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Jan 14th – Bournemouth 2 Arsenal 1

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If this is what the future looks like then count me out. Put me down. Anesthetize me. This no longer the beginning of the end. It’s more than the end of the beginning. It’s the end. I think this is it for our glorious leader. And it should be for the general leadership at the club – except they are insulated because of AW who will absorb all the abuse and frustration.

How do you loose to Bournemouth when you’re 1-0 up and dominating the game? Easy, you play an under aged, inexperienced defensive line and give away two goals. Simple, you leave out your top scored – Alexis – and you replace him with the world-class skills of a Man United reject – Danny Welbeck.

But it’s so much more than any individual player. It’s now – as it has been for a number of years now – a belief and structural issue. Who can be surprised after our previous away defeats that we let this happen? Let’s face it we are an average team now. We are not top 4. And it’s not clear we’re even top 6. We are average. Accept it. Because Arsenal FC have.

How else do you explain the Alexis and Ozil situation? You leave out Alexis and have no replacement. He’s not even on the bench yet he got time mid-week. How is he on our wage bill still. We all knew this was coming. Just sell the fucking guy and get the replacement in. We now have the worst of both worlds. We have not sold him, have no replacement and yet don’t get to play him. How utterly incompetent is that? Why is this so difficult. Look at Liverpool. They sold Coutinho and bought in a player all within a week. But we dither and futz around. Why? It’s because this club lack leadership and management. We lack the ability to make decisions. Until that is resolved our only progress will be to further decay. Our future is to become a mid-table average team – though maybe we’ve already achieved it.

The irony is that today Ob1 had he’s best game of the season. I can’t blame him. Even Bellend was half way decent. We lost the game because of our defense. For once Cech lets us down. And then our mental fragility caused us to inevitably give up the second goal. Not because they were so good or deserved it. But because we can’t defend. Who thought we’d hold that 1-0 lead? No-one.

We had so many chances though to put the game away. We were so dominant and so much better than them. And we played better football. But between the ears we are weak. Who thought we’d recover once we went behind? How many saves did their GK have to make? How much pressure were they actually under?

But the point is this club is ever so gradual gently sliding into irrelevancy. Before you know it we will be Everton.

Today Jack was excellent. The creative force behind everything good we did. Xhaka was pretty solid. The pair of them played pretty well. Ob1 set up the goal and Maitland-Niles was pretty good. Mustafi was solid. Apart from DW23 everyone was ok or very good. Yet we lost. How can that be. And against, essentially, bottom of the table fare. How many people look back in the 3-3 draw from last year with envy now. One point would not look so bad.

But let’s not kid ourselves. The cancer in this club runs deep. Again, the farcical and incompetent manner in which we handled Alexis speaks volume from the malaise at the club. Really, why is he still with us? Why have we not brought in a forward who can provide us with something more than DW23?  I honestly don’t understand. What are they waiting for? How have we all not been able to see this play out since the summer? Did they not learn anything from the Van Persie fiasco? How is this club actually moving forward.

The result today, whist irritating, frustrating and embarrassing does not teach us anything we did not know. Substitute in Watford or Stoke if in doubt. We are a sixth place team. We are not worthy of the top four. Again, we knew that. So the question is, what are we waiting for? Sell Alexis and get the money. Keeping him and not playing him is insane. It’s appalling business. And it makes us look like morons. Though maybe that’s what we are. Welcome to Moron FC. The club run by morons, played by morons for morons. That’s you and me. Because, for the next six months nothing will change. “Management” have to decide when they want to start on the re-build. They have to decide when they will call time on AW. It won’t be till the summer. But will they have the balls to do it. Because until they do this team cannot be successful. Where here I consider bring in the top 4 as success. I did not mind missing out on the Champions League this year. But that was on the assumption we would re-tool, have a long-term plan and move forward. But when you have this broken Alexis situation and the clear departure of Ozil – our one true world-class player – how can you even consider the notion that this team is evolving or moving forward. Devolving and decaying, yes I can see that.

This is a pivotal time for AFC. It feels like we are going through the post-Wenger period while he is still our manager. I was always worried we’d suffer as did ManUre when Fergie departed. But when he left he left them with the Premiership. Wenger will leave us with nothing. He is in the final throws of destroying his legacy.

So, will we see a post ManU 8-2 loss hyper activity in the transfer market? Will the club display and vision or strategy? In some ways I hope not yet. In some ways I’d be OK with us struggling to get through to the end of the season and then start to see a complete make-over. But only on the basis that there is a clear plan with clear leadership – new leadership.

Between now and then we’ll have the odd good game but that will inevitably be followed by fiasco’s such as this. When you compare the relative qualities of the two teams today then you’d conclude only one team can win. When you watch the first 70 minutes of this game you’d conclude that only one team deserved to win. But, yet, reality is such that this team can’t consistently perform, it has no backbone and the sum of the parts is the less than the whole. That, friends, is not what you want from your team. And it’s not what we need from this club.

So, dark days ahead. Strap yourself in. it’s going to get darker before the light returns. Assuming that it will. How we handle the next 18 months can determine whether we return to our expected levels or whether we complete the switch with our North London rivals. It already feels like we’ve completed a complete club switch. We’ve had 20 years of clear domination based on a strategy, quality players, world-class manager and attracting the best players. But now if feels like they are the new Arsenal and we have become the old Sp*rs. Shoot me now

– LB7

 

January 7th – Nottingham Forest 4 Arsenal 2

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A Happy new year to the legions of readers of this innovative, agile and technology savvy website. This year the site was honored to be nominated for some many global awards. But the one that was most appreciated was for Best Looking and Most Humane Human Being on Planet Earth. Humbled though I was it was hard to argue with.

The resulting celebrations go some way to explaining the lack of review in the last few weeks;  that combined with abject referring. It’s hard to know where to start. But a short recap is most probably in order.

The Liverpool game was classic Arsenal at it’s best and worst. A microcosm of our team. Crystal Palace was a surprising ray of light whereas the West Brom game was classic Mike Dean at his best.

I’ve never been too bothered about the F.A.Cup – though it’s nice to win it. With all the up coming games in the League Cup and the NoHoppa cup missing out on round 4 is not the end of the world. BTW, you’ll know when we’ve reached the end of the world because just before the Stop sign there’ll be, on the side of the road, two players sitting there lacing up their boots – Ob1 and Theo. Today we saw how utterly awful and useless Ob1 so often is. Considering the opposition it was pretty telling how irrelevant he was. I mean, playing attacking midfield against a below average Championship team, should be the opportunity to assert your ability. Today, we again saw, that aside from the repetitive backwards and sideways passes that there is very limited talent there.

Losing is not so worrying or depressing. What is though, is the persistence of these players in the Arsenal squad. If you offered Ob1 to any other Premier League team (not just in the top 6) who would take him? I know he’s young but I don’t see progression over the last 2 years. Today he was irrelevant. It’s depressing to have to watch the same thing happen game after game. Unfortunately, this lies at the feet of AW. For some reason he believes in Ob1. I can’t believe anyone else in the club does.

