Goodbye to Prima Donna attitudes

Like most pundits and fans I was surprised to see Szczesny dropped for the return leg in Munich, Arsene told us he was mentally tired, less surprising and more welcome was the dropping of Vermaelen who despite being our Captain has been our weak link on too many occasions this season.

Vermaelen has in truth been troubling me with his displays since mid March last season, shirking defensive stability in order to roam forward in to the opposition box (it worked for Newcastle at home but after that he seemed to think it was his new role in the team…QPR away!). This season he has been asked to defend first and in truth he has been found wanting. But is there perhaps a deeper reason?

During this season I have questioned the body language of some of our team, for me there has been a bit too much finger pointing and blame put on other players. This has been done by the experienced and some would say star players in the team, Sagna, Vermaelen, Podolski, Walcott etc. There appeared to be a couple of cliques appearing, some players like BFG, Cazorla and Arteta seemed to straddle the divide.

What we have seen in the last two games is a far greater work ethic from the players, they haven’t appeared to criticise each other but instead worked together to achieve something. Or is it a coincidence that only Walcott from the (maybe my wholly imagined) star player clique was on the pitch. Around him 10 players who were prepared to take responsibility for the whole team.

By all accounts BFG and Arteta when they arrived were surprised at the divided nature of the group at meal times etc, they suggested to the skipper that they do something to change it, judging by the team body language at times this season I would guess we have gone back to how it was before they arrived.

There is something to say for smiling on the pitch (and not just when a goal is scored) it’s one of the things that I used to love about the early Wenger teams, it’s why Cazorla is so likeable, you rarely see him complain about a misplaced pass he just gets on with it.

Whilst Vermaelen, Sagna and co continue to point the finger of blame at others they will surely see the exit door at some time in the future. If so and if they are indeed as up their own backsides as it sometimes appears then its surely a good thing.

Gooner in Exile

75 Responses to Goodbye to Prima Donna attitudes

  1. The American says:

    I must say I haven’t noticed this ‘finger pointing’ as a group thing, but you are undoubtedly right that certain individulas have done so, and the usual rule of thumb applies; ‘the crappier the mistake made by x, the more x blames a team mate’.

    Of course human nature plays a part in this, go to any golf club and watch, because as golf is essentially a solitary game, without team mates to blame for errant shots, the club, the ball, the grass or a hovering ladybird, 50 yards away, will feel the full brunt of someone’s wrath.

    Shades of the ‘It weren’t me Guv, it were ‘im what done it!’.

  2. The American says:

    Sorry — nice Post, GIE ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Big Raddy says:

    GIE. Fine work.

    Do you think Chesney was dropped because he thinks he is Jack the Peanut?

    I have always understood a GK needs huge amounts of self-confidence so it would seem counter-productive.

    As to TV. , Leadership takes many guises. His approach seems to be “first out of the trenches, follow me.” What is clear is that TV’s performances have not been to his very high standards this year. I get the feeling there are off the pitch problems.

    Is there a blame culture on the pitch? It is difficult to assess. I understand why senior players berate their team-mates when mistakes are made – it is an emotional game, and this is their livelihood. It is part of the winning mentality.

    Cliques? We know how they develop ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Good morning to you all,

    I should think that in any group of people consisting of more than say ten, there will inevitably be a tendency for closer relationships to form between various individuals. It is irrational to believe that in a group the size of the Arsenal squad, with such a diversity of personalities, nationalities as well as religions, that some members will not get on with all the others.

    As to the finger pointing, if it is by players such as Sagna and Vermaelen, who are after all the most senior in the squad, then I see nothing wrong as they are entitled to point out the mistakes made by their juniors. It is after all the function of the captain to lead and the function of the senior players to mentor the younger ones.

    As to it being a “good thing” that Sagna and Vermaelen depart I couldn’t disagree more. We just cannot afford to lose quality, experienced players just because they appear to be “up their own backsides”

  5. Big Raddy says:

    Re-post because I love to see a proper Gooner at work ….

  6. Simon says:

    Norfolk Gooner

    I agree, mostly. But what I do disagree with is the way the senior players sometimes have a go at the younger or less experienced. It may be me personally, but I’d rather, “unlucky mate, not the best pass/tackle etc” than “oi! What the f@!# was that!?”

