The battle of the consumate keepers. Arsenal v Swansea, as Gazidis steps up

By Billy the Dog McGraw

“Arsenal’s draw with Everton on Wednesday was probably the best game of the week – real end-to-end stuff with both sides attacking – and I don’t think the Gunners have too many problems, save for some moaning from their fans.”

Thus spake Mark Lawrenson.


I don’t if I have ever quoted him before.  But he’s an interesting fellow, in some ways, being one of those who played in the first ever team of non-British players to play an FA Cup final (its a bit of a trick question, since Lawrenson sounds English but played for Ireland).

It is interesting that he puts Arsenal down for a 2-0 win since, at least according to  Dennis Bergkamp whom I met as usual this morning on his turnip allotment in Enfield.  Dennis told me that in this game we have the top two keepers in terms of saves to shot ratio.  Gerhard Tremmel is top with 85% and Wojciech Szczesnyyynshcns Wojciech has 81%.

Swansea have Michu playing up front probably, and they have Wayne Routledge, Nathan Dyer and Pablo Hernandez all of whom played against the highly-tipped to win the league WBA.  I use the phrase “highly tipped” in its journalistic meaning.

So we have the usual run of injuries.  Bacary Sagna has hurt his foot, Theo has hurt his ankle (although if he plays it will be match 100) and Lukas Podolski has a cold or something.   Laurent Koscielny has a thigh strain and will be out for 3 weeks or the rest of the season depending on how it goes.

Dennis’ main point is that we have won three of the last nine at home, which is perhaps why going to the Arsenal is losing its edge, falling off the ledge, heading in a downward spiral, or just about to shoot upwards like a coiled rabbit on heat.

But I always enjoy chatting to Dennis.  It’s the match that is getting me down.  But at least the “no trophies since 1832”  call has been changed to “worst start to a season since Wenger joined the club in 1417 when we lost the first seven before going on to win the War of the Elm Trees.

In the 11 previous games we have won six, Swansea four, of which one was on our ground in Feb 1982.  Swansea are unbeaten in their last five and normally score first, so that gives us all an extra half hour to try and get food or drink out of the utterly untrained staff in the bars around the ground before taking up a seat.

The second half is normally important for us given that we normally score more goals than any other team on the pitch at the time, and let in none in the last quarter of an hour.  But we have won the last five games that Mark Clattenburg has been ref.


Sagna A big f’ing German Vermaelen Giggs

Artetta Wilshere


Walcott Giroud Podolski


On the beach some of these, but just look at the name at the end of the list: Mannone, Gnabry, Chamberlain, Ramsey, Djourou, Coquelin, Arshavin, Jenkinson, Miquel, Yennaris, Rosicky

Or, put another way


Jenkinson Mertesacker Vermaelen Gibbs

Arteta Ramsey


Walcott Podolski Giroud

Well you never quite know do you.

But one thing I do know is that this bit of information is of huge significance

Ivan Gazidis has been appointed as the representative on UEFA’s primary policy-making body – the UEFA professional strategy council – by the European Club Association  That means the man who listened to me when I said, “we need a statue of Chapman outside the ground” will also take up a seat on the ECA executive board.

The ECA represents Europe’s top 207 teams, including 10 English teams.  If ever there was a statement that Financial Fair Play is really on the agenda big time with proper penalties for the transgressors is the fact that Mr G is on the UEFA professional strategy council.

Change is afoot.

Or in the case of Adebayor, afeet.


The books…

The sites…




34 Replies to “The battle of the consumate keepers. Arsenal v Swansea, as Gazidis steps up”

  1. Billy, as ever a good read and your last point about Gazidis will (hopefully) bear fruit in the not too distant future. I had ‘clocked’ the appointment but not attributed that degree of significance to it so I hope both you and Dennis are right about it. Should be a good game this afternoon and I for one am looking forward to it. COYG. Two one to us I think with good goalkeeping at both ends keeping the score down.

  2. Alas, some of those beach loungers are suffering from too much sun. Gnabry, Miquel, and Yennaris are out with injuries.
    Next time you chat with DB, ask him if he thinks the other DB, who has apparently got a desire to play in the CL, is angling for a job with the club supports?

  3. Agree with Gazidis appointment, and that UEFA are serious about cleaning up their competitions at least.

    I thought it was the battle of the yew trees anyway. I do agree with the latest move by BSM (British school of mockery)to get professional footballers to once again take up archery I believe Chelsea Vs Manchester united would be much more entertaining if all 22 players were armed with a longbow and a bag of Bodkin arrows.

    I really would pay handsomely to watch that.

  4. Adam, yes that would be something, I always preferred the crossbow, the medieval equivalent of a sniper rifle rather than the longbow which needed to be massed for maximum effect and then became like a machine gun. I’m not sure if the ancient law requiring all able bodied males to undergo archery practice every week has actually been revoked, I’m sure by now it has. He ho!

  5. The commentators say ‘boos around the Emirates at the end of the first half’ – the insinuation is that they are booing the team. Maybe they were booing the lack of extra time at a moment when Arsenal were pressing Swansea in attack. This is just one example of the absolutely disgusting attempt by the commentators to dicate to the viewers in regards to what is happening on the pitch.

