When lots of blogs say the same thing about Arsenal…

I do find it interesting when a theme emerges and lots of blogs, or indeed lots of journalists, all go down the same route, saying much the same thing.

One of the key blog themes at the moment, in seems to me, is the issue of the Lord Wenger’s “stubbornness”. In that everyone in the world can see it is all going wrong, everyone can see the solution (which often involves buying lots of players), but Wenger won’t budge from his line.

The point is that when such things are said over and over again, they take on a life of their own. Arsenal are in trouble because… well everyone says Arsenal are in trouble.

Of course the league table this morning makes poor reading, (unless you look at the bottom bit). But then so does the injury list, not helped by the fact that a poor run of injuries has been made worse by the maniac activities of the Lord Kitchener of football – the England manager. While the generals of 1917 sent a whole generation of young men to their death in the space of a few weeks, the England manager (and come to that the Togo manager, and last year the Dutch manager) work in different ways, but the parallel is there. Crass idiocy, and we have more players injured.

But back to the Stubborn Wenger episode. I recall many people saying that Wenger was impossibly stubborn when he played the new Thierry Henry in every game, having just signed him. It looked bizarre to many supporters (and I must admit I was bemused – a centre forward playing on the wing, a centre forward who couldn’t hit the clock, let alone the goal….)

I remember all the moans and groans about Gilles Grimandi – an unknown French player who meandered around mid-field and never seemed to do much, but was so vital to Arsenal that on one occasion he had to play two games in two days.

Part of the current argument is that Wenger is not only stubborn in playing Denilson instead of an enforcer in the middle (ie a Gilberto instead of a Flamini) it is that when players are not playing well he keeps playing them. Bendtner is an example at present.

The same was true of Pires who had a very ordinary first season – so ordinary indeed that we wondered why he didn’t go out and buy a much better player. Pires went off to the European championships and came back to win EPL player of the year and be one of the most staggeringly brilliant players we have seen. TV often failed to pick it up, but Pires could take the ball under close control and meander along the half way line, waiting for the definitive pass. If he didn’t find it, he’d wander back again, until the pass was there and Henry was off. He’d then trot down the middle while Henry took the defence off left, get the pass back and score.

So my point is that such skills from Henry, Pires, and indeed Bergkamp were not in evidence at first – we had to wait. We remember Dennis scoring goals with balls that seemed to be heading towards the corner flag before changing course and going in the goal – we forget the first season or two.

If Wenger is stubborn, then he has always been stubborn, and it has served him well. The difference we have at the moment is that

a) after years of automatically being in the top 2, we have slipped, and people have forgotten how to wait

b) the competition has intensified through clubs risking bankruptcy (I think particularly of Liverpool) just to win this year.

Of course I would like us to win things this year – and although the EPL now looks out of sight, I am anticipating some interesting cup games to come – but I also want my Arsenal to be playing football in the top division in five years, and challenging for honours. I suspect that some of the teams we see near the top will not be there at this time. The model that the owners of Manchester U and Liverpool have used has fallen short, and they are left with the debts from which they cannot recover. The model of Chelsea depends utterly on the well-being and long-term interest of one man.

In due course the notion of the Euro Final being played between two clubs who together owe over £1 billion will be just a note in history, an oddity along with the maximum wage, Robert Maxwell, and Tottenham winning the double. Those who engaged in such silliness will have gone, either removed totally from football, or just a dim memory. But we will still be there.

I guess in the end I believe in the future more than many other bloggers. But I suppose it takes all sorts.

15 Replies to “When lots of blogs say the same thing about Arsenal…”

  1. Great article again. People tend to forget that there are 19 other teams who are not going to win the EPL in a season. The best a team could do is try. As for your analysis of Henry, Pires and Bergkhamp. Although I’d want our present team to win something this year, but I’m sure next season we will give everyone a great fight. When players like Nasri, Diaby, Denilson, Vela, and Bendtner have settled in. As fans, we should continue supporting the team, instead of putting pressure on them. And hopefully many of the blogsites will be proven wrong, just as many fans were proven wrong years ago about Wengers credentials. Patience is a virtue, that remains to be seen among the fans. The quality is there to see for everyone, our squad is young, and the only way this team will go from now on is forward.

    However with the likes of Eduardo, and Rosicky to return by january. If we manage to keep the gap to 7-8 points untill then, I would have more expectations from the team. We could still nick it. That’s the beauty of our team, full of surprises. If we enjoy the good ones such as manchester game this season, than we should also be there for the team in bad times.

  2. Good points Tony and Ateeb. Patience is a virtue, one of the hardest to attain and it seems to be in very short supply at the moment. It’s easy to criticize from the outside, but real life is not like a computer game, so we have to trust Wenger to do his job and turn things around.

