It’s Good To Talk But Arsenal Send Mixed Messages

When is a vote of confidence not a vote of confidence? When it is delivered by Ivan Gazidis. Earlier in the week, Arsenal’s CEO gave Wenger the board – and by extension, the owner’s – full backing. It was a PR move that is being interpreted entirely differently by the media, who seem unable to grasp the concept that Wenger is not going to be sacked despite Arsenal’s poor start to the season.

It seems that they feel that Wenger was irate because of Gazidis’ words whilst not being able to contemplate that his ire might actually have been reserved for the questioner. After all, if you were asked the same day in, day out with no originality, you too would find the whole thing tiresome. Perhaps Arsène can get around this by holding up scores at his press conferences, giving marks for originality in the question and not answering anything less than a ‘6’. Which would make the ‘pressers’ very short indeed.

When former managers and players are adding fuel to the fire, it is hardly surprising that Wenger is not at his most communicative publicly. No doubt there will be criticism of the manager this morning for the cancellation of the Q&A session with shareholders. It is known that the club monitor online sites, including social media, and will have picked up on the intensity of feeling. Having been left defenceless by the board at events previously, Wenger will see no need to do so again. Indeed when previous events have seen name-calling over players, it is hardly surprising. No matter how small and pitiful the ‘joke’ over Silvestre being old was, if the club cannot trust people to behave and act intelligently, there will be a drop in communication which leaves supporters as the losers.

There have been some observations about the club that beggar belief at times, the usual suspects of Merson and co feed their paymasters at Sky with turgid soundbites that form a million opinions. Tony Woodcock took matters a notch lower, more intelligently and eloquently, but lower nonetheless,

This togetherness, this determination, if you haven’t got it to pick a trophy up then how’s it going to be to get away from the relegation zone? I hope I’m not right. But I don’t want to be sitting here in three or four weeks and they’ve let some more goals in and they haven’t picked up any points. We’ve gone six years without winning anything and are now in this tricky situation.

Come now, Tone, a tad over-reactive isn’t it. Previously he had commented that there was always an unexpected team drawn into the relegation battle. Except the identity of that club is not normally known until February / March time in a season. Surely there is not a serious belief that Arsenal will be in a relegation dogfight all season? Seemingly so.

Woodcock was much more accurate elsewhere,

I’m hoping it’s going to be a bit of a kick up the backside for everyone

Indeed, talking of pride in clean sheets is not for the launderers but more for defenders. There is a need for this to surface and something that the goalkeeping coaches, Pat Rice and Steve Bould must be able to instil in the squad. But defending is not just for the back four, it starts at the forwards and ekes back through the team.

It is a message that they have already got across it seems. Kieran Gibbs observed post-Shrewsbury,

You do take it personally. As a defender, you always want to keep a clean sheet. When your team concedes goals, every defender will tell you it’s not what they want.

The full back indicated that a siege mentality is needed. George Graham fostered one following the points deduction at Old Trafford, the seeds for which were caught on camera for the season review video. Wenger has done so in the past, both managers benefitting by creating a strength out of the negatives. Gibbs highlighted the players role in all of this succinctly,

We just have to stand up and not hide away now if the results don’t go our way – we need to do the opposite and make sure we stand up and be counted. We will see a change. It’s not been the easiest of months , not just weeks. I can assure everyone that the team is together. You can see from the stats of the games that what we are doing is right, but on some occasions we just aren’t getting the results.

We are looking to turn that around as soon as possible, so we can lift the club. We know what we want to do and what we want to achieve. We will ignore everything and get on with what we want to do.

Fine words but all too often in the past the players have been eloquent. It is a time for delivery. Gibbs is right in that certain aspects of recent performances have been improving but the failings are neutering any progress. Of more concern to me is the element of self-pity that has seemingly crept in,

You see other teams do it but then they don’t concede from it and it gets overlooked. But at the minute we make one (mistake) and it’s a goal. It’s unbelievable how much it is affecting us, but we will overcome it

It is tricky to interpret his words but the opening phrase suggests that the squad feel somewhat hard done by with critics observation. Unfortunately that is part and parcel of being an Arsenal player; expectations are high because of the club’s history, the squad’s talent and the manager’s abilities. Matching those expectations is what will mark out the players as exceptional. A tall order given the start to the season. A trophy would be one hell of a response.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on September 22, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 232 Comments.

  1. Seriously this type of reaction should be expected. A lot of mistakes were made, a whole of two months wasted in the summer, we saw this coming in preseason and we have sold or loned out close to 7 regular players including our best 2 player (one of which is our captain) the new players we have don’t have time to blend into the team. You rip what you sow in life and arsenal is ripping the fruits of their lackluster preparation for this season. The results should have been expected, and more so is the reaction to the results. The best way to shut the press up is to do so on the field. Thankfully every stumble of arsenal still makes the back pages. If we continue this way we just might become so irrelevant to be worth wasting ink on. Just another yesterday team. I really hope that moment never come.

  2. Yogi,

    As you say, it is tricky to interpret Kieran’s words from the perspective of sentiment. However, I read his final point as being that we are not abysmal but are being punished for mistakes at present. That, I interpret him meaning, is why people are painting things as negatively as they are.

    And I agree, a trophy would be one hell of a way to answer our critics: not that you can ever fully satisfy the malicious and/or prejudiced.

  3. YW, I am an avid reader of your blogs and mostly agree with what you have to say. However, I do feel as though you have taken it upon yourself to be THE apologist for Mr Wenger. This is very laudable but you are at times going overboard to defend him and are now guilty of being blinkered in your analysis of events. I wish I had time to elucidate my comments but I am late for work.

  4. This is what happens if Wenger carries on as per normal. The gk and defence flaws have not been truly fixed from 2006. The jury is out for his defence purchases.To compound these problems,his one style play for every match makes them worst.
    The only way out is to start winning. If Arsenal had been winning the current outcry may not have arisen. As it is Wenger has a small window frame to work his magic.There was an article about Sun Tzu,the ancient Chinese war sage.His advice is still relevant in this day and age and to football as well.Know your enemy .Prey on your enemy’s weakness. Play to you strength.These are some of the sage”s pieces of advice.
    Let’s analyse. Against Mu with a weakened team,Aresnal should have concentrated on anti soccer.That would have not given the ugly Brit bull dog time and space. This could be anathema to Wenger’s pure football.
    Sometimes you have to throw your principles aside to get a result.Mourino has sometimes played in an unorthodox style to get a result.

  5. morning all, that day when ARSENAL are in a relegation battle will not come. AW needs to know that the owner and the board are backing him. that said he will find the way to pull the lads and the club through. pray and hope that no reactionary and impulsive steps are undertaken. i have faith in individual talents and collective backing of the club by the majority of the support. they will get gelling soon and they will triumph in achiving their set goals. all the time playing attractive and entertaining brand of football. they need some time, and to buy them this precious time some changes in tactics and formations are required, in my opinion. let’s hope for the best and support them in this never..
    UP THE GUNS!!!!!!!

  6. I interpret Gibbs’s comment to mean that they are down on themselves particularly at the moment and a goal affects them more than usual.

  7. * and support them in this endeavor. sorry

  8. For us to succed as a club, all stake holders need to be on the same page. The board and the coaches need to work to archieve same objective so there won’t be any need for vote of confidence.
    The players as well need to believe in themselves as much as wenger belives in them. If they dont believe they can do it, they will never do it. They must stop looking at other teams and start lookink at themselves.
    lastly, The fans need to get behind the team. The time to change players has passed.

  9. These are indeed troubling times for Wenger and all who love the club.I do not wish to slam him but sometimes you to have face reality.
    For starters his predominantly kid policy is beginning to look irrelevant unless backed by experience.If his defence can show improvement by stifling the opposition,there is no need for the defence coach. How many times have we seen how the gunners attack break down in the face of massed ranks of defender supplemented by the md and attackers?This is a big problem.
    The speed of attack is crucial to scoring.I do not wish to be disrespectful but the goals scored by MC,Defoe Fulham,Torres,etc will sum up what I mean.
    Arteta’s goal gives me hope and optimism. Prove it against Bolton who have a habit of stifling the gunners.

  10. Is that the same Sun Tzu that has a restaurant opposite Old Trafford? Now we know!

  11. The quality of football has been good. Some of the best I have seen for a long time. Something is wrong defensively though, confidence, experience, ability, Zonal? I am not sure as I am not an expert. The call for 4:4:2 is premature I want to see the type of football we play continue, that is a backward step.

