April 20th – I love Arsene Wenger

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What a great day. A momentous day. What a great victory for everyone today. For Arsene Wenger, for Arsenal Football Club, for the fans and for our future.

This had to happen. Maybe not today but it was coming. It could have been next year. But the longer it went on the worse this was going to get. It was clear it was ending but the fear was about how it would end. Change was a coming. And this was the perfect way to instigate it.

Given the ineptitude the club has shown in the last 5 years it’s a miracle that they pulled this off.

I am so relieved. So excited. And, of course, fearful for what the future holds. But that last part was always going to be the case. Whatever happens after such a profound period of leadership was always going to be fraught with dangers. But, for the moment, today was not about the future. Oh, OK, of course it is – it’s how about to navigate towards it.

So today, I’m happy. I’m relieved. I’m proud and I still and always will love Arsene Wenger. Long live Arsene Wenger. No-one can possible emulate what he’s achieved nor the style, intellect and honesty with which he’s conducted himself.

So today was perfect. Perfect for everyone concerned.

Perfect for Arsene Wenger. He gets to leave with his head held high. He got to announce his own departure. No firing. No embarrassment. He controlled his own destiny. No mess. And a complete surprise. The club allowed AW the grace of an exit that will just heap more praise on this great man. Well done AFC. And well done Arsene.

What perfect timing. He now has two home game in the EPL to receive the praise and love that he deserves. He’ll gets his laps of honour. He will surely he serenaded throughout the next two home games by the emotion and love from our fans.

The stands will be full again. These games will now be events. It will be all about AW. As it should be. Gone (for the moment) will the critics and doomsayers. Gone will be those petulant, temperamental, self-indulgent so-called fans that tried to diminish AW. We can enjoy the end to the season and focus on King Arsene. We can celebrate the end of a wonderful reign.

And then there’s the small matter of the NoHopa Cup. If this does not motivate and focus the players nothing will. Not that I believe in this team. But just maybe they will find a way past Atletico. Now they surely know they are playing for their futures. Here is their chance to allow AW to leave with a European trophy. It’s in their hands now.

What perfect timing. Now all the best managers in Europe who were thinking of moving on now know that the perfect job is out there. To manage Arsenal. This will stop the best candidates in their tracks. No-one will now sign for PSG or anyone else before knowing whether they might be offered this throne. Sure, it’s too late for Kovac as he’s off to BM. But all the others will now want to wait and see.

Perfect for all those players off to the corrupt WC in corrupt Russia. Players who might have thought twice about coming to a club who’s manager was operating under a cloud will now bide their time, not sign for other teams and wait to see who’s going to be the manager. Whoever our manager is they will be given a budget. We have a Director of Recruiting ready and waiting. And now the best players will now know they also might get the call.

And perfect for our players. They now know they have to play for their careers at Arsenal. Aside from Ozil and Aubameyang no-one is really safe. This is a wake-up call for them all. And after the last 3 months, a welcome wake up call.

And the timing is perfect for us, the fans. We get to emote all about AW for weeks with certainty while knowing what the outcome is. We can relieve the (many) great moments and share our love and appreciation for the best manager in our history. Rather than have him sulk off in the close season just before or after the corrupt WC in corrupt Russia, we can instead focus on the praising and thanking AW.

The future was always going to be uncertain. Just look at what happened at Man United. In fact, 5 years on, look at what’s still happening.

Except, just maybe, this perfectly timed move also demonstrates that just maybe there is a viable, sustainable strategy at Arsenal FC. This move today was clearly orchestrated by the club. Have no doubt. They forced Wenger out. But they did it with style, class and dignity. They upheld the fine traditions of Arsenal FC.  Unlike the trash in West London, we are not a human garbage disposing club. Nor, like that lot up the road, a revolving door of no-body managers. Here the club teed up the background support players for the last year and then ever so gently shepherded the best manager this club has ever seen, to the exit doors, opened the door and then allowed him to leave of his own volition. Perfectly done Arsenal FC. That’s the best I could have hoped for. I bet they will unveil his statue before the new season starts.

I love this timing. It could not have happened a week or so because we had to get past CSKA first. And it had to be announced before a home game and then leave enough home games to celebrate Wengers’ reign. He was never going to resign. He was way too vested in AFC. And, I’m sure, he still believes he can manage.

And so, for AW, it’s perfect timing. It gives other clubs plenty of time to consider him as a manger. Good for AW he deserves that. Football is his life. And perfect timing if he wants the French job after the corrupt WC is over. I believe the PSG job has gone already but there will be plenty of clubs who’d want him for a few years. And why not? A change in venue might do him good. Maybe he could take from us Mustafi?

But today is not a day for negative thoughts. Today we handled a difficult situation perfectly. We have removed the vitriol surrounding the club. We have finally embraced out future. Sure, it’s filled with uncertainty. That’s because we’ve taken for granted what we’ve had for the last 22 years. So, welcome to the real world. The one where every other team operates. But what we have though is the platform that our King has bequeathed to us. We have the reputation and style of play that now defines our expectations.

Of course, we will desperately miss him. But, again, this was inevitable. The beginning of the end started a few years back. This was on the cards. But I’d always feared a monstrous melt-down with those moronic co-called fans being disruptive and our board being indecisive.

Instead we have our club actually getting out in front and managing change. They are controlling the change rather than have the change manage them. And, that, quite frankly, is a surprise. Though this had to happen I did not see this coming today or any time soon. But it’s perfect.

I know, for example, my idiot children, if they are still reading this (not that I’m sure they can all actually read) will be in tears. This is the only Arsenal manager they have ever known. Their security blanket has been removed. It’s emotionally scary. This has been their one invariant. The one thing that never changed. The one certainty. The one consistent in a mad, ever changing world.

But, as a supporter for more than 50 years. As someone who had to watch Terry Neil as manager, let me tell you, there will be many amazing stories and experiences ahead for Arsenal. They will just be different without Wenger. But the club will persist and, hopefully, step up to the level this club should be at. But whatever happens this will always remain our team.

I’m also aware and surprised at my own reaction. I would have expected to have been more emotional. More depressed. More sad. Maybe I’m in denial. I do denial better than anyone I know. Maybe tomorrow I’ll wake up and realize I’m despondent and gutted. Maybe I’ll realize this is one the saddest day of my life. Maybe I’ll realize this is an end of an era that marked a period in my life that spanned the birth of the majority of my children and spanned most of the important events in my life. Maybe introspection will kick in.

