Will Wenger Make Fools Of Us Again?

After our loss at Manchester United, I found myself harbouring murderous thoughts towards Abou Diaby.

He was our worst player by quite a stretch (despite stiff competition from Gibbs and, later, Rosicky).

Every time the ball went to him he either killed the momentum of an Arsenal attack or lost the ball. When most Arsenal players are capable of playing and thinking (plinking?) in the same instant, Abou seems to work like this…

The thoughts of Abou:

Here comes the ball!”

“I will stop it and bring it under control.”

“I have it under control! (or not).”

“Just checking I have it under control.”

“Good! I do.”

“Now, what will I do with it?”

“Better have a look round to see where my teammates are.”

“There they are – they have run forward but have now stopped.”

“Why do they all look so cross?”

In other words, Abou is just not fast enough in thought or deed to fit into Arsenal’s rapid pass-and-move style. While the others are plinking, Abou is plonking.

However, I can’t maintain murderous feelings for long and pretty soon I fell to wondering whether I was just scapegoating Abou for a disappointing defeat.

To make someone a scapegoat is to blame them for something that was the fault of others. Was I doing this to our lanky Gaul? Should I instead be blaming the defenders who failed to stop United scoring? Or our attackers for not converting any of their many chances? Or Arsene Wenger for being tactically outwitted by the gout-faced Glaswegian?

Well, actually, no. I wasn’t laying all the fault for our loss at Abou’s size 12s. My criticisms of him were based entirely on how he played and would have been the same even if we had won the game. I wasn’t unfairly blaming him for the faults of others. I was blaming him for his own faults. So, not a scapegoat then. We need a new term. How about a scapedonkey?

That’s it! I have decided to make Abou the scapedonkey for our FA Cup humbling.

But here’s the rub.

We Arsenal fans have had scapedonkeys before.

Alex Song was booed off the pitch as a 17-year-old in an away game at Fulham; Fabianski was derided as the worst keeper ever to have played for a Premiership side; Eboue was booed mercilessly at The Grove; Vermaelen was written off before he ever played a game for us for being too small; Walcott, the sages confidently told us, would never be a must-have player; earlier this season Djourou was being talked about as a fourth-choice-if-we’re-desperate CB.

I am happy to accept that Arsene Wenger knows more about football than me, and more than every single Arsenal blogger or online commenter.

He is also not stupid and he also desperately wants success.

So if he believes that Abou Diaby can make it as a top player for Arsenal then, on reflection, I am inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. Ditto the other current scapedonkeys, like Denilson, Gibbs, Bendtner, Arshavin, Squillaci and Rosicky. If the boss feels they can contribute to our success, I will yield to his better judgement.

They may not have covered themselves in glory in some recent games, but we have been here before with players who have gone on to become vital parts of our first team. We have to believe in their potential to improve precisely because AW believes in it.

For all those who have been so adamant that Arsenal “must” get rid of players like Abou and Denilson I hope that Arsene makes fools of you again, as he did with Song, Vermaelen, Walcott, Fabianski and others.

I hope that we lift the title come May on the back of a rip-roaring run that has seen vital contributions from our thoroughbred scapedonkeys.


101 Responses to Will Wenger Make Fools Of Us Again?

  1. Morning all

    Thank you Rocky for making me really laugh this morning.

    ‘Plinking’ – great new footballing term that definitely cannot be applied to Diaby. We’ve all guessed that Diaby must be amazing in training which is why AW keeps picking him but he just can’t step up in a game. Sad really …….

  2. Mike says:

    Um Gibbs actually had a solid game apart from his one laps in concentration

  3. Carlito11 says:

    There’s some Rocky gold in them there words! I love “plinking vs plonking”- quality 😀
    Didn’t Mr Arsenal, Tony Adams get a lot of stick from the fans for not being good enough at the start too?
    I do have to disagree on a couple of points though- Denilson, and Diaby, whilst technically gifted, are still at the developmental stage of “will they make it?” To push on they need confidence and the right attitude. Both Diaby and Denilson have shown that they perhaps don’t possess the right mentality for the Premier league in interviews and on the pitch. However, I would remain happy for them to play the understudy for our main trio as long as they never play together in the midfield!!

  4. Rasp says:

    Hilarious post Rocky, and unfortunately too close to the truth.

    Mike, I think that is a matter of opinion. Gibbs is still learning his trade and it showed. I have no idea why Clichy didn’t play since we were apparently goiing to field our strongest side.

    The inescapable conclusion about Diaby is that although he can be a brilliant instinctive footballer and clearly has wonderful skills, his problems lie from the snood upwards.

  5. chas says:

    Haha, Rocky, I agreed with both sides of your split personality as regards Diaby. 🙂

    As for the ‘plonking’ line, it made me think of Only Fools and Horses. Abou would make a good Rodney, don’t you think?

  6. Red Arse says:

    Hi Rocky, 🙂

    I love your splinching Posts they always make me grin. ‘Plinking’ and ‘plonking’ indeed! 🙂

    That made me come up with my own adjective’splinching’ which I have decided means ‘amusingly descriptive, word associating footie narrative’.

    That new word is just for you Rocky, and I trust the OED will include it under ‘Rockyisms’ in their next dictionary release!! 🙂

  7. Carlito11 says:

    Mike- you should watch it again, as I was forced to in order to write yesterday’s report. I like the lad- but Gibbs had a shocker, being turned inside out by first Raphael and then Valencia- it was really uncomfortable viewing…

  8. For a while last season I felt that Clichy and Gibbs were pretty much interchangable and maybe Arsene did too, this season though we’ve seen Clichy back to his best and Gibbs hasn’t really played enough games so he hasn’t had the chance to improve.

