Laughing And Crying At The Same Thing

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For all the talk in recent weeks of Leicester City losing their nerve, there was an air of inevitability that Tottenham would be the ones to stumble. West Bromwich Albion by all accounts, were far better than their visit to north London last Thursday. Who knows, perhaps they were stung by the criticism of what can at best be described as a lacklustre performance. I’m sure Pulis called it far worse in the dressing room.

The Foxes can, of course, still cock it up but Tottenham have to win every match to even be in with a shout of being crowned champions and three points at Stamford Bridge is far from guaranteed. I wonder if Mauricio Pochettino will keep on about mathematical possibilities for the next week or two?

But no amount of mockery over their failure to last the course, can disguise the fact that they have, for the first time since 1996 or whenever, outperformed us this season. We’ve gone over the reasons many times and it doesn’t get any easier to talk about and more to the point, there’s no catharsis in doing so.

Arsène and Arsenal are the only ones who can do anything about the season, rectify the shortcomings and ensure that they don’t happen again. There’s not much of a track record in that in recent years, I grant you, but hope is what keeps the football world turning for supporters.

Wenger’s summer is busy. Away co-commentating once more, he has to run the rule over players of interest whilst others talk to their clubs. There’s some suggestion that signings will happen late in the transfer window as players wait for Arsenal to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League. World-class players have that luxury; being very good, to my mind at least, doesn’t afford you that opportunity. Sign and help it happen ought to be the mantra.

And that’s just the new players, the ones to strengthen the squad. God knows what Arsène will do with the ones whose confidence is totally shot. It seemed inconceivable six to eight months ago that Theo Walcott would be sold. Injury had inflicted itself on his world once more and omitted from the side upon his return to fitness, he is bereft of confidence as his recent cameos have shown.

How that has come about isn’t clear. There’s less of him in the media but not being seen as a solution centrally or on the right when the team was out of form won’t have helped. Like Olivier Giroud, he’s been given a fairly definitive snub in that sense and looking at the current squad it’s hard to see where both of them fit in at Arsenal in the future.

Arsène has made it clear that Danny Welbeck is his preferred central striker, as strong as Giroud in the air, he has Walcott’s mobility. Sign a new striker in the summer and it’s not hard to see both of them leaving, with Welbeck fighting for the starting XI place, Walcott, despite his lapse in form, will be the easier of the two to sell with the ‘homegrown’ element in his favour.

Giroud? He needs a good Euro2016. One goal in his last twenty appearances, even allowing for the ones as substitute, grabs the headlines for the wrong reasons. One of the papers articulated it better: he’s got the third worst record at the moment, of all Premier League strikers with that run. It’s horrendous for someone for who had scored nineteen goals prior to that. His position as Plan B isn’t in immediate danger with the transfer window closed but there’s no guarantee at all he’ll be here next year for that role. Not unless he can’t be sold, which is the same problem with Yaya Sanogo.

The question is whether Arsène has the will to deliver this time. A big spending summer can be interpreted either way: the sign of a genuine attempt to rebuild the squad, this time quickly, or one last hurrah at the title. A vanity exercise. If it works, much like Ferguson at United, no-one will care the reasons why until after the event.

I just can’t see it happening. Three midfielders going and the same number of forwards? That’s half-a-dozen new faces needed, beyond the three he’s previously quoted as being the optimum number. It’s going to be an aggressive transfer market this summer with the big clubs looking to spend heavily as well, leaving Arsenal looking like they are slow to react if they wait. Can the club react any other way? It certainly doesn’t seem to be set up for decisive action.

Maybe they will prove us wrong. Maybe but I’m not holding my breath.

’til Tomorrow.

45 thoughts on “Laughing And Crying At The Same Thing

  1. Simon says:

    The rebuilding has already begun so it’s not quite as dramatic as maybe it looks. Iwobi is the new Theo – who will go I believe. Elneny is half of the replacement for Flamini/Arteta. Wilshire and Ramsey fit as they was always one too many and will be considered LANS when Rosicky hangs up his boots. I expect Mertesacker to stay and would be surprised if we added to the central defense. True, we will need wingbacks but these are squad players as back-up for Bellerin (as Debuchy will be sold) and most likely Monreal (as it makes sense for Gibbs to leave – but it is possible he will stay and fight). My money is on a striker and a midfielder for the first team only with some academy players moving on up.

