Boop – Hero Hunters Ep10 but I called the actual file Ep11—opps

October update II is in the wild.  New hero Anvil is released.  Let’s talk it up a little.  Did we skip episode 10?  Maybe but who cares.

Candy Corn is going strong.  Not a lot of days to cash in on the remaining pumpkins.  Bounty event starts this weekend.  Let’s hope that its not goofed.  

Wolves Feels – 2018-19 Season Is Upon Us

I really started loving the NBA when we were in 2nd grade a few years before we met each other.  That was the first year I remember really playing basketball.  It was my second year of organized ball and the first year I cared.  I got basketball shoes and I loved the sport.  I’d watch NBA stuff on the weekend and when NBA Inside Stuff (third grade) I was hooked.  The Bulls were my team.  MJ was a god.  The first year I started playing ball was 1988 (first grade) and the first year I really loved it was 1989 (second grade) and that’s also when our cub scout pack went to a Wolves game at the Dome.  I loved it so much my Dad took me to half a dozen more games that year (no clue how my parents afforded this one with me being 7 and my brother being 2 I have to imagine there was next to no money to spare already).  I was hooked.  Pooh Richardson was my man.  Doug West eventually but the Wolves weren’t great so I still loved the Bulls.  Since everyone already loved MJ and I thought he was a god also I was for some reason drawn to Pippen. 

I always felt like Pippen played insane defense and I always felt like that was my jam.  I never had a portion of time playing basketball where I figured out scoring lots of points.  I just was never good at working a defense.  I mean honestly I was never that good.  But defensively I always felt stronger.  Since Pip was always outscored by MJ I was drawn to him.  

Then the Wolves drafted KG.  Before KG I was so-so on the Wolves.  I’d go to games every year but I didn’t really care if they were winning.  KG changed that, I wanted them to build a contender around him.  I started watched and learning about the pieces around him.  The college season mattered.  The draft was important.  Understanding the process of finding gems in college mattered.  I started trying to understrand why guys were killers in college and got killed in the pros.  

My basketball IQ started expanding and I was understanding the game at a different level.  I started to see patterns within the league (nothing brand new just started seeing the stuff that lifers have been living with).  There are eras.  There are windows.  The game evolves constantly.  If the big man is valuable today, understand going to figure out how to make non-bigs valuable.  Its just constant evolution that is tied to the greater development cycles.  

I’m a fan of the NBA but its really through the lens of the Wolves.  

Here are the Wolves in 2018 going into the season.  They’ve got as much talent as they have in over a decade.  You could make arguments this is their most talented team ever.  The ceiling in high.  It feels like the whole thing could implode or just fail to leave the pad.  The KAT/Butler/Wiggins combo is sick if they are all on the same page and clicking.  I don’t think we have seen that yet.  I don’t think they are trying to get there either.  Butler doesn’t appear to think Wiggins/KAT have the internal drive to be winners.  Wiggins doesn’t seem to think there is friction.  KAT clearly doesn’t like Butler big-timing him.  It seems to be adding layers and levels of difficulty to the game to be fighting within your own team.  

When you go around and read the various season previews for the Wolves there is a large swath of variance.  The Wolves could be the #2 seed behind the Warriors or they could be in the #10 spot looking for ping-pong balls.  

I’m not as worried about the record.  I don’t honestly think anyone beats the Warriors this year unless they are wrecked by injury.  Or if there is some unforseen infighting between their stars.  

The Wolves need to be judged and growth.  Where is KAT arguably today in the NBA at the 5 position?  What developments will he make this year?  Can he become the scariest low-post scoring threat in the league?  Will there still be 15-20 games this season where he’s a no-show or non-factor on the offensive end?  Does defense matter to KAT?  

Wiggins what are you?  Wiggins are you a good stats, bad team monster?  Wiggins are you just a monster?  Wiggins will you show-up for more than 70 games this year?  Wiggins can take over a game.  Its happened way too infrequently but it can happen.  Can we see that wiggins this year.  The one that just decides this game is shut-down in the first five minutes of the fourth.  Again this has only happened a few times in his career to this point.  Or is it going to be the defer to the crowd Wiggins again?  

Butler is the person everyone wants to talk about.  I don’t care about Butler.  Butler is going to be good where he plays this year and I think for 2-3 more years.  Should the Wolves resign him this next summer if given the chance? Yes.  Should the Wolves trade him for $0.60 on the dollar yesterday?  Yes.  Butler can change games for either team.  Butler appears to be as much of an issue in the locker room as he is on the court.  Do I think the Wolves should’ve moved Butler this summer?  Yes.  Do I think Thibs things he can change Butler’s mind and get him to resign in Sota for max money next summer?  Yes.  Do I think Butler lives up to a 5-year max contract next summer?  No.  I think Butler’s game won’t age gracefully.  I think Butler will see a precipitous drop-off in his defensive skills.  Butler’s outside game isn’t strong enough to lose a step.  The gravity will be lost.  Butler will still be a good starter for 5 more years.  Max level player?  Nah.  The Wolves will be hitting their peak in 3-5 years.  KAT/Wiggins are young.  We can’t forget that today.  Lining their windows of success up with the rest of the team makes a lot of sense.  The win-now approach when you have GSW in the league as they are currently constructed is foolish.  Plan and play the long-game.  Look at what LBJ is doing in LA.  He’s building.  He’s not constructing overnight.  

The Wolves have rookies too.  Where will Thibs work them into the rotation?  Will Thibs develop anyone?  Does Thibs care about 2-4 years out?  Or is it this year or bust?  

Glen Taylor saved the Wolves.  That’s one of those statements that always has to be said about Glen Taylor.  Past that Glen Taylor has been pretty awful for the Wolves.  As long as Glen is calling the shots we are going to see odd stuff like this Thibs drama this summer.  I’m game for Glen selling the team or stepping down and letting someone else in the family run the show.  I don’t think that’ll happen but its probably time.  

Minnesota Timberwolves 2018-2019 Season Preview The Feels Edition

John and Jeff banter their way through current feelings with the coming season.  There are more questions than answers.  What are fans supposed to do?  Just call each other semi-regularly, record it and put it out as a podcast.  That’s our plan at least.  

Week 4 Recapper’s Death Dance Part 2

Week 4 maybe you should play a phone game instead

I haven’t looked at a lot of fun stuff on the internet this week.  This is pretty funny.  
Before we recap the individual games here is a quick look at the standings as brought to you by Number Munchers where you can learn how to do math with the goal of finding higher scores in the coming weeks. 
The Ringer is doing an NBA meme contest and its good.  Check it out.  Unless you suck then don’t.
Before we recap the individual games here is a quick look at the standings as brought to you by the Black Hart of STP where you can drink beer, sing, dance, make merry and be about 1,000 from a soccer stadium.

Waiver Wednesday update:

The biggest news that I know of here is that we didn’t change the waiver wire set-up and we need to have a vote to make a decision.  Or just everyone yell and Andy and me to change it.  
Maybe someone in there was a big deal.  Hard to get excited about Fitzmagic getting bench for Winston.  Touchdown Jimmy Jesus to IR and Dez got cut too.  Rough week.  


501st Vs. L.Cpl Underground
Last of the Undefeat-eds
*{shhck} – Imperial troops have entered the base! Imperial troops have en-{shh-pmk}* <Carrier Lost>


Yes the old gypsy hex of pointing out how good someone is came back to bite Nicholas in the fuselage as Tim’s army swarmed the battlefield led by this year’s single biggest gun, Alvin Kamara (29.65 points/game average during Ingram’s absence… sheesh) and a spattering of lesser but still powerful clones like the “sound-playing” Ertz (16.2 for Phi as they lost to Ten. GOOD. Would that they lose many more to come) and Atlanta’s Ridley (19.5 beating projections by 10). After last week it appeared The Colonel could do no wrong, eschewing recommended moves and blasting projections, but parity is an unsentimental goddess, and this week only 3 of Nicholas’s 15 players would score above where the Yahoo Gods™[may they be praised] thought they would. He’ll welcome back Cam Newton and Chris Thompson, but there is a lingering chink in the soldier’s armor as both his tight ends are out. He’ll battle Jeff’s Team this week as LCpl introduces himself to Ray Finkle… probably with his Gun out, in a duel of 2 and 2 teams. Schwartz’ be with you all. 

There has been some chatter on should we switch to free agent blind bidding? Think about it folks.  It’d be fun.  

Search 107.48 v Jeff’s Team 112.6

Live by the former Badgers QB and die by the former Badgers QB. 

Ekim basically did the Texas two-step and filled in the rest with trash.  

Blaming Russ Wil isn’t really fair if Bryon ends up one game out of the playoffs.  Benching Cooper Kupp when he goes off for a potential season-high that’s the sort of thing that sticks with you.  You wake up at 2am and wonder if you should take out Landry or not cause Kupp did light up the Vikes that one time.  There might also be a potential trade here.  Look Ekim won this match-up but he’s putting Nelson Agholor out there on the regular.  Bryon, you give Ekim one of your WR and in return, Michael agrees to play the Miami defense against you forever anytime you guys match-up.  Let’s make it happen.  

