The Race For Fourth (Arsenal 1 – 2 Villa)

Last home game of the season, end of a disappointing league campaign, planned lap of appreciation… and yet yesterday, I sat and watched the game with total disinterest. Arsenal have let me down in recent weeks. I believed. I believed we could have won the league (and I still believe we should have done), I believed we should have won the Carling Cup, and I believe that this Arsenal team should have finally done something to prove themselves. Instead all they’ve proved is that they still have no backbone, no real fight.

The most frustrating thing is, I still believe just one player could of made the difference. One Roy Keane / Patrick Vieira type player who dragged the team with him.

Our form since the Carling Cup final has been dreadful: LWDLLDDWDDLWLL. I think that is no coincidence, the Carling Cup final (and probably the 4-4 against Newcastle) must have utterly destroyed the team’s confidence. This is a team who haven’t won for 6 years and conspired to lose their greatest chance of silverware in that time to a horrendous mistake. Mistakes happen, but they also destroy confidence. In fairness to Koscielny and Chesney, the two players involved, they both seem to have put the mistake behind them and improved throughout the remainder of the season – but the rest of the team looks, well, fucked.

Fabregas, struggling with injuries, no longer looks like the predatory midfielder he’s been in the past. Nasri seems to have regressed since his scintillating pre-Christmas form. Arshavin’s legs seem to have deserted him… looking around the team it’s easy to see problems, and not successes.

Even Wilshere, a shoe in for my player of the year, looked tired yesterday and slightly off the pace. That he will be playing through the summer is madness, don’t expect him to feature next season anywhere near as heavily.

Robin Van Persie seemed to be the only other player (Wilshere aside) who gave a shit, and unfortunately the weight of the world on his shoulders doesn’t suit him. Arsenal need him free and ready, able to shrug off the game and score, not be sat in the middle of the pitch trying to run the game for a broken team.

I know we were bad yesterday but despite a promising start the referee was awful. He made two excellent decisions to play advantage and go back when play stopped to book players. After that he lost the plot. Dunne should have walked twice, Petrov should have had a second yellow, Chamakhs goal should not have been disallowed, and obviously the penalty was as clear a penalty as you’ll see this season… but still, we spent all match passing sideways and losing the ball. A good team will win, regardless of the referee. If he disallows your goal, score 2 more, don’t retreat and cry…

Anyway, who knows what the future holds. I’m certainly not in the anti-Wenger camp, because no one has managed to convince me that a) it’s all his fault and b) there is a better alternative. The players have to take responsibility here, a team full of internationals and talented individuals should not conceded 4 goal leads. There is nothing the manager can do when that happens.

Besides, would you rather have Avram Grant, he’s free after all.

  • ny

    Song was awful initially but his passion and hungriness in the 2nd half even when he was shifted to the CD position was admirable.Arshavin was not having a good game but as soon as he started playing well he got substituted.Was Arsene watching the game I dont know…

    We need a massive overhaul….

    OUT

    Denilson
    Bendtner
    Arshavin
    Fabregas(we cant stop him)
    Squlacci
    Gibbs
    (Rosicky , Eboue , Chamack all should be there in the bench )

    IN
    —-
    Benzema
    Gamerio
    Phil Jones
    Gervinho

    Lonees
    ——

    Coquelin
    Botelho
    Landsbury
    Bartely

    I did not mention Hazaard , Sakho etc.. bcos Arsene will break the bank only for Benzema….

  • yemi

    @kieran :What else do you need to convince you that wneger is at fault for the awful season ?
    Let me start by saying I am not in the Wenger must/Should go camp, However he has made some terrible decisions this season that makes you wonder if he still has the plot.
    examples:
    1. How on earth do you justify not buying a defender in january ?
    2.We lost gilberto, toure, gallas, Adebayor, Henry, Hleb, Flamini, Lassana diarra, eduardo and failed to replace any of them.
    3. How do you explain keeping diaby when it is obvious that diaby will never be a viera ?
    4. How long does it take to see that denilson can never be a DM and he can not match any of the CM’s we have ?
    5. How long will it take to see that B52 will never be more than a 15 goal a season striker ? Even chicarito scored 20 in his first season despite the fact that berba and rooney are there ?
    6. For how long will we continue to get free defenders (expecting them to work miracles )? Silvestre, Sol, Squilacci in those ranks ?

