Category Archives: Arsenal


Sky Sports turns Arsene Wenger’s 19th Anniversary Press Conference into an omnishambles

Editor’s note: This is the transcript of the beginning of Arsene Wenger’s 19th anniversary press conference. A press Conference which is supposed to address the match previous and the match following but which devolves into an interrogation about what Arsene Wenger knew and when he knew it, over his team selection and then further devolves into an attempt by the reporter to have a duel between Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho with the reporter acting as Mourinho’s “second”. 

Good morning Arsene. First of all I just want to congratulate you on 19 years at Arsenal. How proud are you of that achievement?

Well, I’m more focused on our next game than looking back, you know, at how long I’m here. But we just, I don’t realize it has been such a long time because in our job we are focused on what is in front of you. One day, maybe, I will look back, but I don’t think it’s the best day today.

It seems appropriate that as you go into your 20th year there’s an Arsenal-Manchester United game after so many big tussles down the years. Is it still that same special fixture it’s always been for you? 

It is a special fixture, yes, because usually Man United is always fighting at the top. It is even a bigger meaning now because there’s three points between the two teams, we play at home in a big game, we just come from a big win at Leicester, and we want to continue our run. 

In terms of the team news is there any update on Laurent Koscielny at all?

Laurent Koscielny will certainly be out. He has a hamstring strain and it looks like it will be three weeks. Something like that. 

Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini are they in contention at all?

Both are out.

Francis Coquelin? Did he have any reaction? is he OK? 

Francis Coquelin should be OK, yes.

(This is the Sky News reporter’s bit) Arsene, regarding some of the fallout over what happened in mid-week. In the press conference after the game, you said, when we asked about team selection, that were things that we didn’t know and things that we chose to ignore. What do we not know about what happened in mid-week with your selection and what did we choose to ignore?

Look, I do not want to come back on that. I think all has been said after in the press conference and I don’t change a word of what I said. Looking at Ospina and Petr Cech, I think I have two World Class goalkeepers and it’s the easiest choice I have to make because I can pick any of the two and I’m very comfortable. It’s most difficult as well because the two of them are World Class players and always you have to leave one out.

You said we ignored things, what did we ignore?

I do not know anything that you do in your job. And so you make decisions because you have more information than I have and that’s exactly the same in my job. 

(Talks over Wenger) That’s not ignoring stuff, though, is it? If we don’t have the information, we can’t ignore it. 

That you don’t know, yes, but, look, you come to the game, you judge the game and you assess was I right or was I wrong. I never criticize that. I accept your judgement of how the team played and what is your assessment but I do not have to give you all of the information that I have to make my decisions. 

That’s fair enough. Do you accept that when you look at your squad in the summer and you think that ‘we only need to strengthen in one area’, which is the goalkeeper, that when it comes to a competition in the Champions League that you want to improve upon, when you don’t use the guy that you think improves your squad in that that the fans will be frustrated and angry? Do you understand that?

No. Not at all.


Because I make the decision that I think is right on the day. (big pause)

You said after the game.. you sort of inferred that you aren’t accountable to people for your selection. Do you think you should be accountable? Is it healthy that you’re not? 

I’m accountable on the results of my team and the way we play football. (at this point the official video cuts to a later segment of the interview).

(From SkySports video) Do you think you should be more accountable for the fans on selection issues? Or you don’t see that as a valid argument?

I just gave you the answer.

If you’re not accountable in that way, does that not make José Mourinho right when he says that there’s only one manager that’s under pressure? That there’s only one manager that’s not under pressure?

Look. Stop that story or we stop the press conference. 

This whole line of questioning was bang out of line from the start but went from simple muckraking to wallowing in the pig sty when the reporter choose to parrot Jose Mourinho’s line that Wenger isn’t accountable.

First, it is absolutely astoundingly simple-minded to say that Arsene Wenger isn’t under any pressure. He is clearly under tremendous pressure from the fans who go apeshit on Arsenal Fan TV, twitter, the blogs, and on train platforms in Stoke, any time Arsenal have any slip up.

He is also under pressure from the players: what happens if he loses out on Champions League football? Do you think Alexis and Ozil are going to stick around while Wenger toils with an Arsenal in 10th place? Are you really that stupid?

