It looks like the squad is growing

By Walter Broeckx

The only thing that is predictable when it comes to football is…that it is unpredictable. Now anyone that follows football a bit knows this but for some strange reason the people who are paid to follow football or who make a living out of following it and writing about it …..tend to not know this.

If a team is on a winning run they tend to pretend it will last forever.  Except this is not the case for when Arsenal is on a winning run of course. Then they brush it aside as being pure luck. Last week Arsenal won with 3-1 against Bournemouth. And it was down to luck. Or so proclaimed the people who know such things.

Liverpool who were having a good run of wins over the last few weeks suddenly were the team that could win the title. They still are but as happens with each team when they have a good run…it will end one day. They had a few high scores and suddenly the pundits think it will last forever. But last weekend being 3-1 after some 65 minutes against Bournemouth and then losing 4-3 at the end of the match is something that would give outrage on Arsenal supporters’ channels. It would make the pundits gloat about Arsenal being weak and not having what is needed to win the league.

I say… it is part of that unpredictable game that football is.

Chelsea is now of course the flavour of the day. Six wins in a row if not more. So cue “Chelsea will win the league”. Yet Arsenal just having their “bad November” and their “worst month in the season” behind them are only three points behind Chelsea.

Will Chelsea keep on winning? The thing is that they are not as unbeatable as they look for the moment. As I had nothing better to do last Saturday I watched a big part of their match. And I still can’t believe how Manchester City threw away that match. The Messi of City Kevin De Bruyne managed to miss an unmissable ball from only four metres out in front of an empty goal. If Man City had gone would 2-0 up at that moment the match might have been over and City would not have continued attacking as they did.

But for the moment Chelsea are winning and so they will win the title. As that is how it goes in the media.

Of course Chelsea and Liverpool are two teams who have played fewer matches than the other teams in the top four.  As they have no European matches their schedule is very light. And how much influence that has can be seen when you look at the matches after the League cup. Is it a coincidence that Liverpool collapsed in the final stages of the match against Bournemouth after they have played in midweek? Something they are not used too this season.

Arsenal had a bit of a rough period in the last weeks. The fact that we lost both Santi and Bellerin will have had a big influence on our fluidity in attack. Bellerin with his overlapping runs on the right flank is vital for our attacking game. And Santi, the little magician, who has such a big influence on our transition from defence to attack, is a player that looks rather irreplaceable.

Arsenal had to adapt to playing without them and it took a while one could say.  And cost us a few points. But with Xhaka getting better and better we seem to have overcome this handicap to a large degree. Mind you Xhaka is no Santi and is a different type of player, but against Bournemouth and now against West Ham he was pulling a lot of strings in midfield with the help of Coquelin who is one of those players that we keep on forgetting to prise for his performances. Maybe the fact he didn’t cost £30m or thereabouts is why he stays under the radar a bit. But his mad dog style is very important for this team and for the way we play.

What also is very important is the fact that our players on the bench are contributing to the team a lot. At Sunderland it was Giroud who showed his worth. Against Bournemouth the starting Oxlade-Chamberlain played a major part in a much better performance and he confirmed this with an excellent match against West Ham. Will The Ox finally make the last step up this season? He is such a talent but too many injuries kept him back for a long period. He still can have his bad moments of course but he looks to have improved both on his attacking game and on his defending.

And then we have Ramsey. Another scapegoat whenever we don’t get the desired result. But against Bournemouth he came on and had a good run out. And now again when he came on at West Ham he certainly helped in playing West Ham off the pitch in the final 15 minutes.

And with Gabriel we have found another player who can do a job at right back. I must say that against Bournemouth you could see him struggle a bit at first in knowing what he can do and what he was not allowed to do. As a central defender you don’t go rushing forward and at first he didn’t do it at the right back position. But the longer the match went on the more he got himself forward and did things I didn’t expect from him.

Finding solutions within the team is more important than bringing in new players from other teams. When it is needed, it is needed but as we have a full squad of 25 players there is no room to bring in players from the outside unless we sell some.

So far the squad is doing a good job and I like the fact they stay under the radar. Nobody talks about Arsenal as being a potential league winner. Let us just try to keep close to the leader and then hopefully when the business end of the season comes we will have all our players available for a strong run in.

From the anniversary files

5 December 2009: After a 0-3 home defeat to Chelsea Arsenal beat Stoke 2-0 to start a month of five wins and 1 draw.   It was Arsène Wenger’s 500th game in charge.

The full anniversary files for each day are shown on the home page.

19 Replies to “It looks like the squad is growing”

  1. Walter, I appreciate your positive view.

    It is a welcome counter to the negative media attitudes…ie when we win, it`s because our opponents were crap or unlucky etc. When we are brilliant it`s only because of Sanchez, who isn`t really world class anyway and only Wenger has not realised that striker is his best position …. and in any event, Arsenal will collapse sooner or later.

    Alan Smith`s constant praising of the marvellous Liverpool and Klopp contrasts sharply with his usual dreary criticism of Arsenal. This gave Sunday’s transformation from 1-3 to 4-3 all the more enjoyable.

  2. John L
    I am with you on Alan Smith. Why is he such a miserable git where Arsenal are concerned?

  3. John L & MickHazel
    It’s a mystery why ex-gunners like smith and the rest can never seem able to praise Arsenal. Even when we’re winning like we did at west ham, they’ll find negatives to focus on, or try to find how poor the opposition was to allow us to win like that. Contrast that with ex-united or Liverpool players; they never attack their former teams. I grabbed the below about how Jamie Caragher felt like dissing Osman after Liverpool blew a 3-1 lead yesterday,

    “Carragher shared a studio with former Everton stalwart Osman at Goodison Park yesterday as both watched Liverpool’s astonishing meltdown.
    In a special Facebook Live chat with Sky presenter Dave Jones today, Carragher said: “Yeah, I was devastated by Liverpool’s loss. Leon Osman was jumping around and celebrating with people in the crowd.
    “I felt like saying ‘if you weren’t as obsessed with Liverpool you might have won something, Everton.’”

    Are we ever likely to see any of our ex players say this or show this kind of passion for Arsenal? Never. Even when it’s justified they shy away from fully praising us. Yet here we see Osman and Caragher demonstrate their allegiances. None from ex gunners. And I wonder why.

    When we lost to Liverpool 4-3 in opening match we fielded Chambers and Holding, players who had not really played in those positions for us nor play together. And yet the media slaughtered us despite this. Yesterday Liverpool had to make some adjustments at the back, and we’re reminded of this even though their makeshift defence was not faced with same task as Arsenal’s. I think the way ex players for sides like Liverpool defend their team as Caragher does above, and the way ex players from Arsenal are too keen to criticise Arsenal, can explain why this pattern will always continue.

  4. Shame about Alan Smith (one of our great strikers) being such a misery. I think it’s probably because he was (and as far as I know still is) a really great friend of George Graham’s and in his own strange way is being supportive by dissing us whenever he gets the opportunity.
    We’ve got one or two that still take our side; Pires, Bergkamp, Freddie, but on the whole they seem either indifferent or plain hostile.

  5. According to today’s Daily Mail our win at West Ham meant ” Wenger’s side clung on to Chelsea’s coat-tails at the top of the table”
    Give me strength !

  6. I agree with you Leon, Pires, Bergkamp and Freddie are supportive and positive.
    Good old Bob Wilson is the one who stands out for me though, always positive and fully supports the club and manager, I have never heard him say a bad word about Arsenal.

  7. Bob Wilson. Forgot about him. Was it true that he discovered Charlie George as a pupil at the school Bob was a master at? Charlie still loves us too.

  8. Is this Alan Smith who is being talked about not formerly of Leeds United before Arsenal signed him? If am correct, it can only mean he still has Leeds Utd DNA running in him. So his been at Arsenal to ply his trade was for the money he got there.

    Arsenal is not only a potential winners of the PL title this season but will be the true winners of the title and other titles too comes what may.

    Yes, we known a winning or unbeaten run have the knack of coming to a temporary stop at a point in a season campaign. In the case of Arsenal this season, they did carved out an unbeaten run of 19 games in all applications before that Southampton backup team was allowed to halt us on our 20th run at the Ems in a League Cup match.

    And of course a scapecoat was found after the dust of the battle in the game had settled down, and he was latert given out to Azazel for sacrifice to bore all the sins the Arsenal backup team had committed in that game to be used to cleanse Arsenal from their sins. And Arsenal have been cleansed.

    At the London Stadium against the West Hammers team, a cleansed from sins Arsenal team demolished the Hammers to all our seeing. And I believe FC Basel will fall down before Arsenal in front of their partisan home fans to worship the holy Arsenal as masters of the game tomorrow undoubtedly in a Ucl encounter.
    Good night to all Untolders. I’ve had enough for today.

  9. Leon
    I don’t know whether it’s true that Bob discovered Charlie, but I am sure Tony would be able to clarify.

  10. Well, i think we really should be focusing on ex gunners who are working as pundits here. Agree the likes of Pires etc may not lambast Wenger or the club, but they are not full-time pundits and we don’t often here what their view is. Also sure we can add more to that list with people like Lehman, Gioberto, etc.

    Those that are regularly in the limelight are the ones whose views are heard more often and are likely to sway public opinion. This is people like Wright, Smith, Merson, Henry, etc. For these guys it appears as if it’s painful to praise Arsenal, and to a neutral who never watched football there’s simply no evidence they ever played for Arsenal, from listening to them.

  11. @Samuel, no, wrong Alan Smith. Ours came from Leicester and retired over 20 years ago. The one you’re thinking of went from Leeds to Man U to Newcastle, and I’m sure is still playing somewhere.

  12. Six (mostly positive) Arsenal stories in today’s online Mail including a Guardiola tap up of Sanchez claim and a bizarre suggestion by Basle coach that West Ham dominated us.
    Also The Guardian’s Barry Glendenning (The Fiver) is comparing Dele Alli with Lee, Owen, Gerrard & Young. No prizes for guessing why.

  13. Anyone ever dared to ask them the painful question – “why?”

    Instead of second-guessing them, might as well trigger a reaction, even if the risk of getting dishonest answers is considerable. At least we can have a laugh at their dishonesty. I for one can’t believe the club treated them so badly that they feel the need to vent in public.

  14. Keown seems to be generally OK with his comments about Arsenal, but he strikes me as someone who is over-anxious to be seen to be non-partisan and objective, so he refrains from praising us too much.

    On a different note, it is interesting that Carragher has singled out Liverpool’s keepers and a central defender for criticism. More typically, he has “advised” Jack not to return to Arsenal, possibly because Liverpool would love to get him.

  15. John L,
    Spot on re Keown, that’s how I see him as well. He doesn’t criticise but you can definitely tell he holds back, but overall I’m happy with him as he leans towards the praising than criticising. He’s the only I prefer from the whole lot.

    Lee Dixon seems to be the opposite; not too critical but get the feeling he leans more towards being critical than praising. The rest (Wright, Robson, Merson, Henry, Smith) you can be sure they’ll criticise, and rarely praise. Even when they do praise they sprinkle the praise with criticism. Yet here we see the likes of Caragher openly admitting to have been “devastated” their old team lost.

  16. re: pundits

    One of most instructive things I saw came early in Henry’s Sky days.

    Souness was blathering on about things Wenger doesn’t do, would never do, etc, on the subject of defensive play; Henry interjects that, actually, during our run to the champ league final the team were often instructed to do exactly what Souness claimed they’d never do. Think main part of it was letting the opposition have the ball at times.

    As soon as Souness realised he was being contradicted, he kept interrupting Henry, talking louder, continuing with his claims as though Henry hadn’t corrected him.

    Henry looked perturbed, as you would; tried fighting his corner for a little while, then gave up. Souness prattled on, undoubtedly failing to incorporate this direct first hand information into his views for the future.

    If there are ex-players willing to fight our corner properly, Sky and co are unlikely to have much interest in employing them. Meanwhile for Henry, gig secure, the pressure to conform and stick with the script is effectively enormous. Chagrin and hassle as soon as he doesn’t.

    At least he has enough decency to look and sound miserable at least half the time. Merson and Smith, though very different operators, stick the boot in with relish.

    Brady is another i have seen defend the club properly. He was on BT for a while and, perhaps not coincidentally, hasn’t appeared much since I saw him rip a few of the panel apart who were basically laughing at Wenger and suggesting he was foolish about this or that. They backed down instantly, boisterous to timid and defensive in 30 seconds flat.

    It could well be,though, that the cost of such a victory is you aren’t invited back much afterwards.

  17. Don’t listen to “pundits” because they are unable to be honest.

    I think Smith, Wright, Quinn, Merson, etc. are unable to come to grips with the fact that the current Arsenal squad is SO brilliant, that they would all fail to get into it.

    Ray Parlour sticks up for the club as well.

  18. Hi Walter should have posted yesterday regarding the Man City v Chelsea game , how much was the result influenced by the non decision of the coming together of Luiz and Aguero as well as what happened at the end of the game

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