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October 2016
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Topsy Turvy Christmases, but really Arsenal don’t have too much to worry about

By Tony Attwood

If you are going to have a rough ride in football it can often be better to get it over with in one game.   That was the lesson learned in the first double season of 1970/1 in which Arsenal, complete from Wilson in goal and a team of stars up to Radford and Kennedy up front, lost 5-0 to Stoke.   Arsenal had flattered to deceive said the press after that game.  (Apart from the Express with an overwhelming burst of originality which said, “Gunned Down”).

The alternative way to have a cock up is to screw up in a whole series of games as happened in the second double season.  Undefeated til the 12th game, we then not only managed to win just one in the next six, in five of those six we didn’t score a goal.  And that was the team of Wright, Overmars and Bergkamp with a young Anelka popping up from time to time.

In the third double season we managed to combine both.  A 2-4 home defeat to Charlton in a run of winning just four in 12.

So it happens, and normally the reaction is to take the last result, claim it is a crisis and call for a new manager.  Trouble is, for those who have done this so often before, that they have done it so often before no one listens any more.

The reality is that it is the consistency across time that wins things, not the individual blips – be they one of disasters or a string of bad results.

Certainly seeing the opening games of the season, if I’d been offered second at this moment, just two points off the leaders I’d have taken it.  Mind you if I’d been told who the leaders were I would have had a laugh, realised it was a dream, and then experimented with what else I could create in my night time world.

So considering to now, if I’d been offered second at this moment, having been 5th after six games and 4th after 14 I’d have gone with that.  The gentle meandering of our league position since we managed to score nil in our first two home games has been in the right direction, and that’s good, because it is rare for a team to go to the top at the start and stay there.

I suppose I am also cheered by the fact that even at my advanced age I can remember all this stuff – or at least remember it better than Paul Wilson in the Guardian today who writes…

Not much of this was being said when Arsenal began the season with a home draw against Liverpool …

I mean, I make cock-ups like that regularly, but I’m not paid a decent salary for doing it.  Still he does redeem himself a little by adding later, “Arsène Wenger’s side look as though they might be up for it. Their squad is stronger than that of the current leaders and while Manchester City can match it, Manuel Pellegrini’s side have proved less resilient to absences and still capable of ordinary displays. Arsenal are rarely ordinary.”

And really that is my point.  We are not grinding out results in dull games.  We are playing without Santi Caz, without Coquelin and without Alexis.  As I have said many times, I think we have decent backups, but there is also no doubt that one of those three could have changed the course of the game last night.

But that’s how it goes, and the players who have stood in for Santi, Frankie and Alexis are the players who have taken us to two points from the top.  They don’t deserve criticism for one game.

I think I would be far more concerned if we had spent £153m like Man C last summer, or £108m like Man U or even £66m like Chelsea.  We know that if the right player comes along to make the squad even stronger Mr Wenger will buy him – as he bought Alexis and Ozil.  If all the money had been spent before that would have put us in the same position as those clubs of having spent, spent, spent, and now wondering how on earth to keep the dressing room happy and positive.

So the Mail can run the headline “Arsenal blew the chance to go top of the Premier League on Boxing Day” but it lacks a broader perspective and at this time of year that is exactly what you need.

My old chum Sir Hardly Anyone tells me that Arsenal are going to sign just one player this January.  Trouble is all the bloggettas and newspapers he follows tell him that we have already signed him, and its a different player in each case.

But at least we have the option of doing so, without facing a managerial crisis (Man U), a constant morality crisis vis a vis the owner’s home state (Man C), a league position crisis (Chelsea), a “how-the-fuck-are-we-going-to-pay-for-the-stadium” crisis (Tottenham), a vertigo crisis (Leicester and Crystal Palace), a pumped up inflated self-opinion crisis (Liverpool!), a “please-buy-us” crisis (Everton), a “please-dont-spill-the secrets-of-the-stadium-deal” crisis (West Ham), or a crisis resulting from history (Stoke).

But I am sure the aaa can make them up for us.

