Mid-table opposition for us tonight. From my sickbed this one. I was actually forbidden from going by a doctor after some spluttering gitbag on an Eva Air 777 gifted me a respiratory virus. So BT Sport it is. The only satisfied party is Bertie my Feline Overlord, because we now basically live on his schedule of sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, eat a bit, sleep. If all of this suffering doesn’t make me thinner I will be devastated.
The Others: Not a lot else going on tonight, other than Everton initially proving that it isn’t f*cking difficult to beat Newcastle and then going to sleep and City making a meal out of yet another game.
Us: James injured, Emerson starts, Kovacic comes in over Mount who drops to the bench.
Them: Bellerin back after shirking most of the season. At some point, he’s reflected on awful choices in life and cut his hair. BT resorted to showing Arsenal goals from ten years ago because there is nothing newer to excite their fans. Van Persie is a useless pundit. Predicts a 3-5 win for Arsenal. Says we’ve become likeable since Frank took over. Same will never be true of him. Stat wankery has also hit new levels. Using a vaguely mentioned collection of data, they have now claimed to pinpoint every time a team SHOULD have scored. Yes, apparently now they will tell you what your “expected goals” tally is measured against what you’ve actually scored. We should have scored 23 goals this season. And we’ve drop nine. Which is more than any other side. So in the figment of some sad b*stard’s completely f*cked up imagination, we suck. Right.
Here’s one for them to cling to. In the opening two minutes they had 96% possession. If they were Sp*rs they would have a DVD made. Half run from the Goons early, but then we broke free and it took Luiz and a block for them to get away with just a corner. Sham clearance from Kepa will have got a fair few people moaning. A Kovacic shot was blocked on six, at the expense of any future children Mustafi might have wanted. Build-up play for that was excellent.
Torreira made a complete arse of himself rolling about on the floor as we waited to take a corner. Apparently a glancing blow from Dave’s arm is akin to being hit in the face by a wrecking ball judging by the hysterics that followed. Next corner saw the ball bounce off of Christensen, who just about headed it but it wasn’t under control and went nowhere near the goal. Hold the press, Ozil was running. David Luiz looks bizarre in a redshirt. Sort of like if you put Jeremy Corbyn in a tux. Point blank range for Tammy on 14. Cross from CHO, strong header across from Rudi and surely it had to go in. But no, he couldn’t quite get hold of it. At this point, we were building momentum and they hadn’t fashioned any kind of effort on goal. Not that that means anything with us. 16 minutes and CHO spotted Leno off his line. Think he was going to cross, but he hit a swinging shot that glanced off the bar. We’d had eight corners in little over 20 minutes, so you can’t say the attacking intent wasn’t there. Needed more to show for it though.
Tammy was away on 25, past Leno and running on an empty net when Luiz clattered in from behind. Mustafi’s fault, what a clown. Watching him defend must feel like Melania Trump every time her husband picks up a microphone. But a humiliating return to Stamford Bridge for Sideshow, who saw red for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity. He didn’t go at it like a maniac, but he still couldn’t temper his tackle so as to stay on the pitch. Jorginho stepped up: hop, skip and a jump and slides it into the right-hand corner of the net. Boom. 1-0 up against ten men.
Just taking the piss out of them at this point. Shot from CHO with the outside of his right foot required a flying save by Leno on 31. One way traffic, literally nothing going right for L’Arse. Loving Kovacic tonight. Dancing about all over the place. They actually got in our box on 37, but still couldn’t get a shot off. Arteta still hadn’t made a change, though Rob Holding was bobbing about on the sideline. They had however started stringing more than one pass together at a time. Even when we broke we looked either too scared or too lazy to press as the clock ticked down. Can we not be complacent, please. The first half petered out with them crying about a handball. Three Gooners giving it 1-0 and you still don’t sing. That there is called irony. If it’s possible, they look even worse than Sp*rs did in the giant toilet bowl a few weeks ago. Three-word team talk required by Frank at the break. “Kill, boys. Kill.”
Still no changes by Arteta as the second spell began. When they got the ball they were having a go, and who can blame them, they had nothing to lose at this point. They’ve got no dignity left. By 50 minutes they had resorted to playing football with their hands, though more through ineptitude than crafty intent. We needed to grab the game by the scruff of the neck again, as it was starting to look more like they still had a full complement on the pitch. Languid, was the only way to describe us. Unwilling to risk letting them in and so hanging back.
Guendouzi came on for Ozil, who despite accelerating above a walking pace once in the first half, had looked pointless again. Despite our unwillingness to finish them off, Arsenal had not had a single attempt on goal, on or off target in an hour of play. So you knew what was coming on 64 minutes. The usually infallible twins fell over, leaving Martinelli with a clear run on goal. Nothing Kepa could have done about that but Jesus f*cking wept, how did they end up two on one? Half an hour for us to get our sh*t together. A long-range punt from Rudi went straight into Leno’s arms. Barkley getting ready, on at the expense of Kovacic. Three of them down at once with non-existent injuries. In case you were in any doubt as to what their game plan was going to be going forward. Mason Mount also getting ready to come on for Kante.
73 minutes and they were feigning cramp. At this point I was, Lord knows why, reasonably confident. Bellerin was hanging out of his arse, Torreira looked broken. Header by Tammy caught easily on 76, Lacazette robbed Barkley on the edge of the box but luckily they squandered the benefit. Willian off for Batman. Going two upfront. They finally brought on Holding for Pepe, who was chased off the pitch for being a time-wasting git by the referee.
Ref/VARwatch: Atwell in charge, didn’t do anything to piss me off. Which I think might be a first. No intervention at all from the Virtual A*sehole Referee, which was glorious.
A floating ball in was delivered onto the head of Barkley but saved again. A corner followed corner. Batshuayi with a chance. Offside. My diatribe aimed at his silly ponytail and their subsequent time-wasting caused a coughing fit. DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAVE!!!!!!!! Tammy limping trying to get onside, Michy offside again, but Dave was a mile on, surged out of the crowd and poked the ball with his right foot. GET IN! 2-1 less than five minutes to go. Tammy on the ground, we’re too idiotic to put it out, Arsenal reaping the benefits, me howling at the TV, Bertie howling for food. Chaos. And then what happens? F*cking Bellerin, who cant put one foot in front of the other he’s so wasted goes and scores with his right foot? I don’t think I’ve seen Arsenal with this much backbone since before I took my GCSEs. Tammy devastated because he couldn’t do any better, Rudi screaming with rage. We are absolute morons.
It had effectively been ten against ten since Tammy buggered his foot. The Batman had the chance to be the hero as the minutes ran away from us, but couldn’t turn it it. Four minutes added on. I’d won a £40 bet but at this rate I’d have to spend all that on getting sh*tfaced. If only we’d put this much effort into attacking for the previous ninety minutes. I. Hate. Short. Corners.
So: I’m torn. I’ve not lost sight of the fact that for Frank to be in this position come the end of the season would be an incredible achievement. I will take it. But not without swearing tonight. A lot. I’m pretty sure that Frank is going to swear more. Because we’re getting sucked into a scrap to stay there. Yet again our management of the game from a commanding position was questionable. Could have been eight points clear of United tonight. Half that now. Lead squandered twice. How we are still even in fourth when we’re this erratic is baffling. Arsenal had bigger stones than us tonight. Just let that sink in for a moment. Arsenal.