The Chance Exists: Are Minds Focussed On Taking It?

Thanks to Big Al for standing in with yesterday’s match report. The world certainly seems a brighter place than on Friday when the Chicken Little’s were running around screeching about how Arsenal could be out of the top five by the time of kick-off tomorrow at Molineux. Fortunately the players are made of sterner stuff and produced an excellent performance against Manchester City. Combined with the putrid offerings by Tottenham and Chelsea, there is a real chance to put daylight and substantial pressure on those two by taking six points from the trip to Wolves and the visit of Wigan.

To put matters into perspective, that sequence of events followed by victory over Chelsea will leave Arsenal eleven points clear of fourth with Newcastle entertaining Stoke before Spurs visit QPR. The fixtures have been re-arranged for the final week of the season so that gap remains and probably grows more daunting in the minds of the pursuers.

But it brings its own pressure on the Arsenal players. This is a golden opportunity to all but seal third place and with that comes the weight of expectation. As much as those who were panicked by the media-led farce about being out of the top five, there is an inherent complacency that exists about a trip to Wolves and Wigan coming to The Emirates. That mindset cannot extend to the squad and nor should it. Theo Walcott admitted that complacency set in before the trip to QPR and Arsenal were duly punished.

Speaking in the aftermath of the win over City, Thomas Vermaelen placed his emphasis on organisation and concentration as the traits that will underpin a successful end to the season,

…in the Premier League, everybody can beat everybody, we can all drop points. You have to be focused, because every game will be hard. In some games we have shown a lot of quality and we can compete with everybody. But you have to be consistent in the league and sometimes that’s not been the case for us. But we will try to do that better next year. I’m confident we can do that.

Ending the season on a positive note, finishing third when ludicrous talk of relegation mirrored the season’s changes as summer drifted into autumn, lays important foundations for next season. It also offers the manager scope to negotiate with new and existing players, pointing out that his optimism for a new campaign is not unfounded.

Many factors beyond Arsenal’s control may influence outcomes adversely. The standard of officiating this weekend has highlighted how poor standards are at the moment. Or perhaps the benefit of mass broadcasting is that we know all of the officials are poor rather than it just being those who officiate at Arsenal. I took some reassurance – I hasten to add that I use that word in its loosest possible sense – that Stuart Atwell was as poor at handling Swindon Town versus Northampton Town yesterday as he has been in Premier League fixtures. Diabolical offside decisions and cast-iron penalties being missed are not the sole preserve of the upper echelons of the professional game.

You sense that the balance of experience and youth is right throughout the squad. In some cases they are contained in one player, Theo Walcott for example has made 216 Arsenal appearances (including 78 as substitute) and whilst it has not been his most consistent season – I think that was 2007-08), his productivity is better with defensive awareness continually improving. This is no doubt a result of having an experienced head such as Bacary Sagna behind him and the Frenchman’s influence cannot be underestimated.

The key is noting the importance of individuals such as Mikel Arteta but also not forgetting that bit part players such as Benayoun have key roles to play. Once again, he played well in a big match. As Vermaelen observed, the shape of the side looks good at the moment and they are defending more consistently than at any point during the season. The pre-Christmas good form stumbled at Eastlands before collapsing against Wolves at home. That point was the last until Bolton; it serves as a reminder that even the routine fixtures can be stumbling blocks.

If that does not focus minds, nothing will. On that note, I will vacate the pulpit and leave the sermon to Mr Herbert Chapman of The Arsenal.

’til Tomorrow.

350 thoughts on “The Chance Exists: Are Minds Focussed On Taking It?

  1. Paul, I don’t really want to get into a tit for tat about it mate. I just thought people jumped on Bill, when what he said was not that bad really. It was just his take on the game, and one I could understand.

  2. For what it’s worth, my own selective memories of the Barca match:

    Our strategy of weathering the early storm and then striking back worked at the Emirates. There were signs (but, thanks to the promotion-seeking ref, we will never know) that it was starting to work at Camp Nou.