But for the moment, I’m just relived that I can see a path forward that is positive for all concerned parties. There is something today for all of us. The manager, the club, the players (both present and future) and, us the fans. It’s a perfect day.

Now let’s get to both venerate Arsene and start the process of embracing our future.

Did I mention that I love Arsene Wenger?

-LB7

April 14th – Newcastle 2 Arsenal 1

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Luckily this was a meaningless game. It meant nothing really. So it’s hard to get upset about the result. But, boy, am I going to try my best. Unlike Arsenal.

What a joke. Honestly, I think I care more than most of these players. I’ll give a pass on this one to Willock. It must be tough to start your first Premier League game surrounded by such an abundance of averageness. He was not involved enough, required too much time on the ball but had so few options available when he did have the ball. There was so little movement of players in good positions it would have been difficult for anyone let alone an 18 year old.

It also would have been good to see Maitland-Niles start. When he came on he was both fast and technical. There was one race back towards his own goal that if the prior right back and still been on the pitch would have had a different outcome. Slimani was both physical and fast yet MN held him off, won the ball and passed it off. This kid is good. He just needs more time. Playing time that is.

The other youngsters are not so young anymore. I look at Chambers and can often see hope. Likewise with Holding. But they are so English. Both lacking pace and destined to make costly mistakes. Not that they were at fault for either goals. No, for that we have the pleasure of our more experienced players. It’s hard to see how these two Englishmen will ever improve when the first team players can be so abject.

Their first goal was well taken but there were so many gaps in our midfield and defense – and in goal. Neither defensive midfield player tracked back – Elneny let Perez slide by and Mustafi was too slow to the ball whereas Cech should have done better. But, as ever, we’d already defused their attack with Holding see the ball out to our left. The danger had been minimized but we failed to close them down.

That though looks like world class defending compare to that second goal. All day long this defense looked suspect. It lacked organization and discipline. And that is the responsibility of Mustafi and Monreal. And both were 100% at fault for that second goal. Newcastle had not had any real shots on goal. This was a throw-in and yet no-one picked up their man. Monreal drifted infield. Mustafi was essentially unchallenged on his header but, because he’s a brainless buffoon, rather than head the ball upfield or out to the sidelines instead headed it infield. But then Monreal, out of position, doubled down on that mistake by heading it off to their players. Again, two ever so simple mistakes that make Newcastle look like world-beaters. By this point the entire defense was out of position. Our two senior defenders judgement had just thrown away 1 if not three points. We’ve seen this happen so often this season that it can’t be considered an accident or random. This defense is inept. And, hm, let me think, where does the blame lie? Oh, I have a novel idea. It’s Mustafi. That constant disaster that is always just one pass away from exposing our defense. Today, aside from these two mistakes, he could be seen charging upfield – inside their half – for challenges that left the entire defense exposed as he was invariably late to the ball. A better team than Newcastle would have crucified us. Mustafi’s general leadership though is what sinks everyone around him. And it’s not like that takes too much. This season is a joke – a complete right-off – but over the summer we have to bring in two center-halfs. Mustafi is toast – he’s done. But I fear Chambers and Holding won’t make the cut either. They can operate as back-ups – our Smalling and Jones if you like – but they can’t be the starting center-halfs.

Ok, standard rant now out of the way, lets go further on this team. There was no creativity. The one goal we did get came from a lottery ticket of a pass to BigA who’s brilliant first touch and pass allowed Cigarette the opportunity to demonstrate what a great finisher he is. But, aside from that move, there was very little creativity in this team today. Elneny was not even half the player he was in Moscow. Xhaka was quiet today. It’s not clear that either bring out the best in each other. In the past month both have improved their performances but today they seemed to cover the same ground and duplicate each other. Our build up play was too slow and too predictable. With the £100m+ talent ahead of them they needed to move the ball quicker.

And then of course there’s that waster of space Ob1. It was inevitable that he had to start today because in meaningless games like this we don’t mind carrying a player. He’s basically cannon fodder to protect better players from having to play. And, as ever, he will have some good moments and show ball skills. But he’s basically useless as a contributor to our team. He’s pass selection is awful and he takes too many touches. The good news is that once AW leaves so will he – no other manager would keep him on this squad.

I don’t care where we finish in the league. Pride will be dented if Burnley finish above us sure. But in previous years we’ve seen Chelsea finish even lower. Our focus has to be the NoHopa Cup. What’s more amazing than that is that it’s even possible that we could be finishing this low in the table. But then that’s what happens when you lose your last 5 away games in a row. I don’t care if and when AW says it’s a confidence issue. We lost to shit teams like Newcastle, Brighton, Stoke etc. And we’d often score first and then still lose. And I don’t care that we were missing half our team today. No team we put out should be losing todays’ game. And not the way we did. How many chances did we create today? How many saves did their goalie make? Even when we’d gone behind, and with 4 forwards on the pitch, how often did we create any chances? Exactly. We are entirely dependent on Ozil. And Ramsey (I can’t believe I just said that part). On Thursday Elneny helped but today Xhaka nullified him. So we were just so boring and average today.

What is up with Kolinsac? Why was he on the bench today? What has happened to this guy? Why won’t they play him. Today was a day to rest Monreal. And boy did he show why. He’d been injured and missed a bunch of games. This was one he should have been rested for. If Kolinsac is not good enough today would have been a day to find out.

Even when Man U prioritized the NoHopa Cup last year they did not choke in games like this. It’s just poor organization from a poor organization. Sure, no-one really cares about this game. But it’s endemic of the problems at this club. Look how Liverpool reacted after their ManC victory. They played the same players and demolished Bournemouth. What do we do? We regress. That is the story of this season. We are regressing. The NoHopa Cup – even if we, by some miracle, win that does not explain the directionless of this team. It requires an entire defensive reconfiguration. This defense is in intensive care and requires major live saving surgery. And, we know where this will start. Mr. AW holds the key to our future even though it should really be the Board of the club. But no other club would accept todays display along with the prior away losses. It used to be that we moaned about how many point we were away from the league leaders. No the bar has been lowered so much that we are now looking at the same points difference between us and 4th place. That is pathetic. And it’s so boring. The club is in danger of anesthetizing it’s fan base. It’s sucking all hope from it’s fans with it’s predictable demise. There is so little fun to be had by watching this team. How can you possibly go up to St. James Park, go 1-0 up and still lose? But then, as previously noted, we’ve managed to do that as so many other grounds.

