Forest Expose Arsenal Flaws

Nottingham Forest 4 – 2 Arsenal

In an ideal world, we’d be sitting here agreeing that the team performance was the reason that we lost. And it was; poor officiating just made the margin of defeat wider. By one goal.

I thought the first penalty was a foul and nothing I’ve seen since has changed my mind. There was a clip which purported to show no contact but it just made it more certain in my mind that Holding clipped the Forest player’s knee. David Ospina proved no more adept at saving penalties that Petr Cech.

Had the second penalty not been double-kicked, he might have got close to it. I’m not quite sure why Moss ran to his lino to speak about it since the referee was facing the kick with an unobscured view. Everyone knew the ball deflected against Dowell’s standing foot, you could see the way the ball travelled. Moss didn’t.

I could see why the penalty was given. Debuchy definitely got the ball but I’m not convinced he took the man beforehand. Plenty are; would the VAR make any difference? Would we be any more sure?

So there you have it, I’ve put straws out there for you to grasp onto. Grab away, if you so wish. I’ll carry on with my own views of where we went wrong.

To be honest, it’s hard to fault Wenger’s team selection in principle. For years he’s been fielding a second string XI in cup competitions and beaten many lower league sides. We’ve muddled through in some instances but we got through. Why think yesterday would be any different?

Well, it turned out that yesterday was different. We lost and it was the senior pros where culpability lies. They weren’t up to the task in front of them.

Just A Shadow

That doesn’t absolve Arsène of his responsibility for the farce; he selected the XI. However, the team’s performance was abject. Defensively disorganised, slow, a non-existent midfield with a blunt attack.

Forest’s opening goal perfectly highlighted the issue. Ospina positioned the wall to cover the near post but the defensive line stood further away from the goal, inviting Forest to attack the ball with no fear of offside. Why were we even trying to play offside so close to our goal? Surely an experienced defender like Mertesacker knew that?

The home side targeted the BFG’s lack of pace and Brereton was Brer Rabbit when it came to Mertesacker, running the defender ragged. And promptly did the same with Holding when he popped up to mark him. Little wonder Arsenal are reportedly back in for Jonny Evans. To be honest, if he signed, Per really ought to start his Academy role straight away. We’re at that stage.

Maybe we’ll remember the equaliser more than the defending. In fact, I hope we remember the 2017 FA Cup final more than anything else.

I don’t know where to begin with Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi. The downward spiral with the former is too far travelled but the later? There were suggestions of a loan spell “to learn the game” and his recent performances really do make that something to seriously consider.

Walcott is a shadow of the player he once was. Leaden touch, his afternoon summed up toward the end of the game when the ball tantalising reached the by-line just as Theo caught it, sending it into the side-netting from an angle which was impossible to score from.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player so desperately in need of a move to resurrect his career.

Flawed Thinking, Radical Solution

While I could go through players individually and pick faults, too many are being thrown under a bus by the manager. Only Maitland-Niles plays regularly, the rest occasionally off the bench and it’s so evident that the XI doesn’t play together on a regular basis, not even in training. Why would you expect that kind of thinking to work? Why?

But you can expect them to play a damn sight better than they did.

Ultimately, the flaw in heavy rotation was exposed as was the folly of reverting to a back four. Mertesacker doesn’t have the pace to play a high line nor does Holding have the nous to cover the BFG’s lack of pace. Nor the confidence; you can see that being slowly crushed from the young lad.

Perhaps the biggest weakness was Wenger’s decision to have no Plan B on the bench. There was no experience to dig us out of a hole, there was no-one to strike fear into Forest as they limbered up. Nothing and no-one to begin a fight back.

After the game, BT Sport ran an interesting documentary based on Michael Calvin’s book No Hunger In Paradise. Arsène was on and as expected made some good points. But it struck me that the film, about youth development, put him into his perfect role now. Developing young players.

The modern game is ruthlessly exposing the flaws in his thinking. We’re dropping further out of Premier League contention and I’d argue that if we’re not already at that point, stopping Arsène investing in new signings this winter and then replacing him next summer is the ideal solution.

