There are Dixon the British Press.

Arsenal are down, no doubt, but to listen to the press portray it we are damn near suicidal, or in some cases outright suicidal. I’ve listened to the actual interviews from which most of these doom and gloom reports emanate and I’m not buying it. Take a phrase out of context, plaster it across the top with huge font and sit back and wait for the predictably irate reactions.

Muckrakers at best.

That said, I’ve figured out what this year’s “Copy and Paste Quotes of the Season” are going to be, feel free to use ad nauseum:

Arsenal have not won a trophy for four years

Arsenal lack a holding midfielder

Arsenal need to strengthen their spine

Arsenal need to loosen their purse strings

Also, feel free to add more in the comments, I always need fresh copy. Sorry but I’m not buying any of those “analysis” of this season.

Andrei “baffled” by Arsene

I’m baffled about this myself. Not where Andrei is playing but by how a self respecting journalist could take this quote

My personal plan for my initial three months with Arsenal wasn’t about scoring a certain number of goals or making a set number of assists, I wanted to get the feeling whether I can play in England or not. Sometimes I feel that I can but other times that I don’t. It’s probably because that I play as a left midfielder. I still can’t get used to the idea that I’m capable of playing on the left of midfield – and frankly having to do it keeps me baffled. I don’t understand if it’s only because God is taking care of me, or I really can play so well as a left-winger.

and make this headline: ‘Baffled’ Arshavin hits out at Wenger as troubles mount for the Gunners.

Is he really taking the piss out of Wenger there or is he being misquoted because of his strange choice of vocabulary? Baffled or surprised? I read that as he’s “surprised” that he can not only play in England, but that he is also capable of shouldering some of the defensive responsibilities requisite a midfielder in one of the most physical leagues in the world. Clearly Richard Bright and “SPORTSMAIL REPORTER” above see that quote as proof that Arshavin is upset at playing in midfield and ready to leave Arsenal or whatever else they want to make up.

Don’t act so Petit

“WENGER NEEDS TO CHANGE, says Petit” screams the headline by Setanta’s Captain shiat-stirrer Laurent Picard, but the actual Petit quote is more nuanced, more intelligent than Captain Picard would have us believe.

Arsenal have not won anything in four years [eye roll, ed.]. Everything was done to bring together a young team and make it progress step by step, after Henry’s departure. But, at the end of the day, the transition did not work out.

Arsene is extremely intelligent, he is a visionary. I am not saying that he should change his ways, [emph. added] but if he made slight changes and managed to find a compromise between youth and experience, like Manchester and every dominant team in Europe do, he would find the right mix.

But it means spending more money [eye roll, ed].

Arsenal have their own touch: moving football towards goal. But they reach their limit when they are playing against a team that plays like them and with the physical impact that Arsenal do not have.

Petit is actually saying that Arsenal tried something, it’s fallen a bit flat, and now they need to make some slight changes. Is that really the same as the absolutist headline “Wenger needs to change?” And do we really need Mister Petit to say two of the four Copy and Paste analysis of this season?

Don’t Dixon me, man

Dixon’s assessment of the Chelsea game is a bit strange to say the least. The graphic in the middle of the page clearly shows Nasri at fault for the Anelka goal, and Dixon even singles Nasri out for an over-the-top ball against Everton as well. Moreover, this blog has mentioned severally that Nasri is often culpable for not tracking back and getting involved in the defense the way he should. Add in the known problems that Theo has shouldering his defensive responsibilities and I think there is a well established problem of defensive rotation with certain players

So, how does that translate to “Arsenal lack a holding midfielder?” Bring back a 25 year old Patrick Vieira and he still wouldn’t have broken up that Anelka run, because he cannot be everywhere at once.  And as Dixon points out (in his annoying staccato style) “He [Vieira] made runs forward but when he did you could guarantee Emmanuel Petit would stay there and cover him.”

Right… in the past, Arsenal rotated more effectively.