  2. andy1886 says:

    While Giroud isn’t a title winning striker he has proven good enough for an aspiring top four side – maybe West Ham or Liverpool? With all the money sloshing around the PL surely someone would take a punt on him despite his recent form. He needs to go though, if not he’s Arsene’s reason not to buy a striker – the ‘nearly good enough’ man (which is enough for Arsene).

    Although we have three midfielders leaving we don’t need to replace them all. Arteta and Rosicky have had zero impact this season so no big loss essentially. And it seems we have Xhaka lined up for Flamini’s replacement (a real upgrade for once).

    With Chambers waiting in the wings I suspect Arsene isn’t going to worry too much about a defender either which leaves us with a striker as our main objective. You’d think that we could manage to focus on a single objective, but then again this is Arsenal.

    As for Sanogo please just release or pay him off Arsene. Pointless waste of a squad place if he stays.

  3. andy1886 says:

    Looks like we’re thinking the same way Simon. Jenkinson will also be available so another defensive back up if needed.

  4. Wavey says:

    Morning,

    Another fine piece YW.

    I don’t think it’s as much a snub with Giroud. Wenger has regularly dropped him from the bench when he hits a barren spell, he did at the end of last season. But he is quick to bring him back in when he thinks it’s time to change back again. So we have seen Giroud back in the starting line up for the last two games. This time it appears that Giroud is struggling to get out of his rut and I don’t really see him making much of an effort to on the pitch. I can see why Wenger tries to change things up. As Bill said, the back up options aren’t exactly prolific, but when it’s not working on the pitch Wenger needs to change things quickly. Surely a half, or maybe a maximum of 60 minutes is enough to know it’s not happening. Dragging it out until 15 minutes to go frustrates the fans and gives the replacement little time to get up to speed. It seems to take about 5 mins for a sub to adjust to the game and then we are in the last 10 minutes and panicking because we are chasing the game. It suddenly looks frantic and any attempt to play football is replaced by long balls and lively tackles on defenders.

  5. Buffalo says:

    Surely wenger has more pressing issues than moonlighting at the euros ? How long since he won the league ? Would have thought there’s plenty he could be doing at home to improve us, try management.
    Anyway we’ve seen it all before, it’s easy to predict as it is frustrating. We won’t be well prepared enough next season, we won’t the league and we won’t win the CL. I can’t wait with all that promise ahead. And if you are all right about the rebuilding being nearly done then fine but it won’t be nearly enough or ambitious enough, again.. except for fourth place revenue, and even that is a possibly going ahead. He really is an ocean going turd, 8 million a year, to take a second job during the summer when you’re not doing the first one properly…..amazing ! Considering how much the club charge i’d be looking for a little more than an emerging iwobi, a cheap elneny and a returning jenkinson or are the season ticket prices falling ‘again’ > ? Just like the free gifts kroenke gives the fans…….oh wait. Come on guys it just isn’t good enough.

  6. HenryB says:

    Good Post, Yogi.

    I don’t think it is just a drop off in form with regard to Theo. His main claim to fame has always been his pace, unfortunately, for those of us who do not like to buy into the accepted mantras without good evidence, I think his days of exceptional pace have long deserted him.

    Age? Bulking up? Whatever it is that has caused this loss of his main attribute has caused a problem for him. He does not have dribbling skills, he is a little fragile, by which I mean, look at the way he hurdled over a non-existent tackle for fear of injury, and which if he had contested the CB could have won us the match against Sunderland.

    Also, in general terms, when is the last time you have seen Theo with ball at feet charging through the opposition defences at speed? No I cannot remember that either.
    Instead I see him frequently receiving the ball on the wing, and embarrassingly running into defenders and ending up on his ass, or immediately checking back, passing the ball 5 metres to a supposedly much slower team-mate before haring off to nowhere in particular – without the ball?

