The joy of two squads (maybe next season we’ll have three)

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By Tony Attwood

Just imagine what it would be like if we just had a first team with a few reserve players who could pop in when things were not quite on the boil.   That first team would be playing every game, league, FA Cup, League Cup, Champions League.   They’d be stitched up when injured to just go out and make up the numbers.

Instead we really do have a double set of players, with a very minimal amount of overlap.  (And if Diaby had not been a very naughty boy he could have given Song a rest on Sunday).

Man U are of course playing the same game – two teams, one for the big games, one for the little ones.   They squeezed through against Crawley, we drew away to Orient who are a couple of leagues above Crawley and have less money to spend.

Which suggests that the backup squad isn’t quite as good as it ought to be in either case.

But then just how good can you make a backup squad, without ending up with players who think, hang on if I went to Wigan or Tottenham or Blackburn or Bolton or Liverpool, I’d be able to play in the Premier League each week (unless until they get relegated).

Of course there is a counter argument to that which is Bentley, who believed he could rush his way into any club, and encouraged by certain elements in the media and on the blogs, started to believe that Wenger didn’t like English players and always deliberately held them back.  So off he went on a meander which eventually took him from the edges of the Arsenal first team, to Tottenham Reserves.

Of course he doesn’t play for Tottenham Reserves any more, but that in part is due to the fact that Tottenham wound up their reserve team and don’t play in the league any more.

This season we have a squad of around 23, something like 18 players out on loan (by the way did you see that Carlos Vela scored on his debut, and that Cardiff – for reasons not yet clear to me – dropped Ramsey and so went on to lose), and then a reserve team – which is where Ignasi Miquel came from (as predicted in this very blog).

So the only question is, why is our second eleven not that little bit better that they can sweep the likes of Orient aside?

Several reasons I think.  One is that it is not as easy as we might believe to sweep lesser clubs aside.  For them it is the cup final, and they will give everything to get a game out of it.  I seem to recall Man U slipping up with Burton and Exeter in recent years, and Liverpool (OK not a top notch team but still with a few decent players kicking around) being knocked out by Northampton.

Herbert Chapman, as we all have read in the history books, took the champions to Walsall and lost 2-0, and as I’ve pointed out several times, we had the devil of a job getting past Port Vale when doing the first Wengerian double.

It is not impossible of course – I remember trotting along to Yeovil to see us win 3-0, and Man City knocked the stuffing out of Notts County (two for Patrick you will have noticed), but it is not an automatic 6-0 thrashing each time.

Another reason is the irregularity of the reserve team playing together as a team.   If only they could get more matches together that would really do it, I think.  Which takes us into the whacky world of some of Untold’s reforms which just don’t seem to be on the cards (playing a team in the Scottish second division and another in the Spanish second division, or even playing a team in the English Championship).

We are helped by the fact that there is an Arsenal way of playing and we don’t change things around just to suit an individual player, but still, more games for the second XI as a unit would be helpful.

Which is why these replays aren’t such a bad thing.   These players get another bash at a game, and of course those who want to get to a game but don’t usually get the chance will be able to buy tickets.  (The replay is, I guess, the final cup match on my season ticket which means I’ll have to fork out for the quarter finals of the Champions League, but, ah well.  That’s life.)

A final thought: we have got through this season without Vermaelen – clearly our best central defender last season.   And yesterday we saw Ignasi Miquel, who looks like he could come through the ranks like Djourou before him.  Maybe that’s why another defender hasn’t been bought.

And there’s still…

  • Aaron Ramsey
  • Carlos Vela
  • Kyle Bartley
  • Jay Emmanuel-Thomas
  • Henri Lansbury
  • Craig Eastmond
  • Vito Mannone:
  • Sanchez Watt
  • Benik Afobe
  • Ryo Miyaichi
  • Gilles Sunu
  • Francis Coquelin
  • Armand Traoré
  • Wellington Silva
  • Pedro Botelho
  • Samuel Galindo

More history

Even more history

Untold Arsenal

A very personal note from Tony: Barclays Bank made £11.6bn profit last year and paid 1% tax in Britain.  It’s not football, but for me it is just as important.  Read the Guardian article if you find it troubling that more is paid in bank bonuses than in tax.

61 Replies to “The joy of two squads (maybe next season we’ll have three)”

  1. The second squad is very deceiving.. Draw again against a team of a lower division.. The same happened against Leeds, Ipswichm and Wigan! When our first team players are missing (Fabregas, Nasri, Wilshere, Van Persie, Song, Walcott, Koz etc. ) our team is just not winning… Our ‘second’ team did not win since a few games! Even against second or third division teams.

  2. I think we are very lucky to have a 2nd string side completely with internationals. I mean, where else can u get such an experienced 2nd squad?? But that is the reason why its becomes more disappointing that even with such a talented 2nd squad, we still cant beat a team which really shouldn’t be a threat. If you look at ManU’s or Chelsea’s 2nd squad, its nowhere near as good as to ours. But still our results and performances show that there isn’t much of a difference. Though having a replay against a weaker side at home may not be a problem. But still the likes of Cesc, Nasri and/or Van Persie will have to train in midweek bcoz they will be atleast in the substitutes. I dont mind the starting 11 that played ystrday to get that extra game. But i dont want Cesc, Nasri or any other players of our starting 1st 11 to train again for another midweek match which shouldn’t hav been there in the first place. Those boys need rest. Playing them every 3 days is very risky.

