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We won the league at….. or did we lose it there

By Walter Broeckx

We all love to sing the popular Arsenal song: We won  the league at White Hart Lane….  I bet you are all signing it right now. So am I.

But when looking back at the season I wonder if this season we should sing: We lost the league at White Hart Lane. No need to sing it along.

And no I don’t mean in fact when we played there a few weeks ago. No in fact I refer to a great victory at White Hart Lane we had this season. I am talking about the 1-4 victory in the Carling Cup. Now it might be a long look back I am doing, but I really wonder how things would have developed if not for that then glorious but now after all the dust is starting to settle beginning of the end. Let me explain.

We all know that Wenger for years has only played Arsenal light teams in the Carling Cup. We can remember the days a few seasons ago when  a then hardly 16 year old and a 17 year old played some tremendous football at the Emirates demolishing teams like Sheffield United 6-0 and beating Wigan 3-0. Other players like Vela, Bendtner and other young players shined in those games. And even when we had to go to Manchester City last season the manager kept the same attitude and played a very young side which lost to the billionaires at their home ground.

We all know how the media got onto Wenger’s back. They said he disrespected the Carling cup. A part of the fans got angry at Wenger because he didn’t want us to win things and they wanted to win anything. But Wenger stayed faithful to what he had said before the competition started in those years and played the youth team and some old legs who otherwise didn’t get much games.

But this year was different. In the first round we had to play away from home and we had to go to Tottenham of all places. When we played them in the semi final in the Carling cup a few years earlier Wenger played a youthful team that got beaten, and I still remember thinking how it was possible that every shot they took just went in our goal. But we lost and it was a big defeat. A defeat no Gooner wants to suffer. So at the time the fan base wasn’t happy with the outcome of that game.

Was it the fact that a big part of the fan base was desperate for success, any success? Or was it the fact that Wenger realised that losing to Tottenham was no option? So the manager decided this season to change what he had been doing all those years. He chose to field a stronger side against Tottenham. The defeat of a few years earlier had to be put right. And so we won and beat them 1-4 at their home. We all clapped in our hands, we celebrated, some of us might have been dancing in the streets. Anyway it was fun.

And as everyone was happy the manager continued his policy in the following rounds. He didn’t play the best team but always a team that had a lot of first team players in the starting line up. And the further we went the more pressure was on to continue doing this. Until we reached the final and suddenly in one split second of madness we lost it.  That is a bit of a résumé of the Carling Cup run this season of course, but it is just about right. Almost successful but we stumbled on the last hurdle.

But when you look back at it now one might think it might have been better that we had put our usual youth team out that night at Tottenham. Okay we would have lost that game, well maybe we would. If we had lost it, we would have felt down at the moment. Some fans would have called for Wenger to be fired because he did what he did, just as Tottenham fans are now calling for Redknapp to be kicked out because he failed to get them back into the Champions league. Our pride would have been hurt at the time as theirs is hurt now.

But going out in the first round or whenever the youth team were beaten would have meant that we would have had 5 games less to play between October and February. And as we all know we had a very busy schedule in those months with us playing each weekend and midweek for months. It could have meant that Cesc Fabregas played less games and would have saved his hamstring more?

And maybe most of all it would have saved us from the February 27th hangover. More and more players are admitting that that terrible final minute against Birmingham was the moment the season started collapsing. Some didn’t recover from the uppercut we got that day. And in a way it took away so much confidence from a lot of players that the fall out is still visible.

So we not only had to deal with the physical consequences of playing our almost strongest team all those weeks but also the mental scar was something we had to deal with.

What would have happened if Wenger would have played a youth team against Tottenham? What could have happened?

We won: great and let the youngster continue the job. But if they could not finish it the fans would have been unhappy because we were not playing our strongest squad and taking the Carling Cup serious.

We lost: terrible for the youngster but even more maybe for the impatient fans who wanted us to win.

But what would have happened was that our first team would have had to play 5 games less. They would have had more rest in the winter period. And maybe they would have not suffered the big blow they now had to suffer. And this could have resulted in fresher legs and a stronger mental state from the players. We could have focussed more on the other trophies like the league and the FA cup. We wouldn’t have to shuffle in the last games of the CL and play a weaker team in some of those games.  Maybe it would be a wise thing to just aim at 3 prizes at the most with this team while we left the Carling cup for the young ones. Let the young guns have a go no matter who we play. But as a supporter we have to accept defeat then when it comes and not blame the players or the manager.

After all what could have been if we hadn’t played those extra games and suffered the extra pressure after the lost final? So maybe we lost the league while winning a game. Maybe we lost the league at September 21 while beating Tottenham 1-4….

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50 comments to We won the league at….. or did we lose it there

  • Laundryender

    one hell of a distortion this Walter

    We never lost the league, we just never won it.

    we hope to finish 3rd

    If that is the case it is because, we are for this season, the 3rd best team by result, of games played. The league table never lies as the old saying goes!!

    this site has highlighted how difficult it is for anyone but Man U or Chels to win the league. but our home performances against poor opposition, and ability to conceded goals no other team would conceded, was our part in our own downfall.

