On Managing Alexis and The Month Ahead

So that’s it; the club awaits the return of the stragglers from their international duties, assessing their fitness, physically and mentally. All eyes are on Alexis, particularly with Chile’s back-to-back defeats leaving them looking at a play-off place. Peru, currently 4th, face Colombia and Argentina in their final two games. Asking for a return of the 1978 World Cup favour from the Argentinians seems unlikely to be granted so they rely on Peru’s failure.

The English media are reporting that the striker complained in the local press about his treatment for these matches. A division 2 coach called him a ‘porker’ which probably didn’t help his mood following the collapse of his not-very-close transfer to Manchester City.

“You get tired of being criticized with reason and without reason, you get tired of wanting to be defeated, you get tired of saying to yourself “I’ll get up again” after crying after a defeat, and you get tired of telling the world and people who are with you, that everything is going well.

“And the worst, that no one ever realizes how that makes you feel … I have the No 7 of Chile on my back and it is a huge responsibility, that’s why I’m sorry that journalists and bad people criticize without knowing…”

If he thinks the Chilean media put him under intense scrutiny, I suspect it will be worse at the club. The reaction to the defeat was similar to those we’ve seen at Arsenal. You can understand why the cosy dressing room atmosphere would be upset by passionate outbursts about results and performances. As long as there’s an element of self-awareness and self-criticism, it’s tough on the rest; get over it.

HEADLINER

The next month is testing for Arsène and the squad. Aside from the trip to Chelsea, winning the games at a canter is the expectation. Bournemouth, West Brom and Brighton at home in the Premier League; Cologne and BATE in the Europa League, finished off with Doncaster in the League Cup.

While taking games for granted is rash and our start to the season doesn’t warrant it, defeat in any is almost unthinkable. The game against Cologne, despite being at home, will be interesting. It’s three days before Chelsea and Wenger’s previous in this respect is to rotate the side. Heavily.

The month may decide our priorities for the season. We’re not going to win the league; we don’t have the depth in the squad nor do we have the form. While we could upset the form book, it’s unlikely. Already there’s a groundswell of opinion growing that we will drop the back three as a result of the summer transfer activity.

Arsène made no bones about being unimpressed by the notion of 3-4-3 although the 3-5-2 is a lot different in terms of the balance of the side. Nonetheless, the defensive shortcomings of the 4-1-3-2 aren’t solved with the same personnel on board. Unless we’ve changed the coaching routines and philosophy of the team, we’re in the same boat.

Arsène makes no bones about the side suffering from fragile confidence but putting square pegs in round holes and dropping £50m players to the bench is hardly imbuing belief in the squad. It gives more of a sense that the manager is flailing around for ideas. Certainly the whimsy of including Ox as a right back and moving Hector Bellerin to the left was disastrous.

HEADLINE

That problem is solved; Bellerin surely reverts to the right with Ox gone. He’s one of the players for whom mental focus is an issue. After Selhurst Park, he became the focal point for criticism of the team; a lightning rod, if you like. The summer saw him return to the club wanting to leave; Wenger has work to do in that respect with a number of players.

If we’re moving to 4-1-3-2, it opens a number of doors again. Wilshere and Walcott are likely to see more game time in that respect. Coquelin possibly but that largely depends on the opposition; Elneny is a better option in European games, certainly in the group stages.

The names aren’t shiny new toys and undermine Ivan’s claim that a ‘selling summer’ now sees the squad stronger, and with more depth. Expectations of improving on last season are low; we’ll finish higher than fifth only if another club suffers a collapse in form. While we haven’t become a bad team overnight, we’re nowhere near as resilient as three or four years ago.

Ladies and gentlemen, the rollercoaster ride is about to begin.

’til Tomorrow.

64 thoughts on “On Managing Alexis and The Month Ahead

  1. Nice one YW

    Tend to think you’re exactly right. For whatever reason, at least I want to look this season. I do tend to think it will have some car crash moments.

