Week 9: Arsenal rise to second in a mirth-filled weekend

Tacoma has the worst freeway congestion I have ever seen. Everything south of Fife all the way to 56th street is backed up, every day. The cars move, but slowly. There are no accidents. The problem is that there is a merge on from two different traffic streams in the middle of a curve and a merge off that is the only way to get downtown, then a bottleneck as there is a merge off significantly further down the road. It’s simply a design flaw.

The state of Washington just spent millions of dollars improving the biggest stream of traffic, Highway 16, and northbound traffic on that highway now backs up all the way to Union. They are spending millions more making the road wider down by the Dome. Another idea I guess, but I don’t think it’s going to work because no matter how many lanes you put in there, there will always be people going from Highway 16, cutting across the 38th street merge, and heading into downtown Tacoma. I know, because I do it, often.

There’s something here about the best laid plans and about spending money and not getting the results you want. I’m pretty sure this is a metaphor.

This weekend, Arsenal drew 0-0 against Middlesbrough but I expected that. Missing Santi Cazorla, as I have pointed out time and again, is a huge blow to Arsenal’s offense. He doesn’t provide a huge burst of stats, there’s no smoking gun in terms of his key passes or assists, but when he’s missing, Arsenal are quantifiably worse as I wrote in my By the Numbers column on ArseblogNews.

Cazorla’s injury is the reason why Arsenal didn’t win the title last year. Well, Cazorla’s injury and the fact that Arsenal couldn’t find a way to adapt. And that’s a key thing: you can’t always rely on having your best players in their best form, you have to find ways to adapt.

I was actually hoping that Özil would step up and fill Cazorla’s tiny little shoes. But the German was off the pace, he had run himself ragged getting a hat trick in mid week.

Alexis wasn’t tired and did his best to get Arsenal the winner but without a second or third player in the team, to help alleviate the defensive pressure, Alexis was often left to toil up front on his own. Boro had it easy as well, because Arsenal played in long crosses to the diminutive forward and despite his heroic leaping ability, he was always going to come off second in aerial duels with a team like Boro who thrive on aerial duels.

And if I sound sanguine about all this, I am. Arsenal are second on the table. Level on points with Man City and Liverpool, but behind on goal difference to City. And this weekend’s results were quite enjoyable, thank you very much!

Tottenham were held to a goalless draw against Bournemouth. City were held to a 1-1 draw with Southampton. Liverpool barely beat West Brom 2-1 and that brought them level on points with Arsenal and City. But the best moment of the weekend was watching Chelsea destroy Manchester United 4-0.

In case you’re new to the Premier League, Jose Mourinho is the current manager of Man U. Last season, he was the manager of Chelsea, a club he managed previously to great success, but one which he was fired from in mid season when he lost the dressing room.

Actually he was spectacularly fired from Chelsea as he thrashed around blaming every player for betraying him, blaming the physios, firing the physios, blaming Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (his favorite thing to do), blaming the referees and their “conspiracy” against Chelsea, and so much more. It was almost as fun to watch that unfold as it’s going to be to watch him do all this over again at Manchester United.

I only take joy in watching Mourinho fail because I have no compassion for Jose Mourinho. Mourinho is one of the biggest jerks in football. For example on his unveiling at Manchester United, he was asked if he had to prove himself and his answer was…

“There are some managers that last won a title 13 years ago. Some managers have never won a title. The last time I won a title was one year ago. If I have a lot to prove, then imagine the others!”

That “13 years ago” bit is a swipe at Arsene Wenger. At his unveiling at his dream job, the biggest managerial position in England, with the biggest budget to buy the best players, Mourinho’s answer is “what about Arsene Wenger?”

After that press conference Mourinho and Man U went out and bought the world’s most expensive hood ornament: Paul Pogba. To say that Pogba has been struggling and that Mourinho has struggled to find the best system around Pogba is an understatement.

And after the match, Mourinho did what Mourinho does: he threw his players under the bus. Chris Smalling (the United center back) was at the heart of all four goals and so in his presser, Mourinho said that the “globality” of the team was great but the defensive errors cost them the points. This is Mourinho’s entire coaching mentality, like Donald Trump, he sets himself up as the only one who has all the answers to all the problems: he’s the strong man, he’s the self proclaimed “special one”. And when players make mistakes, he publicly berates them for it. I think he thinks that’s motivating, but like we saw with Chelsea, it destroys players.

So, yeah, I take great joy in watching this human veruca fail after his summer and I hope he takes Man U down with him. After all, it’s their fault for hiring him, it’s not like they didn’t know who he was — he was fired last year from his job for being the biggest asshole ever!

United passed up the chance to hire club legend Ryan Giggs, who might not have been the best choice but who doesn’t have any baggage and would have been instantly beloved by the fans, and instead hired the most hated man in football because they thought he might get them a title. Well, it’s looking like they might have none of the benefit of Mourinho and all of the drawbacks.

It’s still early in the season and I’d be a fool to write off United. The top of the table is tighter than an oyster right now. Five teams have either 19 or 20 points and between 9 and 11 positive goal difference. The teams are Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Tottenham. The battle for the top four between those five teams is going to be epic. And of course, Arsenal dropping points to a “winnable” match like against Boro stings. But I do have to find joy in something and looking down there at Man U with their 14 points and +1 goal difference, sitting in 7th place, is pretty funny.


Related articles