The U-Turn Wenger Must Make

I bet you’ve never heard of the period in Rembrandt’s career when he gave up painting portraits and turned instead to singing bawdy ditties for a living (it’s generally referred to as his ‘blue’ period).

Or the time Luciano Pavarotti stepped away from the rigours of being the world’s greatest tenor and tried, briefly, to succeed as a tap dancer, much to the consternation of seismologists everywhere.

Or Charles Darwin’s stint as a pest control officer (and his subsequent memoir, The Extermination of Species).

And here’s why you’ve never heard of them: they never happened.

Strange as it may seem, people who find they are very good at something tend to achieve long term success by continuing to do what they are good at.

They don’t wake up one day and decide to do it all differently.

So what happened to Arsene Wenger?

In his first six years at Arsenal his teams netted three League Titles and four FA Cups, playing a brilliant brand of 4-4-2 football that combined pace, power and skill.

Now we play a very different style of football – in a 4-3-3 or, as some would say, a 4-5-1 formation which, so far, has achieved no silverware and does not look like achieving any this year either.

We are often referred to as the best team to watch. The neutral’s favourite. The armchair viewer’s wet dream.

But, being harsh, our style has actually become quite boring.

The drama in football is all in and around the goal – the shots, the headers, the saves, the game-defining moments. Yet most of our play is based on lateral movement outside the opposition’s penalty area, usually in front of their back four ten.

We play from side to side and back again, like a bunch of crabs at a line dance.

Our eventual forward thrusts usually start well (some quick passes and one-two exchanges), but such is their intricacy that inevitably one pass goes slightly astray or one run doesn’t quite come off and the move breaks down against the packed ranks of defenders.

At the very least, most teams have learnt how to counter our current playing style and it’s only the teams whose managers remain resolutely cavalier (like Ian Holloway at Blackpool) that end up getting a good pasting.

So, in simple terms, 4-4-2 was successful for us; 4-3-3 is not (so far, at least). With 4-4-2, Arsene built two great teams.  With 4-3-3, he has built a great-looking team that hasn’t won a bean. So why did he change that successful formula?

After the Invincibles were broken up there was a transitional period when we continued to play a more-or-less 4-4-2 formation with Adebayor as our lead striker, but there were many occasions on which Ade played as the lone man up front. It was part of a gradual move towards the way of playing with which we are currently familiar.

The main theories for this change appear to be:

  • Arsene had long been an admirer of the Ajax/Barcelona style and wanted to build his own team in that image.
  • The financial constraints of the stadium move meant Arsene knew he would have to build a team from within and, if he was going to do that, it was an opportunity to train all the teams, from youth level up, in the style of play to which he aspired (youth players being less stuck in their ways than seasoned veterans, who might find it harder to adapt to a new system).
  • Arsene decided that, in Cesc Fabregas, he had one of the greatest midfielders we will ever see, but to release his talents fully required 4-3-3.
  • After TH14 left, Arsene has not been able to find (or at least afford) the kind of world class striker who could lead a 4-4-2 (even though Adebayor flattered to deceive for one season).

It’s probably a combination of reasons (particularly the first and third), but as this season heads for yet another disappointing end, it may now be time to call a halt to the experiment.

It has not been a failure. It has kept us competitive in all competitions for years and maintained our presence in the Champions League despite the lack of cash available for star signings.

But it has not proved capable of getting us over the finishing line in any competition, not even the Carling Cup.

I have enjoyed the ride – the attempt to be the British Barca – and I respect the courage and sense of ambition that have driven it. But now I would like Arsene to return to what he’s good at: building a championship winning group of powerful, skilful players who operate in a devastating 4-4-2 formation.

It doesn’t even need a major overhaul in personnel, although a top out-and-out striker is absolutely vital (an established big name, or another gem unearthed by the boss).

It just needs an admission that the current approach is not good enough, not in the English Premier League, and that there is no shame in returning to something that worked in the past.


171 Responses to The U-Turn Wenger Must Make

  1. Check my New Arsenal Blog:
    It’s great!!

  2. Carlito11 says:

    Rocky- thanks for the post, will stop by to comment further later today. Just wanted to share these from a funny bloke on twitter called KeithTheGooner:
    In Arsene We Got Thrush #GoonersYouDontWannaSleepWith
    In Arsene We Brush #HairdressingGooners
    In Arsene We Puss #SpottyGooners
    In Arsene We Cussed #SwearyGooners
    In Arsene We Lust #HornyGooners
    In Arsene We Thrust #BackdoorBanditGooners
    In Arsene We Dust #CleanerGooners
    In Arsene We Bust #Page3Gooners
    Thought you lot might like them after yesterday’s melee!

  3. since1979 says:

    I have been saying this to anybody who would listen we need to play 4-4-2 and i had hoped that Chamakh would have been given a chance as he kept us going while RVP was out and as not had a run in the team to prove himself.

  4. Rocka says:

    Wenger won’t change. He is the problem. It’s time for a change. Is it wrong that I hope we lose a few more games before the end of the season to see real change.

    I feel sorry for Eboue being made the scapegoat.

  5. Mark says:

    Wenger is so powerful at Arsenal now that his ego means he does not have to make u-turns, it is too humbling and an admittance of failure. Wenger wants nothing more than to win a title with his strategy, it’s taken him too long to build for him to end it. I suspect he would rather leave the club than do that. If it was simply about winning a trophy for him, he would have abandoned it three seasons ago. He’s already told us he’ll do it for another 20 years if need be.

  6. mickydidit89 says:

    Oh Rocky, Rocky.
    What an excellent post. I attempted to make similar points a while ago. The difference is that you speak fluent English, while I am restricted in my very regional Greek Patois!

