By Jonathan Blaustein
My wife is occasionally devious, though no one believes it, as she’s such a do-gooder- type. (Always helpful.) Jessie’s been a therapist for almost 20 years, and has spent much of her career working with abused teenagers.
So most people think she’s a saint.
They’re not wrong, of course, as she’s the best person I know. But as her husband, I’m privy to her deep secret, which is that she is not averse to manipulating situations to her advantage, or occasionally telling a white lie.
Just last night, in fact, she knew that Arsenal lost to Everton, but I had no clue. I’d taped the game on the DVR, and she accidentally encountered the score earlier in the day, but kept it from me, so I could experience the loss afresh.
She did the right thing, I guess. I certainly wouldn’t have watched the whole thing if I’d been aware of the shitty ending. I sat there on the couch, hoping, waiting, while she sat there, biting her tongue, holding back the truth.
Thanks, honey. I suppose.
It was one of those games that had a bad feeling about it ahead of time. Even though we looked amazing last week, I’ve learned in my 35 years of sports obsession that the hungrier team often wins the game, assuming talent is not a massive mismatch.
Everton had to break their bad run of form eventually, and Ronald Koeman told everyone who’d listen that he had Arsene Wenger’s number. He’s like Mourinho, if Jose became an albino Dutchman wearing a too-tight pea coat. (Yes, I’d love to see that. Photoshop anyone?)
Worry two came when Ozil missed that chance to go up 2–1. I said out loud, as you probably did, that things like that almost always come back to haunt a team. But then again, as the Gunners hadn’t lost in the league since the fucking SUMMER, I guess I also thought they’d find a way to win.
No such luck.
Tim does an amazing job covering the day to day of the club. And as far as analyzing stats, his forte, I’m about as capable as Donald Trump’s pick for (insert every cabinet choice he’s made so far.) What I bring to the table, every two weeks, is an attempt to look at the big picture.
To step back, if you will, and try to get a sense of the meta-story around Arsenal, and the league. As such, it’s a massive bummer that we drew Bayern Munich again in the Champions League. Sure, we can beat them, but this is the year we likely would have advanced against the Sevillas and Monacos of the world.
No matter how good AFC is this year, we’ll need a lot of luck, and when has Arsene had a surfeit of that? If he had luck, we wouldn’t have drawn Bayern. Right?
So thoughts of deep advancement in the tournament, commensurate with the quality of the squad, have been pushed aside faster than Eva Carneiro ran out to check on Eden Hazard that time he faked an injury. (Poor Eva. Life can be so unfair.)
Winning the EPL is still possible, of course, but by the time this article is published, there’s a good chance Chelsea will have a 6 point lead, which is not optimal. It looks like the hiding we gave them was all the excuse Antonio Conte needed to put Ivanovich and the other slowpokes out to pasture.
If Conte can run through the Euros with Graziano Pelle as his main striker, I do wonder when they’ll lose again, with a now-skinny- and-very- hungry Diego Costa banging in the goals. It’s weird how I hate Chelsea a bit less now because the Italian manager is so damn charming.
I’m optimistic in general, because Arsenal are clearly better now than they’ve been in years. But losing Mustafi just when we couldn’t afford to has such a whiff of Groundhog Day that I admit I’m starting to worry.
So far, my predictions have mostly been correct. I wrote that Oxlade-Chamberlain was about to take Iwobi’s spot, and that Ramsey would be the backup #10. I called, rather early, that Alexis had become Chile-Sanchez for Arsenal, and the league would feel his wrath.
Today, I’m sitting here wondering what will come next? It’s been so much fun, all the winning this autumn, but reading about the Ozil/Sanchez contract drama every day is starting to take the wind out of my sails.
With all the money in the club, surely they’ll just pay the men, as I recommended 2 months ago. But if Arsenal don’t win a major trophy this year, will the boys have faith in Arsene? It’s nerve-wracking, and I’m trying to tune it out, but as we just saw here in the US Election, it doesn’t take much to make a great story go horribly wrong. (No female President. Lunatic kleptocrat instead.)
Anyway, I think we’ll all have a better sense by next month. Make it through the Xmas season within 3 points of Chelsea, and I’ll feel much better. Watch that gap spread to 9 or 12, and it might be time to kidnap Alexis’s dogs so he’s stuck in London, no matter what.