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Arsenal under pressure

by Blacksheep

Pressure drop – we’re feeling it

One of my favourite genres of music is Jamaican ska and reggae and one of the best exponents of this I’ve had the privilege to see live are Toots and Maytals. Arguably their breakthrough song was Pressure Drop, recorded in 1969. The Clash have covered this, and probably the Specials too so you may have heard it (Tony might even have danced to it).

Anyway, it goes like this

I said a pressure drop, oh pressure, oh pressure’s gonna drop on you (Oh yeah)

I said a pressure drop, oh pressure, oh pressure’s gonna drop on you (Oh yeah)

I said a when it drops oh you gonna feel it

Oh that you were doin’ it wrong, wrong, wrong (Oh yeah)

Now when it drops oh you gonna feel it (Oh yeah)

That you were doin’ it wrong and how.

It’s not a song about football but for me it’s about that point at which things have built up and you are going to be caught out (in this case probably caught out by the law, the police).

I think Arsenal have reached the pressure drop point and our season is now going to turn on how we (or rather they) cope with this.

I watched the game on Sunday and was apoplectic at times. United played quite well but we all saw they were there to be beaten. Until they scored we were pretty comfortable and it just seemed a matter of time.

Then Theo overplayed the ball and the defense got caught out. United pounced and the game turned.

The pressure on us to be favorites was there for all to see. M. Wenger might have dismissed the suggestion that this was weakened United after the game (they cost millions to assemble he reminded the press) but look at the team they put out.

My Twitter feed was laughing at their subs bench; the game was won before we kicked off. We were going to annihilate them in their backyard.

It was going to be glorious.

Sadly it’s never a good idea to crow before the event and United rammed all that arrogance and misplaced optimism back down our collective throats. How their fans much have enjoyed that victory.

So what of pressure, why did we find that so hard and what does this mean for the title chase and the end of the season?

I’m not a psychoanalyst or a member of the press pack so I can’t tell you how the players think or what they feel. But I can make an educated guess.

We lost to Barcelona from a position of some comfort. For an hour I wasn’t worried watching in the North Bank. Then it all went horribly wrong.

This seems (to me) to be a fragile Arsenal side. We are in the race for three (well ok, two) trophies but when have we really pulled up trees this season? Against United at home perhaps… one or two other occasions? Maybe.

Keep winning and the confidence grows – look at Leicester and Sp*rs.

Fail to score, lose, or draw matches you should win and that must affect your mentality. The pressure builds and at some point there will be consequences.

If we add to this the reality of Chelski, Liverpool and United being out of the title race already and this becomes OUR BEST CHANCE OF THE PL in years. And that’s what pretty much every pundit seems to be saying.

By contrast LCFC and ‘them down the lane’ have had little pressure on them. Not that many people expected Leicester to stay up, let alone finish in a CL position. Now they might win the league!

Tottenham – the serial underachievers – seem to have found a steely determination and strength of character along with unprecedented levels of fitness and good luck with injuries (true of LCFC too). Pochetinno  has got them playing as a team and playing for 93 minutes.

In short then Leicester and Sp*rs are performing above the sum of their parts and quietly keep the pressure at bay. They may both falter in the final 10 or so games (let’s hope so) but we cant rely on it.

And then there is Citeh. A trophy under the belt does wonders for morale, and Kompany is back too. They know all about pressure and even seem to have cracked the European game.

So I think Arsenal have reached the pressure drop point – somehow we need to find a way to push through this and simply (I say simply because it is simple, if not easy) win all our remaining games.

Beat Swansea, beat Sp*rs, then the two Wests (Ham and Brom), Everton, Watford, Palace, Sunderland, Norwich, Citeh, and finally Villa*. Do that and pray that the others slip up and come May we’ll be champions.

Yes I’d like to beat Hull and Watford in the cup (and Barca away – as if!) but the real test of this team is not winning a third FA cup (amazing and almost unprecedented as that would be) it is overcoming the pressure that comes with a favorites tag.

Do that Arsenal and I think multiple trophies will follow, including that elusive Champions’ League silverware.

Crumble and I think we’ll see this team (that promises so much) be broken up and end up back in a race for 4th spot next season with Liverpool and United.

And I don’t want that so come on your Gunners, let’s face the demons and put a league-winning run together. Starting now.

Recent posts


  • 2 March 1998: WHU 0 Arsenal 0.  27th league game of the 2nd Double season.  The game was part of a run of six in which Arsenal won each game 1-0, except for this goalless draw.    The second double: part 1, part 2, part 3.
  • 2 March 2002: Newcastle 0 Arsenal 2.  League match 28 of the 3rd Double season.  Bergkamp received a low pass from Pirès and under pressure from Nikos Dabizas, he controlled the ball with one flick and went around the defender the other way and put the ball into the net.  It is regularly voted as one of the two greatest Arsenal goals of all time.

