Koscielny-Wenger

Arsenal’s lack of depth exposed badly as City hand them 2-0 defeat

 

Before kickoff against Manchester City yesterday, Arsenal supporters found out that Mikel Arteta is scheduled to be out for three weeks with a calf injury. This injury leaves Arsenal without their most effective volante or midfield rudder and taking a wild gamble Arsene Wenger handed Abou Diaby the job, which coincidentally was Diaby’s 19th start in three years. As could be predicted with a player that rusty, it was one of the worst midfield performances anyone has seen from an Arsenal player since Arsene Wenger rolled the dice and came up craps with Emmanuel Eboue as a defensive midfielder.

Despite Diaby’s woeful match it wasn’t his fault that Arsenal were beaten by Man City. That defeat followed a chain of events beginning with Arsenal’s summer transfer dealings and ending with linesman John Brooks telling the City players to go see the away fans who paid 62 quid. It was quite an extraordinary ending to what has been an extraordinary Arsenal season so far.

As I wrote this summer, before Robin van Persie left, Arsenal needed to invest £120m in players if they wanted to seriously compete for the League title. Spending money doesn’t guarantee you a trophy, Chelsea finished 6th last season (still, they won the Champions League), but not spending money on talent and selling your best players year after year has never won a championship. And it looks like this season, it’s not even going to win Arsenal the 4th place trophy.

Arsene is well aware of the problem this injury leaves and has promised that he is in the market for “players of a calibre of Arteta”. If he’s having difficulty, I would suggest that they look no further than Claudio Yacob from West Brom, 90% passing rate, 3.7 tackles per game, and never (ever) turns the ball over. One small problem, he’s 25 and apparently we don’t buy players in that age range any more. If Yacob seems like too big a gamble, how about Marouane Fellaini? He’s got a transfer fee built into his current contract. Or Maxime Gonalons? Or Ettiene Capoue? Or Moussa Dembele? Oh wait, all in the 25 year old range. Damn.

Or how about an actual forward? Arsene refuses to use Giroud there (until it’s too late), refuses to give Podolski a chance, and instead is teaching Theo Walcott how to be a center forward, on the fly, against teams like Manchester City. Walcott might be a great center forward one day, but right now, he’s terrible. He has no clue how to play forward and it shows as he was less effective in 90 minutes than Giroud was in just over 30. Perhaps if Walcott pulled it off we’d all be saying that Wenger is a genius, but the days where that phrase is uttered have become few and far between these last five years.

It’s not like everyone couldn’t see that this team needed reinforcements this summer, we all cried out for them. Then as the fall progressed we cried out once again. And now the window is open and Arsenal are in need of reinforcements but none look to be coming.

Koscielny-Wenger

Coincidentally, Arteta was out for 20 days last year after playing against Leeds in the FA Cup on 9th January last season. Arteta’s injury last year came after his 26th game in all competitions and after he had amassed 2270 minutes. This year, Arteta has played all 2340 minutes of 26 games. His last game this season was Swansea in the FA Cup on 6th January.

Arteta has not played more than 29 League games since 2006/2007. In fact, Mikel Arteta has only played more than 29 League games once in his career, 2006/2007 when he played 35. He has already played 20 League games for Arsenal this season.

How long before Santi Cazorla, who has played nearly every minute of every Arsenal game this season, goes down injured? He certainly looks fatigued. Since the hat trick against Reading, he’s put in a string of tired performances. Yet with Tomas Rosicky still sidelined and Andrei Arshavin in Arsene’s gulag, Cazorla has no real backup for his creative midfield position.

Meanwhile, Wilshere has been targeted by every opposition team this season and yesterday he suffered a season high 7 fouls by Man City, culminating in the red card foul by Vincent Kompany that could have easily broken Wilshere’s leg. Those were the fouls that Mike Dean decided to call, there were at least two fouls that weren’t called that left Jack in a heap. In return, Wilshere only committed one foul, for which he received a yellow card.

