Arsenal frustrated by Mourinho’s United

On Saturday my daughter and I had my mom over to the house to bake cookies. I warned them both that I would have to watch the Arsenal match and that they would have to start the first couple of batches without me. So I got them set up to make the gingerbread and turned on the game.

Within minutes, Koscielny made a ridiculous cross field pass and I must have screamed “what are you doing?” because my daughter poked her head into the living room to say that they were ok. They were, I wasn’t. I just watched Arsenal do the exact thing they can’t do if they want to beat a Mourinho team; stupidly concede a goal off an error. I knew then that this meant game over for Arsenal. If you watched United at all this season then you knew they have just been so good at getting results when they probably shouldn’t.

Six minutes later when Mustafi tried to dribble around Lingard and then attempted that stupid outside of the boot right footed pass, I paused the game and went to check on the bakers. Did they need anything? Can I go to the store and get anything? No? Damn.

Two-nil down to a Mourinho team inside of 11 minutes. Both goals coming off errors and the ensuing chaos. As good as Arsenal have looked against Tottenham and Huddersfield, here we had the Patsy Cline Arsenal, the one that falls to pieces.

It’s frustrating because Mourinho didn’t set his team up to do anything, really. They weren’t pressing Arsenal hard when Koscielny tried to make a stupid run and then pass sideways across the field like it was his first time playing football. They were just maintaining their shape. Valencia was visibly surprised by that ball.

Just as frustrating was how as soon as the ball was in their possession, Arsenal went into our keystone cop defensive routine. Running around, bumping into each other, everyone collapsing on Pogba. Just pure panic.

And for the second goal it was basically the same thing. Mustafi lost it. As Mustafi is getting ready to make that pass, if you look at the way United were set up, they have no right to score a goal. They aren’t pressing, Xhaka is all alone in midfield. Mustafi could have played the ball back to Cech or played the ball to Xhaka before he tried to make a little dribble. What is it that we always coach young defenders? Not there. You don’t dribble there.

But there was still a lot of work to be done for United to score. Martial made an intelligent run, Lukaku skipped around Mustafi’s pathetic tackle and played a brilliant through ball, Martial – who I would take at Arsenal in a heartbeat – played a delightful Gheorghe Hagi pass between two Arsenal defenders, and Lingard still had a lot of work to do, holding off Monreal and shooting perfectly across Cech.

It’s still frustrating because Mustafi didn’t need to make that dribble. And worse, because it’s exactly what Mourinho wants. We needed to play conservatively, to be smart with the ball at the back, and we couldn’t. Not only that but they weren’t even really pressing. I’ve long been frustrated by the fact that this version of Wenger’s team are suspect in possession – if a team presses Arsenal, they lose their nerve. And here, Man U didn’t even really have to press, Arsenal were happy to just cough the ball up.

So, Mustafi goes off with an injury, which he must have picked up when he stubbed his toe while attempting to make a pathetic tackle on Lukaku. As Mustafi limped off, the camera panned to Wenger. I’ve seen that look before. He was seething. I have a strong feeling that Mustafi is done at Arsenal. Wenger is ruthless with defenders when they make high profile errors. He dropped Vermaelen after a similar performance against Tottenham and Mertesacker after the red card against Chelsea. David Ornstein said that Arsenal were already looking to sell Mustafi this summer so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him shipped out next.

What’s frustrating there is that Mustafi was just starting to win me over with some brave performances. And then he does this limping off the pitch routine after giving up a goal because of a ridiculous mistake.

Still, there was the next 45 minutes of Arsenal play. This is the part that everyone is excited about. This is the part that gives people so much pleasure. I get it. Arsenal created a ton of great chances. I know as well, or better, than most how rare it is for Arsenal to do what they did against Mourinho’s defense. It’s about as rare as the 4 xG that Mourinho’s team gave up to Liverpool a few weeks ago, a game which they also won. But all I felt was deeper and deeper frustration which reached a head when the boys conceded a third goal.

You have to give credit to de Gea for the saves. My favorite of the bunch was when Lacazette popped up into space inexplicably left gaping at the penalty spot, Iwobi passed the ball to him, and he took one touch and just blasted it at the keeper. De Gea got down so well for that shot, but he did palm the ball back to assist Alexis. All Alexis had to do there was anything but hit it back at the keeper. That’s what he did.

