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October 2016
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The difference at the start of the season (and ways to make it better)

By Walter Broeckx

Losing the first match of the season is most of the time a downer of course. But we didn’t play as we know we can play and we made a few vital mistakes. Both of them leading to a goal. And that was it.  But how did it come that far? A few things I want to highlight a bit that can be the reason why it didn’t work out as planned.

First of all:  West Ham seemed in much better shape than we did and they looked much fitter than our players. And that is really no surprise. We started our preparations around half July for most players and West Ham at that time were already playing Europe League matches. So they have been training and playing for at least 3 weeks more than we have. When you play teams that have the same preparation like against Chelsea that doesn’t show that much. But when you play a team that is in halfway September form like West Ham clearly is then you can notice the difference.

Our players all looked rather heavy legged for most of the match and their players were most of the time quicker and sharper to react to what the ball did. Pre-season fatigue compared to full season fitness if you want to compare it.

Another thing is the two goals we conceded. I wonder what would have happened now if we wouldn’t have bought Cech and it had been Szczesny or Ospina in goal in this match. I bet that a few would be foul mouthing off Wenger for not having bought that world class goalkeeper we lacked all those years. Fact is that even world class goalkeepers can make mistakes. And costly mistakes.

Now of course they cannot blame Wenger for this as he has done what they had told him to do but at the end of this match it didn’t matter who was in goal. Or maybe it did? The good thing is that Cech has been there and done it all before and so his experience will see him through such a bad match but it also shows that no matter how good or bad you are, you can have bad matches when you are a great player and you can have that one exceptional match when you are a bad player(not that there are bad players in the PL).

However I must say that I was a bit surprised with the fact that Debuchy was playing in the place of Bellerin. Was Bellerin injured? [Yes Walter, in his pre-match interview on the screens at the Ems he said it was a minor injury – Tony]   Because he wasn’t even on the bench. And I thought that if Bellerin wasn’t injured he should have played in this match without any doubt.

Because it was no rocket science that West Ham would park the bus.  And now we played with the two most defensive wing backs we have and that cost us in my opinion in our attack. If Bellerin was injured Wenger might have gone for Gibbs at the left wing to compensate the miss of Bellerin. But he went for the older defenders and the most defensive defenders at that. And that against a team that parked the bus and we know they would do this.

I felt that our attacks on the flanks never really came to life and that is a vital part of how we play and of our build up. Now it all came too much down to being soaked up near the middle of the field making it easier for West Ham to put their defenders in place.

I also thought that if we were going to play with Debuchy and Monreal it would be more when we go away against more attacking opponents and not against a team like West Ham.

Another thing I have mentioned before is that Oxlade-Chamberlain sometimes still has lapses where he loses concentration too much. And unfortunately mostly around our own penalty area. It has cost us a few goals last season and now in pre-season he did it again against Everton in the Asia cup. It only cost us a goal then but it is something he has to work on. Of course he is still young and will leave those mistakes out of his game in the future but now is good time for him to start the future.

So for me losing this match is a combination of a few things coming together. The overall fitness made a big difference, the fact that we played with heavy legs and the fact that a few players committed big mistakes. Big mistakes we shouldn’t make again. But this is football and played by human beings so mistakes will be made.  But not at this rate, if possible.

Despite winning the CS against Chelsea (who are also at our level of fitness and seem to be struggling) I still feel this team is and will move forward in their preparation. The players will become fitter and stronger and faster in match conditions. I have no doubt about that.

We had a good few rehearsals and then sometimes the première goes up in the air for some unknown reason. But one bad show doesn’t mean there will be a bad season. Wenger mentioned it in his presconferene before the match that the pre-season and the start of the season came too soon for us. And so it showed today on the field.

The Untold Banner at the Emirates – new update 10 August


79 comments to The difference at the start of the season (and ways to make it better)

  • Gouresh

    Hi Walter, I will agree with the defensive issues but fitness? In terms of fitness & sharpness, we should have been fine because the in the emirates cup and the CS and even the Asia cup we were fantastic. All I will say is that it could be the “season opener blues”.

  • Slugboy

    No excuse for not being as fit. That is what preseason is for.

    I was surprised by our tactics. Santi should be cm and Ramsey should be elsewhere (thought he was back to his form of beginning of last season – trying too hard). He needs to keep it simple.

  • tunnygriff

    Pressure on and we mess up again. Forget the goals which were horrendous all round but the worrying aspect is that we can’t break teams down. That’s Swansea, Sunderland, Chelsea have come to the Ems and done a job on us.Now West Ham have.

    We need to work out how to do this. As motd pointed out we continually try to pick away through the defence. It’s difficult. However having a wide man hug the touchline will move their fullback out from the corner of the 18 yard box creating space. Yes we missed Bellerin but why was Ox not given orders to do that. Why when Tomkins has been booked didn’t we put some one with pace against him? Instead we had Santi. Why didn’t Ox swap over for a bit ? Tomkins is a CB after all.

    Why was Santi play on the left ? I’m Ramsey’s biggest fan but the team needs Santi in there to control the tempo of the game. He helps Coquelin as his distribution is so good. With Ramsey there it’s all hustle and bustle. It’s why we needed Schneiderlin. He does what Coquelin does but crucially distributes the ball better. A better foil for Ramsey. It’s no coincidence that Ramsey’s best form came playing alongside Arteta who sadly now is not mobile enough in big games.

    Wenger has to be at fault for not instructing his players to keep width, throwing 3 forwards on with no one knowing their role and for playing Santi wide when he was a revelation in CM last season

    Palace will be similar to West Ham big, powerful and pacy. We have to up our game and win. Beat Palace and Liverpool and we’re back on track. Lose and the ridiculous notion we can win the league is snuffed out by September

    Hugely disappointing performance when Wenger and the players have talked about starting well. A very depressing start to the season. Walk the walk boys not talk the talk.

  • Tom

    When the keeper decides to come out, he has got to get the ball, so in this aspect Cech was at fault but if you look at the way Arsenal defended as a team at both goals, it paints a very sad picture.
    Not a single Arsenal defender puts even an arm or a hand on their markers to slow them down.
    Proper defending is a state of mind first and foremost , and it demands a great deal of physical contact and there was none on that play.