But despite their persistent fouling, Wilshere kept driving at the City defense and proved to be Arsenal’s most forward thinking midfielder as he completed more forward passes than any other Arsenal player with 24. Perhaps he will, like Theo Walcott, be forced to take on other duties as assigned and learn the Cazorla role where he can really get kicked and hacked to pieces.

Ramsey is the guy who did that creative role last season and he was introduced in the 61st minute for Diaby. Immediately, Ramsey provided the kind of spark that nearly dragged Arsenal back into the game. Perhaps he was feeling aggrieved at playing second fiddle to a player like Diaby, who got the start over Ramsey despite clearly lacking match fitness and any kind of sharpness with the ball. But whatever the reason, it was Ramsey’s incisive through ball that provided Arsenal with the best chance of the game.

Despite playing nearly twice as many minutes as Ramsey, Diaby completed fewer passes, fewer forward passes, and was a dreadful 73% passing (nearly 20 points below Arteta), often finding the touch line rather than a teammate with even simple passes. Perhaps there’s a world class midfielder inside Diaby somewhere, he does like to dribble a lot and people seem overly impressed with people who can dribble, but on the balance he looks frail and weak and too bland in attack to deserve a start over Ramsey right now.

Yes, the referees are clearly biased against Arsenal. Mike Dean is the worst and he has fomented his hatred of Arsenal among his linesmen who feel so comfortable that they can speak plainly on camera. But the problem isn’t Mike Dean, it’s that Arsenal lack squad depth. No other team in this League would have gone into an important game against a rival and started Abou Diaby in midfield and Theo Walcott as center forward. That’s what £120m in player acquisitions gets you. That’s what Arsenal needed this summer. Now, I suspect that it’s too late.

Qq

44 thoughts on “Arsenal’s lack of depth exposed badly as City hand them 2-0 defeat

  1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Mike

    I’m not a fan of the “refs are biased against Arsenal” argument, it’s so obviously biased itself. And the 25+ age bracket has seen a fair bit of action recently with Arteta, Santos, Podolski, Cazorla, Giroud, Arshavin…

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1limet

      Hart, Kompany, Yaya, Aguero is a SPINE. Cech, Terry, Lampard, Drogba was a SPINE. Lehman, Campbell, Viera, Henry was a SPINE. All great teams need a spine as a minimum and then some additional players of real quality. We have had quality players but not had a full set for years, with Campbell and Toure fading away, Lehman finally going kamikaze mental in the final few seasons and Henry, Fabregas and RVP departures. Right now Szczney is developing into that base but is a few years light, the CB¿s in front of him don¿t want to command instead trying to outdo each other with individual errors. In front of them, we have a lot of good support players in Arteta, Cazorla but no commander, Wilshere is a few years light still. In front of him neither Walcott or Giroud are strong enough to be the sting in the tale. Arsenal FC have no spine. Even last year we had some part of a spine with Szcz, Kos, Song, RVP and it was just enough to grab third with the help of the odd late goal and a slice of luck. Szczeney, Mertesacker, Wilshere (after a year out), Walcott. That is the spine of a top 8 side, not a top 4 one. Investment NOW, if it isnt this month, we will finish 6th. There i’ve finally said it. In 2009, i knew Villa would choke even though Arshavin brought the magic, even last year at our worst, i said we would scrape into the top 4 but if we dont bring in 2 or 3 big names to act as the glue and take this team by the balls, its all over this season.

    2. +8 Vote -1 Vote +1marek

      Hmm, have you evaluated this argument, or do you reject it simply because you’ve heard it only from Arsenal’s supporters? There are non-Arsenal fans who believe that Arsenal is the team most hurt by referees, season after season. There are stats to “prove” this. There used to be a website that purported to give info about gambling shenanigans that also noticed how pro-Utd and anti-Arsenal EPL refs were (many, not all). If there is anyone impartial in this debate, it’s the guys who are only trying to make an honest living by betting on games – and learning a referee’s biases is part of making that honest living…

      1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Eurazian

        The website Debatable Decisions keeps track of such things.

        Last season was a dire season for Arsenal in terms of refereeing decisions, kicking off in style with the Barton-Gervinho incident in the first game.

