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March 29th – Random Thoughts

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I’m so bored. Where is my football? We might as well be dead. This is like one of those infuriating international breaks except this one is not ending. Listen, I get this virus is deadly and all that. But, really, no football? Come on. Let them play. And then let us watch. I heard somewhere when it does come back they’ll have a game on every night in a scramble to get the games played. Why not do that now? All those hooligans are now at home darning their socks without even being able to go down to the pub to beat up some other half-wit. Let them attend the games as well. Then these nutters can infect each other – let Darwinism sort them out.

Anyway, talking about the cure being worse than the illness; throwing the baby (ouch) out with the bathwater. I’ve never really considered that phrase before. Why would someone do that? It must be pretty obvious there’s a baby in the bath water in the first place.

Anyway, I want my weekends back. Back to watch endless games of football. Instead I have to be socially distant. Though that is fine with me. I’ve spent my entire life practicing social distancing. Staying away from other people. That is one of the benefits of the virus. If only I could apply it to my family (but not Dennis) then I would have found happiness.

I want my football back. Every weekend now I’m under pressure to talk to other people. Whether it be zoom or some other torturing technology. Or even six foot away real-life people.

I miss screaming at a TV. I miss throwing objects at the TV. I don’t miss Tony Gayle commentating. I don’t miss random pictures of the crowd nor the managers. I miss suffering as Mustafa concedes yet another goal. I miss waiting for 5 minutes while VAR sends everyone to sleep. I miss waiting to hear how Sp*rs have dropped yet more points. I miss watching DarthVader rip apart that club. I miss not hearing our intelligent, informed manager provide real leadership.

Our manager was even astute enough to contract the virus while there were plenty of available hospital beds. Our manager was wise enough to get the virus ahead of playing Man City thus preventing that mauling.

They have to keep this season going. I don’t care about who wins the league. It’s obvious who should and will. But I want to see my team play. I want to see everyone healed from their injuries. By the time they finally come back – in June, I’d guess – we might even have Torreira fit again. For sure we’ll have Tierney back.

It’s quite ironic that this was the first year where England had a winter break. And then we have the Corona break. Everyone just needs to think of this as an early summer break. Let everyone come back well rested and then finish the season. Maybe 8 to 12 games. Take off another 3 weeks and then go again. The players won’t be able to complain that they are tired. Given the financial fallout of everyone else not working, they should be grateful to be earning an income. Then we can have 12 months of continuous football.

Maybe this will cause an alignment of the football calendar by dumping the international games – like the Euro 2020. They can keep the brand and play the thing in 2022. Then we can finally be shot with the Qatar WC. Anyway, with the Euro’s delayed, the season being jammed in and then having a delayed start to the next season, how will they get the WC qualifiers played anyway? Let’s just automatically give qualification to all the obvious teams and roll the dice (literally) for everyone else.

For Arteta, this is an opportunity to reset and evaluate before the season has actually ended. He had been on a roller-coaster since he was appointed. Now he gets a chance to reset and regroup. He gets a chance to work, albeit remotely, with everyone. He gets to instruct and guide his players. For Arteta this is a win. For Sp*rs, those poor players have to spend even more time with DarthVader.

When football returns they should be cramming as many games in as soon as possible. Initially, it will be without fans. Of course, there won’t be tickets, train schedules, or known times for the fans anyway. But at least we can get our weekends (and weekdays) back.

When football returns it will be different though. The economics will have changed. The money lost will not be replaced. Wages will sink; transfer fees will be less. At least for a year or so. The awareness of risk and the vulnerability to a situation like this will cause a collective reset in football. It will last just long enough until the billionaires and megalomaniacs see the markets recover along with their net worth. And then the usual madness will return.

Cesc spoke the truth. He reminded us how unique his talent was. It was inevitable that he had to return to Chelski – a la Petite – but his reason for leaving were both honest and understandable. We all sensed this. But who would want to be in a team with Bendtner? It also speak to why moneybags Robin left as well. It reminds us how Important it is to cease the moment and build a team. It also reminds us of unintended consequences. Cesc’s departure, followed by the decimation at Old Trafford, forced us to go on a signing spree. And know we’ve ended up with both the Head of the Academy and the manger coming from that batch of panic buys. Without Cesc leaving we would not have Arteta as manager.

Where is the cure for this damm thing anyway? China overpaid for all our least valuable, least talented players and gave this virus in return. The least they could do is hire DarthVader to manage a team in Wuhan.

I don’t know how I’ll be able to get through the next few months. I even started watching old games. That depressed me though as it only reinforced how blissful were our teams of the prior 2 decades and how miserable we’ve become over the last few years. I want Santi back. I want Pires, I want Thierry. I want Dennis (the original not my dog). Instead we had Denilson, Santos, Bendtner, Squillaci and Silvestri.

So give me back my football. Give me back my life. Before Corona takes away my reason for living. Give me back my Arsenal. Allow me to suffer again every Saturday or Sunday. Before I die of boredom. If this is real life I want none of it.

-LB7

Match 7th – Arsenal 1 West Ham 0

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Lucky Arsenal. That’s all you need to know. That and three points. Move along please. You don’t want the details. It’s too dreary.

Another selection surprise. How could any Arenal team survive without the majestic Mustafa. That rock on which our defense is built. Instead we have the newly acquired Pablo Mari. He looks like the child born of Ceballos and Giroud. Nice looking player. Technical and a passer of the ball. But he was out muscled frequently. With him and David Luiz in the center of defense we have two players that read the game well but who lack the physical presence required.

This was Xhakas’ weakest game since MA took over. He gave the ball away too frequently. Literally from our first possession he managed to pass, while just off to the side of our box, to some nameless west ham player. Throughout the game they have numerous opportunities. From corners we looked particularly susceptible. It’s minor miracle that they could not score. Some of that is down to Leno. How Antonio missed so many chances will surely give Moyes nightmares.

Sokratis at right back does not work. All our creativity comes down the left-hand side. The right-side can neither create nor defend. As unlike a left full back as Saka is, West Ham still chose to probe down our right all game long. We could neither stop their crosses nor outrun them. Sokratis could barely win headers. So what’s up with Bellerin? We found out when he did finally come on. Showing the pace that Sokratis lacked he defended one attack and then proceeded, after a corner from them, (along with Nelson) to fail to get rid of the ball only to help set up another chance for them.

Eddie was poor today. His hold up play is not at the level of Cigarette. Combined with our lack of creativity meant he had few chances. And the one he did have Flappyanski saved. As soon as Cigarette came on we seemed to pick it up a notch or two. Of course it all started with Saka and then was finished off by VAR. Ah, how we love VAR. The linesman (ok, lineswomen – oh, ok, the assistant referee) flagged for off-side. I had thought it was for Nelson. Very quickly it was obvious that Ozil finally had an assist and that he was on-side. Five hours later and multiple re-runs we were woken out of our slumber to find out it was a legit goal. To say VAR has some kinks is like saying Elton John is a little gay. But, for once, it worked in our favour.

Of course we did not deserve to win. But not only did we get three points but another clean sheet. So something is working. OK, I know it’s only Newcastle, Everton and West Ham but three wins is more important than anything else at this stage. It won’t continue as the opposition becomes more than mid-table fodder. This Wednesday will remind us how far we have to go. Not that MA will need reminding.

