Friends, Enemies and Xhaka: Money is the Root of all Evil

Our summer dreams are in tatters, or so it said here until the headline was updated at 9.12am. I’d tell you our dreams are in ‘taters. Ploughing fields in Shenley may seem extreme but planting a crop or two is the way forward. We can make a bob or two from the farmers’ markets around the M25, which is more money than Enos will be investing in the club this summer.

Money, however, is desperately needed. It’s long been accepted the club’s budget is limited; £45m is the received wisdom, plus whatever is raised in sales. I started writing this post as a football equivalent of Snog, Marry, Avoid but it became quickly evident I can make a case for selling most of the squad. Finding buyers is not so easy, especially for the underperforming high-earners.

Yes, Mkhitaryan and Özil, I am looking at you.

A cheap shot, I confess, but cutting the wage bill is as much a target of the summer as signing Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser. The Scot is a good example to choose; to some, this summer is likely to be underwhelming. Speculation is rife that the previous speculation about who we were keen on signing changed with Wednesday night’s humiliation. In other words, there is speculation about our speculation.

I don’t know that pop will eat itself but the football media certainly is showing cannibalistic tendencies.

Losing to Chelsea stripped the emperors of their new clothes. Vinai and Raul talk well but can they walk? We won’t know for certain until we’re unable to achieve any of next season’s ambitions but surely you can wait until September before passing judgement…

The mood is as grim in the dressing room as it is in the stands it seems.

With Friends Like This…

Granit Xhaka put the boot into Unai Emery, according to a report after Wednesday’s final. He dissected where we lost the match but he couldn’t, however, say if we improved during Emery’s first season in charge:

I don’t know. I’m not the right person to give you an answer about this.

Granit Xhaka hands in his transfer request

Which begs the question as to who is “the right person”. If one of the players cannot give a straight answer about the state of the club, we won’t get anything from anyone else. Xhaka, despite claiming he has “a contract” at the club, is one of those I expect to leave if a Champions League club comes in.

He appears to have no love for the club, not one shred of determination to improve Arsenal or even an admission that he enjoys the easy life Arsenal provides him. Just a contract, a bit of paper which is worthless in football.

The self-financing model means we are the English equivalent of Ajax, Porto or Benfica. Selling players is our lifeblood and has been for some time; we just haven’t been very good at it. However, there are a lot of players in this squad who flatter to deceive as much as Xhaka. He clipped the bar on Wednesday but in the second half, disappeared quicker one of David Copperfield’s stooges.

Our reality makes a mockery of the reports claiming we are one of Europe’s elite. We’re only there because of a prime piece of real estate; the only reason, of course, Enos bought into us. He’s a money man and the money is all his, man.

Making A Rod For Our Own Backs

The Emirates is the biggest lie of all. Sold as a way of making us competitive with the genuine elite, we’ve slipped further behind. Mismanagement by Gazidis and the board, as well as Enos. Scared of Wenger, they failed to revitalise the club with a new management team.

Gazidis, in particular, proved to be a snake in the grass, scuttling off to Milan. Arsenal subsequently lost Sven Mislintat, a man eulogised but whose results in the transfer market were patchy at best. He appeared brilliant but the truth was less prosaic.

The bar for comparison is very low; £35m for Mustafi is the worst piece of business since we signed Francis Jeffers as a ‘fox in the box’. Given the intervening years saw no-hopers like Campbell, Chamakh, Silvestre and Squillaci, purchasing Mustafi was a spectacular failure at every level of the club’s management.

It’s going to take a lot of money to put this right and according to Safe Hands, not enough is going into the squad. When diplomatic Yorkshireman – a contradiction in terms, I know – David Seaman lays into the club, you know it is serious.

Give him some money. Give him a transfer window. There have been two transfer windows that have gone by and he’s had nothing. The board need to back him or otherwise, we are going to be left further behind.

David Seaman on Arsenal’s woes

What more can you say? It’s an unholy mess and there isn’t much confidence around that Arsenal can put it right.

’til Tomorrow.

39 thoughts on “Friends, Enemies and Xhaka: Money is the Root of all Evil

  1. Great post Yogi

    Xhaka is not a defensive mid plain and simple. He is good at spraying passes to wings and he takes a good corner kick but his limited mobility and inability to move with the ball at his feet means he can’t play as a box to box or an attacking midfielder which leaves only one midfield position. Unfortunately he is a defensive liability and we can’t afford to have a player who is a poor defender playing the position of DM.