    We have been predicting/hoping it would come right and every time there is a setback, we feel nothing has changed. It is a pity we did not get the three points against Blackburn -now it is a relegation battle, rather than top 5 – it is a pity we played Manu’re in the first matches -what an humiliation, it is a pity we got so many injuries and suspensions early-talk about compounding the issues. It is also a pity it coincides with Merson’s needs to feed his gambling habits. (Below the belt? At least I don’t get paid for my comments)

    Time for a Team, The A -Team. I know who plays BA Baracus.

    [Arteta (Face), Frimpong (BA), and Djourou (Murdoch)are squeezed into the back seat of a car]
    Djourou: There isn’t room for four of us?
    Frimpong: What? What do you mean four, sucker?
    [grabs him]
    Frimpong: There’s three of us, you fool!
    Arteta: Better say three, Djourou, or he’s going to bounce you down the hyphenated line.

    Frimpong: We’re flying this time, aren’t we?
    Wenger(Hannibal): Yes, we are.
    Frimpong: You’re not going to drug me this time. I’m going to keep my eye on you.
    Wenger : In that case, do you want the last swallow of your milk?
    [Frimpong realizes he’s been had, raises his fist and then collapses]
    Wenger: Guess not.

    Frimpong: I pity the fool who goes out tryin’ a’ take over da world, then runs home cryin’ to his momma!

  12. The simple fact of the matter is Arsenal are shipping more and more goals on a season by season basis. We have a brittle spine that rears its ugly head at the slightest hint of pressure. What’s worse is that Gibbs mimics what Wenger says, we are unlucky and get punished seemingly every time when the opposition has one shot on target,

    My dear Gibbs, Wenger et al. That is the freaking point! The team as a whole can’t defend, that is a simple fact. I for one am sick of the blinkered approach taken by Wenger and many of the AKB as they refuse to acknowledge this simple truth. It’s not like we haven’t known this for a few seasons now.

    Until we show some resolve and commitment throughout the team, we will suffer from this ad infinitum.

    To end on a positive note, I do feel we are close to assembling what seems to resemble a spine. WS, TV, PM, MA, JW, RVP is a formidable combination and when all together and fully fit will form the nucleus of the team going forward. I feel there are players in that grouping who will not stand for this mediocrity – yes I am looking at you Jack.

  13. Talking about winning any trophy this season, my best bet is fa cup. Wenger want (should) use carling cup to develop the young talent and let’s see how far they can go.
    So we should take the take the fa cup as seriously as the premeirship. Since it starts in january, their be ample opportunity to add to the sqad.
    Maybe if we get a lucky draw, then we can as well have a good run in CL.
    for the BPL, top 4 should be the target. We shouldn’t burden the team with too much expectation.

  14. Sorry, try this A -Team rendition:

    Wenger (Hannibal): Frimpong, there’s an old saying – “The best defense is a good offense.”
    Frimpong(B.A. Baracus): You got that wrong, man. A good offense is the best defense.
    Wenger: Okay, have it your way.

  15. Aussie, try studying a little bit of strategy. SUN TZU is a classic, and his words still apply today even in Arsenal’s case.

  16. Sedetganw Degafi

    I think you are giving too much undeserved respect for the manager.

    I am a Wenger fan. Yet, it is open that he has been failing since 2006. Yes, we have been in the top four. So have we been in terms of expenditure.

    I think it is too late to look for a new manager. So, Gazidis could not say anything else other than supporting the manager. Yet, deep inside the club there is a huge frustration and fear that we may not revive from where we are now. Okay, we could be too good to be relegated. But a top four finish is now seen as a dream although we have expended lots of money at the beginning of the season.

    Fact is the manager could not seem to have the solution for our problem for some reason. Players are passing through fear and frustration. You could read that from their faces. You cannot blame all of them. It is the manager who has to put them in good shape. If the fail to accept what he tells them to do, it is the manager who must act.

    I think that football is dynamic. Yet, the manager knows one way of playing the game. Shame his ending will be so bad.

  17. I do love and support Wenger’s defiant attitude. There is another saying, by a friend of mine, along the lines of “if you aim to start a real jazz club, never water it down with a bit of reggae and a bit of pop hip-hop and the flavour of the month, because you know what, you’ll never get there. You’ll remain a bit of this and a bit of that”.

    Don’t compromise Mr. Wenger! Stay the course. There are enough of us behind you, as you already know. Build our Arsenal legacy, it’s desperately hard, we know, and sometimes “hell”. Just keep building.

    For those saying things like gk and defence has not been fixed since 06, we keep shipping more and more goals season by season, I challenge you to support your arguments with statistics, for Arsenal and in comparison with the other top 6, and come up with a real analysis. At least Bill attempts this. Luke sort of tries but exaggerates to make his points. But the rest of you are making it up, aren’t you?

  18. Excellent piece this point in our evolution,no amount of PR by the club will stop the hacks from painting us as a club with a deformed anatomy. Wenger should just concenrate on getting results on the pitch.nobody can mix that up.

  19. It seems humour is absent from some people’s lives.

    Nice post again YW.

  20. SA Gooner | September 22, 2011 at 8:03 am

    “The call for 4:4:2 is premature I want to see the type of football we play continue, that is a backward step.”

    I wholeheartedly disagree with this comment. If 4-4-2 is the best formation for the players we have then that’s what we should play. Just like if 4-4-3, 4-5-1 or W-M is best suited. A good coach will get the best out oif his players and if that means changing the formation then that’s part of it too. We have gone to a zonal marking system from set-pieces this year which shows that the manager is trying new things in order to address a flaw. I can’t say it’s been a massive success just yet, but at least he’s trying to do something instead of carrying on as before.

  21. I want to see Chuks Aneke play against QPR just so he can follow B*rton around the pitch scaring the shit our of him.

    That lad is a monster.

  22. I’m not sure that it’s Arsenal giving mixed messages. Whatever comes out of the club at the moment is twisted to fit the current media narrative of a ‘club in crisis’. AW needs to focus on getting things right on the pitch rather than putting himself up as a punching back for disrespectful hacks and shareholders looking to score points in a public arena.

  23. Gaols conceded over the last five seasons. Man City and Spurs are for comparison, they haven’t really been competitive over the whole period.

    10-11 09-10 08-09 07-08 06-07
    Man Utd 37 28 24 22 27
    Chelsea 33 32 24 26 24
    Man City 33 45 50 53 44
    Arsenal 43 41 37 31 35
    Liverpool 44 35 27 28 27
    Spurs 46 41 45 61 54

    We have got steadily worse over the last four years and with our poor start this season I doubt we will concede less than last year. The trend appears to be for everyone to concede more goals in the last couple of seasons, I can’t think of any particular rule change which would cause this? I guess the attackers must be getting better.

  24. Sorry about the format, it looked better when I pasted into the comments box!

  25. In all my puff I have never known a beginning of a season like this one, where, no sooner has the Summer Window closed then speculation commences on who Arsenal will sign in the January sales.
    This hardly encourages confidence among the first team squad.
    All I would hope is that if we have targets in the immediate New Year, we are prepared to meet the market value, however bitter that may be, rather than set OUR valuation and try to sign the player at or below that figure. Those days are gone, IMHO, if we want to really challenge our rivals.

  26. Arsenal has been injured since six years ago but wenger and the board refuse to attend to the injury and its getting worse every year.wenger and the board knows the solution to the problem but they re criminals they wont solve the problems bcos of the proceeds they re getting from transfer activities.they need to be investigated before they ruin our lovely club.wenger ll say a player is expensive and later end up signing useless player for rediculous amount.oxlade chermbalain is not useful for us for 15m and we sign him.theo walcott is rubbish signing for 16m and we can solve our diffence problem with cahill 17m, samba 16m, sisokko 9m and they wasted all the proceeds from fabregas and nasri money on last minute useless signings so that they can ve excuse.wenger is a thief and the board until they re investigated and thrown out of arsenal we ll end up in disaster come may.

  27. Alphonso

    Whilst it is admirable that you are allowed some freedom during the day, the nice men with the white jacket and extra long sleeves want you to go back to your padded cell.


  28. Western

    Apologist? Hardly – this morning I was observing that the failure to hold a Q&A is down to the disrespect shown previously. No point in anyone complaining, if people want to be treated like adults, start behaving like them.


  29. To carry on the A-Team theme YW – especially since nobody else has stepped up to the plate.

    Frimpong (BA): [about ‘Howling Mad’ Alphonso (Murdock)] The guy’s not long for this world!
    Wenger (Hannibal): I’m not sure he was ever in it.

