With a spineless team we had 66% of the ball

By Walter Broeckx

When Arsenal loses a game it is always a difficult moment. Every defeat hurts and the defeat against ****** even more than any other.

We could all do like the catastrophists do, and slaughter all the players, the manager and everyone else involved in the club. I think there are plenty of internet sites where you can join in today in the moaning so enjoy yourself there.

After a short night with almost no sleep, (my way of digesting defeat), and after seeing a great sunrise I think I can give my more balanced view on things.

First of all a team consists of two group of players. The leaders and the water carriers. The leaders and the assistants. In fact another word for leaders could be the world class players, and for the assistants the not yet world class players.

A team has to be in balance. Look at Real Madrid, they have bought 11 world class players and they found out, once again, that you also need water carriers in your team. Barcelona on the other hand looks to be a team that has found the right mix. Real world class players and some players like Keita, Toure who are doing what is needed to help the leaders.

It is also important to keep in mind that current water carriers could become world class players in a few years time. Those things come most with more experience although there are exceptions as some players just have more natural ability than others.

Arsenal has in our squad also a very good mix. We have real world class players in every line. Up front we have Van Persie. If fit one of the best strikers in the world. In fact we even have two world class players up front. Arshavin has not had his best season as he had to play in a different position than he prefers and is used to and he has been playing for months with a foot injury.

So two world class players who have a few water carriers surrounding them. Players like Bendtner, Walcott, Vela and Eduardo are not or not yet world class. Sometimes because of their age of in Eduardo’s case because of an injury. The ideal thing is to be able to mix them up. One world class player in the front line can be enough to lift the game of the other two players.

Unfortunately both could not start yesterday and we had to do it with the water carriers. The difference could be seen as Van Persie came on. As a world class player, even without any game in 5 months, he lifted the whole team and in the last 15 minutes we had enough chances to win the game. Notice the fact that a fully match fit Van Persie would have scored a goal but you can not ask from him to just deliver from the first minute on. Coming back needs time and he can only get better by playing again.

In midfield we have the best 22 year old midfield player in the world in the person of Cesc. I think we all have seen enough of him to know that he is an exceptional player and that even at this young age he is the dominating player in the team. He can decide any game and he was banging in goals as if it was nothing and giving assists to others as well. He leads by example and when he is on the field the other play better because he makes everyone play better.

Our other midfielders are about the same age but they are not like Cesc yet. The are water carriers but they can and most of them will become world class players. Take Song. He has become such an important player for the team as he brings balance in the team and he can play in the defensive midfield and is in the absence of Djourou our third choice centre back.

Some may have noticed both were out injured yesterday. So again we had to do it with players with great talent like Nasri, Denilson and Diaby but who are not yet finished as Cesc is. They have improved this season but they still could need a helping hand from Cesc for the moment. Maybe next season they can do it at their own but for now this is asked a bit to much.

In defence we have a real world class centre back in the person of Gallas. He has won many things in his career and he was a new player since the arrival of his water carrier Vermaelen. Note that I don’t think Vermaelen is world class yet. He is very close and maybe from next year he will be world class but this was his learning year. But the partnership between Gallas and Vermaelen worked rather nice this season. Those who say we conceded a lot of goals I can only tell that if you play an attacking game like we do, this is part of the risk you take.

But once again Gallas was not available and Vermaelen went out with an injury. If you take the order from the beginning of the season one could say that Wenger would have gone for Gallas, Vermaelen, Djourou, Song and finally Silvestre.

Since the signing of Campbell, a masterstroke from the manager, Campbell came in front of Silvestre but he would have been on the bench if Djourou and song would have been fit. So yesterday we played our 5th and 6th option at centre back.

But if you take a line from our own penalty area to the other you would normally have players lined up from Gallas over Song to Cesc and finally to Van Persie. That would be the spine of Arsenal this year and on that spine the other players would be filled in at random order. Arshavin also would be a certain pick from the manager but on the left or right hand side of Van Persie.

So we played without our spine yesterday (and against Barcelona) and the spine of a team is like the spine of a human being : it is hard to do without.

And yet with this spineless team we had 66% of the ball, had more shots on goal, and we played away at the home of our biggest local rivals. They scored an early goal with a cracking shot but I will give £100 to that player if he ever does this again against us. No chance of me needing to pay up. This was a once in a lifetime shot and it happened against us.

