. They had a few chances in the first half down Hector’s side. The poor boy really has lost his mo-jo; with his hair goen so is his speed. On a number of occasions he was beaten for speed – which is worrying for a play who’s game is based on speed. His judgement is hesitant, he lets the ball bounce in front of him too often. He’s been out for a long time and it still shows. He needs another couple of months to regain his form. Today he looked like the weakest link.

In that first half Dani and Xhaka were passing the ball sideweays and backwards without purpose. Eddie was barely able to make runs. Overall, it looked like the gamble MA took with his selection was going to backfire. But, fortunately, the opposition – if that’s the right word – was Newcastle.

Then came the second half. Finally we found some pace and movement. Dani got on the ball and dominated; Pepe was more involved and Saka was a star. This boy is fearless. In the first half he was our best player. In the second, he demonstrated leadership. The youngest player on the team had the biggest impact. He drifted infield and then made his runs down the left. And before that Pepe set up a classic center-forward header from Aubameyang. That changed the game entirely. NU were incapable of adjusting to being behind. Sure, as in the first half, they had a chance or two – always by getting the better of Bellerin – but they deserved nothing. On the other hand, we had Saka nutmegging their defender and then picking out Pepe. Then we replaced the underwhelming Eddie with our real center-forward. It was brave to select Eddie today but it did not work. He was just a few steps off the entire game. Not quite able to retain possession when needed, taking too many touches when he should have shot, hitting the bar for an open goal and generally just not making the impact required. He’ll learn a lot form this first game. It should give him confidence that he started. There will be more opportunities for him. And he will improve. He will help us this season.

But seeing Cigarette on the field setting up Ozil and then scoring a jammy goal will have lifted everyones spirits. He needs something because we need him. He will feel a lot better after that. He just needs to score in away games now.

Arteta must have lite a fire in the dressing room because that second half performance was so much better. Ozil was more involved and Dani move the ball quicker. Xhaka took a back seat for Dani to dominate and string the passes together. But, in a non physical and yet meaningful way, I realized that I love Saka. He was so entertaining, so lacking in fear. It was a joy to watch. On the right Hector was passing backwards and sideways whereas Saka was creating and challenging NU. It’s amazing that at this age he’s able to handle the pressure and the opportunity. It’s not like he’s been introduced into a successful team that has a defined identify with experienced players at the top of their game. He’s had to handle a new position, new manager and an unstable team.

I was surprised at how inept NU were. How little fightback there was once they went down. How slow they were to change their tactics. Sure they had a chance when they hit the post – after Hector got beaten again. But we were never threatened. It was just a case of being able to crack their wall of 9 players. And then once we grab a 2 nill lead MA made the right changes. Bringing back on Torreira to harden our defense and protect the win.

How bad were Newcastle? So bad they made Mustafa look good. David Luiz barely broke into a sweat. Our two center-halfs just passed the ball sideways under little pressure. In that first half these two played too many speculative long diagonal balls but that was the fault of Dani and Xhaka who should have been dropping to receive the ball. That changed in the second half and thankfully NU were nice enough to give us time to figure this out.

So three very important points. Clearly this is a long journey that we’re on. But today felt like a start. You can only beat the team you’re facing. Clearly there will be tougher opponents. Both Everton and West Ham will be tougher challenges. But with Cigarette scoring, Martinelli to come back in, Torreira on the bench and Tierney getting fitter we’re going to have interesting selection decisions soon. We won’t be able to get away with both Dani and Ozil against Everton. But it’s not clear who make way after todays game. These are good problems though. And MA showed he was willing to take risks with his selection. And he was right.

With UEFA fining ManC it will be interesting to see what the EPL does in terms of taking away points. I don’t want Sp*rs to benefit by gaining a CL place. It’s imperative they suffer as much as possible. Having them fail to get into the CL would be a winning season for us and crushing financially for them. It’s what I pray for. Their imminent demise with maximum pain. So we need SU and Wolves to step up. We’re too far away. But Chelski have to nail down a spot and we have to hope one of these others come through. After today, we can begin to dream of capturing another tedious season in the NoHoppa cup. As good as the second half was there was also evidence of how far this team has to work. I can remember the Liverpool team in Klopps first season. This does not feel that different. And he needed 5 years. So we’re on a long journey. But that’s OK because at least it feels like we’re headed in the right direction with the right manager.

