Spurs, Bolton and the title race

Spurs, Bolton and the title race

Spurs 3-3 Arsenal

What a game this was.

It may prove to be the straw that broke the camel’s back with regards to our title challenge — although one could argue our camel has been lying, crushed in the desert for some time now — but if you can’t appreciate a game of football like that then football is not for you.

We're all praying now

Following our 3-2 to defeat to Spurs earlier in the season, I wrote this about the game:

“North London Derbies are consistently crazy games of football, where changes in energy and momentum happen quicker than the players can adjust, and yet again this proved the case.”

Once again, this proved to be true as we played out classic game of attacking football against our biggest rivals.

We stole the lead early with a superb Theo Walcott goal, they pulled it back almost immediately through an ever better one from Rafael van der Vaart. Then Samir Nasri scored the sort of long-range strike that many people believe we don’t score enough, before Robin van Persie’s smashed home a third before half-time. Tom Huddlestone bettered Nasri’s belter with a superb strike of his own, van Persie had another goal incorrectly chalked off for offside and Spurs grabbed a point when Szczesny brought down Lennon and van der Vaart converted from the spot.

The game was played at a manic speed from start to finish. As was the case at The Emirates earlier in the season we started stronger and Spurs finished stronger. Without making excuses it was evident that their seven-day rest since their last game was an advantage over our much shorter break and they deservedly grabbed a point here.

The Arsenal cynics will suggest that our failure to protect another two-goal lead was yet another example of our fragile mental state. Perhaps they are right. But with the game played at the pace it was, with the emphasis of attacking football on display it was not surprising. This was not a game about protecting leads, it was about scoring goals, and had van Persie’s second goal stood at 3-2 then it may well have been enough to see us grab the points we needed.

I left the end of this game feeling frustrated but proud of this team. They really did fight, every single one of them.

Cesc Fabregas gave a virtuoso performance from start to finish, the early assist for Walcott and the final shot on goal from distance in the 93rd minute summarising his will to win. How people can question this man’s leadership qualities or his faith in the club is beyond me.

Likewise our other big attacking players: Nasri, van Persie and Walcott, all stood up tonight. They tired in the end, as evidenced by the substitutions of both wingers and the Dutchman’s quiet final half-hour, but with a goal each to their name they did their bit to win the game.

Unfortunately our defence made a few errors over the course of the game, Sagna uncharacteristically caught out of position for the penalty, Szczesny getting his judgment wrong and Johan Djourou less impressive than usual. But under the circumstances, with both teams attacking in waves, this was completely understandable.

Implications for the title race

It’s surely over now, isn’t it? But is it?

Chelsea’s re-emergence in the titlerace, a result of their storming return to form and Manchester United’s drop in quality of late, could be the deciding factor. It means we are more likely to finish third now, but their presence could prove to unsettle the team on top. With all eyes now focused on Chelsea as United’s biggest threat at the top, is this the sort of environment our team, one that is struggling to clear the final hurdle, could flourish in?

Bolton

The Bolton game, just like every one of our final five fixtures, is must-win.

In terms of personnel I can see Andrey Arshavin and Jack Wilshere returning to the side. Abou Diaby is out with a calf problem while our back five should remain unchanged. Fabregas said that he hasn’t felt as good on the pitch as he did at Spurs since his injury at Stoke in late February, which is an excellent sign.

Given our exceptional record away from home and our consistency at the back, I expect us to get three points tomorrow.

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69 Responses to “Spurs, Bolton and the title race”

  1. Shard
    April 23, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

    I disagree about a few things Andrew. As you say, it really was a good game of football. I can also understand what you mean when you say the players gave their all. You could see they left everything out on the pitch. But it wasn’t enough.

    We went up early, and were hit by a wonderful equaliser. No problem with that. It happens. But once we were 3-1 up, we really should have seen it out till halftime. Just effort is not enough, the application, and concentration was missing. In the end, we were lucky to not lose the game. Tired though we visibly were, I don’t think we should have let Spurs gain such a foothold on the game. We were ahead, and should have looked to dictate the pace of the game.

  2. Andrew Weber
    April 23, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

    @ Shard – Hey mate, good to hear from you. I think you’re right to a certain extent. I tend to think North London Derbies have become a unique sort of game — could any team really have controlled this? Perhaps. But we like to go out there to score, using attack as the best form of defence. Had van Persie’s goal been allowed then perhaps we wouldn’t need to have this conversation. In saying that, Spurs could have won the game too.

  3. Emmanuel
    April 23, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    We will loose the game badly. Know why? Bolton have everything to play for including the pride of beating Arsenal. We have nothing to play for because even if we win, Chelsea and Man U will have already won their games anyway. It has come to a point where Man U and Chelsea win games before they are played (psychologically) whereas Arsenal’s games are open threads even when we are leading 3/0 with 15 minutes to go. As I said before our game against Tottenham, just buy yourself a drink, enjoy the game but don’t expect anything. Expecting a win could give you a big heart ache!

  4. Terry
    April 23, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    The North London derby has been the best advert for the EPl the last few seasons. Craps on the Manchester and Scouse derbies for drama and excitement.

    Our two games against the Spuds are kind of microcosms of the whole season. First half in both games were about as good as we have played all season, but in both games we faded badly in the second half.
    Fingers crossed bolton will still be getting over the fa cup semi and we can get three points to keep the season alive for a bit longer.

  5. Shard
    April 23, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

    @Andrew

    Perhaps it is just the nature of the derby as you say. But considering that we allowed Spurs to beat us at home this season, I think we should have been even more focused than usual to return the favour. That’s discounting the implications it had for the title race.. I was disappointed. Not so much at the result, which only brought about relief because at the end we were lucky not to lose, but at the manner that we let a few moments ruin all the effort that had been put in. But I guess that’s just how our season has gone.

    I do think we’ll win against Bolton though. If we win all our games. Chelsea win all their games, and ManU win the other 3, then we’ll have a situation where all top 3 are level on points!! The margins are very small, even for ManU. We’re probably not going to win the title, but stranger things have happened. As I said to Terry yesterday, it would be reminiscent of 1989 if we did pull it off. Anyway, here’s to a good performance, and 3 points for us tomorrow. That’s all I want for the moment.

  6. Antek
    April 23, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    I support my team to escape reality. Winning is obviously best, drawing or losing but with a good performance are just OK. And that’s all, the rest is shite. I want to see my team win because it makes me feel a winner in an otherwise mediocre life. So why shouldn’t I get angry when we have a stubborn streak spoiling my fantasy. There is one member of ‘The Invincibles’ left and it’s gone to his head. He’s a rudderless ship, with hot air in its sails upon a sea of 3’s and 4’s, with trophy’s as lighthouses and Blackburns, West Broms, bad substitutions, no contingency plans and complacency as rocks. The mismatch of oarsmen whilst adrift this last half decade in the horse latitudes causing the boat to follow a circular path. He’s dragging us along for the ride while we all, sofa managers, with bright ideas and fantastic the solutions air our opinions online. Please Mr Kronke (?), fix our rudder, our skipper has lost his way.