And yes we did make mistakes, as we all make mistakes but we still could have won the game if lady luck would have been on our side. She wasn’t.

So our spineless team dominated the game but we could not score. The difference between players who are the finished article and those who are not finished was visible when Robin came on. The day our spine is back and fit we will be dominating and scoring like we did at the begin of the season when they were fit.

Is the title lost ? It could be as for the moment we need Chelsea to make a real mess of their last games. We just have to make sure we don’t regret not giving everything in every game. Yesterday I felt that most players gave everything and this is all we can ask as fans.

After the Chelsea game I ended an article by saying: it isn’t over till its over. This could be the moment that our water carriers will make the last step to maturity. Let’s just support our players.

And if defeat hurts us so bad, on a rare and seldom day
We will not desert you, our Gunners in arms

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49 Replies to “With a spineless team we had 66% of the ball”

  1. best article i’ve read today, hands down. only thing i disagree with is the fact that i do think vermaelen is worldclass already.

  2. listen dud, we had several players out no doubt but so had spuds, their best player, lennon, was out so was kranjacar and palacious. Defoe was half fit, woodgate wasn’t their. So it was reserves against reserves nothing more nothing less.

    Wenger has lost it and he is too stubborn to admit it. I give u an example…
    Pat rice: arsene plan A is not working what’s the plan B?
    wenger : plan B is to pass more.
    Pat rice: arsene plan B is not working what’s the plan C?
    wenger: Plan C is to pass more.
    Pat rice: arsene plan C is not working what’s the plan D?
    wenger: Plan D is to pass more.
    Pat rice: arsene u need to be more innovative now.
    wenger: for that i have hired tony attwood.

    U said now we know that injury won’t go, when did we get to know that??? in the middle of this season? in that case wenger shud have bought in january…or in last season? in that case we shud have replaced adebayor and toure.

  3. i would reay appreciate it if u guys can tell a few home truth sometimes… am not saying be iitirrational in ur judgments bt common u have to earn the right to be an arsenal player bt some of the guys yesterday were quite shocking as much as i like diaby he needs to start turning up in big games..ddenison has his gd days bt ve given up on him managers decvision can be questionable at times….. wwld ve loved to see sagna at cb rather than sylvest he cnt attack neway llleave him @ RB am nt 1 of ur so called catawotever bt its nt everytime u ve to give credit to dis guys ……. i think we’ll get baking into d race if d others lose on sat bt wnt win it surely

  4. possessions matters only when it gets converted into meaningful attack.

    Plus tots were also missing several players.

    Arsenal had 7 days off, tots had 3 days and a humiliating dfeat against pompey.

    This defeat means arsenal needs to keep looking their backs for manc arabs.

    4th will be utterly catastrophic.

  5. We need to sell all the players(after a good horse whipping) and replace them with the Barca team.Wenger must be sacked and replaced with a manager who will spend (Rednap i suggest} the money grabing board must go and a Russian billionare brought in NOW.In fact………. OH GOD ……SORRY WALTER……..I thought i was on “le grove”

  6. I better have only 10% of possesion and score goals, comparing having 90% of possesion and can’t score goal…..

  7. hey critic,

    why don’t you just admit that you’re a glory hunter at best and spud fan at worst who spends too much time on an Arsenal blog instead of doing something useful like improving your spelling.

  8. Some things to consider.

    Having Gallas in the squad is a risk due to injury … particularly late in the season.

    Having Campbell in the squad is a risk due to age and recovery between matches.

    Having Djourou out injured is a misfortune. However, he was hardly “the finished article” when last be played.

    Having Silvestre in the squad … for all his intelligence, experience, and versatility is a solution that’s outstayed its welcome.

    Having a team of four goalkeepers either too young, inexperienced, or lacking in confidence hasn’t helped. NB. Personally, I think Almunia is a good keeper. He’s also a great scapegoat for the Grovers.

    Including ADSB17 as a defender is a woeful waste of our best defensive midfielder. Have we won a game this season when he’s retreated into central defence?

    As for Diaby and Denilson … yes, they’ve both had outstanding games for us this season – but they’ve simply not done it consistently. The problem I had with both last night was that even with 40 minutes to go their heads dropped and they didn’t work hard enough to try and retrieve the situation. Nasri and Rosicky tried and worked and ran … Diaby just got frustrated.

