When you’re rubbish there ain’t much you can do

By Tony Attwood

Last Friday I attended a modern jive dance in Cambridgeshire, despite having an Achilles injury, that should been keeping me off the dance floor for as long as it takes to repair itself.

I went because being at home night after night writing about Arsenal and Bob Dylan is OK but ultimately too much of a normally enjoyable thing.  And I expected several of my favourite dance partners to be there.

Indeed I was not disappointed.  Michelle, Wendy and Carmen were all on the dance floor, and all seemingly as pleased to see me as I them.  I started dancing and the old Achilles seemed to be ok.  We rotated partners. Life was good.

After about half an hour I turned and to my utter amazement there was Dawn, who I haven’t seen for maybe six months or more — the most wonderful dancer of them all.  For the rest of the night it was heaven, moving between one superb dancer and another, but mostly making up for a lost six months with Dawn.   In the small hours, as the club ran down we just polished off the evening together, with (to our embarrassment, for we are after all only amateuur dancers just doing it for the pure fun) there were clearly others just watching us.  We even got a round of applause – unknown for the amateur circuit.

The following evening I went to Northampton for another dance, and bizarrely there was Dawn once again – at a venue I’ve never seen her at before.  Six months without her, then two dances in two nights. Lots of hugs and warm greetings, and of course a dance.

And I was awful.

Maybe I was stressing the Achilles too much, maybe I was just too amazed at meeting her twice in two days, but whatever it was, I put in a terrible performance.  We came back together three or four times in the evening, but our dancing never got to within 10% of what we had achieved the night before.

As I say, we are amateurs, there for the fun and the socialising, but my experience over those two nights has been reflected in all the arts I’ve engaged in, in my life (and my life has been one long dabble with the arts).  Same in music – the band can be brilliant on Friday and rubbish on Saturday – and once you are rubbish there’s no way out.

Writing too.  Some days it pours out and you just know it is hardly going to need a correction or amendment.  Other days, the only thing to do is to wipe everything you’ve done that day, and hope tomorrow is better.

And of course it is like that for footballers too.  I remember Lee Dixon saying in an interview once that he recalled days like that when he’d turn to Tony Adams ten minutes into a game and say, “What’s going on?” but once it had settled in, that was that.   The more you try to put it right, the more you focus, the more your tense up, the worse it gets.

What we forget now of course is that during the Double seasons, and during the Unbeaten season, we saw games like that.   The proportion of them was fewer of course, but they were there.

But today, everything is judged by the last game.  With the passing of time no one remembers a dire draw with Port Vale, or a 5-0 thrashing by Stoke – we remember Doubles.  No one remembers being knocked out of the Champions League by Chelsea – because we were Unbeaten in the league that season.

Yet everyone has bad days.  Hell, we even have the phrase “bad day at t he office” to describe it.  And just because these guys are paid per week more than we earn in a year or three doesn’t stop them suffering from it.  When it happens, it happens.  It’s a mental thing, and there’s no way out.  All you can do if it happens to you is try and minimise the damage.

On Saturday I made my excuses, cited my Achilles, and left very early.  On a football pitch you can take off three players, but the rest have to slug it out.

And yet some Arsenal “supporters” suggest that what we saw last night is how it is, which if they went week on week they’d know is of course not the case.   There was a comment I saw when I came onto Untold this morning, which I didn’t publish, which said we should get rid at once of Ozil; he doesn’t want to be at Arsenal and never has.

I didn’t publish it for multiple reasons.  One is there was no evidence.  Two it just seemed ludicrous that a man who can command that much devotion from fans and managers worldwide and is in so much demand should actually go anywhere he doesn’t want to go.  And three because without evidence that comment doesn’t give me any insights to counter what I have seen from him since his return.

He’s human (although sometimes with those passes he can put in, I wonder), just like the rest.  And even he has terrible days.  Grown up people know this can happen, know (if they have ever tried to do anything sporting or anything creative) that it can happen to them, and know you just have to accept it, and try to stop it happening the next time.

It is just little children who, on finding everything doesn’t go right for them personally, every time, fling their toys out of the pram.

Personally, I try to stay with the grown ups.

An anniversary for the day that seems somewhat suitable

26 February 1927: Arsenal 6 Burnley 2.  It was the last victory for a while as Arsenal then suffered six consecutive defeats in which the club let in 26 goals.  Arsenal’s collapse seemed inexplicable.  They club had come second in the league the previous season, and the manager was… Herbert Chapman.

66 Replies to “When you’re rubbish there ain’t much you can do”

  1. I also saw that comment Tony and was amazed.
    Talking further about Özil as he seems to be the scapegoat once again:
    Stats about distance covered in the match yesterday:
    1. Moutinho 11.78 km
    2. Dirar 11.40 km
    3. Özil 11.38 km.
    4. Kondogbia 11.26
    5. Fabinho 11.02

    That is the top 5. One Arsenal player in it. “Lazy” Özil.