Topsy turvy Christmases from the olden times

27 December 1902: Arsenal started their record breaking 10 match unbeaten run with a 5-1 home defeat of Burnley.  Coleman (3), Briercliffe and Anderson scored in a match which ended a run of three consecutive defeats in which the club scored 2 and conceded 8.

27 December 1904, Nottingham Forest 0 Woolwich Arsenal 3.  This was one of five games played in eight days, of which the club won two.  In the next three games Arsenal scored nil but conceded nine.

47 comments to Topsy Turvy Christmases, but really Arsenal don’t have too much to worry about

  • James

    Shit happens. Get ready for the next match and keep believing. We are going to win the league.

  • colario

    The defeat, hurts and will do so for s long time.

  • nicky

    What a wonderful Boxing Day it’s been for the aaa, the anti Wenger clique and the doom and gloom merchants.
    Up until then, Arsenal, racked by the injury list, had lost only 3 games, had sorted both Manchester clubs, beaten the Leicester whizz kids on their patch and had climbed to second in the EPL table.
    But at long last Southampton had come up trumps, humbled Arsenal so badly that Wenger cannot remain as manager any longer. Yippeee.
    The only fly in their proverbial ointment is the nightmare that should Leicester lose their final game of the year and Arsenal win theirs, the Wenger boys will lead the EPL into the New Year. Ooops.

  • Frankantz

    This is not a one off. We get tanked far too often for a supposed top 4 club. Even with the absences we should not be subjecting fans to abject performances like that, and the players should have more pride in the shirt they are wearing. Yesterday was just simply appalling, and anyone who tries to justify it is, like Wenger, simply burying their heads in the sand rather than addressing fundamental structural flaws in the team.

  • dan

    aaa out in force.

  • Al

    Well said. They seem to thrive when we lose…, and yet they refuse to be called aaa.

  • Pete

    Sh*t sometimes happens. Can’t be brilliant all the time – and credit to Southampton. Although their first 3 shots on target went in… but then Man City could say something similar about their game with us.

    As I’ve always said, the mark of a top sports team is how they deal with adversity. Bring it on.

  • Frankantz

    Apologists circling the wagons.a

  • JohnW

    And so, when we win tomorrow and say go top, what will all those whiners say? Who said we have to win every football game any way? I say, we are still on course, we can still win it. Its a marathon remember. So Frankantz, if you are a Gooner, take heart, it was never meant to be last night. All our players wanted to win, but such matches can take place. A reaction is what we need. aLSO REMEMBER, EVEN IF WE GO TO THE TOP TOMORROW, IT DOES NOT GUARANTEE US THE PL.Where we end up in May is what matters.

  • Pat

    Among other things Arsene Wenger said we have to look at what we can master i.e. sharpness in the challenges. We can’t do anything about the things we can’t master i.e. the decisions of the referee. He also said it looked to him as if Shane Long got off with a lot.

    The referee performance bears out the judgment on Untold before the match. The referee allowed people in the opposing team to foul again and again without being penalised. Luckily there appear to have been no actual injuries to our team as there were in two previous matches refereed by Moss. Unfortunately to make up for it he allowed three goals to our opponents that should not have stood.

    Someone said Theo Walcott was very quiet yesterday. He has just come back from a long term injury. Perhaps he saw what was going on and was afraid of another. I don’t know if this is the case, but if so, it would be understandable.

  • Colg

    If Arsenal play like that again they will lose to Bournemouth. Happens far too often this year, e.g. cl games. Seems to be something like complacency creeps in against supposed ‘lesser’ opposition.

  • Josif

    Defeats can happen. To be honest, I usually make my own prediction before the season starts and I never count on points at St Mary’s. Defeats against them don’t hurt me that much mostly because I have a big respect for their academy. We have three players in the team that were produced by Southampton, after all.

    If we win the next two, we can open a serious gap on City. They have two difficult away games. If we make a good signing in January, we are in pole position to win the title race. Second half of January is going to be crucial.

  • apo Armani

    How predictable are the AAA…almost as predictable as the media/pundits.