    When Pep, in his tactical talk, said “you need to strangle the opposItion”, he can’t have imagined that the players would take him literally.

  3. I also thought the whole Bill bashing thing wasn’t cool, but he handled himself rather well as he always does.
    Bill is a model poster on this site imo, never takes himself too seriously, but clearly as passionate about the Arsenal as anyone else on here that I’ve seen, except maybe for Yogi (keeping a blog like this running for all these years is even beyond passionate)

  4. It’s ironic but Liverpool just scabbed a win by accidentally playing to Andy Carroll’s strengths; something they’ve not done all season.

    It’s cost them a lot of money to be able to play like that all season. Ditto the dreadful Mancs. At least the Chavs won stuff for all the squillions squandered on them …

    And still the ‘pool fans celebrate as if they’ve won a cup final.

    So sad.

    They were once a great club.

    I was having a big clear out at home earlier today and found my copy of The Daily Mirror from the morning after we won at Anfield in ’89; the whole front page given over to Tony Adams and Arsenal. I’d forgotten I had it; I handled it as if it was the Shroud of Turin (only more precious).

    That was the day LIverpool stopped being a great club.

  5. The FA proves yet again that they’re a punch of wankers, why didn’t Balotelli get banned for his blatent, leg breaking challenge on Song? What’s their explanation for no action?

    Every one saw it, every one said it was a red card offense, every one talked about it, so why not punish him? Is it because it didn’t really break Song’s leg? Or is it because “Poor Balotelli, every one is getting on his back”?

    Consistency breads fairness FA, but I guess you don’t know anything about that.


    Such a shame Carlos does not want to come back to Arsenal. He is on fire in Spain. I wish him the best though. I always liked him.

    Nice to see the reserves doing well for themselves with a good old fashioned 1 nil to the Arsenal up at Newcastle. And good for Thomas Eisfeld scoring his first goal for the club in only his second game to go with the assist in his first! Could be a promising prospect.

  7. On the topic of bias, Untold and the non Arsenal site Debatable Decisions, and a further non Arsenal site listed Arsenal as being the side with the most bad decisions against.

    That’s not one of the worst, or near the bottom, all three sites have us as stone bottom of the league on decisions against us.

    Wenger also pointed out a season or two back that Arsenal had the worst fouls to cards ration in the league by a serious margin.

    Furthermore, there was a site by an ex-ref, can’t recall his name off hand, but he is a Middlesbrough fan, who based a table on where clubs would have been on the table baed on key incorrect decisions. Lo and behold, Arsenal were the single team in the op 4 who would have improved their position if the correct calls had been made.

    To add to the dishonesty of the FA (no, it’s not incompetence, it’s dishonesty), look at wrighty’s site, he asked FIFA about this so-called review rule, and the FA are flat out lying about that, notwithstanding that they contravened their own “rule” on that when hey retrospectively reviewed Ben Thatcher’s punishment a few seasons back.

    So if the FA can flat out lie about something, do some of you seriously believe these pieces of shit are pristinely honest about other things like refs?

    Honestly, the belief that “it can’t happen in OUR league” borders on being a trifle xenophobic in my opinion (a bit like the “diving is a foreign thing”).

  8. I completely agree with Fingunn and Arsenal Andrew

    ‘But there are enough clever people on here to create a PR effect. In fact, it’s happening already. By helping to create publicity around the low level of EPL refereeing and how it can be raised, we are adding to the pressure to change. And if and when the level of refereeing can be raised even a little, the Beautiful Game keeps on being beautiful and it helps the team. I’d rather discuss how we can help than the unprovable causes for things being the way they are. Or is someone here really of the opinion that EPL refereeing is good enough?’

