Happy Arsenal are the Unfancied, Stealth Team

Sometimes you can’t see the woods for looking at the trees. Over the past few weeks we have all seen MoTD on the BBC or NBC with a veritable smorgasbord of pundits all praising Arsenal’s style of play, yet claiming that there is an inherent fault in our team’s setup which will prevent us from going on to win the league. They have come up with various reasons such as:

  1. Arsenal haven’t played any of the big clubs
  2. Arsenal have lost against the only title contender they have played
  3. Arsenal haven’t played in inclement weather, their foreign players aren’t acclimatised to UK weather and dark nights.
  4. Arsenal haven’t got the depth of team.
  5. Arsenal only have Giroud up front.
  6. Arsenal spent 42M GBP on a midfielder when they needed a defender, a keeper and a striker.
  7. Arsenal have don’t have as much talent as Chelsea.

1. It is not the big clubs that make or break a title race. As Chelsea, Man City and Man Utd have already found out in their first eleven games, the Premier League is littered with landmine games. One false step and BOOM! In recent years Arsenal have lost against Blackburn, Fulham, Swansea, West Brom and Sunderland with a concomitant drop in morale. This season Aston Villa, West Brom, Sunderland and Newcastle have all handed out lessons in humility. So it is not just the title rivals that can cause title contenders a problem. At the same time, Arsenal have done the business at home against two “bigger” teams which is the first order of business when seeking to win the title.

2. Yes we lost. But it was a close run thing, it wasn’t a slaughter. We have 27 games left to put things right (win them all?)

3. Most of our players have a lot of experience of Northern European conditions. Either they have played in Germany where even before the winter break it still gets “F” Cold (that’s f for freezing;^) or they have played in the Premier League for at least a year – Arteta, Cazorla. The YBC (Young British Core) of course also helps. So I don’t feel we are going to as adversely affected by the changes as we have been in previous years.

4-7. We do have a shallow team, the squad is probably 18-20 players at most, but the addition of Ozil has changed the dynamics of the team so that teams have more options they have to cover. His addition to the team also means goalscoring is not the preserve of one player. Look at where the 22 league goals have come from – 10 different players.

When teams focus on any one or two of our players then someone else wriggles free to find time and space that generates a scoring opportunity. The addition of Ozil has also freed up the requirement for Ramsey to get forward every time. This combined with the addition of Flamini means that we now have three players if they are playing in the team, who can fit into the holding midfield…yet another of my beloved triangles.

I could wax lyrical but it is only 11 games and I am not someone who would have the temerity to sing about being the top of the league at this time. The only time it counts is when the trophy is passed over in Red and White ribbons.

All of this pondering leads me to wonder “Are we the team in plain sight”?. The team who no-one outside of Arsenal really believes has more than an outside chance? If it comes true it will be just like Arsenal winning in 88/89 and 97/98. where we were an Arsenal who were a stealth team, unfancied, unloved and not factored into the equation, the rogue element if you will.

Written by N5Artillery

65 Responses to Happy Arsenal are the Unfancied, Stealth Team

  1. Morning all

    Sorry the post is all bunched up, I’ll try and spread it out ……

    N5 Artillery is in New York – I think – so he won’t be a round until later.

  2. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Quality writing. Quality thinking. Thanks very much, Mr Artillery.

    The term “stealth team” is brilliant, and I don’t know how many times I’ve had the radio on in the car and all they talk about is league winners coming from either Russia or The United Arab Emirates 🙂

    Watch out, we may be in camouflage, but here we certainly are.

  3. MickyDidIt89 says:

    I think that with our current squad, and no additions in January, then our chances rest on two factors: luck with injuries, and Arsene rotating intelligently.

  4. Räsp says:

    Thanks N5Artillery and congratulations on an incendiary maiden post 🙂

    I’m always happiest when we are the underdog. Certainly there is an element of anti-Arsenal in the media when we’ve been top of the league for 7 weeks and still very few give us a chance of winning – but as you say, that will just make it all the sweeter when we do.

