STONE COLD SATURDAY: Complex? What Complex?

They say Arsenal has it. Arsène Wenger challenges his players to prove they don’t have it. So, what does this monster called an inferiority complex look like? Isn’t it a nebulous affair? If you asked Jeffrey Skilling from his 10 by 8 piece of real estate he calls home at the Federal Prison Camp in Montgomery Alabama, Jeffrey would know the answer. You do remember our Jeffrey, he of the “You’ll know it when you see it” Enron infamy. He would tell you that an inferiority complex is like pornography, you’ll know it when you see it.

Another way of looking at it is this. In the last 5 years, Arsenal has only won 11 out of the 51 matches against the current top 6. We’ve lost the last 7 out of 8 at Stamford Bridge and failed to keep any clean sheets. In those 8 matches against Chelsea away, we’ve conceded at least 2 goals in each game. But hey, there’s always a brighter spin on things. Arsenal has beaten Chelsea in the last 3 out of 4 games. Victor Moses and Pedro might have helped by conspiring to reduce their team to 10 men on two occasions, but you can’t refuse to take the win if it comes. There was of course the curious case of Thibaut Courtois fancying himself as a penalty taker extraordinaire.

But We Have a Tank, Don’t We?

I don’t think you can get any more engrained in the psyche of Arsenal fans than the way Sead Kolasinac has. Granted, we’re only a few weeks in, but what more can he do to prove he has to be one of the first names on the team sheet. Throwing in an equalizing goal at Wembley and at the Emirates ain’t shabby at all. Wenger of course has to play him at left back or LWB depending on whether we play 4 or 3 at the back. Otherwise, it doesn’t make sense.

After the match against FC Kóln on Thursday night, my friend decided she was going to nickname our Bosnian tank ‘Kalashnikov’. “A straight shooter” she says, as she looked up from playing Online Blackjack Canada. No nonsense, keeps to the simple things he’s good at, and does exactly what it says on the tin”. And it showed after his entry at half time. Alexis was more confident with the knowledge that there’s a tank covering his backside. And it can attack too.

Case No. 14092017: Arsenal and 1. FC Kóln vs The People of Football

For some reason, I can’t stop thinking about the UEFA prosecutors presenting this case before Judge Judy. She would know what to do. The Germans seem to have exhausted the crimes in Article 16 of UEFA’s regulations, and Arsenal being charged with crimes against Football fans in Article 38. UEFA do like charging people. I suppose the fines fill their coffers.

Thursday’s case was that of poor planning. You live and learn from it, and given how fluid the situation was, it all ended up being all right on the night. I think we sometimes forget that the fact the game went ahead was because of the great work done by the Police, stewards and other support staff, and all under very difficult circumstances. It might not be as pretty as everyone wants, but the football isn’t always pretty, is it?

Look Ma! It’s Li’l Jack Willy

I had almost forgotten that jack Wilshere could play in an Arsenal shirt. Glad the circus of the transfer window is done with. He’s a resource and we can use him if he’s not collecting air miles flying in between the pitch and the medical room. I also think he can still be more effective as he plays with better quality around him.

Europa League does offer a genuine chance for our squad players to get real pitch time this season. It was great to see Ainsley Maitland-Niles get a full stretch out with Reiss Nelson also getting an 8 minute cameo in prime time. Arsenal should use the group stages to stretch the legs of the squad players. If mixed with experience here and there, we certainly can make it to the next round.

Given that right now, Arsenal are the favourites, and in the view of many, the strongest team in the Europa League, it doesn’t make sense not to take the competition seriously. Stronger teams will drop down from the Champions League in December. By playing a mixed but strong squad, we will also be giving our key players enough rest so that their energies are focused on the Premier League.

Go On, I Dare You

Meanwhile, there’s just the small matter of tomorrow’s trip to Stamford Bridge. Despite having lost 7 out of our last 8 away at Chelsea, there’s a bit of optimism. We’ve beaten them in 3 out of the last 4. I will remain positive. I will throw my full support behind the team and squad. Surprise us folks. Smash and grab 3 points. We need the points, but I’ll take the bragging rights too. One point will still be a good job.

Have a great weekend good people.

47 thoughts on “STONE COLD SATURDAY: Complex? What Complex?

  1. Yogi, your final paragraph says it all.
    We are currently on a winning streak against Chelsea and there is no reason why it shouldn’t continue.
    There’s far too much pessimism on these columns these days. 😉

  2. I think UEFA bottled a bit with the charges passed out when they really should be carrying out a proper investigation into how easy it was for Koln fans to get tickets in the home sections of the ground. UEFA would never do that though because it would mean them going to war with the touts, a system they actually appear to be quite happy to see continue. The vast number of hospitality and corporate tickets handed out for sporting events is ridiculous and so many of those tickets end up in the wrong hands. Just look at the FA Cup final allocations, the capacity at Wembley is officially 90,000 but Arsenal and Chelsea were both allocated 28,000 tickets. That means 34,000 seats went elsewhere. So other allocations received a bigger weighting at the Cup Final than either team. I wonder how many of those seats went to touts?