    Though, on the other hand, the replay match wont be a problem, but the quarters would be very tough. ManU will hav an entire week off that quarter final match. But we’ll have to travel to spain for the toughest match of our season and then travel with that tired squad to Old Trafford to face a fresh and probably strong ManU team.

  3. We obviously now have a pretty good first squad and a passable second string side allowing us to play in all 4 competitions.

    I do not think the second squad is quite there yet. We should be able to get past the likes of Ipswich, Leeds and Orient without a replay and without having to call on the likes of Cesc. I was impressed with Ignasi but thought some other players did not really step up.

    As Tony points out there are a lot of players out on loan which can slot into a second team next season. This suggests to me that there may be a bit of a clear out in the summer to make room for some of the younger players.

    My guess is that the likes of Denilson, Almunia, Rosicky and Bendtner may not be with us at the start of next season. I will be sad to see one or two of them go but with the young talent comning through seems to be the only sensible option.

  4. I really don’t have problem the teams attitude towards the game apart from Song whom for some reason didn’t just turn up for me, but like you said if Daiby

  5. As right as Wenger got it against Barca, he got it just as wrong yesterday. I get why he put the team out that he did and I would have put out the same 11 myself, but 1-0 was far too slim a lead to think he could get away without subs. Nasri or Cesc (or both) coming on for the last 15 mins would have been too much for a team that had been chasing the ball for 70-odd minutes. At the very least, we would have kept hold of the ball and possibly would have got another goal. As others have said, players like Bendtner and Chamakh need to step up in games like this if they want to give Wenger a selection headache. I hope even Bendtner won’t be arrogant enough to think he deserves a place on Wednesday or Sunday after that display. These players probably only have a handful of games until the end of the season to prove themselves. If they don’t, I really would get rid of most of them because we have young players who are our future and would love to be getting the opportunities that Bendtner & co are getting. On the plus side, Miquel looked good considering it was his debut but, other than that, the rest need to remember that this is a squad game and if they want to get into the first team, they have to show why they should be there. Finally, congrats to Orient, you never gave up and you got a fully deserved draw and I’m glad your financial worries will be eased for a good long while now.

    our squad players do need to start earning their considerable salaries. They certainly didn’t do that yesterday. The trouble is Wenger’s marked reluctance to hold his hands up, admit he’s wrong and move players on – which goes right back to the stubborn days of Senderos and Cygan. AW is never decisive/ruthless enough when it’s obvious a player simply ain’t top-class. Now I’m sure someone will cite me players who took time to “mature” but how long has, say, Bendtner or Denilson had? It may sound strange given the fact that, at the moment, we’re still in four comps, but I have long believed we need a big clear-out of our overpaid makeweights and the introduction of a few top-quality, experienced players to balance the squad. Will AW swallow his pride?

  6. I really don’t have problem with the teams attitude towards the game,apart from Song,who for some reason,didn’t turn up for me but like you said if Diaby were available he would’ve gotten a much needed rest. My real joy was Miquel,he really played well. I’ll be very sad if he did not play the replay as both Kos & DJ will really use the rest they can get.

  7. Ship out players with no passion even if they have talent. From that dire show (I can’t even get myself to write ‘performance’) against LO, I’d open the door for Alumnia, Chamakh, Bendtner, and even Denilson. We need to evolve a second eleven with the skills to slot in but more importantly with much greater passion(and from my short views of reserves I rather favour many of the the young British players). We beat Barca using concentration and bloody-minded commitment across the park and we lost at Leyton because players treated the match like a pushover. I felt so sorry for Rosicky trying to show his talent surrounded by players who had no interest in the shirt. Were our players too posh to wash? Did they think an ordinary dressing room, a lumpy pitch, a team from such a low league meant they didn’t need to turn up? That game proved who we should invest in and who we should move on.
    Hands up to Orient, though. 90 minutes of never-say-die. Well done!
    A passionate Gooner forever.

  8. our second team is very clever..earning replays and in turn earning one more match to start:D..obviously they will dispatch LO in the replay!!

  9. It wasn’t Vela’s debut Tony..

    And I sort of agree with Buxcey. It was taking a chance not making any substitutions.(But Wenger can be quite ruthless when he decides to be) Also, while Miquel was good yesterday, one good match doesn’t mean he’s ready for the step up. I’m not knocking him at all, in fact i rate him quite highly. Just don’t think we should count him as a regular member of the squad.

    For the rest, I’m not THAT disappointed with the result. My concern is the Stoke game, and I’m very much looking forward to Dogface’s ref preview.

  10. We were dire, as I expected when I saw the team. Song was solid enough (though it’s alongside Wilshere/Fabregas that he truly sparkles), Miguel had a good debut and Arshavin looked like he really wanted to finish the week with more than 1 goal – but those three aside the rest of the team looked lazy, lethargic and dis-interested. Sagna was solid if unspectacular.

    It’s something that has annoyed me for a while now. Arshavin, Denilson, Chamakh, Bendtner, Rosicky and Almunia are all players with a point to prove, all players who should be pushing for a first team place. Players who should be putting Orient to the fucking sword and giving Wenger a selection headache. Of those players only Arshavin made a claim, looking as revitalised as Wednesdays goal suggested. It irritates me that the rest of those players manage to be so lethargic. Where is the hunger in the fringe squad? The first team is settled and solid, and probably our best 1st XI for a few seasons now. But outside that there are players like Denilson and Bendtner knocking on the door. Players who do not match the hunger and desire of those ahead of them, let alone the skill.