  7. mickydidit89 says:

    What opposition teams have also sussed is that they can easily conserve energy as when we hit them on the break, they can happily jog back and get their two banks of four behind the ball, while having plenty of time to have a chat and a breather.

  8. mickydidit89 says:

    One of the great advantages of a 4-4-2 is that RvP could play his ideal role. That is the DB10 number. He cannot be the lone striker in a 4-3-3/4-5-1.

  9. Rasp says:

    Top post Rocky, your best yet IMO and peppered with some great lines (I particularly liked the Darwin, Extermination of Species)

    I had to listen fat Sam talking sense on TS this morning. He applauded AW for all his achievements and said that the Invincibles had everything, you (his teams) couldn’t bully them and they had you on pace and skill as well, but the current team lacks power and directness and doesn’t use its pace effectively.

    I want AW to be remembered as the greatest manager we ever had not the most stubborn.

  10. Every week Rocky writes a post that I would just love to push under Arsenes nose and say ‘here read this’

    It’s true, he changed once and maybe he’ll look at it again tonight and think ‘I can’t let the supporters down, lets play 4-4-2 at the lane and see what happens’ 🙂

    We need a flying pig smiley

  11. Mark says:

    Let’s also not forget that 4-4-2 accommodates Bendtner as well who I think is now as bad as playing on the wings or as a lone striker makes him look. In fact the only player that may look worse in a 4-4-2 is Fabregas! We changed to suit him, his future lies elsewhere so probably best to revert to what suits us and gets the best out of the others, plus it’s tried, tested and proven.

  12. Gooner in Exile says:

    Thought provoking Rocky.

    I’d ask one question how many other winners of trophies in recent seasons have played 4-4-2?

    Barca, Chelsea and ManUtd have all adopted a packed midfield.

    The way we played 4-4-2 in TH14/DB10’s era was effectively 4-4-1-1 and this is I think where perhaps confusion comes and lack of personnel comes to the fore. Cesc is given the one behind RvP role yet he is not capable of playing with his back to goal as well as DB10, whilst RvP is playing the TH14 role without the pace and clinicism

  13. Tom says:

    At last, a blog touches the essence of truth.

    Your points are spot on, but don’t undermine the importance of reaching the CL final with this “new” and “experimental” formation.

    Wenger knows 4-4-2, but is clueless in the 4-3-3.

    No major overhaul? I’m not so sure about that. In a 4-4-2, we could finally play Andrey in his preferred role. Bonus. We could play Nasri in the Pires/Overmars role. Good. Right side, I’m not so sure. Theo is not he answer. We need balance in a 4-4-2. A right sided midfielder is important, as we cannot deploy two wingers. Read Parlour/Beckham.

    BUT, what we lack is the right type of midfielders. Song and Diaby would seem the best candidates, but they’re not good ones. Wilshere, for all his talent, is not a typical 4-4-2 midfielder either. But I’m still undecided on him. Perhaps he could to the job.

    In a 4-4-2 you need both midfielders to tackle, win headers, work box-to-box, but also to be creative and possess a good passing range.

    Carrick is the sort of player we need, if we forget the quality and focus on the type.

  14. kelsey says:

    well your post shows exactly what nearly became a heated debate on here yesterday.We don’t follow like sheep, we have alternate views.

    The thing i notice most is that the players look tired(not surprising as they have in the majority been playing more or less continuosly for a year) and ashas already been said we are too predictable to more and more teams.
    I read there is an injunction going on re chamakh, and that’s why he is not playing.Anyone throw any light on this ?
    I still revert to what I said earlier that the reliance on Cesc is too great.

  15. Gooner in Exile says:

    So in summary you’re right we need a quality striker and if Cesc can’t or won’t play in a middle two we will not progress.

  16. kelsey says:

    RVP is best suited to the DB10 role and we need a quality striker to go with him.Where is that man ?

  17. Wonderman says:

    Hi Rocky, great topic for debate but let me pose a question to all those who swear that 4-4-2 is the answer to our problems

    1. Do Man utd or Chelsea play 4-4-2 ?
    2. Did we draw on Sunday because we didn’t play 4-4-2?
    3. Did we beat Barca because we played 4-4-2

    Or is it more important to implement the good principles of play which have not changed since the game started irrespective of formation used?

    I will be back later to elaborate

  18. Sadly GiE that might be the bottom line.

    Building the team around Cesc was a brilliant idea but it hasn’t won us anything although we have watched some pretty awesome football in that time. When Cesc is fit, he makes the team tick but when he isn’t we can’t find the spark to play 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 effectively.

  19. kelsey says:

    read up to the minute stats and debate about Arsenal

  20. kelsey says:


    Tottenham have kept just one clean sheet in their last 30 games against Arsenal in all competitions.

  21. kelsey says:

    Henry Winter sums it up perfectly this morning – the best thing for Arsenal isn’t a change of manager, but for the manager to change.

  22. mickydidit89 says:

    Excllent comment

  23. London says:

    “We play from side to side and back again, like a bunch of crabs at a line dance.”

    Rasp you should go with your idea of a “List of Gems” above because this little gem deserves to be remembered.


    I find myself inadvertently shaking my head in amazement and respect as I read your posts sometimes.

    Micky’s “I only speak Greek patois” deserves humorous recognition as well.

  24. Mark says:

    4-3-3, 4-4-2, 4-4-1-1, 4-5-1, play what you like. If the players don’t work hard, play for the shirt and hold concentration, the results would be the same. Those are the things really letting us down.

  25. mickydidit89 says:

    Can I chuck in a 20 goal-a-season man.

  26. mickydidit89 says:

    It was “regional” Greek Patois which is a dood deal more incomprehensible.

  27. Mark says:

    Micky, that would be nice….long as he’s not injury prone – another of our achilles heels.