  7. mutiu jimoh
    April 23, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    Arsenal we beat Bolton well tommorow. The title race is still wide open ONLY IF Arsenal win thier remaining games bcos I’m quite sure Man u and Chelsea will drop points along the line. lets wait and see

  8. unchained
    April 23, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    title race is over. concentrate on building for next year

  9. Shard
    April 23, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

    And suprise suprise, ManU get away with a penalty again.. To me, despite our weaknesses, it is actually the referees which have been the real difference maker this season. Which is just sad..

  10. Asurah
    April 23, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

    As much as I enjoyed watching the game, it was not enough. There should have been no excuse for taking any of the three goals. All of them were 100% defence fault. And this was supposed to be our strongest defence line up!
    Yes, the Spuds are a very good side. But we have a better midfield. How come they manage to gain midfield control and attack the way they did? Why on each of their goals, there was a big hole in defence?
    Theo made a good effort helping the defence dealing with Bale, and truly the Welsh was almost insignificant to their attack until he got off at half-time. But then with Lennon, which is actually a faster player than Bale… He almost never went down to guard him. Which eventually led to Sagna being outrun by him, which led to the penalty, which led to loosing 2 very important points.

    And those subs. Nasri and Walcott didn´t look tired at all. Why taking them off? And for that fucking useless-on-the-wing Bendtner… At 3-3 with probably the last chance to remain in the title race, make a brave attacking sub! Put Bendtner with RVP, have it a very attacking 4-4-2, or even a 3-4-3. There are ten minutes or less to make a difference, why not take it?

    I really hope we will get it against Bolton tomorrow. Not for the title race, but for the second place. It would be a shame that Chelski beat us to it, because we are a better team.

  11. Ian Botannic Gooner
    April 23, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

    When all is said and done we’re just not good enough! We play breathtaking football at times but when the killer instinct is required to close out a game or finish off an opponent we are very inconsistent. My personal opinion is that Arsene’s pride is the biggest problem. Yes I think we would be challenging if not for the injuries to Cesc and esp Vermalen, and some really poor home results but the manager has to take some responsibility. There are weaknesses and they have been pointed out by both yourself Andy and other contributers to this blog, but the manager seems to be ignoring all criticism and sticking to his “floundering lets be like Barca plan A” . He needs another world class centrback to partner Vermalen and a brilliant striker to partner VP. At present Cesc and possibly Jack Wilshere are the only outstanding players we have, with some solid performances from Djouru, VP and Sagna. We can’t win the league this year but surely settling for “second” or even “top four” as Arsene does shows a complete lack of ambition by the club, also what message does that send out to both players and supporters? This next season should be Arsene’s last as I just don’t think he has what it takes to guide Arsenal back to winning ways anymore.

  12. ^_^GUNNER^_^
    April 23, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

    I would take this north london derby over the boring, sorry, “afraid to attack” Manchester derby….. anyday !!

    Arsenal for life 🙂

  13. Angie
    April 23, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

    Like I said before, let’s support hem until the end, then we can start really criticize. they really need us. I think this team can do it, they showed it before they lost the final due to some injuries to Robin , Cesc, and Theo. I feel that without Cesc as captain, the team feels very unsecured. Seeing him back and fighting until the end is really lifting. We saw them play a great game…but I deeply think this is more a mental issue. Really they need mental coaching. I don’t know if any of u was playing sports for they school, I did when I was younger and the pressure sometimes takes a toll on u. people say things to put you down, u gotta train ur head to be a true terminator. Our boys are very affected, they need our support! come on! They just need to believe in the themselves. That Barca 1st leg did happened, we won, and we beat Chelsea and M.C. I wanna see that team comeback.

  14. omixy
    April 23, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    A closer look at the number of points arsenal lost in the final 15 min of this campaign and number of points man u has gain in the final 15 min of their matches is an indication of our fragility as against maturity. There is a problem and until every body responsible for this team, the couching crew, the players, management, realize this and look for solution, this ‘good and highly talented’ arsenal team will never win any trophy for years to come.

  15. Shard
    April 23, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    @omixy

    ManU have lost more points than us from winning positions. It isn’t as simplistic as saying oh we lost points in last 15 mins and they didn’t so they are better, or more mature. In my view they are not better. They do somethings better, but they have had a helping hand from the referees all along. I’m not making that up. I’m not hiding from our faults. If you see my comment about the Spurs match above I’m actually more harsh on our players than Andrew is. But I really do believe it is the referees that are the cause of ManU being where they are, and we have been on the wrong end of refereeing decisions too often. I’m not sure, but I’d say it’s close to a 20 point swing. If that seems too much, don’t blame me. Blame the referees.

  16. omixy
    April 23, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

    @shard
    U are right mate, u and I know we are not in the good book of the ref, that is not news. I agreed with u on all other points raised, but u will also agree with me it is criminal irrespective of the ref decision to loose two points when u are 4 goals up till about 65th min or thereabout, and it is crazy to loose two points when u score your first goal in the 97th min of a football match and more criminal to play 3 3 against spur when u are 3 1 up.

    I love this team and I want to see them succeed. But there is more to football than being good and talented.

  17. Shard
    April 23, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

    @omixy

    I agree mate. I want those faults redressed. I just don’t hold those faults as solely responsible for us not winning the title, if that is the case at the end.. As I said, I am not seeking to protect our players and hide their faults when I say this, but to me it is very very disheartening that it is actually referees that are deciding where the title goes. It happened in 2008, and it happened to ManU’s benefit once more against Chelsea in 2009. For me it’s not just luck. It is at the least some bias, and it’s ruining the sport for me..

    You forgot Spurs at home (3-2). For me that was the most unforgivable even though it wasn’t a last second capitulation. 45 mins of bad football is worse than a momentary lapse of judgment in my view. But I would have to disagree about the Newcastle match, and emphatically so. That result was entirely down to the referee. That match should form part of a case study on what is wrong with football, and refereeing in particular.

  18. GunnerBoss
    April 23, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

    We can blame all we like.
    I just do not understand why Andy never knew our free Striker was a BIG BIG FLUKE.
    Its either he completely believes in having favourites or he just wanted to defend the managers CRUEL free MISTAKE.
    In other words, if we had a better STRIKER, we would not be LAMENTING about anyone partnering VP up front.
    Its not that we never had the chance to buy, we just got a free NOT UP TO ARSENAL STANDARD player.
    Where’s AMAN? Where’s BYO? Defenders of rubbish buys.

    This is where everything lies guys. TORRES, CHICARITO, SUAREZ, Chamakh …….
    Saw it even when we all claimed he was scoring (tap-ins)?
    Made my point…Boss out
    End of rant

    @Shard – U trip me with ur arguments. I particularly am amazed by how you do not loose ur head when arguing. Cos u comment very frequently indeed. Are you a psychologist? I’ve learn’t a lot from you even though i do not always agree with what u write. Its as if everyone is ur kid. We all know what is good for the club, but sometimes our perspective is not taken in context cos after-all, we are typing. Most of the time, we type ANGRILY. We just want to get the shit out as soon as possible.
    @Shambo – Good to see ur still keeping up. I dont miss a freaking comment here. Never went anywhere, just pissed off by Andy(He takes SIDES with whoever goes with his point of view).
    @all – I would want to add that we NEVER have a PLAN B for any game, this alongside lack of proper PLAN A tactics is what is killing us.
    Mourinho played a 3-3-4 and lost his 1st home game in ages because it was getting late and he lost patience. They needed to win and catch up. If he wasn’t pro-active, the fans would’ve blamed him, but they respected his pro-activity even though they lost.
    If he had started training with ten men before that game, i’m sure they would not have lost when they started pouring forward.
    I dont care how many games we loose or draw, my problem is: WHAT MANNER OF DRAW OR LOSS IS IT?
    How many times does this happen to us? I;m sure the REFEREE tells EBOUE to clatter into lucas or leiva to clatter into Emmanuel so he can give a penalty against us at ‘how many minutes’? Which one is correct pls? I’m tired.

