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October 25th – Arsenal 0 Leicester City 1

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Awful Arsenal. It does get much crappier than this. We were awful awful awful. No ideas. No creativity. Arteta was awful. So were half the team. Ceballos barely touched the ball. Cigarette was awful. Bellerin was awful.

And our midfield was awful. No-one created anything. There was no creativity. No passion. No urgency. No ideas.

So depressing. This was an Emery like game. This was so worrying. For the first time in a year I felt like we had no clue. There was no idea here. No identify. The balance was awful. Celballos barely touched the ball. The only activity we had was on the left hand side.

It was sad and dispiriting. The passing was too slow. And it was all sideways. Their goalkeeper had but one save to make. We had nothing. It was all so boring and lacking in imagination.

And Arteta did not change it. You could see from a mile away that we had nothing today. Again, the midfield was non-existence. Pushing Ceballos off to the right did not work. Xhaka passed backwards. The only chances we created in the first half was from David Luiz.

And once he went off we created nothing. Nothing.

We are an average team with average players. We don’t nee Aubameyang. We can’t get him the ball. Why play Cigaratte when he’s like this. He was awful. Everything he did was wrong. His touch. His passing and lack of goals. He had nothing.

This was as bad a performance by the whole team as I can remember. We put them under no pressure. We did not even look like threatening for a goal. There was no drive.

I give up.

Fuck them all.

I had to watch 90 minutes of boring sideways passing. It was all Gabriel and Luiz passing. We never once played through their lines.

Which begs the question – what is Arteta playing at? Losing to Man City – albeit a crap ManCity – away is one thing. But playing like this against a depleted Leicester team is desperate. We were at home. And we created nothing. Nothing.

Sure, we scored in the first 5 minutes from a corner. It should not have been cancelled out. That was a bullshit call. OK, VAR sucks. We know that. And the ref was a wanker all game long. Giving stupid fouls against us all game long. But that’s not the reason we lost. We lost because we were monumentally shit.

We lacked spirit, energy and, most importantly, ideas. Their substitutes won them the game. Ours – Mustafi, forgot to cover Vardy. Xhaka lost his man. They played a forward pass to one of their own players – that’s a very novel concept. Shame we did not try that. They played within their shell. But once they decided to play they were much better than us. Aside from the monotonous sideways passing through to Pepe not being present even when he came on the pitch. Our most expensive signing comes one when we’re 1-0 down and is unable to contribute a single thing. Sure, against Sheffield United he saved us. But today he was as ineffectual as Cigarette. Next game please don’t play him. Put Aubemeyang in the middle. Play Saka again – he at least moves the ball forward. Tierney was fine today. He put in two crosses that neither Aubemeyang nor Cigarette could even get on target.

Today was the day we might just have realized – I might just have realized – how shit we are as a team. It seems that once we solve our defensive shape we lose all creativity. Except we did not keep a clean sheet. Arteta now has some serious work to do. He has some serious thinking to do about this team and his approach. Did he over complicate it today? Did he just get his tactics wrong. But what I don’t get was where was our fight? Why was there no reaction? Where is the leadership on this team. Maybe we have to wait another year or so before we can replace Xhaka, Mustafi, Cigarette, Bellerin and Pepe.

Also, note that we missed Luiz when he went off. And we were more vulnerable when Mustafi came on. We are missing Holding as well.

I never thought we’d win the league. But today we looked like a very solid, serious mid-table team. And it was so so fucking boring to watch. Tedious and dull. It’s not like we peppered their goal and had real chances. We were pedestrian and predictable. And boring.

Boring boring Arsenal. Two game in a row two 1-0 losses. No goals. And before that losing against Liverpool. We can’t play against good teams.

I’m so bored I can’t be fucked to diagnose this fiasco of a game. And next up we play away at Man United. And what team turns up there? Playing against a crap Man United team? And what accountability is there for performances? Does Cigarette start? I hope not. Who plays alongside Gabriel? I fear it will have to be Mustafi. This next game will show us what Arteta is about.  

-LB7

October 17th – Man City 1 Arsenal 0

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The handbrake was definitely on. It seemed like we were too afraid to win. Too afraid of Man City. Too afraid.

Waiting two weeks and then sitting through that was enough to send me back to a deep slumber.

Of course, we are still way ahead of the low bar set by the previous accountant. Organizationally, we were well defined. We defended solidly. I really like Gabriel. David Luiz had a quite game on the right side and Tesco Tierney was challenged by Mahrez but handled him fairly well.

But we lacked any real creativity spark. Just the edge that the missing Ozil would have provided. It’s not clear that Willian contributed anything. Maybe that’s the job of the highest paid free agent. To remind us that Ozil can create. Because aside from a few forward passes from Zhaka and Ceballos we reverted to square and backwards passing. Even when we seemed to be about to counter-attack we quickly would withdraw into our conservative defensive shell. We were so respectful and fearful of them that we were incapable of putting them under sustained pressure. There were moments in the first half – both involving the wonderful Saka – but we lacked spark.

