What Cost For Arsenal In Fighting The Establishment

I was fortunate enough this weekend to find an original script from “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly”. Even in the 1960s, there were Arsenal fans everywhere willing to have a laugh at the Tiny Tots expense.

Tuco’s line may have be adjusted in the final cut but this version has more bite: “There are two kinds of spurs, my friend. Those that come in by the door, [crosses himself] those that will never win the league again.”

Well, I’m slacking off today, something called work apparently although Lord knows what that is, so here’s Darius, four minutes and sixteen seconds later than usual.

Change management is perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the development of any organisation.  In a nutshell, it can be defined as a structured approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organisations from a current state to a desired future state.

Whether we recognise it or not, change management happens every day in every walk of life.  It happens in our relationships as people grow together and a life circumstance e.g. becoming parents changes us.  It happens in companies and organisations up and down the country.  It happens to public bodies like the Police who are constantly in a dog fight to grasp the cultural sensitivities needed to function in a multi-cultural society.

It certainly happens in football, and it’s been happening at Arsenal for the last decade.  It’s been happening with Spanish and German football for roughly the same period – and the fruits of this labour e.g. the respective performances of these nations in the recently concluded World Cup is there for all to see, in spite of the difficult and lean years of development.

Arsenal however, does not exist in a vacuum, and so the challenge of transitioning from the Arsenal of the old to a 21st century super power that will straddle the footballing landscape for years to come is riddled with obstacles.

The biggest and ugliest obstacle in this case is the establishment, one that is determined to hold on to regressive and dangerous cultural norms and characteristics.  It is willing to fight tooth and nail to retain its identity and comfort zone, regardless of the cost of not evolving.  It is adept at burying its head in the sand, protesting the notion that evolution can actually be a good thing.

In a week that has seen two players break their ankles with extensive ligament damage, we see a perfect illustration from an establishment not capable of understanding why it needs to change.  We are told that it’s either the English way or the highway when it comes to Premier league football. A place where blood and thunder, guts and graft, kick and rush football reigns supreme.

My take is that anti-Arsenalism, if I that is what I can call it, is a reality within English football.  If you understand change management, then you will recognise the coherent and relentless bias against Arsenal as a natural reaction to a team that by virtue of engaging in a progressive and ambitious change process is challenging the very reality and identity of English football.

Arsenal has evolved significantly in the last decade.  The relocation to a bigger and better stadium; development of a sustainable youth system; excellent management of the business of the club during hard economic times; nurturing and developing an ethos and style of football that is orgasmic in every sense – all contribute to a success template that clubs up and down the land are desperate to follow as a means of surviving the ruthless environment of the 21st century game.

The irony is that despite the recognised merits of what Arsenal has done, the footballing establishment as a collective refuses to acknowledge this fact, whilst at the same time lamenting that something has to be done to improve the current state of English football.

By doing what we do best, Arsenal has managed to evolve with the times, while at the same time pointing a mirror back at the English footballing establishment.  Not surprisingly, what is reflected back is ugly and they don’t like what they see.  It’s a template of how you can run a club and still be competitive by playing expansive football.  It’s a lesson on how the country as a whole can approach development and can coach youngsters from a very tender age in playing football in the right way.

But as with any organisation that fears change, the establishment reverts to type and bites back.  Xenophobia kicks in, and it’s validated as a legitimate rationale for what ails English football.  Desperation kicks in as we hang on to the tenets of a Neolithic approach to football.  We promote the virtues of violence and thuggery on the field in the name of physicality and a brand of quintessentially English football.

When Wenger complains that his players are being targeted, Arsenal are considered as whingers with a bunch of soft brittle boned foreigners who can’t hack playing up north on dark and cold winter nights.

When Arsenal’s players have their legs broken; we’re told that the culprits are honest committed individuals who are just clumsy, and it’s Arsenal’s fault for having quick and nimble players.  Why the hell can’t they just stand still and take the tackle?

Whenever you hear a player being described by the English pundits and hacks, the first thing they almost certainly say is “he’s quick, he’s strong, he’s very tall, and he’s physical”.  It has nothing to do with whether they can play football.  And you wonder why England keeps getting pounded in international tournaments.

What was interesting yesterday is that one of the most anti-Arsenal journalists on the most anti-Arsenal radio station dedicated over 2 hours to plead to the English establishment to start listening to Arsène  Wenger on the issue of referees protecting Arsenal’s technically gifted players from the uncouth thugs who masquerade as committed physical players.

It had nothing to do with the fact that two players nearly had their careers brought to an end with ankle breaks in one weekend.  It ironically was about the cynical fear that an English player – Jack Wilshere – now needs to be protected from these savages because he is the future of England.  Make what you will from the sudden morality attack.

What isn’t in doubt is that Arsenal continue to do the right thing and we will unfortunately do so while suffering the wrath of an establishment for daring to challenge the status quo.  It’s a cost we have to pay.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on September 20, 2010, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 216 Comments.

  1. wow….weird timing….guess im not the only insomniac around?

  2. Nice piece Darius. When Arsenal start ruling the roost (with our English youth) all these ancient fools will need to change their outlook on what type of football they want.

    It is thanks to Arsene’s forethought and excellent scouting system that we will also have succeeded with a sensible budget.

  3. Tres.
    It’s going to be a long season – good results yesterday for the opposition

  4. MD only 33 more PL games to go win all them and we will be champions :-).

  5. I wasn’t complaining Dups 😉 it just does not always do my nerves any good.

  6. PTangYangKipperBang

    Absolutely brilliant! There is a lot of truth there. If you think about it, if Arsenal succeed by winning the Prem or CL. Some big clubs/powerful people will be embarrassed. Big spenders and debt accumulators of the last few years will be humiliated. Arsenal would have successfully moved home in fantastic style (in Islington). Evolved a playing culture and ethos known globally. Maintained throughout the transition period top table results (European top 8 seed). Quietly and massively invested in youth so that there is a staggered “treadmill” of top talent being produced, creating almost an internal transfer market. And all the time paying small money for players and turning a profit every year. Oh, and playing beautiful football which everybody drools over. Heads would surely roll and I think there is moves behind the scenes to discredit Arsenal. I know it sounds paranoid but when you look at the media coverage it is unbelievable. MOTD portraying AW as a whinger by showing him complaining about bad challenges then showing a selection of good challenges by Bolton and not the hideous challenge on Diaby to which the great man had referred. Victoria Concordia Crescit

  7. Now the FA is thinking of charging Wenger for a slight sarcastic shove on the 4th official after Dowd played Fergie time for Sunderland.

    Did anyone else see Rooney shove Howard Webb at about 27 minutes into the Liverpool match?

    Fergie himself got into an argument with the 4th official not too long afterwards. You could see him yelling and laying his hands on the 4th official as well.

    If Wenger is charged, Rooney and Ferguson must be charged as well, otherwise this just stinks of anti-french racism by the FA.

  8. Who was the journalist referred to?
    I guessing the station was Talk Shite?

    Keep up the good work fellas

  9. Brilliant piece. Sadly, many pundits–many of whom are slow-witted ex-players–would either not understand it or nod their heads and agree wholeheartedly, completely oblivious to the fact that they themselves are the target of it.

    It smacks of hypocrisy that Germany was lauded during the World Cup for reinventing the country’s footballing culture and identity, yet Arsene and Arsenal are treated as a threat to the English game for doing the same thing on a smaller scale. As our English youngsters are brought into the fold however, critics will have no choice but stand up and take notice. Don’t expect a mea culpa from any of them, but hopefully they’ll realize how much Arsene has done for English football as a whole.

