Monthly Archives: October 2020

October 25th – Arsenal 0 Leicester City 1

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Awful Arsenal. It does get much crappier than this. We were awful awful awful. No ideas. No creativity. Arteta was awful. So were half the team. Ceballos barely touched the ball. Cigarette was awful. Bellerin was awful.

And our midfield was awful. No-one created anything. There was no creativity. No passion. No urgency. No ideas.

So depressing. This was an Emery like game. This was so worrying. For the first time in a year I felt like we had no clue. There was no idea here. No identify. The balance was awful. Celballos barely touched the ball. The only activity we had was on the left hand side.

It was sad and dispiriting. The passing was too slow. And it was all sideways. Their goalkeeper had but one save to make. We had nothing. It was all so boring and lacking in imagination.

And Arteta did not change it. You could see from a mile away that we had nothing today. Again, the midfield was non-existence. Pushing Ceballos off to the right did not work. Xhaka passed backwards. The only chances we created in the first half was from David Luiz.

And once he went off we created nothing. Nothing.

We are an average team with average players. We don’t nee Aubameyang. We can’t get him the ball. Why play Cigaratte when he’s like this. He was awful. Everything he did was wrong. His touch. His passing and lack of goals. He had nothing.

This was as bad a performance by the whole team as I can remember. We put them under no pressure. We did not even look like threatening for a goal. There was no drive.

I give up.

Fuck them all.

I had to watch 90 minutes of boring sideways passing. It was all Gabriel and Luiz passing. We never once played through their lines.

Which begs the question – what is Arteta playing at? Losing to Man City – albeit a crap ManCity – away is one thing. But playing like this against a depleted Leicester team is desperate. We were at home. And we created nothing. Nothing.

Sure, we scored in the first 5 minutes from a corner. It should not have been cancelled out. That was a bullshit call. OK, VAR sucks. We know that. And the ref was a wanker all game long. Giving stupid fouls against us all game long. But that’s not the reason we lost. We lost because we were monumentally shit.

We lacked spirit, energy and, most importantly, ideas. Their substitutes won them the game. Ours – Mustafi, forgot to cover Vardy. Xhaka lost his man. They played a forward pass to one of their own players – that’s a very novel concept. Shame we did not try that. They played within their shell. But once they decided to play they were much better than us. Aside from the monotonous sideways passing through to Pepe not being present even when he came on the pitch. Our most expensive signing comes one when we’re 1-0 down and is unable to contribute a single thing. Sure, against Sheffield United he saved us. But today he was as ineffectual as Cigarette. Next game please don’t play him. Put Aubemeyang in the middle. Play Saka again – he at least moves the ball forward. Tierney was fine today. He put in two crosses that neither Aubemeyang nor Cigarette could even get on target.

Today was the day we might just have realized – I might just have realized – how shit we are as a team. It seems that once we solve our defensive shape we lose all creativity. Except we did not keep a clean sheet. Arteta now has some serious work to do. He has some serious thinking to do about this team and his approach. Did he over complicate it today? Did he just get his tactics wrong. But what I don’t get was where was our fight? Why was there no reaction? Where is the leadership on this team. Maybe we have to wait another year or so before we can replace Xhaka, Mustafi, Cigarette, Bellerin and Pepe.

Also, note that we missed Luiz when he went off. And we were more vulnerable when Mustafi came on. We are missing Holding as well.

I never thought we’d win the league. But today we looked like a very solid, serious mid-table team. And it was so so fucking boring to watch. Tedious and dull. It’s not like we peppered their goal and had real chances. We were pedestrian and predictable. And boring.

Boring boring Arsenal. Two game in a row two 1-0 losses. No goals. And before that losing against Liverpool. We can’t play against good teams.

I’m so bored I can’t be fucked to diagnose this fiasco of a game. And next up we play away at Man United. And what team turns up there? Playing against a crap Man United team? And what accountability is there for performances? Does Cigarette start? I hope not. Who plays alongside Gabriel? I fear it will have to be Mustafi. This next game will show us what Arteta is about.  

-LB7

October 17th – Man City 1 Arsenal 0

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The handbrake was definitely on. It seemed like we were too afraid to win. Too afraid of Man City. Too afraid.

Waiting two weeks and then sitting through that was enough to send me back to a deep slumber.

Of course, we are still way ahead of the low bar set by the previous accountant. Organizationally, we were well defined. We defended solidly. I really like Gabriel. David Luiz had a quite game on the right side and Tesco Tierney was challenged by Mahrez but handled him fairly well.

But we lacked any real creativity spark. Just the edge that the missing Ozil would have provided. It’s not clear that Willian contributed anything. Maybe that’s the job of the highest paid free agent. To remind us that Ozil can create. Because aside from a few forward passes from Zhaka and Ceballos we reverted to square and backwards passing. Even when we seemed to be about to counter-attack we quickly would withdraw into our conservative defensive shell. We were so respectful and fearful of them that we were incapable of putting them under sustained pressure. There were moments in the first half – both involving the wonderful Saka – but we lacked spark.

