Author Archives: bradybergkampandbeyond

Nov 26th – Burnley 0 Arsenal 1

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Lee Fucking Mason. Who would have believed it if that had not seen it with their own eyes. After giving Burnley every free-kick and dubious push and tackle. After having even penalized Ramsey at the end of the first half after he’d been clobbered by one of their lot, he gives us the most important decision of the game. I was looking for someone else to take that penalty rather than Alexis. But he scrapped it in and we came away with both the three points and a clean sheet. Amazing. Two wins in a row. Let the season end now.

The first half was dysfunctional. We could not seem to retain the ball. There were a couple of challenges just inside our half where I could have sworn Xhaka chickened out. He was barely involved in the game and Ramsey was taking his usual too many touches. But where was Ozil? We were down to a single Nazi in our team. Instead we had to watch Ob1 flitter around the pitch. It’s times like this that you realize (if you’d not been watching for the last 3 or 4 years) how much we miss Ozil.

In the second half though we came out with more purpose, pushed Burnley back and dominated. They were much less dangerous than they were in the first half. Gudmanssoon tested us in that first half. He looked quite good. Cech looked even better though. As, to be fair, did our entire defense.

What is up with Mustafa? I think someone has occupied his body and mind. And instead of the gormless, panicky player that gives away possession we actually have a real defender who fearlessly throws himself at the ball in dangerous areas. Only once today did he play a wayward pass. Does this mean he’s actually coachable? I hope so. Now if only someone could turn their attention to our right wing-back. Bellend is utterly gormless. It looks like he just does not know what to do the with ball when it’s at his feet. He’s become Walcott-like in his fear of taking on his man. Instead it’s always square and backwards. And he is just so flimsey on the ball that the other team has to blow on him and he gives away possession. Not that I would want Ox in that position – he was, as usual, ineffective against Chelski playing in that right-wing position that he hates so much; not that he’ll keep his place in the team when Llanlana, Mane and other return. Back to Bellend. Because we had both him and Ob1 on the right, it meant all our penetration and purpose came down the left hand side. Kolinsac combined well with both Alexis and Monreal. Between them the final ball and/or cross was lacking but they caused all the Burnley all sorts of problems.

Cigarette must be so frustrated. He worked so hard but rarely received the ball. This boy is a star but he can’t shine if they don’t pass to him. He makes the runs but without Ozil there’s no-one to feed him the ball. All his runs down the right channel were wasted because Bellend won’t go forward and can’t beat his man. Like Walcott (did I mention this before) he won’t use his pace. But Cigarette will score for us and does lead the line. When he comes short for the ball he’s got the balance and control. And then, unlike our French beauty, can sprint upfield.

In the first half, Ramsey had a wonderful chance after gorgeous work by Cigarette down the left channel. He should at least have hit the target. But then he was the only person making that run into the box. To go in level at half-time was better than I expected. I thought they bullied us and out worked us. But, at least in the second half, we controlled the game. It was also good to see Jack come on instead of Ob1. If we could put Ob1 and Bellend in a package deal and send them to Barcelona that would be ideal. I don’t think Bellend will ever fully adapt to the physical side of the English game – he’s better suited to Spain. It’s a shame we have no ready replacement though. As for Ob1 at least we have Ozil and Jack.

Today we won the three points because of our newly discovered rock-solid defense. Cech was outstanding again. And in addition to Mustafa, Monreal and Kosclieny were excellent. It’s a pity that don’t get the physical protection in front of them. Khaka was poor in the first half and only came into the game as Burnley got tired. But there’s no way we can win the league (next year not this – City have it won already) with this guy in the team. He’s a B+ player at best. But, for someone of his size, he loses way too many tackles and, unfortunately like Ramsey, is too slow on the ball.

I know I should be happier after these possibly undeserved three points but it was frustrating to see how slow we were in possession and lacking in inventiveness.  There was very little movement except for Alexis. We missed our creator in chief and it was not clear who was supposed to step up into that role. But at least we seem to have a defense now. And maybe that’s due to Mustafa. I’m hesitant to believe his new focus and concentration will persist. There was one time in the second half when, a la BFG, he went chasing a ball from our half way line into their half and left a gaping hole in our defense. It was only because their forward had no speed that they could not exploit that opportunity. But, it seems rare now that he’s that reckless. And long may he remain more Adams-like than Cygan or Stephanov-like.

They say that for teams to be successful they need to gain points when they don’t play well. It seems like we should be very successful then. We did not play that well this week. And, against poor opposition, I don’t think we did last week. But the next couple of games will tell us a lot. For these games we can’t really rotate the way we do in the NoHopa League. Having to play midweek and then face up to Darth Vader at the weekend will test the team. I hope the devil comes with his usual defensive posture of not losing. I just wish we could change Xhaka and Bellend. Then we could have a real team. We need the right hand side of the team to be functional and we need a strong physical presence. Who do you think would win in a tackle between beefy Xhaka and midget-man Kanti? No contest, right.

Anyway, here we sit in the top four after losing to Liverpool, Stoke, Watford et al. Funny old game. As much as City are running away with it, there are still many points to be dropped before we go through our usual late winter collapse. Though, we seem to have come through November relatively unscathed. Maybe that’s progress.

-LB7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sept 25th – Arsenal 2 WBA 0

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I hate Monday games. Having to wait and (not) watch the other teams play mean that there’s nothing to focus on for the entire weekend. And then there’s always the dread that Monday will be utterly anti-climatic. Waiting all that time for a dull draw or another Watford-like performance does not bear thinking about.

Thankfully today we were spared that. But only just. In the end it was fairly easy. A comfortable 2-0. But in the first half they should have had a penalty. And if it was not for Cechs brilliant save onto the post we’d have been 1-0 down. And then he’s second save before half-time stopped them equalizing. And imbetween our best player – Monreal – cleared a certain goal of the line.

So going into half-time we could not have complained if we were drawing if not losing.

The second half was better (it helps to have the lead I’ve heard). And then we did control the game and should have added a third. But, to be fair, if their claim for a penalty was not given I would not have expected our appeal to be granted. I’m impressed that Madley gave us this one. I’d feel pretty hard don’t by if I was a WBA fan – but then why, for the love of god would I – or anyone – be a WBA fan.

