03 December 2021

Man U 3-2 Arsenal: Ratings & MOTM Poll Results

760 of us spared Elneny, Partey, and Aubameyang none of their scorn, with each man receiving terrible scores. Auba "led" the line with a paltry 2.54, low enough to suggest that a lot of us are either (a)irrationally angry, (b) spiteful, (c) blaming him for a poor showing, or (d) some combination of all three. I know that I'm feeling all three. We'll have to have a further inquest into Aubemayang but also Partey, who has been an enigma at best. However, forests and trees and so on. It was a disappointing result considering our overall effort. But for a few moments here and there, we might have come away with the result we craved. No time to waste looking backward, though. We have to prepare for a trip to Everton on Monday. With that, then, here are our poll results...

02 December 2021

Man U 3-2 Arsenal: Vote for Player Ratings & MOTM!

Auba putting that golden chance straight at de Gea...
It looked like an early goal from Emile Smith-Rowe might pave the way for a famous victory at Old Trafford, but those devils equalised just before halftime through Fernandes. An equaliser from Ødegaard was then cancelled out by Ronaldo's 800th career goal, a total to which he added after Ødegaard's rash challenge brought Fred down in the box, and Ronaldo put the pen straight up the middle. It was topsy-turvy as both sides sensed the other's weaknesses. Aubameyang squandered a golden but tricky chance to half-volley home from six yards out, but de Gea smothered it. This will hardly resolve nagging questions about Aubameyang, to put it mildly. It was a bit of back and forth, and, aside from those few moments when we switched off, one might say we were even the better side—but that doesn't mean that we deserved better. As encouraging as it was to see us give as good as we got, if not better, the result shows us who we are: a squad still very much making its way. Well, let's get to the poll to rate the lads!

01 December 2021

All the stars align for Arsenal...what could possibly go wrong?

Ahead of our trip to Old Trafford, almost all of the news is coming up Arsenal: new interim-to-the-interim manager Ralf Rangnick will not yet be at the wheel, thanks in so small part to Brexit (see? and you thought Brexit was bad!), meaning that the current interim manager, Michael Carrick, will be. Shkrodan Mustafi—er, Harry Maguire—is fit and available. Varane, Pogba, and Cavani are probably unavailable. We haven't lost at Old Trafford in our last three trips and sport a not-too-shabby record 2W, 4D, 4L in our last ten. They're overconfident after a 1-1 draw away to Chelsea. Yes, indeed, it's all starting to feel like it's in the bag. What would possiblye go wrong? Possibly go wrong. Ha. That's the first thing that's ever gone wrong.

29 November 2021

Rivals' Roundup, Matchday 13: Waiting for the other shoe to drop?

After another week in which just about every result seemed to go our way, it's starting to feel a little bit eerie. I'm not even going to list off the positive trends for fear of banjanxing the whole kit and caboodle. Instead, let's just savor the delicious taste of (most of) our rivals dropping points for another week. It's almost enough to make one believe that we have a chance at approaching something in the vicinity of relevance at some point in the not-too-far-off future, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Instead, let's just see what's what among those who stand between us and a fourth-place finish.

28 November 2021

Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle: Ratings & MOTM Poll Results

 With a grand total of 578 votes, 36% selected Bukayo Saka as our MOTM against Newcastle, with 29% preferring Tomiyasu (whom we actually rated higher). The knives were out for Aubameyang, whom we rated an ugly 4.31 after a poor all-around performance capped by that ignominious miss. We'll have to examine Aubameyang's form, role, and future at some point soon. For now, though, let's just bask in the glow of a tidy win...

27 November 2021

Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle: Vote for Player Ratings & MOTM!