    On our next win they crawl back under the rocks they feel comfortable living in 🙂

  • apo Armani

    I will accept a late Santa gift being 3 blatant wrong decisions resulting in goals in our favor for once!!

  • ob1977

    After arguing with my Arsenal mates last night, who are convinced how bad we are, how we always bottle it, how useless Arsene is and that we will always fail under Arsene, I tried explaining a few things that I thought countered their “arguement”

    I tried explaining some of the best points on here, that we have been the best team over 2015, which is the epitome of consistency, that we are playing without 4 of our best players hampering the need to freshen up the team, that away to Southampton is no gimme, that we beat Bayern when we needed to, that is not bottling it, went to Olympiakos and got a great win when we needed to, beat City holding out in the last 15 minutes after looking so composed when we needed to…

    And to finish off that we now have two home matches and although no matches are gimme’s we need clear our heads, to raise it again and win these matches, that would make us 7 wins in 9, and most probably top of the league heading into the new year with a host of 1st team players on the cusp of returning for a push to at least keep us in the mix come April/May, its not all bad…

  • Al

    Hear a petition has been launched to bar moss from getting involved in our games. Not sure if it’s not someone just trying some mischief-making, nor am I saying I support it; too many petitions may make valid ones lose their meaning. Of course yesterday’s performance of awarding 3 illegal goals is unprecedented but don’t feel it’s time to start a petition, yet. There’s definitely grounds to feel aggrieved but maybe not to that level yet. Just my opinion.

    Looking at moss’s last 6 matches involving Southampton in the league shows they won 5 times and drew once, looks like he might be their lucky charm. In his last involvement in a saints match he brandished his notebook instead of the red card, when sending a Norwich player off. He seems too overzealous to award things in favour of the saints, it would appear, just like he was when awarding phantom corners and goals to Southampton yesterday.

  • Polo

    Why are some people so surprise that we lost to Southhampton on their turf? Southhampton is a good team and they needed the win more due to recent poor form. We haven’t won at St Mary’s I think since 2003. The performance wasn’t great but seriously some of the referee decisions are just awful, how is the trip on Kos which led to the second goal wasn’t a foul? We are still two points from top spot so let not panic. Congratulations to Southhampton though they played extremely well.

  • Rosicky@Arsenal

    It is very funny to read the Wob blogtettas who have come out of hiding after 1 defeat. Hope they creep back in hiding after Arsenal win on monday

  • Al

    Ok, my curiosity got the better of me and took a peek at said petition; they’re calling for his punishment or barring from further involvement in Arsenal games. I’d second the call for punishment definitely, he ought to be dropped for his performance yesterday, but knowing how the pgmob works wouldn’t be surprised if he gets rewarded with the utd v chelski fixture on Monday…

  • Frankantz

    I find it funny that the moment anyone critizes a performance their club allegiance is called into question and they are given some absurd childish label. Have a go at the referee if you like, but it was quite simply an awful performance lacking any application (which you can’t blame the ref for), and in the context of what has happened before and what is at stake, at least worthy of some debate. We are no strangers to being thumped anymore and it can’t all be blamed on the officials or ‘shit happening’. I’ve been following the club since 1969 so am no fair-weather charlie. The performance yesterday would not have been accepted back then. Somewhere within the club someone must be asking the question why. And no, I’m not calling for Wenger’s head.

  • Philbet

    Frankantz if you have been following The Arsenal since 1969 why are you so critical after a loss? after 47 years following a club have you never experienced ups and downs? You critically spous “a supposed top 4 club” shouldn’t get beat by Southampton well the statistics say > Top 4 for 19 years, we are not a supposed top 4 we are as near as dammit a genuine top 4 club!!! Football is never straightforward win after win, at the end of the season winners and losers are determined during the season its best to enjoy the ride because in 47 years time I doubt you will be doing so!!

  • “The performance yesterday would not have been accepted back then.”

    Really? What would have been done about it? Please be specific.

    We lost 5-0 to Stoke en-route to winning the 1970/71 double, can you please enlighten us about what happened after that result since it “would not have been accepted back then” as you claim?