What did we learn today then? Primarily that Monreal is god-like and he and Kolasanic have nailed down our left hand side.

That Mustafa is still a truly shit defender. What the fuck was he doing going to ground in the penalty area in the first half. Another referee would have awarded a penalty against us and changed the course of the entire game. In this instance the attacker was not even going to goal but was running out of space. This is exactly the time to shepherd the play out of bound and only a retard would go to ground. But then Mustafa is a retard. He is a liability. His distribution is shit and he’s judgement is reckless. There was a time in the second half when he went charging for the ball in their half, missed it and left the entire defense exposed. I just wish Holding or Chambers or the BFG could claim that spot.

In midfield Xhaka had one of his worst games. He was sloppy all over the pitch (a nasty image I know). He gave the ball away in his own half a couple of times and, more generally, was very slow on the ball. I’ll put this down to one bad game but it’s still a little worrying that he can be so casual on the ball.

Elneny was a little better but not great. He was also a little slow in distribution. The difference is that he works a lot harder and, by the second half, was linking up play much quicker.

But this combination will be ripped apart by better teams than WBA.

Ramsey was a fault for their two first half breakaways (as was Xhaka for one of the tem and Elneny the other). But his forward movement is excellent. He gave their defense problems the entire game. He’s clearly better suited to the Ozil position than the holding midfield one. I’m just not sure he’s as creative as Ozil – though he’ll score more goals than the German. The creativity though came from Alexis. He’s still a little off his best – he needs more game time – but he was the only true creative force out there. Roaming over the pitch and finding Ramsey arriving in the box late. After a few more games, those passes will come off.

And don’t you love Cigarette? A real goalscorer. A fox in the box. But he can play outside of it as well. He’s control and speed fit so neatly into our set up. I’m sure he will develop a strong relationship with both Alexis and Ozil. And this guy will hit 20 goals this year (assuming he stays injury free).

And finally, to go back to our defense. Cech and Monreal. Outstanding. Both kept us in this game. I don’t think Monreal lost a ball the entire game. Every challenge – every pass – every move – was perfect today. Gibbs, who played well, was right to move on. No-one can replace Monreal when he’s in this form.

OK, now it’s time to play switch as we get ready for a journey into the middle of nowhere for the NoHoppa Cup. Let’s rest most of todays players and send them Theo and Ospina. Let the others get ready for Sunday.

-LB7

Sept 17th – Chelski 0 Arsenal 0

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Oh, so we do know how to defend. Imagine that. What a novel concept. Who would have thought we could keep a clean sheet at the Politburo? Maybe we should play Bournemouth and Chelski each week. They obviously have reverse kryptonite. They manage to turn us into a functioning team.

When I saw Ob1 on the team sheet I feared the worst. I checked that we had Cigarette and the Tank. Fearing we’d have gone instead for Theo and The Ox – given that he’s not played at Anfield and that AW might have forgotten about the £35m burning a hole in his pocket. But thankfully they were both in the lineup. For the first 15 minutes the Russians played a high tempo, one touch and fast interplaying game that threatened to tear us apart. I figured the mad Italian must have read the riot act pre-game. Jumping up and down while simultaneously combing his hair in order to maintain that suave, debonair image.

But in time we worked our way into the game. A fine move down the right hand side set up Mr. Goalscoring machine DW23. But, rather than commeth the man cometh the goal instead we had the predictable. When we need that goal he is the right man to spurn the opportunity. Deciding to use his head not shoulders he still found a way to miss the target. Yet more memories of Anfield came flooding back. But rather than capitulate we started to dominate the game. Cigarette had a (tough) chance care of our Ob1 and Bellend interplay. And then Ramsey went on a mazyrun to only hit the post and see Cigarette stumble the ball over the bar. I still have a lot of time for our new Frenchmen. This was a hard chance that he should have taken but I’ll, at this point, be grateful, he was, at least, in the (nearly) right position.

The second half started like the first but this time we never really got back into the game. The Crimea team had more possession but hardly drew a save from Cech. There were periods where we had some nice possession but our right side dominance disappeared as they made adjustments. Daylight was created as David Louis tried to murder The Tank and rightfully got a straight red. But that left too little time for us to snatch a winner.

So we learned that Arsenal do actually know how to play the game, remain organized and take a disciplined approach to an away game. Which, of course, begs the question what the fuck happened at Anfield. The fear is that because of that spanking we adopted this more pragmatic approach. But, now we’ve had this display my money is on reverting back to type in the next big away game.

Today Monreal was immense. Rarely beaten down his side and dominant in the air. On the right Koz was solid and stabilizing. And in the middle we had our mad Kraut. Morata was pretty impressive today. A number of times he turned the Kraut and made some great runs. Most other teams won’t keep him from scoring. Someone needs to injure him quickly. Mustafa tried but was too slow. And again, some of his long fields distribution was awful.

Both AR8 and Xhaka dropped deeper to pick up the ball from the defense which removed some pressure from the backline. I suspect this was mainly due to our more conservative approach. That is, we were just sitting deeper more generally.  Xhaka was, as ever, a little careless with his passing but Ramsey was quite impressive today. Without the skillful German ahead of him we was able to break into the space ahead of him on a number of occasions. He’s passing was intelligent and his forward play propelled the team. And he should have scored. But he occupied Konti and put him under pressure quickly. The problem is that too often he and Xhaka play the same position. Literally. There was a time in the first half when they were stumbling into each other. Defensively they don’t exude confidence. But with Ob1 and DW23 working hard on defense we were more solid on the wings but just vulnerable through the middle. If only we had a Konti…..

With this new found stability we also sacrificed our creativity. I’m still not sure why we had Ob1 rather than Alexis in the starting 11. Sure Ob1 worked hard – a la DW23 – but you can’t rationally argue that there is anyone on planet earth you’d select Ob1 over Alexis. With DW23 incurring his usual injury it looks like he’ll be out for a while and therefore this “choice” won’t come up again for a while. Of course, it also means that it’s Ramseys turn next for his regular hamstring injury. The question becomes, would we have had this defensive work rate and cover if little Mesut had been able to play? We’d have been more threatening but at what cost? Without him we should have been 2-0 before half-time. But with him would we have kept a clean sheet?