    Also, some players are quick to blame others when it was their poor pass that caused the trouble in the first place, or, as an example, Walcott complaining about a pass that, while not great, with an extra couple of yards, he would have been able to control

  7. Gooner In Exile says:

    Simon you have encapsulated what I was trying to say in two paragraphs ๐Ÿ™‚

    I also think the finger pointing blame affects crowd attitude towards the “offending” player. I see Santi clap the intent that attitude would also be well practised by the fans too, but if the player berates the fans will follow.

  8. Gooner In Exile says:

    Raddy I am not sure on Szczesny, altho I started the post wondering whether he and TV5 may have clashed off pitch?

  9. Double98 says:

    David Seaman
    John Lukic
    Pat Jennings

    Peter Schmeical
    Raymond Van Der Sar

    Packie Bonner

    All exceptional goalkeepers. All Winners.
    Not one of them particulariliy arrogant or over confident. Most of them, meek almost, personality wise (even Van Der Sar who must be the least arrogant dutchman of all time)
    They brought calm, they took consideration and they made decisions rather than reactions. They let mouthy defenders bark, so that when they had to shout people knew it was something to be heard.

    Chesney needs to align his faith in himself with his faith in his abilities as i think they are way out of sync. He thinks he is better than he knows he is.
    If that makes sense.

    He is complacent because he expects things to be easier for him than they are.
    His stats are worse than Almunia’s. His Physical Attributes are far greater. (Strenght, Length, Reactions etc) we have all seen that. But yet while Almunia knew his limitations and played to his strenghts – Ches doesn’t realise his weaknesses. or if he does he thinks his strenghts just out weigh them/.

    Fabianski on the otherhand has just dragged himnself, Unforgiven Like, through a rebuilding process. His two clean sheets (the first right in the Little Bill Munich’s Saloon) coincided with the best defensive displays seen in about 8 years but how much had his presence to do with that? And will those two clean sheets complete the transformation from flappyhandski to the number 1 we al thought he might become.

    Chesney needs to take this knock down and do what Fabianski has – he needs to claw his way back to the number 1 shirt. He needs to tell his dad to butt out because if he doesn’t he will go the way of Bendtner and Bentley and in ten years time he will be playing for Stirling Albion on a pay per game basis, while being remembered for his underpants and how he could have been great.

    Pat Jennings, John Lukic, David Seaman – do you need any better foils?

  10. Rasp says:

    Great post GiE, I agree, team spirit and a high work rate are essential for success whether you’re Barcelona or Scunthorpe. I guess the dynamic of dressing rooms changed when the number of foreign players increased,and language and cultural differences may have led to a degree of separation, but like you, I think it is down to the quality of the individual.

    I like the fact that Gibbs, Jenkinson, The Ox, Aaron Ramsey and Wilshere all signed new contracts at the same time and were clearly happy to do so. We need to see players working for one another on the pitch, not hiding or shirking their collective responsibilites.

  11. Gooner In Exile says:

    Double98 you and I will disagree on Schmeichel but agree on most of the others and would add Shay Given, Shilton and Southall to your list.

    Interesting on TalkShite this morning Shay Given was on and they asked him about Hart and accusations of cockiness there, he mentioned Seaman and advice he had been given that it took Safe Hands 3-400 games to get that “aura”.

  12. Double98 says:

    That “Aura” seems like a guardian angel or something – Seaman was a class act at QPR – i remember seeing him play against us and wished we could sign him. He was a hard worker.

    Schmeical, in that team, was a lamb by comparison – to Keane, Sheringham, Cole, Yorke, Neville etc.
    He certainly never mouthed off unless Ian Wright was about ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Gooner In Exile says:

    I think keeping today is a long way from what it was in the 80’s/90’s.

    If you think about the keepers that used to play for the teams in the top flight there were very few poor ones. A selection of names from my youth, how many of the current crop will be as memorable:

    Bryan Gunn
    Steve Ogrizivic
    Les Sealey
    Nigel Spinks
    Neville Southall
    Chris Woods
    Dave Beasant
    Gary Bailey
    Etc etc

  14. Gooner In Exile says:

    Should say my favourite was Big Nev, it would be true to say I tried to emulate his shape in later years of his career ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Double98 says:

    GIE – i would argue that we analysed players far less than we do now Sky Sports News didn’t show mistake over and over again – Goal Keepers are under a huge spotlight all the time

  16. Gooner In Exile says:

    Maybe so D98 as are refs, can you imagine what we would see in the press today if a ref did what the 71 cup final ref did

  17. Gooner In Exile says:

    Ok ref was Norman Burtenshaw and it seems getting the cup final was something of a redemption, does seen he was a bit of a fan though:

    “At the end of the game Burtenshaw sank to the ground in celebration “pumping his fists towards the heavens”.

