Monthly Archives: May 2022

May 22nd – Arsenal 5 Everton 1

Published / by BBandbeyond BBandbeyond / Leave a Comment

So near yet so far. A fine season comes to a close with a deadening silence. For us it’s the NoHoppaCup – no surprise there given the prior two results. And, as they say, the table does not lie. But in this case the team above us is inferior in every way aside from two world class strikers.

Everton should have been relegated – along with Burnley, of course. They are pretty crap. But you can only beat what’s in front of you. And we thrashed them. I know they had nothing to play for apart from pride. But evidentially they don’t have any. We dominated from the first to last minute. And care of the wonderful ObeOne we actually were the beneficiaries of a penalty. But I don’t really get why it took them so long to decide. It either is or is not. In the case you could make the argument that it hit way above his elbow. But then he also made a move to the ball. If it wasn’t given I would not have gone mad. Of course, it was that other team in North London, it would have been given immediately without the help of VAR and, in all likehood, before the game started..

We began the game the way we should have against Newcastle. Creating and passing quickly. And once we got one it became so easy. Odegaard was clearly present for this game and dictated the game. Whereas on their side they had Deli Ali. His objective it seemed was to rile up Xhaka to try and get him sent off. I can’t believe that Ali did not get a yellow for some of his lame, late tackles. And yet more amazing was that Xhaka not only stayed on the pitch but did not even pick up a yellow. I’ll never get what Lampard saw in Ali and why he’s in this team. If that’s evidence of Lampard’s judgement then they will be stuck in the relegation zone again next year.

Eddie nipped in with a classic poachers goal. And, again, his link up play was both effective and nimble. Like Monday, this was amplified once Cigarette replaced him. Cigarette immediately missed a chance and then had a few other shots that explained why he’s not scored since man landed on the moon. And, yet again, he continues to foul the defenders just inside our half to set up their set pieces. I am so looking forward to him returning to France. I would willing pay for the airfare and personally drive him to any French club of his choosing. As likable as he is, he’s never lived up to the required standards. And in the last 12 months he has materially hurt our team. Not intentionally, it’s just that he’s not up to the level of the Premier League any more.

Xhaka was not pressurized today and therefore had ample time to stroke the ball around. But Elneny was the key creator today. Taking the ball from the defense and pushing us forward. In retrospect we lost 4th place when we started Sambi in midfield over Elneny and pushed Xhaka to left-back. But, at the time, no-one would have countenanced Elneny playing over Sambi. But hindsight being what it is. Oh well.

And when Sambi came on you could see he did not have the positional awareness we need. And on that point, OhNo put in a typical shift. Not completely awful though he was barely tested. However, at the start of the second half, when Everton decided to actually try and play he both found a way to play the ball directly to them in a dangerous position and then give away a foolish foul on Calvert-Lewin. OnHo had a few chances on goal and, of course, managed to blast them way off target. We unquestionably, desperately require a real left-back for next season. And if it could be a part-exchange with OhNo and a pack of crisps, then so much the better. I don’t think I have enough years left on this planet to see OhNo develop into a trusted football player. He is what Theo would be at left back. Fast, exciting and totally unreliable. Though that might be a little unfair on Theo.

And on his vaunted return we saw again why we need Saliba back here next year. Poor Holding, who looks like he has a proper hedge growing on his head now, just makes too many mistakes at this level. He is an earnest, committed version of Mustafa. I can’t believe I’ve just said that. But when you consider the lack of judgement in the NLD and the decision today to leave the ball from Calvert-Lewin as it ran across our 6 yard area, you have to wonder whether he will ever be of the required quality. We all love our Rob but, at the level we’d like to get to, he’ll be left by the road side. Assuming, that is, we can convince Saliba to return. My hope is that he can replace Gabriel. Though he scored today he still insists on making long passes when Elneny or Odegaard is the obvious – and quicker – pass. Anyway, look at any of the top team and you’ll see they all carry at least 3 first rate center-halves. We need that.

Martinelli was a live wire again creating havoc down our left hand side. It makes you wonder why he did not start on Monday. He had chances – which we should have taken – but he adds a real threat down the left. It’s just a shame he has to work with OhNo and not Tierney.