    As for the statistics … Fair enough, but much of what was best from Arsenal last night came after RVP came on. Now Robin is a special player, but the rest of the team cannot be collectively so far behind him that Gomes hasn’t a save to make until RVP comes on.

    Yes, the opening goal was a one-off-ish sort of thing. But the second was down to malpractice. At one-all with nine minutes to go things would have been very different.

    One thing about the last two seasons that’s stuck in my mind was that “it could have been so difefrent” if it wasn’t for the injuries. Well, it’s the same this season and the question is what are we going to do about it – because, as a problem, it’s seemingly not going to go away.

    RVP, Song, Cesc, Gallas, Vermaelen, an off-form Arshavin are all critical players … our spine, but their replacements should still be doing better.

    Lastly, I for one will be optomistic until the end. Even after the title’s lost I’ll be hoping for some match-fixing scandal to break and hand us the premiership.

    Given the negatives that have hit us this season, we have done unbelievably to get this far. Would I settle for second? No. But I would settle for beating MU into third.

    (Can’t be arsed to proof read – press SEND)

  9. The difference is we lost world class players and they don’t have world class player so they can’t lose them. They can swich one water carrier with another that is not a problem. The problem is to replace a world class player. That is much more difficult and certainly when all your world class players are out at the same moment.

    Let me give you an example if Barcelona had to replace Messi they could take Pedro but will he do the same as Messi does and can ? But if they have to replace a water carrier like Keita they just put on Toure and he will do the same job.

    With our best players in the team we play at a different level than they. Yesterday without our world class players we were a team like them.

  10. It,s clear now that Alex Song needs to become a centreback to partner Vermalen in defence as he has shown his versatility over the season ,this will allow a stable central defence without the injury woes of the older Gallas and Campbell ,too injury prone over a full season ,with Djoruou,Traore,Gibbs and others as backup ,it,s time?

  11. Sorry, this is very weak minded and half-hearted. When we didn’t have the ball, how effective were our attempts at closing them down? THAT is what I call carrying water. Its not beyond ANY of our players. Even those who are “world class” With the players we were able to field yesterday, I’ve no doubt you expected A LOT more than what they gave. There are aspects of our performance that simply cannot be glossed over. What was our game plan? Did we execute it? Did spurs nullify it? Given the personnel we fielded, that performance, in a must win (as always) NLD, while fighting for the title with 4 games to go, was INEXCUSABLE. We have to be honest here, 66% possession does not equal 3 points. We did not look like we REALLY WANTED THE 3 POINTS after 8 DAYS REST vs their 120 mins and 3 DAYS REST. The spurs were there for the taking but we lacked the hunger bar Sagna, Clichy, Sol, Verm, and RVP. This much was crystal clear. You could have summed this up by saying our squad players bottled it last night and weren’t good enough. The sad fact is, Diaby is considered first choice at present. Would Song have been carrying Diaby instead of the water if fit?! As supporters, we should expect a minimum standard of effort if not quality. When Sol tried to fire them up, they looked at him like he was barmy. We’ve gone from lions to cubs to kittens in terms heart and desire to win which is sad when you look at what we have achieved and how close we are. Sol’s wise words last week were golden.

  12. 100% agreement. come on arsenal lets finish the season winning our remaining games and set us up for next season

  13. you just keep making excuses for him. Its all built on fear. Fear we will fail with a new manager. fear we will drop down the table etc.

    Mancity are going to be by the start of the new season the new chelsea. Chelsea are going to retool. So will Man united. The slipping has allready started. We were in this position because Liverpool are broke. United/Chelsea have been unusually inconsistent. It was there for the Taking and he blew it. End of Discussion

  14. While not as outspoken as sid I have said for a while now that imo wenger’s time should be at an end now. My biggest concern/gripe with wenger is that all these problems that some fans see him addressing in the summer need to be recognised first before they can be corrected and I really think wenger cannot see these weaknesses Shocked Last night for example I felt that diaby and eboue were absolute muck but amazingly wenger subs sagna and denilson who may not have been setting the world alight but were still miles ahead of the other two brainless donkeys Rolling Eyes

    I think that most of us accept that the most glaringly obvious area that needs to be fixed is that of goalkeeper but tbh I cannot see wenger even considering a change in that area in the summer. I know that such a thought is beyond comprehension to most by I just have this feeling that wenger really believes in almunia Shocked

