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My Grandmother used to tell me, when I was a wee lad, that “if you haven’t got anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all”. A fine sentiment Granny, but I fear you never had to write a match report after a 3-0 home defeat. Anyway, moving on, some of you may have noticed the lack of the customary image at the top of this report, it is entirely deliberate since I want no reminder of a game that I will, if Dennis is merciful, forget by this time next week. A picture paints a thousand words it’s said – I promise yesterday was not a game worth anything like a thousand words. Speaking of mercy, I will also spare you a detailed account of the game with instead a brief summary – in the 1st half we were poor but didn’t concede any goals, in the second half we were again poor and did concede some goals. 

One of the benefits of writing a day after the game is that it allows time for some reflection and assessment of the team’s performance. It was in that spirit that I decided to apply the famed 3Es Evaluation Framework* to The Arsenal’s 90 minutes yesterday. As you no doubt know the 3Es are Effort, Effectiveness and Entertainment. Taking them in reverse order, I believe that I can award us an E for Entertainment as, with the possible exception of the first three minutes (I was laughing at the ref’s ridiculous barnet), there was at no point anything entertaining whatsoever. Effectiveness next then, and again a well-deserved E is awarded. In Mikel’s words “we gave every ball away, we could not put three passes together”; couldn’t have put it better myself Boss. I assume the plan was to let them come forward and punish them on the counter as we did (effectively) last season, but it is difficult to counter-attack when you don’t have the ball. Finally we come to Effort, and the title of this piece, Gunners Fail the 3Es test, you may have your own opinion of course but I can only give us a D for Effort I’m afraid. As evidence I would cite Laca, in particular, who put in a real chasing shift 1st half. Two Es (no, not that kind) and a D it is. 

Moving on from the players, let us get to the managers for yesterday. There was some criticism after the game and I have to agree there was indeed a very poor managerial decision, but, unfortunately for The Arsenal, Klippity corrected his slippity and brought Jota on around the hour mark. Soon enough he did for us and I suppose given the form he’s in we were probably lucky he didn’t start the game. Turning back to The Arsenal and Mikel, who said after the game ‘ At the moment, I’m in shock’, well you and me both Mikel but at least it was Saturday evening for you and you could have the customary large medicinal brandy for shock, it was 6 in the bloody morning for me in Japan. 

“You can’t be serious!” some of our astute readers may be thinking by now – well no actually, but to trot out another old saying ‘laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone’. If we would like serious, then I would have to say I don’t think we learned anything new yesterday. When we play poorly teams like Liverpool will tonk us every time. When we don’t pass well, players like Auba and Pepe will look completely ineffective. When we are timid we will get nothing. As it is, I see no point in lambasting all and sundry or any of the individuals who were particularly poor yesterday as there really is nothing that can be done right now other than remember that the same team has produced some very good performances this season. We must move on to the next game with the hope that those same players play like they understand the Europa League represents the one remaining chance of some redemption for this season. Hopefully, we will have ESR and Saka back for the next game, though the latest news is not positive on Luiz or KT unfortunately. 

That is about it for this match review (I did promise less than a thousand words) and I hope you will join me in wishing I never have to write another in the same vein! To finish, let me wish you all a decent holiday weekend wherever you may be.

Come ON You Gunners!!

On a lighter note, we can announce that our commemoration events for the 50th Anniversary of the 1970-71 Double will begin on Monday 3 May with a conversation between Bob Wilson and Pat Rice about the road to the title, exactly 50 years to the day from THAT night at the wrong end of the Seven Sisters Road.

49 Drinks to “Gunners Fail the 3Es Test”

  1. 1
    TTG says:

    We have had a lot of poisoned chalices as reporters this season but this was a new low and I commend you in your restraint and good sense . Frankly the game was very depressing indeed as the chasm between a hitherto struggling Liverpool side @nd us was enormous and we literally had no player other than possibly Leno who would earn more than 5/10 . What you could give Ceballos for his display was a moot point . He was so utterly pathetic I found myself rocking slowly in the chair chanting ‘ come back Granit, all is forgiven ‘ ( it bloody isn’t by the way) and dribbling . Which is more than our forwards managed . Lest I go on longer than the report my concern is growing that Arteta is the man for this job. We have produced some execrable performances at home this season. If we had fans in place he would be toast .
    After the Chelsea game I pondered if ESR really had completely altered the way we played for the better . Without Saka to aid him and KT3 going off it was obvious he is absolutely crucial . And the next time we think of giving a mega contract to an ageing superstar like Mesut and now Auba.., just don’t

  2. 2
    depressedgooner says:

    Still at least Auba got to debut that awesome new hairstyle, wish he had as much effort on the pitch as put into his hair, I’m not one of those people who thought he only worked super hard to get a new contract, but I’m starting to wonder.

