Valencia-Arsenal 2nd Leg Europa League Semi-final Preview. Either Way

We win!!!

I don’t want to wax overly negative about my football club…


Due to the vagaries of my recent travels and the availability of television/internet coverage, I wasn’t able to see much of the past several matches.  In fact, I only caught bits of our home loss to Crystal Palace and our defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers.  The loss at Leicester and the draw vs Brighton I only followed through narrative updates.  So too with the 1st leg, come-from-behind win over Valencia.  That being (by far) our best result, I was inspired to watch highlight packages and replays of the goals and other key moments.

In my view, this is NOT the way football should be enjoyed.  The game is meant to be watched, moment by moment, ideally from a seat in the stadium, but now, with cameras at every match, at least we should watch each and every minute from the vantage points they offer.

Sadly, when it comes to Arsenal as we near the end of Unai Emery’s first year in charge, and speaking only for myself, I find that there is very little to be enjoyed about our football.  If anything, supporters have clung to the notions that results are all that matter and that we have improved in that realm.  Indeed, last season we finished 6th in the Premier League on 63 points, this year we have 67 and still have one match yet to play.  Win it and we’ll finish one place higher and seven points better. Additionally, in the Europa league, we have a 3-1 aggregate lead going to the stadium of our Spanish opposition, Valencia CF.  Last season, despite having a man advantage for much of the first leg, we only managed a 1-1 draw vs Atletico Madrid, making the 2nd leg a far more formidable task, which, of course, we did not surmount.

So, as bad as recent (PL) results might make us feel, with a wider lens, or at least using the idea that the tables (or scoreboard) doesn’t lie, this Arsenal season is superior.

Why then have I stopped watching?  And why do I feel like I’ll be happy either way after the result at Valencia is posted?

Well, I haven’t really stopped watching.  It’s more that I just haven’t gone to the same lengths to try and get myself in front of a screen to see it all unfold.  Additionally, point totals and our current score in the Europa League Semifinal notwithstanding, my view is that the table (and other objective measures) don’t tell the whole story.  This version of Arsenal–in my opinion–is quite a bit worse and there are a whole host of things which look (and feel) more depressing (to me) than in all my days as a supporter.  I’ve gone over them before, most recently in another (non) preview of our previous Europa League 2nd leg match.  Y’all have heard enough of my moaning though I’d love to get a good discussion going in the comments section.  The (sad) truth is that I don’t mind missing the matches and that I’ve distanced myself from having feelings–ANY feelings–ups or downs, happiness or sadness, about my football club, at least match to match.  It all seems so (so) grim at Arsenal right now, and, for me at least, the sooner this season ends, the sooner I can rest up a bit and then maybe (though I wonder…) start the slow summer process familiar to all football fans–building a sense of hope for next season.  Arsenal, by dint of the final tie-breaker in football tables being alphabetical, will be top of the PL come August… 😀 … but also 😦 …

So, if we revert to our usual away form and blow this not-bad-at-all 3-1 lead and lose out on the Europa League final, then there’s only Burnley away on Sunday and surely I won’t be watching that one.  Two really fine teams (Liverpool and Manchester City) have games that will determine who wins the league title–and they’re up against solid teams (or at least ones who’ve taken results from Arsenal recently–Brighton and Wolves) who I’m sure will be playing with a sense of pride that I haven’t seen lately from Arsenal.  Again, however, I haven’t really been watching, so I’m only judging by our (recent) results–and what I’ve heard/read from the fans in the couple of blogs I still follow.

On the other hand, if we make it through to a final in Azerbaijan, the season (and our hopes for it) are extended.  What’s wrong with that?  Personally, I’d love to see Petr Cech lead his team out, play a great final match and hoist a trophy.  If it were against his former club, all the better.  Let’s not forget, the last time we raised a trophy it was also against that club (Chelsea) but our manager at the time, Arsene Wenger, stuck with his “cup-keeper” David Ospina for the match itself.

Will Emery do the same?  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  All looked good for a top 4 finish just a few short weeks ago.  We need to get through to Baku (hey, that rhymes…) first.  Or not.  As I say, either way, I believe, Arsenal win.  For me at least…

So, I present no preferred (nor predicted) line-ups, nor “keys to the game,” nor any other standard elements that match previews usually contain.  Perhaps Pony Eye, who has been a stalwart–at least when the blog was not on break–throughout this “broken” (perhaps?) season of ours.  I’d argue (maybe when the season is truly done and dusted) that the club itself is broken and has gone (severely, tragically…) in the wrong direction since the one man who was holding it all together (initials AW, if you cannot already guess my sentiments) was eased out.