As pleasant as today was I do wonder why we had to bring on Pepe at 4-1 up with nothing to play for. Hopefully he’s sold off in some garage sale over the next month or so. In this one instance the Accountant (i.e. Emery) was 100% right. We should have gotten Saha. Though with the emergence of Saka we actually needed neither. Well, definitely not Pepe. If we can get a bubble-gum wrapper and a half eaten hot dog I’d consider that a good trade. But why didn’t Arteta bring on one of the young kids. By this stage there was nothing to play for and they would have benefits from the experience.

Let’s hope that both Saka and ESR take nice long summer breaks though I fear stupid England internationals might interfere. Both have looked knackered over the last few games. At their age they’ve been played too much. Of course, if Pepe was not such a waste, Saka could have got some recovery time. But Saka, along with Ramsdale, were our players of the year. Not something you could ever accuse Pepe of. What a waste of money.

I nearly forgot. Cedric scored. That means he actually hit the target. It was, in truth, a well-taken goal. But I fear it might encourage him to try more shots or free-kicks. And that would be a disaster. Anyway, my bigger hope is that not only does Tomi make it back, fit and eager for the new season but that we find an alternate right-back to Cedric. If we want to progress we can’t have him as the back-up right back (nor OhNo as the backup left back). But today, give him credit. He hit the target. But lightening does not strike twice in the same place so let’s off-load him while he’s still smiling.

It’s a shame we could not produce a performance like this in the prior two games, though, to be fair, the opposition were at a very different level. It was pretty inevitable how today would play out for 4th so we can’t say it was surprising even if there will always be lingering regret. But we can only blame ourselves (and Paul Tierney). Long-term, we might be grateful for entering Europe through the NoHoppa Cup. We need a couple more transfer windows to fully re-tool this squad. We’ve made excellent progress. Consider who we’ve jettisoned in the last 18 months – Ozil, David Luiz, Kolinsac, Mustafa, Ospina, Mikeytarrian, Aubameyang, Chambers, Mari, Torreira, Guendouzi and (yuk) Willian. That’s an entire team even ignoring those we’ve sent out on loan (Nelson, AMN etc). Though I hate those cheats and wankers from up the road getting into the CL, I like our progression and trajectory. The NoHoppaCup suits us quite nicely and will give playing time to our younger, less experienced players. And it will allow us to patiently add a few key players. Now that Mbappe has, for some crazy reason, decided to re-sign with the money pit of PSG as opposed to take the opportunity to lead the line at The Emirates, we can focus on the importance of the summer signings. But that’s for another post once we’ve digested and recovered from the trauma of the last few weeks. There will be ample time for reflection I’ll gather my usual random thoughts and see if I can generate a coherent, semi-intelligent review of the year later this week. A high bar indeed, I know. But I can hear by regular reader demanding to hear my thought (or, just maybe, thoughts).

And, remember, there is always next year. We’ll all be heading to Budapest! Oh come, on, no, not to fight the Russians – it’s where the NoHoppa Final is next year.

-LB7

May 16th – Newcastle 2 Arsenal 0

Published / by BBandbeyond BBandbeyond / Leave a Comment

Twenty four hours later I still feel pissed off and frustrated. I figured the time might heal the wounds but not really. Unlike the Thursday game where we could rightly blame circumstances aka a wanker for a referee, this one was entirely on us. No-one else to blame for this. No excuses. Well, apart from having Cedric in the team.

We did not turn up. We were missing in action. Or, rather, there was no action. This felt like we’d decided to repeat our performance against Brentford. Maybe it’s the stripped opposition. Newcastle, to be fair, were pretty decent. But it’s hard to understand how they won every tackle, every little skirmish and were always first to the ball. We looked to be playing at 1/3rd speed. We were slow to the ball and, at no time, did we get control of this game. We barely put any passes together. Even with 10 men (and against 12) on Thursday we created more chances.

Too many of our players were mere shadows of their former self. ESR was non-existent. He would lose the ball or make dubious passes. He looked entirely light-weight. In complete contrast to his Chelsea performance. I had to check a few times to see whether Odegaard was even on the pitch he was that anonymous. Of course, he was clattered one time in the first half but he barely touched the ball. These two don’t exactly carry any excess muscle and Newcastle all too easily leant in and got the ball from them. Xhaka and Elneny looked at odds and ends. The stability that they had provided for the last five games disappeared. Even the wonderful Ramsdale looked nervous in the first half. His distribution and timing seemed off.

