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An update!

I ACTUALLY thought it had been far longer than three and a bit months since I last posted. Why did I stop? Hard to say exactly . Life has been busy but probably not too busy to sneak in the odd post here or there. One thing I’ve never liked doing is posting match reports when I haven’t properly been able to focus on the game. Boys aged 4, 2 and 10 months certainly increase that possibility.

But I’ve still been watching a fair bit of the time.

Writing this in advance of the Burnley game, I think we’re reasonably positioned in the league table though facing an uphill task to win it. Clearly, the league is in Chelsea’s hands. But there isn’t a huge amount you can do about a team taking 52 out of 63 points. The good news, I suppose, is that they’ve just been on an unbelievable run and are perhaps due a little down turn. Not the most sophisticated argue I grant you but not inconceivable either. And if they do suffer one, we’re still, at time of writing, not that far off them.

Them aside, it is mighty tight but we need to go on a mighty run. I think 84 points will be the absolute minimum required to win the league. And that requires 13 wins, 1 draw and 3 defeats or a similar combination. It’s quite an ask and no guarantee of success.

Personnel wise I think we look so-so. Key for me is that the central midfield still isn’t really resolved. If I’m honest, there is a part of me that wonders if Xhaka was a 20 year old who’d come through the ranks he’d be considered too raw and error prone for first team action. I do, actually like him as a player. He just lacks the discipline right now to be running a title winning midfield. But that could change.

86 Responses to “An update!”

  1. MDP says:

    Guess we should get through tonight first. Don’t like the sound of this artificial pitch, reminds me of those dodgy games against Luton Town back in the 80′s.

  2. PD says:

    Comfortable enough in the end despite the best efforts of David ‘calm presence’ Ospina. I can’t seriously believe there are people who think he’s world class. He isn’t remotely close.

    Lot of work to do before Liverpool.

  3. MDP says:

    Have to agree. I’ve been sucked in a few times by some great saves by Ospina but he’s proven he’s just another Fabianski. Some terrible decisions last night. Not remotely world class.

    The Liverpool game will be huge, I’d take a draw now.

  4. Elvis says:

    I’m afraid I don’t agree that the Liverpool game will be ‘huge’. It is next to irrelevant for me. Neither club is going to win anything apart from the Fourth Place Trophy and, after 13 years of competing for that, I can’t be bothered anymore. Meh 05. Meh 06. Meh 07. Meh 08. Meh 09. Meh 10. Meh 11. Meh 12. Meh 13. Meh 14. Meh 15. Meh 16. And now Meh 17.

    My interest in Arsenal 2016-17 now ends with the FA Cup. And with a likely semi-final line up of Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea and Spurs it’s clear who are the rank outsiders.

  5. MDP says:

    I know what your saying Elvis, my interest has waned and I’m only really bothered in the FA Cup from a fans perspective. There’s no real thrill or buzz about watching Arsenal in the league or CL, it’s not even entertaining football.

    But, taking a step back, top four is still in the best interests of the clubs future whether it’s under new management next season or Arsene doing the same thing over and over again. I know some will say that top four would just be an excuse to re-new Arsene’s contract but finishing outside the top four will only make things worse. Still think we’ll struggle mind you.

  6. PD says:

    It’s really hard to get excited about this game. I’d agree with MDP, top 4 is important but then you think if we go out of it, would it really be the end of the world ? In all honesty, at this moment Liverpool & Arsenal look the most likely of the top 6 to drop out of the CL spots so this game may well be irrelevant anyway.
    Arsene seems more determined to stay now after his post-Bayern wobble but it’s really hard to see what could happen between now & the end of the season to make that a good decision. An FA Cup win & a strong finish in the league to stay in the top 4 – would that make any difference ? Not to me anyway.
    And so we carry on in this endless loop….how depressing is it to think of next November being back in the situation again where the AKBs are spouting the ‘I can’t believe you’re giving up on the league when we’re x points behind with x games left to play, f**k off & support the Totts’ etc etc….

  7. Delve 348 says:

    On the bright side, the BBC is reporting that burglars have broken into John Terry’s mansion.

