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November 2020
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It’s all been going wrong for a long time but doing more of the same won’t help

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By Tony Attwood

The problem with most analyses of football is that we are repeatedly told that when a club is failing there are only two things that can be done: buy new players and change the manager.

But that is a problem for Arsenal because we have spent huge sum in the last couple of seasons, and have had three permanent managers and one temporary in the last three years.

Last summer 11 new players joined the club, although of course some were not intended to be part of the first team from the off.  The total cost was £88m.

The previous summer it was £90m with six players joining the club.  The 2018 summer window saw us spend £64m on five players. In 2017 it was £46m spent, although this time (being in the reign of Mr Wenger) we actually made a profit through player sales.

As I have mentioned before, during the Wenger era readers would regularly write in saying that “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and different result. These words were often (wrongly) credited to Albert Einstein.  Now it seems the pundits are all insane – all they cry for are more and more transfers (and quite possibly a new manager, although we haven’t got that far yet).

But what exactly did Wenger do when he first arrived?   In his first season 1996/7 he brought in Vieira (£4.82m), Anelka (£640,000), Lukic (free), Remi Garde (free).  He did not attempt wholesale change.

What happened was that we improved, a bit.  We got five points more than the previous season, did worse in the domestic cups, went out the Uefa cup in round 1, but coaxed more goals out of Ian Wright, our top scorer of the day.   After six league games we were seventh.  Today we are tenth.  The difference is not that great.

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The big difference was that Wenger’s purchases were not expensive; the two players we paid for were players who were not well known, and the criticism which was heaped on the club by the media was heaped on Wenger; journalists mostly ignored the team as they pursued the media vendatta against  the manager which, because he made such fools of them, would last until he left.

Arteta has been treated far better by the media – the sort of headlines he has got are

  • “Arsenal ‘must sell before they can buy this summer” from Sports Mole
  • “Mikel Arteta needs to sell before he can buy… ” from the Daily Mail
  • Arsenal to sell one of three players to fund massive €50m deal… from Team Talk
  • Arsenal eye relegated Premier League star but must sell before they can buy, however.  That from the Daily Express about Abdoulaye Doucoure.
  • “Arsenal will have to sell players to sign 27-year-old Ghana midfielder Thomas Partey, 27, who has a £45m release clause at Atletico Madrid, and French midfielder Houssem Aouar, 22, who Lyon value at £55m.”  (BBC, citing the Star as their source).

They were all wrong, of course, just as they are always wrong, and just as the media’s current round of criticisms are wrong…  Look at these reactions, typical of the many…

  • ‘Seriously, I don’t know’: Andy Gray & Alan Shearer let rip at Arsenal after last night’s defeat HITC (The disgraced BeIn presenters on being asked what Arsenal’s style of play is).
  • Many Arsenal fans are have had enough of one player after loss to Leicester Give Me Sport (doing its normal anti-Lacazette tirade)
  • “Solely on Arteta” and “Poor management” – These Arsenal fans blast Arteta for playing star out of position… CaughtOffside
  • ‘He’s declined massively’ – These Arsenal fans slam star’s first-half performance vs Leicester CaughtOffside (again on Lacazette)
So it goes on.  But just how bad was this?  Arsenal have, after three home games, got a better home record than Chelsea, Manchester United, Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur…  In fact only four teams are doing better than Arsenal when it comes to home games.

The reality of this situation is that…

First, so much money has been spent in recent seasons it is unlikely the owners are going to allow any more money to be spent.  So moaning and whinging and whining only has a negative effect.

Second, having had three managers in the past three years, it is highly unlikely that another change in management would be allowable, affordable (because contracts have to be paid off) or desirable (see the notion of failing and doing the same thing over and over again).

We are 10th in the League, four points behind the top club and three points below the fourth place which apparently has (now that Mr Wenger has gone) become a trophy place.  We are above Tottenham, Manchester City (although they have a game in hand), and Manchester United (ditto but they’d need a big win to overtake us), and we are equal on points with Chelsea.

Of course I’d love us to be equal on points with Everton and Liverpool, but the outpouring or anger and angst, and the demands for change really are rather ludicrous at this stage.  We’ve only played… hang on let me check…. just adding it up … almost there… six games.

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Everton 6 4 1 1 14 9 5 13
2 Liverpool 6 4 1 1 15 14 1 13
3 Aston Villa 5 4 0 1 12 5 7 12
4 Leicester City 6 4 0 2 13 8 5 12
5 Leeds United 6 3 1 2 12 9 3 10
6 Southampton 6 3 1 2 10 9 1 10
7 Crystal Palace 6 3 1 2 8 9 -1 10
8 Wolverhampton Wanderers 6 3 1 2 6 8 -2 10
9 Chelsea 6 2 3 1 13 9 4 9
10 Arsenal 6 3 0 3 8 7 1 9

And besides those who watched the game deserved what they got for not going along with the boycott.

6 comments to It’s all been going wrong for a long time but doing more of the same won’t help

  • Mikey

    “And besides those who watched the game deserved what they got for not going along with the boycott.”

    What, even if we didn’t pay for it?!!

  • Rational Thinker

    Some very good points Tony but you can certainly not question why the fans are starting to see the alarm bells already.

    What I think makes me actually upset is that this was probably our strongest lineup? You’ll be happy to know I’m done arguing about how it’s idiotic to bench your only goal-scoring striker and putting Auba up top who is currently in his worst form at the club since he’s joined. At this point, we just need to keep trying different things. The answer to all our problems is not an over-reliance on Partey but at least give it a shot.

    Hey wait a minute, didn’t we oust Emery because he kept trying different things. I imagine a few more of these results will turn the fanbase, unfortunately. Hopefully, Arteta has some tricks up his sleeve.

  • Rational Thinker

    The biggest mistake Arteta can continue to make is 1) Believe that there’s no way he can get our players operating in an attacking structure 2) That bum players will give him one more year after he spent the summer trying to sell half of them.

    We need to see some bold action. I watched Southampton boss Everton yesterday. They don’t have a squad anywhere near our level. They attacked with free-flowing football, they caused problems all over the park, and they were worth more than the two goals they scored. Why can’t we do that?

    Villa were spanked at the weekend, but they will run at you, they create, and they are exciting with players that are a long way from world-class.

    Bielsa has been at Leeds for two seasons. His free-flowing brand of attacking football will likely end in tears, but he has lesser players than us and he totally dominates teams and has never offered up shit football.

    There’s a system out there where we can be solid with Leno, Partey, Gabriel, Bellerin and Tierney… but still attack with Saka and Auba.

    I simply do not believe that players at the level we have to be coached so hard they can’t think outside NFL style power plays everyone has sussed.

    The handbrake is on.

  • Menace

    Watched on a stream without giving Sky FA. There is a passion that finds ways to follow my team that Sky or BT cannot stop with greed.

  • Menace

    As far as style of play or tactics or whatever one wants to call it, all I want to see is more shots on target. Shots at goal are the seed to victory.

    Leno must learn that keeping the ball in play is only good when the opponent is not being gifted with a chance at goal. If in doubt kick it out.

    If Leno can’t kick a ball into the opponents box he needs training.

  • Our wonderful home record, based on what?

    2-1 wins against Sheffield United and West ham, the latter fortunate.

    Hardly something to crow about.

    Let me ask a simple question. If Partey was such a great player and only cost £45m, why did none of the wealthier clubs go for him?

    Another question. If Willian was such a great acquisition, why were we the only team to go for him?

    This seems to be Wenger in reverse.

    He bought young, unknown players for a song and turned them into diamonds.

    We are now bringing in players that no one else wants and paying a fortune for them.

    What we are seeing simply does not make sense.

    If we lose a few of our next set of league fixtures, all of them against teams above us, except for manure, who will be above us soon, bearing in mind the fact that they are doing what we can’t do, ie score a lot of goals, then what?

    Having beaten 3 of the poorer teams in the league is not the answer.

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