Tinker Not Ye Arsene…

So where do we go from now? One thing is clear is that the continued tinkering of the team isn't helping. When we made the changes on Saturday it was clear to see that we invited the pressure and it eventually told. When we travelled to Stoke, we rested Walcott, Nasri AND Van Persie. I say and in capitals, because those are arguably our three most dynamic players - Cesc aside. Arsene has talked about rotation but you can't tinker so much and expect a win. We have many talents in our team, but there is no substitute for creativity in a game which is wholly based on such an attribute. The selection of Bendtner and Ade means the "moment of magic" up front was also missing, which is something that Vela and Van Persie possess, which us also why the Ade and VP and the Bendtner and Vela partnerships work well.

When we travel to a place like Stoke, we need to play our game, which means using our pace, creativity and skill to pass them off the park. I can understand an extra midfielder or more defensicve when we're in the second leg of a Champions League game with a 2-0 lead to protect and effectively need to play out the game. But four central midfielders and two target men starting against new promoted Stoke? With the team selection, surely we were trying to match Stoke rather than put them on the back foot.

In all reality, ALL the dropped points this season shouldn't have happened. All could have been avoided. But alas, it's history now.

And the selection of Silvestre baffles me. Toure should always be chosen ahead of Silvestre. I'm sorry Arsene, but that is 100% the case. Yes, Toure was at fault for the first goal, but blame for goals will always have to be apportioned. Why didn't Almunia come out and catch the ball? We have a player in Johan Djourou who has excelled in every game he's played this season, yet somehow doesn't get a look in. It's not time to experiment with Silvestre. That really should have been done in pre-season.

I know there are financial constraints, despite our wage bill being vastly bigger than last season. But tactics, line ups, formation and set pieces are down to the manager. And I really hope Arsene realises this. Of course, I don't think he should be sacked, that's ridiculous, but how long can this go on before some change happens or has to happen. With the squad as it is, we do have the players to challenge. Look at them, when on form, they're pretty damn good. We've shown glimpses of this against Porto and Blackburn. If you lose against a decent team, then you can sometimes say "okay, it didn't go for us", but we have lost to both promoted sides this season in Hull and Stoke, and that's simply not good enough.

So it's over to you Arsene to sort out the team selection, get it right, restore Djourou, play 4-4-2, include the dynamic players when you can. If Nasri and Vela are fit against United, play them. They are the players that can score a goal out of nothing. If they are unfit, then invest in a proper winger who can come in, not Denilson and Diaby on the wings. We've got young Jack in reserve, Vela can also play there.

A Champions League game midweek and then the big one on Saturday. Man United at the Emirates. We REALLY have to win.

Til tomorrow.]]>

  • Fo

    < ![CDATA[It is really really strange that Arsene left out all the attacking players to play Stoke. I really don't understand his logic.

    Why is Silvestre starting ahead of Djourou? Arsene needs a strong whiskey. Or maybe he's had one too many already?!?!]]>

  • Ramsey08

    < ![CDATA[It is quite simple - what we should all do is turn up at the game against Fenerbahce and support the team as much as we would if we were in the middle of the Unbeaten Season.

    That is what support means, and for anyone who thinks it is clever or good to start moaning at the team, or booing if things don’t go well on Wednesday night, then the one thing that person is not, is an Arsenal fan.

    Maybe its the fact that I started supporting Arsenal in 1956 when Tottenham were not a fantasy outfit but were actually top of the league and playing much the better football. I had to live with years of no championships and no cups. Later there were the long boring years of Mersey domination and I had to put up with that.

    But I still supported the team, whoever the manager put out.

    We have no absolute right to win things. Of course different decisions could have meant different results, and we are living through one of those rare spells where the Lord Wenger looks like he is getting it wrong.

    But reading some of the blogs it looks to me as if the writers have forgotten that our manager was sacked by Monaco for not being consistent enough, just as they are forgetting those 3 years when we came second to Manchester Bankrupt year on year and there looked to be no way through.