The thinking in football terms at the club is so broken, the squad so thin on talent, that a radical change must happen.

’til Tomorrow.

99 thoughts on “Forest Expose Arsenal Flaws

  1. Jonnygunner,

    He’ll see out his contract, and if next season he flukes a cup or makes top four he’ll sign on again with Ivan repeating that nonsense about how you will not find better than Arsene Wenger. Sorry to depress everyone, but we’ve been here so many times before.

  2. Great post. This was an experienced team though Yogi. I’m sure if you added up the PL and FA cup appearances of th staring 11 it would be close to 500. And this team has played together quite a few times this seasons in the Europa and League cup. I would only view Wilock and neilson as genuine ‘youth’ players.

    The players let us down big time. But Wenger should have had at least one of Sanchez or Lacazette on the bench plus Jack and Xhaka to sure up the midfield.

    Well done to Forest though. Hope they go on to do well.

  3. There were a couple of controversial incidents. Firstly Nelson dived for the FK from which we subsequently scored, and for Forest the second pen was a penalty, you can’t tackle from behind like that and expect anything else, but it should have been disallowed. So they more or less even out. Forest were deserved winners.

    Arsene called them a ‘very good Forest team’ but their recent record suggests otherwise. He said “When you’re against a team like that they’re very difficult to beat” which is odd because they had lost six of their previous ten games including a home defeat to a terrible Sunderland side. They also fielded several youngsters but actually seemed to have a plan and defensive structure unlike us.

    I have to agree that there is no point in giving Arsene money to spend, he buys badly and player regress once they join the club. Better to wait, suffer mid-table mediocrity, and give the new manager the funds whenever he might arrive.

  4. Wenger should have walked after the Bayern defeat…that was the death knell.

    All that’s gone on since is just more slow laborious painful demise.

  5. Just look at that photo that I posted last night. 11 Arsenal players all watching the ball. not one is looking at the Forest player on his own and onside in the 6 yard box. Not one.

    Broken. That’s what we are, absolutely broken.

  6. Good morning all. I’ve deleted yesterday’s game from my memory.

    Referee chief Mike Riley says that Mike Dean has admitted that he should not have awarded a penalty against Calum Chambers. Riley said that VAR would have reversed Dean’s (wrong) decision.

  7. Just so you know, the draw for the FA Cup fourth round is on BBC2 and BT Sport at 7pm…..oh! Wait a minute….we’re not in it are we.

  8. andy1886,

    Hmm, maybe, but if he don´t make top 4, no FA-cup, No EL Cup and bow out to Chelsea in the (that impossible name that I can´t remember) there`s no goals achieved.

    I think change will come and If he don´t reach any of the set up targets then it may come sooner than later.

  9. In my opinion Wenger threw the game. Sending out a 2nd team with no experience on the bench is as close as he will get to admitting he isn’t interested in the FA Cup. He has done this a number of times away from home in the past when the future fixture list looks a bit congested.

    He is starting to get desperate. Qualifying for the CL through the league is starting to look tricky, so the Europa League becomes very important. I think he will go kitchen sink at the EL.

  10. One thing that comes to mind after yesterdays party crash is the slowness of our defense. Mert and Holding are not lighting quick. Mert really looked like his legs had gone.

    But why do you play a back 4 (which I think we played yesterday) when you have maybe the slowest cb in the league and why did we sell Gabriel who may have lacked many things but did have pace?

    A lot factors cooperated negatively yesterday but essentially shipping 4 goals vs a championship team is not really par of the course. We´re making new lows and that`s why I think change is coming 🙂

  11. Welsh Corgi Cardigan,

    Good points WCC. We can moan about the poor standard of our attack (and Theo was truly abject), but if we concede 4 goals the focus should be on the defence. This is a common theme: 2 conceded to Chelsea, 3 to Liverpool, 3 to United, 2 to Palace. Far too many goals against.