        This season, though… we’ve actually been the beneficiaries of lots of bad decisions, probably more than the ones that have cost us. We’ve had dodgy penalties and offsides go our way and not been given the other way. We might well be in the bottom half of the table without these generous ref calls. So I don’t think we can really play the victim card this season. Sure, lots of players get away with what Kos did, but it’s the right decision nonetheless, and we would complain long and loud if another team got away with that against us.

        But as Tim writes, Arsenal are still getting shitty treatment in the fouling stakes. Some things never change.

      2. Vote -1 Vote +1marek

        Yup, this season is different – maybe b/c we are no longer contenders? But if it comes down to Man Utd absolutely needing 3 pts against us, well, I fully expect Mike Riley to rise to the occasion…

    3. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      Mike? Mike Dean? Is that you?

      So, you’re not a fan of the “refs are biased against Arsenal” argument, are you? Here’s one example, published today (read the whole thing, up to the end where the writer talks about a similar Koscielny-like incident in a Chelsea game last year):

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2262230/Arsenal-win-seven-cent-games-Mike-Dean-referees.html

      Didn’t there used to be (or still is) a website out there that tracks how many ref decisions go against Arsenal compared to other teams?

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1CarsonWells

        That was Untold Arsenal. http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/referees

        I doubt we can seriously trust the reports they give. I’m aware of the credentials of their main man, there’s no disputing those. But …bearing in mind the arena in which they’re published, the editor, and a couple of other factors, it’s plain to see why the results from that site (which is still active) have remained, solely, on that site.

      2. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1CarsonWells

        They have a piece which is hilariously titled “The complete utter and disgraceful history of Mike Dean.”

      3. -2 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        Dean is a female reproductive organ.

        That said, I don’t think we should have much argument over Koscielny’s decision to hug Dzeko prematurely.

        Simply put, as good as Koscielny has been in patches he is also very prone to the colour red and own goals.

        Whilst I thought it harsh that we had Laurent sent off so early (The penalty to me was enough punishment at that stage), I don’t think it was clever of us (Laurent) to have given dean the excuse he needed. Bottomline.

        And whilst the decision coloured the game, I don’t think we should be using it as an excuse with being relatively toothless in the game..

      4. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

        While we can have no complaints about Koscielny’s sending off (though some debate whether Dzeko was in a clear goalscoring position (Tevez was in a better one) suggests that a yellow or just the penalty might have been a more fitting response), and we can’t blame the ref for losing yesterday, I think we can blame the referee for the way that Wilshere was treated. If any two or three of those seven fouls on Wilshere had resulted in a City booking (Wilshere got booked for his first and only foul), their midfield would have been far more cautious…and he was the one driving us forward. You can’t tell me such decisions don’t impact a game, and in a closer one, it really could have made the difference between a win or a loss.

        All that said, my main complaint these days is Wenger’s insipidness rather than the performance of any one referee. We’re a team that’s been in decline for several years now, and the manager seems content in allowing that decline to continue unabated.

    4. Vote -1 Vote +1DF

      Read this at dailymail:

      Stats from Opta show that in the 15 Premier League games Arsenal have played when Dean is officiating, they have triumphed just once, making it a winning average of just seven per cent.

      Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2262230/Arsenal-win-seven-cent-games-Mike-Dean-referees.html#ixzz2HzPFruPa
      Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

      It’s official! Arsenal have won just SEVEN per cent of recent games when ‘bogey’ ref Dean is in charge… compared with United’s 67 per cent record

      By DAN RIPLEY
      PUBLISHED: 17:08 GMT, 14 January 2013 | UPDATED: 17:56 GMT, 14 January 2013

      Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2262230/Arsenal-win-seven-cent-games-Mike-Dean-referees.html#ixzz2HzOyHR1Z
      Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

  2. +15 Vote -1 Vote +1Teampossible

    I’ve reached the point where the man I once almost idolised for fielding kids who reached the Carling Cup final on their own because they’ve earned it, now I regard as the ultimate cynic.
    And I feel really betrayed.

