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Arsenal Versus Leicester: Ifs and Buts

Bike Maintenance

Today began well enough, ice on the windscreen answered to the scraper without undue recalcitrance and the breakfast was possibly one of my finest efforts. I like breakfast. In another life I’d like to be a breakfast chef I think. Then sadness as I turned the final page of the Shepherd’s Crown, a book I’d put off reading for too long. I hadn’t actually wanted to start it, my rationale being that if I didn’t open it then I would always live in a world where there was one more Terry Pratchett book still to read. Now there aren’t any.

Then I just sat here, sipping coffee and contemplating my day. A day in the shed I decided. Stripping and cleaning the parts of my bike until they shone and then carefully reassembling them, all the while hoping there wouldn’t be too many bits left over when I’d finished. Suddenly, into this blissful calm, a thought crashed like an overweight burglar through a thin conservatory roof.

Oh bloody hell there’s another game tonight.

Then a second, follow up thought, like the burglar’s bag full of crowbars and swag bounced off my brain.

They’ll be expecting a blog.

Luckily enough just the idea of a match is enough to set the pulse beating a little faster. Even though I’ve barely had time to digest the semi final, here I am slipping once more into the bath of anticipation, the suds of expectancy tickling my nose, the rubber duck of excitement bobbing with suddenly renewed vigour.

This may not be as mouth watering a prospect as mega rich Manchester City with a cup final place at stake but a match in prospect and one with much still riding upon it. Or perhaps I should qualify that with the word potentially.

There are a few ifs and buts still about the final league positions but with only half a dozen games to go the margins are becoming increasingly narrow. I think it’s fair to say we can’t afford any more unexpectedly poor performances. Not if we still have aspirations for a top four finish. Even Europa league football isn’t a given – as bizarre as that may sound to us.

There’s a reason for the confusion and anguish experienced by Arsenal fans at going into the closing overs of the season in seventh place. Quite simply the astonishing success of  Arsène Wenger in consistently delivering top four finishes for so very long has seen a generation grow up knowing nothing else. Serve people gourmet food for twenty odd years and they are bound to be confused if their supper suddenly comes from Burger King.

Any road up, it is what it is and we must make the best of it. I have really enjoyed watching Arsène’s response to the mini crisis in our league position. Ringing the tactical changes strikes me as anything but desperation, nor is it necessarily a masterful display of footballing knowledge. I think its man management, pure and simple.

The players were losing confidence, they were beginning to doubt themselves and if he’d kept on sending them out in the same formation with similar instructions things might have gotten much, much worse. Instead he shook things up, he said to them, look you’re obviously unhappy how things are so don’t worry, this is different, you’re in a new environment now. The old one wasn’t working properly and now that’s gone you can breathe again. With a few tweaks he ensured we had five at the back when ever we needed and big numbers up front when the chance arose. But the change itself is what the boys needed and haven’t they responded well?

Of course this is merely my amateur interpretation of events but like the all the best wild, unsubstantiated theories it at least appears to be born out by the facts. With Aaron and Granit getting to know one another, Gabriel in imperious form and Holding little short of a revelation I can see no reason not to be optimistic, not just for tonight but for all of our remaining fixtures.

We of course have some hugely difficult games to come and there are no guarantees but we’ve seen enough to enjoy at least a burgeoning hope that the team can end with a flourish – and who knows? Maybe even a trophy for the old cabinet.

But I am getting ahead of myself. First and foremost there is the small matter of the reigning champions who visit the Emirates this evening a mere three days after our heroics at Wembley. With the new formation still bedding in I would hope not to see too many changes but there must be tired legs in the squad – especially after playing extra time on Sunday. I have yet to see the statistics but we seemed to be doing a heck of a lot of chasing which is an exercise in resource depletion if ever there was one.

So with the dark clouds behind us and exciting new possibilities for the future springing up with every successful game it looks like we can sit back and enjoy the rest of what has been a turbulent, unpredictable season. Having done my duty to the blog I must don the rubber gloves and get to it, after all a shed is no more special than any other structure without a man fiddling, pottering, cursing and relaxing in it. I’m particularly excited today because I’m expecting delivery of my new Derailleur Alignment Gauge, a tool the very existence of which I hadn’t suspected up until a couple of days ago. Truly we live in interesting times.

About steww

Arsenal, books, photography, bass guitar, dog walking, mountain biking, being on the radio, writing, talking too much, failing, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

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94 comments on “Arsenal Versus Leicester: Ifs and Buts

  1. we could be down to ten men, subs on and Kos has gone down with a bad twist

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  2. kos up and running again

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  3. leicester defender only gets booked for a very bad challenge on giroud, ref a disgrace

    Liked by 1 person

  4. xhaka booked for sweet fuck all, whats new

    Liked by 1 person

  5. we have a one eyed ref again tonight

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Monreallllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll shot hits huth and goes in 1-0 to the Arsenal

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ozil well offside goal ruled out

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  8. 4 minutes of stoppage time to be played

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  9. that should be a freekick to alexis, the lcfc player deliberatly hit him with the ball from the throw whcih i belive is a foul

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  10. disgracefully alexis is booked

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  11. awful defending puts us in trouble, but a free kick is given to us for once.

