Arsenal: Will the torture never end?



Good morning Positive Arsenal fans,

We emerge from the Christmas pair of games a little behind where we were hoping to be in the PL with two points not picked up yesterday. The effect has been less damaging than could have been the case because of a couple of notable performances from Leicester, of all people.

For the opening 20 minutes we were very good.  We should have cut the poor home defence to shreds and been at least two goals ahead. Perhaps it was too easy ? After that patch of footballing poetry we lapsed. Brighton scrambled back into the game, got a grip on Auba and Laca, and we faced a struggle for the next 70 minutes where ten minutes before the opponent was on the canvas. And it was a struggle rather than a battle. Just three fouls all afternoon for us and just ten for Brighton. Clean game with just one dodgy tackle over the 90. Not what I expected.

Of yesterday’s game defence much better than the shambles at St Mary’s with Kosc getting back toward the player he was before the 2017/2018 season was ruined by injuries. 70  valuable minutes for the club captain yesterday. Sokratis is growing on me, a likeable rogue. Lichtsteiner I see is being slagged off universally by every Arsenal fan and his dog for what I still say was an unlucky clip off his head (next time hide Stephan). Sead did fine, though not as influential as against Burnley. AMN put in a few good minutes and I would not be too surprised to see him start at Anfield at right back.

Our midfield comes in for some fair criticism about lack of creative or attacking initiative. With our strikers labouring against a robust defence we need more attacking threat from our midfield, whether that is shooting from distance or dashes to the near post/far post/any bloody post and into the box. Enough of the “three DMs” bollocks though. I did not see any of Guendouzi, Torreira or Granit as a defensive DM yesterday. As for the blokes who are supposed to do “flair”, as it is in their contract, Ozil  started, did OK I thought but Emery did not. Iwobi entered, the usual half time shake-up, and achieved even less. The young Nigerian looks lost at the moment. Aye – I am afraid to say yesterday our creative spark was barely registering.

Our Uruguayan I thought was a little inhibited yesterday, in spite of the reported “told to play his normal game” advice. He is however a  lucky boy hat Mr Taylor did not see the slo-mo of his “coming” together on the edge of the Brighton box. A yellow card for that offence and missing Anfield would have been unacceptable.

Laca off on the hour and Ramsey on ? I would have taken Iwobi off – whatever confidence he had would have been further punctured but the French striker is able to pull out goal from the unexpected angle or the half inch gap.


Weighing it all up ? The point was a correct result. Room for improvement certainly but no disaster and an encouraging step forward from my MotM Laurent Koscielny.

So just two days off and on to the Home of the Champions elect. I hear the bookies on Merseyside have already paid out – as they do.

Enjoy Thursday.




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71 comments on “Arsenal: Will the torture never end?

  1. Thank feck I don’t have to do post-game write-ups as I got into a funk some way before half time yesterday and don’t know if any of my impressions thereafter are reliable or accurate.

    I thought I saw normal, free kick 19/20 times contact on the Torreira one for instance. Ainsley had me worried about where he’s at, and seems to have so little confidence or assurance in final third for someone raised as a winger/ midfielder. And so on.

    One things sure, even though there’s no doubt the only fair sensible thing is to give it time (wait and hope, think George said elsewhere), my match-day brain is in real conflict with that!

    And the ole fair, sensible long-term brain may be more or less an illusion, made possible only when the match-day brain is happy enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Niasse

    ‘On Tuesday the FA confirmed that Niasse had been charged with “successful deception of a match official”

    ‘Everton’s Oumar Niasse “exaggerated the effect of a normal contact to deceive the referee” and win a penalty according to the written reasons for his two-game ban for diving.’


    ‘However, the FA have decided that because there was contact between the players the threshold for a diving charge had not been met.’

    On the 1st it’s working as you imagined it would and should, with the key being whether the contact actually caused what came next; in the second, contact, any contact, is apparently sufficient grounds for automatically dismissing any case.

