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January 2021
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Why are Arsenal doing so poorly at the moment? The hidden truths.

By Tony Attwood

There are a number of reasons that are fairly easy to think of.

1: Arsenal have had three managers in the past three years. 

That is not the way to create stability and growth.

Settled clubs do much better than clubs in turmoil, not least because three managers means three sets of staff.  All coming and going.  And of course when they go their contracts have to be paid off.

I have seen a number of quotes that it cost £17m to get rid of Mr Wenger and his team a year before the end of their contracts, and although it would not have cost so much to get rid of the Emery team there was still a lot more change and more costs at that moment.

What’s more we have had changes at the top level of the club as senior staff outside of the managerial group have gone and some have been replaced.  It is hard to get stability amongst such turmoil, and it is not a productive way to spend the club’s money either.  If a player is brought in by manager A for £20m and then a year later is not felt right by manager B, that player’s value declines greatly, so we get less back for him.

2: Arsenal now has a reputation of turmoil rather than stability

As a result we are finding it harder to recruit players and wanted management.   While some of the changes may be for the long term good, the media will always make the most of changes and turn any change into “turmoil” – as with the move from having scouting staff across Europe to having just the video analysis staff.

Thus it becomes ever harder to attract the top people in whatever role as theey look at Arsenal and think – ok you want me now, but the way things are you won’t be here in six months, and I’ll get the chop again.

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3:  Dropping two players from the rosta makes it harder to bring in players

Having two players on the books who are simply not part of the “25” rosta either for the domestic or European fixture sends out a terrible message.   There are always disputes, loss of form and the like in clubs, but normally these last a week or two, compromises are reached, and life moves on.

Buying more foreign players than can be fitted into the squad is new – and I think that sent shock waves through football.  Players think, “I could go there and then just be frozen out, and my career will be over,” so they go somewhere else.

4: We’ve had two big transfer windows

The bloggers and journalists are still calling for more and more transfers, and yet we have had record numbers in the last two summers.   Successful squads have a settled nature with one or two changes being introduced year by year.  Maybe a club can get away with a big change around in one summer with a new manager, but not in two successive summers.

  1. The injury issue is still there

It was always said by the Anti-Wenger movement that Arsenal having such a high number of injuries was totally down to his antique methods of training.  If that were right then presumably Mr Emery and Mr Arteta have followed the same system.

We are not at the top of the injury list, but we are consistently near the top, and the situation is getting worse and worse.  That could be because there is something wrong with our training pitches (although Mr Wenger announced that they were being dug up and replaced in case that was the cause) or it could be that the club is targeted.  Either way, if you were a top footballer would you go to the club that gets so many injuries?

6:  Our statistics are all wrong.

I won’t repeat the stats that we are now publishing each week, and there should be a new set available tomorrow, but the fact is that we are getting more yellow cards than seems right for the number of tackles committed, compared with other clubs.  We are getting one penalty given in our favour for every eight Leicester get, and so on.

We spotted this for the first time last season with Leicester’s very odd stats – and the refs started to catch on to what was happening after we highlighted them (although that may have just been a coincidence), but the oddities are still there and it is getting to the point where the way we are being treated by referees is affecting our ability to play.

That doesn’t mean there is a PGMO conspiracy against us, (although it doesn’t rule it out either) but there is no statistic we can measure in relation to tackles and fouls committed by Arsenal players, yellow cards we receive, penalties given in our favour etc, that is working to Arsenal’s benefit while it does work to other clubs benefit.  We’ll return to this in the regular column.

I suspect even if Mr Arteta knows this, he doesn’t believe it.  No one believes the refs are biased against us.

7: Why is the media not mentioning all this? 

We also ask, why is the English media not covering all the scandals in Fifa when the rest of Europe is?  The answer is the media goes its own way, and Arsenal never get any help from the media.  Quite the reverse in fact.  No question of corruption in football is ever mentioned until it is so big it no longer can be ignored.

  1. Is Arteta taking account of refereeing behaviour?

Mr Wenger was made very aware that there was something odd about refereeing and PGMO in the Premier League early on, not least when he was charged with assaulting a referee and banned for 10 games near the start of his career at Arsenal.   He appealed at once and had the charges dismissed, but was forced to pay vast costs for the appeal even though there was no case to answer!

That episode, I believe, taught Mr Wenger what he was up against but I rather suspect Mr Arteta hasn’t quite realised how things work.    Mr Arteta’s only front line experience in management was at Man City and they, as we know, don’t experience these factors.