    Theo is not the sole or a major cause of our short-comings, as he has not played too many games because of injury or being told to ride the pine – but he does not help either. And his lack of pace looks terminal to me.
    Instead, perhaps a 6’2″ speedy winger with good skills – like Yarmolenko – might very well have helped add another 10 points to our season total, and enabled us to win the damned elusive title?

  7. HenryB says:

    Buffalo,

    If Wenger goes to commentate at the Euro Cup, he will get to see the best players in Europe, and maybe get some good ideas of what talent could help us?

  8. Alex says:

    Wenger won’t comment the Euro. His contract with TF1, the main channel that offers the games, was stopped after the World Cup. And fortunately! He was truly saying some weird things…

  9. Wavey says:

    It’s the style of play that must surely change though and I don’t see that happening under Wenger. Referencing Bill again, we have seen the same style of play time and again over the past 10 years, no matter who the players on the pitch are. I think that we would actually get more from the players with a different set up and tactics because what we are going on the pitch seems flaccid. Like a limp cock, we may have the intention to use it effectively but we just can’t seem to get it up anymore. Apparently that happens with age (haven’t noticed it myself though :)).

  10. Wavey says:

    Alex

    He has signed up with BEIN Sport as apparently he is doing a favour for his friend who is the main man there.

  11. Alex says:

    Wavey

    Oh, thank you ! I didn’t know! I was relieved he gave up commenting… But i don’t have BEIN Sport, so I don’t mind ! 🙂

  12. silvergunner says:

    Morning YW thanks again for the good read.
    We all know that instead of highlighting our targets and going for them before the euros we will wait until the end of the transfer window and be left with egg on our faces.
    I have no faith that we will get the players I can see Wenger citing words like I was unable to find the player of desired quality or we have a squad strong enough to challenge for the title bla bla bla….
    Just one more season to endure. What worries me more is what are the board planning about his successor. I hope they are looking into this now.

  13. silvergunner says:

    I will eat my words if we sign a world class striker.

  14. The Arse in Namib (AITG) says:

    C and Bill

    Finally caught back up from yesterday. Will comment on today’s post later.
    In the 4,5,1 system that AW usually uses we play with another CM on the wing that helps to cover midfield when we attack. This is not a system I much like, but it is better than what we are currently doing.
    Unfortunately all our CMs died this season so we have been forced to play with 3 forwards. I prefer this, but it means that we should be setting up as 4.3.3. This system does not depend on the support of a #10 as the forwards interchange and support each other.
    While we are playing with three forwards Ozil should have been pulled back to support the midfield not the attack. His attack role is the killer pass his physical role to intercept, get in the way of the counter and most importantly to add width to the midfield as 2 men can’t do this.
    AW’s mistake is a typical well documented error of this formation and our symptoms of being so hammered on the counter is typical of it. I think he has been too concerned about keeping Ozil in this role and concentrating too much on supporting the attack as we have been so bad up top.
    This is also a schoolboy howler which has turned me from IAWT to Wenger out.
    It has not even been slow motion, but a drawn out murder and rather than throwing the rather light weight kitchen sink at the attack he should have been concentrating on the balance, tactics and formation of the team as a whole.
    While he was working on that he could have sent his strikers to boot camp to have some grit kicked into them, or a psychologist (if you are that way inclined) to talk about how they have no composure in front of goal because they were breast fed until the age of sixteen.

  15. C says:

    Well done Yogi.

    Theo and Giroud look all but out the door and I have backed Theo since his arrival and to be honest he looks a player that has simply lost confidence and needs a change of scenery. Do I think he still has it in him, absolutely but just not at Arsenal for a various number of reasons.

    Giroud, I would sell because if we don’t this summer then it will be even more difficult next especially since we know he will have a half season goal draught. What happens if he stinks it up at Euros, which lets be honest he isn’t even guaranteed to start there with the way that Martial and Griezmann have been playing, they could go with those two up top with a third more mobile player and Giroud is on the outs.

    What about Giroud + cash for either Lukuka or Morata if possible. Yarmalenko as well but I also like Icardi.

  16. C says:

    @AITG

    I get what your saying but I also think there are different variations of the 433 and you can look at Germany and Barca for this. Both play a 433 butvery differently.

