Arsenal 3-2 Man U: flying chickens in the barnyard

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.. 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.



  1. This is a funny game that encourages patterns but rewards moments. United have outscored us 5-3 this season. They can justifiably claim they’re at or above Arsenal’s level, xG notwithstanding. Just like we liked to claim we were better at football than them through the mid-2000s. For example, in 2008-09 we beat them 2-1 at the Emirates and drew 0-0 at Old Trafford. Except that the draw was the day United won the title. For the third time in a row.

    Whether we have it in us to dominate is probably a question for the summer. Winning is more than good enough for now. Just keep it going guys, it’s been a long wait to witness something like this.

    1. They outscored us 5-4 not 5-3 because Martinelli’s goal was dubiously chalked off. Of course, if it had been awarded, the whole outcome of our away game would have been probably different. Last season, it was the opposite: we won 3-1 at home with Bruno F missing a spot kick for them and they won 3-2 at Manchester but we made defensive mistakes and Maguire assaulted Tomiyasu without being found guilty and without Arsenal getting a spot kick. They have progressed under ETH this season but our progress under Arteta has been positively phenomenal.

  2. So many reasons to be excited. I went to the Arsenal LA pub with a friend yesterday and it was one of the best sporting experiences I’ve ever had. All the songs and cheers. Been there before, but for this game it was wild, intense and raucous, especially on Eddie’s winner. So much credit to Arteta in this one as you say, wisely replacing Tomi when White was struggling, and taking any drama out of the substitution. Trossard was very composed and his dribble to attract 3 defenders and perfectly timed and placed pass to Zinny allowed him to deliver a smashing cross. Funny how perspective is warped by circumstance. A City fan sat at a table with us, and while I was fretting and moaning every time we misplaced a pass or didn’t capitalize on an opportunity, all he kept saying is “Arsenal are dominating. You can feel the goal coming.” He was right. He also magnanimously said he’d be ok with us winning the title as long as they got the CL this year. I thought that was a fair deal!

    1. +1 LA.

      Our Arsenal pub in midtown Toronto had to close its doors because they could not come to an agreement with their landlord on rent hikes. Our local independent grocer had to close for the same reason. Don’t know what’s going on, but it ‘aint good.

      Enjoy the good times, however long they last.

  3. i personally have always thought nketiah deserved more of a chance and more respect from supporters, and was ready for him to start last february.

    that said, i was completely wrong about xhaka, ready to get rid of him last season and annoyed that we didn’t this summer. he’s been proving me wrong and i’m delighted to see it.

    re: trossard vs. smith rowe, i don’t think throwing esr into this game would have been any crazier than starting him against chelsea was when he first came into the team. regardless, i’m glad we got to see trossard play. i hope we use both of them to give the front 3 starters some judicious rest going forward.

  4. like tim, i was looking forward to the northern european battle between eriksen and odegaard. our norwegian was absolutely brilliant. i still giggle thinking arsenal signed him for only £30 million. he’s easily worth £100 million.

    i was an eddie doubter but not in the typical sense. i wanted arsenal to keep eddie but not on those wages. tim accused me of hyperbole when i griped about his wages potentially throwing off the team’s wage structure but the jury’s still out. saliba and saka had to have extensions activated but they still haven’t signed new deals. meanwhile, those guy’s value is improving by the day. lastly, i still think the club need to sign a center forward on loan to the end of the season. don’t expect jesus to return, pun intended, and eddie can’t play every game.

    i love the way xhaka has been managed by arteta. it seems arteta simply asked him to make the plays he’s supposed to make and don’t worry about the plays he can’t. when rumors came that he was leaving, i told you guys he wouldn’t. arteta never wanted to lose him, the club wouldn’t budge on the fee, and roma would never meet arsenal’s valuation. with that, i’d still offer leicester city £12 million plus sambi on loan for tielemans.

    i think tomiyasu is a better defender than ben white anyway. i wonder why ben white got sent home from the world cup but i hope to never find out. zinchenko has been blowing my skirt up since the newcastle game.

    i don’t think rashford’s goal was lucky. with gabriel serving two purposes, masking the keeper and helping line the shot up, it was made an easier finish. i also don’t think saka pointing at his head after scoring was trolling either rashford. welbeck did it when he scored the other day against liverpool. i even think eddie did it. i vaguely remember rashford talking about that celebration as a mental health reminder. good stuff. great result for arsenal. fifty points at the midpoint of the 38-game premier league season is good in any universe.

  5. There are some brilliant Vikings playing in the Premier League right now. The one at Man City is a freak, like Yngwie Malsmsteen is a freak. (Sorry, for all the guitar references).

