Monthly Archives: May 2021

May 12th – Chelsea 0 Arsenal 1

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Dreary, dogged, dour Arsenal eek out three points. That was simultaneously painful and invigorating to watch. One commentator compared us to Sheffield United. The same commentator would previously decries Arsenal as not having a backbone. We’re either boring and defensive yet gaining points. Or they complain we can’t tough it out and win games.

That’s exactly what we did. Did we have some luck. Sure. Maybe it’s payback for Everton, Wolves and countless other games when we were genuinely unlucky. Here, we defended and forced Chelski to play sideways and backwards. We made them look like us when we lost to Leicester. Except then were were savaged by the media and Leicester were acclaimed for their tactical masterpiece. How Brendan had outsmarted Arteta. That’s just the hypocrisy we have to live with. And, worst of all, it’s compounded by our own fans. We won. We got 3 points. And I bet all we’ll hear is how it’s too little too late. How our style was abject – which, of course – it was. So what. Those fans that chased out Wenger are now intent on repeating the same trick with Arteta. They have made up their little minds and just want to complain. We actually beat Chelsea twice this season. But instead we’ll hear about the Everton, Leicester etc results.

More on this later. Back to this game. We were organized and dour. But Arteta clearly had a plan. This was like the approach he adopted that won us the F. A Cup last year. Tactics tuned to the specific opposition. He re-introduced a back three. Thus we had to see both Gabriel and Mari consistently give the ball away with their wayward distribution. But they defended solidly with able assistance from Holding. They were always under pressure and weren’t helped by Leno who would often take too long to pass the ball. But that’s because he’s indecisive and was not built to play this way. He’s more old school. He blocks shots (most of the time) and stuff like that. He does not do so well with the ball at his feet.

Of course, their high press was more smothering than ours. But then we really just had one forward. But the little pressing we did resulted in our sole goal and sole shot in the first half. It was the exact outcome that we would have expected from our defense trying to play it out the back. In the second half we continued to gift them the ball outside of our penalty area. For example Elneny tee’ing up Giroud. Or Gabriel on numerous occasions giving them the ball. We were overrun for long periods but we played a deep blocked and gave them no chance to really test Leno. It as tough to watch but they lacked the creativity to unlock our defense. Again, it was a role reversal for Arsenal. And it worked. We will not play like this in every game and even when we do we’ll lose quite often. But needs must. We – like them – were knackered. Saka is done. He’s on empty at this point. Odergaard is already on his holidays. And Tierney is one step away from another injury. And now Bellerin has likely played his last game for us. It’s a shame to see him leave in these circumstances. He’s given us 10 years and deserves the opportunity to play elsewhere.

Elneny was so industrious today. He never stopped running and working hard. Partey started the game by making two errant passes but then seemed to settle down. He really is a very good defensive midfielder though. He shielded the back three and understands how to best position himself. Together they helped snuff out Chelsea. Smith-Rowe ran himself into the ground and did his best to help Tierney. On the other side Saka got so little help from Odergaard. The latter reminds me of Ozil when he defends. He never tracks his player preferring to point to the player and expect someone else to track back. A better team would have exploited that. Holding really was solid again today. He is very underrated. He’s had a remarkable season given his previous injury. There’s no way he could have expected to have played this number of games this season.  Mari made his usual one cock-up per game but somehow their most expensive of strikers managed to find the empty stand. That and when they hit the cross-bar twice towards the end of the 90 minutes indicated that today was destined to be ours.

We as fans are so myopic. We (well, not me, of course) decide on a narrative and then fit all the data to re-enforce our prior view. Whether it be that Arteta can’t take this team forward to us needing new owners to invest in the team. Yet when we’ve invested – Partey, Aubameyang contract, Odergaard – that is ignored because it does not support peoples priors. And Arerta, we’re told, has had a miserable season and needs to be replaced. And yet, those same supporters also want stability and growth. But seem unaware of the contradiction with replacing your manager in less than 18 months. Sure we should have beaten Villarreal but let’s not kid ourselves we’re a Champions League team (yet). Judge Arteta after 3+ years. Support him now. Support the team. But it seems our fans view the glass as half empty. Yes, we’re a mid-table team. What did you think would happen this year. We always knew we needed 3 or 4 transfer windows to fix this team. Look how much better Chelski were today. That’s because they spent trillions of dollars every minute on buying everyone. We should focus on building around Saka and ESR. Of course it was this reverse fixture that saw the two illuminate our team and give us hope. And maybe it was that hope that blinded us to the known reality. It caused us to raise our expectations. And now everyone is pissed off because we’re not in the top 4.

