Does Arsène Need A Sacrificial Lamb To Shake The Squad?

A by-product of the season finishing in freefall is that Arsenal become an easy target for transfer stories. Major stars are going to be unhappy and there will be dressing room unrest. To be honest, I hope they are and I hope there is. It would be a sign that the players care about what has happened in the past month.

This morning’s star with a car waiting to zoom into the distance is Andrey Arshavin. Hardly a surprising choice having already been heavily linked in the media with a return to Zenit St Petersburg.

Perhaps there is some truth in this tattle, perhaps not. The inference of Wenger’s disappointment in the player is not hard to believe. Surely he feels that way about most of the squad? He has every right to after the climax to this season.

The first consideration is whether Arshavin is the right player. He was inconsistent during the season but then again so was Samir Nasri. The Russian battled through a desperate dip to regain his form to equalise against Everton at The Emirates following a two month goal drought.

The most decisive reason though to keep him is his assist total of 17, the highest at the club. With ten goals, this means he was involved in a quarter of the total that Arsenal scored. Add into that equation, fifty one appearances and the statistics seem to back his retention.

He is not the most industrious player but that is a criticism which can be levelled at Walcott and Nasri as well. Defensive duties are shirked but on the right, Bacary Sagna is more reliable as a defender in my mind than Gael Clichy. This is why Arshavin’s inability to track back is perceived.

And it is not necessarily true. The Russian is capable of putting in a lot of hard work and frankly I don’t care about his body language, that is no indicator of anything on a football pitch. It does create the perception though.

The real problem with everything relating to Arsenal at the moment is that the media are desperate to pander to the disaffected. They know that an anti-Arsenal story is going to garner hits or sales whilst striking a chord with the current mood. In those circumstances, the ‘bad’ news is portrayed as ‘good’, in this instance cutting loose deadwood.

But this story begs the question, does Arsène need to be ruthless with a ‘big name’ to shake complacency out of the squad as a whole?

Creating a sacrificial lamb is not a solution. It weakens the squad whilst appearing to be a decision that is expedient in the PR battle. Would the sale of a star player be in the longer term best interest of the squad?

That has several issues, firstly how does it improve the playing side of the squad? No matter which way you look at it, the initial move weakens the squad. Only if a better player is signed, of which there is no guarantee, does strengthening occur.

Secondly, how does it affect the dynamic? For all of the intention to paint it thus, there is no evidence that Arshavin is an unpopular member of the squad. His interviews on his own website do not suggest anything other than an awareness of the world around him. He merely puts out the views others espouse on the official club website. The Q&A’s though do tell us that he has some wonderfully weird fans.

The only benefit that I can actually see, is that any sense of complacency would be shaken brutally from the younger members of the squad. The thought must at that point cross their minds that if they don’t shape up, they will be shipped out ruthlessly.

But Wenger should be doing this anyway. A number of the younger players are not going to be first team regulars – or appear that way at this moment – so perhaps it is surely the case of finding them places where they can have a decent career. In that Arsenal have been successful in the past.

The current trend in the media though is of playing to the gallery. Scott Parker is hot favourite to join, Gary Cahill’s proposed transfer has developed into a ‘dream move’. If no-one else is bother, the media will make sure that an English spine is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. We’re reminded that an English spine is needed to win the Premier League, no team ever does so without it.

Except for The Invincibles of course who in Cole and Campbell had more of a left rib than a spine.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on May 18, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip. Bookmark the permalink. 182 Comments.

  1. I would be sorry to see Andrei leave. His form comes and goes but over the past six months he seems to have woken up to the notion that he has to work harder and tackle. Even when his touch is clearly out he is not a player who ever hides.

  2. Heres the knife – theres Denilson 😉

    There will be a few players outed i reckon. A certain amount of shakeup is needed

  3. In the last 6 seasons we will have finished 4th four times and 3rd twice.We cannot even consider ourselves a top 3 team

  4. Don’t include me in your ‘we’, Martin.

  5. Why should Ashavin go and the likes of Denilson Diaby and Eboue stay?These players have been around the club for years they havent established themselves in the first team.What is the point in keeping them

  6. Frank
    Get real.If Arsenal finish out of the top 4 for 4 out of 6 seasons tell me how they can be classed as a top 3 team.Top 4 yes!!!

  7. As I said don’t include me in your ‘we’. I think of Arsenal as the best club in the EPL and I fully expect them to win the EPL next season. Top one in my opinion. I don’t give a fuck where you place the club or how you work it out.

  8. LimparAssist

    Wow. Glowing praise for Kyle Bartley on the website. Did some D**Ming up there too apparently. Proven winner with a medal to prove the winningness of his winning mentality too.

  9. The problem for Arshavin is that he is forced to play in a position that he has never played before in his career.

    We have 3 or 4 players whose natural position doesn’t exist in our system. Arshavin, RvP, Nasri and perhaps Fabregas are all best suited to a ‘Bergkamp’ role, which we don’t play.

    Too many square pegs in round holes. It can work for a while, but it doesn’t seem to last a whole season. The players just aren’t as flexible as Wenger had hoped.

    The squad is full of talent, but woefully imbalanced.

  10. Frank
    I dont work nothing out.The league table does.In 98,02 and 04 we were the best.The league table says we are the 4th best. Dont blame me for that blame Wenger

  11. In all fairness to Bartley, come back in 7 to 9 years, thats the experience we need at the back, not a 19 year old

    As for AA23 leaving – hes the talent we need to keep not the likes of Rosicky/Denilson who have offered a sum total of fuck all to this season

  12. I could certainly not doubt Bartley’s passion in the Old Firm and Euro games I saw him play in a Rangers shirt. Whether that studs up style would fit easily into the PL or into the Arsenal set up I don’t know but I look forward to finding out.

  13. Nice post YW.

    Arshavin really is an enigma. He really does seem very lazy at times, and can be very frustrating to watch. His stats hold up well though in terms of assists and goals. A friend told me the other day that we have not won a game he has started this season?

  14. Martin, I don’t work nuffin out iver!

  15. Wilshere has a pretty important role in the team doesn’t he, Dizzy? He’s 19. Cannavaro? Maldini? If you’re good enough, you’re old enough. You have to be pretty organised on set-pieces in the SPL I would suggest – if that’s what you’re worried about. Amazing how people are so quick to kick the young uns to touch and demand experience – especially considering everybody’s least favourite centreback is one of our most experienced players – outperformed and kept out the team by the young and the brave Djourou and Koscielny this year. Nowt wrong with a good 19 year old centreback.

  16. Interesting post YW.
    I think we’ve already experienced a season of unrest ‘off the pitch’ or ‘in the locker room’ by some of our major stars. Cesc! Then, I think you can add Nasri.

    re: Arshavin
    YW (or anyone) how would you rate his 09/10 season?

    It is obvious that he has great skill, when motivated. It was only when Arsene pulled him out of the starting line up (Nasri on the left – Theo on the right) that motivated him to play some defense.

    He is having a great season for assists, but it only masks his poor combination play (gave the ball away) that disrupted our attack in so many matches – all season. He is “no” linking player down either flank.

    If club and fans want to win silverware, then we cannot afford any field players who choose when to apply defensive pressure. Theo, Arshavin, Nasri – all fall into this category of self-entitled attackers.

    We had our best eleven for most of March April and May – look at the point totals.

    The game is all about time and space. You allow your opponent time and space and he then can hurt you with decision making……even clubs like West Brom, Sunderland, Stoke, Villa, Bolton, Birmingham, Wigan, Blackburn.

  17. Interesting thought but for me the biggest problem is an imbalance in the team and squad. I know everyones focus is on the defence and I agree it needs some looking at but probably only to the tune of 1 defender. I think equally culpable is a lack of organisation that should be vastly improved by a proper defensive coach drilling them. Also look how we managed to keep Utd and particularly Rooney quiet at the Emirates. For me that was down to song holding his defensive midfield position in front of the back 4 and cleaning up. Good defensive teams start their defending in midfield. We twice this year had 2 goal leads on Spurs and Song starts to fancy himself as Messi and joins in the attacks exposing our back 4 to counter-attacks pouring through our midfield.

    By far (for me) the biggest imbalance AW has created is up front in the front 3. I would even go as far to say that as we are an attacking /possession team that if we sorted only that out and didn’t even touch the defence we would have been in for a shout at the title. I still think we should address the defence as well, but have Barca got the greatest defence? Who knows as they are so good in attack that you rarely get a chance to find out. Games we have lost from defensive errors are often after a period of attacking dominance but with no goals or goal threat. That invites confidence into the other team that we are not threatening them and that they can go up our end and try and have a go while at the same time making our players nervous as they are aware they should be well in front by then. The great teams get their 1-2 goals when they are dominating and can then dictate the game from there.