    At second goal Koscielny just stands there making absolutely no effort to block the shot.

    Terry and Cahill would throw their bodies at the ball in similar situation for sure. Wether Cech should’ve gambled to his left is another question, but to blame both goals solely on the keeper is misguided at best.

    Apart from the Ox, who took the game to West Ham players and ran riot , not a single other Arsenal player showed himself in a positive light.

    Giroud was set up twice by Ox and both times scuffed it badly wide – once from left and once from right, and only a deflection brought his shot back on goal forcing keeper to make the save.

    Ozil went missing, Coquelin reverted to type that saw him sent out on loan and Ramsey still goes for the spectacular when the simple is required.

    I take your point about the match fitness not being quite there yet, but Its the mental mistakes that did us in again.

  • nicky

    Can’t quite agree with you, Walter, about Debuchy and Monreal being defensive wingbacks.
    Whenever I noticed Monreal, he was joining in the attack AND using his right boot when required. 😉

  • Brickfields Gunners

    A very poor performance overall. Hope we sort it out quickly and be ready from the beginning of the next match and start playing well as we know we can. If Man City drop points today , it’ll be great.

  • Florian

    At the first goal: One of the defenders shouted “keeper’s ball”. It was indeed a bit of a losing scenario, as we had a high line, and Cech wasn’t fast enough off the goal. It’s difficult to predict what would have happened had our keeper stayed in goal, but chances are it would have been a difficult ball to keep out anyway.

    At the second goal: It was a cheap giveaway and Cech was a bit masked, I think it was Koscielny between him and the ball, so he saw the ball quite late. It’s true though that our defenders had no instant reaction, I can only put that down to lack of concentration. They could indeed be a bit more alert when Ox has the ball around our area, at least for the short term, until he stops making these mistakes.

    Terry and Cahill are specialists in bus parking. Not our style. Plus, they frequently benefit from refs’ lenience when the ball hits their various body parts.

    Giroud scores 1 goal from 4-5 attempts on average. Our midfield couldn’t supply him with enough balls. Not for the lack of trying, but the opponents barricaded themselves in front of their box. It’s easy to say “Ozil went missing” when in fact he just couldn’t find a way through that forest of feet.

    The left midfield is always a conundrum. We have these 3 central midfielders, Santi, Ozil and Ramsey, and something has to give. They were switching positions, particularly Santi and Ozil, especially in the second half, to give each other turns into the central midfield position. I don’t agree with us needing Schneiderlin. Ramsey took Coq’s place after he was subbed off, and we kept the balance.

    And, who needs to watch motd, when those haters demonstrate their ineptitude week in week out? It is statistically demonstrated that crosses are the most terrible way to attempt to score goals, because they are long and hence 1) imprecise and 2) allow the keeper time to react. Remember Liverpool’s grandiose plan with Andy Carroll as target? The reality is that parking the bus is a very effective way to defend, and it takes a special effort and quite a bit of luck to break it down.

  • Andre

    Thanx Walter.. first of all I think we had a slow start in de game….for 30mins I felt like we were just keepin de ball rather being offensive. … ma opinion de only 2 players who impressed were the Ox and Kos…Cech did make a blunder 4 de first goal bt The Ox gave de ball our cheaply 4 de second. …..
    Ozil needs 2 up hiz game or drop 2 de bench…..I mean 4 a player who doesn’t even shake off opponents all he needs 2 do iz provide that final ball…the rest of players looked jaded….
    Ramsey and Giroud shud kno wen to shoot and pass the ball….coz they keep misfiring. …
    Goin forward I expect either Ramsey or Ozil 2 drop to de bench upon Sanchez iz return. ….

  • Fred

    Straws and clutching spring to mind Walter. Credit to west ham, they played really well. It is ok to critique Wenger just like we critique everyone else. He was reactive yesterday instead of proactive. To shift Ramsey to left wing was poor decision. He then brings on some potential width when we concede second goal. The team were poor, I think the arrogance resurfaced, hopefully put to bed now, and our manager got it wring yesterday. It really is ok to critique. I am wenger fan in case that touchs some extremism.

  • Rosicky@Arsenal


    Nice article. Spot on and true picture why we lost.

    Florian good post as well.

  • Mike T

    Walter is correct as to his assessment regarding Chelsea
    We were far far from fitness and in truth just like WestHam yesterday Swansea were far more prepared for the start of the season. We, Chelsea over hit, misfit or failed to spot the run in truth you were much the same yesterday
    As I posted when he first signed for you I pointed out that In Cech you weren’t getting the keeper you think. He never was the key man in the organisation of the defence at Chelsea and whilst I think he has that in his locker you shouldn’t forget he is the new kid on the block
    Having said that the line you choose to defend is not something that he will be used to and clearly thought he had to come for the ball which to be fair to WHU was a great ball in
    The league isn’t won or lost on the first day of the season

  • Ancient Gooner

    Good post, Walter..

    We will get the automatisms in place soon. They all know what to do to get there. Heads down and work harder. Enjoyed Alexis’ tweet. After the match he apparently went for a hard work out!😎

  • David James

    I would never play Ozil and Carzorla in the same team. Both are are no 10s. Why cant Wenger see this. Also playing Ramsey in the wing is madness. I dont think we will ever win the league with Wenger

  • Laen

    Tactically, they were a one-trick pony. Little in the way of pace, with the exception of the Ox, too keen to keep their play down the middle rather than ask questions by taking the ball to the bi-line. Was Hector Bellerin that great a miss? West Ham were fielding a 16 year old centre back in central midfield. They should have been there for the taking.
    The title is not sacrificed in one match, but this did serve as a worrying portent that, mentally, this team is not equipped for the consistency required to win the league. Beat Chelsea one week, fail to overcome a side that should be meat and drink, and at home to boot, the following weekend. The lack of inspiration was a real concern. Those who believe Arsenal will never win the title until there is a change in the dugout will not have seen anything to make them feel different. It was a rank performance on a fine summer’s day.