Ob1 redefines turgid. He redefines inept. He redefines crap. He redefines wanker. And worse off, I see no hope for us to off-load him. I see no future for Arsenal that does not involve Ob1. How can that be? Especially, (as we try to turn to the positive) when we have Maitland-Niles and Neilson. And Eddie. And Willock. All of whom have an understanding of the game that dwarfs the midget football brain that is Ob1. I despair of running out of insulting adjectives to refer to him by. He’s so poor he makes me wonder whether Bellend is a class player. He’s such a useless fucker that I wonder whether I’d select Theo ahead of him – answer – hell yes.

Today was somewhat of a fluke – two great goals from their Yank defender – he won’t score again this year. But, generally speaking, NF deserved it more than us. We lacked drive and we lacked finishing. Even though DW23 scored he’s just not a forward that can regularly threaten any defense. If you doubt that, please see he’s trademark header off his shoulder in the first half.

The irony is that the youth in the team provided the shining light whereas the experienced players were the liability. I’ll exclude the BFG from the latter because (1) he scored and (2) I don’t like to upset BFG’s at the best of times. MN and Nelson were very impressive. Willock was slightly below this high standard. I also liked Holdings performance and still prefer him to Chambers. But aside from the wanker that is known as Ob1, Elneny was ineffectual, Debuchy was poor, Theo clueless and DW23 poor.

Loosing is not so annoying. What is, is that this squad carries so many below average senior players that are incapable of stepping up to dominate below average Championship competition. It’s not up to the youngsters to lead the way. Today we needed to see leadership from Elneny, Theo, DW23 and even Ob1. This was the chance (again) for these fringe players to assert them selves. And assert themselves they did. They asserted that they would not get into the Nottingham Forest team.

Sometimes I realize that it’s not fun anymore writing these reviews. In the same way it’s not fun watching this team. The predictability of the sub-standard players, the predictability of inter-play and the predictability of the outcome make it so hard to get angry, agitated or annoyed. Change is a coming. Slower than we’d want. But in a year or two most of these dead-weights will be gone to other pastures. We’ll be rid of their wages and their tattoos.

In the meantime, we have to suffer through wasted opportunities like today. How can we lose to NF? Well, aside from the above, we barely tested their goalkeeper. We did not craft chances, we did not pepper their goal and did not stretch their backline. There is this one-dimensional aspect to our play. When those roles are filled by Ozil and Alexis et al, it can be so sweet to watch. But with these second tier players it just won’t come off. Today we missed Giroud and Jack. Our midfield had no penetration nor dive. It was all sideways. And, it was tedious and boring to watch. This is not the Arsenal we’d seen in previous years. This was slow motion, patched-up and sub-standard Arsenal. Is this what we should expect now? I fear so. Even the “first” team carries too much dead weight. And when we (rightfully) sell Alexis in a few days, we’ll be further shorn of class. As valuable as he is to our team we have to get him off our books. Part of me does not care about the loss of money – after all Stan has more than enough in his pocket change to absorb this loss of £25m or £35m; it’s not my money. It’s more to do with moving forward. If not now then in the summer we’ll lose Alexis. So let’s get it over an done with so we can build for the future.

This year, in my view, never involved getting into the top 4. If we are to return to the Champions League it would be via the NoHoppa Cup. And that is a  low probability event. We are not good enough to be in the top 4. If there was any doubt about that you only had to watch our first 22 matches. You can’t lose at Stoke and Watford, draw at West Brom etc and believe your team is one of the top four in the country. I never did. But I do care about next season and the one after that. I do care about our squad and the balance therein. I do care about Ozil. He’s the one truly world class player we have. We have to build a team around him. We have to keep him at Arsenal. Alexis has shown where his interests lie – not that I blame him – but Ozil has not said anything (via the usual channels that Alexis has used). He is ours to keep. But you have to believe he’s watching these developments. Assuming we let Alexis leave now then we have to bring in a replacement now. I don’t think Mahrez fills that position but I’d be more than happy to see him come to us. Let’s take some of that Ox money combine it with the Alexis money and bring in a couple of players. Let’s sell Debuchy and Theo.

What’s disappointing about this review (aside that is from the usual woeful commentary) is the lack of passion. I don’t care as much. I did not care today because it’s all so predictable. I was upset with Dean because of the dropped 2 points at West Brom. And because Dean is an utter cunt. And I’m upset that rather than hold CuntDean accountable the retards at the FA prefer to take the easy option and go after AW. It’s amazing to think the future of football in England is in the hands of such retarded fools. This is a multi-billion pound business being run by pea-brain, old-boys who have no earthly understanding of the game. The success in England is despite these morons not because of it. Wenger is completely right in his observations about referring. How can Dean still be considered a top-flight ref? Dean is the Ob1 of referring. How is there no accountability? Why are there so few refs that can handle premier league games?

Do you know how much these Premier League refs get paid? About £70K. That’s what the best players in the EPL earn in a couple of days. Yet the best refs are treated like serfs. This is a multi-billion pound business. You get what you pay for. And £70K will get you CuntDean. BTW, how much do NBA/NFL refs earn? Upwards of $175K – and there are 6+ refs for those games.

The truth is it’s not his fault he’s a cunt – it’s the fault that the  PGMO (the Professional Fame Match Officials) organization headed up by that ex-ref Mike Riley chooses to support this level of incompetence. This is the root cause of the problems. You combine the PGMO with the FA and then you’ll understand why the future is so bleak. No change is capable of originating from the basterd child of these organizations. But, because they are sheep, they will follow others. So we are dependent on the other European leagues (or even the US) for new ideas and approaches.

Oh a feel better now after that rant. It’s a sad day though when my passions are only aroused not by Arsenal but by our incompetent refs and related organizations. OK, enough bullshit for one day.

-LB7

 

 

Nov 18th – Arsenal 2 Sp*rs 0

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We beat Mike Dean. Who would have thought that possible?. For once I don’t now care about any other results this weekend. Beating that lot relieves so much grief and tension. And don’t tell me anyone saw that coming. Post Man City I assumed we were in for a drubbing. I’d spent then previous two weeks praying and hoping that their big three would return with injuries. Then once I saw their lineup and ours with Mustafa being restored to play alongside Xhaka and Mike Dean, my highest expectations were that our best result would be 0-0.

How the hell did this scoreline happen? Best I can figure, Sp*rs were shit. They barely created anything. It looked like Ericksen was still smoking a cigar and drinking a dram of rum in a bar in somewhere in Dublin. May he always perform well for Denmark. My strong sense is that today Ericksen missed the dynamism and linkup-play of TGSTEL – Lord Bendtner. Bereft of those talents Ericksen was anonymous. Ali was barely noticeable and Kane ineffectual. We should all be sure to write our Christmas cards to Potachino thanking him for both purchasing and then playing Sissoko the entire game. This guy is so poor I don’t even think he could get into our team. Thankfully they had the poor judgement to leave little boy Winks on the bench. Their selection seemed as poor as ours.

