Monthly Archives: March 2020

March 29th – Random Thoughts

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I’m so bored. Where is my football? We might as well be dead. This is like one of those infuriating international breaks except this one is not ending. Listen, I get this virus is deadly and all that. But, really, no football? Come on. Let them play. And then let us watch. I heard somewhere when it does come back they’ll have a game on every night in a scramble to get the games played. Why not do that now? All those hooligans are now at home darning their socks without even being able to go down to the pub to beat up some other half-wit. Let them attend the games as well. Then these nutters can infect each other – let Darwinism sort them out.

Anyway, talking about the cure being worse than the illness; throwing the baby (ouch) out with the bathwater. I’ve never really considered that phrase before. Why would someone do that? It must be pretty obvious there’s a baby in the bath water in the first place.

Anyway, I want my weekends back. Back to watch endless games of football. Instead I have to be socially distant. Though that is fine with me. I’ve spent my entire life practicing social distancing. Staying away from other people. That is one of the benefits of the virus. If only I could apply it to my family (but not Dennis) then I would have found happiness.

I want my football back. Every weekend now I’m under pressure to talk to other people. Whether it be zoom or some other torturing technology. Or even six foot away real-life people.

I miss screaming at a TV. I miss throwing objects at the TV. I don’t miss Tony Gayle commentating. I don’t miss random pictures of the crowd nor the managers. I miss suffering as Mustafa concedes yet another goal. I miss waiting for 5 minutes while VAR sends everyone to sleep. I miss waiting to hear how Sp*rs have dropped yet more points. I miss watching DarthVader rip apart that club. I miss not hearing our intelligent, informed manager provide real leadership.

Our manager was even astute enough to contract the virus while there were plenty of available hospital beds. Our manager was wise enough to get the virus ahead of playing Man City thus preventing that mauling.

They have to keep this season going. I don’t care about who wins the league. It’s obvious who should and will. But I want to see my team play. I want to see everyone healed from their injuries. By the time they finally come back – in June, I’d guess – we might even have Torreira fit again. For sure we’ll have Tierney back.

It’s quite ironic that this was the first year where England had a winter break. And then we have the Corona break. Everyone just needs to think of this as an early summer break. Let everyone come back well rested and then finish the season. Maybe 8 to 12 games. Take off another 3 weeks and then go again. The players won’t be able to complain that they are tired. Given the financial fallout of everyone else not working, they should be grateful to be earning an income. Then we can have 12 months of continuous football.

Maybe this will cause an alignment of the football calendar by dumping the international games – like the Euro 2020. They can keep the brand and play the thing in 2022. Then we can finally be shot with the Qatar WC. Anyway, with the Euro’s delayed, the season being jammed in and then having a delayed start to the next season, how will they get the WC qualifiers played anyway? Let’s just automatically give qualification to all the obvious teams and roll the dice (literally) for everyone else.

For Arteta, this is an opportunity to reset and evaluate before the season has actually ended. He had been on a roller-coaster since he was appointed. Now he gets a chance to reset and regroup. He gets a chance to work, albeit remotely, with everyone. He gets to instruct and guide his players. For Arteta this is a win. For Sp*rs, those poor players have to spend even more time with DarthVader.

When football returns they should be cramming as many games in as soon as possible. Initially, it will be without fans. Of course, there won’t be tickets, train schedules, or known times for the fans anyway. But at least we can get our weekends (and weekdays) back.

When football returns it will be different though. The economics will have changed. The money lost will not be replaced. Wages will sink; transfer fees will be less. At least for a year or so. The awareness of risk and the vulnerability to a situation like this will cause a collective reset in football. It will last just long enough until the billionaires and megalomaniacs see the markets recover along with their net worth. And then the usual madness will return.

Cesc spoke the truth. He reminded us how unique his talent was. It was inevitable that he had to return to Chelski – a la Petite – but his reason for leaving were both honest and understandable. We all sensed this. But who would want to be in a team with Bendtner? It also speak to why moneybags Robin left as well. It reminds us how Important it is to cease the moment and build a team. It also reminds us of unintended consequences. Cesc’s departure, followed by the decimation at Old Trafford, forced us to go on a signing spree. And know we’ve ended up with both the Head of the Academy and the manger coming from that batch of panic buys. Without Cesc leaving we would not have Arteta as manager.

Where is the cure for this damm thing anyway? China overpaid for all our least valuable, least talented players and gave this virus in return. The least they could do is hire DarthVader to manage a team in Wuhan.

I don’t know how I’ll be able to get through the next few months. I even started watching old games. That depressed me though as it only reinforced how blissful were our teams of the prior 2 decades and how miserable we’ve become over the last few years. I want Santi back. I want Pires, I want Thierry. I want Dennis (the original not my dog). Instead we had Denilson, Santos, Bendtner, Squillaci and Silvestri.

So give me back my football. Give me back my life. Before Corona takes away my reason for living. Give me back my Arsenal. Allow me to suffer again every Saturday or Sunday. Before I die of boredom. If this is real life I want none of it.


Match 7th – Arsenal 1 West Ham 0

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Lucky Arsenal. That’s all you need to know. That and three points. Move along please. You don’t want the details. It’s too dreary.

