WBA Preview, Boro’s Strong Defence Is Alarming

West Bromwich Albion. The Baggies; The Throstles; The Hawthorns. An appropriate ground; the hawthorn is prickly and that suits my mood this morning.

There’s no simpler way to describe this fixture: must-win. City and Liverpool meet tomorrow so there’s the opportunity to close the gap on the bin-dippers, who have played two games more. But the pressure works both ways. We kick-off at 12.30, and don’t have the best of records when it comes to lunchtime matches.

Most of our performances are pretty forgettable at the moment, if we’re honest. Or maybe I’m just trying to forget them. Contrary to the revisionism of the manager and players, there was no boost last weekend. Gianluigi Buffon summed it up. He didn’t want to face Leicester in the Champions League because it was a ‘no-win’ match. Lincoln was the same; we were expected to win handsomely – and 5 – 0 ticks that box – but anything more or less was a hollow victory.

This afternoon is not the same; it’s a tougher test, one which Albion will relish, particularly after last season’s 2 – 1 win. Not only that, in eighth place, they are already safe from relegation. Not uncharted territory by any means, but enough to allow them to play football rather than scrap for points.

That would mean a volte face from Pulis, and this is a manager who, like Mourinho, would like nothing more than to add to Wenger and Arsenal’s woes. You can the man out of the rugby club but…

Absolute Reality

I expect both Tottenham and United to win their Sunday matches, so we can’t afford to drop points. We need to win for a myriad of reasons, not least because we’ve spectacularly cocked up our last fixtures against meaningful opposition. As much as I think Arsène’s shot his bolt, Arsenal losing is still a miserable experience.

The Baggies are a curious club in football terms. One where the vibrancy of their football in the late 70s, with Cunningham, Regis and Barnes but they are a strange breed; I can’t get their monotone, Brummie-tinged, “We hate Villa” chant out of my head and it is utterly grating. Rather like Pulis in a post-match interview.

What line-up will Arsène field? Who knows; the usual one I expect. Some believe Giroud will start but I’d rather Welbeck on the left and Alexis in the middle. I pray Ox is fit but am resigned to Xhaka and Ramsey. Both individually good players in my view, but there is no whiff of a partnership there. A bit like Cannon & Ball, I suppose.

I’m thinking it will be:

Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Xhaka, Ramsey; Walcott, Özil, Welbeck;Sanchez

They do  what they do; pass and move but whether it’s enough, remains to be seen.

The Stand

Boro Primorac, manager of the Valenciennes side at the centre of the scandal which engulfed Marseilles way back. When Primorac was ostracised in France, Wenger in a commendable act of loyalty, didn’t forget the man who helped expose the scandal.

Speaking to a Croatian paper, Boro came up with lines which will haunt his friend until the end of his days. The defence of Arsène? I have no issue with that, and I don’t care that Primorac thinks fans and ex-players are ungrateful. I get the sentiment; it’s wrong in 90% of the cases but nonetheless, who can forgive him for fighting back when he sees a friend being battered from all sides.

But I do have an issue with a phrase of Primorac’s; it sums up everything which is wrong with Arsenal Football Club and why Arsène Wenger must not be allowed to renew his contract: The attitude of the coaching staff is driven by the Frenchman and Kroenke, with Boro truly underlining the malaise:

“Arsenal’s strength in the past 20 years has been Wenger. It is not all about results, but also the business part of the club that matters”

“it’s not all about results”. My dear, Boro, it most certainly is. And honestly, “the business part of the club” is secondary to the results. If you don’t get results, the business eventually suffers. There’s a lag, no doubt about it and you could go on for several years, seeing a gradual erosion but the damage will be done.

As charm offensives go, it needs a bit of work but no doubt reflects how the hierarchy at the club think. The desire to win is overwhelmed by the bottom line, by the business, forgetting that the business of Arsenal is football. Under Wenger, Gazidis and Kroenke, Arsenal will never win – or come close to winning – the Premier League title again. None of them care enough about football.