  19. Ianinja
    April 24, 2011 at 6:07 am #

    @Gunnerboss

    No one can know whether Chamakh would be a revelation for us. Now you are alleging something that is beyond the manager’s control let alone the supporters. I remembered Andrew write that he views Chamakh as a backup striker hence the reason Wenger bought him on a free. Did he say Chamakh is the messiah that would magically turn Arsenal’s season around?

    It’s perfectly fine to blame the manager everytime but at least bring some perspective or proposed solution to the discussion table. Finger pointing is not helpful, in a way we’re all becoming like Arsene, the way we react post game is simmilar to the way Wenger throws tantarums at other managers or officials.

    We’re all drained I can see that but that’s the sacrifice of supporting Arsenal, when I supported George’s Arsenal it wasn’t this taxing. Anyway let’s make this place a sane conversation point, if the companions of ‘untold’ arsenal: Byo, Aman wants to force their views I say let them say their piece, dose not mean we have to agree but we can refute in an objective way.

  20. Mike
    April 24, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    Arsene Wenger is still saying he would continue focussing on youth development and I can see he is getting no message from trophyless seasons.

    I think he should do like winners Barcelona, Man U mixing young talent with experienced ones rather than too much relying on vulnerable young squad.

    Arsenal is even in danger of third place if they lose at Bolton because Man City would have 2 games in hand to catch up with them.

  21. Shard
    April 24, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    Two and a half hours till game time.. My TV better not conk out today. The service has been bad the past few days and I’m worried.. Good news is that I’m not worried about the match. I think we will win this. 2-0.. Clean sheet is probably too ambitious but hey.. just a stupid prediction.. COYG!!

    @GunnerBoss

    Perhaps my head just isn’t screwed on right.. Now stop pulling my leg, or I just might lose it.. My head I mean.. Not the leg.

  22. GunnerBoss
    April 24, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    This is where learning from Shard comes in……
    If it were before, I would say you do not read?
    Guess, i’ve said it already…..

    My point was that the blaming and all that would have been minimized if we bought someone. I wrote names of other strikers that are far better in quality than ours. There are loads of them out there. What perspective did you want me to bring? Why are you suggesting i’m not objective? Why should we be buying back-up strikers? We buy and if he is good enough, he plays and benches someone. Let them compete for places for goodness sakes. Is Suarez a back-up? This makes Kuyt put in a 120% cos no place up front is guaranteed. B52 is preferred to this guy for goodness sakes.
    If you are expecting me to tell you who i’m expecting us to buy, then you must really be kidding?
    We sold Eduardo and reduced our quality up-front with the free buy. I’m not even talking about the back cos I feel the front can ease the pressure on the back by scoring.
    I’ve made my point.
    THIS IS THE MAIN POINT. No QUALITY buys…..

  23. Anj
    April 24, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

    You better win Arsenal or else your going down and I don’t want my team to go down.

  24. Ian Botannic Gooner
    April 24, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

    @GunnerBoss: you have summed up my pain, no quality buys! Enough said!

  25. leftcoastgooner
    April 24, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

    YIKES!!!!

  26. rami
    April 24, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    i think thst arsene wenger is the problem of arsenal. The team is freakin amazing, its just that arsene is not making good decisions on who is supposed to play or not. And he keeps on the players who r not doin anything on the pitch. I say if they change the manager, arsenal will be able to progress to success!

  27. leftcoastgooner
    April 24, 2011 at 6:52 pm #

    Double yikes!!!
    I’m afraid it’s scotch and darvon time…again.
    Next year for sure though.

  28. billi
    April 24, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

    there’s a bane on them ….. 🙁

  29. Nicholas
    April 24, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

    Will be quick and short about our loss to Bolton: it’s the end of the season for us. And sure as hell is the end of the season for me. Still a fan, still a Wenger supporter, but I will not watch any other match untill summer at least. Let them win, let them lose, I don’t care. From now on, all I want to see are changes.

  30. Shard
    April 24, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    Oh FFS.. Im with Nicholas on this one.. I’m sure he’ll be watching the next match just as I will. But the team had better put in some good performances now or we might end up finishing 4th.. Now that would be a disaster.

    As for changes. One thing that has to, absolutely has to change is our training on set pieces. Because it sure is not working, on BOTH ends of the field. Get in Keown, Arsene. It worked in 2006.

  31. Young Gooner
    April 24, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

    Hopefully Wenger will not say “it is still good as we finish 3rd”….i’m very disappointed as we prove nothing

  32. Hanrik
    April 24, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

    We lost again, after these draw. We are not direct enough in fron of goals. always look for the perfect hole to put the ball into the goal. Disappointed, every year lost the 3 cups in March /April. what’s the use of playing Champion League but without winning own domestic league. Time’s up for Arsene, you are such a stubborn man, never scream at your players but blame other teams or even the pitch. We , big arsenal fans, are tired up this man. Which team should I support next season? Hmm???

  33. Naija Bloke
    April 24, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

    Now this is what l call a complete mess! We all go on and on about how this team is gonna achieve without facing up to the realities. The same mistakes have been made in the last 6years and yet fans come out here and make obsene excuses for the team. l hope we all feel good about our team’s ” achievements” this season. We even are at the risk of not finishing in the top three. I am just lost for words and no one should come on here and say any rubbish about next season being a prospective better one IF drastic measures are not taken to address the issues that have plagued the team all these past six years . End of rant!

  34. henry
    April 24, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

    Look how many balls Cahill won in the air, 1 of a few reasons why he’s on the fans shopping list. I think after years of denial, Prof needs to spend or leave.

    twitter: @henrythebright

  35. Hanrik
    April 24, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

    Get another manager and go out and buy some experienced players, not necessary be big players, then the Gunners will win one or 2 trophies next season. This is the fact, do it Arsenal Board.

  36. Ian Botannic Gooner
    April 24, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    Taxi for Wenger!

  37. maltagooner
    April 24, 2011 at 8:58 pm #

    I’ve implied it before, but now I shout it – OFF WITH THEIR HEADS, STARTING WITH WENGER.

  38. Antek
    April 24, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

    I’m with Ian Botannic Gooner except replace taxi with guillotine because we need a revolution to revive our pride as one nation of Gooners, not Wengerites. Viva la Arsenal. How many sympathisers remain?

  39. Ian Botannic Gooner
    April 24, 2011 at 11:13 pm #

    @Antek as a club we seem to have lost the Highbury spirit, grit and determination, the reasons I love Arsenal. I blame Arsene’s pride and refusal to accept his plan isn’t working.

