The Last Thing We Need Is A Half Time Lead.

Morning. Straight to the point, Saturday was a big festering pile of donkey shit. I took out Foster from the fantasy league team, as playing against a Chelsea team on the rebound after divorcing Uncle Fester and getting canned at home he was bound to get a hiding. Instead he kept a clean sheet, made 145,023 saves and got man of the match. 11 points lost. Drogba as my captain got a whopping four points. For about 10 seconds there, in front of Stelling and the boys, I seriously contemplated ending it all right there and then after events earlier in the afternoon. But then I realised Brum had actually scored, Chelsea had been beaten and it seemed a little bit more bearable. Champions don’t lose back to back league games remember?

Not that we were able to capitalise of course – we suck shit these days, whenever we take a lead. You’ll have probably read 100 articles by now bemoaning our loss, covering ground often trampled. It was against spurs and at the end that twitchy stroke faced prick was able to walk on our pitch again. He should have been carted off with his head between his legs, but after the 4-4 and now again, we gave him reason to walk across the turf. That really drove the nail home.

Remember This?

Remember This?

Is there still any debate about the handball/penalty? Fabregas did it before against Liverpool, blatantly, in Feb of this year and got away with it. Take away the notion of intent for just a second – you cannot raise your arms in the penalty area. If you do, and the ball hits your arm, you open yourself to the risk of conceding a penalty. I’ve been taught this at every level of football I have played. It is beyond doubt that Fabregas would have been taught the same. Over and over again. When you’re leading 2-1 it is unthinkable that anyone would raise their arms in the wall, let alone above their heads. Even as a total accident without intent that will be given as a penalty 9 times out of 10. Now question the intent – he’s done it before, and in the slo-mo replays I’ve seen, it genuinely looks to me like Cesc is stretching to reach. It looks like intent, which means that the penalty will be given 9.9 times out of 10. Seriously annoyed about that, the players didn’t even jump, they put their hands up. What’s the point in putting Chamakh in your wall if he’s not going to try and head the fucking ball away? Baffling, and distressing.

It’s cheating and it was rightly punished. I could understand it if it was going in the net, like Suarez against Ghana – you could argue it was instinct, but on the edge of the 18 yard box? Jump and hope the keeper does his job.

But, that wasn’t the only problem was it? We can’t keep a lead – neatly surmised by Jacob Steinberg in The Guardian:

…And then they imploded, as they so often do. Already this season they have relinquished leads against Sunderland and Shakhtar Donetsk. Last year they drew 2-2 with West Ham after leading 2-0 with 16 minutes to go, and lost 3-2 to Wigan Athletic after leading 2-0 with 10 minutes left. This is a side that once contrived to draw 4-4 with Tottenham when they were 4-2 up in the 89th minute. It is not surprising, because it keeps on happening.

While there is much to admire about Arsenal’s football, they no longer know how to win and Arsène Wenger is incapable of instilling a maturity in the side. Surely he would have drummed home the importance of retaining their lead for as long as possible; within minutes of the restart, though, Tottenham were back in the game. Arsenal are too open, unable to shut up shop as champions must, lack leadership and concede too many soft goals.

And it’s not surprising is it? At 2-0 I wanted to text every Spud I knew “HAHAHA LOL 17+ YEARS, WANKERS”. But I didn’t. Because I knew we still had 45 minutes to play, and as Wigan showed, 45 minutes is more than enough for Arsenal to lose a game from a commanding lead.

How glad am I that I only wrote that message and didn’t send it?

I’ve said so many times on this blog (usually in the comments) that Arsenal have a team with enough depth, quality and experience to win the domestic league. I often get jumped on saying we can’t win it – but read carefully what I say – we have a team with enough depth, quality and experience to win it. I don’t think we will win it because obviously the style of football Arsenal play will never win a league again unless we start playing the defensive side intelligently.

We want to play with the beauty of Barcelona but with none of the work. Do you remember ‘that’ first half against Barca? They didn’t just play us off the park on the ball, they tracked, the worked and the bullied us into making mistakes. Every time our player had the ball, two of them closed him down.

Arsenal can play any team off the park – but they can’t get the ball back when they lose it. We just invite pressure. At 2-0 up would any other team in the league invite Everton onto them for 20 minutes? No, most of those teams would be in Evertons faces, taking the ball and keeping it.

Playing defensively, protecting a lead, is not about retreating into the penalty area and clearing the ball in a panic strewn mad hoof. It’s about pressing, standing your ground, giving them no space to move it about, and then holding it when you do get it. Counter attack if you like, BUT DON’T GIVE THE FUCKING BALL AWAY SO CHEAPLY.

Arsenal should have come out in the second half and played how we ended the first – Cesc Fabregas dictating the tempo, slowing the team down, concentrating on holding the ball for ten minutes. Spurs were always going to come out of the dressing room with fire in their bellies, all Arsenal needed to do was let it cool down again. Instead they gave Gareth “Better Than Messi” Bale the chance to score. It was a very well taken goal mind.

Until Arsenal learn when to temper the storm of attractive attacking play and learn to play keep ball for a bit (and I don’t mean with backheels Alex Song, I mean look where the fuck you are passing), until they learn to defend on the half way line instead of the goal line Arsenal will win nothing. Despite having what I sincerely believe to be one of, if not the, best squads in the premier league.

The only other positive was VDV scoring and getting two assists, 15 points for the fantasy league. What a shitty silver lining.