  30. Block 4

    I am the first to say don’t play people out of position (like Djourou should be in the dressing room… cleaning it… position) but it is usually for England where we have little choice and no Number 10 in the Total football sense.

    A club manager needs to have courage and imagination, Wenger has used this system and we have had great success with it. Even united have started to play their game more like it because Fergie has realised that ‘the English’ style will not beat the likes of the Barcas and Reals.

    To go back is to fail and then AW must go. He must continue, if the players can’t adapt then they must go. Hence the call for 4:4:2 is not what this is about. It is a regressive red herring.

  31. >To carry on the A-Team theme YW – especially since nobody else has stepped up to the plate.


    It’s because you have a unique grasp of the situation…


  32. SA Gooner,

    A bit of tactical felxibility is no bad thing. As far as I recall, the last time we eliminated Real Madrid or Barcelona we played 4-5-1 in both legs (against Real 2005-2006 European Cup). So the rigidity of sticking to 4-3-3 is not valid, different personnel and/or opposition may mean changes in formation. Also, I think the 4-3-3 was developed to give Fabregas a platform, before then Wenger had always played a 4-4-2 with one of the strikers (Bergkamp usually) just off the front. The very position, in fact, that you will see plenty of posters on here advocating for Van Persie.

    Don’t think I am advocating 4-4-2 as some kind of dogma, I’m not. It’s just that dismissing it out of hand is, IMHO, wrong.

  33. I find the present situation in English football somewhat like the United States during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. An Israeli diplomat at the time said that what America had was normal politics and he wished that Israel was in a similar position. The Premier league stands as the leading league in the world. Indeed it is a golden age. Things are so so good that irrelevancies gain undue importance. But just like the Clinton years hid the coming storm Arsene Wenger has warned of the coming crisis in football as most clubs can’t balance their books. Rather than focusing on the economic shambles that is most teams the media hit at the best run club and focus on irrelevancies. 2000 years on and Nero is still fiddling as Rome burns.

  34. Just dropping by – missed the game as was in Rome…..delighted we won, delighted the Ox scored – not happy reading the reports, and hearing from pals who went that we were pulled apart defensively by a League Two team. Regardless, we need to improve our defensive shape, organisation. Thats undeniable. Whether a coach is the answer, who knows. Lets just hope the solution is found.

    Zim – I have seen your earlier post, and when I get some time today, I pull off some stats….

  35. I am agreeing with much of what you say gunners.defence as always been our weak point in the last few not worst than this season. “There are only two things on earth that are visible from space ”
    great wall of china and the gap in Arsenal defence #joke

  36. Block

    My feeling (prejudice maybe) is that 4:4:2 represents a very non-adventurous, non skillful more hard bitten play. Whilst you can argue that we need a bit of backbone in this team, a bit of effort and hard graft to stabilize the ship, this ultimately won’t win anything.

    Taking your point further, the creativity required for the 4:5:1 in the Cesc role requires a skill level that we cannot afford at current prices. What is interesting though is that, according to Fab at least, we already have him. That is a lot of pressure to put on Wilshere’s shoulders, but Fab rode it at that age.

    Hence the story has to continue, and we have to stick to the skillful game at least to see if Jack can do it on his return.

  37. SA Gooner, I think your prejudice is getting the better of you. The 2001-02 and 2003-04 championship winning sides both played 4-4-2 essentially, because that’s the best system for the players. Either of those sides would have beaten the current team out of sight. All I’m saying is that if the current formation isn’t getting results then maybe a change is in order? I don’t know exactly what would suit us best at the moment, but it was interesting to see us play 4-4-2 in the League Cup the other night. It is well documented that Wenger likes all teams, from the schoolboys upwards, to play the same formation so that they can get used to it and it’s not alien to them when they move up through the age groups and (hopefully) into the first team. Of course it could have been a one-off, time will tell.

  38. SA Gooner,
    “My feeling (prejudice maybe) is that 4:4:2 represents a very non-adventurous, non skillful more hard bitten play.”

    I love 4-3-3 as much as anyone else, but (as you’ve yourself hinted)your description is indeed very prejudiced and inaccurate description of 4-4-2.

    I agree though that we should stick to our current style, it would be a shame to abandon it now after all these years. Besides, its not the 4-3-3 system thats failing us, its our poor implementation of it, (which was also the case when we had Fabregas).
    We will still have similar problems if we change to 4-4-2 I think, as there simply is no alternative to guile, disciplined pressing, and defensive organisation in football.


    Interesting snippet about where part of the Arteta transfer fee went.

  40. Block 4,

    I posted stats the other day that showed that the points and GD gap between top and bottom teams have stayed relatively constant over the last 5-6 years. This suggests that its not only the top teams that are conceding more, but the bottom teams as well. It also means that both these class of teams have been scoring more to make up for the higher number of goals conceded.

    This certainly points to improvements in the standard of PL forwards, and hopefully means that the PL isn’t heading the wake of Stoke just yet (i.e.ultra defensive)

  41. I agree with Big Brova everyday and his dog knew we would loose at least one of cesc and or nasri yet we left to deadline day to make amends with last minute signings that screamed of panic.
    as you might expect the players will take time to bed in.

  42. The 4-3-3 set us up for a title challenge last season. One which was not matched by City, Chelsea and anyone else. We disintegrated in the end, but we were the only team challenging. I just doubt Wenger will move away from the 4-3-3 just yet.

  43. Henristic,

    I’m all for more attacking football and more goals scored (except against us of course!). I would expect that Premier league clubs would sign the best attacking talent with the relative riches enjoyed over most other clubs in the world. The couple of clubs who have unlimited cash (Chelsea & Man City, I’m looking at you!) will always be in the market for top forwards to excite the fans, note the signings of Aguero and Lukaku this Summer.

  44. Goal difference stats for past few seasons:

    Season Arsenal Chelsea ManUre
    2003/2004 47 37 29
    2004/2005 51 57 32
    2005/2006 37 50 38
    2006/2007 28 40 56
    2007/2008 43 39 58
    2008/2009 31 44 44
    2009/2010 42 71 58
    2010/2011 29 36 41

    The trend is hard to see in tabular format, but anyone interested can cut and paste into excel. It is reasonably clear that our GD has been on the decline, compared to the other two.

    This shows that our problems haven’t just been down to the defence, although I’ve argued before that having a bad defence actually affects our attack. The whole team seems to be ‘let down’ when we concede a goal which makes our attack that much less sharper.

    Conceding causes a drop in confidence for everyone, and without confidence, we press less, we pass less accurately and make less incisive runs. This is a good an argument as any for building a team from the back, especially a team like ours with so many bad (and institutionalized) memories of costly defensive mishaps.

    It is interesting to note that manure are looking to go the attack-attack-attack route. I would have thought that with a new keeper, and the new faces in defence, they would be playing a lot more conservatively. Maybe because they are free of the psychological baggage that surrounds us? It will be interesting to see how this new approach pans out for them, and whether Fergie deploys the same tactics in key CL games.

  45. I think there’s a fascinating correlation between average of goals conceded increasing, amongst top clubs, and moves towards 4-3-3 type formations and its derivatives and the thinking behind.

    Rather than “better strikers” in a modern era, these more flexible formations and styles make for more effective strike options, more chances on goal, and better midfield and attack link-up. And there’s a price to pay, because you have only 10 outfield players, and they can’t be everywhere (except Rooney). The price is defensive vulnerability, especially to counter attack.

    Clubs seem to approach this in different ways. Noticeably ManU do not seem to need a Fletcher on the park; they seem to be concentrating on greater mobility, as a defensive system and attribute. They are scoring, and the name of the game is score more than your opponents. So far so good for them. This may change as the season progresses I suppose. ManCiteh still seem to prefer the monster DM option. Chelsea look to very solid back four built around the likes of Terry and Alex.

    It’s unclear to me where Wenger is going with this, but it is the same challenge as any other top team, literally how to attack and defend. The Wenger adage of score more and win only works when do you actually score more, and your defensive system can soak up the pressures. As in in cricket you set up your strategy by “percentages”.

    I very much doubt any of the top teams will revert again to 4-4-2/4-5-1 type play, constructed in another era to concede less than your opponents, and two almost regimented lines of defence across the field.

    For Arsenal, everything depends on how quickly the new midfield comes of age. Possession, possession, possession.

