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Who are ya? A quick review of those who would challenge us

Who Are Ya?

By Simon Bailey

The press have gleefully swooped on Arsene’s comments at the AGM and it is now gospel, we are bringing home silverware this season.

Personally, I saw Arsene re-iterating the same position he has taken all season. Pundits are getting very fond of saying that we have more chance of winning the CL than the prem. We are not going to know much about the CL until we win our group.

The Premier League is however well underway. This season the league is wide open. We are a quarter of the way through and it looks like the breakaway bunch will be six or seven clubs. All of these have Title and or European aspirations. They also present a nice snapshot of the premier league as a whole.

So apart from Arsenal who are these upstarts, well, who are ya?

Man City are the new pretenders, bristling with new found wealth. The 200 million quid the new owners have spent since the start of last season seems to be paying off. They won their first four on the trot. They have blipped since then, with only one win in five, but with the depth of squad they have, and a january transfer window looming, City are going to spend their way as far as they can.

Despite all of their spending, I am unsure as to whether they are playing as a team or as a group of individually talented players. Is it just me or do their goal celebrations seem forced or stage-managed? They are undoubtedly a team to be contended with this term.

Man United on the other hand are the old pretenders. Been there, seen it, T-shirt etc… Without a doubt the most successful team in England, maybe the world. But like all old things, they need regular maintenance to keep them performing at the top level. The cracks are beginning to show in the great machine that is United. Riddled with debts foisted upon them by their American owners they were forced to sell their prize asset and were unable to replace him.

United without Ronaldo are a desperate crowd held together only by memories of recent success. The have lost twice and drawn once so far, but they were lucky against City, Sunderland and Arsenal, picking up five points more than they should have. When they are not the best team, they are generally the luckiest.

Liverpool have had a shocking start to the season with the only silver lining being the demolition of United last weekend. Whether it was the carrot or the stick that Benitez wielded, it did the trick and the papers, fickle as they are, are now announcing a new resurgent Liverpool, ready to challenge for the title. I think not, Liverpool’s aspirations this year will be the same as ours last season; qualify for champions league and keep the cash coming in.

On the pitch they have looked very unsteady without Bill (Gerrard) and Ben (Torres). The rest of the weeds have looked increasingly fragile when left to fend for themselves. Gerrard is playing further back than he was last season and isn’t as useful as he could be. If the failure to qualify for Europe doesn’t scupper them, the banks will.

Having failed to secure 5th or even 6th place last season, Villa are again riding high at the beginning of this season. Beating liverpool at anfield as well as a home win against Chelsea as well as a decent set of results in their other games would lead you to believe that they are in with a good chance.

But if you look closely, there are uncertainties. Are they able to score from open play ? Is the most obvious question. They have scored 13 with at least 10 from set plays. This is ok at the beginning of a season, but opposition teams soon catch on.

Villa’s American owner, Randy Lerner, (probably the best made up pornstar name in the football world) is quite content to throw a few quid at the team every season, but it’s never quite enough. Many of their players will play many games this season and this will inevitably take its toll as the season draws to a close.

Chelsea are riding high again. Top of the league at home and played 3, won 3 in Europe. Their form is second only to their arrogance. The Lampard, Terry and Cole triumvirate that are the backbone of the English team endear this club to British press like no other. Even the two window ban on transfers was greeted by a couple of paragraphs buried between ads for incontinence pants and the like. They won their first six, and have only been beaten by Villa and Wigan. Although neither of those defeats followed a weekday CL or FIFA match.

As a model for buying silverware, this is the perfect one. Having invested close to ¾ of a billion quid, Abramovich has shown the world how to build a team of aging, gold plated stars that despite being able to win domestic titles find it impossible to crown Europe.

Arsenal have started the season well, scoring 10 and conceding just 2 in the first two games. The news of which was buried next to the aforementioned Chelsea news. Following a bitterly contested CL qualifier, and a double round of international matches, two Manchester teams, each playing with 12, stole points from us.

Our injury ravaged squad then proceeded to win the next four and suffer a draw at WHU.

This draw followed closely on the heels of a midweek away draw. At this point editors were told to hold the front page, the wheels are coming off. Steam has been seen pouring from the servers that host blogoshpere. The amount of negative ‘I told you so’ or ‘he will lose all the support he has recently gained if he lets this continue’ or ‘he didn’t make his substitutions soon enough’ pieces or comments that have surfaced is astounding.