  28. Mark says:

    Also Micky as you’ve said above, we’ve been sussed by all. We seem to be the only team that sets out without any plans to counter the particular opposition. We simply go out the same exact way everytime, the only variable being the personnel. We need to pay more respect to opponents, Wenger is the only top manager you don’t see at other games. Even SAF will come to our games to read us.

  29. Evonne says:

    Rocky – “I have enjoyed the ride – the attempt to be the British Barca – and I respect the courage and sense of ambition that have driven it. But now I would like Arsene to return to what he’s good at: building a championship winning group of powerful, skilful players who operate in a devastating 4-4-2 formation” – superb summary of your article, thanks

  30. mickydidit89 says:

    Arsene used spies and satellites!

  31. mickydidit89 says:

    Or do the Barca thing properly ie have the best player in the world!

  32. Mark says:

    Lol @ Micky. He also has a Sky HD subscription, lol.

  33. mickydidit89 says:

    Its the Platinum Diamondy Gold version 🙂

  34. dood deal 🙂 shall I edit?

  35. mickydidit89 says:

    And your chosen language of the day is?

  36. Harry says:

    Rocky, quality post, although I would not agree fully with your assessment: My Ramblings|:

    1. I dont think moving necessarily to a 4-4-2 would reap dividends…..
    2. I agree we dont need a mass change of personnel.
    3. We do pass side too often at the moment, there is a fear about our play, more so at home…thats the EBE (Emirates Blanket Effect!!!)
    4. I love RVP but he isnt an out and out goal scorer which we need drastically..Can play coming from right or left or in the hole but he is not a 6yd man…..
    5. Nobody attacks the box on attacks, we can all slate theo for crossing to no one, but he needs movement from players.
    6. We play too many players out of position or out of comfort zone too often……
    7. We truly havent got a plan B that the players can turn too without wengers input.
    8. We allow teams to sit back too much and hold their lines, mix up the play and drag them out…Put under pressure, put the ball in the box more often, look for knock downs, not all game but just every now and then, look for breaks…….
    9. The manager doesnt trust his players enough for me, they play too much to instructions and not with freedom of an instinctive player, which is what we have alot of, Arshavin plays on the edge the most, but invariably our other players tend not to read him…
    10. Walcott can be played wide or down the middle but please will players stop playing a dead ball to him absolutely pointless 5yds into feet, its like giving a rabbit to a nun , he needs to run on and pick the ball up in his stride, he is devastating when that happens……
    11. Clichy still has his moments of brain freeze too often for me, he did it several times on sunday, it frightens me….
    12. As for relying on cesc, many of our good games in the league have been with him absent in the early part of this season, we can play without him, but of course prefer with him…..Goes back to playing people in right places…
    13. Doing something different with personnel when injuries hit, lack of balance and pace is our main issue at times….Gibbs and Clichy down the left together…..
    14. Eboue was the unfortunate scape goat, I like him in the squad, he is a good squad player….
    15. The ground and match day build up needs rethinking…….

    Well thats my ramblings, I understand your article rocky, but feel many of the issues highlighted would be the same no matter what formation we used……

  37. kelsey says:

    I repeat,

    I read there is an injunction going on re Chamakh, and that’s why he is not playing.Anyone throw any light on this ?

  38. mickydidit89 says:

    It has something to do with Bad Hair.

  39. Harry says:

    Kelsey, not heard that from anywhwere? explains alot though….

  40. kelsey says:

    Not from what I heard.I think he has got a case of campbellitis 😉

  41. Harry says:

    I missed another point, lol, probably the most important one in some respects:

    16. Shake up the coaching regime, I think Pat is standing down, would love him to stay at the club in the background, but we need someone different at Wengers side…….

  42. kelsey says:

    Funny how so many of you live quite near the ground,meet up yet here’s me 2000 miles away and get to hear things 🙂

    Chamakh’s injunction has been going on for 6 weeks.I will not be drawn into it, as I don’t know if it is true,but it explains a lot why he is not playing.

  43. Gooner in Exile says:

    There have always been rumours about Chamakhs private life.

    And to be fair if they’re true I hope we the fans embrace him. If a Rugby Union player can be accepted why not a footballer?

    My ideal formation would include him


  44. mickydidit89 says:

    Mine would go:
    Nasri Cesc Parker/Schweinsteiger Young
    …………….RvP Torres……
    Ooops, I promised myself I would not start talking dirty until after the last game.

  45. Gooner in Exile says:

    Micky …… You found the spare £90mil hanging around the Emirates or did you pickpocket the Sheikh for loose change in the Wembley area on Saturday

  46. mickydidit89 says:

    I did actually 🙂
    SK has pots of the stuff!

  47. Carlito11 says:

    Right! A break in which to think about a brilliantly well-written and persuasive post- thanks Rocky. I think it much more positive to search for solutions than look for a scapegoat and this is a fine example of the former. It’s true that all the great successes we have experienced as a club have been using a predominantly 442 setup but I would question whether it is the solution to our current malaise.
    Chelsea showed how powerful a 433 can be last season and the end of last season and the beginning of this. The main difference seems to my mind to be personnel. RvP- beautiful gifted striker that he is- is no drogba leading the line. He cannot terrorise 2 centrebacks on his own. And our wide attackers don’t seem to have the eye for goal that anelka and malouda did last season. That they are also struggling this season is down to the same reasons as us. Teams defending deeper, not allowing the quick break and a lack of speed when a break is on.
    I think they also struggled enormously when their battle hardened winners were injured for a long period and again I draw a parallel as these are the type of player we currently lack- I won’t dirty this forum by naming the chavs I mean- I’m sure you all know who I mean.
    So for me it is lack of speed, lack of tactical variation when needed and crucially a lack of “we will not be beaten” mentality that is needed rather than reverting to our previous model of success…

  48. Carlito11 says:

    Picking up on this from Harry “3. We do pass side too often at the moment, there is a fear about our play, more so at home…thats the EBE (Emirates Blanket Effect!!!)” I wondered aloud and often against Liverpool, where are the little lobs and balls over the top for our forwards to get past the back line? A problem of variation again- this is not “plan B” the problem here is that “plan A” is only partly being put into action. The comment about tiredness and fatigue comes in here- tiredness and split-second creativity are not good bedfellows…

  49. Carlito11 says:

    If the injunction against Chamakh is because of certain “proclivities” alluded to by GiE- I don’t see why it should affect his ability to be selected for the team. Or have I missed something?

