Unpredictable Or Lack Of Quality, Arsène?

The international break is upon us and normally we would be worried about the multitude of players away, whether they would come back injured. As I look at the list of absentees, I think the only ones I am worried about are Clichy and van Persie. Elsewhere, we have the cover to handle any enforced absences.

It is for once, a timely respite from the Premier League. The chance for the players to get out of the club and clear their heads should not be underestimated. The chance to get Fàbregas, Walcott and Song fit for the Blackburn game is a huge opportunity to boost the squad’s mood.

The attacks on the goalkeeping situation are of no surprise. The soft centre that the media talks about presumes that the two centre backs failed to mark Reid at The Hawthorns; they did not, he was tracked by Ramsey after a fashion at least. Arsenal do not do zonal marking at corners, if they did more goals would probably be conceded.

Otherwise, the back four was rarely caught out. Albion’s second goal was down to Almunia, Squillaci for all of the criticism he gets was not in a bad position to force Odimwingie wider of goal. The soft centre actually does not exist in that context.

Equally, Chelsea’s challenge for the title is not on at the moment. If they win at Old Trafford in May – other results being equal – they will be still be three points behind Manchester United and four to Arsenal. Obviously a collapse in the form of the top two would let them in, as it has allowed them to recover four points to Arsenal in the last two games. Even so, for them to win the title would highlight the paucity of talent in the Premier League.

The last statement is at odds with the perceived wisdom that others have improved, challenging the status quo at the top. That does not bear scrutiny. The Premier League table is propped up by Wigan Athletic on 30 points. Cast your eyes north and seventh placed Bolton are on 40 points. Not so much an improvement of standards, more an acceptance of the mediocrity which currently plagues the English game.

With double that gap to the top, the evidence of equalisation to the Champions League places is not there. The unpredictability that Arsène referred to recently is more down to the lack of consistency shown by the top six teams,

When anybody plays against anybody, you cannot predict the result. Individual games are unpredictable, so (the run-in) will be down to consistency and character.

It will indeed. The key factor is that Arsenal and Manchester United have the title in their own hands. All of the rest require points dropped by other teams. This season has seen Arsenal lose home games they would normally expect to win – Tottenham included – whilst away from home, Manchester United continue to struggle to win.

Why this has happened is unclear. A lot of the players of all nationalities have returned from South Africa’s World Cup beset by injuries and loss of form. Consistency has been hit. Look at the top scorers charts to see the evidence of this. Those who went to last Summer’s jamboree have not played a great deal of football, scoring less goals as a result. Too much football is hurting the Premier League but they will not admit it.

Anyhow, this fortnight presents an opportunity to reduce stress levels following an awful month in March, results-wise. Let’s hope the players return to the club and fitness ready for the final charge.

’til Tomorrow.

189 thoughts on “Unpredictable Or Lack Of Quality, Arsène?

  1. Paul – You are right. I really don’t want to get into that debate as well. It is worse than the doomer/AKB argument, and much the same nobody is going to change their opinion.

    Bullet dodged 🙂

  2. Geo – Exactly. I lie actually, we do sent training teams over there. Normally a couple of hundred strong. Not quite the same comitmment though eh?

  3. Anyone seen the Zeitgeist films? Not up everyone’s street, but interesting stuff, just depends how much you want to believe.

  4. Quite sad that they go into these lands due to oil but you have had people suffering in other parts of the world, being killed like dogs and nothing! What a travesty.

  5. GA – No, what are they playing at? May as well rinse them out for their diamonds while we’re at it, slacking off as usual, come on Mr Cameron, missing a trick there…

    If you needed telling, that was a joke btw. A poor one I know. Sorry.

  6. LA, I agree with you that the real difference, and why there are so many teams battling it out in the lower half of the table to avoid relegation, is that the three promoted teams not only were better prepared for the PL but also came to play. All three of them have a decent chance to survive–by no means have they been as bad as previous promoted teams, at least one of which was sure from early on to go back down.

