204 Comments

The Season Defining game – Arsenal vs Chelsea.

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You know … at different stages during the course of this season a fixture was labelled “the most important game of the season”, but that came and went as there was always the next one. Tonight though, for Arsenal: THIS IS IT. Some may even say the most important game of the Emirates era.
Good day one and all.
We are in Azerbaijan this evening and it is a London derby with Arsenal and Chelsea battling it out to be crowned 2018/19 Europa League Champions at Baku’s Olympic Stadium.
Leading up to this match most of the talking points focused on off-field issues like ticket allocation, too long a trek to Baku and Henrikh Mhkitaryan missing out due to political reasons, but for Unai Emery and Maurizio Sarri it’s about winning a continental trophy in their first season as head coaches of the respective football clubs. Sarri by no means had it easy at the Blues and for his side winning the cup will mean ending what has been a fickle season, on a high – having already secured qualification for next season’s Champions League (CL). However, for the Gunners, there’s a sense they’ve got a bit more riding on it than just a first European trophy in 25 years, certainly more than banter and/or online bragging rights for their faithful fans.
In recent years Arsenal has lost ground on our traditional top-six rivals, and with both Liverpool and Tottenham guaranteed a massive pay day there’s a real concern that we could fall behind even further if missing out on the CL riches for a third consecutive season. Just recently Vinai and Sanllehi gave an interview where they said the club are committed to stick by its self-sustaining model in the foreseeable future, so any extra revenue we can get is needed to enhance our plans this coming summer.
In a nutshell: for Arsenal this is about one step closer to the promised land. No pressure then.
Seemingly, when you want to win a Europa League Cup, having the competition’s most decorated coach in the dugout is nothing to scoff at. Emery won the title an unprecedented three times in a row during his time at Sevilla and tonight will see him, following a not spectacular yet steady initial league campaign, back in familiar surroundings and no doubt with his tail up. Arsenal’s path to the finals came via an unbeaten run through the group stages with five wins and a draw. First leg hiccups against both BATE and Rennes were followed up by five knockout wins with relative ease.
Chelsea had a similar path with the exact same record in their group fixtures, however, whereas we lost two of our knockout games, they drew two. Both against Eintracht Frankfurt in the semi-finals, a tie they ultimately won via a penalty shootout at Stamford Bridge.
Emery will be without Aaron Ramsey tonight but Danny Welbeck could see one final return on the substitutes’ bench. Players he will be looking at as match winners will be Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who both have been exceptional this season. Sarri has Loftus-Cheek, Rudiger, Hudson-Odoi and possibly Kante ruled out. We know Eden Hazard can win a game on his own and with him, possibly, heading off to a new and even more lucrative life outside of London, he will want to put on one last good show for the Blues.
This is a game that promises to be full of entertainment and goals between two sides that have fairly good records against each other, but the pressure may be on Arsenal.
Lose and the season would be defined as disappointing; win and we look to the future with renewed optimism.
@LaboGoon

204 comments on “The Season Defining game – Arsenal vs Chelsea.

  1. Mandy I dont doubt Emery is a highly rated coach, however, my one irritation with him is that it seems he got too much trust in the way he want our boys to play that and, despite all those saying he set up to counter the opposition, he leaves little room for “what if the opposition set up to negate our gameplan?”

    Because sometimes you can see they have us on the backfoot, but we just plod along, almost in hope we’ll crack them open.

    Look at the Brighton game, when we had to throw the kitchen sink at them, it seems as if the subs he brought on was decided before kick-off already. For all Guendouzi’s potential what will he change when we are chasing the game? No doubt Emery will review his own season too and one just hope we go on an upward trajectory.

    Eddie: on that about 45m sales will bring in, if we add the 40m that we were told will be available, that will make it 100m, to round it off. What, who can buy for that amoun, especially if we are looking at a much, much, leaner squad?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Was listening to the usual suspects this morn, given a round up of recent events. They offered up the idea that if we could just get a solid defence the form there things could go up. Seems fair enough, but somethings missing? Seems to me that in the end stage of the season everytime we went behind we gave up, thats in the realm of the mind. AW always gave the lads the ability to think for themselves, Im not sure Emery works that way?