  50. London says:

    If there was an injuction against Chamakh, that’s to say one that the club were taking seriously, then I doubt he would even be on the bench…..I’m going with the bad hair theory.

  51. Carlito11 says:

    Hattrick- offski! 😎

  52. Gooner in Exile says:

    Good point Carlito in my yoof under very good coaching we were always practising simple ball skills at the end of a hard session.

    The reason our coaches (one ex Hibs player and one who has gone onto coach in the US) gave was that it’s much harder to do simple things with tired legs and minds.

  53. London says:

    I always loved the way that Wenger managed to sum up so concisely the genius of Bergkamp: “He does the simple things well”

  54. mickydidit89 says:

    As opposed to the player who does the almost impossible very badly indeed 🙂

  55. mickydidit89 says:

    You know what, work get bleeding well get to the back of the queue. I’m off.

  56. RockyLives says:

    Hello all and thanks for the comments (and some great lines that made me chuckle – none more so than Micky’s reference to the Chamakh ‘bad hair’ injunction).

    Kelsey – thanks for the Henry Winter line. Very well put by a very good journo.

    And Rasp, a good, heartfelt comment: “I want AW to be remembered as the greatest manager we ever had not the most stubborn.”

    I would still be happy if our 4-3-3 could suddenly work and win us things, but it’s starting to feel like we have had a good go at it and not really progressed. Yes, we’re higher up the table this year, but the opposition is arguably much weaker than in previous years.

    Going back is not always the best way to go forward (for example, the GG method brought us two titles in three years, but I doubt many would advocate a return to an ultra-defensive, one-nil-to-the-Arsenal approach these days), but AW achieved great success with a 4-4-2 system – he knew how to make it work and what sort of personnel were needed to drive it.

  57. Wonderman says:

    Ok Rocky i’ll try and make my case for why formation is in my opinion dictated by the players you have at your disposal or choose to buy.

    One thing that has become apparent to me is the loss of the team’s ability to attack with pace. This is one of the factors that I believe enables visiting teams to be successful whilst defending at the Emirates. The other I believe is the refusal to gamble with long range shots, which may ricochet and go in, but more importantly will cause an opposing midfielder or defender to break their line, therefore creating space for one of our players to exploit. Cutting out silly individual errors would also go a long way to soothing our pain, as for once if we must concede at least make the other team work for it.

    For all the exponents of 4-4-2 we used to struggle year in year out in the champions league playing that formation with the invincibles, but look formidable in the prem. I believe it is the pursuit of Europe and the Paris final in particular that turned Wenger’s head to 4-3-3 /4-2-3-1 and it is no coincidence that our performance in the Champs league since has been much improved. Have we also forgotten what happened to England playing 4-4-2 in the last world cup and how they were derided for being out dated. Top teams rely on quick counter attack ( to stop their opponents from setting up defensively), penetrative passes, creativity and clinical finishing. For me change of formation does not improve any of those

  58. RockyLives says:

    I’m having a busy period at work at the moment, so have been only contributing on occasion to comments – but I have been reading everything!

    Yesterday’s engagement with Speculum was interesting. I thought his tagline at the end of his comments was silly (and nicely parodied by Carlito 11 at the top of these comments today). In general I thought he was making his points reasonably, until he started making childish references to ‘sheep’.

    Personally I don’t mind it when people come on here with a very different view – there are more than enough articulate and informed AA-ers for us to easily shold our own. However, it does get boring after a while when the visitor just keep repeating the same lines. My preference is to engage for a bit and, if the argument is not going anywhere, just ignore them.

    As for banning people, moderating etc, I think it’s important to remember that Rasp, Peaches and the others who run this site do this voluntarily in their spare time. They have jobs to do, families and lives to run and can not be expected to be babysitting us every minute of the day. It’s their work that has given the rest of us a forum to come together and share our thoughts and stories and become friends, so we certainly need to cut them some slack if the comments are not to our taste or liking.

    The saddest thing of all would be if any of the great, regular posters on AA decided to up sticks and leave because of some trouble-maker from outside. Tolerance should always be our first instinct in these situations – both to the outsider and to the people who run AA. The really abusive people will get binned eventually, but we can’t expect Rasp and Co to swoop like avenging angels the moment any one of us takes offense.

    I’m proud of the way we have in the past ‘converted’ initially abusive visitors into reasonable debaters (one or two have even gone on to apologise for their initial intemperate remarks, explaining that seems to be the level of discourse on most sites).

    Er… that was a bit of a ramble. Sorry.

  59. Harry says:

    Shub, obviously in the need of visits posting twice in same thread….

    Come on Kelsey give us a clue?

  60. Harry says:

    Kelsey, ignore my last,Googled it, very interesting,.

  61. Carlito11 says:

    Shabham- following on from Rocky’s excellent comment on not banning but engaging with other bloggers on the site- I feel that your “hit and run” advertising is becoming a nuisance. Please engage with us in some form of debate/ discussion but don’t just leave a link to your site and scarper!!! If people on this blog want to check yours out they can always do so by clicking on your name anyway (in blue you see?)