As for the defense, as unhealthy as it looked, it only got worse once the curse of the hamstring struck Tomi. Maybe we should consider ourselves lucky to have had him play this last couple of games. His withdrawal brought in the midget-man Cedric. It was fun to see him consider marking their man-mountain Dunk from corners. This man is so poor he made Oh No not be the worse player on our team. Actually, it’s hard to pin any of this on Oh No. He was reasonably solid. But the entire game both White and Gabriel were under pressure. They had no chance to settle on the ball. Newcastle pressed high up and they had no outlets. Saka was hard to find and that just left Eddie. And, of all our players, I thought he was the best. Of course, that’s like saying of all dictators Mussolini was the best (of the worst).  He was the only one who showed any spark and worked hard (Eddie not Mussolini). Over these few games you can see that his game has evolved. He is more than a poacher (not that he has poached recently). His link up play was quite effective. And, in context, when Cigarette came on, still Eddie linked up better.

Not that it mattered, we were flatter than a flat earth. We were more dead than a do-do. We were lost and aimless. We seemed shellshocked before any shells went off. We were outmanned because we had no men. We had no gas in the tank. We had no juice left. And I have no idea why. Was it tactics? Maybe? Was it Artetas’ strategy? Possibly. But if your players can’t make simple passes I don’t know what the manager is supposed to do. If a player, of real quality, like ESR can’t win a simple tackle, I don’t know what Arteta is supposed to do.

I’d like to suggest it’s because the players were just knackered after a long season. But it’s no longer than any other team. It’s not like we had European football to distract us. Maybe it’s related to our squad depth and the youth of our team. I felt that Saka had been run down for a month now. ESR has been carrying an injury. And, clearly, White and Gabriel were patched together with band-aid before being pushed onto the field. But if we’re an under-equiped squad to play the regular English season god helps us when we layer in 10+ games in Europe along with a World Cup sandwiched in between. The list of key starters – Tierney & Partey – along with the walking cripples of White, Gabriel, Tomi, Saka and ESR just about decimated this team. And then there is Cigarette. He has been truly extinguished. He can’t be part of this squad next year.

And nor can Pepe. He is one player who can’t possibly be running out of gas. He’s just not ever had any. And against Newcastle, when given his chance, he was classically useless. I know it would not have made a difference anyway, but it’s so depressing to see how wasteful he is. His clear talent has never translated to the EPL. He has to be flogged off in the summer. Get a can of tomatoes and a used newspaper in exchange if you can. But, really, his pass to Xhaka that exposed the entire defense i.e. by that stage, just poor old White, was so careless and inexcusable. White, half dead already had to then contend with a 2 on 1, only to be saved by Ramsdale. But how could Pepe be so irresponsible? Well, that’s just the way he rolls unfortunately. He reminds me of a less ugly version of Gervinho – who went onto have a good career in Italy. Let’s just hope we can package him together with the midget Cedric to complete the final stages of the clear out.

So we’re not headed to the Champions League. And after the last two games it’s hard to argue that we deserve it. The problem is that those other wankers – who don’t deserve it either – will get it. But I suspect it’s a pyrrhic victory. They are a long way away from having a real team there. It’s only because we’re such wankers that we let the door open for them.

For us, we’ll have to suffer through Sunday with the full knowledge we are destined for the NoHopaCup. As painful as that is, because we had the CL in our grasp, we chose to throw it away. Whether it was because to Paul Tierney, Rob Holding or our inability to travel beyond the wall of the north into that cold wasteland to face mighty Newcastle, it matters not now. Even as we suffer through this we have to console ourselves with the fact that we did not lose the CL in one game. Look back to those first three games, to the loss at Everton, to those Palace, Brighton and Southampton losses. Just a couple of points more from these games would have put us in the CL.

Remember, after three games of this season no-one would imagine we’d finished 5th. No-one would have imagined that we’d even qualify for the NoHoppaCup. I know it does not feel like an achievement. But it is progress. This team has developed. Sure, the last few games has illuminated our known issues. With careful recruitment – a center-forward, a center midfield player and a left back – we can build on last summers progress. If we are able to find equivalent players to White and Ramsdale, then the NoHoppaCup could be a good place for this young team to develop. We do need a backbone though. We need a few players who can grab a game by the scruff of the neck when we’re being battered. Someone who can lead on the field. Because that was clearly lacking. And we’ve seen that happen more than once this season.

