Take A Bow Son But The Encore Is Next Saturday


Norwich City 0 – 2 Arsenal

0 – 1 Ramsey (53)
0 – 2 Jenkinson (64)

So that’s it then. The painful familiarity of someone else being crowned Premier League champions, the comfort blanket of fourth for Arsenal. A season pockmarked with improvement and pricked by the deflation occasioned by the impact of heavy defeats. Closer to the title has rarely felt so far away.

As it was, Arsenal emerged from Carrow Road with the points thanks to Aaron Ramsey’s sumptuous volley and Carl Jenkinson’s maiden goal for the club, celebrated with exuberant ecstasy of a terrace loon, at once wholly appropriate and out of kilter with the afternoon. The match may have been played with the intensity of a pre-season friendly but that didn’t matter, Arsenal’s objective was to get three points, avoid injury and gain match sharpness for those who needed it. It didn’t have to be in that order and it’s safe to say that Arsène wouldn’t have cared so long as all three were achieved.

Beyond the goals there was little of note to talk about from the match. Abou Diaby returned to action, Jack Wilshere too; Fabianski got a clean sheet under his belt ahead of the final. Bacary Sagna seemingly played his last match in an Arsenal shirt and at centre back, Wenger’s options have run out and the task of replacing such versatility emphasised.

Wembley seems to be beckoning for as strong a squad as Arsène can field. Perhaps strengthened if Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain comes through the first training sessions from Wednesday. Yet that captures the significant factor for the same end product come May; a squad that suffered from the omnishambles of the previous summer, one where the grand plan floundered and ended with the club’s record transfer fee being spent in the exquisite flair of Mesut Özil. And missed depth in crucial areas, opportunities spurned for the signing that might have made the difference.

Somewhat fittingly, the German wandered instinctively through the Norwich defence all afternoon, enjoying a trip through the footballing Norfolk Broads but it was the sorely missed Aaron Ramsey who broke the deadlock, finishing with a volley that brought romantic comparisons with Dennis Bergkamp. It’s the end of the season and minds are allowed to wander. So long as the players are focused at next weekend’s FA Cup final, there will be few complaints – and I am sure – more florid exultations in the event of victory.

To finish seven points from top spot is, on the face of it, a vast improvement on previous seasons. A season where 128 days were spent at the top of the table. A season which if it had been based on calendar years, Arsenal were worthy champions; a new trophy to be collected but will anyone challenge for it come the end of 2014?

A season when the champions scored exactly 50% more goals – the runners-up almost the same – underlining where the difference between the two this season; one of them anyway. It’s an area Arsène has previously highlighted as needing some of the summers’ hard work he spoke of last week. It’s not just down to Olivier Giroud, he did well enough but he needs support, a partner on the pitch so that…no, it’s a cheap gag and I will not stoop that low this early in the morning. Arsenal scored their lowest number of goals in six seasons, falling short of two goals per game on average. But we had the best home record in five seasons. Shame we took the same number of points on the road as last time around, despite losing more games.

So was it an improvement, a stepping stone along the road of progress? The problem with more points, being closer to the champions, it’s tangible but meaningless. No two seasons are the same and with City not reaching the same total as United last season, we could have finished with two points less than 2012-13 and still remained closer to first place. We still finished fourth and whichever way you cut it, that’s the same as last season, the sixth time in the decade since The Invincibles. Our goal difference was worse because we scored fewer goals yet the back four is being lauded for so many clean sheets. How distorting were four away games, how pointless are such isolated comparisons.

Has this season been better in the Champions League? No, same frailties in the group phase, same exit in the knockout stage, put into sharper perspective by Real Madrid’s demolition of Bayern in the second leg. Counter-attacking genius by Ancelotti or just one of those nights? Their domestic form suggests the latter but it highlights the ruthlessness Arsenal need to find in the home matches, to give themselves a chance of progress and not be constantly on the back foot in the knockout stage. The problem is that the group stage is only getting harder and in truth Arsenal are perilously close to not being a top seed. Mind you, being in the second pot of eight is where the club sits in Europe’s premier competition if we are honest with ourselves and if we pay heed to our record.