    Aint that a big old hmmmmmmmmmm

    That recent ruling suggests it is absolutely worth a pop to go over after any contact, even if you engineer it yourself, and it also calls into question why the hell should refs be issuing yellows in a game if there is some genuine contact and a player exaggerates it and falls unnaturally (Mustafi et a lot of fucking al)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wd don’t know exactly what Raul Sven Emery and co are planning but now injuries, a bit of indifferent form in some cases and issues with our bed players are coming to play, looks like things are going to take longer to fix than our earlier run may have led us to believe.
    Could take us longer than some due to the way we are financed, others buy at will, and the spuds have generally been good at keeping players to form a stable situation which will last until June 2019 most likely.
    Patience will unfortunately be needed, still a chance of top four? Europa win but they will need to fix a few issues for that.
    Emery has a tough job, rumoured a couple experienced managers plus one rookie wouldn’t take it on the terms provided, unless those stories complete bollox

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Last night I was expecting a win as we stand little chance to get points at Anfield so it should have been wise to play full strength Ozil Laca Auba Ramsey full 90 min in tandem but I fail to understand why UE is persisting an understrength first 11.Let’s see what the manager has in mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think the top 4 is eminently achievable Mandy with Chelsea’s PL form not very different to ours and their win at Watford due to Hazard yesterday and his capability to draw a penalty. They have the distraction of a Caraboa semi final before visiting the Ems. I think the gap to them is v small indeed.

    Citeh are stumbling and with a trip for Pep to St Mary’s and then Liverpool at Anfield we may not be as far behind as it looks this morning. Interesting.

    It all depends on us. Put on a good display at Anfield and we are back firmly back in the CL hunt.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Anicol
    You maybe right about Chelsea as there form is wayward.
    But why be dependent on others when we have the squad to beat Brighton anyways?
    Dont you think UE should have focused on collecting the 3 points yesterday rather than rotating the squad for the Anfield trip.?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I thought Emery probably put out his preferred starting line up yesterday Ro. It clicked 20-25 minutes then lost the way. If Mustafi is fit again be interesting to see if he goes for a back 4 or 5

    Liked by 1 person

  8. simon Stone
    ‏ @sistoney67

    Mo Salah to face no action for incident that led to @LFC penalty yesterday. There was contact so didn’t meet threshold for diving charge. Was potential for two-match ban but now free to play v Arsenal and Man City.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. FA to investigate Arsenal manager Unai Emery over water bottle incident

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It’s a damn shame FA didn’t actually commit it to writing anywhere that ‘contact= can’t be punished retrospectively for diving’, or similar. I thought maybe they had but at most it seems to be journalists paraphrasing a line of reasoning that, you’d assume, came directly from someone at FA.

    With Niasse it appears, unless a journalist wrote it up incorrectly, that it was officially written down- paperwork, etc- that Niasse “exaggerated the effect of a normal contact to deceive the referee”

    That Niasse official line opened door to all manner of diving punishments as well as a firmer clearer guideline for refs on the pitch. *

    A door we can now assume is closed (though it could re-open at any time, for almost one-offs maybe). Maybe they regretted it right away, or it only dawned later how troublesome it could be for them. Until they remembered- ah, whatever.

    *Imagine if refs and the retrospective machinery was primed and supported consistently to seek examples of exaggerating contact in order to deceive refs? Oh boy. Then again, maybe the word ‘normal’ carries a huge amount of weight in there.

    Contact and normal contact? Presumably the distinction lies in a defender deliberately trying to gain an advantage with a foul, and a defender honestly trying to defend and some contact occurring which is not enough to impede a player?

    It could be that, I suppose.

    Anyway, they probably don’t deserve honest analysis. I remember Welbeck being held back by two powerful defenders up at Stoke early on last year in box.

    Should he have Salah’ed it? Would it have worked to earn pen? Was it ‘normal contact’? If his fall hadn’t been quite natural enough, could he have faced possibility of diving panel, despite their fouling being deliberate and massively affecting his chance of scoring.