In the coming week Ekim you are facing Nick and at present you are a 20pt dog you might wnt to address your lineup.  B-money you are lining up against our resident east-coast west-coaster in Steel House so please protect your coast and let’s not overthink the Kupp thing.  

Bye Week 105.92 vs. Steel House 108.90

Jarrett’s squad mounted their best effort of 2018 but were missing that confidence from their manager in the naming department to get them the extra 3 points needed to notch their first win of the season. Dalvin Cook laid a major goose egg (trade time, Carl?) and Jesse James took a back seat to Vance Magic Vance (for all the good it did SOMEONE), but it looks like he has a DEF worth keeping around. Hobbled Rodgers is surely the leading cause of Bye Week’s woes, but we’ll need to see if McCarthy and A-Rodg can get on the same page. Things are going to get interesting as Doug Baldwin and Mark Ingram start to get some looks for Bye Week. 

Steel House has made a few wise moves beyond auto-drafting (which looks like a great draft strategy to YOURS TRULY right about now), grabbing DeSean Jackson and James Connor, who did just enough to put Tom’s Team over. Looking ahead, his squad could be dangerous. Someone tell him that Alshon is back to ruin fools, or better yet, don’t. And Matty Ice is on a tear, if anyone is looking to trade things up. Who wants a QB controversy each week, anyway? NOT THIS GUY.

Windowless 112.98 v VideoGames 125.28
Nick scooped his projections by 1.40 points.  A pretty solid showing on the week.  THE VIDEO GAMES TUB THUMPED YOU WITH A WHOPPING 30.42 POINT IMPROVEMENT OVER THEIR PROJECTIONS.

Sorry you lost Nick.  You also lost the bench game.  Its not like you lost the real game and then had 82 points on the bench.  Nope Videogames beat you and sat some serious big knockers. 

This loss has set-up a pretty cool 1-3 matchup between the Van and the Big Head next week.  Presently it looks like a good matchup.  Let’s hope Cooper plays and shows up.  Video games is pulling Bye Week and the Byes presently have their D on the bye so we’ll see what shakes out there.  

Big Head Mode Vs. Jordy Bangs Goats
 
The task fell to me, to sing the song of a great duel between two legs of “You Like That?!”’s triumvirate of slavish writers. Warily I gazed over the event horizon of a struggle that would, in the space of one game, send one of them SOARING to 2nd place at 3-1 and one PLUMMETING into the near-oblivion of 11th at 1-3 [sorry Jarrett]. Vainly I sought to borrow surcease from the burden in the knowledge that it had been a game well-fought by both sides. I wasn’t. It was a slide to ruin and straight-and-arrow passage to the Promised Land at the same time. I can’t do this. I’m not worthy, and I’m not supposed to be here.I have to leave this place.  I’m out.

… {Auto-Run:.>execute: program./default/realcarl’give0010110010up>exe. SHADOW AI ALGOrITHM CARL}..Boot[robotic voice] initializing……     …..   ..

TOpiCAL REFerENce: hhEY you gguYZ like {Vikins football tte1101am??} Andy+Jeff=friendsMOCK THEM

<cAPPtion “See 001 these NUU101011110Berss?!!” they don’t MEAN anythiing101>]

COMPARE STATS: Time=Zero Andy+20 proj@111.93v99.79=jeff, Narrative ,pRECIPitito1010001us fall y=-1.1(minutes)x + 20 initial PrrJect10100010111ed win] T=end/STOP obse01110ve: Jordy=121 [{note^many left bench points!-still=WIN]}

SUMMARIZE Fututre=11010001 Andy @1-3 VS Windowless and JordyVS=CUZNUG$Narrative”3-1”3-1”both percentile.>=85% -Very FuuNN..

execute: continue ev01010ving…

Cuz Nug 135.06 vs. Laces Out 122.36
 
Leading the way of an unusually high-scoring week that saw 11 out of 12 teams top 100 points (don’t bother looking up who didn’t clear the benchmark, it doesn’t matter) was Zachary Ty Olson. This loss is gonna stick in Finkle’s craw (what is a craw, exactly? And what’s a craw on a confused individual such as Ray Finkle?), since his score would have bested 8/11 of his prospective opponents. But instead he had to watch Hunt, White, Cooks, and Mahomes all score over 20 points in the same week. Looks like doubling down on that KC offense has proven very beneficial to the Minnesota Wolverine.


“And seriously?” thought Finkle, “The GD Pats have to decide to give James White the most fantasy points of the season the ONE week that I’m up against him?” Improving on his high water mark by 14.6 points was all the difference it took. Finkle looks to greatly benefit from the check-down throws of a QB who knows how to Beathard, and Boyd is a solid waiver pickup, but who expects the stud receiving duo of the Michael Bros. to pool their efforts into just over FIFTEEN points? LACES OUT!

Week 3 REcaps Are Getting Tighter

Week 3 maybe you should play a phone game instead

Today is a different day and a new week starts.  To add to that new week its Andy’s freaking Birthday.  I found this picture of him at his new job.  Looks like he’s taking the chain-saw world apart.  And if you didn’t already read this HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANDY.
Before we recap the individual games here is a quick look at the standings as brought to you by Number Munchers where you can learn how to do math with the goal of finding higher scores in the coming weeks. 

Waiver Wednesday update:

The big thing on this week’s pick-ups?  Looks like we might need to augment the waiver system.  

Nick got Eifert and that feels like a steal.  Tyler Boyd seems to have been popular so I hope he pays off.  

There has been some chatter on should we switch to free agent blind bidding? Think about it folks.  It’d be fun.  

Time for trades yet?

Jordy bangs goats v All the VIDEOGAMES!!

BloodBath
by Ardy
Yes yes, two of your regular columnists were pitted against one another as early as week three. This contest would almost drive one from the fold, but happily, he’s back in action in this week’s newsletter. Carl was riding high after last week’s 65 points from Cousins and Diggs, but no one expected the Vikes would fall so flatly on their faces. At least now we know how the mascot’s nose got like that.

Last week’s champ just kept the ball rolling, advancing to 2-1 on the backs of strong outings from two Seattle veterans, and the ONE Viking who balled out. Helps that Will Fuller the fifth is officially has a “pace” of 15+ each game. Carl could have done it with some bench moves, but who is gonna bench the Vikes duo at HOME after a performance like THAT in Green Bay? No one, that’s who. Hats off to Jeff, who was able to comfortably leave some points on the bench. It’s rare to have such a cushion.

Looking ahead, Carl will be watching Big Head vs. Jordy fairly closely, plotting his takedowns of both of us in the process.  If things don’t change soon for the home team, I might be relegated to a mere journalist in this league. And all is not lost for Carl himself, who can create some space between him and fellow 1-2 Windowless van. Both sides have a bye week issue, and it’s likely going to affect Carl more, because that’s 1, maybe 2 TDs he can’t count on anymore.

Big Head Mod v Laces Out
by Jeff

Its a B+ v C grade via the old Yahoo.  Yahoo’s algorithm is lazy bro.  Let’s get deeper folks.  Brady sucked so that didn’t help Ray but it also hurt Ardy cause Brady throw to Hogan folks.  Evans got some late run thanks to FitzMagic and smoked Goodwin.  Goodwin might be hurt statswise cause who’s his QB now?  Zeke and Johnson off-set.  Oh snap that Evans boost got eaten by McCaffrey.  Finally, white silk is paying off for Ardy.  Oh nooooo Kittle just straight murdered Dissly.  Can Ardy come back from this?  Okay, Howard knocks Thomas down but then Tucker kicks McManus in the nobs and ends it.  Oh shit Ardy is dazed and its the DIAMOND CUTTER.  THE RAMS COMING OUT OF NOWHERE AND EXECUTE A PERFECT DIAMOND CUTTER.


Cuz Nug v 501st
by Ardy
For Pat Mahomes, a 25-point outing is a bit of a regression. It might have been concerning, had 7/9 positions on Tim’s side performed below projections. Kamara was a standout, and he won the kicker battle, but traitors don’t prosper in this league. Thus the gods of SKOL smiled down upon Zach and his squad, saying “don’t worry guy, you don’t NEED a kicker to win this week.” If it’s any consolation, there was no help from the bench. 

Coming up this week, Zach is up against Ray for the clash of some 2-1s. Their projections differ by 0.55 pts, but Ray has the edge as his performance this season has him sitting in 2nd place, while Nug has the same record but is sitting 5th.

Tim, on the other hand, is going up against the undisputed #1 in our league, the newcomer LCpl Underground. Smart money’s on Nicholas’ continued dominance, but the 501st is putting a burning hot Calvin Ridley on the field. Big upset potential if you’re picking games (which you can do by viewing a matchup, then clicking “pick to win” on either side). Helps that Nicholas has two guys on bye. Good luck to both.