I know your impatience is growing; was it an improvement? It’s a mixed bunch of pluses and minuses that leave the answer subjective. It’s folly to say the campaign has not been better than last time but is it as good as some claim? No, not by a long shot. It was a stepping stone, a step forward. How big that stride was and whether it is followed by two back depends entirely on this summer being organised and executed an awful lot better than last.

Does the prospect of an FA Cup win make the season feel any better? Of course it does, such silverware is always welcome and has the bonus of making the players feel that they are making progress, that they are winners. It’s why much of the coming week will be spent spinning the question of which XI to start with against Hull City. Loyalty against practicality; the present against the future. Arsène claims that he has not decided on his line-up for the final. That’s probably true but I bet he is only pondering two positions; right back and goalkeeper. He will know the rest or be clear that if everyone is fit, who the other nine will be. Maybe he is clear already about all positions, maybe his cup side is where his loyalties lie. The practicality of it all comes at the final whistle, where decisions are vindicated or not.

’til Tomorrow.

151 thoughts on “Take A Bow Son But The Encore Is Next Saturday

  1. we can take the stats of the season and polish them up all nice and pretty as much as we like but we still collapsed in march and finished fourth and if fergie hadnt retired we’d have finished 5th…

    we scored less than last season, we conceeded more, we got more points but only becuase we turned a few draws into wins, we still lost the same amount and we didnt break the 80 point barrier which you realistically have to do to be in with a chance and we havent done that for 6 years and we are still set to lose a key player in the summer..

    so whats different??

    bugger all, thats what

    just win the cup then we can say weve progressed and had a good season worthy of getting giddy about..

    as far as the league goes…yawn…could have told you what was going to happen before it happened because we do the same thing every year…

  2. The fact that we have someone like Ramsey who can score goals from the central midfield is a huge positive thing that not many teams have. However, even with him on the team the majority of goal scoring has to come from upfront. It’s up to Arsene to get the players who can consistently score. Ramsey and Ozil in the midfield is great but it will not be enough without the forwards who can pull a lot more of the scoring load.

  3. @JJ

    Your realistic take on Arsenal is always refreshing mate. All black and white with you, its good though because like Arsenal your consistent and I enjoy it.

  4. I agree Bill. My target for Ramsey is, as I said, 10-12 league goals a season. That would be a terrific contribution since he will likely get 7-9 assists, tackle and intercept well, pass accurately and cover tons of ground on the pitch with his energy and relentlessness. We shouldn’t be expecting him to be one of our top scoring leaders if we really intend to contend for the league and Europe. It would be great if he chips in and perhaps comes to be decisive with important goals in big situations. He’s a central midfielder not a forward. And I agree completely that we need to bolster those positions in front rather than playing Cazorla there every game he’s fit. He’ll get games when the forwards need a rest, off the bench in games we want to keep possession or to increase threat going forward for Arteta/Flamini, and centrally as an attacking midfielder when Ozil is out.

  5. “The fact that we have someone like Ramsey who can score goals from the central midfield is a huge positive thing that not many teams have. However, even with him on the team the majority of goal scoring has to come from upfront. It’s up to Arsene to get the players who can consistently score. Ramsey and Ozil in the midfield is great but it will not be enough without the forwards who can pull a lot more of the scoring load.”

    Is this your way of saying we didn’t play a 4-3-3? Under the present formation Ramsey is more up front than anyone other than Giroud, and even then he can be found in front of him. Did you notice how this central midfielder was scoring around the 6 yard box 🙂

  6. I don’t know how many goals we can honestly expect from Ramsey in any given campaign, but I do know that as long as he continues to charge in to the box he’ll be scoring goals. His finishes this season have been terrific, the last a fantastic effort. I would also imagine that if the running bug happens to catch on to other players they might score one or two more as well. Hell, even Jenks got one yesterday from just outside the 6 yard box, amazing what happen be achieved if you try and get in to a position to score 🙂

  7. YW

    I see your point about long-term benefits to playing Jenks but this game is so vital to Arsenal that Arsene will just take the best odds available to him.

    The pressure of heading into a 10th year without winning a trophy means that losing to Hull could still see the end of Arsene. If Wigan can beat Man City and nearly knock us out, Hull can pull out a surprise win. They’ll sit deep and let us try to pass around them and try to grab a set-piece goal or counter-attack. Most likely it will be a 2-0 win for us, but the nerves will be at an all-time high. If it goes badly, I still wouldn’t rule out Arsene walking away.

  8. On the fabianski vs check debate I for one would be happy if either are picked as I don’t believe there is actually now much between the two players it’s been fabs heroics that have contributed to us getting to the final but at the end of the day Wenger will undoubtedly make his choice based on who he thinks is best on the day.
    Also I think pool ski should have been played more granted it might not look like he is having a huge impact all the time but he is such a deadly finisher that it’s a mistake to leave him out for as long as Wenger did earlier in the season.
    I for one have no problem with remy I think he would outscore Gironde giving the same game time. It’s a shame the Germans lad drmic has signed for another team he also looked good. As good as Jackson martinez is I’m not sure he is worth the outlay at 27.
    Don’t know much about the young right back aurier but if he is anything like sagna then perfect.

  9. It’s those 8 niggly points at Stoke, Swansea and Everton that really get me. We would have not had need to sweat on GD. Those were winnable games even without some more influential players where we were exposed for our tactical deficiencies against Later Liverpool, Chelsea and City (something we have to work on for next season)

    That does not of course in any way diminish the fact that we are lacking firepower this season based on comparative GD to our peer rivals ahead of us.

    The absence of Walcott then Ozil and Ramsey of course had an effect but we are comparatively light and dependent on one (indestructable) fellow up top.

    We will need to remedy that with a good purchase this summer to compete next season. That perhaps encapsulates the frustration of most fans in that it isn’t that the team is short on numbers or quality but that we are so close to being complete.

    That said, an inability to add the striker should not be confused as a reluctance to do so.

    Wenger knew what he needed since RVP left. It comes as no surprise that the sort of strikers he was after in Higuain and Suarez is exactly what we need to add a different capability to Giroud’s.

    As I mentioned before, he was likely ‘distracted’ with keeping money on hand for the late Ozil bid. That restricted what he could spend on strikers to 40m+2 mark.

    His main failing IMO was holding out for Suarez for too long. When he dipped into the market again, a number of viable secondary targets had slipped. Thereby January which was always going to be hit and miss for him and I believe he felt it a possible gamble to await this summer where there would be more on the offing as far as strikers are concern.

    On the face of it, it backfired, but those 8 near points would suggest we weren’t as far as many feel we are. Had a Ramsey stayed fit and banged in a couple of assists/goals against Stoke and swansea, we would have easily added 5 to the tally. The Everton game was tough but we could have taken them had we not felt the combined effects of slippage. Shame really.

  10. Miami.

    How many central midfielders have the sort if engine that Ramsey has and can make forward runs all day and still get back and cover their position in the central midfield? I would argue very few can do that. Not many midfielders can finish like he did this season either. His finishing was other worldly and I can’t expect him or anyone this side of Messi to continue to do that consistently. You can’t flip a switch and turn a midfielder into a goal scorer by asking them to get into scoring positions.

    A big concern is how many years can we expect Ramsey to continue to play at 110% of max effort like this? It would be a huge shame if we didn’t take advantage of having a player like him because we didn’t spend the money to give ourselves the forwards we need. No?

  11. Lets talk about the positives to come out of this season:

    Ramsey starting to unlock his vast potential to go along with his ever present and always there confidence.

    Mert/Kos forming a perfect partnership but more importantly the basis to go along with Sczny for our defensive shield.


  12. Sagna is definitely gone.

    I believe Vermaelen too. he can’t even factor in ahead of Sagna on the final day.

    Likely, if we do not see Fabianski start in the finals (which his appearance against Norwich may allude to), he is also in the departure lounge.

    So that’s 3 positions to fill. Would allocate 10-15m for RB just because this position has been so solid for us and we should ensure we retain the certainty with an experienced signing (Seamus Coleman for me if 15m or under)

    CB we can bring someone in at 10m mark preferably with a bit of height ^’2 or more and around 23-25 with sufficient experience and good years ahead.

