Rock me, Matheus

Braga 2-0 Arsenal

Here’s what Djourou said in the tunnel after last night’s defeat:

“We had the game under control and two counter-attacks and silly, silly mistakes – we can be disappointed because we should have won the game easily, it’s very hard to take. A point would have qualified us so it’s a shame to concede goals like that, I just cannot understand.

We have to look again, that shouldn’t happen. It was a lack of concentration, the team needs to concentrate and do better than that.”

Heard any of that before?

Just a few days after the team last made silly mistakes and lost concentration, they did it again last night. What had been a Champions League procession – we took nine points from nine – has become a breathless struggle for qualification. At least we are up against Partizan, nought points from 15, and are at Fortress Emirates (where the drawbridge keeps getting stuck on ‘down’). And at least we are getting value for money on our season tickets with a final group stage match that actually means something.

What of the game? It was rubbish. Wenger spoke after the Spuds defeat of the potentially worrying effects of giving up a two goal lead against our biggest rivals, and last night their hangover was so painful to endure I was reaching for the alka seltzer long before half time.

We had oodles and oodles of possession and passed the ball to deflation, but did next to nothing with it. 633 passes attempted (Braga: 248), 550 completed (Braga: 166). Shots on target: 1.* One measly shot on target.

So there was a reaction to the Spuds game, but not the one Wenger had called for.

Wenger was left belching fumes afterwards, directing much of his ire to the “useless” match officials for not giving as clear a penalty as you will ever see for a tackle on Charlie Vela. That should have given us a 1-0 lead and possibly – though there are no guarantees with this side – a cathartic victory. Fifa now have about 16 assistant referees dotted around the place yet not one of them apparently saw it.

That gave us time for a good old collapse. Both goals were utterly avoidable – yet more bad defending. The first was a punt right down the middle, which sliced the defence open like butter. The second was another counter, but this time Matheus had three players buzzing around him. Not one of them made a tackle.

It was a strangely lifeless, lethargic performance and there’s no doubt that we’ve dumped ourselves into a huge rut of our own making.

Unlike great sides, we never just bounce back after a defeat. We tend to take another one or two on the chin before staggering back to our feet.

Last night, we looked anything but a great side. We looked depressingly average.

Villa will be licking their chops at the thought of facing us on Saturday.

They will suspect we are there for the taking.

* Stats courtesy of Total Football CL 2010 app


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

This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. Tommusso

    Unfortunately, I suspect we might be.

  2. Tall Defender

    This season is like Groundhog Day. Wenger can blame the officals and the opposition and the weather and injuries and the wrong kind of snow all he likes. This season is like Groundhog Day. The fact is his team never looked like scoring all night and that is no one’s fault but the his and his vastly overhyped and overrated players. This season is like Groundhog Day.

  3. agooner

    There is still time for the manager to make things right. January is around the corner. He can buy quality defenders. It is not too late by the look of the league table. ‘Giving every drop of his blood’ should include spending the money available to him to address glaring deficiencies. I hope he does for the sake of his legacy.

  4. RotorGoat

    That’s the bizarre thing: we could go top on the weekend. And yet we have been decidedly average for much of this season. It is odd.

  5. Pluckley Gooner

    As long as Wenger refuses to see the frailty in players like Denilson, Eboue, Clichy we are destined to go another season trophyless.
    Denilson alone has cost us the vital first goal from Sperz and both goals against Braga. When you see him chasing back for the first goal conceded you see him look across to the right and actually start slowing down. He did exactly the same last season against Man Utd and in other games. Totally unacceptable from any player wearing an Arsenal shirt.
    Eboue is clumsy, ineffective and does not possess a football brain. Being funny does not win you games.
    Clichy is a shadow of the man he was 4 years ago. He makes too many costly mistakes and seems to have his mind elsewhere. Too often caught out of position. He should learn to defend first and attack second. It’s not like he scores goals or sets up more than 1 or 2 goals per season with his forward runs.

  6. Dilema

    this is the fault of AW…the player are as brittle as tooth picks, they are not up for a fight at any stage and wins against wolves and the likes have papered the cracks for me. the mentality is not strong enough, the players are not good enough and AW’s methods of motivating this team are not good enough.

    how long must we put up with all this sunday league defending? and how long should we have to put up with players who cant stay fit for more than 2games at a time. RVP, diaby, walcott, rosicky (not so much these days) and alot of others are never fit enough for a full season. none of them have achieved nothing in football, but they seem to think they’re best makes me sick..AW is too soft on these flops and needs to clear out the team. NB is so deluded..i call him Audley harrison coz its like he’s on can he think he’s so good? he cant controll the ball, has no pace or skill, has a piss poor goal record..and thinks he’s TH14 on the wings when he should be in the fucking box!!