  • RedGooner

    Walter I prefered the year we sung “We won the league in Manchester after Wiltords goal”
    On the league cup I think our squad was stronger overall and we performed better in some instances but worse in others.
    What I mean by worse was there seemed a lacksidasical attitude in some cup games against lower opposition it looked a case of playing poorly not taking them seriously and Cesc and some of the others had to come on and rescue those involved hence Cesc playing more football and possibly resulting in the calf strain issues.Sagna said a few times this year in the press there was naive attitude.

    PS What do you think of the story on Young Guns suggesting we are linking up with Anderlecht ? good or bad idea ? will it be of much benefit to us in your opinion ?

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Mmmm…still, it’s always good to beat that lot down the road! hell, even if it were a U-12 transvestite sheep dog league game…Remember, if you’re going to be in a fight and you knock down your adversary, kick him and then kick him again, harder. You don’t want him to get back up, because then you would have to kill him.

    IT IS ALWAYS GOOD TO BEAT SPURS!

  • walter

    REdgooner, I know one person who would love it. The president of the Arsenal Benelux gooners who is supporting Anderlecht as his local team over here.

    Yes the rumours are in the media over here that the Anderlecht manager has been to Arsenal to talk about loaning a few players to them. Anderlecht is the most succesful club in Belgium and has always been a team that tried to play beautiful football and winning. So I think the players would come to an environement where their skill will be loved.
    It would mean that the players will be playing for the league title also.

    Anderlecht would love to have Vela who is the name that has been said in the media. Not bad thing I would think.

    Oh and by the way: I don’t like Anderlecht at all… 😉

  • RedGooner

    Walter, Glad to hear it 🙂
    Hopefuly we can cut our ties with spain and send the non EU talent on loan to belgium and holland.
    The loans in Spain have not helped Arsenal at all.

  • Dark Prince

    Infact, the place where we lost the league was EMIRATES!!!!

    Only one single statistic to prove it – look at our home record against the bottom half for last season and compare it to this season. You’ll be shocked by the results.

    Last season, Arsenal won all of its 10 home games against the bottom half and were ranked no.1 in this specific category. This year our rank is 10th!!!! We couldn’t win even half of those 10 games this season. Can u believe that?? Dropped from the 1st rank to the 10th rank. The place where we lost was our own home.

  • I don’t care! The Tiny Totts ain’t going to Europe and them bloody Chavs are also trophyless, great season for the Gunners!

  • I agree w/ Laundryender…we didn’t capitalize on our chances when we had them. The extra 5 games COULD have made a difference, but odds are they really didn’t. In my opinion, Barca was the team who ended our season. We got an unexpected finish in the first leg and run ragged AGAIN in the 2nd leg. Our results after that (other than Blackpool) for the next month were terrible…Blackburn, Man Who, and some others…I forget.

  • Gooner

    Well I think even if we got kicked out the CC then we would not win anything. We got huge confidence from the CC then we played well in other games. I think that if we play Wojo at the start of the season instead of Almunia we would be right in there. He cost us 3 points against WBA at emirates and 2 to the same opponents. So thats 5 points dropped just by Almunia. Add that 5 to the 3 wwe shouldve got aganist sunderland 8 points. So a crap keeper and crap refrees cost our title hopes. If we won agaisnt Sunderland then we would deffo beat lpool blackburn and bolton becuase our confidence would be back. Looking foward to next season. And technology in football!

  • manny

    Is that really true, looking at the season as a whole and not just the last couple of months….?

    We, as many predicted might happen, lost the plot when throwing away the Carling Cup Final against Brum. We’ve only picked up 11 points out of a possible 27 since then in what was by anyone’s standards a very easy run in. Up to then though we were only a point off top spot and still in the running for 4 trophies….

    No shame in running Barca so close in the CL and we were also unlucky to get Utd….away….in the FA Cup so no shame there either…..!

    What we really lacked was just a bit of confidence at the business end of the season….. If we’d beaten Brum or Birmingham (and were within a whisker of both) then the season may have turned out very differently indeed!

    PS although I would agree that we need to strengthen in defence it is interesting to note that we have only conceded 5 goals more than Utd. And we’ve conceded 6 goals more than Citeh…..but scored 14 more!

  • manny

    We were NEVER gonna win the league or champs league, so realistically we had the carling cup and FA cup to go for.

    We unsurprisingly blew the former (and bear in mind even WBA rested their entire first team squad in the quarter final against Ipswich and effectively was a competition on a par with the emirates cup) and the latter we got spanked as soon as we met a premiership side.

    This ‘we were so close to four trophies’ is a pile of pony and deep down you know it.