  • porter

    First goal the gap between keeper and defensive line was too large. Coquelin broke the line went back and kept them onside . Cech was in no mans land . Damned if he came and damned if he stayed on his line. The second was probably a miskicked scuffed shot that went to the post which was not covered . Did he mean it to go there ? doubtful . Lucky ? but I would have taken it. However although they were the salient points of our defeat they are not the full story. I don’t completely buy the “not as ready as W.Ham “line . Sure they were quicker but in truth it was down to organisation . We were all over the place nobody seemed to know what they were meant to be doing , our passing was either slow or erratic and certainly not accurate . We looked as if we had never met. Lots to work on and Palace will be more of the same.

  • Jamie

    @Laen – Excellent summed up in a few sentences.

  • Florian

    Thanks Rosicky:) Now, my mind has a strange way of working at this late hour (it’s ~1:30AM in Seattle). There is something right in those critiques about playing a central midfielder on the left side. On the right we have Theo and Ox. In the center we have Giroud, which is unique;) But on the left side of the midfield, we only have Alexis, whose absence was btw quite visible, as our left side was relying only on Nacho and Santi/Ozil, both of them lacking penetration, contrary to our right side, which ran riot on a few occasions, even without Bellerin. We thought we found our left winger in Podolski, but alas it was not to be. I don’t see Gibbs and Monreal playing together frequently, so maybe that could be an area needing improvement, and hence a target for acquisition in the remaining transfer window. A fast skilled wing that tracks back. Montero?

  • Jamie

    “There’s a lot of competition. It’s a big club,” said Mathieu Flamini this week as he talked about losing his place to Coquelin. At Manchester United, he would be fifth or sixth choice. Van Gaal did not dismiss moves for Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger because he already had Daley Blind, Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Fellaini and high hopes for Andreas Pereira; he brought in two players he believed to be better than all those players barring an ageing Carrick.

    There is a reason why we find ourselves Googling ‘infuriating synonym’ when we write about Wenger – he is a man that infuriates, exasperates and aggravates. I sentimentally tipped Arsenal to win the title last season, but I will not be listening to my heart and repeating that mistake. Not until Wenger starts listening to his head.

  • Florian


    “worrying portent” – I’m detecting negative thinking here. One worries if he doesn’t find solutions. This team demonstrated time and time again that they know how to bounce back from a downer.

  • Florian


    Coq’s stats are better than of any of the players you mentioned. Your assertion is a hollow one.

  • Jamie

    @florian, If you remember that loss to Villa which was greeted with severe venom because of the lack of squad depth but how do you sugar coat this one? yesterday’s loss to West Ham feels worse than that to me. The Villa stuff was like surreal slapstick, a kind of footballing pantomime with the club the ‘tache-twirling villain. We weren’t ready, we paid the price, now we’ll make ourselves heard. The thing about yesterday though is we were ready … well, we should have been.

    The squad was settled, confident after a decent pre-season, not really lacking in any areas, and this time around there was expectation. Expectation of a win yesterday, expectation that it would be the first win in a season in which we challenge for the Premier League title, expectation that we were ready to build on the two FA Cup wins and kick on.

    Instead, as the manager said, ‘we killed ourselves’. Afterwards he spoke about his team being ‘nervous’. I don’t buy that at all. I don’t think there was over-confidence or arrogance as some have suggested. My theory is quite simple: we played badly, got punished for silly mistakes, and that’s the difference between pre-season and the Premier League.

  • Jamie

    I’ve seen Olivier Giroud take some stick for his performance, but the question I’d ask is why, on at least three occasions, was our centre-forward the man running down the left wing looking to get crosses in? To who, exactly? Why was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain the only player who looked genuinely up for it – bearing in mind ‘it’ and ‘up for’ are a bit abstract?

    Were we inhibited by the occasion? That would be a serious worry, but I don’t think it was down to that. It was the first home game of a new season, on a nice day, the mood and atmosphere good, belief and confidence high, and this is a team that showed at Wembley in May that it can cope with expectation and pressure.

    That said, I’m not sure the midfield balance was right, and that’s something the manager has got to figure out quickly. It seemed to work ok against Chelsea, which suggests it’s not an insurmountable problem. Yet ultimately the disappointment in the result is two-fold because we know this team can do better than that. It’s not just the dropped points, it’s the manner of them.

    Collectively, and individually, they let themselves down. Perhaps it’s worth remembering that after the Villa game in 2013 we went on to win 8 and draw 1 of our next 9 games. That is the kind of response we need to see again, because this was a meek, feeble, and disheartening way to start the new season; and whatever way you dress it up the team do not have it in them to win the league with Wenger in charge.

  • Florian


    It’s not sugarcoating. Walter’s article dissects the reasons enough for me not to repeat them. Did you actually read it?

    Also, re being “nervous”: I wonder how many times did you have to play a competitive match from the rather unusual posture of title favorite (because we are). I can quote from my personal experience that a competitive match has enough pressure on it already. Yes, I played competitive football when in secondary school – and I was a goalie btw, and I made errors too.

    And finally yes, we weren’t at our best, but don’t tell me Chelsea didn’t play like they wanted to win the Shield.

  • Laen

    Florian…. It was a weekend where we expected Arsenal to take three points, it ended with none. It’s a setback not a calamity with thirty-seven games to go. Coming at a point when optimism is at its peak, opening day defeats always feel worse than they are. Wenger and the players know they have work to do ahead of this weekend’s trip to Newcastle. That will no doubt be billed as a ‘must-win’ game; it isn’t.

    Arsène noted that the missing piece was mentally. The players had not learned that if they can’t win a game, he said, that they should be able to not lose. That was the best yesterday’s performance deserved; a point but faced with a resolute defence, they couldn’t find the answer. Individual mistakes were costly and not down to one player but several making errors at key moments

  • Florian

    Giroud was out of position on the left wing because there was no space for him in the box, plus there were others doing runs in. I can only guess he was also looking to exploit his physical advantage against their relatively weaker right back. That mostly happened after Theo came in, so again your argument with Ox is inaccurate. Theo and Ramsey were making attempts to connect with the crosses, but of course they didn’t stand a chance against Tomkins and Adrian. Nor did Giroud when he was the target, because of so many bodies around him.

    We weren’t inhibited, we just didn’t connect like we usually do. That’s fixable, and in the post-match interviews the players acknowledged it.

  • Florian


    Right, it’s not a calamity. Now, can we all swallow the defeat and move on? I’m astonished by the amount of garbage you and a few others are able to generate.

