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Arsenal at the end of the world

by Walter Broeckx

Many Arsenal fans have thrown themselves off the cliffs after Saturday’s game.  Be it mostly virtual cliffs on the internet. The world stopped turning, the forces of gravity lost their force, the end of the world was near: Arsenal conceded 5 goals in one match. Was I happy with us conceding 5 goals? No, not at all. But I really do think we are missing a few things when we see some reactions.

Let us start with the opponents: Legia Warsaw. Now when you live in England and you can follow the EPL I can understand you don’t care about other leagues. And with the success from English teams recently in the champions league, all is it over 2 seasons that an English team has won it, some people may think that outside England football is nothing. Well they do play some football in other countries and going away to another country is never easy. No away games are easy.

Legia Warsaw is a bit of a sleeping giant club. It still  is one of the big names in Polish football. And a club that has a very hot blooded supporters clan. They even are one of the teams that is known and feared for their hooligans. They support the team with a lot of passion. I think those who have seen the game could see that for a big part of the stadium this wasn’t a friendly game at all. The fans stood behind their team in an unseen way in friendly games. In friendly games the atmosphere is normally a bit soft and gently but the fans in Warsaw made it look as if it was a Champions League game.

So there we were with our team with some new players, with some players with a little bit of pedigree but also with a few real young players. I think players like Frimpong never have experienced such an atmosphere in their career before. And it is fair to say that Arsenal started their game like they start any friendly. They tried to control the ball and play some nice football. But Legia had other things in mind and they ran around like mad men in a cave. They pressed, they fought, they shoved, they ran, they ran and then they ran some more.

And yes the young lads lost it a bit you can say. You could see that some of them did not really know what to do. And yes they made mistakes. Even some more experienced players made mistakes. I think in the first half hour you can point at all the players for making mistakes. I only could see the first half our live on my computer and I had written down the word  restless to describe our performance. So are we doomed? Are we lost? Is the season over?

No. When 3-0 down after some really bad mistakes, and not only mistakes by the 4 defenders but also by even some of our more experienced players we changed it around. Chamakh proved to be a player who can be used as a big and strong attacker. A good cross to him can cause problems to other teams. He scored our first goal on a beautiful chipped cross from Nasri, who was maybe the best player on the pitch in our preparation.

And what did our so called stubborn manager do at half time? He brought in some young players. Vela, Gibbs and an older player Eboue. He made a few changes and suddenly we were on top of the game. Vela curled in an excellent free kick and Eboue of all people headed it in. I think this is the first goal he scores with his head in his career. And just a few minutes later Eboue was running on his own on goal. A few seasons ago you could have put all your money on : Eboue shooting right at the keeper, Eboue shooting the ball high in the crowd, and you would have won. But the Eboue we see now kept his head, feinted a shot and then shot the ball pass the keeper on the ground. 2 years ago he would have hit the keeper on the ground and the ball would have gone wide. Please don’t think players cannot change or get better. They do get better when Wenger and Arsenal have them at the club.

Then Vela picked up a ball, saw the forward running Gibbs, played an inch perfect pass and Gibbs powered his shot high past the keeper. In some 25 minutes we turned the whole game on its head and had scored 4 times.

And when we failed to clear our line and conceded a 4th goal we just came back out and scored another few goals. Vela headed a ball in the path of JET who turned it in low. And to finish the game Nasri fired in a free kick. In between Vela was very unlucky to see a shot from some 25 meters out with the outside of his left foot going just wide. And oh yes Legia scored another goal to make it 5-6.

So yes there was some complacency at the start of the game, so yes we didn’t defend enough like a team, so yes in the first half some players lost their head a bit. Are we going to throw it all away by a bad 30 minutes?

Why don’t we look at the last hour of the game? The hour we scored 6 goals. How many teams would have done this trick at Legia before? If there is a Legia fan out there could he inform us how many times Legia was forced to let in 6 goals at home, in one hour and after being 3-0 up?

Why don’t we hype the performance of Eboue, from zero two seasons ago untill a player who even keeps his head cool when clear on goal these days. Why don’t we underline the great performance of Vela who gave 3 assists and who was just unlucky not to score on of the best goals ever? Why don’t we talk about the great performance of Nasri, once again this preseason? Why don’t we talk about the strength and power of Chamakh in the opposing penalty area?

