North London Defeat Leaves Nowhere To Hide

Tottenham 2 – 0 Arsenal

I mean, really? Was that the best you could come up with? The lie which underpins the latter years of Arsène Wenger’s reign was exposed in the final North London Derby at White Hart Lane. Tottenham exposed every flaw we had when playing a back four with the back three.

Hands up, I’ve wanted us to move to a back three for some time but once again, Arsène chose the square peg in a round hole route. Not that Rob Holding would necessarily have made a difference but if he was experienced enough for an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, he was experienced enough for a North London Derby.

Out-played, out-fought, and out-thought; from kick-off, Tottenham were determined and energetic while we were on the back foot, grateful to Cech for a string of saves which kept us in the match. Dele Alli missed a sitter; another match where you could scarcely believe we’d got to the interval level.

And then his luck ran out. Or Tottenham got the just reward for their hard work. Alli reacted quickly to a rebound and Ox couldn’t clear it; his left foot is just for standing on. It’s easy to point the finger at him alone but there were six Arsenal players in the penalty area against two forwards. And they still scored.

As for the second, Kane’s dive conned by the referee. There’s no other way to call it. Like Rashford, he was neither clever nor intelligent, and he certainly didn’t earn a penalty. A dive’s a dive; let’s not beat about the bush here.

Kingdom of the Blind

To claim that it changed the course of the game to close your eyes to the reality. We were already beaten; we don’t have resilience, and conceding goals in quick succession is something of a forte of modern Arsenal.

No matter the squad, the same mental frailties are frequently exposed. Two-down in a big match and we don’t have the players to respond. No-one cajoles or grabs them by the scruff of the neck to bully a performance out of them.

I’m genuinely lost for words about the performance. It’s David Rocastle’s birthday tomorrow and he was, according to everyone who knew him, one of the nicest blokes you could wish to meet. You don’t have to be weak on the pitch to be nice off it. Rocky was as determined as Patrick Vieira, strong and mentally ready for battle. We don’t have anyone with those qualities at the moment.

Alexis lost possession 20 times, the same as Gibbs and the Ox. Giroud didn’t have possession 20 times. Özil was marginalised, as much by our performance as the Tottenham midfield.

Desperation gave us the back three, without having the personnel to make it work further up the pitch. Giroud is pointless in this formation; he simply cannot hold the ball up well enough and bereft of confidence, his finishing is woeful.

He and Özil are the easy targets but there’s more to it than that. We need a ‘Kante’ in the centre. Ramsey and Xhaka are not that player. If you’re a cockney, you may say Coquelin’s introduction gave him just that.

The Lion and the Unicorn

The players must take their share of the responsibility for the performance. But it isn’t just down to them. Arsène continually talks about the handbrake being on. He is the one charged with finding the release for it. If he can’t do that, he is failing in a fairly core part of his job.

On a day when results had gone their way, Arsenal were woeful.

We needed players with the hearts of lions but found ours running around deep in the forest with those mythical beasts of determination and desire waiting to devour them. There’s no two ways about it, Tottenham played with as much technique as our XI but meshed them into the traditional football concept of a will to win.

Arsène can’t do that anymore. He hasn’t been about to do it for half-a-dozen years but every game exposes his failings more cruelly than the last. Yet the board still think he is the man for the job. Too scared to act, too conservative to win; geared for footballing failure through a lack of knowledge. Wenger, the one-eyed man, rules their kingdom of the blind.

There’s something very rotten in the state of Arsenal Football Club. There used to be a football club over there. Now it’s just a monolith.

#ad

Right, if you need cheering up, there’s a stonking playlist at Dad’s Jukebox. The originals of songs covered by The Jam is here. The Clash received similar treatment here.

’til Tomorrow.

59 thoughts on “North London Defeat Leaves Nowhere To Hide

  1. Many thanks for the report Yogi. Managed not to watch the game. MoTD won’t be watched either.

  2. Read a few ‘reviews’ Goonerholic, Arseblog and even Le Grove for a leetle light relief. None to be had anywhere.

    Almost felt that AW’d stumbled across a formation and a line up that could with a bit of time and effort , work for the team……

    And then yesterday – why no Holding, why move the re-energised Monreal, why oh why Giroud, when can Elneny get a game – surely a better option than Le Coq in the middle & to start with Ramsay and Xaka & the consequent lack of cover for the defence – almost defies belief.

    So we have a group of disparate players who don’t seem to understand what they are meant to be trying to do, unable to cobble together the basics on the pitch or to raise themselves to a level where they can compete.

    Having said that – it could be worse – was sledged by Hartlepool fans in a service station on Saturday.

