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Arsenal Have No Defence

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Good morning people, well I say “good” , I mean yuck.

Do you know what? I’m not even angry. I’m not disappointed,and worst of all, I’m not at all surprised. This was not a blip. It was not anything other than a reflection of how we have been playing in the Premier League, all season. That is not a bad performance, it’s the norm. The difference is that the result reflected the performance. Aubameyang was not able to save our bacon, we got what we deserved. Fortunately, we have gotten more than we deserve up until now. We could have lost every game this season, we haven’t dominated a single one, We have been piss poor all season . It shouldn’t come as a shock, the second half of last season should have been all the warning we needed to tell us what was to come.

If Mesut Ozil isn’t good enough to get in that team, well? Dear me.

In the first half we had one shot on target and were out played by the mighty Sheffield United. They scored one goal and were so confident that we wouldn’t score ,that they sat back and let us have all of the ball, I think in excess of 80% at times, and we obliged by creating less than nothing. We were not unlucky, we were terrible.

There is nothing that suggests we are a good football team, despite having a great squad. The sum of our parts is pathetically less than it should be. No fluency, nothing. All the players fight and strive, but the system is horrible, The midfield has zero control and we just aimlessly lump the ball to players that are totally unsuited to hold it up and wait for the play to develop.

There is nothing on show that remotely resembles that which we enjoyed for years and were assured would continue.

There is no point thinking it will get better, because every metric that indicates how well we are playing as a team, is getting progressively worse, despite a spend of around £200m.

How long will Emery’s apologists ignore everything that stares them in the face?

There isn’t a poor player in our squad, and yet we play like a poverty team.

This squad should be walking the top 4, it still could, but not with this head coach, not in my opinion.

We are in a much better position than our performances deserve, and that stroke of luck will mean nothing unless a change is made.

Positively Arsenal eh? Sorry folks.

 

 

71 Comments

Arsenal vs Sheffield United preview

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Good day one and all.
Arsenal is at Bramall Lane tonight to take on Sheffield United, looking to extent on their positive eight-match unbeaten run across all competitions.
Make no mistake, the Gunners have been far from perfect thus far with just two wins in our last five Premier League games (D3) and without an away win in the league since opening day at St James’ Park, but there are encouraging signs with young’uns improving each game, even having put an end to the OCD-esque passing at the back appear to have improved our defense in recent matches with four clean sheets in our last six games (all competitions). So all things considered, including both Spurs and Manchester United stuck in first gear, there is little to scoff at, yet hoping we stay on this trajectory.
The Blades have made a decent start in their return to the top-flight, picking up points regularly with two wins and three draws from their eight games. Their three defeats have all been by one-goal margins, however, those defeats all came in their last three home fixtures, which shouldn’t really leave them short of motivation.
Chris Wilder has got them playing a very functional brand of football, they’re well organised at the back and shipped a mere seven goals – same as Liverpool’s VVD-inspired defense, albeit The Reds played an extra game. Very respectable considering they have played Chelsea, Leicester and Liverpool already. If they can improve at the other end of the pitch, having scored just seven – only Newcastle and Watford scored less – it should boost their chances of staying up this season.
We are in for an insanely busy period ’til the next international break rolls around, having to play seven games in just under three weeks. So Unai Emery may opt to stick with the ‘league and cup team’ theme to ensure the players are being kept fresh. To be fair he managed the squad well prior to this past inter-break and just doesn’t need to be too experimental with over-tinkering, unless, of course, it is to “Free Özil”. It does look like they’re ready to smoke the peace pipe eh?
Team news:
Reiss Nelson is unavailable due to a knee injury, but Alexandre Lacazette is back and should make the bench. Kieran Tierney could also make his league debut. Calum Chambers has been one of the best players whenever on the field so it’s going to be a tough call between him and fit-again Hector Bellerín. Fingers crossed Emery doesn’t think Sheffield away is too much of a burden for Mesut Özil’s unique and missed talents.
The Blades have the ability to make this a very uncomfortable evening for the Gunners as their defense doesn’t give much away, however, their lack of goals will be of concern to the Bramall Lane faithful. So if we take the game to them from the onset and chip away at their stubborn defense, we should get the win following a weekend of 13 sides dropping points.
We can be certain it will be a cracking atmosphere at Bramall Lane under the floodlights and if you throw our ol’ friend Mike Dean in the mix… almost guaranteed theatre. Perfect setting for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to go 50 up for the Arsenal; his current goal tally is 49 from 75 games in all competitions. COY-PEA!
@LaboGoon
110 Comments

Arsene vs Unai – The Great Distraction

 

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Every day on twitter, blogs, the media, podcasts and just about every forum, we see some comparison or other between Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery. Every time another game is played we see some table comparing the first X number of games that Emery has been in charge, compared to the same number of the last games Arsene managed. The number of points, chances created, chances conceded, passing accuracy, areas of play, and on and on it goes. It really is the most pointless of arguments. Not simply because the teams were competing against have changed and the teams they were competing with has changed almost beyond recognition or even that one has a squad eager to impress while latterly the other had a squad waiting for the final curtain, but because it’s actually is an argument that is so subjective that it can never be resolved. Particularly when those arguing are so invested in being right, that they have no interest in hearing the other point of view.