    I believe that right now our club has gone stale as has wenger himself. We seem to be stuck in limbo where we are not good enough to win it but just good enough to stay ahead of the shit behind us. Placing our faith in young players that are not good enough and rewarding them with bumper contracts is playing no small part in our inability bring us back to the summit again and wenger’s number 1 loyalty appears to be these players Surprised

    All that said I will renew my season ticket next year and the year after and for as long as it is financially feasible cos unlike others Arsenal FC, as opposed to Arsene FC, is in my blood

  15. @stubby224 —

    You live in fear of the power of money. But money doesn’t guarantee trophies. Look at Real Madrid, Man City, and even Chelsea (sure they look to win this year, but no CL, and they haven’t won the PL in 3 years).

    Going from 4th place to 3rd place is NOT slipping. In fact, in anyone’s book, it’s called IMPROVEMENT.

  16. @critic —

    Walter is right, and your argument is wrong.

    It’s not just about the number of 1st teamers out, but the QUALITY of them. The 1st teamers that we have out are world class.

  17. @stubby224 —

    Your whole argument is baseless conjecture.

    1. You say “Mancity are going to be by the start of the new season the new chelsea. Chelsea are going to retool. So will Man united.”

    OK, but how do you know this? Why was there so little action in the January transfer window then?

    2. You say “The slipping has allready started.”

    This is completely wrong. See my above comment.

    3. You say “We were in this position because Liverpool are broke.”

    But Liverpool has also spent lots of money “retooling” last year (as you put it). And if they are “broke,” then what about Man United?

    4. You say “United/Chelsea have been unusually inconsistent. It was there for the Taking and he blew it.”

    Chelsea finished 3rd last year. Remember that before the season most pundits (and I’m betting, you, yourself) thought that Arsenal would struggle to finish 4th because we did not “retool” after losing Adebayor and Toure.

    I’ll say this again: money does not guarantee trophies. It’s not FIFA10 or Football Manager.

    Please think before you criticize the posters here. Use evidence and logic. If all you are going to do is make insulting, knee-jerk criticisms, I think we can recommend a blog or two for your liking. End of Discussion.

  18. Out:
    Cesc Fabregas (reportedly Barca willing to pay 40m £)

    ManU – No Rooney, No Ferdinand, No Vidic, No Fletcher,
    Chelsea – No Drogba. No Malouda, No Terry, No Alex,

    They would struggle. (As Man U did earlier in the season)

    I agree about the off the ball defensive stuff – that needs working on.

    I also agree about the goalie – we do need competition there.

    All in all, I suspect not too high priced transfers while the stadium loan is being paid off. But as I told someone – let’s talk in 5-10 years (regardless of who the coach is btw).

  19. crack, are you on crack or is your keyboard broken?

    same shit different day, when we lose a match people call for wengers head, sack the board, replace half the team etc.

    get a grip, it doesn’t matter how well your arguments may look when they are on the screen in front of you, every one of them are full of holes.

    you all know that if you were to have these conversations with arsene or pat they would be able to demolish you with the real facts.

    we dont know half of what goes on behind the scenes at our club and when we make bad guesses we end up making bullshit arguments.

    apart from manu and cheesy, what other fans in the prem wouldnt swap with us in an instant.

  20. That’s hell of a coincidence really.

    You know Spurs, with 6 first teamers out, well they had 66% of the goals!

  21. Thanks for the article, it is as you said well thoughtout and balanced. I for feel Nasri and Rosicky were pretty disappointing! Without Arshavin and Cesc they r supposed to lift their game to drive us forward but they were more content with passing the ball sideways and backward, even when the talented Frenchman dribbled past opponents! In the end we had only the half-hearted efforts of eboue which ran out too!

