Our failure this coming season?

By Rob Lackey
So Arsenal are dammed to finish outside the top 4 and we should not have wasted our time and money on youngsters like AOC, Miyachi, Jenkinson, and the pursuit of Campbell – when we should have been pursuing the worlds best established players.  Add to that a dire pre-season and it’s clearly time for Arsene to go.  I think that just about sums up the media and anti Wenger feeling right now.

In view of the above every Arsenal fan should be concerned, or should they?

Lets take the emotion out of this debate and deal with just the facts:

1) Arsenal are certain to finish outside the top 4.

This is the view of nearly every pundit.  Now the thing with pundits is that they are not actually held to account for their views – no one says at the end of the season “You called it totally wrong, you’re fired”, the same goes for fans.

In fact if you want to get a professional opinion that is accountable then you need look no further than the bookies – people who if they get it wrong are fired, and who look for factual and statistical sources to design their risk models.  You’d think that from the opinions expressed all over the media that the bookies would be rating Arsenal as outsiders to the top 4 so is that the case?

Looking at Statto.com, which shows the odds from the top bookmakers on Premier League top 4 finishers, not one bookmaker gives better odds on Liverpool beating Arsenal to that spot;  and that is without any new signings:


I’m not saying that the bookies are always right, but they are the majority of the time, and it is exactly their business to get it right – making money is not partizan, no friendships of managers are taken into account, no one is trying to sell newsprint – it is pure business.  So I think we can safely debunk that one.

2) Arsene should not waste his time chasing youngsters when we need established players.

First of all it’s not just Arsene – there is a huge network of people involved, in addition we as humans can multi-task – so the pursuit of young talent is not hampering buying established players.

Why buy the young talent? Simple – the world of football has changed; 10 years ago you had to worry about United, Barcalona, Real and Milan when you were trying to attract new talent.  Now in addition you have the billionaire’s club – PSG, Malaga, City, Chelsea and a whole host of Ukrainian and Russian owned clubs – all with money to burn and very deep pockets.  If this trend continues then anyone with a modicum of talent is going to be extortionate, and every time we go in for a player the selling club is going to let the other clubs know to drive up the price.  The only way to survive is to buy or develop young and tie into long contracts.

Regarding buying established players, there isn’t some mythical player supermarket where you can just wander through and drop a couple of world class centre backs in your trolley – there are very few world class centre backs in the world – and Cahill and Samba are not proven at this level, especially with an attacking club that is always pushing forward.  You have to find the player, persuade the club and the player, then fight off the overtures of all the clubs with deep pockets.

I’ll leave you to make up your mind on this point – I’m not trying to tell you how to think, but as a long haul supporter I’m going with the club doing the right thing here.

3) Dire pre-season.

Does it matter? We lost one game.  It matters to me as a supporter that we did not thump New York or Benfica at the time, but after the season has started it’s soon forgotten.

The clue is in the name – Pre-season.  It’s preparation, a time for learning – for making the mistakes before the consequence id 3 dropped points.  And what have we learnt?  The first team or combinations there of look good, and there appear to be some good surprises in Frimpong, Gervinho, Miyachi, and Traore not being as bad as we may have thought.  However, there are some issues when we put some of the B team on the pitch – losses of concentration and some howlers – something that cost us dearly last year when we were down to the bare bones – but how many points has this lost us this season? None.

The Guardian compiled a good article on the correlation of pre-season form and actual league success which can be found here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/aug/05/pre-season-form-premier-league which shows that in our Invincible season we actually drew at Celtic, Barnet and the giants of SC Rizing, and lost to Peterborough and United in the Charity Shield.  We added a very young Clichy and Lehmann that summer.

So what can we tell from this? Firstly that pre-season is no guide to our future performance and that there are issues, and we can only really judge if quality is not added in certain areas before the end of the transfer window – so juries out for the moment, but not the end of the world.


So where are we then? The bookies feel that we are going to be at least odds on for a champions league spot, with only United and 2 Billionaire clubs potentially above us that we could not hope to outspend and may have to take the long game into consideration.  Care is being taken to make sure that we will continue to challenge in the future and fingers crossed for another addition or two before the end of the window & pre-season form is irrelevant.

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29 Replies to “Our failure this coming season?”

