Same Lessons Not Learned As Arsenal Come Unstuck

rtEverton 3 – 0 Arsenal

Naismith (14)
Lukaku (34)
Arteta (61 o.g.)

Pl W D L F A Pts
5 0 0 5 4 21 0

It is damning reading whichever spin you want to put on it. No points from the five away games against the top six in the Premier League; fifteen points dropped which have strengthened the position of teams around us. More damning than any statistic is the fact that we have not looked like taking any points in any of those fixtures. At least Arsenal were consistent in that respect at Goodison Park.

How on earth has it come to this? The only thing that changed from Anfield, from Stamford Bridge, is the scoreline. The collapse may not have been as deep, quick or severe but it was as damaging. Post-match, Arsène spoke of the need to get “back to basics” and whilst listening to Billy Bragg’s album will no doubt provoke some thoughts, I am not sure how it will help to improve performances. Promoting social awareness is all well and good but discovering A New England is not necessarily the same as rediscovering form.

Wenger was at least honest about the match,

Our performance was not convincing, defensively not offensively. Everton were better than us and deserved to win. It’s a very disappointing result and a very disappointing performance, the two go together

In truth, Arsenal were outfought, out-thought, outwitted, outsmarted whilst Everton were out of sight by the interval. Crucially, even with a defensive shield in front of the back four, there were still plenty of gaps to be found and exploited ruthlessly. Monreal was exposed by Lukaku’s presence on the right with help in short supply as Everton moved the ball efficiently. The words carry a familiarity not just in the repetitiveness of use after the big matches but because they are ones more closely associated with Arsenal performances. Where has it all gone wrong, Arsène?

Wenger is in an invidious position. His loyalty to the players means that he has to defend them come what may but in reality he must feel incredibly let-down by them; disappointed, angry, bewildered. The latter is the only explanation one can find for the slowness of change. Arsenal needed some impetus  before the halfway point of the second half when Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ramsey entered the fray. The pair and Sanogo offered the prospect of putting a false air of respectability on the scoreline with the Welshman providing energy, Oxlade-Chamberlain crashing a shot against the bar and dubious officiating robbing Sanogo of his maiden Arsenal goal. But a two-goal salvo would have flattered to deceive, papering over the cracks. In truth, Arsenal got what they deserved out of the game; nothing.

Roberto Martinez hit the nail on the head in his post-match observation that this was a “a huge three points from a psychological point of view“, not just in Everton’s chase but in reinforcing negative messages in the Arsenal players minds. They have failed at every domestic hurdle away from home this season: United, City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton. The matches where points can have a positive impact not just in your own total but restricting that which your opponents can reach. Had it been five defeats by a single goal, the perception would have been different but the craven capitulations on five separate occasions is incomprehensible. How can players supposedly at their peak, be so collectively poor. The only one I think who would escape censure for yesterday was Wojciech Szczesny. In fact I have a lot of sympathy for him, exposed hopelessly by his teammates for all the goals, pulling off two saves in the process only to see a lack of response from those in front of him, slower than Naismith and Mirallas to rebounds. Or the former at least; perhaps Arteta being slower than Mirallas would have kept the score down to two, who knows?

It is the manner of the goals being conceded – why did Monreal force a central striker inside when pushing Lukaku makes more sense – that is baffling. Arsenal were significant contributors to their own downfall and the lack of response openly calls into question Arsène’s assertion that the spirit of the squad cannot be called into question. The fight displayed against Manchester City was absent and I don’t think you can separate the spirit as Arsène refers to, from confidence which is at a low. The tough run of games appears to have openly taken its toll on some players, Cazorla looks shattered and bereft of inspiration in himself. As hard as he may try – and I would not fault anyone’s effort, I don’t think they are shirking from the workload – it isn’t ‘happening’ for him; a talented player is looking rather, well, ordinary.

And whilst the players are rightly bearing the brunt of the criticism for the performances – they are rightly applauded when it goes well, the brickbats have to be taken after they have let the club down – the manager and coaching staff are not exempt from criticism either. A one-off defeat can be excused, thrashings are painful but as long as the lessons are learned, there is nothing but good to come from them. When the same tactical errors are made, there is a problem. Arsène set the team out as most expected him to and whilst I understand the logic in pursuing the gameplan despite the setback of an early goal being conceded, the midfield was bereft of invention. Even with the personnel on offer, nothing happened to put Everton on the back foot; there was no response to Naismith’s opener and that is concerning.

