Arsenal Find Consistency & Serenity

poiI always thought in would be a cold day in Hell when I agreed with Jose Mourinho but when he observed that Manchester United will not win the Premier League title following their defeat at Stamford Bridge yesterday, it is hard to come up with a credible reason why they will. Instead of clearing matters up, the performance merely served to cloud issues with the biggest question being how did Arsenal lose to that shower?

The top six begin their sequence of meetings next week with the Merseyside derby the night before Tottenham entertain Manchester City. In the mini-league of those clubs, City sit top but like Arsenal have to visit four of the other five. Their trip to Anfield in April comes a week after Arsenal’s to the other side of Stanley Park. That signals the end of matches where either side can ‘damage’ a rivals title aspirations; everything beyond those points is in the hands of the team which sits top of the Premier League.

There is still some bemusement that Arsenal are in a race that is becoming more fragmented. The top three are six points clear of Liverpool in third. Three points separate the final European placings with Manchester United four further adrift in the beginnings of mid-table; fourteen points off the top, nineteen from relegation. The Premier League table makes strange reading with tenth a mere six points from safety. Normally you look to three or four places beyond the safety zone and wonder who will get pulled into the relegation mire; Aston Villa, the head of that pack, are so abject at home that it is not unbelievable that it might be them despite take seven points out twelve from three of the top four teams this season. Is it a one-off season or a signal that the bottom half of the table is becoming more of a level playing field?

But it is the top end we are concerned with and Arsenal are serene. Trying to read anything into Arsène’s words is fraught with dangers unless you can see his body language and there was no mistaking his barely stifled laughter at his interview on Match of the Day as he revelled in the embarrassment of his interrogator as they pushed for the ever-elusive ‘exclusive’ about transfers, ending with a whimpering, “anything?

There was nothing, of course; it isn’t the Arsenal way and to be honest, we should not expect anything either. January has always seen a signing of some sort by the club but this time feels different, the lethargy has spread to the media who are not interested in instigating any feverish interest in who, where and what. Even Chelsea’s signing of Nemanja Matic failed to rouse any ridicule or more pertinently, investigation as to how a club can be FFP compliant having taken a £15m bath on a player. It’s all a bit “Meh” to be honest; Arsène may get his wish in having his squad take on that of his rivals with all camps largely intact from August. 

Not that he is averse to signing anyone, of course. Despite Nicklas Bendtner returning to training today and Yaya Sanogo next week, he is still open to offers on a striker but there is, as he put it, a serenity about the place. People are happy with their lot and a settled squad has found consistency. The weekend’s goalscoring hero is Santi Cazorla, noting that there was a toughness enveloping Arsenal,

This season, we’re much more consistent, much more solid, especially when we’re on top of a game because, last season there were matches when we would go 2-0 up and could let it escape from us. That makes it practically impossible to win a title and this season that has changed for the team.

The pendulum with defence has swung from creaking but intact to confidently sharp in keeping clean sheets. Whilst plaudits are rightly pointed toward the back four, Wojciech Szczesny’s consistency this term should not be overlooked. Outwardly never lacking in confident, what turned out to be the short, sharp shock of being dropped whilst reportedly sending his father into apoplexy, had the desired effect on Junior to the point where I am struggling to recall costly mistakes he has made. Of course they have happened but it is a reflection of his growing maturity that consistency of performance has developed to the point where you feel he is a goalkeeper who can win matches. As a young player, particularly one in goal, it is difficult to grow up and learn your trade in the public eye but that is exactly what he has done and continues to do. His progress has not been steady, it is peaks and plateaus as with all youngsters. Criticism if constructive is find but too often, one mistake consigns a career to the dustbin when a little more understanding is needed. Perhaps we as supporters need to show the maturity that we demand of the players?

To finish with, a reminder that Orion Publishing Group have very kindly provided a copy of Patrick Barclay’s book which can be won if you answer this question correctly:

Who were Arsenal’s opponents when they won the FA Cup for the first time in 1930:

A. Newcastle United

B. Preston North End

C. Huddersfield Town

Answers to with your answer in the Subject field. The winner will be selected at random from those who give the correct answer after the closing date, which is Midnight GMT, Thursday 23rd January 2014.

