Back in Business: Brighton Review & Fond Farewells

Before I start on the meat of the day, many thanks to all for the good wishes sent in recent weeks. Apologies if I haven’t replied to emails sent but I’ll get there; honest, guv.

It’s hard to know where to begin, even harder to reconcile the European form with the limp and insipid Premier League performances. The goals against column brings forward an acknowledgement that football existed before 1992.

Yesterday’s point against Brighton wasn’t enough for a top four place. An eight-goal swing in goal difference on the final weekend of the season isn’t going to happen, underlining just how costly the defeats at Wolves and Leicester were, not just in points dropped but those goals shipped.

I haven’t forgotten Palace. Of all the recent Premier League travails, that one sits squarely on Unai Emery’s shoulders for the team selection and Shkodran Mustafi’s for the mistakes. The coach under-estimated Palace and over-estimated our squad.

Yesterday was as careless a performance. Weeks ago, the gift of an 8th-minute penalty at home was the cue for a comfortable win. Not yesterday. We were uninspired and not driven by the prospect of a top four finish.

The attitude reminded me of the opening twenty minutes on Thursday night. Yes, we had good opportunities and who knows what would have happened had Mkhitaryan’s shot cannoned off the post into the net. But beyond that? A couple of Aubameyang chances and Lacazette’s strong penalty shout at the end?

We owed more to Leno’s excellent save as Brighton sought to heap more misery upon us. Gross’ miss was worse than anything Aubameyang contrived throughout the ninety minutes.

Of course, Brighton’s goal was a case of loading a 12-bore and firing squarely into our defensive feet.

Highlander Resurfaces

Thanks, Granit, for the thoughtless tug which gave Murray a solid opportunity for an equaliser which he didn’t waste. What possessed Xhaka I doubt even he knows and I’m not going to speculate on it. Mainly because my imagination isn’t that vivid.

Disconcertingly, Unai reacted slowly and late in the game to the laborious performance. The coach praised earlier in the season for his dynamic substitutions seems genuinely perplexed by events unfolding on the pitch in recent games, particularly domestic matches.

Thirteen minutes remained when the Spaniard made his move. Too late to impact the match, particularly when the creative element is misfiring. Ozil, Iwobi, Mkhitaryan; none are consistent when it comes to assists, less so with goals. We’ve fallen back into the trap of not providing enough goals from midfield in recent months.

Constant rotation doesn’t help. Not playing regularly makes it tough to generate form and confidence. Emery’s natural conservatism isn’t helped by a defence which is desperate to undermine the team and successful at doing so.

All this points to a busy summer for the club’s recruitment team. Monchi’s decision to return to Sevilla threw a massive spanner into the works and heaped pressure on Raul Sanllehi. Quotes attributed to Marc Overmars didn’t help; his view is that there can be only one boss. How well will that sit in an Arsenal hierarchy already split down the middle?

Not that transfer activity is the sole solution. Unai Emery must impose himself of this squad. We’re sorely lacking in leadership, confidence, and just about every other attribute successful sides possess. He inherited a slack set of players and there’s little evidence to suggest anything much has changed nine months on.

Of course, everyone is telling us we don’t have the money to give the squad the radical overhaul it needs…

Caps and Legends

Yesterday wasn’t just about the match; we said goodbye to Danny Welbeck, Petr Cech and Aaron Ramsey.

Welbeck is the kind of player we will seek in the summer transfer market but hopefully one who is more clinical in front of goal. And less susceptible to the bad luck which marred Welbeck on the injury front.

Cech’s time didn’t coincide with the upturn in fortune we hoped for but he probably sussed that out when he was the only new signing during the summer of 2015. John Terry claimed he would “save [them’12 to 15 points a season”. Ladies, gentlemen, if Cech managed that, we were truly buggered and didn’t realise it.

