Cruel Expectations..

They said they would start at 3:00 pm !You see this guy on the right?

I was like him on sunday. The only addition was that I had a peg of Jack Daniels besides me..

Every Arsenal fan has an expectation bar related to the club. If you consider the last few years, the season’s have been quite heart-wrenching. I personally know 2 of my friends who are fellow Gooners who take annual pledges (may start from October or even December) not to watch Arsenal games for a given time period, and post that “having the option” to watch them based on how the team is performing. They don’t do this because they are plastic fans. These guys have been supporting Arsenal for well over a decade, but sometimes it’s more important to look out for yourself over giving a shit about what the world thinks…

In the financial world, we use a term called “hedging” (it’s basically protecting your money from any financial harm) – well, in football and especially relevant to this context that is what Arsenal fans do. They hedge, by staying clear – against the heartbreak, the frustration, the repetitiveness, by moving themselves out of the equation.

A perfectly acceptable coping mechanism.

You will notice that I have not used the words “disappointment” while describing the typical Gooners sentiment to Arsenal. That is because it’s absolutely fine to be disappointed or embarrassed by a performance. This is football and its quite probable that if you face a world-class team, you can get thrashed OR you could be tactically outclassed or even wrongfully set up to ship in goals.

But there is a fine difference between getting disappointed and getting frustrated. The latter is toxic because it implies that the reason to get frustrated has occurred more than once over a given period of time.

Most Arsenal fans are frustrated since we have expectations at the club. For eg. 2 years ago when Leicester won the league, we expected Arsenal to challenge and win the league.

Did we come close to having our expectation fulfilled?

No. We finished 10 points of Leicester at 71 and 1 point ahead of Spurs.

Is it wrong to expect from your team ? Especially when you have a team that is worth in terms of transfer fees 335 million pounds (approximately) – I don’t think so.

As this season progresses, I cannot help but get a feeling that we have a long way to go ahead. We are in 4 competitions this year. But we are actually challenging for 2 and hoping for a top 4 finish. Thus, I have set up my expectations for Arsenal from the 2017-18 season.

The old me would say :

Win the premier league | Win the Europa League | Win the FA Cup.

But now, it’s slightly different. For starters, I am not drunk. Hence, my revised expectations are:

Top 4 finish | Europa League – semi-final | Win the FA Cup

We have the Europa League, we have the premier league and we have the FA Cup. 3 competitions we are focusing and fighting for – The premier league has 38 games, add to that 14 in the Europa League (if we reach the final) and another 6 games or so in the FA Cup. That’s about 58 games. I have not included the Carabao Cup because I don’t even consider it as a cup, but if you do, it’s safe to add another 5 games.

We are not secure defensively and we have not found our goal scoring form yet. Our last game vs Watford was a superb spectacle of my point above. Tak about holding it together for a bit and free-falling like a pack of cards. After Deeney put his spot-kick away one couldn’t help but feel Tom Petty’s free-falling playing in the background as this pathetic team sang to its tune. There are the 2 Manchester clubs which are looking better and better as each game progresses and the more time we lose in finding our rhythm the more likely we are to fall behind.

There are the 2 Manchester clubs which are looking better and better as each game progresses and the more time we lose in finding our rhythm the more likely we are to fall behind. United have conceded 2 goals in their first 8 games and City just shipped 7 past Stoke. Arsenal, on the other hand, can’t seem to get a grip on things.

A few weeks back we came off a world-class performance at Stamford Bridge and then Doncaster did an “Arsenal” on us as we struggled to ship in goals in a match where your first scoreline to bet would be 3-0 to the home side. Then we win a few games against sides which are playing shit themselves (no offence, we still needed to get the job done) – but these teams did not challenge Arsenal at all – West Brom, BATE and Brighton. 2 weeks later, we lose again.

It really is difficult for someone to assess how Arsenal is going to fare this season. But certain things are very clear – players are on the edge. There is no leader on the field that can communicate to these players to close the game, the manager is what he is and when shit hits the fan the players play like headless chickens i.e we have no clue how to react to adversity.

A true mark of champions. 

Before I finish this post, I just want to add what Wenger said after the Watford game :

‘Everybody’s shocked in the dressing room,’

no Shit Sherlock…

Add the word “world” instead of “dressing room” to that sentence and you would still be right…

Doncaster need this more than us…

Carabao Arsenal Team

A little history about our opponents before you read on, okay ?