  46. Gibb’s comments about stats is interesting. Here are the stats from Man United’s “vintage” win, and Arsenal’s “lucky escape” in the League Cup. Interesting how the stats tell a different story than the newspaper I glanced at last night (obviously I only glanced at it, not going to actually go and pay money for a paper now am I).

    Possession:———- Arsenal 57% Shrewsbury 43%
    Attempts on target:– Arsenal 11 Shrewsbury 4
    Attempts off target:- Arsenal 3 Shrewsbury 4
    Corners:————- Arsenal 8 Shrewsbury 3
    Fouls:————— Arsenal 5 Shrewsbury 2

    Possession:———- Leeds 35% Man Utd 65%
    Attempts on target:– Leeds 4 Man Utd 6
    Attempts off target:- Leeds 5 Man Utd 4
    Corners:————- Leeds 3 Man Utd 7
    Fouls:————— Leeds 16 Man Utd 13

  47. Another point I want to make having read through the comments.

    Given how freely our attackers switch positions it’s seems irrelevant to debate the merits of 4-4-2 versus 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1, 4-5-1, whatever you want to call it.

  48. So rumours abound that we have signed Guim Laporta (14yo) who is Joan Laporta’s son!

  49. Zim,

    ‘The Wenger adage of score more and win only works when you do actually score more’

    We did score more the other day….we scored 5 out of the 7, but we still lost.

    Seriously though, nice thinking going into these posts. I have noticed that scorelines have increased throughout, 4-2s and 4-0s etc seem much more common, so maybe that has altered the goal difference as well at the top. Hard to say.

    I think you have to look at Barca or Real, because they are the best teams at this kind of football and whilst the attack and the midfield are unbelievable, you also won’t see defenders who can read the game better anywhere. If it gets to them, you don’t feel that it will necessarily end in tears. Actually, you know that they will intercept, control and launch an attack right back.

  50. Good points ZP,
    This discussion reminds me of the Nigerian national team of the 1990s and early 2000s. I used to actually hope that we concede early in those games at it seemed to help focus the team. You just knew we would equalize and then go on to win the game. Conceding a goal even in the last 20 minutes of the game never gave me any real concerns. As long as we had some time left to play, I always believed we’d do enough to win and more often than not, we did.

    When Manure concedes, I doubt that the players start to think, ‘shit, hear we go again’. They usually just go on playing their game, and usually it works for them. This was the same with Arsenal teams of old.
    Its a very different story now however, we are shaky even when we are leading, like some sort of collective post-traumatic stress disorder. Wenger would have to work miracles to change that mentality.

  51. I certainly don’t like that we have shipped 14 league goals in 5 games thus far this season but what is done is done and no crying over the fact is going to change it. I look at some of the goals scored against us (Dortmunds, and both of Youngs goals for example) were just pearls and Chez was never going to save them. It begs belief that people complain at times that even those goals shouldn’t have been scored because some where in the build up someone could have done something to avoid them finding the net! We watch and live the game because it is for the most part liquid style of end to end excitement and Arsenal have not been short on providing the Excitement.

    Time to get a grip and move on, we have things to fix but we also have to recognise that we have not been particularly lucky either. Luck can somethings have a huge effect, though it is not something you want to rely upon to achieve desired results. Arsenal are talented enough to get through tis and they shall.

    To all the complainers about years without a trophy, it isn’t the first drought nor will it be the last for Arsenal.

    Love your team and get behind them!

  52. Markus

    I agree and maybe you have hit the nail on the head. For me though when someone says 4:4:2 they are talking about returning to a set of values which (my prejudices) tell me include: Working hard, tracking back, two target men who you thump it up to, a functional, hardworking midfield and bugger-all flare.

    Any other formation (4:3:3 or 5:3:1:1 etc etc) speaks to me about having a number 10 in the centre who supports the striker, a play maker who does not defend, but creates the spark. It is in some ways an anathema to ‘English’ football and is often what is being rejected when we have these discussions.

    That is the mentality that I would say we need to keep in the distant past.

  53. Miami, I don’t think it’s unfair to say we could have done this or that better when analysing why we have conceded goals, this is part of the learning process. Taken to it’s extreme though, if everyone was perfect defensively than no goals would be scored at all!!


    a good highlighting of the attendance stats. The second highest plus the weekend games. not bad for a team in crises! I recall blogger comparing with other Carling cup fixtures in earlier years and there wasn’t even much the difference!

  55. “Rip what you sow” – now there’s a new take….

  56. Block that is my point, there are always reasons for goals being scored, sometimes they are just beautiful goals.

  57. Nice one Team Spirit.
    Lets see if John Cross and others report that story.

  58. Rip what? You Sow.

  59. R.I.P: what you sow….. Amen

  60. Great post yogi:

    I have no problem with Wenger cancelling a Q $ A session with shareholders. I honestly wish we would basically shut up shop and stop saying anything of importance to the media. Lets have our feet do the talking on the pitch.

    I agree completely with your concern about the players falling into a cycle of self pity. If we acknowledge that our problems are our own fault at least we can fix it. If the players start to believe that bad luck or referee bias or negative media or some other force is controlling our results then we are really in big trouble. Can’t think of anything more negative then to believe that you don’t control your own destiny. If thats true then it really is hopeless.

  61. Ok one last A-Team analogy.

    After the riots, like many Arsenal fans, a couple of scousers sent me a picture of Wenger dressed in a light blue adidas tracksuit. Anyone remember it? Wenger was making off with some well known silverware and the title was ‘The Looting Continues’ (for our southern and East African Bloggers read: A Luta Continua, it made me feel better)

    Ha bloody Ha. Anyway a far better title came to mind today, unfortunately I do not know how to post a picture here (if you can) but the caption to that picture now reads.

    “I love it when a plan comes together.”

  62. YW

    Talking about our defence.we need to defend and attack not just push forward and leave our backline exposed.while some players are needlessly giving ball away which puts the team under lot of pressure.The blackburn game was a prime example of what I’m talking about.our defence is at a mess this moment and there are certain indivuduals that make mistakes week after week too who are cousing us so many problems-just take a look at who has been responsible for our errors that have lead to goals conceded.

  63. SA gooner:

    The 433 has not worked. I know there are many other factors involved but we have had the most talented team in the league the last couple of years, we were the most aggressive attacking team yet we have been consistently outscored by ManU anc Chelsea. That was happening even when we were had our best players for that system and were playing at our flowing best. Thats not even taking into account the difficulty we have had with defending from that formation. Not all the blame can go to the 433 but logic would dictate that our formation and tactics has to be part of the problem. The other top of the table teams are moving back towards a system with 2 strikers. Dogmatically sticking with a system that has not served us well in the past doesn’t seem like a positive move.

  64. Zimpaul

    I have collected the following set of information:
    Since 2004/05 – our last season as reigning champions, I have collated Goals scored, conceded and goal difference for Arsenal, United and Chelsea only in the EPL.

    For every season & category (i.e. goals scored 2005/06), I have ranked each side respective of performance.
    – For goals scored, the highest scorer receives 3 pts, second 2pts and third 1pt.
    – For goals conceded, the same logic applies as above, but reversed.
    – For goal difference, the greatest margin receives 3 pts and so on.

    Scores have been totalled up for the last 7 seasons.
    Goals scored:
    1. United – 16.5 points
    2. Chelsea – 13.5 points
    3. Arsenal – 12 points

    Arsenal only scored more goals than our counterparties in 2004/05 when we scored 87 goals. Second was Chelsea with 72

    Goals conceded
    1 Chelsea – 18.5 points
    2 United – 15.5 points
    3. Arsenal – 8 points

    In this category, Arsenal has only once not had the worst defence. This was 2005/06 when we conceded 31 goals, and United 34

    Goal difference
    1 United & Chelsea – 16.5 points
    2 Arsenal – 9 points

    Not once in the last 7 years have we had the best GD from the big three.

    Total figures for 7 seasons
    Goals scored
    1, United 525
    2. Arsenal 515
    3. Chelsea 513

    Goals conceded
    1 Chelsea 176
    2 United 198
    3 Arsenal 254

    1 Chelsea 337
    2 United 327
    3 Arsenal 261

    What becomes immediately apparent looking at the collective performance over the last 7 years, is that our firepower has been in the same league as the two sides who have shared the title every one of the last 7 seasons.

    The glaring gap in performance is our defensive record.

    Our goals conceded spread runs between 31 and 43. That’s the smallest spread. United between 22-37 and Chelsea between 15-33.

