2010 Arsenal Embarrassed ……. what went wrong in 2005? – written by RockyLives

Last night I typed “Arsenal+Embarrassed” into Google, limiting the search to the previous 24 hours. The number of hits was 31,500, which just about says it all.

I don’t want to join the stampede of condemnation that followed Saturday’s result and I do not subscribe to the theory that our season is over before it’s begun, but I’ll admit to being spooked.

It would be great to put it down to a bad day at the office (the sort of bad day where you realise too late that you forgot to put your trousers on before leaving home), but the flaws we displayed had the whiff of déjà vu all over them. And that’s not the name of a new perfume from Victoria Beckham.

Familiar failings were on display, but when did they become familiar? At what point did the Rolls Royce Arsenal of Doubles, trophies and unbeaten seasons give way to today’s version: a flashy Lamborghini with a dodgy carburetor?

Looking back through recent history a lot, to me, hinges on the group of players who arrived in 2005.

In the year from January 2005 to January 2006 the following players came into our club:

Emmanuel Eboue

Nicklas Bendtner

Armand Traore

Alex Hleb

Abou Diaby

Emmanuel Adebayor

Alex Song

Theo Walcott

Vito Mannone

Mart Poom

We have had good and bad players before and since but there is a certain malaise that seems to affect the 2005 intake and I would love to know the reason.

Leaving aside Mannone and Poom, who are bit-part players, the others, to a greater or lesser degree, share certain failings that have frustrated the supporters and affected results:  lack of focus, lack of awareness, inability to concentrate, bad decision-making and what might be summed up as a lack of pure class.

The likes of Diaby, Walcott, Song, Hleb and Adebayor have looked like world beaters one game and panel beaters the next.

Of the bunch you would have to say that Adebayor was the most successful because he had one good season, and that Theo should be cut some slack because of his age and because he is now (hopefully) beginning to show signs of turning into the finished article.

But the rest – particularly Diaby, Eboue, Traore and Song – have shown a maddening lack of consistency. They can be amazing one minute (Diaby away at Villa anyone?) but on their bad days they seem to lack effort and a sufficient degree of football intelligence.

In fact, with their repeated inability to pick the right option they don’t feel like Wenger players at all. Arsene has always loved players who read the game intuitively – think Vieira, Petit, Pires, Fabregas, Ljungberg and others too numerous to mention.

Of the 2005 batch even Bendtner (whose work rate and effort is beyond reproach) is hampered by what can only be described as a certain lack of class, evident in his poor touch and poor decision-making.

For what it’s worth, I think that in 2005 Arsene took his eye off the ball when it came to transfers.  The sheer scale of the job involved in moving to the Grove must have been all-consuming (it has been reported many times that Arsene pored over every little detail of the new stadium). Added to this was the knowledge that money would be tight for several years to come. Somewhere in all this I believe he did not give the job his usual focus and ended up signing players he would not have signed today.

Of course that could be 100% wrong. Maybe the 2005 intake have struggled because they arrived at the transition point from a great team to a merely good one and could not cope with the expectation and pressure.

Or maybe, joining a team that had so recently been Invincible, they thought success would come automatically to them without having to sweat every drop of blood to achieve it. To use an in-vogue word, maybe they just felt entitled. Up-and-coming players previously at the club, like Cesc and RvP, had had the chance to live and play alongside the Invincibles and, one assumes, to imbibe a sense of what it takes to be the best.

Whatever the reason, our midfield against West Brom had three of the boys of ’05 in it and the failings that have become the trademark of that group of players were evident.  Many of our worst performances of the last few years have led to members of this group being castigated by fans.

Of the outfield players who arrived in 2005, Eboue, Bendtner, Diaby, Song and Walcott are still with us and Traore is out on loan. Who knows, they may end up being instrumental in bringing us silverware, but I’m not banking on it. I‘m putting my faith in the ones who have come after: Wilshere, Ramsey, Nasri, Chamakh, Arshavin, Rosicky, Vela and the rest.



110 Responses to 2010 Arsenal Embarrassed ……. what went wrong in 2005? – written by RockyLives

  1. charybdis1966 says:

    Morning R Lives, it’s entirely possible that Wenger may well have not given transfers his usual fastidious attention to detail around the time of the move form Highbury as it is well known that it seems he hates to delegate, so he himself would have spent lots of time checking non-footballing details that could easily have been given to others to execute.
    Moving onto tomorrow I have a horrible feeling that if Almunia is dropped because of the convenient injury Wenger hinted at, then we will see THAT keeper, i.e. the one that is not Vito or Chesney.

    That’s enough to bring me out in a cold sweat.

  2. oopsydaisymartinhazy says:

    Diaby looks like a frightened horse on a frozen lake and should be sold as soon as.
    Eboue should only be played at right back (That away league in Madrid). Song is a Gilberto, he needs cohesion around him to read his partners game and always struggles with that when Cesc is out. Diabys lack of positional sense always has Song covering holes created by him… watch closely and you’ll see it. More difficult to notice on tv but from the stands its obvious.

    Saturday was inexcusable. Diaby should have been brought back in the CC and jack rested not vice-versa. Big mistake from the boss.

    Jack has been excellent in the transitional areas from back to front and from wide to central attack something that we couldn’t do against an average side on saturday.

  3. Rasp says:


    That’s an excellent read Rocky and has given a new perspective to Saturday’s abject performance.