Overall both teams demonstrated they can’t win the league. But the difference is that we got three precious points against a top six team. And, on most days, a better team than us.

After the robbery of the Man City game it was a pleasure to be on the receiving end of some marginal referee decisions. And marginal is an understatement. It’s not clear Alexis was fouled by his namesake for the free-kick. And then Mustafa was offside before his perfect header in off the post. Then, for the second, there’s a case that Cigarette was off-side when he made his run. So, we knew Dean was a wanker which he demonstrated today but, for once, we were the beneficiaries.

As good as Ozil looked today our best players were Koscielny and, drum roll please, Mustafa. Anyone who has read the wise words regularly written here or had the chance to follow me during my extensive radio and TV appearances can attest to the fact that I have always been his biggest supporter. Let it be noted how consistent I have been in support of his many talents. And let no-one say that, on seeing his name on the team-sheet today, I cursed both our manager and the football gods. Today he actually looked like a defender. Of course, that lot played to his strengths. But nonetheless, he won every header, scored our opening goal and made some critical blocks in our area. Even his distribution was not utterly appalling. This was the best game he’s played for us. Even his after-match interview was coherent. That opening header changed the balance of the game. You could see the game shift after that. It was a wonderfully placed header. Very Giroud-like. Without the French good looks.

Our forward line looked mobile and when Ramsey pushed up we looked dangerous. It’s just a shame that we have players that seem to make the same runs as each other. Both Ozil and Ramsey seemed to occupy the same space too often. Cigarette had a few chances today where he should have done better. But at least he started the game. I was not entirely happy when he was replaced. And pissed that our Coq then proceeded to charge up field rather than sit back and defend our backline. Sometimes (i.e. every game) I wonder about the football IQ of some of our players. The worst offenders are Ramsey and Bellend. Ramsey too often would loose the ball just outside our penalty area. Doing the usual Ramsey thing – taking too many touches and trying his Cruyff-move. Poor Johan must be turning in his grave as he watches the slowness and predictability of these moves. There seems a lack of awareness as to which part of the pitch a midfielder should take risks and where they should just get off the ball. But the poster-child for lack of football intelligence has to go to Bellend. The number of times today when he gave the ball away of played passes that immediately put our receiving player under pressure could only mean he been studying under the tutelage of Mustafa. Couple that with his refusal to even consider closing down Davies before he crossed the ball meant that everyone else had to intercept those crosses. And going forward he’s always the player you don’t want to receive the ball in their penalty area. At some point Bellends’ awareness of the game needs to develop but all too often he looks Walcott-like when he receives the ball – clueless.

And then there’s Xhaka. He should have been the one replaced by our Coq. I was sure that he was going to get sent off for a second yellow. Today though he did not give the ball away just outside our own penalty area – I think he delegated that to Ramsey and Bellend.  But he seemed off the pace and uninvolved. Too many times Dembele just drifted pass him. We were lucky that Sp*rs were so miserable today. I’ve always thought they had one of the best starting elevens in the league and today demonstrated when their main anyone of their main two or three are not functioning they lack the players on the bench to change it up. And then their manager left it too late. They should have made changes at half-time. But, fuck it, that’s their problem.

Today our defense won us the game – and that includes Cech. All of them were aggressive and consistent. The Tank remains a little subdued. Alexis scored a opportunistic goal but otherwise continues to make the wrong decisions with his distribution and should have had a hat trick today. But, before he leaves us, he will continue to score and provide the spark we desperately need. As for his partner in crime, Ozil – he took a while to get into the game. But when he started to roam the pitch he became an important factor. As, to be fair, did Ramsey. Ozil worked hard and has the vision and calmness to link the entire team together. Today was one of his better games – not his best – but sufficiently good. It was painful to see him replaced by Ob1. I get that we needed someone who would work hard but Ob1’s first contribution was to give the ball away. And, as ever, in front of goal when he had chances he snapped at them – lacking any self-believe that he’d score. Seems like Ericksen he can do it for his country but not his own team.

Now I can enjoy the rest of the week. But I also realize this might be the highlight of our season – our entire season. So I’m going to wallow in it for a while. I still think we’re a long way from being able to challenge for anything. No team with Xhaka and Ramsey as the midfield can. I want to see Jack in there for Xhaka. And soon, that time will come.

All my assessments were wrong today. I got the score line wrong, the outcome wrong, I was convinced Dean would fuck us. And I was sure Xhaka and Musfafa would find a way to get sent off because of reckless challenges. And I was positive that Mustafa would be a liability. Luckliy I merely demonstrated I know fuck all about this game.

So, today, let’s celebrate beating both Dean and Sp*rs. It’s quite rare these days.

-LB7

Nov 5th – Man City 3 Arsenal 1

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We were robbed of our potential self inflicted misery today. Rather than a Liverpool away like performance this one was more Chelski like. But this time the referee and the linesman decided to don sky-blue shirts. How else to explain the season over season suffering at their ground. Two years running now they’ve been given offside goals. And the penalty was absolutely soft. As others have pointed out – at Stoke we “lost” a goal because of a poor offside decision and yet today, when Silva was clearly offside this was not given. And that penalty! What is up with the standard of the refs and linesman.

Man City were outstanding. Their movement, control, short-passing and speed of attack are reminiscent of Arsenal from 10 years ago. They had many chances to beat us so they needed no help from the ref or linesman. They will win the league this year. And they will deserve it (given the amount of money they have spent over the last few years).

I had to check my eyesight when I saw our team. I bet there were few people who expected to see both Ob1 and our Cock in the starting eleven. I assume the BFG was too busy stomping all over Poland to play in this game. Though with hindsight he would have been ripped apart given their speed of their attack. Coq was not too bad. He was clearly unfamiliar with the positioning and got himself all tangled up when Cech would pass him the ball. He tended to drift too far up field and attack the ball too much but he was not the cause of our downfall. Ob1 was more surprising. Leaving our Cigarette for big games is becoming a bad Wenger habit. And in retrospect it looks a particularly poor decision.

The mix and balance in our team – actually, any team, is so important. When Ob1 plays on the left wing he looks lost and quite shit. But when he wanders infield and links up and turns quickly he is quite creative – see he’s movement for our goal. I get that Wenger wanted to play a tight, compact game and Ob1 can work hard on the wing. But you can’t leave out your main goal-scorer.

So aside from the ref giving them the game we also saw some other predictable flaws in the game. And both revolve around our two star players. Alexis today was shit. More a Skoda than a Lexus. Nearly every decision he made was the wrong one. He dwelled on the ball too long in all the wrong places. If I was Man City I would not see how he’d fit into their team. None of their players are as ball hogging as Alexis. Though maybe he is an upgrade on Sterling.

At this stage though I would start to consider leaving Alexis on the bench. If he’s going to sign for another club I don’t see how we can keep him in January. Get him off our team. It’s not like we’re going to win the league this year. Get the money and put it in the bank for the summer signings. This team will never showcase Alexis. It won’t even get into the top 4. But we knew that at the start of the season. So let’s at least plan and build for the future.

