STONE COLD FRIDAY: The Natives Are Restless

The stage was set. A mediocre performance 5 days earlier that saw Arsenal torn a new one at Wembley. A team bereft of confidence and ideas with the players doing very good impressions of a Chuckle Brothers and Keystone Cops collaboration. Players who don’t seem to respond to the Gaffa anymore. A team hell-bent on inducing stress for many Arsenal fans faint of heart. Fans who didn’t know which Arsenal would turn up or whether they would have to do the “fire drill” exit at half-time. Hell, we even had the dreaded voodoo blue making an appearance on the night with the pitch markings.

I was trying to think when Arsenal last won a game convincingly. That thought was however interrupted with my sympathy for YW and the number of times he has had to write match reviews when there was nothing to review. Arséne would, of course, insist that his players have the usual flotsam – mental strength, character, belief – you know the garden variety spiel about ingredients of success. The last three matches would force a head scratch if any of Wenger’s ingredients were used to describe the abject performances.

Can Anyone Left at Arsenal Switch Off The Lights

What is there to say about last night’s game. Two Silva’s and a Sane have a bit of a nursery rhyme thing going on; if it wasn’t for the fact that they were City players. Absolutely clinical, ruthless and no-nonsense approach to killing an opponent in a flash. Of course, it didn’t help that Mustafi, Koscielny and Bellarin were turned inside-out and had no idea how quickly the ball moved from one City player to the back of Peter Cech’s net. These are defenders we expect more from, but in fairness, the signs were always there. Only that lesser teams haven’t been more clinical and ruthless.

I got thinking, is there anyone left in the Arsenal hierarchy who care about the pride of the club? Anyone to keep the lights on? We are so bereft of leadership, confidence, ideas, commitment and hunger, especially on the pitch. We huffed and puffed with a shot on target here, a cut-back from the byline there, but to what end? Our players don’t even have the confidence to score penalties. That’s not even counting the shooting opportunities Arsenal had that the players preferred to try to walk into the goal.

Missing: Arsenal Playmaker, late 20’s and on 300k a week

Seen him anyone? He hasn’t turned up in recent big matches. It’s certainly not unreasonable to expect him to turn up; or for our club record signing not to miss penalties or sitters 2 yards from goal. Any tactician would have told Wenger that the City central defenders are not that blessed with pace, and Aubameyang has the pace, nous and skill to run beyond them. Yet we keep the same crap, different day tactical train. Yet again, we didn’t move the ball quick enough allowing City to hunt in packs and get back into defensive positions.

Several times last night, our players misplaced passes and immediately dropped their heads; the more logical option is to close down or get back into defensive mode. City had the ability to transition defence into attack at frightening speed. One minute, Arsenal have a shot on target aimed straight at Ederson’s throat; and 6 seconds later Sergio Aguero is hitting Cech’s side netting. It was galling to find ourselves chasing shadows as City managed the game brilliantly. They let us have the ball in less dangerous areas; they slowed the game down when it needed to, and they showed they were capable of attacking at will.

We’re Most Definitely In Boiling Frog Mode

You’ve heard of the boiling frog syndrome. Throw one in a pot of hot water, and it will jump out immediately. Put a frog in cold water and slow burn the pot to boiling point. The frog will get so comfortable it won’t even notice the rising temperature or its imminent death. That’s what happens when you get fat, lazy and complacent.

The Arsenal board and manager have got fat, lazy and complacent and rightfully, the natives are restless. They’ve been at the same ‘ole same ‘ole, it’s hard for them to tell the wood from the trees. Clearly, this has filtered down to players.

I’m finding it really hard to indulge in this mediocrity destined for the long grass in mid-table. We don’t have a right to win every single game; but the least we can expect and demand is that while on our payroll, the manager and his players actually turn up for work. In football, that means applying yourself to the level expected, working as a cohesive unit and not dropping your head down with every sucker punch. While we’re at it, we can cut out the silly individual mistakes that lead to goals, or for a change, being more clinical in front of goal.

It really is time for profound change. I’m not supportive of Wenger being sacked mid-season – like Stan will ever do that. Let him finish the season and give him the dignity and honour to get a golden handshake or a soft landing. He has been a good servant of the club and will be remembered for his impact in shaping the Arsenal that we love. But there cometh a time when the club is bigger than any one individual.

Try and enjoy the weekend. I know it depends on which Arsenal turns up at the AMEX on Sunday.