    What is also important to note is that we being part of the public can make our voice heard politically through petitions or whatever mechanisms we resort to, without having to face any consequences. Such actions cannot be made by our club, unless and until, they have our backing to do so. Given how clever Arsene is, he will completely safeguard the club’s interest or not let it get out of favour at all. But we will manage to make a point, a very necessary one indeed. What more, I think more co-ordiantion between supporters of different clubs who have been victimized will serve our cause as well. But of course it would take a lot of time and effort.

    But it’s worth a shot. Why not? There is clearly a structural problem that needs to be addressed. If anything it will bring it into public knowledge out of the dark closed coffers.

    I think just based on the last 10 days we can build up a strong enough course. But we would also have to think beyond the actually existing law that is already in palce. The sort that led to the QPR guy’s appeal being rejected? What the fuck? Anyone with a fucking sense knows the mistake wasn’t on the players part, so why should he be punished? What kind of fucking law is that? And should we sit back and do nothing, because it’s stuffed down our throats that it’s law and the omnipotent football governing body can do whatever they want?

    Always remember, only a few key decisions can change the whole dynamics of the league as far as team positions are concerned.

    Moreover for those who are saying that football is allowed to run in a certain way, i.e, tactful fouling are completely abstracting from the issue at hand. That too is a significant issue that needs to be discussed and debated to change the pysche of British football, which clearly needs a total remake. Football can be played as an art, as some teams in the world try to do so. Their players aren’t plucked out of the sky but are trained as well as given autonomy to develop their talents and play in a certain way on the pitch. Haven’t we started producing our very own players who can play in a certain artistic way? Anyways.

    Yes. For those interested, we can look into this matter. The guy at Untold Arsenal used to do some interesting analysis of these referee decisions not so long ago. Maybe we’d need to go into archives or ask him directly.

  9. It’s funny that GA talks about selective memory and then proves to be a perfect example of exactly that phenomenon. The pass from Jack was very good and if Bendtner had put the ball onto his right boot instead of whatever he tried to do with his first touch it would’ve been probably a goal.

  10. On the topic of the Barca game, at some stage is was 1-1 was it not?

    At that point we were through because we won at home.

    What was the score when RvP got sent off?

    The ref, who few of us had ever heard of before, suddenly got promoted to head of uefa refs after that!

    And nobody finds that at all strange?

    All it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing.

  11. Goonerandy,

    ‘I don’t really see what Bill said as being particularly outlandish. On the night we were defending well, but there was no doubt Barca was in control. We had barely got out of our own half and Barca had indeed had a cast iron penalty turned down’

    How long have you been watching football for? So just that you’re such an ‘optimistic’ fan that you believe we wouldn’t have won anyways, you’re saying we shouldn’t question dubious decisions? How about not competing at all, sit home, the next time we play against a ‘stronger on paper’ team.

  12. Excellent posts there MikeSA, although Andy’s bound to suggest you like head wear made of kitchen foil or some other crazy ass german humour shizzle. 🙂

  13. ‘The ref, who few of us had ever heard of before, suddenly got promoted to head of uefa refs after that!’

    Actually you’re a bit mistaken but your point is right. That referee was actually one of the most competent referees of Europe who always got big games. So a decision like that coming from someone so experience stank of smelly influences. It’s the truth. What is the truth of that situation if not this? Investigation was necessary. It should be. Class action suit? Club action suit? Why should football have it’s own autonomous law that has no public accountability? We’re all sick of this. So where is the response from them to sort this mess out? No technology? Or add another stooge with the linesman?

  14. Well Ateeb, if he was one of the top refs, I certainly hadnt heard of him, nevertheless, his reaction to Wenger’s approach was exceptionally aggressive from what I could see on tv, and uefa’s reaction was also questionably vicious (best form of defense when you’re wrong is attack?).

    There is way too much “co-incidence” out there for this to be as a result of honest mistakes or merely incompetence, and yes, Arsenal ARE receiving the arse end of the deal, as itemized by even non Arsenal observers.

    Quite frankly, I find the insistence that “all is well, the authorities have our best interests at heart and are pure as the driven snow” bordering on loony tunes.