  9. Red Arse says:


    I am as guilty as anyone in being a little contrary in my opinions of individual players’, especially Abou when he is displaying the fey side of his personality.

    Reading reports on various blogs and skimming through the write ups in sundry newspapers etc, I think it is indisputable that there are a hundred different opinions for every single player.

    Ergo, hundreds of them must be wrong, though it is doubtful any one of the guys concerned would change their expressed view.

    You are right; we should all leave the decision on a player’s worth to the team to Arsene, he is pretty good at it! 🙂

  10. Wonderman says:

    Rocky you had better copyright ‘plinking’ mate I hear the tills rolling lol

    Great balanced post, but I would argue

    a) in Song’s case he was a 17 YEAR OLD !!! learning his trade and as we can see his development is going very nicely
    b) In Eboues case not only had he been injured, it was in the season where he had been moved from right back to right midfield which is a completely different set of pictures on the pitch and decisions to make. Unfortunately real football is not like FiFa 11

    I thought Denilson had an OK game on saturday, however his glaring limitations in my opinion are 1) he doesnt track runners very well, 2) forward passes are not his forte

    Diaby for me has a more rudimentary problem….your depiction of his thought process is hilarious but sadly spot on. One of the principles of attacking play is

    ‘As appropriate, progress the play early, quickly and efficiently through all areas of the field in order to enter the attacking third and reach goal scoring positions’

    Diaby is the opposite to all of the above.

  11. chas says:

    Rasp, ‘from the snood upwards’. 🙂

  12. Carlito11 says:

    Peaches, I agree with that- Clichy has stepped back up to his best whereas Gibbs, mainly through lack of action, looks shakey on the defensive side of his game. Still looks good going forward though so why not play him in front of Clichy (can’t remember who suggested it first, Harry or MDi89)?

  13. Gooner in Exile says:

    Great post Rocky although I think there is one thought that you have omitted:

    “is there a tackle coming to end my career”

    That would be inserted about three times in the pattern.

    As regards everything else I would have to agree.

    Win lose or draw I am not going to let the negativity manifest for the rest of the season.

    4 home games and 6 away to go. I don’t hold much hope of being able to add my vocal support for the rest of the season, perhaps Stoke and Bolton away.

  14. Red Arse says:

    Hi Peaches, 🙂

    You have hit the nail on the head regarding Gibbs.

    He simply has not had enough games to get back up to speed, and although I agree with Carlito, he did have a poor game on saturday, it would be wrong to judge him until he has a few more games under his belt.

    There is another consideration following on from your Gibbs comment.

    There is the inescapable fact that injuries, this season yet again, have severely disrupted the continuity of our team. Gibbs is not the only player to suffer from being in for a game or two, and then out again because of rotation or injury.

    Hopefully, one of our resident statisticians can tell us whether the number of players we have used this season, to date, is more or less than the numbers used by our competitors, or how many of our players are in for a sort sequence of games, before having an extended period out, before they play again.

    Stato we need you!! 🙂

  15. Red Arse says:

    ‘sort’ should be ‘short’ stato! 🙂

  16. Morning GiE

    If it is the case that each of Diaby’s thought processes is intercepted with

    “is there a tackle coming to end my career”

    then, whilst understandable, he should move out of the Premiership because he’ll never rid himself of those fears.

  17. RockyLives says:

    Thanks for the comments.

    I don’t remember Adams being given a lot of stick by Gooners (although in his early England appearances he took some stick from the sports reporters) but I do seem to remember a time when Keown was the brunt of a lot of supporter ire.

    “splinching” 🙂

    I, too, have to congratulate you on this line: “his problems lie from the snood upwards.” Brilliant.

    You’ve set me off now. Abou could definitely be Rodney “you plonker” Trotter (although you could make a decent claim for Trigger, too). Does that mean Cesc is Del Boy and AW is Uncle Albert?

    Mike, Peaches
    Gibbs has been pretty poor defensively this season. He certainly needs a run of games, but I also always wonder how good our defensive coaching is. Let’s get him to have a few sessions with Nutty.

    You’re right, of course, but then you think of those occasional games where Diaby has been unplayable. If AW can get that out of him 70% of the time he could be a massive player for us. Also, I think his fear of injury may make him pull out of full-on 50-50s, but I don’t think it fully explains the slowness of his plinking on Saturday.

  18. Fatgingergooner says:

    I think it’s a little unfair to lump all blame on the lump that is Diaby. I thought Arshavin was equally as poor in distribution at the weekend, but because he gives the ball away a bit quicker it seems to go unnoticed!

    The problem with this side to one that won trophies is the speed in which we play. I remember when we used to go from one end to the other in 5 touches in 15 seconds, now, every player has 5 touches and keeps the ball for 15 seconds. I’m not sure who is to blame for this change, is it Wengers tactics, is it the players trying to score perfect goals, or is it just that teams are happy to let us have the ball and plug the centre of the park? I reckon it’s probably a mixture of all 3.

    One thing is for sure though, Diaby is not the only player who slows our game down, Denilson, Rosicky, Bendtner and even Arshavin are also guilty of ruining the tempo of our play at times.