    For me, the only players that are good enuff for the arsenal squad amongst the current crop are.
    GK
    ==========
    Schezney (needs an experienced GK to work with)
    CB
    ==========
    KOS, Djourou, TV (One more defender, Tall and experienced)

    RB/LB
    =====
    Sagna (Can be backed up by ebuoue/ Kos)
    Clichy (Get another LB with experience)

    DM
    ========
    Song (Can be backed up by Kos/ Frimpong)

    CM
    =======
    Cesc(if he remains)
    Jack
    Nasri (if he remains)
    Rambo
    And one more experienced Midfielder
    Out with diaby, rosisky, Denilson, we already have too many midfielders.

    Attack
    ============
    RVP
    Chamack
    Theo
    plus one other striker, proven and experienced
    Out with B52,
    I know arshavin will perform well when the team is well balanced.

    We need
    1 GK
    1 Midfielder
    1 Striker
    1 Winger (two if possible)

    Apart from the winger, all the other players should be experienced and pleas wenger should look elsewhere apart from france !!! Belgium, portuga, italy, spain, brasil, argentina, colombia, Nigeria, South africa, ghana all have great players
    I don’t think getting 4 players is a wholesale change. At least they have the whole of the whole of summer/pre-season to blend.

    I abhore the situation where we have to call on first teamers to play leyton orient or leads or ipswich town!!!

    Wenger needs to make those changes, some of these changes should have been made log ago.

  • sigma

    What happened yesterday won’t make any difference to Wenger. It hasn’t in the past – why should it now? The key is getting rid of him. Do that and, rather than regressing, the club can attempt to claw back what has been so carelessly thrown away these past six years. Keep Wenger and we simply ensure more wasted years and more seasons without silverware.

  • Fo

    Totally agree with you Kieran.

    The players are clearly at fault – but what makes the players tick, who coaches the players and who motivates the players?

    The manager.

    The manager HAS to get rid of dead wood – HAS to bring in adequate replacements and HAS to learn how to better his own coaching ability – Pat Rice is staying, so no fresh face there, what can be done otherwise?

  • yemi

    It has really been a BAD footballing week for me, Home based super eagles of Nigeria lost 3:2 to Togo in in the final of the West african football union (WAFU) cup tournament held in Nigeria .

    Nigerian Super falcons failed to qualify for the football event of this year’s all-africa games after throwing away a one goal lead.

    and my darling arsenal *Sigh* what else can i say ? *Sob*

    Looking forward to what happens in the first month of the transfer window…….

  • Kieran

    @ yemi:

    1. How on earth do you justify not buying a defender in january ?

    Vermelean with Djourou & Koscielny are good enough. No one could have guessed TV would be out until the end of May. I’m entirely comfortable with our defence, as I repeat every week, Squillaci is rubbish but he’s 4th choice! Our season hasn’t been ruined by the defence, it’s been ruined by the team equally, losing the ball up front is as dangerous as a mistake at the back.

    2.We lost gilberto, toure, gallas, Adebayor, Henry, Hleb, Flamini, Lassana diarra, eduardo and failed to replace any of them.

    That’s not true is it? Nasri, Fabregas, Arshavin, Wilshere have all proved able replacements. Diarra wasn’t even in the team, so why you’d want to replace a reserve I’ve no idea.

    3. How do you explain keeping diaby when it is obvious that diaby will never be a viera ?

    Apart from the fact that Diaby isn’t and has never been Vieira’s replacement I suppose the manager has tried to give him a chance. I’m not a massive Diaby fan, I’d be happy if he left, but it’s unfair to compare him to Pat.