  15. BtW, I am very blunt in my meetings about people claiming to play devil’s advocate.

    As soon as someone even begins with that line, I tell them outright that as far as I’m concerned, anyone uttering that phrase effectively has “I am a cunt” tattooed on their forehead from that point on.

  16. In the end we had Barca’s number. Wenger’s gameplan for the match was a stroke of genius. We knew from before that they tired after the 60th minute, so he decided to let them come at us and then we’d hit them on the counter towards the end of the match. And it would’ve worked, if it hadn’t been for Busacca.

    On a more cheerful note, us and Inter are the only teams in recent times (last 4 years or so) to beat Barca in the knockout rounds of the CL. Clearly shows just how good as a team we are and where our potential lies. If only we can manage to hit those heights on a constant basis …

  17. mattgoonerknight | April 10, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    They’d only replace Robson with Tony Gale lol.

  18. Massimo Busacca was the ref. The score was 1-1 when he sent of RVP.

    Paul N you are correct. In every CL match he was in charge the Spanish club never lost.

  19. Alot of earnest keyboard bashing tonight my fellow left and some great points. I would say that my take on us is quite simple, we would have to do more than Man U to win the league, it would be harder for us across every aspect of our campign.

    in my opinion we get fouled more but get less free kicks, we don’t get penalties, we get more men sent off and concede more penalties, have more suspensions than Utd. I’m quite certain for example that the GPS statistical data exists that would show how other teams play harder against us than Man U. The sight of Scholes and Giggs against Bilboa as they were made to look what they are old men way past their best, is in stark contrast to the weekly free rides they enjoy against the majority of premiership clubs. I wouldn’t have it any other way, I want to win when everything is stacked against us, providing RVP stays in the summer this team will mount a huge challenge next year, weve been in championship form bar a blip in January since October. This gooners looks like a proper team.

  20. What really angers me is our fence sitters. This blog and elsewhere.
    ‘ ARSENAL ITSELF is mainly to blame for their position in the table and for the bad luck that has been their lot’

    Kind of like condemning. A rape victim for being the person at fault for the criminal assault. I’m disgusted. Shame on you.

  21. Excellent discussion going on. I want to pick out arsenalandrew for some top posts among several great contributions all around.

    AA, it would still be nice if the petition took off and got thousands, which would happen I think if it was picked up on twitter and the most popular blogs.

    Mingus, I agree it is a small initiative. One small step. The failure to punish Balotelli is very shocking and quite serious. Lead us to bigger and better action!

  22. Mattgoonerknight, would be happy to get the details to help manage the petition. Thanks again for getting it up and running.

  23. Goonerkam – There is so much wrong with your post at 1:49 I really don’t know where to start.

  24. Reading through some of the posts regarding the Barca game is quite eye opening, and the one thing that jumps out is the blatant hypocrisy of some posters.

    As far as the Barca game went I am comfortable they they were the better side, but we were defending very well and still had a chance to snatch the game. The ref and a lack of composure put paid to that.

    Others believe that us being pinned into our own half was Arsene’s master plan. And that might also be true. But many of the posters that believe that and the same posters that decry teams that come to the Emirates and “Park the Bus”. Yet when we do the same thing (everybody behind the ball and wait for a break or maybe a set piece) it is a grand master plan. You can’t have your cake and eat it people.

  25. Paul-N | April 10, 2012 at 10:02 pm
    So GA, you fling a lick and then say you don’t want to fight.

    Hahaha, I like the way you talk bro.

  26. @ Andy,
    So don’t. Much obliged.
    @PASSANEL, 1039
    my sentiments exactly regarding Carlos. What an artist. What a talent. Too bad he doesn’t. Have a black belt to go with his football talent. He might have made it in the EPL. maybe he is afraid of being assulted over and over again during matches with out the protection. Of the officials.
    Like REYAS, and maybe he doesn’t want to bring his game down to the level of red devil butchers , to make a living. Maybe be he doesn’t want his limbs broken.