  10. my thought is that the anti-Arsenal bias is the influence of Murdoch, who always engineers an us v. them narrative to draw in the nitwit viewers who must see everything in black and white terms. And if you want to be a pundit in the Murdoch controlled media, you have to espouse the party line. Arsenal is portrayed as the enemy of everything English football stands for, and by extension the enemy of England. It’s ridiculous, of course, but a lot of people buy this stuff hook, line and sinker.

  11. Frank Booth – most pundits wouldn’t know the Berlin wall fell even if it hit them on the way down.


    The tangible illustration of Murdoch’s power is evident when ridiculous outlets like Fox News are able to drive an extremist right wing agenda under the guise of running a TV station. Divide and rule is more of the situation rather than black or white – us vs them mentality.

    The irony is that the EPL wouldn’t be what it is without the foreign players, the foreign managers, the foreign owners, and believe it or not, the tens of millions of foreigners who watch the EPL week in week out around the world. Sky’s business model only works because they can sell the rights to EPL games all over the world to the so called foreigners.

  12. Excellent piece of writing. I have nothing to add. How you’ve said it is exactly how I see it.

  13. Nail on the head,no more to add.

  14. Best piece of Football journalism I’ve read……in a long while. Ever even?

  15. “I know it sounds paranoid but when you look at the media coverage it is unbelievable.”

    PTangYangKipperBang. No, it’s not paranoid. The coherent nature and relentless consistency of the anti-Arsenalism out there is not isolated. Part of the plot is to portray the voices of reason as being paranoid.

    The cost to the establishment (loss of identity and realisation that there is an alternative way from the status quo) of Arsenal succeeding is unacceptable to the establishment.

    The bias is represented in many ways from the negative and biased opinions of commentators, pundits and hacks, to the equilibrium of the scheduling Arsenal match coverage on radio and TV in preference to Chelsea and United.

    The evidence is there for all to see unless you want to continue thinking that it’s a conspiracy that has no basis. I suppose it’s easier to accept certain arguements if Arsenal were continuously flawed footballistically, and in the way we run our club – but it’s ironic that Arsenal is simply hated because we are different.

  16. As already said Darius, that piece is bang on the money. Very well analysed.

    I will add that, in the days when I actually worked for a salary (dark, dark days), I led an organisation through massive change.

    We were subject to attacks from all sides and accused of all sorts of things. We did get to where we wanted to be but that never made us popular or acceptable in some quarters. Many other organisations followed and they reaped the benefits without the associated rancour of others. We were the first, you see.

    Only by our success could we earn, grudging, respect. I suspect the same will prove to be true about Arsenal. First to tread the road. The jibes will not go away.

    It doesn’t matter. It is our club, if our success rankles with others, well, all the better when we rub their noses in it.

    We are the Arsenal. Fuck ’em all.

  17. I am willing to bet that if we win the lge this year the media/pundit reaction will be something like this:

    “Arsenal deserved to win the lge, they play such nice football………but until they win tropheys on a consistant basis (as Chelase and Manure have done) they will have proved nothing”.

    You just watch.

  18. Consolsbob.

    Like you, I have had the thankless privilige of leading a change process in a few organizations. With time, I learnt not to be phased by the baklash that came with the job and in some weird way, I thrived on it.

    The characteristics of the response from the establishment in all cases, including what we see as the reaction to Arsenal is eerily similar in every sense.

    The biggest internal challenge Wenger and the club faced is carrying a critical mass (we were never going to bring everyone along) the supporters with them, and this I think – has been done remarkably well despite what the Triple A might want you to believe.

    The critical mass is with the positive forces though, and even if we haven’t put together the final pieces of the jigsaw – the trophies – these will naturally come as a by-product of the good work that has been done so far.

    In a lot of ways, I don’t think the hacks and pundits have the intelligence to understand how and why Arsenal has been leading the change. But if you analyse Chelsea and United for example (I’m sticking to these 2 clubs as they’re our nearest rivals) – you’ll see that they’re already putting into practice the Arsenal template, albeit about 8 years too late.

    I remember an interview when Guus Hiddink was asked his thoughts on the way forward for Chelsea after he left, and he specifically said that he told Abramovich in no uncertain terms that the faster he got to the model Arsenal was using, the better it will make life easier for Chelsea.

    The irony is that the media attach more credence to these latter day attempts by Chelsea and United to push through a youth system as an alternative to cheque book management; yet they ignore that Arsenal has been at this for a much longer time and that we’re bearing the fruits of this.

    Even if all our academy players don’t make it to the Arsenal first team – they will be sold on for good business, and more importantly, they will have been schooled to play quality football that can only be good for the game overall.

  19. Maybe a tad over-dramatic but still a well crafted post Darius. Now to the important stuff, I have another message from Yogi –

    ‘Excellent post Darius-San, Myles Palmer has taught you well. I see you have constructed a new keyboard, your training is almost complete. Now, go and fetch the sand-paper, my decking is too rough, so get to it. Banzai.’

  20. Darius, couldn’t agree more. I had the unfortunate experience of listening to the Arsenal game on Saturday with Stan Collymore commentating. His absolute HATRED for Arsenal was evident. From stating that Arsenals penalty miss was justified because it was “never a penalty in the first place” right down to his uncontrolled delight when Sunderland got their late equaliser.

  21. In a perverse way the press need Arsenal to be ant-ienglish as much as AW sees Pulis, Fat Sam etc as anti-football, as newspaper sales go down then this situation will become worse, it is sometimes bordering on hysteria as it is at the moment.
    The premiership know full well that it is the entertainment that Arsenal in particular provide that keeps the world wide audience and the English media along with Fatty Harbuckle are a mere sideshow for amusement between games, seems to work in my book!

  22. Very good and incisive piece of journalism Darius. There is a book by Robert M. Persig called Lila which highlights the point that dynamic organic change is always in conflict with the static establishment, in whatever field.

    The shrill voices of the establishment have now become a constant scream in its anti-Arsenal bias, a sure sign that they are slowly losing their grip on power.

    Arsene is a pioneer and the road he has chosen to lead Arsenal down is a lonely difficult one. But it takes a real ‘special one’ to transform the footballing landscape in a country in which aggression is more valued than technique.

  23. Great article. And another example on how they hate us is the fact that for years the pundits in MOTD always laughed at Wenger when he called for protection of this goalkeeper when facing the likes of some Allardyce team or Stoke.
    But now Mark Hughes complains about it and they say Hughes is right.

  24. Great post Darius. Agree with you 100%.

    @JD Gooner – I had the misfortune to be listening to that commentary as well. Collymore should have been sacked.

  25. Arsene Wenger is completely right on the merits of this issue. 100% correct. His every observation and charge is valid.

    But he was wrong to take on this issue. I was saying on twitter last week before it all happened that you’d have everyone who’s not Arsenal take the contrary stance because perversely they’ll feel they have to.

    It is correct that Arsene is trying to influence the media and powers that be in a way that might be beneficial to all football, but very much also beneficial to Arsenal.

    You can bet your bottom dollar that someone will oppose that.

  26. Muppet.

    When Marlon King got out of jail, Talk Shite spent 3 days unleashing fire and venom on him and castigating anyone who would consider offering King a job – even though they pretended to agree with the virtues of giving people a second chance.

    They claimed that violence against women was unacceptable and King should never be allowed to work in football.

    Someone called and asked them why they were hypocrites castigating King while at the same time working with Stan Collymore, a self confessed wife beater who sleeps with an axe under his bed – and guess what they did, they cut him off and applied selective amnesia – making it look like that caller didn’t even exist.

    You know, there actions towards King and at the same time their tolerance of a wife beating Collymore was like having recovering wife beaters run a women’s refuge….

