I’ve changed my mind. After I thought about yesterday’s post, I decided that you should get chickens. In fact, it’s your moral obligation to get chickens. You need to experience where your food comes from, how much work goes into food production, and you need to experience the loss of beloved animals. It will change you. You will no longer be able to pretend that we are disconnected from the earth and from our food. You will no longer be able to hide behind psudeo-philosophical nonsense like dismissing the problems we face by saying “whelp the world is just too complicated guys!” or “this is beyond my control”.
Nope, you, especially you, need to get chickens. You’re not just a brain in a box, you’re a living and breathing creature, a vital component of an ecosystem which is being destroyed by people because we have disconnected ourselves from reality. And besides which, every time you eat an egg that’s from your little farm, you’re not eating an egg from a factory farm where chickens are confined to tiny cages and forced to shit out eggs 24/7. You’ll be doing a tiny part to stop that. So, get chickens, now. You should raise a pig too, while you’re at it.
Anyway, Arsenal beat Man U yesterday 3-2 and the best part of it, for me, is that we had to come from behind, twice. That showed me that this team is serious and that it believes in itself. And that is what it’s going to take to win the League.
And it wasn’t just an Arsenal win, it was obliteration. Domination. What other adjectives. Supremacy? Superiority? Yes.
Defensively, Arsenal held them lot to just 6 total shots (~0.4 xG) and when we needed a third goal, we laid siege to their box (~3 xG for Arsenal!).
Eriksen was stifled. Every time he tried to get the ball, Arsenal had a man on him. And while he did score a lucky long-ranger, Rashford was largely corralled. Anthony tried his steppy overs and got jockeyed. And Bruno spent more time complaining than helping his team win the game.
In attack, Arsenal ran everything through Øde and Zinchenko. At one point in the second half, Øde did a little double-kiss throughball which Xhaka failed to convert but it’s a move that we are going to be talking about for years. Øde combines the constant movement, style, and vision of Özil with the defensive work of Jordan Henderson. He’s a thoroughly modern footballer. And he’s thriving at Arsenal. He had a Rolls Royce performance yesterday, just couldn’t get the goal or assist it deserved.
And Zinchenko.. what.a.game. He ran the midfield yesterday, leaving #5 to play clean up man. Zinchenko had the most touches of any player, the most passes, and still had energy to play defense.
Up top Eddie Nketiah is, well, I think the only thing I can say about Nketiah is that he’s been a surprise. I know, I know, you were one of the folks who were always behind him. You never questioned the salary. You never thought for a moment that he couldn’t do it at this level. Congrats, now is the time for you to brag! However, many of us did worry. Even Arteta said this yesterday: “What Eddie is doing is incredible. We cannot say that we saw that, we were hoping that he could do that because of the way he is, because of his mentality, because of his qualities and how those qualities fit within the team. Losing Gabby was a big blow, it is a big blow today, but Eddie is responding and the team I think in an exceptional way.”
Yesterday, when Arsenal were down 1-0, I wrote in my notebook “this is the moment, this is the defining moment of the season, who will lift us?” It was Granit Xhaka and Eddie Nketiah. If you told me last year that you think Arsenal is going to be top of the table in January 2023, and that they will have a comeback victory over Manchester United thanks to two goals from Eddie Nketiah and a total performance from Granit Xhaka. And you said that we would dominate them and that he would have a huge part in that? I’d have laughed you out of the room. I would have believed “Granit gets a red card and Eddie struggles” but man, I was just wrong. A lot of us were. But I need to apologize for not believing in him. I was wrong. And I’m glad I was wrong.
Tactically, Arteta got everything right. You can’t blame him or his team selection for two lucky goals. But you can applaud him for taking Ben White off at half time – it was clear that Anthony had riled White up: Ben had a moment around the 38th minute where he was so out of sorts that he literally passed the ball directly to Eriksen. And when Eriksen handed the ball to Anthony, White was burned with a dribble and since he was on a yellow, he was in danger of getting sent off. So changing him for Tomiyasu was the right call. As is the fact that Arteta hasn’t said anything about the substitution after the match. White will be stung by what happened yesterday but I back him to come good.
Arteta also put on Trossard when many supporters were calling for Smith Rowe. I’m a huge fan of Emile but he’s only played 17 minutes since September 4th. It would have been crazy to throw him on in a game of this magnitude, needing a goal to win all three points. Trossard came on and had a part to play in the third goal.
Arteta got a yellow card but that was, in my opinion, premeditated on the part of the referee. With pundits all over England talking about Arteta’s “touchline behavior” I think referee Anthony Taylor was told to pay special attention to Arteta. So, when Mikel showed 4 fingers (he should have shown just the one) to the referee to complain about Luke Shaw’s constant fouling of Bukayo Saka, Taylor got to do what he had been told and book the manager.
Overall, it was a complete performance. I think Rashford’s goal was lucky and Lisandro’s goal was unlucky. Maybe, maybe, if you want to be unkind you could say that Tomi and Ramsdale should have done better on the clearance. But I honestly don’t feel like being unkind. Not after we beat Manchester United!
We are half-way through the season sort of; we have played 19 matches but still haven’t played Man City and don’t play them in the League until the 15th. They are a juggernaut. I watched them before the Arsenal match and my god they just steamroll teams some days. Obviously, they can be beaten. They have three losses this season. But we will need to be in absolute top form to beat them.
But that’s weeks away! Next up is.. oh hey it’s Man City in the FA cup.