    For whatever reasons, they have amply proven they haven’t the will or ability or both to pursue the policy honestly, competently and fairly

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Share your frustration Rich. There is no desire to disrupt the progress of any side that happens to be favoured, but enough wriggle room to impede those seen as not quite so wonderful.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Football managers have a lot of trouble with plastic bottles. Some form of ban should be considered. Paper cups only on the sidelines perhaps.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Foreverheady.

    Yep, think the VAR we get will be in keeping with that,too, with as much wriggle room as possible and yet the ability at any moment to strike and apply laws/rules stringently.

    The massive tell-tale sign is the apparent desire not to use pitch-side monitors nor in fact the whole system as it has been set out by lawmakers, IFAB, and is being used everywhere else.

    Not using the monitors allows far more wriggle room and seems to deliberately keep waters muddier than they are meant to be.

    What’s worse, for instance, (1) getting a decision wrong after one real time look at it, or (2) getting a decision wrong after your real time look, the VAR team having their look, with various angles and, in theory, all the time required, then sending it back for you to have your look, at various angles?

    It’s not much of a contest, is it. And yet they are opting, now VAR is coming in, to go for a third option : (3) ref looks, VAR automatically checks on some incidents, or is requested by ref on others, then VAR makes decision (which of course may well not be the decision the ref would make if he got to review incident again with more information).

    Their reasoning, if any is even required, for the bespoke prem option will be time saved, but i can’t see it as anything other than an exercise in keeping control, wriggle room, etc. It also clearly doesn’t offer the best chance of getting a decision right, and so goes against the whole, decades-in-gestation reason for VAR in the first place

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Agree AN, wouldn’t rule out top four just yet.
    As for Liverpool, nobody gives us a chance, despite generally performing better angainst the better teams in the league, hopefully their style of play will be less constricting, just hope no Salah antics.
    Lots of reports Emery is “closing in “ on reportedly his true footballing love, Senor E Banega. That of course Remains to be seen but hope to see Ozil and Ramsey play against Liverpool.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. reports from Brazil say Arsenal have made an offer to Man Utd Brazilian midfielder Andreas Pereira who turns 23 on January 1st and is out of contract at utd in the summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I said a few weeks ago that whatever VAR system was brought in to PL that fans would be up in arms as it would be the “wrong” VAR system.

    Ffs just let VAR come in, let players, referees, clubs, the tv media use it few months and see how it works. Watch it work for a few months yourself. It won’t be perfect, it does not claim to be. THEN there may be refinements to be made and changes suggested and/or required.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. surely it will be near perfect, after all there is only 2% of decisions that have to be corrected, well that is according to the PGMOL

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Of course VAR won’t be ‘perfect’ – look at the fuck up at the World Cup final and the cheating Argie c***. Biggest game in football wrecked. However during the same tournament VAR did well. And its operation and application changed over the 3 weeks in Russia. My expectation is it will improve decision making and reduce errors.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Unai Emery has held his final press conference of the year at the training ground.

    Our head coach took a training session early in the afternoon and then walked over to the media building to face questions ahead of Saturday’s trip to Liverpool.

    Also on the agenda? Mesut Ozil’s role in the side, Aaron Ramsey’s future and whether Liverpool can emulate the Invincibles.

    Here’s what Unai said:

    on his team for the Liverpool game…
    Good afternoon. We are playing a lot of matches in [the space of] a few days, and we need each day to test how the players are. Today, only we trained with the players who didn’t play yesterday. Mustafi may also be close to training with us, but today he worked alone but with good feeling. Tomorrow is the last training before we travel to Liverpool and we need to know who can play in training.

    on what makes Liverpool effective…
    It is a very big match for us, and for them. They are unbeaten this season, with a very big confidence and big performance from their players. I look at their progress over the last year and they are maybe in the best moment now. But for us it is a big challenge and a good test to know who we are, the difference between them and us in the table is clear and also I want to look at the pitch. We have one test against them at the Emirates, we drew but it was a good match. In Liverpool is going to be a different match to what we played here.