    We are always being accused of using the gift of hindsight to ‘know best’ but when AW had the evidence of the first 45 minutes and somehow we managed to come in at half time at nil nil, he should have had the bottle to sub Diaby.

    I have been saying for a couple of weeks now (and so has Song!) that Song is trying to become an attacking midfielder. He may have been having to do the job of 3 men due to Diaby and Eboue’s failings, but that job was to defend, not go scampering up the pitch – and he was doing that before we conceded the goals.

    Fab2 against the chavs is a nightmare I don’t even want to consider.

  4. Red Arse says:

    Enjoyed that Rocky. 🙂

    A very different take on what has been happening.

    My reaction is that 90% of the 2005 players you show are fey, having magical skills but no gritty substance.

    There needs to be a leavening of tough, gritty players to give them the backbone that seems to be lacking at the moment.

  5. charybdis1966 says:

    Raspers – I was scared enough thinking of him against the Serbs tomorrow – the prospect of the Chavs at the weekend is blood curdling !

  6. charybdis1966 says:

    Crikey, it’s quiet here – is everyone still in shock from Saturday’s debacle?

  7. charybdis1966 says:

    OK, I’ll talk to myself.

    So the nightmare scenario has come to pass – THAT goalkeeper is in goal tomorrow, Vito or Chesney on the bench.

  8. tommystout says:

    interesting post rocky, not a lot of people commenting though.
    Hi charey yeah its a ghost town, im still in shock im afraid.

  9. tommystout says:

    yeah cant tell whether or not saturday was a blessing or would it be better to get the shite performance over with againsts the chavvies. we will definately raise our game against them and if we get a result it will be confidence boosts all round, with WBA as a harsh reminder for the rest of the season of what will happen if the engine drops below 100%

  10. tommystout says:

    as for almunia not travelling, well ive had this bug all weekend and feeling rather ill, i hope that bug has reached london and fab2’s abode.

  11. tommystout says:

    it will be interesting to see who sits on the bench though – chezzer or vito, i think it will be vito judging from arsenes comments last week upon chezzers ramblings

  12. tommystout says:

    plaudits to WBA anyway, its not many teams who come to the emirates and try to play football.
    Maybe the shock of that was what took us down on saturday.

  13. charybdis1966 says:

    TommyS – if it were down to me I would start with Vito.
    But I’m just another dumbstruck/shelll-shocked fan so I can only sit back and watch the woes of our defence unfold before my disbelieving eyes.

  14. tommystout says:

    yep charey who are we but little people, its the guys who see these guys day in day out who are selecting th heirarchy of our keepers. i wish i had the privilage to have the insight to see why the younger keepers havent got their chance.
    i’d like to see a “sliding doors” alternative dimension to see how last season would have ended up if vito had kept his place.

  15. tommystout says:

    i also wonder if this injury to almunia is a falsity

  16. charybdis1966 says:

    I saw this headline and a glimmer of hope:


    Then I read it and cursed the inaccuracy of it.

  17. Rasp says:

    I think Arsène sees his goalkeepers strictly in age order, therefore Mannone will be sub on tuesday. The interesting question will be; what will AW do on Sunday if Fab2 has a stinker against Sporting?

    Apart from the goalkeepers, my hope is that Ramsey returns and quickly slips in above Diaby in the pecking order for midfield.

  18. rockylives says:

    Thanks for the comments – RadArse, I loved the description of “fey” for some of the 2005 lads. Spot on.
    Rasp, I don’t have a problem with Song marauding forward when we’re losing 3-0, but I totally agree that he was doing it all through the game, leaving holes where he should have been and even more holes where he wasn’t covering the holes left by Diaby, as per Oopsadaisy’s observations.
    It is like a graveyard today though.

  19. rockylives says:

    The last time we had a dodgy intake of players was under GG – it was the intake that included Selley, Morrow and Hillier among others. All decent enough, just not Arsenal class.

  20. SharkeySure says:

    “world beaters one game and panel beaters ”

    Thats briliant Rocky.

    Overall a very good article thats clearly well researched and very well put together.

  21. SharkeySure says:

    Ooopsadaisy….you;re spot on about Song needing performers around him.

    Its quite increduible that some are bashing Song so hard, although he was everywhere trying to turn the game in our favour.

    I do believe that he is under instruction to be our Esien amd play a more box to box role wher he can better utilise his physical power and skill.

    There’s no way he’d be marauding around the pitch like that if he wasn’t under instruction to do so. When playing with LJW, its LJW that nearly always sits deeper, likewise with Denilson

  22. Rasp says:

    Hi sharkey,

    I think we need TV back in the heart of the defence again too as he steadies things if its not going our way.

    As regards Song, when Cesc and LJ were playing alongside him, they would fall back and cover for him when he went forward (particularly Cesc). Unfortunately, Diaby doesn’t seem to have the nouse to do similarly.

  23. rockylives says:

    Thanks Sharkey. You’re probably right about Song being given more licence to go forward, but if that’s true it’s a bad option as it’s not really the best part of his game.

  24. Rasp says:

    Hi rocky,

    Thanks for a really interesting piece – it deserves greater exposure but I guess many supporters are still hiding behind the sofa 😉

    Looking at the other players signed in 2005, Hleb and Ade both thought they were bigger than the club; and did mart Poom ever play in the first team?

  25. Big Raddy says:

    Very interesting read Rocky.

