They Got The F.E.A.R.

For everything a reason

Fear may have brought Ian Brown some reward but according to Cesc, it is holding back Arsenal, stopping them taking the leap from also-rans to Champions. More accurately, the captain has observed that Arsenal do not channel their fear in big matches, using it as a positive inspiration, focussing instead on the negative, trepidation taking hold.

Fábregas said after the visit to Old Trafford,

Sometimes we seem scared of losing these big games – we don’t really go for it and we’re tempted to drop back and see what the opposition do. We look to see if we are capable of beating them by what they are doing and how good they are on the day, instead of us going forward, causing them problems and dominating the game ourselves.

Nobody would argue with his observations. They echo those of Patrice Evra whose comments beforehand had unleashed a wave of bile, an indication that a raw nerve had been struck.

Forget everything and remember

That a player has been honest enough and spoken about what many supporters believe is refreshing. It makes a change from the usual platitudes we hear, no matter how much the player(s) in question may believe them. It may have been cathartic for Fábregas to speak in such tones but talk is cheap; the squad must act on them which is easier said than done.

Firstly, they all have to agree that this is the case, recognising that irrespective of whether they believe that they are good enough to win matches against Chelsea, United and other big sides, they have failed to do so and become stuck in an unenviable rut along the way.

Acting upon it is an altogether different matter for it seems that they are unable to resolve the issue internally, the effects of repeated defeats in big matches becoming more deep-seated than they may care to admit. This is the domain of sports psychology and Arsenal’s favoured one needs to get to work quickly on this. It might be something as simple as winning two or three such fixtures – simple in that the solution is relatively straightforward yet practically a difficult task to achieve.

F*** everything and rumble

Arsenal are often accused of having no ‘Plan B’, no variation to tactics when the passing game does not work. The defeat last week highlighted how success can be achieved, in the terms of a 90 minute game, with a different approach. Apparently. Except United’s breakthrough did not come as a result of the repetitive long ball to Rooney, that singularly failed with Arsenal gobbling possession easily.

Success came as a result of scoring and defending compactly, assured in their roles in the team, pressurising from the front. In this respect, Arsenal need to acquire the habit of clean sheets, revisiting the first half of Wenger’s reign. A  common complaint – naive and dismissable – is that no work is conducted defensively on the training pitch.

Solidity at the back ought to breed confidence. Since The Emirates opened, visiting teams have with few exceptions come to pack the midfield and defence, denying opportunities through volume of numbers. It is not always successful but the seemingly high proportion of home draws gives evidence that scoring once at Arsenal allows you the chance of a point. Arsenal need to be more diligent in defence to build attacks with confidence. Individual concentration needs to be collectively harnessed; too many goals can be pinpointed to one moment of laxness (although that could be said of all goals) which undermines an otherwise decent display.

Final execution and resurrection

The squad are on the cusp of winning their trophy, three games and the Carling Cup is theirs. In itself, it is the least important of the silverware on offer yet it could be the most important. Whilst the team which participates in the competition is not the strongest, lifting the trophy relieves a burden to some extent as well as providing motivation for non-playing members of the squad. How could the ‘seniors’ let the ‘juniors’ be the only victors? Emulation is a powerful competitive instinct.

Of course, the dismissal of achievements will continue until the Premier or Champions League is won and that is motivation enough in itself.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on December 20, 2010, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 224 Comments.

  1. I’m the first?

  2. Keeping more clean sheets? Seriously YW, you’re sounding more like Bill these days….

    Which is not a bad thing imo, but there are many regulars who will disagree.

    Good post though.

  3. Hey muppet, what is you impersonating my handle the other day? At first I thought it was Jaguar from Le grove, but other posters seemed to think it was you?

  4. Or maybe Jaguar = Muppet? Wow!

  5. We don’t need them in every game but there is an imbalance between attack and defence at the moment. Of course, matters are rarely that simple yet a clean sheet in the next few games would do the team wonders.

  6. @ henristic?

    How are u? U dey Naija?

  7. I’m sorry, but I’ve got much more important things to do than worry about low life on Le-Moan. Nothing to do with me.

  8. Important things to do – like blogging on here.

  9. TS,
    No, na SA I dey. You nko?

  10. Was just kidding Muppet.

  11. Yogi,
    I agree they are great for confidence. I wish we took our chances better and were more clinical though. We wouldn’t have to worry about clean sheets then.

  12. Wenger doesn’t believe in defence. He believes his attack will take care of the poor defence. Unfortunately the gunners sometimes fail to score and the attack is rendered impotent.
    Wenger can do worse than asking for advice from Italian coaches.

  13. Which italian coaches gunnerwilliam – you mean like Mancini, the tinkerman and Ancelotti ?


    I dey Naija O. THe place to be

  15. After all our bravado our captain confirms our worst fears, what we felt or knew but wouldn’t admit to ourselves. I think it’s something that comes from a young squad. The invincibles averaged 28 years. They weren’t football young. They had world cup winners and domestic cup winners among them. And yet a young Ajax team blew away everyone in the mid nineties. Admittedly they had the veteran legs of Frank Rijkaard to guide them on the pitch. So who’s our Rijkaard?

  16. yeah Iu people should talian coaches indeed… Some people?

    Like Italian teams dont concede goals?

    you people should take it easy o and leave the team alone. Our defense is not that bad under AW as a few people on this blog.. I think Ole and some others have factually pointed out on the past… with stats and figures not just moody comments

  17. @ KG

    Ypu would expect the likes of Arshavin and Rosicky to step up

  18. Our defence is 5th in terms of goals conceded in the league table. Hardly a disaster.

  19. I said it last week I think there needs to be a change in terms of new blood. I know this is long touted opinion amongst the pundits and some moaners but that doesn’t make it wrong.

    All the talent is there. Can we wait for the necesary attitude tpo kick in amongst the squad. maybe, but the longer it goes on the worse it will get.

    For me, one or two players from outside who don’t have the Emirates fear gene. Competition never hurt anyone.

  20. TS,
    Lucky you. Send me my own jollof rice o!

  21. Muppet,
    Its hardly brilliant news either is it? Seeing as only 3 or 4 teams match our aspirations

  22. Some good objective vies starting to be aired. In the past such views have been jumped on as being a “doomer”. Hopefully that sort of reaction has disapeared.

    Consol – You might well be right; maybe a couple of new faces are needed to give the squad a lift. I am not sure where they would come in though. Wenger seems to have 100% belief in the current crop, so it would have to be a very special player to come in and play in the 1st 11 streight away.

    Personally I believe that the issue is one of team setup, as opposed to personnel. I have said for years now that we do not offer the back 4 enough protection and support. Arsene’s recent ocmments on wanting Song higher up the pitch are admiriable, but really do raise questions. Last year he mainly sat in front of the back 4, and seemed pretty good at it. For me that is exactly what he should be doing.

  23. Actually make that 2 or 3. The tots aren’t really expected to win anything are they? That leaves Manu, Chelsea and Man city. Coming 5th in terms of goals conceded isn’t very good news at all. It puts us 3rd in terms of goal difference despite being second highest goal scorers.

  24. As much as I hate manu, the last few seasons tells us they tend to grow stronger as the season proceeds. Their recent form, and the fact that Rooney, Ferdinand etc are back in the team suggests that trend might be maintained this season. Chelski are still only one point behind us despite their horrid form. And now they seem to have Terry and Lampard back…
    We might not be able to depend on these teams continually playing shit to win the title. We need to go on a long winning run of games, something we haven’t managed in a long time.

  25. @ Henristic
    Na una dey enjoy na… una check out!
    Jpllof abounds o…. will be sent via ACLF LOL

    @ Consols
    is there really an emirates fear? I think it whatever is ailing them will wear off sooner rather than later… The opposition seem to score with their only chance of the game… is that really caused by fear? I cant just seem to put my finger on it either

  26. Jpllof = Jollof

  27. Goonerandy,

    Song hasn’t really been bombing forward anymore in the last couple of games?
    Besides him going forward hasn’t really cost us goals, although I admit it might have unbalanced us a bit, e.g having the inexperienced Wilshere to defend in his place and so on.

  28. @ KG

    Rijkaard + Danny Blind.

    Arshavin yes. TV5 in his second season, when he’s back. Captain Fabregas(?). Rosicky after two years out?

  29. I understand, TS. I used the term more in terms of the current squad rather than how it plays at the Emirates in particular.

    It is hard to understand and I don’t. If Cesc has put his finger on it then I think a kick up the backside from someone new -and alien- to the existing squad seems like a viable solution. A ‘jump start’ perhaps or, as, I think, Matty said the other day, “a cat among our pidgeons”.

  30. TS
    Ok now, We got chop the online jollof when we recieve am.

    re emirates fear; I think Consol was meaning the fear that stops us playing our game in high pressure matches, as Cesc was quoted as saying. Our knack for conceding freak or cheap goals is a different concern (we do that in both ‘big’ and ‘small’ games) although they may be related.

  31. They can get the fear, but at the same time, they just want to be adored.

    “Except United’s breakthrough did not come as a result of the repetitive long ball to Rooney, that singularly failed with Arsenal gobbling possession easily.” Get in YW.

    So, looking at all the stats (the table), Arsenal’s newly re-built D-Fence is second best to ManIOU’s at the moment. Plenty of time to improve this season. Not bad.
    One player should be nearing the end of his rehabilitation (Djourou), another to return soon (Vermaelan).