After two weeks in the desert (both the team and the fans), it’s a pleasure to enjoy this team again. We are seeing progress and development. We finally have an intelligent manager. Though we still have to hear from that last loser who can’t seem to get over his failures. At least when Bruce Rioch departed he had the decency to keep his mouth shut. Each time Emery opens his mouth he just reaffirms why it was right to let him go. He was not good enough for PSG or us.

So now back to the NoHoppaCup and then it’s Everton. Maybe this season is going to more interesting than we’d thought. We have plenty to play for; two cups, a league position, the hope that Liverpool can lose a game in the next five matches and the belief that Sp*rs will implode and finish no higher than 6th.


February 1st – Burnley 0 Arsenal 0

Published / by BBandbeyond BBandbeyond / Leave a Comment

I need a new Cigarette; someone extinguished the one we had. I love the man but today, in that first attack, he found a way to entirely miss the target. Someone has stolen his scoring boots and without them it’s painful to watch him suffer.

That first 25 minutes should have enabled us to put the game well out of reach. We started with possession, movement and chances to score. Burnley were nowhere. In fact, there are nowhere. Anyone know where this place is? I bet no-one could find it on a map.  They are the latter-day Bolton and Stoke City. Physical and bullying. With a crowd that wines whenever any of our players go down and with a manager who is a moaning old tosser. They are the anti-football of the EPL. And for the first half of the first half we run them in circles. We had our chances to grab the lead. Between Cigarette and Aubameyang, we could have been three nill up.

And then Burnley, with their free-kicks and corners, put of defense under strain. We looked like we’d concede as we got out muscled. As the second half of the first half developed we started to lose our way. All the movement and possession gave way to pressure from them. This was more like a game of one quarter for Arsenal. Thereafter it was a grind it out game. And the turning point was losing Saka. Our 18 year-old maestro; our new talisman. The majority of our attacks came down that left hand side. But once he went off and we also then lost the balance of Xhaka from midfield we lost our ability to control and create.

We also lost Martinelli to the right hand side. There he was unable to combine with Bellerin. And Aubameyang was not able as effectively with Saka. We saw today that the selection cried out for Aubameyang through the middle with Martinelli on the left and Pepe on the right. And Cigarette in the stands.

Amazingly we kept a clean sheet. Amazingly Mustafi did not give us his per game bonehead mistake. Playing against a physical team suits him. Especially when they lack subtlety and quick thinking. That’s not to say that McNeil does not look like a decent player.  From the second half onwards it looked like only Burnley would win this game. They controlled more of the game and the introduction of Torreira did not help our overall balance. We were incapable of linking up our players and pushing forward. Only when Ozil was replaced by Willock were we able to pick up the tempo of the game. From that point it seemed like we were more comfortable even if Willock was pretty anonymous. This was one of those games where once we got past that dominant 25 minutes Ozil disappeared.

I love goal line technology. How did Rodriguez manage to hit the bar and not score? I saw my life flash in front of me. Another away day lose against the over balance of play. Three more points lost. Yet someone the ball did not go it. Luck finally looked on us fondly. Given the chances we had it seemed only fair for the Burnley Bullies to miss their chances.

In truth Leno only had a couple of saves to make. Their biggest threat remain dead-ball plays. However, this is Burnley away. In the past we’ve collected 3 points. However, I’d still consider this a point gained rather than 2 lost. Again we showed some defensive backbone. Some defensive organization. This Arteta team is so much more fun to watch. And, for the first time since we lost the great AW, I feel optimistic. Not based on today. But based on the fact that we actually have the potential of a real manager. The tactics are superior and the balance of the team is better. We have a manager that demands more from the players. Of course, we don’t have all the players we need. But, finally, we’re pointed in the right direction.

We still though remain closer to the relegation zone than Europe. Soon we’ll need to start collecting 3 points. Today was not going to be one of those days. And certainly not after the first 25 minutes. We were fortunate to get two solid performances out of Mustafi and the child born of David Luiz and Mustafi. Though Guendouzi’s distribution was erratic, he did not jeopardize the team today. And he did not commit any needless fouls. But I don’t see any chemistry between him and Torreira. That’s why we need Xhaka there instead.

