Monthly Archives: June 2020

June 25th– Southampton 0 Arsenal 2

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Phew. Three whole points. It’s a miracle. And a clean sheet. Happiness. Finally. Or, at least, not depression and despair.

For the first 10 or 15 minutes it seemed that we could not establish our games. We were out pressed and harried. They clearly seemed intent on overwhelming our confidence; they knew we were fragile. But we survived. They had barely any attempts. And then we started to control and manage the game. Even though we should have won against Brighton, this performance was improved and coherent.

The improvement started with Xhaka. Having him calmly (if not slowly) function at the base of the midfield gave the defense some protection and was also the springboard for our creativity. Whether it was sliding the pass through for Ska to cross for our first off-side goal or spraying the ball around the park. His presence elevated the team.

While our goal was jammy we deserved it for the continued bad luck we’ve had with the woodwork. Though Aubameyang did not score, today he both lead the line and the team. He deserved to score and worked his socks off. Though I fear we will have to sell him, I facilitate between taking the money to invest long-term in this team and then wishing to retain him after these types of performances.

Because we need the money. Because today we saw the quite clearly a couple of players that are struggling. I’m referring to our two Spanish double-double “LL”s. Bellerin and Ceballos. Literally every pass (by foot or by head) was misplaced today. I’ve rarely seen him so disconnected from the game. Though he could tackle and track back his technical limitations were all too obvious. But he was still better than Ceballos who was, utterly ineffectual. He was barely present. He’s too slow on the ball and too predictable. It’s a damming indictment on Artetas’ opinion of Ozil that he picks a clearly useless player that could soon leave the club instead of his highest paid player-maker. And even when Ceballos is completely shit, he still perseveres with him. These two are our version of the Spanish flu.

The second half was worrying. It seemed like, once Southampton changed their strategy, we could not adapt. But thankfully we held out and capitalized on their GKS two mistakes. I seem to remember a game at the Emirates a number of years back where their GK also gifted us a goal. Today though Eddie worked hard, helped lead the line and hopefully built his confidence. He is no Rashford but he has potential.

I still worry about Arteta’s game management. He should have made his substitutions earlier. Ceballos should have been pulled after 60 minutes. Wilock, in addition to scoring the goal, just works harder. He should also have pulled Pepe today. When Bellerin can’t pass a ball to his own player Pepe won’t be involved in the game – as was the case today. Once we reverted to a 4-4-2 we looked more solid and Arteta was too slow with the change.

Another game and still we’ve yet to see Mustafa give away a goal or get a red card. You know it’s coming. Today he was solid with only a few crazy tackles and wild passes. He benefits from being alongside Holding who was clearly our best defender. He is stable, calm and controlled. Not blessed with great speed he shackled Ings and others today. He is towering in the air and dependable. Let’s hope he can stay healthy and get his match fitness back.

Martinez was not too shabby either. His distribution is shit but he made important saves and was quietly reliable 0 unlike their goalie.

There is so much work to be done with this team. So many players to be replaced. But it’s important for Arteta to be able to get a response and then build on it. I was happy to not see Guendouzi either. He needs to settle down a little. We need calmness out there. And today that’s what Xhaka provided. Now we just need a creative player in that Ozil/Ceballos position because neither seems to be up to the job.

And then there is Saka. Another impressive performance. The injury he picked up clearly impacted his contributions but still showed more creativity and skill than anyone else. An 18 year-old in his first year with the first team is remarkable as to how important he has become. Now we have to make sure, after signing the players most would have liked to have seen leave, we tie down our future. If we’re paying Luiz £115,000 a week, how much would you pay Saka?

Now off to Bramall Lane for the one realistic chance we have to get back into the NoHopa cup

-LB7

June 20th – Brighton 2 Arsenal 1

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Fuck that. What a joke of a game. And what a wanker Maupay is. Someone needed to thump him. Or at least break his leg during that game. And how Atkinson did not give a yellow is stupid.

So, there goes Leno for this year and longer. What a joke. BTW, how did Bissouma avoid a yellow card. He was fouling the entire game.