    Repetitive illegal attacks on players (like Diaby) worry me a lot more then somebody (Diaby) not tracking a marker (like Messi!). It has been a bigger problem for this squad then the odd conceded goal, there’s plenty of evidence for that.
    I’ll get me coat, ta!

    Merry festivities, Xmas & winter solstice (tomorrow) to ACLF.

  32. It is a mystery to me how we often have 10-20+ shots on goal, only for the opposition to score with their first attempt. It happens too often to be bad luck as well.

  33. I’m enjoying Chelski’s knack of conceding cheap goals.
    I’ve always enjoyed the Sp*ds’ knack of conceding cheap goals.
    Long may it continue.

  34. We don’t have an outright defensive philosophy, that is true. People who are suspicious about the way Wenger sets out are suspicious for the wrong reasons. This is because we would rather try to win a game than not lose it. After all, 2 draws yields 2 points, but a win and a loss yields 3 points.

    However.. and there is a but.. we have to be able to win games if we need to in cup competitions. In this respect we have to improve. I think there has been some evidence of improvement this year in our defence. Some of the goals conceded in games such as Spu*s, West Brom and Newcastle don’t show any evidence of this, but we kept a clean sheet at Shitty, and we were tighter than we had been before at the Mancs, and the goal we conceded was a bit soft up there. Against Everton we dug in and got a result.

    The big question is.. can we improve our defence ? We have to hope so. Szczesny, Vermaelen and Djourou can I think be big factors in this. We are all looking for evidence that we can improve, and I think that’s why a lot of people are uncertain about the way things will go in the new year.

  35. But Consol,
    I really don’t get that argument of having a player come in to “jump start” the team. Can a single player really do that? Except for the likes of Messi/CRonaldo maybe? I really can’t think of one player that can have the sort of influence on the team you’re alluding to.

    The kick on the backside is definitely a more workable alternative. I remember Wenger using the hairdryer treatment after the first half of the Liverpool (?) game last season. I recall the players saying it shocked them, but it clearly worked, right?. I know some people are concerned using it regularly might wear out its shock value but that hasn’t happened to Fergies teams has it?

    Perhaps young players do need a regular kick up their backsides, at least up to a point where they get the message and the hairdryer treatment is no longer necessary. I can’t imagine Scholes and Giggs need to be yelled at this stage of their career, precisely because they’ve inculcated the culture of giving your best all the time, as a result of repeated kickings in the past.

  36. AA arriving a couple of years ago gave the side a much needed lift. Sometimes fresh blood is what is needed. I am not neccasarily saying that it would fix things for us, but in some cases it does the trick. As it is I think our squad is very strong though, and I can’t really think of a position (in the 1st 11) that we urgently need to upgrade.

    One option would be if the interest in Denlison is real; sell him and buy another central midfielder as competition for Song (as he does not really have any).

  37. Muppet,
    You reckon Szczesny is our best keeper now? I’m still not convinced about his ball distribution and to be honest was beginning to warm up to Fabianski. I also wonder what the plans are for Almunia as Wenger has said he won’t be sold.

    Our GK situation is actually a bit weird eh?

  38. Our goalkeeping situation is a little strange. Especially for a club of our stature. Personally I think Fabianski is No1 for now, but he has little room for error with Tech9 waiting in the wings. I don’t think we will see Almunia again.

    And I am happy with that to be honest. Before the season started I really thouhgt we needed a keeper, and that Fabianski (although showing glipses of talent) was a bit of a disaster. All credit to him, he has done really well since he came into the side and if he carries on like that I will be more than happy. Tech9 does seem to have the air of a quality keeper about him though (point taken regarding his distribution which was suspect, but that can be improved). I can see him as our No1 sooner rather than later.

  39. Henristic, I mean a different ‘sort of player’. I don’t mean somebody who would be immediately obvious, but, and I hate to say this, a different sort of leader on the pitch. Someone who isn’t young, someone who, oh, Idon’t know!

    We have leaders now. Captains of national sides amongst them but they are not doing the job. Change it.

  40. Hail the naija guys.All this talk of Jollof rice makes my mouth water.
    Wise words Kenyan,wise words.

  41. I think I know what Consol is getting at.

    In my view, we have supremely talented footballers. But we don’t have one which will grab a game by the scruff of the neck and push the team forward when things are not going our way. Not many players like that around I know, but still.

  42. YW, totally agree re; Carling Cup. Yes it’s derided by many fans including our own, but this team desperately needs to win a trophy and i’d take the CCup just to end our damned potless run. Mourinho knew the value of getting some silver on the sideboard and didn’t turn his nose up at it. And whatever we may think of ‘The Special One’, a mug he is not!

  43. great track that is by Ian Brown. f.e.a.r.

  44. @ Gunman

    Naija gal here o… not guy!

    And enjoy the dreams of jollof… u dey in Diaspora too… U know say we like dogo tutenchi for dis side o

  45. tutenchi = turenchi

  46. o consistency of performance!

    How i dream of this team putting in consistent performances like @ Everton, @ Villa @ man City and most of our away performances this season!

    There is just that little something! Against Man U for example, I dont even think they played that much better than us, but we would hit the bar and they would score… We will get there though… Things cant get worse than this!

  47. I can’t say I really get what Cesc is on about… drop back and see what the opposition do? This can only really be said of the last big head to head. In the 3 or 4 games vs. Utd or Chelsea prior to this one – it’s been our finishing that’s let us down… and there’s been very little sitting back to speak of. He says a lot of things, our Cesc, not all of them are all that clever – I don’t think.

    Anyway, I have full confidence in the squad as is to train hard in this time off and get themselves right as a team to do the business against Chelsea. The longer this ‘can’t win the big games’ thing hangs over them the more intense the desire must be to shut everyone up with a big win. Handbrake off time, please.

    Speaking of leaders, hopefully our two World Cup Finalists are fit enough to start. It would be nice to finally play ‘one of these big games’ with our two best players on the pitch for 90 minutes. When was the last time that happened? May 2009? Something like that.

    Maybe this quest for clean sheets could be contributing to our “F.E.A.R”? Clean sheets are a sort of fools gold when you think about it. (..Errrp!)

  48. Limpar – I think Cesc is saying what is on his mind; he just wants to be adored.

  49. TS
    Shuo! So you be babe? You too much!

    Anyhow sha, suya must follow dat jollof, u hear?

  50. Haha, goonerandy, thats something James would say.

  51. @ henristic. LOL… Happily babe
    No talk say u be waffy join d naija o! Thats totally cool

  52. Steady on there.

  53. Henristic

    “The kick on the backside is definitely a more workable alternative. I remember Wenger using the hairdryer treatment after the first half of the Liverpool (?) game last season”

    It was definitely Liverpool . That was a huge game last year and one that gave me some belief that we might be able to go on and win the league. We had to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps when we needed all 3 points.

    You bring up an interesting point about more frequent “hairdryer” half time speeches. I’ll tell you though, for as good as AW’s self control is in front of the media, his little water bottle episode during Tottenham (I think…) was evidence of a temper that can definitely be lost.

  54. He should just keep his mouth shut til he’s fit enough to yell “I AM THE RESURRECTION!” in John Terry’s mug face.


  55. Our goalkeeping situation is compelling… I agree with goonerandy… I think Almunia’s played his last game for us… but I think it’s a pretty straight fight now between the two Poles. If Fabianski doesn’t recover in good time for the Chelsea game and Szceszney ends up winning the game for us… which isn’t a huge leap… you’d have to back him to keep his place, wouldn’t you? I don’t think a couple of sliced kicks at Old Trafford constitute worrysome distribution. His throwing is excellent, incidentally. Very interesting times…

  56. LA
    Maybe this will make you understand.Last 11 games v Man Utd and Chelsea 1 draw 10 defeats

    Cesc is so right.How many games this season have we had 65% possesion yet failed to turn that into goals.But will Wenger listen to his captain?.Cesc plays in a Spanish team that also dominates games yet wins titles that is why he is so frustrated with Arsenal

  57. We’ll have to watch out for Sally “Cinnamon” Kalou of course….

  58. Finsbury, I didn’t remember Danny Blind. Your memory is deep. Hats off to you!

  59. I hear he has a new collection in his porchway at his house. Some rare African Elephant Stone. I hope he does not drop it on his foot, as he could re-injure himself.

    * enough now!*

  60. Well, exactly, Andy. You don’t often see a team compile 65% of the possession whilst dropping back and waiting to see what their opponent will do.

  61. Team spirit.Apologies for the gender mix-up.

  62. @ Andy

    The fear of losing a game should make them go out and win it! Not actually lose it. Am with Limper… our finishing have been the worst challenge rather than defence

  63. Limps

    I think he’s just hoping that Love Spreads, leading to Good Times rather than Tears. Who knows if this will lead to the Second Coming?


  64. Well, YW, here’s hoping This Is The One.

  65. TS,
    What are the odds. You be waffy too?
    I be Yoruba boy, but I lived 10 years in waffy during my teenage years, Effurun to be exact. The waffy way still dey bodi, nothin dey happen.

  66. YW & LA just spouting a waterfall of cliche’s

  67. LA, others

    Regarding the Cesc comments. I have a feeling that this is one of those quotes where journos are asking ridiculous questions: “is it men against boys against chelsea and united?” “it seems as if your destined to be an also-ran, 11 matches 1 draw 10 defeats” “Is it now a race for third place?” And that is how cesc responds.

