Mikel’s master plan is beguiling Guardiola…


The current doom-and-gloom around the club is palpable, and why wouldn’t it be? We’ve now dropped four or six points depending on your maths, and it doesn’t look like Saliba will return to the fold anytime soon. What once looked like a worrying wobble has started to more closely resemble a full-on implosion. A draw away to Liverpool? Most of us take that​—except that followin​g it with two more draws to relegation fodder feels ex post facto like all three make for an unholy triumvirate. Still, maybe​—just maybe, this is all part of a game of 4D chess…

Maybe Arteta has set a trap here, tolerating a few draws to, well, draw Guardiola in. Somewhere in the back of Pep’s paranoid mind, he must be wondering what this is all about. We’re wobbling, aren’t we? We’re a young squad without enough battle-tested veterans, right? We’re crumbling before everyone’s very eyesPerhaps this is precisely what Arteta has in mind. We convince everyone, Pep’s minions included, that we’re ripe for the harvest. Come and cull us already, Pep. We’re done.

And yet.

Think of the storyline. Think of the colossal, earth-shattering consequences of Arsenal, a club licking wounds both literal and figurative, players on their last legs and shorn of all confidence, stumbling into the Etihad and springing the trap—Saka and Jesus and Martinelli are moving with confidence and verve, unsettling an opponent that had grown complacent, one that looking ahead to a riveting, season-defining clash with Real Madrid on the assumption that the Prem was already theirs…

All season long, there have been the nagging doubters—Liverpool and Chelsea have been basket-cases, Arsenal have been lucky, Man City are still clearly superior, etcetera etcetera—and what better way to shut their pieholes than by tempting them to gloat smugly even more about how we’ve bottled it, just as they’d been saying all season long, only to shove a shocking defeat of City at the Etihad down their smug throats?

Sure, it’s unlikely, and it’s far-fetched of me to suggest that Arteta or anyone else had a plan to drop points in three consecutive matches to allow this jaded juggernaut to draw to within a mere five points of us with two games in hand, one of them this very same fixture I’ve been banging on about.

This is 1989 all over again. We desperately need a vital victory over the only rival who can deny us the title. Who will be our Michael Thomas? Who will go into hostile territory and score a dramatic, death-defying goal and then flop about ecstatically like an electrified fish? City players are down, absolutely…abject. Haaland is down, Rodri is down, Guardiola just stands there…

Okay, so the allusion isn’t quite apt. We would still have five more matches to play, City six. Still, though. Set aside your despair, your despondency. Let your dream of adding a league title to those we’ve won at Anfield, at White Hart Lane, at Old Trafford. This wouldn’t quite join those achievements, but it would come close and feel just as good, if not perhaps better given Man City’s enormous financial advantages. Just…dream it.

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3 thoughts on “Mikel’s master plan is beguiling Guardiola…

  1. palladio43


    What flavor of Kool-Aid are you drinking? Pepe does need to overthink the situation he has the equivalent of Ivan Vasilyevich Drago (Russian: Иван Васильевич Драго) in Haaland and our only hope is overconfidence and lack of endurance, and, maybe, the equivalent of Ludmilla Vobet Drago (Brigitte Nielsen), to sap Haaland’s “precious bodily fluids” (to borrow from Dr Strangelove).

    Seriously, something has gone wrong or, quite possibly, reality finally caught up with Arsenal. One of the differences, between football (yes, I do mean soccer) and basketball is that a coach/manager in basketball can call for a timeout when he sees the opposition gaining momentum or the game getting out of hand. It is harder to do in football unless there is stoppage and may require, except for half-time, making changes, etc or yelling out the players and trying to alter their mind-set. Based upon these three recent games, even including the comeback on Friday, Arteta does not read the situation quickly enough nor does he make the necessary changes. Of course, nothing can be done about brain cramps on the parts of the players, which, as best I can see, has infected more and more of the squad.

    Winning the PL has moved from probable, before the Liverpool match to a miracle before the City match. It is, of course, mathematically possible, but we no longer have much control over the outcome.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      If he has Ivan Drago, we have Rocky Balboa. Last I checked, Drago won the first bout. That means…I should stop there. I’ll admit I’m clutching at straws here. If we can even find a draw, I’d be thrilled. That would preserve our five-point gap, but we still have to host Chelsea and Brighton and visit Newcastle, each one a possible poison pill. I’m not quite ready to quit just yet, as my last two posts have shown, but I understand the difference between hoping and expecting.

  2. ​Eoin

    sorry john but time’s up. it was fun while it lasted but there is no way we go into the Etihad and win with the way we’ve been playing the last month or more. at least we’ll have Champions League football next season and of course we restored St. Totteringham’s Day to its rightful place!


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