STONE COLD FRIDAY: Of Swamp Divers And The Dark Arts

Decades ago in high school, I became an expert diver. I already had a lot of practice from primary school, becoming a top swimmer in my class. But it was totally different in high school where the sport quickly moved to diving on grass. Not that we didn’t have a pool. It had more to do with the merciless hazing you got as a 1st former; more of boarding boot camp than initiation in school. The 6th form prefects were absolutely ruthless. My two crimes on my very first night in school were making an assumption and pocketing; both capital crimes for a “rabble”, the colloquial name for a first former.

We became experts at diving across the quadrangle and swimming on the grass doing the butterfly and the front crawl. Hell, we even had tag team relays with other rabbles waiting on the other side of the quadrangle. I can’t help but think that in another life, I could have been one of the best practitioners of the dark arts in football. I’m a believer in football being a contact sport and don’t subscribe to the notion that any sort of contact in the box results in a penalty if a player just goes down. It has to be a foul. Players these days go down faster than a two dollar trick. Not like back in the day when someone had to break your leg or something for the referee to take note.

Wenger’s Talking, But Is Anyone Listening?

What are the odds that Arsenal will give away a penalty at Wembley tomorrow? With two of the Premier Leagues more experienced penalty acquisition merchants facing Arsenal, Wenger’s comment that English players have become the masters of diving was in Technicolor and Dolby surround for those who choose to listen. The question is whether he was talking to Anthony Taylor or whether he was talking to the Arsenal defenders. I certainly hope our defenders were listening because they will need to style up tomorrow.

I must admit, I was totally miffed when I saw the line-up against Everton. That Xhaka, Ramsey, Iwobi triumvirate irked me until the first goal went in. It makes you scratch your head. Clearly, we have players capable of doing this, but what’s with the feast and famine routine? Why can’t they just give us consistency?

The new signings had a massive influence, particularly Mkhitaryan, whose influence in the game reminded me of Santi Carzola at his best. Granted, it’s better to have selection headaches, so long as you can pick the right team for the right opponent.

Calm Down, Calm Down! We’re Not There Yet

Hector Bellarin avers that Arsenal high voltage football is back, the electricity supplied by the verve of our new acquisitions. Everton is one thing though, but the swamp dwellers are a totally different kettle of fish. Attack as the best form of defence is a risky strategy and tomorrow’s derby is one game that Mohammed Elneny has to play. With the business end of the season fast approaching, Arséne really has to cut down the nonsense of neglecting basic defensive discipline for the purity of Wengerball. It’s too early to make a judgement of the impact of Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan at least until after the league cup final two weekends away.

There’s just something about our defence that makes me nervous. Our ‘goal machine’ Monreal was substituted at half-time last week, yet he has been one of our consistent performers. One would hope that his substitution was just a precaution since we were 4 nil up. Kolasinac seems to have lost some confidence and needs a run of games to get back into the mix. Is it too much though, to ask for a bit of common sense and temper our attacking verve with a bit of simplicity and basics in the defensive midfield area? Of course, we’d love if the Awesome Foursome” totally rips Spurs to threads, but I’ll take 3 points any which way it comes.

“He’s like a new signing”

It was cringeworthy when Ozil was touted as “just like a new signing” when he renewed his contract. Arsenal is on the brink of having another “new” signing. Wenger is confident Li’l Jack will commit pen to paper, and I must say, that’s a great move. Wilshere is Arsenal through and through and I can see him being the next Arsenal captain. I know, I know. Only if he stays fit is the refrain you can hear from the Hertfordshire plains. Contract talks are a distraction to players at critical times of the season and I hope the new back office team can start to bring some sanity to contract management at Arsenal, considering that Ramsey is also now stalling on his contract talks. I don’t blame Rambo, with Ozil hitting the jackpot, he must be thinking I can get a few more bob here. If that’s an incentive for the Welshman to up his game, well and good.

Our focus should now be totally on the league cup, the Europa league and making a consistent effort to climb up the table. The 4th place trophy is still up for grabs. As much as people are cynical about it, I want Arsenal to take every game seriously and continue building consistency for the rest of the season and hopefully, for a brighter season next campaign. We’ve won the last 9 games we’ve played at Wembley. May the good ship Victoria Concordia Crescit continue its journey and make it 11 before the end of the month.

Have a great weekend good people.

161 thoughts on “STONE COLD FRIDAY: Of Swamp Divers And The Dark Arts

  1. When Wenger joined we had just finished fifth. Makes his promise that he’ll leave us in a better position than when he arrived look a little bit like wishful thinking.

