No new faces (just long ones)

Arsenal 1-3 Manchester Utd

So that’s that then – another less than gentle reminder that despite all the pre-match bullishness of Wenger and some of the squad, when push comes to shove the current crop are little more than pretenders.

Yesterday’s defeat was as lop-sided as the Chelsea game was, and equally as painful.

P8 W0 D1 L7

That’s the stat I put out on Twitter – I got it slightly wrong as it happens but the point is made whichever way you cook it. It refers to the last eight games against the top two. Goal difference of F5 A18 is perhaps even more painful to consider.

You know, had we lost all those games by a single goal having played well enough, you’d have been within your rights to shrug your shoulders at the bad luck of it all. But of those seven defeats, only one – the hapless 2-1 loss at Old Trafford this season, when we played very well but for two crazy errors – has felt like bad luck. In all the others, we have been seen off with either relative or consummate ease.

So for Wenger to suggest the problem is mental is perhaps not so very far from the truth. Against Chelsea and Man Utd, we’ve got the fear. And particularly at home.

At least, it might explain on one level just how rotten we were yesterday. And boy, were we rotten.

I’m not going to bother going through all our weaknesses player by player, because this blog post is late in coming and it’s been well covered elsewhere. I do concur with the criticism that has come to three in particular though – not that many covered themselves in glory. Clichy’s form has melted away, Denilson has been flattering to deceive for far too long (culminating in a truly horrible performance yesterday) and Almunia looks utterly shot.

Maybe much can be put down to problems of the mind, but really, should it be Wenger’s job to have to cajole a performance out of some of these players? Individual errors continue to cost us, and yet I can’t see any evidence of them going away. Wenger, of course, must take some of the blame for that too. Some of his players are just not performing, or are doing so in frustrating fits and starts.

So looking forward, what can be done? In the short-term, a change of personnel would help. Almunia and Denilson should be dropped. Clichy would probably suffer the same fate but for a lack of credible alternatives. Besides, I do think he deserves more time to pick his game up.

And up front, we need to stick B-52 on and hope to god he’s fit enough. There’s a man who – if nothing else – does not want for self-confidence. He offers us something we are clearly lacking – a tall front man who can hold the ball up.

Wenger could and should have addressed some of our weaknesses in the transfer window but, not surprisingly, he has chosen not to. That’s another baffling one but at least he’s in good company – the market has been massively subdued.

In fact, rather than strengthening the squad in January, we actually find ourselves a squad member shorter thanks to the departures of Senderos and Wilshere. So we’re stuck with what we have.

The previous time we were thumped, we did pick ourselves up and go on a decent run that – briefly – took us top. It feels like a long time ago now.

At this stage it feels a tall order but with Arsenal, you never know. It would certainly be nice to put a positive dent into those bleak stats on Sunday.


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

This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. fourstar

    Decent post – I’ve said it elsewhere but we are on our own in 3rd place. The top two are just that bit too good and the chasing pack are not quite good enough. It’s a weird position to be in – and I’m not making excuses for such an abject display – but at least it’s one better than last year (so far).

  2. Adam

    Wenger will never win anything anymore. There is no excuse, this team once again is close, but not good enough and all he does is tell us how strong and mentally prepared his team always is. I’m a huge gunners fan, but I’m cheering a blowout vs chelsea and Liverpool and we sack Wenger. A manager who is always trying to prove how smart he is and how his projects always turns to gems needs to be set back a notch. At the end of the day, Wenger gets close but no longer does what’s necessary to win…Which is SPEND MONEY.

  3. jrock

    Agree with you about dropping Denilson. Put either Ramsey or Diaby in for him for the game at Chelsea. I don’t think you can drop Almunia. Can you honestly say that you’d feel more comfortable with Fabianski or Manone in goal? As far as the transfer window, I keep thinking about what player(s) I would have signed. I know people keep saying that we needed a striker, but who? Definitely not Bent or K Jones, they’re rubbish. Dzeko would have been nice, but is he that much better than Bendtner and is he worth 20 million pounds? I would only have signed a new keeper. Perhaps Akineev or Loris.

  4. malcolm

    Stop the all out attacking game as against MU.goodness it has happened countless times.AW got out of jail against Everton. In the past seasons it had happened before. When the bulldog cunningly went down like a pack of cards after the Campbell tackle,Arsenal went berserk and were hit on the ounter. Similarly Henry hit Inter when they on the offensive.AW is trying to introduce anew game based on intricate passing which no doubt pleasing to the eye give defenders time to regroup.He better know counter punching is the name of the game whether it be anti soccer. If you win who cares . he shd get off his moral high ground and stop preaching and be pragmatic and get back to winning.

