April 29th – Villarreal 2 Arsenal 1

We were better with 10 men than when we had eleven. Thankfully, the referee after denying us a penalty finally took sympathy on us. You could see him look around the pitch and realize that Arteta would not make any necessary changes. So, the ref took matters into his own hands. He felt pity for Arsenal supporters and that he, like all of us, had had enough of Ceballos and so he sent him off. Best move of the game. This monumental cunt was getting roasted by a right back that can’t even get into the Sp*rs team. He gave the ball away consistently and exposed our meager defense of all sorts of problems. For once I also attribute blame to Arteta. After that rank first half he should have brought on Cedric and pushed Xhaka into midfield.  But back to Ceballos, I struggle to remember a bigger wanker. Someone who flatters to deceive. He slows down our game and flits around as though he’s an important player. He contributes nothing. He kills our game. Please, please give him back.

Can we beat them in the second leg? Here’s why we can – Ceballos is ineligible! What a trade losing both Ceballos and Capuoe. A double win for us.

Of course this does not excuse or ignore the horrible first half performance. Dire would be an understatement. We barely put any passes together and had no shape I could discern. Even then we nearly stole a penalty. VAR really does not like us. Yes, Pepe handled the ball but I did not know VAR could go that far back. I thought it could just review the foul for the penalty. Anyway, twice now in one week we’ve lost penalties to VAR.

Once we discarded Ceballos our play improved and we looked more threatening. Tonight was not one of Artetas’ better nights. His selection was wrong as was his tactics. And he was far too slow to adapt. Glad though I was to see Eddie on the bench the false 9 think did not work. Smith-Rowe was barely involved. But once we dropped into the #10 slot he started work get involved. And Saka, while remaining our primary threat, had a quiet night. But even then he got one penalty and should have had two.

There was a general sloppiness to our play. Chambers miss-controlled the ball on a couple of occasions and Holding was a little careless. But nothing is as careless as passing to Partey when he’s near their goal. I have yet to see any shot of his be on target let along cause a goalie to make a save. And his distribution was off as well. But part of that is because he had no-one with him in midfield. And there were few options ahead of him. When there were – once Aubameyang came on – he threaded the ball through to our club captain to tie the game up and Aubameyang fluffed his lines. Just as he has done previously in the NoHopaCup. This was a costly miss. But not as costly as all the misses of Villarreal. They should have put this game away in the first half as they were so dominant then. In fact, this game reminded me of the PSG v Man City game – except we had Ceballos and not DeBruyne. PSG should have been 3-0 up at half time and eliminated Man City in one half of football. Likewise for Emery. Instead they came out in the second half and went conservative – as any good accountant would – and allowed us back into the tie.

But let’s be fair, they will score against us. So we’ll have to score at least twice at the Emirates. We will have a one man advantage because Ceballos can’t play. So we’ll have a chance. Which we did not deserve after todays performance.

Arteta now has a week to figure this out. He can’t make as many mistakes as he made today. Sure the second half was better and we had chances to tie this up. It’s good to see Willian on the bench. It’s good that Martinelli is our first sub. But we have to figure out the right balance in midfield. We need to put Xhaka back there.

By the way did I mention that Ceballos was at fault for the first goal? Did I mention he’s a complete tosser.

Since my last review we’ve seen the complete implosion of the ESL and the continued disaster of VAR steal points from us. The issue with ESL was that it was dreamt up by people who literally have more money than brains. It proves you don’t have to be smart to be rich. I’m relieved this thing has collapsed. But don’t be fooled. The issues remain. And that is that Barcelona and Real Madrid are bankrupt and they need money. And they, like the other continental teams, are in leagues with no competitive balance. And, most importantly, no TV revenues to speak of. So, I don’t understand why the English teams joined in. While it might have generated more money for them it would also help a competitor that is in greater need while also destroying our EPL – which is the cash cow. So the fans saved them from their own mistake. But the need for money does not go away. There has to be consequences for not having match-day revenues for a year. And for the English top six, this would have been a quick fix. But it would have been disastrous.

But before I subscribe to #KroenkeOut I’d first propose #CeballosOut. And I’d have more chance of success. There is no way Kroenke is leaving. Ever. He’s never left a US team. He uprooted his NFL team and did not care in the slightest at the reaction of those fans. He’s not just Silent Stan he’s also Deaf Stan. So, get used to him, because he’s not going anywhere.

And here’s the thing. I’m happy that Arsenal were part of the ESL. Be honest, if the ESL had somehow manage to give birth and Arsenal were not involved – and even worse, Sp*rs were – how would these same fans react then? We had to be part of this. You could not afford to miss out on this. Let’s be clear we are not a top 6 English team at the moment (not that that lot are either). We were “honoured” to be included. But let’s not kid ourselves, we were there to make up the numbers. We were not the driver of this initiative. Whether we were in or out did not have any impact on the success of the ESL No-one was listening to our viewpoint. We did not make or break this. But, we had to be involved just in case it somehow succeeded. It’s always better to be on the inside rather than the outside.

And as for the righteous indignation from FIFA and UEFA was something to behold. This ESL idea was so inept it could make these two organizations actually seem less corrupt and self-serving that we all know them to be.

So, lastly for tonight – VAR. I’ve always been an early adopter of technology. And I’m all in favour of it being used in football. At the moment it’s just not working. Not in the EPL anyway. The decisions I’m seeing make no sense and are not rational. And that’s because of the VAR referee. This person needs to be pitch-side and exposed to the crowd (when it returns) and accountable for their decisions. The one against Everton was fucking retarded. In reviewing the actual foul they looked back 20 plus second to find a microscopic offside that occurred in a different passage of play. Who asked them to do that? And how long did they take over that – 3+ minutes. How is that a clear and obvious error. We need to fix VAR and there are four ways to do this:

  • Junk it entirely
  • Limit the amount of time VAR has to make a decision to <20 seconds
  • Make the VAR assistant sit pitch side
  • Automate all VAR decisions right into the refs earpiece or watch (like goal-line technology).

Now we head up to play Newcastle. I’d hope we rotate a ton of players and relax. Maybe VAR will, now it’s done it’s damage, decide to give us a few decisions. It’s a shame it’s an irrelevant game. But hopefully some of the players can find their mojo again. And maybe someone can point out to Partey where the goal is.


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