  19. kharadonha says:

    I said it bf dat AW is not under pressure to win trophies at Arsenal including fans are also not under pressure to win battles as they’ll say we still buidling for the future. what Arsene has done for Arsenal ever since the departure of great lads like Petit, Viera, Henry, Adams is taking us down slowly but surely.

    Change the French team Wenger or else leave Arsenal as you don’t want to see them fight against the best in the world. Someone please call Dennis Bergkamp to come and take over from Arsene.

  20. Carlito11 says:

    Rocky/ Chas- does that make Bendtner the Boycey of the squad?

  21. RockyLives says:

    “but because he gives the ball away a bit quicker it seems to go unnoticed!” 🙂

    You make a very good point about our overall speed of play. I think it’s down to AW deciding some years ago to build the team around Cesc. And deciding that Cesc would be at his best in a team playing Barca-style possession football. At our best, we are like Barcelona. But we don’t have a Messi and all too often we’re not at our best (probably because that style of play requires so many players to be really on their game at the same time).

  22. RockyLives says:

    Very perceptive comment from Manu Petit:
    “There are (Arsenal) players we’ve known for a while who are playing against their nature. I’m thinking of lads like Abou Diaby, whose physical impact is a bit less. There are players who try to play in the image of Cesc Fabregas when they don’t have the same qualities.”

    That really rings true to me: we have players trying to be Cesc (or Xavi or Iniesta) when they’re just not up to it technically. That’s why our attempt to play Barca style is so less consistent than Barca’s.

  23. bishans says:

    well, atleast u guys got almost everytin ryt about diaby but i think he shld improve his decision making in d final third.kanu was a slow footballer but no one can question his decision making , his skills and technique covers for his slow nature.also we shouldn’t forget that kanu is not good in making sloppy passes while diaby et al would be highly ranked in sloppy passers chart.

  24. Edmond Dantes says:

    I will reserve my judgement till the end of the season. No trophy = failure. Plain and simple.

    I hope the team will just get on with it (and not feel sorry for themselves – this has something to do with Arsene telling them how great they are – but to be fair – what else can he say?) and push utd till the end.

    Oh and if Cesc wants to go to Barca, then please Wenger let him go.

  25. Mrs Song says:

    Hi all, just as disappointed as most since the nou camp…how long do you think this will last

  26. fatgingergooner says:


    “But we don’t have a Messi and all too often we’re not at our best (probably because that style of play requires so many players to be really on their game at the same time)”

    i think we need to remember that we have once again been demolished by injuries this season, as we have in the last few seasons. We can get away with carrying 1 or 2 fringe players in the side but when we come up against teams like Barca and Man U with injuries and 80% fit players we are always going to struggle.

  27. Edmond Dantes says:

    Same old story every season. Months of hard work undone in a few weeks.

    People said its only the Carling Cup – but I was devastated after that loss because I knew that this was likely to happen. I hoped it wouldnt, but it did.

    Anyway I hope we can do the business in the premier league then it will be happiness all around.


    Come off it! Rodney must be a better plonker than Diaby. At least Rodus could pull in Cassandra.Now to our current predicament. Arsenal as a team, has a lot of peripheral players who are just not good enough.Hence we loose ground when ever we get our key players injured. The likes of Diaby, Rosicky, Denilson, Vela, Bendtner, and Arshavin, must be shipped out of the team this summer. They cannot track back and they leave our back four all too vulnerable. They are what i describe as extremely lazy individuals, who are only happy to be milking our great team for a life style that they do not deserve. I really feel sorry for the fans in london, who pay week in week out to watch the kind of crap that these players serve them. At least i watch my Arsenal games on pay per view satellite channel in Ghana, so i guess my frustrations are a bit controlled , compared to those Gunners who watch this horror show week in and week out. Where is the passion that used to characterize the great Arsenal teams of old. The Brady’s, O’leary’s, and Adams.God help us if we will have to depend on these players who at best can be described as pirates.

  29. London says:

    It’s funny how the Adams name always comes up around this time but what most people forget is that we were embarrassed by Benfica and their speedy attacking interplay with Adams and Bould in central defence to a far larger degree than anything that happened last Tuesday. Adams and Bold were made for the EPL and the tough predominately aerial threat that comes with it (less so now) had they played against Barcelona last week the outcome would have almost certainly been total humiliation.

    “While the others were plinking Abou was plonking”…………..this will never be surpassed.

    As for calls for the return of Bergkamp as manager, all I can muster is absolute lunacy, if Bergkamp was manager he wouldn’t have been able to attend the game against Barcelona because of his fear of flying.

  30. Big Raddy says:

    RL. Another very funny post! “Gout faced Glaswegian” had me laughing out loud .

    I cannot understand the defence of Gibbs – when he comes into the team he has to be ready, the fact he hasn’t played a run of games just doesn’t wash. Any player coming into the team has to step up or ship out.

    I like Gibbs and expect him to have a fine future at Arsenal, but he needs to look at his awful performance and learn from it.

    Arshavin? Well, it is too late for him to learn. He has the experience t carry us to the title and I want to see him use it.

    My guess is that anyone who watched the Arsenal teams with Selley, Morrow, Jensen, Carter and Hiller will know that the current Arsenal team are fantastic, despite losing 3 very important games in 2 weeks.

