“When we have to deliver, we can’t”

Ring any bells?

There are several dozen infuriating things about yesterday, all of them still fizzing away in my brain. It might be cathartic for me to list them but it would tip you all so far over the edge that it would be cruel.

But the thing I find most worrying of all, worse than the defeat itself, which had to happen one day, is the continuing seam of mental frailty that runs through this team. We can be brilliant, stubborn, resilient one weekend and we can collapse like a pack of cards the next. I don’t know how many times I have been forced to bring it up on the blog. Far too many.

For the fan – or for me, anyway – not knowing which Arsenal will turn up is the ultimate purgatory. Yesterday we even managed to squeeze both Arsenals into one match.

Technically, physically, these players are all good enough. But collectively there’s something missing and with dismal timing, after an almost faultless first half, the team migrated south at the first sign of a Spuds revival. As soon as Bale made it 2-1, I knew it could happen. There was an air of inevitability about it all.

It doesn’t always rear its head in a game, or even for two or three or four. But at some point it comes back, we switch off, and by the time we switch back on it’s all over.

Yesterday the players thought it was job done at half time, they saw the prize and the hula girls and the martinis and the adulation, and they must have started celebrating a bit in the head. That they switched off for a moment and conceded a goal is fairly normal. That they were unable to stop the rot is not.

Wenger talks about consistency all the time, but when the top of the table looms invitingly, we fail to show it. As he himself said, “What is worrying for me is that we had an opportunity to go to the top of the league and when we have to deliver we can’t.”

We started the season going five games before defeat. The next unbeaten run was three matches long. Then we went on a two-match unbeaten run before losing yesterday.

Despite all this, we are still in a very strong position in the league. But would you bet on us going on the kind of long run required to win it?

Or are we more likely to win three of four before succumbing once again?

Sadly, I know what my money would be on.

I maintain we are not far away. But we need to learn to concentrate, to focus 100% of the time, to cut out the errors, and we are showing no signs of doing that.


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

This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. Clive P

    Spot on. Title line worries me. This was a moment in our teams history. Have we hit a mental wall we cannot get over. Has wenger realised we have that component missing. Lose to Cfc at home and we have the answer

  2. RotorGoat

    He must know, because it keeps recurring. How he fixes it short of buying in a cryogenically reborn Tony Adams though, I don’t know.

  3. aj

    I felt at 2-1 we had control of the game again after letting one in.Wenger then made a crucial mistake and didn’t put on Van Persie for Chamakh, who was tired and well off the pace.If Van Persie had come on at the right time we could have stretched them again and maybe got a third.Once the equalizer went in it was too late.They had the momentum back.He made the right decision at Everton and took off Jack at half-time when he was struggling.Why not this week. Also I don’t know why Djourou was dropped,he was outstanding at Everton.The buck stops with the manager,that’s why he gets 6 million a year.

  4. Clive P

    Maybe right. What bothers me is I bet we beat Villa when there is less heat on. We keep missing out when it counts – now apathy is setting in amoungst the fans- that’s dangerous.

  5. bt62 gooner

    Hi,have to agree with you i said after watching another Arsenal implusion a while back that we would not win anything of importance as long as Wenger is in charge.I have not seen anything to make me change my mind.Who buys these players,decides tactics and picks the team? One answer WENGER!!Who coaches and manages? Wenger!!! Who does he answer to? it would appear tobe nobody!! Was he given a new contract because we are winning trophies or because we keep making a profit and finishing in top four? I think its an easy answer as we havn’t won a trophy.Let’s face it Tiny Totts did have to do much to win.

  6. Jim

    The same nightmare recurs season after season. Every year we’re going backwards. The board are liars. The manager is a liar. Tell me where is the investment in quality players? You guys milk every single pennny of the fans’ hard earnings. We’re paying the most expensive tickets on the planet for what? When will this exploitation ever stop? We believe in the Arsenal club and what do we get in return? Nothing. You guys in the Arsenal board stuff profit and money up your arses and don’t give a s..t about the fans, the club and its history. How can you guys in the board claim to be the custodian this glorious club? You forfeit the control of the Arsenal club to a madman because he returns you profit.