  27. Excellent piece Darius, thanks. Can’t really say any more..

    I went on a rant about pundits a few days ago but i made one glaring omission – Stan Fucking Collymore. How could i forget such a cunt? I’m going to stop now cos it’s not helping with my Monday morning blues…

  28. Wenger is way ahead of his time, you look in history, in any field be it science art whatever there were people who were different from the rest who had better ideas but the people around them were not celever enough to see the genius only 100 years late they say “Oh that bloke was clever after all”
    I do believe Wenger will leave his mark on english football for years to come even more than Fergie because fergie all he did is win trophies nothing else while Wenger has revolutionised Arsenal and introduced a new way of doing things without putting clubs in debts. the young coaches of the future will be looking at his model wether the establishment or the old farts like fat Sam like it or not.

  29. Ole, I wouldnt of had you down as a ‘Twitter’ type of guy

  30. I have to admit Collymore does hate Arsenal with a passion. I was wondering where it could stem from becuse theres no obvious reason. Was it like that in his playing career? Did he get alot of shit at highbury?

  31. James – One of my old friends’ dads scouted Collymore at a young age and brought him into professional football. He said that he was one of the biggest wankers he’s ever had the displeasure to interact with – and it seems that 15-20 years later his ‘maturity’ hasn’t changed a damn thing. Not sure about the anti-arsenal thing though… Just a xenophobic twat like the rest of em probably.

  32. Spot on with the change management depiction, Darius. You could possibly extend the management theory by describing the new stadium and ‘high-brow’ branding as classical market positioning in-line with the orthodoxies of Porter’s Five Forces. The training regime, dietary regimen, tactics and youth policy Wenger introduced into English football, are a clear manifest of the Resource Based View of strategy, and the tactics of the change management programme are a textbook implementation of the strategies. Shame we’ve had to work it out the hard way by watching it all unfold when all we had to do was make Sam Allardyce the manager.

  33. Collymore is just a xenophobic bully who is incapable of hiding his disdain and contempt for anything to do with Wenger and Arsenal. At least some have the forethought to hide their spite and contempt – he’s incapable.

    I’m surprised producers at Talk shite have never confronted his performance on air and his propensity to bully callers if he doesn’t agree with an alternative opinion – talking down at them, talking over them, shouting at them, all of these combined, and they call him a radio talk host.

    Other journalists who don’t support Arsenal at least have the credibility of journalistic integrity even if you don’t actually agree with them.

    I wonder why they call the station Talk anything in the first place – considering they spend at least 45 minutes in every hour on advertising and promotion, even reading out their phone and text numbers….

  34. Van der Faart is really beginning to piss me off now. What does he know about our life-long north london rivalry? What right does he have to start banging on about it every day? He’s got some ego on him it seems – probabaly why wenger hasn’t signed him despite years and years of speculation – oh and probably also because he’s a massively overrated cock-nocker.

  35. I refuse to listen to Talkshite. It used to make me so angry – and you wouldn’t like me when i’m angry..

  36. Geo,

    You’re referring to the Sky story on VdV. Well, to be fair to VdV he’s not actually quoted as saying Spurs are the bigger club. It was just a sky headline writer being mischievous

  37. well another talkshite twat who hates arsenal more than collymore and thats alan brazil.

  38. Yeah it was Ole – but it was also the actual quotes i read from him last week banging on about being the bigger club and knocking us out of the top 4. Never liked him anyway to be honest and now he’s joined ‘them’ and has started talking shit, my disliking for him has amplified hugely.

  39. Karim… I agree with you.

    Brazil even changes the topic when guests start talking favourably about Arsenal.

    I can’t remember who it was on ACLF – but someone posted this video of Brazil being arrested for drink driving. He’s probably high most of the time he’s on air anyway.

  40. I’m pretty confident Arsenal will finally get the rewards from the big chages it has initiated. ie setting up a modern youth set up, helping construct a philosophy of play which enables us to be self sufficient. Hopefully the trophies will come our way sonner rather than later and then some of the media pundits will have to eat their share of humble pie and accept that Wenger might be right.

    I guess we will see the real recognition in a few years when Walcott, Wilshere, JET, Gibbs et al runs the national team and achieve things showing that the so called “Golden Generation” should have been called the Rotten Generation and that the future is bright the future is Arsenal!

    Then the anti arsenal hiding behind patriotism will have to take their mask off and show their true colour. Xenophobic, backwards people who still live in the dark ages of football, still thinking that England are the best just because the game was invented there.

    Come on you Gunners!

  41. Darius @10.08

    Yes. Another example of a two faced station with no memory or morality.

  42. By the way, this was posted somewhere on Twitter.

    What a great post !


  43. I agree with gunnerluc. good stuff.

  44. Geo, thats all part of the fun of local rivalry though isnt it. I tell you what though he’s better then I thought he’d be. He does seem to have a big mouth though, dutch players seem arrogant by nature.

  45. RE: Youth set-ups.

    You guys should give some credit to Ajax, they’ve been doing it for decades.

  46. I am pretty down I have to say after the Sunderland game. Not the for the performance, but because I thought we had the points in the bag. After winning at Blackburn, we proved we had the resolve, but luck obviously went against us once again.

    It was pretty ironic in fact, we were outplayed in the 1st half you could say without being really under threat to conceding a goal and managed to go in at the break at 1 goal up. Second half the referee’s biasness led to an Alex Song sending off, plenty of very biassed decions where similar fouls were not given, but Sunderland got more petty freekicks.

    Combination of missed chances, the penalty, the referee, and the additional time, prevented us from the 3 points which I feel we deserved after the great performance we put in.

    Looking beyond the sequence of events, its a game we lost last year, and like at Blackburn an improved performance, and 4 points better off. Chelsea have had an easy run, scoring plenty goals, but they have Man City next. So lets see how they perform facing a half decent opposition…

  47. I know it is James – but when a player has just turned up and is giving it all that it really annoys me. We’ve lived this rivalry for our whole lives and it is very arrogant to think you can come in and make all the difference – which is how i’m taking his comments. RvP would never say a thing like that would he 😉

    Ajax have been doing it for years, you’re right. But they’ve not been challenging for the last 5-10 years while all these supposed super clubs buy their way to success. We’ve managed to keep up with all of them despite our relative pittance. They were the pioneers though, and big up to them for that.

  48. Chris – i was absolutely gutted watching the match. But i dont think we deserved anything more than a draw. Sunderland did dominate really, and it was a very disappointing performance from us – particlularly after the braga drubbing. Confidence should have allowed us to play witht he swagger that we’ve seen in recent matches. Hopefully the lads will learn from the lapse in concentration at the end. That lapse is something that seems to be happening less these days at least.

  49. Chris, Song’s first booking was actually for his Haircut, and to be honest he’s lucky it wasn’t a straight red.

  50. and yeah, looking forward to seeing shitty knocking the chavs’ confidence… for once i’ll be supporting those twats.

  51. James

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it was, the readiness of referee to hand our players yellow cards is amazing when you consider some of the professional fouls that Sunderland produced.

  52. http://www.skysports.com/story/0,19528,11670_6386615,00.html

    Fat Sam still has the hump, he has gone as far as saying he is better than Wenger!!

    That has cheered me right up 🙂

  53. We don’t need the media to formulate an opinion for us. As I’ve grown older, I’ve also come to realise we don’t need them to validate our opinions neither.

    The media would be much more useful if they had opposing views or were presenting different arguments, but:
    1) there’s such a common consensus between they may as well be coming from one voice
    2) as an individual it provides no scope for interaction, no opportunity for discussion

    They bore me, so I shall dwell on them no longer.

    I’ve read that Chamakh is gonna play against Totts. I would have thought this a good opportunity to rest him myself.

  54. Good post, its true i think but the only way is to prove to the unbelievers that playing football, with commitment will win out. I am only concirned with the injuries at this time. we are playing good football and as CG mentioned earlier we are better off from the same games last year.
    I expect a win tomorrow, spuds are really poor, we have a great squad, doesnt matter about the players out injured cause they wouldnt have bothered against such week opposition anyway.