This team has both vital building blocks and fatal flaws. Imagine this team in another 18 months. Who will still be part of the team? Saka for sure. Hopefully Ceballos. Leno likely. Ozil won’t be. Nor will David Luiz or Sokratis nor Mustafa. It’s hard to imagine both Cigarette and Aubameyang staying. Nor Xhaka. Half this team will be gone. We are in for continuous turnover. And watching the game today you could see why. It’s improved, better than the Emery team but still too disjointed. I don’t think Eddie will make the final team. But hopefully Martinelli will.

The only real live wire today was Ceballos. His playing for his place in the Real Madrid team. And today he was the only one driving us forward. Xhaka, as mentioned, was asleep for most of the game. Let’s hope that Dani can stay fit. It’s clear MA does not trust Guendouzi. And Wilock is no Ozil. So, Artetas’ options are limited.

Arteta needs time. And he needs players. Without the attraction of Europe that will prove difficult. He won’t be able to use the Pepe approach. Not that we have the money. But, if you make a number of favourable assumptions, we might still qualify. So if ManCity fail in their appeal and get kicked out of Europe and if either they, Leicester or Chelsea win the F.A. Cup there would be an extra two places available for qualification. Which means we could finished 8th (one place above our current position) and still make the NoHopa Cup. At least something to play for. Winning the F. A. Cup would also help but that’s three games against decent opposition. For instance, I don’t fancy away at Sheffield United.

We saw today and in the previous two games (and in the NoHopa Cup) that there are some exciting elements in our team but the fault lines remain. More reasonable teams will exploit those opportunities. Until we solve our defensive issues and find a true defensive midfield player or resurrect Torreira, the problems will persist. At City they had Fernandinho but now use Rodri. Could we deploy an equivalent plater to Rodri in our team? Not when Ozil is not comparable to Silva or DeBruyne. Until then we need more steel. And a right back who can defend.

Wednesday will be very painful. The last time I enjoyed a trip to Maine Road (ok, I know the name has changed as has the stadium) was when Carzola stole the show by being his exquisite self. How we miss him. Our remaining fixtures have us away at City, Wolves and Sp*rs at home to Liverpool. That’s not a nice run in. And I’m not convinced this team is up for the challenge. The only one I trust now is Arteta. He is the right guy. But as for the rest…..

A final word on Cigarette. That was a fine finish today. I still rate him. Once he comes out of his funk – and he’s starting to – he could be a game changer. He can link up with both Ozil and Aubameyang. And, just maybe, bring Pepe into the game. That would help rejuvenate us.

Strap yourself on now for a rocky ride through the end of the season. Beating average teams that outplay you is an entirely different proposition than playing Wolves and Man City. Get ready for some pain. But have faith in Arteta. We move in the right direction even if it looks like we’re lost in a fog. Be patient and come back in 18 months if you have a weak constitution.

And remember. Today, we won!

-LB7

February 23rd – Arsenal 3 Everton 2

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Goodbye relegation and hello optimism. Three points from a game we were destined to draw. Thank the best English striker, Calvert Lewin, for missing numerous chances. And our German goalkeeper. And, dare I say it, the best center-half at Arsenal – Mustafi. I always said this guy, with his poise, talent and reliability – if just given the chance – would be a superstar defender.

OK, maybe not. But at least his re-sale value went up.

After the last two games, this was a match I was looking forward to. That’s not an outlook I’ve had in the last two years. Finally, a team worth investing in. A team worthy of caring about. And a team that aren’t assured of disappointing you. However, this team selection continues to baffle me.

For the second week in a row the team selection was unexpected. Where was Torreira? Where was Cigarette? And Saka? On the bench! And Mustafi is still there with DL. And Eddie up top. Yikes. Another team I would not have thought of. Danni in midfield with Xhaka. Where will that defensive cover come from? This felt like last week. Against a much better team though. It must be MA sending messages to particular players. But I don’t think many saw this coming. MA is not afraid of taking risks and making changes.

This is why I would never be a successful manager.

All the action seemed condensed into the start and end of each half. How we could give up that first goal so easily would be inexplicable to anyone not watching this team all season. It seemed, at times, as if all the defensive improvement had been jettisoned today. It starts with Kolinsac entering into a wresting match for their free-kick and forgetting that he was keeping everyone one-side. Normally you’d back Kolinsac to win any tussle. But today he lost that – helped along by David Luiz – to give up a goal and then got the worse of another tussle and left to be replaced by Saka.

It seems that nearly any Arsenal formal left-back is destined to pick up a shoulder or thigh injury. Between Kolinsac and Tierney we could keep one doctor occupied all season. But thankfully we have a non-full back in Saka who is just masterful in creating goals. He has more assists than Ozil. Aside from his stray passing and loss of concentration in the second half, from the moment he came on the pitch we were an improved team.

I still can’t believe how many chances Everton missed. Of course it helped that they started with our £40mm man Ob1. And it’s good to see he still can’t figure out how to get a ball on target. That was money well received by us. Unfortunately, they had Richarlison who ripped apart Bellerin the entire game. Hector was well off the pace today and it feels like he’s regressed in how to actually defend – which, given how feeble he was, is hard to do. But he was lucky to have the Magnificent Mustafi behind him. Mustafi – making Arsenal great again.

David Luiz, who also managed to contribute defensively had a pretty wild game. From the first minute miss-header to – along with Hector – keeping everyone onside for their second goal to creating our second goal with a perfect Ozil-like pass for Aubameyang. He gave up two goals and created one.

Dani and Xhaka worked well in midfield. Dani was both the creator and the enforcer today, while Xhaka managed to avoid his default yellow-card. Some of his cross-field passes were perfect today. Overall, they somehow managed to protect the defense and control large parts of the game.

I was convinced that Everton would pull one back at the end. Once the thug Schneiderlin was pulled off Gomez and Bernbardo tested and prodded. It took some serious game management and an awful lot of luck to protect our lead. Kudos to Arteta and the Lord Almighty for this result.

Our first goal though was generated by players with a combined age less than Phil Jagielka. A delicate finish by Eddie – I fear Cigarette would have found a way to hit Pickford or the post. Overall Eddie worked hard, hit the cross-bar and scored his first EPL game.

Aubameyang is such a natural poacher. That first goal – care of David Luiz – was Henry-esque in it’s finish. I was worried he’d try and square it to Eddie but instead he perfectly placed it into the corner. Thierry would have been proud of him. And the second goal was another intelligent header – arguably even better than the one last week. This boy knows how to score. Again, I wondered whether we really need him on his original signing. Another reason why I’d be a poor manager.

Pepe was relatively quiet today but still set up that important winning goal. He’s working much harder defensively – which we need given the vulnerability of Hector. Pepe is established now in this team.

In the last 15 minutes we had both Torreira and Guendouzi on the pitch. Surprisingly it was Guendouzi that added more grit. Torreira while adding bite to our midfield suffered in his distribution. And with Saka being careless on the left and Bellerin being beaten all ends up on the right it felt like they were sure to score. Leno made a number of crucial saves. There was one from Calvert-Lewin that seemed to off-side – and, I suspect, caused him to hesitate – though Xhaka was keeping him on-side.

The team needed the three points even if they were somewhat fortunate. There are good things happening with this team. Signs of progress. I no longer worry about the threat of being pulled into the relegation zone. If the corrupt forces of EUFA can enforce financial fair play rules against the corrupt forces on ManCity then maybe we have a shot at Europe. But not if it frees up a spot for DarthVader. I’d prefer both of us to miss out on Europe rather than both is us get into Europe. Their need is more desperate than ours. They have the financial cloud of the onerous payments on their new white elephant of a stadium. If they miss out then the revenue dries up and that will accelerate their downward spiral. Best of all, with the injuries to both Kane and Son, DarthVader won’t even take the blame for failure and therefore he’ll be there one more year to inflict pain and depression on all those around him.