As for Wenger’s accountability? I feel like an idiot that I even have to address this.

Wenger is ultimately accountable for everything at Arsenal. If the fans stop attending matches he will lose his job. If he loses the dressing room, he will lose his job. If he is relegated from the Champions League, he will probably lose his job. And if he thinks he can no longer do the job, he has said time and again that he will fire himself.


And the pressure of the job at Arsenal is massive. He has to deliver results on the pitch, results that make the vast majority of the fans happy, that make the players happy, that win trophies, and all the while that keep Arsenal’s bank balance positive.

You don’t think Arsene Wenger is under pressure? That he’s not accountable? How stupid are you?

What he’s not accountable to, is a small, loud, and ridiculous minority of fans and THEIR expectations. Their expectations that Arsenal be Chelsea or that Arsene Wenger apes Jose Mourinho, or that Wenger gets every decision right, that he never makes a similar mistake to the last mistake, that he buys the players they want, that Arsenal play like the Invincibles, and that he turns the clock back 20 years and turns himself into George Graham’s magic bung.

Wenger isn’t accountable to Johnny Rotten, some corporate clown who is about as counter-culture as Ward Cleaver and who knows fuck all about actual football. Or that guy on twitter who always gets the first reply to anything Arsenal tweet and it’s always “fuck off, buy players”.

And Wenger most certainly isn’t accountable to some SkySports reporter who wants to play a game of “gotcha” with the manager on the anniversary of his 19th year as manager in England. The absolute shamelessness of that reporter, going after Arsene Wenger over his selection of a goalkeeper as if he was pressing George W. Bush over the missing Weapons of Mass Destruction. Do you think he sat there, smiling, and thinking of the Pulitzer he was going to win for this “hard-hitting journalism”?

We get it. Three League titles, not enough. 18 years of European football, not enough. Keeping the club afloat during the 10 year rebuilding, not enough. Buying Ozil, not enough. Winning the FA Cup, not enough. Buying Sanchez, not enough. Winning the FA Cup, not enough. Buying Cech, not enough. Three points from the top of the table, not enough.  Never enough.

The venerable Nick Hornby once wrote about this ubiquitously moaning fan phenomena:

“I’ll tell you where it all went wrong for Arsene Wenger,” said a friend after the first leg of the Champions’ League quarter-final against Liverpool, a game that Arsenal were unlucky not to win.  “That two-all draw against Bolton, when we threw away a two-goal lead.” Like many Arsenal fans, I remember the game well – it was a decisive moment in the race for the Premier League, and those two dropped points meant that Arsenal would not win the title…in 2003. According to my friend, we have been on a sad, slow but steady decline ever since.

“What about 2004? When we won the League without losing a match? You don’t think he temporarily stopped the rot that year?”
That was a disappointing season,” he said. (My italics.) “We should have won the Champions’ League, and he chucked the FA Cup away.”

That was written in 2008, about fans during the Invincibles season. Wenger is not accountable to those people. He is, exactly as he put it, accountable for the results on the field.

And the result on the field was bad. Wenger acknowledged that fact as well the fact that his team didn’t play defense at the top level, gave away the goal right after scoring, and lost the game in a shambles. But instead of addressing the game, instead of asking what Wenger is doing to fix the defensive problems, instead of asking questions like “why has the pressing game changed this year over last”, instead of asking actual football questions, we get a reporter asking about team selection and accountability so that some fucktard can get a sly dig in at Arsene Wenger, elicit an angry reaction, and get his Pulitzer Prize winning headline story.

In essence, we get Jose Mourinho pulling the strings of a SkySports muppet.

And it’s a fucking omnishambles.