Two Pepe-like teams nullifying each other. Man City could have torn us apart if they had DeBruyne. Fortunately, they only had a half fit Aguerro. They started like a house on fire. But then once they took the lead they also started to play with the handbrake on. Sterling was tearing apart our defense.  Bellerin was positionally having a hard time. We devolved into the team that ground it out in the F. A. Cup. The progress of the last month or so seemed to evaporate under pressure. Even if we did stay well organized. David Luiz slotted in quite well; made no mistakes. We continued to force the play out from our defense. There were a few occasions when it worked. But too often there were limited options for the person on the ball. Neither Xhaka or Ceballos could receive the ball. Hence, we had little creativity.

There was a predictable, slow, methodical and tedious nature to our possession. Possession for the sake of it; possession without purpose. We barely created anything for Aubameyang. Pepe rarely received the ball. And, well, then there’s Willian. I don’t get what he was doing today. He was so poor that it made Pepe look good. To be fair Pepe worked much harder than previous games. But Willian looked lost. Cigarette must have been pissed to have been extinguished. I guess Arteta was thinking that Willian would pose a different sort of challenge. A more mobile, skillful player that dropped off and linked up play. Unfortunately, instead he looked lost and was irrelevant.

I felt for Xhaka today. He worked so hard. Chasing their players all round the pitch. Ceballos played deeper and had limited touches. The few times each of them managed to play the ball forward, they cut through the City defense. I have to think Arteta will look back at this game and realize he set the team up wrong. Willian was a mistake. And, though we were clearly worried about the City counter-attack, we barely threatened their vulnerable defense. We showed them too much respect. We were not aggressive enough. Even in those last twenty minutes we did not push or create enough. Finding that right balance is the elusive next step for Arteta.

I believe in Arteta, but today was not his best day. He will learn and adjust. I like that he would have started Holding. I like Gabriel. Tesco-boy is a player for the ages. Saka is a star. Today, with little support, he created two chances and demonstrated composure and skill. He is the player Pepe would love to be. In a few years he will be the mainstay of the crappy England team.

We did not seem desperate to win today. We seemed desperate not to get hammered. Others will go to City and will win. I can see Wolves and Everton taking the game to City. We refused to do that. Arteta needed to be braver.

Party got a few minutes and a yellow card. Nowhere near enough time to make any type of judgement. But it’s not clear why, for this game, he was brought on. Maybe it was to allow Ceballos to move further up field. But even then, little was created. I can’t remember Ederson making a real save in the 2nd half and especially not in the last 20 minutes. As they say, you can’t score if you don’t shoot (or head or…)

So, that was a disappointing performance. Underwhelming. It’s not the end of the world yet (that happens on November 3rd). It just reminds us how far we have to go. Arteta has had just one transfer window. He focused, rightly, on our defensive frailties. Gabriel and, now, Party have helped address that. But, we need another window or two to replenish our creative side. We need to be able to find that balance that has been missing for so long. Under Wenger, in his 2nd decade, it was all attacking play with no defense. Under the Emery it was all nothing; no defense, no personality and no attacking play. Now we have a defensive platform. It’s not perfect – it won’t ever be with Bellerin and he’s lack of positional awareness. He allowed Fodan too much room today. But, going forward Bellerin was better today. But the strength we have on the left is not matched on the right. Pepe was better today so let’s see how he evolves.

But having to sit thorugh the dull international break to come back to that is deflating. Luckily the games will come thick and fast now. There will be plenty more twists and turns. But as long as we have Arteta then I believe we will evolve and develop. And hopefully we’ll learn to be braver. We’ll learn to have more confidence in ourselves. Today was a day when we could have nipped a point if we had more self-belief.

A word on VAR. Bollocks. Luckily our game was VAR-less. But it really is a complete and utter travesty. There is no reasonable universe in which the Henderson goal can be ruled out for off-side. It’s a joke. A bad one indeed. Some knob sitting in a room hundreds on miles away gets out a ruler to measure a hairs-breath separation of a few atoms and electrons and decides that the arm-pit hair of one players is beyond the extended penis of another player.  Even if the body-part was two electrons closer to the goal, it was the arm – which I thought was not included as it has to be a part of the body that can be used to score a goal. Either way, VAR ruined the game. How they could not use it for dangerous play when Pickford clattered into Van Dyk is insulting. Where was the knob in the room then? This is the other problem with VAR. There is no accountability. No-one knows who this knob is. They don’t have to withstand the fans (I know – they will return), players, management, owners and the media. They work in silence accountable to who knows who. This system can’t work without transparency and accountability. It’s not the fault of the technology. It’s the fault of the referees and the EPL; they need to fix this. It was awful last year. And we know it needs time to get it right but this was embarrassing. Not in a million years would any fan (accept an Everton one) think that was off-side. What a fucking joke.

-LB7

September 28th – Liverpool 3 Arsenal 1

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And I had thought we’d go through the season undefeated. How can we lose to such a lowly team as Liverpool? Devastating loss to a team in turmoil. If you can’t beat Liverpool at Anfield what chance is there for this club?

What did you expect? The players we have are not that different from those from last year. We started with Elneny and Xhaka in midfield. And yet, we stayed in this game for longer than I’d imagine. We kept the shape and the system in place for most of the game. Compared to prior years and the capitulation we’ve seen for so many years, this was, yet again, real progress. There are signs that we have a backbone.