In the meantime, even without European football, with MA in place, we are destined now for better things. MA will make Arsenal Great again. He’s proven he can get more out of a collection of players than the accountant Emery ever could. This team is starting to show some backbone. It definitely has a better grasp of tactics and shape. Just look at how instrumental Xhaka is now. He is able to create and link up so much better. He looks like a different player. And, my favorite, Mustafi – though he will inevitably make bone head moves every game – has added physical strength to our defense. None of the rolling on the floor that we get from Sokratis. This is all the work of MA. Clearly AKB – Arteta knows best.

So, even with the surprise (again) of the team selection, Arteta has (again) proven he’s a better manager than I am. Who knew? The optimism I had going into this game was warranted – even if the last 15 minutes were too stressful. It feels like I’ve finally left an abusive relationship where I was destined to be beaten, disappointed and fearful of having hoping. Even though I know we’ll be dropping stupid points and making defensive howlers, for the first time in a couple of years, it feels that I should – at last – be optimistic and expect good things from this team. Sure I’ll be disappointed some times but it’s so much healthier to look forward to games expecting positive outcomes than inevitably knowing we were going to be a shambles without any identify and then find ways to lose. It was so tough for that Emery-lead period to be excited. But finally we have our Arsenal back. Not all the way back but at least pointed in the right direction. We know we are on the right path and, with time, we will be genuinely competitive. We don’t need European football for longer-term future and viability; that lot do.

So a good day today. Three points care of our German storm-troopers in defense. This is fun again.

-LB7

February 16th – Arsenal 4 Newcastle 0

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Now that’s a scoreline we’ve not seen in a while. Ozil, Pepe, Aubameyang on the score line. But best of all Cigarette finally stumbled over and scored a goal. Not entirely deserved but what we needed. Who knew this team could gain 3 points in one match.

What a team selection. Two weeks in the sand and somehow we lost both Cigarette and Torreira. I could, unfortunately understand the former but not the latter. You’d have got long odds on this selection along with that of Dani. It’s so radical that you don’t even notice that Mustafa is now deemed the regular center-half. I’m sure this related to how MA believed NU would set up but this was a calculated risk; it was based on the expectation that they would not bother attacking.  Nonetheless, it’s a selection that not many managers would have taken.

I’ve never thought of playing both Dani and Ozil in the same team. And then to add in Pepe along with Eddie? No-way. Where is the balance? Because there is no defensive cover here. MA hoped NU would park the bus and then hope they can’t counter-attack. This was brave by MA. Someone who wants to win. Someone who needs three points. This is unquestionably more Pep than Unai.

But that first half was pretty turgid. In Dubai they obviously trained on sand because for the first 45 minutes it looked like we were in quicksand. Our play was slow and sideways. We were disjointed and hesitant. There was no direction and our best players weren’t involved enough. Pepe passed backwards, Ozil was barely on the ball and Aubameyang was lost on the left wing.

Fortunately, NU were dire. Aside from defending they offered nothing. They had a few chances in the first half down Hector’s side. The poor boy really has lost his mo-jo; with his hair goen so is his speed. On a number of occasions he was beaten for speed – which is worrying for a play who’s game is based on speed. His judgement is hesitant, he lets the ball bounce in front of him too often. He’s been out for a long time and it still shows. He needs another couple of months to regain his form. Today he looked like the weakest link.

In that first half Dani and Xhaka were passing the ball sideweays and backwards without purpose. Eddie was barely able to make runs. Overall, it looked like the gamble MA took with his selection was going to backfire. But, fortunately, the opposition – if that’s the right word – was Newcastle.

Then came the second half. Finally we found some pace and movement. Dani got on the ball and dominated; Pepe was more involved and Saka was a star. This boy is fearless. In the first half he was our best player. In the second, he demonstrated leadership. The youngest player on the team had the biggest impact. He drifted infield and then made his runs down the left. And before that Pepe set up a classic center-forward header from Aubameyang. That changed the game entirely. NU were incapable of adjusting to being behind. Sure, as in the first half, they had a chance or two – always by getting the better of Bellerin – but they deserved nothing. On the other hand, we had Saka nutmegging their defender and then picking out Pepe. Then we replaced the underwhelming Eddie with our real center-forward. It was brave to select Eddie today but it did not work. He was just a few steps off the entire game. Not quite able to retain possession when needed, taking too many touches when he should have shot, hitting the bar for an open goal and generally just not making the impact required. He’ll learn a lot form this first game. It should give him confidence that he started. There will be more opportunities for him. And he will improve. He will help us this season.

But seeing Cigarette on the field setting up Ozil and then scoring a jammy goal will have lifted everyones spirits. He needs something because we need him. He will feel a lot better after that. He just needs to score in away games now.

Arteta must have lite a fire in the dressing room because that second half performance was so much better. Ozil was more involved and Dani move the ball quicker. Xhaka took a back seat for Dani to dominate and string the passes together. But, in a non physical and yet meaningful way, I realized that I love Saka. He was so entertaining, so lacking in fear. It was a joy to watch. On the right Hector was passing backwards and sideways whereas Saka was creating and challenging NU. It’s amazing that at this age he’s able to handle the pressure and the opportunity. It’s not like he’s been introduced into a successful team that has a defined identify with experienced players at the top of their game. He’s had to handle a new position, new manager and an unstable team.

I was surprised at how inept NU were. How little fightback there was once they went down. How slow they were to change their tactics. Sure they had a chance when they hit the post – after Hector got beaten again. But we were never threatened. It was just a case of being able to crack their wall of 9 players. And then once we grab a 2 nill lead MA made the right changes. Bringing back on Torreira to harden our defense and protect the win.

How bad were Newcastle? So bad they made Mustafa look good. David Luiz barely broke into a sweat. Our two center-halfs just passed the ball sideways under little pressure. In that first half these two played too many speculative long diagonal balls but that was the fault of Dani and Xhaka who should have been dropping to receive the ball. That changed in the second half and thankfully NU were nice enough to give us time to figure this out.

So three very important points. Clearly this is a long journey that we’re on. But today felt like a start. You can only beat the team you’re facing. Clearly there will be tougher opponents. Both Everton and West Ham will be tougher challenges. But with Cigarette scoring, Martinelli to come back in, Torreira on the bench and Tierney getting fitter we’re going to have interesting selection decisions soon. We won’t be able to get away with both Dani and Ozil against Everton. But it’s not clear who make way after todays game. These are good problems though. And MA showed he was willing to take risks with his selection. And he was right.

With UEFA fining ManC it will be interesting to see what the EPL does in terms of taking away points. I don’t want Sp*rs to benefit by gaining a CL place. It’s imperative they suffer as much as possible. Having them fail to get into the CL would be a winning season for us and crushing financially for them. It’s what I pray for. Their imminent demise with maximum pain. So we need SU and Wolves to step up. We’re too far away. But Chelski have to nail down a spot and we have to hope one of these others come through. After today, we can begin to dream of capturing another tedious season in the NoHoppa cup. As good as the second half was there was also evidence of how far this team has to work. I can remember the Liverpool team in Klopps first season. This does not feel that different. And he needed 5 years. So we’re on a long journey. But that’s OK because at least it feels like we’re headed in the right direction with the right manager.