  55. gadget, i agree i thought vella would have got the nod

  56. I think its better if we get over the red card that was showned to song. cos to be honest iithink that we have improved our defence. And working well like that as a great defencive Team can make us champions once again. and as for the tottenham game we should go there with confidence. cos tottenham nowdays have Improved as a Team.

  57. sorry But I have to repost This Again

    I think its better if we get over the red card that was showned to song. cos to be honest I think that we have improved our defence. And working well like that as a great defencive Team can make us champions once again. and as for the tottenham game we should go there with confidence. cos tottenham nowdays have Improved as a Team.

  58. just saw this article on the arsenal-sunderland match in the guardian. so much for credibility…

  59. gooner2

    Not quite sure why you feel the need to repost your comments but it is a fast-track to moderation. I can repost that if you want.


  60. YW

    Actually I was’nt on moderation. cos i felt like i did a mistake. And I had repost it so that it can make sence to others. And may I say you as well?

  61. Darius- a great article and one that gives me a surprising amount of hope considering the nature of its content.

    It convinces me further that as Arsenal supporters we are part of something that will directly lead to a comprehensive change in English football. In many ways we still exist in the dark ages, but it seems clear that when our eventual dominance comes to fruition with trophies, when the superb young group of English Arsenal players flourish in the national set up and improve it, we can and will not be denied credit by anyone. The FA will have to take notice. When they do the whole rotten landscape of anti-football will lose it’s dominance and will be forced to be renewed.

    As muppet said yesterday as long as sane minded people do their bit to challange to xenophobic, restrictive and downright dangerous dominant views expressed by the media, then change will happen eventualy.The rot they cling on to will be prised away from them. After all isn’t it just common sense? Why resist it?

  62. Gutted with the result due to the lateness of their goal but if im honest we just about deserved the point. First have was all Sunderland but we got lucky. Second half we controlled it more, with Squil and Kos doing really well at the back and Chamakh working his socks off up front. Midfield is where we lost this game as we didnt do enough over the 90 – mostly due to Song being careless – he got first booking for backchat after a non existent foul, but he was giving away too much beforehand. He needs to be cleverer that he was and not get booked like he did the second time – Wilshere is younger but he was savvy enough after his bookin.

  63. The English FA will eventually cop on to the fact that the Arsenal way is the best way forward – both on football philosophy and business management – then wel see a slight decline in the power of english teams for a while with most likely a renaissance akin to whats happening in germany an the moment

  64. It seemed to me that Song is is allowed to support the attack more often than Wilshere in this current system we play. I wonder why that is, as one would imagine Wishere would be better playing the more advanced role? He can shoot from distance (which is something I can’t remember Song ever doing) and he can make the clever throughball pass as well Song imo.

    Any thoughts guys?

  65. Darius, that is the most intelligent and well-written analysis of the anti-Arsenal “phenomenon” in England I’ve yet read. Extremely well done.

  66. Song has been playing further forward and i think it got to his head. he was giving away niggly fouls further forward when trying to run back to cover – he really needs to concentrate on shielding the defence more like he did to great effect last season. Leave the clever stuff to Jackie

  67. I have noticed Song being ore advanced on the pitch than Wilshere as well. I can’t really understand why to be honest.

  68. I agree deisegooner

    The defensive role is not glamourous but it is essential and Song proved last year that he was outstanding and made himself a definite starter last year because of his ability to shield the defence and cut the supply line between the opponent’s midfield and attack. This year though, i feel that he wants to get a bit more of the joy of attacking and has forgot his first task, defending which makes him more prone to mistake.

    In a match like saturday where we had been under relative pressure he should have been hanging back a bit more to give us more stability. A mistake i hope he will not make again, and accept that his defensive duty are as important as Cesc’s role.

  69. I didnt catch the name of the person who was commentating the game on supersport as i started watching the game 5mins into it but all i could hear at my little attempt to listen to commentary was how Arsenal cant continue to relying on the excuse of being young as we havent won any trophies in th last 5 year despite our so called stylish play. He got me way pissed off i had to tune out just for my sanity’s sake!!

  70. DG

    Well said Song’s first job is as a DM
    It was said on the commentry on saturday that Song was the first player to get 10 yellow cards last season and i bet most of them were for lots of stupid tacklkes other than reckless tackles

  71. Henristic,

    Song has been deployed in a more advanced role due to his new hairstyle. The idea is for his head to blind the opposing team’s defenders, creating time and space for Chamackh and Arshavin. You’ll notice that Anton Ferdinand came out for the second half sporting a dapper pair of Ray-Ban’s, which I belive to be fake.

  72. With regards to Song playing a more forward role – my take is that our midfield 3 is very fluid and each person does every aspect of attacking and defending.

    If Li’l Jack Willy goes forward, Song stays back, and vice versa. This was more evident with the games against Bolton and Braga.

    Another way of thinking about it is that Arsenal don’t play with a traditional defensive midfielder. All 3 midfielders do both attacking and defending in rotation. In fact, if you look at the front 6 Arsenal players, the movement is so fluid defenders of opposing teams have no clue who to police mark. Chamakh for example has become legendary at dragging defenders with him to hug the touchline while Fabregas, Arshavin and Theo exploit the middle of the park where the spaces are left.

  73. For once, I believe James is correct.

  74. @ Henristic, Deisegooner, goonerandy, gunnerluc

    I think it is part of both players’ development. Wilshere playing the Cesc role would be just what he has been used to doing all the way up through the youth ranks. He is learning the defensive side of the midfielder’s job. However, Song has the holding role down cold and is being encouraged to develop the attacking side of his game. He showed at Charlton and during our CC run of a few years ago that he has a bit of the playmaker in him. Tactically, it will also mean that when Cesc and Wilshere/Diaby/Denilson/Ramsey are being closed down and man-marked by the opposition, Song can burst through the midfield. With Cesc + 1 capable of covering for him.
    Does that sound plausible?

  75. Darius – Song needs to get back to his self of last season and be less attacking. Get the defensive job down pat then expand his game. The anticipation of Kos get us out of jail a few times where it would have been better for the shape of the team for song to have been there doing it. We know Song can attack a bit – but of the 3 players in there he is the more defensively capable one – every team needs the water carrier – and its not as overlooked a role in fans eyes any more – so wel still love song 😉

  76. @ Deisegooner

    Song’s not the water-carrier though, is he? That’s Denilson’s speciality, I think.

  77. Fan – “Song has the holding role down cold” – id disagree there – hes very capable but can still improve. Hes got his goal when he said he would now he needs to get his defenders hat on and make sure hes up to speed when we play Chelski

  78. Darius – you are right of course about the fluidity. And of course it can be benefical, but I must admit I would be happier if the player most suited to “sitting” (Song) would be designated as doing just that. The danger with all 3 rotating is that there is a reasonable chance that in certain situations nobody does.

    Also it stands to reason that if the opposition do break, we stand more of a chance with somebody more defensive minded having to deal with it than not.

    Against better teams we will need to be more disciplined in our team setup.

  79. Denilson as backup to Song and in addition to Song to close games out.

  80. Fungunner, Correct, Denilson is also the waterboy to earn extra money to play the arcades.

  81. I think Wilshere is being groomed for the deep lying playmaker role. We already have a very good player for this role, Denilson. But with Wenger’s guidance Wilshere has the talent to become one of the best in the world at this.

  82. @ Deisegooner

    Anyone can always improve, but he is our best defensive midfielder and I suspect Wenger is trying to develop him into a more complete player while also widening our tactical options. If all of our midfielders were equally good at holding, setting up and scoring goals, linking play and switching from defence to attack, that would be the ideal situation. And they won’t learn the different aspects without a chance to play all the different roles.