  8. PD says:

    The positive from today is we now know Arsene’s red line. Bottle it on a regular basis ? Fine. Don’t improve or develop as a player ? Fine. Don’t work hard enough ? Fine. Show your frustration with your colleagues bottlng it or not working hard enough ? I don’t care if you’re our best (& hardest working) player, I’m going to show you who’s boss. You’re dropped mate.
    Beyond pathetic Arsene. Lost a huge amount of respect for you today.
    Making a bad decision is one thing. Making a personally motivated one at the club’s expense is completely unacceptable. Shame on you.

    Just to be clear; pretty sure we’d have lost anyway. I’m not angry cos I think the decision cost us the game, I’m angry because it sums up everything that is wrong with the club.

  9. Delve 348 says:

    Arsene interview prediction: “We played well in the first half…”

  10. Delve 348 says:

    Ha ha! He actually did say, “My team played well!”

    Cue the board enthusiastically bursting into applause like those North Korean military clones who smile and gaze adoringly at Kim Jong-un.

    Rinse and repeat…

  11. Elvis says:

    Apparently it was the referee Delve.

    If I follow Arsene’s logic, had we been given a better referee, we would be in the quarter final this morning. There’s something fishy about the fact that every time Arsenal get to the last 32, Arsenal get slaughtered by teams like Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Monaco who are clearly inferior. It must be a UEFA conspiracy.

  12. PD says:

    Bah…didn’t even watch. Didn’t watch Liverpool game either.
    For a man who claims to love Arsenal as much as he does, he’s damaging the club more & more every day by not announcing he’s leaving.

    For the love of God Arsene, please please just go.

  13. Delve 348 says:

    Life was so much brighter before we splashed out £33 million on defensive midfielder Granit Xhaka, when Mikel Arteta was Captain.

  14. MDP says:

    That doesn’t really desereve a response Delve but football was last bright at Arsenal when the likes of Henry, Vieira and Pires graced the park. It’s been a frustratingly, infuriating spiral rightfully named ‘groundhog day’ ever since and Arteta (despite being really, really nice and a model pro) was a huge part of that era i’m afraid.

  15. MDP says:

    I really can’t believe I’m saying this but is it time to give in (hypothetically speaking) to the money of an owner like Usmanov*? I say this because I don’t think Wenger is the only issue here. I also think Stan Kroenke, Ivan Gazidis and maybe the rest of the board are integral to the issue and I’m not convinced we’ll move forward without change throughout the club. It’s because of the board that Arsene pretty much can dictate his own future. Is Stan sitting happily in the U.S, not giving a toss about Arsenal, drawing his annual dividend paid directly from the fans pockets anymore grotesque than what’s happened at Manchester City at board level?

    I’m fiercely proud of what Arsenal have achieved in my lifetime initially under GG and then initially under Wenger. It was well and truly earned by intelligence, skill, grit and hard work over a long period of time. I’ve been truly narked when Chelsea and City etc have got in on the act when you don’t feel they’ve put in the same time and effort to get to the top. I always hoped Arsenal could be the club that did things the right way working with the money they’ve earned and still win silverware. I guess part of that bubble burst after I left the ground on my first visit to the Emirates and was confronted with rows and rows of VIP mercedes in the streets. I started to see that the Emirates was not about the real football fan anymore but making as much money as possible. Then ticket prices went through the roof! That was the time I made the decision to radically reduce the number of games I attended.

    Leicester took the dream last season of taking on the cash rich clubs yet they’re still owned by a billionaire owner. Have Arsenal and football in general already sold its soul? Am I just clinging on to this ideology that Arsenal are somehow more pure than Chelsea or City? With the Chinese league awash with cash, is football only going in one direction?

    I’m not yet really clear in my mind on the above but I do genuinely believe that Arsenal have physically earned their place at the top end of the English game over the last 100 or so years. But, I’m beginning to question whether good morality has a place in football these days and maybe I should view things differently. Should we be sitting back, wildly splash the cash and enjoy the best players football has to offer even if it’s against our out-of-date principals.

    To make it clear, I’m not eradicating Wenger of any blame and I now firmly believe it’s time for him to respectfully step down. I just think silent Stan and Gazidis will continue to hold us back from challenging the likes of Barca or Real.