    I stumbled upon the ’08 Arsenal-Chelsea game a couple of days, where we won 1:0 with a Gallas header, but looking at the game, it was incredible how confidently the team was playing, and they had the combination of power and beauty, even though Hleb was a second striker.

    But these days, watching Arsenal play is a boring and painful experience, so much that I’m seriously considering taking a break until something changes.
    And even though I’m aware how shallow this makes me look and it will probably earn me a couple of -1′s, I can’t stand that stupid look on Koscielny’s face anymore.
    I know he is a good duy, I’ve seen the interviews and he does seem like a genuine ok fella, but that Pavlovian moment of a major fuck up in a game and a shot to Koscielny’s confused/disappointed face is just one grimace too many for me.
    Had to vent off, and will probably take some time off from commenting, because I honestly don’t see the point any more.
    I will however continue to read Tim’s blog though, because I haven’t miss a post since the summer of 2008 and don’t plan on starting now.

  3. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1ChitownArsenal

    What an utter catastrophe this season is, and I wish I could say we didn’t see it coming. Been years in the making. You’d think after barely eclipsing Spurs last year, we’d be really aggressive in the transfer market, but what happened this summer (more what didn’t happen) embodies how out of touch with reality Wenger and the board are. How did we assemble this large (and growing) pile of players we don’t trust? Look at this list:
    Diaby (he’s back but not for long)
    Rosicky (why did we re-sign him?)
    Santos
    Squillaci
    Fabianski
    Mannone
    Coquelin (if he can’t get a game in this side, he’ll never get a game)
    Arshavin
    Frimpong
    Gervinho
    Djourou
    Park
    Chamakh
    Bendtner
    Denilson

    So much wastefulness. We can’t get rid of any of these players until their contracts run up. In the meantime, we need a #1 striker, a #1 DM, a proper left winger, apparently now a #1 CB, a veteran back-up keeper, a #1 RB after Sagna leaves (and you know he will). What the bleep has gone on here? Watching from across the pond, outside the little Arsenal North Korean bubble that Wenger has established at the Emirates, it seems all too clear what to do. Where’s the will? The ambition? Fans really should stay away from the Emirates as that might be the only way to show that we’re seriously fed up with this gross negligence by the folks in charge. Time for a change, a mass clearout. Otherwise, we’ll be losing the likes of Jack and anyone worth a damn in a year or two.

    1. -2 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      As I mentioned before, I do think Wenger’s competitive advantages he had enjoyed in his earlier reign have been largely eroded due to several factors :

      1) Increase knowledge in French ligue. Where Wenger had previous monopoly on knowlegde of players here (coinciding with a particularly rich period in french talent), that (largely to his own credit) has now been eroded with teams like Newcastle fielding large contingent of French mercenaries.

      2) The changing nature of the PL. Where the PL use to comprise of largely English teams, that has changed with even smaller teams (say Swansea) employing a greater composition of non Brits who have brought increase technicality to these squads

      3) Increase in teams who can afford to out spend us and the rest of the league. The oil rich clubs have had a massive impact on the transfer market. Aside from increase in prices, we have also experienced an increase in wages. It has also push prices on hitherto ‘unknown’ players up which has meant the talent pool from which Wenger used to draw from has shrunk or has become more competitive.

      4) This above point has also affected our ability to get rid of players as we have tried to keep up with wages to detrimental effect. Where Wenger once had a wider selection of players to pick from on the continent, he is now forced to find value in niches and make higher riskier gambles on certain players. Hence the increase in number of duds over the recent seasons complicated by our inability to free up space because the wage gap between us and the following pack have increased (as a result of us attempting to keep pace with the rich clubs)

      5) All this has meant that Wenger’s advantages in the market have been cut down which has left his tactical limits exposed.

      This is the problem at the moment.

      I’ve said before that whilst we do need at least (in Jan) two additions (Striker and DM/Pivot), we are also deficient tactically.

      Bould to me is part of the institution and not the answer albeit he could yet provide some good work tightening up our back line (why do we always leave men unmarked at the far post???)