Which is a coaching problem, as frequent commenter caribkid points out. I have no doubt that Nasri could learn to defend better, but he needs someone there to teach him that and to take the utter piss out of him when he doesn’t.

Buying another holding midfielder does not solve that problem, in fact, it could exacerbate the problems. With Essien behind him players like Nasri might feel like they never have to track back.

Moreover, and this is really, really crucial in my mind, Dixon does say something that I whole-heartedly agree with:

You need someone to break things up; someone with a bit of intelligence who knows where to be in that area, when to push forward, when to support and when to drag someone back.

Vieira was brilliant at that. If he felt exposed he would get hold of someone and get them to help him. [emph. added]

Arsenal need leadership! YES! I’ve been saying this all year, but that’s not what gets copy “Arsenal need to buy” gets copy. The crucial difference between my interpretation and Dixon’s is that he thinks that leadership must come from that defensive midfield spot and given Song’s lack of experience, Arsenal then must buy in order to fill the leadership void.  Fair enough, but I disagree.

I feel like it should come from the more experienced players on the team, players who have over 200 matches under their belts, players like Cesc.

Criticizing Cesc is somehow off the table, and that’s a real shame, because the captain of the team should take responsibility when his team is not playing well. If the team is lacking defensive rotation and understanding of when to attack and when not, is that the responsibility of Alex Song, or is that the responsibility of El Capitan?

Even crazier, Cesc played that position for years and yet still there’s a distinct lack of understanding on this team of how to play that position. How we can take anything away from a player like Song who has literally DOZENS of games under his belt and who has come along so brilliantly this season, while simultaneously leapfrogging over the obvious fact that the captain and one of the most experienced players on the team basically took this season off, is baffling to me.

And I mean baffling in the sense of “baffling” as in “are they so stuck on their Copy and Paste analysis of the team that the only solution is Arsenal must buy?”

Yes, buying another holding midfielder is important. Buying at least one center back is important as well. These players will challenge each other for places on the team and improve our overall quality while increasing the bench depth.

BUT

More crucially, the coaching staff and team leaders need to look at themselves. I said it before and I’ll say it again: Fabregas should not have been allowed to go on vacation after his injury. The fact that he was allowed to go, that he wanted to go, and that he publicly said that he didn’t care about football anymore undermined everything that this team was supposedly building with his appointment to the captaincy.

And all those players that the Dixon’s this world want to replace floundered under the lack of guidance and insight from the team’s most experienced midfielder and captain… and, ultimately, the manager.

Never fear, McFunk is here

I’m not worried, though. I’ve watched the interviews and I think Wenger knows what went wrong. I think Wenger is pissed about the fact that he put so much faith in some of these players and that they let him down. And I think we may see a bit of the old, ruthless, Wenger reappear. We’ll have to wait until after Arsenal’s second vacation, some time around July, to see which Wenger we are going to get: the one hungry to win a trophy or the one willing to grease the squeaky wheels.

I have faith it will be the former.

That's no worm, that's Silvestre

silvestre

I’m just kind of tired today and besides, there isn’t much to say. Chelsea supporters are gloating, as they should, Arsenal supporters are feeling down, as they should, and Man U supporters are looking forward to winning the league against what must be seen as an easy Arsenal target.

I guess it could be worse. We could be Spurs fans, hailing a 0-0 draw against a strikerless Everton as an achievement. We could be Chelsea fans, gloating over a third place finish.

Hell, we could be Mikael Silvestre. Now that would be a nightmare. I mean just look at the man, to paraphrase an apt description of former Seattle SuperSonics center Jerome James, Silvestre is a part-time “man in a gorilla suit” and a full-time stiff.