We waltzed to a pretty comfortable victory here, dominating possession and creating loads of chances, but we had to wait until the 56th minute to find the back of the net, with Saka nicking into the box to finish neatly from a Tavares pass. Ten minutes later, it was Gabriel Martinelli finishing beautifully, scoring from Tomiyasu's brilliant lob with a wonderful half volley. 66% possession and 23 shots taken, but I suppose some naysayers will point to our xG of 3.04 and wonder what went wrong. Still, it was a bit of a cakewalk and welcome respite after last week's drubbing. Without further ado, then, let's get to the poll!

26 November 2021

Resistable Force, Meet Movable Object.

Newcastle come to the Emirates on a positively Mancunian run of form (the red kind, not the blue), having lost three of their last six, and they've joined the cool clubs' club of manager sackings. Whether new manager Eddie Howe can convince Toon to stop shipping goals like they're promotional giveaways at a charity auction will be one of the questions of the day. Key to Howe's strategy, surely, will be to let Arsenal be Arsenal, which is to say, "continue being about as toothless going forward as an octogenarian former boxer." Only six clubs have scored fewer goals than we have. To have still managed to take 20 points while scoring just 13 goals in 12 matches is a strange kind of wizardry. No club has conceded more goals than Newcastle. Watching this match could end up like an episode of the Keystone Kops.

22 November 2021

Rivals Roundup, Matchday 12: in which Arsenal are all but relegated already...

Sadio Mane, who should have been sent off...
After a heady Saturday that saw just about every result go our way, we went into Anfield out the back of a ten match unbeaten streak as if this would somehow handicap the score. One thing's clear: the top three spots are all but sewn up, and the race for fourth and fifth are a complete crapshoot. Six, maybe seven clubs can stake legitimate claims (of varying degrees of legimitacy, it must be mentioned). A few managerial shakeups continue a trend that might just rival vagina-scented candles or humorous social-distancing themed t-shirts as one of the top trends of 2021. As with any weekend, exisential ennui will probably be even more persistent than the scuzz that accumulates in the lid of your reusable coffee mug's lid. So it goes. Let's get to it.

16 November 2021

MIchael Oliver, we hardly knew ye...

Oh, Michael. Michael, Michael, Michael. Where did our paths depart? Where and when did we go astray? It seems on one hand like just yesterday you were sending Di Maria off as we won at Old Trafford to advance to the semifinal before somehow squeaking past Tim Sherwood's Aston Villa side by a narrow, bum-clenching 4-0 scoreline. 

With that as our backdrop, how could any other encounter feel like like anything besides rainbows, unicorns, and lollipops? Such was the reaction of many a Gooner (well, mainly, me, myself and I—so that's three of us, at least). However, to be honest, Olllie—can I call you Ollie? It feels familiar, fitting, even—you've not done us quite so well in recent memory. What gives?

09 November 2021

Maybe Arsenal should have returned the ball to Watford...

One side was full of thuggery and poor sportsmanship. T'other 'twas pure as driven snow. There's to be no confusin' now as the one side, the one side that did its level best to honor the letter and spirit of every law, rule, regulation, and custom be  it written and unwritten was hard done by in the end as their commitment to fair play. There's just no justice in the world, none I say. Why, I remember a day when you could look a man straight in the eye, give his hand a firm shake, and know you'd struck a deal as unbreakable as oak. These days, I don't know what to make of this topsy-turvy world. Up is down, down is up. It's enough to make one lose faith. And yet we don't. We bravely soldier on, knowing that tomorrow is a new day. So it must be for the brave, indefatigable souls at Watford.

08 November 2021

Arsenal 1-0 Watford: Player Ratings & MOTM Poll Results

Ten matches undefeated. Seven clean sheets. Four wins in a row. Three consecutive clean sheets. It's getting hard to resist feelings of unbridled optimism now that we've risen to fifth so quickly after flirting with being among the bottom three. Hell, if we defeat Liverpool by a paltry 11 goals, we'll overtake them on goal difference. Stranger things have happened. Seriously, though, we should remind ourselves that form is temporary, and that trip to Anfield after the international break looms large as our first stern test since that disastrous start to the season. Before we look two weeks into the future, let's allow ourselves just a little more time to savor the moment we inhabit now.  Here, then, without further ado, are the results of our post-match ratings poll!