    Strange to think that 5 years on we are still reserving judgement about some of those players (Theo + NB).

    I believe Saturday was a hiccup and a kick up the Jacksy for both the team and the management. Having seen Diaby’s dreadful performance one can only conclude that he wasn’t fully fit and AW guessed a half fit Diaby was a better option than an exhausted JW.

  26. Big Raddy says:

    Furthermore, in the midst of this despair one should recall that AA hit the post twice prior to their goal, Can anyone doubt that had he scored we would have gone on to win?

  27. Red Arse says:

    You could be right Big Raddy, but I have to say from what I saw on Sky that would have been an unfair result for WBA as they played v. well.

    And we were v.v. poor on the day. But I think we will win tomorrow and give the Chavs a fright at the weekend. 🙂

  28. Big Raddy says:

    And ….. I am very saddened but not surprised to read of Fab2 stepping in at Partizan. What else could AW do?

    I would pitch Chesney in straight away, Fab2 has been given too many chances and cost us too many goals, he may well be a decent GK but in the PL. Too many clubs know he is weak under pressure.

    Whilst I take London’s point that playing Chesney would appear to be bowing to player power, he remains the best GK on our books and will certainly leave unless given first team pitch time. Away at Chelsea with their strong physical presence is not the ideal first game, so I would play him tomorrow. The thought of Fab2 at Stamford Bridge is ……

  29. Red Arse says:


    And Nasri hit the crossbar later, but I still think the result was a fair one, to my chagrin. 😦

  30. Big Raddy says:

    RA. We allowed them to play well. Had we played at our normal tempo WBA wouldn’t have got their passing game going.

  31. kelsey says:




    (sorry about the capitals)

    If it is a blip,it couldn’t have come at a worse time, but something tells me we are in for a dreadful week.

    Nice to see rosicky back, but he has had 12 yes 12 shots off target already this season.Not acceptable by the standards we remembered.

    I am still upset, fuming and generally depressed, so I will not say anymore for a while.

    We have money,it is in the accounts but we can’t find a keeper anywhere in the world better than these two misfits.

  32. Rasp says:

    Hi Red Arse,

    I thought AW had become more daring when it comes to substitutions, but he was back to his old conservative self on saturday. Wilshire and Rosicky out for the second half and we would have won and probably not even conceded IMO.

  33. rockylives says:

    Agreed Rasp. I said at half time that he’s got to make changes, but he left it until the match was lost. Substitutions have never been his strong point.

  34. kelsey says:

    I am taking the stance as of now that we will win nothing this season, therefore I can’t be disappointed.If we get our act together it will be a pleasant surprise.

    3 wins from 6 games is not great, even allowing for RVP and vermaelen not playing on saturday, as neither would have made a difference.Cesc would, as he would have conducted the midfield, not as it was a clueless threesome who were never on the same wavelength from the first minute.i could see that, so could all of you,but the boss stood firm.Hindsight is a wondeful thing, but Almunia was obviously injured but he let him play on,so who knows for sure if he could have done better with the goals he conceded, or the boss thought he couldn’t trust Fab, so he let Al stay on.

    This is crazy management at the highest level. Urghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

  35. Big Raddy says:

    I agree Rasp.

    A rare bad performance from both manager and team.

    I do not concur with RL’s assessment that familiar failings were the reason for the defeat (apart from Almunia). I feel we have moved on this season (feel not know:-) )

  36. Big Raddy says:

    Kelsey. None of Al’s mistakes could be put down to injury. Bad judgement, poor technique and a rush of blood to the head have nothing to do with injury.

    But fairplay, it was a superb save from the pen.

  37. rockylives says:

    I hope you’re right BR, but for me it was a familiar lack of focus from a certain group of players that has cost us in the past.
    With a positive hat on, the last time we got properly spanked at home by a ‘lower’ team was by Charlton Athletic at Highbury in 2001 – but we did go on to win the Double that season.

  38. Mayank says:

    Good post, and an interesting take on the ‘situation’.
    Apart from one thing, I’m sure Lamborghini has MPFI and not a carburettor. Nerdflash over.

  39. rockylives says:

    Thanks Mayank. Cars are not my strong point!

  40. Neamman says:

    I basically disagree with the premise of the article, I think some of those players will become great, specifically Walcott, Bendtner and Song. Much as I dislike Adebayor as a person he was an excellent buy for us.
    Where I think we are lacking is we have not replaced Vieira. We have not had the one dominating enforcer that all good teams need in the middle of the park. Who we need is another PV4, or one of my personal favourite from the 71 squad.. Peter Storey!! When he was on the pitch NO ONE dominated Arsenal. As we used to sing on the old north bank.. “Storey, Storey, break his leg a yard above the knee”.
    Not only was he a hard man but surprisingly skillful, I was amazed to learn he was capped more than any other player from that squad.

    AW needs to find his Storey… it could well be Song but he is still young. We look at the 2005 intake but forget how young they still are!!
    Saturday was abysmal, I dont see us winning the league if we have more games like that.. but dont write off the team just yet. I dont know if Song was acting under instructions to get forward so much but hopefully for the rest of the year he stays mainly in our half and protects the back 4.
    As for a goalie, I want Mannone or the young Pole [cant spell his name] to be given a run. I would also like to see AW give people like JET, Lansbury etc.. more minutes in the EPL. maybe as a 3rd sub if we are comfortable, bring them on for the last 20 minutes.

    ahhh, thinking of the old songs from the 70s.. Big Raddy can probably remember the North bank shaking as we all sang and danced Knees up Mother Brown.. something you cant do in the all seaters!!!

