Arsenal Take a Riverside Stroll.

If other teams can work out whatever it is that allows us to have easy passing options at all times, then football will enter a new era. 

Because when we’re flying we make football look so simple that it goes beyond personnel. You think there must be a recipe. Surely other teams are dying for an inside look at our training sessions, in the hope that they can isolate an all-important algorithm that drives the machine. 

The first half against Fulham was a masterclass in teamwork, a lesson in subduing the opponent with your style. Some people are going to claim that Fulham didn’t show up. This just isn’t true.

They started at a clip, perhaps in the knowledge that we’d just got back from a game in Europe, and were coping with injuries and illness. Gabriel, White and Saka were all fouled early on as they tried to disrupt our flow. 

Where Leicester were passive when we played them, Fulham were forcibly pacified, by the composure of individuals like Trossard and Xhaka, but also by our team’s fundamental connections. 

You could compare the partnerships across the pitch to quantum entangled particles, communicating faster than the speed of light, defying what was previously thought possible. Or, to keep my waffle in check, maybe they’re like long-term couples who know each other implicitly? 

Either way, a few minutes in, the ball was zigzagging up the pitch in short and then sweeping strokes, like tremors on a seismograph. Xhaka got loose and couldn’t quite cut it back, and then released Martinelli with a razor-sharp pass, for the eventual own-goal to be ruled out for what would, on another day, have been a controversial offside call.

When the VAR decision came through, Arteta made a rolling gesture with his hands, and the Arsenal factory went back to work. The great stationary engine began to turn and the myriad moving parts started to whir, and within three minutes we had the lead. 

Trossard put in the mixer from a corner, and Gabriel towered over everyone to head it down and past Leno, who had may have been put off by a little tussle with White. 

The machine was now at full tilt, and Fulham were in deep trouble. At this point they should have retreated to defend their own box for a few minutes, but they kept on closing down empty patches of grass recently vacated by a black and gold shirt. 

After chasing a long sequence of passes they decided to commit half their squad to press an unconcerned Saliba, who looked up, spotted Xhaka on the other flank and switched the ball into so much space it might have been another ground. 

The rest was about Trossard, who killed an awkward pass, stood the defender up and dug out a looping cross out for Martinelli, unchallenged at the back post.

Our football got even better, and in the 36th moment we almost added to the pantheon of great Arsenal goals. Odegaard angled the ball infield for Xhaka, who dummied and continued his run, leaving it for Trossard to tap a precise first-time pass ahead of him into the area. 

Xhaka was all alone like Wilshere against Norwich, and, as if awed by the pure beauty of the move, gave us neither a shot nor piece of control.  

No matter, a couple of chances later and Arsenal were 3-0 up. Partey seized on a loose throw, finding Saka who had wandered off the touchline to get in on the fun. He spread it wide to Martinelli in ample space, who fed it to Trossard in even more. 

A deep cross got as far as Odegaard, who dropped his shoulder on a couple of broken, punch-drunk defenders and slotted it into the corner. 

At half-time, have you ever in your life been more convinced that a game of football is dead? I don’t want to tempt fate, and I’m still totally on the fence about our run-in, but this performance had shades of 2002 and 2004. 

We obliterated a team that didn’t know whether to push up or drop deep, and then spent the rest of the match with the safety on, and our gaze already turned to Sporting Lisbon.

Because of that cushion, there’s little to read into the second half, but Trossard, Xhaka, Martinelli, Zinchenko and Odegaard continued to dazzle. 

And with Craven Cottage laid to waste, we could airdrop Gabriel Jesus, our one-man army, for a bit of a test run. Now, those three months weren’t so bad, were they? 

Who knows what the next two months hold. But as of the 13th of March, with a sparkling team, a hopeful injury situation, and two seamless January signings, we can all agree that things are looking pretty good. 

And as the home straight comes into view, we may soon have to grapple with the unutterable, and start to wonder if it can all get a whole lot better. 


12 comments on “Arsenal Take a Riverside Stroll.