    Both United and Chelsea have only leaked more than 30 goals twice in the last 7 years, whereas we count conceding 31 as our best performance.

    In 2008/09 (the beginning of the much cited poor 3 season run), we conceded 37, that figure has increased to 41 and 43 each year. Whilst it is true both United and Chelsea have conceded more year on year since 08/09, they both fall short or our current total. United conceding 37 last season and Chelsea 33 (which we have only bettered twice in 7 years)

    Additionally, in the last three years , only last season did we not score the least goals out of all the teams. We bagged 72 last season, compared to Chelseas 69 – who, however, finished with a better goal difference record.

    Essentially the above highlights a few key components:
    1. Our defensive performance has not been consistent or strong enough over the last 7 years to see credible title challenges launched (aside from 2007/8 when we finished 4 points off the top). Not so surprisingly, this was our best defensive season in the last 7 years

    2. That as our defensive record has weakened over the last 3 years, the gap between us the eventual winners has widened 8, 11 and 12 points respectively

    3. That despite outscoring Chelsea 3 out of the last 4 seasons, only once have we recorded a better goal difference – 2007/08 (our best defensive year)

    This isn’t meant to be portrayed as doom mongering post, simply, I am just looking at respective and objective comparison between us and the only two teams we should be compared with over the last 7 seasons.

  65. RIP! What you?

    Although the pundits look awfully clever shifting players names around a digital screen and mouthing off 4-1-3-2s and diamond formations, I honestly wonder if managers today talk like this at all.

    A 4-3-3 is a template, out of which any all number of permutations come about, but there are some key differences, especially in defending with the “two well-drilled lines”.

    I still vaguely remember my junior school’s 2-3-5 formation (I was one of the poor lads at the back).

    an under-rated player in their star-studded team is Barcelona’s Alves. It is extraordinary how often, and how well he leads the attack down the right flank, and I think quite rare. Bosingwa is a poorish imitation.

  66. Luke

    Expert. Thanks for that

  67. It’s a brilliant post Luke, honestly, and some work in there. It kind of confirms that Bill’s long paragraphs need to be actually read.

    The consensus amongst positive types seems to be that this doesn’t imply a change in attacking style, but rather a renewed emphasis around 10-outfielders defensive duty; and urgency, and more importantly organisation in the ranks when the opposition gets the ball.

    I think the stats are explain accurately the weakness, and especially telling down our flanks.

  68. Wenger’s point, or somebody’s, by the way was that we conceded less goals in open play last season than any other, or almost any other team, and the most from set-pieces. Not asking anyone to look for stats on that, but I wonder if it has been a long term trend. I guess so.

    We seem especially vulnerable in three areas: from just outside the box, and too many long range goals scored against us; from the flanks, especially our left, and dangerous crosses; and from set-pieces, free kicks rather than penalties at a guess. We are also susceptible to fast counter attack, but that’s normal I think.

  69. Our defense has also changed quite a lot in those years. We have not had any consistent partnerships in the middle of the defense along with a consistent goalie. Hopefully with the players we have now, we can gain that cohesivesness that a defense needs.

  70. The need for defensive improvement is there for everyone to see. It seems as though it is a combination of mental fragility and lack of proper application of the pressing game required while playing the 4-3-3 formation.

    Our players do not seem to attack the ball while on defense. If a player is timid or caught on his heels things like random own goals and seemingly preventable mistakes happen all the time. I believe the mental side needs more work than the tactical side at this point.

    I am not sure how one goes about fixing the mental problem, but demanding a certain level of intensity and commitment seems the only way forward. Wenger has to become ruthless with the players that refuse to change their mindset and application. I see no other way to rectify it.

  71. As has been noted, Penalties are a part of the set piece stats(which skews the stat to me), and we gave away the most. Fact is United hardly ever get pens called against them. I take some of these stats with a grain of salt to be honest, as we more oft than not dont get the rub of the green that United do. With that we have to be that much better.

  72. I watched the Barca Valencia game last night, and was really impressed from both teams, but Valencia in particular was the effort they made in pressing the ball at every opportunity.

    Time and again Valencia won the ball back from Barca and launched into quick counter-attacks.

    4-3-3 would appear to be at it’s most effective when teams do that, and I remember we started the season very well in this manner either last season or the season before.

    However, this season we have not been that quick to press the ball, which has resulted in team’s being able to get close to our back 4, and play ball’s into the box.

    If you consistently allow team’s at your back 4, two things are going to happen –

    They are either going to score, or it is going to happen enough times to have an impact on the confidence, organisation and concentration of your defence.

    The best form of defence is not to let a team near your defence, and by either having the ball, or pressing and winning it back quickly you can prevent it.

    We have the players, I do no doubt that for one minute, we just need some serious hard work on the training ground and pitch to put it all together.

  73. I thought it should be “rip what you sew” but then you would have to sew it again.

    YW, yes the media are having a pop at us but I think any of the bigger clubs, and some of the smaller ones like spuds, would get caned for a defensive record like ours. And rightly sew.

  74. In terms of formation surely we should pick a formation that best fits the players that we have at our disposal. I of the opinion that we should move to a more direct counter attacking style and either 442 or 4231 are our best options.

  75. Reap what you sow…. lol

  76. I dont believe our defense is as bad as you are making it out to be Vice. It seems to me that we are basing our perception of the defense on one match, either that or lumping seasons together. We all agree that things were a little crazy with having a host of our defense and our main DM out against United and that has been excused a bit but with Saturdays defeat we think we are the worst defense going but I dont buy that. We have played some excellent defense for the most part and I think that should be noted.

  77. I wasnt that impressed with Barcelona Matt, Valencia let them into the game by not taking their easy chances. Valencia are very good team and do far great to watch. They really did attack with great pace and defended well, apart from the end of the match.

  78. what the heck!

    …and they are great to watch.

  79. @ luke

    Great post…and to continue Paul-N’s point if you can somehow miraculously dig out the stats for goals conceded from open play for the past 7 years (I will thank you from the bottom of my heart if you can :D), I think you will find that the 3 clubs are more or less on level footing or Arsenal even in 1st or 2nd on that list..

    Given the revolving door nature of our back 4 these last few years (unfortunately), I think that in itself should be proof enough for the people demanding for a defensive coach that our defensive organization overall is not that bad..and that Arsene believe it or not can coach defense (I always laugh when someone says “arsene cant coach defense”)

    The same revolving door nature of our back 4 maybe the root cause of our weakness from set pieces (of course we concede way more pens than anyone else). This season unfortunately shows the same trend.

    Maybe thats the reason behind the zonal marking system..the same zones and spaces are marked, irrespective of personnel..a way of having defensive continuity at set-pieces in the face of constant change…

  80. LG, even by their piss poor standards, have managed to out do themselves today, what a pile of self absorbed, old cock posted today, whipping up their forum lemmings into a blood frenzy; sack the board, kill Wenger, bring back George Graham, bring back Dein, kill Wenger.

    Man alive! their forum is so anti Arsenal, words utterly fail me, if you didn’t know better you would have thought it a spud site.

    Good try Deise & Matt for an attempt at posting rationale, unfortuantely I have the distinct feeling your pissing in the wind over there.

  81. KingSalami,

    That’s why dear old Peter and Geoffrey moderated me yesterday, they don’t like sensible, rational comment’s over there.

    It’s all about the notoriety and the hits…..

  82. Nice touch by the club – Due to the Victoria Line being closed for our game against Stoke, the U-18’s will play Chelsea at the Emirates immediately after the first team game has finished.

  83. Are all Ex players really stupid, or is it particular to Arsenal?

  84. George

    Cundy & Cascarino prove it is not only ex Arsenal players that are stupid.

  85. I think all of them are thick as sh1t George.

  86. I don’t think it is all ex players who are stupid George, there are plenty of stupid current player’s too.

  87. They should ask Charlie George to wax lyrical about Arsenal. Rather than miserable bitter twats like Wright,and Merson.Not to mention Woodcock.
    Or better still ask Dennis or Titi.But no,they always go to the lowest common denominator.

  88. Luke:

    Thanks for putting those numbers together. I used to have the energy to do that.

    We have often blamed our defensive weakness on the fact that we are an aggressive attacking team. Even with our attacking ethos we have not scored enough goals to make up for the level of risk we take. Our opponents both built their teams from the back forward. We tried the opposite which has had some great moments but ultimately it has not worked. If you get the tactics right and stay organized you can score plenty of goals without leaving yourself open at the back.