Cech is the one player who has been consistently reliable this year. His save from Pedro was pivotal. If we had let one in then who knows how our mental psyche would have handled that.

It’s hard to enjoy watching this team as you think you’re one errant Xhaka pass away from implosion. But today we turned up. But to be a team challenging for the league (or even the top 4) the bar should not be so low that we are grateful that we come away from Red Square without being embarrassed. The Commies will have better days – you could see the impetus that Hazard provided. And today we had our chance to actually win there. But our collective confidence is so low we all end up being relieved to come away with a point. At some point we have to demonstrate the organization and discipline over a 10 match period to restore both our credibility and nerves. The agony of waiting for and then recovering from the next fiasco requires too much therapy. And it’s not even March yet.

So onto the tough encounter with Doncaster Rovers in the who-the-fuck-knows-what-cup-its-called. More opportunity for the BFG and Nelson to impress. And the onto the return of Gibbs. Then back to the NoHopa Cup. Many chances then for the other squad players to shine. And for us to relax and not worry so much about the outcome

-LB7

Sept 9th – Arsenal 3 Bournemouth 0

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Let’s play Bournemouth every week please. That was easy. So easy. I’m confident that if we played a 38 game season only playing them we’d win the league. On the basis they were all home games.

How poor were Bournemouth? So bad that WorseBeck looked like Nearly-a-PlayerBeck. For goodness sake, he scored two goals. The first one classic Wellbeck – in off his shoulder. The second one was more like that Cigarette. To be fair he worked hard and chased them down. Can’t fault the guy from being hard working; just for not being a football player. He’s an improved version of Theo. Though Theo is superior in the after match interview.

Ozil cruised through the game, control play and making a series of exquisite passes. One of these lead to the beautiful second goal form Cigarette. Very TH14 that one. Lady and Gentlemen, we have ourselves a real striker! This boy can play. It would be interesting to see him and Alexis on the pitch at the same time. The triangle with Cigarette, Alexis and Ozil could be a thing of beauty. Some of our one touch passing today was outstanding. As it would be in any training session when the opposition decides not to close you down. Nonetheless, it was pleasure to watch at times. We purred along quite nicely indeed.

Of course, there are still a number of issues we have to contend with. Namely, we’re not a team that can compete for the top 4 spots. On our day we can pull apart even the most dire team (thank you Bournemouth). But the balance still looks off. I’m not convinced that Xhaka and Ramsey can function as the backbone of this team. Both, individually, played pretty well. Ramseys’ late runs into the box will generate goals. But neither of them provide the defensive cover for our defense. The move to swap out Ramsey for our Coq was correct. But then our Coq blew out his hamstring. So that’s him gone for 6+ weeks. He’ll be joining Santi in the recovery room – our best midfield pairing from 2 seasons ago both sidelined. Today we saw both Xhaka and AR8 move upfield at the same time and often get caught the wrong side of the ball. We’ll miss Coq – and that’s before AR8 picks up his own obligatory yearly hamstring injury. I think we all knew we were short in this area of the team. It could have been a perfect time to play Ox there J

It was interesting to see how they tried to high press our back line. Neither of AR8 or Xhaka drop to receive the ball (well, sometimes Xhaka does – and that’s where he’s vulnerable to turnovers) and that makes playing out from the back much harder. Against Chelski it will be much more illuminating.

Kolasinac returned back to earth today. Still way better than either Gibbs or Ox. But his distribution was a little wayward. And like Bellend, he allows too many crosses into the box. But going forward he’s smart and make pretty good decisions – unlike Bellend. We got this guy for free and received £40+ for these other two. That’s a good trade. I’m sorry that Ox left to the degree it reinforces the messages that he’s moved off to a “winning” team. But there’s no way he’s worth that sum nor will he find a central midfield role there. But I liked the boy (no, not in that way kind sir).

We nearly lost Mustafi and I’d still prefer the £35m we could have received. He did not play too poorly today. But, yet again, he displayed his tendency to too aggressively jump in and also go to ground too quickly. That is a recipe for disaster and/or his next sending off. And, without a Santi-like midfielder to take the ball from him he’ll continue to launch his Kolo-eque aimless, long ball passes.

One game does not make a season – unless, of course, it’s a game an Anfield. It’s not clear whether we learned too much today. Maybe that Eddie Howe is not going to be our new manager. It took him 70+ minutes to change a clearly failing team formation. Of course, I’m sure we’ll make him look Guardiola-like when we play at their place.

OK, short and sweet today. I’ve enjoyed the two week break post-Anfield. To be away from the train wreck that is AW and AFC. Today extended that period by an extra few days. At least until we visit the Russians on Sunday. That will be our judgement day. Can we compete? I have my doubts. The same fears persist. We added two great players but failed to strengthen the backbone of our team. And Chelski will surely expose this. But it’s still a little too early to get suicidal about this team. There’s plenty of time for that. That’s what March is for.

-LB7

 

 

 

August 31st – End of the Transfer Window and the End of Arsene

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The title says it all really. The fiasco that we witnessed will just about seal the end of Arsene’s reign as King of Arsenal.

Though it might not rest entirely at his feet he will surely carry the burden of this complete fiasco; the worst possible outcome on some many dimensions. It will leave fans dispirited and vexious. Going forward, the first sign of difficulty (which will be within a game or two) and the entire fan base will turn on him. He’s position will be unsustainable.

How could this possible have come about?

By advertising the interest in Lamar so early on in the transfer window we clearly signaled our intent. To then be rebuffed because we were not in the CL is plain ridiculous. How could the club have not known about this issue? We have known for a while now – since the season ended I think – that we weren’t in the CL. So how, in our discussions over the last 3 months did we not know this. That’s incompetent. Also, it’s not entirely believable. Beneath this rejection lies another reason.