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  12. I have never seen a decision like that before

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  13. spurs have taken the lead v crystal palace, fuck it.

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  14. All’s well that ends well.

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  15. Bizarre end to the game. Alexis just an embarrassment, I’ll say no more than that about his histrionics.
    Still all very entertaining and three more points.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Like

  17. I will take a cautious start for the next 6 games so long as we win them in the 2nd half. Now fuck off Tony Gale.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. FT: Arsenal 1-0 Leicester City

    deserved win, but not as good in second half as in first, alexis very poor all game, xhaka very good all game. Monreal deflected shot off Huth for the winner. Giroud gave us a vocal point for last 15,
    ref was awful
    we were solid at the back, but lcfc had only a few attacks as our midfield dominated possession, but coquelin is not good in possession, we missed the drive of oxlade-chamberlain and the runs of ramsey in this game. only bellerin of the changes tonight made a case for inclusion v spurs on sunday. Theo and coq poor, gibbs was good but will not displace monreal, who did a fine job at cb, and then got our goal when he went back to left back.

    6pts off 3rd placed liverpool, with 2 games in hand.

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  19. steww I do not condone alexis play acting, but when the lcfc player threw the ball at him, that should have been a booking for the lcfc player and a freekick to afc, but the ref gave it the other way round, disgraceful from the officials.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I am not one for reckless fowl language but in the famous words of Home Simpson
    Now fuck off Tony Gale.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. 1886‏ @1886_blog 13m13 minutes ago

    Delighted we scored such a shambolic goal. That’s properly ruined Tony Gale’s night. Love it.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. GoonerGordo‏ @GoonerGordo 8m8 minutes ago

    Fuchs, Huth and Benalouane should have all been sent off. Shit ref @FA

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Gale is a xenophobic dinosaur. Always totally biased against Arsenal. Total ex English proficiency shit for brains twat. Perfect Sky material

    Liked by 3 people

  24. a player can throw the ball at an opponent, but he can not under the rules “throw the ball at an opponent in a careless nor a reckless manner nor using excessive force”
    so can anyone explain why the lcfc player lad was allowed to, other than it was v arsenal

    Liked by 3 people

  25. Great result, especially off the back of Sunday’s heroics. Yes, a few players were not playing at their best tonight, but they got the job done so enough said.

    Liked by 3 people

  26. yes passenal, a win is a win is a win, I would take the same performance and result on Sunday

    I see Jon Moss booked wanyama, then allowed him a couple of more bookable fouls, and spurs took him off before Moss was forced to take action against his will. I bet Moss was cursing that Xhaka was not playing

    Liked by 1 person

  27. alexis play acting was “disgusting” and “embarrassing” but this was ok

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Alexis’ Instagram showing him with a busted lip. Maybe his “delayed” reaction had to do with noticing that…*she says, reaching hard for the benefit of the doubt*

    Liked by 3 people

  29. Gawd Positivistas. Just hope we are the ones to destroy the Scum title challenge on Sunday. A man can only hope.

    Liked by 6 people

  30. Liked by 3 people

  31. Liked by 2 people

  32. Dang. I was wrong. That throw did hit Alexis in the face.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Rumour is the injury will keep the Chilean out of the NLD Shotta (banned sucks lemon face)

    Liked by 3 people

  34. Enes‏ @GoonerEG 49m49 minutes ago

    Mesut Özil vs Leicester

    87% pass accuracy
    4 chances created
    100% take-ons
    6 ball recoveries

    Role model.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. ‘We were rewarded for our initiative’

    Arsène Wenger was a relieved man after his side claimed a late victory against Leicester City to keep their top-four hopes alive.

    Afterwards, he faced the media to discuss the game, playing with a back three, facing Tottenham next and more.

    This is what he had to say:

    on a big win…
    We took the initiative, we lacked a little bit of change of pace and penetration – you could see we had a few heavy legs. But you could see we were serious and didn’t give chances away. Maybe we lacked a little bit of speed in our game to get them out of position – but they defend well and are very difficult to get out of position. In the end, I think the win rewards the team who took the initiative in the game. Overall, we are very happy with that because we knew the three points would be very difficult tonight. Let’s not forget as well that we played on Sunday afternoon and Leicester did not play at all at the weekend. They had good preparation for the game and we knew we had a little handicap on that front.

    on it keeping us in the top-four hunt…
    We have one advantage, and that is of clarity. We have to win our games, so that is why we know we cannot be happy with a 0-0 – we have to take a gamble to try to win the game at any cost.

    on our formation…
    I finished with four at the back because when I took Gibbs off we moved to a four. We finished with four strikers: Welbeck, Giroud, Alexis and Ozil, plus we also had Ramsey who is quite offensive. We finished with four at the back because we absolutely had to win the game.

    on whether there’s pressure on Arsenal to end Spurs’ title hopes on Sunday…
    We play for ourselves, not others. In life, you work for your own achievements, not for others. What is important is that we go there, try to win the game and focus on our own performance. We do not want to go into any speculation on that. Sport is great but you’re never happy when others do badly and you do badly. You’re happy when you do well.

    on Koscielny…
    Koscielny has a knee problem but I don’t know how long he’ll be out for. I have to check because I don’t know yet.

    Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20170426/-we-were-rewarded-for-our-initiative-#imGM9BxelgaJt8W4.99

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  36. I wasn’t at all embarrassed by Alexis, he was prepared to take a ball in the face and a yellow card to stop Leicester taking that long throw into the box. I would guess that a ball full in the face would hurt even the manliest man among you. The players are fighting for their lives at this point in the season, so I for one am glad that they’ve decided to do what it takes, like everyone else has all season. I bet chelski fans are not embarrassed by costa or spurs by any of their diving cheats.

    Liked by 5 people

  37. Thought we looked a bit leggy for the start of the game, not surprising for those whose heroics won the day in the semi.
    Up against a highly organised, and rather large team, who were fouling off the ball and holding at set pieces, often with impunity. And of course, a bit of time wasting , especially from master schmeichel.
    The crowd were a bit slow to rise to the occasion, but got behind the team in the second half
    The ref …. a lot going on and he didn’t always have control, not sure if he could see the assault on girouds back, if he did, the ref should be suspended for not giving red.
    Sanchez did have the ball thrown at him, and did simulate, will leave that to the refs on here.
    But ultimately, we were not at our best….maybe understandable, but for their sheer cynicism, hoofball, time wasting, off the ball fouling, we deserved what we got.
    Left the ground with the feeling that only in this league can a team like that win the league, and that is not meant as a compliment. They came as champions, but played like Stoke, Watford, west brom…yes, such teams have done us this and other seasons, but not today. Poetic justice on the Huth front.
    May this resilience last , whether it’s a back three, or whatever.

    Liked by 2 people

  38. Haven’t seen it , but I hear the attempt to avoid red cards for Spurs players during premier league matches remains intact, despite Wanyamas attempts to test the policy.
    Wonder if our players….yes, you Xhaka will be so lucky this weekend….especially if we go ahead?

    Liked by 2 people

  39. Sorry Alexis , didn’t see that pic, initially thought he made the most of it.

    Who…..or what is Tony Gale….anyone know what he has achieved, and why we even hear his voice?

    Liked by 2 people

  40. On the Alexis incident, whether he exaggerated or not, it can be quite dangerous to throw a ball full force at someone’s face from three feet away and as such needs to be condemned and punished. Luckily it hit Alexis on the shoulder before hitting him on the face.

    Beyond that, I am sure he made more of it than he needed to, but I am equally sure it hurt. Try having a football thrown at your face like that if you think otherwise.

    English football and the punditry are odd at times. Like stupid odd. Yes Alexis exaggerated the extent of his injury. But they are now calling it a dive, and using that to not talk about why throwing the ball at someone like that is acceptable, or why putting studs into Giroud’s back is only deserving a yellow when it was so deliberate and forceful.

    Leicester , when it got down to it, were ok with trying to injure opponents out of frustration, and that should never be excused. Glad they lost and hopefully the fact that it was a late own goal will have hurt them more.

    Liked by 6 people

  41. On the game itself. I thought Alexis was terrible and with Coquelin limited in attack, this really hurt our ability to consistently threaten Leicester’s goal. But at the same time, he’s capable of scoring out of nothing, like that shot against the bar, and I can understand why Wenger would be reluctant to take him off.

    On the plus side, Monreal and Gabriel both looked good again. Bellerin came back better after a spell of not playing that well (since after his head injury which the commentators similarly laughed off or blamed him for) , and Ozil and Xhaka were excellent.

    Liked by 3 people

  42. New post up

    Like

  43. I only saw it once but I’m pretty sure the ball hit him around the shoulder. The knock on the lip could have come at any point during a match.

    I don’t think it’s that big a deal myself. It’s not a good look, for sure, but in reality it’s no different from the players who contort their faces in agony, squeal and roll when in fact they aren’t hurt.

    Was the Burnley- tough honest British Burnley- player really in exceptional pain (for about 30 seconds) when Xhaka supposedly caught him? Surely not

    Costa, on a very Costa day, can do that 5-10 times, and there’s probably not been a premier league game this year when someone doesn’t do it.

    But, our football here still mostly denies that is going on and certainly denies it has anything in common with the sin of holding your face if you are struck elsewhere, so Sanchez will presumably come in for tons of stick in the coming days.

    Meanwhile, the couple of bad tackles I heard were in the game will be utterly ignored. That’s just the game, though I’m one of those convinced our treatment is different.

    Best just to try avoid talk of it and look forward to next game.

    Liked by 1 person

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