Monday, November 28, 2022

Arsenal 1-3 Brighton: The one hardly anyone saw …

Morning.

Like most of you, I didn’t get to watch our 3-1 defeat to Brighton in the Carabao Cup. The game was not broadcast anywhere in the world, a remarkable thing for 2022 given the appetite for live sport. I seem to remember during lockdown, such was the clamour for things to watch – and to bet on – that fake sports were invented, or fake teams anyway, playing in fake leagues.

OMG, The Singapore Cranstons have beaten The Brisbane Goolies 94-86 in the World Series of Splatball.

So to see that an actual official match with actual teams in an actual competition couldn’t garner enough interest for even one broadcaster on the entire planet is quite something. I guess some people won’t like it, but it says far more about the League Cup as a competition than it does about either Brighton or Arsenal. Yes, it’s a trophy, but it’s very much the poor relation. The fact that Man City have won it in four of the last five years has also added to this, I think. Pep being so, so happy about winning it has literally bored the world and sports broadcasters into a state of indifference.

I watched the highlights on the official site this morning, and our opening goal was very nice. A good run by Reiss Nelson, followed by a quality finish from Eddie Nketiah. Brighton got back into it with a penalty when debutant Karl Hein slipped, then fouled Danny Welbeck, and the former Arsenal man made no mistake from the spot. It was interesting, I guess, that Hein started ahead of Matt Turner who was on the bench. I would have expected the US international to play in this one.

Eddie hit the post in the second half, before Brighton scored twice. I know he hasn’t played much and could be considered rusty, but that was very Cedric defending for their second, and Tariq Lamptey ran off Nelson well for their third. And that was that as far as I can tell from the 1’58 of coverage in the video.

Afterwards, Mikel Arteta said:

The view is that the result doesn’t reflect actually what happened on the pitch. I think it’s clear, but there are two things on the pitch: those are the boxes. They were much more efficient than us and that makes the whole difference, because in the moment that we were clearly on top of the game when we had the chances to get away with the game, we conceded the goal and that changed the game.

Beyond that, I can’t say much because I wasn’t there. The manager made 10 changes from the team that beat Chelsea, and in games like this there’s always judgement on the fringe players. As fans we want to see them step up, grab their opportunity, and show us what they’re made of. The thing is, we know some of these guys aren’t on the same level as the ‘first’ team. Whether that’s because they’re still young and developing, or because they have already shown us their real level down the years, it shouldn’t be a surprise.

What I would say is that if you added one or two to a stronger team, it would be easier for some of them to step up, but when it’s 10, it’s much more difficult to make an impact. I’m sure the manager is well aware of that, and will make his own judgements accordingly. However, a football team is always a work in progress. The quality of your ‘squad’ players can make a big difference, so as he and Edu and the rest of the staff analyse what work they need to do in the future, games like this are a good indicator of what needs to happen and in what positions. Whether that’s this January or next summer we’ll have to wait and see, but there is always room for improvement. Stand still and you get left behind.

As for going out of this competition, I can’t say I’m overly disappointed this morning. I don’t think we have the depth to go the distance in this one and maintain our level in the second half of the season. When football returns on December 26th, there are potentially 39 matches across the Premier League, Europa League and FA Cup to contend with in an already packed schedule. I’m not sure we need any more.

Of course, I’m speaking solely as one fan. Your mileage on this may vary. As I said yesterday, Arteta is trying to instill a culture where every game matters, and I’m fully behind that. At the same time though, I think we have to be realistic about where we are, what kind of a squad we have, and what’s really important for us to achieve this season. A trophy would be nice, of course, but I would deem our campaign much more successful if we made meaningful progress in terms of the Premier League and challenging at the top of the table than a Carabao Cup.

Right, that’s it for this morning.

Big thanks to everyone who bought a Goodly Morning mug. I’m sorry there’s nothing we can do about the shipping which I know is expensive to certain locations, but rest assured, all the money earned is going to a great cause.

Back tomorrow with an Arsecast.

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