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Bradford 1-1 Arsenal: file under “obituary”

Going into the game, every football fan knew what Bradford were all about: hard work in midfield closing down space, hard work up front winning headers and putting balls through for the second forward to run onto, and disciplined hard work at the back cutting out crosses and keeping a compact shape. We all knew what Bradford were all about and Bradford knew what Arsenal were supposed to be all about: intricate passing, crosses into the box, and a defensive line which can be exploited for space. But what we all found out last night, as Arsenal exited the League Cup on penalties to fourth division Bradford, is that the Arsenal players and managers didn’t seem to have a clue what Bradford were about and somewhere along the line forgot what Arsenal is supposed to be about.

It’s not about the money. Bradford are in League Two, effectively the fourth division. Their top players earn less in a year than Arsenal’s top players earn in a week. Bradford has been beaten this season by Port Vale, a team that exited administration a month and a half after they beat Bradford 1-0. Arsenal, with their 60,000 seat arena in the heart of London, have the money at their disposal to buy the talent required to beat a team like Bradford.

But it is about the money. Because what we have found out with ruthless precision is that players like Chamakh and Gervinho are not good enough to beat Bradford and players like Podolski and Ramsey have a casual attitude in a cup competition that makes them a poison on any team. And all of those players have been purchased at great expense and earn massive salaries compared to anyone on the Bradford side. If it is about the money then the team that Wenger put together aren’t good enough to beat Bradford and Wenger isn’t spending wisely.

The decisive moment came in the 41st minute. Podolski awoke from his slumber and passed the ball to Gibbs who was dashing at goal. Gibbs saw the space developing in front of Gervinho and played in the best cross of the night, one of the best crosses Gibbs has ever played. The entire Bradford back line was beaten and the ball gently tumbled in front of them just far enough away that none could reach. The Bradford keeper made a dive but was beaten too and lay on the ground arms out, head twisted around his body to see Gervinho wide open, the net gaping, no defenders. Gervinho missed and collapsed on the pitch. He lay there in corpse pose for an eternity hoping that the grass would grow and eventually cover over his shame. In the background you can see Gibbs’ head drop. Podolski turns in disgust. Ramsey drops to his knees and holds his head.

In many ways, it would have been a let off for this Arsenal team if Gervinho had scored: on the merit of hard work and application of talent, Arsenal didn’t deserve that goal. In midfield, Ramsey had been serially dispossessed all night by a Bradford side who, in the end, didn’t even have to work too hard to take the ball from him. At one point Ramsey casually dribbled right up to a Bradford player and “that guy” (because they were all anonymously interchangeable, like generic “beer”) simply took the ball and started a counter attack. Ramsey couldn’t have made a better hand off to a teammate.

That Ramsey was wasteful with the ball wasn’t entirely his fault, the whole team had trouble making even routine passes because no one seemed too terribly bothered to move. It was cold, after all, and they were probably dreaming sugarplum dreams of a warm hotel room, hot cocoa, and FIFA with their best mates. There was no fluidity to Arsenal’s midfield, but rather a quiescence that has been taking form all season.

And defensively, Arsenal weren’t much better. Bradford’s offensive game plan was simple: they have a center forward who is 6’4″, hit the ball high to him and let him try to win the header and knock the ball down to their main striking threat, a kid named Wells. To defend that, typically, a team will either challenge for the initial header or they will concentrate on the knock down (the second ball, as it’s called). Arsenal tried both and failed miserably. Arsenal’s captain and ostensibly the best defender on the team didn’t seem to win a single defensive header and when he switched the tactic to cover the second ball, he spent the rest of the evening in Wells’ pocket. Thomas Vermaelen put in one of his worst performances in an Arsenal shirt as he spent more time pushing over their center forward or fouling their striker than inspiring his teammates to defensive solidity.

Reading the paragraph above you might think that Arsenal lost 3-0. The reality is that Bradford threatened Arsenal from open play, but they actually only scored one goal and it came from a set play. Unhumorously, from a set play that Arsenal practice.

At the start of this season, Arsenal hired a new assistant coach, Steve Bould. An old Arsenal man from the days when Arsenal were known as “boring boring” because they would close up shop defensively and try to win games off set pieces. The famous chant “one-nil to the Arsenal” was started then, because that was a frequent score-line to celebrate by the Gunners.

One of Bould’s Arsenal’s most famous ways to score a goal was to put a guy like Bould himself on the near post and a player like Tony Adams on the far post. The corner kick would be whipped in and Bould would head the ball across the box where an Arsenal player would be waiting to poke home.

Given that Bould is now assistant manager it should be no surprise that Arsenal have used this play extensively from the beginning of this season and while they have struggled to score with it, it’s clear that this is something they work on in training. That is also the play that Bradford used to score: from a corner, “some guy” headed the ball across the box, Sagna was left covering two defenders and picked the wrong one and “some other guy” scored an easy goal.

A fourth division team beat Arsenal with their own set play and I’m not sure which circle of hell that goal comes from. I am sure, however, that being beaten on the play that your assistant manager is famous for and a play that you practice all the time is a clear indication that the team has given up listening to the management.

Arsene Wenger wanted to win. He picked the very best team available to him to get that win. Ostensibly, he prepared this team for the threat we all knew they posed and for the best way to attack them and get the goals they needed to win that game. And through a combination of laziness, ineptitude, and what looked at times like mutiny, the team responded with the worst 90 minute performance of the season, only deciding to have a go at the opposition in the final 30 minute overtime.

In the wake of the defeat, Arsene Wenger will now come in for criticism and deservedly so. He bought this team, paying £12m for Gervinho, which the Bradford fans mocked with chants of “Premier League, you’re having a laugh”. He’s persisted with playing Ramsey out of position on the “wing”, despite the midfielder’s constant frustration as a ball dawdler, rather than buying a player who would fit that position. He gambled on the physical fitness of Abou Diaby, Tomas Rosicky, and Jack Wilshere, and the mental fitness of Andrei Arshavin, Theo Walcott, and Marouane Chamakh. He gave Vermaelen the captain’s armband and has had to sit back and watch as the player has unravelled as a leader before millions of people’s eyes. He trains this team, a team which the vice-captain (Mikel Arteta) bragged last week are asking for more training sessions and who couldn’t even defend the set play that they practice week in and week out.

This is a team that no longer controls possession, unless the opposition want them to. This is a team that pretends to be an attacking side, with their comically high defensive line, but who couldn’t manage to work the Bradford keeper until the 70th minute. This is a team with an academy that we are supposed to be proud of, which has only produced one world-class player. This is a team with a global scouting network and a manager with an encyclopedic knowledge of world football who spent good money buying a player like Gervinho who adds nothing to his team.

Arsenal are all of those things and none of them. No one seems to know what Arsenal are about any more because this is a zombie team: they are a team that is dead but who have yet to give up living. They are going from one game to the next, going through the motions, playing as if they were still the Arsenal, only slower, uglier, and rapidly decaying.

As anyone who has ever watched a zombie film knows, the only way to kill a zombie is to shoot it in the fucking head.

angry-wenger

Qq

97 thoughts on “Bradford 1-1 Arsenal: file under “obituary”

  1. +21 Vote -1 Vote +1Teampossible

    Wow, Tim.
    I’ve never thought you could write something this direct and brutal.
    And unfortunately I agree with every fucking line of it.
    The other sad part is that each next game this team plays, becomes their worst of the season.

    1. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1londoncalling12

      Hello Tim & Everyone else who distinguishes this wonderful blog.

      I took a Blog embargo of two days following our defeat to Bradford as I was in a huge amount of emotional pain.

      Unfortunately your blog is the first I’ve read today, and now I’m upset all over again. I think this is one of the best Blog submissions you have ever written. It is a blog of fact, honesty; emotions and the contents are direct and all true.

      I watched the game at my local pub surrounded by Man Utd, Liverpool and Spurs fans and it was mocking on several levels at the end, and I must confess I too have reservations about the future of my supported team.

      Is Arsene the right man to take us forward? Can he change the mind-set of the players currently in the team, can we sell Gervinho, Chamakh and bring in the changes necessary in January 2013/. I think it will be very difficult for Arsene to manage all these changes in the January window, so I expect us to continue as we are… with more bumps along the way as we try to climb up the table the best we can.

      There is an old saying: you have to reach deep bottom to rise again like a phoenix, it is all true.

      I’m sad for AW as I admire him tremendously; ALSO I want him to succeed and stay at Arsenal, especially with the new money expected in the next two years (I’d love to see what Arsene could do with money), but alas we can only think about now and take issue with some of the players he bought in; which must be orated are just not good enough to grace the Arsenal shirt.