  7. Clive P

    What saddens me is we are a sleeping giant. The pl explosion over the last five years has stepped up to a new level. Imagine if we won something the club would explode to a new level. All basics are there talent is there. Mentality is weak and I’m not sure if this can be fixed. This group has too many scars in it’s
    DNA – the 4-4 the man yoo and cfc games a plenty, Wigan just too many to ignore. I love arsenal and the way the club tries to do things but in our lives an normal jobs we all have. Repeated failure leads to a change. Either you learn fast and change your behaviour or you get changed – is it time for personnel change?

    I’m starting to think that moment is fast approaching!

  8. Mark

    Wenger has done good things and bad things for Arsenal, let’s be honest. We would not be playing in our fine new stadium if it were not for him. I preferred life at Highbury, but I can see why the new place is a good thing.

    But on the other hand, the mentality of the players that he was developed and purchased is badly wrong, with very few exceptions. There is a cancer in the culture of the club and the only way it can be cut out is by removing the manager and starting afresh with someone new. I genuinely believe that a new manager of the quality of Mourinho/Hiddink/Ancelotti/van Gaal would win the league with the current squad because they could change the collective mentality.

    I have had a season ticket since as long as I could afford it, but my love for the club is failing and it is because of one man. I am working through in my mind the idea of giving up the season ticket until he is gone. What a very sad state of affairs.

  9. RedandDread

    Unfortunately Wengers teams have a history of that. Even the invincibles fucked it up! Leading 1-0 at home against Chelsea with one 1/2 to play and we are into the semi-finals of the CL and we lose. Then in the league (after having lost to MANU in the semi’s of the FA Cup that week) they went 2-0 down to Liverpool. Okay we came back to win but that week and particulalry the loss to Chelsea made me wonder about Wenger’s ability to win the big ones. Maybe I am splitting hairs because we went undefeated in the league but what most don’t appreciate was that we had the best team in Europe that year-we lost to a Chelsea team that had not beaten us (guessing here) about 25 attempts(sounds familiar). We were leading 1-0 at home (with an away goal in the bank) and we shipped two goals in the 2nd half-one early and one very late and all that happened to cause that was Chelsea applied some pressure-fucking Raineri was coach. Wenger’s team’s , even his greatest have been shown mental fraility when confronted with their greatest challanges. His 2002-2003 team blew the Title. His 1999 team missed a penalty in the FA Cup semi in the last minute and fell to Gigg’s wonder goal. His 2000 team lost to GALATASARY on penalties in the UEFA Cup final. His 2004-2005 lost their unbeaten streak and promptly went to pot. His 2007/08 team blew the title. His 2005/2006 team surrendered a 1-0 lead against Barcelona with 15 mins to go. His 2007/08 team coudn’t hang onto a 2-2 draw at Liverpool (having squandered umpteen chances inhe1st leg and clearly being the better team) int eh CL 1/4 final. The list goes on and on.

    That we won so much was down to fantastic talents that we had in the teams of the glory years, certianly not down to his tactical ability to set up his teams and coax his teams to victories in the hardest of games.

    His shortcomings as a coach are now being shown up on a regular basis as his recent teams have not had the stellar talents of bygone years. We have seen some great football and I for one appreciate that but we have wasted some of the biggest and best opportunties to put Arsenal at the top of the heap and that my friends is down to Wenger’s shortcomings as a coach. Many have been saying it for years-“we will not win anything with Wenger as manager’. Well, after yesterday’s debacle I now believe it because when we need to deliver the team has too many collective weaknesses to deliver the goods!

    We have been serial bottlers under Wenger for a while but the chickens are coming home to roost now.

    He has had 6 years to build a defence a system that will allow us to stand up against the best when it really matters and has continually failed , time after time after time.

    Enough I say. I love Arsene but his shortcomings will see us continue to flatter to deceive and fail to deliver when we really need to deliver!

  10. Goons_with_Guns

    Our defence has been generally pathetic since the CL final run of 2006.

    Wenger spends too much time training the team to score goals and too little time training the team to defend, especially counter attacks and set pieces.

    No chance of a title for a while until this is corrected.

  11. Richard E

    I sent out a missing persons report 11 men in red and white shirts last seen in the Islington area at about 13:15 failed to reappear for the second half of a football match.

    I agree with you that we showed those frailties again, the same frailties we showed at Goodison last week when at 2-0 and comfortable we started to panic towards the end.

    Yesterday the same again, when Bale scored we chased the ball and were too impatient to get forward when we did win the ball that we kept gifting possession to Spurs and allowing them to get back further into the game and grow in belief above and beyond what the goal created. We then gifted them a penalty from a harsh free kick and as we pushed forward for a winner at 2-2 left our weak central defensive pair to deal with an ever rampant Spurs attack.