That Cech is still highly regarded at Chelsea underlines what a genuinely nice bloke and good professional he is. That esteem reminds me of John Hollins who was similarly well thought of despite moving across London. Cech’s sheer decency shone through when Ryan Mason suffered a head injury and unprompted the Czech reached out to offer support.

Which brings us to Aaron Ramsey. A mismanaged contract negotiation or brutal reality; the manner of his departure is irrelevant. His performances underline that he will be missed.

He still divides opinion and I think history will judge more favourably. Three FA cup winner medals and two winning goals in those finals? I’d say that makes him a legend. Add in his recovery from Ryan Shawcross’ blatant thuggery as well as the impact of other injuries on our form and his importance cannot be dismissed.

Goof luck to all three in their future careers.

‘til Tomorrow.

47 thoughts on “Back in Business: Brighton Review & Fond Farewells

  1. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Welcome back Yogi & like a strong Arsenal defensive performance , you’ve been sorely missed.

    Yesterday was kind of typical of later year Wenger performances in that when the pressure came we didn’t have the necessary to perform. This group of players seem to be able to perform pressure free but once we looked likely to claim top four the wheels came off.

    It appears that we’re similar to Man Utd in the way that a change of coach & ideas seem to have made little difference ultimately. The issue is certainly the players & like YW states it looks unlikely that there will be much strengthening over the summer. All those grounding years appear to be almost certain to continue until something changes regarding ownership.

    Whilst Cech & Welbeck have disappointed I’d like to state how much I admire Aaron Ramsey. He certainly had his ups & downs but the class & maturity he’s shown this season will mean the player about to peak will be sorely missed.

  2. nicky says:

    Welcome back Yogi. We old codgers have all been on the back foot during your enforced absence.
    Now stir up our juices once again with pithy comment and watch us regenerate!

  3. Master_Gooner says:

    Welcome back Yogi. We have missed the daily dose of good read about Arsenal from you, thank God you are back.

    Our recent collapse is not unconnected with Ramsey’s injury just to show how important he’s been in our team, also Emery’s team selection/substitution has been awful recently, then calamity Mustafi at the back doing what he knows how to do best – committing unforgivable errors. I hope he’s not going to be part of the team comes next season.

    Welcome back once again and I wish you good health.

  4. Bill says:

    Great post yogi. Welcome back.

    Not sure what to think about the terrible run of form while you were away. I desperately want to give emery the benefit of the doubt and the reality is we are outside the top 4 because that is what you would expect given the talent level in the squad. However emery deserves some on the blame especially with regards to our miserable team defense. Who would have ever thought that our defense would have been every bit as bad this season as it was under Arsene. Other then PEA, Lacazette we have no one else in the squad is a threat to score a goal and none of our midfielders are a threat to create an assist. Other then our 2 forwards and may be Torriera I don’t think there is any player on the squad who would get regular minutes for any of the worlds other big teams. I don’t know what we can expect from a Bellerin when he comes back next year but we have to completely rebuild our defense. Jury is still out on Torriera but our midfield is a mess and I hope we can somehow offload Xhaka, Elneny Ozil Mkhitaryan and iwobe. Guendouzi might be good someday but the fact that he got that many minutes this season tells just how much we lack in midfield talent.

  5. consolsbob says:

    What can one say? We have been dismal over the run in. I no longer have any idea as to whether Emery is our answer. We have been so awful, really bloody awful.

    Our eggs are firmly in one basket, the more difficult one now, it seems. Just a little more effort would have seen us comfortable in the top four. Spineless is the best word that I can find. If Ozil cannot even turn up for a match like this then I can no longer find any excuse for him. He must go. Miki too. Utterly lightweight. We need fighters first. I confess, being away in Italy, that I assumed the Mustafi gave the pen away but it was another bloody idiot.

    I have no idea where we go from here. Fat Stan will decide. Little hope, then.

    Glad you have bothered to get off your sickbed to give us a voice again!

    Small mercies, Stuart!

  6. C says:

    Absolutely enjoyed the read and glad that your health has returned!