    Regarding Emery, I think he deserves some slack and I hope he gets one more year. He inherited an extremely undertalented squad which Arsene built with the idea of playing a passing/ball possession style of football that no one whose name isn’t Pep can make work in the PL. I am not sure anyone could have done more then 5th place and Europa league final. All that said the end of the year mental and physical meltdown and the inability to improve the defense even a little raises some gigantic red flags and if Emery’s performance does not improve next season then it will be time to move on.

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  2. We’re not going to make progress behaving like a big club when we don’t have the backing. That delusion got us locked into £350k pw for a star in decline and forking out £50m+ for a pacey striker in his late-20s. Starting to think Jan 2018 is going to run summer 2016 pretty close in the shitshow stakes. It felt like loss chasing at the time, and is looking worse after 18 months.

    Normally you’d want to keep a team together for the sake of cohesion, but there isn’t any so it doesn’t matter. If we do have any sort of scouting system I’ll be up for selling whoever and seeing what we can find under the radar. LFC 2011-2017 is our model, as shameful as that sounds. We’ll may end up signing a lot of duds, but maybe enough will come good to build something.

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  3. “The Emirates is the biggest lie of all. Sold as a way of making us competitive with the genuine elite, we’ve slipped further behind”. Wake up or grow up. Yes it was the initial hope that The Emirates would do us competetive, but the ground shiftet under our feet, and there was nothing we could do to stop the influx of dirty money all over the game.

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  4. Bearing in mind that we never seem to sign the early names in the window, Ryan Fraser would be a Liverpool deal from six years ago wouldn’t he? He’s had one good year, which might presage future growth and might not. No idea about an outcome, but the deal would be roughly equivalent to the Scottish guy from Blackpool in 2011, or Henderson, or the Welsh bloke from Swansea in 2012, or Carroll, or Stewart Downing: A youngish British player that we can easily flog to West Ham or Everton if he doesn’t work out.

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  5. dont know about fraser, but id take maddison from leicester to replace rambo.
    dont mind the look of that kid at palace either at RB – wan kinobi or whatever his face.

    all that being said – i think weve got enough talent coming through the ranks in smith rowe and nelson

    if weve really got no dosh to spend then i would be all up for going all bundesliga and promoting a bunch of kids and actually playing them together – selling off whoever we can of the top earners to raise more funds and spending the whole lot on someone like gareth bale to play with the kids for a few years

    we need a proper superstar in this team, someone who can actually do something to change a game – not a pretend one who cant do bugger all else but pick a pass.

    city, liverpool, spurs have a full team of players who can pick a pass as standard.. liverpools and citys GK’s can pick a pass as standard.

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  6. JJ,

    I think a well-drilled attacking team will always look like it’s filled with good passers, even if a lot of the actions are by rote. I think that’s the case with LFC, and also spurs on their better days. They’re just purring machines, with a few players who would look average in other teams. City of course, who are packed two deep with intuitive passers in every position.

    But like, if you look at the players who are considered great passers:

    They either have great footwork or a brain that sees everything much earlier than everyone else. The ultimate playmaker is Michael Laudrup, who perfected that foot-switch thing. Xavi will always be known as a passer, but was also an insane dribbler over short distances, enough to work space for a pass.

    To be a great playmaker it’s not enough to have a good pass if it isn’t matched with some other extraordinary quality. Which brings us to Xhaka…oh god I can’t go on. I can’t stand watching 9/10 of our players and he’s the worst.

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  7. i like the way klopp has liverpool set up.

    three dynamic mids with three destructive attackers and the threat/creativity/assists comes from both wingbacks

    they dont really play with 10s.

    city are similar but with more emphasis on creativity.

    liverpool are just explosive.

    i dont know what the fuck we are anymore – we lost our way under wenger with boring arse sideways shit but our football baffles me sometimes under emery.

    it changes every week but our 10s dont do fuck all so we cant control the game, our wingbacks cant beat an egg or cross a hot bun so we usless out wide.
    our cbs are about as much use as a cock flavored lollipop so we cant counter attack and our best midfielders off on a free with our second best midfielder a 19 david luiz lookalike so we cant get a grip of the midfield battles.

    gks not bad and our strikers have gelled and won us games by themselves. but thats about our lot

    need a major overhaul but got fuckall to spend becuase of years of mismanagement, which ended desperately splashing a shit load of cash we did have on shite players we cant shift.