After two weeks in the desert (both the team and the fans), it’s a pleasure to enjoy this team again. We are seeing progress and development. We finally have an intelligent manager. Though we still have to hear from that last loser who can’t seem to get over his failures. At least when Bruce Rioch departed he had the decency to keep his mouth shut. Each time Emery opens his mouth he just reaffirms why it was right to let him go. He was not good enough for PSG or us.

So now back to the NoHoppaCup and then it’s Everton. Maybe this season is going to more interesting than we’d thought. We have plenty to play for; two cups, a league position, the hope that Liverpool can lose a game in the next five matches and the belief that Sp*rs will implode and finish no higher than 6th.

-LB7

February 1st – Burnley 0 Arsenal 0

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I need a new Cigarette; someone extinguished the one we had. I love the man but today, in that first attack, he found a way to entirely miss the target. Someone has stolen his scoring boots and without them it’s painful to watch him suffer.

That first 25 minutes should have enabled us to put the game well out of reach. We started with possession, movement and chances to score. Burnley were nowhere. In fact, there are nowhere. Anyone know where this place is? I bet no-one could find it on a map.  They are the latter-day Bolton and Stoke City. Physical and bullying. With a crowd that wines whenever any of our players go down and with a manager who is a moaning old tosser. They are the anti-football of the EPL. And for the first half of the first half we run them in circles. We had our chances to grab the lead. Between Cigarette and Aubameyang, we could have been three nill up.

And then Burnley, with their free-kicks and corners, put of defense under strain. We looked like we’d concede as we got out muscled. As the second half of the first half developed we started to lose our way. All the movement and possession gave way to pressure from them. This was more like a game of one quarter for Arsenal. Thereafter it was a grind it out game. And the turning point was losing Saka. Our 18 year-old maestro; our new talisman. The majority of our attacks came down that left hand side. But once he went off and we also then lost the balance of Xhaka from midfield we lost our ability to control and create.

We also lost Martinelli to the right hand side. There he was unable to combine with Bellerin. And Aubameyang was not able as effectively with Saka. We saw today that the selection cried out for Aubameyang through the middle with Martinelli on the left and Pepe on the right. And Cigarette in the stands.

Amazingly we kept a clean sheet. Amazingly Mustafi did not give us his per game bonehead mistake. Playing against a physical team suits him. Especially when they lack subtlety and quick thinking. That’s not to say that McNeil does not look like a decent player.  From the second half onwards it looked like only Burnley would win this game. They controlled more of the game and the introduction of Torreira did not help our overall balance. We were incapable of linking up our players and pushing forward. Only when Ozil was replaced by Willock were we able to pick up the tempo of the game. From that point it seemed like we were more comfortable even if Willock was pretty anonymous. This was one of those games where once we got past that dominant 25 minutes Ozil disappeared.

I love goal line technology. How did Rodriguez manage to hit the bar and not score? I saw my life flash in front of me. Another away day lose against the over balance of play. Three more points lost. Yet someone the ball did not go it. Luck finally looked on us fondly. Given the chances we had it seemed only fair for the Burnley Bullies to miss their chances.

In truth Leno only had a couple of saves to make. Their biggest threat remain dead-ball plays. However, this is Burnley away. In the past we’ve collected 3 points. However, I’d still consider this a point gained rather than 2 lost. Again we showed some defensive backbone. Some defensive organization. This Arteta team is so much more fun to watch. And, for the first time since we lost the great AW, I feel optimistic. Not based on today. But based on the fact that we actually have the potential of a real manager. The tactics are superior and the balance of the team is better. We have a manager that demands more from the players. Of course, we don’t have all the players we need. But, finally, we’re pointed in the right direction.

We still though remain closer to the relegation zone than Europe. Soon we’ll need to start collecting 3 points. Today was not going to be one of those days. And certainly not after the first 25 minutes. We were fortunate to get two solid performances out of Mustafi and the child born of David Luiz and Mustafi. Though Guendouzi’s distribution was erratic, he did not jeopardize the team today. And he did not commit any needless fouls. But I don’t see any chemistry between him and Torreira. That’s why we need Xhaka there instead.

I know Bellerin needs more games to shake off the rust. But at some point we also need to be able to create down the right hand side of the pitch. I’m sure Arteta was nervous of playing Pepe against the bully-boys but we missed his creativity today.

We ground out a point. And I’m sure Arteta learned a little more about his players. This is a marathon not a sprint. My aspirations still only go as far as avoiding relegation. We’re not as good as the top 6 teams. So we need time to get there. This six months will help. Along with a proper transfer window and pre-season. Arteta needs 18 months to fix the Emery world he inherited. In that 18 months we’ll see Ozil move on and a completely new center-back pairing. And most likely the departure of our of our forwards. He needs time. And this club will give it to him because the fans can see something developing here.

Unquestionably we’re going to hit some tough patches. When we play against each of the top two teams we will be exposed. And we have to play the wankers at their revamped shithole. There will be tough games. But, I believe that Arteta has the intellect and understanding to see and start to resolve our issues. It’s not quite a rebuild that’s required as much as a jolt back to the level that’s required.

Thankfully today we did not suffer a VAR intervention. Unlike the wankers v Man City. How City did not win that game is beyond me. They were so superior as to be a joke. Yet they found more ways to not score and then suffered the consequences. It felt like we were Mini City today and that’s way I’m grateful for that point.

Now that England is finally out of Europe people will now start to realize the consequences for the EPL. The premier league is unquestionably the best league in the world – dare one say, the premier league in the world. And there’s a reason for that. All the best players in the world want to play here. And the best managers want to manage here. It’s no coincidence that the TV stations want to pay the largest sums of money exactly because of this.

Yet, for some archaic reason, the game in England us run by retards. In pretty much the way the world game is run by the corrupt retards at FIFA and EUFA. In England we have the FA. And these morons, because of Brexit, want to now limit the number of overseas players on a club. Why? Who asked them? Leave our game along and let the EPL dominate. Take your money and go and sit in your prehistoric gentlemen’s clubs.  Please leave our game alone. It’s bad enough that Brexit will restrict us from signing a Fabregas or Bellerin because we now have to wait until they hit 18 years of age. But to further compound the problem by forcing us to have mediocrity win out based on a passport is beyond stupid. We are seeing the first generation of England players that have grown up in this multi-language, multicultural league. And this England squad – not that I give two shits – looks better than any team in the last 20 years. So where is the argument that all these younger foreign players inhibits the growth of young English players and the development of the English national team. It’s yet just more nationalism. Just more racism. And just more Xenophobia. And worse than that, it’s just plain wrong. Yet, these retards are going to try and force this through. Hopefully the self-interests of the EPL clubs will have them resist if not decide they don’t need the FA to dictate the rules of the game.  It’s as simple as, if you’re good enough to play in the EPL you’re passport is irrelevant. This league has grown exactly because the retards at the FA have not been involved. Let’s give them some sherry and whiskey and return them to some dark room somewhere and throw away the keys. The quality of football in the EPL has dramatically increased in the last 5 years. We have less Stokes, Boltons, and (hopefully) Burnleys and more Wolves and Sheffield United’s. The EPL is more of a meritocracy than it’s ever been. It’s more entertaining and more unpredictable. When AW ruled the world he only need worry about 1 or 2 other teams. Now there are 6+ teams who are capable of getting into the Champions League.

When I watch a movie I don’t first require that there be a minimum number of English actors. Nor, when I got the theater do I demand to see the passports of the actors (not that I go to the theater). I don’t understand what dick comes up with these specious ideas. They should be fired for even proposing this.

