Boy do I hate November…

November is the one month of the year that I simply hate – the lesser number of fixtures, the better – down at Arsenal, it’s a bogey month – a month where we lose games that we wouldn’t expect to lose and a month when any form we previously had goes straight out of the window. A 6-0 win against Braga at the Emirates turns into a 2-0 defeat over there – with virtually the same team, give or take a little.

Many people thought that we’d get a massive reaction out of the team after the collapse against Sp*rs and personally, I don’t believe we did. I don’t believe we saw the fight that we want to see from the team. The collective spirit was missing, and worst of all, our actual ability to play football has deteriorated. Many people say Arsenal lack a “plan B”… but what exactly is our plan A? Pass it sideways? When shooting is possible, pass the buck to another player in worse position? What exactly is going to win us this league or any competition?

These players have only one target – that’s the Carling Cup. Djourou has been in the press talking about our desire to win a trophy – well, based on the last 3 defeats in the league and 2 defeats in the Champions League, we’re not ready to win either of those trophies.

“We want to win a trophy. That is the main focus of the team. We have the quality and luckily we are not too far from the top. I feel we can definitely win a trophy this season. It has been a difficult week, we have had two straight defeats but now we have to bounce back. And what better place than Villa? We have the quality to do it. Now it is how much we want it. We are big enough to stand up for ourselves and be ready for Villa. The lucky thing in football is that you can always do better in the next game.”

The only problem with Djourou’s statement is that we did have the opportunity to play better and qualify for the Champions League against Braga after the abysmal result against Sp*rs. The other unlucky thing, in the same manner, is that we can always do worse in our next game.

I don’t want to put a downer on the season, or rid us of all ambition, but if we are going to get anywhere this season, then something has to change.

News is that Cesc Fabregas is out for 2 weeks, so he’ll miss Villa, Wigan (in the Carling Cup), Fulham (at home) and Partizan (at home) in the Champions League – he should be back for the Manchester United game, so that’s good news – also good news to hear Aaron Ramsey coming through 45 minutes of the reserve game. He’ll still be a month or so away from a competitive game, but progress is progress. On the bad news front though, Eboue is out for a month now. I’ve kind of missed him in recent games – I was looking forward to seeing more of him – at least both of these players have a forced Winter break.

Arsene spoke on Cesc:

“It is a big blow because it will question how cautious we have to be in the future with him. Cesc has played 50 games a year since a young age. We may have to be more cautious with him, especially in the next two months.”

As long as we don’t rush anyone back, we should have some fresh players for the second half of this crazy season, and they could last the distance… the last thing we want to do is turn Cesc into a 15 games a season (RvP style) player…

I’ll be back tomorrow, hopefully more enthused, more excited and with a big Aston Villa preview… til then…

  • Gooner Get Ya

    This issue I feel is our inconsistency, not just the specific players under performing but with the team picked each week seems to change especially in defence. one game it’s Kos and JD, next it is SS and Kos, the next it is SS and JD.

    As we have discovered with our Goalkeeping position, if we stick with the same person for a length of time, yes they make the odd error here and there, but, on the whole the consistency improves and with that the confidence.

    Obviously injuries impact on who we can pick but AW needs to pick a starting 11 and stick with it as long as he can.

  • Berth

    Just waiting on day to hear Wenger has resigned. Am pretty much sure it aint far.

  • goonerman

    Nottingham forest have got themselves one hell of a player for the next month or so!!

  • Kodjo

    @ Berth

    Who are the options if Wenger resigns??? any names ???

  • Berth

    @ Kodjo – I have got felix Magath and Joachim low and of course felipe Scolari. They are all could and top draws. My favourite though is Low.

  • Berth

    * good

  • GLONDON

    If we are so bad why are we being copied ?

    I hear Arsenal are so bad they can’t win a cup in God only knows how many years. Some say it’s five other six but the general consensus seems to be no one really can remember it, it was so long ago.

    So I called for some googling just to know how much we have been trophyless, since nobody seems to know the exact length of time (though we all know we won the FA cup against ManU on May 21st 2005.)

    So if my math is as correct as I thought it’s five years 5months and exactly five days since we’ve won a major trophy. (If that is not right its my fault for delaying publication of the article – sorry – Tony).

    That must be the longest trophy drought ever known to world football judging by the way it’s been talked up both by the media, the opposition fans and Arsenal’s own supporters or one large section of it.

    Last time a Liverpool was trying to have fan at my expense he said “how many years without a trophy is too many?”

    I asked him, “when was the last time you lot have won a trophy?”

    He started to explain, “Huh… we won the CL in Istanbul not long ago”.

    I told him that was 2005 and we won the FA cup that year and the correct answer was 2006 when they won the FA cup so just about a year later than us.

    “That doesn’t seem that long. But the way people are talking it up it sounds like an eternity” he said.