  89. George, anyone with an ounce of intelligence is away doing something constructive.

  90. How is it that Robson can be positive when being paid by Arsenal to do “talking tactics” and negative when not being paid by Arsenal.?

  91. Ah Bill, old man now then? Old man doom. Kidding. I agree we haven’t been scoring enough lately. Finishing needs to improve. Even looking at the stats I posted at 12:51 we had nearly double the shots on target that United had through the week, but we both scored 3 (11 to their 6).

  92. Markus,its because we need a world class 30+ striker,or so we are told.
    I don’t see the problem ,there are loads of strikers aged over 30, who were once world class, we could sign.
    Or have I got it wrong?

  93. The reason I long for a 4-4-2 is so that we can have someone (Theo or Arshavin) playing off the shoulder of the last defender. This way we can keep opposing teams honest at the back and make them less willing to attack us for worry that they’ll be exposed if they do. This formation, with a fresh Theo upfront, would also help us press higher up the pitch and prevent teams from building attacks from deep. Our 4-3-3, at the moment, gets too bogged down on the flank and we become easier to defend against. Van Persie, as gifted as he is, is not the type of player who will beat a defender for pace and create the much needed space the 4-3-3 needs in order to be effective.

  94. Moderated? So that is what it is called.

    Merson really is thick. He also has habits that need to be financed. Wright is a licensed law unto himself, he needs all the tabloid press he can muster to get his programs sold.

    The point is the press has an angle and as such will just keep chipping away.

    I stand to be moderated.

  95. Marcus:

    We have had that problem with our finishing for years now. I don’t believe we are just poor finishers. I don’t have any stats but I would bet our goals scored/shots taken and our goals conceded/shots allowed for the last several years is probably much worse then either United or Chelsea. That has to be down to the types of chances we get and the type of chances we give the other team. When that happens consistently the only logical explanation is we got the tactics and/or organization wrong. (assuming our players have been good enough for the past several years) If you have a better explanation I would love to hear it.

  96. When that happens consistently the only logical explanation is we got the tactics and/or organization wrong.

    Bill not really.
    If we converted at the same ratio as United and Chelsea we might expect to score 7 or 8 every game.
    The type of chances ,as you said ,are relevant,
    If your style of play is to cross the ball into the box it is a “chance” when you make contact with your head.And not a “chance if you don’t.But in all likelihood a high % of these type of chance’s will be converted because you are almost heading the ball at point blank range.
    Whereas our along the ground play usually has more men between us and the goal, hence more likely to be blocked or saved.
    But if you make more chances and convert less it can still work ,and be much more entertaining.
    What do you think Bill?

  97. Paul N

    I definitely do not think our defense is poor, I just think we have lapses more than any other top team in the division. As individuals, our personnel definitely have the talent and experience, they just have not been putting forth the proper application and team cohesion needed.

    Obviously they are still becoming familiar with each other, but I think the mental side of the game has been lacking for quite some time. I do not subscribe to the idea that the defensive lapses we have seen over the years is mere coincidence or “bad luck”.

    All that being said, I do believe the current squad has it in them to be great defensively, but it just needs to be delivered on a consistent basis. Having Vermaelen back will definitely help us reach that level we know they are capable of.

  98. And, I am still not sold on the idea that Per and Vermaelen is the automatic first choice pairing with everyone fit. I thought Vermaelen and the Kozzer looked great together, and would love to see them paired up again.

  99. @ Passenal | September 22, 2011 at 8:58 am
    Agree 100%. And I would add that the club and IG in particular have defended him and stood up for him at these events.

  100. George @ 6:36:

    “But if you make more chances and convert less it can still work ,and be much more entertaining.”

    Thats true in theory but the data would argue that it has not been working on the pitch. Just my opinion but I think entertaining has to take a little bit more of a back seat to actually getting better results at this point.

    My own theory is that those other teams tend to get the ball down the field into attacking positions faster then we do. They play more long diagonal passes and get the ball down the field quickly and send the ball into the danger area more quickly. They get a lot of tap in goals and rebounds. Those type of chances don’t happen when the other team is organized. The downside of what they do is less possession. They are also better headers of the ball and are much better at scoring scrappy goals and set piece goals.

    We tend to play the ball at our feet and maintain possession and prefer a methodical build up through the mid field which gives the other team time to organize. We don’t get many tap ins or headed goals and the chances we create are more difficult to convert.

    If we speed up our tempo and attack we will have less possession but perhaps we can score more goals. We also need to get better at scoring set pieces and getting “scrappy goals”. Those type of goals do not have to same entertainment value but I have always prefered pragmatism.

    I would be interested to know what others think.

  101. Thats true in theory but the data would argue that it has not been working on the pitch.

    If you think that on money spent we might expect to have been mid table then there is an argument that it has indeed worked.
    It is a case of accepting that possession is our aim and through that build up and score.will not look as quick as playing on the counter.
    I believe that if you set up to play on the counter it is because you accept you are not good enough to keep the ball.

  102. I would be interested to know what others think.

    Was that your way of saying you are not interested in what I think? 🙂

  103. George:

    OK. I guess we don’t agree on that.

    Based on the amount of wages we pay and the amount we have available to spend on transfers should we choose to use it, we are no where near a mid table team.

    We all have been banging on for 3 years now about how good our players are and that we had the deepest most talented squad in the league and I really believe that was true especially last season. I think that window of opportunity has past and its going to be very tough to rebuild that type of squad again. The genius of Wenger is that he did assemble that incredibly strong team on the budget he used. I think we could have won several trophies in the past despite the financial ball and chain if we had gotten the tactics right and brought in a few more affordable experienced players but thats just my opinion and no way to prove it.

  104. Bill,you might be right.
    But I never think Arsene gets it wrong .Me being a sheep like AKB and all.

  105. George,
    “If you think that on money spent we might expect to have been mid table then there is an argument that it has indeed worked.”

    Why do you keep saying this. How many teams outspend us (total spend i.e.wages + transfer) and still finish below us in the past few years?

  106. I see where you are coming from Vice. It is true that we suffer from mental lapses. I also agree that TV and Kos looked very strong. I would like to see us rotate a little based on opposition.

  107. George:

    LOL You might be right and I may have it all wrong or more likely we are both wrong. In truth there is no way we will ever know what could have happened if things had been different, and there are to many variables to know for sure why things happened the way they did.

  108. Hemristic,read the post again.I did not say I believed that(I said “if you think” not “I think”).I was simply pointing out that it is possible to have a different take on whether or not our tactics have worked.
    But if you are just looking for an argument let me help matters along.FUCK OFF 🙂

  109. Fair point George, but what do YOU think? Do you believe we’ve performed better than any team that has spent more than us in last few years, or you think we’re just on par?

  110. Henristic I think we have over preformed .
    I don’t think you can look at our total wage bill and add it to transfers (net nil by the way)And compare it to other clubs.
    The reason I think we are different is that we have a huge number of young players on good money .These should be deducted from our total wage bill to establish the first team wages.
    My reasoning? well, they are like a separate investment .Most will be sold and money recouped so the expense of the youth development should be separate from first team expenses.

  111. “… with Saturdays defeat we think we are the worst defense going but I dont buy that. We have played some excellent defense for the most part and I think that should be noted.”

    I pray to God that AW doesn’t share this opinion, although I fear he might.

    Go back and watch the Koscielny o.g. again and tell me that’s a competent defensive performance.

    Not just down to the back 5, the whole side needs to take responsibility. However when you’ve got Djourou and Koscielny playing that badly you’re always gonna struggle.

    I’ll be interested to see what new ideas Primorac and Pat come up with this season to justify Arsene’s claim that we don’t need another coach.

  112. Koscielny o.g.?
    He was perhaps 1% responsible for it. Not saying it was not bad defending,just not by him

  113. 1%…boy george…as in the term boy…… calling you boy george. 1% is laughable. he was probably thinking of what he was going to have for tea in that moment. even the great man Wenger said that own goals are not totaly unblamable. he was guilty and needs 10 lashes.

  114. Duke,I really don’t see what he could have done .Now Djourou and Song are an other question.In fact 1% might be an exaggeration 🙂

  115. pedantic george | September 22, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Your approach hardly makes sense. First off, other clubs have youths too, so you’d have to deduct their youth costs as well. Secondly, our youths play a more prominent role in the first team than is the case in many other clubs, so its far from a separate investment. Its part and parcel of our overall philosophy.