Today is not about the fact that our defenders can’t defend. Nor that Ob1 is utterly useless and contributes nothing. It’s about, as it always is, the future of this club. We do have some world class players. And I know most were not playing today. But you can’t compete in the PL if you have at least ½ the team populated by Championship League type players. Apart from our two big singings, who might get into the team of any of the top 5 teams? Exactly.

I don’t know when our next game is. And I think that’s healthy for my sanity.

-LB7

April 8th – Arsenal 3 Southampton 2

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It’s been a while. I’ve been in a month long recovery program. I needed to cure my addition to supporting a previously exciting, entertaining and competitive football team. Thankfully the stupid international break intervened to help me ween myself off the perpetual disappointment and frustration of watching Arsenal. I can’t remember when I last could be arsed to write a review given that the observations were entirely predictable from game to game and nothing is really changing. Or is it?

So why now? Maybe there’s a glimmer of hope. Maybe the light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming express train. Sure we won. As we did against Stoke and CSKA. But I think there are some themes that continue to shine through the dark clouds of Arsenal.

Mark me down as a skeptic for Aubameyang. I’ve not really gotten my head round this signing. All he’s DM goals were poachers goal. And we know how unsuccessful fox-in-the-boxes has been at Arsenal – just google Francis Jeffers. But, even with the moronic haircut, he does score goals.  And though our dearly missed French hulk could have started that first goal scoring move, Giroud would still be rotating to run into the box by the time the ball had already hit the back of the net. So, maybe, just maybe I’ll be convinced that the BigA can help us.

Did I mention that I love MickeyTarren? I liked him before he signed for DarthVader. And I love him now. Though I’m worried that this knee injury could wipe out his season. But, combined with BigA we are far better moving forward. And I’ve always appreciated a good Cigarette. Especially ones that scores. And as Bould noted, he is a surprisingly good football player. One that can now score goals – even if he did not today.

I don’t really know what to do with Welbeck. From week to week he is more BadBeck that GoodBeck. Today we saw the two extremes. He’s first goal was a classic deflection and he’s last was an opportunistic, aggressive game winning goal. But just before that we saw that most classic of Badbeck misses from inches out. Only Danny could miss that. But, he worked hard the entire game and provided cover for our fullbacks. And boy, did we need that help.

This defense is beyond porous. We should set up a tax deductible charity for the amount we give away. If there is one (and trust there is more than one) clear end of season action it’s to get as much money as we can for Mustafi. He’s beyond unreliable. He is a contagious disaster waiting to happen. Sure, he’ll score the odd vital goal. He can be aggressive and determine in challenging for the ball. But he’s a liability. Too many times this year we’ve seen him make just bone-head decisions. Today was truly pathetic. No other premier league center-half would even dream of not taking responsibility for clearing that ball. It’s your job. And nearly every time he would do that. He put himself in the right position and he would normally do the right thing. But that’s the problem with him. He has brain-farts. Consider the Man City game. Consider some of his distribution. And, I fear, his unpredictability is spreading like a virus through the team. Consider the goal against CSKA when he panic hoofed the ball across the penalty box. I don’t understand how a German International can make these bone-head decisions. But nor should we expect him to change. He might be quite young, at 25, but I fear for Arsenal (even more than I already do) if we preserve with him beyond this season. He is contaminating Kosclieny who’s form has noticeably deteriorated. It could be the accumulation of injuries or it could be the disease that is he’s partner. But rather than thinking we need another center half it’s now looking like we might need two.

Also, it’s getting harder to distinguish between Mustafi and Chambers. Except, just maybe, Chambers might be better. His problem, aside from looking like Mustafi, is that he’s too slow. And he’s distribution is dodgy as well. It says something when the best defender is Bellerin – except today he wasn’t. We did not have one. However, mid-week he was.

The team selection made sense today. I was excited to see Nelson in the team but, of course, that was offset by the presence of Ob1. He’s even worse than Mustafi except that he plays less frequently now we have MickeyTarren. And thank god for that. Today was classic Ob1. Basically useless interspersed with the odd moment of football skill that makes one think that maybe, just maybe there is potential in this boy and that we should persist. But, I remember that we’ve been saying the same thing now for two years since he scored on his debut against Everton. He’s stood still – literally. He should not be on this squad let alone on the team. He is the poster boy for why this team is unbalanced and broken. On no other top 6 premier league team would he be in the starting eleven. I don’t even think Burnley would take him. He runs around with those flailing arms making poor decisions and incapable of scoring. For example, he’s “attempt” against CSKA mid-week. He is just not good enough. And never will be. It makes me angry that he gets playing time. At least Welbeck works hard and chases back. Ob1, in the Ozil position today, showed the odd moment – he’s through ball to Welbeck for that second goal. At this level though that’s not sufficient. We can’t wait on these one-off moments and then carry him for the rest of the game. It’s mind blowing to think of the grief that Ozil used to attract for he’s perceived lack of effort and contribution. From the beginning he showed he’s world class talent. It’s inconceivable that Ob1 could be in the same team as Ozil. The gulf in ability is far too wide to be explainable by age alone.

So, onto our last enigma. As skeptical as I’ve been on BigA I’ve been a believer in Jack. Something is going on though with Jack. And it’s not good. Today he was outright awful. He was off the pace from the first moment. Not a single pass worked for him. He lost possession. He walked around the pitch. He gave the ball away. We were noticeably weakened when he came on. That’s when we started to backtrack and give into the pressure from Southampton. What has happened to Jack? It can’t be related to his contract situation because once he’s on the pitch that is surely forgotten. And it’s not just today. He was clearly our weakest link midweek. It was only the utter brilliance of Ozil and Ramsey – with help from MickeyTarren and Cigarette – that enabled us to function. Jack was slow, passive and predictable. He was never the quickest player on our team but now he seems to run backwards. In a foot race between him and Giroud I think both of them might lose. My suspicion is that he’s not entirely fit but is fighting through is. He had additional rest over the international break because of his knee injury but he’s come back even worse. But, currently, he’s a massive risk for us. And destined to leave for another team. It would be such a shame after all these years but it’s not looking like he can find his game. He was lucky not to get a red card along with Stephens. He lost the ball on the edge of their penalty area with another pass that was mistimed – he was just off the pace of the game from his first touch. Then as he backtracked he fouled Stephens multiple times and ripping his shirt. All he had to do was push him over if he was being out-paced by a six foot center half. Instead he basically got Elneny sent off as Mariner decided he needed to even up the red card count. Elneny barely touch the Southampton player. And know we’ll miss him for three irrelevant league games. But that also means that the chances of Jack and Ob1 both playing have increased. That kills me. Now I have two players (at least) that I pray are not on our starting team sheet. Which is also why we need MickyTarrien. Here’s a player who Bellerin can actually link up with. Obviously, he could never do that with Walcott nor Ob1. Bellerin’s improvement has correlated directly with the existence of the Armenian.