    Im may get burn at the stake for this, but I think we have the players, I just think the geist is shite, especially away from home. At least three people were rumoured to have fallen out with UE, and one wasnt even from the Wenger era. And two are/were top/key figures. Of course we all want more ( or at least losing with a full on scrap) but theres not much of an appetite?Personally I think if theres some way of getting everyone inspired again, believing again then the old machine might start moving down the tracks a bit easier?
    We seem like a bloated flared trousered (etc) rock start at the end of 1975, not knowing that the ‘orrible lean, mean punks are about burst on the scene?

    FOYS!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. May involve a bit of gritting teeth but this is worth a read

    https://www.unibet.co.uk/blog/football/champions-league/klopp-and-pochettino-have-restored-english-footballs-traditional-values-in-europe-1.1191808?mktid=52:5211000020:odds_30052019

    I don’t know how accurate it is that English teams had any physical advantage in European heyday, but hard to argue European teams haven’t struggled to cope at times this year with aggression and speed of Pool in particular.

    Again, should we/are we likely to try move in that direction?

    I’d rather ‘more skill’ was the key for improvements than physical stuff, although good bit of both would be ideal. Expensive business though.

    That earlier part of season where we really were putting a lot of emphasis on playing out, brave in possession, etc, seems a long time ago.

    Question will be if we go back to it with another pre-seaosn, whatever Emery has learned form first year, and whatever signings we make…or more of a move towards those traditional english football values, updated for modern prem’/game (which involves a lot of breaking packed defences for top teams)?

    I think every foreign coach gets a surprise by just how physical prem is, even if they think they know what’s coming. Maybe with us that is especially likely, as they try get to grips with pgmol’s special way with our games. The most natural reaction, or common, to it is probably ‘bloody hell. I need more strength, aggression and pace for this’

    I guess the signings will tell us plenty.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. May involve a bit of gritting teeth but this is worth a read

    https://www.unibet.co.uk/blog/football/champions-league/klopp-and-pochettino-have-restored-english-footballs-traditional-values-in-europe-1.1191808?mktid=52:5211000020:odds_30052019

    I don’t know how accurate it is that English teams had any physical advantage in European heyday, but hard to argue European teams haven’t struggled to cope at times this year with aggression and speed of Pool in particular.

    Again, should we/are we likely to try move in that direction?

    I’d rather ‘more skill’ was the key for improvements than physical stuff, although good bit of both would be ideal. Expensive business though.

    That earlier part of season where we really were putting a lot of emphasis on playing out, brave in possession, etc, seems a long time ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Question will be if we go back to it with another pre-seaosn, whatever Emery has learned form first year, and whatever signings we make…or more of a move towards those traditional english football values, updated for modern prem’/game (which involves a lot of breaking packed defences for top teams)?

    I think every foreign coach gets a surprise by just how physical prem is, even if they think they know what’s coming. Maybe with us that is especially likely, as they try get to grips with pgmol’s special way with our games. The most natural reaction, or common, to it is probably ‘bloody hell. I need more strength, aggression and pace for this’

    I guess the signings will tell us plenty.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Nothing good or bad lasts forever. I think we’ve had our time of success for this cycle. 20 years near the top of the game was a good run, but I think it’s time to prepare for a spell in the wilderness until we find a way out of our current malaise. I have to be honest and say my expectations for next season are very low, and I cannot see anything to inspire me or give me hope. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think I’ll just sit back try to be patient and supportive and see what happens next as there’s little point getting worked up about something over which I have no control.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I think we could end up doing a Villa if we let this lot change things too much. Some fans want a massive clear out. Very dangerous in my opinion.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Oh Shit, just seen that Jose Reyes has died in a car crash at 35. Terrible news. RIP

    Liked by 1 person

  9. fuck Ive just seen it too. Thats bad, what a terrible shock. RIP JAR.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. RIP Jose Reyes.
    Wonderful Footballer. Went on to win everything as in everything (I think) after he was kicked off the pitch with no protection and left AFC, alongside that legacy with the Invincibles.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Marky the sado-masochistic bhaviour was called out by Bob Wilson, and, it’s quite mad.

