There’s no way of doing a Likely Lads anymore. Pubs full of TV screens, phones pinging every few minutes amid chatter about City “blowing it”. Only sleeping all afternoon and evening allows you to enjoy the flitting between matches on Match of the Day.
Or if you like watching the raising of hopes and rapid dashing of Scouser dreams.
I’m not sure how I’d feel as a Liverpool fan, yesterday and this morning. 97 points to finish runners-up. One defeat all season. That’s tough to take but you’d feel proud; gutted and irritated by the draws as well. Missed opportunities.
Which is something we’re familiar with. Beating Palace or Brighton put us in the top four but we cocked it up. It wasn’t even magnificently, just tepid performances and individual errors. Missed penalties also cost the team and individual dearly. Missed opportunities.
That’s a theme we carried on yesterday. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was the shaving of a post and the angling of a boot away from winning the Golden Boot outright.
He scored twice and for once it’s great to write about a defensive error gifting us the lead. Auba’s ruthless finish emphasised Mee’s sloppiness. His second, an equally impressive and emphatic angular volley, reinforced PEA’s reputation as a finisher. The ball from Iwobi arced through the air with Aubameyang watching it all the way before giving Heaton no chance.
Burnley’s goal…of course they scored; it was an away game. The defence is the major area of work this summer. Mavropanos needs a season on loan to bring him back up to speed. He is a promising defender but he desperately needs game time.
Where There’s A Willock, There’s A Way
Unai must be wondering why his rotated teams couldn’t win earlier in the season. Only PEA and Nacho remained in the XI from Valencia yet barring a thirty-minute spell in the first half, we were comfortable. How did that come about? Burnley on the beach?
Maybe Koscielny steadied the ship when Mavropanos went off injured after half-an-hour. That’s harsh as it points to Dinos as the cause of the uncertainty and he certainly wasn’t. The XI was rejigged so much that Emery could have picked nine from the crowd and got a similar performance in the first half.
We’re beyond worrying about that. Baku takes all the focus now in a defining match for the season. There’s been plenty of talk about Emery getting a “free pass” this season; if we beat Chelsea then he gets one next season in my eyes as well.
That won’t sit comfortably with some. However, there is a great deal of rebuilding to do in the next three months and while the suits may possess the will, will we have the funding? If ever a club needed quick action to prove purpose, it’s us. That said, I’m not expecting too much if Edu is taking over recruitment as well as his other duties.
We shall see.
The Young Ones Are Baku
Emery pointed toward a different future while talking about Joe Willock’s impressive performance:
We need to use the young players. Aaron Ramsey started playing here when he was young and every player can first take chances and after use these chances to get improvement to be with us. Today for example Willock and Eddie Nketiah played 60 mins and 30 mins and used the match to help us with a good match for both. Our responsibility is to give them chances and find the best performance as a team. Young players at Arsenal in the past and present need to have the opportunity to be with us everyday in training and after they can show us if they can play with us in matches.Unai rebrands Arsenal ‘Kindergarten FC’…
Nketiah and Willock did enough to seal their place in Baku rather than Danny Welbeck. The latter hasn’t played for six months. No matter how ‘sharp’ they think he is, that lack of match fitness is a major issue. That and the small matter of him being a free agent this summer.
We want to win the Europa League but must also give preference to players who will are the club’s future not its past. I am aware of the hypocrisy contained in the following, however. Cech in goal doesn’t bother me. If you question his professionalism in a final, you are mad. He’s not going to throw the game just because he will be a Chelsea coach in the summer.
And if Aaron Ramsey were fit, I’d play him. So my theory about the future is a little skewiff; I didn’t claim it was perfect…
Emery is giving the players plenty of rest time ahead of Baku, with the Spaniard set aside next weekend for carnal lust:
We will train three days in London and then next weekend we will have it off
And on that puerile note, I’ll sign off.