Unfortunately, when Man U were out of the CL they could still attack key players. That’s how they were able to rebuild. They bought Poga. They brought in Ibra. And others. It did not seem to impair their re-build. How can this be? This is not to same say we’re the same as Manu. The difference, I fear, is that those players knew there was a manager in place that was committed for many years to a rebuilding process. Whereas at Arsenal the one thing you know is that the manager won’t be there in a couple of years (if not sooner). This is the first time that lack of clarity on our manager has been a deterrent to signing players. Worse, this is from the French league – in fact, his old club. It would seem that AW has finally lost his allure to attract the players we need. How embarrassing is it when three of his French compatriots can’t convince Lamar to join us. What a disaster. This tells us where we stand in the pecking order of clubs more than anything. And, to be clear, let me restate the only viable conclusion. it can’t merely be CL related. It’s AW related.

And, to compound this issue we spent the entire summer stating in black and white, with 100% conviction that we would never sell Alexis. I understand that negotiations have to take place behind closed doors and that you can’t reveal your hand. But, in the last 12 hours to change position and then scramble and fail to bring in a replacement is pathetic. Now we are left with a deflated Alexis. Someone who fully expected to be able to get out of the hell that is AFC. So, rather than release him from his sentence he’ll sign a pre-nup with ManCIty and he’ll leave for nothing. Not £60m but zero. How is that possible? How is that “good” business? Where is the accountability for this? And what does it do to our credibility? When we say someone is not for sale who’s going to believer us? I know I won’t. And what a way to blow £60m.

So today was a shambles and embarrassment of historic proportions. We had three months to prepare for this and failed on so many levels. How did we let Ox leave for Liverpool for £35m and not bring in a replacement? What about Mahrez? I’m not too sad to see Ox leave. I respect that he wants to play in central midfield. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong but I would not want to see him in that position at Arsenal. I respect he did not take our money or the increase grubby money on offer at Chelski to be the backup to Moses. Now he’ll wander up north and wait for Henderson or Emre to get injured. Good luck to him. We got a tidy sum for him. But were was the replacement plan? How dispiriting is it for the rest of the squad.

Then we thought we’d got rid of Mustafi only for him to come right back home. Nor could we offload Dubuchy. And yet we sold BigEars. And we know we have one BFG who will retire in a year and one SFG who we don’t’ want but would have received £35 for him. Sure we finally sold Gibbs and Woz and we loaned out Perez along with Campbell.

What happened with Dick Van Dyck? Why could we not have acquired him with Theo as a (not)make  weight?

How can fans believe this squad is any better than the bunch of wankers that were shamed on Sunday? If anything, we’re worse off though the club have more money.

This, I fear, is the end for AW then. No-one has faith that this squad can get us back to the top 4. And he’s lost his magic in attracting the highest quality players. Remember, he was talking to Mbappe last year (when we were still in the CL) and AW could not sell him on AFC back then.

Where does this leave us? In the wilderness for, at least, a couple of years. And the changes don’t merely relate to AW. This happened on Gazidis’ watch. He’s the CEO. He is ultimately responsible. As is Silent Stan.

We not only wasted £60m by not selling Alexis, not invest the £35 from Ox but we officially became a joke in the eyes of all other clubs. We have no strategy and no plan. And we have a manager that can’t attract the worlds’ best players – he has lost his credibility. Ouch.

I desperately felt the need to post the thoughts because I just know every other websites will be saying the exact same thing. In this 3 month transfer window we have managed to squander all the good will created with our F A Cup win. Yet we’ve now suffered through the worst 5 days i can remember at Arsenal since the days when Stuart Robson graced our midfield at Highbury in the ’80s.

We have consigned all Arsenal fans to a long dark winter. And as GoT comes to it’s glorious end so does the reign of AW. And just as we don’t know who will gain control of the Iron Throne nor do we know who will inherit the poisoned chalice. The fear is that the White Walkers have already gained control at Arsenal.

– LB7

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 27th – Liverpool 4 Arsenal 0

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Really?

Multiple choice question to start. How would you describe the Arsenal performance today?

  1. Insipid
  2. Abject
  3. Spineless
  4. Embarrassing

Answer -> All of the above

It started with the team selection and then went south from there. In retrospect last week was not so bad after all. At least at Stoke we played. This week we were entirely absent.

The funny thing is that Bad – or Worse – Beck had a chance to put us 1-0 up but failed to even hit the target. I’m so sick of this guy. How can you start him ahead of Cigarette? And if you want to rest our new signing barely 2 games into a season then at least start Giroud instead.

There is just too much to cover; too many depths to plunge. And I’m too depressed. The futility of watching an unbalanced team that’s unprepared for the predictable approach of Liverpool is shocking. Or maybe the fault is with me and my expectation. After all this time, it’s maybe time not to be shocked. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

As with previous games the causal play of Xhaka set up their first goal – along with Bellends weakness. That’s two games in a row where Xhaka lost possession too easily. The combination of him and Ramsey provides no defensive cover. Yet when we replace Ramsey with our Coq we then leave it to Bellend to make a(nother) schoolboy error to seal the game (unless you’re Newcastle playing at home to us and being 4-0 down). Truly pathetic. How does anyone do that?

Yet we kept him and WorseBeck on the field the entire game. If only you could sub out an entire team. The mental fragility was there for us all to see. At least when we were crushed at ManU 8-2 we knew we had some truly shit players on the field. Today though we had our full team at our disposal. We had no excuses. Yet we were not up for the game nor did we even come close to looking like a team. I doubt we had a shot on target and I doubt there was any period where we actually tested them in any way. There was no cohesion. There was no desire. There was no effort.

How can this be? This is not just at the feet of AW. How can players cave in like this? Where is their desire? Pride? Enthusiasm? I have no clue at this point. It’s one of the few times in my life where I’m greeting the International break with open arms. I will enjoy a two week break from the trauma of watching our team.

Rather than ripping through each of our players I’d prefer to single out the one player who performed – Peter Cech. Without him in goal we’d have lost by a bunch more.

But really, Bellend? Sorry to harp on about this. But when will he be dropped? If we can drop the Bosnian Tank why can’t we drop our Spanish Metrosexual?

I felt a little sorry for Holding. I know he made a couple of important mistakes but he had very little protection in front of him. That should not be an explanatory factor. He has to know which foot Mane prefers to shot with and he can’t’ loose the ball to easily. I still prefer him to Mustafi. I still feel he has potential. But, given that we’ve seen him make the same mistakes multiple times, then maybe I’m insane.

