Work in progress – Arsenal go marching on

We won. Chelsea didn’t. Man City didn’t. Man United didn’t. We did, and that’s the important bit, especially bearing in mind that we had nine injured players and (with the North London Derby coming up) only five genuine first choice players were in the starting XI.

The performance wasn’t the best, but neither was it the worst.  In ignorance, many of us assumed that the champions of Greece would be cannon fodder but by half-time it was clear that our opponents were no mugs. Olympiacos were a well organised, fit and energetic side, with a few dangerous players. They were often the better team in the first half, but the difference between the two sides was the quality of our finishing in the first half and the development of solidity at the back and better ball retention for Arsenal by the second half. The game was very open in the first half, worryingly so at times, since Olympiacos were able to drive into space on the break. We gave plenty of openings to our opponents, whose energy was best exemplified by Mirallas, who made Sagna’s evening a very uncomfortable one.

Both our goals came against the run of play, but came when we transitioned the ball quickly to the front third. The genesis of the first was a bit strange: Oxlade-Chamberlain had possession over on the wing, and decided to sweep a long pass back to Song, who was on the halfway line. Song then looked for the options, and saw Oxlade-Chamberlain had cut inside the Olympiacos right-back and was on a run toward the penalty area. Song pinged the ball back to the Ox with a long aerial pass, the youngster took the ball in his stride confidently, worked it across the penalty area, and efficiently shot back across the goal and through Mellberg’s legs.

The second goal came shortly after, when Santos was put through by efficient combination play from Rosicky and Arshavin; Santos then tried to cross it to Chamakh, but the ball was intercepted. Had it been Clichy, he would have panicked on receiving the ball in that situation and the chance would have been frittered away. But Santos is no fool, he just cut in and took an early right-foot shot that caught the keeper out at the near post.

Olympiacos’s goal came just a little bit later, and was outrageously simple; for two opponents to be able to bring the ball from a corner into the penalty area with barely a challenge made really is unforgivable. And then for Fuster to be able head the ball unchallenged from the penalty spot is very, very poor.  The decision has been taken to switch to zonal marking – fair enough, many pros say it is the better way to defend, and any change in system needs to bed down. But it needs to, and quickly.

In the second half, we exerted our control over proceedings far more effectively. The game became tighter and we became more efficient with and without the ball. We didn’t play with verve but the threat from Olympiacos ebbed away, and we were deserved victors by the end. The only exception to that was when Torosides had a great looping shot that beat Szczesny but clattered against the cross-bar. But that was Olympiacos’s only real chance in the second half, with the Arsenal defence finding itself during the course of the game.  By the end, it was clear that Mertesacker and Song were enjoying their partnership, and Santos showed a wizened way about him.  He knows how to use his body to best effect when contesting possession, and he understands how to anticipate what his opponent is going to do. There are no guarantees Santos will be a success story but those who wrote him off after his first game or two for us should hang their heads in shame.

My marks for the evening:

Szczesny: 7 Did nothing wrong, and made a lovely finger tip save in the first half.  He couldn’t do anything for the goal, when he was criminally exposed by his defence.

Sagna: 4 Constantly bullied, especially by Mirallas, and made several bad decisions while in possession.  Even accounting for the poor cover he got from Arshavin, Sagna’s performance was very disappointing. Perhaps my mark is a bit harsh, but I rate Sagna highly and expect much better from him than this.

Mertesacker: 7 Reads the game so well, he can intercept the ball or break up the play higher up the pitch than one might expect, and with someone like Song to mop up if anything does get through, it does work. The BFG is growing into his role with us, a pleasure to see that.

Song: 7 By the end, an excellent performance from Song, who showed he hasn’t forgotten how to play at CB. He also got an assist for Oxlade-Chamberlain’s goal.

Santos: 7 Lovely to see him score on his home debut, and it was a very mature goal, the result of a steady head. His defending was similarly mature, and the only time we were threatened on his flank was when Torosides swung a leg from distance and almost struck gold.

Frimpong: 5 Had his moments but was often caught out positionally, and for all his huff and puff, he had insufficient impact on Olympiacos.

Arteta: 5 Tried to keep the ball moving and he made some good passes, but Arteta was unable to impose himself on the game. He does offer better set piece delivery than we’ve become used to from Fabregas and van Persie. He also made a crucial goal-line clearance in the first half.

Oxlade-Chamberlain: 7 Slightly lucky for goal as it ricocheted off a defender back to him after a heavy touch, but he did brilliantly well to create the opening and finish it off. The boy has oodles of talent, and more than that, he plays without fear. He’s not intimidated by being crowded by opponents and he’s willing to take them on. The Ox was paid the ultimate compliment when Holebas took him out and was booked, and Holebas should have had a second yellow later on, when Ox killed him for pace, but the referee somehow managed not to see an obvious foul.

Rosicky: 4 Worked hard but to little effect. Had a chance of a shot when laid on by Arshavin but declined, and the opportunity was lost. He did however play a crucial part in the second goal.

Arshavin: 5 Not an athlete, never has been, but that deficiency is showing more now, and it’s not off-set by as many moments of brilliance. But Arshavin was wrongly called offside in first half when would have been through one-on-one. And he brilliantly carved open Olympiacos’s defence with a chipped through ball to Chamakh, who then dragged his shot wide. He also hit the bar with a cross that was wrongly adjudged to have gone out. But he still failed to offer anything consistent, and truth be told, we need more from him.

Chamakh: 5 He had a couple of good chances, and he should have done better with both. But he worked harder than usual (according to the Sky TV caption as he was subbed, Chamakh ran 8.7km as against the team average at 70 minutes of 7.8km). He also created a great chance for Oxlade-Chamberlain in the second half with a defence-splitting pass but AOC shot at the keeper. Chalamkh is rock-bottom in terms of confidence and he’s not streetwise, missing the chance to earn free-kicks when defenders are too tight to him. Crucially, he just doesn’t hunt down the chances to attack the ball in the box. That is his main job, for all of his running.


Ramsey: Didn’t impress during his time on the pitch, and with Wilshere now out for so long, we will need Ramsey to step up.

van Persie: Didn’t get a lot of service but also didn’t do much when he did get it.

Gibbs: Did pretty well during his short time on the pitch.

So, all in all, it was ok, but we remain a work in progress. Much of the midfield was huff and puff without end-product tonight, but they can and will do better. We’re on course in the Champions’ League, despite having been drawn in a tough group. Like all competitions this season, the CL is going to be a hard slog, but the second half defensive performance and Oxlade-Chamberlain made this a night that was net positive.

Written by 26may1989


134 Responses to Work in progress – Arsenal go marching on

  1. pat says:

    Yeah Sags had a bad day at the office – caught too far up the pitch… very positive though for the new boys getting a goal each and more importantly we won….

    Great post – especially emphasizing right out of the gate that no other EPL team got a victory in the CL this week!

  2. London says:

    A very good match report 26, if I may say, summarised perfectly.

    BFG: this made me howl, if these initials mean what I think they mean.

  3. Red Arse says:

    Morning 26, 🙂

    Let me say from the git go, with apologies to our other ace post match reporters, that I think you should write them all in the future.

    The writing really took me thru’ the game in an eloquent and elapsed time style that immediately brought memories of the game back to light in a sequentially accurate way.

    As an aside, the phrases – “when we transitioned the ball quickly to the front third.” and “The genesis of the first was a bit strange” – are particularly eye catching and apt.

    The scoring of individual performances was not done thru’ rose tinted glasses, but was a fair and balanced assessment with which I wholly concur. (You will be blasted for it I suspect) 🙂

    Excellent 26, and without for one moment forgetting it was an enjoyably open match, with many of our first team regulars absent, and that it was a great win, you have managed to concisely sum up the good and the less good admirably. Kudos my friend! 🙂

  4. Red Arse says:

    London, BFG = Big Effing German! 🙂

  5. Mik says:

    I think that Chamakh didn’t do too bad. And if you watch the replay carefully you can see Chamakh holding back three defenders to make space for Chamberlains goal. It’s a shame that he doesn’t get any credit for his work.