  3. We lost to a formidable side-
    -at their place-
    -without 4 or 5 of our regular first team players-(at least the ones healthy enough to start the season)

    Thank you Tony for this daily blog to educate my mind and calm my nerves.

  4. Very well said. Lots of bloggers, pundits and ‘fans’ out there were critisizing the team for lack of dept, lack of leadership, too young, inconsitent and all the crap, and some even call to replace Wenger. While i can understand why the pundits and bloggers reacted that way, but i fail understand why even the so called ‘hardcore fans’ of Arsenal reacted the same way, which makes me wonder whether they are REAL fans or simply glory hunter. This article is a good one and it’s the time the fans stand behind our club, our managers and our players. We know we are lack of dept and maybe lack of leadership, but we definitely look good in the long run as long as we can keep our current team together, it’s part of growing pain, and as a fan, i am ready to endure it.

  5. Good Blog Tony… I have been reading your blog for the last few weeks even though I dont comment much. I Love the way you write the blog, the passion that you have for the club.

    The current situation at our club is not a good one and it hurts a lot but that is the part of the game. U dont win every game. I too would like my club to win every single game but I know that is not possible.. I’m sure Wenger is upto somethimg magical and we wil be seeing the end result in the next couple of months or so.. The way we played until now this season is totally different from the way we played last. We have much more fluidity this season but we’re getting caught a lot more(and because of dat more goals conceded).. The problem is we havent got the proper combination of CBs yet(I would to see whether the Toure-Silvester partnership will work with djorou as a sub). If we get that sorted out we would be better equipped than now. Until den, It’ll be a little up and down season.

    Moreover, the current situation with Gallas is worsening the situation. Hopefully everything will get sorted out soon and we’ll have a better season frm this point on. I’ll always be behind the club no matter where we stand. I’ll bet my life we’ll have a good run in the Cups this season. The team as of now is more suited for Cups than the League.

  6. A big, big test tomorrow… for the fans.
    What kind of support do we really have?
    It’s easy to sing when you’re winning. It is a testing time for us all, and i hope the Emirates crowd play their part tomorrow.
    The fans of Spurs, Chelsea, United and much of the media would love it if there is booing and jeers at the Kiev game. If you want to make a Spurs fan’s day, go ahead and moan. Alternatively, you could, of course, support the Arsenal.
    By the way, a clean sheet or a win will guarantee qualification for the Champions league knock-outs. Once again we will be, at very least, one of the top 16 clubs in Europe. Sorry – I forgot, we’re in a crisis.

  7. Fabregas for captain – in my mind there is no other choice. One or two players added would be nice and those two I agree with – a centre back and a ready-to-go defensive midfielder. Possibly also a winger as Walcott is out for a while and Eboue still does not inspire confidence in me… Wenger has been playing two creative midfielders in Cesc and Denilson together and Song is not up to scratch in that position. Diaby may be ok there but I see him as more of an attacking mid as well. Gallas has to go – get out of the club I mean. We need a replacement in the form of a player who can attack balls in the box. We are fine for strikers though some may disagree because Bendtner is not yet up to scratch. I agree he has been awful lately, but with the correct selection ie. Vela, then we wouldn’t struggle so much. Please go back to a standard 4-4-2 please Wenger as no one is thriving in the hole in a 4-5-1 this season apart from one game; I think it was Fenerbache, where Diaby and Ade picked them apart.
    As for the team itself – I do still believe in them and I do not like seeing people come here saying “I told you so, Arsenal can’t/won’t win a trophy this season”. I’ve read a lot of that not directed specifically at me, but it’s simply not true. You don’t know we won’t win anything and if there is a perspective you should listen to it is one of optimism. Don’t write your own team off just yet Arsenal supporters. You are Arsenal supporters afterall…

  8. The pieces are there. Fabregas, as short of form as he has been, will find his feet again. As Fabregas goes, so goes Arsenal. Robin van Persie, as selfish and arrogant a player as he is, is a goal and assist waiting to happen. He is the unpredictable breed of player that every title-winning team requires.

    Seventy-five percent of the defence is there, all that is needed is to find the correct long-term partner for Djourou, the heir-apparent to Sol Campbell’s as-yet unreplaced role. In Adebayor, you have a world-class target man who opens up space for players like Nasri, Ramsey, Denilson, Walcott, and soon, Wilshere, to exploit. Throw in the promise of Vela, Gibbs, Randall, Simpson, Bendtner, and the numerous other young prospects, and a vast majority of a high-octane, up-tempo passing team is there. All that Arsenal lack is an adequate defensive midfielder to truly free Cesc and let him find his form, and the right leader for this team.