    RVP is world class and has lead the line well and has great scoring stats but for me he is still a number 10. I compare him to Rooney last year who scored a lot but Utd as a team still look better with him in a deeper role behind Fernandez. AW has created an imbalance because he likes to collect the same type of player, that player being the technical attacking player who could be considered any of the following ; attacking central or wide midfielder, wing forward or number 10. For me RVP is one of these players (and one of the best in world football). Add to that the following players who fit that type of player ; Arshavin, Walcott, Nasri, Vela and Rosicky. Then add Emanuel Thomas and the 2 lads bought more recently Myachi and Wellington. He is even considering Oxlade Chamberlain, Willian and Hazard. They are all the same type of player plus or minus some different attributes and I don’t understand his facination with collecting so many of these types of players over balancing it out with a couple of proper finishers.

    The big question is who is our world class striker. I am talking about that player who prefers to sit on the last defender rather than drop deep too often. That player who has a little burst of pace to surge past the defenders onto a through ball. That player that will always be trying to get on the end of things in the box and will never be caught 8m away while a dangerous ball flies across the box with no-one near it. That player more than anything who is a proven finisher in the box that in a good attacking side will get you 25 EPL goals. The answer is we don’t have one but have some good attacking players who prefer to play around the edge of the box which is why we pass it around in that area for too long.

    That brings back the question of Arshavin. I am not saying he should make way but as we have so many of these similar players causing an imbalance, for me, some have to be replaced by 1 or 2 proper lethal strikers. Who should make way is another matter.

  18. Limpar – I agree if you are old enough you are good enough. Having to much youth in the side (all at once) could be a problem though.

  19. If there is any truth in the report about selling Arshavin to free up funds, it means we aren’t planning to sell Cesc this season.

  20. As many as six decent young players could come back and bolster the squad this summer. I know people might be tired of hearing about promise and potential, but a few of these guys have proved themselves at a high level. Just because Vela and Bendtner haven’t quite worked out (yet), it doesn’t mean the others don’t deserve a chance. We’re not talking about first team positions at the moment; rather an opportunity at some point down the line in a cup, or when injuries inevitably strike.

  21. And what the hell – they should also get a chance if established first-teamers start phoning in performances again next season.

  22. Chelsea and Man City fans can demand that their teams challenge Utd for the title: they all possess financial muscle…Arsenal fans have NO RIGHT to demand this- we can hope or expect – we cannot compete with their resources.

    With the way people are asking for Wenger’s head one would think Mourinho was waiting at the door – the foolishess never ceases to amaze me.
    We were dominant partly because Utd were the only significant financial power, the landscape has changed as must our expectations.

    By the way Liverpool raised ticket prices by 6.5% for next year and despite winning nada for years I don’t see a black-scarf protest.

  23. “Defensive duties are shirked but on the right, Bacary Sagna is more reliable as a defender in my mind than Gael Clichy. This is why Arshavin’s inability to track back is perceived.”

    Bingo. I got nothin’ but love for Arshavin. The way he went jumping into tackles in that United match was awesome. 10 goals and 17 assists speaks for itself. We should definitely fight to keep him around.

    In my darkest hours I sometimes think a sacrifice is what is needed, but there is not really anyone who stands out. I think promoting youngsters like Jack to the first team should be enough of a kick up the arse for the likes of Diaby, who I still think is our first choice in that CM position when fully fit, and Denilson to up their game.

  24. liverpool arent the most expensive team to watch in world football. dumb argument.

  25. Would love to read this blog some day without reading Eden Hazard’s name. Seriously, the guy has 12 goals and 8 assists this year from 50 appearances in the french league. Decent but no more than that. But a fellow Gooner I know tried to convince me that we need to ship Arshavin and get Hazard in. Then in the next breath tried to tell me we didn’t have enough experienced players. Insightful.

  26. Get rid of the lazy fat Russian and take Bendtner & Eboue with him

  27. In the comments I mean.

  28. Ryan | May 18, 2011 at 10:48 am |

    “liverpool arent the most expensive team to watch in world football. dumb argument.”

    That’s because they invest in their team and don’t charge the dearest season tickets in the world, dumb statement, typical scouser!

  29. To the pointing the finger column:
    blaming the ref’s
    Assistant coach needs replacing
    lets add
    “players are playing out of position”

    This is a team sport. Our players have the freedom to interchange at any time in a match and do so. In the final third of the pitch we underperformed all year……..ditto for the past 3 seasons.


  30. Nice one Frank – saw that double-negativing negative off nicely..
    Witty one on Arseblog today on the same theme.
    Well reasoned argument for AA to stay, and personally hope he does, atleast for another year when he may become just too slow. Didn’t know he’d had so many assists – went right under the radar. And what exactly has Eboue done wrong this season ? He was jeered and abused, then when he came back he was made a bit of a cult hero, and now those same people want to cut him down again. So very predictable.

  31. It’s the attitude that rings throughout the club now. Players don’t care, Arsene doesn’t care and Arsenal also doesn’t care. Look, has even put up a list of opponents that we would face in the Champions League. Our season is already over because we thought that it’s over after the Carling Cup final. We’re so freakin’ lucky that Spurs and Liverpool aren’t mathematically close to us, otherwise I’m sure we’d have finished 6th. Nobody cares, they’ve got another fixture to get their 6% from. Players get paid, stick to Arsenal with mediocre performances or use the club as a stepping stone to a bigger club. It’s all Arsenal’s doing. I do not believe the words coming out of my mouth, but I really think Arsene needs to go. He may argue that we’ve been close every season since 2008, but it’s easy to spot the patterns that we always lack motivation towards the business end of the season. Set-pieces were a problem since 2008, no correction. Our defense temporarily was fantastic during our 2006 Champions League run when Keown had shared coaching duties, but we didn’t see the sense to hire him. We need players like Szczesny, who had the fortitude to look to the next game after the Carling Cup final; are the rest all wusses to mope after that defeat? I doubt that players like van Persie who had signed on because they were given the assurance that the club had ambition, would stay this summer. February to May is a long time; clearly there hasn’t been anything done to forget the Carling Cup final, or improve on the performances. We just need one defeat to go down a spiral while a champion team like Man United need only a win to go on a seemingly never-ending run. Arsene is the big name to be sacrificed. The club comes before everyone else.

  32. Our defence was very good during the Champions League run in 2006 Ganesh – absolutely right – Big Phil a tower of strength – willing to put his head in among the boots every time – and always felt bad that he was dropped for the final.
    But not as bad as I felt with Phil another target of the boo boys.

  33. Everyone must have heard this before, but why must we pay more to see lesser effort?

  34. Haha – further proof that we just can’t win with some people. If the site were to post an article with an interview with one of our players insisting third is still possible, it would draw howls of derision from a portion of our fans.

    Instead they consider the consequences of a fourth place finish, and it’s an indication that nobody at the club cares.

  35. Is our season over? Why is fourth place considered our final position? I’m not saying anything, are. They’re the ones who seem to have resigned to that fate even when the most cynical fans seem to think at one point that there’s no way we’ll finish first.

  36. Err.. sorry someone had exactly posted what I had in mind when I was typing and my poor net connection was exposed. Thanks OneOfUs and sorry for the redundancy.

  37. Borges Spinelli

    A stellar post, Yogi.

    Morning, troopers!

    There’s a youtube clip of Kyle Bartley, whom I’ve mostly considered to be a Center Back and Right Back also playing in the Left Back position for Rangers. During a Europa League fixture, I believe.

  38. Keep Arshavin. One of our more deadly players in a team that is really struggling goals. He has the attacking instinct and ruthlessness that many of our players need to develop. Yes he is sloppy at times, but he has not been the only player guilty of being caught out in possession. Our general game-play for the 2nd half of the season was woeful – slow, sideways and no drive. What makes it worse is when we did drive forward we were careless and ended up getting caught out. Leading to a cheap freekick, corner and conceding a goal.

    Theres a few players I can think of who could be shown the door if better players are on the radar. I don’t see Arshavin as one of them. He will have a whole host of teams lined up to take him because of his quality.

  39. The issue is not whether Arshavin is lazy or mercurial or even playing out of position (which is not an issue at all, at this level, at Arsenal); only one thing counts, has he done the job anticipated? The answer is no, on both counts: he has not provided sufficient threat, on the left, which our balance demands (so one midfielder, usually Cesc, can play higher) and he has not been the 30-year old model player of world stature that the younger guys needed in critical matches. The only question then is can he do this (both) in future? Eboue, in contrast, has done exactly the job anticipated, he has provided an excellent utility replacement for Sagna, as and when needed.

    I don’t see Theo as especially poor on defensive work, needs improvement no doubt, but he’s fast and that alone has helped.