Being 3-0 down after 35 minutes, away from home, against a team full of fire, against fans who supported their team as if it was the CL final and still win is something that only great players can achieve. And some may be young, maybe to young at times, but they have something special: they will not give in and they will try to fight back. Even in a friendly game in pre season they don’t want to lose the game. And even if they started with the wrong mentality, which is a capital sin in football, they did something that few teams can do: change this mentality and start to fight for it, even in a friendly game.

So yes we can be disappointed with the 5 goals we got against on Saturday. But we must be filled with joy by the way this team  turned it round. A team that was playing without : Cesc Fabregas, Robin Van Persie, Diaby, Denilson, Song, Andrei Arschavin, Nicklas Bendtner. 7 (yes seven) players were missing. Some of our best players from last season and some of the best in the world and still we refused to accept defeat and fought back to win a friendly game.

A final note, let us think back just one year on the day. That day we ended our final preparation game at Valencia and lost 2-0. Every doomer and gloomer went crazy and predicted we would finish out the top 4, we would even struggle to qualify for Europe, we would be relegated with this team, we could just stop playing and hand the 3 points to the opponents each week and go to the coca cola league.

Tony from Untold Arsenal was in those days a beacon of light in the darkness and told us to just wait and see. And Tony was right as only one week later we started a great season which was only stopped by the biggest injury crisis since I follow the Arsenal and that is rather a while to be honest.

Maybe those 5 goals turn out to be a blessing in disguise, just like the defeat against Valencia was last year. A nice reminder of the fact that you have to come on the field with the right attitude.

Untold Arsenal – the web site Arsène can’t do without. Can you?

Woolwich Arsenal – charting our history

44 comments to Arsenal at the end of the world

  • Bobby Pliers

    I said it before and I’ll say it again, it takes intelligence to look at situations in a positive light and not solely focus on the negatives. In order to look at positives you have to use a bit of thought its so much easier to just say everything is crap, because you don’t have to qualify it with anything, but as the above article proves to state the positives you need to think about your arguments and most cannot be bothered to do this hence its so much easier to say its all shit and we are doomed.

  • Gooneraside

    Yes, Walter, exactly.

    I went to the Valencia game last season and must admit to feeling disappointed afterwards. Not by having lost 2-0, but with not seeing more *stars*. The youngsters on display were not up to Valencia’s players (on the day) but I was enthused that they received the experience.

    This last weekend felt partly the same. I didn’t manage to see this match but had the same after-feeling.

    We should be feeling pleased and ready for the season. I know this leaves room for comments from others that we are not ready, that we need a CB and keeper, but the lads have learnt a lot (and Eboue has upped his confidence).

    Let’s go, The Arsenal!

  • Eirik

    i think diaby will have a great season.

  • A good article, and I thoroughly agree. I went to the Emirates for the first time recently to watch Arsenal v Celtic, and was very impressed. I think it’s been a good pre-season. Yes there are some problems, but I think that we are in for a great season, perhaps the best for some years, with several players finally blossoming and some truly vintage Arsenal football.

  • wen_detta

    Please walter, if you could persuade AW to buy an experienced/worldclass GK. OTherwise Arsenal might end-up trophyless for 6 year..
    Fabianski is not the answer YET..please please please Walter… it is ok if we lose a game but with dignity..not lost by an UNPROFESSIONAL error as they are all professional player..
    if things happen in the future were happened in the past, i fear Fab will go by end of this season..I still have a feeling that he really wants to stay but depend on the people around him on the pitch

  • Great post Tony
    Everyone can look at things differently but wenger was happy after the match so Im happy.
    We did ship some easy goals but with strenght in depth like we have I cant see why we wont mount a challenge for the league title this season and we have so many young guns taking to hte field which is always lovely to see them blossom also.
    Im an optimist at heart and although ive been craving some kind of cup over the last few seasons and my 50 quid bet goes down the swanny every year I couldnt be happier to watch Arsenal play the way they play and maybe end runners up but at least were in good health and it will happen.
    In a kind of sick way im glad we havent won sooner as I love wenger to sign for another 5 yrs and for him to see his dream of nurturing youth come true.
    Im already sad at the prospect of him leaving the club some day but were living in the now and I know my bet is gonna cash in this season.
    On another point Tony I get a bit distressed at what time you load your posts on each day.
    Its near midday before I gat my fix of UNTOLD so any chance they could be there around 9 when I saunter into work!!
    Great post by the way.
    Daithai.