Another selection surprise. How could any Arenal team survive without the majestic Mustafa. That rock on which our defense is built. Instead we have the newly acquired Pablo Mari. He looks like the child born of Ceballos and Giroud. Nice looking player. Technical and a passer of the ball. But he was out muscled frequently. With him and David Luiz in the center of defense we have two players that read the game well but who lack the physical presence required.

This was Xhakas’ weakest game since MA took over. He gave the ball away too frequently. Literally from our first possession he managed to pass, while just off to the side of our box, to some nameless west ham player. Throughout the game they have numerous opportunities. From corners we looked particularly susceptible. It’s minor miracle that they could not score. Some of that is down to Leno. How Antonio missed so many chances will surely give Moyes nightmares.

Sokratis at right back does not work. All our creativity comes down the left-hand side. The right-side can neither create nor defend. As unlike a left full back as Saka is, West Ham still chose to probe down our right all game long. We could neither stop their crosses nor outrun them. Sokratis could barely win headers. So what’s up with Bellerin? We found out when he did finally come on. Showing the pace that Sokratis lacked he defended one attack and then proceeded, after a corner from them, (along with Nelson) to fail to get rid of the ball only to help set up another chance for them.

Eddie was poor today. His hold up play is not at the level of Cigarette. Combined with our lack of creativity meant he had few chances. And the one he did have Flappyanski saved. As soon as Cigarette came on we seemed to pick it up a notch or two. Of course it all started with Saka and then was finished off by VAR. Ah, how we love VAR. The linesman (ok, lineswomen – oh, ok, the assistant referee) flagged for off-side. I had thought it was for Nelson. Very quickly it was obvious that Ozil finally had an assist and that he was on-side. Five hours later and multiple re-runs we were woken out of our slumber to find out it was a legit goal. To say VAR has some kinks is like saying Elton John is a little gay. But, for once, it worked in our favour.

Of course we did not deserve to win. But not only did we get three points but another clean sheet. So something is working. OK, I know it’s only Newcastle, Everton and West Ham but three wins is more important than anything else at this stage. It won’t continue as the opposition becomes more than mid-table fodder. This Wednesday will remind us how far we have to go. Not that MA will need reminding.

This team has both vital building blocks and fatal flaws. Imagine this team in another 18 months. Who will still be part of the team? Saka for sure. Hopefully Ceballos. Leno likely. Ozil won’t be. Nor will David Luiz or Sokratis nor Mustafa. It’s hard to imagine both Cigarette and Aubameyang staying. Nor Xhaka. Half this team will be gone. We are in for continuous turnover. And watching the game today you could see why. It’s improved, better than the Emery team but still too disjointed. I don’t think Eddie will make the final team. But hopefully Martinelli will.

The only real live wire today was Ceballos. His playing for his place in the Real Madrid team. And today he was the only one driving us forward. Xhaka, as mentioned, was asleep for most of the game. Let’s hope that Dani can stay fit. It’s clear MA does not trust Guendouzi. And Wilock is no Ozil. So, Artetas’ options are limited.

Arteta needs time. And he needs players. Without the attraction of Europe that will prove difficult. He won’t be able to use the Pepe approach. Not that we have the money. But, if you make a number of favourable assumptions, we might still qualify. So if ManCity fail in their appeal and get kicked out of Europe and if either they, Leicester or Chelsea win the F.A. Cup there would be an extra two places available for qualification. Which means we could finished 8th (one place above our current position) and still make the NoHopa Cup. At least something to play for. Winning the F. A. Cup would also help but that’s three games against decent opposition. For instance, I don’t fancy away at Sheffield United.

We saw today and in the previous two games (and in the NoHopa Cup) that there are some exciting elements in our team but the fault lines remain. More reasonable teams will exploit those opportunities. Until we solve our defensive issues and find a true defensive midfield player or resurrect Torreira, the problems will persist. At City they had Fernandinho but now use Rodri. Could we deploy an equivalent plater to Rodri in our team? Not when Ozil is not comparable to Silva or DeBruyne. Until then we need more steel. And a right back who can defend.

Wednesday will be very painful. The last time I enjoyed a trip to Maine Road (ok, I know the name has changed as has the stadium) was when Carzola stole the show by being his exquisite self. How we miss him. Our remaining fixtures have us away at City, Wolves and Sp*rs at home to Liverpool. That’s not a nice run in. And I’m not convinced this team is up for the challenge. The only one I trust now is Arteta. He is the right guy. But as for the rest…..

A final word on Cigarette. That was a fine finish today. I still rate him. Once he comes out of his funk – and he’s starting to – he could be a game changer. He can link up with both Ozil and Aubameyang. And, just maybe, bring Pepe into the game. That would help rejuvenate us.

Strap yourself on now for a rocky ride through the end of the season. Beating average teams that outplay you is an entirely different proposition than playing Wolves and Man City. Get ready for some pain. But have faith in Arteta. We move in the right direction even if it looks like we’re lost in a fog. Be patient and come back in 18 months if you have a weak constitution.

And remember. Today, we won!