  40. Shard
    April 24, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    Something needs to change. We have no idea what it is. Let’s change the manager. that should work right.. Ya. right.. The rest will just take care of itself. It’s Wenger. He’s the problem. Wenger out. Call a taxi.. No that isn’t enough. Off with his head, guillotine. We want a revolution. Yes that sounds like fun. A bloody revolution where heads will roll to satisfy the blood lust that hasn’t been kept quiet with the solace that silver brings. VIVA La REVOLUCION..revolutions always bring about positive change.. Right?

    I understand the need to vent. I even understand the calls for Wenger to go, even though i think they are misplaced, but this is madness. How can anyone derive pleasure from saying such things about our manager. Our most successful manager. The least that you can do is show some restraint rather than resorting to such stupid, incoherent abuse. I’m sure I’ll be called an AKB (again) or a Wengerite (that’s a new one) but in all honesty, it is views like this that obsess about Wenger. The real problems are brushed under the carpet, real discussion is forgotten, no solutions or explanations are thought of, it is just turned into a vitriolic flood of pro or anti Wenger nonsense, in which logic isn’t even sought. It is just assumed to exist. But first what needs thinking about is why exactly you are so angry. My guess is it’s less to do with the club, and more to do with the personal glory that you feel you have been denied.

    GunnerBoss.. You wanted me to lose my head. Well, there you go.

  41. Angie
    April 25, 2011 at 1:09 am #

    we need some changes NOW! make it happen! that s all I want to see. We are all tired of excuses! better be some changes or we fans should show to the board what we feel!

  42. Ianinja
    April 25, 2011 at 2:01 am #

    It’s gonna be a bay at work today. I’m so going to hide my boss’s stationery and take out his hdd. Pffttt…..

  43. Theo Aidoo
    April 25, 2011 at 7:44 am #

    What is happening at my beloved Arsenal? The whole team is rubbish, no leader on the pitch, no fighting spirit and no clue how to win games. Mr Wenger has lost the plot and I believe the time has come for him to leave and for the team to change direction. Most of our players will not get into a Utd,Chelsea,City or even a Spurs team, yet Mr Wenger keep telling us how good they are. We are becoming a laughing stock of the league, only Arsenal will draw from a 4-0 lead at Newcastle, a 3-1 at Tottenham and that awful collapse against Liverpool. Please convince me that we can mount a stronger challenge next season.

  44. GunnerBoss
    April 25, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    U didn’t loose it, u are still objective

  45. dennis10
    April 25, 2011 at 10:54 am #

    Wenger Out: I want the apoplectic, bottle-throwing, linesman-haranguing, head-in-hand despairing Wenger out.
    Wenger In: I want the supremely confident, preening, purring manager who got the best out of everybody to win a double and go a whole season unbeaten, who riled up competition by playing out-of-the-planet football, just a few seasons ago. The Wenger who brought in unknowns and made them legends. I want him in.
    I feel the past few years have been seasons of misplaced faith. It hurts to see a great man like Wenger being reduced to someone with flailing arms and pointing fingers. To see the biased media go after him. To have the fans turn against him. True, he has been a bit screwy with subs and tactics. But the players have to deliver too. I feel they haven’t been doing that for quite some time (the recent example being the Blackburn draw, a near full strength team delivering a listless performance when everyone and their aunt knew they had to win).
    So a minor tweak to Wenger so he can open his eyes to the mistakes and address those glaring issues, and a few tweaks to the team, so he can, if he does, go out in style. Almost daring the next manager to do what he has done. That will be fantastic.

  46. Shard
    April 25, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    @Gunnerboss

    I guess you are correct.. Except when I said I lost it.. So maybe that’s something. LOL… But in all honesty, it really drives me wild how people think there are just simple, one size fits all solutions for all our problems. It’s no coincidence that those quick fixes are the same that the media keeps harping about. Just because they repeat themselves a thousand times doesn’t make it fact. On the contrary, they actually ignore facts in order to make a good story. And there’s no better story for them than the whiny lunatic of a Frenchman having no idea what it takes to run a football club. He may have won in the past, but see.. We play football the best way, and follow the best model of buy buy buy. No matter the clubs debt. No club ever goes broke. So what if it happened to Leeds, or Portsmouth, and nearly to Liverpool. Those are not important. Who is he to tell us how to play football, or how to run a club. Wenger out. (No that’s not us, that’s the fans saying it. We only report facts)

  47. Raffael Fernandes
    April 25, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

    The Curious Case of Arsene Wenger

    “Every man of genius sees the world at a different angle from his fellows, and there is his tragedy”

    Havelock Ellis, British psychologist and author 1859-1939

    Arsène Charles Ernest Wenger first arrived at Arsenal Football Club in October 1996 as a relative unknown in British football circles. Despite short, but ultimately successful managerial spells with Monaco and J-league team, Grampus Eight, his appointment was considered somewhat left-field by the more traditional (AKA typically uncultured) English football pundits and ex-players, many of whom still had reservations about “foreign coaches” in the British game.

    Wenger’s first game in charge was a 2-0 away win against Blackburn Rovers – the rest, as they say, is history….. he went on to win Arsenal the league and FA cup double in his second full season in charge, repeating the feat again in 2002 and famously led his team of “invincibles” on a 49 game unbeaten streak to win the league once again in 2004 going an entire season without losing.

    What made all of this all the more remarkable was the fact that his entire team cost a lot less to assemble than those of his main rivals, Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool. Wenger relied on his shrewd ability to spot youth talent out of nowhere and develop youngsters into world beaters. On top of that Arsenal played a brand of attacking football which regularly left journalists speechless in trying to come up with new superlatives to describe the flair and majesty of what they had witnessed on the pitch.

    Wenger was hailed a modern-day footballing genius – one of the greatest coaches ever. Arsenal chairman David Dein even went on record to declare Wenger had a “job for life”. The future was good – Arsene and Arsenal were a marriage made in heaven.

    Wind the clock forward to April 2011, and the situation is now somewhat different……..

    Arsenal are about to go yet another season without having won a single piece of silverware – the 7th such season in a row. A few weeks ago Arsenal were on level points with Man Utd in the league, were still in the Champions league and were on course to beat Birmingham City in the Carling Cup final – a consolation trophy these days, but a trophy nonetheless. Now it looks certain to be another disappointing, empty-handed campaign.

    What makes this even more concerning is the manner in which they seem to crumble as soon as the going gets tough. The seasonal Arsenal collapse is about as predictable and expected as the first daffodils of spring, or the fall of leaves in Autumn. Arsenal choke at the death, they always do. They were leading 4-0 against Newcastle at half time earlier this season and ended up lucky to end the game 4-4. They went 1-0 up against Liverpool in the 8th minute of injury time, yet inexplicably still managed to only get a point from the game. The North London derby against Spurs looked over at 3-1, but again the points were split. Even the way they handed Birmingham victory in the Carling Cup was bizarre… And much of this seems to come down to the fragile mental state that Monsieur Wenger seems to have rather unwittingly transmitted to his players.