    100mil on mustafi, xhaka and ozil. plus wages. feck – klopp built his entire team on that and sold a player for 150mil.

    thats another sign of mismanagement – our best players walk away on frees or half price. everyone elses best players go for world record sums.

    we got so stuck in a bubble under wenger and gazidis telling everyone what the reality should be that we missed what the reality actually was and shot ourselves in the bollox for the next 1000 years.. twats

    shame really

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  8. Is it a coincidence that the great Arsenal teams of the past had spirit and backbone in their defence and that today’s under-achievers have none? Adams, Keown, Campbell, Dixon, Seaman and Vieira (among many.) No.
    Is it also a coincidence that, except for Vieira, all those players were English? No.
    I believe that many British players would give their eye-teeth to play for Arsenal and would raise their game accordingly, whereas those from other countries come for a variety of other reasons (most of them self-serving.) They want the accolades of playing in the best league in the world – although many go home with their tails between their legs. They want the money Arsenal and others thrust on them. Some want the soft life. To them I would say “Have a nice day (somewhere else.)”
    If we aren’t going to be competitive for some time anyway, let’s bring up some of the youngsters, supplement them with additions from closer to home and sell anyone we can.
    Among those to be sold I would include Aubameyang. At his age and coming off a golden boot we could realize some decent coin in a sale; coin that could be ploughed back into the team – or Uncle Stan’s westkit, whichever comes first.

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  9. JonJon

    Welcome back. Yes I agree that we should not make the mistakes of before and pass up on Allegri. The reality is that he will pass up on us as he won’t accept beer money for his transfer budget.

    Yes, plenty of shite: I would keep the following – Auba, Laca, Papa, Matty G, Lucas, Ainsley, Bellerin, Leno. I would listen to offers for the rest. Kos and Nacho have been absolute warriors for us but their time is over at least as first-teamers. I really like Danny but his injuries mean that its a huge risk to keep him. Maybe build-in a pay as you play element in his contract.

    I am not convinced by Emery and have had doubts for a while. I didn’t rate him particularly at PSG and he has barely moved the needle from a 10yr past it Wenger with a better albeit still shite squad.

    The problem is that he is about our level – a top 6 club going nowhere. If we can sell the shite and reinvest there may be some hope. We certainly have enough wages-wise its just that the money has been poorly used. Look at what others are doing with far less than we can release.

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  10. JJ

    What makes you think the Guendouzi, Nelson, Maitland-Niles, Smith-Rowe are going to be any different then Walcott, Bendtner Denison, Iwobe, Oxlade, Ryo Myachi, Sanogo, Afobe, Akpom etc etc etc etc? I understand the idea of blowing everything up and going with project youth 2. Realistically, we don’t have a chance to compete with Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs, ManU etc if we go that route. We might even fall behind Wolves, Everton etc. If the young players we are counting on don’t live up to the hype then we start missing the top 7 and drop out of Europa league or even further down the table.

    No other English team in this century has had success with building a team around a bunch of academy players. Arsene’s project youth 1 came as close as anyone and the top of the table was not nearly as competitive then. In 2007 We basically did not have any legitimate competition for the top 4 . If Klopp’s success with Liverpool is our model, other then Alexander Arnold I can’t think of any players they promoted from the youth ranks who play important roles.

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  11. If we really are going to go the “project youth” route then we can’t expect Emery to improve the team next season. The likelihood is our results will get worse before they get better no matter who is the manager. If that is the plan then we need to commit to Emery for a longer term and give him a chance to build the team as its players mature

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  12. @Bill

    >>> Regarding Emery, I think he deserves some slack and I hope he gets one more year.

    I think it’s clear by now that Emery is not a long term team builder for EPL. With that in mind, another year with him would be a waste of time. It may be harsh and not all his fault, but he is not what we need.

    I would also mention that every new manager gets an initial performance bounce due to players being more concerned about their futures and being more motivated, and the opponents being more cautious. Now, when this is over, and after the end of season collapse in the league, where would the progress in the league come from? Tactics? Better training methods? Young players? Clever transfers? Have we seen any indication thereof?

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  13. SV

    I agree that Emery is not the answer but who could we get that is better (on the assumption that Allegri won’t come)? He might makes us marginally less bad in a year and then hopefully we could get someone else.

    This is Arsenal – they won’t sack Emery after one poor season when they let Wenger have 10.

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  14. SV

    I am not sure emery is the right manager and if someone who is really better comes available then I would not have any problem with changing managers. However, I don’t think that is going to happen and I don’t think we can make a realistic judgement about Emery after 1 year.