  40. Borges Spinelli

    Are those calling for Eboué’s departure, aware, that, should such occurrence unfold, it would also hasten Nasri’s decision, to draw curtains on his career at our club? Think about it!!!

  41. Ah, thanks ZP – I’m glad you said that. When it comes to AA, I’m going to try to keep schtum until we know where his future lies.

  42. Arshavin is most likely to be sold (over Nasri or Fabregas for example if the club has its way) because he would command a relatively large fee for a 30 year old player. Nasri is much younger and can play in the same position, so I would expect Arshavin to be the one to go of the regular attcaking midfielders unless Nasri or Fabregas can force through a move. I would also expect Rosicky to be let go, especially with Ramsey back in the fold. Bendtner could force a move also and I wouldn’t blame him as he’s consistently played out of position.

    I wouldn’t want to lose more than that (say Arshavin, Rosicky and Bendtner) as we would obviously have to find replacements and it would be very disruptive if any more that were replaced.

  43. Borges Spinelli

    @ZimPaul I’m in total agreement with what you’ve opined.

  44. I don’t see Eboue being sold unless we bring in another full back. He is a fine back up right back.

    I think the following will be leave the club:


    If we persist with 433 Vela may as well leave as well.

    Clichy/Nasri/Cesc all have question marks over their future, and I hope none leave. Especially Nasri and Cesc who are instrumental to the future of this side.

  45. george rodger

    Arshavin must stay and be used more sparingly.
    Have you noticed that some posters offer support for the team,give their opinion on team selection and discuss how they think thing could improve.I enjoy reading these posts,even if they are somewhat critical.
    Others come on and tell the world how piss poor we are and give us the absolute directions on what is required to fix all of our problems.
    Ganesh,which category do you think you fall into?You offer nothing but negatives.Fuck off.

  46. I am of the opinion that Arshavin may desire a move anyway, and that may have affected his general level. Some players do not ‘travel’ well, and Arsh may be one of those. There is a weird asymmetry between right and left play which cannot easily be formulated, but no doubt successful attacking formations have effective left-sided play, as did Arsenal over years and memorable players, including Thierry inevitably drifting left. Our right sided play seems to have largely done its job, Nasri especially effective early in, RvP (as a left-footer) often using that space, although the Sagna/Theo combination less so, Theo not yet capable of going inside-out good defenders, but he’ll get there with the glimpses we’ve seen, and Eboue not as adventurous as he might have been. On the left however, we have more frequently been slow, sloppy and uncreative. This is where Chelsea’s balance works well, it is often their way in, and when Giggs is playing ManU quite excellent. Previously of course we have been spoilt, with many of Lundberg’s darting runs on the left, Pires masterfully ‘working’ the left line, and even young Reyes showing some fantastic threat. AW seems to have tried a few possibilities, Chamakh and sometimes Bendtner, Nasri and of course Arshavin, but nothing really looking too beautiful, too often. This is why I have a feeling we are looking to replenish our left option (noting that one or two young Guns look OK there) with a clever and fast player, as well add an excellent defender, a la Vermaelen or Kos. I see little that wrong, overall with the midfield as is, Diaby, Denilson and Rosicky adding useful options (if they stay) as long as Ramsey is in there as a first choice, and Frimpong hopefully recovered or Eastmond making the grade.

    Both Chamakh and Bendtner have had on-off seasons, and both are far, far better than they have seemed overall. Bendtner may desire a move, but I doubt it, not just yet.

  47. Fuck it!

    30 years old – huge international experience, major prizes under his belt. The sixth-best player in the world in 2008. A senior player in a team that desperately needed some direction; an old hand to show the younger players the way. And he’s there bumbling around like my dad after Xmas dinner. Seriously, his figures for the season are so misleading. The amount of times he surrendered possession with telegraphed passes and predictable dragbacks, only to stand there and watch (occasionally mustering a trot) as the other side strolled past him was enough to nearly any contribution he’s made. We’re a side that prizes possession, but he looked completely determined at times just to throw it away – not through ambitious low percentage balls, but run-of-the-mill (for the standard) passes and dribbles.

    I’m breaking the habit of a lifetime by slamming this guy. We paid big money for him, he’s remarkably gifted and he’s meant to be in a position of responsibility as a guy who’s won leagues and cups and has an international profile. Instead we got this disinterested layabout with a burgeoning gut, offering all the intensity of a lobotomized koala on valium.

    Still, I know why we’ve stuck with him – because when he’s bothered he can muster something special every now and again. This season it’s been more fleeting than ever though, and I hope beyond hope that he either gets his act together or takes his nonchalance some place else.

    OK, I’ll never bring this up again.

    This is what he can do when he gives a shit, playing inside-left with the same licence to roam he has at Arsenal.

  48. You don’t have to pay more if u don’t want to Ganesh. The Market decides the price. If the general Market is ok with paying more then we do. The ticket price has nothing to do with the performance. As long as pol are willing to pay why should the club lower the price ? This is pure buisness, not charity. So if you think the quality don’t match the product go buy something els. Like an Audi instead of a mercedes.

  49. Andrey is a potential game changer, and his stats speak for themselves.

    I agree with YW, his body language is of zero consequence, as long as he delivers, then I have no problem with that.

    He may misplace passes, but he has the eye for a killer pass, which is more risky, and has more chance of being cut out than a safe sideways ball.

    I for one would be disappointed to see him sold.

  50. One other thing to note is that this season has coincided with the now more usual 4-3-3 to 4-5-1 approach and I am not fully convinced, partly because EPL defending is much better positionally – and the reason, I suggest, that English teams have done rather well on the whole in the CL. It’s a bit like watching basketball sometimes with 9 players lined up in formation. I wouldn’t be surprised if AW revisited this and asked himself whether this is a tactical disadvantage in England. In a 4-4-1-1 approach I see someone new, Wilshere/Ramsey, Song and Nasri (left to right) with Cesc or Theo or Chamakh and RvP ahead, and I see more options. Well, just speculating. I’m hardly a decision-maker or expert, except of the armchair variety.
    Arsenal detractors can all go to hell, and take their vicious little tittle-tattle with them.

  51. I like AA and really hope we keep him. It is not his body language which frustrates people though. It is when he loses the ball, and then stands and watches as the team break away. I like him, but really don’t know what to make of him. He is like a Russian Le Tiss.

  52. And will anyone who says we have the most expensive ticket in world football please fuck off – I have disproved this many times, on here, and on other sites.

  53. I think we have looked good when we play 4-5-1, with Chamakh up top and RVP just behind, I love to see the dutchman play there.

    A 4-4-1-1 formation would really work for us, and would get the very best out of Robin.

    Would it accomodate Fabregas? Well why not – he has played in a 4-4-2 for us before with Flamini backing him up, maybe Jack and Cesc could manage in the middle on there own?

    With Nasri and 1 of Arshavin and Walcott either side?

    Not sure if this would make us more of less solid though!

  54. OK, last issue. When you see RvP dropping back, as he has increasingly of late, and later running back to striker role, it tells you he has gone to get the bloody ball, make a move or two with it, which he invariably does, and get it up there, faster and cleaner, without all the fusspot stuff. Therefore, it tells you the midfield is not seeing the passes and opportunities that exist, or needs the extra presence. I suggest the latter, which suggests a 4 man midfield, with two bodies upfront keeping the defence back-healed.

  55. Borges Spinelli

    A humorous post by OOU at 1:24pm. Couldn’t have phrased it any better, myself.

    My favorite part:

    “We paid big money for him, he’s remarkably gifted and he’s meant to be in a position of responsibility as a guy who’s won leagues and cups and has an international profile. Instead we got this disinterested layabout with a burgeoning gut, offering all the intensity of a lobotomized koala on valium.”

    *CLASSIC put-down*

  56. OK, absolutely the last. Surely our goal attempts to scores ratio is the worst in the EPL, and very few long-range goals. There are all sorts of ways of looking at games like Villa and some pretty poor defence, but one of them is that we might have rather won 3-2, along with a host of others. RvP almost single handedly aside, (although earlier perhaps Chamakh and Theo) shooting for goal has not been a hallmark of this season. I wonder why? Is there a simple remedy?

  57. I have to side with Yogi, with regards to Arshavin. He has contributed to around 30 goals this season, and some are claiming he doesn’t carry sufficient threat on the left flank? Seriously? He is 30 years old, and the player with the most appearances this season for us. Screw his body language crap, he’s been a class act for us. And perhaps his dip in form at the end of the season, has more to do with exhaustion than anything else. And I also agree with Yogi, that it’s more to do with Clichy being less reliable than Sagna that we feel Arshavin doesn’t do enough defensively. To me Arshavin does more than Theo defensively on the flanks.