The Deceiver

This afternoon’s match bounces the transfer gossip off the back pages. We’re currently in a bidding war with Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid over the Monaco stars, Mbappe, Mendy and Bakayoko. We’re after their team-mate Bakatheq.

It sums Arsenal up in my mind; the thrust of mediocrity is hidden behind a veil of indifference

In idle moments such as these, I wonder sometimes what musician or film star football clubs are. I always get stuck on Arsenal, changing my mind from minute to minute but I never have that problem when it comes to politicians: we’re George Osborne.

Nobody likes us and we give little thought to tightening the belt when it isn’t necessary, all the while claiming that austerity will lead us into a bright new future. Except that bright new future never comes except in the business sense; then we make money, no matter what.

Liverpool are David Cameron. No matter what crap flies around, none of it sticks to them while Chelsea are Tony Blair. You know they’re a ‘wrong ‘un’, you see them do it but nobody calls them out until it’s too late. City are Nick Clegg. Occasionally threatening to win things, and when they do, disappearing back into obscurity as quickly as they arrived.

Leicester are Nigel Farage. Sticking up for Britain all over the continent but utterly irrelevant at home while Konyaspor are Tim Fallon. You hear about them for a couple of days, before finally asking, “Who?”.

But what of United and Tottenham, I hear you ask? United are flash, gauche, the latest toy which costs a lot to maintain but ultimately proves to have no substance. In other words, Nicola Sturgeon while Tottenham are Jeremy Corbyn. Full of fine ideals and great theories but when it’s time to deliver, nothing’s there.

Dad’s Jukebox

Finally today, Times of our Lives has reached 1996. The playlist is here.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

256 thoughts on “WBA Preview, Boro’s Strong Defence Is Alarming

  1. A “virtual” pint?

    I applaud your inventiveness in new ways to dodge your round 😉

    consolsbob:
    Excellent.

    YW and I will obviously buy you a virtual pint from behind our wives’ skirts.

  2. JonJon,

    Nice to see you back here. Firstly, because it’s good to have you around

    Secondly, because it probably means you think change is in the air, or you just wouldn’t bother

  3. Am loving these results. at least we have a chance to chase Wenger out of the club with such pathetic results. its obvious the players nolonger want to play for him.
    Wenger do the right thing and leave. Everyone is tired of you old man.

  4. I didn’t see Arsene’s interview – my doctor (who is a genius) has told me I can’t watch any more Arsenal games. But do people seriously think he’s leaving? If he does, you can cut off my legs and call me Shorty.

  5. What a load of crap. Started off fairly OK for 10 minutes but was a case of the same old same old, not putting in the required effort, refusing to do what the boss says. Petulance, fatigue, looking all lost at sea… Anyway enough about my shopping trip with the family, how did Arsenal do?

  6. Be careful what we wish for.
    A new manager, buying and selling in the Summer. New tactics, coaching and dressing room.
    I keep thinking of Moyes at Old Trafford……. 😉

  7. nicky,

    Funny, I was thinking Conte – seems to have worked out quite well 😉

    Unfortunately Arsene buying and selling over the last few summers hasn’t worked out quite so well….

  8. This season has been similar to almost every season in the Emirates era. We have a 2-3 month run of good form in Sept Oct but it was inevitable that we would follow it with a 2-3 month run of bad form. The bad really started with the games away at City and Everton in Dec. We had a dead cat bounce and won several games during the holiday period. However, this run of games in calendar 2017 has probably been the worst of this century;

  9. Bill,

    Its funny because the good run came against teams in terrible form, yet now we can’t even beat those clubs. The real shame is that unlike precious seasons, both Everton and United are in form and winning matches. I know you have beeb stead fast in us making the top 4 but I’m not sure this season.

  10. Watch and listening to Keown is really heartbreaking because he obviously doesn’t want Arsene’s reign to end like this nor see the club in the current toxic situation it is but he clearly sees what everybody else sees: Arsene is past it and the club need to move on or risk falling behind the current top 4 and United and Everton.

  11. Anyone still thinking we’re good for a top four is seriously delusional i’m sorry to say.

    I’m totally fed up with talk of us being an attacking team. We are a possession team who does NOT know how to attack. We’ve been the same for years now. Banned from taking shots from outside the box, not playing with any width and totally inept at whipping balls across the box. Even when we do break on the counter we find the pass back into 6 or 8 and let their defence re-organise.
    All these clowns do at Cloney is tap the ball around 6 v 6 and try not to lose possession. Someone here nailed the zoning marking debacle. It’s a no blame game.

    Nicky,

    I know you’ve supported the club for a very long time but “Be careful what you wish for” Was that a joke?

  12. Cheers YW. 😂😂 . No shit, that wont happen. Otherwise the ‘be careful what you wish for’ brigrade will be out in full force.

    Joke aside. As a Man Utd fans, i don’t really have the right to have any laugh of any sort at Arsenal right now, we havent show any substances ourselves yet. But with what is going on with your club at the moment, especially the fighting among the fans, it is so sad to see even from a rival fans to be frank. To recover & mend, Wenger really have to go, there is no other viable option. (But on footballing term, we sincerely hope he stays still 😉).

    YW:
    MUFC Andy

    It’s a scary propsect for the rest of the PL. We might get someone who can organise a defence and who recognises the value of midfield partnerships. Of course the joke really is on us with Arsene springing the announcement of the next manager on everyone: “Here he is, the next manager of Arsenal: BORO PRIMORAC!”

  13. Nicky – “Be careful what you wish for …” is not the approach I take to supporting a football team. Glory or defeat I can handle. Mediocrity? I can find that in the rest of my life.

  14. If Wenger goes now he will have never finished outside the top 4. He can say I don’t have what it takes to turn things around.

    Bould can take over and if he can fix things in 11 games then let him stay in position.

    If not then time for Koeman and Lukaku.

  15. Its interesting how the first time there are several seriously competitive teams in the premier league during Arsene’s reign, Arsenal drops off the pace. Arsene should have grabbed the silverware when it was easier to win, because it’s going to get a lot harder now.

  16. Result and Stats speak louder than words Mr. Wenger. I really don’t care about your future and if you made a decision or not. The club needs to make a decision and that decision should be a new direction for the club.

    We lost 12 points out of 15.
    We are 19 points away from the leaders.
    We are embarrassingly out of the Champions League.
    Our chances in the FA Cup look slim.
    We play disgusting football now.
    Our players don’t seem to care any longer.

    All the signs are there, the Manger can talk but the results proves he’s just talking. The players can talk or show disappointment, but the results are there to prove, they’re just talking.

    Don’t listen to what you hear on TV, important things are usually decided behind closed doors.

    All I know now is that change is important, it is inevitable and unavoidable. Do it now, announce it now, and let us get on with the game.

    Let the fans look forward to a new chapter in Arsenal history and let’s make it a great one.

    You may have and use a car that you love for 15 or 20 years….But at some point you need a new one, because the risks of driving the old one become too dangerous.

    It’s that time Arsenal, it’s that time Wenger. Don’t make it harder than it already is.

  17. I reckon you could count the number of times I’ve visited the fun bus on one hand. Dropped by this morning to have a peek. Yes, essentially it’s the same, bleating about refs cheating us and how we play wonderful football so we deserve to win. But. There seemed to be a shift in some. They can see it. There still seems to be a reluctance to take the logical step, but the penny is dropping

    It’s like seeing a mate every six months and they’ve dropped weight. Cos you don’t see them everyday it’s quite shocking when you do. The contrast to last time

  18. According to the Express/Metro Wenger has agreed a compromise to stay on for one more year.

    Not the most credible sources thank God because that would be an utter disaster. The players aren’t playing for him now, if they know he’s off why would they play for him next season? Who would sign for Wenger knowing he’s off in a few months and not knowing who would follow him?

    If it’s true I doubt he’d last the season. We could see a Leicester or Chelsea size meltdown (just without the title previously to soften the blow),

    The owner really couldn’t be that stupid could he?

  19. There are still some mammoth blinkers being worn over there though. Some very amusing posts, if you can stomach it

  20. andy1886,

    They’re all going to act like they’re itk. They’re guessing. I’m pretty sure Wenger decided yesterday and hadn’t told anyone. I’d like to think, being the man he is, he’d tell the board and give them a couple of weeks to get ahead before going public. Either way. I can’t see it being leaked far enough for the press to have anything concrete yet

    If he is off, the interlull would give the club a perfect ten days to get its Arsenal in gear!!

  21. andy1886,

    I’m still expecting him to sign the deal. His after match presser had the usual deflections. He even claimed that we were in control in the second half. At no point was there any suggestion of taking responsibility. If he can’t accept that he is holding the club back, why should he leave?

  22. Damon,

    Yup, I wouldn’t trust any journalist who claims to know what’s going on.

    Not that I trust our dear board or owner to get their Arsenal in gear either. They will be in a panic if he does call it quits (I still believe he’ll stay btw). Do they have a plan? Not based on past comments (“If Arsene has a plan, we back him. If he doesn’t have a plan we keep quiet”).

  23. andy1886,

    In his world he may even think that it’s the uncertainty of him not signing a new deal that is disrupting the team. By signing up he can settle things down. It would be completely delusional, but I thinking he’s been heading that way for a while.

  24. Wavey,

    I agree. What kind of a manager describes losing four from the last five league games as “disappointing”? It’s a rather more than that! He didn’t actually seem that bothered. He’s happy to take the plaudits (he did after all “build this club”) but when things go pear shaped it’s all about collective failure, never down to him.

  25. Wavey,

    Well he certainly has a very odd way of looking at things that’s true. I’m not sure what’s happening with Ozil but his clarifying that his future does not depend on Wenger staying probably didn’t go down well. Surely the players must realise that he’s a lame duck by now, they certainly weren’t fighting for him yesterday and I can’t see why they are suddenly going to pull their fingers out and turn things around.

    As I said earlier, if he signs on again I can only see things going from bad to worse. Perhaps then the owner might contemplate the unthinkable to protect his investment. And it’ll all be of Wenger’s own making.

  26. Unless there is a serious reaction from home fans against him, I think he’s signing again. It needs a proper ‘road to Damascus’ moment. I think he still believes that the protests from and fighting amongst away fans is just noise from a small group. The protests outside the Emirates have backed that up. Too many within the ground are Wenger tourists, or scared of change to make their voices heard. Some are still convinced that it is all down to the players letting him down.

    There are some who are coming to realise that it is time for a new manager, but they are just going to rent their season tickets out until he’s gone. There appears to be no appetite for serious protest within the ground and without it I don’t think Wenger will get the message.

  27. I know some think Arsenal FanTv is a bit of a joke and it’s always the same guys commenting, but it’s worth viewing Ty’s clip yesterday. He is an out and out Wenger man and will always back him, but he seemed almost distraught yesterday. He was still backing Wenger and the club (in his mind they are the same), but he looked broken. As if he were a dying man trying desperately to drag himself to someone who can help. He will never change his support, but seems resigned to change coming. I wish Wenger was.

  28. We have to be careful what we wish for……!

    Yep, we could end up with a manager who would split the fan base and cause pathetic in fight, we could become a European laughing stock and get our arses kicked every season by someone, we could end up with a weak fragile mentality that means we could only win easy games….. Oh.

  29. Arsene Wenger will sign a contract extension that will keep him at Arsenal for one more year, according to the Sunday Express.

    Read more: http://www.allarsenal.com/2017/03/arsenalnews/wenger-sign-new-one-year-arsenal-deal/#ixzz4bl5nUzaV

    This does have a ring of truth about it, I must say. Arsene thinks he can throw a bone to supporters by only continuing as manager in one year instalments (which, of course will keep getting extended for the next ten years). The man has been in charge for so long he is totally delusional.

  30. andy – The Standard Express article has the ring of truth. If Arsene is going to extend, he will try to throw the fans a bone by only extending for only 1 year, which will keep getting extended for ten years, of course.
    He ain’t quitting.

  31. Freddo,

    I can see the logic in it. Many fans who accept he has to go but who retain a lot of affection for him will latch on to that like a drowning man grabbing a life belt. But as you say, a moderately successful season will become a reason for a new longer contract. I totally agree, I will only believe that he’s going when he actually steps out the door for the last time (and even then I wouldn’t put it past the board to ask him back if the new appointee struggles). And as I said earlier are the players going to put in the effort for a lame duck? Are potential signings going to want to come to the club? It would be a disaster.

    Better that he goes as soon as possible, and that the protests continue until he does.

  32. If he’s made his decision why would he not announce it? He is one narcissistic prick. He really has shown himself to be a one trick pony who is continually tactically shown up.

    Forgive my ignorance but what is the fun bus?

  33. ‘One day, if we don’t do it [get in the top four] people will enjoy it again when we get back there.’

    No Arsene, i for one will never celebrate getting into the top four. Or making up the numbers in the CL so you and your weirdo boss can enjoy a totally undeserved bonus.

    You are an empty vessel, have some bloody ambition man.

    The arrogance of holding the club and most importantly the fans to ransom like this is staggering. The way we are playing he ought to be begging forgiveness never mind wittering on about how he’s made his decision…..well Arsene what we can all be sure of is it is highly likely to be an appalling decision based on a totally distorted view of reality.

    The one year extension story sounds scarily credible…..one year to get us ‘back in the top four’ and extend as soon as we have a half decent run. Total highwayman the people running Arsenal.
    Home fans ought to make sure their voices are heard, please Guardiola destroy us. I would love to see Arsenal football club try and extend his contract if we keep playing like this. Not that total contempt for the fans isnt part of their business model. I’m looking at you candle wax man.

    Careful what you wish for everybody Arsene may yet extend his contract. And that really would be terminal.

  34. No surprises. ‘77% possession and not enough chances’ says it all, just 5 years late. We are way behind the curve and dropping places like a stone. Worst run in 20 years, no change in tactics, laughably beatable by the top 10 teams and a Neymar, Suarez and Messi short of a CL winning squad. Amounting to about 400 million sterling.
    Now, do you want the had news?

  35. What the club obviously don’t realise is that Arsene is digging a hole that it will take them half a billion pounds to dig themselves out of.

  36. Wailsey

    The fun bus, started with a parting of the ways of the more Wengerite posters here.
    They have their own blog…can’t bring myself to name it. You can’t post anything bad about you know who..but they seem happy in their little world, content in the full knowledge that referees have an agenda against us.

  37. michael,

    Ah! Gotcha. I always automatically think of Mad Tony’s gang. My mistake then (take note Arsene, no shame in admitting to an error!).

    All equally mad as a box of frogs though.

  38. I mean they are still Adam ant that it’s the refs fault, that the refs are not allowing us to play. It beggars belief.

  39. Suggestion by the Online Gooner editor Kevin Whitcher that the pro-Wenger banner flown over during the game yesterday was paid for by Jardine Matheson Holdings. Who the feck are they? you may ask. The answer is that they are a tax-haven (Bermuda) based British company owned by…..the Keswicks. So essentially (if correct) our Chairman paid for a pro-Wenger banner in opposition to the protest made by the fans.

    It sounds too crazy to be true but if the link can be proven then Sir Chips needs to go too. He should have gone before after other contemptuous comments about his customers (the fans) but better late than never. Either way it’s another farcical addition to add to the list that have made the club a laughing stock.

  40. Andy
    If that is true, and it wouldn’t surprise me, the board must be well aware of the dissent among their “customer” base, to go that far, when even hard line Wenger supporters are having doubts, despite what they post….Maybe digging in to ride out the “storm”.

    Shame that what he has built up, he is now knocking down brick by brick, by his continual presence.

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