    I’ve picked on Denilson and Bendtner the most because simply, after 5 or 6 years at Arsenal they should be better. They should want to win. They should be showing the spirit and organisation that Orient showed. They should be replaying many years of faith and development by at least looking like they give a shit, not back heeling the fucking ball in our penalty area. I get that players have bad games or dips in form, but as Arshavin has shown, you just have to put your head down and work bloody hard. I’ve stuck by these players through a lot, much to the annoyance of some of you regulars – we’ve had many debates about the quality of Bendtner and Denilson in particular and I have always backed them to shine. I don’t doubt there talent, but I’m beginning to think that until they sort out their fucking attitude they might as well not be here.

    You only have to look at the emergence of Jack Wilshere, a player being groomed to replace Fabregas, who is happy to sit back and do the simple stuff if it means playing. A player that doesn’t shy from 50-50 challenges like Bendtner, a player who is capable of passing the ball out of danger when it’s important, a player with intelligence but most of all, a player with heart, passion and commitment to see the lack of those qualities in the fringe squad. He’s bypassed the lot of them in 18 months since his display in the Emirates cup a while back against Rangers.

    The ‘b’-team lacks leadership, passion and heart. Who was beating the drum, who was shouting, organising, pushing the players? Was the experienced Tom Rosicky doing this? No. Were any of the players? No. The only thing that passed for leadership on that pitch from Arsenal yesterday was Arshavin chasing every ball down like a terrier and for an Arsenal team that is not good enough. I understand that Rosicky is the leader of the fringe players, but he simply didn’t do enough yesterday, so let’s hope he gets some pointers before the replay.

    Still, the extra fixture doesn’t matter too much, as it will mostly be the same players again (so tiredness shouldn’t be an issue), and it gives those players another chance to prove themselves. I’m also trying to work out if the replay will affect the quarter final fixture, as if we progress I think the replay may mean a possible tie against Manchester United will be put back from the same week as the Barca return leg. It may be a blessing if it means we avoid two massive games in 4 days. I’m not sure if that will come off though, time will tell.

  11. @Lanesra

    At least we have a squad big enough to count people as the second eleven. The very reason they are Second right now is because they aren’t playing well enough as the first eleven, for various reasons. Lack of passion is just one. Lack of form, lack of experience, lack of playing time(at least as a team), are all factors. Besides, our squad will change next year. I think it’ll have even more depth. Ramsey (this season also), Lansbury, Coquelin, Frimpong, Bartley, Miquel, Botelho.. All have a chance to come in and contribute. So yes, some players may leave, but it won’t be a knee-jerk reaction.

  12. I dont think Eastmond, Watt, Mannone and Sunu have much chance making the 1st team. Watt has been continually left out by Leeds, which goes for Eastmond at Millwall, Mannone is behind Szcczczczcz and Fabianksi now and Sunu is cutting a lonely figure on the Lorient subs bench. Another small point – That wasn’t Vela’s debut.

  13. Although our second team needs to improve, its fair to suggest its comparatively better than our main rivals second teams, hence the good cup runs this season.

    The recent defeat at Ipswich plus the draws against Leeds and L Orient have given off a false impression of their achievements thus far. Managing two teams is undoubtedly a work in progress, problems will need to be ironed out over time, new players, like Miquel, will be introduced but the evolution process has enormous benefits and potential.

    Lets not forget Arsenals second team dominated the ball on Sunday, I believe the 72% possession to be a new FA cup record for those of us interested in stats. When you dominate in a such a way it makes success a more likely outcome in the long term.

    Of course this whole process will inevitably have its victims, over time certain players will become surplus to requirements in order to allow youth a chance to progress, and whilst I believe the likes of Denilson and Bendtner are young enough to improve and still have something to offer the club, I can also accept they are amongst the ones closest to the exit door.

    The whole process is only in its early stages, over time I firmly believe the two teams will become stronger and more dominant. Beating Barcelona last week was a positive sign of progress for the system, although I strongly believe as good as that result was last week, we are merely at the start of a very exciting period for the Club. Bring it on.

  14. Dear oh dear…

    Tony writes an excellent piece explaining the historic difficulties of away cup ties like these & we get a load of “no passion” etc…..

    We saw MU have a great deal of difficulty with non league Crawley & Notts County put Man City on the rack at Meadow Lane. These teams, particularly those in form like LO (1 defeat in 20) are hard to beat & before AW this was a game we could have lost even with a full 1st team.

    If Song & Denilson had no passion then I don’t know how we managed 72% possession. Our problem was in creativity. To turn Wengerball into goals you need the invention of at least 2 of Arshavin, Diaby, Nasri, Ramsey, Cesc or Wilshire in the team. Rosicky could also be included but his time out of the game has left him too functional now. So only Arshavin was available for this game.

    Even so there were enough opportunities to put the game to bed but it didn’t happen.

    For me I am glad that these players get another chance on a better pitch. A game that I hope to enjoy with a worthy club like Orient getting at least a big pay day & potentially more if we are not focused.

    It is not necessarily a bad thing to keep the games rolling on because focus is often lost after the players get a break.