  31. Wonderman says:

    @ London 12:35
    ‘what most people forget is that we were embarrassed by Benfica and their speedy attacking interplay with Adams and Bould in central defence to a far larger degree than anything that happened last Tuesday. ‘

    Spot on mate not to mention the 4-2 beating we took at Wembley again with Bouldy, Adams, Winterburn and Dixon in attendance

    As for calling for Bergkamp to be manager …absolute lunacy

  32. London says:

    Hi Wonderman

    On reflection, absolute lunacy is a more appropriate term. I think a quick edit is called for.

  33. Red Arse says:


    I agreed with Peaches that Gibbs had played poorly and was not at Clichy’s level yet. I also agreed that he has not had sufficient games this season, because of injury etc, to have developed his game.

    Alternatively, some bloggers and some newspaper reports have said he played reasonably well, with a couple of lapses. (see my 10:02).

    And that is the crux. It is not “a defence” of Gibbs, it is an opinion based on his performance, which surely is what this blog is about, and advancing a possible explanation for his shortcomings in that match.

    Normally you are very supportive of the team and by definition the team players. In fact, yesterday you said ‘Some of the criticism of this team is starting to really piss me off’.

    I do not understand what has changed because today you say ‘I cannot understand the defence of Gibbs – when he comes into the team he has to be ready, the fact he hasn’t played a run of games just doesn’t wash. Any player coming into the team has to step up or ship out’.

  34. Gooner in Exile says:

    London 12:35 spot on.

    Raddy 12:49 I agree, same for NikB, Cham and others i agree.

  35. Wonderman says:

    Hi London I am astounded by the reaction of some of our fellow fans. I am a firm believer that in football you get what you deserve. The dissapointing thing about the last two weeks is that our plight has been largely self inflicted.
    If we have a decent finish to the season and still dont win the prem it will be beacuse of Spurs and WBA at home
    and Newcastle, Wigan away 10 points thrown away irrespective of which players are up to standard or not

  36. Afternoon all – slowly emerging from my Mugabe media lockdown after our latest spell of poor results.
    Thanks for another chucklesome post Rocky – you pack so much into comparatively few words, you can teach an old woffler like me a thing or two.
    I”ve got my ticket for the Blackburn game now so who knows if I’ll be turning up there to administer the last rites on our season or we’re whether we’ll still be in the title race.
    I’d feel a whole lot better if we had Chesney and Johan around for the run in.

  37. Big Raddy says:

    RA 🙂 If only I were a constant man, sadly, it is not so – I am a contrary beast and have always lacked consistency!

    I guess when my team (tribe) comes under attack, I am ready to man the fort, but once the danger has passed I return to my curmudgeonly ways.

    Chary. I too have been on Mugabe lockdown. Normally, I would listen to all the podcasts and revel in their praise, but I can guess what vitriol is being heaped onto Mr Wenger.

  38. Carlito11 says:

    Lehmann is apparently in talks with the club to sign a short term playing contract according to Sky Sports! I have mixed feelings on this one- yes he did win us our last trophy but I also hold him responsible for painful Champions League defeats against Chelsea and Barcelona. More importantly- is he still up to doing a job in goal?

  39. Hi all

    As we don’t have a game now until Saturday we will be needing some posts to fill the days ( and sadly for the coming weeks too 😦 )

    Feel free to expand on any thoughts you have and email them through to arsenalnuts@live.co.uk

  40. Radders, you can imagine the tabloid swine of the UK press have been feasting upon the corpse of the Arsenal for the last week or so; of course they’re loving it.
    A tough time to be a gooner, and no mistake.
    Am I right in assuming we will not see Johan or the Verminator again this season?
    That means 2 from a choice of Kozzer, The Squid and Miquel, right?

  41. London says:

    The defence won’t know what hit them with the kind of shouting they will get if Lehmann returns lol

  42. Red Arse says:


    I am a bit like that too, as you know! 🙂

    I heard Perry Groves on Talk Sport this morning, with Gray and Thingy and I have to admit they gave him a decent run.

    He is still soooo Arsenal and still has such a love for the club, I could kiss him! Oooer! 🙂 Excellent lad and still optimistic about the run in. Me too.

    He wants Arsene to buy big this summer—dare I use that hackneyed word? Oh alright then; he wants a ‘marquee’ signing. (Sounds a bit like a tent, doesn’t it?)

    London, I would love to see Mad Jens back for cover, and you are spot on; a bit of Feld Marshall yelling will soon put the defence in order. Ve heff warrned yew, Tommy! 🙂

  43. Red Arse says:

    Hi Wonderman, 🙂

    You and London have really said all that needs to be said about the loony fringes.

    Makes you despair really!

  44. Carlito11 says:

    I got in touch with Opta about our win ratio with Diaby and Denilson starting together and got the following reply (on twitter): Arsenal’s win % with Diaby & Denilson starting since June 2008 41%, with only one or neither starting 64%.
    The key problem I can see is that having the two of them in midfield at the same time is a recipe for disaster but either one of them can do a job with 2 of Cesc/ Jack/ Song. Too many injuries at a crucial part of the season again!

  45. Rasp says:

    I agree with RA, getting mad Jens back in the dressing room would be a boost.

    We were down to Clichy as our last Invincible, having the mercurial teutonic fruitloop back will undoubtedly shake the boys up and that can only be a good thing.

  46. Mike says:

    Incredible post Rocky, probably one of the best I’ve read since I started regularly coming to the site (and that was a while ago). I agree 100% with everything you’ve said. Granted, Denilson and Diaby seem to have made very little progress compared to some of the other “scapedonkeys” you mentioned, they were chose by Arsene, so I believe they can help us become better and better. There is a reason why we’re here commenting on a blog and Arsene is getting paid handsomely for being the manager of one of the best football teams in the world.