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The latest Untold book is Arsenal: The Long Sleep 1953-1970 with a Foreword by Bob Wilson, available both as a paperback and as a Kindle book from Amazon.   Details of this and our previous and forthcoming titles can be found at Arsenal Books on this site.


29 comments to Arsenal under pressure

  • para

    Let’s get that handbrake off and start to motor on lads.

  • Pete

    Have been hiding the last few days. Sunday’s defeat was a real kick in the guts. Unfortunately, we are not playing well – Walcott, Gabriel, Sanchez and Ramsey all way below par. But I know that on our day we are better than any team in the country. Just need to click together – and get some positive momentum. Hopefully tonight.

    More broadly, very relieved to see Oliver on Saturday. But saddened to see that Santi has had a setback. We REALLY miss him.

    C’mon boys!

  • thierryhenry22

    Hard to disagree.

  • WalterBroeckx


    Santi posted this on his facebook account a few minutes ago

    Sorprendido por las noticias aparecidas en la prensa, los plazos de la recuperación van según lo previsto. Estaré el 1 de abril a disposición del equipo.

    Surprised by the piece of news appeared in press, deadlines are going as planned. I will be ready on 1st April. ‪#‎workinghard‬

  • john

    Arsene Wenger is under pressure,real pressure after he decided this squad was big enough and good enough that he didn’t have to add to it.For all those who said we didn’t have anywhere near the ammount to spend as some read this-

    Arsenal have more cash than any other club in world football and still he refuses to spend..

  • Pete

    Thanks Walter.

    Still a month away though… and would be unrealistic to expect him to be at full power straight away.

    I wonder how close Jack is?

  • Mandy Dodd

    I really hope that is true about Santi…and that Jack back soon as well. At the moment, some of our MF is not always working so well…we need these ball players.
    I do not think this team lack heart, we have world cup winners, a player who carried his nation too triumph, players who have worked their way up from the lower reaches of French football, a player who has recovered from one of the worst injuries I have seen on a pitch, a guy present at an Egyptian tragedy but who was able to forge ahead with his career.
    We just have a bit of an imbalance in MF, a few players out of form, not helped by this imbalance.
    But whatever it is, we need to get back on form….it will come, just will it be in time.
    The pundits are embarrassing themselves over Spurs and Leicester when they are not throwing vitriol at Arsenal….very surprised they are ignoring a petro behemoth just below them who seem to be coming into form. A team full of decent players who will need to impress an incoming manager. Maybe the media are trying to take the pressure off City?

  • rich

    Very good and, frankly, a bit ominous.

    What got to me wasn’t the poor defending for the goals, or even how much we struggled when dribbling, it was that , after a good start, the players didn’t seem to know how to go about the game.

    They must have expected that Sanchez and Theo would probably lose the ball any time they were pressed, that Danny is best running forward in the final third with just one man against him, and so they seemed to share my uncertainty and doubt about what to do. That was in the offing before we conceded but afterwards it became more pronounced. It wasn’t a team built to retain possession well, nor one to sit back and defend and then look for breaks.

    Can anyone think of what was necessary for those players to perform really well as a team in that game? Sharper tackling, more energy, quicker passing, cleverer passing, better retention of possession from the front four, one or more players occupying a different part of the pitch generally? I’m not convinced by any of that.

    The stuff about leaders is basically nonsense to me. Who could have said what to who out there to get them positioning themselves differently or playing differently?

    I think we may have to gamble on Elneny central, Ramsey right, or even the wildcard of introducing Chambers to the midfield, such was how wrongly that team functioned, in my opinion. Not quite knowing what you are as a team nor how to approach the game is surely a lot worse than any number of poor individual errors. The former is what it looked like to me against Utd.

    Anyway, I guess Swansea is a different task- at home and with them sitting very deep- maybe we can get fluency going and restore some confidence.

    I obviously hope I am badly misreading things and that the tension and whatnot has got the better of me. My feeling,though, is that something was fundamentally wrong on Sun and that an equally fundamental, or radical, change is probably the best chance of correcting it while we are without Santi and Arteta.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Agree on your MF proposal Rich, I think moving a more defensive player into the centre , and Ramsey into a more attacking role could help no end.
    Not blaming individual players, but convinced our problems stem from instability in MF, which in itself exposes the defence, making them nervous…and prone to mistakes, and is maybe also not helping out of form attacking players
    Nerves are an issue…we …not for the first time are in a phase where we seem to be punished for virtually every mistake made. Think 3 out of the 3 of Coq, Elneny, Chambers could really help this team, especially at WHL but might go against what seems to be wengers dislike of fielding 2 more defensive MFs. .But I think he needs to do something with the MF.
    In addition, I thought Wenger made a subtle but slightly pointed remark about communications, mentioning the speed at which Gabriel is picking up English. Monreal has mentioned how getting a command of English really improved him, if there are any deficiencies…and at Utd, looked as though there could be, maybe the potentially excellent Gab needs to increase his homework.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Is Arteta actually injured or just out of favour?

  • MoW

    there’s a bit in Tony Adams’ autobiography where he explains how, in Arsene’s first title winning year, the squad and the manager all got together and had an honest chat, about halfway through the season. the outcome was that the senior players felt the midfield weren’t protecting the back four enough. we were playing too open and it made us vulnerable. they made changes and we won the league. i keep thinking of this passage every year. becuase it seems like we still have this issue when we attack. i think it’s a wenger issue generally. sometimes we seem to correct it, when we occaisionally get a solid away win vs a big team, eg. city. but i think it haunts us still. we’re soft in the middle. our DMs aren’t disciplined enough, and nowadays it’s made worse because our FBs bomb forward. our back four is left exposed too often when we go forward.

    on top of that, we have other issues. when we don’t have the ball we’re very passive. we don’t press that well, consistently, especially at home vs ordinary teams. and having a good pressing game seems to be very fashionable these days. city have the same problem. sitting back was great at home vs Bayern. it’s noticeable that we do well vs city. they’re also passive and their style is a good match for us. i think out tactical shape in midfield is all over the place and we haven’t a clue how to make it work effectively when we transition. this is why our form is bad and our performances have been dour for months. our team is very much less than the sum of it’s parts this season, unlike spurs or leicester. i can’t see wenger fixing it this week.

  • Gord

    Nice to see Santi refute those news reports I seen last night.

    I hope Brickfields, and all the other Gooners in the west Pacific are okay. Brief tsunami alert, which has been cancelled as near as I can tell. 7.8 or 7.9 earthquake about 10km down, off west coast of Sumatra was source. Doesn’t look like there is much land in the immediate vicinity.

    Maybe Mike Riley 😈 was vacationing down there?

  • rich


    Arteta must be injured, surely. Last mention I heard was from the open day and he was training away from group with Gnabry.

    About Gabriel and communication- it’s not easy to think of any foreign defenders with little or no English who have really hit the heights in their first year. Carvalho, maybe? He did have a Portuguese boss and rb to help him out,though, and drilling a defence is prob Mourinho’s main strength.

    I was well in favour of Gab replacing Per as first choice for many games ( big games where we didn’t intend to sit pretty deep) but Sun suggested I was wrong there, for this season at least.

    Think I might have struggled to take in the replays on the day but it looked a very strange choice not to mark Rashford for the 2nd. I’d love it if defenders did the same with Giroud but he almost always has someone glued to him.

    No dodgy streams or anxious twitter-watching for me this evening. Going to keep everything crossed, wish for the best, then check score when it’s done. Let’s just hope I’m watching Match of The Day an hour later!

  • Zedsaunt

    Missed Toots live. The first occasion I heard ‘Pressure Drop’ was Copenhagen early 70s, in the movie ‘The Harder They Come, The Harder They Fall’ Jimmy Cliff’s classic, Toots’s ‘Pressure Drop’ absolutely essential for the movie. Take the pressure, the harder they come, the harder they fall.

    The manager chooses the team, I watch the game. Every time I open a paper or go online I see some towering giant telling me Wenger’s got to go. Not a single one can explain how Leicester are top of the EPL.

    How are they going to deal with next season? As a meat market this summer – a 24 nation Euro tournament simultaneous with TV dosh windfall for every Premiership club.

    The minimum requirement in the Euro championship will be – stay compact, keep your shape, park the bus, simultaneous with every defender in Europe playing for that TV dosh in the EPL.

    The desired attacker will be the chap who can score at the rate of one goal at every 1.53 chances. Shave the percentage. Measure composure. Cost of such attacker – start at 50, 60 million and go on up.

    Next season it will be even harder for any team to beat any other team. What will the massed ranks of punditry say to that?

  • Polo

    @ John, it’s a cash reserve like the money in your bank account. Obviously you wouldn’t spend all the money in your bank account on clothing right? You have to leave money for something call ‘bills’ and unexpected events/incidents/emergency. Now if you went and spend all those cash on clothing how are you going to pay for your living expenses like utility bills, food, mortgage and the likes?