    There are cycles. And there’s conduct that whatever the reasons can be observed to be sabotage or destructive. Such as the PR I mean Sports Communications surrounding the requirement for a “change of identity” for a club that had just won three cups and come second. Have you ever heard such gibberish?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. < correction: Reyes wasn't in the Spanish Euro and World Cup winning squads. a hugely successful career in club football.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Terribly sad news about Reyes.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Any thoughts on tonight’s game?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Reyes came to England and won a title.
    Gary Neville went to Spain and…

    Liked by 3 people

  16. There’s a game tonight?
    I think those cheating Australians (oh to have seen the cheating official Hair’s face when they were caught!) will probably beat the relative rookies from Afghanistan today.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. The night/performance when Reyes became a legend at Real Madrid as well as at the Arsenal.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Mills: “it would be good for English football if Liverpool win the Champions League title” as so many pundits said last season.

    Arsenal twatter will absolute miserable if those spuds win.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. If the Spuds win as you say Labo, a nightmare in the banter world for Arsenal. If they lose then they will be tormented for a long time also.
    Apparently loads of fan s have turned up without ticket and have bee trying to get in. I wonder if they will have a moment of silence for Reyes?

    Liked by 1 person

  20. They said something like that yes, in build-up. Re moment of silence.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Terribly drab CL final so far.

    2 teams from the same league also takes away some of the excitement.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. hes only a poor little chicken, feathers all tattered and torn…

    Liked by 3 people

  23. That was not easy on the eye, but at least we avoided the worst.

    Liked by 3 people

  24. spare a thought for us poor souls here in Ireland that have to put up with insufferable Liverpool fans all over the place

    Liked by 4 people

  25. Poor performance by Liverpool, Spurs had that there for the taking.
    Still Spursy after all these years

    Liked by 3 people

  26. That is terrible news about Reyes, I can’t believe he was only 35! What a waste.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Thank ye football gods

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Two finals affected by the fitness of two strikers. Higuain’s niggle meaning Sarri stared with the Giroud-Hazard partnership and Kane declaring himself fit for the final.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Phew. Apocalypse avoided. Comfortably lesser of two evils.

    Game was of a type that should happen more often if my theories of modern game are correct: ie what does a game look like when both coaches love high turnovers, counters, capitalising on mistakes, etc, and are eager not to do the same themselves? Plenty of caution, long balls, lot of care and wariness about playing balls into midfield. Not the most thrilling or beautiful of football.

    Doesn’t carry much power when they’ve had year they’ve had and just won Champions League, but Liverpool in particular seemed to demonstrate the limitations I feel should be there with a more workmanlike centre mid, yet frustratingly too often aren’t. They sure won’t care about that tonight though.

    One very noticeable thing was that on a night they weren’t at best, they rescued defensive situations a handful of times through pure speed, or rather got back into positions to challenge or block in a way they couldn’t without pure speed. Also height of the two cb’s was surely handy to hold out a tall team at set piece time.

    Liked by 3 people

  30. Ian Ladyman
    ‏Verified account @Ian_Ladyman_DM
    38m38 minutes ago

    Pochettino asked if he is staying at Spurs. ‘Now is not the time to talk about that’.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. rich I’ve been saying for a long time now that lack of speed is our team’s biggest weakness, and is the cause for so much of our problems right through the team, but especially in defense, our players are busting a gut to get back in position, meaning they rush decisions, tackles and positions,

    whoever we sign this summer, they need to have real speed

    Liked by 4 people

  32. Tonight, in selecting himself and with his performance, Harry Kane showed that somewhere deep inside, he is still a Gooner

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Cant believe the horrendous news about Reyes.
    Left the fans who loved him to join a big club in the PL where he was promptly kicked out of the game and had to go back home. It feels his untimely passing means he never had a fair crack of the whip.
    On the CL thank god Liverpool won and I can still follow football next year without becoming a goatherder in gesbackistan totally cut off from the world of football.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. I feel a parallel between Pool team and France’s world-cup winning team.