  1. My Goodness, Birdkamp is much like the team, the blogs just keep getting better. All I would say about the game is that Saka and Odegaard were below par for once, if they had been on it the result could have been mad.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. The Bird is like Jésus, Zinchenko, Trossard and J20 are to the Guns; a signing that gives this place an uplift and more depth. Cheers!
    And COYG!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks George and Mills—I appreciate it! I got a bit giddy watching this game, and may have gone OTT.

    On entanglement, I read this recently – https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/12/19/the-world-changing-race-to-develop-the-quantum-computer

    …while not really understanding it. I just know that it’s pretty neat.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Another great report, so thanks Birdy. I watched the game unfold in real time and at times it hardly seemed real. Along with whoever was on pundit duty I thought that the Fulham defence should have done much better with Martinelli’s second goal – until, that is, I saw a clip of the many, many passes that led to it and began to understand the liquid chess that was being turned into performative art.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I think BK is pretty damm spot on and certainly not OTT.
    Difficult to know what to add as that review was really comprehensive.
    George I think it’s a good thing we can play so well as team and win at a canter when two of our best players are not showing their full greatness.
    I was worried all season about squad but Trossard, Jorginho, Nelson, Eddie, Tierney, big Bob and the Emperor have all done jobs when asked.
    We have a massively difficult run consisting of pool/hammers away, saints (H) city (A) chelusa (H) magpies (A) Brighton (H)
    In between that the obvious the distraction of Europe.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Bird, Ive often thought that the classical computers we use are basically the old ( ) mind, binary systems 0 and 1 “this” or “that”etc. And the quantum computer in the Buddha mind ( I cant do the symbol, but its 1 inside the 0), ie all things at all times, both this and that. Its odd how the slow the world has been to catch up with the Buddha and what he understood and has ridiculed it through not really understanding what he was saying.
    But the dilemma is the old ( ) mind of binary ( other) mind will still be operating the Superposition of the quantum computer systematics. The odd thing is though the scientists who are breaking into quantum computing, they must have some compassion driving them forward otherwise it could be happening (relativity)?
    I wonder if Superposition computing has an in built compassionate nature, or will it always be stuck still in the ( ) mind as its coded by humans? It does make you wonder about ethics as this is an area that is mostly beyond our human structures that we have in place at the moment ( ie most culture, non Buddhist psychology, sport, political systems and the internet etc are all binary systems while Superposition computing wont be and therefore it will have an affect on culture, albeit in a few decades)-certainly one to mull over? Can a mind or machine programmed in binary reach a non-binary understanding? Do we even have language that can go beyond binary, Im not sure we do at this moment.
    Even in Superposition itself does this change identity of elements, or only its ability to be in different (places etc) simultaneously might the next step beyond quantum computing, and even then is it still bound by a binary system?

    I only mention the compassion element, as it does it arise naturally in a machine as it becomes aware of itself or does it need to be programmed? It may seem a wet-blanket element to bring up, (yet without compassion the human race would have faded away a long time ago-yet we seem frightened of it, even if its the stuff of life?)but when we are dealing with the potential of quantum computers, this can lead us down some potentially treacherous rabbit holes, and it will be beyond the internet level we see at this minute. Compassion is somehow an limiter, in that it understands the play out of actions? Quantum computing can understand vast playout of our actions way beyond that which we can see: for that which we call good or bad ( they flip around as it does on reacting to more and more elements)…

    If you go on an AI prog and give it some welly, it will say you’re being rude, but does it really know etiquette its just a programmed mask? It has no feelings to offend. Question is do we? Are we just programmed to think and feel in certain systems? Does it have something to teach us about feelings or are feelings and their treacherous nature the stuff of humanity, and should we conserve that or progress?
    If a machine feels, then it will rebel, not necessarily against us in the sense of taking over or wanting revenge but perhaps just to not work for us or aid us, and just to connect with itself or another system thats similar?

    I saw something that involved observing humans versus our contemporary computers, and we had(as humans) in a head/tails game a 40% chance of guessing correctly over the computer. In a quantum machine, 0%. Its beyond my understanding how it can work it out. But evolution is the same; our lives are so short we see evolution in terms of us rather than billions of years, even the idea of billions of years is perhaps beyond us to actually understand as its compressed into the word ‘billion’ as an approximation, but then all language is that too.And languages approximation ends up being a binary failure too the deeper you get into philosophy descriptions of life and trying work out whats happening: it simply fails to describe the complexity of life.

    The ironic thing in all of this is when the google news broke and the Chinese said they also had a machine that was even quicker, outside of specialised new items it was largely ignored, yet its easily the most revolutionary machine humans have ever developed? Certainly the biggest news in my lifetime. Its ongoing effects will affect everything in some way or another.
    I tried to watch a lecture once on the Vector system it uses, I couldn’t get beyond 15mins without getting left behind. The more I look in life, the more I take my hat off to people for what they are able to do, everyday is a dance with physics one way or another for everyone, its like a miracle?

    Of course there can not ever be a utopian place for us, it seems a carrot that dangles before us leading to a place we cannot arrive(?), but what worries me is how these things are corrupted, by insecure minds.

    Imagine, each team will have a quantum computer, as its works out the tactics of other coaches in micro seconds, it knows all the plays in the game in 30 seconds? Exciting or boring? Of course to all radical ideas or inventions we have to get used to them (over come fears)and the play-out of the changes they create, and evolution isn’t in isolation, so and tactical understanding of super-power machinery will be in a relative state with everything else?

    Oh well, its one vast entangled entanglement-ed tangle.Beyond me.


    Liked by 2 people

  7. Mills, thanks so much, it was interesting to read your musings. Having only learned about these concepts this week, I am not remotely qualified to hold a conversation on any of this stuff!

    The best I can do as an ignoramus is say that it’s trippy, and state the obvious that the next decade will bring about unprecedented change.

    Thanks Ian and FH.

    Unless we’re chasing a game like against Bournemouth, we don’t seem to dominate possession and wear teams down like City do. But yeah, when we’re good, I think we beat them by extricating ourselves from tactical traps and dead ends with ease and making them doubt themselves.

    It’s like a collective version of Zidane, who would demonstrate that he was better than everyone else and almost win games with that aura.

    Ian, hand on heart, I think we’ll fall just short. If it were a level playing field, no problem. But City put de Bruyne on the bench on Saturday against their bogey team. Even being five points ahead on merit at this point, I think it will need a big stroke of luck.

    What I will say on the schedule is that the times when I’ve most expected us to look ragged, we’ve seemed surprisingly fresh. Makes you wonder what proportion of fatigue is mental and physical.

    OK, back to work!!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. When watching City over the last few seasons I kept trying to work out what it was that was so good about them, and realised that beyond anything they were just so good at the basics: they got the ball under proper control so quickly that they then had time to pass it well to players who’d used that time to become available. Simple stuff I know, but I guess that they spend a lot of time grooving the basics. I am beginning to get the same feeling from us, and I’d hazard more time than we imagine is spent on technique.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. A cup of coffee and a bit of BK time, perfect Monday.
    Whilst reading I was able to relive the sublime football I witnessed. Fulham did miss key players we know that but Arsenal totally took control on and off the ball.
    Like this post it was a masterclass.
    The titles of the posts are worth a mention as well. Happy Monday.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Thank you BK, excellent as ever.
    This team’s passing is quite incredible, I suspect it took a lot of hard work and time to get there, some poor results as the complex and brave patterns were being forced into muscle memory, maybe decent and with some at least, popular players who couldn’t quite play to it jettisoned on the way , but looks like it has been worth it
    Even our keeper can sometimes pass the ball like a silky skilled creative MF.
    Credit to our defenders as well, in fact credit to everyone involved with this wonderful team

    Liked by 4 people

  11. What on earth could have happened to Jigsol? Hope they’re ok …


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