Anyone who knows me knows of my interest in obsession, addictive behaviour and the curiously exaggerated importance we attach to football. Anyone who reads Positively Arsenal (you for instance) is an example of the most successful evolutionary outcome the world has ever seen. Intelligent beyond the imagination of our ancient ancestors, dangerous and powerful by many magnitudes beyond the limits of all other species. Don’t believe the Netflix programme Zoo. There is nothing the animal kingdom could ever do to threaten us now. We are mighty. We are at the very pinnacle of the selective process.
And yet we actively choose to allow a football match to dictate our mood each week. Not even the whole match either. The result alone can send us spinning to the depths of sullen, ill tempered misery. Snappish with those we love, enraged out of all proportion with anyone foolish enough to cross us.
I recently experienced a further manifestation of this football related mental disorder. I’ve been reading Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari. It’s a book full of fascinating insights into the algorithmic processes which drive our behaviours and just how little real choice or free will we actually have. In one section he describes experiments into the way the brain can be stimulated artificially. Scientists can entirely control the actions and desires of lab rats and are quick to reassure those concerned with animal rights that it’s all OK – the rats are convinced they’re enjoying the experiments because the scientists make them think they are.
Similar techniques are employed on humans to relieve depression, to make people feel they are making certain choices and are enjoying those choices. Trans cranial direct current stimulators are complex helmets worn by test subjects. They use electrical impulses fired directly at specific areas of the brain. Sally Adee, a journalist for the New Scientist agreed to take part in an experiment. She entered a combat simulation suite wearing such a helmet having previously attempted the ‘game’ without it. The first time she was terrified, panicked, and in a real situation would have very quickly been overcome by her assailants. When back in the suite and with the helmet taking charge of her mood, reflexes and choices she was transformed into a kind of Zen Rambo, calmly picking off every attacker in a relaxed, blissful, methodical orgy of virtual killing.
Without the usual humdrum human distractions of self doubt and external pressures Adee was turned into a proto futuristic super human. And what do you suppose was my first thought on reading about her experience? An operatic vision of the future of all human kind? A clear and terrifying insight into the techno-dystopia which awaits us? Nope. I pictured Santi Cazorla, his micro chip implants aglow, banishing all anxiety and the very possibility of failure as he stepped forward to take the winning penalty in the Champion’s League Final. Football. Of course. It invades almost every bloody thought we have.
Where Hull City are concerned Santi has already written his name on the Arsenal history book, never mind it’s future. Without any artificial support or stimulation, relying only on the natural ice water in his veins he placed as perfect a free kick as you could hope to see over the Tiger’s wall and put us back into the FA Cup final at as good a moment as he could have chosen. The rest, as they say is cliché, but I believe it was that moment which sparked the latest successful chapter in Arsène and Arsenal’s illustrious story.
Poor Hull have really suffered against us in that particular competition. In the league one would need to go back to 2008 for their last victory over us and all the way back to 1915 for the win before that. So history suggests the three points should be eminently achievable. Of course as Mark Twain said “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” Although I’m not sure quite how much to read into that where today’s game is concerned.
Hull were written off by the ‘experts’ before a ball had been kicked this season. Losing their long time manager, short of players, the subject of takeover attempts, and with unrest among the fans in the stadium their return to the Premiership looked less than triumphant. And so of course they proceeded to beat the champions on the opening day and won their following two matches coming a cropper at Old Trafford by the only goal of the game before drawing away to Burnley. Their caretaker boss picked up the manager of the month for August and now we travel to the KCOM stadium on equal points with the home side unsure precisely what to expect.
Traditionally the game against unfancied opposition in the week of a Champion’s League fixture is seen as a potential banana skin. In truth any Premier League side presents a threat, no results are guaranteed. While we have been treated to some thoroughly entertaining games so far this season I can’t say the machine has been running as smoothly as I might have hoped. A couple of players have looked a little short of form and the team as a whole hasn’t seemed as coherent as we have come to expect.
I strongly suspect the hangover from the international tournament, allied to the new faces in the squad has hampered smooth progress. Arsène must take into account the players who require a long lead time into the season following their gruelling summer, those coming back from injuries and those he needs to integrate into their new surroundings. He has unsurprisingly stuck with tested combinations where he can and used the new guys sparingly. The obvious exception is Mustafi who, given the injury problems in his particular area of expertise, has had to get straight on with the job .