In the meantime, we have two weeks in which Arteta can now further indoctrinate his squad. Finally, he’ll be able to spend time of the training ground getting his ideas across. It will be fascinating to see how this team comes back. Of course, this is true of all other teams. Except, aside from the wankers, most managers had a pre-season (and prior) to get their message across. I don’t expect miracles I just expect progress. Something we did not see under Emery. But, under Arteta, I am a believer. Finally, we can roll out again AKB; Arteta knows best. Well, at least better than Emery; who’s now telling the media that it was the players and the fans that derailed his program – not his inconsistent tactics, strategy and lack of personality and leadership. So, Mikeal, please enjoy your two weeks with the team and come back ready to entertain us again. And know that we won’t have to wander off to the unknown outpost of the Burnley bullies for another year.

  • LB7

January 18th – Arsenal 1 Sheffield United 1

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Welcome back my friend(s). I’ve been solving the worlds other problems since the last decade. With limited success. But we’ve finally procured an actual manager. And one that can express an intelligent thought. So, I say “let the rebuild begin”. None of this rubbish that Emery heaped on us. None of this shifting tactics (if there were any) or playing players in the wrong position.

For this new decade we finally have our Torreira back. And we’ve found the real David Luiz. Unfortunately, we still have the real Mustafa. Somethings can’t be changed.

We had the benefit of Exit (Emery Exit) and now we pray for the real Mexit. None of this royal crap here just a plan to remove Mustafa from our squad. He tried so hard today to give the ball to the opposition.  Maybe it was because they were playing in yellow that confused him. But let’s hope Sokratis recovers for Tuesday. You know this manager is intelligent enough to see what everyone sees, namely, that we need another center half as backup.

Today was another brick in the wall. Another step in the one direction. Yet more progress down Abbey Road. Having to recover from the regression of the last 18 months will take some time. But we finally have a group of players that look like they are functioning within a team.

In the previous decade I might have offered a view that favoured Ancelotti and that Arteta was too big a risk. While, of course, I was right I did neglect the importance of alliteration in the decision making process. Following on from AW we meandered off to UE; preferring to go with a manager that fit our stadium sponsor. Not bad in terms of vowels and the start of the alphabet. But how can you go wrong with MA? It’s even the upside down mirror of our greatest ever manager (sorry HC, you are excluded as you had no vowels).

Back to today. I had low expectations. SU are a very fine team; remarkable in fact. Disciplined but attacking. I challenge you to name a single player in that team. They comprise no-name, run of the mill, unexceptional players. Yet, as they have demonstrated, they are a better team than us (and most of the league). And then to see both Mustafa in the line-up and Dean as the referee combined with Tony Gayle as one of the commentators seemed like fate was telling us how this would end.

So though we threw away the 2 points there were periods in the second half where we looked quite threatening. We were fortunate to go in at half-time with the lead, but we did have chances to go further ahead. By the time they scored we seemed more comfortable than we had the entire game. In fact, a la Chelsea, we nearly handed them the three points. Whereas with Emery we had to always come from behind with MA it seems like we have to struggle to hold onto leads. In due course, and with a better center-half, we will fix this.

Leno is beginning to worry me. Under the Emery regime, he often was our best player. But, starting with Chelsea, he’s starting to make mistakes in judgement. And his distribution from the back, while far superior to Cech, is too risky. And, too often, he’s too slow to make decisions. And that lack of pace in distribution permeates to the defense which all too often is trapped in by their forwards.

Maitland-Niles has improved dramatically. His distribution is not perfect but his defending has improved. For example, against Palace he tied up Zaha completely. He and Pepe still have to work on their combinational play. But, in the absence of Hector he’s performed admirably.

Saka is a revelation. He evolves from game to game. Obviously the boy can’t defend but then nor can Kolinsac. And he’s sure to get ripped apart by any decent winger but his forward play is intelligent an, unlike AMN, he can cross a ball.

How good is Arteta? His so good he’s made Xhaka look good. Having him rotate in the left center-half/left back position to receive the ball when we’re in possession has allowed Xhaka to get on the ball and influence the tempo of our game. He looks more stable and creative. Of course, he’s still slower than a dead horse and can’t tackle any better than legless, armless paraplegic. But he combines well with the most wonderful Torreira. This boy is dynamite. He is the white Kante. He is the Uruguayan Parlour. He is the only defensive midfield player this club has. And now it looks like we have some level of protection for our defense.

MA has even brought some life back into our expensive version of Erickson. Ozil was prescient in deciding to wait out Emery, rightly figuring the manager would depart before he would. Today was not a great day for him. There was little room for him to work in. But he’s better than injured Dani and the best we currently have. And thankfully we’ve off-loaded baby-faced Smith-Rowe; let him grow some facial hair before we bring him back. His the current version of Henri Lansbury. He’ll find a nice career in the Championship.

Pepe is getting there. I remember when we brought in the nimble-footed Pires. It took him six months to adjust to the English game. It’s going to take Pepe longer. His still too easily eased off the ball; he must be stronger. But Pepe is inventive and creative. And he clearly scares the other team (witness the thug Chilwell – have you ever come across such a misnamed player? – against West Ham). His young and, under the guidance of MA, will continue to improve.

Lost in the transition from the gormless, wanker Emery to the boy-genius Arteta has been the kidnapping of our Cigarette. He no longer can score goals. Though he works hard and the linkup play has improved someone has stolen his scoring shoes (or other body-parts). Without Aubameyang, that’s not a great place to be. Today Aub would have had two goals before Martinelli scored.  This kid is a phenom. As poorly as he played today – by his own high standards – he still scored our all important goal. His scoring record is remarkable. In ten years time he’ll still be younger than Aub is now. He will either become our highest scoring player of all time or our highest priced player to leave Arsenal for RM or Barca.

It’s good to see that MA trusts Nelson; this kid also has potential. And it’s also good to see that MA recognizes that we need to polish Guendouzi before we give him more playing time. Hopefully, under his tutelage, he’ll be able to harness that potential and, eventually replace Xhaka – but in time. Not now. And I much prefer seeing Willock on the bench.

I still remain more concerned about the relegation zone than Europe. There are too many teams in the middle of the table but within range of the bottom three. We are a losing streak away from that pressure – which MA does not need. But Europe is out of reach. Our own BrExit. But we’ve seen, over the years, Liverpool, Chelski and Manure miss out on Europe for one year. It won’t be the worse thing in the world if we use that time (and lack of money) wisely. In another year we’ll have gotten the high wage bill players off-loaded and our youth players will be that much better. Of course, we could get lucky with the FA Cup or the NoHoppa Cup but I doubt it. This squad is not as poor as Emery made them but it still needs time and grooming.

For Christmas I asked Santa for a new manager. Thank you Santa. We now have our team back. As they say, the future lies ahead of us. And, I believe, the history is in the past. For the first time in 18 months I’m finally excited to watch this team. I know they are not good enough. But once we can get rid of Mustafa, then I can at least know that this team has the ability to entertain and has a personality. They work much harder and play a style of football that we have enjoyed for the last 20 years (or a large part of).

But clearly with Chambers injured, Tierney always injured and Holding and Bellerin very slowly recovering we are in desperate need of some additional defenders. The existence of Mustafa is the clearest evidence of that. But I trust that MA can see this.

I don’t expect miracles from this team. But I have seen enough of MA to know we are finally progressing. I trust this won’t be an Emery false-dawn. We will have many blips on this new road. Possibly starting at Chelski on Tuesday. And we should regret throwing away the two points today. We had weathered their storm. But we have yet to learn how to see out games. I’m sure MA will put it down to mental and physical tiredness. That’s part of the limited squad and multiple injuries.