Windowless Van v Steel House
by Jeff
Thanks Tom.  An 0-3 Kegger wouldn’t be a happy Kegger.  Really thanks to Drew mother-fucking Brees.  Dude I hated watching that guy roast the Gophers at Purdue.  That 40.54 totally covered for Cooper being Cooper.  What’s up with Cooper this year?  Nick man I’ll give you some flotsam if you’d like?  Tom was just plain unlucky this week though.  I mean come on dude can’t get a score over his forecast.  This match was pretty much over as soon as Sunday AM kicked off.  Better luck this week Tom.  Glass Joes are pretty rough so far so please don’t give them a free-pass.  Nick man you’ve got a tough one this week.  The videogames are looking for an early week bump from their slumping Vikes.  Good luck fellers. 

LCpl Underground v Search for Saq-uatchby Curt
The grizzled and gun-powder caked Lt. Cpl took one last cigar draw as he looked out over a field of dead apes. “Well,” he gruffed to his limping sergeant, “that’s one less place where THAT bigfoot could be.”
Sitting atop the pile after three games is Nicholas with consistent play and reliable production from Cam Newton, Brown and Bernard. You know I five out of nine of my starters were Vikings. He won’t have Cam Newton going into week 4 (watch those Bye Weeks, Boys!) but the military man has Baltimore. Flacco on deck vs. a favorable match-up against Pittsburg’s defense so don’t cry for him. Bryon for his part has great upside even in this his first loss of the season and even though all but 2 of his players won their real games, his team didn’t get near his projection of 109.85 this week. He’ll look ahead to Jeff’s Team for a chance at taking back the top spot from a middle-ranked Ekim Yor. They were at home and 17 point over-dogs and looked like poo; look I dropped L. Murray if anyone’s interested. GD
 The coaching breakdown brought to you by…

A man and his dog

Lcprl 88% and playing 6 out of 9 of his best options. That’s solid play, and considering 5 out of 6 of his benched players had very favorable match-ups (the green shit), it’s fair to say that the Colonel thinks for himself making him a very dynamic and self-driven adversary and one to be feared for the rest of the season.  Sasquatch  62.4% making only 4 of the nine best roster moves at his disposal. A D– won’t get you any ass, so get on the F-Series and be a Man… Ape… Beast…(?) You Fuckers.

The Glass Joes v Jeff’s Team
, Curt Lookin’ like a greased King Hippo gettin’ into spandex, Jarrett couldn’t pull over the upset against one of our more chameleon-tastic managers and now sinks to the bottom of the standings at 0-3. Things looked promising at the outset, with a resurgent Bears defense handling the hapless Cardinals and good performances by Rodgers, Jones, Funchess and Breida, but Ekim had the goods with Deshawn Watson getting 25% of his Jeff’s Team’s score and more points than his real-life Texans did in their latest loss. The future looks dire for The Joes as Rodgers continues to have knee problems, Atlanta’s defense not being able to get Jones and Ryan much field-time, and Jimmy G.’s season-ending injury probably ripping down to hinder Brieda’s prospects as the pass game will have difficulty getting established. Start pressing SELECT a bunch, Broseph!

This Coaching Grade Break-Down brought to you by

You’re All Set! The professional euphemism for ‘now feck off, ya wee grubby wanka’s!

Jarrett at 99.2% with 8 out of 9 of his best choices, and a paltry .7 off of the best… WHAT CAN YA, DO, ya know?!? At least you get an A here this week. You know this GD APP gave me the SHAME notification for my faith in Minnesota this week and forced me to walk naked down the street. If you see the pictures remember it was kinda cold- so don’t gimme no Shit. (Clears throat.) So yes, in the other corner Little Mac aka. Jeff’s Team with 96.9% and also 8 out of 9 of the best plays. Good job, Guy, and I hope you and your family enjoy the Arby’s coupon.
Now go watch Thursday Night Football! And SSSKOOOOOOLLLL, VikingS!!!

Week 2 where we find ourselves no longer in Kansas

There are times when you miss, there are times when you kiss and then there are times when you tie the GB Packers. 

This past week might just be a little bit of all three.

Before we recap the individual games here is a quick look at the standings as brought to you by Geico where you can save some meaningful percentage on your car insurance if you click on their product. 

Waiver Wednesday update:

Looks like we know where Tim’s Loyalty lies, choosing Crosby over Bailey with his waiver priority. Makes you wonder if Carl even knows about the waiver wire, missing out on an opportunity to snag Minnesota’s shiny new kicker. Steel House made a major upgrade by picking up DeSean Jackson, and The Glass Joes might actually have a keeper in the Outlaw Jesse James. And don’t sleep on Nicholas, the ringer brought in to teach us all a lesson. He made three pickups that could play large dividends the next few weeks.

Time for trades yet?

Big Head Mode Vs. 501st

Enhance Your Head, John Spartan
by Curt
Andy beat Tim. He needed Bears’ Howard to get 4.52 on MNF and it got a little suspenseful after the half when he wasn’t quite there… come’on, just one more run… come –‘ere you, come ‘ on you… GET A GD RUN! Sorry, echo’s of my last week with Jordy, who I fired. Anyway he got 8.3 giving Ardy the W to move to 1-1. Big Ben got 38.98, and Ardy also has The Fitzmagic (who beat the Eagles at home) on his bench-look out for this guy. Tim beat Carl last week in part because Carl thought it was another preseason game and benched all his starters. Ardy didn’t make the same mistake and netted a coaching grade of 90.3% as he prepares for Laces Out. Tim playing J. Cole (of Jacksonville) over either D. Adams (GB) P. Garcon (SF) or his slashie (D. henry – Ten RB) would have won. Woulda shoulda coulda.

His coaching grade was still a solid 87.5% as he heals for this week’s bout with Cuz Nug. Personally, I think 501st’ kicker, <some fired guy>, was practicing controlled, intentional missing ‘cause Vader wanted the rebels to escape. Or some shit. Whatever. Fired. Moving on.

Steel House v Jordy bangs goats
by Curt
Dental Floss Smells Like Ass
Sometimes the recommended drafts are good ideas. Gurley, the #1 pick and chosen by a robot seems to be paying dividends, he scored 30.8 (proj. 20.7 – 50% over) and Kelce showed up this week against Pittsburg. Tom started an OUT kicker and benched Matt Ryan but who could blame him because the Bills look like buffalo dung and Rivers was gonna be a safe bet. After-the-fact calculations show coaching grades of 92.8 for Jeffrey and 89.3 for Tom. Jeff played Houston’s Defense when he should have played Houston’s WR Fuller V (or fifth? Or fif?).

But even with perfect coaching there wasn’t a way out of this loss. It was like a trap; or some strong-material-ed enclosure. Some kind of solid-structured place or thing that makes or engineers or generates points and you can’t get out of it 😐 Yes, friends, Tom Nagel is here to say. Last year’s champ is middle of the road at 222.84 pts. and 6/12 in standings heading into his next game against The Vids, Tom Nagel has the highest point total so far at 259.8 heading in his next against Windowless. *Gjallarhorn Blast!*

Cuz Nug v LCpl Underground
by Jeff
The grades are in and by a + LCpl puts Cuz underground.  This one was tight largely due to the -1 pt Baltimore’s D hung up on the board.  Which still somehow has them tied for 13th best defense fantasy scoring-wise so far this season.  There are currently 7 DEF available that have outscored Baltimore this season.  Its early in the year and if you were going to talk of statistics it should be noted there is quite a bit of noise after just two weeks.  
The whole league needs to be aware of Pat Mahomes.  Sure isn’t a ballboy anymore. 

Superman paced him enough to keep it close.  With the Eifert v Engram match-up tilted in LCpl’s favor but like I said earlier just look at these positional match-ups and this one was razor thin the whole way through.  These two teams are stacked and have high-octane QBs to power them through the season.  

Good luck to Cuz Nug as they look for their 2nd win against the 501st.  LCpl Underground looks to continue full-steam ahead against the mythical questers from the northwest.

Laces Out v All the VIDEOGAMES!!
by Ardy
This matchup could have created some space in the league, pitting a 1-0 versus an 0-1, but instead, they found themselves separated by 20 points and tied in the season rankings. Finkle could have done it if he had read his crystal ball correctly, but he was afraid (rightfully so) of that Jags D, and who can bench a guy that had almost 20 points last week? Clement and ASJ balled from the bench, and only made things more complicated going forward. Carl’s team sealed the deal by starting two players playing catchup to take a game into overtime. Touchdowns abound, and it was enough to make up for single-digit outings from 4 players on other teams. Seeing Rudolph find some rhythm with Cousins will push this squad one stem closer to a Vikes-dominated lineup.

