Down On His Luck, Brow-beaten But Arsène Is Not Broken. Jack Is…

When you are down on your luck, the footballing gods waste no time in putting their size 11s in as Arsène found this week. Jack Wilshere had adopted a talismanic status, the saviour of the season; it seems unlikely that he will be that. That the manager offered nothing more has been taken as a signal that the setback reported yesterday means his comeback will be in March/April/May/Euro2012/2012-13/Never (delete as appropriate depending on the reading of your own gloom-o-meter). Nobody knows, publicly at least, what the real scenario is or even dares to posit any theory which holds credibility; we have to wait and see.

It has intensified the despondency that hangs in the air following the recent run of defeats. By every measure, this has been the worst January during Arsène’s reign; never before has one of his Arsenal sides lost more games than it has won in this month or failed to take even a solitary league point. Quite simply it has been abysmal and as such, intensified the desire for new faces. Criticism now is now founded on an imponderable; Arsène’s failure to buy someone for £10m has cost the club £30m in Champions League money since that new face would have prevented the defeats at Fulham and Swansea whilst single-handedly beating Manchester United. No-one can prove it but like a great many criticisms of this season and those before, this has become an accepted fact without any substance behind it.

We simply will never know if a new signing would have made the difference in any or all of those three matches. As the window has passed without activity, deflated resignation is evident over the lack of business in the transfer market. Arsène observed yesterday that, at a push, he will have four left backs so does not need to sign one. The shifting sands upon which that theory is built are all too apparent. Santos is not fit and won’t be for another month or two, Gibbs returns to training on Monday but his injury record is such that for the moment at least, no-one can rely on him being available for more than a month whilst Bacary Sagna will soon be the only fit right back, Arsène’s relief barely disguised with that announcement. Which leaves Vermaelen.

Whilst I would agree that there is probably enough scope for the club to do without a left back now, it largely depends on Gibbs fitness. Miquel has promise but more centrally than as a full back. I understand the manager’s bluff; he is defending his squad, promoting the view that it is big enough and more to the point, good enough. The latter, through a succession of injuries and lack of confidence, is debatable. The players do not suddenly become bad overnight no matter what sage may opine that they do but personally, I have advocated two signings this winter; a left back and a good central option as back-up for Robin van Persie. I have already conceded the first but Marouane Chamakh is out of form, which is a fact. Why is almost irrelevant, simply that something needs to be done to cover the final months of the season.

The cost is already being felt. Not through goals but a lack of options on the bench. I am not going to revisit last Sunday’s reaction specifically but there is a definite sense that the trust in the manager’s judgement is waning. Yet it is still only a very vocal minority who want him replaced. Largely, it seems that a change of ideas is desired. A change of attitude. Less stubborness. A change of some sort. A change.

I contend that this is not going to happen. Arsène’s strength as a manager is also his weakness; stubborness and an unyielding public belief in his players. The latter is part of the PR game and that nuance is often overlooked by the stated desire for change. Quite simply, what is said on the training pitch and in the dressing room, stays there and does not find its way in any detail to the back pages. In that, you can see a relatively united squad. Malcontents are often the source of such leaks and there rarely is anything of the sort from the Arsenal dressing room. It does not mean that they are too nice, simply that they believe in, and respect, each other. A good sign surely.

And that is one that can be built on. The overwhelming negativity of that substitution has been taken as the general feeling within the stadium. That, we know, is not true. Largely The Emirates is supportive of the manager; dissension to one decision does not break the foundations. Arsène observed,

I always believe the fans’ reaction depends on us. It is the team that has to get the fans behind them, and the fans have to be proud of the team. The vibes have to come from us. Part of our job is to live with those emotional reactions. It is maybe becoming a bit more common in the modern world and you cannot ignore it, but you should not give it too much importance.

I will live forever for the values I think are right in football. One or two lost games or one or two bad reactions will not change that.

Football is a game of emotions which leads to an irrational logic taking hold at times, not just when things are bad either. Fragility of confidence on the pitch is reflected by those off it strikes me that is no different to how it was at Highbury. Collective groans there could be more damaging such was the proximity to the pitch. The manager sought to deflect away from the unsaid part of the bargain. The crowd lifting the players, something which must happen.

It is said that the players ought not to need lifting, they are playing for Arsenal. That confers the support we have for the club onto them. For the most part, they are not supporters. They play for the club, for each other, for professional and personal pride; to win. They will, when their time is up, for the most part want the club to do well, wanting the best. But right now, as much as we require a lift in our spirits from them, they need to know that the crowd is with them. A nice thought for tomorrow when we are at the ground.

My cup weekend starts today at The King Power Stadium. If you are not going anywhere, pop over to Arsenal On This Day for cup memories of a time when a Town had yet to become a City.

’til Tomorrow.



172 thoughts on “Down On His Luck, Brow-beaten But Arsène Is Not Broken. Jack Is…

  1. Ha ha. I was sleeping, just woke up to find the magic number. Utterly shocking. Though I must admit I haven’t seen the match at all, did not get time to watch it. I can only afford to watch Arsenal whenever they play these days.