    When people start giving their unverifiable bio on the Internet to establish their Arsenal pedigree, I just tune them out. I don’t give a damn about how long you’ve been a Gooner. It doesn’t make your opinion any added validity or otherwise.

    We have one poor game that was made a lot a worse than it really was by poor officiating and all of a sudden the team has won 4 in a row, including a MUST win CL game that very few expected them to, are now being called assorted names.

  • Kenneth Widmerpool

    Eddy at PA put this up. Webbs comments are a bit baffling to say the least. Sorry if its already been posted here.

  • goonersince72

    Great article Tony; especially the last paragraph. Absolutely hilarious, I think I read it over 5 times! Might save it. For all the vitriol I see spilled across the posts re the Saints match the important thing is as you so eloquently state “…Arsenal don’t have too much to worry about”. They played badly yesterday and will correct it tomorrow. That’s football. I’m a long time, loyal member of the Arsene Knows Best brigade but if I criticise a poor performance I’m a member of the aaa. It’s only one game but it wasn’t a good one. Some folks here are as bad as the media (I won’t accuse anyone of being as bad as the PGMO or the FA) in their myopic view of the matches. Thank God we can get relief with timely, accurate articles like yours with perspective and balance. I’m looking forward to another soon. Perhaps after the hiding Bournemouth are going to take.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Shit ref, poor performance. The players looked fatigued to me, their heads seem to drop a bit , perhaps as a result of some of these decisions.
    Southampton ….some of them realised themselves to heights they will rarely reach, they opened with a freak, and wrongly given goal.
    I thought our defence was exposed too much, do not like to single out players, but perhaps there was a lack of protection from MF, maybe due to a toll of recent heroics from some players. And if our MF is not at its best, our attack suffers, and for this team, attack is the best form of defence…..and on this front, we did not really function yesterday. But if fatigue was a factor, that is a bit of a worry, as opportunities to rotate are limited for now. Btw…..where was Debuchy?
    Unfortunately, with so many injuries to …let’s face it, key players, with others playing their way back to form, and yet others who have been heroic but have not played so many games in the last year or so, this kind of thing can happen.
    The important issue is now how they bounce back, this bunch are well capable.
    As long as we stay in touch, avoid too many further injuries, get our key players back, make any signings Wenger deems suitable, we can look forward to the coming months with huge optimism.
    Despite games like that, this team are in an upward curve, see no reason why that might not continue.
    We should not underestimate city, or the pgmol, or our ability to have the odd malfunction but hopefully, the next time we have the chance to go top, we will finally take it, who knows, it might even be decisive.

  • Kenneth Widmerpool,

    Webb faulted the 1st 3 goals as caused by errors from the officials BUT still pointed the finger at Arsenal for the loss. The first legitimate goal of the game was scored during injury time FFS. A better officiating might have resulted in a totally different outcome, afterall, how many times have we weathered the storm in games only come up tops in the end?

    Moss cost us this game and seeing Webb’s verdict on the first 3 goals convinced me more than ever before. Please keep posting that link at every opportunity. More people need to see it.

  • Kenneth Widmerpool

    Boo-will do mate.Walter and Usamas ref report will be a hot potato thats for sure.

  • Mandy Dodd

    There was a time when Moss treated us fairly.
    Someone has clearly had a word with him.
    Apparently he now has a petition against him!

  • @rosicky@arsenal,@frankantz@apo Armani i call those morons sewer rats and when you call them that they cry hoarse, they have been in the sewers for a while and wait after tomorrow they will be back in the sewers for a little bit longer and one loss they will be out. They always nibble on stuff left when we have not chewed them well so you have to pity them.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Some impressions on the match:

    We are a darn good club; we are not dominant. It would have taken a dominant team to defeat the two sides against us yesterday.

    It would have been nice to have had some dribblers like Wilshere out there. Southampton’s press was largely to intercept passes and close down space. We kept at the passing and when it wasn’t fast enough we didn’t take on their defenders…who knows? Watched a bit of Barcelona football…their defenders step up with the ball and threaten to dribble up the middle forcing a forward to try to close them down…we tend to look for the pass first.