    Wenger’s next title-winning team will be born out of the ashes of the current calamity. He will find his true leaders and add or drop whenever he seems fit. After taking the big decision to drop Gallas, he will now have the bit between his teeth to re-hash a splintered squad. And when this current period of apparent crisis is over, however long it may be, there will be a new Arsenal team. For Wenger, the time to make the drastic decisions has become now, and he knows that.

    Whenever Wenger sorts out his house, then a new team will be born……Maybe next season then.

  9. Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to Manchester City was certainly one of the more cringeworthy games I’ve had the displeasure of witnessing in my eleven years as an Arsenal supporter. Mistakes in defence, toothless attacking and a severe lack of communication and teamwork were on display for all to see. The result and performance clearly showed that this Arsenal team are struggling to fulfill the potential their performances promised last season.

    In the first half our players were swimming up-stream a little bit but I thought they were doing so admirably. We defended reasonably well and worked hard despite a distinct lack of skill and composure when in possession. I thought that if the boys could just get to half-time at 0-0 they would take heart from their efforts and go on to win the match.

    Alas, is was not to be as Stephen Ireland capitalised on a mix-up between Gael Clichy and Mikael Silvestre to fire City to the half-time lead they deserved. From that point on our young side was never in it as City ruthlessly exploited our lack of leadership, depth and confidence; the three weaknesses that have hindered Arsenal’s progress in the first third of this season.

    It is an understatement to say that it is imperative that the weaknesses in our side – a lack of leadership, depth and confidence – are addressed by the manager as soon as possible. The first by naming an appropriate new captain, the second by making a signing or two in January and the third by ensuring that a new captain and new players have a galvanising effect on the squad.

    Although I have been strong defender of William Gallas over the past two seasons I want to make it clear that I absolutely agree with Arsene Wenger’s decision to strip the French defender of the captaincy and leave him out of the team against City. Gallas’ comments were unacceptable and he deserved to be punished the way he was. The big decision that the manager has to make now is to name an appropriate successor.

    For me there are two possible choices and Wenger faces a tough decision to pick between them. The first is the man who captained the side against City, Manuel Almunia. The second is Cesc Fabregas. The older Spaniard is a decidedly easier option than the younger one, but my opinion is that if the manager wants to see an immediate change in his squad’s mentality and togetherness then he needs to bite the bullet, take a risk and give the armband to Fabregas.

    He might only be 21 but the signs are there that Fabregas already looks more of a captain than Gallas or even Thierry Henry ever was. He is the squad’s best player, a fierce competitor and much closer in age to the majority of first-team players at the club. His appointment would have an immediate positive effect on the players Wenger is pinning his hopes for trophies on, players like Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott and Samir Nasri. Fabregas’ appointment would be a positive choice by Wenger and a clear admission that the manager is prepared to turn over a new leaf and contemplate his approach to his side.

    Fabregas’ appointment will not solve the problem of the squad’s lack of depth, however. The only way that Wenger can rectify that problem is by bringing in new players when the transfer window re-opens in January. And while I’m sure there are some of you that would like to have five or six players shipped out and replaced with big-name signings I honestly feel the manager needs to bring in just one or two players to boost the quality of the squad sufficiently enough to challenge for the title.

    Put simply, the manager needs to bring in an aggressive and defensive-minded central midfielder to play alongside Fabregas in the middle of the park as well as an experienced central-defender to replace Gallas if he leaves in January (or perhaps even if he doesn’t). Up front I think we’re fine, out wide I think we’re fine and although he cops a lot of criticism, I’m more than happy to keep Almunia in goals if he continues to play as consistently as he has over the past two seasons.

    Defensively we’ve been a shambles this year. Wenger has played something like nine different centre-back pairings this season involving Gallas, Toure, Djourou, Silvestre, Senderos and Song, which is really quite ridiculous. My opinion is that the squad needs to have four quality centre-backs to function correctly and I believe we have that if Gallas can deal with his demotion appropriately and get back to what he does best, defending.

    That may be easier said than done though and I wouldn’t be against the manager looking towards someone like Christoph Metzelder from Real Madrid or Naldo from Werder Bremen to provide quality, experienced cover for Toure, Silvestre and Djourou. Selection-wise I really feel that the manager needs to pursue with Djourou for the rest of the season. He’s been Arsenal’s most consistent centre-back in the early part of the campaign and deserves to become first-choice purely based on merit.

    Although defence is a concern the purchase of a ready-to-go defensive midfielder needs to be the manager’s top priority come January. Denilson is not a defensive-midfielder, Song is not really performing at the moment while the manager seems to be frustratingly allergic to playing Abou Diaby in a more defensive role. The lack of a reliable, hard-working and aggressive defensive-minded midfielder is hurting Cesc Fabregas and it needs to be rectified. A Claude Makelele-type player is not the answer, a Mathieu Flamini-type player is and if no-one fitting that description is bought during January then I honestly feel we’re going to have a hard job finishing fourth.