  15. The only problem I see is you cant just throw players ala man city and expect them to gel and play well, I always thought orient was playing for a replay people say arsenal played badly I watched the game and we looked in control and it was a strike that if the player did it 10 times would be lucky to score twice.

    I thought crawley embarrassed man u and out played them for long spells even with a man u bias official.

    I think we needed to have dropped out of a competitionwe certainly cant give up the carling cup or league and if a one goal advantage against barca I would play a strong team so I would say the fa cup has to go and if I was playing wenger I would field a side full of hungry players with something to prove .

    can the real chamkh please come back

  16. I mentioned it yesterday, but it bears repeating: why can’t we ever just give kudos to the opposition when we draw a match????

    Did we play at our absolute best yesterday? No.

    But the fact that opur 2nd 11, even not playiong at their best, can go to Orient, dominate the match, and almost come away with a win is good, not bad.

    Had Rosicky or Arshavin scored from their 2nd half chances it would have been 2-0 and that probably would have been the final score. We would have been sitting here saying “yep, that was fine”. But those chances didnt go in, Orient scored a cracking equaliser, and suddenly these players “aren’t fit to wear the shirt” again.

    I said it in the comments yesterday, I didnt see ANY lack of motivation, or signs of complacency in our performance yesterday. What I did see was a few players who looked rusty (Chamakh especially, but also Gibbs and Rosicky – despite his goal) and a general lack of cutting edge in the final third of the pitch (which is understandable when we are without RvP, Cesc, Nasri, Wilshire, Walcott). Those saying Song played poorly, remember that he also played poorly when playing without Cesc earlier in the season, when he was forced to play further forward. I dont think that role suits him and we really missed Diaby fulfilling that role (and he will be back for the replay).

    But overall I was pleased. We got a draw and get the replay at home, which we should win. There were no injuries and AW was able to keep all our big guns on the bench the entire match. Squillaci and Miguel looked very solid. Our reserve players got a match and will get another one in 9 days time.

    Name me a team in the world that can play their 2nd 11 and get results away from home?

    I can’t think of one. Even Barca struggle when they are without Messi, Iniesta, Xavi, and the others.

  17. Paul C-thats what i’m tryin to say, we have the strongest 2nd 11 in the world and still do not get the results… And its not even that the team was tired of playing bcoz except for Song, the other hardly played in the barca match. And you cant even say that they are not gettin enough time playin bcoz now we’re playing this 2nd 11 team almost every weak in the cup competitions. And still we need to bring on Fabregas or Nasri or some other 1st team player to make a winning impact. I think the 2nd string players should really start performin now atleast against such weak sides.

  18. Dark Prince

    “we have the strongest 2nd 11 in the world and still do not get the results”

    As far as “results” go we did not lose, in fact we haven’t lost an English Cup tie all season.

  19. Tasos- maybe you’re forgettin that we lost against Ipswich. Also i dont remember us winning any match this season without Cesc or Nasri.

  20. Who said we have a God-given right to win every game? Gooners should know that even the other teams come to play, but that whenever they lose to us, they don’t become hysterical like we do. If you looked at the reaction of the Leyton players after the draw, you would think they’ve won promotion. For me I was happy that we will have another go, but also, that we were able to bring so much joy to some one.
    At the moment, we should be focussing on the most important game in our quest for the EPL, that is, the Stoke game. Should we win, I’m sure Manu could easily lose 2 points against Chelski, then we will surely have come back into the mix. Should we lose then goodbye to the league it will be.

  21. I think the problem comes in the midfield. Our 2nd string midfield is performin very poorly. Thats why even the likes of Chamakh, Bendtner and Arshavin look poor. They simply dont recieve the quality passes from Rosicky and Denilson.

  22. Tasos- yea…if we use more players from the startin 11 then we’ll definately win the ‘tie’. Thats what has been happenin in our cup games, we have to use some players from the startin 11 to win those games. Maybe you’re not getting my point. As Wenger said in his post match press conference- ‘its disappointing’…simply bcoz you need to give the startin 11 players a break.

  23. DP – But again I would ask the question, “what team in the world DOES have a 2nd 11 that can go away from home in a Cup match and win games?”

    I cannot think of one. Your reserves are not supposed to be able to win games. They are there to cover for injuries. The fact that we have a 2nd 11 that can go away from home and get results (a draw is a result) is fantastic.

    I dont know where people get the idea that we should have a reserve side that is better than 98% of the teams out there. Surely if our reserves ever got that good they would go elsewhere to get regular 1st team football.

    I can remember in 1980 when Brian Talbot played 70 games for us in a single season and had a mini-heart attack after the CWC Final. We had such a small squad that he couldnt even take ONE match off all season. That was the way it was until Milan in the 90’s came out with their idea that they were going to have one team for League Football and another for Cup. It almost bankrupted Milan of course, and led to them being unable to rejuvanate their squad in the early 2000’s.

    We have a MASSIVE squad right now, the biggest and best I have ever seen in my lifetime of supporting Arsenal (I mean SQUAD, not first 11). Never before have I seen us able to rotate an entire team without knowing we were going to lose because of it.

    Remember, Wrexham in 1992 beat our 1st team, the defending League Champions. Going away in the Cup has always been, and always will be, tough. That is the “romance of the Cup” in a nutshell. For our 2nd team to be able to handle such a game is absolutely brilliant.