These issues will of course cease to be a problem as the season progresses. The crucial thing is to keep grinding out the results until things settle down. As much as I’d like a repeat of the first half of the Watford game I’ll settle for the grim determination with which we climbed back into the saddle after PSG looked like they had knocked us clean out of our stirrups in the first minute. Will we see a changed team sheet? You know what, I never used to play those silly selection games so beloved of the amateur footy writer and so far when I have pondered on the likely line up I’ve been sufficiently wide of the mark to remind me why I don’t pad out the blog with such nonsense.
All we know for sure is Arsène’s preferred back five and that when fit, Mesut and Alexis will be very likely to start. The other four places are anybody’s guess. Why football fans like to moan about the manager’s selection is truly baffling. Naturally we have our favourites and we always want to see our favourites play but there is something wrong with your mental health not the manager’s if you think that should have any bearing on team selection.
Your green grocer knows best how many Granny Smiths he’s likely to need to order for any given week. You don’t. All you know is when you fancy an Egremont Russet for a change but he has sold out of them you experience disappointment. It doesn’t mean the greengrocer is a moron nor that it’s appropriate for you to call him one. It certainly doesn’t qualify you to lecture him on which apples he ought to stock.
Anyway, whatever the line up with which the man in the know decides to go there are players who will be either keen to keep their places with a very strong bench breathing down their necks or others extremely motivated to shine if given a chance to start. All of which ought to bode well for the team and therefore for us super evolved, highly intelligent, mega beings who’s happiness is entirely dependant on them having a good day at the office.
I checked a couple of arsenal blogs match threads, and its unbelievable how negative the vast majority of comments were, every perceived error jumped upon, certain players – you’ve guessed it, Walcott and Coquelin – slammed from start to finish. Its odd to see so little made of wonderful bits of play from our players or team in general, Coqeulins shot for the penalty is air brushed out of history, as is Walcott’s goal and involvement in the third goal and many other good bits of play – he gets comments such as “about time”, or “wally woke up for a minute”. Ramsey gets the same treatment all the time too, as do a few others. I just don’t get the constant attacks on the club, its team, its players, its staff, from people who claim to actually love the club.
To me it seems a certain vocal group of whingers on these blogs are so far entrenched in their negative attacks on Arsenal, that it don’t matter how well we play or how good we do, it will not be enough to stop their attacks.
Eddy: You pay too much attention to the whingers. That is exactly their aim; provoke clicks and generate advertising revenue via Google. Don’t fall for it.
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Excellent blog, excellent game, excellent start to the day.
If I were smart, I’d just stop right there. But I’ll disappoint Stew by weighing in on this team selection thing. I’d say no one is keeping anyone “out of the team”. I’d say we have the deep squad we’ve always pined for, and Arsene intends to use it, particularly in the front six. He’s already mentioned pairs in the middle, and I think this is what he has planned. And I think he plans to rotate them. Of course, “what the hell do I know” is, as it always should be, the caveat.
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Granit Xhaka is the 493rd player to score for Arsenal
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Liverpool and Chelsea have had great starts to the season, Arsenal have had a poor stuttering disjointed start to the season, and yet Arsenal are above LFC and CFC in the table, go figure. It’s almost as if the media are talking shit.
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Positively Arsenal @Blackburngeorge 1h1 hour ago Blackburn, England
“Francis Coquelin vs Hull
Ball Recoveries 7
Tackles Won 4
Oh FFS, how annoying is that ?
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Premier League @premierleague 4h4 hours ago
🚩Arsenal’s opener has been credited to Alexis Sanchez after Iwobi’s shot deflected off the forward on the way in. 0-1 #HULARS
My tip for miscreant of the PL season Nolito showing well – stick to diving and writhing in pretend agony son, don’t do stuff that is out of your comfort zone.
Kelly – just to clarify I’ve nothing against the discussion over selection – it’s a fascinating area of speculation – I just don’t think the article itself should waste time predicting the line up.
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‘IWOBI HAS QUALITY, VISION AND MOVEMENT’
Alex Iwobi played a vital part in securing Arsenal’s 4-1 Premier League victory at Hull City on Saturday afternoon – read on for what the manager made of his performance.