Of course, I’d love to hear what others think and maybe it’s better done BEFORE a(nother) result pushes our thinking in one direction or the other.  For me, although I believe we’re only beginning to circle around rock-bottom (from where, theoretically, we can only push upwards…) I can’t decide what result best suits (this current version of) the Arsenal.  What do you say my fine, fellow Gooners?  Don’t be shy (and feel free to call me a plastic supporter, or any other dirty names as you must)…

Go on then…

by 17highburyterrace

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27 Responses to Valencia-Arsenal 2nd Leg Europa League Semi-final Preview. Either Way

  1. allezkev says:

    17tino, you’re a plastic supporter….

  2. allezkev says:

    Well you did ask… 😀

  3. allezkev says:

    Petr Cech, Bernd Leno, Deyan Iliev

    Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Sead Kolasinac

    Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi, Mesut Ozil, Joe Willock, Mohamed Elneny, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alex Iwobi

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Eddie Nketiah

  4. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hey Kev, cheers for the comments… I guess…

    Spurs just get a couple of blocks to keep out a pair of Tadic shots…BUT NOT the WIDE OPEN HEADER from the corner…

    1-nil Ajax… 2-nil on Aggregate… I guess it gets some VAR first…

    Now THIS is some football I can watch…

  5. TotalArsenal says:

    Whoa, Son comes close… but the wood denies him… Was it a misplaced cross?… Spurs needed the two goals anyhow, I guess…

  6. 17highburyterrace says:

    Oh crap, I haven’t sorted out my two personalities… That ^^^ is from me, not TA…

  7. allezkev says:

    Kom Op Ajax

  8. allezkev says:

    17tino, don’t worry amigo, I’ve got your back. 😉

  9. 17highburyterrace says:

    Tadic inches wide… I guess he’d have had to split defenders to get on his right foot and improve his angle…

    Cheers Kev… Plastic melts when there’s too much heat… 🙂

  10. 17highburyterrace says:

    Nobody watching the “neutral” football?… Spurs need three now… And after what Pool did yesterday, we mustn’t count our cockerels…

  11. 17highburyterrace says:

    There’s one pulled back (55th minute)… Dele didn’t mean to pass it, but it worked out, Lucas Moura finishing…

    Ajax need to get on the ball a bit, I’d say…

  12. 17highburyterrace says:

    And Lucas again!! Keeper saved but couldn’t collect the ball… Knife’s edge now…

    Hey, at least I’m around to watch and support the team with the red shirt/white sleeves…

  13. allezkev says:

    I’m listening to the radio…

    Ajax hit the post 😩

  14. 17highburyterrace says:

    Chances both ways… Ajax just hanging on… 89th min now…

  15. 17highburyterrace says:

    5 mins extra time…

    Tadic soooo left footed trying to work the break (from the right)… Corner means one of the five have been played…

  16. 17highburyterrace says:

    Spurs can’t muster much in the overtime but at least Lloris keeps them in it blocking Ajax on the break…

    They do have a corner now, however, Lloris coming forward…

  17. omgarsenal says:

    I guess its been a long season what with a new manager trying to reorganize a team run under the same manager and his unique style for 20 odd years. For me, despite the ups and downs of this season, the Arsenal are still in for a successful end, despite missing out on a top 4 finish. We’ll really get to see what Unai is made of over the summer when he begins recruiting his dream team. 17HT is far too glass half empty on this one….we have seen Lacazette, Leno and particularly Auba have been pleasant revelations, Sokratis a needed addition, Iwobi and Welbeck full of imminent potential, Torriera and Ramsey were rocks in midfield and Emery showed his class and managerial nous despite our decline in form at the end of the season. Cheer up lads, the 2019-20 season will see us improve our away form and combined with our solid home record, might see it approach the title.

  18. 17highburyterrace says:

    Llorente heads it over and that will eat up some time…

  19. 17highburyterrace says:

    And to further empty the glass, OMG, Spurs go through with the last kick of the match… (Check your post, OMG…Ramsey, Welbeck are out of the glass as well…Approach the title?… I want some of what you’re drinking…)

  20. 17highburyterrace says:

    Wow… It just gets grimmer… Thank dennis I’m a hermit and don’t have to face any Spurs (or Scouse) supporters tomorrow…

    Great games and some solid teams are playing in England these days… Are Arsenal among(st) them? Eye of the beholder, I guess…

  21. goonereris says:

    Sad for Ajax. They played so well in the first half and may have become a bit complacent (or tired) in the second half to allow Spurs all that time on the ball.