Not as outstanding as the way our season has developed. True we dropped a couple at West Ham, but we’re above the Spuds, and three behind united with a game in hand.   And we all know about the Suds yesterday.

Our injury situation is seemingly only on defcon 1 right now with only Wallcott, Denilson and Djourou being out for a month or more, although Bendtner is a further worry now. A week ago we were probably at defcon 2, and by the end of next week we probably will be again.

But that is one of the joys of being an Arsenal supporter, the best team this week isnt the same as the best team last week, but invariably they play sublime football and get results.

And this is what will see us through the season, the unerring ability to mutate and survive. As Villa and the Spuds and United lose their legs and city stage manage a disappointing end to the season, Liverpool having fallen by the wayside long since, Arsene’s vision and common sense will prevail.

Who are ya?… We’re the Arsenal.

Editorial note: 100 years ago Arsenal faced a deeper crisis and were taken over by Fulham (honest I am not making that up).  The whole bizarre story, complete with the involvement of MI5 and Winston Churchill (home secretary at the time) is told in full in MAKING THE ARSENAL. )

34 comments to Who are ya? A quick review of those who would challenge us

  • Cujo

    Lets not forget, our fantastic financial position, which thanks to to Wenger means we can reinforce at will if needs be come january. This, combined with our brilliant footballing displays, justifies Wenger’s claims of silverware this season. I Believe this season will be one to remember. Keep the faith!

  • don't believe the hype

    Great article, absolutely spot on!

  • Gooner

    “Their form is second only to their arrogance”

    Great line. However all EPL title winning teams have some sort of arrogance/swagger in their games. We look like we are slowly getting our swagger back.

  • shotta-gunna

    How apt re Chelsea: “As a model for buying silverware, this is the perfect one.” But you were much too optimistic about their chances. Over the past two years their form has declined precipitously in midseason, i.e from December onwards, when the cold of winter and the spate of 2 matches per week begin to take its toll. Furthermore in January the heart of the team (Drogba and Essien) plus Kalou will be off to the ACN. No reserves to talk about and most of their promising young players farmed out on loan, it will take a miracle to sustain their current form. These “aging, gold plated stars” have over the past two years found it harder to win both domestic and European titles despite magnificent efforts on their part and having some of the best coaches in the world helping them to eke out results. Frankly I expect Arsenal to overhaul them by January-February. I expect ManU to be a much greater challenge and that both teams will be fighting it out towards the end. You read it here first.

  • walter

    Good analyse Simon, I can agree with you for most of it.
    I just hope that our injurylist gets a bit smaller the following weeks. With the new injury from Bendtner I hope Eduardo keeps fit for the next month and that Vela also is back fit soon.

  • Renan

    I just love Arsenal and Wenger with his footballing philosophy.

  • diceman1984

    Very good analysis…

    I myself also believe Wenger is on the verge of proving a lot of people and non believers wrong again….

    I don’t know about u but when he went mental (I think at the missed shot by Eduardo) yesterday it showed how much he wanted to win and humilataed the spuds…love to see that passion came out of him…

    Let’s go gunners

  • Damn_Gallas

    We need rosicky to come back soon. We missed him.

    Walcott and Denilson to come back soon, for we miss walcott’s pace and denilson presence in the midfield (take out that useless Abou Diaby).

    We need vela to come back as well soon, for he will lead us to glory in the carling cup.

  • Flint McCullough

    The truth is they can all challenge us, Simon.

    It would be a mistake to write off Man U or Liverpool, whilst Chelsea certainly look the strongest as they did this time last year.

    I believe in this young squad that AW has been building & do you know what the biggest challenge to our success is?

    A sickening element of so called Arsenal fans, the anti-support, who continuously try to eat away at the confidence of this developing team. Any team in any season will have a rough patch, there are those that cannot recognise that this is the time when support is needed most.

    So far so good,we are doing well, our team is good enough, are the fans?

  • LRV

    Absolutely spot on, Simon. The Sun is, indeed, just about to shine.

  • don't believe the hype

    You are so right Flint. The anti-support are so arrogant they expect the team to win by a landslide every week and absolutely crucify them if they slip from that standard in the slightest. There will be rough times when the team need us to lift them up. I hope and pray that the true support will stay focused and out shout the boo boys to keep us on track.