Ultimately, we can offer as many extenuating circumstances as we want for a one-off performance but repetition of the same mistakes, displaying the same shortcomings indicates that lessons are not being learned or imparted effectively on the pitches of London Colney. It’s ludicrous to claim the players are not playing for the manager but they don’t seem to be invigorated by him or the staff. Is that fed in part by their own interpretation of the uncertainty over the future? Perhaps but it strikes me that the issue of confidence is much more deep-rooted and I don’t think Arsène can solve the problems on his own. I don’t think that he can resolve the issues, full stop. I don’t think it is fair on him, however, to draw a contrast on managerial posture beside the pitch. Of course Roberto Martinez was full of life, the Spaniard was exuberant watching his team dismantle a team above them. If that display doesn’t charge you with energy, nothing will. Of course Arsène was muted by contrast, how can you be perky with another defeat staring you in the face. The problem was not beside the pitch, the problem was how easily Arsène was outwitted by another younger manager.

It’s a dreadful end to the season with the FA Cup a welcome distraction from the Premier League at the moment. It’s increasingly looking like a swan song.

’til Tomorrow.

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249 thoughts on “Same Lessons Not Learned As Arsenal Come Unstuck

  1. @Moe

    I agree with you, I miss Theo and Ozil!!

    Podolski can score like that but Arsene doesn’t like him. I would love to see Theo and Podolski up top given the freedom to run the channels with Ozil playing behind them feeding them balls to score goals with.

  2. to be honest i dont know what to make of it..
    david dein is supposed to be not welcome at arsenal either but regulary attends matches…

    as far as usmanov, not a popular figure i know, but ive long championed his influence in the board room..
    he owns a third of the club its absolute nonesence theyve blocked him out..

    his people need to have a say in things, we need a more diverse board room everyone knows that..well weve got a guy itching to get his ppl in there and hes sat twindling his thumbs..but at least hes got an excuse

    whats stans?

  3. @JJ

    I agree, that whole situation is just odd to be honest but seems normal as can be at Arsenal.

    I have always been indifferent to Usmanov but I have always had a disdain for Kroenke. I wouldn’t be opposed to see Usmanov and his people in action because we have seen what Kroenke can do and well I don’t like it.

  4. Stan has no excuse other than his perennial treating of sporting mediocrity and fiscal approach to his sports “franchises”. God help us if his son gets more involved after he’s torpedoed the Denver Nuggets. Why not just sell your best player, Carmelo Anthony?! This is why I won’t put all responsibility for RvP sale solely on AW, though obviously he agreed with it ultimately, apogetically.

  5. Vermz? Don’t like him. GOod defender makin school boy errors eh. NO. THe little cunts mate and he sounds like him. THen he as captain gets dropped for a French league one defender who he can’t dislodge and still keeps the armband. Yh that went down well in his circle. I can almost hear the lil cunt on the phone.
    ANd now he can’t be bothered. WOw, totally gobsmacked. JUst get rid, don’t have a potential viper in there.
    THe new vidic? I think so. SHould put a blue on It really.

  6. you only block someone out if you dont want them to know whats going on and if you dont want them to know whats going on then youve got something to hide and if youve got something to hide then your a proper cunt..

    the only reasons the club is worth what it is as far as net worth is becuase of usmanov buying up shares at the price hes been getting them

    im also on record, a long long time ago when we were having all the baordroom debates that the day wenger leaves is the day stans realised his profit margins have been maximised and he sells..

    only usmanov can afford us…hes the one setting the standards with the share price..

  7. He says he’s in it for the long term–is this a threat?!–but certainly the time to sell is before AW leaves. With the cash, the new commercial deals and stadium debt very manageable, the only way to boost the shares would be to win some titles and expand the global support base, merchandising and prize money. Kroenke doesn’t have the stomach for that as it might need major investment. That is the step the next owner might be interested to try if SK were to sell.

  8. TV has never been any good at defending..
    his main asset was that hes a defender who likes to attack and thats why we bought him becuase we played a gunho style and we wanted goal threats from all over the pitch..

    now weve tried to be more defensively stable TV doesnt fit the system…

    he was never our best defender he became our best defender by default becuase we sold everyone else

    he shouldnt be anywhere near the first team..neither should cazorla as only one of ozil rosicky and cazorla can play in the same team and cazorlas not the best one..

    id sell them both and use the money to rebuild other areas because we are going to need to spend 100mil on a new strikeforce such is the shitness of the one we have..

  9. time to be honest and tell it as it is..
    half the players in this squad arent good enough…
    and the fact we are so top heavy with acms leaves the side unbalanced and forces wenger to play 451 with passing but no penetration and no steel..well it doesnt force him he does it on purpose because he likes it

    if wenger wants to go back to basics then we need a back to basic formation with back to basic players..

    we have the 7s in theo and ox and we have the 10s in ozil jack and rosicky.

    we need some 9s because the ones weve got are shit..

    we need some 11s we dont have any we need more 8’s as rambos the only one and we need some 4’s as we only have one of them and hes a stop gap..

    we need another 5 and 6

    we’ll need a 2 when sagna goes

    and im debating with myself if we need another 3 because i thought we were ok there but im slowly coming round to the idea one of them is shite so maybe we need a 3 as well..

    and we’ll need a 1..

    major rebuild needed…

    major funds available..

    oh and we need a new manager to do it..