    I would obviously have to see the press conference or read what was asked of him, but I dont believe it’s an Andrei Arshavin type situation where the dude is just prattling on to his website.

  68. Limpar

    Ok time to stop the Stone Roses song titles. I’m begging you.


  69. Please do, it is like a corpse in my mouth.

  70. Yogi’s Warrior FTW! (as they say). Partly because I haven’t heard that one in ages and it’s an absolute banger.

    That’s how it reads to me, NJ. A hollow, half-hearted platitude. Thing is – as a critique of the United game in isolation – it’s not far off. But as a general comment on ‘the big games’ – it just ain’t true.

  71. Limpar – I think it is mate. We do not have a good record in “big games” in the past few seasons. We have conceeded quite a lot of goals without much in the way of reply.

    Some of it you could put down to bad luck and injuries, but not all of it. We do seem to have an issue where this is concerned.

  72. Anyway, off home.


  73. YW:

    Great post. Could not agree more.

    If we really want a model for fixing our defense look no further then Barca or Spain. In the last 8 games before the most recent they had outscored the opposition 26 – 0. They kept 8 clean sheets in a row.Their attacking players are similar in size to us and their back 4 are taller and stronger although having much less pace, so the idea that they would get kicked around in the PL is rubbish. They have also performed well against PL teams in the past and Spain survived quite well against the thugs at the world cup. I really have no idea what they do differently then us other then according to Cesc Spain spends a lot more time studying their opponents and talking about how to stop them. That might be a good start for us. I would think we could study how they position themselves to avoid counterattacks and how they defend set pieces etc. The idea that we could not learn something from a team with similar attacking philosophy who play much better defense seems unreasonable.

    The other thing that Barca and Spain show us is that elegant attacking football and excellent defense are not mutually exclusive which is an idea often put forth on this blog. IMO great teams start with a strong defensive foundation and having that foundation is what allows a team to prosper under pressure, in big games and during squeaky bum time near the end of the season. Barca and Wengers great teams in the past had that foundation but it feels like we skipped that important first step with this group of players.

    Muppet @ 12:15:

    “Our defence is 5th in terms of goals conceded in the league table. Hardly a disaster.”

    5th place is a disaster. No PL team has won in the last 11 years with worse then 2nd place in the table. No team in any major European league has won in the last 10 years with worse then 4th and that 4 place only happened once if I remember the stats that I looked up last year. 90% of the winners are 1st or 2nd in the table with a rare 3rd place team winning.

  74. Bill,

    It is not a disaster though is it ? Keep a sense of perspective. We are currently 2nd. If we finish 2nd, we would have outperformed at least 4 teams who have outspent us.

    The trouble with the doomers is they expect us to win the PL and premiership, even when our expenditure is only on a par with the likes of Villa, Everton and Sunderland. How can that be so ?

  75. Oh pllllllleeeeeeeease Bill.

    Statistics about the past don’t predict the future. Will you ever learn?

  76. Sorry CL and Premiership.

    If we had a great defence and couldn’t score, there would be hoards of moaners about our lack of attacking prowess. Everybody wants their cake and to eat it.

  77. YW:

    “A common complaint – naive and dismissable – is that no work is conducted defensively on the training pitch.”

    I have said this in the past and probably overstated my case to make a point. Sometime you try to hard to make the evidence fit the hypothesis rather then the other way around. However, given the fact that we do have these obvious defensive issues that however much time we are spending in training is probably not enough. It would seem logical that we could improve if we spent more time working on this phase of our game. I know that talking about a defensive coach irritates some on this blog but perhaps it might help. It certainly can not hurt anything so why not try? Same with Cbob’s idea of adding a couple of new players to “shake up” the squad. It might not make a difference but we certainly do not have the financial issues of the past so why not?

  78. Well Muppet they want us to spend as much as Chelsea, City and Man yew. Go into debt if necessary

  79. Bill:

    This is from Zonal Marking’s analysis of Barca’s last match and a good example of why it’s complete folly to compare Barca’s defensive success in their league to Arsenal’s struggles in ours.

    “We know from the way Barcelona thrashed Real that they love using the pace of their strikers in behind the defence, and we also know from the defeat to Hercules that they struggle when sides sit back behind the ball and park the bus.

    The reason was because Espanyol have had success against their more illustrious neighbours in recent years by getting into Barcelona, closing down Xavi and Andres Iniesta, and not letting Guardiola’s men play. Their last three results against Barca had been a win, a draw and a defeat – and the defeat was a narrow 1-0 thanks to a Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty”

  80. Thanks, goonerandy, I am aware of the record. It was his tactical observation that I was referring to.

  81. LimparAssist | December 20, 2010 at 2:06 pm |

    I think he was referring to the Man Utd game. We really did try to contain them & we largely succeeded. Unfortunately we didn’t do much going forward. Keep in mind he said something about being criticised for doing something, changing and then finding out what you did initially was correct.

    Great time to slip in an anti-media rant. That Cesc quote is another example of how useless the media are. I thought he was giving genuine insight. If I were talking to him, I’d have asked the kinds of questions you raised in your comment.

    They just think of the headlines they could write with the quotes they got.

  82. LA

    I would say Cesc’s comments are most innacurate regarding the Chelsea match. Combine the luckiest goal Drogba has ever scored with the best goal Alex will EVER score and some shambolic finishing and you have yourself a misleading 2-0 scoreline.

  83. Ole Gunner,

    Yeah. Although to be fair, some call for more caution or player adjustments.

    I just hope that we’ve got the potential to improve. We’ve not really had Gibbs available. Vermaelen has been out, Squillachi is experienced, but Koscienly still has to get used to the premiership I think. Djourou is in and out.

  84. ” expect us to win the CL and premiership, even when our expenditure is only on a par with the likes of Villa, Everton and Sunderland. How can that be so ?”

    I think the fact that our expenditure is on a par with those 3 is part of the issue some fans have right now. We dont need to hemerage money like chelski have done and man city are doing – but a little more spent in the transfer market could well make the difference.

    Cesc said they are ‘scared to lose’ the big games and therefore dont play their natural game and bottle it. This i feel is down to youth and lack of winning experience. Now while this can change within the squad (i really do see the beer cup as a vital development in changing this squads mindset) a fresh face who has done it before and is willing to stand up and be counted can also help.

    So while i reckon Squil, Kos and Chamakh have done well – these are not quite the ‘leader’ we need right now to band this lot together.

    Cesc and Vermaelen being missing hasnt helped either – i really saw Vermaelen coming to the fore this season as a leader.

  85. Muppet and Ole,
    Surely you guys aren’t bringing up that tired old argument anymore? Thats so le-grove…..

  86. Ole:

    “Statistics about the past don’t predict the future. Will you ever learn?”

    Past stats do not predict the future but they clearly predict what is most likely to happen. We might win the league with the 5th best defense, especially this year, but our defending puts a typhoon force head wind against us.

  87. DesieGooner,

    We do have a high wage bill. So we do spend money there don’t forget.

    What we don’t do is go and and spend £40 million in each summer window. We are just trying to get our finances in order so we can do this in a sustainable fashion. Up to that point, there will be a lot of people complaining, as they have spent a lot on season tickets/club level season tickets, and they see they are not getting the return.

    What can you say to this point of view. I haven’t shelled out £5000 for a club level ticket, so I can’t comment. All I can say is that if the club has to go into debt to secure parity with some of these clubs that can spend with impunity, then it stinks. It stinks anyway.

  88. No Bill, they don’t.

    All the best models in the world can not predict catastrophes or shifts in trends. None of your stats would have told you Arsenal could be top at Xmas having lost 5 games.

  89. Ole Gunner | December 20, 2010 at 3:24 pm |

    I think he was referring to the Man Utd game. We really did try to contain them & we largely succeeded. Unfortunately we didn’t do much going forward. Keep in mind he said something about being criticised for doing something, changing and then finding out what you did initially was correct.

    I picked that up as well. Shame he wasn’t asked to elucidate. I wonder what it means? Did Arsene try to change our tactics to a more defensive one in the manu game? Or was it the players that intuitively did so as a response to past criticism?

  90. I think the fact that our expenditure is on a par with those 3 is part of the issue some fans have right now. We dont need to hemerage money like chelski have done and man city are doing – but a little more spent in the transfer market could well make the difference.

    I call bollocks on this. How much more? We have a large squad, with 2 internationals per position, a reserve squad full of exciting prospects that you worry how we can accommodate.

    Yet you say, all we need do is spend a bit more, giving the impression there’s an exact line where our finances suddenly get compromised.

    The reason we can compete AT ALL with teams that between them have spent £1.4 BILLION on players is because we acquire quality at the right price or at a discount (either by casting nets far, recognising talent early or promoting from within).

  91. Henristic,

    We were PATENTLY more defensive against Man Utd. I am baffled nobody else seems to have noticed it.

  92. Im not saying spend 40 mil a summer and i do know we spend well on wages- what i was getting at was (not getting onto the players here, this is just a for instance) …..we bought Kos for whatever he cost – 8 mil was it? Now i like him as a player and he looks like he can develop into quite a good one, in time, hes quite young. But we have 2 of those at centre half already in Djourou and Vermaelen.

    LeBoss did the right thing in getting a Squilachi player in, an experienced player who has been about a bit. That tact was also fine. He got him quite cheap too i believe.