      That Wenger may be too stubborn to follow Fergie’s limited reinvention in bringing on a Carlos Quieroz may as much be due to the need for personality compatability as it is a reluctance on his part to cede full authority. However bearing in mind the need to eventually replace himself, I would have thought it sound for him to handpick at very least one or two candidates for succession and groom from within whilst cherry picking fresh ideas that they may bring.

      That said, i don;t see this happening and whilst I think we will likely see another year or so of the Wenger era if we qualify for CL again, the inability to get premier European footy coupled with continued unrequiting underperformance may see Wenger’s departure sooner than later following the season end.

      To that very end, we will have to be looking now at possible replacements, managers who down the line will share similar ethos to Arsene and can build upon the legacy. Laudrup comes to mind as maybe Deschamp (currently more heavily engaged) or Klopp (likely a Dortmund stalwart). Also Blanc possibly.

      There is time yet for Wenger to turn things around but I do think he has to first get his head out of his arse and resolve the Walcott issue quickly. It is weighing heavily on the January window at the moment and likely (if we renew) to continue at our detriment if the pandering to Walcott’s insistence in playing up front persist.

  4. Vote -1 Vote +1sevin

    Koscielny’s sending off is supposed to be justified- yet the ex- England captain has been doing this for years at Chelsea and gets away with it- why? Our central defenders, sorry all our defenders, have been poor this season and no-one takes any responsibility throughout the team- Cazorla, Diaby, Walcott and Gibbs hardly broke sweat did they? As soon as the sending off happened the players and supporters assumed there was no way back- how long ago was it when we won a Cup Tie against Liverpool and finished with nine men? “Spirit and mental strength”- you’re having a laugh Wenger! We charge the most expensive prices in world football to watch a mediocre team of misfits who can’t even do the basics- well done to our manager who continues to insult those who pay him and his “stars” with his tactics, formations, substitutions and selections. How can he be ousted? Impossible, only if he has the decency to resign will things improve. This tyrant has had his own way for far too long. I used to respect him for all he did for us, but that has turned into an active dislike and anyone who was at the ground yesterday will have heard, not for the first time these past two or three seasons, how anti Wenger most fans now are.

  5. +4 Vote -1 Vote +11NilToTheArsenal

    “..these days, watching Arsenal play is a boring and painful experience..”
    - Teampossible.

    What I saw more than anything on Saturday was a tired team, a tired manager and tired ideas, resulting in as as Teampossible says, a boring, painful and I might add, all too predictable experience.

    Lack of depth indeed, but it’s lack of belief as well. One of the most cynical performances from a team whose electrifying play and confident swagger are years gone now.

    It’s emotionally tiring to watch such tiredness. I am in London during our away game to Stoke and I am planning a visit to Emirates and to watch the match somewhere in an Arsenal pub on Saturday. Here’s hoping for some more mojo by then…

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Combined with the high ticket prices, the board has to realise that they risk flight of some of the more fickle fan base sooner than later (particularly if we do not secure the 4th spot…and even so, cumulatively due to under achievement)

      What price a couple of reasonable signings to give the fans at very least some hope that things will turn around? A 18m player and a 8-12m player should do it. We don’t have to spend for the moon let alone a blue one.

  6. +8 Vote -1 Vote +1Tee Song

    Watching Arsene and the current Arsenal team which he has put together is like watching Muhammad Ali at the end of his storied career. A once great champion, perhaps the greatest fighter the world has seen, losing to boxers he’d have toyed with in his heyday. A champion who wouldn’t listen to advice that he should retire because he couldn’t see how far he’d fallen from his prime. Arsene seems tired, uninspired, and unwilling to change anything about his system to accommodate new tactical and financial realities. Where he was once visionary, he now clings to the familiar, despite the fact that his old, familiar ways haven’t gotten the results he desperately craves. I want to see him turn this situation around but I am growing more and more convinced that he won’t change.

      1. -3 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        Concur.

        What Wenger needed was to identify his Carlos Quieroz. Instead he seems to fallen into the trap of safety.