This Liverpool team will murder so many teams this year. They are really quite impressive. There are very few weaknesses in that team. And yet, we could have drawn level if Cigarette would have lite up the net rather than bounce it off Allison. Of course, if Liverpool had taken all their chances they would have been well out of sight by then.

They are relentless, aggressive and talented. And we’re not. But then, 3 or 4 years ago they weren’t either. We can’t expect to be at their level. Not with some of the players we have. Arteta seems to have improved each player in the starting eleven perform better. That’s all he can do. But we need strengthening. Not in order to beat Liverpool but just in order to bolster this team. We need more competition in midfield. We need more creativity and we also need more defensive resolve. Declan Rice would be a nice fit 

Who would have predicted 2 months ago (or any time in the last three years) that Elneny would start at Anfield today. Not that he was too shabby and it’s not his fault we lost today. But it tells you something about the available talent as our disposal. Xhaka was pretty quiet today and maybe that’s because he was working so hard to defend. His forward pass that split their midfield helped create our goal. But thereafter, he was not able to contribute too much.

Maitland-Niles was just so hard-working again. He plays three positions simultaneously – a defensive wing-back, third full-back and attacking winger. Another impressive performance from him. He worked so hard to shut down Alexander-Arnold and nullify – as best anyone can – that threat. To think we might have sold him already. Give him another season to mature and develop a little more composure and he will become part of the backbone of this team.

Holding had his hands full with Mane; since leaving Southampton he has developed into a world class striker. He tormented Holding but Holding did really well against him. Holdings problem came with his poor distribution. But that’s usually because there were not sufficient options from his own players ahead of him. Elney and Xhaka rarely picked up the ball off the defense today. And that was dues to the relentless pressing we were under. There are very few teams as forceful and domineering as Liverpool – thankfully.

Willian was invisible today. A poor contribution but still superior than Pepe. For that second goal Willian should have been tracking back to mark Robertson. Though Bellerin was dragged into the middle too often for crosses, Willian should have done better. After that goal, Willian then did track back to defend another overlap. So maybe the lesson was learned.

Bellerin still suffers from position lapses; it’s a judgement issue with him. It’s not experience (or lack of) because he’s been around for long-enough. But then others – Luiz – suffer from this as well. He, in a homage to Mustafa, always attacked the play and is attracted to the ball. That’s what caused their first goal. He and Xhaka both fouled their players and got pulled out of position. Then Tierney got beaten on the inside. Today was not one of his best games for us. But then, again, the standard of the opposition will do that to you. I suspect we left Gabriel on the bench today because Arteta wanted Luiz’s distribution from the back to challenge the high-line of Liverpool. A number of his passes created some fear in their backline. Once with MN and then a few more with Willian. Unfortunately not too many for Aubameyang.

Aubameyang was very quiet today. He barely touched the ball. Most of his energy was spent chasing down their defenders and closing down their space. It’s not his fault. Only when Ceballos came on did we have some creative spark. That’s the reason why we need players in midfield with more diversity to their game. Who would have bet that it would be Xhaka to come off before Elneny? A fair decision based on performance but telling nonetheless. And, when they happened, we looked both sharper, more creative and yet more vulnerable to their counter-attack.

Pepe replacing Willian exposed both Bellerin and Holding. I’m really not sure this guy is ever going to make it in this league. As skillful as he is I doubt that he is physically tough enough (or mentally). Yes  he’s young so time is on his side but he’s been with us for a year now and I don’t see too much evolution. This game is much more physical than that in the French league. Against teams that give him space and sit back he’ll look excellent – against Crystal Palace or Newcastle. But against the better teams I doubt he’ll be able to contribute. That’s where we need Willian or an energized Nelson.

Overall, it’s hard to be too negative today. This is an impressive Liverpool team. We are clearly a work in progress. Arteta, yet again, deployed the right system, the right tactics thus allowing us to be competitive. Go back just a year and we would (if fact, were) demolished. This team is moving in the right direction. When you see the missteps (and luck) of a Chelsea and ManUnited, then there is an outside chance of the top four. But for that we need reinforcements. The defense if starting to take shape. Gabriel looks like a backbone addition to our team. We have enough center-halfs now. But, again, who would have predicted we could field such an organized and structure team without Guendouzi, Torreira and (even) Ozil? Three players who were central to the Emery (failed) era. We need to move them on so Arteta can restructure and continue the rebuild. As I’ve mentioned a number of times, he need 2+ transfer windows. He needs that balance of world-class players alongside our Hale End kids. He needs to maximize the opportunities for Aubameyang but having quality players unlock opposition defenses. Otherwise there was no point in re-signing our captain.

I remain relentlessly optimistic about this team now. Even though we lost, I have yet more belief in this manager and therefore this team. Even his after-match interview was reminiscent of the old days of Wenger. He was calm, rationale and realistic about the entire performance. He clearly understands our weaknesses and where we need to improve. We just need to give him the time and the players in order to do this.

I do wonder whether the lack of fans is helping Arteta. It removes the pressure from the players while they are having to make so many adjustments. And it allows him to instruct them from the sidelines without being drowned out by the noise. At this stage of both his career and at this stage of the team, that’s invaluable. And for the younger, less experienced players it allows them to play with less fear.

