Same old Arsenal… Déjà vu all over again

Written by CarlitoII

They say familiarity breeds contempt. Yesterday’s game saw a familiar pattern reassert itself. Out of 3 competitions in quick succession and what looks like a season-ending injury to one of the main reasons for continued belief in what remains of the season. I feel contempt… but for who?

I certainly don’t feel contempt for our away fans, who could be heard loud and proud on ITV. I have not a smattering of loathing for our much derided goalkeeper, who saved a certain own goal in the second half and had a good game for being 3rd choice in his position.  I can muster very little ire for Chris Foy, the referee, who despite failing to send Scholes off in the final 10 minutes, was even-handed and aimed to play the advantage wherever possible. He made errors, but I felt these were evenly distributed between the two teams and had no bearing on the overall result.

I could rage against Sagna, who was nowhere to be seen in the build up for the first goal as it was played out to his side and Djourou was left floundering trying to deal with Hernandez’s header, or for hospitalizing Djourou (accidentally). I could aim my anger at Gibbs for the error leading to the second goal. I could lay the blame at our manager’s door for selecting a player who has patently struggled with the defensive side of playing at left back this season and for leaving Clichy on the bench instead. I would love to blame the referee for letting Scholes stay on the pitch as he did his best impression of Norman Whiteside in the last ten minutes. I might feel inclined to decry the entire team for the way their self belief ebbed dramatically as soon as the second goal went against us.

I have a strong desire to play the blame game, but I cannot and must not. That very ebbing of self-belief is the reason why we must withhold our anger and support this team if we are to have any chance of keeping our one remaining iron in the fire. I won’t blame anyone else for venting their understandable frustration at this disastrous fortnight of football results but can only counsel a keep calm and carry on attitude until the dust settles at the end of the season.

So why did we lose?

The best players on the pitch were Van Der Sar and Chris Smalling- in the first half. In terms of desire, Rooney was in a class of his own on the pitch, playing in midfield, attack and even at left back at one point to ensure his team were the victors. Hernandez, in getting 2 assists showed that he will be a danger for many years to come. In short they were, to use one of Wenger’s favourite words “efficient”.  Our best player was Jack Wilshere, heart on his sleeve heroics but unfortunately little end product.

The pre-match discussions I took part in were all about ManUre’s lack of wide options and Wenger set up his team accordingly to play down the wings.  I have to hand it to our Auld Enemy for coming up with the perfect counter to this. In selecting 7 defenders, we could have been fooled into thinking they would defend and try to nick it on the counter- but Fabio and Raphael are versatile Brazilians (unlike our own) and proved adept and playing in a more attacking role. That each was instrumental in a goal apiece in a 2-0 win can only go down as a masterstroke by the man we love to hate and a depressing lack of plan B from our manager.

Before outlining the events of the match, I’d like to consider this: Was this game important? Compared to Barcelona it felt like a damp squib before it began and I only started to feel any nerves five minutes into the game. Compared to our still very real chances of winning the league, the cup comes a distant second. So the positive I take form this, is that we now have only one target to aim for, whilst having none of the fixture congestion of our rivals for the premier league.

The game itself followed a depressingly familiar narrative thread. Pressure, possession, over-elaboration at times, swift breaks being checked back allowing the opposition to regroup, shots on target, defensive errors leading to goals against the run of play and a subsequent lack of belief to get back into it.  We’ve been here before too often in the last 5 years and the season ending injury to Djourou, our lynchpin defender just made the sense of déjà vu all the stronger.

It was a match of two halves from our point of view. In the first half, we had plenty of possession and played with our tails up. Raphael’s goal came against the run of play. Fabio received the ball in his own half and charged forward releasing his brother Raphael down our left side. At this stage Gibbs should have Raphael covered with Kozzer and JD in the centre marking Hernandez. As Fabio continued his run our right back was ambling slowly back leaving space at the far post which turned out to be fatal as Fabio joined Hernandez in the centre and the latter was able to peel behind Djourou to propel an powerful header that Almunia was only able to parry away to leave Fabio a simple tap in.  Gibbs should not have been so far up the pitch but got back well- the same cannot be said of Sagna.

Throughout the first half, and even after the first breakaway goal we carried plenty of threat and had the lion’s share of possession forcing excellent saves from Van Persie and Nasri. But we never looked like troubling the 40-year-old Dutch stopper and that tells you what you need to know. In total we had 18 shots of which 11 were on target and 11 were saved.

In the second half, Fergusson made an attacking change bringing on Valencia for Fabio. We started brightly again, and the game still felt very open when Koscielny drove forward over the half way line, fed Wilshere and after some neat, quick build up play on the edge of the box involving Van Persie and Arshavin found Koscielny again inside the area who had a deflected shot palmed back to RVP who fed him again to draw a fantastic save from Van Der Sar. Great play- real intent- top save by their goalkeeper.  The resulting corner also had a shot from a tight angle from Arshavin that drew a save.

At that stage a comeback looked likely but another breakaway occurred straightaway with the ball carried down our left flank and passed to Raphael who went past Gibbs who looked like he had completely lost his bearings. Raphael was in the box and played the ball to Hernandez who was tackled by Djourou. The ball bobbled up out of the challenge and Rooney reacted twice as quickly as Sagna and Gibbs to head it smartly past Almunia. Thereafter, the confidence visibly drained. Poor Arshavin started misplacing passes, Diaby’s invisible wall returned to the pitch and possession became much more equal.