  7. Vote -1 Vote +1crispen

    All you inspirational philosophers with your analysis and analogies need to realise one simple fact… We were a man down from the first quarter of the game to the best team in the league. It is NOT the end of the world. Funny how non of you have a solution except buy players. which ones,,how long will they take to adapt,,who is the new wonderful coach to replace AW??
    What a waste of space.

  8. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

    Can’t disagree.

    this squad looks at very least 2 players light.

    And the Walcott issue is a mistake perpetuated over the summer, linked to Song and RVP.

    We should have sold him in the summer and got on with it. Instead it has dragged through and likely is affecting (to some extent) the Jan window.

    Whilst he was good to see Diaby back, aside from Wenger, we all know the risk entailed in banking on his availability.

    Wenger mentions that it will be difficult finding someone of Arteta’s quality. Well, we also know we don’t need Arteta quality simply someone who can come close and crucially afford us a bit of added physicality in midfield. A host of French speaking players are available for likely reasonable prices – MVila, Capoue, Sissoko, Gonolans (Many of these lads MVila aside, 6’2)

    Also Sahin whom we likely chased for a loan last summer has left Mr Rodger’s fabled neighbouhood and is now on loan with Dortmund for 18 months!

    Up front, we looked toothless. Granted we were 10 men but you never got the feeling that we would seriously threaten the City backline.

    Giroud is a reasoable player but he is successful at the moment in patches. he is also a bit lumbering where the solution to this in Walcott was exposed for its flaws against City’s more discipline ranks.

    Simply put, Walcott should not be up front (unless we play naive defenses). Podolski to me is a better shout up top but for more urgent requirement for him out LW.

    In this regard, I see Wenger’s selections slightly more complicated as we should rightly be looking for a striker combining adequete speed with some cleverness around the box. They are a bit more scant at present.

    Albeit, what price Michu? @2m cost to Swans, surely we could be persuasive with them parting say 12m for the Spaniard. He is a clever player with reasonable mobility (compared to Giroud) and good height. If we moved for him VERY quickly Wenger, I’ll guarantee you one thing, he won’t be putting the ball in the back of our net come midweek.

  9. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Eddykane

    I think to walk out at this stage would be far to much for his pride to take. like a gambler who’s luck has run out he’s looking for one more roll of the dice to bring up something before he walks away. if i were him id write this season off. put all the eggs into the FA cup, hold it up then exit backstage and hand over to Pep. who will in turn start the revival over a few seasons and culminate in bringing Cesc back to claim the league at the emirates where Wenger will come dome from the directors box to embrace his prodigal son and everyone will weep with joy.
    Dot worry i have seen whats coming and it is good. just like i saw in January 2011 the lean years that were about to come when we were only couple of points of the top, and only an injury to a burnt out Djorou away from Squilaci. Ask my mate dave told him all about it.

  10. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1ClockEndRider

    “Perhaps he was feeling aggrieved at playing second fiddle to a player like Diaby, who got the start over Ramsey despite clearly lacking match fitness and any kind of sharpness with the ball.” May I suggest that the reason Diaby was played is that he gave us a physical presence. What doesn’t come across on tv is just how big a side City are. With Ramsay, Wilshere and Cazolra in midfield we would have had no chance at winning any headers and little physical presence. Putting Diaby in gave us some balance and the likes of Garcia and Barry, two v large not terribly talented footballers, something to think about.

    1. -2 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      I don’t think Coquelin is quite up to scratch at the moment.

      Mostly because I don’t think Wenger has played him enough in the games in which we could have afforded to blood him a little (league cup etc)

      There were quite a few opportunities which he should have played along side Arteta (as chaperon) to develop sufficient experience in the latter’s role (positioning). Again, opportunity spurned as Wenger opted for a more experienced line up and IMO over-prioritising the league Cup.

      Again, poor management of assets.

  11. +1 Vote -1 Vote +11NilToTheArsenal

    Surely there HAS to be a quality, relatively affordable defensive midfielder who wants to come to the Arsenal out there somewhere.

    Halfway through the month now, and it looks less and less likely to see any new faces come February. More drinking games required to get through the rest of the season!