    GK 5m should bring in a decent back up. If less, some money can be channeled elsewhere.

    That would mean if we are around 70m for total summer outlay, we will have 30-40m left for the striker. We may need every bit of this as there will be quality available but it will depend on some of the well oiled clubs and how they dine ahead of us and maybe again RM appetite for star fucking.

    Interesting times.

  13. I agree with Bill from much earlier in the discussion, this season has been a vast improvement over the last two at least. Seeing Arsenal at the top of the PL standings for so long, regardless of how the season finished, was wonderful. A chance for a major trophy is also a vast improvement over the last few (many!) seasons. Progress, in my opinion, has definitely been made as evidenced by those two facts. When is the last time Arsenal were in the final of a major trophy and led the league for so much time? That is definitely progress in my book. But then again I already know I have a much more generous definition of progress than is normal.

  14. @C

    Organic development is an oft neglected part where many prefer the short term solution of buying from market.

    I think the gaffer has to weigh who he brings in with how the players that exist develop in relation to each other.

    That’s part of the allure of the club IMO. We are self financed and we build our own. In that, Wenger is one of the very best out there.

    Whilst the trophy drought has been painful, it should not take away from the joy of watching players and the club continue to develop. This reconstruction phase for Wenger started rightly when he realised the folly of banking on the academy products. He brought in panic buys to add experience in Metersecker, Koscielny, Arteta, Giroud, Podolski.

    The transformation is near complete and we have a right balance of experience and youth potential developing from within.

    We need a bit of magic up top now to dig us out of tricky situations during the league. Someone like Henry who could scare the opponents defense and turn the game on a dime. we have been missing this on apex since RVP left and Wenger is likely extremely aware of this.

  15. We still have to close the deal with the FA cup next week.

    It’s a consolation really (FA cup does not guarantee CL spot)

    BUT it will be some level of improvement for the players mentality and it will still be a better finish than say finishing 2nd or 3rd without any trophies.

    Morale boosting is what the squad need and if we couple this with 4 astute signings this summer, we will be able to take advantage of the strong platform currently and build upon it.

  16. @Bill

    Certainly Ramsey’s engine is something of quality, something as you say most would not possess. I get that, I also understand we should not be expecting him to be in double digits every year. I imagine that City have the same thoughts about Yaya and his contributions.

    The point I was trying to make is that we seem far to eager to make excuses for some individuals. Arsenal has been a side that have far to often made unnecessary passes around the 18 yard box, no one stepping up to either thump it or indeed make movements to get in it. That is the refreshing aspect of Ramsey for me, the lad runs. He is eager and he makes something happen because he challengers a defense to either follow him or not. By contrast the rest of the Arsenal midfield seem eager to keep the ball at their feet and pass across the pitch, neither committing a defender to come to him or challenge the same to make a play. It is static, predictable and has as we have more often than not seen invited a counter with pace whilst our full backs have been over committed. There is simply no urgency. We are a better side with Ramsey because he makes the pace and temp more urgent. Our other midfielders may not have his engine, but that does not stop them from making those darts like he does. No they are not box to box, but they don’t have to be.

    How many times have we seen crosses in to the box where we have one guy there? Now make that same statement about the likes of Liverpool or City? The thing is you can’t, they commit bodies forward to score we haven’t for the most part this season. Ramsey has 8 assists this season, 4 of those to Giroud. Giroud has 8 assists and yeah, 4 of those to Ramsey. We need better options in the front areas as you say, but lets not pretend these guys in the central midfield cannot score, they simply have to want to do more than stand still and shuffle the ball across the field.

  17. The weird thing with DIaby is, hes such a good player. When he is on and is having a decent game, he changes everything. Would be good for us to have him injury free for 1 year. Buying a Diaby class player is very very expensive, plus there are not many of them out there.
    It would not surprise me at all if he was taken to Brazil. That would probably be good for us too. He needs matches, we need him to refind his form.

    Just think about it. Diaby was as talented as Shaw and Barkey is now. They are both just one bad tacke away from being ruined….

  18. I think the other thing to note with regard development is that we should not be fixated on what has happened.

    Last season, Walcott stepped up and the prevailing wisdom was that we would be outside top 4 because we had no one like him if he got a knock.

    No one predicted the continued development of Ramsey to such heights.

    So we should not be surprise when/if Jack comes good this coming season (being he is one year behind Ramsey in age). 23 is generally the time when players start to bear fruit through sufficient experience.

    There may be another.

    That’s part of the fun of it. In that Arsenal have a bevy of young players continuously being fed into the first team now chaperoned by very good experienced players. We can expect to see further developments in other areas of the team just as much as we have seen improvements in Szsc, Fabianski, GIbbs, Walcott, Ramsey in very recent seasons. who’s next?

  19. If Sanga goes to a domestic rival to win trophies I so hope we crush his dreams next season. Teaches him, rvp and the rest that the grass is not always greener.

  20. Diaby is more tyalented than Shae or Barkley.

    The problem for him has been fragility. He is a strong player but he is injury proned….which is a bit of an oxymoron but true.

    The sort of skill he affords is hard to find in current market. Diaby’s footwork is emmaculate and his power going forward frightens teams. He has also added in his defensive side over the last few seasons sadly interrupted by constant injuries.

    If he can stay fit for the next season even in bits, he will be a fantastic asset to have in midfield. You won’t find many like him in the market.

  21. We can’t have 2/3 of our central midfield consistently making forward runs. Clearly Ramsey has been by far the best finisher of our midfielders and if there is anyone that we want getting forward its him. That means the rest of the central midfield has to hold their positions so they are not going to be able to get into scoring positions very often when Ramsey is playing.

  22. but peeps reckon we should start Chsney over Fabianski because Fab is leaving and we need the players that stay to gain the experience of winning. I again maintain that must mean we start Jenko over Sanga too. After all he is off for one last pay check in the summer.

  23. @Santori

    Sounds like something that Arsene would say……

    I get that but obviously it hasn’t worked out well, sometimes an injection of talent is simply what is needed and that is where we are at this point.

  24. @santori ofc he will be fit, his contract runs out next summer. He will have a blinder of a season next year. A bit like RvP… player of the year. the new Yaya Toure, the best midfielder in the PL.And then his contract is up and his greedy agent floggs him to PSG. since they are offering 240k a week and we only table 100k a week
    Now that would be typical arsenal luck anyway 🙂

  25. I won’t begrudge a player like Sagna for leaving after 8 seasons with us.

    If you look at Nasri, hate to say it but it has paid off for him in titles (as for RVP albeit short lived). It is somewhat an indictment of our failure to achieve success and a wake up call (timely) to Wenger that we are in danger of losing our stature if current situation persist.

    Then look at Clichy. This is a player that struggled with us and he looks solid for City.

    It alludes to the fact that as good a manager Wenger is at spotting talent and developing them, there are tactical flaws in our game that amplify on certain players and do not get the best out of them.

    not everything is an issue of buying players or not buying players. Some times, it is more organic driven.

    still remember the time Wenger I believe subbed Ox when he was our most effective player and RVP shot a look that really to me encapsulated the end of the faith he had in Wenger. Some of the substitutions or line ups this season 9or lack of adjustments during a game) have been astonishing as this moment.

    One way for Wenger to cover up the flaws may be to buy added quality but I don’t think it will mask the entire issue.

    I suspect he realizes he is amiss tactically as well and am sure he will review his own flaws. he does not strike me as a person allergic to change. The question is how quickly he can realize it and adopt those changes. The turn around time is much shorter these days considering the level of competition domestically

  26. “We can’t have 2/3 of our central midfield consistently making forward runs. Clearly Ramsey has been by far the best finisher of our midfielders and if there is anyone that we want getting forward its him. That means the rest of the central midfield has to hold their positions so they are not going to be able to get into scoring positions very often when Ramsey is playing.”

    And who has done it when he wasn’t there Bill? Seriously, I get you want to fight every point but to concede we have Ramsey doing it and then pretend we don’t need it when he is not there just makes me shake my head. No one, and I mean no one did that role of getting in to the box when Ramsey was out. If the sum total of your expectations of the central midfielders is to shuffle the ball around and across the field with zero movement and a similar level of runs then you must be delighted right now.

  27. Diaby, we better hope he has a blinder of a season. That way we can either retain him or sell him on for some money. Otherwise, he won’t see any market value considering injury history and contract run down.

  28. @C, we always need to inject talent but we also need to keep an eye on development from within.

    We can keep adding there is a finite limit to a 23 man squad.

    Bear in mind two of the departures this season is because neither Fabianski nor Vermaelen can be guaranteed sufficient time in games.

    I think many confuse our shortfall with a need to revamp (the sort of woolly headed punditry thinking that is the scholes school)

    We are at a point where we don’t need to add numbers. Just one (or two) quality, like Ozil and Flamini last summer (no disrespect to VIviano…strange move that)

    If we take care of GK, CB and RB, then the obvious addition is up top and maximum resource should be spent (if necessary) to secure the very best quality.

  29. With everyone fit we will be able to field a sick midfield though! It must be the best in the PL.

  30. Miami

    I don’t see it as making excuses for the other midfielders as much as acknowledging that they have not been and most likely won’t become high volume goal scorers. Ozil has been playing for a long time and has never been much of a scorer, same with Rosicky. Cazorla’s 2012 year was an aberration based on his career numbers. Perhaps Wilshere could improve but to date he has not and probably won’t as long as we have Ramsey. Not many playmaking central midfielders can do what Ramsey has done this season and reinvent himself as a scorer.

  31. Ramsey has been crucial to us this season.

    He adds an extra man in both attack near Giroud (necessary given the big man’s penchant for being a yard off pace) and the extra man next to Arteta covering.

    Jack comes closest but even he has not been able to match the Welsh man’s energy levels. Also I feel Jack is different. in that he is a better dribbler/close control and carries the ball forward to feet (in a way more similar to Diaby) where Ramsey’s positioning is better and has a better eye with regards distribution.

    Different types of asset. Diaby, is another capability we have back and Ox can also add a different dimension in time.

  32. Wilshere is the most likely to inject movement in to his game. I’m not sure what you mean by high volume, I personally think that the combined 13 goals from 108 league appearances for the likes of Ozil, Cazorla, Jack and TR7 is disappointing. Now, that is simply my view point and obviously you disagree.

  33. The other thing is ‘never been much of a scorer’ does not mean they may not develop that trait.

    What is useful though is whilst performing close to similar functions for cover, they each have their own trait which gives us options to the way we break down teams.

    We have been very effective this season against tightly packed teams (where the majority of points are to be won) less so against the more open teams that also possess quality. That’s the are where we need to work our assets at optimum to make the difference next season. It helps to have a variety of tools available.

    Where the issue in midfield is keeping everyone available, the issue up top has been a genuine lack of option. That’s where we need to add critically to add variation to the way we play.

    But it is also indicative of how more effective we can be when the right asset is deployed in midfield even if the option is limited up top. In effect, Ramsey is a catalyst that enhances those around him by presence alone. Add his talent on and we are a different unit.

  34. Jack and Diaby provide movement on the ball. Their close control afford them an ability to skip past a player or two.

    Ramsey’s game is slightly different. He arrives in the position where you least expect and he simply covers a vast amount of territory. He is like having two players.

  35. @Santori

    Would have been interesting to have seen how City would have coped without Yaya for a sustained period. He drives that team, not unlike Ramsey does with lifting our tempo.

  36. Miami.

    Flooding the box is not the type of player that we have with Ozil, Rosicky, Wilshere, Arteta, Flamini etc etc etc. Even when they do get forward the likely hood that they will score is not that high because they are not finishers. You can’t really believe that all of them are just plain lazy and can’t be bothered to move forward, can you? Especially Rosicky and Flamini.