    So I checked the trophy drought top clubs went through in recent years and I found some astonishing facts :

    Barcelona the most successful club in the last five years have gone six years between 1999 and 2005 without a single trophy

    Inter Milan the treble winning team of last year have gone eight years from 1998 to 2006 without a single trophy

    Chelsea went from 2000 to 2005 without a single trophy

    Manchester United from 1985 to 1990 didn’t win a trophy

    Liverpool from 1995 to 2001 and from 2006 till now haven’t won any trophy

    This just shows there is nothing unique in modern times about the trophy drought of Arsenal. All these clubs suffered a lot more than us, failing to qualify for the champions league or even for Europe. But still people would make you believe we have to be going through the worst ever drought in world football.

    But what is really interesting to me is that clubs are copying Arsenal’s model, a model that has resulted in no trophy for five years, five months and five days. The model is built around a strong financial structure, a youth system, an attacking football and a worldwide scouting system even if we haven’t invented any of them we have succeeded in creating the best balance with them.

    Clubs have come to realize that “Money does not grow on trees” as said PHW. All those that could only spend, buy the best players they can think of, pay them as much as they would ask and are finding life hard. Clubs are going into administration, clubs are being bankrupt, clubs are being controlled by banks, wages are being hard to support and all that while the revenues have recorded some highs that are difficult to surpass.

    On top of all that UEFA came with a plan to stop “financial doping”. So out of necessity football clubs are behaving like normal people, normal companies, normal organizations as we cannot spend and keep on spending way over what we can ever gain.

    And as a financial model that can work in football, no one can ignore Arsenal. I remember some years ago when Newcastle’s Ashley was talking about how Wenger and the Arsenal board were working wonders and how everybody should copy only for Keagen to ask money and more money to sign the Beckhams of this world. Now everybody wants to be just like Arsenal in financial terms.

    Then comes the youth system, in order to have financial stability, you need to minimize your charges and in order to compete you need to maximize your talent and knowhow. What we know is the players that have shown to the big stage how good they can be are expensive but a year or so before they stepped up they were very cheap. So the idea was simple get them right before they show their entire talent which means get them young, which also means widen up your search field.

    That’s why Arsenal has built a world class youth project with the likes of Gibbs, Wilshere, Frimpong the first graduates (who won the first youth double and back to back league titles) and a worldwide scout network that can find any talented young player anywhere. That’s what everybody is trying to do, with Chelsea doing it the wrong way with the likes of Kalcuta and Neymar.

    What people should know is it’s a lot more difficult for English clubs, especially now with FIFA regulations on youth player dealings particularly under 17’s, to have a world class youth system. Arsenal cannot put into its academy the best English youngsters if they live outside 90 minutes drive from London Colney. What we see now is every club trying to build a good youth academy, get them through.

    This let me wonder why clubs supposedly successful are trying to copy Arsenal if we have been so bad?

  • Kodjo

    @ Glondon

    Well said …and thanks for putting the current arsenal situation into perspective.

    Notwithstanding that, it is the manner of capitulation or let’s say that evident lack of fighting spirit exhibited by the players that has led to the backlash. Clearly arsenal has one of the most talented teams but…as you know talent alone won’t win you anything. It has to be matched by grit, determination and mental toughness. That’s where we have been lacking. Where do we get it from…maybe Wenger can answer that question.

    Others have suggested the academy makes life too easy for the players…they do not go through the hustling and struggles of the reality of life…they start earning big money at a relatively young age.

    Sometimes the mental toughness that fans are seeking from the players is cultivated through tough times in life…it can’t be manufactured overnight or in an academy. There certain players who have the hunger and rive to be successful regardless of the circumstances. This where Wenger has to do a little bit of profiling b4 signing up players. Vermaelen is one such player…you could tell right from day 1 that he just had that hunger to succeed.

    I just hope that these players are learning from the disappointment and hopefully us it as a launching pad for success in the future.

  • CON-MAN

    pretty annoyed to hear ramsey gone on loan just as cesc is injured, unless Arsene wants to let him get games and get his match fitness back up

    to be fair there is inconsistency througout the league this year, we’ve messed up some games ala sunderland away and spurs at home but I think were 2 points off the top, lets get a run going and have faith

  • Gooner Get Ya

    This weekend could see us either go top or drop to 4th depending on other results. Which way will our luck fall? We will beat Villa today 3-1

  • funty

    Whenever we lose a game some of our supporters go into “worst ever” mode. The manager has to be sacked, the players are useless. Well we all know how they go around the internet with their slogans.

    And let us just take a look at the situation in the EPL ahead of the Villa game.