  5. Dobromir says:

    Its a real pity we got to play Utd when we did, what with game congestion, injuries galore and a virus to boot. Despite all of that we were still the superior team in the second half and hardly got troubled by what is basically their best eleven playing at 100%. So the 3 points dropped are disappointing, but do provide a perspective of Arsenal’s strength this year as a team. A lot will depend of the goal scoring form of Walcott and Podolski when they return. With the type of consistency shown this year and with all other big clubs faltering ever so often i think we are in with a shout for first spot come the end of May. Well hoping anyways.

  6. Räsp says:

    Welcome Dobromir, a very astute view of the game. All you say is true but we don’t want to be seen as making excuses. I have no doubt that as long as we don’t suffer further significant injuries, we will turn the table on them at the Emirates.

  7. Danny says:

    11 games so far not 10 even though we’d like to ignore the last one…..

  8. Räsp says:

    Thanks Danny …… I originate all the statistical widgets down the right hand side of the page so I should have known that 😳

  9. Hi Danny

    I just found an updated version of the post in the emails so I’ve done some editing. Apologies all.

  10. chas says:

    Staying under the radar is fine by me.
    Our invisibility cloak is the perfect stealth mode disguise.

    Those like Shearer are only playing the odds anyway. The light blue oilers and Fulham bus stop chavs have unlimited resources but can only field 11 players at once. The mancs won it last season with a poor side. Why pick a side who haven’t won it for ten years?

    Cautious optimism and a prayer to Dennis every morning.

  11. Hello Everyone! Thank you for your kind words on my debut article.

    @Micky 10:37 I agree with your comment about the squad. There is always some luck involved. Now I wouldn’t be averse to signing a new player irrespective of their position so long as they meet the criteria I proposed in Tuesday’s OG discussion. The PL is a strange animal these days, faster, technical but not as technical, longer but not broken up and more consistently intense. These all mean if you are new to the league it is like taking off at Heathrow on a miserable winter day and landing at noon in Dubai.

    @Dobromir I agree there were some squad issues, but I also don’t mind we played them now. 27 games to go and still top after the defeat so we have room to improve. Personally I think March is the real decider for most teams. We play three of the perceived challengers in that month.

  12. chas says:

    Thanks for the post, btw, N5 Art.

  13. Their main argument is the lack of depth, but they fail to follow it through. If we play badly for the two last months of the year, as they expect, that would mean we’re out of the Champion’s League, then our squad would be enough to focus solely on the Premier League and squad depth wouldn’t be a problem. If we play well enough to stay in the Champion’s League and then be bothered by the number of games, that would mean that we’re still in good position by the end of December and that the squad depth problem isn’t so big as to be un-fixable during the January transfer window. They can’t expect us to win against Marseille and Napoli and lose to Southampton, Cardiff, Hull, WestHam and Newcastle… or they really are dumb ! That guy Hansen (don’t know him, don’t wanna know him) even said that he thought the gunners wouldn’t take defeat well and that it would take them too much time to react. If Aston Villa proved one thing, it’s that he’s wrong.


    Very good post N5 Art

    You are spot on. It is like 89 & 98. Unfancied at the start of the season, but then we take the prize

    I fully expect us top do it. the way we have played recently shows that we are the best side in the league. What excites me more is the fact that this is only the beginning

    I too like the “Stealth Like”. A witness used that term at my trial to describe my movements in the neighbours Shrubbery. A case of mistaken identity of course.

    Others terms included “pants down” and “Rabid facial expression.

  15. jnyc says:

    Good post, i also like that underdog feeling. It may boost our players a bit. But unfortunately, every opposing manager knows how good we are, so most teams will be well prepared for the best team in the league.


  16. @BenjaminR No one ever said Hansen was a balanced individual. I think it was all the heading of a heavy old style ball which has flattened his frontal lobes.