    Just as he was portrayed last season against Bayern when he also was the Arsenal player that ran most of them all.

    The deflected shot changed the game and gave Monaco the believe and us the extra stress. It wasn’t top class before they scored but wasn’t that bad either. A typical match against a difficult to brake down team in the CL. You have to be patient and take the chances when they come. The latter we didn’t do and after they got the lucky break we lost our patience and committed ourselves too much at times.

  2. Certainly a bad day, and a strange performance. Maybe they were trying too hard to win a game they saw as significant for Wenger. Still, I do not yet think we are out of this, providing they are more relaxed in Monaco. An early goal for us could have a big effect.
    Still think a major problem was a lack of a box to box MF alongside Coq, but unfortunately, Jack, Rambo and even Arteta , not such a player in the classic sense but a hugely intelligent player who can control things…..well they are either injured or not fit. As a result, our MF looked too static. One of two of them looked absolutely shattered as well.
    Do think we have so start concentrating more until the end of the game though, two games in a row where we have been caught by sucker punches right at the end
    But as you say, everyone has a bad day, but sadly, the aaa/media would love us to have many more bad days to acheive their aims and desires.

  3. No, no, no , no , simply put NO!
    Enough of the excusses! As much as I support the team and Wenger I am out of excusses.
    There can not be an excuse for Giroud to be our front man for this stage of the CL – look at all other team that aspire to be “up there” None of them is having such a forward. Giroud is too much of liability – his every chance is 50-50 either in or far out!!!
    We have no DM – last night they put 2 tall and strong DM and suddenly we were outmusculed !??!?! How can the only DM we have is 170 and inexpirienced at the highest lvl of football. Mertesacker as good as a defender he is – he is not suitable for every game we play. Oposition knows that if they get us on a counter attack – we are done. Even berbatov could out run him ?! Sorry – I am out of excuses. I supported Wenger through thick and thin , but he lost it – he is done, no ideas whatsoever left in him. He has the funds available – doesnt spend. Our owners are amongst the richest in football and all they do is rake winings from the club. Everything is upside down at the club now ! I for one am fed up with this !

  4. For anti-Özil movement:

    1) it was Özil who released Bellerin before the Spaniard made a low cross for Giroud’s sitter in the first half and

    2) it was Özil who found Alexis in the box in the first half (normally Alexis scores from that position).

  5. Last night was desperately disappointing. But that happens from time to time in football. Everything that could go wrong did (other than injuries or rogue red cards). Monaco were not worth a 2 goal victory but that’s what happened. I think the team looked shell-shocked after conceding the first, with almost Monaco’s first shot, and then just did not play maturely. I don’t think Monaco managed a single pass in the first 5 minutes…

    Several players were having off days – Alexis (a real dip), Giroud, Santi and so on. Some of the collective decision-making at the back was very poor too. I sensed that Coquelin was rattled and seemed to take it upon himself to advance forwards when he should have stayed on station.

    I don’t understand the criticism of Ozil – he was always looking for the ball, always looking to make something happen – but there wasn’t enough movement ahead of him.

    A turnaround is definitely possible – I think our chances are higher than Man City’s – but will need an early goal over there. The problem is that Monaco will just sit back – and keep sitting back even if we score a couple. Just need everyone on their A game and to get a couple of breaks.

  6. Excellent balanced and adult reflection on what was undoubtedly a poor game.

    C’est la vie. That’s life. That’s football.

    As you indicated there really is no purpose in analysing what happened to pretty much everyone in that game, especially when deep disappointment is still coursing through one’s veins.

    However, there are some matters that have remained constant this season and last, and writing a ‘tick list’ of what might be needed to improve matters can be illuminating from a fan’s perspective, (don’t worry – I will not bore everyone with such a list) other than to say there was one player on the pitch last night who epitomised something very high on my ‘to do’ list.

    An old adage claims that ‘balance in everything is an essential requirement’ and I happen to subscribe to it.

    We have some very talented creative players in midfield, and there is nothing wrong with that, but all of them are vertically challenged (OK, they are small) and that makes them all very ‘samey’ and does not lend itself to changing the impetus of the team when it needs to confound the enemy opposition.

    The player I referred to above, was Kondogbia, who Arsenal ‘watched’, ‘scouted’, ‘eyed’ every transfer window for what seemed years, and decided against signing him, or were unable to sign him, for whatever reason.

    He is not vertically challenged but is tall and athletic, and looked very like Vieira back in the day, or dare I say it, the eponymously ever injured Diaby, and physically he dominated the game, and with skill too.

    If he had played for us, I think the game would have ended very differently. We need variety in midfield, we need balance and not just in last night’s game – hopefully the next midfielder we purchase will be some one like Kondogbia. Too much to ask?