Windowless Van v Jeff’s Team
by Ardy
Don’t look now, but last year’s Skolster is at a 50% win percentage. How did he get there, you ask? Well, it helps when 6 of your position players score above their projections. Ekim has doubled down on Houston, so as Deshaun and DeAndre get back up to speed, Jeff’s Team will reap the benefits. Since he easily started his best possible lineup with the available pieces, the biggest missed opportunity here was not changing his team name to Nick’s Team. Speaking of Nick, he needed more than a near 30-pt performance from Melvin Gordon the third. Age-old question: is it harder to lose when you had the necessary points on your bench? For Nick, it wouldn’t have mattered this week. Down to 0-2.

The Glass Joes v Search for Saq-uatchby Jeff
The sasquatches came to play. 

They not only won the match-up but they also took the bench battle.  While the Joe’s took home the crown for the lowest score of the week.  If their TE had given them 1.23 points or better they would’ve had 2nd worst over Laces but who’s mincing these types of things?  Thankfully the Joe’s have already found Jesse James to fix the issue. 
The real standout in this matchup was AJ Green.  3 TDs is pretty sweet any week.  Getting the Cincy passing game going could make them a real fantasy force all season.  The Cincy running game looks to be grinding gears but that wasn’t an issue here. 
Doug Baldwin not being available hurt and it probably doesn’t make the searches pleased to see their main squeeze out except for the weeks they face him in fantasy.  
From the afternoon Sunday games on it looked pretty good for the Joe’s to go 0-2.  You just can’t f-with those WR points.

Good luck next week Search takes on LCpl Underground in a battle of the unbeatens and Joe’s takes on the vaunted Jeff’s Team.  Jeff’s might be posers but you can never count a Jeff out.  

One last note before we go this was reportedly found left at a Starbucks in Egan this past Monday. 
Thanks for coming by and drive home safely!!

Copyright © 2018 The Drake Physics Project, All rights reserved.

You paid Andy $20 a year to be part of this, now enjoy it.

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Week One Recap

Dear True Believers, old and new

Perhaps the biggest shake-ups here at YOU LIKE THAT?! is the addition of two young talents to the weekly writing staff. I’d like to welcome Jeffrey, your co-commish, as a regular contributor to the weekly columns, and Carl from Aqua Teen in a featured role that will hopefully become a weekly appearance. His only request is that there be an active community on this shiny new Yahoo league, so if you want him to stick around, leave a comment on this Week 1 story and keep the group chat going, for goodness sake.
I’ve spent hours a week in years’ past trying to keep the conversation going, but our growth was constrained by the limitations of NFL.com, much like underwear that is too tight. We tried social media as a crutch, but not all were willing to come over to the darkside. And those who were already there were distracted by daily happenings across the globe, like that cat that couldn’t jump far enough.

So here we are, with a new team of writers assembled. For this introductory newsletter, we have divvied up the week’s games, and I apologize in advance for being the boring one. We will try to make sure that Carl gets to take a shot at everyone before week 6.
So without further ado about nothing,

Year 2018, A cold February day, in the Water City…

How long had I been out for? What was this pounding in my head? Could the score reallly have been 38-to feeiackin 7? Like the 7 they got in the first 2 minutes 7? That’s all? Bbbaaalllllllsssssss…
… I stumbled to my feet and rubbed my eyes to see through the haze. As the dust cleared over a ruined and frozen hellscape I saw a massive green eagle perched above my beloved skyline. In its stained talons were the remnants of an American flag, a three-cornered hat, and some broken purple bucket seats. Screeching it tore through the clouds never to be seen again. A beaten but still bloated with gold and drunken with Sam Adams ding-bat stumbled out and took the last bite of lefse before stepping on a loon and quaking away. From the rubble of the steeple I saw what had to have been none other than “Bridge Over Troubled Water” hobbling out, clinging to his VIP Pass and saying, “Why GOD??!”   WWhhhhyyyyyyyy….  
Thor had lost. Half the Vikings fans gave up forever. Half the Star Wars fans went to the Dark Side. I knew this tragedy must never be repeated. I must never play fantasy football again. No, not ME. Not THIS me. Not the one who had Tried Nightrow Tubing and lived to break even. No, like Apollo Creed, or Dylan in the first Predator movie, or the bad guy in Ghost, or (probably soon) Rick Grimes’ son, or that dumbass neighbor in a bunch of episodes, I would have to cross the spirit land. I would need to re-emerge different, and become something elemental, and I’ll need all the best videogame-teachers to help. I’m talking about the SNES here. Imust search for my lost brethren and take on Kefka in the world of ruin. I must become “The Carl”

Jordy Bangs Goats v Jeff’s Team

recapped by Ardy
Talk about believing the hype! The Goat-banger has Case Keenum on his roster, along with NO OTHER QBs. Of course the guy showed up, he was arguably the best value QB on the market. Compared to the QB on the other side, who fell 8.5 pts short of his projection, Keenum outshined pretty much everyone except Fitzmagic (who was, until recently, unrostered – YOINK!). Then there was the battle of the DET receivers, and the Golden boy more than doubled Mr. Jones. Gronk really helped Jeffrey (not Jeff’s TEAM, mind you) make up for losing his #1 pick until God-knows-when by outscoring everyone on Ekim’s side, most of them twice over.

We’ll see if Ekim keeps using mind games as his main offense, or if he can try to put a team together who doesn’t miss their projection by 40 points.

Big Head Mode v Cuz Nug
aka

Kirk-A-Palooza,
by Carl

First I knew I had to find my commissioner’s office management to rebuild a bridge to Kefka. I shiny new face sported the purple tunic of Minnesota where-in a double-barreled Kirk-zooka blast hit in MPLS. Ardy Party had a slight edge against his big-nugged similar-looking “cousin” Zach going into the grudge match between these old dogs. Fate seemed to favor the conservative, after all I’m too young to remember the last time the Browns won anything, so SURELY Big Ben with his arsenal would pile on the points. The Browns would in fact TIE, and Ben would score 4 under his projection in a messy game. Zach meanwhile started Mahomes against the Charges and would beat his projection by 10 points for a solid 28.34 – 12 add-in. Pittsburg’s own WR Juju on Cuz would actually out-score Roethlisberger on Ardy.  Zach’s Beckham was the only reason Eli Manning didn’t just give up behind a porous O-Line by posting a nice 16.5. The Nutz put the screws to Big-Head by starting Mixon vs. Indianapolis and going yard for 23.4. By Monday the party was dying down and Ardy-Head must have been deflating like one of Tom Brady’s 6 balls as he (probably) did the calculation to find he needed his kicker to score 27.84 points. He didn’t. Ardy could have won only with perfect coAching, and only by 1.61 points. As it was Ardy got 77.7% of his ceiling, and Zach got 86.2% and won the day.  *Final Fantasy Victory Music*

501st 114.14  v All the Videogames!! 107.86

aka
Benches Shoulda Cleared
by Jeff

Week one of the all Vikings related draft with Sterling Shepard and Jordan Wilkins went about as expected.  501st preserved the win Monday night with an uninspired performance behind Matt Stafford.  Stafford looking more like Kegger’s golf game spraying and praying all over the field.  4-1 would be sweet if it was TDs to picks but it wasn’t it and 12.04 points didn’t matter thanks to Kamara launching the team past a few uninspired results.  The Charger’s -3.00 points is funny but not as funny as Videogames 100.72 bench points.  Its possible Carl will find room for a few of those guys off the bench this week against Ray but its also possible you can read.  You got unlucky in the WR selection.  We all know that Jacksonville had a great defense last year but you banked on regression.  Conversely, we all knew that Tennessee had a horrible defense last year but having already decided to follow regression you held strong and I commend you.  The Jared Cook thing is an after-thought that makes sense right?  I mean they play on a baseball field so you don’t want to worry about running on and off the dirt so just throw to the guy that stays in the dirt?  I don’t get that one but I’m guessing Denver’s use of actual linebackers might slow him up a bit.  Rudi always likes to light up the Pack so good luck on that choice this week.  Yeldon getting the load after the Fournette injury is something you couldn’t have seen before-hand but it’ll be a nice bird in the hand going forward.  I feel for you on the Ginn-in or Ginn-out decision.  You’d imagine he’d have 3-5 TDs this year and he just spent one on your bench.  

I’m not saying you should’ve known which guy was going to explode for the Jets but I might be tempted to wait another week to see if the Jets are legit a thing or if the Lions just suck again.  

Good luck next week to both of you.  Videogames watch your kicker, looks like it might rain.  501st two of your scary RB are projected to be in the rain too.  Best of luck boys!

