Author Archives: bradybergkampandbeyond

April 7th – Everton 1 Arsenal 0

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We just had to play an away game. Arsenal are persecuted. It’s not just Kevin Friend or Mike Dean. But somehow the EPL forces us to play away. And then, to boot, to go up north where it can be slightly chilly with the home teams fans boo-ing us. It’s just not fair. It has to stop. Where is the UN Human Rights Council. How can this injustice persist?

Crap. And Boring. And poor team selection. Some was injury induced of course. No Kosclieny, Xhaka or Ramsey. But it’s hard to watch a team with Mustafa, Mickeytarrien and Elneny. We lost the game in the first half. And then lost it again in the second half. In many ways we were fortunate to only lose by one goal.

We had a few chances. Unfortunately, Cigarette was extinguished in front of goal today. The rest of his link-up and defensive play was excellent. But that breakaway in the first 10 minutes when he was unable to get a shot on target was the game-turning miss. But I also don’t understand how that was not a penalty by Zouma who came in like a freight-train on him. But given the multiple decisions we saw thereafter by Friend thereafter it was not too surprising.

There was no luck today. Of course, that was an illegal foul throw – but you can’t blame the ref for that – that’s the linesman job. However, you never see that called. Then they had the rub of the green as, after Jagielka won the header, it ricocheted back off Kolinsac to easily score.

We then had to put up with Friend awarding every free-kick to them and every yellow card to us. The one to Sokratis, who was excellent all day, was particularly painful as we won’t have him for our next two games. Having him in the center is key to our defense. He reads the game so well and is generally calm. Unlike the idiot to his right you could have been sent off in the second half when he clattered Clavert-Lewin into the boards. I don’t mind the foul itself. Anyone playing for Everton with a double-barrel name is deserving of that treatment. But he’d had ample time to just put the ball into touch. I don’t fancy Troy Deeney without Sokratis. It was a borderline foul for Sokratis but somehow warranted a yellow from Friend. And to think Dean was on the side-line as the fourth referee does not bare thinking about.

Elneny was way out of his depth today. As he normally is. Playing him was a mistake – recognized by our half-time changes. In fact, today Emery lost us the first half by his starting selection. Throughout the game Mickeytarrien was dire. He lost the ball too often and was too slow with his release. Combine that with the ineffectiveness of Maitlaind-Niles on the right and the languid Ozil meant that there was no movement or creativity in the first half. We made this too easy for Everton. But, before all this transpired Cigarette should have scored and/or had a penalty.

Th second half was better care of Ramsey but we could not take the few chances we had; at least we had more urgency. We could have played for another hour and I don’t think we’d have scored. When you see Cigarette slip in the box after a slick pass from the surprisingly effective Ob1 you know it’s not your day. And when Ramsey puts one off-target from just around the penalty spot you know you’re fucked.  There were very few bright spots today. Guendouzi was industrious but picked up a dubious Friend yellow card which restricted his aggression. But he worked hard and tries to move forward. Paired alongside Elneny is tough on him though. Neither made themselves available for the outlet balls. And our wing-backs were both poor. It’s not often Kolinsac gets subbed at half time. But today he was shit.

But by that standard most of the team could have been replaced. They all seemed to be too weak in possession. Monreal had one of his worst games. He lost most of his duels and was always complaining and moaning but continued to allow himself to be out muscled. Of course, the few times he was strong Friend awarded fouls against him. He was beaten too many times today and added nothing going forward.

It’s just not reasonable for the Premier League to expect us to play so many away games. Maybe next year we can have two leagues. The Home BPL and the Away BPL. We would finally be champions. Then we could play in the Home Champions league. Though finding opponents to come and play us might be challenging.

Emery does not have the players or squad he needs. Elneny and Mickeytarrien and our retard German defender are not of the quality we need. Everyone knows this. Maitland-Niles is still unproven. A defense that had Kosclieny, Holding and Bellerin would have changed this game. But all teams have to withstand injuries. And that’s where our depth fails us.

But these wankey players does not quite speak to why we drop some many away points.  It’s been pleasing to have been in 4th place (and we still are) and even 3rd place. But there is no doubt we are not a Champions League team. It’s great to beat Man United and draw against Sp*rs but you can’t lose these games. Not when you still have to go to Watford, Wolves Leicester and Burnley. Given we have not won one of our last nine away games the probability of us winning all these games is pretty much zero. Winning one would be a starting point. But beyond that it would be a miracle.

To win one away requires a different mental attitude. Not the one that was on display today. There has to be on-field leadership and physical strength. How different are these issues from AW days? Though it’s improved it’s still, at core, the same issue. That’s where a change in personnel comes in. And that’s where transfer money becomes a big factor.

I felt resigned as soon as that goal went in; resigned to another underperforming Arsenal away performance. The game was so predictable and dreary. We even managed to make them look like a good team. All the other teams around us have gone out of their way to drop important points. They have tried to wave us through into the Champions League. But it will still require us to win these remaining games. So, start planning for the HoHopeCup for next year.

Which leads us to Thursday. Which is at least at home. But we need Kosclieny back. And Torreira. And the atmosphere will help. We will surely get a reaction. But the pathway is difficult. Arguably tougher than Liverpools. Would you prefer Porto to Napoli? But there will be motivation and focus unlike what we saw today. This week could be the making or breaking of our season. It’s the pressure end of the season; it’s time for Emery to pull this team out of the shadow of AW and those most recent failures.

  • LB7

March 10th – Arsenal 2 Manchester United 0

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…And we’re back. Back in the top four. Back to winning big games. Back to keeping clean sheets. And back to being given penalties and back to scoring them.

Where to start? OMG, that was so enjoyable. It felt a little like last week. We came out and dominated, we were aggressive and created a number of chances that we managed to spurn. But then they also repaid the compliment. Lukaku hit the bar when it was easier to score and, Fred hit the post and in-between Shaw created multiple chances for them.

Again, Leno was outstanding today. Two weeks running now he’s literally saved us. Today was even more impressive. His positioning and reading of the game helped nullify one Lukaku breakaway in the second half. He movement off his line in the first half block Lukaku. His distribution was better. And overall, his calmness stabilized our defense.

Sokratis was brilliant again. He and Kosclieny form a solid partnership. Kosclieny always looking one tackle away from another injury. But between them they nullified ManU. But Sokratis demonstrated controlled aggression throughout the game, read the game perfectly and imposed his character on the game.

The team selection, again, surprised me – like last week. But, again, OneEye got it spot on. I could not believe he played both Ozil and Ramsey. And he dropped Ob1. And Mickeytarrien (though he could be injured). And Guendouzi. And he played Maitland-Niles and Kolinsac. And he played both Cigarette and Aubameyang. And he reverted the shape of the team to a back three. But it worked perfectly. In the first 20 minutes ManU had no response to our onslaught.

Cigarette should have at least gotten onto one of Kolinsac’s crosses. We should have troubled De Gea more than we did. It took a spectacular and speculative shot from Xhaka to beat him. But we deserved it. With Ramsey playing deeper alongside Xhaka we restricted their ability to play through the middle. And our wingbacks provided cover for the back three. Down both flanks we out played them. We dominated possession and controlled the game in the first half. Ozil was involved and Ramsey worked so hard to track Pogba that Pogba was barely in the game.

The second half was a little bit more subdued than the frenetic pace of the first half. Man U had more possession but they created few outright chances because of the organization and physicality of our defense. Whether it was Xhaka diving into tackles in our box or Kosclieny throwing himself into block shots, they are put their bodies on the line – including Leno.