So as drained as I am after watching this crushing non-performance it does beg a few question. Beyond that is, the issue of what was AW thinking and why did it take him so long to change our tactics. Do we believe today was an aberration? Or a fair representation of what to expect this year? My suspicion is that any team built on Xhaka and Ramsey will come up short against the top teams.

As such, just maybe, we should not just cash out on Ox for £35 but also bank the money for Alexis. That way we’d have a war chest of £100 so that next season we can restock this team with, dare I say it, a new manager. Let’s not waste the money. I do love Alexis. But he’s wasted on this team. By himself he can’t get us to be contenders. He can’t get us into the Champions League. In which case, why waste a year of his career and waste that money. If we can’t get Lemar this year, then wait another year. But get the money first.

We should sell Theo and get any pounds we can. And if someone wants Bellend or WorseBeck, we should snap their hand off. I like Cigarrette and the Tank. I like Cech. But  who else would you build this team around? Monreal has a couple more years left; likewise Koz. Where is the future of this team? I suspect in the distant past.

Today was utterly inexcusable. We’re barely two weeks into a new season. How can the team be so unprepared? How can WorseBeck miss that chance that would have changed the entire course of the game. Where is the accountability for that performance? And not just from WorseBeck.

Here’s the thing, as good as Liverpool were we made them look far better. They will have tougher games against West Brom and Watford than they did against us. Shit, they most probably had a harder game against Crystal Palace. It’s not so much that at we got outplayed. We just did not play.

I’m exhausted by the ineptitude of this team. I have grown so used to the February/March meltdown that I had also got used to watching the exciting football we produce at the start of the season. Now even that has been taken away from me.

Post the 8-2 ManU loss we went panic shopping as the transfer window closed. This time I fear AW will not do what’s needed. He needs to sell Ox and Mustafi; neither of which are worth £35. And then buy a central defender and a defensive midfield player. If we’re not going to do that. If we not going to build a spine for this team then sell Alexis. Set the boy free. Set his dogs free.

OK, now I’m off to dig a large whole in the back garden and bury myself until this season is over. And only after 3 games – that’s some kind of new record.

-LB7

August 19th – Stoke 1 Arsenal 0

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Ah, what a fine way to resume my commentary. After the wonders of the opening game and our powers of recovery today we came crashing down to earth.

This is not one to blame on Stoke. In all honesty – and mores the shame – I thought they were pretty tepid. The goal was well taken but it required 3 or four defensive mistakes for them to have the opportunity.

But let’s wait on that thought. I really should have posted comments on the Leicester game. I had my chance but was fearful my glee would somehow influence todays game. Never again. From now on I commit to always post after matches reviews; except when I don’t. There you have my commitment in writing. Or not.

Last week every move AW made worked perfectly. But this week? OMFG someone needs to bop him around his perfectly manicured hair. You can possibly think that if you need a goal and had to choose between Cigarette and Badbeck that the latter would be the right call. This boy had multiple chances to score today and fluffed his lines. I like him; we are close personal friends though I should note for the record it’s entirely platonic. I have, until now, rebuffed all his advances. I have high ethical standards and I would not want any physical attachment to corrupt my view on Arsenal games. But how the fuck can you keep him on the pitch and not Cigarette? But then how could you also leave Bellend on the pitch. I would love to know what’s happened to him in the last 12 months. Or maybe his early form was the unrepresentative period. Today he also had chances and could not take them. But worse than that as an ex-defender his tackling was, how do I say? Like a fucking pussy. Again, for clarity, I have nothing against pussys (cats, morons) – we here at BB&B are dog people – but really how weak can one ex-defender be. In the first half being out muscled in your own box? And always being outmuscled by the Stoke 6 ft+ defenders/wing-backs. He pulls out of tackles. Maybe it’s because he’s worried about dislodging his hair band. I hear that could leave him in hospitals for weeks.

So, why would AW leave two shit players (at least, shit on the day) on the pitch. And then take of the Bosnian/Serbian/Yugoslavian/Balkan Monster? Makes no sense.

Here’s the thing. We can be a team that competes for the league with either of these players in our team. I know we have Alexis to come back (for one year) that should consign DW23 to the bench. Though someone will have to carefully direct him to said bench as he’s very likely to miss it. But I fear Bellend might retain his spot. Someone needs to sit him down and discuss with him whether he wants to be a man – a professional football player – or a metro-sexual, sensitive cat person. In the meantime, he should not be starting.

To wrap-up the substitutes comments. Theo is a waste of space on the wing. There really I little point in him these days. He’s outstanding and a real threat in pre-season but come the hour you can be sure he’ll fluff his lines. He might not of today, because, like last week he was anonymous. At least OB1 tried to move things along. Of course, it forced AR8 back in a more defensive role which is exactly where he’s not best suited. He’s the rare player who makes late runs into the box. And when we need a goal we put him in a more defensive role? Makes no sense.

To continue in whining mode, what happened to Xhaka today? Specifically at the start of the second half. We had to suffer through his obligatory easy giveaways in the first half. But at the start of the second half not only does he under hit a pass to Ozil but then, like a bull in a china shop, pursues the ball and immediately pulls himself and AR8 out of position. It was that lack of defensive cover that exposed our back three. That is where this goal was created. All care of Xhaka. Of course Mustafi helped it along with a little guidance from Monreal. Mustafi has to close down Berohino and prevent that pass. But given that we’d demonstrated in the first half how incapable we were of scoring (thanks DW23) this was the classic Arsenal trying to win the ball back in the wrong area of the field by over-committing and then opening us up for that counterattack.

Too many players in this team are dead weight. The right hand side had both the two B’s – Bellend and Badbeck. But we also had Mustafi. I know he’ll not play when the BFG is back or when Koz finishes his suspension. But he’s passing is plain awful. Sure, he’s fully committed but that tackle in the second half on the edge of our box was reckless. Another ref could easily have sent him off – which, given the result and the 3 match ban – would have been ideal.