    I think we can fairly assume, by the decisions of the gutless FA , that the annual green lighting. Of our players has commenced. Therefore I see a very tough and bloody. Game coming up against the WOLves. We must not lose our nerve. Protect yourself at all time and try to close the deal against this team and their hitmen.
    Here is to an early two goal lead and cruise control to the finish.
    I hope to god they don’t severly Injury any of our players long term.
    I HAVE MUCH HOPE FOR THIS GROUP OF WARRIORS FOR THE NEXT YEARS CAMPAIGN, and i don’t want some lowlife butcher or scum ref. To ruin it.

    UP THE FUCKING GUNS!!!!!!!!!!

  27. to many to mention but some great posts last night. MIKE SA ,I hear and feel you sentiment. Try to open some other eyes to the facts. The ones who have an open mind and great passion for the club.
    ATEEB85, excellent ideas. Lets just take the first petition as far as we can as fast as we can. Then we can start others. I’m with you. Anything for ARSENAL.
    and remember, your silence and apathy is partly responsible for the treatment dished out to the team you support weekly. they didn’t even give us a foul on that assault.
    Of course ,any group action taken here must meet approval of the blog master. YW.

    SIGNED IT. And sent it to three other blogs. Not many readers they have but I suppose every little bit helps.
    FUNGUN makes sense. I want this action on ROBSON to be an inhouse affair and by gooners only. But if you think involving other teams supporters is the way to go, I’ll go along. Long live the AFC AAND WHAT IT STANDS FOR.

  29. @goonerkam

    In agreement with andy,

    “What really angers me is our fence sitters. This blog and elsewhere.
    ‘ ARSENAL ITSELF is mainly to blame for their position in the table…”

    But this is true, bad calls or not ARSENAL ITSELF is responsible for our current league position, which conversely is fucking brilliant!!!

    “Kind of like condemning. A rape victim for being the person at fault for the criminal assault. I’m disgusted. Shame on you”

    No, it is not. Not remotely. And I and many others will be disgusted by your comment and shame on YOU for attempting to make such a parallel.

    Look, I’m no saint, and I don’t profess you to be the devil, but rather than smugly dismissing andy’s objection to your comment, you could just put your hands up and say that you got this one wrong.

  30. Too bad you feel that way.
    I’ll respect others opinions and their right to voice as long as they don’t start disrespecting others for their opinions and action. We don’t all live in the army. Our opinions can differ and we all have a right to voice them. Don’t like it ,move to Stalingrad.
    I don’t like it when THE ARSENAL is blamed for the things. They put us thru. Its blaming the victim for the assault and I won’t stand for it. Anyone with an once of conscience won’t either.
    Hope Percy is doing well, by the way.

  31. goonerkam

    To be honest, comparing football to those types of assaults is pretty much as offensive as it gets. Footballing iniquities are nothing like rape, so please don’t use those analogies.

  32. Apologies YW. didn’t mean to compare the two at all. Rape is dead serious but also the only crime I hear of when the victim is gallingly put in the spotlight. And blamed. Apologies again.

  33. Evil | April 10, 2012 at 11:38 pm
    In the end we had Barca’s number. Wenger’s gameplan for the match was a stroke of genius. We knew from before that they tired after the 60th minute, so he decided to let them come at us and then we’d hit them on the counter towards the end of the match. And it would’ve worked, if it hadn’t been for Busacca.

    On a more cheerful note, us and Inter are the only teams in recent times (last 4 years or so) to beat Barca in the knockout rounds of the CL. Clearly shows just how good as a team we are and where our potential lies. If only we can manage to hit those heights on a constant basis

    Following on from GA’s point at 7.57am; I find it bemusing that you believe Mourihno/Inter’s park the bus approach to beating Barca was at all worthy of emulation. Did you feel that way before we adopted a similar tactic?

    I don’t believe for a second that parking the bus is the only way to beat Barca.

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