  41. Mayank says:

    Cheers Rockylives…

    So anyone betting on us doing the Chavs, it wouldn’t be unlike us.

  42. rockylives says:

    Thanks Neamann. I too have hopes for Song. He has been poor in the last two games but hopefully it’s just a blip and he can get back to the form of last season. I’m not sure I can see him turning into a PV4 or a Peter Storey though.
    I also think Theo is showing signs of coming good.

  43. rockylives says:

    Mayank – I have a sneaky feeling we’ll do the Chavs. Last season we were capable of bouncing back from a bad result to put a long unbeaten run together and I wouldn’t be surprised to see us do the same again. Personnel will be important, of course. I hope Cesc is back. If he is I would go with a MF of him, JW and Song.

  44. Red Arse says:


    You say you disagree with the premise of the article, but you don’t say specifically what you disagree with.

    Nothing you have said is contradicted in the article.

    Perhaps you could enlighten me?

  45. Neamman says:

    I disagree that the buys of 2005 were so bad. I think those I mentioned will turn out to be good. Adebayor and Hleb were good for us. Most of the list are still years from their prime. Diaby, ebour and Traore are useful squad players. Saturday was more about bad team selection by AW rather than player quality, but I recognise he was hampered by injury issues. I would have like to see a fit Eastmod get a game than a rusty Diaby, who should have been a sub

  46. Red Arse says:


    I don’t think the article said they were bad.

    it was pointing out the maddening inconsistency of some very skilfull players in that group of the 2005 intake. One minute world beaters and the next panel beaters.

    I don’t think the word “bad” was mentioned.

    Following your suggestion that Eastmond should get a game, I wonder how you arrived at that conclusion?

    I watched many youth and U18 team games over the past three years, some on TV and some at Barnet, and I can honestly say Eastmond was the worst player in practically every game.

    Wenger, it seems, must agree with you, but I am amazed he was retained and given a professional contract. I wish the lad well and hope he shoves my words down my throat by having a great career. Frankly I cannot see that being at Arsenal.

    We will see.

  47. SharkeySure says:

    In the Youth Cup winning team of 2(?) seasons ago Eastmond was a RB and stood out (with the LB Cruise) as being fairly average, in a team of very good players.

    I was astionished to see him ahead of Coquelin and Frimpong last season.

    Fair do’s though neamann, I accept your point about playing the fully fit player who’s next in line (whoever it is) over a half fit one

  48. Big Raddy says:

    I thought Eastmond played well in our CC games and I have high hopes for him. He has a touch of the Flamini’s about him.

    As to AW’s Storey …. PV was his man and since then no-one. Song can’t hold a candle to Pete, but he plays a totally different game. Storey could never have scored a goal like Song did last week, nor could he discipline himself – he would be red carded so regularly we would be lucky to get 15 games a season out of him!.

  49. kelsey says:

    There is a poll out today poll today on arseblog, who should play in goal, Fabianski has got about half a percent, Mannone and Almunia both around 18% and i am the one and only Szczesny out in front on a whopping 62%, give the lad a chance for christ sake. who knows he could be our world class keeper for the next 20 years, or he might disappear for free in the summer and be someone elses.

  50. Red Arse says:


    I would not mind betting you and I both stood in the sparse crowd at Barnet and did not recognise each other.

    How I could miss a shark I don’t know, but you are forgiven as I kept my red arse well covered up! 🙂

  51. Red Arse says:


    What I cannot get my head around is that the justification for signing 67 year old Schwarzer was that he was keeping the position warm while Chesney was growing up.

    Then it turns out, Arsene had not even begun contract talks with Chesney who was threatening to agree a pre-contract with another club in January.

    Left hand and right hand not in syncopation? 🙂

  52. Red Arse says:

    Big Raddy,

    I think we have found something to disagree on.

    Assessment of players is a subjective business and not even great managers always get it right, but I think I would kiss Mourinho if Eastmond makes it.

    But then there are those who tell me Eboue is a great player! They could be right, but will never convince me he is not a headless chicken in disguise. CID. 🙂

  53. kelsey says:

    Hi Red Arse,

    I mentioned a few weeks back that through my son, who is really a good friend of Clint Dempsey,that we bid 4 million for Schwarzer,who was itching to join us, but Hughes wouldn’t release him from his contract.

    Why we went for Schwarzer i really don’t know. The guy i wanted was the nigerian (I think ) who was at the WC and was playing for Hapoel tel Aviv, but I think he went elsewhere. I think the Ajax keeper is still on the radar.

    I am all for buying proven PL players, something that our manager doesn’t believe in, but when it comes to a keeper that arguement doesn’t hold.

  54. rockylives says:

    Kelsey: i am the one and only Szczesny 🙂

  55. Red Arse says:

    Well at least you can spell it Rocky! But what do you mean? 🙂

    Kelsey, I think there were other GK’s who for the right money could have been available. But we were led to believe an old GK, past his prime, was being brought in to baby sit Chesney and this appears not to have been true. Que?

  56. Rasp says:

    A conversation I’d like to have with AW:

    Me: Hi Arsène, mi ‘ol buddy, mi ‘ol mate, I was just wondering if I could make a suggestion that might save you/the club £4m

    Arsène: Certainement ma leetle cup cake.