    Hopefully we will bounce back against Everton, at the week-end, and this match will be consigned to history – and in football everything is possible, so, Monaco 0 : 5 Arsenal is not impossible. 🙂

  7. “Deflected shot”, yes, but I’d say it was deflected into the centre of the goal where Ospina ought to have at least made an attempt to stop it. And why was Per turning away from the shot? He had a poor game.
    A much more obvious game changer was the ( penalty preventing ) cleverly disguised deliberate hand ball by the Monaco defender under pressure from Ozil. The behind the goal line official completely missed that, but he was on the other side of the goal, so might have been unsighted.
    We have a history of good away wins in the Champions League so lets hope we can pull one of those off in two weeks time.
    I think everyone ( including the Arsenal players, management, many bloggers, media, pundits & fans ) knows we had the worst game of our season last night.

  8. Ozil doesnt want to be here…..right….seem to remember people saying he would leave us for Man City in either Jan or the summer, no doubt the same people saying Alexis will demand a transfer this summer, in the hope they can blame wenger for something else.
    Do all teams have as many fuckwit media and troll influenced sheep fans as we do?

  9. Watching a playback of the game, there was something that seemed quite ironic with the way the game panned out.

    After a scintillating start, where we could and should have scored, we went back to the sideways, and backwards passing mode across the defence – apparently to ‘draw them out’ and when it failed to entice Monaco, a team with a very good reputation for defensive stability, who simply sat tight, we attacked, and then fell to a fortuitous deflected goal by Kondogbia, and that changed the way we played in the second half.

    To hell with defence, we were after blood – well a goal, anyway – and at the time of their No.1 and No.2 goals we had thrown the kitchen sink at them, including the FB’s and more importantly, both Coquelin and (god help us) Mert apart from Ospina every player was in their half. Que?

    So we had tried to lure them out, to hit them on the break, and they had not bitten; then they frustrated us by staying back, and lured us into all out attack – and then successfully suckered us into gifting them well taken breakaway goals.

    The biter bit! Oh, the irony. 🙁

  10. Mandy
    I think you’ve put your finger on it when you say we were missing the box to box guy. Recent excellent performances by Coq have raised expectations to an unrealistic level, and he has been left on his own and was last night exposed and absent on the first two goals when he needed a partner there to help him out. We were always best with two hard men in the centre ( Petit/Vieira, Vieira/Gilberto ) and in recent seasons have missed that sort of vibe. Flamini is the only other out & out hard tackler but is rather erratic and likely to get an early card. Two weeks time, perhaps Jack might play.

  11. Last night wasn’t so bad in the cold light of day. We started well, made all the right moves but failed to finish. It soon became apparent that Giroud and Welbeck, both proven scorers, were having a fruitless day (as all strikers do).
    And just before the break, the cruel blow of a deflected away goal.
    The second half became predictable as desperate attempts were made to cancel Monaco’s lead.
    Mistakes crept in, hurried passes were misplaced and possession lost.
    Inevitably, Arsenal’s bête noir over many years, the “schoolboy error” blossomed and the game was lost.
    But the overall contest is NOT lost.
    Monaco did not face the Arsenal we supporters often see as an exciting attacking force and an immaculate defence.
    The problem is, a different Arsenal seems to turn up every match. Consistency is not our middle name.
    If the defence and m/f can tighten up and the return of Wilshere, Ramsey and the Ox (from the start) as well as Walcott. there is no reason why we cannot score 3 or more in the Principality, without reply.
    Those of our heroes who didn’t perform last night do not become failures overnight.
    We can still win this tie.

  12. Hope to see Jack or Rambo back very soon tailgunner. Jack usually needs a few games to get back to his best, but can be a very effective player in that position, as can an on form Ramsey.
    Agree, coq was left a bit isolated, at times he seemed unsure whether to defend or attack, he is a good player, but still inexperienced at this level. Cazorla was around him, but to be honest, he looked fatigued, maybe not surprising with his efforts in recent months. But certainly not the fault of any individual, this was just collectively a bunch of circumstances culminating in a bad day.
    On the return, need to hit them with more pace, I would start with Thox.this is not lost yet.

  13. Its always like the end of the world when we lose WTF? the media and ex players and the liverpoo ex players were so fucking annoying!

  14. Please let me say as long as there is a Rhino at the heart of the Gunners defence line, the Gunners defending could become rhinoceros at any game. This has been the problem the boss has overlooked. And 2ndly, Arsenal have no world class strikers which was evident yesternight going by the incompetence performances displayed in a big CL game by Giroud & Welbeck. I think we only hv Sanchez who is close to being a world class. Taking his height and CL experience in to account, the boss ought to start Szczesny inplace of the popular Arsenal fans Oooospina! Again the boss should have started De Abreu inplace of Rhinosacker. So, until the boss jettisons his favouratism for competency, Arsenal may continue to suffer in high profile games. However I still believe Arsenal can knock out Monaco FC at Stade Louis II if the boss srtickly adhered to competent Gunners selections and not his usual favourite Gunners selections who may be incapable of delivering the desired goods. And lastly, let’s now focus on our FA Cup game.