  5. The Saint

    We had a chance to get David James but that has now gone. In the summer, we may get a chance for Sorensen but somehow I very much doubt that’s going to happen because it would somehow “destroy” Fabianski. Jens Lehmann you brilliant genius! You were right after all about Almunia!

  6. Tim

    Really good post – so much has been written since the match ranging from hysteria to a call for patience and I think the answer lays somewhere in the middle as you’ve written.

    I’d add this – with the squad we have and the injuries we’ve had I think top 2 is punching above our weight this season, if we are (as we seem to be) the 3rd best side in the league that seems about right to me.

    There remains far more good than bad in my opinion and the changes inferred are without doubt worth a try. Ramsey looks to be ready to play week in and week out so why not do this in place of Denilson. As for goalkeeper I have a strange feeling that Mannone is closer to making the leap than the Pole…I could of course be wrong. Clichy – horrible time to him to readjust after being out injured but what may be lacking in quality at present isn’t through a lack of effort.

    Final thought – just some horrible planning the last 5 transfer windows – to lose Henry and Adebayor and assume Van Persie will ever play all 38 games (or even 30) was a presumption – to also hope Eduardo would get right back to where he was pre the leg this season was also hopeful. Assuming both things would happen was naive. I like Arshavin but asking him to play the last 2+ months as a striker isn’t fair to the man. It’s not fair to the fans either and as it stands if Nic takes a while to get going it may continue.

    All of this happening when we have 6 (???) attacking midfielders with almost identical skills and none of whom can play a wide role has been an embarrassment of riches in one place.

    I see the club as a fish and chip shop who have fantastic fish but forgot to order any spuds.

    Still optimistic – and I think we can finish 2nd. Next summer we need to end some of our projects and that means saying goodbye to a few we really had high hopes for. (Theo and Denilson that means you…)

  7. Govindraj

    Not only are we a man shorter than before, we now have the unenviable task of going away to Stamford Bridge and eking out a win. Or a draw at least. Liverpool at home will not be a cakewalk either. They will have been bouyed by their recent performances and will be licking their lips in anticipation after watching replays of Chelsea vs. Arsenal and United vs. Arsenal at The Grove. If we can survive these two, the rest of the games are fairly simple. Or not. Depends on which “Animal: (to quote Wenger) takes the ground! 🙂

  8. jeff/433

    No knives out for Nasri, Rosicky, and Gallas?

    (I’ve got a set of 8, not that I HAVE to use them all. (Got a good deal at Williams Sonoma.))

  9. aitchem

    Sagna- nothing special / Nasri – nothing special – Rosicky nothing etc etc

  10. gazgooner

    Don’t know what everyone’s so down about – business as usual at the Grove…battling for 4th spot and no chance of any silverware – it’s what we’ve settled for in the past 4 years – why should this year be any different? What chance of Cesc being there at the start of next season – I’d bet my right testicle he’ll be gone and who can blame him. The final indignity will be if (and likely to be when) that shite mob fron down the road take 4th and we’re in the Europa cup next season – don’t laugh its well and truly on the cards! Maybe a point from the Liverpool game at home will give us hope!!!

  11. kikomo

    I think when a profesor can`t use the theory of 1 +1=2 ,he is then worth nothing we should let him go .thax for the goddies he has brought to our worddropes..BYE BYE WENGER.BON VOYAGE

  12. gonegonegone

    Very disappointed to see no movement in the transfer window (other than Sol, senderos & the kid wilshere) – why did we not ship out some dead wood….Walcott is NOT Arsenal quality, Almunia should have gone, Sagna used to be ok, but ffs if he’s paid thousands per week yet cannot cross a ball (my 2 year old is better)and Denilson!!
    In – should have seen Sorenson in sticks, Young in for walcott (nice swap deal), Milner in for Denilson, and id even go as far to say play eboue at right back.
    To replace wenger youd have to look at the likes of Hidink, mohrinho or even pep.

  13. aj

    It’s interesting to read the various views on the current situation. There are plenty who talk of us collapsing into a slump; we have gone backwards over the past five years; get rid of this player and that player etc etc. If you go back 5 years, almost to the day, you will see that, on 1st February, 2005, Arsenal hosted Manchester United at Highbury where the final score was Arsenal 2 Manchester United 4. Yes, 5 years ago, we gave away 4 sloppy goals at home to Man Utd ( incredibly – or not so incredibly – one of those was a gift from Almunia!)and lost by the same margin as on Sunday. We did get rid of most of the players playing in that game, such ‘no-hopers’ as Bergkamp, Henry, Vieira, Ljungberg, Pires, Campbell, Cole, Lauren & Flamini but it doesn’t seem to have provided the answer. Ultimately, I think it comes down to the fact that Wenger’s approach doesn’t take into account the need to instill organisation and discipline into the players minds.