    And while I am theorising, here’s one about Arshavin. It seems to me that he is working harder for the team but being less effective in terms of missing scoring chances and misplacing passes.

    Perhaps the two are connected – and when he gets used to his assumption of greater responsiblity, his attacking game will come back to its usual level as well.
    Any takers?

  83. goonerandy

    “Sitting” is just one of them cliches bandied about like the Makelele role, as if Claude Makelele was the first to play that formation.

    Alex Song is not just a bruiser or enforcer as expected by the typically assuming observers who have a certain narrative and template of how the game should be played.

    Song is an adept ball player who contributes greatly to our transitions when we switch from defence to attack. Arsenal’s play isn’t all about “breaking up the play” as is expected of the so called person playing the so called Makelele role (Claude must be smiling like a nonsense each time his name is mentioned).

    Tackling hard and stopping play doesn’t guarantee who controls the ball – and Arsenal does a lot of intelligent play to anticipate and intercept, with the primary reason that you will already be in control of the next attack with this approach. Denilson and Koscielny are masters at this intelligent play – but they can also tackle if they need to.

    My sense is that depending on who the opponent is – the players on the pitch will adjust accordingly to take advantage of their biggest strenths. For example, I would think that a midfield of Cesc, Song and Diaby is fit for some types of games, and in other games, Denilson would be preferred to Song or Diaby because of his ability to facilitate possession and move the play along in tight situations.

    There’s enough games all season to go round though…

  84. Can people not post ant more links of this C unt Aladyce articles? he is really starting to rub my goat the wrong way!!

  85. Fair enough Fan but you can also become too much of an allrounder to the detriment of your more natural game – Song shone in the defensive ‘sitting’ position – we have enough going forward without him going missing when hes needed to stop an a counter

  86. FunGunner.

    I buy!

    It’s very encouraging that the whole team are adjusting and we have 11 points from 5 games which included 2 of the more difficult fixtures.

    Arshavin has impressed me so far this season with his support play, tenacity and on and off field attitude. His misses while unfortunate, haven’t been costly thus far. The goals will soon start flowing, mark my words.

    We get Diaby and Vermaelen back for West Brom which is great stuff. Any news on Fabregas’s injury?

  87. DeiseGooner

    In fairness, we haven’t conceded a goal or looked like conceding from a counter attack – so the role play is working in this respect.

  88. And while i do get that Song has a bit more about him that just defensive cover i still believe he is the best suited we have to that role. Theres a time and place for his attacking tendencies to come to the fore

  89. James, any predictions for tomorows match?

  90. I agree Darius @ 1:46, but a more adept attacking threat from teams have yet to come – so i hope Song doesnt get lax in the things that made him a star last season

  91. I started watching Season 5 of 24 last night, Ten minutes in President Palmer got blown away. I’m in mourning, he’s like the best president America has ever had. Tony Almeida is in hospital but he’s stable.

  92. deano,

    I’ve got the normal horrible feeling that you’re going to spank us. I just hope its a good game, I dont want the players confidence to be knocked, you know what I mean?

  93. It’s a shame the Spuds got Van der Vaart I always liked him.

    But now he is doomed to be known as Van der Faart.

  94. He just has to remember he doesnt have to do it all. Theres plenty of attackers to shoulder that burden and hes got plenty of time to develop further that aspect of his game to be a more rounded player. But for now id be happy for him to push on in the things he did last season – he actually doesnt need to add goals to his game so he doesnt need to actively seek out so many possibilities to get goals is all im saying

  95. DeiseGooner

    Let’s see what happens with the so called better teams. At least we already know that with Liverpool he was more defensive minded. With Bolton, we were already 2 up before his forays up north. My sense is that the team has a method to this madness and maybe we should give them the benefit of the doubt.

  96. @ Deisegooner

    I firmly believe that adding more strings to your bow results in the long-term in an improvement to the skills you already have. Any deterioration is temporary. Not that we’ve seen that so far. He’ll just become a more complete player overall and a better defender as well. And part of that learning process will be knowing when to bomb forward. But I imagine at the moment he is looking to take every opportunity to do so, to get the practice.

    @ deano
    Woo-hoo! Cheers. A sale! 🙂

  97. I am not saying Song should never attack and always sit back. It is clear that the midfield trio all have the liberty and fluidity to both attack and defend but he has to pick to right moment to do this.

    In a match like the one of Blackpool or Braga where we were destroying the opponent i don’t see a problem for the 3 midfielders to join the attack I would even encourage it. The goal he scored against Bolton was awesome.

    But on saturday Sunderland had a real go at us and like Darius said in his article, Koscielny anticipation has helped preventing Sunderland having many goalscoring opportunity but I felt that he should have stayed back more and concentrate more on the defensive part of his game and join the attack when the sunderland team was pegged in in his own half.

    As I see it our midfield player are interchangeable but we are still set up with one defensive player holding, a link up player that passes the ball around and is a link between defence and attack and the the playmaker that supports the attack and passes the ball to the 3 attackers. Hence on saturday I would have expected Song to be holding, Wilshere to be the link and Cesc the advanced playmaker but Wilshere was most of the time the most defensive player with Song at the same level as Cesc.

  98. deano, Van der Vart is quality I have to say, im worried about his temprement though, he seems to have a big mouth which for a footballer always spells trouble. He’s been great to watch though

  99. I know what you mean James, I know what you mean.

    But there’s no shame in losing to the mighty Arsenal is there? It happens to the best of teams.

    Im not realy a fan of 24 it all seems a bit racist to me….like Call of Duty.

    you should watch the Wire, now that is multi-layered sophisticated drama at its finest.

  100. Spot on gunnerluc , thats exactly what im trying to get at, even if im not being so clear about it

  101. Darius – I agree to a point. For me, it all depends on the full backs. If Sanga and Clichy are pushed high up the pitch somebody “sitting” is paramount.

  102. Agree Deano on 24 you can see it is a show designed for the Fox Murdoch audience, with the bad muslim guy trying to cause havoc. I’ve stopped after the third season as I felt it was repeating itself.

    I’m looking forward to Dexter starting again, I like the dark humour and the anti hero thing and the final of last season was surprising.

    On the Arsenal what team you guys think will be fielded tomorrow? I would like to see Scznezy in goal but i guess it would be Fabianski that’s who i would like to see.

    Hoyte or Eboue–Nordveit-Djourou-Gibbs or Cruise
    ————–Eastmond or song
    ——Aneke—-Randall or Wilshere

  103. Goonerandy.

    Both Sagna and Clichy will never be pushing up at the same time – and if you look at Arsenal’s formation, there’s always 3 back – depending on who is attacking.

    You can argue that when attacking, we morph into a 3-1-6.

    The CBs only consciously go up for set pieces in which case song, Sagna and Clichy hang bak and if one of either Sagna or Clichy is bombing forward, there’s usually cover from Song and/or one of the CBs.

    But rarely if at all, do both our full-backs bomb forward at the same time.

  104. Good points all,
    I understand need for fluidity but Song’s clearly the most defensive minded midfielder we have as evidenced somewhat by the sheer number of fouls he commits compared to our other midfielders (or maybe he’s not very good at tackling?). Either way, bombing forward to often in a game were we were under so much pressure, probably increases the likelihood of him committing more fouls and putting himself at risk of being sent off as happened on Saturday

  105. We have a saying, “The time to make a stand ALWAYS comes too soon”. So Arsenal. If not now, then when? Well done Arsene. Be discreet and full of courtesy but never back down, we have done nothing wrong, it’s plain to see, and fans of football know this (as opposed to many club fans, who may know little about playing football).

    When people make stuff up, it invariably comes back to them. We shall see what we shall see.