  62. Harry says:

    Carlito, said like a true scholar……..

  63. Evonne says:

    Shabhamgoel27 – if I were you I would write something really derogatory about AW here, then you would have our undivided attention

  64. RockyLives says:

    Ha ha. Like it.
    It makes me think that maybe we shouldn’t always rise to the bait so easily when people come on here to slag off the boss.

  65. RockyLives says:

    Hope all went well today for you.

  66. tommystout says:

    wonderful post rocky as per usual.
    the answer is –
    it isn’t a matter of formation, the fact is people come to the emirates knowing how to play it. defend, soak it up and a chance will come, take it and then soak it up again. Everyone does it, even Manu. We have been worked out, and dont have the personell to do it any differently.
    Why is our away record so different, because the home team have to be more positive and try to attack as a home team should do, thus giving us the space where our 4.3.3 can weave its magic.
    So what is the answer – we need personell that can kill off a game in the first 20 mins like earlywengerball, we did that with speed, understanding and some unbelievably gifted players, RVP doesnt have the speed, theo can’t beat a man from standing. Henry could do both, Pires could do both, Overmars could do both, these kinds of players cost serious money now, and we aint in the market. For now teams know the way to be successful at the grove and thats the way it will go until we have the personell that can beat the negetives.

  67. RockyLives says:

    Hard to disagree with any of that. This Miyachi kid sounds really good and could be in the Pires/Overmars mould – but I am getting a bit tired of pinning our hopes on whichever latest teen sensation is being paraded as the answer to our problems.

    I would like to see us get a real winger – Ashley Young, for example.

  68. goonermichael says:

    Just read through the comments. I Chamakh gay?

  69. tommystout says:

    yeah i watch that kids vids whenever a new one gets posted he looks good, but then again so did vela.
    I’d like to see young at arsenal too rocky, he is a gooner as well, is he not?

  70. tommystout says:

    Like London said re. chamach, he wouldnt be on the bench if there was a problem.

  71. Gooner in Exile says:

    I’m gonna ask a question, how would the team/players from Wengers successful years cope with teams coming and putting 8-10 men behind the ball?

  72. goonermichael says:

    Henry, Bergy, Overmars, Pires etc would smash them to pieces.

  73. RockyLives says:

    I tend to agree with goonerm
    We had the power for a Plan B in those days…

  74. kelsey says:

    Chamakh has taken out the injuncton, not the other way round.He doesn’t want something getting into the press.

  75. tommystout says:

    i have to agree with michael 🙂

  76. chas says:

    Liked the post, Rocky.

    How frustrating was it to see Bendy come on as sub and then hug the right touchline? Complete madness. Surely we should be flexible enough to play two strikers even if it’s only for parts of the game. The opposition centre backs must love coming to the Emirates having to defend crosses against a non-existent centre forward.

    The 4-3-3 system appears to create a horseshoe made up of the 3 in midfield plus the left and right front players which, at the moment leads to the crab line-dancing. 🙂

    Loved the KeithTheGooner tweets, Carlito.

  77. Carlito11 says:

    GM- No- it’s a fully hetrosexual mess he’s got himself into by the looks of it. I followed Harry’s lead and googled it…

  78. goonermichael says:

    My personal opinion (and I don’t know that much) no one in our team is on DB10 or Henry’s level. We don’t have a PV (nor does anyone else) now. We don’t have a striker as good as Wright or Anelka at the moment.

  79. Gooner in Exile says:

    GM – having followed Harrys lead and googled it it appears rumours I have heard may be false. If the other rumours around the injunction are true.

    But bearing in mind this has run since January it could well have led to a dip in form, he may have been disciplined by the club, he may be upset with himself.

    But to avoid rumour mongering I’m going to leave it there.

  80. Harry says:

    TommySTout @3.06pm ……Nail Head Hit The on……A shortened synopsis of what I had sort of said earlier and previously……..

    GIE: Probably bulldoze their way through, more physical to start with, then also they had God playing at No10, unlock any defence……..

    Also they played without fear so looked for any opening, completely different mentality to this lot….

    Both have their virtues, but the pre-2005 had that extra killer instinct that this lot cannot find as yet, their confidence remains on the edge of the precipice of failure…faltering too often…..

  81. Carlito11 says:

    I think was just his “powder puff” shot that started those other rumours GiE 🙂

  82. chas says:

    El Clasico was interesting on Saturday evening. Mourinho parked the bus and even with Barca’s magnificent movement, they struggled to create many clear cut opportunities. Real could have snatched victory in the last part of the game even with 10 men.

  83. I’d like us to not go down the route of speculating about one of our own please.

  84. Some have short memories ……. I remember there being moans about no Plan B when Henry was leading the line and how difficult it was to get behind a parked bus. To our credit we did play with pace then and were able to tire the opposition and eventually score in the last minutes. We still do that to a degree but we shouldn’t rely on it.

  85. chas says:

    I think the standard of defending in the Premier league has improved considerably in the last 5 years, which goes some way to explaining the closing of the gap between top and bottom.

  86. chas says:

    All of the top teams have struggled against a team that has virtually no interest at all in leaving their own half.

  87. mickydidit89 says:

    Check my New Arsenal Specialist Blog:
    It’s genuinely upsetting !

  88. RockyLives says:

    micky 🙂
    Can you send that to Shubhamgoel….

  89. tommystout says:

    good point chas r.e. el classico
    in an alternate world i would love to see how barca would cope in the premiership.

  90. mickydidit89 says:

    He’s highjacked my blog name and gravatar, the self promoting little snake!