  6. Nsikak says:

    I beg to differ wit you about the impact ramsey made,i think he stabilised the game abit when he came in and was even a candidate for a goal had rvp or gibbs passed d ball 2 him during one of the breaks he initiated

  7. TotalArsenal says:

    26, thanks for a great and well-balanced match report. The title is spot on and you are right in saying that this Olympiacos were no mugs.

    By scoring our 3 midfielders (Frimmpong, Arteta and Rosicky) as low as you do (a 5 or less), you indicate where our real problems were last night. We were not able to dominate the midfield area once again, and without that Arsenal will struggle. 2nd half defensive performance was great though, and I am glad to see that you recognised that by your relatively high scores for Mertesacker and Song. Arteta deserved a higher score in my view: he is a real fighter and compared tot the lacklustre performances of the Citeh midfielders on Tuesday, I will take him anytime.

    Song was my man of the match by a mile yesterday, and BR and others are right in saying that we need him back in midfield asap. If we can play Arteta, Song and Ramsey – injuries permitting – at WHL we should be ok.


    Good post 26.

    I was delighted with last nights performance. When you consider the midfield comprised of 2 inexperienced players, 2 players that some say have shot there bolt, and Arteta who is still bedding in, to win a champions league game is not to be scoffed at.

  9. kelsey says:


    I make your ratings spot on except Sagna a 4 is a bit low.he didn’t have the best of games but then he had a whole new crew working with him.
    Arshavin is arshavin and has played like this for over a season the one memorable moment was the winner against barca.he is a cheeky chappy and i honestly think he doesn’t care a toss if he stays or leaves this season and remember he is one of the highest paid in the squad. in a winning team with confidence he is good to bring on,but as a luxury player,but at this moment of time we can’t afford luxuries.
    I wonder if bendtner and Wenger hadn’t had some sort of disagreement or Wenger just didn’t like Nic’s huge ego if in fact he would have stayed and chamakh shipped out be it on loan or sold.nic was invariably played on the wing but has more ability than chamakh who i really now believe is just not good enough as a supposed striker.
    Sometimes in a game you may get one gift of a chance and it has to be taken more often than not.Yes he can head a ball, but i need a lot more convincing that he is an asset as a goal scorer for the team, because surely that is his main function for being in the team.

  10. 5'4 Gooner says:

    Good three points well done boys.However a section of the Media are still not happy.United shipped in three goals in 16 mins but no mention of them.Sick of these fickle twats called journos.see below for link from the guardian.

    Arsène Wenger will take what he can get at present. This narrow victory over arguably the poorest team in Arsenal’s Champions League group sufficed to keep the wolves from the door for another day, although it did little to portray the club as credible contenders.

    There was anxiety until the final whistle, as Arsenal made light of a position of early strength to put their supporters through the wringer. Match tickets here ought to come with beta blockers and, on this evidence, there will surely be apprehension ahead of the derby at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

    Wenger’s makeshift defence, which had the midfielder Alex Song pressed into its heart, failed to convince and Olympiakos were left to wonder what might have been had they taken some of their chances. On more than one occasion, they were left to ponder how Wojciech Szczesny’s net had not swelled.

    Arsenal, though, played up the positives, which included the goals for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and André Santos, together with the form of Szczesny, but, chiefly, took in the primacy of the result. This was a third consecutive victory, following those over Shrewsbury Town in the Carling Cup and Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League. Wenger has always said that confidence evaporates quickly and must be rebuilt slowly. It feels painstaking at the moment.

    The manager suffered in the stands, as he served the final match of his touchline ban but he and his players took plenty of solace from a glance at the Group F table, with daylight having emerged between themselves in second and Borussia Dortmund in third. The ties against the leaders, Marseille, now loom large.

    Olympiakos had arrived with such a dismal record on their travels in England that it was worth printing: P9 L9 GF1 GA29. They played well, with pace on the counter and in wide areas, but this Arsenal team have the ability to make almost any opposition look threatening.

    Pat Rice, Wenger’s assistant, admitted Arsenal had lost their way in the first half but their wobbles ran deeper. David Fuster had blown a presentable early chance for the visitors and Rafik Djebbour had been denied by a goalline clearance by Mikel Arteta on 14 minutes, which earned the Spaniard the dubious delight of a smacker from Szczesny. Djebbour put the rebound into the side netting.

    Arsenal had drawn first blood to hint at a calmer evening. Early goals in these nervous times feel priceless and it was a moment that Oxlade-Chamberlain, on his Champions League debut, will remember forever.

    The 18-year-old took a flighted pass from Song and he skated in from the right, across the edge of the penalty area. His first touch had been assured and his determination bought him a break off the hapless Iván Marcano. When the shooting opportunity presented itself, he remained composed to cut a low left-footed effort through Olof Mellberg’s legs and into the bottom corner.

    Wenger, who used Robin van Persie and Aaron Ramsey only as late substitutes, was out of his seat again when Santos scored his first goal for the club. Rosicky released the Brazil left-back after neat interplay and he crossed for Marouane Chamakh, who could not get there. Never mind. When the ball came back to Santos, he got a break off Marcano and exposed the goalkeeper, Franco Costanzo, at the near post.

    In times gone by, that would have been the end of the matter but there is a brittleness about Wenger’s current crop. Fuster’s goal was a shambles from an Arsenal point of view. They were caught cold by a short corner and when Ariel Ibagaza crossed, the midfielder got up in yards of space to thump his header home.

    Chamakh had snatched at an excellent chance moments earlier, from Andrey Arshavin’s chip, and Arsenal were second best for the remainder of the half, their defending marked by disorder and desperation. Szczesny needed to be sharp and Rosicky’s hack at Kevin Mirallas on the edge of the area, which earned him a booking, summed up the anxiety.

    Olympiakos’s defending was hardly of the bolted door variety, either, and the neutral would have enjoyed the helter‑skelter entertainment. Oxlade-Chamberlain might have scored again when he ran on to a throughball from the otherwise frustrating Chamakh yet his touch deserted him and Costanzo blocked. Arshavin would also force the goalkeeper to save.

    The game did become tighter as it wore on but nobody in Arsenal colours could relax, least of all Wenger. As the travelling supporters bounced as one, their team probed and the moment that might have placed another dent in Arsenal’s season came in the 64th minute.

    The right-back Vassilis Torosidis showed that he could centre with menace but his curling left‑footed shot from 25 yards almost got the Greek champions a result. With Szczesny beaten, the ball crashed against the crossbar. Arsenal edged home by the slenderest of margins.
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  11. Gooner in Exile says:

    First up some comments on the tail end of yesterday’s post.

    That TV commentator saying we couldn’t keep possession for 5 passes or more was probably one who used to say we passed too much, I’d say the reason behind the lack of keep ball was because Arteta, Rosicky and others were actually trying to move the ball forward rather than pick the easy sideways pass.

    Frimpong looked out of position but I really think anyone who thinks that was all about him isn’t watching the problems in front of him. Apparently in places some have written Ox off as another Theo and commenting that he lost possession too often. The mind boggles that an 18 year old can be criticised after what I thought was a positive CL debut.

    Regarding the defence I thought we were solid in the back four. And I wouldn’t call Santos overweight I’d call him solid, for me the BFG had a cracking game last night, proper defending bit never looked worried or overstretched.

    Have just heard on TS that United have allowed the most shots on their goal in the PL (85 shots).

    Right match reportage from our resident lawyer to read.

  12. Red Arse says:


    I was about to compliment you on a professional, well written detailed match report, until reaching the end I saw it was a well written, professional match report from a journo. 🙂

    Anyway it was interesting. Thanks.

  13. Red Arse says:

    GIE, 🙂

    I have just read last night’s post match comments, which showed somewhat split opinions to put it mildly.

    Your ‘man on the ground’ report then, and again this morning as well as Harry’s show an ‘at the ground’ and an armchair TV viewing can vary opinions widely.

