What’s Going on?




Feck. Bollocks. Balls.

We were doing ok; then we conceded; then the familiar tale of trying to break through a deep defence while being wide open for counters. Urgh.

There’s gotta be another way. It’s gotta be better to lose another way than this way. Our way doesn’t seem sensible enough to me. It doesn’t seem to calculate the odds well enough. Or….we just aren’t that good. Still, maybe I’d prefer to be not quite good enough another way, or the other way: putting defence first and refusing to play what feels so much like a sucker role, one that allows teams who concentrate on defence and wait for breaks against us to look so smart.

Probably there is overweighting of the most recent, painful game going on. Just the week before our win featured a lot of us sitting back defending a lead (admittedly without the counter threat for plenty of it)…but still…it, this defeat, was bloody painful and aggravating. It felt so familiar, the sights, the tale, the blasted asymmetry. How can being light in defence while trying to get through a team who are defending deeper be smarter than being organised with a lot of numbers in defence and attacking into huge spaces with few defenders? Boy, it isn’t the whole story, which is a season or even seasons long, but ,ah, that doesn’t help on the day when it is the story of the action, and it is a story that has played out so many times before.

Of course, there is the big old issue of defend and counter being dependant, in its smartness, in its likelihood of securing a good result, and in the sheer spectacle of it, on the other team playing ball, literally. If they go for the exact same approach, then you will often get checkmate, or rather stalemate. The big spaces will not be there for either side to attack into. Something will have to give. Someone will have to push.

It’s also not true that defend and counter is adhered to 100%. The D & C team will sometimes  push up some and commit players to non-counter attacking, attacking attacking, or whatever the hell you want to call it (Utd’s first was not a counter, but did feature exploiting a nice gap behind our defence); they won’t always be totally set in a deep defensive block; they won’t always ensure there is no space at all behind their defence.

In addition, it doesn’t always work, of course. Sometimes- often even, if there is a gulf in quality- the possession team wins the day. Sometimes their extra possession and their extra time probing around the opposition box leads to a breakthrough. Sometimes they get in front, and have their increased chance from there of looking smart while the opponent looks dumb, or has to change, and face the threat of conceding again while they do so. Sometimes. The odds depend on quality more than anything else, but luck and chance are also factors.

It is all far better judged over time- months, a season, seasons- than in one game, obviously. Though, frustratingly, the nature of things ensures no two games are exactly the same, so while it is clearly not fair to judge one game as a conclusive measure of one idea against another, one team against another…a perfect means of judgment can feel, finally, painfully elusive. In a lovely neat Scientific experiment you could run it again, and again, and again. 10 times. 20. 50. Are you really so smart,eh, Mr Solskjaer? Is defend and counter really so f*cking smart? But no. Ten league games against them takes five seasons. Ten home league games ten years. The casts changing all the time. The variables. We can get ten games or more per year against teams who primarily play defend and counter against us, so there’s that, but again little is constant, or not quite enough is the same for the results to be completely satisfying.

It isn’t science. Too many variables. The luck factor. Arghh. So speaks a man, hopefully not too weird a man, who has just been burned by football. Whose passion, drug, vehicle of joy or whatever, has just delivered another good ole kick to the balls, bad trip, crash.

All this talk but in the game it is more a thing of emotion, with something like reasoning riding along in the sidecar. Meaning what exactly I don’t know. Reason isn’t king? Even emotion isn’t king, as in this case it isn’t in charge of its own destiny and destination? Ah, the lot of the sports fan, ey (where can i get me a bedsheets to deface? What’s Talksports number? etc)

Pulling back from all that, pretending not to be a emotional wee beastie, timorous or no, an immature goon, or anything like that; a person of sense or science or something, shit in order; head kept, dreams not your master, triumph and disaster not fooling you, no sir…where are we at? What is a reasonable set of expectations currently? Should we focus on trying to be better in attack, or in defence? Is there a way, on our budget and from the exact position we are in, squad wise etc, to try and keep (or forge for one set of the disenchanted) an attacking identity while NOT BEING SO F*CKING SUSCEPTIBLE TO F*CKING COUNTER ATTACKS (sorry)? What next? What does the future hold in store?