    But Odegaard is the pick of the lot for me. He was outstanding again, in an outstanding team effort.
    Zinchenko – sick!
    Saka – sicker!
    Nketiah -sickest!
    And how about super-sub Takehiro coming on for a sub-par Ben White?

    Full credit to Man U and Rashford, I am compelled to say. He scored a sumptuous goal and this team is vastly improved from the first of the season.

    We took 7 points form possible 9 this month and we are still 1st in the league and unlike last season with 0 red cards. We have the discipline, we have the belief, we have the work ethic, we have the solidarity, and of course, we have more than enough talent.

    I really believe it’s all in our hands now to have a most special season.

  6. How ‘bout we just encourage people to start with planting a garden? Similar appreciation for the work of others and connection to the land without all the animal stuff.🤷🏽‍♂️

    You saw the same game I saw.

    The boys were immense.

    1. Hey Lonestar: The Cowboys flattered to deceive. What do you think? Eagles vs. Chiefs in The Rihanna Bowl?

      1. I’m a recovering Cowboys fan. I stopped attending meetings years ago, and I am no longer emotionally invested in the Cowboys.

        They’ve been pretenders since 1995. Each year flattering to deceive; each year earning more than before; all in the service of Jerry Jones’s massive ego. Dak is a middling QB and the coaching staffs have been subpar for decades. I actually laughed at some of the game play on Sunday.

        Anyway, I think the Eagles are the real deal (🤮), but Mahomes is treating the gridiron like a basketball court. If Mahomes remains healthy, the trophy is theirs (also 🤮). And I never quite understood the point of Rihanna…

  7. Your last two posts about chickens is interesting and edifying.

    I assessed my own diet many years ago now, when I am first became aware of factory farming and what it means for the lives of the animals that are consumed.

    I used to eat anything and everything, except offal and “sweetbreads”, though all respect to cultures that don’t waste any part of the animal.

    But why eat the animal? It comes down, of course, to personal choice. For myself I saw all the nicely cut, well-packaged meat cuts in the supermarket as an aid to help people no think about it. Not to think about where it comes from and how it gets to the store, all nice and clean, in a convenient way to drop into your shopping cart.

    And I said to myself, if I can kill a creature myself then I am okay to eat it. Tired with chickens, couldn’t do it. Tried with a goat and I threw up. Went fishing and for whatever reason, I found I could deal with catching, killing, gutting and cleaning my own catch. I can’t explain why and I can’t defend it, except to say, that yes – I can kill this all by myself – so I feel okay to eat. And so I became a so-called Pescatarian.

    Other than (sustainably certified) seafood, I am strictly vegan, no diary. Also, spare a thought for all those male chicks in the egg industry that get destroyed in – not very nice ways. If that’s okay, then all the power to you, but I can’t do it.

    My dad used to say “eat less (easy for him to say), exercise more, and do good”.
    I’ve been try to do so all my life.

  8. I’ll happily admit that, for the large part, I don’t have a great understanding of football strategy/tactics/nuance. So, hearing a Luke Shaw so bluntly concede Arsenal as the far better side is super revealing (quote copied below), and seems super unusual.

    Tim, after yesterday’s article, I know I am not going to raise chicken. After today’s moral counterpoint, I guess I need to give up on eggs as well.

    “We probably deserved that [to concede a late winner]. We were a bit passive and let them control the game completely in the second half. To concede right at the end is gutting. I think we know they’re an extremely good side and we were fighting all the way. In games like this you need to concentrate for 90 minutes.

    They always start fast. We got through that and started to have a bit more control on that game. We were aggressive, winning the ball high up the pitch, like we did for the first goal. The first half went well but in the second we just backed off a bit. They were always gonna get one more big chance.

    You have to give them credit for what they’ve done this season. They deserve to be at the top. The quality of these games is getting much higher, and it was a very tough game to be involved in. These are the ones you want to play in, to test yourself against the best. We’re all very gutted to concede late on, but it’s a bit of a reality check to where we are at the moment.”

  9. I backed Nketiah to take over CF role from Jesus before this season ends, I am glad to see him performing.

    We were just sensational.
    United aren’t even that bad but we just dominated them to an unreal level.

    I wonder how Arteta plans to evolve this team further
    In our setup, our MFs are the FBs and the DM.

    Our #8s don’t have much MF responsibility, their roles are primarily about the final 1/3.

    We have been linked to Rice, we have Patino developing

    If we get Rice,
    I wonder if eventually both Rice and Patino will play as FBs and we play a Ode- Partey-ESR MF.

    I think the team goes to another level both offensively and defensively if we did that long term.

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