    France had a couple of wonderfully gifted attacking talents in Mbappe and Griezmann but it wasn’t really a team where the football flowed. More about discipline, power, work, and rapid bursts.

    They were probably more organised defensively than Liverpool and gave less away, but there were similarities in the strength and physical prowess of back four (each relatively young as well) and… I guess it was just a long way from the football of Spain and Barca of their golden era’s.

    Pragamatic, physicality to the fore, no emphasis on overall possession, minimise risks in dangerous areas; hunt mistakes; aggressive; onus on special attacking talents to produce spark. Lean. As though there’s no interest in playing any more football than you need to (though in reality the greatest possession sides aren’t passing for the sake of it)

    Things can change quickly in football but it feels for the moment like that is the most successful formula right now and has got on top of possession football, playing from back, i.e what Spain/Barca exemplified. An oversimplification but maybe not by much.

    There’s City, of course, but it increasingly feels to me that is the preserve only of the very richest should they choose, though Ajax were able to buck the trend very nicely on a modest budget, albeit one that is not modest within their own league, which suits their football, and where their players grow and get good and confident at the style.

    It feels like the result of a response to both the Spain/Barca style and to the style -bus-parking- often used to try stop it.

    Be particularly interesting what Barca and Real do next. Bayern, too, to a degree..

    Liked by 3 people

  35. just realized that by this time 5 weeks Arsenal will have played their first preseason game of the summer. So a very short break this summer, with lots of business to be done

    Liked by 1 person

  36. any Spurs players getting “ ozil goes missing in big games” treatment in the media? Not found a lot yet.
    Eriksen and Kane deserve honourable mentions in the went missing scoreboard, winks as well.

    Liked by 3 people

  37. Thought they reached new heights of skipping over Kane/darling dives in commentary yesterday.

    Conversation barely skipped a beat and zero condemnation, in words or tone, when they had brief look back at it and agreed no pen and that he had stuck out his leg and was looking for it.

    He was trying to cheat his way to a pen in a major final!

    How can that and their other attempts mean literally nothing, when at other times they- pundits, commentators- come on so strong, moral, condemnatory about it? What does it say about their ability to call the rest of the action impartially through a season?

    These guys have favourites and non-favourites, treat them very differently and aren’t nearly smart enough to hide it, or they just don’t have to.

    Liked by 4 people

  38. What they do with this ‘seeing but not saying anything’ of theirs is help enormously to ensure Kane doesn’t get the diving reputation, and scrutiny, he deserves, so too his boss.

    Liked by 4 people

  39. Rich

    Klopp had a successful Dortmund team with Goetze has his key playmaker.
    Coutinho.

    He has no aversion to playmakers as far as I can observe in spite of the projections of the Billy Big Blaggers on their podcasts. One to file away alongside with the Ramsey and Ozil can’t play together propaganda/gibberish.

    France played with Pogba in front of two CMs, joint up with the three forwards. He scored in the final.
    Liverpool looked like they had Fabinho playing as their 4/6 behind two 8’s yesterday, a variation on France’s midfield three and a more decensive approach in last night’s final then DD went for with France. DD played Payet when he was fit and in form and in contention for a start! Like Klopp he appears to be happy selecting the best players available to him, unlike…

    Liked by 1 person

  40. If I was an expert in Football Relations and I wanted to get shot of a playmaking footballer I’d ask my colleagues in Sports Communications to help me out.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Sounds vix, but anyone glad (even in a small sense) that the seasons over, bit of a rest, see what happens in the great window of exchange? Then off we go again…back on the magic roundabout.
    Since April 16th feels like the season was really grind, then the long stretching of the fixtures until, lets face it, it wore thin? I feel like the more distance we make to this period the easier things will feel?