    As for being close to Barcelona or Utd, please……we are miles behind em despite what the ‘stats’ say

  • Davi

    The carling cup was particularly disappointing because it looked as though we’d done the hard work. A lot of the players didn’t seem able to motivate themselves for the final, and ended up giving the thing away. We were shown up by an average (by PL standards) side in birmingham, who clearly WERE able to motivate themselves. There is an element that they had less to lose being the underdogs, of course, but we should have been able to make more chances, and beat them.
    Maybe we would have kicked on if we had managed to win the cup and done better in the league, but the way we lost it showed us up as being mentally weak, unable to perform when it mattered to finish the job. This sort of thing gives confidence to the smaller teams when they face us.
    I really think the refs have been the biggest factor in us losing the title, but they clearly aren’t the only one. If there’d been a quality side to really challenge for the title, like chelsea were last season, I would definitely accept us losing it like this, but the fact is no side was better than us this season, and the combination of Utd getting so many decisions in their favour, and us having to face poor decisions constantly going against us, net, have made it almost impossible for this young side to overcome the other problems they face. On top of having to learn to beat these sides fairly, they have to face extra pressures, like the problem that anyone can seemingly fall down in our box and get a penalty.

  • dr kox

    With Man City now only 2 points behind Arsenal is is essential that we beat Villa. To finish 4th would be disastrous in what has been a disastrous season. The 12-18 points that we have given away this season in games we should either have won or in games where we had at least a 2 goal lead has been a direct result of weak minded uncommitted players and a weak minded egotistical unbending manager who lives in some sort of parallel universe where spending money on superior products is a crime. It’s obvious what sort of economist Wenger is/was and the word ‘social’ comes to mind. Well that’s valid in the world of development economics but in the world of Premier League football money talks. Of course Wenger has spent money in the recent past, lots of it, but he has an uncanny knack of bringing in the wrong players. Hleb was the biggest waste of £13million in the history of Arsenal, Arshavin was quality and played brilliantly for 6 months and then being played out of position ruined him and he is not interested anymore, and hasn’t been all season. Chamakh after a bright 3 months has been awful, now we know why he was free but his £50grand per week isn’t. Then we have Koscielny & Squillaci, the pair of them aren’t worth Tony Adams on crutches. The vibes coming out of the club suggest another cheapo summer of average unknowns, probably either French or African, all bought from the lesser leagues in Europe. The size of a club is determined by turnover, the players brought, in and trophies won. Turnover, in spite of some dire sponsorship deals is good because season ticket holders are being fleeced, other than that we are underperforming. We need a change of direction with Kronke selling his shares to Usmanov, a new younger manager and investment in new players. The alternative is we drop out of the top4 and the Emirates becomes a white elephant.

  • Mandy dodd

    Agree with a lot of that too may first team players in too many cup games and replays. The minute I saw Dean was the ref I knew we would lose the cc, even tho the ref was not to blame. This is a fragile team and that game, a stupid carling cup final killed our season.
    On another note, my nephew is one of the head stewards he say the word is that wenger and pat have unleashed Jens on the players in training and in the dressing room to toughen them up. Those who do not respond positively to this, and apparently as the Stoke game showed there are a few, will have their future put into question.
    I have no idea how true this is but please please let it be true!

  • Davi

    @Mandy – maybe Jens worked a little too well on Wilshere, but it is a positive thing if they are trying things like this to test/improve the players

  • Shard

    OOoohh.. Unleashed Jens!! that sounds scary, if not a little cruel. Kinda like setting the Kraken onto someone. Sink or swim you landlubbers.. Not that I mind that of course. 🙂

  • manny

    Everyone hates the 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 or 4-1-3-1 or 4-2-4 or as I like to joke 2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1 that Arsene employs. They want Arsene to revert to the halcyon days when Arsenal played a strict 4-4-2 and won everything in the world. Because the best teams in the world all play 4-4-2, regardless of personnel, philosophy, or even evidence that the 4-4-2 is a shit system.

    Not only that but these folks want “true wingers” like Arsenal had in the past. Wingers like Freddie Ljungberg! But was it really always like that? Here’s an account of Ljungberg’s wing play from Arsenal’s 0-0 FA Cup draw against Leicester:

    As for the right wing, I do like Ljungberg, but he also doesn’t play as a winger [“also” refers to Arsene’s selection of Malz over Overmars, Tim]. He pops up all over the place, and often to good effect, but it doesn’t help the shape, not compared to someone like Parlour who has a bit more self-discipline in that way.
    Who does that remind you of? Reminds me of Theo Walcott, or I should say 12 goals, 10 assists Theo Walcott.

    I hope this isn’t a revelation to anyone, converting players, playing guys out of position, formations that don’t keep their shape are a hallmark of Arsene Wenger. In fact, there are so many examples of bloggers and sports writers wondering exactly what Arsene is doing over the last 15 years that you could say it’s the Wenger way to keep people wondering.

    There are other hallmarks of Wenger’s tenure such as teams who get close to winning and fall off at the last minute (Champions League, anyone?), teams who can’t hold on to leads, and teams who win one year and virtually take the next year off. But that is a larger post that I’m still compiling reports on. So for now, this is what you get.

    Frankly, this year’s overreaction seems to me to be down to trophies. Had we won the Carling Cup, there would be rave reviews about how Arsene’s 4-3-3 has “unleashed” Robin van Persie who has now scored 19 goals in his last 21 appearances — despite Cesc clearly struggling with fitness and personal problems. But Arsenal are in the last phase of a rebuilding project and they didn’t win a trophy. Naturally, people will ask questions, I suppose. I only hope we ask the right questions.

  • Davi

    @manny – I was well in favour of this new formation when we started using it, but it doesn’t seem to suit the majority of the players. It’s good for fabregas; theo and van persie seem to have adapted well; I can’t imagine arshavin in a 4-4-2 for us; and that’s about it. Since we changed from 4-4-2, our fullbacks have gone from being the best in the league to comparatively average – they don’t get enough protection!

  • manny

    The real problem is that Arsenal can go the way of Leeds no matter who is managing the club if we persist with the same financial approach without exception.

    All it would take is a serious or very possible circumstances – losing Champions League Football, losing top players as a result, being unable to replace them and add the players needed to move forward at once under our budget, a noticable drop in ticket sales, reduced prize revenue from Europa League Football, the Owner approving taking dividends to pay off the stock purchases as this happens, can lead to a situation where minimal revenue is coming inot the club and must either be opaid out to the owner, the creditors or we face possibly mid-table football or even potentially reelgation struggles in order to satisfy the obligations we have to meet. And given that this would continue potentially to 2031 the possibility that we might be unable to meet all these obligations and remain in the Premiership in order to do so at some point is not unreal.

    The reality is and I first warned this back in 2006 that under-investment can have the same catastrophic impact and over-investment.

  • Adam

    @ Walter, your possibly right, but for me our season started to deteriorate when we beat Stoke 1-0 before the cup final, up until that point we was moving along quite nicely. losing Fabregas and Walcott hampered the cup final and we all know what happened after. We lose Van Persie for the Sunderland game and can only draw, Then we face the two finalists of this years champions league, lose both. So for me losing Fabregas and Walcott for the final was a turning point, Had they both been 100% I beleive our season would have turned out differently.

  • John

    We lost the league because we were not good enough ….not in terms of football ability going forward but in terms of having no organisation and discipline at the back.

    The balance is off in this team and lets face it has been for some time. We are too attack minded and although at times this is breaktaken to watch its equally cruel in seeing the opposition score aganist us with a free header in the six yard box.

    Wenger is 100% responible for this…. there has to be better onus on defending lets not forget Newcastle many moons ago thinking they could outscore anybody and we all know how that one ended for King Kev.

    I not saying we are as bad as they were but when I look at Utd the other day they have very good individual defenders with a average midfield who works there socks of going forward and back. Arshivan would not be let d**k about waiting for the ball when there was defending to be done.

    What else are we missing well leadership and badly theres none there…. we simply dont have a shouter or someone to grab a teamate by the ba**s and give him a dressing down or up when needed. All our players seem to be these really nice guys scared to rattle afew cages and pi** people off. I’d rather be hated with trophies in the cabinet than a soft boy anyday.

    One final point our back up players really let the side down and I’m talking about Alumnia, Squallaci, Eboune,Denilson, Rosicky…. these players were on the bench for months yet when given a chance to start in the 1st team they put in below average performances and I’m not even talking about ability.

    Do you ever wonder why people HATE Denilson heres the answer the little f*t ass doesnt play for a month is on 15 minutes playing aganist say Parker for example and Parker (much older) beats he in to the 50:50 ball because he wants it more while Denilson is trotting behind him.

    How these people can cash there wages in a disgrace!!!!

  • Mandy dodd

    If the Jens thing is true just hope we keep him on in the coaching capacity that was supposedly earmarked for schwarzer. Jens is a giant presence, chesney has recently spoken about him behaving like an assistant manager at half times . Please let it happen!
    It this stuff really true about cesc having personal problems? Just hope they do not lead him further to the door?
    As for formations, we need to be far tighter and better organised as a team. We need a formation when we still win when we are a bit off our game, when confidence is low and key players missing. Must admit I thought we had that at the start of season when missing Theo, vp and cesc . But we have lost our way.
    Other sites talk of protests and toys out of plans. I think we are at the point where changes are needed but let’s give him a chance to see what he does this summer. Many think our scrimping and saving, season ticket prices have just been undertaken to raise share prices for the lucky few to sell. Many are angry despite any proof of this. We have a new owner let’s see what his game is we may even be pleasantly surprised.
    I think this summer we will lose a few hopefully not cesc or nasri. We may even get a marquee striker and a young winger. But hopefully the team will toughen up a bit, gain confidence and learn tactical variety. And then there is tv.
    There are some real knee jerkers out there.

  • bjtgooner

    Playing a relatively experienced team against the Spuds and beating them has to have been the right approach.

    The problem with the extended Carling Cup run was that we did not finish off teams from lower leagues first time around and the replays clogged the fixture list, increasing general frustration and fatigue both mental and physical. There were also some occasions in the Champions League group matches when we did not seem quite up for it and we threw away valuable points.

    It was as if team confidence was fragile all season and after the purple patch of play from Dec to Feb a variety of circumstances wrecked our morale and confidence. Losing the CC final was one obvious factor. Since then we have not really bounced back. We must recover our form for the last 2 matches to ensure we retain 3rd place and avoid the Champions League qualifying round. Lets hope the boys put in a good performance on Sunday.