    Here is my point – Why not spend 5 mil more (and maybe also the squilachi monies too) on a player that falls somewhere in between agewise – an international calibre player (Squilachi) but one who is on the up and not on the down, if you get me.

    That way Djourou is the up and commer, Vermaelen the younger partner (Djourou deserves his chance once Wenger is happy with his fitness) and We have a top centrehalf as the linchpin.

  93. Because £5M spent on improved contracts for Sagna, Nasri and Wilshere could also improve the squad?

    Because spending £13M instead on £8M doesn’t mean you get a better player?

  94. On the UTD game – Song showed the respect the opposition deserved and did the Devensive Song act. Sometimes this is also the requirement for some of the ‘lower’ sides in the league – its about balance i suppose – Song got his defensive duties down ok last season – now hes being acked to do more going forward – sometimes its too much – but i have faith hel get the balance right. Sooner rather than later would be nice 🙂

  95. DeiseGooner,

    Ok. It seems like you are saying that Koscienly should be more experienced and on the up.

    I listened to Phillipe Auclair on Arseblog and he was not altogether convinced by Koscienly, saying that he tackles too much. So the jury seems to be out on him in a lot of quarters. I think that’s a bit unfair on the guy. He was very good against the mancs, and he will get physically stronger over time.

    The only thing that you can say is that given that our first choice pairing has not been present this season, we are not doing too badly. We appear to have good strength in depth. The chavs almost imploded with the absence of Terry. Our first choice centre back – Vermaelen, hasn’t been available for any games.

    To me, our centre back quartet is stronger than it was last season.

  96. Cesc is a doomer!

  97. Yes Kos has done well, as has Squil. I do feel that Vermalens injury has meant both are thrown into a new league and have had to learn on the job as such. So who knows what might be different had Vermaelen not been injured…….he has been a big miss.

    But i cant help but feel we have 2 players with the qualities we really need combined in 1 ‘linchpin’ player …one we might have got if we just were willing to spend that little bit more and not have to bargain all the time.

  98. Ole Gunner | December 20, 2010 at 3:47 pm |

    We were PATENTLY more defensive against Man Utd. I am baffled nobody else seems to have noticed it.

    Yah we were more defensive. A few poeple observed how deep we sat. The point is, did Wenger plan it that way? If so why? Because of media pressure? I thought we were forced to sit deep because manu had more of the ball in the first half.
    Also, before the game Wenger was quoted as saying something like we shouldn’t care about ours or manu’s weaknesses . Instead he suggested the team will focus on playing to their strengths.
    Also reading what Cesc said, it seems there was also an element of the players holding back as well psychologically. A sort of mental block arising from a fear of losing.

  99. Muppet, you are correct our defense has been doing quite well thus far especially looking at the injuries and constant changes.

    If you take away United or Chelsea’s first choice pairing they are not good at all in defence.

    Also as far as us being 5th is goal againts, we are talking about 1-3 goals difference for the most part so that stat cannot be taken to0 seriously.

    We have it all at the club. Again, for me what we lack is someone is will rally the troops. I do believe TV and RVP can do that job but unfortunately they havent been in the side much.

    Rosicky and Arshavin the team needs more from you leadership wise!


  100. What’s he done this time, ArseChicago?

  101. Paul N,

    Christmas greetings to you !


    I don’t think we are driving bargains all the time. We pay realistic money. Look at city – £20 million for Lescott. How many appearances has he made this season. Some of the valuations are crazy. Apparently Carroll is worth £20 million. This is with 1 england cap.

    As for the defence. I think we do have 2 lynchpins, as you say. Djourou and Vermaelen. But Wenger has been very very cautious about overplaying Djourou.

  102. UTD played to nulify our threats – pressure the fullbacks, flood midfield to stop the quick passing and drop deep to draw us onto them so they could counter attack us.

    We set up to not get caught on the break too much but as our passing was off we were not incisive enough in the final third. Maybe this was the fear Cesc was on about.

    I liked that we looked more solid defensively, we coped quite well. BUT we needed to score first so they could not then double their spoiling tactics. When we then had to push for an equaliser we left ourselves open to counters.

  103. Ole Gunner | December 20, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
    Because £5M spent on improved contracts for Sagna, Nasri and Wilshere could also improve the squad?

    I’m not part of the ‘spend more’ brigade, but we can certainly afford to spend 5M more on improving contracts whilst spending another 5Mil on a better player.

    I also disagree with your 3.45 post. Finances are discreet entities. There IS a line where our finances will get compromised and I’m sure we’ve been spending below that line in the last few years particularly the last two. So saying we can’t afford to spend 5M extra on a player because we’ve got to improve contracts isn’t true anymore.

    The question of whether a 13mill player is better than an 8mill player is another matter…

  104. It is just as easy to fall on the “every purchase is a gamble, so why risk big (or in this case slightly bigger) buys?” posit as it is to fall on the “we need to buy better players”.

    Of course, one never knows how things will turn out.
    Of course, one can just as easily buy an expensive big name flop as an unknown superstar on the cheap.

    Which risk is greater? A big fee and big wages at the off or longer term wages and time spent in development and years on the pitch waiting for the ‘payoff’ which might not pan out?

    Both are risks, but it’s crazy to make one out to be evil and the other to be greatness.

  105. Back at you Muppet, Merry Christmas my brother!

    Deise, what is undeniable in the match is that no Arsenal player looked to take it to United. We did have some good opportunities by we just were not aggressive enough. The team needs to get a little more attitude and some anger going to me.

    I believe we have all that is needed to be the best team in the world.

  106. Ole, Muppet, I have no wish or reason to argue with either of you. There are a few who have consistently wanted us to break the bank on this site. A few more want some spending I don’t think it’s fair to lump those two viewpoints together.

    Nor do I think that Bill is saying our defence is crap. He has a point about not conceding goals. Don’t concede and you can’t lose. Obvious. That’s not to say that you can win by outscoring the opponent. Also obvious.

    For me our defence is better than it was last season but not as good as it needs to be.

    My real concern and interest is with the ability of this squad to win matches consistently. They don’t. It might be possible to redress that issue off the pitch, you would hope so. I don’t think it ridiculous to consider a signing or two to address it either.

  107. I should add, that I’m also proud of the fact that we spend below our means and are still able to compete. However, while I admit that we can always improve the squad quality wise by buying players, I still think that this squad is good enough talentwise to win titles. Whether they have the cojones for it is another matter…

  108. Henristic, what better players are you referring to. Who is it that you wouldve liked to see come in for who we have? After that, are you sure that the other teams would sell?

    It is reported that Arsenal tried to land reina, xavi alonso and Carvalho (not sure if thats who you spell it). Do we just keep upping the price until someone says yes?

    The players that came in are as good as any singing in the PL.

  109. NJGooner @ 3:17:

    Not sure how your post sheds any light on your idea that we could not learn anything by studying the defensive tactics of Barca and Spain. You mentioned parking the bus and marking Xavi but how does that relate to their ability to avoid being scored on? Somehow despite having very little pace in the back they consistently concede fewer goals then almost any team in Europe. There has to be several things we could learn about positioning, movement and organization from them, why reinvent the wheel? That makes no sense to me.

    We have a similar system to Barca and Spain and our players are similar in size for the most part. If you really believe that their attacking and defensive system would be broken down by the physical play here in the PL then what in the world are we doing playing this way.

  110. “Because £5M spent on improved contracts for Sagna, Nasri and Wilshere could also improve the squad?”

    Well Ole – keeping those players is important for sure, but thats not improving the squad now is it. And dont say we can not now afford both 5 mil on contracts and another 5 mil on top of what we spent on transfers. Of course we can, thats one element of the move to the Emirates….

    We just seem to have got stuck on bargain mode a little bit it seems. I agree we shouldnt play the inflated prices that city have been paying – but they are doing that because other clubs know they will pay it.

    As for spending more not meaning we get a better player – sure a 13 mil player is not always better than an 8 mil player – but its shopping from another rack of a higher quality player at least

  111. Agree Consol. This tendency to reject outright any suggestion of buying better quality players because it will wreck us financially is just well… pointless these days. Very few people on here still argue for that.

  112. Paul,

    I was responding to a conversation between Ole and Deise. I’m not suggesting any players. I really don’t feel we NEED new players at this point.

  113. If we dont allow many shots on goal it means we are defending brilliantly. As we know our issue is the odd mental lapse for whatever reason.

    I believe Bill has a point but goes over the top with the defending thing, its not that you cannot state it, but every single day?

    Our defensive record in the PL is really marred by two matches and that would be the spurs and WBA. These are two matches where we played the fool. 6 goals out of the 19 against us!!!

    All things considered apart from these two matches we have not defended poorly. As the year progresses I expect things to tighten up.

  114. Sorry about that Henristic.

    I believe if we are going to talk about spending more money on “better” players that it should be done with the players (who are better) in mind and not just “spend more money”.

    In that Deise, can you answer this question.

    what better players are you referring to those who you wouldve liked to see come in for who we have or added? and are you sure that the other teams would sell?