Rivals' Roundup, Matchday 11: closer to 2nd to 8th...

Well, well, well. What a nearly perfect set of results for those of us who have the good taste and refinement to support a proper club. Just about the only thing that didn't go our way is that Leeds couldn't take all three against Leicester. Hell, we even get to enjoy the fact that Jose Mourinho's Roma side squandered a 1-2 lead to lose 3-2 to Serie A's equivalent of Watford, not that I'm a spiteful, vindictive curmudgeon who continues to detest Mourinho to the point of checking Roma's results for a dose of
schadenfreude. Let's bring it back home and look at what's what this weekend.

07 November 2021

Arsenal 1-0 Watford: Vote for Player Ratings & MOTM!

Tony Pulis's Stoke were up to their old tricks on Sunday, kicking out at, maiming, and gouging Arsenal left and right...oh, wait. It was Watford. Kevin Friend was awfully generous to the visitors, calling 19 fouls while issuing just three yellow cards before finally sending Kucka off in the 89th minute. By contrast, Arsenal committed just six fouls but had four players booked. It's a good thing that Emile Smith-Rowe found the back of the net, pouncing on a ball after Lionel Messi--er, Ben White, actually--was dispossessed after a slaloming run through the heart of the Watford defense. We should have had more, what with Aubameyang fluffing a pen straight at Foster and then, from an offside position, tapping in an Ødegaard cross/shot that looked to be going in anyway. Whatevs. It's another three points, a fourth straight win, and tenth undefeated. We now sit fifth in the Prem. Not bad. With that, lets' get to the player-ratings poll!

03 November 2021

How much of a concern is Conte?

So. Tottenham have hired a world-class manager (again). He's the kind who demands massive investment to upgrade the squad (again). He's apparently been promised this massive investment (again). He has a track record of short-term success (again). With the confirmation that Antonio Conte will take the reigns over at Tottenham, we'd be remiss if we didn't take a cold, hard look at what this means. After all, we ourselves are hardly shoo-ins for a top four position, and with ingenues like West Ham and Brighton doing their best Cinderella impersonations, there's not much room for those of us who aspire to finish within a furlong or four of Chelsea, Liverpool, and Man City. Just how much will Conte improve our noisome neighbors? One doesn't have to climb into a rubbish bin to understand rubbish, but, in this case, exceptions must be made.

01 November 2021

Rivals' Roundup, Matchday 10: thank f*ck we're up to 6th.

Aannnnnnnnd, we're back. After last week's roundup received a reaction generally more positive than that which greets Nuno after each Spurs match, I'm pleased to announce that this roundup doesn't include just about every Prem club plus a few in the Championship as well, Such are the benefits of climbing the table. At any rate, we now have "only" seven clubs to look at (although, to be realistic, we may have to consider dropping a few from the top of the table if only because of your correspondent's crippling carpal tunnel syndrome). Off we go!

31 October 2021

Leicester 0-2 Arsenal: Post-Match Ratings & MOTM

After a confident if not entirely commanding performance, it's starting to look and feel like Arteta's project is taking shape. Although Leicester dominated the second half, created numerous chances, and were denied by several vital Ramsdalian saves, we came away with all three points and now find ourselves level with Manchester United and just three points from Manchester City. The season isn't even one-third over, though, so let's not get too worked up just yet. The season is long, and rough patches are almost inevitable. Still, the signs are encouraging. It's not easy to go into King Power, even less so with such a young squad, but we showed no fear. For now, let's enjoy where things stand without blowing them out of proportion. Here, then, with 752 votes votes, are the results of the post-match ratings poll!

30 October 2021

Leicester 0-2 Arsenal: Vote for Player Ratings & MOTM!