  91. You’re right chas, I was just pointing out that the ‘parked the bus theme’ and ‘no Plan B’ are not new problems.

    Ade was a Plan B wasn’t he, worked for a while and then he got bored with us 😦

  92. Rocky – great post, thank you so much and for your supportive comment earlier 🙂

  93. kelsey says:

    Trust me I’m a doctor 😉

  94. chas says:

    I thought you were spot on with your comment, peaches.
    Our memories do fool us into remembering a slightly rosier picture of how things used to be.

  95. chas says:

    Let’s hope RA has some good news for us at some point today.

  96. kelsey says:

    Another point is that the difference between the top and bottom of the league has narrowed considerably this season, while in other seasons at least one or two teams were there just to make up the numbers.
    Add that to the fact more and more teams know how to stiffle us it makes a good argument for a plan B which may involve buying different types of players or changing the system or both.

  97. RockyLives says:

    Peaches 🙂

  98. Mickeyk says:

    Hello from Florida .let’s start with wenger I think he’s a good guy and it’s a shame hoe it’s turned out .He’s pride has got in the way and he can’t believe his boys haven’t got the know how or the guts to win the league and are not hungry enough s.some players just don’t care it’s as simple as that.if wenger stays more of the same next year.

  99. Harry says:

    Your right peaches (that hurt) and to be honest alot of the problems we bring up have been there every season since Le prof arrived (give or take), but his ability to solve them differs season to season.

    The confidence of the players is at the core of this, even this season we have played at times even against the parked bus well, we are just so inconsistent for a variety of reasons, the rosy specs do preclude us from seeing things clearer at times……as stated by Chas……oh well oh to be a gooner……

  100. chas says:

    Sagna back in squad for spuds. 🙂

  101. kelsey says:

    peaches could you check to see if there is a For Sale sign outside cesc’s house.just read onlinegooner and if you add that to the meeting the delegation had in barcelona last thursday which i told you and dandan about, the inevitable appears to be happening.

  102. RockyLives says:

    The signs do seem ominous. But I wonder if there won’t be a portion of the Gunners support that will not be overly disappointed if he goes.

  103. goonermichael says:

    I know for a fact that Cesc wasn’t at the Nike shoot for the new kit. Nor was RVP, Bendy amonge others. I think he’s going, I also think it’s for the best as his heart doen’t seem to be in it.

  104. kelsey says:

    I am, not a gossip munger,just occasionally i am privelaged to some inside info such as the late fizman and now this happens to follow on within the same week.
    I am sure cesc will go now, though i think the stumbling block was the way payment was to be finalised.

  105. Red Arse says:

    Hi Folks,

    Had to pop on to say, to my friend Rocky, that he is a veritable genius when writing Posts.

    These Posts with their gripping content, the allegorical references, and the purple prose have got to stop!

    You make all the rest of us look on with wonder and envy at the way you churn out these masterpieces so nonchalantly. Brilliant! 🙂

    Of course, now I have wrested the ‘bin button’ off the Peach and Rasper, you realise I might have to ZAP you?

    I have had a practise on 26M (aka Heathcliffe, with his handsome saturnine looks, gleaming white teeth and insouciance with ladies) —- ZAP and he was gone. It’s for the best, you know.

    Cannot have competition like that, and now I am toying with the idea of ZAPPING the Viking with the beautiful blue eyes.

    Am I dreaming? 🙂 🙂

  106. kelsey says:

    never mind about all that RA, how are you 🙂

  107. RockyLives says:

    Hello Redders 🙂
    You sound like you have a spring in your step!

  108. Red Arse says:

    Hi Kelsey, 🙂

    Don’t want to bother everyone, as is my wont, but its been a pretty bad day. Got to go back tomorrow for more prodding, poking and ‘hmmm-ing’!

    I am on so many pills now, the doctors and the nurses grabbed an arm and a leg each, and shook me vigorously to disperse the medicine cocktail, despite my protests I preferred to be gently stirred, not shaken. B*stards! 🙂

  109. RA – I was just thinking about you, how are you today?

  110. You don’t need to answer me personally Red – poor you 😦

  111. Red Arse says:

    Hi Rocky, you little prose prodigy? 🙂

    No spring unfortunately. I am a little light headed, blah, de blah, but I had to tell you what a lovely gift your Post was to lift my spirits, before I go and lay down. 🙂

  112. While I’m talking to myself is usually a good time to see if anyone fancies volunteering for the mashed ones match report.

    Don’t worry, I’ll be nagging again 🙂

  113. Rasp says:

    Hi RA,

    Glad to have you back, did you see that you are a record holder? – I credited you with the 50,000th comment on AA.

    I’m about to wend my weary way home shortly, catch up with everyone later but just to reiterate; Rocky’s post was an absolute corker today. I hope SPECTRUM read it and realised that his assumptions about the site and the character of our bloggers was completely incorrect.

  114. Red Arse says:

    Peach, you are always worth chatting to personally! 🙂

    I am a big fan of ‘House’ but one’s mind can transfer the melodrama of the show into real life, when things are not quite panning out as expected, especially when you are a wuzz, like me.

    I’d better go, other than to say I have read yesterday’s post comments and today’s and the guys and gals have been stimulated big-time by Rocky.

    By the way, tell the Rasper that I saw his comment that I wrote the 50,000th comment ……. and 49,000 of the others as well! He’d better watch it or I will ZAP him! 🙂

    Bye now!

  115. kelsey says:

    just in from cesc.

    He told Spanish magazine Don Balon: “From 2007 I had already started saying “we’re not winning, but we’re playing well”. And then you realise that’s no use.

    “You enjoy yourself, during a phase of the championship – like this year, for example, when we were still in four different competitions. And you say to yourself ‘here I have everything!’ But then that final point is missing and it’s then when you have to make a decision: either go out and win or develop players.”

