Dust Yourselves Down And Get On With It

Morning all, thanks to Big Al for stepping in yesterday which allowed the hangovers to be cured in time for a trek home. Thankfully I have only seen the lowlights of Saturday’s defeat although I am sure that as he sits locked in his chains, Thomas Vermaelen is contemplating life’s cruelties before the firing squad takes aim.

Mistakes happen and as I mentioned in the preview of the game, this weekend was one the trickier one for Arsenal. Tottenham unsurprisingly took three points from their match with Swansea and could put the pressure on Arsenal by winning at Sunderland on Saturday lunchtime. The media love-in with ‘Arry is back in full flow, his side brimming with attacking zeal is the best to watch in the country apparently. So rampant has their attack been, that they only had to win by four goals to take third back with their scoring tally lower than Arsenal’s. Surely I need not remind anyone that League titles have been won by slimmer margins. Redknapp has targetted five wins from the remaining seven games as being enough to finish third. There is Arsenal’s target provided for them. Fifteen points.

Losing at QPR does not signal that Arsenal are a bad side. Far from it; all it means is that a sub-par performance happened. From the reports and brief ‘action’ I have seen, Vermaelen’s slips were a direct root of the goal but were compounded by other mistakes, the midfield not tracking Diakite’s winner for example. It seems that the energy of previous weeks was missing. Perhaps this is the wake-up call that the squad – and manager – needed; very much a work-in-progress not the finished article, the full recovery not quite achieved. Crucially, they have a week to look at themselves and ask pertinent questions of their own and others performances.

Arsène will be doing so,

We have to take the distance with that and put things into perspective. We have to go back to basics; that means to win football games and win your fights first. We have to play like we do. It is disappointing to lose a big run in the way that we did it here. At the end of the day the result does not lie. The focus was missing a little bit and the way we conceded the goals [was disappointing]. I felt that we lacked something, I do not deny that. 

Putting things into perspective is something that supporters have lacked this season, knees continue to jerk quickly. It is not surprising to some extent with some scarred worse than the players by the season’s opening and January performances. Tougher mental strength from the squad is required and in this sense, you feel the squad are well-equipped to deal with the defeat at QPR. They have after all, been here before.

The manager summed it up succinctly,

We have been consistent recently and you have to give credit to the team. But in this game we were poor and we were not good enough.

And that is, until proven otherwise, what it is in all it’s glory. A one-off. Another poor performance against Manchester City and it is more of an issue. Robin van Persie is unconvinced that will happen,

We have seven more games to play and I believe we can come third. It won’t be easy, everyone is fighting for every point and our opportunity is next week against Man City. We have to go for it and believe and we will. It is a shame we have to wait eight days for the game against Manchester City but it is how it is. It is a big blow but we have to look forward and the next one is a big one.

Everyone is disappointed but towards the end of the week I am sure the spirit will be how it was. We’ll have a couple of days to be disappointed but after that our focus is on Manchester City. They are second but drew against Sunderland so they will need the points. We have seven big games to play but if you look at the big name teams then we have City and Chelsea. 

It is an unexpected advantage of the European exit that this week sees Arsenal free. The players can feel sorry for themselves if they want to before turning their attentions to next weekend. The matches against Chelsea and City are crucial. Tottenham’s bragging about how they are over their recent loss of form would be silenced with six points for Arsenal in those two games. Forget about chasing down second, that was always a fanciful pipedream with the collapse required by the Mancunians greater than they produced in 1972-73.

To finish third sends an important message to the rest of the division. Yes, this Arsenal squad is not The Invincibles of 2003-04 but with judicious strengthening in the summer, they are capable of challenging for silverware next year.

In the meantime,

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on April 2, 2012, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 119 Comments.

  1. Normal business is really resumed, isn’t it? Me posting, BigBrovar first in commenting.

  2. Normal service in all respects YW, if we are to go by SV’s pearl of wisdom at 10:02 am:
    “Wenger would prefer 4-th place, not 3-rd, because the additional CL qualifiers in August bring more revenue.”
    As I said then, this is a post that needs to be reproduced, enlarged, printed and hung in an asylum. Talk of paranoia by a fan who appears normal in most of his writings. Found out at the 1st wobble…

  3. Very disappointed with our lack lustre performance on Saturday, however as you say Yogi perhaps the wake up call we needed. Next up Citeh . . . come on you reds!!!

  4. Still very disappointed by the result, and much more so by the manner of the defeat. One week of preparations, a fully fit squad, no long journey, opposition not spectacular, ok refereeing… Not many excuses.

    The fact that, as admitted by the manager, the third place and with it the guaranteed top European football is not motivational for the team to fight is mind blowing.

    On the other hand, the run ins of the previous seasons were full of beach like performances with the season and result pressure being too long for both the manager and the players.

    So, here is an ironic theory.

    Wenger would prefer 4-th place, not 3-rd, because the additional CL qualifiers in August bring more revenue. He also gambles on Chelsea not winning the CL this year. If they do win it, the 4-th place will be useless.

    May be someone has a better explanation as to why the team would find it difficult to get motivated to fight for the 3-rd place?

  5. Or……..

    We just didn’t play that well and QPR did. Simple really and no great anaylsis needed.

  6. The other thing that struck me most post Saturday was the universal desire by most bloggers (except Birdkamp obviously) to find some scapegoat. YW implies that Vermaelen is somewhere on death’s row but I beg to differ. Ramsey and Wenger are figuratively on the gallows.

    Wenger is not above criticism but I cannot take with any seriousness criticism of a man who has practised his craft at the very pinnacle of the game for nearly 30 years by armchair critics, most of whom never played or coached at a professional level. Ramsey on the left was a tactical mistake? Give me a break.