Wenger made changes, but Denilson was unlucky to be the first off, having had one of his better games. Chamakh coming on was invisible as we struggled to make our passes tell and clearly wasn’t the impact sub Wenger had hoped for. A double substitution followed with 20 minutes left to play and Diaby and Arshavin both coming off, rightly in my opinion, to be replaced by Rosicky and Ramsey. How good was it to see Ramsey back on the pitch? Well, at 2-0 down it was a crumb of comfort but it wasn’t long until the horrible collision between Sagna and Djourou left the big man on the ground needing a long break in play to get treatment and be carried off. Having played all 3 substitutions we were down to 10 men for the second time in a week. With 12 minutes left and down to ten men through injury with Ramsey deputizing at Centre Back, the match was gone. Paul Scholes launched some nasty challenges in this final period, but even if he had been sent off for the 3 awful tackles he made, I doubt the result would have changed. Despite more of the huffing and puffing that had been much in evidence throughout the game, there was a very palpable feeling throughout the second half that the players didn’t believe they would win.

Can our players recover the belief that clearly drained away in the second half at Old Trafford? This time we have no convenient Busacca scapegoat figure to blame. Playing the blame game against our players and manager at this stage of the season will only add to the recurring sense of a season imploding that this loss will have added to. We lost this game ourselves, and if the players can accept that, work on their failings and man up for the league run in, we could still be celebrating in May. The players and manager will need our support if we are to entertain that hope.  Can they recover their belief? Can we?

Player ratings:

Almunia: Idenitfied as a weakness before the game, he looked shaky on crosses and I feel the defence of panics at times with him behind them, but I can’t fault him for the goals and he pulled off some good stops in the game, not least the potential own-goal. 7

Sagna: At fault for not tracking back and leaving space on the right for the build up to the second goal. But in trying to get back into it, Bac man was the main source of danger to the team in red and apart from the error was one of the best players on the pitch. 7

Koscielny: Had an incredible moment up the pitch where he nearly scored and showed great comfort on the ball. Good enough in defence but missed the shield normally provided by Song. 7

Djourou: Once again a man with great reading of the game in front of him and some excellent tackles. Some of those tackles backfired in this game. He was lucky not to score an own goal and he was the nearest player when both goals were scored although there was little he could do about either of them. Hope the injury is not as bad as it looked. If he’s out for the rest of the season, our chances will be greatly diminished. 6

Gibbs: What can I say? Taken apart again and again defensively, especially for the second goal where he stood and watched as his man went past him. I feel for him, but he had a nightmare. 3

Arshavin: For the first 30 minutes, looked like a great threat and potential match winner. Faded in the last 5 minutes of the first half as his passes went astray and he appeared to run out of breath. All his recently recovered confidence seemed to dissolve in the second half and he was replaced too late in my opinion. 5

Nasri: Very similar to the Barcelona game, had a lot of the ball but doesn’t seem to have the cutting edge he displayed two months ago.  Clearly not yet ready to be our Cesc replacement. 6

Diaby: The way he started the game, I had high hopes that we would finally get a “good day” out of him and the first half was ok. He missed the opportunity for a first time shot in the first half and was too slow to play players in or take advantage of the split second chances that change games. Faded to be replaced by Ramsey. 5

Denilson: Amazed me by playing the ball forward with some regularity! He also won some crucial tackles. Offered nothing incisive however. Very much a journeyman performance from a journeyman player. Replaced early by Chamakh in a positive move from the manager. 5

Wilshere: An all action performance, as we are getting used to. Sweated blood but still didn’t have a great influence on the game, despite his best efforts to “do a Gerrard” and drive us forward single-handed. 6.5

Van Persie: A couple of curlers nearly did it but, as usual, the high-performance goal machine that RVP is needs a few games to become deadly after every lay off and this was one of the games he needs to get back to that form. 6


Chamakh: Wasn’t involved for what seemed like ages after he came on. Amazed me with a shot of substance from the edge of the area but it was straight at the keeper.  Didn’t have the impact the manager would have hoped for. 5

Ramsey: Great to see him back, had to fill in at CB when we went down to 10 men after the injury to Djourou. Unfair to give him a rating based on an odd comeback game for him.

Rosicky: Um, not the player he was is he? Arshavin was running out of legs, but apart from being able to run I feel he did little. 4

91 Responses to Same old Arsenal… Déjà vu all over again

  1. chas says:

    Excellent report, Carlito.

    I’m not sure I wanted to go back to that Wembley sh*thole, anyway. 🙂

    Djourou’s injury was the kick in the breadbasket we really could have done without. What have we done to earn such wretched luck?

  2. Big Raddy says:

    Carlito. Excellent post-match which covered all bases. The player assessments were spot on.

    Rasp made a good point. Why was Clichy on the bench?

  3. Breezy says:

    Yep, have to agree with most of what you said, strange game that, but very disappointed none the less. I didn’t think we played too badly at all but we lacked that incisiveness with our passing which has seems to have disappeared after the barca (1st leg)game.

    However, i think (like the title suggests)this game didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know, Denilson was poor again, Diaby drifted in and out of the game and we were vulnerable on the counter.

    Gutted for DJ though he has had more then his fair share of injuries and has been great for us at the back. On the flip side great to Ramsey back, for the little while he played in midfield he looked ok, always wanted the ball and made some good forward runs.

    Finally, our away support was absolutely phenomenal even at 2 two down, down to the men they were giving it their all, great great support.

  4. Gooner in Exile says:

    Very fair Carlito. The second goal killed us, especially coming so soon after half time and after a bright start to the second half.

    The main difference is 7 on 7 in their box gives us no space, 4 on 4 in our third leaves us so exposed and space for ManUre to play. I would ask Wenger that against them at the Emirates we commit no full backs forward and retain at least one defensive midfielder sitting just in front of our back four.