    We weren’t sharp with our first touches. We weren’t awful as some would say. The score flattered Southampton; we played much better than last year though the score is worse.

    I watched on an American stream…the commentators seem much less biased. The were commentating on how poor Moss was. “He hasn’t covered himself in glory, today”

    Is there not some sort of minimum 48 hour limit between games?

  • John

    Kampala gun
    Can you repeat that drivel you have just posted, but in English this time please.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Good points going going Gooner.
    We are missing three key players that could work well against those pressing tactics, as you say, Wilshere, but would add Alexis and Caz to that.
    We have been badly hit by injuries, and shit refs, but if we are still in touch as key players return, and if we can avoid major injury to the likes of ozil, we will mount a serious challenge

  • Kampala you are one very strange man have you ever considered therapy
    worth some consideration , might help long term !

  • Tom

    Kampala Gun

    Is there a rodent infestation nearby where you live by any chance?
    I’ve never heard anyone bring up rats as often as you do 🙂

    Take a chill pill my friend and try to relax. It’s only football.

    For everyone else who thinks we were robbed, Southampton could’ve had a fourteen year old academy keeper in goal and he would have kept us out last night.

    That’s all you need to know about our performance.

    Having said that, yes , Moss was pitiful as usual, but I have seen him referee other teams in the PL and what he showed us yesterday wasn’t out of ordinary.

    However, the only thing he cost us last night was the goal difference in the final league tables.

  • Frankantz

    Bottomee, you’ve answered your own question about what would have been done about it, because you know exactly what happened after that result. Do you really see the current team going on an unbeaten run on the way to a league and Cup double? Me neither.
    Mee and McLintock never allowed the team to be deflected by the dodgy decisions and complacency for the rest of the season. Wenger, on the other hand, is already absolving blame by pointing at the referee. I see many more ‘blips’ for us on the horizon if we play like we did yesterday.
    Yes, that’s an opinion. I really couldn’t care less whether you value it or not, but don’t try to belittle it by assuming I have some kind of agenda.

  • Frankantz

    Wenger: ‘Personally at this stage of the season I don’t give too much importance to going top,’
    Do his players have the same laissez faire attitude I wonder? If they didn’t they probably do now.

  • Frankantz

    Philbet, am I being SO critical or just being critical? I watched a really shambolic performance yesterday, but the reason I’m critical of it is because we’ve seen that sort of bizarre capitulation before. And despite the protestations of the players and the manager I suspect we’ll see it again sooner than we think. I have no agenda against Wenger. I simply believe we are not making the most of what we have or could be.

  • Pat

    Bizarre capitulation. That is not really an analysis of what happened yesterday. Three of the goals should not have stood so the score flatters Southampton. After the second goal we had to go for it as best we could so laying ourselves open. We did not play well but that is not the sa me as saying we capitulated.

    Injuries meant we had to bring on young Iwobi as a sub. I look forward to the ref review to reveal just how many Southampton fouls on our players went unpunished. A glib phrase does not cover these factors.

    The English premier league is not the same as it was twenty, thirty or forty years ago. The money is different, the influence of managers and players from other countries is different, even the grass and the ball are different.

    However, possibly the most insulting, unfair and untrue accusation is to imply that our players have no grit and no guts. Anyone who implies that definitely has an agenda, whatever they say.

  • Mandy Dodd

    I don’t see us going them going on an unbeaten run, but the beauty of this season, I don’t see anyone else doing that, or even coming close either.
    Most see our main rival as City, and let’s be honest, they are pretty inconsistent to say the least. A couple key players injured, and they are all over the place.
    As for the rest, I just don’t see any significant threats at all.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Frank, don’t think wenger is absolving anyone of blame, if you look at his transcript on the official site, he mentions the team lost too many challenges and were not sharp enough to play their usual game.
    Yes, he mentions the officials, but name me one manager who wouldn’t when they face inadequate officials week in week out, and why would a manager keep quiet when his team had three goals against them in one game that should have been ruled out? The standard of refereeing in this league is appalling, the very best one can say is that they need technological help, why should their performances not be questioned in the same way a players or managers would be?
    They say it all evens itself out in the end with refereeing decisions, when we are wrongly given three goals in a single game, I might even believe what they say.