Laces Out v Steel House

Aka,
Steel House, Padded Walls, All the Ballz,
by Carl

The most high-octane event of the week was Between Ray and Tom and saw both players beat their projections as well as both players score over 97% of their ceiling. Ray did what he does best: Dress up like a woman, get promoted to chief of Miami’s Police Dept., steal a real goddam dolphin, grind on Jim Carry, and especially use his sensitively to the kinds of emotional stress that athletes have to endure to intuit a starting team that averaged over 18 points a player. He would have even more impressive stats but for Titans Tight End (huh, tightens… tite.. an..d.. NEAT) Delanie Walker busting up his leg and being out for the season. His IRL adversary was the usually reliable Travis Kelce but disappointed Tom on the field with a paltry 1.1, less than 10% his projected value. Tom’s kicker and D/ST were standouts for the normally lower-scoring spots but in the end 4 of his guys kinda stunk. I guess sometimes the projections are wrong. I guess sometimes you shouldn’t do what “the pros” recommend. Imma gonna draft Cousins with the third pick-and-then-only-vikings-forever- WHAT, ARE YOU QUEER?!?

Sorry. AAnnnyywho next week Tom faces off against Jordy Bangs Goats and may have to make some tough decisions like whether to roll the dice with Kelce away at Pittsburg or The Packers’ Graham at home vs. the formidable Vikes D. He also has Eagles WR Jeffrey (other guy) out vs. Bucs and WR D. Parker of Miami questionable with a finger injury. As for Ray, He’ll have to decide if the real GOAT can win against their motivated AFC rivals in their own house or press his “Luck” against Washington to beat All the Videogames. Staaayyyyy   TUUNNEEED! 

Windowless Van 118.96 v Search for Saq-uatch 140.22

aka
0-1 unlucky bastard
by Jeff

Search for Saq-uatch picked up the early season win.  We could take pity on the Windowless Van by pointing out they’d have beaten both sides of three contests this week and tied another.  The legit fourth-highest point total for the week but that sort of talk doesn’t win championships.  If the van doesn’t find a rudder pretty soon they’ll be staring down the barrel of 0-2.  Typically in years past, we’d have suggested something like starting Emmanual Sanders over Amari Cooper especially when you factor in Cooper is facing top-end secondaries for first two weeks and furthermore has ProFootball Focuses toughest graded slate of CB to face for the season.  Let’s not trouble ourselves with facts when we let this guy call plays for him instead.

Austin Ekeler is essentially a fart in the wind heading the other direction.  Good luck this time but next time I’m not betting on it.  Don’t forget that next week you’ll be dealing with Jeff’s Team and their no-nonsense attitude.  
As for the winner.  I thought you were a Seahawks fan?  Sure you played Wilson over Mariota. Were drafting Tyler Lockett just to prove it?  Nah, I’m clowning that was essentially a perfect lineup.  Kupp would’ve netted you 1.2 more points.  The real weak point in the roster today appears to be the tight end.  Simple just working in legs-day every day.  Problem solved.  Don’t overlook the Glass Joes’ on the horizon bro.  They don’t have a tight end right now.  What if they added Will Dissly?  They might beat you.  Come to think of it Dissly is a Seahawk so go get’em.  Eric Ebron and Jesse James are names of people too.  

The Glass Joes v LCpl Underground

recapped by Ardy
Newcomer Nicholas was Narrowly projected to win his game against Jay-Rett, and even though they both fell short of projections, one fell much shorter. ESPN had an article pointing to the name change to “the glass joes” being responsible for AA-ron leaving the game for x-rays. 

But then this guy Discount Double-Checks himself before you-know-what and leads his team to a masterful come-from-behind victory! If he hadn’t missed time, who knows what was possible. But it’s hard to win when two of your slots combined get -4 points, as was the case with D. Baldwin and the A’ints (as in, “ain’t gon’ play defense”). Nicholas’ defense, on the other hand, got 17 points, which is, like, one million percent of -4 (don’t check the math on that). Solid performances from Cam, Brown, and Keenan, plus the return of Lucky TY, sealed the deal. We’ll see if Jarrett can avoid 0-4 before Ingram suits up, but it won’t be easy.

https://mailchi.mp/d6e20d76409e/episode-20181-learning-to-like-that-yeah-i-know-all-about-that

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Arsenal v West Ham United

  • 3rd mn Guendouzi passes long off a quick restart to pick out Bellerin
    • Possession is lost quickly
    • Guendouzi blows the tackling going the other way
  • WH striker reaches for a ball bit of a rough tackle via Stafi that seemed to give WH strike a knock
  • Arsenal passing isn’t crisp but its quick
  • Lots of pressure on the backline due to the high-line and the transition to the shorter passing style
  • Back four isn’t synced
  • Front four isn’t fully synced either
  • Guendouzi sees things ahead of his teammates and when he understands his teammates runs a little better he’s going to spring people
  • 7th mn Bellerin gives up a ball that turns into a counter 5-4 but arsenal recovered to have numbers 7-5 pretty quickly
  • Midfield shape seems to be more of a quadrant system than a pure one back, one up idea
  • 11th mn Ramsey offside goal.  The combos are there they just need time to perfect
  • 12th mn WH offside trap beat shows the lack of cohesion
  • Nacho goes down 17th after a great run up the pitch
  • The game was really slanted toward arsenal the first goal really came against the run of play
    • Arsenal gave it up in midfield then recovered
    • While starting to push numbers the midfield was up.  It was a 3 on 4 Arsenal’s advantage
    • Arnautovic makes a simple run from Cech’s right post towards the left.
    • Felipe Anderson takes the ball from inside the right post toward the outside of the same post.  
    • Stafi commits to Arnautovic the pass comes in and Stafi misses the interception and the subsequent tackle.  Sok steps up to challenge just as Arnautovic shoots. Arnautovic picks out just inside Cech’s right post and even though Cech has guessed correctly he’s not able to cover.  
  • Instead of deflating Arsenal keep pressure and keep finding the ball
  • The linkages are just fractionally off.  
  • Bellerin and Mkhi share a few passes down the right flank.  The recycle with Stafi to Mkhi who finds a streaking Bellerin.  Belli crosses in and Auba, Ramsey, and Iwobi all commit to the box.  The pass doesn’t find anyone but Nacho is on the backside to clean up the free ball and bury it for a 1-1 scoreline.  
  • Shortly after the restart Antonio just runs passed Belli who was on the front foot and not ready for the run.  
    • Luckily Antonio was expecting this much space and just essentially passed it to Cech
    • This really speaks to the depth and quality top to bottom.  There are clearly danger men on every EPL side. Anderson has qualities that should find him as a starter on any team in the league.  Antonio appears to be more of a rotational player based on the form of the moment. In fairness maybe he’s still feeling out this attack.  Heaven’s knows Arsenal weren’t cleanly linking
  • The WH midfield plan wasn’t really clear to me.  
  • Guendouzi and Xhaka are clearly seeking and destroying with the free reign to pick out any passing going forward of their liking.  Ramsey/Iwobi/Mkhi all are pretty high which creates a definite separation or space between the two levels of the midfield.
    • I’m not that interested in this double-pivot set-up at present.  I like Xhaka and Guendouzi in the midfield together. I’d rather see them slightly higher with a true 6 behind the two.  It’d mean one less attacking midfielder. The work-rate that Guendouzi and Xhaka bring is great. If Auba is going to be the lone striker you could get width through Iwobi down the left and the Bellerin/Mkhi combo down the right.  With two central midfielders slightly higher up the pitch than Xhaka and Guendouzi have played thusly would also give more options when Belli and Mhki are finding combinations down the flank.
  • Auba took one from distance that was nice.  I’m sure he’ll be wanting to get off the mark
  • Sok and Stafi don’t have a great feel together at present.  Too much space created between the two and they are both reacting at the wrong times.
    • Sok seems slow
    • Stafi is coming in for the challenge but just not timing them well so he’s a fraction early/late
  • Laca on to start the 2nd half is fun.  Iwobi didn’t look bad to my eyes.
  • Cech reminds me of the last few years of Brad Friedel.  The ability is still there for the most part but he’s probably not a twice a week starter and it’ll probably take him a little longer to get back to match fitness every week.  
  • The Anderson-Arnautovic combo is solid.  Arnautovic having to sub off was too bad
  • Chicharito has always been a dude that should cause more issues for my money.  Anderson and Chicharito might be too similar but being able to go from the more direct and powerful option to more of a speed option will probably prove useful during the season.
  • Torreira coming on made sense to me and I’m interested to see him with Xhaka
    • I think that Torreira is more of the pure 6 that Arsenal have lacked for years
    • I want to see him with different pairings.  
    • Xhaka has more experience within the EPL and putting him with Torreira instead of Guendouzi limits the youth you are exposing to difficult situations.  
    • Both players are still capable passers.
    • It’ll come down to who is best acquainted with Emery’s formation/system and who ends up having the fitness is to the level to best extract results
    • I’d still rather see Torreira as a lone holding midfielder
  • The issues that I see for Arsenal is mainly associated with our lack of cohesion.  I think that when the team has a few hundred more hours under their belt together things will look a lot more smooth.  