    Me: How’s about, if I may be so bold, giving Szczesny a go in goal and maybe you might be able to forget about the idea of blowing £4m on a 38 year old keeper in the autumn of his career.

    Arsène: I blame Pat Rice

  57. Ha ha very good Rasp 🙂

  58. Red Arse says:

    Rocky, perhaps I should have said; Czy na Polska? 🙂

  59. Red Arse says:

    I love the accent Rasp. 🙂

  60. Rasp says:

    In all seriousness, I’d like to know why a man who is notoriously careful with the club’s money appears to be so sure that Szczesny (or even Mannone) is not up to the job. In Mannone’s case, he has already shown that he is a capable stand-in.

  61. rockylives says:

    RedArse: I was responding to Kelsey’s funny line. He has obviously seen the similarity between our young Pole’s name and that of cult early ’90s pop singer Chesney Hawkes, who had a hit with “I am the one and only”. The song title is strangely appropriate given Sczezney’s comments last week about deserving a run in the first team.
    (I had to cut and paste his name: normally I refer to him as Sneeze, given that whenever anyone says his name I can’t resist the urge to say “bless you.”)

  62. rockylives says:

    Rasp: Hilarious!!

  63. charybdis1966 says:

    Red A – I’ve been to the pre season game at Barnet for the last 2 years – I’ve even put a video up of the 2009 one on my You tube account.
    Not surprised you didn’t recognise me though, what’s a Chary look like?

  64. kelsey says:

    Red Arse,

    I think it was true, but why bother it does smell a bit of lack of ambition, but negotiations broke down.

  65. Red Arse says:


    I have your identikit gravatar to guide me! 🙂

    A good looking, dark haired man whom I could insouciantly engage in discussion about two Homeric monsters.

    Now that would be the clincher! 🙂

  66. tommystout says:

    hey guys it seems like chezzer is third in the pecking order as he is included in the trip to partizan. I wonder if vito is fit.
    Who will be hoping for a fe calamities from fab2? as long as we score more its not a problem.

  67. Rasp says:

    It’s being reported that Szczesny is on the bench for tuesday and not Mannone.

  68. Rasp says:

    Well done tommy – you beat me to it 😉

  69. Neamman says:

    I didnt mean to imply anyone said they were bad, my apologies, what i meant was bad when compared to those they replaced. Pires, Ljundberg et al.
    My point is the jury is still out on the walcotts Bendtner etc as they are so young. Will they become legends.. who knows.. but its way too early to give up on them yet.

    15 gams out of Storey?? I think he is smart enough that he would have changed..but then again in those 15 games… NO ONE would have touched our players!!!!


  70. Red Arse says:


    I did not mean to argue with you. Rocky is well able to look after himself. 🙂

    I was genuinely curious about your comment as my reading of the article was somewhat different to yours.

    Mind you I am famous for getting things wrong! 🙂

  71. Neamman says:

    Red Arse,
    No problem, I didnt take it that you were trying to argue. Who knows, maybe I misinterpreted the aim of the article, Im 60 so close to senility anyway!!

    As for Eastmond I confess I havent seen him play I was in China the games he played, but the reports were very positive about him. My point was, as someone else [Rasp?} said.. i would rather have a fully fit youngster than a half fit experienced player in most instances.

  72. rockylives says:

    Hi Neamann, I did say that I thought Theo was progressing and that I was hopeful Song would turn into a world class DM. I happen to love Bendtner for his attitude and effort, but I don’t think he’ll ever be a striker of the highest order and Arsenal should expect to have strikers of the highest order. Good squad player? Definitely. An integral part of our future? Probably not. (Although I’d love nothing more than to have to eat my words).
    We’re probably not that far apart regarding the 2005 lot, but I shade towards the negative about them whereas you shade towards the positive, which is entirely valid.

  73. Red Arse says:

    I am pleased I did not cause offence, Neamman. 🙂

    You don’t sound at all senile to me, and some of the best debaters on here are near to your age group. 60 is the new 40! 🙂

    Long-term gooners are the most interesting because of their knowledge and have the best perspective as they have seen it all before. 🙂

    I’m pleased to have chatted with you.

  74. Red Arse says:


    Hopefully you will be on here often in the future.

    Can I address you as “N” as my fingers are wearing down to the nub? 🙂

    Rocky, I absolutely agree with your 6:08. I too love Bendy, but he is never going to be a Ronaldo, although he thinks he will be, bless him! A good gutsy player who will do very nicely for us, thank you. 🙂

  75. Red Arse says:

    Well guys, my girlfriend Irish (don’t tell her I said so 🙂 )hasn’t come out to play, so I’m off for my usual quiet glass of something nice. Cheers! 🙂

    See you tomorrow.

  76. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Evening anyone,
    The WBA game, I put down to arrogance. From the top to the bottom (wherever the latter may be) of the club. I have not spoken to a single fan, who in his heart of hearts, did not think we would win by three!
    I share all concerns over the GK problem. Very scary thought having either Al or Fab in goal for saturday.
    Any thoughts on how we should approach the game. My feelings are that, apart from the arrogance shown on saturday, we witnessed really awful team selection. We lacked creativity in that midfield. Do we fight fire with fire against the powerful Chelsea midfield. I did not see even highlights of the game at Eastlands, but I did see the lineups. Very strong midfields from both camps. I think if we try this approach, we will be in very big trouble indeed. I would like to see a midfield of Song or Denilson with JW and Cesc.