      Throughout all my years of submission on this blog I have always been positive about our players, but recently I commented that Gervinho was doing my head in… but to be honest there has only been one player at the Arsenal that I truly disliked… and he was Adebayor, and that started from the very beginning of his tenure at Arsenal.

      Gervinho tries…but alas he is NOT very good at football.

      And please don’t get me started on Stuart Robson….what an embittered man!
      ::))

  2. +8 Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

    I know how difficult it must have been for you to write this piece Tim, but very brilliantly and succinctly put. The state of Arsenal all wrapped up in a few paragraphs.

    Unfortunately, a very truthful piece of work.

  3. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Ramgun

    I have just found your website. Thank you for the report. I am a supporter of some 57 years (first trip to Highbury 1955) and a season ticket holder for five decades. In the past, whether we were good or bad, we remained “The Arsenal” and were proud of having the most entrenched identity in English football. That club no longer exists. It has been smashed to smithereens by Wenger since 2006. The people still supporting their beloved Arsene remind me of Hitler’s acolytes in the bunker in 1945, still expecting their leader to succeed with the Russians a mile down the road and Germany in ruins. The blind support for Le Gigantic Ego from within and without the club has done, and is still doing, massive harm. The whole of the football interested-country is laughing at us and at where the Wengerite Gang Of Four are leading us. The Gang Of Four are, of course, Kroenke, Hill-Wood, Gazides and Wenger himself. Right now, the club of my life does not exist.

  4. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Yan

    Strongest post since I read 7amkickoff, since.. well I can’t really remember, but haven’t missed a single post.

    Sad times Gunners…

      1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1charybdis1966

        Good, the last thing we want is cave dwellers soiling an Arsenal blog. Strong words Tim, little to disagree with, but as for an answer I’m at a loss for words there.

  5. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1nycgunner

    Almost everybody I knew to be a staunch AW supporter (including myself) have come around to the idea that his time is up. You can no longer defend him by saying that he hasn’t had the money to buy good players. The players on this team are good enough to beat Bradford, Swansea, Norwich & Villa. Sometimes good teams have bad days but when bad results become the norm, you can’t claim to have a good team anymore. You can’t expect to produce consistently when your basic tactics and your player selection aren’t right. Playing a high line demands quick passing & movement when you have the ball and pressure on the ball when you don’t have it. We do neither. We play a striker as a winger, a winger as a striker and a decent attacking mid fielder as a defensive mid fielder. We don’t play to our strengths and do almost nothing to cover for our weaknesses. Teams know this and exploit us. Yet Wenger has shown no signs of changing things around.

    He has been with us for so long that it’s hard for us to imagine an Arsenal without him, at least that’s the case for me as he is the only Arsenal manager I have known. It’s a scary prospect when I think about it. There are so many things that can go wrong with a new manager. Especially these days when the margin for error is very narrow and patience is a rare virtue. My gut feeling is that things will get worse before it gets better but we need to start looking forward and stop thinking about how Arsene created the Invincibles. That will not happen again. We can either accept our mediocrity or we can have our voices heard and ask for change. These are dark days, despite the rosy picture painted by almost everyone associated with the club .

  6. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1jeff

    You failed to mention that bradfords goal came from a free kick which our captain gave away. How many goals has arsenal conceded from mistakes and free kicks by our captain

  7. +6 Vote -1 Vote +11niltothearsenal

    Tim,

    You have spoken once again, so eloquently for so many of us. Driving to the location from where I’m composing this, I was listening to the Elvis Presley channel on the satellite radio in the car.

    Listening to it on occasion, I am amazed at how much schlock he recorded. Bad arrangements, syrupy music. Dreadful stuff. They just played a late 70s Las Vegas performance of “My Way”. You can hear him huffing, puffing and sweating buckets through that ridiculous rhinestone-studded jump suit, and it’s cringe-worthy enough to switch channels. The fat, drug-addled Elvis that no one wants to remember.

    But if you stick it out for a few minutes or go back for a 2nd listen there will come an inevitable reminder of just how great and revolutionary he really was. The man could sing anything: rockabilly, country, gospel, blues, you name it. The played the 7 minute version of “Merry Christmas Baby”, which is as great a blues record as anyone of the white persuasion has ever recorded. The young, hungry, lithe, leather cat suit Elvis. The man who could pop hairpins at fifty feet with just a curl of his lips. The Elvis everyone wants to remember.

    Last night I witnessed the Las Vegas version of club and manager that no will ever want to remember and I’m sad, really sad.

  8. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Lexington Gooner

    Clearly AFC is in a state. The sad fact is that we’re not good enough to contend for any honors. We don’t have a single world-class, game-changing player. ManU, City, and Chelsea each have several. Meanwhile, Liverpool and Spurs are surging past us. Our real goal every year is a Champions League spot but I don’t think we’ll make it this year without significant change in leadership, personnel, and tactics.

    It’s time for Wenger to step down.

    1. +9 Vote -1 Vote +1Alfred

      LOL As bad as things are, let’s not kid ourselves that sp*rs and Liverpool are surging past us. The scum have only been slightly less shitty than us and despite how ass bleedingly poor our season has been, we’re still ahead of Liverpool.

  9. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    A huge thumbs up for this post. i was kind too kind when i said we’ve been shite in the final 1/3. Safe to say that that now includes the entire pitch, the dressing room, the training center and the bus. In 2 words, we’ve been limp and wimp. We’ve been clueless and that is down to coaching, management, and scouting.

    Every rebuilt team Wenger has put out since the Emirates project’s enforced austerity has COMPETED to the best of their abilities. We now know in retrospect that we never had it so good. The current squad could have happened at anytime but it has fallen to now and we are really in some hard times going forward. Do not expect any salvation with January signings. There is a rot at the core of this team that will only poison any signings. Rosicky, Giroud, Wilshere, Walcott, Cazorla, Arteta, Mertesacker, Gibbs are the only players I think are worth keeping at this time and that is just barely.

    I don’t think Wenger should go because he did not become a bad manager all of sudden. There is disconnect here and I would sooner clear out players who are not performing up to expectations than remove a manager produced winners and i think still can.

    Finally, I would not buy Huntelaar when you don’t have a team capable creating the types of opportunities he scores from.

  10. Vote -1 Vote +1Denver Gunner

    Tim,
    It is truely sad times at the Arsenal, The players have clearly fired Wenger as their manager. Unfortunately as long as the mgt remains they same I do not see any change happening. The manager continually wants things to go back to the way they were before petro dollars wrecked his plan.

    The money is here to stay and the manager will not adjust. If you want a world class team you must have world class players. Our world class players we had wanted a world class team around them.

    Wenger did not provide a world class environment so they left to find one. Unfortunately, Arsenal may be worse than Liverpool, at least they tried to get it right and just missed. Arsenal did not even try. I think the strategic direction from the club must change for the results to change.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Jop

      I do not understand your Liverpool reference. If you take their decline as a point of comparison, surely we are further behind the curve of decline than they are. We are comparatively where they were when they sold Torres and in 2009-10 scrapped to miss 4th.

      I’d rather we not follow their approach and spend, spend, spend… only to finish one place higher in 2010-11 and all the way down in eight last season.

      If we are to avoid a similar slide to mid-table mediocrity surely we must exercise somewhat more caution than they did. And carefully appoint a new manager who is both dutiful and ambitious, and carefully spend what money we have to improve the team.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        Liverpool…trying very hard by spending lots of money and ending up 3 seasons out of CL. Honestly…that’s the standard you’d prefer?

  11. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1jaymin

    Nothing at all to add. The only positive from this whole season will be the combination of our share prices declining, the complete erosion of support for kse, kroenke’s real estate lawsuit, all sapping his will to continue ownership of the club, hopefully providing Wenger’s successor with a cash drunk owner who will plow him with funds.
    Wait, what will actually happen is that Arsenal will be in the hands of owners who have no knowledge of English football, are in over their heads, and will be desperate to ingratiate themselves to the fans like a wicked stepmother tries to with her new children. So we are in for a string of cheap English managers i think. ‘got to give the people, give the people what they want…’ And that’s probably what Gazidis and Kroenke think the people want.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Jop

      Oh god, please anything but that. I’m having flashes of “King” Kenny at Liverpool out of his depth, like a resuscitated corpse dredged from the furthest, tallest Pyramid in Egypt.

  12. Vote -1 Vote +1TheGunners...AhTheGunners

    Wenger needs to go. I say that with great sadness, not malice. Who to replace? I don’t know. Stojkovic, Bergkamp… my personal choice would Jurgen Klopp if we could steal him away from Borrussia Dortmund. I don’t believe all these Guardiola rumors, I feel he’s probably waiting for the Man City job to open up.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Why does Wenger need to go now?