    I would take issues with some ratings namely Deni, Jack and JD but they are subjective and subject to interpretation.

  5. Gooner in Exile says:

    It strikes me that we don’t allow our DM to actually play that role.

    Did anyone see Mascherano leave his post at the back of Barcas midfield, I assume yesterday it was Denilsonss job but so often as the play slowedhe found himself running to make himself available for a pass that never came leaving himself out of position when ManU got the ball, the same happens to Song in that position.

    It is also inthat position that we miss an experience head, that could galvanise those around him.

  6. Big Raddy says:

    GIE. I don’t believe the team can play that way – I cannot recall a Wenger FB “sitting”.

  7. Big Raddy says:

    Denilson is no Masch, nor do we have a player who can fulfill his role (Frimpong perhaps). Song is more effective when he is part of the midfield triangle.

  8. Anthony Timothy says:

    It’s the same old Arsenal trying outpass MU.When the attack breaks down ,as is 99.9% of the time,a swift counter by MU the ball is in the gunners net. This is a replay of previous matches. I am not surprised the gunners lost again and will continue to lose.
    When the gunners are in the final thire,its pass here and there and all over.The result is a massed defence and how many times have we seen Wenger trying to thread a way thru. The attack will break down and then its goal at the Arsenal end.
    Wenger can’t believe his plan aint working. he shold know it has not been working the last five years. There is no plan b. he only wants to attack and anti soccer is not for him.He is the high priest of attacking soccer believing in the mantra I can outscore you forgetting it’s easier to defend.
    I am afaid he is in dreamland and until he plays anti soccer to win,Arsenal will be in danger of being reduced to mediocre status.

  9. pravin says:

    When we play the “big boys” we always feel like we’re the underdogs and almost never go into these games feeling confident that we can get 3 points or give the other team a terribly hard time.

    Our performance never looks assured and we seem in awe of our opponents. Defensive errors and sheer panic at the back make us look like school boys!

    The neat passing starts at the back and then stops infront of the opponent’s box our players seeming to have no idea how to bypass the banks of defenders. We should expect teams to defend like that against our style of play but we should have a plan B by now surely.

    Utd had one of the worst teams out there but they did the job against us by taking their chances and showing their desire to get past us…we had almost half a dozen attack-minded players and yet couldn’t get a goal.

    Maybe the problem is not so much to do with the personnel…its more to do with the mentality of our players?

    Injuries to key players once again at a crucial point in the season. Maybe its good that we’re only in the running for the league? I don’t think the squad can cope with more games at this point honestly.

  10. GunnerPete says:

    Very honest report and I saw it the same way. SO USED THIS OUTCOME EVERY YEAR THAT I CAN ONLY MAKE A FEW POINTS.

    (A) What team in the world can win top games without their star spinal players? Vermaelen, Song, RVP (most of the season) Walcott, Cesc (always coming back) Ramsey out all season,Even Fabiansky.
    (take their equivalent out of Manure & Chelski and see what happens)

    (B) If we should expect our best players to be targeted and put out of the game for months then why do our reserves look so average? Diaby, Denilson, Sqillaci,Almunia,Eboue, Bentner,Rosicky …none would get in the Chelski or Manure squads would they?

    (C) If the above is true, why is it? Is Arsene at fault for not reconstructing a proper defence with great backups ? MY ANSWER IS YES!

    If all I said is true then why are we the Gunners paymasters accepting this?

    Now we have the prospect of playing out the race for the title with a third rate goalie (again) without out two best CB’s (again) with a captain who is frightened to run for a whole game (again), without our top goal scoring winger (again) and with at least four players who dont really want to be here, or look like they dont ie; Arsharvin, Clichy, Diaby, Rosicky.

    The answer? Thesame as its been since the fab six retired……..collect Uk born defenders who like Wilshire will sweat blood for the team and not just appear for the money.

  11. Red Arse says:

    Morning Guys, 🙂

    Excellent Post Carlito, particularly considering the task you had. 🙂

    Dandan is the kind of guy you would want next to you if you were in the trenches and “going over the top”. Resolute in support, clear in thinking and loyal! 🙂

    For myself, I was impatient for the game to start, full of hope yet raddled with trepidation.
    At the start of the match we played really well, and I was relieved, delighted but concerned that good starts always seem to end in despair for Arsenal fans.

    As the game continued, we were suckered for the first goal and my wine consumption increased exponentially.

    By the end of the game I was despondent at how things had panned out, but could not really fault the team’s effort.

    No game is ever perfect, no player can always be faultless, but winning the game has a way of obscuring perceived weaknesses, and the result is everything.

    Sadly, losing has the opposite effect and faults and weaknesses are magnified out of all proportion by disappointment; and then the blame game begins!
    It was player ‘x’ who did not mark/get back etc; it was the ref’s crap decisions; it was opposition player ‘y’ who was a cheating b*st*rd; worst of all, it was the clueless manager’s fault for having no plan B!

    We all engage in it Dandan, whether we express our views publicly or not.

    It does not reflect well on any of us, but we are only human …….. and we do still love Arsenal!

  12. Rasp says:

    Thanks for another classy and balanced match report Carlito. Like everyone, I’m ambivalent. I wouldn’t want any negativity to percolate through to the players and affect our chances for the rest of the season, but I also share your overwhelming feeling of déjà vu.

    I’m left thinking that we’ve been unlucky yet again, but can the same ‘bad luck’ for 5 years still be considered to be luck or is there a pattern that should not be ignored? Again, as you state, that is a debate that we should have only after the season is over.