I started him last year because I’ve seen that there’s something in him that is quality of vision, quality of give and go, of movement. He can break the lines with a pass and individually as well, so there’s a lot in the locker. Overall, he’s only 20 years old so you could see that he has gained in confidence now. He can take people on much more and he has gained power as well. It’s interesting what he has done.
on Theo Walcott…
He’s getting slowly there. He is not completely ready physically but today I felt in the second half he was much better than the first. He has interesting qualities for us. He goes behind, many players like to come to the ball and he’s one of the players who is very dangerous for the quality of his runs and his receptions. I think today in the first half he was influential on the ball. He scored one as well, so he’s efficient and that’s what you want.
on having faith in Theo…
Yes, because I look at the overall balance of the team. As I told you, we need players who go behind the defenders and he can do that well. When Sanchez plays up front, he likes to come to the ball. To have someone who goes behind at the same moment helps us to have many options.
Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20160917/-iwobi-has-quality-vision-and-movement-#JmLOYo40zUb0SJsF.99
‘WE HAD A CONVINCING PERFORMANCE’
Arsène Wenger was in a good mood after his team beat Hull City 4-1 in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon.
Read on for the manager’s assessment of the game – and don’t forget to read the rest of our coverage here:
on the performance…
I think overall we had a convincing performance in two different situations. 11 against 11, I thought we played well. When you play 11 against 10, it is, of course, not the same mentally and psychologically. But we remained serious and in the end we won the game in a convincing way, I would say overall. But we had a very difficult game against Southampton last week, then went away to Paris Saint-Germain. It’s an away game, so you are happy with the three points.
on Alexis taking the penalty instead of Cazorla…
I have to check that but I think Santi was ahead on the list. We have three players and [maybe] he didn’t want to take it? Did he tell Alexis to take it? I don’t know.
on his reaction to Alexis taking the penalty…
Look, ideally you want, as a manager, all the things to happen in the order you decided. We don’t live in an ideal world in our game and, on the other hand, everybody has missed penalties, Santi as well. We have to accept that, that you can miss a penalty. The keeper made a good save, he didn’t mishit it. That’s part of the game.
on the start to the season…
Look, we had a big shock in our first game and I said straight away after that first game that we face a mental test to see how well we respond. We went away to Leicester and to Watford straightaway. So overall I think we responded well. We were not ready physically at the start of the season, we are now much better so let’s hope we can continue our improvement.
Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20160917/-we-had-a-convincing-performance-#fQXO7OhAqkT1AcSW.99
ex arsenal player serge gnabry scored an outstanding volley for werder brehem today in their 4-1 away defeat at Borussia Moenchengladbach
Good away win after a tough away CL fixture. That’s three wins in a row in the league.
Le Coq, once again, put on a magnificent performance. And to think the whiners were getting ready to make him their scapegoat. Bastards.
I believe Manure will drop points at Watford tomorrow.
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I really liked what I seen from Shkodran Mustafi today, he reads the game well and rivals Koscielny in the interception stakes, and a number of times he just got a toe poke on the ball to help make it easy for a team mate to take the ball away from a hull player. He seems happy enough to battle too, and is not afraid to just put his foot through the ball to make a clearance.