      Granted we are in a sticky situation again but changing course mid stream will help nothing, particularly when you consider we are but 5 points off 3rd still. Also it seems unrealistic to be able to get any of the managers proffered when we can’t even spend on players we need in critical positions.

      More likely, the season will play itself out. Maybe we hit third again. If we don’t and we struggle next season, then Wenger’s position will become difficult to keep.

  13. +9 Vote -1 Vote +1alabamagooner

    Wow, Tim. I don’t know what to say. We are all dumbfounded, and I wouldn’t even claim to be smart enough to guess what is going on. That said, I think the characterization of the players as not caring or not trying is unfair. They look panicked…they can’t figure it out either and I think they are losing faith in Wenger to help them sort it out. But that’s not the same as not caring. And, come on…Ramsey with a “casual attitude”? Sloppy, panicked, unfocused…sadly,yes (and it pains me to say that). But a player with a “casual attitude” doesn’t pick themselves up after getting kicked in the face and be on the pitch two minutes later running after the ball with the gauze still in his hand. Calling that casual is unfair.

    I watch ths team because of the players. I hate the prima donna, egotistical, arrogant SOBs that are “world class players” for other teams. I’m sorry I haven’t been around long enough to have the history of Arsenal FC ingrained in my memory. And that probably means I don’t have standing to say any of this, and you can all safely ignore me. But I want to see this team, these players, be able to do what I know they can do. And I’ll be damned if I know how that’s going to happen. That’s what makes me sad.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Ramsey is not playing with a casual attitude.

      1) he is not played in his natural position and is not the best asset out wide.

      2) he does not play with enough commitment ad say Jack or even Coquelin. He needs to have 10% more aggression which will make him an infinitely better player.

      This is the problem with him.

      When you consider that behind the striker, we have Santi, Rosicky, Jack and even Eisfeld able to play there, Ramsey’s position in the squad has become a roving one. “Jack of all trades, master of none” (not even Jack Wilshere)

  14. Vote -1 Vote +1CarsonWells


    But, if constructing the future and settling everything for all times are not our affair, it is all the more clear what we have to accomplish at present: I am referring to ruthless criticism of all that exists, ruthless both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      That Gerv is poison! [to that Bel Biv DeVoe song from 1990...come on everybody, let's do the New Jack Swing!]

  15. +6 Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

    Tim,

    You are more articulate than I am, and frankly, don’t even know what I want to say. I just know (don’t ask me how) that you are wrong in (I presume) asking for the manager’s head. The problems of Arsenal are not to do with money as you say. Except they are. Upsets in cup competitions, as well as the league, happen all the time. That is not to do with money, and that is why we watch, and even bother playing the game on the field. Arsenal obviously spent more than Bradford creating that side. But that spend is to do with 16 years of CL football. It is to do with being in the top echelons of the Premier League consistently. The spend is not to do with one match or one season.

    Combined with that spend, is another aspect of money. Not being able to retain the players that Arsenal brought through or bought and made better, Despite which Arsenal have stayed competitive. Of course we weren’t competitive yesterday. We haven’t been this year, and perhaps not last year. How far can we extend that? Are the frustrations from yesterday? Hardly anyone seems to say so. 1 year? 7 years? That 7 years stat bugs me because it is an artificial creation. Why 7? Why not 10, or 20?

    Aah, But it’s not about the money. It’s about the lack of coaching. Let’s just say that Wenger were to be the type of coach which we think we now need. Drilling players to defedn properly. Practicing set plays often enough to make it second nature. We’d probably have scored a few more points now. But then we truly would be mid table. We’d never really be able to aspire to more. The Invincibles wouldn;t have happened if Wenger hadn’t seen something in the likes of Henry, Ljungberg, Toure etc. Something no one else saw. The near triumph of 2008 (I will always maintain the word near was only added because of referees) wouldn’t have happened without his trust and belief in Denilson, Cesc, Hleb, Adebayor (barndoor?) etc. He’s always been one to push what seems the conventional wisdom, and that is why we have the memories we do. Is that all in the past? Yes. Does it mean his time is past? No. Not yet.

    Where we are right now is to do with money. Deny it all you like by bringing up Bradford, bringing up Swansea, or any other team in the world, we’re here because we’ve had to sell our best players because of money. Wenger doesn;t spend efficiently, buys shit players, knows no tactics, yet somehow we have always ended up 4th or better? How is that?

    He’s (hopefully) going to get money now. Again. To make the team he envisages into reality. I believe he deserves the chance. And sentimental though that is, it isn’t just that. Anyone who comes in will still have to deal with this team. Perhaps if Wenger is fired they won;t feel so protected and safe. Perhaps they’ll respond better to the coach and not appear ‘mutinous’. Or perhaps, Wenger will do what he’s managed to do over this supposedly dark phase and yet again get us CL.

    And yes, apparently it doesn;t mean anything to have qualified because we’ve never won it. Some people will always demean the achievements when they’ve decided that it doesn’t fit with their agenda (don’t mean you Tim) And yes, Arsenal haven’t spent the ‘fuckin money’ all these years. But time changes things. I don’t believe Wenger is happy with where we are, or even with finishing 4th in perpetuity. The new commercial deals, FFP, TV deals etc should all allow us to spend mor money. Will it be enough? Who knows. But I still trust Wenger to get us to the top again. And if he can’t, I don;t think it’ll be down to him, but simply because it can;t be done against the oil clubs and red mancs. And that, is not an indictment of Wenger and Arsenal, as much as it is an indictment of modern football.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1nycgunner

      You sound like me from last year, although I would never be able to make my case so well.

      However, scoring a few more points (6 to be exact), would not make us truly mid-table. It would make us third. Also, it’s not only mid table teams that does defensive drills and practices set pieces but Arsenal’s problems lie far beyond doing defensive drills and set pieces. It starts with our scouting system that brings in players like Chamakh, Park and Gervinho in the first place. Wenger’s ability to pick out gems in the transfer market have diminished with the decline of the French league. This is quite natural but we have been slow to adjust (if at all). If we really had a good scouting network we would have picked up players like Demba Ba and Michu. How much of this is Wenger’s fault, I don’t know but I do know that no players come into the club without his approval. So this is Wenger’s team. The money is definitely a problem but it’s not all of it.

      1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

        My point about the drills was about the focus. In limited training time, we could either focus on the passing skills and sticking to the manager’s philosophy, or we could say that isn’t working and go the other way and be stoke or something. Yes a few more points would have us third, but changing a team’s identity is not to be sniffed at, and not something which is easy to reverse (in essence, this is what Arsene is facing now after a quick dismantling of the Cesc Fabregas team) Interestingly, George Boateng recently was on TV here criticising Sunderland and saying they are in deep trouble because they and O’Neill panicked after the initial few results and lost sight of what they wanted to do, as a result of which they now are too defensive and can’t do anything when they get the ball. Which behaviour, he said normally leads to relegation. For Arsenal that would be out of CL spots, and Wenger’s ‘stubborness’ might actually be what has got us that over the years.

        As for bringing in ‘gems’ on the cheap, that is harder for Arsenal now that everyone knows our manager’s knack for it. The selling club will keep the richer clubs informed and interested. Basically the likes of Swansea and Newcastle have less competition for their targets, simply because they aren’t at our level. We have to deal with that, but despite useless buys like say Gervinho, we’ve still maintained our level near the top.

        Money isn’t all of the problem. But it is the major problem. Everything else pales in comparison (IMO)
        Also, I was looking at the age of our first team squad today, and I think we’ll be facing another transition in 2 years time. A lot of our squad will be sold because they are not good enough. A few will manufacture moves away, and a few will age and decline enough to either be moved, or diminish in capacity. I can only hope that the money is there to supplement the squad as and when needed. And with 4th now not deemed good enough and Wenger eventually moving out, it could go downhill fast. Maybe I’m just putting fingers in my ears and going lalalalalala..But I don;t think Wenger and even the much maligned board, will let it go that far.

      2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

        The team are asking the management for more training.

        The team are asking the management for more training.

        I’m guessing that there’s enough time in training to work on things.

      3. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1nycgunner

        To be honest, it all sounds like excuses. We play a system that requires us to press, I would think that would be drilled into the team if we want the system to work. If you win the ball higher up the pitch, you won’t have TV5 making desperate tackles and giving away free kicks in dangerous areas. At the least you’d reduce it and not have it occur as frequently as it does.