Gabriel headed a dart past Smeichel from a Saka corner early on, and Emile Smith-Rowe pounced on a ball in the box to make it 0-2 before the 20th minute. From there, Arsenal had to defend tenaciously with Ramsdale coming up with save after vital save. Leicester had 65% possession but nothing to show for it. After several wins against overmatched opponents, we can point to this result and clean sheet as a more-encouraging sign of our mettle and ambition.

Click the link below to open a Google Form to cast your ballot. For a bit of calibration, consider a six to mean "put in a decent shift without really impressing or damaging either way", ten to mean "did every single thing right and possibly shortened the Insulate Britain protests", and zero to mean "scored several own-goals after which he tore off his shirt to reveal a 'Tot 'num 4 EVA' halter top".

Once we have a chance to process the results, I'll post a graphic to show how our lads fared. Remember: this is a deeply and thoroughly scientific and sociological process that far exceeds most peer-reviewed journals, so, for the love of all that is holy, don't throw a spanner in the works by voting all 10s across the board. At a bare minimum, thrown in the occasional six or seven to create the appearance of objectivity.

Here is the link to the poll!

29 October 2021

Just what is the best result for Arsenal come Saturday?

I ask not about Leiceser. I'm pretty sure we're hoping for a confident victory to make it seven in a row undefeated in the Prem and nine overall, including those two League Cup victories. Yes, there are growing signs of progress, even of optimism, but I'm here to suggest that the fixture with the most potential impact on our campaign doesn't even involve us at all. Nope, it's all about Tottenham vs. Manchester United. And I'm not referring points or position. While dropped points for one or both would help us in the short term, the real impact is further-reaching. The real question we need an answer to is this: what result will keep Solskjær and Santo at the ol' wheel? After all, for their rivals, i.e. us, each manager is the gift that keeps on giving, and we just don't want to kill the goose that laid the golden egg...yet (I know how we all love mixed metaphors).

28 October 2021

18 years ago today, Cesc Fàbregas made his Arsenal debut!

When Cesc Fàbregas made his Arsenal debut, there were clear signs of the effervescent, scintillating talent he had and the amazing player he would soon become. Aged just 16 years, 177 days, he became the youngest player to ever start for Arsenal, doing so in a League Cup tie against Rotherham United (which we won on penalties, 9-8, after finishing in a 1-1 draw. As the years went on, Fàbregas would go on to thrill and amaze Gooners with his passing, play, and leadership. It seemed inevitable that he would go on to become an Arsenal legend and that he, with a squad being built around him, he would lead us to Prem titles and possibly even Champions League glory. So why do I despise him so?

27 October 2021

Arsenal 2-0 Leeds: Post-Match Ratings Summary and MOTM

It looks like Arteta's squad selection worked out really well, with most of the rotated-in players earning high marks for their efforts. Goals from Chambers and Nketiah, strong keeping from Leno, and solid effort from Holding were all trumped by Maitland-Niles's outstanding all-around effort. It's worth noting that Bielsa selected a squad that was just about as strong as it could be, given his injury crisis. They did start strong but couldn't match our effort, tactics, and chemistry. We'll have to wait until Saturday's draw to find out who we'll face in the quarterfinal. Until then, let's savor the result!

26 October 2021

Arsenal 2-0 Leeds: Vote for Player Ratings & MOTM!

After a dicey first half in a which a stronger-than-expected Leeds side looked to take an early lead, our lads found their way through to the League Cup quarterfinal courtesy of a bundled goal from Calum Chambers, who scored from his first touch just 23 seconds after being subbed on; and from Eddie Nketiah, who chipped the Leeds keeper, chased it down, and scuffed home. It wasn't always pretty, but the only stat that counts is the number of shots that find their way to the back of the net. We'll have to wait 'til Saturday's draw to learn who we'll face in the quarterfinal; for now, let's rate 'em and see where the chips fall...