    A recent Arsenal fans poll confirmed that over 65% of supporters have lost faith in Wenger’s footballing philosophies being able to deliver trophies consistently in the future – a shocking turnaround for fans who would have considered it blasphemous a few years ago to even suggest an end for the man who is now Arsenal’s longest serving and most successful manager.

    So where did it all go wrong?

    Wenger is a man who it seems is blinded by his own genius. He is so deeply entrenched in his purist footballing philosophies that any deviation from these would be like an unfathomable mental collapse – something to be avoided at all costs. Basically he believes that what he is doing will achieve success and won’t change from that blueprint, even if it seems it hasn’t yielded the end-results for the best part of a decade. In short I believe there are 3 elements that contribute to this downfall:

    1.Transfer policy

    2.Playing style

    3.Attitude and character

    Transfer Policy

    His frugal approach to transfers is something that can be commended (and the financial impact of the transition to the Emirates stadium has been a key factor)- but surely the point of saving money in the transfer market through astute scouting is so that you can save up money for 1 or 2 high-impact signings who can make all the difference? Wenger has failed to address the need for a top goalkeeper since David Seaman left, something which could have made all the difference between landing trophies – and the spine of the Arsenal team is weaker than any of the top 4. It’s hard to understand why he won’t spend money of top players to strengthen when he clearly has it available – perhaps he feels he may upset the balance of his squad by signing “marquee” players or perhaps it’s because whenever he has spent big in the past, he’s generally got it wrong. Give him too much money and it seems to affect his player judgement ability

    What this means is that Arsenal are a team who are in a state of permanent transition – always building a team for the future, but never for the present. In theory it’s a wise strategy as long as it ultimately bears fruit, and how some of the greatest teams in the world were built – but for Wenger it seems that day will never come. I distinctly remember him saying almost 10 years ago that the team were in transition, and they seem to be every passing year without ever actually being the finished article.

    Playing Style

    There is absolutely no doubt that Arsenal are one of the most beautiful teams to watch. Their passing and movement is slick, fast and fluid and therefore they rely on pacy and technically-gifted players for this system. To suggest that they haven’t achieved “success” with this style of play is wrong, because every year they are there or thereabouts, but what I am talking about is the difference between getting results to win trophies, and just playing nice football because, well, it looks nice. You’ll often see Arsenal dominating possession stats at the end of the game, but if they don’t pick up the full 3 points, then that stat becomes useless. In the recent game against Liverpool, they had almost 65% possession but ended up with a similar number of shots on target, corners and ultimately goals. So in reality, were they just much less efficient with their possession than Liverpool were with theirs?

    It’s an old cliche that Arsenal have a tendency to want to pass the ball into the net…. great on the eye, but is Wenger’s purist philosophy getting in the way of picking up points?

    Attitude and character

    In a recent interview Arsene Wenger stated that he would rather “come second in the league every year than win the FA cup” – a shocking insight from a man paid millions every term to deliver trophies for his club. Being a highly intelligent and considered guy, obviously we can understand that what he was referring to was the financial long-term stability that comes from competing in the Premiership at a high and consistent level, but nonetheless this was a very controversial and ill-judged statement to make publicly.

    Can you imagine Alex Ferguson or Jose Mourinho coming out publicly and declaring “we are happy to be second” – it just wouldn’t happen.

    Wenger has done a fantastic job getting Arsenal to compete on a relative shoestring budget, and with the new stadium, Arsenal’s long-term financial future is secure – but it seems Wenger is cut from a different cloth to men like Mourinho. Wenger is a philosopher, he’s an economist – but ultimately is he a winner?

    A dangerous situation has arisen now, as it seems that Wenger’s slightly blase attitude to winning trophies is not shared by the fans. They want silverware, any silverware – it’s been too long without.

    In addition to attitude, there is also the issue of character. Arsenal team’s have an alarming tendency to self-destruct. Wenger has come out on countless occasions this season to confirm “the mentality of the players is fine” – clearly it is not when nervous errors keep squandering leads, and he obviously feels the need to keep reaffirming this publicly. But why is this happening so often? A lot of this comes down, I believe, to his own state of mind. I wonder whether the players can sense a nervousness in him and then that spreads onto the pitch? Often his body language on the touchline (even when Arsenal are winning comfortably) is very tetchy and anxious. If the players look over to him during the game, I wonder if this is having an effect?

    Chelsea and Man Utd are at the other end of the scale with regards to having much older and more experienced squads – perhaps Arsenal are mentally not as strong because the players are younger and less experienced too.

    But perhaps the most damning character flaw comes back down to Wenger’s blinded genius itself…… namely the refusal to be wrong. There is a blame culture that exists at Arsenal that is damaging the team’s development. Any loss is never their fault – always the fault of the referee, the linesman or some other bit of bad luck. Whether this is a public facade for the media or whether it is also the common belief internally in the squad I am not sure. But if it is the latter, then this can be very damaging as it essentially means they believe they are powerless to right those wrongs, and just end up blaming external factors rather than taking a long, hard look in the mirror.

    So where do Arsenal go from here?

    Is it right to start thinking about life after Arsene Wenger?

    Or can he address these issues to justify his genius once again?

  48. leftcoastgooner
    April 25, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    Happy ANZAC day to you downunders!
    I’m still absorbing the shock. At least Mr.Toad’s Wild Ride is over for this year. Now for free-fall? This may be a long painful homestretch. I hope not but I can see it coming.
    One advantage of living in this part of the states is that one has to seek out footie news so at times like this it’s easier to avoid the constant replays but even that is getting harder.
    We really were not ready…again.As winning becomes a habit so does losing. I’m afraid it’s becoming a habit with us. It’s hard not to start thinking about the summer when the thought of the next match brings on the fear. Alright, time for my cookie and tea or biscuit as you have it. More scotch?

  49. realistic_gooner
    April 25, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

    @Raffael Fernandes

    You hit the nail right on the head. Best post I’ve seen all day.

  50. GunnerBoss
    April 25, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

    @Shard – Have you noticed the whole team is playing nonsense or are they?.
    Djourou and Sagna were messed up. Who can blame Eboue now?
    It started with Arshavin….everyone noticed it cos of his high standards.
    Walcott, Clichy and Kos seem to bounce in and out of it.
    Nasri, VP and Song almost lost it.
    We already noticed Fabregas playing like he is not up for it. Pls let no one blame him.
    Wilshere(the Tiger) is TIRED cos of running around and covering grass for other sick people.

    When i make my comparisons. I do so out of experience.
    I dare say the same Madrid defense that conceeded 5 against Barca, could only concede ONCE in their next two meetings…they even got a cup to show. Why was that?
    1st of all, I was a crazy Barca fan, i loved them cos of Ronaldo and when they had the Dutch national team(sort of). I love Dutch players a lot. When Ronaldo moved to inter, I supported Inter in Italy(till now). But, I hate Barca now(whether they have Affelay or not) cos of their punts with us over FABs. I love our CAPTAIN so much.
    Now back to my point. Madrid already had a defense or so they thought. New manager(I’m not saying we need a new manager) came in and brought/bought CARVALHO. They started wobilly, but fans/management gave them two years. Now, he seems to notice that playing four defenders might not work against Barca, he employs a fifth defender to be in the midfield when going forward and to be in defense when defending (I have been doing this since with my Arsenal team in Pro Evolution soccer 10 and now 11). Even though they are not winning the league, their pattern of play makes them very threathening, more especially on the counter (they have very speedy players upfront). This makes everyone happy, and it gives the players confidence while defending knowing all they need to do is boot the ball up front for a COUNTER and possibly a GOAL.