  15. Pressplay – consider your statement

    “There can not be an excuse for Giroud to be our front man for this stage of the CL”

    Giroud has scored as many goals in his league games this far with Arsenal as Henry had in his league games to the same number (35 goals in 84 games). Henry had some unsuccessful games in this period.

    So on the basis of your analysis, we would have ditched Henry at this point. How silly.

  16. Henry is an infinitely better player than Giroud. Giroud is a decent player but he’s not in the same league as Henry. We aren’t really good enough to win the CL and haven’t been for nigh on ten years. The constant over that period of time? Lack of money. I’m sure if we’d have spent what Chelsea have over the last ten seasons we’d have won it by now.

    We now have a much better financial position and it will be interesting to see whether we are prepared to be really ambitious or whether we are merely a business that exists to make money for the owners first and foremost. We’re one of the richest clubs in the world, we have one of the biggest stadiums in England and we are in the prime location of London so there’s very little reason why we shouldn’t be able to attract the best players; a player in the Kondogbia mould would be a start and someone I believe we’ve needed since Vieira left.

  17. Tony, that’s not the issue really is it?no will we balls.
    we perform okay in the league. top four trophy every now and then. the team performs like children, we either get scared and hold back against weaker opponents and go 1-0 down, or we go 1-0 and decide thats good and shut up shop.
    we are pathetic.
    never perform on the european nights when it’s needed. 3-0 against AC milan is great but we needed 4.
    2-1 against Barca but that’s great we still didn’t go through.

    The league we’ll finish 3/4, we maybe win the FA cup but propabaly won’t perform at Old Trafford and in the end we are a nothing side anymore until we either sort out the mentality of the players, wenger learns how to motivate a team for a big game, or we turn into chelsea and spent money.
    also. wenger is hugely to blame, not a single players was motivated for a HUGE european night, that’s his job. football at arsenal football is history. and the odd glory in the future.
    and im afriad to say you guys are delusional. we’ll end up winning 2-0 in monaco but it won’t be enough because we cocked up in the first half.

  18. A bad day? Yes players can have a bad day, but then training is supposed to show the players in the right fitness and frame of mind who are ready to play.
    But 11 players having a bad day? no, that’s not good.

    And it comes like clockwork so it’s not a random issue either.

    I cannot for one moment think that 11 players ALL forget the basics of their way of playing, are not concentrated or focused, not tracking back etc. As i said one can usually see from the first 15 mins how the game will progress, depending on what Arsenal does. One can see if the commitment levels are high or low, if they are fully focused or not.

    The game v Monaco was one of those games where the focus was not 100% at all, and one sees it in the first 15 mins as i said before.

    My pal who was working called and asked how are we doing? I said to him, we’re not playing well, will probably lose.
    He said, that bad? I said, not really, but they seem so not switched on today.

    Mind you when i said that, i was just trying to express that thy were not playing like they can when fired up. I did not think we would lose, we were not playing that bad, just a little hesitant and too cautious, almost too respectful.
    But the cohesiveness of the team got worse as the game went on.

    Still, not the end of the world, but we do not want to see performances like this anymore, not where we are wanting to be going.

  19. The problem is not our players, and not our manager.

    The fact that we sit 3rd spot in the PL, the fact that we won 8 out the last 9, the fact that we beat the champions away all prove that – plus the very high Hlevel of football displayed by this particular team.

    However I cannot agree to the “bad day at the office” argument. Well, it’s getting thinner. Very thin.

    The “bad day” / “black swan” / Force Majeure kind of arguments are founded on their rarity and unexpectedness. This is what makes them valid: it’s a one in a million. It is the exception that proves the rule. In my very humble and sad opinion, inexcusable mentality lapses like the one witnessed last night have happened to this team specifically and to recent Arsenal teams in general, more than the amount which would make them valid.

  20. @nicky
    You said: “The problem is, a different Arsenal seems to turn up every match. Consistency is not our middle name.”

    So true and i cannot fathom why?
    This should happen to one at the most two players a game, but not half the team.

  21. Tony please stop there with your comparison with giroud and Henry. Your making yourself look stupid.The only thing they have in common is their both french. thierry would of got in a world eleven in his day.giroud on the other hand wouldn’t get in any of the other top 6 pre league sides .

  22. Not going to comment on your performance nor the reasons for it but I think you should be prepared for a conserrted onslaught from the press who now see AW as both wounded and fair game
    If you thought that AW had been the subject of vicious press up to now I think you will need to be prepared for what is coming indeed read Martin Samuels comments re winger and FFP and the Mail on lines report on whose fault it is

    No on reflection don’t read them as they probably will make your blood boil!