    When Arsenal beat Benfica 6-2 a few months later, Burtenshaw’s performance upset the Benfica players so much, they tried to beat him up at the end of the game.”


  18. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Great stuff, and Ill get serious shortly, but in the meantime, and on the subject of smiling, you say: “itโ€™s one of the things that I used to love about the early Wenger teams”
    Does that include Anelka? ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. MickyDidIt89 says:

    I’m sooooo glad you re-posted that ’71 clip.
    I’ve never seen it before, nor have I ever seen anything quite so fantastic on a football pitch.
    Utterly fabulous, thank you very much.

  20. kelsey says:


    Interesting post and i have maintained for two seasons that all is not well behind closed doors at our club.
    I think a lot of it is to do with the wage structure not finger pointing between players.
    Good players don’t suddenly become bad players but vermaelen may have other things on his mind.
    it is feasable that theo is now our highest wage earner and that doesn’t set a good precident amongst some of the other players yet when you look at young jenkinson you would think he would wear the shirt for nothing.
    Keepers are a real enigma.IMO we haven’t had a world class keeper since Seaman, and I am pretty sure that Manninger was the best of the understudies who helped us win the title with Seaman having only one good season left,Manninger was shown the door and lost all confidence

    ,Buying keepers is not one of wenger’s fortes.
    He drops szsney and gives out of contract fabianski the jersey.yet a few years ago people were raving that fabianski would turn out to be world class, then his bottle went.

    This is an extremely serious issue as a back 4 and keeper have to have trust in each other.
    Szsney is young,very cocky,takes a lot of risks, doesn’t distribute well but has time on his side and that’s why i can’t understand why Wenger doesn’t see that and get a mentor.

  21. Gooner In Exile says:

    Kelsey does he need a mentor if he has coaches like Peyton and Roberts in the back room? These two were both good keepers and by all accounts good coaches, so for me the mentor No2 doesn’t really fit.

    Micky Anelka was fine until his brothers got in his ear.

  22. kelsey says:

    Then GIE he isn’t good enough yet to be automatic first choice IMO

  23. Hi Rocky
    If you read this. Sorry I missed you yesterday.I was at the osteopath ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  24. Ian Ure Face says:

    Is BFG the connection between GIE, Joe Corrigan and Neville Southall ?………Big Fat Goalie !. ๐Ÿ˜†

  25. GunnerN5 says:

    Good day all, nice one GIE.

    I dug up our goalie PL stats for 2012/13.

    Szczesney: P19, W10, D5, L4, CS6, S184, GA22
    Mannone: P9, W3, D3, L3, CS3, S93, GA10
    Fabianski: P1, W1, D0, L0, CS1, S7, GA0

    C= Clean sheets
    S= Shots
    GA= Goals allowed.

    So stats wise there is nor a lot to choose between them, so far Fabianski has looked very solid but we have to be cautious in our praise as it’s only a one game PL record.

  26. GN5 interesting stats, are the Shots all on target? If so maybe that is the issue, nearly 10 shots on target per game seems high. Not sure what others allow though.

    Ian Ure no but as they say if the cap fits ๐Ÿ˜€

  27. GunnerN5 says:


    They are for shots faced – so I assume that means on target, but I’m really unsure.

  28. RockyLives says:

    Very interesting Post GiE

    To some degree I think we have not had enough “finger pointing” in recent years. You got the impression that if Denilson was ambling back through MF while the opposition surged forward; or if Song was up front dreaming of being Messi; or if Tommy V was off on one of charges there was no-one giving them an earful.

    That said, it needs to be finely judged. Walcott yelling at Jenks (I remember this from a game last season) did not seem appropriate, what with Jenks just finding his feet in the Prem.

    I hope there are not cliques in the club. Some people are bound to gravitate towards others, but I had the feeling that the worst disruptive elements had been shipped out with the departures of Na$ri, Barndoor, Bendy and the like.

  29. RockyLives says:

    I was on my way to a mate’s leaving party and I walked right past your place, so I stuck my head in.

    Your staff were a jolly bunch.

    Next time I’ll get you!

  30. Gunner N5
    What was the back four for each game?
    Who was the opposition for each game?
    Were the goals conceded saveable / goalie errors?
    Did each goalie instill confidence in his back four?

    Get back with answers ASAP ’cause I need a beer in 20 mins ๐Ÿ™‚

    Love stats, me… can’t live without ’em.