  3. 3
    BtM says:

    3As for an exemplary match report, Matt.

  4. 4
    North Bank Ned says:

    That was as Guv’nor-esque a morning-after report of a bad night before as one could hope to read, OM. Well done.

  5. 5
    Steve T says:

    Good stuff Matt. Well done.

    I’m almost in total agreement with TTG. That yesterday was shocking. Just dreadful. We were so inept all over the park that it was embarrassing. Yet again, if it had been a bad day at the office, then I could swallow it. But we have had so many performances like this now and there’s really no excuse for it. We put out a side littered with internationals and they play as if they have never met each other before. Without Luiz we have virtually zero leadership. We have no direction or enthusiasm. It was lacklustre shite.

    So, who is to blame? I must say that Arteta has to ask himself some serious questions. It’s all very well talking a good job, but can you deliver? The answer at the moment is very much, no. I accept that this is not a normal season but it’s the same for everyone. We have shipped out a lot of deadwood and have brought in decent signings. We should be stronger than we’ve been in ages. The truth is that we have gone backwards since sacking Emery. Now there’s something I never thought I would have to say.

    The manager is responsible for sending out a side with a game plan and specific instructions. For the umpteenth time this season he’s been left disappointed. Why? What are his instructions? Why, under his leadership, are so many top players consistently under performing? He has to take a large slice of the blame for that I’m afraid.

    Several have commented how much we missed Xhaka yesterday? Do even have to ask the question tells you how poor we have become. I, like many, would happily drive him to the airport. To miss him yesterday, in my opinion, just starts to highlight the problems we have at the moment.

    We are stuck in mid table with a team littered with quality internationals. The next few weeks are crucial for us as a club, and for Arteta as a manager. As I’ve said many times now, I would love to see him succeed. At the moment I very much have my doubts as to whether he is good enough or not.

  6. 6
    Bathgooner says:

    You’ve made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, Matt. A tough gig, entertainingly executed.

    In other news, Luiz has had a “small procedure” (presumably arthroscopic repair of a torn cartilage or removal of a loose body?) carried out on his injured knee which has been deemed successful and he is expected to return to full fitness and be available for selection in the “upcoming weeks”.

  7. 7
    ksn says:

    Thanks for a particularly restrained review, OM. I wish I could do that.
    I can’t say we played like a pub team as that would be insulting to pub teams.

    On a more cheerful note, Willock scores against Spurs to get Newcastle a point.

  8. 8
    Bathgooner says:

    I’m not yet prepared to blame this all on MA8. Another managerial change at this point would in any case be utterly insane. I think he has an enormous task to sort out a squad that was unbalanced, under motivated and within which there were and perhaps still are bad apples. He has had limited financial support to sort that squad out and we can expect that to persist.

    He has certainly made errors but who amongst us always gets everything right in a new job. The long contract for Willian was certainly an error but may not entirely be laid at MA8’s door. Auba as captain is certainly an error which I expect to be rectified one way or another before next season. Trying to play our way out against one of the two best teams in the country (and the best at the high press) without your key deep passers was the triumph of hope over experience.

    Nonetheless when all our best players are fit we are far better to watch than we were under Emery despite the WLD stats for the first 50 games. Rome wasn’t built in a day and I’m not jumping ship.

  9. 9
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Cheers OM. Well done. Sensible and entertaining. I also took about three minutes before I could stop laughing at the ref’s barnet- the best bit of the match.

    I agree with Baff about Mikel. And with everybody that the performance yesterday was dire. I’m still slightly lost for words it was just so poor in all the basics.

    We need to shake that off fast and move on to Thursday.