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  15. Klopp had some success with building a squad using players promoted from the teams academy in his first few years at Dortmund. If anyone could have done it in England he would be the man. However klopp didn’t even try to go that route at Liverpool. In 2019 I don’t think it’s a realistic option if your objective is to compete with the top 5 or 6 clubs in England

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  16. bill
    project youth is constantly a revolving door, just like signing experienced pros.

    weve got a youth set up, it has always been thus

    some will stand out, some will be shit, it has always been thus.

    now, back under wengers reign, if you want to call it project youth 1, we actually had a choice not to go that route, but wenger did – and fucked it – then with all the money we saved we made a desperate dash to sign players so he could go out with a bang and we fucked that and bought some donkeys.

    as a consequence – after a few years out of CL and over 100mil spend on shite we actually have little choice now but to go with project youth 2, if you want to call it that, until we raise some funds again.

    theres nothing to say going with the likes of nelson et al, will be the answer, but theres nothing to say there isnt. for every senderos we had an adams, for every bendtner we had a rocastle, for every denilson we had a cesc for every sanogo we got an anelka

    unless you play them you dont know, wengers mistake was he kept playing the shit ones even though everyone knew they were shit and selling the best ones on the cheap as a result of them running their contracts down and moving because they didnt want to play with the shit ones anymore. wenger fell on his own sword

    emery doesnt have that time, but he doesnt have that money either. its all gone so we might as well say we are back at square 1. hes falling on wengers sword. oh suits you sir.

    hes gone a year with this team – he cant afford another year with this team he needs to make changes – with 40mil, who the fucks he going to buy whos going to drastically improve the squad.

    we need about 7 players – sometimes you have to go with what you have and if all you have is the kids then why not.

    look at Ajax, look at dortmund. they played a shit load of kids for a season and everyones talking about the likes of sancho, de ligt etc going for 70 , 80 , 100mil after 1 season.

    if they are good enough they are old enough and if they are not, then youve lost nothing, youre in the same position as you were last year only youve got a proper excuse of missing out on Cl and getting twatted in finals.

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  17. trent alexander arnold and joe gomez are key players in klopps squad and they are kids

    half his defence came from the youth teams allowing him to spend 75mil on the best CB in europe.

    he got robertson from hull.

    sounds easy dont it.

    teams do it all the time.

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  18. You interview candidates for a job, and one of them impresses with his detailed knowledge of the future tasks and a plan of needed improvemenrs. The candidate gets the job. After one year, the plans do not materialize. If you keep the person in this position, it’s only because you are lazy to admit your mistake and look for a replacement.

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  19. Some comments here that we should have been making a long time ago.

    The fish rots from the head. Remember? Kroenke is the key. Everything else is just embellishment and then only if you accept the antithesis of sport that modern football has become. Baku showed us everything about that we need to know, UEFA, Arsenal and the loss of any form of romance in the game. It is done, finished.

    From now on it is just money moving pieces about a board. We are being discarded. One day Arsenal will be moved again, maybe to win the ‘Treble Quadruple ‘. Who can possibly care?

    It is dead. Romance and glory is dead. Just the fools gold of ‘success’ is left, whatever the fuck that means in 2019.

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  20. What do you do with soneone libe Oezil? You freeze him out tryibgbto get rid, or you try to get the best out of him on the pitch. What did Emery do?

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  21. Gooners need to be careful of what they ask for. Stop stepping on Emery’s neck and blaming him for this shit show. He may tell the tell the board and Kronke to cough up more bucks, or I’m outta here and leave you with Mustafi! 😰

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  22. With $40m we can get 2 new players
    One LB and one CM

    After selling we should get Frazer too

    Leno is good

    Bell can play in 4 and actually get up and down to offer width
    Sok/Holding will have to do with Bielik/Mav learning
    We need a new LB who can play in back 4

    We need 2 CM to protect our defence which has patently not happened this season
    Strong fit commanding please – Watford guy dacoure? Torreira to partner or guend
    Then AM from ES-R willock or ozil as staying

    Laca CF

    Iwobi Nelson Pea and Frazer

    Rest sold let go
    Surely we get 40 for must and Xhaka?

    Blend of youth 2 and experience

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  23. @Damon

    Your right, Klopp didn’t have the super money at Dortmund but neither did Emery prior to his 1.5 year stint at PSG AND he was dealing with consistently having all of his best players sold and little if nothing brought in.

    I’m not taking ANYTHING away from Klopp but this annointment of him being so much greater than Emery and he is winning everything simply isn’t true. Lets also look at what both took over when they arrived in England. Klopp had a Liverpool side that was simply underperforming under Rodgers but still had the likes of Countinho, Firmino, Sturridge(he was still fit at that point), Milner and others and he took over and released them to go and play with owners who were and still are willing and ready to invest. Emery took over a decaying club that had only known 1 manager for 20 years and was tasked with changing club and culture with an owner who doesn’t invest.