  • GroovT

    The performance of Fabiansky deserve a piece of word. he was just amazing in terms of pathetic and ridicul.

  • gooner80

    Hey Walter

    it was only a friendly so as long as players dont get injured it is fine.

    about eboue players can change and I rate him, the impact I see himhave on games with his running on and off the ball is great!!

    I think sport is 90% mental and is the reason winning becomes a habit.

    alot of our team are seasoned pros and very experienced I think we have alot less of the (bad influence) in the team

    I know people will disagree with me but I think it is time for song to go back into defence and put frimpong in DM with denilson or eastmond in with him we are 80% there from winning the title and a few changes would make all the difference

  • Mohamed Zubairu

    Untold Arsenal is one the topmost sites I like to visit to get a good perspective of things. The bandwagon is all but optimistic about Arsenal in the coming season – just because of the Warsaw game. This article puts every thing in perspective and I am in perfect agreement. A team should not kill itself over a pre-season friendly therefore, should not be solely judged by it.
    All of our premiership rivals suffered defeats this pre-season. Is it not better to win a high-scoring game than to lose it?. I was impressed by JET’s goal in that he used raw power to evade a close marking defender. That is something to cheer about too.
    Let us be positive for the next season. Apart from the premiership, we shall have a stronger push for the cups this season because our fringe players have something to prove. The trophy will surely end with at least a cup this season. Trust me on this.

  • Jonny

    Good positive stuff Walter. I suppose the sobering consideration is that the injury crisis seems to have become the norm for our squad in the last 3 years (last year especially). The present position is looking little better – though I will still be amazed if Wilshere and Frimpong both start on Sunday.

    The need to find another defender is ever more pressing – especially as we have no way of being confident that we will not face a spate of injuries to central defence. Last year most felt we went in one defender light (once Djourou was ruled out late doors) a situation which was exacerbated by Wenger’s loss of faith in Silvestre as cover. It would be a grave mistake to repeat this shortcoming – though I remain confident Wenger will make a signing on the last day!

    I have heard rumour that Arsenal made wholesale changes to their medical team recently – in an attempt to quell the injuries. Anyone know if that is true?

  • LesClaypool

    @ Eirik:

    No…Diaby will not have a great season. He’s a shyte player, thus he cannot EVER have a great season. Diaby is worthless garbage.

  • disappearslikesmoke

    My favorite arsenal blog, with yet another fab post. man, wish i’d known about this during my early days of following arsenal…looking forward to a promising season. Cheers!

  • Isaac Nuako (Kenyasi-Ghana)

    Yes, this is a real positive analysis. Our manager Wenger had the option of trying some of his players on occasion like this. He was positive of them. The 5 goals gave him the chance to test his strategies in games of this nature if the EPL gets underway. The young players would also learn a lot from the experience ones how they were able to turn the tables upside down.It is my fervent hope that Eboue will continue in the new form that he has hit.
    GO GUNNERS, GO WENGER.

  • DAITHAI O MUIRIGEAN – a quick word to say that article is not by me. I am on holiday, and just got a chance to log in and read Walter’s first piece in my absence.

    Two years ago Untold took a holiday every time I went away, and people were kind enough to moan about this, so now I persuade Walter to take on the duties, which he very kindly does, and does it magnificently = and I have to say I thought this article was a real cracker.

    About the timing of the posts – Walter is in foreign parts, and they have different timetables outside the UK. Indeed in Italy I am reliably informed it is last Friday but that might be the alcohol.

  • GoonerGaz

    I agree that under Wenger our players seem to steadily improve with time.However Clichy seems to be the exception and defensively he is very poor whilst going forward never seems to offer any real threat.Hopefully Gibbs can step up this year and fullfill the promise he showed before his injury.