A breakdown of all 13 goals Arsenal have conceded this season: soft as warm butter

Here is a breakdown of all of Arsenal’s 13 goals conceded this season. All data was collected by my eyeballs via or

1 – Set play, header, unmarked (Monreal) — (West Ham home)


2 – Turnover (Ox), no closing, long shot — (West Ham home)
3 – No closing, long shot — (Cry Pal, away)


4 – No closing, no pressing, too much space, Own Goal (Ox) — (Dinamo away)
5 – Corner, header (4 players around him) — (Dinamo away)


6 – Set play, header, unmarked (Monreal) — (Chelsea away)


7 – Deflected (Chambers), down to 9 men, poor clearance — (Chelsea away)
8 – Giveaway (Cazorla), own goal (Chambers) — (Tottenham away)
9 – Counter attack (or fast break), no pressing (long pass from Drinkwater), no recovery, no coverage (Vardy in acres of space) — (Leicester away)

open space

10 – Poor clearance, no closing, easy goal (Vardy) — (Leicester away)
11 – Corner, unmarked, late closing (Ozil), long shot, deflected (Ox) — (Olympiacos home)


12 – Corner, shot on goal, Own Goal (Ospina) — (Olympiacos home)
13 – Disorganized, open space in fullback area — (Olympiacos home)

6/13 have been from a lack of closing space
5/13 have been from set plays
5/13 have been at home
3/13 have been long shots
3/13 have been own goals
2/13 have been deflected

There are a combination of things that I’m seeing here.

The first is a lack of or slowness to pressing or closing space when the opposition has the ball. This is quite surprising when you consider the fact that Wenger built a tremendous defensive record in the second half of last season based on a pressing game. The most notable examples of that pressing game were against Liverpool and Man City, both matches which Arsenal won handily. Why Arsenal haven’t deployed this tactic since then, especially against teams like Olympiacos, West Ham, Leicester, and Dinamo — teams where their center backs are particularly vulnerable to being pressed — is a mystery. It is a fact that pressing requires top fitness and perhaps as Wenger says “I know things you don’t” and a lack of fitness is at play.

The second is a weakness on set plays. I mean this in all aspects of set plays. If you play a zonal marking system then the players have to attack the ball and they have to attack the ball with fearlessness. This Arsenal side seem overly dependent on Olivier Giroud on defensive set plays and lack a real fearless ball winner in the air. Case in point, the Dinamo header: 4 Arsenal players are around the Dinamo man, he doesn’t get a running jump, and yet none of those Arsenal players could win the ball.

The other thing Arsenal are susceptible to are set plays with movement off the back of a defender. Both Zouma and Kouyate made runs behind Monreal and the Spaniard was caught out, though he also doesn’t even challenge for either ball.

This is a common theme as well with Arsenal so far this season, that players don’t seem to want to challenge for the ball. This cuts across the defensive landscape from set plays to open play. The goal by Crystal Palace was a great example of several Arsenal players not even trying to get out to close space or challenge for the ball and ultimately Ward has a free and open shot as Koscielny turns his back. This is also why Arsenal are conceding so many own goals and deflections. Players are just sticking out a leg in imitation of defending rather than getting in the way of the ball.

In short, Arsenal’s defense is soft. It’s soft on set plays, it’s not closing the opposition down, and it isn’t winning the crucial aerial battles on corners and free kicks. Fans will pick up on the fact that several players have been accused above of making mistakes, my intent here is not to poiint out individual flaws because it’s still a team sport, if you have a player who basically won’t close space (Ozil) it’s the manager’s job to find a way to compensate for that. Also, if you have a player who keeps making defensive errors because he’s sticking out a leg or giving the ball away in the wrong area, it’s the manager’s job to teach that player how to play football or find a way to cover for those mistakes. And if you have a defender who can’t jump or won’t challenge for an aerial duel, you find a way to cover for that in your defensive set up. All players have strengths and weaknesses, it’s how the team works together which is the most important factor in winning or losing.

Right now, Arsenal’s flaws are glaring. Wenger and Bould have their work cut out for them if they are going to recapture the form of Arsenal from January to May of this year.


Arsenal 2-3 Olympiacos: a parable

Yesterday was a complete clusterfuck. I got up late. That means that I blogged late. That got me to work late. And when I finally got to work it was like a car crash.

I opened the door to my office and looked down at my 3D printer. The extruder heads were limping along doing something odd. And when I looked down at the build plate I saw why. The build plate was completely cockeyed. One side had popped out of its screw and the other side had remained anchored. The object I tried to print was supposed to be a square but it was a blob. And the extruder heads were covered in gunk. The whole thing had the look of a wounded animal.