    For now, we just have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off ….. etc etc

  13. shrek2be says:

    I have always been curious ,The neat passing starts at the back and then stops infront of the opponent’s box our players seeming to have no idea how to bypass the banks of defenders. We should expect teams to defend like that against our style of play but we should have a plan B by now surely about the dribbling abilities of our players, how man players in our squad have the capability to dribble past 1 or 2 opponents and then have a shot at goal?

  14. Big Raddy says:

    Some of the criticism of this team is starting to really piss me off.

    This team of so called bottlers, managed by a poor tactician are 2nd in the table and have genuine chances of becoming Champions. I just cannot understand such short term pessimism.

    We are many points ahead of the most expensive team ever assembled in the PL, last season’s double winners who are managed by a proven winner, and the rising star of THFC – who are crowing about getting to a point in the CL that we have achieved on many occasions.

    Look around and smell the roses.

  15. shrek2be says:

    you know I saw some rumors on the net that Bendtner is wanted by Bundesliga clubs including Dortmund & Munich . You know if we had to cash in on him , now is the right time , hopefully Dortmund can buy him and we can get Subotic/hummels with some extra cash thrown in.

  16. shrek2be says:

    Hey Big Raddy, I do think a lot of fans go overboard in the criticism of this team but I think what pisses a lot of fans is the same mistakes keep being repeated over & over again .

  17. Big Raddy says:

    RA. Reading your comments yesterday, I got the distinct impression that you were “in your cups” by the second half!

    GunnerPete. How many of Chelsea’s second team would get into our first choice 11? None ….. When our lads are all fit (never) we have an awesome squad.

  18. Big Raddy says:

    shrek2be. I agree with you and fully understand their frustration, but has anyone of the “fans” come up with a solution apart from the nonsensical “buy British.”

    MU have the Indian sign over us at the moment. One thing certain in life is that nothing stays the same.

  19. Carlito11 says:

    Some excellent comments here already today- just passing through- dropping the M-I-L at the airport in an hour and will be back to engage in the debate this afternoon…

  20. shrek2be says:

    Big Raddy , I agree with you regarding the “buy British” thing that it is stupid. If we had actually followed that policy we would have been where British clubs might have been today , fighting for scrap near the relegation zone, playing the “hoof and run behind the ball” style. Personally I believe Wilshere takes care of the British part of Arsenal ,
    I think Denilson is a decent player but not suited for the physical league , Rosicky is well past his prime , Diaby is horribly unmotivated to do anything, I believe one great reason Vieira succeeded at Arsenal because he was kept in the reserves at AC Milan and wanted to prove himself, thats motivation. So was Henry in the same position at Juventus. Bendtner for all his good qualities , has a huge ego which is greater than all his footballing abilities put together. His first touch is awful. We need to stop buying utility players and start buying players for specialized positions, like defensive midfield for example. We need to stop playing players out of position.

  21. Big Raddy says:

    Shrek. Good to see you on AA and I hope you return.

    What makes Vieira/Messi/TH14/DB10/Ronaldo etc special players and separates them from so many others is what is known as “Grace under Pressure”.

    Diaby doesn’t have it. One cannot criticise his work ethic – he runs all over the pitch. What he lacks is that inherent intelligence to choose the right time to pass, shoot , tackle or dribble.

    I am a huge fan of Nik but agree that his career lies elsewhere. He is a square peg in this team. As to his first touch, look at his first touch for the goal v Ipswich.

  22. Alan says:

    Sorry GunnerPete but didn’t Utd’s second side beat us 2-0.
    If ever a result highlighted Wenger’s flaws it was this. Ferguson could pick 11 Utd fans off the street and get the better of Wenger’s Arsenal. We need to wake up and realise that this team will NOT be champions. Wenger doesn’t have what it takes to win the league anymore. I realised this slowly over the past few years. I remember one interview he gave about 3/4 years ago when he spoke about dying and how hard that was to come to terms with. He’s lost the killer instinct and that’s why we see the same mistakes being made year in year out. Cesc has given up on him and I’m sure one day Jack will to. Listen to players talking about signing for Arsenal. Everyone of them speaks of Arsenal as a stepping stone in their career.
    Wenger has been a magnificent manager for Arsenal and has taken us to another level. Managers for years to come will benefit from the steps he has taken in the last 10 years but we will never win a major trophy again under him unless he changes his philosopy and that won’t happen.

  23. shrek2be says:

    Big Raddy , thank you and I will, I’ve been reading Arsenal blogs regularly from the past one year and have only been brave enough to post my comments recently.
    When you say Ronaldo , I sincerely hope that you meant the original(Brazilian) one , because I am a big fan of him and not the manure player , though he is also a very good player. The Brazilian one is the only striker who has been better than TH14 IMO(don’t flame me, guys)in the last 15 years. If we even get a player 50% of talent of him and Henry and the desire of wilshere , we’ll win the league .
    Regarding Bendtner, I would then point you to the first touch vs Barcelona . This is where composure comes in to place. I’ll show you a video of the great Ronaldo vs Holland in a WC semifinal ,
    Ronaldo’s age at this time is close to 21-22. he was atually at the top of his game , and god only knows what would have happened had he not suffered those injuries and mysterious fit at the final .

  24. Red Arse says:

    Hi Raddy, 🙂

    I was allowed my first glass of an alcoholic beverage 2 or 3 days ago. ONE glass per day being the key!

    Rather naughtily, I had a further two as the game progressed. Not having had any booze since before Xmas, it certainly went to my head. “In my cups” is pretty accurate description. Paying for it today, as alcohol and medication don’t mix!! 😦

    I wish every fan was more steadfast like Dandan, but looking around the blog sites, I fear the milk of human kindness in response to our defeat is not much in evidence. 😦

  25. Big Raddy says:

    Alan. I refer you to my comment of 11.10

    Shrek2be. Firstly it is unfair to compare Nik to one of the greatest strikers of all time. As to the Barca game, he had been on the pitch for under 10 minutes – but I accept what you say.