So it’s not back to the drawing board. Not quite. It just feels like a wasted opportunity. And these windows don’t come along that often. I wonder, in future years, whether we’ll look back on this the same way we do on Leicester winning the league. Next season there is just no way Man United can be as utterly useless as this year. So, they will contend for that 4th spot. And West Ham are unlikely to have a distraction of European football – oh, hold on, they would get the European Conference thing. Maybe we can only pray that Chelski go bankrupt before the season starts.

Hopefully the atmosphere on Sunday will not be funereal. And, hopefully, on the side line, Arteta can find his energy. I think he was in shock for most the Newcastle game. We’ve seen this happen a few times. He looks like a deer in headlights. He’s a young inexperienced manager. But he has to find ways of reacting when his team completely go off the rails. He had no visible impact at half-time. He has to learn how to correct these situations. For Sunday though, let’s hope we get our energy, passion and creativity back. Unfortunately, our losing streaks come in 3 so that does not bode well. And let’s also hope the midget does not play right back. Though without Tomi I’d prefer to see anyone from the academy rather than our mustached midget.

  • LB7

May 12th – Spurs 3 Arsenal 0

Published / by BBandbeyond BBandbeyond / Leave a Comment

Or Tierney 3 Arsenal 0. Or Cedric+Holding 3 Arsenal 0

You wait the entire week for the game and you get this shit. I was as excited and nervous for a game as I have been in ages. And within 20 minutes it’s all up in smoke. The cumulative effect of each of Tierney’s decision was to give the game to Sp*rs. Sure Holding butchered Son a little – who wouldn’t? And why not? But why did he have to give the penalty? Sure Cedirc is dumb. We know that. But no-one is actually reaching that ball as it was too high. And, for their third goal Kane clearly pulls on Gabriel and yet that’s not a foul. But Tierney changes the course of the game with that penalty call. It was borderline and he did not need to give it. This reminded me of Michael Oliver at Wolves sending off Martinelli. It just did not need to happened. But this is Tierney. A bullshit referee that makes you pine for the days of Mike Dean.

Clearly Cedric bares some responsibility. Just as Holding does for his consistent fouling on Son. But, even for his second booking, the ball was going way away from the players so it was not like he blocked any chance. He did use his shoulder and you can see him raise his elbow but he did not have to book him. He could have given a final warning or something. He could have exercised some judgement. But, no, just like the penalty, he was very quick to make that decision and then, again, change the course of the entire game.

Prior to that we had come out firing. Sp*rs were looking to play their boring defensive containment brand of football (yawn) and to hit us on the counter-attack; and this was a home game for them, mind you. We moved the ball around and looked in control. Until Tierney stepped in.

It’s so frustrating. All the luck we’ve had in the last four games evaporated. In addition to losing Holding for the next game it looks like we lost Gabriel for the season. And White, who was warming up never came on. Maybe he’s being saved for Monday but I fear he really is not fit. So we’re out of center-halves for Monday.

By the way, before the second goal Saka was fouled and they got the free-kick that lead to the corner and the goal. Tierney did not give us any decisions. He just handed us a red card and numerous yellows. This is not how you referee a top flight game. I’ve always thought he was a joke and tonight we got confirmation of it. He is not fit to referee. But he won’t be held accountable. He was their difference maker. What should have been a balanced and genuinely competitive contest was rendered useless. After a game like that you can’t tell who was the better team.

So I lay this at the feet of Teirney. I think that’s pretty clear. But, and here’s the funny thing (though I know no-one, in particular me, is laughing), we all know that have the youngest team in the Premier League. We lack experience. And tonight it showed. But we will learn and improve. But yet our failures today were not due to our youngsters but actually our older players. It was not the inexperienced players that let us down tonight. Cedric – who is as close to retirement as we can hope – and Holding are two of our most experienced players (aside from Xhaka). They are certainly our oldest. And yet, it was their decisions that cost us this game. Well, apart from Tierney but maybe I’ve already mentioned that.