  22. @es – I think you were spot on there mate. A very realistic analysis.
    The team has some superb players, and players who can play extremely well on occasion, but it hasnt all come together as one might have envisioned at the beginning of the season, and again it has been down to injuries.
    My thoughts at the start of every season are always optimistic, but its not optimism for the team winning anything, its optimism for the squad staying fairly injury-free, because I know that when this finally happens, we will win something.
    Imo the squad we have now is as good if not better than any of our previous squads. The fact is when we start the season (ie without any real injury problems) we look like a squad with a good balance between youth and experience. The young players look extremely promising and the older players are truly world class or close to that level. Unfortunately the older players have not been able to contribute for a full season in recent times. The side does tend to lose its “spine” of experienced internationals, and any side would suffer for that.
    Imo the only way to remedy this is to replace our injury-prone experienced players with not injury-prone, experienced players who can be relied on. Youngsters are meant to pick up little knocks throughout the season, older players reaching their prime, arent. As much as I hate to say it, this does include van persie – along with fabregas, our best player when fit imo

  23. Joe,

    Spurs missing 6 first team players? Like Palacios, Corluka and Kranjcar who all lost against world beaters Portsmouth? Give me a break. We’re talking about two of our best defenders, three of our best midfielders and of course our best striker. Modric and Defoe did play didn’t they?

    Arsenal lose and the trolls invade this blog. What a coincidence really.

  24. Apart from crack and stubby, a lot of great comments here. Like anything, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

    Yes, Spurs were missing a few players, but Lennon, Krancjar and Palacios are equivalents players (in talent and accomplishment) to Walcott, Eduardo and Denilson. They are not world-class players. Arshavin, Cesc, RvP, and Gallas are genuine world-class players that would make any side miles better. Song has been one of the midfielders in the PL this year. Spurs missing players cannot compare to that. Their first goal was a complete fluke. But we defended poorly for their 2nd, lacked any cutting edge (despite that huge possesion advantage) until RvP came on, and I as well thought that Diaby and Denilson both turned off for 15 minutes after their 2nd goal. I also noticed the moment when Campbell tried to pump people up and Diaby looked at him with a blank expression. Both players perked up when RvP came on and finished strongly but they definately gave up for a period.

    Last night should not take away from a great season however. But…….

    Those expecting us to spend 50million this summer need their heads examined. We do not have that kind of money unless we sell people. I predict Chamakh on a free, a new central defender and MAYBE a new ‘keeper. A new goalkeeper will only come in if one is found that is world-class and affordable.

    This squad is still growing. I did not expect anything from this squad this year except progress. We have seen progress. Next year more of the same please. But first let’s finish the season strongly.

  25. notlager – Jenas, Woodgate, Lennon, Corluka, Palacios, Kranjcar were missing for Spurs, all starters.

    The Portsmouth game has no bearing at all on yesterdays result but why let that get in the way of things. Maybe I could try and factor in your game at Birmingham if you like although going from a draw to a loss against teams you should be beating doesn’t really equate to losing to the team you should beat and beating the team you should lose against (like Spurs did).

    And the rest of you conspiracy heads, don’t look now or you might see Roman chucking Harry a dodgy envelope for assuring us an easier tie in the FA Cup Final (remember that, seems a lifetime ago Vieira scored that winner).

  26. Also, looking at some of the other blogs this morning it is truly scary the level of intelligence that some supporters have. I suppose they have always been there, but the internet has allowed them to comunicate with each other and form a small “community”. Like all extremists, they tend to be louder than the sensible moderates. I have known a few like that in my years as a supporter but could always ignore them when they are in small numbers. Now it is frightening to see them grouping together and dragging decent supporters names through the mud. And I dont just include Arsenal in that. I live in North America and see the same thing here. I follow the NY Yankees and on their blogs their are just the same types of fans that proclaim “disaster” every time the team lose. And they also call for the team to “spend, spend, spend” as the solution to every problem. The funny thing is that the Yankees have outspent every other team by almost twice as much since 2001 and have won ONCE in that time, last year. Spending money is NOT a solution. You can see them on Utd blogs, calling for Fergie’s head, saying he’s lost it just because Utd might fail to win a FOURTH League Championship in a row!!!! I mean, if there are Utd supporters calling for Fergie’s head then we should not be surprised that some Arsenal supporters might call for Wenger’s.

    It is when you see comments like “worst Arsenal team ever!!!!” or “We are Arsenal, we should dominate” or “This has been a terrible season” that you know the people have lost all sense of rational thought. One blog even gave Nasri a score of 3/10 last night and said he was invisible. Was that person watching the same match as I was or were they just going into it with preconceived ideas of what he should be doing? I mean, Nasri was not amazing or anything like that but nobody had more possession or passes than Nasri last night, and very few of them went astray. I dont know, I guess some people are just watching different games.

    I only pray that nobody within the club listens to those people. Arsenal have survived very well for many years doing their way and not listening to anyone else. Long may the club continue to do that.