  12. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

    BTW, just so you don’t think I am a Ramsey basher, I thought the young Welshman played well.

    Again, I remain unconvinced with wenger’s previous decisions to play him out of position at LW.

    Clearly he is more comfortable and effective from a central position. I am also encourage from the modicum of competitiveness he is currently instilling into his game.

    However that said, I do think we have (AGAIN) better options not used on the bench. Previously it was Arsharvin whom I thought looked hungry and fitter start of season and could have given us adequete/different options at LW (Opportunity to play Podolski centre). That he is gift wrapped for a phantom January transfer makes discussion on him at this point moot at best.

    But we do also have Rosicky back on the bench and I just wonder if the Czech schemer would have been more effective in the middle for us with his dynamism and experience against a big gun like Chelsea, particularly with Diaby playing beside him.

    Jack again put in a massive shift through the middle but the midfield looked again out of balance. I do think Santi relishes playing with players who can hold the ball or pick out good passes. There is no better player currently unused for unspecific reason than Rosicky at the moment.

    I’m not sure I’ll ever understand the thinking behind Wenger sometimes.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      …thereby I’m not sure we are entirely lacking in depth. We have also IMO been guilty of not using our assets efficiently enough.

  13. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1GoonerNC

    We’re stagnant in almost every way that I can think of. It’s frustrating as hell to see, but it’s also just plain sickening. I don’t know what needs to happen for something to change, but I wish it would hurry up and happen already.

  14. Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

    Couple things:

    1. I’m not saying that Theo is crap. I think he’s a fine winger and I think Arsenal should keep him. He could be a good center forward, but him learning on the job against City really bothers me. It also really bothered me when he abandoned his post the other day. I have 50% love and 50% hate for this player, it’s very odd.

    2. I’m very worried about Giroud. Why can’t he start over Theo Walcott against City? That was shocking to me. He’s hard working, he’s physical, and he flicks the ball into dangerous areas. Rather than stubbornly stick to a 4-3-3 while you give some on the job training for Theo — WHO STILL REFUSES TO SIGN, why not play Theo in a 4-4-2 or something that pairs him with Giroud? Just fucking bizarre. Giroud’s performance was pretty terrible last night, in fact, he reminded me of Chamakh and that’s inauspicious.

    3. My comment about 25 year olds in the article above was a reference to my earlier article about Arsenal mostly focusing on ~21 and 26~ recruits. Giroud was brought to Arsenal at 25 (just turned 26) and Gervinho was brought to Arsenal at 23. Prior to that it was Koz, and Vermaelen, and then all the way back to Sagna. I think! I should make a list. Or maybe some “intern” could do it for me?

    1. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1ilregistablog

      1) The thing which annoys me the most about Walcott is his lack of understanding of true effort, his extremely slow learning curve and his complete lack of fire in his belly. He should be tied to a chair and forced to watch the videos of Ivica Olic to see how a central striker in a 10 men team should play. He is like this princess of a spoiled date who can only dine at a Michelin star restaurant with the most expensive Grand Cru Burgundy wine. I am really sick of seeing him play center forward.

      2) Giroud did not start against City yesterday because due to a cut in his knee, he could not train at all last week. He got the cut against Swansea when he attempted that acrobatic volley saved by Vorm. I want to believe that his Chamakh-like performance yesterday was also due to not being able to train last week.

  15. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    I would venture to say that the physiology monitoring that warns of impending injuries should be screaming in the red zone for our players. There are now scans that can show early warning signs of muscle injuries that we should be using if we are not. I think Wenger is having to gamble on using red zone players because we have no depth. If I didn’t know better I’d say we were Everton and even they are above considering the size of their squad. So lack of squad depth is not a good excuse for what is ailing us.

  16. Vote -1 Vote +1FCArsenal

    Why is your tone so reactive?

    Walcott has a different match If it stays 11 v 11.

    Agree about the Diaby thing, maybe Coquelin could have been better..