So, one more trip to Liverpool for the stupid Cup. I’ll watch it but really don’t care. Sunday versus Sheffield United is more compelling. This will be a chance to see whether we can create and dominate. Today was about defending and counter-attacking. Sunday will be completely different. It will be another opportunity to see some incremental progress. And that makes us worth watching again.

-LB7

September 19th – Arsenal 2 West Ham United 1

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And he’s back. By popular demand. Welcome to the new world order. Welcome to the new season. A few weeks after the last one. Welcome to Artetas world. Arteta knows best. On F. A. Cup later; nearly a year removed from the accountant. Arsenal have a team. A style. And some points.

Though we weren’t as lucky as we were when we beat this lot 1-0 last season, we certainty should consider our selves fortunate. But 2 wins in two games. Not too shabby that. One Community Shield (which ranks even lower than the NoHoppa Cup) and the prized F. A. Cup.

So, its’ good-bye Emil. And please take Kolinsac with you on the way out please. How depressing to see him starting. Let’s hope Tesco-boy makes a rapid recovery. That it’s the same hip injury that he had at Celtic is worrying. We need him back. We can’t afford for him to be injury prone. We need for Kolinsac to return to the Bundesleague. Post his give-away against Sp*rs, I’d hope we’d seen the last of him. He is a disgrace, a disaster, a dumb, defensively demented dreadful defender. Let’s give him away. I’d pay to ship him. I’d buy his ticket (one-way, coach only – no luggage and no prebooked seat, preferably using the middle seat in the back-row right by the toilets with no inclining chair). So Kieran, please come back quickly. Before Oct 5th. We can’t get in the way of this transfer.

On the other side I’d snap off any hand that offered in excess of £25 for Hector. Sure we should give him time to receive from his ACL. He’s one of more interesting personalities with many thought out perspectives and opinions. But on the pitch I’m not sure he’ll ever develop that much more. With Holding playing behind him it’s not surprising that both last week and this week, our creative play happens down the left.

And Holding, another lovable player, does not seem like he has the pace to be part of our long term defensive needs. We need him this year. Just until the new French kid learns to tie his own shoe-laces and is allowed out at night (unaccompanied).

That just leaves our new Brazilian. Two games in and you have to think we’ve caught a good one. Assured and technical with just a touch of physicality, Gabriel could be part of our defense for many years. Dare I say he has a Koscielny like presence about him. He could be our own Van Gabriel. And he’s young. He is certainly no Sokratis nor the much missed Mustafa. This one is a keeper (well, a center-half actually).

Next week the real opposition turn up. We will have to revert to our F. A. Cup winning strategy. Everyone behind the ball, hunker-down and wait for the counter-attack. And by then, hopefully, we’d have consigned Kolinsac to the road-side pickup. TO be placed is some smelly, dumpster.

I’m also wondering whether Pepe might be headed in the same direction. Willian was not as involved today – it’s hard when you’re playing in front of Hector. But he’s still superior to Pepe. Even when he came on for 15 minutes, he still failed to get past WHU full-backs. He still looks all flair and no substance. A luxury player who will score third goal in a 3-0 victory but never the goal to turn a loss into a draw or a draw into a win. Unlike young Eddie. Hard working and purely opportunistic. Less gifted but more effective. Right place at the right time. Our own little fox-in-the-box. Remember that obsession over a decade or so ago? Only took us 20 years to replace Franny Jeffers. But Eddie is not as ugly and way more effective.

That’s two goals on the bounce for Cigarette. Someone has lite him up in front of goal. But, overall, I thought his contribution was pretty weak today. Too often he under hit his passes or failed to take the chances he was presented with. Not that they were clear cut but each time he’s need one too many touches. But he scored so, thank you nonetheless.     

It’s was good to see Saka back on the left. He is a bright spark and clearly part of our long-term solution. WHU did an effective job in closing down his space today but he still worked hard, defended well and attempted to create. Overall, our creative play was too slow and too square. Both goals involved Saka. The few times we played vertical not horizontal. It’s no coincidence both goals involved him and came down the left.

Xhaka was not at his best today. Too many errant passes. Too many times nearly getting caught in possession. Against a better team that will be punished. But, thankfully, it was only West Ham. Ceballos and he did not create enough and should have increased the tempo of the game. But, again, Ceballos, was involved in the winning goal. He works so much harder than he did under our prior Accountant.

Two wins now, two more than this time last year. And we have a shape, a set of tactics. And, more importantly, a manager. Not a coach. But a manager. We lost Raul. We lost Ivan. And we lost our accountant. But we gained a manager. We find the soul of our club. We finally had a direction. A purpose. Something to believe in. And a trophy. Someone we managed to dodge abject failure last season. Qualifying for Europe was a minor miracle. And given what we were like up to November, thoroughly undeserved. But it was a live-saver. It meant we could keep our talisman, our leader and the future golden boot winner, Aubameyang. I remember when we signed him, scratching my head wondering why we needed another striker when we already had Cigarette. But after more or less singlehandedly winning the semi-final and then final in addition to his countless goals, it’s clear it was mandatory that we could keep him. No more Van Persie departures of a captain. And, again, step forward MA to accept the plaudits for that.