        As for competition for players, there is competition at every level so I completely disagree with your assessment. I don’t think team like Newcastle and Swansea have less competiton for their targets. There are more teams in the middle of the table than there is at the top and all of them are trying to find good players on the cheap. Any time a club comes for a player, their agent puts other clubs on alert. That’s the way it’s played from players being scouted by United all the way to Swansea. You still have to find a way to bring in good players – and he did that by bringing in Giroud, Pololski and Cazorla. Hardly unknown gems, but the club showed that they can get it done in the transfer market when they put their mind to it. The problem is he bought way too may crap players too and that’s hurting the team.

        At the end of the day, it’s the players that either make you look like a genius or a fool. Wenger took a horrible gamble this year on Diaby’s fitness but making bad gambles is a chronical problem with him. I seriously think if he buys a solid defensive midfielder, half our problems will be solved. If he really wants to, he can fix it. That hope that he can and will fix things in January is probably the only thing that’s keeping many of Arsene’s supporters from calling for his dismissal.

      4. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

        Mid table clubs all have similar resources, unlike the clubs we compete(d) with. I do agree with you about Wenger being a poor gambler, and I disagreed with him about Diaby. The only way that could have been justified was if it worked. It didn’t, which isn’t surprising. And yes, he’ll fix things. Not just Jan. I’m looking at the next two transfer windows. After that, it’s his last season before he’s out of contract. We’ll see how it goes then.

    2. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      Bradford
      Olympiakos
      Swansea
      Norwich
      Wigan
      QPR
      Sunderland
      Swansea
      Fulham
      Olympiakos
      Blackburn
      Villa
      Stoke
      Bolton
      Birmingham City

      It’s about money, it’s about buying the right players. It’s also about not doing the same thing over and over again so many times that it can be exploited by a fourth division team. Since the League cup final loss, those are the teams (above) who have beaten Arsenal using the same tactics. I dunno about you, but something seems fundamentally wrong.

      1. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1nycgunner

        Absolutely. It’s not one thing. It’s a friggin laundry list of things that are wrong. We have never been the kind of club that went out and got the most expensive players – at least not under Wenger. So money can’t be the only issue. The scouting network needs to be revamped – I have no doubts about that. But is Wenger the right man to do this? I want to say yes so badly but given his recent record, I can’t. And why does he persist with Gervinho as the CF and Poldi on the wing? Shouldn’t they be switched so we can at least play them in their natural positions? It’s mind boggling! Wtf is he thinking???

        Ok.. I need to stop now before I work myself up to a frenzy. Good article as always. Sad but every word is true.

      2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

        How many teams have we beaten using the same tactics as we always do? Maybe you think a manager who switches tactics drastically for every opponent would be better. I say such a manager would never have given us football of the quality that we saw between 1998 and 2004. Because such an output requires a single-mindedness to that ideal. Like it or lump it, Wenger’s not the guy who will forego that desire to be the best that he can be..but with a caveat- It’s never at all costs he says.. I for one am happy with that. The past 7-8 years is small price to pay for having the Invincibles in our history and my memories.

        Of course what is worrying is that we’re not seeing football which we can be happy about anymore. But I still think that will come. A team built up in two seasons while having virtually no continuity will take time to develop that fluency. We’ll keep losing games like these. But as long as we can get in the CL (realistically, I don’t think anyone can do better than that with our resources) it’ll be worth it, and for the best in the longer term.

      3. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

        That’s a straw man. I don’t want a manager who switches tactics wildly for every game. I want a manager who can prepare his team to not be beaten by their own cheesy circa 1984 set play. And a manager who is able to make substitutions and change tactics when needed. Wenger doesn’t ever or at least almost never. Instead, he relies on the players to change their tactics.

        And while I agree that single-mindedness has served well in the past, it’s now past the sell-by date and stinks. It’s predictable, stale, and needs a fresh injection.

      4. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

        It wasn’t a straw man, and I didn’t say ‘wildly’. I used the word drastic because I think Wenger does make changes, just more subtle. Mainly, I was going for the same point that you yourself made with the single mindedness having served us well. Past its sell by date? That’s what I’m not sure about. The fresh injection we need could very well just be better players and better retention, both of which will be helped by money which is coming in, and which you yourself feel the club have cornered themselves into having to spend through the manner of their announcement. Wenger deserves the chance to prove you wrong.

      5. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1nycgunner

        “Wenger deserves the chance to prove you wrong.”

        This I agree with, and I do think he will get a few of those chances as I don’t see the board sacking him.

      6. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

        7 years is a hell of a long time to make corrections and never get it right. How much longer and how many more chances do we give him. Why expect him to change something in the next 2 years when he has not been able to do so for 7?

        If we had revamped the team and I saw gradual improvement over time I would have no problem with that. What I am seeing however, is a gradual decline with no signs of reversal.

        As a club, when your manager loses your team there are 2 options, fire the entire team or change the manager. The first option is not viable since we have players sitting ion the books who wont leave and nobody wants them because of their salaries.

        When is enough not enough?

      7. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        Because it isn’t about us spending as I have mentioned before. We have spent 55m+39m in two summers. That’s plenty.

        It’s about retention. We have failed to keep some of our best performers and critically experience to run through the team

        Yes we can recruit experience (say Podolski) but it isn’t the same as experience (say Song) which has been blooded through gruel and graft over several seasons with knowledge of our (Arsene’s) preferred system.

        That is partially why midfield as you say is not fluent.

        The other reason why stems from the poor selection of players over the course of the season.

        Where we have available players like Arsharvin (until he is sold), we have handicap the dynamics in the team (that has been reasonably solid defensively but needs creative spark and good delivery form out wide) with playing less suited products like Ramsey in unfamiliar positions.

        Ditto Walcott who was left out for a large chunk at start of season.

        Whilst you may argue we may/may not have assets to compete against the very best in European football (midfield), we certainly have enough (even sans Diaby) to compete with many of the teams listed.

        The question then lies in who you play to get the best out of other players.

        As an eg. Coquelin is quite blatantly not (yet) at Arteta’s level nor does he play his ‘holding’ role in the same way as Arteta.

        Yet Wenger elected to have him hold with Santi and Jack playing advance roles when the better selection may have been to play Rosicky (with his experience) next to the young mid, Jack and Santi deployed RW (or LW if you like in lieu of Ramsey)

        Like a finely tune machine, performance sometimes hinge on these little nuances which can make a big difference.

        Immediately when Rosicky came on, he made a massive diffrence for us which begs the question why did we not put him on earlier.

        These are the sort of decisions that have been made by the gaffer that do no good to the dynamics of the team. And when we drop because the mix of ingredients in midfield is unbalanced, the team suffers. Then the continued loss in performance ushers in more brutal damage in weighing on our players’ psyche down the line creating a vicious cycle we find hard to escape at the moment.

        I have said this before, Wenger has flattered to decieve BECAUSE he has been for the most parts brilliant in the transfer window. But the game is more tactical now in England and the market for talent more flat with the internet and more teams (in GB) willing (possessing) the ability to spend on players from abroad.

        Thereby the tactical edge that Wenger enjoyed in early years has also been eroded along with the increase in talent with corresponding teams with large spending power.

        This is the root to our problem we have to solve at the moment, how to get the best out of the team. NO amount of spending in the market will help.

    3. +7 Vote -1 Vote +1Eurazian

      Is it really about the money?

      Money helps, but here are things that can be accomplished without spending millions:

      * Learning how to defend set pieces.
      * Working on new tactics (so we don’t get humbled by Man U every time in exactly the same way).
      * Radically experimenting with playing players in their NATURAL positions.
      * Tinkering with a formation that gets the best out of our personell.
      * Practising penalties.
      * Working on the individual weaknesses of certain players (teaching Chamakh and Gervinho to shoot, Santos to defend, and Walcott to dribble).
      * Instilling desire and hunger in our players.

      When I have coached junior teams in the past, that’s the sort of stuff we did every week. And it’s the same stuff that is clearly not getting done properly at Arsenal – if it was, we would have won something in the last 7 years. So what the fuck is going on at training? What the fuck is Arsene currently doing to justify his huge salary?

      Arsene is like a hippy parent who encourages his children just to express themselves and discover their own journey to happiness. Instead we need a Tiger Mom.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        …well yes if you have huge sums to burn but even so, tactically, we have not gotten the best out of the assets we have.