  23. @ Saint

    You seem to be confusing your opinion with fact, and that makes you look stupid.

    The evidence is that Giroud is matching Henry on the measurement of goals per game at the same stage of their respective Arsenal careers.

    That doesn’t constitute an opinion that Giroud is as good as or better than Henry, or that he’ll achieve what Henry did.

    It’s hard evidence, and an indication of potential based on data from more than just the last performance.

  24. @Para,
    It’s always been like that. I’ve followed Arsenal since the middle 1930’s and following those heady days, although we’ve won a lot we have never retained a championship.
    Supporting Arsenal is not for the fainthearted. 😉

  25. I understand the desire to retrieve a two-goal deficit and having halved it, why the players were eager to level the scores. But they forgot that the complexion of the tie had already changed, the result needed to progress was so much more achievable and the belief that they needed so much easier to instil. Now they must attack more ruthlessly than before as well defending more disciplined than they have managed. Do you seriously believe they can do that? I don’t.

  26. I’m not going to bore anyone with any game analysis, we all saw it, I think.

    A couple of early goals for Arsenal , and it could’ve been a very different post game reaction.
    Here’s the thing though. Even if Henry, I mean Giroud( sorry Tony, couldn’t resist) scores from one of his chances, or Welbeck for that matter, can anyone honestly say we are not conceding the goals we did.

    Here’s my point. I’m all for supporting the manager and the players, but some Arsenal players are just not good enough at this level.

    I have withheld my judgment on Ospina up to this point , but can anyone honestly say Ospina is the future of Arsenal goalkeeping?
    Probably not.
    I know we aren’t suppose to be competing for talent with Chelsea or Man City, but there are other PL clubs with better keepers than ours.

    When building a title wining team , you build from the back and start with a ” positive ” asset goalkeeper. Meaning , a keeper who can consistently outperform the average. Neither of our keepers does that. For every spectacular game Szczesny has ever had , he would have a Southampton like performance. Ospina doesn’t look any better.

    If your are stacked up with world beaters at every position like Real Madrid , then you can afford a keeper like Casillas.
    Arsenal aren’t.

    We still lack balance in the midfield. I talked about it before, so I won’t waste time doing it again.

    A lot has been said about the manager and his tactics for this game.
    I didn’t think they were terrible.
    But here’s an interesting statistic.
    Arsene Wenger’s winning percentage in CL since the invincibles is over 50% and on par with Mourinho’s and other CL winning managers, but that’s in group stages.
    Go past the group stages and Wenger’s drops to 35% , while Mourinho’s, SAF or even Benitez’ stays the same.
    That doesn’t bode well for our future chances in this competition .

  27. The problem is that this is a performance that you knew Arsenal had in them. Recent weeks have been unconvincing in part, this dragged all their failings into one bad night at the office. The trouble is, I expect them to have more this season. We saw in the last fifteen minutes at Selhurst Park how timid they can be in defence and god knows Leicester caused enough problems recently.

    Rising to third place ought to have given them confidence. Instead, it bred arrogance, a sense they think it’s their right to be in that position. It overlooks that they relied on the failings of others as much as their own ability to get where they are. Is it a false position? Last night’s performance would indicate that to be the case.

    Ordinarily you can take some positives from a defeat, see that there was something to work with but there’s nothing from this one worth looking at in such a light. Whatever passion the players have for the game was noticeable by its absence yesterday. And don’t mention pride in playing for Arsenal; they had none

  28. We are receiving a number of sarcastic commentaries the essence of which is “the manager clearly hasn’t got a clue about how to set up a team tactically, that his ability to motivate his players is conspicuously lacking” and so on.

    It has the looks of a campaign from one emailer, with a few others joining in, and I’m not publishing them.

    Untold’s view is simple:

    As the preview said, February’s results show us having played five and won four. Scored 12, let in four. Fair enough.

    January’s results were played five, won four. Scored 10, let in four.

    These are not the results of a manager who has no idea how to manage.

    Further, the statements against the manager are invariably made without any evidence (countering the figures given above for example). They are always broad generalisations which we have seen here many times before.

    And that’s the point. We’ve seen them before, and publishing them again would be rather dull and boring.

  29. Henry B:
    I find your posting teaches two worthwhile points:
    First you say:
    “As you indicated there really is no purpose in analysing what happened to pretty much everyone in that game, especially when deep disappointment is still coursing through one’s veins.” Whatever the reason, I couldn’t disagree more. Every Arsenal player and Arsene are analyzing the abject performance and to the good if we are to move forward. You advise not to do so. That, imo, is part of the problem at hand.
    Second you say: “We need variety in midfield, we need balance and not just in last night’s game – hopefully the next midfielder we purchase will be some one like Kondogbia. Too much to ask?” This, imo, is spot on! Part of the solution and a long-standing need that only gets more gaping as the big games appear. Coquelin is fine and a keeper; but the love for the “miracle find” that fixes the deep problem which the top side find out and exploit will simply not do. Only magical thinking and knee-jerk tribalism continue to mask the real and abiding need for a proper high-level physical DM with nous. Yes, another Veira. Not easy, but Coquelin, at least now, is not the answer.
    More analysis, please. And thank you.

