Burnley Preview: The End is Near

Before I get going on today’s post, words of sympathy and best wishes to Sir Alex Ferguson and his family following yesterday’s surgery. I hope he enjoys a full recovery; years of sporting enmity never alters the begrudging admiration for a man who was able to build and rebuild without missing a beat when it came to remaining at the top.

How different it might have been had the Arsenal board been patient back in 1986. Would I swap him taking over for George? Nah.

Every time I think of Burnley, it pops into my head in a broad Lancashire accent. A geographical earworm. Or just bloody weird, if I’m honest. In time, Sean Dyche may voice the town’s name; which sounds like sandpaper rubbing against a rusty drainpipe.

Dyche deserves plaudits for Burnley’s season, they’ve certainly caused upsets across football predictions for the weekend. They deserve a place in next season’s Europa League, particularly with their results at the top five so far this season.

Their only defeat came at Manchester City (0 – 3) while they won on an opening day at Chelsea (3 – 2) and drew at Tottenham and Liverpool (both 1 – 1), as well as Manchester United (2 – 2). Three points cannot be taken for granted.
Before that, it’s #MerciArsène. A chance for those who feel inclined to leave early to do so while others who wish to stay afterwards can do so. No-one has a right or wrong answer to that one. Nor does your view of it carry any more weight than those who don’t agree with it.

Or you just could look at it another way. While everyone is saying goodbye and showing respect for a long-serving employee, you can make sure that he’s actually going and that Enos isn’t having a big laugh at the punters expense. “Here’s the new manager of Arsenal Football Club: Arsènio Wengar…”

I’ll be looking at Le Boss’ time at the club when the season’s over and his reign is over. Doing so now feels a bit like writing an obituary when the patient is in hospital for an appendectomy.

And Now, The End is Near

Not forgetting either, that it is a time when others are leaving. It isn’t all about him, even if for most it will be.

Vic Akers, a stalwart of 33 years service at the club. He is the most successful Arsenal manager in the club’s history, solving many arguments in one trophy haul. 11 titles, a European Cup, 9 FA Cups, 10 League Cups and since everyone counts it as a trophy these days, 5 Community Shields.

After a decade with the Arsenal in the Community team, he became the first-team kit man in ’97. He’s been flashing his knobbly knees on the bench ever since. If memory serves, he was there at close to when it all started.

Alex Scott, the Ladies captain, is also retiring, along with Per Mertesacker as well.

Not forgetting that the knuckle-dragging, slavering Orcs are gone. Masters of their own destruction, the dreariest people on the planet are consigned to the Football League, who are already trying to find a way to lock them in the basement and never let them out again.

Their relegation is the ‘I love the smell of napalm in the morning’ moment, and poor ickle Ryan’s Grade A, monumental cock-up made it all the more enjoyable. It takes some balls to say afterwards that “some people need to take a long, hard look at themselves” when you’re the drongo who confirmed the club’s relegation.

It’s an iconic Premier League moment. Is it worse than costing your team the title with a (un)timely slip as the last defender? I think so; your mistake condemned your team. And you were captain…

And So I Face the Final Curtain

What of the team today? After Thursday night, they ‘owe’ it to the manager to end his home career in style. How often have we said that down the years? And usually, they fail to deliver on such occasions.

No Koscielny in defence; two games for Chambers to gain more experience; I wonder will Per make an appearance at some point? Sentimentality can’t over-rule the fact we need to win to be sure of sixth. Let that sink in for the moment if you’re struggling to make sense of where we are today.

At home, we have few concerns about form overall, even if we’ve made hard work of the some of the results recently. The 4 – 1 win over West Ham was flattering but in this, the business end of the season, points mean more. Even though we’re not fighting for anything special, finishing higher than mid-table is a bit of a result given our away record.

The line-up I’d expect to see is:

Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Chambers, Monreal; Xhaka, Ramsey; Mkhitaryan, Özil, Aubameyang; Lacazette

Let’s hope the new manager has a better system to fit the two strikers into than sticking one out on the flanks. That is a question for another day, however. Today is about three points and saying ‘bon voyage’ to Arsène, wherever his footballing journey takes him next.