  1. What you fail to realise it that once these young and very talented players reach an age where they are experienced enough to start winning things, they will leave.

    Couple this with the fact that they are coming into a side without any established world class players to help them through, they are under far too much pressure.

    Look at our successful sides, world class players playing at their peak.

  2. people should take it easy on wenger he has his philosophy and that is what he is trying to potray ther is a saying that “you should cut your cloth according to your size and that is what he is doing “this is not the first time,wenger has being doing this all his life ever before he came to arsenal right from his time at monaco he went to africa and discovered teenagers like george weah and victor ikpeba the former later became world footballer of the year which he dedicated to wenger,credit must be given to this man,during his time at arsenal he brought players like anelka who became epl top scorer @18 he brouht patrick veira, ashley cole kolo tnure,etame mayer,fabregas,flamini,robert,pires,gilberto silver,henry,i can go on and on all this he brought as teenagers.yes for the past 7xrs wenger has not won any major trophy but that shuold be down to luck.

  3. @goonergaz Our sucessful sides must include George Grahams then,I seem to remember him blooding alot of youngsters there, Adams and Rocky amongst others . Great Post Rob

  4. Fully agree!
    We cant compete with these teams financially. Wenger has been keeping us in the top four for so many years thanks to his instict and the youth.
    At some point it will all click together..

    I think for this whole issue Fabregas (As a captain) is to blame. He has not allowed the team to focus for the last 2 years.

    Hopefully with him gone, things should be better to us.

  5. The ONLY way a club that does not pay big for established stars can win things is to bring young players on,these things are cyclical and for every Fabregas there are many failures Arsenal if continuing to persue this tack will need a very good crop of youngsters to emerge and in this day and age with all the top sides looking for the 14 year old star that will be very difficult.So title winning sides will be rare.

  6. Come-on guys. We have another 16 days before transfer window end. Please don’t make any conclusion that Arsenal will finish outside the top 4. Believed me, we will have a replacement for Cesc , Nasri and also additional 1 centre back . As per now, we just wait for a good news.

    Every club will have their second string so go to Arsenal, we need this talented news face like Miyachi, Jenkinson, Campbell and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, they will represent future Arsenal. Just imagine all this player turn to be good as Cesc or more. Please NOT to compare Arsenal like M City, Chelsea, Malaga and PSG, they own by Middle or Russian oil tycoon. We just Arsenal, we spend what we have. Even Arsenal own by American Sport tycoon – sorry he have NO money to spend.

    Finally, I still think Arsenal can finish top 4 or even EPL winner if we signed a correct players.

  7. nice to put this in a bit or perspective.

    even the result on saturday was not too bad although i would have loved a win.

    a point away at newcastle and down to 10 men… not the end of the world especially when we have jack to add some creativity, and new players to gel with the team. Gervinho had the chances to make a difference yesterday, and once he builds up the connection with van persie etc. we will be very good.

  8. David O’ Leary is available for work having just returned from Dubai and collected his P45.

  9. Well put Rob – as I start my 41st year as a fan , I beleive that AW will set us right and cups (and bragging rights )are just around the corner .Up the Gunners !

  10. Don’t underestimate the significance of losing Cesc. The performance against Newcastle was solid but we lacked any threat and we’ll continue this way unless a sensational playmaker is signed to replace Cesc. Wilshere is good but he’s a different type of player, he can’t be relied upon to create 3 or 4 good chances for his forwards in every game. Very few players in the world can.

  11. People forget that we also make money on a lot of these youngsters as well! There is a steady income stream from the youngsters who do not necessarily make it at Arsenal; overall I suspect that the youth project at the very least breaks even, if not actually profitable.

  12. After sale of cesc fabregase arsenal no longer claim to be a big club.

    I am afraid, rvp, theo, song and others might be next to move on. RVP specifically said while signing his previous contract at arsenal that it’s not money but club ambition that matters to him.

    It’s the 1st time arsene has let me down as i can’t speak of others.

  13. Critic,
    I think it is very clear that AW is the biggest victim of Cesc leaving. All the time AW has put in to Cesc has been flushed away.
    The sentence: You too, Cesc will have come to his mind I think.

