Hey folks - sorry this is a little later than usual, but I'm out in Los Angeles and decided that the beach at Santa Monica was a better way to spend the rest of my day than writing about this dreck. However, I have some time to kill while I wait for my phone to charge, so quickly, before I hit my hotel bar:
1. Arsene dropped Alexis Sanchez for a match of this magnitude because, well, of course he did. Your guess is as good as mine.
Look, I've said in this very parish a few times that I don't like how Alexis seems to dictate his own playing time, and I stand by that. But, my god, we looked lost at sea without him. I was watching the match with an Everton mate that lives out here now, and I said to him at one point: "I don't know what our tactic is. I don't know what we're supposed to be doing. I don't know what the bloody point of this is."
I stand by that, too.
2. Goals one and two were a same-old same-old defensive ricket that we've seen to have written the definitive how-to on at this point: Fullbacks caught central, leaving a man on the back post for an easy chance.
It was Hector on the first and Nacho on the second, but what's the difference, really? Sometimes it's been Andre Santos, others Carl Jenkinson or Calum Chambers, others Mathieu Debuchy or Kieran Gibbs. The personnel doesn't seem to matter, and it's been happening often enough where it's simply something that Arsene doesn't know how to coach out of this team at this point.
If we all can notice it out here, why does a well-remunerated football manager fail to spot it?
3. Speaking of Hector, that may have been his worst performance in an Arsenal shirt. At one point, Everton Mate turned to me, shook his head and said "He is having an absolute mare".
He wasn't wrong.
The only thing I can think of is that he must have forgotten that he wasn't in London, and that the guys in red weren't his mates. If you have an alternative theory for how he gave the ball away so often, I'd love to hear it. Dude is a hell of a talent, but he's not ALL the way there yet. And, there's no accountability because, honestly, who would we replace him with if we wanted to bench him for a game or two? Gabriel? Jenks? Debuchy? Do me a favor.
4. As for our Alexis replacement, Olivier Giroud tried but he was a bit off the pace all game long. He was hobbling a bit by the 20th minute or so, and I distinctly remember him taking some sort of pill a few minutes after that.
He's another where I am going to stop well short of calling for his head or anything silly like that. I rate him as a player. But, if he's that injured, shouldn't he have come off? Especially when it was an excuse to get our best player back on the field, when the experiment to drop him completely fell flat?
5. From this point on, anyone who calls Francis Coquelin a "defensive midfielder" should be beaten with a wet noodle.
Calling him a defensive midfielder is like calling the "Cash Me Ousside" girl a Rhodes Scholar. You *could* do it, but you'd be a bit of a muppet for doing so.
Like Bellerin, Coquelin gave the ball away at almost every opportunity. He also took a spectacularly stupid yellow card, and other than that? What is his purpose?
6. Also, if someone can tell me what a Granit Xhaka does, I'd be most appreciative. His yellow card was absolute refereeing incompetence (way to not send off Emre Can there, Mr. Brave English Referee), but other than that I barely remember that he played.
7. We do remember that Danny Welbeck played, though. While I honestly think Simon Mignolet should have done a bit better on that one, at least Welbz was in the thick of the action, actively trying to make something happen. The only other person you could say that about? Alexis, when he came on.
8. Insert thing about Arsene having no tactics, no plan, no anything here. I'm tired of writing it and you're tired of reading it.
9. Ummm...really struggling for 10 things here.
10. Kidding aside, I think we have to come to accept that top four is gone, and there almost surely will be no St. Totteringham's this year. You can point to Player A's performance here, or Player B's performance there, but it misses the point.
These are, on paper, top-class individual talents...just like we've had for years. We've had individual good results, just like we've had for years. We've had shit results against the best teams, just like we've had for years.
There's one common denominator here.
Again, you're sick of reading, I'm sick of writing...so I won't do the rant in full. But, real talk? This is all getting a bit fucking boring now. I am finding myself wishing the season would just end, and as a supporter for the vast majority of my life (I'm almost 40), that sucks.
Man of the Match: Gini Wijnaldum, I guess?