    My view probably echoes yours. Good game; some problems because of absences; but a win nonetheless and causes for optimism.

    My main difference with what you saw, concerns Arteta.
    Far from trying to move the ball forward, he (and others) too often seemed to pass back to Chezzer, resulting in a big kick upfield back to the O’s defence.

    It’s all perceptions, I suppose, which is why it is commonly accepted that witnesses to criminal acts often report seeing different things to the police, and why such ‘evidence’ is often tainted.

    Anyway, well done to you! 🙂

  14. Gooner in Exile says:

    Nice report 26 I disagree on some of the ratings, but they are subjective.

    In fairness you have summed up the match, most importantly a win as you say not achieved by others.

    Sunday does hold some concern but hey it will be what it will be, it’s going to be a rollercoaster season, I’m looking forward to it.

  15. Rasp says:

    Excellent match report 26m. My subjective ‘assessment’ would have given Chamakh a 4 and Arteta a 6 as I could see what Arteta was trying to do even though he didn’t have the options to succeed a lot of the time.

    A midfield of Gervinho, Ramsey, Arteta, Song and Theo is the best we can conjure at the moment and should be able to deal with totnum.

    Arteta is playing the Arsenal Cesc role – Barca play Cesc higher up the pitch which I’m sure he prefers and I’m sure Arteta would prefer too, but our defensive frailty means he, like Cesc is required to do more defending.

  16. Gooner in Exile says:

    RA I thought when we kept possession (and needed to) yesArteta looked back to Sz, but that was earning applause where I was, it was taking the sting out and giving us time to regroup.

    I think it’s clear that even sitting in different places you see different things. I thought Ramsey was great when he came on, and injected some pace but was let down by tired legs around him.


    Last nights performance was a vindication of Arsene wengers philosophy. As i alluded to earlier, considering the midfield we had out it was a very good performance. We have had our heart ripped out this summer with the loss of our captain, RA”s knobling of Jack because he parked to close to his car, and that bloke who went to City for money, yet we continue to strive to play wengerball and stick to our principles. With a couple of additions to the squad in January we could go close to silverware this year.

    The frustrating thing about all of this is that there are 5 clubs out there who can afford much higher wages and therefore steal our players. I must admit, it crossed my mind whilst watching young OX, that if he fulfills his vast potential, will he be lured away and produce his best football elsewere?

  18. 5'4 Gooner says:

    Theo has to up his game or else he end up been an Oxcart for the OX.

  19. 26may1989 says:

    Morning chums.

    Thanks for the kind words, they are being printed, framed and put on my wall as we speak……

    BFG: Big Friendly Giant (after Mr Dahl) or Big Fucking German (per Mr Arse), take your pick, both work for that lovely lanky streak from Deutschland. I know which one I prefer….

    The comments in defence of the likes of Sagna, Chamakh and Ramsey are fair enough, but as Kelsey observed, last night did underline that our midfield was weaker than we’d like. It’ll be better on Sunday but there remain issues, principally whether we can flourish when we’ve replaced Fabregas the Gifted Artist with Arteta the Talented Artisan.

    Plenty of us remain concerned about the striker back-up to van Persie. There are points to be made in Chamakh’s defence but it’s been almost a year since he played really well for us. Park may pull up trees, but we can’t bank on it.

    As for the meaning of last night’s game for Sunday, I was pleased that Wenger rested some key players. Bizarrely, given this season’s events, I feel pretty confident about the defensive unit’s ability, the question being whether they can cope with an in-form and hungry Adebayor (I’m optimistic). But this NLD is going to be a tough one. It’ll also be a good opportunity for our players to show they are building the cohesion that any good team needs.

  20. 26may1989 says:

    By the way, the most disappointing moment for me last night was when Gibbs was brought on. No offence to the lad, I like him, but up to that point the 13 players who’d been fielded on our side were of 13 different nationalities. Then on came on Kieran and spoiled things by being the second Englishman on the pitch.

    Priorities 26, priorities. 🙂

  21. 26may1989 says:

    See this one if you fancy a laugh:

    (And if that link doesn’t work, go to the usually superb youtube collection on The Guardian’s footballunlimited site.)

  22. JayNut says:

    Should be a stroll on Sunday after watching that, Olympiakos are no mug according to the journalist, right!!! they are a poor side very poor, Arsenal being equally as bad made them look alot better.

    I guess Yakubu is a great striker now that he scored 2 goals against your team.

    On Sunday when you come up against proper players like Adebayor, Parker, Modric, Van Der Vaart, Sandro and Bale then we will see how your crap defence deals with it, if Man Utd put 8 past you we will get at least 6, mark my words…….this is your second serious game of the season where you come up against good players.

    I wouldnt watch it if I were you guys

  23. kelsey says:


    You can’t expect old Pat to remember everything.he must have forgotten Gibbs was English Wenger will rollock him for sure 🙂

  24. kelsey says:

    JayNut could you kindly elaborate that Adebayor is a proper player.

    Spur’s new role model is he ?

    Van Der Vaart he was omitted from that European competition that you are playing in.

    Parker a relegated team’s reject.

    When you qualify for the CL in as many consecutive seasons as we have and possibly or remotely get in touching distance of winning the league then you can crush your own nuts.

  25. 26may1989 says:

    Hi JayNut

    You’re right, Sunday will be a tough one for us. But it’ll be no stroll for Spurs either.

    Adebayor is the one I fear – ultimately, it’ll end in tears for him and Spurs, just as it does everywhere he goes, but he’s motivated right now, and that makes him dangerous. But Song, the BFG and Koscielny could be too much for him – we’ll see.

    With Dawson and Gallas out, attacking Spurs is going to be easier, but truth be told, these are two evenly matched sides. I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends 0-0.

    Anyway, enjoy it on Sunday. But not too much….. 🙂

  26. 26may1989 says:

    By the way JayNut, best of luck in your match tonight. Who’s the oppo again?

    Oh yes, Shamrock Rovers!!!!!


  27. Gooner in Exile says:

    Can’t believe a Spurs Fan is on an Arsenal blog this early before the game. Oh well, let’s see how those world class players fair against our awful dross on Sunday.

  28. Red Arse says:


    I re-read the comment I wrote earlier, and it did not quite convey the meaning I intended.

    I had no problem with Arteta, I thought he was OK. What I meant was in reference to your ‘passing forward’ comment.

    Because there was a lack of movement between the other players, TR, Pingpong, Chamakh, and AA, who were not ‘showing ‘ for the ball, Arteta was forced, out of necessity, to play it back to the ‘Keeper far too often.

    That’s how it looked on the TV to me, and I was trying to highlight the slight differences between what you reported from the ground and what I saw via the TV.

    Sorry for the confusion. 🙂

  29. tomstoned says:

    26may mate..

    excellent post,and spot on….work in progress…;if we can accept the fact that The Arsenal is just that a work in progress,maybe all Gooners can find some common ground….
    but we should be well adviced to remember that in the months to come it will be an uphill battle…if we can just be within a firing distance to fourth place come jan.we might get fourth..that would be a fantastic result this year,and in accepting that fact.,i also have to admit that Our squad this year is the weakest we have had in years,but we better get used to it…its The New Arsenal way im afraid…..content being second best…

  30. Red Arse says:

    JayNuts, or may I forget the formalities and just call you Nuts?

    Remind me, where did the Spuds finish last year, by comparison to the mighty Gunners.

    Oh, and by the way, why not remind me where you finished in comparison to the Famous Footballing Arsenal in; 2009, 08, 07, 06, 05, 04, 03, 02, 01, 2000, 1999, 98, 97, 96, – that will do to be going on with.

  31. Red Arse says:


    I do not know if you saw the AW interview before the game, or not?

    He admitted the gap between Arsenal and the super rich clubs was growing. He went on to say that our salary structure could not compete with them either, and he feared that it was becoming difficult to see how we will keep our top players.