    Arsenal insiders (plus, um, James) already know Arsenal has a fair to excellent chance to win a title this year, and they know why.

  106. I see gunnerluc has already made my points!

  107. Henristic on September 20, 2010
    at 12:44 pm

    Oh it’s tactical. What usually happens is that Fabregas gets man marked. Now teams try to man mark even the 2nd creative midfielder (whether Wilshere Diaby or whoever).

    Usually teams try to man mark using their 1 or 2 holding midfielders. But positionally, these same players should sit in front of the back 4 and act as a screen.

    By making Fabregas & Wilshere drop deeper, you sow confusion into their plans. The holding midfielder could follow Fabregas deeper into midfielder, leaving space for Song and Arshavin to run into between the lines.

    If he doesnt follow Fabregas but holds his position, Fabregas suddenly has space in midfield but still in the opposition half, allowing him to make penetrating passes.

    It’s a brilliant tactic.

    One of the tactical innovations of the season so far.

  108. Darius – In theory that is exactly what should happen. And so far this season that seems to be the case. I noticed a number of goals we gave away last year saw both full backs out of position, with the last midfielder too far forward. Maybe this is something they have been working on in training, as like you say we have not really been caught on a counter attack yet. This would go some way to explaining why.

  109. Deano,

    Yeah I’ve heard good things about the Wire.
    24 is good entertainment, most of the bad guys turn out to be treacherous americans anyway.

    If I had to make a prediction for tomorrow it’d be 3-2 to Spurs.

  110. Ole – throw in Chamakh or Van Persie in that role of additionally dragging defenders all over the park and tactically you’ve then got the freedom of the park for our attacking midfielders. And For good measure, add the pace of Vela and Walcott – arguably 2 of the fastest players in the EPL who have found their shooting boots and it’s the dogs chuffers.

    Truly a masterful tactic.


    My take is that last season, our biggest problem was getting used to the individual and collective responsibilities for a new 4-3-3 system. It’s a system heavily dependent on our ball carriers like Cesc, Nasri, Rosicky, Wilshere, Ramsey, Van Persie, Chamakh et al – to retain possession in attack.

    If and when we lose the ball (hopefully in the attacking 3rd), then the front 3 should ideally bum rush the opposition with the view of either winning the ball ala Cesc’s goal against Sunderland on Saturday, or delaying a counter attack to allow us to get back into shape.

    The problem last season was mainly that at the transition when we lost possession, we were invariably caught in two minds with indecision as to whether to attack and close down the ball or fall back into position.

    Against some teams, you’ll get away with it because they can’t take advantage or because of the sheer individual brilliance of one of our players. But against Manure and Chelski, they clearly have the players who can unleash a lethal dose of our own counter attack medicine.

    They’re happy to sit and let us play in front of them and wait for their opportunity to punish us on the counter. That’s why we lost so badly to them.

  111. Darius – Yup, that about sums it up. Throw in as well that quite often our play involves some “through the eye of a needle” type stuff we are always on the brink of losing possesion or scoring a wonder goal.

    I quite liken us to a formula one car; if everything is in place and working it is truely a spectacle to watch. However, if there are things not working at a premium the wheels come come off quite easily.

  112. ‘I quite liken us to a formula one car; if everything is in place and working it is truely a spectacle to watch. However, if there are things not working at a premium the wheels come come off quite easily.’

    Thats a funny analogy

  113. Danke.

  114. Darius- why Collymore hates anything to do with Arsenal? I even heard him dissing the Arsenal crest, once they were giving marks out 10 for best crest in the league. it did make me laugh . I thought why is he so bitter when it comes to Arsenal? Iam a bit baffled why he does actually hate Arsenal so much. If he had any association with the spuds or rejected him as a yougster I would understand but it is a strange one. Only him can nswer that question. But I have a suspesion he does not like foreigners at all playing in the Premiership it is one of his favorite topics, and Arsenal have froeign players. Maybe I don’t know. Anyway we should not dedicate our time to him as he is a nobody really. Yesterday he came on I turn over to 5live he is not getting my rating and all gooners should do that. I know its hard to ignore him but that is the best way to get rid off him. less ratings on his show then he will be replaced that how it works on Radio less ratings and you get the sack.

  115. 1LC – I have no qualms in stating that Collymore is a xenophobic disgrace to journalism.

    I really can’t get this argument that foreigners are ‘infecting’ the English game with some sort of disease. If it wasn’t for the so called bloody foreigners who pay for subscription TV all over the world, there would be no premier league – period. The English population alone is not capable of supporting the business model of the EPL. Furthermore, clubs in the EPL are desperate to sell their merchandise abroad and market themselves particularly to an Asian and African market.

    I sometimes don’t understand the vanity and arrogance that some people think you can prostitute the Premier league around the world as the best on this planet, and expect that foreigners will have nothing to do with it, let alone that you’ll be xenophobic.

    It’s as ridiculous as the Conservative government going on a trade mission to India to encourage investment that will bail this country out of the recession. On the one hand, Cameron is out begging for trade links with an emerging super power, on the other hand, his government is saying fuck it – no more bloody foreign migrants in our country. You can’t have it both ways – ’tis the cost of globalization.

    By definition, migration is an inherent part of globalization and football is not immune to this.

  116. To be fair, the performance at OT was quite good.

    After those specific errors ‘on the counter’, the second game against Liverpool seemed to be a template to be used in certain games. At the least, the performance stood out inside my tiny football brain. That’s how I’ve seen the teams progression and growing confidence (ignoring the blip that occured after the second broken leg of the campaign..wait sorry, I didn’t mean to dredge up old wounds…I keep forgetting, AFC players are just brittle!).

    Messi looked to be taken out yesterday, a red that might not be a yellow in the PL, unless it was Song comitting the foul. The injury curse strikes again. I guess he’s just brittle too.

  117. Woah, my logo thingy has vanished!

  118. Darius,

    Calling Collymore a journalist is like calling Hitler an anaesthetist.

    I think even he would consider that an insult.

  119. I thought Chelsea looked assured yesterday and have good, fast midfield to attack system. Berbatov had a Berbatov afternoon, goal of the season (including our Vela beauty), lovely, and unlikely to do that too much. So their confidence has risen, but Chelsea has not yet been tested and Pool is really struggling for any sort of shape to their play, especially away from home.

    I like that. good strong cometition. I wouldn’t want things to appear easy for Arsenal. It’s supposed to be a country mile after all.

  120. Ole hmmm…

    I did guess that it was tactical, but I’m not convinced that its working as brilliantly as you seem to think.

    Does it really make us more efficient as an attacking force? Will whoever is supposed to fill in for Song when he bombs forward be able to do a good enough job, seeing that Song has spent the last few seasons perfecting the DM role?

    Doesn’t it also mean that Song will have to do a lot more tracking back during a game, causing him to commit more fouls and/or tire easily?

    I don’t mind a DM going forward once in a while, -we’ve always played that way- but in a game where we’re clearly on the back foot, shouldn’t he stay back more?

    What the heck, Sunderland was probably a one off, and the boys were certainly feeling the effect of having played only a few days before. I suppose there’s many more games to see just how effective the system is.

  121. LOL Ole Gunner – my bad.

    Pundit??? I don’t even know what to call him now.

    Apologies to all ACLFers who are journalists for bringing your profession into disrepute.

  122. Henristic,

    It worked beautifully against Bolton & Braga. It led to him getting a free header, and creating 2 great chances for Arshavin at Sunderland.

    I don’t see that there’s been any downside to it at all.

  123. I agree with Ole.
    Defenders who attack (including so-called DMs) create mayhem in opposing defences, and Song is a good example. It’s typical Wenger.
    So long as rest of the team understand exactly what he’s up to, and be watchful of the counter.

