“[Against Stoke] I think we lacked a bit of everything: up front we couldn’t keep the ball, in the middle we didn’t run enough and at the back we conceded goals again. So all the team was to blame again and I think we have to really work harder and to give the confidence back to the boss because every day he is giving us a lot of credit. I think now it is time to realise that we have got the quality but we need to work harder because football is not only about playing nice football and goals. We have to really work as a team and maybe everything will be better. We have the quality to do it but it’s just a fact of being focused and working as a team because in football when you play a collective game everyone has to turn up, everyone has to defend, to attack and to run for each other. So if we try to do this and we can do that I’m sure we can still have a good season.” The young Frenchman is quite clear and quite correct about what’s going on. If you think about the performances of the first XI against Stoke when they’ve played against other teams, you’ve got to think they they are good enough to beat Stoke. Would you rather have Adebayor and Bendtner or Fuller and Olifijana? Really? I think we’d all opt for Ade and Bendtner any day of the week. But the problem is down to mental aptitude to want to do well. Arsene’s admitted the recent form has not been to the desired standard and he spoke about this at the Tuesday press conference:
“Let’s re-establish what we have not done well recently, defend together as a team and continue to play in a positive way. The same people who say we are not good, let them say it in three weeks when we are the best. We want to be guided by the way we want to play football, our spirit and not to go over-board. We lost a game but we are six points behind the leaders. It is the start of November and we have plenty of quality to get it back.”It’s tough without some of the players who’ve left, and yes they’ve not been replaced, but does that necessary mean the quality isn’t there? Well, the technical quality is there, but not the mental quality. That’s for sure. We do have players like Diaby and Djourou who will have their chance, probably tomorrow, and do have the attributes we need, even if they lack the experience. So far (cite Gallas, Toure and Almunia, who are three of the most experienced players), what does experience give us except for complacency? Back to the Stoke game, and it was bit of surprise that Arsene didn’t comment on the reckless challenges that have seen three of our top players injured, but he did mention it today.
“I read that my team were not brave. I can say that they are brave and for me, you need to have more courage to play football when you know that someone is tackling you from behind without any intention to play the ball. The only intention is to hurt you and I can show some tackles where I can prove what I say. The one who is tackling is not the brave one. For me the brave one is the player who is trying to play football.”On reflection of the game and vigorously expressed through the comments, how on earth did some of those tackles get unpunished? Okie dokie, hopefully, this is the last time I go on about Stoke. Hopefully we’ll win every game 4-0 from now until Christmas. We’ll see.]]>