  24. Paul C- i see no difference when we say that our 2nd string can give our starting 11 a break but cant do enough to give them the break that is needed. Such a strong 2nd team but still the replay is an another extra match. And the likes of Cesc, Nasri, Van Persie, Wilshere and/or Walcott will have to train and maybe even participate in that extra match. And the problem is that majority of the above mentioned names are injury prone. If we still have to use the above players to get a win then when will they get the rest they need??

  25. the stoke game is what worries me because we could rack up the injuries

    I think the reason some fans are annoyed is because of the nature of the goal in the last minute we were in complete control and should have seen the game out but hey if this stuff does balance itself out I would rather it in the fa cup then concede a last minute goal in another competition

    every game is so crucial and the players in the second team should be trying to become a regular, they have such an important role like B52 in Carling cup semi,or AA against barca one of these players may just get the winning goal. The only thing I noticed in the fa cup game is that the team didnt play to the strengths of B52 or chamkh

    I dont know if anyone else feels it but there is quite alot of excitement ATM

  26. But why will we need to use those players? I would feel confident that at home the same team we had yesterday (minus Sagna and Song, plus Eboue and Diaby) can handle Orient. We outplayed them for 88 minutes yesterday on a bad pitch so I dont see why at home they shouldnt do the same thing.
    That is especially the case if Chamakh can find some form. To me, his lack of form was the biggest thing we were missing yesterday, rather than Cesc, Nasri, etc.

    Look at the results of our “Carling Cup” team in recent years. Generally it has been win at home and look awesome, lose away and look average (Burnley, City, Spurs etc).

    Going away from home is always tough. Our reserves came back with a draw. Sure we would have all liked to win, but it is hardly a disaster and I think the manager will be most annoyed at the fact that we probably should have won, rather than the display itself. I get the feeling AW was very happy with the actual performance, as I was.

    None of our players should be tired right now. None of them have played excessively this season. The depth of our squad has meant that nobody has been overplayed. I dont see that they should need a rest right now. This is what these guys live for, being in every competition and fighting for trophies.

  27. Paul C- we will need to use those players to confirm that we go through. Wenger would hav used Cesc and Nasri against Leyton if they had equalised earlier. I think we played well but, as usual, our final third play was lackin. We were not clinical with our finishing as well. And outplaying any opponent wont change the fact that we still need to win that match. We outplay 99% of our opponents. It doesn’t mean we won that match.

  28. @DP I agree with you I love the players we have but since eduardo got injured we have missed a clinical finisher arsenal create so many chances,against barca we created so many chances and in all honesty we could have won that game 4-1 but so could barca,its fine lines on another day orient could have been beaten 2-3 nil and sooner or later a team is going to get a hiding from us, every team barring barca changes their tactics against us the result rarely tells the whole story,it’s time to move on. against orient when we got to the final third we should have been whipping in crosses for chamkh and B52, I honestly thought orient were going to tire with all the chasing they must have been incredibly fit or playing on adrenaline.

    I cant believe how far chelsea have faLLen they have done what hull did a few seasons ago started so brightly and imploded in the undermining of every manager they have had since mega bucks stuck his nose in. I would say spurs are better than them at the moment and should pip them into 4th and with liverpool breathing down their necks people should be making more of a story of it than what they are if that was arsenal it would be the biggest disaster in the world

  29. Dark Prince, the midfield can’t perform well if the forwards don’t offer them movement and passing options. Or if the defence doesn’t do their job and win th ball behind them. And the defence can’t do well if the midfield doesn’t protect them and if the forwards don’t do their bit in pressing the opponnts.

    I feel the movement and energy that we saw from Chamakh earlier in the season is missing, and our whole attack is suffering as a result.

    But still, it wasn’t a bad performance at all. We dominated the game and played well enough to win. If we had put away a couple of chances and not made that mistake in the end we’d have won. So the overall performance can’t be faulted too much. You can’t say our tactics or selections were wrong based on this result.
    Just as Barca won’t doubt their style either because that game could’ve gone either way.

    And to everyone who wants to be a player salesman, these games aren’t easy. As Tony said, we’ve seen enough losses to lower league teams in the past to know that upsets are more than just wishful thinking.
    It is ridiculous that people are doubting our workrate and spirit after that performance because we absolutely dominated them. Yes, we’re technically better, but we still need to work hard to win the ball back and run for each other when we do have it.
    You need hard work to play well, there’s no other way about it. And we didn’t just play well, we completely outplayed our opponents.

  30. @JRR and similar idiots
    bendtner was not playing in his favorable position and he still provided the assist. What a bunch of idiot fans we have.

    B52 should have been playing in chamakh’s position. Or at least swapping his position with chamakh.

    Plus where are the crosses???can’t anyone play english game with 2nd team?? chamakh not gonna score from his feet, not in this season at least.

  31. Everyone is talking about the effect of extra matches on us, but what about Orient as well? They have to play Huddersfield this weekend, a promotion chasing side. Then they have a packed March fixture list, with 7 games in 22 days, our replay being the 2nd of those games. They surely dont want this extra game either, except for financial reasons, for their promotion push.

    I just dont think you can overestimate the effect that playing home versus away can have. You also cannot overestimate how much Orient will have put into that game yesterday. Very seldom do you get a 2nd chance when you are a smaller club. Generally you have to take the first chance because the more you play, the more chance quality will prevail (Ipswich and Leeds being examples).

    Now we get them at home, on our perfect pitch, in front of our fans.