  • Mandy dodd

    We could do with signing of with a couple wins. Wenger looks exasperated to me, maybe at the way some heads have dropped, tho they still raised it for utd. Some players look fatigued, some have lost confidence, some certainly give the appearance of lacking commitment. We have a brilliant captain of his country who is fantastic when things going well, but goes into one when things go badly sometimes looking like a man full of regrets. I fear we may lose aa in the summer. Then we have those who give hundred percent every game they play.
    Then we have fans who have gone into a media driven breakdown. We all want the same thing ie success but some fans are as unworthy of it as they perceive some players are.

  • Gooner80

    As long as they learn from the mistakes for next season, and just really go for it, no team can live with Arsenal on their day not even Barca.

    ********************************************************
    if a supporter cant cope with Arsenal and Wenger at their worst they damn sure dont deserve Arsenal at their best

    often many geniuses are not appreciated in their life time, the man is sown into the fabric of arsenal.

    Why cant arsenal fans see that, this team has had growing pains and is teething a little, the league has changed an enormous amount in 12 months. We lose but we are the better team, Arsene is the dream

  • Pid83

    Manny – for your ealier post about Wengers Formations, nice copy and paste job from 7amKickOffs latest blog post, why bother??? At least reference where it is from, rather than passing off someone else’s work/comments as your own! It’s not big and it’s not clever!

  • Phoenix Gunner

    @Gooner80, did you just quote Marilyn Monroe in a footie context…

  • Phoenix Gunner

    Also, concur with Pid83, I recognised Manny’s post, that’s not cricket

  • Simon

    Its amazing how some people still have hope, and can always find positives in a bad situation.
    BUT i want to ask a question, we finished 3rd last season and it looks likely that we may finished 3rd again, what does that represent.???

    Improvement would be 2nd and if god forbid we finished 4th (I won’t even contemplate that)
    The facts are simple this team has not improved simple and plain. Wenger can talk all he wants but the league table does not lie.

    Wenger and the board boast of doing things the right way, they may not spend millions on players but if that’s the case why is our wage bill so high (3rd)???
    and why do the fan have to pay more for tickets??? this is just very unfair,

    Arsene wenger and the board have been outsmarting the fans for the last 6 season simple and plain

    Some time ago i too shared the notion that we have to buy, but the events of the last 3 seasons have caused me to think about this deeper. All the players are not bad as some people have made them out to be (Some are for sure) this team should have at least one the title once. The fact that they have not won anything is not a coincidence something is wrong.

    People say buy cahill but if he comes and the teachings that are present remain he would fail. We can bring vidic, if the philosophy remains we will still be second best. And that’s the problem, don’t get me wrong wenger’s philosophy is not all wrong it just need some fine tuning BUT for someone so inteligent it been too long.

    I will take a bet for sure that may be 1 or 2 players might come in may be none cause depending on who he buys it could still represent none. Wenger will never change he has a point to prove, and when men have power unopposed they don’t listen to reason
    I read on another site that 3 years ago they interviewed clichy and sagna and the same comments they made back then is the same comments made this season. That says only one thing no improvement.

    How can i be Optomistic about this, people on this very blog wants readers to make logical comments and so fourth BUT when problems so easy to see are left unchecked and unaddressed how is that logical.

    I mentioned on many occasions that the players are not to blame, wenger buys them and coaches them (or don’t, looks that way) gives them huge contracts. Arsenal is the only team where a player can make mistakes weekin weekout and still play next week, so how can we blame the players .

    A lot of you come here saying the players have let him down, his job is to assemble the best team to win trophies and if does not happen its his fault not the player.
    There is going to be a head on collision at arsenal for sure because enough is enough…….

    The philosophy at Arsenal must change for us to go forward if it remains then we will continue to have seasons like this. It will be very hard to win the title next season because chlse, MAU will improve their playing staff with winners not inexperience players, so if we can’t pass the small test how can we expect to pass difficult ones….

  • Koen

    Wenger still fielded youth most of the time and just added some players wo were lacking in match fitness.

    So you cannot really say they played five games more I think.

    Losing the final, however, was a blow.

  • vretou

    Wenger’s real problem is he has no idea how to get a team to defend. Lets think about it when he came into power at Arsenal, he inherited the golden 5 of Seaman, Keown, Adams, Dixon and Winterburn and he started teaching and bringing in players to simply go forward and pass the into the net. Yeh this worked because when we won the league in 98′ we only conceded something like 20 goals. Then came the invincibles who played such fast, quick football that we were 3-0 up against teams in 30mins. But even with this team Wenger did get EXTREMELY lucky; y? well Cole came thru the ranks, K.Toure actually started playing left wing at Arsenal till Wenger saw he could play a CB, Lauren was brought in as a RM and then tried as RB, Lehmann was cheap and extremely lucky and as for Campbell well campbell was the only World Class defender Wenger ever signed and even then he was for FREE!! yes he did try R.Wright, Cygan, Luzhny, Stepanovs, Senderos etc etc but he was sooooooo fixed on passing the ball and going forward that he forgot and neglected the BACKDOOR!! in my opinion hire Adams and Keown as defence coaches

