I have no doubt that the complaint has already been scripted. Whilst Gareth Bale was intent on telling the world that Spurs are now ahead of Arsenal on the pitch – echoes from the near and distant past ring around the statement made by the Best Player In The World – Andre Villas-Boas has no doubt worked out that anything less than a victory is because Arsenal had two days more to prepare for next Sunday’s North London Derby.
And in Anthony Kastrinakis, he will have a willing Prophet of Doom. The Sun’s Tottenham-supporting reporter exacted the fullest revenge on the decision by Arsenal to ban the paper from London Colney. He showed his claws – with their beautifully manicured talons, resplendent in their red nail varnish – by reporting that between “5,000 and 10,000 season-ticket holders stayed away” as “every mistake was booed by angry fans“. Obviously not the “10,000 had left Ashburton Grove in disgust before the Spaniard struck the 85th-minute winner” though.
The weekend turned out as well as Arsène would have hoped in terms of the results; Arsenal’s win with defeats for Chelsea and Everton can only be topped off with Tottenham failing to win this evening at Upton Park. Perhaps that is too much to hope for; the defeat for Chelsea changes the impact of the coming fixtures. Previously, Sunday’s NLD looked to be the dreaded must-win fixture; the emphasis has changed to must-not-lose. Everyone wants a win of course, supporters, manager, coaching staff, players but a point will not be the poor result it might have been seen as previously.
One thing that must happen is that Arsenal need to cut out mistakes. Individual errors are becoming extremely costly over a season with this campaign being little different from others; rarely do Arsenal concede a goal that you think was exceptional, more frequently accusing eyes fall upon one or two players. To err is human, the biggest sin is not learning from them. Mikel Arteta took on this theme,
Sometimes [mistakes come from] a bit of a lack of concentration. Or [if] a team-mate makes a mistake, the second one cannot be a mistake again.
It seems to happen. For every small detail, the other teams are taking advantage and it’s costing us a lot of points.
There is something wrong when it happens frequently, with most players culpable at some point in the season. Those lapses in concentration – which is how most mistakes arise – are, in isolation, not a problem but collectively, they point to something being awry in the overall attitude. Arteta whilst raising a positive point, probably identifies why they seem to happen at Arsenal,
Something good that we’ve got here is that we don’t look at the other one and say ‘Look what you’ve done’ If someone makes a mistake, the team makes a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes during the game and you can’t fault a player for that.
If it’s a lack of attitude, yes. I’m the first one to get him by the neck, because we can’t accept that. If it’s a mistake when you take a risk, that can happen.
Not long ago, Gary Neville offered the view that mistakes were not tolerated in the United dressing room. If someone dropped a rickett in a match, they knew the players and manager would give leave them in no doubt about their displeasure. Simply because the squad point out mistakes does not mean it is a blame culture; the environment that Neville referred to was a manifestation of the manager’s personality. Ferguson is a harsh critic if mistakes are made but you can be sure that the United squad work hard on not allowing the same failings to arise.
Arsenal meanwhile reflect their manager’s more cerebral approach to matters, coercive learning rather than inflammatory and biting criticism. That works to a degree but in the same way that a critical environment can be negative, so too can a cosy atmosphere. After a while, do the players learn not to care enough when mistakes are made. Wenger treats his players like adults; sometimes grown-ups need harsh words too.
Perhaps that is a contributing factor as to why United level’s have not dropped? Technically, a number of Arsenal’s players are as good as their United counterparts but collectively, whatever shortcomings United have are compensated by attitude and the ability of others. The winning mentality I guess you would call it.