    on what he wants to see at Liverpool that he saw in the game at Emirates…
    First, they are usually feeling very high in their stadium with their supporters. Also the atmosphere is one point more for the. But we have players who have the habit of playing in big matches, also in Liverpool, and we know it is difficult for us but for me it is a very big test, I have a big motivation and I am looking forward to our response against them. Also, after finishing the first half of the season, we are in a good position with the points, 38, not very good but it is [quite] good and with the difference to the other teams, they are doing this difference and we need to do our process in the second half of the season to improve and to take a big performance little by little to shorten the difference between them and us.

    on if the FA are looking at the bottle incident at Brighton…
    I said yesterday my apologies, I kicked the bottle in frustration but not for the supporter, I kicked for me and it went near to the supporter and I said to them my apologies. There is not another communication. I repeat today my apologies for my individual action but I kick the bottle because it is near me, but not because it is my intention.

    on Mourinho getting a one-match ban previously and whether it could happen to him…
    I hope not but I have to respect the decision because it is a circumstance of my action, but not another intention from me with the supporter. I say to them my apology.

    on whether the apology should be the end of the matter…
    I hope so, yes.

    on Ozil coming off at half-time at Brighton…
    It is one decision tactically, and also the decision is because we have [done] it before because we have a lot of matches away when it tactically changes something, not for the player but for the team. A lot of the matches when we play in the second half, for example Iwobi, it helps us with a different situation tactically and helps us to win the matches. In other matches, when we changed for the second half we took the performance to go to win. Yesterday, my intention was the same, it is tactically to change one player for another and with our analysis before that in other matches, in the second-half sessions is the reason I do that. But for me, it is only tactically and not [down to the] player, and for me every player is the same. Sometimes I change Aubameyang, sometimes I change Lacazette and sometimes I change Matteo – it happens to every player and sometimes the result is good and the other times it doesn’t give us the result on the pitch. But the decision is only tactical.

    on whether Liverpool away is a game he thinks Mesut Ozil can influence…
    But for me, we cannot only speak for one player. For me, every player is the same. We can speak also, maybe one player now who didn’t play a lot… Jenkinson. Or Lichtsteiner or Mustafi or Kolasinac or Matteo or Mesut or Aubameyang or Lacazette or Nketiah. Every player.

    on the Brighton goal and whether he is concerned at conceding on the break recently…
    We need more, but we need more from everybody and we need more also in our demanding ideas, and we need to continue working on things. But it’s not for receiving the goal in the transition, because also, when we receive one goal we are having mistakes. The mistakes are not only one player, or two players or three players, but maybe also in the ideas. But at the moment, in the first half of the season, we are happy with 38 points. We need more. But it’s not bad, these points on the table. We need to improve defensively, because we are scoring a lot of goals and before yesterday we were second in the table for scoring. But we need to get better in the defensive moments and concede less goals and less chances for the opposition. Also, in the last matches we are having a lot of injuries in the defensive positions. We need to change some players and play in different positions, like they are usually playing, like with Xhaka and Lichtsteiner. But we need that. First, the behaviour and the commitment of the players is good to help us in different positions, but we need also to take more balance in these situations above all, in defensive moments. It is one thing: collective. It’s not just for the defence or for the attacking player, it is for all. With this balance, I am happy but also knowing that it isn’t enough at the moment for us.

    on whether he thinks Liverpool could go the whole season unbeaten…
    At the moment, they are doing it and they can do. They can do that because they are doing it at the moment. We played against Liverpool three years ago with Sevilla in the final of the Europa League and I look then, at this progress, in this process and they are a very good example. I am also looking, with the coaches also, at how we are now and with the difference in the table before those years and with us and with other teams. The progression with Liverpool is clear. Three years ago, they were out of the Champions League through the Premier League and through the Europa League, because they lost against us [at Sevilla]. This progress is also one example for us, now, in our moment. But we need to be very, very demanding of ourselves to do this step quickly in our way. But we need also time, and sometimes the patience is very important for us.