Maitland-Niles was a brave choice. He started the game with inconsistent distribution and took time to find the pace of the game. But as the game wore on, while still giving the ball away or losing the ball too much, he grew in his defensive duties. He had a testing time with Shaw, Rashford and Martial. But his recovery pace and concentration saw him, especially in the second half, win all the important tackles. By the end of the game he was completely wiped-out and desperate for the final whistle. He is a strange bird this one. He simultaneously shows calmness and maturity and yet makes some shit passes and gives away possession too easily. But he was a much better choice than our German Kamikaze meathead who, thankfully, stayed on the bench the entire game – his perfect position.

Both forwards squandered too many chances today. Cigarette though adds so much more to our overall game though. He works much harder and links up play much better. But each of them is going through a dry patch. It’s amazing we keep winning without any real goal contributions from them. Cigarette had another gilt-edge chance right after our second goal after the ball bounced over Lindelof but he somehow managed to miss the target. Too often the two of them would pass up the chance to shot in order to pass to the other. They have to be more selfish; they have to stop trying to be so intricate inside the box and just shoot.

Kolinsac is such an effective wing-back and yet a crummy full-back. With Monreal behind him, Kolinsac can dominate and create down the left. Throughout the game he bullied Young and set up numerous chances. Xhaka was able to continuously feed him the ball. Ramsey and Ozil linked up well with him. Most of our breakout came down that side. He even defended every now and then.

Of course, Man U are hobbled by injuries. But for a club and team who’ve spent, literally, billions of dollars on their players, they deserve no sympathy. They certainly had enough quality players on the pitch to mount a serious challenge and they had enough chances. Thankfully though they fell to Lukaku. But we outplayed them for too long. And they were too slow to react to our tactics. Thank you Ole!.

And thank you Lee Mason for the penalty. That’s some kind of Arsenal record – two penalties in two premier league games. Both in the same area of the box and neither of them seemed like penalties. We’ve, of course, seen them given against us way to often so it’s nice to see them go our way. And this time Aubameyang managed to actually score. From that point on I was way more relaxed. I thought Man U had one goal in them but not two. We continued to create chances and failed to convert them.

Ignoring the NoHopaCup, that’s 4 points from two top 6 games. We deserved six and should have had six but I’ll take 4 and would have taken that gratefully before these two games. In both games we played with energy and drive. And each was based on a different tactical set up. One was a defensive masterclass whereas today we were more expansive and attacking. And that is a credit to OneEye. I’ve been quite critical of him in the past few months and have doubted his suitability. I still remain skeptical but I’ve certainly been more impressed over the last month or so. His selections have been braver and his tactics more varied. I have little doubt that with the wonderful AW we would not have gained these results.

Here we sit in the top four with just 8 games left. Of course, we have ample experience to find a variety of ways to through away this advantage. I’m just grateful that we’re even in this position. Through the ebb and flow of the season I would not have predicted we’d be in this position. I believe we have fewer challenging games required to secure Champions League football via the premier league than through the NoHopaCup. I did not see the Rennes game but did see all the usual dramatic, bleating from Arsenal fans after a loss. We were one nil up and had a man sent off. We then lost. Go figure! Sure, we could have managed the game better and only lost by one goal but shit happens. Our fans are like petulant children (I think I have a few of those) who go into meltdown with one poor game. We just have to win by two goals and keep a clean sheet. It’s not like we’re playing Barcelona (shame it’s not PSG or Real Madrid). You need to be able to come back and win these games if you want to progress. So, let’s see if we can win with eleven men. We had a great reaction to Thursdays game. But that game was a shit reaction to the Sunday game. Let’s hope we don’t have the same reaction to this result.  

We know that European referees just love to give out yellow and red cards. The very best European refs are better than ours in England but the average European ref is even worse than ours (except for Mike Dean). Let’s hope we get home field advantage this Thursday. And then we’re onto another (and final) stupid fucking international break.

Did I ever mention how I hate FIFA? This is the worst time of the year to introduce these breaks just as the season is coming to a climax. After 30 games (with other breaks) it’s just starting to get exciting and yet we have to hit pause. Pretty soon FIFA would have expanded the World Cup to +150 teams so all these qualification and friendly games will be completely irrelevant. But they still schedule them in order to fill their coffers with yet more money. It’s all about their money.

With eight games left the top four has some interesting permutations. Chelsea are inconsistent and it’s not clear they have the mental fortitude to get into the top 4. Manchester United, even after todays’ loss, have clearly regained their mojo and will surely find their way into the top 4. If only they could have retained Mourinho for longer.

But in terms of pressure, you have to imagine that the Rental Boys are starting to sweat. As they get ready to move into their redecorated home they have to be considering the nightmare situation unfolding. As they lose to Burnley and now Southampton, with upcoming games against Liverpool and then Man City, they are in danger of not making the top 4. If we can hold steady for eight more games we just might be able to send Sp*rs into a financial meltdown situation. It’s too early to get too optimistic. But if they can lose a few more games and fail to qualify the financial impact ($70mm+) combined with the debt burden of their redecoration could impair their ability to both retain Erickson and Ali while also failing to attract any new players. If the gods are kind to us we could see everything implode under the financial weight of their debt and then see Pottechino leave under too much pressure. Oh what a wonderful dream this would be. I would even sacrifice our position in the top 4 to Chelski if that assured us that Sp*rs were locked out of the top 4. Happy days indeed.

A great day today and a wonderful weekend of results. Once we get past Thursday (one way or the other) we’ll enter suspended animation for a couple of weeks but we can sustain ourselves with the awareness of the pure panic that must now be running through the management and ownership at Sp*rs. We managed to navigate our way through our new stadium. Let’s hope they fail epically.

  • LB7

March 2nd – Sp*rs 1 Arsenal 1

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Football is a team game. And when you have Mustafa on your team you’re generally fucked. We should have taken all three points today. We were the better team. But we also had Mustafa who just had to have one of his panic, bonehead moments. Of course, Aubameyang did not help either.

The team selection was surprising but it worked. We played a controlled, counter-attack game. They rarely dominated or threatened our goal. In the second half it was just the one shot from the penalty. We shut them down and should have taken all three points. Before the game I was fearful of how we might be pulled apart and how unlikely it would be for the rental boys to lose three straight games. I would have accepted gleefully a point before the game. But now it feels much more like 2 points dropped. In watching the game I could see us grow in confidence and composure. There were too many of our players were playing too well. Too many of them actually turned up for a big game. How very un-Arsenal of them.

Leno made a brilliant double save in the first half and even if his distribution was somewhat wayward. Sokratis and Kosclieny were impervious today but my favorite player was Monreal. He was physical, defensively aggressive, creative going forward and generally impenetrable. What a pleasure it. Is to see him play as a regular left-back and how we’ve missed him this season.

Someone somewhere has made disparaging comments about both Ob1 and Mickeytarrien. Obviously that retard knows nothing about football. Today Ob1, as well as he played, was surpassed by Mickeytarrien. Both were more dominant in the first half. Ob1 in particular started strong. He took Trippier to the cleaners on a number of occasions. I’m sure having Monreal behind him helped. Nonetheless this was a more assured performance, in a big game, than we’ve seen in a while. And MickeyTarrien was excellent. He seemed to cover the entire pitch. And his distribution was excellent. Today he looked as good as he did when he first played for ManU. On todays performance (and mid-week) we can now claim that we got the better of that Sanchez trade. In the last few weeks, on his return from injury, we’re finally getting to see that creative player who can also work back and defend. These two were brilliant today.

