Archive | May 2011

The Arsenal Defense: Postscript or Post-mortem

At the end of last season, Arséne Wenger admitted that they could not win the league while conceding 41 goals. For a man who prefers qualifications and assessments made in terms of approximation, this was a rare to-the-point assessment.

One year later, and his statement proved true once again. Arsenal could not win the title conceding 42 goals.

5/28/11

Carlo Ancelotti: An Undeserved Inescapable Fate

Carlo Ancelotti has been relieved of his duties in the most vulgar sense of “with immediate effect”.

Carlo Ancelotti just waking up or just knowing that end is close…

While remaining fans waited out the pain of M62 traffic amid Goodison Park’s littered aisles, Carlo Ancelotti was relieved of his duties at Chelsea. There is little surprise; speculation about his future had been growing for some time. Had a top Premier League manager been asked about his future as often as Ancelotti? The smell of a slow death was covered up by his casual Zen-like acceptance of fate. His shrug and frown a sign that he had taken of control by yielding it (or tacitly admitting that he hadn’t anything to yield in the first place). The shocking part comes from the expediency of his dismissal following his post-game press conference.

General opinion had been making a case for Ancelotti’s stay based on leading Chelsea to its first double, his history of achievements as a manager and player, and his affability and integrity. For all the advantages that controversy brings to the media, the majority support of the manager perhaps points to a combative position—not anti-Chelsea or anti-Abramovich—but a collective fight against pointless madness. Why really was he sacked?

One of the great mysteries of the Premier League season was Chelsea’s severe drop in form in November and December, which saw them go 2-4-3 in league matches, taking only ten points from a possible twenty-seven after starting the season 8-1-1, taking twenty-five points of the first thirty. This was a prolonged slump for a team like Chelsea. In January and February, the club began to turn things around, and from March though the end of the season Chelsea went 8-2-2.

If the club hadn’t re-discovered the early season form that touted them as the league’s projected winner in October, any number of explanations from an aging squad to the narrow formation to Ancelotti’s uninspiring calm composure would have been sufficient. By chasing Manchester United into the final weeks of the season, after long being declared out of the title race, derails the customary analyses. Which conditions had changed so radically during this period to account for the severe slump? Nothing convincing has been put forth.

It is reductionist at this point to say that Ancelotti was sacked for not winning the Champions League. Although Roman Abramovich seems to be refining his performance review in this direction, to date no manager has been sacked for not winning the Champions League in a season when the Premier League has been won. And since no Chelsea manager under Abramovich has won the Champions League when not winning the Premier League, it must be assumed that Ancelotti’s sacking was based on the failure to take the consolation prize of league title, which has its origin in the mysterious mid-season slump.

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Fulham 2—Arsenal 2

The Mercy Kill or The Last Game of the Season. 


The search for answers can begin.

5/24/11

The Test of Forgetting What is Seared on the Brain: Arsenal 1—Aston Villa 2

No mercy killing (now at most one week away) can erase a season that has become an unforgettable disaster.

Darren Bent scores twice to beat Arsenal who did everything they could to register assists on his goals.

5/16/11

The Test Of Bottomlessness: Stoke 3—Arsenal 1

Ex-Arsenal youth and journeyman Jermaine Pennant, the man who forgot he owned a Porsche, comes back to haunt his former team.

Jermaine Pennant celebrates his goal against Arsenal amid the painful screams of some unidentified creature bottom right.

A rendering of Arséne Wenger’s rage at himself.

5/9/11

Arsenal 1—Manchester United 0: Aaron Ramsey Scores the Winner

Arsenal’s near flawless performance is too little far too late for redemption, recovery, or to qualify as a bright spot. 

Aaron Ramsey celebrates his game-winner. His return to first team play after 15 months out is the magnitude of subplot necessary to momentarily lift depressed spirits.

Almost a year to the day, the film for this trailer is released.

5/2/11