  2. We are gifting them chances to end this game. Do we want to loose, this is by far the worst I’ve seen this season and I thought the Swansea game was low point.

    This is embarrassing. Losing almost every tackle, maybe 5 one on one chances and only by dumb luck and spuds not precise finishing the score could be 4 or 5 nothing.

  3. If we somehow grab a draw it wont hide the fact that we’ve been totally outplayed after the break. Although of course those that refuse to accept the reality that we’re in decline would celebrate it as some kind of moral victory (even though we’re the club with the bigger budget in this one).

  4. Being embarrassed in the second half when it was even in the first. They lifted they game and we dropped. As soon as they scored it was all over. Would just like to see the players act like they want to get something out of this.

  5. Wavey,

    Yes, I wonder what happens at the break. They come out looking like hungry wolves and we come out looking like sheeps.

    How is it possible, what does he say to make them come out and instantly fold?

  6. It’s depressing that the players have not played like it’s a NLD. Heads have dropped and no interest at all. No midfield – awesome.

  7. Whatever the rivalry between Gooners and Spuds fans — I have to say they are light years ahead of us in player quality and tactical acumen.

    I would get rid of half that Arsenal defence — and as a team we have not won a header from a corner at either end of the pitch.

    This could have been a 6 : 0 massacre.

    Can’t believe that Row Z shot by Lacazette. Oh, dear — still only 1 shot on target in the game fromJack that I can think of.

  8. ozil……get it over the f-ing wall man ! lacazette has been neutered by wenger. a sorry performance by us, we aren’t near the top four this season i’m afraid. come on arsene, time to roll over and out of the bed.

  9. resolve, desire, hunger just not there says keown, havent been there for f-ing years, this is the problem with arsenal. soft as sun kissed butter.

  10. A really poor free kick to end it as well.

    Says it all about the performance of too many in red and white today.

  11. The major concern is that our attack has been neutered in too many games. There was nothing coming from midfield with Ozil playing as part of the front three. Needed to see him alongside Jack in the middle with Elneny behind them. PEA/Laca/Miki as the front three.

  12. Time for Nicky to come back and admit that as we suspected the result against Everton was just another false dawn that only the most desperate could cling to.

    Come to think of it I don’t care if Arsene leaves us in a lower position than when he arrived just as long as he leaves.

  13. It does not matter how many forwards we buy — with that midfield and central defence we will always struggle.

    I am realistic enough to accept that you win some and lose some, in life as in football — but it is infuriating to watch Arsenal season after season repeating the same mistakes with the same or similarly limited players in defence — as we all know, it is the definition of insanity to keep repeating the same mistakes in the hope that the outcome will somehow be different — it will not !!

  14. Wavey,

    Yup but as Arsene showed, Elneny isn’t really apart of his plans despite winning Player of the Month and him again showing his importance because when he left, our midfield was giving up pass after pass and we looked much more shaky.

    Iwobi looked either not up to it or not to care cause he clearly offered little to nothing.

  15. I would guess that Iwobi tried, C, but he should not have been on the pitch — neither should a number of the others — he was just the worst of a bad bunch today.

  16. HenryB,

    Hi Henry,

    Wenger would argue that we are an attacking team and we would look to out score our opponents. When you can’t get the ball to your forwards it doesn’t matter how good they are. Lacazette is low on confidence and missed the chances, but it took us until that late in the game to get the chances in the first place. Aubameyang must be wondering who is meant to be getting the ball to him. Last week Ozil was behind him and directed the traffic. Today he was playing as a forward and there was no service from the middle. Wenger can’t expect Wilshere to do all of the heavy lifting when your opponents match up 3 v 3 in the middle. That’s how he picks up injuries.

  17. The only Arsenal player to come out of that with any credit is Cech.

    One would expect a substitute to make a difference or provide added energy or even pass the ball to a teammate once in a while. We will never get anything positive from Iwobi.

  18. Wenger has already ruined Lacazette. Welbeck has gone backwards and Iwobi should be out on loan somewhere where he can learn to make an impact.

  19. At this point I believe a midfield overhaul should be the next target.Xhaka elneny are really bang on average, they offer next to nothing both in the defense and attack. They both quickly pass back to defenders or give away the ball at the slightest pressing from the opposition. Cech kept lumping the ball to Aubameyang even though he was isolated and being beaten in the air everytime, why? Because we couldn’t play out from the back. Dembele singlehandedly bossed the midfield making Wilshere and co look very ordinary. 13 points in 14 away games is a ludicrous record. 6 points out of a possible 24 against other top 6 sides shows we earned our current spot.