What was Holding thinking? Did he let Son rile him up? If so, even more shame on him. This was his chance to nail down that position. He’s been so solid up until now. I’ve not seen him lose control but tonight he did. And even though the referee was a wanker, Holding did not need to give him the opening to book him again. And as for Cedric, in addition to the stupid challenge in the box for the (non)-penalty, he also found ways to pass the ball back to Sp*rs and set up more chances for them. He has replaced On No as our kamikaze full-back and our liability.

Arteta seemed, from the penalty decision onwards, in shock. For that first 20 minutes he was his usual self. But once they went 1-0 up it looks like he could not channel his anger and frustration into tactics. It was interesting though that he warmed up White but did not bring him on. As mentioned, this does not bode well. It was interesting to see Tomi move to center back. We’ll need him there for Monday. But Arteta will also have learned a lot. He won’t have learned that Tierney is a wanker because he’ll have known that already.

I also have a sneaking fear that he should have pulled Saka off because he did not look entirely healthy and we’ll need him for Monday. He protected Eddie but not Saka. As an aside, when Cigarette came on it only amplified how much better Eddie is. I know it was only for ten minutes but his lack of mobility compared to Eddie shone though.

There were little periods in the second half when we created some chances – for example, when Odegaard shot right at Lloris or when he had a shot deflect away by Davies. This was like the Southampton game, nothing was going our way, we were never going to score and we certainly were not going to get any calls from this wanker referee. So most of the rest of the game turned into a training session. Sp*rs did not need to extend themselves. They should and could have rung up the score. I would have hoped we would have in the same position. As it was, this game was effectively done after 20 minutes. What a waste.

We are in Europe next year irrespective. I would not bet on it being the Champions League. Without White and Gabriel, and with an unfit Saka, we now have two challenging games versus the easier fixture for them. We have to win both games. Hopefully by the last game of the season Everton will be safe from relegation. But the Newcastle game is going to be challenging. Look how hard it was for Liverpool. For us to have any chance of three points (or any) we will need a different referee and definitely the luck we had in the last four games.

I know I should be angrier. I was from their first goal until half-time but then it became a joke and I was more worried about not getting Xhaka sent off. I have no idea why he did receive a yellow card because the cameras continued this trend of showing us the crowds and not the game. Or the managers and not the game. I will know when we have entered the future when we actually can watch games with picture in picture. Or where we can chose the camera angles. Because whoever in the production room is making those decision is a cretin. We want to watch the action on the field not some chubby, hairless tattooed twat in the stands. As anyone who has the misfortune to know me will attest, this has been a frustration of mine for many years. It’s as though the producers (or directors, whoever they are) are trying to create some real-time artistic reality show with various personalities. Trying to capture everyone’s reaction. Whenever a player does anything it immediately then tracks back to follow the player -even if the play is proceeding somewhere else on the pitch. Why can’t they simply let us watch the action on the pitch?

Oh, I feel just a little better now. For one minute there I nearly forgot my anger and disappointment along with the sense of injustice as I got into my standard TV camera rant.

The good news though, as stated before, is that we are going to be in Europe. But, what a letdown. To lose like this. It was not a contest really. It was 12 against 10. And I had been so excited for this game.

So, onto Monday now. I truly believed we’d be able to wrap up the season today. I truly believed (and still do) that we’re a better team than that lot. Turns out Tierney does not see it that way. Of course, Leeds could make a similar argument. They made us work for it. I will retire to repair my wounds, put on my game face and hope that I can rediscover my mojo for Monday. How sad is it that now, rather than check out the opposition players, I’m checking who’s referring the next game. It’s Darren England. Whoever he might be. Maybe we should ask for Jonny English instead.

-LB7

May 8th – Arsenal 2 Leeds United 1

Published / by BBandbeyond BBandbeyond / Leave a Comment

Oh Yes. That’s what happens when you leave Oh No on the bench. Three points earned within the first 20 minutes and then a relative training exercise apart from some angst once they scored.