If you can’t wait that long, click on this link to buy The Life and Times of Herbert Chapman: The Story of One of Football’s Most Influential Figures.

’til Tomorrow.


72 thoughts on “Arsenal Find Consistency & Serenity

  1. Most of the talk around me at the game on Saturday was about Giroud’s inability to finish, nothing abusive but trenchant criticism nonetheless,
    I like what he contributes to the team but his inability to make the most of the chances he gets is frustrating, indeed it must doubly so for himself from the anguished grimaces he displays when another chance sails wide, high and handsome into the stand.

  2. Szczesny’s been a a little fortunate that a couple of his clearances didn’t ricochet off an attacker and into his net, but elsewhere he’s been almost perfect. With his raw ability there was no way he wouldn’t be a first class ‘keeper, as long as the club environment was right and the people around him had his best interests at heart, which isn’t always the case for young footballers.

    And a point on our remaining PL fixtures. Apparently we’ve still to play 7 of the bottom 11 at home, which sheds new light on the CF situation. To me these are games in which we can field slightly weaker sides, without losing momentum. Bendtner for instance was very convincing against Hull, and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be considered for this kind of fixture. This means we can afford a little rotation to keep Giroud fresh and perhaps opt for a big name in the summer rather than a stopgap now (because that’s all that seems to be available).

  3. Consistency and serenity.

    The Arsenal Box Office gives me none of the latter and plenty of the former in it’s continually pushing me to the back of the queue.

  4. Not sure that it was prevelant in other pasts of the ground but Sagna was getting loads of stick around me (block 103)on Saturday.

    Havent seen a rerun of the game but he played ok didnt he…or did I miss something?

  5. “how did Arsenal lose to that shower?”

    Hit with the illness bug that ruled out then in form Tomas Rosicky and Per whilst also affecting Ozil and Ramsey! Was the most lethargic game i’ve seen us play and for obvious reasons that we weren’t in tip top shape!

    I still think the City bubble will burst. Difference between us and them is that we’ve been winning ugly whilst if they’re not scoring 4 goals a game they have tended to lose. I can’t see them beating Chelsea if i’m being honest so we need to capitalise on that. As much as i want them to thrash Spurs again, i’d take Spurs win so we can get some pace between us!

    A back up strker would definately help but we’re scoring goals from all over the park right now, my concern is that we’ve not got a world class striker who can help us beat the likes of City, Man U, Chelsea when they close up shop! Liverpool have pulled off so many decent results over the last few years by having Suarez/Torres! We had it in RVP, but Giroud isn’t that kind of striker. He’s still extremely valuable to link up play, but he never players well against the big teams and his lack of pace is exposed.

    In relation to the Vucinic rumours, i’ve no opinion on him! Seriously no idea if he’s good or not!

    Really missed the boat with Villa for 3million…He’d probably be hitting 15 for season around now!!

  6. Morning all.

    I happened to be listening to the Press Pass on Talk Spite radio (I know, I know – nuff all in the bush sometimes and internet radio has to do), and I was as equally bemused as I was miffed about some of the attitudes towards Arsenal’s consistency.

    On the one hand, the bemusement is about the total lack of credibility given to Arsenal’s chances of challenging for the title. It’s almost that our occupancy of the no. 1 slot on the table since the end of August is a bad mistake, an anomaly that has gone way beyond a joke for some. We weren’t meant to be there – it was never part of the script. It bemuses me that some pundits would rather slice their testicles off than admit that perhaps this time round, they may be wrong about Arsenal. Frankly speaking, the more we’re under the radar the better.

    Strangely though, what gripped my shit was the total lack of acknowledgement for Arsenal’s achievement. 82 points in the 2013 calendar year is the definition of consistency. Being on the top of the table for most of this sseason so far is consistency. Ever since the season started, we’ve been hearing about the “tests” that Arsenal have to undertake to “prove” that they are genuine title contenders.