  124. Ole,
    Not sure if it had any impact on our playing so well against teams like Braga etc. Don’t we usually thrash those teams anyway?

    Can you really argue we wouldn’t have created just as many chances if it was Wilshire playing the more advanced role and Song stayed back more consistently?

  125. I think against better teams, the lack of continuity in front of the back 4 could be exploited. Clever players who are good at finding space will quickly pick up that we don’t always have a player in front of the back 4 and would make the most of it.

    Much like what Cesc did against Braga. It is not somthing that will easily be turned on and off. Habits will form, and untimately they may cost us. I am with those that think Song should (mainly) sit deeper.

  126. Darius, Apology accepted.

  127. I believe you are pointing Valencia’s and Zamora’s injuries?

    None of these injuries where from reckless challenges.

    You just want to change football because it suits your game. What if Bolton or Blackburn started asking officials to be more lenient. Bring back the good old days? They are not, despite it being an advantage to them so shouldn’t Wenger. Football is more than fine how it is. If you don’t like it get your American owner to franchise Arsenal in the states as a basketball team.

  128. Absolutley huge game tomorrow for Fabianski. Not that he has to play out of this world, but any major howlers will surely see him start to slip down the pecking order at the club.

  129. Alan.

    Really, is that what you think?

    Bankruptcy off the field and kick and rush hoofball is not in the interest of the game.

    And for the record – Carl Henry scissor tackled Zamora while holding his shirt and pulling him into the tackle so that he can’t get away. What part of reckless endangerment with intent isn’t clear in that respect. The problem is that the establishment accepts it as normal and it isn’t.

  130. Muppet, thanks for the link at 10.54. The guy must be a good financier looking at his critique of Stoke (and some interesting tables that show Arsenal’s responsile financial situation, especially on wages as part of turnover and low reliance on TV income).
    Good blog:

  131. Alan,

    You’re right, Zamora’s injury wasn’t from a reckless challenge; it was a dangerous one. Scissor tackle, shirt in fist, Zamora never stood a chance.

  132. The violent tackles nees to be taken out of the game. Last season Bowyer kicked Modric so hard he broke his fibular, and even though Modric didnt complain you could tell Bowyer meant to kick him. That type of shit is wrong. On the other hand, I love a great last minute challenge almost as much as a goal. At the end of the day its up to refs to get it right, and if they dont, the powers that be should punish people retrospectively.

  133. James – That pretty much sums it up. Nobody minds a hard tackle. But too many plaers are getting injured because players trying to make a hard tackle either cannot control their body, or are simply not good enough.

    This results in people going “over the ball”. A perfect example of this was Robinson’s effort on Diaby the other week. Diaby was so so lucky his foot was not planted otherwise it could have been another Eduardo type injury.

  134. oh god i hope people like sunu and aneke play tomorrow night, we better take this seriously..but we’ll beat them anyway, I want to beat them by even more..

  135. Zap – you could argue that if Sunu and Aneke play we are not taking it that seriously.

    I expect to see Fabianski/Djourou/Sqillachi/Denilson/Gibbs from the first teams squad. The rest will be kids I reckon.

  136. @Alan – A clumsy statement of a one not technically gifted

  137. Darius,

    What stood out in your post today, was the lack of any need to even mention the Eduardo Embargo.

    I don’t deny, that my vision is coloured by these rubby goggles, but that whole affair stank.
    There’s no need to dwell upon such odious affairs, but for me at least, it does provide a context for this weeks meedjah coverage.

  138. where are you gunnerluc? most of that team is on loan!

  139. goonerandy yes I know, I was meant to write *do not play tomorrow night..

    I just think rushing good prospects into big games is really hard on them..

  140. Le Boss has been given a one match touchline ban and a fine.

  141. Isn’t Sunu out on loan somewhere?

    I hope we get to see JET running riot in the attack. Anyone has an update about Eastmond’s fitness? anyone regular at Young Gunners?

  142. my prediction=2-2 and penalties, i can see them scoring first though..

  143. If he doesnt appeal it, he’ll be sitting in the stands for the West Brom game.

  144. http://younggunsblog.co.uk/2010/09/afobe-in-contention-ahead-of-spurs-tie/

    too many injury concerns for our expected CC starters – Nordveit, Eastmond, Lansbury, Henderson.
    We might see some 1st teamers!

  145. Finsbury – while the anti-Arsenalism is frustrating and hard to swallow in equal measure, it is unfortunately the cost the Arsenal community has to pay to blaze the trail.

    Any half decent lawyer would be able to build a circumstantial case against the establishment for any number of crimes of conspiracy and actual malpractice (for lack of a better word). That’s how obvious it is.

    One of the most powerful lessons I learnt in working with change is that the establishment fights back and they can be breath-takingly brutal and lethal in equal measure

    . In a way, the level and intensity of the anti-Arsenal sentiments and the relentless attacks on Wenger and the team in general is a good thing from a cycle point of view. Think of it as a symbol or illustration of the recognition of the need to change; the need to move from a comfort zone into an unfamiliar territory.

    The backlash we’re seeing now is a necessary part of that cycle and it’s an establishment exorcising the demons of change as best they can – more like the last kick of a dying horse.

    Away from the noise that we’re hearing, the reality is that teams up and down the EPL, in the league and even abroad are desperate to model themselves on Arsenal. That alone should tell you that we’re doing something right. Other indicators like our ranking in the financial markets or other publications like the Forbes magazine – our stability with the youth system that’s now chucking out Wengerball clones left right and centre, the healthiest balance sheet in the football industry – the most recognizable and revered brand of football, etc.

    All these are illustrative measurements of success that cannot be ignored. The last part of the jigsaw is the trophy cabinet. It’s inevitable.

    Unfortunately for the establishment, Arsenal’s success is a tangible indicator of how rotten the establishment has been and it’s the last crashigng blow to the way they see things.

    Until we fill in the last part of the jigsaw with the trophies – hold on to your hats and brace yourselves for a ride and a half.

  146. mj_gunner,

    wtf. Now let’s wait what the FA is doing against Rooney about his little shove yesterday.

    Just joking.

  147. I know it is a little off topic, but is there any update on Cesc’s injury?…

  148. we’ll have them tomorrow, Vicelologist

  149. When he went off on Saturday I didn’t know whether to be sad or just laugh at the fact that we have so many players injured again this season.

  150. Wenger on the game –

    “This game comes between two Champions League matches, so there will be a lot of demands on your energy and competitiveness,” he said.

    “However, we will stick with our policy – that means the first target is to qualify, we will have a team which will have a good chance to qualify, the second is to give games to those who need them and the third is to see if we can use some of our young players.”

  151. how are doing today G4E?

  152. Wenger should have kicked the fucker’s ass

  153. Doing good MJ…how about you?

  154. not too bad..quite excited for tomorrow!

  155. All I have to say to the FA, if this was United under pressure the referee would blow his whistle long before the overtime is even up…Remember Everton, not so long ago…or did you forget already?

    You fucking make up the results the way it suits you. So if you want to give the title to any one but Arsenal, go ahead…announce it now, and let us just compete for who plays better football, you mugs.

  156. I remember Michael Ballack (amongst others) almost physically assaulting the ref after he failed to give a penalty in their favour against barcelona.

  157. Brilliant. Go Arsenal!

  158. Darius,

    Although I am still quite green, I have seen the same things happen within my own areas of interest, and work away from AFC.
    It is as you describe, almost a natural pattern.

    A glance at the list of goal scorers for the Chav$ at the weekend illustrates this in a very nice way.