This is all part of the resurrection of Arsenal. The rebuild is well in hand. This year won’t take us to the promised land. But within a couple of more transfer windows we will be there; back competing for the premiership with Man City and Crystal Palace; world beating Crystal Palace! Arteta needs time. It’s a wonder what he’s achieved with so little. That midfield needs a rework though. A box to box midfielder. Some more creativity. And a real defensive midfield player. Ideally all wrapped up in one player.

Torreira seems headed for the exit. I always enjoyed watching him play. Emery killed this guy. Confidence is fragile. And for a period, he was that dominant defensive midfield player. Our little Kante. Until Emery bore him to death with his numbers and spreadsheets. And know, with the more technical approach of MA, he’s not going to cut it. The few times he played, his link-up play and distribution were exposed. But I also felt he was trying too hard. He’d lost his way, his confidence and therefore dashed around too much and was a little out of sorts. He needs a stable, consistent run in a team to rediscover his ability. He’s just not going to get that at Arsenal. And we could do with some filthy luca – we need the money.

I am an optimist by nature. Or just simple in the head. Maybe the latter is a requirement for the former. Either way, I’m am optimistic about our future. Whereas under the accountant I was always looking for signs of progress and development, some indication we were moving in the right direction. Under Arteta I know. He is the one. If I honestly had to rank the best PL managers I’d start with Klop then Pepe followed by Arteta; I’m that optimistic. With the youth coming through and the cleaning out of the dross (Kolinsac, Ozil etc) we have a bright future. But that means we also have to be a little patient. We were fortunate to grab the three points today (though last season we would have found a way to lose).  Next week will demonstrate how much further we have to develop. But we know that. We are not at the level where we can really compete; remember it took Klopp five years. We need three years. This season will, at times, test our resolve. We will find ways to throw away points; we will be outclassed by the best teams. But, as we proved at the end of last season, we will compete and fight. We will have the right tactics even if we don’t have the right players. Yet. But we have the right manager.

Oh it’s good to be back

-LB7

July 12th – Tottenham 2 Arsenal 1

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Three wasted points. Three abysmal defenders. Three players to replace. From the first minute when David Luiz lost the ball by being too slow in his decisions through the last minute of Mustafi going to ground with Kane, we only saw what we’ve all known all year long. Our defense is as supportable as fat man Trump; it’s as reliable as the White House protecting people from Covid19. How bad is our defense? It’s so bad that Mustafi was the best defender today.

Though we did not exactly learn anything new, it’s still shocking to see the mental weakness and flat out stupidity of Kolinsac. To be fair to him he has been a walking disaster all season. Yet he finds way to plumb new depths. His distribution against Leicester was crap but today it was beyond intolerable. Two minutes after a glorious Cigarette strike gives us the (deserved) lead, to make a weak, aimless pass that wrong foots David Luiz is beyond professional incompetence.

Since the restart I have finally become convinced that this team is moving in the right direction. We have seen significant improvements. We have seen confirmation that we unquestionably have the right manager. Finally, after the idiot Emery, we have someone who can build this team and resurrect this club. The performances has demonstrated progress and identity. We’ve been fortunate to reduce the leakage in goals and Martinez has been a revelation. But, we have consistently seen a sloppiness and lack of focus from all three defenders. And today it cost us a game we deserved to win.

We played better than them and had enough chances to take the lead. Today we paid the price for Aubamyeng missing too many chances he would normally score from. In truth, when we needed our captain the most, this was his weakest performance. Too often he would refuse to make forward wide runs to stretch their defense – which had both full backs on yellow cards. Conversely, Cigarette had one of his best games for many months. Even beyond his wonder strike, his link-up play and positioning were excellent. He set up Aubaeyang who failed to convert his chances. Amusingly, their captain today was also shit. Their main man looked off the pace and had a handful of chances – care of our inept defense – to score and fluffed his lines.  We also suffered today because Pepe was back to his old form. There are moments of brilliance but it still looks like the pace of the EPL and the physicality is too much for him. I wish we had brought on Saka earlier. The change in the speed of thought and passing was immediate. Both Aubameyang and Pepe refused to turn up field and take on their men today.

Overall though this team looks much improved. There was a real balance in midfield. Not perfect but Ceballos and Xhaka dominated this game. This was another improved performance from Ceballos. At this rate we need to retain him. He created more chances, worked harder, won tackles and kept the ball moving so much quicker than in the past. Xhaka has proven to be the backbone of this team. Since his return to the starting eleven we have looked like a real team. There is no way we win at Wolves without Xhaka. Today they dominated Sp*rs. They were helped by the wing-backs. Tierney is a star in the making and is a sharp contrast to Pepe. Half the price and twice as good. And on the other side Bellerin continues to show improvement. His distribution – unlike a certain other player – was much improved. I have been very critical of Hector latterly but he has built on the improvement from Leicester and was much more creative today.