    For a team that has consistently shown that it needs confidence to give a performance, the run isn’t that great. If Bournemouth is flat, the Cologne tie takes on a completely different complexion before kick off. i expect Stamford Bridge to be a blood bath frankly

    I don’t expect us to lose all three, but I could see Bournemouth being a grubby atmosphere in the ground, reflected in a turgid draw. An “inspired” recovery of a point having gone two down to Cologne, then battered by Chelsea

    Beyond that, who knows how they’ll respond? If players are already niggly (Mustafi, Bellerin, Alexis) do they start to down tools? Who else is wobbling past the ones we know about?

    Still, it will at least be entertainment. Of a sort

  2. Good afternoon Gooners and thank you Yogi. You are absolutely right, we haven’t become a bad team overnight, the decline has been apparent for a couple of seasons now but has been masked by the FA Cup successes.

    If a few others in the squad made known their feelings about the diabolical performances of late, Wenger may have been forced to do something about the malaise that is taking over.

  3. I think the Bournemouth game is key for Wonga. Lose it, then he may be forced to play more of his first teamers than he would like at Koln, and the inevitable hammering at Chelsea could be really brutal.

    Although, as we’ve seen, he has no sense of shame, that could really be a body blow to him. It would be very interesting to see the reaction in the ground after a Bournemouth win. A draw, he gets away with it again, then Chelsea a week after will just be accident number 21.

    First time I’ve been interested in an Arse league game for about 4 years. Game on.

  4. Damon,

    Nah, I expect us to beat Bournemouth and the acolytes will fete it as the second coming, then we’ll get whupped by Chelsea and there will be the wails of Oil money!/Russian oligarch! and all that crap. If we get stuck with Wenger and Kroenke then it’s essentially our own fault. We know fans can drive out managers and owners but at Arsenal there is a substantial core of the fanbase that will continue to lap up the shit sandwich that they are served, come back for more and try and pass it off as caviar to anyone who has the common sense to see it for what it is.

    The question is are we going to see pitchforks or pussies this season?

  5. It’s an interesting game as it is certainly not beyond us to lose it and that really would shake up the fan base.
    It’s a bit of a ‘must win’ for AW et al.

  6. TBH we were lucky last time (3-3 ??) against Bournemouth – one of ou=r many dreadful performances last season. They could easily beat us this time….

  7. Hi all (after a long time – usually limited wi fi access but not today)
    On the formation:
    One of the reasons why the switch to 3 CBs worked – IMO – is that for years our full backs play 10 yards too far forward (on average) so adding another CB made the formation compact.
    This season though they seem to have “adapted” to the new formation by playing 10 yards further forward still, and Ramsey too…. That’s why Holding and Xhaka give the ball away – once we regain possession at the back we aren’t in 3-4-3 but 3-1-6…. and easily get caught.
    That’s not so much the players’ fault in my view – but the coach…. at least 3 of 4 (RWB. LWB, 2CMs) should be behind the ball until its out of our half, just drill them !!!!

  8. Morning / Afternoon mates and as always, thanks Yogi my man!

    Bournemouth is going to be a tricky match simply because we don’t know how the players will respond. Will Ozil carry his form from Germany or revert to early season form that has been a rather mixed bag of chances created but not doing all the defensive duties people want (quite frankly a stable defense and midfield would certainly help ease that)? What mind frame are the likes of Bellerin, Sanchez and Mustafi in after the window? Lacazette and Sead, how do they get on after being dropped for a big match only to watch the same destruction supporters saw?

    So many questions and on top of that not an easy week. For Bournemouth I would go:

    Cech
    Bellerin—Mert—-Mustafi—-Sead
    ——-Xhaka—–Elneny
    Welbeck—Ozil—-Sanchez
    ———-Lacazette———–

    The only change for Chelsea I would make would be to bring in Le Coq in midfield and push Ozil to the RW and drop Welbeck

    For Koln, I think we are still in good shape:

    Ospina
    Bellerin—-Mert—Mustafi—Sead
    ——–Le Coq—–Ramsey—–
    -Theo———–Adelaide———Nelson
    —————Giroud———-

    Now Kos slots in next to Mustafi if he is deemed fit at all and I would stick with the back 4 this week to really let them gel. The other thing is I might actually give Jack a run-out in the 2nd half of Koln just to get him match time especially if we find ourselves up a goal or 2.

  9. I don’t honestly think it matters what formation you play this week-end, 3-MESS or 4-(MESS-1), as about half of the first teamers want out the door, so are the other half thinking ‘should I want out the door, everybody else does?’

    Or, do we now have the ArseMainers and the ArseExiters (sorry couldn’t find a nice way of abbreviating that), if so the ArseExiters being such a large faction could cause the wheels to fall off in any given game.

    And I’m thinking one of those games could be well be after a couple of quick internationals, long journey home, a little tiredness in the legs and an uninspiring game against Bourne-somebody at the week-end.

  10. HALF TIME LEMONS,

    Arsenal have been guilty of similar many times in the past. I can remember Wiltord being caught in possession regularly on the wing leaving a big gap at the back because Lauren had bombed forward. Ox was caught the same way against Monaco with Bellerin too far up the field. The forwards should both have done better in possession to start with, but your FBs being that far up the field leaves you with no margin for error.

    It’s not just Arsenal though, Dixon was complaining on Monday night that Rashford’s error for Solvakia’s goal was compounded by the RB having already charged forward.

  11. Another great post Yogi. Like it or not I think 4th place is our ceiling and a return to one of those CL spots would be a highly successful outcome to this season. I feel that getting back into the CL anyway he can is critical to Arsene’s dream of managing the club for the rest of his life. I think even Arsene has to realize that if he misses the champions league the next 2 seasons then he puts his next contract renewal in 2019 at risk.

    I think Alexis’ mental state and how well he plays will be one of the critical determining factors of our season. The other critical factor is obviously our team defense. If we continue to defend the way we did in the first 3 games then nothing can save us. Alexis had a career season last year and we got a great start to the season from Walcott and Ozil and a shockingly efficient season from Giroud. Despite all of those positive things we still fell to 5th in the league table in goal scoring. I expect Lacazette to be good but its very unlikely he can match the production in terms of goals and assist that Alexis gave us last season and I doubt we get double figures in league goals from Walcott and Giroud is not going to be as efficient. If Alexis sleep walks thru the season or leaves in January then we will be dreadfully short on firepower. Getting shut out 2 games in a row highlights how difficult it will be for us to score. On the other hand if our defense firms up and Alexis scores in the high teens and has double digit assists then we will be a solid contender for 4th place. Arsene has a lot riding on Alexis’ dodgy mental state.

  12. andy1886,
    Good afternoon All. Excellent post comme d’habitude.

    More like Flailing pussies.

    You could not make it up if you tried. On the Clubs official site there’s an “spread” about El Nenny and his virtues etc. Did we not accept an offer for 10 million for from him Leicster.

    Speaking of Leicester the one thing they have done is foster good “scouting” networks.Kante, Mahrez and Vardy.

  13. Ras,

    Leicester also coached them , gave them defined team roles & most likely told them if they didn’t do the business pretty quickly they were welcome to try their luck elsewhere.

  14. Andy1886

    “The question is are we going to see pitchforks or pussies this season?”

    Both, as per usual.

    If you can convince yourself that the last TW was a master class by Wenger showing everyone how it’s done, and the Liverpool game was just the blip and a bad day at the office – as certain ” positive ” blogger has, then there’s nothing Wenger can do to damage his standing with the AKB.

    The pitchfork faction has probably run out of pitchforks by now so I expect things remain as they were.

  15. Bill,

    On the contrary, if Arsene can steady the ship and attain top six Stan will sign him up without a second thought. See my earlier musings on the top four – it will cost more to get back there than it’s worth. We’ll accept we’re a Europa League side who may get lucky if some of the top sides implode.

    Where else will he find a manager content to be mediocre and who will not demand a large ‘war chest’ 😂 to rebuild the team as he would want it?

  16. Andy

    You may be right and I may be crazy but I am not so sure that finishing 6th in the next couple of seasons will get Arsene an automatic contract renewal. I am in minority on the blog and an insufferable optimist but I think top 6 is a slam dunk and top 4 is a real possibility but that depends on our defense finding a decent level and Alexis having a good season. We have had a good 1/2 season every year for the last 13 years and I expect the same again this season. I expect that someway/somehow that we will in contention for 4th place. The question is will that good 1/2 season be enough to nick a top 4 spot.

    The wildcard in this season is the Europa league and getting into the CL by winning that would make our table position at the end of the season irrelevant.

  17. C

    If we are going to use the Europa league games for rotation then we need to get Wilshere into those games. How else are we going to get him the minutes he needs and to see if he can somehow ever be useful in the first 11. Jeff was last years youth flavor of the month but he did not really do anything with the minutes he got last season and his star has faded and we should give those minutes to Wilshere. Nelson is this seasons flavor of the month so he will probably get some minutes but you forgot about Iwobe unless he is totally off the radar.

  18. Bill,

    The Europa League is the most likely avenue to qualification IMO, but (and it’s a big BUT) you have to take into account Arsene’s record which I believe is of the coach who has the most appearances in European competition without winning one. In fact he’s the only coach to lose in all three old style European finals (CL, UEFA, and CWC). He can complete the set by adding the Europa League to that list this season of course…

  19. I don’t think Arsene can afford to use the Europa league for youth development and rotation and put all of his eggs in the top 4 in the league basket since finishing 4th that is very dodgy at best. Knock out competitions can be fickle but winning the Europa league might actually be our more secure route back to the CL.

  20. The problem with 4,5,1 is that we have no striker good enough for that responsibility and the two wing backs push forward to support the prolonged periods of attacking possession and leave the back undefended.

    3,4,3 was an answer to both these issues, but had no real support from the manager who sees football with endless midfielders who don’t defend and can’t score goals. (the two main reasons to be on the pitch – just in case we had forgotten)

    The same happened when he had to stop playing possession football against the top teams because we kept on getting thumped. It lasted until the criticism stopped and then he returned to his old tricks. It is my opinion that he was sabotaging the success of 3,4,3 picking a stupid back row and wing backs at the beginning of the season – why not? I haven’t heard a better reason.

    Well if he does go back to 4,5,1 in one of its many guises we will not beat the top 7 teams and some of them will be hammerings.

  21. So apparently the transfer of Dembele from Dortmund to Barca is a prime example of everything that’s wrong with the player evaluation these days, according to Wenger.

    He maybe right of course but when you try to do the same ( basically ), perhaps speaking out on the subject isn’t the most prudent thing to do.

    Dembele went to Barca for a reported £94.5m plus potential add ons.
    Dortmund payed for him £13.5 a year ago and Dembele’s market value is £30m

    Compare that to what Arsene tried to accomplish with Lemar and only failed because the player turned him down.

    Reported fee at about the same what Barca paid for Dembele – £94m
    Lemar’s market value – £21m
    He’s only one year older than Dembele so still only a solid prospect , nothing more.
    And he’s been at Monaco only one year longer than Dembele at Dortmund , for a fee of £3.6m from Caen.

    If you ignore for a moment that both Kante and Lemar played for SM Caen before their break out season , and perhaps Arsenal should hire Caen’s scouting network, then how is Lemar’s would be transfer to Arsenal any different than Dembele’s to Barca.

    Perhaps if Wenger spent more time coaching his own players and minding his own business instead of flapping his lips every chance he got, Arsenal might’ve been able to avoid the likes of Liverpool fiascos.

  22. Tom,

    I see that Wenger was railing against what he sees as the absurdity of a player increasing his value ten fold in a year or two. Sounds remarkably similar to us buying Anelka for £500k and selling him a couple of years later for £22.5 million. But I guess he wasn’t complaining at the time. Pot. Kettle. Black, as they say.

  23. Bill,

    Adelaide actually did well last season when played in the cup matches recieving praises from quite a few juat not you. I agree Jack does need mins but straight into the team, sorry, lets work him back slowly given his injury history hence why he comes on as a sub and not from the start. Lets not also act like Jack lit up his loan spell because he didn’t, he’s coming off yet ANOTHER ankle injury so rushing him back for me spells disaster.

    Adelaide wasn’t some flavor of the month, you make it seem like at 19 years old he is suppose to boss every match he plays and is supposed to be the finish article, same with Nelson. They are young players who are just mow breaking into the first team. Along those lines, sorry but lets not act like we have some dominate first team players that DESERVE match time because they don’t and if they did then we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in now. The Europa league, especially early matches we can rotate and its why Nelson and Adelaide get into my team.