    Interesting debate yesterday with regards to referees. Yes they screwed us over a few times, but like Yogi said, neither does conceding 4 goals in a single match can be justifies, nor the run of games that followed. We have to blame the players, for that pathetic end of season form.

  58. Wenger should try playing him in his proper position now and again too. We see what Nasri was doing when he got in before the ham went.

    Just want Wenger to start a new policy but, please get rid of the dead wood shit we got that wouldn’t get into any of our rivals first eleven.
    Denilson, Bendtner, Rosickly, Almunia.

    If the season starts with the above still on the books then things will remain just as they are and we best get use to it.

  59. Agree with Ateeb and YW on Arshavin.

    Although I do think a 4-4-1-1 would make us more solid from wide positions.

  60. Agree with Ateeb, YW and Matt on Arshavin.

    Although I think he could be used sparingly. He is not the most energetic player who can play 2 games per week regularly. He probably needs a breather more often than others.

  61. I think a problem on the left wing is that the the winger there (Nasri/Arshavin) is a nominal winger who cuts inside more often than not and plays towards the centre for a major part. This makes it harder for them to track classic wingers and wingbacks who are glued to the sideline while attacking.

  62. Borges Spinelli

    Perhaps the best scenario one can hope for, is, for Clichy (whom I have absolute regard for) to leave in search of fresh challenge – and replace him with a utility player of the caliber of Sakho or Vertonghen or Michel Bastos (possesses badly needed experience + indisputable ability gained from playing in 3 different leagues) – the former, we all know, are both equally adept on the flank, as well as in the heart of defense. Vertonghen plays mostly as a DM for Belgium. I can recall watching a couple of international games where he was exceptional at Left Back position – most notably against Austria in March.

    To put things into perspective. Clichy cost a paltry sum of £250k ($407,500), from Monaco, in 2003 – has been an exemplary professional, who has given so much in 8 yrs at the club. A crucial part of the Invincibles. His value to Arsenal has been far greater, than what is currently attributed to him.

  63. Interesting post Yogi:

    Not sure about Arshavin. If we can get a good transfer fee for him and we actually use the money to replace him then fine.

    Ultimately some significant changes have to be made to this side. Every player we have has some qualities that we can fixate on and use that as a reason that we should keep them. In the end we can talk ourselves into keeping everyone. Unfortunately that can’t work this time.

    This core group of players has collapsed at the end of the season 4 years on the trot. This season has been by far the worst both from the results and most concerning from the level of effort and energy that the squad has produced. In theory this squad should have more motivation then any team in the world, but theory has not held up in our case. We all have our favorite players and become emotionally attached but something has to be done to shake up the squad. 4 years in a row is an adequate sample to prove that the summer vacation does not erase memory of what has happened before and we can not expect this squad to come back next year with a totally different attitude and energy and expect that they will somehow suddenly become consistent. The best way to quiet the little voices of negativity and complacency between the players ears is to make some real changes to the way we do things in terms of bringing in new players and changing the way we train and some of our tactics etc etc. Give them something to focus on as a positive change as they have not shown the ability to work thru the mental funks by themselves.

    I posted my ideas yesterday at 2:29 about summer squad changes . I think we keep our starting 11 although I would not be against 1 or even 2 sacrificial lamb from this group. The only players in the non starting 11 that I would definitely keep are Chamakh, Ramsey and Fabianski. There are none of our B squad that are even close to being non-replacable.

  64. In my opinion we should retain all three of Arshavin, Nasri and Walcott and invest in another wide man who is a traditional sideline hugging winger. A bit of variety could be useful for this squad.

  65. I think the majority would hope that the squad will be strengthened over the summer, but selling Arshavin to replace him doesn’t make sense to me, when his contribution to the side is there in black and white.

    Surely there are other more important area’s to strengthen.

    Andrey is just one of those players that may have limited impact on the game for 85 minutes, but can create or score in an instant.

    If we were going to replace him, I would lean towards Ashley Young personally, the right age, an Arsenal supporter and used to the prem.

    I am sure I will get shot down for that – as he is English and not exotic enough for some who crave the likes of Hazard etc.

  66. But Ashley Young is going to be bloody expensive with probably Liverpool and Spurs fighting for his signature.

  67. I thought he only had a year left on his contract?

    And surely we can compete with ‘pool and Spurs in the market – and if he is ambitious he may want to play for his boyhood club in the Champions league.

    I agree that we can’t compete with City, Chelsea and Utd. in the market, but Pool and Spurs dont have any more money than us!

  68. I will again propose the name of Jonas Gutierrez. He is combatave, helps out in defence, can beat a man, and has a good cross on him. He can also score a few.

  69. Matt:

    I think Ashley Young is an excellent idea as a winger who could fit in the squad.

  70. but Pool and Spurs dont have any more money than us!

    I know, it defies logic, but they keep on spending every season. In any case if Wenger really has the rumoured 30 million to take care of transfer + wages I think Ashley Young could be out of question because he will himself take up a lion’s share of that amount.

  71. Borges Spinelli

    A point worth considering, is a glaring lack of naturally left-footed player, operating in an advanced lateral position at the club. Nasri for all his ball trickery & finesse is least effective on the left. Majority of goals scored in the 1st half of the season, by him were from the Right Forward and Central Attacking Midfield positions.

  72. advanced lateral position

    I liked that.

  73. I agree completely with the what some have said about the squad lacking balance. For the 2 years I have been on the blog we have always worried that every player on the pitch needs to be an expert passer when can seemlessly integrate into Wengerball. We even avoid defense first central defenders because they “can only hoof the ball to row Z”. The idea the one defense first central defender who is not the worlds greatest passer would ruin our whole attacking scheme is absolutely ludicrous. If its true then we need to change tactics. We have plenty of technical quality and putting a player or 2 in our lineup who might add something different can only be a good thing.

    I think this season has really exposed this version of Wengerball. We all knew how difficult it has been to defend with this system, that in itself is enough to doom it to 3rd or 4th place. Now we can’t even score consistently even with our best players. Its time for some real changes in our system.

  74. On another note – maybe harsh to judge on 1 game, but wasn’t at all impressed with Emmanuel Thomas last night.

    He looks, and has always looked so lazy! A youngster who appears to have everything but a good attitude, and seems to think he doesn’t have to work hard.

    If the boy had a decent work rate, he could be an awesome central midfield player, but it seems he believes his own hype.

  75. Had to reply to JJ from yesterday.

    cos its relevant to what i was saying..the ref was a cock in that game yet if bendtner bangs that one in we still go through..
    doesnt matter if i beleived something at the time or not the fact remains thats what happened..”

    Yes it does matter because you are saying that it should never matter in any instance but yet you didnt believe we could do it. You bring up the Barca situation to satisfy your belief when you had no faith in the first place. Playing both sides of the field.

    And yes it can happen but it is nonsense to believe that it should be the norm regardless of the situation.

  76. LimparAssist

    As the team warms up pre-match at Bolton, Andrey spent 98% of his time stood with his foot on a ball, arms crossed, between halfway and the penalty box while his teammates passed furious practice triangles, shuttle runs, crossing practice, the works. Andrey didn’t have eyes for any of that and instead watched the opposition goalkeepers practice their booming goalkicks down the touchline – occasionally giggling to himself. Meanwhile his teammates started shooting practice. The fun part. Wilshere, Ramsey, Chamakh and a handful of others blaze shots high, wide and handsome. Noone hits the target. The away support shift uncomfortably in the stands, ‘this doesn’t look too hot’. Andrey clocks that it’s shooting time, takes half a step off the ball he’s been resting on and smashes it dead straight into the top corner from 30 yards. Unstoppable. No backlift.

    More often than not at the end of this season I’ve found him completely infuriating to watch. I am fast running out of patience and wouldn’t be sad to see him make way for someone with talent and some physical attribute (speed, size, stamina – anything!).

    But at the same time the ‘moment of magic’ is a bewitching thing and I would love to see more of them. Part of me finds his levity on the pitch and his honesty in interviews really refreshing, part of me wants to throttle him for it. I thought I had him pegged but I don’t think I do.

    Agree with OOU that he certainly can’t be trusted to lead us anywhere. A good example of how ‘experience’ doesn’t always mean maturity. He is a frivolous man-child (I love him for that!). Great fun, but not to be relied upon.

    I like to think there’s always room for a luxury passenger like Arshavin – even in this league – just as long as he delivers. Lately he turns many, many more of our moves to shit than to gold. That has to change. One more season to prove himself for me. Probably from the bench.

  77. Again, maybe contoversially, as I know some do not rate him, But every time I have seen Cahill play, he has demonstrated the ability to get stuck in, hoof the ball into row Z when required, but can also actually play a bit.

    Am I starting to sound all Football Manager-ish now?

    I will have to come up with a wish list next!