    First it was the we don’t have a world class striker malarky, then we won’t make it past October, then we won’t make it past November, then we won’t make it past Christmas, then we won’t make it if Giroud is injured or off form, or we won’t make it if Ramsey is off form or injured, or we won’t make it if Ozil has a stinker – or we won’t make it because we hate Newcastle in the cold of winter, or we won’t make it past the SAS of Anfield. Frankly speaking, fuck these tests – if and when we pass the tests, these punks will erect more and more just to rationalize their stupidity of not recognizing consistency if it sat on their face like a shaven punani.

    There’s one absolutely undeniable fact that even the Manchester City arse licking fanatical pundits can’t get their heads round. The table doesn’t lie. If Man City were as good as they say, Arsenal wouldn’t have spent the amount of time this season on top of the table. The table doesn’t lie.

    I think its about time we all started believing, the players, the Arsenal establishment, the fans and everyone in every corner of the world that believes in Arsenal. No one is saying winning the title is nailed on, but it’s our belief that will drag this team kicking and screaming across the line. It’s the fans in the stadium who will lift the team when we’re down. It’s the fans who will give the team the courage to scrap for a draw when a defeat is imminent, scrap for 3 points when a draw seams more likely. It’s the belief that will define the difference between confidence and arrogance.

    What I love about this season is that we’re actually challenging. We’re actually saying, this is the high table and for as long as we can, we will run it.

    I love Arsenal.

  7. Well said, DS.

    I get annoyed that nobody links squad depth to spending power. The only sides that can rotate seven or eight without sacrificing quality are Chelsea and Man City. Weird that.

  8. Darius – I have noticed that as well, it is almost as if we are not even there. The media have already settled on a Mourihno Vs Pellegrini battle to the end. They will proclaim that it was obvious the wheels would come off if we fall away towards the end of the season. Which is pure bollocks really.

    We have made huge strides this season regardless of it we finish champions or not. Given the resources at the City and Chelski’s disposal they have every right to finish above us. We are punching above our weight, but have a much better club ethic and structure. If we were to win the lge if would be a victory for football.

  9. I agree the “never end upcoming test scenario” is getting tiresome, but I actually think it’s a good thing if we are a bit of a dark horse. I’m not sure it’s true the table never lies, though – it’s told us the evil mankers were the best team several times in the past when it frankly wasn’t true. Now the “Fergie referee blackmail dossier” has been burnt it’s starting to tell the truth about them.

    And it’s great to be top and the consistency points to a tally in the 80s at the end of the season, it’s just that – currently – I fear Man C might have the firepower to get to 90. Is their early season away form the blip or is their current overpowering of everyone? Right now it sort of feels we and Chelsea are hanging on to them albeit we are doing it from in front! The whole thing has a different complexion when the big sides are meeting each other towards the end of the season, and in the cup too and the CL is back… looking forward to it…. COYG!!

  10. HTL – “I’m not sure it’s true the table never lies, though – it’s told us the evil mankers were the best team several times in the past when it frankly wasn’t true.

    That table doesn’t lie. If any team wins the lge, it is because they are consitantly the best team. Not the team capable of producing the best football. That means squat.

  11. The pundits turn a blid eye so they don’t look foolish come end of the season! There’s more chance of Arsenal’s wheels coming off than City and Chelsea’s if it does, they all look like they actually know what they’re talking about.

    Despite the fact that Savage is allowed to change his opinion every two weeks from “Arsenal can and will” to “Arsenal can’t and wont”.

    To think we’ve won all games recently without Ramsey, arguably our best player this season and some crucial games vs Cardiff and Hull without Giroud!

  12. Darius
    do we need the endorsement of arse licking pundits who cant see past the cash rich Man City, and Chelsea
    the phone-ins, the discussion shows, the columns, the pre and post match debate; it’s irrelevant to me as long as we keep doing what we’re doing on the pitch.
    as you said we are competing, that will do for me and if we do that often enough then we will win something soon.

  13. We we announce new deals for Wenger/Mertesacker/Sagna and also sign a striker (Vucinic would be a great signing) we will have had a very succesful January.

  14. Darius has a very good point, so too does HTL.

    It’s their current form that makes City look frightening, they weren’t so good at the start of the season.

    It’s all down to whether we can keep it up, isn’t it?

    If we do, then City are irrelevant.

  15. City have such a luxury when it comes to options in the striking department. If one of their strikers is out of form, they have the option of another two or three who are just as good. That could be the resource which proves vital I think.

  16. GA

    I wasn’t thinking of the best football… More the statistically improbable lie that “it all evens out over a season” applied to bad decisions etc.. It’s much more likely that a team will have + or – 4 points, than correct decision would have given them, than it evening out over a season and it could be + or – any number from the highly improbably zero up to 10. Very, very likely that several teams – anywhere in the league – should be one, two or three places off where they finish. Luck (referees really) plays a bigger part than anyone ever says. Of course no-one says this ‘cos it diminishes the glory and the product of the EPL, and league competitions in general compared to the obvious luck of a cup competitions – but all the same the maths are clear.

  17. HTL – Very true, but you ask any fan of any team and they all will believe that the majority of the decisons go against them. Tis the way of things.

    The term “even out” is not true, but is only a generalised term anyway. All teams get good and bad decisions, it is just that we tend to overlook most that go in our favor. Does this type of thing influsence the lge? Undoubtably, but aside from have games referreed by machines it will always be (and always has been) the case.

    Because it affects all teams, it is still a fair status theat the best team wins the lge. If Manure won the lge last year, it is because they were consistantly the best team throughout the season. Can’t be argued really. That they were quite a poor team (overall) is a damning fact on the rest of the teams in last years lge.

  18. Until we beat one of the `big guns` our credentials will always be questioned.

    I`m fine with that though – the moment all & sundry cast us as among the favourites is the moment the pressure comes on – & the longer that takes the better.

  19. GA

    Fair enough, but I still think evil mankers have got more than their fair share of “favourable” decisions for many years… Most fans of most teams seem to think the same… and in a sub-conscious way so do their own fans – by the way they complain when they are getting 70% of decisions when they think they should get 85% (which a study by Leicester University (in the late 1990s – early 00s) showed is what they did get!). Why it’s so nice to see them where they belong… 7th!

  20. HTL – Maybe. I have not watched enough of their games to comment. I only watch them in the “big” games or when they played us to be honest.

    Either way, I do agre that it is nice to see them really struggling. To be honest I have been really surprised with their drop off. I thought they might struggle this season regardless of the change of manager, but to go from champion to struggling so badly is quite astounding. But fun.

  21. Loic Remy for me is the no brainer alas not sure how he would have to see out his loan spell at Newcastle. What’s more he is an arsenal fan..

  22. Makes me laugh how some people are saying we desperately need signings.

    It’s the players we have already that are top and looking good why risk throwing someone new in who might not gel or hit the road running….no I’m more then happy to trust the same set of players that have got us to this position to carry on the great stuff they are producing.

  23. Stick a fork in Man U. Look the real fact is that City may not lose another match in the EPL. they are very good. They will probably run the table in the EPL. We on the other hand have learned how to win ugly. This is huge if we want to win the title. We are atop the league in goals allowed 19. Chelsea is second with 20. I think City will have some bumps in the road. We are showing the league how tough we are! We need another striker.

  24. Ian,

    It will be all to do with his contract, no better way to show him that staying is the best thing for him then by abusing him. We do have some right old thick fans don’t we. 

  25. Yogi

    Another marvelous post. We have truly been the model of consistency this season and the majority of calendar 2013 and that is something we have no seen from and arsenal side for many years. I can’t be sure but I think the reason for the change has everything to do with the club committing itself to defend well. I think I remember Hearing about how important defense is somewhere before.


    I am glad that after all these years of pathologic false testimony the top of the table has finally decided to tell the truth.

  26. My only worry about Man U not making the top 4 Is that it could trigger massive reinvestment in their team, personally i think they’re about 150million away from being serious again, but with Rooney and RVP up top, a creative mid and 1 established CB could see them improve greatly! Say they finish 5th/6th, they could field a diddy team in the Europa League next season whilst mounting a proper Prem League challenge whilst the top 4 are dealing with Champs League etc. I hope they hang onto Rooney as well, if he goes to Chelsea i think that puts them in fa too good a position.

    If Spurs, Everton, Newcastle or Liverpool pip in for 4th, we’ll see the usual….New team breaks in, struggles to cope with the intensity of playing every 3/4 days against top notch opponants and drop down into mid table again. Liverpool for all their striking power, would be devestated by Champions league football because minus a strongish starting 11, they’ve no stength in depth, take Suarez away and they struggle!

    I see Draxler is being mentioned a lot again today! Reports saying that Wenger want’s him! I wonder, if he came in this window, would Wenger be daring enough to start him in an advanced postion? Rosicky, Santi and Jack are in rich form right now….Hard to displace anyone! If anyone could be dropped, it’s Giroud!

  27. I’ve always felt that the Fergie Fear Factor was worth 12-15 points a season to ManU. Be it through: bad ref decisions; “Fergie Time”; inspirational half time hair dryers; motivation to get that extra 10% from his players; or opponents playing like they were 1-0 down from the start, or giving up “knowing” ManU will score in stoppage time. This was also evident in his pre and post match pressers, (boycotting BBC, ejecting/banning journalists who don’t suck his d**k) and FA leniency – ( I still can’t fathom how he got away with his rant when losing to Portsmouth in Semi-Final about 5/6 years ago).
    He has influenced matches all through the years and now his absence is telling on the current team’s position.

    Wenger doesnt seem to have the same influence as he is much more restrained, a softly softly, psychological approach – an approach which I believe (yes – I’m a blinkered conspiratory theorist, I guess) means Arsenal get fewer decisions than the other top sides.

    My worry is that Jose is the new media/FA/refs ‘favourite’, and just seeing several key decisions already their way (pen against WBA saving their unbeaten home record, Etoo on Suarez, the non-pen on Walcott, and Obi Mikel’s hack on Arteta) might help give them the edge to get over us and Citeh.

    I hope I’m wrong and that we get safely past Soton and Palace and go to Liverpool with the confidence of being top. After that, no doubt RVP and Rooney will be back to screw us over at the Ems – and if Jose has anything else to do with it, I’m sure he’ll loan Mata until the end of season to take points from us and Citeh, while fishing for a permanent swap deal for Rooney.

    Still, if we get past these next four league games unbeaten I will then start to believe we can do it.

    Thanks for listening (reading…)

  28. Texas Bill,

    If only we defended like this before eh, we have had the weapons for years , our attack isn’t that much different, it’s our defence that’s changed, the newly inspired wenger changing his bad old habits of the chaaarge mentality and sacrificing some beauty or perceived beauty for a bit of rough.

  29. The dreaded Fergie fear factor (FFF). Yeah right. The truth is that the man was just plain and simply a damn good football manager. He consistently got the best possible results that anyone could have from the group of players he was managing, nothing more or less.

  30. “About whose progress do you testify falsely?”

    “Oh, Arsenal, but alas my fervour has been less than pathological this season.”

    “Pity, but this fact notwithstanding, by dint of my dynastical heritage I’m psychotically predisposed to Tottenham Hotspur so I’m nothing if not a frequent false testifier, for the spurs do indeed go marching in. I anticipate, nay demand, profuse raillery homologous to the fortunes – or lack thereof – of our patronised sporting organisations.”

    “Hail fellow well met. Let us hereby engage in the appropriate exchanges customarily termed by friendly rivals as ‘banter'”

  31. Nice one Yogi

    “..their stupidity of not recognizing consistency if it sat on their face like a shaven punani.”

    I like that bit meself. A little coarse perhaps. but undeniably visceral. He has a way with words, Darius 🙂

  32. I’d like to welcome Mr Andries Jonker (Dutch) to Arsenal, Brady’s new replacement. He is set to start his role 1 July 2014. as head of youth development and the academy.

  33. Harry.

    Haven’t we been debating for years whether or not the table actually did tell the truth? I have always believed that it did.

    We debated the whole issue of why we struggled to defend for all those years the other day. While it is an interesting topic for discussion and the sort of topic that is perfect for a blog, the reality is that why it happened does not matter at this point and even if every one agreed on the answer it won’t change what happened in the past. For years the idea of how much we could improve our results by improving our defense was no more then another theoretical debate with no way to prove anything. Now, we argue now why the defense has improved so much. However, I think its safe to say that the last 12 months have given us the best possible evidence we could have to show that although our attack is not as dynamic or effective for scoring goals as it once was, but you can significantly improve your results with good defending. It seems like that debate should be pretty much settled. No?

    Last thing on Fergie, he was often a slime ball and he certainly could have used his position on the top of the heap to be a much better ambassador for the league and football in general.

  34. I thought your comment was more than a tad dismissive and condescending Bill (the testimony one). I’m guessing that probably wasn’t the intention, just how it read.

    We seem to have had a lot of debates about this, that and the other, the conclusions arrived at always appear to be “Bill was right along 😉

    Does the table lie? at the moment, no it doesn’t 😉

    Fergie’s influence on English football was malign, and possibly worth at least a few extra points for them every season imho. His behaviour was often indulged every step of the way. Anyway, brilliant manager, questionable human being. On that we can agree.

    Boring all that. Let’s just hope their current slippery slope turns into a nosedive…

    No argument about the defence. How it came about, who really cares? it’s just great to see.

  35. @ Bill, I think what used to prompt the strongest debates were assertions to the tune of “Wenger doesn’t do defence… ” as though there was a chance the manager just told the team to outscore the opponent and that was that. we really used to concede silly goals more often than it being a matter of poor defending. I remember WS dallying on a back pass and being charged down, in the past, he may have panicked and ended up hitting it straight at the onrushing player and conceding a needless goal, now he is more matured and calmer and was able to survive that.

    When i heard about toure and gallas not exactly getting on, it explained why some goals went in that may have been better defended by proper communication. there is room for these things being more the problem than AW actually just going out to buy a bad defender. also some players just didn’t work out. cygan and more recently Arshavin and even gervinho spring to mind… All 3 coming into the club as top in their various areas but somehow not fulfilling their potential and being moved on. i think one more key problem fans also had with the manager was how long he seemed to persevere with players that were not doing well. Gervinho seemed to be one of the fastest to have been moved on that were not working out compared to some others in the past. Sometimes, they do eventually work out even against fans expectations – Ramsey springs to mind.

  36. Best way to avoid headlines and excessive scrutiny? Give them a few more minutes at the end of the game to get back into it. Let a couple of borderline decisions go their way. When people’s careers and reputation are on the line it’s not hard to see why they might forfeit some integrity. Just a little, but that’s enough. That’s the power the Slur Alex wielded, and it grew year on year.

    But the response Darius’ comment I found a bit snide. I’d rather pie in the sky optimists (not saying DS is one) to know-it-alls telling me what can’t be done, especially when it comes to football. If anything DS has been vindicated.

  37. Our defence was neverquite as bad as made out (although it did cost us over the years, small margins and all that). Where our reputation as a “soft” team came from was the manner of some of the goals we conceeded. Some were farcical and it happened all too often.

  38. Everyone supports in their own way. Some are naturally optimistic, others the opposite.

    Some analytical, some just rely on their faith. A few are plain miserable in anything that they do and some laugh through adversity.

    All probably love their club.

  39. Did you get a ticket Bob? I finally got to the front of the long blue line queue, whereupon the site auto logged me out. I rang the box office to complain. The guy I got was dismissive and rude. Leaves a very bad taste, when you’re being asked for £80+ for a Red member seat.

    Consistency and serenity? Early days. We have 2 tough months coming up and are increasingly relying on midfield goals to seal scratchy wins (especially as Podolski – a natural goalscorer- hardly gets a game). Wenger must be serene- if reports are right, he’s getting another £8 million a year x 3.
    As he’s signing no-one, think they should have waited until the season’s end, but the board defer to him so much and are clearly terrified that he’ll leave. Why they think he’d even consider it is pretty strange….

  40. Whilst not demeaning the overall improvement of our defending as a team (or back 4 / 5) for me it`s fairly obvious how hugely influential Mertesacker has become.

    It`s him doing the majority of organising , dishing out bollockings & dragging the rest along with him. He has become the leader we`ve been looking for for since PV4 left & that`s why I believe he is our most important player right now.

  41. I dunno Sam, maybe Arsenal are worried about him leaving because he’s in demand and proving that, with fair backing, he can keep step with financially doped clubs.

    Imagine what he could do at PSG.

  42. The defence vs attack debate has just been highlighted by Pellegrini, he said, (not a correct quote) “it doesn’t matter how many we concede as long as we score more”!

  43. Best comment I stumbled upon from Manchester United supporters discussing their team’s latest inability to routinely win matches.

    “Moyes’ biggest mistake was gettin rid Howard Webb.. probably he is tryin to buy a big ref in Jan window.”

    You’ve got to love their sense of humor in the face of adversity.

  44. True Paulie. You gotta love the BFG. My admiration for him is possibly bordering on the slightly unhealthy. Even my wife is giving me strange looks (well, stranger than usual).

    I never really understood the importance of AW’s paycheck. Yes it’s staggering, but surely on a par with other managers at this level. Pretty relaxed about Arsene leaving one day, has to happen sooner or later, though I personally hope he stays as long as his heath will allow (and not before bagging another major trophy, the least he deserves), always been way more concerned about what comes after……

  45. Nope, Sam.

    My experience was much as yours. They said they were giving priority to longer standing Red Members, pre 2012, which should have helped but didn’t.

    I didn’t get a sniff of a seat. Goodness knows how anyone else got one. Maybe a super fast broadband connection, which down here in the woods, I don’t have.

    Second match running that has happened to me.

    The system just doesn’t seem upto it.

  46. All said and done, my take on this issue is that if it is ugly that will win us the league, it is high time we forge ahead and execute it. As for MANU, every thing has its good and bad time, manu should face it.

  47. why do people keep saying “liverpool signed Suarez in the January window” and use it as proof that you can sign WC players in the January window???

    Suarez was NOT WC when he joined Liverpool, he was a massive massive talent though.

    If we signed a talented 21M striker this window we would have done the same as Liverpool did back then. A early 20s South Americal striker with potential. That is what we need, that is what Suarez was when he arrived.
    But would he have won Liverpool the title that season?

  48. The size of Arsene`s paycheck only gets mentioned when we lose a few games.

    If we WERE to win the EPL this season most supporters would quite happily double it.

    My own gut feeling last summer was that he`d had enough & would be on his way after this season , but the progress the side has made may well have made him think again.

  49. Harry

    The intent of that comment was not meant to be condescending. I also have yo admit that occasionally it’s interesting to look back at the results if prior debates.

    Arsene believes in a flat wage for his players but his wage certainly didn’t seem to fit with that concept. However, as far as I am concerned his wage is completely irrelevant. He can’t pay himself enough to have any significant effect on our transfer budget anymore.

    If pellegrini is really sending out his city players and telling them to just bomb forward and try to score and don’t worry about defense then they will probably end up losing. Their scoring has slowed down recently such as against Cardiff or Newcastle. They have been defending a lot better away from home which is why their results have improved. I would bet they won’t come into the emirates and try to bang in 6 and concede 3. If they do that then we will beat them. Our own history teaches that lesson.

  50. Harry

    We have all been right and wrong on a lot of stuff over the years. I was dead wrong when I said I thought Arsene would never spend big on a single player and when I said he was so set in his ways and so caught up in his attacking ethos that he would never fix the defense.

  51. Harry

    I suspect I was right for all those years when I said I thought Arsene would sign another contract. However I think I was wrong to believe that the club would be better off without him. I don’t believe that anymore.

  52. @Bill

    I only paraphrased what Pelegrini said;…. at the moment it seems to be working, they are shipping goals but scoring more than they concede. Hopefully they’ll come unstuck when they visit the Emirates. And as to the debate about AW’s wages….. who gives a shit, the wage structure in football now is way beyond debate. Let them earn whatever the directors want to pay!

  53. Bill, don’t worry about it!

    No point raking over who said what and when. Not important. There were times early on last season when I genuinely thought Arsene was running on empty, and much like Paulie said, to me he looked a shadow of his former self. Like the strain was finally showing. He turned it around though. So I was wrong.

    Was I wrong to doubt him? I don’t think so. Even though he’s the greatest Arsenal manager ever, alongside Mr Chapman, and quite probably the greatest manager I’ll ever see (at Arsenal) in my lifetime.

    Some folk, via blogs and comments sections like this, and these days with twatter, have been besmirching him for years. Called him all the names under the sun. They can f*ck off. Expressing doubts and concerns are fine though. Questions are healthy. So is opinion. It’s football. I’m sure Arsene would agree.

  54. I’m just reading the Graham Poll comment cited by Birdkamp. It surprises me that Poll was honest enough to admit he was intimidated by SAF, but the comment certainly rings true, shocking though it is. He was “always relieved when Utd played well, especially at Old Trafford.” That’s disgusting.

    btw this perception of referee’s arbitrariness and deference to power is a huge turn-off to casual American fans, for example those who only pay attention at WC time. While it may be grudgingly expected in Italy and Spain, it’s a barrier to football popularity in the US.

    Very difficult to imagine an NFL referee ever admitting he was relieved when a certain team played well and won. I’m not denying that it might not be true sometimes, but the referee’s reputation would be tarnished forever if he admitted it.

    It’s also possible to see that AW’s lower levels of personal aggression and vindictiveness, compared to say Mourinho, might be a factor in the curious lack of opposition victories at stamford bridge during the evil one’s reign — that and a billion pound deficit spend.

    Money and power corrupt this league; we’re swimming upstream gentlemen.

  55. hmm its when you see teams like Everton which is a fairly good team, that you realize how good Arsenal really is. Cos we look incredible compared to Everton. And Everton aint bad…

  56. Per offers one other thing to the team, he allows Kos to play on the left side of defence. For me Kos is a world class defender, yes he has his odd lapses like when he decides to needlessly tackle a player going nowhere in the area and give away a pen, but overall he is class. He is clearly at his best when he plays on that side of defence and you see how easily he covers the left side of our defence when the FB is up the field. Put TV5 on the pitch with him and Kos has to switch to the right hand side, because his natural inclination is to look left he doesn’t see what happens down the right wing as well. Kos and TV5 can play well together, but to get the best out of Kos he needs to be partnered with the BFG.

    I’m assuming the rape charge against Remy is still hanging over his head which is why no one is willing to stump up the cash to break him out of his Newcastle loan deal. The last story I heard on the case was that they were due back in court again in November. I’m assuming that has happened and he has been bailed again, but is that a good or a bad thing? It seems that there is not enough evidence to just start the trial and lock him up, but there must be something to investigate as the case is ongoing. If he is guilty of rape they should throw the book at him, but such cases can go on for ages and Newcastle were pretty smart to grab him on a loan on the basis that the case still appears to be some way from being heard.

  57. While ManCity may be running away with the overall GD, we have the best differential away from home, and are a point behind Liverpool in away scoring. It shows the consistency of our work effort, home and way this year. All of those 2-nil results are slowly piling up.

    Let City– media flavor of the week, magically unfettered by FFP, and still only 12 years out from promotion from division one– let them keep running rampant, as long as they’re trailing AFC.

  58. It’s all likely to come down to the games between the top three and for us that is City at the Emirates and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. 4 points from those two games would be some result.
    I imagine the chasing pack could well have a say as well and I’m wondering who is going to be up for it in which games? Clearly the Spuds will want to take our scalps at their place, but they are also likely to be well up for it in their game against Chelsea, whilst Man Utd are going to want to get revenge on City when they play at Old Trafford.
    By the time we get to the first of our potential banana skins (Liverpool away), City would have already had to face the Spuds away and Chelsea at home, a game where somebody drops points.
    For Arsenal it’s all about the run to the end of March, if we are still in it until then our last 5 games should see us triumphantly sweeping the opposition aside as we march to the title.

  59. Harry.

    Anyone who does not think they are going to be wrong occasionally has already disproved their own theory. If you are going to have opinions, getting it wrong occasionally just goes with the territory.

  60. Northbank

    Consistently out scoring their opponents didn’t work for pellegrini in the first part of the year when they dropped all those points. The more you can score the more wiggle room you have with regard to defending but ultimately even city is going to have to win some 1-0 games the way they did against crystal palace at home. (I think that was the game) or 2-0 at Newcastle. It’s nearly impossible to win titles without being able to win some ugly games. . Fergies manU title teams were excellent attacking teams but still could win 1-0 when needed.

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