Is zero a real number or imaginary? Does zero not exist on the axis of both the real numbers and the imaginary numbers? So what is zero? Is it just a special number, one that is able to straddle the complex and real planes? The intersection of both the real and imagined? Or is zero a nothing?
What is nothing? What thing do we make much ado about? Nothing? An o thing? She has an o thing between her legs? She has nothing between her legs? Do we chase endlessly after the nothing? There must be more to this than the nothing. Eventually all of us become the nothing.
Wasn’t the nothing the thing that threatened the world in the Neverending Story? If I am fighting the nothing am I Atreyu or Bastian? I think I’m Atreyu, a character in a story, a hero, someone who is destined to save the world from the nothing. But maybe I’m just a kid in the attic reading a book about another guy who plays football for a living. It makes about as much sense as anything happening here right now.
Isn’t this a nothing? This thing we are doing here today? Playing a game against Manchester City? How can I save us from this nothing? I already created the goal for Theo Walcott, what more can I do to save us from this nothing?
Have you ever read Momo? It’s another book by Michael Ende, the human who wrote The Neverending Story. It’s a book about a little girl who saves the world from the time thieves. These thieves, the Men in Grey, entice humans to “save time” and put it in their bank where they can earn it back later with interest. Once you enter into contract with the men in grey, who all wear bowler caps and carry briefcases, you spend all of your time worried about “wasting time”. Since you’re trying to save as much time as possible, you don’t want to waste time. Any time-wasting activities, like taking a long walk with your dogs and just enjoying the English countryside, is abhorred.
Time is all that we really have. But we really can’t worry about wasting time. Because if you do that, you end up wasting time worrying about wasting time. It’s a catch 22.
What am I doing here?
Am I wasting time?
I could be playing with Atom and Humber. Instead I’m playing with Özil and Coquelin. And we are outclassed yet again by a big team. PSG did it to us, twice. Man U. Liverpool. Even Everton dominated us just a few days ago. And now Man City. Guardiola. How did bringing on Sagna change the game so much? How did Arsenal go from a team who were playing pretty well in the first half to a team which saw almost none of the ball in the second? And didn’t we want to win this game? I mean, once Sane scored their equalizer, why couldn’t we get back into the game? Worse, what happened to Arsenal as a team who could dominate all opposition with slick passing and great ball control? When did that team die? How is it possible that Arsene Wenger, the coach of that once great side, is incapable of replicating that with us? Was it Guardiola’s Barcelona who killed that Arsenal? Was it Guardiola’s Bayern who killed that Arsenal?
Wenger’s 442, with Coquelin in midfield, doesn’t seem to be working against the big teams. If you’re going to play two men in midfield, against five, which is what Guardiola was playing with his 4141, you better have the very best two midfielders in the game, with great support on the wings. Xhaka is great and he is often compared to Emmanuel Petit. But Petit had Vieira next to him. That’s how that worked. Arsenal don’t have a Vieira.
Guardiola’s entire coaching philosophy is geared toward snuffing out counter attacking teams. He works tirelessly to prepare his team to target the players on the opposition who are the gears which start the counters. Wenger played right into Guardiola’s hands not only with the counter-attacking set up but also by playing Alexis as a false 9, playing Özil as a false 10, and using Coquelin as a false 4. These are all innovations that Guardiola himself has used. Pep knew what to look for. Pep knew how to counter us and the second half was one of the low moments of my career. We only took two shots from outside the 18 yard box. Awful.
I don’t think we can play against big teams with Iwobi and Walcott on the wings. They simply don’t offer any midfield play. They are sprinters and we can lump the ball up to them. But bringing the ball out of the back and organizing the middle of the pitch? Nope.
If we are a counter attacking team, shouldn’t we be better at defending? We don’t seem to be good at defending. We keep letting opposition teams have great shots. We have taken a page out of Leicester’s playbook from last year: we want to be a counter-attacking team. But the problem is that Leicester got lucky last year. Chelsea, Liverpool, Man U, Arsenal, and Tottenham all sucked. They aren’t sucking this year. And so now what?
Elneny isn’t the answer. He’s soft as lanolin. Him and Özil on the same team? Arsenal would be parted like a nothing. Plus, you’d just see me running around closing down space and those two pulling out of tackles. Could you imagine Xhaka and Elneny? Oh wait, you don’t have to imagine it. It’s been tried. It’s the worst.
Just trading in Coquelin isn’t going to solve the problem. Arsenal need players all over the pitch who can take control of a game. Özil? Never. Walcott? He works hard but he’s another Coquelin, in that he can’t help with the build-up play. Ox is injured, not that he’s much better than Walcott. Ramsey is injured and would offer an option in midfield, if we can contain him in midfield.
Anyway. It doesn’t matter. The season is over. Not statistically, of course. Anything could happen from now until the end of the season. But as Guardiola says, you have to be within 3 points of the leaders in December if you’re going to seriously challenge for the title. At this point Arsenal have to win 3 more than Chelsea, in other words, Arsenal have to be perfect and Chelsea have to lose three games, just to catch up to them. Next up is West Brom. They are going to give us as much difficulty as Everton and Man City.
I wonder what it would be like to play for Guardiola’s City? He’s a tireless worker and he can be too full of ideas sometimes but it would be better than this: getting our asses handed to us by every big team that comes along. Ooohhh, or Antonio Conte. His team is organized. They control both the ball and space. That would be fun to try once in a while.
Or maybe China. I’ve already won a ton of trophies. Six trophies with Barcelona. The FA Cup with Arsenal. And I go home, when I retire, to Chile where I’m a national hero having won the Copa America twice, back-to-back. Sure, maybe I want to win the Champions League. If that’s my last goal in club football, I have to ask myself if I’m going to achieve that here, at Arsenal, where we get manhandled by Everton? And if Man City, Chelsea, or Liverpool don’t want me? I’ll go to China. Earn a billion dollars and buy all the land in Chile for Atom and Humber.
Maybe I can even get a luck dragon. I’d love a dragon-dog!
But whatever I’m going to do, this sure wasn’t part of the plan.