Can Unai give a press conference as witty and entertaining as Arsene? No of course not.

Could Unai address a baying mob at the annual general meeting and have them eating out of his hand, when minutes earlier they were baying for his blood? No he couldn’t

Ten or twenty years from now will former players still laud him, will he be asked to speak all over the world, be given award after award , be offered job to develop FIFA itself ? I very much doubt that.

Will Unai transform the club and elevate it to once unthought of heights? No, not a chance.

Is it fair to expect any of these things from Mr. Emery? No it is not. Why? Because it’s unfair to expect anyone to fill those shoes ,,as only a handful of managers in the history of the game could have.

So let us not ask if Unai is as good as Arsene was. Rather let’s ask is he as good as we expected he would be?

Let’s ask why after 18 months we are playing unattractive football in a system that no one seems to understand, and that changes from week to week and even from half to half.

Let’s ask why our best and most creative player is not being picked, humiliated and excluded ,from a team screaming out for creativity?

Let’s ask why watching us play is a chore now , we can play 8 games of the season and not play well in one, let alone dominate any?

Perhaps ask why we go from insisting on playing out from the back, to lumping it up to a center forward that’s skill set is far from hold up play.

Ask why sometimes all eleven players can have decent games, and yet the team plays poorly.

Ask why our midfield is so dysfunctional despite every player being a good one.

Let’s judge him on what we see, not against a man that is now a fond memory, and a genius that he overall could never live up to.

Wenger has left the building, gone , and the comparisons are a distraction, we must judge Emery on what he is showing us, and has shown us.

 

95 Comments

3 Points And Literally Nothing Else.

 

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I want to write a positive blog!

I want to describe some beautiful football!

I want to be enthusiastic about Arsenal!

I want to enjoy our football!

Sadly, I’m unable to do any of these things.

That was 95 minutes of tripe. We won the game courtesy of a well executed headed goal from David Luiz and also courtesy of them defending the corner  badly.

Two shots on target ,at home, against Bournemouth?  That can’t be acceptable, no matter how healthy our league position is.

We have played 8 PL games and not played well in any of them. In fact I would go as far as to say we have played poorly in them all. That we are where we are in the league, is testament to how good our players are despite how they are being forced to play.

We can be very happy at the 3 points gained, content with our league position, but I defy anyone to say we should be happy with the excruciatingly poor football being churned out week after week.

People will say “judge it in May”, well I did, I judged the crap we were served up last May, and if anything it’s gotten worse. If you dare look beyond the points total, what looks back is a football team that lacks the ability to play entertaining attacking football. There are those that don’t want to look beyond, those that would rather not see, to them I say “You‘re a better man than I amGunga Din.”

 

 

66 Comments

Arsenal vs Bournemouth

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Good day one all.
Arsenal host Bournemouth at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon on the back of a very busy week, before heading into an international break.
A scrappy draw away at Manchester United on Monday night saw us crept back into top-four, then a brilliant opening 20 minute spell vs Standard Liège in Thursday’s Europa tie, was enough for a comfortable 4-0 victory.
Now one could be forgiven for thinking the ease of the midweek wins would be great momentum going into league games, but it hasn’t quite gone that way has it? You see the ‘cup team’ play with freedom, control games that they can even afford taking their foot of the pedal as games goes on. You see our depth in talent, the potential in this team and it raise our hopes, but then we get to to the Premier League and it’s as if everybody are in their shells as we adapt our play to the strengths of our opposition, including those we are expected to brush aside without much fuss.
That’s the frustration many have with Unai Emery’s methods, because there is good reason to believe this team can go toe-to-toe with any team if he just take the shackles off. But alas.
It’s been tight schedule of late but I don’t think fatigue should be a concern with Emery likely to revert to his regular league starters after giving the young uns and fringe players a Europa run. The injured returnees Bellerín, Tierney and Holding were again impressive, also Mustafi amongst the senior ones. Making good cases for ‘call ups’, but with the short turnaround it may be an unnecessary risk to play them so soon. However, Emery will have much to ponder about during the inter-break.
Bournemouth had a bright start to their season, sitting just one point behind us on the table. They have scored in each of their games played thus far, which should be very encouraging for Eddie Howe, however, having not yet keeping a clean sheet should be a worry as that all too familiar is being asked… what’s going to happen once the goals dry up?
The Cherries are still winless against the Gunners in seven previous meetings. Last season we beat them home and away, with a 5-1 scoreline at the Emirates.
They may fancy breaking their duck today, playing their brand of open and attacking football, which of course will work in our favour and I can already see Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, our resident flat-track bully, looking at their leaky defense sporting the largest grin.
I’m predicting one of those entertaining games where both sides get on the score sheet, with Arsenal coming out on top to move up to third on the table.
This is the first in a nine-game run against teams outside the traditional top-six sides, giving Arsenal an opportunity to string together a run of decent results before the mid-December peak.
Com’on Emery… you know we can do it!
@LaboGoon
64 Comments