  77. MickyDidIt89 says:

    In full for saturday:

    Eboue Kos Verm Gibbs
    …..Song Wilshere

  78. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Well, really can’t be around for long, as I have a much bigger fish to fry than Big Raddy could even dream about!

  79. Evening Micky sorry no-one was around to chat to you, love your team selection for chavs – which is on Sunday by the way – any old goalie would be fine I reckon 😉

  80. Neamman says:

    N it is!!!

    I am a huge Bendtner fan too.. in fact if i picked a team from my heart.. not my head it would be….

    Sagna Vermuleun Djourou Gibbs
    Walcott Cesc Ramsey
    Bendtner Chamarck

    Ok I know it isnt balanced but I just like those players

  81. Big Raddy says:

    N. Great idea….

    My heart team would be

    Sagna – the hair and attitude
    JD – I like his intelligence and the way he has grown up with us
    TV – rock solid in the trenches
    Clichy – again great attitude
    Song – anyone with 27 siblings deserves a place
    Cesc – no explanation nec.
    TR- The man reeks class and I admire the way he has recovered from a terrible injury
    AA – I love the little fella. He is so funny
    NB – plays with a smile, loves the club and is Danish
    RvP – again, loves the shirt and one cannot forget his dislike of Ade

  82. Big Raddy says:

    I will write a preview of sorts …. be in early domani

  83. Thanks Raddy – look forward to reading it

  84. rockylives says:

    My heart team:

    Sagna – solid and getting a bit better at crossing.
    Verm – one of the heartbeats of the team.
    Koscielny – struggled on Sat but there’s something classy about him and I think he’ll get much better.
    Gibbs – Clichy puts my heart in my mouth too much.
    Cesc – obviously
    JW – he and Cesc are our Iniesta and Xavi
    Song – but last season’s form please
    Arshavin – has been really off form this season but still turned in goals and assists. Imagine what it’ll be like when he’s on form.
    Theo – looking dynamite in the early part of this season.
    Chamakh – really gives us a different option up front.

    Lehmann (to stand on toes if necessary)

  85. 26may1989 says:

    Sorry to be so late to join the party, it’s been work more than sulking, honest.

    Really interesting piece Rocky, good to use something like this to reflect on deeper causes. Not that I really agree with your argument, if you compared like with like and examined other vintages of recruits, you’d find the same variations. As for your follow-up remark equating the 2005 recruits with the likes of Selley, Morrow and Hillier, respectfully, no, the current outfield players, all of them, are far superior to that lot.

    Saturday’s line-up wasn’t good, several of us looked at a central midfield triangle of Diaby, Eboue and Song at the beginning and had our doubts. But no matter how well West Brom played, that starting line-up was perfectly capable of getting a result. The lack of energy was a real disappointment but the defensive line, which let’s not forget many of us have been bigging up this season, was just not at the races – Clichy was about the best of them and he was poor. The other three were just very, very bad.

    It was a terrible performance, but is it the end of the season, does it mean suddenly no chance of silverware? No, it doesn’t. We still have a great squad, at least in the outfield departments, and I fancy us to get back into the groove – tomorrow night is crucial for that, we need to go into to Sunday’s game feeling some degree of recovered confidence, seeing Saturday as an aberration, but one we have to take lessons from.

    The one area where I really believe Saturday has greater meaning for us is, inevitably, the goalkeeping situation. Although Almunia had a good start to the season, Saturday shows the folly of Wenger not splashing the cash on our one genuinely weak area of the squad and getting brutal with the two players who have not lived up the required standards. As a Wenger devotee, it pains me to criticise him, but what other judgment is possible?

    Like others, I am truly appalled at the idea of Fabianski being in goal at the weekend – I defended him in arguments through much of last season but it just got beyond a joke. If not Almunia, then it has to be Mannone or Szczesny. But I fear the worst, the wrong Pole is more likely both tomorrow and at the weekend.

    But as an eternal optimist, I will continue to hope that we get away with having deficient goalkeepers, and pissed off as I feel at Saturday’s shitty efforts, I still believe we have a squad capable of finishing above United and City, and pushing Chelsea.

  86. 26may1989 says:

    Have just seen Wenger’s pre-match comments for the Partizan game, looks a nailed on certainty that Fabianski will play tomorrow.

  87. rockylives says:

    Thanks for those thoughts 26May. Funnily enough it was seeing that the MF line-up was Eboue/Song/Diaby that inspired me to write the piece. There seemed to be something in common with that generation of players.
    It’s pure speculation though and I realise it’s open to argument.
    Like you, I don’t necessarily feel negative about the Chelsea game or the rest of the season but, as I said in the post, I am a bit more spooked than I was previously. You do wonder how many more ‘wake-up calls’ we really need.

  88. rockylives says:

    AW continues to defend Fabianski so it’s no surprise he’s the favourite to start tomorrow. Ho hum.

  89. rockylives says:

    Just read this quote from Arsene:
    “We realise that we need to be focused in every single game, produce performances in every single game and that is what I believe we have learnt from Saturday.”

    Admirable sentiment, but it’s almost word for word what we have heard many times before.

    AW is an amazing manager and I wouldn’t swap him for anyone, but I wonder if there is truth in Alan Hansen’s comments about us lacking players with experience of winning things. Apart from Cesc (European Champion and World Champion) who else has won anything at senior level?