We will find out, in time. The perfect analysis does not exist because the perfect test doesn’t. We don’t get to play each game 20 or 50 times under the same conditions, with the same variables etc. Luck and chance will have their say. The things of perfect scientific tests, while leading to some very handy discoveries and inventions, well, they’re not generally the stuff of real, wild, chaotic, messy life. They’re only a part of it.

We do ,however, get the months, year after year. We get a season and then another; that has to do and it is not, after all, that bad a way to judge the merits of teams, systems and ideas.

          I hope I haven’t overreacted too gratuitously. But, f*ck me, that prick dancing again on our home patch. Utd again getting to look clever, and, horribly, actually be clever, while using a style that doesn’t place much onus on having to actually build play very intelligently…oh well. Onwards. The mind straining towards the impossible a little, half-craving those ten years of games in a week or something. Thankfully not getting it. Or at least not getting it because it aint fucking possible. These frustrations do make the good days sweeter don’t they.

Rich @Whatsinaname81

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124 comments on “What’s Going on?

  1. Respectfully discussing uncertainty about what is going on at the club at the moment, is a long way from not supporting the club through thick and thin Andrew. I don’t see anyone on this site being abusive to either the manager or the players.

    I’m struggling to see the logic of the plan and at times that frustrates me, I may even express that frustration sometimes in an environment where I feel comfortable, but it won’t stop me turning up to every home game, hoping for victory while backing every player on the pitch. I still consider myself positive under those circumstances. Sorry if that doesn’t meet your definition of a positively Arsenal supporter.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. “Here’s the thing.
    It doesn’t matter how bad Wenger was or you think he was , he’s gone.
    What matters is how good the new manager is, not relative to your view on Wenger, but relative to what you wanted from a new Arsenal manager.”
    I said that.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. TBF I’ve been whining since before Chamberlain moved (pre-UE). Purely selfish, I enjoy a squad with dribblers available. Who doesn’t?

    Am looking forward to Nelson having a role in the squad next season.

    Meantime I’m hoping Lacazette’s footwork in the box will continue to entertain and feed upon good supply. I’m hoping for more quality combos involving him and Ozil like we’ve seen when Ozil hasn’t been playing where Xhaka isn’t (against Utd) and further upnthe pitch.

    Aubamayang will continue to do his thing, and continue to score at a good if not decent rate. Player of the season so far for me because his goals are so valuable.
    Can’t ignore the stats he’s top scorer in the league for a team that have scored: 48 along with Spurs with Liverpool on 54 & City 62(!) after 23 games. An undeniably positive fact!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A true whine would ask how many more goals Arsenal would be scoring if…heh.

    But having Auba as top scorer so far is great.
    Goals are there. Even when chances have been lower. Might even be a pattern (haven’t checked)?

    Wishing the gaffer good luck cobbling together a back line for City and Cardiff in that order. Monreal was Arsenal’s most consistent defender last season?
    Hopefully he’s match fit and available as an option at LCB if required #prayforMonreal

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yikes Salah overtook Auba in the last round!
    16 goals to Auba’s 14. A fair number of pelanties so far bumping up Salah’s &a Kane’s (14) numbers, don’t think Auba’s going to catch up with pens somehow (I could bet on it) so he’s going to have to score at a very good rate to end top scorer.

    Still very impressive for me, 14/48 with no pens (I think, just the one heh if so) is a good return so far.

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  6. Likewise Kane will be a loss to Spurs even if for a short time as they’ve also lost Alli. You all know how much I admire Alli’s one dimensional qualities heh, still can’t believe he gets played in midfield (it’s hard to laugh when your own attacking midfield has had a Ramsey sized hole in it – till the SOS went out) but Alli’s scoring record as a second striker is consistently decent. Not sure if he’ll ever match Sterling or Lingaard or others but if he steers clear of big injuries he’ll get better.

    In the meantime the opportunity might briefly be there for the clubs below who gain some points.