    Our current Arsenal team are in the next phase of evolution, the model that the current Chav team are based upon, and are desperate to move on from, was left behind at AFC with the end of the second (or third?) Wenger team/squad at AFC?
    According to some reports, the Chelsea manager when he came to the club, had a plan with the owner to build a new team more sensibly and to change the club’s structure. The players complaining about their bonus’ is probably just the beginning.

    However, I do remember the bleating from the Hacks that occurred towards the Invincibles:

    “No propa’ CF”: Just Henry, eh.

    “No propa’ CB partnership”: Kolo didn’t count.

    “No propa’ RB”: Lauren was not Lee Dixon, and previously, could play in midfield, so, therefore, didn’t count as a RB, even though his team had just gone the whole season…

    So, it seems, not much has changed for the petty plunditry since then. Trophies won’t change the way they think IMO.

  159. terrific thought provoking article. a must read for all gooners.. AW must be driven to despair by the anti arsenalism that abounds. would he be better off though, for awhile at least, keeping his counsel and as you say let the last piece of the jig saw fall into place as it most assuredly will..

  160. Clichy: The criticism of Clichy has been here for the best part of two years, however, I feel it’s all of a sudden gone mainstream and people are going overboard. According to people in the know, Clichy is well aware he’s been playing badly, so he’s not in a Fabianski world of denial. His mistakes seem to be getting more and more frequent. His positional sense is way off kilter and he’s making fundamental errors he shouldn’t be. Lets not throw the baby out with the bath water though. The guy tries his heart out for Arsenal and he’s never looked for a move when he easily could have. He needs to be rested, Gibbs needs to come in for a bit. His mistake cost us 2 points today… however, he’s not solely to blame. 4

  161. i thought gael did very well on saturday.

  162. great article, i agree with you 100% wenger has not only changed arsenal beyond recognition he has changed the whole of the premiership. We may not have won a trophy for 5 years but we have won the admiration and respect of football fans worldwide. Even friends who are tottenham and west ham fans admit they love watching arsenal play ! This is just the begining.

  163. Excellent as usual Dairus. I especially liked the part about change management, I’ve been trying to get my work to manage change for, ohhh, 15 years now!

  164. Well written DS. There is anti-Arsenalism but if we say it we are cry babies. “He who feels it knows it”.

    What Wenger has done for England will not be realized until he is dead most probably.

    Pride stops people from giving others their due.

    Others many have won a lot but how many have been the catalyst for transforming a league?

    I dont look for anyone to be in Arsenal’s corner, though it is quite Ironic that everyone wants the English Arsenal players to flourish for the sake of the national team. how stupid can they be?

  165. Consolsbob led an organisation through massive change… hmm… Consolsbob, are you Rowland Hill?

  166. From Cescs Twitter…

    “Good news on my injury. I have some fluid but nothing bad in the muscle. I hope i can be playing in 2 weeks”

  167. LA

    If he did that, little wonder he decided that cider and the quiet life was in order. Impressed with the calibre of the man that he has hit harder stuff!


  168. off topic; I am expecting either KOS or Squillaci to partner Djourou, if Vermaelen is fit to start against the Baggies.

  169. Did you really find an original copy of the script for “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly”, YW? That was one of my favourite films as a boy. I still refuse to wear ‘chapstick’ of any sort in order to upkeep sun-parched Clint Eastwood lips.

  170. Limpar, please put on chapstick! lol

  171. The bloody cheek of you youngsters, eh?

    Rowland Hill! Laugh?

    Actually I am surprised that a modern education would have led Limpar to such knowledge.

    Probably a question in Trivial Pursuit or ‘Who Wants to be a Millionnaire’.

  172. Cbob

    In Limpars case, I’d suggest it was more likely a pub quiz.


  173. Plus, it could have been worse. Cbob as Lord Beeching strikes fear into many a commenter.

  174. What do you reckon he drinks, Yogi?

    One of those alcopops that shows he has a ‘wicked’ sense of humour?

  175. Have to be honest, at times he is quite refined – match reports – and I’d put him down for a single malt. And then the dark side emerges occasionally which leads me to think that the dear boy might not quite have kicked the snakebite habit…

  176. Lord Beeching?

    Now you are really going off the rails!

  177. You’re preaching to the choir Darius, but well articulated nevertheless. Hence why I have not bought a newspaper for years, have never listened to talkspite radio, cancelled my sly sports subscription after ‘that’ wigan game a few seasons ago and never watch ESPN.

    P.S. why is everyone quoting Cesc from his official twitter when I’ve just had a look and cannot see this comment?

  178. oh fuck, so we wont have cesc for chelsea..

  179. Has that be confirmed Zap? I dont think so. Lets wait for something official.

  180. Well, I have been working on a good recipe for a Prairie Oyster over the past few months. Excellent hangover cure. After one too many… er… alcopops.

    A friend of mine bought me a bottle of sherry-casked Bowmore Single Malt a year or so ago, as a thank you for some work I did. I awoke one morning to the horrific discovery that I’d done almost the entire bottle with Coca Cola, shared with a pair of girls I’d never see again.

    Speaking of whiskey and being bitter, The Pearl & Anchor on Upper Street does a fantastic Whiskey sour.

  181. according to cesc’s twitter, paul n

  182. I admire your stance Passenal, I just couldn’t miss those live games.

    I share your abstinence of newspapers and Talksport though.

  183. ..plus the cricket of course.

  184. Passenal,

    Cesc did say he had no muscle injury. It’s on his @cesc4official twitter feed

  185. Yea Zap, but as far as being out for the Chelsea match?

  186. When I looked on Cesc’s twitter page it wasn’t there. I guess he took it down. Better to keep schtum about team selection with Chelsea coming up I suppose.

  187. One pleasing thing that I’m noticing is that Arsenal blogs are actually backing the team and the manager in the face of this onslaught. Long may it last!

  188. Consolsbob, if I cannot get to a game I follow it on ATVO. I really cannot pollute my ears with the ravings of deluded pundits on any of the sports shows.

    Ole, maybe it was there, but it’s not there now. The last comment was posted after the game yesterday.

  189. well thats in 2 weeks..and ive learned not to look at the half full approach when it comes to injuries with arsenal..

  190. I can still see it there Passenal.

    Good news on my injury. I have some fluid but nothing bad in the muscle. I hope I can be playing in 2 weeks.

  191. For followers only then? Not sure how twitter works.

  192. I don’t know what’s going on Ole, but this is the last comment I can see

    # Shame about the injury. i was feeling very good. tomorrow ill know more about it. have a good day. 6:44 AM Sep 19th via web

  193. Passenal, it only shows up if I sign in to twitter.

  194. Karim – sky used his twitter comments as well!

  195. Okay dupsffokcuf – that explains it!

  196. karim, lu..mais..lets hope so

  197. What I suspect, Passenal, is that he probably deleted the tweet, and it remains in the feeds of those who had seen it originally. Just like when you unsend an email?

  198. Could be Ole as I am not signed up to Twitter and only follow via the web so I did not see it earlier.

  199. May be they removed it, as it would have contradicted Wenger’s comments today –
    ”any speculation would be wrong today”

  200. I love Denilson, isn’t he great?

    I hope he plays tomorow. He’s overdue a 30 yarder.

  201. Has anybody checked if there is a way to pre-order the DVD of tomorrow’s game from the Sp*ds shop?

  202. One of the most coherent and intelligent analyses of the relationship between Arsenal, some of the less-enlightened managers in the EPL, and the press, that I have seen in a blog. Beats anything the “professional” commentators have written, and I recommend them to peruse it thoughtfully.

  203. Darius, excellent article… that being said I wish you & other gooners would keep your obvious political bias out of Arsenal comments and stories. If i want to hear nonsense spouted on the evils of Fox News then I would head down to my local college campus and listen to the pseudo-intellectuals spout their drivel.

  204. Comments was awesome but I say Wenger Wenger Wenger!!!

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