    Oh, I was first was well. 🙂

  3. Good stuff, Darius.

    I’ve met Jeff Skilling a couple of times – he used to speak at energy conferences which the company I worked for organised, back in the 90s. He gave some of the most captivating, dynamic speeches (about Enron) I had ever heard – of course, years later, I found out that it was all complete and utter bollocks.
    A total charlatan but a charismatic one at that. 🙂

  4. Good morning folks, just, thanks Darius for the post.

    UEFA have charged Arsenal with the heinous crime of blocking a gangway in the away supporter’s section.

    Short of demanding to see a fan’s passport I can’t imagine what else the police and stewards could have done to prevent people with a valid ticket gaining access to the stadium. How Koln fans obtained those tickets needs to be looked at.

  5. Except for the fact we haven’t won at theirs since 2011 and our record away from home against the top 6 is beyond execrable, beyond laughable – truly it’s a fucking horror show.

    Of course, we still have a chance but it’s not pessimism to suggest that we are very much the underdogs.

    nicky:
    Yogi, your final paragraph says it all.
    We are currently on a winning streak against Chelsea and there is no reason why it shouldn’t continue.
    There’s far too much pessimismon these columns these days.

  6. Well, much as I hate to pick nits, Darius, but the strength of the Kalashnikov certainly isn’t it’s ability to shoot straight. Very much a short to medium range weapon. Scatters it’s shots around somewhat.

  7. Orson Kaert,

    Engage them in general conversation and then slip in a comment about the ball being over the line for the third goal in the 66 World Cup Final. They are bound to give themselves away.

  8. I think the Post summed things up very well.

    I enjoyed the game against Köln, altho I also had sympathy for those people who had tickets with their children, because the delay and the over-boisterous antics of the German fans would have been a problem for them.

    ‘Enjoy’ tends to be defined by the outcome of games, of course, so a rubbish first half is quickly forgotten when the second half brings a welcome recovery which leads to a win. A loss and I would not have ‘enjoyed’ it — but that’s life.

    As far as tomorrow’s game goes – I am not normally defeatist by nature – but I am a realist, and my estimation of the respective qualities of both teams, [even allowing for the very different team the Arsenal are likely to put up], it still leads me to think we will get skinned, again.

    A fatalistic view? Yes, but it makes a probable defeat lose its sting, whereas a point becomes a massive psychological victory – and an improbable victory for the Gunners would be gilding the lily.

  9. consolsbob,

    TBH with the AK47 it rather depends on how you have it set. Set to fire a single shot it functions as a competent rifle. Set on full auto and you’re correct: you’ll be lucky to hit anything.
    Clarkson covered this some years back:

  10. Good stuff Darius.

    The ticket situation the more and more I think about it is a double edge sword. Do people show their displeasure with the club by not attending matches and if they do then they have to understand that a club and its supporters like Koln (or most German supporters for that matter) who have waited for years and been relegated several times over the last decade and by most accounts have some of the best and most loyal supporters were going to try and buy those tickets. The part I still can’t wrap my head around is that there were pictures and videos of 20000 Koln supporters walking the street (quite peacefully from what I have seen) in the morning and early afternoon, why didn’t or wasn’t there an emergency plan of action put into place?

    Anyways, I am actually quite optimistic about the match tomorrow, I think its a real possibility for us to get at the very least a draw but certainly 3 points. I know this may sound simplistic but its really down to a couple of things: we have a legitimate clinical goal scorer who literally only needs one chance, we have fighters in this team and while we have been shit at the Bridge, we have shown we can beat them. I do wonder two things though: Welbeck or Sanchez, and is Arsene really going with Xhaka and Ramsey?

  11. I said earlier in the summer that we should have signed Lemina as he is exactly what we need in midfield and I think Southampton did brilliant business getting him.

  12. Palace are in serious trouble especially since I just had a look at their PL fixture list and they have the following matches in order:

    Citeh
    Manure
    Chelsea
    Newcastle (they might get a point their but Hayden and Newcastle have looked good enough to beat Palace)
    West Ham
    Spuds
    Everton
    Stoke

    They could well have possible 2 wins in their first 13 matches.

  13. Apparently the winner of the PL has been outside the top four after six games only on two occasions since the 38 game format was introduced in 1995-96 season.

    Also, losing to Chelsea combined with both Manchester clubs winning their games would put Arsenal 7 and 6 , but in reality 8 and 7 points by virtue of vastly inferior goal difference behind the three title contenders.

    In short, if Arsenal have any notion of winning the PL title this season( cough, cough) , this is a must win. Simple as that.

  14. Jonny:
    It’s called an assault ‘rifle’ for a reason y’know?

    Jonny and Bob

    The AK is widely used around the world because it is cheap and virtually indestructible.

    I’ve seen one with a broken gas piston rod replaced with a piece of bloudraad (a thick and very stiff piece of fencing wire), and still firing no problem.