  • Jamie

    @Florian; Yes I did read it. And yes I analysed the fact that he mentions the goals came at the cost of two mistakes. When we went a goal down we still had over 45 mins to get one goal or even go on and win the game. The fact of the matter is we were toothless and rubbish like that needs to be addressed. watching the same errors is very annoying”. That’s it in a nutshell for me. The really saddening thing for me today was that I was neither shocked nor upset. It was almost expected. The game had that same feel as it did back in 2006 when we lost to them in similar fashion. Different players, same manager! We can’t fail to address problem areas, fail to address shortcomings AND fail to learn from past mistakes and think we’re going to win the league. Honestly – I’m seriously bemused as to where the wave of optimism among the fans came from just with the acquisition of Cech! I had us finishing 3rd this season – even that looks tall right about now! This team is up there with the best in the world – when we’re playing well! Souness has often said in the past that we choose to play football the difficult way. Our brand of football is technical and actually quite difficult to execute. When we play well, we can steamroll nigh everyone. When we’re NOT playing well, though, it all just seems to fall apart and we become so blunt! But we don’t seem to have an easily accessible plan B OR we don’t seem willing to switch over quickly enough when things are not working. As a team, we’re only as good as what we are on a bad day, and until we find a way to eke out results playing poorly, we can forget about the PL or CL. This is why I also believe that we will not win either while Wenger’s in charge.

  • Mandy Dodd

    That was poor, but unrecognisable from the team of last spring. There is no reason to believe the team have regressed since then, so one could only reasonably conclude things will get a lot better, and I am sure, despite the fly on the wall tactical experts of the WOB who know all that goes on behind closed doors, Wenger will be putting a lot of urgency into this.
    As for the WOB, you have to laugh, the self flagellation cry babies in their ranks are now in awe of all things West Ham, in the way they can sometimes be with Chelsea, Utd, even Spurs. Reading their accounts, you could be forgiven thinking it was Brazil 1970 or the Invincibles we were facing yesterday, not a team, essentially set up to contain and hope we would get frustrated and shoot ourselves in the foot, which of course we duly obliged.
    So we have a new team to aspire to. West Ham. And according to these people, it is Wenger and the club who lack ambition.

  • Jamie

    @Florian; I listened to Shearer, for his many many faults, said on Match of the Day that whichever of the top four teams Mourinho managed would win the league. I hate to say it but he’s right. He instils the right kind of confidence in his teams; not so much ‘we deserve to win’, more of the ‘we cannot lose’.

    Now I’m not for one second saying I want Mourinho anywhere near this club. However losing the complacent streak appears to be one more signpost on the manager’s road to recovery.

    Also it’s games like this that make the difference between first and third. Have you ever looked back through all the fixtures at the end of the season and said to yourself, ‘if only we’d one that game, and that game we would have been champions’? Yes it’s a bit of childish wish thinking but, in order to be champions, Arsenal can only lose one, possibly two games against teams outside the top four at home. That’s how small the margins are.

  • Florian


    Another post that defies logic. Had it been another manager, you would have surely found the scapegoat to be Ivan Gazidis or Stan Kroenke. Oversimplification at its best. Plus, stating what other 10+ comments pointed out already – aren’t you tired?

    Contrary to Graeme Souness’ belief, the technical football IS difficult to execute. I don’t remember him being a particularly technical player, so not sure where did he get that idea from. If technical football were easy, we would have surely seen more technical players, but alas, quality is expensive these days, unless the club builds it itself by investing in youngsters.

  • Florian

    Oh, you listen to Shearer. He must know what he’s talking about, is he?

  • TailGunner

    More importantly, did anyone spot the banner?

  • Mandy Dodd

    Florian, wouldn’t bother engaging with Jamie, his 10.29 post copied and pasted directly from today’s lead article on Le Grove….without of course showing to decency to acknowledge his source.

  • Florian

    Thank you Mandy, now I can go to sleep:)

  • blacksheep63

    Jamie (10.09 am) – you have copied and pasted your ‘thoughts’ from Arseblog – if you continue to plagiarize others’ view Tony, Walter or myself with block you

  • Rosicky@Arsenal


    welcome mate at UA. I never knew you also post here.

    good to see you here.

    infact this is the right place to know about Arsenal than LG.

  • Rich


    You’ve an unmistakeable air of certainty – you know what’s right, Arsene doesn’t- in all your posts, but it appears to have escaped your attention that Utd have considerably more wealth than us (same tv money, similar gate receipts perhaps, much, much more in commercial deals- prob about 70 mill more per year); also the transfer policy you admire has worked poorly- worse than us- for the last two seasons and may well do so again this year.

    Our midfield was functioning very well in the second half of last year, and it will already be difficult to accommodate the players we have there, so bringing another player in is a tough call and one that involves accepting either that a specific player- one of Coq, Ramsay, Cazorla, Wilshere- faces reduced opportunities and subsequent unhappiness, or generally accepting that problems lie ahead (real soon) with at least one of those players.

    I’d guess you favour the Cazorla, Coquelin combination, with Ox on the right and that you wanted Schneiderlin, to supplant Coq who would become his backup. Now, with Schneiderlin gone, you’d like someone similar- ?- with the same idea in mind. Well, that leaves Ramsey and Wilshere out of the picture. Two brilliant players who simply will not accept being out of the team for long at this stage.

    The attitude of ‘I don’t care about consequences like that; sign what (I think) we need, see how the cards fall’ is perfectly ok for a fan, and quite clearly not the way a manager manages. The issue literally is an instant one for him. Sign a new player in midfield, turn up for training the next day and see the faces of players who want to know what happens to them now, and how soon their agent needs to talk to the club.

    Utd are different- much less settled than us, richer, throwing everything at it to see what will stick. They can’t possibly keep all those players happy, but it doesn’t matter a bit to them. Their aim is simply to guarantee champ league qualification and then hope they can do better than that and take steps to getting back where they were. Chances are they’ll sell a few of those options this summer, perhaps for a five million loss, maybe ten. Sell a few, buy a few more. Doesn’t really matter too much to them given the desperation to maintain their status and get back to a place that’ll keep their gargantuan commercial income at the level its at.

    So, for all sorts of reasons, a direct comparison between us and Utd makes little sense.

