Bish, bash, bosh…

Our season has yet again been plagued by injury and this time we're down to the bare bones. You've got to consider Arsene's thinking this summer. He thought Rosicky and Diaby would make the start of the season and saw Diaby and Cesc as the central midfield partnership to take us into the future. With both players injured so far this season and Diaby just about making his return, it has clearly interrupted our season. Van Persie, Sagna, Toure and Gallas have all been in the wars and Silvestre was bought whilst injured.

So, why am I dwelling on this? Well... the Stoke game saw us pick up three injuries to add our treatment room in Adebayor, Walcott and Sagna. Raj made an interesting set of points in yesterday's blog: (a few somewhat controversial points here too)

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.

It looks like Ade will be out for two weeks, Walcott looks to be out for a month and Sagna for probably a week or so.

So Arsene has revealed his starting line up for the game against Fenerbahce:

Almunia
Eboue – Toure – Silvestre – Clichy
Denilson – Song – Cesc – Ramsey – Diaby – Nasri

Yes, he is starting with a 4-6 formation and playing 6 central midfielders!

“Diaby and Nasri can play as strikers, they have the quality”

Okay, not he’s not, but at the moment, you wouldn’t be surprised if he did!

But in all honesty, we are down to the bare bones. Against Fener, we will probably have to line up like this:

Almunia
Eboue – Toure – Silvestre – Clichy
Nasri – Song – Cesc - Diaby
Bendtner – Vela

As we don’t have anyone else! With Fabianski, Djourou, Denilson, Ramsey and ermmm… Wilshere, Gibbs, and one other warming the bench????

I’m a big fan of Djourou and NOT a big fan of Silvestre, but Arsene sees it the other way round of course… After our defeat on the weekend, Stoke keeper Sorensen says we lack spine and for the first time in a long while, I can’t disagree!

Fener preview tomorrow.]]>

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[thanks for nearly giving me a heart attack dev !!!!

    ur right though. one of these days we'll see something like a 4 - 6.

    also, wenger likes playing attacking football doesnt he. it'll prolly make sense to him if he plays a 0 - 10. we'v been pretty non-existant defensively. why doesnt he try that. no defenders. just midfielders and strikers.]]>

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[on a more serious note.

    it being a home game and us having nearly qualified, i'd like to see clichy getting a rest before the big game against manutd on saturday. silvestre could play left back with toure and djourou in the center. or gibbs could play leftback with silvestre in the center which looks slightly more probable.

    isnt eboue injured as well. if he is then maybe toure or djourou will play rightback.

    i'd like to see ramsey get a run. as well as vela. in fact its highly likely that we see bendtner and vela up front. if vanpersie is allowed to play, then maybe he will but i'd still like to see vela get 60+ mins.

    its probably best that cesc gets a rest as well. we need both him and clichy mentally and physically fresh for manutd. theyr two of our best players and the fener game isnt all that important. we'll be okay even if we get a draw. on the other hand some would say we need to get some sort of confidence going into the manutd game, and players who'll play manutd should play here to get their confidence levels elevated. but then thats the tough decision wenger'll have to make. does he rest his players bcuz he sed himself, they look jaded. or does he make them play and get their confidence up. personally i'd go for option 1. rest cesc and clichy. maybe get them on at the 75min or so.

    almunia
    toure djourou silvestre gibbs
    nasri ramsey song diaby
    vela bendtner

    i'd say theres a decent balance to that squad. sub nasri for wilshere at 60mins to keep him from getting too tired to be 100% against manutd. and doing the same with diaby. sub with denilson.

    we'll prolly be needing nasri and diaby both for manutd. as well as vela and bendtner. maybe vanpersie could play the 90 if he's available, since he doesnt play against manutd.

    we barely have a squad for manutd !!! arghh]]>

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[we'r still in 4th place with newcastle beating aston villa.

    and i just read the arsenal reserves beat fulham 2 - 0. amaury bischoff was playing and he's had a great game. a goal and an assist and some decent long distance shooting practice he got.

    his goal was was the result of a long range strike.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNCR_TBNgYs]]>

  • Pissed off

    < ![CDATA[Wenger already said dat the Manu game we really ve to win. I belief we really ve to win but how feasible is that.

    Wenger's comment is becoming a childs play.]]>

  • Debs

    < ![CDATA[i'm a bit worried that this season we've lost a bit of our respect. Even if man u, liverpool or chelsea played like how we played against stoke, their goalkeeper wouldnt say all what he said in the manner he did. It's not so much the fact that he said what he said, but the fact that he didnt give a toss that it was us. Obviously I'm not saying that because we're in the top 4 other teams should roll over, what I'm saying is that not much respect is being shown to us by the other teams and I think that's sort of affected the team, or the fans at least.