  • Armin

    Hardly can make any comment, because it would be just admitting you are absolutely right Walter.
    But there are few more points to be added in, and not about only this game but whole preseason.
    Why we sow Man(one) only once ? Does it mean he is maybe No 1 and rest of guys fight for bench-warmer? I mean you don’t try only players you are sure in.
    Why no one actually talk about Firmpong and JET, who seams to be like very expensive new signings?

  • Guns & roses

    You are being too optimistic even after Arsenal let in 5 goals. This shows that the mentality is weak even after all the vows and promise by the players to defend better.

    If you just think that the opponent is Chelsea and we let in 3 goals in the first half, can we score 4 goals in the second half? I watched the Community Shield on Saturday, I must said the other two teams ie Chelsea and Man U played fast penetrating passings games with lightning speed counter attack.

    Sometimes, is not about losing faith with Wenger and Arsenals’ players but as a Gunner supporter for 30 years, I must said we are still behind them in many ways.

    Not to say winning the Premier League or Champion League, why not we ask when can we beat Chelsea and Man U again by 3-0?

  • daokta

    You have brought another perspective to the match Walter. I am not one of the doom and gloomers but I felt very apprehensive about the performance of the back five throughout the game. I do not think we will get a central defender now but am hoping for an established GK at least. Given would be an excellent choice if things do not go his way at City.

  • Hee hee,Fair dues Tony.
    I suppose we have learnt to be tolerant and understanding supporting Arsenal in recent years so I wont throw my toys outta the pram just yet.
    Fao Jonny
    Weve recently aqquired the services of a of Garry O Driscoll who was working with the Irish rugby team and a few provinces aswell.
    Hes actually a first cousin to Brian O Driscoll and was a permenant fixture in the Irish rugby setup for many years.
    He has been at the helm of allot of ground breaking stuff in terms of how fit a player is and what the percentage is of him getting injured at his current fitness level and they also take fatigue into account,Most rugby teams have it in practice at the moment.
    It may help us allot and we have rushed players back in recent times only for them to get a reoccurance of their injury or a new one due to fatigue and bad posture resulting from fatigue.
    Hope this helps

  • LRV

    Great post, with great reasoning Walter.

  • Topsports

    I appreciate the fact that you want us to always get behind team and take out the positives at all times, but what about the obvious deficiencies? we are starting the season with 3CBs, we are starting with either Almunia or Fabianski in goal, a couple of players are already out injured even before kicking the ball. we have always used our injuries as excuses but that is no longer tenable, we need to get cover for key positions, lets face it….with the kick them attitude of other teams when playing us, our players will always be injured. Arsenal is too big a club to go 6 seasons without a trophy, we are just 2 or 3 quality players short at the moment, Le Boss, pls get out the cheque book

  • Armin

    For all those who say “what if this was Chelsea”, question is, do you really think Legija scored 5 because we are really such bad?
    Its lack of respect for opponent which cost us 3 goals (somehow I cant imagine our players start game with no respect for Chelsea and letting them play as they want).
    Goal no 4 is pure product of “total forward” policy, so I guess, yes we can get one goal from Chelsea if we go in to “headless offensive”. But it can happen in any game.
    Goal no 5 is more less caused by again lack of interest as players got aware battle is won and AW start letting in players who would usually get in in 92 minute in average EPL game.

    So the only real point of worry is second goal, which is so “arsenalic” or let me say sooo “Fabianski”. And that is only thing which have to be sorted, is it lack of communication, is it lack of intelligence, I don’t know. Nor I dare to make such conclusion, but somehow I believe there is man in Arsenal who is much better expert in it, and at the end, paid to do so, so he will do it.

  • walter

    DAITHAI O MUIRIGEAN, I must say that I was late today and I hoped Tony wouldn’t notice it. 😉 Just kidding.
    But to be honest I didn’t realise that some people really are waiting for a new article and could become impatient. On the other hand when Tony runs the site, most of the time he is doing it, I also do go back to see what he came up with.
    I will try to be a bit earlier tomorrow morning as we still have some articles ready to go.
    And for those who really cant get enough of Untold articles, there will be some more coming up soon.

  • walter

    And thanks DAITHAI O MUIRIGEAN for the information on the fitness thing.

  • walter

    And Armin I am preparing an article on the 2nd Legia goal to come on the site tomorrow. Just will be trying to give my original view on this matter. Which is making me, talking as a ref, very very angry.