    on reports of Juventus and PSG wanting to sign Aaron Ramsey – and whether he will be happy if Aaron’s future is decided sooner rather than later…
    For me, the most important thing for every player is for their focus to be here. They have their individual situations or circumstances in their contract in their present and in their future, but my present, my future is here in Arsenal. They show me the focus for us and I think it’s not easy for Aaron, but I spoke with him and we need his performances for us. He played yesterday with a good spirit, like I want and he helped us, not to win but he was working well. I am happy. I need this focus also from him, to us, to help us to go to Liverpool on Saturday and then to Fulham. His future is only for him and for his agent. Above all, I want and he should have, his focus for helping us.

    Copyright 2018 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.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. France Football claim Stade Rennais have made an offer to sign Arsenal’s 3rd choice goalkeeper, Emiliano Martinez

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Sure, I’ll wait before a final conclusion, and if they surprise me by ditching the practices they’ve been using as the trial goes on, then I’ll owe them an apology.

    But I’m pretty damn sure they won’t- it would be extremely stupid to do one thing in the trial and then switch to something very different when it’s more widely used and scrutinised- and think it is fishy as hell.

    Seems a foregone conclusion to me they are preparing to use this bespoke prem version which, by design, doesn’t give as good a chance of getting a decision correct as the way VAR was conceived by rule makers, and is being used elsewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Ex-chairman Peter Hill-Wood has died. RIP. Believe he and his family before him served club with distinction.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. The Hill-Wood family have an extraordinary history of service with the club. Peter’s grandfather took over from Henry Norris and appointed Herbert Chapman. His father was chairman during the 60s and 70s and oversaw the first Double. And the man himself was chairman from 82-13, Graham, Wenger, trophies and the Emirates.

    Above all however what really impressed me about Peter Hill-Wood was his capacity to reduce the WOBs and the AST wankers to incoherent, foaming rage with a mere raise of his eyebrow or wave of his hand.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. yes anicol old peter was one damn fine chairman, but I’m sure the idiots in our fan base will be as disrespectful to him in death as they were to him when he was our Chairman.

    Liked by 3 people

  25. Mavropanos and Mustafi trained today

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Hear, hear – every diver should be punished and if their offence is missed by match officials it should be dealt with later. Salah’s blatant cheating clearly falls into the category. An immediate 3 match ban should be imposed. I would also like to see Liverpool deducted two points to dissuade any of their players from similar deliberate deceit.

    Perhaps someone can enlighten me though – who are the “FA’s ‘on-field regulation team’ who have “not even bothered” to pass the case on ?

    Is Halsey referring to the ref or is there someone else involved ?

    Liked by 1 person

    5h5 hours ago

    I love watching the skills of Mo Salah. It would appear that The FA have decided to turn a blind eye to his act of simulation that won him and his team a penalty kick. The FA decision promotes similar acts in the future. You have a duty of care to the game.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. anicol its not the refs decision, the best I can glean is that its an FA commission or panel

    Liked by 2 people

  29. reports that Ozil is not in our squad for tomorrow’s game, maybe its for tactical reasons

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Pathetic that Salah wasn’t sanctioned, but think we all know why. Not what you do, it’s who you play for, and two or three clubs are being given a free pass when it comes to diving.
    Some reports though say it’s because there was contact however minimal, does that mean some of our bookings for simulation against Burnley can be rescinded then? Of course not, silly me
    On another note, reports saying Reyes is returning to the club as a coach

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Very good piece on Auba today from Barney Ronay (boo-hiss) in the Guardian – a talent for scoring goals that goes under the radar.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. mandy the reyes reports are cos today is Spain’s equal to april fools day