  27. Before one even starts responding to this optimistic drivel from Tony, who should and does know much better then that, do you people realize that Arsenal not only “lost” the title yesterday(bullocks!), but has not even secured 3rd place with certainty??
    On present form with our team tired and demoraized and down to the bare bones by the day , with 2nd and 3rd string filling in and makeshift D on the way, City is more then capable not only of winning but of tearing us to shreds in the Emirates,yes, they have done so twice this year already and they play extremely well now and Ade is coming back to his best scoring form. they have harder fixtures then us but with their game in hand that will make it 3 points difference right there,this will makes things quite tense won’t it? can anyone here be sure at this point that we are absolutely immune to drawing or loosing to Blackburn say? we are taking goal difference now as a decider… this very unlikely you’d think but we are closer to 4th now then 1st that’s for sure.

  28. Joe,

    they are starters but not all their best players. Do you understand the difference? Diaby is a starter but I would trade him for an healthy Fabregas. An injured Sagna is replaceable unlike an injured Van Persie. You cannot be that thick can you?
    Oh and how did you lot fare against Birmingham? I know Spud fans to be obsessed with us but Chelski fans seem far far worse.

  29. Injured Van Persie not replacable? I thought Bendtner was self proclaimed as one of the best in the world?

    Or was this before the injury made RvP as good as Messi or Ronaldo 🙂

    I am only obsessed with this site though, as this is where the easy meat is. Delusional comes nowhere near.

  30. Before you all throw yourselves in the river, Spurs are after fourth and to do so will need to beat Chelsea, thus putting us back in the title race.

    The fat lady hasn’t even got her microphone switched on.

    Let’s reconvene in May…

  31. I watched the full CL final of 2006 the other day, strange thing to do but I did. what struck me first of all, and apropo our recent outing against the Blaugrana, is how strong we were; more then a match to a Barca in a great year of Dinho, all in the first 25min before mad Jens tried to get away with it; in fact we were having the upper hand it seemed, so much so that our line was too high at times,But even after being reduced to 10( and with the three missed 2nd half gilded opportunities to win it) and till the very last 15 min Barca managed to test Almunia only couple of times seriously.
    But even back then you see the sort of things that haunt us ever since. Wenger really believed that with young Eboue he can shut down Dinho AND Eto’o on the right for 90 minutes. Eboue looks hilariously good most of the time, but that was a ridiculously reckless idea of Arsene, and having Almunia as a backup, a very good instinctive shot stopper but give him a second or two to make a decision and he will make himself as samll as a mouse, open his legs in the process and transform to the worst of keepers. He was not good enough as a backup and has never looked better then then. But if these are the immediate reasons for conceding, and Henry’s and Ljunberg (and Hleb’s ) misses are the reason for not winning, it was the tactical changes that Wenger makes in the last phase of the game that stand out. Wenger tried to shut the game with 20 minutes to go. He takes out young Fab who already was so good ain possession and distribution and keeping a lively link between the defense and Henry, ljunberg up top. He brings in headless chicken Flamini, Barca push up much higher , because Henry is totally isolated now (the misses aside (could we ever?) what a work rate and defensive work the guy put on that day) Iniesta (21 years old then, he btw responsible for Barca’s full control of the game in 2nd half) )then he plays the Xavi position with Dinho totally free to roam , the whole game complexion changes in minutes, and barca scores. great tactics indeed. we stood very strong till then.
    On top Wenger takes out the last ball handler we have, Hleb and brings in Reyes,He should have taken out Ljunberg who was tired running all day, he was thinking the counter but he sacrificed the Midfield and we had not a chance left. Well Arsene knows best.
    What is my point then, not just a smart ass dig at Arsene’s tactics , everyone knows that it is his Achiles heal.
    Not even the glaring point of mind boggling negligence of the goal keeper’s position, or the defense in general. The then Sol/Toure partnership was superior to the one we have now.
    It is more the lack of progress
    Lookk at Barca, they were great but could have been beaten by us on the day, any day.they dismantled a team and we did too AND they improved on talent and their style of play by a lot, have we?
    Why has the gap widened that much?
    It is not about money in this case, it is about ‘playing the right football’ and about having recruited the right talent. I think that we can have good reasons to doubt both now.
    We always believed that Arsene is the avantgarde of the game in every sense, well he is really not. we looked like stone age football this time around compared to Barca,and a bit dirty too.
    And what about the talent, and how much of it do we have?
    3 world class players, maybe half the first team has class, the rest squad, nothing of note beyond the first 11. Ridiculous anyone who thinks one can play a whole season with the same 11, vPersie maybe more at risk then the average but also a bull like Rooney cannot take it for a whole season.
    We don’t have the personal, we don’t have enough talent, and worse of all we dropped our fast aggressive counter attacking style and did not replace it with a mature different style.half baked too slow tiki taka.
    In short I think we are fucked and next year holds no better.
    Someone mentioned Chamach, what a joke, he is an alternative to Bendner, a guy who will never score more then 10 a season, that is the level of Wenger’s’s thinking.
    I am sorry no reason for optimism at all