  30. Last night was just the latest in the litany of big games where Arsene Wenger has been found wanting. Monaco rolled into town with 1/2 their squad missing, pulled our pants down, laughed in our faces and trooped off back to their millionaires hideaway.

    We didn’t deserve to lose 3-1 but that fact that we did was of no surprise to many as we’ve seen it way too many times before.

    A bit of bad luck mixed in with poor habits and Hey Presto! you’re facing elimination against the (supposedly) weakest team left in the CL.

  31. Mr. Attwood,
    Now that dull and boring is an operative editorial standard for ommission/deletion, I would offer that “explanations” such as “these things will happen” and “a bad day at the office” ought to be excluded as well as your other targets for exclusion. Perhaps, then, a premium here would be placed on evidence and analysis as you appear to applaud and demand.

  32. Wenger talks about naivety & suicidal-well I’m feeling suicidal this morning and many on here are being naive.

    Talk about players not being “up for it” last night is ridiculous. The CL is a competition that all the players want to perform in. When players don’t have a clue how to go about winning a match they can often be accused of lacking passion and not being “up for it” because they’re at a loss as to what to do on the pitch.

    Could they have been tired? Maybe, that would have been a more plausible excuse rather than not being “up for it”. The simple fact was that Monaco had a gameplan that nullified most of our attacking threats, exposed our (well known) weaknesses and took advantage of whatever good fortune came their way.

    Furthermore, talk about this player & that player not being good enough. We lost to a team that’s 4th in Ligue 1 who were missing 1/2 their senior players-if our players aren’t as good as who were representing Monaco last night then those in charge of recruitment at Arsenal need to be fired forthwith .

  33. Tony
    Please stop the comparisons between Giroud and Henry. Henry had 0.54 goals per game in his first three years at Arsenal whereas Giroud’s at 0.43 goals per game. Choosing a metric- ie. league goals upto 84 games- so that their stats match is quite convenient. Convenient because Henry had a sizeable European tally. Another reason why this comparison is silly is that Henry was not a target-man like Giroud. He almost always played in a front two. All else being equal, Giroud’s tally should have been higher.
    I dont buy all the nonsense on Giroud everytime he has a bad game- and yesterday, he was appalling- but when you try to counter it with ‘hard data’ to somehow prove that he is on par with Henry, the argument loses substance. Giroud has been an extremely important player for us in the last 2.5 years and one bad game doesn’t take away all that, but he is not and will never be the player that Henry was.

  34. In a way Monaco remind me of our run to the final in 2006. In our group we only conceded 2 goals. Monaco even only 1. We scored a bit more goals in the group.

    But in our run to the final we didn’t let in one goal. A 2-0 win on aggregate against Juventus, 1-0 against Real Madrid, 1-0 against Villareal. So our defending carried us to the final. Despite us scoring only 4 goals in 6 matches we got to the final because we defended like Monaco almost did yesterday. And missing players? I think we used almost 10 left backs in that period.

    They also played a bit like we did with TH being the man to finish things off when needed like he did when he countered against Real Madrid.

  35. I don’t know that the goals/games comparison of Giroud and Henry really looks good for Olivier. Thierry had just turned 22 when he joined Arsenal, Giroud was turning 26 very early in his first season at Arsenal. Henry was still well short of his peak years, and while he was very good, he wasn’t anywhere near the player he became several years into his Arsenal stay.

    It’s just not reasonable to compare the two players’ early numbers at the club, as Henry at the same stage of his Arsenal career was barely 24 years old, with a typical footballers’ best years ahead of him. Giroud was acquired in the peak years of his career, and while there’s little reason to think a noticeable dropoff will be coming in the next 2-3 years, there’s also no reason to expect that he’ll suddenly develop into a world class player. He is what he is at this point, and that’s not Thierry Henry or anything close.

  36. Well whatever happened yesterday left all Arsenal supporters confused/shocked/frustrated including me. Monaco were never really pressing in the first half and they just kept their positions inviting us forward. The times that they had possession were due to our bad passing and lack of runs going forward, and confusing teamwork (because many players who were in good positions never got ball).

    And when they had the ball, all our players jumped on to one single Monaco player like it happened in the 2nd and 3rd goal, leaving our whole defensive area empty 🙁

    What I felt is that the Arsenal players took Monaco for an easy team. Leaving all the negativity aside, all of our supporters should just vent our anger/frustrations somewhere else, because it never helps when a fans criticize (really bad way) collectively. It only scars the wound further that we suffered and also helps the media to add salt to the wound.