    Barca plays it with 3 forwards who are all capable of doing everything but plays wide with a midfield that stays a bit more compact but have Inesta join in the attack but rarely venture into the box and actually starts the press from his more advanced position (which Ozil does but doesn’t get credit for). They then have Busquets and Raktik there as players whose sole purpose is to win the ball back and get the ball to Inesta who is more dictator of play but still is such a brilliant #10.

    Then you have Germany who I think Arsene needs to focus more on playing like instead of Barca. They play with Ozil in the #10 but play with double pivots who prefer to dictate from deep in Kroos, Gundoghan, Kramer, etc., but play a more mobile front 4 that are all capable of playing all 4 positions but all based on the passing of Ozil, Low and many others have discussed it. The thing that all makes it work is a disciplined back 4 and pivots in both systems but also mobility and players that can play that system.

    Part of our problem is that over the last 10 or so years the discipline hasn’t been there and you have player that don’t all fit the system. Playing at tempo or possession futbol requires players who understand their roles and do their roles, to often we have players trying to do everybody elses role. For example and not to pick on him but you talk about the midfield, how often have we seen Ramsey the furthest player forward and then not tracking back?

    I think with better strikers and better understanding of the system and how to play we will flourish, until then we are fucked.

  17. Buffalo says:

    HenryB i wish i could share your optimism, and besides buying players on the basis of international tournament form is a fool’s paradise. In my opinion, he already ought to know what he needs, where he needs it and who those players are. No point in dithering, if you want success, be decisive, act now – that has been missing ever since the days of David Dein, without whom many of Arsene’s signings simply wouldn’t have happened. Well known that Dein pushed a dithering Wenger over the line on many an occasion.

  18. The Arse in Namib (AITG) says:

    C
    I just think that it is more than the back 4 to blame. If you are playing 3 up front you cannot use a number 10 without risking being overrun on the counter. Not only that, but you don’t actually need to play a number 10 and to insist on it is in my mind suicide.
    You can argue that we should be more like Germany, but without that discipline and understanding we should be trying to be who we are. I personally would not compromise that and if Ozil could not fit in. I would get rid of him rather than try and change the whole team. He is not a powerful enough a player to build a team around, he is not yet a Dennis Bergkamp. who did not disappear in any match ever.

  19. The Arse in Namib (AITG) says:

    C
    There are different variations of 4.3.3 and I think we both agree that we have not got to grips with any of them, because we pretend we are still playing 4,5,1. You can play a #10 in the last minutes of a cup tie in 4,2,1,3 when you need a knock out blow from a team on the ropes, but mostly you should be looking at fielding a #6 in a more defensive role. So more 4,1,2,3 which compensates for having 3 strikers while allowing greater width to the central midfield. That would be playing either Coq or Elneny in front of the defence.
    We don’t do that, we have now started to play two #6s to try to make up for pushing Ozil forward as the 4th attacker. So we have no Rambo or Cazorla to make it happen, when we should have both. And that is the position Ozil should be fitting into.
    Having seen jack for 5 minutes in one game this season, he looks like he could be doing that role too.

  20. C says:

    @AITG

    I would be careful throwing around ever and that goes for ANY players.

    If we are trying to be who we are, well then that includes Ozil. To be perfectly honest, with better strikers we walk with teh PL title and OZil is the Player of the Year and saying otherwise is simply being too harsh. What your trying to play, IMHO doesn’t exsist becuse we don’t have the players to play that way outside of Elneny. Ramsey isn’t disciplined enough, Jack isn’t disciplined enough and is injury prone, Ozil is our best player and if you look back at matches he tracks back more than you are giving him credit for, how many times during a match is it Ozil carrying the ball from deep, what 4-5 times a match.

    I just think we will have to agree to disagree because the system your talking about playing we would literally needd to ax the whole of the team.

  21. C says:

    @AITG

    I think it comes down to futboling philosophy and I think yours and mine are different. I have no problem playing a 433, have grown up on it and played variations of it through my youth days but the one thing we always had was a #10 that was given freedom to roam and defensively was part of the attacking 3 that would press but would do so behind the striker essentially taking away either the DM or CM of the other team (whichever was the one to pick up the ball more often from teh CB’s) thus he was doing his job and then we had the double pivots who would essentiall cover in midfield but never got overrun because our #10 was doing his job. When you look at Ozil he does the same thing, you see him ‘sitting’ on one of the other teams pivots.
    I think bringing in a player like Xhaka and sitting him next to one of Elneny or Le Coq would be perfect. I think the thing that either I am overlooking or you haven’t mentioned with your pivots is the ability to play the ball quickly from defense to attack and smart decision makers but also have to feature regularly as there has to be an understanding and that is where Ramsey and Jack for me don’t fit the bill. Another problem is that Le Coq doesn’t fit because while he is a good passer, in a 433, all your midfielders need to be able to do everything well.
    Until Jack can last more than 3 matches in a row he, to me, is nothing more than a squad player / impact sub.

  22. C says:

    So our GK situation might be settled with Sczny talking about Roma(who he has done well for) and reports and Sczny himself saying Arsenal and Roma are in talks.

  23. Bill says:

    Yogi.

    Great post. We are all happy that Spurs did not win yesterday. However I agree 100% that gloating about them is nothing then a way to distract ourselves from what we have done. We can’t control what happens with Spurs and call it being negative if you like but we need to do everything we can to focus on what went wrong this year and find a way to fix it.

    Myself I think it’s an incredibly daunting scenario we face. We have been a 1/2 season team for 10 years and the players at arguably our most critical attacking positions (#10 and CF) have been 1/2 season players for as long as they have been with us. Even Alexis who gets a pass from me because of his energy has been inconsistent. Obviously we can’t sell all of them and rebuild the whole team. We need to start with better goal scorers. A new CF and a wide player who can score are a must. The fact that Arsene felt the need to try and kick start Giroud’s form tells you all you need to know about our group of scorers. I would be happy if we could get Xhaka but he sounds like a very similar player to Elneny and why in the world would we start by duplicating what we already have. Arsene seems to be obsessed with midfielders. We need difference makers.

    Lots if work to do this summer. Goooooooooo Arsene

  24. Bill says:

    I am happy about any player we buy and more depth is always a good thing. However, the fact that it looks like Xhaka will be our first player is more evidence of Arsene’s philosophy. I think he really believes that if he gets the combinations just right in the midfield then our passing game will start creating lots of easy chances and it will pull the rest of the team up the table. We have been trying it for 10 years with innumerable different combinations. Thru it all the main features have always been ball possession and a controlled tempo. It’s given us some really nice runs of form but it’s never been consistent. It leaves me scratching my head wondering what Arsene actually thinks he is seeing when he watches the games and reviews the film. May be he only watches the good games and conveniently ignores the rest.

  25. Bill says:

    The frustrating thing is that our best performances this year are games where we had about 30% of the ball possession and set up to hit on the counter attack. Even the Giroud hat trick win at Olympiakos we had about 50% of the ball. The only “big” game that we won where we really had usual 70% or greater ball possession was the 2-1 win over Leicester. Look at the results over all the years that Fergie and Mourinho frustrated us. The evidence seems pretty clear to me that we can’t win consistent with our preferred style. However, will anyone in our management team actually look at the evidence??? The answer seems to be a big fat noooooo.

  26. Bill says:

    The idea that there is a specific midfield player or some minor tactical tweak or formation change will allow us to maintain this current style of play but replicate the results of Barca, Bayern, Germany or those old Brazilian teams seems like a huge stretch to me.

    The difference between us and them is not tactical or formation but it’s the number of match winners they have/had in their squads. The other big difference is the commitment of those teams to playing 95 minutes of solid team defense each game. We can tinker all we want but it’s not going to change anything until we have a significant upgrade in the quality of our forward line and fix whatever causes us to lose our concentration on defense. IMO.

  27. C says:

    @Bill

    Tend to disagree a bit about the Brasilians, yes they defended solidly enough but they were very much under the and played with a philosophy of, “We will attack you and that is the best way to defend. Now don’t get me wrong they have some extremely solid defensive players in Gilberto Silva, Cafu, Lucio, Roberto Carlos (common misconception, he couldn’t defend), Junior and a number of others, but they attacked in waves and were absolutely brilliant at possession.

    Now if your talking about the number of match winners, well you have to have match winners all over the pitch. Part of what makes Germany special is that Kroos is a match winner at the pivot, Xhaka is that same type of player. Isn’t part of our problem THIS SEASON the fact that after Christmas our strikers have been utter shit in front of goal? So that isn’t necessarily a lapse in defending, its a lapse in scoring goals. O well, I probably shouldn’t even of responded but there you go.

  28. Bill says:

    C

    Irregardless of what theBrazilians used to do it’s very difficult if not impossible to win consistently in the PL with an attacking ethos that ignores proper defending. It has not happened in this century. Leicester won games with attacking mentality early in the season but look how they changed once it got to squeaky bum time. Same with Chelsea last season. Even those great Barca teams were always one of the best teams in Europe at preventing goals conceded.

    By far The single biggest problem this year is our strikers have been misfiring. No one would dispute that. However we can’t just ignore the fact that our midfield and it’s midfield maestro have also lost form. We berate Ramsey all the time but he is passing to the same forwards and he has the same number of assists as Ozil while playing fewer games since the start of 2016. We also can’t look past the fact that our defense has also has had some of their usual mistakes.

    We have been a 1/2 season team for the entire Emirates era and it’s been another system wide meltdown since midseason. I dont think there is another midfielder we could buy that can add something different unless we buy someone like Lampard. Another ball playing possession type midfielder will add depth but won’t be a difference maker. From a personnel standpoint the forwards are the single biggest “tangible” problem and that’s where we need to concentrate this summer.

    I hope that makes sense

  29. Bill says:

    I have never seen him play and stats can be misleading but Xhaka has started 78 league games and scored 5 goals in the last 3 years. This season he has started 25 games and has a grand total of 3 goals and 0.00 assists.

    He is a probably another very nice player and will provide useful midfield depth but it seems like quite a stretch to suggest he will be a difference maker.

  30. phe says:

    It seems to me Wenger does not want to waste his money on defenders but Sol Campbell on free transfer was very important. We need another centre Back as good or better than Koscielny and then we need a striker with excellent goal to game ratio. The last thing we need are more central midfielders.

    We also really need to address the coaching. The Arsenal coaches have not won the league for more than 10 years and it shows. Add some recently successful winning technical coaches from any big European league.

    Bring back Dein. We need gritty players who will abandon zonal marking when they see Andy Carrol instead of yes men who would rather see the ball go in than go against Wenger.

  31. Jonny says:

    “bring back Dein”

    Yesterday’s solutions today.

  32. Wavey says:

    Some may not agree, but I think the protests have to happen at the Emirates. The banners away from home start to get the message across, but there has to be a message being sent by the home fans. They may not do anything about it, but they will not be able to ignore it. I will be supporting the “time for change” placards, they are not insulting but they make it clear that the fans have had enough. If enough home fans participate it will be clear to the manager and Board that the fans are not happy and that something has to change. It won’t, but the away protests aren’t sending enough of a message. Let’s see how the stewards react if a mass of placards are shown at 12 and 78 minutes.

  33. Bill says:

    No C Ronaldo in the Real Madrid team today. Man City could be in a good position if they can finish today with no away goals conceded

  34. Bill says:

    Wavey

    Somehow the fans need to let it be known that they are unhappy.

  35. phe says:

    ‘Yesterday’s solutions today’

    What are the solutions of today then? Give one. I think Dein was a tremendous personality who loves Arsenal. We have not won the league since he left. He signed Wenger and some very good players.

    We were a family run club and now our new owner does not care if we finish fourth.

  36. C says:

    @Bill

    I would reapond to your previous post but watching the match.

  37. C says:

    For an old man, Pellegrini is a very active and demonstrative fogure on the touchline.

  38. C says:

    Brilliant saves from Hart have kept this from being 2 or 3 to Madrid.

  39. Bill says:

    I almost didn’t recognize Sagna. He looks better without the beaded dreadlocks in his hair.

  40. Wavey says:

    0-0 should favour City, but I’m guessing Ronaldo is back in the second leg next week.

  41. Wavey says:

    The dreads weren’t real, he played a couple of times for Arsenal without them in.

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