Unfortunately, the chances to win the game fell to Cigarette and Aubameyang. Also season they’ve been so effective. But today, on the big stage in the big game they both let us down. Cigarette should have had two goals today. In the first two minutes and then later on when he shinned the ball wide. When he left the pitch you could see how self-aware he was at being taken off. Not upset with OneEye but disappointed with himself. And he should be. But at least he set up the Ramsey goal. We’ve seen this from him in the last few games – those missed chances have been hidden but the overall number of opportunities we’ve had to score in those games. But in these big games there are fewer chances. And as for Aubameyang. What a sit penalty. Even after our mental German that was the game for us right there. A shit penalty followed by a wasted chance when Ob1 cut the ball back. And, in a prior play, down the right hand side he managed to cross the ball behind the rejuvenated Ozil as he’d run into the box. Our two ace strikers letting us down; what a re the odds on that. Sp*rs have to consider themselves very lucky. From what we saw today they will have to rediscover themselves to stay in the top 4. We though are outside it now care of our gormless German.  We need to beat ManU without Torreira. It’s hard to see how our two aces can play this badly again.

How good was Ramsey’s goal? And how important was he with his work rate? We will miss him once he jumps to Juventus. Talking about box-to-box. He defined it today. As much as I love Ozil he just does not and cannot work that hard. The composure with which he sat Lorris on his arse was awesome. His link up play with both wing-backs was excellent and his ability to shut down their distribution was so important.

Guendouzi was interesting today. Funny how he only played 45 minutes. He’ll be playing more now with Torreira’s 3 match ban. He made some great tackles and with Xhaka provided the necessary defensive cover; they stopped Erickson and Son. But sometimes Guendouzi would be careless with his passing out of the back and exposure us to the counter-attack. He’s so young though that he’ll surely learn from these mistakes. But no-one would have guessed over the summer that he’d be starting in games such as these.

The referring was different today; in general, he allowed for a more physical game. Talyor gave two penalties that were not penalties. The linesman did not flag for the offside immediately before the penalty. But actually, Taylor allowed for a quite physical game in the first 80 minutes. That benefitted Sp*rs who were more physical in the challenges. Then, at the end we saw the normal Christmas handouts of yellow cards culminating in the red for Torreira. This will prove costly for us as we now lose him for the visit of ManU and two other games. Given all the other challenges in the game – the Rose one on Leno, Sissoko challenges and other Rose ones this one did not standout as any more reckless.

Today was two points dropped. But don’t tell me, any longer, that Sp*rs are a better team than us. Sure, they might be in the (non)Champions League and ahead of us in the table. But this season (in the PL only) we got the better of them. And today they had no game whereas we did. We were superior on the day and deserved to win. Replace Mustafa with any one of their defenders and we would have had all three points. So hopefully our short-term inferiority complex has been addressed.

The last five games have seen us revert to our improved early season performances. Today was a performance we would surely not have gotten under the great AW. We would not have been as tactically astute and as defensively solid (minus one dimwit German). That bodes well for OneEye. As critical as I’ve rightly been of him today we looked the better of the two managers. He got more out of his, arguably, less talented players that Pocahontas.  The substitutions were effective and we played the better football. Now we just need to buy ourselves another center-half and/or get Holding back into the team. And if we can drop our brainless German somewhere into the deep sea in the transfer window we’ll all be happier. Don’t ask for any money in return. Include a few burgers and beer. Just see if some poor soul will take him off our hands. Maybe if we leave him outside our Stadium early on a Thursday morning the dustbin men will pick him up from us and dispose of him. Of course our two great strikers were also responsible for the lack of three points but they have earned the right to have poor games. NotMusafa makes bonehead plays every single game. When insurance companies right up policies and try and define the word liability they specifically reference NotMustHave.

  • LB7

Feb 24th – Arsenal 2 Southampton 0

Published / by bradybergkampandbeyond

The reverse fixture and the reverse result. In the first half we created chances and took them. In the second half we were pedestrian and somehow managed to miss our chances.

Southampton were not so bad actually; they started brightly and then faded as the game went on. Their high pressure tactics were effective to an extent but yet yielded us chances. Our left hand side was where most of the creativity originated. Did I ever mention what a wonderful player Ob1 is? He set up the first goal and the second and was the able to make defense splitting passes. His final cross is still a little misguided – indecision is one of his weaknesses – but today is not the day to criticize him (there will be plenty of those to come). He linked up well with Kolinsac and dominated that side of the field.

OneEye got the selection right today. A better balance to our midfield. He restored, finally, the Torreira and Xhaka axis. It allows Xhaka more freedom even if he’s playing deeper than our Uruguayan. Some of Xhakas’ cross field passes in the first half were fantastic. There was one played from just inside the right half way line he played right across the field behind their right back to Ob1 which was perfect. In that first half even MIckeytarrien looked like a reasonable player. He linked up well with old man Licthensteinbergstein. They moved the ball quickly and pulled Southampton all over the place.

Of course we gave them chances. Why would we not? We are the Salvation army of chances. Especially to teams who are too shit to accept them. This time Leno was up to the task. A couple of good saves even if he seems a little casual on the ball at times. Our defense is so much better with Sokratis in it even if we did still play Mustafi. He was not at his worse today and did seem to attempt to stay on his feet rather than hurl himself into tackles. But give me the Greek over the German any day.

That half-time team talk must have been a real snoozer because as we again proved ourselves as a team of two half’s. But this time we reversed the ordering. As smooth as we looked in the first half and as crisp as our passing was, in the second half we were slow and unable to retain possession. We gave it away cheaply. As energetic and involved as Ramsey was in the first half he was a quiet in the second. But you could see why he’d been picked. He worked hard his entire allotted time to close down and compete for the ball. We will miss him next year.

As much as Southampton controlled the second half they were unable to generate any real chances. In fact, amazingly, we kept a clean sheet. Unlike, in the fixture at their place where we capitulated under pressure, today they threatened but did not really test us. Partly that was through solid defending and partly through ineptitude on their part. After bringing on the ugly Austin they then proceeded to ignore him. He was able to get one header off to our goal. But they seemed to forget how to cross the ball to him. That’s one of the reasons they will sink into that relegation zone. They are not as poor as Huddersfield or Fulham but they have to have more desire.  They should have been throwing the kitchen sink at us in the second half but preferred to play the ball around without any incisiveness.

Ozil is back. Finally. A nice cameo from him for 20 minutes. As disappointed as Ramsey was to be removed it’s a pleasure to have Ozil back on the pitch. His vision is unparalleled. That one little flick on to Aubameyang by the half way line set up another chance. As smooth as Ozil is he still, after 10+ years in the professional leagues, can’t seem to challenge in a tackle or jump to head the ball. This is just one of the reasons OneEye won’t pick him. But when the ball is at his feet he opens up the entire field for us.

Realistically we should have won by 3 or 4 goals today. As reactive and opportunistic as Cigarettes’ goal was today it’s mind-blowing how he missed his other chance in the first half. After more Ob1 inspired interplay and Kolinsac driving into the box to see Cigarette blast it over from such close range seemed to drain his confidence in front of goal. He works so hard and links up the play so well. But today he missed too many chances. But maybe Aubameyang was an even worse culprit. Given the limited amount of time on the field he could and should have scored a brace. On too many occasions when he broke with the ball he dithered in front of goal and made the wrong choice. It seemed like his love affair with Cigarette clouded his judgement. I’m sure if he’d have been the lone striker he would have shot at goal. Or at least had conviction. But today he made the wrong choices and barely threatened their goalie. Hopefully he’s saving his goals for when they matter – in particular the game after next. But against a better team we’d have been punished for these misses.