    I’m ready to listen to any criticism of the club and manager, and any suggestions about what we should do. It interests me and I’m open to the possibility someone will say something brilliant and true. But my requirement- motivated perhaps by the fact I remain a big supporter of the manager, but which would hopefully be the same whoever the manager was- is that they show sufficient effort has gone into thinking the whole situation through, as it really is.

    So tell me you get the difference between our finances and Utd’s; tell me you see they’re not doing brilliantly, but you still have your reason for holding them up as a model of what we should do. Tell me who it is among our midfielders you are more than prepared to see become marginalised now and, very likely, leave within a year or so.

    The problem is, do that correctly and, as i see it, the righteous anger will dilute and dilute. And that’s not very rewarding. Anger is in many ways a better feeling than mere hurt, and is certainly better than the worst feeling football can generate in a fan- powerlessness.’ Eurgh! Some bastards gotta be to blame for that! I haven’t spent a week, or three months, or 12 years, looking forward to this only to be made to feel like that! Yeah, there must have been some gigantic mistakes made for it to go this wrong…’

  • Support your club through thick and thin and bottle these cyclical whinings.

    Believing Arsenal will not win anything with Wenger in charge is prudish and jejunically fallacious.

    2 FA CUP, 2 CS…

    EPL & UCL to go…


  • Va Cong

    End of the day it was lack of respect for the opponent knowing that we could usually come back the players were a bit lax and then pressure hit in after the goal conceded everyone turned into headless chickens! Or they could have been drugged!

  • ob1977

    @Jamie (and Alan Shearer for that matter) 2013/2014 Man City win the premier league, not managed by Mourinho, it was ridiculous for Shearer to state something so ludicrously simplistic about winning the league, it is even more ridiculous for people to regurgitate it as fact…

  • Mandy Dodd

    Agreed apologist. As for the cynical whiners , you have to cut them some slack, they have been waiting since the Monaco game for their moment in the sun, that’s several miserable months for these poor creatures.
    For some of them, their beloved clubs have fared little better than us over the weekend either!

  • Mandy Dodd

    I would ignore anything Shearer says, he clearly has some issue with Arsenal or Wenger, and even if he hasn’t, he is too far up Jose and Chelsea to be in anyway objective about anyone else.

  • ob1977

    @Jamie, and the talk of all of Utd’s midfielders, none of which would get in the Arsenal team by the way, Carrick = Arteta, Schneiderlain = Le Coq (years ahead of him), Blind is a defender, Herrera = Wilshere or Ozil, Schweinsteiger (when fit) = Ramsey (years ahead of him), Feilani = crap

  • soglorious

    I marvel at the stupidity of some who cry Apocalypse due to a lost match out of 38. I am only angry that our unbeaten run ended at our first game. That we will bounce back is one thing I am double sure of. COYG.

  • ob1977

    @Mandy, I never listen to any pundit as this ridiculous notion that because they played the game we should listen to what they say about all things football about all clubs, I prefer to 1) listen to myself and my instincts as I have spent 30 years watching football and supporting Arsenal so have a rounded view of where we are and what we are doing, and what is wrong within the game, and 2) coming on here and reading similar rounded views from fans who love and support the club through thick and thin.

  • Rosicky@Arsenal


    well said.
    These cynical whiners ala chelski Untd got to laugh on us after Monaco game after sooo long. I hope they will hide in there bins come sunday.

  • Kenneth Widmerpool

    Calling my old friend Dr.Brickfields— got any jokes?

  • Samrat Jha

    the left midfield is really a thorn in the flesh. previously Arshavin was played there which is not his natural position. Podolsky is not imho a left winger but a second forward in a 442. Playing Ramsey or a midfielder there seems to do wonders for the later-to-be-modified-into-central-midfielders but the team play sufgerd as a whole.When Alexis doesn’t play we seem to miss a fast pacy guy who can take the opposition on and beat him.But fot the AAA Gervinho could have been the man.

  • Samrat Jha

    suffers and nor sufgerd

  • Alex

    It’s so funny to read some fans about Mesut (oh, Ozil, sorry…). It is always mentioning his fee and blablabla. The day some fans will stop thinking of this each time Ozil touches the ball, they’ll start seeing all he has brought to the team. And like it or not, being nostalgic of a past era or not, since his arrival, Arsenal = 2 FA Cups and 2 Community shield. So if you wish to discuss Ozil, start looking at him. But well, the story won’t change: when Arsenal loses, it’s Ozil’s fault, when they are successful, it’s anybody’s glory except him.

  • porter

    Samrat Jha :- I doubt very much that it was the fault of match going supporters that caused Gervinho to leave the club. He was not efficient enough for us in front of goal 9 goals in 46 matches and has not improved any during his time at Roma 11 goals in 57..

  • Ray from Norfolk, Virginia

    Nicely spotted about plagiarism!
    In addition, he took the quotes from Arseblog out of context.

  • Jamie

    @Rich: It is my utmost belief that your attack win you games while your defence wins you titles. On the one hand, you’re only as good as you are on a bad day, which is where the defence comes in to help you take points even at your worst. BUT you can’t win the league without winning matches. And let’s not forget that the objective of this simple game is to outscore the opposition to win matches. How can you do that if we have a butter knife attack? Sometimes, I think that guy’s won the lottery, seriously. How does this club go from the likes of Wright, Bergkamp, Anelka, Henry and RvP to Giroud? Even the back-up strikers like Suker, Kanu, Wiltord and Adebayor were all of better quality and talent than Giroud who is now leading the line for us. How the hell do we expect to win big with him up top? The moment of the game that encapsulated Giroud for me was when Ox dribbles past men and pulls it back for him with enough time to take a touch, set himself… and then shoot it well wide! It’s only a deflection off the defender that sets it on target to trickle into Adrian’s hands. What happens moments after that chance to equalise? We’re 2-0 down. Just like Stoke (A) last season, City (A) the season before and numerous other occasions, he lets us down when we really need him! He is unbelievably unreliable in front of goal and I’ve had it with him, I really have. We’re all upset after yesterday, but it’s errors that cost us. We still created chances that, had they even BEEN ON TARGET!!!, would’ve salvaged something for us. If Giroud is the answer for us, then it’s a hell of a question! Is Welbeck that much worse? He’s also profligate in front of goal, but at least his pace and mobility gives us another dimension that physicality cannot. I just wish Wenger would grow a proactive, ruthless spine for once and solve our clear issues – enough with all this blind optimism!