  10. The other thing that happened in 2011 was that Arsene made the first real attempt to break the trophy drought when he used full strength teams for the Carling Cup and then we lost to Birmingham who later got relegated.

  11. JJ, priorities. no way we change that many plauers and as i said above no new manager is going to have the greenlight for complete overhaul of such proportions just on his say so at the outset. you know this club and these directors–ot is evution not revolution–very conservative except when taking such a massive risk on the short term high interest financing for the Highbury apartments project.
    I say keep Sagna. Give him 3 yrs-that gives a year or so to find a young RB whom Jenks can compete with. Keep Verm– he’s ok as 3rd CB with Sagna at 4th. Top new priorities are 1) top striker to start ahead of Giroud most of the time. 2) physical, dynamic, big and strong CM/DM. 3) veteran GK who could be a legitimate starter to replace Fabianski. That would be amazing business. If we could add a left sided winger/forward with pace that would be my 4th move. I don’t see it as at all realistic that the club could or would bring in 6+ players this summer. We are lacking some pace and quality, that’s most key. Otherwise we are talking too many new players and a short preseason in which to integrate them.

  12. I disagree that half the squad aint good enough JJ.

    or maybe they are. I don’t know anymore.

  13. In addition, we need 1) a better transfer team– that means perhaps revising the manager’s input to talent rather than all decisions around value 2) to put in place whatever regimes medical or training will prevent such numerous and ridiculously long term injuries 3) some new sports psychology team to work with the players 4) stronger committment and vision by the board and executives that this club aims to win top competitions right away by loosening the wage restrictions for top quality players and authorizing/insisting the manager take risks and gambles on good players to enhance depth of quality even if that means having some players we’ve paid fees for and are on good wages to sit on the bench (if AW would rotate judiciously, this might not be a problem). If we need a new manager–fine–but without addressing these larger issues, we won’t see the level of spending and performance improvements the club needs. Just my uneducated opinion–perhaps some of this is taking place. We are poised for big things if we can get out of this cycle we are stuck in.

  14. He good just not motivated enough.

    I’d keep Mozart, versatile, drives forward, game changer wit Jack being next. Caz the same. Arteta? Bye. Thanx for the last two but your time has come along wit the manager. They both get on like a house on fire so they’ll have loads to talk about. Cos they like that don’t they. Talkin.
    Never was a dm and now age has you by the balls. Sad really.

    I keep having this recurring play in my head where ox is on the right lays it off to ozil I think then bombs down to the touch line and ozil slips a perfect ball for him and we score. Can’t remember the match. But I thought yes, there you go, simples. But that’s not good enough is it arsene. We need another mid don’t we. We lose pace for the year and are lucky enough to have near enough a clone and we stick him in mid. Nah, can’t defend him after that. And that’s the tip of the iceberg ffs.

  15. JJ Limestone @ 9:46

    I agree, there are just to much that needs to be done to get everything we need in one summer. All these years of underinvestment and trying to replace Henry, Pires, RVP WITH $ 10-12M players has left our front 3 incredibly thin even if Theo can come back at close to 100%. We also need a big athletic DM. I think we are well stocked in the Ozil and Ramsey positions and we have to cross fingers for Theo and hope Ox takes the next step.


    We need to replace Sagna and TV5 if they leave and get a new back up GK just to stay even.

    To actually improve we need

    1) CF
    2) DM
    3) LW

    Those will all be expensive and no way we can do all of that in one summer

    Mark Schwarzer type free transfer would be fine for a season or 2 as back up GK. We have to stick with Gibbs and Nacho and hope this was just a down year.

  16. im confused as anyone dukey
    i like to think the squad are better than what they are but i watch shit like i have this season and i think how can they be..
    most of the fault is the managers, different teams different players same catipulations, its obviously down to him but i look at the players and watch there performances and i think half of you are just not good enough and youve been carried most of the season by the players who are now out injured..

    a cup? yeah anyone can win a cup with the right tactics but im beginning to think we wont get that right..

  17. is it wenger that is making our players wilt under pressure by giving them no direction and proper planning or are the players just not good enough, I refuse to believe these players can only win one game in ten v the top 6 because they are not good enough.