    4. How long does it take to see that denilson can never be a DM and he can not match any of the CM’s we have ?

    Denilson doesn’t even get in the team anymore, so I suspect they’ve already decided to sell him.

    5. How long will it take to see that B52 will never be more than a 15 goal a season striker ? Even chicarito scored 20 in his first season despite the fact that berba and rooney are there ?

    Bendtner hasn’t even been played as a striker, unlike Hernandes. Would “chicarito” have scored 20 playing for Arsenal on the left wing?

    6. For how long will we continue to get free defenders (expecting them to work miracles )? Silvestre, Sol, Squilacci in those ranks ?

    Neither Sivestre nor Squillaci were free transfers.

  • Kieran

    @ Fo:
    I agree, the manager has to take some responsibility, but he has to put faith in his players at some point, and he can only buy new players twice a year – he also can’t compete with Chelsea, City or United financially, let alone the bigger clubs in Europe (Madrid, Barca) etc.

    Let’s be honest, in terms of wages and transfer fees, Arsenal are behind at least 5 other clubs.

  • Kieran

    @ sigma:
    Who do you replace him with?

  • Kodjo

    @ Kieran

    I believe we need a dominant defender in the mould of Samba…i have expld in the past why he’d be a good fit so i wont even go there. If as i have heard Wenger tried to get him then its a step in the right direction. Pls get him in at least for premier league games. He also scores 3-4 goals a season.

    My biggest beef with Wenger is the tactics he employs..it appears that the formation and personnel is the same for all games. Why he thinks we can play the same way all the time shocks me. Case in point he lost the Stoke game from the bench by conceding height adv to Stoke, when its clear to all and sundry where their strength lies. Compared to Man City dealt with the threat of Stoke

    I have also said in the past that our players cannot last the entire season with the current style of play. It is physically taxing…come Feb the players are all burn out and the subs are not good enough to swing games in our favour.

    Last but not the least the type of players that Wenger employs…ave build, quick tech players will struggle in certain premiership games.

    It is amazing how he has gone from the likes of Sol, Toure, Veiera, Edu, Gilberto, Henry, Pires, Bergkamp all 6 foot plus to the current players. The only short players in that team were super Freddy, Lauren, A Cole, Wiltord.

  • yemi

    Vermelean with Djourou & Koscielny are good enough. No one could have guessed TV would be out until the end of May. I’m entirely comfortable with our defence, as I repeat every week, Squillaci is rubbish but he’s 4th choice! Our season hasn’t been ruined by the defence, it’s been ruined by the team equally, losing the ball up front is as dangerous as a mistake at the back.

    Response==> Common kieran, He has been out for so long, the odds were against him. Edu, rosisiky and even diaby are living testimonies. You hardly come back from a long spell and get back right into the game. The more reason why he should have done something in january

    That’s not true is it? Nasri, Fabregas, Arshavin, Wilshere have all proved able replacements. Diarra wasn’t even in the team, so why you’d want to replace a reserve I’ve no idea

    Response==> We have not really replaced any of the players we lost. Arsene seems to have an obsession for attacking midfielders. Viera was a box to box midfielder, we dont have that anymore. As for diarra might have fit into that role a bit although his tech ability is much lower. Wilshire is young and should be eased into the team gradually. cesc was brought in too early, it shows that he needs a long break cos he is bruning out. The same will happen to jack if we don’t ease up on him. Arshavin ? First season spark ?

    Apart from the fact that Diaby isn’t and has never been Vieira’s replacement I suppose the manager has tried to give him a chance. I’m not a massive Diaby fan, I’d be happy if he left, but it’s unfair to compare him to Pat

    response==> Kieran, Wenger himselve has said it in the past that Diaby has the same qualities as pat. Apart from the physical size, i don’t see any other similarities. The fact is that diaby is a good player, back wilshire is a great player. can diaby change from good to great ? I don’t think so. Same goes for denilson.

    Bendtner hasn’t even been played as a striker, unlike Hernandes. Would “chicarito” have scored 20 playing for Arsenal on the left wing?

    response ==> Last season, he was our striker !!! He scored about 15 goals (refresh my memory).

    Neither Sivestre nor Squillaci were free transfer

    700k for silvestre as far as i am concerned is a free transfer. You might be right on squillacci but i cant imagigine paying 6.5M for him ( For what i have seen so far, maybe there is more to come from him)

  • Fo

    @ Kieran:
    But Bolton bought Cahill for £6m… but we’d rather spend £5m on a player like Squillaci.

    Granted he can only buy twice a season, but he needs to be better in the transfer market when it’s obvious things aren’t going well.

    Last summer, we all said – New GK, we need a better CB, another winger… this summer, we’ll say the same. We’ll all say Bendtner is no winger and that Van Persie will struggle up front alone.

    But nothing will change and these players will continue next season, winning nothing.

  • Berth

    intelligent players who can make decisions on there own and are self motivated needed. Nzogbia is a good guy, don’t see reason for not going for that guy

  • yemi

    Quotin Wenger

    Some people have questioned whether we were right to do a ‘lap of appreciation’ after the game but it is our job to thank the fans and you should never feel embarrassed for doing your job.

    It was not a tour of glory, of course. But I think, no matter what happens, you have to respect your fans for turning up for the whole season. It was not an ego trip, it was a chance to show our respect for the fans.

    I know many fans left the stadium before the ‘lap of appreciation’ but you have to thank those who are still in the stand. What is important is that this Club has values and respects those values.

  • JDD

    @kieron

    1.How on earth do you justify not buying a defender in january ?

    Vermelean with Djourou & Koscielny are good enough. No one could have guessed TV would be out until the end of May. I’m entirely comfortable with our defence

    you must be joking! koscielny and djourou are decent defenders,koscieny has a good football brain(his positioning is useually good) but unfortuneately at the moment he isnt strong or physical enough to handle the premiership for example he played well against david villa and javier hernandez(small strikers that wont bully defences)howevere againgst stoke he and djourou were ripped to shreds.Djourou on the other hand is to inconsistent 1 week he will have an outstanding game then the next(stoke) he will be totally awful.if we are to win the premiership thses to defenders at the moment our nowhere near good enough.of course tommmy v is a top class defender and wenger should have bought a partner for him.you say no1 could have guessed hed have been out for so long but even if he came back in feb it would have taken a few matches for him to be back to his best and you cant afford to have liabilities in defence for a few games.iv backed wenger for ages but the decision to not buy a cb and gk were idiot it lost us the league.if we bought samba in jan we would have won prem 100%.i do agree with your point that the rest of the team doesnt help out enough in defence for example arshavin who only gets stuck in againgst the big teams.i think this is down to the unbalance in our midfield.this 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 formation has got to go we need to go back to 4-4-2 fabregas can go leaving wilshere and song in the middle nasri on the left and i think we need to buy a winger,frankly walcott isnt good enough and im start to wonder whether he will be , yes hes got the pace but sometimes he drifts out of games too often at the moment i would keep him as a ‘super sub’.i thinks its also evident that we need a new striker,im hoping we get karim benzema he and rvp would be a 35+goal partnership.if bendtner goes which i hope he does we should also go for kevin gameiro he is a brilliant forward.of course our defence needs to be reinforced a new lb may be need as clichy is stalling on a contract and we need to get rid of dead wood-denilson,diaby&rosicky(two players that i like but they honestly arent good enough)

  • Kieran

    @ Fo:
    Gary Cahill was an Aston Villa player for 4 years, before being loaned out to Burnley and Sheffield. He was deemed not good enough. It’s fine to say he’s an excellent defender now, but if Arsene Wenger had of spent £6m on an Aston Villa reject you’d have gone mental.

  • Kieran

    @ Fo:
    Also, why do we need a new keeper?