    A back four with the full backs high up the pitch leaves two defenders. Holding and Per pressed a high line inviting a long ball, which highlighted their lack of pace. Elneny didn’t really play defensive midfield, so there was no cover, which made the Forest CF look like Neymar.

    If only we had a defensive coach on the bench…

  12. Welsh Corgi Cardigan,

    In answer to both of your points I believe that all of this is tied together. We got rid of a few players to cut the wage bill because we have accepted and are cutting our cloth to be a Europa League side. As a consequence we have a poorer squad and cup sides are going to feature squad players, so less likelihood of winning them. Fact is, the financial cost outweighs the potential return if we want to compete with the likes of Liverpool who can spend £75m on a defender, or United and City who have greater resources. Chelsea and Spurs haven’t necessarily outspent us (far from it in the case of Spurs) so we may just nick a CL place occasionally but we’re certainly not going to invest to do it.

    It’s interesting that we’re revamping the scouting side, the thought process there is to find those future superstars at an early stage (even though we’d probably sell them later – assuming that Wenger doesn’t ruin them first). The best players don’t need scouting, just the will to spend the sums necessary. So I can see where this is all going. It fits both Wenger and Stan’s M.O. too, one who hates spending and the other who loves to make profits. The fly in their ointment will be if the sponsors start to dry up, that’s when Stan may actually start to give a toss.

  13. I wonder how many gooners still believe that Wenger is the man to continue managing Arsenal?? Not many I would think. Of course our rivals love the fact that he is still in charge. They want him to stay forever!!

  14. Wenger could not remember Mavropanos who let’s believe he signed, he referred to him as the ‘Greek lad’, surely what Conte would call

  15. Thanks for the review yogi. I have been complaining about the tram defense since 2008 but yesterday was arguably the worst game I can remember in all of that time. It’s hard to understand because back in May Mert and Holding were excellent against Chelsea in the FA cup final Spending $2M for Holding looked at the time like a fantastic purchase and perhaps a top CB in the future and there were no chance concerns about his pace or his ability. How quickly things change. There has been a lot of talk about Elneny being the defensive mid who could provide a steady hand and some defensive nous to our midfield but that certainly was not evident and he was as bad as the rest of them.

    Our strike force if welbeck and Walcott was basically nonexistent. Nelson took a dive and won an important free kick and he caught the eye a few times but most of the things he did were not much more effective then anyone else. Overall it was a very poor performance and we deserved to lose to a team which has been poor in the championship.

  16. Did we play a back three or a back four yesterday?

    If it was a back three we had Debuchy, Mertesacker and Holding with Nelson and Maitland-Niles as wing backs.

    If it was a back four then we had Debuchy, Mertesacker, Holding and Maitland-Niles.

    Either way we should never have played the high line defence as not one of Mertesacker, Debuchy and Holding have the pace required.

    Both Maitland-Niles and Nelson, failed to offer any support to our sluggish central defenders, but instead roamed all over the pitch in an attempt to join the passing fest in which the rest of the team spent (wasted) their time.

    Where was the discipline? Where was the leadership from the captain? We are used to the total lack of direction from the bench, so Wenger’s absence from the touchline was not a factor and Bould was just as ineffective.

    I know I said earlier that I had erased the game from my memory, but I obviously hadn’t emptied the recycle bin.

    I’ll do it now.

  17. Orson Kaert,

    I think we played a back 4. Started out as a back 3 but morphed into a back4 early which really exposed Holding and Mert.

    I actually think it was a poor way of treating a club captain and a good player for many years.

  18. Excellent stuff Yogi and quite balanced given the venom that I thought you were going to write.

    To be honest, the least said about the game the better. I think more than anything I want to focus on a couple of players that were sold and even then I questioned and as the season has gone on for both Arsenal and them questions should only be raised and get louder.

    The first player is Szczesny, sure Ospina didn’t do much wrong yesterday but the fact that both he and Cech (who has been at best average) were preferred over Szczesny who iwith every performance is being praised more and more makes absolutely no fucking sense at all.