    Hopefully Higuain will implode amidst the Chelsea squad in loving memory of Faustina Asprilla and other legends/cliches, Rashford, Martial, Sanchez & Pogba get clogged off the pitch and Arsenal put a decent run together amidst the injuries to the back line. Didn’t understand the choice for the more attacking line up against a team with a better attack then Chelsea of late though I’d never be confused by a coach going for an attacking option even if I didn’t understand, I never understand!
    All fairly normal. Save the bit where the best attacking player* isn’t starting. That’s not normal. Can only be because he hasn’t been fit. I hope.

    *no disrespect to Ramsey or any of his fans including myself, he became a legend at Arsenal as an attacking box to box all round all action “Rambo” CM famously ghosting in with runs from outside the area to score the winning goals in two fa cup finals, not as a ten or World Cup winning forward with licence to roam and forage, a bit like your D.Silva’s and so many others.

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  7. Wilson 10/33*
    Auba 14/48
    Kane 14/48
    Salah 16/54
    Hazard 10/40
    Sterling 10/62
    Aguero 10/62
    Hazard 10/40

    *deserves his call up to England this season best ratio/most valuable contribution to his club’s goal tally so far. Think he’s also out at the moment? If he is hopefully he won’t be back before the Arsenal game!
    City scoring from everywhere. The stats don’t lie! Best not to think of that this week.

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  8. < only one Hazard, that's not his brother sneaking his way into the table above from another league

    Liked by 1 person

  9. << if you're now curious Throgan Hazard has:


    For Borussia Mönchengladbach (3rd in table) this season.

    Both brothers scoring at an almost identical rate for their teams this season!

    Scary to think how good the Belgium attack could be with Henry now gone haha just kidding, maybe.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. <<< Thorgan

    Apologise to lovers of Norse lore etc. for the typo.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve read only empathy for Emery’s situation an circumstance.

    The, excuse me, the cluster**** slowly revolving around him. Ozil’s injuries in 2018 (at least), contracts beyond his control etc but he did let the CB go on loan and even then he deserves time as I wrote at start of season to adapt to the physical toll of PL football on his squad, same as Klopp. Still a **** up letting him go, then and now, and as then: understandable given his inexperience with the league, or such a rash of injuries/clogging *coughs*. To be clear, with the help of a megaphone on repeat since the start of the season: a **** up albeit one you can easily understand.

    The concern is focused on the miasma above UE, took about six months for the Sports Communications dept. to ooze out some tentacles in the fans direction which resembles more of a slip then a stiff upper lip.

    And the long speculation around Ozil continuing from last season which for me is just a distortion of concerns about his fitness.

    I can also empathise with people worrying about a coach complaining about say, a maverick yet productive player/character who won’t get on a plane or has the same stamina as say, D.Silva, as that would be:
    Not helpful. As above and consistently: Hopefully not the case and just speculation.

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  12. Just had a scary thought imagening Deschamps inheriting the Chelsea squad at the start of the season. Fortunately France’s squad is scarily good. replacements for Koscielny coming through.

    Not blessed with a classic ten or a goalscoring forward he made do with Griezman and Mbappe ahead of an attacking midfielder in Pogba (Juve like their top level box to box attacking all round CMs I guess). The original water carrier also picked Payet when fit and form.
    So Deschamps is not like the influential yet not great Arrigo Saachi and his legendary self defeating run ins with R.Baggio, but different as witnessed with Koscielny and others: Koscielny dropped from the starting eleven for several months after his red rage at the diving Ukrainians almost cost his team their qualification. But he eventually returned as he was their best defender at that time. He returned in great form for them: clearly good management.
    Would’ve been fun to see Saachi coach Romario thei opposing goal scorer in that famous 94 final.

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  13. Just had a scary thought imagening Deschamps inheriting the Chelsea squad at the start of the season. Fortunately France’s squad is scarily good. replacements for Koscielny coming through.

    Not blessed with a classic ten or a goalscoring forward he made do with Griezman and Mbappe ahead of an attacking midfielder in Pogba (Juve like their top level box to box attacking all round CMs I guess). The original water carrier also picked Payet when fit and form.
    So Deschamps is not like the influential yet not great Arrigo Saachi and his legendary self defeating run ins with R.Baggio, but different as witnessed with Koscielny and others: Koscielny dropped from the starting eleven for several months after his red rage at the diving Ukrainians almost cost his team their qualification. But he eventually returned as he was their best defender at that time. He returned in great form for them: clearly good management. To be fair he also seems to have had more attackers then Saachi in 94
    That great footballers are hard to manage is another great football cliche.
    A famous final in ’94 because even Brazil were famously conservative with two deep CMs. The age old attack vs defence balance debate.