  26. Big Raddy says:

    RA. A deep concern of mine is that Arsenal fans are becoming the Spurs fans of 15 years ago and vice versa.

    The Spurs fans were always the first to turn on their team and were some of the quietest supporters whereas Arsenal fans were noisy and backed their team through thick and thin. Things are changing …

    It seems that the noise coming out of WHL is far louder than the Grove even though we have 20K more fans, who appear to have lost the ablilty to enjoy some fantastic football put together by a young and developing side.

  27. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Evening all, does anyone know when TV will be back?

  28. gnarleygeorge9 says:


    I’m getting sick of Arsenal being dumped on by manchester utd & not winning the Premier League title.

    In saying that a win @ home over Utd & a PL title this year can change all that 😀


  29. shrek2be says:

    Big Raddy , I don’t completely agree about the being unfair bit comparing Bendtner to Ronaldo/TH14, Bendtner doesn’t walk his talk of being one of the world’s best. Look at some of the world’s best present and past , Almost every one of them was humble and never had to speak about themselves in the manner Bendtner does. The only guy who probably used to talk a lot was Diego Maradona , and we all know what a player he was . I feel the English media hypes English players a lot and due to this a lot of players have suffered. I hope Jack doesn’t turn out to be one of them.

  30. shrek2be says:

    Another thing I want to point out is not using Bendtner in the position he deserves to be used , i.e as the main striker. RVP is a support striker i.e the Bergkamp role is best suited for him. He shouldn’t be the target man for us .

  31. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    “Arsene Wenger is confident Arsenal can still win the Premier League after his side crashed out of their third cup competition in the space of a fortnight.”

    I really don’t think Arsene uses the media to his advantage. This quote sounds like a cry for help for people/fans to still believe in him.

    He needs to just do it.

  32. Breezy says:

    I agree with most of what has been said here. We have too many players who only perform in fits and spurts and those that are just not good enough. Our fist team is probably the PL, but to win the major trophies you need a strong squad, we clearly don’t have that.

    Another concern is our unwanted flair for the bizarre if we’re not careful we could tern into the English Atletico Madrid!!!!

  33. Red Arse says:


    Your observation of the respective support given by the Spurs and Arsenal fans is spot on.

    The support given by the fans of the clubs’ is inversely proportional to the level of expectation for their clubs’ success.

    What I mean, is that Spurs fans, for example, previously had very low expectations of silverware for their team, and their vilification was correspondingly high.
    Now that has changed and their expectations have risen, while the vilification has dropped and support has increased.

    By contrast, Arsenal fans’ expectations were high and vilification was low, but continuing disappointment with the club’s recent lack of success has adversely changed that, resulting in less vocal support and an increase in the abuse of the manager, the team and individual players.

    As I previously said, it is a human condition that does not reflect well on anyone, and is self defeating!

    Why do some find it so difficult to understand the simple equation; “More support = greater chances of success”? It is so simple!

  34. Harry says:

    Carlito: Great summary, you should be an english teacher….!!

    Red Arse: Absolute Quality Statement@11:03am……..For those who missed it:

    Red Arse said:

    “””No game is ever perfect, no player can always be faultless, but winning the game has a way of obscuring perceived weaknesses, and the result is everything.
    Sadly, losing has the opposite effect and faults and weaknesses are magnified out of all proportion by disappointment; and then the blame game begins!”””

    Exactly, the line between success and failure is so fine, for now we must move on, get the sticky plasters out and attempt to be positive….

    Our team has got to make its own luck, force the issue and be more incisive, try that little bit more, go that extra yard, be stronger and believe……

  35. Carlito11 says:

    Welcome to the new posters on AA today- some top comments! Alan- I think what you say about Arsenal being perceived as a stepping stone for younger players is a recent construct borne out of the financial realities of the stadium move. We have now got to the stage where next season we can change our transfer policy if necessary. It’s well known that Martin Keown remains close to Wenger, and the article this week where Keown stated that a return to making big signings is a strong possiblitiy this summer gives me faith that we will not be permanently locked in the current cycle.

  36. Carlito11 says:

    Harry- don’t be silly- a teacher!! 😉

  37. Big Raddy says:

    Let’s hope so Carlito.

    Allied to a big signing I would like to see us sell some of the players who are coming to the end of their AFC careers or will not cut it at the Grove – we can all make our lists.

    Note the word, sell, not give.

  38. Carlito11 says:

    Red Arse- not that you don’t normally say an inordinate amount of sense- but today you have excelled yourself and I agree with every perceptive word you have said! It also takes a bit of courage to draw parallels of similarity between us and the Spuds’ support on this site. Finally, I, in my superstitious way, credit you with weaving a spell over my relationship with the Mother-in-law! Magically she put up with all the unreasonble behaviour and bad moods I’ve had this week. Ta!

  39. Carlito11 says:

    There should have been at least 2 of these in the last comment: 😉 😉

  40. Carlito11 says:

    BR, I think the some of the loans Wenger made this season are with a view to turning a profit on some of the players coming through that he doesn’t feel will have a chance- others he hopes to get battle hardened to come in and relieve the battle weary and demotivated who we need to sell. I think we all know who they are…
    I have high hopes for Vela, Miyaichi, Bartley and Lansbury coming in to do great jobs next season.