Eddie is soaring like an eagle (sorry, a reference to an Olympian from the 1980’s there). Cigarette could not and would not have scored either goal. The first was just pure opportunism and hard work. Even Wright-esque if you will. And the second one was actually quite difficult but well taken. His overall link up play was also excellent. It’s amazing to see the growth and evolution in his all-round play in these last few matches. His form could not be more timely. Cigarette was crying out to be extinguished. Eddie, basically – along with Elneny (I kid you not) , has helped turned this team around. Last year it was Saka and ESR. This year it’s another Hale End product and the-most-boring-player-ever. Ok, maybe there are a few others that have contributed. Xhaka was excellent today. Because of the nature of Leeds, Xhaka was played slightly further upfield with just Elneny covering the back-line. But back to Eddie, by the end, he looked knackered again which indicates he’s still working on adjusting to all this playing time. There could still be more from this boy. I go back to his miss against Everton. At that point I’d have been happy to throw the towel in on this guy. He’s not going to turn into Messi anytime soon but he’s proved that he is worthy of a place in this current team. And, going forward, as we confidently stride back onto the Eurostar (second-class seats only please) as we re-enter into Europe, he should be one of two or three forwards. Assuming he wants to stay. Which he must. Why would he want to join a bang-up average team like Palace or Brighton for more predictable playing time. Well, aside from the fact that both teams embarrassed us only a few weeks ago.

Finally, we’ve sorted out the starting position of Nuno. Dear old Oh No has a bright future as one of our trainers easing cramp on our players. Martinelli appreciated that contribution today. And that, thankfully, was his only contribution today.

What a difference he made to the team today. By his absence we finally saw what a solid, reliable and talented left-back could do for this team. We finally had some balance to this team. Notice how both goals and most of our attacks came down the left? When was the last time we saw that. How much more confident was Gabriel – not having to worry about a runaway, random bundle of chaos on his left. The defense – though untested largely – was able to deal with Raphinha. In the first half Tomi was able to track back and battle him without the usual heart in mouth moment we’ve suffered under Oh No. Instead of the fear of Oh No we had the quality and stability of Tomi. No angst just an actual footballer who understands the game. And it’s not like Tomi is a grizzled, experienced players. He’s barely three years older. But with him at left back we were able to free up Xhaka and increase our fluency. Let’s just hope that Oh No can stay on the bench for the remaining three games. Without Oh No, the natural order could be returned. And that meant our worst player reverted to being Cedric. As it should be.

Another reason for the shift to being so focused on the left-hand side was the sparkling Martinelli. He roasted Leeds today. In addition to creating the second goal he basically tore them apart today. One of his best games in quite a while. Xhaka played through some sublime passes for him today. Martinelli was at the center of most action today. From that perfect pass to Eddie to their sending off. I’m sure, even by that early stage, Ayling was so frustrated with Martinelli that he went all-Xhaka on him. This was one time when VAR came to our rescue. As soon as you saw the first replay you just knew if it was Xhaka jumping in then he’d already have been taking an early shower. Thankfully Kavanagh watched the replay himself.  Between a couple of penalties and the help of VAR ever since Southampton we finally seem to have got our fair share of luck. I don’t mean we were lucky to have Ayling sent off – that was well deserved. But we were lucky that Ayling was so reckless and stupid to have committed that unnecessary tackle. Very Xhaka-like.

But even before all this action, we were dominating the game. The balance in this team is so much better. No just because of Oh No being on the bench. We barely missed White. Holding, with his full head of hair, was solid. But with Elneny being available to receive the ball immediately in front of them, we’ve taken some of the weight off Gabriel. Our overall interplay is quicker and transitions happen quicker with Eddie also helping here. Odegaard was majestic again though he has to deal with Cedric behind him. Saka was a little quiet by his high standards but still managed to set up a few opportunities.

The only negative today – aside from not keeping a clean sheet – was our inability to really pile on the goals. Our inability to get that 3rd or 4th goal was highlighted by their one shot and one goal. We should really have put the game away by then. We missed so many chances as we understandably dominated the game. Credit to Leeds though, they worked hard and continued to try and play football. Apart from that little shit James who is a nasty little dirty fucker. Someone needs to go all Ayling on him.

The last 10 minutes were unnecessarily nerve wracking. We even brought on Pepe. He’s been on the bench for an eternity. Yet again though, when he comes on he barely flickers. He is our own version of Grealish. A large transfer fee. And very little return. Surely, he will be sold this summer. Even with European football, it’s hard to see where he fits now. With the emergence of Saka and ESR, his time has come and gone. Maybe if we end up in the NoHoppaCup he could help us against the sub-standard teams out of unknown parts of Europe. But I’d still rather get $20m and sell him on. He’ll be quite effective in the French or Spanish Leagues. But he was not built for the EPL.