Against these lower table teams – and especially at home – we have found the way to three points. In the waning Wenger years we would struggle in these games. So today, and hopefully against Bournemouth, we’ll earn those 3 points. The issue is how does this team figure out a way to compete against the better teams. And, unfortunately, Sp*rs are a better team. After 20 or 30 years of complete domination, their time has come. Not sufficiently for them to actually win any trophies. But enough for them to maul us and crush us at their rented place. Because our team is a solid 5th or 6th place team – depending on how much money Chelski want to spend, prior to being banned from any signings. We are an A- team with a, possibly, B+ manager. We’ve added a couple of talented players – Torreira and Guendouzi – but we need more. It’s unlikely we’ll make it to the Champions League this year. With the Ole resurgent Mancs looking likely to grab that spot and the quality of the teams left in the NoHopaCup, our chances are sorely limited. Though this will impact our ability to attract players so will the lack of money at our disposal. But, as others have shown, money is not everything. It is at the level of Man City but for others it’s an intelligent scouting and recruitment framework. Again, look at our recent two summer signings.

Offset that against our prior January signings. I know Aubameyang scores more goals than he misses (just) and he’s been vital for us this season. But the amount of money we splashed on him and Mickeytarrien so late in their careers was a sign of desperation not of a strategic plan to improve our team. The crux of the issue for Arsenal is that we need to be able to assess the manager. I know others want to give him a couple of years to prove himself. But live does not wait that long. If he’s the right guy with the wrong players then he warrants all the time we can give him. But if he’s not the right guy then we should bite the bullet and look to move on and progress. At this stage of the season I’m still unconvinced. And that’s not a great indication. There are so many times when he can’t seem to make the right selections and neither can he manage our more creative (and frustrating) player. Between now and the end of the season that is what I’m looking for. Some sign that this is the right guy. That this is AW mark II and not Moyes mark I. We know and understand our team. We can all identify the weaknesses and the required changes. More than half way into the season we are very unlikely to learn anything more about the players in our team. We’ve seen enough to judge and understand them. However, for our manager, the time through the rest of the season will hopefully answer that most important question of whether we have the right manager required for our future. We should not be too clouded by the three points today. It’s against the rented boys and then ManU that we’ll see the gulf in class and then judge whether OneEye is helping us or not. Not that I believe the senior management at Arsenal have the appetite for any management change. They will give OneEye at least two years if not three. Let’s just hope that does not result in mediocrity for Arsenal for the next three years.   

I’d hoped to have been a little more upbeat today. We got three points along with some creative play (minus the missed opportunities). But it’s not the short-term that worries me so much now that we’ve overcome the mighty Bate. It’s how we’re positioned for the upcoming years. So, bring on Bournemouth but keep your eye open for our longer-term future. Oh, and, come you Burnley!

– LB7

February 9th – Huddersfield 1 Arsenal 2

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Sloppy Arsenal outwit witless Huddersfield. I used to think Cardiff were crap but this lot take the biscuit. Them not us.

It made for a dull game to watch. The entire game was underwhelming. But rather than find a way to throw the points away as we did at Southampton and Brighton today they were so bad they could only score once. And then we had to do it for them.

It’s hard to get too excited by games like today or performances like this. We did enough to win but it was a strange performance. In the second half we could barely string any passes together and yet we had chances to score the third.

We made strange substitutions today. We finished the game with Elneny and Mustafa on the pitch and we still won. I was particularly impressed with Elneny’s clearance for them when we used his body strength to push Cigarette off the ball to head the ball out for their goal kick. When he came on he seemed to play high up the field and not worry about defending. That made no sense as did taking off Torreira. But not much made sense today. Apart from the three points.

Our first half performance was pretty balanced and highly effective. Ob1 was able to contribute and set up the first goal. But why, after a performance like last week, he’s actually selected is beyond me. There is either no accountability or there’s a deficit of available players – or both. And then to see MIckeyTarrien is always worrying. But he also helped us in the first half. Both tended to fall over at vital times but both helped create our goals. And we should have had more in both halfs. Whereas they had no clue until they reverted to playing like Burnley.

How impressive was Mustafa today? One of his most consistent performances. Right from his first pass he was able to deliver it directly to the sidelines through a 90% success rate of finding the space just on the other side of the touchline. His distribution today was consistent and thoroughly embarrassing. He really does look clueless but safer in a back three than back four. Some of his passing was truly laughable and pathetic. We’re just fortunate that it was against a rag tag Huddersfield.

Unfortunately Maitland-Niles seems to have been studying Mustafas’ ways. A number of crucial infield passes completely exposed our defense – one in each half. As polished and calm as he looks on the ball he’s decision making is too Ob1-like for me. And the simple mistakes are a little worrying. The square pass just outside the corner of the penalty box in the second half was particularly suicidal.

Today Guendouzi and Torreira reverted back to prior games. Neither seemed that comfortable and neither was as influential as last week. Often they were overrun in midfield. Neither was able to create much – that all came from the wings via Maitland-Niles, Ob1 and Mickey.

In truth Huddersfield, if they had even one of our strikers, would have been able to score a couple of goals. But then we had numerous chances in the second half that Ob1 managed to fluff. Against a decent team we’d have paid for those mistakes.

This review is as disjointed as our game today. There was very little to admire but it never seemed like we’d lose and, once we sneaked the first goal, quite likely we’d win. But there was little to inspire us. We rarely were able to put passes together. And that was compounded by the sloppy play of Mustafi, Maitland-Niles and Kolinsac. Too often we’d give the ball away cheaply and get out muscled.

This was a blah game. But still one we had to win. Leno was pretty suspect today. That one time in the first half when he came charing out to intercept their free-kick was unnerving. His distribution was not great either – kicking out of bounds a couple of times.

Cigarette worked hard; competed well and picked up a goal. On a number of occasions good runs and positions were wasted because Ob1 was unable to make the right pass. Maitland-Niles is a mini-clone of Bellerin. Very effective when he’s attacking, with a great touch and nice footwork but careless in defense and poor with his defensive passing.

Unfortunately Mustafa is a bigger clone of a dead, one-legged elephant. Which, in many ways, is insulting to any elephant I’ve met. And I’ve meet a few in my time. They surely have a superior football IQ to Mustafi and get paid a hell of a lot less. Today was borderline funny to see to which supporter in the stand would the ball go to. Right from his first misplaced touch. Luckily there was Kosclieny alongside him, still working his way back to full fitness just before his retirement to the French Mediterranean. One perfect clearance stopped a certain goal. But overall he’s so much calmer and experience than our German retard. But then so is a dead, one-legged elephant.

Now we’re off to the NoHopaCup. A couple of games against a team no-one has ever heard of (no, not Arsenal). Maybe Ozil will get some playing time. I would hope so but doubt it will happen. I’m also hoping that Torreira was removed as a precaution. And dare I say it, we need Xhaka back so we can play three in midfield. And then we need to find Aubameyang. But as long as we don’t misplace Cigarette I’ll remain an optimist.

-LB7

February 3rd – Man City 3 Arsenal 1

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Let’s start with the good news. We don’t have to play these guys again this season. The bad news is that Ob1 is still alive.