  115. @DesiGooner I heard Cahill is availabe for 15M this winter or was it more? Maybe we should have payed 15m for him and bougth 1 defender this autumn instead of buying two. He is as people say “proven quality” has the grit and determination of a real englishman and is one of the best defenders in the country going by his price. I woner if he would have done a remarkably better job than squil or Kos this year. If we would have less goals scored against us if we had him and JD or him and Kos istead of Kos and squill. Maybe those 5 m that differed Cahill from Kos is what would have made us 10 points ahead of United instead of 1 pnt behind? Maybe Cahill is what we miss and buying squill is what looses us the title this year.
    Cos i assume you want Cahill or Hangeland or Jagielkacalibre defenders. They are after all MILES better than Kos and Squil.
    IS this the “next rack up for you ?” the cahills, hangelans and lescotts of the world?

  116. Henristic,

    Good point that there is a bottom line beyond which finances get stretched. But my point remains that the way to never cross that bottom-line is to have a comprehensive approach.

    I don’t hold the view that the club should NEVER spend big. If anything, I think we should hold the board to their promise that windfalls from the Highbury property will be spent on squad development.

    That doesn’t mean we have to go out and spend, just because we have money, for the sake of it.

    I do believe that beyond a certain outlay, you simply don’t get value in the transfer market. I’d put that amount to be at something like £20M. That’s not based on research, but it’s based on the fact that that’s 25% of what we make from the stadium, 20% of our wage bill, being spent on one single player who you still have to pay afterwards! It’s clear in a team sport that only one or 2 individuals can really ever make enough of a difference to results that success would be impossible without him. That’s who you should pay £20M for.

    These days, that’s the going price of any half-decent players if you buy on the ‘spot-market’ for ‘proven’ players.

    Furthermore, if you accept the premise that you can not always make big outlays on players, then you have to accept that that next player acquisition you’re suggesting IS QUITE LIKELY not that killer signing. That’s because most signings are not killer signings that win you trophies.

    When Man Utd transitioned, they went 3 years without winning the league. Their breakthrough came when Cronaldo & Rooney reached their potential.

    While the idea of things tipping at the margins is attractive, it’s plain logic that for a club already at the margins, (even if one killer signing could tip the balance), most of the resources needed to tip the margin exist within.

    We have a young squad that’s not at its peak. They improve every single season. Since it’s not realistic to think the club will ditch them all and buy 15 proven top class players, THE MANAGER IS EXACTLY RIGHT TO PRIORITISE GETTING IMPROVEMENT FROM WITHIN.

    I say this as someone who has, since the start of the season, argued that we need a proven, top top quality attacking player….a ‘go-to’ player.

  117. Who knows poodle eh, who knows?

  118. Well Ole – keeping those players is important for sure, but thats not improving the squad now is it. And dont say we can not now afford both 5 mil on contracts and another 5 mil on top of what we spent on transfers. Of course we can, thats one element of the move to the Emirates…

    When you improve contracts there is an assumption it makes the players more motivated & improves their performances & helps retain them. So it’s a definite improvement…unless they’re overpaid already.

    We just seem to have got stuck on bargain mode a little bit it seems. I agree we shouldnt play the inflated prices that city have been paying – but they are doing that because other clubs know they will pay it.

    Here you get to the heart of the matter. I do think that bargain mode is the exact mode we should be in. That’s where our differences lie.

    I believe that you shouldn’t pay £15M for a £10M player but instead you should try to get a £12M player for £7M (Sagna)…….or a potential £50M player for £2M (Cesc). I think this mode works better.

    It’s the only mode to compete with teams who have spent £1.4 Billion, when you’ve spent £50M and that was all you had to spend

  119. Bill,

    My point in posting that excerpt about Barca was to highlight how different the two leagues are, and how using Barca as an example to highlight how we could do better defensively is not really worthwhile.

    The article makes it sound like parking the bus against Barca is something that is far from the main stream tactics wise in La Liga. Here it is de rigeur for teams to just sit and hit us on the counter. Now you talked about how Barca’s defense is not too fast and how that is not something that haunts them. When teams play “park the bus” they do so to stifle us defensively and then hit us on the counter attack. The lack of pace in Barca’s defense therefore is rarely exposed by the true counter attacks we see coming out of park the bus style defenses.

    I get your confusion about why i posted that quote. But I just wanted to show how different things are in La Liga for a team like Barca.

  120. “When you improve contracts there is an assumption it makes the players more motivated & improves their performances & helps retain them. So it’s a definite improvement…unless they’re overpaid already” – Well thats one way of looking at it, the other is they have their new contract so their effort will lessen – but you would have to hope for proper professional attitude there – so i will agree with you here and its squad improvement.

    And sure you should always try do the best when buying a player and get value for money – but – you must play the price for the player, thats the price the selling club sets – within reason of course.

    So while yes get that 10 mil player for less if you can – but also pay 12 for him if it means quality and beating other clubs to said player.

    This is where we now seem to pack up and leave – surely that 2 mil is affordable now we are where we are? else what was the point of moving?

    No on eis saying spend billions but we do have the funds to push the boat out just a little bit and get that higher caliber player

  121. How can Cahill be proven quality? Not in terms of experience, not in terms of caps, not in terms of level he’s played at, not in terms of age……WHAT SUGGESTS HE’S PROVEN QUALITY?

    He’s not as good as Djourou or even as experienced!

  122. NJGooner,

    All teams have to plan for not having the ball for 65-70% of any game against Barca. Yes, that means parking the bus.

    The difference is in whether you also have an attacking game plan.

    Other difference is the level of physicality, and the willingness to just hoof it, and gamble on their mistakes.

  123. NJGooner:

    Your point about rarely parking the bus in La Liga and not being exposed to the counter attack as much makes sense. I had not really thought about that. However, given their typical ball possession stats even without having the bus parked the only real way to score against them would be counter attacks since most teams see so little of the ball . Even when they do not have the ball they are rarely caught out by thru balls and they seem to manage the space in their defensive end so well. Clearly the situations are not as analagous and I implied in earlier posts but still makes sense that we could learn from them. I guess.

    Cliff Lee in Philly. Big surprise. Lots of media doom and gloom here in Texas. Probably not as much as you are seeing from the Yankee pundits. I thought Zack Greinke was plan B but now that is gone.

  124. Ole,

    Good set of posts there. Your point about paying 15 million for a 10 million player is perfectly highlighted by Tim Cahill and other experienced EPL center backs. Bolton rates him at 20 million +! That’s just ludicrous! And to suggest that Cahill is worth that kind of money in terms of how much improvement he would bring to the team is not worth the argument.

  125. £15 million for a player with 1 england cap is bollocks. It’s typical of the media that the purchase of this type of player would win us the premiership. Utter bollocks. Squillachi is supposed to be useless and he has 20 caps for france. If angels could weep.

  126. Also we can only speculate that Cahill would do well with Arsenal.

    A players that plays in a more defensive team will look good defensively but when you play in an attack minded team is that player quick enough of can they read the game well enough?

    Our defenders match our style of play, they just need to used to playing with eachother and get healthy obviously.

  127. Bill,

    Cool. I think your right that we can learn something from them. I think we DID learn a thing or two about pressuring the ball at the Emirates last year. I’m not saying pressuring the ball is the end all be all of defensive tactics, but in a offensive system that relies on retaining possession, they showed us how valuable it is when you can win the ball back quickly.

    And yea its pretty intense right now too. Especially bc we put all of our eggs in that basket and didnt even have a go at Crawford, which I was really bummed about. A lot of the freak out in Yankee land is about how awesome of an offseason the Bo-Saux are having. Ahhh well..we did just sign Mark Prior!! Woo haha

  128. No on eis saying spend billions but we do have the funds to push the boat out just a little bit and get that higher caliber player

    As I said, I have nothing against buying players. Wenger has bought players every season he has been here, and they have generally been top quality. It’s been years now since he bought badly in the market….

    My simple disagreement in today’s football is that a £12M player is better than an £8M player. Even a £35M player as things stand today, might not be better than an £8M player.

    Berbatov or Van der Vaart?

  129. CBob:

    “Nor do I think that Bill is saying our defence is crap. He has a point about not conceding goals. Don’t concede and you can’t lose. Obvious.”

    Keeping clean sheets is not just about avoiding the loss. You are much more likely to win, especially in the “big games”. Goals come much harder in the “big games”. The opponents are tougher and they defend with more energy and concentration against us then against West Ham. Whenever we do concede it is much tougher to get that goal back, so a clean sheet in those games are usually the only way to win.

  130. Consolsbob,

    I think that is fair comment. I wasn’t advocating no spending. I was just saying that we are not Shitty, as you know.

    Anyway.. hope you are not too snowed in, in the West Country. Xmas greetings and all the best.

  131. “My simple disagreement in today’s football is that a £12M player is better than an £8M player. Even a £35M player as things stand today, might not be better than an £8M player.”

    Totally agree by the way.

    But i will add that the value for money we seem to get for our transfers dont you feel if Le Boss did spend that bit extra wed get that bit more quality that we need??

  132. Also, improving the contracts of existing players in investing in proven quality. Quality that you know works for you. Shevchenko was top quality, but he didn’t improve the Chavs AT ALL

  133. Let’s not forget he spent £11M on Theo Walcott. Given his age that big pricetag is more easily justifiable. Nevertheless, let’s not forget that if we deal in the realm of true resources no English club can have more than £20-40M to spend per season. We can’t spend it all on one player.

    Not that I completely disagree!

    I think the board MUST keep their promise that windfalls from Highbury will be spent on the squad. Maybe then we could buy a couple of the supreme class players.