65 thoughts on “STONE COLD FRIDAY: The Natives Are Restless

  1. Great report -one minor disagreement -time to go now, let someone else work to sort the detritus of the team and build for next season

  2. Dalm,

    Absolutely – go now and give the club a chance to start to rebuild. Leave it until the summer, a World Cup summer at that, and we can pretty much write off next season too.

    As for respect, dignity, honour, well how much respect has he shown the fans recently? Dignity? How dignified has our demise been? Honour? If he had any he would have left years ago. And he doesn’t need a ‘golden handshake’, it’s hardly as if he’s been paid a pittance is it?

    Just go. Now.

  3. Good morning,

    I have to agree with DALM, I think it’s time to go now. I think he lost the opportunity to bow out with dignity and honour when he demonstrated his lack of regard for the fans.

    I’ve just been looking at the permutations for participation in European competitions next season. The FA Cup winners go into the Europa group stages directly, whilst the League Cup winners go into the third qualifying round stage. If either, or both, cup(s) are won by a team in the top 5 the spot in the Europa League is passed to the next team down the league table. So if we finish 6th we should at least be in the third qualifying round of the Europa League due to City winning the League Cup (and likely the League). If Tottenham, United or Chelsea win the FA Cup we would be into the group stages of the Europa League automatically if we end up in 6th. Does that mean that the winners of the FA Cup effectively determines whether, or not the Board’s mini money spinner, the Emirates Cup, goes ahead? Truly ridiculous.

    As an aside, that must mean that the teams chasing 7th place will be pushing hard for it on the basis that if one of those three above does win the FA Cup there is another Europa spot.

  4. Yes I agree with the above however forget waiting until the end of the season. Fans have waited long enough for “things to turn around” etc. It is time this boxer who refuses to go down, even although he is being pummelled to a pulp, be assisted and shown the door. Arsenal cannot continually harp back to the past as an excuse as to why he must continue his tenure. Whilst all the other clubs have managed to evolve and move with the times it would appear Wenger has stayed rooted to how he started. Everybody knows your game plan and acts accordingly, meanwhile Arsenal have no Plan B, in fact they don’t have any backup plan to bounce back like they used to. I used to get fired up when Arsenal lost now I just feel resigned to it, I expect it, how sad is that? Wenger is in denial about how he can change things – he can’t. No matter who Arsenal sign, it won’t make any difference, change at the top, training structures etc need new methods, new innovative input, new vision from someone else before Arsenal become a foregone conclusion.

  5. Good writeup

    He has to go now. Fuck, you could appoint no manager and just the fear based on the Great Unsackable One being sacked would turn the performances up a notch.

    This is actually not a bad team of players on paper. Just that their mentality and discipline is utterly dogshite. This is not even a new problem, as it goes back at least a decade. My grandma would have got more out of these players than Wenger right now.

    If we have to make a couple of additions, WC year is just a cop out. Ever heard anyone but Wenger talking about it? Me neither.

  6. Yes – GO NOW!

    Great report-one minor disagreement-time to go now, let someone else work to sort the detritus of the team and build for next season

  7. I made the mistake of posting comments on the BBC website. Wow, the support for Wenger seems to vastly outweigh those wanting him to go, with anyone questioning him shouted down. Apparently we shouldn’t expect anything anyway. How are we supposed to compete when they have all that money?

  8. “If this is as low as it gets for Arsenal, then that’s a measure of just how much Wenger has built at Arsenal.

    If Arsene had never arrived at Arsenal back in ’96, we might now be another Spurs or Everton. Would anyone swap the success and joy we’ve had for theirs?

    It’s time for some respect, patience and understanding, not a knee jerk reaction or witch hunt.”

    “As far as I can see and forgive me if I am wrong but Arsene is probably at the club 24/7, day in day out, lives and breathes it, works with the players and the youth system.

    Whoever wrote this saw a 3-0 loss against a cheque book team and ran screaming for the hills.

    A very polarised view and not rooted in reality or with any longevity appreciation”

    “The day Wenger has as much money to spend as an oil state, is the day I will accept he is not good enough.”

    “Give it a rest.

    They lost to the best team in Europe who were in irrepressible form last night. Plenty of possession and shots and not that bad a performance, for where they are mentally.

    They played well enough for GN to admire Man City’s cynical fouling through the midfield to stop half a dozen decent counter attacks.”


  9. Wavey,

    There are still plenty of ostriches out there.

    At the 70 minute watershed I was surprised that Wenger didn’t do his usual substitutions. Had he forgotten? Had he decided that the team were playing well enough? Surely it was time to pull the woeful Xhaka, throw another forward on, or let Ozil go and sit on his Smaugian pile of gold?