  • Gord

    WHam’s first competitive game this season: West Ham 3-0 Lusitanos Thu 2 Jul.

  • Pete

    It is amazing that a very high proportion of posters after a bad defeat are rarely if ever seen when results are more satisfactory. I mean you Slugboy, Tunnigriff, Fred, David James, Laen (first post anyway), Jamie and Samrat. Come on hear and make constructive comments, even if critical, when we win and I may take you seriously.

    I went to the game and the first thing I would note is that we were a little unfortunate (22 chances, 6 on target against 8 and 4 respectively for West Ham). I am pretty sure that their goals were their first two attempts on target. They had hardly threatened in the first half before the goal whereas we had been close several times. As ever, people are falling into the trap of confusing the performance (mediocre but not terrible) with the result (terrible).

    The second thing I would note is that West Ham played well – were fitter and sharper than we were which is not surprising given they have already played 6 competitive fixtures. They will pay for it in the new year with injuries and fatigue but that is little consolation to us now.

    The third thing I would note is that, even accepting lack of fitness/sharpness (which would not have been as apparent against another team at a similar stage), is that we didn’t play our best.

    But that is football. We are not going to win every game. No team is going to win every game.

    But it is a setback – but the true test of a sports person/team is their/its ability to deal with adversity.

  • porter

    I am informed that Arsenal hold the record for losing at home on the first day of the season. Seven times in the Premiership era.Haven’t checked but the source is reliable a septuagenarian Arsenal supporter of over 50 years.

  • Gord

    Have a good week people, I am gone to the farm. Hopefully the destroyers will be gone when I am back.

    Twelve (of 20) teams processed for last season, which is now up to 444 games (EPL, CL, LC, EL and FA Cup).

    Most events in the commentary are a single sentence. Some events have other information. If the event is a shot towards the goal, we might see that it is from a free kick, a direct free kick, a corner, a set piece situation or a fast break. A shot on goal often has some person providing an assist, which again can have a modification of from a corner, fast break and so on.

    Are there situations where it is important to assign the modification to the assist, and not to the actual shot?

    Oh, after 444 games, Ben Foster is still the only back pass. 🙂

    Processing the 12th team added just under 20 games, so I am guessing all 20 teams is going to be somewhere around 540 games.

  • Tom

    Sensible post Pete. Here’s a thing though, what would be the one thing you might want to do as a home team of Arsenal stature when playing against a mid table team you usually dominate home and away. A team under new management with a handful of new players not used to the PL?

    You would want to put them under pressure from the off , right?
    In the first 20 minutes the position was roughly 50/50. What a way to make them feel comfortable.
    Some talk about our CL prospect being great this season. Can you imagine Barca or Bayern stroking the ball around for twenty minutes before taking the game to a mid table opposition at home, I can’t.

    So Giroud went out wide to turn provider with his crosses because he thought Ramsey and Walcott had a better chance of aerial success against
    tall WHam defenders?
    That’s a brilliant analysis:)
    Also one of his crosses was aimed(presumably) at Ozil , who was the only Arsenal player in the area, up against four defenders.

    Now I know It was ArsenE who said this and you just agreed (apparently) that we were nervous, and you gave example of your own high school team experience, but if World Cup winners, FA cup winners and other seasoned internationals for top footballing countries in Europe were nervous before facing a mid table team they normally dominate, then we are in big trouble.

    My own take is we were overconfident rather than nervous.
    We were tactically ill prepared, mentally ill prepared and physically as well.
    After beating Chelsea the spirits were high and the players thought they were going to dispatch the Hammers with ease like they usually do.
    Let’s not make excuses for them .

    Still, it’s only one game we move on.

  • Samrat Jha

    I am not being ctitical of the team just because we lost. In the previous article I said that this performance is basically down to the fact that this is our first real competitive game. But what I felt after watching the game is that the left wing play was not as good as one would expect. I have no complaints over Giroud as centre forward. A fast direct player may have been useful.Whereas in the absence of Alexis WHU knew that they could just overcrowd their right side and hack the the ball clear. Maybe Adelaide could have been useful

  • Samrat Jha

    A fast direct
    player may have been
    useful on the left

  • Rich


    Your post interest me a hell of a lot. It contains for me so many things which are true or near true but which don’t take into account facts and factors which change the debate entirely.

    The first big thing is that not being as good as the best players in the world doesn’t make you a bad player. You can still be a very good player and be way off the best players in the world. That,for me, is what Giroud is: a very good player, with some really big strengths and some very obvious weaknesses, especially in the pace department. If forced to rate his qualities, as a rough guide to his ability, it’d be : physical strength : 9 ; heading : 8 ; pace: 5; finishing : 7 ; link play : 8.

    From there, a good first question is, can you win a big trophy,ever, with someone in a key position who is merely good (he’s better than that, for me, but I’ll go with ‘good’) but isn’t great? I’d say of course and for a few examples from his position : Mandzukic, Dzeko, Klose, Chris Sutton, Mario Gomez, Alan Smith (the original). Not great players by the very strictest standards- i.e if the best 5-10 in the world are where great starts and stops- but good ones, and capable of playing their part in major-trophy-winning teams.

    Klose is the one that should have you spluttering, given his international record, but for me he’s a player who, in his prime, in an Arsenal shirt would’ve had plenty of our fans groaning and comparing him unfavourably to Bergkamp, Henry, Anelka and Van Persie.

    The next big question is, if Bergkamp, Henry, Anelka and Van Persie are that final level up from Giroud, why on earth, after such a long run of never being without that standard of striker, did we accept anything less? The answer is punishingly obvious and clear : economics (supply and demand in particular).

    There are very few of those greats about, quite possibly less than in previous times in the striker position…and in the summer of 2012 we did not have the money to buy one of those players. What does the targeting of Suarez in 2013 suggest? Wenger knows- how could he possibly not know?- that there is a level above Giroud, and when he saw a rare opportunity come along to get a player from that class, he went for it.