  90. 26may1989 says:

    Agreed Rocky. I try to comfort myself with memories of surprise defeats we suffered in the Henry-Bergkamp-Vieira era, and of United at their best occasionally slipping to spectacular defeats. But I am worried – guess we just have to see whether this bunch have got the balls to turn it around and find a bit of consistency over the next month or two.

  91. rockylives says:

    Amen to that!

  92. kelsey says:

    As one of several hundred thousand living in Spain this may amuse you.

    The Brit abroad comes in several varieties, each distinct from the other.

    1. The Grass Killer.

    This type of ex-pat is known as the Grass-Killer due to their unwavering opinion that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

    When in Britain, all things Spanish are wonderful and they can’t wait to leave ‘rainy old Britain’ to get to Spain and enjoy the warm sunshine.

    When in Spain, they talk about how they ‘can’t find a decent chutney, and that they ‘miss the seasons’ from ‘back home’.

    Constantly comparing the two countries, they unfortunately always find that it is the country in which they currently reside to be the one that falls short of their expectations.

    2. The Spanophile

    Shunning all things British, this ex-pat (usually accompanied by several dogs for some reason) has bought a finca in the rural inland and loudly announces their renunciation of all things British, intending to integrate totally into Spanish society.

    Within a few months can usually be found making clandestine trips to the English Supermarket to stock up on Silver Shred Marmalade, Andrex and ‘proper’ bread.

    3. The Essex Builder

    Having inherited their ‘Dear Old Mum’s’ ex-council flat in Beffnel Grin or Burmunzee, the Essex Builder ‘done it up’ and sold it for a £300,000 profit, sold their own two-bedroom semi, pooled the lot and ‘come dahn ere’ and bought a villa wiv a pool, ‘cos you go’oo ava pool incha?’

    The villa in question was built by Pesadilla Properties, three feet away on either side, from the adjacent identical villas, and has a large crack down the facade caused by their repeated failed attempts to affix a 2.4m satellite dish to the wall. The dish now sits on the roof terrace, thereby rendering the space utterly unusable.

    Theirs, and all Essex Builder villas have a UK registered 1.5t pickup on the driveway, which they use to ply their trade as a General Builder. Other items to be found on the premises include a scooter with modified exhaust, belonging to the tearaway teenage son, a discarded white stiletto or two and sundry piles of ladders, roof tiles, paving slabs and bricks.

    All of this conspicuous wealth is guarded by a pair of rabid Rottweilers named after two of the most ferocious characters in Gladiators.

    4. The Shady Innocent.

    Attracted to the Costas by the chance to make a new, anonymous start, this heavyset, tattooed, shaven-headed chap is somewhat cagey about his previous history in Britain, smokes roll-up cigarettes as thin as a toothpick and never sits with his back to the door. He receives constant calls on his mobile phones (4) and always walks out of the bar to receive them.

    His favourite bar is frequented by similar types, all of whom mutter to each other over their beers, the only audible words being “comin’ over from Morocco, tonight.”

    An expert in vacuum-packing and shrink-wrapping, and fully conversant with how to dispose of unwanted insulation from the innards of fridge-freezers, he runs a strangely successful business sending large electrical appliances to the UK.

    5. Mr and Mrs Coffin-Dodger

    Having seemingly lived on the Costas since the days when Franco was a boy, ‘Bubbles’ and Norman can still be found frequenting their local and are never seen apart.

    Although clearly less mobile than when they first joined The Jet Set and moved to Spain, and in mortal danger in a strong wind, their longevity has become so well-known that they are referred to as the Duracell bunnies of the ex-pat community. So much so in fact, that the average age of the ex-pat in Spain will drop by 5 years when they finally pop their clogs.

    A somewhat confusing couple, they constantly refer to bars by the name under which they traded in 1973, and talk fondly of people who left the Costas a generation before.

    6. The Breath of Fresh Air

    Flush with the proceeds of a redundancy package from Royal Mail, this couple and their 15-yr-old daughter have just bought into the Spanish Dream and gained the traspaso on a bar in the Centro Comercial.

    Tapping the side of their nose with a forefinger, they whisper, “We know that this bar has had eight different owners in the past three years, but we have got some brilliant new ideas” from their barstools. “Within two years, we’re gonna have a chain of bars up and down the Costas”

    The bar opens with a bang, with drink and food being consumed at an alarming rate by seemingly every member of the expat community, (all of whom bring a bag full of Tupperware containers, into which they shove sausage rolls and quiche when they think no-one is looking) who ‘pop along’ like a swarm of locusts, joining them in a ‘toast to their future success.

    By 3am the next morning, €1800 euros worth of drink and food are gone, the daughter last seen disappearing down the street on the back of the scooter of a ‘local boy’, and holding a Denuncia for excess noise, they learn their first lessons.

    Six months later, the daughter having fallen pregnant after an all-night beach party and the wife not having spoken to him for three months, the husband pulls down the shutter for the last time.

    7. The Golf Bore

    Sporting a black eye from the last time he demonstrated his swing (inadvertedly knocking a tableful of drinks into the lap of an inebriated Essex Builder) the Golf Bore knows the yardage and pin position of every hole on every course in a thirty mile radius of his home. Arms and face sporting an alarming collection of Melanomae, the Golf Bore is usually to be found, G&T in hand, regaling all who will listen with how he ‘chipped-in from 50yds on the 17th’ just that afternoon.