  7. Shotta – I do think Ramsey on the left was a mistake. But that is not the reason we lost the game. We have been really effective over the past 7 games with 2 wide men. Why change it? Like I said, that was not the reason for the result though.

  8. Want that on a shirt!

  9. it certainly is a ‘break out’ season for the spuds. They have finally risen above mid table mediocrity for the first time in decades. In fact since the last time they finished top middle of the last century. Most of those who support the chicken on a basketball were not even born then. The rest, too old to remember. Harry won’t be alive the next time (?) they win the league. By then there will be a galactic league, traveling to away games by space ship.

  10. Shotta

    >YW implies that Vermaelen is somewhere on death’s row but I beg to differ. Ramsey and Wenger are figuratively on the gallows.

    No, I was mocking the overreaction to his mistake and slip.

  11. YW, I feel most fans are disappointed not with the defeat but the lack of fight we showed. I personally feel we looked a bit nervous, especially in defence which is surprising because of well they have played together recently. Do you think maybe the pitch played a big part in creating that? We’ve had the same problem at Sunderland and Milan recently, have we developed some sort of a mental block, expecting the worst on pitches that are not suited to our play?

  12. jumpingpolarbear

    Just when they were on a roll. But you can’t win them all. If they play like they have the last month, things are looking better at Emirates!

  13. ???

    There was nothing at all wrong with the pitch.

  14. Maverick

    I don’t think the defeat at Sunderland was the pitch; we were OK until injuries affected our play. Milan, yes. QPR? Shit happens!!!!

  15. i don’t want to make an excuse, but I want to find a reason, and I feel the reason is the pitch – arsenal, on recent form, have trouble on bad pitches. the last bad pitches we played on, at milan and at sunderland, were or worst games in months.

    it should not be a surprise perhaps – we are a team built on speed of ball movement and ball control. on a bad pitch, what we are made to do becomes impossible, or at least much harder.

    like using an F1 car on a dirt road.

    I think that is why ramsey played. not exactly Plan B, but Plan A plus, lock down the midfield some. what we really need is a true plan B we trust….if any striker beyond vp were playing well we might have that.

    as it is I expect us to rebound against city. the emirates is a different story, the grounds finally becoming what it is meant to be, a perfect compliment to our team and it’s style of play.

    And city are a team in turmoil. we always focus on our own weakness but city draw at home to sunderland was worse than our loss. they were fighting for the title. they are fighting among themselves instead, and silva has gone of the boil….they are looking insipid and fragile mentally…..and nervous. a loss to us could see them 8 points back of united. their team unity was based on being in the lead. with that gone the fighting among a squad of the most overpaid egos will come to fore. mario, carlos….that is not a team but a circus waiting to explode. talented but volatile….

  16. Losing didn’t annoy me as much as losing to a Mark Hughes team with Joey Barton in it. Scumbags.

    The second half was the kind of situation where you’d have liked to have Diaby as an option. We were a bit short of ideas. Gervinho coming on made sense, but maybe someone like Diaby in the middle would have had more joy unlocking QPR.

  17. You should copyright that main post image YW and get it sold to AFC; I’ve no doubt it would be an enormous best seller! Not just on shirts but all the other gubbins they sell. Excellent.


    Only saw the selective highlights courtesy of the BBC which I can’t bring myself to trust these days as they rarely seem to convey the true spirit of any game when I compare to a match I’ve just seen ‘in the flesh’, as it were.

    Obviously TV (Tom Verm, not the BBC) doesn’t deserve shooting (and I get it YW was being ironic) but if he did deserve serious censure there would be two groups ahead of him in the firing line:

    1. The players of QPR, capable of a performance like that yet clearly flirting with relegation; where have THEY been all season

    2. The knee-jerking Doomers who’s reappearance, as welcome as snow at Easter, never fail to re-emerge blinking into the sunlight at the first sign of any set back. I seriously doubt if even half of these lunatics are actual fans of AFC, merely wind up merchants from the Land of Trolls, and responsible for so much of the enhancements to our daily lives that only the internet can bring.

    Yep, we clearly had a bad day at the office and it no doubt spurred Spuds on against the Swans but I had a bad day at the office on at least one occasion last week and you know what? It was a one-off, and there was no need to panic. Bound to be other days like it in the future. But I’m gonna


    Great post and hope the hangover has cleared.

  18. Nando – But there was nothing wrong with the pitch.

    And further to that, if you are suggesting that we can only perform when all the elements which make up a goame of football have to be just “so”, then I would suggest we are a terminally flawed side.

    As it is, I don’t believe that is the case. We just did not play very well, as YW mentioned, shit happens. We will have played on worse pitches this season and won. Nobody mentioned the pitch then. Why does sthere always have to be an excuse? Sometimes people make errors and sometimes the team just does not click, it is no big deal and is the same for every side.

  19. @goonerrandy – not making an excuse mate, just discussing whether there is a possibility that the pitch may have played a part. Surely the pitch did play a part in our loss to Milan. I agree with you, the performance was not up to scratch and I was only stating my view on one of the reasons that may have contributed to it.

    @nando – I wouldn’t make too much of City’s problems, they have world class players that can hurt us if we switch off like we did against QPR. Let’s hope RvP and Co. come out firing on Sunday. While it would still pain me to see Manure crowned champions again, it will be sweet pleasure to know Nasri ends up with nothing.

  20. The pitch was rubbish, GA. Where do you think TV’s slip came from? The surface was already very loose it had been clearly given special treatment before hand. As long as it’s still legal we can’t complain much about QPR doing everything they can to make it tough for us. It’s still a mitigating factor for the performance though.