    Xhaka was very poor yesterday, it was shocking because it wasn’t just the mindless decision but his passing and overall decision making was shambolic.

    Ramsey, well a player I never truly fancied and the club not meeting his demands, I can understand why given injuries and consistent form. With that said though, he has been an excellent servent and scored both spectacular and big goals. Wish him nothing but the best at Juve.

  7. Buckagh says:

    Welcome back YW, and future good health,
    Good Post,
    there really is fuck all more to say about these latest performances from the manager and the excuses we call a team

  8. Jonnygunner says:

    Booooom!
    Welcome back YW-you’ve been badly missed mate👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻⚽️⚽️⚽️

  9. Bill says:

    C

    You and I have debated a lot about Ramsey and I am a big fan his more direct style in our midfield as opposed to the ball possession players. However, realistically you can’t blame the club for not paying the wages needed to keep him given his record of recurring muscle injuries. He is going to be 30 years old soon and his ability to stay fit is unlikely to improve as gets older.

    On another topic, I thought Nacho’s penalty winning performance yesterday was every bit as artistic as anything Harry Kane, Dele Ali or Mo Salah could have given us.

  10. C says:

    Bill,

    Agreed! I am not the biggest fan of Ramsey vut he was finding form with structure and he and Ozil were starting to show what they did in Ozil’s first season but injuries again robbed Ramsey. I hope he does good at Juve, I truly so and thank him for all he has done for Arsenal during his time.

    Disagree mate, Nacho got tackled on the side.

  11. Pete says:

    Welcome back YW! It’s good to hear your voice again.

  12. Blue Yonder says:

    Good to see you back, Yogi. You’ve been sorely missed.
    Something we haven’t missed is Arsenal’s propensity for giving lacklustre performances when the chips are down; it’s been on display and at the worst possible time.
    I know it’s ridiculous to say this, but – are they trying to get the manager fired? If not, they’re giving a good imitation of it. Although a number of changes are needed it will not be easy moving the likes of Mustafi, Ozil and Mkhitaryan and almost impossible to get a decent return on investment. Even if the money was there for the kind of investments needed, it won’t help until the dead wood has been removed. Tough job ahead but, at least this time, it isn’t on the shoulders of just one man.

  13. Bill says:

    C

    If the same tackle that brought Nacho down would have won a penalty for Spurs it would have been a dive. Our preconceived bias causes us to see a play like that the way we want to see it.

  14. gooner in oz says:

    So glad you’re back Yogi. Hope you are now feeling better.

  15. nicky says:

    Those who are now ready to castigate manager and team for recent poor performances, should remember that only a few months ago, Unai Emery and his de facto Arsenal teams were given at least this season to re-group and develop.
    Patience is not a simple virtue for many of the more fickle Arsenal supporters.
    We are unaware of the restrictions (particularly monetary ones) imposed on
    Unai by the Kroenkes.
    I feel that all should await the Summer Window business AND next season’s
    progress before coming to any firm conclusions.
    In any event, we are still poised for entry into the lucrative CL next term and team and manager may still surprise the doubters😎

  16. Pete the Thirst says:

    Welcome back YW. I trust Arsenal’s fine form has replenished your health!

    Despite the mess over the past month Emery deserves another season to fix the problems. He still has the Europa League for redemption. Surely a final against Chelsea will bring the players out of their shells?

    There are some real issues in the squad:

    Ozil, Xhaka, Mustafi & Mycky need to be moved on. Doubt it will happen.

    Leno, Sokratis, Holding, Kolasnic, Bellerin, Torreira, AMN, Guendouzi, Lacazette & PEA are a good base to build on.

    The team needs defensive reinforcement plus goals from midfield and a wing threat.