They play in League 1, having been promoted last season from League 2. They lost their last home game on Sunday vs Scunthorpe 0-1 and over the last 3 seasons they have finished 3rd, 21st and 13th.

This game is not even a formality. It’s the Carabao Cup and this tournament will just add to the fixture list this year.

In terms of a hierarchy of competitions in order of importance and priority, I feel the order below is correct :

  1. The English premier league (or a top 4 finish)
  2. The Europa League
  3. FA Cup
  4. Not the Carabao Cup

It just doesn’t do it for me, number 4. It’s as good as saying that the community shield is a trophy like the Emirates Cup is a piece of silverware that every professional football team wants.

There are no stakes here. I hope to see Arsenal win convincingly and if they lose, our confidence in this Arsenal team will sink to a new low. I mean, if we cannot beat Doncaster(with no disrespect) at home, we should just forfeit the tournament.

In the event of us losing however, there definitely will be a bright side (apart from hell we will feel inside) since to be frank this competition is a burden on us.

The team should consist of the raw and unseen talent from the reserves and fringe first team players coming back from injury or hoping to get their season in motion – players like Jack Wilshere, Debuchy, Giroud and that idiot Walcott should start to give us some level of experience.

lineup (3).png

In reality this game is a confidence booster game and I expect Arsenal to perform well against Doncaster especially after the fundamentally strong defensive performance vs Chelsea last game. Keeping those same principles in mind we should approach this game in that manner.

Tickets are being sold as low as 10 pounds and still apparently nobody gives a shit – so it does give you some perspective regarding the expectations fans have at Arsenal. Sure, if we win the cup it’s going to be included as a “trophy” won however speaking strictly from a long term fundamental point of view this trophy won’t be significant.

Let’s just hope we get to see the Niles and the Nelson’s of tomorrow and have a good enjoyable game.

Predicted Score :

Arsenal 1-0 Doncaster. I don’t expect much, that way if we win 2-0 or even 3-0 I will feel happier.

 

Europa 101…

Europa .jpg

Arsenal welcomes FC Koln. today at the Emirates and let’s face facts over window dressing this – it’s not the ideal state to be in and contrary to popular belief – this club competition is not your Carabao Cup or another decorative trophy. We do not want to be in the Europa League, but we were more mediocre than the top 4 teams in England last season, so we deserve to be.

Games will be played on Thursday and most of the subsequent premier league games will be scheduled for Sunday. This schedule gets even more packed at the latter half of the season or “the business end” since we have other competitions like the FA Cup and the crucial Carabao Cup

The money aspect is minuscule as compared to the champions league. But winning the Europa League will give the winner direct entry into the champions league even if they do not qualify from their domestic league. Manchester United was smart to focus on this aspect and now they find themselves in the UCL despite finishing below us.

The bottom line that an Arsenal fan should not ignore is this – despite us not ideally wanting to be in this league, its gives a very good opportunity to do well and progress in it. It would help nurture younger talent and also allow Wenger to try some new styles with the team. Youth teams players can be given an opportunity to express themselves and build themselves up towards the first team. I am looking forward to seeing Jack Wilshere and Reiss Nelson start today’s game and it’s going to be interesting to see if Wenger tries to do something different – it is his first time too here.

Progressing throughout the tournament won’t be easy since we have a very long way to go before even reaching the finals. To put things into perspective, from September to December the champions league eliminates 16 teams and keeps the best 16 in Europe – these teams enter the knock out in February. It’s brief, short and sweet. You have the best teams in Europe playing here and Manchester United.

In the same time, the Europa League (Sept-Dec) eliminates 24 of 48 teams (4 teams 12 groups, with top 2 qualifying) with 24 teams progressing to the next round – the third place teams from the champions league group stage (8) join these 24 and collectively 32 teams play it out in February. From 32 teams, you have the knockout phase to eliminate 16 teams and the rounds continue until you reach 8 teams and 4 teams for the quarters and the semis.

It is a long tournament in that sense and it does become grueling for any team who is thinking of competing seriously about it.

Am I excited about the Europa League?