We got three useless points today. We saw a goal scorer ply his trade and another hard-working Englishman scrap two goals. It’s lucky we had Stoke and Southampton though. Because our defense is shameful. Even against CSKA. If they had someone other than a failed Leicester center-forward, we could have been sunk. And I for one do not believe this game is over. We saw against Osterland from Norway how porous we can be. After the travel out there and with Koz and Mustafi in defense I could still see us throwing this one away. Beyond that it’s hard to see how we could win this. Any half decent team (Athletico, Lazio etc.) will cut us apart.

It’s lucky we can score goals. It’s lucky that we have the best creative midfield player in England. And we lucky that Ramsey is not (yet) injured. We can score goals. And very pretty ones. Borderline poetry. This should be sufficient enjoyment to make watching Arsenal a pleasure. But as a long-term addict, being consistently disappointed drains the fervor and passion. The expectation of unnecessary, careless failure is too painful to experience week after week. Sure we’re now in a winning streak but all the themes are still there. We need to real defensive mid-field player. Xhaka has improved but that is not his natural position.

We are now an amplified version of Arsene’s teams – sublime in attack and suicidal in defense. We were unnecessarily close to throwing away the points today. We have been the beneficiaries of penalties in recent weeks. Like London busses, you wait for ever and then two come along at the same time. But Stoke were much poorer than Southampton. They had chances today to win. Austin should have scored at the end. But by then we’d fallen back in the tepid, tame Arsenal that we were in the first half against Stoke. It’s a form of schizophrenia. We had this all season. In the league, I can’t remember when we performed for both half’s of a game.

The enjoyment in supporting this team has been on the wane for a few years now. The continual disappointment combined with the clearly sub-par player selection. This addiction has provided so much happiness that maybe it’s payback time. This is what it could be like supporting Everton, West Ham or Sp*rs. We deserve better than that. And we have some genuine world-class players who also deserve better. Come the end of this painful season the Club will have to finally make the move to protect our future. Ultimately this lands at the feet of AW. He is the one supporting Ob1, Mustafi and Jack. Its’ by no means certain that another manager will improve our cub – look at the disaster than is Man United. But it’s no longer acceptable to ignore the future. We have to finally step into it. But before then we have a journey backward in time – back into the time of the Czar and peasants. Let’s hope the don’t decide to deploy the nerve gas. It’s entirely possible our season could end in Russia just as quickly as England’s surely will.

-LB7

 

 

 

March 11th – Arsenal 3 Watford 0

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Clean sheet and Cech saves a penalty. I must buy a lotto ticket today. This is he’s third season with us. 98 games and he finally saves a penalty. And at a crucial time in the game. And he finally gets he’s 200th clean sheet. Pretty impressive. And a number of key saves in the first half. Sure he’s had dodgy games – who hasn’t in this fucked-up team – but he’s still the best GK we have. And I think he’ll remain our for a couple more years yet.

So we finally put a run together. Two wins in a row. Wow. Hard to remember when we last managed that. So let’s enjoy it while not forgetting the underlying issues still to be addressed. Today was a day to enjoy and appreciate some of the smooth, elegant play of Arsenal FC.

Ozil purred, MikeyTarrian was dangerous, MaintlandNiles was dynamic at right back and Elneny moved the ball quickly. I liked Holding today – he plays well against classic English center forwards. When it gets physical and tough he’s always up for a good fight. And today he out fought their Division 2 center forward. Playing two defensive midfield players liberated Ozil and our full backs which meant we caught them on the counter attack. The first one from which OBangThemIn missed a golden chance. It’s taking him time to adjust. I remain unconvinced by this guy but I’ll give him till the end of the season. There is an adjustment period but I do worry about the chances he misses and the lack of link up play he contributes – though he was better today again. He did take his goal well even if that utter wanker Ob1 tried to get in his way. Let’s leave that tit until later on.

Mustafi, just as he did against Sp*rs, gave us the lead care of another Ozil assist. Dreadful, Arsenal-like defending by Watford. But we dominated the first half. When I’d seen the team sheet with Ob1 and Elneny, no Wilshire, Ramsey, Kosclieny or Bellerin I was worried. However, MN linked up well with MickeyT and our interchanges had speed and simplicity such that we moved the ball around quickly and played balls in behind for OBangThemIn. Defensively Holding was tough and the midfield defensive cover worked well. I could have sworn I’d seen Xhaka running back with pace to try and help out the defense.

We were careless with the ball sometimes. MN is a little lax at times. As was MikeyT. But in the first half we looked like a team that we used to support. The second half was a different story. It felt like we handed the initiative to them. They were more aggresive and we had long periods of defending even if they had few chances. There were those annoying spells where we could not keep hold of the ball – giving it away too cheaply. If they were a better team we would have likely conceded but instead Mikey set up OBangThemIn for a neat goal. And, in classic Arsenal style within a minute or two we concede a penalty. Remarkably Cech saved that and changed the course of the game.

We also had a penalty claim waived away – in fact, Atkinson and the linesman were so far behind play they were in no position to see MikeyT hacked down in the box. But as soon as we got that third it was game over. Time to relax and save a few players for Thursdays game.

As enjoyable as today was though I remain utterly baffled and confused by Ob1. He is a walking fucking disaster. I pray for the day when he’s sold or has he’s legs removed. Or even his arms. There are random moments where he can make a great pass but for 99% of his time on the field he’s a liability. He must have the lowest football IQ I’ve seen in a long time. Sure he’s young but he’s been in this team for nearly two years and has yet to demonstrate he’s capable of developing and evolving. Today he was so infuriating. He’s final pass is awful and he’s shooting is pathetic. He looks like he just does not know what to do with the ball once he’s near goal. He is so bad than I was relieved to see him replaced by Badbeck. And as soon as he came on he contributed one touch passes – something Ob1 can’t conceive of – and improved the speed of our play. It should be noted that when we dominated in the first half it was primarily from the right side – away from Ob1. And the degree to which good things happened on the left it was because of Ozil and Kolasinac.