    But yeah, that aside, i'm a bit worried about the game on weds cos our small squad has been even reduced further and we still need to rest players for the crucial game against man u on sunday. I hope we can come away with all three points cos that will really help the confidence of the team.]]>

  • zaheer

    hahahah… i don’t suppose Eduardo is up for an early return against United? Also is RVP definitely out for the Fenerbache game? I thought if you got a red card in the EPL you were only banned for one EPL game hmm…

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[if you get a straight red then you are banned for 3 games. i duno if its the same in the champions league. and i duno if getting red carded in one competition means you get to miss the other as well.

    can someone clarify]]>

  • Debs

    i dont think rvp’s red card extends to champions league. I’d swear he’s only banned for EPL games but I’m not too sure though!

  • willsscott

    < ![CDATA[RvP is only banned for English games, so will miss united wigan and the next game.
    We might as well play him on wed and maybe give nasri a rest.
    I'd like to see something like this:
    Almunia
    Eboue-Toure-Djourou-Silvestre
    Ramsey-Diaby-Song-RvP
    Vela-Bendtner

    With fabianski denilson wilshire nasri cesc gibbs and clichy on the bench.]]>

  • raj

    < ![CDATA[There is a lot of anger flowing around Gooners at the moment and I completely understand why. We are struggling at the minute and it is very hard to watch the club we all love perform like this whilst the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool go from strength to strength.

    There are a lot of Gooners out there with their own answers to the problems we are facing and whilst I respect every opinion my fellow Gooners have, one answer keeps popping up that I don't agree with. Sack Arsene Wenger.

    This is without doubt the most difficult period that Arsene Wenger has faced in his time as Arsenal boss. Big questions are being asked of him for the first time by Gooners and he has to deal with it, but first, he needs to be given the chance to deal with it.

    The situation we find ourselves in is down to Wenger and he deserves the chance to get us out of it. He has done too much for this club to be sacked, we are not Tottenham, a club who panic and sack every manager at the first hint of trouble brewing. We have to much class for that.

    We have remained without silverware for four years, yes I know how frustrating it is, it's even more frustrating when you know that Wenger could have strengthened the side to put us in a stronger position to challenge. But where would sacking him leave us? With more problems than we currently have that's for sure.

    Trust me, losing Wenger would be someone else's gain. How do you replace him and who with? The answer's are not so simple. Losing Wenger would mean an exodus of half this side. I understand that we want players to be tied to Arsenal and not Wenger but unfortunately that's the way it is. Players want to play for Arsene.

    At the moment the players are under performing and it IS down to a lack of experience. Players like Denilson have the potential to be good players but it's too much to ask him to perform every week. He needs help and guidance from senior players, he won't get that from the current squad, there is no one there to help him. That is where Wenger has gone wrong and needs to rectify it. He can't expect a bunch of youngsters to play well every game.

    Arsene Wenger has made mistakes over his Arsenal career but the most glaring mistakes he has made have come over the last couple of years. It's easy to see from our point of view what needs to be done. I only hope Le Boss can see too because he is in real danger of his legendary status being tainted at the moment.

    I don't want Arsene Wenger to be sacked and I don't think he will be either. But what I do want is for him to take a deep look at himself and admit that his way isn't working out to plan. I know he is a proud man but it doesn't make him weak to admit that he needs to makes some adjustments to his ways of management.

    He revolutionised the English Premiership but he is in danger of falling behind in the league that he helped to prosper. Arsenal football club have benefited hugely from Arsene Wenger but Arsene Wenger has also benefited from Arsenal in a big way.

    He deserves the chance to get Arsenal back to the top of the English game and redeem himself in the eyes of some Gooners who believe his star is losing it's sparkle. I understand your frustrations my fellow Gooners but this is one Gooner who thinks that letting Arsene Wenger go would be a bad move for Arsenal.]]>

  • Debs

    I agree totally with you raj. the answer is NOT to sack Wenger. that’ll just be ridiculous and totally Sp*rs!

  • ray

    < ![CDATA[Four years without silverwear? Oh no. The world is about to implode on itself. Sack Wenger, sell everyone. Dismantle the Emirates because we ultimately, at the end of the day have a God-given right to Silverwear! Three seasons ago we were oh so close to the Champions league crown, two years ago our kids were unfortunate to lose to a full strength Chelsea in Cardiff and last season 5 points was the only thing that stopped us winning the league. It's not like we haven't been challenging for honours during our 'barren' spell.