Honestly, I see it more as a platform to show and understand teams skill-set over an actual competition. Make no mistake about the fact that it is not easy to win. But yes, it doesn’t get my excitement to the level the champions league does (that being said, if we win I will be elated). This is of course, independent of the fact that we have a BETTER chance to win the Europa League than we have a chance to win the champions league – but I do feel the way I feel because I have this thing bad habit called “expectations” from Arsenal.

It is a hard pill to swallow, us here, and the likes of Liverpool and Spurs in the champions league. More so for Arsenal fans since this is our first (hopefully last) season in the Europa League and as once, long ago in the dark ages, our great manager did say

“if you eat caviar everyday, its difficult to return to sausages”

We are definitely not used to sausages, but a man’s got to eat what a man’s got to eat…

If you want to beat Chelsea, don’t be so predictable…

Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal and Oscar of Chelsea

The first real test for this Arsenal side is going to come this Sunday against a team which has revolutionalized the art of the 3 man defense and a competent and fully functional midfield.

When Conte got thrashed 3-0 at the Emirates last season, it might have seemed that he would not have an instantaneous answer to what the premier league had thrown at him. A three man defense may have worked for Juventus in Seria, but getting it right and effective in the premier league given the league’s pace and quality of football seemed out of reach.

But what he did in response to that Arsenal defeat was astounding and he deserves all the credit because his tweak from the 3-5-2 to a 3-4-3 formation made Chelsea win the premier league.

The man understood that attacking and defending are two sides of the same coin and one without the other is a dangerously short-lived team (one perfect example is Barcelona under Vilanova)

With new signings such as Morata and Bakayoko, Antonio Conte seems to be very serious in continuing his formation style of 3-4-3.

Make no mistake, this formation will stay and what makes the formation even more full-proof is the presence of players like Kante – something the world of football was missing since Makalele.

Arsenal line up for Chelsea game and the tactics to be adopted.

lineup (2)

The golden rule against teams like Chelsea, Manchester United or any other counter-attacking side is this :

DO NOT LOSE THE BALL. IF YOU DO, EVERYBODY GET BACK & GET THE BALL BACK!

Sir Alex Ferguson made a very astute observation regarding Wenger. I am going to paraphrase a bit from his book in which he spoke about the tactics he used against Wenger.

He said the best way to play against Arsenal is through patience and awareness. Patience is for waiting and not getting frustrated because if you are facing a team like Arsenal, it’s less likely that you will have more possession of the ball. Awareness is to make sure you “intercept” the ball and quickly break for the counter – the key to beating Arsenal is counter-attacking football. This is true. 100%.

Arsenal without the ball against a good counter-attacking side is as good as a group of headless chickens because when it comes to defending we may still be average (I am being biased since we are below average). But when it comes to “defending against counter-attacks” we don’t have any answer. It’s the only tangible weakness of this Arsenal side.

My guess is Conte will be ready for this. Not only will he tell his team to take the game to us (being a home game) but as a PLAN B, he will make sure his team is setup to counter – effectively.

The thing with games like these is that they have to be contested as a team and your marquee players performance will only help your team. Arsenal has to perform as one unit and if Ozil or Sanchez or Lacazette step up that’s a re-enforcement. The game vs Bournemouth was a feel good factor for Arsenal fans. It was like getting prize money at the casino worth 100$ after losing 500$ till then – the 100$ makes you feel good, but don’t get your hopes up, yet.

Tactically, I believe that Arsenal needs to keep possession (and will be allowed to some extent) and attack with 2-3 game plans. This includes crossing to Lacazette and others if needed, playing quick passes – long and short in order to get balls into the box and thus attempting to break down a resilient Chelsea defense. Simultaneously, however, Cech must be protected.

The key, however, will be to defend strongly when Chelsea attack – be it counter-attack or normally. Kante will be hungry to nick the ball of any of our midfielders to start countering so nullifying him will help us immensely. Ozil needs to step up and maybe draw Kante out of his natural position in order to allow Ramsey & co better passage. Xhaka needs to be more aware and another lack luster performance by him can actually see him benched in the future. Players need to maintain their shape, even if they lose the ball. The Barcelona pressing system is something which won’t work very well against Chelsea becuase they prefer to distribute the ball and attack in numbers, so it’s better if we preserve our energy till it’s needed and not run the risk of losing our basic formational structure. We should play a 4-3-3 and this shape should not be compromised under any conditions. This is my opinion, but Wenger may opt for the “defensive suicidal formation” 3-4-3.