    We didnt lose yesterday, that is what matters. There is absolutely nothing to say that our 1st 11 would have done any better. To say otherwise is just speculation. Maybe our 1st 11 would have found the mental letdown so huge after Barca that they would have lost. It happens. Players are human, not robots.

  32. Critic – I also agree that B52 should be given a run in the middle. Perhaps with Diaby and Ramsey back for the replay AW will play them in midfield and move Rosicky wide and drop Chamakh. I love Chamakh but his legs look like they have gone. He looks wasted physically and mentally. He needs a long rest and to work on his strength.

  33. Gooner80- its quite interesting to see that in almost every match we seem to be having many chances but still dont get decent amount of goals. After almost every match, we say say we could have scored 4-5 goals easily. Even with our 1st team, we create a goal scorin chance atleast once every 10 min but still haven’t scored too many goals. Dont know whether its lack of clinical finishing or that our players themselves dont know when the time comes to shoot. Either way we dont convert our chances as well as others.
    As for Chelsea, i believe that it would be the end of the club being a dominant force if they fail to qualify for champions league this season. Because their finances are so on the edge of collapsing. They’re extremly dependent on the champions league for a continuous supply of revenue. If they fail to qualify then i guess there would be a reduction of around £50 mil from their revenue and lots of embarrassment to go with it.

  34. As I am supporter, I always expect my team to win, and I was always angry and desperate when it doesn’t happen, only after day or two I get sober and can think clearly of what I sow.
    Right now, as Tony mentioned, comparing to Manure game, it wasn’t bad at all.
    And it was our misfortune to have two young players who don’t have to many games under belt together (Miquel and Gibbs) who, made mistake, or rather who couldn’t do their job to stop Leyton scoring.
    But when you look at game not paying attention to scoreboard and compare it to Manure we had good game, Leyton wasn’t even dangerous, and Almunia apart from goal could go home have diner with wife.
    So again nothing seriously harmed, except pride. But pride heals faster than anything, just need good game at Wednesday and no one will even remember Leyton till we meet on Emirates.

  35. Waleed- neither am i player salesman nor did i ever say that the tactics or player selection was wrong. I too would hav selected the same startin 11. The problem comes down to players who eventually have to perform. Some are out of form, some are old but either way they should be performin better.

    Also i disagree when you say that our forwards dont provide the movement or tactical positions for the midfielders. Because if the likes of Chamakh, Bendtner or Arshavin were playing in the starting 11, they too will score lots of goals. Simply because the midfield has Cesc who has vision of another world. Even Wilshere has that vision. But the 2nd string midfield lacks that. Thats the reason why Wilshere is chosen over Denilson or Rosicky. Football is normally won or lost in midfield. And that is where our 2nd string struggles. Even our defence would look better if our midfield gets better.

  36. Paul C- i’d care less about Orient’s fixture list or how Orient takes the replay. Lets admit it, we both know that the replay should be an easy win for Arsenal (hopefully), but still we’re increasin our fixtures, its still a risk of injury with that extra game. Plus its a game where some of our starting 11 will have to train for, even if they are on the bench, which means much less time to rest. That is the only thing that is of concern otherwise all other things of a replay at home is advantageous. Lets face it, we’d love to see Arsenal playing all the time, it would be extra match day income plus the 2nd string will get extra match time. But its only those 3-4 players of our starting 11 who will have less of resting time, which is of concern. And this would not have been a problem if this was an odd replay of the season. But we’re having more than enough replays now. Some of our starting 11 players have been playing every 3 days since december. Its very risky path.

  37. As Paul has said, we have to give credit not just to Orient, but to all the lower league sides who have given top Premier League teams a game and made this season’s FA Cup one of the most exciting I can remember.

    We’ve seen five teams from League One or lower go up against Man Utd, Man City and Arsenal – two of them earned replays while the other three lost by just one goal. And it’s been great!

    Maybe it’s just a one off, but it seems like the standard of lower league football has made a huge improvement. In all these David vs Goliath games we’ve seen the little teams be mentally very strong and play without fear, they were tactically astute and well organised, in great physical condition and could maintain their intensity for 90 minutes, and most impressively of all they tried to get the ball down and play.

  38. I feel the criticism of Wenger for not using the bench on Sunday is a little unfair and stems a bit from that old friend, HINDSIGHT. At no stage in the last quarter of the game, did Orient really look like scoring and the need to shore up our team just didn’t appear necessary. If we had finished 1-0 up, he would have been praised as being astute for being able to rest his stars.

  39. Now some fans call for a “clear out” of some players from the second string, while calling for replacement by players on loan. Then as soon as those play to a draw in a match, there will be calls for another “clear out”?

    It seems some Arsenal fans lose perspective any time we do not win a match they believe we should win. Suddenly AW goes from a genius to a villain all in a space of 3 days. How about giving some credit to LO?

    I guess Liverpool losing to Northampton, ManC needing a replay against Notts. CO, or ManU struggling against Crawley should have resulted in their fans burning down the barn.

    I believe that Denilson/Rosicky/Almunia being on the squad can be traced to the fact that the boss did not think Frimpong/Ramsey/Coquelin/Sczezny/Lansbury were ready(or injured). I expect some changes in the off-season.

  40. the player salesman jibe wasn’t directed at you Dark Prince.

