Tag Archives: Brighton

#ArtetaOUT trends after SHOCK loss to lowly BRIGHTON!

A shocking defeat to the likes of Brighton in the League Cup third round has ruthlessly exposed Mikel Arteta as little more than Guardiola’s cone-man who is way out of his league and in way over his head, and it’s only a matter of time before this cruel truth—those two consecutive eighth place finishes and bottling fourth place last season a a truer reflection of his capabiliites (or should I say lack thereof) than winning the FA Cup or somehow getting to the top of the table. It’s only a matter of time before the wheels come off because the fairy-tale season is over. Well, that’s what you might get elsewhere, but you won’t get that here…except as an attempt at mocking the kind of over-reactive clickbait that passes for journalism.

Instead, I’ll offer you this: Arteta made ten changes to the side that defeated Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, motivated possibly by a desire to rest key players, give others important roles and minutes, and maybe even progress to the fourth found of this competition, one that hasn’t really mattered to this club since we almost won it back in 2011. With Tottenham and Chelsea also crashing out, the chances of winning it did increase, but there’s still Man City and Liverpool to consider. In the end, Arteta came close to having his cake and eating it too. After all, Nketiah scored from a great run-and-pass from Nelson, and he came close to drawing us level but struck the post—and we did create opportunities. 57% possession and 23 shots do show a respectable threat level even if the quality of the players on the pitch didn’t rise to the level necessary. Brighton are no mugs.  They’re 6th in the Prem after all and look better than they did under Potter.

Instead of revealing much about Arteta’s qualifications, the result reveals something we all know—there’s a large drop-off in quality between our first and second teams, especially in key positions. The Lokonga-Elneny midfield offers nothing going forward and very little in front of defense. It seems clear that none of Nelson, Vieira, Marquinhos, or Nketiah is ready to play in the top flight, at least for a side that wants to challenge for a Prem title (or, apparently, this bit of silveware). If Arteta did flounder, perhaps it was in throwing on Jesus, Xhaka, Martinelli, and Zinchenko late on, depriving them of the rest he ostensibly tried to give him in the first place. One might as well start strong, try to grab an early lead, and then replace creative players with defensive ones. By contrast, consider that Antonio Conte, frequently held up as the kind of world-class manager we should have gotten, started seven regulars against Nottingham Forest—who themselves made nine changes to their lineup—and Spurs limped to a 2-0 loss despite Forest going down to ten men for the last 15-20 minutes of the match. They may have lost Højbjerg to injury along the way.

In the end, then, there are tempests in teapots and mountains made of molehills. This result is one and the same with both. Yes, it’s fine and dandy like sour candy to win every match, but this is one competition we could take or leave. It gave valuable minutes to some players on whom we might have to depend more thoroughly without undermining our larger goals. They almost made the most of it. Let’s hope they learn and grow from the experience so that they’re better-prepared and more-determined for the next time they’re called on. As to the League Cup, let the likes of Man City, Liverpool, and Man U squabble over it while we chase a bigger prize.

As always, don’t be shy. Share your thoughts in the comments-section below the fold.

Arsenal 1-3 Brighton—Highlight clips as they become available

With the match unavailable anywhere (thanks, ESPN+), I’ll scour social media to post match highlights as fast as I can find them.

Sigh. It seems that Arteta either doesn’t rate the League Cup or figured a rotated side could still get the result. Oh well. Fewer matches to wear us down in pursuit of a trophy that is not all that impressive. On to the next match, then.


Vote for your XI vs. Brighton—and I'll pass it along to Mikel!

Ahead of our league cup tie with Brighton, I thought we might try something new, something daring, something dangerous. Okay, well, two out of three ain’t bad. Today, intrepid reader, you will get a chance at voting for our starting lineup, and I swear that I’ll do my level best to pass it along to Mikel or at least to one of his underlings who will give him the general gist of it. Arteta has talked about naming a strong side, saying, “You know there are no second chances and we’ll take it very seriously…We’re going to pick a very competitive team. I think everyone deserves chances, and we’ll make some changes with judgement in relation to the load of the players, but we’ll play to win.” Could be gamesmanship, could be serious; who knows? 