    The other player is Gabriel who has been at the heart and is the anchor of a suprised Valencia side that up until this past weekend was second and still sits in 3rd 2 points behind Athletico. Was he as bad as everybody made him out to be, absolutely not but he didn’t ‘look the part’ and wasn’t some ball playing CB which I think worked against him, he is just a no-nonsense CB who goes about doing what a defender is supposed to do AND THE OTHER THING IS HE HAS PACE AND QUICKNESS which is something we severely lack. I mean there were times during that match when Holding made Mert look like an Olympic sprinter.

    The fact that both were sold and questions were even asked then and the players that were supposed to be better than them have fallen flat on their face, just shows how much he doesn’t get it.

  19. Looks like the only way to qualify for any kind of European football next season is to win the the Spursday Cup.

    In financial terms 10 years ago we were about 10 million away from winning the league. 5 years ago we were 100 million away. Now it is about 500 million.

    Lots of reasons for that, even the special Un’s tactics have been left behind, but we still make the same mistakes.

  20. Latest transfer news:’

    Le Coq is set to be sold as he has been deemed surplus to requirements with West Ham wanting him.

    Juve think they can pry Ozil away especially now with Dybala out injured and its not looking good.

  21. Bonjour YW. I Always loved a good Bre Rabbit story.

    Question is How low can we go? This is the daunting question.

    I don’t expect the Board to stop him from continuing to ‘ play’ around in the Transfer Mercato. It does not bear thinking about. The future is not bright.

    Sadly with an absent Landlord, the Overseer is going to continue unabated to do as he pleases and indulge himself.

    No amount of individual or collective vent spleening is going to make any difference. I hope in earnest that some form of murmurs are being heard in the US.

    However I hate to say this but its going to have to take further humiliation and even then I’m not sure AW would consider quitting.

    AW gambled yesterday with having no back up on the Bench. He’s a ” chancer”. He gambled and it back fired. I guess AW will have strolled into Colney cest matin with the mantra” business as usual “. He does not feel the Pressure like other Managers as he’s not accountable like other Managers . Why else would be play ANM at left back? Nacho at CD.

    Since K Toure and S Campbell we have not had CDs whom were adept in the various aspects of being a decent, competent defenders. Both had the physicality, the speed, bravery, athleticism and understanding of each others Game. More importantly for Me they complimented each other and thus brought stability to the team.

    We have a collection of players in all areas of the Team whom do not collectively enhance the others strengths. A team has to have combinations,a number of different

    Keegan and Toshack ring a bell. They complimented each other. Of the current assembled ranks there are no combinations. We don’t have enough scorers.We don’t have enough different midfield options – combinations. Do we need Xhakia? Le Coq.

    Mert as you said YW should be put out to pasture immediately. He should not be allpwed any where near the Team again.

    Kos is no leader of Men in the vein of Adams, Keown or Viera. He must be replaced in the next 18 months.

    In Chambers, Holding and Mustafi had we a Coach whom drilled and prioritised defending they would improve. How much is debatable. However both Chambers and Holding are not of the level required to be at Arsenal.

    Iwobi needs to go loan. TW must be sold as soon as. Debuchy sold. Le Coq sold. Santi’s contract not renewed. Ospina sold.

    AW operates in a bubble. Safe from harm. Safe in the knowledge that He will decide when He will go. There is no Owner a la Abramovich bearing down upon him. Whilst still at Arsenal he will continue to do and say as He pleases.

  22. The Evans thing seems to be on the cards but hopefully City will trump us. Not something that I’d be excited about. In turn WBA are interested in Debuchy.

  23. Disappointing, but not devastating result. I’m a fan of the FA Cup (not so much the League Cup) and was looking forward to a decent run again, but we don’t have the squad for all competitions and we’ll most likely go out of the other one next, leaving just the Europa as our most likely trophy and route into Champions League.
    I think Wenger will see out the contract and maintain some sort of contact with the club; at least I hope so.
    Looks like we’ve got another diver to replace the outgoing one.