  • Sharad

    With Man City now only 2 points behind Arsenal is is essential that we beat Villa. To finish 4th would be disastrous in what has been a disastrous season. The 12-18 points that we have given away this season in games we should either have won or in games where we had at least a 2 goal lead has been a direct result of weak minded uncommitted players and a weak minded egotistical unbending manager who lives in some sort of parallel universe where spending money on superior products is a crime. It’s obvious what sort of economist Wenger is/was and the word ‘social’ comes to mind. Well that’s valid in the world of development economics but in the world of Premier League football money talks. Of course Wenger has spent money in the recent past, lots of it, but he has an uncanny knack of bringing in the wrong players. Hleb was the biggest waste of £13million in the history of Arsenal, Arshavin was quality and played brilliantly for 6 months and then being played out of position ruined him and he is not interested anymore, and hasn’t been all season. Chamakh after a bright 3 months has been awful, now we know why he was free but his £50grand per week isn’t. Then we have Koscielny & Squillaci, the pair of them aren’t worth Tony Adams on crutches. The vibes coming out of the club suggest another cheapo summer of average unknowns, probably either French or African, all bought from the lesser leagues in Europe. The size of a club is determined by turnover, the players brought, in and trophies won. Turnover, in spite of some dire sponsorship deals is good because season ticket holders are being fleeced, other than that we are underperforming. We need a change of direction with Kronke selling his shares to Usmanov, a new younger manager and investment in new players. The alternative is we drop out of the top4 and the Emirates becomes a white elephant.

  • andy bishop

    Been a gooner for 50 years and can re assure those that feel Arsenal will become a mediocre club. It will never happen. @ vretou..spot on. Wenger is not a defensive minded coach..all managers and players know this. How many times have our back four been caught out by letting the ball bounce and caught trying to put it on the ground and play. This is an admirable quality in a player but it does not work in the Premier League all the time. Patrick Viera was our key man for years and papered over Wengers defensive frailties by being such a great player alongside Ray Parlour a truly unsung Arsenal hero. Nasri, Arshavin, Walcott could not lace Parlours boots for defensive quality and sheer hard work. Did anyone notice how well Viera played against Spurs. Now he has a few games under his belt he is fitter. His first instinct when an attack breakes down is to sit in front of the back four and organise. I guess he wanted too much money to come back to Arsenal for a couple of years. We have some great young midfielders..if Fabregas goes in the summer we will be relying upon two or three twenty year olds to run our season from midfield. It will not work. This team is not a team developing into greatness it cannot defend under pressure. Wenger has no plan B so he needs to buy top players.

  • TommieGun

    Like DP, I think we lost the title @ the ems. It’s easy to see.

    But I’m still amazed but all those people with no experience whatsoever, saying what should be done and who should be bought.

    It’s stupid and ridiculous.

    All I can say (and in my honest opinion, all people who are not professionals can say) is what we saw on the pitch.

    I dare to say (despite this site’s absolute love for stats) that stats are probably not a very good source to rely on when trying to make a point – simply because stats can prove almost anything – many times a conclusion and the total opposite of that same conclusion. That is true in almost every single branch of science. This is why, for instance, stats are rejected as a valid proof in court.

    This is also why, despite the stats, anyone who saw all our games this season, and has eyes in his head, knows that Arshavin had an awful season in comparison to last season. He even admitted it himself, and it really surprises that some people try to use stats to claim that his season was not so bad.

    So I would actually put stats aside, and as I said, the opinions of self-appointed-experts, and just tell it as I saw it.

    To make things clear: I think we DID lose the title, as a matter of definition, rather than not WON it, due to the simple fact that I truly believe that we were the favorites to win it, circumstancialy speaking.

    Our brilliant team grew up by a year; We did not suffer as many long term injuries as in the last few seasons (and in comparison to our rivals, who also suffered a few injuries to important players); We have by far the deepest squad in the league (could be in Europe even); Our main rivals became relatively weaker than in past years (KGB getting older, Lamps injury and Drogs slump; Manure having the worst squad in a decade, Rooney loses form for half a season, Valencia and Ferdinand out for a very long period).

    The biggest thing, for me, was actually seeing the squad play the first 4-5 matches of the season. It was apparent that there was a new spirit, a new vibe to the team. Remembering all past criticism about “Arsenal don’t like it up ’em” and that we can’t put up a fight – it seemed that the guys turned the corner. I remind you the Blackburn away (2-1) and then Bolton @ home (4-1) – fine displays that combined our usual flair with some “don’t fuck with us” attitude. I absolutely loved it. The draw @ Sunderland was still after a very good performance which was followed by humiliating the Spuds @ Shite hart lane.

    And then it showed. When it happened, we all said “it’s one of those days”. But retrospecitvely, it was there: Home defeat to West Brom. I want to remind you that match. It was Nasri and 10 other imposters, who happened to look like our players, wore their shirts, but in all other aspects were just clones, drones, call it whatever you want.