    We have played on a worse pitch and won, but it was the dreadful turf at Sunderland, and it was a win that took a lot out of us. Fortunately for us our game is conducive to more PL pitches than any before. At least three quarters are in fantastic shape these days. That wasn’t one. Probably the second worse one we’ve played on in the league this season.

  21. Bidkamp – Garbage, the pitch was fine. The ball was not bobblin around or anything. Nor was it cutting up all over the place. TV5 slipped, so what?


    Maverick – Fair enough, but even if that were the case, if we can’t play on anything but a pitch 100% to our game we are going have problems no?

  22. The QPR pitch is in no way comparable to what was an offer at the Stadium of Plough and the specially-prepared pitch Milan had on offer for us. However, the QPR pitch made the ball travel visibly slower, so I guess that they probably didn’t cut the grass or something. Not as much of an interference, but if you are used to playing quickly and the ball takes even half a second more to arrive at your feet when the ball is played it will make an impact, no matter how small.

  23. No surprise to see the media queueing up to put the boot in at the first opportunity – we had a bad performance, no big deal one would think, but calm heads and perspective are not filling column inches. What’s better than oscillating between extremes? We haven’t gone from being incredible to unutterable – this was never going to be an easy tie and the nature of the game is such that one or two mistakes can be very costly.

    A loss after 7 wins is indicative of very little. What’s of more importance is how we respond.

  24. GA, the ball sure was bobbling around, and the turf definitely was cutting up. The point is that Vermaelen’s slip wasn’t isolated, and illustrates the state of the surface – there were players slipping all over the place. Obviously didn’t keep a count but there maybe ten or more, especially down that end of the pitch. Advantage goes to QPR as it’s their home ground. They’ll be more used to playing on it and know Arsenal will be less accustomed.

  25. As I said before, it’s an excuse that can’t really be used that often these days. Usually the only one in England worth worrying about is Stoke’s because they keep it at rugby length, which holds the ball up and makes it much more difficult for a side that wants to get it down.

  26. Bidkamp – Really mate, it is pretty sad and embarrassing you are clinging onto that. If there were any issues with the pitch you can be 100% certain sure that Arsene would have brought it up. But he didn’t. Because there wasn’t.

    After TV5’s slip an unmarked player on the adge of the area scored. That is the reason we conceeded. Strange how he didn’t slip (my bad, he is used to the pitch, I forgot). For the first he got done by a decent piece of skill.

  27. With that string of wins I think some people were guilty of seeing the weeks ahead as a stroll – a view the media encouraged. We have to fight for third – every step of the way. With this team I am confident it won’t be for lack of trying if we fail.

    Huge weekend ahead eh?

  28. Also the whole pitch situation is not an isolated matter that only affects us. Barca often struggle with bad pitches as well away from home, something even good ol’ Jose tried to use to his advantage, though he failed. But most often below par performances from Barca this season in the league happened on away grounds with pitches not up to the standard required to play a quick passing game. While teams should be able to adapt to any conditions thrown at them in theory, if practically speaking even “the best team in the world” can be disrupted by a bad pitch, surely it can’t be denied that it can make a difference or at least have an effect on the outcome of the game?

  29. Evil – But that does not really hold much water. Barca strolled the lge for the past few years.

    If a pitch is a complete 80’s style mudfest then fair enough, but that is not normally the case. It certainly wasn’t at QPR for us. And as I mentioned earlier, if we are a team that need the conditions to be just right we have a serisou and fundemental flaw in the side.

  30. Scapegoat roulette is in full flow. Ramsey is lead contender at the moment but TV has put himself in the window as a future contender.

    It’s about time someone started on that twat RVP – I mean when was the last time he found the net?

    Personally I blame Wilshere – his lack of contribution this season has been incredible. Once again we saw nothing from him yesterday.


    So selfish.

  31. Wow, you’re really getting riled about this, GA. I don’t know why you’d have a problem with fans trying to defend the team.

    As far as excuses go, it’s far more reasonable than some of the stuff you read about referee conspiracies. It relates to the way we play football. It’s just sensible that a poor pitch will hinder our game. AW did comment on the pitch, and had it right after the game against QPR, as he did against Milan – his point was that pitch was crap, but so were we.

    As for Diakite being unmarked. He started his run forward before the slip, which was a bit of a gamble that paid off. When Mackie had the ball on the right side of the pitch outside the area, with only one player to find inside it (I think), I’d say we were in a pretty safe situation and one that didn’t require midfielders rushing back. Especially considering that we were pushing for the lead at the time.

    Let’s say Vermaelen had’t slipped, and had won possession for Gibbs to start a counter. Diakite would have been well out of position. As it was things turned out in his favour.

  32. @GA
    Yes, they have, but they have still on numerous occasions over the past few years complained about pitches (even after they’ve won games) which didn’t suit them.

    You are simply avoiding to acknowledge that even letting the grass grow or avoiding to water the pitch properly can affect play. It doesn’t have to be a brown pitch devoid of any patches of green for it to be a bad one.

  33. Birdkamp – “Wow, you’re really getting riled about this, GA. I don’t know why you’d have a problem with fans trying to defend the team.

    As far as excuses go, it’s far more reasonable than some of the stuff you read about referee conspiracies.”

    It does bug me that people always look for some sort of outside influence to why we would lose a game. There is nothing wrong with playing badly every now and again. It bugs me (I suppose) that people always need an excuse. Thankfully the team don’t have this mindset or they would never improve and would spend all day feeling sorry for themselves.