    1 Chelsea 14 9 1 4 28 9 19 28
    2 Manchester United 14 7 7 0 28 15 13 28
    3 Arsenal 14 8 2 4 28 15 13 26
    4 Manchester City 14 7 4 3 19 11 8 25
    5 Bolton Wanderers 14 5 7 2 26 20 6 22
    6 Tottenham Hotspur 14 6 4 4 21 19 2 22

    So apart from finding this the worst thing that ever happened to Arsenal under the worst manager we ever had at Arsenal I really cannot say that I feel bad about the current league position we find ourselves in. On Saturday morning we are 2 points behind the leaders. How on earth can this be the worst team ever? How on earth can this be the worst players ever. How on earth can this be done with a manager who “has lost it”?

    Maybe some supporters should take a look at how we were finding ourselves in the same weekend last year. And yes I have the league table from that period and just take a look at it and just to let you know you will also find the total points in the last column :

    1 Chelsea 14 12 0 2 36 8 +28 36
    2 Manchester United 14 10 1 3 30 13 +17 31
    3 Tottenham Hotspur 14 8 2 4 33 19 +14 26
    4 Arsenal 13 8 1 4 36 18 +18 25
    5 Liverpool 14 7 2 5 31 20 +11 23
    6 Aston Villa 14 6 5 3 22 14 +8 23

    Now you just take a look and another look and another look. Last year on this day we were 11 (eleven) points behind the leader who also was Chelsea. We were 6 points behind Manchester United. And disaster upon disaster, last year we were one point behind Tottenham.

    Now I don’t know if my mathematics are still spot on as it has been a while since I left school so it could well be that nowadays being 2 points behind is far worse than being 11 points behind. But I can assure you that in my days at school being 2 points behind the leader is much, much better than being 11 points behind.

    Now the most clever members of the congregation will have noticed that last year we played not as many games as the others. It was the Bolton game which only was played in January and when we went to the top of the table after winning it in fact. So if I want to change it with the hindsight (what a popular word for the moment) I have now but we didn’t have then one could say that we have 28 points and would be in front of Tottenham on that day one year ago. Feels better already.

    But then again it means that we were still 8 (eight) whole points behind league leaders Chelsea. And again in my book being only 2 points behind is way better than being 8 points behind.

    Losing a game is never a nice feeling. Losing two games is always a bad feeling. After all we love Arsenal to win every game. But no supporter can really believe we will win every game. Defeats are as normal in football as snow in the winter at the North Pole (or traffic jams in England on a friday night with 1mm of snow on the ground- ed). Hard to take, but an essential part of football. Winning every game is impossible unless Wenger proves me wrong at some stage in the next few seasons of course.

    And yes I can understand being disappointed after a defeat and some defeats hurt more than others but why do we have to throw everything away after losing a game? Why do we pain ourselves that way? Wouldn’t it be more supportive to say: “F*ck, the ref cost us the game (as he did on Tuesday) come on lads better next time. “ Instead of the hysteria we see now from different supporters who cannot see anything good anymore in the whole team. The hysteria that once again is calling the heads of every player, even the ones that didn’t play. The calling for new players and if we would buy them all we never would comply with the 25 players rule by the way.

    The calling for Suarez from Ajax and the pointing at his great goal scoring record for Ajax. And yes he has scored 35 goals last season in the Dutch league. But to think that if he would come to Arsenal all our problems would disappear is a bit short sighted I would say. We would be facing a lot of problems with the fact that Suarez is a very blatant diver. This will work against us in the EPL. After a few dives we will have to deal with defenders kicking his legs to pieces without the refs giving penalties. We have seen it before after what happened when Eduardo (who was not a diver at all) was prosecuted by the media last season and we didn’t get any penalties at all for a big part of the season. And after his biting incident last weekend he will be facing a difficult time I think.

    And when it comes to players from Holland we must keep in mind that the game in Holland is a very open game and based on skill and technical ability. Players have room to express themselves and are very well protected by the refs.

    And maybe we should remember another player who came from Holland a few years ago with a goal scoring reputation even better than Suarez. I am talking about Alfonso Alvez. Remember him? He scored 45 goals in 39 games in Holland before coming to the EPL and to Middlesbrough. They paid £20M for him. And he scored 10 goals in 42 games before being sold to the biggest team in the world: Al-Sadd. Never heard of them? Neither did I untill today. But this just to show you that it doesn’t mean a thing how many goals you score in Holland. I could have mentioned Huntelaar also who never really made it in Madrid, an in Milan and now Schalke after tormenting the Dutch league with his goals. People who think that they will just do it in the same way in the EPL are just deluding themselves.

    As they are deluding themselves when saying this is the worst thing ever. Just look again at the two league tables in this article and then tell me we are worse of than last year. Look at it again and tell me we were in a better position last year. Because we were not.

    And a final note: the league has changed. Maybe you were watching but didn’t realise it but the league has changed.

  • funty

    its not easy being an arsenal fan,but it’s hard not to love this team

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1SD0yQmRsM