    That said, Wenger seems to have run out of ideas. The youth policy is not working anymore. It has been a failed experiement and if he persists with it, Arsenal run the risk of falling too far behind their rivals in the pursuit of top honours. The squad wasn't strong enough to sustain a title challenge last year and this year, rather than improve, things have just got worse.

    On the other hand, the club is in a no -win situation if Wenger goes. Most of the players will follow him out the door and any new manager will need time to build his side, all the while we still fall behind further and go a few more years without trophies.]]>

  • Fo

    Van Persie will be playing tomorrow!

  • femon

    < ![CDATA[On Saturday, before the Stoke game, I said that as a test of the players’ mental strength, of which we have heard so much, largely the same team as faced Spurs should go out at put things right against Stoke. And other than the crazy tinkering in midfield, that was mostly the case.

    Unfortunately, it quite spectacularly didn’t work. Rather than using the Spurs debacle as inspiration to go out and send a message to the doubters, they proceeded to show a complete lack of fight and allow many in the media to roll out their ‘I told you so’ line.

    We now move into November, a month where we are traditionally extremely weak. It is so often the worst month of our season - whether it is the intense ‘every three day’ cycle of games, the cold snap, or just plain coincidence, something about the month sees us slip up. In 2006, we picked up four points from four games, losing at West Ham and Bolton, in 2004, we managed two from three, drawing with WBA and Crystal Palace and losing to Liverpool, and the pattern continues the further you go back.

    This season has the potential to be another nightmare. Already with the Stoke loss opening the month, the rest of our league games are against United, Villa, Man City and Chelsea. All may end the season in the top six.

    The saving grace is that the first two are at home, giving the crowd a chance to lift the players and set the season going again. And that is what is needed now. Yes, we need a centre back, and yes, we certainly need central midfielders, but we aren’t going to get them for at least two more months, so back the players we have. They have the talent, they have the potential, and at a time when they aren’t surrounded by the experience needed to guide them through, they need support from the fans instead.

    Fenerbahce tomorrow night are a perfect example of that - their fans truly are a twelfth man. If ours can be on Saturday, United might be in for a surprise.]]>

  • gary

    < ![CDATA[I will admit that this goals allowed (GA) number is a bit problematic. It’s very early in the season for one, Arsenal could tighten up their defense and keep a couple of clean sheets and turn around their GA average. For example, Chelsea are currently on pace to only allow 13 goals which would be a runaway best ever but only allowing 13 goals in a season is not realistic.

    The other problem with the GA is that, historically, the team with the stingiest defense doesn’t always win the league, it’s only a pretty good predictor, and it completely falls apart when trying to nail down the top 4 spots.

    And really, isn’t it just a wonkish way of saying “Arsenal need to tighten their defense?” Which we all already know. I don’t know a single person who thinks that Arsenal can score their way to the League title, I mean apart from Arsene Wenger.

    The club do need to figure out a way to tighten up the defense and some people think bringing Keown in will help. Given that Tony Adams revealed that Arsene has targeted the former Arsenal defender the people and the press might be on to something.

    Personally, I’m not hopeful. Every three days Arsenal are linked with so and so and such and such and every third day the link is broken. I think the press just like messing with us Arsenal supporters. Of course I think Keown would be a great help — anything has to be better than what Pat Rice is teaching them.

    What I do think Arsenal could do is regain some of the fire that they had last year and the year before. I don’t mean that fire that gets you sent off for a simple tease, I mean the kind of fire that sees you close down, tackle hard, win the ball back, and generally frustrate your opponent. That’s going to be difficult since Arsenal have a lot of matches and such a small squad but I think they can do it, right now, with the players they have.

    It starts right there in the middle of the park and it starts first with Cesc. I’m not having a go at Cesc, I’m just saying that this season has shown his weaknesses. This isn’t the same kid who fearlessly tackled Patrick Vieira and took the ball off him. This isn’t the same kid who stood up to Fat Frank in the Carling Cup final. He’s looked pretty poor this season but worse, he’s looked disinterested at times and I’m not certain that he strikes fear into our opponents any more. Maybe he’ll never be that type of player, or maybe he’s just in a slump right now. Either way Wenger needs to shake him out of his current condition.