This also applies to Ozil. Whereas at Everton he was stellar today he was absent. Again, we did not lose because of him. But, again, if he’s not going to sign a contract let’s sell him and get the money. As brilliant as he is (on his day) we can’t afford to keep players that don’t believe in us and won’t commit to us. There was very link up play between these two today – that’s unusual. But that was also dictated by the pressure that ManCity put us under. They really are an impressive side. But we had our chances. Ramsey in the first half and then in the short period before the ref decided to give them a penalty and then right after our goal. When we reverted to a 4-4-2 we looked more dangerous.

But, today, we saw the main flaw in our team. It’s not Alexis nor Ozil. It’s Xhaka. I am tired of watching him drift around the game picking up the wrong defensive positions and not providing the defensive cover for the defense. If you watch that first goal which started with Ob1 giving away the ball just outside our area. Once the initial shot is saved by Cech you can see Xhaka start to amble out of the penalty box. He’s so passive though that by the time that Debryune starts the one two, instead of having closing of the space he’s standing around doing nothing. Reminiscent of Watford’s’ winner. It’s not that he’s a bad player. He’s be fine on West Ham or Everton. But not for Arsenal. And, then later in the game we saw Jack come in and play that position. There is no comparison. I know it’s too early for Jack – he needs to build his fitness and he, obviously, will pick up an injury soon. But he’s way better in that position than Xhaka. It’s so infuriating seeing Xhaka make the same positional mistakes over the length of a season. There is real ability there I know but he’s too weak on the defensive side. And therefore he is a liability.

Cech was good today; he’s save in the second half was brilliant. He and Koscelny kept us in the game in the first half. But we got ripped apart too easily on the counter attack – which is why we needed the speed of the Cock in defense. And we started the game well. We attacked them, controlled some of the possession and looked reasonably well matched. Until first Ob1 and then Xhaka made their mistakes. At this level you can’t afford to make mistakes like this let along repeat those mistakes game after game.

Common wisdom states that these type of poor refereeing decisions even out over a full season. I used to subscribe to this view. But now I’m not so sure. These games – against the top six – hang on such fine margins. And today the balance was entirely tilted against us. It’s not like we went their expecting to win. It’s not like we think we’re the better team. And it’s not like they need any help. But I don’t see how post Stoke and not after this it will even up.

The best we can do now is build for the future. There were some good performances today by individual players. There were periods where we dominated. This was nothing like the capitulation at Anfield. This was more like the Chelski game but with a shittyer ref. We need to give incrementally more time to Jack. We need to get Cigarette to start every game. And we need to bench Xhaka. Ramsey worked hard but did not do too much. Bellerin and Kolasinac were pretty reasonable. Monreal was skinned too much but was left exposed by the lack of cover in midfield.

For our next game we had better get our team selection right. We have two weeks now to dwell on this game and figure out the right line up. Today AW got it wrong but will get sympathy because of the shit ref. but that won’t be the case for our next game. If he makes the same decisions and we lose then all hell will break loose. And rightly so. It’s not like our expectations are so high these days. We see both of our neighbors making progress. One of them scarily so. We seemed to have wasted all the revenue and momentum of our new stadium to have fallen back to being an outsider in the run for the title – more Southampton than Manchester United. That is so sad. But with no signs that anything will change any time soon we should at least get the right players on the pitch. And that means playing those that are able to perform in their assigned positions and those that want to play for us. If a player fails either of these two (low) requirements then they should sit on the bench and we should give the opportunity to others.

-LB7

July 30th – Pre- Season Ramblings Part I

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It’s been most wonderful to take off the last month or so from the onerous duties of generating reports on this world renowned, widely read website. I know how much the masses have been desperate to read the latest postings so I could deny the pleasure no more. After a month of working out in the gym, running marathons, competing in strong man competitions and watching TV (spot the true statement) it’s time to both look backwards and, at the same time, forwards. Not possible and assured of causing a broken neck but I’m game for it.

Looking backwards (but being careful not to fall over) the glow of the F A Cup mastery is flickering with its last embers. Without any Euros or WC to interfere, oh my how, long has that glow persisted., That’s the way to end a season.

We all expected Alexis and Oil to have been signed by now. Either by us or by another team. And neither has happened. At this point, given the attitude change at AFC, I’m less resistant to Alexis leaving for a foreign club. I don’t exactly love his attitude. He’s wages demands are clearly designed to force an exit. But the wonderful thing about contracts is that he’s got no choice. He’s not that RVP like imbecilic who might not give 100% every time. Once Alexis realizes he’s stuck with us he’ll be as passionate and committed as he was last season. And by the end of his contract Man City will have moved on and Alexis will be nearly 30. The pimps at Man City would have moved on to someone else by then. It’s funny how Alexis would want to go to the team managed by the guy that pushed him out at Barcelona. Now that James has signed with Basterd Munich I don’t think Alexis has too many options. Unless he wants to ask for a transfer. Again, if he does then we should flog him to the French or Italians. But not the Middle Eastern lot.

Since AW signed up for 2 more years there have been changes. And most tantalizing is that he’s not so focused on the future but more on the here and now. Gone is the planning for the long-term. I think he’s finally got to the point where he knows that he’s got a year or two to deliver. No investing in the future. No more projects. Now it’s about paying up and getting the finished article. No more waiting for Jack when you can buy someone with a proven track record.

This is a seismic change. Of course, this has to be measured against the certitude and utter conviction of the AAW crowd who stated – because they know these things as fact – that he was incapable of change. But then he was also incapable of changing tactics. He was also incapable of building a defensive backline or defensive player. And, of course, he could not win any trophies. How wise these people are.

So we have signed the classic French forward Cigarette. Will he turn out to be a Henry or Wiltod. My suspicion is the latter. And we still in the hunt for the remaining ashes of the Monaco team. Must be fun to support that team – The tax haven equivalent of being a Southampton fan.

But maybe more importantly, there have been backroom changes. Again, because we all actually know what goes on in the inner sanctum at Arsenal. We have our Invincible goalie back. And the BFG is going to run the Academy next year.  What does this all mean. For starters we’ve changed MAGA from Make Arsenal Great Again to Make Arsenal German again. I also hear we’re soon to rename the stadium to the Arsenal Bunker. I suspect this is the German reaction to Brexit – a reverse takeover of Arsenal. We will be more efficient. We will steamroller through Europe. We will be happy. Be happy boy!  Otherwise incur the wrath of Jens.

And finally, I never normally comment on pre-season games. When I was a younger, hairier, teetheier, thinner and even more perfect me, I never even knew there was a pre-season. No one knew who we played pre-season and we certainly did not know the scores. Even today I’m not sure there were actual pre-season games. There was the community shield and then the season. So, suffice it to say I don’t give a flying fuck about pre-season. Aside that is for us signing the worlds best players (and our own).