Consider the progress of MN and Ob1. One can play in three different positions. Once can’t play in even one. One is technical and composed on the ball. One isn’t. One has progressed in every game he’s played in while one regresses. I’m racking my brain to think of a player that upsets me as much as Ob1. I despair when I see him in the starting 11. Vermalen, at the end of his time with us, Cygan most of the time, Gervinho, Silverstre and even Santos from the last 5+ years frustrated me but none like this boy. I hate his “game”. He destroys our rhythm; he can’t score and he’s clearly not of the quality required to work alongside Ozil. I’m desperately hoping that because he started this game he won’t be playing against Milan. Hopefully Jack and/or Ramsey will be back for that one. Mind you, Jack looked shit today. He was slow in possession and got caught a few times. Hopefully it was an aberration. On Thursday in the San Siro, he looked active and helped the team move through the gears quickly.

We now have to dispense with Milan. Given our overall lack of self-belief it will only take one goal from the them to shake us into a bag of nerves. We saw what the mighty Swedes did to us in the last round. So this tie is not even close to being over. The only good news is that we are clearly (a la Man U from last year) prioritizing this competition. Resting important players for this upcoming game was sensible. Playing against the Mighty Milan means we won’t have the same sense that it’s a dead rubber. Hopefully all this will help us. But these sneaky Italians know how to play these European away fixtures.

I’m convinced (or I’ve convinced myself anyway) that AW will leave at the end of season. It would be fitting for him to depart on the high of finally lifting a European trophy. But there are many (better) teams to face – if we’re able to get past Milan. But he has more than earned the right to leave with his head held high with our undying appreciation of the way he’s molded and shaped some of (of not the) best football we’ve ever witnessed. So these remaining 8 EPL games and the NoHopaCup should be his swansong. Let’s hope he gets that. After Thursday, our remaining run of games is manageable with Stoke up after the stupid international break.

Pretty soon we’ll have to turn our attention to the identify of our next manager. My money is on either Jardim from Monaco or Low from Germany. The issue with the latter is that he won’t be available until after the Corrupt Cup in Russia. By the time he escapes Putins slimey grip it will be only weeks before the start of our season. Whereas at least with Jardim he can come on board the day to season completes. And that would leave AW to either slide over to the money pit in Paris – PSG or, less likely, take over Real Madrid. Given Wengers close ties to BeIn Sports (owned by the Qatars’) I’d expect him to return to his homeland and earn even more money. And after a few years of that to finally take over the French national team. That would be an excellent way for us all to move forward

-LB7

February 26th – Abject Arsenal

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Or is that Arsenal Abject. Or Arsenal Anonymous. We are the AA.

If that’s the end of the world then what was yesterday? The purgatory of watching Arsenal surely qualifies for some discount come the worlds end. But I fear we have not endured enough. Not to balance out those first 10 years.

How shit were we? Shitty then when we played Sp*rs. And this was a final. We were abject. It’s one thing to no longer compete for the league – or any real cups – but we can’t even play the game anymore. Once upon a time everyone criticized Arsenal and AW for not having a plan B. The complaint was that we played the best football in England but could not win leagues nor cups. Well we listened and showed them. Now not only do we not win leagues and real cups, we can’t now even play beautiful football. Others can but not us. Not today and not in any meaningful game. We line up as 3-4-2-1 which quickly reverts to 5-4-1. We defend – or try to – and park the bus. It’s awful to watch. And it’s not even a successful strategy. We now not only can’t defend we can’t attack either.

It’s hard to know where to begin. There was not a single issue or problem that we saw today that we’ve not seen multiple times this year or last. We can and won’t learn lessons. Imagine, Mustafi making a schoolboy error? Surely no? We’ve not seen that before. Whether it’s him or Xhaka or Iwobi, it’s the same players making the same mistakes. It’s also so painful to watch. If you think you’ve seen this movie before – you have.

I’ve mentioned this to others, but I don’t see the big deal with Aubamenyang. He does nothing during the game. And the one pivotal chance he got he fluffed. I’m not sure where he or Cigarette fit into this team. But then I’m it sure when anyone does. Ozil barely saw the ball. Both he and Jack were marginalized on the wings. And could neither could pass to each other. And we have no cover for our defense. There is no defensive midfield. But, this is not news. The entire world minus one person seems to know this.

We were completely overrun Sunday. This is not Arsenal. It’s hard to even get upset. This was so predictable. There is no vision or strategy on this team. There is no philosophy. When have we ever been able to say that? It was dreadful to watch. Losing a game is something that can be accepted but not even turning up to play in a final is not. This team is lost. It not only does not have leadership. It has no sense of who it is. It does not have a balanced team. It is a team that does it know who it is supposed to be. We were sent out today to play like Bolton it ended up playing like Barnet. No disrespect meant to either of those two teams.

Losing with some passion and effort is one thing but we saw neither. How can that be? What goes on in a squad when a team puts in such a lost performance. These individual players are better than the sum of the parts (well a few are anyway). This is a team with some strong individuals but within this team they perennially underperform. This team is toast. Luckily, I can still, before dementia finally sets in, wallow in the past glories of the early AW years.

Truthfully though, I’m so resigned to the outcome that it’s tough to even get upset. I’ve emotionally disengaged as I’m sure others have. It’s self-preservation really. And I think most Arsenal fans are now in this mode. After being beaten down (literally) over the last few years it’s the only sane approach. I can remember, 5 years ago, going ballistic when we dropped points at Bolton. I still have nightmares from our prior lose to Birmingham in the final. But Sunday? Nope, not even shouting at the TV. No screaming, No anger. Just despondency and a recognition that we are simply not a viable team.

How poor are we? We are so poor that we’re looking to out Sp*rs Sp*rs. We are now entering that phase where we want to bring back talisman, iconic players as manager irrespective of how unqualified they are. We are clutching at the straws they used whereby they tried to clasp onto their past “glories”. Naturally TH14 will always remain immortal but he should not even be in the conversation for a new manager. We need a manager fitting our stature and ambition (hey, I’m available for a nominal fee).

But here’s the other thing that’s abundantly clear. Don’t blame Wenger. It’s not his fault he’s the manager of Arsenal. What do people expect him to do? Resign? That’s not his job. People now despise him. They channel all their anger on him. But why? What do they expect? Why blame him? Show me one manager that has voluntarily resigned his position based on shitty performances. Over the history of English football, it’s never happened. And why should it. That’s not the managers responsibility.