    Heh, but you are right. It does hold more water than some of the quite paranoid conspiracies people subscibe to 🙂

  34. @goonerandy – actually, Arsene did say the pitch was bad (http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/-what-we-produced-was-just-not-good-enough-) but he also admitted that our performance did not warrant a positive result. What a lot us are saying is that maybe, just maybe the pitch quality affects our performance. That view may be wrong in your opinion, but there’s no reason to be so defensive about it, is there mate? This is not an over-reaction to the defeat that you seem to be implying it is.

  35. we lost because we couldt play well enough with ramsey in the team, and to play him on the wing, what a joke. too many games, sub-conscious that, wenger, pick the best players and we will win simple, continue to play a boy with a lack of pace, awareness and mix him with arteta, there ya go

  36. Evil – “Yes, they have, but they have still on numerous occasions over the past few years complained about pitches (even after they’ve won games) which didn’t suit them.

    You are simply avoiding to acknowledge that even letting the grass grow or avoiding to water the pitch properly can affect play. It doesn’t have to be a brown pitch devoid of any patches of green for it to be a bad one.

    And you don’t think that makes them sound like whingers?

    I am not avoiding the effect of a pitch on a side, but am am stopping short of blaming it for a result (unless it is a complete cow field). If the ball is bobbling all over the place and getting stuck in mud fair enough. But how often does that happen?

  37. It’s our job to overcome the odds. Differing quality of pitches is part of the game. Always has been. Adapt, overcome and find a way – that’s the job.

    We shouldn’t be looking to excuses to rescue what was a slightly sub-standard performance against difficult opposition.

  38. No worries, GA. We weren’t good and could have played much better, iffy pitch or not. Either way, I don’t think we need to have the same midset as the players or boss. I don’t mind making excuses, but I’d hate to hear the players or manager making them too often.

    I think the analysis going round of the Diakite goal is misleading and really harsh on the Arsenal midfield. That bothered me this morning. As I saw it, it manipulated what was to me an unfortunate sequence of events, into a glaring error by our players. Which I’m quite sure it wasn’t.

  39. Maverick – Ah, my bad. But in the same sentence he says it did not impact on our performence.

    Does the pitch not effect everbodies performce though. We are not the only team in the lge that passes the ball? If the manager says the pitch did not effect our performce that is good enough for me. He above anybody, would be complaining if there were grounds.

  40. I think Wenger’s aware of his reputation and how statements can be reinterpreted and used against him. Recently when we’ve lost he’s kept his thoughts about factors beyond the side’s control to himself and focussed on the performance of the players, albeit as a group and not individuals. He never used to do that. I reckon it’s because the players in this team are a bit older and would probably respond better to public criticism than the teams over the last five years.

  41. Birdkamp – “No worries, GA. We weren’t good and could have played much better, iffy pitch or not. Either way, I don’t think we need to have the same midset as the players or boss. I don’t mind making excuses, but I’d hate to hear the players or manager making them too often.

    I think the analysis going round of the Diakite goal is misleading and really harsh on the Arsenal midfield. That bothered me this morning. As I saw it, it manipulated what was to me an unfortunate sequence of events, into a glaring error by our players. Which I’m quite sure it wasn’t.

    Both fair points.

    I must admit, when things go wrong for us my first thoughts are “what could we have done differently?”

  42. It’s doesn’t matter if the pitch was bad or not. A loss is a loss, there’s no excuses and no scapegoats. This loss was a timely wake-up call before the Citeh game this Sunday. Complacency can cause us points, and I hope our boys learned something. I hope the lads will shift and focus on the game at hand vs. Citeh, where it’s a must-win game for both squads.

  43. @birdkamp, 12:29 pm

    That about Diakite’s run starting before Vermaelen’s slip just highlights the below-par performance on Saturday. He’s gambling that the ball will come into the box, our midfielders should be expecting Vermaelen to get beaten (or slip) and be there to cover him and snuff out the danger. There’s no substitute for full concentration and hard work.

  44. Thanks, Boomer. We’ve missed your equally perceptive insights into how we won 7 on the trot.

    For the stats buffs, we are 4 points ahead of where we were from the same matches last season (with a 3 goal better goal difference).

    The remaining 7 games yielded 4 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss (at Stoke) last year. If we could repeat that, it would in all probability be enough to win 3rd place. It’s still a tough call, though. What it does mean is that ManC is not a must-win game. Though a win (or at least a draw) would certainly help to calm the nerves.

  45. Merlot – Yeah, I would agree with that. The Chelsea game will be far more significant.

  46. @ Hello 1-00 pm

    Agree 100%!!

  47. Yogi. Nice post. Big al did a superb job in your absence.

    The reason people over react to any loss is because of the clubs recent history. Our pattern for the last several years has been to follow good runs like we just finished with a run of poor games. Perhaps it’s not fair to paint this group with the same brush as the teams from the last few years but it’s impossible not to at least consider the possibility that “here we go again”. If the team comes back and finishes the season strong this year and finishes 3rd place then next season it will be a little easier to not get as worried. Every team has games like saturday but in the past they have often not been a one off for us I really think this squad is made of stronger stuff so I expect us to rebound next weekend against city.

    A little surprised to hear complaints about the pitch. We have been making excuses like that for years. I understand the idea of trying to shift blame and maintain the players confidence but in reality that strategy has not worked. The idea that players need to be nurtured and shielded from criticism seemed logical but the reality was that at least with the last golden generation it had to be a factor in the complacency we all felt from them. Even young players have to take responsibility for bad performances. I guess that’s part of the reason I hate the ref conspiracy thing so much. Oh well I guess we all have our own way off dealing with this sort of stuff.