That was when the game was at 1-2. I went beyond frustrated at that point. I was all the way into exasperated. I see why other people see that series of shots by Arsenal, between the 11th minute and the 55th minute as some great football. But for me it feels very Spursy to get excited about nearly doing something great. Their motto is “to dare is to do”. But daring is not doing. Doing is doing. Scoring two of the goals that Arsenal should have scored in those 45 minutes would have been doing. Instead we really “put the pressure on”. Do you know how often us Gooners make fun of them for saying stuff like that? Every day. And yet, here we are celebrating putting on the pressure in a single game.

And for their third goal. Well, the second Lingard picked the ball up and I saw that it was 2 on 1 with Koscielny I said “this is going to be ugly” and it was. It was uglier than I even expected. Pogba buried Koscielny. Xhaka took a nap. Cech couldn’t reach a garden variety cross. And Lingard was left alone at the far post for a simple tap in.

Xhaka looked over his shoulder, he knew Lingard was there. I don’t know what he was expecting to happen. Maybe he thought a portal would open to another dimension and out would step a better version of Xhaka, one that can defend, and he would help our pathetic Xhaka defend.

There are infinite universes and in them there must be infinite Xhakas. I wonder if there is one where Xhaka is a committed defender, one who takes pride in his craft as a midfielder. One who understands that he has to play both ends of the pitch. This one doesn’t. We got one of the busted Xhakas. One who thinks his entire job is just to make long passes and take stupid shots from 40 yards.

After that I paused the game and went to help my mom with the cookies. I washed up all the dishes. I helped my daughter measure things. We made some peanut butter cookies. And while they were baking, I went back to the game. I played the final 30 minutes at double speed. Arsenal were rainbowing passes into the middle. Arsenal got more shots. None of them were very good shots. It was over, we were broken. Even a red card couldn’t help. Our frustration was complete.

I understand why people take hope from that game. I really do. Arsenal have created 11 big chances in the last two matches. That’s great. The Arsenal attack is starting to click. I love seeing Ramsey, Alexis, Ozil, and Lacazette on the same page finally. And it’s great that Wenger finally knows how to pick the correct lineup.

I also sincerely hope that Arsenal kick on from this performance. That they keep this attack going, that we create 33 shots in every match until the end of the season.

If that happens I will feel great but for now, all I have is frustration. That’s all I can feel every time Mourinho beats Arsenal. And he seems to do it all the time.


Hagi pass –


  1. A glorious failure is still a failure. We’vê been here before against Milan, Bayern or Barcelona, hell, against ManU. This is our ceiling.

  2. If Mustafi is out, then so should Xhaka. I have see too many of his errors lead directly to an opponent goal. 🙁

    1. Those are not the players to sell, in my view. They are good, not great players who are under a reasonable long term contract and make us a better team. And if we do sell them, it should be when they are performing above expectation, not under; that’s simple economics.

  3. I have a little secret to share: It’s been about two years since I’ve watched Arsenal’s games when they play anyone in the top six or so. Something about the predictability. I can’t be bothered. I’ll check the score after the fact, and in the unlikely event that we won, I’ll watch the highlights.

    But I never regret not having watched the games, because 9 times out of 10, it’s a massively frustrating choke job on our part.

    I know I’ll get called a fair weather fan for this, but I’m at a stage in my life when I have a lot going on with family and work, some of it very stressful indeed, and I so I have zero desire to spend 90 minutes (and hours and hours in the aftermath) feeling angry and frustrated. I heard all about the game yesterday, of course, but I don’t feel upset about it.

    This is where I’m at. I don’t see the point in becoming too invested in a club like this. I used to watch every single game. Now I think I watch about half of them.

    1. I used to read every article, read most blogs, comment on other blogs, read all the comments here, comment here, interview other fans, go to games every year, but they have burned me out too.

      1. This is the only blog I read religiously and comment on. I’ll also read anything written by Tim Stillman, the Arsenal Gent, and a few of the Guardian’s writers (Lawrence for obvious reasons, but also Ronay and Squires). I’ll read Mangan most days, and once in a while check Arseblog News (but I almost never comment there).

        This still sounds like a lot, actually! Believe it or not, this is a sharp decline in how I used to spend my time following Arsenal!

      2. I wholeheartedly agree with you Tim and understand Bunburyist’s dejection. Most Gooners I meet these days feel that way. We are a bit ‘Spursy’

  4. Prior to this game Arsenal hadn’t conceded a goal in which Mustafi played, so it would be giving up way too soon on a player who is still just 24 and still learning his craft. I like him a lot. He made a bad mistake yesterday, but if he’s made of the right stuff then he will respond the right way, by stepping his game up.