    TMHT 2:15pm – I think this side is a part of a progressive improvement. We are showing more than green shoots of recovery. If this is not the full bloom then it is close. I just hope that the rhododendrons recover from having someone allegedly rummaging around’

    jnyc 2:18pm – Yes managers do know what we are like, but I think they are starting to have to cover too many options. If you have 10 goalscorers and 5 of them you know have the capability from open play, plus the threat at set pieces, it seems we are giving them a multi dimensional puzzle. It used to be just cover their runs behind, they have no set piece threat, or don’t worry Arsenal won’t lump the ball up the field their CF can’t hold it up, Not so much no.

    Unfortunately, my working day is only just starting so I have to go and earn some beans, but I’ll be back a little later on.

  17. NIce piece N5. To issue #1 I’d register the argument that while not a PL team, Dortmund represent a high-enough caliber [artillery pun fully intended] opponent to substantiate our quality against top sides. Especially in the context of how neatly we handled Tottenham, Napoli, and Liverpool at the Grove.

    And while I’m also not into excusing the result on Sunday [that’s for seasons past—this feels like a new Arsenal] I take heart from all of the mitigating factors. United attempted fewer passes in a match at Old Trafford than they have done in 7 years, and they won from the one set piece we conceded all season, which happened to deflect off of RvP’s shoulder as well. Not quite the clinical finish it was made out to be. They chanced it and are being heralded for getting a result with their best performance of the season against one of our worst.

    I think the next run of games will tell us quite a bit, not just because of the opposition but because of the reintroduction of 2 of last seasons top contributors in terms of goals and assists. The future looks good. It looks red and white.

  18. Hi 11 cannons and welcome to AA.

    I agree that the return of Theo and Podolski will definitely improve our ability to score more goals – well I hope so anyway 😉

  19. RA says:

    A very enjoyable Post N5A, good one. 🙂

    I was amused that you listed the reasons some of the pundits (*) have put forward to explain why we will not win anything, and then seem to tacitly agree with them by only disagreeing with point 3. 🙂 And actually, I agree with you. 🙂

    (*) First, let me give you my definition of what constitutes a pundit.
    A pundit is an expert in a specialist subject who is frequently required to give their authoritative opinions to the public.

    Well with Shearer and others of his ilk – that’s the problem right there. He and his journalistic buddies are idiots and not experts, and no one with half a brain ‘requires’ or calls upon them to give us their opinions, except for the equally idiotic TV producers and the media moguls, which means these people have a symbiotic relationship in which idiots spew forth their crap and the TV and media industry feed off it. They are welcome! 🙂

    You have put forward good reasons to explain why the objections they raise are not valid, but frankly sport is not susceptible to abstract logic, and there are any number of examples to show that outsiders or un-fancied individuals, teams or horses frequently beat the odds and win.

    Now what was it Alan Hansen (ex-Liverpool player and ‘pundit’) infamously said about the Manure team who eventually went on and swept all before them? “You can’t win anything with a bunch of kids!”

    Pundit? More like a Plonker!

    [Plonker: British slang to mean someone of limited intelligence!] 🙂

  20. RA says:


    Are you out there?

    What is all this [2:15] about you having a rabbit’s facial expression?

    Explain yourself – or I will tell your Mrs you are hiding in Glic’s cellar! 🙂

  21. Jamie says:

    Hi N5, great post.

    The fact that the so called experts still dont recognise us as title contenders just shows how stupid many of them are.

    It’s unbelievable that our top 2 scorers from last season are injured ans we’ve managed to beat Dortmund and Liverpool and open a 2point lead at the top of the table.
    Just imagine Manu without RVP & Rooney or Chelsea without Mata and Hazard or Shitty without aguero and Silva.
    They keep saying we’ll fold up once we have a small crisis but we are going through one that is big enough to sink a team and we are still TOTL.
    Everybody better watch out after this interlull cos we’ll be back with a bang.