    Wenger is a genius, but he does not deliver the championship year after year. If that is what you want, go to Scotland and support Celtic, and then when they slip for a while, move across to Rangers.

    For Arsenal fans this is a frustrating and tough time - losing to Stoke, Fulham and Hull, but there is only one response for us, and that is to support the team even more. To be there on Wednesday and again on Saturday, and to keep on and on supporting the club, knowing that it will come right.

    As I have said so often, if you were not at the match before the start of the 49 unbeaten run, you don’t know what depression about Arsenal is all about. It was awful. The feeling for that first game of the 49 - the home victory against Southampton - was so bad that on the walk up to Highbury from Finsbury Park you could buy best seat tickets from the touts for £20 - and even then they couldn’t sell them.

    Of course the players have a duty to us, because we pay their wages. But because we have chosen to give our lifetime support to Arsenal, we have a duty to the club, and that is to be there, and to give the players that the manager chooses to send out, our total and unconditional support.

    That is what it means to be part of Arsenal. Unconditional support. Nothing less.]]>

  • Gary

    < ![CDATA[First up, a few points that need making clear.

    If there was actually no money to spend this summer, then Arsene Wenger is in cahoots with the board about the myth that there was. That makes him as guilty as any director for misleading the supporters.

    Arsene Wenger attends board meetings as a matter of course, even though he is not an appointed director. He is in full possession of the facts regarding the club's real financial position.

    Obviously if there was money to spend and the manager has willingly chosen not to strengthen, then it is an outrage that fans are being asked to pay the prices for admission being asked.

    The problem with the team is that the manager pumps them up mentally to believe they are capable of greatness. When they are defeated by championship plodders, there is no fallback, only collapse. This group of players will only recover when bolstered by a number of new signings. Their confidence and self belief is shot. It'll get worse before it gets better.

    Long term, what needs to be realised is this. Some of the very young players will bring more to the team than their older colleagues. Time to start playing – albeit selectively and not all at the same time – Ramsey, Vela, Wilshere and Djourou. Let’s see what these players are made of. If they are better than the current bunch, then start playing them more regularly. Now is the season to experiment in the Premier League. The team won’t challenge for the title, and the more established players have little motivation in a battle for fourth place. Younger players will. We’ve more chance of making the top four by playing motivated footballers.

    As for the manager, he has got it badly wrong and needs to be honest about his errors – either that or apologise for lying and admit he had no money to spend. Looking at the wage bill, my guess is that money is there, but he has chosen to use it by rewarding some average players with some big pay packets. Sell those that obviously aren’t worth even £20k a week that are obviously being paid so much more.

    He needs to buy in January to begin the rebuild. Let’s try and win the FA Cup with our strongest available side and see if the side can ride their luck in Europe. He needs to stop saying he believes in this group of players or that it’s the best he’s ever worked with. It’s emperor’s new clothes stuff, it doesn’t wash anymore and it makes himself and the club look stupid. By all means believe in individual players, but not the group. It’s surely the worst he has ever had at the club.

    There are three ways this can go. Either complete decline – which will lead to Wenger’s dismissal. Continued inconsistency with brilliance mixed with performances like those seen at Fulham and Stoke. In which case we simply bump along until 2011 hanging onto a top four spot as tickets become easier to get hold of for Arsenal matches and general sale signs go up frequently. Or Wenger admits his folly and abandons the experiment whereby major players are not bought if they are over the age of 23.

    Has the manager got the stomach for a fight? He’s 59 now. It will take him at least until the 2010-2011 season to put together a good enough squad to challenge for the title again.

    But there are more fundamental problems which indicate the prognosis is bleak. Wenger has enjoyed too much power for too long. And that has corrupted his judgment. Even if the club is struggling financially, that doesn’t excuse some ridiculous starting selections or bad substitutions. Last season’s challenge masked the fact that things have been allowed to slip – defensive solidity, team spirit, tactical know how. High wages paid to over-rated and arrogant players – few of whom could pass the ‘show us your medals’ test – have created a rotten culture at the club. Arrogance and complacency - in the manager and as a consequence in his players.

