I baked bagels this morning. A test batch. Five bagels. Three with crunchy bits of seeds, garlic, and salt and two plain. They turned out a little too crisp on the outside. I’m guessing my oven is too hot. Though I might try the next batch on a baking tray as well.
The interior of the bagels were, however, unlike any bagel I’ve ever had. They are usually this dense round of moist dough with a slightly browned exterior that’s soft as American loaf bread. My friends used to pluck the crumb out of bagels, wad it up, and chew it for half an hour. That reminded me of gum. I hate bagels.
But these bagels have a chewy interior which is not gummy or dense. It’s light and the exteriors are slightly crispy.
Bagels take two days to make. On day one you make the dough, then you let it sit in the fridge over night. The next morning you wake and bake. Cut, shape, boil, bake. I’m into it. I will do some more tomorrow. I think this batch will be all gone soon despite being overcooked on the bottom. Sometimes all you need (knead, get it?) to get a decent result is to be in the right ballpark.
Manchester United won the Europa League, vanquishing the mighty Ajax, to ensure their participation in the Champions League next season. What a huge victory for them and a vindication of their four year plan to finish 7th, 4th, 5th, and 6th, and finally secure Champions League football. Jose Mourinho is such a genius: buying hundreds of millions of dollars worth of players, having them play an odious anti-football system for 30 matches, and then when it was clear he couldn’t get into the Champions League the right way, throwing all of the League matches so he would have time to prepare for his miraculous underdog win over Ajax.
We talk a lot about failures and the failure of Arsenal on this blog but when it comes to epic failures nothing matches the fall from grace of Man U. Imagine Real Madrid finishing 6th and getting excited about getting into the Champions League. I’m pretty sure they would fire their manager.
But Mourinho is oblivious, he raises three fingers. Tells his team to raise three fingers. One finger for each moment in his life where he felt empathy for another human. Or a finger for each of the major trophies they have won this season: the Charity Shield (a pre-season friendly), the League Cup (in which all teams but United use children), and the Europa League (the cup you get into when you aren’t in the Champions League but you still want to play teams like FC Metallicalist, AS RedHotChilliPeppers, and SC Bigbusiness).
One of the things that hasn’t been discussed these last few weeks is the fact that everyone knew Mourinho was tanking the end of season matches. He would say after every defeat or setback that his main focus was on the Europa League final and that “in this moment the Premier League, for us, is just matches we don’t want to play.”
Mourinho fielded a weakened team in the Premier League in order to rest and prepare for the Europa League final. Isn’t this the kind of maneuver which used to spark outrage? Isn’t he disrespecting the League by fielding a weakened team? Doesn’t the FA normally “investigate” and “fine” teams when they do this? Mourinho has just made a mockery of the entire League system and fielded intentionally weakened teams because the League didn’t matter to him. And all the pundits can do is laugh at what a brilliant game plan it was.
This is the same League that once fined Blackpool for fielding a weakened team and then later loosened the rule. But this is one of the biggest clubs in world football, and the star attraction of the League, fielding weakened teams because the manager felt like it was easier to win against Ajax than Tottenham. And he was right. I don’t know what that says about the integrity of the Premier League.
As for Arsenal… we have a match tomorrow. Against Chelsea. Alexis is going to start and that’s a positive but everything else is just up in the air right now. Injuries have decimated the Arsenal back three and it looks like Wenger will have to decide whether to go with three at the back or four. My guess is a flat 4 with Coquelin patrolling. But I’m not sure the formation is going to be the deciding factor. The big problem is that Arsenal don’t have any of their first-choice center backs.
Arsenal lost Koscielny to a stupid red card and like Mourinho disrespecting the League little has been said about this. Koscielny has been Arsenal’s best center back for a few years now so I understand why he isn’t criticized but I’m going to go ahead and dive in. That tackle was both feet off the ground, wildly lunging, no chance to win the ball, and really no reason to attempt the tackle: nothing about that tackle made sense, unless he was trying to get sent off, or he’s lost his mind. In either scenario I have to question the player.
Let’s hope for a massive game from Mertesacker and Holding. Mertesacker has some atonement to make. He was dropped by Wenger after his red card on Diego Costa, the same Diego Costa he will be facing tomorrow. Costa will be licking his chops to have a go at Arsenal’s back line. He seems to have a special hatred for Arsenal so I expect the shithousery to start from the opening whistle. I also expect the referee to let it all go, as if no one would have expected Costa to slap people in the face, fall over feigning injury, stamp on his marker, and throw people to the ground before squaring off with them and offering a fight.
Tactically, while Costa will be trying to get players sent off Arsenal have to find a way to contain Hazard. He will be going at Monreal all game and Monreal will need help. I don’t know how Wenger will set up for that. Iwobi can’t be trusted in that defensive role and if you drop Alexis back to help out, it kills off the Arsenal attack. I suppose you could try Welbeck wide? I don’t know.
Chelsea will have to contain Alexis and Özil and much of that will be down to player of the year N’Golo Kante. I think the reason Wenger likes to start Alexis wide is because it forces the opposition DM to come over to cover in deep positions. If that starts to happen, Arsenal could get some attacking sunshine through the middle of the park with Özil and Ramsey. The only problem with Özil, Ramsey and Welbeck through the middle is that they are all terrible finishers. Let’s hope they can take their chances tomorrow.
There is one other story. It’s the one about how Fabregas faced Chelsea in a cup final when he was a kid and how Walcott opened the scoring and John Terry got his head kicked off by Abou Diaby then Arsenal had two players sent off and Drogba won the game. Later that season, Jose Mourinho went to collect his medal after winning the cup double and held up six fingers toward Abramovich to indicate the six trophies he’d won at Chelsea (yep, one was the Community Shield).
Losing to Chelsea time and again was the reason Fabregas left Arsenal. And now Fabregas could very well win the double with Chelsea with a victory over Arsenal. Proving once and for all that time is a flat circle.
Like a bagel.