  22. I’ve not had to do any nagging for days …… but all that changes now.

    We’re going to need posts, posts and more posts to take us through until next Friday so if you have any comments that you’re waiting to put on the blog put them all together and write a post.

    Thank you

  23. MickyDidIt89 says:

    N5 Artillery and 11 Cannons

    Simply magnificent names.

    Mr Artillery, you have rumbled that Transplant bloke. To use the word “allegedly” was very wise. The Man is knee deep in law suits.

  24. Big Raddy says:

    N5. Fine way to lose your cherry!

    Like everyone else I think the best way is to work under the invisibility cloak. We can afford to lose away to the big teams as long as we keep picking up away points from teams such as Stoke.

    We shall see how we get on vs S’ton who will give a stern test.

    My dream is that we are 20 points clear at the end of March by which time the media may believe.

  25. @RA 3:56pm thank you for the compliments. Actually in my response to 1., and generally through the piece, what I was hoping to do was to provide reasons why the pundits are wrong and how they are missing some of the biggest contributing factors to title challengers becoming title holders. Don’t worry about English euphemisms or slang, the transplant to the USA hasn’t leached my English vocab 🙂

    @Jamie 6:11pm you make an excellent point. Poldi and Theo coming back will add further firepower. I would add that if goals keep coming the scoresheet doesn’t distinguish where the goal came from. A centre forward’s goal means exactly the same as one by a midfielder or defender.

    @Micky 7:00pm I did mention yesterday I have been lurking on this board for a while. So I have seen, been entertained and imagined witty responses to the Transplantee.

    @Big Raddy 7:24, Southampton will be a test of significance as they play high intensity football with pace and grace. We have won the league with the last kick, by goal difference and by a margin. My fingernails prefer your 20 point view. But whatever the margin winning a trophy always feels good when the final whistle goes. I just feel we are going to give a good account of ourselves this season.

  26. Gööner In Exile says:

    N5 Artillery very nice post which in all honesty deserves more comments.

    I am happy being the underdog in others eyes. But I guess the thing I find strange is how quickly the ranks of internal detractors have been quitened.

  27. evonne says:

    Great post, thanks a lot. We are not exactly the underdogs. some TV pundits would give us no chance whatsoever, whereas others would have us as team with best chance. Ok, the latter are mostly ex Arsenal players, but still.. 🙂

    Also, we may have problems, but so do others, no team is exempt from injuries, bad luck and poor referring, so all in all I doubt very much any other team can easily catch up with us. If anything I’d say it is going to be a few squeeky bums come May

    ta again N5A

  28. Thanks chas, great video 🙂

  29. Overseas bloggers

    Just because we’re all in bed in the uk it doesn’t mean that you can’t chat over night, be daring, put a comment on and hopefully someone will answer you.

  30. Just read Micky and Raddy’s account of the Dortmund game, Fantastic. today’s post is a good one too!

  31. chas says:

  32. MickyDidIt89 says:


    Does Peaches mean she needs posts as of today? I suspect Norfolk has little to report given the Interdull.

    I could pen something.

  33. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Do people who Twitter now, blog less than they used to?

  34. evonne says:

    yes Micky. The king of one-liners and the queen of tattoes are prime examples

  35. MickyDidIt89 says:

    That’ll be GM and Irish 🙂

  36. Gööner In Exile says:

    But GM couldn’t post tweets on here, they would most definitely fail the PeachesMum Test.

    I am always amused by the level of profanity.

  37. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    Shame it has been quiet on the blogs this week – there has been some interesting discussion.

    Chas.10.04 Outstanding and a brilliant start to my day.

    There is some interesting football tonight. Sweden/Portugal with the my fave non-AFC player (Ibra) vs the evil genius of Ronaldo. Ukraine/France with the possibility of OG, Bac and Kos not going to Brazil, which would be a disgrace for a team so packed with talent.