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

      I disagree that Walcott has a different match if 11 v. 11. This is the same Theo in the same position as he played against Southampton and he played in the exact same way: not helping the midfield, and waiting to be spoon-fed the ball. In fact, if anything Theo deserves more of the blame because in a 10 v. 11 the striker needs to help the midfield MORE not allow himself to be less and less isolated. The more isolated he is up front, waiting for the Hollywood pass, the easier it is to defend him and his teammates in midfield. By not helping out (shown by the fact that he had fewer touches than Giroud) he put his team under enormous pressure.

  17. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Arsenal Letters

    So true. I keep saying the same thing about Walcott on my blog like a fucking broken record. I do not think Walcott even knows what it means to work his socks off. I am not anti-Walcott. He is useful on the right wing when he builds a good partnership with Sagna, but his extremely narrow description of “the duties of the centerforward” is infuriating.

  18. Vote -1 Vote +1Brahmabull

    I’ve turned the corner on Wenger. He needs to go.

    When you say things like it’s hard to find players comparable to Arteta on short notice in the transfer market, then either you are lying or incompetent. Wenger is far from incompetent. I would think that for every position in my club, as a manager of a top flight club, I would have dossier on at least a dozen players that it’s achievable for us to get in transfer and that have been thoroughly vetted by my scouts and by unofficial channels determining what the players’ wage demands might be should a transfer come up.

    I almost wonder sometimes if Wenger gets a commission on sales and a percentage of the transfer market profit.

    How does Coquelin or Ramsey not start in front of Abou Diaby this past Sunday? Disgusting. How are we not in the market for Loic Remy who would go to QPR… Remy is better than Walcott by quite a margin.

    This has all gone very bad. 6th place is beckoning and then what.

  19. Vote -1 Vote +1dy

    Walcott’s situation is really damaging Arsenal’s performance now, Don’t think he gives a shit about the team, its all about himself and the worst for us to see is Arsene is giving in to his demand, so it seems at least.

  20. +2 Vote -1 Vote +11NiltotheArsenal

    Walcott is a polarizing figure, even in my own mind. I can’t quite figure out if I want to give him a bear hug or a kick in the arse or both or neither.

    If he belongs at Arsenal it may not be because of any good reason because more than any player for me, he epitomizes the one of the main characteristics of this team:

    Complete and total inconsistency. A rampant, dominating performance with a hat trick one game, total shite the next. Each performance seemingly disconnected with the next or last.

  21. Vote -1 Vote +1Cliffy

    Can you pay some more money to Walcott to not let him take free kicks from dangerous positions?!?

    Twice when the team needed a decisive set piece to earn a fight back Theo fluffed it…and struck with the emptiness you wonder his only motive was to get the ball into air with his feet.. One of them was not even close enough for two Mertesackerstoppings to make a contact…

    ManCity is apparently the team that has conceded most of its goals in set pieces…and somehow we ensured poor delivery in setpieces..

  22. Vote -1 Vote +1Frode

    I thought Walcott might give us something as center forward, namely an extreme in behind threat, but so far the experiment is not overly promising. Our strikers are in general failing us. Statistical analysis shows it is the most important position in the team, and Giroud, Walcott, Gervinho, Podolski are simply not competitive. Last time we won the league our striker was Thierry Henry… A world class striker is an absolute must. That’s something even Liverpool can say they have got. We can absolutely try Podolski in the position, but I think he prefers playing second striker and dropping deep. I especially don’t think his in behind movement is very good. In general one can question how effective he is against organised defenses. The stats shows him to be one of the most dangerous counter-attacking players in Europe though.(although Van Persie liked to dropped deep, he also was dangerous in behind and had excellent movement in the box.)

    I think the best markets to buy are Spain and Germany. According to the Euro Club Index, Spain is the best league in Europe, and the German league is not much weaker than the English (helped by the fact they are 18 teams as opposed to 20). With players from these two leagues you will better know what to expect, as they already have the level in. The PL should also be attractive to these players, as it can offer higher wages. These leagues will also give you more value for money than buying from English clubs. Just a few years ago the PL was significantly stronger compared to rest of Europe, and then it made sense to value PL experience highly, but not as much these days. The french market is not what it once was. These days Spain and Germany produce the best players.

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