April 16th – Southampton 1 Arsenal 0

I’m turning into a vampire. On the 44th minute my blood drained away. Three games now. And each time I lose a little more of my limited blood supply. Soon the fangs will be protruding. On the plus side, I’ll be out at night and won’t be around to watch AFC.

Today was not on Arteta. The team selection is what we should have gone with against Brighton. And, today, we should have won this game. As against both Palace and Brighton, they shoot and they score. Whereas with us we shot and we either miss or find away to make a lumbering, giant of a man look like a good keeper. This guy is more like the jolly green giant except that he’s not jolly and is frighteningly ugly. He should be awarded a yellow card just for turning up. But somehow we managed to not take the numerous chances to score. It’s like the goal machines that was Saka and ESR has been vanquished. With Cigarette having caught COVID we finally had Eddie start a game. It was not his fault that we lost the game but it’s not like he lite the place up either.

Saka should have scored from Martinelli breakaway in the first half and then ESR should have scored in the second. Between that we had complete control of the game. Yes we were slightly ponderous and slow. But we were much but than the previous two weeks. Yet we still found a way to give them a goal. And, as we all know now, we are incapable of scoring. Three games now without a clean goal.

So when they did score – against the run of play – the blood drains out of the body because you know there is 45 mins of pain ahead. Playing Xhaka in midfield helped stabilize the team. Sambi had another solid game. He is finding his way. He was less defensive and help provide some limited momentum. Saka started on the left. I assume to give protection to Tavares. And he, muzeltov, made it past the first half. Quite an achievement. There were a few occasions when he got lost, out of position upfield. But he was not to blame to day.

Martinelli was more involved than Odegaard who was a little absent. But then he had behind him the master of all free-kicks, Cedric. Two free-kicks that were beyond embarrassing. And his overall passing today was very hesitant. He was more uncomfortable than we’ve seen for a number of weeks. At some point we have to get Tomi back – even if he’s only standing on one leg.

Unfortunately, beside him we had White putting in a Brentford like performance. There were a number of occasions where he was too slow on the ball, allowed it to bounce in front of him and was generally out played by their forward. Twice he should have cleared balls in the box but instead gave chances to them. He was nutmegged for one and then hesitant on another. Overall, he was way too sloppy. Alongside him Gabriel was more solid today so no complaints there.

Ramsdale had no real chance with their goal and aside from that had barely anything to do. One shot and one goal! Somehow we have to get a lucky break here. Though with the upcoming fixture list it’s only going to get tougher. Maybe against these other teams they will open up more and create more space for us. But I suppose this is what happens when you are relying on 20 year olds to score your goals.

We definitely got better as the game went on. The passing improved and the speed picked up. Saka reverted to the left, linked up with Odegaard and got him into the game more. But that final pass, whether it was in the inside channel to Eddie or out wide to Saka was just marginally off today. Sambi pushed up further and Xhaka was one of our creative outlets but we just could not take our chances.

So as frustrating and depressing as today was – especially on the back of the last two weeks – this was an improvement. Of course, that is a frightengly low bar and not one that a team that aspires to Europe should be measured against.  Maybe in the next transfer window we might acquire some luck. Mr. Rick O’Shea or Mr. Jammy Basterd. Because Eddie and Cigarette wont’ help us.

Maybe Arteta could have made his changes earlier but it was clear that if we’d have played for another 180 minutes we just were not going to score. At some point this dam bursts. But until then it’s pure suffering.  

I mean, let’s face it. How do you lose to Palace, Brighton and Southampton without scoring a single, clean goal? This has the potential to get a lot more miserable. Luckily there are only 7 more games for us to lose. These were our easy games. Though we’ve clearly proven that for us there are no easy games. Not this version of us. The pre International break version would have cantered through this games. Now we are on the edge of an abyss, if not outright falling into one. The only reason we’re not already dead and buried in relation to Europe is that the other teams are trying to be as shitty as we are.

Midweek will not help us but the home game against United now takes on even more significance. If we want to play in Europe we have to beat them. They are as crappy as we are. But they tend to better away from home. Somehow Arteta has to find a way to get some self-belief back into this team. We have to find a way to put the ball in the net (preferably theirs). Until then we will continue to drop like a stone. Gravity could yet drag us back to 8th. For Chelski we should just pack the defense and play like Burnley or Bolton. Try to grind out a point. We can only hope they have to play extra-time tomorrow. They’ve had a difficult, busy schedule. Maybe we could catch them on an off-day. They will, of course, catch us on our usual, off-day.

Then it’s Man United. I don’t see what Arteta can do to change this up. Pepe can’t start, ESR has been to inconsistent. And, when you looked at the bench today, you realized how thin this squad is. Not that I’d want any of the players we dumped in January. But it speaks to the vicious cycle we’re now in. We need more players but until we have a viable team playing in Europe it’s hard to get the players we need. To build we need to retain our trajectory. We have to be able to offer some European football.  Currently, we can barely offer Premier League football.

On the bright side. Oh, hold on. There isn’t one. As much fun as it was to see that lot lose to Brighton it failed to make up for the misery today. And the feeling that we watching the dissipation of all that’s been good this season. To get so close to the Champions League and then to miss out on the NoHoppaCup will be crushing. It will wipe out any goodwill Arteta has created this season. It will put him under tremendous pressure. It will cause our best players to wonder about this project. Except that today was on them. They had the chances to win this game. It was not like we did not turn up. We were not perfect. I mean we did have Cedric out there. But we did enough to get something out of this game. Instead we made the ugliest man in the league (aside from the captain of England) look like a lifesaving goalkeeper. Our lives are just now outright miserable. And we don’t deserve this. We are better than this. So it’s time to get out the Ouji boards, Buddhas or whatever it is we all pray to. Arteta did all he could do today. Now it’s up to us. We need to invoke all our spells to give this team some luck. A penalty would be much appreciated. A deflection. An own goal. A red card for the opposition. Things we have not benefited from. Anything. So, spend you time wisely. Maybe don’t over pray for Wednesday because we’ll need some luck at the weekend as well.

In the meantime, I’m going to protect myself with some garlic and find a blood transfusion – just not from Cigarette. COVID is the last thing I need at this point. All I need is 3 points. And not from the remaining games. But from one, complete game. I’d like to win a game. Please. Pretty please. I like to enjoy watching this team again. It’s just too painful, too hard at the moment.


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