Arsenal V Chelsea London Derby Part 1 aka Match Day 2

Arsenal v Chelsea has been a fun match for years.  More fun if you are a Chelsea fan but fun regardless.  The ManCity match largely felt sloppy on both sides.  I felt like Arsenal didn’t have a cohesive feel to their play but City was also choppy.  This match felt like neither team had an identity.  I fell in love with Arsenal’s beautiful passing combinations and understood that those beautiful passing sequences at times left them open at the back.  Like most Arsenal fans I felt Wenger’s time was up.  Either the dressing room no longer listened or maybe the game had moved to a place that no longer suits his style.  Match Day 1 against the reigning champion I largely felt okay to not be played off the pitch.  Match Day 2 was on the road to a to cross-town rival, a team that finished better than Arsenal last year, but like Arsenal a team with a new manager trying to find themselves on the pitch.  

  • Arsenal and a high defensive line haven’t been the best cohorts historically for my liking.  
    • Most recently it was Per Mertesacker getting caught out for pace over and over
    • Presently, we are seeing Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shkodran Mustafi stretched for pace.  
  • The high defensive line is paired with a short-passing game from the back that hasn’t really developed to this point. 
    •  Cech looks uncomfortable but so does the backline.  Having options left and right about 10 yards from the goal gives Cech two quick outlets. Chelsea kept pushing their striker and wings up to put immediate pressure on the ball.  Cech had to get the ball moving quickly and as soon as he passed it the recipient was under pressure too.  
    • Bellerin feels like he’s still finding his legs in this current role.  Bellerin has loads of athletic ability, namely pace.  Receiving the ball so deep on the field might eventually work out well.  Right now he doesn’t appear to be comfortable.  Bellerin also doesn’t appear to have a clear line of communication developed with his right-sided partner.  Henrikh Mkhitaryan might also still be learning/developing his role within this system.  The communication between the two players helped lead into the first two Chelsea goals very clearly with more on that to come.   It must be said on the last second chance Giroud had Bellerin busted his ass to get back and put in a challenge.  Watch that in the highlights.  Guendouzi gives up on the play as if to almost say you got me Giroud you got me.  Bellerin doesn’t give up even though he’s been on the field the entire match.  Bellerin is 10+ yards further up the pitch than Guendouzi too.  How Hazard doesn’t put that away himself is questionable and has to be chalked up to a World Cup hangover.  Giroud missing is classic Giroud.  The one he should bag gets stopped but the next three he shouldn’t have a sniff on are converted with ease.  
    • Nacho seems fine.  Nacho might not be the best footballer, the best athlete or the best fit in any one position.  When Nacho is deployed he plays.  From having watched Nacho for the past few years my sense is that he is really smart and can adapt to the game around him.  Ask Nacho to play a high line, and he’ll be vocally leading it.  Ask Nacho to play a CB and he’ll be fighting with the opposition’s tallest players.  Slide Nacho into a spot and he’ll do his damnedest to adapt.  When Nacho is beaten it is typically due to being outplayed not being out-positioned or being in the wrong spot.  In this match, Nacho largely dealt with his charges.  Chelsea appeared to be deliberately moving the focus of the attack to the other side of the pitch.  Don’t forget that if Nacho doesn’t make that interception the first goal doesn’t happen. 
    • Sok looked good to me in the last match.  This match Cech, Sok, and Mustafi didn’t seem synced.  The third goal was a series of stupid plays that ended in Cech getting 5-holed.  I largely felt like the communication and interplay between the three improved as the match progressed and then they hit a wall just before that 3rd goal.  Arsenal was already out of subs at that point in time with only Lichtsteiner on the bench defensively it would’ve been more of a formation change than fresh legs in that rear triangle.  
  • I have more questions about the midfield after the match than before the match.  
    • The initial line-up of Xhaka-Guendouzi-Iwobi-Ozil-Mkhitaryan morphed into Torreira-Guendouzi-Lacazetter/Aubameyang-Ramsey-Mkhitaryan
    • 35 minutes in I was thinking we might see Mkhitaryan slide into a bench role before too long.  I don’t love his interplay with Bellerin, largely due to his apparent apathy to defensive work.  Then he’s directly involved in both goals.  Like I said last week I’m still feeling him out as a player.  In the attacking third, he’s brilliant.  Can Emery find a system, pairing or positioning to minimize his weaknesses?  Or can he simply be coached into a stronger role within the team?  Its apparent to me that there is something there and he should be used.  His partners within the midfield also need to help paper over his weaknesses.  
    • Guendouzi has looked pretty stellar for a 19-year old.  Even more than Torreira, Guendouzi may be playing Xhaka off the pitch.  If Torreira is to be the anchor of the midfield Guendouzi appears to be the water-carrier at present.  Relying on a 19-year-old guy who hasn’t played in the Premier League before feels like it might come back to bite the team in the long-run.  Even if the midfield gets turned over to the kids in Torreira and Guendouzi they still have Ramsey/Xhaka/Elneny available.  
    • Lacazette coming on in the 2nd half isn’t how I feel he’s best used.  I love the idea of fresh legs coming on and stretching the opposition.  I think I’d rather see Laca and Auba starting together.  If they aren’t paired up top I’d like to see them able to swap the lone striker role.  Iwobi looked fine, got on the sheet and gave way to fresh legs.  I do like having Laca as the scoring threat off the bench more than I’d like Iwobi.  I also like having a hard-working winger on the left side than the Ozil/Mkhi thing from the City match.  
    • Ozil feels underused.  There wasn’t enough possession to really maximize his tools.  I didn’t mind his game I just don’t see this formation being able to maximize his potential.  Then again I don’t see any formation that has questions at the back as a formation to maximize Ozil.  Ozil needs to be able to be looking forward, finding space, runs, and weaknesses to exploit.  Tracking back isn’t his strength so playing him into a role where he needs to win balls limits his potential and sucks the life out of the attack.  If he converts that chance in the first 20 minutes it’s a different game.  I think this chance was every bit as bad as Auba’s miss.  Ozil just sliced it wide of the frame.  Auba blasted it over.  There were so many near misses.  This one from the guy that has so much pressure on him from the coach requesting more defense to the weekly wages that it just would’ve been nice to have.  
    • Xhaka can’t really be to blame for the early goals.  The first goal goes to the formation questions.  Dual midfield pivots and a high-line with defenders napping on the first goal.  The shot Barkley put over the bar (its in the highlight package below) shows the space that is still between the holding midfielders and the defenders.  On the second goal, Xhaka is higher than Guendouzi and has drifted left of him.  Mustafi clearly needs to deal with that play differently from cutting Morata off from the ball or just winning the tackle.  Cech guessing wrong didn’t help either.  The yellow card seemed to be more of a statement of intent that Arsenal wasn’t rolling over.  It was a rough place on the field to need that much steel but it didn’t feel horrific. Honestly, I’d be more interested in seeing Xhaka allowed more space slightly higher up the pitch in more of the role of a true number 8 instead of a number 6.  It feels like two number 8s are being played as 6s to fit Ozil the number 10 on the pitch while still having two wingers.  I’d rather see more of a diamond in the midfield.  Give up the width if you have too and play two strikers.  
    • Torreira didn’t sell me on being a straight-away starter.  Torreira got beat for the game-winner.  There were a handful of plays where he wasn’t in the correct hole.  He was marking Hazard for a chunk of his time on the pitch.  This felt more of a case where having the two number 6s actually lead to more confusion as to who was the last line of defense in the midfield, who needed to step-up or back.  I really think putting a single pivot into the formation will clear up the confusion.  It will also allow for tighter marking.  On the game-winner, Torreira lets him man slip by and I only assume this is because he thinks his man is drifting far-post and will be picked up by Guendouzi.  This type of error should be resolved with more repetitions within the system or by clarifying roles.  
    • Ramsey needs the entire length of a match to put his stamp on it.  Coming on for 20 or so minutes, in the end, doesn’t seem to be a strength.  Maybe the plan was to salt away the draw.  I can see that as making sense.  If that was the plan I’d rather have seen Elneny come on to pair for Torreira with Guendouzi moving up the pitch.  This again would lead me to think there should be more of a presence centrally within the midfield.  38% of the possession is paltry.  Jorginho/Kante/Barkley won the day clearly.  There is so much talent in the midfield that Emery needs to sort this out in the next two to three fixtures to get a hold on possession to feed the attack.
    • Iwobi worked hard.  Helped create the first goal.  Converted the second goal.  Quieted the right-side of the Chelsea attack Azpilicueta/Kante/Pedro but in doing so didn’t put extended pressure on the opposition.  The guy is involved in two goals and yet I was left wanting more.  I think I’ve just never been sold on his touch or possession skills.  Having said all of this he put in a good shift and shouldn’t be overlooked unless the formation shifts to improve the midfield or to include Laca in the attack.  
    • Lacazette as the super-sub only made sense if Lacazette isn’t starting.  I’d rather see him making runs, rotating with Auba from the left-wing position for the entire match.  There was space to be had by cutting in from that left wing.  Laca brings pace and a willingness to get into the area.  He wasn’t given the time to really be a threat in my eyes.  The possession wasn’t there either.  I’d rather see him and Auba up-top together.  Sigh
    • Aubameyang missed a goal.  Let’s get over it.  Next time he’ll probably convert.  Auba needs more service.  All strikers need service.  Playing two 10s in the midfield and not getting Auba service possibly means two 10s doesn’t make for a great midfield.  Auba, Mkhi, Ozil, Laca, and Ramsey are all attacking pieces that Emery inheritable with the job.  I didn’t watch a ton of PSG the last few years but sorting out the attacking talent there wasn’t an overnight situation.  I know that from watching Cavani longingly from a afar.  
  • The goals all sucked to give up.  The first goal Mkhi and Bellerin aren’t talking and Mkhi gets caught out long.  Then the whole defense is scrambling.  The second goal showed some great individual effort by Morata but again Iwobi is closing on the ball before it was played long but instead of forcing it in he lets it go wide.  Then Sok wasn’t crashing back to support Mustafi.  Mustafi doesn’t stand Morata up and maybe that’s fine because maybe Morata really is as good as his transfer fee.  Cech probably needs to rush out.  Later in the match, he does this a few times.  Maybe he just was slow to see this one, maybe he was thinking about Bobby Convey or maybe he thought yeah the really good central defender in front of me isn’t going to give this ball up easily.  The third goal Laca is trying to find a release valve.  The midfielders are too far back, he shouldn’t have passed it back.  It was a bad back-pass.  Then Hazard takes it easily.  Pressure is half-hearted on the ball.  Clearly, Arsenal was worried about it being played into Giroud’s head and the quick ball into feet caught the defense in an unimaginative state.  
  • Two losses from two matches.  Emery isn’t getting fired but he needs to be questioned.  Were these the best formations to trot out against these opponents?  Is this the set-up that gets the most out of the team?  I’m not presently sold.  After the Man City match, I just felt it was sloppy.  I never felt like the team was compact or tight in this match either.  I didn’t know Emery’s previous teams well enough to know his real individual style.  At PSG he had all-time greats.  I didn’t really take much from those teams.  I want to see a new identity emerge.  Sloppy isn’t what I was looking for.  There is clearly talent in this roster.  My expectations from these two fixtures had been to not look bad and the high-side was a single point.  I’m not sounding the alarm.  I just want to see progress in the next match.  I want the guys to seem like they know what they are doing collectively.  I don’t want to question the set-up or the on-field communication.  All of the teams in the Premier League have at least one talented player on the roster.  While there isn’t one guy I can say is going to open Arsenal up regardless they’ll have to watch Javier Hernadez’s pace if he plays and the physical presence that Marko Arnautovic brings to the pitch.  Jack Wilshire making his return to the Emirates should be fun.  Man, won’t it annoy the fans if Jack and company control possession this weekend?  Let’s hope this is a case of the attack finding its wings because the midfield is able to help loft it up to where it belongs.  I really hope there is no conversation about the high-line and the quick passing game from the back after this match.  