Indeed I am not sure anything in his career as a player led him to experience the oddities that exist in Premier League refereeing.   He was with PSG who rule the roost in France, Rangers (part of the duopoly in Scotland), and then Real Sociedad and Everton, neither of whom were considered a challenge to the established elite in their respective countries.

At Arsenal he played under Mr Wenger who knew exactly what he was up against, following the fake charges brought against him early on, and who dealt with it.

I am beginning to think that with all these massive changes we have had, we’ve missed the one thing: having senior staff at the club who are aware of how football works in the Premier League.

There may be other explanations as to what is going wrong, such as “we bought the wrong players” but that only raises the issue, “why did we do that, and what are we doing to stop that in future?”  I’m not sure I see answers along these lines.

 

12 comments to Why are Arsenal doing so poorly at the moment? The hidden truths.

  • Patnevin

    You’re for real? You honestly think there’s a conspiracy at ref’ level to damage arsenal? For most of Wenger’ time Arsenal were the elite so this rubbish about not wanting arsenal upsetting it is massively flawed. Arsenal’s problems are the same as for any other club that gets comfortable in its position and takes its eye off the ball. The article was on point until you started making pathetic excuses for the decline. The cold hard facts are that the team/club hasn’t been good enough.l

  • epl referee hater

    Well said Mr Atwood

  • gee

    I think there is a coloration between KSE full ownership and the many problems Arsenal FC have faced since then. The problems seem to grow by the day at boardroom level and on the pitch.

  • Whilst I find your article very interesting, certainly the referees and authorities have never liked, Arsenal, I don’t believe there is a conspiracy against us. I also feel, with the management changes, you are still unhappy that Wenger had to resign. Whilst as an individual, I liked Wenger his integrity, charm and intelligence. Certainly in the first 10 years of his tenure, we enjoyed great success.

    However as a supporter,, who attended games as a season ticket holder from 1964 and have seen many managers from Bertie Mee onwards.
    Wenger initial success, started to fade and in many ways regressed to the detriment of our great club. Wenger started to assume control of every aspect of the club, which made it impossible to undertake this in a detailed and efficient manner.

    Unfortunately politics , started to enter into the club and it is clear his relationship with Gazides deteriorated. This was highlighted with the contract situation. Allowing Sanchez, Ozil, Ramsey to run down their contracts, a loss of some £100 million pounds. Furthermore players such as Mustafi and Xhaka were purchased for £ 70 million pounds apart from being overpriced, they clearly were not at the required standard.

    These are some examples of mismanagement. Who is at fault, is it Wenger, Gazides or possibly the Kroenke’s. Wenger in my personal opinion, started to monopolise the decision making process, as if it his club. Whilst I love his passion for the club, this becomes counterproductive. If as as many supporters has said in the past, Kroenke were not prepared to give him the funds required he should have confronted them or if necessary resigned. I know this is difficult ffor anyone on a massive salary.

    The task of taking Arsenal forward is extremely difficult , due the many underlying issues, due to lack of management in Wenger’s final years. Again I stress it not all Wenger’s fault, certainly David Dean and Wenger were a great team. We should also not forget it was Dean, who went behind the Board back and brought in the Kroenke’s, he subsequently had to resign.

    Arteta has a difficult task ahead particularly, as this is his first management appointment, he is comparatively inexperienced. I would not rule out further management changes, we all recall Liverpool’s dominance of the league in 1970’s and 1980’s it took Liverpool over 30 years to win the league again, last season their first ever premier league title.

    I fear for Arsenal, it may take many years to reach our former glories, it may also involve a change of ownership, where as in past the owners were also dedicated supporters.

  • gee

    “Wenger in my personal opinion, started to monopolise the decision making process, as if it his club” – Now we have a team of super agents making decisions for the benefit of the fans. They even sit with DOF at games.

    Arsene Wenger left over 2 yrs ago, KSE took full control about 3yrs ago.

    our problems have worsened since AW left and KSE had full control but somehow it is AW fault that he left the club too late? We are now witnessing the worst start to a league campaign since the prem began.

    The constant thread through this problematic period is KSE and i think they have made massive mistake since they fully took control.

    KSE decided to hire and sack Raul, hiring a defensive cup coach to take over an attacking club for over 22 yrs, hiring a novice to take control of Arsenal with no track record of even coaching youth teams, over pay for Pepe, Dennis Saurez loan when he was injured, Willian 3 yr deal and David Luiz 2 yr deal, sacking all our scouts, 55 employees sacked, leaks to the press, club heading in know clear direction, freezing out our best and most creative players, press leaks to ornstien etc

    Think people need to rethink the source pf the problems here.