    I think Diaby is having a tough time returning from injury, but I know last season he was slowly becoming more consistent and showing off the talent we all know he was. Certainly he can’t be to blame for the United game. In fact, more than anyone or anything, I blame our terrible luck. As Arsene said, the opposing keeper always seems to be man of the match against Arsenal. Van Der Sar had another incredible performance against us, and we just can’t finish at the moment. We played well enough to win, but just couldn’t put the ball in the net. I guess that’s the story year after year, but I can’t help but feel like that’s all that’s holding us back from dominating England–luck. United has to be one of the luckiest teams on the planet. But then again, I guess you make your own luck.

    Either way, I wasn’t too disappointed about Saturday’s result to be honest. I knew we were the better team, even without some of our key players. Of course, United was without Nani and Ferdinand, so it was fairly even in terms of first and second teamers for each squad out there. Those two along with Giggs and/or Scholes starting would definitely have made United more dangerous, but with our best 11 I know we’re still a better team. It’s probably all going to come down to the home game against United for the league. At home, we’ll spank them. It’s coming, they’ve been riding their luck all season long. Horribly mediocre play from them yet they went over half of the season unbeaten, so everyone thinks United is some kind of incredible team. They’re not, and until they start picking up some creative players and start trying to play some offense against their rivals, they are going to go downhill. If Arsenal could just be more confident and clinical, United will be cakewalk for years to come. Believe in this team!

  47. Gooner In Exile says:

    Mike I love the optimism, i will take issue with your comment about being offensive against their rivals. They don’t need to be if they get three points.

    They have found a way to beat us and keep doing it year after year, how they must laugh themselves silly in the dressing room post match….”it worked ……. again?!?!”

    Even if they took a draw, they are confident that their style of play can beat most other Premier League sides, unfortunately our style of play is one that is susceptible to counter attack and park the bus belligerence. We will always leave the opposition thinking they have a chance, and unless we get an early goal we will always be up for the taking.

    As with the Chelsea game at Christmas, it comes down to the first goal, we could have lost that if we had gone in at half time 0-0, for a change we nicked the first one, and until we can do that more regularly in the big games neither Man Utd or any of the other contenders will play any differently against us.

  48. Red Arse says:


    Those are my thoughts too.

    Tactics evolve and the style of play a success hungry team plays needs to evolve too.

    We have enthralled the world of football over the years by our stylish, slick, one touch passing.

    Unfortunately, not only Manu but many other teams have found us out by packing their defensive, and encouraging us to play our wonderful football up to the oppo penalty area, where we are then forced to play tippy-tappy football from one side of the pitch to the other.

    Inevitably, this causes us to defend high up the pitch, and all it needs is a bit of miscontrol, a poor pass or a toe poke and the oppo are away.

    Every team in the league now try to field at least one fast winger/midfielder against us with the result that we ship a goal. (Saturday’s game against Utd is the latest example).

    What is the solution? It is relatively simple! (No charge, Arsene). 🙂

    We need at least two swift players ourselves, in midfield and in the forwards. Allow teams to come on to our defence and then break away at pace with our beautiful passing, before the oppo can pack their defence.

    Consider our forward line. Chammy, NikB, RVP, not slow but not fast either. Theo? Yep but he spends two thirds of the season injured. That’s where our problem lies.

    So, a superfast forward, like Thierry used to be and hey presto!!

    Hold on; that means Arsene has known all along both what the problem and the answer is!

    Wonder why he does not buy a superquick forward, or two, and forget all this navel searching about our so called defensive short-comings?

    Any answers? 🙂

  49. Mike says:

    Gooner in Exile, I agree that the first goal is almost more important for us than it is for other teams mentally.

    Going up 1-0,especially against a rival club gets us really going, just like in the Chelsea game you mentioned. At the same time, if we concede first, we seem to drop in intensity, as any team would, but sometimes I get the feeling we focus on that too much rather than getting back into the game as quickly as possible.

    But we’re getting better, as we proved against Barcelona in the first leg. We went down 1-0 and fairly early into the match at that. But we hung in there and put two away for a well-deserved victory. The first that United scored against us didn’t seem to be as deflating the the players as it may have been a couple of seasons ago.

    The team knows it’s almost there. You can see the look of frustration on Nasri’s face when some of the terrific efforts he has had over the past few matches didn’t go in. Soon enough, the flood gates will happen. Again, we’ve been saying that for years now. But this season is ripe for the taking. If we win our game in hand, we’re level on points with United. Let’s hope we start firing again soon. I’m confident we are scoring by the next United game and they get beat 3-0. Heard it here first.

  50. Wonderman says:

    Hi Mike,

    Just to be clear, I dont blame Diaby, Denilson or anyone else for the loss. But what I do know as a coach is that at any level successful teams attack quickly given the opportunity ( to prevent their opponents getting back into balance) and are clinical finishers. We seldom attack quickly and are not clinical. The reason being recently that Denilson prefered option of passing is usually a ‘telegraphed’ square (sideways) pass which he then follows and Diaby will turn his marker inside out 3 times before releasing the ball. Neither of these habits are condusive to catching your opponent out numbered in their defensive third. I agree Diaby is having a tough time but for me releasing the ball early to his team mates have nothing to do with previous injuries

  51. Mike says:

    Red Arse,

    Yes, I agree. I think the perfect type of forward for a team that moves the ball around like we do is one that is very pacey and strong. In my mind, the perfect forward would be Eto’o. He fit perfectly with Barcelona, they would be even better if he was still with them. He has the pace to run onto passes into space and beat defenders. We have a few of the best midfielders in the world at our disposal. With their ability to find that perfect pass, and a forward like Eto’o running on to it.. scary!