And even he’s not so much of a curmudgeon to enjoy the moment, but I’m sure Arsène would swap all the t-shirts, programmes, etc., for three points.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

57 thoughts on “Burnley Preview: The End is Near

  1. ‘Morning all. Let’s spare a thought for the Orcs: they may have been unpleasant on and off the pitch but now a new master must be found fit to bear the mantle of Sauron. Any mouthy git who encourages violence and hates the light should do.

  2. I also wouldn’t swap Gorgeous George for Fergie (the latter had greater success but the former was ours, for better or worse). The best to Fergie, nonetheless.

  3. Could Burnley go deep (although not all the way) in the Europa for similar reasons to Athletico? The don’t give up much at home. Worth a punt for the semis at long odds? Or will they prioritize the league too much?

  4. Bellerin has been absolute appalling lately.Maitland -Niles has been the real deal whenever called upon . In a match where grit and discipline will matter he should be playing.In a team beset by too many players turning up with the wrong attitude it would be nice to finally see the Manager dropping someone who mistakenly believes that his ability is far greater than it actually is!

  5. Joel,

    It would be nice to see them pick a position for M-N and give him a proper run at the first team. He’s shown more than many.

  6. Lovely blog. So, the end is indeed near, and a limp end it is too.
    Beaten in mid-week by the first decent European side that Arsenal faced, they now face Burnley to battle for a new trophy: “the sixth place trophy”.
    Frankly, after the powder puff performance by the ‘senior’ team players on Thursday, why not let the juniors have a run out in the final three games. The new manager can have a look at what new young talent is coming through. We’ve seen enough of the under-performance by mollycoddled over-paid stars under Wenger.
    These ‘stars’ should be embarrassed by this season’s under achievement, as should Wenger himself. Since 2013 when the CEO announced we could now compete with Bayern, the slide into mediocrity has at least been consistent. Wenger did well in the debt-strapped years after the 2006 move, but it is a long time since he returned the club’s investment in his massive salary.
    I can’t wait for this last game at our home stadium to be over. A limp end.

  7. Fab to see the demise of Stoke City. The BBC website said last time they dropped out of the top league it took them 23 years to get back. May it take many years longer this time!!!!

  8. Morning All
    Hoping for a good game today, players with their shooting boots on, put on a decent show anyway.

    Yogi
    Whatever happened to yesterdays post, mistakenly deleted?

  9. “… like writing an obituary when the patient is in hospital for an appendectomy.”

    Like the Queen’s– already written.
    But true, there a difference when stabbing a cadaver.

    jw1

  10. From Arsene’s programme notes:

    ‘What I will miss most about this job is the competition itself,’ Wenger wrote.

    ‘The collective feeling, the sharing of emotions with people you work with on a daily basis, the desire to feel something together and the target you always have in front of you.

    ‘I will miss the intensity of it all, because that’s all I have known in my life. I’d say what has linked all my teams through the years is the desire to play as a connected team, at a high pace, and to make the players reach a complex form of collective football.

    ‘That means involving at least three players every move, to express your talent, and make people feel that when football is expressed in a collective way and with a high understanding, it’s art.’

    Sorry, but this is another reason why I’ll be glad to see an end to the AW era. Pompous bullcrap about football as an art. It’s a sport where winning is the prime objective, where results, not style are what really matter. So deluded that he still believes we play ‘at a high pace’ when for the last few years we’ve tried to walk the ball in. It’s not art, it’s not even entertaining. It’s a poorly conceived vanity project derived from one man’s ego and I’ll be delighted to finally see the end of it.

  11. Great preview yogi

    Our home form has been good so I expect a win for Arsene’s final game in the house that he thinks he built. I could not be happier that the end of his reign is so close but I do hope its a good and the crowd gives him a positive send off.