  31. Prince-Purrfect-Poldi says:

    From his national team training camp in Poland, Wojciech Szczesny has requested the following statement to be released on his behalf:
    โ€œI would like to apologise for the comments made by my father which have been used by both Polish and English media.

    “I’d like to make it clear that those were the views and opinions of my father and not mine, and although I respect his views I cannot accept them as I find them disrespectful to the club I truly love.
    โ€œI have been at Arsenal Football Club for seven years now and I have always shown my full respect to the Club, Arsรจne Wenger, all the coaching staff, my team-mates and the fans.
    “I’ve always felt that I received great support from the manager and the fans and I am fully focused on getting back to my best.


  32. Here’s a good stat… 99% of all stats posted on this site are DAFT!

    And that’s official – emailed from PeachesGooner to me just one minute ago.

  33. jnyc says:

    I just dont see szces was doing so badly. Especially considering our defensive mistakes. Just look at the the two goals from tottenham recently. Thats something to keep in mind. Maybe a bit tired, im always for resting guys occasionally anyway. He will be our number one for years to come.

  34. Looks like its a day of admissions!

    “I have made mistakes,โ€™ said Vermaelen.

    โ€˜If I played flawlessly in all the matches I would be Lionel Messi. As a footballer you know you what may happen when you play badly.

    โ€˜Iโ€™m not worried though โ€“ itโ€™s only the last games, I have played about 35 times this season. This is Arsenal, they are not a bad team and there is a lot of competition.”

  35. GunnerN5 says:

    Big Al,

    You may be correct with the 99% but my stats equal the 1%……………?

  36. GunnerN5 says:


    One of the criticisms thrown at Szczesny is that he is is poor at mustering the defense.

  37. GunnerN5
    OK… I give up ๐Ÿ™‚

    Right then… the bars are open, the beer’s cold, the birds are hot, and they’re calling my name…
    Gotta go!

  38. Prince-Purrfect-Poldi says:

    Hi GiE and AA’rs.

    Thanks for the post big boy. I noticed you mention the cliques within the team a while back. It would have been during an away game whilst commenting on this site. I remember clearly because Poldi was a main culpirit with his hands in the air in frustration. Jack was the same in that game, pointing fingers and what not. However, i dont buy it. You could be right, but i think it comes out of frustration and pressure from the fans and our club in general.

    If there are any divides in the team, i fully expect Arsene to identify them and rectify any poison to the team. Arsenal comes first to Wenger, before any player, be it Gallas v Nasri, or TV5 v ???

  39. Prince-Purrfect-Poldi says:

    Dont you just love it when you kill the blog. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
    Aussie boy strikes again

  40. Big Raddy says:

    Talk of Song wanting to return.

    Anyone say Yes?

  41. GunnerN5 says:

    Raddy – I think that’s an old tune,,,,,,,,,,,,,or is it a broken record?

  42. GunnerN5 says:

    PPP, it’s been quiet for several weeks.

  43. TT says:

    Good points about the team’s attitude, GiE. Not sure if the idea of having many “leaders” on the team works well this season. I think under certain nominal leaders, who might not be strong or vocal, such practice can sow discontent, confusion, and perhaps foment cliques?

    The nominal leader might feel undermined and unappreciated if someone else also leads. And what if the various leaders lead in different directions? Which one to follow? Groups might form under various leaders, and the team fails to jell.

    Last year, no matter what contribution Vermaelen, Arteta, Mertesacker, etc. might make, everyone viewed Van Persie as the captain. At the beginning of the season, he wasn’t particularly authoritative, but as the season developed, there was no confusion. Don’t think this season Vermaelen has developed in the same way.

    His uncertain form probably undermined Vermaelen’s position, but one wonders what came first. Or perhaps it is a vicious cycle from which he could not escape.

  44. RockyLives says:

    Just saw this on the BBC website:

    “Arsenal have a 56% win percentage in the Premier League this season when Koscielny plays but only 38% when he doesn’t.”

    It would be interesting to know the equivalent stats for BFG and TV.

  45. RockyLives says:

    From the same source – Nacho Monreal has a 100% success rate with turning shots-on-target into goals since he joined Arsenal…

    …that would be: one shot on target, one goal ๐Ÿ™‚

  46. GunnerN5 says:


    Good points especially : “And what if the various leaders lead in different directions?”

    Maybe they just lead each other astray?
    Sounds like chaos to me.