And even if the unlikely happens and MA fails we can at least sleep at night knowing we don’t have DarthVader managing our team. Since the bleak one has turned up with that other lot, they have ever so slowly started to resemble his dire, defensive teams of the past. That lot are clearly in danger of missing out on the Champions League. And that can only lift our spirits and brighten our day. The financial pressure will be immense. And the pressure on DarthVader will increase. And then so will his destructive, manic outbursts. I am so looking forward to this. We could only hope it all ends in tears and financial ruin for them.

In the meantime, I will focus on us getting another 11 points so we can finally be a snug, safe mid-table team. Emery has knocked out any ambition I might have once harboured. Maybe it’s too soon to equate MA to Klopp. But Klopp took 4 years to get to this remarkable season. That Kraut is one of a kind. But MA has the opportunity to redefine this team and this club. He needs time. And, as long as we incrementally progress and as long as we can get rid of Mustafa, he’ll get it.

It’s good to be back. We have plenty of suffering ahead but at least we can now dream again. Today was by no means painless. Too many mistakes and too little creativity. But we can at least regain some optimism. Baby-steps for our babies in red.

– LB7

December 15th – Arsenal 0 Manchester City 3

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Dear Father Christmas, I’ve been such a good boy this year. I stopped picking my nose. I have stopped farting in public. And next year I promise to stop peeing in the street. I’ve been so good. So, pretty please, can I have a special Christmas present. Please Santa? Can I please have a proper manager? Can you get me Carlo? Even a temporary Carlo? Otherwise I’ll be crying into the next year.

Imagine, Arsenal managed to beat the rest of the country to Brexit. We didn’t need any votes; we just needed Emery and others to lead us into the desert.

Poor Freddie. What was he thinking? We are sinking quicker than the Labour party in England. We are like the titanic after we’ve hit the iceberg and have sunk. We are those remaining passengers in the life raft. And Freddie is the captain but with no oar.  All he can do is seemingly find the youngest players and put them into the team. If you’ve over 22 years of age then you’ll be consigned to the bench. Or worse. Freddies’ solution is to go young. Soon he’ll be playing embryo’s at left back.

Thank god for three points at West Ham. Today was always going to be a game too far. But with De Bruyne it was game over. That was about a complete a performance by an opposition player as I’ve ever seen at Arsenal (Highbury or otherwise). Both goals were brilliant. And if it were not for our spring-laden German goalie it would been a perfect hattrick.

It seems futile to go through the vacuous performances of each of the plyers. Aside from Leno and Martinelli there is nothing worthy of comment. Mistakes were all too evident. The midfield was a shambles and we barely wanted to move the ball forward.

Pep obviously decided to take his foot off the gas so as to not increase the pressure on Arsenal and thus hastened the departure of Arteta. But surely, after watching that performance Mikael, if he was sane and sensible, would want nothing to do with this club.  

You can’t blame the fans today. Even at the end, those remaining, were cheering for their club. This is what it must have looked like at Leeds or at Nottingham Forest or Aston Villa before they sank into oblivion. There is nothing but an empty shell left of this team. Freddie can’t fix it. Bring in Carlo and give him a chance. We need a proven manager with Premier League experience. We are in a relegation fight now. Forget Europe. Welcome Brexit. And now is not the time for the club to throw an inexperienced manager into the fray. I even catch myself wondering whether we should have, in fact, taken on Darth Vader. I feel like I’m losing my soul and my faith. To even consider that blasphemous idea speaks to the desperation of our plight.  

This is a club that is fucked. Up the Royal Arse. Now is not the time to go through a long and onerous interview process stretching out over many weeks. Now is the time when management should be implement a well thought out plan that they had in place before they fired Emery. Not, two or three weeks later, trying to figure out what to do next.

There are some players that should remain in our team. Most of the younger ones. But they need tactics and a sense of positioning. Guendouzi looks completely lost; he can’t be a defensive midfield player. Torreira was overrun as the one man defense. Maitland-Niles is not a full back. But then nor is Kolinsac. How sad was it to see poor Saka playing at left back. Our team was more reminiscent of one of our League Cup teams than a team to play last years Champions.

Not that there were any illusions that we might get anything from this game. But to not have learned anything yet, to have given away chances to them so easily. It’s a groundhog day nightmare. Even without the shinning brilliance of DeBruye, we weren’t even second best.  This team is broken and dysfunctional. No-one on the bench can resolve this. We need new management and we need it now. Not in another 3 weeks. Not after losing to Everton, Chelsea and Man United. That manager needs to come in now so they have a much time as possible. Let them observe the team during these critical games and start to figure out what needs to be done.

Would any intelligent, experienced manage want this job? Would you want to catch a falling knife?  The longer AFC fail to make a decision the harder it will be to bring in what we need. And we need Carlo. And we need him now. Before Chunukah and before Christmas. Before Everton. But, I can nearly promise, that AFC won’t pull the trigger. Instead they will spout the usual bullshit that they have an (imaginary) plan in place. Assuming that is that anyone from AFC makes themselves available to talk to the media. Rather they’ll leave Freddie to be the focus of all the questions. At some point the management of this club have to stand up and take responsibility – and he held accountable. They have to speak to the fans and provide some answers.

There is no backbone in this team. Next week, against Everton, it will be a six pointer. Two fallen teams searching for points and a manager. The only two teams never to have been relegated from the top division, both playing for their lives. And you can be sure – with madman Ferguson in charge – they will be up for it. Will Arsenal? Not if Ozil is playing. He’s talented and all that but not someone you want in this situation. It would be like bringing a Picasso along to a gunfight. Freddie can talk about confidence (or the lack thereof) but now is the time for backbone and fight. We need to eek our points. I doubt Freddie has ever been in this situation. Neither has this club. But now it’s time to accept Brexit and focus on survival. Maybe we need Allardyce or Pullis as a manager. That’s what a shambles we now have. We need someone to just stop the bleeding. I hope we don’t live to regret passing on Darth Vader.

Expect radio silence from the club and more desperation from the fans. I don’t understand what I witnessed today. When they had the ball all they had was empty spaces in front of them but when we had the ball there was a log jam of their players. We had minimal urgency and an interest in passing backwards only. I fear those 9 minutes at West Ham might have been the last burst of creativity for a long time. For sure Everton will work us off the park next week. This team has lost its heart. It’s lost it’s manager and now it’s in danger of losing it’s Permier League status.

So pretty please, kind, nice Father Christmas, please give me a manager – preferably Carlo – for my birthday, for my Christmas and for my sanity.

-LB7

December 1st – Norwich 2 Arsenal 2

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Lucky Arsenal. Jammy Arsenal. Another come from behind draw. Another 2 goals let in. Another 2 points dropped against the worst teams in the Premier league.

Freddie what are you doing? I thought we were done with Mustafi and Xhaka. It’s back to our failed past. No Torreira. No Holding. No Bellerin. And, of course, no defense. We are incapable of defending. We can’t put in tackles and can’t close players down.