    Liked by 3 people

  42. Since it became apparent that the new coach was flummoxed by the presence of a world class no.8 & no.10 in his squad it’s been more then a grind…

    Liked by 2 people

  43. Mills you are lucky that it was only from April 16th that you felt it a grind, this has been a grind for much longer than that. When it became clear to me that the PR was just that, and we have a head coach who has a small club mentality the whole thing became a grind.
    Add in the PGMOL disgraceful performances, the bloggers and media nonsense, the ignoring of blatant diving and cheating, the Ramsey and Ozil bull and this has been far from a pleasant season

    Liked by 2 people

  44. fair enough, Im a bit deluded anyway, always trying to be positive and tolerating way too much in life!
    Its true the things you outline were going on…I did think that when the WoB were chanting out “we’ve got our Arsenal back ” after we whipped Fulham that they might end up with egg all over their chops. In the end smeggy eggy shitty shoe shitter egg on the face. Cheers for kicking out Wenger dear WoB. You fuckin geniuses. Did you vote leave too?
    For me it was after the Twatford game ( cheers for playing up to us Watford, but doing next to nothing v City) everything then seemed nuts, Leicester taunting us(cheeky buggers who the bleep are they?), Wolves coming across as hard as nails and we seemed weak and tired and wanted to go home and not play with the nasty boys. Even dear old Giroud who the WoBs wanted out for not being Henry said “thank you Arsenal” after the EL final when he was on the Chelsea bus. And now we are to enter the most uncertain period for many decades.
    I still rate all our players, I just dont think they are being played right. But its all change now so we shall see. If its gonig to be the same football style for us next year, then I’ll be investing in rose-tinted specs!
    In some ways its even more of a crunch time for the Spudneys, if they dont do something next year then Kane and Son will be off– a new stadium isnt enough when Barca and Real or PSG come knocking on the door.

    Liked by 3 people

  45. Least I watched one team playing excellent football yesterday. Japan in Toulon vs England.

    One of worst England teams seen in a while admittedly, but Japan played some beautiful stuff, and with a tiny- 5 foot 4- playmaker/ten at centre of it.

    Tatsuya Ito the name. Sure hope football has place for him at top table. Currently with Hamburg in German 2nd division

    Their seniors provided one of if not favourite game of world cup, vs Belgium, as well, playing similarly good football. Brave, on the deck, nice technique, smooth movers.

    Stand out player of few bits and bobs I’ve watched of u20 world cup also diminutive Asian. Kang-in Lee of South Korea and Valencia. Think he might be a real gem of a player.

    Liked by 2 people

  46. Felt France used Pogba expertly. Allowed him to use incredible athleticism and dynamism, including helping defensive side, but without relying on him for defensive stuff, ie if he was not in position to help defence he was well covered by the other two.

    Kante helps hell of a lot with that, but Juve did something similar with Pogba.

    Goetze a fascinating one. In pre-season game last year vs Pool, I think, he had this incredible 10-15 minute spell late in game where he looked easily best player on pitch. Nothing short of glorious. All perfect touches, vision, creativity and expert passes. Created a goal or two with it.

    Analysing him complicated by the serious health issues he had, but was still left thinking ‘how isn’t this guy at the very, very top? How isn’t such quality even more influential?’

    I guess the story of the sport has always been that battle between skill and technique and attempts to negate and nullify it, but it feels more intense than ever somehow.

    Liked by 1 person

  47. Know transfer links are more often than not crap and very few come to pass but seems big spike in links with South American players.

    To be expected to say least- not just links but happening- if Edu comes in but also have feeling Emery a big fan of South Americans for their combo of grit and technique.

    Latter based, admittedly, on vague sense of how many La Liga teams have a number of South Americans and players from there tend to fit well in La Liga. Also think number of Monchi/ Sevilla’s bigger successes- Dani Alves, Adriano, Banega, Carlos Bacca, Baptista, Medel, Fazio were from there.

    As big a driving factor obviously would be hoping to secure bargains relative to European prices.

    Like

  48. South American players could be good, though there can be third party ownership issues.
    Maybe Raul Edu et al can find ways around this?

    Like

  49. Mandy also the language problems so many south americans have with English, and then there has been work permit issues so often.
    the young Brazilian forward we are said to have agreed to sign when he turns 18, has had to get an Itialian passport so he can come

    Like

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