    With Koscielny limited (and probably past his best years), Mertesacker retiring, Nacho on the wrong side of 30 and neither of Chambers or Holding looking ready to be a defender for Arsenal (few players are, in fairness; it’s an awful job), it wouldn’t make any sense to sell any more defenders. If they do it’s because he doesn’t want to be here, but that’s not how I’m reading the situation right now.

    1. I agree it doesn’t make any sense to sell a defender that Arsenal just paid a record fee for – especially as you point out Mertesacker is done, Koscielny is done, and even Monreal is in his death throes. But regardless of good sense, I know for a fact that Arsenal tried to sell Mustafi. Now, maybe Wenger will leave this summer and Mustafi will be given a reprieve but if Wenger is going to be the manager next season, he’s selling Mustafi. Wenger has never been one to make sense in the transfer market.

      1. If we sold him in January (for a loss, but for decent change, say 20-25m) AND immediately replaced him with an improvement (e.g. Van Dijk, though I’m not bothered about who), would you guys still think that’s a bad idea?

        1. Yes, that would be good.

          However, I can’t see why ANY defender would want to join Arsenal. It’s a death sentence for their career.

        2. It would be a best case scenario to get a player like van Dijk if we do lose Mustafi but I don’t think van Dijk makes us a better team in the second half as compared to Mustafi. I don’t see a huge difference between them in terms of ability and at least Mustafi is familiar with the Arsenal system whereas van Dijk does not get asked by Pellegrini to participate in the possession play to the same extent, nor does he get left out on an island by his team because Saints usually defend in a deep block. It would be a lot to ask of van Dijk to suddenly come in and replace Mustafi who, let’s not forget, plays in the middle between Nacho and Koscielny and often is therefore the free defender who has to read the play and decide where and how to intervene. Mustafi has done that really well when he has played this season.

          1. I’m confident that VVD is a good passer. He’s 85% this season. He is also wanted by Klopp who has his team build from the back. I’m sure he’ll be at least as good as Mustafi. But even if he isn’t, it’s no use having a CB that the boss won’t play or who has his confidence shot through so bad that he fakes injury to get subbed off in a big game.

          2. Also, it sounds simplistic, but Mustafi, even at his best, is SMALL, and VVD is anything but. Obviously you can be a great defender and be on the small side, but our entire team is on the small side–particularly the starting back three of Kos, Mustafi, and Nacho–and we looked to be physically lacking against the power of United. In other words, it doesn’t mean Mustafi’s a bad defender, but VVD might give us something we’re really lacking. For 35m, and given the make-up of our squad (Kos and Mert getting old, etc), we could really have used a bit of that “presence” at the back.

            Personally, I’d keep Mustafi (unless Wenger has serious behind-the-scenes evidence of a mentality problem), and look to bring in a big dominating CB anyway (the brainless TV commentators have been droning on about us needing that kind of player for years, but at this juncture I think they’re finally right).

            The only reason not to is if Wenger really has faith that at least one of Holding and Chambers is going to become an elite first team regular (not just a good squad player!), and SOON. I like both of them, but (a) both are a bit slow, (b) one is REALLY slow, and (c) the other is still REALLY raw. Both have shown signs of confidence problems when they’ve made mistakes, so Wenger’s been right to take them out of the firing line this fall. But with Kos not able to play 3 games in a week, Mert with one foot in retirement, and Gabriel sold, either Mustafi has to step up and be the “main man” for us back there, or we should bring in someone else who will be.

          3. Why does Mustafi play in the centre of the back three?

            Kos is the most experienced and better in the air.

            Mustafi by contrast has experience at right back, is more mobile (doesn’t have an Achilles problem) and can cover the wide areas better if need be.

            It’s one thing that has mystified me the past little while. If Kos is playing he’s your captain (if not actually, practically) and should be at the centre organizing.

          4. It’s puzzled me as well. Reasons I’ve been able to come up with:
            1. Kos is not a vocal leader, and Mustafi certainly is vocal (Wenger recently said this was part of his reasoning).
            2. Arguably, Kos is a better passer, at least for those long, low line-splitting passes from defense to high midfield that Arsenal at their recent best have specialized in. I know Mustafi has a rep in some parts as being a good passer, but I think he’s pretty erratic, so maybe for the time being Arsene prefers Kos and Nacho making more of those passes?

