23 April 2017

The FA Cup: where Mancs' hopes go to die...

It wasn't supposed to be like this, not after trudging just barely past Middlesbrough and being embarrassed at Selhurst Park. We were supposed to fold, to crumble, to pull up tent-stakes. The early signals were there: we went down 0-1. City had a goal wrongly disallowed and struck woodwork not once, but twice. That new 3-4-3 formation was getting picked apart. However, from somewhere, from the deepest of depths, we summoned something. Maybe it's the magic of the FA Cup. Maybe it's something to do with Wembley. Maybe Guardiola's a bit of a fraud. Whatever the proximate cause, the effect is that Arsenal's going to Wembley for the FA Cup final! Whether that's enough to resurrect a season is another question for another day. For now, it's enough to announce that we defeated Guardiola's Man City squad, denying him silverware for the first time in his managerial career. Whatever. For now, let's get to the player-ratings poll!

21 April 2017

Urgency, Intensity, Desire: can Arsenal one-up Man City?

Be careful what you wish for, the tired old saying goes. And so it is with the FA Cup semifinal. Given a selection of drawing Tottenham, Chelsea, or Man City, how many of us heaved a sigh of relief at drawing City? At this stage of the FA Cup, of course, it's rare that one gets to choose a non-League side. Still, such are the state of things that we'd prefer to avoid our North London rivals, at least for now, preferring to face a side that was finished first or second in the Prem in four of the last five seasons. Man City may not intimidate the way they used to, and we've actually done tolerably well against them of late, perhaps well enough to engender a bit of hope if not confidence?

20 March 2017

The perfect solution to Arsène's situation!

It's Sophie's Choice. It's Solomonic. It's having our cake and eating it, too. For years, as the debate over Arsène's tenure and legacy have waxed and waned, we've pondered what it might mean for the club's fortunes to see the manager of the last 20 years—the only manager many fans have ever known—step down. Would we fall out of the top four? Would we see an end to the twenty-year streak of celebrating St. Totteringham's Day or of qualifying for Champions League play? After all, we've watched it unfold over at Old Trafford even as they've spent bucketloads on transfers and cycled through managers. Wouldn't it be better for Arsène to stay on long enough to win one more trophy and hand the reigns over to someone who can build from momentum? After the debacle at the Hawthorns, however, we might just have our compromise solution...

05 March 2017

And, lo, the scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight...

So. It's come to this, at long last. I'm done with Arsène. I've stood by him through some of the leaner times, defended him with by-now battered canards such as "consistency matters" and "Champions League qualification is an achievement", parried his critics by pointing out that he financed a stadium. I've finally reached my limit. I accept what many others have long ago decided: it's time for Arsène to go. It's not even about the result at Anfield. Or the Allianz Arena or Stamford Bridge. Losses at any one of those is understandable, and losses at three might even be acceptable. However, it's how we've lost that's shaken me.

03 March 2017

Let's make like Leicester and lay waste to Liverpool, shall we?

For those still suffering from the Bayern battering, it might come as some consolation to learn that Liverpool found a way to lose to Leicester, becoming in the process just the sixth such squad to do so. Enough with the alliteration. Such is the state (sorry) of our own squad that the tea-leaves suggest that Liverpool's loss only primes the pump for us to get clobbered at the Kop. Again, apologies. On a more optimistic level, there are few squads more frail at the moment than Liverpool's; it is therefore all the more essential that we turn the screws on their season and, at the risk of mixing our metaphors, drive home one more nail in the coffin of their campaign.

23 February 2017

Tottenham bottle it again, or, on the perils of schadenfreude...

Oh, to be a Gooner. Am I right? Tottenham have not only been dumped from Champions League play, they've now out-Tottenhammed themselves out of the Europa League, courtesy of a 2-3 aggregate loss to Gent, occupiers of the eighth spot on the highly esteemed Belgian First Division. What's more, Chelsea, shorn of any European entanglements whatsoever, square off against Man U in the FA Cup's fifth round. On top of that, Man City face a dicey FA Cup replay against Huddersfield and an even dicier second leg in UCL play after winning 5-3 over Monaco. In short, our Prem rivals are on the ropes, are they not?