  78. LimparAssist

    Sorry, that’s really long. Arshavin’s a complex nut to crack though…

  79. Matt. I have watched JET a few time playing for Cardiff. He has been played wide left for a couple of games (not really his best position) but does seem to be a little lazy.

  80. Borges Spinelli

    I’m usually not a fan of english players, though I have to concede that someone like Ashley Young and Bent would improve vastly improve our firepower in offense.

  81. Long but pretty accurate LA…

  82. A little reminiscent of your name sake too LA!!

  83. JET may have some interesting skills but I think we have to avoid any player that has concerns about his workrate, energy and where his head is at. Perhaps overly harsh on him but there certainly have been questions about that in the past. His loan experience has not demonstrated any evidence to suggest that he will be an real impact player.

    We need to move a large portion of our players on loan and in the reserves. Some are decent players but very few have any real chance of making an impact in the first team. Watt, Sunu, Randall, Eastmond, Hoyte, Traore, etc etc etc etc etc etc etc. Their over-priced wages are a drain of our resources and their own careers are stagnating.

  84. From what I’ve read, the main arguments for letting Arshavin go are:

    1. He doesn’t do enough defensively
    2. Selling him might make a point to the others to buckle up or risk being shipped out too
    3. He is over 30 and has failed in helping the team foster a winning mentality that should come with his age and experience
    3. His wages are in the top bracket and we would be making savings by selling him.

    In my opinion, these reasons are no where near strong enough an argument for letting such a gifted player go.

    He is not the only one who makes lazy passes. Not the only one who gives possession away cheaply. Not the only one who fails to track back. On the other hand, his goals/assist stats are up there among the best in the PL in just about every season since he joined.
    Based purely on merit, there simply isn’t enough justification to let him go.

    Regarding his lack of winning mentality; In my opinion, the mental fragility that this squad exhibits should be blamed on the team management, rather than individual players. It is Arsene’s job to inspire/motivate the team to play consistently up to its potential.

    Arshavin never looked like a natural leader to me. He is very much like Eboue in temperament imo, a court jester kind of person. He might turn a game based on a moment of pure skill, but equally unlikely to do so based on a sheer force of will, or strength of character. No surprise that he only tends to do well when the whole team is doing well. I should add that this team is full of players like that as this season has proven (again not so much the fault of the players themselves as it is the management).
    The only exception is RvP, who has both the skill and character to change a game. Sagna is a rock, but doesn’t have the offensive skill to change a game. Cesc is a bit of an enigma at this point to be honest. One never knows how the Barca/Arsene conflict is working out in his head, but there is no doubting his ability.

    Back to Arshavin on the last point of wage cost; I’m pretty we could make more funds available for the first team by trimming some of the young players on our books. Besides, I’m reasonably certain that the cost of replacing his goals and assists with a suitable talented player will be higher than the cost of keeping him. Not to mention the fact that there is a real risk that whoever we get might take longer than expected to adjust to the league/team.

  85. LimparAssist

    True, Matt. Dropped by Graham for more workrate in midfield. Silly bastard. I think Limpar was a far better player than AA actually. Arshavin’s a natural, but Limpar was even more of a natural.

    But then I would say that..

  86. Borges:

    A goal poacher like Bent would be great but where would he play in our system. He does not strike me as a great passer and does not look like the sort of player who would fit well into Wengerball. Thats another reason why I would like to see us change tactics to allow us to use someone with his skills.

    I know it retrospective but Van Der Vardt would have been a great addition last year for $8M. He would have taken playing time away from Jack and could have played in the Cesc spot when Cesc was out. I think Jack would have been better served with a little less pressure and more time to mature and we could have used 12 – 15 goals from his position especially in the last couple months.

  87. LimparAssist

    You’ve missed all the main reasons, Henrisitc.

  88. Borges Spinelli

    “vastly improve” is a bit much.

    I don’t think Bent would look that great if he was put next to Van Persie. 2 different classes of players. Bent would provide a different style of striker, but that is one I don’t think we need. We had one of the most prolific strikers in Eduardo, had we been able to utilize him in our formation he wouldn’t have left. Forget his injury, he would have got back up and running if we gave him some time.

    Then there’s Chamakh, a great aerial force and one we havn’t tried with Van persie behind him in the hole. His finishing isn’t amazingly prolific, but he can hit the net when hes got confidence and has the ability to be the link-up striker and set others up for goal scoring chances. Another option is Theo, fastest player in the premiership and has always proved to be a handful up front when turning and played through hes unstoppable. Why not try him with Van Persie behind? I am utterly shocked why we have never tried mixing it up. We have 2 options there which we havn’t used at all, thats what disappoints me about this season the most. It has been very 1 dimensional in attack for the 2nd part of the season.

    I do not doubt we need a few players to freshen it up and get some much needed confidence and life in the squad. My major concern has been how we havn’t got anything out of such a fine bunch of players. Be it mentally or tactically.. it hasn’t been good enough this season.

  89. Henristic:

    A reasonable and logical case can be made for keeping anyone in the squad. I am +/- on keeping Arshavin but the danger is that we start over analyzing every player and decide we need to keep them all.

  90. LimparAssist

    Speaking of players going missing for large parts of the season… I would gladly take Arshavin over Van Der Vaart. What a fucking fairy he is.

  91. It’s bizarro world on here today! The people I expected to stick the boot in have defended AA and vice versa.

  92. Bill, there were doubts over van der vaarts’s transfer costs from RM. Spurs said he cost £8 million (not $) and Madrid said £18 million

  93. My biggest issue with Arshavin is that when we’re passing and dribbling outside the box with the defense implementing its two walls of 4 defenders, a strategy which it seems every opponent of ours has adopted, he more often than not seems to remain relatively stationary rather than try to put himself in a better position and force the defenders to leave their entrenched positions.

    He’s a brilliant talent, but we need more of a pure winger and one that can perhaps fight his way physically around a defender occasionally. It doesn’t He’s too small for that. It doesn’t help Arshavin’s case that some of our most brilliant players also prefer to play centrally at the club (Cesc, Nasri, etc). Most importantly, consistency and mentality seem to be big issues at the club. If he goes this offseason, I think it means that Arsene will have deemed AA to not be consistent enough and not possessing of that win at all costs mentality that a veteran like van Persie displays. Maybe Arshavin gets targeted unfairly but it comes with being one of the largest transfer buys under Wenger’s term and it comes at a time where some supporters, myself included, see the club as needing to re-allocate 1st team spots from smallish midfielders to bigger, sturdier, defensive-minded and more consistent players.

  94. Limpar:

    I thought he was one of the few Spurs that has not gone missing. Their defense and Gomes have killed them. VDV had 13 goals and 8 assists in 28 games which is pretty good return for a mid fielder.

  95. I just saw on Le-Grove that the club has submitted planning application for a 25 storey building.
    I might be wrong, but didn’t Ivan or some top exec from the club state recently (last couple of seasons) that we would NOT continue property development?

  96. Bill,

    I’m yet to hear a logical case for Denilson/Bendtner/Diaby. Arshavin is one of our best players. You don’t sell one of your best players to prove a point, unless said player wants to leave and may cause disharmony if he stays.

  97. I would also add that I do not want Eden Hazard. What I find funny is that the same folks that argue that we need to get bigger and tougher, also want to spend 20MM pounds on another smallish attacking player. My vote is for Ashley Young, a guy who, every time I watch, is motoring relentlessly around the pitch and can lob in decent crosses mostly.

  98. LimparAssist

    I try not to watch spurs all that much, Bill, but I know a couple who go. Missing since January apparently. And he’s been played as a number 10 off of Crouch for the most part. Majority of his goals came from Crouch knock downs. Something like 4 goals since January.

    Our No.10 has 17 goals since January.

  99. I don’t think you need to sell Arshavin to prove some point. You sell him because his name/brand value still commands a nice premium and because we can use those funds to bring in someone more consistent, someone more physically suited to play in the EPL, someone more willing to fit into Arsene’s offense. Again, I think he does not keep the ball moving quickly enough on offense on the box perimeter and he does not move enough when he does not have the ball. Brilliant talent, just not a guy who’s conducive to helping us penetrate 8 guys stuffed into the box on defense.

  100. Henristic:

    Good point. We should keep AA if he is committed to stay. The boss needs to read him the riot act along with every other player on the squad.

    I am certain we will see a case made to keep all the players you mentioned as it gets close to the time when the decisions will actually have to be made.

  101. out- almunia , eboue , squalacci , denilson , rosicky , bentner
    in- vertonghen , niko kranjkar, falaco, some rb
    chaill is over ratted , parker is injury prone,
    arshavin should stay for one more season

  102. Seems mad Jens wants to stay on at Arsenal. I’d make him morale officer. He would jolly up the players OK.

  103. Is Arsene’s managerial style to read players the riot act? Based on his sideline disposition, it’s hard to feel that it is.