    Meanwhile, if you concede that, ok, we can’t (unless certain circumstances crop up) get players out of Barca, Real or Bayern, and we cannot win any head-to-head with them and Chelsea, City, Utd or PSG if cash is the determining factor (we’re rich, they’re richer), but there is surely a little group of players just below that, and they have to be better than ole lumbering Giroud… say, a guy who has been scoring very well in La Liga for years, a very adept finisher…let’s get him. Price? Oh about 20-25 million. We can afford that. Name? Mr Roberto Soldado. Let’s do it!

    I hate to even break it down as much as that, but it seemed necessary to respond to your points. A clear improvement on Giroud is not easy to find; the market is tougher than at any point in history; we are in a much better position than we were until two years ago to compete in that market. Wenger is almost certainly telling the truth that he will get that special player if there’s any way he can. We have to wait, and in the meantime try not to hold it against good players for not being the best players. We were spoiled.

    A club who probably fell outside the top ten or even lower in terms of finances had no real right to have one of the best strikers /players in the world (Henry) and not long after have another who was a contender for the top 5 (Rvp). Our manager at the time upset the cold logic of the market to provide those players.

  • Samrat Jha

    good point. Giroud can’t be replaced. At least not by Benzema type of players.If Benzema were any better he would have scored 35+ goals given the number of chances Real Mad creates

  • para

    Samrat Jha 🙂

    Tom 🙂

    Has anyone noticed that the anti-Arsenal agenda sees to be back in full swing? I mean it had not completely stopped, but now the intensity is higher again. I listened to sky sports and NBC and both were so scathing when talking about Arsenal.

    You know when people have an agenda and say one person don’t know, the others who know have this way about them that gives it all away? That is how they were both talking before the match, and when WH scored, you could hear the glee in their voices.

    Anyway, we’re on the way, a little mishap, but there is only one place to go now and only one thing to do now.

  • Pete

    Hi Samrat – my point was that I have not seen you comment previously. If you only comment after a bad result then I have a problem with that. My apologies if I have missed comments you have made after positive results.

    Regarding our weakness on the left side, Sanchez was not match fit… he generally plays nearly all the time so I do not think it would be a good move to sign someone just for an occasional opportunity. It may have been an idea to play Walcott or Chamberlain on the left but Santi isn’t too shabby! It would be asking a lot to throw a 17 year old into the fray and as a result drop Ramsey or Cazorla or Chamberlain. I didn’t see you propose that prior to the game – it is very easy to be wise after the event.

    Given who we had available I would have selected the exact same team and formation as Wenger did.

    In hindsight, Giroud didn’t look match fit and several others weren’t as sharp as usual either. I don’t think playing a different team would have really altered the result – Walcott didn’t deliver when he came on either.

  • Rich

    Samrat Jha

    Gotta be honest, I do think Benzema is a step up. The mortal goal-scoring stats, in comparison to Ronaldo and Messi, are the result of those two being utter phenomenons and, even more importantly, of Benzema having tailored his game more and more to looking for Ronaldo. That wouldn’t be the case here. But the raising of his assist-making to a very high level has surely made him a more attractive fit to Arsenal.

    Either way, it seems to prove the point I was trying to make : A player who not all of us are sure represents the top level will set you back 40-50 mill, rarely be available, and will be near impossible for us to beat any cash giants to if money is the deciding factor.

    If Madrid will sell, and us and City are in, he only joins us if he really wants to be here and is willing to turn down an extra few million a year to make it happen. That’s how difficult the market is AFTER our financial situation has improved considerably

  • Samrat Jha

    me too. I would have selected the same team too. I was just hoping against hope that the 17 year old Adelaide might be given a chance.I fully understand that in reality that’s impossible given the strength of our bench. I just singled him out because I like his direct pacy approach. And as for negativity I sincerely apologise if some of my comments have appeared such. English is not my first language.

  • Laen

    The result yesterday will worry Stan because if Liverpool improve a little on last season and that is not impossible then they will join the party for what could be just three European Champs league places. Making it 5 sides competing for those 3 money-spinner spots. Even if it is still 4th place is a trophy time there will still be 5 teams involved. Basically the result yesterday against the mighty ‘Ammers was more about the damage done to Wenger’s illusions of him being a title challenger having sorted out all the old problems . Some believed him but it did not take long for the usual reality check to kick-in. So much for the theory that we can afford to drop points against the top dogs because we can beat all the lesser ones,woof! woof! So then when will Wenger chuck in the towel and admit that he can’t win the title this season,last term it was after the away defeat at Chelsea in November .It could be a little sooner this season. We play Mourinho’s crew away next month and will our fancy Dans be able to cut it at the Bridge in a proper game under pressure >? I won’t be putting any money on them doing so. Wenger however, although looking glummer than a Toad with a Bluebottle stuck in its throat, says that he will not rush out and buy anyone based on one result .Really>? Well it’s not one result you clot ,we have only managed to win one game out of the last 5 at home in the league ( this includes the end of last season Tony ) we have failed to score a single goal in 4 of those games, with big Olly being the main culprit for missing chances . He also missed them against Monaco at home this resulted in us losing 3-1 due to having to chase the game. Henry is right,Giroud is not good enough ,a bottler who goes down for a big guy far too easily and all that moaning at the ref faking injuries and pained expressions is just sooo.. embarrassing…. Then we have Wally newly promoted to ,well actually still just a sub starting on the bench, but getting paid 140k a week to do that. A proper striker is obviously required but this is Arsene Wenger we are taking here running Stan’s business plan – a move for Benzema would cost in total- with his wages – £60m . Things will have to get desperate before Stan sanctions that and time is running out. Benzema is out injured after a car crash anyway and will not be fit for a few weeks. Wenger says that he can make up the shortfall of goals from Giroud and Danny Boy by others such as Wally and Ozil chipping in. Another delusion this because the last 5 games at home saw these players score only in the massacre of West Brom – with the Brummies having nothing to play for and with their sun tan cream and suitcases packed for the beach on the last day of the season . That was another typical Wenger illusion – along with the ‘complete performance ‘ against woeful Villa at Wembley in the Cup Final – the Asia Cup ,Emirates Cup and Charity Shield ,ho hum

  • Vintage Gooner

    Just a word on our match fitness and pre-season. Our pre-season results were undoubtedly excellent but I would want to remind you all that because of the early start to the season many of our first team squad had very little time at London Colney before the Asia Cup.