Four wins on the trot. Assured of a place in Europe we now enter the NLD knowing that whatever happens we will still be 4th. I had to force myself to watch the Liverpool game this weekend. Unfortunately, they looked nearly decent and should have won the game in the last few minutes but Hojbjerg bottled it. So, you know they will be up for it on Thursday. Their dirty little captain, Captain England, will be dangerous and jumping in with two footed challenges. Son will be threatening, and they will play their boring counter-attacking game. But with Tomi to cover Kulusevski we should at least be able to defend properly. If we can come away with a draw I’ll be happy. We just need our luck to run our way for one more game. It’s not actually the most important game of the season. Arguably that was the 4-2 turnaround game at Chelski. But, of course, it’s against those arrogant, upstart twats. I’d have been happy with the NoHoppaCup at the start of the season but, more than anything, I don’t want them to get into the Champions League. It’s not that I desperately want to be there. I know we will with time. Next year, given the growth and development of this team. I have no doubt. But I’m buggered if those tossers should be in it. Can you imagine the pain and grief on Kane’s face knowing that he can no longer escape to Man City and he’s stuck playing in the NoHoppaCup for the rest of his career. How beautiful will that be.

But even after this NLD, there will be plenty of opportunity for both of us to drop points. Though these two teams are on different trajectories, we have in common inconsistency. Both teams tend oscillate between mediocrity and excellence. This game will be physical, intense and exhausting. So I would not bet against either of us dropping further points.

Last word now on the Arteta contract. That was a smart move and the timing was clever. It tells any future potential summer signings we have stability and a long-tmer plan. There are one or two twats out there claiming it was too soon to reward him. Claiming that he’s not earned it because we’ve not won anything yet. So, first off, he won us the F A Cup. And secondly, what the fuck did they expect him to win? The League? They are just miserable morons that can’t see the development and progress of this team. He’s turned over nearly an entire squad, got rid of the dead wood (both expensive and also the cheap) and returned us to a style of play we can be happy with. And he’s introduced youngsters. And he’s got us back into Europe. I love the idea that we offered him the contract after the three losing games. That tells me that there is some (though how much I don’t know) football intelligence within Arsenal. And it’s been a while since you could say that. So even if the NLD is a disaster, in the broader context, I know which team has a brighter future.

-LB7

May 1st – West Ham United 1 Arsenal 2

Published / by BBandbeyond BBandbeyond / Leave a Comment

Three-peat. Three losses in a row against bang average teams and then three wins in a row against ostensibly good teams. Three points. And now go off, renew your passport and pack your bags for Europe. Arexit is over. Europe will be putting out banners to welcome us back. In a couple of weeks we’ll know whether it’s the NoHoppaCup or the Champions League. If it were not for that other team competing for 4th I’d be a tiny bit agnostic. Champions League might require too much of a relaunch of our squad. But I’m buggered if we should give that 4th place up to those trumped-up wankers.

This was not a riveting game. WHU had their focus on Thursday. Which is a shame for them cause they won’t lift that cup. But for us, we had a below average team against us. Apart from Demolition Rice they are not that scary though Moyes has them actually trying to play football. If only Man United weren’t such egotistical fools he could have saved them a lot of pain.

We missed White today even if Holding held us together. In addition to our first goal – and his first ever in the Premier League – his willingness to throw himself at any shot and his defensive heading provided the needed stability. Arguably he’s as good as defender as White albeit a little slower. The issue is more on the creative side which White excels at. Having Tomi alongside him was a welcome sight. Even for his first game he locked down anything on their right and was so much more reliable with his distribution.