    As far as the game today, your line up has 4 players who have only played forward so either Ozil or Mkhitaryan will have to drop back to central midfield. I think Wilshere starts since this might be his last home game in an Arsenal shirt. If it were me I would probably drop Ozil. Despite not being injured Mesut has not set foot on the pitch in any of our last 4 league games. I can’t imagine that he will be highly motivated for the last 3 games this season. We might as well shut him down so he can be healthy and well rested for the World Cup.

  12. Lovely stuff Yogi.

    Arsene is leaving do it would be good if there was a performance at thr Emirates to send him off. Have a real go and show of attacking quailty. Secure the points and give him thr ovation his career as a whole deserves with the knowledge this is truly the end.

  13. Huddersfield is really organized and holding Man City. Man City has 80% of the ball possession. When a team has that much possession its hard to set up any counter attacks and even Pep ball can turn into tippy tappy when they can’t or don’t attack at pace. The other issue is City probably need to spend some money on a high scoring forward to replace Aguero. They are definitely a better team with Aguero on the pitch but he can’t stay healthy.

  14. Bill,

    You do realize that Citeh have averaged something like 75% possession this season. They don’t just attack at pace they possess the ball and then because in their midfield and attack they have sublime technical players, they can literally pass you to death.

    You talk about the the technical talent we have but honestly, outside of Ozil Lacazette, Aubameyang and now Mkhitaryan, we don’t have the technical players. Ramsey is good at late runs but technically leaves a lot to be desired, Jack who the fuck knows at this point, Xhaka is a deeplying but when pressed you see the lack of technical ability in tight areas, Lacazette has it in him and you see how good he is in tight areas and Aubameyang is technically really good. So that is 3 new players that have just arrived and should be the building blocks for the new man along with a quality DM.

  15. C

    We need to have a spot on the pitch for Wilshere since this might be his last game so we probably need to drop either Ozil or Mkhitaryan. Mkhitaryan will not be involved in the World Cup and Mesut has not played in a PL game for about more then 5 weeks and he needs to be ready for rested and healthy for Germany so it makes sense to shut him down

  16. Bill,

    Why do we need to have a spoy for Jack? Who cares if it might be his last match given he has probably been our worst midfield player over the past couple of months? Personally I’d rather we go with thr front 4 that will be playing together next season and if we go thr sentimental route than I would rather Mert start and in the last match or even today Santi get a 5-10 min run out.

  17. Ozil missing – got a sniffle. He’s one of the ones I’ve earmarked as being pushed through the ‘do one’ door if we need more funds.

  18. Perhaps when Monsieur Wenger leaves he will be gracious enough to take his current underachieving favourite with him and we will no longer have to watch the pointless exercise of watching Iwobi do little more than “make up the numbers”!!

  19. Arsenal XI: Cech, Bellerin, Chambers, Mavropanos, Kolasinac, Mkhitaryan, Wilshere, Xhaka, Iwobi, Lacazette, Aubameyang.

    Bench: Ospina, Mertesacker, Mustafi, Monreal, Maitland-Niles, Ramsey, Welbeck.

  20. YW,

    We will agree to disagree. Think we need a DM to help balance the midfield. Saw a brilliant article the other day about how Ozil gets slated for what hr can’t do because when he was purchased we need a DM or consistent pivot and Ozil was purchased and he always will be judged based on that.

    Its funny but Keown’s comment about Ozil and Vieira is actually more of an indictment on Ramsey, Xhaka and Jack than Ozil.

  21. The other issue is that arsene has left ozil out of the match day 18 for the last 4 league game for a reason.. Clearly at this point in his career either Ozil or Arsene does not think he is good for more then 1 game per week and he played a full game on Thursday so playing again today is to soon for him

  22. I take it that Ozil is sick once again and therefore unavailable for selection. I wonder whether he feels as much guilt as he does so called illness.Im not sure whether having received his exorbitant pay rise he’s managed to make himself available for more than 50% of the matches scheduled in any given month since the transfer window closed.In any other form of employment this kind of work avoidance would usually result in censure, non-payment of salary at the very least a warning that could lead to termination of work contract.