However, it’s taken so long to write this pre-season piece that it’s run into yesterdays game versus Benfica. How irrelevant are these games? So irrelevant that Theo, with his lovely haircut, looks played a rock-star and Giroud, while still possessing the speed of a Donkey, was the perfect link-up player.  Maybe they could be our pre-season players of the year. What was interesting though was the performance of our new boy on the left; he looks like a tank rolling into Washington from Russia. He’s built like a brick-wall. On the other side Nelson looks like he’ll retain a place in the squad for the useless games like League cup and EUFA matches. He’s got a nice head of hair and a lovely turn of pace. Maitland-Niles was forced to both play left defense in the back three and, in order to save money, dropped the first part of his double barrel name. I think those missing 9 letters reduced the cost of the shirt Arsenal charge him for wearing.

OK, that’s it. I’m off to watch our second game of the Emirates Cup and then start work on Part II. Let’s see if I can’t create more drivel prior to the Most Valuable Cup Of All Time. The Charity or Community Cup.

-LB7

May 27th – Arsenal 2 Chelsea 1

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Fuck me sideways. We just MAGA. I did not see that coming. We were superior, the better team and utterly deserved to win. Could this really be true? Is someone going to wake me up from my (beautiful) dream. Please don’t. This was one of those rare occasions where I wanted the game to continue for another 90 minutes. This was so fucking enjoyable. Never in doubt (aside from my total negativism leading into the game).

Where to start? I still can’t believe we had Ospina in goal. Crazy-arse decision that. And after he flapped at their goal one that could have come back to haunt AW. As it was we immediately resumed our dominance.

From the beginning we dominated. A minute into the game we started to control the ball and found gaps behind Kanti and Automatich. That first goal was dubious not because of the possible offside but the clear handball by Alexis. But I don’t give a fuck. We scored. Deserved it and then had numerous chances there onwards. I can’t recall them all but Welbeck should have scored, Ramsey got one past Courtouis for Cahill to clear it and then Ramsey headed against the post from a Welbeck header from a corner. The balance of the team look good and we were running the game.

Going in one nil up at half-time was worrying only because you had to believe Chelski would not play that badly again in the second half. For 10 minutes they seemed to have found their rhythm but thereafter we reasserted ourselves and controlled the game. We created chances and controlled the game. Our play was smooth and continuous moving the ball around seamlessly. For once, there was no obvious weak-link (aside from Ospina). And once Moses was moronic enough to fall over in our box and Taylor was brave enough to give the second yellow card you knew the cup would most likely be ours. Conti has to answer for why he kept Moses on the field for so long though. He was shit in both halfs and should have been replaced earlier – though arguably this is true of their entire team. Where was Hazard?

Aside from their undeserved goal they barely had 2 shots on goal the entire game. Costa did not deserve to score and Ospina should be holding his head in shame at his pathetic attempt to wave at the ball with his right hand. He should be having nightmares as a result and that should also signal the end of his time with us.

But what a reaction. A response in 30 seconds. Though I understood why Welbeck had to go off I was not thrilled at the idea. But what a run and pass from Elephant man for the Ramsey to time his late run into the box to head in the winner. Fucking brilliant. Cue major celebrations to break out. Another tactical masterstroke from AW. Thereafter we still had more chances but we thoroughly deserved this win. Today, if that game was still being played we’d still be wining.

How can they take of Costa and bring on Batshitwhoever? How can they not put us under more pressure than that? Where were Chelski? Did both teams swap shirts before the game? They played like us and we played like them. If they played like that all season their manager would be the one being abused by their “fans”. And, best of all, John Terry did not get any playing time. That’s the last we’ll see of that fucker – holding a losers medal. Perfect send off.

Today though was about us. How great was it to watch us completely out play them and out smart them tactically. Ramsey in this more forward position was more threatening and more incisive. He was quicker on the ball and quicker to get off it. Ozil glided all over the pitch was helped provide an outlet for Bellerin. Ozil was also doing the defensive work and fouling where necessary. Another classy performance from him. And Bellerin used the space created in front of him so well – so many chances came via him – and a few shots to boot (ha). On the other size Ox and Alexis both clearly struggling with injuries manfully exposed Moses and that side of the team. Alexis notching up another goal and working so hard the entire game.

Xhaka was perfect playing that lone defensive midfield player. Once or twice he got caught on the ball but he was instrumental in running and dictating the place. He has evolved into our Alonso. Some of his passing was spectacular. And that volley shot in the first half demonstrated great technique. Behind him Monreal was excellent letting nothing past. And when faced up with Hazard played him perfectly never allowing him to get past. Holding continues to improve. Some of his passes out of defense were outstanding. Again, like the foul on Coast in the second half and that time in the first when he let the ball bounce behind him that caused Ospina to save from Costa, makes growing mistakes but overall helps solidify that back three.

But my favourite player today and, possibly, the most important one was our own BFG. So calm and so reassuring in defense. Marshalling everyone around him, sliding in where required and always reading the game; his football IQ has to be off the charts. Not having played a full game for the entire season to come in today and play in such a commanding manner was a complete bonus. Mustafi should study that performance very carefully – not one mis-placed pass, no overly aggressive jumping into the tackle; just reading the game perfectly. BFG – the man of the match.

And how about our manager, eh? Perfect tactics. Playing Ramsey slightly further forward and selecting Welbeck over Elephant Man. Welbeck worked so hard today; chased everything and was disruptive to the Chelski back line. It’s just a shame he can’t take his chances.

I loved AW’s comments pre-game. He, of course, was totally right. The retarded, moronic Arsenal fans that have been focusing on AW and not the team should, if they had any shame, should be embarrassed – not because of the result – but because they have been so destructive and petulant about our team. All of us have a right to be angry and pissed off with our wanky performances this year. But the level of abuse hurled at AW is out of all proportion. Last time I checked he’d not murdered anyone, invaded a country or stolen an election. He’s always been working in the best interests of our club even when me makes bad decisions. And, given his longevity, deserves, if nothing else, respectful criticism. Not the personal, destructive and negative demolition of the manager. The time for that analysis was always going to be the end of the season. Not flying stupid fucking planes over stadiums when we’re playing. A pox on all those fans.

But today is a happy day so I’ll leave that topic for another day. Today we were excellent and a joy to watch. If only we had found our game a week or two early in the season. But find it we did. And, finally, in the final, we found a way to turn an essentially defensive formation with three at the back into our most fluent and dynamic performance in this new regime.

So it looks like we’re on our way to MAGA – Making Arsenal Great Again. I love Wembley and I love the F. A. Cup. And Arsenal. Now that’s a way to truly end a season.

Once I’ve returned to planet earth and we get more clarity on the big summer decision I’ll write up more thoughts on MAGA and Arsenal.

Till then.

Back to my dream. We just won the Fucking F. A. Cup!