  16. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1gunnerdoc

    Really sad days in the Arsenal tribe!Wenger’s the visible head of the zombie and for good reasons:he’s handsomely paid despite a trophy drought and ultimately(Gazidis has implied as much)decides transfers in and out of the club and which players get new contracts and even wages.However,the real head of the zombie is the board that ceded such unprecedented powers in modern football to ONE mere mortal,admittedly one that’s both a polyglot and a polymath.A board that sold out to a visionless and passionless stay-aloof investor thereby making millions in the process and still remaining on the board despite selling the family heirloom.A board that played on a highly talented and driven manager’s ego and sense of loyalty by entrusting him with the improbably messianic vision of competing successfully with incredibly-resourced rivals and thus made heroic failure first inevitable,then a club identity leading to the current dilution of standards and complacent listlessness.If the board survives Wenger’s exit,the club will remain in a morass.

  17. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1carpe duvet

    I thought Rosicky was good and Jack’s getting better. Poldi’s lost, Gervinho is a headless chicken, the Ox was poor, and Verminator’s poor defending led to their goal. Coquelin was okay, Santi tried, and apart from the captain the defence were okay.

    Nothing to get too worried about – probably a good thing to lose in the end. Silverwear with no CL is fools gold. With a proper striker (I like Giroud but he’s no Henri) and better wingers the team can still do the business.

    Sometimes this sort of rubbish streak is important for the mid to long term genesis of a new side with new understanding.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Exactly.

      A bit of levity. What did you expect, that we were going to win the league cup?

      In fact, I thought it unwise of Wenger to add focus to our already fragile first team so recently recovering. Frankly, I would have paid more attention if he had reverted to using the Capital One Cup as a development cup (mixed in with a healthy does of experience, we have enough lay abouts on the bench)

      It’s the FA cup we need to bring some focus on.

      That he played the first team albeit unbalanced, and we lost backfired. We are now back to potential damaging consequence on the psyche of first team confidence.

  18. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

    Ok. Let me put it this way.

    We’ve been trophyless and that’s bad.

    We’ve been top 4 and that’s good (not great)

    Will more money coming in help us close the (now significant) gap? Yes it will.

    Will a new manager improve us? Could. Or could do harm.

    All things considered, I still don’t think it’s worth it to change managers. It’s risky, and it’s mostly borne out of exasperation with all that is wrong with us and worry (constantly reinforced by the media) that we’re gonna fall by the wayside. It ignores what is good with us, what we’ve been through, and what changes are likely in our situation and the entire football scenario.

    Maybe Wenger has given us all he can. But I’d still rather give him a chance to show us conclusively once and for all what he can do when he doesn’t have to go for a zero net transfer spend. If he can’t give us more, so be it. I suspect he can, and I’d rather be sure.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +11NilToTheArsenal

      I’m not ready to change managers, at least not until May, and that depends a lot on what happens from now until then. We need a change in the manager, or maybe a reversal of form.

      We (he) used to be ruthless. There was heavy competition for places. If you didn’t cut it you were gone baby, gone. Those turn-of-the-century squads had an unquenchable desire to fight to be in the squad and to win.

      It’s the reverse now, a 180-degree turn to where the mighty Arsenal has become some sort of namby-pamby molly-coddled kindergarten version of a Premier League team.

    2. Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

      I truly admire your optimism Shard, it’s almost sublime in it’s perspective.

      Would love to have you as my boss. I would never be terminated as long as my work is mediocre or better.

    3. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1goonerdonut

      How much time does he get? What debacle has to transpire before it’s time to say “enough”? Finishing outside the top four? Top ten?

      There will always be next transfer window, next season, when Diaby is fit (he’s like a new signing!), etc. My question is: When do we call time on a legend? It’s perfectly reasonable to say that we’ve reached the sell-by date.

    4. +6 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      You should know this by now, I don’t read the media.

      My opinion is formed by studying the facts.

      “Shoot it in the fucking head” does not refer to any person. That would be irresponsible. It refers to the system, this is a systemic problem and it needs to be dealt with systemically.

      £100m extra per year from a few new shirt deals will not make a dent in Arsenal’s ability to compete monetarily with Barcelona, Real Madrid, Man City, Man U, and Chelsea.

      Only a philosophical change at every level of the club will change things.

      Wenger has made one astute purchase in the last five years, Arteta. Mertesacker is not the organizational genius everyone thinks he is and can’t win a header to save his life – he’s been basically dropped by Germany. Vermaelen is a mistake a game player, big mistakes, leading to big goal chances. Koscielny is an own goal machine. Cazorla is a great midfielder who finishes slightly better than Gervinho and takes more shots than all the forwards combined. And Sagna, Arsene’s last solid buy, was purchased 6 years ago.

      I don’t know who is buying players at Arsenal, I don’t know who is selling players at Arsenal, and I don’t know who is renegotiating contracts at Arsenal but I don’t think they should be allowed to spend any more of Arsenal’s money because they have fucked the proverbial pooch.

      And don’t give me this shit that Arsenal couldn’t afford the players or find them. Cabaye was a no-branier, Arturo Vidal was a no-brainer, Mark Schwarzer was a no-brainer, Gary Cahill was a slight brainer but he’s been great for Chelsea, on and on, whoever is buying players at Arsenal is simply incapable of valuing them correctly. Any that’s how we end up with one of the fattest payrolls in world football and a team of grifters who can’t beat Bradford.

      Could you imagine if the Washington Generals actually came to play one day and beat the Globetrotters? And what if they did that 15 times in the last year and a half?

      That’s what we are looking at, man.

      1. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Eurazian

        Your mention of Cabaye reminds me bitterly that of all the stars who won the title with Lille who have since been sold – Hazard, Cabaye, Rami, Sow – we ended up with Gervinho.

      2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1GiantCalGunner

        A post and associated comments that reference the Trotters, Washington Generals, Marxism, zombies… and a goonerdonut (does that have sprinkles on it?).

        What i come here for.
        THIS is what no other PL team blogosphere community can offer.

        Nice work Tim. Cheers. Go Gunners.

        Glad most everyone else has finally come around on Gervinho and Ramsey. They have no place on a PL side that intends to honestly contend for a title. I used to take a lot of flack with that position, but the flackers have gone awfully quiet…

      3. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Eurazian

        Truth be told, I’ve still got time for both Ramsey and Gervinho. Conditionally, of course.

        They shouldn’t be first choice at the moment. They need to be played in their correct positions. And they need proper coaching to iron out their deficiencies. Both probably need sports psychologists.

        Ramsey was at one point destined to be one of the best British midfielders. Gervinho was the best player in Lille’s title-winning season. A different manager might whip these guys into shape and extract the talent that we know is there.

      4. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Jop

        I can only speak for myself, but I still have time for Ramsey. He’s 21, lost a year to injury and a mentor in Gary Speed. He still has much to learn. He occasionally shows his talent. And even Fergie thought he was worth a punt. So there must be something bubbling under the surface there. A less pressure filled environment would do him wonders, a loan somewhere for a year?

      5. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        We have decent players enough.

        Metersecker has been solid enough. Vermaelen is gathering old form. Koscielny is inconsistent but very good when on song.

        What we have a problem with is the engine room in midfield.

        Considering it is Santi’s first season, he is doing good. jack has only recently come back from a VERY long lay off and has never played with either Spaniard.

        That considering,t he midfield (agst WBA) is finally starting to find its feet.

        But it doesn’t have enough critical depth. Coquelin is raw still and needs chaperoning. Diaby is as usual crocked. Ramsey offers not enough at the moment.

        The one bright spark returning is Rosicky who can add some option providing the link play between Arteta and the more forward deployed mid in say Jack or Santi. For that matter, he gives us options to play Santi wide and have Jack still on the team sheet.

        He also should be considered as a more aggressive (AND critically) experienced player to hand hold Coquelin if Arteta needs some rotation (not done at WBA)

        ALSO, whilst some players have flattered to deceive, writing them off on previous form without considering their current condition is to me as myopic as closing the case on Ramsey@21.

        Arsharvin has been fitter and hungrier this season. He is also a more creative player and incisive passer than Ramsey without sacrificing too much defensively since Ramsey is an equal liability. Particularly considering the return of GIbbs, it is baffling to me that we consider us short on options when we leave him off of even the bench.

        Simply put, we are not utilising our assets to the best of our abilities.

        Point in case Walcott. I was critical at start of season that Wenger had elected to drag the issue into the new season. BUT, having said that, I saw no point to Walcott being left out of a slew of games when we had him available because the manager was trying to create better contract leverage.

        for the same reason, whilst not saying Arsharvin is the cure to all our ills, I do think we are again wasting a useful asset and one that can interact well with Santi’s more nuanced mind and also provide more incision into Giroud from LW. but we are where we are alas.