    In our case, we take too long to counter, we swarm the opposition penalty box with no end product and get countered cos the personnel to track the oppositions danger man is inexistent. We do not RE-MODEL the team to suit the opposition, this is very very dangerous. In other words, our players start becoming jittery when things do not go their way and TIME is running out. They know they are limited to what they can do on the pitch cos INSTRUCTIONS have already been given. When what they are TOLD to do is not working, they can all SENSE it. This is just normal and they become anxious, real time anxiety under pressure means they start making mistakes. We just get punished for them. Martins goal, RVPs sending off against Barca (he wasn’t even fit, he couldn’t RUN), Diaby’s sending off against Newcastle, failing to take off people they are exhausted/off form, Fabregas raising Chamakhs hand for the penalty(was he mad?)……

    What I am really trying to say? Our DEFENSE has started getting jittery cos people blame them for the goals, BUT what is our FRONTLINE doing? Its easy to say this guy or this guy is calamitious etc, because their mistakes most often than not results in goals against us while that of the front man is just termed a miss/beautiful miss.
    I just hope this doesn’t continue else a lot of players will loose confidence in the manager.
    Therefore, why cant we attack like Barca(if we dont want to sit back and draw them out) and defend like Madrid(with deadly counter attacks)?
    Why cant we utilize properly our team on the pitch?
    Why must someone try to do what some other person normally does(we are very guilty of this -B52 in for Walcott on the wings etc).

    Pls no one should take me out of context. Just read what you see and think again cos i know i’m atleast 90 percent correct.

  51. leftcoastgooner
    April 25, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

    @gunnerboss
    Wilshire was shite and has been so for weeks. He can’t defend or take an open chance.
    He gets stuck-up for because he’s British and not because his play was of any better quality than the rest of our team. It wasn’t. His play was a contributing factor to our loss yesterday. Fact.

  52. GunnerBoss
    April 25, 2011 at 6:16 pm #

    @Rafael – our coaches blame lies strictly with PURCHASES. Selling Adebawhore and Kolo and refusing to reinvest was sick. But, this was all like how many years ago? Who did he buy last year? See, so this is our PROBLEM. This is the main problem. Get some more stars in so there is some competition, players feel more confident knowing they are in the midst of other equally good or better players. Get SPEED upfront. This was what Anelka had, so too did Overmars, Wiltord, Henry. Now, we are getting the Chamakhs as MARQUEE signings. I have no problem whatsoever with this guy, but he did not deserve to come here….he just took us a level lower in QUALITY.

    Now, my question? Why cant Walcott be the CENTRAL STRIKER? He has the ability to finish certainly, he is taller than TEVEZ…..why cant he strike for us? He could be a sub for VP, while AA and Nasri start. Well, this final paragraph is just ma thoughts.

  53. GunnerBoss
    April 25, 2011 at 6:52 pm #

    @leftcoastgooner – this is just the problem. Why play the boy when he is TIRED? He was the one that refused to strengthen.

  54. Nik
    April 25, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

    We are a Joke.
    Great Mourinho told everywone Wenger is a looser, and that he will not win anything with Arsenal.He has a business here, creating nice (not great) players and selling them high cost, he has no winning mentallity, hes making a joke of first class players, always excuses and obvious things on his press conferences.
    Come on Arsene, Ferguson and Mourinho and everywone is laughing at your face…is like they are having sex with your wife and they laught at you at the same time…
    gonna do nothing?
    no screaming to your players?
    no motivation?
    Wake up.

  55. Shard
    April 25, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    @GunnerBoss

    I do think we’ve played nonsense the past few weeks.

    I don’t know what your point with the Madrid tactics was, but I agree that we lack speed, and because of that we hardly ever seem to counter attack. But regarding your point about players starting to lose confidence in the manager, I highly doubt it. For my money, it is much more likely (and desirable) that the manager will lose faith with them before. The impression I got looking at the bench when Bolton’s second goal went in, was that the players were terrified of what Wenger will say to them. I may be wrong there of course, but I really think it is unlikely that Wenger gives them a free ride just because he does so in the media.

    I also disagree that purchases have been the major problem. What has most contributed to our failings is partly a problem in coaching (defense) and players simply not playing well. Wilshere, Szczesny, and Djourou have been finds of the season, and they have done better than perhaps could be expected. But what about Rosicky, Denilson, Bendtner, who have done pretty much nothing all year. Surely more can reasonably have been expected from them. Rosicky actually started the season very well, but faded away. And I think Walcott cannot be the sole striker because he doesn’t have the strength for it, and he doesn’t have the touch to contribute to our build up play from that position.

  56. GunnerBoss
    April 25, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    Madrid – Manager understanding/utilizing players better. He played a 5-4-1 against barca with cr07 as the one in front…defensive but still with all manner of threat.
    I only said we better stop loosing to avoid top players loosing faith in coach. I’ve seen ur point concerning this as well. U could be correct here.
    U seem to agree about the purchases, Cavalho is deemed one of the buys of the european season. We bought someone(two) and Djourou is our best defender……
    Walcott can be subbed, he has all it takes to be a top top striker(just some more confidence).

  57. kel
    April 26, 2011 at 1:33 am #

    I can’t believe this ManCity are 5 points adrift of us with a game in hand, wenger you have really gone and done it this time, I wonder where are all the fan who were saying nothing’s wrong were second in the league, this season is not a disappointment????
    It is not a coincidence that we have not won a trophy for 7 years something is very wrong BUT hell i knew that about 3 seasons ago.

    Wenger am sharping my blade for you this summer, I am convinced that your intentions are simply for personal gain and to hell with everybody else, well that’s ok BUT you should not complain when people question your judgment. You have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that you are tactically inept and that is a cardinal sin in modern football
    And people are here blaming the players who the hell bought them ???
    Wenger all the blame every single one is on your shoulders cause if this team had been successful you would have been praised so ALL, every single blame is on you shoulders. You blatantly refuse to address the needs of the team just to say i told you so (Personal gain) Your selfish.

    We make a whole lot of money YET we by in the basement, AND to compound that an increase in ticket prices. Arsenal is like a hotel that charges a $5000 a night BUT the rooms, food and drinks are cheap, I think the only looser here would be the patrons.
    Some one once told me to make my argument logically BUT when a club does the samething over and over and over again and get the same result BUT refuses to change where is the logic………………
    By the way ManCity play westHam next …………….

  58. realistic_gooner
    April 26, 2011 at 3:29 am #

    About Wilshere: I agree he’s really been off the boil for many weeks now. Fatigue has taken its toll. Even when he first broke into the team, I thought he looked promising, but no more than that. Some of my gooner friends are heralding him as the next Xavi/Iniesta/Fabregas rolled into 1, which I find utterly ridiculous. Yes, he has great potential, but he’s got a long way to go yet. I wish the media and fans would give him the time and space he needs to develop, instead of constantly bigging him up and exerting unnecessary pressure on the lad.