  18. theres definately no prep..
    or very little

    i refuse to beleive wenger preps his team for different matches

    well he does but its the same prep he uses every single week..

    cannon fodder teams have it worked out but dont have the quality on the day to pull it off…maybe one in ten they’ll pull it off

    but better quality sides just rub their hands together becuase they know whats coming and when managers like rodgers and martinez can identify the weakness, exploit it at its core and break its back and fuck us then its pretty damning on wengers prep..

    the players look tired and confused but its only becuase they dont know what else to do once its starts going wrong and they know they are being beat up..theres no counter offensive its just lets keep doing what your doing and hope the other team implodes and lets us walk the ball into the net 5 times in 5 minutes..

    g neville ripped us a new one tonight on the tactics board and he’s 100 percent right in everything he says..

  19. fuck it i just dont know anymore
    i spent 3-4 years blaming the players and the board

    im done with all that i just know now we need a new manager..

    that will be a good start

    we’ll probably find he wont change any personel and next season win the league with these very same players…

    which will piss all the wengeristas off for some reason but fuck them they dont have a clue what they are talking about anymore..

    quite ironic when neither do we really…its safe to say arsene wenger has the whole goonerverse clutching at straws and thats probably the only thing everyone can identify with..

  20. Here’s a snippet from tonight’s Evening Standard:

    “Wenger is an idealist. He sincerely believes his team are good enough to play their own football irrespective of the qualities of Arsenal’s opponents and a rigid adherence to that philosophy is in one sense admirably defiant and in another impossibly stubborn.”

    The Premier League is no longer a place for idealists, its now a place for realists. The reality is that money has to be spent to compete consistently at the highest level. The only team not to have spent fortunes is Everton, but they have brought players in. A mix of clever loan signings (Deulofeu, Barry, Lukaku) and hard working players plus a sprinkling of very talented youngsters coming through. Maybe they are just storing up pain down the line and it will be interesting to see whether they try to add numbers to their squad in the summer if they get into the CL.

    For all of the talk of AW’s last days, I’m still not convinced it will happen this summer. The manager continues to do what the Board appear to want from him. If we get into the CL again do they let him go? I doubt it. Maybe if we don’t make fourth place will be different. And I don’t see AW stepping down as he is a stubborn man, a man who believes implicitly that he is right. Will being fifth and not winning the FA Cup phase him? I’m not sure it will. Much as I want him to go.

    With the Wembley game(s) coming up and only five games to go in the Prem, we should be need to go for it. The players available at present cannot play in Wenger’s perfect formation, so let’s play to the strengths of the players we have. Why not go for 2 up front, say Podolski and Sanogo? How are we going to break out of this rut we are in for the rest of the season if we continue to play with Giroud up front, maybe bringing Sanogo in either from the start or as a sub? Sanogo playing as sole striker, what a joke! The poor lad has been thrown in at the deep end in a nightmare situation.

  21. Im now of the belief that maybe Martinez would be getting more out of this squad. I mean our squad pisses over the Everton one doesn’t it.

  22. we cant play any other formation than 451
    we can resemble a 433 but only when theos fit..

    we cant play 442 becuase we have no wingers it will be a flat line of acms and thats just as bad as 451 becuase the two strikers will have to drop deep to see the ball and thats no different to what weve been doing..

    personally and i think ive said this before but id stick with a 433 but make it resemble a 433 with podolski central and gnabry and ox on either side..

    pace and finishing..pack it in with the back to goal patient tippy tap bollox weve been worked out we get contained and with the defence turning into a shambles we cant afford to be patient anymore..

    best start trying to score some goals havent we

  23. Come on this team doesn’t need that much. Dm and striker bear minimum. I’m happy to give Campbell, akpom, and ajayi a shot.
    I’ve seen some sublime stuff this year even from arty. TRouble is arsene, can’t see anyway around it. When he gets it right cor blimy. But Smarts should never be confused with wisdom.
    ‘We’re goin to investigate the injury situation cos its getting on top now’
    OK not the actual quote but gist. Why even say it is what I find troubling.
    HE doesn’t trust enough of the 25 And crosses his fingers the stars will align. With how much sitting pretty again. Zeus wept with tears of laughter.

  24. our squad pisses over most on paper..although up front plenty have better strikers…
    i know we all liked giroud and defended him until the end but my patience with him has gone i think hes shit and should be sold..hes not a smudger hes another lee chapman
    and its a disgrace weve gone with snaogo when akpom has done more to deserve a go himself..

    anyhoo yeah on paper we look good but as a team we look disjointed…

    i agree another manager would probably prep them better

  25. And that’s the thing ay it. With greatness etc..
    He’s had to make everyone happy. Unfortunately it seems he chose the board. And fair enough he’s closer to them than any fan.

    The ambition line is starting to sting a little. I just hope we don’t ‘cesc’ ozil. He’ll be off and I’d like him to piss on real mad one day thanx.