    Football is not won and lost in midfield. The midfield is important if you want to control the game. In other words, if you win the midfield battle you will have more possession and you can push your opponent onto the back foot.

    But we’ve been beaten enough times against counter attacking teams to know that controlling a game doesn’t mean anything if you can’t take advantage.

    And that’s what happened to us.

    In terms of controlling the game, our midfield did really well. And you’re right that we lack the creativity that Cesc and Wilshere give us but Rosicky is no slouch. And neither are Song and denilson, especially against lower league sides.

    It’s just difficult to break down a physical side playing at home and parking the bus. Ask Barcelona. Yet we succeeded in doing just that on more than one occassion.
    If Arshavin’s shot had gone in off the woodwork, or Chamakh hadn’t miscued that sitter, we’d have won the game comfortably.

    So I think our overall performance was pretty good.

    Anyway, going back to the midfield, they can’t perform well if the defenders behind them don’t do their job. For example if the defence isn’t winning the high balls, the midfielders have to drop back and play as defenders.

    And the midfielders need someone to pass to to create chances. And while Arshavin and Bendtner were busy, Chamakh isn’t offering enough. He’s been too static lately and too easy to deal with.

    So I think it was a mixture of our midfield being below par but also Chamakh not playing at his best. And of course you can factor in the difficulties of playing away from home against a parked bus on a bumpy pitch.
    Still our performance was pretty good, so I’ll give the team credit for earning a replay.

  41. I too think we played well. We’re just not clinical enough. Our final third passing too was off the mark sometimes. Chamakh had an off day but i cant fault our defenders. Sagna had a good game. Squillaci and Miquel were decent enough except for that goal. Gibbs was perhaps a weak link being out of position quite a few times. But he was helping in the attacks as well. I think it was a weak performance collectively. All individual players were decent, but as a team it was not clicking. And when on occasions it clicked, the finishing was poor. Overall i dont mind the replay, its just the fixture pile up which i’m worried about. Song playd the game against barca n started ystrday and we could see the effects of not resting. Certainly either of Cesc or Nasri wil be played in the replay. Thats certainly goin to effect their effectiveness in between like we saw for Song. Thats the only concern i have.

  42. Byo: The Prof IS a genius. Not only because of what he’s done for our Club but because he has almost single-handedly changed the sport to young super-fit technically-gifted players with open, attacking skillful football that thrills all serious admirers of the game. But that does not mean I have to agree with him always or list excuses for poor performances. He made no excuses and he was honest in praising LO’s commitment for 90 minutes. I do think several players on that pitch at LO have often had their chances but are not at a standard our Club expects. Most of all they lack passion. So, I hope some can be shipped out. On the other hand, I sneakingly hope the same 11 are in the rplay and prove me wrong!

  43. buxcey , Tasos and Lanesra

    I havent read as much drivel and stupid comments from 3 people in a long long time. Have any of you ever tried playing a sport at professional level and not play regularly ? I have and it cant be done you either play all the time or form goes right out the window.

    You 3 want to sell on good players for a few below par performances and Wenger has got it as wrong against Orient as he has right against Barca.
    Thank god you 3 dont run Arsenal and we have someone who knows what he is doing. Clowns isnt the word.

  44. @ Gooner80 said it above: we can’t expect to put 11 players on the pitch and expect them to beat a team that plays together all the time – even if like LO they play in a division well below us…the fact is Orient play together all the time and we don’t. Simple! I thought that the team was very comfortable for 80 minutes of the game on Sunday. My one criticism is that they became “enchanted with their own possession football” which is what Marca accused Barca of doing in their CL defeat against us! During the game I kept saying to myself: what is the point of this play? We seem satisfied to just play keep-ball – which is all very well – but unless there’s a point to it strategically then its just a waste of energy. I will give an example: we kept passing the ball between the back four but our front three were not changing position at all. They were static with the possible exception B52. Passing between the back four as a tactic only works when everyone ahead is mobile. That way a team hope to drag the opponents out of shape and sew confusion among them. Orient just had to sit back and hold their shape because at the end of all the passing back & forth we’d hit a pass to the same two players: Arshavin and B52. Every other Arsenal player kept inside their same channels. We nearly pulled it off but fell to the quick feet of their substitute. I said before that I believe that the maximum number of changes we seem to be able to get away with and any given time is five (5)…our second string needs more playing time together that’s obvious. But putting them together just for cup games is very risky. Why can’t we give them a few games as a team in the Reserves?

  45. @gt
    hmmm……….quite an idea on 2nd string playing more as reserves. I don’t know. More knowledgeable persons might give a good answers here.

  46. GoonerTerry – I think the reason these guys dont play in the reserves together is because the risk of injury overweighs the benefits they would get in terms of fitness. There is a massive gap between reserve team football and even Championship level football. I dont know if I’d even put reserve team football at Division 1 level.

    I also think we did “get away” with making 10 changes. We drew. Had we lost you could say we didnt get away with it. But an away draw in the Cup is indeed getting away with it.

    I think what we have seen this year develop is the clear distinction between 1st team players and those who are not at that level. As well as our normal 1st teamers who played against Barca you would add Sagna obviously, Vermaelen (when fit), Fabianski (when fit), Arshavin, Diaby, Ramsey (once back to 100%), Gibbs, Bendtner, and Chamakh (on decent form, not the way he played Sunday). Miquel is one for the future. So based on the team against Orient the ones who seem to be going further and further from the 1st team rotation are Denilson, Squillaci, Rosicky, and Almunia. That isnt surprising, and echoes what most of us have been saying.