I know Bellerin needs more games to shake off the rust. But at some point we also need to be able to create down the right hand side of the pitch. I’m sure Arteta was nervous of playing Pepe against the bully-boys but we missed his creativity today.

We ground out a point. And I’m sure Arteta learned a little more about his players. This is a marathon not a sprint. My aspirations still only go as far as avoiding relegation. We’re not as good as the top 6 teams. So we need time to get there. This six months will help. Along with a proper transfer window and pre-season. Arteta needs 18 months to fix the Emery world he inherited. In that 18 months we’ll see Ozil move on and a completely new center-back pairing. And most likely the departure of our of our forwards. He needs time. And this club will give it to him because the fans can see something developing here.

Unquestionably we’re going to hit some tough patches. When we play against each of the top two teams we will be exposed. And we have to play the wankers at their revamped shithole. There will be tough games. But, I believe that Arteta has the intellect and understanding to see and start to resolve our issues. It’s not quite a rebuild that’s required as much as a jolt back to the level that’s required.

Thankfully today we did not suffer a VAR intervention. Unlike the wankers v Man City. How City did not win that game is beyond me. They were so superior as to be a joke. Yet they found more ways to not score and then suffered the consequences. It felt like we were Mini City today and that’s way I’m grateful for that point.

Now that England is finally out of Europe people will now start to realize the consequences for the EPL. The premier league is unquestionably the best league in the world – dare one say, the premier league in the world. And there’s a reason for that. All the best players in the world want to play here. And the best managers want to manage here. It’s no coincidence that the TV stations want to pay the largest sums of money exactly because of this.

Yet, for some archaic reason, the game in England us run by retards. In pretty much the way the world game is run by the corrupt retards at FIFA and EUFA. In England we have the FA. And these morons, because of Brexit, want to now limit the number of overseas players on a club. Why? Who asked them? Leave our game along and let the EPL dominate. Take your money and go and sit in your prehistoric gentlemen’s clubs.  Please leave our game alone. It’s bad enough that Brexit will restrict us from signing a Fabregas or Bellerin because we now have to wait until they hit 18 years of age. But to further compound the problem by forcing us to have mediocrity win out based on a passport is beyond stupid. We are seeing the first generation of England players that have grown up in this multi-language, multicultural league. And this England squad – not that I give two shits – looks better than any team in the last 20 years. So where is the argument that all these younger foreign players inhibits the growth of young English players and the development of the English national team. It’s yet just more nationalism. Just more racism. And just more Xenophobia. And worse than that, it’s just plain wrong. Yet, these retards are going to try and force this through. Hopefully the self-interests of the EPL clubs will have them resist if not decide they don’t need the FA to dictate the rules of the game.  It’s as simple as, if you’re good enough to play in the EPL you’re passport is irrelevant. This league has grown exactly because the retards at the FA have not been involved. Let’s give them some sherry and whiskey and return them to some dark room somewhere and throw away the keys. The quality of football in the EPL has dramatically increased in the last 5 years. We have less Stokes, Boltons, and (hopefully) Burnleys and more Wolves and Sheffield United’s. The EPL is more of a meritocracy than it’s ever been. It’s more entertaining and more unpredictable. When AW ruled the world he only need worry about 1 or 2 other teams. Now there are 6+ teams who are capable of getting into the Champions League.

When I watch a movie I don’t first require that there be a minimum number of English actors. Nor, when I got the theater do I demand to see the passports of the actors (not that I go to the theater). I don’t understand what dick comes up with these specious ideas. They should be fired for even proposing this.

In the meantime, we have two weeks in which Arteta can now further indoctrinate his squad. Finally, he’ll be able to spend time of the training ground getting his ideas across. It will be fascinating to see how this team comes back. Of course, this is true of all other teams. Except, aside from the wankers, most managers had a pre-season (and prior) to get their message across. I don’t expect miracles I just expect progress. Something we did not see under Emery. But, under Arteta, I am a believer. Finally, we can roll out again AKB; Arteta knows best. Well, at least better than Emery; who’s now telling the media that it was the players and the fans that derailed his program – not his inconsistent tactics, strategy and lack of personality and leadership. So, Mikeal, please enjoy your two weeks with the team and come back ready to entertain us again. And know that we won’t have to wander off to the unknown outpost of the Burnley bullies for another year.

  • LB7