25 October 2021

League Cup Preview: Time to Lay Waste to Leeds...

Fresh off a fine display against Aston Villa on Friday, we turn around to host Leeds on Tuesday. For as much as we may have mocked the League Cup, it's one of two pieces of silverware available to us, and so we really should throw ourselves into the effort. Without Continental commitments to sap our strength, and with only three matches between us and this trophy, well, why shouldn't we get after this one? Defeat Leeds, and we're in the quarterfinal. Though there are some heavy hitters still out there-- Liverpool, Man City, and Chelsea-- it's unlikely that any of them will be fielding full-strength sides just yet. None of that matters if we don't secure passage, so let's have a look at Leeds, shall we?

Return of Rivals' Roundup: Extended, Directors' Cut

Howdy, y'all -

It's been a few years since I've done these, but they seemed reasonably popular. In brief, life for me was a bit of a shambles, and these posts were a vital outlet. Life came together, and I got busy and productive in my career. I'm back, which is different from saying it's all gone to pieces again. Best of both worlds, perhaps. At any rate, I can't promise that this will be a weekly thing or that it won't be shite. I'm more than a little bit rusty. Having successfully lowered expectations, let's begin!

19 October 2021

So, Arsenal sit 12th. Time to panic?

So, we're one-fifth of the way through the Prem season, and Arsenal now sit 12th, behind the likes of Brighton, Everton, West Ham, Brentford, and Wolves. Nicking a draw at home after surging to an early lead against the likes of a Palace side shorn of Zaha will feel like two points dropped rather than one earned—and let's not dredge up the tiresome "should Arsenal have appointed Vieira over Arteta" debate yet again; the jury's going to be out on that for some time—instead, let's look at the fact that we're underperforming. That's both the good news and the bad news. This is perhaps what it feels like to get a flywheel moving: slow, undetectable progress at first, followed (it is hoped) by a sudden, strong surge forward.

18 October 2021

At long last, Vieira returns to Arsenal!

It's true, and not for the first time. Some are saying that he may soon be here to stay. Not me, though. That's a bit of madness, but it's understandable, such is Vieira's legendary status, Arsenal's difficulty in finding his "heir", and the fact that we find ourselves mired midtable, just three points clear of Monday's visitors. Of course, on Vieira's first return to Arsenal, his erstwhile friend, colleague, and compatriot Robert Pirès greeted him with a somewhat impertinent tackle that left Vieira frustrated as Pirès launched a counter that saw Henry feed Fabregas for the opening goal in a 2-0 win, taking us one step closer to that 2006 Champions League final. Ever since Vieira left, we've hungered for someone to fill the role from which he dominated and domineered. Ever since Wenger left, many have wondered if Vieira could return as Arsenal's manager. Come Monday, we have have more (or less) to wonder about.

13 October 2021

Thomas Partey proves he's not auditioning to play for an American football team...

When Thomas Partey joined Arsenal from Atletico Madrid, it felt too many like we had finally found that much-vaunted Vieira's HeirTM, that dominating, physical box-to-box midfielder who could disrupt opponents' attacks, link defense to attack, and bomb forward to score. There were flashes of that from the often-injured Elijah Price—er, Abou Diaby—but we've never truly found the player who could fill that role. Partey's arrival seemed to herald the dawning of a new era. He quickly showed that he could dominate a midfield. His passing split lines and carved defenses open. He tackled with almost-reckless aplomb...and then came the shots. Simply put, it often seemed like the man was auditioning to take point-after tries for an American football team or perhaps a conversion for a proper rugby side. Some of his efforts are still being tracked by the Hubble Telescope. However, there is better news on the near-horizon.

12 October 2021

Et tu, Arsène? Has he sold his soul to the Saudis?