  17. Bill says:

    I have defended Emery all season but the terrible finish to our league campaign certainly looks a lot like the last couple seasons of the Wenger era and it raises a lot of uncomfortable questions. That said if we win the Europa league he will salvage the season and even if we don’t win I think we have to give him one more season. However, next year has to get better or it will be time to start considering a change

  18. C says:

    Bill,

    I call bullshit.

    The last 2 seasons we have been utter tosh and finished the season with a whimper. Last season we finished 12 points off 4th and didn’t really have a chance in the Europa after Kos’ massive error.

    This season, we have battled to a chance at 4th, have a 2 goal lead in the semi-finals of the Europa League….all this while losing Bellerin for damn near most of the season, Holding(who was looking like he was settling in) and Kos missed most of the season not to mention Emery implementing a new system. I would actually say there are WAY more positives then negatives ESPECIALLY when you consider how dreadful the club ss a whole have been the past couple of seasons with Emery trying to undone both play AND culture at Arsenal.

    People feared we would do a Manure when Fergie lefr there but instead, Emery has actually built a base heading into a summer that could could possibly be on the back of a Europe League crown. Maybe its just my futbol naviety and belief that anything could happen but 8 goal difference…would anybody be surprised if Everton put 5 past Spuds given their injuries and suspension?

  19. lari03 says:

    Greetings YW sir. Happy to read your thoughts once again. I’m glad you are stronger now.

    Somehow I feel the squad depth was responsible for Sunday’s draw, with the game in Spain on Thursday, Maitland Niles and Kolasinac had a good rest. The game was going well until Xhaka jinxed the outcome.

  20. Paulie Walnuts says:

    We may be better taking a hit & paying a percentage of wages to move Ozil, Mikhi & Mustafa on as it’s inconceivable that anyone will pay them what we do.

    At least we could use the rest of the wage on new blood instead of having the three of them coast through another 2 or 3 seasons.

    Either that or make it clear to them that they’re not part of our plans. That would leave their future up to them – stay & stagnate on the same money or move & lose money. Not a great choice but Arsenal need to be tougher when negotiating.

  21. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    Great to have you back YW. Hope you are fully recovered and fighting fit.

    I agree with Bill, the penalty was a tad soft and Nacho may have bought that one!

    I agree with C in that 5th or 6th is realistic of where this squad of players, manager/coaching staff and owner/management are. However, the only anomaly to that theory is Nuno Espírito Santo and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Yes they finished below us in the league, but they’ve done the double on us. Had a decent cup run and finished in a potential Europa league spot. With a squad that cost a third of the price of our bunch of misfits. I’d even argue that we’re falling into that pack of clubs fighting for Europa league as Everton, Leicester and Watford aren’t that far off us. Teams that have given us a good hiding this season. I fear for the future of our club.

  22. Bill says:

    C

    I have defended Emery all season but this end of the year complete meltdown certainly raises a lot of familiar concerns. Conceding at least 50 goals again, including 9 goals in 3 games when we were in the drivers seat in terms of a top 4 position is exactly why we all wanted an end to the Wenger era. I thought Emery had figured things out from a defensive standpoint when we had that run of clean sheets which took us into the top 4 but even the most optimistic fan has to be concerned about Emery after he added 5 of his own defensive players and the team still conceded as many goals as any season during Arsene’s reign.

  23. Bill says:

    We have been fortunate in terms of how poorly ManU, Chelsea and Spurs have played. They all tried their best to gift us the top 4. I think one of the biggest debates we had for the last couple of seasons has been answered. Many of these players were not struggling because of a lack of coaching direction. They need more then just to “coached up.” Their real problem is the baseline talent level has either faded with age or never was that good in the first place.

  24. Michael says:

    Good to see you back in the saddle, you were sorely missed… big time.
    I think we need 2 more windows, to see if Emery is the man, unless he messes up. Ok things haven’t gone how I would have liked, that said he has had a lot to do, and not a whole heap to work with.

