Look, I’m going to have to just be totally blunt here, if you can’t accept that result as a miracle, I’m not sure we can be internet friends anymore. That starting 11 was the most League Cup starting 11 since 2008, yet it was actually our best 11 we had to offer. So meta.
The defence was a nightmare. Mustafi had to drop out of the United game because he was so embarrassed in December. Calum Chambers gave a late penalty away against West Brom. Rob Holding was last seen in the pocket of an 18-year-old Stoke reject. Factor in David Ospina was the last line of defence, and in front of him was none other than mistake machine Xhaka, and well, you could see trouble ahead.
I mean, even going forward we were blander than a cold box of McDonald’s chips. Ozil was nursing a ruptured couldn’t-give-a-fuck ligament, and Alexis Sanchez was deemed too much of a risk because he’s dreaming of Pep G tika-taka. Things were so bad last night, Wenger gave Rave-wobi (stolen from a friend) a run out in the starting 11.
I had no hope. But that didn’t matter.
A defensive masterclass from an under pressure Arsene Wenger saw us live to fight another day.
Mustafi took two boys, who had the confidence of wet kittens found in a box under a bridge, and made them man-monsters. I mean, kind of. Rob Holding played really well, a few hairy moments, but who doesn’t have them against Chelsea. Calum Chambers was really solid all night. Mustafi showed leadership, accountability, and defended like a hero. He was so good! Arsenal limited Chelsea to only 6 shots on target out of 21 attempts.
That was against the backdrop of Ospina flapping at crosses, pushing standard shots right back into danger, as well as his customary headless chicken runs under little pressure.
Xhaka actually had a good game, sitting very closely in front of the back 3, closing down space. The wing backs played it tight. AMN kept it disciplined, he didn’t let the occasion phase him, and he didn’t make a mistake like he did in the last matchup at the Emirates.
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Going forward, we were pretty pony, but we had our chances. Iwobi didn’t have a terrible game, but it would be hard to say we offered much in the way of service to Lacazette and Welbeck. 3 shots on target is a poor return, especially when you have strikers that are struggling. We are in big trouble in a post-Ozil era (and Sanchez, who was an underappreciated assist king).
VAR weighed in twice, and pretty much nailed both decisions. Shame of the AMN incident was that it clearly wasn’t a penalty, but it looked the same as the ‘foul’ Bellerin made on Hazard the week before that was awarded. Welbeck had a clash in our box and again, judged not a penalty when it so often could be away at a top team. Overall, it worked well. A few home fans bitching they didn’t know what was going on, but look, you don’t know what’s going on when a goal is disallowed because they don’t offer replays in the ground when the incident is dicey.
The game finished 0-0, Arsene continues his great run against Conte, and Arsenal live to fight another day (a day at home).
I can taste our first ever league cup, and Arsene’s standard get out of jail free card!
We recorded a podcast special with Kurtis from Arsenal NYC Supporters. We also did a Facebook live, so you can see what beauties we all are and what banter looks like.