Gabriel had to deal with chaos on his left. Our boy Nuno – or, rather, Ohno – was his usual disaster. I can’t believe WHU did not target him more. Listen, I know Arteta continues to talk him up and explain that as a youngster he needs time to settle in, learn and develop. But, honestly, I wish that would happen in someone else’s team. Today he gave the ball away, failed to close down their wingers, overdribbled when in possession and generally destabilized the entire team. All these dangerous crosses came from his side. For their first goal he should have prevented the cross but, as ever, his starting position for when Rice pass the ball out to their winger was way off – he was too central – and then failed to close him down. Even when Ramsdale managed to save Rice’s header from the corner and the ball fell in the 6 yard area dear old Ohno managed to lose his footing. Against any team with a decent right winger he will be pulled apart. When we play the wankers they will have a field day with Ohno. He is just not ready. And shows no indication of learning his lessons. In the first half (I think) he stormed up field and drove into 3 WHU players as opposed to releasing the ball. Now we have assured entry into Europe (assuming we fill out all the COVID paperwork and remember to take all those tests) I suppose we have less to lose. But, unless we switch Cedric to the left, we are in for a very painful 4 games. He will certainly cause us to concede goals and drop points. He is an absolute liability with no indication of progressing. His throw-ins are a certain turnover. His marking is so lacks. His positioning is nearly always wrong – see how everyone shouted at him when they scored. They knew was at fault. I’m going to need a ton of therapy for the remainder of the season. He drives me fucking nuts. And I don’t see that changing until Tesco Tierney comes back.

I suppose sign of a maturing team is winning when we don’t play well. By that standard we must be pretty mature then. We were solidly defensively – excluding Ohno of course – with Elneny and Xhaka providing good cover. There was little creativity though. Saka shone – as ever – and Eddie worked hard. Odegaard did not see too much of the ball. Our problem is the left hand side now. Obviously that starts with Ohno. But even Martinelli was off today. His passing was off and he was peripheral for most of the game though he did set up the winning goal. All our action was down our right. A combination of Tomi, Odegaard and Saka is skillfull and inventive enough to trouble any team. Unfortunately, the combination of Ohno, Xhaka and Martinelli just are not at the same level. Not to blame Xhaka who again – aside for two careless give aways – was quite solid and creative.

Eddie should have scored today. He had two breakaways. Not that Cigarette would have been able to even get into those positions as he lacks Eddie’s pace. But today, when he dropped deeper, was able to help with the link up play. He won’t win the ball in the air but he will work hard. By the end he was knackered. He’s not played in a long-long time. He needs time to build up his match fitness. But he helps our team and continues to warrant his starting pace.

I thought Arteta should have changed things up quicker in the second half. ESR should have come on sooner but not for Saka but in place of Martinelli. And adding Sambi was delayed too long. Luckily WHU were pretty toothless. I’m not sure Ramsdale had a shot to save in the second half. But we did just enough today. It’s not too often we end up with two goals each from our center-halfs. Grinding out 3 points when your sub-par though is a critical skill for any team. You can’t rip up every team you play. And, though there was a lot missing from our game today, the fact that we walked away with 3 points is yet further evidence of the progress of this team. This is the kind of result we should have been able to earn against Palace, Brighton or Southampton. Maybe we just can’t get points south of the Thames.

That is most likely the last time Mike Dean will ever referee a game of ours. It was shocking to me that Xhaka did not somehow managed to pick up a yellow card. And that Dean did not send any of our players off. It says something about the state of referring in this country when he is no longer the poster child for appalling refereeing – for that, please see Paul Tierney. I thought VAR might have stolen Gabriels goal from us but we were spared that injustice. For the last three games we seem to have more luck on our side. Long may it continue. We’ll need it on Sunday against Leeds. We have to win that. Liverpool should demolish the wankers (who will hopefully pick up numerous illnesses, diseases and red cards). Which would leave us 5 points ahead with three games left. Then a draw at their shitty place should be just about enough given that a resurgent Burnley should put them to the sword. That or we’ll need to order some pizza for them. So let’s hope both Tomi and Saka can recharge their batteries and that White can also recover – we’ll need his creativity against Leeds. But they will be dangerous as they will be desperate for points. It’s just a shame Chelski let us down today. They really do like to concede embarrassing goals.

So, I just realized, no more Saturday fixtures for us this season. It’s some hodgepodge of Sundays, Thursday and Monday.  But we are close now. And even if we do find a way to trip up (yes, Ohno, I’m talking about you) we’ve already qualified for Europe. Before the season started we’d have taken that. And after the first three games no-one would have thought that was possible. But three wins in a row and the three points today now have us even looking at third place. But I’d settle for 4th, thank you very much. And, just to spite those upstart wankers.  Call me bitter (spell correct tried to turn that into butter) if you want. But, after an uninspired three points today we’ve hit our first milestone and now I can start to think of how I’d like others to suffer. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s really quite normal. And healthy. That’s’ why we are real fans.

-LB7