This was hard to take as the first set back of the day. I have been working with this device for a while and I can admit that they are a bit fussy. But I have a whole procedure down for each print job and can usually reliably build objects. The problem is that I’d let my ego get the best of me and I was running an experiment: I was trying to build on an unheated bed.

But when I had left the printer the night before I thought I had made sure that the raft, which is a layer of plastic that the object is built on, had stuck to the bed. I guess it hadn’t because the resulting mess was spectacular.

It looked like I had broken the device and I was nearly in tears. My University had spent $1000 on this printer in order to support curriculum. My job is to get this up and running and support the device and any software that might be needed. Class starts today. I thought I had broken it and I was despondent.

I guess it was lucky that at that exact moment I had a second emergency. It turns out that the server we use to push images wasn’t working. “Push images” sounds fancy but it’s not: we take a copy of a computer (an image) and push it down to another computer so that all the computers in the building are the same. It’s simple, an elementary school kid could do it.

I went to look at that and sure enough, a group of computers hadn’t downloaded the image and were basically toasters. At this point I’m in a bit of a panic. I try restarting the systems and they just won’t connect to the image server. I try rebooting again. And again. I try simplifying the job, just push to one computer. Iteration after iteration.

I could have just looked at the log files and figured out the problem but I didn’t. Some people respond better in those situations, and typically I do as well, but on the day, I was having a mare. I needed to calm down and think for a second but instead I called tech support.

One of the other parts of my job is tech support and I deal with a lot of panicked patrons. I never thought I’d be one. But here I was on the phone with this guy, trying my best not to freak out. He was great, calm, just like I try to be with the person who needs my help and normally, if you’re just calm and give them a moment, the user will figure out what  they did wrong.

In my case, it was a change I had made the night before. Of course it was. It’s almost always the last change which messes things up. I had changed some firewall setting on the server and that was blocking the computers from contacting the service.

I felt like such a fool. This is a simple program, basic even, and I had made a rookie mistake. I made a rookie mistake in front of others. My shame was nearly endless.

But the important thing isn’t my shame. The important thing is having all the computers working for the students in the morning. We restarted them and of course, they downloaded the image.

My third failure happened as I walked back to my office to deal with the printer. I had my phone in my hand and I glanced down to see “Arsenal 1-2 Olympiacos HT”. I wanted to throw the phone into the jaws of a lion and kick the lion into the sun. I nearly screamed “WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON TODAY? FUCK YOU AND YOUR FULL MOON HARVEST ECLIPSE BLOOD MOON BULLSHIT!”

I couldn’t watch the game live so, I recorded it. To make the game as live as possible I had turned notifications off inside the Arsenal app and put my phone into “do not disturb”. What I really needed to do was turn off the damn notifications in the settings of the phone. But I guess I’d had a mental lapse and figured that just turning off the push notifications in the app would be good enough.

I went back to my office. Took a sip of water and looked at the 3D printer. What the fuck was I supposed to do with this mess? I walked over to the device and looked at the printer bed. Somehow, the bed had just lost a screw. the nut wasn’t stripped, the springs weren’t broken, just the fly bolt had fallen off. How? I don’t know. I screwed it back on and did a crude leveling of the build plate.

Then I looked at the printer head. It was completely covered in plastic. Actually, to be precise, it was completely covered in polylactic acid (PLA). Which, if you know anything at all is not a plastic. PLA is a thermoplastic aliphatic polyester!

AH HA! PLA has a relatively low glass transition temperature! In short, it bends when you heat it up and you don’t even have to heat it that much to bend it. So, I heated the extruder to 100C and simply pulled most of the glob of PLA off the extruder head. Then I cleaned it up, leveled the bed, and sat down to think for a minute.


I needed to test the device. I printed a calibration cube. It worked.

I was back, baby.

I adjusted a few things, printed a calibration cube in red, then one in white. Perfect.

Well, not perfect. PLA is notoriously fussy. But they were pretty good cubes.

I hadn’t done anything special to save the day. I hadn’t even really “saved” the day. I was still a fool in front of a stranger and I still didn’t have the base for my t-rex skull (which was what the blob was supposed to be), and I knew the final score to the Arsenal match 2-3 to the Greeks. But by going back to basics in each one of those instances I had reversed the foolish mistakes I had made and gotten back on track.