  • fredric

    EDIT – Please don’t copy and paste entire articles from other sites. Provide a link, or dicuss, don’t Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V.

  • Berth

    @ Dev –

    A friend I adore told me what we need.

    See it this way when Manu gets to the peak they become unstoppable but when Arsenal gets to its peak they become stoppable.

    – We need to belief in victory and not the game

    – If you want to shoot, shoot don’t talk.

  • theusualsuspect

    The people that you so blindly follow, the man that once a legend is long gone. All we have now is a pathetic French c**t who should fuck off and do us all a favour.This is the last straw for me, the way I felt after the match, and the way I feel now has not changed. I have supported Arsenal a very long time and have been going to watch my beloved gunners for nearly 20 years.Never have I felt so bad in so many ways. The players he picks I have no admiration for apart from Nasri. Lets be honest he is the only player in the whole fucking team we love right now. Cesc is going so I don’t give a fuck about him anymore.Wonger will do nothing to change anything nor will he strengthen the team to build morale and motivation. He talks the same utter bollox every week about maturity, well if you signed a mature player you will get maturity. The difference in signing a world class player is obvious; ask those counts down the road.Wonger has lost the plot, I don’t think he is capabale of managing us and I don’t think he has the brain or the heart for it anymore. He is stuck in his ways and doesn’t understand the modern game. I have had so much heart break because of Wonger and I am sick of it. Trips to Wigan away I thought no way could be as bad and that at least I have suffered that so nothing can really beat it. Then we loose to the scum, first time since 1993.This is why that man who is our so called Manager is a c**t. He doesn’t deserve praise just because of what he used to do. I had a great month in September smashed a company target. Doing shit in October and November. this means I get called into my Boss for a bollocking

  • Kodjo

    @ Kieran

    I agree with you 100%!!! Its just the manner of capitulation…that angers me. And Wenger comes out with another stupid excuse…too many games…yeah right we all new there would be international b4 the start of the season!

    Lest you forget spurs also had player who played for their country…even if it wasnt so that is a silly excuse. Wenger may be trying to protect his players but we are not stupid. The calamitous second half was there for all to see.

    Besides seeing Wenger remonstrate with Cesc, Clichy & Chamakh towards the end of the 2nd half, what was he doing sitting on the bench all the time. I (watched the game thousands of miles away from Canada) could tell that the body language and the mentality just wasn’t right.

    I only saw Wenger react after the 3rd goal….please Wenger arrest he situaion b4 it gets worse…sometimes he needs to sacrifice flair for pure grit!!!

    This where coaches like Mourinho (even though i dont like him) excel…or even Feggy ….e.g he sent on Chris Smalling as a striker to unsettle Villa after getting the qualizer…he read the situaion well and went for the jagular even though he didn’t get the win.

    Honestly, i am fed up with the excuses!!!!

  • sameer

    @Kieran and Kodjo. I appreciate the post and where it is coming from, but it does really bother me when people blame Wenger. I’m sorry, but that loss is on the players.

    Honestly, Wenger is one of the best managers in the world and we arent gonna get anything better right now. That game was on the defenders letting Defoe win a header for the 1st goal and our captain giving up a penalty for no reason.

    I do think the manager should have brought Theo into the game after the 1st goal to get the crowd back in the game and allow for the counter-attack given Sp*rs were going to be pushing.

    I was in the stands and right before the 2nd goal, Chamakh was running down the left side and tried to cut back, but lost the ball. Within less than a second, Wenger told Rice to call RVP and you see Rice waiving at RVP to get back to the bench and get ready.

    That said, while we do lose painful games, let us not forget that we are blessed with a great manager and we arent gonna get a better one.

  • edison

    i think its all too easy to overeact to the loss on saturday.

    Wenger has been quoted saying he is is adamant he will continue to give ‘every drop of my blood’ to turn the Arsenal into winners. and I believe him.

    on the value of things the loss, although embarrassing hasnt ruined our chances to still be well in with a shot in this title race.

    Yes we are all still hurting, to give spurs such a clear cut chance at winning a game, where at 2-0 we really should have sealed it off. Would a third goal have helped us ? it wouldnt have surprised me if spurs ended up making it 3-3 even if we had managed to grab another goal.

    the fact is, no matter how well we played – which in an attacking sense was one of our best performances – spurs were never going to let us rest. not this season. they are far accustomed to getting these late come backs, that it made 2-0 down to them see like nothing.

    And yet, we shouldnt forget – we sent them packing out of the carling cup at 4-1. But what else? we managed to hold them off as well, and saw the result through well into extra time. IT CAN BE DONE. Whats more, that was with a weaker team than we fielded on saturday. I keep bringing it up, but arsenal never seem to play at their best when they have a ‘full strength’ squad on the pitch. Rediculous as that sounds, but we have lost to Newcastle and Sp*rs when fielding too many creatively dominant players at once. Nasri, Fabregas, Van Persie, Arshavin, Walcott – when we involve them all at the same time – the team dynamic seems to get lost.

    chelsea have lost 3 out of the last 4, manc are just getting by playing bland unconvincing football, sp*rs wont be able to withstand Europe and the league – its only Man citeh that are looking threatening.


  • Gooner Get Ya

    Our trouble is our key players are all still unfit, Fab still has hamstring issues, RVP has hardly played and Arshavin seems to always be unfit?

  • devday

    Kieran… spot on mate, spot on… We want to play the beautiful game but we don’t want to do the work involved. It’s always been a problem with this current team – the unwillingness to close down and fight.