    Lets see what happens next season shall we because in year 2 with investment Klopp got 4th. Given where we were last season, the fact that the world over knew our defense needed help and that was before Holding and Bellerin went down, not to mention NOBODY thought we would even be in a position to get 4th(just think if our defense was average enough in any of the last couple of matches) or make the Europa Final.

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  24. Why not chase Sarri from Rennes or grab the CB from RB Leizepig or the lad Hermosa(sp?) from La Liga who Madrid are only not buying back because they have Varane, Ramos and the lad from Portugal.

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  25. A load of our problems lay with our CB’s(and I mean ALL of them) ability to be consistent and our FB’s (not named Bellerin) inability to put in a final ball. Look at the Europa League Final….how many times was Sead(I love him but his final ball is either inch perfect or worst than watching U5 futbol) and Maitland-Niles in space with time and put in shit with our front 3 all waiting for a decent ball into the box?

    As far as our midfield, guve me Guendouzi and Torriera and we have a base that has brilliance ready to grow and shine. Guendouzi is the type of midfielder that flourishes in modern futbol: smart, always available, a dribbler and able to not only defend but link defense to attack quickly but more important than all of that, finds soace when it looks like there is none.

    What we also need is consistency and I think that could come under Emery. This notion he can’t do it in the PL, is crazy after one season. Wherever he has gone he has won and developed.

    The biggest problem no matter who the manager is will be Kroenke and rather he will back Emery like we have seen from every club in the top 10 or not.

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  26. we can hate on kroenke all we like, ive never been his biggest fan
    but the truth be told over the last 3-4 seasons weve seen 100mils pumped into this team and our players can earn 350k per week. our strikeforce of two players cost 120mil alone

    think about that for a second.

    then tell me the problem hasnt been managerial.

    kroenke doesnt want to pump funds into arsenal – nor did he have to – the self sustaining model makes us enough money. or it made us enough money to compete

    the problem before was managergial – he couldnt get the best out of players we bought.
    theproblem now is managerial. he hasnt improved them.

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  27. JJ,

    For me the crux of the problem is structural. I’m not convinced by Emery, not least because of the style of football we’re playing.

    But he’s a head coach, and clearly all-consumed by that job, and can’t be expected to perform without a DoF. He’s never done it before. From what we’ve seen and heard he’s all about match preparation – that seems to be his 80% of his job, and only has part say on other matters. I could be wrong doubt he’s going to be off watching our youth teams like AW was, for example.

    I suppose it’s understandable that things went off the rails with Mislintat etc in our first year trying to make this new, modern management structure work, so I’d be interested to see the club settle into a period with this structure in place and all roles clearly defined.

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  28. C

    We had Torreira and Guendouzi all season and they played more almost 4400 league minutes between them. Despite that our midfield was just as disorganized and susceptible to counter attacks as any of Arsene’s teams. The idea they create a solid base seems like another heavy dose of the over optimism and ignores what actually happened.

    Based on what we have seen this season Torreira and Guendouzi are not true defensive midfielders and neither of them score goals or create assists so they are not attacking midfielders. They both fit better in the same position as a high energy box to box role. If we plan to use a 3 man central midfield we probably need a real defensive mid and an attacking mid who can create goals and assists playing with either Torreira or Guendouzi

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  29. “He (Emery) is disappointed of course. Him, the players, nobody speaks in the dressing room,” Xhaka said.

    Emery does not get which were his most important games. He should have been furious after dropped points to Everton, Wolves, Leicester, and especially after Chrystal Palace and Brighton. A point or two more in those games, and Baku would have been an after season friendly.

    Emery gets his priorities wrong. The rebuild starts in the domestic league, not in Baku.

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  30. Worth noting though even WITHOUT Mustafi, we capitulated to 4 goals.

    After Mustafi lost his way against Palace, some were enthusiastic about a back 4 with Koscielny and Sokratis.

    What did we get? 3 goals against.

    Blaming Mustafi is simplistic. It goes beyond just Mustafi (or Xhaka or Ozil). Even Torreira hs made several poor mistakes over the season. Lost the ball for the 4th goal.

    We cannot obviously change the entire team let alone even a fraction of the team without diluting our now likely more meager spend in the summer.

    Something-else is a problem clearly beyond just the usual scapegoats.

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  31. He switched to a back 4 second half against Palace and Mustafi’s game went to shit.

    But he persisted with it against Wolves without Mustafi and we were still shit.

    And we did that for the next several games too.

    We had plenty of opportunity but we spurned them.

    To think we only needed say Aubameyang to put in the opportunity against BHA to finish above Spurs. For the matter had we won at Wolves (with Sokratis-Koscielny), we would have been above Chelsea…never mind Europa finals.

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