Two Pepe-like teams nullifying each other. Man City could have torn us apart if they had DeBruyne. Fortunately, they only had a half fit Aguerro. They started like a house on fire. But then once they took the lead they also started to play with the handbrake on. Sterling was tearing apart our defense.  Bellerin was positionally having a hard time. We devolved into the team that ground it out in the F. A. Cup. The progress of the last month or so seemed to evaporate under pressure. Even if we did stay well organized. David Luiz slotted in quite well; made no mistakes. We continued to force the play out from our defense. There were a few occasions when it worked. But too often there were limited options for the person on the ball. Neither Xhaka or Ceballos could receive the ball. Hence, we had little creativity.

There was a predictable, slow, methodical and tedious nature to our possession. Possession for the sake of it; possession without purpose. We barely created anything for Aubameyang. Pepe rarely received the ball. And, well, then there’s Willian. I don’t get what he was doing today. He was so poor that it made Pepe look good. To be fair Pepe worked much harder than previous games. But Willian looked lost. Cigarette must have been pissed to have been extinguished. I guess Arteta was thinking that Willian would pose a different sort of challenge. A more mobile, skillful player that dropped off and linked up play. Unfortunately, instead he looked lost and was irrelevant.

I felt for Xhaka today. He worked so hard. Chasing their players all round the pitch. Ceballos played deeper and had limited touches. The few times each of them managed to play the ball forward, they cut through the City defense. I have to think Arteta will look back at this game and realize he set the team up wrong. Willian was a mistake. And, though we were clearly worried about the City counter-attack, we barely threatened their vulnerable defense. We showed them too much respect. We were not aggressive enough. Even in those last twenty minutes we did not push or create enough. Finding that right balance is the elusive next step for Arteta.

I believe in Arteta, but today was not his best day. He will learn and adjust. I like that he would have started Holding. I like Gabriel. Tesco-boy is a player for the ages. Saka is a star. Today, with little support, he created two chances and demonstrated composure and skill. He is the player Pepe would love to be. In a few years he will be the mainstay of the crappy England team.

We did not seem desperate to win today. We seemed desperate not to get hammered. Others will go to City and will win. I can see Wolves and Everton taking the game to City. We refused to do that. Arteta needed to be braver.

Party got a few minutes and a yellow card. Nowhere near enough time to make any type of judgement. But it’s not clear why, for this game, he was brought on. Maybe it was to allow Ceballos to move further up field. But even then, little was created. I can’t remember Ederson making a real save in the 2nd half and especially not in the last 20 minutes. As they say, you can’t score if you don’t shoot (or head or…)

So, that was a disappointing performance. Underwhelming. It’s not the end of the world yet (that happens on November 3rd). It just reminds us how far we have to go. Arteta has had just one transfer window. He focused, rightly, on our defensive frailties. Gabriel and, now, Party have helped address that. But, we need another window or two to replenish our creative side. We need to be able to find that balance that has been missing for so long. Under Wenger, in his 2nd decade, it was all attacking play with no defense. Under the Emery it was all nothing; no defense, no personality and no attacking play. Now we have a defensive platform. It’s not perfect – it won’t ever be with Bellerin and he’s lack of positional awareness. He allowed Fodan too much room today. But, going forward Bellerin was better today. But the strength we have on the left is not matched on the right. Pepe was better today so let’s see how he evolves.

But having to sit thorugh the dull international break to come back to that is deflating. Luckily the games will come thick and fast now. There will be plenty more twists and turns. But as long as we have Arteta then I believe we will evolve and develop. And hopefully we’ll learn to be braver. We’ll learn to have more confidence in ourselves. Today was a day when we could have nipped a point if we had more self-belief.

A word on VAR. Bollocks. Luckily our game was VAR-less. But it really is a complete and utter travesty. There is no reasonable universe in which the Henderson goal can be ruled out for off-side. It’s a joke. A bad one indeed. Some knob sitting in a room hundreds on miles away gets out a ruler to measure a hairs-breath separation of a few atoms and electrons and decides that the arm-pit hair of one players is beyond the extended penis of another player.  Even if the body-part was two electrons closer to the goal, it was the arm – which I thought was not included as it has to be a part of the body that can be used to score a goal. Either way, VAR ruined the game. How they could not use it for dangerous play when Pickford clattered into Van Dyk is insulting. Where was the knob in the room then? This is the other problem with VAR. There is no accountability. No-one knows who this knob is. They don’t have to withstand the fans (I know – they will return), players, management, owners and the media. They work in silence accountable to who knows who. This system can’t work without transparency and accountability. It’s not the fault of the technology. It’s the fault of the referees and the EPL; they need to fix this. It was awful last year. And we know it needs time to get it right but this was embarrassing. Not in a million years would any fan (accept an Everton one) think that was off-side. What a fucking joke.

-LB7