      2. Are we sure Arsenal initiated that whole trying-to-sell-him business? My impression was that something may have happened in the dressing room, and as a result Mustafi expressed an interest in moving, at which point Arsenal responded with “sure, have it your way.” Even if this is right, it suggests Arsene isn’t his biggest fan, since it seems he didn’t work hard to convince Mustafi to want to stay, and they only decided to hold onto him because they couldn’t get anyone better before the deadline. Still, perhaps it’s not the case that Arsene doesn’t rate him or really WANTED to sell him.

        1. I’d read the rumor mill was Mustafi and family are not happy in London, he came to Wenger late in August and asked to be sold. The timing was sort of a final straw for Wenger, since he didn’t like Mustafi all that much to begin with. They tried to find a buyer but no luck, Inter came closest.

          If I had to predict he’ll be gone in January. If you don’t want to live in London (or England), not much can change your mind.

          1. And if you don’t like London, you’re unlikely to like many other cities in England, putting it charitably (the countryside can be lovely in a Jane Eyre-y kind of way, mind).

      3. In his defense I seriously think that offering Mustafi for sale in the summer was solely meant to raise funds necessary to buy somebody expensive like Lemar. So our intention to sell him did not reflect Arsen’s negative assessment on his talents. Rather the opposite, he was seen as a valuable asset. His pricetag was around 35 mill, which is exactly the figure we were looking to collect, as indicated by other players who were transfer listed inthe same price barcket, notably the Ox. So when Liverpool signaled they were in for the Ox at 35, Mustafi has immediately been withdrawn from the mercato. In the meantime the Lemar deal looked to have fallen trough, so the Ox to LFC deal was put on hold. At the end Monaco decided they would sell Lemar after all, so we quickly moved on the Ox, to balance the books, only to fail landing our target at the end.

    2. We had a great run at the beginning of last season too, where I don’t believe we lost a game with Mustafi in the line-up until the fiasco against Bayern? I could be wrong, but I remember it being a very long stretch.

      Don’t be so sure about Wenger getting to choose he sells and buys anymore. Gazidis looks to have done a bit of an end-round with the guys from Dortmund and Barca coming in. Wenger may be (finally) reduced to submitting lists of wants/needs (like almost every other manager these days) and then having to accept the roster he’s being left with. If the new guys don’t think they can offload Mustafi for what he’s worth, he may be sticking with us.

      1. I don’t think we know enough to lay all the blame at Wenger for recent transfer business, since the statsDNA guys seem to have been very influential in many of the moves we’ve made the last few years (e.g. Elneny, Xhaka, Mustafi, and putting us off getting Griezmann).

        I know the buck stops with Arsene, and he’s ultimately to blame for us not sufficiently strengthening for years, but I’m not sure some of the actual personnel calls are players he would have gone for in earlier years without other people in his ears. In other words, it’s largely his fault we’re not strong enough because he’s too cautious in the market and has been unwilling to pay top dollar; it’s not necessarily his fault that some of the players we have bought have (up to this point) been underwhelming.

        As a consequence, it’s not clear to me that our dealings will be better if AW has less influence. The Dortmund guy may be a great spotter of talent, but plenty of directors of football (and the like) have come to England over the last few years with great reputations, only for their transfer dealings to end up being very hit and miss.

  5. People are happy with this? Really? Damn… it’s a good thing I don’t read anything else then. I see nothing to be happy about having 33 shots, with only 16 on target, and only 1 of them actually going in. That’s less than half our shots that managed to fall within an 8 foot by 24 foot area. I see nothing to be happy about throwing on just about every attacking player we have, and still not being able to get past a ten-man team, even if it is one of Mourinho’s. Yes, the defence was a shambles. Yes, the running around the pitch was lovely, and having 3/4th of the possession was very nice, but there is something seriously wrong with our offence if it can’t produce a result on 33 shots and 75% possession.

    1. “Happy” is the wrong word. Encouraged by the offensive potential we witnessed? Yes. Happy? No. At the very least I enjoyed Arsenal putting United under that much pressure. Maybe that’s spursy thinking of me but given Wenger’s record against Mourinho is similar to Spurs record vs. Wenger (e.g. they finished ahead of him once in 22 years which is about how often Wenger wins against Mourinho), perhaps it’s at least understandable. More importantly, it gives me hope for future games because our offense is really fun to watch this season. When you watch Arsenal, you know they’re going to give up chances defensively, so you have to at least be able to enjoy the offense or it becomes no fun at all. This year, I think we will enjoy that offense and that’s better than nothing, better than last year at least. Ok, now you can call me a small time loser without ambition, I’m ready for it.