    denilson, diaby, clichy, fabianski, johan D, mannone, vela, even theo..can all go if it were up to me…NB aswell, eboue aint good enough..rosicky needs to fucking shoot more and it’s only wilshere, cesc and samir showing promise..three midgets!! i like chamack, but his speed and footwork are poor..but his role is in the box, and i cant fault that aspect of his game.

    and before i finish, one thing that pisses me off beyond all that, is AW’s stingy ways with transfer when we’re in desperate need, and his lack of admittance that we are shit at the moment..he needs to go aswell..not coz we aint won a trophy, but because he has lost the ability to build a willing and able team, lost the ability to see when he is wrong, and can no longer motivate these spoiled brats that happen to be our players

  7. Richard E

    Poor last night very poor. We needed 1 pt from 3 games now we need 3 pts from 1 game. But at the Emirates against Partizan we should walk it. I say should because we should have got 3 points Saturday and at least a point last night.

    Have to think with Sagna, Song and Arshavin playing we would have faired better. But they must be carrying knocks to be rested so frequently.

    A poor penalty decision to be fair to the ref you can see why he judged it a dive (something in the way Velas legs went up.

    It also appears everyone seems to have forgotten that we were down to 10 when they scored first goal after Eboue had been injured and we were trying to make a substitution.

    Anyway 1 bad decision and down to 10 was hardly in our favour but not a real excuse for the way we conceded.

    And if I keep hearing that Defoe outjumped our centre backs on Saturday I might have to shoot someone, he outjumped Clichy.

    Wenger knows how to set out winning teams, look at our title years (Ray Parlour said as much on radio last night) it’s time for the players to stand up and be counted. They have to show us why Wenger puts so much faith in them.

    But whilst the Emirates crowd is half full of tourists and prawn sandwich toffs it’s not likely to happen at home.

  8. Mark

    We need a new manager. It’s as simple as that. The club feels like a government that’s drifting at the end of a long time in office. Or it feels like the 1994-1995 season when only the European cup run was keeping us from admitting to ourselves that the Graham era was over. Then came the bung scandal which forced the board to do something sharpish.

    It’s not the end of the world though. Lots of Arsenal fans seem to think that before 1997 was a dark age when we won nothing. That’s not how I remember it. Wenger has done a good job in keeping the finances in check while the new stadium was built, we need someone new to push on and bring us the success ON the pitch which is commensurate with our superb situation OFF it.

  9. Richard E

    I agree we won things before AW remember how we won things under GG.

    I was always asked “why do you watch that rubbish” “you must have a stiff neck going to Highbury every week” etc etc.

    Take any other teams best Centre Half and best Fprward out the line up and see how they get on.

    Perhaps *whisper it* we should have sold Cesc £80 million to spend would have gone along way, and perhaps those of you who want AW to go are ready to wave goodbye to Cesc, Nasri, Vermaelen, Van Persie. None of them would stay and I reckon 3/4 others would be off ASAP too.

    We are in a different age of football where unlike GGs era it’s not about playing for the club anymore it’s about the manager and the money.

    Unless you think risking the clubs financial future on a managerial gamble I think you should start getting behind the team. This and next are the years judge Wenger then. Look at Liverpool under Hodgson is that what you want? Or do you want our club sold to a Sheikh, an Anerican with no clue or a Russian criminal? No thanks I think we’re bigger and better than that.

  10. PD

    The whole point of moving to our new stadium was money.We knew there would be short-term pain as a result. That pain should now be over. We can afford virtually any player we want & still not endanger the club’s future. No club in the world can afford to spend what we can on players now. (at least not their own money. i.e. not some Arab owner – City or a cowardly bank – Barca/Real)
    And yet we have the same players who are no better than they were two years ago (we haven’t improved, our closeness to the top of the table is down to the weakening of MU/Chelsea & nothing else. This will be the handiest league title to be won in a long time)
    How many fcuking goals does we have to give away through Denilson’s lack of desire/application before we move him on It’s farcical.

    This is Wenger’s fault and no-one elses. He needs to get over this obsession with his project proving him right & do what needs to be done. Will he ? I doubt it. I simply cannot see him winning a title again.

    And blaming the home fans is just ridiculous. The ‘tourists and prawn sandwich’ issue is a football one, not an Arsenal one. Most big clubs are in exactly the same position. MC/Chelsea certainly are but it doesn’t stop them.

  11. Michael Thomas 4

    The tide is turning but will anyone have the nerve to sack Wenger?

    Everybody @ Arsenal, Wenger has had a say in their employment from the top (Gazidis who loves his vision!) to the bottom. He’s actually accomplished what Benitez failed to do @ Liverpool!

  12. Richard E

    I am really amused by the fickleness of Arsenal “fans” and the media.

    A few weeks back we beat Man City 3-0 had one 3 out of 3 in Europe and all was great with the world, we even set a record for most goals scored in the opening 3 champions league games.

    Now after a few defeats Wenger has lost it and apparently Harry and the Spuds have it.
    form is temporary and class is permanent.