Think of this though, how dislocated is the transfer market when Mustafi cost us £35m and we then sell to the same team (Valencia) BigEars for only £10m? I’d take BigEars any day of the week and then invest the £25m in either a right-wingback, buying out Theo’s contract or, my strong preference, buying a small Caribbean island and appointing myself Ruler, Overlord and Mighty King of said small Caribbean Island. Along with my own Sherpa, cook, housecleaner (i.e. my wife but minus my useless children – luckily none of them can read so they will be entirely unaware of my secret plans; if you’re unfortunate enough to know them please tell squeal on me).

Thankfully we’re only two games in. It’s unlikely we can be this unlucky the entire season. There were two penalties we should have been awarded. And a clear goal from Cigarette; a perfect finish – the type BadBeck could only dream of assuming he did not miss the bed when going to lay down.   So on a normal day we’d have gotten at least a point. And we have Alexis to come back.

But we can’t continue to give up the first goal. And next we go head up to Anfield. Sure, we can lose this one as well. But over the next few games we’ll see whether we have learnt anything about how to play. We’ve been on a strong run so you can’t go overboard on this lose. It’s just so disappointing to give up 3 points to suck a lackluster team. And to do it so feebly.

On a more positive note, I thought Ozil glided and orchestrated our team today. He was pure class today and schooled Fletcher on a number of occasions. Ramsey put in a strong performance and was unlucky not to score. I still like the look of our new French Cigarette. As long as we don’t have BadBeck making the same runs and encroaching on his space, I’m sure he’ll score a bunch of goals. The Ox looked great going forward – but not so defensively. Monreal was solid in defense but is not a center-half. And the Bosnian Beast was more human today but still a strong addition.

So what happen after this game? We still have a few unmet needs. This squad is good but not good enough. There are still too many players who should never be in the starting eleven. Come of the bench (if you’ve not missed it) would be OK. So, that means we need a wing-back and a defensive midfield player. And now that BigEars has sadly gone, possibly, another defender. Given that the BFG is gone in a year I assume it will be a German defender. Without that we’ll be below our required level of Nazis in the team to remain in Europe. We should snap up Lemar and pass on Gotze (even though he’s a Kraut). We also have to dump Debuchy, Gibbs, Jenkinson and Perez. I’d also vote for consigning Theo to after match interviews and promoting Nelson. So, good-bye it is to BigEars. It’s rare you come across such an ugly looking player; you’ll be missed.

Apologizes for the long rant today. I can’t cry today – it’s too early in the season and it’s important to pace out the disappointment we’re inevitably going to feel in February. I’m surprised I’m not angrier. But I fear there’s more trouble ahead of us unless we strengthen this team. We are close but not at the same level as Sp*rs, Manchester*2. Next week we’ll find out how we stack up against the Cutinho missing lot; we just can’t cave in up there. Sure, it’s only game three but it will again demonstrate something about the soul of this team.

-LB7

 

 

 

Aug 5th – The worst of the worst

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This summer has been somewhat challenging. Not because SMERSH/Spectre have succeeded in occupying both Downing Street and the White House at the same time. Not because it’s Florida in Iceland and Morocco in London. Not even because PSG, a team owned and operated by a country, have raided their piggy-bank to waste the GDP of the four poorest countries in the world on a single player.

No, it’s worse than that. I have come to the realization that my hatred and contempt for Sp*rs might be diminishing. This got me to thinking (hm, unlikely I know). Which teams in England do I hate the most? In the past that was a simple answer. It would be:

  • Sp*rs
  • Sp*rs Reserve Team
  • Sp*rs Ladies team (see #1)

But not so any more. How did this come to be? How can this be possible? Will the world now come to a crushing end? After much therapy it seemed only proper that I analyzed the situation to see what the rationale for this horrid state of affairs could be.

So, who would win the Cu*t Premiership League? Here’s how the table looked come the end of the season:

Missing the cut for qualification to the Cu*ts Champions League is Liverpool. Their manager should have been our next manager – once our glorious leader surpasses the reign of Elizabeth II. Their fans are pompous; they still hark back to the ‘70’s and ‘80s when they genuinely dominated. And they think they are way better than they actually are. How I miss the days of Brendon Rogers. He was so wonderfully inept that alone would have kept them out of the top 5.

That team in #4 spot. How could they drop 3 spots?  Because they are now the mini-me of Arsenal except removed 15 years. How can you hate a team that wants to be just like you? Look at their ownership; compare Levy to Dein? Hard to see much difference. Then look at the manager. He’s a mini-Wenger in training. If he stays there 15+ years he’ll be the real thing. They have invigorated their youth policy and he’s prompted younger players. The average age of the team is 12 ½. Their ground is too small so they are spending billions to expand the stadium to the size of Ashburton Grove + 1. Even their transfer policy sounds like ours of 10 years ago where we could not afford to pay players nor sign new ones because of the crushing debt of the new stadium. Even their excuses sound word for word what Fiszman, Gazidis and AW would say about how they only wanted to add someone of real quality and how there’s so little value in the market. They are also on the cusp of running into the wages cap issue whereby their best players – in a year or two – will start to get poached because they’ll be able to double or triple their wages; Walker is but the first example. Not quite Clichy but more a Nasri. And then there’s their style of play now. High press, technical and very watchable. A team populated with some good players and some big noses. Add all this together and you can see they’ve modelled themselves on their superior local neighbor; they are now our younger brother trying to finally grow up. The by-product of which is that it makes them much harder to detest. They have a decent team playing good football with a manger who’s smart and pending new stadium. Of course, their fans are still complete wankers. But you can’t have everything. And none of the above means anyone actually likes them

Deciding between #2 and #3 is like deciding between being punched in the face or kicked in the balls. Who really cares? Both these teams are completely plastic. Prior to their infusion of money no-one, aside from a small number of loyal fans, gave two shits. Both teams had moments of success in the ‘60s and ‘70s. And both teams subsequently got related. Each were taken over by billionaires. Then, all of a sudden, they have hordes of loyal fans who knew nothing of these no-name, no-history teams. Man City, have demonstrated the willingness to waste more money on more players than any other team in England. it’s where English players go to retire. i.e. Delph. Or Sterling. Look at the dross they sign from Spain. Navas? They have two entire teams in their squad. But they have no class. And when both sugar-daddys move one to other distractions, both clubs will revert back to their prior no-name status.