  6. Saturday’s game

    Predictable, yes. But exciting too: I thought we looked like we might get something from it, even at 1-3, especially if Danny W had been given the penalty.

    It had seemed like ‘same old, same old’ after conceding 2 early goals – awful at the best of times in a top 6 contest but worse than awful against a Mourinho top 6 side.

    But we played some excellent stuff and looked a lot more convincing than in some of the doomed fightbacks of old. And bad thought the mistakes were, I think United deserve credit for the pressing that provoked them: they were playing high and tight and limiting time and options for our defenders. So I hope he keeps Mustafi too, as it’s been a rare slip this season.


    Goonerholic worth a mention too. That’s up there with 7am as being like an ongoing discussion forum based on excellent articles by erudite and informed moderator. Arseblog great for player ratings and quick match reports, Swiss Ramble great for financial analysis. And I was recently referred to Untold Arsenal, which is a great discovery.

    Maturing fandom:

    In my case it’s not burn out, or disillusionment with Arsenal or Arsene (altho’ I admit a bit of that after his 20 odd years, and sympathised with the Zimbabwean fan photo’d with the Wenger Out placard at the anti Mugabe rally), but the twin realisations that it doesn’t pay to be so invested in outcomes outside one’s own influence and that football and Arsenal are there to be enjoyed for the shared experience and for their good bits – even when that’s just grousing about how bad they are!

    So I’ll usually record games and watch them in the evenings, frequently skip the whole game in favour of the match report (BBC live text is generally excellent) and watching the highlights, and choose the lower profile games @ £20-30/ticket over the higher profile ones priced at 2-3x that.

    I’d have loved to have been at the United game and my son told me that atmosphere at the Spurs game was electric but although the Sparta game was a stinker, Huddersfield was great and I’m hoping Bate will provide similar midweek magic! But if it doesn’t, I’m sure it’ll be a fun evening anyway.

  7. Thanks Tim, for nailing how I feel about this loss, and why I couldn’t share in the optimism in the comments section here immediately after the match. I disagree with you that United didn’t really contribute to our mistakes with their pressing, but agree that they shouldn’t get much credit for it: it was 90% our mistakes and only about 10% their press (admittedly they were ruthless once we coughed the ball up, but we also went into keystone cops mode after losing the ball all three times). Yes, Mourinho set a trap for us by trying to force a mistake early before (no doubt) planning to drop back into a low block. BUT WE WALKED RIGHT INTO IT WHEN IT WAS INCREDIBLY OBVIOUS WHAT HE WAS TRYING TO DO. NOT ONCE BUT TWICE!!

    It’s like…


    That part in GoT where Sansa tells Jon–on the eve of a battle that will shape all of their lives–that Ramsay Bolton is going to lay traps for, and play games with, him, and that he mustn’t let himself be provoked. Then, the next day, what does Jon do but FALL RIGHT INTO THE MOST OBVIOUS TRAP EVER SET, thereby almost losing the entire battle with one mistake at the outset, endangering the lives of all his men in the process.
    Mourinho is Ramsay, of course, and Arsene/Arsenal are Jon. The only difference is that Jon ultimately gets away with it by winning the battle. In our case, suggesting that we should mainly be heartened by our attacking performance after going down, is like if Jon lost the Battle of the B*stards due to making his stupid opening mistake, battling back valiantly to *almost* win, only for Ramsay to kill him with an arrow at the last moment–and the reaction of the other good guys to that being “oh well, we lost in the end, but we battled back impressively after that initial fatal error.”

    1. One more thing to add:
      Saturday’s loss felt like one of those from the 2005-2014 era, not so much in dominating possession before too easily succumbing to a counter attack, but in the fact that we actually played some brilliant stuff going forward. The last two seasons we’ve been (with a few exceptions) dreadful to watch, with very little of the old Arsene-era stylish passing football that’s so easy on the eye, and more than once I’ve wished that we could at least go back to playing that way, even if we were still soft defensively, losing in big games and away to physical teams, etc.

      But yesterday reminded me that it’s incredibly disheartening to lose in this way too: sure, you can be proud of the team for putting on a spectacle, but it’s even more frustrating to lose when you feel you don’t really deserve to, and when the mistakes seem so preventable. It was that old familiar feeling of “guys, you’ve done the hard parts, only to fail at the easy bits!” (Not that defending is in any way “easy”, but clearly it requires less skill and composure then playing pass-and-move football at breakneck speed, as evidenced by the fact that less talented teams in the PL can look solid defensively but can never approximate the sort of football we played on Saturday.)