  • Col

    Nothing to worry about? 1 point from WBA, Norwich and Southampton (aggregate score 2-7 against), three of the worst teams in the division, says otherwise. Whether the problem is the injury crisis which is apparently not a crisis, the lack of squad depth which is apparently not an issue since buying players is not a proper solution, or simple complacency brought about by Arsene continually blowing smoke up their collective posteriors I have no idea – or perhaps it is some other problem. Some would say (here mainly) it is all down to refereeing decisions, perhaps it is? I think Arsenal need a little more of the backbone they used to have to tough out games against teams with unsophisticated strategies. For me we need 2 DMs for certain games, and to only have one of Arsenal quality (Coquelin) across an entire season will inevitably lead to too many results like this. Hoping Bournemouth have an off day…

  • Mandy Dodd

    Across an entire season will lead to results like this……….you are right on that one, the regular top four teams, no matter who they signed, how much they spent, or how much of a tactical genius their managers are supposed to be…..this season, they are all getting results like this, and I have a hunch Leicester are about to join in, to add to us hitting five past them of course.

  • Gord

    I wrote a few comments about consistency, and how it fits into winning. i think most people gave up on the thread before I wrote these comments which involved a lot of number crunching on my part.

    Introduction, and 1.2 versus 1.1:

    The Poisson Team and Some Numbers:

    Poisson, with 100 Times as Many Numbers:

    Too Much Consistency?

    Don’t be scared of them, I am not asking anyone to solve math to read them.

  • para

    What gets me is the nonchalance that ok we lost, but we’re still (near)top in the PL. I’ll bet if we were down in 7th place it would not be so though.

    The fact that this performance was real bad is worrying. 4-0 tells the story of “giving up”, something that i thought Arsenal were not going to do again, so yea, it’s a bad loss.

    I am so proud of the lads, how they played up to this game, but not proud of them for this one. Seems there was no preparation for Sou at all, and we just folded.

    So, if Bournemouth brings the same play as Sou, will we fold again or will we fight to offset that like we should?

    As fans we expect effort even in losing, there was not much of it.

    That’s all.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Jumping the gun …or Throwing the baby out with the bathwater ..or
    relegating the second placed team prematurely !

    The telephone rang in the stately home of Lord Armstrong in North Yorkshire, England and his butler answered the call.

    ‘It’s me. Please go to my wife’s bedroom and tell her that I’ll be home late from the club.’ I’m sorry, M’lord, her ladyship is already asleep.’

    ‘Then wake her and tell her, while I hold the ‘phone,’ the caller demanded.
    ‘Yes, Sir,’ the butler replied. The butler returned and said, ‘My Lord, her ladyship is now in her room with a strange man I have never seen before.”

    ‘Damn them! How could she do that to me?!? OK, here’s what you do. Get my rifle, break down the door, and shoot them both.’ ‘Yes, Sir,’ the butler responded. He puts the phone down and after a short while 2 shots are clearly heard.

    A few minutes later, the butler returned to the phone and reported, ‘My Lord, I tried my best. I shot the man, but your wife dived out the window to the garden before I could shoot her as well.’

    ‘To the garden? What garden?’

    ‘The one adjacent to her room, my lord.’

    Long pause.

    ‘Sorry about that, I think I have the wrong number.’

  • para,

    There you go crapping your pants again and acting like this is the first game the team had played poorly this season. EVERY team has a bad day from time to time including those who are supposed to be better than Arsenal. We lost, big fucking deal. Your berating the team and asking others to join you in the unproductive venture is irritating especially as you like to bask in the glory with other Untolders when things are going well.

    I recall your several post condemning us to the Europa league while people like myself refused to give up on the team. The team got the needed results despite your lack of faith while the faith of people like us was handsomely rewarded.

    Lesson: Calm the fuck down and support your team; especially when the going gets tough (i.e. times like last Saturday).