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.