Nil nil, hey hey, kiss it goodbye

Aston Villa 0-0 Arsenal
“The thriller at the Villa”

I spent a little while on Saturday morning musing about whether the new sponsorship deal could have an immediate uplifting effect on the club on the pitch as well as off it. You know, give the players something to think about. Spur them onto a barnstorming run with the promise of riches untold and trophies galore. Naïve, eh? Or just a little bit handbrake off on my behalf.

Instead two very good results – one of which secured qualification for the knockouts, and ergo another substantial boost to income – were followed by yesterday’s flat goalless draw. You could say that’s just football. It was a tight game in terrible conditions with tired players against a team fighting hard to get itself out of a rut. But it did feel like a step back after two steps forward, which is pretty much the hallmark of Arsenal in recent years. This would partially account for the subsequent reaction, which is another hallmark of Arsenal in recent seasons.

The boss got it in the neck for leaving Wilshere on the bench, and withdrawing Giroud for Coquelin (essentially protecting the point and not going for the win), and the fan disquiet has had a fair few column inches today. But on Wilshere, I understand the logic – look what happened last time he was overplayed. Regarding Giroud, it seems odd given how little time there was left, but what were the options? Where the hell is Chamakh? We have nobody else and Giroud was maybe tired, certainly ineffectual. The stop-start nature of our performances though is a long-running saga and is very much Wenger’s job to fix. On that basis nobody is above criticism.

A big issue, as many have pointed out, is the paucity of options. Decent first XI when fit and firing, but one that we are over-reliant on. In risk of burn-out. Cazorla will need a rest at some point, as will Giroud, Podolski and Arteta.

Of course, if Wenger goes on a winter splurge then you just never know. When our situation got perilous a few years back he spent £17m on Andrey Arshavin, and it was a catalyst, for a while. The intention was there. This time round, he has the money – quite a lot of it, assuming everything we are told and read in the accounts is correct – but will he spend it? He must know we need to, with only one frontline striker, and a Diabyless midfield (the ghost of Diabys past howls through it). I agree that Henry is not the answer – at least not on his own.

There’s plenty going for this team, and there’s plenty to go for (four trophies – League Cup, FA Cup, European Cup and Fourth Cup). But for it to stand a chance, we patently need to show some ambition in the transfer market in January. Sixth place is a fair reflection of where we are now.

Nice to see Gibbs back, by the way.

11 thoughts on “Nil nil, hey hey, kiss it goodbye

  1. Unfortunately though it’s only 3 trophies in reality. First time we draw a top-class team in CL, it’s over for us.

    The sheer predictability of our season is what’s most depressing. Once the transfer window ended leaving us with Giroud as our sole striker and no defensive midfielder at all, 4th was as good as it was ever going to be in terms of the league. I still think we’ll get 4th but it’ll be tight again. (when it shouldn’t be)

    Agree with you on the team selection, have no real problem with the selected team. Def needed freshening up. I don’t really think that was where the anger was directed. ‘The ‘you don’t what you’re doing’ chants are just proof of what I’ve said for a long time. By not leaving before now, Arsene has lost the chance to walk away amicably…’s going to end horribly.

  2. I hope not but in the eyes of many, he’s no longer the man to change things around. I suppose winning and consistency would make things a lot better, but I do get the feeling that this January could be pivotal.

  3. What is your opinon on Giroud? I believe Coquelin looked more threatening in 5 minutes than Giroud did all game. He must be the easiest striker in the league to defend against, he never even tries to run behind the defenders.

  4. I really like what I see. Adapting well, great in the air, holds the ball up well – we’ve not had someone reliable up front who can do that in ages. Having him means we can now cross from wide at head height – something we never did much before. So I think he adds another attacking string to the bow. The big issue is he’s the only one – we need another striker to complement him, replace him, when needed. So far so good though – let’s hope he doesn’t Chamakh it up. I can’t see him doing that and if he stays fit I can see him getting 15+ goals this season.

  5. Oh and I disagree about him being the easiest striker to defend against. Clearly, if you want him to run through and beat his man he’s going to look like a clodhopper. But that’s not his game.

  6. Totally agree. Have no idea why any blame would be attached to Giroud. Cracking player. Didn’t play well yesterday but it’s hardly his fault that the manager has left us totally dependant on him with no lapses in fitness or injury allowed. He’s been good for weeks & one poor game yesterday : we couldn’t cope. It’s a crazy situation. And again as I said…totally predictable. Everyone but the manager seems to have foreseen this.

  7. It’s hard to know with him. He may have been more hamstrung than we can have known on spending. Not that it excuses our roller-coaster form. But given we know Emirates are forwarding us some dosh then if we get to Feb having not strengthened, it will be unforgivable.

  8. Creating a winning & consistent team is I’m afraid something that just seems beyond Arsene at this stage. As for this January… many transfer windows have we described as ‘pivotal’ in the last few seasons ?? We’re in this endless circle of the same arguments over & over. Why ? Because we all deep down love Arsene to bits for what he’s done for the club. It’s just the difference in what loyalty some feel he’s owed. I actually don’t know anyone who still 100% believes he’s the right man for the job….

  9. As Morinho said yesterday – if a 34 year old tennis player can give an excellent tournament than a 25 year old footballer can play twice a week . This is absolutly right . They are paid imagionary wages and they can be expected to play 90 minutes of football every three or four days . I never saw Messi , Iniesta or Ronaldo tired . Our players are young and ambituous and they should fight like hungry dogs out there and rest between training sessions . Had we won on saturday , and go on to win Everton , we would have been third place and five points behind Man Utd , with an actual chance to compete . Yet we didnt even have one shot on target . I`m really gutted . Loosing to Man Utd away is one thing , but this was lame , and so was Norich . Another trophyless season on the menu

  10. We’re too up and down and the squad is too light to compete in a competition that requires consistency. Knockout competitions though – you can’t rule it out.

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