It seems this cloud of pessimism has overtaken our club. Maybe it’s because people have lost faith in Arteta. But it seems that there’s this perception that we’ve had a disastrous season. Really? We got to the semi-finals of the NoHoppaCup. We’ve had some wonderful performances. We hear people harp on about losing so many games – 13 – and saying that’s unacceptable. Really? Have you seen the other teams in this league. All season long – without fans in the stadiums – teams have lost more games at home and we’ve seen more surprising results. The media get paid to push these story lines. That Arsenal is in disarray. That Arenal have had a terrible season. Yet the season is not quite over. And I wonder if they’ve been watching what’s been going on with that other lot. Now that really is what I’d call a car wreck. And they are about to lose their once in a generation captain. Not that that’s the benchmark. But, again, for Arsenal it’s not the end of the world. Yet. And it’s the same people that chased out Wenger. They have the attention span and patience of a fly. And the selective memory of a fly. Sorry all those flies reading this blog. But then you’ll forget this in another second anyway.

After an unexpected and valuable win at Chelski rather than be uplifted and happy (well I’m a little uplifted), instead, like our manager, I’m pissed off. He’s after match interview was instructive. He was aggressive and unhappy. I feel the same way. I’m pissed off. We were never as bad as our own fans have claimed nor as good as they thought when we put together a winning streak. How can any team be effective when you have Willian, Ceballos, Eddie in your squad. We’ve finally dumped Mustafi, Kolinsac, Sokratis and Ozil. Come back in 12 months and we’d have cleaned out 5 more players. But we knew all this. So why are our fans so unhappy with Arteta now? They need to channel their frustration to Kroneke. Because that’s a match made in heaven. Our deaf owner and our loud-mouth idiot fans.

So, well done Arteta for gaining three unearned points. It’s about time we won against the balance of the play. It’s about time we had some luck. They say over the course of a season that decisions average out. This was our make up game. Enjoy it. I’m sure normal service will be resumed again Palace.

A word on one of my favorite subjects. VAR. Today it felt like they made some changes such that all VAR decisions were rapid. No long delays and no stupid decisions. Maybe that was luck as well.

-LB7

May 6th – Arsenal 0 Villarreal 0

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Gdansk is gone. Until the 75th minute I had thought we’d sneak a goal. But then I realized the gods and ourselves were against us. Who would have guessed we would keep a clean sheet. Or that we would not have scored. We had some chances and on another day – or in a few years – ESR will show more composure in front of goal.

As frustrating as it is it’s not clear that we would have benefits from going to Gdansk to lose in the final again. And we’re certainly not a Champions League team. Maybe, as painful as it is to accept, we might benefit by being out of Europe for one year. It will be the ultimate test for Arteta. There won’t be any hiding of acceptance of us being unable to win something or finish in the top 6. Anything else next year and he’ll be gone. Not that I agree. One benefit of tone deaf owners is that they won’t change the manager this summer. There will be pleas to bring in someone else. That would be a disaster. Though it’s not clear what manager would now want to come to a team that is not in Europe next year. Maybe that’s another blessing for Arteta. He needs a couple of windows to re-fit this team. Let’s not forget he did win a cup last year. And this year has been crazy.

Back to todays game. They swamped our creativity and we did take advantage of the few chances we had. We looked tired and limited.

Too many players did not step up. Saka was muted as was ESR. Odergaard was none existent. Bellerin rather than Chambers was our threat on the right. Hence most of our creativity play came from the left. Tierney was restrained and played within himself – there was no way he was fully fit. Aubameyang was clearly not there either. Put it all together – one long excuse I know – No Xhaka, Aubeyang and Odergaard and Tierney not quite fit. Saka drained after a long season. And Pepe being Pepe. We did not have enough force or stamina or luck to get that goal

Maybe we saved ourselves that trip to Gdanks to only have to loose to Man U. I feel like this team is strung out and needs a rest. Well, boy, will we get one next year. No Europe for us. Arsenal truly bought into the idea of Brex-it. Or in this case Arse-it

Loosing Xhaka clearly changed the balance of the team. Having a single holding midfielder – Partey – was limiting. Neither ESR or Odergaard could penetrate their packed midfield. We barely tested their goalkeeper. We are a feast or famine team. And today, in the most important game, we were famine. There were a few periods where we generated momentum – mainly in the second half – and each time Villarreal shut us down. Slowing the game days, faking injuries and basically showing how to manage a game out.