We had our chances today but failed to convert. Fine. But how can you speak to the defense? Sp*rs we’ve given all their chances. Whilst watching I had said, with about 15 minutes left, how Mustafi had been the only defender to not make stupid mistakes but that you knew he would eventually. Then in the space of 10 minutes he impersonates Kolinsac, diving in unnecessarily, losing possession and over committing on Kane. We have come to expect this though. It’s a shame, because for the first 80 minutes, he was solid (aside from his long-ball passes with are like a random spray-gun). More often than not, Ceballos or Xhaka would pick the ball up from the defense and then build play up from there. These two were passing the ball quicker and playing through the lines. On the other hand when David Luiz has the ball at his feet he was sluggish and too slow in his distribution. Whereas Kolinsac can only pass sideways and backwards – and to the other team.

Another moment on Martinez though. What a great performance. Beyond the wonder save from Davies, he denied Sp*rs on multiple occasions. In the first minutes when we gave the ball away and then Kane tried to lob him to multiple saves from Kane and Son. I really doubt that Leno would have done better.

Where does this leave us? Mightily pissed that we lost to a team that is just not as good as us. But if I had to choose, irrespective of our current league position, which team looked like it had the bright future I would pick AFC. Sure, I thought his substitutions today were too late and not effective – Saka should have come on earlier for Pepe. But the style of play, the width of the wing-backs, the arrival of Tierney and Saka and the emergence of Ceballos is refreshing. For the first time in 18 months since Wenger retired (or was pushed out) I feel like we’re finally functioning as a team. We have an identity. And we know our problems. We have know this for too long. But Arteta can’t fix that – yet. He needs a transfer window. He needs some time. He has made, as much as I hate to acknowledge it, Mustafi better. No-one though can make Kolinsac better.

Today was a wasted opportunity. The three points were there for us. But, like the Brighton game, we found a way to give it to them. It’s not like, in either game, the other team earned it. We gave it to them.  This game is not too complicated, Attackers should score – we did that today. Midfields should both create and protect – we did that today. And defenders should defend. Think about how often Sp*rs actually created chances by themselves? Most of their chances came from us giving the ball away cheaply. No team can survive like that.

The last few games raised the European hopes again and today crushed them. But not because we were outplayed by a better team. But because we are mentally frail and have inadequate defenders. The question becomes, in the midst of a financial meltdown – minus match day revenues and European football – whether we will have sufficient money to buy the replacements we need. For sure, we will dump Kolinsac. As a left-footed player, I swear I would be an improvement over him – and a lot cheaper.

Even in defeat though I come away optimistic about so many parts of this team. We need another year to complete the re-build. But, finally, I believe we have the right manager in place. If you had to choose between the two managers on display today it’s pretty clear we’ve got the better one. If you created a joint team from today most of their players would get into that team but yet we should have won todays’ game. It was a painful and excruciating to watch the headless, dumb way we threw away these points. But I’m convinced these are just bumps in our upward trajectory. Not this season. But for next. We should have locked up our NoHoppa Cup position. But Brighton and today have ruined that. There is still the F. A. Cup. But I think you have to win it to qualify. It’s not enough to lose in the final anymore. But that’s beyond us at the moment.

This is not to say we won’t get murdered by Liverpool. But there is enough progress here for us to believe we have turned the corner. Today we out played Sp*rs, we controlled the game and played better football. But until we remove our back three they will continue to be like a dead weight around our necks. There is something holding Holding back. Because I would play him over either Kolinsac or myself. I would love to see that change for Wednesday. Because, after today, Kolinsac, can’t play for Arsenal again.

– LB7

June 25th– Southampton 0 Arsenal 2

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Phew. Three whole points. It’s a miracle. And a clean sheet. Happiness. Finally. Or, at least, not depression and despair.

For the first 10 or 15 minutes it seemed that we could not establish our games. We were out pressed and harried. They clearly seemed intent on overwhelming our confidence; they knew we were fragile. But we survived. They had barely any attempts. And then we started to control and manage the game. Even though we should have won against Brighton, this performance was improved and coherent.

The improvement started with Xhaka. Having him calmly (if not slowly) function at the base of the midfield gave the defense some protection and was also the springboard for our creativity. Whether it was sliding the pass through for Ska to cross for our first off-side goal or spraying the ball around the park. His presence elevated the team.

While our goal was jammy we deserved it for the continued bad luck we’ve had with the woodwork. Though Aubameyang did not score, today he both lead the line and the team. He deserved to score and worked his socks off. Though I fear we will have to sell him, I facilitate between taking the money to invest long-term in this team and then wishing to retain him after these types of performances.

Because we need the money. Because today we saw the quite clearly a couple of players that are struggling. I’m referring to our two Spanish double-double “LL”s. Bellerin and Ceballos. Literally every pass (by foot or by head) was misplaced today. I’ve rarely seen him so disconnected from the game. Though he could tackle and track back his technical limitations were all too obvious. But he was still better than Ceballos who was, utterly ineffectual. He was barely present. He’s too slow on the ball and too predictable. It’s a damming indictment on Artetas’ opinion of Ozil that he picks a clearly useless player that could soon leave the club instead of his highest paid player-maker. And even when Ceballos is completely shit, he still perseveres with him. These two are our version of the Spanish flu.

The second half was worrying. It seemed like, once Southampton changed their strategy, we could not adapt. But thankfully we held out and capitalized on their GKS two mistakes. I seem to remember a game at the Emirates a number of years back where their GK also gifted us a goal. Today though Eddie worked hard, helped lead the line and hopefully built his confidence. He is no Rashford but he has potential.