  26. Other then the short run of games early in this season we have not been an effective attacking football team since the start of January 2013. Even though we went on the unbeaten run at the end of last year we didn’t play like a team that was capable of winning a title. Defense is the great equalizer and it papered over the cracks and now that defense has dropped down we have no chance. We have lost basically every game but 1 that we conceded more then 1 goal in the last 16 months. You only have to look at our goal differential this year and the fact that we are on pace to only score about 65 goals in 38 games to see that we need some real upgrades in our attacking personnel.

  27. JonJon says:
    April 7, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    Absolutely spot on. Cesc said when he went to Barca he was shocked at the level of detail and the very rigid nature of their system. At Barca they have specific instructions for player’s to follow to the letter. Everyone seems to think Barca is a creative team full of player’s who do shit on the spot and the cohesion and understanding they have is because they are quality players. Yes they are quality players, but the system they use is very strict, they do endless training where it’s almost suicidal, be at this place , at this time when this happens.

    Their system helps them become the player’s they are, it makes them look better than they are. Martinez and Rodger’s team are not better than ours except for the striker but the system he uses and the tactical flexibility is what makes them look better!

    At Arsenal, we just try and play our football. Go out and express yourself, all flowers and rainbows.

    When it works it’s glorious, when it doesn’t ,CHANGE IT! Other manager’s change to suit the team, we try to make the player’s fit into our system even when we can see it isn’t working.

  28. No no no don’t sell Oliver. Alan might stop his impression.
    Seriously though I still like him. Not many strikers can aid your defence and stroke a post like he did against the totts. I don’t blame him for bein run into the ground so much physically and mentally. And we know what his wife is like. So he snapped. Great man management. Bit like verm ay it.
    Top 4 plan b he is, needs help. English has gotten better. see how uncomfortable he is in interviews. Feel for him.

  29. Colt. JJ

    Not sure how you could watch us struggle to create chances and have even more trouble finishing chances and see all of those ugly wins we have watched in the last 16 months and still feel really good about the squad. If everyone is healthy and everyone is in top form consistently then on paper we look good but so will any team. How often is everyone healthy and in top form, that just is not realistic. With an average number of injuries and assuming middle of the road form which as much as you can hope for, we are 4th place squad.

  30. 1) We have as much depth as City bar (CRUCIALLY) up top where this season’s GD for Liverpool, City and Chelsea seperates them as title challengers against us Eveton and United. But if you analyse the squads, depth is not an excuse. Liverpool have a mediocre back line but have done well with their resources and maximised their front line strength.

    What I could say is that whilst buttoning down a mediocre defense to do a decent job in front of goal is more than possible (see many of the teams in and around or below us), it is far less plausible to get away with gambling up front.

    Strikers are instinctive and the skill is something that is more difficult to teach or drill. We mucked up last summer when Wenger elected to set 40m as a threshold for the striker (in lieu of a possible and correct purchase of Ozil late in the window). We gambled on to be fair slim pickings that for most part did not add capability over cover in Jan. And we are paying for it now.

    Whenever we do not put the ball in and convert the chances created (however slim), we pay for it as the midfield and defense then bear the brunt of the opponents’ counter.

    We are truth be told (and have been since RVP left) a bit toothless up top.

    Giroud is a decent player and one that offers a muscular approach to teams that sit deep against us and compress space. But he needs to be supported. Where he struggles is when we play more mobile quality opposition that threaten us in our own half. Our midfield shorn of Ozil, Walcott (in particular), Jack and Ramsey struggle in a more defensive posture and are unable to offer him the support he requires being ponderous and such.

    2) We cannot blame the curse of injuries but it has an impact. Whilst we may bemoan our arse luck again with knocks and bruises, bear in mind we have been most fortunate up top and at the back and in particular in CDM positions.

    Wenger has strengthened the Cback short fall by adding Kallstrom which means Flamini is freed up to cover RB should Sagna have to go in the middle.

    But Ozil, Walcott, Jack and Ramsey is tantamount to City without Silva, nasri, Fernandhino and Toure.

    Over time, cos it’ll have an impact if anything with Walcott’s speed (in which Wenger was counting on), Ramsey’s goal form, Jack’s drive and Ozil’s creativity. Anyone bemoaning Ozil’s contributions this season now? 8 assists anyone?

    3) Tactics is where we are blatantly short (aside from the chasm up front)

    Wenger continuously sets up wrong particularly against top opposition.

    Against Everton, he needed Chamberlain at RW to cover Sagna and check baines.

    He needed Rosicky out LW to cover Monreal and add a bit of tenacity to what would be their obvious route in. Santi in the middle and I thought Kallstrom over the knackered Arteta who has been sterling throughout the season but isn’t the youngest.

    But the real issue isn’t the set up. Everyone makes mistakes.