  116. Henristic ,I have to say you are right in that other clubs should also have deductions for youth costs.
    On the other hand my entire premise could well be rubbish ,but our philosophy is somewhat we should perhaps be judged as such,
    Lol, I think I should stop digging now 🙂

  117. philosophy?? what does that mean… we no longer play sexy football or football like art. we bring through players to sell on!! or the one where we refuse to invest in the team asit is not the priority??

    so three philosophies.

    two left. and they both stink.

  118. Give George a break, they’ve just discovered 300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas under Lancashire. By the time that methane works into his water supply he won’t even be able to type straight.

  119. Duke ,I like you, but you are a miserable git.

    We do still play sexy football.And will improve as the new “sexy footballers” bed in.(sexy footballers bedding in !!!do you get it 🙂 )
    We don’t bring through players to sell on unless United also do it??(Ronaldo!!some times that is just how it goes)

  120. George in his kitchen next year

  121. george, i am affraid i have lost faith in this set up now i really have, i am utterly gutted but every man has a braking point and mine has been the summer of discontent followed by the actions of the men who run our club. i hope they can turn things around as i genuinley like Wenger but they do not show enough ambition and these are the results. piss poor management from top to bottom, although i hear the tea lady still is doing a remarkable job!! so not right to the bottom!!

  122. MDGunner ,thanks ,but the last thing I need is pity 🙂

  123. Have you got a braking point george or will you just follow Wenger to the conference if that happened???

  124. Duke,I too am gutted.
    But I still believe that no matter how the set up holds him back ,Arsene will do a better job than anyone else could.I have absolute faith in the man,100% belief. Unshaken in any way.
    Of course I am as daft as a brush.

  125. Duke ,my braking point will be if he hires a defensive coach like Adams

  126. Really?? an Adams or Bould or a Keown is what we are crying out for George.

    GG used to have our back four train the offside trap using a rope george, maybe Adams could implement that genius method to our guys. would fukin help no end wouldn t you say???

  127. Is a banker’s cheque the same thing as a demand draft? You guys got any clues?

  128. Duke, it will get better, cheer up bro!

  129. No Duke I dont think it would work with a Wengerball team .Do you really think it would?
    Or are you saying you would prefer a defense first set up?

    I was kidding about Tony by the way

  130. Ateeb,google it we are all thick 🙂

  131. & if you missed this one as well:

  132. ateeb there are no bankers on ere.

  133. Duke ,believe it or not I was a bank manager in the past.Still cant answer his question though

  134. I thought you was a banker george!!!!

  135. I know what you are saying ,you cheeky Dukey you.

  136. George,

    That St Helens aint a bad rugby team are they??

  137. Im not a banker, but I’ve got made some demand drafts myself, during life. I am sure someone might have used a banker’s cheque!


    Why do you even bother?:P

  138. Wigan used to be the Manchester City of Rugby.
    They should look at what steps the super league took to level the field

  139. Ah, you’re a better man than me George.

  140. Dukey

    I’m swinging (steady now Bill!) towards your thoughts man.

    Then again, I have been hoping we’d get a defensive coach for over 3 years now.

  141. That video of Coquelin shows some promising stuff. I like the way he passes the ball then moves.

    receive the ball
    find an open man
    fucking move!

    Also, he tracked back almost the entire pitch to save a goal (after he gave away possession)
    Finally, he played some really killer long passes.

  142. Dexter | September 22, 2011 at 11:26 pm
    Ah, you’re a better man than me George.

    I doubt that very much Dexter.
    But what makes you say so tonight?

  143. Bill I keep having to defend you,Some people don’t get you at all

  144. You are mate.

    You’re unbreakable, unshakeable faith to be precise.

    Good man! 😀

  145. Chill

    Coquelin is going to be a fucking star man, been following him for ages.

  146. My faith is in the manager rather than this particular carnation of Wengerball.
    But yes ,I am still 100% behind “he who does no wrong” as the red Indians might call him

  147. Chamberlain, could be a bigger player than Wilshere. I have a strange feeling about that. I think Cesc was wrong about having Wilshere as one of the best young players. We have another one in Chamberlain. He can play both central midfield but perhaps better on the wings. Theo will have to fight for his place very soon. I’ve never been this impressed with a player in a Carling cup. Not even Vela, who was quite good. Chamberlain will be class.

  148. well george you do like Tony Blair still although he led the country down the pan and has the blood of our great soldiers on his hands.

  149. Now I understand why we didn’t go too much for Mata. He’s not half a player as Chamberlain. No wonder Arsene finished this deal the quickest. Excellent business. Can’t wait to see Robin and him together, all guns blazing!

  150. We look pretty medicore at the moment George mate. Hope to see big improvements over the course of the season.

  151. Ateeb

    I thought the chavs just offered him 50% more wages man?

  152. Is tony blair still praying to the muslims that he doesnt burn in hell…no chance, he is going straight down there to burn for his lying smiling buggering bush up the arse decisions.

  153. Duke ,I do like Tony Blair,you are right.Apart from the God stuff

  154. I wonder who our defensive coach was in 2003/4. Did OK that season if I remember correctly.

  155. Coquelin strokes the ball about. Saying that he passes it sounds wrong. I’m very impressed with him.

  156. Come to think of it our defence was good in the 2005 FA Cup final to. Better than the attack that day.

    Fact is the team are not pressing the ball from the front when we lose it. Our midfield and attack need to press (using 2 or 3 players) to get the ball back quicker, before it reaches our defence.

  157. I have very high hopes for Coquelin. Watched him when he first joined and was impressed even then. He played midfield at first, then RB and now back to midfield.

  158. Those youtube videos are the first time I’ve ever seen someone play anything other than cheap house music over footage from Arsenal.

  159. Gb69,

    He’s one quick mobile, strong defensive and offensive player. Song will need to up his level to keep a palce in the team soon. And think Song’s been ready for such a challenge, his passing has improved as well. I think Arsene’s youth project laid it’s first seeds. WIlshere, Frimpong, Coquelin, Ramsey, while getting some from abroad like always, in Chamberlain. Some really excellent players who have gone through the system, and are finally enterting the first team. Would have been better with Cesc to lead, but RVP is total class. I think the players will perform. Theo might be a striker, when Chamberlain is there to feed him. Coquelin, is such an intelligent player, he would get into any EPL team as a starter, by next season. I guess this will be more of a prepatory year for these players. And you’ve got good stop gap players in Artete and Benayoun. Good decisions. You don’t fucking buy a Mata, when you got Chamberlain. There is only one Arsene Wenger!

  160. I watched him for the first time for France when they beat Spain to win the youth Euros. Then I watched him a bit on loan in L1. This is the first time I’ve ever seen him play for us. I think he’s going to be a special player. He’s dogged, determined and is a classy passer. He’s a playmaker in DM’s clothing.

    Who was the defensive coach for the first half of last season when we were dropping back into a 4-5-1? Who was the defensive coach for the Barcelona tie in the CL?

  161. Chelsea is thick. You don’t spend so much on Mata. I guess given Chamberlain’s talent, he wouldn’t have joined any team but Arsenal. Just like Ramsey, and Theo. It’s sad that players like Cesc and Nasri weren’t men enough to stick around a little longer. But that’s how things are. We will deal with it.

  162. You guys talk rubbish all day. Brighten up. We’ve got such a wonderful team that needs to be cheered.

  163. dupsff

    Thats all true mate, however, the defence has been poor for quite some time now and it doesnt look like getting any better. Thats a massive issue.

    For what its worth (zilch!) I think our formation needs tweaking. The 4-2-3-1 thang aint working and was only introduced so that Cesc could do his erm, thang too. No point keeping any more then.

    The lack of pressing obviously makes it a lot easier for opposition teams to get chances as well.

    The more the media and pundits call for Wenger to get a new number 2 and/or a defensive coach the less likely that will happen.

  164. G69

    Back when Arsenal had it’s own TV channel (Setanta) you could watch the live reserve games. That’s when I first watched Coquelin play. Even then he had some real bite in midfield. Never afraid to go in to a hard tackle.

  165. Yay our team rocks! Gooooooo team! 😀

  166. Coquelin will get his chance in January, if not sooner.

  167. Dexter

    We have not had a settled back for since Gallas, & TV played. It will take time for them to settle. Meanwhile the rest of the team need to up their work-rate in defending.

  168. Ateeb

    You’re not too averse to spouting kakadoodee too man.

  169. A Song you say?

  170. who nicked the ‘u’ from four?

  171. dupssf

    If only it were just down to that mate. Dont think it is. The complete lack of organisation at Blackburn was scary scary shit man. I was right behind the goal and it werent pretty!

