Chapter 6: the ghosts of Everton past

I’m not going to sugar coat this: it was a boring game. I spent quite a bit of time during the match looking up how to dye disc golf discs. This is definitely something I’m going to get into soon. I was even a bit angry that the match was so boring because I had to give up a morning round of disc golf with my buddies. But they promised to play again at 11am and so I was kind of just stuck here watching a dreadful football match and ended up playing my best ever round after the game.

The most exciting part of the match happened an hour before, when Mikel Arteta dropped the bomb and announced that Vieira would start in midfield instead of Havertz. A lot of folks were worried because Vieira is nearly 10″ shorter than Havertz and last year Everton sort of bodied us for 90 minutes. But the logic was clear to me: Vieira and Martinelli are both close control operators and against a low block that’s exactly what you need to unlock a stubborn and organized defense. The last thing you want is Havertz’s very poor passing and inability to dribble. And it should have worked too, Martinelli scored a pretty good goal off an assist by Vieira but it was ruled out for offside. And Nelli popped his hammy, which meant Trossard was able to come on instead and do similar things: including getting the winning goal from a beautifully worked corner routine.

Nketiah started up top and I have to think that is strategic: Arteta must have been looking ahead to the Champions League match on Wednesday and the Spurs match on Sunday and saving Jesus* for those two games. Nketiah is never going to do well against a team like Everton where his “off the ball work” (i.e. runs) is extremely limited because there’s nowhere to run to and no one is going to follow him because that’s what a low block does, it stays in its zone. It was one of his worst games for Arsenal and we often looked like we were playing with 10 men.

The rest of the lineup was exactly as expected and once again Declan Rice was masterful in the #4 position. There is literally no one better in football at just cleaning up weak clearances and snuffing out counter attacks. Every single time I looked up from researching how to dye discs, he was doing the dirty work for Arteta’s men. It must be nice to be a center back with Deck in front of you. Declan Rice has got two dogs in him, one is Patrick Vieira and the other is Gilberto.

Part of what made the game so utterly boring was Everton’s craven approach to the game. Yes, I’m talking about the low block but that tremendous dipshit Sean Dyche intentionally left the grass as long as possible and unwatered which made passing and dribbling super slow. Dude doesn’t even realize it’s 2023 and that even Everton players will need to put the ball on the ground occasionally. Yes, it slowed us down and made the game ugly but it felt like every time they tried to make a pass on the ground, Arsenal were there to take the ball away from them and restart the (boring) attack. Dyche blamed the players after the match, of course, saying that they were too slow and timid in transition. Fucking lol. A delicious pair of own goals from the man most likely to be replaced by Sam Allardyce in November.

What else to talk about… hmm…

I thought Arteta was pretty funny bringing on Havertz and Tomi to shore up the defense in the 80th minute. The thing I keep seeing from people is that “Havertz excels at off ball stuff”. Yeah, ok, so we paid 75m for a forward defender? And like, uhh, can’t pretty much anyone do that? Look, I’m not a Havertz hater. I just think he’s going to take a year to get up to speed at Arsenal and people talking about his “off ball work” are really stretching credulity. We didn’t pay 75m for a guy who ‘defends real good’ at the #8. Ultimately, he’s going to be judged by the number of goals and assists he gets. He might get a pass if we win the Champions League or something but if he doesn’t score or assist (a lot), he will be considered a bad buy. Sorry! I don’t make the rules.

What else?

Oh yeah, David Raya had a good game. He was brought in to claim all of Everton’s high balls (which always sounds funny to me, an American) and he claimed all the high balls. He also showed off his excellent range of passing and kicked some absolute boomers. As I said on twitter, this man fucks. After the match Arteta was incredibly tetchy about the (extremely normal) questions about why he “rotated” keeper. He, apparently, wants to change football and make it normal to rotate keepers and even substitute a keeper in a game. I’m an iconoclast so I like watching people try new shit but even for me it’s a heck of a position to take. Let’s see if Arteta sticks with it and actually does rotate or if Raya is the new number one. Based solely on this one game (and all the data from last season), I consider Raya to be the better of the two keepers. I like Aaron, he’s outspoken and a funny guy. But this is sport and in sport sometimes the most likeable guy doesn’t win. I mean, look at Diego Costa. His entire birth country hates him.

Anyways, that’s it. I’ve blathered on too long. Tomorrow I’ll post about disc golf so feel free to skip it if you’re a hater! lol.

Bottom line: good win, good lineup. 100% would record the game in the future and watch it after disc golf, on 3x speed.


*Typically Jesus saves but this time the one set of footprints in the sand was when Arteta carried Jesus.


  1. LOL. “When Arteta carried Jesus”… your Christian fundamentalist roots are showing, T-Dizzle. 😎

    Dyche is such a pillock. My son and I were watching the game, and even he wondered why our passing was slow. When I mentioned that Dyche likely left the pitch unwatered and uncut, the 10 y/o quite reasonably asked why that was allowed. The fact the commentator (Warnock?) almost immediately noted that Dyche let the grass grow long was great for my credibility.

    After a good discussion about the roots of “home field advantage”, I was left to wonder what is the point of a Sam Dyche. So negative.

    Regarding the keeper rotation, I think Arteta is just crazy enough to try and normalize keeper rotation. I have heard enough talk about whether Arteta could ever eclipse Wenger to wonder whether, perhaps, Arteta sees this as an opportunity to revolutionize the game in a similar manner to the way Wenger changed approaches to player nutrition and training.

