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We just are too honest

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By Walter Broeckx

We just are too clean and honest in this game. And as we are young we are also still a bit naïve at times. In a way it makes me proud because this means we are the good guys. But alas in the bad world out there being nice and honest doesn’t always win you games.

Sometimes you have to do the wrong things to win games. Sometimes you have to bend the rules to win games. Or to not lose games. And this is something we have to choose.

Will can go over to the tactics used by other teams or do can stick to our principles. A difficult decision to make. I like us being a team that plays football like it is supposed to be played. We don’t go out to hurt other people. We don’t go into time wasting tactics or at least very rarely do this. It never is a tactic we use these days and no one says before the game that we should use it.

But we can do something about some aspects of us being far too naïve and honest. And we don’t have to get ourselves to completely change things. When I name certain people in what follows I do not intend to criticize them for what they have done. I just want to show on how we can improve without really going in to the tactics I really don’t like myself.

So let us take the game against Liverpool. After our goal they tried to score from the kick off. Szczesny shows he is very much awake and smothers the ball under the cross bar.  Now imagine if this would have been Lehmann. He would have fallen to the ground with the ball, and taken a look around to see if the cameras have picked it up. Then he would get up slowly as one can expect of a man of his age, he then would walk around with the ball a bit. And it would have taken some 20 to 25 seconds off the clock before he kicks the ball out of the field. Because with his experience he knows that the further the ball goes out the better it is because it takes a few seconds of the clock.

The other option for Lehmann would have been to palm the ball a bit further and then take the ball at his feet and start walking around in the penalty area. If a Liverpool player comes to attack him he would run as far with the ball as he could before taking it in his hands. And then he would go slowly to the backline and take a few seconds before actually kicking the ball as far away as possible and if possible aimed at the corner flag of Reina.

But here we have a young goalkeeper who has the potential to be one of the finest we have had. But he is still a bit inexperienced in such a situation. The rush of adrenaline was still in his head I think and therefore he didn’t take enough time to do such things. And so when the Liverpool player came near he rushed himself. He should have seen on the other side that Reina took all the time in the world when he wanted to. So he should just have done the same thing. Because now he didn’t steady himself before the kick and he kicked the ball hard but too high and not far enough.

I’m sure Jens will have seen it and will have told him by now to try to do it a bit differently in future. But then again our outfield players could have done a better job in trying to win the ball back because I saw a lot of them not really attacking the ball when it came down.  And believe me this is not intended to criticize Szczesny as I really think he is a great keeper and I know he can do the tricks Lehmann did in his days. But that youth and inexperience is something that you cannot cancel out after some 15 games in the first team.

But in such small details sometimes is the difference between winning and not winning a game. Jens, please tell him – and if not you then someone please tell him the answer is here. Just a small tip from a former goalkeeper you know.

But also our players need to realize that the game isn’t over after scoring what they think is the winning goal. I can imagine wild celebrations going on after such a late goal. But then again we seem to take our position on the field and look at each other and say: great work, guys job done. And then we find that the ref is not happy with the outcome and wants to play more minutes than they have indicated.

And then we have to refocus and prepare ourselves. On such a moment we don’t have to play the nice ball to a team mate when we intercept a pass. No, at such a moment we have to kick the ball as hard as we can towards the other team half of the field. And one of our forwards (if possible the most fresh one) should chase that ball as if his live depends on it.

But we don’t do that. No, we just try to pass the ball to a team mate and keep the ball near our own goal and if you then slip up or miss control the ball you are in trouble. And so it did yesterday. At least two of our players could have kicked the ball forward and far but they didn’t do it.

This is something we should learn to do. Use the combination of the keeper taking all the time the ref has allowed the other goalkeeper on the other end and our players keeping awake till the final whistle and ready to run and chase after every ball.

These are things that go against the nature of most of our players. So it is hard for them to do this. But I think we should have players who can tell the other players that now is the time for such tactics when it really matters.

And maybe Arsenal should let the clock run further during extra time. Even if it is against the instructions. What can they do about it? Give us a fine? Well fine, fine us then I would say. But then the ref wouldn’t be able to add Fergie-time to the game as he would know that all the people in the stadium will notice what he is doing.

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8 comments to We just are too honest

  • Jonny

    Yes we are – looking at the way Barca and Man Utd play it is do whatever is necessary to win. It’s certainly contributed to our downfall over the last 5 years.

    What is interesting is that we are almost hated for trying to play a clean game and seen as moaners when we complain of tactics which are essentially unpleasant cheating.

    There is no doubt that we suffered a backlash Eduardo dived – a thumping for being considered holier than thou.

    By contrast Bale’s clear dive against Real Madrid went unnoticed.

    But then he is also British and it was against the Spaniards…

  • Dark Prince

    Thats the reason why experienced players need to be there in the squad. Young players are not so thoughtful. Plus they can become nervous easily. I’ve seen it some times by players like nasri who have taken the ball to the corner flag to waste time. But i’ve never seen any other player in our team do that.