  41. Red Arse says:

    Thank you for your comments Carlito, and I am glad if I have helped in even a small way! 🙂

    Actually, you are so transparentally a decent and pleasant guy you would have won her over anyway!! 🙂

  42. Red Arse says:

    Raddy, Carlito,

    I agree with you both.

    By making room in the squad, by the selling on of certain players, this will allow the returning loanees, reinforced with a couple of class signings, to make the nucleus of a trophy winning squad next season.

    Not that I have given up on this season I still have hopes Arsene will get us over the winning line in the EPL! 🙂

  43. shrek2be says:

    Personally I am not sure whether JET is equipped to handle a striker’s role . I have seen a little bit of him in videos , while he does have a lot of skill , he tends to showboat rather than apply the finishing touch . I think Bartley may be important as well as Lansbury, Miyaichi is still yet to face English style defending and would also need to get a work permit ,but I have high hopes for him.Vela I believe is someone we should persist with in the striker’s role , not on the left or out of position . This is one of Wenger’s biggest flaws , putting players out of position and not buying specialist players .

  44. Carlito11 says:

    I’m worried about the Manager- he’s saying exactly what he said last season and the season before when it all wnet pear-shaped. Needs to think outside the box here to change the course of events- more bloody deja vu when you hear him speak!

  45. Carlito11 says:

    Shrek2Be- I agree with all your assessments on our players out on loan. JET might be the first youth product from our academy to go for a really good price because he undoubtedly has talent but it hard to see him suiting our game, whereas he might be the key man at a club like Sunderland or QPR next season…

  46. shrek2be says:

    Another thing in getting youngsters through the academy is they are taught to do a team game similar to Ajax and Barca. The thing with those clubs is that they cut people quickly who don’t have the technical gifts to play at the club. I am not so sure about Arsenal. One great thing about Ferguson is his handling of young players is much ,much better than Wenger. Apart from the class of 92′, he has handled players like Ronaldo, Silva twins ,Nani very well. Nani could’ve become like the original Denilson of Brazil, just showing off , no end product . But Nani has developed into a genuine match winner at least at the level required for premiership winning team. My point here is Arsenal don’t encourage individuality within the players. Barca IMO also doesn’t most of the time , but when you have a player like Messi /Iniesta ,you would be stupid to stop them from expressing themselves.
    When was the last time any one of you have seen any Arsenal player run defences ragged with his dribbling ablities and created a chance for himself to score? The last time I saw it when TH14 was playing for us , no one after that.

  47. Hi all

    I’m still feeling pretty shell-shocked, not helped by having to spend the morning at a family gathering which had a predominance of spuds yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuk.

    Thank you Carlito for a really measured and intelligent match report, sadly for us it is the same old same old but maybe our new team is just around the corner.

    What is it about some of our players that they just don’t want to win games? It’s like they want to be footballers but not play the game – not Jack though, he’s a proper footballer, he works so hard and really tries to make things happen.

  48. Carlito11 says:

    Shrek2Be, last time I saw a player dribble past players and score was Nasri this season- not sure what’s happened to that side of his game this calendar year though. 😦
    I’m not sure you’re entirely right about Ajax and Barca shipping out those that won’t make it any further. We just know much more about our youth. The crucial difference is not skill or awareness but the mental aspect to go on and make it and win that Wilshere demonstrates so well. Take Bojan at Barca for example…

  49. Carlito11 says:

    Hiya Peaches, glad I didn’t run into any tinies today! Poor you 😦

  50. shrek2be says:

    Also Wellington Silva seems to be a great find as mper technique and skill go, but news come up of his attitude issues at Levante. I just hope we didn’t get one those Brazilians who screw up right at the start of their careers. Yes I agree with you Carlito11 ,that Nasri has the ability to dribble past players and make things happen ,the reason I added him in my post above was that we have no youth players with that capability. Nasri is a player who has this ability having learn it overseas. I do not know how/whether dribbling skills are taught at our academy. Nasri is a way better dribbler than Fabregas .God only knows why in the absence of Fabregas , he is not allowed to play the CAM’s role. I dunno why Wenger wants to keep him the Pires role. We have far too many CM’s and CAM’s instead of proper wingers .

  51. Big Raddy says:

    Shrek. These are youth players, AW promotes them earlier than would be the case at other teams.

    For example. Darren Gibson who is breaking into the MU side is older than most of the AFC first team! Nasri, Cesc, JW, Theo, Nik, Denilson, Song Kos Ches are all younger than him!!
    The players you mention (Ryo, Jet Wellington, are babies!!

    We have enough players who can dribble what we need is a player who is more direct like Theo (IMO)

  52. Gooner In Exile says:

    Ok time for positivity!!

    This run of results isn’t as bad as 2007!!!
    20/2/07 CL First Knockout (1st Leg) v PSV 0-1
    25/2/07 CC Final v Chelsea 1-2
    28/2/07 FA Cup 5th Rnd replay v Blackburn 0-1
    3/3/07 PL v Reading 2-1
    07/3/07 CL First Knockout (2nd leg) v PSV 1-1 (1-2 agg)

    This season:
    27/2/11 CC Final v Birmingham 1-2
    02/3/11 FA Cup R5 replay v Leyton Orient 5-0
    05/3/11 PL v Sunderland 0-0
    08/3/11 CL First Knockout (2nd leg) 1-3 (agg 3-4)
    14/3/11 FA Cup R6 v Man Utd 0-2

    See it took a lot stronger team to knock us out of the FA Cup and CL this year, and by the end of those two weeks in 2007 we were 20 points behind ManUre in the PL.