It’s only one game but based on 90 minutes it cries out for a real manager with real organizational skills to come in. Go and kidnap Ancelotti now. Because if Freddie starts with this line-up and then brings on Saka and Martinelli before Pepe we’re in deeper shit than I realized. We’ve made progress with the removal of Emery. We had more energy today. If we had the Cigarette that played last week we’d have won this game. As brilliant as he was this week he was awful today. He passed when he should have shot. In fact, I don’t think he had a shot today. I’d have moved Aubameyang into the central position and pushed Cigarette our wide. Ozil was very quiet; Wilock was marginal. The movement of the ball was a little quicker but Cigarette missed our chances and both goals came from dead ball situations. Our creativity is still lacking but our defense is beyond woeful. Of course Mustafi was a disaster but so was everyone around him. David Luis backs off players and does not play offside. And neither will close down the player on the ball.

Leno was our best players today. Him and VAR. I’d be aggrieved if that penalty was against my team and then retaken. And beyond looking dangerous at corners we barely threatened their keeper. We dominated the first half but as soon as we scored our second equalizer we handed control of the game back to them. We gave the ball away and could not win any challenges. Guendouzi was weak today. He lost the ball and lost challenges. Xhaka, aside from the fact he can’t defend, was reasonable. But all too often both of these two are chasing back with the play ahead of them. This exposes our defenders and we know what that means.

We need organization. Freddie only had 48 hours. But we have to judge him on the team selection. And it was abysmal. Has he not been watching this year? Why would you select Mustafi? Even at the end of the game he slipped over to enable them to create one more chance that Torreira managed to block. It felt just like playing Southampton. On the break we looked as disorganized and vulnerable as ever. Someone, somewhere is surely capable of shaping this group of players into a team. It can’t be that hard. Surely.

For the first time in 9 months I’d been excited about an Arsenal game. Nervous and expectant. Until I saw the team selection. This should have been a relaunch. Instead it reaffirmed that the club need to look outside for a proven manager. It demonstrated that we need a fresh pair of eyes. Real change. Today made me less inclined to Arteta and more disposed to the Italian A’s.

There is talent in this squad but no organization. No notion of how to defend. We are fooling ourselves if we are thinking about Europe next year. We can’t even beat the worst three teams in our league. In each instance we’ve drawn them. Our point accumulation is at the rate of a relegation team. Once we start losing games to real teams then we’ll realize that we are delusional. Today we gave the ball away in our back 1/3rd of the field too much. As the game wore on we lost the ability to retain the ball. We let Norwich dominate us. That’s right. Fucking Norwich.  All season it’s been the same thing – no balance and no defense. And Freddie had a chance today to correct that. We had Brighton up next. Will his selection change? I fear it won’t. I was so optimistic today but feel now that we’re still continuing our journey in a dark tunnel and that light at the end has turned out to be an oncoming train.

Before we know it we will have to play ManCIty, Chelski and ManU. With the display like today, we are fucked. Sure there was more energy. But that was it. We need senior management to bring in a real manager. Make real change. If they have a plan that would be reassuring. But my money is on us stumbling along for a few more weeks. If Freddie continues to structure the team as he did today the results will remain the same and the pressure will build. If he, by some miracle, concludes that no Arsenal team should contain Mustafi and we put Torreira at the base of the midfield, we’ll gain some points but only paper over the lack to organization.

So, for Christmas, please give me a real manager. A grown up who’s done this job before. Someone who knows this league and has a track record of success. There are a few but we can’t wait until the end of the season. Because by then the fans would have turned on Freddie and we’ll be flirting with relegation. I know this sounds melodramatic. But this team is now officially dysfunctional. You can’t draw against a team like Norwich and conclude anything other than that. Sure we moved the ball a little quicker. We were a little more incisive. But until we understand how to defend, how not to be continuously exposed on the break. Until we understand how teams counter-attack, we will never score enough goals to overcome our porous defense. And that’s even with Leno in goal. The fact that he was our best player today speaks volumes.

The only good news is that we don’t have listen to Unai destroy the English language. But if this is the first day of the rest of our lives, I’d still like another life. We were lucky to come away with a point today. A penalty and a corner compared to numerous Norwich chances where everyone of our players backed-off. No-one can close down the player on the ball. And then, even when we got the ball back, we did not know how to control the game. Yes, it was marginally better than the performance against Southampton and Eintracht. But that’s no measure of where this club should be. All these teams are shit. But, unfortunately, I think we’ve demonstrated over the last couple of months that we are officially shit.

-LB7

Nov 30th – Emery’s Emirates Exit

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And about time too. Now we can move forward. Though it might be two steps back before 3 steps forward. But finally some movement. After watching the Eintracht game it was inevitable. If there was not sufficient evidence during the Southampton game – let along the last 6 months – this game just about took the biscuit. That second half performance was as insipid and lethargic as anything I’ve ever seen from Arsenal. And that covers the gloomy days of Terry Neil and the tedious game of the mid-80s. In the decades I’ve had the pleasure of suffering through Arsenal this was as dreary and diabolical as I could have imagined. Why we need to wait post Leicester is beyond me. We’ve wasted yet more time with Mr. Bean managing our club. But at least we know what it’s like to have a zombie as coach; someone devoid of personality, someone devoid of decisiveness.

Finally someone in Arsenal put Emery out of his misery. I’m sure he’ll go back to some league 2 team in Spain and build a nice team. Managing in the EPL is just different. For talented managers – of which there are only a few – it’s a great platform but for most others it will break them. We unfortunately picked from the latter group. I was OK with the original decision but it became apparent earlier this calendar year that all was not well. He should have been shown the door at least a month ago. However, if the rumours are true we should be grateful he wasn’t otherwise we’d have ended up with Darth Vader. I’m more than happy for him to reside at the other side of North London. They will enjoy some short term improvement – maybe it will get them into the Champions League next year (though we have to pray for Lampard to fix his team and for Brendon to stay). But we all know how it will go up in smoke in 18 months to 24 months. And even if turns out that he has finally changed his pathologically, narcissistic behavior, there are no circumstances under which he could be allowed to manage our club.

Which leaves us with Freddie. As a legend he’ll start with tremendous goodwill. But do we want him turning into our OSG?  If we goes on a good run – which we can only dream for – others will clamor for him to get a permanent appointment. Yet, the probability is he’ll suffer because this teams issues can’t be solved just by a change in manager. It needs a rebuild – that’s what Emery was supposed to oversee. And Freddie can’t do that in 48 hours.

So why are we in this situation and why was there not a plan in place? If you look across the road they announced their replacement in 12 hours. That’s how you should do it. Albeit not with that appointee. Why did they not have someone lined up? Is the person unavailable? Do we need Freddie for the rest of the year? It would seem as though our management was caught off guard. If they were talking to Darth Vader then surely they were talking to others as well. They had a week since he landed somewhere else? Allegri is available now. Would he help us? I’m not sure that style will work. Ancelotti is familiar with the EPL and could soon be free. Then there’s’ Brendon, Nuno, Arteta and Viera. All these are interesting alternatives. But we, as a club, should already know what we want. And we should move.

The timing is not important because it could help us qualify for the Champions League – that ship has sailed. It’s to make sure our players know that we are committed to being successful. We can’t really blame Silent Stan and his little DNA. They put football people in charge. It’s their decision and their responsibility. They should have a plan in place to get us the best available manager. For me that’s Nuno. Wolves is a club steeped in history form the 1950’s but is no place for a real manager. Likewise Leicester. Both of these clubs reside in the region known as the black country; and no-one really wants to be there. I’m nervous of the ego associated with Brendon but he did a great job at Swansea and, aside from his Hollywood turn at Liverpool, did another great join in the wastelands of Scotland. I’m not sure he’d want to leave a team destined for the Champions League next year for a re-build with us.