Chelski grab the #2 place purely based on the acidic combination of Abramovich, Terry and DarVader. And it’s the latter that differentiates them. The most dreary team to win the league (prior to Conte, that is); the most toxic manager of all time and the worst advert for the Premier league.

But taking the #1 spot this year (and last) has to be ManU. The team that sold their soul to DarVader. The team that spends more money on overrated players and still manages to tarnish their reputation by playing the most boring football known to man. As irritating at Ferguson was his teams knew how to play attacking football. They buy Pogba, Henrick and Bailey and still fail to get in the top 4. So far they added Lukaku etc for another £150m. And, that fucking manager; the biggest dick in the entire premier league. He’s now spent in excess of £350m on his team. And yet they are like his old Chelski team. Devoid of entertainment and based around the fear of losing. This club has lost any respect it had built over the last 60 years. Their manager is the devil; he is the antithesis of what we expect from the beautiful game. How could DarVader have grown up in the Barca system under the tutelage of Robson and with Cruyff still in the club.

So as much we have a rivalry with Sp*rs and are therefore contractually required to hate them, for the long-term good of football I find myself funneling the bulk of my anger and vitriol at the despicable red devils in the north. If only DarVaders fate could match that of Joffrey Baratheon; then the north could be saved by Jon Snow. Then, finally, the natural order can be reestablished and we can go back to hating those cu*ts at WHL.

-LB7

August 3rd – Pre-Season Ramblings Part II

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Due to the overwhelming demand and ecstatic reaction to Part I of this fascinating analysis I have been compelled, in order to reduce civil unrest, to post Part II of this trilogy. Except this trilogy will consist of just two parts. So, as promised, let the drivel continue.

So let’s start with an apology. I was so quick to focus on the Charity/Community/Pointless Cup that I neglected to predict that we would be in the position yesterday to raise aloft the Emirates Cup. How they must be celebrating on the streets of Dubai – though they most probably don’t have streets there just 100 story hotels and 100 degree temperatures.

Which is a perfect segway into one of my favourite topics. FIFA. The organization that makes you pine for the return of the Mafia. If you put FIFA alongside the English FA it would make ask why it is that you can never find a suicide bomber when you need one.

So after the departure of Sepp Fatter and his French cohort Fattini, some might have thought the corruption had been exorcised from this shameful organization. However, so no great surprise the corruption that remains FIFA.

How funny is it to see 6 Arab states (rightly) complain about Qatar being the hosts for the FIFA world cup. They obviously woke up one morning and realized that this was not such a wonderful nation. A few years after having received the obligatory bribes and having gloriously voted for them. Was it because of the sweltering heat? Was it because there is absolutely zero interest in football in this country. Was it because in the long litany of corrupt and absurd FIFA decisions the most egregious mind numbingly corrupt of all decisions? Was it because it because the choice was based on the lie that the competition would be held in the summer rather than causing all the European leagues to rearrange their fixtures to accommodate a winter WC games? Amazingly, it was not of the above (abbreviated) reasons. No, it was because of honest to goodness politics. Of course, we all know that FIFA is above the dirty, smelly drudgery of politics – just like they are with money and corruption. Chuck Blazer must be turning in his grave, if, that is he’s in the ground yet and there’s a coffin large enough to allow him to rotate. Rant over.

What’s happened to the transfer window? How comes, on a relative basis, that there’s so little activity? Aside that is from the insane Neymar transfer. This both links back to corruption and forward to our needs in this window. The common thread is Qatar. Is it possible on planet earth to value let alone pay this much for one player?  And a player that is not that wonderful. And you can be sure he won’t deliver. Just look how he performed in the Brazil WC when the pressure was on. If Ibra could not bring a CL trophy PSG then Neymar certainly won’t. And where exactly is this money coming from? It’s the Qatar Sovereign Fund. Aren’t they supposed to earn a return on their investment? I don’t understand how EUFA and FIFA can stand by and helplessly watch. It’s funny to remember who the shirts sponsors of Barca are though. Speaking of Barca, it will distort everything else because Barca will now have a spare $200m to spend. Not that they need to. But they will. Will that mean the end of Hector for us and Courtinho for Liverpool? Then the ripple effect will start.

Closer to home, it’s good to see that we got Cigarette in early along with the Bosnia tank. We do that every now and then (remember Vermallen?). However, we both need more i.e. Lemur. And we need to flog off some of the refuse. Gibbs has been a fine servant but there’s little need for him now. It’s a shame he never took his opportunity when injuries and loss of form of Monreal opened the door. But at least he was given a chance. Unlike Perez. He’s outdone Campbell (Joel, that is) in getting shown the door when nearly all the fans thought he was a strong addition. He was our Spanish Podolski – albeit without the attitude but with the same rocket left foot. Rumour has it that he was not a AW signing. But, who knows the truth?

It’s also time to say good-bye again to Carl. He’s like the right-back that refuses to leave. I’m sure if we stopped paying him he’d still stay. It’s rare you find someone who actually loves the club. Shame he was short on the talent side. But then, if it was solely based on love of the club I would make fine full-back – but, given my sweet left foot it would have to be at the expense of Monreal. And I could help with the need to keep an English core. The more I think about the more sense it makes for me to reach out to AW. Let’s face it, I’d neither be a burden on the transfer fee nor wages. I’d tick so many boxes. Apart from a few pounds there’s not much difference between me and Santos.

Jack the lad is in a hole. It’s not clear he’ll be around much longer. But, like our Lexus, I hope we sell him overseas. I’d hate to see him in the Premier League. That assumes Jack can come through his recuperation without another injury. Maybe he was work with Santi on combined their various ligaments to make the perfect midfield player.

That’s the obituary for 5 players. OK, so I can’t add but that’s only because I don’t actually want us to loose Chambers (yet). And, of course, most of them are English. Go figure. Given a choice the one player I would actually pay to get rid of would be Ob1. He could easily be previous years Theo of Ox. He has that wonderful ability to underperform; to have big performances in little games. Anyways, these departures will free up some wages and bring in a little transfer money. And on the subject of money….