  14. Erichero

    Amazingly, everybody seems to use Arsenal’s injury list as a stick to beat Wenger with. Really… that is so stupid.

    Yes, we were aware of RVP’s and Rosicky’s injury proneness, but none of you reading this would have predicted a guaranteed 6-10 players injured for any given match. That is a freak show and I’d like you to point out a single manager in the world that would have won the league with those kinds of odds stacked up.

  15. Gaurav

    Nice, balanced post..

    @fourstar, dont really agree that we are far behind man united. v may not hv beaten them since a while but v r equally (if not more) likely to win our matches against others as united are…

    @gonegonegone and other “wenger-should-go” brigade, are you all nuts? Do you really feel that hiddinks, mourinhos and peps of this world would work within the transfer budget arsenal have these days. Do you really think that arsenal have crazy money to buy players like dzeko, huntelaar etc. I don’t think thats the case, irrespective of what the board publicly says..the fact is that arsenal cant compete with city and chelsea in the market…as a result we are as high in the table as we can given the circumstances..this will probably change (hopefully) in a couple of years when we have a more manageable debt..and no manager in this world can possibly make us higher than wenger can in the given scenario…

  16. Farnborough Gunner

    Gaurav – Arsenal do have the necessary funds to buy the players we need, or they should have.

    First, Wenger doesn’t need to buy many players, so he could focus his funds on a few key purchases. If he had done this regulary in recent transfer windows the squad would be much stronger now. He got £40million for selling Adebeyor & Toure last summer, so funds must be available to him.

    Secondly, the increased revenue from the new stadium just about covers the debt it has caused us, so the club should at least be as well off now as it was at Highbury.

    Thirdly, the youth policy is not a cheap option. Think about how much it costs to pay a player such as Walcott for several seasons while he learns his trade, bearing in mind that our youngsters are on very lucrative long-term contracts. Think about how many of our young players don’t make the grade and get shipped out for a pittance of a transfer fee. From that, think about the real cost behind every home-grown talent who actually makes it. It would probably be cheaper to buy some experienced players. I’m not saying we should not have a youth system, but it should be kept in perspective and youth should be balanced with experience. Apart from anything else, the young players will only learn from experienced players, and if the balance in the squad is biased too much towards youth, they will not develop as well as having fewer youngsters and more mentors.

    Also bear in mind that when he was at Monaco Wenger tried the same “project youth” policy, refusing to buy experienced players when funds were available. He was sacked after a couple of trophyless years. How long is he going to be allowed to follow the same policy at Arsenal before people realise it won’t win us any more trophies?

  17. egan

    We beat man utd at home and Chelsea away last season so how is our record against top two in last 8 games P8 W0 D1 L7???

  18. kay jay

    you need to speculate to accumulate,wenger makes excuses about no players being available,and how he was interested in villa and chamakh,if he was he would have made a bid for villa!…….so you know he was talking kak.

    lets say he did buy players and we never won a trophy this season with the fresh blood, at least the fans would then say that the team are not good enough,but to not buy at all and then rely on his visions of grandure about theo,and playing peoople out of their natural instinctive position (arshavin) is be honest theo looks like he should be in jls cos he is just a pretty boy,lennon and young piss on him.
    then he buys rusty players like campbell and chicken mcnugget head head silvestre………..ferguson must have given wnger money to tkae i him away!……….just like curry’s do when they deliver your new washing machine and charge to take away the old one.
    Martin O’Neil the next aresnal manager, he sees it like he sees it

  19. a gunner



    sagna,gallas,verma,clichy(or eboue)

    doesnt matter if we get beat…i’m sure these lads would give it a fight and not collabse

    I’m sorry but NASRI and ROSICKY seem to be taking things for granted..AND DENILSON SHOULDNT EVEN BE ON THE BENCH !!!

    And Gallas and Verma should be told unless we are far behind and badly trailing…they shouldnt just unnecessarily lumber forward leaving our left back exposed !!!

    I’m serious about EBOUE for LEFT BACK…the guy can defend…or atleast defend better than clichy !!! the guy attacks the ball when we dont have it !!!


  20. kay jay

    don’t you ever wish you could punch arsene wenger in his mouth for talkin pure shite…………….why does he talk about within our resources,he is the manager not a fuckin accountant, ancellotti and ballack told it how it was…….arsenal are predictable and possesion does not win games….results do…..i cannot believe what i am see-ing
    even if we won the premiership the fact we cannot beat man u and chelsea bothers me more

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