    So taking Walter and Tony for example, we should pray and hopeful that the team sticks together and be present on the mentally and physically for next games.

  37. I’ve had it.

    The one thing worse than Arsenal losing a big game, after having played badly, which hurts greatly, is all the f*cking idiots coming on here (and I dread to think what some of the moaning sites are like today) stating that because of that ONE match, the manager should be fired, the players should be dropped/sold and so on.

    It is complete lunacy.

    Get behind the f*cking team and manager and SUPPORT them. This is the time when they need our support beyond all else. Unfortunately, I can’t make the Everton game but I sincerely hope that EVERYONE there supports them.


  38. Sadly I think an early set back against Everton and the atmosphere will be poisonous . Usama said that supporters are confused/shocked/frustrated . He is right and they are also fragmented and that split is likely to boil over to more Stoke station scenarios. I was there on the night of the Leeds bonfire , I don’t anticipate that reaction yet but gauging the atmosphere on the lower tier sometimes ,the situation is building unpleasantly towards fisticuffs.

  39. There’s been a lot of commentary about the tactics v Monaco but no suggestions from the geniuses. Alexis missed a sitter, Giroud 3, Welbeck 1. What’s the score if they go in? Did the lack of tactics or poor tactics create those opportunities? It was a bad performance by the entire side to be sure. What the hell was the BFG doing trying to win the ball back in Monaco’s end? That’s inexcusable from a player with his experience, and of course, Berbatov buries it. There does seem to be a psychological fragility about the squad for the last few years. The Manager? The type of player the Manager chooses? I certainly don’t know. Let’s finish as high in the table as we can and fight to retain the FA Cup. That’s plenty to play for the rest of the season. Take it out on Everton. COYG.

  40. Every Arsenal fan who on this reading this article, lets put this bad result and performance behind us and continue with our daily lives just like every other day and continue supporting club. And lets not forget the clubs motto “Victory Through Harmony”. And we as fans of the club need to show the harmony/unity/solidarity.

  41. @Tony

    The whole team was shockingly poor but I’m going to stick up for Ozil. Yes he was poor along with the others but he was trying, my word he was trying his best. It was not through lack of effort on his part that we failed. Perhaps it doesnt come across on TV. Really if somebody goes and watches him play, even on a bad day and doesnt recognise that he is a class act then there is no point discussing anything further with them from a football point of view. Bergkamp had his off days…many of them!

    Onwards and upwards.

  42. @ pete

    Well said.

    the team will Surely bounce back.

    And the moaners will b again left to rue there anti Arsenal behaviour like it always happen.

  43. we lost because we played badly, good players do not become rubbish overnight get over it. I feel sorry for Everton on Sunday they will feel the backlash.

  44. @ Gooner S
    Totally with you there about Ozil. He kept trying and for once, his passes didn’t work. Wretched G Neville was on his case from the start – out of order. Nobody came out of this game with any credit, but after the anger and frustration of last night, I am just focussing on the Everton game now. The guys can put their game together again.

  45. The whole Giroud v Henry comparison is an insult to Henry and a needless burden on Giroud. If there was a member of The Invincibles that Giroud might be compared with, it’s Kanu. The Nigerian was tall, even taller than Giroud, scored a lot of goals for Arsenal (like that time when we didn’t lose at Camp Nou or that incredible hat-trick against Chelsea) but was hardly a guy that would have led us to trophies on his own.

    Using stats to prove a shaky hypothesis is easy. Here are two:

    1) Francis Jeffers was better striker in big away games than Thierry Henry. Proof: Jeffers had won more games with Arsenal at the Old Trafford (1) than Henry (0).

    2) William Gallas – accused for having a disruptive influence here at UA – has been the best Arsenal skipper since Paddy Vieira. Proof: our best league campaign in a decade has been the one in which Bad, Good, Ugly Gallas was our captain. He also scored big goals during the campaign – the one for our victory over Chelsea and the late equalizer against United.

  46. @tom

    have had to concentrate on a couple of issues here at Mike T. Towers.

    As an aside looks like we will make a big annoucemt tonight rumour is that it’s a new shirt sponsor With a massive £40 million annual payment although I will wait till the numbers are confirmed before I get too excited

  47. @Tony,
    Thank you for a reasonable and rational write up!

    Our players for whatever reason did not perform to their capabilities. All we can do is continue to support the team until they get right. Everyone wants to criticize Wenger’s tactics, but forget the beginning of both the 1st and 2nd half Arsenal started great when Wenger’s tactics are most likely to be followed. After that, I think they players completely switched off and tried playing their own game and got burnt for it. Maybe this will be the lesson that gets the players in line, follow the actual tactics, and play the way they are capable of playing. Arsenal has gone through similar bad spells in February the last few years, then all of a sudden click to finish strong. I hope that will be the case again this year.

  48. This commentary has been cut.

    Editor’s views…

    Oliver you are just repeating issues that others have said many times before, but without any statistics or evidence.