    @Gunnerboss
    I’ve watched the recent 2 El Classicos and I must say I’m very impressed with the way Madrid set up to neutralise and eventually beat Barca. Mourinho’s a nasty piece of work, but you gotta say he’s definitely up there in tactical ability. I wish Wenger could take a few lessons from him 🙂 and we’ll be the better off for it.

    @Shard
    I think this summer looks ominous for many of our underperformers. From Wenger’s body language, his interviews, and even from his team selection (Denilson and Rosicky seem to have been put in cold storage already), I think he’ll give them the boot in the summer.

    On the flip side however, what worries me is that guys who we desperately need to stay seem to be losing faith with Wenger. I’m speaking about Fabregas in particular. He seems to be going the way of Vieira and Henry in that he’s becoming disillusioned with the club due to the lack of ambition shown by the club. AA23 as well, seems to be on his way out. Nasri is still stalling on his contract and the rumour mill is in overdrive as to his next destination. I think Wenger will have his hands full 1) getting rid of the dross 2) bringing in new blood 3) and convincing our stars to stay.

  59. doug
    April 26, 2011 at 6:33 am #

    Arsenal lack speed? Really? As a Chelsea fan, I’ll take your speed. And “not very many” Arsenal players could make Chelsea? Only because Carlo refuses to put anyone in the lineup younger than 28. I like our manager, but he’s not developing anyone other than sending his youngsters to other places. I’ll take Cesc for Malouda, you can have Anelka for Van Persie. And how about, say, Kalou for Walcott? There we are.

    Anyway. I have no like or dislike for Arsenal really, but I’ve seen almost all of your games this year. I see quite a bit of moaning about giving up all those leads, and of course it’s only natural. It’s about killed Arsene, hasn’t it? He’s aged about 5 years this season.

    But the fact remains that a lead has to be made if one is to be given up. And it certainly takes a good team to do that. Yes, admit it. It takes a good team to go up 4-0 at St. James Park at the half, to lead at Whitehart Lane 3-1, and to constantly be up in general by halftime of any game. So the skill is there. Arsenal proves every week that it has the technical ability to beat anyone.

    But then what happens? Most people say that Arsenal chokes, or screws up, or is mentally weak. I’m skeptical on that point. I think it has much more to do with the lack of a really good goalie and a really good central defender. Squillaci was obtained this season. Arsene was very excited about this signing. But it didn’t really amount to much, did it? Where is your Vidic, your Luiz, your Terry? Come to think of it, where is your Agger and Kelly? When you’ve got a defense like Arsenal’s no lead is safe. There might also be an element of fitness (or natural stamina) involved. Chamakh looked great early in the season, then he takes a month and a half off because he is tired? Wilshere is tired? EVERYONE in the league is tired at this point. Does Arsenal do the basic fitness training that everyone else does — or at least as much of it? On a related note, does Arsene scout for players with natural stamina or does he discount it entirely? I wonder.

    I like the effort. It’s certainly not something I see all the time from Chelsea. So I think yer Gooners are still playing for Arsene.

    So I’d guess Arsene has blind spots. Like Carlo, and like almost every other manager. When will he (they?!?!) recognize them and do something about it? Especially in a league where there’s a manager that clearly has no blind spots (except when he signed that constantly injured player unseen). And speaking of SAF, one only had to see him almost explode after losing to Leeds last season to see how he feels about losing the FA Cup….or maybe not the FA Cup, but anything.

    What else? I’m not convinced Arsene’s style of football even works. A good defense follows the players, not the ball. Thus if you double the number of passes the chances for turnovers increase. Am I missing something? I didn’t play the game (other than intramurals in college) so maybe. Logically it would seem that passing the ball around quickly would free someone up more often, but it doesn’t really seem like that really happens. But then again, when Chelsea and Arsenal were at their best last Spring it was almost impossible to tell their styles apart. So maybe it’s just all a myth. Most teams that are able to simply possess the ball for two thirds of a game AND attack at the same time are just pretty damn entertaining and successful. When they don’t complete their passes they kind of suck.

    But again, this is all garnish. Just get a couple damn defenders and it should all work out for you.

  60. kips
    April 26, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    There you go again…rationalizing and deluding yourselves. You really thought you could win the premiership? really?

  61. GunnerBoss
    April 26, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    @doug – You simply restate my point……
    We got two defenders, none of them oozes much confidence. Its all about the quality of these PURCHASES. Some purchases have actually brought our standards downhill.
    We lost Gallas and Senderos and brought in two new guys. What in ur opinion is this going to result in? If Kos is at par with Senderos, Squilachi is certainly not at the Gallas level….So, who looses here? We’ve lacked depth all season at the back. Even mighty Magreed bought Adebawhore when their strikers were on the injury train in the transfer window, talkless of Carvalho, Oezil etc
    We keep on claiming, “We do not need this, we do not need that” ALL RUBBISH TALK.
    Why all the blaming now? We’ve conceeded three penalties in the last three games.

  62. max
    April 26, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    Personally, I am at a loss to how these same players can win some tough games home and away earlier in the season but crumble when it really counts. I recently talked about how our 4-5-1 formation and lack of adapting per game and during games affects – something relatively surprising in itself, especially from such an experienced manager… But more recently, I have begun to think it’s something much deeper.

    The formation and personnel was good enough to get us into the position to win the league in the first place, so there must be more to it than that – and in addition it does put the manager’s lack of changing it into perspective.

    Against Bolton our line up was our strongest team – Szcznesy, Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Jack, Song, Cesc, Theo, Van Persie and Nasri. On paper, an unstoppable force capable of beating anyone. Personally I think Arsene is a little bewildered that despite our injuries getting better and us finally being able to field our first team, the results have been so bad. In fact, the more players we get back from injury, the worse our form gets!

    Questions do come to mind…

    Has the manager not been able to motivate the players?

    To have such a talented group of players who have shown how good they are previously – but yet not be up for it when it counts – does that cite a lack of motivation? If playing good football and finishing in the top four good enough for the club, and the manager constantly repeats such a statement in the press – then does this filter to the players? Do they get demotivated by lack of the club’s ambition? When our players play badly but our manager backs them and continues to play them – we become a club and a team that accepts mediocrity.

    Have the players let down the manager?

    It’s clear to see that these players have the ability to play better – we all know that these players have other lives – the reason Niklas Bendtner was omitted from a crucial game in the run in was due to injury – but he’s out partying and clubbing. Cesc is too busy worrying about his twitter follower count and putting his want to play Barcelona ahead of himself keeping fit.

    When called upon to deputise our second string has been woeful – not being able to beat the likes of Leyton Orient or Huddersfield is simply not good enough.

    We have a massive wage bill, players on long term contracts and well looked after. In my opinion, they have let the manager down big time. They’ve cruised the recent games and in some games, they not tried hard enough. We have a big squad of under performers. It’s down to youth – but despite youth, you’d expect more from the players.

    Is the squad simply not good enough?