    *It does feel so wrong saying this but just posing the question… discuss…!

  16. PD says:

    For fuck sake, it’s depressing enough without having this pointless, ridiculous argument again. Nothing sums up the last ten years more than Mikel Arteta as Arsenal captain. The height of mediocrity.

  17. Delve 348 says:

    Granit Xhaka. The definition of a waste of money. £33 million. How much per red card and conceded penalty is that? He has all the professionalism and intelligence of Paul Gascoigne. Yet he was hailed and hyped as the DM missing link who would finally enable Arsenal to storm to the title.

  18. MDP says:

    Pointless discussion comparing these two players. I’m not knocking Arteta the player, he was intelligent, very decent technically and a good influence around the club. But, playing him in the defensive position in front of the back 4 epitomised the weak underbelly that has defined the frustration of the last 10+ years. In time Xhaka could well fall in to the same category as Arteta in that he’s not suited to the physicality of the holding role. He’s shown flashes of his passing ability and potential but pointless judging and comparing someone only months into their Arsenal career.

  19. King Henry says:

    Pep Guardiola says his first season at Manchester City will be a failure if he does not win a trophy.

    The kind of thing we have not heard in an Arsenal press conference for over a decade, despite the manager being the highest paid in Europe.

    This is the reason Arsenal should thank Arsene Wenger for 21 years of loyal service, give him a solid gold cannon for his mantelpiece, and hire a new manager this summer.

  20. MDP says:

    Best possible draw in the cup for me. Didn’t want Spurs really, especially the way we’ve been playing. On a good day Arsenal can compete against City. Avoid Chelsea at all costs after what they did to us. Probably the most exciting FA Cup in years.

  21. PD says:

    Agreed. Perfect. I don’t fancy us against any of the other 3.
    Mourinho is out & hopefully Chelsea hammer the Totts. Arsene losing at Wembley to Conte’s Chelsea or to Guardiola I can handle.

  22. King Henry says:

    Beat Man City by hook or by crook. Then pull out a season-best performance to thrash a sorry Spurs in the final. Then retire a legend.

  23. MDP says:

    They’re just not functioning as a football team. Can’t defend, no leadership, no balance, no ideas. Poor, poor, poor.

    Too easy for an average team like WBA to target and exploit the obvious weaknesses and give themselves a chance. Could have been 4, 5 or 6 today.

    Not a chance of finishing top four. Chelsea, Spurs, United and City are all better than us.

    Fasten your seat belts this ain’t going to be pretty!

  24. PD says:

    Turned it off at 2-1. It would be easy to point at individuals – Ramsey for the first goal & Ospina for the second. (the ‘we have two world class goalkeepers’ brigade are just an embarrassment)
    But these are Arsene’s players: He bought them, trains them, prepares them.
    Just not good enough in any way. Awful defensively and so, so boring to watch.

  25. slc gunner says:

    It’s hard to care right now or know what to wish for. We’re not a CL team, should we just go for the Europa League instead. But Everton are now on our heals there and playing better, so on current form, we would not even make that. The benefits of the CL: attracting players and the 30-40m of course. But that 30-40m hasn’t been helping. Defensively, we’re a shambles, conceding 2 goals per game on average since the turn of the year. Every time WBA attacked, you feared the worst.
    From optimistic beginnings this season (well at the end of the transfer window), having the deepest squad we’ve supposedly ever had, this is the worst season that I can remember. Give me Eboue, Song, Diaby, Denilson, Bendtner over what we are seeing right now.

  26. PD says:

    Normally itching for some Arsenal action when the interlull is over. Dreading it this time.
    Seems pretty clear now Arsene is signing again, or more likely has signed. Doesn’t it tell him & the Board something that they’re so desperate to hang on for the ‘right time’ to announce he’s staying ? Just an absolute embarrassment.

  27. MDP says:

    If they do announce Arsene extending his contract after the next victory it will be more than embarrassing. It will show how little respect they have for the fans. How they think we’re that fickle and lacking in intelligence that a few positive results will make everything alright.

  28. PD says:

    Is this season ever going to end ?? I can’t even get any enjoyment from a hugely improved performance yesterday. ( albeit it just improved from woeful to half decent)
    And to cap it all off, Chelsea go & a lose to give the Totts a sniff.
    Sometimes I think life would be easier with no football !