    The real issue is Wenger’s ethos of laissez faire and him leaving the players to sort themselves out. Rather then some crtical intervention or instructions from the bench, they are left to flounder whereby instead of going behind by one goal, they find themselve chasing the game 2 or 3 goals down which is demoralising to say the least!

    This non-interventionist stance has cost us. Late substitutions do not help.

    On the flip side, I remember (and am reminded of) RVP shooting that glance to the bench some seasons past when Wenger took (IIRC) our best performing player in Chamberlain off. I’m not excusing RVP’s general poor character but it goes someway in suggesting that several senior players may have more axe to grind than merely wenger’s (until recently) general reticence in the market.

    You can buy players in the market all you like but if the approach to on field tactical adjustments stays the same, it will cost us.

    Wenger has in fact flattered to deceive until recently because of his general genius in the market. for most parts, he has bought well at low prices and built the club and they have carried through on talent.

    But talent isn’t enough these days without astute tactics consideirng the league has changed. We have now more peer competitors able to afford equal or better talent and price us out. BUT there is also a change in complexion in the league as there are now more foreign players (affordable) to every club in the PL and more foreign managers with better tactics up against Wenger.

    That slight edge in good purchasing power has eroded where Wenger’s tactics (and not saying he is poor) has not kept up with challenges.

    4) Psychologically, I’m just not sure if Wenger is able to rally the players quite enough. Something isn’t right here. Maybe we let slip some losses but there is no reason to believe that a properly motivated team of the quality he has assembled even with injuries (as he has at least been hit in an area where he has ensured maximum cover), should not be able to keep things tight rather than slip to massive losses. This is an intangible that has almost become a self-fulfilling prophecy in the team. Believe it and it will happen.

    Hence our position.

  31. Well, if there is one thing you expect AW to be able to do, it is getting an attacking team together. If we can maintain and even improve our defending by bringing in a more effective shield to an established back 5, we might defend even better.

    Last summer was the time for strikers, it seems. This summer options are Costa, Falcao again and then some lesser lights like Mandzukic,. Not as impressive a group. I really am not that keen on Draxler because he is so young, isn’t yet a prolific scorer and has a bad injury record. We need to get away from players like that and if d more rugged types. That’s one thing you have to give Giroud. He plays hard and has been durable, even if being overplayed has drained him of energy and effectiveness.

  32. JJ

    So why not Ox and Gnabry on the wings and Ramsey and Flamini in the middle? Cazorla and Rosicky can swap in for Ramsey or one of the wingers. Have Poldi and Sanogo up front with Giroud on the bench. Its got to be worth trying something different to the death by a thousand cuts we have at the moment with Giroud playing as lone striker. I don’t see Poldi as the lone front man, for Germany he played as part of a two CF unit (with Klose) or on the left wing with Gomez up front. I don’t think they play him up front on his own that much.


    I’ve said that in the past about Barca, it doesn’t take fantastic players to close down when they don’t have the bal. It takes discipline and teamwork. Barca players putting pressure on the man with the ball and closing down his options quickly. Seems to be the way Pep likes to get them playing as Bayern do it as well.

  33. Arsenal should have a fantastic prolific striker. In the Wenger era we’ve had Ian Wright, Anelka, Henry, Adebayor for a great season, and RvP. It really is strange having such a blunt attack. True, the best creators for Giroud and players who benefit from his linking play are out with injury, but his scoring rate had started to dip already by November/December.

    Bill raises a good point about Walcott when he says “if he returns to previous levels” because that sort of knee injury often robs a player of some of his pace and ability to cut/change direction. Without exceptional pace Theo’s effectiveness could dip. We’ll have to see where he is this summer. Hopefully he comes back without losing a step. If he has, we will need that speedy/tricky winger-wide forward we’ve been mentioning.

  34. Just as a reminder that the squad epth is there in quality and in quantity :

    City – Arsenal

    Aguerro – ?????
    Negredo – Giroud
    Dzeko – Sanogo.
    Jovetic – Podolski

    Quite obviously, we have no one in the class of Aguero, someone who can create opportunity on his own with a bit of mobility. NO surprise that Wenger was gunnig for Higuain and then Suarez. Sanogo is not a match for Dzeko promising as he is.

    I think Wenger set a limit to 40m for the striker last summer with an eye on an Ozil bid late on. he relinquished Higuain (arguably) without a fight likely no wanting to go into a bidding war with napoli past 40m and in the believe that we had other options.

    Suarez and Liverpool’s position was badly judged but compounding that was Wenger’s slowness in moving onto secondary targets which we lost.

    thereby Jan was always going to be difficult with many of the options not value when considering the players which may come available this summer (manzukic, Benzema, Costa, Falcao) Some were either old and wanting expensive contracts (berbatov) or over price (Martinez) or simply cup tied (Mitrogolou) without offering capability over cover.

