Let the Partey begin. Did you miss me while I was away? Did you hang my picture on the wall. Finally, I decided to exercise my fingers and share in my wisdom and intellect. OK, now we’re done with that. Let’s review my “quiet period”. Not on a personal level (but while you’re asking, thank you, the sex change went fine that you very much.).
From the trauma of Burnley and Everton through the rebirth versus Chelski onto the excellence at West Brom, this team has been through quite a few transitions. And our manager has had to withstand an onslaught of ill-informed criticism. Within a few losses the morons were out claiming he was not up to the task. I’m sure these are the same retards that chased AW out of our club. Thankfully we’ve been able to stabilize the club and start to look like a football team again.
It took less time to crack their defense than it did in the F A Cup. All we had to do was discover the real Aubameyang. After missing what was essentially an open goal in the first half he was able to recover his touch to score the all in important first goal. This time he genuinely attacked the statuesque defender. Whereas in the first half he dithered on the ball and generally was too slow of thinking in his decision, this time, once Partey feed him the ball, he turned all Henry-esque for us. And once that went in you knew Newcastle would have little to respond with. Their best player – as in the cup match – was Carroll; both as an attacked and defender.
How stupid were they though? Two corners to tee up for Carrol and neither could get past our first man. And when they had free kicks, instead of throwing it up there for might Carroll they played everything short. Haven’t they see what this guy has down to us in the past in the air? They must have been watching some excellent porn programs instead.
How good was Partey today? He made Xhaka look like a star. Parteys’ calmness and position brought out the best from Xhaka. With time – and fitness – this man (Partey obviously) will become the central engine on this team. His first touch (as witnessed in the lead up to the first goal) is soft and simple. He has vision and turns up field given the chance. And he can defend. Imagine that. He sits deep allowing Xhaka to wander off to the left. And he brings balance to the team.
Ahead of him we have the pubescent Smith Rowe. When this boy hits puberty he will be some player. He runs and works in ways our soon to depart Ozil never has. His vision and touch is delicate. And he sees the game in front of him. He set up that second goal – even if Aubameyang delayed getting him the ball – by challenging the defender. He links up so well with Saka. He intelligently moves into space and has a fine, delicate touch pass.
Saka is just a beast. Not at his best today. But, arguably, he is the one responsible for the reprise of Arsenal and the saving of Arteta. Over the last few months he has become the talisman for this team. Not Aubameyang. Not Cigarette.
Todays second half performance was driven by Saka and Smith-Rowe with some help from Partey. Cigarette has rediscovered his game. His touch to Partey initiated that move. His overall touch has returned. He was unlucky not to score at the start of the second half. But he is so much better in the center than Aubameyang. Again, the pubescent, retarded Arsenal fans who claimed he should be played through the middle are morons. He should be on the wing because he can’t link up play like Cigarette. Of course, he knows how to score. Though after that missed open goal in the first half I began to wonder.
Holding is now being paid more and not being thought of as excess to requirements. He’s seen of Kolinsac (phew). That pass to Luiz for the Sp*rs goal last year still gives me nightmares. Holding is now the first defender on the team sheet. I truly hope he can avoid injuries for a while. He is relatively young and still developing. He’s not the quickest but he’s road-tested, physical and smart. You have to be to play alongside David Luiz. The man who can slow any passing move down to a crawl. OK, he’s not made the kind of moronic mistakes he made last year and generally we’ve been solid when he plays. I don’t mind the money we’ve paid him. And I’d like him to stick around for another year. But Mari and Gabriel – when both return to fitness – should be playing alongside Holding.
And then off to the left is Tesco Tierney. A real left-back. Not since Cole, Winterburn and Sansom have we seen a left back of this quality. He energizes the entire team. And when Martinelli plays in front of him they will rip up the opposition.
So that’s an interesting backbone for a team – Leno, Holding, Tierney, Partey, Smith Rowe and Saka. Obviously because of the youth – and the lack of experience in the PL – Smith Rowe will wane and go through some combination of injuries or lose of form. Then, again, we’ll see his importance in this team. His movement and link-up play – as witnessed when he and Saka link up – is unmatched by anyone else. If he stays fit, watch how many assists he racks up. Finding a backup or alternative to SR will be vital. It might be tough to find someone to being second fiddle to a 20 year old and it seems crazy to spend in excess of £40 on a backup. But we need someone else. It’s not Willian and it’s not Ceballos. Of course with a player like Partey anchoring the team, maybe Ceballos can play further up the pitch.
I still have no illusions that this team can qualify for the Champions League. I don’t even think we’ll make the NoHopa Cup. And I doubt we can win another cup this year. But, given where we were post Burnley we can’t be too upset. As long as we see progress and development. As long as Edu finds another midfield player for Partey to fill out our depth. We can’t rely on Xhaka, Elneny and Ceballos. And please, please don’t mention Willock. We need to off-load him like we did Ob1. Except this time I’d take £4 let alone £40m.
I feel sorry for Maitland-Niles though. It seems like he does not quite fit into this team. Even today Cedric came into the right hand side with Bellerin missing. The poor guy had to fill in on the left for Tierney but then does not get the chance to play on the right hand side. I hope it’s because he’ll be playing in the F A Cup this week. And hopefully we’ll only use Partey for 60 minutes. We need him if we do want to climb the table. But at least we can stop looking down the table and worrying about our worst possible nightmare situation. And BTW., how much better was Cedric than Bellerin? I wonder why he played today and not Hector. But he was reliable and worked hard. And created that final goal. I think that was his first PL start.
Another clean sheet. That’s four in a row. Even if 2 of those were against abject Newcastle. They truly look like relegation material. I’m not sure that Leno had a single save to make today. I can remember one dive for a shot from Carrol that went wide. He deserved a nice, easy game after saving our bacon against mighty Palace.
This is one weird season. Liverpool drawing at home to West Brom (let along losing at Villa). Sp*rs drawing to Fulham. The two Manchester teams dropping points. Fatigue is clearly an issue here. If I were a betting man my money would go on Man City. There are the only team – other than Arsenal – that I enjoy watching. Liverpool seem to have lost their rhythm. The pace of their game has vaporized. Maybe injuries will ultimately determine the winner. On that basis Liverpool have got not shot. They lose players to injuries like Republicans lose elections.
And, finally, Ozil moves on. We save a little money. More importantly we don’t have to listen to those daft conversations about why we don’t play him. It was nothing to do with China. It was because he’s a player that does not fit into our style of play. Watch how hard SR worked today to come back and defend. Ozil is from a different era – one that has passed him by. Like Dele Ali, you can’t just be “creative” but you have to defend. Or, in Ozil’s case, learn how to head a ball. He was wonderful for a few years. Then Gazidis threw our check book at him because after the Sanchez fiasco we could not tolerate the embarrassment of losing yet another high profile player. Thankfully Gazidis is gone. And now Ozil heads out leaving behind some great memories of his early years. Now if you could only take Mustafi with you.
Finally, this team is taking shape. The combination of youth and experience. Sokratis will leave soon as well. Maybe Mustafi. Then we’ll only have a couple dubious players (yes, Willian, that’s you I’m referring to). But with a decent set of defenders at last it’s time to find Partey his permanent partner (and no, that’s not you Joe Willock).
So, 2021 welcome. It’s been a rocky start. Jan 6th was desperate. Today was up-lifting. And Jan 20th will, hopefully, be the dawn and rebirth of civilization.