    Both the backroom staff and the board would not say boo to a goose where Wenger’s concerned and that isn’t a good situation. The idea that Wenger is playing a part in the decision to appoint a CEO means the employee is effectively choosing his own boss.

    What Saturday told us is simply this. Arsenal Football Club no longer have any bollocks. And that is very sad. It is also not a situation that can be tolerated for any length of time. If the board won’t let the manager know that, the fans soon will.]]>

  • http://kierandelaney.net/blog kierandelaney.net/blog

    Ramsey – 100% sense.

  • Tom G

    well said Ramsey. with you all the way. not that it isn’t interesting and even important to discuss what might or might not be going wrong.

  • Tom G

    we love you arsenal, we do

  • Fo

    I don’t think the blog was saying that we shouldn’t support Arsenal or that we should boo either. I agree with Dev, the team selections have been wrong – Saturday was a real disaster. Now we are without Walcott for a month!!

  • Paresh

    < ![CDATA[Wenger has four problem areas, so he needs to make four moves. His problem areas are goalkeeper, centreback, defensive midfielder and captain.

    1. Drop Almunia, who can’t even dominate his six-yard box, let alone his penalty area.

    Use Fabianski against Fenerbahce and let the Pole show us he’s a goalkeeper. All summer I thought Almunia would lose his place by Xmas. As Jens Lehmann said, How many big games has he won for Arsenal?

    2. He needs a big , nasty centreback who is six foot four like Vidic. He uses raiding fullbacks but lacks an anchorman to protect his back four. He should buy two big, tough Belgians. There are dozens of them. Just buy a big Belgian and put the No5 on his back. Then put another one at No.6 in the Alonso role.

    3.Defensive midfielder.

    He lost Flamini and Gilberto after selling Diarra, so that was just Edu &Vieira revisited. Wenger is consistent, give him that. Denude midfield, then wonder why your results are patchy, why you concede too many goals.

    In the summer of 2007 he made a bold and brilliant move when he replaced the Invisible Wall with the one-man whirlwind. A year later he lost both and did not replace either. If he wanted another Flamini, he should have signed Di Rossi from Roma. If he wanted another Gilberto, he should have signed Kompany.

    Ten games into the Premier League season, the teams that have reliable anchormen are at the top. Man United have Carrick back, and Hargreaves in reserve, plus the energetic, pro-active Anderson, who is more like a left-footed Flamini. Liverpool have Mascherano and Xabi Alonso and Lucas. And Chelsea have replaced Makelele with Mikel, a big strong boy with a good touch. Aston Villa have Gareth Barry, who is similar to Alonso

    Denilson, bless him, is a mini-Fabregas. But he can't do what Fabregas does, he can't do what Flamini did, and he's too small and too young to do what Gilberto did.

    4. Cesc Fabregas will walk in the summer if Arsenal go on like this.

    Spain has become a proper team which has improved as Arsenal have declined, so Fabregas is now playing in the best team Spain has had for 50 years, and the worst team Arsenal have had for four years.

    If you’ve played in a balanced, powerful team, you do not want to play in a flawed team where the keeper is a joke, the goalscorer runs offside all the time, and your Keystone Cops defence panics every time there is a high ball into the box

    When Fabregas plays for Spain he knows that David Villa and Fernando Torres can score at any time. They are hot and can grab every kind of goal and score from half-chances ; van Persie and Adebayor are flaky and unreliable When did Villa or Torres miss the chances that Adebayor wastes? Would they petulantly barge the keeper as van Persie did at Stoke?

    David Villa’s runs in Spain’s recent game against Belgium were quite amazing. And Belgium are not mugs. They are improving rapidly. Villa's movement and finishing are fabulous. What a player ! And he wanted to join Arsenal last summer. Instead, Wenger bought a kid from Marseilles and a kid from Cardiff.