  25. E says:

    Great to see you are back Yogi, and back on form too 🙂

  26. Jonnygunner says:

    Let’s hope that none of the Valencia players watched that Liverpool comeback last night……

  27. Gooner Reg says:

    C,

    I fear the bigger surprise would be us actually winning at Turf Moor and by a handsome margin!

  28. C says:

    Bill,

    Honestly, we all knew that our defense was shit and that hasn’t changed. Sure we kept clean sheets but everybody has been saying we need upgrade our CB’s all season and that hasn’t changed. Kos and Mustafi has ALWAYS had mistakes in them and Sokaritis has shown that his aggressive style can also be a detriment to the team. Leno, has been superb and without him, we would have conceded so many many more goals. Torriera has improved us and Guendouzi isn’t a defender but a box-to-box type.

    Sure we conceded the goals that put us out of the top 4 and AT the same time, our form in Europe has seen us defensively more solidby those same defenders. Its weird more than anything.

    The thing that people wanted from Arsene was to buy a CB, I think Emery got pieces and will probably address CB this window but he couldn’t fix everything in his first window.

  29. Kenny says:

    Welcome back to writing ACLF, YW.
    I wish you sound health henceforth.
    I am at a loss as to what the club will do to make the team better.
    Something is just not right.
    Most people know what but have no power to correct it.

  30. Opus says:

    Welcome back YW, glad you feeling stronger. ….and we are in the finals, congrats lads!

  31. Dukey says:

    The yogistar is back . hopefully for good. Yogi your style… is identical to none.

    How nice to go through properly, none of this lucky surviving three sitters and scrapping through on away goals rubbish.

  32. Arsetralian says:

    Dukey,

    Absolutely
    A European Final
    Fantastic
    Let’s hope the team that actually seems better this season setting up to defeat the big teams can deliver again
    Double the prize
    Double the jeopardy
    Already nervous Turkey!

  33. Mattack says:

    Welcome back YW. This morning is the first time this week that I haven’t been actively seeking out Brexit stories rather than football ones…

  34. C says:

    Absolutely brilliant stuff! Off to Baku.

    Outside of the 10-15 mins, there was little doubt we were going through and it is only fitting that Yogi returns to health just in time for a performance like that taking us to a final.

    I know Aubameyang was sublime, but you can see why Lacazette is so important to Arsenal and why he won Player of the Year.

  35. Bill says:

    Thanks for opening the comments yogi. Is there any reason the comment section can’t stay open instead of closing?

    Great result yesterday. I was worried when they got the early goal but Pea and laca are pretty good. Asking them to score enough to compensate for our defense is not a strategy which will ever bring us consistency or help us compete with the worlds other big teams but it worked yesterday. Hopefully we can win the final and get back into the CL and rescue the season

  36. C says:

    Bill,

    Have you come around on Lacazette? He not only scores and creates goals but does so at the biggest moments when we need something.

  37. Bill says:

    C

    Lacazette has been good this year and his ability to make something “creative” happen in the final 1/3 is impressive and has been very important. We basically don’t have anyone else in the squad who can do that. However, he still needs to score more goals. We only have 2 players on the squad who can score and Pea hits age 30 before next season and he is unlikely to get better as he ages. Lacazette really needs to score more then 13-14 league goals in a season if he as an individual player and the club hope to take the next step to a higher level.

  38. G4E says:

    Don’t understand how anyone can doubt Laca or Auba’s abilities. Those are two of the best strikers that many clubs would dream to have.

    We must MUST keep those two for as long as we can and build the team around them.

    ** I’m so bummed about Ramsey, the club messed up this one so bad, it’s criminal. I think Ozil should be the one to go, Ramsey should have got the No. 10 shirt, the Captain arm-band, and the big wages.

    I love Ozil, but his contribution does not match his pay and I think Ramsey LOVED this club more than he does.

    I hope Ramsey will come back 2 years from now to claim his Arm-band and retire at Arsenal, just a hope…He deserve it.
    ***

    We will win the Europa League, all indications says so…..I will say why later.

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