-LB7

May 7th – Arsenal 2 Manchester United 0

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Finally, I can write a review. So welcome back to AA. Arsenal Anonymous. After last week’s debacle, I’d been so drained of life that I could not face writing a review about the only team that turned up. My efforts at MAGA (“Make Arsenal Great Again”) went up in smoke after only a week or so. So, I figured I should recalibrate expectations to MAAFTA (“Make Arsenal A Football Team Again”). And maybe I could enjoin the Great DT to negotiate the Best terms for a Good, Good deal.

Thankfully though, for today, there’s an actual match to review and a team to actually dissect. This was a pleasant unexpected surprise. Not to say it was not warranted.

ManU and DarthVader set themselves up for the pity play. The largest sports franchise in the world with the worlds most expensive player influencing the media to feel oh so sorry for a team that has to play both in Europe and the Premier League at the same time. Shocking. They must be the first team to ever have to play in the league and Europe at the same time. Imagine that. Who knew? How hard for poor MU with all those injuries. Who knew there were 38 games in the league they’d have to play?  It’s so unfair that the less wealthy teams are put into these situations.

Last time I checked Arsenal had more games to play (and have had) over the last few weeks – and we’d not spent more than the GDP of most third world countries on summer signings. So this does not explain how DarthVader set their team up. All defensive all the time. This felt like it would be a re-match of Bolton V Blackburn Rovers.

Except today we were not quite Bolton. And AR8 was not quite Aaron Ramsey. There I said it. And let me go further into unchartered territory – Ramsey played quite well today. OK, that’s enough wild praise for one game. I’m starting to ponder whether AR8 is not quite as shit as I still think he is. Today we saw both sides. His defensive work is shabby and his distribution is poor. But when he gets into the final third he’s the only one who makes those old Freddy runs. The realization hit that Ar8 is the Welsh equivalent of Swedish underwear stud – without the red hair. In the first half he induced a fine save from DerGear. And multiple times AR8 made key runs behind their defense and often into their box. Often times it was our CIC (Creator In Chief) the re-discovered Alexis who supplied the passes.

It was noticeable today that with Danny instead of the elephant man playing up front that we were more nimble and dynamic. Though I’m not convinced (even with the bullet header)  by DW23, it does allow Alexis more movement and freedom. Ozil – until we went 2-0 up – was fairly quiet and found it difficult to get into good positions to break down the Blackburn-like defense erected across the pitch. Even the Ox was limited to a few speculative shots. But behind him he has the boy Holding rather than BigEars. Aside from the sideways pass Holding made to their BigEars – who ten years ago would have scored – it’s refreshing to see him play. Immediately after that fuck-up, in the same position he launched a left footed back pass to Cech – a great sign of no fear and natural ability.

In front of them alongside AR8 was the rebranded Xhaka. He now owns our midfield. Everything runs through him. He picks the ball up from our back 3 and defines our play. Often Alexis comes to him to receive the ball. Ozil has yet to figure out where we really fits in this new set up. But Xhaka clearly has. If only we had Santi alongside him. That would be a real platform.

In the first half nearly all our good moves came down the left hand side. Evidentially there was a match last Sunday. Anyway, in that game, Gibbs got pillared – unfairly I think. Today you saw more growth and development from him. He defends well – complements Monreal – and loves going forward. His crossing needs work but then he’s not been playing regularly for the last 50 years. He needs time. Of course, after 50 games he’d still not get into anyone else’s team. But he’s all we’ve got currently and today he made good contributions – he was an asset.

The rejuvenated one aka The Ox again reveled in the attacking play down the right. He’s not quite figured out how to link up with Holding. But the English side of the team shows promise. In the first half Holding played a defense splitting ball that Ox hesitated over. Often though Ox gets caught out defensively – he does not have the position acumen yet. Hopefully that will come because going forward he’s an Electric Ox. Todays cross for the DW23 was reminiscent of the one for Monreal against the other Manchester lot.

So I’m still not convinced by this new formation. Against a better team (see last week) I would have worried. But today, against a poor poor ManU team we grew into the game and thoroughly deserved the win. The last three months have been traumatic. I’ve only been comforted by memories of the last 20 years and remain fearful of the next 20. But today we deserved to win, were clearly the better team and started to show some signs that we might be figuring out how to pass the ball to each other and create chances. After Ox provided that perfect cross for DW23 we seemed to find some swagger in our game. I don’t want to support Bolton, West Brom or Stoke. I want to see us play football. It’s not just all about the results. And at 2-0 up you could see some confidence find it’s way back into the team. We had many more chances to add to the score while they only had a few chances. And then Koz was excellent at the back marshaling the defense. It was nice to see our Coq reappear in public and even more amusing to see him launch himself in front of a Rooney shot. But they barely tested Cech today. They really were poor. But maybe the best part of their performance was their managers interview. He was quite delightful in deflecting from the non-existent performance today. With players like Mata, Mika-whatever, Martial and their BigEars their fans had a right to expect more. But they had no game. And no intent to play. That is exactly the kind of team I would detest supporting. But nonetheless DarthVader manager to spin their performance into a thing of beauty and endless chances they failed to take.  I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again. What monumental wanker this guy is. He surely has the most toxic personality in all of football. A narcissistic prick. It’s always about him. Remind you of anyone? If DarthVader and DT had a love child I do think though it would look like their Rooney – that would explain his ears and his voice.

Today I did not sit there in fear. It’s very rare you’ll come up against at top 6 team that is to abject (unless, that it, we played ourselves). After our two goals there was very little to be fearful of apart from our future – or lack of it. Even with the weekend results, it’s destined that we’ll miss out on the top 4 this year. We really have had to work hard to miss out. Liverpool have tried to help us as have City. We should admire their generosity but understand that we are just not worthy. Last Sunday proved that (if there was any doubt).

So enjoy todays result. Remember, it’s Arsenal so we’re bound to come crashing down to earth at Southampton. The 4-0 thrashing at their place is still fresh in my painful memory banks. All I ask for is not to be embarrassed. Conversely, if we were embarrassed maybe that would generate real change at AFC. However, with no football IQ to be found anywhere outside of AW it’s pretty clear there is no-one at the board who knows the first thing about football. Rather than be focused on AW and his decision the future of this club is only at risk because of the negligence of our ownership and our CEO. It is their responsibility to plan for the future and put the necessary long term structures in place. Instead there is a void where leadership should be. I would not expect nor want to hear form the board during the season. I don’t want to hear them discuss the AW situation in-season – even when we’re going through our own implosion. I’m not interested in their words. It’s their actions that count. So don’t’ get sidetrack by the bullshit you hear about AFC just focus on what actually changes. My money is still on no change at AFC. Two More years. Two More Years. ½ a DT term. Yikes.

