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It was the best of times…

We went away to the reigning champions Liverpool after winning the first two matches of the new league season. Last time we had won the opening three matches was when we were the reigning champions, the mighty Invincibles aiming to protect their title in a rampaging start to the 2004-2005 season. Since then the fortunes of these two historical clubs of English football have seen a lot of twists and turns, often fighting against the tides to stay competitive at the top against the nouveau riche, having to rely on guile and craft as much off the field as on it. After an extraordinary 30 years of wait Liverpool finally won the league again last season, playing the most captivating football in a very long time, with a unique stylistic blend of relentless running and pressing and quickness of feet and mind. Whereas we had ended the last season with our lowest league position in more than two decades after a sequence of performances and results that even had raised the specter of a potential relegation fight before Mikel Arteta came to steady the ship, he duly had arrested the slide, got us a record 14th FA Cup, and a measure of smile and optimism back among the players and fanbase.

Even though Arsenal had won the last two matches against Liverpool – a come-from-behind 2-1 victory at home in the League and a penalty shoot-out win in the Community Shield at the start of the season – both of those matches had demonstrated clearly the gulf in the overall quality as we had to rely on back-to-the-wall defensive resilience and the ability to take every single chance coming our way from counter-attacks and forced errors to get the results. If we were to get anything out of this match we must be able to execute on a similar game-plan with a flawless efficiency.

We had last won at Liverpool way back in 2012, when Arteta was one of our senior players, and the then new boys Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski scoring the goals at the early days of the season. Since then under both Arsene and Unai Emery we have had a horrid run of results there. Liverpool had last lost at home in the league in April 2017, and in the last season they had secured 55 of available 57 points in the league at home.

So, the stage was set for a record-setting, season-defining upset!

Even though the pragmatist in us had been reminding ourselves of patience and realistic expectations, the starry-eyed optimist living inside each football fan was willing to trust the process Mikel has started to give us a performance and result to savor.

Since the restart of the last league season following the pandemic-enforced lockdown we have mostly started the matches in a 3-4-3 formation, but with a high degree of tactical fluidity in especially how the wingbacks are deployed with and without the ball. Even though the extra security in the defense – David Luiz especially swings between majestic to catastrophic depending on whether he is playing in the middle of back three or one of a defensive pair – offered by 3-4-3 remains tempting in the long run we cannot mount a serious challenge on the upper end of the league table playing with one less midfielder than what is mostly required in the modern football.

Arteta chose this match to start with a little bit more ambitious formation. He might have been thinking of the challenges ahead especially against so-called lesser teams who will just happily seat back against a 3-4-3 and not give any space for counter-attacks. Or he was certain that Klopp and his team will pore over our recent performances to find how best to exploit the midfield gaps left open by back three and wanted to out-guess the opponents.  

David Luiz and Holding as the defensive duo, Tierney back from last weekend’s injury in left back, Bellerin in right back. Leno behind them in goal. Since Emi Martinez has left for Aston Villa after a commanding series of performances towards the end of last season, a part of the fanbase have been a little too impatient with Leno who has been in my opinion one of our most consistent and composed performers in the last two shambles of seasons. 

The midfield had a lopsided feel with Xhaka and Elneny pivoting in the center and Maitland-Niles deployed more on the left side. Willian’s experience was trusted to play the dual role of patrolling the entire right side of the midfield and joining Bellerin in attack and defense. Captain Aubameyang and Lacazette in their customary roles carrying the expectations of scoring goals.  Dani Ceballos was left on the bench and some of us wondered whether against a team as aggressive as Liverpool his better close control wouldn’t have been more effective.  

Liverpool started the match at full flow and then getting even faster and more aggressive as the minutes progressed. Sadio Mane was floating across the entire frontline and troubling both our fullbacks with his pace, close control and physicality. He troubled Tierney a little too much when his elbow arrowed in fiercely on our sensational Scotsman’s face. If the actors were reversed, I have a feeling we would be playing with 10 men for the rest of the game. Mane saw a yellow. He had done something similar in the league match at our home last season, lashing out at Holding’s head.   

Aggressive and relentless Liverpool’s pressing might have been, it was admirable how we stuck courageously to the principle of playing out from the back despite the heart-stopping moments arriving at predictable regularity. I liked the confidence and the willingness to take responsibilities. But it was also abundantly clear that we do not yet have the right personnel at all the key positions to execute this game-plan effectively against the best pressing front line and midfield in all of football. Yet this was a clear and present improvement since the days of haphazard and inconsistent attempts at the same under the tutelage of Arteta’s predecessor.