    8. The Man of a Thousand Friends

    Usually of a portly build, this chap spends very little time in bars, preferring to pull up outside in his UK registered estate car and collect his ‘friends’ to take them home after a night out. Frequently found looking conspicuously ‘furtive’ at the local airport, he meets more ‘friends’ and takes them to their holiday villa, not seeing them again until it is time to take his ‘friends’ back to the airport.

    There must be more of these. Let’s have ’em

  93. Big Raddy says:

    Kelsey. Very good read to start the day 🙂

    Don’t get those types here, ex-pats come for money or love

  94. natalie says:

    great post. the year i started watching football and following arsenal was the season of the Invincibles … its been heartwrenching

  95. kelsey says:

    In the aftermath it was mentioned that Diaby has never had 2 good games on the role,yet that could be said about nearly every player,we lack consistency and regardless how weak the opposition was, the pleasure in beating Braga and Spurs was instantly wiped out by the games against Sunderland and WBA. From the very first few minutes it was obvious that the combination of Diaby,Song and Eboue was never going to work, plus the fact apart from Nasri,who ironically had just returned from injury and played 120 minutes 3 days before,we were woeful.AS pointed out,Almunia was injured yet the boss decided to keep him on instead of replacing him with Fab.That tells me a lot.Many call this a blp. I am not so sure.We have 2 difficult games coming up, and one questions were is the motivation in the team and where is the captain to rant and rave and drive the others on.I have always been a Wenger supporter,but one really must question his thinking,as 2 seasons on we haven’t got a decent keeper to chose from.I also don’t understand why Jack was dropped, an 18 year old can play twice a week.He has still to learn,as was evident at Anfield, but he would have been more than comfortable against WBA. It looks like another year of just trying to maintain a top 4 position, in the main play very attractive football,most of he time, but personally,I can’t see much further.I now feel that Wenger should be made responsible to a large extent.

  96. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Morning all,
    Glad to see one or two taking up my last remaining goalkeeper options.

    Very accurate I imagine. I can’t imagine anything says “loser” (as my daughter would say) more than the ones who clear off to Australia. That is so far away, that in effect, what you are saying is that it does not matter if I never see my family again and I do not have any friends anyway.

    I have suggested Seaman for Sunday (thanks Peachesgooner), but for CL game, I go with…….
    ZEBEDEE, star and all round hero of the Magic Roundabout.

  97. MickyDidIt89 says:

    I see where you are coming from, however, how would you be feeling had we won 3-0 against WBA?
    I suspect a little better, although we all know that it was a cock up not getting a new GK on board. I am not so sure I blame AW for that. Suppose he gave Gazidis a wish list with Reina at the top, followed by Schwartzer and Given. Hardly AW’s fault if Gazidis failed.
    I have said that I disagreed with selection, and as you point out, that is down to AW, but as someone else on here mentioned earlier, you would imagine even the horrible axis of Eboue, Diaby and Song should have seen off WBA.

    A win on Sunday, and we will have an energized Kelsey!

    Back 20 mins

  98. Big Raddy says:

    I agree Micky.

    As Kelsey knows, AW DID try to buy a GK but was thwarted at the last minute. Who knows who else he tried to buy close season, or who may be brought in during January.

    If I was offered a draw tonight and at SB, I would take it with the smile of a second hand car dealer.

  99. MickyDidIt89 says:

    My team for tonight;

    …Genghis Khan/Mark Anthony (subject to medical)

    Sag Kos Squil Gibbs


    Ros JW Vela


  100. rico says:

    Hi all,

    Kelsey, your 6.42 comment has made me laugh, big time. Absolutely cracking…..

    I do feel a bit of a prat though, sitting on my own with a grin from ear to ear 🙂

  101. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Morning Big Raddy,
    Have to slightly disagree, in that I think we should go for the magic ten points as fast as possible, and I think my team should see them off, while keeping Zebedee, Eboue, Verm, Clichy, Nasri, Cesc and AA all fresh for Sunday.

  102. kelsey says:


    are you here in Spain 😉

    My point wasn’t about the keeper situation on saturday, it has been an ongoing problem for 2 seasons.now, taken that AW is an intelligent man, he doesn’t want to risk “the one and only” as he also might get stage fright.
    Fab was very very highly rated before he broke into the first team.

    There is a huge difference playingbehind closed doors,Barnet or in the reserves with a comparitively small crowd.
    So my conclusion is that in two years Wenger could have tried harder.
    Given, who was wanted by many was initially available for 1 million,a season before he went to City,when Newcastle were in financial turmoil.

  103. Big Raddy says:

    Micky. I would swap 2 points in Belgrade for one at SB. To get a draw there will be a huge bonus.

  104. Big Raddy says:

    Good point Kelsey.

    Re: Chesney’s stage nerves – he will have to confront them somewhere.

    I would play Fab in the away games where he has less pressure and Chesney to open his account at home to Birmingham

  105. rico says:

    🙂 kelsey, no, i’d miss the seasons 🙂

  106. Rasp says:

    Morning all, hi rico 🙂

    New post ……

  107. MickyDidIt89 says:

    That’ll be the Football Seasons, I take it!

  108. rico says:

    Indeed Micky 🙂

    Hi Rasp

  109. […] 2010 Arsenal Embarrassed ……. What Went Wrong in 2005? […]

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