    That 2007 team consisted of the following:

    So is this current squad better than that squad? I certainly wouldn’t have expected that squad to have been gubbed by Blackburn and PSV given how fondly some of those players are remembered. 😉

  53. shrek2be says:

    Big Raddy, Walcott is an asset to have against the weaker teams at home and as a supersub , but as I said earlier , Walcott can run with the ball and his off the ball movement has improved a lot but he can he directly outdribble past 1-2 players with skill and verve and calmly slot a goal? If Walcott gets stuck in a position near the corner flag ,can he outdribble any one? I don’t think he can. Arshavin has that ability but having lost that yard of pace , even he is stuck drawing lungfuls of air each time he attempts to burst into the box. Look at Giggs’s dribbling, we need more players with that ability.

  54. Gooner In Exile says:

    Shrek I think that is one part of Theo’s game that has come on in leaps and bounds this year, there have been a few occasions where his neat footwork has led to openings. We have missed him massively since the Stoke game, he gives the opposition another dimension to think about, which sadly neither AA seems to be able to or TR can do anymore.

    Like others have said here today IF we had fluked the late goal in Barca and if EVS was perhaps an inch smaller we would be sitting here celebrating a fantastic week and well over the CC Final blunder. As it is we sit confused by the continued lack of progression, we all know the players are capable, unfortunately it seems some of them don’t know it themselves.

    There is a lot that I have seen this season that makes me confident for the future, and still have feint hope of the PL this term, perhaps Wenger should come out and write us out of the Title race, relieve some of the pressure on the players and perhaps lull oppositions into a false sense of security.

    We have been hit with some massive injury blows once again at the same time of the season, but this time one is of our own doing and it is the most important, Cesc Fabregas, if he didn’t start against Barca, he probably plays yesterday, and for the rest of the run in. I simply don’t believe the hamstring got worse after fifteen minutes into the game, how much of a fitness test did he get if his injury could not last 15 minutes? Or how much did he kid medical staff and manager?

    I do agree we should recall Bartley immediately and also Lansbury if Theo is not due back anytime soon.

  55. Big Raddy says:

    That’s not Theo’s game. As you rightly say, he cannot dribble past players at the corner flag like Nasri, but equally Nasri cannot kick the ball 20 yards in front of him and beat 2 players for pace. We need both skills, and my hope is that we will sign a left side speedster.

    Tere are very few Giggs, as there are players with pace and dribbling ability. Not so long ago we had the best in the World – we were blessed to have Thierry at the peak of his career.

  56. Harry says:

    Carlito: I am always silly like that…….

    Your right Wenger needs to think outside the box, do something different….Fergie always doing this….

    Hey ho, just seen Blackburn beat arsenal 3-1 at highbury on Prem years, just turned it on, remember how we all felt that day 12 points off the pace……….And we went onto win the league as we all know……None of us probably belived we could…….

  57. Big Raddy says:

    Seen the FAC draw?

    The FA are desperate to get some romance into the Cup so they “arrange” the draw.

  58. Big Raddy says:

    Dzeko Jo and Balotelli on MC bench! Almost €75m of players

  59. Gooner In Exile says:

    I don’t think Stoke have a chance against Man Utd or Man City but they would have a punchers chance, and how i would hate to see that twat Pulis lifting the FA Cup.

  60. Carlito11 says:

    Amazing how they mAnage to pick the warm balls eh BR?

  61. Big Raddy says:

    What really worries me for the remainder of the season is the loss of JD and Chesney. Not just because they are our best in their positions but also because of their height.

    We have to play Stoke with their longball crap, L’pool with Andy Carrol, and Spurs with the beanppole Crouch.

    Worry, worry, worry ….

  62. London says:

    Writing that match report was somewhere akin to getting past United’s two banks of five but unlike our team you managed it with aplomb. Superb read Carlito and imho the player ratings were faultless.

  63. Carlito11 says:

    Thanks London 🙂
    Does anyone think that, given the draw we might be best off out of it? Man City at Wembley will be very draining for United and they’ll have to play a strong side there so as not to lose to their neighbours… Our boys just need to do their bit because ManUre will still drop more…

  64. London says:


    We are going to have to run with that one although just how true it is……..hmmmm not sure.

  65. I still feel soooooo unhappy but I’ll grab that straw Carlito, we obviously felt too at home at Cardiff and our Wembley time has not yet arrived 😦

  66. chas says:

    Cmon Bolton.

    Definitely had some good times in Cardiff. 🙂

  67. London says:

    I can’t believe how I used to take going to Cardiff, what seemed like every year, for granted…..

  68. London says:

    I thought we would be top dogs forever, who saw the arrival of the Russian’s billions coming and the effect it would have on us? The only silver linning to that cloud is that it is rumoured that his first choice was spuds……we really dodged a bullet there.

  69. barumgooner says:

    I have been a gooner since I was 7. 1979 FA cup final day and I will be a gooner til I die. No more doom and gloom boys and girls. Win lose or draw we cheer on the Arsenal.

  70. SharkeySure says:

    Calito. I’m just gonna re-post what London already wrote, and pretend that they’re my own thoughts.

    Writing that match report was somewhere akin to getting past United’s two banks of five but unlike our team you managed it with aplomb. Superb read Carlito and imho the player ratings were faultless.


  71. goonermichael says:

    Stoke or Bolton are in Europe next season and the sixth place won’t be. I hope the spuds are sixth

  72. Harry says:

    Yeah London very true, that bullet would have been straight through the heart…..

    Gooner michael; lets hope, those crumbs of comfort are needed right now…

    Still proud to be a gooner……..

  73. goonermichael says:

    Me too Harry

  74. mickydidit89 says:

    Morning all,
    I can see clearly now. No fixture pile up. One game per week. 10 to go. We still have fit RvP, Cesc and Nasri with Song on the brink. No reason we cannot win the league. Utd have a monstrous schedule.
    Lets go.

