There & Baku Won’t Be Easy Thanks To UEFA Farce

Only UEFA could wreck the joy of reaching a cup final. Even by their standards, the choice of Baku as the host city for the Europa League final is a clusterf*ck; 6,000 tickets for each club out of a 68,000 capacity stadium is unacceptable even when mid-ranking teams are the finalists but when two of the best-supported clubs in the competition fight their way through? Madness

Avoidable madness as well. According to The Times, the limits were imposed because Baku airport can only handle 15,000 passengers per day. How did the city get picked with those ridiculously low limits? Calls for transparency are likely to go unheeded but the rationale for this lunacy must be made public when the other competing cities were Istanbul and Seville. Not that the ticket allocations would improve…

There’s a submarine hire company in Scotland dusting off their forty-one-year-old prized asset ready to help solve the problems with flights.

Some will argue that Henrikh Mkhitaryan is karma, revenge for Serge Aurier’s visa application being declined by the Home Office on the basis that he was a crim. I’m not sure if he’s still a crim because I cannot be arsed to look it up.

UEFA cannot insist on the Azerbijan government issuing Mkhitaryan with a visa – and there is going to be probably be some horsetrading somewhere along the line – but a very real threat to remove the final and give it to Wembley would surely solve the issue?

As for last night, where to begin? It was a good attacking performance overall, helped by the quick response to Valencia’s early goal. Unsurprisingly, it came from a counter-attack. Our vulnerability is like an American Express card: we never leave home without it.

Nor should we forget to pack Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s toothbrushes. Ever.

Heads You Win

The Frenchman was pivotal, proving the recent vote to name him Player of the Season wasn’t rigged nor the sentiment misplaced. He was a thorn in Valencia’s side all evening from the moment he won a ridiculous header to create the half-chance for Auba’s opener.

At this point, a hat-tip to the Arsenal social media team…

Aubameyang’s finish was superb; a half-chance on the edge of the box, slammed into the neto (chortle). To everyone’s relief, it shut the BT commentary teams squawking up for a while.

The ghosts of Peter Jones and Bryon Butler spin in their graves these days. These were men who thought nothing of sitting on the top deck of a double-decker bus in Eastern Europe before the Iron Curtain rusted and got on with the job. Savage and Darke reminded me of Les Dawson and Roy Barraclough as Cissy and Ada.

I digress. The equaliser relieved the hosts of some of their enthusiasm for the task of retrieving the deficit. To be fair to the defence, we dealt with the questions posed relatively comfortably.

And then scored a second, richly deserved by Lacazette. A nice shuffle in the box to give himself space and a strong finish into the bottom corner of the Neto (Now that’s enough of that. It wasn’t funny first time around – Ed).

Back came Valencia, Gameiro’s second which was bafflingly simple to score as the defence tried to prove they used Right Guard by raising their arms everywhere. They didn’t follow the striker into the net nor did Maitland-Niles keep up with the offside trap.

He made amends ten minutes later when he surged toward the byline to deliver the perfect cross. Auba timed his run perfectly to slide in the third.

I’ll See Your “On A Hat-Trick” and Raise You…

While Darke and Savage growled and grunted about Gameiro being “on a hat-trick”, Aubameyang quietly went about scoring his with a powerful finish into the Neto – you’ll be relieved the goalscoring finished at that point so the crap jokes can stop.

If only we could find partnerships around the rest of the team to match that of the strikers; talk of a title challenge wouldn’t be so fanciful. However, there’s a lot of money involved before we can even begin to think about such things. And let’s face it, Enos would rather that went to the bottom line.

There were quite a few positives, however, from last night for us to build on. That we didn’t crumble when Valencia opened the scoring with the early goal before responding displayed more character than the performances against Wolves, Leicester and Palace combined. It’s not proof we’re improving in that sense, just that there is something there to tap into.

With a few stronger characters in the dressing room, who knows?

Those thoughts are for the summer. Unai Emery praised the team for the wins in Napoli and Valencia in his post-match press conference. We need one more big game from the team when they face Chelsea.

’til Tomorrow.