    Also regarding the goalkeeper, you have made valid points. And thats where being smart counts to be a goalkeeper. Lehman would have easily wasted 30 sec there but Szczesny isn’t as experienced to know this. Even Almunia, with all his experience, has never wasted time at the end.

    Plus we need to learn the art of passing it around the back. ManU do it easily when they are a goal ahead. There many things to learn but no one to teach. Thats our problem.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I think that this season will be a benchmark for the younger players .They have endured so much pain and heatache and dissapointment too.They would have learned that being the best may not neccessarly mean success -that there is many a slip between the cup and the lips.
    They have to mentally toughen up and learned the subtle ways of bending the rules and to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself.
    They can start tonight by beating the shit out of the Spuds and make them into mash !Come on you Gunners !

  • Mandy Dodd

    Agree on a lot of that. Take the Utd game last night – if they are supposed to be our measure of success – well, Nani did not stop diving and then there was the Hernandez booking for diving right at the end. Fair play to the ref, you just know Webb would have given them a pen for that. Utd have some good players with great attituded but their sheer cynasism often pays dividends, as it does for Barca – as we know only too well. Man Utd get away with things that are well documented but I also believe there is a percentage element to their bending of the rules, try things often enough, you will get away a percentage of them. I am not saying Arsenal should be cheating, look at the grief we got over Eduardos alleged dive – but if it works for Utd, maybe we can take a very small leaf out of thier book on some issues.
    Interesting comments on Jens / Chesney. I would love to see Jens kept on as one of our coaches. The other points you raise about not doing intricate passing as the game runs down, this has to be a coaching issue. There are a few things that need fixing with this squad, and maybe freshening up Wengers coaching staff by whatever means could help.

  • Samuel

    But there are supposedly rather experienced defenders in Sagna and Clichy who panic in injury time of matches ,when they should be cool ,calm and collected ,yet we blame young inexperienced ke
    pers ,typical Arsenal fans hogwash ?

  • walter

    I think I was not blaming Szczesny but more his inexperience…

    I’m sure he will have learnt from this and Jens will have told him to learn.

  • Toye

    Saw the same mistake immediately.Didnt complain about it cos i know he may never make the mistake again.What pisses me off is the fact that if I can spot these things the senior players should be doing the same

  • TommieGun

    Great post and I liked the goalkeeper perspective. But really taking about the whores playing newcastle last night – they are a crap, boring, untalented bunch. I mean Carrick? Would you let him wash Arsenal’s midfield players’ socks? Park Ji Sung? Can he actually play football (no, having the stamina to run for 150 minutes does not qualify). Or the combined age of 500 (Scholes + Giggs)? A joke at right back (can’t tell which one of the brothers play there), who should invite ANY manager to attack from the left wing constantly? Nani? maybe talented, but inconsistent and immature. The only quality player they have in my opinion is Rooney, with all his problems. And HE was utter shit for more than half a season.

    But still they are in pole position and you ask yourself why. And you see the match last night and you get it. For all their lack of talent, spark and anything that resembles a beautiful game, you can see that they all WANT IT. You can see that when Nani crosses the ball, and sees that his teammates are not packing the box, he is shouting his head off at them. You see them doing all the right simple things in the final 10 minutes to try and score: getting the ball into simple crossing positions, having the defenders push up, shooting from distance to open up the bus parked on the 16th meter line and fighting like mad men for every ball. And us playing Loserpool? Nothing. Really, that penalty we won and the one we conceded are the incidents that ultimately went to define the scoreline. But it needn’t be that way. We played in the 86th minute, like it was the 16th minute. And I have no idea why.

    When this season began – you all remember that, it wasn’t all that long ago – we combined the beauty of our game, with some steel. Getting those “don’t fuck with us” yellow cards, was in my eyes a blessing. It seems we lost the naivete, and the goals we conceded were truly down to individual errors – mostly Almunia, a few of our defenders, and as soon as we got Poland between the sticks and JD as our opening CB, it seemed to work for us defensivley.

    And we played amazingly well without our 2 best players: Cesc and Robin (who in my opinion seems the only interested party these days). And when Robin came back we were by far the best team in England, perhaps in Europe.

    And then something happened. Don’t know when. You could see it lurking in the shadows v. WBA @ the Ems in the beginning, but we all said “well it was just one of these days”. And all over again v. Newcastle, and something similar (plus tons of bad luck) v. Spuds. But THESE were the UNUSUAL performances; the mark of victory was smeared on the squad faces for 99% of the time.

    What happened? Can someone tell me? No one seems to write about it or address it, but even when we take in the injuries and incredbile ref’s decisions, in my humble opinion we are not getting the points because the players – and not just one or two -do not want it. It’s absurd: you would have thought that someone who shows lack of desire will be infected with his teammates desire – but it seeems that for us it worked the other way around.

    Sorry for the rant, good luck for us tonight, all they need to remember is that the Spuds will want it, and we must remember we want it more AND that we ARE better. And BE BRAVE !!!!