  • I thought that it was really a champions league match indeed legia players were ferocious the crowd were behind them 120%, and we were trying to play pretty ball, we were not allowed the space to do, our defenders realised too late that Legia Warsaw came for a match and were unprepared.
    The good about it we started showing some steel although they stilled scored more and we also changed the pace of the game in the second off.

  • Armin

    It was one of goals which are …just pattern of ones we got last season, and most of them again Fabianski.
    I don’t know, was it ..really foul on keeper, I didn’t see it, I sow goal but not foul. But what makes him dive and fall. Why he didn’t jump over TVs back and pick the ball? I mean 100 questions.
    And again, from all 5 goals that is the only one which should make us worrying. Fact that we let 5 is important as much is important that chelsea couldnt win even game in preseason.
    And than they will say “hey its only preseason”.
    Well, Legia game is only preseason too.

  • Dark Prince

    Walter- remember the game last year with barcelona. We showed them respect but still they oozed class. Scoring 6 against a team like legia is not an impossible task. But conceding 5 goals is pathetic. Our problem last year was defence and it still is. We are not complaining about our forwards, Its the bloody defence. And we all kno that we hav still need to re-inforce our defence. We cant face a team like Man u or chelsea wit such a defence. They’ll demolish us like last year. Koscielny looks good but is not exactly superb. We need someone with experience and built. Also fabianski may be good later on but as of now, he isn’t good enough. Again an experienced and well built keeper is needed. We had discussed all these issues at the start of the transfer period and still we hav reached no where. I dont think any excuse is valid.

  • Ficky

    It just a friendliy game, Guns n Roses. I’m sure you still moaning even if we win with 6-0? See the fact that we win in this game. If we play against chelsea or MU it will be different story, and Walter not discussing it right now. You are making tooooooooooooooo much assumption.

  • goonergerry

    Walter-Yes others were missing but the performance by a first choice back 5 was frightening. The first half keeper was shocking at set pieces. There was poor defending right throughout the team for the whole game. Are we supposed to just deny this?

  • Dark Prince

    Its a good sign that Wenger has said that we still need to strengthen our defences. Hopefully he means that we need a new goalkeeper as well. Bcoz if our goalkeeper isn’t as good, then our defence would also taking tension about the goalkeeper. Just look what happened with Chelsea in the community shield. They hav a strong defence but their goalkeeper was pathetic so even their defenders were worried and made mistakes. On the other hand, United had a young defence but still managed to hold them off bcoz of their superb goalkeeper. Edwin Van Der Sar and Petr Cech are the two important players who were responsible for Chelsea and Man United’s success.

  • podge

    I just want to start with the line: chill the f**k out, it was a friendly Chelsea have lost all but 2 of theres Manu have lost a few Man city lost all but 2 and only won 1. All of them are expected to finish ahead of us this season by many. we conceded 5 goals we scored 6 against a team in the champions league qualifiers who have already started their season who were really up for it had great support. Our defending was relaxed and lacked urgency what you expect in a friendly the artcle understood the context of the score perfectly when you are unprepared you concede goals when you are focused you score goals and concede less second half was 5-2. First half while 3-1 showed heart and deire to fight back considering this was a friendly that bodes really well

  • Wrenny

    What impressed me most in the Warsaw game was the quality of our finishing. Arsenal are often criticised for trying to ‘walk it into the net’, but you couldn’t say that after watching that match. Eboue and JET’s finishes were so composed and well placed, while Gibbs’ goal was a brilliant power shot into the roof of the net.

    Scoring two headers is also very encouraging, and Vela had a great match. I hadn’t actually realised he provided 3 assists.

  • Dark Prince

    Podge- u wanna chil out?? i dont think ur an arsenal fan. Coz this is a matter of concern. I dont care how chelsea or city perform for their pre season games. But i care how we perform. And if we dont perform properly then its a matter of concern than a matter of ‘chilling out’. We’ve conceded against AC milan, Celtic, legia also. So we should think what is wrong in the defence. Obviously the goalkeeper situation is not goin of end till we hav another season of bad goalkeeping. I hope Wenger realises this.