    Henry was similar, strong, quick, and could finish. That is what we lack. Van Persie is incredible, but I think that if he played off a pacey forward he’d be even better… even scarier!

    You definitely aren’t wrong in saying we attack slowly and are not clinical more often than not, and that’s usually the difference between us and the other top dogs.

    I know Denilson isn’t adding much by passing it sideways, but if you think about it, the more we have the ball, the less time the opposition has to score. As long as he isn’t giving it away cheaply (which he does), he isn’t causing harm. He is, in my opinion, one of Arsenal’s worst players. But he hasn’t done horribly the last couple of times he has played. More than anything, he needs to work on his concentration. Loses track of what’s going on way too much, which causes many problems.

    I do disagree with you on Diaby. I currently play football at my university, so I’m not a bad player (i hope!), and I know that coming back even from a week or two week break, and my thinking speed on the pitch is awful. I don’t care if I’m playing with scrubs or with Messi, it all just happens a little slower. It takes a couple weeks to get fully sharp on most occasions. Sometimes you just click back into it, but don’t be surprised that Diaby has taken way too long with the ball these last few games, especially because he’s played 2 of these bad games against Barcelona and Manchester United. Not easy teams to get sharp against at all. (I know I don’t think United is very good compared to us, but they are better than most).

  52. Gooner In Exile says:

    Mike you’re not playing against Messi agreed, but you also aren’t training everyday with other top players, okay match speed is different to training speed, but he should be expected to be closer to the pace given thats all he does for a living.

  53. I saw what happened there ……. you all just carried on chatting as if I hadn’t even mentioned that we were going to need some posts 🙄

  54. 26may1989 says:

    Evening chums, I am also emerging from Comrade Mugabe lockdown (thanks Chary for that turn of phrase).

    Ah Diaby. Just how long have we been saying “He’s got talent, he just needs to prove it consistently”? Well, he’s in his EIGHTH season at the club, so even accounting for injuries and for the fact he’s only 24/25, we’ve been waiting a bloody long time. The highlights from his time at Arsenal have been few and far between. I like him but (unlike Denilson (better than given credit for) and Gibbs (will recover his form), I lost faith in Diaby succeeding for us a while ago. I ackowledge Rocky’s very sane points re Song etc but I feel Diaby needs to move on and so do we.

    Not that we lost against United only because of Diaby’s turgid performance. It was all so predictable at one level (United play 4-5-1, hit us on the break, we struggle to break them down etc etc), but with some half-decent finishing, we still could easily have got a result. We opened them up enough times even while playing below our best.

    So, we’ve gone from four cracks at silverware to one within two weeks. But that’s not a disaster, the one is the big one, the one that will (if we focus) announce our return to the top table. Yes, it would’ve been nice to win the league cup etc etc, but the title’s the one that really matters, it always has been, and we can definitely still do it. I remain optimistic. United may have to play 17 games while we play 10, and as we all know, they’re limited in terms of talent. We can do it and I believe we will.

  55. Wonderman says:

    Hi Mike,

    I played football for many years myself and still do sometimes when I am not coaching. I find it interesting that you agree with me that we attack slowly but then go on to say

    ‘…. but if you think about it, the more we have the ball, the less time the opposition has to score’

    do you not agree that whilst they are not scoring they are also being given the time to set themselves up into a compact defensve unit which we often find difficult to break down ??

  56. chas says:

    Perhaps Diaby’s best position is as auxiliary striker. He always seemed more effective when his ability to beat a man put us in dangerous positions. Trouble is we don’t play 4-4-1-1 anymore.

    I often think that when other teams park the bus, we could do with 2 centre forwards to put pressure on their centrebacks.

    I’m still not convinced by our 4-3-3.
    Where would Dennis Bergkamp play in our current formation?

  57. chas says:

    I suppose the obvious answer is….
    Anywhere he f*cking liked!

  58. Evonne says:

    I NEED YOUR HELP GUYS!! I need you to explain to me what’s wrong with the team.
    I keep on reading what a great team we are, the best manager in the world, bla dee dadee da.
    However, we all know that great teams win even when they are not playing their best; and that Arsenal lose when we play wonderfully.
    Could it be that players, or rather some players, don’t care if they lose? I have seen pictures of Bendy going to a nightclub in Barcelona after his spectacular miss. I have seen in Barnet Szczesny laughing his head off a couple of hours after a lost game at the Emirates. I have seen an interview with Fabianski on Polish TV; we lost a game, yet the goalie was all smiles and big talk. Until Wenger walked past and blanked him; after that Lukasz was no longer smiling and finished the interview abraptly.
    Perhaps some of them need a hair dryer treatment?
    I really don’t know, and I need to tell those who are openly calling for Wenger’s head

  59. Here goes:-

    I trust AW to bring players to Arsenal that are skillful and should be adaptable to our system. I believe that all recruits are schooled in Wengerball – a system of pass and move football that doesn’t rely on having centre-forwards but uses similar types of mid-fielders to be creative and to score goals.

    We have four key players that make that system undoubtedly the most entertaining creative football in the Premiership – Theo van Nasregas.