    Its the way we play, if we haven’t realised that yet we are fools.

    Wenger has always asked that his players play without fear unfortunately you can’t instil that mentality into the team and we seem to play with a lot of fear whenever we concede a goal now.

    As for the comments above on Wenger you people need to have a look at what went before him, then you have to look at what he brought to the club, then you have to look at where we are now in comparison to the rest of the league.

    No fan has a right to expect to win anything, we all of course hope for it, but we pay our money we give our support and we get what we are given.

    If you seriously think we would be better off without Wenger, show me a manager who has spent less and kept his side in the Champions League for as many years and who has delivered as much profit to the club he works for.

    Yes the board is holding Wengers spending back, he tows the party line because he understands that is a far better option than criticising the club for its financial frugality. Football is I am afraid a business, the day a foreign owner lumps millions into Arsenal is the day I consider my future supporting the club, as it won’t be our club anymore.

    Our board has got out club to where it is, Wenger has delivered over and above every year with the budget constraints he faces. Every year the press write Arsenal off as the year they slip out of the Top 4, every year we prove otherwise, in fact the last time it nearly happened we still had Henry and Pires and needed West Ham to beat Spurs on the last game of the season. We have qualified far more comfortably every year since then.

    For anyone to question Wenger is frankly ridiculous, who on earth else would you suggest we get to manage this team? Cesc would go, Nasri would follow, probably Song too, and Van Persie wouldn’t be far behind, as much as they love playing for the club they love playing for Wenger more, with him gone you could not guarantee we would see them around for much longer, unless the replacement is a Bergkamp, Adams and Bould coalition, about the only thing that would maybe better Wenger at the moment, but they all still have a lot to prove and learn in management/coaching before that day arrives.

    As a gooner exiled to Norfolk I don’t have the fortune to go to the Grove every week, but I do try and make every away game that ticket allocation allows. At away games the fans get behind the team sing their hearts out and support. You can hear a pin drop at the Grove when we concede, if we we’re away a volley of Arsenal Arsenal from the away end is more likely as the fans try and rouse the team.

    Too many Grove regulars are eating their Minstrels and doughnuts or worried about whats for lunch at half time, zero atmosphere is not good for the team. Make some bloody noise! At 2-1 up yesterday the place should have risen up as one to get behind the team, instead groans and whimpers are heard every time someone misplaces a pass. Fans have a much responsibility as the team to lift performances on the pitch.

    For the last couple of years I have hoped for periods of medicority because then hopefully we will see a dwindling of the prawn sandwich brigade and instead an influx of red members who can then sit in the lower tiers at £38 rather than the upper at £58 and sit and watch a game from minute 1 to minute 95 without leaving early to avoid the rush on the tubes or to make sure they can grab their half time burger. And at the same time singing their hearts out.

    Spurs beat us for the first time since 1993 at home, it had to happen sometime, law of averages says so. We are still 3rd we are still 2 points behind Chelsea, and Spurs are 4 points behind us, would you rather Owen Coyle, Harry Redknapp, Roberto Mancini, Mark Hughes, Rafa Benitez, David Moyes, Martin O’Neill? I think i’ll stick with Arsene thanks very much, beautiful football the likes of I have never seen from the Arsenal in my 30 years of watching them.

    And as for the “Sleeping Giant” comment…..REALLY!!!! I bet Newcastle, West Brom, Aston Villa, Man City would love to have our recent history, what makes us non Sleeping Giant winning a trophy? I admit it would be nice but every season the slate is wiped clean there are 4 trophys to play for, there are at least 4 or 5 teams who could feasibly win the Premier League, 8-10 teams who could arguably win the Champions League, and the FA Cup and Carling Cup can come down to the lottery of the draw or rest on a incorrect decision by a ref. I’ll keep Wenger thank you very much, Top 4 every year, Champions League football and a glimmer of hope, its what being a football fan is about, demanding success is a sure way to football fan depression and knee jerk reaction.

  12. Ibrahim

    We can not blame Wenger for this defeat. Wenger create a top side with minimum spending in the last years. The quality we have on the field can win the league. But no one can win without fighting, we did not fight in the second half.

    The table never lies, we are third, actualy we are two poins from the top. We can still take it. Everybody has a bad start because of the small difference in the level between most teams in the league.