    The one player I thought could be an interesting wild card for us was Pato who was not cup tied and brought plenty of CL experience, had pace to burn and technically nuanced. A loan plus option to buy would have minimized our exposure but given us a different sub set of skills over what Giroud (or Bendtner/Sanogo) provided. Alas.

    Silva – Ozil
    Navas – Santi
    Nasri – Walcott
    Milner – Chamberlain
    Rodwell – Jack
    Boyata – Rosicky
    Toure – Ramsey
    Fernandhino – Arteta
    Garcia – Flamini
    ????? – Kallstrom

    Again we are out of four critical players in attacking midfield but thankfully have had the most depth for cover in this area. still, their impact would be felt even if it were City.

    I think wenger was banking on Walcott to provide pace this season in tandem with giroud. However knowing the loss of Theo, he should have IMO gambled and gotten someone like Konoplyanka for 16m (Liverpool almost landed him). The Ukrainian has plenty of pace and trickery out LW but can play across the midfield and crucially with Rosicky @33 (his injuries aren’t going to go away with age), it made sense for us to install a replacement early.

    Kolorov – Gibbs
    Clichy – Monreal
    Zabaleta – Sagna
    Richards – jenkinson
    Kompany – Metersecker
    Nastasic – Koscielny
    Demechelis – Vermaelen
    Lescott – ?????

    Again, Wenger covers our shortfall at Cback with Kallstrom as Flamini is freed to cover Sagna should he have to move infield. We are pound for pound in quantity and quality to compete. those that may point out Monreal as a flop may do well to remember Clichy and how suspect he was for us where he is an improved player under City.

    So I do not agree with this whole lack of depth argument. The problems are partially a lack of players up front but are deeper rooted and a combination. but as a squad, we are in good shape player-wise with additions up top. of course there will plenty of complications this summer with some positions to be filled in at the back that will add issue to front line reinforcement.

  35. Limestone.

    It’s not just arsenal but most teams that compete for league titles and go far in the CL have at least 1 prolific scorer and most times that is the striker. This years Munich team who get low double figures from so many different players is an exception and difficult to reproduce.

  36. With regard a possible end to tenure of Wenger, I believe it may push him to this decision should he miss out on the FA (Consolation cup), even if we finish 4th.

    Remember though that a 4th spot finish consistently is not an easy achievement in itself as a MINIMUM finish.

    OTOH, this summer may be a watershed and if anything a good time as any to assess the possible replacements.

    I do not for one feel Martinez (the current favorite in the media) is the best candidate for the job. An FA cup followed by relegation of Wigan does not augur well. Everton are flying at the moment but so were Swansea under Laudrup. Nor has Martinez even shown the consistency of finish that Moyes did in his years in charge of Everton and look where that has landed United.

    We have to be very careful with succession. not anyone will do for us.

    I am sure of course that Wenger’s departure will solely be dependent on whether he feels himself that he is able to carry us forward. On recent seasons, even with an FA cup win, I’m not sure he will have the confidence that he does.

    The frustrating thing is he has built a very strong squad that is missing one or two (VERY CRITICAL) elements and is not far off competing but never seems to take that extra half step in the interest of making it certain.

    I think the manager coming in must of course share Wenger’s development ethos and attacking football (albeit we curiously seem to have lacked this this season)

    With the world cup likely to see termination of some national managers’ contracts, this may be an opportune time for a hand over.

    Some come to mind :

    Klinssman (ex Spurs). Less we forget, this is the diver that had a strong hand in recapitalising german football into the power house that it is today. A proponent of attacking football and youth development, he seems a natural fit considering the growing German contingent at Arsenal. A lot will depend on his position with the US and if you can stomach an ex Spurs player in charge. I could if he delivers. Why not Sol Campbell anyone?

    Laurent Blanc (ex United). A steady manager with progressive ideals and one who has been holding down le France at a time when they are somewhat but their high standards fallow of talent.

    Deschamp (ex Chelsea) – Similarly, Deschamp has lost a bit of allure in his time with Marseille but that is as much to do with French clubs not being able to keep their best assets.

    Any of these managers should deserve a good look as they have done sufficient time in the arena of hard knocks and have a steadier record than the hot and cold of a young maverick in martinez. Unless of course AVB is your cup of tea.

    Again much will depend on who the gaffer sees as an eventual successor. there is still a chance considering the assets he has arrayed that he may extend for a limited transitional period to roll the dice (hopefully with some lessons learnt belatedly). otherwise, it may be an interesting summer for us and one laced with as much opportunity as with danger for the club.

  37. I believe wenger knows he is short of a striker but the market for a top end striker that gives us a different set of capability to Giroud has been frankly tight.

    There aren’t that many and you can count them with one hand TBH.