    Standing next to him on most days is either Denilson or Song. I happen to believe that both of these young men have the physical ability to play the role that Flamini played last year. Interestingly, on evidence of the games I have seen them play in, they also have the technical ability to play the roles. What these two seem to lack is that intimidation factor that the position really needs. But, again, that’s something that Arsene could bring out of them: show them a video of Patrick Vieira’s greatest moments and say to them “alright, Son, go get em.”

    At this point, that’s what I would do. I would have a chat with Cesc and get his head on straight and I would turn Denilson and Song loose. So what if they get a few red cards? Vieira did. So what if they make mistakes? Vieira did. At this point there’s no one to buy, so we need those two young men to play with wanton abandon and drag this team up.

    Add in a fresh defensive coaching perspective to the mix of a loosened Denilson and Song and I think we could see that something special that Arsene keeps telling us that we have.

    Ok, well, enough Football Manager I’m seriously on verge of turning into a cocksandwich with this post. Up next is Fenerbahce, who are struggling at least as much as we are having just conceded two late goals to give a “lesser” opponent a draw and also losing one of their most influential players to injury. They should make a good foil for Arsenal right now and I’m looking forward to the game on Wednesday. I’m not sure we’ll be able to see the match over here in the states since the only game that I can say for certain is being broadcast right now is the Juve v. Real Madrid match. So, stay tuned for an update on that.

    OK, well, that’s that… Turn the boys loose, Arsene, let them run riot over the Turks!]]>

  • vinashin

    < ![CDATA[So arsenal lost to Stoke....they are definitely out of the championship race ( according to the wise sages of this idiotic world). The theory was that the Big 4 or 5 will not lose points to the bottom teams. Spurs go on to beat Liverpool and no top analyst says Liverpool's season is over because they have lost one game, they also happened to draw with Stoke which is 2 points dropped according to the title winning theory.

    Man U drew with Newcastle and Everton teams that Arsenal soundly beat but they are still considered strong title favorites and that is after 10 games. Given Arsenal lost a few games but they still have a chance to win the league if they win a lot of the games left ( not all ) . Man U, Chelsea will all drop points to some teams in the league and Arsenal can still win the league.

    Arsenal dont have a defensive midfielder according to most people but in a tournament including Yaya Toure, Alex Song of Arsenal was considered the best defensive midfielder in The African Nations cup making the team of the tournament. Man U and Chelsea could not win at Fenerbache and Arsenal did that and their season is still considered pear shaped.

    There is a reason why most of these commentators and other so called experts are not coaches...as we like to say in South Africa >>They dont know fokol.

    Arsene Wenger is a top coach, Almunia is a great goalkeeper, Denilson is an excellent player and Song is a defensive midfielder.]]>

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

    < ![CDATA[Without playing devils advocate I've noticed a sudden influx of anti Pat Rice comments and a sudden support for Keown. What was Martin Keowns last coaching position (teaching Lineker not to dribble on MOTD doesn't count) and what does he offer over an assistant manager that took a team an entire season unbeaten?!

    Don't get me wrong, I think the coaching staff need a quick refresh for sure, but its ludicrous to bring in unproven coaches just because they were good players - Keown would no doubt bring a lot of tactical nous to a defence, but when the defense are largely fat/uninterested/rubbish has beens it won't solve anything.

    You would say Sagna or Clichey require any extra coaching - because they are brilliant players. So why coach Silvestre/Gallas, why not just replace them?

    Its too easy to blame the coaching staff when a team stutters, and its wrong when the same coaching staff have bought so much to the table.

    The only thing that has changed since the invincibles are the players. Maybe they just aren't good enough.]]>

  • JAT

    you are all forgetting that RVP’s ban will be domestic only. Unless he too was injured vs Stoke I expect him to start up front with Bendtner or as lone striker, with either Bendtner or Vela on the bench.

  • devday

    < ![CDATA[Hey Guys*,

    Apologies for any confusion. RVP is fit and will be starting against Fenerbahce.
    A proper Fenerbahce preview tomorrow no doubt.
    Dev

    * Not implicit directed to males. Guys is used as a collective term.]]>

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

    Fucking hell – 5 up front away from home in Turkey, lone striker upfront at home. That would sort of sum Arsenal up wouldn’t it!

  • Debs

    Well, we’ve got injuries, dont we? By the way I’m so happy right now cos Chelsea are losing 3-nil to whoever they are playing! That makes me feel so much much better! Until 2moro I guess!

  • Pissed off

    Kieren not just de players attitud, Wenger is no longer the coach we used to know. His decisions of late has been suspicious.