handbook of how to react to good play and goals for Arsenal uber bloggers and super fans
Alexis scores from Iwobi shot to give us the lead – “now they will say Alexis is a striker when he knew nothing about it”
Coquelin shot handballed for a penalty – two choices here. 1. ignore Coquelin’s part in it totally. 2. “AKB’s will claim this proves Wenger right to pick him when in truth he should not have been anywhere near the Hull area”
Alexis has penalty saved – three options here. 1. “why the fuck has wenger made Alexis penalty taker when santi is so good at them”. 2. “shows players ignore Wenger’s instructions and just do what they want”. 3. “shows how weak Wenger is to allow his instructions to be overruled”
Walcott makes it 2-0 – “wally woke up”, “finally feo scores one of his 100 chances”, “time he did something”, “wonder he did not injury himself there”, “feo with his 1 goal for five weeks”,
Hull win a penalty and score – “why the fuck are we so open at 2 up”, “where is our defense”, “where was our DM coquelin, thats right he was acting like a box to box midfielder, when will wenger learn”, “Cech is finished”, “chelsea knew what they were doing selling us a lemon like cech”
Alexis makes it 3-1 – “feo fucks up again”, “got lucky there”, “alexis the only truly class player at the club, how long will he stay with this crap team”, “Wenger will think he is right that alexis is a striker”
Xhaka makes it 4-1 – “thats why wenger dropped him, he don’t like players shooting and not passing”, “he will be fined for that”, “proves Wenger has not got a clue”,
final result 4-1 win – “it was only hull”, “we played shite again”, “still miles off city, utd, cfc and pool, even spurs better than us”, “wenger out”
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Xhaka’s first goal for Arsenal, was a wonder strike, joining many great first goals for the club, such as Meaut Ozil, Dennis Bergkamp, Theirry Henry, Robert Pires, john Jensen, Freddie Ljunberg, Alex oxlade-chamberlain, Tomas Rosicky, Theo Walcott, David Bentley, Patrick Vieira, Jose Antiono Reyes, Peter Nicholas,
jack wilshere, aaron ramsey, marc overmars, Santi Cazorla, Hector Bellerin and ian wright all had fine first goals too
any others that should be added to the list.
so BBC Match of the Day analysis of the Hull v Arsenal game did not even mention Granit Xhaka’s goal, and their main aim was to imply, in fact AS stated, Ref had a bad game, and to back up this view, they even got the rule on hand ball sending off offences wrong. Stating that is had to be a certain goal that was stopped by the handball for it to be a sending off when its in fact only a goal scoring opportunity that has to be denied, which the Livermore hand ball clearly was.
Would also like to point out that it is still a sending off offence to commit a deliberate foul in the area, its only accidental fouls that now carry a yellow card. Livermore handled the ball on purpose, so a clear red card.
anyway the rule is
the amendment states: “When a denial of a goalscoring opportunity offence is committed by a defender in the penalty area, the penalty kick effectively restores the goalscoring opportunity so the punishment for the player should be less strong (e.g. a yellow card) than when the offence is committed outside the penalty area. However, when the offence is handball or clearly not a genuine attempt to play or challenge for the ball, the player will be sent off.”
Sniper @clockendsniper 2h2 hours ago
My money’s on MOTD saying it shouldn’t have been a pen or a red and we got lucky. MOTD will only show our goals + all Hull’s chances & will highlight both pens whilst saying Hull’s wasn’t a pen and Cech should have gone
Coquelin was heavily involved in our first goal, he won the penalty, he was involved in our second goal, he was involved in our third, and he was involved in our fourth. But he should not have been picked in the starting 11 or so we are told.
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New post up
I probably shouldn’t be amazed Motd got the new rule wrong but I am. The three options are: they didn’t even bother to read the new rules ; they read them but somehow misunderstood; or they understood but tried to mislead viewers.
Another strange development of late is that the tv people have started to take a home crowds reaction to any challenge one of ours on a yellow makes as an accurate reflection of that challenge. So however loud they howl for any challenge dictates how ‘lucky’ we are (and how unduly lenient the ref has been) should a 2nd card not follow.
Bizarrely, the commentators never acknowledge that this is how crowds behave- i.e that they are the epitome of the biased, untrustworthy party and are a factor a good ref has to ignore. Or rather, they do mention this from time to time, with a wry chuckle typically, but only when it suits them (it never seems to suit them when hostile crowds are trying to influence a ref against us).
The same football blindness was in evidence for the Hull pen. They’re all acting as though there could be no basis for the ref not to give a pen, even after watching replays which showed the player clearly did the old…whatever you call it when they deliberately make contact with the person ‘fouling’ them.
That could still be a pen, if you argue that a player is allowed to create contact in that situation, instead of choosing to avoid it; but again Motd, and no doubt all the rest, applied their transient football blindness, in the face of a clearcut replay, to suggest the ref’s decision was a terrible one, instead of a bold one worthy of serious debate (are players obliged to move naturally in those situations, or should they make sure there’s contact, with deliberate unnatural movements?).
A good performance and result yesterday but who knows what effects the media treatment of our games ultimately has. Certainly it seems likely to increase pressure on referees to produce 2nd yellows ,for any infringements, even ones that aren’t fouls, and to not try make any bold big decisions like ignoring Hull’s penalty claim.
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