    If we get back to winning starting next week the QPR game will be forgotten.

  48. Indeed he did, Bill, indeed he did.

    Can those moaning about Vermaelen please visit the link below and see how bad central defenders can be.


  49. TV5 has put enough good games for us to be excused the odd bad performce I think.

  50. Clerkenwell Gooner

    Interesting stat, Merlot, re: our table position last year. So progress of sorts is being made. Given the phenomenal changes our side has undergone, and the poor start, which has been compounded by the loss of Wilshere and most of our defence at various points, it is an achievement to be where we are.

    Beating City next weekend can only add to that. I was at the Carling Cup game when we lost to City 1-0 in November, to a late goal, played out from the back. That night, we fielded four kids – Miquel, Coquelin, Frimpong, and the Ox – against a team of Nasri, Johnson, Dzeko, Kolarov, and Agüero, who came on after half-an-hour, and it was still a very even contest.

    City are a team in a moderate amount of torment right now, most of it self-inflicted. Plus, Silva seems to be knackered (or else is trying to conserve himself/recover from an ankle knock in time to be selected for Spain at the Euros). But they are dangerous, no doubt. Tevez, Balotelli, Agüero have masses of goals between them (although 30 less than Réal Madrid). Our defence simply must step up.

    Will Santos get the nod over Gibbs for this one, I wonder?

  51. Merlot.

    I think next weekend against city is a must not lose game. A draw would not be a ideal but would be acceptable result. A loss would not be a mathematical disaster because we would still be ahead of Chelsea and Newcastle but it might be very mentally damaging. We have not played as well away from home and we need to get results from all of our remaining home games.

  52. I have a slightly different view on the Diakite goal..yes nobody tracked him, but I remember that TV was odds on to be first to the ball, in which case Song and Arteta were in position for the out ball to start our counter-attack, it was a time in the game when both teams were gambling a bit and going for the win. If TV had routinely played it out then it was Diakite who was out of position giving our midfielders the space to pick a pass, I guess 9 out of 10 times you would expect TV to get that out and it was an unfortunate slip which gave no time for any of our midfielders to react. I do not quite agree with the they should have expected a slip theory because if players do that every time, we would never be able to counter…

    An interesting parallel exists in Cricket – “you can never set fields for bad bowling”

  53. @Anirudh
    Took another look at the goal and you are pretty much spot-on. In most cases TV would’ve been able to win that ball or at least clear it as he was better positioned. In that context, it was probably right of the team to wait in expectance of a possible counter chance. Unfortunately he slipped and the rest is in the result..

  54. Anirudh

    If our players made a conscious decision not to track diakite’s run then either they need a big time butt kicking or if that is our team’s philosophy then the boss needs to have his butt kicked. There are dozens of possible ways besides a slip including a bad bounce or a mis played pass that could have scuttled a counter attack and ignoring defensive responsibility in the the hope of starting a counter attack that might not have worked anyway is crazy.

  55. Bill

    I am in no way saying it was a conscious decision or a part of the teams philosophy but sometimes in a split second decision you make an assessment that there is no threat or that the bigger danger is from the clearance or the “second ball” so to speak and you position yourself accordingly..

    Take a close look at the goal and you will see that there seemed no way (except a disastrous slip of course) that ball would reach the QPR player.it was TV’s ball through and through and in that instant unfortunately the midfielders made a decision to cover the “second ball” , unfortunately the disastrous slip happened and the goal was conceded..

    Tell me when you see a ball going towards your center half, not a particularly high ball, a ball along the ground, and the center half 999 times out of a 1000 will get that ball..would you anticipate a total slip or be in position for the ball out?

  56. will the thrill

    “ignoring defensive responsibility in the the hope of starting a counter attack that might not have worked anyway is crazy.”

    har har Bill. It is called taking a risk dude. Arshavin does it all the time and he produces goals and assists. More goals and assists than the “i am not going to ignore defensive responsibility because I play for stoke city” player.

    Golly, you sure do love your defense.

  57. will the thrill

    I agree with Anirudh. The lack of midfield cover stems from said midfielder’s trust in TV5/Kos

  58. pedantic george

    If the pitch is poor ,the grass long ,then it puts us at a disadvantage.Simply because it effects or passing game more than any other team (bar the Swans perhaps).
    That is not an excuse its a fact,And if people are to stupid to understand that the worse the conditions the more it favours the lesser team,then why the fuck do you bother debating with the dimwits?
    Should we still win? YES. in fact FUCK YES
    But only an idiot does not accept that you cant play great on a shjt pitch.

  59. Goonerandy,

    Wenger did say the pitch was bad – his exact line was:

    “The pitch was bad but it does not explain our performance. We did not create enough to win a football game,”

    It was obvious watching the match – the ball was just not moving. short quick passes were not coming off….

    I’m not saying that a bad pitch is an excuse for losing – rather that it is a reason we lost. Arsenal should be able to handle a dodgy pitch, but unfortunately we can’t all that well. It is not a surprise that teams allow the grass to get longer (or in Milans case, just cut it up) – as Evil said, so long as it is legal, they will do it to get a homefield advantage.

    I think this arsenal team is a newly created beast – Wenger has done an amazing job molding them as quickly as he has, but he has not yet created a plan B – With Bendtner and Chamach not playing, we lack an alternative for games like this where our passing game is obviously not producing results.

  60. pedantic george

    Nando.Perhaps we should play Chamakh with AOC and Santos out wide as they seem the best crosser’s of the ball .And let RVP play in place of TV7 .Also as Gibbs and Sagna seem to be putting it in better these days .
    But hey!As if Arsene hasn’t already thought of that.So perhaps not then.

