Stone Cold Friday: Where Next For Arsenal?

He’s Darius. He’s got a navel. He’s going to gaze at it. More to the point, he’s a caring, sharing kinda guy who’s willing to show you it…

Whenever I sit down to write this column, the events of the week – whether it be the performance on the pitch or the reaction to it – influences the direction I take with the article.

I’ll admit it sometimes is extremely hard to garner the courage or the creative instinct to write something inspiring, when a feeling of disappointment and heart-break does overwhelm you.

This is one of those weeks, and I’m still trying to process which part of this journey this season is leaving me jaded. I suspect that I don’t hold the monopoly when it comes to being frustrated and disappointed.

My feeling perhaps stems more from the fact that it was Tottenham who yanked the chain and left us in limbo. I’ve made no secret about the fact that I’ve never really liked the Tiny Tots, or as my brother would say – “I’m an equal opportunity hater of all things Tottenham”.

Notwithstanding the fact that a dear friend claims that he has already purchased Wednesday’s DVD for me as a present (he’s a wind-up merchant), the loss this week has left a very bitter taste in my mouth. It was self inflicted in many ways for it is a match we were in control of and should have won.

Double that up with the gallant journey that we have travelled this season, and the feeling I’m left with is like that of having great sex but being violently denied the opportunity for a deserved orgasm; yanked violently away from the pleasure by a herd of wild horses racing for the hills.

My wife tried to inject a bit of perspective to my disappointment by pointing out that I might be expecting too much considering that 4 out of our preferred central defenders are injured at the same time. Even as a die-hard Chelsea supporter, she appreciates that if they lost their Vermaelen, Gallas, Djourou and Alex Song, and had to contend with our esteemed senior citizens out back, they like any other team would struggle.

Where do we go from here I ask?

I would start from the point of view that the team has 4 games to redeem themselves and cultivate a positive mindset as we finish another season. Mathematically it still is possible to win the title, but chances of Chelsea committing spectacular suicide and dropping 7 points out of 12 is as slim as expecting Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader to be riding in the Jaguar to Buckingham Palace on May 7th to formerly accept the keys of Downing Street from Aunt Liz.

My heart holds hope that miracles can happen (for Nick Clegg too), but my head says that even if Chelsea are criminally negligent, we still have to win our remaining games. That should be our focus whether Chelsea falters or not.

Off the pitch, I have remained true to my resolve not to indulge in the kamikaze nonsense of the venomous naval gazing that customarily follows any Arsenal defeat. Think of it as managing my own health and well-being, but the noise in the Arsenal blogosphere can be suffocating at best under such circumstances.

Once the noise has died down though, and the season parked for another year, we must focus on the opportunity to build on what we have achieved so far. Some would have you believe that Arsenal needs major surgery, but in truth, those are the ramblings of knee-jerk reactors who live in the fantasy world of the Play station manager.

There’s a very big difference between being disappointed at losing to the Tiny Tots, or at stuttering so close to the finishing line; and being disappointed with the general progress and development of the team. This Arsenal team has come on leaps and bounds but is still a work in progress.

We need reinforcements and I’m confident they will arrive. Wenger and Gazidis have already done the foundation work in keeping the core of the team together and a sprinkling of new signings will do well to shore up our current resources.

I think what I’m more worried and wary about is the fact that save for the 31 days in the summer when we have some excitement with the world cup, we’re inevitably going to be subjected to a nauseating barrage of Arsenal bashing yet.

From the media and the pundits and hacks, I can appreciate the bashing; for that is how they earn their corn. I’m more concerned with our very own home grown hardcore elements that have made it their preserve to unleash a disturbing form of poisonous tongue lashing in what is mostly a desperate bid to stop the humiliation they say they constantly receive from rival fans.

I do actually appreciate an honest and engaging debate that questions what went wrong, discusses where we can improve and celebrates the triumphs we have. That however, is miles different from the stone throwing and name calling that we’ve become so accustomed to from those insisting that it’s the new form of constructive criticism.

More importantly, it is worth acknowledging that the business of football and how the finance works within the game has changed. In my view, it has changed drastically to correct itself in line with the economic reality around the world.

The days of brazen big money spending are long gone, and for most part, the devil is quietly but surely knocking from door to door as he collects his dues from the clubs that have been living beyond their means. I must say that from this point of view, Arsenal is very lucky to be in a relatively secure position that allows us to build on what we have and move forward in a concerted way without fearing that the wolves are going to be at the door.

We must find the strength to set aside the raw disappointment we experience, especially from losing to that lot up the road; and draw comfort from the fact that we are moving forward in the right direction.

And of course, I will promptly chop up that Tottenham DVD with the new set of secateurs I bought last week to trim the hedges.

Keep the faith people, keep the faith.

And that’s your lot for today. ’til Tomorrow.

Posted on April 16, 2010, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 187 Comments.

  1. Completelt toothless. How can a team have over 60% posession and not win the game…

  2. After the shock horror of defeat against our arch enemies the mass hysteria and implosion of fans was predictable with the usual scapegoating of players.Football is a cruel game the margins for error being so slim. Defeat is painful wheb we had Spurs on the back foot all game and were rarely trouble defensively except for the 2 goals conceded. We need a huge slice of luck the type of which has allowed Chelsea to win at OT with a blatant Did he dive Drogba own goal and stealing a victory against Bolton whilst getting away with 2 penalty shouts.Back to the drawing board for us and 2nd place represents a significant improvement. First needing divine intervention. The only way we are going is up. Still believe.COYG..

  3. Darius, dont burden yourself with the misery and ignorance of the noise and smoke that emanates from our doomers. They, like the poor, will always be with us in our modern ‘society’.

    I want it all and I want it now or I’ll scream and scream again until I’m sick, then you’ll be sorry.

    At best they are deluded fools, fed their conversation and views by the decadence, self importance and just plain, ugly greed of the press and television.

    At worst they are traitors. People who have sold their Arsenal allegiance for some tawdry self interest that comes with running with the pack, being one of the boys or, worse, a bit of personal profit. If not money then being a leader of fools. This latter vermin is most commonly found in the blogosphere.

    For us, the Arsenal supporters, we can enjoy the end of a great season where our team has lit up the Premiership with a style of football that no one else in Britain can even aspire to at present. We can look forward to August with excitement and anticipation, knowing that sooner or later our dominance of the game will begin.

    Onwards and Upwards and Death to the Enemy.

  4. Excellent Darius.

    I think we need to take some distance from the media obituaries.

    It is too early to write an end of the season assessment but some balance needs to be written about where we are.

    We have progressed from last season and have undoubtedly been hit by some injuries to key players.

    It is a testament to the squad depth that we are where we are in the table. Last season we had equally bad injuries but we never challenged. So rather than saying the squad is not good enough, I think we should say that the squad has improved.

    There are too many positives for next year to be too disheartened. We do not have an ageing squad. We have a lot of money to spend, if required, for any reinforcements. We also have some quality youngsters pushing for squad places next season.

    These factors will build the squad in a steady and incremental fashion. The net effect will be a stronger resiliance to injuries and hopefully better performance against the top sides.

  5. I never ever give up on a league title until everything is over mathematically.

    there is nothing unrealistic about expecting the best… there is even something called hoping against hope!

    We can beat wigan 12 – 0 (who would have expected aston villa and to lose 7 -1 to chelsea after having the meanest defense all season) and chelsea can lose to spurs and we are back to 3 points away from the league… of course manc both red and blue can at least draw or else the blue side triumphs!

    So until the second to the last game of the season, as far as am concerned, we are still in the race for the PL!

  6. i do not thing we have major squad depth issues…

    we had enough chances to win or at very least draw against spurs… their keeper was on fire!

    Maybe defensive additions because likely sol, sylvestre and Gallas may not be around and hence need to be replaced…. if they are around, the Djourou coming back and maybe even Senderos if he agrees to stay will be okay.

    Otherwise on other fronts, this team is progressing along just fine… retain merida, with JET, Wilshere, Eastmond, barazite, bartley, Ayling, Miguel, Nortvert and the others just knocking on the door and i really, really, do not see the squad depth problems!

  7. We already have a new striker from France on the way for next season. Ramsay will not be around next season so another midfield player must be on the list and I hope it will someone who can handle the defensive spot if Song is not available. Djourou hopefully will be back but two decent centre backs have got to be found. Silvestre should be gone and I personally feel that Gallas ( too injury prone now) and Campbell ( too old for a whole season) should not be pffered new contracts. Gibbs will be back next season to compete with Cliche. A top goalkeeper must be found – Almunia has cost us a lot of points this season with his fumbling and annoying habit of punching the ball straight to an opposing player ( The painful first goal on wednesday resulted from such a poor clearance). We must make these improvements otherwise we will be in for another disappointing season and I think the fans should expect more from the club.

  8. I agree it’s too soon to jump to conclusions on this season. But I think it has given Wenger alot to think about to. The key issues are probably:

    1. We lost all but one games against the top 6 sides (Man City at home still to come).

    2. We have generally won the games we should have done.

    3. Individual mistakes have disproportionately cost us particularly at Birmingham, OT and West Ham.

    4. Wenger has had to kick this side up the backside and show anger more than ever e.g. Half time at Anfield. The attitude and hunger of some of the players is a major worry.