On one hand, it’s “only” the League Cup. It’s a trophy, and it’s worth winning. That said, if we can progress while also resting key players, so much the better—not that I’d ever try to skew the results of this entirely legitimate, not-at-all-unscientific poll. All that’s left for you to do is to get into the poll below. I’ll post the results a few hours before the match, plenty of time for Arteta to consider our wizened suggetions. Weigh your decisions carefully, then. Our ability to progress may very well depend on your decisions. After you cast your votes, weigh in in the comments-section below; share deeper thoughts about this particular fixture and your desire vis-a-vis this specific competition.

Once you complete the poll, you may have to scroll back up to see a summary of the results.

Rivals' Roundup #33: Hot potato, hot potato…

Well, I’ll say this. It’s a damned good thing that Brighton host Man U and West Ham between now and the end of the season, given how they’ve anointed themselves kingmakers or at least European comptetion, um, qualifier-cancellors… Truth be told, I don’t know the UCL/UEL equivalent of “kingmaker”. Suffice it to say that Brighton went from villain to ally within the span of just one week, all while we ourselves contented ourselves with playing Yakety Sax while roller-skating across a marble floor strewn with, well, marbles. The long and short of is that it seems like no squad really wants a fourth-place finish, and who could blame them? On current form, no squad would advance past the group stage of whichever competition it qualifies for next season. Let’s grit our teeth, then, and get through this. It’ll be fun, like a root canal or a colonoscopy.

3. Chelsea (30 played, 18W 8D 4L: 62 pts.).
Don’t care. Next.

4. Tottenham (32 played, 18W 3D 11L: 57 pts.).
Just when it seemed that Antonio Conte had worked his magic, just when it seemed that he had finally cast his spell over this squad, conjuring form and courage and conviction out of a collection of misfits, along came Brighton to not only avenge their loss to Tottenham a few weeks ago but to also remind us of how fortunate Tottenham have been of late to have faced the likes of Aston Villa, Newcastle, and, erm, Brighton. Truth be told, they’ve padded their goal difference at a crucial time, but a slip-up like this loss to Brighton should remind us all that, lads, it’s Tottenham. It’s not as if they hadn’t been warned. We were generous enough to serve the warning papers just last weekend. It’s almost as if Conte’s Kids were so busy putting together scrapbooks and DVDs that they forgot that they still have to show up and play. Unlike Brighton’s previous outing, they outplayed their hosts and thoroughly deserved the win. It’s as if Spurs, in addition to being, well, Spurs, are afraid of finishing fourth.

5. Man U (32 played, 15W 9D 8L: 54 pts.).
Man U announced their top-four aspirations loud and clear by thoroughly and decisively thrashing [checks notes]… Norwich? Well, they at least surged to an early lead only to relent a bit only to let their opponents score a few pointless consolation goals…right? No? Well, failing that, they at least executed a Rangnickian (Rangnickesque?) game plan to perfection, harrying and pressing an inferior opponent into groveling submission. That’s it. That’s the ticket. Wait—you’re telling me that they had to rely on Ronaldo to settle once and for all, unequivocally throughout the space-time continuum, that he is indeed the solution rather than the cause of many of Man U’s problems. So thorough was the squad-wide contribution to the evisceration of a spirited and determined rival that pundits and ITKs have pencilled Man U in as the odds-on favourites to not only qualify for next season’s Champions League but also to win it, with Ronaldo notching 26 hat tricks along the way. Which, of course, will prove that Rangnick knows what he’s doing. Or ten Hag. Or Pochettino. Or whoever it is who agrees to be Ronaldo’s handler next season.

6. Arsenal (31 played, 17W 3D 11L: 54 pts.).
Sigh. Crabs in a bucket. That’s what this is. These other clubs, those who have nothing really to play for, being safe from relegation and also distant from European spots, are spitefully and cruely denying us. What other explanation is there for our third loss in a row? It can’t be down to the injuries to Tierney, Partey, and Lacazette. It can’t be a reflection of just how paper-thin this squad is. It simply has to reveal that Arteta is and always has been a fraud. What other explanation can there be? It makes as much sense as claiming that Arteta was and always would be a world-class manager barely a month ago when we are all licking our lips at the prospect of not just finishing fourth but of overtaking Chelsea to claim a third-place finish, which would be our best since that 2015-16 campaign (which we’ll revisit later…). Let’s face facts, though—to finish fourth or even fifth would probably flatter us and exceed expectations. That it’s also feeling like a bitter pill reflects the fact that we had fourth in our grasp, only to let it slip and now have to look up at Tottenham. We do have some serious doubts, maybe even fears, given our upcoming fixtures, but there’s still time to meet if not exceed the modest expectations of the preseason. Please. I pray.