I have my doubts about this structure and the only reason I do so is that it takes more than 2-3 months for a team to get used to this formation completely. We have had pre-season and 4 games to do the same. I am going to do some research on this and publish another article regarding the loop-holes in the 3-4-3 or the 3-5-2 and why some teams are better off without it, so I shall come back to this later.

Overall, this is going to be one tough game for Arsenal. If they win, their confidence will sky-rocket because beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge is nothing close to easy.

Get the tactics right, get the mentality of the players set and keep the shape and discipline (even if you want to play the 3-4-3) – we can do this if these 3 things are addressed and win.

If not, expect another cricket scoreline this week

Liverpool 4 – 0 Spineless FC

Alexis

Let’s just try and be objective about what happened at Anfield on sunday.

Arsenal’s lack of organization is something I will talk about in detail in my next post. This is something that  I have called and foreseen a long time ago. It really does appear to be coming true (how I wish I was wrong).

What we witnessed on sunday should be made into a DVD and shown to children in football academies of what you should never strive to do. It was pathetic and Wenger as usual in his post match conference, when asked about the reason, conjures this :

That question is very difficult to answer straight after the game. There are some reasons but I don’t think I have too much to come out on that at the moment.

Really ?

Can you not call it like it is. That the defense lacked organization. That we needed to adapt quickly to the first goal and we didn’t. That the players seemed off and that we needed to have a better game plan.

No. Instead cite the “good” performances vs Stoke (we lost) and Leicester (we just won)

Last season I said that after 30 games. We’ve played three games, one at home and two away. In our two first games we were quite good and performances good. Today was not acceptable. Today was not acceptable at that level.

Good ? or Lucky ??

To those people who saw the game on sunday, my heart goes out to you. We played so badly that it’s hard to digest a performance like within the first 3 matches of the season.

This is the Arsenal, or what’s left of it. So bloody disgraceful.

ANALYSIS :

For today’s post, I have decided to do a quick summary analysis of the way these spineless turds played on sunday. To compare, I have listed out what Liverpool did in each situation also.

Please be warned if the photos are not very clear, this was my first time with a camera.

The below figure shows a Liverpool side where each player has a rough idea of where his position should be.

img_0220.jpg

It is important to note here that Liverpool does not have possession of the ball and thus this is the default (without the ball) set structure of the team i.e a 4-3-3 or a 4-5-1 depending on the situation.

IMG_0217

The above figure is when we were trailing 1-0. Liverpool now has possession of the ball. Look at the formation. What exactly is this?

Seriously, what exactly is this?

5-4-1 or a 4-4-2 ??

Who knows where Alex Chamberlain is?

Not his fault though, he has not been instructed properly. Just told to ‘do your best’

5 mins later, we have this…

IMG_0222

Just look at the clueless Bellerin ball-watching, not even aware of the full-back calling out for a through ball. Just look at the space!

Now, it should be noted that Arsenal has shifted to a 5-4-1 and they were trailing at this point with no threats to the Liverpool goal (excluding Welbeck’s sitter) Liverpool, on the other hand, has still kept their structure(a little stretched), despite being the ones in the lead.

Liverpool, on the other hand, has still kept their structure(a little stretched), despite being the ones in the lead.

Yes, Mr. Wenger. A 5-4-1 when we trail 1-0…did you ever think about switching from a 3 man defense to maybe a 4-3-3 or a 4-4-1-1?

2 mins later…Arsenal tries to attack.

Liverpool does not have the ball, just look at how they setup/re-shuffle accordingly. All Arsenal players are marked via zones. For 6 Arsenal players there are 6 Liverpool players on screen (barring Mane who is still tracking back)

IMG_0225

Sanchez has the ball, but there is nobody fucking available. Why ? Because Bellerin is strolling around near him and if I am not wrong, Xhaka is chatting up with the Spaniard. The only 2 people trying to do something is Ozil and Welbeck, but given the brilliance in their positioning Sanchez can’t seem to find anyone free.