  104. Limpar:

    If he really went AWOL at the end of the season then I take back what I said.

    Chris @ 3:28:

    Well said. I agree that we must develop some flexibility in the way we play. The teams above us can win in different ways depending the tactical situation and what the other team is willing to give them but we have not been able to do that for the last couple years.

  105. A further plus for Andrei is that throughout his time at Arsenal he has always been available and is not prone to the “aboudiaby(calf) syndrome” that results in too many players spending far too long unavailable as a result of vague injuries.

    I remember at the start of last year when every striker was knackered Andrei leading the line against Stoke at home, a week after having carried off with a suspected broken leg.

    The right stuff

  106. LA at 2.58. Spot on piece of writing and analysis. Close to the man as I can fathom.


  107. ArceChicago @ 4:02:

    “Is Arsene’s managerial style to read players the riot act? Based on his sideline disposition, it’s hard to feel that it is.”

    Its very easy to look back in retrospect and say we did this, this and this wrong. Much harder to know prospectively. Arsene’s management style worked for him in the past and he had no reason to think it needed changing, and there is no way to know how much that has contributed to the complacency and other problems we have seen. Going forward I hope the riot act is somehow introduced into the equation. If not by Arsene himself then someone he adds to his coaching staff.

  108. We need to switch back to a 4-4-2. Our personnel dictates it.
    Bentdner (Chamakh) leads the line
    RvP (half the team is a backup here) in the hole
    Nasri (Arshavin [off.] Gibbs [def.]) on LW
    Walcott (Eboue [def.], Ramsay) on RW
    Cesc (Ramsay, Wilshere) at AM
    Song (Wilshere, Diaby/signging) at DM
    Back 4 the same, with a new signing competing with Djourou and Kos to partner Vermaelen.
    Tech in goal with Fab/signing as backup.

  109. BTW – I may be being anal – but it is Andrey, not Andrei.

  110. I think signing a defensive coach the most important addition we need to make. Clearly we are currently lacking in that department. Arsene has probably also underestimated the difficulty involved in defending properly (going by his recent statements that fixing the defense was ‘easy’) .

  111. nola, I tend to agree. But only in certain games. 4-3-3 served us well for much of the season. What I didn’t like was our willingness to deviate from it when it obviously wasn’t happening for us. Instead of playing to our one massive strength (Cesc), we need to work with what we have, and most importantly the players who are in form. Do this and the formation should dictate itself, and that won’t necessarily always be 4-3-3.

  112. When you let the formation rule your team selection you have situations where you’re putting a half-fit Fabregas out against Barca simply because the players don’t know any other way to play.

  113. *UNwillingness to deviate I meant to say.

  114. Andrei Sergeyevich Arshavin = Андрей Сергеевич Аршавин 😉

  115. Henristic:

    “I think signing a defensive coach the most important addition we need to make.”

    Good stuff. Smart man you are.

  116. Who is the current defensive ‘coach’?

  117. As small a thing as it is Anicoll – if you look at the man’s official website – it is spelt Andrey in English. 😉

  118. Do we have a specific Defensive Coach, or does Boro do everything along with AW and PR?

  119. Dupps @ 3:39:

    Don’t have a pound sign on my keyboard so $ my only option. I did not know there was a controversy about VDV’s price. In case of uncertainty always choose the option that works best for the argument you are trying to make.

  120. Gainsbourg69

    Again people are calling for Eboue’s departure eventhough he’s one of our only utility players and, along with Sagna, makes up the strongest right back duo in the league. Serioulsy, do you idiots even think before calling for players to leave? If Eboue leaves who would you muppets buy to replace him?

    Bill, why on earth would you be willing to change our system just to fit an oafish central defender in?

    Borges, Bastos is shit. I thought he was one of Dunga’s biggest mistakes and he has proven fuck all in France.

  121. Those reacting negatively to my post should probably think how can anyone lose motivation at the moment of truth? Why did we go missing in the Carling Cup final? Birmingham wanted it more than we did. We were in a title run-in, how much more incentive do you want to actually cut out the mistakes and fight together for the team? How do you lose a 4-0 lead? The set of players are enough to give us the title; compare the Arsenal team player by player to a team like Man United or even Chelsea and we would crush them. All we needed was the right mind-set. And we blew it. Season after season. For three seasons.

    How did Arsenal even think of putting up the probable play-off opponent list on their website? Isn’t Wenger the same man who believed that we always had a chance even when the chance was more mathematical than realistic? Where’s the ambition? Isn’t that the only thing players like Henry and van Persie wanted to see when signing their contract extensions?

    I’ve not mentioned a single playing tactic against or for Wenger, because that’s not my cup of tea. But as a fan, I can see when the team is not making any effort. As a fan, I can ask these questions.

    And this is a public forum George Rodger. I can do whatever I want including telling you to fuck off too.

  122. who I agree with:
    george rodger
    LimparAssist (especially at 2:58)

    who I disagree with

    Bill – specifically @ 2:56 pm
    goonerton (regarding the dissing of Denilson & Rosicky: bite me)

    As relates to transfers, I like Arshavin despite his faults – not at all sold on OneOfUs’s perspective, but OTOH the lobotomized koala on valium bit was hilarious. Also not eager to see the back of Rosicky or Denilson, and not very impressed by the cases presented by people who would like them to leave. I wouldn’t sneeze at Ashley Young if he was to join Arsenal. Selling Bendtner makes sense if he will only be playing on the wing, and that brings me to my next point:
    tactical flexibility is what I would like to see more than anything else out of Mr. Wenger. Every team should of course seek to impose their game on their opponents, but at the same time effective teams are able to evaluate their opponents’ strategies and counter them by tweaking their own. As an example, Guardiola’s tactical adjustments against teams packing their defense could be something to learn from, and he uses different methods depending on the circumstances. This tactical has been extensively documented by Cox on zonal marking, and more importantly it’s been effective.

    re: ZimPaul (@1:49 pm)
    I like to think that when RVP drops back it’s also tactical in the sense of the false 9 tactic that Roma broke in with Totti and Messi has perfected; it’s been discussed both by Wilson and Cox.

    re: Borges Spinelli (2:34pm)
    Michel Bastos is a great player, but is not more secure at left back than Clichy. He plays as a winger for Lyon. He was a weak link for Brazil at LB.

  123. G69:

    If having 1 “oafish” defense first CB destroys what we are trying to do with our system then its fragility destroys any chance of it working consistently and it should be trashed.

  124. the guardian put out a list of biggest flops of the season. Joe Cole, Torres, Obi-mikel,Arshavin,and some guy from Wigan. wayne rooney scores 11 goals with 11 assists. Arshavin gets 6 goals and 11 assists and he is considered a flop. Goonerandy i know you in particular don’t believe in the whole conspiracty theory but this is some honest proof.

  125. Kyle Bartley is from the Bolton academy before he signed with Arsenal. He has a winners medal and Cahill does not, so why should we sign Cahill when we have Bartley? If Bolton are good at producing defenders then surely, Bartley must be a good defender, no?

  126. I don’t think a 4-4-2 works well with the players we have because we don’t have wingers. We could switch to a 4-3-1-2 or 4-1-3-2 or a 4-2-1-2-1

  127. Lehmann wants to stay Arsene should sign him on a pay as you play deal and have him coach Fabianski and Woijciech.

  128. Paulie Walnuts

    Whether Arshavin leaves probably depends on whether Fab & /or Nas go. If both are off I just can`t see Wenger letting him go too.

    I think Browny got the imbalance of the team spot on earlier. Arshavin in particular needs others to do some of his graft but when he gets his act together he`s amongst the best around.

    Also, thank you OOU for the koala bear quip – made my day.

  129. colney @ 6:14:

    Beside the fact that he is less then 20 with no PL experience, his season ended with a significant knee injury. Not sure I would count on him as one of our top 4 defenders next season. Perhaps the 5th defender, behind New signing, TV, JD and LK. Since he is not yet 21 we don’t have to count him against the 25 man squad limit.

  130. OOU @ 1:24pm, I love Arshavin but that was too funny!

    The problem with Arshavin is not that he hasnt produced at all but that he is a better player than what he is doing now. To me he should be regarded as one of the best in the world like when he came but unfortunately for us, he isnt anymore.

  131. Arshavin is 30yrs old on handsome wages & was bought for big Arsenal money considering his age, if we get an offer in excess of £12M he will be sold, no question. Wenger isn’t the biggest fan of 30+yrs players at the best of times so it’ll be an easy decision for him to make if it arises, even Bergkamp would have been sold had that sort of money been offered. Of course this would imply a replacement is on his way, well..with any normal club it would.

  132. Ganesh, I dont believe blew a 4 goal lead at castle give the nature of some of the calls. It was self inflicted to a point but not as simple as you make it seem.