    Surely the biggest question. The fans have believed that the likes of the team that played against Bolton to be good enough to win titles. Last season’s excuse was injuries during the run in – but this season’s excuse is…

    I have learnt that our first XI is simply not good enough – partially down to some of the formations and tactics but mentally and technically they are not the team that we think they are. Our first team is a big factor of experience away from being there – and our reserve players, the likes of Eboue, Denilson, Diaby, Bendtner and Chamakh aren’t good enough for the Arsenal. Before you say that I’m being harsh – the question to ask is whether any of the aforementioned list of players would get into United, Chelsea’s or even City’s first XI – the answer is hell no!

    So where does that leave us next season? First, is Cesc staying? If not, replace him. Build a team with the rest of the first XI. Go back to 442. Get in a good number 2 – get in a world class striker and centre back. Get rid of the overpaid fringe players and make them hungry for success.

    We are close to something, but we’ve got to figure out what that something is before we can make it happen!

  63. shambogunner
    April 26, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    I know I said I was just gonna read on here until next season but just wanna give a shout out to gunnerboss, good to hear from you man…..how right you are about Byo and Aman and the likes who told us to come back an argue at the end of the season when we knew they would be nowhere to be found come the time.
    Listen, Iv said all I needed to sayover the years on this site, from wanting to sign players like Given and Parker, moreso because of Wengers obssession with a bargain, to the open dissatisfaction with the Eboues, Bentdners and Denislons….the Squillachis, the Stepanovs, the Sylvestres, the Almunias, the Fabianskis, the Diabys……………….the ‘signing’ of Chamakh that no-one could answer me the question of it he wernt on a free would Wenger be after him?
    Nearly all the questions Iv posed have been answered, and Im not satisfied, it hurts to see the sky cameras shifting from that game on Sunday to the stands, shifting to different sections of our away supporters, then back to the manager flinging more water bottlers to the ground, this wasnt unexpected, whats amazing is that so many thought for so long that there would be any other outcome.
    We now, assuming we finish 3rd, have to play and win a game to get into the champions league., this a few weeks after been told 2nd place is an acheivement.
    I have said alot and argued alot on this site, which I just wanna say to Andy is still top class, and Im not saying Im always right, Im often completely wrong and enjoy alternative opinion from intelligent fans like shard, but I have one more observation before I head back to been just a reader in here and that is the final exposure of what is wrong with the players and manager at this club at this moment, try to remember I dont want Wenger out either.
    On Sunday after another poor display in the art of detremination and will to win we once again conspired to lose a game from a possible winning position, having equalised and havin all momentum with us fro 35mins of the second half, we lost. I was in our pub surrounded by the usual Utd shower of fucks but they knew I had lost my vigour, they knew a wind up wasnt even going to get a reaction, they knew we were out of the race and the interest in playing that game was pointless. Andy this too is a part of football, mixing of fans and banter and I think we have been the brunt of the joke for long enough now. But my point isnt that, it is what happened after the game, of course Wenger did his usual thing of getting dwnthe tunnell quicker than Thierry ever could have, never acknowledging the away fans, but the unusual thing was to see an Arsenal player go to the away section take off his jersey, throw it to a gooner and show his appreciation and that he was one of them and felt how we feel, a small gesture, it cost nothing only a minute if his time, but to me it had a huge impact, it made me feel better, as it did the many travelling fans.
    For the first time in ages I thought ‘theres someone I can relate to’ in this club, and hes only a chap! 18 years old and he could take thetimeto go do that while the rest of our so called ‘senior’ players ran with their tails between their legs to the safety and solitude of the dressing room, andthat my friends is what is wrong with Arsenal compared to years gone by, the value of the tradition of this club is not shared by the Diabys or even the Nasris and this is Wengers fault. That is why Utd are so good at what they do, Vidic and co all know what it is to play for Fergusonand the fans,the standard is set.
    You may not agree with that but I can guarentee you our fans didnt go away empty handed from that game Sunday and it was solely down to Jack Wilshere.
    See ya in September, have a good summer!

  64. leftcoastgooner
    April 26, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

    @shambo
    Yeah,yeah,yeah,
    Jack wilshere, jack wilshere, jack wilshere. He saved our club this year thank goodness.
    His play has been so outstanding he can’t mark on set pieces, win the ball back or take a shot in the box either. But god knows we need to clone him now. No, I watch the same matches and I don’t agree. Another facebook and twitter guy.How about Hero-worshipping somone who WINS a game for us or are standards so lowered that being English is now the acme of football sucess as opposed to actually winning something. Hero worship goes to those players who make the winning difference.Jack plays every week and we lose.He is not Patrick Vieira He is Jack Wilshere. He may get there some day but he has a long, long way to go.

  65. Shard
    April 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    Shambo

    there is no qualifier for 3rd place to get into the Champions league. It’s only 4th place which has that.

    I see your point about Wilshere, but give Wenger some credit for bringing Wilshere through too. Regarding selling the older players who know what it means to play for the club, I agree, but I do not see what else could have been done. The only one I think Wenger can be blamed for is Gilberto. He should have kept him. The rest either had to go, or is understandable why they left.
    But regarding ManU..Not denying the point you just made, but give us refereeing decisions of that ilk, and we’ll look like world beaters. I really struggle to have respect for ManU and any of their achievements, simply because they are continually helped over the line.

  66. Shard
    April 26, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    @realistic gooner

    I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I know it can be a worry, but I think we’ll get through. As you say, it does seem like the deadwood in the squad will be gotten rid off. Players from the reserves will come in, and a few signings will be made. If those signings seem of requisite quality, then the players you say we need should stay. But I still am of the belief that it is the players who have let the manager and the club down than the other way around. Yes, even Cesc, even Nasri. I don’t think they have stepped up to the plate when it matters this season, and for me, they have no right to complain. I’d rather the manager read the riot act to them if they throw a tantrum, and focus on the club’s needs rather than the wishes of individual players.

  67. shambogunner
    April 26, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    @leftcoast,
    Jack Wilshere shoudnt be marking at set pieces, hes five ft tall.
    If you dont think hes proven himself as a player who can win back the ball then I dont know what youv been watching this season, he was immense at home against Barce and he was again the same against Chelsea home AND away in the League…..if you want him to score goals and set up chances aswel then show me another in world football who can do all these things,any age because there are none, he gives his all and the boy deserves every credit.
    What I wrote wasnt about his performance against bolton, or any game hes played of late, it was solely on the gesture he made to the fans, that so many others couldnt find the time or appreciation to do under the circumstances, the fans were down, again, and he brought about a show of solidarity, and I appreciated it, thats all.
    Im not English so I have no other reason to admire him other than the fact hes is an out and out Arsenal fan and player.
    And I guess your gonna have to just deal with the fact that a different generation of footballer has emerged and facebook and Twitter are out there, irrelevent as it is I find it less annoying than Nicolas Bentdner going around telling everone hes the best striker in Europe and. soon to be, the world…..while getting caught in hotels in just his underpants, every thing is relative and if you can tolerate that I think you can cut Wilshere some slack.
    Im actually surprised that you wrote that mate, I mean what Arsenal player does mark on set pieces or shoot in the box?? If you can speak this way of Wishere then you must have some serious trouble with the many passengers in this setup.

  68. tom
    April 30, 2011 at 5:23 am #

    Look like it is repeating the same problem. More experience players should be brought in.

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