  10. Wavey,

    What amazes me is the ignorance of many of these people. Money? We’ve as much as Chelsea who have won two of the last three titles. Best team in Europe? Really? On what measure? Certs for the CL title then (lol). Cynical fouling? I guess they must have been asleep during the first part of Wenger’s reign when we won titles then because we used to be very good at it. And who gives a toss how many hours he puts in – there are no points for trying hard if you are incompetent. And yeah, of course we were nothing before Wenger, just like the Spuds even though we’d won two titles in the decade previous (compared with no title for nearly 50 years).

    What a bunch of brainwashed idiots.

  11. Ah, yes, Özil… waiting for Mister Ramsey to give him the ball and do his job. Ramsey here, Ramsey there, but Ramsey nowhere where he should be! Funny to not put in question the attitude of our MIDFIELDER spending his time ahead of our striker. But well, an easy target, this Özil. Should have leave in january though, i agree.

  12. Wavey
    I realized a lot of people lived in denial, a long-long time ago. I was told “never change a winning team” there’s no trophy hunt this season, as things stand. Imagine City supporters asking for Wenger to stay, it is because with our resources and status, Wenger is good for other teams, a stagnant force that can’t compete with its peers.

    All the lies about not having money is pure horsesh*t, any sustainable model with the manager on about 10 million pounds a year is a big operation.

    Arsenal’s rot has got to stop.

  13. Well that was painful on so many levels but I’m salving my emotional sores with the hopeful thought of Leonardo Jardim’s imminent arrival which then begs the question of which ‘goodies’ he might choose to bring with him from the Monaco team.

  14. No news on AFC ho hum. Plus Ca Change

    I wonder if we are living through a 1950s B movie – ‘invasion of the body snatchers’ or similar – where all the players and management have been replaced…. or are we in a more recent TV show – The Walking Dead, which started well and has completely lost its way over the last couple of series – I could see a few of our well paid stars as zombies……

  15. Fell,
    We first need to see Wenger out, because there’s no honor left in the man. He won’t resign and the club must now sack him or watch the club decline further.

  16. When City hired Pep the deal was done around this time of year. Mancini finished the season but the transition started now(ish). Made him able to start transfer targeting early and look at what he was working with. Appreciate he was out of contract so perhaps easier to orchestrate but perhaps it’s beneficial for the team our new man comes from?

    Seems like a win win way of going about your business in a professional manner. Which means there’s a cat in hells chance of AFC doing it then

  17. Damon,

    If they were looking to begin that process it would mean paying him one year’s salary as compensation in the summer. It must surely be worth doing that for the sake of next season. I cannot see how we do everything in the summer and have a new manager come in who can do any work at bringing new faces in, or working with the players. It makes it worse that we are in a World Cup year, although a quality name at the helm may tempt some players to join up for the redevelopment of Arsenal.

  18. Wavey,

    I guess whoever wrote that forgot that Arsene has another job at BeIN and often times works there during the transfer window and the summer.

  19. Alex,

    Agree about Ramsey, honestly and I have said it as did Dixon (who is actually very good), Ramsey isn’t that good in midfield, not a good passer, will never be the link player but will always be willing to make a late run into the box. Funny thing is, when Ramsey gets into thr box, what comes of it…..

  20. Can’t Wenger be sacked based on incompetence ? I mean his contract should have some performance stipulations as basis for renewal and continuation. Like top 4 achievement or major trophy win each season or something like that ?

  21. If as rumoured Jardim was previously lined up as a replacement it does add another dimension to the failure of the Lemar transfer to reach fruition last season.

  22. Our record loss in a cup final followed by our record home PL defeat in the space of 4 days and he still won’t quit.

  23. Wey nice writing as always, Darius, but I am with the majority view this morning. Nothing would cheer me up about football than hearing that he has been sacked. I mean now, this moment.

  24. The last time I checked we are far closer to the bottom – 25 points than the top – 30 points.

    The second best thing would be for Wenger to be sacked today. The best thing would be to become Dr Who, travel back in time 10 years and sack Wenger then.

  25. Wavey,

    at 10.03

    At the end of the replies they have an article based on Lukaku’s tweet re an all star EPL game North vs South.
    Honestly how many of our players on current form would make the South team and who do you think would manage it? ( clue is he’s a few miles down the road)

  26. Diminished expectations. Darious’ frog in a pot.

    We used to be one of the best clubs in Europe. We were feared in the PL and regularly turned teams over. We were Arsenal as it can be.

    Then we became a top 4 side, whatever that means beyond the obvious that we were no longer competitive at the very top level.

    Within a couple of years we are now a side that scraps for a Europa Cup place. Another Everton, if you like.

    We have gone from being a top club, ambitious and bloody good to one where pundits are starting to say “Arsenal are a massive club with so much potential…” Potential? When did it come to this? When and how have we slid so far from what we were and what possible excuse can there be?

    None. That is the answer. Review the excuses. New stadium. No money. Billionaire owners. Oil States.

    Utter bollocks. Why did we move from Highbury? To bloody compete at the highest level wasn’t it? Now look where we are.

  27. Lovely post. But yeah, he needs to be sacked (with immediate effect). He’ll never leave of his own accord anyway. There was never going to be a happy ending to all this.

    Our decline goes on.

  28. Utter bollocks. Why did we move from Highbury? To bloody compete at the highest level wasn’t it? Now look where we are.
    Thanks Consolbob, true words.

  29. Thanks Darius,

    He has to go right now.

    He has totally under performed for well over a decade. The club owe him nothing but a kick up the Arse as he leaves.

  30. C,

    Yup, 30 points and a minus 50 goal difference compared to City. Any other big club and that’s a sackable offence, never mind that he has previous (8-2, Bayern thrashings, etc, etc.).

  31. andy1886,

    Yup and on top of that it’s almost looks like he doesn’t care as long as he sees out his contract. I’m sorry but this is absurd if anybody thinks that its getting better or he can turn it around. I mean the fact that he calls Ospina and Cech world class and sold Szczesny who Juve wanted should have been the start.

  32. C,

    And he makes it all about him. His contract etc. If he loves the club so much he should be doing what’s best for the club. Seeing out his contract clearly isn’t. His belief is that he can turn the fortunes of the club around, he has led it to where it is. He must see that it isn’t going to happen with him at the helm. Stand down and let someone else rebuild. Having the rest of the season to see what had available to them in the squad would surely make sense.

  33. Truly awesome post Darius. I must admit that I agree with everyone else and we should move on and appoint an interim manager for the rest of the season.

  34. There are several differences when you watch City play and compare them to us. The critical differences are the energy and commitment they put into playing defense and the tempo and speed they attack with. Their first 2 goals both started with Sane beating several Arsenal players and bombing down the left wing at pace leaving several of our players in his wake and getting the ball into the penalty area while we are disorganized and chasing shadows. On their first goal when Bernardo Silva gets the ball Kolasinac stood and watched while he cut inside on his stronger left foot and he had enough time and space to pick see where Cech was and pick his spot to aim for. Finishing is exponentially easier when you have time and space.

    The 2nd and 3rd goals they went from midway in their own defensive area to scoring in a few seconds. The 3rd goal was a perfect counterattack which gave them acres of open space in our penalty area becasue most of our defensive players were still desperately running backwards towards our own goal trying to catch up with the ball.

  35. People compare Wengerball to Pepball because Arsene’s teamscand Pep’s team both tend to have a lot of ball possession. However there are huge differences. The first is the energy and commitment on the defensive end.

    City is a possession team and we think of them scoring goals after complex long passing moves but the reality is they create their best high percentage chances because they move the ball forward with pace and get the ball into the penalty box before the defense can set up. We play at a much slower tempo and rely on our technical and passing skill to break down organized defenses and it looks great when it works but its very easy to defend against. They move the ball forward past the initial wave of defensive players so quickly that defensive teams do not have time to press them in City’s defensive side of the pitch.

  36. My gravatar changed for my last comment. That was still me.

    Yesterday Sane also demonstrated how valuable it can be to have a wide player who can make things happen with the ball at his feet. Selling Alexis and Ox has left us without a single player on the squad who can make something happen by himself. Our wide forwards don’t add pace, no width, they don’t help on defense, they don’t push the tempo or make things happen with the ball at their feet and they are not a threat to score.

  37. Wavey,

    That does make the most sense and I have and always will be a person who doesn’t call for somebody’s job but there are always exceptions and this is the exception, things are getting worst and people can moan all they want about the players but this has been going on since Cesc was having the team built around him and there has only been one constant. Your right, the best thing is to have a clean break of him and let the new manager see what they have in the team and what they don’t have. Damon pointed out that Pep was signed around this time, I think it would be the ideal situation to do the same with the new man at Arsenal. Clearly things are in motion for Arsene not to still be here and I know it will sound strange but Stan and/or Josh wouldn’t have signed off on all of on Sanllehi, Mislintat and the new contract man if things weren’t in motion for Arsene to be leaving and doing so sooner rather than later.

    Josh has actually played a huge part in Stan’s American clubs and if you go by that then we will have a new manager and it will not be some experienced
    ‘help through transition’ manager but it will be somebody who is highly regarded as a brilliant up and coming mind. When you look at the Rams, Nuggets, Avalanche and Rapids; they have all recently (within the past 1-3 years) fired their experienced manager and gone with a 30-45 year old manager and has done so with quite a lot of success and the funny thing is, it actually happened similar to how it is happening now at Arsenal: older experienced manager was coming to the sad end, pieces in the background were pushed out and new men brought in, Josh reviewed and shuffled about in the club, new manager/coach was brought in and success(this is the part I think is actually obtainable with the current players and a couple more additions). Hope springs eternal.

  38. True C, we just need them to publicly announce the end of this disgrace of a manager. There would be so much rejoicing, if we hear Jardim is coming in June to take over.

    As it stands we lack wingers and dribblers.

  39. consolsbob:

    We have gone from being a top club, ambitious and bloody good to one where pundits are starting to say “Arsenal are a massive club with so much potential…”

    Isn’t that the same thing they say about Newcastle?

    And Leeds?

    So much to look forward to then……………..?

    If they’re looking for a young manager looking to prove himself I wouldn’t be upset if they gave Vieira a shit at it.

    I’d like to see some strong support around him as well, Keown, Bergkamp, and maybe a few others?

  40. Shot, not shit!

    Oh fuck, that really blew any scrap gravitas my suggestion might have had.


  41. Alex Ice Cream:
    The last time I checked we are far closer to the bottom – 25 points than the top – 30 points.

    The second best thing would be for Wenger to be sacked today. The best thing would be to become Dr Who, travel back in time 10 years and sack Wenger then.

    If I became doc who I’d be taking a dalek with me…

  42. For those interested, George Graham’s nadir 1994/95 season saw him sacked (21/02/95). At that point, we were 28 points off the top of the table.

    Just leaving that out there for consideration.

  43. YW,

    And he’d won the title less than five years previous, not fourteen (plus a European trophy, something that Wenger failed to do in more than twenty attempts).

  44. Wenger is starting to look like the unwanted guest who never knows when to leave.
    He is destroying his legacy, and delaying our recovery, which as it stands , looks like 5 years away.

  45. Hearing guys singing “ where were you when you were shit” to the Citeh supporters , did seem slightly ironic to me.

  46. Dalm

    It is what this lot need for a few months: a disciplinarian who bases successful teams on defending. Frankly, if the little diddums don’t like it, there isn’t one player in this squad whom I wouldn’t sell if the right offer came in. Not one.

  47. You have to laugh, after watching that weird kind of adulation that we received for years about our financial acumen (we’re a sports team remember) I see that mighty Leicester have made our efforts look pathetic as they report record profits last season of £92.5M. That on a turnover of £233M. That must absolutely piss all over our best results and no surprise how they did it – by not paying stupid money to average players but mostly because it was built on SUCCESS ON THE FIELD OF PLAY in the league and then the CL. And that after paying off Ranieri and his staff too.

    Meanwhile we struggle on with an overpaid squad earning CL money but barely scraping into the EL (unless either Burnley or Leicester catch us of course).

  48. Andy

    We rarely make a profit without player trading. I’d guess Leicester have been a tad better at it than us…

  49. Cbob

    Asked a couple of gentlemen’s appareil about your t-shirt request and while all think it’s a good idea, none know of any being produced.

  50. Thank you YW. A shame.

    I would certainly be buying one.

    I have an awful feeling that with Highbury went our club.

    Surprised really. Seems a good commercial oppportunity to me.

    The T shirt, not Arsenal. Someone got there first.

  51. I did not know this but with Lacazette not able to play Aaron Ramsey is the leading scorer in league goals that we have avaialable with a whopping total of 6 and he is second in assists with 6. Ozil has 7 assists in league games but Mesut has played 8 more games. Unless Lacazette can come back from injury and find a way to score 1 more league goal we might finish the season without a single player in double digits in league goals.

  52. With PEA struggling to make an impact and Nacho out, it makes a case for continuing to use Ramsey. What other decent options do we have? Who else is going to score?

  53. Well boys and girls, I just spent 4 hours with some of the best whiskey and bourbon From qcross rhe pond that I have ever tasted! Met a Rangers supporter who said Toral was a brilliant but misunderstood player, met a Celtic man who said we should pair Dembele with Aubameyang/Lacazette/Ozil/Mhkitaryan and a truly defensive DM along with Rodgers, met a Unuted supporter who said Sanchez was shit and I’m drunk off my ass and will continue to drink the nught away!

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