  61. Anirudh.

    I think our midfield made a mistakke and didnt track him. It happens. TV is going to get that ball under control a majority of the time but certainly not 99% of the time. If he already had control of the ball then you can release but I can’t really believe that any team would not consider it a big mistake to let an opposing player unmarked in the box when we don’t have control of the ball. There are many other ways besides a slip that the ball could have gotten loose and cost us a goal.

  62. Bill

    Actually that is my contention..in that case only a slip would have lead to a goal scoring opportunity..

  63. M’ Villa dropping hints he wants a phone call from Arsene. Go on Professor give the kid a ring.

  64. pedantic george

    I will talk to myself then.Fuck it..

  65. Anirudh.

    Truth is that same thing probably happens much more often then we know and most times it does not get punished. Ideally someone should always track a run like that but realistically if they did everything exactly perfect they would probably run out of gas by half time. Does not mean it wasnt a mistake but it’s easy to understand why it happens.

  66. will the thrill

    George- even when Chamakh is in the game we seem to stick to the passing game.

  67. I agree with George. 😆

  68. Bill

    Yes and there would be no goals scored if perfection existed…

    We really seem to have lost the ability to draw games away from home…Fulham, Swansea, QPR..we would have had 3 points more..

  69. pedantic george

    I had not noticed that Will.
    Actually I had,that why I suggested the two complementary players.

  70. will the thrill

    but I agree that the crossing seems pretty well improved. Sometimes it seems fruitless because A) RVP is the only guy in the box
    B) We have multiple players in the box, but they are all short or medium height midfielders

    On another note, did you notice TV5 making frequent charges up the field? That guy plays at only one speed. His tendency to press his markers can cause problems sometimes, but he more than makes up for it with his forward contributions.

  71. pedantic,

    Wenger does not seem to like changing shape much – certainly nothing as radical as you suggest. And he obviously does not rate Chamach at the moment. On a dodgier pitch you need more strength though – were Diaby healthy I could see him playing. Were Podolski on the team, I could see him as well. And AOC certainly – he is built, the young man…..

    but that is for next year. For this next match, the key is the game is in the Emirates.

    @Maverick – world class players Man City may have, but they are players in perpetual discontent, who are not playing for anything in particular. None of them is getting a new contract anytime soon, all are living in Manchester and making huge wages. They were fighting for a place up to now, and a title. Mancini will be let go come end of season, and if they are 8 points behind by kickoff there could well be a lack of unity about them….

    Balotelli at least might punch someone on his team maybe….

  72. pedantic george

    Anirudh,Are you a mathematician?

  73. Hello PG.

    How are you upon this fine day?
    *takes deep breath*
    I’ve just found out I’ll be going back to N17 to work for a bit. Which is not good news.

    The thing about Lumpology and the Case for the Defence that I don’t quite understand is that Koscielny wins the most headers this season but it is all thanks to Per? The squad will be given some credit for the recent run by lumpologists because Per is now in the squad even though he’s been out injured during most if not all of those games. But a previous good run, in fact the best defensive run since 04, that twenty game unbeaten run in Song and Denislon’s rookie season was given no credit at all at the time. Indeed, poor old injured Senderos, the player who was good enough to play for a team on a run to a CL final with a great D-fensive record, but not good enough to be 3rd or fourth choice CB for The Arsenal, that poor lad was airbrushed out of existence. Anyway, this wasn’t the first time that TV5 has gone AWOL *squints his eyes and forgets the two recent winners. “FFS track back!”*
    He’s rubbish. Weng, sort it out.

    The answer is obvious: One requires two lumps. Not one.

  74. Paulie Walnuts

    You can lose any game if you`re not 100 % focussed.

    We`ve won on cabbage patches & lost on bowling greens.

    It`s gone now & City are up next. The whole team will need to defend well in that one. Going to be interesting to see our starting XI. It wouldn`t surprise me if Arsene brings Benny in like he did versus the Spuds No One Likes.

  75. “The answer is obvious: One requires two lumps. Not one.”

    Always preferred 2 lumps myself.

  76. Thanks Yogi!

    Finsbury, I know that Per is class but to defend from the sidelines or from home is taking it to a whole different level. Blow wow!

    That CL team with Senderos, still holds the record for the least amount of goals conceded, if I am not mistaken.

  77. will the thrill

    @Paulie Walnuts. I agree with your statement about Benny_da_goon. Personally I think that it is very evident that Benayoun is of a higher caliber than Ramsey. Yossi plays on the the higher plane where RVP and Rosicky live. The ball control and passing are much quicker. If we use this “formation/strategy” again, I would like to see Benayoun rather than Ramsey. That being said, Wenger must see something in the training sessions that makes him choose Aaron over Yossi.

    Aaron seems a bit unsure of himself. His ball control has yet to become second nature.

    When the ball is passed to either RVP/Rosicky, they don’t worry about control. If needed, they take a touch to move into space, otherwise they pass the ball quickly. With Ramsey, it seems like he really has to focus on controlling the ball, then surveying the field, then moving the ball along. Someone should tell Ramsey to watch a tape of Rosicky’s play, then do his best impression.

  78. @will
    And that’s why it’s important to have Rosicky for another couple of years. All the youngsters coming through can learn so much from a world class player like him, it’ll do them worlds of good. They’ll profit from having a mentor that some of our other youth players that ultimately didn’t make it or just fell short of goal didn’t have. And I think that even players like Song or Diaby, who did make it, would’ve profited from having someone at the club in their earlier years to teach them a thing or two.

  79. will the thrill

    Sir Evil. I totally agree.

    “Rosicky = deadwood” I laugh at those idiots! (through the internet of course) in the same manner that i laugh at those who doubt the presence of Diaby in the squad.

    In regards to formations, tactics, player substitutions, I read people saying “when will wenger ever learn??”

    here is my rebuttle question: “When will you learn to shut the f** up and realize that playing 1 player out of his favored position or 1 man slipping doesn’t cost us the game?? The final score of the game is a summation of 90+ minutes and even more than 90 variables”

  80. Well, some people obviously don’t have enough to do. Me, I’m building fences. new chicken sheds, looking after young plants and generally making the most of the weather to get things done.

    Shame we lost but the debates asto why, well, go back and read them if you have time and nothing better to do. Blame the pitch, TV, the hand of god? No. just one of those days which we have seen every team have over the years. Every defeat is not a crisis, every victory does not make us world beaters.

    This team is not the finished article, it will not win a title – yet. We will drop points between now and season’s end as will everybody else. Third would be a fantastic performance, fourth would be above many people’s expectations at season’s start, including mine.

    Bring on the rest of the season. We’ll know more after that.

    I bought the wrong netting for our new chicken enclosure. Now that was stupid and ridiculous.

  81. Will

    Aaron has great potential but I agree that at this point we have players who are more effective at the positions he plays. Perhaps that won’t be true in another year or two. Our fixture list is not crowded and no real need to rotate so we should not be playing anyone other then our best team the last 7 games.

  82. are we really still on about the defence..??

    really?? i suppose everyone has their own opinion but heres mine…again.. 😉

    for a start, yes senderos was part of that great CL defence, but so was eboue and where are they playing now?? they werent exactley setting the world alight..milan who have a history of great defenders as much as we do over the years didnt want senderos permanently, so he really wasnt that good….and i feel people totally oversee the fact that the 06 team still had a boat load of invincible trophy winners in it..world class professionals who knew how to win..
    so im sure senderos found it easier being protected by bertie…

    yes denilson and song were the lynchpins in the 21 game unbeaten run..half of them were draws though mate..we were in 6th..its the reason we bought arshavin isnt it..?? so lets not get too excited eh??

    yes, BFG has not been a regular feature in the amazing 7 game winning streak ( which i think is one less than the invincibles?) he got injured in the second game..but he was a regular in the 5 game winning streak which got us back to top 6th from 17th..which aint too bad either

    point being..hes better than most defenders weve signed recently and hes different from most defenders weve signed recently..call him whatever you want, stopper, clogger, lumper, whatever..
    hes a proper CB..he wasnt trained to be one over the years via other positions like alot of ball playing CB’s are.
    which is why he looks so calm and composed when hes defending..he really knows what hes doing…hes got zero acceleration so its not recovery defending..he reads the danger and he gets himself sorted and he lets the others know whats happening as well..for a guy of his size and speed, to play the way he has, when we throw everyone forward and play a high line, hes been pretty fucking shit hot..

    and now we have three of europes top quality CB’s who can all play with eachother or rotated or even take the batton when the other ones injured and we can go on 5-6-7 game winning streaks with any of them in the team at any time..

    when was the last time we said that about the defence?? honestly..??

  83. good post yogi..
    welcome back to the mad house..

  84. will the thrill

    hah JJ. yes we are still bickering. I am sitting in class and it is boring as hell. I would much rather be chatting about footy.

    The defense is carving out a shape. Kos has most often been the covering defender, with TV5 pressing as high a f**king possible. Sagna covers insane distance on the right flank, and Gibbs is most often the furthest player forward on the left side. You can call it a back four but that is not accurate. It is more of a back 1-1-1-1.


    how is that for a sound defense Bill?? 🙂

  85. will the thrill

    Bill i agree about the squad rotation. we should see this lineup for the rest of the season.



  86. will the thrill

    but most likely we will see some variations, I don’t know much compared to Le Pre-fess-ear

  87. will the thrill..

    that formation makes you look like you are a sandwich short of a picnic, but to tell the truth theres method in the madness in all of it and you not far wrong.. 😉

  88. just when you think a team has it all, it falls.

    That is what was so special about the Invincibles.

    Whether the spuds advance further next week or not, we have to just keep going forward. A blip is not a losing streak, neither is losing one of the toughest games of the season next weekend.

    That will be a test of this squad though.

  89. I bored so I am going to correct JJ. lol

    The point is JJ that Per is not the only reason why we are defending better, and overall, he does not do what many claimed we needed.

    Let me defend Eboue, he was very good when he was our starting RB and I saw no need for a change. Where he is now is irrelevant. And lest we forget, with all the leaders you claim we had in that CL team, it was the first time we got to the CL Finals.

  90. Good post Yogi. It’s nice to see common sense prevailing. Fault-finding is not going to change the outcome of that game?

    I agree with consolsbob – this team is still a work in progress. They have shown ability to overcome poor conditions and win when not playing well. I just think they need to learn to do that consistently. Also, I know The Arsenal style of play is a strength but it wouldn’t hurt for the players to become more comfortable about switching things up in-game and trying something different if circumstances dictate. That should enable them to finish the season strongly. Avoid key player departures in the summer, Arsene secures any additions he is looking for and they get a good pre-season together, I think there’s a chance to do something better next season.

  91. no hes not the only reason but surely having 3 shit hot CB’s with a good one as backup has more of an impact on the squad than what having a couple of top Cb’s and not much else after that has..especially when the injuries come and we are playing three games a week..

    people were calling out for another CB for years becuase we werent defending good enough and one of the reasons for it is that we didnt have the quality to go with the quantity..

    A CB who went against the grain of wengers previous defensive signings so we could mix it up more and not be so one dimentional when defending and falling into the same trap all the time..

    we got one..

    its helped..

    we are finally looking strong…its no longer 2 top defenders backed up with aload of kids and over the hill stop gaps is it??

    i dont think many of us could agree on who our best pairing is at the minute becuase of the options we have..
    whereas years gone by we knew our best cb’s cos they were the only options we had..

    and please lets no bring eboue up 🙂 wenger bought sagna becuase of eboue. he couldnt defend…
    i never understood eboues cult..
    he was garbage..sorry but he was..

    his fans would argue that if we put him up for sale, any club in the PL would want him becuase he was a good rb who wasnt playing because sagna was the best….
    we did put him up for sale..
    after years of playing him in positions that made him look a clown..
    and he went to turkey..

  92. the only things that has made our defense look statistically shit this season is becuase we had a crap start cos we didnt have a proper squad and then again in mid season where all the backs were injured..

    if we go into next season with this team plus a few more settled in early i think people will be shocked at how well we defend next season..

    and if weve got a better selection of strikers we might just win something…

  93. Come on JJ, Eboue was a good defender, Sagna is just better. When Eboue was the starter, many teams would have taken him. I have no doubt about that.

  94. Passenal @ 8:27

    Well said as always.

  95. I actually believe that if we were settled from the start and not had as many injuries, we would be contending for the title. This team is impressive.

  96. Paul

    Back when we bought sagna we really were skint. As much as the boss dislikes spending money why in the world would he have bought sagna and immediately put him on the top of the pecking order if he had confidence in eboue?

  97. @JJ
    Good point. Conceding 8 at OT was a freak and the 4 at Blackburn properly just as much. If we had conceded just half of those goals, we would still have a defensive record some 10 goals off the Mancs, but probably best out of the reaming teams challenging for Top 4.

  98. Evil

    If you subtract the red Manc conceding 6 against man city and 3 against Blackburn and do the same mental manipulations then we are still conceding at least 15 more in 31 games then both manc teams.. the boss complained blamed our problems on defense when we conceded 10 more in a season in past years We have improved this season and have the potential to improve more but we still do have a ways to go.

  99. Bill, we needed cover for the RB and Sagna is better (I am sure that Sagna had to prove it though). You are suggesting that you only buy a player because the player you have is not good, surely you cannot make that claim.

    Eboue was very good defender and was regarded as one. Maybe you were not watching Arsenal at the time but he was regularly commended by commentators.

  100. I thought Blackburn might be able to hold the red mancs. bummer

  101. @Bill
    You didn’t read JJs post I was answering to. He mentioned that we suffered early on because we didn’t have a settled squad yet. My point was that hypothetically speaking, if we had the players we bought afterwards at that point in time, even if we had lost those games we would’ve probably done it conceding fewer goals.
    Fergie’s men can’t blame not having a settled defence (or a team as a whole) for coneding the number of goals against ManCity while this was clearly the reason for our abysmal form in the first 4 league games.

  102. I think Eboue fell out of favour a bit because Wenger did not exactly like the theatrical side of our own Prince. Nevertheless calling him anything but a good defenders can only be a side-effect of some suspect medication or some such. I saw nothing wrong with Eboue’s defending technique when we played Barca. But Sagna is simply the best defensive RB in the world. We could’ve Maicon, Lahm or Ramos and they’d all be warming the bench for Bac.

  103. eboue was clumbsy..
    he couldnt defend..
    thats why we bought sagna because wenger saw eboue as a winger and they were supposed to be the dream team…. but he couldnt do that either becuase instead of crossing the ball he would fall over and look at the ref cos he was a compulsive cheater..

    and in the end it got on wengers tits…
    about 2-3 years after it started to get on mine 🙂

  104. With ManU playing QPR at home before, City will be 8 points behind when they play us . Will it make them completely demoralised or rather liberated? I would bet on the former, but you never know.

  105. bill
    we needed that result tonight..

    imagine how bad city are feeling at watching UTD pull clear?

    weve been there ourselves with UTD, once you go toe to toe with them theres a good chance its you who will fall away..

    city are falling away..UTD have them by the balls and city know it and they play us next..

    gotta be a good thing..

  106. George

    Close enough…but why??

  107. you are right JJ.

  108. pedantic george

    Anirudh ,the ease with which you calculated that 3 draws instead of 3 losses amounts to 3 more points.

  109. Aahh damn missed the oozing sarcasm 🙂

  110. Eboue may have fallen away as a defender, but he was part of that record breaking CL defence, which did not concede any goals until the final. And he kept some quality opponents quiet during that run as well. Let’s not re-write history and forget his good points, but give credit where it’s due.

  111. pedantic george

    Eboue was a good player.
    JJ is a poor judge

  112. Agreed Passenal. Most were not asking for another RB when we had Eboue, the signing of Sagna kinda came as a surprise. From what I remember, Eboue only went off as a defender when he wasnt the starter anymore.

  113. i dont think your view is wrong either paul..

    maybe i am lighting a fuse by admitting that eboue was pants..
    i do realise that he seemed to be loved by fans over the years, but im not going to lie to myself as well as you guys by telling you i thought he was good..
    i didnt ..im sorry but thats how i feel..

    if its any conselation, i didnt really like watching hillier or morrow either..so hes not by himself in regards to former players who are not going to be on my xmas card list this year..

    and i think we did decent business in letting him go and blooding jenks and to and extent, Le coq…

    i think we’ve improved…

  114. Cbob – build goonerandy a new fence, he fell off his old one today 🙂

  115. Clerkenwell is very nice Clerkenwell Gunner

  116. theonlyredsteve

    I hate WordPress

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