Arsenal Fall to Man City but seriously people it was Man City

Manchester City dropped 14 points last season.  They lost two matches and drew four.  I knew they were amazing last year but I hadn’t really thought about that run.  Arsenal’s Invincibles season they had 12 draws aka dropped 24 points.  I’ve included a quick graphic of ManCity’s roster below.  The text below the image links back to their Wikipedia page.  

Manchester City First Team Squad 2018-2019

When you look over ManCity’s roster there are a few things that stick out immediately.  First for me is the talent.  They are stacked everywhere.  They have multiple starting-caliber players everywhere.  I’ll hear an argument for Fernandinho being older with no clear replacement.  The tale of finding a replacement 6 is long and storied.  The next thing that I see is the experience.  They have bags of caps.  Seven guys on the roster with over 100 appearances for the club.  They have multiple scary goal threats.  They only have a handful of guys who run out of contract at the end of the current season.  Three that I see.  One is a youth player so his deal will essentially just roll-over.  One is Kompany and I’m sure they’ll let him play on one-year deals till he wants to retire or they will allow him to sign a big money deal elsewhere at the end of the season.  The City Football Group owns several other clubs throughout the world so if they wanted to let Vincent go elsewhere they could or he could go to a deep-pocketed club for one last pay-check.  The other on the final year is Mangala and he hasn’t really lived up to the hype or the transfer fee.  I wouldn’t be totally surprised if he walks.  There is always hope he could find his game and renew.  No one can pay him more than City so there is that too.  The last thing that sticks out to me is the transfer fees.  These are just the reported fees on freaking Wikipedia.  Only nine people on this roster have come to the team for less than £10m, yeah you read that correctly £10m.  One of those was Komany who transferred to the team in 2008 when fees weren’t quite to the current level.  Four (Denayer, Diaz, Foden, and Grimshaw) are academy graduates.  One came on a free (Gomes) and is a youth player.  Two were acquired at the end of their respective youth contracts (Sandler and Zinchenko).  The ninth player acquired for less than £10m is Fabian Delph who came to City from Aston Villa.  Villa was in the midst of major financial turmoil and Delph wanted out.  That’s a talented, experienced, dangerous and spendy roster.  The depth on this club would start at most clubs in the Premier League.  

I played soccer when I was younger stopped in my middle school years and came back to it via a good friend in college.  When I was getting back into soccer in 2002 my teams where Arsenal, Manchester City (my non-big 4 club) and DC United.  (Side note if you haven’t seen Rooney’s play from last night get on it.)  I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for City for years.  I used to get tapes of Claudio Renya bossing for City sent to me from my now father-in-law then girl-friends Dad when I was in college.  Haven’t been a huge fan of the City Football Group coming in and spending boatloads of money but that’s soccer and we all need to accept it.  Me not getting too worked up by a loss to City is because I see their roster, their manager, the cycle they are currently in mid-crest of and the infrastructure the team has put in place behind the first-team.  They are good, scary good and it should be exciting to watch them run through the Premier League this year.  I hope they can hold their own in Europe too.  

Last year in the same fixture Arsenal lost 3-0 at home to City.  When the City machine was humming.  This year going into this fixture I wasn’t expecting much to be honest.  I wanted to see a draw.  I assumed Arsenal would still be feeling out their balance under a new manager and City would be starting to prime the pump on defending their title.  What I expected is essentially what happened.  

I haven’t done a right and proper preview for Arsenal yet this year.  I should just so I can get my thoughts out of my head and really focus on the roster.  There is legit talent on this roster.  There are holes, clearly and areas where reinforcements are needed.  I was glad to see a few key pieces picked up over the summer and I’m also glad to see that Emery hasn’t done a wholesale changeover.  This way Emery should be able to feel out of the squad completely and start making moves in the subsequent transfer windows.  When I saw the lineups I was surprised and excited to see new faces.  Left-back was going to be a worry with the current injury situation.  The reports out over the weekend that Welbeck has been training at left-back turned out to be a smoke-screen that I’m guessing Pep didn’t bite on anyway.  

Arsenal v Manchester City Lineups

The match wasn’t nearly and clean and crisp as one would hope for two teams vying for the top end of the table.  City makes sense to me because its a long season and they don’t want to grind down guys that played deeper into the World Cup.  Arsenal also made sense due to the number of new faces.  As I’m not really focused on City here is where I stop breaking down their game closely.  I’ll mention some things but mainly I’m focused on Arsenal herein.

The line-up deserves some ink.  The back-line will be a question all year long.  As Koz deals with injuries the center back pairings will have to be more creative.  Koz is coming tough injury with the achilies tear.  Sadly, his best football might be behind him.  Even when he returns to “full” health I’m hoping the team doesn’t play him twice a week and basically gives him ample time between matches to recover.  In the center of the back-line Mustafi becomes the most important player.  His health, form, and performance will be a tell-tale for the club this season.  Sokratis Papastathopoulos got his first cap in this match.  I didn’t hate what I saw for the most part.  There were a few timing issues early.  Set pieces seemed much cleaner than we’ve seen in years for the Arsenal defense.  Sok mistimed a tackle for his yellow but at least he did it outside of the box.  The other options at CB are Rob Holding (who I’m good with rotationally), Konstantinos Mavropanos (who I haven’t seen), Nacho (currently injured and better outside), Sead Kolasinac (currently injured and I’m not sure if he’s better outside or inside), Carl Jenkinson (who is hopefully still getting loaned for playing time) and Stephan Lichtsteiner (who is new to the club but is primarily known as an outside back).  I didn’t list Hector Bellerin as a potential inside man because right now in his career he’s an outside back or a flanker.  Bellerin’s pace is one of his key weapons, putting him anywhere in the lineup that doesn’t allow for him to blaze limits his potential.  Would I rather see him in central defense than say Ramsey or Welbeck, yeah sure.  At that point in time I’m hoping we’d just be going into the youth squad for bodies over playing midfielders out of position.  

