It is the failure to ask one simple question that is causing problems for Arsenal

By Tony Attwood

It is more than likely that you’ll know the Arseblog website; a blog very highly rated by many within the literate section of the Arsenal fan base.   And yet I find to my surprise that in a recent blog, the writer can say, in questioning why Kolasinac was playing, “Reportedly he spent all week trying to get Arsenal pay off his contract so he can join Fenerbahce on a free – why are we picking him?

Surprise because of the use of “reportedly”, a word that generally means some reporter or other has stated this somewhere without proof.   And we know that when we can measure the accuracy of reports (such as on transfers), the accuracy level is 3%.  At most.

So did Kolasinac really do this?  Other reports suggest that he wants to move close to his friend Ozil.  It is also possible that he was played as that was a condition of his transfer going through so that his potential new club can watch him in a game.  Maybe they saw him play against WBA and wanted another look.  

Maybe other candidates for the position have gone down with covid.  After all when the forwards got it, all we were told on the day was that they were ill.  Maybe there was another of Arteta’s discipline situations and Kolasinac was all we had left.  It’s all speculation.

The writer continues, “How are we supposed to believe in a project which leaves us in a position where we have to pick Kolasinac, and even Mari, when we have a near £30m central defender impressing in France?” (punctuation changed by myself for clarity).

I guess he means Saliba, who is valued by Transfer Market at around half that amount.  But as for the answer it is quite possibly because we were expecting someone else to arrive and so decisions had to be made.   It is not possible in football to wait for everything else to be completed before making other arrangements.  If one does that, players can be left stranded and word like that gets around, and makes transferring difficult.  We do after all, have difficulties already because of the way we stranded players without a club, a year ago.

Yet as an occasional reader of Arseblog I am a little surprised at this vagary.  But in pondering it, another point struck me – it is the avoidance of any question that involves “why”.   Well not quite any question.  The anonymous writer does say of Xhaka’s sending off, “I don’t really know why this is contentious, but for me it’s a nailed on red.”  And here I would agree.   Both feet off the ground, heading towards the player, the rules say that is a red.   The old thing that players do about suggesting they got the ball is irrelevant, as the rules make clear.

But other than that, there are no why questions.  Like “why having done so well in the last two thirds of last season, so that we outplayed everyone in terms of results, have we lost three league games in a row?”

The answer, “because we are rubbish,” is not an answer, because it doesn’t take on the question seriously.   And it is the question that needs answering if we want to have a debate about Arsenal.

I would suggest that the coronavirus cases the club has had from the start has disrupted the squad – certainly taking the two main strikers out so that so far neither of them has been able to play the full 90 minutes of any game, has a major impact on the club.   The fact that Eddie has been unable to play adds to our woes, for it tells teams that they don’t have to be as watchful of the attack as they would normally do.

Second, in answer to “why?” I would say that with the first match, the disruptions came very close to match day, meaning that the preparations that had been made were completely thrown out of kilter.  Had we been midway through the season with everyone bedded in, it would have been different.  Of the starting XI only Leno, Chambers, Tierney, Xhaka, Smith Rowe and Pepe, started in both games.   So about half the team was changed.  That’s not helpful.

OK that can happen, but when it does it is normally planned.   We were without Saka, our best player, and yes that was obviously planned, and we included Ben White and Lokonga, along with Balogun and Martinelli.  Three debutantes for the team and a player who had been rushed back from the Olympics and had hardly any summer break yet missed most of the pre-season.

If one does that against a club newly promoted and utterly fired up, then there is going to be problems.

Of course some will say these points are excuses.  I would say no, they arise because I am asking why we have been doing so badly this season.  Only once one starts looking for explanations one can see if they are reasonable explanations or not.

Changing the team with three new players who might be first team choices (White, Lokonga and Tavares), is not excessive, nor is introducing two of them in the opening game of  the season, but to have to play Balogun and Martinelli in that team as well, who are both somewhat akin to new signings) then we have over a third of the team trying to adjust and a significant deficit in the first game.

Throw in the fact that we have the Mirror running stories about “Six Arsenal players who could still leave before transfer window slams shut” and you can see just how disrupted everything has become.  Add in a fixture list that gives us Chelsea and Manchester City in the first three games, and yes an answer begins to be formed when asking, “why is this happening?”

And interestingly, the incompetence of the manager hasn’t come up once in those perfectly reasonable explanations.

Thus the best unasked question remains, “Why are the media and the blogs so insistent on not asking ‘why?”

26 Replies to “It is the failure to ask one simple question that is causing problems for Arsenal”

  1. Tony
    “The anonymous writer does say of Xhaka’s sending off, “I don’t really know why this is contentious, but for me it’s a nailed on red.” And here I would agree. Both feet off the ground, heading towards the player, the rules say that is a red.”

    Careful Tony it should only been a yellow according to some!

  2. Mike T

    Sarcasm is below you, or at least the ‘old’ you.

    Just because you and Tony see it one way doesn’t make you right, you do know that?

    It was a subjective call and in my opinion could of been a yellow or red. Others on here agree with that. Some will agree with you.

    From yesterday: Mike T 28 August 2021 at 1:10 PM

    “The only mistake the officials could be questioned on so far was the yellow on Kos”

    And anyway you’ll forgive me if I don’t take somebody too seriously who doesn’t think this is a foul. (Second of 2 video clips)

  3. First let’s talk about the performance of the last third session it is awful. stats will not tell the story. that is why arsenal is so awful this season.
    Second from the start of last session their is no performance where we can say we believe we have progressed. Rivals are saying “Arsenal will be Arsenal” because we are performing like this from the start of last session. that is your answer.
    We can’t have 50 million player in each position and also on the bench. Arteta will only succeed when this will happen. And as far as I think 50 million player on each position will not happen in near future. so we will not succeed with Arteta that is your ans

  4. No surprise to see Mike Dean letting man Utd foul with impunity without issuing a card.

  5. Okay, not impunity but I’ve seen 2 fouls already worse than the one Cedric got booked for yesterday. Also it will be interesting to see if he maintains his remarkable record of penalty awards for Man Utd.

    This from a article last year:

    “Dean has awarded United 16 penalties in the 61 matches he has officiated with them, averaging one every 3.81 games.

    However, in 64 Arsenal matches officiated by Dean, just three penalties have been awarded to the Gunners – one every 21.33 games”.

    I would love certain posters to explain that particular statistic !

  6. Atkinson’s decision was certainly not influenced by Cancelo’s attempts to get a fellow professional sent off.

    Even some City fans were surprised it wasn’t a yellow.

  7. seismic

    “Even some City fans were surprised it wasn’t a yellow”

    And that’s my point.

    Whether Tony and Mike T are convinced it was a red or not is irrelevant. That is their interpretation of the challenge, and their prerogative. My interpretation is different. I think yellow, only possibly red. Yours may be different also. Others similarly.

    But that is the nature of subjective decisions.

    The Chambers incident is also subjective, but to me that was far more a definite red than Xhakas. There is no denying at all that it was a shove in the face. That is indisputable.

    But ultimately this boils down to 2 subjective decisions and both go against Arsenal, and not only do they go against Arsenal, they both go against Arsenal to the maximum degree.

    Xhaka’s challenge is deemed worthy of the maximum punishment and is sent off, the assault on Chambers is deemed not even worthy of a free kick.

    Being used to it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.

  8. Chris Foy (remember him?) writes in the Mail on Sunday’s “Expert View”:-

    “Contact is part of football, and is not necessarily to be penalised”

    What was he talking about? Aymeric LaPorte’s left-hook.

    Foy was a referee in the Premier League from 2001-2014, and then became a coach for PGMOB.

    Cozy little world.

  9. There’s just been a contentious decision in the Wolves Man Utd game. As it happens the ref was correct but that’s not my point here. My point is about what Carragher said after the event:

    “Every team this season are going to lose a goal where they feel they should of had a foul that maybe in years gone by they would of had one. Manchester Utd felt that at Southampton. Wolves will feel that today. But in the main everyone watching football now is happy with the way referees are dealing with those situations”.

    “But in the main everyone watching football now is happy with the way referees are dealing with those situations”

    Is he serious.

    It seems criticising referees is still simply something you cannot do.

  10. Everything that comes out of Carragher’s mouth is best avoided.

    And don’t accept any loose change that he may offer you, either.

  11. I think you offer excuses rather than reasons for our failures. When we are a poor team, poorly prepared tactically, where should supporters look for answers? I think the Arsenal have experienced problems that other teams have managed
    to overcome;’managed’, note.

  12. Anthony smith

    Well Anthony please explain WHO you mean by others? What you mean by ‘managed’?

  13. We may be well considered a “poor” team, judged on recent performances. Does that excuse opponents grabbing our goalkeeper, punching our defenders in the face, shoving our forwards in the back in the penalty area, safe in the knowledge that the referee will ignore the foul?

  14. Arsenal are finally waking up to the fact that no team, no matter their history, is entitled to sit at the top table. That right has to be earned. Two consecutive 8th placed finishes and this season starting with three defeats, no points gained and no goals scored shows how far they’ve fallen. Poor ownership by KSE, poor recruitment, a poor manager and players only motivated by what they can earn have all contributed. A manager consoling a player who’s got himself sent off for a crazy two-footed lunge, instead of berating him or blanking him shows what a shi£show this team has become. They are leaderless and rudderless in a storm of their own making

  15. Maybe a TV company should commission Carragher to present and do the voice over for a documentary on how Liverpool lost its status as a World Heritage Site. The subject and the commentator seem an ideal match.

  16. Anthony Smith writes

    ” I think the Arsenal have experienced problems that other teams have managed
    to overcome;’managed’, note.”

    The problems unique for all the London clubs, which has never been overcome, is getting reffed by a ref with a London accent.

    That is certainly a huge problem up North, especially at 12.30 on a Saturday, when everyone in the crowd and the ref are shouting at you in an accent you struggle to understand, it is even more of a problem at the Emirates when someone comes in from the outside to officiate who speaks differently from the fans, who is always white-skinned, who makes decisions on rules and procedures. It might be easy to consider him a member of an Occupying Army.

    Obviously in a diverse society the refereeing will reflect that diversity. It doesn’t. It is even worse with Arsenal because they are the only team to have gone through a season unbeaten, and the team that did it was diverse, came from different cultures, had different languages yet the authorities that run this theatre of football have such little respect for this singular achievement of Arsenal the refereeing is done by the group that has always done the refereeing, as if that achievement never happened, and that, as a message, can only tell Arsenal players ” It doesn’t matter a fuck to us what you did.”

    So no history to stand on. Plantation rules.

  17. we have been the victim of Pigmob for over a decade.Despite being a team who don’t indulge In fowling opponents and play the game in a clean way. Infant we are the only top6 side with the negative Penalty stats during Wenger Era despite being an attacking team.The biasness was ominous during Wenger Era and let me say it had it not been for Atkinson Dean and Riley we would have won the leagues in 2008 and 2015 as well. The biasness was understandable against Arsene Wenger being French and his arrival in Epl marked a new dawn in English football which probably was a swipe at English footballing traditions.
    But now as Wenger is gone I fail to understand why AFC are still treated differently by the pigmob and the English media

  18. For someone like myself who has been supporting Arsenal for over 45 years it is getting worse every year the way the game is going and not in a good way . We keep talking about the standard of refereeing and its not getting any better , Riley has his troops well instructed the likes of Dean , Moss and Atkinson time and time again will punish an Arsenal player if he as much as attempts to make a robust tackle where as players from most other teams can do as they please , this is not a recent addition to our game remember Okocha for Fat Sams kickers in 03 , or the saintly Neville brothers on Reyes RIP , in 04 , it is sickening now to see Gary Neville on one of his many shows on Sky laughing with former greats Henry and Pires about how they stopped the invincibles using GBH and in no small part Riley , who we all know got his reward with the great PGMOL . Im sure he has drilled into his staff time and time again what is expected of them . Atkinson turning a blind eye to the punch on Chambers would have met with his approval , as we have seen in the Sunday papers the article by the idiot Chris Foy says it all when he condones this sort of action .

  19. Apart from the 2001 FA Cup final (Henchoz and Dunn), that Bolton game in 2003 is my earliest memory of a blatantly rigged game. D’Urso let Bolton kick us off the park, resulting in multiple injuries. We were not going to be allowed to win the league that year, even though we deserved to. After the match, we were treated to the media’s usual rhetoric (“man’s game”, “soft Arsenal”).

    Game 50 took things to yet another level, and Riley has been allowed to get away with it ever since.

  20. Keith Hackett on the southpaw LaPorte – “Micah Richards is talking rubbish – Callum Chambers was fouled and Man City’s second goal against Arsenal should not have stood.”

    Richards doing what he does best.

  21. 2014 FA Cup final victory against Hull.

    lee Probert did everything in his power to give the game to Hull. 4 or 5 good penalty shouts if I remember rightly. Again as I’ve been saying elsewhere, even if they are all 50/50 at least a couple should of gone our way.

    Ironically if I remember there was a blatant foul on us just outside the box that Probert let go, again, only for us to win the ball back and go on to score the winner.

    Karma !!

  22. Just to say, this is what I find frustrating.

    Anthony smith 29 August 2021 at 6:45 PM:

    “I think the Arsenal have experienced problems that other teams have managed to overcome. ‘managed’, note”.

    Okay that’s his opinion. But when asked WHO the ‘others’ are and HOW they ‘managed’ to overcome them, you know just so we know what he’s talking about, nothing. Not a word.

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