  • simon bailey

    quality? you want to talk about quality? the quality of the arsenal tv online stream was brutal. i wish they would offer a range of bitrate streams, i would even stump up another quid to get a better stream.

    just listening to their fans ( the audio quality was ok) was amazing. the way the chants started was great. when they get their 4th stand built the atmosphere for the opposition will be very oppressive.

    as for the match, i thought we did well to come back from 3 down. lets face it, we wont score first in every match this season, so having the ability to bounce back is very important. almost as important as not letting any in at all.

    also, fab was back playing at his old club, at the official inaugurisation (i think) of their new stadium. i think nerves played a big part in him letting in 3, especially the second.

  • TommieGun

    I think what’s good in this post is that it balances out the doom and gloomers… who SOLELY focus on the negative. A balanced review should include both the positive (to retain and adopt) and the negative (to improve). However, dismissing the negative is as bad as dismissing the positive, and as the positive “feels” like the bird in hand, we tend to foucs on the negative.

    And as though I wholly agree with the positives reviewd here, I also think that we would benefit from another defender (unless Nordveit comes thru) and that we are in need of a new goalie.

    Hope for a good season opener next sunday !

  • Armin

    Again, at Legia game, we missed only one player. Not any specific player, but one who should say “what to hell you are doing, lets smash this a**holes”. As we missed it on field, we needed halftime AW to say it.

  • Tone

    Why are so many players already injured!? Couldn’t Arsene get them a yoga coach three time a week or somat?

  • peter

    i will rather watch my team come back from 3 goals down and eventually win 6-5 than watch my team win one of its preseason games and lost the remaining three- am talking about chelsea.

  • Guns & Roses

    Ficky, you are very optimistic to the point you dun know what you are saying. Whether it is a friendly or premier league or champions league. the team must play their best. Dun forget we score six against Everton last season, everything is possible!

    Whether we have iur top players or not, we still must retain the minimum standard of the so called “Big Four”.

  • Phil

    Great post as usual guys. Although my motto of the last few years has become – Winning is Overrated – I am warming up to this season for the following reasons:
    1. When the team has settled with the same players our opponents have developed simple and often crude ways of beating us.
    2. When we have been forced to change personnel we have become unpredictable and hard to beat
    3. The replacements to the first team have to be really strong, motivated and talented – this nhas not always been the case in the past
    4. Competition breeds achievement
    Conclusion:
    The pre season has been fantastic for our emerging youth. They are chomping at the bit to make their mark. Arsenal’s main problem now is to balance the ambitions and development of these young guns and keep the whole lot together and wanting to stay with us when they know that playing time is so limited.
    All great, successful coaches have that same problem. The fact that we have it now, i.e. what are we going to do with JET, Jack, Vela, Rambo, Nasri, Eboue, Gibbs, Bendtner, Frimpong, Szcesny,when the whole “first” is fit and available bodes well for the future. Because we also have Nordveit, Lansbury, Ayling, Cruise, Watt, Sunnu, Coquelin, Afobe, Aneke, Bartley, Miquel, Murphy all to come as well.
    Transfer market – whore’s drawers.
    We want players who are part of our team, our ethic and our world view. It’s the best there is.

  • Fedda

    I don’t get the gloom about doing a bad game in pre-season. It is all about match fitness and getting that sharpness back after a summer break. It is also a chance for reserves to show their hunger. I prefer winning games due to player’s confidence growing. Thats why we play “lesser” teams.

    Our PL opener is few days away and I am really struggling too see that AW is adding someone to our squad. If he does it has to be someone from the PL, elsewise it will take a while to adapt.

  • Zulu Gooner

    Great Blog again. Nice to have a positive view when so many others are negative and purile. thank you

  • Shard

    Another factor that I don’t think you mentioned Walter (maybe because it’s quite obvious) that the team may not have prepared for it quite the same way as for a competitive match. I mean that they may have done more fitness work than usual in a bid to be fit for the start of the season. Thats not hiding from concerns about the defense because I think we need additions to the squad as well as to improve our organisation, but its a factor which should be considered.

    On a slightly different note, notwithstanding the collapse late in the season, I think we won some ‘respect’ over the course of the year. What I mean by that is that teams will be not as eager to just try and kick us.(think it was because we won the stoke game)
    Of course it also depends on our ability to hit back if need be even at the expense of a red card at times;something I think is coming through in our attitude.