    The fact (and this is a statistical fact not an opinion) is that Arsenal has a win ratio for December JAnuary and February of over 70% which is amazing.

    Trying to generalise out of one (admittedly very bad) defeat without any evidence to back up what you say doesn’t really get us very far at all.

  49. There are no easy teams in the last 16 of the Champions League. No ‘moderate’ teams. There are a bunch of pundits talking up the EPL as the best in the world because that’s what keeps them in clover, so for the EPL to be as brlliant as the money it makes there has to be two or three good European teams, and a bunch of nobodies, and any EPL team can whack those nobodies, and go out to the 2 or 3 best club teams in the world.

    Monaco belong to the nobodies. Even on this EPL fantasy island this logic doesn’t hold. Chelsea 2 Bradford City 4. Any team of nobodies can beat any team in a Cup competition. That’s football. At the moment it’s halftime and Arsenal trail.

  50. I like that Tony – the Arsenal win ratio for December, January and February is over 70%. So not a rubbish team, and not a rubbish manager. Astonishing (or not?) to see journalists suggesting Arsene Wenger deserves the sack after this one defeat.

    A very balanced article based on life experience, not some blueprint dreamed up out of nowhere.

    I’m specially glad of the information about Ozil’s performance from some contributors. It is just unfair and ridiculous that he always seems to get undeserved stick. Is there a secret agenda?

  51. Ozil has been crap but hey keep making excuses thats all you ever do.Bet you slagged off Torres as well.Madrid REALLY missed him not.Oh they are all queuing up to buy him aren’t they? Can’t admit Wenger wasted 42 mill on him what with Arsenal being SO skint and all.Oh but mere mortals don’t understand Ozil do they,only sophisticated types like you and Wenger.Keep criticising other teams though and sticking up for the useless overpaid overrated Wenger.Funny when United knock us out of the Cup.team mirrors its manager.gutless,clueless pathetic.

  52. I hope the loss does not drag us into the mud. I just got so frustrated yesterday and I expected them to have learnt their lesson. The 1st 90mins is as important as the last. Wenger told them- it didn’t just stick.

  53. The answer my friend ……

    At the National Art Gallery in Dublin, a husband and wife were staring at a portrait that had them completely confused.
    The painting depicted 3 black men totally naked, sitting on a bench. Two of the figures had black penises, but the one in the middle had a pink penis.

    The curator of the gallery realized that they were having trouble interpreting the painting and offered his personal assessment. He went on for over half an hour explaining how it depicted the sexual emasculation of African Americans in a predominately white, patriarchal society. ‘In fact’, he pointed out, ‘some serious critics believe that the pink penis also reflects the cultural and sociological oppression experienced by gay men in contemporary society?.

    After the curator left, an Irishman approached the couple and said, ‘Would you like to know what the painting is really about?
    ‘Now why would you claim to be more of an expert than the curator of the gallery, asked the couple?
    ‘Because I am the artist, who painted the picture,’ he replied. ‘In fact,
    there are no African Americans depicted at all. They’re just three Irish coal miners. The guy in the middle went home for lunch.

  54. ljb, for your information I repost this about Özil

    1. fact: Stats about distance covered in the match yesterday:
    1. Moutinho 11.78 km
    2. Dirar 11.40 km
    3. Özil 11.38 km.
    4. Kondogbia 11.26
    5. Fabinho 11.02

    That is the top 5. One Arsenal player in it. “Lazy” Özil. Really crap isn’t it.

    2. fact : Özil scored 4 goals after only taking 6 shots on goal. Oh and from the 5th shot Walcott could score in the rebound. Really crap player isn’t he.

    3. fact: In his first matches Özil since coming back from injury: – 5 games – 3 goals – 2 assists Involved in a goal per game. yeah sure the mark of a crap player.
    4. fact: Mesut Özil has scored as many goals (4) as Falcao or Di María this season despite being injured for three months.

    Yeah, you are right. He is crap.

  55. Ozil is obviously not crap. Whether he is what this Arsenal team needs is another argument. To me Ozil is the sort of player who is far more effective when surrounded by half a dozen world class players which we don’t have. Ozil prefers to be carried than carry a team I feel whereas Sanchez is more comfortable doing the latter, though I’m sure no footballer wants that burden but sometimes one player in one game can motivate a sluggish team and I wonder if Ozil has ever done this? Having said that I’d rather we had Ozil than no Ozil but I do think the priority for the team should have been a Pogba/Kondogbia type player.

  56. Laughing Lizard can claim ‘Ozil prefers to be carried’ immediately after Walter has listed all that information about Ozil’s performance.

    Did he even read it? Or is rational argument not what it’s all about?

    Well, I’ll be noting that information down anyway, to have it to hand when idiots who don’t use their brains criticize Ozil. We’re privileged and lucky to have him.

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