    Sorry, but the only one to blame is Cesc. Signing a contract for many years and then wanting out and only to Barcelona which forced us to be satisfied with a very low amount of money is the worst thing he could have done to Arsenal and in particular to Arsene.

    I feel let down by Cesc and I admit that I thought he had more class than he has shown in the last weeks. Class as a human being that is. Oh well at the end they are all the same I guess.

  14. “….and Cahill and Samba are not proven at this level, especially with an attacking club that is always pushing forward.” Really? That’s pure denial. We even bought Squillaci, Denilson, Diaby and co, let alone these EPL proven players. Plus why would Wenger bid for Samba last January? Obviously Wenger rates him, he just doesn’t want to pay the money. These two players are top performers for their respective clubs and would only add quality to our teams if they were to come. I don’t buy into the media crap about Arsenal, but at the same time what you are saying is bias, backed with no fact.

  15. All,
    Moving beyond shell-shock, let’s try to open this up. Out of passionate curiousity and desire to know, I honestly and without accusations ask: Do we now accept that there was NO actual tippy-tapping by Barcelona players and/or management? And, if you think that there had been, why hadn’t AFC filed loud and formal charges against Barfa? Why do you think that those, if any, in AFC management/board/legal, voted not to file or go public would have prevailed over those in AFC management, if any, wanted not to file a formal charge or go massively public with that complaint? Why are we not discussing this point?

  16. @bob

    Why Arsenal wouldn’t have filed a complaint against Barcelona for tapping up is a) because the punishment is no more than a mild little pat on the wrist, and b) because as far as I know, there is no provision for punishing only the other club and not the player involved. The ‘fact’ that we are receiving payment from Cesc’s loyalty bonus, is probably the only admission of tapping up taking place. Why we wouldn’t go public? Because we never do.

    Why am I not discussing it? Because it’s meaningless. Cesc is gone. Cesc and Barca can eff off and it is time for us to move on and concentrate on our rebuilding. That is what we need to do now. Strengthen our team, and forget about the ones who are gone.

  17. Walter,
    I concur with your feelings, but I haven’t feel Cesc had more class. Rather, over two years Cesc never publicly told his playmates at Barca to shut up. To me this has long been a sign that he was on board with it. And all the boys will be boys excuses made for them does not explain away Cesc’s failure to publicly ask or demand in a big, visible way, that they stop those activities. Not for two years. Perhaps, he wouldn’t risk that by doing so they might not lobby for him or might not like him in the future enough to finally want him back. I could understand that in human terms. But I can also understand why I feel so angry – not betrayed – that he has played this passive aggressive game of saying nothing and letting others do the dirty work whilst staying Mr. Clean. He has not been Mr. Clean, no matter how we’ve liked to romanticize his “difficult position.” And he has at least had the honesty not to be a proper hands-on Captain because his heart wasn’t in it. However, that is not honest enough. Real honesty would have been to surrender the Captaincy and played on. I also think, and can’t know, that the tensions and pressures of his situation manifested themselves in the chronic hamstring problems that have taken him so often from the pitch. If he continues to have them at Barfa, he will pay a karmic price. If he doesn’t have them at Barfa, then he will show that, with the tensions and conflict now over, he has returned to good and sustainable health. Time will tell. It will also heal our wounds. But, as his stupid unconscious backpass at Camp Nous will also display, time also wounds all heels. (Sorry, couldn’t risk that last insane pun, but felt it expresses my crazy rage in a maddening situation.) Btw, I don’t feel betrayed by Cesc because I have felt that for the last two years he was clearly wanting out and acting upon it in the above way. All this said, there is a great story to be told here if anyone with inside knowledge could get at its full complexity and shed the necessary light. Anyway, I appreciate Cesc’s protean talents, but shudder when I consider the lasting power of his example for ANY of our young stars when they too reach their world class form and realize it’s their time to do a Cesc. Kerching. First bitter, yes, I admit it. But then better. Go Gunners!

  18. Shard,
    It matters for morale, self-pride, not inviting another such Cesc for the future, and showing we will fight it symbolically if nothing else and stand up for ourselves and our fans. You don’t feel that way. Fair play. I won’t get into a pissing contest about the proper way to heal. To each his own way to heal and get on with it. But getting over the past and moving on is a process. I don’t snap to a command that says this is now over, let’s get on with it. No. I say let’s get on with it but let’s learn a lesson or two or three that goes beyond stoicism and rah-rah, turn the page. To each his own, but let’s learn something.