If you had a choice of Coquelin or Partey for your defensive midfield player who would you pick? Based on todays evidence it’s not obvious. Party was piss poor today. Too often caught on the ball. Too often slowing the game down. He rarely made a forward pass (aside from a few long balls). He seemed like a liability. He was one of our biggest disappointments today. After his contributions early in the season I think he’s lost his way with this team. And maybe that’s happened since he lost Xhaka alongside him. But today was one of his more careless and error prone performances. Not what you’d expect in such a big game.

Another questions is, based on these two games (and the balance of the season) would we have done better if Emery was our manager. No fucking way. Shoot me now. I’d be dead from boredom. Never would I want him back. Yet he’s been more successful at Villarreal in a shorter period of time than Arteta has had at Arsenal. Yet most people would argue that player for players Arsenal are superior to Villarreal. So how to make sense of this. I can’t.

I should be more upset – writing this a few hours after the game helps – but this was always going to be a long project. The last thing we can afford now is to change managers yet again. We have to stick with Arteta for at least another year. Let’s see what changes happen in the summer. It’s time for an improved midfield. Someone to compete with Partey. Someone to displace Xhaka. And someone to replace Ceballos.

But before we dissect the entire season – there will be plenty of time for that – we need to understand how we could be so tepid for such long periods of the game today. No-one seemed to want take on responsibility for trying to create. Again, I’m convinced Odergaard has not fully recovered from his injury and ESR was marginalized. And Saka looks down and out after a long season. Take those 3 out and add in a Tierney who could barely get up and down the touchline and we would have problems. And did I mention that Aubameyang and Cigarette are not fit either. Yes, more excuses.

Most fans though will go after Arteta. He’ll handle that. And so will Kroneke. My hope is the mistakes he’s made – the false 9 in the first leg – will be experiences he can learn from. Because once the fans return the pressure will mount on him. Maybe I’m being too loyal to him. Maybe he is not the right manager. But, we need more time to make that judgment. We can’t afford the revolving door that was ManU or that lot down the road. We have to stick by him and be patient. We have no other choice. Sorry.

So herein endeth our season. What a meek way to go out. No crashing everything into their goal. No breakneck finish. No do or die. Just die. Maybe that’s where we missed the fans. But finishing with Willian and Eddie on the pitch is not exactly what you’d need to snatch a goal. Such a shame. I really thought we’d get through this tie. It really is a little embarrassing for the club. Not missing out on a final but more how quietly we went out. Where were our on field leaders today? None that I could see. Maybe we should have had Martinelli on earlier. And it’s preferable for him to operate on the left. See him collide with Cigarette in their penalty area just smacked of panic. They were both player the same position at that point. And yet we’d lost Ska to left back. That’s on Arteta. Let’s hope he learns.

I need to take a break. I’m getting more negative the more I think about this. Just as I’d started to recover and convince myself we could use this experience to focus next year on building our league position. It brings us back to Arteta. So let’s leave that for another day.

-LB7

May 2nd – Newcastle 0 Arsenal 2

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Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy. I’m sure I’ve said this before but I’m sure we’d win the Premier League if we could only play Newcastle each week. They really are a weak and directionless team. Thankfully. The perfect opponent for us. How bad are they I hear you ask? They are so bad that Ceballos looked like a moderately plausible excuse of a football player.

Our favorite Egyptian snatched the first one after another Aubameyang shanked shot. And then after more good work by Martinelli Aubameyang went all Karate Kid to grab the second. We kept a clean sheet but lost David Luiz, I fear, for the season and, with his contract running down, for ever. It’s a shame because as annoying as he is there is no-one who quite reads the game like him.

I’d hoped to see Cedric at left back. But it seems that Xhaka is stuck there for a while longer. I’m pretty sure neither Tierney not Cigarrette will be back for Thursday. So maybe Elneny will join Partey in midfield on Thursday. This would have been a fine time to let Xhaka return to midfield against the nonexistence threat of Newcastle. I can barely remember the steady midget that is Matt Ryan had a save to make. Ryan’s distribution is quicker and more decisive. If only he was 2 inches taller.

Bellerin finally got some minutes. He continues to play like Hector – a thinking mans Walcott. All speed with little football IQ. All speed but no control. With Gabriel making up the defense a ½ way decent team would surely scored. Thankfully Newcastle aren’t ½ decent. We torched them down the left hand side via Martinelli. Even with idiot boy Ceballos  dithering on the ball too long we still manage to create down the left. Whereas on the right the lethal combination of Bellerin and Willian was sufficient to put everyone else to sleep. Backwards and sideways. Except for Bellerin helping with the first goal. So I’m being a little unfair on him. But not on Willian. After being benched for many weeks this was time to shine. Except he’s too dull to shine. He’s too lazy to track back and too slow to attack and beat his man. Relatively speaking he came alive a little in the second half when, with a swath of substitutions, he moved move infield.