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  14. I have a problem. I’m finding myself unable to get behind the club (not the team) I don’t know what we’re doing. What’s the story they are telling us to get behind? Emery will fix it is no story, it’s just a statement of faith, and so far unfounded faith.

    Maybe that’s harsh. But when he was hired we were told there were 4 criteria he had to meet. 1. Attacking play 2. Not solely needing the transfer market 3. Commitment to playing youth 4. Arsenal values

    And as far as I can see, he’s not done much to reassure that he meets any of that.

    Of course the person who outlined these objectives has now left, the person who was supposed to handle our recruitment strategy is now leaving, and the person who apparently pushed for Emery to be hired is now solely in charge of the football side of the business which is essentially mission creep. (Pun intended)

    We’ve foregone the work done in the transfer market last Jan to build this attack. We’ve lost Ramsey for free after abhorrent behaviour on our part, and it seems want to push Ozil out (Yes yes I know they are only rumours) We also had Guillem Balague write a hit piece on the departing Sven saying he wasn’t doing his job. None of this fits Arsenal values. And in the face of this do we at least have some other story to get behind? Maybe youth promotions/signings, maybe attacking football, or at least a much improved defensive performance if we’re not being the ‘protagonistas’. Nope. And all the ones who say we should just shut up and support make excuses for Emery. He’s not got the players, which is nonsense since we strengthened in GK, Def n midfield since last season. Plus it violates point 2 and 3 of the criteria of his hiring.

    It’s not about the results. I don’t mind those. Top 4 is not easy to achieve. It’s about the performances, the style of play, the lack of an outlined narrative of our plans, and the visible signs of reneging on our values in pursuit of, at best, short term gains.

    So, I have a problem. I am not feeling Positively Arsenal right now, because I don’t know who Arsenal are.

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  15. Maybe I should have started with, Hi my name is Shard and I’m an addict.

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  16. GG falling out with his best football players is one of the great “what ifs” even in spite of the later cups in the history of Arsenal football club. The quality of that ’91 league winning team must have been a joy to behold.

    “Protect the values of the club”

    From people that like to spend lots of money on non-footballers like Paulinho? That have given up on the footy and prefer to flog their best players from the back of a Ford Fiesta on the A1 hard shoulder? Listening to Limpar and Davis talk about their exists from the club/starting eleven is sad stuff there ain’t no denying it.

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  17. Hi Shard, hows it going? Some valid points. Still believe we have to wait on Emery, not out of blind faith, yes he has a decent pedigree, but is also a manager with things to prove, and one who has landed a very difficult job, which it is alleged other managers wouldn’t go near.
    On the attacking football, hard to say, I think Arsenal are without too many of those kind of link players to service our excellent forwards. Ramsey and Ozil I hear you say, really hope we see more of both of them for the rest of the season, but as frustrating as the situation is and as much as I rate both of them, I have a nagging doubt we don’t have the full story on either. Ramsey had plenty of time to sign a reportedly good deal on the table, but for whatever reason , did not. Ozil can be brilliant, but for whatever reason, has in the main, not performed consistently for a while, maybe even to external factors. And believe we are seriously missing Danny on the attack front at times.
    Not solely needing the transfer market, remains to be seen, he clearly needs some of the transfer market, and injuries really have not helped, but pretty sure he was going to go with Rob Holding given the chance, I hope we see more youngsters , but can see why he won’t put too many in pressurised games in his first season. Jury’s out there?
    Commitment to playing youth, some reports link us with 30year olds all the time, but again, need more time to fully assess that.
    Arsenal values, something Wenger and Ivan referred to regularly, but I for one have never been exactly sure what they are. Were they the personal values of those who have now left? I am sure promoting youth was one of them, will have to wait and see on that, self sufficiency, will clearly apply with Stans stated policy as owner. Excellent foundation and community work, as far as I know, still applies. But I do wonder if say Josh or Raul would have the same values as Wenger, I suspect not. Playing style not defined, maybe not but early days if he is trying to change as much as I suspect he is, with a big injury list and limited budget.