I’m not ready to re-admit West Ham. They’re the only club to have played the full 33, and it looks like they’re putting all of their eggs in the Europa League basket. They also have a brutal run-in now, having drawn Frankfurt along with some tough domestic fixtures. We can derive some cold comfort from the idea that we’re dropping them from the roundup, but that does nothing to alleviate our concerns about the month come. We had to know we would be dropping points; we just didn’t figure this would happen against the mediocre mid-table types. Still, it ain’t over ’til those four colourful Australians of various sexual orientations sing. They’re warming up, though…

Brighton 0-0 Arsenal: Well, at least Maupay didn't maim anyone…

Yes, it’s a point claimed, but, more importantly, Neal Maupay didn’t jeoardise anyone’s careers like he did towards the end of the 2019-20 campaign, going in for a pointless and reckless challenge on Leno, crashing into Leno, who had already claimed the ball. That gave rise to and eventual sale of Emi Martinez, may have ended Leno’s position as our #1 keeper, and almost certainly spelt the end of Matteo Guendouzi’s tenure as well. All of that because of the actions of the kind of smirking, malevolent, thirteen year old who’d step on the heels of your sneakers, swipe  your Galaxy Minstrels, and act like he invented the calculator trick in which you type 55378008 and turn it round for some naughty word-play. As if to show that his juvenile delinquency has spread throughout the club, Brighton tweeted out an image of Maupay in a mock-crying pose because, well, playing the part of the antagonist from Diary of a Wimpy Kid is apparently something to aspire to. #Lifegoals, Neal. #Lifegoals indeed.

Enough about that pissant other than to say it’s a pity he didn’t have a go at Ramsdale, who’s built like a brick shithouse and would have sent Maupay to the shadow realm, never to return. There was bound to be an emotional letdown after thrashing Spurs last weekend, even moreso because the result suggested to us that we had rounded a corner and were set for smooth sailing. Unfortunately, Graham Potter knows what he’s doing (as evinced by the fact that we faced him and his squad this week as opposed to last week).

The proof is in the pudding. As was to be expected, Brighton were well-drilled, organised, and stout defensively whilst also being adventurous going forward. They had a number of point-blank chances, some they fluffed, some Ramsdale saved, and we should certainly see this as a point earned rather than two dropped. Our brightest lights were strangely dim aside from a few flashes here and there, and credit Potter and his squad for keeping us on the backfoot for most of the match. Potter himself said in the post-match that “in terms of performance, it was as good as I can remember…this performance gives us a lot of hope and belief going forward.” It’s perhaps a sign of how different our fortunes lie that a scoreless draw prompts such optimism from our opponent while we have to clench our teeth and grumble. Then again, it’s not as if our manager selected a side that left more than one million pounds in weekly wages on the bench as Ole At The Wheel did when he left Ronaldo, Pogba, and Sancho on the bench. But I digress.

At any rate, we’ve now taken 10 points from our last four matches and have moved from the bottom of the table to the top 9/20th. For as good as our defense has been since the debacle at the Etihad, there are some urgent questions still to be asked about our attack. We’ve scored just five goals in the league so far, three of those against Tottenham, and we’re only club in the top half of the table with a negative goal difference. We have a number of tricky but winnable fixtures coming up after the international break— visits from Palace, Villa, and Leeds (that one in the League Cup) and then a trip to King Fox to face Leicester. That’s four matches in 12 days. It would be just splendid to see us take a minimum of seven points from the nine on offer while advancing to the League Cup quarterfinal, seeing as how that’s step one of our domestic treble. We’ll have to find a more a remedy for this toothless attack, though.

Speaking of toothlessness, we may have escaped AmEx without serious injuries, but I’m bemused to report that Gabriel has once again lost a tooth against Brighton. That’s two.