    The problem is that there’s only a handful of top top class, and it’s dubious you can get them even with all the money in the world. You’re not buying Messi. Chelsea won’t sell Essien to us, until he’s maybe slightly over the hill. etc etc

  134. Ole Gunner | December 20, 2010 at 5:05 pm |

    That doesn’t mean we have to go out and spend, just because we have money, for the sake of it.

    Agree completely! But i’m not sure why you base your figure as a percentage of wage bill or ticket income? Unless you’re planning to sign a big player every year, shouldn’t the max figure be based on how much has been saved over the years due to our sensibly frugal policy? I’d think we would be able to afford spending much, much higher than 20m, if we NEED to.
    More realistically, the price of the player we want will be set by the selling club. If its going to be a difference making player of the type you describe, he’s NOT LIKELY to come cheap anymore. We’ll just get turned down like happened with Reina etc. if we don’t offer ‘silly money’. People have cottoned up to the fact that we are a rich club and only a desperate player/club will allow us get the good deals we’ve been getting in the past.

    But that really shouldn’t stop us. If Arsene feels for example that David Villa will make a huge difference to our side, then he should pay what the selling club asks for as long as we can afford it. This is unfortunately the way big clubs operate. In Villa’s case, his price was I think about 30-40M? This is realistically the range of what a player better than what we currently have will cost imo. Because of our frugal past we can now afford this type of fee on a one off basis, for that special category of players without a risk of going bust.

    But clearly, such top class players are few and far between. In the meantime we should keep and nuture what we have until an opportunity arises.

  135. People fixate on how much we buy players for instead of how much our players would sell for. Seen that way we have a squad every bit as expensive as Man City, Chelsea or Man Utd.

    The Man City players are all worth no more than a fraction of what Money City paid. If Bayern Munich or Inter Milan were buying those players they’d have paid much much less.

  136. I agree with that Bill. I was trying to be simple. Not difficult, consolslel would say.

    I know Muppet, I know. Sometimes we have to try and find the gaps between our discussions here that the odd unexplored point might get lost within. The grey between the often light and dark arguments we have on here. The quiet suggestion amid the clamour of right and wrong. New ground.

    Pretty much snowed in here. Our track to the outsdie world is not really passable. Might have to call off consolslel’s birthday dinner at the local hostelry for the second year running!

    And a Merry Christmas to you and yours Muppet. Let’s raise a glass, or two, to a Title in 2011. Why the hell not?

  137. Henristic,

    People don’t seem to have realised something. The number of top class difference-making players has not increased. Instead, we have had much more money than ever before thrown at buying the same players. Now, those top players are established at a few top clubs with very little mobility (Messi at Barca for 10 years, Rooney at Mancs for 6 yrs, RVP at Arsenal for 6 yrs, etc etc). Now, unless you’re paying £50-£70M, you’re not moving the top top players.

    But because clubs are fixated with ‘spending big’ they’re buying less quality for £30M (Milner, Lescott, Berbatov, Glen Johnson for £20M).

    There’s a mushy middle in which you could get quality for spending £20M or you very well might not!

  138. I question whether or not there is actually a player out there right now who could come into the squad and make a real impact, in the vein that C-Bob was talking about, who is AVAILABLE — i.e. Aston Villa slapping an 80 million price tag on Ashley Young should be read as unavailable, not to mention belligerent. Who would this cat amongst the pidgeons player be?

  139. I’ll drink to that !!

  140. i dont fixate on the price we pay (i know we as a club look after the finances) i fixate on the quality of player – and while summer just gone we have bought good players i dont feel we bought great players / or not great yet players.

    And i reckon we are maybe 2 great players away from being a great team now – but it seems we may have to wait for those to come through the ranks in a few years rather than buy them in now.

    And while i love that we look like we are on the verge of being able to do that regularly i cant help but feel we could also easily afford the finished article now.

  141. C-Bob

    “Pretty much snowed in here. Our track to the outsdie world is not really passable. Might have to call off consolslel’s birthday dinner at the local hostelry for the second year running!”

    My sympathies to Mrs. Consols and your potentially dejected party guests. But I cant let the opportunity to have a go at all of you about the weather slip by. I hope you are all doing your best to survive the bitter cold, your sub-zero temperatures, aka sub 32 degree temperatures for me, sound terrible! And all that snow, 3 maybe 4 I dare not say 5 inches! Heaven forbid!!

    It’s just one of the things that really highlights the few thousand miles between me and my ACLF pals and the area that Arsenal actually exists in! It was 15 degrees when I left for work this morning! Wind Chill down to 5! It snows at least once a week here with 3 inches not really a big deal!

    Hopefully all that tea will warm you up!!

  142. I certainly don’t want an Ashley Young, NJG!

    Any ideas on a ‘cat amongst the pidgeon player’? Anyone?

  143. Again, I’m not against spending big. I am against the unquestioned acceptance of the philosophy of spending big. I think it’s just too clear that spending big as a hold-all policy doesn’t work, if you don’t have £500M to throw at the problem like the Chavs did. That ay they could make all their expensive mistakes and it never counted.

    If we spend £40M on Villa & he’s homesick at the end of his first season (Reyes)……then you have a big problem.

    So, spend big if you must, but make sure it works.

    In any case, we probably now at are a point where we can actually spend big since we have the cash, and we already have a competitive squad. Mistakes will cost less.

    But let’s not think of abandoning the sensible, brilliant approach to transfers just yet…..excess leads to waste, my mentor used to say.

    I think Liverpool were MAD to try to outspend Chavs & Man poo. It ultimately almost cost them the club’s very existence & they’ve actually regressed despite having a very expensive squad.

    Other examples abound; Aston Villa, Spurs maybe in the Champions League but long-term something will give. Inter Milan are £700M in debt, and now have a squad well on its way down, an aged squad. Moratti has to pull out some big bucks soon. And they no longer have an Ibra to sell or a Barca to gift them Eto’o.

  144. Deise,

    If you take our 4 centre backs and compared them to any equivalent set in the league, we’re not worse off.

    I’d take Djourou, Vermaelen, Kos & Squillaci over

    Ferdinand, Vidic, Smalling & Evans

    of Alex, Terry, Ivanovic.

    It’s true our rivals have better pairings. But that’s also a mark of them being at a more advanced stage in their development.

    And we don’t have poor centre backs. I am not a fan of Squillaci but he’s won titles and is very experienced. Kos is a massive talent as is Djourou. Vermaelen as well.

  145. Amen to that.

  146. Good Post YW and some good discussion on here today.

  147. But Ole – its the better pairings / better quality that will be the difference.
    Imagine Vidic next to Vermaelen? Thats my point.
    While we have 4 very good players theres just something missing – right?
    Maybe its finding the right combination, maybe its just as simple as getting Vermaelen back and he cliks with Djourou and bang we have the heart of our defense sorted for the next 7 years.

    But theres definitely something missing from our defense for sure.

  148. Patrice Evra looks like a well preened cat, and would certainly shake things up in the dressing room. I bet he’s dying to give us all a kick up the arse. The only difficulty then would be in restraining Samir Nasri from making the disproportional but wholly understandable response of kicking Evra’s teeth back into his face.

  149. @ gunman

    Ni offense taken at all… just thot to point out the gender difference seeing we are so few of us on here in the first place LOL

  150. I think Arsene should spend whatever it takes to give Nasri that chance Limpar. Hell’, I’d chip in a weeks’ egg money myself.

  151. @Henristic…

    I be waffy and neva stay there reach 10 yrs at a time, but e dey bodi! ironically, I stayed in the west for 10 yrs straighr! LOL

  152. CBob @ 6:11:

    Not that I really worry about it but I might not catch as much grief if I learned to do simple.

  153. Nonsense, Bill. You’ve always come across as simple to me.

  154. man.. so my attempts to wind you all up about the weather were that weak?? damn.. I’ve been saving those for so long!

  155. “Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”

  156. Deise what defender do or did you have in mind as far as pairing with TV?

  157. CBob,

    “I’d chip in a weeks’ egg money myself”

    Did you clear that up with Hector?

  158. Our desire for success is beginning to cloud our judgement and lead to unrealistic demands. To paraphrase Cbob, we need one or two new faces in the squad that can change things in the dressing room and kick-start this team Fine on the face of it. But haven’t we seen how this works in practice. The gov’t subsidized boon-doggle that is Real Madrid, did, what is called in the US, a “clear out” of outstanding footballers like Sneijder, Van der Vaart, Huntelaar, Robben et al in return for Ronaldo and Kaka and the building of Galacticos #2. Despite the spending of some serious loot what did it gain Madrid in 09-10? Nought. The biggest winner was in fact was Inter-Milan who gained Sneijder at bargain basement prices but even the champions league and Scudetto cannot save them from their current financial misery and the likelihood of winning nothing under Benitez. Similarly, everybody’s favorite Arsenal bench-mark team, Barce-loaner, decided to go for broke after their 08-09 season by signing Ibra and literally giving away Etoo, in an effort to shake-up things tactically. IMO, it is one of the biggest football gambles of this century which almost ended in tears for the Farcelonans who as we all know were almost bankrupt last summer.
    It is easy to propose gambles when it is only our pride at stake and when impatience becomes the servant of instant gratification. Nobody is absolutely right or wrong in this debate but it pays to remember; “be careful what you wish for.”