    Only my thoughts and I am sure many, if not most will disagree, but I don’t think we will really have much idea on Emery until maybe this time next year.
    It took far more loved and annointed managers around at the moment, some with greater resources than emery, a couple seasons to imprint their style on their players. I am ignoring new manager bounce effects, and managers who come in and just set up teams to defend here.
    I think Emery will prove a very sound hire, but as the cliche suggests, he needs time. He also needs to learn this league, and it’s little “ways”
    If he fails, I predict he will not be around as long as Wenger but backing him all the way to succeed, within the parameters of what he is working with and what he is facing, if that sounds horrible unexciting.

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  18. Raul’s colleague the one who has no say on footballing matters according to the Sports Communications benevolence that we received six months after Ivan disappeared from being front and centre of every photograph, he was sold to us representing the club’s values.

    He’s not the guy with a record signing Paulinho for big money.

    So if one of the two represents the club’s values and he has no say on the Football as we have been kindly informed: what about the person who does?

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  19. Mandy the quote is or was:

    “Protect the values of the club”

    (That’d be the same club that sacked GG for taking the same bungs all his mates were taking).

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  20. As jjgsol highlights above, the bungs today are a lot bigger then in GGs time! Just a bit.

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  21. Ignoring this history is why Billy Big Blagger cannot explain to his audience why the club has been operating in a different market for the last 30 odd years, at least.

    With Chambo and Rambo off to earn more elsewhere that may still be the case. I hope it is! But then if that is the case then the process which decided to dump Ramsey after the summer and lose out on a fee whilst not playing him has harmed the club on and off the pitch (not my feelings lol!).

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  22. Hi Mandy, it’s been a while. I had my own reasons for staying away, but among them was not wanting to express dissatisfaction and giving more time for things to get better.

    I’m still not saying we should sack Emery. Yes give him time. But time to do what? We’re not a pressing team like we were told. We’re not a team that takes the initiative. We don’t defend better despite Torriera and keeping 2 CMs back.

    As for Holding and players like Bellerin and Iwobi, people like to credit Emery, but with the exception of Hector, I think it’s just the natural growth of young players. Wenger rated them highly and gave them chances to grow. Hector’s got more chance to shine under Emery’s system of pullbacks from wide (about the only identity we have). And w/o Bellerin opposite to Kolasinac, it doesn’t really work.

    He’s had many more chances to play the youth but has chosen not to. Even in the cup competitions, out of 9000 available outfield minutes (10 matches) he’s played non first teamers a total of 1000 minutes. Most of it to ESR. And this is in matches against the likes of Vorskla and Blackpool.

    Yes Emery needs time. But surely that is based on progress. Because at the end of this season he’ll have just 12 months left on his contract. Do we keep with him despite the doubts even you contend will remain till then? Do we sign the extension? I’m sure Emery’s worried about it, and that will lead to short termism. That’s kind of how he would see his job because that’s how we were going to set up. Strategic recruitment was Sven’s purview. And he’s been shunted out. So who does it now? Raul? He was supposed to stay in his lane of handling the commercial aspects, but now he runs the sporting side. This is not a plan, but a power grab.

    And on the Ramsey thing. I’ll say it yet again. An offer is not the same as a contract. Once an offer is agreed then a contract is drawn up and signed. Ramsey told us he’d agreed an offer and was waiting to hear back from the club but they never got back and never told him why. So while values are hard to define, this is clearly not the way Arsenal should treat their legend and longest serving player. Also the treatment of Ozil. Sorry, but no one forced Arsenal to sign that contract. Imagine if Ozil was trying to weasel his way out of the agreed deal. Ozil and Ramsey both have Arsenal values. Raul and also by extension Emery, it appears don’t.

    I’m still not calling for his head and I don’t know if I ever will. This is all new to me. Only ever known Wenger. But I am not sure what the club I could wholeheartedly support before stands for now. And this bothers me.

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  23. Shard @10:45

    Great post
    Cannot disagree a single world.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. New post up

    Liked by 1 person

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