Kicking About: It’s All Gone To Hell

We muster most of our strength to sit down and talk about two of the biggest disasters we’ve witnessed in our soccer lives.

At the end of the day, it could be worse, it could be much much worse. I just want everyone to appreciate how much effort it took for neither me nor Cameron Climie to break down and cry in the middle of recording this episode. The soccer Gods are cruel, cruel entities and they take no victims.

Meanwhile in the EPL the tension is high enough to hear a pin drop with the race for top four being the closest we’ve ever seen. While Chelsea are in their GSW form at the moment. The rest of the teams are in a jumble of wins, losses and goal differential separated by no more than 4 points between 2nd and 6th places in the table.

Serge: It’s the hope that gets you Cam. I went into this match thinking: “okay, score a goal, loose 3–1 and then do that Arsenal magic at home like you always do.” Bayern Munich scored through completely dumbfounding Arsenal scouts and doing something as unpredictable as Arjen Robben cutting in from the right onto his left foot. Who saw that coming?

Cam: How could you have scouted that?

Serge: It was unexpected.

But then the game kind of leveled for a long while. [Arsenal got back into it]. We got a lucky penalty where Sanchez almost blew it, scored that goal. The last seven to ten minutes of the half we actually had the upper hand. We went into the locker room kind of on a high. And that’s when I had hope. And that’s what killed me.

Cam: Well, this has been true of a number of iterations of this Bayern Munich team is that they’ll only be better than you in a technical playing sense for only 30–35 of the game in a 90 minute match. But in that stretch there will be 10 minutes where they will absolutely sucker punch you.

Serge: If you’re sprinting a marathon and you’re able to put distance between you and everyone else, you don’t have to go full speed the whole time. You just have to create distance.

Cam: The analogy I was thinking of is a little bit like watching early career Floyd Mayweather. They keep getting little digs in. He doesn’t need to beat you for the whole time, he just needs to wait for you to make your first mistake…

Serge: And beat you for those ten minutes.

It’s such a stark contrast. Under Pep they were a lot more “all go” all the time. [Yeah]. And Carlo Ancelotti brought that back.

They’re excellent game managers and that’s the phrase I can best attest to that. They know when to press down on the pedal and when to ease off. And that is one thing that any iteration of Arsenal ever since the invincibles has lacked. Game managers.

Cam: And thank you Barcelona board for the dumbest contract in club history. Thiago Alcantara was a big part of that.

Serge: Yeah.

Once Koscielny went off, which is Arsenal bingo if you’re keeping score [check it]. Check. First of all, why don’t you start Petr Cech. And I’m not saying Ospina is bad, but there are more players in the Bayern squad who can place the ball. You need someone who is tall.

Cam: You need someone who can just fill a lot of net against the team that has that much firepower.

Serge: That was my first question. Then, moving forward, once we conceded the second and the third in that space of about five minutes [the second wasn’t what killed you guys, it was the third one]. Absolutely, but once you concede that second one, that’s where game management comes in. That’s where you have to say “let’s not scramble, let’s keep the ball for a bit and get some spells of possession.” It’s important to right the ship. Alexis always wants to go. Ozil wants to go never. There is no that in-between. There is no one to control the game and settle down the team. Not since Patrick Viera did we have that.

Cam: You and I have both played soccer at very, very amateur levels and have been in situations where you concede a crappy goal and the immediate impulse is to just gun it full-out and get it back. That always ends up being much worse because you’re exposed at the back, you make sloppy mistakes trying to get it back too hard. That seems to be a lot of what happened to day.\

Serge: They need someone in the midfield, who like Viera is that deep lying midfielder who can cover for the defense and keep the ball moving forward. Francis Coquelin completed seven passes today. Think about that…