    Those 10 other guys who played that day, and I remember that match clearly, played like they don’t give a flying fuck in a rolling donut. Maybe it was down to playing so well for about 2 months, maybe it was disrespecting the newly promoted side – but that performance was unforgettable to me. And in retrospect – unforgiven.

    People can say it was Almunia’s horror show – and it was – but that’s just one part of the story. It was the fact that the players did not try hard enough.

    As I wrote it can be attributed as “one of these days”. It can happen. We saw Manure throwing away leads 3 times in the beginning of this season, sometimes a 2 goal lead. And it doesn’t seem to matter in the early stages of the season.

    But those same imgaes haunted us again v. Newcastle @ home, which was after a very lame performance @ Shakhtar. Again – no commitment, no will, you look at the players, you can read the body language: We are too good. It’s going to be a walk in the bloody park. And then around 60th minute, when it’s still 0-0: Why the hell is this crappy opposition team trying to interfere with our game? Why are they trying to win? Can’t they see we are better and that we should win this? Followd by a late defeat (or a stupid unthinkable draw).

    And maybe that’s where we lost the title: when we failed to address that symptom, when after those disinterested performances (which were followed by some good performances) nothing was done in terms of motivation and psychology.

    And I think this what came back to hunt us: psychology and motivation. I cannot believe that a team that ran over the KGB 3-1 (made it all the way from Tel-Aviv for that one, cost me an arm and a leg) with so much confidence, or the team that beat Barcelona 2-1, coming back from behind, is the same team that (with all due “respect” to Phil Dowd) gave away a 4 goal lead, or conceded that penalty v. Liverpool, or failed to score v. Blackburn (after 6 straight losses for them), or gave away the 2 goal lead v. the Spuds. There is one thing in common for all those bad results: and no, I’m not talking about the refs. I’m talking about lack of commitment and – in a way – accountability. It seemed like it’s nobody’s fault.

    When I saw Manure losing 2-0 @ Blackpool or @ Westham, I knew that they could come back because you can see that when they are with their backs against the wall, they bring up their game, they put in that extra gear, and just try harder. And honestly, looking at their team – some of their players wouldn’t qualify as shoe shiners for our players. I mean Park Ji Sung – can he really play football? To me he just seems like a guy in great shape who can run for 100 minutes. Or their right back position? Their creative midfield (non existent?) But they try. Like their match v. Newcastle (which ended 0-0) – they kept on trying to score until the very last minute. I compare it to us v. Liverpool – it was 80th minute, and Clichy was playing a sideways, slow, boring ball to Diaby, who duly returned it to him.

    So (and I do apologize for the lengh of this post) in my opinion there is something psychologically or mentaly wrong with our team that needed to be adressed a whole lot sooner than what Mandy Dodd said up there about unleashing Jens …

    And this is the final argument of my post: Even if Arsene’s plan was to “teach” the guys how to win by winning the Milky Cup, and even if Kos and Scez managed to fluff it – having a stronger mentality and psychology, would have made that loss insignificant. As we all know, it shattered the will and motivation (except when we had a very tempting scalp to go at – Manu, which we totally killed).

    I truly hope that this can be rectified next season, as I do believe our squad is good enough to win things.

  • Gooner80

    @Phoenix Gunner

    I heard the quote a long time ago, didnt know who said it, but I think it is very relevant

  • A Casual Observer

    “Wenger’s real problem is he has no idea how to get a team to defend. Lets think about it when he came into power at Arsenal, he inherited the golden 5 of Seaman, Keown, Adams, Dixon and Winterburn”

    Didn’t we finish 5th with those players in 1995/1996?

  • Sharad

    I aint got anything against the French but why is there so much french players in the first team? Think about it, there is Clichy, sagna, koscieny, Squilachi, Diaby and there is probably more coming in the summer hahaha. Can you imagine a Spanish, french, German, or an Italian club with 5 English players in their first team……. hmmmmm i don’t think so. I think this Summer, Wenger should get in players like Shay Given, Garry Cahill, Leighton Baines, Scott Parker, and that Southampton kid….Chamberlin. So players like Wilshere and Walcott don’t feel like foreingners in their own country….they probably do already. C’mon Arsenal!! we are loosing our identity!!!

  • Stevie E

    @TommieGun, can’t argue with that, pretty fair assessment of the team, season & problems. @Sharad, I ain’t a gallophobe but… have a read of Tony’s latest post, might ring a few bells with you. Also, you may want to have a think who was in the starting 11 of the invincibles, I can only recall two english players and a mix of french, brazilian, african etc. Very much like we have now! Finally, Shay Given is Irish you plank!

  • Phoenix Gunner

    @Gooner80, I know, I completely agree, I’m only teasing really (though it was MM)

  • walter

    Sharad,
    I think for the first time in a long time in the EPL we had 4 UK players starting at Stoke: Gibbs, Wilshere, Ramsey and Walcott. And of those I have only seen Wilshere really having a go at Stoke. Maybe he was the only one in the team trying hard. But Jack is also running but with no fuel anymore. He had a great season in all so not blaming him for anything but when there is no petrol in the car even a Aston Martin wont run anymore.