    Don’t know, but interesting speculation (to me at least…)


    1. I was fundamentalist Christian, because let’s face it, those girls with the big bangs in the 80s were hot!

  2. I believe Arteta sees Raya as his number one. Raya, too, is an excellent goalkeeper. He is so cool as a cucumber in goal. Early days though…

  3. Arteta really doesn’t rotate any other position, so it would be very out of character for him to rotate keepers. I think it is just more misdirection from him.

  4. Going to be interesting to see what happens in the next month or so on the GK front. Rotating in the CL group stages is not too unusual. But we have Spurs and City coming up. If Raya starts those, the writing will be on the wall. And while I’d love to have Ramsdale as a backup, he’s too good to want to stay as that.
    Not sure what to make of the Havertz situation. He’s certainly got potential, but we paid a very large sum for him to be just “OK”. Ward-Prowse and Maddison both went for a lot less, and at this point, look like better value.

    1. Ward Prowse couldn’t play in the Arsenal system. He’s a terrible defender and extremely one dimensional. Maddison is just going to revert top being Maddison soon. The whole Spurs love-in right now is pretty funny. They will go back to imploding on a regular basis soon.

      1. Not disagreeing about those two, but Havertz is not currently showing much better. Ward-Prowse is limited, but he cost half as much. Maddison was more, but still a lot less than Havertz. If Havertz plays to his Leverkuesen self, he’s worth it. Right now I’d say he’s not.

  5. I had a good friend in town who was a co-captain of our high school soccer (as we say here) team. He doesn’t follow the game at all. I was really excited to watch Arsenal with him to try to convert him. The absolute worst game to choose. Dyche was so intent on sucking any joy out of the game. I was hoping we’d get an early goals (we kinda did) and them we could go on to batter them. Instead it was all of the stereotypical things US people complain about the beautiful game. Nothing ever happens. It’s boring. FFS yesterday was among the worst Arsenal games I’ve ever seen. And now there’s no chance my friend will be an Arsenal convert. I hate you Sam Dyche.

    Raya is so much quicker in execution and decision making than Ramsdale – I find there to be no comparison – much as I love Rambo. Taking more crosses completely sealed the deal. Kudos to Arteta for recognizing a place to up-level. Not sure we’ll ever have a true keeper rotation, but if it happens I’d love to see the innovation work. With 5 subs, it becomes a possibility.

    So happy Trossard got a goal – will do wonders for him, especially with Martinelli out for at least a few weeks (ugh). Vieira and Martinelli have to be wondering if they will EVER get a chance to show off their bromance on field. I think that is a partnership to watch.

    I like having options at every position. We might be a bit moring, but we’re even better than last year.

  6. Good review. Enjoyable.
    Dyche is a moron you are right, my nephew (a fellow gooner) with a few of his mates bumped into him in a local pub in nottingham (where dyche is from) a year and a half back – said he was so thick and arrogant. They spent about an hr with him chatting football. My nephew who is a bright articulate guy tried to talk genuinely and politely with interest to him about his thoughts on Arsenal and Wenger years and Dyche just spent most of the time talking about how much money he’s made and how much of a great coach he is. Thinking he was somehow funny he kept calling my nephew and his mates snoop dog and crew (as they are mixed heritage and black). Just sums up what a knob the guy is.

    1. Jesus, what a bellend. Dyche is what Blogs’ “Angriest Man on Twitter” looks like in my mind.

  7. Some real talk re Havertz, nice. I’ll add that an Arsenal fan being “objective” about handing Chelsea silly money is simply not going to happen. Reviewing this next year makes more sense than “look at his xPosition” or whatever.

    Also, rotating keepers *within* the same competition is crazy to me. If it turns out to be crazy inspired, I’ll hold my hands up. At the moment, the best case is that it turns out to not matter drastically, given that 5 subs is here to stay.

    Yay three points!

  8. I’m on tour, home for a couple of days, but it’s a struggle to remember where I was for this match (Sunday, right?) which I managed to watch before soundcheck. What’s my name? Boring, boring Arsenal, though. I think I watched the grass grow longer in that 1st half. Everton plugged up the midfield and we had no Liquid Plumber until the 2nd half. But Saka’s deft give and go to Trossard was all it took, no plunger needed. What a finish from the Belgian! Looking forward to Champions League finally and $pu!s. At least these will come at us and play.

  9. Similar sentiments about our latest controversial German ‘superstar’. He seems to have the tools but the implementation just seems to not be clicking. Hopefully he doesn’t need to take one full season to bed in because I would hate to rewatch a Granit Xhaka-esque Sequel.

    Glad that Vieria looks like the livewire we hope our Portuguese man of war would be (cue City’s Bernardo). Some of his passing has been pin point and incisive. Needs to cont’d to up his game so that we could feel less sorrow about our #29.

    Man our Belgian Leandro is great. He does reminds me of a certain Alexis, minus all the turnovers. Dude has such wonderful technique, close control, vision and decision making. He is such a joy to watch and makes the absence of Nelli better to stomach.

    Now back to the glamour of the Champions League, here we go!

  10. Boring away to Everton is fine. I was concerned that Arsenal may concede an equalizer toward the end, but the team kept the ball, conceded only one corner, and thus Everton managed to setup only one or two bouts of head tennis in Arsenal’s box.

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