  2. Jonny,

    I think that is a given unless AW wants to avoid a repeat of the 70th minute dilemma of the last match. In which case he may just start AA and replace him.

    Alternatively the Ox Laddy takes that spot and is not replaced. Niet niet

  3. Happy birthday Limpar. we share a birthday.

    Darius good to have you back, Jonny, Andrewarsenal, George and Consolsbob,Keyser, Evil and Paul have been doing a good job of keeping this place upbeat despite the usual suspects making their appearances after our losses.

    It is good that manure are out, i always love it when they lose, now lets beat villa tomorrow and it will be a very welcome belated bd present.

  4. Happy birthday FL and Limpar – my birthday weekend was mildly jarred by the loss to the scum – I’m confident however that better things await you both tomorrow.

    Have an excellent day/evening however you choose to celebrate.

  5. @ Yogi, I have had a think and I have few questions for Lee Dixon


    1. How connected does he feel to the club? How often does he return?

    2. Has he been surprised by how big and popular Aresenal FC have become globally?

    3. Does he think management in the premiership has changed over the past 20 years? If so how & why?

    4. Why did he choose to be a commentator over direct involvement in the game like Steve Bould or Tony Adams?

    5. What was his best win for Arsenal as a spectator?

    6. Best win for Arsenal as a player?

    7. The player he hated playing against the most and why?

  6. Questions for Lee Dixon


    1. Arsene Wenger has overseen a massive transition at the club and brought the club unbelieveable success in recent years. But he doesn’t seem to have many fans in the press pack or with former players of the club. Why is their such a lack of respect towards him or why does he attract such criticism compared to other managers?

    2. Does he think the criticism of Arsene Wenger is fair considering Arsenal’s trophy drought?

    3. The career of a football player can be very short so is it unrealistic for fans to expect players to play for one club their whole career like Tony Adams and not try to maximise their fortunes like Nasri?

    4. As a boyhood Man City fan and as a pro player, would he of loved to be apart of the revolution taking place at the moment? What are his thoughts about what Man C are doing on the pitch under the guidance of Mancini and off the pitch in terms of the transfer market?

    5. Arsene Wenger’s teams for a number of years have been criticised from the outset of the season as not strong enough. Looking at the team that was assembled by Man City at the start of the season, did he think they would win the quadruple? This time last year, Arsenal were still in all 4 competitions, despite their supposed poor squad, tough playing schedule and extreme weather conditions. So in the very least is he suprised that Man C were unable to make it out of the group stages of the Champions League and are out of the CC and FA cup’s already? Is he critical of the owner Mansour, manager Mancini, individual players or as a team?

    6. As a paid observer, he watches and analyses a lot of games, so if he could give some advice to an Arsenal player he thinks is struggling at the moment, who and what would it be?

    7. Dixon’s widely known for his Arsenal career, but he often places more emphasis on his England international status. So I would like to know if he thinks playing for England has lost some of it’s prestige amongst players with the advent of the mysterious injuries and illnesses that appear just prior to the international week and clear up almost immeadiately after? If he does agree that some players now prefer to choose club over country, who does he think is at fault? Players, managers, media, FA?

    8. When he was still playing, the back pass was outlawed which affected tactics and the way the game was played. What does he think of the changes made to the rules of the game since and their administration by referee’s? As a defender, what does he think of the art of tackling and off side rule in it’s present form?

    Of course all of these can and hopefully will be rephrased more eloquently by some one with better command of the english language.

  7. Looks like I might eventually get my wish for the Ox, just not tomorrow.

    AW – “He can play centrally as well but he has grown up as a winger. And now I think as well he can play central midfield because he can produce a long pass, he can dribble. At that age, you know, you start first on the wing”.

  8. OK, I will phrase it another way. For the first time in quite a while I have seen potential that one of our wide men could change/impact on a game. And I don’t mean one moment in a match which Theo and AA have both produced recently, I mean throughout a game.

  9. Ok Andy .Just saying,he did little in the first half and only played half of the second half.Yet you call that “throughout a game.”
    I am also looking forward to him in the future,but I am not getting carried away.He is still a fringe player for me.

  10. Agree with you, Evil!

    Have to agree with Arsene on this one, though, filthy dirty and sick though it makes me feel.

    And nice to see the Pathetic Sharks have gone out of the FA Cup. Shame it was Pool that dumped them out of it, but hey.
    *hurriedly writes and posts copy of letter to karma sent before Leeds game substituting “ManUre” and “Aston Villa” for “Man City” and “Leeds” respectively*

  11. WE have the best back 5 in the league, potentially, once they are all fit of course. That is something that the lazy hacks, clueless pundits and certain so-called Gooners will find hard to handle! But its true man, fucking brilliant! Yet every time we concede a goal and yes, we have let ourselves down a few times, the old shite about our defense being poor comes back. No other team suffers that shit. Look at ManU FFS! Piss poor keeper and defensive frialities for all to see. Will they get tarred with that brush? Will they fuck!