      So I’m not sure if this is cause for optimism or pessimism. Optimism since we’re fun to watch again (admittedly, we had our moments in fall 2016, spring-fall 2015, and fall 2013, but it never lasted, whereas this looks to me like it could last the season if we can keep Sanchez and Ozil till the summer). Pessimism because it’s a brutal reminder that playing sustained brilliant attacking football is not enough to stand a realistic shot at the PL title. Not that to succeed you have to introduce defensiveness or caution or cynicism or lots of physicality into your play (Pep’s City have shown that to be a lie), but that you can’t look vulnerable defensively or mentally weak, especially in the big games. And Wenger hasn’t created a side that’s consistently defensively solid and mentally strong since about 2004.

      1. When it was Project Youth the potential, and presumed pay out down the road, made games like this exciting, and in a sense, even enjoyable to watch. There was a feeling of expectation that once these growing pains were past, something truly exceptional was being put together that would appear in a few, short years. But these guys aren’t the Kiddie Korps. There’s no potential left for them to grow into. They’re all at either the apogee or the trailing end of their careers. They are the finished product, and they still couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn.

        1. I share your pessimism about the loss, but not your focus on our failing to convert chances. Really, I don’t think too many misses were bad ones to feel guilty about. DDG was in inspired form, and many of our other chances were good ones to create but hardly “he really shoulda scored” moments. Even the Alexis one that DeGea saved with his foot wasn’t nearly as clear cut as people are saying, since DDG’s amazing cat-like reflexes, and his decision to save with his foot when many keepers would have tried with their hands, meant Alexis really couldn’t have beat De Gea by shooting first time from there. Instead, he would have had to stop on a dime (with all his momentum hurtling forward), faked the shot, then side stepped the keeper, in order to get the open angle (and even then that’s easier said than done: witness Lacazette trying to fake out DeGea in order to make room for a shot in the first half, and ultimately failing), at which point he would have been risking a defender coming back for the tackle. For a player of Alexis’s quality that bit of skill would hardly have been impossible, but it wasn’t straightforward either.

          Plus, it’s worth mentioning that we should have had at least one penalty: certainly for the Welbeck one, arguably also for 1 or 2 fouls on Lacazette.

          Finally, the whole reason that, while we created lots of chances, most of them weren’t easy to convert, is that United could pack their defense since we brainlessly gave them a 2-0 lead. Our finishing was far from the biggest of our problems.

          1. I really don’t mind De Gea having a great game. I’ve become inured to keepers having a great game against us, and as I keeper myself (once upon a time), I enjoy watching keepers have a great game. But getting less then half our shots on target? Not even getting a deflection and going off target, but not even on target in the first place? That, I have a problem with.

  8. Same old Arsenal. How many times have we hit the self- destruct button against a top team? I expect this to happen regularly at away games but for it to happen at the Emirates, made it even more soul crushing. Like Tim, as soon as we conceded in the fourth minute, I knew it was game over. I contemplated if I should stop watching the game. 7 minutes later, I did.

    That United team had zero ambition to win the game. We simply beat ourselves as we have done many times in the past.

    I share Bunburyist’s feelings towards cutting down on the amount of time I spend on all things Arsenal. Some days I force myself not to read Arsenal related news. I have pretty much stopped reading Arseblog. This is now the only site where I come to when I want to vent.

    When I think of Mourinho’s smug little rat face, I want to punch him. I can’t stand it. Wenger’s inability to beat him makes me frustrates me even more. As unfair as it may seem to blame the loss on him when our players made those glaring mistakes, it seems to me that even though the players have changed the mistakes have remained the same.

    I just want a manager who can beat Mourinho on a regular basis. Is that too much to ask for?

    1. 1. If you don’t like Jose’s rat face, then I’m guessing you would have barfed at the site of Lingard’s after he scored the third (it was already pretty vomit-inducing after he scored the second).

      2. It’s a shame you turned it off, as you missed a genuinely great game, and a thrilling attacking performance from us. Then again, ultimately you probably were left less frustrated than I was.

  9. So if we’re suddenly going to be all American* and pragmatic, i.e., second place is just another name for first loser and there is no trophy for effort, then I’d like to add another ‘attitude of champions’ to our quiver.