    And likely wenger has extrapolated a bit of a gamble to this summer because of the players that may come available.

    It was in hindsight (and predictably as well) penny-wise pound foolish but it is not simple to move some of these strikers locked in to contracts. we are also not (nor are we in the summer) the only game in town.

    I truly hope we do not gamble on someone with the youthful potential of Morata.

    IMO we need someone coming into his best years with enough experience under the belt.

    I can only think of 4 players that may fit our bill this summer in Falcao, Manzukic, Costa and Benzema.

    Two of those will be quickly snapped up by teams with deeper pockets than us (and there are a number of teams).

    Anyone-else like a Jackson Martinez will be a slight capability advantage for us (utilitarian) but will not necessarily deliver the sort of magic we need.

    Pato was a wild card I thought we should have explored in Jan but motivational issues maybe what prevents us from taking him on (aside from sketchy injury record, which surely qualifies him)

  38. This summer requirements in the squad :

    1) RB. Sagna will likely leave. Coleman or Debucchy are good PL blooded options. Debucchy is the cheaper option but Coleman in exchange for Arteta could be a decent deal given the Spaniard’s age and kallstrom’s availability (or for that matter someone younger form market)

    2) Fabianski – We don’t need a Cassilas grade keeper (unless he is willing to come for a good price) but someone dependable and willing to sit on the bench for large spells which is always a tricky requirement to fulfill.

    3) CB – Vermaelen likely to leave. may be an opportunity to bring someone younger in considering per, Koscielny and TV are all 28+. Preferably someone 23-25 with a bit of height (over 6’2). we also have to consider Hayden and Miquel as fourth choices and if either can step up (particularly Miquel, this should be his last chance)

    4) Striker – really the priority. As mentioned, pereferably (depending on how the wind blows) – one of Benzema, Manzukic, Falcao or Costa. My rpeferance is for Benzema considering “parlez vous Franciase” but more importantly his speed, link up play, familiarity with Ozil, no compromise to height (6’2) and most importantly he is 26 and just coming into his best years so plenty of up side there.

    5) Unlikely but I still think we need another creative force with pace out wide. If Podolski leaves, we could do with someone with pace and trickery from LW. rather than the young and expensive Draxler, I would rather Konoplyanka who at 24 is coming into his best years and has the pace and nuance to give us something different from that wing. He is also comfortable playing with both feet and in the long term can be developed as a Santi replacement. @16m (considering his experience internationally), he is a steal. Better at Arsenal than Liverpool (although of course we have lost some allure in recent months so the reverse can now be argued)

  39. That’s a busy summer and plenty of purchases to be made which may suggest that the board (if Wenger brings in the minimum 4th spot finish and the FA cup) may be more content with not rocking the boat and having Wenger still on helm to bring in the reinforcements and restructuring needed.

    We know from United that too much change in management structure combined with lack of experience can hurt a team.

    Considering 10m say for fullback, 6m for a keeper (Wenger will likely bring someone in for free of course), 10m for a young promising Cback, that will come up to 26m. Likely another 34m left for a striker which will be around a Karim Benzema ball park (if we are lucky without any contenders jacking up the price)

    It’s not an easy summer, and certainly will be made more difficult with major change in the management.

    Particularly if that switch has to await the end of the world cup, this will afford even less time for the new manager to get the team together.

    Maybe an interim period with Wenger on helm (even if he was to leave) with the new gaffer taking over a season down may be a more table solution.

    Unless of course the manager coming in has (like Klinnsman) plenty of experience in the top end of the International market.

  40. Klopp, Simeone, Blanc, Deschamps, Low, the Ajax group–several possibilities out there when AW steps down.

  41. Santori, quite surprised you left out a dm. That’s gotta be 2nd priority. Someone to grow with jack, rambo, ozil, gibbs etc… unless you believe hayden might step up as our current three get us through next year?
    I still think if we buy right and early sagna will stay. Which covers cb with ajayi given a chance.
    NOt sure what kono’s defence is like but he’s a handful all right.16mil though? We got ox for 12, he’s played lm hasn’t he. COuld drift inside also with that mean shot like a left sided robben.
    BEnz would do nicely. Prolly my fave too for that price.

    Ox benz theo
    SniderLin ozil rambo.


  42. Bill, I’ve seen what the players are capable of And the team as a whole. I also remember goin from match to match in winter thinkin he’ll sub rambo or ozil soon surely but he doesn’t so I’m sitting there thinkin oh they can’t be that tired then. They’ve got that new gadget thing below the neck that monitors all that stuff plus have just joined up with that data company, they’re on top of it surely. Nope. Turns out they weren’t.
    BEtter rotation, tactics with Benz, schnider, Campbell whilst keeping sagna and we’re good to go. wouldn’t cost that much either.

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