  • gerald

    I am so used to negative comments from pundits and commentators that I analyse every bit of any positive remarks that they come up with. Of course I cannot read much body language, watching tv but you can always feel the awkwardness that they have when they say something nice about us. Believe me, the weekend that we win the league, 90% of the commentary will be about how we have never defended a premier league trophy.

  • James

    I would like to make a point on Diaby. It might

    OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPS. This is a copy of a piece on Team Talk. Sorry I didn’t spot it before and let it through. Apologies to the original author.

  • newcomer1

    I have been following Arsenal and

    OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPS a lot of this came from Arsenal Column, and that is not allowed. Original stuff here only please.

  • walter

    Well James, you may be telling a very wise thing. I never looked at it in that way, but yes you are right. The same, as with Song, applied to Denilson last season. He got all the negative remarks from the fans (and Wenger for playing him) but this season Denilson also was flying (until his injury).
    Maybe it is exactly what Wenger is doing now with Diaby who seems to be fitter than ever (as you mentionnned) and this could be the year before Diaby really comes to live up to what Wenger sees in him.

  • walter

    Flint, it drives me mad.
    Yesterday evening when I was reading some blogs I couldn’t believe the negativity towards players like Diaby and Eboue and also towards Wenger for playing them;
    I was shocked. We just had beaten our fiercest rivals with ease, won 3-0 and if Eduardo would be fit it would have been more than 5 goals, and still all some could say: Diaby sucks, not good enough,
    What have we deserved to have such fans ? Are those really fans ? Or fans in disguise ?

  • jbh

    Pundit of the Week:
    Glen Hoddle (SS Ch league) re Arsenal:
    “great pretty play, good to watch (when have we heard this before) but they are not clinical enough, they do not score enough when in scoring position”

    Lets not let the facts get in the way of the opinion Glen.
    Premier League this year:
    Chelsea – shots/attempts 202, goals 28 (efficiency 13.9%)
    MU – shots 152, goals 23 (efficiency 15.1%)
    Liv – shots 164, goals 25 (efficiency 15.2%)
    Ars – shots 155, goals 32 (efficiency 20.6%) – Arsenal have played 1 game less

    Last years CL winners – Barcelona shots 176, goals 32 (efficiency 18.2%)

  • Adrian Wagenaar

    Watching Arsene Wenger’s AGM speech online at the AGM OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPS much of this piece was nicked from Online Gooner and we don’t allow that sort of thing on this site. It has been cut

  • philip

    Firstly I have to say that song was OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPS this post was mostly stolen from Online Gooner and so has been cut

  • Great News.

    UNTOLD ARSENAL in the form of our work on Arsenal’s history is getting a big mention in the official programme on Wednesday for the AZ game.

    I wrote a page for the programme, and have just heard it is in – including (I hope, unless there are any cuts) details of the 100 years anniversary, and the site, and the MAKING THE ARSENAL book.

    It it is the first “formal” recognition of the whole project from the club. Obviously it is primarily about the story of 100 years ago, but still, it is (for me at least) a terrific recognition of the idea of UNTOLD that started two years ago.

    If you are going to the game on Wednesday, get a programme and have and tell your mates to read the blog and buy the book!!!

    I hope you’ll forgive me for writing about this further in the build up to Wednesday.

    (A very excited) Tony

  • otariq

    Flint McCullough,

    You are so right in your comments. Blogs like Arsenal Review and the kiddie Le Grove are destroying and leading Arsenal Fans down a dirty path.

  • walter

    Well Tony, you deserve all the credits you get for your blog, your book, well… for all the work you put in all those things.

    Maybe all the other readers could join in at this new chant, I’m sure they recognise the tune… 😉
    “There’s only one Tony Attwood, one Tony Attwood,
    one Tony Attwooooooood, there’s only one Tony Attwood”

  • walter

    Jbh, thanks for those numbers.
    This once again shows how those pundits work. They don’t see at the stats just tell them what they feel based upon their own narrow minded thoughts.

  • diceman1984

    Jbh:

    Nice stats…when u think about it, this season we took a lot of chances…Eduardo’s miss just forced people to go over the top as it was so clear cut.

    And we and the club do not deserve those so called fans who are morons trying to outsmart their (lack of) intelligence. To me they are just like ade ‘the sliding coward little bitch’ bayor – they talk so much shit about a club and a manager who clearly only want to give them the best things. Ungrateful bunch of fans in disguise (really believe a big part of them to be part time supporter).