  10. 10
    bt8 says:

    Agent Willock getting very high marks today it appears.

  11. 11
    Sancho Panza says:

    I’m for retaining MA8 for the rest of this season and next, because there has been marginal improvement since the Chelsea game. It has still been a lousy season though and we’re not going to win the Europa. Such a shame we have fallen so far so quickly but the reason for this lies only at the door of the Kroenke’s.

  12. 12
    TTG says:

    Bath is right about a change in manager not being sensible or necessary …yet. My point in these drinks was that the pressure on Arteta would be massively ramped up if we had seen full crowds for the performances against Leicester , Villa , Wolves , Burnley , Palace , Citeh in the League Cup ,Olympiakos and last night ( that’s eight very substandard performances) . Our very best team is ( especially away) capable of playing extremely well at times . But that team relies on young tyros not seasoned professionals who regularly seem to fall short of what we need and expect of Arsenal players . My biggest concern is Edu who has a Herculean task in the summer and needs to sell high and buy imaginatively in a depressed market . I’d love to be a fly on the wall when Tim Lewis next briefs Josh Kroenke !

  13. 13
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Matt, quite excellent review under the circumstances.

    At home especially we have had some very poor performances this season. Yesterday’s poor performance was highlighted all the more by simply the intensity of Liverpool’s game. Consider the first goal, Alexander-Arnold is given all the time he needs by our our captain to whip in a perfect cross, and then two big guys Holding and Chambers equally late to sense the danger and timing their jumps correctly. We do serve up these types of basic lack of seriousness/urgency in between some good football, and when that happens against a team that matches complement their quality by their intensity the holes in our team become obvious.

    I think there has been some structural improvement in our games — the statistical comparison between Arteta and Emery for the first 50 match or so is very misleading as Unai’s tenure started rather well on the basis of Auba and Laca being in peak form and Rambo still with us — whereas Mikel inherited a complete mess. Post-Christmas our results have been I think 4th or 5th best in the league and that is a bit of a positive sign of consistency in a strange season where Baggies score 5 goals away at Chelsea and Villa score 7 past the champions.

    I will reserve my judgment of progress made or not under Mikel this season until the end of the season, but I think it is becoming more and more obvious (if it was not before) how much of a quality improvement we need in a few key positions.

    I do hope Mikel will continue to move towards a younger team composition, and find ways to get Martinelli more involved. We also shouldn’t expect a return of Auba’s first couple of golden seasons, and both him and Laca showed yesterday that they are not the players anymore to take us back to any higher level by performing consistently. I still hope they have a bit of magic and pride left in them to see us through in Europa, and then the rebuilding can have a more positive basis (and funding).

  14. 14
    Steve T says:

    I’m also far from advocating a change in manager, but again agree with TTG. I dread to think how toxic the ground would have been had there been the normal crowds in. In that respect, Arteta has had a far easier ride that Emery certainly would have had.

    In 2018/19, we finished 5th. The squad back then was arguably weaker than the one we have now, although how we let Ramsey leave on a free I will never know.

    I don’t quite understand what has happened to certain players. How is it the PEA can’t seem to play the game anymore? Or is it that he was so outstanding that he just carried everyone else? Willian is another enigma. He wad good for the chavs. We sign him and all of a sudden he can’t play the game anymore? We arguably are stronger at the back than we’ve been for years. Or should be at least. We should also have enough quality up front. We have struggled in midfield but again, should have made some progress. Partey was the marquee signing. Add to that Ødegaard. The add the emergence of Saka and ESR and arguably we are in a better position than we were under Emery??? So why are we witnessing the kind of performances as mentioned by TTG above? Why is it that we are sending a team out that looks clueless and rudderless?

    We have some very winnable games on the horizon. I would suggest that the performance is almost as important as the result. The Europa is also massive for us now. The Arteta/Edu alliance needs to massively step up. If they fail to do do then both might be struggling come through summer.

  15. 15
    North Bank Ned says:

    Home performances such as TTG catalogues @12 would have got the crowd’s backs up. But it assumes the performance would not have changed in front of a crowd, I am curious if that is a valid assumption? Or at the very least, whether the catalogue would have been smaller with the team reacting sooner.