We were under constant pressure and there was a goal-line headed clearance by Luiz from a corner following Holding’s last-ditch tackle. Corner again and Mo Salah had a clear sight on the goal from the edge of the box and shot over. Barely 12 minutes have passed and we were pinned back completely in our defensive third. We did manage to launch a couple of counter-attacks – Laca was fouled on the edge of their box from one (and no free-kick given) and from the other Auba’s flick Laca couldn’t catch on to.

Leno made an excellent save around 15th minute. Liverpool kept on attacking in short intense patterns of play, there were further attempts at our goal, some straight at Leno and some hit over the top.

Then we scored. It was against the run of the play and a Liverpool defensive mistaken contributed towards it, granted, but our flowing counter-attacking move was of a very high quality as well. Xhaka received the ball deep in our defensive left corner of the field, found himself with an extra second or so to be able to look up and then made a superlative pass through the middle to Lacazette playing in his customary false nine position, Laca kept the move alive by stretching his leg to divert the ball onto the path of marauding AMN down the left and kept running. Aubameyang started moving inside. Liverpool had seen this play before and they were wise to Auba’s intent and covered his run. On the other flank Willian sensed his chance and attacked the empty space on the right side of the Liverpool’s penalty box. AMN looked up and floated a cross aimed at Willian. Andy Robertson guessed the trajectory correctly and in an attempt to clear the ball lobbed it right in front of Laca who only had the goalkeeper to beat. He tried the old hit-on-the-ground-to-lift-over-the-goalkeeper routine, and channeled his inner Danny Welbeck to scuff the shot just the right amount to see it loop into their goal.

Liverpool 0 – Arsenal 1 (Lacazette 25’)

Now the key was to be able to hold on to this lead for a while. Hopefully at least until the end of the first half.

That hope evaporated within two minutes. Liverpool was played a good advantage by the referee – that indeed was a good bit of refereeing – after Luiz committed a foul just outside the box. Salah drove into the box and used his quick feet to take out Tierney. Luiz ambled back not fully sensing the danger, and neither did Willian who didn’t follow Mane’s run into the box. Salah’s stinging shot was saved by Leno but it felt kindly on the path of Mane – Bellerin too got drawn towards the ball – to tap in for the equalizer.

Liverpool 1 (Mane 27’)  – Arsenal 1 (Lacazette 25’)

Things got worse soon.  Van Dijk sent a typically accurate long ball on the feet of Alexander-Arnold who controlled it brilliantly. Then a quick interchange of passes between him, Firmino and Salah led to Alexander-Arnold with enough time and space to manufacture a perfect cross into the box. Both Holding and Bellerin attacked the header weary of Mane’s abilities in situations like this. No one again tracked Andy Robertson’s run in the box – Willian ball-watching and neither of Xhaka or Elneny wise to the situation – and as the ball fell on his feet with only Leno to beat from close quarters the Liverpool left back lifted the ball past Leno to atone for his mistake earlier.    

Liverpool 2 (Mane 27’, Robertson 34’ )  – Arsenal 1 (Lacazette 25’)

Willian evidently learned from the mistake as he made a fantastic tracking run and clearance around 38th minute to avoid us conceding a third goal. Luiz tried a couple of longballs on the path of Willian but those didn’t have enough backspin on them and went out of play.

The first half ended with us trailing and Liverpool looking commanding and formidable in every aspect of the game.

We started the second half with more attacking intent as our midfield duo moved up forward. Hardworking honest professionals though they are, and considerable qualities on the ball, Xhaka and Elneny unfortunately do not have the technical ability to play out of very tight position in the midfield and spring attacks quickly against the harrowing, maniac pressing-in-a-pack that Liverpool excels at.

Ceballos replaced Xhaka around 60th minute to bring in some sharpness in passing and a better ball retention. These are the kind of games where Xhaka’s limitations are painfully made obvious.

Ceballos had an immediate impact with a lovely pass splitting open the Liverpool’s defensive line to set Lacazette up one-on-one against Allisson. The Liverpool goalkeeper did well to narrow the angle down but a striker of Lacazette’s pedigree should still have been able to score from that chance. One wonders what if Aubameyang had the opportunity. Lacazette was disconsolate.

We pressed well, intelligently and with discipline. But Liverpool were ready for it and they used Van Dijk’s long-range passing abilities to get out of the press time and again. We made some positive substitutions searching for an equalizer: Pepe came on for Willian at 68th minute, Eddie came on for Lacazette at 73rd minute.