    Its so fucking annoying that we have so many injuries and even though I’ve bored everyone, except George who thinks I am a footbballing collossus, with my moaning about new signings, we do have the makings of a great team.

    Come on Arsenal, lets smash McFergie Jr’s cloggers tomorow and who knows, maybe actually, possibly, you never know, erm win a fucking trophy! 🙂

  12. I agree with George. Oxo kid is potential at the moment, would be horrible for him to dsuffer the same shite as Theo and others. All the pressure, expecting him to change games, work wonders. Let him come through naturally. He is in a win/win situation at present. That would soon change if we started to rely on him.

  13. Yogi;

    Question for Lee Dixon, if it aint too late?

    “Are the pundits directed/advised what they should discuss, or not discuss? ie; Does some director type tell them what clips they will be punditing? Ta

  14. JamesM

    Your comments are full of spite mate. You need to check your head, as well as your supporter credentials man.

  15. So, going out Friday/Saturday and then staying in Sat night means I’m billy no mates then does it? Sweet.

  16. George I was just skimming through today’s stuff and saw a post earlier today man. If I can be arsed, I will locate it for ya man.

  17. Wouldn’t expect to see either Sagna or Arteta in the squad. Would say that Yennaris should start at RB, like he should’ve in the 3 or 4 previous games.

    Doubt he’ll play The Ox, Walcott and Arshavin in the same team. Actually, what I meant to say was that given Villa’s counter-attacking game and the pace of Albrighton and Agbonlahor, he shouldn’t play 3 players who don’t protect the defence. Doesn’t mean he won’t…

    Am I being over sensitive PG?

  18. YW seems overly depressed these days – I think he has made too many appearances this season. Next he’ll be arranging pre-match meet ups with Suga, Jabba, AIC and AA (the plastic one, not the Russian genius).

    MY opinion differs only regarding the backup to RVP. I really believe Theo,marauane, 3gs and our midfilders will come good and start producing goals, if RVP IS given some games off and these guys and the mids develope some Chem. Amongst themselves. As it is, everyone is passing up chances just that RVP ,THE HOT HAND, gets to finish. He is ,in all their minds, the final stop. All roads end with him and everyone is looking for him. They won’t start producing by coming off the bench for five or ten minutes. Players don’t become bad overnight.

    If anyone was coming in, I wish it to be an SPECIALIZED. FULLBACK. the guys we are playing in these positions right now are doing an admirable job, but it’s not the same as our regular fullbacks. And our game is suffering because of it. They can’t do what our regulars were doing and. AW will not change formation to make it possible for them to do so, WITHOUT GETTING INJURED. I believe the massive amount. Of injuries we are seeing in the back now are do to playing these stopgaps in place of our regulars and expecting them to do the same job. CANT ASK A FERRARI TO DO THE JOB OF A TRUCK AND VICE VERSA.
    We are thin both at RB AND LB. PERFERABLY the fullbacks coming in would know how to fill in for song also as his cover is becoming thinner by the day. With frimpong on lone and injured. Le coq. Also injured. Very very disappointed regarding WILSHIRE’S news . Both for him and the crew.

    I had no idea you also liked lesciter city and followed them.

  20. @ YW
    plz ask mr. Dixon which of the managers he played were tops in his book and. Why…
    Tnx a million……. 🙂

  21. or better yet.
    If he had a son with potential which manager in the epl ,past or present, would be his choice. For his son to play for, that is….

  22. Dexter – “WE have the best back 5 in the league, potentially, once they are all fit of course

    An interesting thought. I would not go as far as five as Santos is good, but by no means the left back in the lge.

    We may well have 4 of the best in their positions in the lge, but that stats would tell a different story. I think some our of our players individually may be the best in their positions, but they are not as a unit. Are there lies the problem.

  23. We have no evidence for he pat number of years that we would have the best defensive unit in the lge. Most of them have played together at varying points (but not consistently), but I just don;t think our team is set up to deliver the best defence in the lge. Just my opinion George.

    That said, the likes of Manure and Chelsea are rarely able to field a regular back 5, so we are not that different in that sense.

  24. George, but not in recent years (which is what we are talking about). My short memory serves me well in discussion abut the short term.

  25. I think we could well have the best defensive players in the league. Kos is going to be one of the top 5 in the world in the next couple of years and someone we can build around. Chezzer also potential to be in the top 10 of world GK. They need to be more consistent. We have scored 4 goals in the last 3 games which should have given us at least 5 points. Hopefully they will get back to their best soon.

  26. George, ha just got back from a crazy funky German rock bar. Excellent night. Thought I would have a nightcap and see what is going on in the world before going to bed.

  27. Dups -You and me both mate. Playing guitar for a few hours tomorrow as well, so good prep I suppose.

  28. Unbelievable. Just had a quick look at Arsenal Newsnow. The range of headlines is ridiculous and appalling.

    Any number of knobs to read saying dire things about our club and arene.

    The world needs a wake up.

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