More TV money only helps the clubs the next level down. The top teams are maxed out already they don’t need more money; they need more players. And the players don’t want to go and sit on the bench – they want to play (well, the good ones anyway). The end result being that the second tier teams are getting lifted up. This all makes it more competitive and actually harder for the top teams to maintain their position. Which also impacts their potential revenue stream. Which means teams need to diversify away from tv revenues and get into world wide marketing. That’s the only way – apart from being funded by Russian or Middle Eastern billionaires – of surviving the mad rush to the top of the league. And, if the TV revenues reverse direction then the fun will begin. If and when the movie gets played in reverse and we’ll see the destruction of a number of clubs. While it’s not likely, at some point, the TV revenues have to at least reach an equilibrium. Then it will be just the ego-driven megalomaniacs that are seeking to sink hundreds of millions to satisfy their egos.

The great Untold Arsenal website talks about prior winners not competing in the champions league – Chelsea and Leicester. Unfortunately, none of them has to play in the Europa Cup otherwise known as the NoHopa cup.

Phew. All my reviewing done for one pre-season. One useless game to come this weekend and then onto a Friday night season opener. What moron at the FA thought this was a good idea? What the hell am I supposed to do for the entire weekend once this game is done on Friday?

-LB7

May 21st – Arsenal 3 Everton 1

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Twenty years. Pfew up in smoke. It was never in our hands today. And there was now chance LFC could blow it against a relegated team. It was delusional to think otherwise (especially when Martin Atkinson is the referee). But that’s not the point. That will come (hopefully) later on.

Today we dominated for the first 14 minutes and then found a way to win and we lost various center-halfs. It’s hard to know how to describe this game or it’s relevance. It’s not clear to crowd cared that much or the Everton players. It was also tough to get too involved emotionally in the game. After the season we’ve suffered through and knowing the inevitable result that would come from Anfield I suspect most were already emotionally drained. Nonetheless, we did play well, started quickly out of the blocks and deserved to take the lead. And then deserved to go down a man. As Koz went charging towards the ball I was screaming to hold back but he went Mustafi-like into a challenge he could not win with both feet off the ground. It was not a difficult decision for Oliver. It’s a shame thereafter Oliver could not retain that consistency; how Williams stayed on the pitch after he’s first booking is hard to fathom. Not that it mattered.

Back to that first goal. All Ozil all the time. Today he showed yet further glimpses that that he’s re-discovered his game. He was way more involved in our play and some of his individual flicks and moves were delightful. On a number of occasions, he was able to maneuver the ball in tight circumstances when mere mortals would have lost the ball. He was the conductor of that first goal. Poor Welbeck. It will take a long-time for him to live down that miss. He’ll be experiencing nightmares for along time – as he should. Fortunately, Bellerin was playing today not Bellend and we took the lead.

The second goal was weird. Their entire defense stopped as Welbeck pondered on what to do. Eventually though he passed to Alexis who slotted it away. Not bad while being down to 10 men. Everton had their chances. Unsurprisingly our defense was all over the place; Monreal continue to bomb up field and we had little cover in-front of our defense. BigEars though saved us on a number of occasions – he really did excel today. Holding was also pretty good – aside from when he was in our penalty area trying to hold the ball. Cech continued to stabilize the defense. And it was good to see him run up the pitch (and even better that he did not pull his calf or hamstring) to badger Oliver to lobby him to send off Williams for his second yellow offense.

We lost our second center-half in the second half. BigEars had been so dominant; one of his most impressive performances. Oliver managed to find a way to still give him a yellow as he was carried off even though he won the ball without going through the back of the player. So that’s two center-halfs will be missing at Wembley. Am I glad I won’t be there in person to suffer.

Even with 10 men we continued to create chances while Lukaku continued to miss the numerous ones he had. In fact, Cech barley had an extraordinary save to make. Ozil, Welbeck and Ob1 all had chances to score on the break. Alexis also pulled the strings along with Ozil. Ramsey was, again, way more effective when he plays further up the pitch. Xhaka was solid with some perfect cross-field, pinpoint passes. It was as surprising to see him be the one to make way for our Coq as it was that we had to wait so long to see him appear. Overall, agains, we played quite well and showed more progress in the transition from Bolton/Burnley back to Arsenal. But, really, who gives a shit. Irrespective of next week-end, we failed.

So, what’s the point? We missed out on Champions League football. We’re now consigned to the tinpot Europa Cup where Sp*rs have lived for decades. How pathetic is this? We’ll now have to look forward to Thursday Night football against Sparta Boobies United from the third division of the Macedonia part-time league. An entire generation of Arsenal fans have no idea what this is like. I think someone we know quite well once said “If you eat caviar every day it’s difficult to return to sausages”. One of my first memories was when we won the Faris Cup (the predecessor to the Europa) – our first cup for 17 years back in the early ‘70s. It lead to the double the following year. Unfortunately, this feels more like we’re going in the reverse direction.

Before we get to fully diagnose this year implosion and all the pending critical summer decisions and the pleasure of playing in the YourNoHopeA Cup, we have the small matter of an F. A. Cup final against the Russians. I’m guessing we’ll go into that game without Koz or BigEars. That will put Mustafa (if he’s recovered) alongside Holding and then the decision will be whether we have the BFG or Monreal in the back three. Without Ox and with Gibbs injured (and useless) it’s not clear how we’ll line-up. And let’s hope Alexis and strap himself together.

I’m just grateful I won’t have to be there in the stadium watching Ramsey back-heeling the ball into the path of Hazard as he races through to set up Diego to slide it past Cech. I’ll at least be able to suffer the pain in the comfort of my own surroundings. Of course, the walls will be bear the brunt of the broken bottles and thrown food.

Today was not unexpected. It’s just galling that we missed by just a single point. It brings even more into focus the abject pathetic nature of our Watford, Crystal Palace and West Brom performances. Sure we won the last 7 but by then it was all over. Ahead of the Wembley game I’ll hold off for now on how we finally MAGA and, likewise, (though it overlaps) with a dissection of our squad.

Today marks the end of an era. Let’s hope next week is the cherry on the top of the era rather than yet another step down the slippery slope to mediocrity.

-LB7