Despite the conviction, quality and speed in Liverpool’s play we stayed positive and didn’t really give up the fight and kept searching for the equalizer. Ceballos was playing particularly well with impressively controlling possession in tight spaces, making progressive passes and breaking through the lines with direct runs with ball on his feet.  We had a couple of corners that Pepe – who generally is excellent with his deliveries from free-kicks and corners – delivered flat on the near post. My explanation is that it was a training ground exercise planned to have us catch them off-guard. A less forgiving explanation is not entirely implausible.

Liverpool brought in fresh pairs of legs — the ancient Milner and the shiny new Diego Jota. Jota relished the pockets of space he was finding and the time to test Leno. With the amount of chances he was getting it seemed like a matter of minutes that the Liverpool debutant would open his scoring.  Alexander-Arnold was again given enough time on the ball to send one of his dipping crosses in the box. David Luiz headed tamely it back to Jota, who accepted the gift gleefully and finished well with a quality volley through the legs of Bellerin.         

Liverpool 3 (Mane 27’, Robertson 34’, Jota 89’ )  – Arsenal 1 (Lacazette 25’)

The match ended us with our first dropped points of the season, but most importantly a timely reminder of the long and arduous journey ahead for the club to get back to the position of prominence in the English football. However wonderful and satisfying the FA Cup run might have been, and however impressive the improvement in discipline, focus, organization and tactical maturity are now in display, this match underlined the need for strengthening in key areas, and also the need for patience and a higher tolerance for the ups-and-downs ahead than what has lately been demonstrated by at least some parts of the fanbase.

41 Drinks to “The Rocky Road Ahead”

  1. 1
    Countryman100 says:

    Comprehensive and well written match report Dr F. The game turned on the lack of a red card for Mane and Laca’s miss. But, in truth, Liverpool were the better team. If we beat Sheffield United at the weekend, we will have nine points from the first 12 and I will be content. We move on.

  2. 2
    bt8 says:

    Thanks Dr. F for an excellent report on a tough game. We are nowhere near their level but our tactics and resolve are clearly improving. A good sign.

  3. 3
    bathgooner says:

    A fine report of a testing evening, Dr F. I fully concur with your observations that we put in a shift, were shown to be second best to a team that has won the top honours in the last two years and competed right to the end when an equaliser looked quite possible. We did what I wanted us to do which was to put in a respectable performance and make the Dippers work for their victory.

    I also agree that Mane should have seen red and had the player deliberately deploying the forearm smash been reversed, we would certainly have been playing 80 or so minutes with ten men. Had the spineless ref not bottled an early red card, the whole course of the game might have been changed. Almost worse than the ref’s spinelessness was the media discussion embargo that followed. For pundits who will exagerate minor incidents to foment controversy, they seem remarkably uniformly reluctant to raise the possibility that a red card should have been flashed. Mane has form as a nasty little shit but it appears that the British media do not believe that the angelic ‘Champions of the World’ can be done for assault. I’m very surprised that Roy Keane, who was in the Sky studio, a purveyor of many below the bet challenges and recipient of many red cards, did not call it out.

    Laca, oh Laca! Why did you not bury that chance? We might still have lost the game but a goal at that point would certainly have rattled their cages and perhaps shaken their belief.

    We will meet no team as challenging or travel to a more intimidating venue in the rest of the season.

    Forward, Arsenal!

  4. 4
    Countryman100 says:

  5. 5
    scruzgooner says:

    ah, hell. why do they not test positive BEFORE we see them on the pitch (understanding that’s the case for this week’s game, though). i surely hope we don’t get any cases from him…

  6. 6
    TTG says:

    A fine, balanced and very fair report Dr.F .
    To be honest ( and its my own fault for reading too much ) I have been largely disappointed by the hysterical overreaction of many ‘ supporters’ to this defeat . Many Gooners think the rehabilitation of what was almost a completely broken team nine months ago is a task that can be achieved in a matter of months without transfer windows. As an added complication we have the small matter of a pandemic that will hit us particularly hard and decimate our disposable income .
    To be outplayed by a side as good as them , playing as well as they did is no barometer of our prospects this season.
    I only saw the second half live but agree Mane should have gone and had he played for Arsenal we would have seen countless replays of the incident . VAR served us well against West Ham but was no friend last night. Jota’s goal might have been disallowed too but they were in a different class to us . But they are the World Club Champions and won the title by a street.
    Arteta picked a conservative side and some of our selections aren’t good enough for a tilt at Champions League qualification. In my view Bellerin and Holding ( who could between them never block a huge hole on the right hand side ), Xhaka , Elneny and sadly Lacazette are not good enough despite admirable industry and commitment. But the world does not cave in after a respectable effort at Anfield . We will have better days and plenty of them
    As for Thiago I think he was in isolation yesterday so may not have been in touch with any of our players and many of theirs

  7. 7
    Steve T says:

    Nice stuff Dr F.