    I’ve seen plenty that were so dirty you couldn’t see down the barrel but they still fired (I’ve only seen one or two jam on very rare occasions, it’s a very reliable weapon).

    You could literally drag one down a dirt road behind a truck and it would still fire.

    Long range accuracy in bush/guerilla warefare is not high on the list of requirements. Most contacts happen at a distance of 25 metrres or less.

    In my unit we always used AKs (AKM with the folding butt is a very useful weapon) instead of R4s.

    Firing on automatic is always a complete no no.

    At 600 rpm, a 35 round mag empties in 3.5 seconds, and unless it’s grounded on a tripod, any automatic rifle will spray all over the place, so assault rifles are always used on semi auto and fired in two shot taps.

    You do get 50 round mags, but they’re bulky and awkward.

    Btw, just in case you were wondering, I don’t like guns.

  15. Great post Darius. Thanks for coming back.

    We are rightfully heavy underdogs. Getting a result in this game is not really a critical in our fight for 4th place. We are rightfully heavy underdogs but maybe we can get a draw

  16. That is a crystal clear foul from Walker on Chalobah and Watford should have had a penalty. Walker’s foot was high, he takes the man completely out and he wasn’t even close to getting the ball.

  17. City gifted 3 goals in that one. Two offsides (albeit one pretty marginal) and a spurious penalty. ‘Pool dropping points could be a positive, however.

  18. Excellent set of results today for us. The 2 realistic rivals fir 4th place both dropped points at home against mid-lower table teams. One thing Arsenal has been good at in the last couple of seasons is getting results at home against lower teams below 8th and that home firm has kept us competitive in the race for top 4

  19. Bill,

    Yes, the Manchester clubs look like the other effective flat-track bullies so far but I can see them struggling in the big games. Still a little unclear how Chelsea and Spurs will follow last season. Enough failings amongst the others to keep some hope of top four alive. At least no one looks too far ahead of the others. What passes for optimism these days!

  20. Freddie:

    I think the Manchester clubs and Chelsea are the 3 best teams. Last season Spurs were statistically the best team in the league but it looks like they are going to have a tough time repeating their success from last season. We seem to be able to put together a good 1/2 season every year and we generally take enough points at home against the mid and lower table clubs to stay competive for the top 4 and I am confident we will be competitive for 4th place again. If Alexis does not sleep walk thru the season and actually plays well then I think we might even be considered co-favorites for 4th place depending on whether or not Spurs can figure out how to win at Wembley.

  21. Bill,

    Yeah, that seems a reasonable set of assumptions, based on what we’ve seen so far. I just don’t fully trust myself not to underestimate Spurs! Although Wembley, I feel will work against them, as it did for us in the Champions League.
    Liverpool, I’m fairly confident, are at least as inconsistent as ourselves.

  22. Friday evening – Newport Gwent Dragons at home to Connacht – pride, passion, commitment, beers in the stand, home win, player seemingly dislocates shoulder in a tackle that we could hear from 15 yards away, pelanty try and a home win – whats not to love ?

  23. For a change I got to watch all the game and enjoyed that second half response.

    You feel he will play Xhaka and Ramsey but an extra DM like Elneny would be sensible it seems. Maitland was so much better in CM. AW always takes a risk but that whole LB thing is getting stupid now!

    Alexis was all over the parish with misplaced passes and I was just thinking it should be hauled off when he scores a peach.

    So sad that the only song I heard on tv from us was ‘who are ya! Who are ya!’

    And that was after 3-1

  24. I think on of the major reasons for the defensive success today was our ‘in possession’ play from the back. We almost went to a 4-1-3-2 or a 4-1-4-1 during our attacks, playing the ball from the back.
    For example, when attacking from our right Kos would take up a rishta back position, with bellerin bombing forward, but Kolisinac would tuck in as left back and Mustafi and Nacho as CBs. This made the transition into defense a lot easier when we lost the ball in the mid field and also reduced the midfield space.
    If you recall in the previous games, especially the one against Pool, where Holding struggled playing the same role as Kos on the right and with both wing backs forward we were left woefully short at the back.
    I think one of the reasons we have struggled with the back 3 is this transition, which worked well today.
    Also with the back 3 when we did not have the ball, the middle centre-back has the license to go chase the ball and attack it in the midfield area, with the LCB and RCB as covers, even if the Middle CB messes up we have cover. And that is where the tweak to have Mustafi central has worked. Mustafi is more aggressive then Kos and likes to win the ball higher up, which can be a real problem when you are covering. If Kos is central and he losses out in a challenge, we saw Mustafi aggressively trying to win the ball rather than playing it more safe and delaying the attack till more arsenal support arrived. Hence we repeated saw Nacho having to cover the entire back line with MCB and RCB out of position.
    With Mustafi central, Kos and Nacho are a lot more reliable cover. It’s similar to what Chelsea have with Luiz given the license to attack and Azpilicueta and Cahill covering.

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