  • Dublin Gooner

    We can overanalyse things and speculate about things we don’t really know about. The margin between success and failure can be small. At the moment we have a lot of good player, maybe the best squad since the glory days, but the team is not gelling. Fernandez has made a huge difference at Utd. Maybe Partey will do the same for us. Or Martinelli. Or Arteta will stumble upon some winning combination, who knows. It’s still early days. Let’s keep the faith, and hope for the best.

  • No Patnevin I don’t think that. Perhaps you would like to read it again, and maybe take in some of the context from other articles such as the statistical pieces – including the pieces about Leicester last year, oh and maybe the pieces about referee handling of games as revealed by the London School of Economics research, oh yes and then the issues of the Swiss refereeing survey… Really jumping to such a conclusion after seemingly reading one article is a bit… well, strange.

  • ron

    how many matches does the average football enthusiast watch – particularly with so much on screen . surely enough to be pretty au fait with the nature of refereeing.

  • Menace

    The PGMOL are an organisation that is corrupt. It is corrupt in its set up and it is corrupt in its methods of selection of officials both as staff and as match officials.

    It is also racist in its obvious lack of ethnic and non white officials considering the number of players and organisations that make up the FA.

  • Rosicky@Arsenal

    Arteta style of play is defence first and that is 180 degree opposite what Arsenal brand has shown for 2 decades under Arsene Wenger. With this kind of football we cant win matches in the first place and are destroying the Arsenal brand of football as well.The urge to watch Arsenal play is diminishing as the days pass.

    As the idiot fans still blaming Wenger for this state of affairs and the lack of spending by the owners are deluded for the fact is that Arsenal have spent a good sum to buy Leno Gabriel Partey Pepe and the list goes on.
    Infact now approx 3/4 th of the playing eleven are now players post Wenger era. Maybe the idiot fans can still blame those 1/4 th of the Wenger era players for our dismal display.
    What a joke?

    The idiot fans said that we need a young modern manager and now they have one as well but the results are gone south.

    I can bet Arsene Wenger would have walked in top4 with 100 million Euros spending as he did it for 2 decades with even lesser amounts.

    Now the bigger question is that where we go from here now?
    I will propse to bring Wenger back at the club as DOF to help out Arteta to stable the sinking ship.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I like to think that we have a reasonably strong squad , with more than adept players for all the positrons. Why we are not gelling , nor why the players not being consistent is a question beyond me . As fans the best that we can give is our support and a modicum of patience . Give them time to move forward , and hopefully upwards.

    We have spent money in trying to improve the squad , so let us get behind the team and cheer them on , wherever we are . Personally , I would love us to play with more speed , and avoid the unnecessary back passing , or the passing in and around our box. We have speedy players in the flanks that can expose chinks in other teams. So let us hope that we buck up and start winning and playing the beautiful game as it should be played.

    Up the Gunners !

  • Nitram,

    Rosicky@Arsenal

    “I can bet Arsene Wenger would have walked in top4 with 100 million Euros spending as he did it for 2 decades with even lesser amounts.”

    In fact he did it on a ZERO net spend for 10 years over the period he was endlessly ridiculed with the 4th is not a trophy.

    Year/Nett spend in Millions/Finishing Position

    03-04 16.6M Loss 1st
    04-05 1.6M Loss 2nd
    05-06 6.78M Loss 4th
    06-07 17.0M Profit 4th
    07-08 13.4M Loss 3rd
    08-09 3.0M Profit 4th
    09-10 31.0M Profit 3rd
    10-11 6.8M Loss 4th
    11-12 17.4M Profit 3rd
    12-13 8.6M Loss 4th

    Over those 10 years Wengers Nett spend was actually a PROFIT of 14.6 Million

    So in answer to your question, despite an undeniable poor season, season and a half maybe (yes that’s all), I think it is almost certain that had he stayed and had the funds available that have been given to his successors I have no doubt at all that returning to the top 4 would of been inevitable. I personally believe we would of continued to win cups and we may, I say may of eventually won the title.

    My Only issue, and I have said this before, is that the mood against him, led by a rabidly anti Wenger media, was so toxic that his job was becoming impossible.

    As for our current dilemma. Certainly haven’t lost all hope. Things are a bit worrying but surely we have to give Arteta much more to put his stamp on the club. He needs a ‘normal’ season. He needs a couple more transfer windows.

    We as fans have to hold our nerve, keep off his and the players back, and give them our unwavering support. Despite the fact I believe what I said above to be true, we cannot continue to live in the past. Rightly or wrongly Wenger is gone, like it or not that isn’t going to change, and not letting it go I’m afraid wont help.

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