Even by our immeasurably low standards our start was breathtaking. How is it possible for Ob1 to be such a num-nuts. How low a football IQ do you have to have in order to try dribbling out from the corner of your own penalty box? And in the first minute of the game? Stupid does not do justice to this level of incompetence. Through most of this season we’ve actually seen this muppet improve and contribute more. But today it was a throwback back to the bad old days of the last few years. Shocking and embarrassing. Thereafter Ob1 was anonymous. His confidence was shot and he contributed nothing. He was a liability on the right hand side the entire game; scared of the ball and scared of their players. Though he has some ability and skill I’m pretty sure that at this point his fundamental problem is two-fold. A lack of confidence and self-belief and absence of football IQ – though that could be three reasons. And it was that lack of awareness (is that four?) that caused him to make the wrong choice at the wrong time.  Of course the mistake was amplified by Mustafa dawdling out and keeping everyone onside. Another one with no clue how to play the game.

No sane person actually thought we could go up there and beat Man City. But we should have at least been able to give them a game and to show progress in this team. How can you then give a goal away within the first minute. That is beyond belief and reminds us of the days under Arsene.

Let’s flip to the good news – because there was some. Torreira was outstanding – resilient, hard-working and relentless. Alongside him Guendouzi had his best game possibly of the season. Combined, these two work so hard. Unfortunately their wing-backs let them down. But back to the good news – Monreal was excellent in defense as was Kosclieny who continued his resurrection. Cigarette looked dangerous and Aubameyang likewise worked hard. Unfortunately, this formation lacked any creativity (cough cough Mr. Ozil) so neither really got a sight of goal. In the second half we did not have a shot on goal.

Against a team with such quality and skill as Man City you need your full complement of players. Unfortunately any team with both Mustafa and Ob1 fails that test. Both were abysmal. Ironically, the fear had been the inclusion of Lichtenstein. He’s just a few years younger than me and slightly slower off the mark. But when you have the lack of intelligence and commitment in front of you from Ob1 you merely expose the old man to the elements (him not me). They were always going to target Lichtenstien today. All three goals came from that area of the pitch. And each time it was Ob1 who was culpable. I was surprised that OneEyeEmery did not make the change at half-time. In the big games you need to see who turns up. Not Ob1 that’s for sure. I can’t therefore blame Licthenstien for being old or at fault for todays goal. Maybe my disappointment in the abject performance of Ob1 has blinded me to the mistakes Lictehnstein made. But you can’t blame him for being old – blame God for that.

The surprise today was that we managed to equalize. And then show some fight. In a reversal of our normal behavior, after the shabby goal we gave them, we actually played well in the first half. It was the second half where we disappeared. Of course, some of that was due to the effort we had to expand in the first half chasing their shadows. They really are a good team. But, today, in the first half we went some way to matching them. So, it was not all bad news.

The shape and organization of the team was better. We were more disciplined and played more as a unit.  The defensive cover that Torreira provided was excellent. He only got beaten a couple of times when he guessed (wrongly) which way Silva was swaying. And then Guendouzi would link up their play quickly. And both dropped deep to receive the ball. Not that that stopped Mustafa smashing the ball upfield to their players. Did I mention that this guy is crap? We need one of our Greeks back ASAP. It’s remarkable that Mustafa is incapable of modifying his game to learn any lessons. In the same way I’m incapable of making new observations about his incompetence. By the start of the next season he’ll be gone or relegated to the number 4 center half.  

We had our first glimpse of Suarez today. Too soon to judge but he looks light weight. I think my arm weighs more than him. He had the Ob1 uncertainty in defending and was easily pushed off the ball. He’ll have to adjust to the physicality of the game in England. But he got off the ball quickly and meanders in field looking to be involved. I just need to figure out why he needs both his names on his jersey. Is that because he wants to make it more expensive for us? Is it because we’ve got another Suarez hidden somewhere? Either way, his bar for grabbing a place in the team is pretty low. Today was not the day to judge him.

OneEye might have learned a fair amount today about his players. He’s now got a young midfield backbone. He’s now settled on two up front. He’s just got to figure out how to link them up into the overall play. That’s where the enigma that is Ozil comes into play. Why we did not get rid of him in the latest window is puzzling. I believe he’s still one of the most creative players in the EPL. If I was manager he’d be one of my first picks. But if you don’t believe in him and won’t pick him then offload him now. OneEye should have pushed him out. Or whoever is now running our club. We should have offload him to PSG. Keeping him is a waste if you don’t believe in him. If your formation and tactics don’t allow you to select him for any games against the top 5 what’s the point? If you can only pick him when playing home games against the bottom 6, do we really need to spend that money? We should have forced him out. Again, I think he should be playing. Look at Coutinho at Liverpool. He did not defend by they found a way to make him excel. This is what worries me about OneEye. He has a world-class player but can’t seem to manage his resources to get Ozil into the team. So as well as we were organized today it was hard to see how we could recover from their second goal. He prefers to bring on a player be are not interested in retaining rather than Ozil. Here’s a player, Ramsey, who we should retain, that we won’t. A player that is destined for Italy with no future at our club. And yet, he gets more playing time than our most creative player? How does this make any sense?

At the start of the year we had low expectations for this team. And we might reach those levels. We won’t finish in the top 4 and we might or might not be successful in the NoHopaCup. But, as when Leicester won the league, I think we’ll look back on missed opportunities. It’s not often that Chelski will be this inconsistent. It’s not often that ManU will fail to play for the first half of the season. We had our chance to boost our chances of the top 4 but we’ve blown it. And we’ve done so because we’ve all been fixated on the long-term progress of this club. Looking for a verification that OneEye is the right guy and that this club is going in the right direction. But that also means our lowering of expectations has allowed us to miss an opportunity. Next year is going to be way harder than this. Which brings us back to today. After that shocking start we found a way to recover; to stabilize the team and make a competitive game of it. But you can’t carry two players and one grand-parent.

– LB7

December 16th – Southampton 3 Arsenal 2

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Is this the true Arsenal? The Old Arsenal? Because we threw this away like the old Arsenal. The defending was like the old Arsenal. And a typical way to start the Christmas period.

Three headed goals and three defensive mistakes. And now that’s two games where we’ve reverted to last years performances. Maybe that was to be expected. And now we’ve finally lost a game we can stop hiding behind that irrelevant statistic. Maybe now we can focus instead on the issues within the team.

First off, the goalkeeper. His distribution helps this team; his comfort in the ball provides stability to the back four. But, if I remember correctly from my extensive football coaching sessions, the primary point of a goalkeeper is to stop the other team scoring. And today, in particular with their winning goal, he failed miserably. Will Emery persist with Leno? I suspect so. But Cech must be wondering what must happen for him to get playing time in the EPL. I would not entirely blame Leno for the loss but he’s certainly culpable. On that last goal his starting position, as they broke forward, was all wrong and subsequently he never recovered.

Clearly the defense was a mess today. This was game a little too early for Koscielny. He was at fault or at least involved in all three of their goals. He lost Ings for the first two and then should have been able to track Austin for the third. I suspect with Sokratis playing they would not have scored at least one of those goals – he would have at least challenged them more aggressively. But it’s hard to be too critical on his first real game for 6 months.

It’s remarkable with some many defenders unavailable we should lose two more in the course of the game. Bellerin has been one of our bright areas this year and we missed him in the second half. And with Lichtensteiner off the pitch we were a little more exposed for their last goal.