21 thoughts on “There & Baku Won’t Be Easy Thanks To UEFA Farce

  1. Thanks YW. Good to see you back.

    There must be something about his coaching style that just works in this competition. Or maybe knockout football in general. I remember that EL final against Liverpool and thinking how tactically sophisticated Sevilla seemed, when that was a side that hadn’t won a single domestic game all season. I don’t want to jinx it, but I’m sort of feeling comfortable that he’ll have a gameplan for Chelsea (whether or not we win).

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  2. On the Baku business, I don’t think the visa will be an issue at all. Apparently exceptions have been made for other Armenian athletes in the past. The issue is security, whatever that might mean.

    But the low allocation is ridiculous. Istanbul or Seville would have been wonderful places to attend a cup final, cheaper, and more accessible. When Baku develops greater capacity at the airport, they can host a final.

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  3. Top stuff on the back of 5 straight EL matches where we looked in control and at times dominant no matter what happened during the match.

    Lacazette and Aubameyang are simply sublime. Just think, in 2017 people laughed at Arsenal for vuying Lacazette and praised Manure and Chelsea for buying Morata and Lukuka 🤔.

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  4. All four of our goals were pretty brilliant. The route 1 first goal was so unexpected and deflating of both Valencia players and supporters. One long ball, an unlikely header forward and an amazingly quick and unorthodox strike. Wonderful stuff.

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  5. Glad your in growing toe nail has healed up YW….fucking slacker.
    Oh how I wish we’ll bury Chelsea-not just scrape past them in the final.

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  6. Great review Yogi

    Awesome result and hopefully we can rescue the season with a Europa league title. Lots of legitimate questions about Emery and this group of players but this trophy and a return to the CL would change a lot and would make this a successful season. Our defense has been poor and our midfield has been devoid of any difference makers and totally underwhelming on defense and attack and both need to be rebuilt. Fortunately our 2 strikers can sometimes compensate and hopefully they will carry us to the title and back into the CL.

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  7. Wonderful result and 7-3 overall in a semi-final is outstanding. If only the PL away games could be played in Europe…
    Arsenal are quite capable of beating Chelsea and could/should have won both games this season. But we’ll have to see which Xl shows up in Baku.

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  8. I watched the Chelski penalties after our game and was thoroughly enjoying it for awhile. Irritating they got out of that hole but I think the sentiment is right. We should have a good game plan, we can beat them and I am back in UK week of the Super Cup in August so really hope we do!

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  9. Chelsea will prove to be stronger than Valencia. That doesn’t mean the blues cant be beaten. The thing is if Emery plays Cech in the final that will be a disadvantage.
    Maybe the Spaniard will revert to Leno.
    In football you cant be a romantic.If Arsenal depend on their 2 main strikers
    for goals I can forsee trouble. In the losses games against the foxes,wolves and
    Everton out 2 guys were tightly marked.
    Hopefully Emery can rise up to the occasion and secure a win .
    COYG

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  10. I would like both clubs to make a stand and refuse the chosen venue.
    For once they should put the fans first.
    And if Liverpool and Spurs took a similar stance, Uefa would have to listen.

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  11. LSG,

    It just seems wrong to me that where a Final is played between two Clubs of the same country, both sets of fans should have to travel to a third country in order to watch the game.
    Some years ago, fans of (I think) Man Utd and Chelsea had to travel to Moscow to attend a similar Final.
    I know that venues have to be set when the competition begins but surely common sense should prevail. 😎

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  12. nicky,

    Common sense would suggest that it can’t be changed because the thousands of tickets held by non-supporters were sold or given much earlier and arrangements have been made by the time the finalists are known. What seems like common sense is that a city with such low capacity to accommodate air travel on the far eastern edge of UEFA’s territory makes an unsuitable host city. Istanbul or Sevilla we’re both much better options.

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  13. You may be right, in which case Uefa should cease designating host cities for Finals until the later stages of the competition. After all, it doesn’t happen that often that clubs of the same country will meet in the Final.
    Because it is nothing short of scandalous that fans have to traipse to neutral cities purely in order to watch their chosen team perform. In such cases the host city can only interested in making the mighty dollar.
    And cynic that I am, I wonder what is involved in selecting these host venues.
    LSG,

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