    I think the media spin term would sound something like ‘setting the narrative’, etc. The referee is not doing us any favours either.

    But the boys are looking better and better with each game playing together and the counter-attacks in particular are very dangerous.

  6. …sad to hear the boo-ing as they go in for half -time, doesnt exactly do much to boost an already under-confident team. Sure hope we win this…

  7. @Kenneth

    Were the boos for the players or the referee? I thought it was directed towards the referee.

  8. we know who the boos are for now. What a nightmare the aftermath of this game is going to cause…

  9. “The boys are looking better and better” so says Sav from Australia.What a joke.Ivan should stop thinking about his career at UEFA and start thinking about the dross on the pitch;funny,he will be a representative next season of a club not even in Europe HA HA.Wonder if they have representatives from Championship clubs on UEFAs committee? I do believe there are half a dozen clubs above Arsenal in the table with a fraction of Wengers budget,whats your excuse for this?

  10. That was a terrible performance. One of the few instances the cliche ‘No desire!’ can be aptly used. We barely turned up for 15 mins. The rest of the time we were content to drift through the game. The boo boys will get louder (believing they are helping) but this is absolutely the time to buckle down and get behind the team.

    The anger about 7 years is stupid in my view. It disregards the entire scenario as well as specific instances as to why we didn’t win a trophy. Most of those calling for the managers head because we don’t look like getting in the top 4 are also the same ones who have been saying that 4th doesn’t mean anything? Double standards?

    The club absolutely have to spend some money in January now. Even to the extent of taking some extra debt on board if needs be and Wenger feels we need more funds. We need to tie down some players to new contracts (although I think Theo is gone) and we need some new players in the transfer window. The constant flux in the team has really really harmed us. Selling Song is looking like an increasingly poor decision now, whoever sanctioned it under whatever circumstances. This is the storm. It’s hit. It could get worse, but if we don’t want it to, we’d all better get behind this team (and they better show us more too) and fight till the very end to make 4th. We barely did last season. We’ll have a huge fight this.

  11. I agree Shard about the selling of Song,and the other comments you made,good observations… you’re this is a time we need to get behind the team and the manager, they must be feeling pretty low tonight. Both Walcott and Poldi were poor today, felt a bit sorry fro Jenko at the end. Since after the West Ham game everything seems to be such a struggle. Who would want the managers job at the moment, perhaps not even Wenger!

  12. Boos were for the referee?

    Carry on the denial. There’s no more angst, just resignation to karma. All the lies and profit-driven objectives with little respect for the time and hard-earn $ fans put into their beloved club. What’s frustrating is that it will not hit the key person(s) responsible. They will still pocket the money and fuck off when their time is up. Its akin to the Sino syndrome… loving your country and absolutely detesting the authorities.

    And btw, We were lucky to be hit with 2. It could be 4 or 5.

  13. @Kenneth Widmerpool, We have been poor all season. We have won only 3 of the last 10 games, taking 12 out of a possible 30 points. We shouldn’t even be thinking about qualifying for champions league at the moment. We are 10th after 15 games, behind teams like Stoke, West Ham, Swansea and West Brom. How on earth did we get here? Something has got to change, and change fast. It is simply not good enough, and it has absolutely nothing to do with salaries or FFP. Apart from Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea, FFP does not come into it all. Come on people, what has FFP got to do with us being 1oth on the table? Can anyone tell me the big stars signed by Everton, Tottenham, West Brom, Swansea, West Ham and Stoke that Arsenal could not afford? I tell you now this FFP thing is a red herring. This season has been a shambles and very embarassing.

  14. agree with everything you say there Shard. There may have been good reasons for selling Song – but not replacing him is a gamble too far. Arteta and Santi look phisically and mentally shattered. It seems Wenger only trusts a few players, so our squad is far too light, and the manager has to take the blame for that. Wenger needs to have the transfer window of his life, for once, finances need to come second place to quality. We have good players, but they are not playing up to their abilities. Some are in desperate need of rotation, a bit of tiredness…and who knows, maybe other issues has put us into what could be a very dangerous spiral. A story did the rounds last winter that Wenger offered his resignation after we lost to Fulham last winter. I have no idea how true this was, but a penny for Wengers thoughts at the moment. He has to get the fans and maybe some players back, Jan may be his last chance before events take on their own momentum.

  15. @toto, on reflection you’re right… looking at the league position, it is embarrassing!
    @Mandy Dodd, you’re also spot on about Carzorla and Arteta ( there’s no way hes a defensive midfielder IMO), if Wenger offered his resignation tonight I wouldn’t be surprised, I hope it doesn’t happen. I feel really sad for our club tonight.

  16. Mandy Dodd

    Wenger won’t resign unless asked to. He’s no quitter..And though there may be 7 teams between us, we’re still only 5 points from 3rd in the table.

  17. Shard;

    I assume you were there today ?

    Surely you must have been embarrassed by the pathetic performance ?

