Arsenal were performing as though they thought the assignment was beneath them

by Tony Attwood

“It feels like a new club,” said Héctor Bellerín in a recent interview.  And I am sure he is right in many respects.  Obviously I’m not there with the players, but Héctor comes across as a very intelligent and deep thinking young man and I can’t imagining saying that if he didn’t feel it.

And of course this is what one expects.  Arsenal’s last two seasons under Mr Wenger were poor compared with the 20 years of his reign before that where he kept Arsenal in the top four, won three League titles and an all time record number of FA Cups for the club and himself.

Mind you, those last two seasons were pretty damn good when compared with the two years before he took control.

Season P W D L F A GD Pos
1992/3 42 15 11 16 40 38 56 10th
1993/4 42 18 17 7 53 28 71 4th
1994/5 42 13 12 17 52 49 51 12th
1995/6 38 17 12 9 49 32 63 5th
2016/7 38 23 6 9 77 44 75 5th
2017/8 38 19 6 13 74 51 63 6th

In the last two Wenger years, despite playing four games fewer per season Arsenal won more games than in four seasons before he arrived.  Arsenal also scored many, many, many more goals than in the four seasons before he arrived.

Yes the defence was worse, but the best goal difference came under Wenger and the final Wenger year was only beaten once in those earlier seasons in terms of superior goal difference.

In fact what happened in the last two years under Wenger was that we sank backwards by dropping out of the top four which was where Wenger had kept the club for all those years.  Indeed as I have tried to ask before, what would you sooner have – coming fifth scoring 77 goals (2016/17) or scoring 49 goals (1995/6).

The problem with Wenger’s results in recent years is that they were being compared not with what any other manager could do at the club but rather with what he himself had done at the club.

Now we are in new territory, which is probably why the media’s little “10 things to look out for this weekend” articles churned out on a regular basis as often as not do not contain any mention of Arsenal in any of those things to look out for.

Even though another win would be ten in a row if you include the Checkatrade and league cup.  Nine if you leave out the Checkatrade Trophy match.  Although that means leaving out another Smith Rowe goal.

Interestingly the Guardian didn’t have anything to say about Arsenal in its 10 things last weekend either, and yet they could have said look out for Arsenal’s continuing unbeaten run.  The last time they did feature Arsenal in the column – which takes us right back to Newcastle away – they said, “Arsenal are frail at the back and Benítez should not forget that his side won this fixture last season.”   Probably not an “analysis” (I use the word lightly) that they want to have remembered.

To be fair there is a match report of last night – very hidden away of course because they don’t really want people to read it – and they said, “for all the positives there is still something inescapably incoherent about the way they are playing. They get going in fits and starts, and defensively remain unconvincing enough to routinely give their opponents a bunch of clear chances every match. Qarabag were not short of opportunities.”

“Fits and starts” seems a very odd way to describe the club’s current run.  But a little more insight could see it described as being adjustment.  They are trying out one approach, and then if that is not getting the goal, trying out another.  That is called creative adjustment. The opposite is always doing the same old same old thing, whether it works or not. To the media men desperately trying to knock the side, it is all very confusing.

So starting with a back three and going to a back four was considered to be “muddled thinking,” uncertainty over what the best approach is, a lack of clarity.  What it could instead be seen as, is drawing conclusions from having seen videos of the opposition, but then, finding that they were changing their approach, Arsenal changed theirs.

And the selection of Smith Rowe could always be considered “inspired”.  But I fear you will have to search a lot of pages to find that viewpoint.  The Telegraph for example suggested the Arsenal team were “performing as though they thought the assignment was beneath them.”

We shall see as we approach the next game.  And the next.  And the next.




8 Replies to “Arsenal were performing as though they thought the assignment was beneath them”

  1. all those so-called pundits behave like activists of an unofficial anti-arsenal party. i find it all very funny, and without them being that dejected, our unbeaten run would not be half as enjoyable. after the spuds looked like u18s in front of barcelona, they have even found out that messi was a great player. i have neither the time nor the patience to look up for their reviews of the gooners’ games against messi in the champions’ league, but i have a vague feeling that the comparison would be very telling. there is something eerily orwellian about their bias against us, as wÌen the unlucky guys (not the guys who fucked up the return to normal of a world cup winner) are the ones who have a world champion for goal keeper, and the lucky (not cleverly professional) ones those who have successfully completed the transfer of a lad who didn’t even make it into the german squad, but who looks to me as one of the three most successful moves of the season (the others being lucas, and matteo, of course).
    oh, may this unbeaten run last ’til they choke on their own bile …

  2. The current Arsenal unbeaten run in all games will certainly go on beyond last to endearing lasting confusing the comprehension and imaginations of the anti-Arsenal media outfits who have been churning out anti-Arsenal comments. Even Dan Smith at JustArsenalnews will be left confused and perplexed not knowing what doom prediction to predict against Arsenal anymore as his 2-1 home win prediction for Fulham over Arsenal on Sunday in the PL blows to his face to leave Arsenal continuing in their current winning run form with a resounding away win over Fulham to continue to forge on in their winning run relentlessly.

  3. When you think of the number of times Wenger was described as stubborn and inflexible with his tactics because he apparently refused to change the system during a game and now Emery is guilty of “muddled thinking” for doing just that very thing it makes you wonder what is going on in the heads of the pundits and journalists.
    Could it be that it is they who are guilty of muddled thinking?

  4. MickHazel. Something goes on in the heads of the pundits. That’s news to me my friend.

  5. Headline: Three things Arsenal must do to beat Fulham on Sunday.

    1. Be on the field at the correct time with 10 outfield players and a goaltender.
    2. Score more goals than Fulham does.
    3. Let in fewer goals than Fulham does.

    N. Profit.

    (The above kind of “argument” often shows up in computer news comments.)

  6. agree with Le Gall
    Totts were very unlucky with so much injured key players, in Arsenal case it would be bad transfer strategy and bad training methods. Very very odd. And of course Messi is another league so totts couldnt really do something about that, while arsenal would be scrutinised as clumsy defenders. It certainly is very odd.

  7. It is true that the Arsenal appear to be “performing as though they thought the assignment was beneath them.” That’s the way Arsenal since Wenger always played, with the earth below them & the ball at their feet.

    The issue they faced was that their opponents were encouraged to ‘get in their faces’ or ‘kick them into submission’ while the sweetness that is PGMOL allowed vile tackling to break legs. Arsenal have excelled above all the intimidation physical, printed & verbal to shine before the envious eyes of corruption.

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