    But, things can go only get better… Bet george loves that song! It was Tony B’s coming out tune back in 97 after all! 😀

  172. I’m happy for Cesc. To play in his dream team. And I guess, it was only right he was let go, for artistic reasons. That team just got better with Cesc. When they needed him, with Xavi aging and all. And frankly, I wouldn’t have liked the bastard child of another club hold the first trophy we win with project youth. The players will step up. We were ready for the season. Wilshere’s injury fucked us up bad. But we can see that we got players who will deal in absence very soon.

  173. When we finish the season in 9th place and RvP, Arshavin, Theo, Song and the rest all go their separate ways, then I’d be happy to see our 1st team full of the likes of;

    Szczesny, Bartley, Miquel, Gibbs, Frimpong, Coquelin, Wilshere, Ramsey, lansbury, Chamberlain, Afobe.

    Obviously ticket prices would have to be about a third of what they are now, but still. 😀

  174. I guess Song can deal with the thuggeries of the EPL. Actually make the most out of it. I think he will have his days as well. A lot to rotate. Play the Song.

  175. Did Cesc and Nasri let you down, Dexter? They’ve turned you into a pessimist.

  176. Ateeb

    Nasri moved to Citeh because they had passionate fans. Well the 25,000 that turned up for the CC might be passionate. Funny how the Sun never mentioned such a poor attendance at that council owned stadium.

  177. Cesc’s a selfish baby ateeb, nasri? Whose he again?

    But, sorry mostly because you still dont get sarcasm mate! 😀

    Your posts sound like the ravings of a loony on too much prozac, so I am a bit jealous I guess.

  178. Poor Dexter ,he has lost his soul.
    Perhaps those Winchester boy’s could get it back for him.

  179. Dups ,never mind the Sun, what about my pal John Cross?
    It seems he too missed it

  180. dupsff

    Then there was the rows of empty seats for the Champions league game too dont forget. You know? The competition they have never been involved in.

  181. Is that some Village People tribute band George?

  182. George

    That ream from your neck of the woods had 7,000 for the CC match. Brighton had as many as Citeh.

  183. Lol what with the Red Indians you mean?

  184. You’re doing sarcasm here these days, dexter? What happened to Muppet?

  185. Y M I Still Up!

  186. I know but it does not matter ,The fans voted apparently,all 47000 of them ,lol 🙂

  187. Dups,

    So it isn’t worth watching $500m worth of players these days?

    I guess we know we’re in safe hands.

  188. So Coyle is hard Selling Cahill claiming Arsenal will come back for him in January. Am I the only one who things Cahill is not a good player ? maybe he is not at fault for Bolton shipping so many gaols. I don’t know can someone tell me pls. Because I haven’t watched him closely enough. I think the pairing so far is Kos and Vermaelen, whenever they played together we looked solid.

    Regarding Fabregas, Barcelona have been shipping goals lately which explains Fabregas’s free role in the final third, in order to accomodate him Barcelona are playing 3 at the back , it looked hilarious at times against Valencia last night, vast amount of space at the back was opening up. surely they will not continue with that system all season, either Xavi, Fabregas or another midfieldr will have will drop to the bench,. Well I don’t care I just hope they win nothing this season.

  189. Whatever happened to him? probably got bored of his good work going unappreciated.

  190. Muppet is to busy on twitter these days.Fucking slacker.

  191. 1Lc,

    Despite their immature behavior, you can’t say they’re not a class team. The best players of this generation, playing together at their peak. Let’s see how long it will last. I think the challenge will come when our youngster’s start hitting their peak. Which I don’t think is too far, given their ages. Two to three years it will show. Perhap’s a bit longer. But we would be winning our way to the peak this time.

  192. 1lc

    Yeah, I saw Coyle doing his hard sell used car dealer act yet again. No wonder he is quick to say there’s no hard feelings between the clubs! Him and his tweetin twat of a chairman need as many clubs involved in a bidding war as possible. have you seen the outrageous links to Inter and barca of late? Pffft

    I am not even sure if he is top class really. Its hard to tell, I guess you’d need to watch a load of Bolton games, which I aint planning on doing any time soon, well Saturdays game doesnt count.

  193. 1LC.I dont think they have to accommodate Cesc whilst Inesta is out.
    Alves just forgets to defend sometimes

  194. Ateeb, I was less than impressed by Mata when Chelsea played against manure the other day. If you compare him to Gervinho our boy looks like an absolute steal.

    Le Coq is a pretty classy player. I wouldn’t rush out to buy M’Villa just yet if I were Wenger. Franny could very well be that new Flamini, all action all the time, type player we’ve been screaming for since that idiot left us to sit on the bench at Milan. The best part is that him, Wilshere and Frimpong all played together in the reserves.

  195. Also like Big Al’s, Bragging Rights Ltd. Some classic stuff from him.

  196. Cesc and Messi partnership seems like it will really bite other teams. They’re going telepathic.

    To think of it, I guess Vela might be the goal poacher we would need when Chamberlain can perform as good in the first team in the EPL. I hope that be the case.

  197. Lol.Ateeb makes me look like a doomer.

  198. True all dat Gains69.

    M’Villa is quality but a top notch attacking midfielder and/or striker would be a better use of funds imo.

    Oh and Gary Cahill obviously! How silly of me to forget him.

  199. Flamini was overrated.He just hit a purple patch when surrounded by 3 magicians.

  200. Alves is the most dangerous right back in the world. Who needs defending when you attack like that? Bit of a cheat though.


    He’s all action sort of player in his style. But technically far superior to Flamini. Coquelin can cross, pass, dribble as well. Very excited to see him more. Never seen M’Villa, thought he would be the internet hit of the summers. Don’t know. I want to see more of Gervinhio, still can’t make up my mind. He looks good so far.

  201. Ha! George, yep.

  202. Dexter- ha ha. it will be criminal to waste your time watching clips of Bolton.

    Ateeb- I feel Barcelona will hit the buffers this season. The amount of pressing they’ve done in the last couple of years will surely catch up with them. It is physically very demanding and I will be amazed if they can keep doing that stuff for years to come. they are only human, and fatigue will catch up with them. Maybe wishful thinking.

    Geoerge- where is Muppet?

  203. Ah George, now now. You know I would have taken him man. Me and my cousin both can’t me wrong now can we? 🙂

  204. Muppet is on twitter. Ha Ha. Anyone following Muppet’s sarcasm?

  205. well cant wait to see One of Us rip the piss out of know it all fans tomorrow

  206. Please, no more barca love in! Hate the cheating diving, feigning, imaginary crad brandishing cunts!

    Hopefully they will go tits up sooner rather than later.

  207. Muppet uses twitter to confuse the unsuspecting tweeters.He is a sell out.
    He has gone for the quick one liners.What a waste of talent 🙂

  208. Gains- Mata is not a Chelsea player, I heard the spanish pundit Balague saying Mata wanted to come to Arsenal first, he is well suited to our game but like you said Gervinho is an bsolute bargain. there one little thing that botheres me with his game. he is a fabulous player with tricks up his sleeve and sometimes he believes he can beat everyone in the stadium and going it alone and even beat the keeper, I’ll be screaming release the ball pleaaaaase, RVP was mad at him at Blackburn, all he had to do was pass the ball and RVP would finished it off but I guess you can’t take that out of him, he is so confident, one on ones he is very good.

  209. George what is his twitter name? It is not the @therealmuppet is it? 🙂

  210. Sorry its just

  211. Ha ha ha the green frog is fighting with Talksport. Legend

  212. george- I’m not into social networks or I should say anti-social networks at all. but i’ll get there soon

  213. george – I’ve just joined the anti-socials @1L00secann0n. you can be the first to follow me if you wish.

  214. 1lc I got there before George 🙂

  215. Yay I’ve got 1 follower. You are officailly the first- Sorry you don’t get a toaster or anything.

  216. George will follow soon enough.

  217. What’s the #FF thingy ?

  218. 1lc

    #FF means Follow Friday. It’s just a way of getting people to follow your account.

  219. Interview with Matt Law
    [audio src="" /]

  220. Did anyone hear Cameron last nite or read the Guardian ” we are staring down a barrel” ??
    World economy on the brink? Must suck for pundits to know for pundits when AW does know so much more than them.
    We are indeed heading into some defining months and that is not only footballwise.

  221. Poodle,
    Arsene is a football genius, but you must not have been following the news if you think his prediction of the looming economic meltdown is anything special!

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