    Sad day for North London when Spurs can reach the final of the champions league. Now, the pressure is on Arsenal to do the same tomorrow night and potentially, make it an all English (clubs) finals in both European clubs competitions.

  22. goonereris says:

    To the article by 17ht, for me, it may have been a disappointing season on the domestic front, but I’d say we look on course in Europe and have done, save for a few tricky games. The form of both top 2 sides is enough to frustrate and demoralize the rest of the EPL so, after a few games, most stopped chasing, hoping for some moments of weakness which never came except for that spell in Dec/Jan for Liverpool and certain games, for City.

    I feel we will be up for the game at Valencia and should be able to do enough to just about qualify. No matter what they feel, Valencia are no Liverpool and won’t be hitting us with two unreplied goals. My confidence has nothing to do with current form; just an expectation that the lads want to win this trophy.

  23. 17highburyterrace says:

    Thanks for the comment, Eris…

    In response I’d ask: shouldn’t they have been “up” for these recent league games?…

    Maybe Valencia aren’t as good as those (several) mid-table teams in England…Or maybe we’ll take confidence from the first leg, which, having not seen the whole match, I cannot say if we deserve to feel or not… (That’s why we need a real preview, btw…)

    (Does the group want the season to be extended? Or could maybe the visit to the Costa Brava suggest that the playa is the place to be?… )

    Even if we get through then there would be the question of the final… Chelsea hasn’t been playing all that well, but they have been grinding out some recent results…at least compared to Arsenal…though Emery has “been there and done that” when it comes to EL finals. Win that and, who knows, maybe it’ll be the springboard to getting to where the likes of Klopp (and now Pochettino) are now…

    I believe our club has far deeper structural issues and I also cannot really fathom the depths of this recent collapse in the PL…From what I saw (even before those games) I can’t say I’m surprised.

    That said, it’s all to play for and I will be watching… Man(y)ana, then…

  24. Pony Eye. says:

    No, HT, you are not a plastic supporter. You are a bleeding heart maybe too scared to admit how much you love your team.

    On my part I struggle to do exactly what I want our boys to do: pick myself/themselves up. I’ve actually written a piece with that flavor before seeing your post. It’s in TA’s box.


  25. njk84sg says:

    17ht, we know how passionate you are in the team. I am also passionate enough to know that the board is doing things differently from the fans. Only Wenger knows us and that’s why he had been asked to go.

    To the lads, just play for the win. Anything less is not acceptable.

    @Omgarsenal, Rambo had been the player that was carrying the team from defense to attack. The others did well, but the orchestration is a little bit off this season. And the belief is low at the moment. But we will carry on nonetheless.

  26. goonereris says:

    17highburyterrace says:
    May 9, 2019 at 01:18
    Thanks for the comment, Eris…

    In response I’d ask: shouldn’t they have been “up” for these recent league games?…

    Wow! Tough ask there, 17ht, but still a pertinent question which I am unable to answer with any level of certainty so my response will be measured and a bit hopeful/guesswork. Maybe, as the prospect of a final came up, and with injuries to key drivers like Ramsey, their minds unwittingly switched to the easier avenue to both a trophy and CL group stage entry. A risk but worth taking, seeing as the real challenge we have is a potential Chelsea v Arsenal final.

    Maybe, like you teased, Valencia aren’t as good as those many mid-table sides in the EPL and ‘familiarity breeding contempt’ and all that, so we couldn’t be up for those games. Maybe, in the recesses of their minds they know Emery is a veteran of so many UEL trophies and are mindful not to let him down…. I am not sure. They just appeared to lose motivation and spirit in the league games, when they had their own destiny in their hands.

    All said, we have been a good cup team for some years now and it’s hard to see how Valencia score and we don’t reply. I will myself to remain positive on this.

  27. TotalArsenal says:

    Hey Gents, thanks for commenting and good to see a Post by Mr Plastic Fantastic! 😉

    I am on a driving and walking holiday in the Highlands with little time to comment. Hoping for a favourable result in Valencia tonight. COTA.

    New Post 🙂

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