  24. Afternoon all,

    Wenger doesn’t do analysis of previous matches, so I have no doubt he will stroll into London Colney without a care in the world.

    Just a bit of an aside on the craziness of our coaching set up. We have two goalkeeping coaches in Gerry Peyton and Sal Bibbo with Gerry being the most ‘experienced’, having played most of his career with Fulham and Bournemouth. Jens, who is head and shoulders above the pair of them in terms of goalkeeping experience, has no input on goalkeeping.

  25. Welsh Corgi Cardigan,

    Gabriel was full on retarded. Seriously. Watch at least 1 interview. Pure retardation makes it hard to learn. And who will teach him to defend? Bould?? You’re having a lough.

  26. I don’t think the problem with our defense is the players as much as the team culture and the way we set up. Last season there were no concern about Holdings pace and chambers had more then enough pace while playing for middlesborough. Kos and Mustafi are as fast as the CB’s of other teams. Debuchy does not run like Bellerin but he isnt slow and I think he could match Sagna. If what C says is true then it says a lot that Gabriel and Wojo could both be so underwhelming when they played for us and suddenly improve when they move to a club that is more organized and actually places some importance on defense. The notion that either of them would have been an improvement over the players we have is fanciful given their performances when they were here. I don’t understand how we could let this same thing happen for all of these years. I honestly thought we were making some progress a couple of years ago but we have backslid again this year.

  27. andy1886,

    Yea, not at all thrilled about Evans at all and to think Debuchy has to be part of the deal, just seems like Arsene wanted one last window and that is the reason why our Barca man doesn’t start until the window closes.

  28. C,

    I suspect that he’s gone, hence his omission from the squad yesterday. Yes, I would take it. He isn’t going to make a difference under Wenger but it will be interesting to see how he does under a more defensively competent manager in Moyes.

  29. andy1886,

    Probably which now that I think about it is made even more interesting given Arsene talked about him featuring more in his presser before Forest and made even that much stranger because Arsene handed him a new contract last spring.

  30. The Defiant Goy,

    Yepp, Gabriel was maybe not everyone’s cup of tea. But he is a no nonsense defender with pace. Pretty handy to have when Kos Achilles is shot and Mustafis out injured🙂.

  31. I’d sell anybody if I thought it would do any good, which it won’t. Ditto for any purchases.

    All a waste of time as things are with Arsenal. All they care about is managing expectations and building their investment. For the Kroenkes that means big money, for the staff, including players, it means a regular wage, for Wenger, it means more time to fulfill his ego.

    Managing a football club? No they are not really interested in that.

  32. Wavey,

    Why would ‘keepers, with the experience of league and international football that Cech and Ospina have, need coaching.

    Most of the outfield players apparently get by without it….or maybe not.

  33. Jonny Evans as our saviour at centre back – No No No

    This is where we have sunk to under Wenger. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets rid of Mustafi on loan at the same time.

  34. Other then mert, I don’t think our CB’s are slow compared to those from other teams. Last season we were all very excited about the emergence of Holding and many of us felt Chambers would be a great CB after he matured. Neither chambers or Holding is any slower now then they were when we thought they had great potential. The problem is that our lack of defensive organization exposes them. CB’s have to be taller and stronger to deal with the aerial threat and none of them can match most strikers and wingers for pace. The key is use positioning and organization to avoid situations that require them to get into a foot race which they have no chance of winning.

  35. The Defiant Goy,

    Let’s leave out the r-word shall we? He may not be the smartest but that didn’t stop Gazza, Beckham or numerous others. I’d defy even the best CD’s in the world to be successful in the framework that Wenger offers.

    A team should be greater than the sum of the parts, Wenger simply throws a collection of disparate individuals onto the pitch and hopes that they click.

  36. Regardless of the Wenger factor talk of selling Le Coq or buying Evans is the equivalent of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. These are not deals that would make a major difference.