    In Arsenal’s case, they will need to have enough money in the cash reserves to cover future liabilities such as employees entitlements, capital expenditures, debt repayments include transfer installments still owing, and other recurring expenses. Also, they will need to leave cash for unexpected emergency or incidents such as lawsuits or downturn in the economy.
    Arsenal want to be a financially responsible club and to be self sustaining, to achieve this they will need to have money in the reserves.

    You bang on about AW doesn’t spend but from the article it say the club has spent over £100 million on players, Ozil and Sanchez combine is around £70 million and I’m not sure if that include their salary.

    All these reports floating around on how much AW have for transfers are just pure speculations, nobody know the real amount except for people who are involve in this at Arsenal.

  • porter

    I am not an accountant and find the finer points of these reports hard to follow but I think this report covers most eventualities.

  • Menace

    john – News just in Wenger wanta a john outside Arsenal station. So you’re in mate. Every Arsenal fan will spend spend spend a penny or two on you.

    Gord – might be my mate john had an Arsenal fan break wind

  • GG

    I’m fed up with all the talk about money etc. let’s get behind the team 100%

  • Gord

    Menace 🙂

    It looks like the epicentre was about as far from Cocos Island, as it was from Sumatra.

    Oh well, I better get back to shopping in China (AliExpress). Too many pages of stuff (resistors, capacitors, diodes, …) to look at.


  • Menace

    porter – you’ve got a job too – porter loo. Get in there quick & you might come out with an accounts degree.

  • proudkev

    John (and your many pseudonyms),

    When I was young I remember a relative, my uncle I think, gave me £20.00. It was a decent amount back then. I went straight out and spent it on a variety of useless things, including a couple of Penthouse mags off the top shelf. A couple of days later I pulled a girl at a school disco. She wanted to go out to the pictures (cinema) but I couldn’t take her, as I’ld spent all my money. My mate, who I was with, offered to take her instead and he ended up getting a right good seeing too after the movie. This girl was game, let me tell you! I was absolutely gutted. There I was looking at pictures in a Penthouse magazine, living in a world of fantasy while my mate was enjoying the pleasure of the real thing.

    So the moral of this story should be obvious.

    A cash Reserve can be used for many things of course but it’s really a short-term or emergency fund. It’s there as a back up, perhaps a disaster fund because it’s not to be spent except in emergency situations. In many cases finance companies will insist that a company operates a ‘cash reserve’, because it acts as security for the lender. You may want to consider the bond issue. You see, sometimes it is a condition of a loan.

    Of course you can dip into the cash reserves but the idea that it is ‘spare cash to be spent on players’ is actually hilarious. If you really believe that, you need to wake up and come to terms with the fact that you don’t know as much as you and your multiple personalaties think you do.

    Gazidis said: “It is quite untrue that we are sitting on a huge cash pile for some unspecified reason. The vast majority of that cash is accounted for in various ways.”

    Bear in mind Arsenal net cash outlay was £69m, with another £9m on the training ground improvements plus £14m servicing the ‘debt’ (£6m in interest payments and £8m for repaying the loan), you can see we are spending money and not hoarding it. Yes there is money to spend but not the mammoth sums Wobettes are making out for their agenda.

    Recycling stuff you don’t understand is irritating and a poor way to debate mate.

    Living in a world of fantasy is fine but as my story in the first paragraph demonstrates – if you’re not careful it can make you look a complete w++kr.

  • proudkev


    Great piece mate, very well put.

    I am a massive reggae fan, Toots, Marley, Steel Pulse, Gregory Isaacs, Third World. (The latters Journey to Addis album set me on the way). John Holt playing ‘Strange Things’ is one of my all time greats.

    Good luck tonight boys and good luck West Ham!

  • ob1977

    I understand what you and nearly everyone is saying about this being our best chance, or other “top teams” are all struggling so this should be our title, for me the problem is the “top teams” are dropping points against the “lesser teams” because the “lesser teams” now have the talent to compete, and the “top teams” caught up in multiple competition struggle to keep runs going, we unfortunately aren’t immune to this phenomenon…

  • Rantetta

    Thing is, ProudKev,

    you seem to have learned some lessons from missing out on that particular girl,/’spending the fark’ng money’.

    What happened to the girl, and your friend, in the long term?

    There was a guy who sang “Pressure” at The Constituion, St Pancras.
    I don’t know his name. He passed away last year, unfortunately.

  • Va Cong

    Proudkev and Menace take a bow you made me laugh till I cried just now! priceless! Be a good boy roasted John do one!

  • Va Cong

    Blacksheep nice articulate sexy witty article as usual! Come on Gunners show some sexy football tonight!

  • Va Cong

    By the way guys I have Sky and Bt sport, where can I watch it?!

  • John

    Menace You were funnier when you were abusing and blaming all our defeats on the referees.

  • John

    I think you should do one ladyboy!!