For years I played a game called Fallout. In case you’ve been stuck in a vault for the last decade I’ll just describe the game as a solo adventure through a post-apocalyptic alternate future where you try to survive against super-mutants, neo-Nazis, mad scientists, mutated creatures, radiation, feral ghouls (as opposed to the domesticated ghouls, who are often your friend), robots gone mad, synths, and even other opportunistic humans crawling the wasteland looking to live off the scraps of society.
The one thing I love about the game is that it captures the madness of the nuclear age, when kids were drilled to hide under their desks in case of nuclear attack, and blends it with the madness of our age, where humans have built killer drones and we are genetically modifying the species.
The folks who built Fallout recently released an MMO called Fallout 76. In this version of Fallout, you have all of the familiar tropes of the previous versions with the addition of the internet, the actual internet from our real world. That means that kids can run up to you, call you a name, and nuke you. That means that the makers of Fallout can accidentally send all of your account information – including your full credit card information – to some guy in Australia. That means that the game is full of bugs and flaws. And thanks to the “innovation” of totally unfettered free-market capitalism, that also means that you can spend all of your waking hours “grinding” to make fake money, to buy fake products, to make more fake money, and make your fake character even more fake tough.
Bethesda Gaming Studio has done it again, folks: they have managed to capture the madness of the future and the present and deliver it to our gaming consoles. And they have given it a cool skin that you can conveniently purchase for $40. Plus in-game purchases. In short, it’s a hyper-realistic portrait of modernity.
I don’t know why I decided to go off on this tangent. I think it had something to do with the image of the 8 year old kid “pwning” us in an online environment. That sometimes you just have to let yourself be killed, lose a round, and move on. That must have been it.
Arsenal lost this weekend and while it was frustrating, it does feel like we should just take the L. My frustration stems from the familiar themes, the tropes of Arsenal’s past. Like the “switching off”, and the “injury/card crisis” predicating the rotation of several players in defense and midfield, and lack of effort on defense, and losing to Southampton, and the fact that Arsenal sometimes can’t handle any pressure.
Arsenal conceded three goals to the 2nd worst team in the League. Goal one featured Bellerin not closing down the wide man and poor marking from the center backs. Goal two featured not one but two Southampton players just allowed to walk in to Arsenal’s final third and play a cross in. Though at least Koscielny tried to challenge for the ball in the air and the goal was a bit flukey. And goal three had lazy play in midfield, no closing down, no marking between the two center backs, and an error by the keeper. The third goal really was the trifecta.
Any time you concede three goals in a game from the exact same types of plays, you really should have a look at what’s going on defensively. But Emery’s post-match presser seemed a bit nonchalant about the whole thing. In fact, he praised Xhaka, Lich, and Koscielny. Which was absolutely maddening.
Not maddening because I expect better from three players who are: 34 and so far beyond his sell-by date that he reminds me of an angry old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn whenever he plays, a player who is also too old and recovering from an Achilles injury, and a third players who has proven throughout his career to be utterly incapable of playing defense. Maddening because he actually praised them. Maybe on the day that you concede three identical goals from three identical failures, you probably shouldn’t say that those players had a good game. Because they absolutely didn’t.
It also feels a bit like teams have figured out Emery’s passing moves and how to harass Arsenal into turning the ball over. Once again the Arsenal midfield was targeted for fouls (Guendouzi was fouled at least 5 times) and Guendouzi and Torriera struggled to get the ball forward. Emery praised the team for controlling the match but like the three center backs, I disagree with him here.
Southampton controlled the match both offensively and defensively. They were the ones who were able to win the ball back off Arsenal with very little pressure and Arsenal struggled to impose themselves on this game, generating a mere 1 xG, almost all of which came from the two moments where Arsenal finally applied a little pressure.
Southampton were 2nd from the bottom of the table in every metric going in to this match. Southampton scored a quarter of their total goals haul from this season in this match. Arsenal have now conceded 23 goals in 17 matches this season and are well on our way to another 50+ goals allowed defense – and well deserved too because we are still an awful defensive team.
Conceding three goals in a match shouldn’t be just a “ho-hum” moment. It certainly shouldn’t be a moment for praise, even if the players were makeshift. And while we had gone “22 undefeated” that run felt more like something ephemeral than Arsenal really bossing games. This was a shocking loss. So, why do I feel like we should just “take the L”?
I have to admit that I’m thoroughly confused by this loss. If this had been last season, I would be livid and part of me is frustrated but there’s also a huge part that is just “meh.”
My frustration comes from my expectation that Emery would make the team better defensively and the facts are that he clearly has not. Not even remotely. All of the same problems are here. The “meh” part stems from the fact that I “trust the process” and want to give him time. So, I guess the only option I have is to Take the L.
P.S. I noticed this match followed some trends from this season:
- Slow start – Arsenal looked sluggish until the 2nd half
- Opposition tactical fouling
- Defensive errors
- Lazy Ozil
- Half-time changes
- Lacazette not starting up front
- Arsenal overperforming xG (got a lucky goal)
- Arsenal scoring from outside the box
- What else?