Getting minutes for Odergaard was important. With the weaker players alongside him it was harder but it was good that he got to develop his match fitness. It’s not clear whether he’ll start on Thursday. But at least it’s clear that Willian won’t. And we’ll somehow have to survive without Ceballos.

So today should have been a pleasant, relaxing experience. Cruising past a dormant Newcastle. Except we had to deal with the interruption from Old Trafford with breaking news that their fans are fucking retards operating under the banner of being against the Glaziers. How does that work? What are they complaining about? That team remain in a Champions League spot, recently won the NoHopaCup and were in the Champions League this year. They continue to invest/spend millions on Pogba, Fernandez, Maquire, Shaw, Cavani, Wan Bissaka and that Dutch player. So what are they complaining about? That they are American? He’s the reality. They are scum. They are thugs. They are idiots. They are morons. They should be banned for live. The trespassed. They should be held accountable. They are yobs just drinking bear and behaving like “lads”. I hope, but fear otherwise, that the media won’t give them the oxygen to hear their complaints. Whatever they are. Maybe it’s that they have no brains. Or dicks. BTW, did you notice the colour complexion? And gender make-up? This lot could have been part of the storming of the Capital on January 6th. Same kind of fucked up mentality. And, worse of all, this shit interrupted the Newcastle game. Unforgivable.

Like the Storming of the Capital, where the fuck were the police? How did these morons get to break into the stadium and then wander around uninterrupted for an hours. Run onto the pitch, grab TV cameras and break them? And then return an hour later? How is this possible? Surely even the police watch TV. Why didn’t someone call them in early? And then it took just 7 of them to clear the stadium? I don’t get any of this. Unless, inside United, there were conspirators – just like with the Capital Storming. Have you ever tried to gain access to a football stadium? It’s nearly impossible. And yet here, the United fans had been talking about this for weeks. So where was the surprise in what they did? Why was there no planning or preparation for this event? How did they make it so easy? And then we had to watch all the stewards stand around and watch the invasion take place? Who is running this club?

But don’t loose sight of the fact that these so-called fans are just piss-heads. No brains and no ideas. If they really hated the way United is run they have many avenues to pursue.

  • They could go and support the New Manchester FC that other fans actually created as a new club
  • They could organize a scheme to by shares in United and gain a voice
  • The could demonstrate outside the ground peacefully.

But they won’t do that because they are fucking retards, too stupid and just piss-heads who have gotten their 15 minutes of fame. They are hooligans and drunks. They were jumping on the goals and taking pictures. This had nothing to do with a demonstration and more to do with anarchy and piss-heads taking selfies while on the pitch. This was young kids having a lark. Don’t think there is anything noble going on here.

And again, what are they complaining about? If anyone should be demonstrating it should be Newcastle supporters. Now there is a club that is truly screwing their fans. Nearly all United fans are Jonny-come-latelys. They are so used to success they think it’s their inherent right. And yet, aside from suffering under Murinho, Moyes and LVG, they are still spending billions of dollars on players. What is their problem? I don’t understand. How would they have felt if the ESL had proceeded without them? Fuck them. I hate United even more now. If that’s possible. They are despicable. Bot their fans and their organization. At least with our fans demonstrate (aside from the morons at ATV) it’s more logical – we are a club in decline. But even our fans ignore the amount of money Kroneke is putting into the club. And, it was the fans who prematurely chased Wenger out of the club.

This is why you never want to listen to fans when it comes to your own club. The ESL was different because that was a common cause across all clubs – it was unifying call to action. Today we just saw a throwback to the painful thug days of the 80’s. The days prior to the success of the EPL. It can’t be condoned and can’t be accepted. This fans who stormed Old Trafford have to be held accountable. But I bet there is no appetite to do so. Because that club is losing its identify and has no backbone. They are now scared of their own fans. At least with Arsenal we know that’s not true of our owners. No, not at Arsenal. The owners are not scared. Because they don’t care. They are not listening. Welcome to Arsenal.

So, onto Thursday. This has been an interesting few weeks. First the ESL and now United thugs. The sooner this lockdown is unlocked the better. Then these idiots can just go down the pub and get hammered.

Maybe we can storm the Emirates on Thursday once Villarreal score a goal. Or sacrifice Ceballos on an alter outside the ground as an offering to the football gods. We need this one. Surely we can be as bad as we were last Thursday. And Villarreal can be as bad as Newcastle were. If only.

-LB7