I still worry about Arteta’s game management. He should have made his substitutions earlier. Ceballos should have been pulled after 60 minutes. Wilock, in addition to scoring the goal, just works harder. He should also have pulled Pepe today. When Bellerin can’t pass a ball to his own player Pepe won’t be involved in the game – as was the case today. Once we reverted to a 4-4-2 we looked more solid and Arteta was too slow with the change.

Another game and still we’ve yet to see Mustafa give away a goal or get a red card. You know it’s coming. Today he was solid with only a few crazy tackles and wild passes. He benefits from being alongside Holding who was clearly our best defender. He is stable, calm and controlled. Not blessed with great speed he shackled Ings and others today. He is towering in the air and dependable. Let’s hope he can stay healthy and get his match fitness back.

Martinez was not too shabby either. His distribution is shit but he made important saves and was quietly reliable 0 unlike their goalie.

There is so much work to be done with this team. So many players to be replaced. But it’s important for Arteta to be able to get a response and then build on it. I was happy to not see Guendouzi either. He needs to settle down a little. We need calmness out there. And today that’s what Xhaka provided. Now we just need a creative player in that Ozil/Ceballos position because neither seems to be up to the job.

And then there is Saka. Another impressive performance. The injury he picked up clearly impacted his contributions but still showed more creativity and skill than anyone else. An 18 year-old in his first year with the first team is remarkable as to how important he has become. Now we have to make sure, after signing the players most would have liked to have seen leave, we tie down our future. If we’re paying Luiz £115,000 a week, how much would you pay Saka?

Now off to Bramall Lane for the one realistic chance we have to get back into the NoHopa cup

-LB7

June 20th – Brighton 2 Arsenal 1

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Fuck that. What a joke of a game. And what a wanker Maupay is. Someone needed to thump him. Or at least break his leg during that game. And how Atkinson did not give a yellow is stupid.

So, there goes Leno for this year and longer. What a joke. BTW, how did Bissouma avoid a yellow card. He was fouling the entire game.

An hour later I’m still in shock. How could we loose that game? That has to be one of the unjust 3 points we’ve lost. Brighton had nothing the entire game, We had this one locked up. A brilliant Pepe goal. A number of changes for Cigarette and Aubamyang. Saka hitting the bar. I did not see that coming. It’s a killer though. Two losses in a row now. Against one of the best teams and one of the worst.

What did we learn? There is no justice in football. And Brighton are cunts. But we also saw that Saka was out best player and that Ceballos was our worst. All things came down our left because of him. Nothing came through the lines because Ceballos was not involved. But generally, our midfield was vacuous. Limit creativity and sideways possession. Pepe on the wing also helped. But generally while we were better than Brighton that’s only because they are shit.

Today was the first time I doubted Arteta. Why leave Ceballos on for the entire game? Where is Ozil. He would have benefited from the space today. At least give him 20 minutes.

Where is this team headed? Once we went one-nil up where was the leadership on the field? Both their goals were weak. Not sending out two men for the short-corner and then, in the lead up, Guendouzi – as he did all game – standing off. Our inability to close people down and reduce their space was so evident today. All that hard worked just thrown away. And one more long-term injury.

Sure we were so much better than Wednesday but you can’t lose games like this. Yet now we have developed a habit. There is a structural weakness in the team; in this club. We are solidly a mid-table team now but with some top 6 players. I have no idea how to arrest this fall but it feels like we have a long way before we hit the ground. Today was as deflating and sad as anything I can remember in a long time. There was no way we deserved to lose. Maybe, because we were sloppy, we did not deserve the three points. But to come away with nothing is stunning.  

Beyond Saka, there was a strong return for Holding. It’s good to see him back. Let’s hope he can avoid an injury for the balance of this sad, sad season.

I have nothing to say for once. I’m drained, disillusioned and depressed. But not dead yet. Watching this team is too stressful and destined to disappoint. I was happier in the proceeding 100+ days than I have been since Wednesday. The club is a mess and I don’t know where it’s headed. Arteta is now going to be under even more pressure. This squad only has a handful of players you’d want to keep. So how does this improve? I don’t think it does. Even average teams like Wolves and Leicester look far superior than us. With all our history, money and prestige we are well on our way to becoming Nottingham Forest (without the European trophies) or Aston Villa (with out the European trophy).  Maybe we can re-locate to the Midlands.

So, good-bye Europe. And good bye most of this squad. It makes no sense to pay the salaries without European football. We should sell Aubameyang and invest that money in the future. We should return Ceballos, sell Luiz, sell Mustafa, loan out Ozil. And then, I would inject the coronavirus into all the other teams.

We need to campaign to close the season down. It’s too distressing for us. It’s bad for our mental health. We need protection. How I dream of those blissful days in April and May where we could live in our dreams and projections. Reality sucks. Give me back my dreams and hope. Give me back my re-runs when Arsenal had a team.

This is like a more painful, cheaper version of Man United and their downfall. Others, Liverpool being a prime example, missed out on Europe for a year or two. Man United did one season as well. It’s not necessarily the end of the world. But for our club, with our organization, with our ownership I’m not sure. It’s going to be a long time before we hit the floor.