But I have an inkling that Wenger sees some problems. I watched his post match press conference, and though you’ll see news headlines that say “Wenger a true believer” or some such, my interpretation is that he saw the problems:

  1. He rightly blames Silvestre for not bothering to go for the header… “I believe we must live in our job where the referee makes some decisions for you and some against. But defending consequently you should clear the ball on the cross.”
  2. He blames the midfield for Anelka’s second goal… “If you look at the second goal we could have done much better in midfield than at the back.”
  3. He recognizes that Arsenal’s defending is not up to snuff… “We conceded four at Liverpool, three against Man United and four today. We have to improve the way we defend.”
  4. And he recognizes the need for leadership from this team, especially in big games…  “what is very disappointing for us is in the games that mattered in the last three or four weeks we couldn’t win. That’s where we have to analyse.”

And he’s already talking about bringing in reinforcements, though, that could turn into talk of people being “like a new signing” as the summer wears on.

I can’t wait… Senderos is like a new signing! Traore, like a new signing! Rosicky! Eduardo!

I love the summer.

Arsenal 1-4 Chelsea; the Gibbs, the Heart, the Silvestre

Match Reports

You will need these for later:

Arsenal 4-4 Spuds

City 3-0 Arsenal

Villa 2-2 Arsenal

Liverpool 4-4 Arsenal

Arsenal 1-4 Chelsea

Fener 2-5 Arsenal

Arsenal 0-2 Villa

Burnley 2-0 Arsenal

Porto 2-0 Arsenal

Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea

Every one of those matches in which Arsenal have conceded 2 or more goals have one thing in common, do you know what that is?

The Gibbs

In my estimation, Young Gibbs was the only Arsenal player who played for the full 90 minutes. Song might have done, but Wenger withdrew him in the second half for Denilson, so the plaudits go to Gibbs: he kept his composure despite Chelsea’s constant attack through Drogba on him and even managed to put in some very good defensive plays.

The Heart

Wenger talks a lot about the heart of this team, how they never give up, how they have the mental resilience to overcome great obstacles, how they surprise their opponents with their perseverance. Either that is a load of bullshit or this team has finally cracked. Arsenal started very brightly and I really thought they wanted to win this match. But then, after they were handed a horrible diving decision that led to a yellow card for the captain and a free kick, the team simply gave up. Alex rose over Silvestre, nodded into the corner and Arsenal just quit. Well, the captain quit, Robin was trying for most of the game, Song bossed the midfield, Toure attacked, tracked, and generally tried to pump the team up, Gibbs has already been lauded, Sagna kept at it for a while, but the others seemed to just kind of throw in the towel.

Especially after Silvestre and Nasri conspired to give up the second to Anelka.

There are some very serious, very obvious, very glaring personnel problems in this team and I am now going to apologize to William Gallas: he was right, someone needs to kick these kids up the arse. I don’t want to turn this into another thread about how we need to bring in such and such because I’m tired of hearing that: hell, we had 2 hours of that today from the announcers. I just want Arsene Wenger to fix this. I don’t care how, JUST FIX IT.

It’s fucking broken.

The Silvestre

So, remember all those match reports in the first part? Those are all of the matches in which Arsenal conceded at least 2 goals.  In 10 matches this season, in all competitions, Arsenal have conceded 2 or more goals and they only have one thing in common: Mikael Silvestre. HE ONLY PLAYED IN 22 FUCKING GAMES ALL SEASON??@!?!?! How on earth is it that one man can be involved in so many horrible games? How?

Affix the tin-foil firmly…

Silvestre is the Manchurian candidate, a plant by Ferguson to utterly destroy Arsenal’s season.

The facts are indisputable: in the 22 games that Silvestre played, Arsenal gave up 34 goals. He played in every game that Arsenal gave up 2 or more goals, save one, Hull. The really, really crazy part is that he was involved in nearly every single goal in all those 22 games.

Letting Senderos go and bringing in Silvestre may be the biggest mistake of Arsene Wenger’s career.

Conclusion

Sorry for the outburst but I just watched utter shiate and I’m seething. Maybe I’ll be better in the morning.

I doubt it.