  32. Joe by telling about Bendtner and Van Persie you just show that you know nothing. In the periode that Van Persie was out (5 months) Bendtner was out for 3 months.
    So how on earth could he have replaced Van Persie ?
    If you don’t know what you are talking about it is better to keep the silence.

  33. Its time to make some harsh decisions i.e separate ‘the wheat from the chaff’ time for a fresh start of some kind..almunia cambell silvester eboue bendtner eduardo OUT.but i know that will not be happening..Wenger should use that transfer kitty his been handed to buy players in their mid or late twenties.

  34. Tim

    Lets get something clear.

    Abromovich is now rebounding finance wise. He will buy mew players for sure.

    Man United will slide if they dont retool. So they have no choice.

    Man City are going to blow the market away Gaurenteed.

    The slied has started because he Wenger let this year get away from him when he had the chance in the slow january market.

    Mark what I say, Come next season Man City will be a power house.

    If he only tweeks we will slip.

  35. When we slip out of the top 4 your excuse will bE. “Well its only the first time in ten years it will be ok next year”.

  36. Song and Vermaelen are perhaps our most important players.

    With no Song we are are weak as a team and get bullied. Without him we have to play a more defensive 4-3-3 / 4-5-1 using two central midfielders to do the work of one.

    Without Vermaelen we are fucked. Fish head is not the answer.

    How could Wenger enter the season knowing these short comings of the team. And furthermore, why wasn’t any action taken to address this in January.

    It is imperitive to act this summer and sort the wheat from the chaff and bolster this squad.

    My proposals:

    Sell Fabianski
    Sell Silvestre
    Sell Senderos
    Sell Eduardo

    Buy Sakho
    Buy Palacious
    Buy Chamakh (a certainty!)

    Dream Team:

    ……………………Van Persie……………………

  37. stubby —

    Nothing in this world is guaranteed. Money buys the ability to win, but the actual winning itself has to be done by the players on the pitch (the same is true of a manager’s actions–you can only blame the manager for so much). Also, unless you are Abramovich or one of the owners of Man City, you have no idea what they are going to do.

  38. …………………..Szc/Alm/Man……………………….

    @ es, you are 100% right.

  39. Robespierre (a very apt screen name considering your position here) —

    You say “It is not about money in this case, it is about ‘playing the right football’ and about having recruited the right talent. I think that we can have good reasons to doubt both now.”

    I think money has a lot to do with “recruiting the right talent,” and it certainly has a lot to do with your perceived “lack of progress” when comparing Barca to Arsenal based on matches five years apart.

    Things like players ageing, the fact that Barca’s academy, which has something like a ten-year head start on ours, is able to recruit kids from all ages from all over the world (Messi, anyone?) while we can only recruit Londoners up to a certain age, etc…the fact that the nearly 100,000-seat Nou Camp was built in the late fifties while we have been relying on Highbury until recently…the fact that Barca has been able to buy players like our own greatest-player-ever Henry as well as Ibrahimovic…

    Then there’s that small issue of debt due to the cost of the Emirates…

    Given these handicaps, I think AW has done a great job in putting our team in position to win.

    You cannot say that “It is not about money in this case.”

    Let’s make something clear (to use stubby’s favorite phrase above): our team can improve and needs to improve — I don’t think anyone on this blog would disagree. AW himself has said this many times. I have no doubt that in the off-season, he and the staff will leave no stones unturned. But in the end, it is up to the players performing.

    The team is still young, and it is still improving. And with the stadium debt rapidly decreasing, the coffers are filling. But again, money only buys the ability to win; it does not account for things like crazy injuries or on-the-pitch performances.

