A week has passed since since ill health prevented posting. And it was probably the best week of Freddie’s short Arsenal managerial career to date.
Well, if he’s honest, it was the best forty minutes of his career. Thirty at West Ham where the usual lethargy found itself overwhelmed by Gabi, Pep and a few smiles.
Twenty minutes in Liege turned the night around and Vitoria did the rest. Not vintage but vintage was not required; getting the job done was.
So, as I say, a good forty or so minutes ahead of what is an entirely different kettle of fish this afternoon.
By their own high standards, City have slipped flat on their faces this season. If Liverpool don’t win the title this season, Devon Loch will finally rest in peace. The obituaries on Pep’s reign seem premature, however.
Last weekend’s defeat in the Manchester derby was their fourth this season. Wolves, Norwich, Liverpool and United were all well-organised and pressed consistently for 90 minutes. Those are the very qualities we lack during any part of a game, let alone from kick-off to final whistle.
Injuries suffered at West Ham curtail that ability further. Kieran Tierney is out for several months which means we are in bare bones territory at left-back. Raul doesn’t like January sales but he may have to get cosy with the idea if we suffer further calamity.
Hector Bellerin is out with hamstring twang and Granit Xhaka has concussion. Quite how they noticed…?
I suspect it leaves the line-up:
Leno; Luiz, Sokratis, Chambers; AMN, Guendouzi, Torreira, Kolasinac; Pepe, Ozil, Aubameyang
Three at the back isn’t the safest formation, especially with Bob and Sokratis, but we’re a rickety old ship at the best of times.
We shall see.
Taking Us Back To The 1970s
Mesut Özil embroiled the club in a ‘diplomatic’ spat with China, from which the club tried very unsuccessfully to distance itself. As the NBA found, the Chinese government is more sensitive to criticism than most and Arsenal is paying the price.
The club is obviously trying to protect its assets and commercial interests which were dented when the country’s state television station, ominously known as CCTV, abandoned its’ coverage of today’s match.
As with Hector Bellerin last week, the player attracted criticism for his views. Such is life.
However, I question what it is people want from players? Sanitised versions of human beings whose favourite actors are the Hollywood superstars and favourite meals of Steak and chips with Shakatak in the background?
If there are issues close to their hearts, they have the right to speak out, If you want to take issue, so be it but stifling debate is not answer. Nor is abusing them for speaking out.
Would there be so much criticism if we didn’t have so many problems on the pitch?
Back to today.
It’s a bit of gimme today so low are my expectations. Not that I excuse lack of effort or stupidity, I just don’t believe we’ll pull off the necessary effort and collective intelligence needed.
However, enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.