  3. Afternoon all. Has he gone yet?

    That question could be about the owner, the CEO or the manager, or preferably all three. It’s not as if we have a weak link, we have nothing but weak links. It’s difficult to find anything positive to say about the club as a whole.

    This club is desperately short of genuine football people in the corridors of power. There is literally no-one who can speak with authority to the owner about the direction the club takes now other than the one man who is taking it in completely the wrong direction. Who could make a difference? For a start I think that it’s a mistake to appoint anyone too closely linked with Arsene, so someone from the pre-Wenger era. Niall Quinn did a good job with Sunderland and might be an option if his business interests weren’t an issue. Keown may not be so eloquent as a broadcaster but he seems to have a good head on him, likewise Lee Dixon perhaps. That said the Kroenke’s will probably plump for a ‘fan favourite’ as a PR exercise who will be nothing more than a yes-man.

  4. It’s bank holiday Monday! Forget about it and enjoy the day off.

    He’ll (AW) bring in even more pointless dross like Xhaka next season and we will be challenging Everton, Stoke and West Brom for 7th place.

    7th is the new 4th.

    No he won’t try to win that either. (re: Europa League)

  5. Dazed and Confused tactically. Why switch Montreal to the centre and drop Holding. Makes no sense.

    Gibbs looks lost. He attacked more when we switched to a back 4. In the 5 he sat back. Monreal was trying to get him to push up to no effect.

    Giroud getting the nod over Welbeck; Ozil going missing again; Ramsey losing the ball; Gabriel making a poor challenge????

    Over & Over & Over (again b’Jesus said Paddy)

  6. YW,

    Probably. I’m surprised that Grimandi isn’t in the frame. As far as we know anyway…

  7. I didn’t post for the last few days as I believed the outcome a foregone conclusion.

    Even Thierry Henry seems to have (finally) realized all things Arsenal have dead-ended – but only a moron could fail to recognize the quantum shift in quality between Arsenal and Spurs.

    That Pochettino ended up at Spurs, on our doorstep is a dose of reality no one can escape.

    That’s actually a good thing- there’s no hiding from it.

  8. Thanks Yogi, a reasoned critique of a not so surprising defeat.

    Just been out for an hour’s walk around the village, while doing so I got to thinking who was the most ineffectual of our players and I came to the conclusion that as the only significant thing he did all match was to get booked, it has to be Giroud.

  9. I find it hilarious that Arsenal are named in the same breath as City, United and Chelsea when the press highlight potential transfer targets. None of the stories are even close to credible for a number of reasons:

    Arsenal will not go head to head with the others for targets
    Arsenal will not pay up for top players, instead being willing to pay over the odds for youth or ‘adaptable’ players
    Arsenal cannot offer CL football next season
    No player would want to come to Arsenal when they are a team going backwards
    There is no suggestion that Arsenal will change what they do next season so any new players coming in will have to compete for game time alongside Wenger’s favourites
    Arsenal will not pay top wages to top players, instead being happy to pay over the odds middle tier wages to mediocre players.

    If we are lucky next season we will bring in some middling quality players who will be ok, but with no decent coaching they will simply tread water. We may buy one star who will be expected to carry the team on his own and who will receive very little credit from Wenger.

    This seems to be the reality for Arsenal whilst Wenger remains in charge. Kroenke is another matter completely, but I think he allows the manager to do whatever he wants provided the targets are met. It’s Wenger who is behind the mentality and heart of the team.

  10. Loyalty, in every circunstance. You ought to look up the word and abide by it. 😉

  11. Great post Yogi

    It’s looking.like our run for the top 4 is on life support. I have been saying all season that Arsene would find a way to drag us back but I will take my lumps like a man if it does not happen.

    There have been warning signs that a season like this had to happen sooner or later. The top 4 finishes papered over the cracks and disguised what has been a decade of stagnation. It’s instructive to note that despite all the money that we have spent in this decade on player wages and transfer fees there is only one player in our starting 11 that would be a shoe in to start in the Spurs best 11.
    That is frightening and it shows just how poorly we have been managed.

  12. I like to think that I’m very loyal – to the club, not to any individual. Particularly if I believe that what they are doing is not in the best long term interest of that club. If I supported anyone in their position and believed that it wasn’t in our best long term interests then perhaps I could be accused of having my loyalty in the wrong place surely?

  13. Sorry to get Godwinian on yo ass, but loyalty is terrible when the captain is sailing towards an iceberg – I for one am glad Oscar Schindler ignored your memo
    .

    nicky:
    Loyalty, in every circunstance. You ought to look up the word and abide by it. 😉

  14. I think We need a director of football to manage our player acquisition strategy. The field manager has enough to do with having total control of the every facet of the clubs football operations.

  15. @Andy 1886,
    Please don’t allay yourself with the usual doom and gloom merchants on this site. At the end of the season Arsenal FC will regroup under a duly appointed manager and soldier on as always.

  16. How about this one from Mark Twain:

    “Loyalty to a petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.”

    If ever a BoD had a ‘petrified opinion’ it’s the one currently at AFC.

  17. nicky,

    Indeed they should, I’d just rather it wasn’t under our latter day General Melchett 😉

    “If nothing else works, a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see us through”

    Kind of sums it up 😜

  18. Right tactics ,wrong personnel. You contain and the counter attack, but with pace ? should have been Holding cb,Nacho lwb.bells rwb,elneny dfm with xhaka,ox in the ozil spot and DW up top. Yes,ozil on bench,can’t play 3 in a week. Ox had been our best player, so should come inside and bells is a natural wing back and has had a rest. So,poch puts Son up against ox and restricts his forward forays and no cover from ozil,game done.

  19. Nicky,

    We must try and find a chic of light in a gloomy ‘day after’, and they say ‘it’s the hope that kills’ —- so everyone on here should be OK. 😀

    Trust everything is good with you, as you fight the brave fight, even in your tenth decade!! 🙂

  20. Well it might be a ‘chic’ to you, Nicky, but I meant a ‘chink’ — in these times I should clarify that as meaning – ‘a narrow opening that admits light where there is darkness’. 😀

    See the trouble auto-kerrect can get yer into. 🙂

  21. It’s fine to pose Spurs would take Sanchez…but I do not think Pochettino would want him.

    They have a complete team and depth in their squad and Pochettino has actively tried to deflect the idea of ‘stars’.

    When Kane returned from injury Pochettino noted he was happy to have him back and then instantly pivoted to the fact Spurs now had a squad of 25 players and they all needed to be involved.

    Their net spend has been zero for 5 years (some argue longer) and most players have been acquired through the youth system or purchased as young players and developed at Spurs. There are exceptions such as Wanyama (a 12m bargain) but there appears no inclination to start buying ‘marquee’ players at present and this is something Spurs fans are totally on board with.

  22. the Ox was born with both his legs
    at Colney he must have been one who begs
    No, no, the left, it’s there for my stability
    it has no other role so i deny my culpability.

  23. LoL.
    Kane was kicked in the shin…hard!

    If you can’t see that your myopia needs immediate treatment. Even the ex-Gooner pundits have accepted it.

    If you want to argue that Kane extenuated his dive to ensure the ref didn’t miss the fact, well that’s a different debate – and a modern phenomenon. But he was sacked in the shin, hard, by an opponent who was no where near making contact with the ball. And that my sour-Goon fiend is a stone wall bang to rights penalty.

    And what about the hand ball in the area minutes later, that was a clear penalty too.

    LoL. It’s funny because you Goonies are so butt-hurt – and pretending you aren’t 🙂

  24. Orson Kaert,

    Good afternoon YW et al. Orson I stated yesterday that Giroud having got his move to Arsenal has “achieved” his mission. Financial security for himself and Family. Football is secondary to him. it is not something that he is passionate about.

    I really do not know where will go from here. What is sure with Silent Stan and Messr Wenger in tandem it is going to be the same the same the same………

  25. Sigh.

    extenuate
    verb

    1. (of a factor or situation) acting in mitigation to lessen the seriousness of guilt or an offence.

    2. make (someone) thin.

    Did you mean accentuated?

    accentuate
    verb

    make more noticeable or prominent.

    Back to the Swamp with you.

  26. Hi, it’s mehstg, your friendly Spurs supporter here. Every now and then I chip in, generally after a NLD. Some thoughts.

    Yogi, you say Ozil was marginalised. That’s happened way too many times for a player on his salary. Great players do not get ‘marginalised’, they get involved, shape and manipulate the game. I remember when we started spending the Bale money and we got Eriksoen and you got Ozil. We were like ‘eh?’ and you guys were cock-a-hoop. Have to tell you – I would not swap Ozil for any of our midfield now. He’s one of a number of players who have responsibility to make you tick. Guys not been there this season – I don’t know where he is, frankly.

    The best signing you have made in the last three years has been Cech, who once again was the difference between 2-0 and 5-0. When your keeper is player of the season, watch out…it’s kind of like what a Pulis or Hughes team aspires to.

    Overhaul? You have about 5 players who still make the grade, but a lot of them are ageing. The British players are all floundering. There seems to be no width apart from when Sanchez drifts. OxChamb looks a yard and 2 seconds behind the game. Walcott flits tentatively through the game, afraid of a kick. Gibbs…Belerin had all the makings of the player I would most fancy signing – no idea what has happened here.

    I don’t know when the company results will be released (if they are) for you, but I dare say through sponsorship, ticket cost rises. concessions etc, the profits will be level. If Kronke is the businessman he is suspected of being, he’ll let Arsene Wenger lead the team out in May and that’ll be that. If not, you know the issue is at a board level and not with AW, who has as much of an ego as the rest of us and would want to leave on his terms.

    BTW, that was a penalty. All day. Our boy made the most of it, but Gabriel is brainless and has been all season.

    All best. Enjoy the Europa League, It’s shit, but occasionally you can get to a decent town that has interesting food.

  27. Owned!

    The inevitable has finally happened and we have finished behind them for the first time since 1995. The other inevitable is that the top 4 will also not happen.

    Wenger has been leading us down this path for many years and now fears that were dismissed as doom-mongering have now become reality.

    They were almost as dominant yesterday as we used to be against them. Could you imagine that in 2004? We were pathetic yesterday and the lack of any kind of fight was the worst part of all.

  28. Loyalty is a terrible, irresponsible thing if the captain is sailing towards an iceberg – for example, not to get Godwinian on yo ass, but I for one am glad that Oscar Schindler ignored your memo on loyalty to the regime, regardless of the route being taken.

    😉

    nicky:
    Loyalty, in every circunstance. You ought to look up the word and abide by it. 😉

  29. Ach – apologies for the double-post – I just came in from the cinema and thought that post had not gone through.

  30. Thanks, YW, for your requiem. Sorry I’m late to the wake. Wenger’s Arsenal is a corpse. The autopsy isn’t completely in, but I’d say there are several causes of death, only one of which is the cancerous 4th place is a trophy ism that has metastasized and atrophied the whole body of the club from top to bottom. We may have a zombie on our hands next season. Remedies are scarce, bizarre and gruesome at such a point. Time to pass on AW. Stop haunting AFC now. One glorious final, a fine funeral and burial. Take it and rest so that re-birth can start.

  31. mehstg,

    Thank you for your input, i enjoy opposition vantage points that are civilised.
    It made me question for a second whether the wizard was Gandalf or indeed Oscar Diggs.
    To build on limes analogy, Gandalf for me would represent the heart. Trouble is, it’s familiar territory as seen with Mr “more than a club DNA” Fab. The body of Arsenal have been dining on McDonald’s for a very long time, washing it down with pop thinking about the donut appetizers before the dessert finale.
    Once a high calibre player realises this they either leave or go through the motions for the currency.

    The wizard has many flaws but is a bonafide game changer when managed correctly. The same with many of our players on different levels, even someone like Theo. Just his pace alone at one point had Barcelona making fearful comments, as that amount of speed if utilized will force the opposition to play a certain way. Instead his dreams of being a centre forward was indulged to “keep the peace” as the armoury has been renovated into a hippy commune.

    I could go on with the plethora of oddities but it’s been done to death already. Its just fascinating how stubbornness, fear and power combined will allow someone to oversee a decline over a long period.

    Good luck with your future, the way you go about improving each year is great to see.

  32. Bufallo,

    Merci pour la poste Buffalo very interesting. If I said I was depressed when thinking about the current state of AFC that would be putting it rather mildly.

    Going to listen to Arseblog podcast drink a nice glass of local vin Francais and indulge myself with a big skliff ( joint) and relax. I see very light at the end of the tunnel.

  33. I see very little light at the end of the tunnel……………..Who knows with this little melange I’m about to part take in my spirits might just become illuminated again, pigs might fly.

  34. Adnan – Guardians of The Galaxy II – it was most enjoyable.
    Very amusing in places but still, y’know, predictable Marvel fluff by numbers, at the end of the day.
    I’ll be in your country in just a few days now. 🙂

  35. mehstg,

    Cech has never been the ‘player of the season’ since his arrival – that’s a superficial presumption.

    He had a great day on Sunday, largely after we had conceded two – and in a losing effort where no one else stood out at Arsenal. He’s had good and bad games but all can see his game is in decline.

    You are right about Erikson but even then the comparison of like for like with Ozil is tenuous.

    You would not know this but I have been a vocal fan of Spurs and Pochettino on this board (as have others) and I joked not long ago I could see Ozil at Spurs. Why – because I would trust Pochettino to get the most out of him, to deploy him correctly to see him play in harmony with team mates.

    By the same token, if you moved Erikson here, his game would decline under a lack of direction from Wenger.

    One aspect of Ozil’s play you fail to note is his selflessness – hitting on all cylinders all he wants to do is ‘assist’ which playrs around him love and it fits the Spurs ethos.

    That by the by is why I also noted I do not think Sanchez would fit Spurs- he’s a much more selfish and demanding player. Naturally he would be an ‘addition’ to any team, but he also sets a tone. The seems to be harmony and parity across the Spurs squad, players who have genuinely bonded.

    I suspect Pochettino will be very mindful of maintaining such balance into the future.

  36. YW:
    Sigh.

    extenuate
    verb


    1. (of a factor or situation) acting in mitigation to lessen the seriousness of guilt or an offence.

    2. make (someone) thin.

    Did you mean accentuated?

    accentuate
    verb


    make more noticeable or prominent.

    Back to the Swamp with you.

    I suspect your visitor probably meant exaggerated the dive — well he got the ‘ex’ bit right! 🙂

  37. The bottom line from yesterday is we have no shape, I doubt we have any plans for any game, half of our players are lemons, and the big Kahuna “Wenger” is just as useless.

    If you look at the Spuds, they looked like a team has been playing in this shape for a long while, every player knows what he’s supposed to do and what his responsibilities are.

    On our side, Wenger sits on the bench having Bouldy’s ear like a bitch who just doesn’t know anything but complaining with no solutions.

    Penalty was a certain dive that makes United’s Ronaldo proud, but who cares about that. It could’ve been 5 or 6 yesterday if the Spuds concentrated more on scoring….But they got the 3 points, their plan, the style and formation worked for them because they practiced on it all year.

    Wenger is Done, and the only thing out of reality that I hope for, is that Arsenal is paying it forward to these clubs to they can let him win the league next year. Kind of a Gentleman’s Agreement. It’s highly doubtful, but there is nothing else I can think of as an excuse for the way we have become and have been for a while….A laughing stock.

  38. So Liverpool have increased the gap to 9 points again and we have only 2 games in hand. We seem to be keeping that possible top 4 spot bumping along at the moment. We put paid to the one where we had a chance to overhaul Spurs this weekend, so when does the top 4 one go? We should probably have put paid to that one by the end of the Southampton game which leaves us with a few meaningless games where we will suddenly find form because the handbrake will be off. Just in time to get us ticking along for the cup final where Chelsea will squash us.

  39. Wavey,

    We are likely to receive more body blows as we exit this season.

    Mourinho will take the Arsenal game as seriously as he took Chelsea (which Conte underplayed to his regret). He will be determined to humiliate Wenger – if we can take a point I would be happy.

    Stoke are going to come at us, Southampton will want payback for the FA Cup pasting, and Everton will want to end their season on a high.

    Then we have the FA Cup final.

    The present mantra seems to be ‘hey, it’s a one off game we can win it’. True.

    Except I personally presume Chelsea are going to be just as charged (and heaps more confident and organized) to claim their double.

    I am so done with this season and all things (presently) Arsenal – I think the most interesting thing left is ‘The Announcement”.

    Is anyone at the club going to have the balls to announce the Wenger decision before season’s end? I doubt it. Will they now even announce before the FA Cup final? I doubt that also – would they risk having ‘Wenger Out’ protests at or around Wembley?

    So that likely means we are 5th/6th in the PL, set to play in the EL, as well as losing FA Cup finalists when they finally declare Wenger is extending…

    Nothing bodes well.

  40. According to who scored, Giroud has won 1.8 aerial duels a game this season. Meanwhile, Andy Carroll has won 9.1.
    In other words, Giroud ISN’T EVEN GOOD IN THE AIR. That explains why he is always been penalised for man-handling his opponent and then moaning about it. Some “presence” up front. Opposing centre-backs must laugh themselves sick.

  41. Ras,

    Giroud is a particularly delusional footballer, because he thinks he actually thinks he can play with the ball at his feet. He doesn’t accept that the only quality he brings to the table is that he is tall and should be able to head the ball into the back of the net. In other words, he doesn’t have the humility to accept his specific role (which he’s not very good at anyway).
    Whereas you look at someone like Tim Cahill. He knew he was there to head the ball in the back of the net and didn’t pretend he was Messi. That’s why he had a successful career.

  42. I honestly still see Wenger weaseling his way into staying which sucks coz honestly I don’t see this team as it is constituted doing much better next year and there is no plan to bring in better top level players who can make a difference either… So for the umpteenth time Wenger please do us a favor and shove off…

  43. @freddo,
    Your 5.19 to Ras sums up Giroud perfectly. As good he is in the air (the best attacking header for Arsenal for many a decade) to give him the ball at his feet is asking for trouble. A one-shot striker, maybe but no dribbler. 😉

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