    In the CC final only one team looked like they would win it at the end and that was Arsenal. We were killing them and even hit the woodwork. The team did play apprehensive early on though.

    There is no doubt in my mind that we should be champs but yes we didnt have the confidence to get it done. I dont believe that the players dont care, how can you not care about wanting to win in sports given the competitive nature of man?

  133. Not that it would ever happen but I wonder what Andrey ( mark to Matt !) could have done if working with a tall striker in the way he was with Pavlyuchenko in what was a good Russian team in the Euros – 442

    Not our way I know but seem to me when you want to win a game two strikers better than one and Chamakh is a big awkward target man in the Pav style

  134. Gainsbourg69

    One defense first oaf, or whatever you want to call it, wouldn’t just destroy what we’re trying to do with our sysytem. It would destroy what anyone’s trying to do with their system. The modern game demans that all ten outfield players provide a passing option. If one plays a big, bumbling idiot, whose only option is to hoof the ball to row z, then when the ball gets to him he’s a guaranteed loss of possession. I will not go further into why yours is such a horrible idea.

  135. Carmon, Braga. Nope I mean, Porto. Naaaah, Braga. Porto. Braga. Porto Whats the fucking difference? Why are they playing today anyway?

    Se você não é Português, por que você assistir a este jogo?


  136. Watching Cahill struggle against the raw pace of Charlie Adam was a worry.
    For those who pine for that specific player.

    Bartley has more Pace? That’ll do for me.

    One of my favourite ex-clogger (good enough to help a team all the way to a CL final, with few goals against) , Swiss Tony helped keep another clean sheet this past weekend, whoop whoop! I guess all those ‘fans’ who heckled his every touch were correct. He’s not good enough for Arsenal. He may not have had the first touch of Dennis Bergkamp, but at least he could ‘head’ the ball.

    Somehow, I get the impression that having pace for an Arsenal CB is fairly important.

  137. Oh I haven’t mentioned this for a while.

    ‘Arsene Knows Best’

    We used to have a banner with that in the Invincibles season. It is still true. Just watch.

  138. G69:

    Just because someone is big and strong and a good defender does not mean he is unable to maintain ball possession. Anyone we would even consider has enough skill to be a passing option and maintain possession. The point is that not everyone needs to be able to pass like Cesc or Song for that matter. Their skill and committment to be defenders should be the first criteria. You may not have liked him but Flamini did not destroy our attack. Sure it would have been great if he could pass as well as Wilshere but he could not and the other things he brought to the table more then made up for his lack of great technical skill.

  139. The real cunts identified themselves on Sunday.

  140. Since most of our defensive problems came from set plays, it’s seems harsh to blame Arshavin for his lack of defensive abilities, he’s not likely to be heading corners and free kicks away is he?I’m afraid I’m one who doesn’t really rate Clichy, defensively too error prone and no really effective in attack. As RVP likes to drift wide a more defensive orientated left back might be a good idea, perhaps reverting to 4411 more often so that when we get the ball across the area someone is there to attack it.
    But for all the talk of the “dead wood” we must cut, Yogi is of course right, that unless we replace them with better the team will only go backwards.
    And if those better players were readily available, why would so many big clubs be alledgedly queueing up to get hold of ours?

  141. Carmon, Arsenalistas. Braga. Braga. Braga

  142. arshavin tends to turn the ball over because he attempts the one touch pass from left wing back towards the middle so often. To the guy above that said arshavin slows our game down, think again. To quiet the Darren Bent crowd I say this. He cost 24 million and has 7 EPL goals. same goal count as Chamakh, and our club runs at a profit.

  143. It is usually better to leave ‘dead’ wood on a tree. Removing it is more likely to kill it than leaving it. Whatever the fuck ‘dead’ wood has got to do with a football team like ours. Shocking expression. Dear oh dear. You youngsters do pervert our language so. You rascals.

  144. Gainsbourg69

    Flamini was alright offensively. I never thought he was like fucking Mascherano.

    Bill, we already have a big player who is awesome with the ball at his feet and doesn’t need to punt it to row z when he’s in trouble. He’s this charming African fellow who goes by the name of Johan Djourou. The rest of your comment is babbling.

  145. Finsbury @ 7:41:

    1) Do you really believe that Terry, Carragher, Vidic, Pique, Puyol would all struggle with Arsenal because they lack pace? Neither Pique or Puyol has pace and they play just as high a line as we do, yet they have conceded the fewest goals (21 to date) of any team in a major European league this year and last. Sol Campbell clearly did not have that much pace last year and did as well as any of our CB.

    2) If we need that much pace at CB to play our system and we are putting that much pressure on our defense then how can the system ever work? Are we compromising other CB qualities just to be sure they have adequate pace?

  146. you are right Gains. I really love watching Djourou collect the ball with the touch of a midfielder, then distributing it outwide to Sagna, or sometimes taking a touch or two and making the onrushing striker look like a fool.

  147. G69:

    Johan had a good run of form for a while but fell off at the end of the year. Which Johan do we get next year? I don’t know. If we assume he will not be the good one and get another CB and he turns out to be great then we have a little fluff to cover for the injuries that he inevitably suffers and to rotate. If the real Johan is the not so good one and we don’t get someone else we are set up for another year of conceding > 40 goals. After 4 years you would think that someone would learn that you can hope the best but its a good idea when possible to plan for the worst. Counting on Arsenal to have good luck not advisable.

  148. bill,

    Please try and restrain yourself from associating words with others, that they have not written. I know you can do it.
    Puyol and Pique are not exactly slow, are they? As for the rest. Meh.

    The end.

  149. ‘Sol Campbell clearly did not have that much pace last year and did as well as any of our CB.’

    You couldn’t make it up.
    Oh. You just did!

  150. Mr Arsenal Tony Adams,Steve Bould Martin Keown and Sol Campbell were not ball players they were defenders.They were not afraid to put the ball in row z.And they were good enough for Wenger back in the day.So why doesnt he go out and buy those type of players anymore. Is Vidic a ball playing CB.No way he is cut from the same cloth as TA

  151. Andrea Pirlo is leaving Milan after 10 seasons, i think he will be a good fit at Arsenal.

  152. george rodger

    Johan was as good as anyone in the league until he hurt his shoulder.Had he been out for the season,as Arsene said he would,we would have been claiming that was the reason for our collapse.Perhaps it was in retrospect,he was never the same when rushed back.
    Anyone who thinks we will sign a player as good as Arshavin ,let alone better,is going to be badly disappointed.

  153. george rodger

    Lol at Fin.

  154. Finsbury:

    Clearly any CB needs to have minimun level of pace and passing ability.

    We have probably assembled one of the fastest and best passing groups of CB’s in Europe but they are also probably among the shortest and lightest. (Not done the math to prove that statement but I suspect it is correct) Either way we have had lighter and more mobile CB’s for several years. Look at our results in the goals conceded column of the table. Look at what Arsene has said is the main culprit for our 3rd and 4th place finishes for 3 years running.

    Not an instant fix but it certainly can not hurt to have 1/4 of our CB’s who has more size and strength and a “stay at home” mentality even if it means compromising a little on pace and passing ability. Might help us be a better defensive team and I doubt it would inhibit our attack to any measurable degree.

  155. 1 loose cannon

    disapointments for the Arsenalistas. they did not perform.

  156. Just a small interesting statistic.

    Evryone’s favourite whipping boy, Denilson, started 17 games throughout the season, and was a sub 13 times. He was on the winning side 21 times, in a draw 4 times and defeat 5 times. On 10 occasions when he started we won, and 4 occasions we lost.

    He has not played since the WBA game, although has been an unused sub a few times.

    Not bad statistics or is it my imagination.

  157. This play-off semi is amazing.

  158. Thats not interesting jjgsol, its irrelevant. Denilson has contributed nothing to our season.

  159. DieseGooner, it’s comments like yours that really piss me off. Denilson has barely played this season, but somehow he is at the root of our problems? There are ‘popular’ first team players who contributed less while playing more often, but he is an easy target for people like you. Maybe his lack of opportunities this season does indicate that he is no longer in Arsene’s plans or there could be other reasons which are not apparent from outside. The manager will decide. But he is currently an Arsenal player and therefore deserves better than the knee-jerk abuse and scapegoating favoured by alleged ‘supporters’. What a fucking joke!