    5. Barcelona play our style of football far better and the gap is unlikely to be bridged by the current players.

    6. The sucess of Vermaelan demonstrates that the purchase of players can strengthen the team.

    I can’t see him not strengthening over the summer with a goalkeeper and centreback the prime targets. Probably also see the exit of Vela, Eduardo, Gallas, Silvestre and Eboue. The key as always will be keeping hold of the best players with speculation over Arshavin, Cesc, Clichy, RvP and Bendtner likely.

    I’m more optimistic at the end of this season than last it has been a wasted opportunity I can’t see Liverpool or Man Utd being as poor next season and Chelsea should rebuild. Man City, Spuds, Everton and Aston Villa should also improve.

    However would I swap our season for Man Utd’s highlight of which was a fluky Carling Cup win and home defeat to Leeds. Neither Liverpool’s who should win the Europa Cup but never challenged for the title and will not be in the CL next season. Chelsea obviously have had the most success but have dragged English Football to new moral depths.

  9. Ramsey will be match fit by September. There may be niggles along the way, but it would be ridiculous to plan for a season without him.

  10. “At worst they are traitors. People who have sold their Arsenal allegiance for some tawdry self interest that comes with running with the pack, being one of the boys or, worse, a bit of personal profit. If not money then being a leader of fools. This latter vermin is most commonly found in the blogosphere.”

    Very nicely put CB.

  11. Well written post Darius. With yet further injuries it will be difficult to win all of our remaining games. I think we can challenge Man United for 2nd but I cannot see Chelsea dropping that many points. Worse case we will finish 3rd and avoid having to qualify for the CL. I cannot stand these so called Arsenal fans from other blogs that spout only abuse at Wenger and the team. I wonder how SAF would have managed if he had as many players out of action as we have had. Arsenal is in good hands and I am one fan that is very gratefull to have Wenger in charge.

  12. I agree with Muppet as well. Next season we’ll see academy-grown players – all with the scent of top-flight football in their nostrils – boosting the strength of our first team squad.

    It doesn’t mean we’ll be relying on youngsters, just that in every position talented younger players will be pushing their first team colleagues every step of the way. This is what we’ve been waiting for since 1999, I think.

  13. Great article mate!

    I’m with you as far as feeling robbed at this stage of the season is concerned. The hope is gone for me, we need 7 points now and that’s only if Chelsea loose 3 games? Can’t see it happening.

    It’s another season of “so close yet so far away”!

    I’m also sick and tired of people saying we’ve improved and will be better next season. We’ve been saying that for 3 seasons now and still no silver-wear!?

    Let’s put things into perspective. Both Manure and Chelski have also dropped vital points this season in games they should have won. None of the top 3 sides are guaranteed finishing with more that 85 points and that amount does not always win you the league in recent years.

    They have had poor spells but we have still managed to grab a point here and there when we have failed!

    Even when they gave slipped up and we had a chance pounce, we did not!

    Too weak in reserve, too naive in attack and absolutely too much driven by “the beautiful game”. We have one style of play and no plan B to dig out results..

    I’m just glad that Almunia didn’t get a British passport because my only hope of football elation this year is England in the world cup!

  14. Good article Darius

    You say we need reinforcements and you are confident they will arrive.Why?We needed new players last summer.They didnt come.
    The goalkeeping situation is a joke.Almunia is just not good enough and Fabianski is the same.A top class team should have a top class keeper we dont.Is Almunia better than VDS,Cech,Riena or Given?
    How can we still be relying on Silvestre when the big games come around at the end of the season?
    We went into the season with just 4 strikers.Two who have a history of long term injuries RVP andEduardo.That left just Bendtner and Vela.For nearly 6 weeks Arshavin was our main striker!!!!

    We need a quality keeper a back up CB or two if Gallas leaves.Cover for Song.Two strikers Chamakh and one other.
    But dont hold your breath

  15. Fantastic read Darius. Couldn’t agree more (and about Clegg as well…… there’s just a crushing sense of inevitability about the eventual outcome).
    I get increasingly weary with all the media bullshit these days and the folks who can’t see the wood for the trees. Of course we are all massively disappointed about the result the other night….but the blind ignorance, stupidity and petulance of a certain section of our “supporters” never fails to astound me.

    I truly believe that without all the appalling injuries we would have walked away with this league this season. So much to look forward to….

    ARSENAL.

  16. 1 loose cannon

    Headline this morning “Is Arsene Wenger set to leave Arsenal?” The hacks expected us to finish 5th or 6th, some have predited midtable. Now we are 3rd we could possibly finish second, surely he should be given some credit. I guess the people who write such rubbish have an agenda and that is to get rid of Wenger not for his failures but for his success. To me running a huge club on a small budget and not drowning us in debts while Playing C.league football and fighting with the big boys is amazing. Ask the Spuds and they will tell you, they can’t wait to see the back of Wenger, Why? Because they are envious of the way he changed Arsenal. Let’s support the manager the players and we shall get there in the end.

  17. Nice artical Darius, a pool of calm in a media storm.

    There is, as you say, a lot for us Gooners to look forwards to. Our squad has improved its depth no end tis season under the pressure of the injury list. Several of the lads who would have been considered fringe players at best are now much more experienced and Im sure up for the battles that face us next season. And of course IMO we play the best football in this country certainly.

    After the Spuds match on Wednesday I was as gutted as any Gooner can be post a Tiny Tots defeat added to that was the realistic if not yet mathamatical fact we will probably not finish the season as Champions. However, my prevailing feeling, having seen RvP reintroduced, was one of what if? What if he had not gone away for that bloody friendly, or even what if he had only missed 2 months of the season instead of 5!?! His impact was immediate and there for all to see.

    Im sure Arsene will strengthen the team this summer, we all have our feelings about where we would like to see improvements but lets at least get to the end of the season before we start on that.

    Second is still within our grasp, keep the faith.

    The futures bright its red n white.

    COYG!!!!!

  18. Good grief… it’s one thing to loyally endure the mediocrity of a lower level side with no resources, poor infrastructure, and thus little or no realistic chance of winning the title. But we are NOT one of those clubs, and we all know it! We have every single element required to be extremely successful, and we have tasted that in the not too distant past. If people are bitter and angry it’s because we all know we should be achieving a hell of a lot more than we are, and litmus tests like Wednesday tell you a lot more about a team than endless last minute victories against Hull Stoke Wolves et al. If people want to wave their scarves and rattles and be satisfied with less, good luck to them, but some Arsenal enthusiasts have higher (and attainable) goals to aim for. If the squad are similarly patting each other on the back and saying, ‘Oh well we’ve done quite well really’ then god help us and here’s to another 5 years of the same. When the pressure is really on, this squad doesn’t have enough in the tank to see things through, that has been qualified time and again this season in the big games. The venomous naval gazers, knee-jerk reactors and poisonous tongue lashers are simply echoing the ambitions and intentions of our board:

    ‘It’s absolutely our ambition to win a trophy this year. I couldn’t be more clear on that… Second, third or fourth isn’t good enough. We want to win something this season and we believe we have the squad to do that.’

  19. Team for Wigan

    Mannone

    Eboue Sagna Sol Clichy

    Merida Nasri Diaby Rosicky

    Bendtner Walcott

    Mannone in goal as Almunia the clown has fucked up one time too many.Time to look to the future

    Sagna CB has too be better than Tweety.

    Walcott as a striker.RVP not fit to start give him 30 minutes

  20. I wish you’d hold your breath Gooner Ted. Six months should do it.
    Oh and Booboo what the feck are Arsenal “enthusiasts”?

  21. Spot on Booboo, well said.

  22. Gooner Ted.

    Let’s be serious, if you were that good at knowing what we need, you’d be the Arsenal manager.

    …And by the way, we did buy Vermaelen in the summer. We are struggling because our first choice pivotal players are out with injury, not because they’re incompetent.

    I fail to see how even Wenger could have legislated for losing 4 preffered centre halves in Gallas, Vermaelen, Song and Djourou.

    How many back up players do you actually want in one position.

  23. hmmm, and the two sides stand apart. Why cant all Arsenal fans get back to supporting Arsenal rather than tryting to take some moral high ground over another fans opinion. Its bollocks.

    The team DOES need strengthening and AW must take the can for not winning anything BUT he is a genius, has built us into one of the top teams in Europe and again we have had a good season albeit without silverwear.

    A new keeper is necessary , as is a new set of centre backs to support Vermaelen and Djourou. As is a new striker to support RVP when he is injured- think Chamack takes care of that.

    A support player for Song as Denilson is really not good enough and thats it. The real issue is not the players skill but their lack of desire- AW needs to bring in players who are winners already to drive an impetus through the team. Just look at Big Sol on Wednesday- thats what we need running through the spine of the team.

    Apart from this , which lets be honest everybody knows we have a GREAT TEAM- we havent got the debt levels of our nearest competitors yet we are within touching distance of the league- how can anyone not be proud of a team that delivers that.

    There are always glory boy fans- we all have them and a range of fans from undeveloped countries shall we say that have opinions that are a little less based on education than on some tribal affiliation. Why get wound up by these comments – you may as well pop down the seven sisters road and take a vox pop outside of Shite Hart Lane.

    Get behind the Arsenal and support them – if you want to criticise and whinge like a bitch go support someone that deserves the criticism – Blackburn with their chewing monkey is a good port of call!

  24. KT

    Why put Mannone in goal in your team? Followung your logic, ie replacing Almunia, surely Fabianski is No. 2 and should get the nod.

    YW

  25. “very lucky”???

    Surely good stewardship should be praised, as opposed to good fortune!

  26. 1 loose cannon

    Afan- Chelsea and United dropped points because the teams bellow are stronger than before, Man city in particular have made a huge difference with their money they took 6 points of Chelsea, 3 of us so far and they’ve changed a lot of results so it is not down to the big 4s weaknesses but rather to the midtable teams getting stronger. I don’t need to remind you how much the Spuds spent since Harry arrived. Villa ,Spuds and Man city are serious about that 4th spot and they are spending huge sums to get it. You have to understand the money spent by these teams in the hope of getting that money back by achieving C.league football, for Mancity its no big deal they can afford to lose money but the likes of Villa and Spuds if they don’t finish 4th then they will have to sell to buy otherwise they will go into huge debts. So next season Villa and Spurs cannot do any better, Man city is an exception and they will be a major threat next season.
    We have done really to secure 3rd and possibly 2nd with a little hope of winning it. Not too bad considering almost the entire first team injured.

  27. Bringing out a DVD after a narrow 2-1 win! What a pathetic little club they have down the road!

  28. DS

    We bought TV to replace Toure.Not as an additional defender.Gallas had missed the last two months of the previous season and we were fucked.If you are happy to have Silvestre as the 4th CB to play the likes of Barcelona i pity you

    We sold Adebayor and didnt replace him.So we were a striker short.Are you happy to have a 5ft 4in Arshavin play as the loan striker?????You cannot go into a season with 2 strikers with injury history of RVP and Edu

  29. YW

    Because if you havent noticed Fabianski is worse than Almunia.So why would i replace one bad keeper with another?

  30. KT.

    I’m baffled as to why I need pity. Clearly this issue is stressing you more than it does me.

    Let’s start again: I would have preferred to have any of Gallas, Vermaelen, Djourou or Song in central defence. Saying that, it’s unreasoanable to expect that we shold have another world class defender waiting in the wings in case any of these 4 are out suspended or on injury.

    Same as strikers; who could have legislated that a Juve defender would hack RVP out of the season or that Bendy would have an extended groin problem probably aggrevated by him wrapping his Aston Martin around a tree in the Hertfordshire countryside.

    And with all due respect to Bendtner, 9 goals from 11 appearances since his return from injury is more than any brand new spanking striker would have given Arsenal.

  31. Personally, I think we’ve done ok this season.

    I didn’t believe we would win anything this season, given our lack of signings in the summer transfer window. I knew things were going to be tough and didn’t want to have high hopes only to be suffer despair when things go wrong (have had this now for the last few seasons).

    I think we could have done better if we didn’t have so many injuries. Its a shame Wenger didn’t buy a striker in January when Van Persie got injured. For me, Wenger has way too much faith in his young team.

    I hope Wenger will buy some players for next season. I hope we keep our top players this summer too. I hope next season we don’t get so many player injuries.

    We are very close.

  32. Self-evident truth:
    “…dont burden yourself with the misery and ignorance of the noise and smoke that emanates from our doomers. They, like the poor, will always be with us in our modern ’society’.” (Consols @ 9:41 am)
    Proof positive – Gooner Ted, Afan, KT, Booboo and best of all Ratsarse.

    The harsh reality as Darius observed is:
    “The days of brazen big money spending are long gone, and for most part, the devil is quietly but surely knocking from door to door as he collects his dues from the clubs that have been living beyond their means. ”
    Regardless of its financial heath, AFC is not immune. Anyone who expect more than two strategic signings over the summer are doomed to emanate noise and smoke for a very long time.

  33. I think we’ll make a few signings this summer and they will be done before the World cup, as prices tend to be overly inflated if a player has a succesful tournament.

  34. Freddie.

    You’ll actually find that Arsenal does make signings very early as they did with Rosicky, Sagna, Nasri and Vermaelen.

    We do also push the envolope when it comes to last minute brinkmanship like with Arshavin, but my sense is that it’s more to do with a principled refusal to pay over the odds for any player and wearing the other party down until they blink.

    But if the price and player are a match for Arsenal, signings are pretty swift.

  35. Anyone who thinks Arsenal is in crisis is deluded. We are 3rd (at least) in the premier league, the position can improve in the coming weeks, and we should have been top of the pile if not for a horrendous run of injuries. We also performed creditably in Europe and lost out only to an excellent team which is probably up there with the all time best teams, and that too with several key players out injured. We lost to Tottenham, and that might have triggered some extreme reactions, but come on, it is a game at the end of the day and one team will lose more often than not. We don’t have a divine right to win every game against Spurs even though we are the better team by a long distance, that is the beauty of the game.

    Anyone who thinks Arsenal cannot improve is again deluded. Of course we can improve, so can Manchester, Chelsea, Real, Milan, even Barca can improve. But those who are advocating extreme measures like changing half of the team, need to ask themselves “at what cost?”. I am happy to support a club that is financially prudent and lives by its means, and has a string of excellent young players who will be world beaters in a few seasons time. I would prefer that above any drastic measure which may achieve success over the short term (with an equal possibility of the opposite), and doom our long term future.

  36. I feel honoured to be denigrated by such a long-time poster as SG. Not sure I quite deserve it as I wasn’t aware I’d said anything hugely disparaging about anything. But thanks anyway.

  37. This is brilliant. Brought a smile to my face.

  38. I have a cousin who turned 21 today

  39. Well done commercial Jonny. Tells you how far big corps will go, how much they will spend, to go deep into our psyche, to persuade us to buy that bigger and better flat screen, etc. I will stick with my 32 inch, thank you very much.

    I wonder how they will tailor if for different markets. Asia, Africa, Latin America. Did you see the limits of crass commercialism?

    Don’t get me wrong I love a nice piece of work but I have been around the block long enough to know how the marketing depts think.

  40. It pisses me of when people say some players are injury prone. It’s not like van Persie was tying his shoelaces and hurt himself.

    Eduardo, Van Persie, Ramsey, Fabregas, Nasri, and Gibbs all sufered broken bones. not a bad back, or a strained calf.

    Someone breaking your leg doesn’t mean you are injury prone.

    Yes some players get muscle strains, but our major injuries this season was traumatic injuries, not muscle problems.

  41. I couldn’t like that Jonny. The kid who scored was tubby, wore No. 10 and reminded me of someone I can’t stand. Can’t quite place him.

  42. In order, there are reason, belief, hope and faith.

    For many weeks, reason has told us that our brilliant team, eviscerated by injuries, could not win the EPL. “Every match is a cup final”, and no side wins eight successive cup finals.

    But belief in their ability, their resilience, their collective spirit, and the inspired leadership of AW, has kept us transfixed by every moment in breathless anticipation.

    After Wednesday’s setback it would be flying in the face of evidence to sustain belief, so we remain with the fleeting breath of hope – remote, but still lingering.

    What cannot be prised from us is faith. Of course, the faithless must sometimes have their say. We have heard this week a collective scream of relief from those whose predictions and prescriptions this season had already been made to look absurdly inept and were in mortal danger of extinction through ridicule.

    But those of us with faith are now free to celebrate what has been a season of resolute success in the face of adversity. We can enjoy the four remaining games without anxiety.

    And we can look forward to the start of next season, when no-one can seriously doubt that faith, hope, belief and reason will all be flying freely alongside us.

  43. Ah Cbob, let go of your anger – it really doesn’t suit you at all.

    :0)

  44. Very eloquent Merlot.

  45. Paddy power are giving 2:1 odds on Utd to draw with City tomorrow

  46. Well lets hope that Arsene makes reason-able additions to the squad this summer but he probably has too much faith in the current team for us to belief that he will.

  47. Has Cesc left yet?

  48. Ratsarse.

    Define reasonable.

  49. ratsarse, definitely, he should sign at least 2 or 1 players.

  50. Jonny thanks, u did it again.

  51. Wow look, there was three posts a 21 seconds past one.

  52. Yes James, either that or minutes.

  53. I think the things missing for this squad to reach an even higher level are, in decreasing level of importance.

    1. For some of the kids to come of age; The Wilshere-Vela generation.
    2. The likes of Diaby, Nasri, Song & Denilson to come even closer to realising their true potential.
    3. Improvement in defensive organisation.
    4. Improvement of the team’s possession game. Barcelona showed we’re not as good in possession as we could be.
    5. The acquisition of one more player that can truly change the course of a game on his own. A player like Arshavin could be…..but it has to be a dependable player who like the fake Ronaldo is hardly ever injured.
    6. Decision on long-term centre back pairing. Sol might stay. Gallas might stay. Whether they do or not, we need to acquire from outside or within the club, someone who will now take up the defensive mantle for the club.
    7. Resolve the injury situation while maintaining the exceptional level of physical fitness in the squad.

    All my opinion of course.

  54. Hey Spud read:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/apr/15/1

    While it could be argued that the sight of their players and fans celebrating as if they’d just won Big Cup was symptomatic of the small-club mentality that’s dogged this big club for too long, the Fiver does not subscribe to that view. Assembled for a pittance, the Spurs XI (cost: £73.2m) sent out to face their Arsenal equivalents (cost: £30.3m) were obviously underdogs. And with their fourth best player, Aaron Lennon, knacked, hopes of beating an Arsenal side bereft of Andrey Arshavin, Cesc Fábregas, William Gallas, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Song were low. But somehow they prevailed, while their fans endeared themselves to a global audience with several rousing renditions of that song about Arsène Wenger which, they never tire of stressing, is neither h0mophobic nor r@cist. Well done Tottenham fans! Well done!

  55. Reasonable signings would be those who’d make the squad stronger without breaking the bank.

  56. The bank is already broken.

  57. http://desigunner.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/comparing-cesc-and-xavi/

    A nice little article on the credentials of Cesc. I was surprised reading it. All the more reasons to keep hold of Cesc. I’ve always held the belief that he hasn’t reached his peak, and is still capable of so much more.

  58. Damn,

    beat me to it Notlager.

    £73.2M < £30.3M

    LMAO!

    Shall I I'll repeat that ?

    £73.2M < £30.3M

    !!!

  59. Jonny, Sorry you are correct, I meant to say 21 minutes not 21 seconds, silly me. Because they were both the number 21 I was getting confused, sorry mate.

  60. Very well put, Merlot.

    I can’t disagree with you either Ole.

    ratsarse on the otherhand…

  61. ratarse, what would you consider a fee too high? 10m?, 20m?, 21m?

  62. Finsbury.

    Do those figures mean that we’re a lesser club than the Spuds? LOL!

    It’s a shame then that in 43 games since Wenger took over they’ve only won 3 times, and one of those was a Carling cup match.

    Shame on us for thinking we’re a bigger club.

  63. For shame.

  64. Well, I don’t have Arsenal FCs scouting system but I’d say that an experienced goalkeeper and centre back for less than we got for Ade and Toure would be quite reasonable. I’d heard that we had an interest in Given but he was thought too expensive at £13m. That didn’t seem unreasonable to me.

  65. 21 Grams is on tonight. I haven’t seen it, is it any good?

  66. Vermaelen Says:
    April 7, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Reply

    I might have counted them wrong, but here is the Stats for Fabregas with and without Van Persie:

    With RVP: 17 Games: 9 Goals, 12 Assists
    Without RVP: 19 Games: 10 Goals, 7 Assists
    Total: 36 Games: 19 Goals, 19 Assists

    Just from these stats, his overall contribution with RVP is is better with 2 fewer games

    I was trying to prove that with a better front man, Fabregas is better, so I’m going to try a different angle, lets look at the games before RVP’s injury:
    G=Goal, A=Assist
    14/11/2009 Injury
    07/11/2009 Wolves 1-4 Arsenal Fab(1G,1A) RVP(1A)
    04/11/2009 Arsenal 4-1 AZ Fab(2G)
    31/10/2009 Arsenal 3-0 Spurs Fab(1G) RVP(2G,1A)
    Carling Cup Liverpool game ignored
    25/10/2009 West Ham 2-2 Arsenal RVP(1G,1A)
    20/10/2009 AZ 1-1 Arsenal Fab(1G) RVP(1A)
    17/10/2009 Arsenal 3-1 Birm.C. Fab(1A) RVP(1G)
    04/10/2009 Arsenal 6-2 Blkburn Fab(1G,4A) RVP(1G)
    29/09/2009 Asnl 2-0 Olympiakos Fab(2A) RVP(1G)
    26/09/2009 Fulham 1-0 Arsenal Fab(1A) RVP(1G)
    Carling Cup West Brom game ignored
    19/09/2009 Arsenal 4-0 Wigan Fab(1G) RVP(1A)

    These 10 games shows the both Fabregas and Van Persie has BOTH contributed either in assist or goal apart from 2 matches, where one of them has. ALL 7 goals by RVP are in these 10 matches, showing that their understand has improved.
    Van Persie Fabregas
    1st 7matches: 0G 2A 2G 3A
    After 10matches: 7G 5A 7G 9A

    Notice when Van Persie starting to get familiar with our new system and start scoring goals, Fabregas also found his form. And it’s no coincident, which is why I keep repeating that with RVP, we could possibly have won the title and beaten Barca by now.

    I don’t want anyone to underestimate the importance of the understanding between RVP and Fabregas and I hope you see that in those Stats, Fabregas is a better player with an in-form RVP in the side.

    I wrote this because this is just one player-RVP, could make on our team, now relating back to the article, imagine Messi and his impact on Barca, now with Eto’o, Henry etc of last season, the whole Barca team will seem better, not just Xavi.

    ps. I’m quite proud of myself for my work here, so feel free to use it where ever you want hate to see it goes to waste

  67. Something that Arsene said in his press conference that interested me.

    On Strikers “We are not looking for strikers, we have already done what we wanted to do”

    Does that mean deals have already been done, a confirmation of Chamakh’s arrival. I remember Theo saying he wanted number 8 but it was already earmarked for Nasri months before his signing was announced.

  68. Ole

    Not one mention of a world class keeper.Why are so many Gooners in denial about Almunia?

  69. I got 21 seconds to go
    I got 21 seconds to go
    Cause if you like me let me know
    Let me in the studio
    I got 21 seconds before I got to go

  70. KT,

    By all means, if we found a ‘world class keeper’ or even any keeper better than Almunia, then we should get him.

    At the start of last season, I felt Mannone had to go out on loan and a new keeper brought in, either to push Almunia, or to give Almunia someone to push.

    I still think Mannone has to go out on loan, so I still think we need a keeper.

    But I don’t think Almunia is anywhere near as bad as most of you claim, so I don’t consider goalkeeping a big way to improve the squad.

  71. Great article Darius (as always).

    consolbob @ 9:41 am – absolutely spot on, excellent post.

    I hate to say it but Andy Gray actually got it spot on during the match. He was basically saying ‘what if we’d had RvP all season and what if Chelsea had lost Drogba, Man U lost Rooney, Liverpool lost Torres??’ We’d have won the league by some margin in my opinion.

    I know that’s a lot of ‘what ifs’ but…

    We have come on leaps and bounds as DS says and as others have mentioned, how many back up players can a team have? Surely our injury record won’t be this bad forever…

  72. Ole – Almunia has been under scrutiny since he started pushing Jens for a first team spot. I think he’s top quality (not among the best 5 in the world) but he’s up there.

    There aren’t any GKs that i know of that would come in and do a better job than him from day one (unless we are prepared to spend £20mil plus) which is completely unrealistic.

  73. On the other hand, KT, if Vela, J.E.T, Wilshere & Coquelin for example were to reach the level Ramsey attained this season, it would be a massive improvement in the squad, improving our ability to go and win the cup competitions. We’ll be even more resilient.

    There will be no risk of buying a player who might not settle immediately. They’re Arsenal lads. They have the requisite quality, they just have to get to a level of physical, mental and tactical development where they’re ready for this league.

    It’s not a glamorous way to improve the squad but it’s a sure way.

  74. @Ratsarse, you say:

    “I’d heard that we had an interest in Given but he was thought too expensive at £13m.”

    Did Wenger, Gazidis, or any of his scouts actually tell you this, or are you just quoteing from the fleet streeters who sit in a pub at lunch time and concoct transfer stories to stop their editors squeezing their chuffers?

    Pray tell, how can you confirm that Arsenal were even interested?

    Also, can we get away from this naive assumption that a players’s cost to Arsenal (or any other team for that matter) is the transfer fee only? We have to also take into account their weekly salary.

    Just as an illustration (and using round figures to make it easier to highlight my point), the cost of a player who’s transfer fee is £15m and signs a 4 year contract at £60K a week is going to be at least £27.48 million.

    We don’t pay these players with Waitrose vouchers you know.

  75. Geo,

    I’m not one of those who think you need a fantastic keeper to win. No, all you need is a competent keeper who plays well with his back 4.

    Brazil have never had a fantastic keeper, yet they win tournament after tournament after tournament.

  76. Come on Ole, join this century will you, the 21st century. Just to clear up thats century number 21 cappiche !!!!

  77. Fook off James. Go fuck yourself.

  78. You’re right DS. I saw that rumour in the press and I’ve no idea if it was true. But if it wasn’t, it probably should have been. Given would have been a great addition.

    I agree Waitrose is probably too expensive for us, Aldi maybe …

    Are you suggesting that buying new players is beyond us ? That’s not what Arsene says and it’s not what DHW was reported as saying today. Or is it that Gazides or a scout has told you differently ?

  79. Actually, today AW said he wouldn’t break the clubs wage structure. Again.

    Along with all that implies.

    So please don’t accuse the manager of saying what he has not.

    It’s up on the Arsenal website.

  80. Geo, commenting on a Tom Huddlestone volley that was shanked so badly it very nearly went out for a throw-in, Andy Gray said “This boy has great technique”. As far as I can see, the odd bit of sense he does make, which is usually wrought with truism, is comfortably outweighed by the utter tripe he spouts for the rest of the game.

    He also shagged his best mate’s wife, so he’s not just a shit commentator, he’s a c*nt too.

  81. Ole – me neither, i was agreeing with you 😉

    Look at Barca – I’d rather have Almunia than Valdes. Almunia prob would have saved Theo’s goal… And the Brazil team, as you say, shows that it is not a necessity.

    Ratsarse – Given has some excellent qualities but when it comes to organising and commanding his area, Almunia beats him every time. Most of our sloppy goals have come from lack of communication and I think Given would have only exacerbated this problem.

  82. You know what was weird, when sky played the song ‘Kissed by a rose’ at half-time, I couldnt help but think they were jumping the gun a bit.

  83. Haha Limpar!! I missed the ‘great technique’ bit!

    Didn’t know he did that either. So my fairly low estimations of him have dropped a few fathoms… (Whoever had an affair with him needs serious help anyway)

  84. No Ratsarse.

    I’m suggesting that buying players who will add value to the Arsenal squad and is affordable both in transfer fees and wages is a bit more complicated than we would like to accept.

    Wenger is on record in saying that there are many many players he has wanted to buy but the deal fell through or the demands were not reasonable. This is partly the reason why Arsenal talks little of transfer prospects and waits until they can parade a player with their new shirt to the media.

    In actual fact, a combination of Wenger and Gazidis are probably the best placed to handle transfers and do it to Arsenal’s best interest. I say this because Gazidis is one of the few people in the world who has in volume, influenced the most player transfers that an individual could, an is perhaps one of the most experienced dealers in the world when it comes to player transfers.

    As the deputy commissioner of the MLS for nearly a decade, every single player transfer passed across his desk.

    I think the frustration for most people is that they think they know what players can truly add value to the squad, more so because they hear these names touted about in the press and by pundits.

    If these pundits were any good in the first place they’d be club managers themselves and not sitting on a sofa and indulging in intellectual masturbation.

    How many people were screaming for Arsenal to get Loric Cana. Don’t you think the Albanian star hatchet man would prefer to play for Arsenal as opposed to Sunderland?

    And what about Vermaelen, ignored for supposedly being too small and too flimsy to survive in the EPL?

    Also, if you think of the past January window, no decent defender with a chance to play at the world cup would have wanted to come warm the Arsenal bench. When we started the season and had a full complement of centre backs, including Alex Song who could be used as cover – who would have anticipated that all 4 preferred CBs will be injured or suspended at the same time; or even 2 left backs at the same time; or even 2 strikers (Bendy and RVP at the same time).

    How many backups are acceptable on the Arsenal payroll just in case? No competent manager in their right mind in any business would sanction that level of resources ‘just in case’.

  85. Darius, I appreciate your nuanced views and always a perspective check for myself. We’re getting there, its probably taking a couple of seasons longer than we hope for but we are taking that big step forward.
    Still, it hurts having being that close and fighting back from the brink twice.

    Ole, I still do find it hard to agree on the fact that we don’t need a new keeper. I’m not sure Almunia can be considered a competent keeper. I’ll exchange some of his shot-stopping points for aerial command if I could. He’s just not balanced in that regard.

  86. in:
    goalie
    david silva
    chamakh
    1.5 CB’s
    +some young potentials

    out:
    eduardo
    rosicky
    fabianski
    silvestre

    swap:
    wallcott + merida for…. pato

    sorted imo

  87. Darius-San,

    Have you ever been kissed by a rose?

  88. It’s OK, everybody. Word has sorted it.

  89. DS. I’m not disputing the complexity of buying or paying the wages of players. Fortunately that’s not my responsibility, all I’m doing is voicing where I think improvements could be made, it’s what supporters have done since football began.

    I agree we’ve had a ridiculous number of injuries this year but is this the first time that it’s happened to us ?

    I may be wrong but wasn’t Djourou injured before the season began ? We know that Gallas is prone to injury and won’t play a full season and we sold Toure. So we were happy to go into this campaign with 1 backup centre back (Song). I think that that was a gamble, and one that didn’t pay off. (Silvestre and Senderos are not up to playing for a team with title ambitions).

  90. Ole @ 1:33

    I think you are pretty much spot on. I would put your #3 as #1 and add upgrading GK to #1.

    Like you I have high hopes for the Wilshire/Vela/Walcott/Ramsey generation but I suspect we will have to wait for 2 or possibly 3 years for that. Even the most talented usually do not really develop until age 22 or 23. Song is a perfect example. Gareth Bale for Spuds was supposed to be the next great LB 3 yrs. ago. When he was poor at first everyone labeled him as a bust but now he is beginning to look like the player everyone expected. It takes time for teenagers to mature. NB has looked much better this year and I expect him to be even better at age 23 or 24. I really believe these kids will be great but if we are counting on them to be consistantly good at age 19 or 20 we are probably asking a little too much. I agree with your #2. Those players are reaching mid 20’s and have the experiance and they need to be consistantly good, not just good in spurts.

  91. I need to thank CBob, Merlot, Ole G and Ateeb for their posts today. These four posts say everything. and of course Darius.

    The droll trolls have three types of posts. Fast, furious, mispelled and get the hell out OR long, turgid and (yawn) OR insistent denial (while feigning support), no matter the subject or facts.

    Someone once said to me, to establish the heart of the matter consider what your view might be in one month, six months, one year, ten years. The few seemingly ‘painful’ episodes of this season will be long forgotten, except as growing pains.

    While the rest of the season remains, and that’s important, the only thing I really care about is Keep THIS squad together, and keep going on THIS journey, with the odd exception. The Song lesson has not yet been learnt properly with regard to all the supposedly ‘weaker’ players.

    Nothing has changed, except more people now expect Arsenal to win everything in sight.

  92. Sorry, and just to add … in some important ways that 20 minute showcase of football by RvP in and of itself – reminiscent of Cesc v Villa – was more important, at least to me, than the rest of the match put together, a reminder of what we did not have, and a testament of what we do have.

    It wasn’t just RvP, you see, surely people noticed what the rest of the team was capable of with him on the field. Substitute or add, as you like, Cesc, Gallas, Vermaelen, Song, Arshavin; the same principle applies.

  93. Hear hear ZimPaul, nice one.

  94. Zp,

    You forgot to mention Word, whose hoping we sign a 1.5 Cb. That surely will be interesting, let’s just hope the FIFA allows him to play, I’m sure we can get a special permit for him if he’s coming from Latin America. And if anyone can find a 1.5 Cb, it’s only Arsene.

  95. Great article.

    Forget about the media comments. Did they call Sir Alex a bad loser when he made the “typical Germans” comment?

  96. Arsefoot; you say:

    “Still, it hurts having being that close and fighting back from the brink twice…”

    Isn’t that the joy of being a supporter and why we travel this roler coaster ride?

    Zim Paul…here here my friend.

  97. DARIUS

    thank you so much for the post today. never before have i needed the wisdom you and yogi have provided like the past 2 days. Thinking of arsenal has been a constant pleasure this season but in the past 48 hours has become a painful endeavor.

    THIS is where you really hit it on the head D-Man:

    “I do actually appreciate an honest and engaging debate that questions what went wrong, discusses where we can improve and celebrates the triumphs we have. That however, is miles different from the stone throwing and name calling that we’ve become so accustomed to from those insisting that it’s the new form of constructive criticism.”

    simply spouting that denilson is a worthless player should not be tolerated. however, I must admit to a double standard as I feel perfectly comfortable writing off mikel silvestre, but based in logic and reason.

    thank you to the level headed ACLFers. Your posts/comments have been my support group for the past 2 days.. and they will continue to be until these wounds really heal.

    we need a smashing performance this sunday.. i want to see from the players that they are just as hurt as we are.. and that they will do anything they can to correct that feeling.

  98. My spelling is just shocking and I haven’t started drinking today yet…LOL!

  99. Zimpaul, rvp and fabregas are your inspiriational players, they get the rest going

  100. Merlot @ 12:58

    that is why this is the best arsenal blog going.. one of the most eloquent things I have ever heard someone say about such a seemingly “simple” thing as supporting a club. you are a star. Im gonna repost cuz its just that good

    “In order, there are reason, belief, hope and faith.

    For many weeks, reason has told us that our brilliant team, eviscerated by injuries, could not win the EPL. “Every match is a cup final”, and no side wins eight successive cup finals.

    But belief in their ability, their resilience, their collective spirit, and the inspired leadership of AW, has kept us transfixed by every moment in breathless anticipation.

    After Wednesday’s setback it would be flying in the face of evidence to sustain belief, so we remain with the fleeting breath of hope – remote, but still lingering.

    What cannot be prised from us is faith. Of course, the faithless must sometimes have their say. We have heard this week a collective scream of relief from those whose predictions and prescriptions this season had already been made to look absurdly inept and were in mortal danger of extinction through ridicule.

    But those of us with faith are now free to celebrate what has been a season of resolute success in the face of adversity. We can enjoy the four remaining games without anxiety.

    And we can look forward to the start of next season, when no-one can seriously doubt that faith, hope, belief and reason will all be flying freely alongside us.”

  101. Ole:

    How has Jay Simpson done this year? Whenever they have loanee updates on the website he seems to be scoring for QPR. At the worst he would be a good 4th striker if we really get Chamakh. No one ever seems to mention him. Another one I would like to see get better is Traore. He has pace and strength and seems to always put in great crosses when he gets forward. He seems to be a defensive liability. Hope he can figure that part out.

  102. Nasir Jones-Nasri

    I was up in the Rocky Mountains visiting my grandparents and was able to catch the game in a casino much to my delight. What is it with Tottenham scoring the most ridiculous goals you’ve ever seen against us? Bentley’s goal last year, and Danny Rose’s this year are some of the flukiest goals I’ve seen in my young Arsenal supporting career.

    What a glorious return for RvP. When it comes to playing football, there are a precious few who are on his level. Gomes single handedly won those 3 points for the Sp*ds. Too bad Almunia couldn’t have matched him.

  103. Zimpaul, have you ever listened to an artist called ‘Seal’?

  104. Bill.

    I think the players with the best chance of breaking into or staying in the first team squad next season are JET, Craig Eastmond, Kieran Gibbs, and Little Jack Willy.

    JET really excites me and he is growing to being that sort of versatile player any squad needs to do a job.

    I think Gibbs will give Clichy a run for his money and I hope the best man wins.

    Eastmond has also shown that he can knuckle down and perform the dark arts in midfield, and Little Jack Willy is adding a nasty ‘bring it on’ streak to his play.

    I wonder how many yellow cards he’s picked up.

    But like I said last week, I don’t think Wenger will buy another keeper and will use Almunia until Tech 9 is ready for the big stage. I think Fabianski and Manone might be disappointed and I see one of them leaving.

    Tech 9 has done really good for Brentford and everyone at Griffin park is singing his praises. I hope that he can secure a Championship loan deal next season that sees him playing day in day out.

    He should be ready for the Arsenal in 2 years, though I suspect that Poland will have added to his caps by then even at the cost of both Boric and Fabianski who are above him in the pecking order of the Polish national team.

  105. James

    Have you ever heard the Four Seasons song, “Silence Is Golden”…

    YW

  106. Darius, Do you think we won’t buy a new keeper because Arsene thinks Almunia is good enough, or because there are none available or because we can’t afford to ? Two years is quite a long time and many competitions to “make do”.

  107. This all shows what a long summer we have ahead of us.

    For those who advocate wholescale changes forget it, our first team is not too far away remember the back to back defeats against man Utd and Chelsea came with us playing Arshavin as loan striker.

    2-3 new players is the sum of what any squad can integrate over a summer. No side has the depth of players advocated by some here look at Man Utd, Inter or Barcelona’s squads.

    it is also likely much of the new players brought in will be funded by those going out

  108. Joe Hart will be available this summer.He has played a whole season and been excellent at Brum

    Dont no-one say he isnt better than Almunia

  109. KT scores the rare triple negative!!

    pure eloquence for someone who clearly knows that joe hart wouldve saved rose’s shot on wednesday

  110. in regards to the goal keeping situation.. you guys remember mannone at fulham??

  111. Katy, Joe Hart is a very good goalkeeper. I enjoy watching him play and he is refreshingly humble in his interviews, but he is no better a goalkeeper than Manuel Almunia is. His mistakes, of which I have witnessed a fair number, are significantly less high-profile because he plays for Birmingham City. He would provide good competition for Fabianski’s No.2 spot perhaps. Most likely he’ll extend his loan at Birmingham.

  112. I don’t think KT said anything like that. Why poke fun at someone for expressing an opinion ?

  113. Darius:

    Hope your right about Jack Willy and JET. History would argue that they are a little to young to really contribute to the first team.

    If I could be a fantasy manager I would love to see the boss buy someone like Mark Schwartzer to bridge the gap to tech 9. He has been superb for Fulham in goal for 2 years. I am not an almunia hater but I still think his inconsistancy hinders our defensive solidarity. The Manc’s run of championships started with Vidic and VDS and I do not think either of them were prohibitively expensive. Hopefully our scouting system can find someone like that. If not we can only hope that Tech 9 grows up very quickly.

    Where do you think JW will play. I sort of see him as a left footed Pires with more bite. He would also be a great central playmaker but hopefully Cesc has that spot for a long time.

    Vela can be alot like Malouda in Chelsea. Ramsey may play in a role similar to Gerrard or Lampard. I am not sure about Theo. I know he wants to be a striker but his skill set seems better suited for a winger. Maybe Ljunberg or Overmars with lots of pace.

    I do not know enough about JET or Eastmond except to say that hopefully both are as good as advertised.

    I think JW and Ramsey have the best chance to turn into true world class players. Theo possibly. Time will tell. Lots to look forward too.

  114. Ateeb. It’s hard not to laugh when a post ends … “sorted imo”. Monopoly football. I could make a fortune with that board game. Now, there’s a thought …

  115. Ivan … “What do you need Arsene?”
    Arsene … “1.5 Cbs Ivan”
    Ivan … “Sorry, I don’t really understand the technical side of the game”.
    Arsene … “That’s either one really big 9 foot monster and a half or one medium and a little one, you know 1.5, it’s like mathematics, you’re an accountant”.
    Ivan … “OK, I’ll put it to the Board. Anything else?”.
    Arsene … “Just tell them Word says so, they’ll understand”.
    Ivan … “OK. Sorted. IMO”.

  116. Ratsarse.

    If we put away all the chances we create; or if as expected, all the players turn up in the game; or if we go through a season with fewer injuries; I’d hazard a guess that fewer people will moan about Almunia.

    You could always argue that the entire defence all season have been as culpable as Almunia, or that we should have taken all the chances we had in games that we drew or lost, or that we should have had all our players injury free; but that would be what I’d call a vicious cycle of blame that really doesn’t help address the need to build on what we’ve achieved so far and improve ourselves.

    I don’t believe that Almunia is the silver bullet of a problem that we have and so scape-goating him is easy for his mistakes are the most costly.

    If we find a better keeper that we can afford, by all means, let’s get one because it improves the squad.

    The league table doesn’t lie and if we think about it rationally, Almunia has made a good enough contribution to make sure that Arsenal is 3rd in the league table and still with a chance for second. Over 38 games, perhaps only Cech and Van Der Sar have done better.

    If Shay Given was as good as we say, then Man City would have been at the top of the pile – and so would the other keepers being bandied about.

    Football is a team game and you can’t always blame one individual.

    Saying that, I think Wenger already knows he has a world class keeper in Tech 9.

  117. LA

    that shows how weak we are in the keeper positions when the guy pushing Almunia is Fabianski.

    Hart,Schwarzer,Friedal and Gordon all keepers outside the top four clubs are all better than Almunia

    If Almunia played for another club we would be laughing at him

  118. There’s such a thing as a goalkeepers’ club. You’ll notice they never laugh at each other. That’s because they know something about it, unlike people who type piffle on blogs.

  119. DS. Absolutely agree that we could point the finger all over the team but that’s just silly.

    But I do think that the GK is a little different and over a season or two or five can save a lot of points for a team. Someone (on the web yes) quoted statistics in which Almunia didn’t compare well with most other premiership keepers. Although there are lies, damned lies etc etc, I think that with a better keeper we’d still be in the running for the title, even given all of our other bad luck and injuries.

  120. ratsarse.. i was inferring that KT was airing that opinion in response to almunia’s recent errors that have cost us. as such, there is no way for him, or me, or you to know that hart wouldve made a difference..

    thats the one thing i cant stand about the doom and gloom squad. They feel as if their belligerent advice had been followed, that we would have been guaranteed an alternative outcome. that is simply not the case and is demonstrative of the lowly mental capacity many of these “supporters” posses

  121. Ratsarse.

    A GK’s position is the most contentious position for the reason that mistakes almost inevitably leads to goals. It’s a thankless job, and a game like the first leg against Barca at the Emirates shows how quickly you can turn from hero to villain.

    KT up there has named 3 or 4 kepers who are supposedly better.

    The question I’d ask, is that if they are that better than Almunia, why is Arsenal 3rd on the table and the teams that the GK’s mentioned play for are way below Arsenal.

    I’ll admit, Almunia is not a Hollywood name like the ilk of Cech or VDS, and so are our other keepers.

    I think a lot of folks would feel better by having a recognized household name in goal even if it’s for comfort.

    In truth, Almunia’s mistakes shouldn’t be given any more air time than say Bendtner’s howlers or Arshavin’s off days or our defence going missing.

    He has saved us more points this season than he has lost us and that has to count for something. In the same token, our strikers could have gained us more points this season than we have got – and yet again we come back to that vicious cycle..

    I’d like to see Gigi Buffon and Lionel Messi at Arsenal, but then again, I’d like a brand new Jaguar XF in metallic midnight black.

  122. Once again NJG, just because you insult people who disagree with you doesn’t make their opinion any less valid. What’s belligerent about daring to suggest that the team isn’t perfect ? As you say, no one can tell what might have been.

  123. cambell and silvestre were 0.5 each. ie they can fill in when needed… a young trainie like djourou was a few years ago also counts as 0.5 ‘IMO’!

    and its hardly monopoly football with sales of eduardo and rosicky bringing in hopefully 12m or so. Some others could easily raise a few extra pounds but we shouldn’t really struggle money wise when we have actually made 4m on transfers since 2005

    A quality outright winger like silva is exactly what we need to supply chamakh when plan A fails as it so often does. he is a quality international, I really dont see the problem in adding one of them.

    wenger is clever enough to get a good goalie for less than 6-7m MAX im pretty sure. chamakh is free dont forget.

    and yes there is a slight element of tounge and cheek there with the ‘sorted’. some may say foot and mouth but thats your opinion….

  124. Katy, you talk about the most difficult job on the football pitch, in the most competitive league in world football, as if it were a piece of piss.

    Fabianski is going to be a fantastic goalkeeper one day, he’s well on his way already.

    Craig Gordan is fucking pony, and the other keepers you mention have one foot in the MLS.

    You forget too quickly Manuel Almunia’s heroics against Barca at the Emirates. That was a world class performance.

  125. 0.5? The sales of Rosicky and Eduardo? What the fuck are you on about, word?

  126. Haha Zimpaul…..I think it’s a brilliant idea. In a hypothetical circumstance where the 1.5 Cb is penalized with a red card, we’d still have a 0.5 player to hold the defense. And he would come in handy since many a times, we have to play against 12 men, which includes the biased referees. This could be our fight back, to play with 11.5 players!

  127. Oh dear, Oh dear……..

    Word forgot to take his medicine again. He’s the closest person to Santino that i’ve encountered on this blog. Where is Santino, did he too went away with Alex?

  128. Bill.

    I think JW will settle in the front left position that Arshavin normally plays.

    I try to watch all Bolton games that he starts and he does give them something out there and is learning quick.

    I remember their last game against Man United when his quick feet and creativity created two chances out of nothing for Elmanda and Muamba.

    Muamba’s first time shot from JW’s slick assist was quite sweet and VDS had to go spoil it by making a world class save.

    AGainst Chelsea, I laughed when Little Jack Willy tangled with John Terry and came out with a yellow card. It looks like Bolton is really hardening the young fella.

    The question of GK is really a difficult one, and I’d hazard a guess that Wenger will sort out other parts of the team to allow Almunia to carry us through to Tech 9’s first team debut.

    Craig Eastmond has really shown some quality and like most, needs the pitch time to blossom. I particularly liked him when he played hard games like Liverpool (Carling cup) and Stoke in the FA cup. I was quite surprised that he got the nod to the first team before Le Coq who runs the defensive midfield role for Team B.

    But I think a midfield of Eastmond, Ramsey and JET, especially if they continue playing together will be as solid as they come.

    Vela also needs game time. It’s unreasonable to expect him to deliver with the little cameos he makes….he does need a stretch of games and the league and FA cups are really the best route for him.

    I still feel that Vela and Eduardo are still the most clinical finishers we have, but they have to get the mileage to build up their confidence.

    You’ll probably see more of Vela’s quality at the world cup.

  129. rosicky broke my heart what can I say. I still love him but I feel hes holding me back. My mumma says I’m better than that.

  130. Personally, anyone who says Almunia is not good enough and the solution is Schwartzer or Joe Hart …..

  131. Everyone needs to temper their reactions a bit. Look what we have in our squad:

    The best young midfielder in the game (Cesc)

    A striker with nearly unmatched skill (RVP)

    A little Russian magician

    The best defensive acquisition of the season (the Verminator)

    a great dane that has shown he is growing into quite a threat

    and the most improved player in the entire prem (Song)

    This squad will dominate if we can just manage a year without them being assaulted on the football pitch.

    I love this team and would never support another…The Arsenal will be victorious and it will be oh so sweet when it happens.

  132. ratsarse

    i perfectly welcome any sort of disagreement. what was belligerent about his post was that all he saide was “Dont no-one say he isnt better than Almunia” that is not an opinion, as i know it. an opinion must be defended, it must stand up to a critical look at what it is based in. my conclusion was that KT based his opinion on nothing more than a “grass is greener” mentality and maybe a little bit of xenophobia (the notion that joe hart > almunia solely based on their nationality). so therefore i feel vindicated in “insulting” him, because I am not insulting his desire to voice his opinion, nor the fact that his is a “dissenting” opinion, but rather that he is in fact an idiot, for he believes that that is a worthwile statement.

  133. you guys are so myopic sometimes honestly.

    gallas cannot be relied upon for a whole season. silvestre needs to go. cambell should stay for morale but really he not even half a player when you are planning over a season.

    Is Djourou really the best partner for vermaelen for the next 2-3 years? I’m not sure. behind that we have who? nordviet? I think we need 1 more quality international here as song need to concentrate on midfield alone unless we are completely desperate.

    the extra fill in man (0.5 = half a player) may not be neccesary but I’d rather be safe than sorry. Sorry really fucking hurts

  134. darius hard to argue that eduardo, vela are our best finishers without including RvP. i mean how much more clinical does it get than his performance the other night? I mean that was truly remarkable. not only did he expose the massive gap technically between himself and bendtner, but it left myself and all other gooners cursing the ridicilousness that is international friendlies

  135. Darius:

    Good stuff. Agree with you about JW. Love his fighting spirit. Arshavins spot will be perfect for him. With regards to JET, Eastmond etc I have not seen enough to make intelligent comments about them. What I have seen of Le Coq he has looked great. I was surprised too that Eastmond has moved ahead.

    I love to watch Vela in the Carling Cup games. I hope he can turn on that kind of style consistantly at some point. I think his skills are awesome. Hopefully the world cup will give him the confidence needed to move up 2 or 3 levels. Still think we will not see the best of him or any of these players until they hit 23 or 24.

    What is your honest opinion about Jay Simpson and Theo.

    Regarding GK you are right. Obviously Almunia divides opinions. Myself I think that he has become such a polarizing figure and he has been at best inconsistant. Sometimes great and sometimes not so good. I think we could certainly find someone who is as good if not better and more consistant. Sometimes even if the player you bring in is not a HUGE upgrade in talent and ability, just making a change can help. As you know I think we do need to do something different in the back if we really want to win the league next year.

  136. Seeing as I’m a tactics and analysis guy, I’ve been trying to understand Wenger’s direction on the pitch for the subsequent years. Previous years I’ve been certain that he’s going a possession/movement route – now it’s about speed of passing, unpredictability and energy.

    That’s what the analysis has given me of his changes in the past few seasons (I highlighted last seasons changes, I think, and which has lead to what we are seeing this season – i.e. pressuring, variety, dynamism) but how much of it is temporary, in order to develop his young guns?

    I think in the end he will look to marry the two – so next season still expect the 4-3-3 because RVP is now sharing the throne with Cesc but if Chamakh signs and no-one up front leaves (because Vela and Eduardo are to players), then it will create a surplus of top forwards.

  137. Viceologist, I think you’ll find the best young midfielder in the game is Lee Cattermole.

  138. Well said Darius.

    The only point I would disagree with you on is that it is our hardcore support that is preaching nonsense. In my experience it is much more to do with the vast numbers of new support you find at the Grove now. You only tend to find our hardcore support away in Europe – they tend not to be able to afford the cost of getting into the ground anymore (just see the pubs around the ground during home games).

    I do believe we are going in the right direction – and one or two additions as you suggest this summer (especially a goal keeper) will make all the difference.

    Keep the faith,

  139. Didn’t Wenger say Ramsey would be out for a year? I doubt he’ll be ready to play by the start of next season. Eduardo suffered an injury of similar seriousness over two years ago, and he still hasn’t recovered.

  140. Very few people are listing Jay Simpson among the youngsters ready for a turn in the first team, despite that he has scored 13 goals for QPR this season.

  141. I think Wenger said Ramsey would not play until the New Year at least, but in all likelihood, he won’t be expected to contribute until 2011-2012 season. It would be great to see him come back before then, and maybe provide a boost to the team in the title run-in next season.

  142. Word at 2:43 pm has me truly “sorted.”

    Ins – 4.5 players
    Outs – 4 from 1st team squad
    Swaps: 2 Ars for 1 AC-Milan.

    This defines football stupidity. But then this is what passes for conventional wisdom on the conventional Arsenal blog. Such stupidity is even welcome and spun into “hatred” for Wenger’s frugality.

    Word – I will simply scroll by your posts from now on.

  143. ‘Aaron suffered a broken leg against Stoke City in February but has made good progress in his recovery and could return to action in the autumn. “Aaron will make a full recovery,” confirmed physio Colin Lewin. “Other footballers have suffered a similar injury. The surgery went very well and the early signs are very good. We don’t expect Aaron to return until the early autumn. He has some metalwork in there and that provides the stability for the fracture. The specialists have encouraged him to walk and this weight-bearing will aid the fracture healing. It’s early days but the signs are very good.”‘

    Gary Lewin

  144. World Cup 2010

    A quick look at the 2010 WC shows why we have even more reason to be optimistic for next season.

    Bendtner: More experience, and not overplayed this season

    Djourou: Will hopefully get some needed playing time in South Africa. Will still be rested after his long lay-off

    Rosicky-summer of rest

    Arshavin-summer of rest

    Fabregas-will probably take a back seat again, and so will be more rested than if playing every game.

    Vermaelen-summer of rest

    Walcott-needs more time. Will get selected.

    Eduardo-summer of strengthening

    Gallas-injuries, contract problems plus WC mean he may not come back. Still want him to return though, but maybe not to be counted on as a first XI player.

    Clichy-will be able to rest behind Evra

    Sagna-takes care of himself, so WC may not affect as much. Also has been subbed more recently for Eboue

    Diaby-I hope he plays and has a successful WC. Looks to have taken a confidence hit since the first Barca game.

    Nasri-should contribute to France’s effort.

    RVP-World Cup will be good for him after a frustrating season

    Denilson-unlikely to make the squad. Not overused this season.

    Vela-needs the WC experience

    Song-An extended break before the WC is probably a good thing as he’s been tireless until his injury.

    Eboue-will raise his profile at this year’s WC. Could shine. Not overused this season by any means.

    Campbell-I would not be shocked if Capello springs a surprise here, although the odds are slim.

    None of the keepers will feature. That’s a shame, although I think Arsene will bring a keeper on.

  145. ‘Aaron suffered a broken leg against Stoke City in February but has made good progress in his recovery and could return to action in the autumn. “Aaron will make a full recovery,” confirmed physio Colin Lewin. “Other footballers have suffered a similar injury. The surgery went very well and the early signs are very good. We don’t expect Aaron to return until the early autumn. He has some metalwork in there and that provides the stability for the fracture. The specialists have encouraged him to walk and this weight-bearing will aid the fracture healing. It’s early days but the signs are very good.”‘

    Gary Lewin

    Apologies if this appears twice the fucking stupid fuckwitting web fucker machine is fucked up.

  146. Compare this to Chelsea:

    They are getting older. Terry, Lampard, Anelka, Malouda and Drogba played the most games for them and all will feature prominently in the WC. They will be knackered for next season.

    We win next season by at least 4 points regardless of transfer activity in the summer from the other teams.

    I predicted Chelsea would win by 4-6 points this season with Arsenal taking 2nd place. I still think that will happen.

  147. Well whoop di fucking do, Lagooner

  148. I posted Gary Lewin’s comments about Aaron. he will be back in the autumn. Sadly the comments have disappeared. This fucking wordpress arsehole has decided my comments are not worthy. Probably pop up later just to make me look ridiculous. Or even not at all which is even worse.

  149. See what can you do. These machines are complete twats.

  150. Takeover the fucking world…computers? Very unlikely I would say. If they had an ounce of sentience this comment would not appear.

  151. See….point well and truly proven. Fucking bastard machines. No better than a bit of flint. Sorry Flint..not you. Computer! I’d rather have a probing tool anyday.

  152. Hold on a minute all my bank accounts have been emptied. What the fucks going on? Back in a minute.

  153. Ramsey back in the autumn Frank ?

    Excellent news.

  154. I’ve been hearing rumours of a Europe-wide ban on competitive sports. It’s just too detrimental to the mental health of the competitors. Before long, football matches will be played by special robots.

  155. Roster Stats: Top 10 Key Players

    Terry (49 games), Lampard (46 games), Cech (40 games) Malouda (38 games) Anelka (38 games) Ivanovic (36 games) Obi Mikel (32 games) Carvalho (31 games) A.Cole (30 games) Essien (21 games)

    Vermaelen (43 games) Fabregas (34 games) Song (34 games) Gallas (33 games) Sagna (33 games) Arshavin (30 games) Diaby (30 games) Clichy (27 games) Bendtner (18 games) Van Persie (14 games)

    73 games difference:

    In fairness, Chelsea have played 3 more F.A Cup games, but even taking this into consideration, it would be a 47 game difference, and Arsene would still have rested certain key players for the F.A.Cup latter rounds.

    Add this to the extra games Chelsea players will be playing at the WC and their average age (29 years average compared to Arsenal’s 25 years average), and they will be wilting next season.

  156. Physio Room projects Ramsey’s return by Oct 2010, but it would be a huge shock if he contributes before the New Year.

  157. Frank-in meltdown mode again?

  158. Ole @ 5:00PM

    Almunia is not as bad as some make him out to be and the scapegoat thing gets out of control. However, I would think even you would have to admit that he is inconsistant. Maybe other keepers are just as inconsistant. Most Arsenal fans do not watch alot of games that other teams play. If we had a choice do you really want to start next season with MA in goal?

  159. I also heard it was an autumn return for Ramsey.

    I think a lot of people are assuming that any leg break will keep them out for a year, evidencing Eduardo and Diaby as examples. However Ramsey’s break was much less ‘serious’ in the sense that it was high on the shin and was a clean break, whereas Ed and Diaby’s breaks were on the ankle i.e. a joint so there would be much more significant soft tissue damage; cartilage, tendons and ligaments.

    This is further evidenced with the fact he is already ‘weight bearing’. There is no way Diaby and Ed were weight bearing after such a short period.

    In short, THERE’S ONLY ONE AARON RAMSEY!

  160. Competitive sport is the modern equivalent of the gladiatorial combat so popular among the plebs of the Roman Empire, with the difference that the gladiators inflicted physical hurt, whereas modern “sport” inflicts longer-lasting, psychological hurt.

    It’s a little-known fact that the success of the victorious gladiators was often marred by the trauma they suffered from injuring their fellow combatants. It was common for the most vicious gladiators to need extensive counselling. They could often be seen rushing to the offices of celebrity psychoanalysts in between sessions of servicing high-born ladies.

  161. ALMUNIA FUELS ARSENAL COLLAPSE

    London Emirates 2am : Arsenal directors burned the midnight oil when they realised the game was up. A last ditch phone call was placed to the offices of 10 Downing Street to rescue the club following the cataclysmic effects of Almunia punching the ball out of his area which resulted in the concession of the first goal to tottenham hotspurs.

    Government auditors, combined with the EU compliance unit stormed the Deloitte Accountancy firm and Emirates stadium in a combined raid to inspect the credentials of one Manuel Almunia. The question being raised, was how this player had conspired, through on the pitch negligence and incompetence, to ensure that Arsenal only finished 3rd in the premiership.

    According to reports, a study was made of 100 keepers across the lead, and according to analysis by leading sports scientists, the conclusion was that Almunia’s reactions were 1/1000000000 of a second slower than other top premiership goalkeepers, which made them conclude that he was part of a wider conspiracy to ensure the preservation of the monopoly by Manchester United and Chelsea.

    Months earlier a comprehensive stakeout by special branch concluded that at several points in the season Almunia looked suspicious by growing a goatee and was absent for a number of games. There was speculation that he was deliberately slowing down his reactions during his absence.

    The focus increased on Almunia however after the tottenham game, where the media, pundits and supporters concluded that he was the main reason for Arsenal’s underperformance. A media frenzy, whipped up by a disaffected blogging sector, caught the attention of special branch, who then recommended his arrest. The subsequent revelations caused the revenue to audit the accounts and call the club into administration, when it was revealed that Almunia was paid more than the groundsman.

  162. Huge shock? Wonderful surprise is the term I would use.

    Hilarious, Moopay. Et tu, Pz

  163. I knew it!

    You nailed him there Muppet, the useless bugger.

  164. Muppet – Now I am truly “sorted.”

    No more Almunianitis.

  165. Poliziano @ 5.59

    I love Jay. I hope he gets a chance with us. Make him 7th choice striker for 1 season.

    he’s a determined little bugger, and he just might take his chance.

  166. Oh come on you miserable tinies. Fluke it over the chavs….Tot Ten Ham….Give us this day.

    I’m allowed to cheer the spuds tomorrow because they’re playing a team slightly less odious.

  167. Thanks for the solid post Darius.

    IMO…
    Almunia sucks. Now I can hear you all saying:

    “But axis, he’s basically been keeping us in the title race without a defense! The 4 at the back has been a patchwork injured rotation right through the heart of the season!”

    Bollocks I say! If he was any good he’d not need those 4 blokes there protecting his sorry ass! Truth be told, we’re short 4 midfielders on account of his incompetence…Shay Given doesn’t need defenders, so what’s wrong with Almunia, heh?

    What a joke! All he has to do is get between the ball and the net.

  168. Axis – You write like a man/woman inspired….by Muppet. ACLFers are on fire today.

  169. Thanks…(and I’m a man. 🙂

  170. Ole, they’ve already achieved the pinnacle of their season, so I expect them to lie down and die now that they’ve had their equivalent of ‘winning the league’!

  171. http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/wenger-cesc-s-contract-should-be-respected

    A man at the end of his tether! I’m amazed that he has been so patient with them, but it is now beyond irritating.

  172. a fungus-coated right hand

    Please Wenger try Sagna at CB against Wigan. It’s the most forward-looking move you can make this week.

  173. Won’t it be a more defensive move?

  174. Passenal,

    Arsene should be applauded for the way he has always kept his cool with regards to the Cesc rumors. If I was in his place, I’d be behind bars for knocking our a few prick journalists. It is the most recycled and ridiculous story circulating since last year, when the lesser ronaldo completed his move.

  175. 1 loose cannon

    Passenal- True I think they will be doing a bus tour to celebrate beating us and of course the Ccub will flog them DVDs of the game aswell. If we decide to make DVDs of us beating them we would have a bockbuster shop full. Anyway they’ve been under our feet for so long let them breathe for a bit. Normality will resume next season.

  176. 1 loose cannon

    This is that idiotic fake Irish Townsend at his best. according to him Bale is better than Arshavin and Palacios is better than Song. What a fool. Can anyone tell me what did Harry the fraudster achieve at Spurs with all that money he spent. to mention him in the same sentence as Wenger is a crime. We are 3rd in the table and they are struggling to hold on to that fifth spot Oubvoisly our 11 is better than theirs. WHAT A FOOL http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1266617/Andy-Townsend-Spurs-winning-turf-war-derby-rivals-Arsenal.html

  177. Does anyone think we need a better goalkeeper ?

  178. Limestone Gunner

    Ratarse, Wenger thinks we need a better goalkeeper, if the rumors of a late effort to sign Sorensen in January are true.

  179. http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/news-and-comment/james-lawton-for-the-good-of-the-game-wenger-must-keep-his-faith-1946205.html

    “One line in the epilogue is surely beyond doubt. It is that Arsenal without Wenger would not only be a grievous mistake. It would also be like a meal without wine, a day without sunshine. A wise Arsenal surely waits a little longer for the banquet.”

  180. I second that, MDGunner.

  181. and …. first prize for the oddest name and post … a fungus coated right hand … and trust me it wasn’t easy to write your name out. Dark and scary regions of my mind say “don’t go there”.

  182. LATEST … BREAKING NEWS … STOP PRESS

    It has now been revealed that The Alumunia Affair, as many are now calling it, was the main reason Prime Minister Gordon Brown shocked his cabinet with the announcement of a snap General Election. Palace sources are discreetly said to be unnerved by revelations that Alumunia might even become British. The effect on Iceland has been devastating, a train of events starting with Almunia’s punch at White Hart Lane, that scientists believe led to the massive volcano eruption, via the Hadron Collider. Dark matter is said to be involved, but Sir Alex Ferguson has angrily denied reports that his nose is affected.

  183. Are you sure those events are connected ZimPaul ? Do you have inside information or is it just a rumour you’ve picked up from the press ? ‘Cause I’ve got to say I never realised Almunia was that bad …

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