    @PD you quote my point about the home fans yet you fail to answer any of my other questions about what we would do without AW, Cesc, Nasri et al.

    And on the question of spending some money tell me who we should buy….I struggle to think of any player we could possibly coax away from their existing club who is Champions League or Premier League winner quality.

    We lost to the Spuds, had to happen sometime I’m afraid and the team did not appear for the second half. I don’t understand how a team winning 2-0 at half time playing bright smart football for 45 minutes against the Spuds, keeping Gareth Bale and Van der Vaart quiet at the same time became the worst side in living memory according to fans on here. Bet you were all sending texts to your Lilywhite mates during the first half enjoying the football. 135 minutes of football later and you are writing off the manager and 50% of the team that played the first half against Spuds so well.

    We go top Saturday when we beat Villa, will Wenger still be done for you? What if we win the Carling Cup is that enough? Or does he have to win the League or Champions League?

    Next year maybe we can spend, but there really is no point spending over exuberantly in January with financial fair play rules just round the corner do we really want to be saddled with some high earners that restrict the growth of our Youth. And i mean the real Youth team, the era of Jack Wilshere youth team that have been at Arsenal since they were 7/8 who are now 18-21 who have been coached the AW way who are impressing everywhere they go and have featured heavily for England at all Youth levels.

  13. PD

    Cesc is gone at the end of the season regardless of who the manager is. A wild statement of fact based on nothing other than my guess. Which is exactly the same as what you did. You can’t possibly state they will definitely be off. You’re just guessing, same as the rest of us.

    I just find it really tiresome this talk about ‘fans.’ I have been going for 30 years. Most home games & 6/7 away games a season when living in London. And now I don’t live in the UK I spend money I can currently ill afford on hotels & flights to make 5/6 games a season.Will probably do so til I’m dead. Never left a game just early,never booed an AFC player, left every game hoarse. and yet because I (& many others) have a moan on a blog you seem to think you’re a better fan. It’s smug & ignorant.

    Winning the league isn’t what I expect. Doing everything in his power to win it is what I expect from our manager. And he is not doing that. My opinion. You disagree. Fair enough, doesn’t make you a knob. Looking down on the likes of me from your moral high ground does though.

    And believe me I certainly didn’t all was well after the Man City game. Our performance (not the result obviously) made me furious.For large stretches of the game we were lazy & undisciplined & I said to anyone who would listen that we were in for a fall unless things changed quickly.

  14. PD

    And for the record I think Wenger is unquestionably the greatest manager in our history & one of the best in the history of football. His legacy could be a long, long period of Arsenal dominance in English football. I just don’t think at this stage that he is the man to take us over the finishing line. It absolutely breaks my heart to say it but I really believe it now.

  15. Richard E

    I don’t think I was looking down my nose from any moral high ground. You chose to take it personally when really you probably hold the same opinion about Corporates at the Emirates as me. I gave up a Clock End season ticket at 18 to play Senior Football, 16 years later I watch infuriated as seats I have no hope of buying as a red member being empty with 5-10 minutes to go win, lose or draw. How do the players feel when these fans can’t be bothered to suffer a bit of train congestion in order to clap them off the pitch?

    It’s also general point about people that phone up radio phone ins or post on websites thinking they know better than Arsene Wenger or the board and owners who have kept The Arsenal in top flight competition for many years against the frivolous spending of other clubs.

    Yes I would love it if we won a trophy, but not winning one does not mean Wenger should go.

    If we had the spending power do you seriously think Wenger wouldn’t spend? Last year we were in desperate need of a defender and he could only sign Sol (god love him). Do you seriously think he wouldn’t have spent more if he could.

    The board wouldn’t stretch to an extra £1m for Schwarzer at the start of this season, Wrnger has to walk the party line and put up with criticism for not spending, much like Fergie is having to do also.

    You say Wenger has built a legacy but don’t believe he can get the team over the finish line, don’t you think we at least need to see the season out before we lay that at his door?

    Let’s be honest we haven’t expected to be in contention for any of the last 3 seasons and every year the media are convinced we will be thecteam to drop from the Top 4 but every year Wenger somehow kept the young players up there, now we are on the brink of something 1 or 2 players and we’re there and most of them are already at the club, Gibbs, Eastmond, JET, Watt, Afobe, Scezsny, Frimpong. What’s better is 6 of those are English maybe we can shake that tag too.

  16. PD

    >If we had the spending power do you seriously think Wenger wouldn’t spend? Last year we were in desperate need of a defender and he could only sign Sol (god love him). Do you seriously think he wouldn’t have spent more if he could.

    Yes,I do.Absolutely 100%.I firmly believe that.
    There is loads of cash available now – the financials bear it out.
    (and the credit for that is Wenger’s-I know this)
    He wants to win the league but on his terms only.i.e.being proved right is now more important to him than anything else.
    That’s why I’ve lost faith.

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