    Fabregas was also asked why Wenger was not under more pressure following Arsenal’s lack of trophies.

    “It’s different here,” the Spain midfielder added.

    “The coach is an intelligent person and the club value other things – that the team is always in the Champions League, that they fight until the end, bring through young players, economic stability.

    “I guess that for the board that is important. Although I imagine there will be a moment when you have to take the plunge…either you win or you don’t win.”

    Fabregas also believes his side are lacking a few important ingredients to challenge the domination that Manchester United and Chelsea have enjoyed over recent seasons.

    “It’s difficult. For me it’s more a lack of a winning mentality, also of maturity in key moments,” he said.

  116. Gooner in Exile says:

    I hear he has also apologised for being selfish in Camp Nou for playing when 70% fit, and also appears to have been offended by Perry Groves criticisms of him yesterday, he tweeted

    “Perry Groves what a legend”

    Good to know he gets irony 😀

    Seriously I think he won’t go this summer Barca are short on cash, and Cescs star has faded under injury this season.

    We missed the boat to cash in.

    Do we really think he would need to rush to sell his house or be as tactless to do it during the season? If he is selling he could just be moving?

  117. Gooner in Exile says:

    Also Kelsey it’s never a good idea to encourage ladies to spy on PL players, Peaches could end up in a cell with Ferdinands stalker 😀

  118. kelsey says:

    but peaches is an expert at that 😉

    I disagree with you, I think he will go though I accept barca are short of cash, and maybe in the long run it might not be a bad thing for the team without another year of uncertainty.

  119. goonermichael says:

    Kelsey I agree with you. I was ok with him going last summer.

  120. kelsey says:

    did i hear right that you are emigrating to the Far East

  121. goonermichael says:

    Next year Kelsey.

  122. mickydidit89 says:

    Newcastle win tonight and I believe that will give us the ooomph to win tomorrow and narrow the gap to three points. I WILL believe.

  123. RockyLives says:

    You’ve probably offskied by now, but I wanted to thank you for your flattering words. We are lucky to have a stable of fine writers here on AA (most definitely including your good self).
    Good luck with the additional prodding and poking tomorrow – at the very least I wish you a pretty nurse!

  124. SharkeySure says:

    “much to the consternation of seismologist”

    To think I could have this line in my mind all day if I’d read this post earlier. Absolutely brilliant.

    Anyway gonna read the rest of the hp now. In fact I’m gonna wait ten mins…that line needs time alone at centre stage.

    Thats genius Rocky

  125. mickydidit89 says:

    Ah RA,
    Just read comments, and I ditto everyone’s good wishes, although I thought Rocky’s kind thoughts of prodding but only the one nurse singular was a little insensitive for a man of your needs.
    Good luck.

  126. goonermichael says:

    I’m off now. It’s my wife’s birthday tomorrow but she wants to go to dinner tonight. I was hoping to get out of watching the match tomorrow. I don’t think I can take it. See you all tomorrow than. Maybe the barcodes will get a result and we mash the spuds.

  127. chas says:

    RA, here’s wishing you a plethora of pulchritudinous prodders.

  128. goonermichael says:

    Hope everything is ok. 🙂

  129. Carlito11 says:

    Chas- thank you for “pulchritudinous”! I’ve been trying it on for size- Had to look in a dictionary to see what it meant and how to pronounce it! 🙂

  130. RockyLives says:

    Cheers Sharkey – but the good lines just keep coming on this site:

    I refer you, M’Lud, to Chas @ 7.22pm: “RA, here’s wishing you a plethora of pulchritudinous prodders.”

  131. RockyLives says:

    “Pulchritudinous” always pops into my mind whenever Peaches appears on here…

  132. Gooner In Exile says:

    While we are all in fine mood and there’s been a little talk of what to do going forward.

    I just wanted to ask why no one seems to have mentioned Gary Cahill since Sunday, he apparently was the answer to all our problems at the back but it appears his star has waned since Bolton were taken apart by Stoke on Sunday. He even nodded one down for the mighty Huth to lash one home.

  133. Gooner in Exile says:

    GAME ON!!!!

    Someone needs to tell that Fergie fella he needs a plan B better than Michael Owen 🙂

  134. mickydidit89 says:

    Yee Ha,
    Its up for grabs now!

  135. mickydidit89 says:

    Chary is the man for the job 🙂

  136. Harry says:

    Funny old game, aint it? I do wish the press would wait for the season to be over, before handing out trophies…..I fancy Everton to get something at Old trafford on staurday as well……

    The incentive is there now, against the sworn enemy, stand together be stronger, lets go there and absolutely mash them spuds……

  137. Gooner In Exile says:


    I’m not sure if i can watch tomorrow night, not because I won’t be here but because I literally am not sure I’ll be able to watch, I couldn’t watch the pens on Sunday, I’m not sure heart can take it.

  138. mickydidit89 says:

    Take pills. Drink much. Watch the game. You know I’m right 🙂

  139. Gooner In Exile says:

    It may be the only option micky

    i have a long drive to Bristol on Thursday tho so maybe not too many pills!

  140. Wonderman says:

    Gie @7:58 ….Quality !! and now that Man U have drawn with Newcastle , we are back to where we were pre sunday !

  141. Evonne says:

    GIE – don’t worry, I think Spurs will realise how important a win is to us, and since we are both North London teams, they will probably do us a favour and don’t turn up, and screw the Mancs

  142. Evonne says:

    will they feck

  143. mickydidit89 says:

    Its the first NLD for a while that has so much riding on it for both clubs, quite apart from the bragging rights. We have an epic on our hands.