So how do we MAGA? That, dear reader, requires more thought and consideration. In lieu of that let me leave you with my MAGA contributions:

  1. Decapitate Tony Gayle
  2. Cut out the tongue of Stewart Robson
  3. Sign up Kate Upton in place of Theo. Start her as our naked right-winger. Instant pleasure.
  4. Likewise with Jennifer Anniston. Instant improvement in team chemistry
  5. Donate AR8 to a charity of anyones choice; throw in Sanogo (remember him) for the hell of it
  6. Extend the contract of DarthVader at Man U for another ten years
  7. Have Real Madrid sign as their new manager Potachino
  8. When Brexit is finalized, leave EUFA and replace it with the Emirates Cup with auto qualification for us to the final
  9. Introduce porno flicks in the away team changing rooms before games and at half-time
  10. Bring back the original AFC crest (yes, I know this is a repeat but the best is worthy of restating).

Enjoy the glow of todays wonderful result and beware of Wednesday

-LB7

 

 

 

April 25th – Arsenal 1 Leicester 0

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That was a pleasant surprise. This had a nil nil draw written all over it. They did not come to play and we could not play too much.

Unfortunately I had to listen to the retard Tony Gail bleat all over the commentary. He is such a monumental wanker; so completely biased and negative to Arsenal. But worse than that he is a Neanderthal with regard to tactics. His thinking is the perfect example of the reason why England can’t produce a decent national team. He only knows how to get stuck in and then hit the big man up top via route 1. It’s amazing he played for West Ham (to be fair he was shit). If only we could put him and Michael Owen in a dingy and drop it off somewhere in the middle of the Pacific…

Back to the game. As I’ve long given up that we will qualify for the Champions League and I’m equally sure that AW will be with us next year, I continue to look for indications that we can Make Arsenal Great Again (“MAGA”). That is the lens through which I view each game – aside from the next one. Is there improvement and evolution? Are we developing? Even after 20 minutes it was clear this formation with the infamous 3 at the back is improving the level of our play. With the players we currently have and with the self-belief still mired in the dirt, this system suits us better. We pass out of the back more cleanly and also are less exposed defensively.

As the game progressed there were only rare chances for them but, unfortunately, less for us. Of course playing with just 10 men did not help. I don’t get why we’d only field a team of 10 players and allow a ball-boy to come in and take the number 14 jersey. That seems irresponsible to me. And very unfair to Theo. Someone must have locked him up in the dressing room and then hijacked his jersey. We need to send out a search party to find our caffined and tattooed winger. It’s inconceivable there could be any other reason for that performance because surely a player who’d not played for the last 2 games (or maybe more I can’t remember) would have been energized to have been in the starting eleven and have run around full of energy trying to prove to others he was worthy. Unfortunately the ball-boy proved to be wholly unworthy.

Unfortunately this formation also shows up the limitations of our Coq. As much as I adore this boy and love his fight he looks lost because he often finds himself upfield in positions requiring creativity. Of course, replacing him with the side-ways and back-wards AR8 does not exactly solve the issue.

But the formation does help our defense. Monreal has been a star in each of the last two games. Likewise BigEars. Bellend seemed slightly improved but then it must be tough having a ballboy play in front of you. That’s why all our progress came down our left.

Someone also has to go and find Alexis. Today nearly everything he tried suck so loud. Every touch was too heavy and every pass was to them. Just goes to show that shit happens even to the best of us. He will come back though it’s been a while now – Sunday would be nice. But I was happy to see him return to the center of the attack. Again, it did not help that the ballboy was off to the right. When Alexis would create and then look up to the static ballboy who’d not attack the box or the ball he must have wondered what team he was on. Let’s pray we get the Ox back on Sunday.

Xhaka was imperious again. This set up suits him. All good things ran through him. And he connected well with Ozil. The defense now look for Xhaka to release the ball to him. This helps our fluency.

Not that we were by any means great today. But we were a little better. Just a smidge. And we need to be better this Sunday. I’d easily settled for a point now. There is no way we can win there – if we do I’ll go out an by a ton of lotto tickets. That team is way better than us and they have a winning mentality. They will know we’re vulnerable. If they beat us then they are assured of finishing above us for the first time since electricity was invented. In addition they have the dual motivation of still striving for the title and also killing off our Champions League aspirations.

My only hope is that we are not embarrassed. We need to expect an onslaught and be ready for battle. The atmosphere will be intense and toxic. We can’t afford any weakness. They are a better team so we have to have the right mental attitude. More semi-final and less Crystal Palace. More backbone and less Watford. It will be a high tempo pressing game from them. we will need to find the best from Alexis and hope that the Ox returns. This is not a game for the ballboy. I’d also revert to Holding on the left. Basically it should be the Semi-final team without Giroud. Not that I’m in love with DW23 but he at least has some mobility.

Though I should be enjoying the warm glow of 3 points that we were fortunate to gain I’m more worried about how my weekend will go. I’ve been worrying about Sunday for too long. This could be painful.

– LB7

 

 

April 24th – Make Arsenal Great Again

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Apologies for my absence. I’ve been on a top secret scouting mission to South America and Eastern Europe. Thankfully as no-one reads this blog this information can still be considered confidential. I can reveal though that I’ve identified a midget double left-footed inside right back with a beard that is just 5 years old. I have it on good authority that my recommendation to AW to sign him is being taken under the most serious consideration. I believe it’s coming down to the details of what coloured smarties and m&m this child prodigy prefers.

Moving on, first a quick review of the F. A. Cup Semi-Final. Sp*rs Lost. Te He. And, not that it’s that important, we won.

Of course, with our new tactics of three at the back (whereas we used to have no-one at the back) we’re now more like a poor mans Chelsea – as will be seen in a month’s time. Essentially we parked the bus and waited out Shitty. In the first half we sucked but the refs and linesman were worse.

There’s no way there was a penalty against Our Ox. But they had a goal disallowed because it was believed it went out first. How stupid is the fucking FA? This is all about using technology. They can determine whether it or did not go over the goal-line for a goal but won’t use it for other instances where the ball does (or does not) cross the line. Of course, their little useless winger dragged down Alexis in the box and there was no way we’d get that call. But 1-1 on the penalty front.

As the game wore on we got more into it and started to resemble a football team. Albeit one which includes AR8. But you got to love Ox these last two games (yeh har – two whole games! – we have a superstar). He was outstanding yesterday – our own little Erickson with the way he crossed the ball.

And that defense (a.k.a the bus). How good was BigEars? Best I’ve seen him play. And Holding was very impressive. Koz held them all together. And behind them we can Cech moving around at the pace of a 90-year old but still managing to make the odd game rescuing save.

No sympathy for Shitty here. They have way too much money and way too little class. They had their chances to win but even with all that money they could not find a way to pick up apart a defense that has let in three goals to Crystal Palace, Liverpool and the Great West Brom.

Bolton and Burnley should be proud of us.

So, how do we change this? How do we Make Arsenal Great Again? I’ve been giving this an unhealthy amount of thought recently given our performances this calendar year. How do we rediscover our creativity and dominance? How do we recalibrate Arsenal to the first 10 years of AW? No simple question and no simple answer. But rest assured you will be disappointed. Anyone that’s read any commentary on this site will no that this is the place not to come to for logical answers or intelligent insight.

I’ll start to explore this profound concept in the balance of this article and, over the coming months and through the summer, I’ll continue to flesh out the details.