Wenger absorbs and takes all the vitriol. But the people accountable for this fiasco get off scot free (not that I’ve ever known a scot do anything for free). The vitriol should be focused on the Arsenal Board and our CEO. They are responsible for hiring and firing the manager. That’s where decision should be being made. Instead, they hide behind the shadow cast by Wenger. They let him be the magnet for all the pressure. They evade their responsibilities and fail the club.

People say Arsenal can’t progress until Wenger leaves. The more accurate and fair statement is that Arsenal can’t progress until the CEO and the Board setup to their responsibilities and fire Wenger. That is their job to do. You can’t expect someone who has invested the majority of their working life to a club to walk away. No, instead, the right thing to do is to fire him and then extol his unique contributions to our once great club.

And if the final on Sunday did not demonstrate what needs to happen then we’re more fucked than I thought. Don’t worry about the NoHopa Cup. Milan? We can’t even beat Stoke. As soon we fail in this final cup competition they have to put the man out of his and our misery. But do they have the balls? I fear not. I was happy to give him another year – he had at least earned that right. But now we need to intervene and help this club. Whether the management have the football acumen to assess this and find our next manager is unknown. But you’d have to me an imbecile not to know what’s needed now. And,  unluckily for us, we have a bunch of imbeciles running the club.

-LB7

 

February 9th – Sp*rs 1 Arsenal 0

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Shit. Well that sucks. Not just the losing but the way we lost. This should have been an undeserved draw instead of three points lost. How often, in the distant past, when we had a winning team, would we give up a late goal to drop two points against a clearly inferior team.

We are now that inferior team. We know we’re not a top 4 team. But you have to take those chances. They did not take theirs and we could not take ours. Of course, if they had taken theirs, we’d have lost 4 – 0. We barely had any shots on goal – none on the first half. And then just Jacks shot before Cigarette extinguished our chances of a point.

I do wonder though about why, when he came on we moved our largest signing ever out of his natural position onto the wing. That was the position you wanted Aubameyang in. What has happened to this guy. He started the season with such style – he looked like the real deal. Now it looks like we should have sold him and kept Giroud. His confidence is shot. He looks lost. I fear he won’t be with us for much longer and he won’t get too many game time minutes. If you need an attacking substitute then Giroud is your man. But that ship has sailed.

We lost today because our team is a sixth place team. There were too many breadowns across the pitch. It’s just surprising we only lost by one goal. They were much better than us. Coming out of defense – including Cech – we gave the ball away too easily. From Bellend to Mustafa to Xhaka we were loose in possession. Too often we’d give the ball to them in our defensive area.

Our game-plan was to play like Bolton and catch them on the break. Jack and Ozil had chances to hit them on the counterattack in the first half but either the final pass was missing or the linesman made a ball call. And Henrik was off his game today. It’s a shame but, under pressure, he made a number of poor decisions and passes.

Elneny was, as ever, solid and provided some defensive cover for us. But we were exposed, for their goal by Xhaka not closing down the crosser of the ball and Koscielny failing to jump with Kane. Thereafter Cech saved our skin a few times. There was no consistency or fluency to our game. They pressured us much more than we pressured them. In the first half we ceded 2/3rds of the field and bunkered down in the final third. It somewhat worked even if it’s not how we expect Arsenal to play.

The second half start though was awful. Right from the whistle we looked unfocused and lackadaisical. All the concentration of the first half was noticeable absent at the start of the second. We backed off even further and gave them even more room. And we were sloppy with the ball. There seemed none of the drive we had in the first half. It was inevitable they would score. It’s just amazing we were still in the game right at the end when we missed our two chances.

Before that though we had a single shot. What does that say about this team? What is our philosophy and shape. What is our formation? Where is the balance? At home it’s reasonably apparent. But away from home it looks wrong.

There are too many players that aren’t of the right level. And for once we have to include Koscielny in that list. Today he was poor. And we can’t afford that. Not when we have Xhaka and Bellerin on the pitch. Our distribution down the right hand side is nonexistent. Between and Mustafa and Bellerin we create too many counterattacking opportunities for the opposition.

It was a pleasure to see Jack on the pitch. He was strong in the first half. He threaded through a number of amazing passes. I’d like to see him stay in the starting eleven even when Ramsey is back. And naturally, I’d like us to remove Xhaka.

Overall though, we are a sixth place team that looked overwhelmed and undermatched. Nothing of meaning will happen between now and the end of the year. We will excel in the odd game at home against poor opposition and fail miserably against any top 5 team in addition to losing more away games.

When will this stop? Not for another year would be my guess. This club has run out of ideas. We are now into the middle of the end. This team is no longer Wengers. He’s no longer making all the transfer decisions – there’s no way he would have bought Aubameyang let alone Cigarette. At least we have Ozil for 2+ more years. But the transition has started. And the sooner we can speed it up the better. The focus now turns to the two shittiest cups – League and NoHopa. The latter gives us our only way into the Champions League. Except that we aren’t deserving of being in that competition. We would sink without trace with this team.  We have to clean-house with the team and manager.

I’m really not that angry. It was clear, before the game, who the better team were. We played pretty well in terms of organization in the first half and were then exposed in the second. But we weren’t embarrassed. What a sad statement that is. The bar is so low now that we look not to be embarrassed. That’s where Arsenal FC is now. Outside the top 4 and looking to win the NoHopa cup.

-LB7

January 28th – Mid Season Review

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Ok, it’s not technically mid-season. But then this is not technically a review either. But it’s been a while since the last post here. This team is a changing. So, before the transfer window slams it’s door shut there are a number of observations to make.

We are shit. We are a sixth place team. The table does not lie. We play like a sixth place team. We are inconsistent. Our squad is too thin of world-class talent. And it’s now even thinner. The club has the attitude of a sixth place team. It aims low and hits that objective. We carry too many average players. How many players would even make the bench for the teams above us in the league. Do you seriously think Ob1 would make the bench? How about Danny Welbeck? Exactly. Mentally we remain fragile. How else do you explain the away-day results at Stoke, Bournemouth and the draws at West Brom and West Ham?