  160. george rodger

    The usual suspects of Diaby,Denilson and Bentner have to go.
    Or at lest so say the knee jerker’s.
    Well I dont know about anyone else but I think Bentner did well when he came on I both of the last 2 matches.
    I firmly believe that if we lose Nick and Diaby in particular we will look at them in a couple of years ,when they are playing regularly elsewhere ,and think”fucking hell we had them”

  161. Well done Huddersfield and Bournemouth, glad to see afobe playing, excellent game end to end stuff, love seeing all the fans on the pitch real football shame we never see scenes like this in the pl

  162. I agree with Passenal

  163. Borges Spinelli

    Yes, you’re right. Attempting to integrate Bent into our squad
    could prove challenging. Still, a part of me believes that for what he
    lacks in crowd pleasing flair, he more than makes up for with his incisive and prolific scoring. Arsenal currently lacks this edge in front of goal.

    van Persie, our sole goalscoring threat of 2011, is in fairness
    more of a support striker and not a lone ranger. Despite his stoic gamesmanship in his half-season. He needs a more cut-throat striker to lighten his load, and also feed-off-from. Players of the caliber of Falcao, Cavani, Leandrão are indicative of serious intent. Just once, i’d love to see our big rivals quaking at the thought of facing us.

    We’ll never know Wenger’s reasons for not adopting adventurous tactics & formations when things got tough. Maybe there are 2011/12 season may herald a bolder approach from him, if the right personnel are brought in. A shake-up is needed, not just to

    Left Back isn’t the position I had in mind for Michel Bastos. Not unless the formation employed, permits playing 3 in central defense and 2 spearheading the offense. Which in theory, would free-up Bastos & Sagna/Eboué to operate as Wing Backs.

  164. Borges Spinelli

    Under the influence of alcohol. Pardon my errors and incomplete sentences, in reply to Chrisgunner.

    I was meant to say:

    ‘We’ll never really know Wenger’s reasons for not adopting adventurous tactics & formations when things got tough. Maybe there are issues with the squad, which haven’t been brought to the forefront. Who knows! Maybe 2011/12 season might herald a bolder approach from him, if the right personnel are brought into the side. A gentle shake-up is much needed to re invigorate the squad, and clear out those incapable of raising their game to a consistent level. I’m not advocating change, just for the sake of it; but rather a welcome boost to fans and players’ morale – giving us something to all get excited about.’

    A team that rests on its laurels is a team that prepares to be overtaken.

  165. Bill: “Clearly any CB needs to have minimun level of pace and passing ability.”

    What defense first CB can you name that has minimal speed and passing ability?

  166. I think that if Diaby leaves he’ll be playing for someone like Barcelona three seasons from now. Guaranteed. He’s only 24 and has had a shit time with injuries, but if he gets over them he’ll be on everyones transfer list.

  167. george rodger

    G69.I believe if he can stay fit he is another variation that we currently don’t have.The balance of the team is far better when he plays.For me he is a nailed on starter.
    I just cant see how he can not be regarded as a good player.Beats me.

  168. I agree with Passenal over Denilson. Excellent comment. Why ship him out, when he’s not even the part of the problem. He’s performed when asked, you can’t ask more. And four time that we lost when he started, I doubt he was the only player that sucked on the pitch. If anything we’ve learnt this season that we suck as a team, not individually. Thats mostly whats happened. Bar a few exceptions when individual errors cost us points. Both those were few and far between. Not decisive.

    As for Diaby, let’s all be honest with ourselves. An injury free Diaby, would be the best signing for us. I doubt we can bring in a player of his quality from anywhere else. No big European club, has a player at there disposal that they would sell at the CM position. None. Those which are as good as Diaby, aren’t for sale. And in my opinion there are very few of them.
    Right now, there is only I think Pirlo, who might move, but he suffers from the same injury problems as Diaby does. And a different player as well. Diaby has the potential to be a match winner that we all crave, but his injuries really need to step aside now. There though is this concern about his passing ability, which can be dumb at times, but i’m sure that goes away with more matches. Just as Theo got rid of his, with playing so much, and so did Wilshere. Remember him losing the ball in the middle of the park in dangerous positions, early on in the season? That’s gone now.

    Bendtner, I’ve never been impressed with. But his passing in the final third, is pretty amazing for a striker. He might not be a poacher or one who could get a goal from outside the box, someone that we could actually do with at times, but he surely can pass and create problems. I don’t know, I wouldn’t be too devastated if he left. But I hope we can keep him, and Arsene would if he knows he’s worth it. When was the last time Arsene let go of a youth player that we later regretted? Aliadere, Penant, Bentley? Ha Ha. Never. Which is the club that let’s go of good players and later regret? Barcelona.

    The point was that we can debate all we want, all day long, over analyzing every player and position. But in the end, we do know, that if anyone can fix it, it’s Arsene. Unless you want to go the “spending” way, which to me has been against our principple. And if anyone wants big spendings and trophies through that way, hasn’t really understood what the clubs stand for, or the manager or the players. Yes, we’ve not been able to reap awards yet, but our time will come. I’d be damned, if this team, doesn’t win anything in the next 5 years. They will, very soon. Arsene like every summers, will tweak around, and bring in the necessary players, that will show progress. Anyone who thinks we didn’t show progress this year is a fool. We were very close. That is the only reason we are all so frustrated, because we were really close this time. And we’ll either be closer next season, or would already be where we wanted this team to be. That’s not a bad situation to be in, in my opinion. So stop fucking moaning, and whinging all the time.

  169. LimparAssist..
    I try not to watch spurs all that much, Bill, but I know a couple who go. Missing since January apparently. And he’s been played as a number 10 off of Crouch for the most part. Majority of his goals came from Crouch knock downs. Something like 4 goals since January.

    Including 2 against us… and 4 would be as many as Cesc, Nasri and walcott combined.

  170. Bayonne Jean

    Regarding AA, and the squad in general: the biggest thing that has to change is for AW to (grudgingly) take a look at his red-nosed adversary and realize that you have to manage your resources much, much better than you have. AA is a case in point: he’s a perfect player to slot into all of the European matches, in the cup ties, and against those EPL clubs where his liabilities (height and size/strength) won’t be a problem. And that’s where Wenger really has fallen down. Also, he needs to lop off the obvious non-achievers (Rosicky, Squillaci and Almunia are the most culpable) and bring in the COMPLEMENTARY pieces (central defender/s with size; defensive mid with size; flat out pacy winger/s; and a fox in the box striker) to match up with the holdover talent.

  171. YW,

    A good post that seems irrefutable to me. It’s funny that those same fans who are keen to seek and put to the sword any sacrificial lamb that they can find claim to do so ‘for the good of the club’! However, those same fans cannot cast their nets wide enough to realise that they play a part and MUST play a major part in the progressions of next season. I wonder how they address the ‘fact’ that we [AFC] suffered the worst home form of any of the top six teams!? Not so much the 12th man as balast loaded on the young shoulders of our players. Real and positive support is needed next season and nurturing that would seem to me a far more worthy task (although obviously more arduous than the lazy and self indulgent habit of following the media lead in throwing around silly calls for sacrifices) for all of us to put our energies to. On this point, YW and ACLF has been a standard bearer for many years and remains an example to be followed.

  172. I’d note that, among the internal critics/5th columnists, calls of a couple of seasons ago for a defensive midfielder now take the form of calls for “another” defensive midfielder to” support and cover for Song” (Yes, the same Song who they were convinced would never make the grade).

    Almiunia, Rosicky and Squillaci may seem like obvious departures but we just don’t know the full picture. Any departures and buys must be left to Arsene although we all have an opinion (just as we all have an arse hole). Let’s be cautious how and where we expose both.

  173. I like how people like to repeat that decisions of who comes and goes must be left to Arsene. I would have thought that much was obvious?

    No amount of speculation by fans can change who comes or goes. Personally, I don’t enjoy playing championship manager that much, but speculation on transfer targets is a major part of what fans do. That’s why the CM game was invented in the first place.

  174. Thanks for the link Mumbai.

    “Even among the four clubs which avoided making losses, only one, Wolverhampton Wanderers, did so by making a substantial, convincing profit. Arsenal’s remarkable-looking £56m profit was hugely boosted by the club’s £156m income from the Highbury apartment sales, and Arsenal moved into making a £6m loss in the six months from May to November last year.”

    Anyone knows if this means we would have made loss last season without the income from property sales? And what does it mean for the current season where we won’t have the property income?

  175. Interesting that Denilson has not even been making the match day squad recently once injuries in that area subsided. According to many on here he is one of the premier midfielders in the PL.

    Although I don’t rate him, if he is happy enough to accept that as his role we should maybe keep him. I have always said he is decent back up (but no more than that). I think our midfield pecking order goes; Cesc, Song, Wilshere, Diaby, Ramsey, Denilson.

  176. Re my 8.00am post

    I’ve just had a look at the P&L. Property sales ‘only’ accounted for 16M of our profit so we would still have a declared a profit. Its not all rosy though as we are barely just breaking even without net income from player sales.

  177. It seems funny how some misread statements and then proceed to state the bleeding obvious on that basis!

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