  • Gooner80

    I think they doubted themselves when they lost the carling cup

    @TommieGun some fair points in there.

    I dont like the cliches of the pundits largely because they go way over the top and exaggerate, the same reason some untold Articles are over exaggerated to make fun of how things are blown out of perspective, but out of the top four teams we are affected the most and very much a confidence team, sports is more a mental game than a physical game and the only difference between us, chelsea, and UTD is they have been there and done it, so they know what it takes we can only believe we can do it, but I feel losing makes you stronger, feeling all those bitter disappointments makes you want to try harder, it makes you want to prove people wrong, defeat can make you hungry, I feel the team is getting hungrier and when they get a taste of silverware they could put a choke hold on all silverware for years to come

  • vretou

    With another capitulation complete, I have been asking myself where would we have finished had we started poorly this season?
    In recent seasons we have got off to a reasonable if not a very good start, only to collapse at the first sign of real pressure or adversity.
    So what would happen lets say if we were to start the first quarter of next season in the sort of form we are in now, that being 10 points form 9 games?
    I doubt very much if this team under this manager could turn our fortunes around. I fear we would find ourselves in a very similar position to what the scousers were in early this season.
    Add to this that there is a very strong chance that we will in fact have a weaker squad next season to the one we have now, with Cesc, Nasri and Arhavin’s futures all very uncertain.
    So with this very worrying thought I for one am feeling even more pessimistic than usual about next season.

  • Shard

    I love how everything conveniently fits into a story. Wenger got lucky with the back 5, Vieira papered over the defensive cracks, If we had had a poor start to the season where would we be..

    Basically all this is an attempt to rewrite history, and all for maligning Wenger, so as to prove that he was never a good manager, he never achieved all those things with us because of his ability, but only because he got lucky with external factors. Why then are they so opposed to external factors being responsible for Wenger’s and Arsenal’s failures? If anything bringing in Vieira has less to do with luck, than the a****** referees doing all they can to gift the game to the opposition. But no.. that would be whingeing.. while this is realism..

  • Stevie E

    @vretou, man you are so pessimistic, you can’t just be unhappy about where we actually are this season, you beat yourself up about how much worse it could’ve been if we didn’t actually do what we actually did??? And now you’re writing off next season before this one’s over with our best players already sold to only you know who. It must be a barrel of laughs inside your mind! Cheer up dude, it could be so much worse, you could be a spud!

  • Gooner80

    the way some arsneal fans talk we should all take a knife and slit our throats.
    year after year what do we hear, we are not going to finish in the top 4 , all our top players are leaving, arsenal need to buy Garry Cahill, a Gk and a defensive midfielder . If your expectations are that pessimistic You may be pleasantly surprised, what I dont get is why so many get angry when they knew it was going to happen.

    As Mandy Dodd mentioned Prozac is available.

    I think it is unfair to criticize a teams winning mentality when you write a team off before the season has started. Players will come and go, I know that wenger has a good track record of keeping hold of players he wanted to keep and letting them go when past their best, our team is only going to get better they are nowhere near their peak, Dalglish is getting rave reviews for bringing in youth same with fergie, but Oh no Arsene you are a useless manager, you should have been sacked a long time ago, all of those wins have nothing to do with you, you are crap and you know how I know this because the Tv told me so

  • vretou

    No one is saying Wenger didnt give the famous back 5 a shot in the arm (quite literally if you read the Merson thread) but also you cant tell me that Wenger doesnt have an achilles heel when it comes to the defensive art….. His recent team attack and try to outscore teams and over the years it is proven time and time again that that type of naivety doesnt win trophies. It is quite possible even almost certain that Wenger wouldnt have bought Bould, Keown, Dixon and Winterburn if he was around back then.

    As i said IMO he will be known as the greatest Arsenal manager ever when he goes but defending is not and never has been his forte

  • Shard

    @vretou

    Give me attack over defense any day. The old adage in basketball at least is that offense wins you games, but defense wins you championships. But it’s just one of those things that sounds funky without much meaning. Yes a title winning team needs to defend well, but it will always be your attack that wins you games, and with it the title. The problem is our attacking hasn’t been working properly of late. As you say, that is at least Wenger’s forte, and I’d look for him to set that right in the summer. Along with it if he can sort out our set piece problems on both ends of the field we should be much stronger.

  • Gf60

    For one of those jumping up and down after the 4-1 (pity it wasn’t 5 for real payback) that was a glass of cold water down my back. BUT for once, have to agree with DP…we lost it at home. 6 points blown just from WBA and the barcodes…when did it ever happen that we lost 2 home games to promoted sides? (not to mention dropping 4 on the away legs!!)

  • manny

    @tommiegun: and the bullshit just keeps on coming.

    You do realise you are contradicting yourself…within your own post and almost within the same paragraph!

  • TommieGun

    @ Manny – please enlighten me …