    Joshua, you raise some very good points there, but I don’t think the performance in Europe yet justifies comparisons with past strength in Europe. It may still prove a very successful year for English teams, compared to last year for example, but the problem is that Inter wasn’t the same Inter and Werder Bremen has been hopeless which allowed a weak Spud team to go top of the group and meet an unbalanced and weak AC Milan. Chelsea had a very easy group and played Copenhagen. ManU had a pretty easy group and defeated a fairly mediocre Marseille side. I don’t think the Spanish teams below RM and Barca were good this year, Bayern is the only decent German team in it but is weaker than last year, and the Italian teams have been declining the last few seasons (hence the loss of the 4th CL spot to Germany next season). So we’ll see how well the remaining English teams do in Europe.

    The Spuds are better than last year but their energies are divided. ManCity is better but is too cautious and only now playing as a team. There is no question that Chelsea was weaker as was ManU. The inconsistency is evident.

    Domestically, there aren’t really awful teams but I don’t see a strong group behind Liverpool in 6th that are really pushing for European places. There is just a really big group of fair and mediocre teams that have a few good players but are not able to be consistent enough to challenge for a European place. So there is a big gap between the top3/4 teams and the bottom 8-10; not as wide as it has been in recent seasons but weakness and inconsistency at the top bears some responsibility for that as well.

  7. Paul N,
    There are more examples of the West supporting tyrants in oil rich countries than the opposite. The record isn’t good.

  8. I think neighboring Egypt could have helped the people of Libya get rid of their tyrant without this spinning into another intervention by the “Allies”, but I presume preventing that way of spreading political revolution was at the heart of Secretary Clinton showing up with a 2billion dollar aid package to Egypt last week. US/Europe’s leaders and business interests are somewhat frightened at the possibility of people’s revolts against Western supported tyrants spreading. Hence allowing Saudi forces to bolster Bahrain’s rulers without making much of a fuss. The puzzle for the politicos and international relations intelligentsia is why Syria is relatively quiet but all these US/Europe allies, particularly Arab republics, like Algeria, Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia are undergoing this turmoil. Even Libya had become a US ally since 2002-3–so for a decade, though obviously not so valued a one given Gaddafi’s past history.

  9. Limestone, they’ll support them, and work with them, until there’s a chance to ‘legitimately’ come and ‘save the day’. This pattern has been followed by us and USA for decades, if not centuries.

  10. Actually momentum makes the world go round. The initial rotation was probably due to different densities in the originating cloud of gas speeding through space combined with the build up of gravitational forces as the gases cooled. It started turning then and has not stopped since. The idea that money makes it go round is complete bollocks.

  11. Yeah, the professed motivations while noble are way too shallow. The past has shown us human rights violations and civilians dying has rarely been a compelling reason for other nations to intervene. Granted this could be a new trend, but I severely doubt it given the embarassingly huge list of countries which remain untouched. The chance for nation building and infrastucture contracts perhaps, but there’s definately some financial gain to be had

    It seems to me that Libya’s a country in civil war, a period when neighbours fight one another based upon ideologies. There are going to be some who are against Gaddafi, but there will be some loyal to Gaddafi. No one voice should be given credence to the other. While I totally appreciate the No fly zone levels the field to a great extent, I think the bombings are a step too far. And it all smacks of something sinister when one considers we were selling weaponry to Libya not so long ago. We knew who we were in bed with which is another reason why the humanitarian angle rings so hollow.

    But what happens if Gaddafi actually conquers the rebels? We’re gonna be left with one pissed tyrannical former trade partner who may or may not be adverse to sponsoring terrorism. They might as well just put the troops on the ground and ensure the whole thing gets done already.

    Politics is truely a mug game

    Good bullet dodging there on the religious thing! I’m an agnostic, but at the back of my mind the “what if” lingers – but that comes with the territory really

  12. Frank did you know that in 10 billion years, if the sun permits it, the Earth will become tide locked to the moon. That means thean Earth day will slow down sufficiently to last roughly 4 weeks!

  13. Here the joke GA, I’m an agnostic in principle, but I the reality is were God to come to me, there nothing he/she could do to convince me he/she is actually God.

    I wrote a short story (unreleased and unpublished – cause I’m cowardly like that) called the Galactus Paradox a few years back which deals with my reasoning for the above in a fun and I think pretty charming and earnest way. But you’ll all have to take my word for it, cause I’m cowardly like that!

