January 23rd – Arsenal 0 Burnley 0

Wake me up someone. Please. That cured any insomnia I might have. No need for medication. Just put that game on a loop.

From minute one the outcome was predictable. Burnley doing their perfect impersonation of Bolton. And us doing an impersonation of a team that used to be called Arsenal. If you think about our performance against Liverpool in the first half and then for the entirety of the game against Man City. Got it? Great, discard that. Pretend it did not happen. Because that’s what we did today. We were as limp and boring as we were under Emery. Sideways and tedious. No pace. No energy and no urgency. OK, I exaggerate a little. It was inevitable that, yet again, out best chance would fall to Cigarette. And the outcome was as predictable as it was during the week. He brought together his vast experience and found a way to entirely miss the target.

Of course, we did not exactly test their goalie. It’s not like we peppered their goal. There was one ESR move from our corner when Pope made a great save. But not much else stands out.

It’s depressing to watch us to descend to the level of the opposition especially when we needed the 3 points. It’s games like this that in the past that always cost us come the end of the season. Last year it was Palace, Watford and Brighton.

Arteta today, as the game progressed, needed to mix things up and change the tactics. I know the bench is not exactly littered with Kante’s or Salahs but we seemed devoid of ideas. This was definitely a step backwards. The next match is away to Wolves – who are climbing the league now – and that is a game we can’t lose. We should have Xhaka and Partey back by then. They were missed today. That lack of experience and guidance in midfield was noticeable. And most of our players seemed a little raged.

We missed Tommy today though after Thursday it was not surprising. We still kept a clean sheet. But we lose something when White is out on the right. Holding’s distribution is just not the same quality. Compare the cross-diagonal balls from White to what we saw of Holdings long balls. (I say!).

And what’s up with Tierney? He has turned into sideways and backwards Tierney. When he first arrived he would tear up the left hand side. Now his first pass is as described. It sucks any momentum out of the game. There were two instances in the second half when he either passed inside or turned up field. And both times attacks were started. Something has changed with him. And not for the better.

Odegaard worked hard – and defended – but there was little happening ahead of him. Martinello again ran like a maniac and worked his socks off. But Saka was again quiet against a full back he could take to the cleaners. He needed to be more aggressive and more direct. On those instances that he was, we created opportunities.

Not that it explains the result or the performance but what was up with this referee.  I can’t believe Westwood was not sent off for that second foul in the first half on Gabriel. If that had been Xhaka or Partey they would have taken an early bath. Do people even know what that is? Do people take baths anymore. I don’t. But trust me I am held to the highest hygiene standards. I clean behind my ears and adhere to regular shows. But I digress. Do players take baths? I don’t think so. So maybe it should be an early shower. Or, an early Tik-Tok or early podcast. Anyway, as we saw with Partey on that first tackle on Thursday that he somehow managed to receive a yellow card for something that was only just a foul. But yet, here we have Westwood cracking into our player and nothing. And you wonder why Arsenal fans are paranoid. Though I’m not convinced we’d have scored even against 10 men.

But basically today was boring and joyless. A backward step. But just tedious. It sucked away any enjoyment for the game. It reminded us that this is truly a young lead lacking some experience and leadership. And unfortunately, our most experienced player is not part of the team anymore and the next most experienced can shoot straight.

So now we turn to the transfer to see if we can help supplement this team. To see if we can find a way to get into Europe next year. Fourth is going to be a level too far. We will benefit from no more cup competitions for sure. But I fear that will not be enough. A little help up front and in midfield is required. We know that the referees association will be planning out how to hand a few more random red cards leaving us short in midfield again.

It’s good to see the back of Kolasinac. That’s progress. But we also need to add. Even if that’s tough to do in the winter window.  At least by our next game – which is more than two weeks away – we’ll have a full and fit squad. Maybe that will allow us to re-discover our energy and urgency. This two steps forward and one step back is difficult to absorb. We’re just lucky that the teams around us are also wildly inconsistent. But at some point we need to put a run together. Otherwise 8th place will beckon for us. I wish I could be more upbeat. Today was one the hardest reviews write just because of the tedium of it all. The drabness we witness seeps into everything after  a lackluster performance like that. So maybe the next few weeks will give me sufficient time to recuperate. Lets see.


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