We lost the goal through Ozil trying to dummy the ball and then Monreal was out of position. But there was limited midfield cover thereafter. But that’s because, as was the case last week, the midfield was unbalanced. With Xhaka having to play as one of the three center-halfs, we end up with no creativity in midfield. No Ozil and no Ramsey but Guendouzi and Torreira. The latter is pushed further forward and is therefore unable to protect the defense as much.

Then we have the enigma that is Ob1. He helped set up the first goal with an incisive pass to Monreal. But overall his game is reverting back to AW-like performances. How many times does he receive the ball and pass it backwards? A month ago he would have taken the ball forward. It looks like  half way into the season and he’s already run out of ideas. And as for his shooting? In the second half he should have at least hit the target when Aubameyang backheeled it too him. Today was his more ineffectual performance. He seems to have run out of ideas and confidence.

Aubameyang had a few chances to score today but was denied by some good defending. He worked hard but seems to be missing that final spark. He seemed to pick up when Cigarette came on but he’s ratio of goal to chances is not so good over the last few weeks. 

There were periods today where we dominated and seemed to be fully engaged but as the game wore on we lost our direction and rive. There was no clear driving force of urgency. A low bar I know, but we were better than we were against Huddersfield. But as the game wore on we missed that spark. It did not appear with Ozil. For someone coming back after a month off and trying to force there way back into the starting eleven I would have hoped for more intensity – not that that is an Ozil metric.

What a weird egg that Mickeytarrien is. Two goals – two vital goals but he’s still not the right guy for this team. That first goal was the epitome of team patience. I can’t imagine how many passes were involved. And it was a brilliant header. But he’s overall contribution is still not helpful to this team. On the breakaways he does not have the acceleration of the other players nor the strength. There was one clear instance in the first half where he lost momentum because we could not sustain the speed of the attack. It seems churlish today to go after him – and he certainly was not to blame for the defeat. But longer term we have to rectify this. I still don’t see how he can be in the starting elven over Cigarette. Maybe this is forced by our defensive problems.

And that’s the heart of the problem today. We concede too many goals. Pretty basic really. Not rocket science. Maybe Koscielny brought back all the old AW experiences today. But until we solve this age old problem we’ll be fucked. I’ve never thought we were a top 4 team. When you look at the results around us it’s pretty apparent. Even a shitty ManU can manage a draw at Southampton. Today we should have definitely earned a draw. It was only poor organization in midfield and weak defending that caused this defeat. The poor organization derives from the personnel issues with the back line and then destabilizes the midfield. But teams need to be able to withstand those issues through a season. In fact, since that great victory over Sp*rs we’ve basically been crap.

The next test is to see which direction Emery takes his team selection in the next EPL game. If he still insists on starting both Ob1 and Mickeytarrien then my hopes for this team will diminish. There is no prospect of these two, long-term, being part of a top 4 team. We need to start Cigarette and we need the defensive cover to be Xhaka and Torreira. It’s funny to consider the importance of Xhaka in this context. The last few years he’s been a liability. Today we saw a couple of his typical suicidal passes from the back. But alongside Torreira he’s a much improved player. And, most importantly, we need Torreira in that deepest defensive cover position. With Guendouzi alongside him he ventures further up field and that exposes an already unstable defense.

Today was the wake up call. This was the type of game I’d been assuming would be happening as soon as we changed manager. That poor, weak away defensive performances that reminded us all of typical AW team losses towards the end of his reign of glory. This is the game that begs the questions as to whether this team – this club – has truly evolved and changed. To the extent that it will help us understand whether we’ve actually made real progress this year, the reaction of both the manager, his team selection and the performance of the players will be very telling. We’ve enjoyed a far better season than anyone had a right to expect. Now we’ll all question whether it was an illusion? Clearly that’s not the case. Again, for periods today, Arsenal outplayed Southampton and wasted it’s chances. But that fundamental vulnerability in defense and that lack of organization is our Achilles heel. Which takes us back to Koscielny. Today was tough on him and us. It showed up his lack of fitness and confidence. Not entirely surprising but ever so costly. On a positive note, it was good to see Monreal survive the entire game. But we need Bellerin back and we could do with the cynicism of Lichtensteiner. But I don’t know if I can bring myself to say we missed Mustafi. But it does highlight our need to buy a central defender in theJanuary window.

Emery needs to stamp his personality on this team. And that comes by changing the squad. Today only goes to show that the cloak of the unbeaten run just hid the fault lines that we knew existed. In many ways we should be grateful that we’ve earned as many points as we have already. I know we’re not as bad as we showed today and that this team has moved forward. It’s just that the core issues in defense are the same ones we had in previous year. The mad scramble up the field, prior to their last goal, that exposed the defense was the same as previous years. One poor result does not unravel the entire team but, for a team that wants to be in the top four you can’t lose games like this.  Today we lack the passion and drive of previous games. There was not the speed of play or the urgency of previous games. So, maybe, this is the wake up call we needed. Though it had more in common with the Huddersfield game than the Sp*rs one, there are enough worrying signs that it becomes the first test of Emery. No real pressure, but that’s two games in a row where the team has struggled.

This Christmas period now becomes even more interesting. The midweek cup game – even though it’s against the homeless ones – is irrelevant. It’s the ELP that counts. We need to recover and rediscover the energy and drive we had against Sp*rs. We have one home game and then a trip to Anfield. Let’s see if we can learn our lessons. Let’s see if Emery can fix these problems. One game does not make a crisis but it does provide a window into seeing how he’ll deal with the pressure and the reality of our flaws. Let’s see him pass these next test.

– LB7

December 8th – Arsenal 1 Huddersfield 0

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It was the worst of times; it was the even worse of times. By a country mile the worst game of the season. In technical terms it was crap. And more crap. Rubbish and more rubbish. And that was just the ref. What a horrible performance. What a shitty game to watch. When, that is, the camera deemed to show the game. Not being a petty person, I’d like to see Huddersfield get relegated after a game like that. All they did was foul. From the first minute. And the referee, Tierney, let them get away with it from the start and then started to book our players.

Of course, we weren’t exactly on our game. There was no creativity and the balance was awful within the team. Sokratis can’t play on the left hand side cause he can’t run up the pitch and pass. Mustafi was reckless fouling and taking too long on the ball. But the worst was the midfield balance. For some reason Emery decided to play all three midfielders in their wrong positions. So Torreira was too far up the pitch and Guendouzi was uninvolved the entire first half.

It was so slow and painful to watch. They foul us. The camera pans to the fans or the managers meantime the awful game proceeds and we can’t see it. Then we have a few chances that Aubameyang and then Cigarette squander. In the meantime, Tierney, gives us a couple of yellow cards for simulation when one of them was no different from the penalty that Son got against us last Sunday. And then, just to turn the screw, Cigarette scores a perfect goal for the linesman to someone deem it to be off-side. How is that factually possible when their knob of a defender passed it back to the goalie? Under what rule set is this guy operating? Where’s the accountability for a bonehead decision like this?

Then when their blumbering lump of an attacker fell over in the box in the second half after Sokratis tackled him, how was that not a yellow for simulation? The entire game – though, of course, we were shit – was ruined by wankey refs and linesman. They did not stamp their authority on Huddersfield by booking them from the start. Instead Tierney would consume time by lecturing them as though somehow they would give a shit as to what he was saying.

This one is on Emery though. He got our formation and tactics wrong. This was as poor a performance over the 90 minutes that we’ve seen. The substitutions were alarming. How desperate is it when the two biggest losers come on at half-time. The only improvement was when Monreal came on because it pushed Sokratis back to the middle; with the added benefit that Mustafi left the field.