An alternative view would be to put us in the safe hands of Ancelotti to stabilize us for the next 18 months and then hand it over to Arteta or, on the off chance Nice takes-off – Viera. But whichever way we move I can’t see how it can or should be Freddie. It’s a path ManU have got stuck going down and one we don’t need.

For the first time this season I will be nervous for the match. I will watch with expectations. I will expect a real energy level and commitment. I’ll also hope we have a defensive midfield of Torreira and Guendouzi. And I hope Sokratis is on the bench. But I won’t expect miracles. But I will care. Now that we will have some leadership we should see some improvement. But until we get a real manager we should not expect too much from Freddie. Even for tomorrow we should accept that even when we drop more points, we’re finally restarting our season. We’ve wasted 18 months on the wrong manager but the squad is still better than it’s been. Let’s just hope that the football brain trust at Arsenal is now doing the work they should have done in the last 3 months to identify and bring in the manager we need.

Strap on we’re on for a bumpy ride.

– LB7

November 23rd – Arsenal 2 Southampton 2

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Abject Arsenal can’t even beat a shit Southampton. And Southampton should have won. They had more clear chances and should have been 3 or 4 up before Cigarette equalized.

Where to start with such a shit game. It’s barely worth watching these days. The inability to gel as a team is so clear. You’d have to be a blind man or Unai Emery not to see it. There is so much wrong with this team – not the group of players – it’s hard to know where to start.

As ever the formation – starting at home against the worst team in the league with a back three. How ambitious is that? From the start Southampton closed us down with more energy and desire. We barely built from the back and then at snails pace. By the time the ball got the half way line everyone was asleep. This team mirrors the energy and outlook of our manager – devoid of ideas and fast asleep.

It’s been evident for months now. We had the chance post Leicester to take the initiative and dump this failed manager. Instead we let the other north London team show how to move forward. They actually had a great manager but still fired him. We have a shit one but decide to retain him. They got to the Champions League final and lost because of a tough penalty call. They fired their manager. We struggled into the Europa League final and were catatonic . Yet we the club that retains our manager.

Today demonstrated again that this team does not respond to him. We struggled the entire game. If we wanted culprits we had Sokratis and Atwell. This was, by far, the most indecisive performance by Sokratis today. Will he be held accountable? Will Holding start the next game. Of course not. He tried to hand them multiple goals. His distribution was awful and he lingered on the ball in all the wrong areas.

I felt sorry for Tierney today. In the first half all the attacking creativity came down his side. Contrast that with the other side – Bellerin was awful today. His touch was crap and his contributions were non-existent. Our right hand side was unused for the first half and most of the second. Yet Tierney gave up a penalty. Even with VAR focusing on the potential offside that was as slight a penalty as you could hope for. Not enough to overturn on VAR. But Atwell was a cunt the entire game. He allowed Southampton to waste time as soon as they scored. He then awarded free-kicks for the slighted infractions. I still have the sound of his whistle rattling in my head. It was non-stop. And the spate of yellow cards – most of which were trivial – were inconsistent. But this all helped to disrupt the flow of the game. Yes we are shit but there’s not reason for him to impact the flow of the game so much nor to so randomly give or not give free kicks.

It’s hard to get to upset because this is all so predictable. It inevitably ends up with Emery gone. It’s so obvious. A blind man can see this. There are complicated things in this world. What is dark matter? How do you control climate change? Why is nationalism on the rise? But, as for who should manage Arsenal I think we all know it should not be Emery. So we have to consign this season to the dustbin? We have to wade through the another 60% of the season watching this? Why waste time? I know the club don’t want to be seen as a hire and fire club. But when it’s so clearly wrong why waste time? Show leadership and admit it did not work out. We are now a middle table team. An average team. I can remember when this team was mid-table. Go back to the ‘70s and ‘80s if you want to see average. But that was not on the manager. That was the team – the lack of ability and class. That’s not the case here. This group of players is better than last year. Emery has found a way to get less out of more. Just the opposite of what we were looking for.

I bet some fans are wondering whether it would have been better to not have scored the equalizer. Would we have been better off if we’d have lost. Would this have placed more pressure on Emery and Arsenal and hastened his departure. That is not, unfortunately, an irrational idea. As a life long fan I wonder whether – for our long-term good – we’d be better off losing our forthcoming games in order to assure ourselves of the departure of this goat. If the club thought that Wenger had lost the supporters and the players how can they not conclude the same with Emery?

On balance though I still want us to win. I don’t want a string of losses to drive out Emery. I want the club to see what’s happening (or not happening) on the pitch and that they step forward, take responsibility and fire him before we lose more games and drop more points. How bad do our performances have to be? How many points do we have to drop before they realize what we already know. That Emery must go.

What does Emery have to do to get fired? If not draw at home to Southampton and Crystal Palace, lose at Leicester. When did we last win a game? And what signs of progress and development is there? None. Is Emery our Trump? Neither can get pinned down for any responsibility while chaos surrounds them. In the latter case we’ll have to wait till next November. But for the former, this November should be sufficient. Emery will take more games to waste the talent in front of him.

Cigarette scored two crucial goals today. He saved Emery. And, aside from the ridiculous yellow card he was given, was excellent today. He was our best player. It’s so good to finally see him back in form rid of his prior injuries. He worked so hard the entire game and literally saved Emery today.

Torreira, though he gave the ball away, was improved today. But there is not clear relationship with Guendouzi. Often they got in each others way or Guendouzi was too far away from Torreira. And neither came to pick up the ball from our back three.

Pepe did make a difference when we came on. He blew one clear opportunity when he should have taken the responsibility rather than tried to pass to Ozil. That’s what happens when your confidence is low. And then he hit the bar later on.

Wilcock saved this game for us with his goal line clearance. And saved Emery. How Southampton did not score before we equalized shows that there is someone up there that does not like Arsenal. Those misses saved Emery.

How bad are we. With 5 minutes left in added time, we can’t even play the ball out of defense. Sokratis is passing the ball backwards and sideways. No-one is demanding the ball or driving forward. Everyone’s head is down. It’s only by good fortunate the ball ends up headed out to Martinelli before Cigarette controls with one foot and scores with the other.

No-one celebrates. Not the players. Not the fans. Because we all know we’re shit. And Emery is lucky. So now we have to sit around and suffer through more meanderings from our incoherent manager. Watch more games where our defense will get torn apart. Drop more points and wait for the hammer to drop on Emery. It’s so inevitable it’s boring. It’s even hard to get too upset – though I seem to be doing a good job.

This is the most obvious case of an underperforming team with an unsuitable manager I’ve seen since Sherwood was at Aston Villa and Sp*rs. Maybe I can find a tranquilizer to put me out for the next 4 or 5 games. It’s too tedious to watch this team.  To watch the abject waste of talent. And to watch our manager prowl the touchline with no clue of how to solve the problems he can created. Maybe he can bring back Xhaka. Maybe we need Mustafi. Can we buy back Iwobi? Because that limited progress is being wasted. The Green Party should be up in arms at the waste of resources at Arsenal.  Even at its worst under Wenger – even at the end – we were never this poor. Never this lost. Never this directionless. So again, I ask, what will it take for the club to rescue this team. You can’t ask Emery to fire himself – he would miss anyway. It was a good idea that just has not worked out. What’s their plan B (or C)? Do they have one. They invested a lot of money (though not on a net basis) this summer. How can they accept such a witless, idealess, ponderous, turgid, inept performance such as this – at home – against one of the worst teams in the league. A team to whom, in all honesty, we deserved to lose to? If not now when?  

-LB7