  20. Hi ya, Wavey, @ 2:40 pm

    Never have Truer words been typed !!

    Arsenal played surprisingly well in the first half, before disintegrating in the second — but I think that disguises the fact we were playing way above our defensive norm and would not be able to keep that up, while the Spuds were playing well within their capabilities seeing what we were made of, and having seen we had no teeth – they let rip in the second half.

    ! : 0 did not tell the whole story – it could have been much worse — and because football is full of contradictions, if La Caz had a bit more confidence it coulda and shoulda rolled that ball in to make it 1 : 1 — and that would definitely not told the wholes story.

    Frustration is rolling off me – mainly because I cannot see how we can get out of this ‘same old, same old’ — because I know – you know – the whole world knows — the Owner has no interest in football and probably does not even know we lost — and could care less what fans who have supported the club for years can see needs to be done.

  21. We had as much or more technical skill and pure creativity in today’s line up then any team in the world. We have seen this for most of this decade and we are easy to defend against when we play st slow tempo. It’s one of the fatal flaws of what we do.

  22. Hi C,

    I see that Toral has scored for Hull against Notts Forest – and had one saved.

    I have lost track of a very good midfielder/right back — so, has he been chopped or is he still out on an interminable loan?

    I can see Maitland Niles going the same way — altho, with his speed, energy and enthusiasm he should have been playing today, ahead of bloody Xhaka the Shocker.

  23. Bill,

    Surely we play a slow tempo because of the kind of players we have, heck Cech and Mustafi can barely get the ball out of their feet in time.

  24. For an attacking team, the fact Arsene doesn’t put on his best 4 attacking players at the same time is beyond me.

  25. C,

    That is also true — but Iwobi coming on in such a high intensity match at Wembley looked overwhelmed by the whole thing, and was wearing a pair of left footed boots – but he is young and talented so can still make the grade — a lot of others do not have that luxury and are not going to improve.

  26. HenryB,

    Toral has been sold for about 3-5m to Hull. He has played well and I think we will see him in thr PL sooner rather than later.

    Maitland-Niles should have been played but it would certainly be a shame to see him go thr way of Toral.

    I’ll say this, we are a better defensive side with Elneny and Jack in midfield.

  27. A week from hell, market collapses, sick children, big fight with the ex and now a lame Arsenal.

    Of all these things I have to say the Arse is by far the most irritating and the low point. We play first 45 with defensive focus and have some good chances to counter that falls short within the final pass.

    Then we come out looking like sheeps while they come out like hungry wolves and we just submit and give them the game. Soft as kittens, without focus and clueless in defense.

    I can’t imagine what makes him want to continue. Getting his butt handed to him on a weekly basis, year after year and yet he wants to continue. How is that possible?

  28. rahl,

    You are correct — it is almost as if Mustafi and Cech are playing a game of ‘chicken’ leaving a pass back to the keeper, and the relieving kick from Cech until the last second — so unprofessional.

    In addition, both Iwobi and Bellerin seemed scared to take the ball forward down the wing, and constantly passed back, passed back, passed back – with boring predictability – just like Theo used to do — they must all be told to do it — Why??

  29. HenryB,

    Perhaps because we regularly play without a central target man, thus there is little point in getting beyond the fullback to loft crosses into the empty (of Arsenal players) penalty box.


    Today’s post.

    Yesterday’s photo:

    From Billy Budd, as you correctly spotted. Peter Ustinov, star, director and writer, played the head of a small nation in Romanoff and Juliet. The small nation was Concordia. Arsenal link is to club’s motto Victoria Concordia Crescit.

  31. C,

    Jack was always at the centre of what we were doing – and had the only decent shot I can remember, and Elneny was his usual quiet sensible self, but in such a poor team performance no one played well — and why AW does some things, or makes certain selections / substitutions is anyone’s guess, as it was obvious that Xhaka is just not the guy !!

  32. Toral and Bellerin both joined at the same time, Toral was highely rated. Injuries blighted is career and i guess the club did not fancy a Wilshere or worse Diaby situation.

  33. Orson Kaert,

    Hahaha, lol, yes, now I can almost see him living some sort of double life with strange women in weird outfits with leather and chains leaning over saying you’ve been a very naughty boy😀.

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