    I know Eboue or Diaby may not be doing the greatest job in the world right now but I would take them over fletcher, Lucas, degen (and Kelly, who??), wes brown, and belleti(he’s like 37 years old) anytime.

  • Anyone see the football from Spain on Sky Sports tonight?

    One of the in-the-studio guests was Fran Merida – he was good. I don’t know if he has done this before, but I thought he equipped himself very well, a young man working in a foreign language.

    Final comment was that if Real Madrid had to play Arsenal, Arsenal would certainly win.

  • diceman1984

    one more thing:

    Gloomers love to use the “Wenger playing players out of position” argument to make an afford to make thier dirty agenda look good…

    We should remember that by playing players out of their position we got ourseleves some wonderful talents – Petit, Henry, Lauren, Parlour (a right side midefielder turned central midfielder), Van bronckhorst(midfielder turned left back, Toure, and Flamini in left back for that CL run. So I wouldn’t say he’s playing them out of position, but by being there with them everyday he knows something about them that we may not. Even the king Henry used half a season to start knowing how to play central forward. Wenger’s latest work playing RVP in a central forward role is starting to pay dividends, just like a lot of the things he’s done which will eventually slap the non believers hard in their sorry little faces.

  • don't believe the hype

    Great point James. Some supporters are too impatient and never learn. Arsene has proven them wrong before and I fully expect him to be vindicated about Diaby too.

    Congratulations Tony. I look forward to reading your piece in the programme on Wednesday.

  • walter

    Tony could you put your piece on the site somewhere for those, like me, who can’t go to the game ?

  • mark

    Interesting article Tony.

    1) I think we are really talking about a top 3. Liverpool have sold their midfield engine room Alonso, who was their most pivotal player.
    The rest, Man C, Spuds, AV will join Liverpool in the supporting roles also. Yes Man City have a line-up bristling with potential, but they haven’t got the form yet to ‘go consistent’.

    2) Here’s a little exercise: which players from other EP sides would enhance our side?
    My answer would be V.D.Sar ferdinand Cech Terry (Mikel?) Drogba Reina Torres

    You are a good analyst Tony, tell me if I’m right or wrong and what it means….

    3) Why is there so much hostility at the Emirates to Diaby? soon he will be blamed for the banking crisis and global cooling.

    4)Is Arshavin havin a laugh? Not Thierry style, but more come January and I’m off to sunny Spain? Or am I being hypernoid?
    Anyway, cmon Arsene , break the bank and buy Eden Hazard, he’s like Messi and Ronaldo rolled into one!!

    5) RVP is hitting his straps. Yippee!

    6) God Bless the good ship AW and all who sail in her.

  • Gunnersgun

    hi diceman1984,

    quote:”…playing players out of their position we got ourseleves some wonderful talents…” that y suggested AW should play diaby out of position as a forward, MAY BE he become a superstar overnight. (playing Wiltord out wide is a failure, wiltord return to France as centre forward, become top scorer)

  • amused_gooner

    I cant believe it james(8:20). You copied my post from Teamtalk. Try coming up with something original or atleast provide a reference to where you got it from if you agree with my point of view.

  • diceman1984

    Playing Diaby as a central forward is stupid, coming up with it is also pretty stupid gunnersgun

    Playing Wiltord wide did give some good moments. It’s far from a failure. And during that time we had Henry and Bergkamp starting almost every game, with Freddie or Robert injuried it was best to play him there.

    I said it before that everyone made mistakes. Wenger is a genius but he’s a human being. His mistakes, though, were by far outdone by his successes at so many things.

    Have a go at Diaby all you want, just know that it won’t do him any good and won’t stop Wenger playing him.

    LEARN TO ENJOY AND CHEER THE TEAM, at the very least, WHEN WE BEAT THE RIVALS YOU UNGRATEFUL BUNCH OF MOANERS

  • My apologies Amused Gooner – we have had a number of these cut and paste jobs over the weekend – and I spent several hours tracing them and removing them. One obviously slipped through – and it was yours. I have removed it now.

    I do take this seriously, and really do try to stop it happening.

    Tony

  • Gunnersgun

    Hope DICEMAN1984 read the follow 2 articles from Arsenal.com

    1) Diaby – I am stronger and more focused now
    2) Wenger – Diaby instincts are hard to curb
    Please read it with intelligence between the lines.

    If u don’t try u are even more STUPID.

    Only True Supporters Moan & Goan when the team is not doing well just as AW (whinger) moan & groan when unjustice is inflicted on the team.