  159. Buy!buy!buy!is this the new mantra?we got 3 players in the summer for crying out loud!maybe the other big teams have better pairing as far as defence is concerned but they have had more time to gell.we have had the misfortune of losing our most important players and all things considered we are not doing badly.obviously we can improve and i have no doubt we shall.for all of those clamouring for spendin big on “quality” i hope wenger does that one of these days and if we end with a ‘lescot’ on our hands dont come back moaning about money wasted.

  160. On the subject of eggs, any non-vegetarians out there joining former England Legend Graham Taylor in his boycott of chicken(s), which is in support of Biggus Sammus?

    Man $iteh let in another sloppy goal.
    None of the D-Fence moved!
    Mancini’s infamous D-Fensive Drilling?

  161. everton 1-0 city, cahill ‘4

  162. Ole Gunner | December 20, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
    Other examples abound; Aston Villa, Spurs maybe in the Champions League but long-term something will give. Inter Milan are £700M in debt, and now have a squad well on its way down, an aged squad. Moratti has to pull out some big bucks soon. And they no longer have an Ibra to sell or a Barca to gift them Eto’o.

    Thankfully our situation is nothing like those teams. Like I said, I’m pretty satisfied with our squad this season compared to last where I thought we could have done with and extra striker and CB other than Silvestre.

    There is however the possibility that the club/Arsene is against spending big ‘in principle’. That would be a worry if true because it just makes you wonder what the cash is being kept for?
    As an extreme example, lets say Messi decide for some reason to leave Barca and they choose to sell. Would we pay the 80-100M he’d probably cost even if we could afford it? Lets even say he publicly declares his love for us (like C.Ronaldo with Madrid) and so on. What would you do in such a situation, if you were in Wenger’s brogues?

  163. has any team ever won the premier league title after being top at xmas?

  164. @Finsbury, Likely from Evertons only chance? No one has it as bad as us in that regard am sure.

    I really feel we had enough new players this season too… they need time to gel… if only TV5 had not gotten injured and continued where he left off last season. Sometimes. u cant legislate for these things.

  165. i guess man city also fear to go on top and lack mental strength and all that.

    Its 2 – nil to everton

  166. @ Hwnristic.

    i think u can rest assured with the purchases of reyes, arshavin and the defenders this season and TV last season that AW will buy when he feels the need is there and certainly not adverse to spending

  167. Man City 2-0 down at home ?

    Looks like they need to spend another £200 million on their defence.

  168. No one would even think about spending 80-100 mil on a player b4 Chelsea, now we look at it as the norm. Is any player worth 80-100 mil? These prices are driven by corruption and bank bail outs, etc, why should Arsenal invovle themselves in such things?

  169. I just wonder who you would buy to pair with Vermaalen. If you want a top top top defender with proven pedigree that wants to move and that has a club that want to sell withouth asking 200% more than his real value, you may end up with nothing, as such a situation hardly exists today.

    There are seriousley few of them out there. There are infact NO Vidics for sale. no Ferdinans for sale. There exits no world class defenders that are worth selling for their club unless you are prepared to pay 25m pluss. That is what Chelse payed for ramirez was it not? Well hes set the world on fire has he not?

    Its the same with Goalkeepers. The best, the best that even wants to come play for Arsenal are just not available unless you play 100% his value and that is ALOT of money. Those that thnk you can get an Akinfeeve(dont really know his name) or a Given(and hes not even that good!) on sale are deluded. Noway would City sell to a rival, and why would any club sell their best player?? DeGea will go for 15M pluss atlest, how much better than Chesney is he in 3 years time??
    All clubs know the transfare market is difficult now, thats why Mettershack was not coming this year, cos his CLUB did not want to sell, maybe for 17M but mettershack is not 17M good. Do we want to turn into City that buys half decent players for a fortune? Do we really want our own Lescott ? or our own Santa Cruz or a new Adebayor? No did not think so. Such poor buys should never have to be associated with a great club as ours.

  170. per mertesacker sis one of the slowest cbs around

  171. Paul N,
    I used Messi as an extreme example. He’s the only other player in the world that can realistically command such fees.
    Few players command the highest transfer fees. Zidane’s record held for quite a while before CRonaldo’s sale broke it. Since Messi aint leaving Barca anytime in the foreseeable future, that record will be safe for a good while yet.

  172. Messi is also the one player in the world that is more likely as any other to make a huge difference to any team. Tis why I used him in my example

  173. “It is easy to propose gambles when it is only our pride at stake” and when it’s not your money!

    “impatience becomes the servant of instant gratification. Nobody is absolutely right or wrong in this debate but it pays to remember; “be careful what you wish for.”

    The most sensible comment we’ve had all day.

    Of course the team played like they were scared to lose against manure, because that is exactly what happened. They have been crucified in the past for going gung-ho, actually trying to win games against big teams and being heavily beaten on the counter. manure the so called ‘big team’ played like a ‘small’ team with 11 players behind the ball, a doctored pitch to negate Arsenal’s strengths and hoofed long balls for Rooney to chase. They got a flukey goal from a header that could have gone anywhere, but with their luck went in and then they defended like their lives depended on it.

    I can understand the Arsenal players’ frustration – they try to win and lose, they get slaughtered by fans and press alike. They try to play conservatively and the attack suffers as a consequence. I have said this before, but the online navel gazing, which translates into in the ground sighing and groaning at every mis-placed pass is really inhibiting this team. If we could forget our own egos and need for bragging rights for 5 minutes and show the team we believe in them, it would pay off in so many ways. But sadly evidence to date suggests that’s never going to happen. It’s a chicken and egg situation – the team will never get the belief until they win something, but winning something is being impeded by the lack of belief from their so called supporters.

  174. TS,
    Arshavin, Vermalean etc have to be considered bargain buys in the current scheme of things. Reyes did cost a bunch but that was before we moved stadiums and started depending mainly on the youth policy

  175. Disagree with the last 2 lines in your post Passenal. I think the influence of fans support on a teams performance over a season is way overrated..

  176. then you’ve never been to a football match, henristic.

    Have you ever heard of home advantage?

  177. everton down to 10 men.

  178. no.. they are not bargain buys by out standards, they were expensive and not youths

    Shotta i think sums up what i feel on the matter.

  179. sigh….

  180. Siege going on around Everton’s defense. The pressure is paying off as City’s pulled one back from an own goal…

  181. City might well nick this….

  182. c’mon, you toffees! can’t have city going top…

  183. notlager | December 20, 2010 at 9:17 pm |
    then you’ve never been to a football match, henristic.
    Have you ever heard of home advantage?

    Can’t really be arsed explaining my point to you notlager

  184. note its when everton went 1 man down!

    Hope they can hold out

  185. thought so armchair fan.

  186. Thankfully our situation is nothing like those teams. Like I said, I’m pretty satisfied with our squad this season compared to last where I thought we could have done with and extra striker and CB other than Silvestre.

    Our situation is nothing like those teams because we have a manager who has filled the squad with quality and focuses on getting them towards their potential.

    Liverpool on the other hand, tried to ‘spend big’ and actually ended up much worse than they started out being.

    It’s the very thing that works for us that you question. That’s what worries me.

    Otherwise, I have NO PROBLEM with spending money!

    People have to realise football as it is is not sustainable. We can’t have 20 clubs throwing crazy money at the same small number of class players. £80M for Ronaldo is madness. £30M for Milner is madness to the nth degree. He’s worth £7M, no more.

    If you look at how much clubs make…..Old Trafford generates less revenue per year than Real madrid spent on Ronaldo. MAKES NO SENSE.

  187. It’s all well and good to say we have to compete, we can’t just fold, but we sure aint got the £150M that Real Madrid spent to win nothing last season.

    The fact that we’re even in a position to talk about us being close to winning, or needing the great signing that tips us over the edge is down to Wenger’s genius.

    Logic dictates that you’d hope you’re not correct that spending big is the only way. WE CANT SPEND BIG COS WE DONT HAVE THE BIG BUCKS

  188. cmon everton

  189. “It’s the very thing that works for us that you question. That’s what worries me”

    What do you think I’m questioning Ole?

    Good job Everton…

  190. Henristic, if that were true, why does everyone bleat on about the home crowd being the twelfth man and the impact of having home advantage? If the fans had no influence, games home or away would make no difference. The fact that our away form is currently better is largely influence IMO by the difference between our home and away support. The players always speak highly of the away support and Cesc is constantly asking for support for the team in the home programmes and highlighting how much it means to the players. If it really meant so little, they might as well play games behind closed doors. The reality is that anyone who has been to a live match will tell you, the crowd can and has made a difference on many occasions. I would say that it is even more critical for a young and developing team with fewer internal resources to fall back on.

  191. glad everton held out… status quo on top for now.

    come on gunners come on Sunderland come the weekend do what u did at the bridge at old T. Gyan to celebrate his bbc african player crown with a hattrick at Old T although i would take 1 – 0 to both the arsenal and Sunderland

  192. Everton keep us in second place. Great game by them. Man City played like none of their players liked eachother.

  193. notlager | December 20, 2010 at 9:49 pm |
    thought so armchair fan.

    LOL, surely you can do better than that?

  194. Shitty need a new goalkeeper, a centre back, a midfielder and a striker.

  195. Shottagunna, Firstlady, Team Spirit, Passenal, absolutely spot on.

    @ Henristic
    Don’t make stuff up. Who has disagreed that keeping clean sheets is highly desirable? The arguments were as to whether keeping a clean sheet was MORE important than outscoring your opponent (it is not), whether keeping a clean sheet is a tactic in itself or an outcome of the success of certain tactics (it is an outcome), whether keeping a clean sheet is entirely up to each team and opponents have no say in the matter.