An hour later I’m still in shock. How could we loose that game? That has to be one of the unjust 3 points we’ve lost. Brighton had nothing the entire game, We had this one locked up. A brilliant Pepe goal. A number of changes for Cigarette and Aubamyang. Saka hitting the bar. I did not see that coming. It’s a killer though. Two losses in a row now. Against one of the best teams and one of the worst.

What did we learn? There is no justice in football. And Brighton are cunts. But we also saw that Saka was out best player and that Ceballos was our worst. All things came down our left because of him. Nothing came through the lines because Ceballos was not involved. But generally, our midfield was vacuous. Limit creativity and sideways possession. Pepe on the wing also helped. But generally while we were better than Brighton that’s only because they are shit.

Today was the first time I doubted Arteta. Why leave Ceballos on for the entire game? Where is Ozil. He would have benefited from the space today. At least give him 20 minutes.

Where is this team headed? Once we went one-nil up where was the leadership on the field? Both their goals were weak. Not sending out two men for the short-corner and then, in the lead up, Guendouzi – as he did all game – standing off. Our inability to close people down and reduce their space was so evident today. All that hard worked just thrown away. And one more long-term injury.

Sure we were so much better than Wednesday but you can’t lose games like this. Yet now we have developed a habit. There is a structural weakness in the team; in this club. We are solidly a mid-table team now but with some top 6 players. I have no idea how to arrest this fall but it feels like we have a long way before we hit the ground. Today was as deflating and sad as anything I can remember in a long time. There was no way we deserved to lose. Maybe, because we were sloppy, we did not deserve the three points. But to come away with nothing is stunning.  

Beyond Saka, there was a strong return for Holding. It’s good to see him back. Let’s hope he can avoid an injury for the balance of this sad, sad season.

I have nothing to say for once. I’m drained, disillusioned and depressed. But not dead yet. Watching this team is too stressful and destined to disappoint. I was happier in the proceeding 100+ days than I have been since Wednesday. The club is a mess and I don’t know where it’s headed. Arteta is now going to be under even more pressure. This squad only has a handful of players you’d want to keep. So how does this improve? I don’t think it does. Even average teams like Wolves and Leicester look far superior than us. With all our history, money and prestige we are well on our way to becoming Nottingham Forest (without the European trophies) or Aston Villa (with out the European trophy).  Maybe we can re-locate to the Midlands.

So, good-bye Europe. And good bye most of this squad. It makes no sense to pay the salaries without European football. We should sell Aubameyang and invest that money in the future. We should return Ceballos, sell Luiz, sell Mustafa, loan out Ozil. And then, I would inject the coronavirus into all the other teams.

We need to campaign to close the season down. It’s too distressing for us. It’s bad for our mental health. We need protection. How I dream of those blissful days in April and May where we could live in our dreams and projections. Reality sucks. Give me back my dreams and hope. Give me back my re-runs when Arsenal had a team.

This is like a more painful, cheaper version of Man United and their downfall. Others, Liverpool being a prime example, missed out on Europe for a year or two. Man United did one season as well. It’s not necessarily the end of the world. But for our club, with our organization, with our ownership I’m not sure. It’s going to be a long time before we hit the floor.

-LB7

June 17th – Manchester City 3 Arsenal 0

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Where’s the virus when you need it. It saved us for 100 days from a game like this. Yet without a vaccine we ventured North. Without an antidote to our defense we decided to re-start our season. Why or why should we have had to put with this after 3 months of boredom, fear and abysmal racism. And after suffering all that we had to witness this? This is our reward for still being alive? 3 months of watching highlights of prior season (all pre-Emery of course) and realizing that the current set of players would not get into any prior team from 2000 to 2017.

We should have gone the smart way and, like WHU and others, argued for the end of the season and then picked up points by prior games played. As it its, while we’re still at risk to death from the virus we’re also at risk of death by Arsenal. Or, maybe more accurately, Death by Center Half’s.