    Asked about the FFP rules (did you see this 26?) he said if the rules came into play, we and Manyoo were well placed to compete with the super rich clubs.
    He went on to say he was less optimistic this year than last that the FFP would be implemented or be effective, because Platini had admitted UEFA were scared of being sued by any club caught in the regulations.

    Not promising for the future well being of our club or football in general, I am afraid.

  32. Ruel Carvey says:

    The totts are going to have a tough match Arsenal have a thing to prove so they will be ready, we are getting in the grove even with our injuries. On the match not our best performance but we have 3 points, and room for improvement.
    There are still 30 and more games to go , so nobody has won the league has yet, so all the predictors can continue predicting and i will watch you continue to change your guess as the team continues to grow.

  33. oz gunner says:

    great report 26, expected a good report being you and you delivered.

    i do however disagree with your comments on ramsey, i thought he brought a great energy into the game, and our midfield went up a notch when he came on. Wilshere, Ramsey, and Song wow i can’t wait to see that.

    Song was immense last night, when coq or frimpong improve he could become a very good CB for us, in saying that though his passing game has improved 10-fold, and his shot the other day was perfectly executed.

    God (dennis) to all those people who said ‘the worlds number 1 keeper’ was egotisitcal like bendtner when he asking for game time ect ect are eating there words. i’ve dreamt about having a keeper who could win matches for years and years, and we have one FINALLY! Is there any chance we can get this kid on a 15 year contract post haste, i feel like crying every time i see him make a save because after almunia he’s like an arsenal angel!

  34. Gooner in Exile says:

    RA I agree I think, he always looked to pass forward first, much as Wilshere does, but as you say the options were limited and rather than sacrificing possession tried to keep it instead.

    I want to comment on BFG again, for me he and Song were our Men of the Match, closely followed by Santos. Song seemed to have so much time at the back as he had no obligation to support forward play, this resulted in him getting in position early and because of his height provided a good solid CB pairing. Merts for me was MotM just because of the efficiency with which he snuffed out attacks and the fact that he cleared his lines when necessary.

  35. tomstoned says:

    Red Arse
    Yes i watched it and do agree,maybe we will have to get used to playing second fiddle..but to accept that as a fact would mean there is nothing left Red Arse,that fact would kill my love for The Arsenal and the game in particular…
    Still i do wonder where does Our money go Red Arse ?..we pay the highest ticket prices in the world,we have one of the most modern stadiums in the world,we sell more players than most clubs,

    solution:if the FFP rules are not worth the paper it is written on,well then we should stop being naive and get Usmanov in asap,send the americans back to wherever they came from including g/nazidis;….have a good look at the board,and if Usmanov gets in im sure the board will get a much needed shake up(one of the reasons why hilly woody and the board went for kroenke i believe was the knowledge that there would be no safe place if Usmanov bought the club)i would like to see Dein back…im getting more and more upset over the fact that Lady Bracewell’s hand was forced when selliing Her shares….that i feel was nothin less than a daylight robbery by the yanks…for that i would hang em high ;..

    one thing that i cant come we are run like villa-everton and those teams,we should be able financially to be on another level..even though right now that isnt happening…

  36. Red Arse says:


    I have always been a little cynical about the FFP rules but to hear AW confirm my own worries did come as a shock, and especially his comments about being unable to compete even with salaries.

    It is not Arsenal’s fault that football has come to such a pass, and to be honest I do not see any easy answer.

    I do not want to be 2nd best, but I am not in favour of Arsenal becoming yet another rich man’s toy either.

    In short — I think we will rapidly find ourselves between a hard rock and ……. another hard rock! Bollix!!

  37. Work in progress is a very apt description of the current Arsenal team.

    In the past Arsene Wenger has stated that the maximum number of players that could be assimilated into a squad at one time was three. This time around the signing of nine new players, Jenkinson, Meretesacker, Santos, Arteta, Benayoun, Gervinho, Ju-Young Park, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Myachi together with the reintroduction of Frimpong, was enough to cause a major disruption even without the loss of F******s, Na£ri, Bendtner and Eboue. Last nights defensive combination was yet another mix-and-match, forced in part by the unavailability of Koscielny, I don’t think the same back four has started in any games so far this season. The midfield was disrupted by the move of Song back into defence and the unavailability of Benayoun, as for the forwards Oxlade-Chamberlain and Chamakh represent another untried combination.

    Having said all of that I feel that Arsenal did extremely well to overcome an Olympiakos side grossly underrated by the “experts” in the media.

    Once the new players are bedded in and learn to work together I think that we can feel cautiously optimistic about the rest of the season. The return, from injury, of Vermaelen will be an added bonus as will Wilshires eventual return (like a new signing).

    The one caveat I have is that the constant tinkering with personnel and formations must be limited as much as possible particularly in the back four.

  38. gunnern5 says:


    The “rock and a hard place” has already arrived, it’s just us loyalists that we are still in denial.

  39. gunnern5 says:

    What is undeniable is the fact that we have a team that is weaker than any team since we finished 12th in 1994/5.

    It’s obvious that we have a lot of young talent but we no longer have the battle hardened veterans to mentor them on the pitch during a game.

    Since PV4 left we have not had a general on the field and we have heard on countless occasions that every player is a captain – well the proof of that is still to be seen.

    My hope for the season and the short term remains that we do not go back to being a mediocre mid-table team, but nothing that I’ve seen this season gives me any hope that mediocrity will not become a reality.

    Sad to write that and I hope I’m 100% wrong – but………………

  40. gunnern5 says:

    My post at 1:43 pm should have read

    The “rock and a hard place has already arrived” I’ts just that us loyalists are still in denial.

  41. RockyLives says:

    Excellent report 26.
    I would give Rosicky a 6 (but his performance seems to have been viewed completely differently by different people, so I understand that you are probably in the mainstream with a 4.
    Also, I would have given 6 to Arteta and Chamakh. It’s true we didn’t boss midfield (at least until the second half) but that was partly down to the absence of Song and to Frimpong’s inexperience (Arteta certainly made a much more important and positive contribution than Frimpong, which is not to write off the lad as I’m sure he will come good).
    Chamakh’s 6 is for workrate and for some very good moments. I’m not ready to give up on him yet.

    My biggest concern on the night was how we gave away the goal. To be sleeping and not even notice the opposition taking a quick short corner is rank amateur. I really hope there were some bollockings dished out for that at half time. Part of our problems since February has been consistently giving away goals through carelessness and that was another prime example. We just have to cut it out.

  42. RockyLives says:

    “What is undeniable is the fact that we have a team that is weaker than any team since we finished 12th in 1994/5.”

    I hope you don’t mind, but I would like to deny it. I would say our current team is POTENTIALLY better than… let’s see… the spineless bunch of bottlers who collapsed like a soggy souffle in the second half of last season.

    Despite the individual merits of the players in that team, collectively they became infected with a losing virus. When the going got tough, our lot wilted. The only way to cure that sort of infection is surgery and that’s exactly what AW did in the summer.

    It’s why I expect us to be more likely to win something without Cesc than we were with him.

    Battle hardened veterans? Mertesacker, Arteta, Benayoun, Santos… I definitely think we’re stronger in that department.

  43. Gunnern5,

    I can’t agree, the battle hardened veterans are there, if you look at Meretesacker, Santos, Song, Arteta and van Persie we have a very strong and experienced spine. Add to that a very fine ‘keeper and you will see the basis of a strong side. I feel that Meretesacker will prove to be a tower of strenghth at the back, a future partnership between him and a fit Vermaelen is mouhwatering in prospect.

    Cheer up Gunnern5, have faith, give them a chance.

  44. gunnern5 says:


    Your group of battle hardened vets have the combined experience of about 12 games for Arsenal between them.

    I’m talking the likes of Adams, Bould, Dixon, Keown who would be giving our “potential: a swift kick up the arse.

    Tell me when potential has won anything?

    We’ve had better potential in the past six seasons – how far did that get us?

  45. gunnern5 says:


    My depth of my faith in everything Arsenal is never ending, but that does not blind my realism………….