    You can expect evey team (even from the big four) to drop points each game. Three or may be even two wins in a row can see us on the top of the table… But that is not the point. The point is What Wenger said; concentration until the final whistle ..

    I still believe we will win the league this year ..

  13. aj

    Ibrahim.Yes you can blame Wenger.He’s ultimately responsible.It’s his team and his players.If they can’t do it,it’s because he’s got the wrong players.It’s guys like you that allow the club to get away with what they’re doing.

  14. Clive P

    It was me with the sleeping giant comment!!

    What I meant was we are a giant club that has millions of fans and a win of note an that fanbase will explode – we are very close and the top 2 are very average and by rights WE are the ones that should improve and should be top already. Will we get a better chance to deliver ?

    Basics really. I don’t want to pick on players or even the manager. It’s the collective that counts.

    But look at the last goal Van P and Cesc marking Kaboul while both our centre backs hiding on the back post. Why does that happen,

    it’s details it’s leadership it’s about desire not to
    be beaten and develop that winning mentality it’s about the ability to deliver when it counts. That is top level sport.

    Arsenal need to develop that edge fast. Then the club will be as big as it really is and that will shock many.

  15. Richard E

    I understand Clive.

    I was having a bit of a rant having read most of the other comments on here, and having scanned back up noticed the Sleeping Giant comment. I know you are not one who was asking for Wenger to go. But it was just another bit of negativity that I do not need to see today after the result yesterday.

    The other negative Wenger bashers on here should stop reading the press that over criticises Wenger for failure to win trophies, most over clubs fans would love to see him leave us, and would love to have a Board as stable as ours which is giving the manager loyalty. How would we feel if we had Abramovich and he ousted Rice or Brady after the length of service and loyalty they have given to the club like he has done to Wilkins.

    On your centre backs at the far post: Why shouldn’t Van Persie mark Kaboul? Drogba picks up in defence, the centre backs also had to worry about Crouch and Gallas, there isn’t enough tall players in the Arsenal team to compete with the height of most oppositions so Van Persie must be the man to mark him.

    I think Arsene felt as let down by his sides second half performance as he has ever been, I hope he let Pat Rice at them after the game, problem is the group does not seem capable of taking a rollicking, hence why the squad didn’t like Gallas.

    Arsene won’t criticise the players as some managers (Fergie) might in post match interviews, but yesterday he came as close a I have seen to it.

    We are a gnats wotsit away from something big, despite the experience the heart of the team is still young in age, and it is only a matter of time before we achieve something. RVP needs to step up to the plate and lead the team when he returns to start matches as the most experienced (in age player). And we can’t see The Verminator return soon enough.

  16. Clive P

    Never commented on this of any site before buy you guys know your stuff and it’s great you can have an opinion without being abused for it!

    Thanks for listening and we shall be back!!

  17. argonaut

    We have a lot of technically gifted players, but not many that have the character to kill off a game or dig deep when the chips are down. Where’s the steely determination to wipe the floor with the opposition? Who are the players that will pump their fists in the air and gee their team mates up?

    I saw an interview with Theo the other day, and he was asked who were the players that stoked up the dressing room before a match, and he laughed and said that wasn’t their way of doing things. That says a lot to me: complacency, indifference, a lack of passion. I’m not saying that as individuals they don’t care, but it does bring their sense of being a team into question.

    This team has little in the way of fighting spirit, hunger to win and the killer instinct that true champions have. Until they find that, or players are brought in that do, then Arsenal will always fall short.

  18. StevieG

    Gibbs for Clichy please asap……

  19. Richard E

    I saw the sane interview with Theo and Cesc and it made mr laugh when they said that wasn’t the way they did things, that they were more “European”.

    Think I understand that, if we wanted to play like Stoke and Blackburn then that’s what you need. But truth is we are footballers not fighters. We value the way to play more than the result sometimes.

    I also think we are trying to change having had too many dodgy results last year it seems the team is prepared to attempt to shut up shop. I think unfortunately that we haven’t got the players to do this so should just carry on going forward and take what comes

  20. Michael Thomas 4

    “I maintain we are not far away.” I am sorry but we are getting futher away with every season. Let’s stop the awestruck luvvying of Arsene & start seriously analysing what is actually going on here. Don’t swallow what he says post-match, it is clearly a manager with a job for life. Doesn’t that bother you for a start?

  21. 433

    Interesting tags. You’ll be getting traffic from people looking for the definition of complacency, and they should be in good stead.

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