    Now Singapore is both a huge journey each way from London and also the weather was extraordinarily hot and humid. This must have made both the training and the tournament for the week the team were away very difficult for fitting into any normal pre-season preparation.

    This means in real terms there has only been a little over a fortnight to bring the team to peak performance and so it is not really surprising that we are not yet where we should and would wish to be.

  • Pete

    Laen – I could call you out on many things but an opinion is an opinion.

    However you are factually wrong about the CL places – I know because I checked when I saw the same thing mentioned elsewhere.

    England are currently 3rd in country coefficient, narrowly ahead of Italy (and not ahead at all once 5 year old results are discarded). So would be overtaken if Italian (and German) clubs do better this season.

    However, this change would only take effect the season after next. I.e. it would be top 3 only for CL qualifying in 2016/17 season (and participating in 2017/18).

  • Rich


    How many times have you been smashed on the pitch like the early Tomkins challenge on Giroud and how brave were you feeling right afterwards?

    As for the clash of heads…I once saw a guy resume playing a few seconds after being knocked out cold, but it wasn’t nearly as heavy a knock as the one Giroud took, and he didn’t have to fight afterwards against people anything like as physically strong, and as dirty, as the players Giroud kept battling against yesterday.

    I could do without a few of the grimaces and whatnot, but the man’s French for goodness sake!

    He generally fights well for the team and he certainly no more makes a meal of things than someone like Ivanovic- one of the most fearsome competitors in the league- let alone all the yelpers and squealers who make up the attacking parts of Chelsea’s team. I get a feeling you’re more willing to ignore it with them than with one of our own players.

  • Vintage Gooner

    @ blacksheep 63

    I am not sure of my blog etiquette and would be grateful for your help. I penned a considered view on the two goals we conceded on the ArsenalArsenal blog and I thought it would be a better comment from Walters considered article than many of the quibbling contributions above. However now I am unsure if this would be deleted from this site.

    By the way it may be repetition or copyright issues but I cannot plagiarize myself

  • Dex

    That was such a piss poor abject display, there are no excuses for it.

    Saying all that I would just like to mentions hat I thinkJamie is an embarrassing spoilt baby with his knee jerk whining.

  • Vintage Gooner

    I feel the goals conceded yesterday could do with some analysis to make sure blame doesn’t simply fall on Petr Cech.
    For the first goal;-

    1 The Arsenal line up was at least five yards in front of the penalty box and this is a serious error because it leaves a large area in the penalty box for attackers to dominate.

    2 Four attackers were goal side of our defenders.This is fashionable because it is held that if they are offside then they have to get back onside as the kick is taken or take themselves out of play entirely. The late movement does however give opportunity for runners coming through. BUT in this instance serious carelessness by Coq was playing everyone of the four onside.

    3. Although Monreal was the closest player to the goalscorer he was wrong sided and so could only prevent the ball reaching him if it was low enough. Attacking a higher ball must come from a player moving forward and this could only been Kos in this instance but he was totally flat footed.

    4 Neither Terry nor Cahill would have failed to get a strong challenge in given the same circumstances and this is what Cech is used to.

    5 Cech charge was too late and thus ineffective but the first four points are all some mitigation for this.

    For the second goal;-

    1 Ox’s touch to bring the ball out was disgracefully heavy and when the attacker turned away from him he just jogged on
    without making any attempt to keep with the attacker in any way. This is a serious blemish on the Ox performance which was generally good but is not untypical of a cavalier attitude in important defensive areas which he must correct urgently.

    2 Santi who was level with the ball at this point did not take even a single step towards the attacker thus giving him all the time in the world to control and shoot.

    3 Cech still should have made sure he was evenly balanced because both sides of the goal were open to the eventual shot and his leaning left was for a goalkeeper of his standing a serious error. Shows we bought an outstanding goalkeeper not a God.

    Perhaps from the overall game the only comfort I can take is that it will stand as a stark warning against hubris and our reading and believing the press we are getting. Yes we have an excellent well balanced squad with depth in nearly all positions but winning is about every game being fought and won on its own merit and making sure we don’t gift silly points to others like we did yesterday.

  • Pat

    Good analysis, Walter.

    Sorry, but I haven’t had time to read all the comments and probably there are quite a few not worth reading, but just in case nobody mentioned it, I read someone make a good point somewhere – Cech is out of practice because of not having played regularly at Chelsea last season. So that may take a little time. Also, he is joining a new team playing in different style from his last one.

    It will all come right soon, I have no doubt at all.

  • SheWoreAYellowRibbon

    Things are looking up already. We are no longer bottom after tonight.

  • JK

    We were overconfident that Cech can clear everything the defenders miss, that’s why we didn’t do enough to make sure that the defense is as solid as it was last week.

    Should we start Theo upfront like he did against the Chavs and yes I agree with Santi alongside Le Coq is his best position.


  • Pete

    Vintage Gooner – good points.

    Re the 1st goal. For at least a season we have defended free kicks with a very high line. I have always wondered at its effectiveness but it hasn’t worked too badly in practice. From my position Coq playing them onside wasn’t obvious but this would be the key problem. I also said (before the kick was taken – to my friend in the stadium) that I was concerned that Cech, who is quite a linebound keeper, may not be used to this way of defending free kicks.

    I can see the purpose of this tactic is to keep the attacking team as far from the goal as possible but if it goes wrong at all there is a big area between the keeper and the defence which gives the attacking team a lot of scope. Other teams are more conservative and defend more deeply. The problem then is that if they do win the header they are much closer to goal.

    Not sure what the best way forward is here. Again, some statistical research is probably necessary… which I suspect the club have done. Our approach IS innovative…

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Kenneth Widmerpool -August 10, 2015 at 11:59 am – Just saw your post , and after having read all the comments , I think just like me , you too must have had a good laugh at ‘them’.
    I had one eye closed because of my eye being congested , but they seem to have both eyes closed and their brains congested and full of it and unable function. Breathe….repeat …again ….
    Here’s a great quote – ” Discussions are always better than arguments , because an argument is to find out who is right , while a discussion is to find out what is right.”
    Its like the glass being half full/ half empty arguments – be thankful that you have a glass that can be refilled at whim .And then again , sometimes it hits them……