-LB7

June 17th – Manchester City 3 Arsenal 0

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Where’s the virus when you need it. It saved us for 100 days from a game like this. Yet without a vaccine we ventured North. Without an antidote to our defense we decided to re-start our season. Why or why should we have had to put with this after 3 months of boredom, fear and abysmal racism. And after suffering all that we had to witness this? This is our reward for still being alive? 3 months of watching highlights of prior season (all pre-Emery of course) and realizing that the current set of players would not get into any prior team from 2000 to 2017.

We should have gone the smart way and, like WHU and others, argued for the end of the season and then picked up points by prior games played. As it its, while we’re still at risk to death from the virus we’re also at risk of death by Arsenal. Or, maybe more accurately, Death by Center Half’s.

A strange team selection for sure. But for barely 10 minutes we looked ok, reasonable a blah team. I find it hard to get excited by Willock but it was good to see Saka on the wing and Tierney at full-back. It was, of course, scary to see Mustafa starting. And a spine built around Mustafa, Guendouzi and Eddie does not inspire confidence. But Mari looked competent for a full 10 minutes. And then all that training started to pay off. First with Xhaka being injured by our own player and then Mari pulling up lame. And just as you thought how lucky we are that there are 5 substitutes, we failed to notice that one of them was David Luiz.

Luiz will be pillared for this. Though on the bright side he’s suspended for 3 games so we have a chance to pick up some points. We defended resolutely for the entirety of that first half. We were on the verge of going in nill nill after multiple Leno heroics. And then, out of nothing Luiz makes (another) school boy error and we’re one nill down. All that effort and preparation wasted. You could see why Arteta started Mari. This was strictly amateur hour. Once you let in one away to this lot you’re royally fucked – a Prince Andrew cluster-fuck.

But we had half-time to regroup and see how we could muster a shot on target. We had 20 minutes to figure out a new game-plan. Could we find a way to get the ball to Wilock. Would Aubameyang touch the ball? Instead we had Anthony Taylor award a penalty and send off our best player. Throughout, the game I thought Taylor was shit. Missing fouls on Eddie and the use of high boots. But you can never convince me this was a red card sending off offense. If this had happened anywhere else on the field it would have barely been a yellow card. Was he denying a goal scoring opportunity; barely. And they had a penalty. It seems absurd to send the player off as well. Mind you, when it’s Luiz, maybe that’s no bad thing.

So a game that was ruined in the 44th minutes become a joke once they went 2-0. It was just a case of getting through the game without have an embarrassing scoreline. Interesting, once we made the final set of substitutes we started passing the ball a little faster. But once they went down to 10 men with 10 minutes left, rather than step up and put pressure on them we then allowed them to score – care of our other center half. Mustafa find away to fall over before they hit the post and scored on the rebound.

What did we learn from this? That we have no viable center-halfs? I’m not sure that’s news. But I think we also saw that Wilock, while very young, would not get into another EPL team. That Aubameyang was totally wasted. And that this team is beyond fragile. I can’t point the finger at Arteta. This was down to simple, school boy mistakes by our most experienced players. Both center halfs have played in the latter stages of World Cups and now they should be in our U-18 teams. I don’t believe we cause their GK to make a single save. We created absolutely nothing. With 10 men that’s somewhat understandable but for the entire first half that’s not reasonable. And then when they had 10 men we let another goal in – ok, we might have been more tired but overall we were non existent today.

It’s hard to think of any rays of sunlight. Leno was excellent. Tierney did not get injured. Saka looked threatening. Bellerin looked OK. But overall, our entire possession was too slow. We rarely played through their lines. And too often our players did not make angels to receive the ball from Mari and the other morons in the middle of our defense.

Where do we go from here? Fuck knows. Arteta has so much work to do with a set of players that have no clear identity. I know, this was only one game and no-one would have expected us to get points against Man City. But it’s the way we did not turn up. The way we capitulated. The way, after 100 days, it felt like we’d lost all the positive momentum we gained from the last game against WHU. And why? Because Luiz was on the pitch and was his careless self. Chelski fans must have been laughing out loud. As good as he has been for us most of the season this was quintessential Luiz. Unreliable and careless. And that’s not what you expect from your most experienced defender. It reminded be of his colleague and prior inhabitants like Silverstri, Squiglai and Cygan.

Wave goodbye to the Champions League and wave goodbye to NoHopa League. We’ll need to sell Aubameyang and re0invest that money. This is a total rebuild job. I still believe Arteta is the right man for the job. He set the team out right today. The curse of injuries ruined that game plan. AFC will be distraught after waiting 100 days for that. Knives will be out for Luiz. But that should not obscure the amount of issues this team faces. Losing Xhaka and Mari will prove way most costly than losing 3 points today. We don’t have the personel. We miss Torreira and we now face having to recover before Saturday. There will be pressure on Arteta now. And there should be on the players. They have to demonstrate they were listening to him and learned something over the last 100 days. Losing to ManCity is one thing but playing as weakly and spinelessly against Brighton is another thing entirely. But hopefully we can mark this one down as the Brazilian Wax job care of Luiz.

-LB7

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