    Theo van Nasregas when supported by Jack and Song is an awesome front 6. But when any one of the parts is missing the team struggles. Thats where we are today and its not AW’s fault that Theo, Cesc and Song are injured.

    How would we keep happy any player that could deputise for any one of them if they were on the bench week in and week out if the others were all fit?

    The root of the problem is that AW started a new dynasty from scratch and so hasn’t had any jewels in the twilight of their playing careers to utilise in the first team.

  60. Evonne says:

    Thanks Peaches, so perhaps the problem is with the physio system. Is Arsenal more crippled by injuries than other teams, not just this season by every year?

  61. Irishgunner says:

    Jens Lehmann back to Arsenal? Somewhere in Birmingham, Alexander Hleb is joyously sending a text reading “THERE’S STILL HOPE!” to his mum.

  62. We need one of the stato’s to dig out the info on injuries.

    One of the accusations that has been levelled at AW is that the players are trained too hard. I hope its not the case this week but often when we’ve gone from 2 games a week to just one, our players look heavy legged instead of fresh 😦 😦 😦

  63. Irish, thats so funny 🙂 🙂 🙂

  64. ……. and Flamini??????????

  65. Irishgunner says:

    Joys of Twitter peaches 😀

  66. SharkeySure says:

    Cracking read Rocky, very clever and a very good point, very well made !!!

    I particularly loved the way the post took us on a lovely meander thru your rhyme and reason until finally the ambiguity in the headline was made crystal clear. Fantastic !!

  67. Oh, I was just gonna ask you if you wanted to write one for us 😛

  68. Irishgunner says:


    What will I write it on?? Mad Jens?

  69. I was going to ask you if you fancied writing a post on Mad Jens but you’ve already done one ……. 🙄

  70. Irishgunner says:

    I don’t think I’ve enough to write one on Jens…. Dunno what to write it on.

  71. SharkeySure says:

    Opps my manners, evening all.

    Quick pint on the possession vs counter attack.

    I think we went thru a spell of decimating teams on the counter attack, not just because we had quick players, but also because teams back then still tried to ‘play’ us. I remember one manger once joking about ‘declining’ a corner kick against Arsenal , as it was too dangerous to commit men forward.

    Since those times, even Fergie has decided that containment is his only option, and pays us the respect of playing 4-5-1 both home and way. Sat’s 4-4-2 from the colourful Caledonian was the first in a very long time.

    Chelsea and every other PL tream also know they’ll lose an open game against us, so they just won;t play one.

    Interestingly, earlier this season, we went to the Old Toilet and actually played a little conservatively, keeping our shape and not committing too many men forward. Keeping our shape meant we rarely saw their 4 on 3 speedy counter attacks that they execute so well.

    Having said all of that re shape and tactics, I do believe a greater hunger and desire would still make a massive difference to our results. Our stand ins rarely seem to play as though they are being given a real chance to make a claim for a permanent shirt. They play like understudies to a ‘big name’ lead in a West End play.

  72. Irishgunner says:

    I’m sure someone here will write one on Mad Jens, someone with a better memory than me 😆

    He must have done some mad things off the ball did he? Things not caught on camera?

  73. SharkeySure says:

    Quick pint…lol

    Even as a quick ‘point’ on a post that long its a Lol

  74. SharkeySure says:

    26M. Agreed. We now have the best chance in years to go on and win the PL.

    We must all cheer on Man U on Tues/Weds, as it will only mean more games for them. I don’t even care if they win the CL.

    Oh how I wish Song was fit for WBA.

  75. London says:

    Wenger is trapped with Diaby: he is not good enough to play and is worth too much to ignore.

  76. SharkeySure says:

    Chas…yellow card!?

    Thats just too funny.

    Mad Jens. Legend.

  77. dandan says:

    LJ tweeted this today…..jack_wilshere Mr Song looking sharp at training today….. http://yfrog.com/gydesds
    Sharkey Have faith my friend.

  78. SharkeySure says:

    I’ve always got faith DanDan.

    Oh and your link didn’t work for me. Can you repost it.

    And credit to you for using twitter whilst in your late 50’s ;-). Its mostly a complete mystery to me, and I’m barely into my 40’s.

  79. 26may1989 says:

    Am loving the thought of Mad Crazy Bonkers Loony Tunes Jens rejoining us. Obviously I hope his matchday involvement is limited to the warm-ups, but it wuold be great.

    Just how topsy turvey will it all have become though: at his peak, the order of keepers was Lehmann, Almunia and Fabianski, with some kid called Szczesny joining the summer Jens left. If Lehmann rejoins that order would (arguably) be reversed.

  80. SharkeySure says:

    Cut and paste from a mail I just wrote:.

    I still believe that we are title favourites, but as others have said, we might just need to trample over the sick and steal sweets from little children to do it (slightly paraphrased??!!). Do we have that one eyed, cold hearted, merciless streak to go on and do it….?? I think the answer is yes, but I can’t be certain. Having Mad Jens back around the camp can only help. He really knows all about winning.

  81. SharkeySure says:

    Even just having Mad Jens in the squad, on the benxch would be a great plus. I can imagine him going to warm up and giving linesmen and refs an earful.

    First keeper ever to get 5 or 6 yellows without any pitch time..??

  82. 26may1989 says:

    Jens would be a boon for showing the young players in the squad what bottle is all about. I just hope all that bullshit he had about Almunia won’t cause our fragile Spaniard’s confidence to collapse.