  46. RockyLives says:

    They’re still battle-hardened vets (as opposed to the opposite which would be, I suppose, inexperienced youths). The fact that they have not played at the Arsenal for the past five years does not mean they don’t bring their experience and knowhow to our team. Who’s to say they’re not delivering kicks up the arse? We certainly defended a lot better in the second half, so some sort of message was firmly delivered.

    I really, really do feel that this squad, while lacking a bit of the ‘glitter’ of last year’s one, will turn out to be more competitive (because of the extra experience we’ve brought in, but also because we’ve shipped out the main culprits in the ‘fragile mentality’ stakes).

    All that glitters is not gold.

  47. RockyLives says:

    Also, you have answered your own point about ‘potential’. That’s what we’ve built our hopes on for several years, only to be let down.

    By bringing in greater experience, we’re going for known quantity players, not ‘potentials’.

  48. Rocky you beat me by a minute.


    Adams ,Bould, Dixon and Keown didn’t spring fully grown from an egg. They evolved over time. The very experienced players mentioned above will soon help the youngsters to amalgamate. You’ll see!

  49. tomstoned says:


    i could agree with you, except for the fact that wenger didnt buy this summer mate he bought AFTER the season had started.not only strange way to do it,but a silly thing to do really,,poor management…(if not the americans supervised by n(g)nazidis are ripping us off)wenger did some very strange things this summer…from saying he would buy early,denying cesc the ingrate would leave and all the mess around nazri’s situation…
    i cant believe wenger is to blame for all that mess…but something happened ..

  50. RockyLives says:

    I agree that our transfer activity was odd and can’t be said to have been well handled. And as you say, we don’t really know who was most to blame.

    But I was taking my view of our squad based on where we are now rather than on how we got here. Regardless of whether it was AW’s master plan all along to buy a bunch of players just before the window closed (I sincerely hope not!) or whether he was forced into panic buying after the OT mauling, the point is that, either by luck or design, I now feel we have a more competitive squad than last year’s.

  51. tomstoned says:


    i dont want to seem to negative mate,and i agree the squad is better off in some departments,but now we lack quality,or lack ?..i think Jack is the man…we need to buy a true striker…

    and since we’re always getting raped by the media..this read was a refreshment….not sure if links are allowed ?..if not i will not do it again:)

  52. kelsey says:


    you obviously don’t read all my comments 🙂 I mentioned the Wenger interview last night on here and the emphatic NO when asked if Arsenal could compete on wages told us everything we needed to know, though we all knew that in any case.

    My thoughts turn to kroenke. I wonder if he is in it long haul or not.If we have a bad season as most are predicting does he invest or even in fact if we have a good season the same question applies.
    i love a good theory and though we got rid of the few mercenaries and the cesc saga everyone knew the outcome, you have to put yourself in the place of the more senior and better players left in the squad.I honestly believe that besides being payed very well they want players of equal or better quality to supplement their talents. That seems reasonable to me.

    however if the scenario is that say RVP for an example talks to Wenger and he (Wenger) tells him that we just can’t afford these type of players and of course how many ever become available, RVP and others will have doubts in their minds about staying at the club.
    If on the other hand the new players gel, and in Wenger’s own words that usually takes 6 months, and players like ramsey,Ox and Frimpong get playing time and improve and we make one or two quality signings in January the whole picture may change. .

  53. RockyLives says:

    I don’t think you’re negative. We are undoubtedly at a delicate point and it could go either way.

    Losing Jack for so long is a big blow but we have the MF resources to do OK until he returns. However, like you, I think the one area we might really need to strengthen is attack. We could do with another top quality striker in January so we’re less dependent on Prince Robin.

  54. RockyLives says:

    Good article Tom. It shows a bit more perspective than some of the other rubbish that’s been written.

    As 26 says, only one English team won its CL game this week. You’d think we’d get a bit more credit.

  55. Red Arse says:

    Hi Rocky, LG, GN5 and of course Kelsey, 🙂

    Sorry guys. You have obviously enjoyed a bit of chat as a consequence of my using a rock and a hard place re the FFP rules.

    Actually, although your arguments are valid (dependent on your particular take) but I was not talking about the current team really – well not at all. 🙂

    My comment referred to the future prospects for Arsenal based on what Arsene said.

    In a nutshell he said;
    1) He was not optimistic the FFP would address the disgusting financial imbalance between the super rich clubs and the rest;
    2) As things stand we will not be able to compete for the best players in the transfer windows;
    3) keeping our current players when their contracts come up for renewal will become almost impossible a la Nasri.

    My comment referred to the crap options left open to us;
    a) A terminal spiral into mid-table mediocrity, leaving Citeh, the Chavs and Manyoo to fight for the trophies, or
    b) Hope for a very rich sugar daddy to pump big dough into our club a la Abramovichto.

    The rock and hard place quote referred to those choices, both of which I find repugnant!

    GN5, if you meant that Option a) the mid-table mediocrity is already here, I am afraid I cannot agree with you.

    Within a year or two things could have moved that way, and certainly AW’s sobering words brought that home like a kipper in the kisser.

    (What is this thing with kippers?) yeuk! 🙂


    We wil get better and better as the weeks go by. Were we will finish this season is any ones guess but i expect us to there and there abouts the leaders come May. There are 3 clubs we can not (at present) compete with in terms of wages, and we all know that. I for one will not cry over this fact. We still have a wage bill that dwarfs most in the premeirship (including Tottenham by the way), a great manager, resources to dip into the transfer market come January, bags of talent,decreasing debt, future revenue streams, and a way of playing the game that can produce results as well as entertain.

    When we gripe about lack of resources etc people from other clubs find it laughable, and rightly so. Lets get one thing clear, we are not hard done by, and nor are we in some sort of crises or downward spiral. Results in the near future will vindicate this.


    Just like to add that i wasn’t having a pop at any one, just think we should look at the positives now and again.

  58. TotalArsenal says:

    Terry, there are plenty of bloggers here who look at the positives (sometimes described as ‘Romantics’) and plenty who tend to see the glass less full, shall we say. It makes for good blogging, and the good thing is you are not alone 🙂

    I loved this:

    ‘Lets get one thing clear, we are not hard done by, and nor are we in some sort of crises or downward spiral. Results in the near future will vindicate this.’

    That’s the spirit!

  59. Big Raddy says:

    26. Super match report, so much better than that cobblers written in the Guardian – you have a natural talent for it though I guess lawyering pays better.

    TMHT. I am in your camp on this. We have a decent squad. How many teams could have won last night with 6 /7 first choice players out? Even some of our first choice replacements were missing Diaby, Koscielny, Ramsey etc.

    As to being in denial, well perhaps I am but until we are a mid-table team then I will continue to believe this team has the nuts to do well. As I wrote earlier, AW has bought Men for his new side and we expect them to make a difference

  60. Big Raddy says:

    Where is Evonne?

  61. California Gooner says:

    I’m coming into this conversation rather late, California being 8 hours behind the times and all, but to pick up on Total Arsenal’s 10:02 comment, it is quite obvious to me where the struggles lie. Besides from a comical (or would be comical if I didn’t care so much) lack of organization on corners, that is. Quite simply, we have lost Cesc, Nasri and Wilshire from last year, and the players who have replaced them, while all good, are slight downgrades. So, we move the ball more slowly and quite simply aren’t able to pass teams out of the game the way we have been used to seeing the last several years. All of the above players are exquisite at receiving the ball in a tight space and not loosing it. I look at Arteta and I see a very solid pro, better than most. But certainly, he does not receive a pass, shake the defender, and make a pass the way our maestro did… and I don’t think it’s just a matter of bedding in.

    That will all change of course… Alex OC looks like a brilliant #10 in the making; Wilshire will return, and Frimpong will push Song (who gets better and better himself) for the 3rd midfield position…

  62. Gooner in Exile says:

    All I’m saying is last time we saw Evonne was pre Carling Cup and meeting Micky.