    Don’t you wonder why our players who no one would argue on paper are better than Swansea’s look so lost ?

    Do you think we’ll get better when FFP comes in ?? !!

  18. Last season was supposed to be the worst start for Arsenal under Wenger (or any manager?). We pipped Spurs by a point when it reality, we were lucky. Spurs were leading by 10 points at one stage till Harry the twitcher got distracted by the England job and his court case. And we got luckier when RVP started practically every game and banging in the goals. Wenger got out of jail that time. But knowing Wenger and his ‘how many games did you manage?’ mentality, he really believe he can get away with murder every time.

    This season is worst than the last after 14 games. This time around, we don’t have a mascot…. he sold it to a title contender (and I’m being generous here… we were not challenging for the last few seasons)

  19. Doublegooner

    No.I was at home.

    No. I am never embarrassed by Arsenal. I did think it was a terrible performance with no desire.

    Yes. I wonder.

    I think we’ll get better regardless of FFP.

  20. I seen the earlier match between West Ham and Chelsea.

    Chelsea looked lost in the second half… much like us. If you looked at the players, there were no JT, Lampard and Drogba. In short, there was no leadership in defence, midfield and attack. Too many young talented players but for what?

    Compare that to Arsenal.

  21. I do not think he will resign either Shard, he may if we finish out of the top 4 but he must be feeling it a bit – things really are not going his way these days. He was interviewed, said some players were on the verge of injury and carrying knocks. Again, he needs to have a squad – I can only assume he needs to move on a few before more come in. Maybe Stan has told him to get the wage bill below 50% or something. Stuill, if there is one thing we know from Wenger teams, things can turn around quickly. Lucky to finish above Spurs last season? Are you forgetting a certain game and score? We can easily reel Spurs back in, they are not far enough ahead of us anyway but I repeat, Wenger has to buy in Jan. He will need to factor in failing to qualify for the CL into his sabremetrics if he needs a sobering thought! We are now a big and wealthy club, we need to be managed accordingly.

  22. Mandy Dodd,

    Agreed. Sometimes when you’re struggling to put things right, a major disappointment can actually show you the way out. I’m not suggesting we’ll suddenly get better. We’ve been unable to build on any victory and build momentum recently. Much tougher to do with a loss. Just a general comment. Sometimes, a bad result can be a catalyst too. Of one thing I am sure. No one wants the team to do better than Wenger himself.

  23. Wenger will be working 24/7 on this. Maybe the system needs tweaking – they just do not seem to be enjoying themselves? Maybe a bit of the free flowing stuff, and gradually bring in the more pressing defensive side of things?

  24. Been a while since I posted as I’ve hardly been able to watch any games recently due to moving and there being no TV. I’ve been following all of it though and reading a lot of stuff on Untold as usual.

    The points tally is not great of course. However to think that booing is the awesome solution which will miraculously catapult us forward is a ridiculous notion. Did the booing at half time help? This seems to be a trend nowadays; don’t like Don’t agree. Yell. All it does is release stress inside. Nothing else.

    Anyway to also say that AW doesn’t know what he’s doing is a silly idea. He tried pretty much everything and has tried to use the squad as much as he can. There is a limit to what a manager can do; contrary to the AAA thinking. Anyway I back AW 100% to get us out of this slump..which is more mental than physical IMO.

    There’s some truth in the RVP got us out of jail last year statement made by Nick Lee. Saying that AW is gambling on getting away with murder again makes no sense though. The gamble AW took was with Diaby IMO…and hoping that he somehow stays fit. Sadly he didn’t. Was it worth taking? I don’t know. Maybe AW felt that with a good preseason and plenty of work Abou could stay fit. Turns out he couldn’t. Sadly.

    Alex Song is a weird weird transfer. I’ve said it many times before. I don’t put down these defeats to him alone though; the attack is just not clicking. It’s not about the defense alone. Arsenal are not and never will be (till AW is around) a 1-0 team. They have to flow…only then do they have a chance.

    It’s a good team with a ton of internationals and a lot of combined experience now. It doesn’t make sense to say they suck. They don’t. I was extremely positive about the squad at the start…and felt we had plenty of balance everywhere. On paper that’s still true. Mentally something isn’t right. We need a couple of 3-0 results somewhere..somewhow to give the team confidence that they can do both.

    The title’s not on ..certainly…but 3rd – 4th isn’t a pipe dream. It’s certainly doable. The booing and targeting of Ramsey, Gervinho or even Theo makes no sense though. Or the booing of the players on the pitch for that matter.

    I wonder if there’s a clash somewhere between AW and Steve Bould’s philosophies too. And the team struggling to adapt to both. Not that there is a fight internally of course, but players struggling to be solid defensively and be creative enough at the same time. Arsenal standards creative..I mean.

    It’s a tough time but I for one am behind the team. 100%. And the manager. And the board. Everyone. Lets try and get out out of this slump.

  25. You do realise that RVP and songs departures are no excuse as we lost to Swansea last season with both of them in the side. We was also out-played as well last season. Hard to except but Swansea deserved their wins.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *