Feeling Invincible, Arsène On Ox and the Media

Speaking at the Soccerex shindig earlier this week, David Dein recalled the following tale,

“In 2014, I was hosting a dinner at the World Cup in Brazil. Gilberto Silva and Edu were my guests. I said to Gilberto, ‘what was it like playing in the Invincibles team?’

“He said to me, ‘Mr Dein, I’ve thought about this and I’ll give you an example’. And he stood up for this. 

“He said to me, ‘when we were in the corridor waiting to go out on the pitch, we would all be in a line, with Patrick Vieira first, then Jens Lehmann, then Thierry [Henry], then Kolo [Toure]. 

“‘We would see the opposition opposite us. Patrick, just before it was time to go out, would give a knowing nod to Thierry and then it would pass down to Jens and to Kolo. We’d all give a nod and know we’re going to do it today, we’re going to beat the opposition. We would turn around to the opposition and see the sense, almost, of fear in their eyes. We just felt the confidence’.

“And from game to game, they didn’t feel they were going to get beaten.”

The boot is firmly on the other foot this season. Walking into the tunnel and seeing two left backs, two right backs and a £50m player not in the starting line-up will bolster the opposition, not intimidate. Would that we could get back to a level where confidence among the players was high.

Reconvening at London Colney this week, it’s reported that Wenger has been using different ‘systems’ which suggests that using 3 – 4 – 3 is a short-lived experiment. Unless Arsène has something more unusual up his sleeve, a flat back four is set to return at some point.

Which I have no issue with particularly.

On Lines of Clear Confusion

The problem is not the system, it’s the players and its implementation. Wenger fielded two full backs in the middle despite having fit central defenders; that’s the problem, not the formation. That’s also the hallmark of a manager who isn’t ‘sold’ on the formation or the players at his disposal.

We know his appeasement of Oxlade-Chamberlain failed; the tales since that transfer tell how foolish a policy it was anyway with the club standing accused of not taking the player’s words seriously. When they did, the reaction of the manager was of a man scorned, who realises that he lost at least three points as a result of fielding a makeshift defence to keep a player happy.

It’s (hopefully) in the past now and Wenger has to adjust the squad which remains at the club. The media will focus on the likes of Alexis and Mesut Özil but the reality is their situations are a minor distraction. We know they are leaving – certainly in the former’s case while the latter’s silence says it all – so it’s not such an issue. The bigger concern is the team selection and the bizarre omissions / inclusions which brought about the poor start to the season.

At his press conference, Arsène identified Alexis’ state of mind as a key issue for the club. His international duty sounds like it was a chore with back-to-back defeats and press criticism. Is he bothered by it? We’ll see; he was certainly unfit at Anfield which makes the decision to leave Lacazette on the bench all the more baffling. What’s done is done; that we’ve learned from it is the most important aspect.

A Cold Wind Blows

There was a hint Jack Wilshere might be involved in tomorrow’s match. Is his return to fitness prompting the look at other systems?

Whatever the club hoped for when Wenger renewed his deal, the seismic change needed didn’t happen. Wenger was no more the catalyst Ivan spoke of than before. It’s business as usual; the new boss is the same as the old boss.

In his eyes, the media is still the root cause of discontent between the fans and the club. It’s not; he had a very short honeymoon period after the renewal of his contract. Unless we had became an efficient winning machine over the summer, it was always going to be a quick return to the fractious atmosphere. Anyone who expected things to improve was naive at best.

Two abysmal performances set the tone for the season and the transfer window didn’t help; there are still glaring holes in the squad in the same positions as last season. Even winning games isn’t enough to mask the problems we have. The lack of confidence in him doesn’t need the media to take root; it’s there already. They are, for the most part, reflecting the situation. Some feed off it but it’s a sideshow.

We’d all be happy if Arsenal were challenging for the title but the inertia, of seeing the same season time and again, which leads most of us to think Arsène ran his course long ago.

While Stan maybe happy with us plodding into mediocrity, fans never will be nor should they be: it’s the passion for the club he lacks and despite owning a number of sports ‘franchises’, he’ll never understand.

Finally, over at Dad’s Jukebox there’s a new post in the series Jukebox Classics. This time, it’s the songs The Specials covered.

’til Tomorrow.

60 thoughts on “Feeling Invincible, Arsène On Ox and the Media

  1. Thanks Yogi, another good un.

    The man is really getting desperate now. Why didn’t we all realise that the Arsenal malaise is not he fault if the players, not the fault of the system, not the fault of the manager, no it’s the fault of the media!

    With apologies to The Jackson’s…..

    Don’t blame it on the players
    Don’t blame it on the manager
    Don’t blame it on the system
    Blame it on the media…..🎶

  2. Liverpool’s best player had his head turned by Barca so Klopp decided to leave him out until his head was right.
    I fully expect Coutinho to miss the City game even though he featured in both games for Brasil. Klopp will say Coutinho isn’t fully fit of course, and that maybe true to a certain extent, but the main reason he won’t feature is because Klopp has a game plan against City and he’s been working on it without Coutinho, and he’s not just gonna throw the player into the mix cold turkey the way Wenger did with Alexis.

    Klopp did this last season against Chelsea away and has throughout his Dortmund tenure. Players unavailable for training in the run up to important games usually don’t participate in these games even if pronounced fit on game day, no matter how key the may be.

    Compare that to what Wenger does and you’ll have a clear picture why Arsenal look disjointed half the time when facing top opposition.

  3. I refuse to listen to Arsene Wenger anymore, I hear his words, but I don’t pay attention to what he is saying. Like YW said, why play a makeshift defense? What confidence does that inspire ?

    I noted after the Leicester game, that Arsenal’s application of 3-4-3 was flawed. Stoke showed it and also our imbalanced selection, and Liverpool crowned it, with the manager doing a total cock up of leaving the best striker on the bench in favor of ‘he who must not shoot’;

    At times I wonder why we bother at all, but it is the life of a fan.

    I would welcome Jack back into the starting line-up. He is one of our possession specialists from a different era. Like Mike SA remarked yesterday, we don’t play ugly or positive these days. If Jack returns then we might see our possession play in the midfield improving. Would Arsene play Jack, Elneny and Ozil ? or is it destined to be Jack, Ramsey & Ozil ? or Jack, Xhaka & Ozil ?or Jack, Coquelin and Ozil? it would be interesting to see Jack back in contention.

  4. Morning,

    That story gave me goosebumps and brought to mind why I fell in love with arsenal and pretty much loathe Wenger. That collective aura was dismantled way too easily and quickly when harnessing that energy would have been the easiest more obvious route.
    Instead of heirs to the invincibles, via Wengers ego we don’t even have a bunch of nearly men, we’re that far off the pace.

    I like Jack, hope he can build on his loan.

  5. Listening to Wenger talk about Sanchez posibly signing a new contract with Arsenal, you almost have to feel sorry for Wenger.

    Cesc , Nasry, RVP, Ox, and now Sanchez…, I honestly believe Wenger when he says he thinks Sanchez may extend.

    It’s as if your partner in a relationship tells you they don’t love you any more and want out, but you keep insisting they don’t know what they are talking about and the future is still bright.

    I used to think Wenger was just being clever to say those players weren’t leaving under any circumstances in order to extract the maximum fee , but it’s clear the man is delusional.

  6. Whilst a lot of people wanted AW to walk away in May I think he bought himself a little time with the end of season upturn in results and the obvious FA Cup triumph. Of course there was no option for fans but to allow him the time as he was awarded the new 2 year deal, we heard of change coming down the lines and were briefly heartened by early summer transfer activity.

    Personally this has all been completely blown away by the simply bizarre actions of the opening weeks of the season – the simply ridiculous team selections where the basic structure of the team was totally compromised to allow a want away player to be in the first 11, the behaviour of the club in the final weeks and days of the transfer window and related to that the decision to only strengthen the technical side of the club by 2 players and to then decide to leave both out of the side for the first real test of the season. The ultimate debacle being Sanchez who under no circumstances would be sold, then of course he was, then he wasn’t.

    Now a club which appears to be run on a very unique set of financial morals will be about £60m down on what they could have been, factor in the 50/50 chance that next season could well be another one without CL football and the current situation only worsens.

    I have no faith at all in the manager. Yes we will have good results over the season and our minds will flirt with the concept of success and progress, AW will regale us with lines about his trust in the players and their mental strength. But then again we will have bad results and some shocking results and the anger and vitriol will just again rise to the surface. It is difficult to accept that scenario and to look forward to the season.

  7. The problem remains Wenger instructing the midfielders to bomb forward needlessly to support the attack. The Arsenal style of passing to death before you score a goal was an invention of the Fabregas era, and it never won a premier league trophy. On youtube, our goals from the Invincibles era were scored from counter attacks, or from through balls played long to an attacker who had just 1 or 2 defenders to beat,and they scored.

    Elneny’s pass for the first goal of the season was an immense cross, Xhaka’s pass for Ramsey’s goal was a long ball into the box, so you would really begin to wonder if Wenger with his ‘play well and win well’ talk is truly in tune with the way direct balls create scoring chances. When the aim surely is to score and win.

    Wenger’s insistence on a system that could work, which has never brought the consistent prize of a premier league trophy, which he constantly undermines by never buying the right players to complete the tactical masterpiece, is baffling and it is the reason no premier league trophies have come since the departure of Patrick Vieira.

    Wenger has an eye for talent, but he does an awful job implementing tactics.

  8. Tom,

    He’s certainly in denial but he’s also clever at deflecting criticism so that practically nothing is his fault.

    If we do switch to a back four Arsene will have to choose a first choice left back. Does he go with one of his most solid , consistent performers of recent years or opt for the promising new boy ?

    As for the Ox appeasement , it gets more ridiculous when it was probably certain that he’d have been benched as soon as he signed a new deal.

    Bournemouth have struggled so far , so I expect us to win , but I really wouldn’t be surprised if they give us all sorts of problems.

  9. PW
    Sure, he’s being clever at manipulating facts. This was the main factor for me to get my ass off the Wenger in, Wenger out fence.
    It’s one thing to be economical with the truth – most people do it when it suits their agenda. It’s quite another to blatantly shift blame onto others to avoid any responsibility for your own shortcomings.

    The Ox saga was more about PR than anything else in my mind.
    Fairly young and talented player opting out of Arsenal for less money to further his career under Klopp?
    This is a first , and a huge blow to Wenger’s ego.
    He can’t spin this one into the usual big oil sugar daddy financial doping bs.

  10. Bournemouth at home is one of the dozen or so games Arsenal should win comfortably based on talent alone.
    These are the sort of games Wenger needs to build up the momentum because sure as hell he won’t do it against the top six clubs as his record against them proves.

  11. Steve,

    Not unsurprisingly the spinning from the club and manager has begun the instant the TW closed. As you mention we are effectively £60m down yet the club using their pet newspaper The Star to announce that they will be back in for Lemar in January. There are two main problems with that for anyone daft enough to take it at face value. One, Wenger has already indicated that he didn’t want to come to Arsenal – why would that change? And two, without that £60m how can a club ‘with no money for big transfers’ (leaked via Ornstein) afford a £92m player?

    Fact is both the manager and the club will continue to spin and bullshit the fans (war chest anyone?) and as long as the stadium remains full they wont give a damn. Give us a few wins during a relatively easy set of fixtures over the next couple of months and we’ll see the nauseating ‘Arsene Knows’ banners at the ground and hear the old refrain “be careful what you wish for”…..

  12. “Infamy! Infamy! They’ve all got it in for me!”

    Anyone else think of Arsene as Kenneth Williams uttering this as he complained about the press setting fans against him?

  13. andy1886,

    Yes I found the new Lemar stories to be laughable, I only saw a linked headline and did not even bother to read the full story. Thankfully I am old enough and seasoned enough to recognise it for the bollocks it is.

    Don’t worry everybody, after months of dithering back and forth with £5m increments we are now preparing to steam in January with a £90m offer. Hopefully he will agree this time.

    In the meantime your final paragraph was so on the money as to be depressing.
    p.s. Eh City, sorry to bother you, any chance of that £60m please????

  14. Tom,


    Wouldn’t surprise me if we took the £20m and then ‘nearly signed’ Lemar before indicating that we’d ‘definitely’ get him in the summer (honest, just renew that season ticket okay?)