    I missed the first 20 minutes but on seeing the team selection, it didn’t fill me with a lot of hope. A midfield quartet of Bellerin, Xhaka, Elneney and AMN hardly filled me with confidence. It may explain why Luiz decided to try and bypass it more than once with the long ball.

    We played with heart and spirit but it’s games like these that very much highlight where our deficiencies are. There are players that are decent players but are just not quite at the top level. Holding is one of those in my opinion. Why was Gabriel on the bench? Bellerin worries me. I though he was dreadful last night. Often, so out of position and at times, just seemed lost. Two foul throws summed up his evening.

    I’ve never been a fan of Xhaka. He’s just not good enough. Elneney is wholehearted but again, just isn’t at that level for me. You can get away with it against the likes of Fulham and West Ham, but not at places like this.

    Like others, I don’t get the so called keeper debate. Leno has been outstanding since he joined. Player of the season two years ago and right up there last year. We he got carried off at Brighton there is not one of us that would have feared the worst. But Martinez proved a more than capable deputy. He was outstanding as he filled in and I for one am delighted that he was rewarded for his 10 years at the club with a winning cup final appearance. But he’s been number 2 for 10 years for a reason. In that time keepers have come and gone and he has still not made the number 1 slot his own. There has to be reasons for that and for me, you have to place a certain amount of trust in the coaching and management team. I wish him all the very best at Villa and I hope he is a big success. But for me, Leno is rightly the number 1.

    Time to get over Monday night and get back on it. Again as said above, beat Sheff Utd, claim 9 points from 12 and we won’t be too much unhappy with the start. In less than a week, we will also have some idea of the squad we will have to battle the rest of the season with.

    Bring it on.

  8. 8
    Countryman100 says:

    Very well phrased about Leno and Martinez Steve. I agree and really hope we can stop comparing the two.

  9. 9
    Goonersince54 says:

    I must be a lone voice in the bar, who thinks that never mind a back 5, running out at Anfield with essentially a ‘ back 8 ‘,and in the process somehow leaving our best defender from the first 2 games, and our only natural left footer on the bench for the entire game, is asking for trouble.
    And also choosing such a negative lineup, means you have to sacrifice your only attacking midfielder, leaving him sat on the bench for an hour.
    What sort of message that does that send to your opposition. ??
    To me it tells them that yes, we know you are the Bee’s Knees at the moment, so we have picked a side to try and keep the score down, cue nervous laughter.
    We are the Arsenal, or at least i thought we were, but we might as well have been one of the numpty teams from the bottom half of the table, such was the paucity of our performance.
    Yes i get that we need better personnel than we have at the moment, but i won’t accept that that gives us a free pass to go to Anfield with a defeatist team selection, that played right into Pool’s hands, and could have been a total disaster if they had had their shooting boots on.
    I have watched the match a second time, to see if i was overly harsh in my initial impressions of our performance, but try as i might, if anything, it was even more depressing.
    If the critique above, makes me one of the so called ‘ hysterical/impatient/intolerant,
    supporters of the Club, then so be it.
    I call it as i see it.

  10. 10
    Goonersince54 says:

    And on a brighter note,
    I have just read a great interview with our ex Dutch maestro the majestic Denis, on the BBC football main page.
    If someone can transfer it to the Bar, it is a very very informative read, and he is looking for a part time coaching role as well. !!

  11. 11
  12. 12
    Osakamatt says:

    The Maestro does appear to be
    looking for a job but I’m not
    entirely sure he will come back
    to the UK. An excellent read
    from one of our very finest.

  13. 13
    Steve T says:

    Thanks C100. Couldn’t agree more.

    Clive. You are far from alone. I agree totally re the midfield and did try to say as much. Probably didn’t convey the message that well.

  14. 14
    Osakamatt says:

    Talking of excellent reads…….
    Great report Dr F, covers all the
    salient points from that game,
    a game I have already consigned
    to the dustbin. What matters now
    is how we react at the weekend
    after we get the Carabao out the
    way. Despite all the stick the players,
    or some unfairly singled out ones
    anyway, got it will be a similar XI against
    Sheff Utd and three points will be a
    big mental boost to help the players
    forget too (except for the Mane thing
    as Dr F and Bath are entirely right,
    we owe that fucker one and he should
    go on the list with Vardy and Maupay)

  15. 15
    Goonersince54 says:

    Well done Matt
    Much obliged.
    I have also just read the ‘ game by the visuals’ player stats on Arseblog.
    Very stark reading indeed.
    As for Sane, i think we owe him more than one Matt.

  16. 16
    Osakamatt says:

    You’re very welcome Clive.

    As you say the CM stats are grim. I hope
    the Torreira sale can move us forward
    quickly and also that whoever we do get
    is a quick adapter.

  17. 17
    TTG says:

    I think it has become a source of wry amusement when I discuss Xhaka on here and I’ve tried to stop ( unsuccessfully) to become obsessed by him! It’s been totally evident for some time to me ( and many others here ) that with Xhaka as part of a two man midfield we are likely to be massively restricted in what we can achieve. Elneny is accepted as a squad player, a decent, functional player and a closer but nothing more so the news that we put up poor stats on Monday is hardly a revelation to me.
    We need more dynamic midfielders, the difference Ceballos made through his industry and endeavour was immediately obvious.
    The whole debate is about Partey or Aouar but if it could possibly be achieved ( even if we had to sacrifice Lacazette or Bellerin) we need both. We need to be able to close down and press tte ball and then move it creatively at pace . Without midfield solutions, and with a continued dependence on the hugely limited Xhaka we won’t get near the top-level .

  18. 18
    Cynic says:

    If the critique above, makes me one of the so called ‘ hysterical/impatient/intolerant,
    supporters of the Club, then so be it.

    No, it relegates you to the status of a mere “fan” and those with a lofty view of themselves can then look down upon you. Apparently.

  19. 19
    TTG says:

    Looks like AMN may be off to Manchester United

  20. 20
    TTG says:

    That sort of comment flies totally in the face of everything Dave Faber stood for in creating this bar.
    Clive is a much loved member of this bar and someone who is passionate about the club and if he has a point of view it is one he is very much entitled to and which will be very much respected . The whole point of this bar is friendly, constructive debate about the club. Inevitably we won’t all agree but there is no proscribed view. That is the whole point of Goonerholics Forever

  21. 21
    Esso says:

    Cheers Doctor F!

    Been coming in this bar for a good few years now. Dont comment a great deal but I read most posts. Can’t for the life of me see the point of comment #18 above. Apart from trying to start a row of course. We’re all ‘mere fans’. What else is there?

  22. 22
    Esso says:

    @20 TTG – just checked with Blogs, reckons there’s nothing really to it?

  23. 23
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Excellent report Doc.

    Like most above I thought that Elneny instead of Ceballos was cautious, to say the least. And I was not surprised to see Holding’s lack of pace exposed over and over, although he kept at it and had some good moments too.

    The fact that the midfield could not take the ball on the half turn or step past a man in the press meant they offered almost no option for the defence. Which is why Luiz had to play long balls. Ceballos made a huge difference.

    Anyway, it was a much better effort than last year and that is our toughest game all season. I don’t think I have ever seen Pool play better, and if Laca had scored we would have been level with twenty to play. Not bad. Next week is more important against Sheffield United.

  24. 24
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Doc. I particularly liked your reference to one of Coleridge’s less well known poems ‘The Ancient Miner’. 🤣

  25. 25
    TTG says:

    Thanks Esso
    I think that’s good news!

  26. 26
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Mane should definitely have been sent off. He was very lucky. The media blackout of the incident was predictably cowardly.

    Don’t let Roy Keane tell you how hard he is. Total bottler.

  27. 27
    bathgooner says:

    If someone offers £20m or more for AMN, I would recommend we accept the offer. He is a useful squad player and had stand-out performances in the cup SF and final. However he has never convinced me that he will be an influential midfielder or anything other than a stand-in full back. We desperately need to fund upgrades in midfield. I would accept any reasonable offers for any of our fringe players to do so, even from direct rivals.

  28. 28
    TTG says:

    I agree with you on AMN Bath
    If it means we can get two midfielders I’d definitely let him go
    I’ve told Roy Keane what an absolute bottler he is. I just hope he heard it through the telly 😀

  29. 29
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    I think AMN is a class act. I am on record in how much I like the kid.