  37. The Defiant Goy,

    Don’t mean to be a dick but why do you think he is full on retard, why because he didn’t learn English? O yea and defending, he was pretty good in La Liga before he made his move and if you actually watched him play, he wasn’t nearly as bad as people made him out to and he backed down from nobody and rarely got outmuscled. Positional wise he wasn’t the best but that comes with experience. Now back in La Liga and he is the anchor of a suprise Valencia side.

    I would take him over Holding, Chambers the aging Mert and the Achilles shot Kos.

  38. It seems unlikely that Gabriel’s pace and his defensive nous both suddenly increased the moment he was sold.

    I think a back 4 of Eboue, Toure, Senderos, Flamini still has the record for consecutive clean sheets in the champions league.

  39. Andy

    We now have a huge sample size and the Emirates era has clearly proven that defense does not take of itself. I really thought Arsène had learned his lesson and things had improved over the last few years but this season has been as bad as ever.

  40. “But it struck me that the film, about youth development, put him into his perfect role now. Developing young players.”

    Perhaps I’ve misunderstood this but I wouldn’t let Wenger anywhere near any young players.

    He is totally incapable of coaching and developing them, he’d just fuck up their future.

  41. All wenger has done with the so called Youth Program is produce players with higher wage expectations than their talent can possibly justify.

  42. What a feeble performance. The players aren’t good enough was the excuse, but these players are scouted, bought, trained (ehem) and picked by Wenger and his minions. And if they are not good enough why are they in our squad? The manager has had funds available and could easily have turned the squad over a bit at a time. I get the feeling he is scared that the players he lets go may perform better with a close rival.
    Maybe the manager isn’t good enough either. He should leave now with at least a shred of dignity and integrity.

  43. Above all of this and after the performance, the question that I have is who does he play on Wednesday because Arsene talked about rotating during this period and all of that but in reality, after that performance, who can he really start from that XI outside maybe Maitland-Niles?

    I mean when you look at the front 3, none of them deserve a spot even on the bench but SURELY don’t deserve to start.

  44. YW– “The thinking in football terms at the club is so broken, the squad so thin on talent, that a radical change must happen.”

    I contend the radical change is ongoing.
    That it is in the phase where the damage is simply being managed. That the manager, and president, and owner have seen this particular stage coming for about 2 years.

    Keeping Alexis and Ozil this season had more to do with getting past the 38-point mark– so that this window, if necessary, Alexis could be sold and bring some return. If the club can/could mount a challenge for top-4? So much the better. If not? Then ride out the storm till summer and allow Mislintat/Sanllehi to begin in earnest with as clean a slate as possible.

    Since retiring the debt on the new stadium in 2010– the club’s TOTAL net spend is approx £200M+. Right at £28M per year. Don’t let public utterances deceive. There is quite a bit of money to rebuild.

    The radical change is in full-swing.
    You don’t announce it. You just do it clandestinely. Who cares if you look incompetent– or stingy– or nonchalant. Whatever form the smokescreen takes is just fine.

    Wenger is mortgaging what little reputation he has left to allow the club to go barren– and start over. I’m willing to trust this is– what it is.


  45. Interesting comments today. Now I get what Tony Adams was saying about Wenger’s coaching abilities (or lack of)…..

  46. jw1,

    Sorry if I’m being a bit thick, but I’m not sure I understand what it is that you are saying. What is the plan exactly? What has 38 points got to do with it? Who is this president? Do you mean chairman (he has zero influence) or CEO (Ivan)?

    When you say clean slate and starting over, what does that mean? We are completely refreshing our playing staff even though Wenger says two or three players per window is the maximum? Or are you saying that this is preparation for Wenger’s leaving?

    If this is intentional then it seems a pretty poor way to go about change, and it’s hard to believe that our owner saw this coming and it’s part of some cunning plan.

  47. Apparently Sanchez might be getting his wish soon of joining Citeh.

    Also saw reports mosy likely Theo will be loaned to Nice or Southampton.

  48. YW,

    Very sorry , but I could swear I saw some seriously racist banter here earlier. Must be in a fuzz still.

  49. andy1886,

    I’d like to reply at length at present, but I am 6 hours different time zone wise. Might even be tomorrow your time before I can do so. But you will find what I had to say interesting.