1 min later after Arsenal loses the ball and Liverpool attack…

IMG_0228

Mane is free. The defense for some reason has become narrow. It looks like the formation and changed to a 5-2 something. Chamberlain has no clue who is at the back of him. Bellerin is again ball-watching. This was a similar position where he was caught out and could not deal with an incoming tap in (missed) by Salah (thank you, Petr Cech).

When you lack organization and instructions the above pictures are what you get. School boy defending and a shambolic shameless performance. There is no leader at the club and there is no will.

Arsenal’s will probably finish 8th or 9th this season given the way they are playing and while this is pretty disgusting it is the most realistic thing which fans should get tuned with. This is not going to be our season, in fact, I do not know what will be our season. Don’t put your hopes up and think a comeback is on…the problems lie at the heart of the team and in its structure and formation. If you send a navy seal unarmed vs someone who has a gun, no matter what seal training teaches you, the latter has leverage.

Arsenal right now is the navy seal (actually even worse, they probably have no training) and the season is the armed man.

In the words of Tyrion Lannister, yes, sir, we are truly

“fucked”

I feel sorry for myself as well as other Arsenal fans…

Polar Bear Face Palm

I post seldom these days. But forgive me for not being so regular when there is nothing actually concrete to talk about. And when I say nothing concrete I mean it with my entire heart (fuck the bottom).

I read other posts pondering what to make out of articles. Irrelevant articles written with no objective or purpose. Its not that these blogs are bad, they are good, but I mean come on, you have to have something to happen for you to  blog about.

At Arsenal, nothing is happening or as we Indians would say : Ghanta ho ra ha he ( It wont make sense if you read it in English, you need a hindi accent !)

The rubbish in the media is something to behold. I mean, normally we classify some reports as ‘jokes’ but sometimes when you read garbage like ‘Suarez to Arsenal, is done in principle’ one feels like telling the author to just go fuck himself.

But lets forget Arsenal for now. (This will be easy as there is nothing to remember in the first place)

Lets go global with the rise of power in France most notably from 2 clubs who quite frankly nobody gave a shit about(actually some people still considered PSG a threat) till last year. AS Monaco have spent roughly 125 million pounds acquiring an arsenal of talent for themselves – Falcao(52.8), Joao Moutinho(22), James Rodriguez(39.6) and Jeremy Toulalan(4.4) most notably apart from Abidal whom they got on a free transfer. The other powerhouse represent Lique 1 champions PSG who have slashed out 55 million for Edison Cavani, 27 million for defender Marquinhos and 13.2 for Lucas Digne.

PSG will pose as the main threat in the champions league and under manager Laurent Blanc they are expected to cause a few upsets having been unluckily eliminated from the champions league last year against Barcelona.

Manchester City having learned from their mistakes last year have gone and spent roughly 100 million pounds acquiring and replacing players. They learnt from the hammering United gave them last year by signing ‘Jesus’ himself, followed by Fernandinho, Negredo and Jovetic, the latter 2 being brought in to replace Balotelli and Carlos Tevez. United on the other hand have responded well by signing Guillermo Varela, a 20 year old Uruguayan fullback.

Liverpool and Arsenal are in the same situation as last summer, the only difference being Arsenal are now doing the dirty business by bidding 40+ for Luis Suarez, the Cannibal. As a player even I would be an idiot to say no to Suarez. He is to Liverpool what Van Persie WAS to Arsenal. But as a person its will be difficult to adjust to defend him. Especially if he comes to Arsenal having said that the reason for him to leave Liverpool is the English media. But I don’t expect this transfer to go through because I don’t see Wenger tabling a 50+ million pound bid for the player.

Wenger has his eye in South America where it has been widely reported that he will pay 21 million to acquire 20 year old midfielder Bernard from Atletico Mineiro. I have never heard of this player, so I will comment on him after I see him play. Correction, I will comment on him IF he EVER plays for Arsenal. And come to think of it, I guess I will be with-holding my opinion on him for EVER.

Chelsea have made some shrewd signings this summer, most notably their manager – Jose Mourinho, who I expect will provide some shape and balance to the team. This is very important because a team without a shape is like a building without pillars. One of the best examples of a team with proper shape and balance last season was Bayern Munich, and looked what they achieved. They also have Lukaku who to be honest is like a surprise package in my opinion. For West Brom last season he was brilliant, now imagine how much he can achieve with the players that surround him currently. Chelsea have also acquired other players such as striker Andre Schurrle, GK Mark Schwarzer and midfielder Marco van Ginkel.