      6. Vote -1 Vote +1JV Mauer

        Just an historical footnote, but the Generals did actually beat the Globetrotters, once. The General’s players were all sumarilly fired after the match.

      7. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        Cabaye isn’t that great considering we have Rosicky.

        Wenger tried to get Sahin which in itself was an admission of the gap left by Song.

        I do believe what we really need at the moment is someone to cover for the loss of Diaby’s physical presence for certain situations.

        thereby someone like Capoue who has the frame and feet could cover both Diaby and Arteta. I’ve read some rumours on Luiz Gustavo (ex Hoffenhiem currently frozen out at Bayern). 6’2 frame, midfield destroyer with (crucially) some dynamics to add going forward where MVilla tends to be more strictly defensive and Cabaye lacks the presence (particularly height) we need which comes in handy against games featuring say fellaini.

  19. +7 Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

    Caribkid,

    Yeah. Thanks for that. I’m touched by your acceptance of my acceptance of ‘mediocrity’.

    mediocrity, we aren’t there yet. We’ve always been in the top 4. That’s in the top 20% in the league, and better than most clubs in Europe for consistency.

    As for the 7 years argument, I’m sorry, I don’t buy it. It hasn’t been a constant state of decline unlike what has become a popular refrain. There have been many factors which prevented us from winning, among which is also the manager’s influence on his squad, granted. In the same 7 years the stadium has come up, the oil clubs have distorted the market, and the rest of the league has increased its spending and income (which we couldnt really do with the commercial deals locked in) You know the spiel by now. But just because it’s repeated so often doesn’t make it less significant.

    Why would he change now? He’s always changed. He was criticised for not giving the academy players any chance in the first team. Then for giving them too many chances. He played 4-4-2, then 4-3-3, and then whatever the hell shape we play now. What’s changed now, is the fact that we have more money coming in. The need for the current wage structure with people earning on potential has diminished. The need for austerity is reducing. If he doesn’t change with that, then sure, it’s on him (or on someone at the club) But what I do believe is that Wenger has Arsenal’s best interests at heart. He might not match your expectations, or even his own. But his intentions, to me, are above reproach.

    When did watching football become about obsession with trophies? Winning trophies is the by product of playing well. We aren’t playing well and that concerns me. Just because every other club would sack their manager doesn’t mean we should.

    The team aren’t playing for the manager. The players don’t care about the fans. Board only cares about enriching themselves. Wenger is on an ego trip. All suppositions and desperate attempts to try and make sense of something about which we know very little. Ultimately, I don’t like micro managing. I still trust Wenger because I believe he’s worked in trying circumstances and has managed the entire transition of Arsenal to become a truly big club very well. The smaller issues don;t change my faith in the philosophy and that it is the right way to do things. For the state of the team, I believe he can, and will fix it, and that he deserves a chance to try.

    By the by, I also believe in self fulfilling prophecies.

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

      I guess we will have to agree to disagree about “mediocrity”.

      Definitely think that based on our wages and class of players in the squad we have been mediocre.

      And yes, everything changes. However, I prefer positive ones.

    2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

      BTW, only time will tell who get’s this right. I would be more than willing to eat humble pie if it turns out I am wrong for that would mean that Arsene and in turn, The Arsenal, has succeeded.

      1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Gunman

        well except ‘succeeded’ is again relative isint it? For all i know We could finish fourth and I might say it was a great achievement and you might regard it as another failure to win trophies and hence 8 failed years.

        As for me , I am with Shard.. silverware is by product of playing well and not otherwise and personally I’ll see it as a success if we manage to be top 4 this year , start being competitive again and start playing and passing like we used to.

      2. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        I’m not holding my breath given the erratic nature of our games and some baffling team selections, but we are still close on 3rd, have the FA cup and (for what its worth…likely a matter of time) are still in the CL.

        3rd and the FA cup would be good going given current issues.

  20. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1GoonerNC

    What’s tempting to do right now is to use an event and treat it as a lens to look backward, or to look at previous events and use them as a lens to examine this one. I think we can only really analyze this one game and treat it not as a microcosm, but as an event among a series of events of which we must find the aggregate.

    Yes, Arsenal have lost to all of those teams mentioned. But in the data is also some pretty substantial play against better teams. And some mediocre/effective stuff in the middle. The problem is that the data set seems to be skewing more and more to mediocrity and disappointment.

    I maintain that Arsene Wenger is a legend and has performed well above what almost any manager could do in the past 5-7 years. But the past doesn’t explain the present or necessarily provide predictive value for the future. The past is the past. And it seems, increasingly, that Wenger’s powers may have stopped evolving. I think he was incredibly good at finding market inefficiencies and arbitrage in the game. But I don’t have any current evidence to suggest that he is still finding areas to exploit.

    I desperately want to believe that Wenger can/will turn it around. But the performance against West Brom and Tottenham are, depressingly, starting to appear to be the blips rather than the losses to Norwich and Bradford. I think we’re almost definitely trending downward and, no, I don’t think that’s all Wenger’s fault. Or maybe even mostly his fault. But it is not 0% his fault. And at this level, with margins so narrow, it may be enough to get him fired at the season’s end.

    I don’t think we should can him now, mid-season. I don’t think he’s earned that. I think he may have earned a polite invitation to leave at the end of the season. I hope someone can come in and re-salvage the identity of what Arsenal has been, the identity that Arsene helped create. I want dizzying passing, fast counter-attacks, and bastards who refuse to lose. I want that because Arsene taught me to want that. I hope that when he leaves, we can all appreciate the man and thank him for all that he has given us and all that he made us believe about football.

    He is a legend. And these present events can’t take that away.

    1. +5 Vote -1 Vote +11NiltotheArsenal

      “I want dizzying passing, fast counter-attacks, and bastards who refuse to lose. I want that because Arsene taught me to want that.”

      EXACTLY! Well said.

      1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1jaymin

        We’re going to have to get used to sausages, as the caviar, at least the non-farmed kind, is frankly priced all out of sorts!

      2. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        Which is the issue I have with the way statistics is used on this blog sometimes. Half a picture.

        Granted we are doing the hiccups at the moment but there have been encouraging signs.

        Frankly, I’d have to say what did you expect at start of season given who we lost and who we brought in, the need to breed familiarity with new faces etc.

        Don’t get distracted by ‘the players being not good enough” argument. This is the main issue, that we have consistently over several recent seasons failed to secure our top performers and most experienced players.

        Granted some were clearly out of our hands but we could have done better with a couple of others.

  21. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tee Song

    Yes, Arsene is a legend. No, nothing can take away the three BPL titles, four FA Cups including two double winning seasons, and the Invincibles. But very few coaching legends end their careers on a high note. Circumstances change and they fail to adapt, unable to recreate the legendary teams for which they became famous. Fergie managed it, unlike many others. Will Wenger? I’m beginning to seriously doubt it. Whatever, these are certainly the darkest days of his tenure.

    And their is a legitimate fear of what happens after Wenger, whenever that happens. AFC right now stands for Arsene’s Fan Club. Wenger doesn’t stand at the top of the pyramid. He’s become the very foundation of the club. There is not a single player, coach, administrator, board member, or shareholder who holds him accountable. Players and coaching staff were brought here by him. The board and executive staff won’t question him. What will happen in the power vacuum that results when he leaves? Quite frankly, I fear Wenger’s cult of personality has become too woven into every aspect of the the club to ensure a smooth transition, especially if he’s forcibly removed. And if Wenger is able to choose his own successor, I wonder if that will result in the change in direction the club needs.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Not to mention one undefeated season which I should mention we carried the likes of senderos and reyes.

      But the landscape is very different now, much more competitive. and the loss of critical players every season has sapped away our strength and belief over time (granted Wenger has continued to introduce new talents but they need time to sync)

      I won’t worry about what may happen to Wenger because frankly, if we fail to qualify for CL and continue with poor form next season, his position will become untenable.

      What I think is critical for us to remember now (Without getting over reactionary) is that there is till much to play for. 3rd spot is still within close reach and FA cup is a possibility. CL seems far fetch but we are still in it.

      Granted title to me has run away and we have (As per usual) exited the mickey mouse cup, effort must be focused on getting the best out of the team and in particular the midfield engine.

  22. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    Rumor has it that Pep Guardiola is ‘interested’ in Arsenal should Wenger ‘step down’ or choose not to renew. Once again I must caution about getting our panties in wad about this. A couple of things. He’s the king in waiting so his name is at the top of the media’s wish list. I will predict that his people will put out a disclaimer in the next day or two because it is so gauche to speak about a job when the incumbent is still alive and kicking.