  83. Gooner in Exile says:

    Evonne I have to take issue regarding players not caring.

    I’ve had bad days in the office and been seen laughing with my wife two hours later.

    I’ve also been to funerals that are genuinely joyous occasions.

    So to ask why a player is seen laughing two hours after a defeat is to ask them to be totally consumed by themselves and their job. In all fairness it is probably too much to ask, they have to have a release.

    Sharkey 8:07pm spot on fella.

    I have said it before, I would like to see us offer a second option, full backs crossing from deeper, thus making the opposition at least consider having to pressure them earlier rather than currently being able to retreat to the 18 yard box and form two banks of four. To do this we have to utilise either NikB or Cham and they need to be prepared to attack every aerial ball and the midfield need to support them. I’m not saying this will bring more goals but the fact that it is a threat means we should also get space to play the passing game.

    Peaches 5:53 you have one from me already I’ll try and put some other thoughts on virtual paper when something moves me.

  84. Gooner in Exile says:

    26 I’d love to agree re Jens, but can we say it worked with Sol last year?

    We and the club need to keep moving forward ghosts of trophies past might not be good for the team.

  85. 26may1989 says:

    Exile, I think Jens is different to Sol. In his day, Sol was a top defender, and he fitted into the Invincibles side beautifully, but I never really felt he was the sort of guy who could influence the attitude of those around him, including when he came back for his post-Notts County stint. At this point in our season, I just think Jens could have a positive impact on others.

    Or I’m completely wrong and have no idea what I’m talking about. Definitely a possibility that one.

  86. Gooner in Exile says:

    I’d like to think you’re right 26, but if I really wanted to have people around I wouldn’t go for the Invincibles team, simply because they achieved what they achieved whilst some of our current squad were around the club.

    I also don’t see Jens as a father figure to help the youngsters, far too emotionally prone to lose it. He always used to annoy me truth be told with his histrionics, just wish he concentrated on keeping goal a bit more.

    Interesting that recently Joe Hart said whilst Schmeichel and Seaman were his heroes he strives to copy Seamans calm confidence and the way he made everything look so easy and comfortable. That’s also what I see in Szczezney

  87. Big Raddy says:

    It seems I am a lone voice in being troubled by the potential arrival of Jens.

    We are allowed a loanee because should Almunia get injured we have only Shea as back-up, but at least Shea is fit and playing football on a daily basis.
    Jens hasn’t played in a year.

    We off-loaded him because AW felt his time was over, so why trust him now?

    Like GIE, I do not see him as a father figure, and his open dislike of Almunia will cause friction.

    Surely we can come up with better.

  88. Big Raddy says:

    GIE 9.58. Good idea.

    And when we had TH14 , he would drift wide , pulling confusing the CB’s and occupying a FB. HOw many goals did he score cutting inside?

    Chamakh can do the same.

  89. Gooner in Exile says:

    Raddy I suggested on Twitter last night that Lehman is a smokescreen, we are in fact getting Buffon 😀

    I’ve heard Chris Kirkland mentioned and also Roy Carroll, neither have been playing tho.

    Sod it let’s get John Lukic back

  90. Gooner in Exile says:

    Apparently Blackburn are considering a £15million bid for NikB in the summer, I can see us taking that if there is any truth in it. But I’d prefer to see him go abroad, he is the type (like Bentley) to feel he has been wronged by a decision to let him go that he will be a thorn in our side in the future and will seek to punish the Arsenal fans that have been critical of him.

  91. Morning all

    I also feel that the past relationship between Jens and Almunia is going to make things uncomfortable in the dressing-room.

  92. London says:

    We have had our emotions battered from pillar to post in the last two weeks the arrival of Jens is so ridiculous the whole thing is becoming funny.

  93. kelsey says:

    Morning all.

    I have mixed reservations about Lehmann. my lasting memory of him was the stupid penalty he gave away at Spurs in the last minute, and subsequently we drew 2-2 and although it was enough to win the league, it put a dampner on it for me.

    With regards to Bendtner to Blackburn, possible but not probable, as the Venkey’s have no idea how to run a football club and blackburn are my bet to be one of the teams relegated,therefore bendtner would never go to a championship side, as he is to good for that.

    We really are unlucky with keepers this season.

    Fabianski injured his shoulder in the warm up in one of our home games but actually played and then we were told he was out for the season.

    How many keepers would have been ruled out for the season the way Schesney was, a freak accident and though we were under the cosh at Barca from the 16th.minute onwards we effectively only had 2 subs to use.it just may have effected the result.

  94. kelsey says:

    Well that’s it from me, as obviously most of you are night birds 😉

  95. mickydidit89 says:

    They are just plain lazy!

  96. Gooner in Exile says:

    Good points Kelsey especially the Spurs penalty…that in my view typified his instability.

    Regarding NikB you’re right he is better than Championship football, I think he is good enough for us but I fear he will finally fall foul of our boo boys.

  97. Rasp says:

    There are reports coming out of Switzerland that Djourou’s injury may not be as bad as first feared and that he could be back before the end of the season.

  98. mickydidit89 says:

    Before I can formulate a coherent battle plan for the remainder of the campaign, I really need a full stock take. TV? Theo? Any CB’s?
    Am I right poss both Theo and Song available for WBA. If so, surley we are in pretty good shape as long as we apply the “score one more than you” philosophy.

  99. Rasp says:

    Morning Micky,

    New Post ………

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