    For Spain, Fabregas has the crafty, strategic Senna anchoring midfield, the tough Puyol at the back, Xavi, who can run and link all day, and the magnificent Casillas in goal. Spain is a real team that has won something. This Arsenal is an unbalanced team which has won nothing.

    Fabregas is a steely player, very determined as well as very skilful. He is the most popular player and should be captain. He can rally the team and lift the crowd.

    5. The best way to improve a team without buying new players is to tighten them up with a new training regime. Give them a new input from somebody. Therefore Pat Rice should be replaced by Martin Keown. It would be ridiculous for Keown to join Tony Adams at Portsmouth. Those two have never got on well because they are different animals.

    Unfortunately, Wenger is a bit weird about Keown's involvement in the Champions League run to Paris. From what Flamini and Toure said, his advice helped them. Arsenal kept clean sheets and got to the European Cup Final for the first time and lost 2-1 to Barcelona with 10 men.

    But I gather that Wenger does not like to hear any mention of Keown’s contribution. It’s a secret we’re not supposed to know. Why would he be weird about that? Because he’s the smallest big man in world football? Because he's a radical cleric, an ayatollah of attacking football who refuses to bother with such dull matters as basic defending? Is it : I am the way, the truth and the light, I am the true messiah, thou shalt worship no other god but me ?

    Well, the radical cleric’s doctrine has failed. Packing the team with French and African kids has failed. That is what he did in his last days at Monaco, and it got him the sack. He got rid of all their experienced players and eventually the president said : Enough !

    Basically, all managers lose the plot and Wenger had a bad summer. If you have a bad summer, you have a bad season. If your squad stays about the same, it's going backwards.

    However, the long-term slide is more worrying.

    Since 2004, Arsenal has been a declining team, and this month they could get hammered by Manchester United and humiliated by Chelsea. Their title challenge is over already and anxious Gooners no longer want to hear a once-great manager say, “I believe in this group of players.” The fans don’t believe in this group of players. They really don't believe in this group of players. Many of them would like to keep Sagna, Clichy and Fabregas and replace the rest of the team.

    If he has any sense in this situation, Wenger would now concentrate on the FA Cup while carefully accumulating more points than Aston Villa's well-organised journeymen.

    I reckon Arsenal will finish fourth.

    But if Aston Villa are fourth, I'm going to say : He has 26 scouts but he couldn't discover Ashley Young, who was playing for Watford on the other side of a hedge at London Colney.]]>

  • vinashin

    < ![CDATA[First thing I will say is that I dont believe in all this "they dont care about the club" & "paid too much" mentality from some of our fans. They do care. Cesc was clearly down & Clichy was visibly hurt. Just because they walk down the tunnel with their heads down doesnt mean they dont give a sh*t. Like all of us at work, they need a character, a leader, to lift them & remind them that they are very good footballers & to get back to doing what they do best.

    If we were to get 1 guy in there who in the midle of the game could get them going when heads were down, we would be right up there. Yes we need a DM, I agree that Almunia is not good enough, but 1 leader would lift this current lot so much. Cesc is carrying the whole team on his shoulders & the burden is too much. If he was at UTD or Chelsea he would be in the middle of a 2/3 week break right now. The guy couldnt even pass the ball 5 yards on Sat, he's shattered.

    It is for this reason I still believe not paying that extra £2m for Alonso will cost us dearly. He's an experienced pro who would have taken some of that burden from Cesc as well as seemingly a nice person to have at the club. I feel for Denilson as he's trying his best but is not a Flamini type player. I still cant believe that Wenger thought we can go a whole season without replacing Flamini, Gilberto & Diarra. Too much pressure on a young squad.

    What RVP did was stupid but shows the mentality at the club. They are frustrated. We dont need whole sale changes but we do need a few tweaks here & there. I hope Eduardo's return will lift them but even getting Beckham on loan, just as a squad player, would have given all the players a boost.