  19. bob

    I gave no ‘command’.. I did say it was about ME and why I don’t discuss it.

  20. I guess you’re making excuses again…

    The problem with Wenger is not that he doesn’t spend money, its the problem that we dont buy players who are at their peak, who can really improve the quality of our starting 11. For eg, a signing like Vermaelen…clearly reachin his peak, but how many of our signings as like that?? Unfortunately we also bought some players who were past their peak,for eg Squillaci and Arshavin….

    Eventually we’re missin out on our present….

  21. Cesc’s gone..yeah. He’s pushed a move through ..yeah. Like a lot of other footballers. At least he did not talk trash about the club..at any time, which is more than a lot of others.

    I do believe he did love the club though and gave a lot for AFC. He doesn’t deserve legend status in my eyes for sure – but I do think he should be welcomed any time he visits Arsenal. I just hope some people at the stadium do not boo him (apart from during the game) when the inevitable happens…and we get drawn against Barca some day.

    He’s human..he was caught between a rock and a hard place. AW understood that and that is all matters to me. I have no intention of tarnishing memories of all that Cesc gave us. So yeah… legend? No. Great player fondly remembered? Hell yes. Peace.

  22. Shard,
    I wasn’t meaning it was Your command. I was being rhetorical right there, so very sorry on that account. Still we disagree on our respective ways of moving forward, even as we agree that move forward we must. So, onward in any case…

  23. I’ll take the positives from this match, defensively we were very sound, at the beginning of the match we were cutting them open at will. It seems unfortunately that our front three were all a bit rusty and clearly need more game time to work on their understanding.
    Another positive is that although Cesc and Ramsey have similar attributes (vision/passing) Cesc likes to get into the hole between midfield and attack whereas Ramsey sits deeper. In offence this gives him more time on the ball and in defence it means he doesn’t have to chase play to get involved in blocking midfield.
    It’s going to be…interesting.

  24. bob

    No worries. I for my part, didn’t mean to snap.. I’m just a little high strung today, as I suppose we all are. You are right that some lessons might need to be learnt from this. But what? Without knowing what exactly transpired in this whole sorry, messy, unfortunate affair, how will WE know what lessons are to be learnt. And though I can see your point, I guess the main obstacle to that for me is that it just hurts to much to go over it all again. We’ll just have to see how the club respond to this development. We do need some improving the squad if we are to challenge for the title. Realistically speaking.

  25. Thanks for all going easy on me, and thanks Tony for publishing.
    @Dave I would take issue that Cahill and Samba are proven at Arsenal’s level, they both play for teams that defend very strongly in numbers and aren’t known for their attacking flair and not used to being exposed, however I’m not saying that they can’t make the step up – but until we see either keep Messi in their pocket like Kos in the home leg then they’ll be questions. Are they less of a risk than Squillaci? he did come with 21 French caps.

  26. I agree that we seem to be developing players and losing out when they hit a point where we could really start to expect results. however, i think that wenger has made a small change in his transfer dealings recently.

    jenkinson, AOC, promoting gibbs, continued faith in walcott, and what looks like promoting ramsey and wilshere to be out starting central midfeild duo.

    This gives our club a more brittish look. as ive said here many times, i dont care about nationality but, in a couple years when these guys ‘come of age’ i dont think any of them will be ‘pulling a cesc, hleb, flamini, adebayor, nasri….sigh….etc etc’.

    so for those of you saying that cesc et al leaving is wengers fault. i think wenger has realized there might be a problem there and gone about fixing it. hes working in every way to make arsenal the best, so lets not forget that arsene knows best!

  27. Thanks, Shard. The x-Cesc really feels painful and I think we can share that hurt openly, and re-commit as we go on. Cheers.

  28. I think cesc and nasri have not been able to win a cup for arsenal in previous years. Now when they were able to do so they left the club with misery. so it is time wasting to discuss them.
    Arsene should make blend of experience and teen to run the club at its best. With completely young blood players, we might not be able to grab a place even in top 6 (draw once again against a 3rd rated team Newcastle).
    Hope aresen would be in better position to decide…

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