  47. chas says:

    Nice post, GIE.
    Teamwork is the key to the whole being greater than the some of the parts.
    Neville Southall was a ex-binman – bound to give a both a sense of humility and perspective.

    Nacho’s shot on target. ๐Ÿ™‚

  48. Brill post GIE
    Southall great keeper and a Welshman .
    Bale in training for Wales v Scotland tomorrow ,he can get injured i hope so as Wales can’t qualify.
    And it will ruin SPUDS season Ha
    Much love

  49. Big Raddy says:

    I love the way Monreal picked his spot. Very encouraging for the future.

  50. GunnerN5 says:

    Off out on the grandkids school run………

  51. Gooner In Exile says:

    Bloody interlull!

  52. Big Raddy says:

    Mornnig All

    Sure is quiet. Not even other football news to discuss, apart from which AFC players will get pitch time tonight.

    Let us hope all of them return unscathed.

  53. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Have a really good holiday Raddy. Today, I believe.

  54. Gooner In Exile says:

    There really is sod all to talk about, well of any interest

    West Ham have been given Olympic Stadium, actually that’s a bit of a coup, although they’ll have to pay rent and some costs towards improvement the rest is coming from public coffers, so they’ll be able to increase revenue without spending too much.

    Whilst Coventry face administration due to some complex company arrangements to pay rent on the Ricoh via a property company.

  55. Manthan says:

    Nice Post Man…
    See the emotions of Giourd,Santi and JW in this video..

  56. Big Raddy says:

    Micky. Thank you. Must be close to your birthday……

  57. MickyDidIt89 says:

    10 days ago!
    I’ve assumed it’s lost in the post ๐Ÿ™‚

  58. Big Raddy says:

    Manthan. Good start to the day.

    Looking at the 1st vid, we must hope for a fit Podolski – he can be very important in this team if AW can find his best position.

  59. Big Raddy says:

    Are you sure? I thought it was the 24th!

    I think you are mistaken

  60. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Yes positive, however, I will be accepting nice things up to, and including, the 24th.
    Podolski’s best position…. there’s a post

  61. Big Raddy says:

    Oh sugar. I forgot to cobble together the Ox post ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Better do it now….

  62. The American says:

    Morning, ๐Ÿ™‚

    Micky, will you get a card from the Queen on your birthday? ๐Ÿ™‚

  63. kelsey says:

    Morning all.

    Szsney’s father is a plonker and undermines Arsenal,Wenger and his son.

    Tell me the last time a PL footballer’s father was so forthright.Bedtner’s dad stuck his oar in, but not to that degree.

  64. Big Raddy says:

    Ian Wright?

    Peaches. One in the loading bay….

  65. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Always do, however possibly not the same Queen to which you refer

  66. evonne says:

    Kelsey – you cannot say I didn’t warn you about Szczesny’s father, but even I did not anticipate that he might be stupid enough to ruin his son’s career

    Quietly, quietly Spurs are building the new stadium ๐Ÿ˜ฆ 56k capacity is good, some 5k less than ours; they are to rename Shite Hart Lane to some Quatarie name; won’t be ready for 5 years to the tune to 400m (I think we can safely double that figure).

  67. Manthan says:

    BR, Agree…

    Micky, If we have post for poldi position… It will be nice topic to debate on I can make one if no one have intiated?????

  68. RockyLives says:

    Go for it Manthan!

    And good morning everyone.

    I hope you received my card. It was, amusingly, in the style of a glossy leaflet advertising local pizza delivery.

  69. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Initiate away my loyal subject ๐Ÿ™‚
    You will be rewarded with great wealth and other stuff

  70. MickyDidIt89 says:

    You lie Rocky
    There is no pizza delivery service down here in the woods

  71. Morniing all

    There’s a New Post ……………

  72. Manthan says:

    Micky, RL

    Sure Mate ๐Ÿ˜‰

  73. weedonald says:

    My feeling is that Szcesny spoke to his dad and complained about how he was being handled both playing and training-wise but never thought his dad would mouth off publicly. Obviously Szcesny senior isn’t a big fan of Wenger but so what?
    Wenger has found,(at least lets hope so) someone to truly compete with Szcesny aside from Mannone and that has got to hurt the kid. Fabianski has yet to prove definitively that he can take Arsenal through the run-in without any disasters but for now Woijech needs to kickstart himself to compete against Fab. Not a bad situation to be in, just like Sagna has to compete with Jenks, Gibbs has to compete with Monreal, TV has to be better than the BFG, and Kos has to just keep being great….who could ask for more?

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