So let’s get started.

  1.  Change the Arsenal crest back to how it was in the 1990’s before this modern eye-sore was  introduced.
  2.  Re-Build Highbury and move back there.
  3.  Refuse support to Arsenal for anyone named Piers Morgan.
  4.  Increase the size of the opposition goal to 10 foot by 15 foot (in either dimension).
  5.  Go back in a time-machine and transport a young Viera, Henry and, of course, Bergkamp  into the present day.
  6.  Change the name of our stadium back to Highbury.
  7.  Hire Mike Dean as a sex therapist and snap some nasty pictures of Dean, Atkinson and  Taylor in a three way then sell the pictures to the papers and get all three banned for life.
  8.  Hack into the chip in the football and reprogram it to indicate a goal for us whenever the  ball passes the half-way line.
  9.  Hire Michael Owen as the manager for all opposition teams.
  10.  Borrow or steal Hazard, Kante, Silva, Kompany, Rashford, De Gea and Fernandinho on (free)  season long loans.

There, that should do it. Insightful and critical analysis at it’s best. And this is just the start. This will be sure to Make Arsenal Great Again (“MAGA”). I’m going to trademark, copywrite and tradecopy and markwrite this. So hands off. And some people say I’m a fool!

– LB7

 

 

 

 

 

April 6th – Arsenal 3 West Ham 0

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Finally. A win. But why am I so angry? Why did I not enjoy that victory?

They are so rare these days. Because we had to watch the son of Dean ref this game. How fucking insanely shitty was Martin Atkinson? How is it people as retarded as this are allowed to ref professional games? How can one ref be so fucking useless? How can the standard of EPL football be so high but the referees so abject and absolutely incompetent. The only good news is that we’re unlikely to see him again this season – I pray.

Really, how could he not give us a penalty when Theo was pushed over in the first half? In all I think there was four clear penalty shouts for 4 clear penalties. Yet we got none of them. On another day against a better team they could have been game changing mistakes. What about when Monreal was so clearly fouled in the box in the second half? How could that not be given? Where is the accountability for outright incompetence? Throughout the game he continued to make an array of bad decisions. Calling fouls that weren’t and not given fouled that clearly were. What about in the first half when Ozil was clearly fouled. The list goes on. I’m not sure he was biased as I know we got some fouls called for us that weren’t but given that we had the vast majority of the possession we suffered most of his fucked up calls. So, the only question is who is a bigger, fucked up wanker. Atkinson or Dean? Hardly matters. Neither is capable of being a professional ref at this level. Idiots like this make Clattenburg and Oliver look like superstars.

Can we play West Ham each week please? Because they were shit. I was nervous with Carroll playing – naturally- but he was ineffective. To his credit Mustafi won every aerial dual today. I can’t remember Carroll winning a single header. Unfortunately, this was offset by the totally predictable pathetic distribution of Mustafi. I don’t get this. Why the fuck don’t we learn our lessons and make sure he does not get left with the ball at his feet. We should have midfielders screaming at him to receive the ball. I can remember four occasions today when Mustafi attempted long ball passes; two were intercepted within 30 yards and two were wildly over hit. But those first two could have led to (against a better team) to counterattacks. And, as with  ManCity, there were a few instances where he went charging forward to intercept the ball and left a gap behind him in defense. I like his aggressiveness but I don’t trust his judgement or distribution. He works hard but I’m not convinced be has the composure to be a long0term, effective center-half for us.

Alongside him Bellend had a torrid first half. I will never understand why the fastest, pacyest player on our team feels compelled, in a foot race on the half way line feels the need to rugby tackle their player thereby conceding both a free-kick and receiving a yellow card. Too often Bellend is getting beaten and making poor decisions. Maybe it’s the second year blues for him. But he’s not progressed this year. His judgement has not developed and he gets beaten too easily. Moving forward he’s improving and he nearly had a beautiful goal care of Alexis in the second half.

So though we won what turned out to be an easy victory I found myself bubbling over with anger – at least until we scored. The first half was slow and ponderous. Alexis had a chance care of Chaka. And then Theo had a chance that went into the side netting. We started slowly and gingerly found our way as we also realized that West Ham offered no threat. In the second half we played at a higher tempo. And we were the beneficiaries of an important Ozil goal that looked like it could have been offside against Alexis. And then Theo found a way to score again. He does have the instinct even if he does not have the talent.

Another disappointment today was Welbeck. I still can’t believe he missed the chance that Theo set up for him in the second half. In the first half he was anonymous – barely involved. And then to miss that chance as we were only 1-0 up was criminal. We’re stuck between a mobile, fast-paced center forward who can’t score and a lumbering, slow one that can. Giroud scored another classic left foot curler. But he can’t actually be part of our forward line as it takes him ½ an hour to get form the half-way line to their penalty area. He just does not fit. I had wished that we’d have played Welbeck on the left and Alexis in the middle. Alexis, in the first half, did not seem engaged. He improved in the second half but I still don’t’ feel like he’s fully onboard with this team. He seems unhappy. I’m sure he’s going to be on his way at season end. He does not have faith in this team.

Ozil worked his way into the game. Not his worst game. He came hunting for the ball more often and looked for movement ahead of him – of which there was little. But he scored and was involved in the second one as well. Overall an improved performance but you can see his confidence is low.

Moving to the more positive end of the spectrum Martinez was very solid in goal. Good distribution and a couple of important saves. In front of him Gabriel was solid and focused the entire game. Elneny was solid – not earth shattering but OK. He got out muscled a few times in defensive areas but overall he linked up well always looking for our man of the match. Our man who still deserves his name correctly spelt – Chaka. He ran the midfield today. No yellow card but physical. Stayed on his feet and most of the time was in the right position defensively. He was the fulcrum through which all our play started. Elneny defers to him and gets the ball to his feet. Chaka sprayed the ball well and moved the team forward. He’s still not found the right partner but today he was our best player.

Unfortunately, AR8 made his appearance again but that was offset by The Ox. A classic piece of attacking play created the Giroud goal. But AR8 just needs another injury. He just does not fit in this team. For some other team he could be an asset but not for us. I know I sound like a broken record but he’s too slow and he takes too many touches. We can just about carry Theo – because he does at least score. But we can’t also carry AR8 (along with Mustafa, Welbeck and many others).

But we won. Phew. Relief all round. Today – in the second half – was as close as we came to looking like a football team this calendar year. We are still way off our best. The balance is still wrong. We will struggle for the rest of the season for sure but we still have a chance of ending up in the top 4. I think it’s unlikely, but it’s possible. If the other teams can only screw up more than us we have a chance. I don’t believe we deserve it. We’re just not good enough. And we haven’t been all season. We were for a couple of months in September and October. But we’ve not got our balance and rhythm right for a long time. So today was a step in the right direction but we’ve still got to make many more steps in our journey to recovery. It’s like Arsenal Anonymous – the 12 step program to recovery. And we’re only two steps in.

-LB7