    A loss is a loss whether it’s 1-0 or 5-1 or 10-2 on aggregate. That means that when you’re losing 3-1 you either cut your losses and put in scrubs to save your stars’ legs for the next match or go for it and play aggressively until the final whistle. You don’t bunker and hope to avoid a historic defeat.

    Happily, Wenger is not the cheese eating surrender monkey so many ‘fans’ seem to crave. He’s actually a bit of a swashbuckler.

  10. To each his own, but I honestly don’t get people consciously not watching a game, then coming on a comments blog to talk about about a game they intentionally haven’t watched. What’s the point? Personally speaking, the weekend premiership game is a fixed point, albeit a moving fixed point, along with church, a hair-trim most weeks, a drive to the beach, a Friday or Saturday beer session at the local, and the laundry. But hey, that’s just me. There is no one, approved way to support the club.

    Arsenal has been badly run for while now, and can be frustrating to support, but the club, the badge, is not Wenger, or Gazidis or Mustafi. They will all go at some point and leave behind the team we support. Sometimes it’s worth it. I enjoyed watching us stuff Spurs, or beating City and Chelsea on the way to winning the FA Cup. That’s sport. Cubs fans were gloriously rewarded last year for decades of dross.

    Im one of those who took positives away from the loss to United. The concession of the goals was hare-brained, and I was as frustrated as anyone watching it live. Mustafi was great in recent games, and he f***** up on Saturday. That’s sport. Two-zip in no time. That was the reality, and there was no point crying over spilt milk (then). Would the team respond? You beat they did.

    Like others here I want to see Koscielny restored to the centre, however good a passer Wenger may rate Mustafi. They both made the case for switching. Mustafi gave away a goal because of a complete brain fade in the centre, and Kosc got easily rolled by Pogba, in what was a marvelous bit of skill.

    let’s reserve some praise for the opposition too. I have always thought that Jesse Lingard, a favorite of Gareth Southgate, had compromising photos of the England manager. But at the Emirates he was switched-on, hungry, and showed tremendous technique with the finish for his first. One more touch and the door would have closed. It was a painful comparison to Jack Wilshere, who, against Koln, always wanted to take an unnecessary extra touch. Jack is toast, and he’s not going to Russia.

    And I agree with Tim about the silky Martial. Before the game I picked him to score. He’s in tremendous form at the moment, and played well, in patches, without getting on the scoresheet.

    Lukaku? Anonymous. He almost scored an OG, and the DdG save from THAT, I thought was the pick of the bunch.

    1. then coming on a comments blog to talk about about a game they intentionally haven’t watched


      Except I didn’t talk about the game. I offered no analysis or comment on the performances, the result, the talking points, etc. I won’t comment on performances I haven’t seen. Actually, in games like this, “performances I haven’t seen” is a contradiction. I could’ve told you exactly what to expect before kick off. Anything else would have been the rare exception to the rule. Like I said, I don’t have the time or mental space to let a sport ruin my day. How I feel about the United result is: yeah, that kinda sucks. But not seeing Mourinho’s face, Lingard’s face, not seeing the missed chances, the horrible mistakes I read about, etc., has only had a positive impact on my general outlook on the universe.

      1. I feel like some play on the phrase, “better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all,” is applicable here…

        1. Oh, I’ve loved PFO. I’ve loved this club for almost twenty years. And I’ve lost. And lost again. I’m, you know, just a bit done with it all. It’s a sport, and I’m not in a space right now to feel extremes of love and loss about a game governed increasingly by professional trolls, inflammatory punditry, sugar daddies, capricious officiating, and a club that has become so, so predictable over the last decade.

    2. I feel like Koscielny gets too much of a pass here. His mistake was not much better, that pass across the middle of the pitch wasn’t that much better.

  11. I am not really upset or anything. In fact I am pretty thrilled by the performance.

    Having an xG5 for an Arsenal vs Mourinho team is kind of rare. Even rarer than a win. Which is a statistical true since we have beaten Mou’s team twice.

    But this is the first time Arsenal xG5 a Mou team. And it correlates with what I see, because instead of frustration, the play was exciting. Ok, brain farts apart but at 2-0 down, the most Arsenal thing to do would be to concede another 3. Instead the opposite happened and we proceeded to batter them.

    But more importantly, it wasn’t a grinding performance. You know those kind where we basically kept our discipline and just become men of true grit and rely on the brilliance of 1 or 2 players. Because that kind of play is not sustainable.