    It has been argued that bringing in new players would hinder the progress of those already at the manager’s disposal and to a certain extent, I agree. But the problem comes when the players just aren’t performing. How long can Wenger wait for players like Denilson and Song to develop? Wouldn’t it be better for him to have a quiet word with them to let them know that their performances have not quite been good enough but make it clear that the door is open for them to be recalled when they improve? I think it would.

    Until new players can be brought in there are a few changes that the manager could make to improve the results and performances of his side. The big one is handing Fabregas the captain’s armband while the others revolve around particular team selections.

    I’ve mentioned previously that players should be picked on merit and as often is realistically possible, only in their best positions. At the very minute that means playing Djourou at the back, playing Song or Diaby ahead of Denilson in the middle and Vela ahead of Bendtner up front. In saying that I don’t think Denilson or Bendtner are bad players, just that there are better options available to the manager at the moment and they don’t really deserve to maintain their place in the side. It might be harsh, but it’s best for the team and the club.

    I’m not going to shirk around the fact that this is not a fun time to be an Arsenal supporter. Nobody likes to watch their side lose or perform the way ours has at times this season, especially given the promise they showed as a unit last time campaign. But step back for a moment and realise that there are plenty of clubs’ supporters who feel this way the majority of the time and you can appreciate the privileged position we have been in for so long as Arsenal fans.

    It might be worth me saying here that despite the difficult period the club is going through I remain optimistic and positive about the future of the club. Despite his flaws we have an experienced, intelligent and loyal manager at the helm who undoubtedly deserves the chance to sort out the problems that he currently faces. Furthermore we have a group of players that – with a change in leadership and one or two additions – have the quality to challenge for the Premiership and Champions League titles in the near future. Let’s hope they can sort out their issues and get the ball moving forward once again.

  10. I have just deleted from my favorites all other blogs apart from young guns, goodplaya and goonerholic. In common with you, they all support Lord Wenger and think we have a team of good players.

    The ANR blog today is sick making (http://www.arsenalnewsreview.co.uk/), accusing LW of hollowing out Arsenal the way the neoliberals have hollowed out the US & UK economies.

    Is there any possibility that UEFA will take action against teams that cheat by buying players with money they do not have and cannot reasonably expect to pay back from their income stream? What rules does UEFA, the FA or the EPL have about the financial conditions of clubs?

  11. One of my favorite things to do is wear an arsenal shirt to work on the Monday after we lost on the weekend. I’ll accept anything some cartoon characters will throw at me and smile the same smile I give them when it’s our turn to shine =)

    Sure we’re in a bit of a fix (on the bit about getting points from our games) but there’s nothing sweet in victory without tribulations.

    I’m glad to know there are some of us who are still affectionate towards the team. That makes swallowing these losses much more tolerable.

  12. Thank you, finally someone with sense. People still seem to forget that we are playing with a very young team, and note the use of the word young, not inexperienced. There are very few 21 year olds who have made more than 100 first team appearances for their club (Cesc). The trick is that they take their development very seriously, particularly if we’re not challenging for the Premiership this season. Not that I’m saying it’s acceptable to forego the title for youth development, but it’s just one of those things.

    Also, don’t forget our Premiership form on that great run to the CL final; the Spuds nearly overtook us, and that, in my opinion was our worst domestic season I’ve seen for a long time. There is still a ways to go, and Wenger has begun to rectify our problems, i.e. Gallas. so everyone should just be patient, less fickle, and more understanding. I also feel, on some level, that Wenger made Cesc captain because he is concerned that Cesc may consider leaving to Barca at the end of this season due to lack of silverware. Having said that, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about, so long as Iniesta and Xavi are playing for Barca, as they’re the ones who would be keeping Cesc out. When either one of them leaves, that’s when I think we should worry about Cesc signing for them.

  13. “I don’t think there’s anything to worry about, so long as Iniesta and Xavi are playing for Barca, as they’re the ones who would be keeping Cesc out. When either one of them leaves, that’s when I think we should worry about Cesc signing for them.”

    Good point Josh. Cesc’s is the first name on the team sheet even before he was made captain. He is not going to give that up for a place on Barca’s bench. He will return to Spain when he will be first choice in his position. Hopefully he would have picked up a few trophies with Arsenal before then and we will be able to let him go with our thanks and best wishes.

  14. Good luck Captain Cesc.
    Let’s hope he develops into a great leader like Adams and Vieira.
    He has a tough job to start with – he is captain over some strong characters like van Persie and Adebayor, but I’m sure he will do well.

  15. People are too worried about Cesc leaving. He is under contract (until ’12?). Only way he leaves is if Wenger lets him.

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