Playing midfielders out of position is what we did do with Ainsley Maitland-Niles by sliding him over Welbeck into the left-back spot.  I had assumed Lichtsteiner would take the left-back spot with Nacho and Sead out injured.  That’s probably what will have to happen with Ainsley getting hurt during this match.  The reports seem to be that its minor and he should be back soon.  While I will agree that Ainsley has more to give in terms of top-end talent to reach at this point in their careers.  Lichtsteiner represents a defender who is known for having great fitness.  To me when you are lining up against a team with weapons across the pitch getting another solid defender out there makes some sense.  I also understand the vibe on getting Ainsley minutes regardless.  It didn’t work this time.  Ainsley made it 35 minutes.  In that time Kyle Walker gave him a few fits, including the play Ainsley got hurt on, and Ainsley didn’t really show much in the attacking half.  Mahrez most dangerous play came when he had cut inside but there was still space for Mahrez to attack because Ainsley wasn’t going to allow himself to be beat long.  

Sokratis got the nod in central defense.  I think the more interesting aspect was that it was a back-four and not a back three.  There are so many talented midfielders on this team that I had sort of assumed that we’d see a back three with Bellerin and Ainsley/Lichtsteiner at the wingbacks.  Who would lineup in the back three?  The two we had and then I’m not sure. Maybe Lichtsteiner would’ve been the sensible third in the back.  Bellerin seems much more comfortable in a back-four.  That doesn’t really make sense to me as I see him as a threat getting forward.  Maybe I see a wingback as having more flexibility than they actually do.  The initial lineup sans Ainsley made sense given the options. 

The midfield and forward pairing I understood too.  Aubameyang got the start.  If the 3-5-2 had happened then Auba and Lacazette together would’ve made some sense.  In the 4-5-1 variation Arsenal lined-up, Auba was solo up-top.  The real surprise was Guendouzi starting in the second holding role.  Guendouzi next to Xhaka shielding the defense showed a lot of faith in the young Frenchmen.  Did it really make sense to play Guendouzi against Man City on the first day of the season?  For as solid as he looked he was involved in the ManCity goals but if he wasn’t they would’ve been set-pieces or completely blown assignments.  If you watch the Silva goal you won’t see Guendouzi and that’s because he wasn’t sprinting back into his position.  Xhaka is there to shield on the right-side and Guendouzi is late to the scene.  Not saying the space Silva found to score from was clearly Guendouzi’s but if he had busted it back it might’ve been at least a more difficult goal.  On the first goal, Bellerin passes Sterling off to Guendouzi and its all happening on the edge of the box and for me that’s a guy not completely confident to get stuck-in in that position on the field.  This is the first match I’ve watched Guendouzi but before I had taken him more as a creative midfielder or as a box-to-box or number 8 not as an out and out 6 in the holding role.  That speaks to how difficult it is to really know a player until you’ve seen them.  For the initial lineup, I would have assumed Torreira would’ve been paired with Xhaka to give the spine to players with real defensive attributes.  Xhaka hasn’t really lived up to the hype of his arrival but he’s shown quality and the ability to expand his game.  As it was constituted I’m not sure who the water-carrier for this team is when Ramsey isn’t on the pitch.  Ozil linked up with the defense but he didn’t nor does he boss the midfield.  Ramsey is a competent 8 but making runs into the box is a strength of his when he’s on form.  Guendouzi as the 8 would slide Torreira into the second 6 role or just take the formation from a 4-2-3-1 to more of a 4-1-1-3-1.  I’m guessing that is more of the plan.  I’d still prefer to see Torreira on the pitch with either Xhaka or Guendouzi in that 8 role.  I don’t dislike Mkhitaryan but I am not sold on him to date.  Last year I felt like he came in as a guy that was being under-utilized at ManU in that part-swap for Lexi so Wenger had to play him to show why the trade made sense.  The money spent on him in transfer fees and wages to me would still feel better spent on Mahrez and possibly Mahrez was never willing to come.  Mkhi just feels like a good footballer that doesn’t have that world-beater quality just a lot of great qualities.  Ozil can outpass just about anyone on the planet.  If Mkhi’s best quality is passing isn’t that a bit of an overlap?  Wouldn’t pace on that flank change games more too?  Give more interplay with Auba?  Laca or Auba could start on that left flank and give a goal-scoring threat with pace.  Ainsley could also slide up that high in the formation.  Granted I need to give Mkhi a few more matches to see really what he is all about and I hope I’m eating crow in a month or two.  

The attack is where I felt Arsenal were going to hang their hat this year.  Auba, Laca, Ozil, Mkhi and Ramsey to name a few create option in the attacking third that not many teams have.  Granted City does but as I covered before City dropped 14 points last year, and they are a unicorn.  We can’t hold ourselves up to City today as an apples to apples we can aspire to beat them but the talent isn’t level today.  When the talent isn’t level the game plan needs to make up the difference.  I didn’t see the plan to put City to the sword.  I didn’t see the plan to stifle them either.  While I still like our attacking talent on the roster I want to see more creative means to apply the talent.  We need to stretch the capabilities to reach the top four.  Mere 10-goal seasons from Auba and Laca won’t cut it.  

Starting off the new era against ManCity and Chelsea sucks.  I don’t think we’ll see the real formation till after those fixtures.  After those two fixtures the Gunners get some air and a little bit of room to develop an identity.  I had hoped to see a plan from Emery to snuff out City.  Play on the counter, use speed to switch the field or just suck up as much of the possession as possible.  Instead I felt like the team came out at home to play their brand of football.  Honestly, there is something to be said about this strategy too.  When you are at home you play your game.  City is a juggernaut but when you are at home you play your game.  I think Emery was saying something here too.  There were chances.  Ramsey miss-hit a ball early that ended up just dribbling on frameAuba had a chance when it was 1-0 and put it five yards wide of the frame.  Then when it was 2-0 he had a similar look and found the same result.  Chances like these will get converted as the season progresses.  Not at 100% rate but they’ll become goals instead of frustrations.  The plan through the midfield and the attack will have to be defined.  Will this be the beautiful passing game Wenger initially brought or will it be more of a probing slower build that I saw from PSG most recently.  Emery gets time and space to develop his Arsenal brand.  Game one against City will not be where he is judged.  Game two against Chelsea won’t be either.  Chelsea are in the midst of a chaotic run.  A new manager who was hired late into the summer.  The first choice keeper sent out to Real only after a young unknown was brought in for insane sums.  I’m looking for more tactically from Emery into match-day two than I felt I received in match-day one.  Some of the tactics may have been shaped by the available players.  I like Ramsey more than Mkhi so I’m biased there but taking Ramsey off for Laca felt like the wrong play.  Maybe I didn’t see a knock or a few questionable plays from Ramsey.  I’m not watching the entire field so I’m not sure if players are in the positions they have been coached to be within.  I saw a lack of midfield presence until Torreira came on in the 70th.  Torreira’s presence from the 70th on had me feeling like he’s a starter if his fitness is where it needs to be.  

I didn’t see a plan B once the plan A wasn’t working.  The play off the bench in the attack seems to be to just add more of the same.  Iwobi and Welbeck are both fast less proven version of Laca and Auba respectively.  The past few years Arsenal have had Giroud and that’s a clear plan B option.  If you start Giroud putting on pace is a clear plan B.  You don’t have to roster a battering ram to have a plan be.  Just moving Ozil and Mkhi from the attacking wing position into a 10 role changes things too.  Putting the pace on the outside is a change too.  Once Emery saw that Ozil and Mkhi weren’t going to break-through I would’ve like to see a reshaping of the midfield.  They both worked more centrally by the numbers but then the team lost its width and became easier to funnel.  

Going forward let’s hope we have a little different focus in the midfield.  There are lots of potential attacking options but we need to find our 8 and we need to see if we have depth.  If we don’t have depth we need to realign the midfield.  If there isn’t faith in Ramsey and Xhaka the fall back is Elneny and youth.  Youth got run on Sunday but it didn’t positively change the game.  

The final thought goes to the keeper.  I didn’t see the horrible errors that Twitter was spotting in Cech’s day.  The odd clearance in front of the goal-mouth was questionable.  Doesn’t really make sense to give Leno his first start on the opening day against ManCity either.    When Arsenal signed Leno for £19.2m he was brought in to push Cech.  Cech is the vice-captain so with that he gets the nets to start.  Cech has been a great addition for Arsenal.  The last few years he has saved the club from a worse fall from grace.  Until our central defense is squared up and we have the holding midfield sorted I’m fine with Cech getting burn.  If Cech has some howlers then we have Leno to push him.  Leno will get plenty of time in the various cup competitions.  The last few years Ospina has seen plenty of caps when he wasn’t worthy of it anymore.  Let’s let Leno and Cech work it out together and find the better keeper in due time.  Making a switch in the first week just would’ve felt panicked.