    “notlager | December 20, 2010 at 9:49 pm |
    thought so armchair fan.

    LOL, surely you can do better than that?”

    No, YOU can do better, Henristic. What exactly was your point? Because it sounded to me as if you were trying to justify a lack of support by saying the support of fans doesn’t matter anyway.
    (Great post at 10:03pm, Passenal)

  196. Some excellent time wasting by Everton, just the sort we see from them every time they come to TNHOF.

  197. @ LimparAssist | December 20, 2010 at 7:18 pm |
    ha ha!

    Also great points poodle and Paul N.

  198. I’ve always liked Everton… ha ha ha!

  199. Bad news on Hector G4E. Update tomorrow. Things press now.

  200. Passenal,

    I hear all the time on this blog that just becasue everyone bleats about something doesn’t make it right. I said fans support is overrated, not that it has no influence at all.

    I certainly don’t believe the perceived lack of support inhibits our teams performance in any meaningful way as you stated. We won most of our home games last season. Did our home support suddenly get worse and the away support suddenly get better this season?

    Our home form has improved in recent games. Is it because there are now less groans and more cheering than in the Westbrom, Spurs and Newcastle games? In fact, I’ll go on to predict that our home form will continue to improve for the rest of the season, irrespective of the kind of support the players get, withing reason (I don’t expect racists chants or bottle throwing or other such nonsense that doesn’t normally happen anyway)

  201. I’m not debating the advantage of playing at home against playing away. Thats why each team plays home and away equal number of times, to balance out that effect. I’m saying that our ability to win titles isn’t seriously influenced by whether a few people groan at a player who makes a wrong pass. The are so many more important factors that come into play and the quality of home support counts for very little in all of that….

    I’m still yet to hear of a team that lost a title because their home support wasn’t ‘supporting enough’, or vice versa.

  202. @ Muppet LOL

    I was going to say that. Joe Hart no less conceding 2 goals at home… Imagine that as Big Al

  203. @ henristic, there has to be something in the fact that most of our loses have been more at home… they fear to lose and they likely feel the pressure more from the home crowd.

    It is not beyond belief that the home crowd is actually making effort to support better? Those that have been to the games can better speak for or against

  204. Oh no, sorry to hear that CBob.

  205. @Henristic

    A host of factors do indeed go into winning titles, but when it comes to winning a particular match, the behaviour of the fans in the stadium (whether home or away) is hugely important because it affects the players and their confidence, and hence their performance. If fans’ support at a match didn’t matter much, the players and the manager wouldn’t plead for it.

    The supporters of all teams are not the same. Any team which has vociferous and passionate support at home AND vociferous and passionate support away is better off than a team which has only the latter or only the former, so no, it does not balance itself out.

  206. Henristic, I’m glad that you can acknowledge that it does have an influence. Nowhere did I suggest that it has more of an influence than other factors, but equally it can’t be dismissed either. If you want to know what is different from last season, I think the players are becoming so desperate to win a trophy that it is inhibiting them. In fact, prior to the last 2/3 seasons, our young team played with a fearlessness that saw them regularly take points off most of the top teams. The balance is still not quite right yet, but that is what the team needs to rediscover. Personally, I think that can only be enhanced by genuine support and undermined by what passes for ‘support’ in some quarters.

  207. Passenal is absolutely right about the home support having an effect for good and for ill. I don’t know about the role of blogs and comments in the broader media landscape and how that affects players, but I am starting to believe that the mental block has something to do with the media refrain about the weaknesses of our teams and the notion that we are too young and inexperienced or small and tippy-tappy to win the big games. It is having some kind of an effect if we do believe that the talent is there in the squad. I would say that the leadership is also needed to break through those emotional. mental barriers that have been built up. The longer it goes the more it reinforces itself.

    something has to chance up the pattern. I don’t think the manager’s constant talking up of the team is working anymore but perhaps ringing hollow (hence the suggestions for hairdryers and the like to shake them out of complacency or self-satisfaction or whatever.) Perhaps the return of our leaders to form and fitness (Vermaelen, RvP), perhaps bringing in one or two players of experience and quality to help the development of younger players and improve the confidence (I remember Arshavin coming really gave us a lift that season). Frankly, we supporters do need to give stronger support at least in the games, but we need a lift too to raise our spirits–a big victory against Chelsea and then Man City? An Arshavin in the transfer window (a defensive version–a Subotic or Inler or something exciting)? Perhaps having a defensive coach to work with Wenger to design better defensive performance in the overall context of our style of play–a different voice for the lads?

    Something to break the cycle. At the start of the season it was Jack Wilshere’s play and then it was Nasri raising his game that provided some spark of excitement about this squad and gave an evident lift to the team and enthusiasm to supporters.

    Who knows?

    But, we are in great shape and are poised still for a great season. I don’t think coming second is anything to be ashamed of but it isn’t anything to be passionate about either; it isn’t something really to celebrate and it isn’t what this team should be built for. There is something missing in the performance or makeup or training of the team, that’s what we are wrestling with. But there is no doubt that it will be glorious to break through and achieve the highest levels with this team. Hopefully that catalyst will come soon and turn the talent into championships.

  208. A different perspective from me:

    1. At home, we had been more gung-ho this season, but however not reaping the rewards for such an attitude based on home v away results.

    2. Away, we had been less fearless rather than more fearful compared to home, again basing on home v away results. We had been rewarded against other teams plus Man City for this attitude, except for big games against Chelski and ManUre. I sensed that Wenger and Rice might have gone into the game against Man Utd with the away success formula in mind and were prepared tactically to be patient, play on the counter rather than going in with guns ablazing for a 3-point result.

    In retrospect, one could understand it. We were leading the table, and did not have our backs against the wall. Hence, a draw against Man Utd would have been sufficient. In my opinion, fear is not the reason for our inability to get results against the big teams. We probably paid too much respect to Man Utd on the day. A more adventurous approach may be forced on us when the finishing line is nearer and if we are still looking up the table rather than down from the summit. There is still alot to play for. We ain’t done yet.

  209. Without wishing to seem gung-ho about it, I remain confident, and the ‘new blood’ CBob needs is RvP, Vermaelen, Diaby and Fabregas himself, or as I said before any two of the above, but I also include Walcott in that mix. The season is alive, not dead, and we need not reach conclusions that are premature. We have 3 of the top four at home from here on.

    I agree totally with Fabregas, but I disagree that purchases will alter our fortunes for the better, but more likely for the worse.

  210. Somebody asked why I say any two of the four, plus Walcott, and I think it’s a daft question. These are what I call “match winners”, psychologically, people who can change the outcome with their play and/or attitude, and we need a couple more match winners on field to add to Nasri and Arshavin. If a consensus was taken on our top three players, 90% would list Fabregas, RvP and Vermaelen, in that order. I add Diaby and Walcott.

  211. Think Barcelona would be flying without Iniesta, Messi, Xabi and Villa? Oh, they would be good, like us you see, but getting beat from time to time.

  212. Barcelona are not unbeatable.

  213. Henristic @ 9:07,

    What leads you to hold this belief?

    I ask because it seems to fly in the face of the comments of professional footballers themselves (e.g. Frimpong’s recent comments on fan negativity) and received wisdom!

  214. From the Young Guns website: “Arsenal had their annual Christmas lunch at London Colney (on Friday), and following in tradition, the entertainment was provided by Steve Bould’s Under 18′s.

    The clubs Academy players put weeks of practice into action, as they gave their own rendition of the Christmas classics ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘The Twelve Days Of Christmas’ in front of the first-team, Reserves and coaching staff. The young Gunners were assisted by summer recruits Sébastien Squillaci and Marouane Chamakh, while captain Cesc Fàbregas also joined in.

    The tradition is a long standing one at Arsenal and goes back to when the likes of Ray Parlour were cutting their teeth at the club.”

  215. I agree with Passenal, FunGunner, Luke and ZimPaul.

  216. Of course footballers will say they’d like to have vocal support during games. What else are they supposed to say? Its one of those common cliches people trot out

    We don’t concede goals because of a lack of ‘atmosphere’. We don’t miss chances because of it either.

    Positive support is nice to have, but to overrate it and make it look like it influences results in games is wrong imo. It’s pointless too. Fans support is what it is. When the team plays well, it tends to be great. When a team is perceived to consistently under-perform, it tends to be not so great. The only people who can turn things around is the players and management. All the support in the world won’t made any real difference, especially over time.

    Arsenal has never had the kind of support Liverpool etc are famed for but that hasn’t stopped us in the past. And where is liverpool today, despite their wonderful atmosphere? Look at the teams that have been winning stuff? Are they known for having better support that teams that don’t?

  217. Henristic,
    Having a good atmosphere at the stadium gives the players 10% of extra energy\motivation.. And when we’re down, encouraging the players have always had a positive effect than groaning/moaning at every misplaced pass..

    A good atmosphere maynot have a huge effect on players aged above 25 but when we have a team with most of the aged below 25, it does play a huge effect. A young players confidence and motivation is very brittle. It doesn’t take much to break that. He performs lot better when He knows that the fans/supporters have faith in him and are behind him all the time..

  218. A big shout out to Henristic, Gunman and d only Naija gal (i assume) on this blog TeamSpirit..nice 2c my fellow Naija representing.
    Am holding it down here in Lagos

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