    I would imagine Almunia will be gone in the summer, but for now having him as back-up is essential. It isnt surprising that two of the others played midfield yesterday, where as others have said we lacked incision and dynamism (of the sort Diaby and Ramsey would provide).

  47. Good article Tony. I have a feeling (I think I read it somewhere but can’t remember where) that Ramsey was injured so he could not play.

    I think two best comments I have read about the draw in blogs were : “Arsenal helps economically Lower league teams, they get good money from replay and we can get money for paying our loans” and “As there are fans who love to moan about our player and manager team now gave them chance to do it”. (last one was the idea from Arseblog I think).

  48. Ugandan thanks for the links. I think the Ryo video proves that he really can be a great player. And yes he loses the ball every now and then but which player doesnt? I would love to see him running on our left flank like that. Can you imagine Theo on the right and Ryo in a few years on the left? Oops, off to change my pants. 😉

    I think this combination would give many defenders nightmares….

  49. ‘ walter
    teams are just going to park the bus, it is going to be standard practice when you play arsenal all 11 plyaers stay in the goalkeepers area and just keep kicking the ball out, offside is going to become extinct against arsenal!

  50. ryo didn’t have a good game against den haag by all accounts and he was a victim of quiet a few niggly tackles, but he kept that whole wing quiet.
    as for coquelin, i like his fighting spirit and his growth , most people remember him a sthe 16 year ld but just look at the pure athleticism he brings to the game and i think he has acouple of inches to grow yet, a leaner meaner flamini in the making.

  51. A good club PR article:

    1. It’s quite possible that Ramsay didn’t play against Forest because he had been on loan for them earlier and there was a gentleman’s agreement. Or there may be some rules which stop him. I don’t know.
    2. You can’t run an article a few days ago implying that quite a lot of the youngsters won’t make it at Arsenal (names were after all freely mentioned in that analysis) and then go on about how wonderful it is that Arsenal have them. Make your mind up whether Lansbury, Watt, Eastmond, JET, Vela et al have a future at Arsenal and then, and only then, extol their virtues in articles about how wonderful Arsenal’s squad is. You look like damn fools, particularly when you rant about Arsenal Haters twisting their stories at will……..
    3. Vieira scored two goals for City because he’s an unusually good player still playing at a reasonable standard despite his legs being shot for the highest of high levels. He left Arsenal 6 years ago, so you sound like a groupie with no meaning to life trying to claim credit for that. It’s pathetic.
    4. Ignasi Miquel is one for the future. He’s not proven, in any way, that he’s ready for the EPL this season. I repeat what I wrote on this site yesterday: do NOT, repeat DO NOT, try to say that Miquel is the reason Wenger didn’t buy a defender. Wenger didn’t buy a defender because he wouldn’t get his cheque book out, which means the finances are more important than tilting the odds in his favour to win the title. That’s a reasonable position for a manager to take, but that’s the position he took. If you think Miquel will win Arsenal the title this season, you say so. I’m sure Wayne Rooney will be looking forward to locking horns with him……..and I’ll be the first to cheer if I’m proven wrong on that one………..
    5. Bentley left Arsenal because he wanted to play football and he told Wenger he could see players ahead of him who he couldn’t better, notably Pires. He behaved completely properly in his departure and for you to imply otherwise is a slander you should be pubnished for. Withdraw that comment or I will report you to Arsenal FC for conduct prejudicial to the good reputation of the club………….please return to the public comments of Arsene Wenger about that transfer and publicly brand him a liar. I’m looking forward to you printing that….because either you must withdraw this comment or your Lord Wenger is a liar………your choice, mate………

  52. One more thing: I didn’t see you extolling the skills of Ashley Cole from the penalty spot.

    As a former Arsenal player, I’m sure you must have been gutted for him……….

  53. Critic – seems a bit immature to call a gooner fan an idiot because they express a view that is different to yours. But maybe its a cultural thing.

    I like Bendtner a lot but I do wonder if he is going to get enough firsst team football with us.

  54. Rambo did not play because he had a thigh injury. ANd if you read the Cardiff City blogs they are desperate for him to staay lonnger and have rated him at 8 for the last couple of games.

    They are not so kind about JET – say he is slow and has a bad attitude.

  55. @Rhys Ramsay was reported doubtful for the game with a leg injury on Friday with a test scheduled for the following day. Obviously he wasn’t fit.

    I’d agree that Miquel is probably not yet ready for the big time game though with the little had to do on Sunday, he did it very coolly, calmly and collectedly…and that 50 odd yard pass made me purr with contentment. As for their equaliser, I suspect that many better players may have been caught out by that bit of Messi-anic skill.

  56. @ Rhys, I love the way you are trying to be pathetic and the fact that you don’t read bitween the lines, obviously not a usual reader of the great Untold Arsenal.

    I am pretty sure Tony would agree more with most of you say as an external reader and so do I.

    Indeed Miquel is not ready, just 18, one game in hand, who could say he his ready to fire with big guns?

    Also do you really think you can compare the Cashley story of the departure of Vieira or Pires? comon, get back to earth, I hailed Vieira this week end for his 2 goals, he has been our great captain and help arsenal to achieve things, what cashley have done for arsenal but to give headaches to us

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