    And to be honest his visits are few and far between since then as well.

    All I’m saying is Dartmoor Dungeon …

  63. Gooner in Exile says:

    Apparently Accounts will be published tomorrow, we will see some truth re transfers (even post YearEnd ones) hopefully RA has put some time to one side to digest and return from his self inflicted post embargo with a full analysis.

    There is one thing that concerns me about the anticipated future revenues, shirt deals will be open and even though we could lose Nike there is leverage. My bigger concern is the stadium name. By 2014 the name Emirates would be engraved on the mind of fans and commentators, does this restrict our ability to obtain a better deal going forward.

  64. Red Arse says:


    I think your positivity is commendable, and for me that sort of take always helps assuage sometimes groundless fears. Whereas, negative vibes can do the opposite and increase the old stress levels.

    I don’t think you intended to have a ‘pop’ at anyone (I like that word usage – very British) which is good because we don’t want AA to become the antithesis of LG by taking the moral high ground against anyone expressing their perfectly reasonable concerns, and condemning them for unwarranted negativism.

    AA is and should be a broad church able to accept and absorb bloggers with eclectic views without fear of discrimination.

    For instance, you and GLIC may be time machine eccentrics and follically challenged, but I like you! 🙂

  65. Red Arse says:


    Now you mention it, the absence of both Micky and Evonne is mysterious.

    But the same thing happened when she and 26 disappeared at the same time, after she said he was cuddly and cute, a bit like a Koala Bear.

    He eventually came back whistling and she acted all nonchalant.

    We had better watch out for Micky whistling then. 🙂

    After the last Accounts were published, both you and 26 did excellent analyses from different perspectives, and I could not possibly match those levels of expertise this time.

    I am looking forward to the man with the hottie and the other man with a penchant for superb post match reporting to repeat the analytical smorgasbord! 🙂 🙂

  66. Big Raddy says:

    GIE. You make a good point about the stadium name. IMO calling it anything other that The Arsenal – Stadium was nuts – it could have been The Arsenal Emirates which could then mutate to whichever sponsor we find ….. The Arsenal MotherCare Stadium has a ring to it ….

    You are right about the last time we saw Evonne. Those Devon Boys are notorious people smugglers …..

  67. TotalArsenal says:

    Chamakh oh Chamakh!
    Not scoring, yet winning still
    unveil your merit

  68. Big Raddy says:

    TA 5-7-5. Very nice, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could play that formation at WHL

  69. RockyLives says:

    Hello Redders
    This line just made me splurt out my tea: “He eventually came back whistling and she acted all nonchalant.” 😀

    But back to topics of greater moment…

    It is sad to hear AW’s prognostications, but I just can’t get too worked up about it. My view is you should worry about the things you can control, and not worry about the things you can’t.

    So, a truck hurtling towards me… I will jump out of the way.
    An asteroid hurtling towards earth… er, nowhere to jump to, no point worrying.

    Unless we get our own sugar daddy (which would end a certain kind of Arsenal tradition at a stroke) there’s nothing we can do about the likes of Citeh and the Chavs having bottomless pockets. But, as many have pointed out, they can’t buy everyone and AW has already shown himself capable of creating winning teams without splashing out big bucks.

    I don’t follow the logic that sees us become a mid table team. If we can’t compete financially with the top three, we are certainly the “best of the rest” in financial terms, so you’d think we would always be up there or there abouts…

  70. Fatgingergooner says:

    The whole Arshavin is lazy argument doesn’t sit with me. He is a flair player who’s job is to create and score goals. At the moment he is failing to fulfil this role adequately but if you look at his stats since joining Arsenal then you could claim that he’s not doing a bad job.

    If he was a central midfielder then I could understand the lazy argument but he’s not. Also, he has been known to sprint back on occasion and help Gibbs ie giving away that free kick against Blackburn.

    He has lost a yard of pace, but I don’t think he has developed his game to counteract this. He needs to become a smarter player without the ball. Standing on the touchline means he is always going to have to go past someone to create space. If he comes infield and uses the space between players then we could yet get the best out of him.

    Not sure if anyone is discussing AA as I haven’t really read the blog today but just wanted to get this point across!!!!

    Carry on! 🙂

  71. TotalArsenal says:

    BR 🙂

  72. Red Arse says:

    Ginge, 🙂

    I don’t think AA is lazy either. He is physically diminutive and cannot tackle for toffee, and his pace is beginning to desert him.

    I have a sneaking sympathy for him too, because like NicB before him he has been stuck out on the wing, when I think he would be better suited to being a ‘hole player’.


    I was just reporting Arsene’s interview, not worrying about hypothetical asteroids — what do you know that I don’t — and when is it going to hit? — hypothetically hit , obviously 🙂

    I was truly taken aback by AW’s resigned demeanour, he was clearly trying to be philosophical, but when asked a direct question ” can Arsenal compete in the transfer market?” he simply replied “no!”.

    You are, of course, correct in your pragmatic attitude in not worrying about what you cannot change.

    My take on that is – “If you don’t like something — change it; if you can’t change it — change the way you think!”
    I don’t know who first said it, but it is eminently sensible! 🙂

  73. Gooner in Exile says:

    FGG…..a spirited defence of our Russian. But here’s the thing, you cannot carry a flair player in the modern game. Look at Messi and look how much work he does getting the ball back. Take it back to last night Sagna looked poor,mainly because defensively Ox isn’t there yet and when Sagna joined in we were caught out on counters. Santos only supported AA23 when it was clear he had space to get into and get the ball. I put this down to the fact that he realised AA23 was not going to be filling in for him.

    Actually thinking about Santos his success (which is almost a given having seen him last night) allows Gibbs to be used as cover on left wing or centre midfield if need be.

  74. RockyLives says:

    Good advice Redders – I shall change the way I think.

    Tonight, for the first time, I will be dating a man…

  75. Herb'sArmy says:

    Hi all,
    the damning verdict for me is that we have a squad of players who don’t care anywhere near the level they should to represent their inflated wages. They certainly don’t share the passion of the fans.

  76. TotalArsenal says:

    Good point GiE, I was thinking the other day that if Arshavin had the heart and desire of Liverpool’s Kuyt, he could be almost as good as Messi. Arshavin is a Siberian tiger, where Messi is the ultimate, leader of the pack – werewolf.

    FGG, I like Arshavin as a sub on the bench, to come on and bring something extra, but to start with we need 11 hungry, fricking talented wolves 😀

  77. Herb'sArmy says:

    £15m for Arshavin to have two or three good games per season? No-where near good enough, but it encapsulates the whole culture currently under-mining the club.

  78. Red Arse says:

    Rocky, you cannot change that. 🙂

  79. Red Arse says:


    I have in the past had a moan about Clichy frequently standing in the CB’s shadow in the penalty area.

    Then Gibbs started to do it. Last night if you look at your recording, you will see that on three consecutive corners, Sagna left the back position and was standing pretty much on the penalty spot, so of course Oxo was marking 2 men and being hung out to dry.

    Not Oxo’s fault, at all. I do not claim to know about tactics and have often asked Wonderman for advice on why certain tactics are employed.

    For instance, all three of the backs I mentioned above have not just gone into the penalty area off their own bat, but must have been instructed to do so.


  80. RockyLives says:

    AA got 10 goals last season and 12 the season before.
    If we had a couple of other MFs chipping in with those sort of numbers we’d be well away.
    Also, I think he had the highest assists last year.

    I’m not saying he’s not frustrating, but he is more effective than he seems.

  81. Red Arse says:


    I think that Messi is not only fabulously talented, he is a supreme athlete – amazing given his problems with his stunted growth as a child.

    With or without heart (and I think Arsh does play with heart, personally) he could never be an athlete with the enormous stamina of Messi. Sorry. 🙂

  82. TotalArsenal says:

    RA, that is right: Messi has got everything.

  83. Herb'sArmy says:

    do you think he’d be able to breeze through life so effortlessly at any other top club? Not a chance!
    Not so long ago, when we had Vieira, Henry, Pires, Bergkamp, etc. they were hungry players who would die for the shirt, and put a shift in to prove it. Look at the hunger of Barcelona when they lose the ball. And as much as I hate saying it, Rooney’s work-rate is phenomenal. Where are those type currently masquerading in our shirt?

  84. Dandan says:

    Great post 26 thank you.

    I have enjoyed sitting back in recent times and watching the mood swings on AA. Some like GIE and TA remain steadfastly optimistic, whilst others, Tomstone and Rasp and G5 Spring to mind, rely on their spread sheets and considered logic to carry them forward to the reluctant certainty of continuing bad times ahead.

    Kelsey meanwhile is consistent in his belief that the board and the manager are at odds over the way forward, and all will be revealed when our American owner addresses the faithful at the upcoming AGM, announcing his intention to take his profit in Roubles from the Russian who sits in the wings waiting the summons to enter the rarefied atmosphere of the Emirates Boardroom. Not long to wait for that now.

    Three wins in a row however have seen a ripple of hope stir however momentarily, the green shoots of success that cling precariously to the ledges that have appeared on the mountains of melancholy and apathy that have been created by the articulate musings of the AA faithful.

    Saturday looms large in the deepest thoughts of those that dare to dream, that WHL so often the venue for huge Arsenal nights could again bring the red and white Army to its feet, roaring out the ancient challenges and glorying in the spud lust, that has long been the staple diet of of gooners worldwide.

    I think it will happen and I dare you to join me in the certain Knowledge that WHL will once again be overcome by the remarkable travelling fans who have carried our banner so proudly and bravely through difficult times of late.
    Come on you Gooners, we are the future, youth will have its say.

  85. RockyLives says:

    “spud lust”
    Love it 🙂

  86. chas says:

    nice report, 26.

    “we’ve only got one” was my MOTM.

    You’re on channel 5 with Stan Collymore, hahahahahaha.


    come back; this blog needs you.

  87. TotalArsenal says:

    Evonne is on holiday, as far as I know. She should be back soon 🙂

    ‘Thurrrrsday night, Channel 5’ muhahaha

  88. Gooner in Exile says:

    RA If I can answer your question I think looking at zonal marking Sagna as a defender must be taking charge of a zone. The responsibility to assist Ox on the short corner was TR7s and later that’s what Szczesny sorted out, grabbing TR7 to send him out to the two man short corner, Olympiacos had a further plan which was to bypass the original player and go to a deeper man. Who should have been picked up by whoever was marshalling the 18 yard box.

    In short they had a well worked set piece plan, which we should have known about and devised a plan beforehand.

  89. Red Arse says:

    Thanks GIE.

    A repeat on Sunday might be problem.

  90. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    550 miles to Stoke and back, then 1 hour 5-a- side . Arshavin come and see a 55 year old put you to shame!
    Expected a draw last night considering the amount of playing time they have had together, so great result.
    I hope we get Walcott,Kos and Klingon back for Spud game, we need their pace, apart from Oxo, that was lacking last night.
    Zonal marking ?, you cant mark space!

  91. Rasp says:

    Dandan @ 7:23, I don’t know where you got the impression I rely on spreadsheets? – not true, I have never claimed that stats tell the whole picture in fact one of my first posts on AA was called “Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies” and was damning of the importance attached to stats.

    I would claim to be as consistant as kelsey in my views.

    GiE, I’m not sure if you are in favour or against ZM. It clearly is complex and relies on the players being repeatedly schooled in order for the necessary discipline to be effective. Apparently the stats (hhrrrmmmppphhh) show that zonal marking is more effective at defending set pieces but not for Arsenal so far I’d say.

  92. oz gunner says:

    AA has lost a yard of pace but we do him no favours (or our left/right backs) by playing him on the wing. If he moved centrally his declining pace wouldn’t matter (cesc is slow yet he is flourishing there at Barca) as his passing and shooting game can’t be faultered. Our 4-3-3 leaves us predictable at times, and without Cesc and young jack why not use our next best weapon in AA.

    Agree with Rocky and LG who is to say we will finish mid-table? Besides Cesc we brought in better players and more experience (something we have been crying out for years), yet some think we will struggle for some reason. Once this team gels and we get our two best back we can challenge. I think some people don’t rate our purchases because they aren’t huge names, but does that matter? Look at united, was vidic, chicarito, rapael twins, and so forth big names when they came?no! Just because Arteta is from everton does that make him everton quality? it sure doesn’t (hes been a fish out of water there for years). A bit of time to get used to one another, and a bit of luck our way on the injury front and we have the best squad we’ve had for a few seasons now (we challenged then why can’t we now?)

  93. Gooner in Exile says:

    Rasp, I am in favour of zones, for a couple of reasons.

    1) you should not see a mass of bodies running towards the keeper (defenders and attackers) and defenders “should” be clearing away from goal.

    2) you should be able to effectively cover the danger areas with the best defenders

    3) the keeper should be able to claim a high ball as he is given an area of responsibility.

    However there are some negatives to it that we as a team need to get better at or are deficient in

    1) not enough height when we have the likes of Pong, TR7 and others on the pitch.

    2) it relies on players being responsible and accepting that responsibility to win any ball in their zone.

    Take Songs own goal at BB, no way should a zonal marker be half turned towards his own goal, but also no way should the ball be dropping on his thigh, the man in front (Sagna on that occasion I believe.) should have been heading that ball clear.

    Also with zones you cannot leave them, so when a team takes a short corner the man on the post has to go shut down, if he doesn’t it allows a very easy cross from closer. If a zonal marker goes it leaves a gaping hole where his zone is.

    So in short there are pros and cons but if we can work on it over and over it could become a good system for us, but only when we have Kos, Sag, Merts, Song, RvP/Cham on the pitch. After that we look too short to be zonal marking.

  94. RockyLives says:

    Well said Oz.

  95. pat says:

    “What is undeniable is the fact that we have a team that is weaker than any team since we finished 12th in 1994/5.”

    The end of the season will see if this statement has any merit…

  96. pat says:

    “WHL will once again be overcome by the remarkable travelling fans ”

    Well in DanDan the away support has been fantastic… and well in those loyal away fans! Would be awesome for Mert to get a goal to hear the “weve got a big f****g german” chant… what the hell just sing it anyway!

  97. oz gunner says:

    weaker than the team that had almunia,denilson,gallas and toure in the starting lineup, i think not.

    08/09 Squad
    1 GK Manuel Almunia (2nd vice-captain)
    2 MF Abou Diaby
    3 DF Bacary Sagna
    4 MF Cesc Fàbregas
    5 DF Kolo Touré (vice-captain)
    7 MF Tomáš Rosický
    8 MF Samir Nasri
    9 FW Eduardo
    10 DF William Gallas (captain)
    11 FW Robin van Persie
    12 FW Carlos Vela
    14 FW Theo Walcott
    15 MF Denílson
    16 MF Aaron Ramsey
    17 MF Alexandre Song
    18 DF Mikaël Silvestre
    19 MF Jack Wilshere
    20 DF Johan Djourou
    21 GK Łukasz Fabiański
    22 DF Gaël Clichy
    24 GK Vito Mannone
    25 FW Emmanuel Adebayor
    26 FW Nicklas Bendtner (will he come back????)
    27 DF Emmanuel Eboué
    28 MF Amaury Bischoff
    35 MF Francis Coquelin
    38 DF Jay Emmanuel-Thomas
    39 FW Rui Fonte
    40 MF Kieran Gibbs
    41 DF Gavin Hoyte
    42 MF Henri Lansbury
    43 MF Fran Mérida
    45 DF Håvard Nordtveit
    47 MF Mark Randall
    50 FW Jay Simpson
    56 MF Emmanuel Frimpong

    Now add in:

    The worlds number 1 keeper!!!!
    squidge (dare i say it)
    We challenged then and the squad is better now and more experienced so im sure we can this season, even after a lousy start

  98. oz gunner says:

    bugger i tried to change the colour of the players who have left since then but it didnt work. does html not work on wordpress?

