Za-Ha! Arsenal’s Partridge Shoot

In times of crisis – and I can use that term because according to the media, Arsenal is a club in crisis – you need your senior personnel to step up to the mark, to take responsibility on the pitch. This week has seen a recurring theme from two of the most senior pros at the club, Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta. The two have spoken of the need for the squad to step up to the plate, to stand up and be counted, to man up, call it what you will. I’d just put it more simplistically: get back to winning ways on a consistent basis. The existing personnel can do more than that. If the manager decides to stick or twist, that is not down to them. They just have to do the business on the pitch.

After that cliché-ridden opening, thankfully the pair were more lucid and perceptive in their understanding of current woes. Arsenal have always schooled the players well in their media output, to accept responsibility in platitudes. Rosicky and Arteta’s combined experience was evident as they observed what was wrong but fundamentally it boils down to confidence. Or rather, the lack of it. The hesitancy on the pitch has been clear, three touches instead of two, short passes going astray. In isolation those traits are not so much of a problem but combined with a lack of creative vision and movement, they lead to dead ends in the final third of the pitch.

Despite being unbeaten for the best part of a month, the performances were unconvincing. The results are more important than the performances but you expected that the latter would follow on from the former but it never came. Arteta’s assessment that the players are fatigued echo those of his manager but the player gave a more accurate insight: mental tiredness. It explains the misconception that the squad was physically tired, the implication of Arsène’s more vague term.

You have to admire Arteta’s honesty about how the squad feels. Perhaps this is the carthartic moment in the season, the purging of emotion from the squad, the equivalent of 1997s infamous squad meeting following defeat at home to Blackburn Rovers. You sense that this a more cerebral version but the notion of the squad being eager to learn what is wrong themselves is crucial to a sustained recovery. The journey of self-discovery will tell them more about themselves and each other, than any lecture or hairdryer treatment from the manager or coaching staff.

Interestingly both Rosicky and Arteta put the squad in the forefront of the antagonistic atmosphere surrounding the club. Whilst I disagree with Oliver Holt‘s notion of some honour code, it is good that the team has stood up and accepted that this is not all down to the manager. It isn’t all down to the team as well; the club has to accept responsibility as a whole for decisions taken away from the pitch that have contributed to the malaise. The media are eager to exploit this for their own commercial gain. Too many, for example, read the headline and opening reported comments of Tom Fox in the Daily Heil. Fox was not incorrect since he spoke from a marketing perspective. Observations about it exposed nothing more than agendas to damn the club no matter what. There was nothing wrong in what he said; separation of pitch and commercial activities has to happen. Like the church and state there is an interdependency on both no matter what distance is placed between them.

Elsewhere, Bacary Sagna‘s contract has stalled, Theo’s not talking to Arsenal who are not talking to either of them because they are too busy talking to Wilfred Zaha, Crystal Palace and goodness knows who else about deals. Ultimately, I would be disappointed if either Sagna or Walcott left. Despite claims to the contrary, Sagna is the best right back at the club; he has produced consistently during his years at Arsenal and that is something Jenkinson is making good progress towards but to cast the Frenchman aside now would be folly. For the club whilst there is a footballing decision to take, at some point they have to force stability, to pay more on some occasions just to bring some semblance of normality to proceedings in order to quell talk of being purely a selling club.

Finally, there is a certain irony in Mikael Silvestre moving into alcohol production at the end of his playing career; he certainly drove me to drink on the occasions he played in the Arsenal first XI.

’til Tomorrow.

233 thoughts on “Za-Ha! Arsenal’s Partridge Shoot

  1. And losing Theo will not be a problem for me either JJ

    Given his huge contribution to our success over the past few seasons I can understand why you regard him as a key to our future progress

    It is a persuasive argument

    But not very

  2. and im pretty sure that losing theo over 10-15k a week will not work in the clubs favor financially

    with 6 mnths left on his deal how much are we gonna get for him? realistically?

    whereas we are probably going to have to go toe to toe with the likes of UTD to sign this zaha kid..just for example..

    so by losing theo and replacing him with someone how much money are we actually saving??

    not all that much, id say we will lose money..

    unless we are going to use rambo, ox or gnarby..

    so in terms of finance and football..i dont see how we come out winners on this either way..

  3. Wow – so these are the finest players SAF has ever had

    Does he know ?

    Ferdinand is a poor shadow of the player he was eight or ten years ago, and as for the occasional participation from the old legs of Scholes and Giggs ?

    Purlese – I have seen more contribution from Theo

  4. you wanna know what id do or be happy with seeing, anicoll?

    theo sign da ting and we still go for zaha..

    if theo dun wanna sign da ting then lets start talking with chelsea for a swap deal with sturridge..

    then go blow utd away with a bid for zaha as well

    but i think this is unlikely, the chances are theo dun wanna sign da ting and hasnt had any intention to, since he and rvp decided we were going backwards and got no assurances of it changing.. he will go to the highest bidder come jan just like rvp did in summer and we’ll be watching gervinho frustrate the fuck out of everybody instead

  5. Jon – don’t use the words “lose” or “losing”

    Look on it more as giving the player full opportunity to find his direction and fulfil his full potential

    Win all round

    I am sure Theo will shine

  6. LG @ 7:25pm

    Thank you. There has never been such concern about my position since it was feared that I might enter the world arse first (which would at least have had tne merit of giving everyone due warning of what was to follow).

    Rarely can 28 words have been subject to such a scrupulous analysis of subtext.

    Of course, it’s also possible that I simply meant what I wrote.

  7. ” the highest bidder”

    Tbh JJ I sense Team W may have exaggerated the draw

    All speculation however – I have no doubt there will be a triumphant announcement in respect of their asset’s next certain stride

  8. i honestly couldnt get involved in the fergie question

    the mans won about 30 trophies i wouldnt know where to start with his teams

    i guess thats best a question asked on a utd blog 🙂

  9. theo to utd? with rvp?

    never thought of that..

    unthinkable,..unfucking thinkable..

    if he goes there, AW will have to sign messi to convince the fans he still knows what hes doing..

  10. george
    i agree
    theo wont probably be a cf
    but i bet hes on 100k a week..

    dups youve really disturbed me with that..theo to utd? feck me..

    why dont we just lay the bed with rose petals, light the candles, dig out the old barry white lp and bend the fuck over and tell em no lube..

    fergie gives wenger silvestre..wenger gives fergie his most dangerous strikers and wengers still the man to lead us into the future with his chamakhs and bendtners..

    nope, he will be the weakest link goodbye..

  11. WBA:


    +Daniels, Dorrans, Jara, Mulumbu, Tamas, Lukaku, Fortuné,

  12. Morning all. Probably won’t catch today’s post as I’ll be on a plane. An Emirates plane to be precise. I’ll be very curious to see what Arsenal stuff they have on show (if any), but I’ll probably have to miss the game as it starts just 4 hours into the flight and I have to try to sleep as there’s work to be done tomorrow. Do they have live broadcasts on planes anyway? Just hope there’s cheerful news when we land in Dubai.

    Hope I can survive the below zero temps in Bonn, where I’m headed. It’s over 30 here today!

    COYG. Just do it! (as somebody once said)

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