  75. kelsey says:

    Having had time to reflect on the past 2 weeks,we are all saddened or frustrated and even disappointed at the results,and reading through various posts on this and many other sites the reaction varies from sacking Wenger and clearing out the majority of the team, to accepting that we are still in a strong position to win the league and many other teams would be envious that despite crippling long term injuries to key players,all in all we haven’t had a bad season so far.let me remind you that apart from one season when Blackburn bought the league the PL has been dominated by only 3 teams and 58 teams have had the privilege to compete in this best league in the world.A decision was made to move to a state of the art stadium but unfortunately that coincided with the break up of the invincibles.Project youth was implemented,and in hind sight one of the few mistakes Wenger made was regarding the over 30 policy were I believe a number of players should have been kept for at least a couple of seasons to help bed in the youngsters, as was the case with Cesc when he first came into the side.

    As far as I am aware none of us know who much is available in finance in any given season and furthermore none of us know if Wenger has carte blanche on buying of players or if he is working under instructions.

    Having lost on Saturday one didn’t really expect him to say our season is over and that there is no motivation or desire to win from the players still available, did we ? I think he is mentally shattered and we really haven’t had the rub of the green in important games and he has a tremendous job from now until the rest of the season to get that motivation back into the players, find a leadership on the field and above all consistency to be regained.
    Whatever the outcome of this season he has to wield the axe and bring in new blood and I think he will do it.
    As fans we can all play championship manager as to who is good enough and who isn’t,but he sees these players on a day to day basis and he above all should know their strengths and weaknesses.
    Why this isn’t always translated on the pitch is a real conundrum,and now with the loss of Djourou to add to our woes he most probably has the most difficult time in these last 5 years as to try and regain the momentum.

  76. Gooner in Exile says:

    Well said Kelsey.

    The last fortnight has been hard to take for all of us.

    Anyone who asks for Wengers head needs to point me to a manager who has done as good a job with equivalent finances. There aren’t many.

    Raddy made an excellent point about the age of our regulars compared to the emerging youth talent at ManU.

  77. Big Raddy says:

    Kelsey. Fine comment and much to think about.

    I agree that AW has a difficult job ahead of him. None of his young players have been in this situation and AW’s personality is going to be pivotal in our run in.

    Can he inspire his team after the losses? Can he comfort them after the games in which we have dropped points? Let us not forget that with so few games, we have no mid-weeks to bolster the spirit.

    We shall see

  78. Big Raddy says:

    Anyone asking for AW’s head mid-season is IMO elevenpence to the shilling.

    Will these miscreants say the same should we win the title?

  79. Gooner in Exile says:

    7 steps to dealing with defeat by Untold Arsenal

    Very useful, and I’m sure I’ve gone through the seven steps quite a bit since Tuesday

  80. mickydidit89 says:

    Hi Kelsey,
    I agree with much of what you say, although I cannot help feeling that “he has to wield the axe” is a little severe. I believe, as I have done for two season’s, that all we need is two winners and leaders with a history of invincibility on the injury front. Now to balance the books (if we need to) then that may require losing three or four squad players.
    Anyway, off for me, and my mantra for now is TEN TO GO!

  81. Evonne says:

    Morning all, before Rasp or Peaches announce the ‘New post…’ I would like to bring your attention to the fact that media are speculating about Guardiola leaving Barca for Arsenal. How about that??? I am a very loyal pro AW, BUT…. Pep is an extremely exciting proposition

  82. Gooner in Exile says:

    Evonne it has always been discussed previously, Barca rarely keep managers for more than 3-4 years in recent history, but normally that’s a result of waning fortunes on the pitch.

    If Pep did come I don’t think I would be disappointed, but I would hope it wouldn’t happen for at least 2-3 years. Im sure AW has built and developed a fine set of players and I would love to see him end his time with us on a high and with the fans begging him to stay.

  83. goonermichael says:

    I don’t think Guardiola has proved much personally. If graham taylor had those players he’s win most things. It helps when you have the best player in the world in your team.

  84. Evonne says:

    GIE – yes, I did see those speculations before, but now Pep has only extended his contract by 1 year; it might be because of his health (back problems), but who knows.
    I would love for Arsene’s dreams to come true, we owe him the world. However, after Saturday defeat I am devastated and becoming to have doubts.
    One of you guys said yesterday, quoting Bob Wilson that Arsenal are a great side. I don’t think so anymore. I think we are a very good side, but great teams win even if they are not playing their best; we lose although we play fantastic.
    Someone else said yesterday that Djourou injury can cost us the title. Now, stupidly lost points at games we should have won will cost us the title. How many times the players came alive in the dying minuted of the game?
    I am bitter, dissappointed, doubtful we will win the league 😦

  85. chas says:

    Fat Sam Allardyce would win the quadruple every year if he had those players.

  86. London says:


    You beat me to it, Evonne if you inherited Messi, Iniesta and Xavi and that is to mention just three you would probably win a two horse league but winning the EPL with three other teams that can out spend and out bid you for players at every turn is another story indeed….all this, will he, won’t he, re-sign for Barcelona is the kind of play acting we used to have to put up with with Arsene, I am glad that is at least one irritation we no longer have to suffer.

  87. London says:

    Damn it, Chas makes the point so much better with far fewer words lol

  88. Evonne says:

    Ok, players that you mentined are excellent players, but there are dozens of players that failed to reach their potential because of poor management and vice versa – some average players excelled under a good manager – look at TH14 under Arsene Wenger.

  89. Morning all

    There’s a New Post

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