  14. Indeed Frank, I wonder if future generations of slackers will still complain about there not being enough hours in the day? It’s my favourite excuse that’s for sure

  15. (not counting what happened a few thousand years ago in Greece)

    Whether it is inevitable or will eventually stall, what intrigues me is how those that have already dealt with the transition to Democracy are surprised that it is often a violent, bloody, and altogether unpleasant one with many failings/internal fights and sometimes worse results from the power vacuums that occur.

    Wars of the breaking of the power of the Church.
    England, their Civil War, eventual lessening of power of monarch.
    American Revolution, Civil War.
    French Revolution, Napolean.
    World War I and fall of Western monarchies.
    Russian Revolution.
    World War II and fascism.
    Rise of Communism and the Cold War.
    etc (probably missed a few top ones).

    The point is, most of those (and the bloodiest) are from the “civilized” West in the last 100 years. Expecting a transition for the rest of the world, let alone for it to be simple or easy, is one of the problems for those already living under this form of rule. It’s a helluva debate/discussion thought, and we are right in the middle of it.

  16. heh… sorry for the late post about a subject from a bit ago, was dealing with an issue here at work and never sent post.

  17. Going to be tricky fitting in 84 meal breaks too, and staying asleep for 224 hours each is going to be a right fucker. Have to get up for a bout 30 pisses. Probably die of dehydration on the first night.

  18. The way the U.S. Handles its foreign policy makes me embarassed to live here…disgusting….

  19. man religion and politics all in one day! man! Not to mention interstellar physics!


    Give us an international break and we’ll give you rousing intellectual debate!

  20. How much do you guys think media coverage/reaction has played into the Allies decision to intervene? As you all have rightly pointed out, why an intervention in Libya but not in Darfur?

    In my opinion, I think a lot of the decision comes from pressure put on various governments from the mental images stirred up upon hearing about Gaddaffi having fighter jets and helicopters firing on his own people, rebel or civilian. Why using advanced machines of war on your own citizens is more actionable than using rape and genital mutation, remains to be seen.

  21. glad you are giving that concept its due analysis Frank. So many awesomely ridiculous situations to ponder, so little time!

  22. cmon Vice,

    During the Dubya days, I was right there with you. I’d say foreign policy, outside of properly addressing Pakistan, is one of the areas I have been most satisfied with the Obama administration.

  23. 7amkickoff takes a counter view to YW’s and my suggestions that the league is weaker, especially at the top, with today’s post and some comparative statistics. It isn’t a comprehensive analysis but also has some good points that bolster Joshua’s view. Worth a read.

  24. Arsenal needs a complete makeover next year.
    This year we lost our attractive style of football yet could not get a silverware (so far)..
    Most of the players are ideal as a backup players but not as first team squad. Djouro and Koc. have shown a good performance but TV and another big tough experienced CB should be our first choice. Same applies to Goalkeeping department as the young Pole is very good and promising but we need our first choice to be an experienced GK. Up front, we should be looking for quick strong and big striker who can pass players and challenge in the air.. someone who can play as winger.. Drogba style striker. In my opinion, 9 players should be out and I am sure if we do that, most of those will hardly make it to any EPL team..
    1- Almunia
    2- Fabianeski
    4- Ebue
    5- Dinelson
    9- Fabregas (if we have to)

    1- Eduardo or Llorise as Goalee
    2- Metsakar or Gary Cahil as CB
    3- Alo Diara or Mvila as a defensive Midfield
    4- Schweinsteiger or Di Rossi as central Midfield
    5- Cavani or Alvaro Negredo as a striker
    6- Schneider or Gourcuff (If Cesc is leaving).

    In fact, the best transfer deal next summer can be Arsene Wenger OUT if we do not win the title this year..

  25. ‘Just off the to match, light of my life, lunchtime kickoff.’
    ‘Alright, my love, when will you be back?’
    ‘Not late.Sometime this evening, I would think’
    ‘Ok. Enjoy.’
    Thats a fortnight

  26. Interesting stat

    “Arsenal haven’t lost a single Premier League game this season when Denilson has been brought on as a substitute, winning 9 out of 10 games.”

  27. Or looking at the stat another way, we have a great record in games which Denilson doesn’t start 😉

  28. Fantastic… all these Championship manager type fans with their 9 – in, 10 – out lists. you’ve got to laugh.
    Jo, here’s some advice… next time read the other contributions on the forum before posting… it might just stop you making a total ass of yourself. Raise your game or stick to Le Grave.

  29. Is Ashley Young out of contract or something? Since someone mentioned he would be on his way to Emirates?

  30. @Jo Gooner
    4- Ebue
    5- Dinelson
    I think you would have trouble selling these guys mate, they dont exist in todays Arsenal team. We got no players named Ebue, Dinelson or Squilaci.

    And you being a bit daft too. who would Schweinsteier play instead of? Fabregas? Song? Ramsey? Walcott? Nasri? Wilshere? Or should he just sit and wait for his turn on the bench ? Do you know what kind of role he plays? what kind of player he is?
    You even seen Cavani play? Do you know what kind of player he is?
    Please tell me, tell me how these two spesific players can make arsenal stronger. How they will interact with the other players*on the pitch) and how their influence and stregthts will make us win more games. Please. please enlighten me. Cos you obviousley have watched them so much you know what and how they play and you must also know how they will fit into the arsenal system. right mate? I am intersted im Mvila to. what qualities does he have that Song dont have? How can he be incorporated in the team? What kind of player is he?
    If you cannot answear these questions i guess you are just one of em wannabees with noe clue at all. You must be able to tell me their strenghts and their contribution to the team and the setup for anyone to take you serious. Like will Cavani be good as a lone striker? Will Mvilla and Schweinsteiger be a gould pairing? What do we do with Wilshere and Cesc and Song? And Ramsey? Three of them warming the bench i pressume? And Landbury? We sell him i guess? together with frimpong and coqueline?
    Can you answear these questions?

  31. So, the world turns thanks to a combination of ,

    i) Cosmic gas
    ii) Natural (methane) gas
    iii) Political (methane) gas

  32. “Jo Gunner,

    I assume that you are expressing your husband’s views on AFC?”

    Now, now Dgob, no sexist remarks please!

  33. NJ Gooner,

    If you think our foreign policy is any different than it was when W. was in office you are seriously being misled by the media coverage (or lack thereof) of our current war mongering…

    *Troops are still in Iraq regardless if they are considered non-combat…we are still there and have a huge military presence which fuels resentment of the US throughout the Middle East.

    * Still fighting a meaningless war in Afghanistan with thousands upon thousands of troops there.

    * Intiating military action in Libya now…this story is still being written

    And all of this is contributing to close to 1 Trillion dollars in military expenditure per year in a country that is on the brink of bankruptcy.

    I would say Bush and Obama are definitely playing from the same playbook. One just has a smoother voice and better stage presence. Our leaders are appalling…and the policies are definitely no different.

  34. Sorry for the political post…just had to get that off of my chest…now back to all things Arsenal.

  35. I think the idea of total squad overhaul is ridiculous but if things don’t go our way the rest of this year I really hope we do break from tradition and make some changes. Adding a couple new players can freshen up the squad and perhaps help with confidence and mentality. I am going to say this real quietly so Shotta does not hear but may be even add a “big name or 2” even if we have to pay a little more then we would like. New faces that everyone recognizes might help the players we have to raise their games. We are overflowing with diamonds in the rough. New players especially someone the fans and players are excited about signing might help the rest of the players up thier game. Never know but the buzz and excitement created might do the squad some good.

  36. Interesting that a very difficult month has coincided with Walcott’s absence. This season I’ve felt he has been a major factor in us breaking down defenses, not to mention keeping them nervous. His decision making has improved so much too. And he and Van Persie have been awesome for each other. Hope he comes back sharp.

    Ashley Young doesn’t have his speed or consistency so let united have him.

  37. Gaddafi’s first order of business when he took over Libya was to kick out the oil companies. The oil companies are back. Simple. The UN and the Americans are just taking advantage of Gadafi’s overreach in order to get what they think is rightfully theirs. If they were serious about wanting democracy in the Arab world they’d do something about Yemen and would have told Saudi Arabia to back away from Bahrain.

  38. Viceologist, What you don’t seem to understand is that in order to maintain peace, the US must go to war. And that the only quantifiable measure of freedom is the freedom of markets. Peace, freedom? Are you seriously against those things?

    That was my best political Muppet. I know I should avoid politics with strangers, but I’m glad to hear that someone, such as yourself Viceologist, is willing to look a truth in the face and talk about it.

    Thanks to those who cleared up the appearance of handball on the goal; I could only watch internet replays (the game wasn’t on here for me) and though I wouldn’t have cared too terribly much if we got refereeing break for once, I’m glad to know that the cross came off the post and not off Bendtner’s arm.

    Since my last post, we’ve had tornadoes, lots of damage, loss of power, here in Tennessee. It should have taught me a little perspective, but I can’t seem to get off the roller coaster ride of supporting Arsenal. As exasperating as the team can be, I still pity those who follow any other club in the world.

  39. Get rid of clichy and we will get rid of all our bad luck. He is tye source of all our bad luck. Remember brum 08?

  40. Worse things have gone on in Africa. You don’t see us charging over there to “help” do you?

    Sorry, thought Libya was in Africa….

  41. My words of wisdom to almunia… If u want to fuck up, go play a sport like tennis or golf so that if u fuck u don’t make the whole team look shit

  42. It is encouraging to see that the same critical faculties that defy the mainstream football media’s conventional wisdom are likewise on display in analyzing international politics. Enlightened ACLF commenters showing their acumen. Good stuff all around.

  43. our problem is we overlook “the easy games” and are not mentally prepared for looking too far ahead to the bigger games in terms of the PL title. At any stage of the season if you are not ready any team on any day will surprise you. That is evident this season for many teams. Through the best part of the season, playing and beating the big four is what gives the lower teams more impetus. At the business end the lower teams are scrapping for survival. There are no easy games. If there were, this would not be the Premier League!

    Arsenal are still in the race, so get realistic and support the team. We are where we are in terms of injuries, bad luck, poor referee decisions, and available team sheet selections. We are not the only team suffering from this. AW does need to address issues in the Summer, but as always it will be minor tweaks as wholesale changes are not in line with club policy and more than anything it would be admitting his “model” does not work. Something I think he is too deep into and too proud to admit and change.

  44. Oil has been a curse for all the African countries, it has brought the people nothing but death, despair and poverty. Angola, Nigeria, Libya and most recently Ghana. Although in Ghana’s case a commission has been set up to make sure the same mistakes that befell the likes of Angola and Nigeria don’t happen in Ghana. but we all know it’s a matter of time till the special interest groups take over.

    In fact they tried under the previous government, when Exxon-Mobil tried to purchase a stake in one of the oil fields but was told to join the rest of the bidders, a mysterious article was suddenly published in the reputable financial magazine that labeled Ghana as the worst country in terms of rule of law.

  45. Dgob whatPassenal means is we are women and can perfectly think for ourselves and why do u assume Jo- whoever is a woman?

  46. Just been on Le moan site, first time in a long time, now I know why!!! Why do those guys get up in the morning????

  47. GA,
    I saw that too, but I wonder how telling the stat really is. Is Song really that important to us winning or is it that we’ve not won the games he missed because a) he is usually only dropped/rested for games where many of our other 1st teamers also don’t feature b) his injury coincided with our recent bad run of form, which is in turn connected to injuries to some of our other key players, and our tendency to play below par in ‘crunch’ games.

  48. Quote of the day:
    “I would say Bush and Obama are definitely playing from the same playbook. One just has a smoother voice and better stage presence. Our leaders are appalling…and the policies are definitely no different.”
    – viceologist | March 21, 2011 at 9:19 pm |

    PS: I am currently reading Chalmers Johnson’s trilogy on the American Empire of military bases and totally supports Viceologist’s post. He used to be a CIA consultant so let us not have the usual nonsense about left and right.

  49. Passenal,

    I totally concur and my suggestion was that her comments were (shall we say) acquired without personal reflection? As for the assumption about gender, that was based on the spelling of Jo’s name and the fact that most of my acquantances who spell/abbreviate their name in that manner are women.

    Firstlady, as far as women being able to think for themselves is concerned I really don’t know why you would feel the need to make so obvious a statement! We obviously don’t know each other but I am a little surprised by that interpretation of my original comment.

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