    I’m surprise the media aren’t trotting out the usual foreign manager names like Bilic and anyone Dutch (except for Bergkamp who isn’t ready yet). Adams will never be ready.

    Once again I want to emphasize that for the first time in my memory Arsenal in a Carling Cup game went with a squad that was as strong as their EPL game side and they stunk up Bradford. That is the sad commentary on this season. Calls for spending money in January are not the answer because anyone we buy will be shite. The players we need to be looking at are not the ‘name’ players. We need to find ‘Sagna’, and ‘Eduardo’ type players again. Our answer to the Ba’s, Michu’s and Cisse’s. Players who are ready to explode when given the chance, Not your ‘Podolski’ who blew it Bayern Munich or Huntelaar who blew it at Real Madrid and AC Milan.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Pep Guardiola.

      He has been successful in only one club and one league and much of that had been built up for him already.

      He is not proven in 4 different league as say Mourinho.

      What makes you think he can turn things round?

  23. Vote -1 Vote +1Jop

    It is sad it has reached this point. All things end, it is inevitable, but in such ignominy.

    I do hope Wenger writes and publishes his Memoirs, I am deeply interested in a clearer picture of these years.

  24. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1dy

    I say it all boils down to buying the wrong kind of players that we actually need. No its not money, its the wrong choice of recruiting, maybe except Arteta.
    I don’t understand at all if Chamahk doesn’t work, then why Giroud ? If Giroud is Arsenal’s prime target then how does Arsene expect Podi, Walcott, Gerv to provide the perfect cross ? Rumours say Nani could be an addition, that would be the day but seriously Red Nose won’t allow the sale and if he did, it’s because Nani has a problem which would be detrimental to us.

  25. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

    Tim,
    I wasn’t suggesting your opinion was based on the media, just that the media reinforces that worry, and has done for years before it was a worry. That tends to have an effect.

    Anyway, so what philosophical change would you advocate that would help us if 100m smackeroos won’t? An Usmanov, or some Sheikh? Yeah, THAT is a straw man. But for the rest it is a genuine question because I’m at a loss as to what that is. As far as I know our philosophy was to increase revenues, build a global brand, and use that to drive performances on the field. So far the last hasn’t happened, and the first two are just about happening now. People keep saying 7 years and how long were we to wait. But the payoff has been delayed by the rise of the Oil clubs, and (conspiracy theorist alert) by shit decisions given against us by shit referees.

    Anyway, with Arsenal’s recruitment being terrible, and Wenger’s refusal/inability to switch tactics, and all the flaws everyone is so keen to highlight, I can agree with those. There are flaws there. But how do we still manage to stay in the CL. and it’s not just about that. We’ve been competing, but for one reason or another, just haven’t crossed the line. Not all of those reasons are to do with Wenger.

    I actually agree with Eurazian about Wenger being like a ‘hippy parent’. Him not being a ‘tiger mom’ is probably one of the reasons why we’ve not managed to retain the title. But as I said earlier, that attitude is what got us the Invincibles. That artistic ideal is what he aspires to which no one else does. Not Ferguson, not Mourinho, or even Pep (He’s untested outside of the best team in a generation) You feel that time is gone and won’t return again, and you highlight the facts such as players we didn’t buy but could have afforded. You also bring up the high wages. I thought this was understood that we overpaid players during the early years of the stadium so that we could at least keep a team. Nobody would poach Denilson away because nobody would pay him 80k to beat our 60k. And we hope that they deliver. That can be criticised but it kept us in the top 4, and it was probably necessary at the time. What we have now is a legacy of that. And by the way, a quick dismantlement (such as is happening) is probably the fastest way to fix the wage balance in the squad.

    As for training and tactics. Give any coach in the world, such a high churn in players, losing key players every year. Having to basically give a zero net transfer spend, and tell them to transfer their ideas and philosophy to the players, and they’ll struggle. Maybe some will deal with it quicker, but invariably they will be of a defensive mindset. Defense is easier to coach than attack, and under Wenger we will always try to be an attacking team. (I know we’re failing at the moment)

    4th isn’t good enough now. We should be doing better. But we still carry the weight of the stadium move and the relics of that move are highly paid players, and a team dismantled by poachers. In such circumstances, I don’t think any coach can do much better. Stale is better than change for change’s sake. So I ask you again, what philosophy would you advocate for us to get out of this hole?

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Gunman

      While I completely agree with what you have said above and here as well and this pretty much exactly what i think as well when it comes to Wenger . I understand how we have suffered without the money and I agree that our poor performances this year are more to do with this team being new and not having an identity yet . But its the mistakes he makes which are so obvious again and again that irks me like for couple of years till we had only RvP as the only Good striker at club, If only we had a decent 2nd choice striker he wud have scored late on vs barca , again Wenger took gamble last year and we were extremely lucky RVP was fit whole season, him persuing with Almunia that long, why dint he get a decent 2nd choice keeper last year or even this year ? And this year again we have 1 striker even he is new and unsettled still and if he misses out we have to start Gerviniho ? . He keeps ignoring the simple problems especially regarding strikers and keepers . I mean United’s 5th choice striker which ended up leaving them for fulham was better than our first choice . I like Giroud i do , but fact is most team’s first choice striker is better than ours and EVERY team’s second choice striker in PL is better than ours . I still want to keep Wenger and want him to prove us wrong but I cant get over all these situations he keeps ignoring season in season out now.

      1. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Eurazian

        For several seasons, we were perennially one player short. A keeper, or maybe a central defender.
        This season, we are in need of replenishment all over the pitch. Another striker, a backup keeper, a proper winger, a midfielder with a bit of muscle. But even if we do go out and buy these players, what’s to say a guy like Huntelaar won’t find himself out on the right wing while Gervinho plays centre forward?

      2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        That is a poor excuse. Most teams even United and Chelsea have depth issues.

        Chelsea are fully reliant on Torres at the moment.

        What we are not doing as well is getting the best out of the team simply as you have illustrated because we use players in bizarre positions and have lacked tactical flexibility.

  26. +1 Vote -1 Vote +11steved1

    As much as I agree about most things you say 7 Today’s (and other Arse writings today) sound all very Piers Morgan.
    Don’t fall for it

  27. +4 Vote -1 Vote +11steved1

    We’ve had a shitty ish start to the season! So what! We’ve got a bloody decent team capable of loads ( even this season ). Yes replace Chamakh, yes add some depth in Jan but obituaries and Zombies…..come on.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Agreed.

      There is still plenty to play for.

      I think the frustration is born solely because there has been an expectation (because of the way we started) that we may have been able to compete for the title.

      Other than that, if the title issue is taken out, we are not far off to our minimum standard with still a reasonably realistic added bonus to aim at in the FA cup (Fuck All I know), and possibly if we can muster a good deep run into the CL with lots of luck.

      Orbituaries and zombies are for those who lack fighting gumption.

      if the players turned up with this same attitude displayed, we may as well forget fight backs that have happened (Reading, Spurs) and clawing back up the ladder…since it seems a forgone conclusion.

      Lets push for as high as we can.

  28. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Philbet

    You have imploded mate, you have gone way over the top, yes it was a bad, even a disastrous match but for the above rant ‘come on’, footballs not life and death its a sideshow,a brief relief from the mediocrity of everyday life, win or lose,we all hopefully get by until the next fix,we have no divine right to win ever,we hope to but cannot control enough, to make sure we do, things that are really important to you and me are death, illnesses,war,family,health ,if you are sure of waking up tomorrow the football team you support is just an interest, if you don’t wake up tomorrow, well its an irrelevance, now that’s important !!!
    Phil.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Yeah. United got kicked out of CL group stage last season.

      City this season (Should have had at least enough to finish above Ajax)

      There have been other reversal of fortunes.

      We have issues but it isn’t quite the end of the world just yet.

      That happen Dec21st.

  29. +6 Vote -1 Vote +1Gunman

    It was understandable if media did it but i hate it when our own fans play the ’7 year’ tune ( . We had a great team in 2007-08 and it was a footballing travesty we dint win anything that season ( thanks to refs both CL and PL) , and a great team in 2009-10 too . And frankly even when we dint win anything in 2007-08 season i was disappointed yes but at the same time still happy as I had the pleasure of watching the best and most fluid football team in the world . I mean we were watching our Kids in Carling cup Trouncing PREMIER LEAGUE teams , the likes of Vela scoring hattricks on cup debut vs league opponents. We might not have won but I have been fucking proud of my team for most of these 7 years. Last year and this year we havent been competitive and that I would agree. But people saying we havent been great or competitive for 7-8 years is bullshit. Its only season before to an extent and this season which we have been poor really.

