A weekend ruined before it has even begun

The plan for the weekend was simple. Cricket.

And then Jason Holder hit 202 not out to give the West Indies a 628 run lead in the first test against England. 2 days still to play, it will be an uphill task.

The deluded optimist in me will be saying “the Windies were 415-6 when they declared. There are still 2 days to go. England have 50-odd on the board with 10 wickets in hand. The pitch has flattened out and the Windies bowling attacking is not great”.

But we all know how it will go. England will get to 80-odd. Lose the first wicket, then a couple more. Root and Butler will put on a battling 150, giving you that bit of hope again, before England lose the final 5 wickets for about 20 runs.

The match finished in 4 days, at least those out there will get an extra day on the beach instead of being in the cricket ground.

Hopefully the second test will be better.

Last nights defeat against Manchester United was certainly deja vu.

Over the last 10 years, under Wenger, Ferguson, Mourinho and more, Arsenal facing Manchester United has often followed the same script.

Arsenal dominate possession, have chances, miss chances, United score a couple on the break and win the game. And that is exactly what happened last night.

The Gunners were not poor yesterday. The statistics show we dominated the game. xG had us winning about 9-0. And that is why statistics are ultimately pointless. The only one that mattered was Manchester United scored 3 to Arsenal’s 1.

Manchester United scored 3 goals from their 4 shots on target. Not only do them seem capable over withstanding our pressure, they also have a habit of scoring goals against us without many chances.

A bit like the defeat against Chelsea earlier in the season, there are plenty of positives to take out of the game.

Despite losing our 2 central defenders, we battled well and matched a rejuvenated Manchester United.

Manchester United certainly have a feeling of the Roberto Di Matteo’s about them.

Di Matteo took over from André Villas-Boas at Chelsea. The senior players, Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, John Terry, had downed tools. Made it clear they did not like the manager and got him sacked. Di Matteo came in and their form improved. It was nothing he did, it was just the players decided to start playing again.

They won the Champions League despite him.

The same is happening at Manchester United.

The likes of Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez clearly stopped playing under Jose Mourinho. They forced him out. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has not made them better players. They were already top draw players. They have just decided to start playing again.

Like Di Matteo, it would not surprise me if Solskjaer  led the team to a trophy, and even top 4. He will then get the job, the shine will rub off and he will be sacked in November. He will return to the manager that was sacked by Cardiff after 9 wins in 30 games.

You have to feel for Unai Emery at the moment. It just does not stop at the moment.

Some will say we have now lost 5 in 10, and he has to shoulder some of the blame for that, but we must stick with him.

It is not Emery’s fault that Sokratis and Laurent Koscielny suffered injuries last night. Koscielny’s was a freak accident. The pair have also had extended time off this season.

You then have Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding – both out for the season.

Shkodran Mustafi, Nacho Monreal and Saed Kolasinac have also spent time in the medical room this season, and Kostadinos Mavropanos has not been seen. Ainsley Maitland-Niles broke his leg in the first game of the season.

The only defender not to suffer an injury this season has been Carl Jenkinson.

To have so many defenders consistently out injured is just unlucky. We went into the season with 5 central defenders, and all 5 have spent time injured. You simply can not legislate for that.

So we have a race for 4th (I still think we will finish above Spurs) and the Europa League  left to look forward to this season.

Two chances to return to the Champions League, one chance to lift a trophy.

Emery will get things right, it will just take a couple more transfer windows.


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