  144. mickydidit89 says:

    Nite all, and watch out for ghosts. They are evrywhere.

  145. SharkeySure says:

    “I preferred to be gently stirred, not shaken”

    Red – Its hard to believe that you are not in the finest of fettle with lines like that.

    I only checked the Man U score twice tonight. Once on 18mins, then again on about 70. I normally jinx that kind of thing.

    I;m making no comments about titles until I’ve had mashed spuds tomorrow. Only then will I start to believe again.

    The spuds should suit us, as they like to play an open game

    Nite all

  146. Gooner In Exile says:

    Something from Twitter earlier probably in reference to the article Kelsey referenced:

    “Incredible that people try and twist everything to make headlines. Arsene Wenger has had a huge impact on me and my career. Great man.”

  147. goonermichael says:

    the mancs are doing everything they can to give us the title. the chavs will probably win it 🙂

  148. chas says:

    I imagine Cesc was talking about the reaction on twitter.

    How’s your Spanish, Kelsey (or is it Catalan)? Has it been fairly translated and then represented?–el-arsenal-debe-tomar-una-decision–o-ir-a-ganar-o-a-formar-jugadores–

  149. Carlito11 says:

    Quality performance defensively from the barcodes tonight. Real commitment in defence- some of our lot should have been taking notes 🙂
    Feels like Arsenal vs Spurs this season is like the original Star Wars trilogy: We’ve had the hopeful, youthful winning battle on their territory, then The Empire Strikes Back when all hope appeared lost. See you all for Return of the Jedi tomorrow…
    Peaches- prematch has now been emailed. Wish the Star Wars analogy had come to me earlier… ah well! See you lovely folk for what I’m sure will be an epic game and a quality build up on AA!

  150. Gooner in Exile says:

    Chas the been has kindly done it for us. Get past all the headline grabbing stuff and there is much more revealing quotes:
    The ‘Invincibles’ knew how to win games, when to dig in, when to attack,” he said. “They had a special intelligence to read games.”

    “Now we are very young – Robin van Persie has won an FA Cup as I have but there’s no more trophy winners.”

    “You have to have patience with things and wait for the right moment,” he said. “The day that I leave Arsenal I will do it with my head.
    “As well as that, who can be sure that you are going to play in a new team? Here I have the great fortune that at a personal level, despite not having won much, I’m doing very well.”

    “I spoke with [Barcelona captain Carles] Puyol and he told me that at 26 he hadn’t won anything – he has now won everything in the football world,” Fabregas added. “Patience and hard work are the most important things in life.

  151. kelsey says:

    Morning all.

    chas the translation is correct.

    Why come out with this the day before what could turn out out to be a pivitol game in our season.
    You can interpret it anyway you want but it was not needed at this time, unless he is hinting he is off.

  152. mickydidit89 says:

    Morning Kelsey,
    Its all very boring in a PV4/Henry type of way. Oh well, we have Stan now, therefore we are considerably richer than Barca!

  153. Carlito11 says:

    Kelsey- I’m told Don Balon have had the interview for 3 weeks now- the timing is theIRS not El Capitan’s…

  154. mickydidit89 says:

    Hi Carlito,
    Changing tack for a moment. Do we have any bright young right side full backs coming through?

  155. Evonne says:

    Morning all – that ‘patience’ mantra can be our downfall. AW always preaches that ‘we have to be patient’ and Peaches and I often feel that this is exactly what the players are doing – being patient even at the times when some urgency is needed

  156. mickydidit89 says:

    Hoping BigRaddy took his carrier pigeons with him for the pre-match.
    I am in the mood for a rousing speech.

  157. mickydidit89 says:

    Good point. I have always considered patience to be a grossly overated quality. If at first you don’t succeed, then change the plan.

  158. mickydidit89 says:

    The sun is gently rising over a new day at AA Towers.

  159. Evonne says:

    Micky – I thought it was ‘If at first you don’t succeed – cheat’, ie win anyway you can.

  160. mickydidit89 says:

    You mean “Do A Drogba”.

  161. kelsey says:


    In the spanish papers he refers to Kroenke having taken a major share holding so I doubt it was three weeks ago, but never mind.

    Let’s just hopes he puts in a performance tonight and the Spurs supporters are leaving twenty minutes before the end (cough)

  162. mickydidit89 says:

    If my spelling is worse than usual today, then blame sticky keys on my laptop. There has just been a minor incident involving a cat, my morning bowl of fruit and said laptop keys.

  163. Carlito11 says:

    Micky- I don’t think the right back slot has too much competItion in the reserves. I think (but might be wrong) that Gavin Hoyte might be our strongest prospect in the position and he’s no world beater…
    Kelsey- it’s entirely possible that the journos added the SK details to make it more current- one of a long list of techniques I’ve been told about. It was apparently done over the international break- but then again, perhaps not 🙂

  164. chas says:

    I think the timing’s perfect.
    Let’s just hope the we get the right response. 🙂

  165. chas says:

    Please blame my poor typing on sticky paws, too.

  166. kelsey says:

    I like you chas, as we nearly always disagree 🙂

    Let’s hope Gomes has a stinker yet again.I doubt Eboue will even be in the squad.he should take over gunnersaurus’s job, it would suit him fine.

  167. mickydidit89 says:

    Do we have any lawyers amongst us with lunatic fringe tendencies? What I am getting at is that I am fairly sure that in some way Gunnersaurus contravenes my human rights.

  168. mickydidit89 says:

    Even my ten year old finds that bloody dinasour utterly pathetic, which begs the question, exactly how many two year old’s attend games?

  169. Rasp says:

    Morning all….

    …….New post

  170. how to deal with a stink bug infestation…

    […]The U-Turn Wenger Must Make « Arsenal Arsenal[…]…

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