    And England …… yawn (apart from the chance of a glimpse of JW & Gibbs)

  38. Big Raddy says:

    Do I have time for a Tweet account? And what is Instagram?

    There is enough in my day what with satisfying Mrs Raddy, writing on the blog and living the “good life”.

    But if there are advantages to twittering could someone tell me what they are?

  39. MickyDidIt89 says:


    “But if there are advantages to twittering could someone tell me what they are?”

    No 🙂

    Don’t you dare.

  40. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Post sent.

  41. Kamal Ali says:

    I think we’re going to step up a gear when Theo/Ozil and Pod/Ozil get going. The others better watch out!

  42. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Just trying to imagine poor Nofolk engineering a weekly roundup.

    Monday: absolutely nothing happened in the world of any importance.
    Tuesday: absolutely nothing happened in the world of any importance.
    Wednesday: absolutely nothing happened in the world of any importance.

    ………….. 🙂

  43. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Wow, Kamal Ali,

    That is really spooky. I have just written a post saying more or less just that.

  44. Big Raddy says:

    I hope the post is a little longer…

  45. Gööner In Exile says:

    Raddy Instagram is an app that lets you take a photo, apply a filter so it looks better than the phone can take and others follow you in the same way. In reality footballers post pics of their new tattoos and more free clobber.

    I think of Twitter as a news feed and a social commentary feed, the biggest event for that was Olympic Opening Ceremony great as it was like being down the pub watching it with my mates but without us having to organise watching it down the pub with my mates (which is difficult when we live at the four corners of the UK). And that’s when it’s best, when it’s worst it’s “I’m having toast for brekkie”.

  46. evonne says:

    Raddy- I wouldn’t bother if I were you. Majority of tweeters feel the need to tell the world about things that you would probably tell Mrs Raddy. Admittedly you come across some gems, but you’ll be spending half a day looking for those. We have Chas to do the searching for us 🙂

  47. Gööner In Exile says:

    It will be longer but Micky doesn’t do Twitter, whereas Kamal gets it said in 140 characters 🙂

  48. evonne says:

    Peaches – have you read Micky @7:47? How right is he 🙂 Nothing, still nothing.

  49. Gööner In Exile says:

    Evonne how long have you had to wait so far?

  50. evonne says:

    GiE – extra week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is becoming unbearable, poor mum-to-be 😦

  51. evonne says:

    BTW Raddy – I wasn’t implying that the king of one-liners and the queen of tattoos are like any other tweeters; these two have most amazing things to show off, honestly

  52. chas says:


    If there was only twitter and no AA, it would be devastating.
    Twitter is good for posting links to articles, photos and videos.
    For opinion and tactical bollix it’s rubbish as 140 chars are not enough. It’s for the ADHD generation, short, sharp, trite and constantly moving.
    I doubt GoonerB would like it much. 🙂

  53. Big Raddy says:

    GIE. From your description I can live without them. Thank you

    evonne. As you say, we have Chas.

  54. chas says:

    Thiery Ennui – hahaha.


  55. Ben says:

    Mind blowing video Chas (the 10:04,not the 8:39). Thanks ! Gives me goosebumps. Let’s watch it again !

  56. chas says:

    Haha thanks, Ben.
    I like to share if I see something good.
    Sometimes my sense of humour is a little awry, but you’ll have to forgive me.

  57. chas says:

    Heaven knows I’m miserable now……

  58. Ben says:

    I don’t know Chas, when I tried to watch the 8:39 video, it said “Not available in your country”… I guess that’s how special your humor is ; )
    I probably wouldn’t mind.

  59. Morning all – thanks for the post Micky

  60. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Peaches, e mail at Arsenalnuts.

  61. Oh boy, I’m such a lucky editor in chief, I’ve now got a news round up from NG – thank you NG.

    Micky – I’ll use yours tomorrow if that’s ok with you 😉

  62. There’s a New Post ……………….

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