    It is depressing. The only hope is that it could go one of two ways, either we make a real challenge for the title (that is within touching distance come May – I wouldn’t put money on it) or we implode and the season is a huge clusterfucking disaster resulting in a change of manager come the summer.

    The worst case scenario for me is that we muddle through, finish top six but miles off the top and Wenger just about hangs on to repeat it all over again for another season.

  15. Wenger has been widely ridiculed in the media for his bizarre team selections, full backs at centre back, right backs at left back, midfielder at wing back, record signing striker left on the bench alongside a left back whose position was usurped by a right back etc etc.

    He has had the relative quiet of the international break to ponder on his decisions and it is to be hoped that he has come to the conclusion that on balance it is probably best to select players in their regular positions and to make the most of his summer transfer window acquisitions.

    Whether we play 343, 424 or any other combination is immaterial so long as the players selected know their role and stick to the game plan, always supposing that there is a game plan to stick to.

    I do hope that the manager and the squad do not accept the apparent wisdom that Bournemouth are there for the taking and are ready to surrender the three points on offer.

    All of the squad should be match fit, none should need a rest and all should be raring to go. Wenger should pick his strongest starting eleven and be prepared to make early substititions if things do not go as he would wish.

    Despite his desire to see his side play entertaining football, Wenger needs to ensure that the first and only priority is winning the game.

  16. Muddle through , finish top six. Wenger complains about some unlucky , special circumstances ( referees’ decisions) and untimely injuries to justify missing out on top four by a handful of points.

    When asked if he will continue next season , he’ll say the usual about always honoring his contracts , being hungry and committed more than ever before to take the club to the next level.

  17. Tom,

    You may recall Jake Humphries kept asking him in an interview what ‘the next level’ actually meant and all Wenger could say was “it means the next level” because it was only a platitude and meant absolutely nothing of substance. The problem is that he doesn’t even have a plan, he makes it up as he goes along. If he had one then fair enough, but this is a man just desperate to keep his job (the idea that PSG would have him is laughable). Ultimately I think that it would be best for him if he left as well as best for the club. Struggling on in a job where you no longer have the skills or the answers to perform properly is no fun at all and at his age it will almost certainly impact on his physical and mental health.

  18. I’ve made a conscious effort not to tune in to anything Wenger or the club say anymore. Quotes from this site is all i allow my myself to be put through. Wenger is the ultimate master of the blame game. Blame the ref, blame the pitch,blame the fixture schedule, blame UEFA rules, blame the technical department, blame the media, blame the fans. When he finally goes we’ll be able to add blame the board, blame the owners.

  19. will best managers we know – interested to work at arsenal following such nightmares and undecided board about which direction to go ? opinions please from mau
    ritius an small island indian ocean – former uk colony – we love epl english football overall

  20. Thanks Yogi!

    Can I just ask the question when Ox became good enough that we need to change the whole team to appease him? The team selection was nothing short of catastrophic and the leaving out of Lacazette and Sead was nothing short of stupid.

    Now is the time to get it right and time to get it together against Bournemouth.

  21. Orson Kaert,


    Wenger is stubborn enough to stick to his guns even though it is obvious to all that he is wrong. I would not be surprised at all if Lacazette started on the bench again, with Kolasinac either playing as CB or on the bench as well. It’s also interesting to note that in a recent fluff piece on Elneny the quote was that he would play as centre back. or midfield. Does that mean Wenger now sees him as a centre back first?

    Wenger’s dig at the Legends is interesting in that most of those criticizing him in the media at the moment were not invented by him.

  22. Klopp leaves Couthino out because they have been working on a plan to play City without him successful or not it’s the right thing to do, would Arsene do it? Not a chance we play a an unfit, sulking, want away player, and drop the club record signing,

  23. C,


    You of course know the answer but he was never good enough. The contract stance the club took with AOC, and the resultant decision to play him in 3 games, was beyond farce. For him to have played against a side he then joined a few days later I cannot even find the words to explain.

    He should have been sold in the opening weeks of the window when he had rejected the offers the club made to him. To then go back cap in hand and increase and then increase again our offer was amateur and must have even had the player and his agent wondering what sort of operation they were dealing with.

    To deliberately compromise the team selection to further appease him for me was the final straw. I had been willing to accept his two year deal and see it out, surely his last, but now I just want him out now – though I accept this won’t happen.

    In the meantime I will follow with a degree of curiosity the next few weeks of AOC’s career. I can’t see him dislodging any of Henderson/Can/Wijnaldum nor do I see him as a better option than the returning Coutinho or Lallana. Love to know what Klopp told him.

  24. Andy
    I do recall.
    One of the most painfull moments ( must’ve been) for any Wenger supporter who still believe the man is always full of insights and quick on his feet.

    I haven’t heard anything remotely original from Wenger in a long time, even though his sycophants will say otherwise , his latest presser included.

    The Summer TW should end before ,or on the season’s start – a no brainier most of us have been banging on about it for years.
    The January TW should be scrapped – another popular idea
    The FFP was a joke to begin with and most people knew it ,yet Wenger only now has caught on.
    But if you listened to the likes of posters who visit and post on pro Wenger sites, you might be excused for thinking the man has just invented a totally new football formation no one has ever heard of.

  25. Come to think of it , he did invent a totally new formation.
    Two left backs at CB and right back, right back at left back, holding mid at forward , record signing striker on the bench ……. , a total visionary.

  26. Great news in the Star that we’ll be in for Lemar in January might be just what we need to help stave off relegation.

  27. The longer Wenger stays at Arsenal the lower his standing in the game will be when he finally quits. He must know that with each bizarre team selection and each resultant dropped point his attractiveness to other clubs takes a dip. Without a change in ownership, Wenger is here for life.

  28. DALM,

    ….except that Monaco have said they’re not selling this season, and they certainly don’t need the money, and the player blew Wenger a raspberry when he made the mythical €100 million bid on the last day of the transfer window.

  29. Stopped reading after you stated that we played full backs when had fit central defenders. Per couldn’t play because of the gash and holding started but had a mare.

    Kozzer, Mustafi and Gabriel were injured. An arsenal blogger would know these facts….. unless you just wanna bash the manager for hits and use any argument to do so, no matter if it’s fact or fiction.

    Sorry but I have been reading your blog for years. This type of writing will just get you hits from other teams fans like arsenal fan TV do and not from loyal gooners.

  30. Ice

    > Stopped reading after you stated that we played full backs when had fit central defenders.
    > Per couldn’t play because of the gash and holding started but had a mare.
    > Kozzer, Mustafi and Gabriel were injured. An arsenal blogger would know these facts…..

    Sorry sunshine but Mustafi was on the bench against Leicester: https://www.arsenal.com/fixture/arsenal/2017-aug-11/leicester-city#!teams
    At Stoke, we played two left backs in the centre; on the bench was one Per Mertesacker while Rob Holding was scapegoated for Leicester scoring three times: https://www.arsenal.com/fixture/arsenal/2017-aug-19/stoke-city#!teams
    Liverpool, look at that bench again…: https://www.arsenal.com/fixture/arsenal/2017-aug-27/liverpool#!teams

    Don’t tell me that Wenger was forced into playing left backs in the centre and right backs on the left. He chose to do it and we paid the price.

  31. ice,

    Kozzer was banned.



    There were clearly other options to play as CB rather than put 2 LBs in the middle. Monreal has been doing OK as a left-sided CB to be fair to him, but to expect him to hold down the position in the middle of defence is suicidal. A pet journalist did make noise that Chambers had some kind of thigh strain, but that has never been mentioned in either press conferences, or on the website. Chambers’ own Facebook page has been highlighting how happy he was to be back in training at the club after his exploits for England. Not a word about any injury.

  32. YW,

    Never let the actual facts get in the way of a good story/delusion 😂😂😂

    I wonder what the excuse is for playing a RB at LB and benching the best LB at the club having not actually even tried to play him at LB at all?

  33. Steve,

    I agree with all of that. The fact that the team was changed to appease him was absurd if you ask me but then to play him against Liverpool after the performance he had put in the week before and indirectly it bench Sead was even more laughable.

    I actually am in agreement with you about Arsene too, while I accept and will back him (not blindly) because he is the manager and has a contract but while I hope its his last we all know differently.

    As far as Ox at Liverpool, I think the one quote that I found most interesting was that he talked about all the tracking back work and how he would be free to push forward and be an ACM at Liverpool; has he not watched Liverpool, Mane and Salah on the flanks track back and have incredible workrate and their midfield of Wjanidum(who I so desperately wanted when Newcastle got relegated)/Can/Henderson are a hard working group and the former 2 are better than they get credit for in the attack. With Coutinho and Lallana, I think they have better options and the biggest thing that Ox faces is that Mane, Firmino, Salah, Wjanidum, Can, Lallana and Coutinho not to mention Sturridge ALL have end product but are just as devastating if not more than Ox in the attack.

    HAHAHaHA Clyne is out injured and if Klopp sees Ox as his replacement for Milner than we will see Ox the RB for Liverpool.

  34. DALM,

    I saw that and found it quite interesting that the reports say a deal is in place for him to join Arsenal. I might have to track that and see if there are really any legs to it.

  35. Wavey,

    Chambers has to be the most difficult situation of them all. I know somebody said that he had a minor injury yet unless I missed it, I haven’t seen anything from Arsene or the .COM that says he has or had an injury so I’m not sure why he wasn’t included at all.

  36. To be fair to AOC his decision seems mostly football development related, play at Arsenal and sink into obscurity or play with Liverpool with an actual coach and absorb a tonne of knowledge from the likes of Salah and Mane.

  37. Pep just confirmed that Arsene and Arsenal wanted Sterling in the swap deal and Pep told Arsene to fuck off he wasn’t given up Sterling.

  38. Gabriel has given an interview and stated:

    “At Arsenal [I] deserved more. They did not give me the minutes I earned, nor did my colleagues understand why they sent me to the bench. I talked to my family and decided to leave.”

  39. Klopp has spoken about Ox and his VERSATILITY, probably the last thing Ox wanted to hear because its exactly what Arsene was saying and part of the reason Ox himself said he moved so he could play as an ACM which ISN’T where Klopp sees him:

    “He fits really well in the squad,” Klopp added. “And that means he immediately fits really well in different line-ups.

    “In the system we play in the moment he can play four positions: both number eights and both wingers.

    “We play in a specific way and we want to use him in these positions.”

  40. Congratulations to Jimmy Anderson, 500 test wickets for England.

    What a way to get it, clean bowled hitting middle stump, against an opening batsman and at Lords too. Fantastic!

  41. C,

    Actually I think Chambers own Facebook page is the most damning for those claiming he had a minor niggle. Not a hint of it on his page.

  42. Another modern midfield BOSS has retired with the announcement of Cambiasso who was nothing short of a joy to watch. Hell even in his twilight years at Leicester, his class, quality and futboling IQ were on display even if he didn’t have the legs to play 90 mins.

  43. C,

    Yeah, that’s the report in the Daily Star that I mentioned earlier. AFC use them to spin all their bullshit war chest stories when the natives start to get restless. Based on previous form I would give it approximately zero credibility.

  44. andy1886,

    Sorry I missed your post earlier about it but that’s crazy. Yea I know how Arsenal are with the Daily Star and its quite interesting that now that would put it out, but then again that’s Arsenal and the Daily Star for you. I think that it will be quite interesting if it did have any legs but it seems convenient given how the window closed with everything.

  45. C,

    The worrying thing is that there doesn’t seem to be much noise that the club would bring in someone new. The press have clearly been given a press release as the reports out so far mention Huss Fahmy and also state that Gazidis has taken up an office at London Colney. This sounds very much like they aren’t going to bring in a replacement at all. So more people involved who have tenuous links to football at best.

  46. Colts,

    Loathe Wenger?!?!?
    He brought those players to the club to create something special
    Of the 4 Kolo perhaps the most inspired
    I remember one of first games (v Liverpool) which he just exploded on to the scene. Not sure what position he was even playing – he was just everywhere
    And to paid his energy with Sol. It worked.
    Your choice of course but seems a strange person to loathe with people like Trump or May around

  47. Tom,

    Well I thought this was an interesting pro-Arsenal site with varied opinions, a consistently thoughtful blog with often witty posters.

    Unless YW says otherwise it is not simply an anti-Wenger site

    I will wait for any announcement there

  48. C,

    I say bring that kid up into the first team and “He stays!”. And that’s not just because of the freekick…

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