How did we let go of Sanchez before we lined up a proper replacement? Why have we not sign Aubameyang? We all knew at the end of the last transfer window that we had to off load Alexis before he left for free. We tried to unload him at the last minute at the end of that window and failed miserably. Where was the plan? Look how Liverpool traded Coutihno away within a few days and brought in Van Dyke? We lost Alexis for a couple of games (Bournemouth and CP) before off-loading him – why could that not have been done right at the start of the window. Sure, I know there were other teams involved. But that does not explain the lack of movement with Aubameyang.

This one is not on AW. He has been the lightning rod for our lack of movement in prior windows. When we’ve failed to land people others have projected on AW their frustrations. Through their psychic powers people were able to look into the mid of AW and blame him for being miserly with the clubs money – refusing to either pay the fee or the wages. But, just maybe, we’re seeing the real AFC here. Just maybe, it was not AW that, in the past, screwed up transfer negotiations. Remember Suarez and the £40 + 1 penny bid and that fiasco?

This one is not on AW. This one is on Gazidis. He is the one that, visibly, got on the plan to fly to Nazi-land. He’s the one who has not been able to close the deal. If we fail to land him the blame lays there. It’s not on AW nor on Dortmund. Dortmund have been quite clear what they require to close the deal. Money. We are left with three days to the end of the window and little space in which to navigate. I naively assume that this deal will get completed. Boomerang is getting booed by his own fans and we have the money and they need it. But if we fail to bring him in and supporters see other moves – heavens above if Liverpool swoop in for Lemar or Mahrez – the mood till the end of the season will be nasty.

So where is our planning, our strategy and why does everything feel like Groundhog day. We have money from Gabriel, Theo and our Cock. But we won’t get the player we seem to want. I’m not sure he’s the solution to our problems. But if the club feel he is then they should sign him.

This, of course, is one of the primary reason why Alexis wanted to leave. He did not see the ambition of the club. He did not see the desire to surround him with world-class players. Now he’s gone to Manu to play alongside such talented players as Fellaini and Herrera. Good luck mate. But, how would you feel looking around the dressing room at Arsenal and seeing some of our muppets. I understand why he only passed to Ozil. Consider how Alexis stagnated and became more selfish in his play. He had no faith in the other players. I’m not saying this was right on his part but it’s understandable. He wants to play with the best and win titles. Why would Arsenal sign him and then fail to continue to build around him.

Ironically, because of the way Alexis play degenerated into less scoring and more ball hogging, since he’s not been playing for us, our play has improved. Aside from Xhaka and Ramsey, players spend less time on the ball. There is more one touch, quick movement and speed to our play now. We are more threatening on the break and more dynamic going forward. That’s not to say I won’t be pained to see Alexis succeed at ManU; he will make them a better team. He will run his socks off and he will score goals for them. It’s going to be tough to watch. But we brought this on ourselves. We should, in fact, consider ourselves lucky to have gotten anything out of Alexis. Ironically, if we had been just a little better this year he might have stuck around till the end of the season when we would have gotten zilch. However we end up MickeyTaReAnd. Not a bad player at all. Someone who can relegate Ob1 to the bench (and beyond). But we should have managed this such that he ended up at ManCity.

We have two other players coming to the end of their contracts. So, first off – how do we let this happen? How negligent can one club be? It’s hard to imagine an analogous situation. I get reminders from my phone company to pay bills otherwise I lose service. I get threats from the bank to pay the mortgage otherwise I lose our house. I know this because it happens with regularity. So how do Arsenal allow these situations to develop? God only knows.

At least though we have one remaining world class player. Ozil has been majestic this season. The shining light in a cave of doom and gloom. He has been the one player that has been able to elevate the team to a level of play worthy of the history of this club. Forget all the bleating from fans about how lightweight and inconsistent Ozil is. All that moaning about he does not turn up for the big games. Finally, this season, even the doubters realize that this is the remaining jewel from our crown that has been stolen.

So what are the odds that Ozil is an Arsenal player next season. How do we let his contract run out? How much will it cost to replace him? Unless the plan is to play Ob1 in that position. Or maybe MikeyTaReAnd. But when Ozil looks around the changing room what must he also think? At least there are a few fellow Nazi’s to keep him company. At least he can practice his Nazi salutes and goose-stepping routines with his fellow comrades. But aside from that he must despair. And If we don’t bring in Boomerang it will certainly play into his thinking.

Whereas with Alexis the case could be made that his style was antithetical to our pattern of player with Ozil he is pivotal to it. He is the central figure in our team. In many ways he’s more important to us than Fabregas was or even Dennis. Because they at least had other world-class players around them. If we can’t keep Ozil why would any other world-class players consider Arsenal? Who, by then, would be an 8th place team. We would morph into the Everton of the Premier League.

Aside from all this, when are we going to hear any noises about signing a proper, grown-up, adult defensive midfield player? We sold our own Coq and have not considered replacing him? How is that? How do you cut off your Coq and not consider a replacement part? We have been neutered.

We can’t seriously think Elneny is that player. Clearly Xhaka is not. And it’s unfair to even think of Matiland-Niles. So, what are our options here? Rather than just focus on another forward this is the area that requires immediate attention.

interestingly, even though I’m now of the view that AW’s time is drawing to a close – and he could be gone in the summer – little has been made of his tactics. In prior years the claim was that there was no plan B and that our tactics were too rigid. Yet, even in our despair of Bournemouth, we are demonstrating flexible formations and systems. Against Chelski, after suffering for the first 20 minutes, we made formational changes that altered the outcome of the game. While the players might be abject, the tactics and the manager  – in this respect – have not.

The problem is that as the face of Arsenal AW is the lightening rod for all our problems. He is responsible for many of them but not all of them. We need a structure in place for when he does depart. Signing the head of recruiting, a contract person and other football literate people is key – though if the negotiations with Dortmund are anything to go by it’s not clear this is an improvement. We need football leadership at this club and we don’t have it. We have Wenger and when he’s gone we will pine for the days when he controlled everything. Better him than Gazidis.

Finally, broadening out to the other teams you have to laugh at Liverpool and Sp*rs . both seem to be morphing into the Arsenal of 2007+. Watching Liverpool demolish ManCity and then being felled by mighty Swansea reminded me of our inconsistency. Being so dominant going forward and so vulnerable in defense reminded me our the last 10 years of Arsenal. Maybe it all started when we bequeathed them Kolo. Just maybe he introduced a virus into their defense from which they’ve yet to recover.

As for Sp*rs, they also seem to have master the art of throwing away points. With the talent they have on the pitch aligned with their manager, they really should be way more than 3 points above us. In fact, both of these teams have flattered to deceive. With all our mishaps and cock-ups it’s remarkable that we’re only a few points behind. Of course, it will only take a few injuries and/or usually inept performances to rectify that. Both these teams are way better than us. How damming is that statement.