Ob1’s first touch was abysmal and his overall decision making is flustered; lacking in any composure. You’ll get the odd good ball played behind the defense. But he does not have the self confidence to go to goal when he should. Whereas Mickeytarrien under hits passes and can’t cross the ball. This was not his worst performance – a low bar indeed – but, as team, we need more quality. And the quality we did have we removed at half time. How can you takeoff Cigarette? How was he any worse than the other 9 outfielders. We missed him in the second half.

As the game progress Torreira seemed to drop further back into his natural position and then we regained more control of the game. Bellerin worked hard but had no help in front of him. Leno had nothing to do. But our playing out from the back was too slow because there was no midfield shape. No-one was dropping to receive the ball until Torreira dropped back to work alongside Xhaka. I like Guendouzi, but he was played in the wrong position all game long. And this was why we had no creativity. No Ozil, No Ramsey and Ob1 was stuck out wide though he should be stuck in the toilet somewhere.

This was so frustrating to watch; the least enjoyable of the season. In fact, the one that drew out the most frustration and anger. That had me screaming at the TV at practically everything. It was the worst combination of the wrong team formation, the meekest of referees, bad decisions and then the inability of the camera to actually show us the game. One day, in the far distant future, when we have picture-in-picture I’ll be a happy person. Until then there has to be a way to find out who makes these camera decisions so I can explain to them that they job description – their entire reason to exist – is to show us what’s happened in on the pitch. We don’t tune in to watch the crowd reaction – not the facial expressions of the managers. Nor to watch endless reruns of fouls or other none event decisions while the game is progressing. We just want to watch the entire game. We don’t need to see lingering close-ups of the last player to touch the ball. Nor to have the camera zoom in for a close-up on a player who just touched the ball, won a header or picked their fucking nose. It’s getting out of control this season. Eventually we’ll end up with a camera just showing a managers reaction for the entire game overlayed with the moronic commentary of some stupid Scottish ex-footballer from the 3rd division who never could pass the ball telling us how Arsenal had no chances on goal until Torreira scored whilst ignoring the off-side goal that was disallowed or the two chances we missed in the first half.

This was an unpleasant game to watch for all these reason.The only remarkable thing was that we somehow managed to score. We finally had a creativity spark from Guendouzi, Aubamyenang could not shot but played a nice cross back for Torreira to score our goal. I had not seen this coming. After Aubameyang missed that header from the corner and Tierney yet again gave a yellow to us when the Guendouzi was again fouled just like Son was last week I just assumed it would be one of those games. So while I’m relieved we managed to get all three points it has to go down as the least enjoyable games of the season. Until the last twenty minutes there was little energy to our game and that played right into their hands. All we can do now is wish them relegation. After seeing how teams like Wolves have come to our ground and left with a point it’s only just they got none. It’s just not clear we deserved the three.

It’s amazing that the loss of Holding can disrupt the balance of the team so much. Let’s hope Monreal can stay fit long enough. Because if we have to play three at the back we‘ll need him on the left hand side. But we can’t play those three in midfield again. I don’t think Guendouzi knows how to play out wide. He’s passing was off and his positioning was off. He was peripheral to the game until we moved Torreira back in front of the defense.

Bookings are going to start to hurt us. Torreira is one away from suspension I think. Mustafi, though injured is suspended from the next game.  Sokratis is suspended. So our backline against Southampton will be very different. They are in a state of chaos but they showed against Man U they could still fight (well, for Hughes anyway, before they fired him). Hopefully they’ll still be a mess.

We need to find our balance again. I did not like the two upfront today – one should be there while the other should play wider. And we need a creative midfield player otherwise we’ll only score on the fast break.

Now I have to go away and decompress and find my happy self buried away somewhere. And pray that Emery can do the same and find that team and performance that elevated all Arsenal fans last Sunday. Not that that sensation has ebbed away quite yet. But days like today will chip away at it for sure. But thank you Torreira for being you and gifting us three points.

-LB7

December 5th – Man United 2 Arsenal 2

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After the sublime euphoria of Sunday we could have lost 10 nil (but not 8-2), endured Darth Vader grinning on the touchline and had to put up with both Mustafi and Mickeytarrien playing and I’d still have that stupid smirk on my face that’s been there since the final whistle on Sunday. That game was my season. This game was more like a dull thumping on my head. I’d normally take an Advil to recover. This was a game of defensive blunders. Our two were gifted to us and, as such a polite team, in this season of giving we donated them right back to them. Who knew were such a polite team. Gentlemanly Arsenal. That’s why we’re The Arsenal. Manners maketh the man. Just not a football team.

We should have won today. We had the better chances and played the better football. They looked a mess. They only looked threatening when they introduced some passion into their game. Overall, they were directionless and leaderless. In another season, assuming (hopefully) they still have Darth Vader, we will beat them. Our mistakes – maybe like theirs – were so gorm-less. So brainless. I can’t think of a real save Leno needed to make. Yet they scored twice. And then we had chances to win at the end. I thought we might sneak the additional points. I’ll take a point though.

I feel I’m being repetitive. You know, repeating myself. By saying the same thing over again. Every week. Please feel free to cut this out and read after Saturdays Huddersfield game as well. What the fuck is Mickeytarrien doing coming on before Cigarette? Mickeys’ first few touches were crap. And his last ones as well. He must have some pretty explicit compromising pictures of Emery involving sheep and various kitchen utensils. Because there can be no other rationale explanation. Thankfully though Cigarette did appear and somehow claimed the second goal. And Aubamyeang should have grabbed the winner as we had our usual second half improved performance.

The balance on this team looks better with a back three. It protects Kolinsac from his inability to defend – as demonstrated on their second goal. But then Ob1 showed the same cluelessness for the first goal. Until we get Monreal and Kosclieny back we won’t know the actual formation Emery wants to play.

But even with a diminished team, further reduced by the loss of Holding, ManU did not overrun us. We also know that’s because they don’t want to be playing for DarthVader. Who would though? He has an innate ability to squander any talent a player has. Rashford steamed around the pitch the entire game but had no real support from anyone.  But when Holding went off to be followed by Ramsey our team looked more NoHopa like than ELP like. But still we should and could have won it.

A word for the referee – Wanker. Even after having to face up to Dean at the weekend, Mariner was awful today. He allowed ManU to be far too physical and handed out yellow cards on borderline fouls but yet allowed Rojos to stay on the pitch after his reckless challenged on Guendouzi. Of course, we did need him there for our second goal so maybe it evened out. Though if that had not trickled in there would have been a penalty and a second yellow card for him. Mariner missed some nasty activity by their big Belgium buffoon and seemed unaware of the hacking on Guendouzi in the second half. I had half thought Mariner would find a way to send off the sublime Torreira. But our little Uruguayan managed his game very intelligently. After ten games or so I think we can now officially anoint him as the son of Viera; the missing piece to this team. Not that that makes Xhaka Petite or Gilberto. But it does make Torreira indispensable to this team. He is the glue that binds everything together. He is our Makelele; our Kante. But he’s not our Henderson or Dembele. And thank the lord for that.

This team seems to be progressing. I can’t think about “unbeaten” runs. They are only as good as the next game and runs mean nothing. However, the cohesion of this team and calmness on playing out of the back is in stark contrast to the beginning of the season. There is momentum now on this team. I still fear the Champions League is a step too far for us this year. We are still missing some pieces to our puzzle. But today was another example of our improvement. Last season we’d have found a way to lose the game even if it seemed like we were trying to today.