  99. Dandan says:


    It would seem my English is at fault, I thought I had paid you a compliment, by suggesting you used considered logic to reach your conclusions, G5 is your spread sheet man. But there you go .

  100. barumgooner says:

    Nice post 26m, I would though disagree with the ratings for Cham and Ramsay. I think we are seeing a slow and gradual improvement in Chamakh, his strength on the ball and his confidence is growing and I thought he constantly battled and harrassed the defenders giving them no time on the ball. I thought Ramsay was excellent for his cameo and raised the whole tempo of the play but maybe thats just my opinion.

  101. oz gunner says:

    @ barum

    agreed, once ramsey came on he gave alot of drive and energy, great cameo i thought. I hope MC is on the up because its alot to leave it all up to RVP, and the unknown quality of Park, bendtner is probably kicking himself at the moment. If he stayed he’d probably be getting all the cup games, and the games RVP is rested

  102. barumgooner says:

    I actually think this is the best squad we have had for a long time its just that we are playing our pre-season now. By xmas we will be solid at the back and dangerous going forward and even with our slow start I think we will challenge for the top spot.

  103. Morning early risers and not yet to bedders

    I’ve just realised that with the upcoming International games we’re going to be looking for posts to see us through the next couple of weeks.

    We’ll be happy to publish posts on stats, players profiles, favourite players from the past and obviously financial stuff following the announcement of our results today – they always need further explanation.

    If you have something you want to write about or get off your chest we’re here for you 🙂

  104. Rasp says:

    Morning dandan, thanks, I don’t like my own conclusions sometimes when I am too logical in my appraisal. I think the difference beteween some supporters attitudes may just be their ability/willingness to step back from their emotional attachment and view cold facts.

  105. Morning bg – i’m wearing that badge too, but we do need Chamakh to start weighing in with a few goals as I’m sure without RvP we’ll crash and burn 😦

  106. oz gunner says:

    Peaches if you’d like i can write one up for the break, maybe the lowest viewed/commented post in the history of AA but i’ll give it a crack

  107. Thanks oz, we’ll all be looking forward to it. I’ll get Rasp to add some fab pics if you need, email it through when you’re ready 🙂

  108. Rasp – are you still about? Can you put a pic in Rocky’s post please?

  109. Rasp says:

    Morning peaches – I’ll have a look now 🙂

  110. Rasp says:

    OK, done now peaches

  111. kelsey says:

    Morning all.


    Many will have their own slant on this.personally i am not interested in the Colorado Rapids, but I am pleased he likes London .

    I have my own thoughts on this and he isn’t saying anything that any other chairman would say, he backs Wenger to the hilt, but he doesn’t feel the need to put his own money into the club, but he wants to stop Usmanov getting more shares.

    In a word BULLSHIT

  112. kelsey says:

    I have to go out now but would love to hear your thoughts on this, though i respect there is a new post due in an hour

  113. oz gunner says:

    cheers for the link kelsey, i’ll give it a read.

  114. Gooner in Exile says:

    For me he is talking a lot of sense. Covers all things from Arsene, Cesc and Nasri, also Usmanov and his company’s history in doing business a certain way.

    But he says he is in it for the Long Term, he mentions his admiration for a Unique club and Tradition, for me that shows an understanding of the club and it’s history that we can all recognise, but the comment I like the most that a few fans could do with adhering too…

    “A wise man was asked, ‘If you had your life to live over what would you do differently?’ He said, ‘The thing I look back on that robbed my life of the joy I had was worrying about things that never happened’. I try not to worry too much because I think that is good advice. Having said that, you are always concerned.”

  115. I’m sorry GiE, I’m with kelsey on this. Kroenke knows nothing about football and less about Arsenal. To me he’s a fool who has been sold a football club and has no idea what to do with it now. He has the utmost respect for Arsene Wenger – and why wouldn’t he have, the rest of the board would make sure of that.

    He may have liked the honour amongst the board who put themselves into lock-down when he was introduced by David Dein, he may even have made a gentlemans agreement with Danny Fizsman towards the end of his life.

    He’s not at Arsenal for the love of football or Arsenal ……. sorry 😦

  116. When David Dein spoke did you ever think it was scripted for the media?

    Kroenke will say whatever the PR dictates he should say.

  117. evonne says:

    Morning all,
    If Kroenke is to be believed, we have done well, owned by a guy that genuinly loves the club and has its best interest at heart.
    I like the bit about Billy Bean, good to know that his idol is our Boss

    GiE – Kroenke read Mark Twain’s “I’ve suffered a great many catastrophies in my life. Most of them never happened”

  118. Dandan says:

    GIE you pinched the quote I wa going to use, very good article, now we can sit back and watch the negatives flow from those who.

    A) Don’t believe that football is a business.
    B) You can’t trust the Yanks.
    C) He would say that wouldn’t he
    D) Told you so he isn’t going to spend any of his money.
    E) That’s it, we are stuck on a downhill path. Because he is not a football man.
    F) He does not give a Monkeys about Arsenal it just another stock in his portfolio,

    Forget the stability and a proper business plan, forget the fact that he and the manager both appear to sing from the same hymn sheet,
    Give him no credit for being the biggest owner in world sport, just get out there spend, spend, spend. Or better still get a new manager who will. LOL

  119. oz gunner says:

    agreed peaches, these days people and players are so well trained in PR that they just say what makes everyone happy. Kroenke and Gaz are experts in it.

  120. evonne says:

    Peaches – I don’t think he is a fool, or doesn’t know what to do with Arsenal. Come on, even if he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the box, he has enough brains around him not to make such mistake. Also, that would make Usmanov a fool too and I can quite assure you that he aint one.

  121. Red Arse says:

    Peaches, I am with you and Kelsey, on this. And good morning all. 🙂

    GIE is also correct that there is nothing wrong with what Kroenke is saying. But it does read like a PR script, and he has shown bugger all interest in Arsenal and probably would not know the names of our players.

    He is a money man, which is fine, but a football guy? No way.

  122. oz gunner says:

    @ Dandan

    so you’re putting everyone who doesn’t go along with the article in the same pigeon hole? Most who don’t agree want stability for the club both financially and on the field, but would rather a more involved owner (david dein-esque), as opposed to a absentee owner who knows little about the game, and is just going with the flow

  123. evonne says:

    Thank God he is not a football man. Look at Abramovitch who thinks himself an authority on footballing matters and meddling in managers’ business. No, it is better that he leaves the football part in very capable hands of Arsene

  124. oz gunner says:

    welcome back evonne, enjoy ur holiday?

  125. Red Arse says:

    Excellent Kelsey, 🙂

    You have got Friday off to an excellent brew of animated discussion and a a little piquant humbug!

  126. Rasp says:

    Morning again,

    New post …….

  127. evonne says:

    hi oz, it was a family affair rather than holiday, but it was nice, thank you.

    It was reported in the Polish press that Szczesny when asked about Fabianski’s whereabouts replied that he is cutting the grass on the training grass, there is nothing else for him to do. Can this be true???

  128. Dandan says:

    .No Oz all I did was to list the constantly regurgitated replies to any positive that comes out of the club by discontented fans, not all those fans agree with all I listed, but many would identify with one or more.

    The biggest problem that emotive fans have is that cannot come to terms with the fact that football is a business and like many Multinational companies the top man worldwide leaves the day to day running of the club the local management and only attends the main board meetings. Ivan and Arsene are Arsenal; Stan is the owner outlining his philosophy

  129. gunnern5 says:

    In reality most CEOs understand the financial aspects of their business more than the product side. Typically, at least in North America, the top men surround themselves with experts in the various business disciplines.

    Personally I happy with Kroenke sticking to what he understands and leaving the football to the experts.

    After all who was it said – “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”

  130. Anonse Radom says:

    Anonse Radom…

    […]Work in progress – Arsenal go marching on « Arsenal Arsenal[…]…

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