Remember we are a sixth place team for a reason (actually many reasons) – the table does not lie.

OK, for the moment, therapy over.

-LB7

Jan 14th – Bournemouth 2 Arsenal 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– LB7

 

January 7th – Nottingham Forest 4 Arsenal 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-LB7

 

 

December 16th – Arsenal 1 Newcastle 0

Published / by bradybergkampandbeyond / Leave a Comment

And on the eighth day the Lord created Newcastle United.  A gift to the world. Based on the arse end of the earth frequented by drole northerners and inhabited by the most ardent fans. But destined to be represented by the most average, bland and unforgettable eleven players you’ll ever see. Doubt me? Ok, let’s see if you, dear reader, can name even 4 players on their team? OK, too hard. Try two. Too hard? Thankfully they were our Christmas present today. And boy did we need one.

Today was a game where the points were paramount. We got them. But nothing else. Aside, that is, from the predictability of the performance. And the predictability of my observations. As and when AI is available I’ll be able to use that to write my reviews. Save me the trouble of finding new ways to say the same thing.

There was a different look to the formation today. Expecting a parked bus we were able to include a more offensive mid-field. And offensive it was. I was offended by Xhaka and, unfortunately, even by Jack. But mostly Xhaka. He continues to make careless passes in dangerous areas. Suffice it to say, after 1+ years of watching him,  I don’t get him. If I was going into battle I would hope he was the guy I was fighting.  For Jack, I’d been expecting more. He played higher up the pitch today and was hardly involved. And when he dropped back he demonstrated that he’d been carefully watching Xhaka by – late in the second half – giving the ball away on the edge of our box.

And as for Bellerin. WTF. He had little defensive duties but he’s so one dimensional it begs belief. And I see little if any progression in his game. He is our own Spanish Theo. All speed and no technical skills nor tactical acumen. Too often he’s faced with opportunities near the opposition goal and he does not know what to do. Sure, he was involved in our goal but even a broken clock is right twice a day. Like Xhaka he makes too many stray, careless passes. And he also prefers to play the ball sideways or backwards. He won’t use he’s speed to attack the opposition. On too many breakways he makes the wrong runs and the wrong decisions. And nothing seems to change. There is now growth, no development, no evolution. I’m sure I’ll be saying the same thing in another 3 years. Though hopefully by then his Barca-DNA will force them to acquire him for £35m. Because it’s not like we have anyone else challenging him for that role.

However, on the left we had Maitland-Niles. He was a bright light in the dour coal-minds of this game. Technical, fast and football aware. A player with a football IQ. It’s a miracle. Maybe we can try him on the right hand-side. Against real opposition you might not want him on the pitch but he shows progress and development. Maybe he can be our savior.

Because last years savior is a shadow of his former self. I’m desperate for the January window to open so we can take him down to Waitrose or Sainsbury’s or even Tesco’s and exchange him for a Christmas tree and three glasses of muld-wine. The only positive thing was that he finally got substituted before the end. Alexis is now an impediment to this team. He will score goals at some point (and maybe not for us) but currently he over elaborates, takes too many touches and is way too predictable in his movements. He slows the game down and exposes our defense by going backwards when the teams’ momentum is forward. In another 10 days he could be gone. In the meantime, he should be on the bench. We should have Giroud and Cigarette up front. Not that Cigarette was on form today. But with Jack in the #10 spot he received little service again. But he also screwed up his chip on the goalie. I like this boy (not in that sort of way, of course) but we need to just let him play the full 90 minutes.

The defense was hardly tested today but we saw Monreal return to his usual solid performance whereas Kosclieny still looks like he’s a game away from being out with an Achilles problem.

We won 1-0, we got three points. But this was basically due to one man and one man only. Ozil ruled this game. He ran our team and dominated the game. He was the only player out there that was pure class. If Alexis wants to leave to be able to play with world class players, when Ozil looks around he can only wish he had that supporting cast – and that includes Alexis. Today Ozil was masterful. And he’s goal was sweet perfection. He read that entire move and drop back in anticipation of the ball being cleared to him and then, demonstrating perfect technique buried it in the next. If only Alexis would take note. Based on the last three months if we only have to sign one of these two, as I’ve said before, grab as much money as you can for Alexis and invest in Ozil. He is our creative spark. He is our creator-in-chief. Alexis is energetic, passionate and talented. But he’s also flawed. And we’re seeing those flaws. An ideal place for him would be Man City. They have tons of money and he could not do much damage to us there. It’s not like they haven’t already won the league. It’s not like they are not already going to beat us in our next encounter. It’s not like him going there will tip the scales in their favour. So, let’s take their money. And then invest in a Khaka replacement. And let’s play Giroud up front with Ciagrette.

I appreciate that Wenger mixed up the formation today and the selection. He knows it’s not working. For all our famed creativity, we are struggling to score goals. That’s two goals in the last four games. Somehow, somewhere we have to find that right balance. It just feels a long way away. We are now entirely dependent on Ozil for our spark. Jack is missing fitness and touch. Xhaka is too bland. And Alexis is too disruptive. You know Alexis is off his game when Ob1 looks like a bigger threat.

Next up – ignoring the mid-week encounter between our reserve team in the League/Milk/Corobo/WhatsItCalled Cup – on Friday has us playing against the mighty Ox. Will he come back to haunt us as he snuggly sits on the bench? Can we possibly play as bad as we did at Anfield? Wenger will be conscious that this is a big game and that we’ll need more defensive stability. Newcastle barely troubled us. But Liverpool are an entirely different proposition. If Mustafi is fit we can resume our normal Nazi contingent and revert to a back three. Wenger might go all DarthVader on us and try parking the bus. But there won’t be a place for Jack and I suspect Kolinsac will be back – BTW, where is he?

Your humble write will be traveling over this period so normal service might be disrupted. I know this might sour many peoples Christmas period. For this I can only apologize. I realize how pivotal this website can become to the lives of so many people. How we have brought food to the hungry. How we have brought joy to the downtrodden. But, fuck it. I need a holiday. I can’t deal with watching the dross we saw today. I might even write the Liverpool review tomorrow where I bemoan our early defensive lapses and then struggle to get back into the game only to be hit on the counter-attack as we overcommit with 5 center-forwards on the pitch.

-LB7