There was always going to be a coming down to earth after Sunday. They had an extra day to prepare and my fear had been a reversion to last year after the high of the weekend. So, though we avoided a disaster we should have been able to find a way to win. But it’s hard to be too critical.  I just hope that the injury list is not growing too quickly. That’s Holding and Ramsey to add to Ozil, Monreal and Koscielny. Managing this list through this intense period will challenge us. It’s just a shame we could not chose which of our players to be injured. With our luck, my fear is we’ll end up of a team with just Mickeytarrien, Mustafi and Ob1.

Guendouzi put in a solid performance. You can sense that inexperience when he’s under pressure. He’s destined to make stupid mistakes. But, in a couple of years, he’ll be the axis with Torreira in midfield. Today he more than held his own and is not scared of the physical parts of the game.

Aubameyang, though the top scorer, missed a golden opportunity to grab the points. And Kolinsac, who continually ripped apart their right back, had chances to put in better crosses. But then often we did not have enough people in the box. Bellerin continues to improve. It’s good to see him (and others) shout at each other now when things don’t go right.

It’s just a shame we had to give up two schoolboy goals. The takeaway from today is that, for sure, Man U won’t, can’t and shouldn’t qualify for the Champions League by being in the top 4. It’s a race now of 5 teams for the top 4. Though we’re the underdogs, if Sp*rs can qualify for the next round of the Champions League (and not fall into the NoHopas Cup) and Chelsea wilt under the pressure of Sarri, there is a chance we could sneak in.

We’re by no means the finished product. Today we were always going to fall back down to earth after the Sunday bliss. And there are still (obvious) flaws. And we seem to have lost Ozil to the twilight zone. But, we’re moving in the right direction. Sometimes slowly but quicker of late. So let’s see how we handle the powerful Huddersfield. And let’s hope we have some of the injured wounded back to help.

-LB7

 

 

 

December 1st – Arsenal 4 Sp*rs 2

Published / by bradybergkampandbeyond / Leave a Comment

The New Arsenal. Or the Old Arsenal. We are back. That was more fun than I’ve had in a few lifetimes. It’s right up there with my own birth. Only trumped (sorry for that reference) by other victories against that homeless team at their old home. This was entirely deserved. We were the better team with the better players. Stuff those stupid combined teams. Even with Dean on the pitch we still dominated.

That was worth the wait. Total domination. Both in terms of the football and the physical beating we game them. I loved seeing us fight them in all those scuffles. Ramsey after their goal, Bellerin with their Dutch Dick. We out played them and outmanned them. This was like 2x our home Liverpool performance. I can’t enthuse enough about todays performance. There was so much good; so much to enjoy. And to hear the crowd participation for the entire game driving the team forward! When was the last time that happened?

Emery made the right substitutions and at the right time. I don’t get why Mickeytarrien started. That’s Emery’s blind spot. But pulling him at half-time changed everything and enabled us to step it up and recover from the two minutes of madness in the first half. These were the only two chances the witless homeless team had.

A word about Sp*rs – Shit. They truly were. They bottled it and too many of their primary players were missing in action. As good as they can be; today they were toothless. There was no leadership of cohesion. At this stage of their development they should be winning these games. Because in another few years, when we are truly rebuilt and re-engineered, we will be dominating them and they will look back at this small window of opportunity to dominate us and wonder how they missed their chance.

I don’t care what happens for the rest of the season. I don’t care when we play them in the League Cup; I don’t care when we play them at their away home; they can beat us 5-0. Nothing will detract from this game; from this victory. This was way ahead of where we could expected to be. Today’s game verified the entire transition we’ve been going through. I was fearful going into this game. But right from the first second we had the passion, drive and energy to dominate the game. We should have been 3 nil up before they scored a fortunate goal. Aubameyang should have scored as should have Ob1. Kolinsac was again dominant going forward. But, today, he seemed to remember how to defend. He was not exposed as he’d previously been. And with Holding and Sokratis solidifying our defense it allowed Mustafi to make his usual reckless challenges.

In midfield Torreira was in complete control. For the entire game he provided the protection that this defense requires and yet liberates Xhaka to play his relax and controlled game.  Torreira’s tenacity, workrate and physical strength drove this team forward. He was imperious today. He played like a legend.

But back to our manager. Whereas last week I was critical of his tactics and changes today he was perfect. Mickeytarrien should be on their team he’s that shit. But Ob1 was not too bad. He just lacks confidence when he gets into their box. He should have scored. Even though we did not deserve to be behind at half-time and, for once, I was quietly confident we’d find a way back into the game, the introduction of Ramsey and Cigarette changed the game. Ramsey was more incisive, and Cigarette was just, as ever, perfect. Emery left Aubameyang up front and pushed Cigarette out wide. And that worked to perfection when Aubameyang scored from outside the box after Ramsey linked up play from Bellerin.

And then again, the third goal from Cigarette, helped by a deflection, was fully deserved. But the build up play to the last goal showed patience and controlled football before the pass from Aubameyang split their defense. And then to have the legend that is Torreira cap it all off with his goal made for a perfect finish to the perfect game.

There were so many aspects to enjoy. The primary one though was of our lack of fear. And, subsequently, my lack of fear watching. Having been conditioned to be a pessimist over the last 5 years – knowing that bad outcomes were just around the corner – today was the first time I can remember, even being 2-1 down, that we would find a way to get back into the game. Today I had that Invincibles feeling return. That sense that this team was not just good enough but focused, committed and determined enough to not get out muscled and out fought. Not to give away stupid goals and make mental mistakes. Today was not just about the fact that we won but it was about how we won. It was how we played Arsenal football. It was about the incorporation of Emery steel into the team. About how balanced we were playing out of the back. It was how the talent of Torreira, Aubameyang, Cigarette shown through. It’s been a long time coming and I don’t believe we’re anywhere close to being the finished article. How can we be when we still have Mickeytarrien in the starting lineup. I still believe that Champions League qualification is a level too high for us.  Though it’s a possibility that can’t be a realistic target in Emery’s first year. There is too much work to do. Of course, it also reminds us of the lie that 4th place is not a trophy – where as those wankers now we strive for 4th?

Anyway,  days like today reinforce that we are moving in the right direction under the right leadership. As frustrated and depressed I was after the Bournemouth game (which I know we won) today was enthralling and exciting – even when losing at half-time.

A word on our two wingbacks. Bellerin has been improving all season but today he was instrumental in so many good things. And Kolinsac, as previously mentioned, was like the tank and enforcer we know he can be.  Emery’s tactics were ideal. Going to a back three has given us a springboard to push these two further forward. And it’s made us a little less dependent on Mustafi. It’s harder for Holding and his distribution but they barely threatened us.

Today we defeated a top 6 team. We quashed them like a second-rate, homeless team that they are. This is our first one this season. It might be our last this year but somehow I doubt it. After the game I loved the fact that Emery was already talking about the game on Wednesday. Today’s performance showed the level we should be expecting to play at. We need to bottle up the experience of today and replicate it against ManU. That’s the level of consistentancy we need to aspire to.

That was just so fucking enjoyable. So refreshing. To enjoy the entire game and feel that the team were completely committed to winning. So completely committed to every tackle. To feel like destiny would not let us lose. To feel that this team was an immovable force against a tepid, spineless and toothless opposition. Of course, many years ago, in a galaxy far far away, we used to experience this every week – if not, season-long. Today was a glimpse of how our future could be. And, by jove, it looks pretty exciting. Imagine the idea that we could enjoy watching Arsenal. It feels like we might finally be going back to the future

-LB7