Arsenal vs Standard Liège

 

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Good day one and all.

Arsenal are back at the Emirates for their second Europa League group fixture; hosting Belgian side Standard Liège.

We kicked our campaign off with a win away in Germany a fortnight ago, beating Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0. With Unai Emery methods currently taking tense and, well, fair criticism, the Gunners almost inconspicuously put together an unbeaten run of six-matches (all competitions), that includes three wins in our last four. With just one defeat in nine matches all season, you would be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about.

Now, I don’t know anything about our opponents, however, a quick trawl of their recent results infer they might not be pushovers. They sit one point behind Belgian First Division leaders Club Brugge, and come into this match on the back of three wins in their last four games (D1) – all competitions. A decent run that include 10 goals for and only two against. So could there be a suggestion they have a “press” Emery might think we need to negate? Yikes!

It’s a short turnaround following Monday night’s 1-1 draw at Manchester United, so we’ll likely see a Gunners side with quite a few changes. Making this another opportunity for the youngsters and fringe players to impress, after proper performances against Frankfurt (EL) and Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup. 18 years-old Gabriel Martinelli did better than expected making his first Arsenal start vs Forest, scoring two goals, so one can imagine he must be excited at the possibility of getting his first European start. Hector Bellerín and Kieran Tierney must also be itching getting another run as they continue their rehabilitation from long-term injuries.

Whether Mesut Özil, who was “rested” against Frankfurt, get a start, is anybody’s guess at this point. Because just as it seems that him and Emery are getting past their domestic issues… it seems not.

One player that could certainly benefit having a crack at the visitors is our record signing Nicolas Pepe. He has struggled to find his feet so far in the league, so starting in a match away from the PGMOL game management variant shouldn’t be the worst idea.

Many argue that Arsenal doesn’t play like a side that has developed much from last season, but optimism levels are a little higher in the Cup competitions and playing in front of the Emirates faithful always gives the boys a bit extra. Standard have started their European run with a win, so while their priorities may be with their domestic league back in Belgium, a win tonight will leave them in a good position to advance to the knockout stages.

This is only the third meeting between these two sides, with the Gunners winning both the previous two back in 2009.

With group F top place up for grabs this got the makings of a spicy encounter. However, I’m predicting a cagey start to the match with the Emirates crowd cheering the homeboys over the line.

 

Labo @LaboGoon

35 Comments

Good Point, But Oh Dear Oh Dear.

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Right , let’s look at the good stuff first. We got a point away at United, despite being a goal behind at halftime, not many manage that. Young Saka had a good game, an assist and but for a lucky deflection, he would have had a winning goal. The lad played the full 90 and didn’t look at all out of place. I also thought Luiz had a good game and looked our most creative player (is that a positive?).

As for the game itself? It was poor. Some would say awful.

Once again we saw a midfield that could simply not dominate of create. Torreira, a DM by trade,looked to be playing as a 10. Matteo hurried and scurried all game and this seems tt impress many, but his distribution is average and he gets the ball taken from him regularly. Because of this imbalance in MF, Xhaka is being asked to do stuff that he is unsuited to, and so he can’t do the job he is very suited to. It’s a mess.

Dani comes on and it’s clear he is no Mesut Ozil, who didn’t even make the trip. Tragic.

The goal we did get basically came courtesy of United gifting us the ball on the edge of their own area, well taken, but a gift anyway.

20 odd minutes in we had 28% possession against a team with a MF that is shocking.

I want to be enthusiastic, but honestly, if Arsenal hadn’t been involve, I would have turned over and watched a rerun of Dad’s Army. It was a dire game. With the player available to Emery, good football shouldn’t be too much to ask. But we are not seeing any, and there appears to be no prospect of it coming.