    What we can do as fans is to support the players we have, not tear into them. They need to believe.

    It’s fine to have your perspective, but I think Arsenal will be the envy of every team in England (if it isn’t already).

  40. Joe, if Wenger is so crap, and we are such whingers and Chelsea are so wonderful- why do Chelsea have to advertise your games on LBC to get rid of match tickets?
    I live in a world of neutrals and I can say that Arsenal are the most open entertaining side in the EPL bar none- and that has been achieved on a relative shoestring.
    I am sorry but you cannot compare the absence of Palacious and Krankjar with Arshavin and Fabregas -they are in a different league.
    The fact is Arsenal fans have a right to moan- because they do not received a fair go from refs- their players are not protected and suffer a disproportionate number of injuries through fouls. I am sorry if these facts offend people from other teams -but their players like JT are too often protected from refs.

  41. goonergerry. Please can you direct me to where I said Wenger was crap and Chelsea are so wonderful. Oh what was that, you can’t. So I take from this you haven’t actually read much of what I posted, so should I read any further than somewhere midway through your first line, errrr, No.

    Walter, Yes I was wrong about Bendtner, my most humbles to you Sir, but in the scheme of things was a fairly innocent mistake to make for someone who doesn’t follow your clubs every move. I do notice you are still to make any comment on Bracewell-Smiths conduct with her shares and Usmanovs flirtatious purchase at just the right price though, again!

  42. I wish people will stop with the myth of “crazy injuries”. We have injury-prone players, ergo, they will get injured. It’s freakish when we have 5 key players out in one season. It’s normal when we’ve had 5 players out in one season for the past 5 seasons. We’ve been buying injury-prone players (i.e. Rosicky), we’ve been misdiagnosing their injuries (i.e. van Persie) and we’ve been shit at handling their recoveries (i.e. Gallas). I suspect we’ve also get problems with conditioning, because it’s not statistically normal to have an entire squad of players to continually break down with soft tissue injuries in training/matches.

  43. Walter, I got halfway through this article of yours, and then I had to stop. I get it – you’re an optimist and an apologetic – but that performance was limp and insipid. You don’t expect Diaby to be as good as Cesc, or Silvestre to be as good as Vermaelen, but you do expect them to give 100% in a vital derby match. You don’t have to be world-class to try hard.

  44. Actually, the definition of “water-carrier” is someone who doesn’t have the talent to be a star player, but who is vital because of his work-rate and his determination, and his ability to provide a platform for the star players to excel. We fielded a team of water-carriers out there, and we couldn’t even build a stage.

  45. It’s the easiest thing in the world to sit at your keyboard and criticise everyone and everything. Some of the posters here are determined to be upset no matter what. Just in case you don’t get it, this is SPORT. That means sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But these people cannot accept defeat. Honestly when you hear these people you would think we have the worst team in the league.
    I can’t be bothered to argue points with you because I know I’m not going to change your minds anymore than you’ll change mine.
    What I will say is that I come to this site precisely because I don’t expect to see doom and gloom here. The joes, stubbys and critics of this world are trying to destroy that now and I for one do not appreciate this at all. You do not hurt any more than I do when we suffer defeat, so if I can keep my toys in the pram I see no reason why you feel the need to throw yours all over the place.
    I’m sure you know there are other sites where you can go to shout and get angry if you want to, so why dont you go there? You’re coming here forcing people to get into useless arguments when all we want to do is get over the loss and move on, and I find such behaviour selfish, childish and tiring. Remember, this is a site that proudly proclaims its support for Lord Wenger in ALL HE DOES. It says so at the top of the page.
    Arsenal deserves much better than your annoying, boring, tiring negativity.

  46. No Mikey, sitting behind a keyboard and criticising Wenger is the SECOND easiest thing to do. The easiest thing to do is to bury your head in the sand, blame injuries, believe that Wenger Knows Best, and sit at your keyboard and criticise those who are doing the second easiest thing in the world.

    It takes honesty to realise that something you believe whole-heartedly (the supremacy of the Arsenal youth project) can be wrong, and it takes bravery (just a little bit) to follow that train of thought to the logical conclusion – that Wenger has made some serious mistakes, and unless those mistakes are addressed, we’ll be no closer to the title next season than this one.

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