  29. MDP says:

    Yeah, I tuned in to what has become the Arsenal soap opera and there really is little to enjoy. I still marvel at how ridiculously hard Alexis works even if it wasn’t his best day in an Arsenal shirt, I’d give him a 7 or 8 just for sheer effort, he was everywhere. I also still have so much time for Mustafi, he has so much desire and the potential for leadership but he needs to be coached in the art of positional discipline, he always looks a bit maverick. Monreal also looked more like his old self.

    I see Gazidis has broken his silence with the ‘Catalyst for change’ comments. It’s nice to have some acknowledgement from him but we all know you can take it with a pinch of salt. Please let there be some sort of plan being hatched for the next chapter that isn’t just about lining the owners pockets.

  30. slc gunner says:

    PD: Improved I would say, but not hugely. We still looked incredibly vulnerable anytime City attacked. We probably looked better after City scored each time, because they took their foot off the pedal a little. But after we equalized, they put the foot down again. We were better in the 2nd half defensively, but still not wonderful I would say. And let’s not forget: while this City side is decent going forward, they are also a defensive shambles and we really did not test them as much as we should have.
    We were a mess for both goals. The 1st one was a simply ball through the middle. Mustafi out of position and Kos/Bellerin too slow to react to cover. Both Coquelin and Ozil parted the seas for De Bruyne on the 2nd.
    Our midfield is my biggest concern. It’s sad to say, but we have missed Cazorla a lot. We shouldn’t be missing him and I have often stated that he may be a luxury in games where we need to defend more. Both all the partnerships that have been tried have failed to convince. Whoever is manager next season will need to address this area.

  31. MDP says:

    SLC, I’ve got concerns all over the pitch (midfield seems a drop in the ocean) but one of the biggest things for me is coaching which is why I think Wenger’s time should be up. Defence has always been Wenger’s weakness and I think we need a coach that can put that right, first and foremost, whatever it takes. You only have to look at the success of Chelsea this season. The moment you get that stability with defence and defensive midfield, coupled with strong on field leadership, I think you have something to build from. Arsenal are all over the place at the moment and look ridiculously vulnerable for a team that should be part of Europe’s elite. The balance of the side has looked wrong for some time so it really is back to the drawing board with perhaps our biggest summer clear out on the cards ever.

    I just don’t see how a future with Wenger can put things back together right now. If Alexis moves on the job is even more huge. How can a team in such disarray and out of Europe attract the quality of player we need. It has to be a fresh start and a real statement of intent.

  32. MDP says:

    Just watched this on Rocastle/Wright:

    Totally awesome watch, thoroughly recommend!

  33. slc gunner says:

    You’re right MDP. The whole defensive structure is a mess. Individual mistakes and lack of collective defending. The number of goals conceded start since Jan 1 is astounding.

  34. PD says:

    A win is a win.
    Man City & Liverpool results went our way too.

    Is it sad that I was less interested in our score than in Chelsea & the Totts ?
    Would kill me if the Totts won it. The sad thing is – regardless of what happens this season – I can’t see how we will win the league again before they will under both current managers.

  35. MDP says:

    Missed the game and yet to watch the highlights but sounds like a much improved performance, some key players upping their game and a strong second half finish. A win and leap frogging Utd feels good as top 4 surprisingly seems back in our own hands. We’ve got a long way to go but credits due where credits due but this is just the start.

    I have to say despite a lot of interest in the Arsenal game I was also preoccupied with scorelines elsewhere which were positive from the start. Chelsea are certainly the lesser of two evils by some distance but it still feels so wrong wanting them to win which is really quite loathsome. We just have to hope that Tottenham always fall short and again miss out on more great opportunities for silverware. Their new stadium will also play a part in their form if initially they have to play games elsewhere and then you have the turbulance of moving into a new home. Will their best players hang around if silverware isn’t forthcoming? I see them on a knife’s edge and the sad thing is, Arsenal should be the side keeping them at arms length. Yet, we’re having to leave it to other sides to do that dirty work for us. The manager and the board seem to overlook what this side of the game means to the fans!

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