    *And sorry yes, I meant CEO not president


  50. jw1,

    Great, I look forward to it 😃 An interesting theory would make a nice change from the same old discussions that these groundhog seasons seem to bring up (and I include myself in that).

  51. andy1886:

    Great, I look forward to it 😃 An interesting theory would make a nice change from the same old discussions that these groundhog seasons seem to bring up (and I include myself in that).

    Indeed, I’m all ears.

  52. C,

    I wonder if he lets Theo go depending on Sanchez and 30 million from City?

    I imagine he’d hesitate to let two goal scorers leave. But it certainly would do Theo a lot of good changing environment. He’s been so deep in the fridge for 8 months that it’s hard to remember that he scored 19 goals last season.

  53. I’m not sure we can say no to 30 millions. It goes quite some way strengthening our squad for next season.

    To be fair, this season feels so far gone that the way forward is looking towards the next and with the squad in dire need for strengthening it seems like a real rebuilding job.

    Is it reasonable to keep Sanchez rather than take the money?

  54. If Theo is going to move to Southampton i don’t think there is any option outside of a loan. If Theo’s weekly wage is really north of $100K I can’t imagine Southampton being willing to pay that much for him.

  55. A couple of years ago we thought Le Coq was the best DM in the PL and he changed everything and brought balance to the team.

  56. andy1886,

    I won’t try to make my case in a single reply. It’s not the best fashion. What I’d like to do is have a conversation. I’d prefer not to plonk down a manifesto– but instead raise questions based on making comparisons and insights of interest.

    Could come a point where you decide I’m more idiot than idiot savant. If the prospect seems too far-fetched– I’d rather not waste anyone’s time. But I think what I’m seeing? I’ve seen before, up close and done successfully.

    If that sounds like a plan? I’ll lay out the premise.


  57. Fire sale…..trim the wages…..preparing for life of limbo. No better man than Wenger to see us through it eh.

  58. Le Coq deal looks set to be complete with the medical pending from what I see. Reports say a fee reported to be €10m-€12m (£8.8m-£10.5m) for Le Coq with a 3 and a half year contract on the the table.

  59. How about a few a le coq and get an elneny for free. Buy a chambers and get a holding for free. Or we could do a Tuesday half price offer across all players….I’m sure they are thinking of all sorts on how to clear the expenses.

  60. In many ways I will be sorry to see the back of Theo Walcott. He came to us full of promise, to be picked for the England World Cup squad at the age of sixteen suggested that he was a special talent.

    Sadly that promise and talent has been drained out of him by a combination of injury and the dead hand of Wenger’s coaching.

    I think he has genuinely done his best whenever picked for the first team. Unfortunately Wenger has swapped him from right to left and back again then to the centre and back out onto the wing. With every change of position his confidence must have taken a knock.

    He has been slaughtered on here and in the media for his performance in last night’s match, yet he has effectively been out of football for weeks, given only a few substitute minutes when the game has already been lost.

    No one, and by that I include the whole starting eleven and the subs, escapes blame for an horrendous performance which was riddled with errors and was a shapeless, hapless disaster from first to last.

    So to pick out Walcott for particular opprobrium is just a tad unfair.

    He has represented the club, and England, in a purely professional way, has never been photographed falling out of nightclubs or been done even for speeding.

    He has probably worked as hard at his training and game as anyone, but just no quite lived up to his early star billing.

    If Theo Walcott does leave Arsenal I wish him all the best for the future and hope that he can find a manager who can coach him back to a successful last few years.

  61. Orson

    Faces – John Cassavetes film from 1968.

    Roger Ebert sums it as “The central characters are…rather ordinary. They have everything in the world they desire, except love and a sense of personal accomplishment…their only identity is as economic beings who earn and spend money to sustain a meaningless existence. They don’t do anything, or make anything, or create anything.”

    Which sort of sums up Arsenal right now.

  62. Theo is genuinely a sad case. Up and down, up and down, we have at times clung to him as our future, with Barcelona calling.