    We need a fresh mentality Arsene or UTD will take us apart on Sat. I dread to think what will happen if we concede first.....]]>

  • raj

    < ![CDATA[With all the talk of Arsenal not having a defensive midfielder or big lumbering centre backs or not having a strong mentality has no-one else noticed that Arsenal were actually kicked off the pitch by Stoke on Saturday. Three players had to be taken off by the end of the game which is extreme for any match. Shawcross hacked Adebayor down from behind (isn't that a red card?) when the ball was out of play (isn't that a red card too?), then just got up and sauntered with a smug look on his face.

    The thing is that I absolutely know that if it was any of Adebayor's Big 4 counterparts Rooney, Torres or Anelka that were tackled like that, the Stoke player would have been sent off straight away, there would have been uproar in the commentary box, the press and MOTD afterwards and interviews with Ferguson/Benitez (can't see Big Phil doing it to be honest) demanding the ref's give more protection to their superstars and the FA would extend Shawcross's ban. However on Saturday nothing was said Shawcross's tackle or Delap's maiming of Walcott either in the printed press or on MOTD. Nothing zilch nada! Just the usual cliché's about Arsenal being weak and not able to handle the physical side of the game.

    This seems to be a recurring theme in the football community's opinions on Arsenal. Weak and injury prone. For example Stoke's Abdoulaye Faye boasted prior to the game that they would play physically against Arsenal as they weren't hard enough unlike Chelsea, Liverpool and ManU. Here's the thing though Abdoulaye and Lawrenson - if you go flying with tackles to players ankles and heels all the time even Chelsea's Iron Men would start going off under that kind of "typical British game". However out of the Big 4 only Arsenal seem to be getting this treatment on a regular basis. Their constant injury problems seem to be put down by Pete Gill and various mailbox contributors to be down to poor medical staff, Wenger only buying injury prone or Arsenal just being foreign and not British enough for the premiership. What's obviously the problem is that Arsenal are being singled out by lower table teams like Stoke, Bolton and last year Birmingham because they believe that kicking them out of the game gets results.

    So why Arsenal and not ManU? Simple - the referees of course. While no seems to be allowed touch any of Sirs superstars without getting a card, teams can regularly hack Arsenal down with impunity.

    I can only put this down to the English referees having an innate sense of bias against Arsenal as they see them as bunch of foreigners who are ruining our game unlike the other Big Three who are bravely flying the flag with about eight Englishmen in their squads between them.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Stoke wouldn't have beaten Arsenal without hacking them down as they would. Arsenal couldn't handle Delaps throws and didn't create any proper attack on goal. But before everyone gets carried revelling in Arsenals misfortunes they should recognise that the team is getting kicked out of the game and the referees are complicit in this.

    You know this is an open secret in the football fraternity]]>

  • Debs

    gosh is it just me or are these posts really long? I can’t read it all! :)

  • Debs

    < ![CDATA[our season so far has sort of been:
    This is a game we can win,
    then this is a game we should win;
    then this is a game we have to win
    This is a game we really should win
    This is a game we must win
    This is a game we really must win
    Now it's as if ALL the games we play now it is WE REALLY REALLY HAVE TO WIN and WE REALLY REALLY CAN"T AFFORD TO LOSE!
    I just hope we don't rue all those lost points at the end of the season!]]>

  • Pissed off

    Deb ur right in this one. Wenger already said dat the Manu game we realy ve to win. I belief we really ve to win but how feasible is that

  • Debs

    I dunno know you know! Just realised that its at 12:45! I just hope the man u players are not able to settle cos its early! But what are the odds of that? I hope they underestimate us (which is quite easy right now) and we turn in some amazing performance. We’ve not played the big 3 yet this season so I would actually like to see how we perform, even though we’re missing quite a few players… but yeah, fingers crossed! Although I’m tempted to wake up just right after the match on saturday and save me some heart ache! lol. But I’m hopeful though. That’s all we can be at the moment!