Arsenal: Downsizing to fourth

Arsenal 1-2 Aston Villa

So that’s the Grove done and dusted for another season, on a day when there were plenty there in person but not in spirit, and plenty more there in theory but not in reality. 60,023 in the crowd? That’s right up there with ‘great mental strength’. Poppycock.

The Gunners have been misfiring for so long that thousands of empty seats pretending to have people in them – or is it creative turnstiling – is hardly a surprise. As Philippe Auclair said on Friday’s Arsecast, since the Carling Cup final it’s been the longest hangover in the history of football, a truly miserable punch-drunk stagger from one infuriating performance to another, perforated by the odd boosting win. Top that off with a 6.5% rise in ticket prices at a time when players’ wages are going up 8%-10% a season and you’ve hit a magic cocktail of frustration that manifested itself yesterday in widespread anti price-rise chants. Six percent? You are indeed having a laugh.

It’s a PR blunder that could have been scripted by Squillaci or Almunia.

So anyway, the match. We started slowly again, let poor goals in again, putting ourselves within 15 minutes into a position that rendered a much better second half redundant when taken in tandem with some bad luck with refereeing decisions.

It’s true, we looked more dangerous when Chamakh and Bendtner came on for the hapless Squill and the hopeless Arsh and went 4-4-2. These half-time substitutions are becoming quite a habit. Food for thought for next season.

And yes, we were missing three of our best players in Fabregas, Nasri and Clichy.

But to cling to tight (Ramsey pen) or plain wrong (Chamakh ‘push’) refereeing decisions going against us or missing individuals as the main reasons we lost would be barking up the wrong tree. We started slowly and foundered on the rocks of determined defending, as we have so often done. Our build-up play for too long was too ponderous, as it so often has been. Too many away teams have confounded their form at Arsenal this season by putting in excellent performances. Coincidence? I think not.

We have won more away games than any other team this season, but at home we have dropped 20 points out of 57.

As for the lap of deprecation, I didn’t stay to see it. I took my five-year-old son to his first ever game and took the opportunity, as did many others, to make good my escape.

The little man? Well he was looking at me aghast after the first quarter of an hour. But van Persie’s goal gave him a fillip and by the end he told me he wanted to come again. Now that’s real mental strength…

The reality now is that third place – and with it, automatic qualification to the Champions League group stages – is Manchester City’s to lose. We threw away any chance we had of winning this league, then we threw away second, and we could well now have thrown away third.

The fans are in foment and the team is in end-of-season freefall. Bring on the summer and bring out the new broom.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Martin Robertson

     Allowing your child to return again is child abuse and I will be informing the social services. No 5 year old should be put through that.

  2. East Lower

    Haha. He said as we filed out at the end; “that was a good match”. 

    I left it at that…

  3. Anonymous

    im truely disgusted with the team for the past 2 months. every week we have a poor result and every week the players come out and say we need to do better! we need more guile! ive now had enough, stop talking in the papers and try to perform on the pitch. if arsene doesnt cull 7 players (im pretty sure everyone would have the same 7!) to shake it up then this will be repeated next year. im afraid to say if arsene can not fix this then maybe we do need to look elsewhere, because all the blame can not just be heaped upon the players. we need players like parker, and dare i say it, barton, to really get us fighting. jack and robin are the only players ive seen this year who really fight and battle, we need another 9 like them two

  4. Michael Collins

    I’ve finally decided that I want Wenger gone. For the sole reason
    that I am just bored. I’m bored of the same old interviews, the same
    old words, the same style of football and the same old passionless
    players. I think I’ve only enjoyed three home games all season. The
    pundits and journalists say we play the best football but it’s just not
    true. Our football is one dimensional and has become very easy to
    defend against. It’s not exciting, it’s not dynamic. What happened to
    the powerful, athletic players? The lethal counter attacking football?
    The win at all costs spirit? I don’t understand why the manager has
    strayed away from the style that won us trophies.

    Why did he sell two experienced winners who are now playing for other
    Premiership teams? Vieira and Pires would still offer this team so
    much? Why is Vieira winning the FA Cup with Man City? He scored the
    final penalty to win us our last trophy. It annoys me that he’s now
    winning at a rival Premiership team. And we’re going to come fourth!
    Just because the players don’t have the balls to step up and win
    important games. What more incentive do they need? They had the title
    in their own hands?


  5. Jeff

    That was a really disappointing day out for Seb Squillaci.  It looked like his positioning and/or recovery speed could have been better for both goals, and then he got pulled off at half time.  I felt bad for him. 

    There is a terrible truth that I don’t see in the papers, but I do see in the comments to this blog: Arsenal have not looked very effective going forward recently.  It’s very disappointing.

  6. z

    And why not blame the referee mistakes? How many times we’ve seen Man United win games 1-0 by the way of suspicious penalties. Do they appreciate those wins less?

  7. Paul

    Who are your 7? 

  8. Anonymous

    eboue, denilson, diaby, rosicky, arsharvin, vela and squillaci. if im honest a few more could be added. id like him to keep bendtner because he causes trouble and his goal record when in his correct position is quite impressive. one other thing i never figured out is why did arsene let keown and adams leave the club, we need defensive coaches, give them 5 players to work with and teach them the basics again (back 4 plus song) once we have a solid defence i think the team would play with alot more confidence again. who better to install the fighting spirit than them two?

  9. Adam Elder

    As Wenger has persisted on this same trajectory, I was afraid this day would come eventually — not just the performance of the players, but that of the crowd.
    The fanbase doesn’t even feel so divided anymore. Has the momentum now swung against the board and Wenger?

  10. Jeff

    According to, we have 32 first team members, including six players on loan.  From comments to just the last two posts, I’ve noted the following proposed departures:

    1. Almunia
    2. Squillaci
    3. Eboue
    4. Denilson
    5. Rosicky
    6. Vela
    7. Diaby
    8. Arshavin
    9. Clichy
    10. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas *
    11. Lehmann **
    12. Bendtner or Chamakh

    * Proposed departure inferred based on reference to hopeless performances
    ** Proposed departure assumed

    From that list, the only starters I see are Clichy and Arshavin, given a typical first 11 of:

    Arshavin RVP Walcott/Nasri
    Wilshere Song Fabregas
    Clichy Koscielny  Djourou Sagna

    On the one hand, it doesn’t seem like a cathartic clean out to get rid of the back-ups who rarely play, but part of the idea, I gather, is that several of the starters would make suitable back-ups.

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