A strange team selection for sure. But for barely 10 minutes we looked ok, reasonable a blah team. I find it hard to get excited by Willock but it was good to see Saka on the wing and Tierney at full-back. It was, of course, scary to see Mustafa starting. And a spine built around Mustafa, Guendouzi and Eddie does not inspire confidence. But Mari looked competent for a full 10 minutes. And then all that training started to pay off. First with Xhaka being injured by our own player and then Mari pulling up lame. And just as you thought how lucky we are that there are 5 substitutes, we failed to notice that one of them was David Luiz.

Luiz will be pillared for this. Though on the bright side he’s suspended for 3 games so we have a chance to pick up some points. We defended resolutely for the entirety of that first half. We were on the verge of going in nill nill after multiple Leno heroics. And then, out of nothing Luiz makes (another) school boy error and we’re one nill down. All that effort and preparation wasted. You could see why Arteta started Mari. This was strictly amateur hour. Once you let in one away to this lot you’re royally fucked – a Prince Andrew cluster-fuck.

But we had half-time to regroup and see how we could muster a shot on target. We had 20 minutes to figure out a new game-plan. Could we find a way to get the ball to Wilock. Would Aubameyang touch the ball? Instead we had Anthony Taylor award a penalty and send off our best player. Throughout, the game I thought Taylor was shit. Missing fouls on Eddie and the use of high boots. But you can never convince me this was a red card sending off offense. If this had happened anywhere else on the field it would have barely been a yellow card. Was he denying a goal scoring opportunity; barely. And they had a penalty. It seems absurd to send the player off as well. Mind you, when it’s Luiz, maybe that’s no bad thing.

So a game that was ruined in the 44th minutes become a joke once they went 2-0. It was just a case of getting through the game without have an embarrassing scoreline. Interesting, once we made the final set of substitutes we started passing the ball a little faster. But once they went down to 10 men with 10 minutes left, rather than step up and put pressure on them we then allowed them to score – care of our other center half. Mustafa find away to fall over before they hit the post and scored on the rebound.

What did we learn from this? That we have no viable center-halfs? I’m not sure that’s news. But I think we also saw that Wilock, while very young, would not get into another EPL team. That Aubameyang was totally wasted. And that this team is beyond fragile. I can’t point the finger at Arteta. This was down to simple, school boy mistakes by our most experienced players. Both center halfs have played in the latter stages of World Cups and now they should be in our U-18 teams. I don’t believe we cause their GK to make a single save. We created absolutely nothing. With 10 men that’s somewhat understandable but for the entire first half that’s not reasonable. And then when they had 10 men we let another goal in – ok, we might have been more tired but overall we were non existent today.

It’s hard to think of any rays of sunlight. Leno was excellent. Tierney did not get injured. Saka looked threatening. Bellerin looked OK. But overall, our entire possession was too slow. We rarely played through their lines. And too often our players did not make angels to receive the ball from Mari and the other morons in the middle of our defense.

Where do we go from here? Fuck knows. Arteta has so much work to do with a set of players that have no clear identity. I know, this was only one game and no-one would have expected us to get points against Man City. But it’s the way we did not turn up. The way we capitulated. The way, after 100 days, it felt like we’d lost all the positive momentum we gained from the last game against WHU. And why? Because Luiz was on the pitch and was his careless self. Chelski fans must have been laughing out loud. As good as he has been for us most of the season this was quintessential Luiz. Unreliable and careless. And that’s not what you expect from your most experienced defender. It reminded be of his colleague and prior inhabitants like Silverstri, Squiglai and Cygan.

Wave goodbye to the Champions League and wave goodbye to NoHopa League. We’ll need to sell Aubameyang and re0invest that money. This is a total rebuild job. I still believe Arteta is the right man for the job. He set the team out right today. The curse of injuries ruined that game plan. AFC will be distraught after waiting 100 days for that. Knives will be out for Luiz. But that should not obscure the amount of issues this team faces. Losing Xhaka and Mari will prove way most costly than losing 3 points today. We don’t have the personel. We miss Torreira and we now face having to recover before Saturday. There will be pressure on Arteta now. And there should be on the players. They have to demonstrate they were listening to him and learned something over the last 100 days. Losing to ManCity is one thing but playing as weakly and spinelessly against Brighton is another thing entirely. But hopefully we can mark this one down as the Brazilian Wax job care of Luiz.

-LB7