    We have argued about this all season but the reason we dont really use our wide forwards to give us width is so they are free to drift in field so we don’t isolate Giroud. All season you have been complaining about the wide forwards drifting centrally and not giving width and now you are complaining that there is no one making runs centrally. The idea behind our 433 is to get width from the full backs so the wide forwards are free to drift centrally. The central midfielders keep their positions to avoid opening opening big gaps in the center of the pitch. Ramsey is able to get forward so often because unlike most humans he can also get back when needed.

    Who would you rather have in a advanced central goal scoring position. A central infield like Wilshere or Rosicky who is not a great finisher or a wide forward like Walcott or Podolski who is a scorer? You don’t want to flood the box with midfielders who are not scorers. You want your system to have your best finishers in good positions where they can score. Doesn’t that make sense.

  37. so Bendtner has been dropped from the Danish national team because of lack of fitness and match time.

    He was warned by the Danish manager but the lad didn’t want to take less money.

  38. Good middish evening all.

    I disagree with you jj.

    Surely being top for long spells and not discussing the Emirates cup untill after the end of the season should be noted as reasons to assume we have taken some steps forward….albeit whilst being beaten over the head by chavs, mancs and scallywags..

  39. Congratulations to Campbell on making the Costa Rican World Cup squad, even though it was a given he was going.

  40. So much for Arsene’s world cup transfer market.

    I don’t know where that man shops for players.

    IMHO Just another tactically placed excuse.

    I’ll enjoy the FA Cup amd World cup, but after that will probably be another shitty transfer market saga where we will scrape the barrel and left overs.

  41. Hello,
    Interesting comments all round.. I totally agree with those who remember to give credit where it is due. I would not even swap this season with the 2 others when we finished 3rd – post 2008. Massive progress and what I liked the most with this squad is that it has a healthy degree of sophistication as we can play:
    – possession football
    – counter attacking soccer
    – sucker punch bus parking football (whoo said that Arsene was not pragamatic eh)
    – Score sitback and kill the teams off football

    This season when I wondered which Arsenal team would turn up, there was no fear of the one that used to walk the pitch and expect to win. It was more of how are we going to play to get a result.. and believe me this is title winning squad. I agree that there is no argument it was highly risky to have not bought a striker in January. But I also think having both Theo and Aaron would have helped us last the distance, those who argue their presence at Eastlands show the contrary are missing the point. That game was the ultimate shambolic defense from both teams, and although it was disappointing that we lost our shape and discipline there was that sense that we could always respond – barring a dubious pen it was a game that could have ended easily 6-6 or 6-5. People need to realise that over the course of this second part of the season the combined absence of Theo, Ramsey, Ozil may have cost us at least 15 league goals and maybe 10 to 15 assist (And I am being conservative).

    But I think the very first signing we may need to get right this summer beyond Arsene renewing is the one of a top top physio!

    Then onto a striker, a keeper and a right back – assuming Verm stays.

    I was hoping Arsene would give Wojiech a start yesterday for his golden glove award and sub him up to give Fab a warmup for next week.

    But I hope that Fab having started was a clear indication that he will play the final next week – because he would be there on merit – that is not a knock on Woj by the way.

    As for giving the nod to Jenks over Bac, I totally disagree. Yes it is Hull, but is is a cup final and Jenks would have opportunites to be nurtured, we all know that many have lost patience with Arsene so I don’t even see why this should be an option. The best team start, can’t afford ”on the job training” spell next week. There is something at stake that is hugely more important than giving Jenks or Woj that experience (Woj had his chance by the way and we all knew what happened in those dying minutes of a split second decision..)


  42. @Bill


    I would love to know this 4-3-3 you keep alluding… why not just call is a 4-1-5 or perhaps a 2-2-1-4-1… all of which seem to be the same tactical formation as you magical 4-3-3

  43. Wojo and Jenks can still win things with Arsenal.. Bac and Fab have been long time servants of the club, lets send them off with something to show for it..

  44. Morning all!
    Congrats to Pulis & Rodgers on their respective awards.
    Personally I thought it was a reasonable selection apart from being light on attack, but then Hodgson has oft been thought as a defensive manager. Carroll stand by, not my choice but I guess he would add another dimension.
    Which players do you think he got wrong?

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