Our Squad – Paddling Pool or Diving Pool

Anyone who has seen my comments for any reasonable period will know there are two things that annoy me, navel gazing and regurgitation of “facts” which have no underlying substance….actually make that three things….and Tony Pulis.

So the latest complaint from many a Gooner is that our squad is not deep enough, now we are seeing a few injuries we are also seeing a few cracks appear. I know we wouldn’t be football fans if we didn’t react to situations at our club emotionally, but I have two questions, are we really that weak in depth, and if we are that weak, are we any worse off than the other contenders fighting on four fronts? (well in effect three fronts for Chelsea and Man Utd and just the two for City).

Please understand I am not for one second saying we have the best starting eleven or the best players but in terms of our back up (squad) players I ask you to look at the other teams and ask would you really take any of their second and third choices over ours.

In the Capital One Cup a week or so back Chelsea started with Cahill and Luiz at centre backs, surely the Capital One Cup is not the height of their ambition that they played these two by choice, they also started Mata and played him for 120 minutes, so that was three regular league starters in their line up, United fielded two very inexperienced young defenders at centre half, surely their squad is deeper than that? So were Chelsea really keen on the Capital One Trophy or did they have no other options, as for United did they really not care enough to field the youngsters or is their squad not as deep after all?

So with nothing better to do with my time I headed to wiki and put all the squads into a spreadsheet to compare each position side by side.

I have included Liverpool squad below not because I think they are contenders but purely and simply because I really like to laugh at what they have become, as Rocky pointed out yesterday its always good to look for positives and in my opinion if that doesn’t put a smile on your face the next best thing to do is laugh at the misfortune of others.

This is a club that swept all before them in the 80’s, won the Champions League less than a decade ago but have now slipped out of the reckoning in most major competitions, I have yet to see a broken Liver Bird splashed on the back page of the tabloids, or Dippers in Crisis headline that this fall from grace surely deserves. (Okay thats four things that annoy me).

Where better to start than goalkeepers:

So looking at that list is their any keeper who you think is better than our 2nd and 3rd choices? Perhaps the only team that does is Spurs (off to wash my mouth). The constant question from people disappointed by our custodians is “why can’t we buy someone like Schwarzer as cover?”, my question is why has no one else? Lets be honest City can have any player they want but they signed Richard Wright as cover when Stuart Taylor hung up his gloves, why don’t keepers want to go and play second fiddle? Because keepers want to play, they expect to play, if they are number one at a club they can have the plaudits even if the team in front of them is not that good, they can’t get plaudits on the bench, they lose international spots by being on the bench, they don’t like sitting on the bench.

On to the full backs:

I rest my case

Centre backs:

Now it becomes clear why Chelsea started Luiz and Cahill, with no Terry (due to suspension) and Ivanovic their only viable option at right back they have no cover at Centre Back, an injury to either of the remaining two and who knows who they will play at Centre Back, Man Utd due to injuries to Vidic, Jones and Smalling, could not risk their two first choice centre backs before our visit to Old Trafford (admittedly if they had known we were going to turn up and play like big girls blouses they might have) so were left with no other option than to play two inexperienced youngsters, we on the other hand had the spare capacity to field two experienced centre backs in the Capital One Cup (not that it did us many favours).

Midfield:

Obviously we all know Arsene likes a midfielder so we must have the most players in this area.

Compared to the other teams I do not think the depth looks that bad, however here is where the obvious issue of injury raises its ugly but familiar head, presently without Diaby and Rosicky, but we can arguably cope with two injuries in this area of the pitch. Look at Chelsea and I’m not sure you could say the same, United would end up fielding Giggs and Scholes week in week out. City, Spurs and Liverpool all have inexperienced players in waiting that I am not sure their managers would like to utilise regularly.

Forwards:

Obviously the split between midfielders and forwards is subjective but if we assume everyone uses a 4-3-3 of sorts this was the best way to split up the squads.

Again looking at the list of talent across the squads, perhaps only United go as deep as us, there is also an argument that says the players they have got will make more impact on a game. Chelsea without doubt have two of the best forwards in the league in Mata and Hazard, but injury to either and they don’t look any better off.

And finally the strikers:

Now this is our weakest area on the pitch, thankfully we only play with one striker, and in some matches we haven’t even fielded them instead choosing to use some forwards in their place.

In reality however only United and City have more depth than us, and I don’t think Liverpool, Chelsea or Spurs can promote a striker from their forward line where as we do at least have that option.

So in summary do you still think the squad is not deep enough? I expect the answer to that question is still yes, the question that should be asked though is:

Is the squad shallower than our nearest rivals?

For me it isn’t, the difference between the teams is the starting elevens, Chelsea and City have invested many millions to achieve a very good first 15 players, but they have limited themselves further down the pecking order, especially as they ready themselves for FFP. Any significant injuries or suspensions and they will struggle.

Perhaps this is the one area where we are quite literally weaker, not in the amount of players or the quality of player but in physical strength, we seem to suffer injuries far more frequently than the other competing sides, City hardly suffered an injury of note last season they are a physically strong team, those that come from outside the Premier League are physically strong, the ones from within the Premier League conditioned for battle already, perhaps with the exception of Silva.

So Paddling Pool or Olympic Diving Pool?

(In my defence I wrote this post after Reading and before Old Trafford, but it fits the bill of “Be positive about Arsenal Week” as started by Rocky yesterday).

Gooner in Exile

108 Responses to Our Squad – Paddling Pool or Diving Pool

  1. kelsey says:

    GIE,

    Firstly you must have spent a lot of time to compose this post, and for that I thank you.

    If this is “Be positive about Arsenal Week” I am not the right person to comment too much as I was going to partly cover some of the things you have written in a post later on in the week. I hope you understand 🙂

  2. Gunner-Mac says:

    Good post,
    On paper our squad does look like it can/should match the squads of the top three.
    But the problem we face is the lack of motivation/passion in our team play.This is Arsene’s responsibility and he has ignored/failed to address this for YEARS now.

  3. Loved the post Richard
    At the beginning of the season people from all quarters were boasting of our strength in depth going in to this season. I was one of them and i still think we do have a good squad.
    My gripe is system, tactics and playing players out of position.
    Our system is very offensive and relies on scoring more goals than we concede. Having premiership forward newbies in our starting line up was always going to be risky, therefore the system should have been changed to suit the personnel. Group that with losing RVC, Theo’s contract and Gervinhos will he wont he style, and it reveals an unstable offensive ship.
    The defence should have stepped up, but it is letting us down again, failing where before it was bailed out by a better offence.
    A massive fail was not having better strength in depth in GK line up, Brad Friedel should have been acquired at all costs.

  4. Rasp says:

    Thanks GiE, a well researched and presented piece – particularly apposite since we can expect to be without players against the spuds due to injury or late return/exhaustion due to the internationals.

    I agree with G-M, we lack the passion/urgency/motivation that should make these players who are good enough gel into a team.

    We are short up front and I think the idea that we are an attacking team is out of date. We are a probing possession team – but we are not deadly in the final third (particularly now without RvP) and still slow play down when we have the chance to counter. As you say, AW loves his midfielders, but it is the lack of movement in the midfield that is one of our biggest problems.

  5. MickyDidIt89 says:

    GiE,
    “In my defence” !!!
    Blimey, none required. That is some serious homework you have done. A really great well thought out post. Thank you very much.
    Difficult one to repond to as you have covered everything. From your graphic, you rightly point out that the strikers is the weakest area, however, I would argue that Podolski should be in that category, which makes it look a whole lot stronger.
    On a different subject, I’ve just read through earlier comments, and saw yours about arsenal.com having a gossip column.
    In the name of all that’s holy, that’s terrible, and I’m off to investigate right now. I’m confident that, like you, I will follow up the ghastly revelation with a very stiff email of my own.

  6. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Rasp,
    I agree with all of that.
    On the occasion that we have opposition defences on the backfoot or retreat, we immediately slow the game down to a snails pace, and in doing so, completely lose the initiative.

  7. richie says:

    @GIE that’s a great article with sound graphic’s and even better analysis. This should be flashed up every time someone comes up with either of the old chestnuts; No strength in depth, or we don’t have real quality. Actually there’s a 3rd much repeated “fact” that’s too often regurgitated “we need and old experienced GK” that should automatically cause this article to appear out of the fog like “Nelly”(she of the loch). Strangely it answers your pet hate and mine. Make a statement with no facts to back it up and repeat it often, and suddenly it’s accepted as the truth. I should keep telling everyone I’ve still got a wonderful head of hair, it’s a least as true as some of the “facts” posted and reposted on the blog.

  8. Wonderman says:

    Excellent post GIE, and one I feel compelled to contribute to.I agree whole heartedly with Gunner Mac and Rasp. I think our biggest problem has been producing motivated performances in line with claimed aspirations. Too many times individuals or pockets of players have simply not turned up. I also believe the managements 70 min substitution policy which they seem to stick to irrespective of what is going on on the pitch has made us appear almost impotent at times. A recent example would be Santos remaining on the pitch for the entire game against Shalke when he was clearly struggling/ being targeted.

  9. chas says:

    Cheers, GIE, a fine post.

    I think your conclusion is correct that the Arsenal squad isn’t swimming in the shallow end of the talent pool.

    The players do seem to be under-performing at the moment though, and Arsene doesn’t seem to have a clue what’s wrong and how to fix it.

    However, there were some green shoots of recovery in the Fulham draw in that we started to create chances again and also began to play to our new French centre forward’s strengths.

    @peaches (from the last post),

    You said your expectations are lower which means the highs are not so high. Surely it’s the other way around.
    If you expect to win every game, then even a win only just satisfies your expectations.

    Remember how we felt at 2-0 down to the spuds in February (10 points behind), expectations at that point were at rock-bottom. That’s why the high was so enormous once the comeback was complete.

  10. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Chas,
    Hopefully, on the expectation:satisfaction scaleometer, I’m in for one hell of a good time, as I think we are going to lose the next three to Spuds h, Everton a and Villa a
    🙂

  11. Big Raddy says:

    GIE. Great work. I am happy with the squad though it will be improved by a couple of quality signing in Jan. (as if …..)

  12. Big Raddy says:

    3 Spurs players pull out of England squad with hamstring problems. Hodgson must get so frustrated. They all looked fine at MC.

  13. richie says:

    @Peaches Help me out please;
    You made a couple of statements last post reposted below;

    “Take this with a pinch of salt ………
    Fiszman chose Kroenke because of values and a feud with Dein”.
    “It’s when they come out with things like Fiszman chose Kroenke because of a feud with Dein that they devalue their standing – they don’t know that and I know that it’s not true ……”

    Are you saying the altercation between Danny Fiz and David Dein, whereby DD tried to bring Kroenke in without first clearing it with the other board members didn’t happen? Are you saying Danny Fiz wasn’t instrumental in have DD removed as a member of the board? Are you also saying that in a fit of rage at being slung off the board, DD didn’t seek to revenge himself on the board by selling out his shares to the biggest slim ball he knew?

    If you’ve got the inside track give the rest of us a heads up. Or does everyone else know something I don’t? Am I a day late and a dollar short again?

  14. ritchie – just emailed you

  15. kelsey says:

    Well I for one think we need not an old but older number one keeper.

  16. Sav from Australia says:

    Thanks for the post. It was really indepth. Arsenal’s squad seems pretty well balanced, all things considered.

  17. Red Arse says:

    GIE,

    A tremendous Post which I defy anyone not to enjoy and savour.

    The effort, knowledge and research you have put into that is deserving of the highest praise! 🙂

    Congrats too, either to you again, or Rasp and Peaches for the terrific schedules that are so easy to read and understand!! 🙂

    You are probably aware that I am reluctant, to say the least, to write Posts, and the truth is, I am slightly ashamed to do so.
    Not for me the time and effort needed to research the topic or to carefully construct the essay so that it all hangs together well.
    I simply do not have the patience or the temperament.

    No, when I write the only limiting factor is my speed of typing, the writing itself is simply an extension of my speech, and flows in exactly the same disorganized way that I would converse about football in a pub, for example.

    The result does not deserve to be described as a Post, especially when measured against the great stuff to be found on here from so many excellent authors!

    Thanks, again! 🙂

  18. Adrian says:

    You can have a squad full of talented players but it wouldn’t matter much the minute the players start to stamp their names on the injury list instead of the goalscorers sheet. Without a doubt Arsenal has got to be the club with the one of the most number of injuries at any given time. I honestly can’t remember the last time we had any fewer than 3 players injured at the same time. Players such as Diaby and Rosicky whose injuries seem to haunt them time after time aren’t making the situation any better.

    Something definitely has to be done about this. Surely luck couldn’t be the only thing to be blamed for our long injury list every single time. Is it the training regime? Is it true that perhaps is isn’t as up to par in terms of physicality as claimed by some ex-players? Or perhaps the current regime isn’t best suited for our players? Wenger might want to take a look at this. What about the medical team? Are they really performing to the best of their abilities?

    Injuries will no doubt happen to every club, its just that Arsenal seems to always have the longest injury list with many recurring injuries at any given time. Surely this has to be looked into as “bad luck” cannot be blamed all the time.

  19. Adrian says:

    By the way, just to shed some interesting perspective on Walcott and the impact he has made so far.

    https://twitter.com/Artekkers/status/267665666801287168

  20. Gooner In Exile says:

    Afternoon all, well I must admit the comments have been surprisingly positive, then again if the headline had read “Best Squad ever” we may have had a few more hits 🙂

    I agree with what others have said re motivation, I also feel that we need to factor in injuries when we criticise the club for not paying the “stars” big bucks. Merge our injury record and Chavs squad the result would be frightening if we were supporting that team. So are we just really unlucky or is there something fundamentally wrong with our approach to training/matches. One or two serious injuries can be expected but also covered for, we seemto suffer lots of little niggles that take players out for 4 weeks and then when back someone else is out.

  21. GoonerB says:

    Excellent post GIE and raises some very good points. I totally agree with you and always have felt that we currently do not lack strength in depth. Although this should be a big thumbs up on the be a positive gooner week it unfortunately then raises other questions which for me are more concerning. I apologise in advance GIE for using your positive vibes of a post to highlight some negatives, but there is a big question of, if we indeed do have good strength in depth, then why are we falling so far behind the rivals that don’t actually have a stronger squad? In many ways it would be easier if the reason was because of a lack of squad depth that could just be sorted out with some simple transfers in and out, because the alternative answers are probably more worrying and difficult to see a solution to with our current set-up.

    It may be that, as you say, we don’t have as strong a first 11 as our main rivals. I am not sure however that I can entirely believe that. I think the players you have listed above should allow us to field a starting 11 that can be the equal of any of Chelsea, Utd and Citeh. I could agree that we are maybe 1 top goal-scorer light but the potential acquisition of that missing player raises further questions in that AW only wants to play with 1 striker and support that striker with attacking midfielders centrally and wide. I personally don’t see Podolski as a wide player anyway, and think of him as either a central number 10 or possibly number 9. He with Giroud are international strikers with good striking statistics prior to joining us. Walcott is showing increasingly a central strikers instincts and wants to play there but is still played as a wing forward. Arshavin for me still looks like he can still offer something and is likely more a classic number 10 / withdrawn striker, where he has always wanted to play, but is still played as a wing forward. It seems we do actually have potential options through the middle but haven’t explored them yet, so for me it is hard to see how another striker can make a huge difference if we continue in our current set-up.

    I tend to agree with Jonathan from earlier that it is more to do with our tactics, system and playing players out of position. Maybe GunnerMac and Rasp are right that we seem to also lack some motivation and effort, but at times I don’t always think it is a lack of effort but more a disjointedness and lack of cohesion. If I look at the players that AW seems to be linked with there seems to be a heavy bias towards multi-functional attacking players that possibly could be considered a striker, but could be a winger, wing-forward or central attacking midfielder. I have often thought, can we just not buy someone who is a specialist in one area.

    Take Hernandez at Utd. He doesn’t look a very Arsenal type of player to me, and is unlikely to be able to cover a multitude of positions, but the lad scores goals. Fergie seems to realise that his team always has a chance, even when not playing well, if he has players who know how to score, and more importantly plays maybe 2 or even 3 goal-scorers together at times, either at the start or later on, to rescue a game.

    I often feel when we are buying a certain player that we already have 2-3 players of the same type and that we needed a different type of player to balance the squad out. For me we always seem to be un-balanced and top heavy in certain types of players that Arsene seems to favour. It is obviously just my opinion, but what if the problems are more to do with systems, tactics and not playing players in their best positions. This is unfortunately then a problem which is intrinsic to the manager and his vision of the team. For that to change the manager would need to change his approach in both the types of players he buys and the positions and systems he employs them in, so the question is will Arsene change in this way?

    As I say I may be wide of the mark and it may have nothing to do with this and we may buy 2-3 players in January that will allow us to play the favoured 4-3-3 system and remain with our current defensive strategies and still improve to a level where we can challenge for top honours again. I hope that this is the case but as I said, I am sorry to be slightly more on the negative side, but I can’t see that happening and if it does start to become more apparant that it is our system and approach that is at fault, and the manager will not change that approach, then what is the answer?

  22. Big Raddy says:

    What is much overlooked is just who AW tried to sign in summer.

    Julio Caesar, who went to QPR, and Sahin at Liverpool.

    What does that tell us about AW’s opinion about his squad and the areas he feels need strengthening ? It tells us that he identifies the same weaknesses that we do – but he did so pre-season.

  23. GoonerB says:

    You may be right with that Raddy. Julio Caesar would indicate he wasn’t sure about our keepers which many fans aren’t. I am not so sure about Sahin. Again he would have left me wondering whether we had just brought in a type of player that we were already well covered for. If he had come to us I can’t help but think we would have looked more top-heavy in certain departments.

  24. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Adrian
    That makes Theo worth three times as much as Hazard.
    Quick Arsene, sign him up before he gets wind of this.

  25. GunnerN5 says:

    Here are the stats for the 2011/12 team injuries.
    SI= Significant Injury
    LD = Lost Days
    LP = Final League Position.

    It’s interesting to note that the team with the least injuries finished first but positions two through five were the four teams with the worst injury records.

    Looks to me like complaining about injuries and complaining about squad depth are both red herrings that create a lot of press but little realism.

    Having been around for 65 seasons I’ve seen it all and a great deal of it was pure crap and agonizing to watch.

    In my less than humble opinion the worst Wenger teams play more attractive football than most of the teams I’ve watched.It should also be remembered that we have only won trophies in 24 of our 110 seasons.

    …………….. SI… LD LP
    Man U ……… 39… 1681… 2
    Spurs ……..… 36… 1450… 4
    Arsenal …..… 28… 1343… 3
    Newcastle ..… 27… 1258… 5
    Fulham ……… 33… 1245… 9
    QPR ………… 19… 1105… 17
    Bolton …….… 15… 1054… 18
    Norwich ….… 14… 968… 12
    Sunderland… 22… 956… 13
    WBA ……..… 24… 868… 11
    Aston Villa .… 21… 806… 16
    Blackburn ..… 20… 801… 19
    Liverpool …… 15… 794… 8
    Swansea …… 12… 759… 10
    Everton …..… 21… 716… 7
    Wolves …..… 18… 690… 20
    Stoke …….… 14… 557… 14
    Wigan ……… 11… 474… 15
    Chelsea ….… 13… 356… 6
    Man C ……… 7… 186… 1

  26. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Raddy,
    I suppose trying to sign Julio Caesar tells us Arsene felt he needed a leader on the pitch.
    I know, coat.

  27. Big Raddy says:

    Micky 🙂

    Gn5. Good to see you back. Hope all is well over the pond.

    GoonerB. Your comment is very good and should have been a post. Like you I do not accept it is lack of effort – one could never accuse Vermaelen of giving anything less than 100%. Its is lack of form from players who have in the past been very reliable.

    Kos, TV and Arteta are struggling for form. With a novice GK behimd them the defence looks shaky. Things will change because “form is temporary, class is permanent”

  28. jnyc says:

    Good analysis GIE. What you show is basically why i say so often that “i like our squad” . I do feel we have nice depth and talent except for strikers. But i do get frustrated also at the way Arsene rotates ( or doesnt rotate ) our players. Considering the injury problems we often have, i think we need to mix in the backups more to avoid some injuries, and keep everyone fresher.

  29. GunnerN5 says:

    BR:

    All is well over here. Winter is starting to take a foothold, it snowed last night so I’ve made an appointment to have my snow tires installed.

  30. Rasp says:

    I’ve been quoted a couple of times today and I’d just like to clarify that I did NOT say lack of effort … I said “we lack the passion/urgency/motivation”

  31. neamman says:

    I think our squad is good but injuries decimate it. Can we really count Rosicky, Gibbs and Diaby? When have they played more than 6-7 games on the trot over the past 3 years. We need to be looking at why do these players get injured. Is it a weakness? Age? Gerard was a sick note when he first came at Liverpool. On balance we dont have the best squad IMHO but its 2nd or 3rd.

  32. slimgingergooner says:

    GN5,

    Whilst interesting, that list doesn’t show us anything.

    For example, it doesn’t show us the squad sizes, which ‘big’ players were injured for what games, or wether multiple players from the same position were injured at one time.

    These are the factors that can ruin a season, and looking back at last season, you can see why we struggled as we did.

  33. Gooner In Exile says:

    SGG Thanks for making the point I was going to when I read GN5 list 🙂 i think a month without any fullbacks is worse than a season without 1 midfielder, but missed days would probably be more for the midfielder.

  34. slimgingergooner says:

    GiE,

    Espescially if that midfielder is crap! 🙂

    Sorry GN5, I didn’t mean to dismiss the table, as I have been looking for some similar information over last 5 years to see if injuries have played a huge part in our unsuccessful period. I don’t think it’s necassarily something you can get from a table, I think it’s just general knowledge from having supported the team that we have probably had the worst run of injuries out of any team in the last 5 years.

    However, I still maintain that Wengers inability to get the best out of fringe players compared to, say, SAF is one of the reasons we have struggled. Man U have had dreadful injuries too in recent times, but Fergie is willing to adjust to cover them, whereas Wenger just seems to expect Djourou to be as good as Vermaelen, or Denilson to be as good as Fabregas, or Chamakh to be as good as RVP, for example.

  35. Soccerisma says:

    On paper, Arsenal squad is good enough , perhaps even better than United but the problem is something you all are aware of.

    When you sell your best player every year, this will happen, youd have to start from scratch again, Took City 4 years to win it, United are better because theyve always had that mix for few years, not many new comers , no big departures every year.

    On the other hand, Wenger opts to replace them with inferior players, one of the main reason of United’s success over gunners is that they buy through and throguh strikers, through and through wingers that settle but Arsene Wenger looks for players that provide best ROI in terms of Cash and sadly not Trophies.

  36. GoonerB says:

    Apologies Rasp, I was one that translated your comment to lack of effort. One of those days where I had a bit to say but was a bit time limited so didn’t pay enough attention. Good post from GIE though and it raises some good issues.

  37. Gooner In Exile says:

    GoonerB your comments are as good as many posts on here, and always welcome.

  38. Big Raddy says:

    AW also tried to buy Dempsey and Schwarzer. These are not rumours.

    Given AW sold Song before trying to sign Sahin (or at least simultaneously), the sale of Song appears purely financial. We get the €15m and use it to help pay for a loan player on bigger wages, but sadly (or otherwise) he chose to go to Liverpool.

    So….. my question is this. Will Mr Wenger buy a DM this Jan to replace Song? He knows the frailty of TR and AD – if we get half a season out of both together it would be a medical triumph. Ramsey is no Flamini, JW cannot be given such responsibilty on his phased return and Arteta is already suffering because there is no rotation in his position.

  39. RockyLives says:

    GiE
    Very interesting Post.
    You make a good case for the strength of our squad depth and rightly point out that our first 11 is perhaps not as strong as the top three.

    Reading through the comparisons I was struck by the fact that we have very good players who are currently less than the sum of their parts.

    Which brings us back to motivation, or form, or psychology…

  40. LB says:

    Thanks for the post GIE

    I think the long list of midfield players clearly shows why Wenger was so quick to take the offer from Barcelona for Song and nothing to do with the silly rumour, in my opinion, that he was disruptive.

  41. Big Raddy says:

    LB. But why try to buy Sahin? A very similar player to Song

  42. RockyLives says:

    Late last night in my hotel room I finally got round to watching the Fulham game.

    Just a few thoughts from it…

    Giroud is a really good player.

    Arteta had nowhere near as bad a game as I was expecting, having read several comments about it being his “worst game in an Arsenal shirt.”

    I also saw a few people giving low marks to Santi. I thought he was absolutely outstanding and a contender (with OG) for MoTM. I saw someone in comments picked Santi as MoTM (LB, possibly?) and I think he saw it correctly. Some of his attacking passes were amazing.

    Mannone was at fault for the first goal (he should have claimed it, particularly as none of the defenders seemed to think it necessary to get goal side of Fulham’s tallest and most dangerous attacker in the six yard box).

    But I didn’t really feel he was to blame for the second, even though the header came from a long way out. It was just a really good header that beat him because of the height of the bounce and the fact it was right inside the post.

    Overall we did not look as bad as I was expecting. It was more that we didn’t look that much better than Fulham, which may be the worrying part.

  43. Red Arse says:

    Rocky, 🙂

    You said:
    “I was struck by the fact that we have very good players who are currently less than the sum of their parts.”

    So why are they singing;

    Got my hair. Got my head
    Got my brains, Got my ears
    Got my eyes, Got my nose
    Got my mouth, I got my smile

    I got my tongue, Got my chin
    Got my neck, Got my legs
    Got my heart, Got my soul
    Got my back, I got my sex

    I got my arms, got my hands, got my fingers,
    got my legs, got my feet, got my toes,
    got my liver, got my blood..

    I’ve got life!

    So who is right? 😆

  44. chas says:

    Here’s that Santi/Arteta conversation with proper subtitles.
    (presumably made a few weeks ago)

  45. Red Arse says:

    Chas,

    I saw it a couple of weeks ago, in two parts!

    Really excellent, especially when Santi says he has not bought a property (in London) yet because it was not worth it, as he would be off to City soon — with any luck!! 🙂

  46. Red Arse says:

    Rocky,

    I did not think Arteta played well, but he wasn’t that bad either, however, others may have thought his poor defending in giving away the penalty and then taking a poor penalty probably helped lose us the match.

    These things happen.

  47. chas says:

    RA,
    Obviously you know that that was a Talksport spoof and this is the real one.

  48. chas says:

    This caught my eye, too.
    Interesting if he could be added to that list of midfielders before the end of the season.

  49. Red Arse says:

    Hi GN5, 🙂

    Good to see you back with your trade mark statistics.

    Even without trying to interpret the data I was really surprised at just how many clubs are badly affected by injuries during the season.

    We are all a bit insular at looking at things only from an Arsenal perspective, which is understandable, but however the stats are served up it does they do knock a hole in the ‘if only’ we did not have any injuries.

    Do you have any way of analyzing the stats in time slices?

    Certainly having serious injuries at the same time for players playing in the same or similar positions would require some weighting when considering the effect on the teams’ prospects, such as our calamitous problems at full back.

  50. Red Arse says:

    It might well be obvious, Chas, but I did not know, I was so busy laughing I was well and truly hooked!

    I thought the other one was simply part deux! 😳

    Hands up — I think TS deserve credit for a really clever vid. I don’t speak Spanish so synching the lips the way they did, and Santi’s wicked laughter and gestures were A class! 🙂

  51. Big Raddy says:

    RA. That it was… A class and very funny.

    chas. Eisfeld has a big future at AFC. It will be Ramsey who suffers.

  52. chas says:

    Haha, RA. I’m glad I checked.

    I fancy us to win 5-4 on Saturday.

  53. chas says:

    Micky @11:01,
    You always expect us to lose deep down, don’t you?

    BR,
    To answer your question from yesterday, we used to stand about here. Just under the stand but not far in.
    http://twitpic.com/bcy0j9/full

  54. Red Arse says:

    Hi BR, 🙂

    I am desperate for someone else to own up to being gulled by TS!! 🙂

    Being ‘outed’ by Chas has done nothing for my street cred!!! 😀

  55. Red Arse says:

    Chas/BR,

    I told you yesterday about my heroics in protecting my then girlfriend from rampaging Norsemen — oh OK then, Whammer fans, but as I have been outed once today already, I might as well go the whole hog and tell you of my other North Bank story.

    Coming down towards the Tube station after a very big game, my much younger cousin who was visiting from NY, and myself were making zero progress due to the crush. My cousin at the time was about 16, tall and skinny, and I pushed him in front of me, and applied a little muscle to propel us forward.

    I soon realized that he was being squished. I grabbed him and pushed him behind me and turned to yell, “hold on and don’t let go” and he held on to my leather belt which was holding my jeans up and my stomach in.

    At first we made little progress, but suddenly my cousin seemed to have found his second wind and with it massive strength.
    Instead of slowing me down he was pushing me forward at an enormous speed as we zigged and zagged uncontrollably thru the crowd, past the big gates and right into Gillespie Road.

    Suddenly, a mounted copper yelled at me “what the fook are you doing?” or something like that and I turned slightly to gesture at my cousin to explain we were trying to join the line for the Tube.

    Suddenly the pressure from behind and the forward momentum stopped — as did my voice as I realized I was the point man in a huge conga which everyone we passed had joined on, and then instantly dispersed at the sight of the copper and hurried to the back of the tube line, or on up Gillespie Road.

    Embarrassing? Yes, but I am also proud, that somewhere on a CCTV tape in the Arsenal vaults, I can be seen leading the biggest conga ever seen at Highbury!! 🙂

  56. Big Raddy says:

    chas. That is an excellent viewing spot.

    I left England the year before the opening of the Emirates and as such have yet to create a proper relationship with the place.

    Wish I had enough money to buy a flat at Highbury, the site of some of the best days of my life.

  57. GoonerB says:

    RA, I want to see that footage. Chas make it happen.

  58. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Thanks GiE.

    I agree with your premise about our squad strength. the only qualification i would make is what i beleive seperates us from the top 3 and that is the lack of genuine world class talents in forward positions. If you were to stick in another top striker and winger in this team then we would win the league

    The clubs spine is there, what yet is not is the ability to hold on to its most prized possesions and the procurment of a couple of world class forwards. Ferguson, Mancini and Demateo are not super men. thu are just lucky jerks that have had financial resourses to play Football manager with transfers and keep there squads together.

    In a couple of years that will be us and then we will stuff the lot of them.

  59. Red Arse says:

    GoonerB,

    You weren’t one of the buggers who hitched a ride, were you? 😀

  60. Red Arse says:

    Good stuff, Terrynutkins! 🙂

  61. Gooner In Exile says:

    Chas I used to stand further round to the left (as you look at the picture) when I went with my Dad until he allowed me to go right in the middle at the back, and we’d meet on the corner on the way out.

    Remember playing Chelsea once and suddenly there was a shout of “Chelsea Chelsea Chelsea” by a group of the away support on the corner of the ground, the first response by those around me and myself was to start to move away from the noise, then once the police had surrounded them we broke in to a chorus of “come over ‘ere if you think you’re ‘ard enuff”

    Those were the days 🙂

  62. GoonerB says:

    RA, I was so jealous that I wasn’t the one privileged enough to be holding your belt.

    TMHT, I hope you are right. I would agree that we are maybe 2 high quality players from a potential title winning squad. If we got them, however, we would still need the current management and coaching staff to blend the team into the most effective unit they can, and that would have to be across a whole season taking into account injuries, suspensions, e.t.c, and not just when we have most of our best players out there. That is something that, although I hate to admit it, I feel the red hootered, horse loving Muscadet drinker has got down to a fine art.

  63. RockyLives says:

    Chas
    I used to stand in that area.
    I may even have hugged you!

  64. LB says:

    Chas

    Just behind where you used to stand you can see a stantion, in that there was a hollow triangle where I used to climb up and sit. It was the best view in the North Bank.

    The funny thing is that on occasions, the police would tell me to come down although less than I thought they would but when they did I always used to stand in your circle. Never, never on the other side of the North Bank or further down, it was only in that area.

  65. LB says:

    I have finally found my positive Arsenal thought of the week.

    THE NORTH BANK, HIGHBURY.

    Happy days.

  66. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    WERE THE CLOCK END, WERE THE CLOCK END, WERE THE CLOCK END HIGHBURY

  67. glic says:

    I can only admire you GIE for such a excellent detailed post and all I can offer is that a lot of things look good on paper, doing it on the pitch is another thing. This is where Manu are a cut above the rest, regularly they are scorned as ” not being that great “, but then do the “walking” .

    chas
    I used to stand in that area.
    I may have peed up your leg !. hahaha

  68. Big Raddy says:

    glic. We would never stand in the area up the left hand topside (looking at the pitch).. My friends told me it was full of “Cottagers”.

    It was years later that I realised he wasn’t talking about Fulham fans

  69. Big Raddy says:

    The police have dropped the investigation into Clattenburg. The FA are likely to follow suit.

    How do you think they will treat Chelsea bearing in mind they are litiganous and wealthy?

    Where is 26?

  70. GoonerB says:

    Glic, you weren’t in RA’s congo also were you. I am sure I remember someone complaining that the fellow behind them had peed on their leg.

  71. Cottagers huh …… you boys sure had fun 😉

  72. LB says:

    Rocky

    That was a nice little match summary. I did call Cazorla MOTM but I was not the only one, Rasp sang his praises soon after the match.

    I also agree with your final thought that we really did not look that much better than Fulham, if at all. I think we probably all secretly feared this but that was a conformation that many of us would have prefered not to have had.

    Lastly, I know this is be positive week but I worry about Giroud, I know he works hard, has the right attitude but everytime I watch him play I can help but think that talent wise I am watching a French Andy Carroll.

  73. Big mistake, I’ve opened a bottle of a very nice Merlot so expect my comments to go downhill from here 😉

    Great post GiE, I read it last night when it came in. Isn’t one of our problems that our first team can’t compete with the current top three because it isn’t good enough? I believe it is but it’s just not clicking at the moment. I’ve talked about radar’s not being connected and I think one of the problems is that this is quite a new squad and they just don’t know each other well enough yet.

  74. LB – wash your mouth, he’s going to be much better than Andy Carroll although I can see where you’re coming from. His is a very unArsenal like role …….. not role actually, it’s how he plays. I wish someone would get closer to him for goal kicks because he gets his head on everything and then there’s no-one there to pick up the 2nd ball (Rasp 🙂 )

  75. Lots of mad gooners on twitter hoping for a spud win on Saturday so AW gets the sack – where have they been, do they think the owners care about a victory over the swamp dwellers? They are surely deluded.

  76. Its a sad state of affairs Peaches, no matter what you think of the current incumbent how could anyone wish the team they support to lose, and worse still lose to the cretins from N17…… oh i just figured it out, they didn’t much support the team in the first place.

    As for Giroud LB I reckon he is a bit more than Carroll, for one I think his movement is much better, I don’t know if you saw the stat tweeted on the weekend by Orbinho but it was something like of Giroud’s 21 league goals last season only 2 were with his head.

    He has a fierce shot and is actually strong on the ball, I reckon more Drogba than Carroll (maybe not as much pace though)

  77. Big Raddy says:

    How could any Arsenal fan want us to lose on Saturday?

    They need punching out or better still castration.

  78. Raddy you have been on fine form today discussing those swamp dwellers, are you psyching yourself up for the big pre match?

  79. chas says:

    peaches.
    I can’t believe you follow anybody that could say such a thing. Mind you twitter is full of idiots. Difficult to avoid I suppose.

  80. Rasp says:

    This is GiE’s Prem predictor for all 20 Prem teams as of game 11 ….

  81. richie says:

    @GIE@9:00 that’s why I said to Slim earlier there is no convincing me that these bods are Gonners. I’ve never come across a Gooner anywhere in the World that’s said to me I hope we lose today! “Because”? This is an internet phenomenon, hidden away with their PC or LT they can safely mouth off and stay concealed away in anonymity. They’d need more front than Sainsbury’s to blurt out something like that in the Gooner pubs I tend to frequent. I’m might be an old Fuc*er but I’d still get myself nicked chinning someone if they said that to me at the Ems. I’d take them for another spud infiltrator taking liberties and blaspheming in the house of “Dennis” even if “Dennis” did only play his last testimonial game there. It would be too much of a p*ss take for me to take sitting down and believe me I’ve mellowed out plenty with age.

  82. neamman says:

    Arseh#les! First How can they hope we lose and second..to the Spuds??
    Talking about the rare Bad memories of old days on the North Bank I can remember a game against Southampton in the bad days of the late 60s. I think we lost 1-0 and the North Bank was perhaps 75% full. One idiot lit the hair of a long haired guy in front of him. I think most of the hard men then were Mods so they didnt like hippies.
    I also remember a packed game against MU or some big team and a few guys started sexually assaulting a girl. I couldnt see what they were doing but her cries for help broke your heart and none of us could move to help given the crush.

  83. Gooner In Exile says:

    Richie …. I feel quite the same.

    I got criticised in the Emirates for clapping the team off the pitch after we lost to Wigan last year at home.

    “Don’t know why you’re clapping mate, they were shit”

    Maybe it’s just me but I still appreciate the boys that pull on the red and white shirt win lose or draw.

    And at least if I’m always loyal to them and appreciative of what they do I have very right to slag em off when they stab us in the back.

  84. richie says:

    Exactly GIE I’m Old school I don’t like what BSR did but at the same time I still have some regard for the fact that RvP played for my club for 8 years, I can’t help it, it’s inbuilt. He’s lost his sheen of course and my respect for him has been cut by 3/4 but there is nonetheless a quarter still left despite everything. I was raised in an era when there was trouble between supporters inside and out of the ground. We respected our players our managers and our club and we’d stand up for them against anyone who’d dare to slag them off! If the team played like crap (and on that note I’d like to reprint what another N5 boy wrote earlier)*
    We’d all stand as one to clap them off, I guess we hoped to encourage them to improve for the next game. At that time a player like poor old Bendtner would’ve been a firm Gooner favourite not because he was great but because he kept trying, despite failing.

    * “Having been around for 65 seasons I’ve seen it all and a great deal of it was pure crap and agonizing to watch”.
    “In my less than humble opinion the worst Wenger teams play more attractive football than most of the teams I’ve watched.It should also be remembered that we have only won trophies in 24 of our 110 seasons”.

    And I think that sums up the difference between the old supporters and the new “fans”. When you’ve waited 18 years between league titles and you’ve suffered year after year watching your biggest rival (Liverpool) match you then surpass up and keep going. This blip that we are now in doesn’t make us feel like we are useless. In the past “We were crap and we knew we were”.
    You see before 71 Arsenal, Liverpool, Everton and Man U were all on 7 titles apiece. That 71 league title was our 8th making us the most decorated team.

    But in 73 “the Pool” equalled our 8 and then we really suffered, because in the 13 years between 75 & 88 “the Pool” won 9 titles, and Everton 2. In the 18 years between titles we were mostly playing crap. So although we are currently 8 years between league titles, many of us can hold our hands to our hearts and say yeah but in football terms we’ve never had it so good.

  85. MAX says:

    Great writing mate… According to you we have a great squad then why everytime we start season by hoping we will win somethin… Den we keep on loosing and agian a time will come when we will win everything and finish in top4 and we all fans praise arsene and will be very happy saying he is the man he did miracle… But why we forget when we had started the season we were hoping to win but when we start loosing our expectation comes down to finish in top4.. Why always same thing happen to gunners… what is missing…

  86. kelsey says:

    Morning all.
    Nice graphics on the prediction table but I don’t quite understand it.Is projected position 62 points because if it is that would put us 43 points behind Chelsea. Christ that would be a humiliation.

  87. Adrian says:

    Some food for thought. If as some of us say that our squad this season isn’t that far away from the top 3 squad, why is this Arsenal’s worst ever start in the PL and 11 points behind the leaders after just 11 games?

    Like I’ve said, once again we’ve been hit by injuries to the same players (Gibbs, Rosicky, Diaby?). It’s obvious our injury list is dubious and perhaps we’ve all been pinning too much hope on injured players. Don’t say that injuries haven’t been our achilles heel based on some list that doesn’t rank us the worst in terms number of injured players, ask yourself this, which other team in the EPL has suffered the most thanks to injuries the past 5 or 6 seasons? Key players have been injured time and time again, some perhaps unavoidable, but overall this is definitely worth a look into. I am sure most would agree that our league standing would have been better if Gibbs/Rosicky/Diaby were injury free.

    Or could it be that perhaps Wenger has lost his magic touch and couldn’t motivate the squad much any longer? Perhaps he’s just too stubborn and isn’t willing to adapt or change his style of management (i.e Formations, Wage structure). Or perhaps the stories about Wenger and Bould not looking eye to eye have some truth in them?

    Don’t mean to sound like a pessimist, but when some of us claim that this is one of the best squads we have for some time in the beginning of the season and that our squad is as strong as the top 3 and yet we’re so far behind after just 11 games, its evident that there are quite a few problems behind the scenes.

  88. dandan says:

    Some interesting stats from Football Intelligence
    Cost per day for yr: Cup of tea, Costa £1.65; Sky TV £1.57; broadsheet paper inc w/e £1.42; Prem season ticket £1.38; BBC licence fee 40p.

  89. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Morning dandan,
    Very interesting. If nothing else, it highlights what a total rip off the BBC is 🙂

  90. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Cheapest Arsenal ST £3.00 per day.

  91. MickyDidIt89 says:

    North Bank
    We were same height as where Chas stood, but to the left of the left hand upright.
    The list of North Bankers on here is impressively long.
    Maybe that’s the glue and we just don’t know it.

  92. Red Arse says:

    Morning Early Worms, 🙂

  93. Red Arse says:

    Oddly enough, Micky, I was thinking yesterday that statistically, some of us must have unknowingly crossed the paths of each other, at least obliquely, while going to or away from the North Bank, over a given number of years!

  94. LB says:

    Giroud is more Drogba than Carroll………hmmmmm, now there is a thought that had not occurred to me.

  95. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Carrol has a ponytail, so no more comparisons thank you 🙂
    RA, no doubt at all.

  96. MickyDidIt89 says:

    I am increasingly of the thinking that what we lack most is a fit very accurate crosser of the ball from the left.
    Why are quality crossers of the ball so rare?

  97. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All

    GIE. What is wrong with navel gazing?

  98. chas says:

    Greetings, Earthlings.

    Rasp and GIE,
    Like kelsey, the Projected position widget confuses me every time. Could you put a one-off, ‘doesn’t have to be updated’ explanation underneath it, please.

  99. chas says:

    Micky,
    It’s because they don’t use the Roy of the Rovers training methods anymore. I remember that at Melchester Rovers they used to practice landing the ball in a dustbin from corners. Get Santos doing that and we’re sorted. 🙂

  100. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Chas,
    Always take into account that GiE is from the school of most creative accounting. Remember, he said himself, that last seasons didgit engineered us into 3rd, although the same creative process had Pool top 🙂
    Into a meeting. later.

  101. Gooner In Exile says:

    Morning all,

    Micky you now have me picturing Giroud with his current short back and sides but adorning a flowing pony tail. 😀

    Chas, Rasp and I have tried to simplify my method of calculation in one sentence….we can’t.

    So here’s no more than 3 or 4.

    1) Compare 12/13 fixture outcome with 11/12 fixture outcome. (Man Utd away 11/12 Loss, 12/13 Loss = no effect. Norwich Away 11/12 Win, 11/13 Loss = -3 points.)

    2) Apply the swing percentage to remaining unplayed 11/12 fixtures. (12/13 fixtures 16 points, 11/12 fixtures 18 points = -2 points (-11%). Remaining fixtures 11/12 scored 52 points, apply 11% negative swing we will score 46 points from remaining fixtures. 46+16=62 points)

    3) for the sake of the exercise relegated teams replaced as follows Blackburn = West Ham, Bolton = Reading, Wolves = Southampton

    It should remove order of games from the comparison to previous season. Everyone thinks WBA started well this season, but they scored well in the games they have played last season, people think Norwich started badly but they have done better this season than last in like for like results. Same with City.

    But it’s a bit of fun and shouldn’t be taken over seriously.

  102. Gooner In Exile says:

    Micky says
    “The list of North Bankers is impressively long”

    Perhaps that is where the irony and good humour comes from, we all know it was a giggle on the North Bank, I hated having to sit in the Family Enclosure when Mum wanted to come to games, too many moaners in the seats and not enough noise to drown them out and no way of escaping them. Could that be the curse of the Ems?

  103. Gooner In Exile says:

    I would’ve been proud to write this….epic!

    http://www.7amkickoff.com/2012/its-time-for-arsenal-to-get-a-better-billionaire/

  104. chas says:

    GIE,
    I like the Projected position widget.
    I was trying to understand how there were 7 teams projected to get a points total that would see them relegated. That’s all.

    Definitely the curse of all all-seater stadiums is not being able to move position.

  105. kelsey says:

    Did you read that long article posted yesterday about Usmanov. He first made his money by making and selling bin bags…Ah bin bags have i heard that mentioned before on some blogs 🙂

  106. chas says:

    GIE,
    That 7am post is a belter.

    This reply from Tim to a commenter who is offended by the post caught my eye.

    “It’s the same all over with this club, it seems like no one can utter a word about Arsenal without raising it to the level of being both the single most important thing that ever happened and simultaneously iconic of the entire history of Arsenal since the Invincibles.

    Every goal let in is seven years worth of the same goal. Every injury is seven years of Diaby. Every player who plays the ball sideways and misses a tackle is a Denlison. Every foul that doesn’t go our way is proof of the conspiracy. Every dollar in the bank is either Arsenal “saving the very future of the club” or “greed merchants draining the club dry”. Every blog post is either brilliant or utter shit. Every blogger either the best or the worst.

    Every sentence I have written above is complete hyperbole in order to prove my point about hyperbole but every sentence is true.
    The bottom line is that I want MY fucking Arsenal back. I want the games back. I want the joy of watching football back and not having to walk around on eggshells after every game because everyone connected with the club acts like a drunk on the bad end of a six-day bender.
    That was my target. Perhaps I missed.”

  107. Morning all

    New Post ………………..

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