  24. C

    Jeff looked OK in a couple of the cup games when our team dominated. He plays a position in the center of the pitch where he is going to get plenty of touches and any player who gets plenty of touches is always going to look good in a game that we over run the opponent. Same with Ozil playing against Norway. Jeff was invisible or worse in the games we did not win easily and he certainly did not resemble an eye catching fantastic Diaby like talent that we had heard about.

  25. I think this season will be a series of mixed results…when the motivation is there we can cobble a squad together that can beat any team in the EPL. But unfortunately the manager isn’t quite capable of consistently creating a motivated environment – nor is he willing or able to do so during a game from his puffy Michelin man jacket sitting in the team bench.
    We have too many players either in the last year of a contract or just wanting away to escape the sinking ship that will be thinking of their own stats and avoiding injury/fatigue for the World Cup. I see us having around 20% of our team in each game trotting out to met their contractual obligations to run around on the pitch.
    When the going gets tough, and it does in almost each and every game, there will be a few players who won’t be thinking about rescuing the match. Instead they’ll be thinking that they have another 40 minutes remaining in their shift and how do they beat traffic and reporters to get home.
    Can’t wait for the first Sanchez tantrum.

  26. Fair enough about Jack and working him into the line up slowly but we can’t wrap him in cotton wool forever if there is ever a chance for him to help the first team. I agree that he was not the difference making we thought he could be during his loan spell last season and I share your pessimism about his long term future at Arsenal. However, unless we plan to give up on him we need to give him as many minutes as possible and see where it goes. Jeff has plenty of years and Jack is on his last chance so minutes for Jack are clearly the priority.

    If we have any hope for Iwobe he needs to be playing as many minutes as possible rather then Nelson. Myself I think Iwobe’s best position over the long term has to be central midfield and if we are going to use Europa as a developmental laboratory then I would use Iwobe instead of Jeff in that position. No?

    if we are looking for another option on the left why not Nacho at LB and Kolasinac playing further forward on the left side. Its very early but Kolasinac looks like a someone who aggressively bombs forward and I would rather have him starting further forward and use the more steady Nacho at LB.

  27. Bill,

    I love the optimism but we are not getting anywhere near the top 4, no chance. Even top 6 is pushing it and it could implode very quickly which would be fitting for this team. It could be a long time before we look up to such lofty heights again.

    I have no doubt at all that Napoleon is eyeing up another contract though. Dictators never just go away; they have to be removed.

    I am totally with Andy on this. Half the squad either wants out or is considering the possibility. Its more cost effective for Stan to have us at Europa level or even lower in terms on investment. He could save a packet in wages and transfers, take a hit on commercial revenues and just watch the TV money keep rolling in. The cost of the next TV rights will be very interesting.

  28. Having not so long ago described players being in the final year of their contracts as an “Ideal situation” he has now said that it will cost us £140m if Alexis goes on a free transfer when you factor-in spending 60-70m on a replacement.

    Its utter madness. Sanchez could have been sold for 50-60m months ago and that amount plus say some of the cash from Ox could have gone on a replacement.

    Kroenke is a businessman, how can he allow a £60m asset go for nothing? It makes no sense.

  29. Bill,

    I think the thing that you always seem to forget with Adelaide is that he is ONLY 19 years old and playing centrally there will be times when you don’t look good but also he is still a kid learning his craft and playing centrally is one of the hardest positions to learn and play because everything not only runs through you but the game as a whole is faster and every touch has to be towards your next pass or dribble and not just standing there to stand there.

  30. I think SK will be just fine with top 6 from now on, especially if we don’t spend heavily to get back into top 4.

    I agree that Iwobi needs to play Europa. He has talent but needs games and perhaps can start scoring a bit more on Europa level competition.

  31. C

    You make my point for me. If Jeff is still learning his craft and is only 19 and has a going to take a time to develop then why use him in games that could potentially be high leverage when we have more experienced players like Wilshere who we might end up needing to use in the first team that really need minutes? We have been watching this play out over the last 13 years and using first team minutes to develop inexperienced players like Jeff has not worked for the team or the players. Its to late to send him on loan but let Jeff play in the league cup games since we don’t really care about those games anyway. With our shortage our central midfielders we might need to use Iwobe at that position if we have any injuries so if we are going to use the Europa league for experimenting then why not give Iwobe those minutes? With Ramsey’s contract running out in 2 years and Ozil probably leaving on the free next season we need to know if Ramsey can really be a difference maker in a free roaming role behind the striker. Why not use him in that role and see how it works.

  32. Cech was quoted as saying:

    “When he [Mourinho] arrived at Chelsea from Porto, he brought the main thing: he came from a club where it was not acceptable to him to finish second of the championship.

    “He brought the same spirit in Chelsea. He thinks only about victory, whatever the price.

    “He hates draws. If we returned to the dressing room with a draw, it was known that he would not be satisfied.

    “On the other hand, he also wanted be able to keep a 1-0 or beat a team 5-0 if possible. No matter how, Mourinho wants the result.

    “The philosophy at Arsenal is completely opposed to this: it is not win at all costs but we want to win with a good way of playing. This is beginning to change in our approach.”

  33. Bill,

    Iwobi was actually my other option but for me it was either Iwobi or Ramsey and while I prefer Iwobi, I couldn’t see Arsene starting both Iwobi and Adelaide though I think that midfield would offer us not only the power and pace in midfield but the athleticism and physicality that some want. Adelaide playing the mins in the Europa League is exactly the time when we should see what we have, sure we have seen over the last 13 years it play out but we have also seen over those same 13 years experienced players come and not perform so why not give Adelaide a run out especially since Jack more than likely isn’t signing and is out of contract next summer anyways. Personally, I think Jack needs time to get up to speed so he doesn’t start and I think a midfield of Iwobi/Le Coq/ Adelaide would be good especially for Koln at the Emirates. In my line-up, I started Le Coq/Adelaide/ Ramsey and I think Adelaide and Ramsey could easily swap positions. If I’m honest, I think the player that drops would be Nelson and we could see all of Le Coq/Adeilade/Ramsey/Iwobi all feature against Koln so that wouldn’t be a problem. I guess we will have to see if Ramsey can play in that free role.

  34. C,

    This is one of the things that riles me about Wenger. He witters on about ‘entertaining’ like football is a night at the theatre, or a comedy gig (which explains a lot). This is not an ‘entertainment’, first and foremost it’s a sport where winning any way possible has to be the number one priority. If you can entertain as well that’s great but FFS win first.

    It reminds me of Spurs and Arsenal back in the 70’s and early 80’s. Spurs fans used to waffle on about how they played great football compared to Arsenal. The truth was that it was a shallow way to hide the fact that while they hid behind the non-existent ‘play the nicest football trophy’ Arsenal were the club that had historically won the real trophies. I don’t want to see AFC go down the ‘all style and no substance’ route that has historically been the fate of the Spuds.

  35. andy1886,

    I actually agree with you, though I wasn’t born until 87 so did see those teams but have spoken with enough who did, and while I am one of those people who absolutely love beautiful attractive futbol, I am also somebody who hates to lose. I think the current problem is that we neither play consistent attractive futbol nor win consistently(though I will always love the FA Cup wins).

    The strange thing for me is that when Arsenal have been at their best since the first of three FA Cup recently is that our best performances have actually been absolutely beautiful futbol and it leaves you questioning why can’t we do that all the time. I get it, sometimes you have to win ugly but FFS, just win. We have the players available to play absolutely brilliant futbol and win doing it but the atmosphere and culture seems to be holding everything back, well that and being stagnate.

  36. C,

    Thanks for that, but I don’t think we will see Santi in an Arsenal shirt again. I hope I’m wrong but getting back to a level of fitness suitable to play effectively is going to take longer than his contract has to run.

  37. Limestonegunner:
    I think SK will be just fine with top 6 from now on, especially if we don’t spend heavily to get back into top 4.

    I fear he’ll be happy with top 17 – so long as the TV money rolls in and there is demand for tickets.

  38. C,

    Wow, wow and wow. Did cech really say that?!
    fuck. Might as well go home lads, nowt to see here.
    Alexis appears to grasp wisdom, the next step is sustain the strike and burn this mother to the ground.

    Ain’t it funny, the shop has a better name than the ground.

  39. Oh Santi.

    I remember reading about him when he signed. I was fascinated by the news that he had a problem that required him to do a lot of sit ups daily to suppress the condition.

    I’ll just leave that there. 😉

  40. Limestone

    Iwobe has plenty of technical skill but has never been a scorer even in the academy level. Over the long term it will not work out for him as a forward. I think his skill set is much utilized as a central midfielder. The sooner he starts playing there the better. I would like to see him go on loan and play central midfield for a championship or bottom of the table PL team.

  41. Alex

    Sorry I missed your post earlier. Arsene has been doing a levitating act and keeping us at the same level for 13 years. Stagnation almost always leads to the bottom dropping out at some point. However, we have been predicting a slide into mid table for years but Arsene always manages to keep us in or very close to the top 4 and I suspect somehow we will be challenging for 4th place again this season.

  42. Obviously we can’t send Iwobe on loan now so we should start using him in central midfield in the early round league and FA cup games and possibly in the Europa league games

  43. andy1886,

    What a great attitude

    Win and you get to whip those who support Arsenal for their enthusiasm

    Lose and I suspect you are even happier with your blog posting pitchfork

    If you have ever seen happy-go-lucky you are the driving instructor

    Miserablist

    You take the joy out of football

  44. I strongly suspect that the Ox is going to be something of a revelation at Liverpool. If there is one coach in the world who will improve his game, it is Klopp. The Ox, with his tremendous athleticism, is made for high intensity/high pressing football. He should even get the cheap goals he wouldn’t get at Arsenal. Going to Chelsea, on the other hand (more defensive, more counter-attacking) would have been a disaster. I think he’s been well-advised.

  45. Freddo

    I think the opposite regarding Ox. I think Ox would have brought something to Chelsea that they did not have and made them even more dangerous with him bombing down the right wing.

  46. Arsetralian

    To each his own. There has never been one single instruction manual that all fans are supposed to follow.

    Its abundantly clear from watching Arsenal for the last 13 years that playing attractive football is nice but at some point that stagnates and your results have to start living up to reasonable expectations. In our case we are supposed to be a big team and the expectation is supposed to be that we compete for big trophies and may be even occasionally win one. When results do not meet expectations the players and the fans will start to become unhappy and it will eventually break down no matter how attractive or unattractive your style of play.

  47. Ox is an athletic beast. Very few players have his combination of power and pace. However the only outstanding football skill he has is his ability to run with the ball at his feet and beat players and create havoc and disorganization and mismatches for the defense when he gets the ball into the attacking area. He does not score and he is not a great passer however that one skill that he has can change and even dominate a game. Ox has all of the skill and physical ability needed to be a more then adequate defender on the right wing. Its up to the manager to force Ox to concentrate more on his defense and then figure our how to use Ox his skill to give his team an advantage. I think Ox would have been forced to play defense for Chelsea and his ability to create havoc on the attacking end from right wing back position would have made Chelsea a more dangerous team.

  48. Orson Kaert,

    I know we may not see him play in an Arsenal kit again and I hope we don’t sign him to a new contract so he can go play another 3-4 years in La Liga. With that said, what a brilliant little player he waa when he was fit though. if I was a kid, he’s the player I would pattern my game after, being two footed is a rarity.

  49. Bill,

    I agree and don’t think for a moment I do not share our frustration

    But I think we confuse realpolitik (always wanted to use that word) with just simple support. Why do we even bother pretending we are shaking the tree of billionaire corporate owners.

    Arsenal has always been owned by people so removed from our circles we have no say. Accept that.

    It really is just a game.

    Don’t stone people for wanting to look forward to a new season despite the fact we want a good CM.

    It just deflates the enjoyment.

    And it is true. We did win 3 FA cups in 4 years and I enjoyed those wins.

    LFC and Spurs have still won fuck all.
    Yes they look better at the moment but if the Ox turns into this amazing CM I will certainly apologise

  50. Arsetralian,

    By all means be one of the happy clappy crowd if you wish, far be it for me to tell you how to support the club.

    The idea that it has always been thus is nonsense though. Not sure if you were around at the time but we, the fans, certainly did for Terry Neill back in December ’83, and while we had more respect for Don Howe afterwards he was politely ushered out too. Which led to a new era and the success that Arsene was able to build on.

    Of course we could have sat around pretending all was well and none of what followed would have happened….

    As for Stan, well as few Scousers with pitchforks did for Gillette and Hicks too in case you’d forgotten.

  51. Snippets from AW’s press conference this morning:

    Arsene on injury problems: “We have no injuries, everybody is looking to come back quite well. We have no big injury problems.

    “Our season depends on how strong we are at home. That’s why our next home performance is very important.”

    Arsene on Santi Cazorla: “Overall I think it’s very difficult to set a time, but I hope after Christmas he will be available.”

    Arsene on Alexis Sanchez: I have no doubt about his time but people question. I think he needs to comer back to full fitness, what he was not at Liverpool. He suffered a negative experience with Chile but he’s strong mentally and hopefully will be back.

    “I believe the transfer market is over, there was a lot going on on that front so overall it’s very difficult for me to speak about that but the most important thing for us is to focus on the next game.”

    Arsene on Thomas Lemar: My view is that it is very difficult to speak about Lemar because he is now in Monaco and his focus is there and Sanchez’s focus is here. I believe we have to keep a certain confidentiality about the transfer market. Many things happened in the last second which I regret.

    “It’s uncomfortable and every manager would agree that it’s important not to have players that are half-out and half-in.”

    Arsene on Kylian Mbappe: “I believe that we were on the case last year and he was close to joining us, maybe closer last year because the competition to get him was a lot smaller than today.

    “He could close his eyes and choose where he wanted to go. He is an exceptional player.”

    Wenger on Oxlade-Chamberlain: “I wish him well and wish him all the best. At the end of the day you make decisions. We had to sell somebody and overall I believe today we are in a strong enough financial situation as always and we have a good enough squad to compete.

    “Sometimes it opens the door for some younger players, who get an opportunity they otherwise might not get.”

    Arsene on Liverpool defeat: “If you ask me do I suffer from performances like that, it is obvious.

    “Unfortunately, it is part of the career and you ideally want your team to perform at the top level.

    “You question your decisions and your preparations. We have played three games and have 35 to go, and we have the quality to respond.”

    Wenger on Arsenal’s form: “What is a crisis? It is important to focus on what is in front of you but every defeat is a crisis, yes?”

    Arsene on Arsenal’s form: “Quality of performances can change from one weekend to the next.

    “I love and believe in my players and we need our fans behind the team.

    “They can come to conclusions straight after the game or stay behind the team.”

    Arsene on Arsenal’s form: “I believe you stick to your principles even if it doesn’t go as well as you wanted you question yourself, yes, but not question things because you lose one game.

    “That’s where I believe it’s important people are on the team and continue to believe in what we do.”

    Arsene on Bournemouth: “It is never a good time to play anybody. It is a good time for us to focus on our performance.

    “We will win back the points we have dropped away from home. It is vital to take some perspective.”

    Arsene on Mesut Ozil: “Nobody was perfect. We have to take a distance from that.

    “We shouldn’t be caught in any animosity. We are all grateful for what these players, past and present, have done for the club.”

    More from Wenger on fans: “You [the media] work very hard to get our fans on our back and you do it very well. I believe our fans are behind us.

    “I love my players and believe in my players.”

    End.

  52. andy1886,

    I was 14 around that time and remember many years of mediocrity after the excitement of ’79 and European adventure. The thrill was standing on the North bank singing songs which other posters have lamented after our Highbury departure.
    Why did we bother leaving?
    To compete. But really if you recall we were always mediocre for many years.
    Why are your expectations so high?
    I can’t remember a season under AW we have not been competitive and I don’t mean runners up. I mean a good team. We were shit for many years.
    Why destroy him? Why be so miserable?
    When did you start your campaign?
    He has elevated our club to a level I never imagined when I was 14.
    We were Cup chancers then.

  53. How you managed to get “Flowery Twats” out of “Faulty Towers” is beyond me Yogi, but a little poetic licensing is always allowed. 😁

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