    In all this though his mistake has been to not concentrate on what he was good at and he never had that killer touch that would have transformed the winger into Christiano or spur him on to the heights of Henri.

    The most damning shit is that he may have if he had left.

  63. Got a few minutes before I head out. The College (American) Football National Championship is tonight– meeting a friend at a tavern.

    I live in the US. Houston TX. Been an Arsenal fan since ’05.
    Played keeper in high school and college (back further than I’ll admit).
    So my slant is ‘from over here’.

    I’ve seen what I think is going on behind the scenes at Arsenal– because it happened here in Houston. Starting back in 2010. Analogies in two sports that might appear ‘apples to oranges’– Major League Baseball to PL Football. The underlying parallel being use of data-driven analytics. The known methods which are available to almost all clubs in both sports? Are being hybridized. Houston threaded the needle with their efforts.

    With regard to the link below–
    The similarity I’m going to express first– both baseball and football have minor leagues/youth academies to develop players. Unlike any other major pro sport in the US. The main difference? Is that in pro baseball relegation doesn’t exist. When you finish last– you’re just in last place (snd you get the 1st pick in the following year’s amateur player draft. A form of charity for the poor– so to speak).

    Know that the article below was written in 2014. That Sports Illustrated magazine predicted that the Astros, a last-place team for the previous 3-of-4 seasons? Would be the World Series Champions in 2017. They put this prediction on their cover. They were roundly derided at the time.

    In October 2017, the Houston Astros won the World Series as predicted by Sports Illustrated.
    With that lead-in? Let’s go.

    I’ve got quite a bit more if it piques curiosity.
    Love to hear some measured responses.
    Snide or snark ignored.


  64. Quite a sorry state we’re in. Call me crazy but all of this coincides with the loosening of Wengers grip on things. Is anyone really expecting any shock when things get worse after he goes.

  65. jw1,

    Thanks for reply, think I read a post from 7am some time ago that the ‘powers that be’ May be lookin at heading down the ‘moneyball’ route. So your comment on data driven analytics adds a bit more fuel to that fire.
    Sceptical? Me? Of course. Not that we’re heading down that path, I actually welcome it. Trouble is, the sounds coming out of this area appear un-harmonized.
    Thanks for the link, I’ll give that a read and get back to you if needs be.

  66. jw1

    I don’t think the model the Astros used to rebuild their club will work for Arsenal because the baseball amateur draft and the baseball minor league system is not analogous to the way players are acquired and developed in European football. The baseball draft gives the worse teams the opportunity to acquire the top talent. The transfer system in football is also not analogous to the the free agency system in baseball. In baseball free agents only move when their contracts run out. In football, players from smaller teams move as soon as the big teams identify the player as someone who can help them.

    We have seen from the project youth era that a team trying to build their squad by developing youth and unknown value purchased players is at a huge disadvantage. The big teams don’t develop their players. They build by aquiring experienced talent who are already known quantities thru the transfer market.


    Starting in the early Emirates era we put a huge effort into our academy but its been nearly impossible for us build our own important first team players over the years and a computer model is not going to suddenly change that. We don’t have the same scouting advantage the way we did early in the Wenger years. The rest of the worlds scouting apparatus has long ago caught up with us.

  68. Bill,

    Yessir. I am clear on disparencies in the methods of talent acquisition of the two sports.
    You draw conclusion, based on historical methods of judging talent from an era no longer relevant.
    Similarly dismissive certitude to that expressed toward the Astros– by nearly everyone in the game for years now.
    Until about 2 months ago.

    Suspend your disbelief– for a paragraph.
    Consider youth/talent acquisition not as the be-all end-all. But one facet. A facet within which, is exclusive ability to accurately identify can’t-miss prospects. Those with the highest probability of top-tier professional success. Based on analytical methods no football organization in the world currently has.
    Except yours.


  69. Morning Orse….I’m back on the Muscovado mate…..bloody lovely…..but keep it from Bob 😉(copyright of Nicky inc.)

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