  23. Bill,

    Or Arsene has said fuck it if I’m leaving Im going to play Iwobi and Jack along with Xhaka cause its just me being me and doing what the fuck I want. I mean remember this is rhe man who refused to start Lacazette at the start of the seasom despite him acoring goals, played Ox in an effort to try and keep him even though he was CLEARLY OFF to Liverpool both physically and mentally and then dropped Sanchez in an effort to show his authority while still begging him to stay.

  24. I also find it a bit comical that people blame Ozil yet its Arsene who picks the team and match day squad….

  25. I suspect that Arsene would have at least had Ozil on the bench if Mesut felt like he was ready. It takes a lot of effort and energy to get warmed up and sit on the bench.

  26. Would be interesting to know what Ozil’s contract says about ‘downtime’ – for instance, is there a clause which allows Arsenal in any way to claw back or reduce his 300k a week salary? He is a serious talent that Arsenal need, but he is surely ‘in the shop window’ at the World Cup, and will likely leave before next season kicks off. I hope he stays personally, even at over 1 mil a month. A different manager would use him better for sure.

  27. James.

    There is zero chance that Ozil would surrender any of his $350K/week wage and there is zero chance any other team in the world would want him on that sort of wage. For better or worse he is here for the next 3 years.

  28. Bill:
    James.

    There is zero chance that Ozil would surrender any of his $350K/week wage and there is zero chance any other team in the world would want him on that sort of wage. For better or worse he is here for the next 3 years.

    I’m ok with that Bill…we need talent next season. The salary isn’t that large bearing in mind he didn’t cost a fee on the re-sign. I agree that Arsenal couldn’t sell him for a fee (or much of a fee) and a new club continue to pay Ozil his current salary, as the figures probably don’t add up, but a swap like happened with Mhiki could be possible. Bizarre things happen when the money men get involved. I hope he stays though.

  29. I really feel optimistic about the Auba-Laca partnership. Here’s to the new manager backing them up with a team which can get them the ball and defend the leads they get us.

  30. Good first half. We have been good this season at home. That has to give some hope for a top 4 challenge in the next couple of years.

  31. Today’s game is a good send off for Arsene and he can say that he wrapped up 6th place on his final home game.

  32. I don’t think Nacho is going anywhere and we won’t use Kolasinac regularly unless we go back to 3 at the back and need a left wing back. We need to raise cash and perhaps he is worth something in the transfer market. The problem is that we convinced him to come on a free by giving him a wage which I suspect is a lot higher then the vast majority of full backs. Its unlikely that a big teams which could easily pay his wage would want him and the middle and smaller teams are not going to want to pay world class fullback wages for a player who has hardly been on the pitch this season.

  33. Mikitaryan’s playing style reminds me so much of Santi Cazorla, just without the smile.

    Looking to have been a quite astute swap considering we were 6 months away from losing Sanchez for zip.

  34. I have a strong suspicion we’re going to see combos, formations and tactics that are quite different to what we’ve been used to going forward.

  35. Not sure about the message being conveyed with the giant condoms being brought out onto the pitch?

  36. MikeSA

    I hope you are right about Mkhitaryan and may be this time is different but we have been fooled dozens and dozens and dozens of times in the past when a player comes in and plays well for a few games especially if it happens during the teams annual false dawn segment of the season. Realistically we probably won’t be playing 5 attacking players and if we hope to have PEA and Lacazette on the pitch we can’t play Mikki, Ozil and Ramsey at the same time.

  37. That was a pleasure to watch!

    Hmmm, just maybe spuds go trophyless and out of top 4.
    Would that be a successful season?
    Arsenal won one to start the season, and still our worst season in years..
    Oh the irony.

  38. YW:
    Ozil missing – got a sniffle. He’s one of the ones I’ve earmarked as being pushed through the ‘do one’ door if we need more funds.