  16. 16
    Osakamatt says:

    Thanks for the kind words all.

    A good point Ned, though impossible
    to know. I can’t remember an Arsenal
    as inconsistent as this one since maybe
    the early-mid 80s. 90% is turning up,
    which we only seem to do about 50%
    of the time.

  17. 17
    North Bank Ned says:

    Those percentages seem about right, OM.

  18. 18
    ClockEndRider says:

    Thanks for the calm review, Matt. It has taken a day or so for me to work the defeat out of my system sufficiently to be able to read it. On reflection, I think we are always poor in the game following an interlull and I will therefore give the manager some space, despite the performance being nothing short of abject. I thought Auba was particularly poor. I would like to see an academic study performed to discover whether players performances typically fall of a cliff when they get , ahem, more idiosyncratic haircuts. I’m wondering whether this expression of self- actualization is a sign that a player believes himself to be something greater than the team. So many players seem to go through this phase and never get back to what they were. On the assumption my hypothesis passes muster, I would then employ a club barber limiting the players to a small range of easily recognisable hair styles – Short Back and Sides; Bastin’s Brylcreemed Barnet, would be 2. Perhaps this would encourage them to understand that they’re just lucky bleeders who happen to have highly developed spaccialo awareness and fine motor skills and are not the Second Coming.
    Rant over.
    On reflection, perhaps I haven’t worked that defeat out of my system yet.

  19. 19
    Bathgooner says:

    I can only agree with you Steve @14, but I can’t answer any of your questions. I really hope that MA8 can. Great points Ned, Matt and CER.

    I do think that, if our captain had an iota of leadership quality, he would resign the captaincy and suggest that it is offered to KT3.

  20. 20
    Noosa Gooner says:

    Ned @15
    Thanks – my thoughts also.
    As for whose responsibility some of these performances have been probably brings us back to leadership on the pitch. Who are our leaders in this squad? There are a number of positions that need strengthening, many of which have been identified by contributors here, but I hope that strong leadership is one of the non-negotiable qualities we are seeking in any new arrivals.

  21. 21
    Osakamatt says:

    for better or worse – and it is sometimes
    both in the same game – Luiz and Xhaka
    are two of our actual leaders on the pitch
    and both were out. I’ve always assumed
    Auba was a ceremonial captain so no
    complaints from me as I had no
    expectations anyway. KT would be a
    good leadership by example captain
    I agree.

  22. 22
    Countryman100 says:

    Thanks Matt, for a controlled report. Thanks also for watching a game at 4am in Japan, for us. Like CER above I have had to take time out from social media to keep calm over the game. I dipped a toe back in today. This is a really good piece from gunnerblog. Sorry it’s in the Athletic and behind a paywall.


  23. 23
    Osakamatt says:

    You’re very welcome as always

  24. 24
    bt8 says:

    Amazed you were able to make such a readable and entertaining report out of that shambles Matt. Arsenal appeared out of their league but that certainly does not apply to you. 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

  25. 25
    North Bank Ned says:

    CER@18: There is a whole book on it: The Barber Book, A history of the modern world in 7 haircuts. How civil rights, war and economic boom and bust shaped the hair on our head.

  26. 26
    North Bank Ned says:

    Best not to get Trev started on the psychology of haircuts. He will have the whole human conditioner there.

  27. 27
    Osakamatt says:

    Too late Ned. ‘Tis follicle to be
    wise now

  28. 28
    Osakamatt says:

    oh, and thanks CER and bt8.
    It was a shambles but I don’t
    get that annoyed as it became
    obvious early in the season that
    the FA Cup win hadn’t changed
    any fundamentals about the
    current squad. I believe MA will
    sort it out given time and so just
    enjoy the good days when we look
    like a Top 4 side. We lack on pitch
    drive and leadership and hope we
    can get that in the centre, though
    I like KT, that and Auba are the
    two things to sort out first I think.
    MA’s plan to base the side around
    Auba has currently run into the
    problem of Auba’s temperament.
    Fantastic player but he hasn’t been
    reliable enough this season to
    base a game plan on.

  29. 29
    North Bank Ned says:

    It’s fringe science, OM.

  30. 30
    bathgooner says:

    There’s no one like Trev for tricology.