    If we sell him for good money and use it to sign Aouar and Partey (or whoever our top 2 midfield targets are) then it will be worth it. We need a midfield more than we need AMN right now.

  30. 30
    Cynic says:

    @ 20 – The comment was not aimed at Clive at all, it was a sarcastic comment about the attitude displayed elsewhere that seeks to seperate mere “fans” and those who are viewed as true supporters. It was actually, in context, a supportive comment to Clive, about whether or not his post makes him “worthy” and is entirely in the spirit of Dave. I would venture to say that Dave would be shaking his head about efforts to have the online fanbase split between Us and Them lines (in fact I know for sure he would hate it).

    Nobody is any less worthy than anyone else, despite what some may wish you to believe.

  31. 31
    Cynic says:

    I wish there was an edit function, as I meant to say “along Us and Them”, not between.

  32. 32
    Osakamatt says:

    I’ve supported Arsenal for nearly
    50 years and used to go regularly
    when I lived in London. Doesn’t make
    me an any better supporter or my
    opinion any more valid than
    someone who never or rarely goes
    for whatever reason.
    If that was your point then of course
    I agree with you.

    Personally I thought the criticism of
    Leno, Rob, Hector, Willian and Laca
    that I read in various places was harsh
    for that Liverpool game as they were
    no worse than Luiz, KT, Auba and AMN
    on the day. Of course that’s just for that
    game and doesn’t change my overall
    opinion of where we need to strengthen
    and who we should keep.

  33. 33
    TTG says:

    I knew exactly what you meant and realised you were supportive of Clive who was very upset by the performance/philosophy at Anfield. My concern was that you believe there is some sort of collective view which is deemed to be superior to others . This club has been riven with disagreement between supporters for years under Wenger and then Emery . I’ve seen a blog this afternoon with posters wanting to get rid of Arteta a man who won the FA Cup four games ago !
    The thing about this blog is that we can discuss and disagree civilly and move on. Any splitting of the fan base is not the objective on here . There are plenty of moronic Arsenal blogs where you can go for a dust-up . This is a place where there is respect for other views – or don’t you agree?

  34. 34
    North Bank Ned says:

    An unenviable assignment deftly handled, Dr F. Arguably seven clubs have a shot at taking fourth or fifth place in the table this season. We face multiple potential six-pointers. You are right that we shall to need the fortitude to get through the ups and downs that inevitably lie ahead.

  35. 35
    bathgooner says:

    “Cannons outwards, gentlemen,” is what a fine Landlord used to say on occasion. I miss that fella.

  36. 36
    North Bank Ned says:

    Like GSD, I like AMN. He is Ray Parlour-like. You are never quite sure why he is in the team until he is not there and you realise what you are missing.

    If the Arteta project works, we will have to face the fact that we will sell good players because we can buy better ones. AMN may fall into that category. For now, there are plenty of not-so-good players to upgrade first.

  37. 37
    Pangloss says:

    Cynic@18 – I completely agree with you. It did not read, to me as though it was an attempt to put down, belittle or otherwise denigrate Clive. I too feel that the Dave who I got to know only through his blog would have nodded in agreement.

  38. 38
    TTG says:

    No one was saying Cynic who is the ultimate wind-up merchant was trying to denigrate Clive.
    The point was he was suggesting there were two camps on this blog and the self-elected elite were imposing their view on others who didn’t agree. That is fundamentally untrue and Dave Faber would be bitterly unhappy that such a suggestion might be made . Can you appreciate why I took exception to his comment ?

  39. 39
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Thanks everyone for the kind words.

    Clive, I myself — and I know that to be true for the rest of the bloggers here — have immense respect for your insights, opinions and observations. In this case if I may I would respectfully disagree with you that ours was necessarily negative approach. The gulf in the quality — individual and collective — has become so high now that the pure block and counter-attack is the only tactics that can see us get something against which has really become the best club team in world football. This is how we win against them in the last two matches (penalty shootout included) and until we have a few people in the midfield who can escape that insane pressing to keep control and then pass on the move this unfortunately will remain the only viable tactical approach against them.

  40. 40
    scruzgooner says:

    faustus, i never mentioned i appreciated your piece in a tough ask. i was in and out of the game, like our players, due to work, and missed the first 20. so cheers for a great report, and a drink on the bar for ya.

  41. 41
    scruzgooner says: