Same Old Arsenal? No – That’s A New Excuse To Be Fair

Arsenal Flattered – 4 Liverpool

There was something achingly familiar about yesterday: the much-vaunted mental strength that Arsène talked about was noticeable by its absence. Conceding four goals in nineteen minutes is a reminder of capitulations at Anfield and Stamford Bridge, flashbacks we could all do without.

Arsène was punished for his failure in the transfer market. He threw Chambers and Holding under the bus; they were badly let down by the manager and teammates. The experienced defenders were poor, Nacho Monreal – uncharacteristically so – but it was the whole team selection Wenger got wrong.

The goalkeeper is a concern. Coutinho’s free kick, as good as it was, should not have found the net and that vulnerability is a sign of waning powers. We saw it with David Seaman as long shots became a problem for ‘Safe Hands’ to deal with but even he managed to see the bollards in the club car park.

The XI felt unbalanced with no seamless transition from the midfield pairing of Coquelin and Elneny whose primary role was to protect the centre backs. Santi Cazorla provided the urgency we needed when he arrived and the directness of Oxlade-Chamberlain’s running was a welcome relief to the habitual passing for passing’s sake we had resorted to. It gifted Liverpool too much of the ball in midfield and they ruthlessly exploited the space.

Equally, it was a bizarre choice to use Theo on the right when he has spent the pre-season in the centre. Alexis’ effectiveness was significantly impaired in a typically obtuse Arsène moment. We’ve seen that the Chilean as a lead striker is rarely a good move.

Rubbing salt into the wound was Alexandre Lacazette’s hat-trick at Nancy, ironically the club which gave Wenger his managerial chance. The striker issued a ‘come and get me’ plea but the Jean-Michel Aulas summed up Arsenal’s place in the food chain:

“The day that Real, Barca or Manchester United come to see us, it will be different.”

We’re viewed as pygmies by other clubs, confirming the view we lack ruthlessness in the transfer market. It’s no laughing matter that almost a month after losing our most experienced centre back, we are still floundering in the sands, trying to sort out deals.

The most baffling aspect is Wenger’s post-match comments:

We lost this game for many reasons and was one of them is [the psychological impact] of Liverpool making it 1-1 just before half-time. The second one is that physically we are not capable of maintaining the level, because not all the players have the same level of preparation. Maybe we lacked a bit of experience but if you look well at the goals, I don’t think it was necessarily the inexperienced players that cost us the goals today

Perhaps Arsène could explain why the squad isn’t “physically ready” for the season. That’s his job and he failed woefully to do it. This isn’t the first time though. The statistic of one win in the last opening day matches passed without any surprise. It’s the same story, year in, year out. Wenger can’t even point to summer jaunts; we’ve only been visiting the Far East and USA for four years; the rest were in his favoured Austrian training camps.

At the same time, I’m worried by his admission that he wasn’t able to stabilise the ship at half-time. The defensive side of the game hoisted a white flag and typically we capitulated. The fundamental issue remains why we couldn’t see out the remainder of the first half. Had we reached the interval ahead, it might have been a different story. Only when Liverpool became over-confident did we manage to put some respectability on the scoreline.

Matters took a turn for the worse with Aaron Ramsey suffering a hamstring twang and Alex Iwobi, a thigh train. No news on whether they are serious enough to keep both out of next Saturday’s trip to Leicester. With Laurent Koscielny not likely to be ready either – presumably Özil and Giroud are the same – there is a genuine concern about the XI we will field for that match. It won’t be any surprise to see all three start, even if they aren’t fit.

It isn’t just in preparing those players we already have, Wenger has yet again failed in his duty to strengthen the squad during the summer. Thierry Henry received flak for asking the question most of us have thought and put out there in public. More disturbing than that, for me at least, was his assertion that the club isn’t an attractive option for top players. Ambition is noticeable by its’ absence.

Some will argue it was punditry and it was. But whilst some may (wrongly) try to bring his managerial qualities into question, there’s no argument over his playing credentials. If players are genuinely thinking that we are unambitious, content with fourth, then that is a huge problem for Wenger to overcome.

More and more we rely on our London base as the key selling point – Sanchez is the most obvious example – as opposed to our footballing credibility.

Graeme Souness nailed it for me though. The club has forgotten that we are all about football and is more concerned with the business side of things. Wenger’s recent pronouncement that resale value is a key factor in signing a player is indicative that we’re still thinking like a cash-strapped club rather than acting like a financial powerhouse. It’s not about spend, spend, spend; players are the key assets of the club. Invest in them and reward will come.

It’s inevitable though that Arsène’s words would come back to haunt him:

“If you want to make everybody happy, then just buy 20 players and then everybody is full of hope until the first game. And then we are back to reality.

“Vibrancy does not win you games. What makes you win is quality of performance and the quality of your football. You have to focus just on that.

“That is very difficult in the modern game – there is always a demand for new. But new is just new.”

We don’t have vibrancy. We don’t have performance and we don’t have new. We need all three but whilst we may get performance, the other two are beyond Arsène. Like all the club’s successful managers in the past 50 years, he has stayed too long. He’s joined in Bertie Mee and George Graham in overseeing  a decline. Wenger’s credibility is disintegrating in front of his eyes.

Not that he’ll see it…

’til Tomorrow.

164 thoughts on “Same Old Arsenal? No – That’s A New Excuse To Be Fair

  1. Andy/JJGSol

    I think the best way to resolve your on-going differences is to meet in a field, pour plenty of water onto a a B shaped area [allows for any beer bellies, not that I am suggesting any such thing] and then you can put your angsts into a mud-wrestle ……. naked.

    If you charge for the show, I can look after the money and invest it into a top player – well his toe-nail anyway and it’s a win-win for all. 😀

  2. i think yogi’s onto something with the cech thing

    the goal yesterday was difficult to stop but the general point is a strong one – i dont know the full stats – id be interested to see if anyone here can find them but i reckon we concede more goals from outside the box than anyone else in the league..

    everytime someone shoots from distance it seems to go in the net

  3. Columbus Arsenal (MA),

    Totally agree. As I said a day or two ago only a Chelsea style meltdown would have any chance of forcing change. Now I could never actually want us to lose a single game but if it did happen I wouldn’t be exactly devestated either. Top four and group stages of the CL means only more cash for Stan’s coffers, it’s not going to improve our chances of winning either competition under the current regime.

  4. C:
    HenryB,

    2-1 down and its gung-ho when we could have just settled, thats my issue and more specifically what I was speaking about.

    That’s fine, C, you are agreeing with my comment;

    “Where AW failed in my opinion, or was it Bouldy, was not making sure that the whole team did not go crazy chasing an equaliser and leaving the back door open resulting in a pasting.

    It’s nothing new – Arsenal teams have done that time after time – so surely Wenger or Bould should have thrown manky bananas at them every year and yelling; Rule No.1 – do not go playing at Kamikaze and allowing the other team to score at will!! You silly bastards!

    Nice to see agreement in times of such stress! 😀

  5. HenryB,

    Believe me there would be no winners 😉

    But if it meant Wenger would take sick and retire I’d be prepared to take one for the team. How’s that for sacrifice?

  6. Dalian Atkins the ex-Aston Villa player has died after being tazered by the police.

    Wonder what that was all about. I thought Dalian was not very well with a liver (?) problem. 🙁

  7. Andy,

    You would deserve a medal to be especially struck for sterling bravery on behalf of the supporters! 😀 [And so would we! 😀

  8. Jon Jon…Agreed.
    It’s as if our keeper can handle(most) of the inside the box keeping-not all,but anything hit from distance and you’re thinking’this is in with a shout’…..and so it proved.He let in a few from distance last term too.
    Maybe Ospina sniffs his chance particularly with Woz gone.Young upstart off the scene,ageing keeper starting to show signs of cracking……..

  9. JJGSOL

    I think we have gone as far as we can with the current managerial status quo. It’s pretty clear that both our on the field and off the field mentality is not going to change a whole lot. If you like where we are and if managerial stability is the most important thing to you then more power to you.

  10. “We are all tired of the status quo”.

    I fear this is not necessarily true, the discontent is growing, sure. But in hindsight it appears they wanted to fill the new stadium with a certain type of fan. Mission accomplished, now they don’t need the fans they priced out. And for those real fans who were not priced out its put up or shut up, hence Charlton.

    So what do we, or can we do about it? Not much I suspect:

    1. Fall out of love and move on till Wenger is replaced and hope Stan or the board isn’t partly responsible.

    2. Stay and be taken for a ride.

    3. Organise with like minds and do something about it.

    I’m leaning towards number one as having to watch Alexis and the wizard leave is not my idea of fun or escapism. Two is not an option and three is too far fetched as I don’t believe arsenal fans as a whole have it in them.

  11. Heheheheh…

    I come back from my ‘holiday’ and the world is all topsyturvy again.

    Unsurprising really. So unsurprising most don’t make a big fuss about it anymore. Even the metro ran an article as to the over reaction’ by some segments of our fan base…that’s how unsurprising it is.

    Fact is it has nothing to do with transfers or lack thereof.

    We should have had enough to beat frankly not a very good Liverpool side.

    Wenger employed the Barca inspired Gherkinpressing well agianst the German micromanager but then failed to do any management unsurprisingly) from his own bench.

    It was evident in first half (I remarked to the chap next to me) that we would be spent if we kept it up.

    Coutinho’s goal was one of brilliance but the whole second half collapse could have been easily avoided.

    In fact I was surprise (well not terribly) Wenger did not start with a bit more experience.

    For starters, I see no reason why Kosicleny could not be rushed back into service given our injury crisis. Granted Wenger is playing the long game and watching potential injuries but we needed more experience at the back. not that Calum and Holding were particularly poor (they did decent) but we could have at least have had Le Boss ready on the bench to go for second half rather than i the stands.

    Even more bizarre is Santi not starting. He did not play the Euros so what’s the excuse there? Shorn of experience with the Cbacks, the least we could have had was either of or BOTH of Garnit and Santi shielding.

    Elneny (who had a decent first half) had run himself (unsurprisingly) to the ground by second half and Coquelin (who also had a good first half) is far from his best which I feel he is really next to Santi.

    So in all essense we shot ourselves in the foot.

    Short of a CF, we obviously still had enough to grab goals against a porous Liverpool backline but our base was simply not firm enough.

    Walcott managed a goal but my issue with him is he does not contribute enough the rest of the time where Giroud sustains way more benefit for the rest of the team over close to 70 minutes.

    But even so, we could have been done and dusted had we played better cards.

    He is his own worst enemy.

    Its just ludicrous to start a PL match enamoured (and frankly confused) by the performances in pre-season.

    And it is doubly inane that we had the resource available to see the match through but instead chose to field practically a second team choice.

    This part of Wenger I’m afraid will never go away.

    I’ve said it before that he flatters to deceive not because he is poor in market (which he isn’t, whether he buys enough premium is another thing) but that he needs to buy well to cover up his tactical flaws.

    Hopefully, this will be yet another blessing in disguise and illustrate to him the need to reinforce at Cback and up top. That he is praising Holding gives one thought to ponder.

    But we certainly did not need any transfer dealings to plug the predictable gap in midfield in second half. Plenty of options and good ones simply not utilised.

    Unsurprising.:)

  12. OTOH, its been just one game.

    Plenty of spark shown by the team.

    Ox looked positive (another who arguably should start and may given Iwobi’s unsuprising injury)

    Bellerin I thought was our best player.

    Elneny was energetic but could not (unsuprisingly) sustain it.

    Holding was decent as was Chambers (a right back IMO) but need a bit more experience.

    And Walcott at very least nabbed one.

    Santi was excellent and as I mentioned should really had started (as arguably Granit)

    The gaffer needs to use his tools better.

  13. Against Leicester I feel we should see:

    Cech
    Bellerin—–?——Kos—-Nacho
    ——–Xhaka——-Santi——-
    —————Ozil————–
    Theo———Sanchez——-Ox or Campbell

    Enough is enough.

  14. Ornstein reporting:

    “Arsenal yet to agree fee for Mustafi. #AFC (Arsenal) considering Omer Toprak & Simon Kjaer as alternatives but Mustafi remains priority & keen to join” said Ornstein.

  15. kenyangunner,

    I was thinking about it because I think Akpom is a really good option but I don’t see Arsene doing that. Though, since Campbell seems to have done something to not even make the bench, Akpom might be the option and putting Sanchez back on the left.

  16. jjgsol:
    buckagh,

    Ok, so I am delusional ( no doubt in a not rude and insulting way). Please explain in what way anything that I have suggested is delusionl.

    I am prepared to stand corrected.

    Jjgssol

    I certainly don’t mean it in any insulting or nasty way, but I thinkk Bill and Andy have corrected your points,

  17. C

    Agree with your team selection although I think Giourd should start especially if Ozil and Kos do. I’d then have Ox on the right. That side should easily beat Leicester.

  18. Ornstein also reporting:

    Price the issue. Arsenal want to hold back funds for possible striker signing. #AFC transfer budget factors in fee, salary, agent commission

  19. Adam Singh,

    I didn’t start Giroud because personally I think the only thing missing in attack against Liverpool was Ozil as we saw the immediate impact Santi had. I worry about Giroud because we simply have no idea what Giroud we are getting and I would rather start him from the bench so he knows if he wants to play he has to prove it.

  20. Man United got Ibrahimovich or whatever his name is for free. Do you think he would come to Arsenal, no he went to United. He knows Mourinho will not be afraid to spend Man United money even if they don’t have any, because he wants to win trophies, Arsene Wenger wants to save money for the owner and keep his job.

    We are not an ambitious club, never will be under this ownership….It’s a well run corporation with the only purpose of making money while spending the least amount (Cutting Costs).

    While Great football clubs spend big, if the manger fails to deliver in a couple of years, they get fired and we try again.

    Our Legendary Savior is now the one bringing us down with the help of the Owner.
    Until one or both leave this club, this is who we are…..hanging around the big boys, we might get some scraps (FA cup) here or there but nothing major.

  21. Arsenal’s problems can be listed according to rankings as 1, Wenger, 2, Chambers, 3, Walcot. Wenger insanity costs Arsenal dearly, and Walcot doesn’t deserves Gooners colours. Chambers doesn’t deserve at all to be Gooner players. He failed when tested as full back 2 as well as centrally. If he were not an English, he could have seen more red cards frequently with his customerly pulling opponent’s shirt. He won’t
    improves and he deserves out.

  22. Don’t worry lads or ladettes, The divas have assured us not to panic, as where’s olly Giroud, Kos and Ozil will be back….the spine, the same spine that keeps cracking every season!

  23. You know what is so galling? Even if there are issues it was the way the team just capitulated. On the opening day of the season.

    Vexation of the spirit.

  24. The thing that bothered me is the fact that at 3-1 down, it felt like Liverpool were going to really put us to the sword. Heads were down and there really was no direction. I’m still baffled why Le Coq stayed on having picked up a yellow and clearly not as effective in his duties for fear of grabbing a yellow. I know its just a theory, but maybe Xhaka provides that bit of spark at half time that we clearly were in need of.

    Would we have seen Ox or Santi if Iwobi and Ramsey didn’t get injured?

  25. buckagh,

    I do not see how Bill and Andy have corrected anything.

    The truth surely remains, that AW did not leave out Kos, Santi and Xhaka because he hates the fans and wants to annoy them or because he wanted to lose. I have suggested reasons, which may or may not be correct, but no one has suggested that I have to be wrong or corrected me on these points.

    We were certainly on top in the first half and their left back was being tormented by TW.

    Klopp would have been blind not to see that and clearly plugged the gap, although i did not see how, possibly as it was on the other side of the pitch.

    He also found a way to get his players to attack our defence more and succeeded.

    By the time AW was able to counter with his subs, it was too late.

    Let us be magnaminous and give credit to Klopp for whatever changes he made, as they certainly won the game.

    ON another day, they might not have scored those 2 goals (which I missed, as I did not start watching the 2nd half until 15 minutes had gone by), but yesterday they did.

  26. A question jigsol,

    regarding our defence. and your point about how hard it is for us to manage to actually sign any players, Why couldn’t we buy the best defender at the European championships and a good friend of one of our main midfielders for a modest £12m probably on modest wages too?

  27. jjgsol:
    buckagh,

    “I do not see how Bill and Andy have corrected anything.”
    I did 🙂

    “He also found a way to get his players to attack our defence more and succeeded”
    Wow! Imagine that. Wenger just sat there shaking his head.

    “By the time AW was able to counter with his subs, it was too late”
    My goodness!
    Wenger’s first two subs were forced by injuries and his 3rd was the wrong one. I’m not sure how swapping a DM that was playing well for another who’s playing his first competitive match for the club is going to help when your chasing a game. But at least he could have swapped him for Le Coq who was lucky to not get a second yellow.
    Please do tell how he countered with his subs.

  28. Xhaka is not one of our main midfielders, a passing nerd who cant tackle. can’t score and a red card waiting to happen. and Elneny is a waste aswell, a new denilson.

  29. Pistol Fish,

    You may be right, and then again perhaps you are not.

    Once again we find ourselves in the position where AW has the benefit of actually knowing the players and what they can do and how they can do it, whilst we know absolutely nothing other than what he can see and have seen.

    I am prepared to accept that Klopp got it right. Clearly before AW could do anything about it, either by substituting or by gesticulating to the players the damage was done.

    Sometimes you get it right and sometimes you don’t

    Yes, you are correct , the substitutions were because of injuries.

    However, do you not think that some substitutions would have happened, sooner rather than later? Perhaps not the ones that happened, but I suspect that he would have brought the Ox and Santi on anyway.

    Can you not accept that Klopp made changes which succeeded, so credit should go to him, rather than approbation to AW?

  30. When is Gnabry due back from the Olympics? I know I am clutching at straws but could he be the answer to our CF problem? He’s quick and looks to have a bit more strength than Theo and can clearly finish. But wasn’t he shit at West Brom? Although I suspect he will need a holiday when he comes back, won’t be physically 100% ready and end up getting a hamstring / thigh / calf / eyelid strain.

  31. dukey,

    I take that as sarcasim about Xhaka. Ramsey as our main midfielder, well lets not start down that path shall we. Ashley Williams would have been a good short term signing.

  32. dukey,

    I have no idea.

    Was he for sale?

    Ramsey played well in the euros, and how good or bad was he yesterday?

    Perhaps you should write to AW and ask him.

  33. Holding should not have started. Kozzer should have been rushed back. Yes we did this to disastrous effect with Alexis last year. Difference is that we could then give Kozzer a 2 week break in Sept when we play weaker opposition (without the firepower of Firmino, Coutinho and Mane) and we have Gabriel back or a new CB.

    But Wenger sees the big picture…37 more games to go and plenty of time to panic later to ensure we get that last 4th place CL qualifying spot.

  34. I have for many years had the view that when in a discussion, someone starts to insult, that invariably means he has no valid arguments.

  35. JJGSOL

    I realize that we don’t really know what goes on behind the scenes. However, We have been top 4 every season in this decade but not once have we given ourselves a chance to win the title. There does not seem to be any real urgency from Arsene or the club to shake things up and do something a little different to improve our chances to take the next step. Even you have to be wondering what is going on by now.

  36. Unquestioned blind faith has never worked for me when it comes to the sports teams I support. The only thing I ask is to think that management is willing to use it resources and they have as much desire as me to do everything within reason to gives us the best chance to win. We still might come up short but I least I want to believe they are doing everything they can.

  37. Arsenal Football Club is a bit part of a larger business that seeks to maximize profits. The company is a property management company that sells condos and generates money from it’s property Emirates stadium. The football club is just one part of the larger company which is a small part of Kroenke’s larger worldwide holdings.
    The football company seeks to maximise profits but if they lose sight of their fan-base then the profits will decrease. Supporters need to make management know that they aren’t happy with the highest ticket prices while the club sits on it’s profits – money that could be used to improve the on field product.
    I’m not sure if Arsene is the problem or the symptom of the problem. Fans need to make it known at the Emirates that enough is enough….or at least reduce ticket prices to make them in line with teams of similar standing.

  38. dukey,

    Is that not a problem?

    Surely the joy and fun of blogging is the exchange of views amongst friends and like minded people?

    No one should be insulting anyone or calling other correspondents names.

    Where you have a situation where, when there is an adverse result, people are eagerly queuing up to hurl invective and insults at AW, then surely the whole point of coming here in the first place is lost?

    One of the most pernicious aspects of the internet is that people can and do say the most vicious and unpleasant things about others with complete impunity.

    One of my sons works for a company who do reputation management on the internet, to protect people from slanderous and disgusting things that are said about them.

    When you turn lively debate amongst fellow bloggists into a competition to see who can be the most insulting and unpleasant, then perhaps we should all stand back and consider where we are going.

    Mr YW, this is your blog, so in which direction do you want it to take?

    A healthy discussion forum where people exchange views in a positive environment about a subject that we all love, or a market place for a rabble to vie with each other to express nasty and unpleasant views as insultingly as they can?

    Good night friends.

  39. Jigsol
    “Can you not accept that Klopp made changes which succeeded, so credit should go to him, rather than approbation to AW?”

    Yes and no.
    Yes I can accept that Klopp made changes that succeeded.
    No, Wenger has fucked up royally again and again. He deserves all the approbation he gets.

  40. I don’t buy the argument that we can’t buy players, we are just cheap…That’s all.

    Every club and player can be bought with money if you’re willing to spend it.

    On the other hand, we are not asking them to pay 100 million on one player….We just want enough players to cover the ones the fall apart on a regular basis.

    I’m rephrasing some pundits here: What was the point of building the new stadium? To compete with the big boys….But 10 years on, we are competing with the minions and clubs punching above their weight.

    Our philosophy since we moved to the new stadium pushed good players away…..They know, we can’t spend or we won’t spend so why come to us?

    I said it before, only the desperate and the young players seeking education and a chance to play will come to us so long as we have Wenger and Kroenke.

  41. Jigsol, this blog is tame now the divas have been kicked to the kerb. again, being called snide or delusional is hardly threatening blogging.

    anyway Williams was for sale, he went to Everton for a measly £12m. And Wenger has brought on on this stick himself for neglecting his duty of care. he should be struck off now! well, no, just bloody bring in the bloody players we need please. give the fans some hope. I really do think he does it just to piss the fans off though. how the fuck we have ended up with no defence and no strikers is beyond me.

  42. For the first time in 25 years I really didn’t give a shit about an Arsenal game, I have not even seen the goals. If Wenger and the board can’t be arsed then neither can I.

  43. Dukey,

    We are always short players…..The beginning of the season, the middle of the season, and the End of the season.

    No one does anything about it, Wenger, the board, nobody….It’s by design, they just want to coast with spending the minimum.

    Wenger have players from under 18 training with the first team squad and he counts them as part of his big squad.

    Bull shit and nothing but.

  44. Just a minor point, Leicester have signed 5 new players this summer. I’m sure Claudio could have gone with some bigger ticket players if he had wanted to, but the highest amount he spent was around £15m. He has also cleared our some dead wood and generally tidied up his squad. Not a bad thing to do by a manager who had just won the league. I doubt he would have had too many problems if he had gone for bigger names and Leicester had been willing to pay the money and the wages. Instead he targeted the areas he wanted to add to, identified the players he wanted and then bought them.

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