  31. 31
    Osakamatt says:

    Indeed, but no sign of him yet so
    perhaps we’ve clippered his wings

  32. 32
    TTG says:

    Your exposure to Japanese psychology is serving you ( and us) well.
    Your mindset is a very sensible one although I struggle with inconsistency as an issue in life unless it’s me who is being inconsistent which is of course fine .
    I’m desperately hoping MA8 can build something special at the club and I don’t expect it to be a serene , upward climb. When we get massive bumps in the road like Saturday I shall access your wise words above . And then go screaming into the garden!
    COYG !

  33. 33
    bathgooner says:

    I couldn’t agree more, TTG. The adoption of a Stoic or a Zen philosophy (which Matt may have imbibed through his Saki) is much more in keeping with the need for an Arsenal fan to maintain sanity than the apparent annually cycling hysterical exuberance of our north London neighbours. I think it may be a product of those long years in the wilderness from the early 50’s to 1970 then again through the mid 70’s, then throughout the 80’s until the breakthrough under George in 1989 and the success under Arsene, a period unparalleled since the 1930’s.

    I think some of the hysteria we now see in some Arsenal circles and calls for MA8’s head because he has failed to pull off an instant transformation of this squad’s fortunes (He’s had over a year, FGS!!!! – Abracadabra, anyone?) may be the result of a generation of ‘fans’ weaned on our late 90’s to mid noughties successes who believe that continuation of such success is a birthright and the club’s natural habitat. In truth we are on a long rocky road back that many have traversed before and if, as a result, we lose some unrealistic hangers-on off the back along the way, it might be a silver lining.

  34. 34
    Osakamatt says:

    Thanks TTG and Bath, though I
    I feel a bit of a hypocrite as my family
    wouldn’t recognise that figure from
    the ranting, angry person during the
    actual games 😁
    I will forgive myself completely of

  35. 35
    North Bank Ned says:

    One who waits patiently will catch a big fish, OM.

  36. 36
    Silly Second Yella says:

    995 arse minutes vs 706 city minutes

    Come on you dortmunders!


  37. 37
    Countryman100 says:

    Scousers getting their rear ends kicked by Real Madrid.

  38. 38
    North Bank Ned says:

    At least the Scousers will know what if feels like to be outclassed.

    Man City got the rub of the green against Dortmund.

  39. 39
    OsakaMatt says:

    That away goal might come in handy for the scousers.

  40. 40
    North Bank Ned says:

    A 2-0 win at an empty Anfield will be more difficult to achieve than at a full one, though still doable. Real look to have goals in them, though.

  41. 41
    North Bank Ned says:

    If there is anything to the rumours that we are interested in Achraf Hakimi, Inter would probably want at least as much as they paid for the wing-back last summer (40 million euros), which seems a lot for us to pay for anyone and especially if we are also looking to make Ødegaard’s move permanent. We probably have to sell both Hector and Laca for top dollar to cover Hakimi’s transfer fee.

  42. 42
    Countryman100 says:

  43. 43
    Countryman100 says:

  44. 44
    bathgooner says:

    That’s KT3’s season then but at least he doesn’t need surgery. Arseblog made a very compelling case for replacing KT3 with Saka at LB because he is better on the left flank offensively than Cedric and no worse defensively while we have a number of alternatives on the right side of the attack.

    I can’t say I’m optimistic about us beating this Czech team given our recent performances and the somewhat more impressive season they are having. If we are going to get through this round we are going to have to be a lot more ‘on it’ and play a lot better than we’ve been playing of late.

  45. 45
    Countryman100 says:

    We must start Martinelli!

  46. 46
    Osakamatt says:

    I’m struggling to see how Saka
    is equal to Cedric defensively but
    I’d think about him for this home
    leg at LB.
    I feel fairly confident we will win
    but…..let’s hope it’s one of the
    good nights 🤞

  47. 47
    Steve T says:

    Sad news about KT3. Apart from his obvious qualities he is One of the few players that actually has a touch of leadership about him. I hope he is back fully fit very soon.

  48. 48
    Sancho Panza says:

    Isn’t Cedric rather right footed to be playing left back for any prolonged period?

  49. 49
    Bathgooner says: