Just The Ticket For Lessons Of History For This Season

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If the cap fits… please feel free to laugh at Manchester United’s woes. Raucously if you like, for they have revelled in Arsenal falling away from contention in every competition over the years. I’ll enjoy it whilst it lasts, their current six-point gap to the top four is nothing really as Arsenal have proven down the years. Arsenal have overhauled bigger points gaps in the past decade so it would be no surprise if United did likewise. They have set about rectifying the lack of quality in their squad, Juan Mata for £37m if that transfer happens, improves the side immeasurably on their current players.

It displays the financial muscle which remains unharmed by their current woes. Only their egos will be hurt with their descent from the top three of Deloitte’s Football Rich List. They are still making money hand over fist, as are all the top clubs in Europe’s top leagues. Disappointingly yet unsurprisingly there are no images of pitchforks protruding from the red devils arsenal in this morning’s press. It’s an expected blip in their eyes with Ferguson’s departure is the rationale for the favourable press, combined with a legacy of fear which two decades of dark rule imbued.

The publication uncomfortably highlights Arsenal’s decision to raise ticket prices by 3%. In isolation, the size of the rise is only important in the sense that it is above the rate of inflation at time when austerity is still the political catchphrase but then when has football shown any sign of being in touch with reality. But the size of the rise is not the issue, is there a justifiable case for the rise. Arsenal will argue that they have rising costs, the fans want the club to spend on the best players, they have to contribute. It is all logical and commercially sound. Until you factor in that the rise brings a very small amount to the bottom line and is questionable with the increased revenues from kit and broadcasting deals. Based on 2013 revenues, it will bring in just over £2.75m; it’s a paltry amount in the bigger picture. In its base terms, it’s around £50k per week for a player; £35k per week in salary with the extra £15k paying social security and pension contributions. Or that contribution towards wages.

It is the overall contribution which makes the decision a high-risk strategy for the club. They are banking on the current goodwill lasting, that the season’s improved fare will result in Arsenal being there or thereabouts when the silverware is handed out. The Premier League is so close at the moment, it is impossible to say how the season might end with a title scrap or a dogfight for fourth equally possible. If the latter happens, the bald statistics will not note how near or far from the title Arsenal finish, it is still third or fourth. Niggles over ticket prices will be thrown into the equation if that is the outcome which is a real shame as the club has benefited from the investment in the playing staff. Indeed it’s the only slightly sour taste in an Arsenal love-in at the moment; Arsène loves Wojciech, Santi loves Mesut and social media is the preserve of the Gollum Appreciation Society with everyone wanting a piece of their precious. Huge adoring sighs and hugs all round.

There are comparisons to 2007/08, not least because it is the first time since then that there is a sense that Arsenal are genuine contenders for the title. It doesn’t matter what the media think, it is how supporters view the season which counts. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain believes that not being favourites will allow the club to go about their work quietly; if Arsenal get to the end of February still on top of the table, be prepared for a rise in noise about silverware. Even sooner if they manage to eliminate Bayern Munich. At this point in the season – 22 games in – Arsenal accrued 51 points but from then on, 2007/08 is painful to recall. Arsenal had led the table bar the odd week or two since September until that afternoon in the West Midlands. One Premier League victory in six saw the title slip from their grasp for reasons that we have raked over since that day. None disagree about the impact of Eduardo’s injury on the squad, the loss of their most effective striker. William Gallas as captain needed to show leadership, instead sat moping on the pitch in a reaction befitting a petulant teenager not the captain of Arsenal. Hopefully Arsène’s travels this week have been to spy on strikers. Some think he was watching Christian Tello in Barcelona before heading off to Gelsenkirchen to tie out negotiations for Draxler’s arrival this summer. News that Vucinic is available again means a trip to Italy. Annie won’t mind, these miles mean he has enough loyalty points to pay for the flights for the family’s holiday this year. More importantly, no-one will mind if he heeds the lesson of that season and brings home a supporting striker to cover injury to Olivier Giroud.

Back to the past. Form subsequent to that day did not recover bar for victory in Milan; that shows the quirks of human nature, of football. Arsenal in a slump domestically travelled to the home of one of European football’s foremost clubs and won. Couldn’t beat Villa, Wigan or Middlesbrough but AC Milan? No problem at all; you sense that this squad are capable of pulling out the results when they matter but more careful to avoid the slips. That is not to say they won’t happen, just that they feel less likely. Oh, look, you can find similarities with any season if you search hard enough. It’s just a quirk of fate and not a prediction of history repeating itself. It all sprang to mind because of these heady days of topping the table, how the blend of youth and experience in both squads is very similar. Theo Walcott and Bacary Sagna bridge the squads, the seasoned professionals now but the youth, this time it seems more experienced, less callow. The squad feels that it has more mental strength, certainly leaders who would have clipped Gallas’ ears for his behaviour at St Andrews.

Which bodes well for the rest of the campaign.

’til Tomorrow.

155 thoughts on “Just The Ticket For Lessons Of History For This Season

  1. No, Bill’s snide remarks to Darius the other day got on my tits, and you have to be firm with JJ or he starts making stuff up, but apart form that I’m cool, Jonny. Blog comments not the best medium for gauging a person’s mood.

    For the sake of efficiency and spirit within the squad it’s occasionally necessary to place yourself at the mercy of fate, YW. Take an important player out of any side and they suffer. I think the key difference between our standpoints is that I feel I’ve seen enough from Bendtner to suggest he will contribute. I can understand why you don’t feel the same of course.

    I’m attracted to the idea that because he matches Giroud’s build and skill-set in many ways, he’s a seamless replacement. I also like the fact that he’s settled and by all accounts working hard.

    I also like the story; redemption and all that.

  2. A player from Egypt/North Africa…………. ha ha another Chamakh……………… sorry but that won’t do the Chavs any favours!

  3. Exactly my feelings YW. I think it is possible that Bendtner could surprise us but it would be a big surprise for me as i have never once in his career seen him fill the role as main striker at any club with a convincing air.

    He managed 8 goals from 30 apps at Sunderland, 0 from 11 at Juventus (and yes I know he had injury problems at the latter).

    He is now 26 and not considered good enough to start for us. If he is not challenging Giroud for the starting berth and very, very rarely makes a sub appearance why would we feel any confidence that he is good enough cover for Giroud (let alone almost the only cover)?

    AW may speak well of his alternatives but his actions tell a very different story and one which I suspect is more revealing of his true feelings regarding his belief of them in that role.

  4. Oh, and his record is good. If it’s mainly against lower opposition then fine; so he’s in the same category as Luis Suarez! We’ve got plenty of matches against inferior teams coming up, starting tomorrow.

  5. ‘A contingency plan’ is surely what a ‘squad’ is, no?

    It’s the reason people have been suggesting we will fall short all season – because of a worry about our depth in one key area.

    It may come to pass we get lucky with Giroud but, failing a big signing like Martinez, I’d still prefer another option from the bench.

    For the simple reason I think it would increase our likelihood of winning something, rather than lessening it.

    Arsenal has frequently had a great first 11 and walked away empty handed.

    Contingency plans are rarely, if ever, a bad thing….

  6. Significant pace is a definite asset but you need it and it certainly is not a magic pill. Intent is by far the most important part of attacking at pace. That said, a bit more pace at CF would certainly be helpful. However, I think the main thing we need more then pure pace is the ability to be able to run at player with the ball and to be more effective when you move out to the wing or to the center of the pitch and receive the ball. OG is very good at holding up the ball and maintaining possession but doing that defeats the goal of attacking at pace.

  7. first sentence I forgot the words “don’t necessarily”

    If you are going to rush then proofreading is needed.

    Al:

    Darius is not here but I certainly did not mean for that comment to come off as snide as it obviously sounded to everyone else, nor as stupid as it sounded to me when I read it back. No excuse for that. Its one of those that I wish you could have taken back. I didn’t think it sounded that bad when I typed it.

  8. Gutted for Falcao,been in his prime for the last 3 seasons and now this happens!

    Jackson Martinez becomes the hope of a nation! Gutted we’re showing so little interest in him, he’d have been a good signing! Also gutted Wenger has said they’ll be no Jan signings. Liverpool, Chelsea and Man U are bringing players in and with our injury luck id’ have easily thought we could get a striker!

  9. Well, I’m clearly also as guilty as Jonny of misconstruing comments, Bill, so no problem here then.

    I like Darius. But I’ll never understand why he puts himself through Talksport. Muppet too. How can they take that stuff?!

  10. Guilt is a feeling nobody has to really experience, you do or say what you really feel, if there are comebacks, you stand by what you said or did! Guilt has nothing to do with it……….. so Bird, Jonny, Bill and anyone else who ‘feels’ guilty, stop now, a debate is a debate, you have your views and opinions. At the end of the day, we are ARSENAL supporters, views differ, but we are Gunners

  11. The thing is generally this season we have been going with the big strong CF, good in the air, not necessarily a big goal scorer but able to get a few, make some & be a big contributer defensively. Someone, who can help the smaller, perhaps more gifted teammates around him, flourish. Giroud does that very well, a fit & motivated NB is probably as good a cover for that as anyone available during this window. Perhaps we could go for a proven goal scorer like Soldado but for whatever reason that does not always work. Like in the summer if the real deal is there then do it, if not wait until it is.

    As it is we have Podolski & Sonago, who is obviously rated highly by AW, becoming fit & available, hopefully for the remainder of the season.

    A in G – sorry don’t get your reasoning at all. I don’t have any faith(or understanding of) in FFP but it does appear Chelsea have to sell before they can buy & it is not because Abramovic has run out of money.

  12. i love it when we have multiple conversations going on at once..
    you get confused and dont know who to argue with first 🙂

    anyway..draxlers not done that well really in the league this season but last season he got into double figures..
    interestingly though in europe hes banging them in for fun this season….its little wonder schalke want to hang onto him…he’ll only get better and better..do i think hes worth the money being mentioned? no..i dont..but i dont think the ticket prices are worth the money either nor do i think the sponserships nor the wages players and managers are on are worth it either but thats the way the games gone and if you want the top talent you have to pay through the nose for it..

    another thing interesting about draxler is that if we sign him we wont have to drop giroud, which if we signed an out and out cf we would have to think about doing and im not upfor signing a backup or a stop gap either…its just another player to sit on the bench…afterall..isnt that what bendtner is? why would we want another bendtner just go out and sign someone who can challenge for a first team place and keep the rest on their toes..
    fight for your place fight for trophies….

  13. Chelsea screwed over both Liverpool and Tottenham this season. Sold Mata to United will almost guarantee them a top 4 spot. Stolen Willan and Salah under Tottenham and Liverpools noses. Will almost guarantee them Euro cup next year…

  14. Flint

    Everything you say is true. However, I think OG really does slow our attack down and not just because of his lack of pace. Everything you do involves some sort of compromise and you take the good with the not as good. Probably nothing we can do about it in January but a club like ours whose goals is to win the PL and move into the top echelon of world football needs a striker that does not involve that much compromise. IMO.

    Al:

    I like Darius and we have a long history of disagreeing with each other but that does not excuse a dumb comment like that one.

  15. Ah well I’m lost…….. for what it’s worth, AW must buy a CF in the January market. He wanted one in the summer, and now it must be more urgent with Theo out. If he doesn’t, or one isn’t available then we will truly lose a chance to win a trophy this season???? I don’t believe Bendy will come good, he’s a lazy fucker and wont make the effort. We need someone to cover for Giroud on the basis he may suffer another injury. I think AW will get Draxler….. but history often proves us wrong.

  16. @Northbank1969 well you never know with AW. IT has been suspiciously silent on the arsenal front regarding rumours. Just like in the summer. Then suddenly BOOM! and next thing Ozil walked through the doors.

    But it has been very quiet, rumours yes, but no proper rumours, not like Mata to United rumours. That is however ok though. Let the other clubs fill the back pages while AW silently gets what he wants.

  17. @Poodle – signing Mata is no guarantee whatsoever that they would get 4th. Their problems run deeper than that. When they get RvP/Rooney back will probably have a bigger say in things but regardless the competition from Everton, Spurs and Pool should not be ruled out just cos of Mata.

    Flint you seem to overlook Giroud’s contribution with goals. It could be much improved upon but I would wager on B52 scoring less.

    I find it odd that you think we could only play in one-way and that we could not do better than Bendyballs?

    Mind there are moments I would take on almost any striker that knows how to tap in from 6 yards! 😉

  18. Pour tout les comments adjourd hui, Northbank, absolutemente!

    Et tu, Jonny.

    I claim the first trilingual post in ACLF history.

  19. I`m in the we need a striker now camp.

    If we don`t we`re placing all our eggs in one basket , throwing them out the window & hoping they don`t break.

  20. I agree with Flint as it goes. I understand the scepticism for Bendtner, but I think it’s affected by some of the stupid stuff he’s said and done down the years. I mean, anyone can miss from a few yards like he did vs Hull. But not many strikers can thread the pass that set up Eisfeld against West Brom AND score towering headers. Whatever people’s opinion of his character, he’s got a unique range of skills.

    I sense that he’s a more mature and consequently capable player now. But I we’ll have to see I suppose.

  21. Paulie.

    “I`m in the we need a striker now camp.”

    I agree completely. I just don’t think we will get a long term solution in January for a number of reasons that we often discuss. I agree with Jonny. Adding another striker of some sort who is a better finisher right now (as long as it does not inhibit our options next summer) seems like it should be the top of our to do list. If it doesn’t work out then nothing is lost if the guy ends up spending most of his time on the bench

    My concern about spending on Draxler or any non-striker is that it will prevent us from spending big next summer. A good striker will be expensive.

  22. @Bill

    You seriously blame Giroud for slowing down our attacks? Seriously man, what are you smoking out there in Texas? Watch the games and tell me that it is not the over elaborate passing from the middle in the final third of the pitch, I dare you 🙂 Giroud is asked to play with his back to goal, he is not prolific but does what is being asked of him in this system perfectly.

  23. I don’t think I said we could only play one way, but the fact is we are currently top of the league playing that method. If Giroud went down Bendtner knows our style, which would not apply to a newcomer. If we change that style it is unfortunate that Walcott is out but Podolski & Sanogo are options that AW & co will know more about than we do. I don’t rule out an outsider but you also have to be sure about not upsetting what appears to be the best team spirit in years. Berbatov could well be a risk to that.

    Bendtner has scored at every level but his problems have been not playing enough, through some serious injuries at the wrong time or being down the pecking order & a perceived illusion of gradeur, which perhaps he is becoming old enough to outgrow. He has never had any prolonged spell as CF for us & I believe he could be a big asset if it came to it.

  24. Miami

    He is asked to play with his back to goal when we passing the ball around midfield and he does that well. However, we were talking about attacking at pace and you don’t attack at pace with your back to the goal. When have you seen him take the ball in the middle 1/3 of the pitch facing goal and move the ball forward maintaining the pace of a counterattack? If he gets the ball near the middle of the pitch then the ball will probably slow down its forward advance. When have you seen him go out to the wing and receive a ball and drive at goal with the ball at his feet and make something positive happen before the other team has time to set up its defense. If he gets the ball on the wing he will usually have to pass it back and then go set up with his back to the goal. That slows down any chance of counter attacking or attacking the goal before the other team can park the bus. No?

  25. Repost because the last got fooked up

    @birdkamp 1:48pm

    “I love that reasoning – buy a player , win the league”…………. Isn’t that what Man U did with RVP and he won the league for them!!!!

  26. @bill

    When was the last time you saw a ball played from midfield in to the path of Giroud? You are typically trying to find a single scapegoat for a team that all to often plays with its creative spine with their backs to goal. In the same way you have constantly banged on about Santi being best used from the wider midfield role, you are wrong. Positioning aside at the start of the game, Santi ends up playing his best football in the middle. I mean, watch the game against Fulham as a prime example. All the excellent work Santi did was between the width of the 18 yard box. There is as you like to say no magic bullet, yet you seem to be impressing upon us that the reason for our attack is not more prolific is due to our striker. Interestingly few would argue he has been one of our best players this term, well, few outside you. Statistically he is having a good season, his contributions across the field both in the offensive and defensive third are better than last year. Yet, in your eyes he is the cause… I don’t know what to do with you sometimes 🙂

  27. Miami.

    We have one of the best midfields in the world. Ozil has been considered by many as the best midfielder in the world at playing the ball into the path of advancing attackers. If no one is playing the ball into Giroud’s path I would suggest that the most likely reason is that giroud does not put himself into position for those sort of passes. That is not his game. He does his best work with back to goal and you can’t attack at pace with your back to goal. I think logic would argue that we have adapted to what he does well because we have no other choice. You can’t very well build an attacking plan that asks your only striker to play a role he is not really as good at so by necessity we have to play a slower paced back to the goal game. Call that scapegoating if you want but I think it seems logical to me.

    Santi does his best work in the middle of the park but that’s what our wide forwards are supposed to do. Theo does the same thing. Both cut into the middle. Starting from a wider position allows him to look for those pockets of space that open up in the middle. That’s what he said in that interview. When he plays wide forward the emphasis of his game is supposed to be finding a way to score while the main focus of our central midfield players is to dominate the center of the park, control the ball and create chances. It makes sense that he has more freedom to get into scoring positions when he starts wide left. He also seems to do a reasonably good job of tracking back from wide left.

  28. So, Chelsea has done with Manu for this season, perhaps Jose thinks ManU require a bit of strengthening to be able to beat Arsenal and Manchester City.

  29. So when the heat starts building about your crazy spending and the fraudulant way in which you went and continue to go about buying Neymar, Barca President Sandro Rosell resigns. Everything about that transfer sounds and smells of corruption and fraud and the more reports come out about it the more and more and worse and worse becomes for Barca and everybody involved with it. There is everything from side payments to multiple contracts being signed by Neymar to multiple contracts being out there that aren’t signed to a 40M difference between the reported transfer fee and that which was actually paid and how much was actually and has actually been paid.

  30. Ladies and Gentlemen,

    He’s back and he’s twice as dangerous. The interweb didn’t stand a chance; it was doomed the moment Jonny’s finger touched the keyboard. It’s / & b not b & million spaces / ….

  31. So apparently RvCunt and Rooney were fit to play against Sunderland and if this is so, then people are really going to question why Moyes didn’t play atleast 1 of them.

  32. @Yogi W

    I have a serious question totally not football. If you have adverts on your site, and I assume you’re in the uk and get English adverts, Why do I get French adverts and French dating sites on your blog? Just a question!

  33. @Bill

    “That is not his game. He does his best work with back to goal and you can’t attack at pace with your back to goal.” With all due respect Bill, that is horse shit. His role is to bring the midfield in to the game and he runs off the shoulders of the defenders to both create space for himself and his team mates. Look at Santi’s first goal against Fulham for instance. Arsenal’s lack of playing at speed is more often than not down to the teams over elaboration in the final third. Something Arsenal have done for a considerable number of years prior to Giroud’s arrival. By your ascertain, the only reason is down to our forward player. I love how every other team member in the attacking third is seemingly given a pass on their movement or incisiveness. So yes, your assumption that one player is responsible for Arsenal lacking more speed/pace in their attacking movement rings as hollow as a old log.

  34. Miami

    Believe what you want and I am confident we will never agree. Your focus is on deflecting any criticism from Giroud but the reality is that he is doing what he is supposed to do by playing with his back to goal. With OG as our CF, this style gives us the best chance to win. We could not really set up with an attack that emphasized running off the final defender because that is not Giroud’s game. He does set up higher up the pitch and run off the last defenders shoulder He sets up deeper with his back to goal so the other teams defenders can set up deeper and crowd the penalty box. Do you think we would be playing with this style if Walcott, NB52 or Podolski was our main CF.? When you set up with the CF having his back to goal it seems perfectly logical to suggest at your build up play is going to be a slower and the defensive team will have more time to get set up and will set up deeper. You are going to have to break them down by making quick short passes and little triangles around the box. Just my own belief but that is hard to do consistently if the other team is organized. We end up spending a lot of time passing the ball around without a lot of penetration. None of that is Giroud’s fault because that is how he is being asked to play and given his style and abilities that is probably the best option that we have.

  35. 2007-2008…

    My heart is still broken.

    It was not the defence that let us down, it was a lack of attacking options manifesting itself in Eboue playing as a right winger, and resulting in a succession of draws against beatable teams.

    And of course Arsene’s tendency to overestimate the ability of his squad to cope with two games a week at the crucial period of the season. In 2008, we had to play AC Milan and the Pool in CL. And Arsene believed, as always, he could win the CL. And the league campaign suffered.

    Would a signing of a half decent attacking player have helped in January 2008? Who knows…

    But Arsene’s weakness to overestimate his squad is still there. This happened again in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, when the Barsa ties exhausted the team. It happened again in December this season.

    And it will happen in February and March.

    I bet we’ll see Sanogo playing in a crucial league encounter.

    Excited?

  36. @Bill

    “Your focus is on deflecting any criticism from Giroud but the reality is that he is doing what he is supposed to do by playing with his back to goal.”

    If you wouldn’t go to every extreme to attempt to undermine the Arsenal player at every turn then we would not be engaged in this sparring. You single him out all the time regardless of whether he does well or not. To suggest one player is responsible for a lack of pace in the attacking third, is just absurd. But as you say “Believe what you want and I am confident we will never agree”.

  37. I have decided that we have everything to lose by not expecting Arsenal to win the League.

    Think of it this way, why can you set your watch by the departure of trains in Japan, Germany and Switzerland while in the Uk you would be a fool to try. Technology is the same in both, there are no scientific laws that apply in those places that suddenly lose there meaning in England. Well there is only one major difference – and it applies to everything we do – It is simply that the people of those countries expect it to happen, so it does. The moment you settle for something less, less is what you will get.

    So I am not falling into the trap that ManUre has, and I suggest that we all do the same, they have accepted that they will not be able to surpass Fergie and low and behold…..they most certainly haven’t.

  38. Our midfield is responsible for not releasing the ball, i’ve seen Giroud make so many runs ad actually point to where he wants it.

    If he is inept at that is another matter entirely but truthfully, we are sluggish and slow in building attacks.

    Giroud’s primary object i would bet is to hold the ball up for the midfield to play.

    He is not Suarez or any other striker, Wenger knows that and he is utilising his strengths , hence the ball the hold up play and lots of crosses for him.

    Had we signed Suarez, i can guarantee you Wenger would have played differently.

    Giroud is being used as the base for our attacks (and he gets a few goals himself as well), whilst a player like Suarez would have been the spear tip.

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