Disturbing news continues to emanate out of Saudi Arabia. Last last week, the Saudi government's purchase of Newcastle was approved, prompting a surge in stock prices in fainting couches and smelling salts. In all seriousness, though, this was a move a long time in the offing, with Mike Ashley coming across as only slightly more objectionable than a government with a penchanct for dismembering its critics with a bonesaw and is not entirely out of character for a league in which profits frequently (read: always) prioritises profits over principles. Still, this latest newswhich has club legend and ostensibly all-around good person Arsène Wenger being hired on to manage an all-star squad featuring players from two Saudi Arabian clubs against Paris Saint-Germain in January 2022. Um, wot?

08 October 2021

Cue the hand-wringing, pearl-clutching, and smelling of salts. Spare me.

And with that, yet another club has sold its soul to the highest bidder, relegating our precious club and its noble values to fall behind yet another rival in the quest for relevance if not glory. With news that the Saudi takeover of Newcastle has been completed, we can look forward to a future in which the Magpies shoulder their way towards the top of the table, leapfrogging the likes of the Arsenal and the other knights in shining armor who remained committed to values of purity, chastity, the "right way", and—you know what? Spare me. Suffice it to say that we are hardly as pure as the driven snow over here. In fact, one might say we're getting the worst of both worlds, bankrolled and sponsored by some very sordid types without getting any closer to grabbing that brass ring.

03 October 2021

Brighton 0-0 Arsenal: Well, at least Maupay didn't maim anyone...

Yes, it's a point claimed, but, more importantly, Neal Maupay didn't jeoardise anyone's careers like he did towards the end of the 2019-20 campaign, going in for a pointless and reckless challenge on Leno, crashing into Leno, who had already claimed the ball. That gave rise to and eventual sale of Emi Martinez, may have ended Leno's position as our #1 keeper, and almost certainly spelt the end of Matteo Guendouzi's tenure as well. All of that because of the actions of the kind of smirking, malevolent, thirteen year old who'd step on the heels of your sneakers, swipe  your Galaxy Minstrels, and act like he invented the calculator trick in which you type 55378008 and turn it round for some naughty word-play. As if to show that his juvenile delinquency has spread throughout the club, Brighton tweeted out an image of Maupay in a mock-crying pose because, well, playing the part of the antagonist from Diary of a Wimpy Kid is apparently something to aspire to. #Lifegoals, Neal. #Lifegoals indeed.

27 September 2021

Arsenal 3-1 Tottenham: A Semblance of Order Restored.

There. Just like that, all questions regarding Mikel Arteta, all of those tranfers, and the season itself have well and truly been settle. What other conclusion is there to draw other than to say that we have our old Arsenal back? Three goals in just over 30 minutes in a pulsing North London Derby sure do go a long way towards re-establishing our dominance of the color of North London and also towards establishing our bona fides as title contenders. 

Erm. Well, let's maybe press the pause button here. For as thrilling and as convincing as this victory was, a bit of a reality check is in order. To put it mildly, this result revealed our own potential of while also exposing our opponent's frailties. Suffice it to say that we owe Nuno Espírito Santo a bit of a thank you for some of his decisions. Then again, this result does seem to be a bit of a bellwether signaling the resurrection of one club and the potential downfall of another.

24 September 2021

A Leviathan Rises From the Deep...

Three wins from three. Five goals scored from five different scorers. At a risk of sounding melodramatic, there is absolutely no other conclusion to draw other than the Arsenal, the mighty, mighty Arsenal, are back. Okay, so that was a touch more than melodramatic, but, still, it's hard to resist letting just a touch of optimism creep in after such a dire start to this campaign and after such gloomy campaigns prior. Consecutive 8th-place finishes are nothing to write home about, and it's perhaps little surprise that yours truly had stopped writing. This, my friends, is my first post since April 2019—approaching 30 months, give or take. I wonder if I'm as bad as this now as I was back then. Time will tell. Enough about me. It's my least-favorite subject. Back to the action on the pitch and, well, adjacent to it.