    Liked by 1 person

  33. seemingly CFC are giving Cesc as free transfer in January, to get his wages off the books, seems AC Milan are favorites to sign him, also Gary Cahill available for a loan move, oddly enough reports in Italy say that AC Milan have missed out on him as he is to sign a six month loan with Arsenal.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Sign of the times – Chelsea cutting the wage bill, Pep (allegedly) told no action in the window unless he unloads some of his grossly overpaid squad.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Oh well, shame always liked Reyes

    Liked by 3 people

  36. Ooooh – cruel but funny

    Liked by 2 people

  37. well ozil was pictured in training today, as were Mavropanos, Mustafi, and young players Sheaf, Medley, Saka, Willock and Nketiah but one guy not pictured and also rumored out of the squad for tomorrow was Kolasinac,

    Bellerin and Monreal not to be seen in the training pictures either, but Jenkinson was.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Ozil isn’t playeing, really hope Ramsey is, or going to be a lack of creativity or feed for the strikers

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Above- If Ozil isn’t playing


  40. just a thought on the Cahill to Arsenal rumors, would CFC actually loan him to us, we are currently their main rival for a top 4 spot and we are both in EL too.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. well mandy I would suggest that even without Ozil we are more likely to see Iwobi start than Ramsey. depending on if Kolasinac is available or not, for me we are likely to see

    Lichtsteiner Sokratis Koscielny, Kolasinac
    Guendouzi, Torreira Xhaka
    Iwobi Aubameyang Lacazette

    subs Cech, Mustafi, AMN, Elneny, Willock, Ramsey, Nketiah,


  42. Here’s the latest team news update from our medical team ahead of our Premier League clash against Liverpool:

    Nacho Monreal
    Right hamstring. Being assessed ahead of Liverpool (a) on Saturday, December 29.

    Shkodran Mustafi
    Right hamstring. Being assessed ahead of Liverpool (a) on Saturday, December 29.

    Hector Bellerin
    Left calf. Being assessed ahead of Liverpool (a) on Saturday, December 29.

    Henrikh Mkhitaryan
    Right foot. Fractured metatarsal. Expected to return to full training in six weeks.

    Emile Smith Rowe
    Right hip. Expected to return to full training in December.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. anicol

    ‘on field regulation team’ not one I’ve heard before. ????

    Guess they are team/people who decide whether or not to put case to the dive panel. (Maybe do unseen/ retrospective stuff too?). Think for charges from that you then need all three on panel to agree it was a dive.

    Pretty nutty that Danny murphy is one of those on panel considering he appeared on MOTD Saturday night, and maybe on BBC outlets earlier in day, saying not a dive. Therefore if it had gone to panel and he was on it they’d know his answer beforehand.

    Surely they could have found people who weren’t doing presenting work.

    Also, if anyone is being serious, there’s no chance that guy is unbiased.

    Liked by 2 people

  44. Also…what’s this Ozil talk now?

    One of your best creative talents regularly not being in the starting eleven is…unfortunate…two is…

    Liked by 1 person

  45. He’s dropped, he’s injured, he’s off …. he may even trot out at Anfield about 5.25

    You pays your money and you takes your chance.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Blinking eck, Cahill and Fabregas talk,too. Was a quiet day last I looked.

    Echo the doubting of above that Cahill could move here on loan.

    Not unless it’s one of those supposed gentleman moves Abramovich allowed with Cech, and Abramovich is more of a gentleman than I imagined.

    Cahill could conceivably be a good help for us, and it’s surely too close between the two teams for them to allow that.

    Liked by 1 person

  47. rich the “all 3 on panel must agree” is actually the rule of the Dive panel, not of the FA group who lay charges or put the incident to the Dive Panel.

    You mention Danny Murphy being on the Dive Panel, well worse than that was Trevor Sinclair being on it, and him admitting that they only way he could say a player dived is if the player admitted it, as “you’d have to know what was going through a players mind at the moment” of any incident.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. ah anicol the only thing we know is ozil play or not its either for tactical reasons or part of the process, or both. Now what the tactics are and what the process actually is, well that is a whole other set of questions.

    Liked by 1 person

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