    This was a very fluid attacking performance. Not quite the same kind of control like the Carzola’s 4-2-3-1 but it seems we are heading somewhere. Given that there are no big CL distractions, it does looks like the team will stay its course which means we will be in a nice spot on the EPL table come end of season.

    We won’t win it of course, but I think we will make top 4 quite comfortably.

  12. Depressingly familiar, simultaneously excepting and including the novel ways Arsenal’s defence found to screw things up.

  13. Agree Tim. Glad that someone appreciates the role that our poor play in possession significantly contributed to gifting United their opening goals and that it has been an issue for some time.

    And I know the feeling of withdrawing from the team a bit. I rarely watch games live anymore and, especially with the big games, more often then not, I’ve already checked the result. I’ve taken to watching more games and I’ve come to appreciate other players, managers, and good play more than simply watching Arsenal. Like others, I see Wenger for what he, a manager who got a little lucky that he put together a great team who meshed with his management style and gave us some fantastic years. Building a great team marks one as an excellent manager, doing it again marks one as all time great. Wenger is “merely” excellent.

  14. Arsenal losing in the most of predictable ways is frustrating but so is people creating false narrative to explain the losses.

    Reasonable observers can argue about details like which DdG save was world class and did Cech do well at the other end of the pitch , but the prevailing opinion that Arsenal’s two mistakes on defense and DdG freakishly great performance cost us the points is as far from the truth as it could ever be.

    I’ve already said my peace about Arsenal defending after the turnovers so no point talking about it again, suffice to say this was one of the worst examples of team defending when in numbers( defending team having equal or superior number of players on the play) I have ever seen in a proffesional game of this magnitude.

    But the level of ravings about DdG exploits is quite ridiculous.
    Most agree he’s the best keeper in the world , yet they fall all over themselves waxing lyrical about the 14 saves he made , when most of them were saves any
    ( and I mean literally any) keeper would make.

    It would be like eulogizing about Messi’s fourteen touches during a game when two of them were scintillating pieces of skill and others included trapping simple balls and completing five yard sideways passes to teammates.

    Out of those 14 saves 5 shots were directly at DdG ; two from Ozil and two from Iwobi and one from Laca , who was being impeded by Rojo and only managed to get a faint contact on the ball that harmlessly bounced into standing DdG’ knee.

    A couple of floaters from Welbeck ( a deflection from outside of the area tipped over the bar) and Monreal ( header in the upper corner area)

    Three shots from distance requiring DeGea to move his 6’4″ frame and comfortably beat the ball away( Bellerin, Kola, Sanchez)

    A goal mouth scramble with Laca trying to lay him down ( which he did) and avoid his considerable wingspan( which he didn’t ), with the ball tipped into the bar.

    Literally , and I’m being generous here, the only two saves worth talking about are the double save on Laca and Sanchez, and the Lukaku attempt at own goal.

    The save from Laca was impressive. To get down so quickly to a ball struck with pace for a keeper his size is world class.
    What followed though, was a simple instinctive sticking out the leg to block a shot Sanchez could’ve made way more difficult by either chipping the ball or pulling it back.

    On the save from Lukaku his body was already moving to the near post and when the ball bounced of the Belgian , he simply extended his left arm to slap the ball back and out.

    The most difficult save a keeper can make is when he has to shift his body from one direction and into opposite one , on a dime , with the ball being passed or struck across the goal mouth and he didn’t have to do this once.

    Another tricky one is when he’s unsighted and and has to make a save on a ball coming through players legs, multiple defenders and such.
    Only Iwobi’ s shot comes close to this description and it was straight at DeGea.

  15. Couldn’t agree more with your assessment of de Gea Tom. My takeaway from his performance was that our finishing wasn’t good enough.

    Like Tim and others have said I’m very uncomfortable with the reactions after another Jose defeat. Mourinho’s career is littered with teams who thought they deserved to beat him but couldn’t. It was a classic “European away game” type performance from United. Mourinho preps his teams to target an opponents flaws, keep a disciplined shape, strike first and hold the fort. And he had us beaten after 10 minutes.

    If you reversed the roles and we came out of an away game in Manchester with the exact same scoreline and performance Utd put in, we’d call it one of our best wins, and laugh at our opponents for weeks afterwards.

    Sure there’s many ways of looking at a result. We can retain a sense of joy about the game that lets us enjoy the good stuff even in a huge defeat (and let’s be clear, this was a huge defeat). But the hard reality is the sporting side of the club, the scouting, transfers, coaching and training, all of it is designed for us to succeed against our biggest rivals. And once again we failed.

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