  30. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Cliffy

    Get off this Rant….NOWWWWWWWWWWW…!!!!!

    zombie….shooting the head…orbituary..?!

    Helloo….We aint even fucking dead…yet..

    So we lost to Bradford with our team, who should have been anhilated by a premier league side like us…They scored on a set piece and defended like their lives depended on it…Whats the odds on Cazorla missing an opening penalty? Is it any better than Gervinho missing a sitter..
    Ramsey and Podolski had really bad games, probably because at the moment, they seem like too much assured of places, given the competition is from a contract shy Walcott and lazy ass Arshavin..

    To me the crucification of Gervinho is much like the one against Walcott a few seasons back….Now almost every one seem to believe that losing Walcott will be a disaster…

    Consistency is what is lacking and We need to get a group of players to play on games atleast 3 in a trot…which is not happening…A tweak here, tweak there is Ok..but not the midfield swapping places or pushed sideways…
    I think we have the players..the next 6 PL matches will be the chance….

    Not getting off the bus, mid way…!! C’mon Arsenal…!!!!!!!

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tee Song

      Walcott has become crucial not because he’s a great player. He’s still inconsistent and lacks the technical quality of many of his peers (wide forwards on other Champions League teams). But if we lose him, who do we have left in terms of goal scoring. He’s crucial because we lack other choices. Gervinho is at best, less consistent (or more consistently poor than good), Ox is too young yet, Cazorla we can’t afford to move out of the middle, Ramsey out of position and probably buckling under the pressure being placed upon him, Arshavin is only good for tricks and can’t be motivated to do the other 90% of the game. It’s actually not a good thing that Theo has suddenly become the key piece of our offensive puzzle.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        Walcott.

        As critical as he is to us at the moment with goals and as good as he has become, I think we can afford to lose him PROVIDED we buy someone to replace.

        And I think we will be better for dynamics (given we have a number of direct pacy options developing) if we bought someone with a bit more craft and nuance out wide.

        Someone like Konoplyanka (@23)say who has pace but also the vision to create (back up Santi) or replace Arsharvin as well.

        That said, I believe the reason why Wenger has dragged the whole Walcott mess into this season is because he is likely willing to pay close to the amount Theo is looking for (and honestly all this nonsense about him having certain special clauses to play through the middle is unfound and rubbish)

        Wenger is likely to weigh his options (offers) in January. If the money is good enough, he will sell. If not, he may consider biting the bullet but emphasis likely on the former as he can replace from market with better.

        …the fear of course is that he considers promoting the youth which will be a mistake.

  31. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1darud

    I have a recurring nightmare, a dreadful dream which wakes me in a cold sweat: STANLEY IS IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL! It’s been almost an article of faith with me that as soon as Stanley saw a healthy profit, he would sell off his shares and depart like a thief in the night. I am not so sure any more. Far from it. For the greatest enigma of all hidden in the smokescreen surrounding the Emirates is Stanley himself. Actually, not just here, but over there, too. What motivates him? Nobody knows. He is a business man whose business is sports franchises – and yet he claims he has never taken a cent out of any of them. This seventeen years after acquiring his first? If not profit, then perhaps glory? No evidence of that, not a scrap – the trophy record of his sports outfits is mediocre to say the least. Publicity, personal profile? On the contrary, he’s almost as reclusive as Howard Hughes. A move onto the political stage eventually? Not a chance, who would vote for him. Expensive toys for him to play with? But he doesn’t play with them, his henchmen do. So it must be profit, right? And that’s when my nightmare starts up: LONG TERM profit. Heaven help us!

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Frankly I don’t have any problem with silent Stan :

      1) He isn’t restricting both Gazidis or Wenger form running the club the way they want it.

      2) He hasn’t frozen spending or saddles us with debt ala Glazer style

      3) He isn’t disruptive to the team/manager in intrvening and sacking managers ala Abramovich style (not that he can muster similar resource)

      4) That he knows little about football, it would not be wise to have him weigh in and put pressure (select replacement manager) on every turn of the road.

      5) Usamov makes the right noise at the right time but he knows no more than Stan nor cares more about football than the American.

      The issue is not Silent Stan. The issue is with Wenger, tactics, player retention and such.

      Where I agree Stan can be slightly more constructive is to help address the retention issue. But as we are not privy to the inner workings, who is to say this has not been discussed at length?

  32. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Ramgun

    You are right. The Hitler reference was in bad taste. I am sorry. I do not withdraw one word of the gist though.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Chamberlain is developing at a faster pace than Walcott.

      ditto Jack to Ramsey.

      Eisfeld should also push for first team. Gnabry is very promising considering his age.

      Miquel I think should push out Djourou in due course.

      Meade I like but I get the feeling his height is a handicap.Why can’t we stretch him?

  33. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1SG_Gunner

    Thank you Shard for all the positivity. By the way, I know we lost to a league two team and it was a useless performance but calling for manager’s head is a lame response. In fact, I am happy they are out of the mickey mouse cup. We don’t have a team for 3-4 competitions and i would actually fault Wenger for again succumbing to pressure (like in 2010 when our good league run was affected due to Carling cup adventure which culminated in that disastrous final) and fielding 1st team regulars for this match. We should have stuck with reserves and youngsters. I wonder if board were pressurising him to play strong teams for this competition? It is not the end of the world as most Arsenal fans would like to believe. Just see below how ManU fared in 2006 with lot of star names there.
    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/sport/football/capitalonecup/4596641/The-football-League-Cups-biggest-upsets.html

    My point being, all big teams can lose to a small team on any given day. IT CAN HAPPEN. When Man U lost to Southend did that make their team shitty? No. Same way, we also need to pick ourselves up and move on.

    I have also noticed that Tim’s mood towards the current team and manager has turned decisively negative. Nothing wrong with that. He is entitled to his opinion. After such a game, even I would be pretty sour. But such a reaction piece did take me by surprise. We all know that TIm is a stats man but the thing with Stats is that they can easily be used to pursue any agenda a person wants. No one would know that better than Tim. So when you list down all those teams to which Arsenal lost since the 2010 league cup and tell me that we lost to all of them because they all used the same tactics, you are doing yourself a great disservice. I find it hard to believe that we lost to Swansea and Stoke because both pursued same tactics against us. It seems more of an emotional outburst rather than reasonable argument.

    I also don’t buy this “more training” argument. If we were winning regularly with the same team then everyone will be waxing lyrical about Wenger’s coaching. Wenger hasn’t changed his coaching system (whether for good or bad is open for discussion) and that is his prerogative.

    He has changed his coach (suddenly Pat Rice doesn’t seem such a bad dude as those muppets at LG always implied) and has a pretty new forward line and midfield. I am not surprised that we are getting such results. It is bound to happen when the team is trying to find a way to gel together. Everybody is learning to play together and follow Wenger’s system. If the players feel that they need more hands-on coaching then they need to communicate that to the manager/coaches and find solutions. These are experienced paid professionals we are talking about. The fact is that Wenger has always been a hands-off type of coach and it has worked for him and it has produced excellent results in the past for him. Wenger’s philosophy has always been to put in place a system where each player realises his full potential and overall improves the team. He has never been the type of manager who babysits his players telling them to do everything. It is a different style from someone like Fergie who may be more proactive. That is why, Wenger never gives too much importance to Captain’s armband. He wants each player to be mature enough to do his best. This captaincy issue works well for a game like cricket where the captain makes all the decisions on-field. In football, a captain is more of a figurehead. Does players in Barca care who is their captain? Would Arteta being captain make our strikers suddenly find their scoring boots. I find all these talk of Vermaelen being a bad “captain” hogwash. Also, this talk of Wenger not knowing tactics is so naive.

    This team needs to a) take responsibility b) believe in its own ability c) stop whining about who plays where. The system we play is so mobile that all our front three can be anywhere on the pitch. Walcott doesn’t need to be a CF to score goals. All this talk of playing as a striker is BS. He wants good money to play for us. Podolski has played on the left all his life for Germany. So how he is out of position i don’t understand. Amazing how suddenly Mertesacker has gone from a good organiser to an also-ran and Kos from being the best defender to own goal machine in Tim’s eyes.

    As we all know, when we want to find faults we can find it in the most perfect object. Right now Arsenal is in a season of transition, we know we have problems but are we as bad as some supporters want us to believe. I don’t think so. So thanks once again Shard for being the beacon of positivity ( not blind loyalty, mind you. Just reasoned arguments which very clearly tell us things from the other perspective. I don’t consider Wenger to be our saviour. I just think that he has done his best with the cards dealt to him) here.

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