    If the new man is not willing to scream and fight for more then $50M in transfer fees then we don’t want him. I think we have to raise cash and I think everyone in the squad not named Aubamayang or Lacazette should be potential candidates to sell. The problem will be finding landing spots for players who are over paid. There are not many of our players that other big teams would want other then perhaps Ozil because of his name and reputation. However, I can’t imagine that even the most wealthy team would want to take on a $350K/week wage for the next 3 years. Bellerin and Ramsey also seem to have bigger reputations then you would expect based on what we have seen for the last 2 seasons so either might bring a decent fee.

  39. MikeSA,

    I thought Iwobi was more of a Santi clone today. Played a role in the first four goals and showed how two footed he is. Not everything he does comes off, but it doesn’t discourage him and he just keeps on going. Carries the ball better than most PL midfielders too.

  40. Which players we sell or keep should depend on how much we are offered and whether or not we actually need to replace them and how much it would cost to replace them. For example we don’t really need to replace Ramsey Mkhitaryan or Ozil if we keep the other 2. It won’t cost that much to replace Bellerin with a good to better full back.

  41. Masterstroke,

    Really cant say I saw any resemblance at all.

    Iwobi had some good moments but had some keystone cops specials as well, so for me Iwobi isnt even on the same planet.

  42. Bill,

    It just struck me whilst I was watching his movement and control.

    We would have lost Sanchez for zilch, so I’m fairly upbeat about getting him as a replacement.

    Sanchez did a lot of shouting and waving, but the stats show he did very little running and his passing was not particularly good.

    What hSanchez was good at was pulling a rabbit out of the hat, but he wasnt going to stay, so getting a decent, well above average footballer, who puts in the effort in return I think might turn out to be a bit of a fluke of good luck (I hope).

  43. The new manager should really build the squad, and ask the owner to part with £200 millions at least. Kronke Snr should be told that he needs ambition to win big trophies and not consider the Club as merely an asset in his portfolio.
    Many players need to be sold.
    I have been residing in Highbury since 1989, and Wenger ‘s first 8 years were so exhilarating , and he changed the way football is played in this country. Those glorious years, such wonderful memories.
    He should have gone when the move to Emirates stadium happened. He knew then the American owner was not going to spend any money for buying players and that he was not interested in winning, but merely the Club staying in the PL.
    It is very sad to see Wenger becoming a shadow of his previous self and forced to depart, and leaving as a very successful manager , say in 2006.

  44. When I moved to Aberdeen in 1982 to work for a few years there, I had the opportunity to hear and see another great manager who won trophies for the DONS there, particularly the European Cup Winner’s Cup, which lifted the City so much, and made Pittodrie a glorious place. He took on the likes of Celtic and Rangers. I wish Sir Alex the very speedy recovery.
    Having moved to Highbury in late 1980s , I became a gooner. Wenger , when he arrived at Highbury in 1996, had the same vision and mission. It was such a privilege to see and hear this great manager in action then, when he won trophies after trophies. Highbury was such a glorious place too. It is very sad that Wenger did not go out on a high.

  45. MikeSA

    I would to see the 3 forwards to all be realistic goal scoring threats and then we could use either Ozil Mkhitaryan or Ramsey in the #10 position. Perhaps Mkhitaryan will turn out to be the best option of those 3 and time will tell. The other 2 central midfielders need to have technical skill but also contribute to a solid team defense.

  46. Well that was a very pleasant Sunday afternoon!
    Nice send off for Wenger. Deserved, if not late by a few years.
    But no point being churlish.

  47. Some positives,
    Think we might have found our new BFG!
    Yes he was beaten by their striker once, but he looks good. Doesn’t go to ground the way Mustafi does, strong, aggressive.
    PEA and Laca and Mhiki could have some lovely interchange of play next year.
    LJW had his best game for about 3/4 months. Showed what he is capable of.
    Nice goal from Iwobi, and a better game but doesn’t change my view that moving forward he isn’t good enough. However he might have pushed upon his transfer fee today,

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