Also in the news, David Moyes  continuously goes on bidding for Fabregas. This transfer seems very unlikely and practically speaking Moyes should go for Fellaini, a man who can actually provide stability to the United midfield. I am not saying Fabregas is bad, all I am saying is that I don’t think he will come especially after his move to Barcelona from Arsenal was compared to a soldier returning home from war !

Speaking of Manchester united, their ex-talisman player Wayne Rooney seems to have taken a stand in wanting to be sold this summer. This is the best time for foreign clubs to capitalise on the situation, and if Rooney does move its probably going to be to Spain. Well, I hope it is, because if he moves to Chelsea as I have heard they have already had an initial 23 million pound bid rejected, then all the clubs in the PL are fucked.

I wont blog often now. I mean, what am I supposed to write on – Arsenal’s possible transfer targets ?  Why Arsenal need this man ? Or should it be why Wenger should do this or that ??

I rather see turtles racing than see Arsenal doing something in the transfer market. The former is so much more interesting as compared to the latter which IS non-existent at the moment.

I have better things to do than waste my time speculating that this and that will happen. And I rather gladly do them.

Ciao

DKD

73-72 = 25 million in the bank. Happy St. Totteringhams Day to all.

cl_trophy Arsenal

I haven’t written for a long time, and honestly it has bothered me. But for Arsenal there should be something to write on and unless I find that posts in this blog shall remain rare. Now since, the season has drawn to its penultimate end, let me just throw out my opinion on the events of this season.

Arsenal finish 4th and celebrated as if they have won the champions league. I understand why the players celebrated the way they did after the Newcastle game. Getting 4th was immense for the club, and everybody including me had written them off. I for that matter, was so angry that I didn’t want them to qualify for the champions league, at least I felt that way then.

I supported the team in every match though, it was just that I told myself to accept the fact that we may not get 4th this season. The way I saw this as was not finishing 4th would  force Wenger to make drastic changes to his rigid policies.

I saw the last game of the season with my Dad, who often doesn’t watch football with me, but we have the occasional banter about Arsenal. He really likes to pull my leg because I’m an Arsenal fan. I started shouting when the Walcott ran towards goal and struck the post. People in the house thought I had gone crazy.”Come on, run Theo, run, finish it, finish it, come on, ahhhhhh”

It was a hard fought victory over Newcastle, a mere 0-1 result, but that was enough. And my MOTM was Laurent Koscielny who I feel the club must hold on to under whatever circumstances.

Sir Alex Ferguson is retiring. And honestly, I am sad. I disliked him because he was in charge of United, but my respect for his immense. He is a benchmark for what managers should strive to become. He is more than a Mourinho, because of his continuous loyalty towards one club. And he has won everything.  United did things in style this season, and the league was wrapped up when they established a 12 point lead over City.

I strongly believe that the quality of any team not only starts from the basics but also getting the job done in a consistent manner. My point can be well illustrated with an example. Manchester United grind out wins. Sometimes at Old Trafford, they come under a lot of pressure. They perform badly. And YET, despite all this, they grind out a 1-0 or 2-1 result. Sometimes they don’t even concede, in spite of playing in their own half for a good part of 90 mins.

And this is what Arsenal did for the latter half of the season.

I have a little stat which really commends this Arsenal team. We lost to Spurs at White Hart Lane, on 3rd March, 2013. Since then, Arsenal have played 10 games, winning 8 and drawing 2. That is 26 points out of 30. Respect.

I still think if Wenger does what he did last summer we won’t challenge for anything next season. And when I say challenge, I mean posing a realistic challenge. There is a chance he may do that, although he comments that they will be ‘proactive’ in the summer transfer window. But, haven’t we all heard that before.

In other news, I may be off to Seoul, Korea in a few days time, but when I come back I’ll start blogging regularly for next season. This year has been extremely busy and there was nothing to look out for as far as football was concerned. That is, apart from the champions league final between Dortmund and Bayern Munich.

I’m supporting the underdogs, just as those neutral people reading this post are. Human instinct, can’t really help it, can I ?